Quinoa – Food of the Health Gods

As mentioned in one of those other posts down there somewhere -waves haphazardly- the health food kick was and has started.

So the second, I suppose if you include Fattoush as being healthy (which I do 90%) recipe Id like to share is a favourite in my household as well, but it’s really good for you. And super tasty. And simple to prepare.

What is Quinoa? Quinoa (pronounced Keen-Wah) is (according to Google)

Noun
  1. A goosefoot (Chenopodium quinoa) found in the Andes, where it was widely cultivated for its edible starchy seeds before the introduction…
  2. The grainlike seeds of this plant, used as food and in the production of alcoholic drinks.

It reminds me of semolina..kind of, in looks when its uncooked. It actually looks like un-coloured hundreds and thousands.

It has a nutty flavour I guess, I’ve honestly never had it on its own so I cant really say. Maybe I will try it..like that…some day >.>
It is gluten-free and very high in protein, fibre, phosphorous, magnesium and iron as well being a source of calcium. This is what it makes it a super food!

I’d love to try out some more quinoa recipes, I will be on a mission to do so in the coming weeks ūüėÄ

Poached Chicken, Broccolini & Pesto Quinoa (gluten-free)
(Delicious Magazine, Issue June 2012 Page 94 – recipe by Phoebe Wood)
Serves 4

Ingredients
1 cup (200gms) quinoa
1 1/2 cups (375ml) gluten-free chicken stock
4 x 170gm chicken breast fillets
2 tbs extra virgin olive oil
1/2 cup (35gms) pepitas (pumpkin seeds)
1 tbs lemon juice
1/3 cup (90gms) gluten-free pesto
1 bunch broccolini, trimmed, blanched

1. Place quinoa and stock into a saucepan over medium heat. Bring to the boil, then cover and simmer for 15 minutes until tender.
Remove from heat and stand, covered, for 5 minutes, then fluff with a fork.
2. Meanwhile, place chicken in a pan of simmering, salted water. Simmer gently for 5 minutes, then remove from heat, cover and stand for 15-20 minutes until cooked through.
Remove from liquid.
3. Heat 1 tbs oil in a small pan over high heat. Add pepitas and season, then cook, stirring, for 1-2 minutes until golden.
4. Shred the chicken and toss in a large bowl with lemon juice and remaining 1 tbs oil.
Season, then add the remaining ingredients and toss to combine. Transfer to a platter and serve.

Nutrition: Obviously high in protein and healthy stuff. 

Quinoa & Poached Chicken 1    Quinoa & Poached Chicken 2

Quinoa & Poached Chicken 3
Tips:
– You don’t have to make this according to the gluten-free ingredients – I’ve honestly never made it that way. Just use normal chicken stock (I’m a tight-ass and use stock cubes) and a normal pesto – I recommend Barilla.
– If your supermarket doesn’t have any broccolini in store, just use broccoli – I’ve done this a couple of times.
– When I made this last night, I used beef stock cause I didn’t realise I’d run out of chicken stock – and it tasted NO different!
– When shredding the chicken, use a couple of forks if it’s still hot – it’s a good idea to let it cool down a bit so you can shred it better with your fingers.
– Use your hands to mix it all together, it works the pesto in better that way. You can also use a bit more than the recommended dose, I tend to use at least half a cup. But be mindful, the mixture may be hot.

Thoughts:
I cooked this when I first received that issue of Delicious. Eric LOVES it. You know they love it when they say to you every week, how about that chicken quinoa thingy?
It’s quite filling, so don’t be deceived – left overs can be heated up so don’t be afraid to put it away. This is a great alternative to a pasta dish and it gives you that same mmm satisfied, comfort food feeling without¬†being bad!

Repeat Offender?
Already is. I went through a stage of it being once a week, but it’s better as a fortnightly or even monthly meal because even good things can get a little boring!

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The Best Chocolate Cake. In The World. Ever.

It was raining. I wanted cake ALL day. I had no icing so after a quick dash to the shop, I was ready to go – but what cake would I make?
Chocolate, of course. I really wanted chocolate cake.

I was still on my mission to find THE best chocolate cake, after all. And after many years of searching, I honestly believe I have found it.

How did I find it, you ask?
Well.

I turned to Google, as I do for just about everything, and keyed in those words, ‘Best Chocolate Cake Recipe’ just as I have done many times before.
I opened a few tabs and after 30 minutes of (impatient) searching, had a look at what I had opened. THREE of these tabs had the very same recipe contained within, all tried with minor changes, but all with the same title and referring back to each other in some way.
I thought gee. That cant be a coincidence, can it? Could this really be THE best chocolate cake recipe?

Let me share with you this marvellous recipe, with my own minor tweaks.

The Best Chocolate Cake
(found at I Am Baker, Lulu The Baker & Bronnie Bakes, shown here with my tweaks)

Ingredients

1 3/4 cups self-raising flour
1 3/4 caster sugar
3/4 cups cocoa powder
1/2 tsp baking powder
1/2 tsp salt
1 cup buttermilk
1/2 vegetable oil (I used extra light olive oil)
2 extra large eggs
1 tsp vanilla essence
1 cup freshly brewed hot coffee (I used Moccona Instant)

1. Preheat oven to 180¬įC/356¬įF. Grease and line a large (mine was 13″ x 9″) cake pan (or two smaller 8″ cake pans).
2. Sift the flour, sugar, cocoa, baking powder and salt into the bowl and mix until combined.
3. In another bowl, combined the buttermilk, oil, eggs and vanilla.
4. Using an electric mixer on low speed, slowly add the wet ingredients to the dry ingredients. With the mixer still on low, add the coffee and stir just to combine.
Pour the mixture into prepared pans and bake for 35-40 minutes, or until a knife or skewer inserted comes out clean.
5. Cool in pan for 30 minutes, then turn onto a cooling rack to cool completely (if desired).

Nutrition: Chocolate >.<

Best Chocolate Cake 1   Best Chocolate Cake 2

Best Chocolate Cake 3   Best Chocolate Cake 4

Best Chocolate Cake 5

Tips:
– Choose a thin or slightly runnier than usual icing. This cake is so soft that a standard icing pulls it apart. You can see I chose the wrong kind of icing >.>
– In the large pan, 40 minutes was bang on perfect.
– As mentioned above, I used Olive oil (as I had no other on hand) and it was fine – I would probably recommend the extra light though, just so that the flavour doesn’t overpower the chocolate!
– Don’t skimp on the coffee. I saw someone recommended a substitute which I’m sure would work fine. Next time I will test this theory with something I have in my pantry called Ecco which is an ‘Instant cereal beverage naturally free of¬†caffeine’ and calls itself ‘The¬†caffeine¬†free drink for modern families’ LOL (I’m only lolling because this was always in my pantry as a child, as our house was a¬†caffeine-free zone, but that makes this drink very much NOT modern, in my opinion XD)

Thoughts:
-wipes crumbs from face- Oh dear. Honestly? THE BEST CHOCOLATE CAKE. EVER. IN THE WORLD. EVER.
It’s so soft! SOOOOOOOOO soft! And..tasty. And. Wow. This reminds me very much of a cake my mum used to make when I was a child, probably the same chocolate cake recipe she still uses (why dont I have that one? GOOD QUESTION.) I love the replacing of butter with oil in a cake, it comes out so much more moist and keeps without drying quickly.
Seriously, if you need a go-to chocolate cake recipe like I did, you have found it. Bake it today and tell me I was lying!

Repeat Offender?
I’m not even going to dignify this question with a response -continues nomming-

Australia Day – Food, Of course!

Australia Day was/is January 26th. This year it fell on a Saturday, so the public holiday fell on the Monday (28th) making it a lovely long weekend!

Although I am of mixed Islander/Australian decent, I was born and raised here and I’m as Aussie as they come particularly when it comes to Australian tradition.
I also like to put my own special mix into things because lets face it, sometimes tradition can be boring.

This year, I decided we would eat lamb as per tradition (we had some lovely lamb sausages), but would accompany that with a massive bowl of Fattoush.

What is Fattoush? No, it is not a fat toosh -wiggles butt-

Fattoush is a traditional Lebanese bread salad. In Australia we have a huge Lebanese community, I will admit that I was only introduced to proper, good Lebanese cuisine when I moved to Sydney (where I believe the biggest Lebanese community is?) by my better half. He was raised with a Lebanese babysitter who fattened him up on oh so tasty dishes such as Fattoush, Tabouli,  Kibbeh and Kofta.

In this house, Fattoush is like…chocolate cake.

I did a brief survey of a few of my many international friends and found that none of them had heard of these dishes. So I thought I would share this with you!

Fattoush

Ingredients
2 large pieces of pitta bread
1 tbs olive oil
2 Lebanese cucumbers, sliced thinly
3-4 medium tomatoes, sliced thinly
3 green onions (shallots), sliced thinly
1 medium green capsicum, chopped finely
1 cup coarsely chopped fresh flat-leaf parsley
1/4 cup coarsely chopped fresh mint leaves
1 cup coarsely chopped fresh baby rocket leaves
2 tbs olive oil, extra
1/4 cup (60ml) lemon juice
1 clove garlic, crushed

1. Pre-heat oven to 180¬įC/356¬įF.
Brush pitta bread both sides with olive oil and place on an oven tray side by side. Toast these in the oven for 10-15 minutes, or until theyre crispy.
Set aside to cool.
2. In a large bowl, combine cucumber, tomato, opnion, capsicum, mint and parsley.
3. In a smaller bowl, combine extra olive oil with the lemon juice and the garlic and sit aside until ready to serve.
4. Just before serving, break up pitta bread into small pieces. Add bread to the salad, and then drizzle with the oil/lemon combo (use it all).
5. Toss and let sit for a minute or two, then serve.

Nutrition: Aside from the pitta bread, this dish is ALL gold. A little Pitta never hurt anyone!

Fattoush

Tips:
– I like to keep my tomato on the chunky side, Im not a fan of super thinly sliced tomato. It gets mushy too quickly and this salad is all about texture and chunk. I pretty much cut it all chunky, except for the shallots.
– Dont be shy with the lemon juice – I tend to use closer to a third of a cup. Also, dont be shy with the garlic – I LOVE garlic (thankfully, so does Eric) and I always use 2-3 cloves in this dish.
– The pitta bread doesnt need to be in small pieces, just grab it and snap and crumble away. Bigger pieces are great for scooping.
– Eat it ALL up. This doesnt keep well due to the bread (no one likes soggy bread). You can adjust the quantities of the ingredients accordingly.

Thoughts:
The first time I had this, my eyes popped out of my head. The rocket is the hero of this dish, in my opinion – I mean, of course the crunchy pitta bread is a WINNER, but the flavour of the rocket sets everything else off.
When we have this, the meat on our plates tends to be forgotten until the end because the Fattoush is just so damn good. Its true om-nom-nom food.
I only ever serve this with a basic meat – sausages or a some grilled chicken breast. Its too filling!

Repeat Offender?
What do you think?! LOL Four years and counting. If I ever end up on death row with one last meal, this will be the first thing I ask for!

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Of course, no Australia Day would be complete without a traditional Aussie treat. At Christmas time, the Pavlova is the sweet tradition but at this time of the year, we tend to go in search for cakey goodness.

Again, after asking many of my friends if they had heard of this, they all failed the test and answered with a no. So allow me to introduce, Lamingtons!

I remember when I was a kid, they would always have Lamington Drives for fund raising stuff in school, etc. Lamingtons were always present at school fetes as well.

Lamingtons were said to have been invented here, and Im quite certain we have enough proof of that, but of course some other country always tries to steal our thunder XD
Note: I have to share this with you as it is a hilarious statement (taken from the Wiki):¬†Ironically Lord Lamington was believed to have hated the dessert cakes that had been named in his honour, referring to them as “those bloody poofy woolly biscuits”.

Lamingtons
(taken from the January/February 2013 edition of the free Coles Magazine)

Ingredients
125g unsalted butter
1/4 cup caster sugar
1 tsp vanilla essence
2 eggs
1 1/4 cups sifted self-raising flour
3/4 cup milk

Icing

2 cups icing sugar
1/2 cup cocoa powder
20g butter
3/4 cup boiling water
1 1/4 cups dessicated coconut
1 1/4 cups shredded coconut

1. Preheat oven to 180¬įC/356¬įF. Grease and line a 20cm square cake pan with baking paper.
2. Using an electric mixer, beat butter and caster sugar together until pale and creamy.
Add vanilla essence and beat until combined. Add eggs, one at a time, beating well after each addition.
3. Fold through the flour and milk alternately, starting and ending with the flour. Pour into prepared pan, smoothing the top with a spatula.
Cook for 30-35 minutes, until a skewer inserted comes out clean. Turn onto a wire rack to cool.
4. To make the icing, sifter together the icing sugar and the cocoa powder in a bowl. Add the butter and boiling water and stir until smooth.
5. Cut cake into 16 squares. Place the coconut into a bowl and lightly mix them together.
6. Working with one square at a time, use 2 spoons to hold cake and dip into icing mixture, coat all over allowing the excess to drip off, then place in coconut and turn to coat all over.
Place lamington on a wire rack to set. Repeat with remaining cake pieces.

Nutrition: Cmon. Don’t make me lie to you.

Lamington 1 Lamington 2 Lamington 3

Lamington 4  Lamington 5

Lamington 7  Lamington 6

Lamington 8

Lamington 9

Lamington 10

 

Tips:
– You will need patience. I don’t have much of that, but what I did have available for the day, I saved up for the moment of dipping and rolling.
– The icing mixture may seem too thin – don’t worry, its not. Don’t make the mistake I did by adding more icing sugar >.> If its too thick, the cake will begin to fall apart.
– Roll each piece well in the coconut, the more the merrier. This helps with the icing setting.
– I didn’t trust the cake to not ooze through (or something!) the wire rack, so I sat mine on top baking paper on the rack. They set totally fine this way, and my rack stayed clean (less washing up!).
– You can serve these cut in the middle, spread with jam and cream – I’ve never been fond of that version. They get too sickly. You could also add a touch of lemon juice to the mixture for a light lemony flavour.
– Put these in the fridge for at least 1/2 hour before serving them, so that the icing sets nicely.

Thoughts:
Oh, man. These were GOOD. Its actually been quite some time since I ate a lamington, and these were the bomb-diggity. The cake was PERFECTLY fluffy and golden and the icing was firm. If you’re really clever, you can do two of these in a sitting but be warned, you may be left feeling like a glutton!

Repeat Offender:
Definitely, but I’m trying to make it like a twice a year repeat offender >.>