Thursday, 27 March 2014

GF Almond 'Paleo' Bread with 60 Degree Egg and Smoked Salmon

I was searching for a savoury recipe to use up my almond pulp from my almond milk and stumbled across this recipe by Sarah Wilson which seems to have a bit of a cult following. I was intrigued by this 'bread' as i'd never made anything quite like it. I wasn't quite sure how almond meal, arrowroot, eggs and leaveners could end up with bread.

Thursday, 20 March 2014

Scones with Homemade Cultured Butter

I hate cream. Never liked the stuff so I am one of those weird people who much prefer butter on scones.  After eating some amazing cultured butter at The Royal Mail Hotel I thought i'd have a go at making it. When you make butter, you produce buttermilk, so scones followed.

Wednesday, 19 March 2014

Homemade Almond Milk

I've previously ranted about almond milk and my dislike of the misleading advertising comparing almond milk with cow's milk. Personally I dislike the flavour of the UHT almond milk, however I decided to have a go making fresh milk to see if there was a difference.

Making almond milk is really simple. Soak 1 cup of raw almonds in water overnight then drain. Place in a Thermomix or high-powered blender with 3 cups water, 2 medjool dates and a splash of vanilla extract and blend for at least a minute or until smooth.

Pour into muslin or a chux (or something called a nut bag? Sounds rude) to strain out all the fibre. Squeeze out as much milk as possible and voila! Almond milk!

Almond pulp

This was a bit of a lightbulb moment - fresh almond milk tastes AMAZING! It's nutty and creamy and has a great mouthfeel. Now I understand what people are raving about. Don't be duped however, this is no cow's milk alternative as it doesn't contain the calcium or protein that cow's milk does but nonetheless it tastes great! The other bonus is that the leftover almond pulp can be used in baking, muesli and smoothies as it is almond meal. If you are going to use it as almond meal, you'll need to dry it out in a slow oven. If not using immediately, pop it in the freezer so it doesn't go rancid.

 Sarah xx

Sunday, 16 March 2014

Buckini Crumbed Fish with Kale Fritters

Buckini and macadamia crumbed flathead with kale fritters

I am slightly addicted to buckinis at the moment. Buckinis are activated buckwheat kernals ie buckwheat that has been dehydrated causing it to have a delicious crunchy texture and nutty taste. Despite its name, buckwheat is gluten free. The most common use for these little nuggets is in sweet dishes for example in muesli or crumbles, however I decided to go savoury this time.

Wednesday, 12 March 2014

The BEST Cookie Recipe Ever!!! (and a bonus GF muesli biscuit)

Left: GF Muesli Biscuit
Back: Choc Chip & M&M Cookie
Right: Salted Peanut, Pretzel & Chocolate Cookie
Big call, I know but everyone who eats these cookies raves about them.  It is such a versatile recipe that you can add any flavours you fancy. Just as a bonus I've added a GF biscuit recipe at the end (yes, I know the ones on the plate above have now been contaminated with gluten.)

Monday, 10 March 2014

Baked Beetroot and Apple Soup

I love farmers markets! Driving through country Victoria I stumbled across a market and of course I had to stop and stock up on some fresh produce. Considering it is now Autumn, there were root vegies, brassicas,  apples, pears and the last of the stone fruit.

Sunday, 9 March 2014

Pan-Fried Salmon with Textures of Beetroot (and why you should K.I.S.S.)

Too much food!
This is what happens when:
a) I visit a farmers market and get a little too excited by the produce
b) I visit a beautiful restaurant and get a little too inspired (i.e. overambitious) 

Friday, 7 March 2014

The Royal Mail Hotel, Dunkeld

The Royal Mail Hotel, Dunkeld
Time to spoil myself! Despite visiting Dunkeld multiple times a year, I've never indulged in The Royal Mail Hotel's degustation. The bar and bistro menus are both great (and fancy!)- but it was time to test what the chef can really do. Last year a new chef (Robin Wickens) took over from the acclaimed Dan Hunter who moved onto Brae at Birregurra and I was intrigued as to what would become of the Royal Mail Hotel. The Royal Mail Hotel prides itself on using fresh produce, predominately from their own kitchen gardens or sourced from local provedores. The menu is seasonal and the produce is the star.

First impression - service. The sommelier was friendly yet professional and was able to answer all my questions regarding food and wine. He also managed to make dining for one a less awkward experience! He gave me some fabulous recommendations regarding local wines - the Syrah from Engima near Dunkeld was beautiful! The wine list was an absolute tome - over 100 pages, so it was lovely to have someone to help!

There are two menu options at the restaurant, an omnivore degustation and a vegetarian degustation, either can be matched with wines and were able to be adapted for dietary requirements or preferences. I went with the 8 course vegetarian degustation.

Here is what followed over the next two and a half hours....

Amuse Bouche - Exploding Beetroot, Carraway and Vodka
Served warm, this bursting amuse bouche could have been a disaster weren't it for the Sommelier warning me to put the entire spoon in my mouth at once! I can just imagine a dainty eater nibbling the edge and having beetroot explode all over their clothes! Taste-wise it was fairly simple, but the theatre of eating it made up for the flavour.
Alphabet Soup

The drab photo of this consomme is the exact opposite of the flavour of this zingy little broth. It came out as a sheet of parmesan gel with piped basil letters in a bowl. The tomato consomme was then poured over resulting in a fun dish to eat/slurp. I wish I knew how to turn tomatoes into such a fantastic, umami-rich broth. The flavour was stunning!

Confit Garlic Risotto
I must admit I was immediately disappointed when I saw risotto on the menu. BORING was my initial thought - the lazy restaurant dish to cater for all the gluten intolerant and vegetarians in the world. Thankfully, this was one of the best risottos i've eaten. Full of different elements of garlic culminating in a textural explosion of garlic! Confit, crumbed and fried, dehydrated, garlic chives, garlic flowers, it was an homage to garlic and it was absolutely delicious!
Beetroot and Horseradish with Pumpernickel Puree
The second beetroot dish of the night, luckily it is one of my favourite vegies! When a restaurant prides itself on using seasonal produce from the garden, you have to accept that some things will feature twice.  Similar to the garlic showcase that was the risotto, this was an ode to beetroot - raw, pickled, cooked, leaves and pureed. All brought together with a beautiful pumpernickel puree.

I loved the puree so much that I used the remnants of my bread to scrape every last bit! The breads presented were all made in house and numbered three - a potato bread, chive sourdough and a beautiful blackened raisin and fennel bread. All served with salty cultured butter.

Tomato, Basil, Pecorino, Gazpacho
Now this is what to make with the glut of tomatoes in the garden! So simple, yet delicious. A selection of raw heirloom tomatoes, with fresh green and purple basil leaves, pecorino shavings and a beautiful light gazpacho puree/mousse.

Brassicas, Cauliflower Egg, Wash Rind Cheese
The final savoury course - a showcase of brassica. This would get any kid to eat their vegies! The 'egg' was particularly cool - a soft creamy egg yolk encased in a caulflower and chive 'white'. It looked so realistic that I asked the waitress how the chef got the chives in the egg white, to which she responded it was cauliflower! Taste bud fail.
The tricky egg!

Onto the sweet stuff!

Plum and Creme Fraiche

Tangy and cleansing, this was a nice palate clenser. Cleverly presented with dots of the individual components of creamy creme fraiche, tangy plum puree and bitter eucalyptus gel, the flavours were then combined into a mousse and sorbet. Excellent combination of bitter, creamy, sweet and sour.
Zucchini Sponge, Angelica, Hazelnut, Buttermilk Ice-cream

The final dish - and surprisingly I wasn't overly full by this stage, perhaps due to the lack of protein. The zucchini sponge was fairly dry and the zucchini ribbon didn't really add much except to the presentation, however the hazelnut puree, buttermilk ice-cream and candied angelica were delicious. The hazelnut puree is what Nutella SHOULD taste like!

All in all it was a lovely dinner. I think the chef played it very safe as there was nothing mind blowing but perhaps this is simply his philosophy of using fresh, seasonal produce and letting the flavours shine.  It cannot be compared to Ultraviolet, but I think I need to resign myself to the fact I probably won't better that meal. I think Robin Wickens and the team at The Royal Mail Hotel have kept up the high standard that was previously set and I hope they continue as this establishment does wonders for a little town like Dunkeld.

If you're ever in Dunkeld, make sure you check out Cafe 109 opposite The Royal Mail and the Old Bakery which is two roads back from the main road - they have an old wood-fired oven and make the nicest bread and lunches.

Sarah xx

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Sunday, 2 March 2014

Cauliflower Pizza Base (Gluten Free)

Another sneaky recipe to get extra serves of vegies in per day, just like zucchetti and green smoothies. You won't even taste the cauliflower! The trick to this recipe is getting the base just right. It's a pizza after all, so it needs to be eaten with the hands, therefore no soggy bottoms!

Cauliflower Pizza
(Inspired by Not Quite Nigella, Taste and a gazillion magazine articles - versions of this recipe are everywhere!!!)
1 med-large cauliflower
1/3 cup almond meal (or gluten free/plain flour)
2 eggs
Salt & Pepper
Whichever pizza toppings you fancy

1. Pre-heat your oven to 220 degrees. In a food processor or Thermomix, pulse the cauliflower until it resembles coarse breadcrumbs (press turbo 3 times on a TMX)

2. Place cauliflower in a sealed microwave safe container and cook for 5 minutes.
3. Remove lid and let the steam escape and leave the cauliflower to cool down until able to handle.
4. Place cauliflower in a clean chux (or muslin) cloth and squeeze out all the water. The cauliflower will decrease in volume by about half.

5. Place in a bowl and stir through beaten eggs, meal/flour and salt and pepper.
6. Line a pizza stone or tray with baking paper and spread cauliflower mixture into a circle. It's much easier to use your hands for this part.
7. Place in the oven and cook for 15 minutes until golden.
8. Place a second piece of baking paper over the cooked base and flip over. Remove the top sheet of baking paper so the previous underside of the base is now exposed. Place back into the oven for 5-10 minutes until it starts to colour. (I forgot to take a photo...oops!)
9. Top with your favourite pizza toppings (I used tomato, cheese, mushrooms and olives) and bake for another 10 minutes until cooked.


Sarah xx