Asparagus and Goats Cheese Tart

I love asparagus and I love that it’s back in season. We have been having it regularly as it’s so cheap at the moment. Next year, we will grow our own!!

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I don’t know what brought me to the flavour combination in this tart, but it’s so good. And you can arrange the asparagus on top to make it look really pretty. Perfect for entertaining! I have added in a whole heap of spinach, which wilts down to not much, which adds a great source of iron, making this an excellent choice for vegetarians. With the good amount of vegetables in this tart, it can be had by itself or served with a simple side salad.

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I made a shortcrust pastry, which is really simple, but you can use bought puff or shortcrust pastry. The combination of the eggs, dill and asparagus work really well together and the caramelised leeks enhance these flavours.

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Mark has expressed his like for asparagus this year, which makes me happy, so he loves this, and Claire, the 2 times we have had it, turns her nose up at it initially, but ends up happily finishing her piece. Even Elise enjoyed it but found the texture of the spinach a bit strange.

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Enjoy xx.

Ingredients:

Pastry

  • 240g plain flour
  • 180g butter
  • 1/4 cup water
  • pinch of salt

Filling

  • 3 leeks, finely sliced
  • 1 clove garlic, crushed
  • 3 cups spinach, chopped
  • 6 eggs
  • 100mL cream
  • 150mL milk
  • 2 tbs dill, chopped
  • 60g goats cheese
  • 1 bunch of asparagus, halved lengthways
  • salt and pepper

Method:

  1. To make the pastry, place the flour, butter and salt into a food processor and blitz until it resembles breadcrumbs.
  2. With the motor running, slowly add the water until the mixture comes together. Remove from the food processor and flatten out to a disc, cover with plastic wrap and refrigerate for at least 30 minutes.
  3. Preheat the oven to 200°C and prepare a 25cm pie dish
  4. Remove from the fridge and roll out to a diameter of around 32cm. Place into a pie dish, allowing at least a 2cm overhang. Return to the fridge for 20 minutes.
  5. Cover the pastry with baking paper and place baking beads or dried beans on the baking paper to blind bake.
  6. Place into the oven for 15 minutes then remove the baking paper and baking beads and bake for a further 10 minutes. Remove from the oven.
  7. While the pastry is cooking, heat a medium sized frypan over medium heat. Add 1 tbs of olive oil and add the leek and garlic and fry for about 5 minutes, allowing them to caramelise. Add the chopped spinach and cover, allowing it to wilt. Allow to cool slightly and place into the pastry case.
  8. Break the goats cheese into small pieces and place on top of the spinach mix.
  9. In a jug, whisk together eggs, milk, cream, dill, salt and pepper. Pour over the spinach mix.
  10. Arrange asparagus on top of the egg mix and place into the oven to bake for 40 minutes or until the egg mixture is set.
  11. Serve warm or cold.

Broad Bean, Mint and Feta Dip

The broad beans in our garden have gone crazy in the past few weeks, so we have plenty to get through. This dip is a great way to use up a good amount of broad beans.

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Every year we have planted broad beans, we have had great success, although, they always seem to come later in Spring, making it tricky for getting the Summer veggies in. Some of our favourite ways to use broad beans are in a salad, in a Spring vegetable pasta dish or in our favourite meatball recipe out of Ottolenghi’s Jerusalem Cookbook.

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I first made a dip similar to this a couple of years ago, but I have refined it and this recipe is the better version. It’s creamy, light and tasty with a hint of garlic, but not so much that it lingers for hours and a touch of mint which adds a freshness to the mouth, but not in the way that toothpaste does 🙂

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Broad beans have 2 shells, one which needs removing, one which doesn’t. The outer shell, which is really a pod and the inner shell, which is more visible once cooked or blanched, and does not need to be removed to be eaten. I normally leave this shell on as it provides extra fibre and it is quite time consuming to remove, but in this recipe, it needs to be removed….sorry!

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The kids have really enjoyed de-podding the broad beans and do an excellent job at it. I have been setting them up at the table with the scraps bin and a bowl and a pile of broad beans and they happily de-pod them all while I am in the kitchen cooking. Super helpful!

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This dip is great on its own with veggie sticks or crackers, as an addition to a cheese and dip platter, spread on bread or even dolloped on top of a cous cous salad.

Enjoy xx.

Ingredients:

  • 500g de-podded broad beans, fresh or frozen
  • 1 small clove garlic, crushed
  • 100g smooth feta (I used Lemnos)
  • 2 tbs chopped mint
  • 1-2 tbs lemon juice
  • 20g grated parmesan cheese
  • Salt and pepper

Method:

  1. Cover the broad beans with boiling water and allow to sit for 3-4 minutes. Refresh under cold water.
  2. Remove the shell of the broad beans. Keep the bean, discard the shell.
  3. Place the beans and remaining ingredients, except lemon juice into a food processor and blitz for 30 seconds. Remove the lid and scrape down the sides.
  4. Add 1 tbs of lemon juice and blitz again until well combined. Add more lemon juice until you have the desired consistency. It should be thick dip.
  5. Place into bowl and serve with veggie sticks and crackers.
  6. Store in an airtight container in the refrigerator for 4-5 days.

Spring Pea and Broad Bean Salad

Now that spring is well and truly here, fresh salads are back on the menu. Our veggie garden is also ripe for the picking, with the main vegetables being broad beans and snow peas, so it made sense to make this super easy and delicious salad.

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If you haven’t tried broad beans before, I highly recommend trying them. They are great in a salad, with pasta or made into a dip. They do take a little bit of work to peel, but are worth it. If you grow broad beans at home and have a lot of them, you can shell them, blanch them and then freeze them for later.

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I have used Meredith dairy marinated goats feta for this salad, mainly because i love it, but you can use any goats cheese or feta you like. The combination of this cheese with the mint and lemon juice really compliments the beans and peas and lifts this salad.

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My kids love snow peas and normal peas, so adding broad beans and feta (another one of their favourites) meant this was a great one for them also.  Mark and Claire helped me to shell the broad beans as well, which they enjoyed and were much more proficient at than this time last year 🙂

Enjoy xx.

Ingredients:

Serves 4

  • 2 cups shelled broad beans
  • 1 cup shelled peas or frozen peas
  •  2 cups snow peas
  • 50g Meredith Dairy marinated goats feta
  • 1/4 cup chopped mint leaves
  • 1 tbs extra virgin olive oil
  • Juice of 1 lemon

Method:

  1. Place broad beans, snow peas and peas into a bowl and blanch by covering with boiling water and allow them to sit for 2-3 minutes. Drain and run under cold water to refresh.
  2. Add olive oil and lemon juice and toss to combine.
  3. Add feta and mint and carefully toss to combine.
  4. Serve with fish, meat or as a side to your favourite main.

Mango and Coconut Bliss Balls

You will probably find that most of the recipes for bliss balls have dates as the main base, which is fine as they work exceptionally well, however, it can leave all the different varieties having the same underlying taste.

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These Mango and Coconut Bliss Balls still have dates in them, they just also have dried mango as a large part of the base, giving them a more tropical flavour. This recipe was inspired by this one, and whenever I make bliss balls, I will (most times) add some rolled oats because the kids eat most of them and it helps to fill them up and provides some extra fibre and energy.

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The coconut in this recipe does not have to be toasted, but I would highly recommend it as the toasting process provides some caramelisation of the coconut, giving it a sweeter flavour, meaning that no other sweetness is needed aside from the dried fruit which makes up the base of these balls. This goes for the coconut used for rolling as well.

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I’m pretty sure I have mentioned in previous posts about bliss balls that my kids love them. They are a great snack and lunch box filler and excellent with a cuppa for the adults. They keep really well in both the fridge and freezer for quite some time and are a healthy snack. Having said this, they are still quite energy dense, so don’t get too carried away.

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I am yet to make these with the lime zest as limes are about $2.50 each at the moment and I refuse to pay that, but I think it will make a great addition.

Enjoy xx.

Ingredients:

Makes ~18 balls

  • 3/4 cup nuts (I used cashews and almonds)
  • 1/2 cup rolled oats
  • 75g medjool dates
  • 75g dried mango
  • 1/3 cup shredded coconut, toasted
  • 1/2 tsp turmeric (optional)
  • 1/2 tsp lime zest, finely grated
  • 2 tbs cold water

Method:

  1. Cover the dried mango with boring water and leave to sit for 5 minutes.
  2. Place the nuts in the food processor and whizz until they resemble coarse crumbs. Remove from food processor and set aside.
  3. Heat a small frypan over medium heat and place the shredded coconut in to toast. Keep and eye on this as it will only need about 30-60 seconds. Remove from heat.
  4. Place dates and drained dried mango into food processor and pulse for 30 seconds. Add nuts, coconut, lime zest and turmeric and whizz for 30 seconds. Add cold water as needed until the mixture comes together.
  5. Place into a bowl, cover and refrigerate for 20 minutes to firm up.
  6. Meanwhile, toast the desiccated coconut by heating the frypan over medium heat and toasting until golden brown. Remove from heat.
  7. Remove the mixture from the fridge and using slightly wet hands, take teaspoons of mixture and form into balls. Roll in the coconut and repeat with remaining mixture.
  8. Store in an airtight container in the refrigerator.

Crispy Roasted Chickpeas

Most people probably associate chickpeas with a hummus dip or an addition to a salad, but if you haven’t tried roasted chickpeas, you need to.

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Roasted chickpeas are a great snack, a good lunch box filler and a great addition to salads, stir fries and even a meaty dish. Chickpeas are a great vegetarian and vegan protein source, providing 15g per cup, and are also a good source of low GI carbohydrate (won’t spike blood sugar levels), fibre, thiamin, vitamin B6, folate and potassium.

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My kids absolutely love roasted chickpeas, which are available at the supermarket and whole foods stores for a lot more than what it costs to make them at home. They can be a little bit time consuming, but they are easy to make and the bonus is that you can add whatever flavours you like to them. We like just salt, paprika or cumin, but there’s no reason why you couldn’t add a bit of chilli powder to spice them up or even some cinnamon for a sweeter touch.

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When I have been playing around trying to get these chickpeas right, I have found a couple of key things to do which help, but if you plan to eat them all within the day, then don’t waste your time:

  1. Once the chickpeas have been rinsed and drained, make sure you dry them really well with paper towel.
  2. Peel the chickpeas. Once again, not essential but will definitely help with making them really crispy.
  3. Allow to cool completely in the oven – don’t skip this step!

Add a tin of chickpeas to your grocery shop this week for an extra $1-2 and try this recipe this weekend. You’ll thank me!

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Enjoy xx.

Ingredients:

  • 1 tin of chickpeas, drained and rinsed
  • 1-2 tbs extra virgin olive oil
  • 1 tsp salt
  • Seasonings such as smoked paprika, cumin, chilli powder

Method:

  1. Preheat the oven to 160°C and line a baking tray with baking paper.
  2. Drain and rinse the chickpeas.
  3. Thoroughly dry the chickpeas with paper towel. Some of the skins will start to come off during this drying process, the more you can remove now, the crispier they will be.
  4. Place chickpeas into a bowl, add olive oil and salt and toss well to coat. Place onto prepared baking tray and place into the oven. Bake for 60 minutes, shaking around after 30 minutes. Allow to cool for at least 1 hour in the oven.
  5. Remove from the oven and add desired flavours and toss well to coat.
  6. Add to salads or use as a snack.
  7. These will keep well for 4-5 days in a container with the lid slightly ajar – exposure to air will help to keep the chickpeas dry.

Zucchini Slice

Zucchini slice is an easy and convenient meal for the whole family. A meal that I grew up eating and one I am now feeding my family.

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With a baby who has recently started solids in the house, finding meals that all 5 of us can eat can be tricky, which leaves me preparing meals for Elise (8 months) and she ends up eating the same thing several days in a row. I made this zucchini slice the other day for the first time in over a year and she LOVED it! As did the older 2, although I did sell it to them as egg and bacon slice, mainly because they think they don’t like zucchini (even though they eat it ALL the time)…next time we have it, I am going to ask them to tell me what they think is in it and all will be revealed!

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Zucchini slice is a very nutritious meal. It’s a great source of protein, from the eggs, bacon and cheese, it’s full of veggies – I have used zucchini, carrot, onion and corn, but you can also use sweet potato, which provide plenty of vitamins and minerals as well as fibre. It can be enjoyed both warm or cold, it freezes superbly and is great for a picnic or in lunch boxes. When we have had this, I have served it with a side salad as the kids are loving salads at the moment, but it is nutritionally balanced so is fine to have on its own.

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This recipe uses self raising flour, but if you are after a gluten free option, I would recommend using almond meal in place of the flour and add 1 teaspoon of baking powder. You could also use a gluten free self raising flour if desired.

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Enjoy xx

Ingredients:

  • 1 onion, diced
  • 2 bacon rashers, fat trimmed and diced
  • 2 medium zucchini, grated and excess moisture squeezed out
  • 1 carrot, peeled and grated
  • 1 cob of corn, kernels removed
  • 100g tasty or cheddar cheese, grated
  • 50g feta, crumbled
  • 1 tbs chives, finely chopped
  • 1 tbs flat leaf parsley, finely chopped
  • 2/3 cup SR flour
  • 5 eggs
  • 1/4 cup milk
  • Salt and pepper
  • 1 tomato, sliced (optional)

Method:

  1. Preheat the oven to 180°C and line a 20cm x 25cm slice tray with baking paper.
  2. Heat a medium sized frypan over medium heat. Once hot, add the onion and bacon and cook, stirring occasionally for ~ 5 minutes.
  3. Once the zucchini has been grated, remove excess moisture by placing into a sieve and squeeze/press the zucchini into the sieve. Quite a lot of moisture will come out.
  4. Place zucchini, carrot, corn, herbs, cheeses and flour into a large bowl and mix. Add the bacon and onion and mix.
  5. Crack the eggs into another bowl, add the milk and salt and pepper and lightly beat.
  6. Add the egg mix to the vegetable mix and mix well to combine.
  7. Pour into prepared tray and top with slices of tomato and bake for ~35 minutes or until it bounces back when touched lightly.
  8. Allow to cool slightly before cutting into squares and serving as is or with a salad.

This will keep for about 5 days in the refrigerator or will freeze exceptionally well for up to 3 months.

Nut Free, Lunchbox Friendly Muesli Bars

For quite sometime, I have been thinking about changing the way I make my Muesli Bars. I find that the baked ones are sometimes perfect and cut into nice muesli bar shaped pieces and other times they crumble, so I wanted to make a reliable muesli bar, one that cuts perfectly everytime, and here we have it!

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This muesli bar does not need to be baked, it sets in the fridge and it is also nut free, meaning it is suitable for kids to take to kinder or school, and perfectly safe for those allergic to nuts, which is great. You can, of course, add nuts in in place of some of the seeds if you wish, which I personally think makes them better and also makes a more solid bar when cut.

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It took me a couple of goes to get these right and there are a few key things to note:

  1. Coconut oil, alone, will not set well enough to hold together, it needs something else, which is why I have used butter and honey.
  2. Honey that has crystallised, needs to be heated and boiled for about 1 minute in order to get the crystals back into solution to help it to hold the mixture together well. One batch I made, the crystallised honey was not heated well enough and this batch crumbled when cut.
  3. The mixture needs to be pushed down very firmly into the pan with the back of a spoon before placing into the fridge to set.

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Seeing as these muesli bars aren’t cooked, you can use any dried fruit. I find with the baked muesli bars that sometimes the dried fruit can go a bit too crunchy and almost burn. I have used dried blueberries and cranberries, but dried apricots, sultanas, dates or even apple would work well also. I have included some dark chocolate in these muesli bars, which melts when the hot mixture is added, making them taste a little bit like a chocolate crackle, but this is optional. You could also omit the chocolate in the mix and melt and drizzle it over the finished bar.

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My kids love my homemade muesli bars, and the first time I made a refrigerated batch, they had nuts in them and Mark tried them and said “Mum, can I take these to kinder”?, and my response was obviously “No, they have nuts in them”, which is where the motivation for these muesli bars came from.

Give these a go and you’ll probably find you won’t buy muesli bars again.

Enjoy xx

Ingredients:

  • 2 cups rolled oats, toasted
  • 1 cup puffed brown rice (rice bubbles will work also)
  • 1/3 cup sunflower seeds, toasted
  • 1/3 cup pepitas, toasted
  • 1/4 cup linseed
  • 1/4 cup chia seeds
  • 1/2 cup shredded coconut, toasted
  • 1 tbs sesame seeds
  • 1 cup dried fruit (I used 1/2 blueberries, 1/2 cranberries)
  • 70g dark chocolate, chopped (optional)
  • 75g butter
  • 50g coconut oil
  • 105g honey

Method:

  1. Preheat the oven to 200°C and line a slice tray 20cm x 30cm with baking paper.
  2. Place oats, sunflower seeds and pepitas onto the tray and toast in the oven for about 10-15 minutes until just starting to turn golden. Add the coconut for the last 5 minutes, keeping an eye on it. This adds some crunch to these ingredients, but can be skipped.
  3. Place toasted oats, seeds and coconut into a large bowl and add the linseed, chia seeds, sesame seeds, puffed rice, dried fruit and chocolate and mix.
  4. Place butter, honey and coconut oil into a small saucepan and heat over medium heat. Once coconut oil and butter are melted, bring to a gentle simmer and allow to simmer for at least 1 minute, ensuring honey has dissolved.
  5. Pour honey mixture into the oat mixture and mix well, ensuring the wet mix coats the dry mix well.
  6. Place into lined tin and press into the tin well with the back of a spoon.
  7. Refrigerate for 2-3 hours or overnight then cut into bars.
  8. Keep in an airtight container in the fridge.