Cookbook Classic – HOME by Unna Burch 

I have a confession to make.

I have a secret.

Well to be honest it’s not so secret!

I am a cookbook hoarder. If you have every watched Nigella Lawson you would have seen her cookbook library. It is probably the most epic thing I have ever seen in my life. A whole room dedicated to her love of cookbooks.

In all honesty I just love all books but cookbooks are for me next level. Flicking through the pages of a cookbook take you on a journey. Regardless if you ever actually cook from it.

The very talented Unna Burch from The Forest Cantina has recently self published her 2nd cookbook called Home and it really is like visiting her home.

Unna self published via Kickstarter. As a backer I was lucky enough to be part of her Auckland styling/photography workshop she did last year. Unna has an amazing presence about her. It’s really hard to describe how rad she is. But she is pretty dang amazing.  She take simple styling to the next level and watching her work was mindblowing. From the placement of a leaf or seed to added props and textures it really was like watching a master at work.

Bonnie Beattie art director and lifestyle photography for Home visually told the story an a way that captured a moment in time.

Home is a collection of recipes which Unna says is her home cooking. Not only is Home a cookbook it looks at lifestyle. From good food to growing your own produce, to raising chickens for the perfect coloured egg (check out The Forest Cantina on Instagram to see what I mean) and giving you an insight into urban bee-keeping. After reading it I was ready to buy hives, rent an allotment and buy some chooks. Then I realised I would be really shit at all of those things so i’ll just stick to the cooking!!

Stand out recipes from the book for us have been the Diner Style Pancakes – easy to make (as I could NEVER make the Edmonds cookbook ones).  Once you try these you will never lower yourself to buy those shaker pancakes again.

Meatloaf with a BBQ glaze is now a firm fixture on our dinner menu.  What I love most is the fact not only is it freaking delicious, it does us two dinners so it saves me time!! We have it with spuds and veggies on night one and the leftovers we have meatloaf burgers with wedges. It’s even good cold and Unna gives a great recipe for Meatloaf sammies.

We have also tried the super fast egg foo young. This is genius and perfect when you have those moments of “I can’t be bothered cooking” and it actually tastes better than takeaways!

I am slowly working my way through the book and I can’t wait to spend a weekend in the kitchen making Nana Kui’s beetroot chutney, jalapeno – cranberry jelly and giving Unna’s ramen bone broth a crack.

Home is definitely a book you will cook from as well as escape in the beautiful images that Unna and Bonnie have captured. If you want to be inspired to cook I say go with Home.

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Oh Melbourne ….. PART ONE

I promised MANY people I would blog about our trip to Melbourne. But I got in a post holiday funk so looking and reminiscing about our AMAZING time just made me sad that I won’t be doing it again any time soon. I quickly got over myself and here it is. Our Melbourne adventure sans kids.

Oh and I will have to do it in parts because I started writing it and realised I had a BUTTLOAD to talk about so here is PART ONE. 

WARNING – Lots of food. Some of the images are not my own. I was too busy stuffing my face to get me phone out and lighting was shite, so it would not have done the food justice!!

DAY ONE – If you need a place to stay at Auckland Airport the night before you fly I cannot recommend the ibis Budget at Auckland Airport enough. Like it’s not 5 star but at $89 a night AND you can leave your car there for up to 7 days for about $60 you can’t really complain.

I hadn’t been to Melbourne before so I didn’t really know what to expect. But my 1st impression flying into it was “man it’s really FLAT!”

We continued our love for the Ibis hotels staying at the ibis Budget on Little Bourke St. We were super central BUT when you look at the map of the Melbourne CBD it’s all in blocks and everything looks really close. In reality the streets are QUITE long!! For example we were staying at 600 Little Bourke St and heading to GingerBoy for dinner it was a good 15-20 min walk even though it was on a little laneway just off Little Bourke St!!

The awesome thing about Melbourne is the different cultural aspects of it all. Staying on Little Bourke St you are heading into Chinatown. It really is epic and if you love to people watch you will LOVE Melbourne.  Chinatown is full of amazing restaurants each paying homage to their specialty be it dumplings, seafood or noodles. You could literally spend a week eating your way through 500m of Chinatown.

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Image – Google

GingerBoy is hailed as Melbourne’s 1st Hawker style fusion restaurant and to be honest it is pretty dang good. It is set up where you order a few dishes to share. We were feeling hungry so got the banquet menu (plus a few cocktails!!). Choosing the banquet menu you are given the fav/most popular dishes on the menu. This is a great way to eat because you get to try things you wouldn’t normally choose. It also gives you a great idea of what a restaurant is about.

The stand out for me was the salt and pepper chicken spare ribs (pretty sure they were chicken wings!) in a tamarind hot sauce. The were almost a smidge on the hot side for me (lil bit of a spice puss) but they were so good I didn’t care that the mouth was on fire!! GingerBoy was also the 1st place I got to try Wagu beef. So I’ve heard about this famed “Wagu”. It’s the mac daddy of beef.  For me I’m not a huge steak/beef fan and never order steak when I go out for dinner so it would never enter my head to get it. But holy sweet baby Jesus. It is THE BEST beef I have ever eaten. I can’t even describe why. It was like your eye fillet on steroids and then some. So my challenge to you my friend is if you get the chance to try Wagu …… DO IT!!

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Image – TripAdvisor.

DAY TWO – This was a CRAZY busy day. In hindsight I wouldn’t have done this all in one day because I don’t think we got to mooch and really see everything we could have.

We hit the pavement early for coffee and bomboloni (Italian filled donuts) at Coffea an awesome little place on the doorstep of Queen Victoria Markets. One thing about Melbourne is that coffee is GOOD and service is quick. No matter how busy a cafe is your coffee will take less than 5 mins to make an appearance and we were never disappointed. I am ruined for life and become a complete coffee snob!!

Queen Victoria Market you bloody beauty. A food nirvana. It’s a place where you literally don’t know where to start. Because I am a bit of a geek we booked a Foodie Tour of the Queen Vic. A tour which has tastings and gives you a bit of history about the place. I think I turned to Luke at one stage and was fizzing with foodie excitement. There were fat juicy oysters, beautiful kangaroo steaks and this frigging amazing blue cheese that had been skewered with chocolate liquer – mind blowing. There were every kind of olive you could think of, handcrafted chocolates and Luke got pretty excited about the wee craft beer and cider shop (should have gone back to that bit!)

 So that was just the meat, fish and dairy hall! You head outside and there is produce for DAYS. Organic, local and veges I had never even heard of, oh and the feijoas for $1 each and they were TINY!  

My second ahhhhh moment came when I discovered ReWine. Clearskin wines in ONE litre bottles that you can REFILL. Red, white and the best Prosecco I have ever had. We also picked up some of their famous mulled wine syrup for those winter nights. 

 We nailed some donuts from the famous donut van (we were told this is a Melbourne insitution and the line is round the block on the weekends), then headed for another coffee to shake off the few wines I had! Queen Vic has another part of the market which we didn’t get to and that was the merchandise side of things. Trinkets and tresures awaited but because we had a lunch booking we had to rush off. Next trip I’m setting aside a WHOLE day to explore this amazing place. 

Now Dinner by Heston was one thing we had planned for ages. Dinner by Heston is the antipodean cousin of Dinner by Heston, London. It was proably the most amazing culinary experience I have ever had. The only shit thing was the fact I decided to be a lady and I wore my glam heels. It was a 15-20 min walk to the river and by the time we got there I was blistered and in agony. That said I sucked it up with Luke saying “I told you so!!” – asshole!

My photo’s I took didn’t do the meal justice. If you want a better idea definetly google it!! We got the 6 course tasting lunch and I am so glad we did. Stand outs for me was the “meat fruit” – chicken liver parfait and the hay smoked ocean trout oh and weird but great was the roasted cucumber. Luke was all over the “rice and flesh” – saffron risotto and curried kangaroo tail and tipsy cake with spit roasted pineapple the 1st (yes there were 2!) dessert.  

Dinner by Heston was amazing and we both realised that we didn’t talk much through out the lunch because we were so busy watching the staff. It was a well oiled machine with each person having a role in the big picture. We sat opposite the kitchen with the large glass windows which made perfect people viewing. So my recommendation is that is you get the chance go. Have an open mind. be amazed and maybe take your credit card!! 

We ended up finishing our Friday in the best way possible with family, cutting shapes in a little place called The Black Rabbit and drinking $10 espresso martinis. Followed by a kebab while walking home. I felt 20 again. However it I did not feel 20 the next morning!!

Sweetcorn and Kale Fritters

For a twist on the traditional sweetcorn fritter.

3/4 cup of plain flour

1 egg (free range if possible)

440g can creamed sweetcorn

 can whole corn kernels

2 tablespoons chia seeds

4 -6 kale leaves (chopped)

1 pinch chilli flakes (more if you like it hot)

salt and pepper to taste

oil 

METHOD

  • Place flour, salt and pepper in a bowl.
  • Add the egg.
  • Add both tins of corn and chilli.
  • Mix till WELL combined.
  • Add chia seeds.
  • Add kale.
  • Oil large flat plan and cooking over a medium heat til golden.
  • Serve with salad and sauce of your choice.

    I served my fritters with Lisa’s Carrot and Cumin dip and dry toasted sunflower seeds.

    NEW YEAR. NEW ………

    To me the new year does not mean a new me or a new diet or even a new life path.  To me the new year is all about how I can make this year 2017, even better than the last.

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    I love to eat but I also love to cook. Food for our family brings us together. Be it a family dinner or watching an episode of Australian Masterchef. I am not quite sure where my love of food came from. Mum is a baker but not a cook. At family dinners I make the dinner, she makes the pud.  I remember recording (on VHS I may add – showing me age!) the very 1st cooking show Jamie Oliver ever did “The Naked Chef”. I would watch it over and over again. Maybe it all started there? Who knows. Still love Jamie though!

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    2017 is about trying new things, cuisines and techniques.

    Each week I will be trying a new recipe from my ever growing cookbook collection. Because lets face it. We all have those cookbooks we brought but have never actually used.

    WEEK ONE:

    I embarked on week one with my new friend Donna. Donna Hay that is.  Her latest cookbook “Basic to Brilliance” is probably the best cookbook I have read in a VERY long time. Core recipes like roast chicken, pork belly or beef shoulder are then transformed into 2 or 3  additional recipes.

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    We started with her basic recipe for Ricotta Gnocchi then I pimped it up with my chorizo and cherry tomato sauce.

    Chorizo and Cherry Tomato Sauce

    4 small chorizo

    1 punnet cherry tomatoes

    spinach (as much as you like)

    Splosh of red wine vinegar

    Salt & Pepper

    Chop your chorizo and place in a pan with a dash of oil. Fry until the oil has a beautiful orange/golden hue. Add your tomatoes, spinach, salt and pepper. Add a splosh of the red wine vinegar to taste. Season with extra salt and pepper if needed.  Toss your gnocchi when the spinach has wilted. You can either crisp up the gnocchi or keep them soft and pillowy. Top with extra parmesan.

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    My tip for ricotta gnocchi – FLOUR, FLOUR and FLOUR some more. This gnocchi is sticky and sticks to everything. Dust your board, plate, knife and anything that it will touch otherwise it will be a sticky disaster!

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    Thanks IG husband for this shot!!

    So keep following our food adventures on Instagram and Facebook and enjoy our food journey for 2017.

     

    CHOC CHIP COOKIES

    Believe me when I say I am no baker. When I cook I tend to wing it so restricting myself to exact quantities and measurements just doesn’t fit my nature.

    When I bake it has to be easy with minimal fannying around.

    These chocolate chip cookies are easy, quick and you can double the recipe with out fuss for those school trips and shared lunches.

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    INGREDIENTS:

    125 grams of butter

    1/2 cup brown sugar

    1/2 cup white sugar

    1 egg – free range if you can get it (let’s be kind to those chickens)

    1 and 3/4 cups of flour

    1 teaspoon vanilla essence (we use the Equagold vanilla paste)

    1 and a half cups of chocolate buttons (milk, dark, white or a mix)

    METHOD:

    Preheat oven to 180 degrees.

    Cream the sugar and butter until light and fluffy.

    Mix in the egg and vanilla.

    Mix in the flour.

    Mix in the chocolate buttons.

    Roll into teaspoon size balls.

    Bake at 180 degrees until lightly browned (15 mins). Cook for a shorter time if you like a chewy cookies or longer if you like a crisp cookie.

    BLISS BALLS

    I have an announcement.

    I am no longer a maker of bliss ball virgin. My cherry has been popped.

    Now I have eaten my fair share of them but to be honest I just couldn’t be bothered making them. I barely have time to pee in peace let alone get amongst a bliss ball recipe.

    So I sucked it up got Mr almost 4 involved and it was actually surprisingly easy and he LOVED it!

    When LUXE Fitness approached me to try their new protein powder I was a little dubious. I don’t do shakes and I definitely don’t do smoothies. Don’t get me wrong I like the idea but it’s a textural thing for me and I instantly feel like gagging …. moving on, even the thought is making me gag!

    Instead of using it in a shake or smoothie I decided to check out their website of recipes and there in all it’s orby lucious goodness (channeling my inner Nigella here!) were the peanut protein balls.

    In true me fashion I didn’t have half of the things in my cupboard so I took their recipe and threw my spin on it.

    Crunchy Peanut Bliss Balls

    1.5 cups oats
    1 cup of pitted dates
    1/2 cup LUXE protein powder
    4 TBSP GO superfood Cacao powder
    1/2 – 3/4 cup of crunchy peanut butter (we used Pic’s PB)
    1/2 tsp vanilla essence (we used Equagold vanilla paste)
    water to bind

    Method

    It’s pretty darn simple. Chuck everything into your food processor. Blitz til everything in combined. Add water until it comes together.

    Use a teaspoon and roll into balls. Dust with the Cacao powder and you are done.

    Very Berry Bliss Balls

    1.5 cups oats
    1 cup pitted dates
    1/2 cup LUXE protein powder
    2 TBSP GO superfood Cacao powder
    1 tsp GO superfood Camu Camu powder (if you don’t have this just add more raspberries)
    1/2 – 3/4 cup FRESH AS freeze dried raspberries
    1/2 tsp vanilla essence (we used Equagold vanilla paste)
    water to bind
    1/4 cup desiccated coconut (to rolls balls)

    Method

    It’s pretty darn simple. Chuck everything into your food processor. Blitz til everything in combined. Add water until it comes together.

    Use a teaspoon and roll into balls. Crush the freeze dried raspberries into a powder and mix with the coconut. Roll the balls in the coconut and raspberry mix and your are done.

    The only downside to this whole exercise is that I had to borrow my mother’s food processor because we don’t have one. Then I remembered why …….. they are a complete B***H to clean!

    J x