Mussels with bacon and white wine

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Seafood is one of my favourite types of food; one I typically associate with summer. But not mussels! In a stew or in this case a sauce, they are so comforting.

I typically make them on the weekend, but as they are a quick meal, they can very easily be enjoyed on a week night too.

This is my own recipe so I hope you enjoy!

Ingredients

1kg black mussels, scrubbed

4 slices of bacon, diced

1 cup of white wine

3/4 cup of cream

Half an onion, diced

Half a leak, sliced

2-3 cloves of garlic, minced

3 tablespoons of butter

Salt and pepper

2 cups of parsley, to serve

 

Method

Fry the bacon in a pan with one tablespoon of butter. Once the bacon has some colour add the garlic, onion, leak and two tablespoons of butter. Stir gently until the onion is translucent.

Add the wine and stir. After about 30 seconds add the cream and the mussels. Stir so the ingredients are well mixed.Turn the heat down slightly and put the lid on the pot; let the ingredients boil for 3-5 minutes.

Once all the mussels have opened, add the parsley and serve with crusty bread.

Bon appetite!

 

 

 

Slow Cooked Green Chicken Curry

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Recipe courtesy of Taste.com.au

The cooler months have finally arrived, so one of the first things I did was pull out my slow cooker.

One of the easiest recipes in my collection is a slow cooked chicken green curry. I put it on early Sunday afternoon and by dinner time, it’s ready ! Quick to prepare, no fuss, easy and plenty of leftovers for the coming week.

I hope you enjoy this recipe as much as I do:

Ingredients:

6 chicken thighs

1 x 230g can bamboo shoots, drained

1 x 125g pkt frozen baby corn

4 fresh kaffir lime leaves, torn in half

1 x 400ml can coconut milk

1-2 tablespoons green curry paste (see note)

125ml (1/2 cup) Campbell’s Real Stock Chicken

1 cup (loosely packed) fresh basil leaves

1 tablespoon brown sugar

2 teaspoons fish sauce

Fresh basil leaves, extra, to serve

Steamed SunRice White Medium Grain Rice (or cauliflower rice), to serve

Lime wedges, to serve

Method:

Place chicken, bamboo shoots, corn and 2 lime leaves in the slow cooker. Combine coconut milk and curry paste and add to the slow cooker. Pour in stock. Cover and cook on low for 4 hours or until the chicken is tender and cooked through.

Shred remaining lime leaves. Add to the slow cooker. Add basil, sugar and fish sauce, and stir to combine. Top with extra basil. Serve with rice and lime wedges.

 

Pumpkin and Haloumi Salad

Even though we are officially in Autumn, the Sydney weather just isn’t cooling down!  So to keep myself nourished and not feeling too heavy after a meal, I’ve started making this delicious salad. Because I am a piggy, I do add more haloumi than the recipe suggests! 🙂

Pumpkin and haloumi salad with lime coriander dressing 

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Recipe found: vogue.com.au

Ingredients: Salad
200g pumpkin – this should be about a quarter to half of a pumpkin depending on its size
Pumpkin seeds (from your pumpkin)
A handful of cashews
A handful of cherry tomatoes
Four tablespoons olive oil
Salt
Pepper
200g haloumi
One teaspoon of fresh or dried herbs such as oregano, thyme and rosemary
Zest of one lemon
Two handfuls of baby spinach
One cucumber, diced
One bunch of parsley
A handful of green Sicilian olives

Ingredients: the dressing
One to two cloves garlic
One to two tablespoons of grated ginger
Zest of one lime
Juice of one lime
One tablespoon apple cider vinegar
One bunch of coriander
One chilli (leave the seeds in for a kick)

Method
1. Preheat your oven to 180 degrees.
2. Line a baking tray with baking paper.
3. Chop your pumpkin in half and scoop out the seeds – keep the seeds as you’re going to use them.
4. Chop pumpkin into thin slices, about 1.5cm thick and place on your baking tray. Note: the smaller you chop your pumpkin the faster it will cook.
5. Separate pumpkin seeds from the pulp. Discard the pulp and put seeds on the baking tray or another baking tray if you’re running out of room. The seeds can be overlapping.
6. Add cashews to tray with pumpkin seeds.
7. Add your tomatoes to the tray near your pumpkin and use two tablespoons of the oil to coat your tomatoes and pumpkin. You don’t need to oil your seeds and nuts. The aim is to toast them. You’ll notice the pumpkin seeds are very moist already so they’ll take a bit to dry out.
8. Then season tomatoes and pumpkin with salt and pepper and place in the oven for 20-30 minutes – this will depend on your oven. Check on the seeds and nuts after 10 minutes. The pumpkin seeds will stick together a bit, so break them up so they cook evenly.
9. Chop your haloumi into slices and add to a pan with one tablespoon olive oil, half of your chosen herb mix and half your lemon zest.
10. Cook haloumi on a medium heat. When brown flip sides, this should take five minutes and add the remainder of your herbs and lemon zest. You want the haloumi to go slightly brown and crunchy on the outside. If the heat is too low the haloumi will release liquid, if this happens turn the heat up a notch or two.
11. Once cooked on both sides, transfer to a paper towel to drain.
12. Rinse and dry your baby spinach, cucumber and parsley.
13. Add baby spinach to your bowl.
14. Chop the cucumber. I like to use a peeler and peel lengthways to create cucumber ribbons. Once the dressing is added the ribbons seem to wrap themselves around the pumpkin and the parsley will stick to the cucumber. Long ribbons will create a lovely texture in the bowl.
15. Chop the stems off the parsley and finely chop parsley leaves and add to bowl.
16. Remove pumpkin, tomatoes, pumpkin seeds and cashews from the oven. Leave them for five minutes to cool slightly and then add pumpkin and tomato to your salad bowl, along with the haloumi and olives.
17. To make the dressing – add all ingredients into a blender and blend on high until combined.
If you don’t have a blender: chop everything as fine as possible. Add some oil, garlic, ginger, coriander and chilli to a mortar and pestle and mix together really well until you create a paste. Then mix through the remaining ingredients.
If you don’t have a mortar and pestle: add all ingredients into a jar and shake really well. This won’t create the vibrant green colour of the dressing but it will still taste amazing.
18. Pour the dressing over the salad and mix to combine.
19. Top with pumpkin seeds and cashew nuts.

Fried Mozzarella Sandwiches

It’s quite natural that as a restrict my refined carbohydrates and diary, and publish a DELICIOUS recipe for a fancy cheese sandwich. But seriously, is there a better comfort food, or casual date night food, than a perfectly made toasty.

I hope you have enjoyed it as much as I did….

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Recipe found: Vogue.com.au

Serves 4 

Preparation 25 min
Cooking 5 min

8 small country-style (farmhouse) bread slices
5 balls (150 g) mozzarella cheese, drained and sliced
2 eggs
3⁄4 cup (175 ml) milk
All-purpose (plain) flour, for dusting
4 tablespoons olive oil
2 tablespoons (25 g) butter
Salt and pepper

Put the slices of mozzarella on half the bread and top with the remaining bread to make sandwiches. Beat the eggs in a shallow dish with the milk and season with salt and pepper. Dust the sandwiches with flour and place in the beaten eggs, pressing down gently with a spatula (fish slice) until they have absorbed some of the mixture.

Heat the olive oil and butter in a large skillet
or frying pan over medium-high heat, add the sandwiches, and cook for about 2 minutes on each side, until crisp and golden brown. Remove with
a spatula and drain on paper towels. Serve hot.

This recipe is extracted from The Silver Spoon: Quick and Easy Italian Recipes (Phaidon, $39.95).

REVIEW: Ryo’s, the best ramen in Sydney

Enjoying the Sydney food scene is a huge hobby of mine. I love experiencing the different types of cuisine available, the  restaurant decor, the atmosphere and most importantly the amazing produce this country of ours creates.

As enjoying food is so important to me, and my life journey, why not share some of these experiences on the blog? I am incredibly pleased to introduce a monthly restaurant review!!! They may be my favourite eateries, but it won’t be written by yours truly.

One one of my talented friends, Aimee, is a journo by trade but also the brains, and pen, behind Community Table – The People Behind The Food.

The first review is of Ryo’s in Crows Nest, Sydney. This is my favourite cheap eat in Sydney! It’s quick and the ramen is to die for. If you haven’t tried it, I would strongly recommend you visit.

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As soon as you sweep aside the noren curtains and push through the orange doors, you’re instantly greeted with a friendly Japanese smile and directed to your seat. It’s almost an identical experience to what you would get in Japan.

But that’s if you’re lucky enough to not have to wait in line to get in first. Come weekends Ryo’s is a favourite for many regulars who are looking for an authentic Japanese ramen experience, Japanese expats who want a taste of home, or those who want to relive their Japanese holiday over a bowl of noodles and soup.

The original Ryo’s is located in Crows Nest, but more recently the business opened up a second shop in Bondi Junction to cater for those who have long rated it as the place that serves up the best ramen in Sydney.

While it doesn’t have a large menu, Ryo’s serves up enough to tick the boxes for many tastebuds, including ramen in traditional pork broth, ramen in chicken soup for those wanting a lighter option, ramen in bolognese sauce, or rice dishes such as curry and rice or onigiri (rice balls). The menu has even been transcribed on butcher’s paper in kanji and stuck on the walls, adding to the authentic décor of a Tokyo noodle house.

But don’t come here expecting to be able to sit around and have long conversations; it’s more of an eat-and-run joint. You put in your order, head over to the counter to grab your self-service water in colourful plastic tumblers and complimentary pickled ginger– if that’s your thing – and as soon you get back your dishes will have arrived.

A favourite and the biggest seller is the ‘number 2’: A deep bowl of ramen in a thick and soy sauce flavoured pork soup, which is packed with roast pork slices, nori, egg, and shallots. When served, it’s only traditional to have a spoon in one hand, a set of chopsticks in the other, and to get your head down low to the bowl and slurp away.

If you’re easily tempted like we are, the chicken karaage is never a let down either. Served with Kewpie mayo, the bite-size chicken pieces are lightly battered and salted, and always crispy on the outside and juicy on the inside.

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Changing The Way We Think About Food

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As you know, I am currently undertaking a radical shift in the way I eat until the end of February; no refined carbohydrates and no dairy (other than the occasional coffee).

When I saw this article on Goop.com, it came at the right time. It’s clear that I am struggling to maintain such a shift in my diet, so articles like the one below have been useful to keep me on track; in addition to keeping keeping my eye on the bigger picture.

However, in a typical situation, with work, family, social life and so on, my best intentions don’t always match what I actually put in my mouth. Below are some new ways to forge new pathways into the brain to change the way we think about food—and about our own ability to eat better.

 

Going Mind-to-Table

I’m going to come right out and say it: The way we’ve been thinking about New Year’s wellness resolutions is deeply flawed. Like clockwork, every January we vow to subsist on salad and protein, to steer clear of sugar and alcohol, and to exercise like maniacs.

But what we’re missing is the real groundwork to make lasting, sustainable changes; to execute new behaviors that become habits; and to keep honoring them after that tropical vacation or much-anticipated social event. I think about this a lot because I’m in the business of helping people make healthy changes for the right reasons. Changes that really stick because, over time, the behaviors take less effort to execute. Eventually, it feels pretty good to keep them up.

Researchers have examined the success rates of New Year’s resolutions and found that people tend to crush it in January, but start dropping off after that. By the next holiday season, we tend to be right back where we started…sometimes a step or two behind. We scold ourselves for lacking self-control, and then, as if the prior year was a fluke, we recommit to the same resolutions all over again.

How can so many of us be so tremendously motivated to lose weight but not follow through? (Hint: It’s not because we’re the worst.) I’d argue we’re actually stacking the odds against ourselves because you can’t change your weight or your lifestyle until you change your mindset.

Knowing What You Need to do Is Not Enough

I realized something career-altering early on in my practice: Most of my clients could immediately rattle off all the things they ought to be doing—limiting added sugar, exercising portion control, making better choices at restaurants, and not self-sabotaging. The biggest problem was not knowing how to make the changes. So, while I still make meal plans and talk portion sizes, a big part of my practice is not just about what to change, but how to change. And not just for a week or a month.

Willpower: A Misunderstood Skill

Have you ever come home after a grueling day with every intention of whipping up a healthy meal, only to find yourself eating cereal over the sink? Or put off a morning workout for “later” only to be burned out at the end of a brutal workday? This phenomenon is called ego-depletion. We all have a self-discipline fuel tank that we use throughout the day—checking off our to-do lists, moderating emotions, making big decisions. Once our tanks are empty, we’re much more likely to make impulsive decisions that aren’t consistent with what we really want. No wonder we throw in the towel on our wellness goals!

Before you get discouraged, I want to clear up a couple of things. For starters, willpower is not a trait some of us are born with and others are not. It’s a skill. In this context, it’s the ability to pause and consider our wellness goals before jumping on an impulse (for instance, choosing berries for dessert instead of a decadent baked good). Yes, it’s hard, but the good news is willpower is like a muscle—it can be built up.

Making Your Mind Fit

Weighing short-term wants (like sugar) against big-picture wellness goals requires a good deal of focus and attention. A lot of this work goes down in the prefrontal cortex area of the brain, which regulates thoughts, emotions, and decision-making. Although this area is the most evolved region of the brain, it’s also the most vulnerable to stress. Even periodic instances of unchecked stress can dramatically impede its functioning. This is why so many office dwellers end up hitting the communal pantry for stale-ish pretzels when their inboxes feel insurmountable. Luckily, it’s possible to adapt our conditioning toward these types of triggers, giving us more flexibility and perspective when the s%&# inevitably hits the fan.

Until 20 years ago, it was assumed that only young brains were able to form new connections between nerve cells. Thankfully, we’re actually much more flexible than that. Our brains undergo constant structural and connective changes throughout life in response to experiences and specific, directed thoughts through a process called neuroplasticity. This means we can develop favorable skills and behaviors (like better self-control, for instance), even if those skills and behaviors don’t come naturally to us.

“Mind-fitness” happens by focusing on skills that make us feel more in charge of our decisions. Skills like self-regulation are especially important for sustained weight loss because they help us remain clear-headed under pressure. This gives us more objectivity when considering short-term wants versus big-picture goals, and better impulse control. You can imagine how helpful this ability is when you’re over-tired or post-breakup at a portion-less dinner.

Slowing down and focusing on moment-to-moment experiences improves self-regulation, which is why you can’t walk five steps without someone talking about the benefits of mindfulness and meditation. But I’ve found that simply telling someone to eat more mindfully is usually eye-roll-inducing at best. People know they should be more present while they’re eating, but many don’t know how. So I started recommending techniques that help remedy that.

Goals, Goals, Goals

Since a significant part of making healthy choices comes down to considering your big-picture wellness goals, it’s crucial to understand what they are.

  1. What is it you want?
  2. What’s motivating you?
  3. Are your goals realistic?

Ask yourself these questions and dig deep. If you want to lose weight because your mother or partner hints that you should, I’d strongly consider re-evaluating. If you want to lose weight because you believe once you do you’ll finally land your dream job or dream partner, I’d urge you to re-evaluate again. But if you’re motivated to make lifestyle changes because you want to feel better, more confident, and to be a leaner, stronger, healthier version of yourself, you’re headed in the right direction.

The next important step is making sure your goals are within reach. Setting realistic goals helps you stick with them, rather than getting discouraged when you can’t follow through. Instead of making blanket declarations like “I’m quitting sugar,” opt for something more reasonable like, “I’m avoiding all added sugar in coffee, salad dressings, nut butters, etc., but I’m still going to have one fruit a day, and portion-controlled complex carbs, like 1/2 cup beans or lentils and 1/2 a sweet potato.”

Once your goals are clear, write them down on a notepad or on your phone, and keep them available to you as a reminder.

Know Your Roadblocks

Understanding and empathizing with your roadblocks is crucial, because it helps identify specific strategies. One of my clients was having a particularly hard time with dinner. She loved cooking, but felt overwhelmed by how many recipes she had pinned and screen-shotted. She felt pressure to constantly try out new recipes, but by the time she got home from work and decided on one, a Postmate was already en route. Also, she used to go to the farmer’s market weekly, but found she only used her produce some of the time, so she stopped altogether because she felt guilty about wasting food. So now there were never any fresh veggies on hand to whip up a healthy dinner.

The solution here was pretty straightforward: structure and self-compassion. Instead of worrying about the self-imposed pressure of whipping up new dishes every week, we sat down and made a list of her favorite dishes to rotate through. She could experiment once a week if she felt inspired, but it wasn’t something she had to do in order to feel successful. Since she knew what she was cooking ahead of time, she could Instacart the ingredients from work. Structure and planning always come up in my sessions because when we provide more structure (like having pre-determined recipes and groceries en-route) we don’t actually need as much discipline. The second part was about letting go of the guilt of wasting food. We can all agree that wasting food is a bummer and we’d rather not if we can avoid it but, in my client’s case, the guilt of potential food waste was preventing her from stocking up on fresh produce. Letting go of that guilt meant setting herself up for the week.

 

Scallops and Chorizo

I typically choose recipes based on taste and ease. I am not a talented cook, so it needs to be easy! I also have a kitchen the size of a shoe box.

As I was scrolling through Instagram, I saw an AMAZINGLY delicious picture of a Nigella Lawson dish – scallops and chorizo. YUM!

Versatility is also really important to me, and this dish is perfect for a quick mid-week meal, albeit a bit extravagant, or a diner party.

As it’s refined carbohydrate and dairy free, I too have been able to enjoy it despite my current dietary requirements.

I hope you enjoy it as much as I do!

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Recipe found: Nigella.com

 

  • 110 grams of chorizo
  • 400 grams small scallops (halve them to make 2 thinner discs if they are very fat)
  • juice of ½ lemon 
  • tablespoons chopped fresh parsley

 

  1. Slice the chorizo into rounds no thicker than 3mm / 1/8 inch.
  2. Heat a heavy-based pan on the hob and, when hot, dry-fry the chorizo round until crisped on either side (the chorizo will give out plenty of its own oil); this should take no more than 2 minutes.
  3. Remove the chorizo to a bowl and fry the scallops in the chorizo-oil for about 1 minute a side.
  4. Return the chorizo to the pan with the scallops, add the lemon juice and let bubble for a few seconds before arranging on a serving plate and sprinkling with lots of parsley.

Additional information – for gluten free most chorizo is gluten free but please check packaging.