Roasted Purple Carrots & Dukkah

This simple side dish will liven up any meal.  A drizzle of honey prior to roasting will help bring out the sweetness of the carrots, and the sprinkling of Dukkah to finish takes it to a whole new level – undoubtedly, these carrots will be the first to go off the table.

Feel free to use plain old orange carrots, but make sure they’re small and do get the ones with the tops attached, leaving the carrots whole with a little green on the top does wonders for your presentation.

-alex

IMGP6940Ingredients:

  • One bunch of small purple carrots, tops trimmed
  • 4-5 whole garlic cloves, skin on
  • 1 Tbsp honey
  • 2-3 sprigs thyme
  • olive oil to coat
  • salt and pepper to season
  • 2 Tbsp Dukkah to sprinkle

Method:

Pre-heat oven to 200°C.  Prepare your carrots, trimming off the green tops, leave about 2 cm of the stalk, and wash thoroughly.  Line a baking dish with baking paper.  Place your carrots, thyme, garlic in the dish.  Drizzle honey and olive oil over and toss to combine.  Season generously with salt and pepper.

IMGP6902Roast carrots in oven for 30-40 minutes or until tender.  Every 15 minutes remove from oven and toss.  Keep an eye on the garlic, remove early if beginning to burn.

IMGP6911Serve carrots with roasted garlic and a good sprinkling of Dukkah.

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Harissa Spiced Freekeh with Honey Roasted Vegetables

Late last year, I discovered a lovely grain that is now being hailed as a leader in 2014′s round of new ‘superfoods’- freekeh. Freekeh is a grain slightly similar to barley, but it can be a bit fiddly to cook with- the first time we used it we were a little freaked out by the smell it gave off once cooked. However, if you cook it correctly and pair it well, freekeh is absolutely delicious, and the perfect base for hearty, grain-based salads, like the one we have created here! This dish is so much more than a salad- the combination of chickpeas and freekeh make it filling, while it gets its spice from the North Africa spice paste, harissa. For this dish you will need the following:

For the freekeh:

- 1 cup freekeh, uncooked (we have used cracked and wholegrain, both to equal success- just alter the cooking instructions accordingly)

- 1 bay leaf

- 1 cup/can of chickpeas (we used dried chickpeas but feel free to use canned for convenience)

- 2 cups passata (for ours we simply blitzed up a can of san marzano tomatoes)

For the roasted/sauteed vegetables:

- 1 bunch tuscan kale, thinly sliced

- 1/2 head cauliflower, cut into small pieces

- 1 brown onion, diced

- 3 purple carrots, cut into small pieces

- 1 large beet, cut into small pieces

- 1/3 sweet potato, cut into small pieces

- 3 tablespoons (approx) honey

- 2 tablespoons harissa

- 1 birds eye chili, diced

For the dressing:

- honey

- white wine vinegar

- harissa

- EVOO

- cilantro

Ok so I know that this seems like a fairly massive ingredients list, but it really isn’t! Many of these are pantry staples, and the roasted vegetables can easily be swapped for other root veggies you may already have lying around at home. Begin by putting the passata in a saucepan, and once it comes to a boil, add the freekeh and the bay leaf. While the freekeh is cooking, set the oven to 180 C.

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Cook the freekeh according to the directions on your packet (cooking time varies depending on whether it is wholegrain or cracked).

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Next, pop the chopped cauliflower, carrots and sweet potato onto a baking tray, and drizzle with the honey, harissa, and plenty of cracked pepper. Mix until the dressing is evenly spread across the veggies- you may need to add more honey or harissa. Pop into the oven for 15 or so minutes minutes, or until the veggies are cooked through and caramelized.

IMGP6240While the veggies are roasting and the freekeh is cooking away, sauté the onion in a pan over medium heat. Once the onion is translucent, add the kale and chili until the kale is tender and cooked through.

IMGP6244At this point, the freekeh should be cooked through, or almost done.

IMGP6242Finally, make your dressing. Start with EVOO as a base, about 5 tablespoons. Then add about 2 tablespoons of white wine vinegar, a teaspoon of honey and about a tablespoon of harissa. Taste the dressing, see what you think- is it acidic enough? sweet enough? spicy? Adjust the levels of the different ingredients to your personal preference, and when you are happy with it, add a handful of finely chopped fresh cilantro and give it one, final good stir. Combine the roasted veggies, kale, freekeh and dressing in a large bowl and mix thoroughly. Add salt to taste, and serve!
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This is a healthy dish that packs a punch with its strong flavours- we hope you enjoy it as much as we do! This serving will make you tons, enough for at least a few meals. Enjoy!

- priya

IMGP6249Harissa Spiced Freekeh with Honey Roasted Vegetables

Motel Mexicola, Semiyak (Bali)- Throwback Thursday pt. 5

Throwback Thursday is back! This time with another awesome meal from our trip to Bali, however it couldn’t be more different from our other meals because it was MEXICAN! Anyone who has read our blog before knows that Alex and I have a soft spot for Mexican food- al pastor tacos and margaritas remind us of our time living in LA in the best way possible. So when we heard that there was a great Mexican place in Bali, of all places, we had to give it a go! We wound up at Motel Mexicola on Valentine’s Day after some last minute reservations, and were seated upstairs in the slightly quieter seating area that seemed to be filled with couples holding hands (have I mentioned that we hate going out to eat on Valentine’s Day? Because it’s true.). We started off with some cocktails, including one served in a fresh coconut, something we had been looking forward to our entire trip! The guacamole and esquites (corn with sour cream and cheese) we had to start were both nice and traditional, but were blown out of the water by the kingfish ceviche we had next. The ceviche was so fresh, acidic and delicious- we loved the heat from the chilies and were just overall so pleased with this dish. The black bean empanadas were hearty and delicious, and I loved the sour cream sauce that topped them. The tacos we had- al pastor, pescado and pollo, were all tiny but traditional- from the housemade corn tortillas to the zesty salsas! The restaurant itself was bustling and full of life, and had a great vibe about it. I’ve included a few photos of the restaurant itself, something I don’t often do, because the attention to detail was just incredible! We ended up going to Mexicola twice because we were so happy with the service and food, (not to mention proximity to our hotel- the awesome Cicada Townhouses!) and highly recommend it to anyone passing through Seminyak!

- priya

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cocktail is a MASSIVE coconut

IMGP6476literally the size of my head

IMGP6593guacamole

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Esquites- corn / sour cream / cheese

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Ceviche Acapulco- kingfish / lime / tomato / onion / coriander / chili

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 empanadas de frijoles- black beans / cheese / sour cream

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 taco de pescado- grilled fish / pico de gallo / onion / coriander

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taco al pastor- axiote grilled pork / pineapple salsa / coriander

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taco de pollo- grilled chicken / pico de gallo / cabbage

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view from the second floor

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such a beautifully detailed space

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our view of the bar from night two

Homemade Dukkah

*Ahem*.. you there.. yes, you Internet people – let me start by apologising for my utter laziness in regards to posts and commend Priya on picking up the slack, where would I be without her I wonder..? Probably eating steak and chips in front of the TV, but I digress.  Starting a new job has kept me rather busy and given me an excuse not to blog, but I will endeavour to pull my finger out and post some nice recipes, slightly more frequently for you guys and if I forget give me a nudge won’t you?

Having never made Dukkah before and eaten it so many times I thought it was worth giving a crack.  And believe you me it’s as simple as it is delicious.  Dukkah is an Egyptian nut, seed and spice blend designed to be eaten with bread and oil, but I’ve been seeing it popping up in many a Melbourne brunch spot sprinkled over poached eggs.  I used almonds in this recipe, but feel free to use hazelnuts or any other nut that tickles your pickle.  I added a dash of chilli powder (to keep Priya happy), but it would work just as well without.  Make it en masse, keep it in an air-tight container in a dark place and it will last for ages – ready to be pulled out when unexpected guests drop in.  I’ve been experimenting using it in other recipes, which will be up on the blog sooner rather than later (I hope).   OK, enough jabbering, give the below recipe a shot, it’s simple, cheap and oh so moreish!

-alex

IMGP6839Ingredients:

  • 1 cup almonds
  • 2/3 cup sesame seeds
  • 3 Tbsp whole coriander seeds
  • 3 Tbsp whole cumin seeds
  • 1 Tbsp whole pepper corns
  • 1 tsp sea salt flakes
  • 1 tsp chilli powder
  • Olive oil to serve
  • Crust bread to serve

Method:

Preheat your oven to 180°C.  Line an oven dish with baking paper.  Spread almonds over baking paper and bake for 5-7 minutes, or until golden and toasted.  Set on separate plate to cool.

IMGP6822Spread sesame seeds over baking paper and toast in oven for 1-3 minutes, or until golden.  Set aside to cool.

IMGP6824Toast coriander, cumin and pepper in frying pan over medium heat for 1-2 minutes or until aromatic.  Transfer to pestle and mortar and grind to rough powder, or use a spice grinder.

IMGP6825When almonds are cool, pour into food processor and blitz until rough crumb.

IMGP6835Add sesame seeds, spice blend, chilli powder and salt and give one good blitz – just to mix.  Serve alongside warmed bread and olive oil for a delicious pre-dinner snack.  Or liven up some roast veg with a sprinkle just before serving or over some eggs.  Keep leftovers in an airtight container.

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Homemade Chicken Stock

Alex and I are always whining about how we can never find good (or even mediocre) stock at the grocery store, so last week I finally bit my tongue and made some stock myself! To make your own homemade stock, you will need the following:

- one chicken carcass

- two large carrots

- four or so stalks of celery

- one leek

- three brown onions

- four to five cloves of garlic

- two bay leaves

- one bundle of thyme

- one stalk of rosemary

- one bundle of parsley

- a few sage leaves

- a handful of whole peppercorns

- two dried chilies (optional)

Now if you want to make this stock vegetable stock instead of chicken stock, simply leave out the chicken carcass and boom! Done.
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Start by chopping the carrots, leek, onion and celery into large pieces- thirds or so. Place them in a large pot with the chicken carcass, a few dried chilies, the herbs and peppercorns. Fill the pot with just enough water to cover all of the vegetables and chicken. Cover the pot and bring to a boil.

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Once the stock has been brought to a boil, bring it down to a simmer and let it simmer for several hours. Occasionally remove the lid from the stock and skim off the scum with a spoon, and then stir.

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After three to four hours, your stock should look like this. Kinda gnarly, but who cares because it smells delicious.

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Next, strain the liquid through a colander into a large bowl.

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Sometimes one strain isn’t enough to form a clear liquid, so toss out the solids and strain it once more.

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This next time I strained it through a fine sieve, which helped remove any last bits and pieces.

IMGP6813Put the stock in a few containers- maybe one to freeze and one to refrigerate, and you’re done! Stock in the freezer should last ages, and stock in the fridge will last up to 5-7 days (I would plan on using it sooner rather than later- see any of the risotto or soup recipes on this blog for inspiration!). A simple and delicious day time task that is so rewarding- expect a recipe up on the blog soon that highlights our wonderful homemade stock!

- priya

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Homemade Chicken Stock

Meatball & Wine Bar, Melbourne CBD

Meatball, located in the ever-trendy Flinders Lane, was a random choice for us one day whilst out shopping in the city. Since then we have been back twice, and always leave stuffed and pleased with our meals. Cocktails at Meatball are delicious and don’t skimp on the alcohol, and the Italian-focused wine list partners well with almost any option on the menu. Aside from starters, which include charcuterie and cheese boards, the meatballs truly are the star of the show here. The main course concept is simple- choose a ball (beef, pork, chicken, fish or veggie), choose a sauce (red italian tomato, white creamy or green pesto salsa verde), and choose something for your balls to sit on (housemade pasta, polenta and white beans just being a few of the options). Being the polenta lovers that we are, we’ve found it difficult to go with something other than our creamy favourite when we go to meatball, and with good reason. The polenta is rich and creamy, and is the perfect base for the balls and sauce. On our first visit, Alex had the pork balls, which he said were delicious but slightly overpowered by the orange zest. I went with the chicken balls- these were a bit dry but I really enjoyed the inclusion of pistachios. The green sauce is quite zesty, but at times the raw taste of garlic was a bit overpowering; Alex’s red sauce was more balanced and went better with the polenta.

On my next visit with a friend we arrived after 9:30, which meant that we had to order off of the late night menu, which sadly does not include the main event ‘balls and all’- instead we had to resort to sliders. We went with the veggie sliders (my friend being vegetarian) topped with green sauce, and were pleasantly surprised with the veggie balls! Made with a chickpea base, these balls were flavorsome and amazingly not dry at all- they also stood up to the vibrant salsa verde better than the chicken balls, especially in the delicious, buttery buns (insert risqué food joke here). We also had a starter from the cheese section- burrata on a bed of pangrattato aka delicious breadcrumbs. The burrata was divine- rich, creamy goodness oozing out over the crispy breadcrumbs…I would go back again and again solely for this dish. Service at Meatball can be a bit touch and go- while everyone who works there is delightful (at least everyone we have interacted with), there tends to be quite a bit of lag time in between them checking in on customers. While sometimes this goes unnoticed, on our last visit (for which we forgot our camera) the amount of time it took for our waiter to notice us while we were trying to flag him down for more wine resulted in us just asking for the check instead. Wait time aside, our experiences at Meatball have always been fun and delicious, and this will certainly keep us coming back.

- priya

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a lovely passionfruit cocktail

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pork balls with red sauce on polenta

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chicken balls with green sauce on polenta

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burrata on a bed of pangrattato

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veggie sliders with pesto salsa verde

Meatball & Wine Bar on Urbanspoon

Raj on Taj, Adelaide- Throwback Thursday pt. 4

Raj on Taj is a classic Indian establishment with two locations in Adelaide. Alex and I stopped by after I was struck by a craving for Indian food (these happen often), and were quickly seated by a friendly waitress who was more than happy to chat with us about our holidays. When it came time to order, we ordered our dishes spicy- something we do at almost every Indian restaurant we visit. We are usually left feeling short changed in the spice department, but not at Raj on Taj. Our three mains were so shockingly spicy that we went through pitcher after pitcher of water, while blaming one another for the spicy situation we had before us. Yet we were both happy to have found an Indian restaurant that actually understood the meaning of “spicy please”, even if it had us both almost in tears. Once we got past the spice, our three dishes- butter chicken, chicken jalfrezi and paneer mahkani, were all delicious. Similar looking in photos, but each with their own tweaks; the jalfrezi was slightly sour, while the butter chicken was classically creamy and the paneer rich and tomato-y. The garlic naan was standard, if a bit on the heavy side. All in all, Raj on Taj is a place that knows how to deliver the goods in typical Indian restaurant style, but more importantly, actually takes heed of ones request for spice. Next time we are back, we will probably only ask for one dish to be spicy, because Raj on Taj truly knows the meaning of spice, in the best way possible.

- priya

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papaddum

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Butter Chicken

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Paneer Tikka Masala

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garlic naan

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Chicken Jalfrezi

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