Tag Archives: spices

Quinoa, Cinnamon And Chia Seed Bars

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It’s been a lot of years since I have eaten store-bought muesli bars. They have too much sugar for my liking and added preservatives that I just don’t care for. I prefer to make my own.

This simple recipe is adapted from one I wrote for Who Magazine last year.

Oats and quinoa flakes are combined with spices, dried fruit and nuts. It uses rice bran syrup as a natural alternative to highly processed sugar, and chia seeds soaked to a gel to help hold it all together during baking.

 

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Using rice bran syrup makes these quinoa and chia seed bars low Gi, and that’s a good thing! Low GI foods are digested slower, causing a lower rise in blood glucose levels making it a more sustainable energy source, which also keeps you fuller for longer.  Yay! 

For those of you with children who face the weekly ordeal of packing lunch boxes,(I have two of them that like to inspect the contents of their boxes each day), teach them good food doesn’t come from a packet and add these to their weekly routine.

For hikers and bushwalkers, these bars can quickly become a backpack staple, and one you’ll be happy to have near by when hitting those mountains.

And if you are the type of person to have breakfast on the run (not me, I am truly dedicated to this first meal of the day, and cannot leave home with out it) these bars would get you off to a good start.

Get baking!

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Quinoa and chia seed bars 

1 tbsp (Australian standard size: 20ml) black chia seeds

1/2 cup rice bran syrup

1/4 cup rice bran oil, or grape seed oil

2 tbsp honey

1/2 tsp mixed spice

1 tsp cinnamon

1 cup quinoa flakes 

3/4 cup rolled oats

1/2 cup shredded coconut

1 1/2 cups trail mix (dried fruit and nut mix)

Pre heat oven to 175C

Place the chia seeds and 1/4 cup of cold water in  a small bowl, whisk and stand for 10 minutes till chia seeds turn to a thick gel.

Place the rice bran syrup, oil, honey (if using) and spices in a small saucepan, bring to the boil, turn off the heat and set aside.

In a large bowl combine the quinoa flakes, rolled oats, shredded coconut and trail mix.

Add the soaked chia seeds to the warm rice bran syrup and whisk to combine. Pour onto the quinoa and oat mixture and stir till well combined.

Line a 30cm shallow baking tray with baking paper. Place the quinoa mixture  into the lined tray and using a spatula press it firmly all over till it’s smooth and level.

Bake in the oven for 35 minutes. Allow to cool slightly in the tray before cooling on a wire rack.  Once bars have cooled, use a sharp knife to cut bars to desired size. Store in an air tight container for up to one week.

Note: For a vegan version of these bars, leave out the 2 tbsp of honey.

(C) Copy right foodfrommichelleskitchen 2016 –  Quinoa and chia seed bars

 

 

 

 

Lamb and Chickpea Kofta with Kale and Tahini Salad

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As a rule of thumb I will only make kofta with freshly ground lamb mince. For this you will need to visit a respected butcher. The spices to flavour the meat are important. I use Middle Eastern flavours – cinnamon, all spice, and nutmeg. To heighten these spices I add smoked paprika and lemon zest.

Now, not traditional to a kofta mix, but something I think works a treat, are chickpeas. These need to be blended to a rough crumb and combined with chopped parsley and onion to the free-range lamb mince.

Kofta can be cooked in a fry pan, but for a taste that is hard to beat I cook them on the barbecue – rather slowly in fact. This gives them a chance to cook through properly without getting too dark in colour on the outside. This batch took 20 odd minutes to cook. That leaves plenty of time for laying the table, which if at all possible, setting a table in the garden and eating them out side only adds to the experience of this satisfying meal.

 

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A subtly spiced lamb kofta (not the prettiest of foods) needs two things. A good salad; enter kale. And a good sauce; enter tahini.

When crisp sprightly leaves of kale are shredded and steamed they soften and relax and suddenly the kale is vibrant and green with a milder flavour than when served raw. It’s delicious alongside these homemade kofta. Although the salad and kofta are good companions there is no reason why either one couldn’t be made as a dish on it’s own.

Tahini offers it’s versatility in this recipe as both a sauce and a salad dressing. It might be known that tahini – ground sesame seed paste – loves lemon juice, and garlic for that matter, and when combined with the simple pairings of salt and pepper makes a flavour worthy of both these dishes.

And then thee’s the grilled bread, it is optional, yet I find it hard to resist.

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Kale and tahini salad with Lamb and chickpea kofta

Ingredients 

For the kofta

500g lamb freshly ground free-range lamb mince

1/2 tsp ground cinnamon

1/2 tsp ground all spice

1/2 tsp nutmeg

3/4 tsp smoked paprika

1 tsp salt

1/2 tsp white pepper

Zest of 1 lemon

1/2 cup chickpeas, drained and rinsed (use a 400g can of chickpeas and reserve the remaining chickpeas for the salad)

1/3 cup roughly chopped parsley

1 small onion, roughly chopped

1 clove garlic, chopped

For the salad

4 cups firmly packed shredded kale

Remaining chickpeas (use what’s left of the can from the kofta)

1/4 cup toasted sunflower seeds

2-3 small avocados (or 1 large)

For the dressing and sauce

3 tbsp tahini paste

1 large lemon, juiced

1 small clove garlic, minced

1 tbsp chopped parsley

Large pinch salt and cracked black pepper

To serve

Grilled pita bread or sliced tomatoes

For the kofta, place the lamb mince, spices, seasoning and lemon zest in a large bowl.

Place the chickpeas in a food processor and blitz to a small crumb, add to the mince. Put the onion, garlic and parsley in the food processor and chop finely, add to the mince. Use your hands to mix the kofta till well combined. Take small handfuls of kofta mince and shape using the palm of your hand into small sausage like cylinders. Place on a tray and set aside out of the fridge for 30 minutes.

Meanwhile, steam the shredded kale for 2 minutes, rinse briefly under cold water to cool then squeeze the excess water from the kale, place in a large salad bowl. Add the remaining drained and rinsed chickpeas, sliced avocado and toasted sunflower seeds (make sure they’re cold).

For the tahini dressing, place all the ingredients in a small bowl and mix to combine. Check the seasoning and consistency, if the tahini dressing is too thick add a dash of hot water or a little extra lemon juice.

Pre heat a barbecue or a frypan (use a little oil if using a fry pan). Cook the kofta on a medium to low heat so the meat cooks slowly and cooks all the way through, turn regularly to ensure even cooking.  This can take 20 odd minutes on a low barbecue or if using a fry pan maybe 12 – 15 minutes.

Just before serving, take a few tbsp of tahini sauce and dress the salad, toss to combine. Serve the kofta with the remaining tahini sauce. To accompany the meal you might add some grilled pita bread or sliced tomatoes – this is optional.

Lamb And Spinach Gozleme – The Cheats Way

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The Turkish gozleme stall at the Addison road markets in Marrickville churns out perfectly cooked gozleme grilled to an exact goldenness with crisp dough and deliciously salty cheese filling. On lazy sundays, when I can’t be bothered cooking, I go there for lunch.

I admire the women who run the stall (not sure why it’s only women, but it is). They gather around large tables with their white bakers caps and roll the dough hour after hour until finally, early in the afternoon, they run empty of dough and late comers miss out. The line for their stall is always long, and offers plenty of opportunity for crowd gazing, dog spotting, and child dodging fun.

But this is not a post about their gozleme. This is a post on how to cheat when making your own gozleme; it’s a ‘I can’t be bothered going to the markets and lining up and fighting the crowds’ kind of recipe, and ‘I don’t want to be stuck in the kitchen all afternoon’ kind of recipe.

Some times short cuts are necessary, right? Some times there’s not enough hours in the day to get every thing done. Some times you have to cheat!

You will need to buy a good Pita bread. I get a Greek one that I’m fond of. It fries well and has a nice taste. Next, you need some free range lamb mince (if you’re going to cheat, you might as well cheat in style). I go to my local butcher and buy it from there because they ground the mince while I wait, that to me is worth the extra dollars. A few simple spices, cinnamon, cumin, and a pinch of chilli, (my kids don’t even notice the chilli), onion and garlic, that’s it. Then you need a tasty, salty feta, and some washed, picked and sliced English spinach. Oh, don’t forget the lemon. This is for squeezing over the gozleme at the end, and lots of it.

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Unlike the talented Turkish women at the markets, who use a large barbecue style grill, you can take another short cut and fry it in a pan. This does require a lowish heat so as to not burn the pita bread before the spinach has a chance to wilt. And oil. You must use oil (I go for Rice bran or Grape seed). This will need to be brushed onto the pita bread before cooking, and again on the other side before flipping. A gentle hand is required so the filling doesn’t tumble out of the (cheats) gozleme as there’s no sides to fold over and hold the filling in.

I won’t pretend that this is as good as a gozleme made from scratch, but for a cheats version, it comes pretty close!

Cheats gozleme – lamb, spinach and feta

Makes 4 gozleme

Ingredients 

1 brown onion

1 clove garlic

300g free range lamb mince

1 tsp ground cumin

1/2 tsp cinnamon

1/2 tsp dried chilli flakes

Salt

Cracked black pepper

4 Greek pita breads

1 bunch English spinach, washed and picked

150g feta cheese

1 lemon cut into wedges

Rice bran or Grape seed oil for frying

Dice the onion and chop the garlic.

Heat a frypan with 1 tbsp oil, add the onion and garlic with a pinch of salt and cook gently for several minutes.

Add the lamb mince and fry till cooked through.

Add the spices and stir till fragrant. Remove from heat, set aside to cool.

Lay out one Greek pita bread on a clean bench, place a quarter of the lamb mince on one half of the bread, sprinkle with 1 quarter of the washed, picked and sliced spinach, then crumble over the feta. Heat a non stick fry pan. Brush one side of the pita bread with oil, place the oiled side down into the warm pan, fry gently till golden. Before turning, brush the remaining side with oil and cook till golden, flip another time on each side. When the spinach is wilted and the feta melted, place gozleme on a board, and cut into 5 pieces. Sprinkle with sea salt, cracked pepper and squeeze a wedge of lemon over the gozleme; eat whilst hot and fresh.

Dukkah – The King of Spice Blends

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There are days where the craving for freshly made dukkah is so strong that I find no satisfaction till a batch is roasted, pounded, and then eaten whilst still warm. 

It has to be said, possibly the best way to enjoy duukah is with bread and extra virgin olive oil. It certainly is the way I most often consume it. But I also value dukkah for its versatility. Once I have a batch made the remainder stores well and can be sprinkled on vegetables before roasting, used as a seasoning to salads, dusted on to meat or fish before cooking, it can be used in dressings, added to yoghurt… I find it such a useful flavouring for so many things that is a staple in my kitchen.

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I prefer my dukkah made with hazelnuts. Added to the roasted spices of coriander, cumin, sesame, and black pepper, I add dry roasted hazelnuts (this saves roasting and peeling them). You can swap the hazelnuts for pistachios, or for a less authentic offering, macadamia nuts also makes a nice blend.

I’ve used a mix of black sesame and white sesame seeds because I like the contrast. Plus, I had them in the cupboard – they needed using up. But generally white sesame seeds are the go. The remaining, and just as important ingredient, is sea salt. And it should be sea salt, don’t swap this for any thing else.

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The recipe has deliberately been kept to a smallish amount so you use the dukkah up while it’s fresh. It’s so simple to make and really takes no time at all, and can and should be made regularly.

Egyptian dukkah 

Ingredients 

1/4 cup dry roasted hazelnuts

1 tbsp white sesame seeds

1tbsp black sesame seeds

1 tbsp cumin seeds

2 tbsp coriander seeds

1/2 tsp whole black peppercorns

1/2 tsp sea salt

Place the sesame seeds, spices and peppercorns into a fry pan. Roast them on a medium heat till the spices begin to sizzle and pop – don’t walk away at this stage as it won’t take long.

Roughly chop the dry roasted hazelnuts and place in a mortar and pestle with the roasted spices and sea salt; alternatively use a spice grinder. Pound or grind to a coarse consistency – remember to keep it chunky. Check seasoning.

Serve with fresh Lebanese bread and extra virgin olive oil. Store remaining dukkah in an air tight container in the pantry for 2 weeks.

(C) Copy right: Food From Michelle’s Kitchen 2016 Egyptian dukkah

Masala Chai – My Way

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I’m not a purest, and I can’t tell you this is a truly traditional recipe for masala chai (India’s favourite spiced tea) , but it’s kinda close, and it’s utterly delicious.

Making a cup of chai has become a ritual different to coffee making. It offers a heart warming pick-me-up that I find irresistible when I’m feeling flat. I like it strong with spices and sweetened with honey. And now that I make my own spice mix I can never go back to store bought chai tea bags, they just don’t cut it.

I’ve used cardamon pods, cinnamon sticks, cloves, dried ginger (you could try fresh), black pepper corns and star anise to make my version of masala chai. It can be pounded in the mortar and pestle, but a spice grinder will make quick work of the job. If using a spice grinder keep it to a chunky consistency.

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This amount will make a medium size jar of the spice mix, which will make about 30 cups of strong chai, or even more cups if you like it a a lesser strength. It’s easy to double or triple the recipe of the spice mix for larger amounts, and it stores well for several months in an airtight glass jar.

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Masala chai – my way

Make a special trip to a good spice store were you know the spices are fresh.

Ingredients 

10g cloves

20g cardamon pods

40g cinnamon quills

20g dried ginger (also called kibbled ginger)

2g black or white peppercorns

15g star anise

Combine all the spices, place in a pan and roast over a dry heat for several minutes, set aside to cool. Place the spices in a mortar and pestle and pound to a fine consistency, or use a spice grinder to do the hard work (don’t grind it too fine though). Store the spice mix in a glass jar with a tight fitting lid.

How to make 2 cups of chai

Place 1 tbsp of the spice mix in a small sauce pan with 2 tsp good quality black tea leaves. Add 1 1/2 cups of cold water, bring to the boil, set aside to steep for 3 minutes. Place back on the heat, add 1 1/2 cups milk and heat till almost boiling. Remove from the heat, add 2 tsp honey, stir till dissolved, then strain the chai through a fine sieve and serve in large mugs.

Pear and Date Chutney

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Keeping homemade chutney in the pantry or fridge is like having a jar of flavour on hand. A good chutney is vinegary, slightly sweet, and subtly spiced. It should be cooked till it’s thick and coloured.

The simplicity of throwing everything in the pot, all at the one time, has me making this pear and date chutney time-and-time-again.

The possibilities are endless as to what you might serve this fruity pear and date chutney with. I love it with cheese – camembert, goats cheese, aged cheddar, basically any cheese, a strong blue is charming sweetened with a dollop of this chutney. Spread it on your favourite sandwich, smear it on fresh sourdough, eat it with double smoked ham. Last weekend, whilst on a yoga retreat, I served this pear and date chutney with chickpea and pumpkin fritters to the delight of all who ate them. There are no rules to what you can or can’t eat this sweet chutney with. I’d even be so bold as to say, have it with a spicy curry.

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Pear and Date Chutney

Ingredients

1.5 kg firm green pears

200g dried dates

4 roma tomato, diced

2 tbsp mustard seeds

5 cloves

3 star anise

2 tsp fine salt

2 cups apple cider vinegar

1 cup brown sugar

1 cup water

Dice pears and place in a large heavy based pot, add dates and the remaining ingredients. Stir and place on the heat. Bring to the boil, cook at a medium – low  heat till chutney thickens and liquid evaporates – 50-60 minutes. Once chutney is cooked you can use a potato masher to slightly mash the pear, or leave as is for a chunkier version.

Spoon the hot chutney into sterilised jars. Seal the lid whilst chutney is still hot. Set aside to cool completely. Store in a dark cupboard for up to three months. Refrigerate after opening.