smoky eggplant dip (baba ghanouj)

I’m somewhat of a grazer, preferring to pick throughout the day or at least eat many small meals instead of few larger ones. Our dinner often consists purely of a handful of homemade dips, good quality cheese and dukkah with olive oil, with the leftovers making for the perfect lunch or between-meals snack the next day. Picking up a voluptuous eggplant at the markets this morning meant only one thing: smoky eggplant dip. Two reasons for this: I’m a big fan of said dip, and because preparing eggplant in any other fashion scares me stupid.



I’ve been scarred many a time by my own failings in the kitchen involving a tough moussaka and a spongy curry, to name a few. Of all the vegetable friends I make in the kitchen, eggplant simply ain’t one of them. That and five years of vegetarianism ensuring I was limited to dishes containing what seemed to be the vegetarian’s ‘holy trinity’ (capsicum, zucchini and eggplant), not exactly my favourite flavour combination. I’m certain I simply need more practice with this purple gem, as my Nonna’s ‘melanzane parmigiana’ is one of my favourite things in her repertoire. But then again, if your Nonna is doing a fine job of said dish, shouldn’t I let sleeping dogs lie? I’ll stick with my baba ghanouj, thank you very much.


smoky eggplant dip (baba ghanouj) – makes approx 1-1.5 cups – gluten free + vegan

you’ll need…

  • 1 large eggplant, halved lengthways
  • 1 tbsp tahini
  • juice of 1 lemon
  • 1 tsp cumin
  • 1 small clove of garlic
  • few tbsp of extra virgin olive oil, to smooth out the mix
  • salt and pepper, to taste

here’s what you do…

  1. Preheat your grill to it’s highest setting. Place the two eggplant halves, skin side up, on a tray lined with foil. Grill until the skin is blackened and the flesh can be pierced easily with a skewer. The timing of this will vary depending on your grill and the size of your eggplant, but mine took roughly 30 minutes. Keep your eye on it, checking every 5 minutes or so.
  2. Allow the eggplant to cool slightly before scooping the flesh into your food processor. Add remaining ingredients except the oil and whiz, adding the oil 1 tbsp at a time whilst processor is running. Make sure you only add enough oil to smooth out the mixture, allowing for a creamy, homogenous dip.
  3. Season to taste, even adding more lemon or cumin if you wish. Serve drizzled with fresh olive oil and black sesame seeds, if you wish, alongside fresh, warm bread.

baked ricotta with honey, orange + toasty walnuts

I’m definitely a sweet-toothed-breakfast kinda gal. Not in the sense that I require a batch of breakfast brownies at the ready as I roll out of bed (although, that’s got me thinking…), I just prefer the fruity, lighter options to start the day. I’ve been looking for inspiration, something different to add to the morning repertoire, and after the hubby bought 1kg of the creamiest ricotta for a recipe that only required 100g, I was left with much web-trawling time to find a use for the remaining 900g. I knew where my search would begin.


Gourmet Traveller always have the most unique and, well, gourmet recipes with a great search function that allows you to find a recipe for any ingredient you’ve got lying around. This one in particular jumped out at me, being won over simply by the recipe’s picture. Oh, and it’s simplicity! The ricotta ends up soaked in this gloriously sticky-sweet honey syrup that permeates every little air bubble within the creamy cheese. I ran out of almonds, so substituted with toasty walnuts, a welcomed addition. I think you could use just about any nut – hazelnuts spring to mind also – and try it with maple instead of honey for a different kick. I kept it gluten free, opting to use almond meal instead of the plain flour. The result is the lightest, most moist and warming wedge of ricotta that paired perfectly with dense wholemeal spelt. So versatile, you could serve it with fresh fruit or as a light dessert – either way, it’s satisfied my mornings sweet-tooth in a relative wholesome way, that’s for sure.


baked ricotta with honey, orange + walnuts – adapted from Gourmet Traveller – serves 4-6 – gluten free

you’ll need…

  • 40g butter, at room temperature
  • 55g raw sugar
  • 2 tbsp honey
  • 1 tbsp almond meal
  • 380g dry, firm ricotta
  • 2 eggs
  • handful of toasted walnuts, roughly chopped
  • for the orange syrup:
    • zest of 1 orange, and juice of half the orange
    • 80gm honey

here’s what you do…

  1. Preheat oven to 240C. Beat the butter, sugar and honey in an electric mixer until smooth. Add in eggs individually, beating until well combined. Fold in the ricotta and almond meal (I use the lowest speed on my Kitchenaid).
  2. Transfer to a greased and lined 9-inch cake tin, smoothing mixture evenly in the pan. Bake for 12-16 min or until puffed and golden (mine took closer to 20 min – just keep a close eye so it doesn’t burn!).
  3. For the syrup, combine ingredients in a small saucepan over low heat, stirring until honey dissolves. Spoon it over the baked ricotta and then top with walnuts, serving it with some dark, rich sourdough.

oat + choc chip cookies

I want to blame my pregnancy cravings for my need to have freshly baked cookies within reach at all times, but I know this desire exists equally as much when I am not with child. The making, the baking, the dipping in the milk…it’s all a fantasy of the cookie process that is often lingering in the forefront of my mind.


But as you know, one cannot snack on sugary, so-calorie-high-it’ll-make-you-hallucinate cookies all the time for the simple fact it’s not good for you (and one’s teeth might fall out). Good for your soul, yes. Good for your insulin levels and general health, maybe not. So, I’m always trawling for recipes that allow me to bend the rules about just how many cookies I can ingest before I head steadily into a sugar coma. And of course, I’m always conscious about the nutrition side of things. Well, ladies and gents, these are my perfect little morsels of heaven.


I’m truly not a fan of the super-sweet cookie, preferring a much more substantial kind, one that could double as an afternoon snack with a glass of milk, and keep me going ’til dinner. These oat cookies are sweet enough to satisfy your cravings, yet wholesome enough and not likely to spike your sugar levels. Oh, and you don’t even need stirring utensils! All you need is the one bowl and your two hands. I’ve amended the recipe from The Healthy Chef, simply to suit my own tastes and because I can’t leave well enough alone. I’m certain you’ll love these, especially when dunked into a tall glass of milk. If you prefer a more chewy cookie, decrease the sugar to 1/3 cup, although they’ll be slightly less sweet of course. I often make them with the lesser amount of sugar during the week for the kids and make a cheeky batch for the hubby and I with that just touch more sugar. We deserve it.


oat + choc chip cookies – adapted from The Healthy Chef – makes 12 – wheat free (can be gluten free if oats are certified)

you’ll need…

  • 2 cups/200g rolled oats (traditional style)
  • 50g desiccated coconut
  • 1/2 cup rapadura sugar (decrease to 1/3 cup for a more chewy, less sweet cookie)
  • 60g melted butter
  • 1 free-range egg
  • 1 tsp vanilla extract
  • pinch of salt
  • 100g 70% cocoa choc chips

here’s what you do…

  1. Preheat oven to 150C and line a baking tray with baking paper. Combine all ingredients except the choc chips, mixing and squishing with your hands until the oats start to stick together. Let mixture rest for a few minutes to allow oats to soften.
  2. Add in the choc chips and mix through. Using an ice-cream or cookie scoop (or simply your hands) form into little mounds and place on the tray. You should have around 11 or 12. I use this OXO Cookie Scoop – it’s a lifesaver.
  3. Bake for 20 minutes or until golden brown, checking half way through. Allow to cool on the tray. Serve with a tall glass of milk, at any time of the day you see fit.

beetroot leaf, preserved lemon and goats curd pizza

I’d taken a liking to the gorgeous leaves adorning the top of my lucky find – the humble beetroot. I’d been scouring farmers markets, gourmet markets, black market vegetable traders (not really)…any kind of market, simply to get my hands on heirloom beets. Being so incredibly difficult to come across, I had all but given up when they appeared at my local Sunday farmer’s markets, sitting in their sun-scorched yellow glory. I promptly grabbed some along with the usual red kind, and had my way with them, roasting then turning them into a salad laden with hazelnuts and goats cheese, but I digress. The leaves attached to the beetroot bunches, more so the red beets, were the most gorgeous green with almost-iridescent red veins running through, and I couldn’t bear to throw them out. IMG_20150528_133302 A quick google and it turns out you can do so much with the leaves. Although they can be quite bitter tasting, cooking them negates this. They pair exceptionally well with the lemons and pine nuts, giving this pizza an almost Moroccan-esque feel. They’re also bursting at the seams with antioxidants, vitamins A and C for your immune system and vitamin K for your bones. They just look damn pretty too. Minimal prep is needed to make this pizza, as while the dough is proving you can prepare the topping and let it sit happily in the corner. The dough recipe is an absolute gem, and I recommend using bread flour for that extra stretchy dough, otherwise plain flour will suffice. We often make a double batch and freeze half for an impromptu pizza dinner when all inspiration is out the window. IMG_20150528_133609IMG_20150528_132804 beetroot leaf, preserved lemon and goats curd pizza – serves 2-3 as a meal, or 4 as an entree/snack

you’ll need…

pizza dough – adapted from The Cook’s Companion

  • 2 tsp instant yeast
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 200g bread/pizza flour, or plain flour
  • 1/2 cup lukewarm water
  • 2 tsp extra virgin olive oil

topping – adapted from Matthew Evans

  • 1 tbsp olive oil
  • 1 tbsp butter
  • 1/2 onion, thinly sliced
  • 2 garlic cloves, crushed
  • 1/2 tsp fennel seeds
  • 130g beetroot leaves + stems, roughly shredded
  • 1/2 tbsp pine nuts
  • 1/4 preserved lemon, rind only, thinly sliced
  • 2-3 tbsp goats curd

here’s what you do…

pizza dough

  1. Mix the yeast, salt and flour in a large bowl. Mix water with oil and beat into the ingredients. Knead for 10 minutes or until smooth and elastic (I used my kitchenaid + dough hook on the second speed for 10min).
  2. Turn into a lightly oiled bowl, cover with cling wrap and place in a warm spot to prove for 1.5 hours or until doubled in size. Punch dough back, knead lightly in flour then allow to prove, covered with wrap, for a further 30 minutes. Roll the dough out to a 9 inch round (I prefer my base not too thin – but adapt it to your liking) and transfer to a lined baking tray or oiled pizza tray. Spread a teaspoon or so of olive oil on the base, leaving a 2cm margin around the edge, and set aside.


  1. Preheat oven to 220C (200 Fan Forced). Heat the oil and butter in a large frying pan on medium heat. Add onion and gently fry for 5 minutes or until soft. Add garlic and fennel seeds and fry for a further minute.
  2. Add the beetroot leaves and fry until wilted, then set aside. Season lightly.
  3. Spread beetroot leaf topping onto pizza, leaving the margin. Sprinkle on the pine nuts and preserved lemon.
  4. Bake for 10-13 minutes, or until crust starts to go golden brown. Top with goats curd.

honey roasted carrots, cumin yoghurt + macadamia dukkah

Although it is not truly winter here for another week or so, the cold weather is truly upon us and I’m craving warm foods, slow cooked meals and sticky honey chai by the bucketload. I’m always looking for new, healthy sides to nestle alongside my comfortingly juicy roast, and with keeping in the middle eastern theme that I had bestowed upon my lamb, these carrots were a perfect match. So simple, so healthy, and so tasty. And with their crazy-high antioxidant and vitamin A content (important for immune system and vision), what’s not to love?


I picked up some purple carrots from the farmers markets, conjuring up dreams of colourful stained glass-esque patterns on my baking paper. Contrasted against the orange of the regular kind, purple carrots lend a gorgeous hue unlike no other. All you need to do is quarter them, drizzle over some oil and honey and bake away. I served them with a simple yoghurt and some dukkah I had lying in the fridge, and they all mingled well together. Any dukkah will pair well, and even plain yoghurt if you are short on time. I can even see these being a fantastic addition to a bowl of quinoa and chickpeas, for a simple midnight dinner. The possibilities are endless!


honey roasted carrots, cumin yoghurt + macadamia dukkah – serves 4 as a side – GF

you’ll need…

honey roasted carrots

  • 5 carrots, quartered lengthways (3 purple, 2 orange, or whatever combo you prefer)
  • 2 tbsp extra virgin olive oil
  • 1 tbsp honey

cumin yoghurt

  • 3 tbsp natural yoghurt
  • 1 tsp lemon juice
  • 1/4 tsp ground cumin

macadamia dukkah (adapted from Claire K Creations)

  • 1 cup macadamias
  • 1/2 cup sesame seeds
  • 1 tbsp coriander seeds
  • 2 tbsp cumin seeds
  • 1 tsp ground black pepper
  • 1 tsp salt

here’s what you do…

  1. Preheat oven to 180C. For the dukkah, place the nuts on a baking tray lined with paper, and roast for 8-10 minutes, or until golden. Gently dry-roast the sesame seeds in a pan until golden, then transfer to the bowl of a food processor. Place the coriander and cumin seeds in the pan and gently toast until fragrant, then place in the food processor with the nuts. Mix in remaining ingredients then pulse to blitz slightly, being careful not to over-process the nuts. Place in sterilised jars and store in the fridge.
  2. Preheat oven to 200C (conventional oven). For the carrots, place them on a baking tray. Combine the oil and honey and season well, then drizzle over the carrots, dispersing well over each one. Roast for 25-30 minutes, depending on the thickness of the carrots, until tender.
  3. For the cumin yoghurt, combine all ingredients in a bowl and season to taste. Set aside.
  4. To serve, drizzle yoghurt over the carrots and top with the dukkah. Make sure you scoop up the sticky-sweet juices from the baking tray and use it to drizzle over the carrots when serving.

graham-cracker carrot cakes, cream cheese swirl + nutty seed praline

There are 2 reasons why I love carrot cake: it can be wholesome enough to be considered part of your daily veggie intake (ahem) and its cake. Cake! And these aren’t so tooth-achingly sweet that you’ll be speed dialing your dentist for a check up. Plus it has your daily fat intake (cream cheese) and even a little protein in there too (cream cheese) so really, with the carrots, we’re looking at a complete meal right here. All your food groups, wrapped up in one neat, little package. But all that aside, these just taste really good. IMG_20150401_152103 It’s got an interesting addition of graham crackers (or granita biscuits, as we call them down under) which I’ve never tried in a cake mixture before, and while they aren’t overpowering in taste, they definitely add a little something. You won’t need any large equipment for this recipe either (unless you’d like to grate the carrots in your food processor) so it’s super simple. I’ve topped them with my favourite cream-cheese icing, a never-fail, pipeable, not-too-sweet mix which pairs well with the cakes’ earthy tones. Top it with crunchy nut and seed praline, and you’re onto a winner. Now, you just have to find your 4 other daily servings of vegetables, and you can call it a day. 2015-05-05 16.24.47 graham-cracker carrot cakes, cream cheese swirl + toffee praline – makes 9-10 cupcakes – can be made dairy free you’ll need… graham-cracker carrot cakes – adapted from smitten kitchen

  • 1/2 cup plain spelt flour
  • 50g granita or digestive biscuits, finely ground
  • 1/4 tsp baking soda
  • 3/4 tsp baking powder
  • 1/4 tsp salt
  • 3/4 tsp ground cinnamon
  • pinch of nutmeg
  • 1/4 tsp ground ginger
  • 2/3 cup rapadura sugar
  • 100g melted butter (or oil to make dairy-free)
  • 2 small, free-range eggs
  • 180g finely grated carrots (peeled)

cream cheese icing – adapted from annie’s eats

  • 140g cream cheese icing, chilled
  • 45g unsalted butter, room temperature
  • 205g icing sugar, sifted
  • pinch of salt


  • 40g pepitas
  • 40g almonds
  • 40g macadamias
  • 1 tsp salt
  • 90g caster sugar

here’s what you do…

  1. For the cakes, preheat your oven to 180C (160C fan forced). Line your cupcake tin with papers, or grease well.
  2. In a large bowl, whisk together flour, biscuit crumbs, baking soda, baking powder, salt and spices.
  3. In a medium bowl, whisk together sugar butter and eggs until smooth, then add carrots. Pour wet ingredients into dry and fold in until just combined.
  4. Divide batter evenly between 9-10 cupcake cases (I use this cookie scoop to ensure consistent sizing of my cupcakes). Bake for 15-17 minutes, or until a skewer comes out clean when inserted into the middle. Remove immediately onto a wire cooling rack
  5. For the praline, line a baking tray with baking paper. Toast the pepitas and nuts in a dry frying pan until slightly coloured and set aside.
  6. Put the sugar in the a small saucepan and place over medium heat (the pan must be big enough so the sugar is one fine layer instead of a thick one). Swirl the pan without stirring the sugar, and allow it to melt and become a mahogany-caramel colour.
  7. Pour the nuts into the saucepan, and working quickly, coat the nuts in the caramel and pour onto the baking tray. Place in the freezer for 10 minutes, or until hardened. Briefly pulse the praline in a food processor to break up into small pieces, or simply chop with a knife. Set aside.
  8. For the icing, combine the cream cheese and butter in the bowl of an electric mixer and beat on medium speed for 3 minutes. Add in the icing sugar and salt and mix on low for 30 seconds, then increase speed to medium-high for 3 minutes.
  9. To assemble, pipe swirls onto the cakes and top with the praline.

chicken, kale + lemon soup (Jewish penicillin) // easy chicken stock recipe

It may not be quite the blustery winter weather here yet, but the nights cool down enough for me to saunter to the wine rack and stare longingly at a bottle of red. The change in seasons is comforting, bringing crisp mornings filled with blue skies and everlasting sunshine. You get the best of both worlds – the warm dressing gown and cup of tea in the morning, moderately warm days without blistering sunshine and nights cool enough you don’t need icepacks placed precariously on your body to simply romanticize the idea of sleep. Autumn, I love you (almost as much as spring, shh).

Chicken soup is magical. It’s been so named ‘Jewish penicillin’ for its ability to help reduce upper-respiratory inflammation, clearing up head colds, sneezes, sniffles etc. It’s not quite proven what exactly in chicken soup has such superpowers, but I know I feel better after a bowl of this. I’ve added the extra superpowers of kale and lemon to help you fight any nasties, and kept it free of noodles for extra lightness and for those who are gluten-intolerant. Feel free to add in noodles, rice or pasta to bulk it out, depending on your appetite. But of course, you need not be sick to make a bowl of this wonderful stuff.


You start with making your own stock – a habit which you should definitely make regular. You’ll have about 1-1.5 litres left over, with which you can make risotto, drink as is, or simply freeze. If you’ve got homemade stock already (and I can’t stress enough how important it is to have the homemade stuff for this recipe) simply skip the stock-making process and add in a poached chicken breast – easy! Now, in terms of wine-pairing, I’m not sure this soup is traditionally paired with red, but who’s watching?

chicken, kale + lemon soup (Jewish penicillin) – serves approx 4, depending on appetite + add-ins – gluten + dairy free

you’ll need…

for the chicken stock – adapted from Bill Granger’s Everyday

  • 1 large organic chicken (or 1.5kg chicken bones)
  • 2 onions, skins intact, quartered
  • 2 carrots, peeled and roughly chopped
  • 2 leafy celery stalks, roughly chopped
  • 1 tsp peppercorns
  • 1 bay leaf

for the soup – adapted from Two Peas & Their Pod

  • 2 tbsp extra virgin olive oil
  • 1 onion, chopped
  • 3 large or 4 small garlic cloves, chopped finely
  • 2 carrots, cut diagonally into half-inch thick slices
  • 2 celery stalks, halved lengthways and cut into half-inch thick slices
  • 4 fresh thyme sprigs
  • 1 bay leaf
  • 2 litres homemade chicken stock
  • 2 cups shredded chicken leftover from stock (if you are using bones instead of a whole chicken to make the stock, simply bring a small pot of water to the boil, place a large chicken breast in ensuring there is enough water to cover it, turn off the heat and cover for 25 minutes then shred)
  • zest and juice of 1 lemon
  • 60g shredded kale
  • for serving, extra virgin olive oil and cracked pepper

here’s what you do…

for the chicken stock

  1. Place all ingredients into a large stockpot and pour over 4 litres of cold water. Slowly bring to the boil, then simmer for 2.5-3 hours.
  2. Strain stock, shredding and reserving chicken and discarding vegetables. If using chicken bones instead, discard these also. Refrigerate for up to 5 days, or freeze for a few months.

for the soup

  1. Heat the oil in a large saucepan over medium heat. Add onion, garlic, carrots, celery, thyme and bay leaf, stirring for 5 minutes or until softened.
  2. Pour in the stock, bringing it to the boil. Add in the chicken and season well. Simmer for 20-25 minutes, or until vegetables are tender. At this point, you can add noodles, pasta or rice in with the vegetables, if you so wish.
  3. Add kale and lemon zest and juice, and turn off heat. The residual heat is all you need to soften the kale – we don’t want mush! Serve steaming hot drizzled with olive oil and sprinkled with fresh cracked pepper.