now blogging at www.katesplates.com.au


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“Snickers” Balls

So I’m off for a girl’s weekend and of course the first thing I pack is … food!  And a girl’s weekend is definitely not complete without chocolate … and icecream … and wine … and a massage.  But let’s just chat about chocolate for now! These peanut and chocolate balls are very moreish but they are kind to your body so the guilt factor is zero when enjoying these tasty treats.

Please don’t attempt these without a really good quality raw cacao (I use Loving Earth) to give it a rich chocolate flavour. It’s also very nutritious for you.

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 Ingredients

2 cups raw or roasted unsalted peanuts
4 tbsp raw cacao powder
2 tbsp coconut oil
10-12 medjool dates, pitted
1 tbsp chia seeds
4 tbsp maple syrup

Method

Process the nuts with the cacao until it is a fine crumb. Add the dates one at a time and continue to blend.  Add all remaining ingredients and process until well combined.

Roll the mixture into bite-sized balls and lay on a baking tray lined with baking paper.  Leave to set in the freezer for at least an hour.  Keep them in the freezer but allow to thaw for twenty minutes or so before serving.  Enjoy with coffee or green tea!

With grace and gusto,

kpx

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Eat. Drink. Blog.

No recipes today, just my observations of a weekend spent with my fellow food bloggers at Eat Drink Blog 2014.  As you can imagine, we did a lot of eating!  We had irresistible food from several of Brisbane’s finest … the unlimited Merlo Coffee was something I may have over-indulged in.  But then there were the pastries from Flour and Chocolate, decadent desserts from PassionTree Velvet and of course the classic ham and cheese croissants from Chester Street Bakery.  We were very spoilt indeed.  So as I declared the start of my “diet” this week, I shared a red wine (yes that’s on my kind of diet) with a friend and debriefed on my whole experience.

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As a relatively new blogger, I noted that food bloggers are a unique bunch … most were younger than I, and most are cafe and restaurant reviewers who share their feedback via Instagram.  So I humbled myself to learn from a young lass ten years my junior, and I am now up and running … you can follow my images here @gracengusto.  It’s a fun way to share a photo diary and build your brand, but for me, it isn’t enough … it isn’t sufficient for me to communicate and share recipes which is what I really love to do.

A couple of standout speakers for me were Christina Soong from The Hungry Australian and Brenda Fawdon, passionate owner of Mondo Organics.  Christina won the accolade of both Overall Winner and Best Food Blog at the Best Australian Blogs 2014 competition organised by the Australian Writers’ Centre.  Although not a brilliant speaker, her content was very helpful and for me personally, very revealing about how the most successful bloggers became so.  I very much admire her writing and I am grateful she came to share what she did.

Brenda is my kind of woman.  She is outspoken, bold and ferociously confident (not only because she is so well read) in the areas of ethical eating and sustainability in food production.  She was a breath of fresh air with her animated and convivial face and she will no doubt be a catalyst for change in her lifetime.  She shared with us her passion for fresh, local and organic (wherever possible) produce and her passion is reflected in her successful West End restaurant, catering company and cooking school … I can’t wait for our family Christmas breakfast there in early December.

We had the pleasure of quizzing a panel of chefs, namely Philip Johnson from E’cco Bistro (a personal favourite – Mr Grace and Gusto proposed here!), Tony Percuoco from Tartufo, Brent Farrell from 85 Miskin St and Josh Okorn, Head Chef from Sofitel’s Prive 249.  It was intriguing to hear how much (and in some cases how little!) us food bloggers impact what they do.  My take out from this session was that they are all humans and they are artists … just like some of us. Mutual respect for each other’s art goes a long way.

After my Sunday session of food styling, I felt I could walk away knowing exactly where I fit in to this emerging industry, one that gives us all a voice and an opportunity to connect with like-minded people.  For now, I will remain a blogger for passion, not for profit.  It is my art, it energizes me and that’s all it needs to be.  It challenges me to always improve my writing, always be honest and to get a lot better at food photography!  This is definitely something I could get lost in learning.

Big thanks to the #EDB14 team!  Congratulations on pulling together a fantastic event with no government funding whatsoever.  Thankyou for your passion and for creating a supportive environment where we can all learn from one another.  Let’s keep in touch online, and I look forward to seeing you all again at the 2016 event, post-France!

With grace and gusto,

kpx


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Strawberry Chia Jam

You have probably noticed the abundance of beautiful, cheap strawberries at the moment?  I don’t think I’ve ever had so many strawberries in my fridge, but a friend recently left me with a whole lot more and instructions to make her some strawberry jam (she knows what I love to do!).

I’ve never made jam before I must admit, and we don’t have it in the house … too easy to get hooked on the sweetness of commercial jam.  So I took it upon myself to play around with a few versions of jam using chia seeds to thicken and maple syrup to sweeten.  I am loving the result. Here is my Thermomix recipe, but if you don’t have one, just boil it all up in a saucepan using the same times and blend once cooked.

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Ingredients

3 cups strawberries, leaves removed
2-4 tbsp maple syrup
grated zest of 2 lemons
2 vanilla seed pods, cut into small pieces (use scissors)
3 tbsp chia seeds

Method

Put the strawberries, 2 tbsp of maple syrup, vanilla seed pods and lemon zest into the TM bowl and blitz on speed 6 for 5 seconds.  Cook on Varoma temperature for 25 minutes.

Add the chia seeds and taste to see if you need more maple syrup.  Cook for a further 5 minutes on Varoma temperature.

Pour into sterilised jars and close lid immediately to help create a seal in the lid.  Store in refrigerator.  Enjoy on homemade bread or toast!

With grace and gusto,

kpx