now blogging at www.katesplates.com.au


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French Lessons

Oh how I wish the title for this post was original … but I couldn’t resist borrowing it from Peter Mayle, author of A Year In Provence.  He wrote French Lessons in 2001 to share stories from his time visiting small villages across France during their local food festivals.  He’s been privy to the inner workings of truffle hunting, the craziness of vineyard marathons that include regular stops for a glass of wine and many other food fantasies and celebrations.  I was glued to every page as you can imagine (on a side note, Mayle has written dozens of books on topics you wouldn’t expect … I’ll leave the research to you if you’re interested).

I’ve been keeping a record of the curious little lessons I have picked up over the last five weeks since we left Australia. Some are no surprise but still get me thinking … others are lessons I didn’t expect to pick up.

Here’s a (not so) quick summary:

* French people are not house proud the way we are.  They don’t spend a lot of money on decorative items or fancy furniture, and they’re not particularly worried about their gardens either.  They don’t often entertain friends at home – they’re more likely to go out to a restaurant or cafe.  And an “appo” or drink after work is more common than a full meal out with friends.

* The cafe culture we know and love in Australia is surprisingly not as entrenched in the French culture as you might expect.  It’s not easy to find a really good coffee – trust me I have tried – and not once have I seen anyone doing their work commute with a takeaway coffee in their hands.  The coffee is often filtered, not ground fresh and extracted, and I hate to say that on occasion, we have been served a café crème (flat white) that was microwaved to heat the milk!!!  A super quick summary of my usual coffees in France: un café is our equivalent of a short black (although often not as strong); une noisettte is a short black with a dollop of frothed milk – similar to our macchiato; lattes and flat whites both fall under the category of un café crème; and every time you order one of these is like playing Russian roulette.  Those who make coffee at home do so with a filtration machine.

* The French love their systems and paperwork.  They all agree it can be painful but “it’s good for the economy” – it creates jobs.  The social welfare here is very visible – plenty of offices in the main street that claim to be able to offer government assistance to anyone who needs it.  The mentality in general, is also that the community and, above all, the government should look after it’s people – it’s their responsibility.  One hilarious example of their love of systems for us, was when I enthusiastically volunteered my husband to help with school swimming lessons in May.  Thinking it would be as straight forward as it is in Australia, he agreed happily.  Then we received a note from the Directrice of the school explaining that he would need to drive half an hour one Monday night in February (still very cold weather in case you’re wondering) to a village pool nearby to take a test to ensure he was in fact a capable swimmer.  The external examiner would asses his swimming skills before reporting back to the Directrice on his verdict.  I’m glad my hubby can’t speak French very well at this stage – you can imagine his reaction.  It went something like this …. “I’m Strayan, I can swim!!”.

* An “Artisan” is someone to be respected for their trade.  It doesn’t matter if they are butchers, bakers, artists, jewellers or pottery experts, they are well respected for dedicating a big chunk of their productive life to one skill set or trade.  When you ask about a certain product or service and you hear the word “Artisan”, you should respond with the appropriate “oohs” and “ahhs” and sound suitably impressed.  Of course they deserve their accolades – this commitment to one trade is not something we see often in Australia.  And given the history France can boast, they often have generations of dedication to a trade to support their reputation.

* Une vie cachée est une vie heureuse.  I found this saying quite fascinating … told to me by a french person.  “A life hidden, is a happy life”.  This sums up a philosophy I am beginning to suspect is fairly typical around here.  People are not exactly transparent about their struggles or challenges.  They’re quite happy to talk about society in general in terms of what’s difficult, but vulnerability is not something that comes naturally to them.  It’s true this is probably also the case in Australia, and certainly I am a foreigner so I’m not going to be someone they open up to quickly.  But the people I have met have shared enough with me to help me understand that people keep their business private unless it’s absolutely necessary to share.  Food and politics are the most common topics of conversation, and everyone is encouraged to share their opinion on these.  Get them talking about food and you have a great conversation starter!

* To find the gold, you need to go looking for it!  The cold weather, coupled with the ancient buildings that almost always look “closed” means it’s difficult to see what’s really happening in a village unless you’re brave enough to peek in windows and open doors without knowing what you’ll find.  The most memorable encounters so far have been when, despite being outside my comfort zone, I dared to open doors to cafes, shops and wineries that looked closed up, only to find the heating is on, the lights are burning and there is a hive of activity inside!  I thought I would walk into a room where people stop and stare at the obvious foreigner who has stumbled into somewhere she shouldn’t be.  But it’s all been in my over active imagination.  Walk in like you own the place, or admit up front you’re an Australian tourist, and they’ll happily share their passions and pass on referrals to other places to explore.

* I was surprised by the number of English people in our part of the South of France – many of them have come here to retire.  I wondered if the French were sick of them “taking over” or if they all kept to themselves.  I have been pleasantly surprised to learn that many (but not all) English people who live here do speak the language quite well and have deliberately integrated amicably.   Historically, the French are grateful for the English who came in and bought up properties and kept village economies alive when the French couldn’t do it alone.  We have been so warmly welcomed – we could easily feel at home here.

And finally, this may sound overly simple, but a very wise woman once said that “people are people”.  And I’ve thought this more than once since being here these last five weeks.  A smile goes a long way, as it does anywhere in the world. Knowing the basic pleasantries of “Bonjour Madame”, “Merci Monsieur”, “S’il vous plait” and “Au Revoir Mesieurs Dames” is greatly appreciated by the French.  They delight in foreigners who speak their language well and are quick to compliment them.  I have bravely (perhaps a little naively) stepped out and extended an invitation to lunch at our villa, not knowing if a Sunday was the right day to do it, not knowing if the town Mayor would think me weird for inviting him despite having just met him and having never met his wife.  But I believe that when your heart is right and you express yourself through your true passion, there is no language barrier.  I am pleased to say that I received a very warm acceptance to my invitation (from the Mayor and another four families!) and I have thoroughly enjoyed preparing to receive our first lunch guests.  I have done a little research to make sure my menu is in line with the French culture but I also know that if I do something a little different or if everything doesn’t go quite according to plan, people are people, and my new friends will be patient with me and appreciate the sentiment more than the details.

I will finish with some pics from my morning at the Carcassonne markets … this is still my absolute favourite thing to do in France … wander through the markets, try the amazing produce that these passionate people grow, and practice my sing-song-y French pleasantries so that I can get to a point that they don’t even suspect I’m not a local :).

kalecheesecabbage flowers

Green Cabbages                               Artisan Fromageurs                                            Les Fleurs

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Les pommes                                       Mad foodie in 2 degrees             Even the crates are gorgeous

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Les olives                                             Witlof is in season                        Markets are a way of life

A bientot mes amis,

kpx


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Lost in France

I just got home from being gloriously lost! On my way back from a neighboring village market, Madamoiselle GPS decided to take me on a picturesque version of the homeward trail. I was cursing that my good camera wasn’t with me because the sky was so blue despite the chilly temps. I could have stopped and taken phone photos but I was running late to pick up the kids from school for lunch.
I meandered through narrow roads only to turn the corner and be greeted with sweeping golden fields of a crop I must find out about – rye maybe? And then the next bend presented me with buildings from centuries ago – now used as farm barns or not used for anything at all other than to delight tourists like me who get lost on country roads. The landsacpe on the way to the market was silver.  Everything was coated in what looked like a fine spiders web, glistening from time to time. The sun only rises here at 8.45am so you can imagine it takes the countryside a little while to wake up when the sun is so lazy. But on this trip home, the colours have all changed to golds, greens, yellows and oranges – all offset beautifully by the bright blue sky.
Foggy trees
A foggy morning shot from last week
Accompanying me in the car was the rich smell of roast farm chicken I’d just bought and une baguette ancienne still warm from the boulangerie oven. This sensory overload is what gets me about France – the simple things in life are so rich here. Country living is one thing but in this corner of south-west France, they don’t know how good they’ve got it. I am looking forward to getting lost on that road again and I’ll take my camera so I can share it with you. I passed a tomato farmer too – I bet they’re amazing. We’ll go back together and taste them.
In my following posts I will back fill you on the journey so far and how we’ve come to settle in these last two weeks in our little piece of French country paradise.  But before I go, I’ll leave you with how I learned to make pasta carbonara like the french do.  So simple, but rich with flavour.  They use lardons which is essentially cubed bacon but in France, you buy the bacon meat in a slab from the butcher and cube it yourself (or you can buy it pre-cut from the supermarket but it kills the romance). The meat is smokey and cured and has a different texture from what we’re used to in Australia.  And it seems the French use lardons in as many dishes as they can!  I don’t blame them – it tastes divine.
mirepoix markets_cheese mirepoix markets
Country markets in Mirepoix
Les Pâtes à la Carbonara
Serves 4-5
Ingredients
500gms good quality bacon, cubed or diced (lardons)
200gms fresh Parmesan cheese, grated
1 egg yolk per person (save half the shell for presentation)
3/4 cup Creme Fraiche or pure cream
4 cloves garlic, crushed or finely diced
500gms fresh pasta
salt and pepper
extra virgin olive oil, cold pressed is best
Method
Get the water for the pasta boiling with a teaspoon of salt.  Add the pasta once boiling and cook accordingly.
Meanwhile, add a little olive oil to a hot pan and saute the garlic with the lardons for approximately 5 minutes.  Add the cream and turn down the heat a little.  Stir regularly and add salt and pepper to taste.  After 2 minutes, add half the Parmesan cheese and stir to combine.
Once the pasta is cooked and drained, add it to the pan with the cream sauce.  Stir to coat and serve immediately. Top with extra Parmesan cheese and complete your creation by serving the egg yolk in its shell on top.  The kids have a ball mixing this extra bit of sauce into the dish!
cabonara3cabonara
Bon Appetit!
A bientot, kpx


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Mindful of France

Today marks the “30 days to go” point.  My mind reflects my surroundings … half-packed boxes, scrawled to-do lists, piles of things with sticky notes on them and of course, baking on the bench – which is my form of procrastination.  I should be focused on packing a few boxes a day or crossing at least one task off the to-do lists, but instead today, I reveled in the opportunity to bake a birthday cake for a friend.  It made me realise cooking is my grounding point.  It’s the space in which I feel most calm, most purposeful, and most effective.

My body is still here in Australia but my mind is very much wandering through the green vineyards of the French countryside or staring out my new bedroom window at the ice-capped Pyrenees.  Not exactly helpful but something I can’t seem to change. Just like when I was back at high school, I know I’ll leave the bulk of the workload until the last minute.

french-countryside

This will be my last post from Australia … next time you hear from me, I will have two feet firmly planted on French territory.  I will be practicing my sing-songy greetings “bonjour madame” as I waltz into the boulangerie each morning and my mind will have clicked over to thinking in my heart language.  I have so many thoughts and questions about what that time will look like and how it will feel.  How will the kids adapt?  Will they feel a connection to France as I do?  Will hubby love the space and time to think?  Will he really enjoy not being able to communicate as he so often jokes about?  What sort of new rhythm will we find?  How will my schedule differ?  Can I really step away from being busy and involved in so many projects, to simply focus on family, writing and my new purpose (whatever that may be) overseas?

I hope you stick around to share this journey with me as I discover the answers to these questions.  It will no doubt be a period of many lessons, realizations and perhaps a few challenges.  My not-so-secret ambition is to get myself invited into the homes of older French people who still cook the traditional way and haven’t yet been infected with the fast-food epidemic that strangles Australians.  I am naively optimistic that they will passionately share their favourite family recipes that have been passed down through the ages.  I imagine myself sitting across the (two hundred year old) table from a man who looks seventy but is actually well into his nineties.  His eyes are twinkling as he retells a story his grandchildren have heard too many times before.  Pride is mixed with nostalgia as he recalls family meals that his grandmother spent the day preparing.  I’m looking forward to having all the time in the world to hear these stories and more, to meet the farmers, and providores of the incredibly rich food the South-West region of France has to offer.

There’ll be plenty of recipes along the way to share with you.  And no doubt much inspiration for my instagram account. Let’s stay in touch online. An Aussie family is about to unplug from their busy life and embark on a year in a foreign country, moving from a big city to a regional village. Most of us don’t speak the language and we have no return tickets.  Our visa will allow us to stay for a year but so far we’ve barely planned the first month! Sounds terrifying and perhaps even a little crazy … but the truth is, this is my dream. And I couldn’t be happier.

With grace and gusto,

kpx


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Breaky in a Jar

I am blessed to be a stay-at-home mum.  Although my “job” requires me to get up early pretty much every morning and sometimes stay up late, I love the privilege of not missing any moments with the kids.  We have friends who are staying with us at the moment, and they both work full time.  It has reminded me of our past life – pre-kids- when we lived to a completely different schedule.  These two are fascinating to watch … they are super disciplined when it comes to structuring their time, and they always prioritise time for preparing nutritious food to take to work each day.  I am impressed!  I can’t say I was quite so disciplined in my days of working a corporate job … rather I looked forward to lunching out and often dining out late at night … sigh … that was many moons ago.

So my guests have inspired me to put this little number together … it’s a fantastic way to do breakfast (or morning tea, or afternoon tea) on the run and make sure you’re getting good quality nutrition.  My next test is to create a nut-free version, pack it in a stainless steel tub from Daiso, and send it off to school to see if that tub comes home empty.  As a side note, Daiso is dangerously good for stocking your kitchen with neat little utensils and containers (among many other things!!).

Let me start with the granola … this really is so simple and you can add whatever your favourite nuts, seeds and dry fruit are.  But stick to these basic quantities as a guide.  For a nut-free version, omit the nuts and add more seeds and dry fruit.

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Homemade Granola

5 cups oats
1 cup nuts (I used almonds, pecans and cashews)
1/2 – 1 cup shredded coconut (check supermarket brands to ensure they don’t contain preservative 220)
1/2 cup dried fruit (I used dried figs, dried apples and currants)
2 tbsp chia seeds
1/2 cup coconut oil
1/2 cup honey
1/4 cup water
pinch sea salt
1 tbsp vanilla bean paste

Method

Pre-heat the oven to 140 degrees fan forced.

Chop nuts and dried fruit in a Thermomix or food processor.  Combine all dry ingredients in a large bowl and mix together.  Pour onto a shallow, lined baking dish (you may need 2) and spread evenly.

In a small saucepan, melt the coconut oil, honey, vanilla bean paste and water until dissolved.  Swirl it quickly to combine all ingredients and gently pour over the granola mix on the baking trays.  Using your fingers, massage the oil mixture into the granola as evenly as possible. Smooth again with a spatula to ensure it cooks evenly.

Bake at 140 degrees for 30-45 mins depending on how crunchy you like it.

For a nut-free version, omit the nuts for other dried fruit and seeds like pepitas, sesame seeds, flax seeds, goji berries, dried cranberries, sultanas or quinoa.

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And now for the chia pudding … one of my favourite out and about snacks if I’m stuck without something I brought from home, is a Chia Pod. They’re nutritious and tasty and satisfying … and expensive!  They cost between $3.69-$4.99 each.  This little recipe creates the equivalent for only $1.50 per serve!!  Worth the extra planning to have this in the fridge as a basic.

Chia Pudding

400gms organic coconut milk
50gms chia seeds
2-3 tsp vanilla bean paste

Method

Combine all the ingredients in a jar, shake to combine and leave to set in the fridge overnight.  You can also add berries or passionfruit but just know it will be a little runnier – the acid from the fruit doesn’t help it set as well.

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To Create Your Breaky Jar:

Layer your granola, fresh berries and chia pudding in the sterilised jar and top with more fresh berries before fixing the lid.  Can be prepared up to 12 hours in advance.  Stir or shake before enjoying!

With grace and gusto, kpx

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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.

strawberry chia jam logo

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


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Tarte à la moutarde

I had a moment today when someone said next week is September!  I knew this, of course, but it triggered a sub-conscience thought I’d buried that September was to be the start of “the busy lead up” to our France trip.  Put it this way, on my to-do list this week, is “create a 100 day countdown calendar for kids”.  We’ve talked about France for so long that the poor little dears have it constantly in their minds as a “someday” trip but sooner rather than later, they will start to figure out that mummy’s crazy dream is in fact coming true.

The short version update is this: visa application appointment in Sydney is 28 days away; at this stage, we’re getting on that plane not knowing when we will return; I have changed the font three times on the cover of our visa application display folder (which contains 72 pieces of paper and counting) in an attempt to appear serious but enthusiastic; I am negotiating with myself on a daily basis about which pieces of furniture to keep and store, and which to give away or sell.  When friends come to visit or stay, they almost always walk out with something we can live without because stuff = space = storage costs.

So a couple of days ago, I welcomed the opportunity to be brought back to “the main thing”.  I’ve been dreaming about what it will be like when we actually get there and settle into a slower-paced life, about the rich produce France boasts and the village markets that permeate all your senses.  A French friend who was staying with us, and has just left (we miss you Maria!) cooked us a typically French tomato and mustard tart.  It is decadent in it’s simplicity: the rich tomatoes and dijon mustard combination packs a punch in flavour. She was (rightly) chuffed with her dish and while she didn’t understand my Aussie wise-crack (think The Castle) “This is going straight to the blog!”, she is happy for me to share her recipe.  It’s actually best served at room temperature or even cold.  I shamefully admit to inhaling three pieces in a row the next day!

tarte a la moutarde_logo

Tarte à la moutarde

Ingredients

Frozen or fresh puff pastry – enough to fit your desired tart tin
(She used a very large dish which required 4 sheets … an average 20-25cm dish would require about 2 sheets.  If you like a thick crust, you may wish to double up on the pastry.)

1/2 cup good quality dijon mustard
3-4 large vine-ripened tomatoes, thinly sliced
salt and pepper to taste
handful of fresh thyme
3/4 cup grated gruyere or cheddar cheese
olive oil to drizzle

Method

Preheat the oven to 180 degrees.

Grease your tart pan and fit the thawed pastry to the pan, cutting off excess and using to “patch” any holes.

Smear the mustard generously along the bottom of the pastry and up the sides.

Sprinkle the grated cheese along the base.

Layer your tomato slices so that they are slightly overlapping.  Start on the outside of the pan and work your way into the middle.

Season to taste with salt and pepper, sprinkle the fresh thyme and drizzle the olive oil over the top before baking for 35 minutes or until the pastry crust is golden brown.

Allow to cool to room temperature before serving.

With grace and gusto,

kpx


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Lunchbox Muffins

If you’re anything like me, you’re always looking for creative ways to add nutrition to lunchboxes!  One of my favourites is the savoury muffin – they’re quick and easy and there are endless combinations to suit your kids’ tastes. I have found one trick that seems to work … I always use bacon, salami or chorizo in my savoury muffins to boost flavour – they risk tasting bland without something strong. For a vegetarian option, olives are ideal.  Stick to the basic recipe below and from there, you can add whatever cheese your kids like (cheddar, feta, ricotta, parmesan) and hide lots of vegies (spinach, carrot, zuccini, onion etc).   Would love to hear what combinations you come up with … here’s a few suggestions to get you thinking:

* Spinach and Ricotta

* Chorizo, Cheddar and Spinach

* Bacon and cheese

* Capsicum,  Olive and Salami

* Zuccini, Bacon and Carrot

green lunchbox muffins

Lunchbox Muffins – Base Recipe

Ingredients – makes 16 muffins

150gms of cheese, grated
2 eggs
150gms bacon
350gms French flour
2 tsp baking powder
1/2 onion, finely diced
large handful baby spinach leaves
1 tbsp fresh herbs of choice
250gms milk
1 tbsp olive oil

Method

Preheat the oven at 180 degrees.

Saute the onion and bacon/salami for 5 minutes until just cooked.  Put all the ingredients into a food processor and process until combined.

Spoon tablespoons into a well-greased muffin pan (N.B I have tried with paper wrappers and without and find without is best.  The kids complained of the wrappers sticking to the muffin which means they don’t bother eating it).  Bake for approx 25 minutes or until golden brown.

These freeze really well.  They’re also great to reheat in the oven for at-home lunches.  You may choose to cut them in half horizontally and spread with cream cheese or marscapone.

With grace and gusto,

kpx


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Olive Tapenade Scrolls

A busy week so far!  Didn’t think I’d have time to blog but I couldn’t resist throwing this one up quickly because I was so pleased with how quick and simple (and yum!) they were.  I’m one of those lucky mums whose kids love olives.  Yes they have expensive tastes but olives are so versatile and can really lift a dish – whether it’s a main meal or a mid-morning snack.

We have sports day this week which means us parents have a great excuse to get together for a picnic and watch the kids run around the oval.  But it also means I need to feed the whole family!  So these scrolls came to mind … I’ve never made them before but they were so easy.  I used this olive tapenade to give it a boost of flavour and it means I don’t have to make boring old sandwiches.  You could use a variety of different olives to change the flavours … many tapenades call for anchovies but I find the flavour a little too strong for kiddies, so almonds are a good substitute to let the olives shine through.

Olive Tapenade

Ingredients

2 cloves of garlic (if you don’t like a strong garlic flavour, drop it back to 1)
1/2 bunch parsley
6-8 sprigs chives
40 gms whole almonds
200gms black kalamata olives, pitted
20-40gms extra virgin olive oil
cracked black pepper to taste

Method

Place the herbs and garlic in a food processor or Thermomix and process until finely chopped (TM31 speed 7 for 3 secs).

Add the almonds and olives and process (speed 7 for 5 sec) until you reach your desired consistency.

Add the EVOO and pepper and process to combine.

olive tapenade scrolls_logo

Olive Tapenade Scrolls

Use the french flour bread recipe to make your dough.

Once you have left the dough to prove for 30-60mins, cut into 16 balls.

Roll out each ball to a sausage shape and then flatten gently with the palm of your hand.

Using a small spatula or icing knife, spread a layer of olive tapenade along one side of the dough.

Roll one end to the other to create your scroll and place on a baking tray lined with baking paper.

Continue with the remaining 15, and spray the tops with water before cooking at 220 degrees for about 30 minutes or until golden brown.

These will freeze really well and are a great afternoon tea.  For a nut-free version for lunchboxes, omit the almonds or substitute for anchovies.

With grace and gusto,

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