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  • Date, Oat, Nut and Seed Biscuits

    Something happens to a woman when she has kids. It's like my kids don't see me as a person, but a walking snack dispenser! I know the mums know what I'm talking about! I don't understand how a child, who weighs 15kg can constantly be hungry while eating 12 meals a day? Well I have adapted a Date and Oat biscuit recipe to include lots of goodies that really fill up bellies and prove popular with kids and adults alike. I've never really been a baker. Baking is a science, you really have to follow the rules or like me, you'll have some disasters in the kitchen. Even though I know all this, for some reason I find it really hard to read a recipe and stick to it. I just can't help myself! I don't know if it's because I think I know better, or I'm too lazy to head to the shops to pick up the 2 extra eggs the recipe calls for, surely 1 egg will do right? Wrong! What I have learned is that there are certain elements of a recipe you can't mess with (like butter, eggs, flour), and some things you can (like flavourings). I am all about cooking to your own taste and what you have in the pantry (or what is on special at the supermarket!) so live a little and experiment with this one. It's a really forgiving recipe and even though I make it slightly different every time, I haven't stuffed it up yet! “The oats, nuts and seeds can all be substituted for whatever you fancy, as long as these items add up to a total of 3 and 1 third of a cup.” Date, Oat, Nut and Seed Biscuits adapted from a recipe Preparation time: 20 minutes Cooking time: 15 minutes Makes: 14 Large biscuits 3/4 Cup of Pitted Dried Dates, chopped 1/4 Teaspoon Bicarb Soda 3 Tablespoons Boiling Water 150g Butter 1/2 Cup Caster Sugar 1/2 Cup Brown Sugar 1 Egg 1 Cup Plain Flour 1 Teaspoon Ground Cinnamon (able to substitute) 1 Cup Slithered Almonds (able to substitute) 1 Cup Pepitas (able to substitute) 1 1/3 Cups Rolled Oats (able to substitue) Step 1- In a bowl, combine the dates, bicarb soda and boiling water. Allow to soak for 10 min while you continue on. Step 2- Cream together the butter and sugars using a mix master or electric beaters. Add in the egg. Step 4- Now using a wooden spoon, mix in the rest of the ingredients and the soaked dates. The mixture should be a sticky dough. Step 4- Roll into balls about 1 heaped tablespoon in size, and place on a lined baking tray, allowing plenty of space to spread. I like a chewy biscuit so I only flatten the balls slightly. Step 5- Bake at 180c for 12-15 min until golden. Cool on a rack.

  • Review of La Vie & Belle Bakery

    How good is Instagram?! I seriously use it for everything, it's the new Google! (Sorry Google, please do not take me off the search results!) Scrolling the 'gram I have found recipes, real estate agents, kids events, gyms, hair dressers the list goes on. But something stopped me in my tracks yesterday and it was a picture of a simple croissant, oh but this croissant, it looked buttery, crispy, fluffy, airy and just dreamy. I had to have it. So over the bridge I went to La Vie & Belle Bakery in Surry Hills. Located on Fitzroy St in Surry Hills, parking was a bit of an issue but that just goes with the territory of these inner city suburbs, and I digress. La Vie & Belle Bakery is a little hole in the wall bakery emitting the most intoxicating aroma of fresh baked bread. At 10am it seems I have arrived late as the display wall was looking a little bare, I believe they were baking and restocking at the time, but to my relief, my prize, the croissants were plentiful and calling my name. I quickly get to the front of the queue and am served by a handsome young Frenchman who tells me a bit about the savoury items on offer as I order my croissant and a croque monsieur. At $10 for the two items, I thought it was a bargain! The best part was as I was leaving he told me to "have a beautiful day" in his French accent *swoon*. Now I am a married woman but I'm not dead inside! “That croissant did not disappoint. It was everything I hoped it would be: crisp and golden on the outside, and on the inside light and fluffy which a rich buttery flavour that had the palate begging for more. It is up there with the croissants of Paris.” The croque monsieur was also divine, crusty French bread slathered with a rich bechamel, leg ham and Gruyere cheese. It's like the best ham and cheese toastie you've ever had. I would have loved to sit in and enjoy these with a cup of tea but alas the small premises means they don't have space for a seating area. I will definitely be back and I will bring my mum who reckons she is a (self proclaimed) croissant expert. She is a tough critic and I'm interested to hear her opinion, it will also give me an excuse to try all the other beautiful quiches, eclairs, and tarts I spied in the case. Until next time, have a beautiful day. La Vie & Belle Bakery 100 Fitzroy St, Surry Hills *This meal was independently paid for.

  • Thai Pork Larb

    I live to indulge. I love fatty, salty food and I like it with many glasses of wine. I wish I could live my best life 7 days a week but I think many of you agree, there needs to be some balance to save our poor waistlines! My compromise? 5 days a week I go to the gym, eat healthy and don't drink; and on the weekend it's YOLO time. This larb recipe is one of my mid week go-to's because it is so delicious, low carb and has no added fats or oils. Your waistline can thank me later. Ok so I stretched the truth when I said this recipe was low carb, well it is, but I guess it depends on your definition of low carb. We have 2 tablespoons of toasted rice between 3 adult serves but it really makes the dish so please include it! “Part salad, part stir fry, Larb is the quintessential Thai dish that combines the classic Thai flavours: salty, sweet, sour, spicy. Play with the quantities to make the balance suit you.” Pork Larb an original recipe by Kimberley Kells Preparation time: 15 minutes Cooking time: 5 minutes Serves: 3 adults or 2 adults and 2 children with rice 2 Tablespoons Uncooked Sticky Rice (from the Thai grocery) 500g Mince Pork 2 Eshallots, sliced 2 Spring onions, sliced 1 Teaspoon Roasted Chilli Powder or to taste (from the Thai grocery) 1 Bunch Coriander, roughly chopped 1 Bunch Mint, leaves picked 2 Teaspoons Fish Sauce 2 Teaspoons White Sugar 1 Lime or 2 if not very juicy Step 1- Heat the uncooked rice in a dry frying pan over medium heat until toasted to a medium golden colour. Using a motar and pestle, grind until fine and set aside Step 2- Over medium heat, and without adding any oil, fry the mince pork, breaking up lumps until the colour changes to brown. Step 3- Remove the pan from the heat and add the rest of the ingedients, mixing to ensure everything is coated in the pork fat remaining in the pan. Taste for balance and adjust using fish sauce for salty, sugar for sweet, lime for sour and chilli for spice. Step 4- Serve immediately with rice before the herbs wilt.

  • Pork & Fennel Sausage Rolls with Hidden Veggies

    I have a confession to make: my first son was and still is a fantastic eater. He loves broccoli, leafy greens and will generally try everything I offer him. I thought this was due to my mothering. I honestly thought that my actions had taught him how to be a 'good eater'. Well, 2 years later, my second son was born and brought me back down to earth. Even though I did all the same things with this one, the kid WILL NOT EAT A VEGETABLE! So after eating a big slice of humble pie myself, I joined the ranks of other mums, hiding veggies to trick him into eating them. These sausage rolls are a fantastic way to hide a plethora of vegetables so kids can gobble them up while mothers breathe a sigh of relief. The recipe makes a big batch which is perfect for a party or you can freeze them just before the oven stage and later on, cook straight from frozen. As always, you can substitute ingredients below with whatever is lying around in the fridge, and beef or chicken mince would also work well. I like pork because it works well with the fennel seeds and reminds me of the gorgeous sausage rolls from Burke Street Bakery. To save time, I use a food processor to grate everything in a matter of seconds. “Any vegetable you can grate will work really well, and I cook them down before I mix into the pork just to evaporate any water, keeping your pastry crispy later on and also to help disguise them from any kids who fancy themselves as a vegetable Sherlock Holmes.” Pork and Veggie Sausage Rolls an original recipe by Kimberley Kells Preparation time: 35 minutes Cooking time: 40 minutes Makes: 36 Sausage Rolls depending on size you roll 1 Large Onion, peeled 3 Carrots, topped and tailed (I leave the skin on) 2 Zucchini, topped and tailed 1 Handful Mushrooms 1 kg Mince Pork 500g Pork Sausage Meat 2 Tablespoons Fennel Seeds 1 Cup Breadcrumbs 2 Eggs + eggwash 1 Pack Ready Rolled Puff Pastry Sesame Seeds (optional) Step 1- Set up a food processor with the grating attachment. Chop the onion and veg so that they will fit in the feeder. Push the onion and veg through and let the machine do the grating for you. Step 2- Tip the grated veg into a large frying pan with some oil and saute until all the water is released and evaporated. Allow to cool. Step 3- In a large mixing bowl, combine the cooled veg, minced pork and sausage meat, fennel seeds, breadcrumbs and eggs. Season generously. My mum taught me that when you're making a filling that is going to be wrapped in pastry, you need to over season because the flavour will be diluted by the pastry. Step 4- Shape a portion of the filling into a log shape at one end of a sheet of puff pastry. Roll it up over itself and place seam side down. Cut into portions. At this stage, you can freeze them on a tray and they will keep for a couple months. Step 5- Place onto a lined baking tray with space in between to allow for the pastry to puff. Brush with egg wash and sprinkle with sesame seeds. You could also use poppy seeds, or even just a sprinkle of coarse salt would be lovely. Bake at 180c for about 40 min or until golden and crisp on the bottom. If you're cooking from frozen, it will be more like an hour depending on the thickness.

  • Truffle Bucatini Carbonara

    With truffle season upon us, I have been busy eating and cooking all things truffle. It's one of my favourite ingredients and I feel like it adds that extra something that just takes a dish to the next level. I was lucky enough to pick one up at the Good Food and Wine Show in Sydney from the gorgeous guys at Great Southern Truffles, and let me tell you, this pasta was absolutely delicious! This is such a simple yet tasty recipe and you can chop and change to suit whatever ingredients you have on hand. Bacon can be used in place of pancetta and spaghetti or fettucini can be used in place of bucatini. “The mistake you can make with carbonara is during the final mixing step where you can accidentally scramble the eggs. To avoid this, I recommend turning off the heat a couple minutes early and really let that pan cool down. The heat from the hot pasta and pasta water will be enough to thicken those eggs into a beautiful silky sauce.” Bucatini Carbonara an original recipe by Kimberley Kells Preparation time: 5 minutes Cooking time: 15 minutes Serves: 3 adults or 2 adults 2 kids 100g Pancetta, chopped 1 Clove Garlic, chopped 250g Bucatini or Spaghetti 3 Egg Yolks 1 Whole Egg 1 Cup Parmesan cheese, grated 1 Whole Fresh Truffle (optional) Step 1- In a bowl, whisk together the egg yolks and whole egg with the parmesan and season with salt and pepper. Set aside. Step 2- Place the pancetta in a cold pan and place on medium heat. This method of starting in a cold pan will allow the natural fats to render from the pancetta, eliminating the need to add extra oil. Fry till crisp, stir through garlic and take the pan off the heat. Step 3- Meanwhile, bring a pot of salted water to boil, and cook the bucatini to al dente. Step 4- Tip the drained pasta into the pan with the pancetta, add the egg mixture and 1 cup of the pasta cooking water, stir and watch at the egg mixture turns into a silky sauce. Step 5- Finish with a generous grating of fresh truffle and more parmesan.

  • Thai Red Curry Paste

    Traditionally, Thai Curry Paste should be made by hand using a mortar and pestle but with work, kids and everything else its just not going to happen for me! Making your own curry paste in the food processor is actually very quick and easy and it freezes really well so make a big batch and freeze in portions. Feel free to adjust the recipe to your personal taste. I prefer hotter, but I only cook one meal for the family (I'm a mum, not a short order cook!) so I make it milder and add more chilli to mine later. “Once you've made this curry paste, it is a great starting off point for heaps of Thai dishes: Fish Cakes, Laksa-style soup, Stir Fries and of course, Red Curry.” Red Curry Paste an original recipe by Kimberley Kells Preparation time: 15 minutes Cooking time: 0 minutes Serves: 3 adults or 2 adults 2 kids 1 Thumb sized piece of Galangal, peeled (available at most supermarkets) 2 Cloves Garlic, peeled 2 Eshallots, peeled 10-15 Long Dried Red Chillis (from the Thai supermarket) 1/2 Teaspoon Thai Shrimp Paste (from the Thai supermarket) 1 Stick Lemongrass 1/2 Teaspoon Dried Coriander 1/2 Teaspoon Dried Cumin 1/2 Teaspoon White Pepper 1 Teaspoon Vegetable Oil Step 1- For a milder curry paste, remove the seeds from the dried chillis (or leave them in for more heat) and soak in boiling water for a few hours until soft. Step 2- Add the soaked chillis and the rest of the ingredients to a food processor and blitz until a fine paste, adding water if needed. This is now ready to use.

  • Thai Fish Cakes

    As a kid growing up in Sydney with a Thai mum and Aussie dad, I got sent to school with some pretty interesting lunches. Fish Cake sandwich was one of the worst! I was mortified and the stench of fish and garlic when I opened my lunchbox hit like a freight train. How I wished for a Vegemite sandwich like all the other kids, of course now I can't get enough of them and my kids are big fans of the old Fish Cake. So I managed to survive the horror of the infamous Fish Cake sandwich incident and luckily I didn't suffer too much flak from the other kids. It was the early 2000's in the Inner West of Sydney so ethnic food (particularly Thai) was widely available and accepted. However, I do remember taking charge of my own lunchbox from then on. I have to say, it is amazing how the diverse the eating habits of children are these days: at every kids party I go to, the sushi platter is always the first thing to be eaten! “If you have the time and the inclination, Fish Cakes are best made with a homemade red curry paste. This way you can taste the freshness of the ingredients and control the heat level, particularly if making as a family meal. But I get it, we're all busy and sometimes don't feel like making curry paste from scratch so buy that jar of curry paste, girl, and keep in the pantry for when you can't be f-ed” Thai Fish Cakes an original recipe by Kimberley Kells Preparation time: 30 minutes (curry paste from scratch), 15 minutes (store bought curry paste) Cooking time: 20 minutes Serves 3 adults or 2 adults 2 kids with rice 2 Tablespoons Red Curry Paste (follow link for recipe) 500g Snapper fillets 100g Snake beans or green beans will do, sliced 2 egg whites 5 Kaffir lime leaves, shredded 2 tablespoons Fish sauce 2 tablespoons Palm sugar Step 1- In a food processor combine the curry paste, snapper and egg whites. Blitz until it forms a sticky paste. Step 2- Place into a large mixing bowl and pick up the mixture in your hand and slap it down into the bowl. Do this for a couple of minutes until the mixture changes texture to feel more 'bouncy'. This process is what gives the fish cakes their signature texture when cooked. Step 3- Still using your hands, mix in the snake beans, kaffir lime leaves, fish sauce and palm sugar. My mum taught me I should always taste for the seasoning and balance that is so important in Thai cooking, even if it is raw meat or fish. Since you have been using your hands, simply lick your finger and this should give you a good idea of whether the salty/sweet flavours are balanced. Obviously I'm not advising you all to eat raw chicken and contract salmonella but this is the part of cooking where you have to use all your senses and your instinct to get the flavours right. Step 4- Heat a large frying pan with about 1cm of oil for frying. Shape into little cakes and fry until golden and cooked through. Serve with rice and sweet chili sauce. If you feel like trolling your children, throw some between 2 slices of white bread and send them off to school. I promise they'll never forget it!

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