26 November 2012

quinoa and pumpin salad

This salad is amazing, this salad will change your life. I had an ah-huh moment the other week. I visited the Finders Keepers markets where I sampled a mega salad from Kate's Vegetarian Food Stall. (Can be found weekly at Jan Powers markets). It rocked my world. Risoni, quinoa, chickpeas each combined with their delicious accompaniments. Beetroot hummus and sweet potato falafel...oh my gosh. At this moment it made me realise that I would be okay with being a vegetarian. It would be alright if I never ate meat again because these flavour combinations awoke something inside me that I didn't realise was there. I had never felt this way about a salad before. I wanted to recreate one of these salads so badly, or at least find a similar recipe to devour and not feel guilty as the whole thing was good for me. I spent a good couple of hours searching for wholefoods, raw foods, vegetarian foods. I stumbled across Green Kitchen Stories and their Winter Pumpkin Millet Salad. So delightfully fresh but filling. 


It makes me want to eat more healthy raw preservative free foods that are fresh and natural. My first time trying quinoa I was delighted, it will now be a regular in my kitchen pantry. Although I love my baked goods I acknowledged they are a sometimes food, I hope to share more fresh healthy meals with you, but don't get to worried as I will always have my sweet tooth! You can't tell me that this salad doesn't look amazing!

I swapped the millet for quinoa, added more lemon to the dressing as well as using a stick mixer to combine the dressing ingredients into a chunky yet silky herbal burst of flavour.

Quinoa and Pumpkin Salad

recipe adapted from Green Kitchen Stories


1 cup raw quinoa
1/2 butternut pumpkin
100g raw hazelnuts
2 avocados, diced
1 small broccoli, cut into small florets
2 handfuls of purple grapes, cut in half
2 handfuls of baby spinach, shreadded
1 pomegranate, seeds

Chunky Herb Dressing
1 handful basil
1 handful parsley
2 cloves garlic, peeled
1 lemon, juiced
3-4 tbsp olive oil
salt and pepper to taste

Preheat oven to 200c. Trim, peel and remove the seeds from the pumpkin. Dice into small cubes. Place on a baking tray lined with baking paper. Coat with a drizzle of olive oil and salt and pepper. Bake for 30mins or until soft and slightly browned. Remove from oven and cool completely.
The last 10 minutes of baking time, place the hazelnuts on a separate baking tray, sprinkle with salt and toast until skin cracks and browned. Remove and let cool slightly, rub between a rough cloth or kitchen towel to remove the skin. Chop coarsely.

Rinse the quinoa in a sieve with boiling water, then place in a large microwave save container with 2 cups of boiling water and cook for 10mins on high uncovered. Set aside covered for a further 10mins or until all the water is absorbed. Allow to cool completely. You can also substitute the boiling water for chicken or vegetable stock for more flavour.

To make the herb dressing combine all of the ingredients in a small food processor and process until silky. Mix dressing through the quinoa in a large bowl until all the quinoa is coated in the dressing. Gently mix in the rest of the ingredients and try hard to resist eating the whole bowl.

8 November 2012

flame tree bakery

I have been trying to surround myself with creative folk lately and one person who has caught my eye is Lauren of Flame Tree Bakery. I initially saw on Facebook events advertising pie drives and cupcake drives, which impressed me as cooking in bulk, especially baked goods, is one thing I struggle with. So after my taste buds were tempted by all of these foods I was delighted to see the opening of Flame Tree Bakery. I was fortunate enough to sample some of the delights from Flame Tree and have a chat with the creator Lauren who is not only an avid baker but a master of costume design with a bachelor of animation to top it all off. Here is a closer look into Flame Tree including the images I snapped of her mouthwatering sweets.



What and who is Flame Tree Bakery?
Flame Tree is simply little old me, Lauren baking away in my family home at Strathpine, 40 mins north of Brisbane.


What inspired you to create Flame Tree?
Before I started Flame Tree I was working in an office and it wasn't a bad job, it allowed me to make enough money to go overseas twice. But as a creative person I felt like I was losing my essence in a way, I didn't enjoy what I was doing at all. So in January I decided that this year (2012) would be Year of Lauren, where I would focus on changing my life a bit! I started ballet, I joined a musical, I left my job in April and began thinking of ways I could make money to live.
I knew I was good at three things - art, sewing and baking. Art is a fickle way of earning money, at least at first and sewing isn't quite time/cost effective. I'd always had people tell me they loved my baking and loved to do it, so it seemed like a possible viable option. I organized a week long Bake Sale for Ballet over Facebook as a way of earning a little cash so I could keep taking ballet classes. I had 4 dessert pies and 3 kinds of macarons available for pickup and delivery orders and was expecting to get about 5 pity orders from my friends. That was not the case. By the end of the week I'd baked about 52 pies and over 200 macarons and made enough money to keep me in ballet for the year and then some! A month or so later I organized a cupcake drive with fantastic results again! It was after this, with the encouragement of my fellow baking sister and my baked good eating friends that I decided to make Flame Tree, a Facebook page where my food was showcased and people could order it whenever they wanted, rather than waiting for another drive.


What is your favourite thing to a) bake, b) eat?
Both of those often go hand in hand, as I'll cook whatever I feel like eating most of the time. But in general, my favourite thing to bake is probably pie, especially when I get to be inventive (see Game of Pies on my blog). For the half hour I'm making a pie I feel like I could be in a small town, wearing cute dresses and aprons and everyone would know my name and tell newcomers about my pies (clearly I've been watching Gilmore Girls and Waitress too often!) Or chocolate mint brownies, as they were the first thing I mastered and cooked constantly since primary school.
Picking one favourite thing to eat would be like trying to pick my favourite blade of grass in a field, I love it ALL! But a few of my all time favourites are: Pumpkin pie, crusty bread (especially with avocado, but really, bread with or without anything), brownies, lamb and mushroom stew, pea and ham soup, burritos, cherries, malted milk and absolutely anything that is chocolate mint!


Where do you hope to see Flame Tree in the future?
My dream would be to have a little bakery either here in south east Queensland or in Tasmania. It would have green walls with a big flame tree painted on one side. The furniture would be wooden and worn, possibly painted red or orange and if it was in Tasmania I'd have a fire place. There would be a bookshelf full of classic novels and fairy tales that people could read while they eat. There might be vines, there might be fairy lights. I would constantly be trying and inventing new pies/cakes/macarons/biscuits and all my regular customers (who I would know by name) would look forward to finding new things on the menu every week!
That's the dream. But for now I just hope to constantly have enough orders that I can eat, pay board, buy fuel, have fun and maybe buy a new dress now and then....


If you want to hear more or see more from Lauren or get your hands on her tasty baked goods check out her...