Making ghee in a slow cooker

Full disclosure: I didn’t come up with this idea, but stumbled across this blog post a while ago and have been using this method ever since. This time I took note of quantities and times, in case someone is interested in trying. I used 14 blocks of Westgold unsalted butter (bought in Woolies) and it took 1 hour and 35 minutes in the low setting of my slow cooker for all of them to melt.

Butter in slow cooker

What I do next is to ladle the ghee into jars through a sieve lined up with cheesecloth. The finer the sieve (or the more layers of cheesecloth you use), the better, but the more patient you need to be.

Melted ghee

How do you know you should stop pouring melted ghee into your jars? In theory, if you have a good enough straining device you should be able to pour everything because it would get filtered anyway. In practice, I always stop when I start getting more than a few drops of milk solids in every spoonful I take.

Milk solids

I always use the last jar first, because it’s the one that has more milk solids and therefore will last less. In theory pure ghee should be shelf stable for months, but I prefer to play it safe and keep my jars in the fridge.

Jarred ghee

Product review: Absolute Biltong jerky

It was a sad day when I found out that the jerky I loved and bought regularly was halal. Luckily, a quick internet search came up with an alternative that, while not being “strictly paleo” (whatever that means) is grass-fed, gluten-free and explicitly not halal.

I got a bunch of different flavours to try: venison (plain), beef (plain and pepper), emu, and water buffalo. Seasonings include GF soy sauce, red wine, a tiny bit of brown sugar, salt, spices, and tabasco.

Coming from consuming a brand with a lot less ingredients, it took me a while to get used to the bolder flavour. It’s not bad, just different. Out of the meats I tried, I found the emu too gamey for my taste, but would definitely buy the rest again. The smaller packs have the advantage that the jerky comes already chopped up.

Absolute Biltong
www.absolutebiltong.com.au

Recipe: Majado de plátano con choros y chorizo (smashed plantains, mussels and chorizo)

Last time I went to Tienda Latina to buy food for my birthday I noticed they had sliced and pre-cooked ripe plantains in the freezer. I grabbed a bag without even asking for the price and started thinking what to do with them.

Frozen sliced ripe plantain

It didn’t take me too long to decide: I wanted to make a version of majarisco, a dish from the North of Perú that features plátano majado (smashed plantains) and seafood. To keep things simple, I used frozen mussels and chorizo (also bought at Tienda Latina) for this version.

Majado de plátano con choros y chorizo
Yield: 5-6 servings

Majado de plátano con choros y chorizo

Ingredients

  • 500g frozen pre-cooked plantains (or 500g fresh plantains, sliced and cooked in fat)
  • 500g chorizo
  • 1-2 Tb fat of choice (I used ghee)
  • 1 onion
  • 3 cloves garlic
  • 2 Tb chilli paste (I use Peruvian ají panca but any kind will do)
  • 1kg frozen mussels
  • 1/2 cup white wine
  • 1/2 cup fish (or vegetable) stock
  • 2 Tb apple cider vinegar

To serve:

Directions

  1. Smash plantains with a pestle or similar heavy object.
  2. Slice chorizo.
  3. Chop onion and garlic, cook in fat on medium heat until soft. Add chilli paste.
  4. Add chorizo, stir until completely cooked.
  5. Add plantains, stir.
  6. Add mussels, wine, fish stock and vinegar, reduce until a thick sauce is formed.
  7. Serve with greens and salsa criolla, garnish with coriander.

Product review: Ecobar raw energy bars

Shout-out to my classmate Rob who posted a picture of Ecobars on Facebook. I’ve been wanting to try cricket bars since I heard about Exo bars 1-2 years ago, but they were not available in Australia. Now we have Ecobars, made with cricket flour, perhaps the most sustainable source of protein.

Ecobar

I bought these for $3.95 each at Healthy Living. The currently available flavours are mango orange and chia spirulina. We liked both and no, you cannot taste the crickets. Maybe because the flour is not one of the top ingredients, which also means the bars are higher in carbs than protein.

Chia spirulina Ecobar

Ingredients in the chia spirulina bars are: dates, almonds, pumpkin seeds, chia seeds, cricket flour, apple juice concentrate, spirulina, coconut oil, lemon extract, rosemary extract (14.2g CHO, 4.8g protein). And in the mango orange bars: almonds, dates, mango (dried & extract), cricket flour), orange juice (powder & concentrate), coconut oil, rosemary extract (14.2g CHO and 4.4g protein). Texture-wise, the bars are on the soft side, sort of cake-y. Not bad, but I prefer crunchier ones. Next time I’ll freeze them.

Mango orange Ecobar

Ecobar
www.ecobars.com.au

Recipe: Pesto beef with Mediterranean vegetables

As much as I love collecting and trying new recipes, there are some times when I have a particular craving and I know I won’t find the recipe in a cookbook. Luckily, it wasn’t anything too crazy or complicated to make. Hope you like it as much as I did.

Pesto beef with Mediterranean vegetables
Yield: 5-6 servings

Pesto beef with Mediterranean vegetables

Ingredients

Vegetables

  • 1 medium eggplant
  • 3 zucchinis
  • 1 medium capsicum
  • 1 medium fennel
  • 1 medium onion
  • 200g Portobello mushrooms
  • drizzle of olive oil
  • salt

Pesto

  • 3 cloves garlic
  • 1 bunch basil
  • 1/2 cup olive oil
  • 1/4 cup walnuts
  • 1/4 cup macadamias
  • 1 tablespoon lemon juice or red wine vinegar
  • salt and pepper

Beef

  • 2 tablespoons fat of choice
  • 1kg ground beef
  • salt and pepper

Directions

  1. Preheat oven at 170°C.
  2. Chop the vegetables in large chunks, place in a large roasting tray, season with olive oil and salt.
  3. Wrap garlic cloves, unpeeled, in foil and place in a corner of the roasting tray.
  4. Roast vegetables for 40-50 minutes.
  5. Turn off oven and remove garlic from tray (leave the tray in the oven to keep the rest of the vegetables warm), squeeze cloves into the jug of a food processor or blender along with the rest of the pesto ingredients. Process until it reaches desired consistency, season to taste.
  6. Heat fat of choice in a saucepan and brown meat. Season with salt and pepper, stir until cooked through.
  7. Mix beef and pesto and serve on top of vegetables.

Review: Zeitgeist Cuisine (Sydney CBD)

Sebastian was intrigued/worried when I suggested a plant-based cafe for a lunch catch-up. He offered to bring some jerky for me in case I passed out (I didn’t. I eat meat-free meals here and there and I’m fine).

Zeitgeist Cuisine

Zeigeist Cuisine

Zeitgeist Cuisine

Zeigeist Cuisine‘s philosophy is to offer healthy plant-based food in an area that desperately needs it (i.e. Sydney CBD). Their meals and treats are packed and ready to grab, but you can eat them there, too. Keep in mind the cafe is small.

Zeitgeist Cuisine

Zeitgeist Cuisine

Zeitgeist Cuisine

Small cafe, small menu. Not a bad thing when most items look appetizing; makes it easier to choose.

Menu

I don’t normally order smoothies but I figured I had to try one for the sake of blogging. The virgin espresso martini (cold brew coffee, dates, vanilla, cashews) was awesome: not too sweet, perfectly caffeinated.

Virgin Espresso Martini

The Raw Rainbow Pad Thai (rainbow zoodles w/creamy coco satay dressing) was our favourite. I loved the inclusion of spiralized beetroot (one of my favourite vegetables!), the variety of veggies in general, and the great sauce.

Raw Rainbow Pad Thai

Raw Rainbow Pad Thai – Main ($12.90)

The Green and Gold (roasted vegetables, spiced chickpeas, quinoa, activated walnuts, green leaves, chilli, turmeric dressing), while more “conventional” was great, too.

Green and Gold

Green and Gold ($14.90)

We were given free goodies to take home: a raw Znickers bar for me and a brownie for Sebastian. The bar is on the sweet side, so it’s best to cut in small pieces and share.

Raw Znickers bar

Raw Znickers bar ($4.90)

Zeitgeist Cuisine is a great new addition to the handful of healthy places to eat close to work. I’m glad we gave it a try.

Zeigeist Cuisine
B1/153 Clarence Street
Sydney NSW 2000
0430 818 842
zeitgeistcuisine.com.au

Zeitgeist Cuisine Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato

Review: Fit and Fresh food delivery service

Sadly, 2 of my favourite meal delivery services (Feed Me and Go Paleo) have shut their services (don’t worry, RealFood Connection is still around). Looking for alternatives, I found Fit and Fresh, based in Newcastle. As it name implies, their focus is fuelling people for fitness and weight loss purposes. They offer both meal plans and individual meals.

The meal plans are awesome for people who are after a full week’s supply of food and don’t have the time, need or desire to decide what they want to eat at each meal. You can choose between 5 or 7 days, and also if you want breakfast + lunch + dinner or only lunch + dinner. You can also decide the size of your meals, (small, regular or large, which applies to the individually purchased meals, too).

Fit and Fresh

We’ve signed up for the 5 day regular-sized lunch + dinner paleo meal plan to help me out until life gets a bit less hectic. Dishes vary week to week and include soups, meat + salad, meat + vegetables and a few vegetarian dishes. Protein sources are varied, we’ve had beef, pork, lamb, chicken, fish and prawns so far. Generally lunches are smaller but in general I would rank the meal size as decent to generous (remember we’re buying the regular size option).

Fit and Fresh

Fit and Fresh

Dishes that are not meant to have the meat mixed in with the salad/vegetables come with the meat in a vacuum-sealed bag which is great from a food safety, freshness and culinary point of view, but can get messy on the go.

Lemon chicken

Lemon chicken

Finally, I find the containers a bit too bulky and would love to see these meals packed in a non-plastic microwave-safe leak-proof alternative but I think it has not invented at the moment.

To find out more about Fit and Fresh and their meal plans click on the link below. You can find photos of some of their meals in my Instagram feed.

Fit and Fresh
www.fitandfreshaustralia.com.au

Recipe: Fennel & apple soup with ham

This is a quick weekday recipe that combines two of my favourite things in winter: soup and fennel. Add one of my favourite things regardless of the season (i.e. pork, in the form of ham) and you have a rounded meal for 4.

Fennel & apple soup with ham
Yield: 4 servings

Fennel, apple & ham soup

Ingredients

  • 2 large (or 4 small) fennel bulbs
  • 1/2 onion
  • 1/2 apple
  • 2 tablespoons ghee or fat of choice
  • 4 cups chicken or beef broth
  • 1 1/2 teaspoon rosemary salt (or 1 teaspoon dried rosemary + 1/2 teaspoon salt)
  • 380g good quality ham, preferably not sliced

Directions

  1. Slice fennel, onion and apple.
  2. Heat ghee in a pot, throw in the fennel, onion and apple and cook until soft and slightly caramelised, approximately 20 minutes.
  3. Add broth and rosemary salt (or rosemary and salt).
  4. Blend the soup with a stick blender or in a regular blender in batches. Adjust seasoning.
  5. Dice ham and serve on top of soup.

Review: Pana Chocolate (Alexandria)

A while ago Pana Chocolate opened a shop in Alexandria but I managed to avoid the temptation until recently. Now that I’ve changed gyms I walk past Pana 3x week. They don’t only sell their chocolate bars, but all sorts of raw gluten-, dairy-, and refined sugar-free treats. What keeps me from going nuts is the price but it is good stuff. Great stuff indeed.

Pana Chocolate

Pana Chocolate

Pana Chocolate

Pana Chocolate

Pana Chocolate

Grapefruit, surprise cake

Grapefruit, surprise cake ($43 for both)

Blueberry & salted caramel, raw lamington

Blueberries & salted caramel, raw lamington ($15 for both)

Pana Chocolate
21 Fountain Street
Alexandria NSW 2015
1300 717 488
www.panachocolate.com

Click to add a blog post for Pana Chocolate on Zomato

Holidays in Perú (July 9 2015)

Our friends Victor and Vivi, who live in Belgium, happened to be in Lima at the same time as us. We met for lunch at ámaZ, a gourmet spin on food from the jungle by Pedro Miguel Schiaffino, who also owns Malabar.

ámaZ

There was a jar of ajíes encurtidos (pickled chilies) and salsa criolla on the table to spice up the food.

Ajíes encurtidos

Ajíes encurtidos

Salsa criolla

Salsa criolla

Most dishes come in two sizes: whole and half. We ordered a half serve of cecina a la grilla (salted and dried pork tenderloin served with majado – cooked plantain that is mashed and mixed with pork chicharrón). A more refined version of the classic “cecina con tacacho”, very tasty but not for big appetites.

Cecina a la grilla

Cecina a la grilla (S/. 48, $20.43 for 1/2 serve)

We also shared a half serve of abruto tu paiche (grilled river fish served on a mash made with a fruit called “aguaje”, with chorizo and sweet chili sauce). Again, nice flavours, delicate presentation but not huge.

Abruto tu paiche

Abruto tu paiche (S/. 75, $31.93 for 1/2 serve)

Later on we met Alvaro’s kung fu teacher for a chat and a snack. We went to Don Belisario, a Peruvian BBQ chicken/grill franchise. Alvaro and I shared a plate of anticuchos (marinated cow heart, served with potatoes and corn). Not bad.

Anticuchos

Anticuchos (S/. 15.90, $6.77)

Then we went to the Buddhist centre and had post-meditation drinks at our regular: Huaringas Bar.

Huaringas

We had a few chilcanos (a drink made traditionally with pisco, ginger ale, lime juice and bitters). We tried a few flavours: brujo de camu camu (quebranta pisco infused with coca leafs with a fruit called camu camu), sauco (a berry), mandarina & kión (mandarin & ginger), and aguaymanto & hierbabuena (a fruit called aguaymanto & mint). All delish.

Chilcanos

Chilcanos (S/. 22, $9.36 each)

Nibbles included yuquitas (cassava in slices, chips and balls) and anticuchos. Good stuff.

Yuquitas

Yuquitas

Anticuchos

Anticuchos

ámaZ
Av. la Paz 1079, Miraflores
+51 1 2219393
amaz.com.pe

Don Belisario Miraflores – 28 de Julio
Av. 28 de Julio 1005
+51 1 6284771
belisario22@ngr.com.pe
www.donbelisario.com.pe

Huaringas Bar
Ovalo Bolognesi 460, Miraflores
+51 1 2438151
reservas@huaringas.com
huaringas.com