My summer of salads on Paleo

Just at the end of October last year, there was one word everywhere. Paleo. People were talking about it, people were on it, I was reading about it and boy are there so many blogs about it. A friend was in my ear about it and her sales technique was rather effective; “You can eat meat, chicken, seafood, fruit, vegies, nuts and seeds. But no wheat, added sugar, carbs or dairy.” Seemed simple enough and it was. In the 6 week lead up to a day dedicated to my love of pudding, custard, ham, turkey, mince pies and basically the kitchen sink, Mr ELG and I committed to the Paleo diet. If you’ve read any of my past posts, you will know I am not one to diet (apart from the 21 day wonder diet pre wedding). Food is just too damn good to give up which is why I believe this Paleo diet does wonders for me and Mr ELG. By Christmas day, I was minus six kilos and Mr ELG was looking damn fine having shed 12 kilos.

I am proud to say that Christmas day lived up to all of my foodie fantasies and travels thereafter took me to Melbourne where I was eating fresh grilled lobster and sipping champagne on new year’s eve, to Main Ridge where I was plucking plump strawberries off the vine, to Balnarring where I was chowing down dried fig and gorgonzola pizza at Ciao Bella and finally to the Portsea pub where a glass of Paringa Estate Pinot Noir made me ever so thankful that I was lapping up my summer days; living to eat.

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So this week I am back to the grind, back to the rat race and back to Paleo. The silly season is over and the coast is clear, free from dangling carrots of snacking here and sipping there. It’s by no means a new year’s resolution because again I have no patience for those goals but I am resolute to be fit, be free, know tone and have boundless energy to run after a soon-to-be-terrible-two year old.

And so today and tonight has been coloured by my summer of salads. Sticking to the rules and guided by the refreshed energy of a new year; I feel like a kid with pack of pencils about to colour in way outside the lines.

Armed with a fridge full of fresh food, these are the last two salads I have whipped up from scratch getting rave reviews from Mr ELG and having him go back for seconds. And lastly, I hope you’re also enjoying a fabulous summer; living to eat!

Lunchtime salad

1 packham pear (chopped), 1 handful walnuts (chopped), 1/4 cup cornichons, 1/2 Spanish onion (finely sliced), 1/2 Lebanese cucumber (chopped), 2 cups rocket leaves, 1 handful grape tomatoes, 2 shallots (finely sliced), 1 x 300g chicken breast (poached and sliced), 1 handful continental parsley (chopped). Mix a dressing together of a good lug of extra virgin oil, juice of 1/2 lemon, 1 heaped Tbsp of Dijon mustard.

Combine all ingredients and enjoy the lunchtime crunch. Serves 2.

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A salad for tea and throw in a barramundi too

2 x 250g barramundi fillets, 1 lemongrass stalk (white bit chopped), 1 handful coriander (chopped), 2 garlic cloves (crushed), 1 tsp fish sauce, 1 Tbsp Tamari sauce, juice of 1/2 lime, 1 Tbsp olive oil. Combine all ingredients in a zip-lock bag and marinate for 30 minutes.

1 mango (diced), 1/2 red capsicum (thinly sliced), 2 cups baby spinach leaves, 1 handful grape tomatoes, 1 shallot (thinly sliced), 1 Tbsp sesame seeds, 1 Tbsp Tamari sauce, 1 Tbsp lime juice, 1 Tbsp extra virgin olive oil. Combine all ingredients.

Pan fry barramundi for a couple of minutes on each side. Skin should be crisp and caramelised. Serve with salad and sprinkle some extra sesame seeds on your barra before serving.

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Love a whole lot of ME time

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Two hours ago I had a layer of clay lathered all over my skin as one part of the Rapt treatment at Endota Day Spa in the Hunter Valley. Jaime, my therapist, was halfway through telling me that clay draws the toxins to the skin when I think I switched off and realised I was smack bang in the midst of ME time and had another 24 hours to go.
Mr ELG and I have escaped the Sydney madhouse for a night away from MM. Our first full night away and while it’s only taken a couple of hours to realise I no longer need to tend to the every whim and need of a 13 month old child, I admit why didn’t I do this sooner!!
Driving down the F3 I just loved being able to have a full adult conversation, listen to music in peace, eat a bowl of soup while it’s still hot and most of all succumb to a 2 hour body treatment where the focus is solely ME!
So now I sit here in front of a smoldering fire with two warm scones to nibble on complete with a peppermint tea, mulberry jam and vanilla bean cream. I have the latest issues of Luxury Travel and Masterchef magazine to flick through and another two hours of blissful ME time whilst Mr ELG undergoes the same relaxing 2 hour body treatment at the hands of Jaime.
I now look forward to a yummy dinner where I don’t have to ask if there’s a high chair available and sleep which ends with a sleep in past 7am.
And finally I love having a sister who MM can stay with and become one of the gang with her other kids whilst mum and dad can spend time just being us.

Published in: on June 10, 2012 at 7:16 am  Leave a Comment  
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A mixed bag of loves

This year’s mother’s day was technically my second to celebrate, however it felt more like my first as a) I was more coherent and well-slept since MD #1 – when I was then a sleep-deprived mum with a 4 week old newborn baby walking around like a zombie and b) I received my first mother’s day card from MM which instantly bought tears to my eyes. It has been a big month at ELG central. I have gone back to work full time and MM is in full time childcare. In the first four weeks, the three of us were struck down with illnesses of all kind being sickly passed from MM to Mr ELG to me and back around again like a vicious cycle. Dirty washing had taken over every surface of the laundry and if you had asked me what a home-cooked meal was; I would have looked at you like you were speaking to me in Russian as dinners became the last thing on my mind after sickness, snot and sleep and I think I broke the record of how much takeaway pizza one could consume in one week! So by the time mother’s day arrived this year on 13 May, 2012 and Mr ELG handed me a red heart-shaped card with MM’s tiny hand prints on the front and a poem inside, I had an out-pouring of love and happy tears rolled down my face leaving MM bewildered as to why mummy was crying and smiling at the same time! 9 days later and it has felt like the longest 9 days – primarily due to some sad news that a close friend shared with me on the Saturday before mother’s day (I can not even begin to imagine how the days have stretched for my friend). As I listened to her speak such difficult words to say, her voice shaking and croaking with each word; I felt numb, scared and in shock over life and how moments can suddenly unfold. Right there and then, I wanted to hold my friend, tight with love and tell her it was going to be alright. And so there I was the day after celebrating the unconditional love I have for MM and not being able to stop thinking about the conversation from the day before. Over the last 9 days, my thoughts have been consumed by the events which have since unfolded and intertwined with all of this have been my thoughts of the many shades and colours of a mother’s love. A love for the present, a love for the unknown, a love for the memories, a love for the now, a love of hope and a love of what may never come. As I said; a mixed bag of loves. These last 9 days have made me stop and think, stop and appreciate and be grateful for the blessing of my child who never ceases to amaze me. I recently wrote to my friend that there are no words. But today I feel that there are three… I love you xAx

Published in: on May 22, 2012 at 11:41 am  Leave a Comment  
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Lemon yellow leaves in Orange

There’s something so clean and crisp about country air first thing in the morning when the only thing lingering is the faint smell of smoke coming out of nearby chimneys after a fire has been smoldering all night warming up the heart of a home.
I’m in Orange this weekend, thankful to Mr ELG who has whisked me away with MM in tow for a surprise getaway.
Up and about early we stopped in at Byng St cafe; a block away from where we’re staying.
The sun is out and the leaves of the trees above are lemon yellow in colour. The bright rays are streaming over the balcony as I eat my yummy brekkie roll. It’s the perfect balance of egg, crispy bacon, Swiss cheese, rocket and tart chutney. A hot cappucino tops off the taste.
Love, love, love

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Published in: on April 28, 2012 at 12:37 am  Leave a Comment  
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Friday night cooking

There is something about Friday night cooking that I’m not a fan of. I just opened the fridge, then the freezer trying to rumble up some inspiration to get the juices flowing for what to cook tonight but as always there was zilch, nudder, nothing.

Someone also made a comment to me during the week that there hasn’t been a lot of go and eat posts of new places on ELG for a while and with no excuses to offer you or reports that I have been in a cave due to hibernation (wrong season!), I honestly put it down to being a mum and having a small fry on the go. After too many stares from people when MM made a small shout during entree or having a fair few people trip over the wheels of the pram even though I have tried to shove it in the corner – I admit I have become one of those mums who just prefers to be at home for meal times, where MM can scream as much as he likes and leave the staring to Mr ELG and I .

But last Friday night, I put that all to one side and braved the outside once again to try my luck at Pizza Moncur…dinner for the ELGs in the heart of Woollahra. Diagonally opposite the Woollahra hotel and next door to the well loved Big Mamas, Pizza Moncur has suburb sophistication written all over it with its black and wooden design. A lovely French waiter pointed us to a table kerbside with plenty of room for MM and his stroller to sit on the pavement. The menu had both the usuals (four cheeses) and the unusuals and between the two of us, we had one of each. Mr ELG can not go past a Quattro Formaggi although I note this one had haloumi which is on the rare side and I chose a Mediterranean style consisting of red peppers, scallops, chorizo and chili jam.

Pizzas were served on a square black slate and the base is thin with texture with extravagant amounts of topping. Both pizzas were in one word; divine. Clear tastes, hot and crisp just out of the woodfired oven and the accompanying friendly service finished off the night. There were no stares from other patrons as MM was on his best behavior and as we ate piece by piece, we noticed that the restaurant also does a roaring trade of takeaway on foot and scooters delivering boxes to the door.

Hmmm and as the clock approaches 3pm, I am still wondering what’s for dinner tonight?

Happy Friday!

Pizza Moncur @ 101 Queen Street, Woollahra NSW 2025

Published in: on March 23, 2012 at 3:37 am  Leave a Comment  
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Sensationally Smitten

Happy Pancake Day!

OK I know I am 5 days late but we celebrated it all the same this morning in my kitchen with a sensational pancake recipe with inspiration drawn from Smitten Kitchen. I recently came across Smitten Kitchen after my ongoing search for the greatest birthday cake recipe…MM is turning 1 in April. In one of her posts, she boasts that she has found the recipe of all recipes when it comes to birthday cakes. When it comes time to baking the birthday cake, I will let you know. Another recipe that took my interest recently is the Chocolate Fudge Cake posted by Hostile Bacon. Miss Ren (of Hostile Bacon)and I share a love for a cake mixer and have had one or two discussions about the innocent Kitchenaid Stand Mixer and its all-reigning asset status in the kitchen…

So getting back on track with Pancake Day; the three ELGs were sensationally smitten. As usual, there was no rush to the corner shop so in PJs I used what was in the pantry so the original Smitten Kitchen recipe has been altered. The result was the pancakes were light, fluffy, golden and the mixture was easy to whip up and held itself together when it came time to flipping the pancakes in the pan. Mr ELG and I had them with the works; dusted icing sugar, squeeze of lemon juice, raspberry sauce and light drizzle of golden syrup. MM had them on his Bunnykins plate in an extremely watered down version. His pancakes were eaten bare but still woofed down all the same.

Apple and Raspberry pancakes

Ingredients:

4 small apples (I used Gala apples but any would do) peeled and grated

2 eggs – beaten well

3/4 cup milk

3/4 cup natural yoghurt

1 1/2 cup self raising flour

pinch of baking powder

1/4 cup caster sugar

pinch of salt

1 teaspoon vanilla extract

1 teaspoon ground cinnamon

To serve:

Dollop of apple and cinnamon natural yogurt

1 banana – halved and sliced lengthways

golden syrup

raspberry sauce (if not your own then Cuttaway Creek is the next best thing!)

half a lemon

icing sugar to dust

Method:

Combine wet ingredients and lightly whisk together in a small bowl. Combine dry ingredients and make a well in the centre. Add wet ingredients and grated apple; whisking it all together until just combined. Add cinnamon and vanilla extract and stir in.

Brush a hot pan with some butter so it is thinly coated. Add two large tablespoons of mixture and flip over when bubbles start rising to surface. Place slices of banana between two cooked pancakes and dress with remaining ingredients according to personal taste. Makes 8

Eat. Love. Enjoy!

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Published in: on February 25, 2012 at 11:07 pm  Leave a Comment  
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salt and caramel

Salt and caramel. It’s up there with the best of food marriages….lamb and rosemary, chocolate and raspberry, egg and bacon. And truth be told, it’s all I can think about it this morning and when it’s not even midday on this glorious sunny Friday and I have read the phrase “salted caramel” twice already, well I think the food gods are trying to tell me something! Correct me if I’m wrong…. 🙂

First sighting: clicking into my Flipboard app this morning on my iPad and reading the latest Polka Dot Bride blog post. Miss Polka Dot has willingly shared Baroque Bistro’s recipe of their beautiful salted caramel macarons. I stare at the recipe and the photo takes me back to October 31, 2009 to be precise. The date of our Engagement party. Mr ELG and I had a “Party in the Park” at the Column gardens in Centennial Park in Sydney, Australia. The roses were in full bloom, the hedges freshly cut and the grass was soft and green. Mr ELG and I had just come back from a Paris trip where Laduree macarons were on our agenda each day. As Laduree has no Southern Hemisphere store, Baroque Bistro had the next best macarons (I prefer the delectable taste from the Rock’s Baroque kitchens over Zumbo any day but that’s my personal preference!) and if I recall correctly, I think I picked up 250 macarons that morning struggling to hold back from nibbling on a few. Salted Caramel was one of the flavours and take my word for it or get yourself down to Baroque Bistro today; the flavour combination is exquisite and as I write this post, know I am salivating!

Second sighting: while MM is snoozing and I have a spare ten minutes between chores, I grab the latest edition of Delicious magazine; Issue 113 – March 2012. In their latest foodiefile. there’s a write up on the latest cafe on the Surry Hills scene; The Hills. As I scan the short paragraph, my eyes find their way to “salted caramel shake”. Ooooohh I think; can I get there today with MM in tow? A shake with THE marriage of flavours today of all days would go down so well, so smooth, so satisfying on this summer’s day. OH I MUST GO!

If you need me, you know where I will be….happy Friday!

Baroque Bistro @ 88 George Street (corner of Hickson Road) The Rocks, Sydney Australia 2000

The Hills @ 61 Albion Street, Surry Hills NSW Australia 2010

Published in: on February 17, 2012 at 12:18 am  Comments (2)  
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Got to getaway

That was my instruction this time last week from Mr ELG. “Let’s go away for the weekend. Can you please organise something for the three of us. I’m not fussed where but I need to get out of Sydney!!?” With the forecast set to rain, beachy destinations were out. Trawling around wineries with a 10 month old did not really whet the appetite either so the Hunter was also crossed out. So the place that was booked and in my mind, is always nicer anyway when it’s cold and rainy was Leura, in the heart of the Blue Mountains; less than 2 hours from Sydney’s chaos.

On all of our other visits to the Blue Mountains, I have never once stayed in Leura. I always pay a visit to the high street but never based myself there. Blackheath has the gorgeous Heatherton House but needs more three people to make it worthwhile and on our last visit, Mr ELG and I were without a third wheel and instead wewere with 8 of our friends in a massive house in Wentworth Falls.

Walking down the high street in Leura the first thing I see is an A-frame blackboard sporting a familiar image that I usually see up the road at the Gallery cafe in Annandale – Princess Pantry. I follow the gorgeous bunting and it leads me into a cute little store next to the post office. Below the gold crown motive on the sign reads Ladies Guild and inside I discover an assortment of handmade knitted goodies, greeting cards, bunting, tea cups and saucers and of course a great selection of the Princess Pantry range…jams, marmalades and chutneys. As I read labels of Apricot velvet jam and True Blood Orange marmalade, it is hard not to want to source some fresh scones and cream to sample the whole range!

Moving down the street I discover that the beautiful pyjama store Papinelle has opened up a store in Leura. When Mr ELG and I were courting (haha; such an old fashioned description that always makes me laugh); he treated me to some of their collection. Unlike Peter Alexander’s bright and bold prints, Papinelle quench the thirst to be truly feminine at home with their lace, cotton and soft floral collection; not forgetting the Petite Papinelles as they cater for bubs too with their oh-so-cute bloomers.

The other must visits in Leura are the numerous homeware stores and the best stationary store on the opposite side. And while we wandered around immersing ourselves in the atmosphere, well dressed ladies and gents caught up in the roaring 20s and all that Jazz passed us by as they shimmied this way and that and took part in the Charleston Challenge.

Before we went home, there was one last visit to be made…Bakehouse on Wentworth. Known for their delicious sourdough and hot pies, it’s hard to to not follow the smell of fresh bread. And on Monday morning; as the three of us bit into our freshly toasted fruit sourdough toast topped with lashings of butter – we started the week recharged after a great getaway.

Princess Pantry @ Shop 4, Post Office Arcade The Mall Leura 2780

Papinelle @ Shop 5, 152-160 Leura Mall Leura 2780

Bakehouse on Wentworth @208 The Mall Leura 2780

Spellbound

I really am loving my kindle and now that my lighted cover has arrived, it means that when MM has me awake at 2am in the morning and my eyes are no longer sleepy and ready for slumber; I can switch on my little light, turn on the kindle and read without bothering Mr ELG.

My latest read literally had me spellbound. Not for the faint-hearted at close to 800 pages, The Discovery of Witches by Deborah Harkness is a combination of Harry Potter, Twilight and Bram Stoker’s classic Dracula. So with those books in mind, I confirm Vampires, Witches, Daemons and us run-of-the-mill humans play the starring roles. Like the books above and Elizabeth Kostova’s book The Historian, it again poses the question – do these creatures walk among us and if so; do they work, where do they live and what are the rules?

The story is told through the eyes of Diana Bishop, a History professor at Oxford and through her work comes across an ancient manuscript. After reading this manuscript; life as she knows it (a witch in denial of her own powers) changes dramatically as a Pandora box is opened as others fight to find and acquire this priceless item before anyone else can. The book moves through England, France and upstate New York as the author demonstrates her thorough research into these topics and winds you up in her work of fiction.

I finished this book in just under 72 hours, as it quickly became a page turner and although my sleepless in Sydney behaviour gave me a rude shock when I discovered yet again that sleep deprivation and a 10 month old do not mix; it was another book that had completely swept me away as I re-read certain parts and researched other titles Harkness had penned. The Discovery of Witches is the first book in the All Souls trilogy with the second due to be released this July. I also found out that Warner Bros have secured the rights to the screenplay so to finish off I leave you with my casting thoughts that Hugh Jackman would be brilliant as Matthew de Clermont and Natalie Portman would make a great Diana. 

Now I’m always told sleep when they sleep so this 4pm siesta isn’t looking too bad….. zzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzz!

The Post with the most!

It’s rare for me to write a post that ticks all 3 boxes but here’s a wrap up of yesterday…

EAT – to start with…oven baked sourdough and prosecco, moving onto fresh, clean tastes in salads such as  yummy Insalata Caprese with ripe red thickly cut tomatoes and creamy mozzarella slices, tuna nicoise salad with poached eggs, bresaola with rocket and shaved pecorino, cucumber ribbon, pine nuts and ricotta and warm stuffed eggplant. Pasta was next with a bolognese penne and a seared tuna and parsley orecchiette before mains arrived of seared swordfish with tomatoes, capers and extra virgin olive oil and crispy pork belly accompanied by lemon wedges and rocket. Dessert could not be forgotten and for Mr ELG and I, this was arguably our highlight….Eton mess with dollops of cream, fresh vanilla bean and plump sweet strawberries followed by a selection of cheese; both creamy and hard with pear and crackers. A cappuccino finished me off!

LOVE – family on hand to look after MM (BIT’s new codename aka Mini Mister), sharing a table with 14 closest and dearest pals over a long Sunday summer lunch where conversation flowed, laughter was bursting at the seams, yummy food was there to be divulged and life couldn’t be sweeter.

GO – Cafe Sopra above Fratelli Fresh on Danks Street, Waterloo Sydney. The private room where the Italian feast never stops.

Published in: on January 30, 2012 at 12:01 am  Leave a Comment  
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