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Sex begins in the kitchen!

Did I get your attention? A number of years ago I read a relationship book with this title.  It actually wasn’t so much about how food is the way to a man’s heart, it was about how all the little things we do to help each other (like cleaning up the kitchen!) can go a long way towards increasing our desire (specially us chicks who might need a little lead time ;-)!) for intimacy.  Given this is a food blog though and not a marriage blog I’ll turn my attention to sharing a few recipes that you might like to consider for a romantic night in tomorrow night for Valentine’s Day.

Valentine’s Day is not a day on our marriage calendar that is given massive attention, however we do usually buy each other a card.  I’d much rather a gift or flowers at a random time than on a ‘required’ day, but given this year the day falls on a Saturday, and we have no other social plans, we’re planning on cooking a nice dinner (probably a family dinner), putting the kids to bed, then having dessert and watching a movie together.  Then it will be a date night at home and the boys will learn a little about the importance of Mum & Dad having time for our relationship without them.

I haven’t decided exactly what to cook, but here are a few ideas I’ve got that you might be inspired to try too.

If you’re after a 3 course meal, why not try this roasted field mushroom with rocket, persian feta (omit for paleo), sun-dried tomatoes and roasted beetroot chips for an entree? Mushroom+Beetroot

Here are a couple of main course suggestions, depending on what kind of protein your after.  I really like this eye fillet with mushroom & crispy sweet potato.

eye fillet mushrooms sweet potato

If you’d rather some lamb (or are feeding the family), why not cook a butterflied leg of lamb.  butterfliedlamgfigglazecooked

If fish is more your thing grill some fresh salmon and serve it with a fabulous salad, like this rainbow noodley one:vegespaghettisalador this pretty peach & greens salad:pretty peach & green salador even some good old brussel sprouts!

brussel sprouts

The pinnacle of any Valentine’s Day dinner is surely the dessert! Here are a few of my favourite desserts that I think qualify as ‘romantic’ and  fit within the ‘paleo or paleo-ish treat’ category.

These lemon coconut tarts are even AIP friendly and if you have a heart shape mould are even more perfect!

Lemon coconut tarts

Sexy Choc- caramel tart:

choccarmelcoconuttart Raw choc-nut raspberry tarts with banana ice cream: 

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chocolate coconut ganache

 

Here is a super easy paleo-ish dessert. Chocolate coconut ganache with fresh strawberries. Bring 1 cup coconut cream to a simmer with 1/2 tsp vanilla bean paste, turn off and after 5 mins stir in 100g dark choc till combined. Pour into little dishes (or tart shell) and refrigerate until set. Serve with fresh strawberries.

 

 

Or if paleo is not your thing and you want, what I think is the prettiest of desserts, have a go at this Pretty Persian Rose Ice Cream.

Well, hopefully that’s got the romance building in the air/kitchen!  I’d love you to post/comment with your Valentine’s Day meal ideas or after the fact, let me know what you cooked.  You can always tag your photos with #whatannabelcooks and I’ll see what you’ve made.

♥  Annabel x

Rainbow salad & pesto mayonnaise

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I don’t use purple cabbage all that much but when I added it to this salad, it just looked so gorgeous! I don’t know about you but I get into a rut with salads. After a while they are all very similar. That’s why this one is fun as it’s added another colour and with the grated beetroot and carrot there are a few textures too. You could just as easily serve it with a balsamic/lemon/olive oil style dressing. A few nuts or seeds sprinkled on top would be nice too.

Adjust quantities according to the number you want to feed.  This one serves 3-4.

Toss all ingredients together:

  • 2 handfuls mixed salad greens
  • 1 large handful snow peas, chopped in half
  • 1/2 beetroot, grated
  • 1 carrot, grated
  • 1 cup shredded purple cabbage

Serve with Pesto mayonnaise.

To make pesto mayonnaise, mixed equal proportions of  pesto with mayonnaise and either serve on the side or toss the salad in the dressing for a more coleslaw style salad.

Paleo Pesto
1 large bunch basil – leaves removed from stalks
1-2 garlic cloves, peeled and roughly chopped
Juice 1/2 lemon
1/2 cup almonds (or any nut of your choice – raw or roasted)
olive oil
salt & pepper

Place all ingredients in food processor and blitz until finely chopped and a chunky paste is formed.  You will probably want to taste and adjust flavours eg more lemon/salt and adjust for consistency with oil and even a bit of water if you want it a bit thinner.

Paleo Mayonnaise

  • 1-2 garlic cloves
  • juice of 1 lemon
  • 1 tsp Dijon mustard
  • 1 egg
  • salt & pepper
  • 2-3 anchovies (optional)
  • 3/4 cup olive oil (or macadamia or avocado)
  1. In a food processor or stick blender blitz the garlic, lemon juice, mustard, egg, s&p, anchovies and about 1/4 cup of the oil.  Blitz until well combined.
  2. Then with the processor/stick blender going SLOWLY pour in the rest of the oil in a constant but gentle trickle.  Keep going until the oil isn’t absorbed anymore – if it won’t ‘blend’ in anymore, just stop adding the oil.
  3. Taste and season again if needed.  Refrigerate.

shredded asian pork kelp noodle salad (paleo)

I was asked to take a savoury paleo dish to an Australia Day lunch that would ‘wow’ the host’s husband.  Feeling no pressure whatsoever (;-)) I ended up do a twist on the pulled pork from the pulled pork taco recipe and turning it into an Asian noodle salad.  Success! This recipe made a large salad – great for a smorgasboard lunch. Begin this recipe a day or 2 earlier for the best flavour.

Slow cooked Asian pork

  • 1kg diced pork scotch fillet (sometimes called pork neck)
  • about 1/2 cup tamari (use coconut aminos for strict paleo but tamari is GF)
  • 1-2 cloves garlic, minced
  • 3cm piece ginger – grated
  • juice of 1 lime
  • 1-2 Tbsp coconut sugar
  • 1 tsp Chinese five spice
  • 2 cinnamon sticks
  • 3 star anise
  1. Mix together and marinate for at least a couple of hours, preferably overnight.
  2. Put all ingredients into a slow cooker and cook for 6-8 hours on low (or until tender).
  3. Shred.  Set aside.  If you’re not serving on the same day, put into a container and refrigerate until you are going to serve.

Salad

  • 500g kelp noodles, rinsed drained and roughly chopped
  • 2 grated carrots
  • 2 large handfuls of finely diced kale/silverbeet/leafy greens
  • 1 large cup of mixed herbs, chopped (I used coriander, mint, Thai basil, basil, flat leaf parsley)
  • feel free to add any other veggies you’d like.
  1. Put all salad ingredients in a large bowl and toss well.

Dressing

  • juice of 1 lime
  • 1 garlic clove grated
  • 2cm ginger piece grated
  • 1 Tbsp fish sauce
  • 1 Tbsp coconut sugar/palm sugar

Assembly

  1. Warm the shredded pork if not using immediately after cooking.
  2. Add pork including the juices that have come out in the cooking to the salad and toss well.
  3. Add dressing and toss well.
  4. Serve – could add toasted slivered  almonds or fried onions for a bit of crunch too.

I haven’t forgotten you! Welcome to 2015.

I know it’s nearly the end of January already but with the kids starting back at school tomorrow, it feels still like the beginning of the year, so happy New Year! I’m quite excited about 2015 after a few challenges in 2014.  I’ve got a few ideas for whatannabelcooks (along the lines of more paleo cooking classes, recipe cards, perhaps a cookbook, gathering a few new followers and selling more rocky road).  Putting on one of my other hats I’ll continue  with my mediation practice (I mediate for separated couples) and am going to start doing pre-marriage counselling/education, so I’m really looking forward to that too (especially working with happy couples).  Somewhere in there the washing will have to get done, family fed and all the mundane things of life done. I’m even planning to prioritise sleep this year too.

So, I must apologise for not having posted a blog since November (but it was a raw paleo snickers bars so surely that makes up for it!).  After November I got pretty busy making and selling my Christmas Rocky Road Wreaths which were a huge success, so that didn’t leave a lot of time for new recipes and blogging.  I often post photos with short recipes on  Facebook  or Instagram so if you don’t follow me on there, I highly recommend you do for the quick recipes, tips, inspiration etc.

We were away for about a month too – 2 weeks with my parents, and siblings and their families in Orange (country NSW) over Christmas and then for 2 weeks with Leigh and the boys in the North Island of New Zealand.  So much adventure, fabulous people and of course lots of food to eat along the way.  I am constantly learning about travelling and following a paleo-ish way of eating and I think the real key is to be prepared and pack a travel cooler bag with snacks like nuts, seeds, jerky, fruit etc. As long as it’s gluten free though I’m far less ‘strict’ than when at home. It also helped that in NZ all the places we stayed had kitchens so we had fun cooking a few things along the way (like rainbow trout caught by my middle son, and green lipped mussels).

So after rocky road licks, Christmas and holidays I’m back on the healthy eating wagon with a mission to stay off sugar and ‘healthy’ sugars for the next little while, so expect more savoury posts/photos etc over the next couple of months.  I’m following Pete Evans (Australian chef now a huge paleo advocate)’s 10 week The Paleo Way program, so I imagine a number of ‘my recipes’ will be from Pete, but I’ll be sure to let you know if they are!

Here are a few holiday food snaps for you to drool over.

Don’t forget that I LOVE getting feedback/questions/comments etc so please ‘like’, comment away.

Annabel xo

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raw paleo snickers

raw paleo snickers bar

raw paleo snickersEarlier in the year I made a different (and much more complicated) version of a paleo snickers bar merging a few recipes I found online and then I couldn’t remember what I did so never posted the recipe!

I was recently out for dinner with a couple of friends and one was telling me about a slice she and her teenage girls devour – sounded close enough to a paleo snickers bar in concept, so here is my attempt at my version!   It was easy and relatively quick.  Tasted delicious with my coffee this morning too.

raw paleo snickers bar recipe

First step is to soak the cashews for the middle layer, then make in order below…

Base:

  • 8 fresh dates (pitted)
  • 1 cup mixed nuts (raw or toasted… but then not a raw slice!)
  • 1/2 cup pepitas
  • 1 Tbsp melted cacao butterIMG_0116
  • 1 Tbsp coconut oil
  • 1 Tbsp raw cacao powder
  • 1 tsp water
  1. Line a square baking tin with baking paper.
  2. Blitz together in a food processor/blender/thermomix until sticking together – can be a bit chunkier if you like the crunch, or smoother if you don’t.
  3. Spread out evenly in the baking tin, freeze until next layer is ready.

Middle layer:

  • 1 cup cashews (soaked for about an hour and rinsed – the longer you soak the smoother the ‘cream’ layer)
  • 1 Tbsp coconut oil
  • 1/2 cup coconut cream
  • 1/8 cup maple syrup (or to taste)IMG_0117
  1. Blend in a food processor/blender/thermomix until a smooth paste.
  2. Spread over the base layer – doesn’t matter if it’s not completely smooth (see picture).  Return to freezer for at least 30 mins.
  3. BEFORE adding the chocolate layer, smooth over this layer with a large spatula or cake knife so that when the chocolate is poured on, the finish is smooth and not lumpy.

Top/Chocolate layer:

  • 1/4 cup melted cacao butter
  • 1/4 cup raw cacao powder
  • 1/8 cup maple syrupIMG_0118
  1. Whisk ingredients together until smooth.
  2. Pour  the chocolate over the smoothed middle layer – spreading by either rolling the tin around or using a cake spatula.
  3. Return to freezer until set.

To serve:

Remove from the freezer, let it stand for 5 mins or so before cutting so you don’t crack the chocolate layer.  Cut into squares or bars.  It is rich, so small pieces is best and will make it last longer!  Store in the fridge or freezer.

Makes up to about 50 pieces.

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Roasted beetroot & broccolini salad (GF, paleo option)

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Just in case you were begin to think that all I’ve been cooking lately is rocky road and sweet treats, here’s a savoury side salad perfect for any time of year but especially good for Christmas because of the colours! Great either warm or cold.  For a paleo or dairy free option, just omit the fetta, simple!  The beetroot tasted AMAZING roasted in coconut oil but you could also use macadamia oil.

  • 1-2 large beetroot, peeled and cut into segments
  • 2 Tbsp coconut oil
  • 1 bunch broccolini
  • 2 Tbsp chopped pistachios
  • fetta to sprinkle (optional)
  1.  Toss the peeled and segmented beetroot in oil, spread on an oven tray covered in baking paper and sprinkle with salt.
  2. Roast in the oven at 190C/375F for about 40 mins until tender and starting to be a little bit crispy around the edges.  You may need to toss or turn once.
  3. If serving warm, wait until the beetroot is cooked then simmer the broccolini in water on the stove for a few mins until starting to soften but don’t overcook or it will lose it’s green-ness. If serving cold, you can pre-cook the broccolini just make sure you really cool it down quickly after cooking.
  4. Drain broccolini and rinse under cool water.
  5. To serve spread the broccolini on the platter, top with beetroot and sprinkle with fetta and pistachios.

Here it is without the fetta, ie the paleo/DF option:

roasted beetroot and broccolini salad

Mint slice the paleoish way! (GF, DF)

I’ve been wanting to make these for a while and in fact had made the coconut mint pattie a few weeks ago and had them in the freezer. I just hadn’t got around to either making paleo chocolate or just dipping them in melted chocolate. I’d eaten a number un-dipped, but as I was making rocky road the other day I thought I’d dip the few I had left!

The original recipe comes from Food Matters recipe I’d pinned on Pinterest a while ago but as I already had the chocolate (Lindt covouture) melted I just dipped in that. It did make for a crisper shell than the true paleo version, but certainly what earns the paleoISH description. I think next time I’ll add a little peppermint essence to the chocolate too. Delicious.

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