Goats cheese, basil and tomato tart with a brown rice chip crust

TOMATO, BASIL AND CHEESE TART WITH A BROWN RICE CHIP CRUST

Since I started cooking as a (semi) adult, I’ve had a bit of an obsession with tarts. There’s something so alluring (apparently I don’t get out much) about combing all the different facets of a meal into one singular, cheesy morsel of delicious.

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I’ve made many tarts in my time, but sometimes I will admit that I would rather chew off my thumb than fiddle around with different flours and meals, pressing and prodding, blind baking and re-baking. The lengthy process of it all is almost enough to put me off the magnificent meal that is the humble tart, and roast veg smothered in cheese, while delicious, is not quite on that other level. 

Working with my pals at SunRice again, I decided to make a tart crust out of their brown rice chips. While I experimented with the sea salt and the wild rice varietals, I daresay the parmesan and tomato ones would make for a particularly delicious tart crust. If delicious doesn’t win you over, then hear this: the crust takes 2 minutes to create in a food processor, and doesn’t even need blind baking. All in all, preparation of the tart takes around 10 minutes. YAS.

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INGREDIENTS

FOR THE TART BASE:

2 packets of Sunrice Brown Rice Chips
3 medium-large eggs
4 tablespoons olive oil
Pinch of salt and pepper

FOR THE FILLING:

500g firm deli Ricotta
1 cup milk of choice (I used Cow's milk)
100g goats cheese
50g freshly grated Parmesan
1 large bunch of basil
2 teaspoons Balsamic vinegar
1 egg
1 bunch vine ripened cherry tomatoes
Salt and pepper, to season

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METHOD

1. Preheat the oven to 180 degrees Celsius.
2. In a large bowl, combine the Ricotta, salt and pepper, and milk, and stir to combine. Leave this to sit.
3. In your food processor, combine all the ingredients for the tart base until they have combined. Add a little bit of water if you think you need it.
4. Spray your circular tart tin with generous olive oil, and gently press the tart mixture into the tin. Don’t press the fluted edges too firmly, or else it will be difficult to remove.
5. Once this is done, set any leftovers aside to sprinkle over the tart before cooking.
6. Stir your Ricotta and milk mixture, which should have become more yoghurt like in consistency. Add in your egg, goats cheese and parmesan, and stir thoroughly. Finally, add about ¾ of your chopped basil, and the balsamic vinegar.
7. Pour the cheese mixture into the tart tin, and top with the vine ripened tomatoes, on the vine (this is optional but aesthetically pleasing!)
8. Spray your tomatoes gently with some olive oil, and top the tart with a bit of extra grated parmesan.
9. Pop it in the oven for 20-30 minutes, or until the filling is firm and well browned. You can place it under the grill for a few minutes to grill the cheese nicely at the end.
10. Top with the remaining basil, and a sprinkle of Balsamic if you fancy. Easy tarts, my favourite kind. 

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Save The Children Syria Appeal e-book

This post is a little different today, but I promise I'm not boring you without a good reason, so pls bare with me. With all the terrible events that seem to be going on in the world right now, it struck me last year that I am incredibly lucky to be in the place that I am in life, both geographically and otherwise, and how I really should be doing something with that relative affluence I have been given.

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I don't mean affluence in a wanky way, like a 'getting gold fillings for fun' or 'bathing in Dom because I can' type stuff. I grew up in a loving, supportive household, in a safe, democratic country. I can pay my own rent, and I have enough of an income that I can buy myself trinkets, get my nails done, and buy myself zucchini flowers just because they're pretty. In the scheme of things, I am affluent, and I am lucky.

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So I decided to use my love of food and cooking for good, and that's why I created an e-book. The e-book has 12 recipes, all vegetarian and gluten free. 100% of the profits made are being donated to Save The Children's Syrian appeal. Syrian Children have not had the same luck as I have had. Born in a war torn, devastated country, they don't have the same opportunity to experience a great childhood, an education, and a chance to do whatever they want in life. 

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Recipes in the e-book range from satay tofu burgers, to a salted banana and Nutella tart, to the least shit chia pudding you will have in a long time. There are three breakfasts, lunches, dinners and desserts, all of which I make and eat at home on the regular. It retails for $14.99AUD, and 100% of that money is being donated to Save The Children's Syrian Appeal.

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Even if you think that I'm boring and rubbish and terrible, by buying the e-book you'll be donating to an extremely worthy cause. As a part of a society that has everything we need to survive and flourish, I think it is our responsibility to help those who might not. 

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You can purchase the e-book through the link on my website page here, and I really hope you do. 

Green Kitchen Stories Q&A + recipe: Rosehip 'Affogato' with Crumbled 'Amaretti'

Excuse me while I have a minor fangirl moment, but today's blog post/recipe will be less of my irrelevant ramblings/complaints and more about the life goals duo that is Green Kitchen Stories. To celebrate the release of their new book, Green Kitchen Smoothies, I asked them a few questions re: all things GKS, and they've kindly given us a sneak peak into the book with a recipe for a Rosehip 'Affogato' with Crumbled 'Amaretti.' I could say more, but I did promise less irrelevant rambling, so I'll rein myself in on this special occasion. 

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Apart from your camera, what is your number one must have for food photography? 

Good light. It’s really that simple. Just staying close to a window with indirect light or bringing the food outdoors is the best way to bring out the natural colour of all food. It also helps if whatever your shooting is colourful and pretty. Stews are always difficult.

What does an average day look like in the GKS household?

It depends on what projects we are working with. If we are working on a cookbook, we are usually either sucked into a recipe testing frenzy or have long days of photo shoots. We should probably set off more time to answer emails since we are so insanely far behind on that (currently 1766 unread emails), but it’s just so much more fun to be working with food than with the computer.

Do you have a favourite recipe in the new book?

It’s difficult to only choose one when you’ve put so much effort into all of them, so here are our three favourites.

First the Super Berry & Fennel Smoothie. It’s a simple smoothie recipe filled with berries, which is one of our favourite ingredients. It’s not too sweet either, with avocado instead of the usual banana. It has a touch of liquorice from the fennel that goes perfectly with the fresh berry flavour. 

But I also love all our show-stopping smoothies in the book, so my other favourite is the Mango & Chia Parfait. It is a beautifully layered chia pudding with fresh passion fruit combined with a mango, ginger and buckwheat smoothie. It’s definitely more tropical than the berry smoothie and therefore they complement each other really well.

The third one is Nuts & Blues. It’s a simple and creamy smoothie that we often make after dinner as a weekday dessert. A blend of bananas, avocado, nut butter, cacao powder and plant milk is poured over mashed wild blueberries. The flavour is amazing when the nutty sweetness meets the blueberries and it also looks spectacular as the blueberries paint blue patterns in the smoothie.

Which GKS recipes are in high rotation at your place?

We are all big fans of this Cauliflower Pizza in our family. These Spinach & Quinoa Patties are also often on rotation. And the kids love crêpes so we do Spinach Crêpes with various fillings quite regularly.

Favourite lens for food photography?

I love my Canon 100mm f/2.8 macro lens. It captures the yummiest part of the food and blurs out everything else beautifully. The 50 mm lens is essential for all shots from above.

Will we be seeing any more big trips for GKS?

We are working on another ”big book” and we are also expecting our third child in October so at the moment we’re trying to focus on that. But when book and baby is ready, we are talking about going on new adventures. We want to see more of Australia and we’ll definitely try to include that in our plans. 

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Rosehip ‘Affogato’ with Crumbled ‘Amaretti’

Serves 2 or 1 large serving

This is a slight deviation from a smoothie as we don’t even use a blender, but it’s a drink we used to have growing up, so we just couldn’t leave it out. Rosehips are a true Scandinavian superfood with a unique flavour. They are packed with anti-inflammatory and antioxidant compounds and are known to reduce pain and improve movement for arthritis sufferers.
Luise’s 84-year-old grandpa has been adding a tablespoon to his porridge for decades and he swears by it.

In Sweden, rosehip powder is sold in supermarkets and health food stores; however, if you live in another country, you can always find it online. You can drink this cold; in fact, rosehip soup is an excellent base in smoothies. Here, however, we serve it exactly how I remember it from my childhood – hot, poured over a dollop of ice cream (or Greek yoghurt) and topped with crushed biscuits.

For the Date ‘Amaretti’

4–5 soft dates, pitted
90 g (3¼ oz/¾ cup) ground almonds (or almond flour)
60 ml (2 oz/¼ cup) almond milk

 For the Rosehip Soup

40 g (1½ oz/¼ cup) rosehip powder
1 tablespoon arrowroot (or potato starch)
500 ml (17 fl oz/2 cups) water
3 tablespoons pure maple syrup

To Serve
vanilla ice cream (ordinary or vegan)

Preheat the oven to 180°C/350°F/Gas mark 4 and line a baking tray with parchment paper. Place all of the ingredients for the date ‘amaretti’ in a food processor and pulse until mixed. Alternatively, put the dates in a bowl and mash them with a fork until they form a paste. Add the rest of the ingredients and mix until well combined. Taste and adjust the sweetness to your liking by adding more dates if necessary. Transfer to a piping bag and pipe into about 2 cm (¾ in) diameter rounds, like amaretti biscuits (Italian macaroons). Bake for about 10 minutes or until golden. Set aside to cool while you prepare the rosehip soup.

Put the rosehip powder in a saucepan along with the arrowroot and water. Bring to the boil, whisking continuously to prevent lumps from forming. Reduce the heat, whisk in the maple syrup and simmer for about 5 minutes, or until a smooth syrup forms, before removing from the heat. Strain it through a fine-mesh sieve to get it completely smooth.

To assemble, spoon a scoop of vanilla ice cream into the base of two medium-sized glass jars or bowls, or in a large jar (as featured in the photo), and pour over the rosehip soup. Finish with a sprinkling of crumbled ‘amaretti’ and some extra ice cream on top for the sweet-toothed. Serve straight away before it comes running down the
glass jar!

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If you want to get your hands on some more of the Green Kitchen Smoothies recipes by David Frenkiel & Luise Vindahl, (published by Hardie Grant Books) they are available to snap up now where all good books are sold. This one above is the 'Nuts n Blues.' <3

Gluten free, intolerance friendly chocolate cake with easy vegan chocolate icing

As someone who is currently on an elimination diet/whose life for the past 4 years seems to have been one big elimination diet,  I have developed an acute awareness of, and sympathy for, those who walk among us who cannot just eat whatever is put in front of them. When It gets to a point where it's easier to answer the question 'what can you eat?' rather than 'what can't you eat?', you know you're part of a unique and somewhat crappy club, one that people don't always take very seriously. It seems to me that people think of an intolerances as an allergy's weaker cousin, a cousin prone to dramatisation and embellishment of stories. I can personally attest to the fact that this is not quite true. While intolerances aren't life threatening, they can put you in bed for a good couple of not so good days. 

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With all that in mind, I wanted to make a chocolate cake that was delicious, but also a friendly treat for those of us who want to treat themselves without needing to go foetal after. This cake is gluten free, grain free, refined sugar free and dairy free, and the icing component is all these things in addition to being vegan. If you're on a strict elimination diet, substitute the maple for whatever sweetener is permissable for you. I opted for maple because I decided to live on the wild side. 

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INGREDIENTS

2 cups almond meal
4 tablespoons coconut oil, melted
8 tablespoons cacao powder
4 tablespoons maple syrup
1 teaspoon vanilla bean paste
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/2 cup milk of choice (I used almond)
4 eggs
2 teaspoons baking soda
3 teapoons apple cider vinegar

ICING

1 tablespoon almond butter
1 tablespoon coconut oil
1 teaspoon vanilla bean paste
Generous pinch of salt
1 teaspoon maple syrup
1 tablespoon almond milk

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METHOD

1. Preheat the oven to 180 degrees Celsius.
2. In a large bowl, combine the almond meal, cacao and salt. Add the eggs, almond milk, vanilla bean paste and maple syrup, and stir until well combined. Next add the coconut oil, and continue to stir the mixture until everything has been incorporated. Finally, add the baking soda and apple cider vinegar, and mix the bubbles through. 
3. Grease your silicon loaf pan (apparently there's no need to do this, but I always it 10x easier to remove if I do) and pour the mixture in. Pop in the oven for 45 minutes to an hour.
4. When the cake is nearly ready, melt the coconut oil and almond butter together to make the icing. You can do this in a small pot or in the microwave. Add the maple syrup (stevia drops work well if you're avoiding all sugars) salt and vanilla bean paste, and mix well. Add the almond milk, and an icing consistency should form. Set aside.
5. Once you've checked the cake is done, leave it to cool before removing gently from the loaf pan, and slathering with icing. Yes. 

 

 

Sweet potato green Thai curry

I've been sitting at my laptop for about fifteen minutes now, writing and deleting various descriptives of green Thai curry. I feel that herein lies the true description of my love for it; that I cannot possibly put it into coherent sentences. The profound depth and intensity of my green Thai curry feels is also a dire insight into my love life/distinct lack thereof, but that's a story for another time, ie after a few wines and in a journal that I will subsequently burn or drown through fierce embarrassment. 

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INGREDIENTS

2 medium sweet potatoes, chopped
2-3 teaspoons green Thai curry paste (Mae Ploy is my must have)
40g ginger, grated (pls don't make me specify fresh)
1/2 grated kaffir lime
2 cans of coconut milk (I accidentally used one coconut cream, life did not end)
Juice of 1/2 large lime, or a whole small one
1 teaspoon brown sugar
2 tablespoons natural smooth peanut butter
1 bunch of bok choi (by bunch I mean the little bundle of 3 you get at the shops, can't think of a more succinct way of saying it) 
Sriracha, to taste
Coriander, lime and chilli, to serve
Peanut oil, for cooking
Salt and pepper

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METHOD

1. In a large pot, add a good glug of peanut oil and turn the pot on to a medium heat. Add the green Thai curry paste, ginger (you can add some garlic too if you fancy) and cubed sweet potatoes, and stir intermittently for about 10 minutes, or until the cubes have begun to cook through. 
2. Add the grated kaffir lime, brown sugar, and stir through. Follow this up with the coconut milk, peanut butter, salt and pepper and lime juice, and stir well. Pop a lid on, turn to a low-medium heat and allow to cook for 15-20 minutes, or until the sweet potato is completely cooked. Try not to stir it too often or the cubes will become mush. Delicious mush, but mush all the same. You can add some tofu here if you fancy beefing it up, if you'll excuse the terminology. Add the bok choi and half the bunch of coriander, and cook for another five or so minutes, until they're cooked. 
3. Divide into four bowls, and serve with extra coriander, chilli and lime wedges. 

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Gluten free peanut butter donuts with choc-peanut butter icing

Yes, it happened. I fell victim to the marketing ploy that was 'national donut day.' May I just note that America seemed to be in on the game as well, making it more of an international event. Perhaps the donut vendors of the world should have gotten together to solidify the plans. 

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Marketing strategies aside, I too jumped on the bandwagon with these peanut butter donuts, and normally I would scold myself for being sucked in, but it's kind of hard to do that when your kitchen is full of donuts. On that topic: they are much better if you eat them on the day, or zap them in the microwave before eating leftover ones, as they tend to harden up over time. 

Please also note that I didn't get sucked in quite enough/wasn't organised enough to post this recipe before the actual 'donut day' itself. Small victories. 

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INGREDIENTS - makes 9 donuts 

DONUTS
1 cup arrowroot flour (also called Tapioca, easily found in the supermarket or bulk store)
1 1/2 cup almond meal
3 heaped tablespoons natural smooth peanut butter (I used Ridiculously Delicious)
1.5 teaspoons ground cinnamon
Generous grating of fresh nutmeg
1/2 cup milk
2 tablespoons coconut oil, melted
2 tablespoons maple syrup
2 eggs
2 teaspoons apple cider vinegar
1 teaspoon baking powder
pinch of salt

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FOR THE ICING:
2 tablespoons coconut oil, melted
2 tablespoons natural smooth peanut butter (again, I used Ridiculously Delicious)
1 teaspoon maple syrup, or a few drops of liquid stevia (both work)
freeze dried raspberries, if ya feelin' fancy

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METHOD

1. Preheat the oven to 180 degrees Celsius. 
2. In a large bowl, combine the almond meal and tapioca flour. Add in the eggs, peanut butter, cinnamon and nutmeg, milk and salt, and mix well. Once combined, add the maple syrup and coconut oil, and finally the baking powder and apple cider vinegar. Stir in the bubbles and set aside. 
3. Time to grease your donut pan. I find butter by far the best at greasing the pan and actually allowing me to remove the donuts with minimal stress crying and sweaty upper lip. Your call on what you use, but don't say I didn't warn you.
4. Pop the donuts into the oven for 15 minutes. You could even suss them out at 12-13 minutes. 
5. While that's happening, use a medium bowl to mix together your coconut oil, peanut butter and sweetener of choice to make your icing.
6. Take the donuts out and allow them to cool before icing. To ice, I found the easiest method was simply to dunk them in the bowl. Top with fancy toppings and enjoy. And remember: give them a zap if you're eating them in the following days, otherwise you'll be eating rocks and hating on me. 


 

No frills gluten free banana bread with coconut and passionfruit icing

I think it's fairly universally accepted that everybody loves banana bread. Although I (obviously) include myself in this category, I despise the fact that I wind up feeling like I need to do more than a few sit ups after I eat it (I never do the sit ups, but I do tell myself they might be a wise idea.)

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I fiddled around for a while with this recipe, and I'm finally happy with it. Embarrassingly simple, devoid of many unnecessary ingredients, and free of post consumption sit up guilt, relative to some other options out there in the big bad world. I started with sour cream icing, and that tasted a bit like a really odd burrito, so now I've gone with coconut yoghurt, which is dreamy with both banana and passionfruit. Your icing, however, is your prerogative. 

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INGREDIENTS

2 LAAARGE and in charge super ripe bananas, or 3 small ones
1 egg
1 1/2 cups almond meal
3 tablespoons potato flour (Arrowroot would probably work too)
1 teaspoon vanilla bean paste
1 tablespoon natural peanut butter
1/2 cup milk of choice (I've tried with regular and almond to success)
2 tablespoons maple syrup (depending on the ripeness of your bananas, it works with just 1 tablespoon too)
2 teaspoons baking powder
3 teaspoons apple cider vinegar 

1/2 cup unflavoured coconut yoghurt
1 teaspoon vanilla bean paste
1 teaspoon maple syrup
2 passionfruits

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METHOD

1. Preheat the oven to 180 degrees Celsius.
2. In your food processor, throw in errything except the baking powder and vinegar. Process until smooth, and then add the baking powder and vinegar, stirring in thoroughly. Transfer to a silicon loaf tin (I had way more success getting it out of the tin when I greased it with butter, even though somebody told me you're not supposed to do this with silicon. I break the rulez)
3. Cook for 45 minutes to an hour/an hour and ten. Each loaf seems to have its own unique personality (although this may be my crap bomb of an oven) - check it and be the judge. 
4. Allow to cool before removing and serving, this will save you many headaches, I promise. The crest of the loaf will fall, but what matters is what is on the inside, ammirite? 
5. Once cool, mix together the coconut yoghurt, vanilla bean and maple. I tried to put mine in the freezer to harden it up a bit but to no avail. Perhaps a teaspoon of coconut oil would assist in this, if you're after aesthetic values. If not, no worries. Top with the passionfruit and eat. 

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Smokey black bean and lime nachos with brown rice chips

I think nachos are probably one of my all time favourite foods, although my Mum will never forgive me for saying so. They’re so outrageously versatile that there truly is a nacho for every occasion. The cheesy, tex-mex variety for a Sunday hangover or a movie night, or the raw varieties for after you’ve been for a walk in your active wear and feel like you’re an unstoppable health God. Then there are the vegan sort, pioneered in my very biased opinion by Vegie Bar in Melbourne, or the fresher, lime and coriander type, that almost find a happy middle ground.  So in summary, I’ve just described pretty much every type of nacho, and nobody can ever doubt my nacho love and credibility ever again.

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Over the past year I’ve had to become increasingly aware of what I’m eating, thanks but no thanks to a condition called SIBO, in which bacteria gatecrashes your small intestine, steals food and nutrients that happens to float by, and wreaks havoc on your digestion as a result.

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I’ve had to do some experimenting and eliminating as to what works for me, and was a tiny bit devastated to learn that corn is no good for a gal like me, at least for the time being. Refer to my in depth description of nachos if my corn related sadness confuses you. So, when SunRice asked if I would like to develop a recipe for them featuring their corn chip style brown rice chips, I was rather happy to jump on board. Nachos forever. 

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INGREDIENTS
2 Roma tomatoes, finely chopped
425g tin black beans, drained
2 tablespoons olive oil
2 teaspoons smoked paprika
2 teaspoons cumin
Generous sea salt and pepper
2 teaspoons brown sugar
2 teaspoons freshly brewed espresso
1 teaspoon cacao powder
Zest of ½-1 lime
Juice of ½-1 lime (adjust to your limey taste)
2 bags of SunRice brown rice chips (I used one sea salt and one Tomato and Parmesan – they taste just like cheesy corn chips)

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TOPPINGS
Freshly grated good quality cheddar
Small handful of chopped cherry tomatoes
Small handful of coriander
1 or 2 limes, chopped
Chopped green or red (or green and red) chilli
Sour cream
Avocado

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METHOD

1. Preheat the oven to 180 degrees Celsius.
2. In a medium saucepan, add the olive oil, chopped Roma tomatoes, sea salt, pepper, brown sugar, lime zest and spices, and cook over a medium heat until the tomatoes begin to lose their shape and become saucy.  You can add a splash of water if you feel it’s necessary.
3. Add the beans to the mix, and stir well to combine. Add the cacao, espresso, and lime juice, continuing to stir. Leave the mix to cook for an additional 5-10 minutes.
4. While the beans are cooking, arrange your brown rice chips in a casserole dish (should be called nacho dish ammirite) and begin to sort out your toppings. Cheese is the only strictly necessary topping here (I would argue the case for sour cream but it’s not 100% essential as cheese is) – use whatever you enjoy, because nachos are to be wholly enjoyed.
5. Take the beans off the heat and pour them over the centre of your assembled chips. Top this with a generous amount of freshly grated cheddar (pls no pre-bagged nonsense) and pop in the oven for about 10-15 minutes. Keep watching them, chips are fragile entities and nothing is more devastating than burnt nachos. Nothing.
6. Once the cheese is super melty, take them out of the oven, and top with your preferred choice of toppings. Now eat them all in one sitting. 

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Gluten free salted espresso and blueberry brownies

I think the brownie has to be one of the most universally loved sweet foods. Ok, well maybe not universally. And maybe not, because I haven't done any research on the topic. All I know is that everybody I have brunched with swoons at the sight of brownies in the little cabinet next to the coffee machine. Does that count as empirical data? I vote yes. 

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Sometimes I feel like people are lying to me when they say that the healthy counterpart of a traditionally flour and sugar laden dessert 'tastes the same.' Please don't try and tell me that this raw Oreo tastes like a normal one. That is a flat out lie. That being said, I think healthified brownies CAN be the exception to the rule. They don't actually need the horrendous amount of sugar (in pure and chocolate form) and butter and flour that is in them. It's not necessary, and if you're anything like me, the guilt and ill health post brownie consumption borderline outweighs the joy of eating it in the first place. 

These ones are gluten free, have barely any refined sugar (excepting the chocolate, although you could use unsweetened choc if you're hardcore) and have a bit of protein and good fat from the almond meal, a bit of caffeine for life, and then the antioxidants related to the cacao and blueberries. Great. 

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INGREDIENTS

2 cups almond meal
½ cup cacao powder
100g butter
3 tablespoons maple syrup
3 eggs
½ cup milk
½ cup chocolate chips
1 teaspoon vanilla bean paste
2 tablespoon strong espresso
1 teaspoon sea salt flakes
½ cup blueberries 

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METHOD

1. Preheat the oven to 180 degrees Celsius, and turn the stove onto a medium heat. Pop a medium sized saucepan on, half filled with water, and a steel bowl atop that, making sure the water doesn't touch the bowl. Double boiler style. Add the chocolate chips and the butter, and melt.
2. When the chocolate butter is melted, take it off the heat and stir in the espresso, cacao, salt, maple syrup and the almond meal. Follow this with the vanilla extract and milk, and finally, when you're sure you won't scramble them, the eggs. 
3. Gently mix in the blueberries, and then pour the brownie mixture into a well greased tin. You might want to line the base of it, just in case. Leave the brownies in for around 20-30 minutes, depending on how squishy you like your brownies. Done!

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Zucchini, haloumi, mint and preserved lemon fritters

Desperate times call for desperate measures, and with all my fun little food intolerances of late, I've been looking into and attempting to consider elements of the GAPS diet. I haven't been following it intensely (because life) but there have been a few take home tips that I've incorporated into my diet, one of those being the humble zucchini fritter.

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The basic version I sometimes make in the morning entails naught but grated zucchini, almond meal, sea salt and organic eggs, mixed together and cooked in ghee. This sounds horrendously bland to most people, but when I can eat something and I don't feel like a balloon/vomiting/exploding, I know I'm onto a good thing.

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The suggestion by a friend that my fritters needed cheese in them (said with a look of disgust after I expressed my excitement at going home to eat the plain versions after our morning walk) is in fact the inspiration for these fritters. As I have always said, cheese makes most things better, and I've found that I tolerate cheese very well on a FODMAP basis anyway (thanks for giving me that one, body) 

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INGREDIENTS
200g grated zucchini
150g grated haloumi
1 1/2 cups almond meal
2 eggs
50g butter, melted
handful of chopped mint
zest of half a lime
small piece of chopped preserved lemon
1 teaspoon preserved lemon juice
generous salt and pepper
eggs, to serve
ghee or butter, to cook
splash of water if necessary

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METHOD

1. Preheat a pan to a medium heat and warm the ghee.
2. In a large bowl, combine all the ingredients and mix well. I find it easiest if I leave it for five or ten minutes - some of the moisture from the zucchini seems to disappear and make it easier to handle.
3. Fritter size is very much up to you - smaller are easier to handle when cooking because they are quite delicate. Plop the desired amount of mixture in the pan, and spread out until the fritter is a couple of centimetres in height. The best way to cook these is slowly and on a low-medium heat, so a) the haloumi has time to melt and b) they don't turn into scrambled crumbs when you attempt to flip. I would say 4 or 5 minutes on the first side, and 1 or two on the second, but use your cheffy intuition. Or eat them as scrambled crumbs, which are equally as nice.
4. Repeat until you're done, and top with the remaining haloumi (packets are normally 180g, bless) a fried egg, and some extra mint. Too bloody easy.

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Basil and sage involtini with roasted heirloom tomatoes

I am a bit distrustful when people tell me they just don't like Italian food. What is not to like? The cheese? The carbs? The generous servings of garlic?

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That being said, with all my current food intolerances, I do find it increasingly difficult to find/eat Italian food that doesn't make me feel like the bathroom walls are closing in around me a few hours later. Garlic, onion and gluten are probably my worst offenders at the moment, so you can kiiiiiiinda see why this delectable cuisine is a tough nut. And yes, I have had many people point out to me how depressing it is. I am well aware, thks. 

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I have always loved involtini, and my Mum makes it on a semi regular basis. I decided to revamp her recipe, with a few FODMAP friendlier additions and subtractions, provided you can eat some dairy. I miss garlic like the deserts miss the rain, but right now I also like feeling like the end is not nigh. You, however, can add some garlic if you're not a vampire like me. 

SIDE NOTE: I do apologise for the repetitive photos, I lifted a small side table prior to shooting the involtini, and wound up on the floor with a $200 chiropractic bill. Note to self: get fitter. Or just fit. 

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INGREDIENTS

4 medium sized eggplants (the weight of mine totalled 1.3kg with the stems removed)
1kg good quality ricotta (not the watery stuff in plastic containers, at LEAST go to the Deli at the supermarket)
100g freshly grated good quality parmesan (plus extra, to sprinkle on top)
1 bunch of basil
1 bunch of sage
generous salt and pepper
2 tablespoons olive oil
2 tablespoons Persian feta (optional but delicious, one can never have too many cheeses/Danish feta would be a good substitute) 
300g heirloom tomatoes (they don't actually need to be heirloom but they were on sale and all I could see were dollar savings and aesthetic bonuses)

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METHOD

1) Slice your eggplant into into about 1-2cm slices, and arrange them in a large bowl. Sprinkle them extremely liberally with table salt, and set aside for 15-20 minutes. The salt will encourage them to sweat out excess moisture.
2) Preheat your oven to 180 degrees Celsius, and pop some baking paper on a tray, along with your tomatoes, a spray of olive oil and some sea salt. Turn the timer on for 30 minutes. 
3) In a large bowl, combine the ricotta, parmesan, Persian fetta (if you're using it) generous salt and pepper, 2 tablespoons of olive oil, and herbs (reserving a few for the top if you plan to Instagram it later) and mix well. 
4) Dry off your eggplant slices. You have two options here, depending on the kitchen utensils available to you. I cooked my eggplant slices in a sandwich press, which is fabulous because it cooks it perfectly, you can walk off and procrastinate, and you barely have to use any oil. You can easily cook them in a pan, but they drink up oil like I drink G&T's on a Friday night. Excessively. 
5) Once you have cooked all your eggplant slices and let them cool, begin to stuff them with the ricotta mixture. There is loads of ricotta mixture so pls stuff them as much as you can. Although eating the ricotta mixture on it's own is kind of delicious. Arrange the stuffed and rolled involtini in a large baking dish as you roll them, making sure they're snuggled up and close to eachother.
6) Once the involtini are sorted, squash up your tomatoes a little bit, and lay them on top. You can use tinned tomatoes if you really want to, but I have a strong aversion to them and always will.
7) Top with extra grated fresh parmesan and pop in the oven for about half an hour, or until golden. Top with extra herbs and ur done. 
 

A weekend away with Tourism Victoria

A few weeks ago now, I was lucky enough to spend a weekend travelling around some of the regional towns of Victoria, as part of the Wander Victoria campaign, a government initiative to encourage more Melbournians to get out there and see more of our state. I will fully admit that I hadn't set the bar overly high - as someone with dietary requirements, my experience of eating in regional towns hasn't always been that great. Cut to memories of me eating three days worth of potato chips and cheese in regional France. 

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However, as is always the case, I was most pleasantly surprised by the foodie and creative delights that exist under two hours drive away from Melbourne. Which I guess is the aim of the campaign. Lucky I don't work in marketing really. 

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In Kyneton, our first stop was Source Dining. I was particularly excited because I had heard great things, and I wasn't disappointed one bit. The food is locally sourced (as the name may suggest to you, astute readers) and the care put into each dish does not go unnoticed.  

Zucchini flower risotto at Source Dining

Zucchini flower risotto at Source Dining

I have to say that Daylesford was my favourite of all the places we visited on our roadtrip. The town itself had just the right amount of bustle and things to do, while still being charming and country. We stayed at Frangos and Frangos in the centre of town, which was perfect and allowed us to have multiple cocktails at Belvedere social next door, without truly leaving the hotel. My idea of a good time.

Dessert at Sault restaurant, Daylesford

Dessert at Sault restaurant, Daylesford

Lake views at Sault, Daylesford

Lake views at Sault, Daylesford

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Morning caffeine hit/dog patting at Larder, Daylesford

Morning caffeine hit/dog patting at Larder, Daylesford

Breakfast at Larder, Daylesford

Breakfast at Larder, Daylesford

Hotel Frango

Hotel Frango

Florian tomatoes, basil, burrata and a black olive crumb at Lakehouse Daylesford

Florian tomatoes, basil, burrata and a black olive crumb at Lakehouse Daylesford

Heirloom beetroot and goats cheese salad at Lakehouse Daylesford

Heirloom beetroot and goats cheese salad at Lakehouse Daylesford

Banana, peanut butter and black sesame dessert at Lakehouse Daylesford

Banana, peanut butter and black sesame dessert at Lakehouse Daylesford

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Happy hour at Belvedere Social, Daylesford

Happy hour at Belvedere Social, Daylesford

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Cute little shops in Daylesford

Cute little shops in Daylesford

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Two lovers having a moment

Two lovers having a moment

Vegetarian offerings at Belvedere Social, Daylesford

Vegetarian offerings at Belvedere Social, Daylesford

No such thing as too many espresso martinis

No such thing as too many espresso martinis

Iced lattes and treats at Vegas and Rose, Ballarat

Iced lattes and treats at Vegas and Rose, Ballarat

Gluten free and vegan biscuits at Vegas and Rose

Gluten free and vegan biscuits at Vegas and Rose

Websters Market and Cafe

Websters Market and Cafe

A whirlwind trip of eating with a gorgeous girlfriend, what more could you ask for? 

Herby goats cheese pasta with fresh peas

It feels as though, all of a sudden, an autumnal change has finally hit Melbourne. For a while there, the only difference past the official 'end of summer' date was the gradual but noticeable decline of daylight hours (don't leave me! I can't photograph dinner without you!) but now I think autumn has truly sprung. 

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There are a lot of things I like about autumn, but the main two things are of extreme importance. 1) That I can sleep through the night without waking up a sweaty mess, entangled in my winter doona I was unable to let go of, and 2) that I can wear jeans, loose shirts and jackets, hiding all the pasta smothered in cheese that I choose to consume. This, in case you hadn't guessed by the sheer eloquence of it, is my segue way into this pasta recipe. 

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INGREDIENTS

1 packet of gluten free spaghetti pasta (doesn't need to be gluten free if you don't need it to be)
150g goats cheese
80g parmesan, freshly grated
1/4 cup milk or water to loosen (you can omit for a more pesto like sauce)
1/2 lemon, zested and juiced
generous sea salt and pepper
1 bunch of basil
1 bunch of mint
1/2 cup fresh peas

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METHOD

1. In the blender, process the herbs, goats cheese, parmesan, milk (or water) lemon juice and zest, and salt and pepper. If you like a thicker more pesto like sauce, omit the water/milk. Leave it on for about five minutes, or until a green pesto like sauce has formed. 
2. Bring a large pot of water to the boil and salt it generously. Once it has boiled, add your packet of spaghetti, and stir to break it up. Make sure you stir it intermittently throughout the cooking time, or else you will likely end up with singular spaghetto. 
3. In a smaller pot, place the peas and some lightly salted water over a medium heat, and cook for about five to ten minutes, or until the peas are bright green. Remove them from the heat and run some cold water over them.
4. Assembly time! Simply pour the sauce over the spaghetti, divide between four bowls, and top with peas and some leftover herbs, if you have any. Also extra parmesan, because parmesan. 

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Gluten free, grain free chocolate and banana not crossed buns

I don't post about it too extensively on Instagram (nobody likes a medical whinge, except for the person whingeing) but I have been dealing with progressively worsening digestive symptoms since the inception of Georgeats. What was a mild case of upsets, headaches and the like has gradually morphed into constant and intense nausea, lethargy, bloating (et al) and a highly restricted list of foods that don't exacerbate said symptoms. 

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Working to that list has been helpful enough in minimising my symptoms, but not so great in living a social and generally exciting life/maintaining a food blog. One meal/liquid meal (wink wink) can set me up for a couple of days of not fun times, which is really not helpful when I work from home and my bed is so close and inviting and I'm exhausted with a pounding headache..

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Given that it's easter, though, and hot cross buns are so good, I have decided that I am unwilling to sit out, potentially doubling my diet related misery. No thanks. These hot cross buns are grain free (something I have found to be quite helpful at the moment) gluten free, and only have a little bit of sweetener added. They are also a bang on substitute for the real thing, bar the cross on the top. Can we speak briefly about the cross? Because mostly it's just flour and water? I understand the religious significance, but when I'm making them at home, I see no point in adding more of what makes me sick in the first place. Go ahead and add them if you need, but a bit like ugly veg, they still taste the same going down. Soz but not. 

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INGREDIENTS

1 large ripe banana
50g butter
2 tablespoons maple syrup
2 1/2 cups almond meal
1 heaped tablespoon good quality mixed spice (I get mine from Source Bulk Foods) 
1/2 cup good quality dark chocolate chips (again, got mine from Source)
1 large egg
1 teaspoon vanilla bean paste
1 teaspoon baking soda
2 teaspoons apple cider vinegar
1 teaspoon psyllium husk 

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METHOD

1. Preheat your oven to 180 degrees Celsius.
2. In a small saucepan, mash your banana (if it's frozen let it thaw a little in the pan and then mash it, works equally as well) and add the butter. Melt over a low heat, until the banana is cooked and smells delicious. Add the sea salt (I used celtic salt because I am an A grade wanker) vanilla bean paste, and maple syrup, and take off the heat. Set aside and allow to cool. 
3. In a large bowl, mix the almond meal, mixed spice and pysllium husk. Once the banana mixture has cooled, add it to the almond meal and stir thoroughly. Add the egg and repeat.
4. Pop in your baking soda and apple cider vinegar, and stir through. Finally (making sure the mixture is cool so they don't melt) add your chocolate chips and mix through.
5. Lay down a sheet of baking paper, and divide the mixture into 8 little bins. You can make 6 bigger buns, probably closer to industry standard, but they have a high chocolate ratio and are rich due to the almond meal, so I find smaller is all you need. You can always eat two instead of one. Sit them on the baking paper next to eachother, but not tightly hugging, or they will take forever to cook and likely burn. Trust me and my 2 'well browned' attempts. 
6. Cook for 30 minutes or until cooked through, and then remove from the oven and allow to cool a bit before inhalinh, otherwise you'll burn your mouth with melting chocolate. A bittersweet injury if there ever was one. 

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Gluten free double banana, white chocolate and chai muffins

The reality of these muffins has been a bit of a long term event for me, having first thought of the combination a solid month ago now. What I thought would be a relatively easy recipe turned into a solid five recipe tests, Generally speaking, I love to nail it in two shots, so five was getting to the point of desperation/a few sneaky frustrated tears/throwing them into the garden in a rage and forgetting I had ever attempted them. I'm glad I persisted. 

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These muffins are a happy medium between kale and croque monsieurs. They do indeed have sugar (thanks white chocolate) and butter (thank me later) but I've also kept the other components pretty chill, using refined sugar free things like maple syrup and naturally dried bananas. You may pass them off to your yoga and wine bar friends alike.

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INGREDIENTS

2 large ripe bananas
100g dried bananas (not banana chips)
100g Lindt white chocolate pieces
100g butter
1/4 cup milk
3 tablespoons maple syrup
1 egg
2 tablespoons chai tea mix
6 tablespoons water
1 1/2 cups almond meal
3/4 cup potato flour
2 star anise
1 teaspoon cardamom powder
1 cinnamon stick
1 vanilla bean, scraped
1 teaspoon baking powder
2 teaspoons apple cider vinegar
 

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METHOD

1. Preheat the oven to 180 degrees Celsius.
2. In a small saucepan, melt the butter on a gentle heat. Once it has melted, add the spices, vanilla bean and the cinnamon stick, and continue to cook gently over a low-medium heat. After five or so minutes, add the chopped dried banana, and cook for about ten minutes, or until it is soft and has absorbed some of the butter. 
3. While this is happen, place the 2 tablespoons of chai in a strainer in a shallow bowl, and cover with the 6 tablespoons of boiling water. Leave for 10 or so minutes.
4. In a large bowl, combine the potato flour and the almond meal. Just for something to do while everything else is doing it's thing.
5. Smash your ripened banana, and add it to the butter mix. If you are using frozen bananas this also works well as it is an opportunity to thaw said bananas. 
6. Add the butter mixture to the flour, along with the milk, maple syrup and egg. Stir thoroughly.
7. Add the baking powder and apple cider vinegar, and mix through the bubbles once they start to subside. Finally, add your chopped white chocolate chips, and stir them gently through.
8. Spray your muffin pans with olive oil spray, and divide the mixture evenly between them. This recipe makes 6 jumbo Texas sized muffins.
9. Top with extra pieces of dried banana and white chocolate, and pop in the oven for around 20 minutes, or until firm and golden. Delish served with a bit of coconut yoghurt and fruit. 

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Gluten free carrot and dill fritters with a blue cheese sauce

I really love cheese. I'm sure you have figured this out by now. I post about it practically every day on Instagram, and I eat it every day without fail. This seems to be common knowledge amongst the people in my life, so much so that I was tagged multiple times in a meme that read 'cheese is the glue that holds my life together.' I'm #blessed to have friends who know me on this level, because it truly is my glue.

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Recently I was invited to the Australian Grand Dairy awards, showcasing award winning dairy (read: cheese) from Australian producers. I did listen to the wonderful presenter, the vivacious Alice In Frames, but mostly, and most importantly, I ate cheese. Because I ate a BEETROOT AND GOATS CURD MACARON, and could not stop raving about it to anyone I saw in the following days, I've included a few visuals of said macaron so you can be as awestruck as I was. 

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The recipe for these fritters was based around the creamy delicious award winning blue cheese, King Island Triple Cream (you can find it in the specialty deli section of the supermarket in Australia) but you can use whatever brand of blue you fancy. There is no such thing as bad blue cheese, after all. Or any cheese. I love cheese. 

INGREDIENTS

250g grated carrot (about 3 medium carrots)
roughly 100g extra grated carrot (1 medium)
1 teaspoon table salt
3-4 tablespoons finely chopped dill
3/4 cup almond meal
3/4 cup potato flour
2 eggs
generous pepper

50g blue cheese
2 tablespoons milk or cream

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METHOD

1. In a large bowl, combine the 250g grated carrot (reserving the rough 100g extra for the end) and the salt, and rub together well. The carrot will start to release some moisture.
2. Add the almond meal and potato flour to the bowl, and mix until every is evenly combined. Add the dill and pepper, stirring well, and then add the eggs. After everything is combined, set the mixture aside for 10 or so minutes. 
3. The mixture should have moistened up in it's down time, so add the last 100g of grated carrot and stir through. Heat a saucepan to a low medium heat, and spray well with olive oil. I found spray worked best here, you might have better non stick appliances tho. 
4. Using your hands, mould small fritters out of the mixture and place gently into the pan. You should get around 10 fritters from the batter, depending on how big you want them.
5. Cook the fritters for around 2 or 3 minutes, and then gently flip them over. Once you can see that the sides of the fritter are cooked, remove them from the pan, and repeat. Serve them smothered in blue cheese sauce, because the words 'smothered' and 'blue cheese sauce' are meant to go together. 

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Grilled nectarine, basil and mozzarella salad with an orange espresso dressing

A fact you most probably know about me if you follow along with my Instagram pursuits: I love coffee. I would in fact go as far as to say that I am a coffee snob. While I acquiesced quite quickly to the world of Pret A Manger whilst in England, I would rather walk in the rain with freshly washed and straightened hair and a thin white t-shirt then have a bad coffee in Melbourne.  

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While I don't (yet) own my own coffee machine, I am lucky to live in a suburb of Melbourne that has a wealth of great coffee on every corner. So much so, that my new years resolution (what is my life?) is to try a new coffee place every morning on my walk.  The second part of that resolution is to start going for morning walks. 

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At my parents' house, I rely heavily on my Dad's coffee machine, and his love of good coffee. Sometimes I even take a shot back to the city with me, to avoid that hazy fumble around for caffeine that I currently experience sans a machine of my own. Dad may or may not know this. Thanks Dad. 

In any case, I thought an ideal way of combining my own new years resolution with those of the average person (eat salad etc etc) was to make a salad with a coffee related dressing. Plus, if you can't get yourself excited about eating salad, the dressing itself should give you a bit of a buzz. Come at me 2016. 

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INGREDIENTS

4 large nectarines, sliced
1 ball of Buffalo Mozzarella (200g ish) or burrata, torn gently
Handful of basil, torn (gently if you wish) 

1 double shot freshly brewed espresso
1 tablespoon white wine vinegar
1 teaspoon dark brown sugar
1/2 teaspoon grated orange zest
squeeze of fresh orange juice, to finish

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METHOD

1. Spray a grilled pan with olive oil, and turn on to a medium heat. Arrange the slices of nectarine in the pan, ensuring you don't move them once they go in. After about two minutes (judge timing by the amount of sizzling, general burnt smell etc) flip them over, and repeat until all the nectarine is done. Set aside.
2. In a small bowl, combine the ingredients for the dressing, and set aside to allow the orange zest to disperse it's oil.
3. Arrange the nectarine, mozzarella and basil on a large plate, and pour over the espresso dressing. Finish with seasoning and a quick squeeze of orange juice.