Cook this: (Almost) paleo granola

On my naturopath’s advice, I gave up grains for a few weeks to help reset my tummy lining. The only thing I really missed was my morning bowls of porridge and muesli; I need my oats!

Because I eat breaky at work every morning, poached eggs and sautéed veggies every morning wasn’t a realistic option, so I needed something else… something easy to prepare in advance and easy to take to work.

Enter paleo granola. Basically, a whole lot of nuts and seeds, toasted and ready to top my green smoothie bowl. Over the last few weeks I’ve become hooked on it, so now that I can reintroduce some grains back into my diet, I’ve decided to stick with it, but just add some oats to the mix. And it’s pretty delicious!

Ingredients:
– juice & zest of 1 orange
– 1 tbsp maple syrup
– 1 cup mixed sunflower & pepita seeds
– 1 cup shredded coconut
– 4 tbsp chia seeds
– ½ cup rolled oats (leave these out if you want a proper paleo mix)
– ½ cup crushed walnuts
– ½ cup slivered almonds
– ½ cup chopped dates

 

Method:
1. Preheat the oven to 180°C and line an oven tray with baking paper.

2. Combine the orange juice, zest and maple syrup in a small bowl, and set aside.

3. Combine the remaining ingredients in a large mixing bowl, then stir through the orange juice.

4. Pour the mixture onto the tray and spread it out. Bake for about 20 – 25min or until golden; stir the mixture around every 5min or so to ensure it bakes evenly.

5. Once completely cooled, store in an air tight container up to 2 weeks

Eat here: Sookie La La, Melbourne V.2

Sookie La La
593 High St, Northcote
http://www.sookielaladiner.com.au/

It’s hard to believe it was September 2015 when I first visited and blogged about this place… since then, it’s become our favourite Sunday breakfast nook and feels like a second home 🙂

Almost 18 months since that first visit, nothing about Sookie La La is slipping. The service is wonderful, prompt, and most importantly, welcoming and friendly. The booths are perfect – your own private little breakfast nooks. And the standard of the food is still top notch – it’s simple, homely, comforting food that makes you feel like you’re in a favourite aunt’s home.

Husband’s new favourite thing in the world is their fried chicken on waffles. You can probably see why. But tasting it is another story – the waffles are soft and fluffy, and the chicken is perfectly white and tender on the inside, with the perfect crunch on the outside. We’ve eaten a bit of fried chicken, but Sookie La La’s is both of our favourite.

I went with the reuben sandwich, the towering king of bread and corned beef and sauerkraut and pickles and cheese and Russian dressing. This is a proper sandwich. For breakfast or lunch, it’s just magic.

After a long week, when we roll up to their glass front door on a Sunday morning and slide into one of the beautiful wooden booths, it really feels like home. We both seem to sigh in relief as we sit down to a hot pot of strong tea for me and a chocolatey coffee for the husband, always brought over by the ever-smiling lady of the house, and we know that no matter what we order, it’s going to be delicious. We’ve spent many hours planning our #👫WorldTour there. Talking about our weeks at work. Mulling over problems that need solving. Discussing our plans for the future and remembering all of the good and bad from the past. We eventually look out at the street through the shuttered windows with the Sunday morning light streaming in, and reluctantly slide out of our booth to get on with the day. Always knowing we’ll be back soon 🙂

Sookie La La Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato

Eat here: The Old Milk Bar Cafe, Thornbury

The Old Milk Bar Cafe
144 Dundas St, Thornbury

Back in Melbourne and back to weekend brunches! And don’t I feel just a bit silly not having visited this place sooner… We’ve been living a stone’s throw from the Old Milk Bar Cafe for a few years, now, and it’s one of those places that’s been on my radar but I just haven’t gotten around to visiting.

We finally made it to the sweet, little, old milk bar converted into a cafe over the weekend. High Street in Thornbury is getting to be a pretty popular location for cafes, but this one’s tucked off the main drag. If you don’t know about it, you’re not likely to stumble upon it, and that was instantly obvious – staff were greeting a lot of customers by name, which was really lovely to see 🙂

I adored the space itself – little touches like the old THE AGE sign on the wall under the kitchen were the perfect throw back to the old days. While the inside of the cafe isn’t enormous (with seating for around 8 on small tables and one larger communal table that seats another 8 or so), the outside patio seating was pretty spacious. And the menu looked great! Husband’s choice was made quickly; he went with the smashed avo – 2 slices of toast with an absolute mountain of smashed avocado, goats curd, and a panko crumbed egg on top. He gave big points for the amount of avocado and how perfectly oozy the egg yolk was, but was a little sad the panko crumbs didn’t stay crunchy.

My choice was even easier again – lemon lime ricotta hotcakes with blueberries. Yes, please!! These were hands down the lightest, fluffiest, most delicious hot cakes I’ve ever had. No competition. No other was to describe it. Absolutely perfect. Swimming in the most delicious citrus curd, and plenty of juicy blueberries. I was told these were a new addition to the menu, and I hope they stay on the menu – I’ll be back for them again. They were magic.

Vietnam was a good time, but no one does brunch like Melbourne. And when places like this are making food this delicious, it’s good to be home 🙂

The Old Milkbar Cafe Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato

Cook this: Cacao, puffed quinoa & pistachio granola

I have the most ridiculous accumulation of cookbooks at home, and at one point had started to hoard magazines, as well.

When I realised how out of control it was getting, I decided to consolidate all of my favourite recipes from my magazines into smaller collections; I went out and bought a few large spiral notebooks and went through my magazines, cutting out the recipes I actually liked and thought I’d cook. I stuck them into the notebooks, and they now sit in a nice, neat little pile on my bookshelf.


I go through them every few weeks to find inspiration and ideas I’d forgotten I’d collected, and found some new breaky inspiration in one of my books last week; a Donna Hay granola recipe, using puffed quinoa, which I’ve been wanting to try adding to my breakfast oats for a while now.

I made a few changes to suit my tastes and pantry supplies, and ended up with an incredible mix, and the perfect way to enjoy a chocolatey breakfast without the extra sugar and calories – happy!

 

Ingredients: (makes 1 large jar)
– 1/4 cup cacao powder
– 1 tbsp brown sugar
– 6 tbsp water
– 2 cups puffed quinoa
– 2 cups rolled oats
– 100g pistachios, roughly chopped
– 1/4 cup chia seeds
– 1/2 cup cacao nibs
– 1 cup shredded coconut

Method:
1. Pre-heat the oven to 180°C and line a large oven tray with non-stick baking paper.

2. Heat the cacao (or cocoa) powder, sugar and water in a small saucepan over low heat, gently mixing until the sugar has dissolved, then remove from the heat to cool a little.

3. While that cools, combine all of the remaining ingredients in a large mixing bowl.

4. Pour the liquid over the dry ingredients and stir thoroughly to coat and combine.

5. Spread the mixture over the oven tray, and bake for 20 – 25 minutes, mixing it around every 5 minutes or so to ensure it cooks evenly.

6. Cool completed on the tray, and store in an airtight jar or container 2 – 3 weeks.

Eat here: Gellibrand Cafe, Melbourne

Gellibrand Cafe
16 Gellibrand Cres, Reservoir
https://web.facebook.com/gellibrandcafe/?fref=nf&_rdr

They’ve been open less than a month, and I managed 2 visits in less than 24 hours – I think I’ve found my new local! Tucked away in a little suburban pocket of Reservoir, it’s not the kind of place that’s going to get crazy foot traffic, so they’re going to have to rely pretty heavily on good word of mouth. That shouldn’t be too much of a problem…

The space itself is beautiful – it’s modern and minimalist looking, but the little touches like the Globo posters behind the counter give it a bit of a throwback to the past and makes it feel more homely.

Our first visit was last Saturday afternoon; they close at 4pm, but we thought we’d try to sneak in a quick coffee/tea date around 3pm on our way out. It’s incredibly how many places get narky when you roll in an hour before closing on a Saturday afternoon, so we braced ourselves for an icy reception. Which was completely unnecessary; we were welcomed with smiles and open arms. Massive points there, because another similar cafe in the area is quite the opposite when you arrive within 90 minutes of closing time.

We asked for tea, coffee and donuts, and while we sat waiting for them, we picked up on seriously happy vibes. The staff were laughing and joking around with each other, they were happy to chat with us instead of ignoring us, and it felt more and more like hanging out at a friend’s or extended family member’ place rather than a shiny new cafe.

Oh, and they stock Doughboys Doughnuts, which makes me very happy, because I love them!! Husband loved his coffee, my tea was hot and brewed just right, and the doughnuts were magic. Salted caramel that was properly salty and sugary, and a gorgeous little key lime number filled with lime curd and a toasted meringue hat. Perfect afternoon tea. Also, as the clock ticked closer to 4pm, more big points for not starting to turn off light and clean around our feet – sorry our timing was crap, guys, but thank you for not making us feel like a total inconvenience!! We decided then and there that we’d return for breakfast the next morning.

And so we did. Sunday morning rolled around, and we turned back up to Gellibrand again. A pretty simple menu with plenty of options to keep everyone happy, husband went straight for the smashed avo with chilli on toast, with a poached egg and bacon on the side. He’s fussy with anything that claims to have chilli in it (his tolerance levels are bordering on unnatural), so he was a pretty happy camper when his avocado came out with actual pieces of chilli mashed through it. He was even happier when he opened his egg up and found it all molten lava yolk (he’s has some sub-par over poached eggs lately). He also commended the amount of bacon.

I was hovering over the porridge, until I caught a glimpse of the specials board. There is something oddly satisfying about being able to order pancakes and ice cream for breakfast, for a few reasons:
1. When you’re a kid and you want pancakes and ice cream for breakfast, your parents laugh at you and give you cereal and fruit instead. As an adult, if you want ice cream for breakfast, you can.
2. When you’re a highly disordered eater, any time you can override the mechanism that tells you to order eggs and vegetables for breakfast and not to finish the toast, that’s a big win.

And it was a bloody good decision – they were proper, home made pancakes, not the perfect round cookie-cutter ones. They were full of blueberries, plenty of salted caramel toasted almonds, more blueberries and top, and that ice cream was the perfect side. I don’t often order pancakes because they’re such a special treat meal to me, and I don’t want to waste a special treat breaky on crappy pancakes, but these were exactly what I felt like – hope they make their way back onto the specials board again!

I’m feeling really fortunate to be living out in the northern suburbs these days; back when I was a kid, Preston and Reservoir weren’t the nicest areas. Now, as the suburbs next in line for gentrification after Northcote and Thornbury, they’re starting to become prime locations. I just hope that the new places opening up keep the friendly neighbourhood attitudes and a few little throwbacks to the past, like Gellibrand have. See you again soon, guys 🙂

 

Gellibrand Cafe Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato

Cook this: Matcha & white chocolate muffins

I saw this recipe a few weeks ago on Matchaeologist’s Instagram page, and like so many others, saved it for later. I decided to make them (with a few small changes) for my turn of Wednesday Morning Breakfast Club last week, and they were delicious! I love the combination of matcha and white chocolate, and these make a nice change from the standard choc chip muffin, especially for a special breakfast with some fresh strawberries 🙂

image

Ingredients (makes 12 small muffins):
– 1¼ cups plain flour
– 1 tsp baking powder
– 2 tsp matcha powder
– ½ cup white chocolate chips
– pinch of salt
– ⅓ cup caster sugar
– ⅓ cup vegetable oil, coconut oil, or melted butter
– ¾ cup warm milk (I used almond milk, which work really well)
– 1 tbsp white vinegar

Method:
1. Pre-heat the oven to 180°C and line a 12-hole muffin tray with cupcake cases.

2. Combine the flour, baking powder, matcha powder, choc chips and salt in a bowl, and set aside.

3. In a larger bowl, whisk together the sugar, oil, milk and vinegar, until completely combined.

4. Add the dry ingredients into the wet, bit by bit, gently mixing with a wooden spoon as you go until it all comes together to a smooth batter.

5. Spoon the batter into the cases and bake 20 – 25 minutes, until just browned on top/they pass the skewer test.

6. Cool in tins, and enjoy!

img_8422

As you can see, mine came out quite dark, because the matcha powder I used was a darker colour. The type of matcha you use will affect the muffin colour – it won’t taste any different, just something to be aware of!

 

Eat here: Sartoria, Melbourne

Sartoria
115 Plenty Rd, Preston
http://www.sartoria.com.au/

Sartoria was once a successful dressmaking, bridal and evening wear business from the 70’s through the 90’s created by J & C Agricola. In modern day, the whole space has been transformed into a friendly, warm light filled café and eatery adorned with machinery and novelties straight from it’s dress factory days.

Walking into this place last weekend gave me the biggest hit of nostaglia. My mum’s parents were both sartorialists; Nonna a dress maker and Nonno a tailor. I used to spend a lot of school holidays at their house, sitting with Nonna in her sewing room, watching her work. I would go with her to her friend’s houses while she measured them up for their next new outfit. She taught me to sew by hand (and knit), how to cut patterns from fabric, how to pin and stitch and hem and sew on buttons. I used to stitch together little outfits for my dolls and sisters, design dresses on Nonna’s scrap graph paper, and spend hours flicking through Nonna’s old fashion magazines from Italy. With all the beautiful old Singer desks and machines, Sartoria felt just like home.

The space inside is enormous, with ample seating and room to move. The little touches like the glass bowls filled with buttons and beads, and the fashionista slide show beaming through a projector make a place like this, and they’ve done really well on that side of things.

When it came to the food, the menu reads brilliantly, however I’ve heard lots of mixed reviews. While we mulled over our options, we started with tea (from Storm in a Teacup) for me and coffee (from Where’s Marcel?) for husband – both delicious and brought out quickly, great start.

I especially loved the little timer that came out with my tea, and the beautiful tea cup it as served with – again, little things that make a big difference.

We finally decided on food; husband went with The Machinist ($19.80): crispy pork hock, crumbed black pudding, romesco salsa, poached eggs and crostino. While the pork hock didn’t look like much being compressed into soldiers, once he started pulling it apart, there was suddenly a whole lot more. And it was good. The black pudding, he described as a “ball of flavour,” He said it was comfortably the best thing on the plate, and he’d go back again just to eat that. Unfortunately, though, his poached eggs were overcooked and the yolks were set inside, so no runny, gooey egg yolk to sauce it all together. Massive let down for what was otherwise one of his favourite breakfast dishes this year.

I had a really hard time picking a dish, but was ultimately feeling something sweet, and went with The Designer ($17.50): buffalo yoghurt hotcakes with activated nuts, green tea cream, caramelised pineapple and salted kaya. First up, I had to question the mention of activated nuts on the menu, because there were barely any on there! Other than that, though, I couldn’t fault the dish – the buffalo yoghurt made the hotcakes super moist, surprisingly fluffy and not overly sweet, they were perfectly cooked through, and the green tea cream generously plonked on top was delicious. I loooooved the caramelised pineapple as well as the bits of fresh fruit; this is the kind of breakfast I love going out for and treating myself to!

Overall, I think my hesitations were very much unfounded – while the over-done eggs were a big disappointment, we both agreed they got a lot more right than they got wrong, and we’re both already looking forward to our next visit. My only regret is that Nonna Gemma isn’t still around, because I think she’d have absolutely loved Sartoria 🙂

 

Sartoria Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato