Sumac Szechuan Calamari

I’m really fussy about seafood. The long and the short of it is I don’t like it. But somewhere in the middle I like calamari and sashimi. Seriously, I love raw salmon, but as soon as you cook it, you’ve lost me.

I’m hoping that living in Portugal will change my mind about fish because it is a good source of protein and omega 3, but for now I’ll stick to sashimi and calamari.

So I don’t eat a lot of seafood and I know it is also a really good source of B12, so here is my version of calamari. This is a party on your taste buds! Taking some citrusy spices from the East and the Middle East brings a new twist on the classic lemon pepper calamari.

We tried the sumac and Szechuan pepper combo and the spices by themselves. We both liked the combo best, my second favourite was sumac by itself and K’s was Szechuan.

I reckon this would be the best calamari you’ve every had

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Sweet Potato Chips

Oh I’ve missed you all! I’m sorry for my hiatus from theLAB, I had a surprise assessment at university and then a very busy week. But I’m back and hopefully I’ll be able to post again more frequently.

I have so many delicious ideas I want to share. I’ve made tasty calamari, fruit buns and surprise ingredient chocolate cake! I can’t wait to post these for you.

Today is a little quick recipe to get back into the swing of posting.

If you’ve never had sweet potato chips, I implore you to rush out and buy sweet potato now to make them! They are so much tastier than normal potato and super tasty with sweet chilli sauce and sour cream.

Best chips ever? Quite possibly

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Baked Savoury Beetroot Leaf and Ricotta Pie

I went to the markets the other day and found an amazing bunch of beetroot with the most spectacular leaves on top. I eagerly purchased the bunch as I love beetroot leaves and I was horrified when the stall holder offered to remove the leaves to help me fit the beetroot into my bag. I gave her a shocked look and loudly proclaimed, “they’re the best bit!”

I was planning on cooking them in my usual favourite way, fried in a bit of butter with onion and breadcrumbs, but while I was out on a run my brain started to combine some things in the fridge in my head which created this dish and I was stoked with how well it turned out.

This dish is high in protein, low in fat, full of vegies, low in carbs and best of all it was super tasty! I think that this is a great dinner for people watching what they eat, and also for families with kids. Wouldn’t the kids love a slice of pink polka-dotted baked cheese? Just don’t tell them how healthy it is, or your husband for that matter. K and I really enjoyed it over 4 days, it keeps well and it still tasted just as good on the last day.

Healthy and delicious, what more could you want? Oh, I know, full of pretty pink polka-dots!

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Paprika and Lemon Myrtle Rub

Because the doctor has me on a mission to eat more vitamin B12 and iron I am on a mission to disguise meat with other flavours. As you may already be aware, I really love paprika and onion to make things tasty (see Egg White Omelette that wasn’t gross) and lemon goes great with everything so that is the basic idea behind the Paprika and Lemon Myrtle Rub.

For those who have never heard of lemon myrtle is a plant native to Queensland, Australia that is used as a herb in cooking. It has a delicate, but strong lemon flavour a little like lemongrass. It is absolutely scrumptious in shortbread and cookies but here I have used it in a savoury dish in which it was great. If you can’t get lemon myrtle (don’t be surprised if you can’t), just add some lemon juice to the mix.

I used this rub on both steak and kangaroo (yes, something of an Aussie theme today) and it would also be good on tempeh, chicken or tofu. Although the flavour combination is quite Portuguese (my soon to be home?) with paprika, lemon and garlic, it has a distinctly Australian flare

I think spices are so pretty

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Classic Pretzels

There are so many mysterious foods out there that are actually pretty easy to make. So it’s my mission to lift the lid on foods that we no longer bother to make at home but they’re really pretty easy.

It’s strange that so many of the popular cooking competition shows are encouraging people to take on fancy foods like sea scallops, duck confit, and other expensive time consuming dishes, but they haven’t got people making yoghurt, cottage cheese, fruit scrolls and pretzels. These foods are easy to make, tasty and really fun to learn how your favourite foods are made.

I love a fresh, soft pretzel. To be honest I love bread and salty foods, so pretzels are right up my alley. But in Australia they’re pretty expensive for what is little more than a tasty bread roll. The day I made 8 fresh, hot, soft salty pretzels for about 3 dollars I saw pretzels at the market for 3 dollars each!

I made pretzels because I was going to an afternoon of board games and beer, and I thought what goes better with beer than pretzels? Possibly nothing, but I have some crazy ideas that are twists on the classic pretzel I will be experimenting with over the next couple of months, so expect to see more pretzels. But for now, I give you the classic pretzel…

Now for board games and beer

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Homemade Almond Butter

Nut butters are a way to add heaps of nutrients and flavour to oatmeal, or on toast, or maybe even straight from a spoon…

The problem is that nut butters other than peanut can be super expensive and really they’re just blended nuts – so let’s try making it ourselves!

Just be mindful, nut butters are addictively delicious and although full of nutrients, protein and unsaturated fats, that does make them high in calories, so just use a little to add something extra to your next bowl of oatmeal.

Get a bit of almond butter into your life.

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3 Orange Baked Apple and Rhubarb

Brisbane is experiencing an unseasonably rainy July. Brisbane winters are usually dry, with cool nights and warm sunny days. We have blue skies that reach from one end of sky to the other. But not this year, it has rained and rained and rained.

So it’s an easy time to eat too much comfort food that is just no good. If you are after a warming dessert without lots of hollow calories, try this baked fruit which is full of nutrients without fat and is modest on the waist line. It would also be great at breakfast on muesli or yoghurt.

I prepared this one night and then it sat in the fridge overnight, this really helped all the flavours combine and deepen. If you have the time I would recommend letting it sit at least a couple of hours, but preferably closer to 24 hours.

You could also use other fruits like peaches and plums in summer, or pears or quince, just adjust the cooking time depending on the fruit. And I know I said three orange, and it’s only two, but using the rind and the juice gives it two different orange flavours and then the Cointreau adds even more orange oomph.

Nature gives us great flavours, so use them!

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