The Capital Cookbook

We’ve been pretty quiet on this blog this year… its been a super busy year for both of us travelling all over the place for work and busy photographing lots of exciting new things.  I was lucky enough to get to photograph the food for The Capital Cookbook II a few months ago and I had such a great time doing it that it didn’t feel like work.  The book features the recipes of Canberra’s top chefs and so I spent the good part of a month going around to the best restaurants in Canberra photographing amazing dish after amazing dish… and sometimes taste testing them afterwards too!:) The book also features landscape photographs from around Canberra by Stefan Posthuma-Grbic from Quicksand Publishing (and also my awesome sidekick at all of the food shoots). You should be seeing The Capital Cookbook in all good bookstores and national landmark gift shops all around Canberra from this week onwards.

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Healthier Banana Bread

We love banana bread (especially Tess)!   The trouble is that most banana bread that you find in cafes are loaded in sugar and butter, and whilst it’s oh so delicious, if we can avoid it we probably should. Our version of banana bread uses almond meal instead of flour and honey or maple syrup instead of sugar. Sure honey and maple syrup are almost pure sugar but they come from natural sources, are not processed and are loaded in anti-oxidants that help strengthen your body’s immune system. In fact in ancient Egypt they used honey as an antibiotic because of its ability to starve off infection and kill bacteria!

 

Healthier Banana Bread

Ingredients:

  • 3 medium ripened bananas, mashed
  • 3 eggs
  • 1 x tsp. vanilla essence
  • 2 x tbsp. honey (or pure maple syrup if preferred)
  • ¼ cup macadamia oil
  • 2 cups of almond meal (buy your own almonds & blend them in a food processor, so much cheaper!)
  • ½ tsp. baking soda mixed with 1 tbsp. lemon juice (it will foam up when combined)
  • Sprinkle of cinnamon
  • ¼ cup ground flax seed (or buy it whole and blend it yourself if you have a good blender)
  • 2 tbs. unsweetened shredded coconut
  • ½ cup pitted dates, chopped
  • ¼ cup pecans for top of the bread

Method:

1. Preheat your oven to 170 deg cel (not fan forced).

2. Mix the mashed bananas, eggs, honey, vanilla essence, macadamia oil together until combined.

3. In a separate bowl mix the almond meal, cinnamon, flaxseed, shredded coconut and dates together.  Then add the banana mixture and baking soda & lemon juice to this bowl and mix well until combined.

4. Pour the mixture into a loaf tin (any shaped tin will do, entirely your choice!), sprinkle the pecans on top and pop it in the oven for 45 mins. Then turn off the oven and leave to sit for about another 10 mins or until you can poke it with a skewer and no mixture is left on it when pulled out.

5.Then slice it up lather it in honey and enjoy piping hot! The beauty of this recipe is that it can easily be altered depending on your dietary requirements for example you can omit the nuts or swap the oil for coconut or olive oil.

Just experiment… and make some mistakes until you get it right like we have over the years.

enjoy!

Sean + Tess

 

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Rice Paper Rolls with Satay Dipping Sauce

Following on from our previous post about all the amazing food we experienced on our recent trip around Asia we’ve decided to share our own version of one of our favourite foods we ate a lot of in Vietnam… rice paper rolls.  If you haven’t made these before then you will be surprised at how simple and quick they are to make.  They make the perfect little entree or make a whole bunch of them to enjoy as a light main meal or to share with a crowd.  Scroll down for the recipe…

Rice Paper Rolls

Ingredients

  • 8 rice papers (found in the Asian cooking section of pretty much any supermarket)
  • 1 carrot, grated (or use a mandolin slicer)
  • 1 cucumber, grated (or use a mandolin slicer)
  • 24 fresh uncooked prawns, peeled
  • 1 bunch coriander, chopped roughly
  • 1 bunch mint
  • 50g vermicelli noodles
  • 1 avocado, sliced in to 8 strips

Method

1. Cook the prawns in a lightly greased frypan on the stove over medium heat.  They are ready when they change colour.

2. Place the vermicelli noodles in a bowl of boiling water until softened, then drain and leave to cool slightly.

3. Place all of the prepared ingredients nearby your workspace for easy access when making the rice paper rolls.

4. Pour boiling water in a large frypan to a depth of about 1cm.  Place one rice paper into the water until it becomes soft.  Carefully pull it out with tongs and lay it out flat on a plate.

5. In the middle of the softened rice paper place a few pieces of the the carrot and cucumber, a small portion of the noodles, 1 slice of avocado, 3 prawns, 3 mint leaves and a small handful of coriander, making sure not to overstuff!

6. Carefully fold each end of the rice paper over the edged of the filling, then roll the whole thing together from one side to the other, just as if you were rolling a burrito or felafel up!  Practice makes perfect… so don’t worry if your first couple aren’t very pretty. Many of the rice paper rolls we had in Vietnam had one open end with a few bits of stuffing hanging out… so you could leave one end open too. Set the roll aside on a dry serving platter.

7.  Repeat steps 4 to 6 until you have made all 8 rice paper rolls.

8. Serve immediately with our favourite satay dipping sauce.

 

Satay Dipping Sauce

Ingredients

  • 4 tbsp. peanut butter
  • 1/2 tsp. chilli powder (add more if you like it spicy)
  • 1/3 cup brown sugar
  • 30g butter
  • 1 tbsp. soy sauce
  • 1 cup water

Method

1. Place all of the ingredients into a small saucepan and stir on low heat on the cooktop until the ingredients is well combined and becomes a thick sauce.

2. Place sauce in a dish and serve warm spooned over the rice paper rolls.

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Our epic food adventure around Asia

As I have probably already mentioned, Tess and I love traveling. So many of our amazing experiences together have been whilst adventuring in a 3rd world country, experiencing life at its rawest moments. Moments when all the glamour and materialisation of western influence have been stripped away and all you are left with is a bare, unadulterated and sometimes shocking humanity. It is during these moments that we feel as though we are truly living life.

During Dec/Jan Tess and I traveled throughout Asia after what was close to two years without international travel (getting withdrawals!!). It had been a very busy and sometimes stressful two years for us and we both just needed to get away and experience quality time together (and of course delicious food!!). Our trip had us traipsing through a variety of climates and cultures. We commenced our journey in Phuket, Thailand, a purely beach holiday where we literally did nothing but had massages and lounged on Patong beach soaking in some sun working on ours tans! After a week we left Thailand and commenced an incredible eye-opening tour throughout Vietnam and Cambodia. We then left the toasty humid climate of South East Asia for the freezing temperatures of Nepal and India!

We travelled to five different countries with each country offering us a variety of completely different victuals for our excessive consumption! I promised myself I wouldn’t gorge but that lasted a whole of 5 minutes of stepping into a Thai street market loaded with everything from bugs, to dumplings and piping hot Pad Thais!

Each culture offered their own unique cuisine but one common factor was the dominance of fresh unprocessed and organic produce! Tess and I were in heaven. The series of photos below were taken in each country we went to (we actually took 1000s of photos!). To us, they identify not just the delicious treats we sampled but also the “rawness” of humanity, we were in countries where people celebrated life not with Ipods, laptops and fancy cars but with food, good humour and an underlying sense of patriotism and love for their country.

Below are lists of some of the foods we tried that will forever stick in our minds and be reminisced for times to come!

THAILAND

Pad Thai – fresh off a cart in a street market in the back streets of Patong.

Pancakes – smothered in honey, coconut, and chocolate off a cart in Khao San Road, Bangkok!

Coconut ice cream – off a Thai man who was pushing a cart down a random road in Bangkok, 100% legit;)and 100% delicious!

Fish cakes – fish freshly caught that day molded into balls of deliciousness coated in fresh red curry!

Vietnam

Pho’ (pronounced ferrrrrrrr) – a beefy brothy noodle soup that can be purchased anywhere for peanuts!

Rice paper rolls – filled with anything from frogs to chicken, fresh, wholesome and tasty, found commonly in the plethora of street markets.

Civet coffee – coffee beans that have passed through the digestive system of a rat like weasley looking creature. Bitter, strong but an oh so deliciously addictive black nectar!

Cambodia

Water Snake – a small snake that the locals love jamming on a skewer and roasting over a coal fire. Sounds not appealing but was surprisingly good and is something I will seek out when I return to Cambodia. Found commonly on the streets of Phnom Penh.

Tarantula (“a-ping” in Khmer) – quite possibly the most terrible thing I have ever attempted to eat. There is no sugar coating it. It is so bad that only the local tribes people of Cheung Prey, Kampong Cham Province, actually eat them! One tiny little town! The rest of Cambodia thinks they are weird for doing so but I can appreciate that because after all I too am an epic weirdo!

Amok – a sweetish curry often served inside a coconut with fish, chicken, pork or veges. Deliciously moist and fragrant!

A funny fact about a lot of Cambodian eateries is that they store very little food on premises. In order to save on costs (food wastage, refrigeration) when you place your order the chef will scoot off in his tuk tuk to the local market and buy the food fresh from the local supplier! You usually have to wait a bit longer to get your meal but it is certainly worth it, the freshness cannot be beaten!

Nepal/India

Curry – everybody knows curry but you haven’t had curry until you have been to India or Nepal! Vegetarian or meat with rice or Naan it is a soupy stewy heaven! Often a curry will be served as part of a “thali” meaning “set”. Your dish will be accompanied with yoghurts, dhals, dips, chutneys and salad or whatever else the chef comes up with!

Tandoor – this literally means anything cooked in a small cylindrical clay pot. Often cooked using this method is various types of whole meats coated in a dry marinade. Chicken tandoor was a staple of mine, nothing better than chewing on half a perfectly cooked chicken, viking style! (or Mughals in an Indian context)

I could go on forever but instead I will leave you to look at the photos taken by the beautiful Tess, my most extraordinary, tolerant, intelligent and compassionate wife!

As always have a nice day

Sean + Tess with the beautiful photos

:)

(*excuse the quality of many of the photos, many were taken with my iPhone – Tess)

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Home Made Chai Tea

Today I wanted to share one of my all time favourite things in the world… chai tea!  Chai is a spicy, sweet, milky drink from India which has grown very popular throughout the world in recent years.  I have a Chai tea every night before I go to bed and I sleep like a log! It’s a warm fuzzy drink that smells absolutely amazing and when made from scratch is even more satisfying.  If you’re not in the mood to make it from scratch I recommend Real Chai for a lovely and quick ready made blend.  For those of you that haven’t experienced the amazingness of chai tea you really need to get on this…

Tess.x

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