Do you love surprises? I do! It was with great surprise a couple of weeks ago I came home and found a big box on my verandah. Wondering what it was and who sent it, I carried it inside, quickly opened it and boxes of Kellogg’s new healthy cereal Special K Nourish were revealed. They’d been sent to me by Liquid Ideas, which is the same company that invited me to the wonderful Continental Cooking Class back in June. My husband and daughter are cereal freaks, they’re always complaining I don’t buy enough varieties or the ones they like. That night they lined the different varieties up on the kitchen bench and the taste testing began. These new cereals are a variation on the traditional Special K flakes and contain superfoods such as oats, quinoa, pepita seeds and cranberries.
Karen Martini, chef and judge on the tv show My Kitchen Rules has partnered with Special K and created some home cooked recipes inspired by the ingredients in Special K Nourish. I chose two of Karen’s recipes to feature here that I thought you’d all like. Quinoa and Beetroot Salad with Mint, Smoked Almonds, Currants and Roasted Garlic Dressing and the yummy Carrot, Coconut and Pepita Muffins with Lime Cream Cheese Icing. I also got the chance to do an interview with Karen which I’ll publish here on Thursday. In the meantime I hope you enjoy these tasty recipes that are perfect for Spring.
Photographs provided by Liquid Ideas
Recipes by Karen Martini for Kelloggs Special K Nourish
Quinoa and roasted beetroot salad with mint, smoked almonds, currants and roasted garlic dressing
Quinoa, used in South America for centuries, is the hero in this delicious salad inspired by the new Special K Nourish range. The roasted garlic dressing gives this salad a buttery, nutty flavour. The dressing works perfectly with the roasted beetroot and quinoa, while currants add just the right touch of sweetness.
150g white quinoa, washed well, 2 large beetroots, stalks trimmed, 2 tsp cumin seeds, Sea salt, Freshly ground black pepper, Extra virgin olive oil, 1 large bulb of garlic, 2 tbsp tahini, 100ml white wine vinegar, 2 sprigs fresh mint, currants, 2 tbsp currants plumped up in a little hot vinegar for 5 minutes, 1 handful smoked almonds, chopped, 100gms of fresh goats curd
Preheat your oven to 180°C. Place the beetroots on two sheets of foil, season and drizzle with oil then wrap tightly and place on a baking tray. Roast for 45 minutes or until cooked.
Drizzle the whole garlic bulb with olive oil, wrap in foil and roast alongside the beetroots for 35 minutes or until fragrant and soft.
Remove the beetroots and garlic from the oven and allow to cool while still wrapped.
Cook the quinoa in simmering water for around 8 minutes, drain and set aside at room temperature.
Slice the roasted beetroot into wedges, approximately 8 slices per beet
Combine the tahini, vinegar and 100ml of olive oil in a small measuring jug or cylindrical container. Squeeze the roasted garlic paste out of the skin and into the jug and blitz with a stick blender, adding between 60 and 100ml of water until you have a smooth and creamy dressing. Season to taste.
Spread ¾ cooked quinoa on a serving platter and top with the roasted beetroot slices. Spoon over the rest of the quinoa and then spoon over the dressing. Scatter over the currants, mint leaves, cumin seeds and smoked almonds and dollop here and there with some fresh goats curd. Lightly season with salt and pepper and serve.
Carrot, coconut and pepita muffins with lime cream cheese icing
This carrot cake muffin is inspired by the new Special K Nourish range featuring nutritious pepita seeds. The mild sweetness of the carrot melds subtly with the other ingredients and is nicely offset with the creamy icing and tang of lime.
Makes 8-10 muffins
100g sultanas, 100ml coconut water , 250g carrot, 150g caster sugar, plus 1tbsp extra, 2 large eggs, 125ml olive oil, 100g rice flour, 100g gluten free self-raising flour, 1/2 tsp bi-carb soda, 1/2 tsp baking powder, 100g desiccated coconut, 1/2 tsp xanthan gum, 100g pepita seeds, plus extra to garnish
Spring has finally arrived in Melbourne, the tree on our nature strip is blooming with small white blossoms and you get an instant whiff of Spring when you walk out the front door. With Spring being so welcome, I was delighted when Anastasia from the wonderful blog Drawing and Dreaming asked Mel from Armoire Pegs and Casserole and myself if we’d like to publish a simultaneous blog post about Spring in our city. Anastasia is based in Sydney, Mel in Auckland and myself here in Melbourne.
We have so much going on in Melbourne in Spring, there’s Spring Fashion Week, the AFL Football Grand Final (which is a very big deal as football is like a religion here), The Royal Melbourne Show and of course the Spring Racing Carnival to name a few events. It’s an exciting time to be in Melbourne and caterers are kept incredibly busy supplying food to these events. Food caterers like Ed Dixon Food Design create the most gorgeous boxes of chicken sandwiches, mini meat pies, mini brioche burgers and dessert boxes perfect to wash down with a champagne on the lawn at Flemington Racecourse. Spring is also the biggest selling period in real estate, alot of people wait until Spring to put their house on the market as their gardens are looking their best and the weather is perfect.
Spring meringues are so sweet and the perfect dessert in Spring topped with whipped cream and the seasons fresh fruit like strawberries and rhubarb.
On the food front, vegetables like asparagus, green beans and peas are in season and fruits like blood oranges, cantaloupe and strawberries which allow you to make yummy tarts and salads to take on picnics or to the races. Being in season Strawberries were abundant and cheap in our supermarket today, so to celebrate Spring I made some meringues topped with strawberries. It’s the first time I’ve made them, so need to get a bit more practice piping them. I thought they’d spread a bit in the oven but no, they completely held their shape. I enjoyed making these meringues today as I always have fun working with a piping bag, whether it’s piping icing onto cupcakes, spinach and feta mixture into cannelloni tubes or piping these meringues onto their oven tray
Here’s a recipe for Spring Meringues topped with fragrant, sweet strawberries.
4 egg whites, 115g caster sugar, 115g icing sugar
Preheat the oven to fan 100C. Line a baking sheet with baking paper (meringue can stick on greaseproof paper and foil).
Place the egg whites into a large clean mixing bowl (not plastic). Beat them on medium speed with an electric mixer until the mixture resembles a fluffy cloud and stands up in stiff peaks when the blades are lifted.
Now turn the speed up and start to add 115g caster sugar, a dessertspoonful at a time. Continue beating for 3-4 seconds between each addition. It’s important to add the sugar slowly at this stage as it helps prevent the meringue from weeping later. However, don’t over-beat. When ready, the mixture should be thick and glossy.
Sift one third of the 115g icing sugar over the mixture, then gently fold it in with a big metal spoon or rubber spatula. Continue to sift and fold in the remaining icing sugar a third at a time. Again, don’t over-mix. The mixture should now look smooth and billowy, almost like a snow drift.
Pipe the mixture onto the baking sheet about the size of a medium apple. Or just drop a couple of dessertspoons of them in rough rounds, if you prefer. Bake for 1 1⁄2-1 3⁄4 hours in a fan oven, 1 1⁄4 hours in a conventional or gas oven, until the meringues sound crisp when tapped underneath and are a pale coffee colour. Leave to cool on the trays or a cooling rack. (The meringues will now keep in an airtight tin for up to 2 weeks, or frozen for a month). Top with cream that has been whipped with a little sugar and a dash of vanilla and top with strawberries.
A little while ago, my daughter Emma called me from Sydney and told me excitedly about a new magazine she’d just discovered called Mindfood Magazine. I’d seen it at the Newsagent but had never read it and was very curious to check it out. Later that day at the supermarket I bought a copy, enticed by the beautiful photo of Nigella on the cover. “Which article did you read first?” Emma asked, mine was the Nigella article “Nigella Bites Back”, it reflected on the harrowing year she’s just been through and what she had planned for the future. I then thoroughly enjoyed her Winter Baking article and recipes. Emma’s first was one on former court poet and propagandist for North Korea leader Kim Jong-il, Jang Jin-Sung. He was forced to defect after a certain turn of events and told of his harrowing flight to freedom, also describing some of the atrocities he witnessed under the regime.
A week later Emma flew down from Sydney for a visit “Can you please make this lamb dish on page 103, oh my gosh it looks delicious”. I made it for Sunday night dinner, we relished the lamb and some valuable family time. Afterwards we hopped in the car and our learner driver Hayley drove us to our local frozen yoghurt shop for dessert.
I was interested to learn the magazine is privately owned by husband and wife team Michael and Michelle McHugh. The core editorial platforms of Health, Self, Food, Travel, Community, Environment, Culture, News, Fashion, Beauty, Style and Technology can be accessed online and through the pages of the magazine. I’m looking forward to reading many more future issues.