CONFESSIONS AND OBSESSIONS.

 

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We are so lucky to live in Melbourne. What other place in the world has little pockets of their city dedicated to different regions around the world, where you can go and quite confidently get a slice of authenticity almost every time? I say almost, because we’ve all had that one time where a hybrid cuisine of unknown countries has been dished up to us. Nonetheless, all this reminiscing and feelings of content got me thinking; what shall I report on next? I believe it appropriate to report on some sort of restaurant/café/pop up shop as I am supposed to be ‘Taste Testing Melbourne.’

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Now, I have a confession to make. Or perhaps I should say obsession. I am head over heels for a little place called Dee’s Kitchen, located in Dromana, on the Mornington Peninsula. You see, I may be biased as I like to call Dromana home, but boy oh boy does this place wow me every time. If you’ve never stumbled across the peninsula, I highly recommend making a weekend of it, with an array of activities to try – my favorites being strawberry picking, wine tasting and getting lost in the beautiful beach side.

I have to say, I’ve dragged every friend, family, stranger I know to Dees and not one person has been disappointed… well except for my dad, who thinks that if a place doesn’t offer white bread, eggs and bacon it’s not worth going to. So don’t take his opinion! Dee’s has a simple, minimalist layout and design, but manages to draw you in immediately with a display of sweet and savory dishes that get me salivating now while thinking about it!

According to the owners, Dee’s is‘where mid-East sophistication meets Mediterranean flair in the heart of the Mornington Peninsula’. The unique ingredients used in their menu, such as buckwheat toast, Chevre, and my personal favorite, harissa, give a new meaning to both breakfast and lunch. And if you weren’t already sold, their deli offers a range of salamis, chorizo, local cheese and my pick, Levito bread…mmm sourdough.

 So what can you actually eat there? Dee’s offers quite an unconventional breakfast menu that leaves you thinking, why don’t more places do this! The menu features a ‘Sweet Start’ section as well as a ‘Something Savoury’ section. Although I’m normally a sweet tooth, I usually find myself ordering something off the savoury list. A difficult decision at the best of times, the clear standouts for me are the ‘Delicately Smashed Rosemary Potato & Pumpkin served with poached eggs, crispy pancetta & pepperonata’, ‘The notoriously Warming Shakshouka- baked middle eastern salsa with spinach & chevre, topped with 2 poached eggs, served with the house pita’ and the ‘Avocado & Chevre’ Smash served w/toasted sourdough & roquettephoto 5

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Ummm, should I just stop now? Are you already on your way?

 The whole ambiance of Dees makes me giddy every time – as you can see I love it. The staff are great and always bubbly, the place is located a stones throw away from the beach, and the food…well I think I’ve done that justice. So really, what more are you waiting for – Why are you still reading? With the long weekend coming up, making a weekend out of it and head down, I promise both the Mornington Peninsula and Dee’s Kitchen will not disappoint!

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DOING THINGS THE NATVIA WAY

The craze for sugar free products is more prominent than ever! As companies like Natvia  provide ‘sweet’ alternatives for the weight conscious, diabetic and fructose intolerant, it is clear that this phenomenon is here to stay. To celebrate the release of the new ‘Icing and Baking’ range at Natvia, Felicity Curtain  and I were invited to a one off master class to learn how to use their product. The class was held in Melbourne Central at Sheryl’s beautiful cupcake haven, ‘ Cupcake Central’’. This very aptly named store offers a range of mind-blowing vegan, gluten free and dairy free cupcakes. I highly recommend going there… right now! Sheryl has pioneered the very first range of Natvia cupcakes on the market. Also present was Co-Founder of Natvia, Samuel Tow, who enjoyed assisting in the taste testing as much as the rest of us.

We were lucky enough to eat bake chocolate muffins with Natvia’s new products, ‘Natvia Baking’ and ‘Natvia Icing’. The muffins turned out exceptionally delicious and along the way, Sheryl made sure to teach us some tricks of the trade on how to cook with Natvia. For example, if you require your recipe to rise, 2-3 tablespoons of an acidic ingredient such as baking powder can help with the process.

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The class was a really great way of learning a bit more about Natvia and how they came about. I especially liked the fact that Samuel Tow was first inspired to make Natvia when his wife was diagnosed with gestational diabetes. It was also interesting to learn how Natvia is made. Samuel explained that the product uses a combination of the young part of the stevia plant and ErythrItol (a sugar alcohol) to create a sweet characteristic similar to that of sugar, but without the bitter after taste that many artificial sweeteners have. This is actually a great point to make! Natvia is one of the only sweeteners I have come across that resembles and tastes very similar to sugar.

As Natvia uses erythritol, it has a minimal effect on blood glucose levels, which can be helpful for people with diabetes. However beware, eating too much Erythritol can potentially result in a laxative effect. So remember not to overdo it!

I was really impressed by the professionalism of the whole event. From the honest and openness of Samuel Tow to the great cooking advice provided by Sheryl, it was a very enjoyable experience.

Although Natvia is a great alternative to sugar, I am not necessarily suggesting that sugar should be neglected altogether. Sugar is an important ingredient in a number of recipes and instead should be consumed in moderation to maintain a balanced and healthy diet. However, products like Natvia can play an extremely beneficial role in particular situations. For people looking to lose weight, suffering from one or more diet related diseases such as diabetes, or for those who require a fructose friendly alternative, Natvia is worth giving a try.

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Mastering the Art of Granola-ing

This week I made granola and I am very happy with how it turned out. I could easily go on about the trials of my granola wars for hours, it is so difficult to find one that is not loaded with sugar and nasties that just don’t belong! Alas, I went on a search to make my own minus all the rift raft that comes with it! It is fair to say that I am officially obsessed with this oaty combination. Not only do oats have an amazing flavour, they also have a nutrient profile that gives any foodie a great big grin. 

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At heart, I am quite old fashioned with my oats, but lately I have been trying to push the boundaries with different mixes and blends. Currently, I am loving baked oats. That half crunchy, half oozy mix of oaty goodness gets me every time and I’ll be sure to post on that some day very soon. But for today, we’re talking granola.

Now, before I go into the recipe (which I will, I promise), I want to give oats their time to shine, simply because they deserve it. Firstly, oats help contribute a significant amount of fibre to your diet. Fibre is responsible for helping to lower blood cholesterol levels as well as keep our digestive system nice and healthy. Dietary fibre can also help make you feel full faster and for longer. This can help with any cravings or overeating tendencies and can also help reduce weight gain or maintain weight. Oats also contain an abundance of antioxidants, which form vitamin E and Tocopherols, helping to lower blood cholesterol levels.

A recommended serve of oats, according to the Australian Guide to Healthy Eating is 1/3 a cup. Pair this with a piece of fruit and some low fat milk or yoghurt and you will be flying through the morning with one happy stomach!

Now to the recipe! This recipe draws on inspiration from a number of trials (and errors) to find the perfect granola. I hope you like it as much as I do. This is my fail proof granola recipe. I promise you will never look back.

Cinnamon and Coffee Granola.

3 cups oats

6 mejooled dates, roughly chopped

1/3 cup sunflower/poppy/pumpkin seed mix

3 tablespoons sultanas

1 espresso shot (if using instant, use 1 teaspoon of instant and 30mls water)

1/3 cup honey

¼ cup vegetable oil

1 egg white

1 tablespoon cinnamon

1 tsp sea salt

Preheat oven to 180C.

Line a large baking tray with baking paper.

In a large bowl place oats, chopped dates, seed mix and sultanas. Mix until well combined.

Poor the espresso shot into the dry ingredients. If using instant poor over until the mix is lightly covered. Add the honey, oil and egg white and mix until all of the dry mixture is damp from the wet ingredients.

Add the cinnamon and salt and give the mixture one last mix and making sure all ingredients are nice and wet.

Place the mixture onto the baking tray, make sure to separate the oats so they make a nice, thin layer.

Put the mixture into the oven and let the amazing smell take over the whole house. Cook for 20-25 minutes. 

Once you take the mixture out of the oven let it rest for 5 minutes and then you are free to serve! I like putting mine with caramelized banana, figs and yoghurt! Or even better I gave some to a friend this morning an

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