Sunday, March 30, 2014

Cider Sunday - Cider Roasted Sausages w/ Apples

Enjoy this weeks Cider Sunday Recipe - I love it because it's SUPER EASY - You simple throw it all into a baking pan and then into the oven. 

Enjoy x

Mr Beak’s Original Cider Roasted Sausages with Apples


3 tbs extra virgin olive oil

800g baby red delight potatoes, washed & cut into quarters

1 packet of Mr Beaks Original Beef Sausages

2 bulbs of garlic, cut in half crossways

4 red apples, cut in half

250ml apple cider

½ bunch of sage

3 springs rosemary

Salad to serve

1. Preheat the oven to 200ºC. Drizzle one tablespoon of extra virgin olive oil onto the base of a large baking dish, place potatoes and sausages on top, arrange the garlic and apples cut side up around the sausages.

2. Pour the cider over, scatter the sage & rosemary and drizzle the remaining olive oil over all the ingredients. Season with salt and pepper and roast for approximately 45 minutes until the sausages and potatoes are cooked through.

3. Serve on the table with a fresh garden salad at your next Sunday lunch and enjoy the sweet apples and garlic alongside the sausages!

For this recipe I used Strongbow Apple Cider.

Thursday, March 27, 2014

Hop Harvest - Chiswick Restaurant, Sydney

Every year brewers from around the globe descend on Australia in search of the perfect hop harvest. Whilst some of the harvest is earmarked for export, there is a growing demand for unique craft beer flavours here in Australia.  

Located approximately 60km from Hobart, Tasmania, is Bushy Park - home to the biggest hop garden in the Southern Hemisphere. Tim Charody, known as The Beer Pilgrim, recently visited Bushy Park in search of the perfect hop.

To help celebrate the annual Hop Harvest - Tim and Lion's Master Brewer Peter David recently hosted a hop inspired degustation dinner at Sydney's Chiswick restaurant. 

The evening began with delicious Cauliflower croquette canapés and James Squire 150 Lashes Pale Ale - A refreshing straw coloured brew with lovely fruity aromas. 

Next, we were treated to shared platters of wood fired bread, studded with garlic and oregano sourced from the restaurant's on-site garden. A Galaxy hop cured ocean trout with Yarra Valley roe and lemon verbena was also served, paired with Beck's and Pilsner Urquell beers. Of the two beers, I much preferred the Pilsner made with Saaz hops.

Individual entrées featured Chiswick's signature steak tartare, paired with James Squire - The Constable Copper Ale and Spitfire Kentish Ale. The Constable is a fairly balanced English style ale with earthy notes and a lingering hop bitterness. A perfect choice for the entrée.

Shared mains included Super Pride hop roasted pork belly served with apple puree, coleslaw, Little Creatures onion rings and cos, pear and shiso salad. 

The pork crackling was crunchy, well seasoned and delicious however the pork was slightly chewy and not overly hot - I suspect it's temperature contributed to it's said texture. The apple puree was silky and aromatic and helped to lift the pork. The onion rings were a lovely indulgence.

The pork was paired with Little Creatures Pale Ale and Knappstein Reserve - both fairly crisp refreshing drops. I preferred the fruity Knappstein over the Little Creatures.

My favourite meal of the evening was the dessert. First we shared platters of moorish aged cheddar which was golden orange, crumbly and had a lovely bite to it. The paired beers both went well with the cheese.

Individual plates of Roasted peach, granola and Feral Hop ice cream followed.

The peach segments had been roasted to perfection and were easy to cut through with my spoon. They paired well with the chewy honeyed granola with currants and creamy hop infused ice cream. The flavour of the ice cream was subtle and not overly sweet which worked well to cut through the caramel sweetness of the granola. 

This gorgeous Autumn hop-inspired dish was the perfect ending to the evening.

The Food Mentalist dined as a guest at the Hop Harvest Degustation Dinner @ Chiswick

Photos courtesy of respublica pr.

Chiswick on Urbanspoon

Monday, March 24, 2014

Clean Living Cookbook - Recipe & Review

If you live in Australia and are a fan of the television series My Kitchen Rules (MKR) then you would definitely remember Sydney contestants Luke Hines & Scott Gooding from last season. During the series, the friends impressed us with their paleo-style cooking and clean living philosophy. 

The duo have just released their second book Clean Living Cookbook after the success of their first - titled Clean Living, a 21-day lifestyle plan. In their newest book, the duo promote their 5 steps to clean living: 

1. Eat Real
2. Eat Whole
3. Eat Clean
4. Eat Local &
5. Keep Moving

This cookbook really does inspire healthy eating. Divided into five sections the cookbook takes readers through from Breakfast to Dessert with an additional section titled Salads, Sides & Smoothies. Recipes are straightforward and easy to follow - many with only 3 or 4 steps involved. 

Breakfast highlights include Bacon & Zucchini Muffins, Banana Scramble with Pecans and Sweet Potato Fritters w/ Smoked Salmon. I was excited to see a recipe for Kale Pesto Scrambled Eggs featured in the cookbook, though I think it would have been better suited to the Breakfast rather than the Lunch section.  

Other favourites include Slow Cooked Beef Cheeks, Dukkah Lamb Cutlets w/ Zucchini & Pear Salad, Superfood Soup, and Baby Kale, Roasted Beetroot, Brussels and Walnut Salad ( featured below)*.  

Those looking for healthier sweet options will not be disappointed. Choices include a Raw Raspberry Cheesecake which features a base made with macadamia nuts and fresh dates, a Frozen Health Fudge packed full of nuts, fruit and spices, and a Chocolate Mousse made using ripe avocados.

Baby Kale, Roasted Beetroot,
Brussels and Walnut Salad
Serves 4
This recipe bursts with healthy goodness. Packed full of superfoods, it’s
guaranteed to please – plus it’s easy!

Photo Source - Clean Living Cookbook
4 medium beetroots (about 500 g
in total)
4 leeks, cut into 10 cm pieces
coconut oil, for frying
sea salt
300 g brussel sprouts, quartered
½ cup coriander, roughly chopped
3 cups baby kale

3 tablespoons walnut oil
(or olive oil)
1 tablespoon apple cider vinegar
1 teaspoon seeded mustard
1 teaspoon maple syrup
½ cup walnuts, roughly chopped
½ teaspoon chilli flakes

1. Preheat the oven to 200°C. Wrap the beetroots individually in foil and pop in the oven for 1–1½hours. Remove from the oven when you can push a knife into the centre of the beetroots without resistance.

2. Once the beetroots have cooled, remove the foil, then use a vegetable peeler to scrape their skinoff. Cut into wedges and set them aside.

3. Pop the leeks into a pot of salted water, bring to the boil, and simmer for 10–12 minutes.

4. When the leeks are slightly soft, take them off the heat and drain the pot. Let them cool, then cut each piece into 3 smaller segments and set them

5. Melt a little coconut oil in a frying pan over a medium heat and pop in the brussel sprouts. Add a pinch of sea salt and keep turning the sprouts for about 3–4 minutes, until they begin to soften,then take them off the heat and set aside to cool.

6. Combine the dressing ingredients in a small bowl.

7. Once the leeks and brussel sprouts are at room temperature, combine them with the coriander,baby kale and beetroot.

8. Serve on a large platter and drizzle the dressing over the salad.

tip: The standard ratio of oil to vinegar in a salad dressing is 3:1. Try different oils or combinations of oils until you find one that suits you


Luke & Scott's Clean Living Cookbook is available to purchase through most bookshops and online here RRP$29.99

The Food Mentalist reviewed Clean Living Cookbook courtesy of Hachette Australia 

Monday, March 17, 2014

Banana & Nutella Breakfast Shake & Competition

Available in over 75 countries around the world, there is no denying the popularity of this delicious choc-hazelnut spread. 

To help celebrate Nutella's new campaign which encourages us all to get creative in the kitchen and find new ways to enjoy it, I decided to make this quick and easy breakfast shake. It provides a good hit of energy first thing in the morning and is guaranteed to keep you going til lunch. It's sweet, nutty and delicious.

Banana & Nutella Breakfast Shake
Serves 2

1/2 banana
1 tbs Nutella
2 cups low fat or skim milk
1 tbs LSA ( Linseed, Sunflower and Almond Meal)*
3-4 ice cubes

* You can purchase LSA from most supermarkets or health food stores.

To make simply blend together the following ingredients.


Win with Nutella

Thanks to Nutella, one lucky reader will win a delicious Nutella pack so they too can start creating 'new ways with Nutella'. 

Cute Mini Nutella 

The prize pack will include:

30 x 30 gram Nutella jars ( seen above)
1 large Nutella jar
1 x $50 Woolworths voucher

To enter simply leave a comment below and tell us how you enjoy your Nutella.

Entries close Sunday March 30 at 12 Midday and are open to Australian Residents Only. Please include a valid email with your comment so you can be contacted should you win. The winner will also be announced via Facebook & Twitter.

The Food Mentalist received Nutella products to create this recipe.

Sunday, March 16, 2014

Cider Sunday - Pagan Pear Cider - Tasmania

Promoted as a whole fruit cider, the team at Pagan Cider use fruit sourced from Lucaston Park - fourth-generation orchardists in the Huon Valley, Tasmania. 

Pagan Pear Cider @ Mt Wellington, Hobart

The Huon Valley has long been celebrated for its high quality fruit, particularly apples, and blessed with the cleanest air in the world, fantastic weather and rich soil makes Tasmania the perfect cider producing region. 

Made in small batches to ensure quality and consistency, this real ( non-pasteurised) cider has no added sugar which allows the natural fruit sugars to sing. It's ultimately a fusion cider made using pear and crisp apples. 

Upon pouring I notice it has a lovely clear pale straw colour with just the right amount of fine carbonation. Lovely soft pear aromas fill the glass - Gee this is good! A perfect balance of sweetness and acidity allows this cider to really shine. It is definitely one of the best pear ciders I have tasted in a very long time. When discussing this cider with Pete all you could hear was "Mmmm" and "wow". Incredibly refreshing and crisp with a nice dry finish, this cider won't last long in your fridge. 

Serve on its own without ice to enjoy the subtleties of this delicious cider. Will pair well with white meats, fresh salads, fruit and a nice cheese platter.

This cider also took out the Bronze medal award at the 2013 Royal Melbourne Fine Food Awards, adding further testament to its quality and taste. I must look up the other winners because based on just this one tasting it is definitely worthy of gold.

At 4.5%, a 330ml bottle will provide you with 1.2 standard drinks.

To purchase Pagan Cider check out their Facebook page here or email

The Food Mentalist purchased Pagan Pear Cider during a recent trip to Hobart, Tasmania.

Saturday, March 15, 2014

Healthy Nutella Wrap w/ Banana & Pepitas

I absolutely love Nutella, but often can't be trusted with it - (insert image of me with a jar and spoon). Yes, well in the interest of health and a new campaign by Nutella #newwayswithnutella I decided to create a healthy wrap with this delectable spread to help me get through the afternoon slump and give me that much needed energy boost. 

Healthy Nutella Wrap
w/ Banana & Pepitas

This wrap uses Mountain Bread which provides the perfect filling base without giving you that heavy weighed down feeling other wraps can. The banana has long been celebrated as the perfect Nutella pairing and the pepitas provide a lovely crunch and are full of iron, protein and fibre. Yum. 

1/2  banana sliced
1x piece of Mountain bread of your choice. I often buy the Rice or Oat varieties.
1 Tbs pepitas 

To make
Spread one piece of Mountain Bread with about 1 tbs of Nutella ( or more if you prefer), arrange the slice banana, sprinkle the pepitas. 

Roll it up.

Eat it up.

Sunday, March 9, 2014

Cider Sunday - Strongbow Cider Pulled Pork Sliders

Whilst I'm usually not a huge fan of commercial ciders, it can be argued that they do have their place in the market. And for me, this is true when it comes to cooking with cider.  

This week's Cider Sunday therefore features Strongbow Apple Cider - One of the worlds most recognised and Australia's highest selling cider. It is widely available for purchase and has a great price point which makes it the perfect choice for this recipe.

This recipe is sure to impress even the toughest cider critic.

Strongbow Cider Pulled Pork Sliders 

Recipe by Cyril Miletto and Miccal Cummins, Gastronomy

Makes about 30 Sliders

3 kg pork shoulder; bone in, skin removed but leave all the fat

Rubbing mix
2 teaspoons chilli powder
2 teaspoons cumin powder
2 teaspoons paprika
2 teaspoons ground white pepper          
1 tablespoon brown sugar
1 tablespoon salt
2 teaspoons ground coriander

1 litre of Strongbow Classic Apple Cider
½ the rubbing mix above
1 tablespoon of salt

Apple slaw
3 granny smith apples, cored, peeled and shredded
Juice of ½ a lemon
½ cup whole egg mayonnaise
1 teaspoon Worcestershire sauce
1 tablespoon of Dijon mustard
Salt and pepper to taste

30 slider buns or Panini

Combine all the rubbing mix ingredients, use half to make the brine and set the other half aside. Place the pork in a ceramic or stainless steel container and cover with the brine. Leave for an hour, then turn and refrigerate for 9 or more hours. Wash and pat dry.

Next day, pre-set the oven at 150˚c. Rub the rest of the rubbing mix over the meat, place on a baking tray, and put it in the oven. Turn the oven down to 120˚c for 7 hours until the meat falls off the bone.

Remove the tray from the oven, pour off and reserve any cooking juice. Let it cool before pulling the meat off the bone. Once the meat is shredded, add half a cup of the cooking liquid (if there is any).

For the slaw; shred or julienne the apple and put lemon juice on it straight away to stop the apple from browning. Add the remainder of ingredients and salt and pepper to your taste.

To serve

Warm the meat and serve inside slider rolls. Garnish with the apple slaw.