Monday 25 November 2013

Botanica, Red Hill

This is my new favourite takeaway in Brisbane.

For me, it ticks a lot of boxes. It's quick; it's healthy; I can eat everything on the menu; and, it is DELICIOUS! If you love feeling good about what you eat, then Botanica is worth a visit.

Located in Red Hill, Botanica was opened by owners Ali and Brett Hutley at the beginning of this year. Not only has it become a hit with locals, but has become known as the place for salads in Brisbane. And don't let its size fool you.. although small, Botanica offers a lot for a small eatery! There are up to eight fresh, hearty salads daily, all of which are either vegan or vegetarian.

Botanica is takeaway only, and takeaway boxes come in three sizes. The family size feeds 4+ for $25; the medium 2-4 for $15; and the small $10. I opted for the medium size to feed Mr Ladybird and I for lunch, and was surprised with how much salad could be packed in so neatly! I opted for a little of each salad as they all looked so good.

From left to right, the menu was as follows:
Brown rice with roast vegetables, baby spinach and soy and coriander dressing
Raw beetroot with orange, mint and fetta
Shaved broccoli with cranberries, almonds and garlic cashew cream
Potato, pea and dill salad with green tahini
Red cabbage with parmesan and walnut crumb and Dijon vinaigrette
Kale and parmesan salad with sourdough croutons and roast garlic vinaigrette
Mougrabeh with roast sweet potato and onion, supergreen pesto and baby spinach

All were so tasty, bursting with flavour and with the perfect amount of seasoning and dressing. The kale salad was the winner for me. I could eat that Yum! The medium box filled us up for lunch, plus there were leftovers to have along with dinner.

Also worth mentioning is the beautiful selection of freshly baked gluten-free sweet treats on offer daily at Botanica. When I visited, there were cinnamon bundt donuts, Callebaut chocolate fudge cookies, cherry white chocolate and sour cream muffins... just to name a few! So tempting, but I declined on this occasion. I guess I'll just have to visit again, for salads and maybe more! ;)

9/1 Enoggera Tce, Red Hill
QLD 4059
Ph: (07) 3367 3334

Botanica on Urbanspoon

Saturday 16 November 2013

Coco-nutty Granola

This granola, or 'coconut crack' as it is known in my home, is a pantry staple for me nowadays. Delicious, crunchy, and so very addictive. Although it is called a granola in the 'I Quit Sugar' cookbook, there's really no reason why it can't be eaten at any other time of the day. I like it with yoghurt as a morning snack, or even just a little with some herbal tea is a nice afternoon pick-me-up. 

I am a relative newcomer to this business of granola making. One thing I have noticed about people that make their own is that everyone swears by their own recipe, and they are reluctant to deviate from it. I'm pretty happy with my variation of this recipe and rarely stray from it now either! It is packed with good stuff and is slightly sweetened with rice malt syrup rather than loads of dried fruit and honey. You can pick up rice malt syrup up in the health food section of Coles and it is quite a handy ingredient to have in the cupboard!

Coco-nutty Granola
Adapted recipe from 'I Quit Sugar' by Sarah Wilson

2 cups coconut flakes
1 cup rolled oats
1 cup almonds
1/2 cup cashews
1/2 cup pepitas
2 tablespoons chia seeds
1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
80g coconut oil/butter, melted
3 tablespoons rice malt syrup

1. Preheat oven to 150 degrees celcius and line a large baking tray with baking paper.
2. Combine all the ingredients, then spread evenly on the tray.
3. Bake for around 40 minutes or until golden, turning halfway through the cooking time. The darker the granola, the crunchier it will be.
4. Remove from the oven and allow to cool. Store in an airtight container to keep the granola crispy.


And after...

The original recipe says to bake for 15-20 minutes at 120 degrees celcius but I found this did nothing to the mixture at all, hence the higher temperature and longer cooking time. Keep an eye on yours though, as every oven is a little different.

Also, I make mine using activated nuts. They add wonderful toastiness and crunch - the main reason why I use activated nuts rather than the health benefits if I am to be perfectly honest! To 'activate' nuts, soak overnight in water with a little sea salt. Drain, then spread out on a baking tray and dry in the oven for 12-24 hours at the lowest temperature possible. Keen to read more about why activated nuts are said so good for you? You might like to read this article.

Do you make your own granola? If so, what recipe do you swear by??


Sunday 10 November 2013

Breakfast at The Kenmore

This morning the Ladybird family made a Sunday breakfast outing to a local hotel called 'The Kenmore' that has recently undergone a complete refurbishment. The hotel bistro offers breakfast on Saturdays and Sundays until 10am and so we decided to give it a try.

The refurbishment is modern, classy and restrained. They have done a brilliant job in giving this establishment a facelift. The pictures speak for themselves!

The bistro's alfresco dining area is a real highlight - loads of natural light, and fans for the warm weather as well as outdoor heating for the cooler months (yes, they do exist here in Brisbane!)

The breakfast menu offers the usual fare. Unfortunately, there were no savoury vegetarian meals listed, however, the staff were happy to substitute to cater accordingly. Drink and meal orders are taken at the counter. After ordering, we noticed this cute miniature blackboard listing The Kenmore's coffee menu. I like my coffee, but to be honest, I have never even heard of some of these!

I opted for the Lemon and ricotta pancake stack with stewed strawberries, double cream and mint ($12.95). I'm afraid to say the pancakes were the least impressive pancakes I have paid for... The flavour was not great, and the pancakes were burnt underneath. And frankly, two pancakes doesn't make a 'stack'.

Mr Ladybird had the Light Breakfast with toast, eggs, roast tomato and bacon ($12.95). The staff happily substituted the bacon for a side of mushrooms, and he added two hashbrown add-ons ($2 x 2) to share with our little fella. We were a little disappointed to see that the hashbrowns were readymade and that the toast was regular white supermarket bread. Unfortunately the tomato seemed to have got forgotten as well.

The Emperor was a very happy little boy to receive his babycino, graciously provided on the house by the manager. We gave coffees a miss as we have a machine at home which gets a blurry eyed visit from us every morning nice and early.

I was looking forward to this breakfast... Alas, my search for a good local breakfast venue that is child friendly continues. The Kenmore is certainly a beautiful, child-friendly venue. On the plus side, there is parking close to the hotel, room for prams and there are high chairs available. Unfortunately though, food at The Kenmore was a letdown.. Will we be back? Probably not, but their coffee menu has piqued my curiosity so perhaps that might see me return some day.

The Kenmore
841 Moggill Rd
Ph: (07) 33780777

The Kenmore on Urbanspoon

Friday 8 November 2013

Vegetarian Bolognese

As a child Spaghetti Bolognese used to be one of my favourite meals - either at home or to order on the rare occasion all eight of us went out for dinner. I remember the way the sauce would end up on my face as I happily slurped up the spaghetti. I still find comfort in enjoying a nice bowl of spaghetti bolognese. Sure, I still get sauce on my face (some things never change!) but the only thing that is different is that I now prefer my 'Spag Bol' meat free. Purists will scoff at the concept of a meat free bolognese, but what the heck - I will call it a bolognese nonetheless!

I cook this often as it is child friendly and my little man loves it; plus, it freezes very well so is a good healthy emergency meal. The lentils are the protein here, but to bump up the protein even more serve with fresh pasta. I especially love this bolognese with fresh, silky, homemade spelt pasta if I have the time to make it.

If you are keen to see a post on how to make fresh spelt pasta, please let me know by leaving a comment below! For now though, here is the recipe :)

Vegetarian Bolognese
An original Diary of a Ladybird recipe

1 tbsp extra virgin olive oil
1 small onion, finely chopped
1 carrot, finely chopped
1 celery stick, finely chopped
1 bay leaf
2 garlic cloves, crushed
1 tbsp tomato paste
2 tsp cumin powder
2 x 400g cans chopped tomatoes
1 x 400g can brown lentils, drained and rinsed
2 handfuls baby spinach, roughly chopped
1/2 teaspoon vegetable stock powder
Salt and pepper
1/4 - 1/2 teaspoon sugar, or a natural sweetener such as xylitol* or powdered stevia*
* available at most health food stores

1. Heat oil in a medium size saucepan over medium heat. Add the onion, carrot, celery and bay leaf and cook, stirring often, for about 5 minutes or until softened.
2. Stir in the garlic and cumin and cook for a minute before adding the tomato paste, tomatoes, vegetable stock powder and half a cup of water. Season with a little black pepper and salt. Bring to the boil, then cover and simmer over low heat for about 10 minutes.
3. Stir in the lentils and cook for another 5 minutes, and then remove from the heat and stir through baby spinach.
4. Add sweetener to taste (basically to take the edge of the tomato tang) and add more salt if desired. Serve with your choice of pasta and some freshly grated parmesan.

Ciao for now, readers!

Anna x

Sunday 3 November 2013

Nan Khatai (Indian Butter Biscuits)

Today marks a very special day in the Hindu calender, Diwali. Diwali is known as the festival of lights, and is a wonderful time of year for Hindu families. Little lamps are lit in homes to usher in good fortune and happiness in the Hindu new year. Vast amounts of sumptuous food is enjoyed as part of the celebrations, including an array of sweets!

Nan Khatai is a simple little sweet one often sees around this time of year in Indian homes. I have tasted many, and tried many recipes. However, this recipe is one I have come up with myself after a good bit of tweaking and now stick to year in and year out. I love the balance of flavours, and I love the tenderness of the crumb in these delightful (and addictive) little biscuits.

Although simple, there are a couple of things key to ensuring perfection in making nan khatai. First, only use freshly ground cardamom - pre-packaged cardamom powder doesn't even come close to the beautiful aroma of freshly ground cardamom. It is the most exquisite scent! Secondly, don't overwork the dough. Last but certainly not least, let the dough rest. Really, it is much like making pastry. If you overwork the dough and fail to let it rest, you will end up with a very tough final product.

Nan Khatai
An original Diary of a Ladybird recipe

90g salted butter
35g unsalted butter
100g caster sugar
1/2 teaspooon freshly ground cardamom
150g plain flour
45g white rice flour

1. Using an electric mixer, cream the butters, sugar and cardamom until pale and creamy.
2. Mix in combined flour until just combined, then tip out mixture onto a clean work surface. Squeeze together and shape into a disc, wrap with plastic wrap and refrigerate for 30 minutes.
3. Remove dough from the fridge and take teaspoon amounts of the dough and roll into balls and set aside. I keep in a spare plastic container with a lid. Refrigerate for a minimum of 30 minutes.
4. Place spaced apart on a baking tray lined with baking paper. Bake in a preheated oven at 160 degrees celsius. Bake for around 15 minutes or until just lightly golden.

And so to those of you celebrating, I wish you all a very happy Diwali! I hope you enjoy this recipe :)


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