raw (everything-free) choc-mint slice

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What this slice lacks in refined sugar, it makes up for in its infinite potential for hashtags: #dairyfree, #paleo, #vegan, #raw, #glutenfree, #cleaneating etc. The only food trend – gluten free – is one I follow by force, not fashion. That being said, I secretly love health food crazes as they encourage trying new things with food. I’m not about to activate an almond or anything, but I genuinely enjoyed the added challenge of making something in a novel way. I especially enjoy how mint leaves themselves lended their colour to the green layer!

I have never been the hugest fan of vegan treats, let alone raw ones, but the Pana Chocolate cafe in Melbourne successfully swayed me to believe that such alternatives could be better than the real thing. One taste of their chocolate mint slice had me happily handing over $8 to indulge in a full piece. It was worth every penny, and I have thought about how amazingly decadent, rich and smooth it was on a regular basis since. All I needed at home to recreate it practically perfectly was patience and a reasonably powerful food processor. The ingredients themselves are not too hard to come by in most supermarkets, however they are more expensive than their standard, sugary counterparts. The batch ensuing is gigantic, however, and best stored frozen. Compared to how much a single piece costs at any hipster cafe, making this is almost economical when it comes to cravings.

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Asian glazed salmon with sesame roast vegetables and quick pickled cucumbers

DSC06770This “warmish” salad has become something of an unintentional fixture in my current cooking repertoire. I love how the soy sauce and miso salty-umami flavours cut through the richness of the fish – a far cry from my first experiences of eating salmon baked in a bed of puff pastry. Despite the fact salmon is definitely a rich meat, this makes it the perfect vehicle for the pickled cucumbers and loads of vegetables for freshness.

Because this salad is best served lukewarm/room temperature, it is easy to prepare in advance if hosting a group for lunch or casual summer dinner. I often pick up the fresh salmon tails or cut pieces from my supermarket as they are often on special despite only being packed that day – in which case I buy enough for four servings and make enough for lunches later. There are certainly a few components to this dish, however I think it would be a shame not to include them all as they work so well together.

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cookies and cream rocky road

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After a six month hiatus from food blogging; albeit certainly not from enjoying food, I’m back blogging in the New Year with rocky road so delicious I would definitely break any kind of resolution to eat it. I made, devoured (thank you Countdown for gluten free Oreo substitutes!) and gifted a few batches of this over Christmas and can safely vouch for how excellent it is – and having passed on the recipe via Facebook chat to a friend, I can thankfully remember it. This is a magnificently transportable treat for long distance gifting, however that’s not to say it needs to go far to be appreciated.

There’s not much more to say about this rocky road beyond issuing my reluctance to adjust the ingredients. It’s ridiculous to be so didactic when it comes to a recipe where you are literally just melting some chocolate and adding tasty treats, but the balance of chewy to crunchy is practically perfect and not to be messed with. Don’t underestimate the power of the salted macadamias, or the lack thereof when it comes to willpower around this.

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gluten free Vancouver

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To state the obvious: it is raining (read: pouring) in Dublin in summer. The Vancouver heatwave I experienced mere days ago feels the literal thousands of kilometres away it really is.

Part of my preparation for travel always involves extensively researching What and Where I am going to eat – this has been done for every single location I’m going on our four week northern hemispheric adventure. This is in part because I am restricted to eating gluten free, having celiac disease, but also because I refuse to settle for simple substitutions of gluten free bread. I cross-reference articles and pore over menus to make sure I am eating the Most Delicious Things. Thankfully, such efforts in Canada paid off. I certainly didn’t leave hungry – and hangriness was always avoided when becoming imminent.

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homemade honeycomb

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Whoever thought Junk-free June was a clever use of alliteration clearly Hasn’t Had Homemade Honeycomb.

I’m quoting my own Instagram and I was asleep by 8PM on a Friday: these two things paint a rather dismal picture of my mid-twenties. I have made honeycomb (hokey pokey/cinder toffee) once before, over a decade ago, over a bunsen burner. If reliving my high school chemistry days is my way of dealing with a potential quarter life crisis (I’m 25 in less than two weeks), then thank goodness this is actually tasty. Making it in a saucepan over a stovetop certainly lends itself to less of a gas burned beaker vibe, and altogether a more delicious outcome.

Thanks to Planet Science and my poor long term recall, I can divulge the secret of how this treat is made:

The heat of the sugar mixture causes the bicarbonate of soda to break down and release carbon dioxide bubbles. The carbon dioxide bubbles make the sugar mixture expand. When the sugar mixture cools, gaps remain where the carbon dioxide bubbled through the mixture. This gives honeycomb its distinctive texture.

Whatever’s happening, it’s a superb cake decoration and opportunistic treat to nibble from the jar. I was incredibly pleased with the dramatic effect half a batch broken into shards created on top of this cake, and even more so with the amount left over to eat myself. It would also be utterly marvellous covered in chocolate, sprinkled over ice cream or as a component in rocky road.

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banana chocolate praline crunch cake

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This is simply a celebration of how I think banana cakes should be.

We forever have overripe bananas in the freezer, overambitiously bought in bunches and then left to brown by the end of a week. I had all of the ingredients for this lying around but for the salted roasted almonds and impulse purchased Crunchie bar, but these are probably the two integral items that genuinely make the cake. The praline is like crack in the sense both that it is ridiculously addictive, and also perfectly crunchy. I’m big on flavour combinations, and I think the salty nuttiness is practically perfect, but even better is the fun texture it adds to offset the smooth fudge icing and moist banana cake – which unintentionally ended up with a deliciously crisp cake crust.

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honeycomb and peanut butter cookies with a kick

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My day was made through the medium of Instagram today:

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Despite aggressively sharing my amateur food photography on Facebook, by the 31st of January I had given up all hope of winning last month’s “Dish Snaps” competition. Dish magazine is hands down my favourite magazine – so beyond simply being stoked with receiving wine (having already been introduced/made a fan of the Bastard chardonnay), I feel utterly flattered. It is perhaps a lofty goal for me to consider this wee win a shoe in for eventually contributing even a recipe to the magazine … but a girl can dream (shoot for the moon, etc.).

I actually wasn’t planning on posting this recipe (despite the fact it is delicious), however my ego has now been boosted to the point where I feel I have to share my efforts via social media.  I’m not adept at cookie making just yet – mainly for lack of trying, so I think I feel these are something of a learning curve as opposed to a final success. It’s incredibly simple, and the chilli I added to the cookie dough added a pleasing surprise. Cookie sandwiches are inherently decadent – something about eating two at once by virtue of how they are created seems to make it so.

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