Friday, July 17, 2015



Quinoa has been quite the superfood the past two years. It's packed full of protein, is really filling, and so good for you. It also smells funny when it's cooking, is a little bitter if you don't wash it properly, and difficult to get right the first time. But I have persisted despite a few quinoa disasters (and now am a self-declared Quinoa Queen).

All credit for this salad goes to one of my favourite local restaurants, The Firehouse. I first had this salad there a couple of years ago, and while this item has been off the menu for some time (they change their menu with each season), my tastebuds lust for it time and time again. While it's not completely exactly what they did, I think it's pretty close!

With the crunch of the hazelnuts, the nuttiness of the quinoa, the sweetness of the honey and dates, the salty of the feta, and the peppery bite of the red onion and rocket; it's the perfect combination. Plus it's so filling all by itself. If you're a salad lover, then this salad is for you. You can fiddle with the ingredients so the balance is right for your taste. I hope you like it as much as I do!

1 cup quinoa
1/2 red onion, halved and thinly sliced
6 tbsp beetroot, quartered (we used our own garden produce)
6 tbsp goat's feta, crumbled
500g rocket
20 hazelnuts, roasted and whole
10 dates, chopped in half lengthways
2 tbsp honey
2 tbsp warm water
sea salt to taste

1 Rinse quinoa thoroughly until water runs clear. Cook in 2 1/2 cups of salted water until it comes to the boil. Cook for 10-15 minutes until the water is absorbed and the quinoa grows little tails. Season it with sea salt.
2 While quinoa is cooking, mix the warm water and honey together until combined. Place all other ingredients in a bowl, add quinoa once it is cooked, and mix through with honey dressing. Sprinkle with sea salt to taste. Makes two large adult serves on its own, or makes a side salad for six.

NOTE Now, that I have a few quinoa recipes (more to come!), I find that cooking up a large batch and then cooling it in the fridge is much better than cooking a small batch every time. Once the quinoa is cooked, it seems to be a bit gluggy when it's still warm, but after it has been in the fridge, you can just separate it with a fork. It's light and fluffy. This salad doesn't have to be warm, in fact, it's perfect to prepare for the evening before and put it together for a work lunch.

Wednesday, May 27, 2015


Last weekend was a beautiful weekend in Sydney. I know this because I was there, enjoying a rare, lad-free weekend.

Apart from my annual school reunion dinner, was one other plan - to spend a morning with the most loveliest girls I know, my beautiful step-daughters. I was happy to do brunch at Darling Harbour (where I was staying), but they insisted on taking me somewhere amazing.

And they did.

The Grounds at Alexandria is simply breathtaking. Photogenic at every turn, I found it difficult to put my camera down. So many pretty places, so many delicious treats, so many good things to enjoy. It was truly a treat for every sense. I'd never been anywhere like it before. A place where you could take a pizza making class, grab a coffee or a fresh nutella donut, visit Kevin Bacon the pig, or sit with friends among the fairy lights and beautiful, green grounds. You could sample hand made marinated olives, gourmet burgers, or pick your own bouquet at the florist. Drink some home-made lemonade, eat a toffee apple, or even see bees making honey in ready-made jars. The treats were unlimited.

And then there was the food. Did someone say I should eat my way through The Grounds? Yes please! The hour and a half wait for brunch, turned into a lunch truly worth waiting for. Too many desserts to choose from, and a fabulous coffee bar.

Yes, this place is worth going to again. And I'm so glad my girls treated me with a visit there. I think I might need to find another excuse to visit Sydney again, just so we can pick up where we left off (dessert and afternoon drinks, anyone?).

If you wish to see more of The Grounds, go here.

Wearing: DRESS, Boom Shankar. SCARF, Katies. DENIM JACKET, Lee Cooper. BOOTS, Ivylee Copenhagen. BAG, Thrifted. EARRINGS, Port Fairy Markets, RING, Southbank Markets, SUNGLASSES, Collette Dinnigan.

Have you been to a place like The Grounds?