No-Knead Sunflower Seed Bread

It’s certainly been a lot cooler in Auckland of late which has brought me into soup season. In an effort to use up some silverbeet and pumpkin I stumbled across a hearty and healthy Pumpkin, Silverbeet, Beef and Barley Soup (the pictures don’t do it justice for how good it tastes). I have made it several times now and even Israel loves to eat it. I substitute the mince for diced beef and find that it needs a little extra liquid, but otherwise is very tasty. I made this soup one night recently and then as an afterthought I realised that I should have made some bread to go with it. Time was running out but then I remembered Annabel Langbein had a Busy People’s Bread recipe. The recipe is effectively a no-knead bread that lets the dough rise in the oven as part of the cooking time. I have renamed the bread No-Knead Sunflower Seed Bread as it helps to identify the type of bread a little easier. I would liken this type of bread to that of a Vogel’s loaf. You could get a bit more creative and vary the seeds that you use for a different taste.

No-Knead Sunflower Seed Bread

No-Knead Sunflower Seed Bread
2 cups of Boiling water
4t Honey
2 cups of Cold water
7t Dry yeast granules (or 5.5t of active dry yeast)
2 3/4 cups of White flour
2 3/4 cups of Wholemeal flour
3t Salt
2 cups of Sunflower seeds
4T Pumpkin Seeds
Heat oven to 80°C then grease and line two loaf tins. Mix the boiling water and honey in a large bowl. Once dissolved add the cold water and yeast, setting aside for 10minutes. Whisk yeast mixture and then add remaining ingredients except pumpkin seeds. Pour half of the wet mixture into each of the tins, then sprinkle 2T of pumpkin seeds over each loaf. Score top of loaf so that it doesn’t split. Bake loaf for 20 minutes and then increase oven temperature to 210°C, and cook for 30-40 minutes. It should be hollow when you tap the top. Make sure you remove the bread from the tins right away and cool on a wire rack so that the moisture doesn’t absorb into the bread.
Recipe by Annabel Langbein


Strawberry Cloud Cake

Last night we invited some friends over for dinner at short notice. Occasionally we do this, by defrosting enough meat in the morning to allow for guests and then seeing if people are free on the off chance. It’s quite a fun spontaneous way to have a fun night. You never know who will end up joining you. Michael was quite keen to showcase one of his very large crayfish he got over Christmas, and some tasty Venison back steaks from his family. The only thing about a spontaneous meal is making sure you have enough fresh food to work with. I wanted to try something new for dessert and over Christmas had received an older recipe book of Annabel Langbein’s called “The Free Range Cook”. I had previously marked a whole bunch of recipes that I wanted to try and one of them happened to be a Strawberry Cloud Cake. Lucky for me I had recently purchased a few punnets of strawberries and had everything I needed to try it out. The biggest concern was that by the time I made it I would only just scrape in for the 4 hours or more freezing time, but it turned out to be just enough. I am not sure what you imagine a Strawberry Cloud Cake to taste like but it was certainly light and fluffy like a cloud might be. Our guests were also very impressed which is a bonus for such an easy recipe. I love that I can store the leftovers in the freezer for another few weeks, provided there’s anything left by then.


Sweet Treats

Why is it that this time of year is full of unhealthy food? It’s all those yummy sweet treats leading up to Christmas. I have always thought to myself that the downside of having a summer Christmas in New Zealand is that your body needs to be ready for the beach, not for hibernation in winter! Last night my family celebrated an early Christmas as it was the last time that we would all be together before Christmas. I have four gorgeous nephews and one niece, all belonging to my sister. These kids are very blessed and have a giant room overflowing with toys. I decided to give them some cold hard cash to use over the long summer break for activities or something they would enjoy. Alongside the cash was a little sweet treat for them. I made Annabel Langbein’s Swedish Chocolate Balls, coating some in Hundreds and Thousands, and some in coconut. If you wanted to theme this properly to Christmas then you could colour some coconut with food colouring and do white, red and green coated balls. I also have another recipe (handed down from my Mum) for Chocolate Snowballs which I would usually use. I am quite fond of adding the peppermint flavour instead of vanilla for variety, particularly at Christmas time. After making them both, I think I prefer the Chocolate Snowballs to the Swedish Chocolate Balls, both for taste and texture. Let’s forget all the sugar and butter inside them!


Swedish Chocolate Balls

200g butter, room temperature
1 cup caster sugar
4T cocoa
3 cups of rolled oats
2t vanilla essence
4T cold strong coffee, or water
Hundred and thousands, to coat (you may need two bottles if using only these)
Cream butter and sugar until light and fluffy. Add the cocoa, rolled oats, vanilla essence and coffee or water. Make into small balls then coat in Hundreds and Thousands (or coconut) then put in the fridge to set. They can be kept for up to a week in the fridge.

Recipe by Annabel Langbein, A Free Range Life

Chocolate Snowballs

75g butter
4T cocoa
3T milk
250g icing sugar
1 cup coconut
1 cup sultanas
1t vanilla or peppermint essence
Melt butter and then add the rest of the ingredients, mixing well. If the mixture is too wet for rolling then add more icing sugar. Roll into balls, coat in coconut and put in fridge to set.

Recipe author unknown.

Hummus and Tzatziki

It has been a busy season with many nights out and a few of those requiring babysitters. We don’t have either of my parents or parents-in-law living in Auckland which does make things a little harder. I have been careful to try rotate through my siblings and friends to babysit Israel. He is an easy baby to manage at least, so even the least baby experienced person like my younger brother can manage it. Tonight we are off to dinner with a couple who have done some work for the business, so Michael wanted to say an additional thanks to them. My good friend Wendy is kindly looking after Israel and I have organised a simple dinner for her. She is mostly vegetarian so I am just doing Falafel wraps for her. It was a great opportunity to make homemade Hummus and also a Minty Tzatziki for the wraps.

Hummus and Tzatziki

1 can of chickpeas, drained
2 cloves of garlic, crushed
1 lemon, juiced
Salt and Pepper
Pinch of chilli flakes
1/2 teaspoon of Cumin
Water, if required

Place everything in a food processor and blend until smooth, adding enough salt and pepper to your liking – approx 1/2 a teaspoon. Add a little water to make a smooth consistency.

Recipe adapted from Food In A Minute

Minty Tzatziki
1 telegraph Cucumber
1 1/2 cups of plain Yoghurt
1/2 t crushed Garlic
1 T lemon juice
2-3 T mint, finely chopped
1-2 t salt
1/2 ground black pepper
Olive oil, for serving

Peel cucumber, deseed and finely dice. Mix with all the other ingredients then chill in the fridge for at least half an hour. When ready to serve, drizzle with a little olive oil.
This makes about two cups, so you can reduce accordingly like I did to make a smaller portion.

Recipe by Annabel Langbein, A Free Range Life

Peanut Butter Cookies

It has been an ordinary day at home, although I have just realised that I haven’t sat down apart from when feeding Israel. Needless to say it has been a productive day. As a treat I thought I would try Annabel Langbein’s new Peanut Butter Cookie recipe. Surely when you combine peanuts and chocolate you get something magical. Regardless I exhibited real self control by not eating the cookie dough. I halved the recipe and decided to go for larger softer cookies rather than crunchy. It still made quite a few so I am sending some off with Michael to work.

Peanut Butter Cookies

A Free Range Life

Last night I laughed so hard that there were tears rolling down my face. There were six of us in my home for a formal dinner consisting of three courses straight from the new book ‘A Free Range Life’ by kiwi chef Annabel Langbein. Over the course of the evening I showcased ten of her recipes. I was truly amazed at how brilliantly they all turned out and how impressed my guests were. Every recipe was a hit and it was even fun explaining the ingredients that went into each item at each course. Needless to say the ladies of the group are excited to rush out and purchase their own copies of this fabulous book. I thoroughly enjoyed planning the evening and presenting the evening in a formal way. It’s not often that you get the excuse to be a little bit fancy! I love birdcage’s and took the opportunity to indulge a cheeky $12 at Kmart to purchase one and create a rustic bird theme for our dinner. We were perhaps a little too eager or over the top with the fairy lights, and although they don’t come out so great in the photos, they really did add to the atmosphere of the evening. For a real cheesy twist we also had some Table Talkers which were cards with questions written for you to ask people to find out different things about them and their lives. I had such a great night and have been very tired today. The life of a Mum doesn’t afford you any sleeping in!

The Annabel Langbein Recipes used were:
Entrée: Asparagus Tarts with Smoked Paprika Aioli
Main Course: Juicy Jerk Chicken with Roast Vegetable and Chorizo Salad
Dessert: A medley of Chilled Strawberry Mousse, Ice Cream Sandwich, Rocky Road and Caramel Crumble Slice
Party Favours: Old-Fashioned Chocolate Sauce, Blackjack Barbecue Sauce

Here is a glimpse of the evening:

The Table Setting

Rustic Dinner Birdcage Setting

Birdcage centrepiece

Birdcage Centrepiece

Birdcage Table Layout

Bird Name Place Setting

party favour for rustic theme

Menu and Table Setting

A Free Range Life Menu


Entree Asparagus Tart with Smoked Paprika Aioli

Entree of Asparagus Tart with Smoked Paprika Aioli

Entree of Asparagus Tart with Smoked Paprika Aioli


Main Course Juicy Jerk Chicken with Roasted Vegetable and Chorizo Salad

Main Course Juicy Jerk Chicken with Roasted Vegetable and Chorizo Salad

Main Course Juicy Jerk Chicken with Roasted Vegetable and Chorizo Salad

Dessert Medley

Dessert Medley of Ice Cream Sandwich, Chilled Strawberry Mouse, Rocky Road, Caramel Crumble Slice

Dessert Medley of Ice Cream Sandwich, Chilled Strawberry Mouse, Rocky Road, Caramel Crumble Slice

Holding my inspiration of the night – A Free Range Life by Annabel Langbein

Amy Pearce holding Annabel Langbein's A Free Range Life Book

I can’t wait until summer properly arrives and I can continue to try more of the summer BBQ meals from this new book. At NZ$19.95, you can’t go wrong with it.

So shiny and new

It’s a season of exciting new things! Today Annabel Langbein’s new cook book “A Free Range Life” was released. There is a lot of buzz about this on Facebook at the moment with everyone trying out her recipes. I can’t wait to give them a proper whirl this Sunday. The other exciting thing is that Shade7, where my husband works, have recently released some new lines of luxury rattan outdoor furniture. The brand name is OceanWeave Furniture, and there are some stunning pieces available. I dream of my own luxurious backyard complete with pool and spa to place these gorgeous lounges, dining sets, sun loungers and Shade7 umbrellas!

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The rights to the images above belong to Annabel Langbein and Shade7 Ltd respectively.