Fennel, Chilli and Parmesan Grissini

Fennel, Chilli and Parmesan Grissini

This last month has been such a whirl of activity and decision making.  The project that Joel was on at work closed down which left us with a decision to make – he could find a new team here in Boulder or back in California.  We decided instead to find a way to get home and Joel will be transferring to Australia.  So the house is packed up and we are all ready to move back home to our very much missed  and very much loved Australia!

Hiking up into the foothills for 2nd grade picnic

The temptation to stay on in Boulder was great.  This has been the most incredible place I have ever lived and I feel I could make it my home.  There is the incredible ski resorts here which so many people come here for but there is so much more to this place that you don’t experience in the resorts.  We have been so fortunate to have had this opportunity to live right here in Boulder, right at the foothills with incredible hikes, brilliant schools and so many affordable activities and classes for kids to do.  On the last day of school I joined Essie’s class for a hike and a picnic.  It was such a simple, lovely idea which was so easy to do as the school backs onto the foothills.  So the two second grade classes hiked 4 miles which involved stopping for a picnic and wading through a creek.  There are signs around warning about mountain lions and bears but they are so rare that no one worries about them.  It was such an idealic activity that I’m sure Essie will treasure forever and sums up what I love about living in Boulder.  The school takes advantage of their incredible backyard and incorporate the mountains into so much of the cirriculum and kids are encouraged to be in nature and climbing trees and playing in the school playground even if it is snowing. The relaxed approach to kids just enjoying the outdoors has been so refreshing. But we decided our move here was to have an adventure and we have certainly had that and we are looking forward to returning to Australia and being settled.

Essie with flowers for the dinner tableHanging out with Tiger, the neighbours catThe school playground Climbing trees at school

Our focus now is to enjoy as much of the summer here. Boulder has just bloomed and the grass and gardens are just growing at lightning speed.  Our garden is so different now from the snow heavy garden back in May.  Our apple tree is covered in teeny tiny apples and there is plenty of shady corners for the kids to hang out with the neighbour’s cat Tiger.  We have been cooking so much and most days we have been baking fresh bread of some sort for lunch – tortillas, pita bread, bagels, white loaves, wholewheat loaves, breadrolls, focaccia and grissini.  On the weekend we had a preliminary birthday feast for Essie’s 8th birthday.  Her birthday is not for another week but we will be away as we are leaving for a holiday to the east coast tomorrow.  So the dinner request was Fish Croquettes with Dill Mayonnaise (this was just suppose to be the entree but after they were demolished there was no room for the mains)and dessert was a homemade Blackberry Chip Ice Cream Pie. The ice cream was so good!  It was a recipe from the Bi-Rite cookbook called “Sweet Cream and Sugar Cones” which is brilliant.  I added roughly chopped chocolate to the ice cream for the last bit of churning for some texture. Bi-Rite has two cookbooks out and they are my most favourite souvenirs from San Francisco and bring back happy memories of eating their yummy ice cream in Mission Delores Park.

Blackberry Chip Ice Cream PieFish Croquettes with Dill MayonnaiseMy first batch of homemade bagels

As with every school holiday I try to get the kids into the kitchen to cook some meals.  Levi cooked one complete meal without any assistance whatsoever – grilled steaks, grilled corn, mashed potato and coleslaw.  He even made the coleslaw dressing by himself.  Essie has made the Watermelon and Mint Granita with Lime Syrup from Kate Bracks’ dessert book twice which we all love.  But now that our kitchen is packed up the cooking will slow down considerably for a while.  We will have to be creative with the limited cooking utensils we have since packing up and enjoy eating out a little more.

Watermelon and Mint Granita

On the weekend we headed up north to the Greeley Stampede for the Kids Rodeo.  Joel had convinced Elliott to sign up for the Mutton Bustin’ (putting 5 and 6 year olds on the back of a sheep where they hold on for dear life as the sheep bolts across the arena).  I did not think Elliott would do it as I was sure he would be intimidated at the sight of all the other kids falling off the running sheep.  But it made him even more excited and he couldn’t wait until his turn. He had a vest and a helmet to wear and once the sheep bolted out the gate Elliott lasted only 2 seconds before falling off.  He was disappointed at his short run and really wanted another go.  It seems that Elliott is a little bit of a brave cowboy.

Mutton Bustin' at Greeley StampedeGreeley StampedeGreeley Stampede

I shared a photo of some grissini on instagram a few weeks ago and promised to share the recipe.  It is an easy recipe to make although you do need to allow time for the yeasted dough to rise.  The kids helped make the recipe and loved rolling out the dough into snakes.  Grissini is great to pop into lunchboxes with a small container of hommus for dipping or just to have on its own.  With the spices and heat from the chilli these are really tasty just as they are but would be brilliant on a antipasto platter as an appetiser.

fennel, chilli and parmesan grissini

(adapted from Annie Rigg’s book ‘Gifts from the Kitchen’)

2 3/4 cups bread flour
3 teaspoons dry yeast
1 teaspoon sea salt
1 teaspoon fennel seeds, crushed
1/4 teaspoon crushed chili flakes
3/4 cup – 1 cup milk, warmed
3 tablespoons olive oil
4 tablespoons Parmesan cheese, finely grated

In a large mixing bowl place the flour, yeast, salt, fennel and chilli.  Mix together and then make a well in the centre.  Add the warmed milk, olive oil and Parmesan and mix then knead for about 5 minutes or until the dough is smooth.

Cover the bowl and leave to rise for about one hour or until doubled in size.  Then turn the dough 0ut and knead for another minute before rolling out into a large rectangle about 5mm thick.  Cut stripes of dough that are about 1 cm wide and gently roll these to create rounded grissini sticks.  Place these on a lined baking tray.

Preheat oven to 180 degrees C (350 degrees F).  Leave the grissini to rest for 10 minutes and then bake for 10 – 12 minutes or until golden.

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13 Responses to Fennel, Chilli and Parmesan Grissini

  1. Victoria says:

    It has been a thrill to follow your adventures in the USA. I look forward to continuing to see what you are cooking and doing upon your return to Australia.

    Enjoy your trip to the East Coast. I don’t know where you are going – D.C., NY, Maine (it’s lovely, simply lovely), but wherever it is, I know it will be an adventure. You are an amazing woman – it’s hard to keep up with you, even in print.

    I wish you would add little blurbs of books you are reading, as I’m sure that would be interesting too.

    Best of luck from one of your blog friends,


    • natalie says:

      You are too kind Victoria. We are headed to NY, Cape Cod, Boston and Vermont. I can’t wait! I really wanted to get to Maine but it will have to wait for another trip hopefully. What books are you interested in – cookbooks or just anything? I’m always flicking through cookbooks but love to read just about anything. I just finished The Luminaries by Eleanor Catton which was the best book I have read for sometime. Now I’m juggling various books that I’m reading for myself or outloud to the kids – Why You Are Australian by Nikki Gemmell; Scoop by Evelyn Waugh; Ned Kelly by Peter Fitzsimons (I’m reading this to Levi); The River Charm by Belinda Murrell (I’m reading this to Tilly and Essie); How To Catch A Frog by Heather Ross; and Delancy by Molly Wizenberg. I’m not studying at the moment so there is more time to read so I’m cramming lots in! Nat x

  2. Sharolyn says:

    I love that Essie requested Fish Croquettes with Dill Mayonnaise when most kids her age would ask for McDonalds. And so lovely they are all in the kitchen with you. Just think of the lifetime of good meals ahead for you all as they grow up and invite you in to their homes to eat. It’s such a lovely gift to pass on – a love of good food AND time together around the table!

    • natalie says:

      Likewise! It took her a lot of pouring over cookbooks to decide on the special meal. She also requested her all time favourite dish – red lentil dahl. I made it but we saved it for the next night as we were so full from the croquettes. I do not like deep frying but I did for my little girl. The kids were in heaven! I do think that one day the kids will be all grown up and cook for me when I visit – I don’t want it to hurry up but I do think it will be incredibly special.

  3. Sharolyn says:

    Oh and well done Brave Cowboy Elliott! What fun!

  4. I’m really sad that you are coming back as I’ve loved your US posts. They made me feel as though I was there with you. However I fully understand your decision! Will you be back in Brisbane or somewhere else? If Brisbane, then I’ll look forward to seeing you at a bloggers event 🙂

    • natalie says:

      I’m sad too Mel! I want to come home but there is so much to love here. Boulder in particular and the schools are brilliant. We will be back in Brisbane and Joel will be travelling down to the Sydney office. We aren’t completely ruling out moving to Sydney again but we want to be in Brisbane.

  5. Oh, and when we were in NYC last year we did a few free walking tours with Free Tours by Foot – http://www.freetoursbyfoot.com/new-york-tours/ – the one of Harlem was our favourite. We also had an amazing lunch at Red Rooster Harlem. Highly recommend (and lunch would be suitable for the kids too – dinner is a bit fancier).

    • natalie says:

      We didn’t go to Harlem but I’m curious to go. We just went to Manhattan and Brooklyn. Another trip is needed!

  6. Victoria says:

    Hi, Natalie. I like all kinds of books, cookbooks too, and I have gotten some good ones you recommended, such as Turkish Flavours, which I would not have otherwise known about. I read and liked The Luminaries too and also liked Elizabeth Gilbert’s The Signature of All Things. In the past two years I have started listening to Audible books when I cook and do housework and enjoy that very much. I especially enjoyed the audio version of The Goldfinch. I don’t know if you are familiar with Neil Gaiman; he is a rather unusual fantasy fort of writer who writes for adults and young readers. I liked his book, The Graveyard Book, very much in the Audible edition. I think you would enjoy reading the novel (not the graphic novel version) or listening to the Audible version and find it at some point to be suitable for your children, maybe when they are a little older. I imagine there are lots of Audible books that would be fun to listen to with your children.

    You have a great trip set up for the East Coast – two big cities, the coast, and the mountains. I would suggest getting familiar with a map of Central Park before you get to New York City so you can plot out what you would like to see there. It is fabulous and large, and you will probably be doling out your time as you travel and won’t want to spend as much time there as you actually could. You will want to see the Alice in Wonderland statue for sure.

    Have a wonderful trip a splendid move back to the house you love and left behind for a little while. Don’t forget about us here.

    Victoria xoxo

    • natalie says:

      I have listened to a couple of audio books in the car for long trips but I try and read every night. Thanks for the NY recommendations – we did go to the Alice in Wonderland statue and we loved watching the little boats on the pond. There was just so much to see and do. There is so much in America that I wanted to see but we will just have to come back for a long holiday!

  7. Brooke says:

    Sad that we didn’t get to visit you, happy that we will hopefully see you in August! I can’t believe Elliott did rodeo! See you soon Nat!

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