Local and Leftovers

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There has been quite a bit happening here as we prepare to leave for our holiday in less than 2 weeks.

However, some things remain consistent and preparing meals is one of them.  They are not overly fancy but here is a quick snapshot of some of our recent food.

This was my Sunday brunch.  Omelette with stir-fried cabbage and a glass of freshly squeezed orange juice.  Apart from the seasonings (salt, pepper and smoky paprika), everything was sourced within 20 metres of my kitchen.  No chemicals, no packaging and no transport costs.  This is not feasible for every meal or even every day but it is quite exciting when it happens.

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Then there are leftovers.  On Saturday evening we had Mexican quinoa followed by satay chicken and vegetable stir-fry the next night.  So last night was leftovers – a multi-cultural taste sensation!  They are not flavours I would generally combine but it was a wholesome and satisfying meal.

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Note that there was cabbage in the stir-fry.  When you have several home-grown cabbage it goes into pretty well everything.  There is no photo but we also recently had baked potatoes with salad and a generous serving of coleslaw.

As a change from cabbage, today I picked these 2 beautiful heads of broccoli.  I steamed the florets of broccoli then made a tuna and tomato (with a touch of chilli) sauce to pour over them and finished with cheese and flaxseed meal topping.  A few minutes under the grill and I served it with some rice.

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There will probably be a few creative meals in the next week or so as we try to use up what is on hand as well as in the garden.

Cooking Dinner

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Now don’t get me wrong, I enjoy cooking.  However, I do not necessarily want to set aside an extended period for meal preparation every single day.  Therefore, making a larger quantity than required of some meals will save time and energy at a future time.

It also makes sense when turning the oven on to make it worthwhile.  Past generations would probably have popped in a batch of scones or a cake or baked dessert but that is not always required so a bigger batch of a meal makes sense.

Tonight I made vegetable kofta from a recipe I found some years ago in a magazine from the local Co-op food store.  I have adapted it somewhat from the original in that I do not saute the vegetables, I bake the balls rather than frying them and make slightly bigger balls than suggested.  Additionally, I doubled the mixture tonight.

Vegetable Kofta

1 onion, finely chopped
1 cup of grated sweet potato
1 cup of finely shredded cabbage
2 cups of grated cauliflower
2 tablespoons finely chopped coriander
1 teaspoon powdered ginger
1 teaspoon ground cumin
1 teaspoon tumeric
1 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon vegetable stock powder
1 teaspoon baking powder
1 and 1/2 cups chickpea (besan) flour

Combine shredded vegetables.  Combine all dry ingredients and add to vegetables.  Stir to mix thoroughly.  Add a little more flour if required.  NOTE:  The mixture will be quite wet but that is fine.  Form into balls and place on greased tray and bake at 180C for about 15 minutes.  (I turned mine after about 10 minutes).

Here they are on the tray and ready to go in the oven.

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I served them with a spicy tomato sauce (pasta style) on a bed of rice for a satisfying dinner.

They are versatile and can make a yummy lunch with a side salad or as an appetiser with tsatziki dip.

A Golden Oldie

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Prompts from several different sources inspired me to make a Lemon Delicious pudding yesterday.

First, a Facebook group post encouraged members to make a post recipes for a childhood favourite food.

Second, my brother, sister and brother-in-law were coming for dinner.  What better, than to share a dessert from our common childhood memories?

Third, another Facebook group discusses how our grandparents lived, including cooking and preparing food.

I had not made Lemon Delicious since 2012 when I began eating a gluten-free diet, however, I was not going to let that stop me.

I have posted the recipe for Lemon Delicious on the blog previously.  See here.  Unfortunately the photos have disappeared from the old post and I am unable to retrieve them.

So, here it is again – with the addition of the gluten-free option.

LEMON DELICIOUS

1 tablespoon butter
3/4 cup sugar
2 tablespoons plain flour (use gluten-free flour if required)
Juice and rind of 1 lemon
2 eggs
1 cup milk

Cream the butter and sugar.  Add flour, juice and rind.  Mix well.  Separate the eggs, add yolks and milk to mixture.  Place the whites in a separate bowl and beat until stiff.  Fold the beaten egg white into the mixture.  Pour into an ovenproof dish.  Stand the dish in a tray of water (about 2-3cm deep) and place in a moderate oven for about 30 minutes or until the top is firm to touch and golden.

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The finished product is like a lemon self-saucing pudding.  This can be served warm or cold with ice-cream, cream or custard.

NOTES:

As a nod to past generations, I did not use my Kitchen Aid mixer to cream the butter and sugar.  I used a bowl and tablespoon – hard but satisfying work.  I also beat the egg whites using a hand-held rotary beater.  The results were equally as good as any I have made previously using electric appliances.

The ‘sauce’ of the pudding was somewhat thicker than other efforts and I think this was probably due to using gluten-free flour which does tend to absorb more moisture.  I would probably ad the juice of another half a lemon in order to rectify this.  Despite this, the pudding was extremely well-received by the dinner guests and I will definitely be making it again before too long – especially as the lemon trees are absolutely laden with fruit.

 

Scones? Yes, please.

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I have never had a great deal of success baking scones but when you add the requirement to be gluten-free into the mix it really becomes a challenge.

A few years ago I acquired this book and I have mastered the scones.  I think the trick is the flour blend which is explained in the beginning of the book.

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I use the following to make 1kg of plain gluten-free flour and use the Kitchen Aid mixer to thoroughly blend the flours before storing in an airtight container.

340g brown rice flour
340g potato starch
200g arrowroot
120g quinoa flour

Here is the original scone recipe from the book.

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Please note that it has 900g of flour so makes a large batch.  I make a half mix because that is what will fit in my mixer.  A half mix makes 16 large scones using my method.

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As usual, I have adapted both the recipe and the method.  I make savoury cheese scones to serve with homemade soup but there is no reason that you could not make sweet scones.

CHEESE SCONES

400ml warm milk
40g psyllium husk

450g gluten-free flour blend (see recipe above)
8 teaspoons baking powder
1 teaspoon smoky paprika
Pinch of salt
2 tablespoons finely grated parmesan cheese

2 eggs
20ml apple cider vinegar

130g butter

Combine milk and psyllium and set aside. Combine dry ingredients and cheese.  Grate/shred the cold butter into the flour mixture.  Add the eggs and vinegar to the psyllium mixture then add to the flour mixture.  Combine until you have a soft dough.  I use the Kitchen Aid stand mixer for this but can be done by hand.

I use a 20cm x 20cm square tin lined with a silicone sheet and press the scone dough into the tray.

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Using a knife dipped in flour, cut into 16 portions.  These cuts will not remain throughout the baking process but will be a guide for the second part of the baking.  Brush with milk and bake at 180C for about 15 minutes.  The scones will not be completely cooked yet.

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Remove from the oven, lift from the pan and lay on a flat baking tray.  Using the original cuts as a guide, recut the scones and arrange on the tray with the centre ones (least cooked) on the outside and bake for another 10 minutes approximately.  Make sure the scones are spread out to allow them all to fully cook.

Whilst this is far from a ‘traditional’ scone recipe or method, it does provide a very acceptable gluten-free alternative which most people who do eat gluten are more than happy to eat.

A Month Later

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It is just over a month since my last blog post on 19th March.  The following 2 weeks were somewhat frenetic with work and also getting ready to head off on holidays to Mauritius on 1st April.  If you missed that bit of detail you can catch up with the travel news and photos on my other blog, Somewhere, Anywhere.

We arrived home yesterday morning after a 36 hour stopover in Singapore.  It was also my birthday.  Unlike my milestone birthday last year, this year was fairly low-key.  We had dinner with my sister, brother-in-law, brother and mother last night. It was lovely to catch up with them and to have someone else make dinner for me.

The weather has cooled down somewhat in the few weeks we have been away.  However, heavy showers of rain are making it a challenge to do the inevitable pile of washing that we brought home.

Cooler weather also meant that I can consider meals other than the inevitable salads.  Today we did some shopping to restock some necessities – fruit and vegetables as well as milk, cheese and Vegemite.  I spent $30 at the greengrocer, including a cauliflower for $4.  This is the upper limit of what I will pay for a cauliflower but it is still good value.  With the addition of stock powder, an onion, salt, pepper and smoky paprika I made a pot of hearty cauliflower soup.  That $4 cauliflower made 4 generous dinner serves plus 4 smaller serves suitable for lunches.  8 meals for about $4.50 seems like pretty good value to me!

Cauliflower Soup

1 full cauliflower (medium)
1 large onion, diced
2 teaspoons stock powder
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
1 teaspoon smoky paprika

Lightly fry the onion in a large saucepan/stockpot.  Remove the outside leaves and separate the florets from the stalk.  Finely slice the leaves and stalk and add to the pot.  Continue to fry for about 5 minutes.  Add the roughly chopped cauliflower florets, seasonings and enough water to just cover the vegetables.  Cover and simmer for at least an hour and add extra water if required.  Blend until smooth and serve.

Tonight we had a big bowl of soup and some buckwheat pancakes on the side.

The remaining soup has been portioned up and is ready to go in the freezer.

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And the rain is pouring down – again!!

Nothing Special

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Sometimes I don’t write any blog posts, simply because there does not seem to be anything extraordinary to write.  It is easy to forget that the little things I do day in, day out which may be just the tip that will help someone out.

Here is one of those.

We often make sweet potato chips, usually when having salmon for dinner.  I bake the chips in the oven and like to add a little bit of seasoning.  Since I eat a gluten-free diet it cannot include regular flour.

Spicy Seasoning Mix

1 cup flaxseed meal
1/2 cup buckwheat flour
1 tablespoon smoky paprika
1 teaspoon salt
2 teaspoons cumin
1 teaspoon chilli powder

This is reasonably spicy but you can adjust to suit your own tastes.

Combine all ingredients thoroughly and store in an airtight container.

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These are the chips – I usually pre-cook for a few minutes in the microwave first then drain add place in a preheated tray with a little coconut oil.

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Lightly sprinkle with spice mixture.

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When I toss them after about 10 minutes I usually sprinkle them with a bit more.

As well as for the chips I also use this mixture to coat potatoes when I am baking them.  I rub the potato with a tiny bit of oil then roll them in the spice mixture before baking them in the slow cooker for 4 hours on high.

A Couple of Classics

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It is interesting see how meals and baking have evolved over time but every now and then it is lovely to drag out some tried and true recipes.  As well as the enjoyment of eating the actual food, the memories that they evoke can be a delight.

The other day there was some discussion in an online group regarding using breakfast cereals in baking which made me remember this one which my maternal grandmother used to make.

DATE LOGS

1 cup chopped dates
1/4 cup castor sugar
30g butter
1 egg, beaten
1 dessertspoon lemon juice
1 teaspoon vanilla
1& 1/2 cups Rice Bubbles

Place all ingredients except the Rice Bubbles in a saucepan and cook gently for 10 minutes, stirring carefully.  Allow to cool.  Mix in Rice Bubbles.  Form into logs and roll in coconut.  Chill and store in the fridge.

I have not made this recipe recently but will do at some time.  I am not sure if Rice Bubbles are strictly gluten-free but you could used puffed rice which would ensure they are gluten free.

My memory of date logs is them being served for afternoon tea on a dainty oval china dish.

The second recipe I want to share with you is a simple melt and mix fruit slice which I successfully converted to a gluten-free version.  Here is the original recipe.

FRUIT SLICE

1 cup self-raising flour
1 cup mixed fruit
1 cup coconut
1/2 cup sugar
125g butter
2 teaspoons golden syrup

Combine dry ingredients.  Add melted butter and syrup.  Press into a shallow tin.  Bake in a moderate oven for 10-15 minutes.  Ice with lemon or orange icing when cool.

In order to make it gluten free I used a cup of gluten free plain flour and 2 teaspoons of baking powder.  Also, rather than mixed fruit I used 3/4 cup of sultanas and 1/4 cup of dried cranberries.  You can use any mixture of fruit that you choose.

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Since we have an abundance of passionfruit I decided to make passionfruit icing.

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They do not look overly pretty because I was racing against the clock and the icing had not completely set when I cut the slice.  However, it tasted amazing and adapted really well to the gluten free flour.

I hope you enjoy these and I will add the links to the recipe file on the front page of the blog.