Eggplant Pizza

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I make my own gluten free pizza bases and often have slices of roasted eggplant as one of the toppings.

Last night I took a different path and used the eggplant as the bases.   2 separate events led me to try this option.  In fact, this blog post could easily have been titled, ‘A Tale of 2 Julias’.  In 2014 we were privileged to meet a fellow blogger, Julia Davis-Coombs from Creative Economy in the Kitchen.  Julia lives on the other side of the world so it was a delight to meet her when we were on our travels.  Our shared lunch included mini pizzas made with slices of a very large zucchini as the base.  Although I have not re-created this dish, it is a meal I have not forgotten.  The second Julia was a recent online encounter with Julia B. in a group when I was canvassing ideas for a vegetarian meal and I mentioned that one of the vegetables I had on hand was eggplant.  While I did not use her suggestion that night, it seemed ideal when I came to make dinner last night.

EGGPLANT PIZZA

1 large eggplant
Sea salt
Olive oil
Pizza toppings as desired

Cut the eggplant into slices about 1 – 1.5cm in thickness.  Place on a baking tray, lightly brush with olive oil and sprinkle with sea salt.  Roast for 10 minutes at 160C.

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Remove eggplant from the oven and add toppings.  I used homemade tomato pizza sauce and mixed herbs then chopped mushroom and capsicum (bell pepper) and finally, sliced olives and cheddar cheese.

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Return pizzas to the oven for about 5 – 7 minutes.

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Serve immediately.

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This was a light and tasty alternative to a traditional pizza and perfect for lunch.

NOTE:  You do need a knife and fork when eating these.

 

Keeping it Simple

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This afternoon I posted the following question on a Facebook group.

When I was working I used to menu plan for a week at a time but not so much now.

I have no shortage of ingredients but not too much in the way of inspiration. We eat a predominantly vegetarian and also gluten free. I have eggplant, zucchini, capsicum, carrots, mushrooms and celery as well as all the usual pantry staples.

Ideas?

There were heaps of great suggestions, many of which I will save for another day but this particular one caught my eye.

I’d keep it simple. Roast the veges and toss with GF pasta spirals or chick peas, olive oil, seasoning and toasted nuts. If you’re looking for a flavour hit, Moroccan seasoning and fresh coriander is an interesting twist.

We do not eat a great deal of pasta but I do have some for occasional use.  I don’t keep Moroccan seasoning but a quick Google search revealed that it is ground cumin, paprika, ground coriander, ground turmeric, ground allspice, ground cloves, ground ginger, and ground cinnamon.  I had all of these apart from the coriander, however, I have an abundance of fresh coriander.  I had cooked chickpeas in the freezer as well as the selection of vegetables I mentioned in my original question.

So, I set to work.

Zucchini, eggplant, mushrooms and capsicum of a tray drizzled with olive oil and sprinkled with sea salt.  I cooked them for about 20 minutes at 160C.

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Chickpeas with Moroccan spices and 1/2 cup crushed tomatoes.

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Once the pasta was cooked I tossed the vegetables and chickpea mixture through the pasta, added a spoonful of olive oil and served it topped with chopped coriander and toasted sunflower seeds.

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This was really delicious and I will definitely be making it again.

Thanks, Mimi.

Midwinter Mango

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It is difficult to believe but I reached a point in February where I felt as though I never wanted to see another mango.  Fortunately, the feeling does not last and we we able to freeze some of the summer abundance.  A few months later and it was time to dive into our frozen supplies.

Mango Chicken Curry

2 chicken breast fillets
1 large onion
1 tablespoon curry powder

OR

1 teaspoon cumin
1 teaspoon turmeric
1/4 teaspoon chilli
1/4 teaspoon ginger
Fresh coriander, chopped

1 tablespoon oil
1 can coconut cream
2 fresh mangoes

OR

Frozen or canned mango

Cut onion into wedges and chicken fillets into strips.  Heat oil in a large pan, add onion and spices and fry for a couple of minutes.  Add chicken and fry until cooked.  Add coconut cream and simmer gently for 5-10 minutes.

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Add sliced mango and coriander, cook until heated through.

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Serve with rice and vegetables as desired.  We had stir-fried bok choy and snow peas.

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Serves 4

New Creation

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Our dinner last night was a previously untested creation.  GMan hailed it as a real success.  While there are recipes for Eggplant and Mushroom Stroganoff online, mine is a variation on the beef version I used to make a number of years ago.

Eggplant and Mushroom Stroganoff

1 onion, diced
1 clove of garlic, crushed
1/2 red capsicum, diced
1 medium eggplant, cubed
12 mushrooms, sliced
Olive oil
Sea salt
Freshly ground black pepper
1 teaspoon smoky paprika
2 teaspoons beef stock powder
60ml Worcestershire sauce
125g ricotta cheese
500ml water
2 teaspoons arrowroot

Spread the cubed eggplant on a roasting pan, drizzle with a little olive oil and sprinkle with salt.  Roast at 160C for about 15 minutes or until tender.

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Saute  onion and garlic in a frying pan.  Add capsicum, mushrooms and eggplant.  Add pepper, smoky paprika, beef stock powder, Worcestershire sauce and water.  Simmer gently for 10 minutes.  Add ricotta cheese stirring gently to combine.  Thicken with arrowroot blended with a little water.  Cook for a further 2 minutes.

Serve over pasta of your choice.

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NOTES:

I added some finely shredded bok choy which I lightly sauteed before stirring into the stroganoff immediately before serving.

The ricotta cheese was used because it was what I had on hand.  You could substitute cream or evaporated milk to create the creamy sauce.

I used gluten free penne pasta.  Rice would be a suitable alternative to pasta.

This made 2 generous servings.

 

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.

Winner – Chicken Dinner

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I made satay chicken for dinner tonight.  It was simple, tasty and here is the recipe.

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This is my adaptation of one I found on Best Recipes.

Satay Chicken (serves 2)

1 chicken breast fillet (cut into bite-sized pieces)
1 onion (finely diced)
1 clove garlic (crushed)
1 tablespoon peanut paste
1 tablespoon soy sauce/tamari
2 teaspoons curry powder
1/4 teaspoon Tabasco sauce
1 teaspoon brown sugar
1 teaspoon lime juice
1 cup water

Lightly fry the onion and garlic, then add the chicken pieces.  Cook for 2 – 3 minutes.  Add all of the remaining ingredients except the water.  Combine thoroughly and then add the water, mix well and simmer gently for about 15 minutes until sauce is reduced and thickened.

Serve with rice and accompaniments as desired.

French Shepherd’s Pie

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Some years ago I first heard this mentioned in an online forum.  Carol, who is sadly no longer with us, described a meal served by their French hosts which was essentially an upside-down shepherd’s pie but with much less meat than we traditionally use and with the addition of ratatouille.  I did not really take a lot of notice at the time but the general principle stuck with me and I recently created this version of my own.

First layer – mashed sweet potato – simply cooked and mashed with nothing added.

Second layer:

1 onion, finely chopped
250g mince
1 cup red lentils, soaked in 3 cups boiling water
1/4 cup Worcestershire sauce
2 teaspoons vegetable stock powder
Tomato paste, tomato sauce or 1/2 cup canned or fresh tomatoes

Saute the onion, add mince and brown, add lentils and any excess water. Add remaining ingredients and simmer until moisture is reduced and lentils are soft.  Add seasoning/flavouring as desired.

Spread the mince/lentil mixture over the sweet potato.

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Third layer:

6 mushrooms, sliced finely
1/4 large red capsicum, sliced finely
1/2 large eggplant, sliced finely
1 can crushed tomatoes
Heaped teaspoon mixed herbs

Add a small amount of oil to a pan and add the eggplant and capsicum.  After a couple of minutes add the mushroom then the tomatoes and herbs.  Simmer gently until liquid is reduced.

Add the vegetable mixture to the dish.

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Topping:

1 tablespoon each of flaxseed meal, almond meal, grated parmesan and cheddar cheeses.

Combine in a small bowl.

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You can bake this in the oven but since the components are all cooked and it really only needs heating, I heat it thoroughly in the microwave.

Finally, add the topping and place under the grill to finish off the topping.

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This is virtually a meal by itself so I simply serve it with some stir-fried cabbage.

Finely shredded cabbage tossed in a little coconut oil and seasoned with black pepper and a sprinkle of smoky paprika.

NOTE:  This is my own creation and it is based on the ingredients I had available as well as personal preference with respect to the flavours.  Change and substitute to suit your own tastes and circumstances.

Delicious Dinner

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Yesterday I worked from home so I had a larger window of opportunity for preparing dinner than I normally do on a weekday.  I even had time to take some step-by-step photographs.

As with many of the meals I make, there is no specific recipe, however, my inspiration came from this video which was posted on Facebook.  I did plan to make the enchiladas but had no way to satisfactorily slice the zucchini thinly enough to be able to roll it easily.  So, I made a lasagne.

This is the remainder of the last of the giant zucchini.

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I sliced the flesh as thinly as possible and discarded the seeds.  Some have been saved for next year’s crop.

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Next, I sliced one chicken breast fillet.  It was still mostly frozen which is useful because I find it easier to slice when semi-frozen.  When I need cooked chicken for a recipe, I steam it by placing the chicken on a cake rack over a large frying pan of boiling water.  I then place the domed lid over the top and it cooks quite quickly.

One onion (diced), 1/2 capsicum (diced), 3 birdseye chillies and a lime were the next things I prepared.

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Saute the onion and chopped chillies then add the capsicum and cook until softened.  Add the lime juice.  I only used half a lime as they were large and very juicy.

Add the shredded, cooked chicken and 1/2 can crushed tomatoes.

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Line the base of a small, rectangular dish with zucchini slices then add layers of chicken mixture, grated cheeses (I used parmesan and cheddar) and zucchini.  I also added the remainder of the can of tomatoes as I layered the dish.

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The topping is parmesan and cheddar cheese mixed with flaxseed meal for some added crunch and keep the dish gluten-free.  If this is not an issue you could use dry breadcrumbs with the cheese.

Bake in the oven until heated through and browned on top.  Alternatively, you could microwave for 10 minutes and then crisp the top under the griller.  This is what I did to avoid turning on the oven.

The meal made 3 generous adult serves from one chicken breast fillet and part of a giant zucchini which would otherwise have gone to waste.

Meals with Mango

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I like to make the most of seasonal produce.  Using what is in season means reduced costs as well as minimal transporting and often there is less packaging.

It is even better when it is grown in your garden or immediate locality.  Thanks to the generosity of some neighbours, I currently have access to an abundance of mangoes.

We have been eating them fresh but there are many ways to incorporate them into meals, too.  Here are a couple.

The other night I made mango sorbet.

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Here is the link to the recipe.  I have also added it below with some slight variations to the instructions to suit myself.

Ingredients

3/4 cup (165g) caster sugar
1 1/2 cups water
4 medium mangoes, flesh removed, peeled
1 egg white

Method

Stir the sugar and 1 1/2 cups (375ml) water in a small saucepan over a low heat until dissolved. Increase heat to high and bring to the boil. Cook, without stirring, for 5 minutes. Set aside to cool to room temperature.

Place mango flesh in a food processor and process until smooth. Transfer to a stainless steel bowl and add the cooled syrup. Cover and freeze, stirring with a fork occasionally, for 2 hours.

Use an electric beater to beat the egg white until soft peaks form. Fold into the mango mixture. Freeze for 3 hours, until just frozen. Place in a food processor and process until smooth. Return to the pan and freeze for another 3 hours or until firm.

Tonight I made mango salsa.  The ingredients are what I happened to have on hand.  You can adjust to suit your own tastes.

Ingredients

1 large mango, finely chopped
2 birdseye chillies, finely chopped
1/2 can corn kernels, drained
Juice of 1 lime

Method

Combine all of the ingredients in a bowl.

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I served the salsa with grilled chicken and brown rice.  The salsa was an interesting combination of sweet and hot which we like.  This may well be too hot for your liking so you could try finely chopped capsicum (bell peppers) instead or just a pinch of chilli powder.
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Something Different

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We usually eat salmon once every fortnight.  It is cooked the same way each time – GMan grills it on the barbecue.  I vary the accompaniments – sometimes it is kale salad or coleslaw and sweet potato fries, other times it is a a bed of sweet potato mash or wilted bok choy plus other vegetables on the side.

The other day I came across this link on Facebook.  So, I decided that I would try one for a change from our normal grilled salmon.

I made the Tomato Pesto Salmon and this is what it looked like once I had assembled it.

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Cooked, served and ready to eat.

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Even better, was the fact that the basil, tomatoes, zucchini and sweet potato were all from the garden.

I know that fresh salmon is not exactly a budget meal but with almost everything else home-grown it means that we can splash out a little on good quality meat and fish.