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.

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.

This Time Next Week………..

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…………..Christmas Day will be just about over.

This single day may be fun, joyous, tedious or whatever you choose to make it.  You may have shopped, cooked, decorated and planned for weeks or even months.  Was it worth it?

My approach to Christmas has become more low-key as the years go by.

In the meantime, life goes on and there is still washing and ironing to do as well as meals to prepare.  Tonight’s dinner is an example of my ‘speed cooking’ on weeknights after a full day at work.

I made Broccoli with Tuna Sauce which is one of my own adaptations of a recipe I saw in a magazine about 30 years ago.  There are no real quantities – just what seems reasonable.

Fry some diced onion, capsicum and a bit of Tabasco sauce.  Add a can of crushed tomatoes and 1/2 large can of tuna (shredded).  Simmer and reduce the liquid a little. Lightly steam a head of broccoli broken into florets.  Drain any excess liquid from the broccoli then pour the tuna sauce over it.  Top with grated cheese and breadcrumbs and crisp under the griller.  I use a mixture of almond meal and flaxseed meal for a gluten-free option.

This meal took 20 minutes from starting the preparation until I served it.

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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.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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.

Daily Bread

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Bread has long been a staple of our Western diet.  It comes in many and varied guises from the square white slices bagged in plastic bought from the supermarket to artisan sourdough loaves from trendy cafes and delis.

Then there is the seemingly elusive quest for a decent gluten free loaf.

Add the desire to reduce or eliminate plastic packaging and buying a loaf of bread really becomes a minefield.

For over 20 years GMan has made our bread.  This was before I began eating a gluten-free diet and we had 2 children at home.  He made white bread, grain bread and fruit loaf in a breadmaker using bread mixes from Laucke Flour Mills.  We made sandwiches, toast and toasted sandwiches – all with minimal packaging from the bread mix bags.

Things have changed and GMan now makes white bread from scratch in the breadmaker as well as fruit loaf using a premix with added fruit.  Here is a loaf he made tonight.

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The white loaf is the same shape but generally not as high.

However, his real love is sourdough bread which has led GMan on a quest to create a perfect sourdough loaf.  For those who have asked for the recipe, all I can offer is this link which he found and has followed (in general terms).  It appears to be an art and one in which I have not got involved.  After months of varying degrees of success this was the result from a couple of weeks ago.  Gman believes that it is definitely worth the effort.

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I eat very little bread these days as most gluten-free breads are not that great, expensive and heavily packaged in plastic.

Credit to inspired + delicious Facebook page for this bread recipe.

1 cup buckwheat groats
2 cups hot water (almost boiling)
1 tablespoon apple cider vinegar
5 tablespoons psyllium husk
1/2 teaspoon bicarb soda
1 egg
2 tablespoons olive oil

Soak the buckwheat in hot water with apple cider vinegar overnight.

Next day, place buckwheat plus liquid in a blender and blend until smooth.  Add remaining ingredients and blend well.  Place mixture in a greased, lined loaf tin and allow to stand for 15 – 30minutes to allow psyllium to soak in properly.  Bake at 200C until browned and it bounces back when you poke it.  This is approximately 30 – 40 minutes.

This is the basic recipe but you can add whatever else you choose.

My first loaf had a handful each of sunflower seeds and pepitas added to the basic mixture.

Here are a couple of slices toasted.  While it is perfectly edible as bread it is really delicious as toast.

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One of the things I do miss about bread is having grilled cheese on toast.  This is not an everyday food but an occasional treat.  I really enjoyed this for lunch the other day.

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Since I regarded my first attempt as a success, I decided to expand my repertoire and modify it to make a spicy fruit loaf.  I added 1 and 1/2 teaspoons of mixed spice, 1/2 teaspoon of cinnamon, some sultanas and dried cranberries and omitted the pepitas.

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I am now happily dreaming of other flavour options.  I think the next attempt may be a savoury one – sun-dried tomato and olive.

While I am not going to be eating bread for every meal, it is great to have a plastic-free, unpackaged, gluten-free bread that is quick and easy to make.

Unpackaged bread has been my major success for Plastic-Free July this year.

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A Sweet Treat

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Here is a simple and delicious idea for those occasions when you need to produce a shared plate of sweets.

3 ingredients – a packet of gingernut biscuits, whipping cream and strawberries.

Pre-heat the oven to 150C.  Place the biscuits on a baking tray in the oven for 5 – 8 minutes.  This will soften the biscuits slightly.  Place the biscuit between 2 soup spoons and press together.

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This will create a slightly bowl-shaped biscuit case once it is cooled.

You will need to work fairly quickly so that all of the biscuits remain softened until you press them into shape.  To do this I leave the tray in the oven with the door open and take them out one at a time.

Once the biscuit cases are prepared , they can be stored in an airtight container until you are ready to use them.

Whip the cream and place a dollop into each biscuit case and top with a wedge of fresh strawberry.

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These are best assembled just before serving but the cream can be whipped beforehand along with cutting up the strawberries.

GMan is took these to work yesterday for a special morning tea.  The biscuit cases in an airtight container, the whipped cream in a jar and the pre-cut strawberries in another container.  They only took a few minutes to assemble and were voted a clear winner.

If strawberries are not in season you can use any fruit – a sliver of mango or kiwifruit are good, too.  However, my favourite is a piece of crystallised ginger on top.

Option: use gluten-free gingernut biscuits to make this gluten-free.