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.

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.

 

A Late Lunch

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We were out and about for several hours today and since we did not start early, this included lunchtime.  Rather than stop for takeaway food, we opted to continue our quest which included buying timber and hardware as well as ordering a garden shed.

So, it was almost 3.30pm when we arrived home so I decided to make a main meal.  I am not sure whether to label it as a late lunch or early dinner but we had a delicious mushroom and bok choy risotto.

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Risotto is one of those wonderful one-pan meals that you can make using pretty well whatever ingredients you have on hand to add to the arborio rice mixture.

Here is a recipe based on what I made today but you can be as adventurous as you like when it comes to the flavours.

Mushroom and Bok Choy Risotto

Ingredients

1 cup arborio rice
1 onion, finely diced
Oil
6 medium mushrooms, sliced
1 large bok choy
2 teaspoons vegetable stock powder
1 teaspoon smoky paprika
Salt and pepper to taste
Water

Lightly saute the onion in a small amount of oil in a large pan (I use a wok).  Add the dry rice and toss until coated with oil/onion mixture.  Add stock powder, paprika and 1 cup of water.  Gently simmer, stirring occasionally and add more water as it is absorbed – about 1/2 cup at a time.  The rice will become cooked and somewhat creamy in consistency.

Meanwhile, separate the stalks from the leaves of the bok choy.  Finely slice the stalks and saute in a separate pan.  Finely shred the leaves.  When the rice is almost ready add the mushrooms, bok choy stalks and leaves.  Stir to combine and add seasoning as required.

Serve in bowls.  The risotto can be topped with shaved parmesan cheese or nutritional yeast for a vegan option.

NOTES:  I generally only add a maximum of 2 ingredients to risotto otherwise the flavours can be overwhelmed.  Other options include pumpkin and spinach, green bean and sundried tomato but you are only limited by you imagination.  You may choose to omit the paprika and substitute a can of crushed tomatoes instead of some of the water.

Celebration Cake

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In my last blog post I mentioned that I had made my own gluten free birthday cake.  I have made this cake numerous times over a period of several years and it is always well-received.

I was actually quite surprised that I do not appear to have posted the recipe on the blog previously.  The recipe was given to me by a friend from a recipe book published by Tania Hubbard but it is here on her website.  But for your convenience I have copied it below.

Chocolate Chia Seed Cake

By Tania Hubbard  , , ,

 

Ingredients

4 tablespoons chia seeds (soaked in 1 cup of water for 15 minutes)
1 cup almond meal (1 cup of pepita meal for nut-free-chocolate-cake-recipe)
1 cup coconut palm sugar (you can use less for sure)
1/2 cup cocoa (raw or dutch processed)
2 teaspoons cinnamon
125g butter (or 1/4 cup of olive oil or coconut oil)
4 medium eggs (60 gram eggs are medium)
1 teaspoon bicarbonate of soda (bicarb)
P
inch salt

Directions

Preheat oven to 180C
Line a spring form cake tin with non stick baking paper
3 Soak the chia seeds in 1 cup of water for 15 minutes, stirring regularly
4 In meantime place cocoa, eggs, almond meal, sugar, salt, bicarb and butter in a bowl
5 Whisk to combine well and break up any lumps
6 Add chia seed jelly and whisk until well combined
7 Pour into lined cake tin
8 Bake in oven for 35-40 minutes or until it bounces back when pressed in the middle
9 Let the cake cool for 5-10 minutes in the tin
10 Finish cooling on a wire cooling rack

I find that the cooking time is more like 45 minutes but it will depend on your oven.

The cake is quite dense and moist with an almost fudgy texture.  While I do serve it as a cake it lends itself particularly well to use as a dessert.

The combination of chocolate paired with fresh raspberries is perfect.

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The addition of a scoop of ice-cream or a dollop of cream would be the finishing touch.

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.

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.

Home-made High Tea

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Yesterday afternoon we had guests coming for afternoon tea.  No tiered cake plates and no photos of what we actually ate but here is the table set and ready.  A damask tablecloth, dainty china and glassware and silver cake forks.

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I wanted to make a dip and my first choice was hummus which I make regularly and I always have a good result despite that fact that I do not really use a recipe.  However, that was not to be as I realised I had no garlic.

A little earlier I had picked a pumpkin from the garden and sliced it up ready to roast. These slices were to be used on pizzas for dinner tonight.  I discovered that I had more than I would need for the pizzas so I decided to make a roasted pumpkin dip.  It couldn’t be that difficult.  The commercially-prepared roast pumpkin and cashew dip is very yummy.

I had no cashews but found a small handful of peanuts and a few pistachios (somewhat stale) and a couple of teaspoons of sesame seeds.  I tossed them all in a tray to roast in the oven for about 10 minutes then ground them in the blender.  The roasted pumpkin was added and blended.  The mixture was too dry for my liking so I added some olive oil and lemon juice bit by bit in equal measure until I achieved the desired consistency.

The next step was the flavour.  A pinch of chilli powder, 1/2 teaspoon cumin, a good grind of sea salt and black pepper and some onion flakes completed the improvisation.

Here is the finished product, garnished with some coriander from the garden.

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As well as the dip which was served with rice crackers and corn chips, I made a chocolate slice.  The guests brought some local brie and olives which were as delicious as any I have had.

A pleasant afternoon with good company, food and conversation.

Pizza Recipe – An Update

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2017-04-20 01

It has been brought to my attention that I made what could only be described as a monumental error in the recipe for the pizza bases which I posted yesterday.

There were 2 lines which were different quantities of olive oil – one line should have read ‘warm water’.  This has now been corrected and I sincerely hope that no-one has made it from the original copy.

Secondly, in response to a comment on the post I will explain a little about psyllium.  Yes, it is a laxative but that is not the reason for using it in the pizza bases.  As Monica Topliss, the author of the recipe book explains, it is the ‘secret ingredient’ in many of her gluten-free recipes as it provides the elasticity that is lacking with the absence of gluten.  Using this theory I have managed to successfully make my own gluten-free pasta.  Psyllium is also purported to assist in lowering cholesterol levels.  Here in Australia it is readily available in supermarkets and health food shops.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

An Easter Recipe

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Happy Easter!

The desktop computer will not be back in action until the middle of the week so I am struggling with and old laptop which is very slow and not responsive.  However, I am determined to persevere and bring you a recipe for gluten-free hot cross buns.

Here is the original recipe which I used for the first batch which I made on Tuesday. The only alteration I made was to add another teaspoon of psyllium husk instead of the teaspoon of xanthum gum.

The initial prototype was acceptable but I felt I could improve on the recipe a little.

The instructions said that the recipe made 8 buns so I followed this and they were much too large for my liking.  The buns also tended to spread on the tray rather than rise.  Additionally, we prefer more spice and fruit.  I made a note of this for my second attempt.

Here is my amended recipe with method and photos.  Do not be put off by the long list of ingredients.  I have divided the ingredients into separate sections accoring to the method.

GLUTEN-FREE HOT CROSS BUNS

Ingredients

1 cup sultanas
1 cup boiling water

7g dry yeast
1 teaspoon sugar
120ml warm water

24g psyllium husk
3 eggs
250ml hot water

3 cups gluten-free flour
2 teaspoons baking powder
1 teaspoons bicarb soda
1 & 1/2 teaspoons salt
75g sugar
2 teaspoons cinnamon
2 teaspoons mixed spice
Zest of 1 orange

2 tablespoons sugar
Juice of 1 orange

1 egg
1 tablespoon water

3 tablespoons gluten-free flour
Water

Method

Place sulatanas in a small bowl and cover with boiling water and allow to stand.

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Combine yeast, sugar and warm water in a small bowl and set aside to activate.

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In a another bowl combine the eggs and psyllium then add the add hot water and set aside to thicken.

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Place a large bowl of hot water in the oven and turn oven to 100C.  Set timer for 5 minutes.  After 5 minutes turn the oven off and remove the bowl.  This means the oven will be perfect for the dough to rise.

Place the flour, baking powder, bicarb, salt, sugar, spices and orange zest in a bowl and combine.  Add the yeast mixture and egg mixture and mix thoroughly.  Finally, drain the excess water from the sultanas and stir them into the dough.  This step could be done by hand but I use my Kitchen Aid mixer.

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Turn the dough onto a well-floured surface.  Although kneading is not required for gluten-free baking (no gluten to stretch) you can gently roll and fold the dough a few times before dividing it into suitable sized portions.  I weighed my balls of dough and chose to make them 75g each which yielded 17 buns.

Place balls of dough into muffin pans or on a tray and set the tray in the pre-warmed oven for 45 minutes.

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While the dough is rising prepare the egg wash to brush the top of the buns by whisking the egg and water together.  Make the mixture for the crosses.  Blend together the flour and enough water to make a smooth paste which can be piped onto the buns.  Place the flour paste into a plastic bag and snip a tiny piece off one corner.

Remove dough from the oven and turn oven on to 200C to heat while you finish the buns.  Brush with egg wash.  Pipe crosses onto the buns.

Return buns to the oven set at 200C and cook for 20 – 25 minutes.

Place the sugar and orange juice in a saucepan and simmer gently until reduced and thickened.

When the buns are cooked remove from the oven and drizzle with the orange glaze.

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Ready to eat.

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I was very pleased with the result and the final word comes from my friend who said that it was just like the commercially produced fruit loaf.  This has inspired me to try baking this recipe as a loaf which could be sliced and toasted.

NOTE:  The other variation is the type of flour used.  The original rice uses tapioca and brown rice flour.  I use my own mixture which includes both of these as well as potato and quinoa flours.  You can choose a commercial gluten-free flour or you own combination as long as it totals 3 cups.

 

 

 

 

Dinner – Risotto

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Tonight I want to share another dinner idea with you – risotto.

In no way could this be described as a recipe but more of a method.

Risotto is arborio rice cooked gently in a small amount of liquid.  Keep adding liquid and stirring regularly unto the desired tenderness of the rice is reached.

I use my large flat-bottomed wok to make risotto.

Quantities for 2 adults (sometime there is enough left for 1 lunch).

1/2 onion, finely diced
1 teaspoon stock powder
3/4 cup arborio rice
Water

This will make the basic mixture to which you can add whatever you like.  I used asparagus and sun-dried tomatoes.

Fry the onion in a little oil.  Add the rice and toss to coat thoroughly.  Add some water and the stock powder.  Simmer and stir until the water is almost absorbed and add a little more water.  Continue to do this until the rice is cooked and almost creamy.

I also added 2 teaspoons of powdered dried tomato with the water.  Finally, I stirred through some sun-dried tomatoes and fresh asparagus cut into pieces and cooked for 1 minute in the microwave.

Serve immediately with a little grated cheese if desired.

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Pumpkin and bacon, broccolini and capsicum (peppers) or sweet potato and caramelised onion are some other winning combinations.  You can experiment with different flavours but I would advise only using 2 or at the very most 3 ingredients or otherwise the flavours become overwhelmed.  The only thing I do not use in risotto is mushrooms – they turn the mix a fairly unappealing shade of grey!