The Pandemic Pantry – A Windfall

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On Sunday evening a friend contacted me and asked if I would be interested in buying some organic celery and apples from a small business which had to close and was now unable to use the amount they had on hand.  I took 2 large bunches of organic celery and a couple of dozen small green apples which are also organic.

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I had a plan so it was out with the large stockpot which lives on the floor of my pantry and I was ready to make a large quantity of celery soup which is one of our favourites. The recipe below is for 1 regular bunch of celery so I actually multiplied it x 3 as the bunches of celery were huge.

CELERY SOUP

1 bunch of celery
2 medium potatoes
2 medium onions, diced
2 teaspoons vegetable stock powder
Salt and pepper
6 cups (1500ml) water

Wash and roughly chop the celery, including the leaves.  Peel and chop the potatoes.  Lightly saute the onions.  Add the remaining ingredients.  Bring to the boil then simmer until soft – at least 1 hour.  Allow to cool a little then blend until smooth.  Add more water if required to achieve desired consistency.  Adjust seasoning if necessary.

Here it is divided up and ready to freeze.

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This is a cheap and hearty meal when served with crusty bread or cheese scones.

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Then it was time to deal with the apples.  I peeled, cored and stewed them.  They are now packed away in the freezer for future use.

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I set the peels and cores aside for another project but more about that tomorrow.

 

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.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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.

Stocking Up

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Even though there are only two adults in our household, I find it worthwhile to prepare bulk amounts of various meals and ingredients for meals.

Some of the bulk preparation is due to the quantities of seasonal produce from our garden and in other instances it is simply due to the recipe or my choice to make a substantial quantity in one go.

Here are some examples of the sorts of things I do.

Single lunch serves of pumpkin soup.  This was after we had soup for dinner, it was all from one medium pumpkin picked from the garden.

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Limes cut into wedges.  Citrus are in abundance at our place at the moment and this is just one of the many ways I am using the bumper crop of limes.

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Bagged and ready to pop into the freezer for a refreshing addition to chilled water – still or sparkling (from the Soda Stream).

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A bulk quantity of refried beans done in the slow cooker.  This recipe (from Mimi all those years ago) practically makes itself.  A versatile staple that I store in the freezer.

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Spiced peanuts – I used some in the kale salad tonight and the rest will be used for future salads, that is, if GMan doesn’t snack on them all in the meantime.

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A batch of gluten free cheese scones.  These are delicious with a bowl of soup on a cool evening so I always have some in the freezer.

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What is in your stock to make preparing meals easier?

 

A Perfect Pizza

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For the past couple of years I have been making gluten-free pizza bases and tonight I want to share the recipe with you.

I have previously posted about making pizzas here but did not published the recipe as it included a specific blend of flour which was only available in the recipe book.  However, the ‘recipe’ for the flour blend is now available on the internet and you can look it up here.

The recipe below is the quantities I use.  It is actually double the original recipe and I find it makes 6 bases.

Pizza Bases

Ingredients

600g MGF flour blend
16g psyllium
2 teaspoons raw sugar
2 teaspoons salt
3 teaspoons dried yeast
40ml olive oil
520ml warm water

Method

  1.  Turn the oven on to 100 degrees C and set a timer for 5 minutes.  Turn the oven off after 5 minutes.
  2.  Place all dry ingredients in a mixing bowl.  Add warm water and oil.  Mix well.  (I use the Kitchen Aid mixer on a low speed).
  3.  The mixture will seem quite runny at first but will soon firm up as the psyllium absorbs the moisture.
  4. Cover the bowl with a clean tea towel and place in the warm oven to rise for 45 minutes.
  5. Remove from the oven and divide into 6 equal pieces.

The original recipe suggests rolling the dough out on a greased tray, allow to rise for 20 minutes then add toppings and bake for 15 minutes at 220 degrees C.

My version is a little different.  I roll the dough out on baking paper, bake on a tray for 8 minutes at 180 degrees C.  When cooled I freeze the pre-cooked bases ready for future use.

This is the pizza maker that I use which has a pizza stone set into it.

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Here is a sample of the end result.  We ate it tonight.

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NOTE:  I reuse the baking paper and store it in a ziplock bag in the freezer between uses.

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.

Cooking From the Cupboard

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My last port focused on using fresh, seasonal produce – mangoes in my case at the moment.

Tonight I am sharing what I cooked today.  Using mostly ingredients that I have on hand in the pantry, refrigerator and freezer I had a big cook-up and made the following:

Bolognaise sauce
Choc fruit and nut balls
**Pizza bases (gluten free)
**Refried beans
Chilli con carne
**Muesli (gluten free)
**Mexican quinoa

We had Mexican quinoa for dinner and have enough for our lunches on Monday.  The bolognaise sauce and zucchini noodles will be for dinner tomorrow and there are 4 serves (2 meals x 2 people) in the freezer.  6 pizza bases are are par-cooked and frozen.  8 serves of chilli con carne are in the freezer.  3 dozen choc fruit and nut balls in the freezer and ready to be added to lunchboxes.  The muesli container is refilled and will last mea couple of months.

The items marked with ** have already been covered in previous blog posts and the links can be found by clicking on the tab near the top of the blog “Recipes – Food”.

Here is the recipe for the bolognaise sauce.

BOLOGNAISE SAUCE

250g mince
1 cup dried red lentils
1 onion, finely chopped
2 cloves garlic, crushed
Frozen cherry tomatoes + dried tomato powder
1 tablespoon dried mixed herbs
2 teaspoons vegie stock powder
1/3 cup red wine

Pour boiling water over lentils – allow to stand for at least 2hours. Saute onion and garlic, add mince and brown. Add remaining ingredients and simmer for 45 minutes.

You could use canned tomatoes plus tomato paste. Mine are from the garden.

I use a large soup ladle to portion up the mixture.

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The chilli con carne is the same basic mixture but I omit the mixed herbs and add the following.

2 cups kidney beans (I soak and cook my own but you could use canned ones)
1 cup refried beans
1 teaspoon chilli powder
1 teaspoon smoky paprika
Tabasco sauce to taste

I will add the recipe for the Choc fruit and nut balls in the next day or so.