Tuesday, 12 December 2017

Gluten Free Breakfasts - Muesli





So what's the worst thing about being 'gluten free'? Breakfast!

I've only been wheat free for a few weeks and I think it is the way my body needs to go in the future.

So I am having to re learn things about cooking with gluten free stuff. It will take a while to readjust. The biggest problem I need to overcome is breakfast. I have been using Jamie Oliver's Buck Wheat Pancake recipewhich I really like. I do try to use a variety of fruit and my favourites are pear and blueberry.

Other days it's porridge and a smoothie. But I really like Muesli on hot days, so I have to make my own because I want to save some money as well as know exactly what I am eating. I headed into my local shop The Source Bulk Foods at Mitcham Shopping Centre and found some wonderful produce for my muesli.

I've tried mashing a ripe banana with 2 beaten eggs. Added a sprinkle of cinnamon and/or nutmeg and use this to make pancakes. I add a little coconut oil into my non stick pan and cook them for a minute or two on each side. I load them up with strawberries and blueberries and a dollop of plain yoghurt. Simple and nourishing with few calories.

Every blogger writes "this is the best (whatever) you can find". But honestly in this case the ingredients I have chosen for my Muesli taste amazing together.  I have not had to add any sweetener, except for a few sulphur free figs and a little dried fruit. (in the recipe)

This has turned out to be a  mixture of hard and soft, crunchy and smooth, fruity and nutty. I've played around with lots of ingredients to make the recipe work because  I am sure, like me you don't want to eat a mouthful of 'sawdust' for breakfast.



MY GLUTEN FREE MUESLI

Ingredients

1 cup puffed amaranth
2 cups puffed buckwheat
1 cup quinoa flakes
1 cup coconut flakes
2 tablespoons hemp seeds (Australian hemp)
2 tablespoons linseeds (flax seeds) 
4 sulphur free dried figs, chopped
1/2 cup sultanas
2 tablespoons dried cranberries, chopped
2 tablespoons sunflower seeds
1/4 cup pepitas
2 cups rolled oats
pinch cinnamon

Mix everything together and place in an air tight container. Serve with milk of your choice, fruit or yoghurt or all of these. You can change the ingredients as much or as little as you fancy. But try and keep the proportions of dried fruit  the same. Remember to give everything a good shake before you tip into a bowl so you get the full range of ingredients.

I hope you enjoy it.


Call back later I am going to road test some Breakfast Muffins.



Apologies for the lack of posts for the last few weeks - one day I will tell you the story of why!




Thursday, 2 November 2017

Five Quick Desserts

I hate to post so late during the week, but I like to think that there are some out there who would love to get stuck into some great desserts over the weekend. Enjoy!

If you need some quick desserts that will get you out of trouble when you have little time and people arriving on your doorstep?

My husband loves his desserts, but to be honest I don't have time to be making them every day, and my waistline doesn't need to have anything extra added to it. When there is dessert on offer - I eat it, and because of that I need to try and stick to something reasonably healthy, or just eat fruit, except on special occasions.

I've been stealing playing with recipes from friends and family, internet, my old recipe file and just about everywhere to come up with a few quickies.  These have seen me through a few desperate days when I needed something fast, yet good enough to serve to friends and family.

Luckily, I have a lot of rhubarb in the garden, and it is growing like crazy at this time of year.  Here are a few of my favs, with links to the websites where applicable. I have made all of them as the photos will show, and they are all fast to make and pretty darn healthy. Well, I am stretching that a little......



Roasted Rhubarb- serves 4 

a quantity of rhubarb stalks washed and chopped into large pieces
1/4 cup honey
1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
2 star anise
zest of 1 orange
1/2 cup orange juice

Chop up the Rhubarb into small lengths and place it in an oven tray. Mix together the rest of the ingredients and spread this over the rhubarb. Bake in a moderate oven 160º fan forced/180º/350º until soft, around 30 minutes. Remove star anise and serve with custard, ice cream or cream.

Alternatively, you can make this into a Rhubarb Fool. 
Whip a carton  of cream, 300mls until thick and slowly incorporate the rhubarb. Keep some of the juice aside. Now fill up some sundae dishes, glasses or whatever is at hand, dripping the juice over the top. Add a sprig of mint to finish this off. Serve by itself.






Apple - Pastry Roses

I was really impressed with the way these 'Apple Roses' looked - so pretty. This was very fast to make and I only cooked them for 30 minutes.  The only problem I found with the recipe was that after cooking the cream cheese just seemed to disappear. I have replaced cream cheese with Mascarpone and mixed in lemon zest. I found this worked much better. Also cook the apples until they are really soft so they are easier to roll.

You will find the recipe here:  
https://www.pinterest.com.au/pin/74239093841437331/




Raw Chocolate Mousse - 4 serves

2 ripe avocadoes
1/2 cup carob powder
1/3 cup honey
1/4 cup coconut milk
pinch salt

Put all of the ingredients into a food processor and blend together. Empty into a container and place in the fridge for 1 hr. Serve with fresh fruit or by itself. Just increase the quantities if you need to make for more people.




Banana and Raspberry Ice Cream - 4 serves

2 large frozen bananas, peeled
1 cup frozen raspberries/strawberries


Place the bananas and the raspberries in a food processor and pulse until it turns into ice cream. You may need to stop the machine a few times and scrape down the sides. Use immediately or store in the freezer in a sealed container. But remember to take out of the freezer for a good 10 minutes before serving, to allow it to soften. 

Its worth keeping some frozen bananas in the freezer at all times. They are great for smoothies too.  Don't forget to peel and slice them before freezing.Because it's damned hard and messy trying to peel them after they are frozen - believe me I have tried. This is fabulous on a hot day and really as good as any home made ice cream.







Thursday, 5 October 2017

Leek, Zucchini and Cheddar Cheese Hand Pies



The last time I made these Leek, Zucchini and Cheddar Cheese Hand Pies, I had a picnic in mind. Preparing to travel from Adelaide to Melbourne via the Overland train, my thoughts as usual were on food. Train food I'd heard, was pretty average which  meant I really needed to pack my own.  I anticipated a glorious picnic on the train and wanted something special to eat.

What an interesting way to experience the countryside from the Adelaide plains, through the hills to the River Murray and out into the rural and farming areas of South Australia and Victoria.

The day started well, cool morning but no rain and the train gathered speed after the hilly bits as we were heading across country at over 100 kms an hour. Compare it to the Bullet Train in Japan and that is a walking pace but it was lovely to see the River Murray from this vantage point as it curls its way down to the sea.



The sun was shining, I was reading "Girl on the Train' by Paula Hawkins and I settled down to the comfort of the Overland. We passed huge wheat silos, kangaroos and emus, sheep and baby lambs. We glimpsed the runners of the Stawell Gift, Australia's richest foot race and saw other animals and farming implements. It was a truly relaxing time.

And resting in my lunch bag was a box full of these hand pies. Cold of course. But when I opened the lid and the smell wafted out into the train all eyes were suddenly on me. Other passengers noses were in the air, they could smell the aroma coming from my lunch box and they were salivating.

Unfortunately, I didn't have enough to hand around and i felt quite guilty eating them myself because they truly were delicious.

And to avoid the same situation recurring, I've shared my recipe.



LEEK, ZUCCHINI AND CHEDDAR CHEESE HAND PIES



To make 10 - 12 pies you will need;


  • Filling
  • 1 large leek, cleaned and finely chopped
  • 1 zucchini, finely chopped
  • 1.5 - 2 cups of cheddar cheese, finely chopped or grated
  • 1 teaspoon of fresh thyme, finely chopped
  • 1 teaspoon oregano/marjoram, finely chopped
  • 1 egg beaten
  • 2 tablespoons plain yoghurt
  • 1 tablespoon olive oil
  • small nob of butter
  • 1 tablespoon flour
  • salt and pepper

Pastry

I used bought sheets of Pampas Butter Puff Pastry.


This is how you make them:-

I used a medium sized fry pan, added the oil and butter and gently cooked the zucchini, leek and herbs until they were slightly browned.

In a small bowl I added yoghurt and an egg and gave it a quick beat together. I added salt and pepper, flour and cheese and stirred until it was combined.

Once the leek and zucchini are cooked, let them cool a little, then add them to the yoghurt and egg mixture. Now cover and place in the fridge until completely cold. You can do this the day before if it is easier.

Pastry

Find something round you can used as a template for making circles. I used a mixing bowl that was  5 inches/13 cms in diameter and scored around it with a knife.  My pastry came in sheets and I managed to get 2 circles out of each sheet.



Place a large tablespoon of the mixture in the centre of the pastry circle, wet the edges of the pastry using water and a pastry bush. Now fold the pastry in half and seal the edges with your fingers. With the tip of a sharp knife, cut a small v in the top of the pastry to allow steam to escape.

Repeat with the remaining pastry and filling.


Put the pies on a baking tray lined with baking paper and bake at 200ºC/400ºF/6 for 15 - 20 minutes. Eat them piping hot or cool and refrigerate or freeze for later.






Thursday, 28 September 2017

Delicious Sweet Potato and Butternut Soup with Pistachio Pesto


Sweet Potato and Butternut Soup was my saviour. Yesterday was a miserably cold, wet day. Magpies were sitting under the verandah shivering and the wind was bitterly cold, coming straight off the Antarctic!

If you are in Northern America or Canada, you are probably laughing your head off, because our cold 14 degrees C, is nothing like your cold! But to us, it's the same as being buried in a snow drift.

That said, a good way to warm up the kitchen is to turn on the oven, chuck in some veg and get roasting. And that is exactly how this soup happened.

I had half a butternut squash, sliced it up with olive oil, salt and pepper and put it in the oven to roast. I was thinking I could use it in a vegetable stack, a salad, or a roast vegetable baguette. But as I watched the trees outside of the kitchen window, thrashing around in the wind and the spring blossom slowly disappearing down the block, I yearned for soup.




What turned this soup from being 'Soupa' to extra super was adding the Pistachio Pesto. That really did give it that extra zing. Swirl it around with a spoon of yogurt and thats one fine lunch on a cold day. This is how I made it.

This might be my last winter soup for a while because I have just checked out the weather forecast and we might be in for a tad of sunshine - whoo hoo! Summer is coming!





SWEET POTATO AND BUTTERNUT SOUP WITH PISTACHIO PESTO

For 4 serves you will need;

600g golden sweet potatoes, peeled and chopped
250g butternut pumpkin, peeled, chopped
1 brown onion, chopped
2 clove garlic, minced
1 litre of vegetable stock/stock cube/water
2 tablespoons olive oil
salt and peper
knob of butter
Spoonful or 2 of plain yoghurt

Pistachio Pesto

1/2 cup raw, shelled pistachios
3 cloves garlic crushed
1/4 cup olive oil
1/2 teaspoon salt
2 cups loosley packed basil leaves
1/2 cup parmesan cheese, grated
2 teaspoons lemon juice 

Prepare a tray with baking paper, add chopped butternut, olive oil, salt and pepper and roast in a pre heated oven 160º fan forced/ 325º/3 Gas, for 20 - 30 minutes until golden.

While the pumpkin is cooking, melt butter in large pan and add onion, and cook until transparent. Add garlic and olive oil and cook a further 2 minutes.

Place the sweet potato into the pan and mix it around until it is well coated in butter and olive oil, 3 minutes or so. You can put in your stock, water or stock cube and water at this point and allow it to come to the boil.

Add salt and pepper and turn down to a simmer. 

Just as the sweet potato begins to soften, around 20 minutes, add the cooked pumpkin. Cook for a further 5 - 10 minutes until the sweet potato is nicely soft and tasting very sweet. (You could cook the pumpkin a day ahead of time, if that works for you).

Cool a little and puree with a hand blender or food processor. The soup can be used by itself with a little extra cracked pepper and a hint of yoghurt. Or you can make the pesto while the potato is cooking.

Pistachio Pesto

Place pistachios in food processor and blend until finely chopped. Set aside.

Add cloves and salt and blend again.

Place the basil into the processor and blend until finely chopped. then again all the other ingredients, except oil and blend again.

Lastly, with the motor running, add the olive oil as a stream. Once all is blended together, check seasoning again and adjust to suit. You can now add a spoonful of this to your soup.

This pesto can be used with any pasta too.












Wednesday, 13 September 2017

A French Weekend in Melbourne

For a whole weekend, I felt I was back in France! And I was excited.

Day 1 - My long weekend started off with a delicious meal at a restaurant/Cafe in the CBD. Higher Ground is an open space of industrial beauty. Formerly a power station, the building has been transformed with arched windows, exposed brick and a host of greenery. The menu varied from Japanese Fish Soup to a medley of fennel, white beans and slow cooked carrots, very much like a Pistou Our waiter was unflappable, attentive and French! and the whole atmosphere was one of unhurried enjoyment.

Day 2  - Melbourne Writers Festival - Sheridan Jobbins, an Australian film maker has written her first book. 'Wish You Were Here' was launched by Amanda Keller, her friend and former colleague at Channel 10.  Nothing French here, but a remarkable girls' own adventure driving a car across America, alone, determined to find herself. The atmosphere at the launch and the whole vibe of Federation Square was uplifting.



Sheridan Left and Amanda Keller


















The House of Dior at National Gallery of Victoria. In celebration of its seventieth anniversary, this adorable exhibition is exclusive to Melbourne. The range of styles from 1947 - 2017 shows the immaculate workings of Haute Couture. I was pretty much blown away by the number of items on display. Hats, gloves, shoes, ball gowns, dresses of the most exquisite embroidery; beadwork, lacework and stunning fabrics. Two women, employees of Dior can be seen working away constructing garments by hand. Truly remarkable to see the way these are made with perfect hand stitching.
Exquisite bead work and gold thread on this gown - stunning.
A couple of little black dresses, Dior style









































































Just a small sample of the range of clothing on vie

On the way back to our hotel, Causeway 353 we stopped at the French Baguette Cafe, Richmond for afternoon tea. Eclairs, Blueberry Cheese cake and a Green Matcha cake - sorry we ate them so quickly I didn't have time to snap them. A celebration for daughter's birthday. 


Day 4 - Our last day in Melbourne saw us visiting family at Woodend. A lovely train ride up through the Macedon Ranges and there we are an hour later. It was a bitterly cold day and just as we were finishing lunch, down came the hail, which then turned into actual snow. It didn't settle luckily, and we headed back on the train to Melbourne, just in time to catch La Belle Miette, a French Patisserie in Collins Street.  



We couldn't resit buying a box of macarons, Lavender, Salted Caramel, Pistachio, Hazlenut, Strawberry and Blueberry. I must admit they were the best macarons I have ever eaten. We also sampled a couple of chocolates, so creamy yet not too sweet. 




Dinner with daughters at East, Little Collins Street, was delicious. The Salt and Pepper Tofu was scrumptious; soft, with a delicious crust.We ate steamed spinach dumplings, broccoli with garlic sauce, string beans and hot chilli sauce. OK so this wasn't French, but it was outstanding.

Such a terrific few days spent in great company, combined with fabulous food cooked by both of my daughters! Alas back to South Australia!

Thursday, 31 August 2017

Things I love - Zesty Cauliflower with Lentils


There are so many foods that I love to eat. They all have one thing in common; fresh food.

I've been thinking about all the different recipes I have tried over the last few weeks. Some absolutely superb, others not so. Now it might not be the recipe that has anything wrong with it, but not to my liking. And one of those recipes gave me the biggest bout of indigestion I have ever had, causing me undue belly pain for a large number of hours. Yes, I can laugh about it now, but when its happening, you think you are going to die.

I'm linking here to some of my favourite recipes on some other blog sites to give you a taste of what I like to eat.

Homespun Capers  is run by Liberty from Melbourne. One of my favourite dishes is Lentil and Leek Ragu. This is a hearty, flavoursome dish you can serve with rice, pasta or quinoa.

Cookie + Kate from Oklahoma, USA - Sweet Potato and Black Bean Taco - Yummy and spicy and very filling.


Amy from South Carolina hosts, She Wears Many Hats and has some interesting recipes, but this one is to die for - Grilled Cheese with Gouda, Roasted Mushrooms and Onions.  Scrumptious served with a bowl of soup for dinner or on its own for lunch. Yum!


I mentioned in my last blog post that I needed to find new ways using black lentils because I bought some interesting ones from Goodies and Grains at Adelaide Central Market. I was immediately drawn to the huge sack of black lentils, they were small, round and shiny, like black crystals. And the spoke to me, "buy me!"

These lentils are a variety called "Black Beluga Lentils' (named after the Beluga Caviar they resemble). They hold their shape really well and have at chewy, nutty, consistency. 


 And so I did buy them  and I have cooked them together with cauliflower rice to make this dish. You could use any black, green or brown lentil in this dish, so don't worry if you can't find the black ones. 

Cauliflowers are growing thick and fast in the veg plot so I needed to use them up too. The combination of cauliflower and lentils is deliciously creamy. It a quick recipe to prepare but it tastes as though you have been slaving over the cooker all day. Eaten straight away this dish really worked well, but eaten cold the following day, I was astounded at how good it tasted as a salad.  

Before you decide to try this recipe make sure you have a lime or too, because substituting lemons in this dish doesn't work so well. 




ZESTY CAULIFLOWER WITH LENTILS

INGREDIENTS

1/2 head of cauliflower (a whole one if it is small) 
1- 2  cups Black lentils if possible but green or brown are good substitutes,  cooked*
2 tablespoons Oil 
2 cloves garlic, crushed
1/2  a red capsicum, diced
1 onion, diced
2 tablespoons sesame seeds
a knob of fresh ginger, grated or finely chopped
1/2 cup frozen peas
salt and pepper
2 tablespoon soy sauce or Tamari
2 Spring onions, finely sliced
2 limes, zest and juice
salt and pepper

* To cook lentils quickly, place in a bowl, cover with boiling water and leave for 15 minutes. Drain the water. Put the lentils in a saucepan, cover with cold water. Bring to the boil and simmer for 10 - 20 minutes. Drain and use.

You can either grate the cauliflower or pulse it in a food processor until it is the size of rice grains.

In a large frypan, heat the oil. Add onion, garlic, sesame seeds and ginger and cook, stirring frequently until the onion is a golden brown.

Add the cauliflower and cook for around 10 - 15 minutes until it has turned the colour of honey.

Stir in the lentils, peas, red pepper, soy sauce, salt and pepper and continue to cook until the peas are heated through.

Add the zest and juice of one lime and stir through.  Serve immediately garnished with spring onions and with a quarter of lime extra.

If you have any left over - serve as a cold salad. Or make it earlier in the day and keep covered in the fridge until ready to eat.

Wednesday, 9 August 2017

Cauliflower and Chickpea Curry with Coconut





I could smell spring in the air last week! The first sign is budding on the almond tree, but then we had a day or two of high winds and torrential rain. Damn! And its's cold, so cold my bones ache.

Just as I was preparing for some warmer weather and getting my head into some salads, the rain came back. What a sluggish winter I've had - ugg boots, blankets and scarves and that's inside! Ha ha! So with that spring smell, that first bud, maybe that first blossom, its time to shake off the winter blues and set myself some monthly challenges. Here goes!

August Challenges: - 

Food - Finding new ways with black lentils. Develop new salad combinations topped with a Tahini dressing.

Fitness - Renew my fitness  regime - 10 gym sessions, 40  kms walking or hiking.

Diet - No desserts, chocolate or cakes. (Oops I had a beautiful Chocolate Brownie for my birthday yesterday - so counting from today) 

Am I up for this challenge - hell yes. What's your next challenge?

And because the winter chills are still with us I am starting off August with a favourite. Cauliflower is so versatile and I have found myself using it a lot for roasting and curries and salads. I just can't seem to get enough of it. 

Add another of my favourites, chick peas and this dish is calling my name. You can add as much or as little chilli to this recipe as you like. Depending on the strength of your chilli powder, you may start with a little and add more as it cooks. 

I also prefer to use fresh turmeric root but if you don't have that available then turmeric powder is fine.

Ok, here's the recipe.




CAULIFLOWER, LENTIL AND COCONUT CURRY

1 onion, finely chopped
3 cloves garlic, minced
1 tablespoon fresh ginger, grated
1 teaspoon ground turmeric or 11/2 teaspoons turmeric root, grated
1 teaspoon ground cumin
2  teaspoons cumin seeds
1 teaspoon garam masala
1/2 - 1 teaspoon chilli flakes
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 400g can chick peas, drained
1 400g diced tomatoes
1 head of cauliflower, cut into florets
2 tablespoon coconut oil
freshly ground black pepper
1/2 cup water
handful of fresh spinach leaves, chopped
1 400g can coconut milk

Add coconut oil to a large pan then add onion, garlic and ginger and cook until the onion is transparent. Add turmeric and rest of the spices and heat until the spices are aromatic. If they start to stick add a tablespoon of water.

Next add cauliflower florets and coat it with the spices. Add coconut milk, water and can of tomatoes and simmer covered for 15 minutes. Check seasoning, add salt and pepper and more chilli if required.

Rinse chick peas and add to the curry. If the curry is too thick add a little more water and cook until the cauliflower is just tender.

Add the chopped spinach leaves and cook until just wilted.

Serve with popadoms, rice of your choice and plenty of chutney.














Thursday, 27 July 2017

Pasta with Lentils




Haul me over the coals for being a slack blogger, because this last month has been a nightmare for me. Cold and flu and back problems aside, the time has just flown by with family issues.

Tardiness on my part has been due to a number of things; a few family health issues - can't be avoided. Trying to make a decision like 'holiday or kitchen renovation', doing my sums, looking at pros and cons for both. The holiday has won out and I will be heading to New Zealand for the first time in 2018 plus a few side trips this year to get in a little kayaking on the Murray River and to see my amazing daughters in Melbourne.

Added to this I have been furniture hunting and finally - big excuse - I have been painting my family room. Yes OK I hear you!  That's not enough to slow me down. I'm fully hand smacked! I'm raring to go now so I'm trying to keep up the weekly blog posts.

So let's do it!

There are a lot of people I know that avoid eating pasta because of the carbs. But  how can you say no to pasta totally?? Put pasta and lentils together and you have double love. Let me tell you a little story about this recipe.

A few years ago I started, with the help of many volunteers,  a 'Book Shed' in a country town in South Australia. People donated books, they were resold and the profits went to a community organisation. It was a great way for locals to get new books for a little outlay and a terrific fundraiser. 

A friend who was having a clean out gave me a pile of cookbooks for the book shed and told me to take any book for myself I would like. Amongst them was an Italian pasta cook book that caught my eye but investigating I found many of the recipes had meat in them. Lentils with pasta caught my eye and I realised I could make something with that.

I've taken the basic recipe and rejigged it to take it from an OK recipe to what I think is a great winter dish without meat. I hope you agree. I truly love this dish because it is fast to cook, comforting on a cold winter's night and tastes really, really good.


PASTA WITH LENTILS

Ingredients

250g Pasta - Rigatoni, Penne or Macaroni
2 tablespoons olive oil
1 large onion, chopped
3 cloves garlic
1/2 cup dried brown/green lentils
1 long red hot chilli, cut in half
2 -3 small potatoes, peeled and cubed
2 cups of water or stock, or half and half
1/2 bunch spinach/chard/silver beet, washed and chopped
salt and pepper
2 tablespoons parsley, chopped
grated parmesan

In a heat proof container add lentils and enough boiling water to cover. Set aside for half an hour. You can do this the day before if you are short of time.

Heat oil in fry pan and add onion and garlic. cook for a few minutes until the onion is transparent. Add the potatoes and mix until coated in oil. 
Now add enough water 1 cup at least to cover the potatoes by 5 cms. Now bring to the boil and cook for 5 mins uncovered.

Next, add the drained lentils, chilli, salt and pepper and cook for a couple of minutes.

Add the pasta and 1 cup of water, salt and pepper, half the parsley. Cook until the pasta, potatoes and lentils are soft. If the mixture looks too dry, add a little more water.
At the last minute add the spinach and allow it to wilt. If you are using silver beet, you may need to cook it a little longer.  Check seasoning and adjust to taste. Take out the chilli and discard.

Serve in a bowl with grated parmesan cheese and a sprinkling of parsley.