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Vegan gf/df brownies with chestnut cream

I’ve now baked these brownies four times and each time they surprise me.  Such a different process and appearance to my traditional beetroot/egg batter that I have a moment of doubt: has it worked?
Yes, every time!
Just keep in mind, with no eggs or flour the end result can look more like a slice, so do use a small tray or tin to give it a chunkier appearance.

I originally found this recipe on the Rebel kitchen website – yum! – but decided on some different amounts; a couple of changed ingredients.
It’s one of those easy recipes you can whip up at the last minute (as long as you have the ingredients in your cupboard!)
Only the cashews for the cream need some forethought as they should soak at least 4 hours, ideally overnight.

No flour, no eggs, hence no rise, although there is a token 1/2 tsp of gf baking powder, which I suspect could be left out (next time…)  Hence I use a small lined tin (18cm) or tray so that when it comes to cutting into small squares they have a lovely inch height to them.
Moist, owing to the dates & almond butter.  Very chocolatey.
What else does a brownie need to be?

brownie for website

 

Ingredients

40g melted coconut oil
100g ground almonds
200g cooked chestnuts (I use vacuum packed, eg Porter Foods)
6 pitted Medjool dates
1tbsp almond butter
2tsp vanilla extract
150g dairy free dark chocolate, melted
2tbsp cocoa powder
1/2tsp gf baking powder
1 heaped tbsp coconut sugar/nectar (eg Tiana) or any sugar of your choice
Icing Sugar for dusting (optional)

Cashew cream:

200g cashews, soaked min 4 hrs, ideally overnight
Water, add slowly to get the consistency of cream (& not concrete!)
2tbsp maple syrup
juice of 1/2 lemon
2tsp vanilla essence
pinch sea salt

Method:

Note that this batter is thick and won’t pour.  I spoon into the tin, then press firmly down to the edges, the same way I would a soft pastry.  Dampen your hands if the batter’s too sticky.

Blitz the melted coconut oil and chestnuts in a food processor or other efficient high speed blender.  Add the chopped soft dates, pulse again, and then the melted chocolate, ground almonds, baking powder, cocoa and vanilla essence.  Blend well, then add the salt and sugar until it is all mixed in.
Spoon-’n-press the batter into your cake or tray tin and bake about 20-25 mins in a 150C degree oven until the edges darken.

Cashew cream:

Mix the soaked and softened cashews with the lemon juice, maple syrup and a little water in your food processor.
Add the vanilla essence and salt, then drizzle more water into the mixture until it has a creamy consistency.
Dollop some on or beside your brownie – or on anything else that will profit from a delicious creamy texture (chopped fruit on your nut muesli or porridge?  How decadent… :)

 

Vegetable Pad thai the healthy way

I had such a disappointing vegetarian Pad Thai last week in London – far too many noodles and not a single veg, bean shoot or coriander leaf to be seen.   I was hoping for the one we used to eat in Fernie (dreams of “The Curry Bowl” restaurant).
That didn’t happen….

I had a packet of flat rice noodles in the pantry and vegetables are always in the fridge so I decided to make my own version.  A jar of unopened tamarind paste has been shouting at me for so long it was about time I let it out of the cupboard.  I added prawns at the last minute as they were requested, however this is a vegetarian recipe so ignore the prawns in the photo, lol, but do feel free to add them if you want.

At this point I have to tell you that if you’re hoping for a very gloopy noodle dish,  this isn’t it.
This is vegetables with noodles not noodles with noodles.  However it is deliciously scrummy and it still has some of that comforting stickiness (released from the rice noodles) that is an important part of the Pad Thai experience!

pad thai for blog website march 2019

Ingredients (to serve two)

200g flat rice noodles, cooked (ie. soaked in boiling water; see below)
4 cm fresh ginger, grated or finely chopped
4 garlic, ditto
green part of a large leek, sliced
1 large carrot, diced or sliced
handful of spinach/kale/white pointed cabbage – or any greens, shredded
10 Brussels halved, if you like them
100g butternut squash, cubed
150 g broccoli, broken into florets
2 bok choi, roughly shredded
approx 1 cup water
2-3 tbsp coconut oil
2 tbsp sesame oil
1 tbsp tamarind paste
2-3  tbsp tamari sauce (or more however be careful not to make it too salty!)
handful of chopped coriander
2 halves lime to decorate

 

Method

First prepare the noodles:
The directions on the packet (“Thai taste”) instructed me to place noodles in a flat dish, pour over enough boiling water to cover and soak for 10 mins.
That didn’t work for me as the noodles were still quite ‘raw’.  I added extra boiling water half way through (in case that was why they didn’t go limp) and needed a good 15 minutes.  However see how your noodles comply.  Luckily, it’s easy to check how they’re softening whilst starting all the vegetables.  Remove from the water as soon as you’re happy with the desired consistency.

Heat the coconut oil; gently fry the leek until soft.  Add ginger and garlic then the butternut cubes, carrots and brussel sprouts, coating them in the oil mix before adding a little water, the  tamari and tamarind paste.  Basically you are steaming rather than frying the vegetables – healthier – so you can just start with just a little water then add more as you add the rest of the vegetables. (I left the shredded spinach and bok choy until I was almost ready to serve so they retained some crunch).

Once the vegetables are all in the pan, add the cooked noodles and the sesame oil and stir in well.  At this point you could also add cooked prawns, as in this photo.  If you were adding tofu cubes or chicken I’d recommend you marinate first in a mini mixture of ginger, garlic, tamarimand oil for a couple of hours before cooking.

Serve with chopped coriander and a quarter or half lime.  The fresh zing of the lime really adds to the flavour!

mushroom chickpea korma

This is a delicious vegan recipe which ticks all the boxes for me.  Tasty, fresh ingredients, gf/df and surprisingly quick to prepare.  Also as hot – or not – as you want.
I made it in the morning before a busy day, then warmed it through in the evening whilst the rice was cooking.  Originally a rebel kitchen recipe (the very same genius who make the dairy-free, plant based mylk in the recipe), however, tweaked and changed to make it more of an appleaday taste.
This is going to be one of our yum, easy meals during the more complicated festive cooking days – everyone in our family likes a curry!

mush korma

 

Ingredients to serve 4:

100g packet raw cashews, soaked overnight
4 tbsp olive oil or coconut oil
2 medium red onions, roughly chopped
OR if onions aren’t your friends, slice the green section of 2 leeks
4 cms piece ginger, grated
4 garlic, finely sliced
10-15 cherry tomatoes
One 400g can organic chickpeas, well drained
350g mixed mushrooms to include portabello, shiitake and any others you love, large chopped pieces
400-600 ml semi-skimmed or whole ‘Mylk’.  Amount depends on how much liquid you want your final dish to be.  I began with 400 then added more once all the ingredients were simmering.  This ‘mylk’ is a fresh coconut-based milk (which also has rice milk, salt, nutritional yeast).  If unavailable I’d recommend a coconut-based milk for this korma, in keeping with its origins.
2 generous handfuls of kale or spinach
bunch of coriander, chopped, to decorate
2 fresh limes halved, added to each individial plate
handful of flaked almonds, roasted, as a topping

Spices:
1 tsp turmeric
1 tsp crushed cumin
1 tsp powdered cinnamon
1 tsp powdered cardamom or 2 pods, crushed
1 tsp garam masala
1/2 tsp fennel seeds
1/4 tsp ground cloves
1/2-1 tsp chilli flakes, depending how hot you like it
a little sea salt

Method:

Blend the cashews with about 1/2 cup water to create a thick smooth paste.   I started with less water, then added until it was creamy but not concrete!  Again, you can adjust as you blend to create the consistency you like your curries.  All so individual!

Heat the oil in a pan, add the oinoin and brown slightely.
Add all the spices, garlic and ginger, then the roughly chopped mushrooms (I kept mine fairly large so they’d be generous mouthfuls).
Add the halved cherry tomatoes then pour in the Mylk and cashew cream. Add the chick peas and simmer for 15mins.
5 minutes before serving add the chopped kale or torn spinach leaves.
Finish each bowl with a generous amount of chopped coriander, flaked almonds and 1/2 lime for guests to squeeze as they wish.
Rice and a green tossed salad.  Easy!

 

Baba ganoush (aubergine) dip

We had a plethora of aubergines (eggplants) this year, and even now in November, here in the Ionian, they are still growing -  amazing!

One delicious way of cooking with aubergines, if you’ve had enough of grilling or making moussaka, is to roast and blend them into a middle eastern dip called baba ganoush (ghanouj).  Different spellings abound, as do the apparent origins of the name.   In Arabic, baba means father, and ganuj means pampered a.o.  The Oxford English Dictionary suggests possibly a pampered sultan made up the recipe, but I’m not convinced.  (What’s a sultan doing in the kitchen?)

baba g

Whoever first concocted this dip, I send heartfelt thanks as we’ve always loved it, even way back when in Sydney, eating at Ishmail’s in George street. Gone now, but the delicious recipe remains and can be found in loads of restaurants all over the world, hooray!  An easy one to add to your repertoire.

A dip to serve 4.
Ingredients

2 medium aubergines
2 cloves garlic, crushed
2 tbsp tahini
fresh lemon juice to taste
some sea salt
1 tsp cumin
cayenne to taste – start with a light sprinkling then adjust at the end
olive oil for roasting
1-2 tbsp virgin olive oil

Method

Halve the aubergines/eggplants and score with a knife without damaging the bottom skin.  Place on a roasting pan, skin side down, and drizzle generously with oil.  Roast at 160 degree (c 320 fahrenheit) for about 40 minutes until they look well done and dark.

Scoop out the flesh, discard the skins.  Mash with a fork adding all the above ingredients apart from the lemon juice which you add last.  You can also use a blender for a completely smooth finish if you prefer.

Taste test and add more of whichever ingredient you’d like to stand out.

Spoon into a dish and serve with toasted plantain flatbread (goes well with it if you want to be GF.  You can find the recipe on my website) – or any toasted flatbread.
Enjoy!

Laksa (vegetarian or not!)

I’ve been loving laksa for decades.  Chicken laksa, seafood laksa, vegetable laksa, you name it, That’s the great thing about this Malaysian soup, it’s so adaptable to different tastes.  Even the base paste recipe lends itself to variations – although Malaysian cooks may shudder at the thought :)

laksa

Traditionally, the paste that defines this dish is made with dried shrimp or fish sauce – also tamarind paste is in some recipes for a more sour taste.

I wanted to make a vegetarian paste to which I could add roasted wild salmon for our non-vegetarian guests.  I marinated four wild salmon fillets (3 hours) in a mix of tamari, water, chopped ginger, 1/2 tsp Chinese five spice, sesame oil, then roasted them, wrapped in baking paper, at the same time I roasted the butternut squash.

If you don’t have an oven just add the cubed root vegetables to the pot first – that delicious roasted layer of flavour won’t be there, but plenty of others will.

So this dish can be anything you want.  Vegetables only, or you can grill, roast or gently fry some tofu or fish, prawns, chicken, or all of the above and just add it at the end to your soup bowl.

Voila, you have a selection of laksa to choose from!

Serves 4

Ingredients for the paste

3 cloves garlic, chopped
5 cm ginger, chopped
5 dried kaffir leaves, ribstem removed
1/2 tsp turmeric powder
1 tbsp chopped coriander stalks from the bunchmentioned in the soup
1 tbsp chopped coriander leaves ”
1 heaped tsp organic almond or peanut butter
1 fresh finely chopped chilli – IF you are fine with a bit of heat
2 stalks lemon grass (bottom tender part only; then crush with the flat of a knife, then chop)
1 tbsp sesame oil
2 tbsp tamari sauce
juice of 1-2 limes
optional 1 tbsp water if your paste is too gluggy to handle!

The laksa soup

1 litre broth, or water with 1 heaped tbsp Marigold broth powder
2 thick slices butternut squash, to roast (or sweet potato, carrot…your choice)
200g broccoli spears
100g chopped spinach or kale or other greens you love
100g spring greens
2 large bok chop (halved or quartered)
1 bunch coriander, chopped
1 400 ml can of coconut milk
4 spring onions, chopped (for topping)
2 limes, halved

optional extra: 4 fillets of wild salmon

Method:

Roast the cubed butternut squash.  If you’re having a non-veg version add your marinated salmon to the oven as well (see first paras for marinade recipe).

Blitz all the paste ingredients together.  The taste will be intense, but don’t ‘tweak’ until later, when added to the coconut soup.

Boil your broth/water then simmer, adding the blitzed paste and the coconut milk.  Taste test!  At this point decide whether you like it as is.  Or add whatever your individual taste buds may be missing – more lime or tamari or fish sauce (if non-veg) or sesame oil?
Now add  3/4 of the chopped coriander and your greens.  Start with the tougher-leaf ones and leave the bok choy till last so it has some ‘snap’ left in it.
When ready to serve, remember to add your roasted butternut to the mix and let it warm through.

Portion the soup into four large bowls.  Add the salmon, if you’re serving a non-veg laksa.  Top it all with chopped spring onions and the remaining chopped coriander.  A wedge of lime on the side.

Ta da, your delicious laksa is served!

 

 

Thai basil stuffed mushrooms

There’s so much more than Thai basil to these stuffed portobello mushrooms but as this is the prevailing flavour in the filling, I decided to keep the name simple.
As always, my ingredients and measurements are dependant on what’s currently in season, or in our fridge!  Also, on the nature of the day.
We found loads of wild garlic on an outing yesterday so these were the main greens I used; last time I made this dish I wanted to use up broccoli as it seemed to be procreating in our fridge so that was the main green component.
If you don’t have time to roast nuts it will still taste delicious without.
There may be quite a few ‘put asides’  -  don’t be fooled.  This is not a difficult dish to make; each component flows easily.  Just those nuts need some forethought.  Keeping roasted pine nuts in a jar is very handy at times like this.  I had a friend staying who volunteered to roast them, which was another option!
Let your imagination take over and add what you love to it!  The Thai basil and mushrooms, however, must stay, otherwise you need to find a new name for this recipe :)
Delicious with just a salad alongside.  Enjoy.

best portobello

For 4 hungry people

Ingredients:

8 large portobello mushrooms
250g mixed rice such as wild/brown basmati
handful wild garlic leaves or spinach, finely shredded
2 large leaves Savoy cabbage, core removed, shredded
broccoli broken into tiny florets (c 1/4 head)
packet of Thai basil (or handful of leaves), shredded.  Put 8 aside for decoration
3 medium heritage tomatoes, chopped; I used marmonde as I loved the colour/taste & they’re currently in season
2 red onions, sliced
2 salad onions/scallions, green only, finely sliced
2 tbsp roasted pine nuts (if you have time to roast…. & watch carefully!)
Mozzarella for decoration on top – for those who want
Oil, butter or ghee for cooking; olive oil for mushroom-drizzle
balsamic vinegar, a couple of splashes
1 tbsp Marigold vegetable bouillon powder (some sea salt will do)
freshly ground pepper

Method

Remove the mushroom stems, place on a baking-paper lined oven tray and drizzle with some olive oil.  Bake in a medium oven about 10 mins.  You want the mushrooms to still hold their form and not flop.
Remove from the oven and put aside.

Cook your tomatoes next.  Start by adding the sliced onion and scallions to a pan (ghee, butter or olive oil) and fry gently until the onion colours.  Add the chopped tomatoes and some splashes of balsamic vinegar and cook over a low heat until it becomes slightly mushy.
Put this aside as well.
Use a large pot for the rice as you will be adding greens and mushed tomatoes to it by the end.  Cover the rice with enough water so it won’t boil dry.  When it’s almost cooked add a tbsp bouillon powder or some sea salt, plus all the greens – including the shredded Thai basil -  so they all steam on top.  If you find you don’t have enough water, add a little more freshly boiled water – not too much!

When the greens look wilted, and the rice is cooked to your taste, add your cooked tomatoes and mix everything together.   Add the roasted nuts at this point if you’re using them.

Spoon into the musrooms and decorate with a slice of mozzarella and a Thai basil leaf.
Place back in the oven until the cheese melts.

A salad alongside is more than enough as you have all your veg and rice carb neatly packed in the mushrooms – enjoy!

 

Spiced lamb with lentil and roasted cauliflower

I made this lentil and roasted cumin cauliflower before although as a combine dish – you’ll find it in my recipe list under July 2017.  So for anyone who would like to have a delicious vegetarian meal just add some mixed greens to the final dish – bok choy and spring greens were my choice today.

And for those eating meat, this lamb loin was tender and delicious, the marinade a real winner. I based it on a very old recipe from the Bathers Pavillion in Sydney decades ago but changed the ingredients as I didn’t want palm sugar, peanut oil or green peppers.
I had fun in the kitchen making it ‘mine’.  See what you think!

website lamb

 Ingredients for two servings:

Spice paste:

3 small red onions, roughly chopped
4 cm piece of fresh ginger, roughly sliced
4 cloves of garlic, pressed
1-2  red chilli, chopped.  The amount is up to you!
1 1/2 tbs fish sauce
70 ml olive and sesame oils
handful of chopped coriander

2 lamb loins, approx 150 g pp

 Method:

To make the spice marinade, peel, chop and press all the solid ingredients into a bowl with the oils and fish sauce.  Blend to a find paste and rub generously over the lamb loins.  Set aside for at least 4 hours – best to marinate overnight.

Heat some oil or ghee in a pan and sear the lamb loins for about 5 minutes on each side.  Place into an oven-safe dish in the rest of the marinade – I added some broth to this as I was concerned it would dry out and wanted to avoid it ‘catching’, plus I wanted some more sauce to pour over the lentils.

You can roast the cumin cauliflower at the same time, 20-25 minutes.  Both the veg and the lamb came out perfect.
Cut the loins into slices and plate up – and pour what’s left of the marinade on top, voila!

Delicious gf/df teff pancakes

Brown teff flour has become a real favourite of mine!  I buy it online from Shipton Mill; easy to work with and it has a delicious flavour.
Teff grain is gluten free and native to Ethiopia where it’s used to make the flour for their Injera fermented bread or pancakes.  I found this recipe in Naomi Devlin’s book, “Food for a happy gut”, but replaced her dairy ingredients with coconut yoghurt & milk to see if the pancakes would still work – they did!
The recipe is easy and quick but you need to plan ahead as the intial combination of milk, yoghurt and flour has to sit at least 6 hours.  I whisked these together just before bedtime the night before, covered the bowl with a tea towel ready to mix in the rest the next morning and cook up a storm for breakfast.

My first pancake is always wonky, whatever flour I use, but after that I was flying and made about 10 – all odd shapes as you can see by the photo :)
They freeze easily (just defrost and warm up in a dry, hot pan), so I’ll be trying out Naomi’s burrito recipe soon as well.
We ate ours with soft boiled eggs, grilled tamari mushrooms, shredded greens and smoked salmon, yummm.

teff pancakes blog

 

Ingredients:

130g brown teff flour
300ml coconut milk
1 tbsp coconut yoghurt (from fermented young coconuts, not coconut-flavoured dairy yoghurt!)
2 organic eggs
50g black sesame seeds
large pinch of sea salt
light olive oil or coconut oil for frying

 Method:

Plan ahead!
You need to whisk together the milk, flour and yoghrut at least 6 hours before you want to make the pancakes.  Leave at room temperature for up to 24 hours.
When you’re ready to cook, whisk in the eggs, salt and sesame seeds – add more milk if the batter is too thick.  Brush a frying pan with olive, pour in some pancake batter and swirl to give you a thin crepe – with preferably a nice round shape, unlike mine :)
Cook for about 2-3 minutes on the first side, then carefully loosen and flip over for another minute.
Keep warm in a low oven using baking or greaseproof paper between each pancake so they don’t stick, or freeze up to a month if you want to make wraps or burritos at a later date; just defrost at room temperature and warm in a dry frying pan.

Enjoy with fruit and more coconut yoghurt, or stewed apples, or savoury pancakes with a chicken filling, or with eggs….anything really.
Have fun!

Clementine Xmas cake

This was a deliciously tasty and light option for those in our family who didn’t want a traditional Christmas cake.

The cooked clementines really give it a fresh and zingy flavour – and it also happens to be gluten- and dairy free and goes down very easily after endless days of festive eating (although it’s certainly not just for Christmas :)

xmas cake website blog

 

Ingredients:

(20cm/8″ spring-form tin – or any shape you fancy!)

2 large clementines – about 200g
Zest from 1 unwaxed or organic lemon
4 organic or free-range eggs
140 g caster sugar
100ml olive oil
180g ground almonds
2 tsp gluten free baking powder

For the Syrup

12 g caster sugar
juice from a large lemon

Topping (optional)

100g dark chocolate
approx 2 tbsp butter

Method

Grease and line your tin with baking paper and preheat the oven to 180C/160C fan/Gas 4.

Place the clementines in a pot and cover with water then bring to the boil before letting them simmer for about 1/2 hr until tender.  Take out and cool, then halve and remove any pips before blitzing the clementines in a food processor until it forms a paste.

In a bowl, whisk together the eggs, lemon zest and caster sugar then add the oil and beat well until it turns a bit lighter.  Stir in the clementine paste and then fold in the baking powder and ground almonds.  Done, easy!

Now spoon the mixture into the tin of your choice and bake 50 mins.  When ready it should have a little bounce to the touch of your finger.

Meanwhile, for the syrup, warm the sugar and lemon juice in a small pan over a low heat until the sugar has dissolved.  When your cake is slightly cooled make lots of holes with a cocktail stick or suchlike and drizzle over the syrup.

Let cool completely, turn it out and either dust with icing sugar, or add the melted choc/butter mixture – and when cooled, dust it with snowy icing sugar.

Enjoy on its own or with yoghurt or cream/ice cream of your choice.  Wishing you a merry bake!

 

 

Christmas butternut porridge

This is a porridge that isn’t a porridge, and it’s creamy with no cream!  Gluten and dairy free, the smooth texture comes from the slow cooked butternut and carrot.  And that hint of Xmas is from the delicious warming spices – cinnamon, allspice and cardamom.
This breakfast porridge could easily masquerade as a dessert :)

The original recipe is from Naomi Devlin’s fab gluten free cook book but I’ve changed some amounts and ingredients to make it more to my taste.  You can play with this recipe to your heart’s content!   Try stirring in roasted nuts to the final porridge… or add fresh or dried berries or chunks of separately stewed pear.  

You can cook up a batch of the porridge and keep it in the fridge 2-3 days; I also don’t see why it couldn’t be frozen then reheated (although I’ve not had any leftovers yet in order to try this out!)

pumpkin porridge breakfast

Butternut Porridge

(serves 3 with left-over topping you can refrigerate)

2 tsp coconut oil
2 organic red apples, roughly chopped
2 large carrots, peeled and cubed (3cms)
250g butternut squash, peeled and cubed (3cms)
1tsp ground cinnamon
Pinch of cardamom
pinch of allspice
1/2 tsp vanilla

Crumble Topping

150g pecan nuts
6 tsp ground flaxseed
6 pitted dates, roughly chopped
1 tsp ground cinnamon
pinch of nutmeg

Top with dairy-free coconut yoghurt, or Greek.

Method

Melt the coconut oil in a pan and add the cored and roughtly chopped apples.  Saute about 15 mins over a medium heat until they soften.  Add the cubed carrots, lower the heat and cook for about 10 mins, stirring to ensure they don’t catch.  Add the butternut cubes to the pot and cook over a low heat for about 20 mins until everything is softened

Pour enough boiling water over the vegetables so they are just covered – not too much as the blizted end result will be too runny.
Add the spices, cover and simmer for about 45 mins, topping up the liquid only if necessary.  Allow to cool.

Meanwhile, to make the crumble, put all the ingredients into a food processor and blitz until finely ground.  Add a couple of drops of water so that it just starts to form crumbs.  If you add too much it’ll become a paste, so be frugal with the water!
What you don’t use in this recipe can be kept in the fridge for 2-3 days to use as a topping on yoghurt  etc.

Blitz the cooled veg and any cooking water in a blender until smooth, adding the vanilla as a finishing touch.
Ready to eat!  Just serve with some of the crumble topping and, if you want, a dairy-free or Greek yoghurt. Yum at all times of the year, not just Christmas!