Archive for the 'Gluten free' Category

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Sesame Crusted Tofu with Soba Noodle Stir Fry

 

To my incredible surprise, the number of compliments I received for this sesame crusted tofu equalled all compliments I have ever gotten for making roast chicken or lamb. My family went completely gaga over it. They have always liked tofu, but never gushed over it like they did on Monday night. I have to admit, it really was very tasty, with a good crunch and great flavor. I first pressed the tofu to get rid of any excess liquid, marinaded it in a variety of things (see below) and then coated it in a simple mixture of black and white sesame seeds, cornstarch and a pinch of salt. Fried it in sesame oil and tadah!

As to the soba noodles, they are a staple in my kitchen and I use them for salads, soups and stir-fries all the time. I fry up a some ginger, a few cloves of garlic and a hot chili pepper, add vegetables and mushrooms of any kind, finish up with a seasoning of soy sauce, mirin and lime juice, add the noodles and just before serving,  sprinkle a handful of coriander, spring onions and black sesame seeds over it all. Done. The preparation is the main part, cooking takes no more than 10 minutes. Cook your soba noodles before you start on your stir-fry, taking care not to over-cook them and rinse them under cold water right after they’re done. They can sit in the colander until you are finished stir-frying the vegetables.

I fried up the tofu first and let it sit on the counter until the rest of the meal was ready. It kept its crunchiness and nobody cared that it wasn’t hot. You could however place the cooked tofu strips on a lined baking tray in a single layer and quickly reheat them in a hot oven before serving.

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Pear, Date and Ginger Crisp

This recipe came about when I was on an elimination diet a while ago. It doesn’t contain any gluten (as long as you use gluten-free oats), no eggs or dairy (ignore the ice cream…) and is sweetened with agave and maple syrup. Technically maple syrup is not “allowed” in an elimination diet, but one can only live so healthy. I named it “Vegan Pear Crisp”, but didn’t think this would be a very enticing blog title and therefore left out the ‘vegan’ bit. I love to come up with food that is enjoyable to everyone, no matter what food preference or intolerance. I now make this crisp even on diet-free occasions and have successfully used the topping over apples and berries, leaving out the ginger and dates.

I used cold pressed virgin coconut oil for the crisp topping. You can find it at health food stores and good supermarkets. The lauric acid in coconut oil is easily digested and is supposed to have antifungal, antibacterial and antiviral properties. The coconut taste isn’t detectable when the oil is used for baking. If you are unable to find it or are not in the mood to go dairy free, use melted butter instead of the coconut oil. Three to four tablespoons or 50g will do the trick. Don’t forget the chill time once you have made your topping (see method below).

I am sorry for not posting anything last week, I have been busy baking and cooking. To make up for my absence I’ll post something delicious every day this week. Stay tuned…

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Kale Salad with Baked Beets, Walnuts, Sprouts and Creamy Goat’s Cheese

I love kale in all forms and shapes and to my credit I did so even before it became fashionable. It is one of my favorite vegetables to grow during our mild Australian winters, because it is so prolific and doesn’t require a lot of attention. We had so much of it last year, I could have sold it at the market. To me, Cavolo Nero is the king of kale, but I also like the curly, rougher kind. As it’s still summer here, although not according to the calendar, I don’t have any left in my garden, but thankfully others do. So far I have mainly cooked with it, except for the baby leaves which I add to mixed green salads. On a recent stay in Los Angeles however, I discovered marinated kale in a salad at the fabulous small chain restaurant “The Veggie Grill“. I tried it out at home and discovered that if I dress the tough and chewy curly kale with balsamic dressing and let it sit for an hour or longer, it turns into a lovely and not at all tough or chewy salad. I have made it almost every day for nearly 2 weeks now and everybody who was lucky enough to taste some agreed with me. It’s divine and a welcome alternative to the good old green salad. I like to dress it up with roasted beets, toasted nuts and a little creamy fresh goat’s cheese. I also had some mung bean and broccoli sprouts which were a great addition. Give rocket and spinach a little break and try this. It makes the loveliest, most satisfying and super healthy lunch or is delicious as a side dish at the dinner table. Best of all, it doesn’t wilt like most green salads do which makes it perfect for the buffet table.

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Millet and Amaranth Pudding

A couple of days ago, I was in the mood for comfort food. The kind that reminds me of my childhood in Germany. Growing up, we used to have one sweet lunch per week. Most frequently it was rice pudding with cinnamon, sugar and sour cherries out of a jar. It still is a hugely popular dish and served in most households. You can buy special ‘rice pudding’ rice in every grocery store. My grandma also loved to make waffles or thin pancakes with apple sauce or bread pudding with vanilla sauce. I loved those lunches and I try to keep this tradition in my family. Admittedly, these are almost the only German things I cook, although I will give “Spaetzle with Lentils” another go as soon as it gets a bit cooler.  

My favorite of all the sweet dishes is rice pudding, which pretty much sustained me through out university and my slightly “larger” years.  It is so easy to prepare, always a crowdpleaser and has the added bonus of giving me a night off from chopping. Yeah! I now cook it with short grain brown rice, maple syrup and vanilla extract and serve it with fresh berries and mangoes. It is so delicious, comforting and easy. Since I try and avoid cow’s milk, I usually make mine with fresh almond milk, which works just fine. I also use almond milk to cook our oatmeal in winter and not even my cow’s milk loving men can tell the difference.

Back to a few days ago, when I had the serious ‘urge’ for pudding. I decided to swap the rice for millet and amaranth which have been begging to be used for months. They have a similar cooking time and require about 2 1/2 cups of liquid per one cup of grain. A perfect match. Both grains are wonderfully healthy, gluten-free, full of protein, b-vitamins and minerals. I still make my own almond milk, as the Australian store bought stuff is absolutely undrinkable. I soak 1 cup of almonds in filtered water over night, give them a good wash in the morning and blend them with 4 cups of fresh water in my blender. I then strain the liquid through a special almond milk bag, which I got at a local health food store. I usually freeze the left-over pulp and add it to muffin or cake batter later on. When in the States, I use the “Whole Foods” brand organic, unsweetened almond milk, but I also like the “Blue Diamond” one.

I like to give the pudding a slight Indian touch by adding a few cardamom pods, ginger and cinnamon. It is best with fresh or frozen berries and toasted almonds. If you have any left over, it makes a delicious and very sustaining breakfast the next day. I add a bit more almond milk as the pudding turns quite solid when cooled, stir it and warm it for a minute in the microwave or on the stove. Shame that it’s all gone now, writing about it makes me want to cook some more already again…

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Super Summer Salad

 

I made this salad for a dinner party last weekend assuming we’d have a typical BBQ dinner. We didn’t, we actually ate wonderful Paella, not exactly a good match to my salad. Nobody seamed to mind however and everybody dug in, young and old. We had a wonderful time sitting outside, eating this wonderful food, drinking sparkling Shiraz and enjoying good company. It really made me appreciate everything summer has to offer and even I didn’t want it to end – at least not on that night.

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Baked Sweet Potato Fries

 

I made a few changes to an earlier post, taking this recipe out and posting it again separately. These fries are lovely with lentil burgers and coriander yogurt.

Ingredients
2 medium-sized sweet potatoes*

2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil

1 teaspoon kosher salt

fresh ground pepper (about 10 turns of a pepper mill)                                       

1 teaspoon minced  fresh rosemary                                                                      

1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon, ground paprika or ground cumin, optional

*you want 1lb sweet potatoes after they are peeled, sliced, etc. If you weigh them at the store make sure you have a little more than a pound to allow for the peeling, and tossing of small brown bits.

Method

1. Preheat oven to 425 degrees (220 C). Use clean baking sheet to put fries on directly or line baking sheet with aluminium foil

2. Slice your sweet potatoes into wedges, about 1/4 to 1/2″ (1cm) thick.  Cutting them thicker can prevent the fries to crisp up, so small ones will get the best results. It’s important that the pieces are evenly sized to ensure even cooking.

3. Put the sweet potatoes in a bowl and drizzle them with olive oil. Use your hands to make sure each one is coated. If you’ve got more than a pound of sweet potatoes, add a little extra olive oil. They should all be glistening. Sprinkle with salt, rosemary and pepper and any other spices, if using. Toss well.

4. Place the fries on the baking sheet. It’s very important that they are not touching, otherwise they won’t crisp up as well.

5. Place baking sheet in pre-heated oven and set the timer for 15 minutes.
After 15 minutes take pan of oven and flip the fries. Be careful because at this point they’re quite soft.

6. Put the tray back in the oven and cook for another 15-20 minutes. Keep an eye on them, they’ll burn very quickly. They should be golden brown, crispy crunchy on the outside, and sweet and soft in the middle.

Green Lentil Hummus

The other day I cooked far too many Puy (green) lentils. I turned them into a lentil salad and lentil burgers and still had some left. A lentil hummus came to mind and that’s what I made. It has a nuttier flavour than the traditional chickpea one, but everyone loved it. I made wraps for school lunches 3 days in a row and ate the rest with cut up veggies and toasted pita chips. If you like to make things from scratch and try to avoid using cans, this one is for you. The lentils cook in less than 30 minutes without the need for pre-soaking. I cook them in plenty of boiling, unsalted water for 20-30 minutes, checking repeatedly for doneness after about 20 minutes.

The other ingredients are pretty much the same: tahini, lemon juice, olive oil, garlic, cumin, salt and pepper. I also added water, since my lentils were quite dry and I didn’t want to add any more oil. If you use canned lentils, you might not need any water or can probably use less of it.

This recipe makes a lot of hummus – perfect for a party or a large crowd.

Ingredients

  • 3 cups cooked Puy lentils (about 11/4 cups dried) or 2 cans
  • 4 small garlic cloves, minced
  • 7 tablespoons olive oil (or a little less and more water instead)
  • 4 tablespoons lemon juice
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground cumin
  • 1/2 teaspoon cayenne pepper
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons sea salt
  • 4 tablespoons water (less or more depending on the dryness of the cooked lentils)

Method

Combine all ingredients (except water) in a food processor. Depending on the consistency, slowly add water, keeping in mind that this hummus tends to thicken up a bit more in the hours to come.

Herby, Garlicky Potato Salad

Royal Blue Potatoes are in season at the moment and I love them in potato salads. They are firm and waxy and pretty with their blue skin. Of course, Kipfler potatoes and the French “La Rat” would be as delicious or even more so, but one really has to be lucky to find organic ones here in Australia. So I stick with the more readily available blue potatoes in the meantime. I like to steam them for this salad. It cooks them a little slower and I am in less danger of turning them into mush. Never a good thing, when married to an Englishman, who has the potato cooking thing pretty much in his genes.

I love to use a variety of herbs in this salad, but if I don’t have it, I just use the standards, parsley, red onion and garlic. Other herbs that work really well are tarragon, chives, mint and basil. Tarragon has a strong flavor, so better not use more than a tablespoon or two. Spring onions, thinly sliced are a great alternative to red onions, and garlic is a must. I use 3-5 small cloves, which might be too much for some of you, just start small and work yourself up to it. Good quality white wine or champagne vinegar, extra virgin olive oil and sea salt enhance the quality of this salad, so don’t skimp.

It is important to make the vinaigrette in advance. Picking, washing and chopping herbs sometimes takes longer than you think and you want it all to be ready when the potatoes are done. The warm potatoes go straight into the bowl with the vinaigrette. This way the potatoes soak in all the delicious flavors. Let the salad sit for up to an hour on room temperature, or put it in the fridge and return it to room temperature if you need it later in the day.

 

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Orange Cranberry Sauce

In case you have been wondering if I will ever post anything to accompany your Thanksgiving or Christmas turkey, here it is. My much loved orange cranberry sauce which I have been making twice a year for a decade now. I am so particular about it’s ingredients (especially the oranges), that when we lived in Thailand, I would bring organic oranges back from our holidays, because I wanted organic zest in my cranberry sauce. I would then zest the oranges and freeze it until I needed it for my holiday cooking. Thankfully, organic citrus fruit is readily available here in Australia, besides I wouldn’t want to face the frighteningly thorough people from quarantine, when they discover fresh fruit in my luggage. Oh yes, every place has it’s special quirks.

As for the cranberries, if I am outside of the US, I use frozen ones, with just as much success as fresh ones.

Got to hurry and stop reminiscing. I have just 2 hours left, before unplucking my children out of their beds and embarking on a 24 hours plane ride to Los Angeles. We’ll stop there for a few days before heading to our final holiday destination in Western Massachusetts. I think we’re all packed, the dog had his last walk before his holiday in the “Paw House” kennel, the fridge is cleaned out, the state of the house is acceptable, the ipods fully loaded and the bottle of Benadryl at the top of my suitcase.

So here we go. I’ll do some old fashioned German cookie baking once the tree is up in Massachusetts and hopefully get around to post a few pictures taken with my new camera and lenses (finally).

Happy Holidays, Merry Christmas, and enjoy the sugary and buttery delights before it’s time for New Year’s resolutions!

Ingredients

1 lbs. (450g) fresh or frozen cranberries

3/4 cups sugar

6 oranges, segmented, piths and membranes removed; juice reserved

Zest of one orange (preferably organic, or unwaxed)

Method

Pour sugar and reserved orange juice into medium saucepan over medium heat. Stir until sugar dissolves.

Add cranberries and cook just until berries start to pop, about 15 minutes. If you use frozen berries, give them a bit of a squeeze with a wooden spoon.

Remove from heat and stir in orange zest and segments.

Cool and refrigerate overnight.

Three Color Coleslaw with Apple and Sunflower Seeds

We’re now in the midst of summer here in Australia, a season very much reflected in what’s on the dinner table. The higher the temperature, the colder the food. Except for a bit of BBQ, which has it’s busiest time right around now. I make a lot of salads, with a few favorites being quinoa salads, Greek salad, pasta salad, tabbouleh, potato salad, etc. The one I go back to, if I don’t have a lot of time, is a refreshing coleslaw paired with barbecued salmon or nitrate free sausages. It takes no more than 30 minutes to make, which rarely happens in my kitchen, and yet I don’t feel like I made a nutritional compromise. My favorites cabbage is the red one. I used to eat bowls full of red cabbage slaw in my Grandma’s restaurant when I was a kid. However for coleslaw, I prefer an equal amount of red cabbage, Savoy cabbage and grated carrot. I use lemon juice for a bit of tanginess and olive oil instead of mayonnaise; an apple or two and some pre-soaked sunflower seeds. Soaking sunflower seeds for 2 hours or more, will ‘disarm’ their enzyme inhibitors, facilitating digestion and nutrient absorption. I also think they taste better.

Once I have dressed the coleslaw, I let it sit for 10 minutes or more to soften the cabbage slightly.

Ingredients

  • 1/4 red cabbage, cored and finely shredded
  • 1/4 Savoy cabbage, cored and finely shredded
  • 3 large carrots, peeled and grated
  • 1 large apple, cored and chopped
  • 1/3 cup sunflower seeds, soaked in filtered water for 2 hours
  • 1 teaspoon caraway seeds
  • 3 tablespoons lemon juice
  • 1/4 cup olive oil
  • 1/2 teaspoon light agave syrup
  • 1 teaspoon sea salt
  • freshly ground pepper

Method

Mix vegetables, apple, sunflower and caraway seeds in salad bowl.

Whisk together lemon juice, olive oil, agave syrup, salt and pepper. Taste dressing and adjust seasoning if so desired. Pour dressing over salad, mix well and let sit for 10 minutes before serving.