Archive for the 'Egg and Dairy-free' Category

Page 2 of 4

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…

Continue reading ‘Millet and Amaranth Pudding’

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.

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.


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.


  • 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)


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.


Continue reading ‘Herby, Garlicky Potato Salad’

Spelt Pasta with Roasted Summer Vegetables and Cannellini Beans

It’s hot this week and the kids are back in school. Since they are coming home with more and more homework, my new strategy is to try and have dinner (or most of it) ready by the time they come home.  This is easy in summer, when all you really need is a substantial salad and some form of protein. I made a soba noodle salad with pan fried tofu, lentil salad with chard and my Mexican salad just in the past 4 days. For the odd night I didn’t feel like salad, I roasted some really ripe tomatoes, that were starting to look a little dated, 2 red peppers,  zucchini and yellow squashes and a whole garlic. This turned into a delicious, flavourful sauce, which I mixed with cannellini beans, fresh basil and spelt pasta. Roasting vegetables is not my favorite thing to do in an A/C free kitchen in summertime, but I just love the taste of roasted tomatoes.  A mixture of various heirloom ones would be lovely, but any ripe tomatoes, in season and locally grown are great. If you have more than what’s asked for in this recipe, go for it and roast some more. Add them to your sandwich with fresh goat’s cheese or mozarella. Hmmm, heaven.

In case you’re having the same hesitations about turning the oven on when it’s hot outside, use the grill instead, or simultaneously roast some butternut squash pieces, beetroot or chickpeas for tomorrow’s salad. I stuck in some banana bread and muffins, our all time favourite morning tea.

Continue reading ‘Spelt Pasta with Roasted Summer Vegetables and Cannellini Beans’

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!


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)


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.


  • 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


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.

Tex-Mex-inspired Salad

I have to admit, my vacation in Mexico was a long time ago. 15 years in fact. I had just started a research semester at Baylor College of Medicine in Houston, and feeling rather lost and confused in the very different world of Texas, my best friend from Germany came to see me and whisked me off to Mexico. I don’t remember the food at all, as I was either ill or heart-broken on that trip. It turns out my boyfriend back home in Germany broke up with me on the phone while were staying on the beach in Playa del Carmen. After that it was mostly a liquid diet of margaritas and such. Shame that, as we missed out on all that lovely food. Well thankfully, my next boyfriend and now husband, who I met not much later back in Houston, is a big fan of Mexican and Tex-Mex food and he took me to some great restaurants in Austin and Houston, to make up for what I missed on holiday. Funnily enough, he also cooked for me occasionally back then. The first dinner he made was a very greasy casserole, filled with beef, beans, cheese, chilies, tortillas, tomatoes and who knows what. I had just given up vegetarianism and was smitten! The second dinner at his place was fajitas and I remember him being quite grumpy because I got talked into a beer with a friend first and arrived a bit late for dinner. I think that was the last time he cooked a whole dinner for me from start to finish. Hmmm.

Anyway, now you know all about my link to Mexican or probably more correctly, Tex-Mex food. What I call Mexican food these days in my own kitchen is probably not exactly what you can get in Mexico, but it’s close enough to Tex-Mex food, with a little less cheese in it may be. We love tacos with any filling, fajitas, burritos, salsas in all consistencies and colors and definitely quesadillas. I used to bring a stack of packages with Whole Foods whole wheat tortillas back from the States and stuck them straight into my freezer. They lasted for about 6 months, and everybody was envious of my tightly managed supply. Now of course I learned how to make my own corn tortillas but still, I am sure I’ll get some more the next time we go back. It’s such a great thing to have ready in the freezer for a quick dinner. That and Amy’s pizza… sigh.

Last night I made this salad, which I have made for years now. It’s a variation of a salad/salsa I came across so frequently back in Houston, and it’s so healthy and lovely in the summer time. Whenever I can get the first organic corn, peppers and tomatoes, it’s time for this salad. It goes really well with any fish or meat and makes a great taco filling. 

Continue reading ‘Tex-Mex-inspired Salad’

Yummy Beany Burrito

This was my lunch today:


Now you’ll probably think, “how on earth does she have the time to make herself a lunch like that on an ordinary weekday”, followed by “she must have gone out for lunch”. Actually, I made it myself, but used mostly leftovers from last night’s dinner, except for the corn tortilla, which is fresh and home made. I am getting ready for my next cooking class “Mexican Fiesta” and have been making tortillas non-stop. I went and bought myself a cast iron skillet yesterday, which makes much better tortillas than any of the pans in my cupboard. It wasn’t too expensive, even by OZ standards and is well worth it. I am also getting better at getting the right dough consistency, which just like pasta making, requires patience and practise. I watched about 20 YouTube videos, in English and in Spanish, as well as reading countless blog entries. Now you’re probably wondering why I am not going to the store and buy them instead of going through all this trouble. And believe me, I would, were we anywhere close to a place that sells good tortillas. The only thing you get in Perth is the El Paso brand and it’s relatives, which if you’re like me and religiously read through the list of ingredients, is not an option. Numbers, preservatives and additives galore. That’s why they have a shelf life of a million years.

I haven’t tried to make flour tortillas, mainly because of a good friend who is a celiac and she’s coming to one of the cooking classes. Speaking of which, I seamed to have found my calling. Mexican Cooking classes! Nothing has ever created such an interest before. So far I have 3 full classes for next month, of which all the proceeds go to a post-Christmas shopping trip to NYC! Sorry I made you think they would go to a charitable cause there for a second. Next year, I promise. This is my first profit ever, and I need to reward myself. Bingo! 

Back to food! What you see on the picture is actually a burrito – pre-wrapped. I did wrap it in aluminium foil after I took the picture. It does hold everything together so much better and keeps things warm. But you don’t have to, and for the environment’s sake, probably shouldn’t. What went in it? Pinto beans, tomato salsa fresca, brown rice, avocado slices and a sprinkle of medium cheddar cheese. Of course there are all kinds of ways to make your burrito, but I love beans in all shapes and colors and wouldn’t substitute them for anything. The salsa is straight forward; all you really need is good tomatoes, fresh coriander (cilantro), fresh chilies, onion, garlic, lime juice and salt.

As to the remaining ingredients for my burrito, I have to have avocado. I can’t really have any Mexican food without it. I also love the brown rice in it. It rounds it all up, and soaks up some of the spice, in case you went a little over board. I am pretty ambivalent about the cheese. It’s definitely not a must. That’s pretty much it. Check it out. It’s delicious, fun, good for you and the planet and you can eat it with your hands!

Continue reading ‘Yummy Beany Burrito’

Turkey and Vegetable Ragu

One of our longtime favorite dinners and that of many other families we know is ‘Spaghetti Bolognese’. This is the dish we parents feel we can really load up with vegetables and get away with it. The bowl full of pasta it comes with somehow creates so much excitement, especially among younger children, that everything else looses it’s threat. Of course there’s also the concentration it takes not to lose the pasta on it’s way from bowl to mouth and the shear pleasure of having tomato sauce all over little hands and faces.

Most likely, we all concoct our own versions of the traditional ‘ragu alla bolognese’. When done according to the books, it is made with half beef/half pork, white wine, milk, onion, celery, carrot and canned tomatoes and it is simmered for at least an hour or two to bring out all it’s delicious flavours. I have made it for years, mostly with beef, as there were no real alternatives in some of the places we lived. Whenever possible however, I try to get ground turkey thigh meat instead, which I love as a replacement of beef or pork in burgers, chilies and this ragu. I also add lot’s of vegetables and cut down on the meat part (better for the animals, us and the planet) and still tastes delicious. When in season, I stick in a couple of zucchinis, mushrooms, and a red or yellow pepper, on top of the carrots, onions, celery and garlic in the soffrito. I also use celery root instead of celery sticks, when it’s available, since it adds a lovely earthy taste. I cook it on very low heat for 2-3 hours which brings out all the wonderful complex flavors and creates a rich consistency, unlike the tomatoey, runny sauce you encounter so frequently on the children’s menu.

I make a huge pot full and freeze half of it. It’s a fantastic meal to come back to when you come home from a long day out, a weekend away or especially a holiday, when everybody is tired from the journey, laundry piles appear everywhere and the kids are in no mood for Indian take out. Grateful for my rare organisational skills, I pull the lovely frozen ragu out of the freezer, tip it into a large pot and slowly bring it back to life over low heat with the lid on. It takes about the same time to warm up as it takes to cook the pasta and the smell makes everyone happy to be back home.

Continue reading ‘Turkey and Vegetable Ragu’