Here’s the thing. If you’re someone with intolerances, it can be easy (especially in the early stages) to get caught up on what you can’t have, so much so that you can’t see the potential in what is still available to you. I seem to remember my 22 year old self having something akin to a tantrum as I read a low-FODMAP recipe book and mourned the use of onions, wheat, and chickpeas (to name a few) in my cooking.

I find a lot of the time that people don’t believe that you can make food that tastes good when it’s missing what, in Western cultures, people generally consider key ingredients. I have promised those people, and I promise you that it is possible. And not that hard – all you need is a little imagination. (You can even make good curry, but more on that later, yes?)

I’ll admit that summer and its bounty make it easy – there are tons of low-FODMAP fruits and vegetable available that need little embellishment become delicious dishes, and that’s what I’m sharing today…

Corn Fritters with Sweet and Sour Aubergine, serves 3

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For the fritters:

Kernels from 1 cob of corn
1 zucchini, grated
1 tsp lemon zest
small handful chopped fresh basil leaves
small handful chopped fresh mint leaves
scant 1/4 tsp baking soda
3 eggs
3 tbsp gluten free baking mix

Combine the corn, zucchini, lemon zest, herbs and baking mix with a fork. Make sure that the flour is coating all of the other ingredients and not hanging around in little pockets – otherwise it will make the batter lumpy. Break the eggs into a smaller bowl or cup and whisk briefly before adding them to the rest of the ingredients. Stir to combine, and you should find you have a lovely frothy mixture (that’s the baking soda at work, so you need to cook the fritters right away). If you’re making the mixture in advance, keep the eggs separate until the last minute, or the fritters won’t be lovely and light.

Bring a frying pan and a little oil to a medium heat. Cook the fritters in batches of three – each about the size of a tablespoon, for a minute or so on each side. Cooking time with vary depending on your stove and your pan, so with the first batch, cut one open to see that they’re cooked through. You can usually tell that they’ve had enough time to cook because when you flip them they don’t resist – if they’re not done they will start to break and be messy to flip.

For the Sweet and Sour Aubergine:

2 cups aubergine, cut into 1cm square cubes (this is probably half a large aubergine)
1 capsicum, chargrilled and cut into about the same size as the aubergine
1 tomato
1 clove garlic, minced (omit if you’re in the complete elimination stage of the low-FODMAP diet)
1/4 cup red wine vinegar
1 tbsp brown sugar
salt to taste
1/2 tsp chilli flakes (or to taste)
handful of flat-leaf parsley

Have you chargrilled a capsicum before? It’s very easy and a great way to add another flavour dimension to a dish. Basically you place it directly on your heat element (it’s best with gas but you can do it with an electric stovetop too) and burn it. Turn frequently until most of the skin is blackened, then wrap in cling film for 15 minutes. After 15 minutes, you’ll be able to peel most of the skin off pretty easily – it doesn’t matter if you don’t quite get all of it. Once that’s done you can pull out the stalk, scrape out the seeds and cut it up!

Sauté the aubergine in a medium pan with a little olive oil, until browned all over. Aubergine tends to want a lot of oil – a good way to avoid feeding it too much oil is to keep it covered while cooking, so it absorbs steam rather than tons of oil. Health! Once it’s nice and brown, add the vinegar and sugar, salt and chilli. Stir for two minutes (you can leave the lid off now). Finally add the tomato, garlic and capsicum and cook for another 3-5 minutes – adding salt and potentially more vinegar/sugar to taste. Finish with the parsley, finely chopped.

I had mine with some green salad, a bit of extra mint and lemon. It was a little too good.

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Is it still November? Cranberry Gingerbread Muffins

 

I get excited about Christmas. I think it’s actually getting worse as I get older. Sure, I loved Christmas day as a kid, but there seems to be so much more to the season as an adult. I have a list. It’s not like Santa’s list, it’s more activity-based: knitting projects, foods to be baked, places to visit and traditions to be upheld. And let’s not forget joining my Aunty’s church choir for the month of December. It’s important to be ready for the day.

Before you go thinking, ‘this girl is totally lame’, just know that I am having fun. And also try these muffins. I guarantee that they’ll win you over, and if they don’t, grinch away my friend.

Cranberries are not in season in spring time New Zealand, but you can get hold of frozen ones at any supermarket. Bright red and tart, they light up any dish and pair well with the heady spices associated with Christmas time. Are you ready to get excited for Christmas? (or just get excited about these muffins, because I promise you it’s they’re worth it).

Recipe: Cranberry Gingerbread Muffins

1/3 cup soy milk with a squeeze of lemon
2 medium eggs
1 tsp vanilla extract (or 2 of vanilla essence)
8 tbsp rice bran oil
1/4 cup molasses

Combine wet ingredients in a glass measuring jug and beat until eggs are completely mixed through.

1/4 cup coconut flour
1/2 cup cornflour
3/4 cup rice flour
(if you’re not making gluten free, you can just use 1 1/2 cups of wheat flour)
1 1/2 tsp baking powder
1/4 cup brown sugar
1 tsp cinnamon
1 tsp fresh ginger, grated on a microplane (you can use ground, but fresh adds an extra spicy element)
1/4 tsp cardamon

Prepare 8-10 muffin tins by greasing or lining with paper muffin liners. Preheat oven to 180.

Stir dry ingredients together, making sure to break up the brown sugar and distribute it throughout the whole mixture. Add 1 cup of frozen cranberries, each cut in half. Briefly stir the cranberries through the dry mixture – now you’re ready to pour in the wet ingredients. When you’re making muffins with wheat flour, you need to be careful not to stir too much once you’ve added the liquid to the dry ingredients. This is because the stirring ‘wakes up’ the gluten molecules, and because gluten is protein, it makes the cooked muffins tough. Of course, when you’re baking gluten free, your biggest concern is in fact getting enough protein in to the mixture to ensure that they don’t fall apart!

Lecture over.

Once you have stirred the wet and dry ingredients into a lovely gooey mixture, pour them into greased muffin tins or paper liners (I used paper liners because cleaning muffin tins is the worst).

Pop them into the oven and bake 15-20 minutes, bringing them out when a knife inserted into one lucky muffin comes out clean. Actually, I took them out while the knife was still just a tiny tiny bit sticky because they do keep cooking just a bit after coming out of the oven, and gluten free baked goods are no fun when dried out.

 

Enjoy x

Everything Pasta

I guess we could call this, Herby Roasted Carrots, Anchovy, Lemon and Goat Cheese Pasta, but that’s too many adjectives in my book. We could also call it Toasty-Roasty Bowl of Joy, but that sounds a little silly (even if that’s how I feel about it).

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This is a finishing-up-everything-in-the-fridge deal, it’s a last-day-at-the-bach-and-you’re-in-denial-about-leaving-because-the-beach-in-winter-is-totally-valid meal. It’s a lot of things really.

This is another not-really-a-recipe type of post, because you can make it with whatever you have lying around, whatever is about to start looking really sad or is on its way to smelling a bit funny…

I started by roasting some carrots with tons of rosemary, a few wedges of lemon, some goat’s feta and a little olive oil. Then I cooked up some pasta (gluten free for me, and it was only for me..) While the pasta was cooking, I fried up a clove of garlic with some celery leaves, anchovies, chilli flakes,  and sage leaves. Actually I fried the anchovies and sage separately so that they would keep their natural shapes, meaning the dish came together beautifully! Plate up with some flat-leaf parsley, and season.

You could make this with spinach instead of celery leaves, pumpkin or kumara instead of carrots, another kind of cheese, preserved lemon instead of roasted lemon… Basically, whatever you feel like and have lying around. Actually, I bet this would be good with roasted cauliflower!

Magic.

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Lemongrass Chicken Rice Paper Rolls

I can never bring myself to buy chicken that comes from a bird that spent its life in a cage. It’s just not right by me. So when I do splash out and buy meat, I want to make the most of it. I find it’s usually cheaper to find a whole free range bird on sale at the supermarket, cook the whole thing and then freeze half of the meat for another day. This way I can make real, old school, flavoursome chicken stock that reminds me of my childhood.

This time round I flavoured the chicken with lemongrass and soy and sesame, and cooked it overnight in the slow cooker. Once it was cooled, I pulled the meat off the bones and added coriander and lemon juice and a bit more soy and lemongrass for good measure. Oh, and fresh ginger. I’m not going to make this a proper written out recipe because, well, it’s more fun to balance the flavours yourself – you know what you like! Rick Stein says, “a recipe should be a tune to which you can sing your own song”, and I take that pretty seriously.

There are plenty of things to do with your yummy chicken meat – have it with noodles or rice or stir fry or salad, wherever the mood takes you. I like to make mine into rice paper rolls, adding grated carrot or capsicum or whatever salad-y greens you have on hand. Something I will give you the recipe for is a sort of a coconut sambal.

1/2 tsp cumin
juice of half a lemon
1 cup desiccated coconut
1/2 cup coconut milk
1 green chilli, deseeded and finely sliced
1 kaffir lime leaf, stemmed and finely sliced

Stir together and salt to taste. You can put this in the rice paper rolls. It’s really great.

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Sunflower Sesame Crackers

I am vaguely obsessed with these crackers. Last year, my flatmate said, ‘hey, try these crackers I made – you can eat them!’ (I should note at this point that I can’t eat a lot of foods, but that’s not what this blog is about, this blog is about what I CAN eat). So I tried, and I was sold.

The recipe is so easy that my flatmate told me how to make it one time, and that was that.

You take a cup of sunflower seeds, cover them with cold water, and you soak them for about two hours. Next you drain them, pop them in a blender and blitz until they’re half way to smooth-ish. At this point you add a cup of sesame seeds and commence blending until the mixture is kind of doughy and smooth-ish (if you reach smooth, you’re well on your way to sunflower/sesame butter, which is great but not what we’re going for here). Most of the sesame seeds will still be whole, which is a nice effect. At this point, you need a good pinch of salt and a hefty amount of cracked black pepper if you’re that way inclined. You can also add herbs – rosemary is my choice (the rosemary bush at my house is clostest to the kitchen, which may or may not be a factor here).

Now you’re ready to roll them out. Non-stick baking paper is essential at this point. If you don’t have it, go and get some because otherwise you’ll end up with crackers that are practically soldered to the baking sheet. Yes, I speak from experience. Actually, if you have a silicone baking mat – lucky you, that is perfect for this. How you roll the crackers out is up to you – I’ve tried making one giant cracker that is broken into pieces once cooked, or patting out individual crackers. Both work equally well, so long as you go for a similar thickness so that they can cook evenly – I am for about 2-5mm, give or take.

Place them in a preheated oven, at about 150°c for 20-30 minutes. You want them to dry out and maybe brown a little for flavour (but not too much). Once they’re done, you’re all set snack-wise. They have a lovely nutty flavour, pack a bit of protein to keep you going and pair nicely with some cheese and pear, or pesto, or even marmite.

Truly Lovely Lemon Curd Cupcakes

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I’m not that much of a sweet tooth, and I kind of hate cupcakes. My hatred of cupcakes is partially due to the fact that people always expected me to love cupcakes. I am the friend that bakes, so naturally I love cupcakes, right? Wrong. I think they’re generally silly looking, boring tasting and not the most interesting way to fill one’s dessert space. Sorry, (not sorry) world.

With that disclaimer out of the way, I bring you lemon curd cupcakes. My parents moved recently, and my Mum secretly left some cupcake liners/patty pans for me, with my Aunty. So then I was in the unfortunate position of simply having to make cupcakes. These ones are special, and a great way to fill one’s dessert space. They’re also dairy free and gluten free, so by my estimation, we are winning. If you’re not keen on missing out on dairy and/or gluten, you can use regular flour and melted butter.

Lemon Curd

1/4 cup lemon juice
1/4 cup white sugar
1 egg + 1 egg yolk
3 tbsp margerine or butter

Take a small pot and fill with a little water – about a quarter full, bring to a light simmer. Place lemon juice, white sugar and margerine/butter in a small bowl that fits into the top of the pot. Put the bowl in the top of the pot and stir the ingredients as they gently melt.

Whisk egg and egg yolk together in a cup. Once the other ingredients are melted, drop a tablespoon of the melted mix into the eggs, and whisk together. Do this a couple more times to temper the eggs and prevent them from cooking. Now add the egg mixture to the bowl (which is still on the simmering pot), patiently stir the mixes together until the curd starts to thicken – it may take a little while. Once it’s thickened enough to coat the back of a spoon, take it off the heat.

Place in a clean jar in the fridge to cool while you make the cupcake mixture. It will thicken more as it cools.

Cupcakes

1 cup white rice flour or your preferred gf baking mix
1/2 cup almond meal
1/2 cup dessicated coconut
1 1/2 tsp baking powder
1/2 tsp baking soda
3/4 cup yoghurt (for dairy free, I used coconut milk diluted with water)
1/2 cup white sugar
2 eggs
1/4 + 1/8 cup rice bran oil
1/4 cup lemon juice (I used grapefruit juice because I had some left over)

Preheat oven to 180°c

Sift flour, baking soda and baking powder, and gently stir almond meal, sugar and coconut through.

In another bowl, whisk eggs, yoghurt, oil and lemon juice together.

Combine wet and dry ingredients, and spoon the mix into patty pans so that they are half full. Now place a teaspoon-ful of lemon curd in the centre of each patty pan, then spoon more mixture on the top of the curd. There should be enough mix for about 12 cupcakes. My patty pans are the strong kind that don’t need to be placed in muffin tins, but you may need to do this depending on your patty pans. Place on a shelf in the middle of the oven, baking for around 15-20 minutes, depending on your oven.

To serve, top with coconut cream, more lemon curd, and flaked almonds.

Pumpkin Cinnamon Scrolls

 

The thing I miss most about the world of gluten has to be delicious breakfasty treats like this – no one seems to make them and it’s taken me about two years to really figure out how to get them right. I mean sure, when I break down once a month or so and buy an $8 loaf of bread, I miss being able to rely on something so cheap and easy, but deep down, my inability to recreate these treats was really bugging me.

Finally, I’ve got them cornered. My secret (as usual) is to add vegetables. Yeah, that’s right, I’m showing my cards this early in the game. Maybe that seems foolish, but I value honesty – I’m trying to help you out here! The biggest trick in my hand is adding veggies to gluten free baked goods, they really lend to the texture and bind-ability (yes, I just made up a word, deal).

Eating these is like getting a hug. You HAVE to eat them warm (because who doesn’t like warm hugs? Maybe people that live on a tropical island, but I digress..) Pillowy soft with sneaky crunches of hazelnut, and sweetly spicy cinnamon just… embrace you. They taste like slow mornings with coffee and crosswords. Gluten free baking doesn’t have to be scary friends, you can do it. Plus, I already did all of the making mistakes and trying bad recipes for you! You can trust this one.

2 cups gluten free flour (I used 1 1/2 cups white rice flour and 1/2 cup brown rice flour)
1 1/2 tsp baking powder
1 cup liquid (I used oat milk)
1/2 cup egg (yes, 1/2 a cup of egg)
1/4 cup margerine or butter
1/2 tsp Xanthan gum
pinch clove, nutmeg, cinnamon, ginger (it’s up to you how much spice you want)
1/2 cup mashed pumpkin flesh
3 tbsp almond meal
2 tsp yeast
1 tbsp brown sugar

Gently warm your chosen liquid until it’s a little warmer than body temperature. Throw in a pinch of salt and the brown sugar, because yeast needs food! Sprinkle in the yeast and let it sit for 5-10 minutes until the yeast becomes lovely and bubbly.

In a separate bowl, combine flours, spices, gum, almond meal and baking powder.

Melt margerine/butter and let cool a little. Whisk your eggs in there and add this to the bubbly yeasty mixture. Now combine this with the dry mixture until you have a sticky dough. Place a clean, damp teatowel over the dough and set in a warm place to rise for around 2 hours.

Filling:

1/4 cup toasted hazelnuts
1/4 cup brown sugar
2 tsp cinnamon
2 tbsp margerine

Roughly chop the hazelnuts. Melt margerine with sugar and cinnamon, and combine this with the hazelnuts.

Preheat the oven to 180°C.

Take your risen dough and roll out gently out on to baking paper. Gluten free dough isn’t as pliable as regular dough, so you’ll need to be patient, work quickly and be prepared for things to be a little rough. You’ll want to use non-stick baking paper because the dough will stick to everything! So once you’ve rolled it out into a rectangle about 1.5cm thick, spread the delicious gooey cinnamony mix over the dough, and then roll it up starting with the long edge. The baking paper will come in handy here, so you can push the dough off the paper as you roll. Now you slice the big roll into 2cm thick rounds and set on a greased baking tray. You want to give the rounds a little space on the tray, but it’s ok if they sort of touch each other and get all snuggly as they bake.

If you’re serving them to look nice, mix some icing sugar and cinnamon and sift that over top. Icing sugar is like foundation for baked goods.