Tuesday, 16 September 2014

Creamy Mushroom Soup



Everyone loves a good 'shroom. Whether you are a Woodstock revivalist or a protein hungry vegetarian, the power of the mushroom is unbeatable. I have always been mesmerised by the variety of this power-hub fungi, from robust knobs of chewy brown velvet to bleached shoelaces wearing pearl hats, the range certainly challenges one's own concept of strange familial relations. The beauty of this dish is the freedom it allows for you to pick and choose your favourite fungi. 

This dish was a total experiment, but I could not be more wrapped with the outcome. The cashews create a dream cream, forget Elle Macpherson, this soup has some serious body. Feel free to adjust the thickness by slowly adding the cashew cream until desired consistency is achieved. I for one like it eeeeextra creamy, like someone is hugging you from the inside out. Mushrooms are a wondrous vegetable, containing high amounts glutamate (not to be confused with gluten) which account for their rich flavour, are a source of Vitamin D, ironic as they are grown in the dark. 

A note on the zesty topping-do it! Seriously. 

Serves 4

1 small handful dried porcini
1 cup hot water
¼ cup olive oil
600 g/1.5 lb fresh mushrooms (oyster, chanterelles, shiitake, crimini or similar)– chopped
2 garlic cloves – crushed
1 medium red onion - chopped
4 sprigs fresh thyme – stems removed
½ tsp salt
½ tsp pepper
4 cups chicken broth
1 cup raw cashews – soaked for 2 hours
1 cup of flat leafed parsley – roughly chopped

Topping

1 lemon
1 tsp salt
1 tsp freshly ground black pepper

  1. Place the porcini in a small dish, add boiling water just to cover, and leave to soak.
  2. Heat the olive oil on high in a deep pan and add the mushrooms.
  3. Stir quickly for a minute. Turn the heat to medium, add garlic, onion and thyme, and keep stirring for another minute.
  4. Add the salt and pepper and stir.
  5. Drain the porcini, setting aside the soaking liquid, and chop up.
  6. Then add to the pan.
  7. Pour the soaking liquid through a sieve and add to the pan.
  8. Simmer for 20 minutes or until most of the moisture has disappeared(you will want about half a cup remaining), but the mushrooms are still wet. You would want about a cup of liquid left in the pan with the mushrooms.
  9. In the meantime drain the cashews, place them with ½ cup of water into a fast food processor, and process until smooth and creamy. Set aside.
  10. Add the chicken stock to the pan, bring to the boil and simmer for around 20 minutes.
  11. Remove half of the soup into a food processor and process until smooth. Then add it back to the pan with the chopped up parsley and cashew cream. Stir and bring back to a simmer. Turn off heat and serve with the lemon zest mixture.
Topping


Zest the lemon and mix the zest with salt and pepper. Sprinkle over the top of the soup short before serving.


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Tuesday, 9 September 2014

Sticky Smoked Lamb Ribs



Yum
You know when you eat an ice-cream on the beach and sand ALWAYS manages to sneak it's way into your mouth, but you kind of don't really care because it's all part of the 'vibe'? Well the same goes for ribs, with mess. When consuming the rib, one must always be armed with napkins, bibs, bowls of lemon water/pressure hose and a change of clothes. Dubbed the least sexiest thing to eat on a date, the rib has crept it's way up to my number one...Think a plate of ribs and two (?)naked bodies licking their fingers and 'elbows' of all that delightfully sticky sauce. Plonked in front of the kids in a big bowl, and finding greasy brown smears on light switches and doorhandles for days after works too, I guess. 

Whatever your culinary occasion, the sweetness of the honey and orange, is balanced beautifully against the paprika and chilli, giving it a warm smokey flavour you'll want to only remove with your tongue. I can guarantee not a spare rib will be left spare.

A note of warning however! Whilst making the glaze I managed to burn the bottom of my pot, and the fumes from the chilli nearly chocked me to death, not to mention making me all too aware of the futility of the pot. So keep your eye out for this, and just incase you're too busy holding your mouth open, trying to catch the invisible flavour on your tongue, here is a recipe for that burnt pot;

2 cups water
1/4 cup baking soda
1/4 vinegar
  1. Bring all to a simmer and cook (attended) for 15 minutes. Then turn off heat and let sit for 15 minutes.
  2. Pour the water into the sink and gently begin scraping the burnt bits off with a large metal spoon. Then use a gentle abrasive pad to finish cleaning.
Marinade

¼ cup olive oil
½ cup honey
3 garlic cloves – crushed
3 tsp chili powder
2 tsp smoked sweet paprika
2 tsp cumin
2 ½ tsp salt
½ cup cider vinegar
zest from one orange
juice from one orange

1.5 kg/3 lb (2 racks) lamb spare ribs

  1. Put all of the ingredients for the marinade into a bowl and whisk together until well combined. 
  2. Place the ribs into a large plastic bag and pour over the marinade.
  3. Seal the bag pressing out excess air. Place into the refrigerator overnight or at least 8 hours. 
  4. Pre-heat oven to 180°C/350°F 
  5. Remove the ribs from the marinade, setting aside the marinade, and place the ribs into a shallow baking dish.
  6. Then cover the dish tightly with foil and bake for 1 hour on the middle rack of the oven.
  7. Meanwhile place the marinade into a heavy bottomed saucepan and bring to a simmer, stirring frequently. Cook until reduced by half.
  8. Discard the foil from the lamb, pouring off excess fat, and brush with the glaze. Bake for 10 minutes then turn the ribs, brush again with glaze. Repeat twice, in 20 minute intervals. Use the entire glaze, and be generous!
  9. Once done, remove from the oven and let sit for 5 minutes. Then cut into individual ribs and enjoy.

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Tuesday, 2 September 2014

Chicken Schnitzel & Slow Cooked Kale

Yum
      

My absolute favourite pub meal of all time is the Chicken Schnitzel. Truth be told I have not set foot in a pub for I don't even know how many years, but I still have fond memories of sunny Sunday afternoons spent laughing over the hermit crab races with the finest house red in my hand. 

My son has brought his friends home on a number of occasions to sample this guilt- free grain-free wonder, coined one of the best damn schnitzels ever (noting that these words come from the mouths of twenty-something gluten-evores). The crunchy crumbed exterior will never see the posterior of those that chomp this chicken.   

Kale Schmale you say? Never again will those words part your lips! The rosemary adds a beautiful aromatic flavour to the Kale, of which is quite a wonder on it's own. The super food of the moment- and rightfully so- kale is extremely high in fiber, iron, low in calories  and a great natural detox agent.
If you are feeling really crazy, you can try it with our homemade Mayonnaise and Sweet Chilli Sauce (Something on the Side). And voila, here you have yourself the perfect meal for the pub-grub aficionado. 

Makes 4

4 chicken thigh fillets
1 ½ cup almond meal
½ cup parmesan – grated
1 egg
¼ tsp salt
ground black pepper

  1. Flatten the chicken thighs with a meat mallet. 
  2. Combine the almond meal with the parmesan in one bowl and whisk the egg, salt and pepper in another. 
  3. Dip the fillets into the egg mixture, coating them entirely. Then repeat the process by coating with the almond meal mixture, pressing the fillet into the mixture. 
  4. Turn several times repeating the pressing process until the fillet is well covered with almond meal. 
  5. Heat a deep frying pan with oil and fry the schnitzels 1 or 2 at a time, cooking until golden brown on each side.
Slow Cooked Kale

Serves 4

¼ cup extra virgin olive oil
1 sweet red onion – thinly sliced
3 cloves garlic – chopped
1 sprig rosemary
¼ tsp salt
tsp cayenne pepper
grated black pepper to taste
500 g/1 lb kale – destalked and roughly chopped
1 tsp fresh lemon juice

  1. Pour the oil into a large pot and bring temperature up until the oil has become hot. 
  2. Turn down temperature to medium and add onion, garlic, rosemary, salt, pepper and cayenne. Stir until the onion has softened.
  3. Add the kale and stir thoroughly. Cook for 30 minutes stirring frequently. 
  4. Then bring up the heat and add the lemon juice and fry stirring thoroughly for a minute, until the edges of the kale have become crisp and browned.
  5. Serve immediately.

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Tuesday, 26 August 2014

Walnut and Sultana Loaf



One of the things I have missed the most after giving up gluten, is the comfort of a delicious fluffy loaf of bread. I have played around with bread recipe's in the past (2 of which you will find on here; Pumpernickel Bread and Spiced Banana and Orange Bread), and think it is important to have a few options, both sweet and savoury, to whip out and whip on to the plate for breakfast, lunch or an in-between meal snack. 

The texture of this loaf is dense and yet fluffy, as if it were the real bread deal. The sultanas are a sweet surprise planted amongst the walnuts, which are a treat in themselves, with an initial crunch that mature into a chewy texture, perfect for a big dollop of our berry compote

This bread is fantastic toasted the next day, and will last you about a week stored in an airtight container in the fridge. And of course it's entirely free from processed sugars, dairy, and gluten, whilst high in natural fibre and protein from the nuts.

Makes 1 Loaf

4 large eggs – separated
1 cup raw cashews – soaked 2 hours
½ cup honey
1 tsp vanilla essence
¼ cup cacao butter – melted
¼ tsp sea salt
cup coconut cream
cup coconut flour
1 tsp baking soda
½ cup walnuts – crushed
½ cup sultanas


  1. Line a small loaf tin with waxed baking paper
  2. Preheat oven to 150 °C/300°F
  3. Place the egg yolk into a high-speed food processor and place the egg whites into a separate bowl.
  4. Drain the cashews and place them into the food processor with the honey, vanilla essence, cacao butter, salt and coconut cream.
  5. Process until completely smooth.
  6. Pour the batter into a bowl and mix through the coconut flour mixed with the baking soda.
  7. Mix in the walnuts and sultanas.
  8. With an electric blender whip the egg whites until stiff and then mix through the batter until well combined.
  9. Pour evenly into the lined tin and place into the oven for 45-50 minutes, until the top is browned and the loaf feels firm to the touch.


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Thursday, 21 August 2014

Strawberry Cheesecake



This bodacious babe of a treat, will have you stripping off your clothes and running to the water faster than one can say "hakuna mattata". I absolutely cannot stress the importance of water in this recipe. By soaking the cashews in water, prior to sending them into a massacre of whirring blades and crematorial cream, you allow them to give their all, a last hoorah if you will.

What am I talking about, you ask? Well, nature has equipped 'the nut' with a shield of nutritional inhibitors that must be broken down in order for full nutritional potential to be reached. This is done by soaking the nut, as it mirrors the natural process of a juicy atmosphere in which the nuts could settle down, buy a house, a car, and begin to germinate a family of little nut children. Before mortgaging their house and inevitably crashing the car, owing the insurance company thousands and perhaps wondering if it would have been simpler to have just fled the scene...Excuse me.

For those of us that do not have the strongest tummy's, it is absolutely vital to allow our body full access to the enzymes that are on offer. OK I feel the point has been sufficiently pointed to.

This cheesecake does not have a spec of anything cheese-like in it, however the taste is absolutely marvellous! It is extremely creamy, with the cashews and the coconut making the best of friends amongst a lovely zest of lemon that melts in the mouth, prepping the palette superbly for the next bite. The fresh strawberries offer a surprise attack of natural sweetness, and brilliant colour. The base presents itself as a subtle yet strong foundation, it is both crunchy from the nuts, and moistened by the dates. This is getting rude.


Serves 8

Base

1 cup cashews
½ cup walnuts
¼ cup pitted merdjool dates
¼ cup grated coconut
pinch sea salt

Filling

3 cups cashews – soaked overnight
1 tsp vanilla essence
¾ cup honey
1 cup fresh lemon juice
½ cup coconut oil
3 cups (500 g/1 lb) strawberries – diced (reserving 3 strawberries for the center piece and about 6 strawberries for decoration)
  1. Line an 8-inch spring form baking tin with waxed baking paper. 
  2. Combine all the ingredients for the base in a food processor and process until finely chopped. 
  3. With wet hands mold the dough onto the base of the spring form tin and refrigerate until the filling is ready. 
  4. Meanwhile, drain your cashews and place them in a high speed food processor with the vanilla, honey, lime juice and the coconut oil. Process until the mixture is creamy smooth.
  5. Dice the strawberries and gentle fold into the cashew mixture.
  6. Pour evenly into the lined tin and refrigerate for 4-8 hours.
  7. Gently remove the spring form and then the waxed paper. Cut into slices with a hot knife (stick the knife under hot running tap water for a 10 seconds).

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Tuesday, 12 August 2014

Burrito Rolls



Mexican food is an absolute staple at my house, however in the past I have always struggled with the concept of only being able to eat the insides, in a semi -deconstructed innards vibe. As I would hungrily watch everyone else devour their neat packages of Mexican goodness, I would always be left with something looking not unlike baby food on my plate. The appeal of being told you look youthful doesn't quite transcend into the culinary world I'm afraid.

So here is my solution, a rather good one too. These crepe creatures, are not only free of gluten, dairy and refined sugars, but they are thinner than the average burrito wrap, leaving room in your belly for all of the delicious bean mix and guacamole! And of course, you can play around with the fillings, adding cheese, SCD homemade yogurt or minced meat for those of you that are not dairy free or vegetarian. 

Makes 6

340 g (2 cups) dried kidney beans – soaked overnight
1 Tbs olive oil
120 g (1 cup) onions – finely chopped
1 tsp red chili – minced
3 cloves garlic – minced
1 tsp dried cumin
1 tsp dried oregano
¼ tsp ground cloves
240 ml (1 cup) tomato puree
salt and pepper

  1. Place kidney beans into medium sized saucepan, cover with water and bring to boil.
  2. Turn down the heat and simmer for up to 2 hours until the beans are soft. 
  3. Drain the water from the beans. 
  4. Heat the olive oil in a large skillet and add the onion. Sauté until onions are soft and golden.
  5. Add the chili, garlic, cumin, oregano, and cloves and cook for 1 minute.
  6. Add the beans and tomato puree and simmer until the sauce starts to thicken. 
  7. Add salt and pepper to taste.

Guacamole
Makes 1 cup

2 avocados
2 Tbs fresh lemon juice
2 cloves garlic
½ tsp salt
½ tsp pepper

Scoop out avocado flesh into a food processor, add all the other ingredients and process until desired smoothness. Refrigerate in an airtight jar.

Savory Crepes
Serves 5-6

6 large eggs
1 tsp coconut oil
¼ tsp cayenne
1 tsp dried oregano
1 pinch of salt
1 Tbs coconut cream
3 Tbs coconut flour

  1. Combine the eggs with the coconut oil, cayenne, oregano, salt and whisk until light and frothy. 
  2. Add the sifted coconut flour and combine. The consistency of the batter should be the same as normal crepe batter. It should coat the back of the spoon but be quite thin. 
  3. Heat a little oil in a frying pan on medium heat and pour about ¼ cup of batter into the pan. 
  4. Lift the pan by the handle and roll the batter over the surface of the pan until a nice round crepe is achieved. 
  5. It only takes around one minute for the crepe to brown on one side. Turn it over and brown on the other side.


To Assemble Burrito Rolls
Place some lettuce onto the centre of the crepe and about 3 tablespoons of the beans, 1 tablespoon of Guacamole and some chopped fresh tomatoes and onion into the middle of the crepe. Top off with some coriander.

Fold over one side and roll over. Serve immediately.

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Apple and Blueberry Crumble



Sometimes, I really do need to take my hat off to myself. The colour spectrum that this humble crumble exists on, is home to all the other magical colours that perhaps only dogs and bees can see. The rich purple berries soak into the apples in the most divine way. Blueberries are also extremely high in natural antioxidants and when cooked, release a superbly sweet flavour. The berries, apples and nip of citrus marry perfectly to create a light yet deliciously depthy syrup.

The crunchy crumble I can liken to some sort of shortbread cookie, perfectly buttery and beautifully balanced against the sweet hot mess of the cooked berries and apples. I've used frozen berries here, as they are a lot cheaper than the fresh type, but equally as tasty and nutritious. 

This dish can be served fresh from the oven for chilly evenings, or cooled in the fridge for a refreshing treat. And of course, it is gluten free, dairy free and free of refined sugars.

Serves 4

Filling

1.350 kg (2 lb 11 oz) Granny Smith apples – peeled, diced and cored
200 g (1 cup) frozen blueberries
1 Tbs fresh orange juice
1 tsp lemon rind - grated
3 Tbs honey

Crumble

100 g (1 cup) almond flour
60 g (¼ cup) cold butter
1 tsp honey

  1. Preheat oven to 150°C/300°F
  2. Butter a 20cm/8 inch square baking tin
  3. Place all of the ingredients for the filling, retaining 2 Tbs of honey, in a medium size saucepan and cook covered on medium heat for 5 minutes.
  4. Remove lid and simmer on high for another 5 minutes.
  5. Use a sieve to drain the fruit juices into a bowl. 
  6. Pour the juice back into the saucepan, adding the remaining tablespoon of honey, and simmer until reduced down by half. Retain this syrup for later. 
  7. Cool the fruit in refrigerator.  
  8. Meanwhile, make the crumble by combining the almond flour, butter and honey in a food processor.
  9. Mix until chunky crumbs are formed. 
  10. Place the crumble in the refrigerator for 10 minutes. 
  11. When the fruit has cooled down, place it into the prepared baking tin and top with the crumble. 
  12. Bake the crumble for 30 minutes or until crumble is golden brown.
  13. Serve warm, topped with a little SCD yogurt and the retained syrup.

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