Tuesday, April 15, 2014

'Share the Love' Apple & Persimmon Oat Slice

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Wow. What a day. Where do I even begin to say thank you for the crazily amazing gorgeousness of what so many of you did today? I can't find the words to say how much I appreciate it. I feel so blessed. Just wow.

If you're wondering what I'm talking about, it's this. I was totally love-bombed by my readers today! My crazy, sneaky, but ever so sweet sister-in-law, Melissa, decided she was going to do something about my computer troubles and organised some birthday love. (I think my little brother may have had something to do with it too.)  So now I not only will be getting a new computer for my birthday, paid for by my much-loved readers, I've also got enough to buy a decent camera to take better photos! (Instead of using my iPhone all the time, as much as I love it.) To all of you who were in on this - thank you, so so much.

When Melissa texted me and admitted what she'd done, I laughed and cried and was basically totally useless for the rest of the day, and didn't get a scrap of work done. (Except dinner, I did manage to cook that.) So now I'm sitting down at my dodgy old computer at nearly midnight, determined to give you all a little something back, even if it's just a simple slice recipe. Because, you know, giving is like a circle - the more you give, the more you receive, and the more you want to give again.

So here's my little thank you to you, a simple recipe for Apple & Persimmon Oat Slice, which I made up yesterday when I had three squishy persimmons I needed to use. I hope you'll share the love and make it for someone you care about.

Jo xx





'Share the Love' Apple & Persimmon Oat Slice

Ingredients

Filling:
3 apples, peeled, cored and quartered
3 persimmons, washed and stems removed (well ripened)
3 tsp lemon juice
50g rice malt syrup (or 30g honey)
1/2 tsp pure vanilla extract
2 Tbsp cornflour (or arrowroot starch)

Base & Topping:
370g organic rolled oats (GF oats or quinoa flakes for gluten free)
100g unsalted butter (or coconut oil for dairy free)
1 tsp lemon juice
1 tsp cinnamon
1/4 tsp fine sea salt
60g rice malt syrup (or 40g honey)
1 tsp pure vanilla extract

Method
Preheat oven to 180C. Line a 21cm square baking dish with baking paper and set aside.

Filling:

Place apples and persimmons into Thermomix mixing bowl and chop 5 sec/speed 4.

Add remaining filling ingredients and cook 7 mins/100C/speed 2.

Pour into a large bowl and set aside.

Base & Topping:

Place all base/topping ingredients into Thermomix mixing bowl (no need to clean after making filling), and mix 30 sec/speed 4, or until mixture is starting to clump together slightly.

Place 2/3 of the mixture into the lined dish and press in firmly to form base. Pour filling over base.

Crumble remaining mixture over the top of the filling, and press down slightly with your fingers, into the filling.

Place into oven and cook for 20-30 mins, or until lightly browned on top.

Cool, cover, then place in fridge to set.

Once slice is firm, cut into squares and serve cold from the fridge. 

Tastes great with a dollop of cashew or coconut cream!




Variations:

If you don't have persimmons, try apples and plums; or use 6 apples instead of apples and persimmons.

To make this without a Thermomix, chop fruit roughly by hand and simmer filling in a pan on the stovetop until thickened. Mix topping by hand and proceed with recipe.


Saturday, March 22, 2014

Weekly Highlights, a Baking Giveaway and a Recipe for Paleo (Banana Flour) Pancakes!

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Hi everyone! I know it's been ages since I've posted my 'weekly highlights' so really it's a bit silly to call them 'weekly,' but I'm aiming to get back to having a regular catch-ups with you all again, so here I am. After a busy week of homeschooling, cooking, writing, driving, cooking, cleaning, packing, cooking and, um, cooking, I need some down time. And besides, I have some goodies to give away, so keep reading!




Update! My book has gone off to the printers (just one more month to wait now!), but the recipe developing continues, as per usual... (Um, yeah, my recipes are a little hard to understand sometimes, especially when I'm testing them over and over. Might be time to write this one out again. Lol!) 

My big news - just in case any of you missed it! (I couldn't keep it in and had to blab all over Facebook and Instagram.) We're moving house! Yes, in less than two weeks' time I'm going to have my very own house with a big, bright, open kitchen! And a dishwasher. And a double sink. Yeehaaaa!! 



I have great plans for this kitchen. At the moment it's a bit bare and modern, but it will soon be 'quirkified' and homey, and ready for... da duh daaaa... Quirky Cooking Classes!! Anyone want to come have a one on one cooking class? Come on, it'll be fun! (You MAY have to dodge nerf bullets and will almost certainly be a guinea pig for my latest creations, but if you're brave enough to come despite that, you will be most welcome.) More details on that to come! 



Beware the nerf guns... 
(Yep, just a normal day in the Whitton household. I think I'm outnumbered.)




The most popular post on my blog this week was my new Gluten free, dairy free hot cross buns recipe - 30,500 views in 6 days! And yes, they are definitely worth making, so if you haven't tried them, get onto it soon, so you'll be all set for Easter. :)

The most popular posts on my Facebook page this week were:

- Healthy snacks while at uni, and sitting for hours in front of a computer

- Comments on my 'insanely delicious' barbeque sauce, that you really should make before plum season finishes

- Thermomix websites and FB pages for recipes that are free from egg, milk, wheat and soy

- Easy dinner ideas, and Meatball, bean and kale soup


- Recipes for grain free pizza bases

- And this absolutely amazing Raw Salted Caramel & Almond Cake!

(Please note: Facebook is cutting down on how many posts you'll see from pages that don't pay to be seen - and yep, that's me. I've never paid for views and don't intend to start. So if you'd still like to see my FB posts, make sure you add my page to your interests lists! And remember to like, comment on, and share posts from pages you love, because otherwise we'll disappear off your FB feed. Thanks!)

Ok, so now you're all up to date with what's been going on, how about a giveaway!


Happy Tummies Baking Pack Giveaway...

As you all know, I LOVE to bake healthy, allergy-friendly goodies. Happy Tummies is an online store that specialises in allergy-free ingredients, cookbooks and all sorts of kitchenware, and they have offered a baking pack for you to win! Check it out... 




What's in the pack?

Quinoa flour (623g): Quinoa flour is one of the highest protein flours, and is great in gluten free cooking. You can use it in recipes like Quinoa & Chia Seed Flatbread, or Banana & Raspberry Muffins. (Instead of milling the quinoa seeds, add the same weight of quinoa flour.) Tip: I find with quinoa flour it's best to keep it to a quarter or less of the overall amount in a gluten free mix.

Rice malt syrup (500g): A low fructose sweetener that you can use in place of sugar or honey in recipes. See my Sugar Substitutes page for tips on how to use rice malt syrup.

If You Care Baking Cups (3 packs - mini, large and jumbo): This range of baking papers and baking cups are what I prefer to use, as they are non-toxic and very high quality. Most baking papers are coated with Quilon, which contains heavy metals like chromium, which can be toxic when incinerated. If You Care papers use silicone derived from a natural element, and they also don't contain chlorine, so no bleach in the waterways. Aside from that, they just work better! Muffins don't stick to them, and I find the baking paper can usually be wiped down and reused. Love it. 

Loving Earth Raw Cacao Powder (500g): My favourite cacao powder - raw, unadulterated, no additives, and completely delicious! I would love to share my new chocolate cake recipe with you, as I use this cacao powder to make it, but it's for a special project, so how about making some raw chocolate instead! You'll also need...

Loving Earth Raw Cacao Butter (500g): This is the fat from the cacao beans, and is the key ingredient in good chocolate. Loving Earth is my favourite brand, and you'll understand why when you use it - it's so creamy and the smell is divine! See my recipe for raw chocolate above.

Heilala Vanilla (100ml): Made from organic vanilla beans from Tonga, this vanilla is amazing. Another important ingredient in raw chocolate, or try adding it to Creamy Coconut Vanilla Rice Pudding.

Banaban Coconut Milk (400g) and Coconut Cream (400g): I use a lot of coconut milk and cream in my cooking - coconut is one of nature's superfoods. For a delicious, dairy free treat, try Dairy Free Condensed Milk or Dulce de Leche using coconut cream, or Quick Egg Curry with Quinoa which is made with coconut milk.

Rapadura Sugar (500g): Rapadura is simply dehydrated sugar cane juice - a much more natural product than refined sugars, and still contains the minerals and vitamins found in sugar cane. The flavour is a lot like brown sugar. Use it in place of sugar in any recipe (1:1). See this article for more info on Rapadura.

Banaban Organic Coconut Sugar (500g): Coconut sugar is made from the dehydrated nectar from coconut blossoms. It is a very environmentally friendly sugar, and is low GI (approx. 35). The flavour is somewhere between raw sugar and rapadura - delicious. Use it in any recipe in place of sugar (1:1) or Rapadura. I love it in Coconut Caramel Custard. Note: This brand of coconut sugar can be ground up in the Thermomix on speed 9, to make a very fine icing sugar, perfect for using in icings or to sweeten pavlovas.

Banaban Organic Coconut Flour (500g): Coconut flour is made from the dried coconut pulp after making coconut milk. It is very high in fibre, and is suitable for a grain free diet. Gooey Flourless Fudge Brownies are made with coconut flour - if you haven't tried them, you need to!

Banana flour: This flour is made here on the Atherton Tablelands, where I live! It is another great option for those who are trying to minimize grains in their diet, and is a nutritious source of resistant starch. Rob and Krista of Mt Uncle have developed many recipes with their banana flour, and are happy to share their recipe for 'Paleo Pancakes' with us!




Paleo Pancakes

Thanks to Mt Uncle's Banana Flour for this recipe. Visit their Facebook page for more recipes, tips and info.

Serves 6

Ingredients

1 cup (130 g) Mt Uncle's Banana Flour

3 tablespoons pure maple syrup (optional)

3 eggs 

1 teaspoon of vanilla bean extract

1 teaspoon of bicarbonate of soda

pinch of salt

130 ml coconut or almond milk

2 tablespoons of lemon juice

1 cup (100g) blueberries (optional)

coconut oil - for cooking

Method

Place Mt Uncle's Banana Flour, syrup, eggs, vanilla, bicarb soda, salt, milk and lemon juice into Thermomix bowl and mix 10 sec/speed 4, then increase speed and mix 20 sec/speed 8. (Or whisk ingredients together in a bowl, by hand.)

Add berries and mix in on speed 3 for a few seconds, or mix 3 sec/speed 5 if you want the berries roughly chopped.

Cook in med-hot frying pan with a little coconut oil, then serve with desired toppings.

Enjoy!


How to Win...

To win this awesome baking pack from Happy Tummies, all you need to do is leave a comment on this blog post saying what you would make if you won

Winner will be chosen randomly via Random.org, and announced here and on both my Quirky Cooking Facebook page, and the Happy Tummies Facebook page next Saturday, the 29th March, at 8pm.

Pop over and like both pages, if you haven't already, to be the first to hear about new recipes, exciting products, and who the winner of the prizedraw is! Also, make sure you sign up for the Happy Tummies newsletter (on their site) to be kept up with specials, latest news and updates.

Thank you for the great prize, Happy Tummies!

Giveaway open to Australian residents only.

Giveaway now closed - Congrats to Elise @MummyHearts!

Note - to comment on this blog post: If you are viewing this on a mobile device, you will need to switch over to the 'web version' to post a comment. Scroll to the bottom of the post, click on 'view web version', then scroll down to the bottom of the comments and click on 'post a new comment'. If you're on a computer, make sure you have opened the actual post by clicking on the title, so that comments are visible at the end of the post.

All the best, and I hope you all have a great week!

Happy cooking,
Jo xx


PS Happy Autumn! :)

Sunday, March 16, 2014

Gluten Free & Dairy Free Hot Cross Buns

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The other day I thought I'd have another go at making gluten and dairy free hot cross buns, because I wasn't completely happy with the ones I already have on the blog. And since I'm finding I react more and more to gluten these days, my spelt recipe is out for me. I remember giving in last year when I made a batch at an Easter demo - it's very hard to resist hot cross buns when they're fresh from the oven, dripping with a spicy glaze, and slathered with butter. But I regretted it the next day. Not doing that again... 

I'm pretty sure I'm not the only one craving these sweet, spicy buns, and although they're never going to be quite as soft and fluffy as the spelt or wheat versions, they are quite delicious, especially hot out of the oven!



As with most gluten free baking, these are best eaten warm, or at least only a couple of hours old. By the next day they will be a lot drier, only good for slicing up and toasting. Although you could use the leftovers to make a hot cross bun 'bread and butter pudding'... (Hmmm, might have to try that, yum!) My suggestion is, make the dough, then only bake what you will eat that day - save the rest of the dough in a container in the fridge for another batch. The dough will last for about 5 days in the fridge in a sealed container. (The flavours will actually develop as the dough sits in the fridge, and the mixture will thicken so they will rise a bit better.)

I made this recipe without gums (guar or xanthan) as I know a lot of people try to avoid those, and they're also expensive. If you prefer, you can use 2 tsp xanthan gum instead of the psyllium husk. The xanthan gum has pros and cons - with it the buns will be heavier and denser, but they do stay moist longer. The psyllium husk dough will be quite runny (almost a batter), but with the xanthan gum it's firmer and can be gently molded into balls with wet hands once it's been refrigerated overnight. I make the buns in cupcake cups so it doesn't matter if the dough is more of a batter - it works great this way.



I did intend to have an egg free version for you as well, but I just haven't had time to test it yet. If anyone does have success with egg replacer or 'chia eggs' or other egg substitutes, let me know. Otherwise I'll test that version when I can. Also a yeast free version. So many recipes to test so little time! Especially when the weather is MUCH too nice to be inside...



Gluten Free & Dairy Free Hot Cross Buns

Makes approx. 20 muffin-sized buns

Ingredients

Buns
150g brown rice, raw
110g sorghum or millet, seeds or flour
zest of 1 orange (peeled with potato peeler)
1 Tbsp instant yeast
190g arrowroot or tapioca starch
1 1/2 tsp fine sea salt
2 tsp ground cinnamon
1 tsp ground nutmeg
1/2 tsp ground cloves
40g coconut sugar or Rapadura
1 Tbsp psyllium husk
2 eggs
200g coconut milk (homemade), or preferred milk
150g water
40g macadamia oil or other light oil
100g sultanas
100g currants (or try dried sour cherries or cranberries)
muffin papers

Crosses
50g gluten free plain flour
50g water

Glaze
juice of 1 orange (approx. 50g juice)
50g coconut sugar or Rapadura
1/2 tsp natural vanilla extract
1 tsp ground cinnamon

Method

Place brown rice and sorghum or millet seeds (if using) into Thermomix mixing bowl and mill 
1 min/speed 9. If using sorghum or millet flour, mill rice on its' own, then add flour. 

Add orange zest and blend 15 sec/speed 9.

Add yeast, arrowroot or tapioca starch, salt, cinnamon, nutmeg, cloves, sugar, and psyllium husk, and mix 20 sec/speed 5. Scrape down sides of bowl with spatula.

Add eggs, milk, water, oil, sultanas and currants and mix 20 sec/reverse/speed 4. Scrape down sides of bowl with spatula and mix another 10 sec/reverse/speed 4.

Pour mixture into a large container, place lid on, and leave to rise for 2 hours at room temp.

Once mixture is risen, container can either be put into the fridge to be used the next day (best results, as flavours intensify and mixture thickens), or you can make the buns straight away. 

When ready to bake:

Mix the flour and water for the crosses in a small bowl with a fork until smooth, then pour into a small a small ziploc bag. Seal the bag and cut a very small corner off. Set aside.

Place paper muffin cups into a muffin tray (depending on how many you want to make).

Take the dough out of the fridge and scoop out heaped tablespoonfuls, and using a spoon and butter knife, drop a large spoonful into each muffin cup. Muffin cups should be 3/4 full.

Cover muffin tray loosely with a plastic bag (so that plastic does not touch dough) and leave to rise for about 30-40 mins, or until dough has barely risen to the top of the muffin cup. (Don't over-rise buns or you'll find they flatten out, and will sink in the middle once cooked.) Towards the end of the rising time, preheat oven to 200C (fan forced). Pipe crosses onto buns.

Once oven is hot, place tray inside on middle shelf, and cook for 20 mins, or until lightly browned and a skewer inserted in the centre comes out clean.

Glaze:

Place all glaze ingredients into mixing bowl and cook 2 mins/Varoma temp/speed 2, with MC off to let out steam. Brush hot glaze over hot buns (removing papers if you like and arranging on a plate first, so that the glaze drizzles down the sides). Serve warm.

Store any leftover, cooled buns in an airtight container at room temp for 1 day - best eaten on day of baking.

Non-Thermomix Version: To make without a Thermomix, use bought rice and sorghum/millet flours and bought coconut milk, and mix with a food processor or by hand.




Sunday, February 23, 2014

Inside my Fridge and Freezer

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Ok, so this may seem a bit odd to post photos of my not-completely-tidy fridge and freezer, but I've been asked these questions so many times that it's probably easiest just to go ahead and post about it!

What do I keep in my fridge and freezer and pantry? 
What ingredients do I usually keep on hand? 
How do I organize it all?

I have a very small kitchen and a small pantry, so my large chest freezer doubles as my pantry. I buy my grains, seeds, nuts, flours, beans, meat and fish (and a few other things) in bulk, about four times a year. (See this post for more info on the whys and wherefores of bulk buying.) 

Where I live, in Far North Queensland, you can't leave your grains, nuts, seeds and flours out at room temperature for too long or they'll become mouldy, cobwebby and a home for weevils. (Weevils lay eggs on the grain in the field, but placing grains/flours/seeds in the freezer kills the eggs. It also prevents pantry moths.) Not everything fits in my freezer, so I also have some things stored in sealed 5 Lt buckets, stacked in my laundry. I rotate these through the freezer to kill weevils. As the freezer empties, I put some of those back in on the bottom, under the bags. (See this post for more info on rotating bulk foods through freezer.)

I keep a small amount of flours, grains, seeds, nuts in my kitchen in glass jars and refill from the freezer as needed. (As you can see, sometimes the fresh produce kind of takes over the kitchen...)



The contents of my freezer changes depending on the season, how much fresh fruit I have frozen, whether or not I have bulk meat or fish at the time, and how long its' been since my last bulk order of grains, etc. In the photo at the top of the page, I have grains, rice, flours, starches, chickpeas, quinoa, a big bag of raw almonds (the silver bag), coconut, frozen berries and mango (I don't usually buy frozen mango but needed some and had run out), fruits that I've frozen myself, bulk meat, and a few other bits and pieces.

In the photo below, at a different time of year, my freezer is mostly full of bulk grains, seeds, nuts, lentils, etc.



As you can see in these photos, I place the large bags (12.5kg and 25kg) in the bottom of my big chest freezer. The smaller bags (5kg, 3kg, 1kg) I place either on top or in the baskets. The good thing about leaving everything in bags is that the bags get smaller as you use what's in them, whereas containers take up a lot more room and don't shrink as the contents go down. So I prefer to do it this way even if it doesn't look quite as neat as a freezer full of neatly stacked, labelled containers! (By the way, I prefer glass containers to plastic, for most things. The plastic jug above was what I used to keep spelt grain in so I could just grab it easily when making bread. Now I just use a glass jar.)

The meat that I buy in bulk is local, grassfed, organic beef and sometimes pork, and wild-caught fish. I store the large pieces (roasts, etc) in the bottom of the freezer, and the smaller packets in baskets. The fish is individually wrapped in fillets and they are in a flat box usually, which I place on top of the bags.

I generally keep small bags of frozen fruits in my fridge freezer (and larger ones in my big freezer), as I use those every day for smoothies, juices, sorbets and ice creams. Whatever fruit is in season I buy and freeze, and I always have bananas frozen - just peeled and popped into bags. 

When I cook up a big batch of beans, I freeze those in 250g bags, so I can use them to replace a tin of beans. (1 400g tin of beans usually contains approx. 250g beans.) I also freeze bone broth in jars when I make a big batch.

The photo below is my fridge freezer. As you can see it's mango season - lots of frozen mango and dehydrated mango! On the bottom left is a snack basket for the kids where I put individually wrapped snacks (eg. bliss balls, coconut fudge, brownies, homemade muesli bars, dried fruit, mini quiches), and the bottom right basket is full of gluten free flours in small amounts so I can grab them as I need them. (The big bag is almond meal.) There's also ice, homemade coconut cream frozen in ice cube trays ready for smoothies, ice creams, and coffee (I just drop a frozen cube into my coffee), as well as lots of dried mango in bags. The top shelf has frozen fruit (mango, pineapple, nectarines, peaches, plums, dragonfruit, watermelon, lemon/lime juice in cubes in bags, etc), frozen veges, (and some millet because it didn't fit in the door). And I keep my drink powders (protein powders, greens, etc) on top of the fridge because my pantry is too small for them.



In the fridge freezer door I keep bits and pieces like small bags of buckwheat, spelt grain, nuts, seeds; and there's a jar of bone broth and some natural food colours there too. (Messy, I know. But like I said, I fit more in with bags instead of containers!)



Okay, and I'm keeping it real here, folks. This is generally what my fridge looks like - very overcrowded! (Eeek, embarrassing!) Here's a quick overview of what's in there: Vege stock pastes (and sometimes meat stock pastes - made in Thermomix), tahini, jams, sauces (some made in Thermomix, some not, depending on time), mustards, chutneys, nut butter, homemade pickles, yeast in a big jar, ganache, coconut cream (sometimes homemade, sometimes bought), spinach, mushrooms, mini quiches in a bag, dairy free condensed milk, goat's cheese, silly putty, (ha ha!), homemade lard, meat thawing for dinner, artisan bread dough in a large container, corn, tomatoes, watermelon, chillies, and lots more fruit and veges from my CSA box, leftovers, coconut yoghurt, bone broth in a bottle in the fridge door, free range eggs, nut milk, cow's milk, non-alcoholic wine, pure maple syrup, probiotics (for making coconut yoghurt & to take), teecino, coffee, ginger, coconut, herbal mixtures (for everything from car sickness to colds), cod liver oil, Loving Earth chocolate, and who knows what else!




My daughter always tells her friends that our fridge is very scary. I guess it is a little crazy... But you should've seen it when I was recipe testing for my book and had 7 jars of dairy free aioli in there along with lots of other experiments! (I think I need a walk-in cold room.) ;)

Now, if you're looking for a photo of inside my pantry, I'm afraid I'll have to disappoint you. It's so crowded in there it makes my fridge look empty. Ha. But you can see the kinds of things I keep in stock over on my Bulk Buying post, so check that out. I'll try to get a more detailed list up soon.

If you're wondering where to find recipes for any of the things I mentioned above, they're all on my blog - the easiest way to find them is to just google 'quirky cooking dairy free condensed milk' (or whatever it is you're looking for) as my search box is not working well at the moment (argh). Good news is I'm in the process of upgrading to a new site which will be MUCH easier to use! Hooray!!

Ok, so for a bit of a summary about stocking your pantry/freezer, and a bit of advice on healthy eating, see this interview I did with Louise D'Allura of Meal Planning Your Way... 



Hope that helps!

Jo xx

Sunday, February 16, 2014

Dairy Free, Egg Free Aioli

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This recipe has been a long while in the making. Over the last few months I've experimented a lot, determined to come up with a dairy free, egg free aioli that isn't runny. Sometimes I've had six or seven different batches lurking in my fridge at once... good thing I buy my macadamia oil in bulk*! 
I didn't give up because I wanted so badly to have this recipe in my book. Sadly, it just wasn't ready in time, so I've decided to post it here so all that hard work (and many litres of macadamia oil) doesn't go to waste. :)

This is not a traditional 'olive oil and garlic' aioli (which is of course dairy and egg free), but the flavour is more like an aioli than a mayonnaise so I call it aioli. I love it with fish, or on baked potatoes, or you can even add herbs and use it as a dip with crudites (see variation below). You can, of course, also use it instead of mayonnaise on sandwiches and wraps, or in a potato or chicken salad. 

I have tried making this with rice milk but it doesn't thicken like cashew milk does, so I stuck with cashew milk. If I come up with a nut free version I'll let you know! 

So here it is... I hope you like it. :)




Dairy Free, Egg Free Aioli
Makes 300g - lasts for 2-3 weeks in the fridge

Ingredients

100g raw cashews
500g water
2-3 garlic cloves
¼ tsp fine sea salt
150g macadamia oil
3 tsp lemon juice, freshly squeezed

Method

Place cashews into mixing bowl and mill for 8 sec/speed 9.

Add water and blend 1 min/speed 9. Pour into a separate container and wash and dry mixing bowl.

Place garlic into mixing bowl and chop 3 sec/speed 7. Scrape down sides of bowl with spatula.

Add salt and 150g of the cashew milk, and insert butterfly. Cook 5 mins/100C/speed 4. Scrape down lid and sides of bowl with spatula. (Place remaining cashew milk in fridge.)

Weigh macadamia oil into a small jug with a pouring spout.

With butterfly rotating on speed 4 and MC in place, drizzle oil very slowly onto lid, starting with just a few drops at a time, and progressing to a very thin stream. Take your time! With butterfly still rotating on speed 4, drizzle in lemon juice. This process should take approximately 6-7 mins.

Remove aioli carefully to small jug or jar, without mixing it with spatula so that it stays light and airy. Cover and store in fridge.

That's it! Very easy, just make sure you take your time while drizzling in the oil, as that will make all the difference.

Herb & garlic variation:

When chopping the garlic, add a few green shoots from spring onions, or some chives, and a sprig or two of parsley.

Notes:

- You will have cashew milk left over - store in fridge to use in cuppas or cooking. Makes great cappucinos!

- If you do try another kind of milk in the aioli, it needs to thicken in the cooking stage before the oil is added, or the aioli will be runny. I've found that soaked cashew milk doesn't work so well as it's thinner, so stick with this method.

- If you're wondering where I buy my macadamia oil in bulk (because I know I'll get that question!), I buy Pressed Purity (extra virgin cold pressed) in a 10 Lt container through my co-op, from Fitness Products

Thursday, February 6, 2014

Chocolate-Cherry-Berry Dessert Pizzas

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Last Saturday my niece came to visit from down south, so we got the kids' friends over for a pizza party to celebrate. There were at least 20 teenagers, plus a few other younger kids, and we all had a lot of fun!




To make the food side of things simpler, I got them to all bring pizza toppings to share. They chopped up the toppings while I made enough spelt pizza dough for about 20 pizzas (easy peasy in the Thermomix!), and then they all made their own pizzas. (In between soccer games, board games, remote control aeroplane flying, chatting, laughing, singing, and everything else!) So much more fun than buying pizzas, not to mention cheaper, healthier and yummier. Oh, and in case you're wondering, we used two ovens - mine and mum's - she just lives two doors down. :)




I also made mango sorbets with magic chocolate topping (see 'Day 7') for afternoon tea, which they loved, and no one complained about the lack of softdrink or junkfood, so they must be getting used to my strange ways! :D

After dinner I had a bit of a brainwave, and whipped up these dessert pizzas with the leftover pizza dough. I topped them with my homemade Chocolate Hazelnut Spread, some cherries and blueberries, zabliagone (a kind of egg yolk custard, no milk, a bit like sabayon), and flaked almonds. Delish!!

I used spelt bases for the kids, but if you're gluten free, don't despair. Use my recipe for Gluten Free Pizza Bases, adding 1 Tbspn of rapadura or coconut sugar to the batter. Blend it well so that the seeds are blended in. You could also use an almond meal pizza base recipe if you want a grain free, yeast free option. Try this one, leaving out the rosemary and garlic; swap the olive oil for macadamia oil, and add 2 tsp coconut sugar per base. See suggestions in recipe for a nut free version.


These pizzas are best served hot, so if you don't want to invite 20 hungry teenagers over for a party and your family won't eat three in one go, try this:

- Make the dough and divide into three portions; place remaining dough in bags and refrigerate or freeze dough for another day. (Dough can stay in fridge for up to a week.) 

- The chocolate spread will last in the fridge for a couple of weeks no problem, as will the cherries if left in the juice in the jar. The blueberries can be frozen. 

- Make zabliagone with 2 egg yolks, 1 tsp maple syrup and 1/2 tsp vanilla, for 10 mins cooking time total. 




Chocolate-Cherry-Berry Dessert Pizzas
Dairy free, with gluten and grain free options, and nut free option

(Makes 3 large pizzas)



Ingredients

Bases:
500g unbleached, plain spelt flour
2 tsp instant yeast
1 1/2 tsp fine sea salt
1 Tbspn Rapadura or coconut sugar
50g macadamia oil (or olive oil for nut free), plus extra for shaping dough
260g water

(or see gf options above)

Toppings:
1 batch of Chocolate Hazelnut Spread (or nut free chocolate spread/ganache, from this recipe)
  (freshly made - or use your own version of 'Nutella' or ganache)
1 800g jar of Morello cherries, drained
1 125g punnet fresh blueberries, rinsed
zabliagone (see below)
80g flaked almonds (or flaked coconut for nut free)

Zabliagone:
3 egg yolks
2 tsp pure maple syrup
1 1/2 tsp vanilla or almond extract

Method

Line 3 large pizza trays with baking paper, and set aside.

Place all base ingredients into mixing bowl and mix 6 sec/speed 6.

Knead on interval setting for 1 1/2 mins, then wrap dough loosely in Thermomat (or silicon bread mat, or place in oiled bowl and cover) and let it rest for 20 mins while you prepare the toppings.

Preheat oven to 200C, with pizza stones on racks if you have them.

After dough is risen, divide into three portions and press out into circles using a little more oil, and place on trays.

Divide chocolate hazelnut spread between the three pizzas and spread evenly over bases.

Scatter the cherries and blueberries over the pizzas, and set aside to rise while you make the zabliagone.

Zabliagone: Place egg yolks and maple syrup into mixing bowl, insert butterfly, and mix 6 mins/50C/speed 4. Add vanilla or almond extract and mix another 6 mins/50C/speed 4.

Drizzle pizzas with zabliagone and sprinkle over the flaked almonds.

Bake for approx 18-20 mins in hot oven on pizza stones (if you have them), until the zabliagone is lightly browned and the bases are cooked through.

Best served hot, while the base is crisp.

(Leftovers can be stored in the fridge in an airtight container, but they will get a bit soggy and the zabliagone will melt into the chocolate - although my kids don't complain! They still taste good.)






Friday, January 31, 2014

Paprika Chicken with Creamy Paprika Sauce (an easy all-in-one Thermomix dinner)

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Last night I got home late after a busy day and didn't have dinner organised, so it was 'Thermomix to the rescue' once again! I had a quick think, and this is what I came up with. Nothing fancy, just an easy and tasty dinner with basic ingredients, that took all of 25 minutes to make. Sometimes that's just what we need when we can't be bothered, right? (It is really yummy though, and the chicken breasts are amazingly tender and juicy when steamed!)

This fed our family of six and there were plenty of leftovers, which is always a bonus since everyone generally wants dinner for breakfast at our house. :)

This recipe is gluten free, and egg free, and if you omit the butter is also dairy free. The sauce is blended with cashews to make it creamy, but if you can't have nuts, see the nut free variation below. I've added some tips for those of you without a Thermomix, so you don't miss out.


Paprika Chicken with Creamy Paprika Sauce
(Serves 6-8)

Ingredients:

Rice
900g water
380g basmati rice

Veges (these are just suggestions, use what you have)
3 carrots, peeled and sliced thinly
200g green beans, topped and tailed
1-2 zucchini, thinly sliced
150g frozen corn

Chicken
600-700g chicken breast fillets, sliced in 2cm thick pieces
smoked paprika powder (approx 1 tsp)
herb salt (eg. Herbamare)
garlic powder (approx 1/2 tsp)
1 Tbsp butter or ghee (optional)

Sauce
60g raw cashews
60g water
2 tsp chicken or vegetable stock paste (my chicken stock paste recipe here)
1 tsp smoked paprika powder




Method:

Pour water into mixing bowl.

Weigh rice into steaming basket and rinse well, then place basket inside mixing bowl.

Place chicken pieces onto Varoma tray and sprinkle with paprika, herb salt and garlic powder, and dot with butter or ghee if using.

Place Varoma into position with lid on.

Turn speed dial to speed 5 for a few seconds to wash the water through the rice. (That's my little trick to make sure the top of the rice cooks well and you don't end up with crunchy bits.)

Begin cooking for 20 mins/Varoma/speed 2 while you cut up the veges, adding them to the dish as you go. (It takes about 10 minutes for the steam to really start filling the Varoma, so it's easy enough to get the veges cut up in that time.)

At the end of the cooking time, check that the chicken is cooked; add a couple more minutes if not.



Remove chicken, vegetables and rice to Thermoservers or serving dishes. (Or if you're having an 
"I don't feel like doing heaps of dishes" night, just leave them in the Varoma and basket and set aside.)

Add all the sauce ingredients to the little bit of liquid left in the bowl. (There should only be about 3cm of water left as the rice has absorbed most of it.)

Blend 1 min/speed 9. Scrape down lid and sides of bowl with spatula and blend again if needed, until smooth. Season to taste.

Serve the rice onto plates, top with veges and chicken, and drizzle with sauce.

Easy peasy! :)

Variations:

Nut free version: I haven't tried this yet, but I think it would be simple to leave out the cashews and add a can of Ayam coconut cream instead, with the 2-3 tsp vege stock paste and 1 tsp paprika powder. Warm it up a bit, 1 min/90C/speed 4. Season to taste.

Non Thermomix version:  Pour 100ml boiling water over the raw cashews and allow to soak (covered) while the meal cooks. Cook the rice in a rice cooker or on the stovetop. Cook the chicken and vegetables in two layers in a steamer, or in a large frypan with a lid, over med-low heat, until done. Blend the soaked cashews with soaking water and remaining sauce ingredients in a powerful blender until smooth and creamy. Season to taste. (Massel stock powder can be used instead of stock paste.)


Monday, January 27, 2014

Back-to-School Lunchbox Ideas & a Giveaway!

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Pesto Pasta Salad - great for lunches, both home and school!

Well, it's that time of year again. Summer holidays are over and now it's the mad rush to get the kids organised for the new school year. It seems like everyone is desperately searching for lunch box ideas that are more then just a vegemite sandwich and an apple. The good news is, there are some AWESOME lunch box ideas out there, and we've been chatting about them on my Facebook page, so I thought I'd share some here for you as well, in case you missed them.

I obviously don't need to worry about lunch boxes too much myself (we homeschool) - our lunches will be the usual soups, leftovers, salads and pasta salads, smoothies, bunless burgers, chocolate banana ice cream, and whatever else I happen to be testing in the kitchen for the day! But I DO remember the stress of getting the kids out the door and to the bus on time with a decent lunch - one that wouldn't come home all smelly and soggy in the bottom of their bag because they didn't like it.

So here you are, not only have I rounded up some great ideas for you, I've also got you some goodies you can WIN to help inspire you with the lunchbox packing craziness!



Bunless burgers - one of our favourite lunches!

A beef mince patty with Dijon mustard and sauteed mushrooms in a cos lettuce 'wrap'. 
(Turkey mince patties with BBQ sauce is delish too.) Make them the night before and chill in the fridge, then pop it into a small snack bag in the morning and keep it cool with a 'Little Mashie' reusable squeezie pouch, filled with a smoothie and frozen! Delicious lunch. :)


Here are some "Lunchbox Filler Ideas" that a lovely reader, Nel, shared with us on Facebook. Nel is a busy mum of five who has lots of great tips for organising the home, storage, clean eating, reducing carbon footprints, gardening, and everyday activities with kids. She has started sharing her tips on her own Facebook page: 'Cuddles, Cookies & Chaos' - pop by and have a look!

Copy this list into a Word document, add in your own favourite lunchbox ideas, and stick it on your fridge. Voila! Plenty of inspiration for your weekly lunchbox menu.

Lunchbox Filler Ideas 

Note: Nel uses ingredients that are organic and/or preservative/gluten/lactose free, and finds most of her recipes online. Use this list as a guide, print out your own favourite recipes to suit your family's preferences. See the tips at the end of the list for more details.

Mondays: veggie box
Tuesdays: fruit box
Wednesdays: veggie box
Thursdays: fruit box
Fridays: treat box

Veggie Boxes
*carrot sticks
*cherry tomatoes
*cucumber slices
*crackers
*hommus
*hard boiled egg
*baked treat
*corn cob
*salad
*chicken drumsticks
*meatballs
*cheese
*sandwich
*leftovers

Fruit Boxes
*berries
*apple
*banana
*yoghurt
*fruit slice
*baked treat
*sandwich
*salad wrap / salad
*grapes
*pears
*mandarin
*orange
*leftovers

Treat Boxes
*bliss balls
*rice sticks
*salt and vinegar veggie crisps
*raw chocolate
*veggies
*fruit
*yoghurt
*juice
*homemade pizza
*homemade sausage rolls with sauce
*leftovers
*baked treat
*mini quiche
*homemade chicken nuggets

Baked Treats
*pikelets
*muffins - sweet and savoury
*anzac biscuits
*chocolate cake
*slices
*zucchini slice
*carrot cake
*banana bread


Lunchbox tips from Nel (and a few from me): 

- Rice sticks and salt & vinegar veggie crisps can be bought in individual packets in the gluten free section at Woolies. They are gluten/dairy/preservative free with no GMO's. 

- An example of a veggie box would be - leftover pasta bake in a thermos, rice crackers with hummus, a piece of carrot cake, half a dozen of each...cherry tomatoes, cucumber slices, cheese cubes and a bottle of water. 

- Nel's Fruit Slice: Whiz up dates, cranberries and sultanas with some shredded coconut until its all sticky, stir through some melted coconut oil and quinoa flakes to hold it together, press it into a lined slice tin and keep it in the fridge)

- Healthy chicken nugget recipes can be found here; or try Nel's version - free range chicken breast coated in egg then coconut flour with mixed dried herbs, pan fried then baked, served cold in strips with aioli.

- Try my homemade chicken & vege sausage rolls recipe with spelt rough puff pastry; or Nel's easy chicken & vege sausage rolls: Mince up chicken and add a can of drained organic lentils, some grated carrot and finely chopped onion, roll it up in preservative free puff pastry as you would normal sausage rolls, brush with egg and bake. (You can buy gluten free puff pastry if needed.) 

- For warm baked food, heat everything before school, wrap it in foil and put it into thermos mugs.

- If you're looking for a thermos bowl/mug, you can get "Ez Heat Stayfit" from Woolies. They have a screw top lid with a flap on top that holds a folding reusable spoon, approx. $10. If you put hot liquids in there, do them up really tight - the teachers are always happy to open them for kids. 

- Make your kid's lunchboxes look exciting with cool stuff like hard boiled egg moulds and sandwich cutters.

- Make your own wraps! They're heaps cheaper than bought ones, taste a zillion times better, and are quick to make. Try my spelt tortillas, or for a gluten free wrap make these buckwheat and almond crepes without the vanilla, or try these amazing paleo wraps!


Make your own wraps - cheap, quick, healthy and much yummier than bought ones!
(Recipes above)


Sites to See:

Here's some great blogs and sites to help you with healthy lunchbox ideas...

- The Lunchbox Doctor: for healthy lunchbox menus, recipes, and nutrition tips 

- Meal Planning Your Way: 7 Sandwich Free Lunchbox Ideas

- Well Nourished: daily lunchbox photos on the Facebook page, and lots of great recipes on the website

- Natural New Age Mum: 30 super healthy lunchbox ideas here and best ever healthy lunchbox tips here

- Cut Out the Crap: recipes and tips for cooking without all the nasty stuff, including a recipe book for kid's food

- Brenda Janschek Health & Lifestyle: tips for reducing lunchbox stress, plus delicious recipes

- The Organised Housewife: how to pack a healthy lunchbox


Back-to-School Giveaway...

In my last blog post I shared the inspiring story of Talisha, the amazing young mum who not only is recovering from a serious bowel disease through natural remedies and diet, but has also developed a great product to help mums feed their little ones healthy food! As Talisha says, "With Little Mashies, I can give my child (and myself, when I am sick) healthy, nutrient rich, additive free food wherever we go."

Little Mashies are so easy to use! One way is to fill them with a smoothie and freeze, then pop into kid's lunchboxes where it doubles as an ice pack, and a lunchtime treat! Or fill with custard or chocolate mousse, or banana ice cream, and freeze for a healthy lunchtime treat. Yum!


Here's some recipes that would be perfect for filling up your Little Mashies:

- Green chocolate smoothie (if your school is nut free, replace the nuts with sunflower seeds and pepitas)
- Green smoothies (lots of ideas here)
- Chia pudding (make on coconut water for nut free; add some pureed fruit and coconut yoghurt)
- Coconut Vanilla Sorbet (or any other sorbet, but this one is awesome!)
Banana custard (two custard recipes here, one with eggs but no nuts if you use plain rice milk (add banana), and one with nuts but no eggs)
- Fruit ice creams (lots of ideas here)
Chocolate mousse (dairy free - this recipe is made on eggs; if you can't have eggs but can have nuts at school, make my raw vegan chocolate mousse)

Or this Raw Strawberry Pudding...



100g raw dates, pitted
350g fresh strawberries, hulled, or frozen
180g avocado
100g Raw C coconut water
1/2 tsp pure vanilla extract, concentrate

Place all ingredients into mixing bowl and blend 1 min/speed 9.
Scrape down sides of bowl and lid and blend again 10 sec/speed 6.
Scoop pudding into Little Mashies Reusable Pouches and chill, or freeze.

So here's what you can WIN!
[Prize draw now finished - congrats to Emily and Gabrielle!]

Talisha found that coconut water was one thing that really helped her in her illness, and it is something she loves to use in smoothies to put into her Little Mashies. My favourite coconut water is Natural Raw C - it's got nothing added, no concentrates or preservatives or sweeteners - and it's in handy packs with resealable lids. I have a carton of the 330g packs to give away.

These are perfect for school lunches, either on their own, or added to one of the recipes above and frozen in a Little Mashies pouch. Follow Natural Raw C on their Facebook Page for new recipes every day, using coconut water.

For lots more ideas for filling your reusable pouches, follow Talisha on her Little Mashies Facebook Page.

For those of you with older kids, here's anpther great prize - an allergy friendly cookbook for kids, by Collette White of Cut Out the Crap! This book is packed full of gluten free, dairy free, preservative free recipes that will suit all ages, but especially appeal to kids. Perfect for cooking up some yummy lunchbox treats. Check out Collette's Facebook Page for lots of great ideas and tips.



Last but definitely not least, Biome Eco Stores have kindly donated two amazing lunchboxes!


(worth $85.00)
(worth $21.95)



How to Win:

If you'd like to go into the draw to win one of these 'back-to-school' packs, all you need to do is comment on this blog post, saying what you would do with these products if you won!

Prizes will be drawn on Friday 31st at 8pm via Random.org, and winners notified by email and announced here and on Facebook. Open to Australian residents only.

Note: If you're trying to comment on a mobile device, please click on the title of the blog post then scroll down to the bottom of the page, click 'View web version', then scroll down to the bottom of the page again and click on 'Post a comment', then type in the comment box.

1st prize: 1 starter pack of Little Mashies Reusable Food Pouches worth $23.95                  
                  (includes 5 reusable squeezie pouches, a funnel, and a recipe card)
                1 carton of Raw C Coconut Water (12 x 300ml) worth $39.95
                1 'Cut Out the Crap for Kids' cookbook worth $29.95
                1 PlanetBox lunchbox worth $85

2nd prize: 1 twin pack of Little Mashies Reusable Food Pouches (worth $9.95)
                  (includes 2 reusable squeezie pouches)
                 1 'Cut Out the Crap for Kids' cookbook worth $29.95
                 1 Goodbyn Hero lunchbox worth $21.95
 
All the best with the first week back at school, everyone, and may your lunchbox packing be stress-free and and enjoyable!

Jo xx
          
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