Beetroot-Kidney Bean-Salad

I visited my auntie the other weekend and I have always loved her food. She from an Asian country and has a very special way of cooking and preparing food and I think it is just awesome. Everytime we visit with her and her family there would be the most delicious meals on the table combining ‘modern’ food issues such as low-fat, gluten-free or vegetarian and very traditional tastes, cooking methods or ingredients brought over from her home country.
This time I fell for a really yummy salad which I already re-made last week and which makes a really perfect office lunch. It is rich in vitamins and low in fat, it is of course gluten-free and satiable: Beetroot-Kidney Bean-Salad.

Here’s what you need for appr. 3 lunches:
– 1 large beetroot – cook unpeeled for about 45 – 60 min in water, then peel and dice
– 5 potatoes, cooked and diced – be careful they are not overcooked!
– 3 carrots, diced and cooked for about 7 mins – they should remain al dente!
– 3 pieces of green onion, sliced
– 1 small can of kidney beans, drained and washed
– 6 pieces of gerkins, diced
Dressing:
– olive oil, white wine vinegar and salt / pepper, freshly chopped parsley

The preparation is really easy once you have cooked the beetroot, potatoes and carrots. Of course you can do the cooking in advance, a day ahead or so and then assemble the salad later.
Add all ingredients to large saladbowl, whisk together the dressing and mix with the salad. Add extra salt and pepper to taste. And this is basically it. The salad keeps in the fridge for 2-3 days – but by then it will be gone anyway because it is so yummy. I hope you’ll like it as much as I did.

Summerly days behind and a long weekend ahead of us

It has been pretty quiet on the blog – for no better reason than: a whiff of summer. The last couple of days have been so blissfully summery that we just HAD to spend each and every spare minute outside. Though we didn’t manage it down to the beach again we still had a great time and the kids simply loved it. They dug straight into the sandpit or the tree swing or joined me in planting some pots and eagerly watered them. Also getting dressed in the mornings was no longer trouble and fighting – it was quick and easy and done in no time seeing that we only had to take some shorts and shirts on and off we could go.
Today is the first day for the weather to cool off slightly – but that’s ok so we finally get things done inside the house and also here on the blog.
Despite the warmth and long outside hours I managed to try a number of new gluten-free dishes which I will hopefully type in rather sooner than later. I have tried some more Quinoa, a delicious office lunch containing beetroot, red beans and gerkins and a brilliantly moist buckwheat bread, just to mention a few.

For now there lies a long weekend ahead of us, which we will spend visiting dear old friends down in the southwest of the country. This means a pretty long drive in the car – 4 or 5 hours depending on the traffic – with the 3 monkeys in the backseat. I already started preparing some entertainment (a.k.a. taking some long forgotten CDs and books) and yummy provisions. I’ll try sushi rolls for the drive and the first day, which we will most likely spend at the Zoo when we get there. I know hubby, Miss Monkey and I myself just LOVE sushi and I want to leave the rolls pretty big instead of cutting them down into bits to make it more of a to-go-snack than fancy meal. I think of using tuna, avocado, capsicum und cucumber as filling and I hope it makes a good meal for a day on the road. Also, I’m curious to see if the smallest monkey will have it – though this one is a real food machine and normally gulps almost everything. The middle monkey won’t have it as far as I know. He has been a real food-moaner lately and I think this really sucks but so far I haven’t come up with something to do about it and I really don’t want to force food into him. Basically, though, I think he’s is just a lazy eater – too lazy to try out new tastes. Hmm, we’ll see how it goes when we’re away for those days. I will definitely keep you posted.

The easiest banana-bread ever – gluten-free

Tonight I  threw together a very quick banana bread on impulse. I was sorting out the fridge and groceries as my weekend shopping is due tomorrow and when doing so I came across those 3 very   V-E-R-Y ripe bananas of which I knew for sure nobody in this house will ever eat. Since we’ve been wasting some food, especially overdue fruits, lately, I felt bound to use these poor creatures for something nice. So I was quickly looking up some recipes on the internet but eventually struck the best in one of my older cook books – I just had to convert it to make it gluten-free and there I was: Quickly and overly easy assembling a banana bread. As easy as the prep was as yummy was / is the result. The hardest part of the making was actually the 40-minute-wait while the loaf was baking. 🙂

Here’s what you’ll need for a medium loaf:
3 very ripe bananas
some tablespoons of either maple sirup or pita sirup – really depending on how sweet you like it
3 tablespoons of vegetable oil
1 egg
1 egg white, beaten
125g cake’n’bake gluten-free flour
125 g rice flour

Place the bananas, the egg (the whole one… keep the stiff egg white for later), sirup and oil in your food processor and mix until the bananas are broken up and everything is well-combined.
In a bowl, mix the 2 flour types, then add the banana-mixure and stir through thoroughly, at the end add the stiff egg white and blend.
Fill the batter into a loaf pan and bake the bread for 35-40 minutes on medium heat (175 degrees C).

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It will not come up very much and like most banana breads it will stay a little moist on the inside. I think it would also be nice to add some nuts or/and choc-bits. It keeps well in a plastic bag and tastes delicious when reheated / roasted in your toaster. Plus: This one is really low-fat! Voilà! I hope you enjoy.

Chicken Pie – trying out guten-free puff pastry

When I was browsing the store for gluten-free things the other day I first time noticed they even have a full ‘Frozen gluten-free food’ section there! Heaven! This was really THE discovery of that day. Taking a closer look the frozen puff pastry automatically caught my eye. I LOVE puff pastry, no matter if sweet or hearty and I’ve really missed it since going gluten-free. So of course I bought a pack even if it was really pricy compared to regular frozen puff pastry. Anyway. I bought it, took it home, stored it in my freezer and started hunting for a good recipe to use the pastry. I found one on the internet, a pie. A chicken pie. I’ve always wanted to make a pie, even when I wasn’t even gluten-free, so this was my chance. Just let me tell you: It was the easiest thing to make and everyone loved it.

Here’s what you’ll need for 3-4 people:

– 500g chicken breast, no bones, no skin, cut into 3×3 cm pieces (approximately….)

– 250g fresh mushrooms, clean and sliced

– 2 onions, finely chopped (so the kids won’t notice…)

– a bit of cream (I used Creme Fraiche), ca. 100g

– herbs, if you like

– 1 sheet of puff pastry – it should be defrosted by the time you need it

– 150g diced bacon

– 1 tablespoon gluten-free all purpose flour

– 300ml vegetable stock (watch out for gluten-free stock!)

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In a large pan, heat some olive oil and insert mushrooms, onions, bacon and chicken. Let it stew for about 5 minutes, stirring occasionally. Add the stock and bring to a boil. In a very small bowl mix the flour and 1-2 tablespoons of water to get an even paste. When the mix is boiling in your pan, add the flour-paste and stir thoroughly, so the sauce will become thicker. Remove from heat and add the cream as well as salt, pepper, herbs to taste.

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Fill the mix into an oven-safe dish and cover it with the puff-pastry, just like a lid. You can now mix an egg yolk and some milk and ‘paint’ the pastry’ with it, it makes a nice tan when the dish is done.

Put in your oven on medium heat (170 degrees) for about 20-30 minutes, you’ll see when the pastry is done.

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Serve some fresh salad or cooked veggies as side dish and this makes a perfect, quick and easy family dinner. Voilà!

Family favourite: Lasagne

Lasagne is one of the most popular dishes of our family and one that really EVERYONE likes without any fuzzing around. Naturally, lasagne comes with pasta sheets and pasta comes with gluten. 😦 So I’ve been looking around and indeed found gluten-free pasta sheets in the store which I thought I should give a try. So I made a big dish of ‘normal’ lasagna and a smaller one for me and my middle monkey using those gluten-free sheets. I was a little skeptical beforehand as those gluten-free ones demand more prep than the others; you have to pre-cook them but also be careful not to over-cook them so it’s a bit of a tightrope walk. But in the end it turned out to be a really good and yummy substitute. So here’s how “my” home-made lasagne is done:

What you’ll need to feed a family of 5-7:

– 750g minced beef

– 500ml tomato passata

– 1 small can of tomato purree

– 1 onion, finely chopped

– 1 zucchini, diced

– 2-3 carrots, diced

– 1 capsicum, diced

– lasagne sheets, gluten-free if you need to – then cook according to the instructions on the cover.

– 250g mixed grated cheese, I used grana padano and gourd

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In a pan, heat some olive oil and add the beef and onions, stir constantly until the beef and onions get a little tanned. 😉 In a large pot, heat some more olive oil and add the veggies, do not stir too much as they should also get a little tanned and don’t burn that easy anyway. When the beef/onion mix is well cooked, add it to the veggies and also add the the tomato purree, stir thoroughly until all is well-blended. Finally add the tomato passata and ca. 400ml of water (use it to rinse the bottle!) and bring everything to a boil, then season with salt, pepper, rosemary, herbs… whatever you like. Make sure the taste is really hearty, rather take some more salt than too little as the pasta sheets will soak up a lot later.

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Once the filling is done start the layering: Fill in some sauce into an oven pan or your usual lasagne dish so the bottom is lightly but fully covered. Then comes the pasta sheet, then the filling again — keep going until you used up all your filling making sure the last layer is Sauce not pasta! Cover with cheese and put in the oven. It usually takes 25-30 minutes until the pasta is well-done, use a temperature of 180-200 degrees C.

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Cut it up into pieces and enjoy! Voilà!

PS: This is one of the dishes that gets better every time you reheat it … Try it!

A classic for a reason: Asparagus

I am just enjoying the end of a wonderful weekend and putting in some blog work, finally typing and editing at least some of the new recipes.

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It’s been the first really warm weekend of the year and to make the most of it we spent it in the cottage with my in-laws seeing that hubby was off working saturday anyway so the kids and I weren’t all alone. It was warm as in “Take your jackets and sweaters off”-warm and we were able to go down to the beach on saturday spending almost 3 hours by the lovely and beloved sea. I still remember last year when the littlest monkey was all but excited about sandy beaches – a fact that was actually spoiling numerous beach days for the rest of us back then. But now? He LOVED it. Yippie! As soon as we got down to the beach and Miss Monkey had taken his shoes off he was beyond thrilled.

In the evening we had a nice barbecue – and I decided to collect some of my family’s BBQ-favourites to publish here on the blog. We are mostly going rather plain and simple, rather less than more and mostly things are naturally gluten-free anyway so I think it will make a good collection for you all.

To wind up this sunny, warm and perfect weekend we’ve had the first Asparagus of the season and here we also kept it plain and simple:

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I peeled it outside in the sun and even though I was actually postponing this unloved job several times today it was eventually done in no time. For the 5 of us – considering that the boys would each have only a very small share – I used:

– 2kg white Asparagus

– 1kg fresh (new) potatoes

. 200g butter

– 2 tbl. spoons breadcrumbs

– 4 egg yolks

I cooked the potatoes in the skin and peeled them after cooking. For the Asparagus I used a big pot of warm water, 2 teaspoons salt and sugar each, 1/2 teaspoon ground nutmeg and a splash of lemon juice. Just insert the Asparagus and bring to a boil. Once the water is boiling you have to be carefull not overcook the Asparagus as this goes really quick. I like it to be rather al’dente, so I’d say 5 minutes actual cooking time is sufficient.

As my family is devided into “Sauce lovers” and “Butter lovers” when it comes to Asparagus I usually make both: For the butter I heat a small pan and add the breadcrumbs (which were not gluten-free, but I’m on the sauce side anyway). Stir regularly so they get a nice “tan”. 🙂 Then add ca 75gr of butter into the hot pan and let it melt. The crumbs and the butter will combine and make a nice ‘dip’ for the veggies (can be used with any other veggies than Asparagus as well).

Finally it came down to Hollandaise Sauce which is way easier made than it’s reputation and basically done in 4 steps:

1. Add 4 egg yolks, a pinch of both sugar and salt and 4 tbl. spoons of water into a stainless steel pot or bowl and whisk until everything is well-blended.

2. Add 125gr of butter to another small pot and let it melt on low heat.

3.. Put the bowl/pot with the egg yolks above another pot with very hot (preferably not boiling) water (= bain marie) and whisk, whisk, whisk, whisk, whisk… It really is all about whisking!!! The warmth and the whisking will make the egg yolks thicker, just like a sauce.

4. When the egg yolks have become really creamy slowly add the liquid butter by pouring it into the mix and still whisk, whisk, whisk…

Now you only have to season the sauce with salt, pepper and lemon and you’re done with it. Note: Hollandaise Sauce is only lukewarm when you make it and you cannot heat it up again, so it should be last on your cooking agenda. Also, the sauce becomes firm once it totally cools down. I like to use it as a spread on roasted bread, it’s really nice.

Voilà! This is one of our favorite dishes in April and May as this is the best season for local Asparagus. I hope you enjoy!

Post-holiday – again

 

Hi all, I’ve been absent for a while as you probably noticed. We took a week off and went to Denmark for a family vacation with the monkeys and my brother plus his family. Let me tell you this was a totally different kind of holiday from what we’ve experienced just 3 weeks ago when taking a timeout in Italy! 🙂 But it was no less fun and enjoyable and first and foremost: it was spending quality family time together all the 5 of us, something we really needed to do. We captured playgrounds in the woods or at the beach, conquered numerous castles and watched the Royal Guards and Horses on duty. We had a lot of Danish ice cream and some nice BBQ-lunches in the sun. We got drenched on a walk as short as 150 meters and discovered the fun of Viking Chess Battles with the whole family.

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Due to those vacation and the following Easter weekend which we spent with hubby’s family at the cottage, I haven’t tried new or transformed old gluten-free dishes lately but I do have a number of delicious meals queuing which I will of course write about here shortly. So be prepared for gluten-free versions of traditional food such as Lasagna or pie and culinary experiments including Quinoa and Buckwheat and yet another new bread.

Salad discovery of the week // Holiday reminder

We spent the last day of our Italy-getaway in Nice, as we departed from Nice Airport towards home. It is a lovely, lively, boutique city. I really liked it there though the differences to my beloved Italy were omnipresent even if it’s just a stone throw away. We found it for example very, very hard to settle for some lunch. The cafés and restaurants were pretty expensive, pretty crowded and – pretty French. I don’t know French.

Anyway when we finally decided for one restaurant I chose “Salad Nicoise” which I have never heard of before – bad gap in my education! 😉 It was delicious and as soon as we got home I started to research the web for this salad. I found thousands of hits and read a few dozens – eventually mixing all those variations into one recipe that fit me. I tried it out at the weekend when we had my brother over for dinner. Usually men are not very excited when it’s salad for dinner and hubby and my brother were – say, skeptical. But this salad is a real whopper and it even convinced the two of them.

Here’s what you’ll need to feed 3-4:

– 6-8 small young potatoes, cooked and cut in quarters

– 150g green beans, cooked and cut in halves

– 4 eggs, cooked and cut in quarters

– 250g ripe cherry tomatoes, cut in halves

– 2 cans of tuna, drained

– 1/4 of an iceberg salad

– 1/2 red onion, sliced

– green or black olives

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In a flat bowl fill in the ingredients as follows: iceberg salad – tuna – tomatoes – potatoes – eggs – beans – onions – olives.

For the dressing, fill into a high jar:

– 4 tbl spoons olive oil

– 2 tbl spoons balsamico bianco

– 1 tbl spoon mustard

– 1 tbl spoon honey

– 1 tbl spoon mayonnaise

– some salt (not too much)

Use the puree-unit of your food processor to get a smooth, soft, well-blended dressing. Add some table spoons of water if you think it’s too thick (I did so) and taste to season with salt and pepper. Add to the salad and Voilà!

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I cooked the potatoes, eggs and beans in the morning already and kept them in the fridge. This way the salad is really very quick-assembled. It is really delicious and satiable. Enjoy!

Gluten-free Cheese Cake (New York Style)

As it was my middle monkey’s birthday last week and we usually have a family get-together on these occasions I was on the hunt for nice gluten-free cakes and sweeties to serve the family on an April-afternoon. When I came across this recipe a couple of weeks ago I thought on the spot it would be an easy transfer into gluten-free: it does not at all contain too much flour and the pastry of the cake (which contains the flour) is not supposed to be a fluffy and soft one but thin and more like a cookie.

This cake recipe is originally adapted from Donna Hay, I changed more than just the type of flour though so I consider it ‘mine’ now 😉

What you’ll need for the pastry:

– 150g gluten-free flour (again I used bake’n’cake-flour mix)

– 100g butter

– 50g sugar

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Mix all ingredients in a small bowl, until it becomes a crumble-dough. It’s best to use your fingers instead of a food processor. Cover a round normal baking pan with pan liner, preheat your oven to 175 degrees C. Fill the crumbles/dough into the pan and spread evenly until the pan is fully filled with dough.  Bake for 30-35 minutes, then set aside.

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For the cheese filling you’ll need:

– 500g ricotta cheese

– 300g cream cheese (I used fat reduced cream cheese and it worked well)

– 4 eggs

– 250g sugar

– rind of one big lemon (preferably organic)

– juice of one big lemon

– 1,5 tbl spoons cornflour

– 2 tbl spoons water

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Mix all ingredients except water and cornflour in a bowl, using your food processor. Mix water and cornflour in a small extra bowl until smooth then add to the cheese filling, stir thoroughly. Fill the mass into the baking pan on top of the pastry and bake for another 70 minutes.

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Actually one should then turn the oven off and leave the cake inside until cooled. As I had several other baking goods already queuing I had to take my cake out of the oven and let it cool outside. Maybe this is the reason why it seemed a little pale in the end, though taste, shape and stiffness were supreme. It was the real winner of the party and no-one actually noticed it was gluten-free. 🙂

Family favorite: Potato-salad, gluten-free

I know I’m one day behind promised publication of this dish, but I can assure you: it was worth the wait. 🙂

This potato salad is a classic around where we live and each and every family has a secret formula of ingredients and way of cooking – of course each claiming to be ‘THE’ real potato salad. So, here comes my ‘secret’ recipe. It is a mixure of the different kinds of potato salads eaten in hubby’s and my family, I just picked out the best parts and made my own.  It’s not exactly a quick one but it’s eventually easy in the end and both kids and adults love it.

For a feeding of 8 you’ll need:

– 2,5 kg potatoes, cooked THEN peeled and sliced or diced

– 2-3 onions, peeled and finely diced (or chopped in the food processor)

– 400 g gherkins, diced. IMPORTANT: Keep the brew!! You’ll need it for the dressing

– 400 g cooked ham (or something similar) – buy in a piece and then also dice like the gherkins

– 200 g mayonnaise – buy the ‘real’ mayo, not fat-reduced etc. take a look at the ingredients, real good mayo should contain not much more than eggs and oil, at least there is a number of labels without gluten

– some vegetable oil

– 1 tbl. spoon butter

– 1 tbl. spoon gluten-free all purpose flour

You can cook (and even peel) the potatoes a day in advance if it fits your schedule, if not start preparation with the potatoes because they need to cool down to be easily peeled and sliced.

Heat oil and diced onions in a small pot on medium heat until the onions become  glassy, then fill into a small bowl or plate. In the same pot now heat the butter until liquid, add the flour and stir well until combined. Fill roux up with the brew saved from the gherkins, stir constantly until thickened. Then turn off from the heat. This is the basis of the salad’s dressing. Now add all other ingredients: diced gherkins, diced ham, onions and mayonnaise. Season generously with salt and pepper as the potatoes will soak up a lot of salt. Stir well until it’s a consistent mass. Slice the potatoes into a big bowl or pot and add the dressing. Stir well but carefully in order not to break (or mash 😉 ) the potatoes. Cover and set aside for at least 5 hours in a cool place, best would be over night.

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Preparation will take about an hour or 1.5 hours, but it’s really worth it. You can have this salad all by itself or serve with chicken, steak or frankfurter. Voilà!