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.

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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.

Quinoa ‘Fried Rice’ Recipe

This is a must-try! I added some chicken breast filet for the men in the house 😉 Thanks heaps to http://www.nerdsteak.com

NERDSTEAK

Quinoa 'Fried Rice' Quinoa ‘Fried Rice’

If you are not familiar with Quinoa and are looking for a good recipe to give it a try, this is the one! Make sure you prep. all of your ingredients ahead of time, because once it is stir-fry time, the cooking process goes pretty quick!

Quinoa ‘Fried Rice’

1 tablespoon peanut oil
1/4 cup diced yellow onion
1/2 cup peeled and diced carrot
1/4 cup sliced green onions plus extra for garnish
3 cloves garlic, minced
1 teaspoon minced ginger
3 cups cooked Incan Quinoa Blend
1/4 cup low-sodium soy sauce
3 tablespoons sweetened seasoned rice wine vinegar
1 teaspoon sesame oil
2 eggs, beaten
1/2 cup green peas, fresh or frozen
Sesame seeds, for garnish

Heat peanut oil in a large sauté pan or wok on high heat, then add yellow onion and carrot. Sauté for about 2 minutes, then add green onions, garlic and…

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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!

Quinoa Salad – Gluten-free office lunch

Hi all, I’ve finally made it and uploaded all the many new recipes I’ve been trying out lately. One of them is this delicious salad. It’s a nice one when still lukewarm but goes well when stored in the fridge, too. Preparation was as easy as it could possibly be since there’s not all too much chopping, dicing and cutting involved. I made this dish as a lunch-to-go for my office days and it was both light AND satiable, so here we go.

What you’ll need for 3-4 meals:

– 150g Quinoa

– 5 carrots, sliced

– 150g snow peas

– olive oil, honey, lemon juice

I topped it up with some yoghurt dressing before serving which made it very fresh:

–  200g plain yoghurt

– 1 small clove garlic, finely chopped or pressed

– salt

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Before you cook the Quinoa make sure you rinse it thoroughly under cold water, because it will be pretty bitter in taste if you don’t. Then add Quinoa, 450ml (triple amount of water) and 1/2 teaspoon of salt to a  pot and bring to a boil. Let it cook for 5 minutes, then turn off the stove, cover the pot and let it soak for 15-20 minutes using the remaining heat from the stove. You will see all the water will be gone by the time the Quinoa is nicely cooked.

Meanwhile, bring a medium sized pot filled with water to a boil, add a generous spoon of salt and when the water is really bubbling, add the carrots and snow peas. Let it cook on high heat for 5 minutes, then pour into a strainer and chill immediately with cold water.

In a small bowl mix 1 tbl. spoon honey, 4 tbl. spoons lemon juice and 5 tbl. spoons olive oil, salt and pepper. In case it doesn’t combine well because the honey is too gooey just heat it up in your microwave for 10-15 seconds, it will blend perfectly after that!

Once the Quinoa is cooked and the veggies have cooled, just add all ingredients to a large salad bowl and mix well, then (if you wish) apportion it into smaller containers if you want to take it out. The salad stores well in the fridge for 2-3 days.

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For the yoghurt dressing blend yoghurt, some salt (little!) and garlic and poor 2-3 table spoons over the salad right before eating. Voilà!

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!

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. 🙂

Another coconut bread

You have probably noticed that I really love to bake breads albeit I haven’t totally succeeded since starting gluten-free. Also I really have a weak spot for sweet breads which can almost be a mixture between bread and cake. That’s why I tried yet another coconut bread – and yes, I also have a weak spot for coconut. 🙂

This one is a winner, though. I received my latest gluten-free baking “tool’ today – Xanthan Gum, and I just HAD to use it.

Here’s what you’ll need:

– 100g grated coconut

– 1 tbsp. baking soda

– 100g raw or brown sugar

– 200g gluten-free all purpose or bread flour

– 2 tsp. xanthan gum

– 60ml vegetable oil

– 240 ml milk or water (if dairy-free)

– 2 eggs

First mix all dry ingredients in a bowl. I roasted the coconut first, in a pan on medium heat without any oil or other grease (3-4 mins, stir constantly). Then mix all wet ingredients in an extra bowl and add to the dry mix. Process on medium speed for 2 mins until the dough is smooth. Fill into a greased or lined loaf pan. Bake in preheated oven (175 degrees C) for 50-60 mins.

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This bread is really what it looks like – DIVINE. It is soft, juicy, sweet… If I weren’t so full already I’d probably have it all straight away.

Again I think it would be nice with some more things in it, like nuts (almonds…) or dried fruits like sultanas. Maybe next time I’ll use little less sugar.

Nevertheless this is an absolute recommendation. 🙂