Friday, 30 August 2013

Tempura Battered Fish Fingers with Asian Salad

We've all been a little under the weather with colds this week so the consumption of vitamin C, lemons and apple cider vinegar has been going through the roof!

Fathers day this weekend - yay! The kids love all the special celebration days, and it is so much fun getting caught up in the excitement of it all with them. I can't say too much about it as hubby also reads this blog, but the girls have been busy! We also have lunch with my father-in-law, dinner with my stepdad, and no doubt a visit at some stage with hubby's stepdad at some point. Some days, like fathers day, it's almost a relief that my dad lives overseas - there are only so many dads you can celebrate in one day!!

Tonight we had a delicious, light, fresh fish dinner. I pan-fried the fish in a light tempura batter and served it with homemade shoestring potato and kumara fries, steamed broccolini and asian style salad.

My wonderful mother-in-law had been to the fishmonger earlier today and dropped of some gorgeous fresh snapper which is such a great meaty fish. I dropped into hubby's work today to say hi while we were in the area and one of his staff had a delicious salad that she had made. I had a taste and thought it would be easy enough to recreate at home but using 'real food' ingredients. Her dressing had vinegar, salt and sugar in it. I used apple cider vinegar, honey and salt as alternatives and it worked really well.

Apologies for the terrible photo - I was running very late with dinner and pretty much just threw it all on a plate and took a photo as I was putting it on the table!! From left broccolini, shoestring fries, mango salad, cucumber salad, tempura fish. It was crazy delicious, and we all had seconds!

Tempura Battered Fish Fingers

Gluten-free, dairy-free, soy-free, nut-free, free of refined sugar

Ingredients:

2 large snapper fillets
1 egg
2 tbsp cornflour
1 tsp ground black pepper
1 tsp salt
1 tbsp rice wine vinegar
2 tbsp coconut oil

Directions:

1. In a medium bowl, beat the egg well.
2. To the egg, add the cornflour, pepper, salt, and vinegar. Whisk until well combined. The batter will be thin, and will only give a light coating. If you prefer a thicker batter, double the quantity of cornflour
3. Cut the fish into chunks or fingers
4. Heat 1 tbsp coconut oil in a frying pan over a medium heat.
5. Dip fish pieces into batter then put straight in the pan. Repeat until about half the fish is in the pan (it is best to cook it in 2 batches so you don't overcrowd the pan). Fry for a couple of minutes until golden brown, then flip and cook for another couple of minutes on the other side.
6. Remove fish and place on a plate while you repeat the process with the rest of the fish.
7. Serve with homemade chips and vegetables.

Asian Salad

Gluten-free, dairy-free, soy-free, nut-free, free of refined sugar

Ingredients:


Salad:
1 carrot, cut into fine matchsticks (julienned)
1 cup very finely sliced cabbage
1 apple, peeled and julienned
1 red chilli, finely chopped (remove the seeds for a less intense chilli taste, or omit altogether if you are not a chilli eater)

Then choose either:
½ cucumber, julienned
or
1 cheek of mango, julienned

Dressing:
¼ cup vinegar
1 tbsp honey 
1 ½ tsp salt
1 tbsp water

Directions:

Combine salad ingredients in a bowl. Mix well. Pour dressing over and combine.

This makes a really light, refreshing meal and it will be a great go-to meal coming into the warmer seasons. 

The chips are really easy to make  - simply cut a few potatoes and kumara into thin shoestring size pieces, and mix a little coconut oil and salt with them. Spread out on a baking tray and bake in a medium oven (about 170-180C) until golden brown and crispy.

x









Tuesday, 27 August 2013

Real Food Breakfast Ideas

I thought it may be about time to do a few breakfast recipes. It can be hard sometimes to come up with quick and easy breakfast ideas, especially when you are trying to rely on real, nutritious food. Kids cereals are notoriously high in all sorts of nasties, not least of which is the massively high refined sugar content.

Hubby and I are big fans of eggs for breakfast, and often have an omelet or some poached or scrambled eggs. He prefers scrambled eggs on toast, I am more the omelet eater. I love adding different vegetables to the pan and then a couple of eggs to bind it all together. My favourite would have to be sliced mushrooms, spring onions and fresh thyme from the garden, sautéed with a little garlic until juicy then add a couple of well beaten eggs. Serve on its own or with toast. I sometimes add a little coconut milk to the beaten egg is I have some in the fridge just to change it up a bit.

The kids have been going through a boiled eggs and soldiers phase, and they are also big fans of baked beans on toast. There are a couple of good brands of baked beans which are gluten free and don't have any nasties in them. Ceres organic do a good one, as do Chantal Organics. Both are available from the supermarket.

Smoothies are another fast, easy option. They are good on their own as a quick breakfast, or they can be added with other breakfast dishes to make complete meal. It's easy to make a big batch to serve everyone, or to quickly make different flavours to suit each person. Here are a couple that we have whipped up over the past wee while...

 Dragonfruit and banana - makes a fantastic almost fluorescent pink shake. Great for the kids!

Just add half a dragonfruit, a banana and almond or coconut milk and blend until smooth


 Spinach and berry protein shake

Just add 1/2 cup coconut water, 1/2 cup baby spinach, 1/2 cup frozen berries of your choice and a scoop of your favorite protein powder. Blend until smooth. This one is great post workout


Ultimate Greens - Full of green goodness, an awesome immune booster for winter sniffles

Just add 1/2 cup coconut water, 1 cup baby spinach, 1 stick of celery, 1 kiwifruit (you can also add half an apple if you prefer a little more sweetness) and blend until smooth

As always, the classic fallback for the kids is a banana smoothie. The girls' favourite recipe is as follows: 
1 cup almond or coconut milk
1 banana
1/2 cup fresh or frozen berries
Blend until smooth. You can add a teaspoon of manuka honey for an immune boosting sweetener if preferred. 

The other day we had one of those gloomy rainy days and we were all cooped up inside wondering what to do. I thought it might be fun to let the kids have a go at making their own muesli. They often have cereal for a quick breakfast option (They swing between Hubbards Gluten Free Rice Bubbles or Freedom Foods Buckwheat flakes) but I wanted to get them a little more involved in their food choices. I had some puffed rice in the cupboard and a whole bunch of different varieties of dried fruits, nuts and seeds. I put a variety of fruits into little bowls, threw the puffed rice onto a baking tray and let the kids choose what they wanted to add to the mix. This is what we came up with....



Gluten-Free Chunky Breakfast Crunch 

Gluten-free, Dairy-free, soy-free, free of refined sugar

Ingredients: (Note, all quantities are approximate - just add however much you like!)

2 cups Puffed Rice
1 cup pumpkin seeds
1/2 cup sunflower seeds
1 cup coconut flakes (or threads or desiccated)
1/2 cup pecan nuts (or nuts of your choice)
1/2 cup sliced almonds
1/2 cup chopped dried bananas (or banana chips)
1/2 cup dried apricots
2 tbsp honey (either the runny variety or melt your harder variety)
Optional: 1/4 cup orange juice or juice of your choice

Directions:

1. Preheat oven to 160C. Line a baking tray with baking paper
2. In a bowl combine all ingredients and mix until evenly combined
3. Spread the mixture out on the baking tray. Try to make it an even, thin spread so it cooks evenly
4. Bake for around 15-20 minutes or until golden brown. Check every 5 minutes or so and give it a bit of a mix so that everything browns evenly.
5. Store in an airtight container. Perfect with a little milk (almond, coconut or rice) for breakfast with some chopped fruit, or a great afternoon snack after kindy!

x


Sunday, 25 August 2013

Apricot and Date Buckwheat Biscuits

A little sweet treat to start the week - delicious Apricot and Date Buckwheat Biscuits. There was a packet of dried apricots lingering in the cupboard, and I had a strong desire to bake something (no surprise there!). 20 minutes later these little morsels were making their way out of the oven and into hungry little bellies in the kitchen.



I have been going through a bit of a phase lately of using a lot of coconut flour and almond flour in baking, and while I still love these options I decided it was time to mix it up a little and branch out. I found a bag of buckwheat flour in the pantry - perfect!

Buckwheat, despite the name, is not wheat at all. It is in fact a seed related to rhubarb and is gluten-free. It is high in protein, antioxidants, minerals and soluble fibre. Bit of a wonder-food really! You can buy it in a number of different forms, including whole 'groats' (hulled whole buckwheat) or already ground into flour. I'd recommend the flour for beginners, but if you are a little more adventurous you could buy the groats and add them to muesli, sprinkle them on your breakfast, or make into a hot porridge-like winter morning warmer. Both forms are readily available from most supermarkets or health food stores.

For this recipe I used a mix of buckwheat and brown rice flours, as buckwheat flour on its own can have a slight 'taste' to it if you're not used to it, but if you prefer not to use rice flour you could just double the quantity of buckwheat flour, or substitute it for tapioca flour, coconut flour or almond flour. They should all work, you may just need to half the quantity if you choose coconut flour due to it's very thirsty ways (or use a little more liquid).

Apricot and Date Buckwheat Biscuits 

(Gluten-free, nut-free, soy-free, free of refined sugar, option for dairy-free)

Ingredients:

1 cup dried dates roughly chopped
1 cup dried apricots roughly chopped
½ cup boiling water
½ tsp baking soda
50g butter or coconut oil, melted
¼ cup buckwheat flour
¼ cup brown rice flour
½ cup desiccated coconut
1 tsp vanilla essence
1 tsp baking powder
1 egg, lightly beaten

Directions:

  1.     Preheat oven to 160C fanbake. Line or grease a baking tray
  2.     In a small bowl cover place dates and baking soda. Cover with boiling water and soak for 10 minutes or so while you prepare the rest of the ingredients
  3.     In a medium bowl sift the flours with the baking powder then add coconut. Mix to combine.
  4.     In a blender or food processor, place the apricots and soaked dates (including the water). Blend until mostly smooth (a few chunks don’t matter). Add butter or coconut oil, and vanilla and pulse a couple of times to combine.
  5.     Add apricot and date mixture, and egg to the flour mixture. Stir until all are well combined. The mixture will start to thicken
  6.     Place tablespoons of mixture onto the prepared baking tray. Flatten gently with a fork, or your fingers.
  7.     Bake for around 10 minutes until golden brown.
  8.     These can be eaten warm, or allow to cool completely if you want a more firm biscuit. The end texture is a soft chewy biscuit. 

  Happy Monday everyone 

  x







Cabbage Rolls with Tomato Sauce

Wow - our garden is a swamp!! And we live at the top of the hill, so I can only imagine the chaos going on in the drainage at the bottom of the hill! What a massive downpour today - the kids thought it was very exciting though and really enjoyed playing out on the deck (it's covered) with the rain thundering down.

There was a lovely break in the rain during the middle of the day when we managed to venture out to the playground at Point Chevalier - it's a great playground, with a good range of activities for different ages. The other bonus is that it currently comes with a healthy serving of mud! Both of the girls managed to end up completely caked in mud, and had to go home starkers which they of course thought was hilarious!

Tonight for dinner I really wanted to use up some very limp looking cabbage that has been hiding in our second fridge for a while. Cabbage is one of those ingredients that I love the idea of, but struggle to think of ideas for how to use it other than in stir-fries.

I had seen a recipe a long time ago for cabbage rolls (I think they are a very popular dish in parts of eastern Europe, Poland is ringing a bell?), and it was in the back of my mind as something that would either work really well or the whole family would think I'd gone mad! With the limp cabbage in the fridge, and the vague thought of using it in a roll, I ventured into the kitchen to see what I could come up with.

Thankfully, I managed to put something together that didn't just get eaten, it got devoured! The kids loved it, hubby went back for a big helping of seconds, and it has now been added to the list of favorites - yay! Oddly enough the kids didn't seem to even notice that they were eating cabbage, as it was kind of more like a giant tomato sauce covered spring roll.

 All rolled up and ready to go in the oven

 Cooked! 

The final product served and ready to dig in

Cabbage Rolls with Tomato Sauce 

Ingredients:


Cabbage Rolls:

500g Pork Mince (or mince of your choice if you don't like pork, but it does work well with the cabbage)
1 onion, diced
2 cloves garlic, finely chopped or grated
2 carrots, grated
8-10 button mushrooms, roughly chopped into pieces approx 1cmx1cm
1 tsp ground paprika
2 tbsp tomato paste
1/8 cup red wine
1 tsp thyme, dried or fresh
1 cup cooked brown rice
1 tbsp coconut oil, or cooking oil of your choice
8 cabbage leaves (I used Savoy Cabbage, but you can use any variety)

Tomato Sauce:

400g jar of tomato passata, or tinned tomatoes
1tsp apple cider vinegar
1 handful fresh basil, roughly chopped
¼ cup water or stock (chicken or vegetable)
1 tsp honey (optional)

Directions:
  1.     Preheat oven to 180C
  2.     Heat a saucepan of water over medium heat. Blanch cabbage leaves for approx 5 minutes until soft. Rinse with cold water to stop the cooking process. Squeeze the leaves to get the excess water out, and place to one side.
  3.     In a saucepan or frying pan, heat coconut oil over a medium heat. Cook onions and garlic until soft and aromatic. Add the pork mince and cook for around 5 minutes until no longer pink.
  4.     Add the mushrooms and grated carrot. Cook for a few minutes until mushrooms are starting to soften.
  5.     Add paprika, tomato paste, thyme, red wine and rice and cook until rice is heated through. Season with salt and pepper.
  6.     In a ovenproof baking dish, lay one of your cabbage leaves down and put a scoop of the pork mince on top (the size of your scoop will depend on the size of your leaf). Roll the cabbage around the meat. Repeat the process until all of your cabbage leaves are in the baking dish. You can make the rolls on a chopping board or plate and then transfer them to the baking dish, but I found it easier just to make them in the dish to save having to transfer them which can be a messy process.
  7.     In a small saucepan, place all the ingredients for the tomato sauce. Heat gently, then pour the sauce over the cabbage rolls.
  8.     Cook the rolls in the oven for approx 30 minutes

Serve with baked potatoes, kale chips, and roasted pumpkin.





Tuesday, 20 August 2013

Almond and Cashew Nut Butter

I have been a little absent from the blog for a few days, but never fear - I have still been creating in the kitchen. As if there was any doubt! If there is one thing I will always do it is spend time in the kitchen. It is therapy after a long day, relaxation on a quiet day, and the one place I go where I feel confident in my abilities. Some days it does not always go to plan, but that is half the fun!

Todays post is for a yummy almond and cashew nut butter. Continuing with my theme of making eating real food cost effective, I decided to make my own nut butter. While good quality peanut butter is a little pricey, but not totally crazy (we buy the 100% Nuts brand), good quality almond butter is around $10 a jar, at least! The kids love almond butter, and enjoy snacking on almond butter on rice crackers, almond butter on celery, or apple 'donuts' with almond butter (remove the core from a whole apple then slice it across ways to create 'donuts' then spread with almond butter - delicious!!)

I was going to make just plain almond butter, but looking in the pantry I had loads of cashew nuts too so decided to make a blend. So delicious! Needless to say it didn't last long, but to be fair I didn't make a huge amount as it was an experiment and I didn't want to waste the nuts if it didn't work out. But work out it did, so next time it'll be double the quantity!


 Golden roasted....mmmmmm

Little pot of golden goodness - still warm, and totally irresistible!


Almond and Cashew Nut Butter

Ingredients:

1 cup raw almonds
1 cup raw cashew nuts

Directions:

1. Preheat oven to 160C.
2. On a lined baking tray place the almonds and cashews
3. Roast the nuts for around 10-15 minutes, checking often as they can burn quickly, and you may need to give them a mix every now and then just to keep them get them evenly roasted. 
4. Once the nuts are golden roasted, remove from the oven and allow to cool. They can still be a little warm when you blend them, but not piping hot - it may damage your blender!
5. In a high speed blender or food processor, place the roasted nuts. 
6. Blend for somewhere between 5-10 minutes depending on your blender. You may need to scrape down the sides of the blender every now and then to ensure it is all incorporated and evenly blended.
7. You will end up with a smooth, creamy delicious spreadable nut butter. This is delicious as is, and there is no need to add any oil as the natural oils of the nuts will be enough. Some people may like to add a pinch of salt just to enhance the flavours, but it is delicious without too. 
8. Enjoy on toast for breakfast, on fruit for a snack, in baking, in curries or just as is on a spoon. A great way to get in some quick protein and an energy boost. 


x


Sunday, 11 August 2013

Feijoa, Coconut and Ginger Muffins, 2 ways


A rainy old day like today really lends itself to pottering at home, and for us that usually involves some kind of kitchen creation.

Today I was browsing through an old Healthy Food Guide Magazine and found a tasty looking recipe for Feijoa and Coconut muffins that I thought could be easily adapted to suit our needs. After yesterdays foray into making coconut milk (click here for to check it out http://www.keepingitreal.net.nz/2013/08/real-coconut-milk-major-cost-saver.html) there was an abundance of coconut products in the fridge. I also had a whole bunch of feijoa stored away in the freezer left over from feijoa season, and after seeing the recipe my tastebuds were very keen for that unique feijoa flavour!

I decided to make a couple of versions just for fun because the fridge was so full of coconut. I made a standard gluten-free, dairy-free version which will be great to store in the freezer for the kids lunches, and then a full gluten-free, dairy-free, grain-free version for a healthy snack.

If you are not lucky enough to have a sneaky stash of feijoa in the freezer you can use any fruit of your choice as a substitute.

Here goes:

Feijoa, Coconut and Ginger Muffins (gluten-free, dairy free, soy-free, free of refined sugar)


Ingredients:

1 cup feijoa flesh, diced (or fruit of your choice)
2 tbsp lime juice (you could use lemon)
75g butter or coconut oil
¼ cup honey
2 eggs, separated
½ cup desiccated coconut
1 cup gluten free flour
1 tsp ground ginger
1 tsp baking powder
½ tsp baking soda
pinch of salt (optional)
½ cup coconut milk (or milk of your choice)

Directions:

  1.     Grease or line a muffin tin. Preheat the oven to 180C (170 fan). Put the feijoa in a bowl with the lime juice and set aside
  2.     Cream the butter (or oil) with the honey until well mixed. Add the egg yolks and beat until creamy  
  3.     Add the sifted dry ingredients and coconut. Fold in to the egg mixture
  4.     Add feijoas and milk and mix until combined
  5.     In a separate bowl whisk egg whites until fluffy
  6.     Gently fold the beaten egg whites into the cake batter
  7.     Spoon the mixture into the prepared muffin cases, about ¾ full
  8.     Bake for around 20-25minutes (15 minutes if you are making mini muffins) or until golden brown and firm.
  9.     Cool on a cooling rack

I would love to have added a small amount of very finely chopped crystallised ginger to this recipe too just to add a little texture contrast and to get that real ginger zing. You could also add some dark chocolate chips for a more decadent treat.



Feijoa, Coconut and Ginger Slice (Gluten-free, dairy-free, grain-free, soy-free, and free of refined sugar)



Ingredients:

1 cup feijoa flesh (or fruit of your choice)
½ cup desiccated coconut
½ cup coconut flour
½ tsp lime or lemon juice
¼ cup honey
2 eggs, lightly beaten
½ cup coconut milk
1 tsp ground ginger
½ tsp baking soda

Directions:

  1.     Line a square baking tin with baking paper. Preheat oven to 160C.
  2.     In a medium bowl combine feijoa, lime, honey, eggs and milk. Mix well
  3.     Add desiccated coconut, coconut flour, ground ginger and baking soda.
  4.     Combine ingredients well. It will seem like a lot of liquid, but coconut flour is very thirsty stuff and you will find that the mixture becomes more dry as you go
  5.     Spoon the mixture into the baking tin and smooth the top.
  6.     Bake for around 20 minutes or until golden brown and firm to the touch

You could also use a muffin tin and make muffins with this recipe. I chose to make it into a slice as I had already made muffins, but it would work either way. As with the other recipe, a few sneaky dark chocolate chips and maybe a few little chunks of ginger would make this just a little more indulgent. As it is it is a very healthy, nutritious every-day kind of snack, perfect for school or work lunches.

Happy Monday everyone

x

Real Coconut Milk - Major cost saver!

Today I invested in a whole coconut - $1.99! So affordable!


After making coconut milk the other day with desiccated coconut which was really successful (For those of you who want to give it a go, here is the recipe http://www.keepingitreal.net.nz/2013/08/almond-milk-and-coconut-milk.html), I have been getting really excited about trying to be a little more authentic and use a whole coconut. Oh, the excitement! I found the coconut when I was at an asian supermarket earlier in the day (just discovered Tai Ping in Pakuranga - my new favourite shop!!). Spotted the little ball of loveliness as I was wandering the aisles in awe checking out all of the fantastic products. For anyone wanting to get one, they are generally in most supermarkets in the produce section, I just happened to be at Tai Ping which also sold them.

I am getting a little off track as usual...Back to the milk...

The most fun part of the process was cracking it. There are many different ways to crack a coconut, and I'm sure you can have a lot of fun (and cause a lot of injuries) trying to get them open, but the simplest way is just to take it outside, find a concrete step, or something similarly hard and strong, and give the coconut a good hard tap. Try to aim for roughly the centre of the coconut, and have a bowl handy to catch the coconut water inside. This is amazing stuff, and it would be seriously ruining your food karma to let such a super-liquid trickle away into the garden! You may have to give a couple for taps around the circumference of the coconut before it splits completely in two, but it is easy enough. This is what you will end up with...

A perfect break - so satisfying!

...and with the water from inside...

Once you have the coconut cracked in half, you will need to remove the flesh. This is the hardest part of the whole process, and you may potentially lose a finger or stab yourself somewhere but I promise it will all be worth it! I did find that the key to success was to go back out to my trusty concrete step and crack the coconut into a few smaller pieces like so...

Now for the tricky part. Using a sharp, solid knife, whack the knife firmly into the flesh, then using a flick of your wrist and a twist of the knife prise the flesh away from the shell. Only try to prise off small pieces at a time otherwise the aforementioned severing of fingers may occur. Obviously I got a little engrossed in the task as I have not taken any photos of this stage of the process, but you will know when you have it sussed! Once you have all of the flesh removed from the hard shell, cut it up into small pieces and place in your high powered blender. I really would recommend a decent blender for this job, as the coconut pieces are pretty hard - lesser blenders may not be up to the job. You have been warned - I do not want to be responsible for breaking anyones blender! I should also mention that when you are getting the white flesh of the coconut out, it will have the brown 'inner shell' attached. This is totally fine and there is no need to remove it. 

Once you have the chopped up coconut in the blender, fill the blender with water and give the coconut a good swish around to rinse the coconut pieces. Drain the water out, and repeat the process a couple more times until the water is pretty clear. Remove all water until you just have your coconut pieces in the blender again. To this, add 3 cups of filtered water. Blend on high speed for a minute or so until the coconut pieces are all very finely ground and you have a milky liquid with flecks of coconut.


Once you have achieved this, it's time to put your trusty mesh strainer to use again (for those of you who didn't read the last coconut milk post you can use either a mesh straining bag or a piece of muslin or fine mesh type fabric). Squeeze all of the liquid out into a bowl.


You will be left with a bowl of beautiful fresh coconut milk, and a little bag filled with homemade desiccated coconut flesh. The milk can be used in so many different way, and the flesh can be used in baking (check this out for a tasty idea http://www.keepingitreal.net.nz/2013/08/coconut-apricot-and-walnut-thumbprint.html)

Coconut milk and coconut pulp

I was so blown away by the cost savings of making my own coconut milk. I bought the coconut for $1.99 as mentioned. I cracked it in half and out of half a coconut I managed to produce 3 cups of coconut milk, 1 cup coconut water, and about 1.5 cups of desiccated coconut, as well as obviously being left with half a coconut to make more out of later. 
So out of a whole $2 coconut, I will be able to get 6 cups of milk, 3 cups of desiccated coconut and a cup of water. Wow!! Poor old hubby is probably getting so sick of my going on about what a saving I made! He was super impressed initially, but I have  been going on about it all afternoon! Now I will share my joy with all of you and pass on the savings! 

There are times when eating real food can seem to be a daunting prospect in terms of the grocery bill, but by being a little bit clever and being willing to spend a little more time preparing, it is very easy to save money by making your own products. You win both financially, and in the sense that you know exactly what is in your food. No additives, no preservatives, and you get to 'make to order'. Fresh really is best, and it doesn't get much more fresh that cracking a coconut on your doorstep and blending it to make milk!

This does not have to be a time consuming exercise either. In total it probably took me about 15 minutes to make the milk, and about 10 minutes of that time was the time it took to removes the flesh. I'm sure that will take less time as I do it more often. If anyone knows of a faster (and safer!!) way to get the flesh out please let me know!

Hoping everyone had a fabulous weekend

x






Friday, 9 August 2013

Rogan Josh and Cauliflower Fritters

What a gorgeous week! This crazy spring-like weather has made for an amazing week, with those lovely crisp, clear mornings and sun-shiny days. Great for the soul to have a bit of vitamin D. I hate to be a downer though, and I really am a sunshine lover, but I kind of feel a little bit ripped off by this winter!! A small part of me is really looking forward to one of those horrible winter days when it becomes totally acceptable to just hunker down, crank the heater, put on fluffy slipper, get the kids settled on the couch with a blanket and movie, and just listen to the rain pour down outside. Some people are never happy!!

A couple of nights ago I found a great seasoning recipe to make up my own Rogan Josh seasoning. I am always on the hunt for seasoning mixes that are made at home and a) are more cost effective and b) don't have any additives, preservatives or other dubious substances.

This discovery naturally lead to us having Rogan Josh for dinner which was delicious, albeit a bit on the spicy side! I love spicy food, hubby has developed a taste for it since meeting me and being convinced to break out of his food comfort zone, and even the kids enjoyed the flavour. I did notice they drank a lot of water though! I served the curry with turmeric rice (yellow rice to the kids) and cauliflower fritters. It's not the most photogenic meal, but it is a taste explosion to eat...


Turmeric rice is a great way to spice up (literally) your standard rice, and the kids love the bright yellow color. Simply cook basmati rice (or whatever rice you like - I use basmati for indian cuisine) in the usual way, but add a teaspoon or two of turmeric to the cooking water when you put it in with the rice.

Turmeric also happens to be somewhat of a wonder-spice. It has many health benefits including and can assist with the treatment of: arthritis, digestive issues, chest disease including the common cold, alzheimers, depression, menstrual issues, and treatment of infections.

For the rest of the meal, here are the recipes (and a few pics)...

 Cauliflower fritter ingredients in the blender ready to blend

All smooshed up - time to fry

 Golden brown and looking oh so tasty

 Meat chunks in their little spicy coconutty bath

 A steamy shot of the curry doing it's thing


Rogan Josh Seasoning (makes a medium-hot spice mix)

Ingredients: (recipe taken from www.theclothesmakethegirl.com)

1 tsp ground cardamom
1 tsp ground cloves
¾ tsp ground ginger
4 tbsp paprika
1 heaped tbsp chilli powder (use less for a milder mix)
1 heaped tbsp cinnamon
2 heaped tsp ground cumin
2 heaped tbsp ground coriander
1 heaped tbsp salt
cayenne to taste (I recommend 1 tsp, but add more if you prefer it hot)

Directions:

In a glass jar or bowl combine all ingredients. Use a whisk or fork to mix to get an even distribution. Store in an airtight container and use as required. Use around 1-2 tbsp of seasoning for every 500g meat.

This recipe makes about half a cup of seasoning so you will have plenty to make a few rounds of curry.

Rogan Josh

Ingredients:

500g lean pork rump (or meat of choice) cut into 2cm chunks
1 onion, sliced or diced
2 tbsp Rogan Josh seasoning (see recipe above)
¾ cup coconut milk (either shop bought, or see my recipe for homemade)
2 tbsp tomato paste
2 carrots, diced
1 parsnip, diced
1 cup frozen peas
1 tbsp coconut oil
1 cup water or stock (chicken or vegetable)

Directions:

  1.     In a large bowl combine pork with coconut milk and Rogan Josh seasoning. Combine well and marinade for at  least 30 minutes
  2.     In a large frying pan heat the oil over a medium heat. Add onions. Cook until softened and lightly browned
  3.     Add pork, carrots and parsnips. Cook for 5 minutes or so until pork is lightly browned.
  4.     Add peas, tomato paste and water (or stock)
  5.     Simmer for around 10 minutes until pork is cooked through
  6.     Serve with ‘yellow rice’ (rice cooked with turmeric), cauliflower rice, or use the recipe below for delicious cauliflower fritters

Cauliflower Fritters

Ingredients:

2 cups cauliflower, cut into small florets
2 eggs
1 tsp poppy seeds
handful of fresh parsley
1 carrot, grated
2 tbsp coconut flour
4 tsp chia seed meal (ground chia seeds) – you can substitute flax meal
2 tsp garam masala
¼ cup sunflower seeds
salt and pepper to taste

Directions:

  1.     In a food processor, blend the cauliflower until a fine crumb forms  
  2.     Add all other ingredients and blend until a ‘dough’ forms
  3.     Heat 1 tbsp coconut oil in a frying pan over medium heat.
  4.     Take scoops of the cauliflower mixture to for patties and fry gently for a couple of minutes until golden brown. Flip, and fry the other side for a couple of minutes.

  • Serve these delicious fritters either on their own as a snack, with a salad for a yummy, healthy lunch or as a side dish for a meal (see my recipe above for Rogan Josh)
  • You can substitute the garam masala seasoning for any other herbs and spices of your choice. I used garam masala because I was serving it with an Indian meal, but herbs like thyme or coriander would also work really well.
  • To make chia seed meal grind the chia seeds in a coffee grinder until a fine powder forms. If this option is not available to you, you can either use shop bought flaxseed meal, or try LSA (linseed, sunflower and almond) for something a little bit different.
  • For anyone following a raw food diet, these will also make delicious little patties. If you are pregnant or against eating raw egg, you can replace the egg in the recipe with a little more chia/flax meal and a couple of tbsp of water or coconut milk to act as a binder, or even just a couple of tbsp more coconut flour would probably work. 
Have a great weekend x








Tuesday, 6 August 2013

Almond Milk and Coconut Milk


Just popping in quickly tonight to post the milk recipes I have. There are a hundred different recipes online, so I am by no means the authority on these, but this is what I do and it may or may not be to your liking. 

With both recipes it is very easy to adjust ratios of ingredients to suit both taste and budget. If you prefer a more ‘meaty’ milk with a stronger taste, use more almonds or coconut. If you prefer to make your milk more cost effective, or prefer a more subtle flavour just use more water. 

Both milks can be sweetened with a natural sweetener such as honey if desired. I leave it out, but if you are new to these types of milks it might be a good idea until you adjust to the taste.

You will need a couple of tools to make either of these, but once you have them you will be ready to set up regular production!

Tools:

  • Large bowl or jug to soak in (preferably with a lid just so no foreign objects get in while soaking...this happens frequently with small children in the house! You will also need the bowl to strain the milk into at the end
  • Mesh straining bag, or muslin or some type of fine mesh fabric (clean of course!) that will be suitable for straining the liquid from the pulp (see photo below for a picture of the bag I use. They are easily available on Trade Me)
  • Blender or food processor, preferably high speed to make the process a little faster
  • Jug to store it in, also best to have a lid to seal the jug in the fridge. Keeps it fresh longer, and stops spills.
Mesh straining bag - such a simple little piece of equipment!



Almond Milk

Ingredients:

1 cup almonds
3 cups filtered water 
½ tsp vanilla essence

Directions:

1. In a large bowl, put the almonds with enough water to cover them (preferably filtered water). Soak for 12-18 hours, or overnight is fine.
2. When the soaking time is up, drain the water from the nuts (soaking the almonds releases the phytic acid).
3. Give them a good rinse under fresh water as the water they were soaking in will be a little dirty
4 Place the almonds into a high powered blender with the 3 cups of water and vanilla essence.
5. Blend for a few minutes until well pureed. You will end up with fine flakes of almond and a milky consistency to the liquid
6. Place the strainer bag over a large bowl and tip the almond mixture in to the bag. Squeeze all of the liquid into the bowl. You will be left with the milk in the bowl, and almond pulp in the bag.
7. Keep your almond milk in a sealed container in the fridge. It will last for about 2-3 days, so I recommend not making too much at one time.

If you are like me and hate waste, you can use the almond pulp to make all sorts of delicious things. Check out my almond fruit bread recipe for a tasty, healthy energy boosting snack idea http://www.keepingitreal.net.nz/2013/07/home-sweet-home-and-delicious-nut-loaf.html

Cheats Coconut Milk

Ingredients:

1 cup desiccated coconut
2 cups filtered water
½ tsp vanilla essence

Directions:

     1.     Soak coconut in the water for a couple of hours
     2.     When the soaking time is up, place the mixture in a high-powered blender and blend for a few
     minutes until well combined.  There is no need to use different water for the coconut milk as you will have done with the almond water.
     3.     Pour the blended mixture into the mesh straining bag. Squeeze out all of the liquid.

Again, you can use the resulting pulp to make tasty goodies if you like to utilise what you have available in the kitchen. If you find that you have more pulp available from making milk regularly you could always freeze it to save for your next load of baking. Here’s my recipe for Coconut, Walnut and Apricot Thumbprint Biscuits for one idea http://www.keepingitreal.net.nz/2013/08/coconut-apricot-and-walnut-thumbprint.html

As I mentioned in yesterday’s post, this coconut milk recipe is really the cheats version which is the perfect solution if you don’t just happen to have a whole coconut in the pantry (who does!). If you are at the supermarket and happen to see a whole coconut, pick one up. I am going to hunt one down next time I’m shopping to try and give some real coconut milk a go. In the short term though, this cheats version is doing a great job as a substitute. 

x

Monday, 5 August 2013

Coconut, Apricot and Walnut Thumbprint Biscuits


I've been experimenting lately with making milk.

I read an article lately about some of the ingredients in shop bought, non-dairy milks which got me thinking (http://empoweredsustenance.com/non-dairy-milks/). I had read the ingredients lists on the rice milk and almond milk that I had been buying, but had not really done my homework on the subject. With the majority of the family being dairy intolerant I had just figured we need to have it and it's the only option. In my mind I had already decided that making my own would be too much hassle and therefore I was willing to forego the less than ideal ingredients for the convenience of the product. 

After reading the article I put a little more effort into researching how to make my own milk at home and found that it really was very easy so long as you have the right equipment, and, depending on how you make it, it could be more affordable too (bonus!!). 

To cut a long story short, I started making almond milk a couple of weeks ago, and today I made coconut milk (the shortcut version - I would love to do it the same way as in the islands, but I worked with what I had in the cupboard!). I will post my recipes for both versions of the milk tomorrow. Today I have written up another recipe on what to do with the by-product of making milk. A little bit backwards, I know, but I have already got the recipe handy for these biscuits so hopefully it will all make sense! These delicate, light little bite size treats are so quick to make and can be ready in about 15 minutes making them ideal for a last minute afternoon tea.


 Blending...

 Ready to cook - thumbprints done

Golden and gorgeous - time to boil the kettle!

Coconut, Walnut and Apricot Thumbprint Biscuits (Gluten-free, dairy-free, soy-free, egg-free and free of refined sugar)

Ingredients:
¾ cup coconut pulp
1 cup raw walnuts
½ cup dried apricots (preservative free preferably)
1 tbsp honey
1 tsp mixed spice
1 tsp vanilla essence
½ tsp baking soda
½ tsp apple cider vinegar

Directions:

  1.     Preheat oven to 150C and grease or line a baking tray
  2.     Place all ingredients in a food processor or high powered blender (I used the blender attachment of my stick blender)
  3.     Blend until well combined. This may seem to be a bit of a dry mixture, but keep blending and you will find it comes together without having to add any further liquid.
  4.     Roll the mixture into balls (your choice what size you like)
  5.     Press your thumb into the balls to create a thumbprint.
  6.     Cook for around 8 minutes (cooking time will depend on the size) until golden brown. Cool for a few moments and then enjoy warm if you like them soft and fluffy, or store in the fridge if you would like the biscuits a little more firm.

If you do not have coconut pulp (a by-product of making coconut milk) you could use desiccated coconut, but you may have to add a little more liquid (maybe either a tbsp or two of milk of some kind, or another tbsp of honey or maple syrup if you have a sweet tooth)

These biscuits are very soft in texture, and very delicately flavoured, which creates a lovely, light little mouthful perfect with an afternoon cup of tea.

x