Sunday, 31 August 2014

Brazilian Roasted Eggplant Salad

There are a few vegetables in this world that I would struggle to live without...eggplant would be one of them! Combined with mushroom, capsicum, zucchini and loads of favourful herbs and aromatics, it's pretty much a done deal that I will be in love with it! This one is not ideal for anyone who has sensitivities to the nightshade family of vegetables (which pretty much consists of eggplant, capsicum, tomato which are all in here!), so be wary if you have that sensitivity, but for those of us who are thankfully unaffected, this is the most gorgeous dish that you could serve in so many ways. I had mine with fish and salad to make it a full dinner.

I had it as a quick throw together meal on a Saturday night when we were all tired, running behind, and just feeling a little over it all...I was craving something loaded with vegetables and full of flavour. I was flicking through a copy of Nourish magazine (highly recommend this magazine - it has some fantastic recipe ideas), and came across a similar dish. I decided to 'pimp it' a little, added some more veges, played with the flavours - ok pretty much just kept the eggplant and capsicum as per the recipe, but that's what cooking is all about...having a play around and making it your own!

This dish would be ideal as a side accompaniment to dinner served with your favourite protein. It would be delicious with lamb, or chicken/fish would also work. And if you preferred a vegetarian option you could add some chickpeas or quinoa, or maybe even crack a couple of eggs into it when cooking for your protein. It would also be yummy for lunch, or could even be a fantastic pizza topping or tapas style dish to serve as part of a platter. The options are endless as you will see when you make it!

 Half baked...

All done! 

A cheeky little glamour shot :)

Brazilian Roasted Eggplant Salad

(gluten-free, grain-free, dairy-free, nut-free, soy-free, sugar-free)

Ingredients:
1/2 a large eggplant (or one whole small one), cut into half, then quartered and  thinly sliced into batons
1 green capsicum (any colour is fine), thinly sliced
2 zucchini, cut in half then into thin batons
1 cups sliced button mushrooms
2 tomatoes, cut into chunks
1/4 cup sliced black olives (or whole, but make sure you remove the stones if any)
1 onion, thinly sliced
2 cloves garlic, grated or finely diced
1 tbsp dried (or fresh) oregano
1 tsp dried mint
1 tbsp coconut or olive oil
1/8 cup apple cider or white wine vinegar
2 tbsp fresh parsley, finely diced, to garnish
salt and pepper to taste

Directions:
1. Preheat oven to 180C.
2. Prepare vegetables, then add all ingredients except the parsley, to a baking dish. Mix around well to ensure that the oil and vinegar are well distributed, and the vegetables are evenly mixed.
3. Bake for around 30-40 minutes until vegetables are well cooked and 'melty'. 
4. Remove from baking tray and serve in a large bowl - garnish with parsley and you may like to add a drizzle of high quality olive oil to give it a gorgeous extra bit of liquid and burst of flavour

Enjoy!

x



Wednesday, 27 August 2014

Thai Cashew Chicken

So I asked Hubby last night what he wanted for dinner tonight, and he requested Thai.

No problem!

I had a bit of a search through some recipes and was inspired to do a cashew chicken. This is my take on the classic with a yummy creamy sauce and hint of spice.

I served my meal with kelp noodles, and hubby and the kids had theirs with those lovely wide Pad See Eiw rice noodles. You could also serve it with rice or cauliflower rice. The meal is free of gluten, dairy, soy, and sugar (and grains if you serve with kelp noodles or cauli rice). The best part is that it is really quick and easy to make. Love those meal! Perfect for a quick weeknight meal when you're running short on time.

For myself and hubby I added chilli to the sauce to give it a spice kick, but I took a dollop of the sauce out of the blender before adding it to make the meal for the kids. They loved it! The sauce was a real hit.

With Kelp Noodles (and topped with extra chilli and fresh coriander)

With Rice Noodles (and topped with a little chilli sauce)

Thai Cashew Chicken

Gluten-free, grain-free, dairy-free, soy-free, sugar-free

Ingredients:
1 cup cashews, soaked for about 2 hours in water, then drain water
3 cm knob of ginger
3 cloves of garlic
juice of 1 lemon
2 tbsp fish sauce
pinch of white pepper
2 tbsp water
2 red chilllis (optional)

1/2 cup water or stock
1 tsp coconut oil

600g chicken breast or thigh, sliced
1/2 eggplant, diced
1/2 head bok choy, sliced into thick chunks
1 zucchini, sliced
1 carrot, sliced
1 cup cauliflower florets
1 onion, thinly sliced

Directions:
1. Blend the ingredients for the sauce (cashews, ginger, garlic, lemon juice, fish sauce, pepper) in a blender until smooth
2. Heat the oil in a large frying pan over med-high heat.
3. Add the chicken, and cook for a couple of minutes until partially cooked.
4. Add the vegetables and cook until just starting to soften
5. Add the sauce, and water or stock as necessary to stop any sticking and create as much of a 'saucy' consistency as you like (less water= thicker sauce and vice versa!)
6. Remove from heat and serve immediately. If you are using rice noodles, prepare them as per packet instructions (they usually need to be soaked in boiling water for 10 minutes or so before using) and add them to the pan at the end just to heat through and combine them with the veges and sauce. 
7. Serve to your liking.

Note: You can play around with the vegetables in this, or the protein for that matter. Beef or lamb would also be delicious, and stirfries are a great way to use up whatever vegetables you have in the fridge.

Enjoy!

x


Monday, 25 August 2014

Dukkah Butter

So this week I have a new food addiction! Yes, they change often, and yes by obsession I mean eat until I pop and consume said addiction with every meal!

This week it is Dukkah Butter. I found some at the shop ( I think it was Farro for anyone who's interested), and since cracking the jar I have had to resist eating the whole thing in one hit!

Of course, I wouldn't be true to myself without wanting to try and make my own at home, and seeing as I had all ingredients I think were required already in the pantry I decided to give it a whirl!

The recipe is really simple, and easy to make, and is free of gluten, dairy, grains, soy, and sugar. There are just a bunch of yummy nuts, seeds, herbs and spices, and you will find numerous ways to add this to so many meals. It is delicious simply spread on toast for a quick snack, you can make sauces out of it to use in cooking (water it down and add a little lemon juice for a super quick dressing option), you can use it as a coating for your choice of protein for a quick option when baking, and you could make delicious savoury baked goods with it in.

Turn this...

...Into this!

Dukkah Butter

Gluten-free, grain-free, dairy-free, soy-free, sugar-free

Ingredients:
1 cup raw brazil nuts
1 cup raw almonds
1 cup raw cashews
1/4 cup raw sunflower seeds
1/4 cup raw pumpkin seeds
1/2 cup olive oil
1/2 tsp salt
2 tbsp tahini (sesame seed paste)
1/4 tsp chill powder (optional)
a pinch of dried mint
1.5 tsp Shwarma blend, or Baharat (a Middle Eastern Spice Mix which you can easily buy from most good supermarkets or specialist grocery stores. See note at the end of the recipe for the list of spices that are in it if you'd like to make your own)

Directions:
1. Preheat oven to 160C. Place the nuts (almond, brazil, and cashew) on a baking tray and gently roast for about 10-12 minutes until lightly golden. Remove from oven and allow to cool a bit.
2. In a blender, place the roasted nuts and seeds (pumpkin and sunflower). Blend until all ground up, but not pureed. You want to still have a little texture.
3. Add the oil, salt, tahini, chilli, mint, and Baharat mix. Pulse to combine. Ideally you still want a bit of grittiness to the mixture (like a very slightly crunchy peanut butter), but you can make it completely smooth if you prefer. If you want to texture but find that your blender is making it too smooth, you can remove the nuts/seeds after whizzing them up and mix in the rest of the ingredients by hand. 
4. Taste (very important step!) and adjust any spices etc as you want. You may prefer to add a little more chilli, salt, or more spice blend for a stronger taste. 

Note: The Baharat or Shawarma mix generally contains roughly the following herbs and spices:
Pepper, cumin, ginger, cardamom, coriander, nutmeg, cinnamon, and cloves. 
You can experiment with making you own mix if you prefer or if you are having trouble finding a pre-made mix. I was just cutting corners, plus have found a fantastic mix that contains nothing but the yummy herbs and spices. It's made by a company called Sami's Kitchen. No additives or preservatives or anything else added, so totally legit to use for a cheeky shortcut!

Enjoy!

xx


Wednesday, 20 August 2014

Baked Apples

Ok so here's one that's an oldie but a goodie! A little bit retro, but a total winter warmer, and the perfect end to dinner on a cold winters night when it's raining and blowing outside. The combination of apples, walnuts, and raisins is a real classic, and these are often made particularly easy due to the fact that the ingredients are often in the house anyway, and they take minimal prep time then get bunged in the oven while you eat. Take them out and you have dessert ready to rock. Easy!

 

Baked Apples

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

Ingredients (makes 2):
2 granny smith apples (or apples of your choice)
1/4 cup raw walnuts or almonds, roughly chopped
1 tbsp. coconut oil or butter
1 tsp cinnamon
2 tbsp. raisins
1 tsp honey

Directions:
1. Preheat oven to 180C.
2. Using an apple corer or sharp knife, remove the core of the apple while leaving the apple whole. If you can, try to leave to bottom 1cm or so of the core in just to create a plug at the bottom to hold the ingredients in but this is not essential.
3. In a small bowl, combine the remaining ingredients (nuts, oil, cinnamon, raisins, honey) and mix well to combine.
4. Stuff the mixture into the apples. It will probably poke out the top and be a bit messy, but that's ok - it will cook down into the apple, and the dessert is really designed to be a yummy soft gooey warm dessert so it is best when it's a little 'rustic'!
5. Wrap the apples (together or separate) in tin foil and place on a baking dish (this is a very important step, as the tin foil may leak a little and you will then end up with a sticky honey mixture baked onto the bottom of your oven...learn from my mistakes!).
6. Place in the oven and bake for about 30-40 minutes until the apples are soft and delicious. You can totally vary the baking time depending on how soft you like the apples. Some people may prefer a bit more of a bite left to them, while others will prefer a totally mushy texture. I lean towards the mush end of the scale, but they are delicious either way!
7. Allow to cool for a couple of minutes before serving (they will be super hot!), and serve with a drizzle of coconut milk or cream, or some yummy coconut milk icecream - the cold of the icecream is great with the heat of the dessert. You can also add another sprinkle of cinnamon for presentation and to add just an extra dose of super-food goodness.

Enjoy!

x