Monday, 19 September 2011

You Don't Make Friends With Salad

A tasty salad that you can make friends with.

...although I somehow seem to be able to. At least I used to when liberal spices and herbs were used, not to mention generous amounts of flavoursome fruit and vegetables, cheeses, croutons, cous cous and balsamic vinegar... Those were the days. Now, well, there is only so much cabbage a person can eat.

Once again this recipe was not devised by me, nor did I discover it. Way back at easter, my best friends family and mine were having our now-traditional autumn feast. On good Friday we got together at our place. I provided roast beef and vegetables and a divine pumpkin pie (I might post the recipe one day for salicylates challengers) and she provided the salad. The salad is also not devised by her, but she did google it and adapt it just for us.

The original recipe is a glorious ode to autumn and amazingly close to being failsafe. A few tweaks and you have a really tasty and quite healthy salad.

Quinoa Salad
  • 1 cup of quinoa rinsed very thoroughly (essential to lose bitterness)
  • 2 peeled and chopped pears 
  • a 400g tin of chick peas drained, rinsed and (if you can be bothered) peeled*
  • 1 tbsp chopped parsley

  • 4 tbsp failsafe oil
  • 3/4 tsp citric acid dissolved in 3 tbsp water
  • 2 tbsp pure maple syrup
  • salt to taste (it's not a really savoury salad, it just needs a little as a flavour kick)

  1. Put rinsed quinoa in a saucepan with 2 cups of water. Cover and bring to the boil. Gently simmer for approximately 20 mins or until all the water is absorbed and the quinoa is tender. Chuck it into a large salad bowl.
  2. Mix all dressing ingredients together with either a whisk or shaken together in a jar. Pour half of it on the warm quinoa and mix it all through. Leave to cool to room temperature.
  3. Throw pears chickpeas and parsley into the bowl and toss with remaining dressing.

And that is it. Easiest, tastiest, protein packed salad ever.

The original contained pecans so you could use some raw cashews.
Salicylates - Add a few handfuls of baby spinach leaves.

With the spinach

*The easiest way to peel chickpeas is to place them into a bowl of water and gently rub them between your fingers. The skins will fall away quite easily and if you leave it to sit in the bowl the skins will mostly float above the chickpeas and can be removed.

Sunday, 18 September 2011

Just a Moment

Just a melting moment. Just a gluten free, dairy free, egg free, nut free melting moment. They are not healthy though. I once made the mistake of thinking that food that was free of all these things must be healthy. It's not. It's sugary and 'buttery' and oh so tasty.

The first time I made these free of everything I was unsure if they would work or how they would taste. But they are good, I mean really good. I eat gluten most of the time and these still taste good to me. Even in the gluten version you have to add cornflour to make them nice and short, so gluten free does that really well.

Just so you know, I am not really a developer of new recipes, especially when it comes to baking. I don't have the time to make something five times to get it just right and I don't have the money to waste on ingredients. I find recipes that look like they will be easily converted and go from there. I found the original recipe for these a few years ago and made them as special treats and afternoon teas. My son always loved them and he still loves them with all the substitutions. It works quite nicely with straight gram for gram substitutions which takes the effort out of it.

Melting Moments
  • 250g nuttelex
  • 55g (1/3 cup) icing sugar, sifted
  • 1/2 tsp vanilla essence
  • 310g gluten free plain flour, sifted
  • 60g nuttelex
  • 1/2 tsp vanilla essence
  • 110g (2/3 cup) icing sugar, sifted
  1. Preheat oven to 160°C. Line a baking tray with baking paper.
  2. Cream nuttelex, icing sugar and vanilla essence in a medium bowl with electric beaters. Add flour and mix with the beaters on the lowest possible speed until just combined and a soft dough forms. Lightly flour hands then roll the mixture into small balls. Place on the prepared baking tray with a little space around them. Use a fork to flatten each ball to about 3cm in diameter and 1 cm thick. Bake in preheated oven for 15 minutes or until cooked through. They should be just turning golden around the bottom edge. Cool on baking tray. Repeat with the remaining mixture.
  3. To make the filling, beat the nuttelex and vanilla essence until soft. Add the icing sugar and beat until combined. Refrigerate until required.
  4. To assemble biscuits, spread the base of a biscuit with filling and then join with another biscuit. Repeat with remaining biscuits and filling. Store in an airtight container for up to 5 days.

If you can have gluten and dairy check out the original recipe. I always halve the amount of vanilla in a recipe to reduce the salicylates and leave out pesky things like orange zest. You really can't go too far wrong with recipes as simple as these.

Another variant on this is to sprinkle them with some caster sugar before baking and leave the unfilled for lovely little short breads. Or you could add a tablespoon of carob powder to either the dough or the filling for something different.

I hope you enjoy these tea time treats.

Tuesday, 13 September 2011

Things go Wrong

Two weeks ago we were hit by that really enjoyable strain of flu that is going around. When I say we I really mean my son and to a lesser extent myself. My other half had the fortune of being interstate for work and was spared having to look after one sickie and one very active almost 3 year old while feeling close to death. Cooking was minimal. Dinner consisted of what I could find in the freezer that required little effort or my sons favourite "breakfast dinner".

Friday was different in that I needed to do some baking for a cake stall that was being run at school while there was an election taking place. I usually try to make a heap of stuff, but it wasn't going to happen, so I made an amazing white chocolate mud cake, some melting moments (half of which went in the bin burnt) and some biscuits on sticks. Then Sunday was Fathers Day and we had an amazing failsafe afternoon tea with my parents. I baked, my mum baked and I took tonnes of pretty photos of the food in the gorgeous afternoon sunshine. Then I was about to blog about all these lovely sweet cakes when I discovered that all the afternoon tea photos had disappeared from the camera. Fifty photos completely gone. All I have left is some photos of the biscuits from the day before. So now I blog biscuits.

My son has dubbed these "iced biscuits" for fairly obvious reasons. I had found a recipe which looked really good and tried it out only to find that the resulting dough is completely unworkable. I thought it may have been a gluten free thing, but my friend made them with normal flour and had the same problem - dough that you couldn't roll nor cut. I kept adding flour until it seemed right and this time I actually measured how much extra was needed to get the right consistency.  There is a fair chance that both you and the kids will really like these, so I wouldn't bother to make anything less than a double batch of these.

Iced Biscuits

  • 100g nuttelex
  • 1/2 cup caster sugar
  • 1 egg, lightly beaten
  • 1/4 tsp vanilla (optional; the original recipe calls for lemon zest, so add a little citric acid instead if you like)
  • 1 1/2 cups Gluten free plain flour
  • natural sprinkles (optional)
  • bamboo skewers (soaked for half an hour and with the sharp end cut off if you prefer)
Royal Icing
  • 1 egg white, lightly whisked
  • 1 1/2 cups pure icing sugar, sifted
  1. Cream nuttelex and sugar together. Add egg and Vanilla (or citric acid). Beat to combine. Sift flour over mixture. Stir to combine (or if you have a stand mixer use a slow speed until dough comes together) Place dough onto plastic wrap. Knead gently. Shape into a disc. Wrap in plastic wrap and chill in fridge for 30 minutes or until firm.
  2. Preheat oven to 180°C/160°C fan-forced. Line baking trays with baking paper. Roll dough out between 2 sheets of baking paper until 5mm thick (don't get carried away and roll it too thin as the biscuits will be too hard). Use whatever shaped cookie cutter you have to cut shapes form the dough. Press remaining dough together and repeat.  Place on baking trays (they don't spread very much at all, so feel free to put them close). If you are putting them on stick, carefully slide the skewer at least halfway into the dough. Bake for approx 10 mins (depending on the size of you shapes) or until golden. Stand for 3 minutes. Cool on a rack (biscuits firm up when they are cooling, so don't think they are not done because they are soft straight away).
  3. Make icing. Place egg white in a bowl. Gradually add icing sugar, whisking until smooth. Spread over cookies. Top with sprinkles. Set aside for 20 minutes or until set.

    I think my camera is dying. Hence disappearing photos and photos of dubious quality (I can blame the camera for that this time).

    My son loves these and when I first made them I had to limit how many he had because of the sprinkles. So he told me not to put sprinkles on them all then, because it doesn't make them taste better (how very mature of him). In saying that, if you wanted you could use natural colours in the icing (be careful of salicylates) too.