Sunday, 30 January 2011

Apple and Cabbage Coleslaw

I've never really been a coleslaw fan. I eat typical coleslaw when I have to- at functions, barbeques, a friends place, but it's never been a favourite. And we don't eat much cabbage as a vegetable either. So, I'm not quite sure why I was attracted to this recipe recently. Momentary insanity brought on by holiday beach fumes? Possibly.

Apple and Cabbage Coleslaw
Serves 4 as a side salad

1/4 red cabbage, finely shredded
1/2 small red onion, very thinly sliced
1 red apple, thinly sliced

1/3 cup sour light cream
2 tblsp pesto
2-3 tblsp lemon juice
1 clove garlic, crushed
1/2 cup roughly chopped flat-leaf parsley
sea salt and freshly ground pepper

Combine the cabbage, onion and apple in a large bowl.
Whisk the sour cream, pesto, lemon juice and garlic in a small bowl and season.
Slowly add dressing to the cabbage mixture (the quantity of dressing is a bit much) until coated as desired.

Adapted from a recipe in dish 33 (Dec 2010- Jan 2011). dish is a great kiwi food magazine, full of wonderful recipes and interesting stories, and well worth buying.

The original recipe suggested green cabbage and regular sour cream. They suggested that if the dressing is still thick, stir in a little water to thin it to a pouring consistency. I used light sour cream and didn't need to add any water. The dressing is actually enough for twice the quantity of coleslaw.

I dusted off my mandoline tonight for the second making of this coleslaw. I got a much, much better result than when I chopped by hand. It was amazing actually. Although I think this second time, my apple to cabbage ratio was higher, as my piece of cabbage must have been smaller, also I had the dressing ratio worked out better, it tasted fresher and fabulous.

I was thinking as I made this tonight that it might be nice with some pistachios scattered on top, unfortunately I didn't have any in the cupboard to try.

Friday, 28 January 2011

Banana Ice Cream!

Ice Cream tends to be not all that good for us, but here is a simple, homemade "ice cream" that actually is good for us- and tasty too! Bananas are delicious, low GI (52), a good source of potassium, fibre and vitamin B6. And this frozen treat is all banana!

I was rather sceptical when I saw this on blogs all over the blogosphere (the most excellent example being here). I generally don't like the texture of mushy bananas, so wasn't sure how I was going to like this. And it looked too easy. Turns out it is very easy. And very delicious.

The only thing I would add is that frozen whole bananas are VERY difficult to peel, and so I will trial freezing peeled bananas instead- it has to be easier.

Banana Ice Cream
Makes 3 modest servings

2 frozen bananas, peeled, chopped in chunks

Pop frozen banana chunks into your handy food processor

and whizz for a few minutes, until texture becomes creamy.

Add flavourings as you wish. Tonight I trialled nutmeg which was good. I recently learned that ingestion of large amounts of nutmeg can cause psychosis! So, naturally was keen to try it out on the family......

Mr Adventures was a bit reluctant in his praise for this new confection, but is willing to keep eating it, and Master Adventures ate his share without complaint (which is about all any parent can hope for I suspect, he is allegedly going through a not liking bananas phase, when we all know he has loved them since he was a baby). Neither complained of hallucinations, and sadly mine don't appear to have started as yet.

Tomorrow I'm going to try banana cinnamon ice cream. I'm also thinking about adding medjool date or honey or maybe my gingerbread spice. The possibilities are endless I'm sure. I know that I should be a good blogger and try some more variations before posting, but well, I just can't wait. It's delicious, please give it a go.

Wednesday, 26 January 2011

Green Beans with Sesame Seeds

Don't you just love it when you're cleaning up the house one morning, getting rid of some old newspapers, you find a recipe you'd like to try, then you realise that you already have everything you need to make the recipe in the house, and you make it that night? How fantastic is that?

That happy circumstance occurred today, with this very recipe. It's a nice simple recipe, perfect for the hot Aussie summer that has finally arrived in full force. It's essential to spend as little time as possible in the kitchen, and not to need to cook anything very much at all. This recipe just needs a quick blanching for the beans and you're done.

This recipe was meant to have black sesame seeds. I had the normal white sesame seeds as black sesame aren't all that obtainable in small town Australia. Either would work fine.

Green Beans with Sesame Seeds

A handful of green beans
25g sesame seeds
1 tsp LoGICane Sugar
1/4 tsp mirin
1 tsp soy sauce

Top the beans, leave whole, then blanch for a minute in boiling water. Drain and refresh in cold water. Drain again.

In a mortar and pestle, crush the sesame seeds, add sugar, mirin and soy sauce and mix to a paste. Toss the green beans in the dressing and serve.

The original recipe used caster sugar, but I substituted the lowGI sugar, both to lower the GI and also because I store old vanilla beans in my caster sugar, and I didn't want the vanilla flavour with this.

I made a quarter of the original recipe and it was plenty for two adults as part of a simple ham salad.

Adapted from a recipe by Caroline Velik in the Sydney Morning Herald Tuesday Jan 11 2011

Tuesday, 25 January 2011

Purple Carrots!

On a recent trip to the local farmers market (only held monthly here sadly) I came home with a bunch of purple carrots.

I'd seen them in magazines before but never had any, so was keen to try them. They looked such an amazing colour- I'm sure they're full of antioxidants and healthy stuff like that. Regular orange carrots are low GI (41), I can only presume that purple carrots would have a similar value.

Carrots aren't my favourite vegetable it really must be said- I much prefer asparagus, avocado, corn or edamame. I particularly dislike raw carrot, but am moderately partial to it when it has been cooked. I even make a rather delicious carrot soup by choice at times. It would be rather fun to make a purple carrot soup, maybe I'll have to try that some time.

I wasn't particularly adventurous with my exciting purple carrots. I peeled and blanched them and ate them with Nigella Lawson's absolutely delicious peanut butter hummus. It was fun. They tasted like carrots, but were quite a bit more subtle in taste than regular orange carrots. Next time I will have to try to get some of the pale lemony coloured carrots.

Monday, 10 January 2011

(almost) Nigella Lawson's Peanut Butter Hummus

A new book from Nigella is always a treat. I think that I have all of her books, at least I don't think I'm missing any. They're generally all quite thick doorstoppers, and I certainly haven't made every recipe from them, but have made a recipe or two from most of them. And I don't remember any flops.

I first made a wonderful capsicum salad from How To Eat. An amazing gammon from Nigella Bites. Ok, so maybe Nigella Bites was a bit of a flop- both stylistically and in form- but that gammon was nice. Gammon is a little known, little consumed product in Australia, and the smell of it made my butcher very nervous. We took him a piece of the end result to try as I remember.

And so I was very excited to receive Nigella's new book Kitchen as part of my Christmas haul. I like her recipes, and I love her chatty conversational style in the introduction to her recipes. You can hear her voice saying the words as you read.

There are always scads of new recipes that I want to try in a new Nigella book. When I was away at Christmas I succumbed to the lure of Lemon Meringue Fool- oh my that was so good. No pictures of that, it was gobbled up too quickly. And it possibly wasn't low GI. 

The other recipe that I was really drawn to was Peanut Butter Hummus. It was interesting- my initial reaction was lip curling disdain, but it was Nigella's chatty introduction to the recipe that swayed me. Elegant. Without the slight clagginess that tahini can give. She goes on to talk of the palate-thickening clay of tahini. And it was an Oprah lightbulb moment for me. I do like hummus, but sometimes if the tahini ratio isn't right- well it's claggy. Just the perfect word for it. So when I thought about her non-claggy, elegant peanut butter hummus, then I knew that I had to try it. 

Peanut Butter Hummus
(adapted from Nigella's Kitchen)

400g cooked chickpeas (of course a tin would work very well, but it's rather simple and so satisfying to cook your own, even if it does take a little bit of planning)
1 clove garlic, peeled and roughly chopped
3 English tblsp (45ml) olive oil
3 English tblsp (45ml) smooth peanut butter
Juice of half a lemon (about 20ml)
1 tsp Maldon salt
1 tsp ground cumin
2 English tblsp (30ml) Greek yoghurt
drizzle olive oil
ras el hanout to serve
crudites or low GI crackers, to serve

Put chickpeas, garlic, oil, peanut butter, lemon juice, salt and cumin into a food processor and blitz to a knobbly puree.

Add the Greek yoghurt and process again. If the hummus is still very thick add another tablespoon of yoghurt and oil.

Taste for seasoning, adding more lemon juice and salt if you feel it needs it.

Serve drizzled with good olive oil and sprinkled with ras el hanout

I made a half recipe of Nigella's version (and took it to a friends place for nibblies before a bbq). Mainly because a whole recipe wouldn't fit in my ancient food processor. I've made it twice since the weekend. So easy to whizz up once you have the stuff. 

I cooked 2 packets of 375gm of chickpeas, which resulted in 1850gm of cooked chickpeas- why oh why did I cook 2 packets? So, 375gm packet chick peas makes roughly 925gm of cooked chickpeas. I must remember this for next time. I've got a lot of left over chickpeas. I had a chickpea salad for lunch at work today. I'm trialling freezing them, my mother reckons I can do it. So I've got a huge container of frozen chickpeas ready to go. Should be handy if it works.

Chickpeas are a wonderful low GI food (GI 36). Canned chickpeas seem to have a slightly higher (but still low) GI value (38-42). Peanut butter is low GI (although/because it is high fat)

Ras el hanout is a glorious North African spice blend. It has a beautiful aromatic, sweet aroma, and tastes fabulous. I have a wonderful pot of it which was a souvenir of a visit to Maha in Melbourne. 

Nigella topped hers with finely chopped peanuts, mixed with smoked paprika. 

I'm toying with the idea of replacing the cumin with ras el hanout, but don't know if it would be overpowering. I've got so many chickpeas I might need to give it a go sometime

Saturday, 8 January 2011

Sesame Snow Pea Salad

I first made this many years ago, and it had dropped out of my regular repertoire. Happily, I've corrected this oversight this year. It's a simple recipe from Jill Dupleix's 2002 Simple Food. I've long loved Jill's work, and have been happy to see her recipes return to the Sydney Morning Herald's weekly food section Good Living. She has a sense of fun with food, likes it to be healthy, or at least divine if not healthy, which is as it should be. And she writes fun instructions at times.

Sesame Snow Pea Salad

Mangetout (snow peas) are too boring for words when cooked whole. But shred them finely and toss raw in a sweet Asian vinaigrette, and they taste wild. Serve as a salad or side dish, or use as a base for seafood, duck or barbequed quail.

Serves 4

250g  snow peas (mangetout)
2 tsp sesame seeds

1 tsp Logicane Low GI sugar
1 tbsp soy sauce
1 tbsp rice wine vinegar, or white wine vinegar
1 tbsp Chinese rice wine, or dry sherry
2 tsp sesame oil

Wash and dry the snow peas, then finely slice lengthwise into matchsticks, using the tip of a sharp knife. This will take some time, but keep going and don't curse me too much. The effect it has on the flavour and texture is too great to give up now.

For the dressing, mix the sugar, soy sauce, wine vinegar, rice wine and sesame oil together. Lightly toss the shredded snow peas in the dressing, draining off any excess.

Arrange the dressed snow peas on a serving plate and sprinkle with the sesame seeds to serve.

This worked well with barbequed chicken tonight. I've had it with seafood in the past, and that was delicious too.

I used rice wine vinegar, and dry sherry, it was fab.

The left over dressing was great on a chickpea and salad leaf salad.

Friday, 7 January 2011

Breakfast Boost

It seems that breakfast cereals are not healthy enough in and of themselves (and why do we let them get away with that??), and so there exists a wide range of products to boost the nutrition in what I should have thought would be a nutritious food. In my quest for better eating I've boldly gone into this Breakfast Boosting world.

It's fair to say that I haven't eaten all that much linseed in my life. I went through a phase a few years ago of eating soy and linseed bread. I didn't mind it. In fact I got to prefer it (especially with nutella) to other breads. But linseeds aren't a food that features all that much in the typical Australian diet. 

The linseed or flax plant has beautiful blue flowers, and must look glorious to see a field in bloom. The seed is said to have many health benefits. The front of my pack lists
-omega 3
-low carb
-low GI
-nil trans fat
-alkaline food
-gluten free
-brain development
-helps burn body fat
-rich source of daily fibre
-cholesterol free
-promotes positive mood
-promote healthy cardiovascular system

With more benefits on the back. I don't know whether all these claims are true, but even so, it can't be a bad thing for us to eat now, can it? I do like the concept of eating many, varied foods in a day- there have been many names for this- such as rainbow diet- which I think is a great concept, and easy to judge your success by even the quickest of glances at a plate- how many colours? I even read an article a few years ago that suggested we need to eat 31 different plants a day- I tried that for a few days- it's really hard!

So I decided to give Breakfast Boost a crack. My pack suggests that I should have two tablespoons daily on cereal, toast (?), in salads, as a dessert topping, or mixed in fruit juice, yoghurt or protein drinks. I know that they're trying to get me to use lots of their product and that's fine, but I just don't find the on toast option appealing at all, and I really don't like gritty things in drinks, so I'm unlikely to do that. Happy to put stuff on my cereal though. 

 I found the two tablespoons a bit much, and so have been putting a tablespoon on my cereal each morning, and then topping it with fruits, including my beloved baked rhubarb, and whatever else I may have about the house. In the last few weeks I've been adding cinnamon and ginger too. There isn't a lot of taste truth be told, to me it seems to add more of a textural component to my bowl of cereal (but not in a bad way).

I've nearly eaten the whole packet now. I should perhaps try it in some other format, although I'm happy enough with it on my cereal. Have I noticed any particular change that could be attributable to my increased consumption of linseed? Well, no. Still, I feel that it's likely to be good for me, and I'll try more of the Lively Linseed products in the future- they do a Blueberry Breakfast Boost, and I've started to see their biscuits around too.

Saturday, 1 January 2011

Pumpkin, Chickpea and Spinach Satay

It's funny how sometimes you find a recipe and BAM that night you've already made it, and soon after that you've blogged it. And yet other times you find a recipe you Really, Really want to make. Maybe you even buy a whole cookbook on the basis of one recipe. And years or decades later you still haven't tried that recipe. Or you've cooked other recipes again and again and never blogged them.

Today's recipe is a BAM. I came across this blog post on a lazy Sunday morning recently, and I made it that very evening. I only need three work lunches that week, and this made a big, big pot of satay.

Of course I fiddled with the recipe a bit. I had a large capsicum lurking in the vegie crisper that I wanted to use up, so I added that. I added a carrot for good measure- I'm not particularly good at eating carrots otherwise, but am more than happy to whilst hidden in a satay.

generous drizzle of soy sauce
1 onion, diced
1 large red capsicum, diced (or whatever you have lurking in the vegie crisper)4 medium size garlic cloves, crushed
3 tsp of grated fresh ginger
1.5kg butternut pumpkin, peeled and chopped into 2-3cm cubes
1 carrot, peeled and diced375mL can of light and creamy coconut flavored evaporated milk
1/2 cup vegetable stock
1/2  cauliflower
1 medium floret broccoli
1 pkt of firm tofu
1/2 cup of crunchy or smooth peanut butter
1  tbs soy sauce
2 tsp brown sugar
400g can chickpeas, drained and rinsed
150g  baby spinach leaves
Optional: + 1/4 cup chopped coriander + 1 long red chilli, seeds removed, finely chopped

Heat a generous drizzle of soy sauce in a large sauce pan and cook the onion for 4-5 minutes until soft. Add the capsicum, garlic, ginger (and optional chilli) and cook for 1 minute, stirring to combine. Add pumpkin and carrot cubes and stir to combine. Pour in coconut flavored milk and stock, bring to the boil. Cover and simmer for 10 minutes or until pumpkin is just cooked. Add the cauliflower and broccoli, cover and cook for 3 minutes. Then stir in the tofu and cover; continue to simmer for 3 minutes. Ensure the cauliflower and broccoli are tender (and the tofu is now less firm to touch) before adding the peanut butter, soy sauce, sugar and chickpeas; stir to combine and heat through. Stir in the spinach (and optional coriander) until all combined. 

My pumpkin all but dissolved. Not a bad thing, it just was. I cut it into bite sized pieces as I much prefer that to larger chunks, but I wasn't quite anticipating the complete disappearance of form. Still yummy.

I was rather apprehensive about frying the onion in soy sauce instead of oil, worrying that all I would taste would be soy. It wasn't. I'm not sure what difference it makes really. I have no problems with a small amount of oil to fry onion in a dish like this- I reckon there are worse things you can eat, but I was interested to try this method. It would be higher in salt as a compensation for lower in fat I suspect.

I used crunchy peanut butter as that was all we had in the cupboard on the day. My son likes crunchy to eat, I will usually only eat smooth as a spread.

I think I might have forgotten the sugar.

I absolutely love coriander so heaps of that went in, and I put a chilli in, but it was very mild one I think and I couldn't detect any heat.

I served it over quinoa (the ingredient of 2010?). It was delicious and would be easily adaptable for including many other vegies too.

This recipe made a vast quantity, and because I made it in the week leading up to Christmas and we were going away I eventually wasted about half of it, as I didn't think it would freeze well because of the milk. I only managed to eat half of it despite having it for lunch and dinner on two days, feeding it to Mr Adventures once and then lunch for me on another day. I would make a half quantity if I were to make it again. But then would have half a can of milk left over, and would have to find a use for that.