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Cover: Gluten free cooking

March, 2012

31Mar 12

Pesto-Filled Cherry Tomatoes

Pesto-filled TomatoesWhether you’re having a few friends over for drinks, or throwing an all-out party with lots of guests, these pesto-filled cherry tomatoes are a great bite-sized appetiser that are quick and easy to prepare and sure to be a hit with your guests. I’m a big fan of pesto myself ever since I first tried pesto linguine at a local Italian restaurant years ago.

I love tomato stuffed peppers, but they fill me up. The size of these cherry tomatoes make them delicious and perfect as an appetiser or snack.

The taste is so sublime that it’s hard to believe how simple it is to make.  Some recipes call for leaving some of the pine nuts whole, but I prefer to grind them all up.  In any case, for this recipes that’s definitely the best idea, since there’s not very much room inside the tiny cherry tomatoes and the whole nuts would just get in the way.  Also, the best thing about this appetiser is the way you can just pop them in your mouth and swallow almost without even having to chew.

If you’re feeling adventurous, you could try sprinkling a little Parmesan cheese on top and sticking them in the oven or under the grill for a few minutes for an au gratin effect.  Whatever you do, make sure you have more ingredients at hand because these tend to disappear quite fast and your guests will soon be clamouring for more.

You Need:

  • 50 cherry tomatoes, washed
  • 500ml fresh basil leaves, packed
  • 250ml grated Parmesan cheese
  • 60ml pine nuts
  • 125ml olive oil
  • 3 medium garlic cloves, minced
  • salt and pepper to taste

Steps:

  1. Combine the garlic, pine nuts and basil and mix for a few seconds with a food processor or blender.
  2. Add the olive oil and blend for a few more seconds.
  3. Add the Parmesan cheese and blend again.
  4. Add salt and pepper to taste.
  5. Set aside the mixture.
  6. Cut the tops off the cherry tomatoes and remove about two-thirds of the pulp.
  7. Fill the hollowed out tomatoes with the pesto.
  8. Serve on a serving platter as an hors d’oeuvre.

Ready In: 15 minutes

Serves: 6-8

Difficulty: 2 out of 5

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29Mar 12

Lime Cheesecake

 

Lime cheesecake

Tangy and cheesy and sweet, get ready for a taste bud explosion with this lovely lime cheesecake! Or for a more bite-sized option, try these mini lemon cheesecakes.

You Need:

For the crust:

  •  200g gluten-free vanilla or lemon-flavoured biscuits
  • 1 tablespoon sugar
  • 2 tablespoons unsalted butter, melted,
  • 2 teaspoons grated lime zest

For the filling:

  • 700g cream cheese
  • 200g granulated sugar
  • 65ml sour cream at room temperature
  • Juice and grated zest of 2 limes
  • 1½ teaspoons pure vanilla extract
  • 1/8 teaspoon salt
  • 3 large eggs, at room temperature
  • 250ml whipped cream, whipped with 2 tablespoons of very fine sugar and 1tsp vanilla extract
  • 1 lime, thinly sliced, for garnish

Steps:

  1. Place a rack in the middle of the oven and preheat to 165°C.
  2. Generously grease the bottom and sides of a 23cm nonstick spring-form pan and set aside.

FOR THE CRUST:

Place the biscuits and sugar in a food processor and process until they are fine crumbs.

  1. Add the butter and lime zest and process until the mixture is crumbly.
  2. Pat the crust onto the bottom of the pan.
  3. Bake 10 to 12 minutes or just until the crust is fragrant.
  4. Cool the crust while preparing the filling, but leave the oven on.

FOR THE FILLING:

  1. In the bowl of a stand mixer, beat the cream cheese on medium speed until light and fluffy.
  2. Add the sugar and beat 1 minute, scraping down the sides of the bowl.
  3. Add the lime juice and zest, vanilla extract and salt and beat until smooth.
  4. Beat in the eggs, one a time, just until blended.
  5. Pour the filling over the crust and smooth with a spatula.
  6. Bake 1 hour or until the top is firm.
  7. Cool the cheesecake 15 minutes on a wire rack.
  8. Run a sharp knife around the outer edge of the cake to loosen the edges and remove the sides of the pan.
  9. Wrap the cheesecake in plastic and refrigerate overnight.
  10. Slide a thin knife between the cheesecake and the pan and slide the cheesecake onto a serving plate.
  11. Bring the cheesecake to room temperature; slice with a knife dipped in hot water, then dried.
  12. Serve with a dollop of whipped cream and garnish with a lime slice.
  13. Refrigerate leftovers.

Ready In:  60 minutes + overnight setting

Serves:  10-12

Difficulty:   4 out of 5

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27Mar 12

Asparagus Risotto

Asparagus RisottoSmooth and creamy, sticky and cheesy, what’s not to like about risotto?  This Asparagus Risotto is my take on the classic Italian dish which is traditionally made using Arborio or Carnaroli rice due to their high-starch content (that’s what makes it sticky and creamy).  However, if you can’t find these kinds of rice at your local supermarket, then any short-grained rice will work well.  I’ve personally had a lot of success with whole, short-grain organic rice, although this does add almost double the time to the cooking process.  Either way, don’t skimp on the cheese, or try to rush the cooking process, as these two points are key to prepare a delicious authentic-tasting risotto. If you decide that you like your rice with more vegetables, try a squash and garlic risotto. Simply delicious.

You need:

  • 3 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
  • ½ cup finely chopped onion
  • 2 cups fresh asparagus cut into inch-long sticks
  • 1 large garlic, minced
  • 2 cups Arborio or Carnaroli rice
  • 1/3 cup dry white wine
  • 5 – 7 cups vegetable broth
  • Salt and pepper to taste
  • ¼ cup chopped fresh parsley
  • ¼ cup grated Parmesan cheese

Steps:

  1. Heat up the broth in a saucepan and leave it on a back burner at the lowest setting in order to keep it warm.
  2. Heat the oil over a medium heat in a large, heavy-bottomed skillet.
  3. When the oil is hot, but before it starts to smoke, stir in the onion and sauté until translucent, but not browned.
  4. Stir in the garlic and asparagus and keep cooking until the onion is nice and tender, making sure it doesn’t brown.
  5. Stir in the rice and sauté for a minute or two, making sure that each grain of rice gets coated with oil and toasted.
  6. Add around ¾ of a cup of the broth to the rice and stir continuously until most of the liquid is absorbed.
  7. Continue adding the broth ¾ of a cup at a time, letting the liquid get absorbed each time.
  8. Continue cooking and adding broth until the rice is creamy and just slightly al dente, around 30 minutes.  There may be some broth left over.
  9. Remove from the heat and season to taste with sea salt and freshly ground black pepper.
  10. Stir in the parsley and parmesan cheese.
  11. Serve while it’s still hot, with a fresh bowl of Parmesan cheese on the side so your guests can add more as they desire.

Ready In:  45 minutes

Serves:  4-6

Difficulty:  Out of 5, it’s a 3!

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26Mar 12

Avocado and Mango Salsa with Corn Chips

Avocado and Mango SalsaEver since I was a kid, I’ve absolutely loved everything Mexican, and when I developed a wheat allergy I was glad to know that at least I’d still be able to eat a lot of my favourite dishes since they tend to use cornflour a lot more than wheat flour.  Or in any case, there are plenty of corn flour alternatives available, as long as you make sure to check the label in case it’s mixed with regular flour.

Anyway, after so many years of eating standard nachos and salsa, I became a little bored with the typical sweet tomato flavour and started to crave something different.  This avocado and mango salsa was the perfect solution and has since become one of my all-time favourite dipping sauces.  The sweetness of the mango is offset perfectly by the spicy peppers and tangy lime juice, and the avocado serves as the glue to bind it all together into one explosive taste sensation! 

If you prefer a spicy salsa as I do, feel free to pump up the quantity of jalapeño chilli peppers and/or the cayenne pepper.  If you go too far with the spiciness, mix in a bit of Greek yoghurt or sour cream to tone it back down.

You need:

  • ½  medium red onion, diced
  • A splash of rice vinegar
  • 1 tbsp. lime juice
  • ¼ tsp. salt
  • 2 tbsp. chopped fresh coriander
  • ½ tsp. cayenne pepper
  • 1 large mango, peeled and seeded and cut into small cubes (1cm)
  • 1 ripe avocado, cut into small ½ inch cubes
  • 1 red jalapeño chilli pepper, seeded and diced
  • 1 large bag of plain Mexican-style corn chips

Steps:

  1. Bring a small pot of water to the boil
  2. Add the onions and stir for 20 seconds.
  3. Remove from heat and drain off the water.
  4. Toss the onions with a splash of rice vinegar.
  5. Add the rest of the ingredients, except for the cayenne and the coriander, and toss the mixture well.
  6. Set aside for about a half an hour for the flavours to set.
  7. When you’re ready to serve, toss in the coriander and cayenne.
  8. Serve as a dip for the corn chips.

Ready In:  10 minutes

Serves:  2-3

Difficulty:  Out of 5, it’s a 1!

 

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