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Cover: Gluten free cooking

Less than 1 hour

03Jun 12

Guacamole

GuacamoleThe first time I tried guacamole, I remember being intrigued by its green colour and greasy appearance.  After eyeing the bowl surreptitiously for at least half an hour, I finally got up the courage to give it a try.  I remember a smile instantly forming on my face as the first mouthful exploded in a rainbow of flavours and sensations on my unsuspecting tongue.  Spicy and smooth, tart and sweet, I had no idea such an incredible mixture of supposedly contrary tastes was even possible!

Ever since that mystical first time, I’ve been on an unending quest for the perfect guacamole recipe. This  version is definitely an excellent guacamole recipe, and I’ve even had more than a few compliments from my Mexican friends, so I must be on the right track.

One trick I’ve discovered along the way is how to keep the guacamole from turning brown as it tends to do not very long after making it.  The secret is to put the avocado pits into the finished mixture.  There seems to be some debate as to the effectiveness of this method. Some say it’s just an old wives’ tale, but I can attest to the fact that I’ve tried it repeatedly and it always seems to work just fine.  Clingfilm placed firmly against the guacamole works quite well too.

You need:

  • 2 large, ripe avocados
  • Juice from 1 lime (lemon may be substituted)
  • 2 spring onions, very finely chopped
  • 1 medium onion, very finely chopped
  • 3 garlic cloves, crushed and chopped very fine
  • 1 plum tomato, finely chopped
  • 1 jalapeño pepper, very finely chopped
  • 1/2 tsp ground cumin
  • 1/2 tsp paprika
  • Salt and pepper to taste

Steps:

  1. Mix together all the ingredients, except the avocado, pressing down on them as you mix to release the juices.
  2. Let the mixture marinade in the refrigerator for at least 20 minutes.
  3. Add the avocados to the mix, mashing them well with a fork.
  4. Make sure all the ingredients are well mixed.
  5. Cover and place in the refrigerator for at least 30 minutes so that the flavours blend together.
  6. Garnish with a bit of chopped coriander and tomato.
  7. Serve with corn chips for dipping.

Ready In: 1 hour

Serves: 4

Difficulty: 2 out of 5

Note: Ever tried baked avocados? Just looking at the picture gets my mouth watering!

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26May 12

Greek Stuffed Grape Leaves

Greek stuffed grape leavesA great appetiser or party food, these Greek stuffed grape leaves have a more subtle and mellow flavour than the pre-made variety. For more Greek goodness, try these lamb kebabs with cucumber and feta relish.

You Need:

  • 60ml extra-virgin olive oil
  • 1 large yellow onion, finely chopped
  • 250g long-grain white rice
  • 375g gluten-free chicken or vegetable broth
  • 2 tablespoons finely chopped fresh dill
  • 2 tablespoons finely chopped flat-leaf parsley
  • 2 tablespoons finely chopped fresh mint leaves
  • 2 teaspoons fresh oregano or 1 teaspoon dried
  • 1 teaspoon grated lemon zest
  • Salt and freshly ground black pepper (to taste)
  • 1 can (about 200g) grape leaves
  • Juice of 2 lemons

 

Steps:

 

  1. In a medium heavy pan, heat 2 tablespoons of the oil over medium heat.
  2. Add the onion and cook until soft, about 10 minutes.
  3. Add the rice and cook 2 minutes, stirring frequently.
  4. Add 125ml of the broth.
  5. Reduce heat to low and simmer, covered, until the liquid is absorbed and the rice is just tender, about 10 minutes.
  6. Transfer the rice mixture to a bowl and stir in the dill, parsley, mint, oregano, lemon zest, and salt and pepper to taste. Set aside.
  7. Fill a deep, heavy pot with a tight-fitting lid with water and bring to the boil.
  8. Reduce heat to medium-low and blanch the grape leaves in the hot water 5 for minutes.
  9. Drain the leaves on paper towels and trim away the stems and hard veins. Pat the leaves dry with paper towels.
  10. Lay a grape leaf on a work surface, shiny-side down. Put 2 tablespoons of the rice filling near the stem end of the leaf.
  11. Fold the stem end over the filling, fold both sides toward the middle, and roll up into a cylinder. (Don’t roll too tightly as the rice will expand as it cooks.)
  12. Repeat with the remaining grape leaves and filling placing the rolled leaves in the pot, seam-side down in a single layer.
  13. Pour the remaining broth, olive oil, and lemon juice over the stuffed grape leaves.
  14. If the liquid doesn’t reach at least halfway up the rolls, add more water.
  15. Cover the pot and simmer 30 to 40 minutes over low heat, or until tender when pierced with a fork.
  16. Can be served warm or cold.

 

Ready In:  60 minutes

Serves:  6

Difficulty:   3 out of 5

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22May 12

Indian-Style Brown Rice

indian style brown riceLately I’ve been trying to eat more whole-grain foods, but at first I had a hard time getting down plain, whole-grain brown rice.  It’s just so heavy and seemed to always get stuck in a ball at the back of my throat.  I’ve always loved Indian pilau rice, so I decided to try and make something similar with organic brown rice.  This Indian-style brown rice recipe is the result.

As with most Indian dishes, you need a lot of ingredients that you might not have in your kitchen, so a trip to the shops might be in order before you can start making it.  In any case, I’ve tried to keep the ingredients list as short as possible and only use the most common Indian herbs and spices.  I also added frozen peas to the mix to try and make it into a full meal in itself, although the best thing to do is to top it off with your favourite curry.  It also goes quite nicely with my baked tofu in peanut butter sauce recipe.

You Need:

  • 500g organic brown rice
  • 1.5L water
  • 100g frozen peas
  • 4 cloves garlic, thinly sliced
  • 1 tsp salt
  • 2 tbsps unsalted butter
  • Seeds from 8 green cardamoms
  • 1 bay leaf
  • 1 tsp fresh chopped ginger
  • 1 cinnamon stick
  • 8 cloves
  • 1 tsp turmeric powder
  •  2 tbsps fresh chopped coriander

Steps:

  1. Melt the butter in a 3 litre pot over medium heat.
  2. Add the garlic slices, cardamom seeds, fresh ginger, bay leaf, cloves and cinnamon sticks and sauté for about 2 minutes or until the garlic starts to brown.
  3. Add the rice and sauté for about a minute, stirring constantly and making sure all the rice gets coated and toasted with the butter and spices.
  4. Add the water, salt and turmeric and bring to the boil.
  5. Add the frozen peas.
  6. Reduce heat to a simmer and cook for about 30 minutes or until the rice is tender.  The exact time varies greatly depending on the brand of rice used.
  7. Drain off any excess water.
  8. Mix the fresh coriander into the rice and serve with your favourite curry.

Ready In:  30-45 minutes

Serves:  6

Difficulty:  2 out of 5

Note: Now that I enjoy brown rice, I also eat this brown rice salad with pecans and sultanas. Simply scrumptious!

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27Apr 12

Oven-Baked Cauliflower and Garlic

Oven-baked Cauliflower and GarlicWe all know what cauliflower tastes like, don’t we?  I know I used to think it was just one of those stinky vegetables that is prepared by boiling the heck out of it until it turns mushy and pretty much flavourless.

However, it turns out that cauliflower can actually taste incredibly good, as long as you avoid overcooking it – a typical beginner’s mistake.  This quick and easy oven-baked cauliflower and garlic recipe brings the lowly cauliflower to a whole new level and is so simple to prepare that even the greenest of cooks will have no problem getting it right the first time.

The real secret behind the recipe is, as usual, the garlic and herbs.  The rosemary and thyme give the cauliflower a wonderful aromatic touch and the roasted garlic – well, let’s just say it’s almost too good to describe.  I use oven-roasted garlic in a lot of my recipes, mostly because I really love the taste of garlic, but my poor stomach has a hard time digesting it raw or even fried.  However, when you roast it, the flavour is actually enhanced, while at the same time the “bite” is lessened, so you can eat lots and lots of it with none of the typical side-effects.

Fresh rosemary and thyme are the best of option if you can get them, but if you can’t, then the dried variety will do just fine.   As always, the better quality the ingredients you use, the better the results will be.

As an option, try sprinkling some Parmesan cheese on top after stirring the mix in step 6. This version is a big favourite with my kids.

You need:

  • 1 large head of cauliflower
  • 16 garlic cloves
  • 1 tsp rosemary
  • 1 tsp thyme
  • 1/2 tsp freshly ground black pepper
  • 60 ml (1/4 cup) olive oil

Steps:

  1. Preheat oven to 200ºC.
  2. Wash the cauliflower and cut into small, bite-sized pieces.
  3. Peel the garlic, but leave the cloves whole.
  4. Place the cauliflower, garlic, rosemary, thyme, salt, pepper and oil in a deep baking dish and toss well, making sure all the cauliflower is coated in oil and herbs.
  5. Bake in the oven for 15 minutes.
  6. Stir the mix well and bake for another 15 minutes.
  7. Serve immediately.

Ready In: 30 minutes

Serves: 2

Difficulty: Out of 5, it’s a 1!

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12Apr 12

Rosemary Focaccia

Rosemary FocacciaThis delicious rosemary focaccia can be served as an accompaniment for dinner or used as an original and filling sandwich bread.  You can even eat it dipped in Moroccan hummus. Or if you’re feeling a bit adventurous (and rather hungry) you could use it as a base for pizza.  Just top it off with your favourite sauce, toppings and cheese and grill for a few minutes to melt the cheese.

You Need:

  • 1½tsps active dry yeast
  • 2tsps granulated sugar
  • 125ml  warm (45°C) water
  • White rice flour for dusting
  • 140g sorghum flour
  • 140g cornflour
  • 95g tapioca flour
  • 1½tsps xanthan gum
  • 2tsps chopped fresh rosemary or 1tsp dried, crushed with your hands
  • ½tsp onion powder
  • ½tsp salt
  • 2 large eggs, at room temperature
  • 2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
  • 1tsp cider vinegar

Topping:

  • Olive oil cooking spray
  • 2tsps chopped fresh rosemary or 1tsp dried, crushed with your hands
  • ½tsp Italian seasoning
  • 1tsp coarse sea salt

Steps:

  1. Preheat the oven to 205°C.
  2. In a small bowl, dissolve yeast and sugar in warm water.
  3. Set aside to foam for 5 minutes.
  4. Generously grease a 27cm x 20cm pan. Dust the bottom and sides lightly with white rice flour.
  5. In a mixing bowl, sift together the sorghum flour, cornflour and tapioca flour
  6. Blend in the xanthan gum, rosemary, onion powder, salt, eggs, oil, vinegar, and yeast-water mixture.
  7. Beat dough with mixer on low speed until thoroughly blended.
  8. Increase mixer speed to medium and continue beating for 30 seconds or until dough starts to thicken slightly.
  9. Dough will be somewhat soft and sticky.
  10. Transfer dough to pan. Spread dough to edges of pan with a wet spatula, making sure dough is uniform in its thickness.
  11. Let dough rise in a warm place (24°C to 27°C) until dough is level with the top of the pan.
  12. Spray dough lightly with cooking spray.
  13. Sprinkle dough with rosemary, Italian seasoning, and salt.
  14. Bake on the lower-middle oven rack 25 to 30 minutes or until top is dark golden brown and firm.
  15. Remove from oven and cool focaccia 10 minutes in the pan and 10 more on a wire rack.
  16. Slice and serve.

Ready In:  60 minutes

Serves:  8

Difficulty:   4 out of 5

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09Apr 12

Gluten-free Pizza Crust

Gluten-free pizza crustIt’s taken years of searching and trial and error, but I’ve finally managed to find a decent gluten-free pizza crust.  And what’s even better, it’s not too hard to make!  The result is crispy on the outside and just a little chewy in the centre and the dough is strong enough to hold a good quantity of toppings without falling apart in your hands when you try to eat it.  And let’s face it, pizza (such as this spinach, tomato and blue cheese pizza) is meant to be eaten with your hands, not a knife and fork!

Once the dough is ready, you can top it off with your favourite sauce, toppings and cheese.  Whatever you do, don’t skimp on the cheese!  Mozzarella is the typical choice, but I suggest picking something with a little more originality and flair to branch out and try new flavours; you won’t be disappointed!

You Need:

  • 3 tsp yeast
  • 335 ml milk
  • 1 tsp sugar
  • 2 1/3 cup gluten-free all-purpose flour mix
  • 2 tsp xanthan gum
  • 1 tsp salt
  • 2 tbsp olive oil
  • 2 tsp apple cider vinegar
  • 80 ml gluten-free corn meal

Steps:

  1. Preheat oven to 200ºC
  2. Heat the milk in a small saucepan until it is just a little warmer than room temperature.  It should not be too hot to touch with your finger.
  3. Mix the milk, sugar and yeast in a medium sized bowl and set aside.
  4. Mix the flour, salt and xanthan gum well in a mixing bowl with a wooden spoon.
  5. The yeast mixture should now be foaming.  If it isn’t, wait until it is.
  6. Mix the apple cider vinegar and olive oil into the yeast mixture.
  7. Pour the yeast mixture onto the flour mixture and mix well.
  8. Roll out the dough on baking parchment paper with a roller and sprinkle the corn meal  onto both sides as you go.  You should roll it out to about a little less than half a centimetre thick.
  9. Transfer the dough and baking parchment to a baking sheet and bake it in the preheated oven until it starts to turn golden brown, about 15 minutes.
  10. Add your sauce, toppings and cheese and bake until the cheese melts.

Ready In: 40 minutes

Serves: 2

Difficulty: 3 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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