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Cover: Gluten free cooking

Meal for 4 people

18Jun 12

No-egg Caesar Salad

No-egg caesar saladIf you’re like me and you don’t like to eat raw eggs, then this no egg Caesar salad will soon turn into your new favourite salad recipe!  The crispiness of the romaine lettuce and the tanginess of the Worcestershire, garlic, mustard and vinegar in the sauce come together to make a winning combination that’s been a favourite for discerning diners around the world for years.

As for the omission of the raw eggs, I can guarantee you that you won’t even miss them – in fact, I’m having a bit of a hard time understanding what they were doing in the original recipe in the first place! (Also try this chicken salad with roast tomatoes, almonds and balsamic dressing.)

 

You Need:

  • 2 garlic cloves, minced
  • ½ teaspoon salt
  • 65ml extra-virgin olive oil
  • 200g chicken strips
  • 375g gluten-free bread cubes, crusts removed, and cut in 1.5cm pieces
  • 1 tablespoon fresh lemon juice
  • 1 teaspoon cider vinegar
  • 1 teaspoon dry mustard
  • 1 teaspoon gluten-free Worcestershire sauce
  • 1 teaspoon anchovy paste (omit for vegetarian-friendly guests)
  • 1 head Romaine lettuce, washed, patted dry, and torn
  • 50g (1⁄3 cup) grated Parmesan cheese or soy alternative

 

Steps:

 

  1. Preheat the oven to 175ºC and place a rack in the middle position.
  2. Make the chicken: Fry the chicken in a frying pan until cooked thoroughly. If you prefer it hot, you can serve it immediately with the salad. If you prefer it cold, you can make it the night before and store it in the fridge until ready to add to the salad.
  3. Line a baking sheet with aluminium foil and set aside.
  4. In a small bowl, mash the minced garlic with the salt and the oil; set aside.
  5. Make the croutons:
    1. Place the bread cubes in a single layer on the baking sheet. Bake for 10 minutes, or until they are just lightly browned.
    2. Transfer the bread cubes to a large bowl, toss them with half of the garlic-oil mixture, and return to the baking sheet to bake for 3 to 5 minutes more, or until golden brown and crisp.
    3. Remove the croutons from oven and set them aside to cool just a little.
    4. In a large salad bowl, whisk together the remaining garlic-oil mixture, lemon juice, vinegar, mustard, Worcestershire sauce, and anchovy paste, if you’re using it.
    5. Add the Romaine lettuce and toss thoroughly.
    6. Sprinkle with Parmesan cheese, chicken strips and croutons, toss again, and serve immediately.

 

Ready In:  20 minutes

Serves:  4

Difficulty:   2 out of 5

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05Jun 12

Cheese and Potato Pie

Cheese and Potato PieAlthough I suppose it’s not technically a pie as it doesn’t have any pastry, this cheese and potato pie recipe certainly looks quite a bit like a pie so I’m going to stick with the name.  It is baked in the oven like a pie and when you serve it cut into triangle shapes it also looks somewhat similar to a Spanish omelette, although the taste is quite different.  In France they make it with lean bacon and it’s called a truffade.  Whatever you want to call it, the result is very, very yummy and I can guarantee that everyone is going to want second or even third helpings so be sure you make plenty.

I’ve suggested using cheddar cheese in the recipe since it’s the easiest to find, but you can substitute any strong, hard cheese if you prefer.  The French usually use tomme cheese, but I don’t know where to get that here in the UK.  I’ve used Spanish manchego cheese on occasion and it tasted simply delightful.

You Need:

  • 2tbsp sunflower oil
  • 675g potatoes, peeled and thinly sliced
  • 1 large onion, thinly sliced
  • 300ml grated cheddar
  • 1/2tsp freshly grated nutmeg
  • Salt
  • Pepper

Steps:

  1. Preheat the oven to 190ºC.
  2. Grease a deep oven dish with a little of the sunflower oil.
  3. Arrange a layer of potatoes along the bottom of the baking dish.
  4. Season this layer of potatoes with the nutmeg, salt and pepper.
  5. Coat with a bit of the sunflower oil.
  6. Arrange a layer of sliced onions on top of the potatoes.
  7. Sprinkle this layer with grated cheddar cheese.
  8. Arrange another layer of potatoes (with salt, pepper and nutmeg), onions and cheese.
  9. Keep adding layers until all the ingredients are used up.
  10. Top off with a layer of cheddar cheese.
  11. Bake in the preheated oven for 45 minutes or until it turns a dark golden-brown colour.
  12. Let sit 5 minutes, loosely covered with a sheet of aluminium foil.
  13. Serve with salad on the side.

Ready In:  60 minutes

Serves:  4-6

Difficulty:   2 out of 5

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31May 12

Menemen – Turkish Scrambled Eggs

Menemen - Turkish Scrambled Eggs

One of my fondest memories from a trip I made to Turkey a few years back has got to be the incredible breakfasts!  Nuts and cheeses, yoghurt, honey, fresh fruit and marmalades, and of course, menemen, a kind of Turkish scrambled eggs.  I can still remember falling asleep every night with my mouth watering in anticipation of the next morning’s breakfast!

This recipe, as with most scrambled egg recipes, is very quick and ridiculously simple to prepare.  The only thing you really need to keep in mind to make this taste as good as possible is to use the best quality vegetables you can find, preferably organic.  And if you haven’t switched over to organic free-range eggs, I strongly recommend you do so as soon as possible, as the difference in taste and colour is absolutely astounding!  Also, if you can find the Italian style green peppers (they’re longer and thinner), then you should use them for a more authentic experience.

If you like a big breakfast, why not also try these mini pancakes with mozzarella, spinach and pine nuts? You can technically eat them for lunch or dinner, but to me, pancakes are for breakfast. And I usually prefer salty over sweet in the morning.

 

Menemen - Turkish Scrambled Eggs
Author: 
Recipe type: Breakfast
Prep time: 
Cook time: 
Total time: 
Serves: 2-4
 
Ingredients
  • 3tbsp olive oil
  • 1 medium-sized onion, minced
  • 1 medium sized green pepper, deseeded and finely chopped
  • 3 large tomatoes, washed and finely chopped
  • 4 eggs
  • 4tbsp fresh flat-leaf parsley, chopped fine
  • ¼tsp ground nutmeg
  • Salt and pepper to taste
Instructions
  1. In a medium size frying pan over medium heat, heat the olive oil until hot but not smoking.
  2. Sauté the onion for 5 or 6 minutes, or until it's very soft.
  3. Add the green pepper and sauté for 5 more minutes, stirring frequently.
  4. Add the chopped tomatoes and mix well.
  5. Cover the pan and let it cook for 5 more minutes.
  6. Remove the cover from the pan and keep cooking, stirring occasionally, until all the excess liquid has evaporated.
  7. Beat the eggs in a small bowl and season to taste with the salt and pepper and nutmeg.
  8. Add the egg mixture to the pan and cook for another 5 minutes, stirring every 30 seconds or so.
  9. Remove the pan from the heat and season the mixture to taste with salt and pepper.
  10. Add the freshly chopped parsley and mix well.
  11. Serve immediately.

 

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05Apr 12

Oat and Buckwheat Pancakes

Oat and Buckwheat pancakes

Breakfast is the most important meal of the day, so it’s good to make sure you eat lots of high energy and healthy foods, especially if you’re going to be doing any energy-intensive activities later on in the day.  These oat and buckwheat pancakes provide a real kick-start to your morning and help keep you going all day long.

If you don’t want to use oats, you can use millet or quinoa flakes, which will give you a higher protein content.  Brown rice flakes could also be substituted.  I’ve used soy milk in the recipe because I’m trying to stay away from dairy as much as possible these days, but if you prefer, you can go ahead and use regular milk.

If I’m going to go out trekking in the mountains all day (something I often do), I usually double the recipe and wrap the leftovers to take with me for a quick energy boost later on in the afternoon.  They’re not as yummy without the maple syrup, of course, but as long as you’ve got something to wash them down with, they’re still pretty good. (For a sugary indulgence, try these lemon meringue pancakes.)

You Need:

  • 250g buckwheat flour
  • 70g oats
  • 2 tablespoons corn meal
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons baking powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 2 tablespoons granulated sugar
  • 250ml soy milk
  • 2 tablespoons vegetable oil
  • 1 large egg

Steps:

  1. Heat a non-stick frying pan over medium heat.
  2. Combine the buckwheat flour, oats, corn meal, baking powder, salt and granulated sugar. Stir well.
  3. In a separate bowl, combine the soy milk, oil and egg.
  4. Beat until well mixed.
  5. Add the dry ingredients to wet ingredients about a third at a time and stir until smooth.
  6. Spoon about 50ml of batter for each pancake onto the frying pan.
  7. Cook for about 2 minutes each side, until golden brown.
  8. Serve with butter and maple syrup, jam, yogurt, or whatever topping you prefer.

Ready In:  20 minutes

Serves:  4-6

Difficulty:   2 out of 5

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04Apr 12

Broiled Salmon with Spicy Bell Pepper Sauce

Broiled Salmon with spicy bell pepper sauceHigh in protein, omega-3 fatty acids and vitamin-D, fresh salmon is a great addition to any diet, and just happens to be one of the only kinds of fish I actually like!  This broiled salmon with spicy bell pepper sauce makes for a fast and satisfying meal, especially if accompanied with whole-grain rice or even pasta.  The slightly spicy bell pepper sauce nicely offsets the rather subtle flavour of the salmon and definitely makes it more palatable if you are not much of a fish enthusiast, like me.

The latest scientific evidence seems to suggest that salmon from fish farms are much higher in dioxins and lower in omega-3 content, so try to get wild salmon if you can.  I’ve also tried the same recipe with trout, and it was pretty good too. (Here is another rather tasty fish and bell pepper recipe for tuna steaks with roast peppers.)

You Need:

For the salmon:

  • 4 fresh salmon fillets (about 100g each)
  • 1tsp salt
  • ¼tsp freshly ground black pepper
  • ¼tsp paprika
  • ¼tsp ground cumin
  • Cooking spray
  • 1 fresh lemon, quartered, for garnish

For the sauce:

  • 125g diced red onion
  • 125g diced red bell pepper
  • 125g diced yellow bell pepper
  • 125g diced green bell pepper
  • 125g diced plum tomato
  • 60g chopped fresh coriander
  • 2tbsps sherry or champagne vinegar
  • 1tsp extra-virgin olive oil
  • 1/2tsp paprika
  • 1/2tsp ground cumin

Steps:

  1. Sprinkle the salmon fillets with salt, pepper, paprika and ground cumin.
  2. Let sit for 15 minutes so that the fish absorbs the flavours.
  3. While the salmon sits, place a broiler rack about 15 centimetres away from the heat source.
  4. Preheat the broiler while you prepare the sauce.
  5. In a bowl, combine the red onion, bell peppers, plum tomato, coriander, vinegar, olive oil and spices.
  6. Place in the refrigerator and let it marinate until the salmon is ready.
  7. Coat broiler and salmon fillets with cooking spray.
  8. Broil the salmon, skin side down, for about 8 to 10 minutes. The exact time will vary depending on the thickness of the fish. When the fish is just barely opaque when cut in the thickest part, or when it flakes easily with a fork, it’s done.
  9. Pour the sauce over the broiled salmon fillets and serve immediately with the fresh lemon wedges.  The idea is to squeeze the lemon juice over the fish just before eating.

Ready In:  30 minutes

Serves:  4

Difficulty:   2 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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14Feb 12

Spinach and Lentil Soup

Spinach Lentil SoupThis easy-to-prepare Spinach and Lentil Soup makes a great starter or first course, and if you combine it with whole grain rice it provides a complete meal.  I find it is the perfect thing to warm me up when I come in from a run on a cold winter’s day, especially with the heat of the red chilli peppers.  In fact, I’ve toned down the spiciness of this version quite a lot as I know a lot of people don’t like it too spicy.  If you’re like me though, and you do like it hot, then I recommend increasing the quantity of red chili pepper significantly, anywhere from  ¾  of a teaspoon up to 1½ or even 2 teaspoons.

As always, the best results are obtained if you try and get the best possible quality fresh ingredients you can find – nobody likes wilted, damp spinach, not even in a soup!  So make sure it’s fresh, organic if possible, and be sure to wash it well under running cold water to clean off all the dirt.

For a bit of an exotic touch, try substituting the parsley for fresh coriander.  If you do this, add it just before serving so that it maintains its aroma.  Enjoy!

You need:

  • 2 cups of dried lentils
  • 9 cups of water
  • 1 tsp. salt
  • 1 bay leaf
  • 2 medium onions, chopped
  • 4 cloves of garlic, crushed
  • 150g of tomato paste
  • 2 bunches of spinach, cleaned & chopped
  • ½ cup of fresh parsley
  • ¼ tsp. freshly ground black pepper
  • ¼ tsp. crushed red chili peppers
  • ¼ cup of fresh lemon juice

Steps:

  1. Put the water, bay leaf and salt in a large pot and bring to the boil.
  2. Add the lentils, cover, and cook for 30 minutes over a medium-low heat.
  3. Add the onion, tomato paste and garlic and cook for an additional 30 minutes.
  4. Add the spinach, parsley, ground pepper and red pepper.
  5. Mix well and cook for another 10 minutes.
  6. Add more salt to taste.
  7. Add the lemon juice, mix well and serve at once.
  8. Garnish with a bit of fresh ground nutmeg and a sprig of fresh parsley.

Ready In:  75 minutes

Serves:  3-4

Difficulty:  Out of 5 (most difficult), it’s a 2!

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