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Cover: Gluten free cooking

Recipes with pepper

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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24Apr 12

Turkey and Sun-Dried Tomato Loaf

Turkey and Sun-dred Tomato LoafThis turkey and sun-dried tomato loaf with onion gravy makes for a great Sunday afternoon roast replacement, like this lamb roast with garlic and rosemary.  I like to use turkey mince, but it should work fine with whatever mince you prefer, or even textured vegetable protein if you want to make it vegetarian-friendly.

You Need:

For the loaf:

  • 250g sun-dried tomatoes
  • 500ml boiling water
  • 65g cornflakes, crushed
  • 1 large onion, chopped
  • ½  medium-size green bell pepper, chopped
  • 1tbsp extra virgin olive oil
  • 4 cloves garlic, minced
  • 2tbsps mushroom or vegetable broth
  • 2 large eggs
  • 125g creamy Havarti cheese, shredded
  • 2tsps dried basil
  • 1tsp dried parsley
  • 1tsp dried oregano
  • ½tsp dried thyme
  • ½tsp freshly ground pepper
  • ½tsp salt
  • 700g  turkey mince
  • Vegetable oil spray

For the gravy:

  • 1 medium onion, diced
  • 1tbsp vegetable oil
  • 1 stock cube (vegetable or chicken)
  • 2tsps thyme
  • 500ml water
  • 4tbsp cornflour + 2tbsp water, mixed together to form a thick paste 

Steps:

  1. Preheat the oven to 175ºC.
  2. Submerge the sun-dried tomatoes in the boiling water for a few minutes to soften and then drain. Chop into small pieces and place in a large bowl.
  3. Add the crushed cereal and mix to coat. Set aside.
  4. Over medium heat, sauté the onion and green pepper in the olive oil until soft, about 5 to 6 minutes.
  5. Add the garlic and sauté for another minute.
  6. Add to the sun-dried tomato and cereal mixture.
  7. Next pour in the broth and mix well.
  8. Beat the eggs and then add them to the mixture,  jumbling it all together.
  9. Add the cheese, herbs, seasonings and meat and stir until well-blended.
  10. Lightly coat a 23cm x 13cm loaf pan with the vegetable oil spray and then press the mixture firmly down into the pan.
  11. Bake in the preheated oven for 1 hour, or until the temperature of the loaf, when measured with a roasting thermometer, reaches 80ºC.
  12. Remove from the oven and let cool for 5 to10 minutes before removing from the loaf pan.
  13. While the loaf is baking, prepare the gravy:
  • Sauté the onions in the vegetable oil until translucent, about 3 minutes.
  • Add the stock cube, thyme and 500ml of water and bring to the boil.
  • Add the cornflour paste a little at a time until desired thickness is reached.

14. Cut into slices, cover with gravy and serve.

Ready In:  90 minutes

Serves:  8

Difficulty:   3 out of 5

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19Apr 12

Baked Aubergine Parmesan with Tofu Pesto

Baked aubergine parmesan with tofu pestoThis baked aubergine parmesan with tofu pesto has got to be one of my all-time favourite comfort foods.  Filled with lots of cheese and literally dripping with sauce, it makes my mouth water just thinking about it.  If you’re not a fan of aubergine (like my son) you could substitute it for courgette, wild mushrooms or even a mix of vegetables.

You Need:

For the baked aubergine:

  • 1kg aubergines
  • 3tbsp extra virgin olive oil
  • 750ml tomato sauce
  • 300g mozzarella cheese, grated
  • 250g Parmesan cheese, grated
  • 4tsp fresh oregano, finely chopped
  • Salt to taste
  • Pepper, to taste

For the tofu pesto:

  • 125g firm tofu
  • 2 tablespoons vegetable broth
  • 500g fresh basil
  • 2 cloves garlic
  • 2 tablespoons lemon juice
  • 3 tablespoons olive oil
  • 125g fresh parsley
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground pepper

Steps:

  1. Preheat the oven to 175ºC.
  2. Peel the aubergine and slice into 1cm thick pieces.
  3. Sprinkle salt on each side and drain on kitchen towels for about 20 minutes.
  4. Turn the pieces over and drain on the other side for 20 minutes. Rinse and pat dry.
  5. Drizzle the oil on the aubergine and then grill for 3 to 4 minutes on each side, or until lightly browned.
  6. Combine the oregano and tomato sauce and season to taste with salt and pepper.  Pour a small amount on the bottom of a 23cm x 30cm pan.
  7. Arrange a layer of aubergine along the bottom of the pan, cover with some sauce and the shredded mozzarella cheese and sprinkle with the Parmesan. Continue layering until you have used all the aubergine, sauce and cheese, ending with the cheese.
  8. Bake for about 30 minutes on the middle shelf of the oven, or until the cheese is bubbly.
  9. Remove from the oven and let it sit for 5 minutes.
  10. While the aubergine is baking, prepare the pesto topping.  Combine all the ingredients in a blender, starting with the liquid ingredients at the bottom to facilitate blending.  Process on medium speed until the pesto is very smooth. (Click here for another pesto sauce recipe.)
  11. Pour the pesto sauce over the baked aubergine and serve immediately.

Note: Some people like pesto more than others, and so I often put the pest in a bowl on the side so that my guests can serve themselves according to personal preference.

Ready In:  75 minutes

Serves:  6

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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