Love, kin and birthday cakes

By July 28, 2014 Dinner, Uncategorized

bird  “You can choose your friends but you sho’ can’t choose your family, an’ they’re still kin to you no matter whether you acknowledge ’em or not, and it makes you look right silly when you don’t.”
Harper Lee, To Kill a Mockingbird

 

Fortunately my cousin is the acknowledgeable type. She’s sassy, gorgeous and smart. But don’t get me wrong – the girl likes to stir, beat up on things and to get her hands dirty. But fortunately it’s in the kitchen. So when I invited her away for her birthday weekend, I lovingly let her unleash her inner Julie Child and rough things up a bit on the butchers block.

Before I share her delicious Thai curry recipe with you though, I first need to share a secret. As my husband will tell you, I’m not one for sharing secrets.  There’s something crazy beautiful about knowing something that few others do. I really like secrets. But since this is my forum for sharing, I’m going to let this one fly. Here goes…I love spooning! There, I said it. I love settling in with the soft velvety texture and the sumptuous suggestion of more of a delectable Love and Spoon Me cupcake. And with a birthday in the house, it meant we were getting spooned!

The Cupcake Richard Cake Shop aims to bake stuff that is nice for everyone.  They bake without dairy, wheat, gluten, eggs and butter and all of their cakes are suitable for vegans. And they’re delicious!

 

IMG_4483Now that that’s out in the public, here’s my gorgeous cousin’s recipe.

Thai curry with cauliflower rice

For this recipe you can either make your own curry paste, or buy a fresh one from the store. Try to avoid any highly-processed and commercial pastes that are full of the hidden nasties. In this case, and always, the fresher the better.

IMG_4437Serves 6

You will need,
Fresh curry paste, 4 tablespoons
A selection of vegetables, I chose courgettes, aubergine, butternut and mushrooms
2 cans of coconut milk, or fresh coconut milk if you want to make it
2 heads of cauliflower

 

 

 

 

 
IMG_4446In a large pot, heat up some olive oil and add curry paste, cook this off for a few minutes until it becomes fragrant.
Add chopped vegetables in order of hardness, so that you veggies will all be cooked equally – i started with butternut, then aubergine, followed by courgettes. Sweat these for a few minutes until they are partially cook, add more oil if the pot gets dry. Then add the coconut milk, and once it is simmering turn the heat down and allow the vegetables to finish cooking for about 15 minutes and the spices to infuse the milk.

Meanwhile, turn the oven on to grill. Wash your cauliflower, chop it roughly and blitz it in your food processor using the standard steel blade. The cauliflower will blend down to a crumbly consistency that resembles couscous. You can do this in two batches if you food processor is not big enough. In a roasting tray, lay the cauliflower rice out and place in the oven on a shelf near the top of the oven. It will take about 15 minutes to grill, and will require your watchful eye to keep turning it and make sure it doesn’t burn.

By now the curry should be ready and it’s time to add the mushrooms, these cook quickly and only need to be added 2 minutes before serving. Add salt and pepper if needed.

Enjoy the curry in big bowls, with cauliflower rice, coconut curry broth, and topped with fresh coriander. It may need a squeeze of lemon, so you can serve wedges of fresh lemon on the side for those who would like some.

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Foraging amongst the Gauls

By July 28, 2014 Dinner, Uncategorized

It’s no secret that the Gauls had a penchant for good food. Asterix and Obelix demonstrated this delightfully in their grand gourmet tour all over France collecting regional delicacies: Camaracum Humbugs sweets, the fine wines of Durucortorum, fish stew from Massilia, Nicaean salad, prunes from Aginum, oysters and wine from Burdigala, etc. And, lest we forget, the purchase of some Lutèce ham.

Asterix (8)

On a recent trip to France, I decided to waste no time doing my own personal delving into the delights of the region. We’d been off carbs and sugar for five months and had no strategy for navigating the patisserie-lined boulevards of France. I have to confess, I may have baked and stashed a good supply of flaxseed crackers that I smuggled in. I was determined to be resolute. And creamy French fromage can work on any medium really.

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Of course I had them beautifully stacked and wrapped in wax paper and a kraft box. There was some serious Provencal market ware to compete against and I didn’t want my flaxseed crackers looking like the fanny-packed tourist.

One foot onto the cobble-stoned streets of Uzes, Isle-sur-la-Sorgue and Nimes and all resistance crumbled. I felt Obelix’s pain. Gluttony was about to become my favourite sin. Tables braced themselves under the weight of tomatoes the size of an ox’s heart, cherries the size of golf balls, wheels of cheese of every colour and odour, sausage made of every beast, and mixture thereof. It was like the food version of a Jackson Pollock. Made even more delightful by the accompanying great oak barrels of Chateauneuf du Pape wine.

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So as any self-respecting gourmande should do, I tucked in. And meals became a veritable feast. Pink speckled beans were scattered across purples leaves. Asaparagus was steamed and bathed in slathes of salted home spun butter. Coeur-du-boeuf tomatoes were sliced and nestled in between freshly picked basil leaves and juicy-fresh mozarella. Great big purple figs were stuffed with ripe Roquefort. We may have been missing a wild boar or two, but the meat-eaters safely satiated themselves on gnawing on a stick of wild boar and duck saucisson instead. Yes, market eating worked particularly well for us.

IMG_4806If the feast of the Gauls was not confined to an Asterix comic as an occasion for communal rejoicing, but indeed served to demonstrate the host’s wealth and social status, our week-long feast definitely hailed us as kings and queens of the HFLC (high fat low carb).

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Breakfast of stars

By June 11, 2014 Breakfast, Snacks, Uncategorized

winnie pooh copy“When you wake up in the morning, Pooh,” said Piglet at last, “what’s the first thing you say to yourself?”

“What’s for breakfast?” said Pooh. “What do you say, Piglet?”

“I say, I wonder what’s going to happen exciting today?” said Piglet.

Pooh nodded thoughtfully. “It’s the same thing,” he said.”
A.A. Milne

 

I personally am a Pooh kinda girl. Give me breakfast all day and I’d be excited! So when I entitled this particular post a “Breakfast of Stars” I feel it could easily be a generic heading for breakfast recipes.

So since any day is my favourite breakfast, this is today’s favourite breakfast. This one does have something quite special about it. Not only is it carrying some punch packing superfoods but, you would never believe it… These guys feel more like they’re gently seducing you into a fantasical world of wellbeing than giving you your marching orders to health. I’m talking coconut cream, cinnamon and eggs. The trilogy of belly and brain food. Throw in a good cup of coffee and who wouldn’t feel like ambling into the sunset with Piglet. So here goes, I think you ( and your kids) are going to dig this!

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Sweet Potato French Toast

 

1kg cooked sweet potato (I roasted mine for a deeper flavour but you could also steam them)

100ml coconut milk

5 eggs

3/4 C milled sunflower seeds ( I mill mine in my food processor to a coarse powder)

3/4 C coconut flour

3 tsp baking powder

2 tsp cinnamon

1 tsp nutmeg

1 tsp ground ginger

1 Tsp psyllium husk

1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract

1/2 cup milk (you can substitute this for a milk alternative or water)

1 Tbs coconut oil

1 punnet strawberries

Creme fraiche (optional)

 

Turn the oven on to 180°c

Blend the sweet potato and coconut milk in a food processor until creamy.  Add three of the eggs to the mixture and mix well. Mix all the dry ingredients together well. Add the sweet potato mix and knead well. Leave to set for about 15 minutes.

Turn into a well-greased bread tin.

Cover with foil and cook for 45 minutes. Uncover and cook for another 45 minutes being careful not to burn the top. The loaf is ready if you can sink a knife into it without any residue.

Turn out the loaf onto a cooling rack and leave to cool.

So, for some folk, it would be pretty much ready for a good feast round about now. But, why not push it over the edge. I mean, we are talking breakfast after all…

Once the loaf is cooled, slice it into chunky slices. Mix the remaining egg, milk and vanilla together in a flat-bottomed bowl . Dip each slice into the egg mix and cover completely.

Heat a pan and melt the coconut oil. Fry each slice of bread until golden brown.

Serve with sliced strawberries and a dollop of creme fraiche. YUM!

sp breakfast

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Bread winner

By June 10, 2014 Breads & Crackers, Giving up wheat/grain, The Lunchbox, Uncategorized

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Once upon a time, I was a bread fiend. I lived in Italy and France for a while and devoured freshly baked baguette, croissant, ciabatta, crostini, pain au chocolat, cornetti, pizza. “Pane e vino” was my daily mantra. My personal manna awaited at every corner boulangerie. Ah, those days…

Alas when I decided to throw out the wheat, out went my daily bread too. Eish, that can hurt! I’ve tried really hard to replace the bread: I have sawed my way through many a brick masquerading as a loaf. Ignored the pate-like texture of many an experiment. Tossed away many a flopped attempt. And indeed, I had resigned myself quite happily to fashion my breading-eating habits on those of the fleeing Israelites, and consider flat cracker bread a perfectly acceptable substitute (and I’ll be sure to share the recipe for that too).

So I may have been just slightly delirious with delight when this particular loaf rolled out of my oven, steaming hot and my bread knife once again found itself slicing effortlessly through the voluptuous textured body of a beautiful loaf of bread.

While this loaf is not entirely grain free, the brown rice flour adds a good nutritional punch*

Daily Bread

bread

1 C finely ground pumpkin seeds

1 C nut flour ( I used half half almond and coocnut flour)

1 C brown rice flour

1 C seed and nut mix ( I used sunflower and pumpkin seeds)

3 T Psyllium Husk

2 T Chia Seeds

1 t Himalayan Crystal salt

1 t dried herbs

2 t Brewers Yeast

2 – 2 1/2 cups water

 

Mix all the dry ingredients together well. Slowly the add the water kneading to form a dough. Leave to “set” for about an hour. The dough should be quiet solid. I rolled my into an oval loaf. You could also use a greased bread tin or roll into a baguette-style loaf.

 

Cook at 180°c for about an hour depending on what size loaf you go for. The top should be tanned and you should be able to sink a knife in the loaf with no residue.

My recommendation is to cut into chunky slices straight from the oven and layer with fresh organic butter ( and maybe a little Marmite…)

 

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* Brown rice is a good substitute for many other grain-based flours. Its nutritional benefits include protein, fibre, Vitamin B, Selenium, Magnesium and more. Check out the World’s Healthiest Food website for more information

 

 

 

 

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Cinnamon choc chai

By June 4, 2014 Chocolate

Would you? Could you?
in a car?
Eat them! Eat them!
Here they are.

You may like them.
You will see.
You may like them
in a tree?                          Green eggs and ham, Dr Seuss

Today it is winter. With no apologies. It’s a meteorological cacophony – wind, rain, mist, even the suggestion of snow on Table Mountain. And its dragging the colds and flu along with it. Hurumph! And we are running a little close to that pack of wolves.

So I dipped into the pantry and found an old faithful friend – cinnamon. Cinnamon is one of those delightful little spices to have hanging around. It lingers around any cooking dish with a deliciously seductive scent. And it’s a real Trojan when it comes out to fight.A whiff of cinnamon boosts your brain. Even cinnamon-flavored gum enhances memory, visual-motor speed, recognition, attention, and focus. Cinnamon is a wonder spice: it helps to regulate sugar levels; reduces proliferation of leukemia and lymphoma cancer cells; reduces clotting of blood platelets; acts as a antimicrobial, which means it helps with yeast infections; contains the trace mineral manganese and is a very good source of dietary fiber, iron, and calcium. It’s also been used to treat conditions such as coughing, arthritis and sore throats since medieval times.

My other old favourite flu-time friend is raw honey. Called “the nectar of the Gods” by ancient Greeks, honey is one of the most multifaceted staples in your pantry. And, above all, it is a delicious, healing food. Raw honey is a shining example of food as medicine. Your grandmother’s home remedy of dosing you with a bit of honey for your cough seems to have some science behind it afterall. With our without the whiskey, honey has promising evidence as a cough suppressant.

So with all this evidence behind me, and weather and malaise swirling around me, it was time for a good cup of chilli chai chocolate. We were on the move so we took it take away in enamel mugs with our leftover pumpkin donuts on the side.

Quick and simple flu remedy – Chilli Chai Chocolate

1 tsp cocoa powder

1 tsp cinnamon

1 tsp honey

200 ml medium hot water

Some warm milk or coconut cream

 

Mix the cocoa, cinnamon and honey with a small amount of the water into a paste. Once the ingredients are mixed well top up with the hot water. Add milk/coconut cream to taste. Slurp down with a pumpkin donut. Mmmm, medicine never tasted this good.

 

This would work as a good elixir all through winter for concentration and focus too!

 

 

 

 

Hunger bites

By May 30, 2014 Breakfast, Dinner, Uncategorized

 

Yesterday was World Hunger Day. 1 billion people hungry! We decided to add two more in solidarity. Just for the day…. We joined the benevolent folk of FoodBankSA, paid our donations and dove into our twelve-hour fast.

 

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It’s amazing how indignant the brain can become when it knows there’s no food coming in. On any normal day, missing a meal may go unnoticed. Call it a fast and your bellies bellowing out like a foghorn from the time you’ve swallowed your last mouthful. We groaned our way through the day and by sunset the rumble had stilled to a dull humming. So we decided to defy the desire and push through to the next morning. 24 hours of water.

Some of you may know Alexandre Dumas as the author of The Three Musketeers and the Count of Monte Cristo. He was also, unbeknownst to many today, a formidable gastronome and masterful cook. In his book, Dictionary of Cuisine, he masterfully describes the three sorts of appetite:

1. Appetite that comes from hunger. It makes no fuss over the food that satisfies it. If it is great enough, a piece of raw meat will appease it as easily as a roasted pheasant or woodcock.

2. Appetite aroused, hunger or no hunger, by a succulent dish appearing at the right moment, illustrating the proverb that hunger comes with eating.

The third type of appetite is that roused at the end of a meal when, after normal hunger has been satisfied by the main courses, and the guest is truly ready to rise without regret, a delicious dish holds him to the table with a final tempting of his sensuality.

By the end of our 24-hour fast, my mind was well and truly tricked. I was indeed ready to eat a roasted woodcock.

Fortunately for the woodcock, and my own vegetarianism, I managed to slip into appetite 2 with a succulent dish appearing just at the right moment. Spinach pie!

Here is the recipe my lovelies!

 

SPINACH PIE

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2 x red pepper

a handful of chopped fresh herbs. I used sage and thyme

320g chopped spinach

6 eggs

100ml cream

Some grated cheese. I used goats milk cheddar

 

Finely chop the red pepper. Flash fry with the fresh herbs in olive oil.

Toss into a casserole/pie dish.

Add the chopped spinach

Beat together the eggs and cream

Add some salt and pepper

Pour over the spinach mix

 

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Cover with grated cheese

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Bake in the oven at 180 ° c for 12-15 minutes until golden brown

 

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 Note about illustration above: Polish artist Pawel Kuczynski has worked in satirical illustration since 2004, specializing in thought-provoking images that make his audience question their everyday lives.

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Dunkin Pumpkin Donuts

By May 27, 2014 Breads & Crackers, Cakes & Desserts, Food and Recipes, Giving up sugar, Giving up wheat/grain, Muffins & Cookies, Snacks, The Lunchbox

I went to an organic food market on Saturday. Wow. Vegetarian heaven. Aisles of growing plantlets, clutching onto trellises and tripods, wrapped up in shade cloth and twine. It was delightful.

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The marketeers were authetically set up in gumboots and aprons, while the merry folk sat around sipping chai and chomping breakfast muffins on hay bails. As my son and I ambled past heavily laden tables, plucking away at vegan delicacies, I stumbled upon a loaf of flaxseed bread. Grain-free, sugar-free. It looked pretty. It wore a twig of rosemary like a fascinator. I was fascinated. Could it actually taste like bread? It played the part pretty authentically. Mine had always been dreadful and usually found its resting place in the bowel of my freezer where I hoped one day I would find it interesting.

And as my brick loaf thudded to the table that night at dinner, I feared the worst. Another loaf relegated to the freezer. The knife sliced through it like a wedge of pate, the thick residue clinging to the blade. Bread and pate should never have the same consistency, nor leave the same trace. It’s never a good sign! And indeed, the bread was as dreadful as any I had ever made.

I needed to try something new. Something that didn’t make me feel like we were being punished for eating. I needed something that resembled manna from heaven  little more.

 

So here it is:

pumpkin donuts

Pumpkin Donuts

300g cooked diced pumpkin (I oven roasted mine in olive oil and crystal salt)

120g coconut and/or almond flour

1 Tbs arrowroot powder

1 1/2 tsp baking powder

1/2t salt

1 tsp cinnamon

1/2 tsp nutmeg

1 tsp ground ginger

2 eggs

1Tbs xylitol

1/4 cup milk

1 Tbs coconut oil

 

Mix all the ingredients in a food processor or with a blender. I used my old faithful donut machine and baked up 2 dozen donuts. But you could also fry them in a pan like fritters/flapjacks.

Serve with some creme fraiche. Mmmm

 

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Making magic with food

By May 19, 2014 Uncategorized

Once upon a time, there was magic in food…

…..cake

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