Fun Food Friday – Baked Eggplant Slices

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Gotta love a Friday afternoon. After all, for most it means no getting up early for work tomorrow. It’s that wonderful feeling of unwinding and having a drink (or 3) with a simple long lasting dinner.

Then, it’s Saturday. Time for a nice leisurely breakfast in your favourite cafe, on the balcony or in bed. At least that’s our Saturday mornings, especially since we both stopped going to work on them.

But back to Fridays…

I’m lucky enough to finish work pretty early in the afternoon so I get time to think of something fun to make and eat for dinner. Hence the name Fun Food Fridays.

I stopped off at our local supermarket on the way home and found the prettiest looking Eggplants and decided that baked spiced eggplant, fried haloumi and fresh tabouleh in crunchy lettuce leaves was exactly what I felt like (and a glass or two of a wonderful wine we bought back with us from the Barossa in South Australia.)

Eggplant cooked this way is easy, healthy and delicious. You just season it any way you like, bake it and serve it as part of any meal. It goes perfectly with haloumi…

All you’ll need is:

1 medium eggplant
Olive oil
Salt
Pepper
Cumin
Cayenne

Slice the eggplant into 1cm thick slices. Brush lightly on both sides with olive oil the sprinkle on your fave seasonings.

Place in a single layer on a baking paper lined baking sheet and bake in a preheated 200oC oven for around 30 – 40 minutes.

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While the eggplant was cooking I made a bowl of tabouleh and I pan fried some thick slices of haloumi.

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We grabbed a lettuce leaf each, filled it with some tabouleh, a piece of haloumi and a slice of eggplant then rolled it up and dug in.

Mmmmm…..Delightful….

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Hope you Enjoy…

Gluten Free Shortbread Biscuits with Currants.

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My sister gave me some bags of different kinds of gluten free flours a while ago and while I’ve been experimenting with them I haven’t been blogging what I’ve come up with.

I woke on Friday morning with the urge to make shortbread biscuits and remembered the Banana Flour I was given and decided it was time to make a G.F.  recipe and post it.

So here we are. The biscuits are long gone but it’s time to transfer the recipe from a post it note to a blog post…

This was the first trial of these biscuits and while they are really good, I didn’t get a big enough hit of the banana flour so next time I’ll be trying a little more banana flour and a little less g.f. plain flour. Of course you could omit the the banana flour all together and just put in 150g g.f. flour and you’ll get a lovely buttery shortbread biscuit.

You’ll need:

100g Gluten Free Plain Flour (I use Orgran brand)

50g banana flour

65g almond meal

1 tsp xanthum gum

30g gluten free corn flour (I use Whitewings)

90g castor sugar

150g salted butter

1 tsp vanilla extract

30g  dried currants

Here’s the hard part:

Put all the ingredients, except the currants, into the bowl of an electric mixer with a paddle attachment and turn the mixer on to low speed to begin with so that everything doesn’t fly out of the bowl and all over the kitchen.  After a couple of minutes increase the speed a couple of notches and let it mix until it almost forms a ball. At this stage throw in the currants and continue to mix until it all comes together and forms a kind of ball.

Roll the dough into a long sausage (about 35 – 40 cm long), wrap it in a sheet of baking paper and refrigerate for at least 30 minutes. IMG_1355

When the dough is chilled and firm slice into rounds just under 1 cm thick, place on a baking paper lined baking sheet and bake in a pre-heated 1650C oven for 25 – 30 minutes or until very lightly browned on the edges.

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I actually sprinkled a little cinnamon sugar over a few of them before baking to see how they’d turn out. The cinnamon gives it a great lift but that’s just me playing with my recipes again.

Leave to cool on the tray while you grab a cup of tea or coffee.

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The great thing about this recipe is that you can keep the uncooked dough wrapped in plastic wrap for up to a month in the fridge and just cut off and cook as many slices as you need. A constant supply of fresh baked biscuits.

I packed a couple dozen of these in a bag for my sister Jacky (who is a Ceoliac), and delivered them to her at work with a cup of coffee. She loved them. Good deed done…

Enjoy…

Cranberry and Coconut Macaroons

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I made a batch of these macaroons for my sisters 40th birthday party on the weekend. They were well received. Several people asked for the recipe so I thought I’d do a blog post and share it with you as well.
I played with the recipe by adding different ingredients and really liked the cranberry macaroon, though they do taste just as good plain. Just leave out the cranberries and mix all the ingredients in a bowl.

These are very simple to make and look impressive piled up on a serving dish.

All you need is:-

175g shredded coconut

130g castor sugar

pinch of salt

2 tsp vanilla

60g dried cranberries roughly chopped

2 egg whites

1 egg yolk

Blend the cranberries, eggs and vanilla in a blender until the cranberries are chopped up into small pieces.

Mix the coconut, sugar and salt in a large bowl. Add the cranberry and egg and mix with your hands until everything is well combined.

Form tablespoons of the mixture into whatever shapes you like (I used a teaspoon and my hand to form a cone shape but whatever’s easier for you. It will all taste the same)

Place them onto a baking paper lines baking sheet and cook at 130C for 20 – 25 minutes or until lightly brown.

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Cool on sheet.

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They store well for a week in an airtight container, but trust me, there won’t be any left to store.

Please enjoy…

Spicy Bun Fun – Gluten Free Hot Cross Buns.

It’s Easter time so why should coeliacs miss out on  the  spicy bun fun?

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I’ve been working on this recipe for a few years now. Last years batch was a hit with my sister but I’m hoping this years will be even lighter and fluffier. The taste is spot on, it’s the texture I’m dealing with now.

The recipe is really simple :-

450g gluten free plain flour (I use Orgran brand)

3 tsp instant yeast

4 tsp gluten free baking powder

4 tsp xanthum gum

1 tsp salt

2 tsp mixed spice

75g brown sugar

75g currants

120ml milk (full cream works best)

50g butter

150ml water

1 free range egg.

Hows this for simple?

In a bowl (I use a stand mixer but you can make these by hand, nothing wrong with a little elbow workout) mix together the flour,yeast, baking powder, xanthum gum, salt, mixed spice, brown sugar, and currants.

In either the microwave or on the stove, gently warm the milk, butter and water together until they are just warm. Don’t over heat the mix or you’ll kill the yeast. You should be able to stick your finger in without  burning it.

Stir the egg in with the milk, water and butter mix, then pour the whole lot into your dry ingredients. Stir until combined then knead for about 10 minutes until smooth and elastic.

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Cover with plastic wrap and leave in a warm room for about 1 hour until doubled in size.

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Scrape out onto a floured surface and shape into a log. Divide into 12 even pieces, shape into smooth balls and leave on a baking paper lined baking sheet in a warm room for about 40 minutes. They should double in size.

Pre-heat oven to 210oC.

In a small bowl mix 1 Tblsp flour with enough water to make a smooth paste. Spoon into a sandwich or freezer bag, cut of the very tip and pipe lines along the buns.

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Bake for 12 – 15 minutes.

In a tiny saucepan mix 2tsp white sugar with 2tsp water. Bring to the boil.

As soon as the buns come out of the oven brush them with the sugar syrup.

If you can, let them cool for 10 minutes before stuffing yourself with them.Image

Yep…

Light and fluffy and spicy and oh so moorish.

My sister says  “Wow. Really real hot cross buns. Wow.” As she’s stuffing yet another in her mouth.

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Please enjoy…

 

Lamb Cawl – Happy St. David’s Day.

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Happy National Welsh Day.

My husband has some Welsh ancestory so we thought it would be nice to indulge ourselves in one of Wales’  favourite meals. Cawl.

Its a stew with lots of leek, root veggies and meat. In this instance lamb.

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So I got:-

2 Tbls oil

6 lamb chump chops (or small shanks)

2 cups sliced leek

1 cup diced pumpkin

1 medium carrot – chopped into small chunks

1 cup sliced cabbage

some herbs  i.e.  thyme, rosemary, bay leaf

salt, pepper, cinnamon

water

Season lamb with salt, pepper and cinnamon.

Heat oil in a large saucepan, add the lamb and brown on all sides. Take the lamb out of the saucepan and throw in the leeks, carrot, pumpkin and herbs. Fry for a minute or two stirring. If it gets too dry add a little water.

Return the meat to the saucepan and stir in with the veggies. Add about a litre of water, stir well, bring to the boil, then turn the heat down to low, cover and leave it to simmer for about an hour, stirring occasionally.

Take the lid off and continue to simmer for another 30-40 minutes or until the meat is very tender and the sauce has thickened up a little.

Add the cabbage for the last 10 minutes of cooking.

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I served it with some mashed potato and toasted sourdough bread (and a glass of Shiraz)

It went down really well.

Enjoy…

Riz ib Fool – Broad Beans with Rice.

So, Happy New Year to all. Hope you had a wonderful New Years Eve and a quick recovery New Years Day.

Every year my husband and I sit on our balcony overlooking huge native fig trees with a mezza spread and a glass (or 6) of wine and beer.

This year we decided to try something different and flew to Adelaide for a few days and spent New Years Eve on a 10th floor balcony looking over Adelaide city.

We got to Adelaide, dropped off our bag and marched ourselves to Adelaide Central Markets.20140104-174036.jpg I absolutely love that place. It has everything you could possibly need from delicious local and overseas cheeses to perfectly ripe fresh fruit and veggies, amazing sour dough breads and all sorts of chocolates, cakes and pastries. It is heaven to me and a great shame you can’t find the same great variety of providores and produce under the same roof in Sydney. That’s not to say we don’t have amazing shops and produce in Sydney, it’s just that you have to visit several different shops to get the same variety. Probably dug myself in a big hole with that comment, but anyway…..ImageImageWe had a wonderful New Years Eve.

We also had dinner at Coopers Alehouse on our first night in Adelaide. What a great place. Lots of beers on tap, a good wine list and something on the menu to satisfy just about anyone.

20140104-180152.jpgAnd so now its time to ease off a little on the holiday food and give our systems a dose of light and healthy.

This dish was just what we needed.

In a small saucepan melt a little butter with a dash of olive oil. Add 100g of lean minced beef and squash with the back of a spoon while browning. Season well with salt, pepper and a sprinkle of cinnamon. Next add 200g broad beans (frozen or fresh), stir then pour in 350ml water and stir again. Cover, bring to the boil, turn heat down and allow to simmer for 10 minutes.

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Now throw in 1/2 cup of long grain rice, stir, cover and allow the rice to absorb the water (it takes about 20 minutes on a very low heat). Stir it once or twice.

Once the rice is cooked leave the saucepan covered for about 10 minutes then you’re ready to serve.

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Yes..it’s really simple but oh so delicious.

Leave out the mince and you have yourself a delicious vegetarian dish.

We serve this with a good dollop of natural yoghurt, sticks of cucumber, wedges of tomato and some marinated olives.

Enjoy…

and all the best for 2014.

Smell’s Like Christmas….Gingerbread Biscuits.

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December comes around so quickly. Hard to believe it’s been a year since I last had my gingerbread biscuit cutters out.

The kitchen smells of ginger and cinnamon and fruit mince pies.

I’ve yet to make my gingerbread house though. I’ll have to get a move on.

There are two gingerbread recipes I use but this one is my favourite.

Its actually a ginger nut biscuit recipe from Margaret Fulton’s Book of Home Baking. One of the most used recipe books in my collection. I have adapted the recipe a little to make it more Christmasy, but I do use the original recipe many times throughout the year.

My young nephew could easily down a half dozen of these biscuits without drawing breath. Luckily he’s considerate enough to share whatever is left.

So here is the recipe:

In a small saucepan melt together 60g butter, 2 Tblsp treacle, 2 Tblsp golden syrup and 70g dark brown sugar over low heat until the butter and sugar have melted. Leave this to cool down for a few minutes then add 225g self-raising flour, 2 tsp ground ginger (or a little less if you don’t like it too spicy) and 1 tsp ground cinnamon and mix until you get a smooth thick paste. I then wrap it up and let it cool down for about a half hour to make it easier to handle.image

Now roll it out between to pieces of baking paper or plastic wrap to about 8mm thick and cut with your favourite biscuit cutters. Arrange on baking trays lined with baking paper and sprinkle with a little raw sugar and bake at 170c for 12 – 15 minutes depending on whether you want them really crunchy or a little chewy in the middle.image

Leave them on the baking trays for a couple of minutes to cool down slightly before transferring onto cake racks to cool down completely.

Simply replace the wheat flour with gluten free flour for a gluten free batch of gingerbread happiness.

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Hope you enjoy…