Saturday, 17 November 2018

Butternut Squash, Ginger and Orange Cake (Gluten Free)

A deliciously dark and decadent, spiced ginger cake with fragrant orange notes, with a lovely moistness and lightness from the grated squash.

When you end up with four butternut squashes (primarily from your veg box delivery), you need to be a bit creative to use them all up!

Having already made a tasty squash and tomato soup, curry, and some buttery squash and swede mash for the freezer, it seemed like I could turn towards the dark side (cake!), and come up with something new.

Saturday, 10 November 2018

Masala Chai Cake with Vanilla Cinnamon Frosting (Gluten Free)

A deliciously spiced, moist and light cake that no-one will guess the secret ingredient to!

I am always trying to think up new and exciting flavours for cakes to make that everyone can enjoy, and I thought my idea for a masala chai cake was inspired!

As it is autumn, I thought something with warming spices would be delicious, which made me think of masala chai - an Indian take on tea, simmered with whole spices - namely cinnamon, cardamom, ginger, cloves and black peppercorns - with a cinnamon and vanilla cream cheese frosting to complement the flavours.

Tuesday, 16 October 2018

Easy Battered Fish in a Tasty Lemon and Parsley Batter - Gluten Free (or normal)

Delicious, crispy, battered fish, in a gluten free batter that packs a flavour punch!

Once you've tasted this, you won't want to go back to 'normal' batter - the lemon zest and parsley give it a delicious lift, and the cornflour and sparkling water make the batter lovely and crispy and light.

When you like the crispy bits and drizzle over a bit more batter after the first turn...

What's more, you can have battered fish without the mess and inconvenience of having to fill up a deep fat fryer with litres of oil - this has been simply shallow fried with only 1/2cm of oil in a non-stick frying pan - so it's quick and easy to do too (and you can filter and re-use the oil afterwards if you like).

Well, what more do you need to have a go - just get a couple of fillets of your favourite white fish, and if you like curry sauce on the side, have a go at my delicious and easy (gluten free) curry sauce - it's better that the chip shop's too - not that we're biased!!

The quick version with dried parsley and oven chips to keep everyone happy!

Serves two, easily doubled. Let's not talk about calories, because a small minority of my recipes are just never going to have them, OK? This is for a day when you just don't care!!

Better-Than Chip Shop Curry Sauce - naturally Gluten Free

Craving a really, REALLY good curry sauce to have with your chips?

Then, as the cliche goes - look no further! This is based on the flavours of one of the tastiest curry sauces I've had in recent years with fish and chips, at The Fish and The Chip in Leicester which does a fairly priced and very tasty plate of gluten free fish and chips at lunchtimes, should you be looking for anywhere coeliac-friendly!

Curry sauce is by nature, not the most photogenic of condiments, however what it lacks in aesthetic appeal, it certainly makes up for in flavour, and it's not at all complicated to make, and you've probably already got most of the ingredients to hand - so do give this a go! Plus, you can freeze it in portions for the next time you need some with your (fish and) chips! And of course, I've got a delicious and easy recipe for gluten free battered fish, that you can make in a frying pan!

Sunday, 23 September 2018

Crisp and Spicy Onion Bhajis (naturally gluten free)

These are hand-on-heart the best onion bhajis I've ever tasted!

Crispy, with a moist fluffy middle and absolutely packed full of flavour, they are absolutely unbeatable when home-made!

We're fortunate to live not too far from a very multicultural city where there are some excellent Indian restaurants, and delis that you can buy wonderful treats from, so trying to nail a tasty, crispy onion bhaji was actually quite fun after many years of eating all kinds!

I rarely cook deep fried foods - in fact, I seem to buy a deep fat fryer maybe once a decade for a special occasion, and then it languishes unused for many years in a cupboard. However, since my daughter was diagnosed with coeliac disease, I have a new reason to develop recipes for things which
are difficult to acquire gluten free and/or free from cross contamination (so for example, onion bhajis are naturally gluten free, being made from gram flour, however they sometimes contain wheat flour, or even trickier to spot, if you buy them, they're often a 'may contain', or more often than not may have been fried in oil that has had other things fried in it containing wheat - so a bit of a no-no when you can't risk even a crumb of something containing gluten!).

Makes 16 to 20 - easily doubled. Warning - VERY more-ish! And no, we're not mentioning calories for this recipe...!

Saturday, 22 September 2018

Zigni - Spicy Eritrean Beef Stew with Instant Pot Pressure Cooker and Slow Cooker method

Love spicy food? Fancy trying something new? Then why not have a go at this delicious Eritrean beef stew.

In our house at the moment, shin of beef is currently enjoying a period of popularity, as it is one of the most delicious, tasty and tender cuts of beef to cook slowly and also relatively economical.

Aside from a handful of staples, I've always enjoyed cooking new dishes on a regular basis, and re-creating food that I've enjoyed out and about. Finding new ways to slow-cook beef is always good fun, as there are so many different ways from so many different countries.
This is not a difficult dish to cook, it's extremely tasty and it's well worth making your own berbere spice mix to make it with, as that is also a simple thing to do once you've assembled the ingredients. 
Serves 8 to 10, or more as part of a selection of dishes. You can easily half this quantity if you wish to, and it freezes really well.

394 to 492 calories per serving (depending on whether a tenth or an eighth of the whole quantity - if you want to knock off around 30 calories a portion you can use pure oil spray for browning the beef and cooking the peppers, but you will need the keep the oil as stated for browning the onions).

Berbere - Ethiopian / Eritrean Spice Mix

A spicy mix predominately made of chilli, used to flavour many Ethiopian and Eritrean dishes.

One of the fundamental cornerstones of Ethiopian and Eritrean cooking is berbere - families have their own recipes for it, passed down from generation to generation - a bit like Italian families might pass down the recipes for a basic tomato sauce.

You can buy it ready made, but I think you might be disappointed with what is offered by generic spice manufacturers - much better to have a go at blending your own for a bit more authenticity.

Sunday, 16 September 2018

Easy Sri Lankan Cauliflower Curry

This curry is so easy and quick to make, and it tastes that good you can eat it all by itself, or with the simplest of accompaniments!

I've been going a bit mad for Sri Lankan food at the moment (yes, it probably shows in my blog posts!), and I love to share the things that I love the most!

*** Post in progress, awaiting photos! ***

Sunday, 9 September 2018

Korean Beef Kimchi Jjigae (stew) in the Instant Pot Pressure Cooker or Slow Cooker

A deliciously spicy and comforting stew that's quite simple to make.

Bored of your traditional beef stew or beef curries? Fancy trying something a bit different for a change, that's easy to make and really tasty? Oh, and pretty healthy too, especially if you serve it with fresh kimchi which is full of probiotics and low in calories (my recipe is 48 calories per 100g, so no need to be shy!)

You can either cook this in the pressure cooker to save time, or leave it to languish in a slow cooker overnight or during the day. If you're not into gadgets, you could just simmer it on the stove top for a couple of hours instead, before the final hour's simmer.

Whichever way you cook it, it's incredibly tasty, and although it is a spicy dish, despite the different forms of chilli, I really don't think it's too spicy - I'd call it medium. Delicious served with kimchi (especially if fresh), and steamed or boiled rice on the side. Fast day? Serve yours with cauliflower 'rice' at only 38 calories per 100g.

Makes 12 servings, easily halved, or perfect for freezing in portions for future easy meals in minutes.

364 calories per serving.

Sunday, 20 May 2018

Steak with Chimichurri Sauce

This has to be one of THE tastiest ways to serve steak!

This deliciously punchy sauce which originates from Argentina and Uruguay is the perfect condiment for barbecued, griddled or grilled meats - especially steaks.

We've recently got into the thin-cut sirloin steaks (more economical for a family of four, and a modest portion of red meat), which need only seconds on each side on a really hot pre-heated griddle for a nice char on the outside, and a pink and juicy inside, and are perfect then sliced into thick strips and drizzled with the chimichurri sauce.

This amount of sauce generously serves 8 when having a moderate amount of steak (such as the afore-mentioned thin-cut sirloin steak - which is around 160g / 6 oz), however I appreciate that some people like a big hunk o' meat, so the quantity of sauce reflects this, as if you're having 4 large steaks, then this would be enough to go between 4 to 6 people. You can easily halve the quantity of sauce if needs be. It also keeps well in the fridge for a few days, and you can make it the night before if you want the flavours to develop - otherwise just make it an hour or two in advance (or more if you have time).

Tuesday, 15 May 2018

Black Bean and Butternut Squash Chilli

This is a really delicious meat-free alternative to a chilli con carne, absolutely packed with flavour and texture, and really versatile too!

With a fortnightly (wonky) veg box having become a regular occurence in our lives, I'm finding myself coming up with lots of new things to cook to use up the vegetables that we're sent (which are pretty much a surprise on the day we receive them), which is a great way to stop yourself from falling into a culinary rut!

I'd really got into roasting sweet potatoes with cumin seeds for a bit of crunch, and had sweet potato and butternut squash to use up, and thought it would be nice to stick them in the oven to roast while prepping the rest of dinner, and thought they would be really nice to add into a bean chilli, along with some peppers (which I quite like to add into my ordinary chilli con carne from time to time, to give it a bit of a twist).

So this was the end result, cooked with my usual blend of spices for a chilli, and one that's definitely going onto the meat free regulars - it's so tasty and filling!

Served with my spicy cornbread, rice, grated cheese, sour cream and coriander

You can decide whether to use squash or sweet potato or a mixture, depending on what you've got in, and also use your favourite beans - you'll get a tasty result at the end whatever you use!

Served in tortillas with sour cream, fresh tomato, avocado, lightly pickled onions
and some sour cream mixed with lime juice, topped with coriander and chillies

Serves 10-12 portions (recipe easily halved) from 155-187 calories a portion using butternut squash (depending on whether a tenth or a twelfth) to 190-229 calories a portion using sweet potato. Why not have a wedge of homemade spicy cornbread on the side - it's quite easy to make, and also very filling! My recipe is here, from 116 calories for a wedge.

Sunday, 13 May 2018

Spicy Cornbread - Naturally Gluten Free

This is delicious served as a side dish to a good chilli con carne, or veggie chilli, especially fresh from the oven!

It's also very easy and quick to make - you just need to soak the toasted corn for a few hours or overnight / during the day first, then a quick mix and pop it into the oven for 15 to 20 minutes!

It's a lovely, tasty accompaniment to chilli, crusty on the outside and soft and moist on the inside - if you don't want it especially spicy you could just use half a red chilli and skip the jalepenos, or cut all the chilli out altogether if you prefer.

I haven't tried making this with any dairy free substitutes, as yet, as the reaction between the buttermilk and the bicarb is part if what makes it light and fluffy - so if any of my dairy-free or vegan friends or followers do make it with a dairy free substitute, I'd love to hear what you used and how you got on. Buttermilk essentially tastes like yoghurt, but is a bit thinner, and has a very low fat content - so if you can't get hold of it, then you could just use regular plain low fat yoghurt and thin it down a little with water.

Cuts into 8 or 12 wedges, serves 8 to 12 as a side to a main meal. 116 calories for a twelfth wedge, 173 calories for an eighth, if you're counting.

Thursday, 3 May 2018

Luxury Potato Salad

 A delicious, creamy potato salad full of flavour

This potato salad is delicious both warm or cold, depending on what you're serving it with.

Great as an accompaniment to cold meats, smoked fish, cured meats, barbecues, salads, leftover roast chicken and almost anything you can think of!

If you want to lower the calories, use fat free Greek yoghurt, light mayonnaise and half fat creme fraiche (or just extra yoghurt). Will keep happily in the fridge for a few days. Serves 8 to 10 comfortably, easily halved.

Monday, 16 April 2018

Squash, Sweet Potato and Spinach Dhansak

A delicious and healthy way to get your authentic curry fix using vegetables which just happen to be packed full of nutrients!

I always think there's nothing better than when you can eat a really tasty dinner, that you really enjoy, and BONUS - it's actually full of wonderfully healthy ingredients and good for you!

Even better if your children love it too and it's getting loads of healthy fresh vegetables down them and there are no complaints!

Well, what more can you ask? Well, I suppose you could want it to be vegetarian or vegan, gluten, dairy and nut free... well, it just so happens to be those things too - and good for a fast day as well, if you're looking for something low calorie...

,,,so what are you waiting for? Get in!!!

Serves four at 259 calories a portion. You could split into six more modest portions (e.g. as a side dish, or a lighter lunch, for 173 calories a portion). For a delicious fresh twist, why not serve with a helping of cachumber (Indian tomato, cucumber and onion salad with lime, spices and fresh coriander) for only 43 calories a portion - see here for my recipe. Serve with your choice of rice and/or flatbreads, or for a low calorie, low carb alternative, cauliflower 'rice'.

Sunday, 8 April 2018

Spiced Snozzcumber Cake (gluten free and lacto/dairy free - or not!)

A seriously delicious and moist cake that no-one will guess the secret ingredient to!

OK, don't worry, you don't have to get hold of 'snozzcumbers' to make this - large courgettes or marrow will do the job! Why 'Snozzcumber Cake'? Well, it was World Book Day and I went to work dressed as the BFG (complete with big ears, cape, dream blower, a bottle of Frobscottle, and of course some 'snozzcumbers' - which were extremely large courgettes) and decided to make a cake from said snozzcumbers to take into work for the rest of the staff to enjoy.

If you like carrot cake, I think you'll love this, as I use similar spicing to that I use in my carrot cakes, but use pecan nuts instead of walnuts, and a maple flavoured cream cheese frosting to complement the flavours. As my daughter has to have a gluten free diet, it is gluten free - but you'd never know as it is so delicious and moist! If you're not on a gluten free diet, feel free to use normal plain flour instead. Either way it will be seriously delicious!

Makes a 9 inch square cake (so up to 16 portions depending on how you want to cut it!). 

Impossible Lemon and Coconut Tart - Gluten Free

A delicious dessert that you only have to make one simple mix for!

There's no faffing about with this dessert, you just mix everything together, bake, chill, and end up with an impossibly tasty dessert with a gorgeous coconut crust on top, a lemony custard in the middle, and a pastry-like base. 

What more could you ask for in a dessert! On top of that, it's gluten free, nut free, and you could easily use lactose free milk in it too, or your favourite dairy-free substitutes.

Makes ten portions at 349 calories each.

Cherry Bakewell Flapjack Bars - Gluten Free

Delicious, moist, flapjacks with the flavours of a cherry bakewell tart!

Since my daughter had to go on a gluten free diet, we've tried a fair few sweet and savoury snacks - some quite tasty, some... well... let's just say we didn't try them more than once!

If you're gluten free, you're probably aware of how horrendously expensive gluten free products are, with even just the basics often costing in excess of four times their gluten-y equivalent! So, it makes sense to make your own food from scratch, where you can, as it makes the cost a lot more manageable. Even when buying gluten free oats from the supermarket costs four times more than normal oats, you're still making a huge saving on baking your own treats with them - just imagine how much more it costs to buy the finished baked goods gluten free!

Anyway, I digress. There was a nice Bakewell-style slice that my children both liked, and so I came up with a home-made alternative - which I have made using predominantly oats, with plenty of almonds so it's more filling, and a bit healthier than just a cakey slice on top of pastry - plus who wants to make pastry, right?!

Makes 40 bars at 169 calories each (or cut these in half to make mini squares for lunchboxes / treats at 84 calories each, so they're under the 100 calorie mark!) - although if you want to cook fewer / use a smaller tin, you can easily halve this quantity, and just cook for about ten minutes or so less.

Smoked mackerel pâté

A delicious pâté which is also great to use as a dip for crudités.

This has to be one of the tastiest fish pâtés! It's great for entertaining as a simple, prepare-ahead starter served with some home-made melba toast (see tips), or for dipping sticks of cucumber, peppers, carrot etc. as a healthy, low-carb snack - see bottom of tips for suggestions with calories: you can have a lovely selection of vegetables for one for less than 60 calories! 

If you want to lower the fat content, you can use lighter cream cheese and substitute the creme fraiche for Greek yoghurt.

This amount will serve four people as a light starter, or two gannets! (It will basically over-fill two decent sized ramekins - and one is perfect to share!)

Calories per portion: for a quarter portion this is 206 calories for the full fat version, or 138 calories if you're using lightest cream cheese (e.g. Philadelphia lightest) and 0% Greek yoghurt.

Saturday, 31 March 2018

Gluten Free Luxury Hot Cross Buns

Why not have a go at making your own gluten free hot cross buns?

It's actually not that difficult - and even easier making gluten free ones than making 'normal' wheat flour buns as there's no kneading involved. I adapted the ingredients from my sourdough hot cross buns recipe to get the same flavours from a gluten free mix this year and they're pretty tasty gluten free too!

I've included plenty of tips in the method to help you get the best (and least messy!) results, but feel free to do things like proving the buns your own way, if you'd rather cover them in oiled clingfilm and stick them in the airing cupboard, or whatever! 

The spices give the option to use the lower amount for more subtle spicing, or vice versa if you like a nicely spiced hot cross bun full of flavour. I hope you enjoy making and eating these buns - please leave me a comment below and let me know what you think!

Makes 8

Wednesday, 14 February 2018

Perfectly Gluten Free Pancakes or Crêpes

These delicious gluten free pancakes are completely indistinguishable from normal English pancakes or French Crepes!

Unbelievably, they were actually the best pancakes I've ever made - and I've been making them for many years. This year, I made them gluten free, as my daughter was diagnosed with Coeliac disease last year, and after a bit of tweaking, they were the most delicious, light, laciest pancakes I've ever made!

Well, having perfected them, it would be selfish not to share with other people cooking gluten free (and of course for my daughter, when she needs the recipe!), so here it is. I hope you love it as much as we did - I've never seen pancake mix disappear so quickly - and I actually had three rather than my usual one, which is a first!

Makes 6-8 pancakes, easily doubled for more.

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