Tuesday, July 19, 2011

Indian Red Lentil Soup- Dal

Whaaa! I can't believe that I haven't been able to find the time to post something for over a week. I am a bad bad blogger but things have been a bit hectic here. After several months of no movement on  relocating back to the UK it is suddenly all go and we should be back in London by the end of the month. This has meant much running around, organizing things, cleaning, packing and much list making (I do love a good list). I did however find time to make some lentil dal which is one of my favorite comfort foods. Although I normally cook this down to a thicker consistency and have it with rice or indian bread I decided to enjoy it the lighter way and eat it as a soup. Although there are quite a few ingredients you can omit some of the spices if you don't have them. I would say that your would need either onion, garlic or ginger along with yellow curry powder and cumin seeds but that everything else just adds to the dish.

I have to admit that I am not sure I will be posting much for a few weeks. I am intending on using as much of the food in my cupboards as possible before we leave and I not sure how inspiring that will be. We also don't have anywhere to live as such and will be relying on the kindness of friends and family for a while. I am looking forward to eating some good British food (and no that isn't a typo, we really have lifted our game in recent years). I am also thrilled  at the idea of not having to cooking in 30 degree/80F + heat and 80% humidity. So au revoir for a little while.

Monday, July 11, 2011

Raspberry & Almond Sponge Cake and other ideas for using up almond meal

This recipe is otherwise known as- what to do with all the almond meal that you have left over after making almond milk. This recipe is supposedly from a country living magazine but I cannot find the official recipe. This recipe was made for my mum by the owner of Huntinghall when my parents stayed in their eco-friendly self catering cottages and the recipe has since been passed around. If you ever need somewhere to stay in Northumberland you couldn't pick a better place. 

This recipe makes a kind of fluffy gluten free victoria sponge cake. The recipe is for a 20cm cake but I decided to make miniature versions. Unfortunately as you can see from the photos these did not turn out so well as they refused to come out of the muffin tins cleanly. I would recommend making this in a greased and lined cake tin instead or in individual muffin/cupcake cases.  I almost didn't post these cakes as they were decidedly unphotogenic but as they taste pretty good I thought I should show some love to they little uglies. As Eeyore says "Weeds are flowers too once you get to know them." The cake has a bad habit of sinking a little in the middle. If this happens don't despair just fill the dip with fresh fruit and no one will be any the wiser! If you want to make a larger cake for entertaining, double the ingredients, split between two 20cm cake tins and use the filling between the two cakes.

What else have I been using my almond meal for? Here are some ideas, some my own and some which I have found and linked to. The almond meal freezes well in sealed freezer bags and can be defrosted before use so there is no panic on using it up. If you are not freezing make sure to keep sealed and labeled in the refrigerator.  You can add a spoonful to smoothies, add to banana bread and cakes, use as a topping for baked pasta dishes instead of breadcrumbs, use in a gluten free bakewell tart, as a body or face scrub,  add it to curries such as this korma recipe, make into cereal or pancakes or use when making pesto. Hopefully this gives you some ideas as to what to do with all the fluffy goodness that get left after making almond milk.

Thursday, July 7, 2011

Almond Milk

So I have been trying different some different non dairy alternatives to milk and my latest experiment was to make almond milk. I had a look on the internet and there is a surprising amount of information on making all kinds of milk.  Now I have never tried commercially made almond milk so I cannot advise on whether this is similar in taste or texture but if it is anything like rice and soy milk then I suspect there will be a big difference in taste from brand to brand anyway.  

I picked a recipe from Ohnuts although I used almonds with the skin on and cut down a little on the water as my blender is a little weak and didn't pulverise the almonds as much as I had hoped. I tried the milk without any sweeteners and it tasted good enough for pouring on cereal but for drinking straight it was nicer to add the additional flavorings.  It tasted great and was smooth and creamy and not overtly almondy like marzipan, which I hate. For this recipe you need a blender, a sieve and a piece of cheese cloth or I used a cloth coffee strainer. That way you really do feel like you are milking the almonds. I am looking forward to using the milk in some recipes as well as trying to figure out what to do with the almond meal I have left over so watch this space. 

Tuesday, July 5, 2011

Nasi Goreng with Sweet and Sticky Tempeh - Indonesian Fried Rice

I love rice. I think that if I had to choose one starchy carbohydrate that I had to eat for the rest of my life it would be rice. Yes, I have given this some thought, I also know what my five vegetables would be. In fact if I ever end up speed dating I think this might one of my questions along with, "If you were a biscuit, what biscuit would you be?". I think you can tell a lot about someone by which biscuit they identify with (I would be a ginger nut). Anyway, back to the point. I have eaten nasi goreng often on our travels as if you can make yourself understood you can generally get someone to rustle up a vegetarian version even if they are incredulous that you don't want some shrimp or chicken thrown in. One of our first trips away was to Bali and I have fond memories of stopping to eat nasi goreng at a little shack on the way to the airport. It was in the middle of nowhere and surrounded by rice paddies.  Our lovely driver found it highly amusing that the spicy food on an empty stomach gave me instant hiccups (this is a seriously annoying trait my body has) and made J's nose run constantly. He laughed most of the way through the meal, all the while piling extra chillies on his plate!

Rice Paddies in Bali made for a memorable setting to eat spicy Nasi Goreng

Fried rice is one of my go to easy meals and if I am cooking rice I always, accidentally on purpose, make too much so I can throw together some fried rice for lunch. And this is the most important thing when making fried rice- always use at least day old cooked rice. Freshly cooked rice has too much water in it and so it goes mushy when you try to fry it. You can throw what ever veggies you like into the mix but I always make sure there is at least one representative from the onion family e.g leek, scallions or onion. Omit the egg if you want it to be vegan or throw in some cubed cooked chicken or shrimp if you like meat. I like this with sweet sticky tempeh, which I have also provided a recipe for.

Friday, July 1, 2011

Potato, Pea and Rosemary Soup

I love frozen peas. I regularly eat them straight from the freezer as a snack. Slightly weird, I know, but don't knock it until you try it. The thing that I really like about this soup is that it reminds me of a roast dinner but is a lighter and summery way to get these flavors. I picked rosemary as the herb for this purely because I had it in my fridge but you could use a handful of mint, add at the end of cooking for a fresher and zesty soup. This soup has only a subtle pea taste that adds a sweetness to the soup. If you would rather have a stronger pea taste then reduce the potatoes by 100g and replace with 150g peas.