Thursday, June 30, 2011

The Cupboard Was Bare Balsamic Pasta

Everybody needs an emergency go to dish when you find that there is no fresh food in the house and you are hungry as hell. The lack of provisions may be the result of a hectic work life or a frenetic social life. Or, like me you may not have been able to face slogging around the supermarket with a blank look on your face as you desperately seek inspiration for dinner.

This is my go to dish calling for only an onion as its fresh vegetable, and there is always one of those lurking around at the bottom of the fridge- right? Ok, so this isn't going to help toward your five a day but it will fill a hungry tummy in about 10-15 minutes. You can throw in whatever veggies (e.g. frozen peas or spinach) you have or a slice of bacon or ham (real or fake) or some cheese to jazz this up.

In relation to balsamic vinegar, for those of you that are gluten free, from what I have read, if it is good quality vinegar with no other ingredients e.g caramel coloring derived from a gluten source is safe for celiacs and those that cannot tolerate gluten (University Chicago Celiac Disease Center). Check the label before you use but generally most distilled vinegars are safe, apart from malt vinegar which is not gluten free. 

Monday, June 27, 2011

Coconut Pot de Creme with Caramel Bananas

Can you call this dish a pot de creme if it is dairy free? I am not sure either but to honest the lack of cream really doesn't make this any less rich and creamy and can be served with any manner of tropical fruits including caramelized bananas. The caramelized bananas are great on there own as well so this is really two decadent dessert recipes for the price of one!

As you can see I had a little go at sugar craft for the photos as I really wanted to try making spun sugar. Alas, it all went a little wrong, culminating in a pan of hot sugar falling off the stove and splattering around the whole kitchen. Luckily I was over the other side of the kitchen when it happened so thankfully I have no sugar burns. I fear though that I am going to find sticky patches around the kitchen for a while to come. In the end I took the easy option and drizzled molten sugar over parchment paper and allowed to cool in the fridge. Super simple and looks pretty good as well. When I tried to take the photos of this dish I learnt a new fact for the day. Caramel does not like 80% humidity or contact with saucy desserts (crazy caramel!) and quickly started to melt, giving me only a couple of minutes to set up the shot and snap away. So if you wanted to make this dish for entertaining and want to include the sugar swirls then assemble at the last moment. If you want to have a go at the sugar work try the cooking4chumps website.

Saturday, June 25, 2011

Huevos Rancheros- Egg with Beans in Tomato Sauce

This used to be a favorite brunch of ours back in the UK. It is filling and relatively healthy and I loved this with potato waffles on the side. However, I haven't had a potato waffle in over 18 months, booo! If you have never had a potato waffle then they are basically mashed potato formed into a waffle lattice shape and deep fried. They are, as the advert says, wafflly versatile and we would often have them with baked beans, embarassingly British, I know. In lieu of potato waffles I used tortillas, much more authentic as I am sure you will agree. There are some gluten free corn tortillas brands around including Mission and Discovery, although a lot of corn tortillas have some wheat flour in, so be sure to check the label.

Sunday, June 19, 2011

Lemon & Blueberry Almond Slice

What do you do when you find you have arrived at the airport 24hrs too soon to pick up your guest and you just baked a cake that morning for the occasion. This is the situation that I found myself in on Tuesday, muppet that I am, but better then 24hrs too late, hey? Anyway with this dessert cake there was no need to worry that it wouldn't still be great a couple of days later. It is rich and dense and moist and will keep for days without drying out (I have been keeping mine in the fridge and it is still ok).  I am not sure if my recipe should really be described as a cake as it is more suited to a pudding. It only uses eggs as a raising agent and so really isn't light and fluffy like a cake. Serve warm or cold with yoghurt if you can have dairy otherwise try it with summer fruits such as fresh blueberries, raspberries or strawberries.

Tuesday, June 14, 2011

Breakfast Polenta

The name says it all really. I had been enjoying fried hash potatoes with eggs for brunch over the last week, as I rarely feel like eating as soon as I get up and have taken to combining two meals in one. On Sunday morning though, I found we were out of potatoes plus I rarely have bread in the house so toast was off the menu. But whilst I was rummaging around in the cupboard I came across some polenta that I had left over from the orange & cardamon cake I made a while back. Hence this breakfast polenta recipe came about. For something that happened accidentally this dish is a keeper. I am planning on adding some spinach next time and serving it with some asparagus and a runny poached egg- yum! I will also have to give a sweet version a try, may be with honey, almond and apricot.

Monday, June 13, 2011

Watermelon, Ginger & Mint Granita

I have to admit that, until I came to Singapore,  I really couldn't be bothered with watermelons. I thought they were watery with a one dimensional taste compared to other varieties such as honeydew. But now, having quaffed many a refreshing watermelon juice from hawker centers across the island I have to say that watermelon has become a favorite. I am not sure whether the watermelons in the UK are just not that fresh or ripe or whether, more likely, that the weather almost never gets hot enough to fully appreciate its cooling properties! 
This recipe came about as an after tennis cooler that doesn't undo all the good exercise karma. I have been learning to play tennis with the help of J and I actually seem to be getting better. I had always thought that my lack of hand-eye coordination meant that I could never really play racket sports, but I was wrong, yay! I loved some sports in school but have bad memories of spending more time running around trying to catch the ball that I had whacked out of the court or missed during tennis coaching, than actually hitting the ball back. This tennis experience has really opened my eyes to the possibility that just because I struggled with somethings as a kid, doesn't mean that I will always be bad at it! Take languages, I have always described myself as linguistically challenged, but what if I just need a different way of learning. I mean I have accidentally picked up a few bits and pieces of Malay (admittedly mainly in relation to food), so why not try to learn a language from scratch? So ciao for now.

Thursday, June 9, 2011

Fresh Raw Corn Milk

Whilst wandering around the streets of Hanoi over the weekend we stumbled across a fresh corn milk stand. This piqued my interest as I have been looking into making a variety of dairy free milks but I had never thought of using corn to make milk. In hindsight, corn seems the most obvious grain to use, it even oozes a milky liquid when you cut it, but I am not sure I would ever have made the leap unless I had seen this stall. I made this milk using raw kernels as I figured it would have more vitamins that way but I am sure you can used cooked corn although the taste will be slightly different. I am planning to try with cooked corn just to see which flavor I prefer. I added a little brown sugar and a dash of cinnamon and ginger to my milk and it made for a quite refreshing drink.

Wednesday, June 8, 2011

Vegetarian Kimchi Fried Rice

Having just come back from an enjoyable long weekend away in Hanoi and Halong Bay I was  excited about trying to make some classic Vietnamese dishes suitable for vegetarians and if they were good enough, posting them on this blog. But... I have a cold and the my brain is a little befuddled, I didn't even manage to get around the supermarket without forgetting where I left my basket so trying new recipes was off the cards. Instead I made Kimchi fried rice, my go to dish when I have a cold. Kimchi, fermented vegetables in chilli and garlic, is often claimed to have health benefits and boost the immune system and I always try to have some when I have a cold along with a bowl of miso soup. Not sure if it works but if nothing else this dish is tasty for your jaded, cold suppressed taste buds and is very easy to make.  I like mine topped with a fried egg but vegans can omit and if they want some additional protein can use cubed tofu in with the vegetables. Minced pork, waxed sausages or prawns are traditionally added to this dish so meat eaters can throw a handful of meat in as well.  All I need now is to cosy up on the sofa and watch a few Korean soap operas.

Thursday, June 2, 2011

Vegan Spiced Pumpkin 'Ice Cream'

I had been planning on making a dairy free pumpkin cheese cake but when it cam down to it I just plain fancied ice cream. The idea of a low guilt ice cream was one that I couldn't resist. I have tried the one ingredient banana ice cream which was doing the rounds a while back and it really is difficult to believe that it just takes some blended frozen bananas to make something so rich. The step by step instructions, with pictures, to make banana ice cream on the are awesome and I recommend you have a look if you have never made one ingredient ice cream before. I took this recipe one step further and added homemade spiced pumpkin puree instead of the peanut butter that I normally add.

Wednesday, June 1, 2011

Dairy Free- Indian Style Rice Pudding- Kheer

This recipe came about as I had been attempting to make rice milk and ended up with a big pile of partly blended, soupy cooked rice. I was wondering what on earth to do with all this. First off I used a small amount of it as congee for breakfast but that still left a fair bit left sat in the fridge. I decided to try to make a creamy Indian style dessert as J loves these even though they are often dairy based which he cannot eat. I used coconut cream to add richness and flavoured it with cardamon and cinnamon. I topped it with sultanas and chopped nuts and served cold.