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Category Archives: Vegetarian

Flowerpot Soda Bread

Irish soda bread – the quick and easy bread you can make and eat in a matter of an hour. Which is exactly what I do on weekend mornings when I want freshly baked bread to go with my morning coffee!

My version has a spoonful of treacle to give it a malty flavour, alhtough it’s still quite a plain bread. You can zhush it up into a sweeter, more fancy bread by adding dried fruit – I like adding cranberries or sour cherries.

And baking soda bread in individual flowerpots is fantastic for making great little individual loaves. I love serving winter warming stews and casseroles with baby flowerpot loaves. Very rustic!

Of course, if you don’t have (clean) flowerpots on hand, you could just as easily make these loaves in muffins molds or even as free form loaves.

Here is the recipe for treacle flowerpot loaves and the fruity flowerpot variation.

Ingredients
340g plain flour
½ tsp salt
½ -1 tsp bicarbonate of soda
1 tbls black treacle
290mls buttermilk

For fruity flowerpots, add a couple of good handfuls or to taste, of dried fruit. For my bake, I made half  plain loaves, half fruity.

Method
Preheat the oven to 200 degrees C. Lightly spray terracotta flower pots with cooking spray. Put a little flour into each pot, shaking the pot to make sure the flour coats the inside of the pot. Shake out any excess. You don’t need to be too precise – the main thing is to roughly coat the flower pot to allow easy removal of the loaf once baked.

Place flour, salt and bicarbonate of soda into a large mixing bowl and stir. Add the treacle to the buttermilk, stirring it well.

Make a well in the centre of the mixture, and pour in the buttermilk/treacle mixture, mixing quickly to form a soft dough. (Depending upon the absorbency of the flour, you may need to add a little milk if the dough seems too stiff but it should not be too wet or sticky.) Add the dried fruit if using.

Mix well, then turn onto a lightly floured surface and knead very briefly. You can even skip the kneading and pile the mix straight into the pots.

Put handfuls of the dough into the pots, filing to about 3/4 full, to allow for the bread to rise. Place the pots on a baking sheet.

Bake for about 20 minutes or until the loaves are risen and deep brown. Leave to cool for 10 minutes before removing from the flowerpots. The way to do this is to gently run a knife round the edge of the bread in the pot to loosen it, then turn out.

Serve with lashings of butter and nice jam. Here’s the link to my cumquat jam and other preserves, that I love with soda bread.

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Cherry Tomato Tart

This is more a throw together than a recipe. The sort of thing you can whip up when you need a super quick lunch or supper dish!

Store-bought puff pastry tart base, some caramelized onion for the base, then topped with goats’ cheese, cherry tomatoes and a scattering of fresh herbs. I made mine in a rectangular flan tin, but a round one would do as well. You might have to adjust the quantities.

Ingredients

1 quantity store-bough puff pastry ( I used 2 sheets from a 3 sheet pack of Pampas Butter Puff Pastry)

1 red onion, chopped

1 teaspoon butter

1 teaspoon brown sugar

Goats’ cheese – or similar crumbly soft cheese. You will crumble this into the tart, so quantities are flexible, about 100gm should be enough

15-20 cherry tomatoes, or more if you want to pack them in, on the vine

Fresh thyme leaves for scattering

Sea salt and ground black pepper

Method

Preheat the oven to 200 degrees C. Butter a rectangular flan tin (or a round one), and fit with the puff pastry sheets which you have cut to shape.

Fry the red onion in the butter in a small frying pan over a low to medium heat, until the onion begins to soften. Add the brown sugar to caramelize the onion and cook for a further couple of minutes.

Lay the caramelized onion onto the pastry base. Crumble the goats’ cheese into the tart. Cut some of the cherry tomatoes in half and place on top of the goats’ cheese, place a few whole ones on, too for effect.  Scatter a few fresh thyme leaves over the tomatoes with sea salt and black pepper.

Bake in the preheated oven for about 20 minutes or until the puff pastry is nicely browned, the cheese melted and the tomatoes softened. Nice served with a green salad.

 

 

 

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Jamie Oliver’s Butternut Squash Mac ‘n’ Cheese

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This variation on traditional Mac ‘n’ Cheese is from Jamie’s Super Food family Classics. It’s a lighter version of the dish and is full of tasty veg in the form of butternut squash (pumpkin), so it’s very healthy!

I have included Jamie’s recipe with only some slight tweakings here. I made the recipe without the crumbs and popped beans topping, adding a few seeds and basil leaves as garnish.

The photos I took are of a HALF quantity – which was a pretty gernerous dish. The recipe below is for the FULL quantity.

Ingredients

l leek

1 onion

olive oil

1 butternut squash

1 heaped tbls plain wholemeal flour

500ml semi-skimmed milk

450g dried macaroni

2 tsp English mustard

300g cottage cheese 40g Parmesan cheese

For the topping

1x 400g tin of cannellini beans

2 cloves of garlic

1 tsp dried red chilli flakes

2 sprigs of fresh rosemary

1 slice of wholemeal bread

My topping

A handful of toasted seeds (pepitas, linseed, sesame or what ever you have in the store cupboard).

Basil leaves

Method

Wash and trim the leek, peel the onion, then finely chop and place in a pan on a medium heat with 1tablespoon of oil. Cook and stir while you carefully halve the squash lengthways and deseed, reserving the seedy core. Chop the squash into 2cm chunks, leaving the skin on, and stir into the pan. Cook for 10 minutes, then stir in the flour, followed by the milk and 500ml of water. Simmer with a lid ajar for 35 minutes, or until the squash is cooked through, stirring occasionally.

Meanwhile, preheat the oven to 180°C. Parboil the macaroni in a large pan of boiling salted water for 5 minutes, then drain and tip back into the pan. Carefully pour the contents of the veg pan into a food processor and blitz until smooth (working in batches, if necessary) to make your sauce. Taste and season to perfection, then pour over the pasta, add the mustard and cottage cheese, finely grate over most of the Parmesan and mix well. Transfer to a high-sided baking dish (30cm x 40cm), then grate over the remaining Parmesan. Bake for around 40 minutes, or until golden and bubbling.

For Jamie’s crumbs and popped beans:

With 15 minutes to go, drain the beans, then toast and dry fry them in a large frying pan on a medium-high heat for 5 minutes, or until popped, shaking occasionally. Peel the garlic and put in the processor with the chilli  flakes, seedy squash  core,  rosemary  leaves  and  bread  and  blitz  into  crumbs.  Add to the beans, then toast and toss until crisp and gnarly. Serve the pasta with the toasted beans and crumbs on the side. Good with a lemon-dressed salad.

For my topping:

Serve with a handful of toasted seeds scattered on top and a few basil leaves.

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Roasted Sweet Potatoes, Black Beans and Jalapeño Tomato Salsa: Everyday Super Food

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Another simple, tasty and healthy recipe from Jamie Oliver’s book Everyday Super Food. The dish is more of an assembly than a complicated cooking procedure. If you can bake sweet potato, fry beans, cook rice, and make a salsa you have this dish covered!

My decided to cook the black beans instead of using tinned beans. Probably a mistake – soaking and cooking took so much time!  The rest was easy peasy, and the dish looked as tasty as it was.

Ingredients

2 x 200g sweet potatoes

100g brown rice

250g mixed colour tomatoes

2 spring onions

1 x 200g jar jalopeños

1/2 bunch coriander

1 red onion

olive oil

1 level tsp cumin seeds

1 x400g tin black beans

2 heaped tsps cottage cheese

Method

Preheat oven to 180 degrees C. Wash the sweet potatoes, then season and roast for 1 hour or until cooked through. After 30 minutes, cook the rice according to packet instructions or your favourite method, then drain. Roughly drop the tomatoes, finely slice the spring onions and place both in a bowl. Tip the jalopeños and their liquid into a blender or food processor putting in most of the coriander, reserving some leaves for decoration. Blitz until smooth, then return the mixture to the jar, using 2 tablespoons to dress the tomatoes and spring onions. The remaining dressing can be used for other meals.

Peel and finely slice the onion. Put a pan on medium heat on the stove top with 1 teaspoon of oil and the cumin seeds. Fry for 30 seconds then stir in the onion and a splash of water. Cook and stir for 8 minutes, or until the onion is softened, then add the beans and all their juice. Reduce the heat and cook for a further 5 minutes or until thick and oozy, stirring occasionally. Taste and season, loosening with splash or two of boiling water if needed.

Divide the beans, rice and tomato salsa between plates. Split open the sweet potatoes and add one to each plate. Spoon over the cottage cheese, season with black pepper and finish with the reserved coriander leaves.

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Gluten Free Banana Bread

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In pursuit of more healthy options in my cooking, I couldn’t go past this recipe for banana bread from the Hemsley sisters. Jasmine and Melissa Hemsley have a great TV program called Hemsley +Hemsley: Healthy and Delicious where they cook food that is natural and nutritious – grain, gluten and refined sugar free. A recent episode featured banana bread made with coconut flour and coconut oil. It does have 3 eggs, but hey – this bread makes 12 slices easy so that’s only 1/4 of an egg per slice!

Here is my version with a few tweaks that I like. You could really add anything you like – nuts or seeds would be great, and honey would be a great sweetener too.  The treacle in my version gave a lovely, malty flavour and rich dark colour. And it’s a throw-in-the-food-processor recipe so it takes no time to mix!

One more thing – it keeps forever! It doesn’t dry out, and keeps really moist.

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Ingredients

350g or 3 medium size bananas, mashed

60g  coconut flour

1 /2 tbs cinnamon

1 pinch salt

3 free-range eggs

50g coconut oil, melted

1 tsp vanilla extract

1.5 tsp bi-carbonate of soda

1 tbs apple cider vineagr

1/2 tbs treacle

1/2 tbs golden syrup

Method

Preheat oven to 180 degrees C.  Line a loaf tin with baking paper.

Put all the ingredients (except the golden syrup) into a food processor and whizz until smooth.  Spoon into the prepared tin. Drizzle over the golden syrup onto the top of the mixture.

Bake for 50 minutes. Cool on a wire rack completely before turning out of the tin.

I served my banana bread with cashew butter and fresh figs. The bread is quite sweet, so the cashew butter works well. Peanut, or any nut butter would be fine.

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Jamie Oliver’s Super Squash Lasagne

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I am cooking lots more healthy recipes these days, trying to cut down on the “bad” things in my diet. I am also interested in vegan recipes, as I sometimes cook for a vegan work colleague. Similarly I often make gluten-free recipes as increasingly friends are suffering gluten intolerance. The passionate baker in me finds that a little daunting at times!

This recipe for a meat-free, low-fat lasagne, is dedicated to Quirky Sister No 1. She is recovering from major surgery and is learning to adjust to some dietary restrictions. She’s doing very well!

This is another recipe from Jamie Oliver’s book Everyday Super Food. I really appreciate Jamie’s approach to healthy and delicious eating. While all the recipes are carefully written to be nutritious, there’s still that lovely attention to how food tastes and looks. We eat with our eyes so food has to look good to make us want to tuck in! It’s a simple butternut pumpkin lasagne. In Australia we call butternut squash pumpkin. Squash or pumpkin, this vegetable goes well roasted in slices, in the lasagne. It’s also a source of vitamin A according to Jamie. He has baby spinach in the lasagne too, great for iron.

I am including Jamie’s recipe from his excellent book, with a few variations, as in the lasagne pictured: I used ordinary lasagne sheets, not wholewheat, as I prefer the former. I also used half the amount of baby spinach, as that’s all I had on the day I cooked. Half the quantity was plenty! I left off a sunflower seed topping.

I love the classic combination of pumpkin and sage, and  added a scattering of sage leaves to each layer. It worked really well, giving a nice depth of flavour to the pumpkin. I substituted sage leaves on the top of the lasagne, too, for the rosemary sprigs Jamie mentions.

Ingredients

olive oil

1  large butternut squash (1.5kg)

1 level tsp ground coriander

4 cloves garlic

1 fresh red chilli

2 tbs balsamic vinegar

2 x 400g tins of plum tomatoes

200g baby spinach

a handful of fresh sage leaves, plus a few more for the top

60g Parmesan cheese

250g dried wholewheat lasagne sheets

400g fat-free cottage cheese

100ml semi-skimmed milk

Method

Preheat the oven to 180 degrees C and rub 2 large roasting trays with a little olive oil. Carefully  halve and deseed the squash, leaving the skin on, then slice into ½-inch half moon shapes.
Lay in a single layer across the trays. Sprinkle over the ground coriander, and a pinch of sea salt  and black pepper, then roast for 50 minutes, or until soft and lightly golden.
Meanwhile, peel the garlic and deseed the chili, then finely slice both and place in a large pan on a medium-high heat with about 1 tablespoon of oil. Cook for 3 minutes, or until golden, then add the balsamic and tinned tomatoes, breaking them up as you go, and 1 tin’s worth of water. Simmer on a medium heat for  15 to 20 minutes until slightly thickened, or until slightly thickened, then season to perfection. ( I found that the tomatoes needed a good 30 minutes to reduce down).
To layer up, spread a third of the tomato sauce across the base of a 25cm x 30cm baking dish. Cover with a layer of raw spinach leaves and a few sage leaves, a layer of roasted squash,  a fine grating of Parmesan and a layer of lasagne sheets. Repeat the layers twice more, finishing with  lasagne sheets.
Loosen the cottage cheese with the milk, mashing the curds a little, then lightly season and spoon over the top. Finley grate over the remaining Parmesan. Rob the remaining sage leaves with oil, then place on top of the lasagne.
Bake at the bottom of your oven for 45 minutes, or until golden and bubbling, then serve.
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Ciabatta James Morton Style

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Ciabatta is that lovely bread distinguished by all those holes! It’s light and flavoursome, keeps well and is also amazing toasted or made into bruschetta. In need of  a reliable recipe, I consulted James Morton in his great book Brilliant Bread for how to make this bread.

I was making ciabatta for the first time this week. I had friends over for dinner to celebrate the arrival of a shearers’ table which has been sojourning in the Southern Highlands for too long. I had hot-smoked a side of salmon and wanted some nice bread to serve it with. I ended up serving it with dill pickles, creme fraiche, focaccia and the ciabatta loaves. Here’s a photo of the hot-smoked salmon. For the recipe on how to hot smoke, check the recipe from my post on hot-smoking.

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Ciabatta can be tricky to make as the dough is very wet and hard to handle, so be prepared for this. James suggests using the paddle attachment of an electric mixer, which makes the kneading easier.

I discovered that James has a simpler recipe online. It looks good, and I am keen try his “pared down” version.  See James’ simple ciabatta here.

But here is the recipe from James’ book Brilliant Bread that I have made successfully.

Ingredients

300g strong white flour
100g plain flour
7g instant yeast
10g salt
200g sourdough starter
350g tepid water
Semolina, for dusting

Method

Into the bowl of your electric mixer (I used my KitchenAid), rub the flours, yeast and salt, keeping the yeast and salt on separate sides of the bowl.  Add the starter and water and form into a extremely wet dough.

I followed James’ instructions for the electric mixer, here, although you could knead by hand for 10-15 minutes. Beat the dough with the paddle attachment of the mixer until it comes away from the sides and easily passes the windowpane test.

Cover your bowl with cling film (I use a shower cap) and leave to prove. This can be 2 hour room temperature prove or leave for 10-12 hours in the fridge. The dough should have at least doubled in size.

Turn the dough out on to a heavily floured surface. Using floured hands, fold the dough in half so both the top and bottom are both floured. Move it around a little to make sure the bottom is totally coated, and add more flour to the top. Flatten very gently into a  rough rectangle, then cut into 4 strips, being very careful not to deflate the dough and lose those bubbles which will be your holes!

Gently transfer each strip onto a heavily floured tea towel. As you move them, stretch them out until they are long and “slipper-like”. The loaves don’t need to be exact they are after all rustic loaves. Leave to prove on the tea towel for about 1 hour, or until wobbly and noticeably increased in size.

About 40 minutes before you bake, preheat your baking surface in the oven set at  240 degrees C or 220 degrees C fan forced.

Turn the ciabattas (be very gentle) on to a board dusted with semolina, so what was the bottom is now the top – this helps to redistribute the bubbles for a better crumb. Slide the loaves on to the hot baking surface and throw 1/4 cup of water on to the sides of the oven.  Bake for 15-20 minutes, until golden brown. (I think I could have baked my loaves a little longer – they were not brown enough).

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