Dessert, Snacks

Chocolate-dipped Cherries

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Just two ingredients … but they are two of my favorite ingredients!

Chocolate-dipped Cherries

200 g cherries (with stalks attached)

150 g dark cooking chocolate

Makes about 25 chocolate-dipped cherries.

Wash and dry the cherries, then place on a tray in the freezer for an hour or until you are ready to dip them.

Melt the chocolate in a small bowl over simmering water, stirring occasionally, until completely melted. Set aside to cool for a minute or two.

Dip the cherries one by one, then place on a tray or plate lined with parchment paper. Refrigerate until serving.

For a lighter version, only dip the cherries halfway.

 

 

 

 

 

Side dishes

Kimchi – Cauliflower “Fried Rice”

kimchi cauliflower rice

Last week I had a great time co-hosting a fermentation workshop with Katharine Locke. After a busy morning of chopping vegetables and filling jars, we all sat down to a lunch featuring a fermented food tasting along with my new favorite lunch dish, this kimchi-cauliflower “fried rice” adapted from a recipe in Gwyneth Paltrow’s new book, It’s All Easy.

Although it is not difficult to make kimchi at home (try this recipe if you want to give it a go), because I live near an excellent Korean supermarket I tend to buy kimchi in pouches rather than make my own. I do now know that the kimchi sold in pouches is well fermented, having lived through The Night Of The Exploding Kimchi.  But that’s a story for another time, maybe when I finish deep-cleaning my fridge.

And if you have never made cauliflower couscous (or rice), I would highly recommend that you try it. It is really tasty but low-carb and perfect for anyone on a grain-free diet.

Kimchi-Cauliflower “Fried Rice” (adapted from It’s All Easy by Gwyneth Paltrow)

1 small head of cauliflower, broken into small florets

100 g curly kale, cut or torn into small pieces and stems removed

2 tablespoons coconut oil

2 tablespoons water

2 tablespoons toasted sesame oil

3 tablespoons coconut aminos (or tamari soy sauce)

2 spring onions, thinly sliced

200 g chopped kimchi

1 small bunch of coriander leaves, chopped

1 tablespoon toasted sesame seeds

Serves 4 as a main course (lovely with a fried egg on top!) or 6-8 as a side.

Pulse the cauliflower florets in a food processor until they are broken down to the size of couscous.

Heat the coconut oil in a large pan over medium-high heat. Add the kale and saute for for 2 minutes, until it is starting to wilt. Add the cauliflower and the water and continue to saute for 5 minutes. Then cover the pan and reduce the heat to low for 5 minutes. Remove from heat and allow to cool.

Meanwhile, combine the remaining ingredients in a bowl. Add the cooled cauliflower-kale mixture and mix well. Garnish with sesame seeds and serve immediately.

Breakfast, Dips and spreads

Pear Butter

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I love the magic quality of this recipe, in which just one ingredient – pears – cook in a bit of water until they are completely transformed.  The result is a naturally sweet spread perfect for toast or pancakes, or stirred into some natural yogurt.  It is also a great way to use up any pears that are less than perfect or slightly past their prime.

This is good fun to make with children. They can chop the pears and stir the pot, and will be amazed at how cooking can completely change an ingredient.

Pear Butter

4 large pears or 6 medium (about 1.2 kg total)

200 ml water

Core and chop the pears, but do not peel them, and put in a pan with the water. Bring to the boil, then reduce to a simmer and cook until pears are tender, about 1 hour.

Once the pears have softened, remove the lid and continue cooking for another 2-3 hours, stirring from time to time, until the mixture is smooth and brown and there is no visible liquid. You will need to stir more frequently towards the end of cooking, to avoid scorching.

Cool to room temperature and blend in a food processor or blender until smooth. Transfer to a jar and refrigerate.

 

Breakfast, Dips and spreads

Blueberry Chia Jam

blueberrychiajam

Happy new year! I hope you all enjoyed the holidays and had a good break. To get started cooking in 2016, I am sharing a recipe that we will be making in my GAPS For Breakfast workshop next week. This workshop is now sold out – sorry! – but I will be holding it again in April 2016. Details of other upcoming workshops are in the sidebar or on my Events page.

Chia seeds are not only loaded with nutrients, but also very versatile in cooking. For those with an egg allergy, chia seeds can be used as an egg substitute. Chia seeds can be used to make a delicious gluten-free porridge. And here they are used to make a pan of runny fruit set into a jam, without the added sugar of traditional jam. Instead I have just added a touch of honey for sweetness. Chia jam is also incredibly quick to make compared to traditional jam, which is more of a “project”. I hope you enjoy it!

Blueberry Chia Jam

300 g fresh blueberries

2 tablespoons honey

2 tablespoons chia seeds

½ teaspoon vanilla extract (optional)

Yield – one small jam jar

Put the blueberries and honey in a pan and heat on the hob stirring frequently, until the blueberries have burst and the liquid is boiling. Reduce to a simmer and cook for 5 minutes, stirring constantly. Add the chia seeds and cook for another 10 minutes, continuing to stir.

When the jam has thickened, take off the heat and stir in the vanilla extract. Taste and add more honey if necessary. Cool to room temperature, then transfer to a jar and refrigerate. Keeps for up to one week.

 

Side dishes

Autumn Slaw with Honey-Ginger Dressing

slaw

The children have only just gone back to school but already it feels like winter is on its way. It has been rainy with grey skies these past few days, and there are already flus and coughs and colds going around. This crunchy Asian-inspired slaw is a wonderful source of immune-boosting antioxidants and vitamin C, but is also a riot of bright and zingy flavors and colors – just the thing to ward away the germs and cheer up a dreary evening.

We had this slaw last night with pulled pork wraps, a family favorite. But just add some leftover roast chicken or poached salmon, and you have a main course salad. It is also a great lunchbox option, as the flavors actually improve from resting for a couple of hours (but check whether your school’s allergy policy allows sesame seeds).

The inspiration for this recipe came from Jenny Rosentrach’s Dinner: The Playbook. In her “30 day plan for mastering the art of the family meal”, Jenny sets out a foolproof plan for getting family dinners on the table every night. Although not that many recipes in the book are allergy-friendly, it’s a good read if you struggle to get organized at dinner-time or just need to shake things up in your dinner rotation. Jenny also blogs at Dinner: A Love Story.

Autumn Slaw with Honey-Ginger Dressing

For the dressing:

1 thumb-sized piece of fresh ginger, peeled and grated

1 tablespoon lime juice

1 tablespoon white wine vinegar (or rice vinegar if you are not on GAPS)

1 tablespoon fish sauce (look for a sugar-free version if you are on GAPS, such as Vietnamese Phu Quoc Fish Sauce)

1 tablespoon olive oil

1 tablespoon toasted sesame oil

2 teaspoons honey

For the salad:

1/2 head of red cabbage, finely shedded (I use my Oxo Mandoline slicer for this)

3 medium carrots, cut into matchsticks

25 g baby spinach (a small handful), stems removed and finely shredded

10 snow peas, strings removed and sliced on the diagonal

1 tablespoon black sesame seeds

1 tablespoon coriander leaves, chopped

Serves 4-6 as a side dish.

Combine the dressing ingredients in a large salad bowl and whisk well. Taste and adjust seasoning if necessary (I find I don’t usually need to add salt as the fish sauce is salty).

Add the salad ingredients and toss. Serve immediately or chill for up to 6 hours.

Jenny Rosenstrach’s tip: “If you are afraid your kids won’t touch it, separate out the elements you are sure they will like and reserve some dressing for them as a dip”. Sounds sensible to me!

Snacks

Mushroom chips

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I love popping into my local Japanese supermarket and coming out with a complete impulse purchase. This week it was these very elegant yet substantial-looking mushrooms, labelled “Eringi”.

mushroomswhole

When I got home and googled Eringi, I realized these were the elusive King Oyster mushrooms (pleurotus eryngii) I had been looking for to make a recipe that caught my eye on the Nom Nom Paleo blog. Result!

After just a few minutes of prep using a mandoline, these went in the oven to cook until crispy. The finished chips deliver a very intense umami flavor. My mushroom-loving daughter was delighted with the chips, and I can confirm they made an unusual but delicious aperitif snack with a glass of wine.

mushroomchips2

Mushroom chips (adapted from a Nom Nom Paleo recipe)

2 king oyster mushrooms (about 200g) – or any other large mushroom such as portobello

1 tablespoon ghee, melted – or the cooking oil/fat of your choice

salt and pepper

Serves 2-4 as a light snack

Preheat your oven to to 150°C/300°F/gas mark 2. Line a baking sheet with parchment paper.

Clean the mushrooms with a damp paper towel and dry carefully. Cut each mushroom in half lengthwise, then slice lengthwise using a mandoline on the thinnest setting.

Place the mushroom slices on the baking sheet in a single layer. Brush lightly with the melted ghee, and season lightly with salt and pepper.

The chips will need about 60 minutes in the oven, but start checking after 45 minutes. When done, the chips should be completely crispy – there were a few slightly soft chips that I had to put back in the oven for 10 minutes.

Carefully remove from the baking sheet and blot on some paper towel, then serve immediately.

Dessert

Chocolate mousse

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Before 2014 draws to a close,  I wanted to take this opportunity to thank all of you for following me here, as well as on Facebook, Twitter and Pinterest.

In 2015 I am planning to post more healthy breakfast and snack ideas. I am also developing some bread recipes, both GFCF and GAPS, which I hope be able to have ready for you soon. And I would like to cook more desserts that are free of gluten, dairy and refined sugar – so watch this space.

In the meantime, with no apologies, here is a chocoholic’s dream of a recipe for dairy-free chocolate mousse. Enjoy!

Chocolate mousse

300 g dark chocolate (I use Green & Black’s cooking chocolate)

40 g cocoa powder (again, I use Green & Black’s)

80 ml hot water

2 egg yolks

6 egg whites

200 g caster sugar

Serves 8

Break the chocolate into squares and melt in a bowl over a pan of hot water, on the hob.

Mix the hot water and the cocoa powder to form a thick paste. Combine with the melted chocolate and egg yolks and mix well. Set aside to cool.

Whip the egg whites, gradually adding the sugar.

Add a third of the egg whites into the chocolate batter, mixing well, then fold in the rest carefully.

Put the mixture into a large bowl or eight small bowls, glasses or ramekins.

Refrigerate for at least 4 hours before serving.