Puffed Leek, Trout and Pecorino Pastry

  

This is probably one of my favorite dish that a friend introduced me to a little while back.  Although it is not gluten free or dairy free, I can assure you that, once in a while, this dish deserves the indulgence and sacrifice.  For some of you, if gluten is an issue, replace it with gluten free puffed pastry which is available at health food stores and now can be found in Coles (an Australian major supermarket).  Be mindful that ready made gluten free products are not often the healthiest. 

I opted for butter puffed pastry as I believe in using natural fats rather than the low fat or vegetable oil base pastry.  Reason is, most of the low fat puffed pastry or oil base pastry sheets uses cheap processed oil or Palm oil (a big no no in my books).  So, since I don’t indulge in using butter very often, when I do eat baking goods, I opt for the real stuff – butter!

 

Recipe

1 tsp coconut oil
1 leek 
3 cloves garlic
1/2 lemon – juice
1/4 cup grated Pecorino Romano cheese
Dash of salt and pepper 
1 sheet of puffed pastry (butter if possible or look for gluten free)
250g Trout Fillet 

Preheat oven at 180 degrees Celsius.  Heat oil and sauté leek and garlic until slightly brown.  Add lemon juice, salt and pepper.  Stir to mix. Sprinkle cheese over the top and turn off heat to allow cheese to slowly melt.  Set aside.  Place trout fillet onto pastry sheet diagonally near the top half (this is such that you can fold pastry over the fish into a triangle).  Spoon the topping onto the fish and then fold the bottom corner of the sheet to meet top corner into a triangle.   Seal around the sides by either making small folds or press down along the sides with a fork.   It is really up to you how you want to wrap the fish.  Place on a baking sheet lined with baking paper. Bake for 30 minutes or until pastry is slightly brown.  Enjoy and serve with a salad. 

Tell me what you think and please share with your friends.  

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Natural Anti-Inflammatory – Turmeric and Honey Tea

TurmericTeaActivities around the kitchen in our household has been reduced to a series of home remedies and warm winter soups, as both my daughters and my husband has been hit with a serious case of FLU in the past 2 weeks. As usual, being run down, working, nursing the sick and at the same time preparing for my very first long distance race of 45km coming up this weekend, I am now dealing with the initial phase of the usual symptoms. So, to make sure I kick this thing off as quickly as I can, I’ve prepared a pot of turmeric and honey tea to reduce inflammations in my body. I’ll be drinking this along with warm water for the rest of the day.
Many experts now see inflammation as arising from an immune system response that’s out of control. See this great article to learn more.

http://bit.ly/1dO5F3O

A great read I promise! It will help you understand how you can potentially avoid getting sick or being really sick this season.

Below is a quick simple recipe for the turmeric and honey tea.

1 tbls of turmeric powder (fresh is best but is ok if not)
1 tsp raw honey ( raw is best as it retains more antibacterial property)
Depending on how strong you can handle the tea, just mix boiling water in a teapot. At least 3 cups of water.

Remember to Stay healthy not only by eating healthily but also reduce stress during this winter season.

Gluten Free Banana, Raspberry and Chocolate Chip Muffin

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As a result of my usual ritual of making almond milk, I made muffins this morning using the almond meal that was left afterwards. The only difference is, I didn’t follow any recipe but thought I’ll just experiment with whatever I have. I included the recipe below, but keep in mind, is all an estimate but close enough to set you in the right direction. Hope you’ll Enjoy! Tell me what you think.

Insights:

The great thing about GF baking is that you never really have to worry about over stirring as there are no gluten; which usually becomes stiffer or heavier the more you mix the batter. Also, the base ingredients are quite straight forward – GF Flour (almond meal, rice flour, chickpea flour, millet), raising agent (baking soda or baking powder), wet ingredients that binds (eggs, banana, dairy free milk, oil) and finally a sweetener. 

Recipe:

‘Gluten Free Banana, Raspberry and Chocolate Chip Muffin’

Ingredients:
1 large Banana (mash)
3 eggs
1/3 cup coconut oil (melted) or grape seed oil
2.5 cups almond meal
3/4 tsp baking soda
1/3 cup Rice malt syrup
Sprinkle salt
Some dairy free milk set aside to add to mixture if too dry (approximate 1/2 to 1 cup)
Handful of chocolate chips (dairy free)
Handful of frozen or fresh raspberries

Mix all the ingredients in the order above except the milk, chocolate chips and raspberries. Mix well and then slowly add small amount of milk until you reach the consistency of a cake mix.  Stir in chocolate chips and raspberry. Portion into muffin tins and bake at 180 Celsius for half hour to 45 minute. Check every 15 minutes.

Enjoy. Experiment. Have fun!

Note: My mixture was more wet and could be due to the homemade meal being too moist.

Prawns and Swiss Chards Stir Fry

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Prawns and Swish Chard stir fry served over a bed of buckwheat pasta

Using various seafoods as your main ingredients will give you a simple and quick dinner.   I usually turn to either fish or prawns when I need to whip up a quick meal that is still healthy and tasty.  Make sure you choose locally wild caught fish or prawns whenever possible.

Gardening Tips:

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If you would like to give your green thumb a go, easiest vegetables that will grow all season in Australia are Silverbeets and Swiss Chards. They are colourful, full of nutrients and versatile to be added to any cooking. Feel free to send me a message if you would like to know more.

 

Recipe:

3 cups of Swiss chards (chunks)
500g prawns (Australian wild caught if possible)
1 tbsp Coconut oil
2 cloves chopped Garlic
2 inches of chopped ginger
2 tbsp Tamari sauce
Half a lemon (juice)
Salt and pepper to taste
2 tbsp of rice malt syrup Or Oyster sauce (optional and choose gluten free, MSG free)

Cook buckwheat pasta, drain and set aside. Using a wok or a frying pan, brown ginger in cocnut oil over medium heat. Add prawns to cook for a few minutes until it is slightly pink but not completely cooked.  Then add Swiss Chards to cook for a few more minutes.  Finally, add the rest of the ingredients and give it a quick stir. Taste to see if you’ve achieved the balance of sweet, sour and salty.  Adjust if necessary.  Serve and enjoy.

 

Grated Ginger, Lemon and Honey Tea

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‘Blessings In Disguise’

As much as I dreaded seeing my kids unwell, not to mention the hard work that comes with it, on a more positive note, I realised that this could be an opportunity for us as parents to take time out to provide them with undivided attention. So, my ‘big girl’ is now on day 2 of her flu.  What a better way than to distract her with some board games while nourishing her with freshly grated Ginger, lemon and honey tea to help calm her stomach discomforts and boost her immune system. See recipe below.

Insights:

Ginger has been used by eastern medicine to calm stomach discomfort which seems to be going around this winter season.

Recipe:

GingerLemonHoneyFreshly Grated Ginger, lemon and honey tea. 1 cup of boiling water, grate 1 inch of ginger, juice of 1/4 or wedge of lemon, and 1 tsp honey. Let it seep for a few minutes and enjoy. The spiciness in the ginger will also help clear sinuses. Adjust the amount of ginger according to your own preference to how strong you want it to be. I like mine really strong. Stay healthy or recover soon.

‘Not’ Sugar Cookies – School Safe too!

Buckwheat Sugar Free Cookies
(Nut Free, Dairy Free, Egg Free, Gluten Free, Processed Sugar Free)

SugarCookies

Seeing the long list of ‘Free’, you may wonder, “Does these cookies taste of anything?”

I can assure you that these cookies are simply delicious and simple to make.  It is a variation of the basic Sugar Cookies that I’ve adapted from another Gluten free recipe.

For the life of me, I can’t remember where I got the original recipe from but I was ‘googling’ like an addict in the middle of night and I found this.  My mind went into overdrive, working hard to figure out a few substitutions for the ‘un-CLEAN’ ingredients in the original recipe.  Mind you, back then I was quite inexperience with ingredients, which meant that I was also spending more hours reading blogs and searching online well into the early hours of the day.

So, I really hope you will enjoy this variation of the recipe especially if you’re a mom looking to add some healthy treats without any of the restricted ingredients to your kid’s lunches.

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Just a few quick tips:

  1. You can make these with any nut flours by replacing rice flour in the ingredients.
  2. You can use any dried fruits but I like to use prunes as it is one of the easiest and most available dried fruits at any supermarkets without added sugar.
  3. Adding any type of dried fruits will give it a more chewy texture.

Time:

15 minutes to prepare dough
1 hr to freeze dough for firming
10 minutes to bake

Ingredients:

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Coconut Oil (Hardened form, not liquid)

1/3 cup of Rice Malt Syrup or Coconut Palm Sugar
1/4 tsp salt
1/2 tsp cinnamon
1 tsp vanilla extract
1/2 cup buckwheat flour
1/2 cup brown rice flour
1/2 cup chopped pitted prunes
1/3 cup walnuts (optional and free to use other choices of your favourite nuts)

Instructions:

  1. In a medium mixing bowl, cream the coconut oil, with the syrup/coconut sugar, salt and cinnamon, using the back of a large spoon or a hand mixer.
  2. Stir in the vanilla extract and nuts (if using).
  3. In a separate bowl, mix the flours together.
  4. Add flours to the wet mixture to form dough.
  5. Turn out the dough onto a work surface and roll into a 2 inches diameter log.
  6. Wrap tightly in plastic and place it in freezer for about 1 hour until chilled and firm.   At this stage, you can leave it in the freezer until you’re ready to make it another day.  Just re-freeze any unused dough.
  7. Heat the oven to 160 C/ 325 F.
  8. Slice the log into ¼ inch thick crosswise. Arrange on a non-stick, greased or parchment-lined cookie sheet about 2 inches apart.
  9. Bake for 10 minutes or longer for crispier texture.  Rotate the sheet halfway through for even baking.  Remove the warm cookies and cool on a wire rack.

The cookies will keep in an airtight container, for 2 weeks at room temperature.

 

My Version of ‘Trigo Y Nueces ‘ from True South

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Enjoy a Meatless Thursday with this Argentinian inspired recipe that I’ve worked on after a dining experience at one of my favourite restaurant named ‘True South’.

I’ve adapted this as a Gluten Free recipe using quinoa rather than cous cous with a few little tweaks for crunch.  I love the textures in this dish along with the combination of sweet, salty and sour flavours.  It is processed sugar and processed oil free.  It is definitely healthy and protein rich.

Let me know what you think, share your variations of improvements and any suggestions you may have in the comments section below.  Love to hear from you.

Recipe: ‘Trigo Y Nueces ‘ (GF, Vegan)

1. Chick Pea purée:

IMG_2045Ingredients:

1 can of organic chick peas 1 clove of garlic a dash of apple cider vinegar or lemon juice Salt and pepper to taste. 1/2 cup Olive oil

Place all ingredients into a food processor to puree until creamy consistency.  Pour olive oil slowly into the blender as the ingredients are mixing.  Set aside.

2. The Crunchy Mix

Ingredients:

1/2 cup almonds (or any nuts of your choice)
2 tbsp coconut palm sugar
1/2 cup chopped dried prunes (or any dried fruit if your choice)

Lightly toast all the ingredients in a frying pan on a stove top until almonds are lightly brown.

3. Preparing and Assembling

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Ingredients

1 1/2 cups quinoa (cooked – same as rice using absorption method with equal parts of water and quinoa)
1 whole green or red chilli chopped (choose the type of chili that you can handle the level of spiciness)
Juice of 1 lemon
Salt and pepper to taste

Mix all the quinoa, lemon juice, salt and pepper together in a separate bowl. To assemble, smear a generous amount of chick pea purée on serving plate. Then top the purée with Quinoa salad. Sprinkle ‘The Crunchy Mix’ over the salad and garnish with chili. You can also add a handful of chopped mint or coriander to add more contrasting flavours. Serve and enjoy.

‘Baked Tamari Trevali’

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When you’re running short of time, fish is the quickest and easiest meal to prepare. It only takes half an hour or so to prepare and cook.

Here’s an age old ‘Asian inspired’ recipe that I grew up eating with my mom and aunty when I was young and it is now my weekly staple.  Besides, it is a great excuse to use my homegrown garlics and lemons. See recipe below.

Insights:

Studies have recently shown that Fish provides healthy levels of DHA which helps children and adults sleep longer during the night.  This is extremely important in promoting healthy brain development. Studies have also shown that sleep deprivation is one of the biggest causes of various depression issues, weight gains and is one of the catalyst of most modern illnesses we are facing today. Unfortunately, the statistic of children having sleep problems are increasing. Therefore, try incorporating fish into your meals at least twice a week to help kick start your family in the right direction. 


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Bake Tamari Trevali 

Trevali or any white fish
2 cloves of chopped garlic
1/4 of whole red onion (chopped)
2 inches of ginger (sliced)
Dash of sesame oil
Dash of Tamari sauce
Pinch of fresh or dried dill
Pepper (optional)

Preheat oven to 180 degrees Celsius. Prepare in the order above by layering each ingredient on top of the other in a baking dish. Bake for 20 minutes and serve with a salad, brown rice or quinoa.

‘A Smoothie to Wake Up Your Senses and Boost Your Energy!’

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Here’s one the smoothie recipe that both my husband and I have every morning.  We find that having a smoothie is the quickest way to get nutritious energising breakfast into our bodies.  All the seeds and protein in this drink will last us until lunch time without snacks as long as we continue to drink water in between.  See recipe below.

Insights:

Most of the time, when we feel hungry during mid-morning, it could be due to several reasons

  • Habitual – our body crave for foods that are high in sugar, salt or behavioural
  • Dehydrated – just need to drink water and hunger will disappear
  • Didn’t have enough quality breakfast

So, before reaching for a snack, try having a drink of water when you feel a little hungry, and you’ll be surprise that most often, the hunger goes away.

‘Energising Smoothie Recipe’

1/4 cups of frozen mangoes
1/4 cups frozen blueberries
1/4 cups frozen pineapples
1 cup water or dairy free milk of choice
1 tbsp hemp seed protein powder
1 tbsp flax seed
1 tbsp chia seeds

Place all the ingredients in the order above into a blender. Blend it up and enjoy.

Natural Instincts – The way it used to be!

 

When you do something often, you’ll develop a natural instinct on how that ‘something’ should be or at least to your own liking.  This is very true when it comes to cooking.  I’ve been very fortunate to be surrounded by families and friends whom over the years have introduced me to amazing flavours from east to west.  If I ever ask them for a precise recipe, they often just shrugged their shoulders and said, “just come over and I’ll show you”.  The simple explanation for this is that often than not, it is very difficult to measure your own instincts into units of math.  All they could do is tell me the ingredients and depending on the portions, they would either throw a handful or a pinch of something, then finally stick their index finger into it do a taste test.  I love it! 

So, during this wonderful road trip I did with my family (husband, 6 and 4 year old girls), through state forests and national parks with nothing more than basic cooking utensils, a gas stove and a tent, I pretty much made meals and desserts using whatever I’ve brought.  On this special Saturday morning of April 26th, my little girl Gia turned 4 and unlike most of her friends who would celebrate their birthdays with balloons, cakes and entertainments, we were on our last day camping near the beautiful Lake Hume on the border of NSW and Victoria, Australia.  I had to get creative fast and decided on making her a scrumptious, yet still a healthy breakfast with her favourite – Chocolates.  

 

I remembered the first time I decided to make Gluten Free Crepes or Pancakes without realising that the world of Gluten Free have long discovered buckwheat flour to be used in pancakes mixture.  I for one thought I was very clever and experimented with the mixture using the following ingredients until I got the right texture. So, I can’t provide you with the exact measurements but I can at least tell you what’s in it. I trust that you’ve made enough pancakes to use your instinct to reach the right mixture.  C’mon, give it a go!

 

Chocolate Chips Buckwheat Crepes/Pancakes (Gluten Free)

(I ended up with 16 pancakes using a small fryinging pan… Ha! Ha! told you I have no idea)

Eggs 
Buckwheat flour
Rice or Almond Milk
Soda Water (optional to make it fluffy) 
Coconut oil for cooking
Chocolate chips ( optional use dairy free or even sugar free ones)

Mix these ingredients together starting with the flour and eggs (2 to 3).  Slowly pour liquid little bit at a time and stir until you reach the right texture for pancakes or Crepes. See tips below.  The soda water is great because it does the same as adding bi-carb soda powder (Hungarian uses soda water in their Crepes which I learned when I visited Budapest with my best friend Natali years ago).  Scoop 1 small ladle into pan coated with small amount of coconut oil.  Flip to the other side and place a handful of chocolate chips onto the whole surface or just half such that you can sandwich it (less messy for kids to eat with hands).  
 

Crepes style tips – mixture is more runny such that you can pick up your pan once you’ve put a scoop of mixture into it and tilt it around to spread it out thinly. Very easy.  With Crepes, mixture doesn’t need any raising agent, so you can omit bicarbonate or soda water.  The idea is you get a thin layer that you can roll or fold in half. 

Pancakes style tips – mixture is thicker and more like a cake mixture. Use bicarbonate or baking soda (or dash of soda water) to provide some fluffiness.  When place a scoop of mixture into pan, you’ll see some bubbles forming.