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MeatFreeMonday: Paella Baby!

Wow, what a one-pot-wonder! This recipe is full of flavour, what a way to kickstart the week!  I’ve tried my hand at making paella before, but it was less than amazing.  I wanted to try again because I’m always drawn to the lively colours, and it’s rice – I love rice!  Looking back, my first paella fail was probably down to me over-complicating it, because tonight this was so easy and quick to make!

Here’s the recipe, it’s vegan and gluten free!

 

Ingredients:

3 tablespoons olive oil

160g spiced tofu, chopped (I used this one by Cauldron and it was fantastic)

200g paella rice

170g chopped mushrooms

2 green peppers, sliced (I only had green peppers here, any colour is great)

1 carrot, diced

1 medium courgette, diced

1 stick of celery, finely chopped

1 red chilli, finely chopped

4 cloves garlic, finely chopped

750ml vegetable stock

pinch of saffron (about 1/8 teaspoon)

2 teaspoons paprika (you could use smoked, but maybe use less of it)

1/2 teaspoon cayenne pepper

1 cup of frozen peas (or fresh if you have them)

3 spring onions, sliced

juice of 1 lime

 

Method:

  • Add the saffron to the hot vegetable stock in a jug or a bowl and leave to infuse
  • In a large deep pan, heat the oil over medium/high heat
  • Add the tofu, mushrooms, carrot, celery, courgette and green peppers and heat for 5-10 minutes, stirring and shaking every so often as it simmers
  • Stir in the garlic and chilli and leave for about 10 seconds
  • Add the stock (with saffron) and keep the heat high, bringing it to the boil
  • Stir in the paprika and cayenne
  • Once boiling, stir in the rice, cover and keep on a medium heat to a fast simmer for 18 minutes until the rice is tender and almost all of the water has been absorbed (don’t poke about with it during this time or the rice will release it’s starch and you’ll end up with risotto!)
  • Open the lid, put the peas evenly on top of the paella, then re-cover and allow them to steam for 1-2 minutes
  • Take off the heat, stir in the lime juice and spring onions, and serve!

The above quantities came out with 3 generous portions. Simple! This is definitely my new favourite one-pot-wonder, it even had B’s seal of approval (and he’s a proper carnivore!).  You could change up the vegetables and use whatever you fancy or whatever you have to hand – throw in some tomatoes, maybe some green beans – I’d definitely use the Cauldron tofu again, it’s marinated and lightly spiced so goes really well in this dish.  Happy Meatless Monday everyone!

 

 

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MeatFreeMonday: Sweet Potato Tacos (gluten, dairy free!)

I haven’t been around here much lately.  Things have been a bit crazy with househunting and one thing and another, but tonight I made Tacos that I just had to share with the world.  They were born from the simple fact that I had sweet potatoes in the cupboard that needed eating.  I’d like to say I made my own taco shells, but I didn’t.  B found the corn shells we bought on offer when they fell out of the cupboard this morning – so the decision was made, we were having sweet potato tacos for dinner!

They were sweet, tangy, creamy, and spicy all at the same time.  As well as being stupidly easy to make, they are healthy and filling too.  Here’s how I made the filling for roughly 8 tacos…

 

Ingredients:

3 small-medium sweet potatoes

400g tin white kidney beans, drained and rinsed

50g frozen spinach

1 red onion, chopped

1 small green pepper, chopped

1 red chilli, sliced

1 clove garlic, finely chopped

1/4 tsp each of: paprika, smoked paprika, cayenne pepper, mustard powder

freshly ground black pepper to taste (I used about 1/8 tsp)

1 tbsp olive oil

1 tbsp ground flax seed

8 gluten free taco shells

 

Method:

  • Peel and roughly chop the sweet potatoes
  • Place them in a bowl, cover, and microwave for approx 7 mins, checking half way through – cook until tender
  • Meanwhile, in a large pan, heat the onion and green pepper in a little oil until they soften (a few minutes)
  • Add the garlic, chilli, spinach and beans to the pan, cover and simmer for 5-10 minutes (until the beans are soft and the spinach has defrosted)
  • Add the cooked sweet potato to the pan, along with the spices, flax seed & oil
  • Mash the mixture together with a potato masher until the potato & beans are fairly smooth, don’t worry about the odd lump & bump, then turn off the heat
  • Heat the taco shells in the microwave for around 1 minute 30 seconds
  • That’s it – serve! Add salad, cheese, salsa, guacamole or anything else as desired – we had naked tacos – just the above mixture inside corn shells, and they were amazing

 

So there you have a satisfying taco filling – tasty and healthy, and no need for any micro-protein-pretend-beef-mince.  Happy Meat-free-Monday everyone!

Sexy Spaghetti Bolognese (gluten & dairy free!)

Sexy Spaghetti Bolognese (gluten & dairy free!)

Spag Bol, as it’s commonly known here, is a classic.  It’s simple, and everyone loves it.  I’ve often heard Gino D’acampo say that in Italy, you won’t have spaghetti with bolognese – but since I can’t seem to get gluten free tagliatelle, or fettuccine, gluten free spaghetti will have to do.  And it does, quite nicely!

Truthfully, I had never eaten spaghetti bolognese until I met B  7 years ago, and then, it meant frying some beef mince and onion, stirring in a jar of sauce, and putting it on some spaghetti.  If that sounds like your version, next time you’re at the shop, instead of buying that jar of ‘sauce’, just pick up a carton of tomato passata.  It couldn’t be simpler to make it from scratch, and surely far cheaper than buying a gluten free sauce.

I’ve been off work for a little while with a bad foot, so I seem to have watched a lot of daytime TV, and have picked up some tips too.  Gino alwas says that you never put the sauce on top of the pasta; you always put the pasta into the sauce. This might well be common knowledge, but it’s not the way I used to do it, and it seems to make on hell of a difference!  Anyway, I know most people have their own recipe for this family favourite, but incase, like me, you’d always made it using a jar of sauce, here’s my ridiculously easy yet amazingly tasty version of ‘Spag Bol”…

Ingredients:

250g lean beef mince

1 tbsp olive oil

1 onion, finely chopped

4 mini portabella mushrooms, chopped

1 red pepper, chopped

1 fat clove of garlic, peeled and pressed / finely chopped

500g tomato passata (sieved tomatoes, from a carton)

1 whole dried bay leaf

1/4 tsp black pepper

1/4 tsp each of dried oregano, dried basil, dried parsley

250g gluten free spaghetti (I used corn)

Method:

  • In a large saucepan, add about 1tbsp olive oil to the mince, and break it up with the back of a spoon, while on a low heat
  • Once the mince has started to brown, add the onion, mushrooms and red pepper
  • Once the veggies have softened and the mince is pretty much cooked, add the garlic and stir through
  • Now add the passata, and turn up the heat to bring it to a simmer
  • Mix in the black pepper, oregano and basil, and bury the bayleaf, whole, in the sauce
  • Cover and simmer for about 15 minutes (add the parsley in for the last 5 minutes of cooking)
  • Meanwhile put a large pan of water on to boil for the pasta (I don’t salt my water; I don’t see the need, but do so if you must)
  • Put your spaghetti into the boiling water, and cook for 8-9 minutes, until it is ‘al dente’ – cooked but firm
  • Drain your spaghetti, and put it into your bolognese sauce, mixing well
  • Give your spaghetti about a minute to soak up some sauce, then serve and enjoy!

Easy! So that’s how I do it.  I get 3 good servings from this, so it feeds me and B, with leftovers for his lunch tomorrow.  I use dried herbs, but if you have fresh to hand then use those instead.  One day I’ll have a little herb garden up and running, but until then, my dried herbs will serve me well.

SaucySaturday: Smoky Salami Pasta (gluten & dairy free!)

Saturdays are meant to be fun, free and easy, yes? That’s why, on a Saturday, I like to make food that’s quick and simple.  It still needs to be tasty though, and it still needs to keep B happy, since he’s jumped on the gluten & lactose free bandwagon with me, to make life easier.  Tonight, we fancied pasta.  Pasta and olives.

I should probably explain that this isn’t strictly just ‘salami’ pasta – I used some smoked streaky bacon, too.  I had some salami left over from last night’s epic pizzathon, and some bacon in the fridge ready for the mandatory Sunday bacon sandwich, so I used a bit of both.

 

Ingredients:

5 slices of salami, chopped

4 rashers smoked streaky bacon, chopped

1 red bell pepper, chopped

1 clove garlic, minced / finely chopped

1 small green chilli, finely chopped (deseed for less heat)

500ml tomato passata

1/4 tsp smoked paprika

1/4 tsp black pepper

175g dry GF pasta (I used Sainsburys corn penne)

 

Method:

  • Put a large pan of water on to boil for the pasta
  • In a drizzle of oil, heat the salami and bacon in a large saucepan for around 5 minutes over a fairly high heat, until they start to brown
  • Add the chopped pepper to the pan, turn down the heat, and stir through, allowing to cook for a few more minutes
  • Add the garlic and chilli, and heat for no more than a further 30 seconds (burned garlic will become bitter, and by this stage the pan will be hot so it will cook quickly)
  • Now stir in the passata, and season with the smoked paprika and black pepper

While the sauce simmers, it’s time to add the pasta to the boiling water.  Simmer for about 7 minutes, until the pasta is cooked but still firm – ‘al dente’

  • Drain the pasta, and quickly stir it into the sauce
  • Allow the pasta to heat in the sauce for about a minute, and then serve!

This made enough to feed 2 hungry people.  Me and B are always greedy hungry.

Of course, pasta loves a side of olives.  Stuffed olives, to be more precise.  I had bought a jar of ready-pitted olives, and really fancied stuffing them with lactofree cheese. Tonight was the first time I attempted the ancient art of olive-stuffing, and it was a bit fiddly, but turned out great, with the use of the back of a small spoon.  Then I dressed them in 1 tablespoon of olive oil, 1 tablespoon of tomato puree, and about 1/2 a teaspoon of balsamic vinegar.  They were yum, if I do say so myself!

So that was my Saucy Saturday.  Now sat with B, sipping a GF lager, and watching the Bodyguard.  Perfect weekend :)

 

FridayFood: Polenta Pizza (gluten free, of course!)

When your intolerances get in the way of you ordering in a pizza, it doesn’t have to ruin your weekend.  In fact, it can be more fun to make your own! Last night, I made (and ate) so much food, I could barely move afterwards – BBQ pizza with a polenta base, a side of crispy potato wedges with a creamy garlic & herb dip, and even a gluten free lager to wash it all down with.  I was only cooking for me and B, and I think it’s fair to say I made too much food.  That didn’t stop us eating it all, mind you. Anyway, pictured below is my Friday Feast.

Yes. We had a whole pizza each. I had a search online, and took inspiration from a handful of recipes for the bases before getting busy in the kitchen, mainly these ones; annabelkarmel, fatfreevegankitchen, and Carla’s GlutenFreeRecipeBox.  Below is what I ended up doing, and gives the quantities to make 2 pizza bases, roughly 10 inches, and around about 1cm thick.

Ingredients:

190g polenta (dry weight)

850ml vegetable stock

1/2 tbsp xanthan gum

1 tbsp GF plain flour (I used Dove’s Farm)

1 tsp dry parmesan substitute

Method

  • Bring the stock to a simmer then slowly add the polenta, whisking as you do so
  • Keep at a very low heat, and cook for around 3-5 minutes, until you have a smooth polenta mixture (add more water if it starts to become dry)
  • Turn off the heat and mix in the xanthan gum, flour and ‘parmesan’

Now time to make them into pizza bases…

  • If you have pizza tins, spread the mixture into the oiled tins to desired thickness
  • I don’t have a pizza tin, so I put a sheet of baking paper over a dinner plate and used that.  The polenta will probably be stick and stubborn, so persevere and try to spread it evenly
  • Bake in a fairly hot oven (200 degrees or thereabouts) for 15 minutes
  • Once done, the polenta will feel springy and spongy
  • Remove from the oven, and either allow to cool, and refrigerate until you need it, or put on your toppings and pop them straight back in the oven!

I was surprised at how well the base held up.  The middle was a little bit on the floppy side, but the majority of it was very ‘handleable’.  Pizza is all about the hands, and if you’re gentle, this base doesn’t require a knife and fork!  It is, however, very filling, so one pizza between 2 should be plenty.

I topped mine with homemade BBQ sauce, which was amazing! The recipe is here.  I also added grated lactofree cheese, fresh spinach, and some salami. Of course, you can top it with whatever you like! I like my pizzas crispy, so I baked them for 25 minutes, meaning the polenta had a total of 40 minutes in the oven.

Now, pizza wouldn’t be pizza without a side, would it? I made some simple potato wedges to go with mine, and of course, a Dominos-esque garlic and herb dip.  With inspiration from this beautifully simple recipe, I threw together 100g Lactofree soft cheese, 50g Alpro plain soya yoghurt, a crushed clove of garlic, some chives and a squeeze of lime juice, and wound up with a delicious dip!

So, that was my Friday Food.  I would definitely make a pizza base from polenta again.  I’ve seen some fascinating things turned into ‘alternative’ pizza bases before, but in taste and in texture, I always imagined polenta would be pretty similar to one made from bread.  And I was right.  I’d love to hear if you’ve made any weird and wonderful gluten free pizza bases?

Hungry for Homemade BBQ Sauce?

I’ve been playing around in the kitchen, because it’s Friday and tonight, I want to make a pizza to end all cravings for Dominos.

The pizza bases were ready to go, I just needed to create a tangy, oozy BBQ sauce to tickle the tastebuds with just the kick you need for a Friday night in.

Why don’t I just buy a jar of gluten free barbecue sauce to top the pizzas? Well, because this way is more fun, and have you read the ingredients list on a jar of sauce lately? It usually makes for scary reading.

Just a note on how to make it, it’s a really simple sauce to put together, and while there may seem like a lot of ingredients, I just used what I had to hand.  If there’s something on the list you don’t have or don’t usually buy, see if there’s something you have in your cupboard that you can substitute.  Recipes are great for inspiration, but you can always tweak them to suit your tastes.

 

Ingredients:

1 tbsp olive oil

1 small red onion, chopped

1/2 red pepper, chopped

2.5cm piece of ginger, chopped

1 clove garlic, chopped

1 green chilli, chopped

300ml water

5 tbsp tomato puree

3 tbsp honey (please use agave nectar instead to make this vegan)

1 tbsp tamari sauce

1 whole star anise

1/2 tsp each of: paprika, smoked paprika, cayenne pepper, black pepper

2 tsp molasses

juice of 1/2 lime

optional: 2 tsp cornflour

 

Method:

  • In a saucepan, heat the onion, pepper and ginger in the oil until they soften
  • Add the garlic and chilli and heat for no more than another 30 seconds
  • Now add the water and turn up the heat
  • Add in all the other ingredients, except for the lime juice
  • Bring this up to the boil and allow to simmer for 15 minutes
  • It should now start to smell like BBQ sauce. Add the lime juice and heat for about a minute.
  • Take it off the heat, transfer to a blender, and blend until smooth (depending on how good your blender is, you may want to fish out the star anise before blending)
  • At this stage, I like to put it back into the pan and add cornflour to thicken it up.  To do this, mix 2 tsp cornflour into about a tablespoon of water, and add it to the sauce.  The cornflour needs heat to thicken, so simmer the mixture for a further 5-10 minutes

That’s it! Allow to cool, bottle it, jar it, put it straight on your pizza, mix it in with some pasta, dip your chips in it – the choice is yours!

This recipe makes about 400ml sauce, scale it up or down to suit your needs, or store the leftovers in the fridge and it should keep for a few days.

Bitter-sweet Beetroot with Sexy Spinach Quinoa…

This is a short & sweet, simple recipe. It’s fool proof.  But don’t let that fool you – it’s delicious; tasty and satisfying.  You have my word.

I was inspired when I found this recipe for the beetroot: a baker’s doesn’t original recipe so using 4 medium sized fresh beetroots, I sliced them, drizzled over some balsamic vinegar and honey (just switch this to some agave nectar to make this dish vegan), covered with tinfoil and popped them in a hot oven for 30 minutes, at around 220 degrees.

While they were in the oven, I got onto making the quinoa.  Quinoa is up there as one of my favourite grains, and it’s something that I had never even tried before I went gluten free.  Now, I don’t know how I lived without it – there are so many things you can do with it, and it always tastes amazing. Below is how I made it tonight…

Ingredients:

1 medium onion, finely chopped

1 bell pepper (of any colour – I used orange), finely chopped

1 clove of garlic (a nice fat one, minced or finely chopped)

75g fresh spinach

250g quinoa (dry weight)

600ml hot vegetable stock (I use GF bouillon powder)

Method:

  • In a large pan, gently heat the onion and pepper in a little oil for around 10 minutes, until they soften
  • Stir through the garlic and add the hot stock
  • Add the quinoa to the pan, cover and simmer for 15-20 minutes
  • When there is very little water left to be absorbed, put the spinach on top of the quinoa, cover the pan and allow it wilt for a few minutes.
  • When the spinach is wilted, stir it through the quinoa, and serve…
  • Take the beetroot out of the oven (it should be tender now) and serve with the quinoa – drizzle over any juices left from the beetroot pan!

That’s it. As easy as that.  It’s a perfect mid-week dish when you’re tired from work and need feeding quick.  I got 3 servings out of the above quantities, so it fed me and B tonight, and there’s leftovers for B’s lunch tomorrow. Happy days :)

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