Category Archives: Gluten Free

Loaded sweet potato wedges…

This dish was part of a Mexican feast that I served for lunch last weekend, and it was so good, I’m still salivating about it!!!! 

So although it’s not ground breaking in any way, I’m sharing it for the sheer joy of it 🙂 

It’s basically loaded nachos, but with sweet potato wedges instead of nacho chips. 

I roasted some sweet potato wedges and laid them in a single layer on a large plate; I covered them with some of my mixed bean chilli, made with one of my homemade Mexican chilli sauces; then covered it all with a mixture of grated cheddar and Red Leicester cheeses. That went in the oven for the cheese to melt, then I topped it all with jalapeños, chopped mild green chillies, chopped spring onion and soured cream. 

I can tell you, it didn’t last very long at all!!!! 

Need I say anymore?! 🙂 

I hope you’ve all had a great week and have a great weekend ahead. Now, it’s  Fiesta Friday time…! 

Cauliflower and chickpeas ❤

There are some dishes that stay in your heart, that you never tire of…my marinated cauliflower is one of them…I made it again last week, and this time made my version with added chickpeas, and fell in love all over again!!! (I have to make it in small batches because I know I will eat the whole thing!)

Heavenly!

I’ve learnt from each time I’ve cooked this dish, and I now know to cook it for longer than I did originally. I can’t tell you exactly how long though, I just keep a watch on it. If you can be patience and take it right to the edge, it will reward you with crunchy cauliflower and gorgeous chickpeas 🙂 

Spiced coconut chips..

I’ve been play in my kitchen…nothing new there, I know…;)

This time it’s been with coconut chips. 

I don’t eat crisps or chips (whatever you call them in your part of the globe) but if you’d like an alternative option to those fried potato morsels, give this a go, if you get the flavouring right, I’d challenge you to miss your usual crisps, and you’ll have a healthier version.

It all started with a big bag of raw coconut chips, which I toasted in the oven:

I laid the chips out in a single layer on my oven tray then put it in the oven at 180C. To be honest, the oven could be set a bit lower and I think it would still have been fine. You really need to watch them, they toast very quickly so you need to stay on hand to take the tray out, move the chips around, then put the tray back in the oven and keep doing this until they’re all toasted how you want..

Whilst they’re warm, they remain soft. As they cool, they get nice and crispy, and they’re good just like that. 

However, whilst they’re warm is the perfect time to toss them with your chosen flavouring, then leave them to crisp up and take on the spices. 

I mixed some of the chips with my chai spice mix…

…some with my rose harissa spice mix…

…and (no individual photo) some with my barbecue spice mix from my previous post (which I’m very proud to say has been featured on this week’s Fiesta Friday picks).

They work REALLY well, if you like barbecue spiced crisps, this combination is a winner, the harissa ones are good too, and the chai spiced ones are a great addition to your breakfast. And if you don’t like coconut, don’t be put off, to be honest, you don’t really taste it! 

I hope you like my creations, happy Friday and happy weekend!

My BBQ spice mix: all the flavour, none of the sugar…

If you buy any barbecue spice mixes or rubs or seasonings, they will include a smoky element, maybe a spicy element, usually a lot of salt, and pretty much always a HUGE amount of sugar. That mix of flavours epitomises BBQ seasonings, and aids the caramelisation of whatever is being cooked with it. 

If you search up recipes to make your own, you will find a similar story. But by choosing to make your own, you can amend the recipe to suit your tastes and preferences. If I make a barbecue based sauce or marinade for my boys, I will typically use honey or maple syrup, and I use a lot less than recipes suggest…I’ve never made a barbecue spice rub because I just couldn’t get my head round all that sugar, until now…

If you have seen my previous two posts, for my chilli cause and my salsa, you will have seen that I used ground freeze dried pineapple as the sweetnener. It intrigued me whether this could be used in a spice mix in the same way, or would it just burn when cooked? Pineapple caramelises if you grill it, so what would the freeze dried version do?

Well, I’m here to tell you it works very well. So, I introduce MY BBQ spice mix…

The photo above shows the freeze dried pineapple as it comes, plus some that I’ve broken down, as well as the finished mix 

I have so far used this spice mix to flavour a dip (very nice!), I used it as a rub on chicken which I grilled for the boys (thumbs up from both), and today I used it to roast some cauliflower…

I cut the florets into halves and quarters, drizzled with a bit of olive oil, sprinkled with a couple of teaspoons of the spice mix and mixed it all well. I then roasted it at 200C (fan) until it was all nicely cooked and bit crunchy…

And served it on a bed of homous…

What looks like burnt bits isn’t, it didn’t taste burnt, merely crunchy and tasty. I think if I’d cooked it any longer, it would have taken it too far. 
But the fact is, it works! I’m so chuffed 🙂

This is what I mixed..

4 tbsp ground freeze dried pineapple (for my tastes, I could happily use only 2 tablespoons, so you need to experiment)

2 tbsp smoked paprika

1 tsp salt

1 tbsp ground roasted cumin

1 tbsp Aleppo chilli flakes

1/2 tbsp ground black pepper

1-2 tsp cayenne pepper (to taste)

1 tbsp onion powder

1 tbsp garlic powder 

1 tsp dried oregano 

I mixed it all and ground it to a fine mix, but you could keep it more textured if you wish. 

The mix stores well in a sealed glass jar. If it clumps together just break it up before you use it – any mix using garlic powder tends to clump as it’s quite moist. 

The mix of flavours is so good, it’s still not as sweet as store bought mixes would be, because that’s my choice, but you could play with that. Do keep in mind that the pineapple is very sweet, so you may not need as much as you think. 

So, success, I think? What do you reckon…?

I hope that everyone at this week’s Fiesta Friday like my creation 🙂 this week, the lovely Petra and Ai are co hosting, pop over and have a visit…happy weekend!

Parsley and pineapple salsa…but not as you know it…

I couldn’t help myself, I just had to have another play with leafy greens and pineapple for Angie’s Fiesta Friday Healthy Eating Recipe Challenge…Angie stated that the ‘greens’ could be herbs if they were the main element of the recipe, which they are in this case. 

Salsas often call for a pinch of sugar, and, as ever, I never include any in my salsas, so I have no idea what difference it might make to the finished article. The success of using ground freeze dried pineapple in my chilli sauce in my previous post lead me to experiment with it again in a salsa..

And again it worked well, and added a nice finish to the sauce. 

When I first added the freeze dried pineapple to the salsa, it was not completely ground up and remained crunchy, so that as I tried the salsa, it provided shots of sweet crunch, which you might like. After a while, the pineapple dissolved into the salsa and provided a good balance with the vinegar, which was my preference.

I made this today and ate it with roasted sweet potato wedges, roasted tomatoes and cooked peas, with toasted pine nuts..

I make salsa, often along the lines of chimichurri, regularly with bunches of flat leaf parsley, coriander, dill, and whatever else is available; today I only had parsley available. 


Ingredients

Handful of flat leaf parsley, leaves stripped from stalks

2 garlic cloves, peeled 

1 tsp roasted ground cumin

1 tsp dried oregano

2 tbsp apple cider vinegar

2 tbsp olive oil

2 tsp crushed freeze dried pineapple 

Method

Put it all in a small bowl blender and chop to a consistency that you like. If it requires additional liquid, you can add extra olive oil and vinegar, or even a splash of water. 

I’m loving this experimenting, there’s more to come!

A chilli sauce with a twist..


When it comes to cooking, l’m always up for a challenge; to me, nothing is impossible, I’ll have a go at anything, as long as someone is going to eat it! So when Angie issued a recipe challenge, I was, naturally, curious…

Angie issued a Fiesta Friday Healthy Recipe Challenge – healthy eating is my thing, that posed no threat to me, however, Angie also declared that the recipe must include leafy greens (no problem) and…..pineapple….there’s my challenge…!

I don’t eat or use much fruit, and I’m not a fan of anything sweet, so the thought of including pineapple, in any form in a dish, was a real challenge for me. I needed to let my brain ruminate and ponder and create a way to use pineapple in my way, in a dish that I would eat or serve my menfolk.

Hence, this chilli sauce… Yes! This chilli sauce includes pineapple. Freeze dried powdered pineapple to be exact. I found this freeze dried version in my local supermarket and I powdered it.

A lot of recipes I read for chilli sauces include some kind of sugar, and sometimes HUGE amounts of sugar! I do not eat refined sugar in any form, I do not eat sugar substitutes, and I don’t like honey or maple syrup, and I just can’t bring myself to add the required sugar to these recipes. If I make chilli sauces I therefore don’t add any sugar, but sometimes I can taste that it needs something to give it a final finish, so have tried adding cinnamon as an alternative, or even ‘anardana’, which is dried pomegranate powder, both of which were interesting. So, you guessed it, today I tried adding a bit of dried pineapple powder; it’s extremely sweet, to me anyway, so you don’t need much, and it worked very nicely! 

I was going to then add spinach to the sauce for the leafy green vegetable element but I didn’t want to muddy the colour, so I paired the sauce with spelt, spinach, red onions and garlic, and mixed it all together to eat it…


The sauce recipe..


This makes a lot of sauce, I don’t know how to make small quantities, plus I like to maximise my cooking and make batches of everything!

2 medium red onions, peeled

2 long red peppers

5 long red chillies

1 bulb of garlic, cloves peeled 

2 bay leaves

1/2 tbsp dried oregano

1/2 tbsp dried thyme 

1 tbsp ground roasted cumin

And..

Several tablespoons of olive oil, apple cider vinegar & lemon juice

600g  passata, or a tin of chopped tomatoes plus a splash of water

3 tbsp tomato puree 

2 tsp pineapple powder

Method..

Roughly chop then blend the first 8 ingredients together to make a rough paste 



Heat a couple of tablespoons of olive oil in a wide pan over a medium heat 

Cook the paste in the olive oil for a few minutes

Add the passata, tomato puree, vinegar, lemon juice and pineapple powder and cook over a low heat for 15-20 minutes. 

Keep it covered to avoid splashes but stir occasionally

You can then blend the mixture again if you prefer it smoother 

It’s a tasty tasty thing! You can use it like I did, use it like a ragu, use it as a pasta sauce, whatever takes your fancy.

If you want to create this as a thicker, condiment sauce, reduce the amount of passata or even replace it with sunblushed tomatoes. 

For the spelt base, I heated olive oil in a small pan, cooked some chopped garlic, added some defrosted frozen spinach, some roasted red onions and cooked spelt and heated it all through. Mixed with the sauce, it was a lovely concoction.

My next plan is to use pineapple powder in a spice mix of some sort, possibly a barbecue spice rub…watch this space! 

So, thank you, Angie, for challenging me, I always enjoy it! And do check out what everyone else is creating

Spices: where to begin…with whole spices…

Following on from my last post about where to begin cooking with spices, using the same collection of spices from the masala dubba (spice tin) from Spice Kitchen UK that I based that post on, this time I’ll refer to the ‘whole spices’ in the collection..

If you are just venturing into the world of using spices, I would, personally, suggest that you start with some good quality ground spices first; these are spices that have already been ground for you. Whole spices may seem even more daunting than the ground versions, and may be something to come onto later..that’s what I did! 


In this tin, we have brown mustard seeds, cardamom pods, cloves and cinnamon sticks. Used whole, these are often utilised in India cooking to flavour the oil and add extra layers of flavour to any number of savoury dishes; the cardamom, cloves and cinnamon are also used widely in baking worldwide, and it may be that usage that you are more acquainted with; any whiff of cloves and cinnamon take me straight to Christmas time! And cardamom is often used in cakes and biscuits and buns. 

I am focussing on their savoury uses for boosting the health and flavour of meals. 

Whole spices are used sparingly, a little goes a long way.

Brown mustard seeds
: the tiny seeds in the bottom right of the above picture, are actually dark yellow in colour, and have a pungent acrid flavour on their own; they are used to make Dijon mustard, however, that does not mean that your dish will therefore taste of mustard. They are typically heated carefully in oil until they start to sizzle at the start of cooking, before having more ingredients then added to them; if you leave them for too long in the hot oil, they will start to pop and fly round your kitchen…I have learnt this the hard way…! 

Alternatively you can throw a few uncooked seeds over a salad.


Cardamom pods
: if you’ve ever eaten a curry and suddenly bitten into a strange little green pod, that’s a cardamom pod; again, they add to the flavour of a dish, but aren’t particularly nice to eat themselves. Cardamon is very strong and aromatic. It has a spicy, herbal, citrusy character and goes very well with cinnamon, nutmeg, allspice, clove, and other aromatic spices. Also with citrus such as preserved lemons, lemon or orange zest, etc, hence being used in sweet baking. 

One or two may be added to the oil along with the mustard seeds. Always remember to count how many you put in, in case you prefer to fish them out before serving. 

Alternatively, you can crack open the pods and remove the inner little black seed and grind to a powder and add the powder to a dish later on in the cook. 


Cloves
: the little brown sticks with ‘buds’ on the end, are the unopened pink flower buds of the evergreen clove tree, synonymous with so much at Yuletide, that give a warm, sweet, aromatic flavour to ginger bread and pumpkin spice. In savoury dishes they provide the same flavour in a new way. 

Again, they can add flavour to your oil, or you could grind them and use the ground spice later in a dish, but be warned, a little goes a long way! Start carefully and build it up. 


Cinnamon sticks
: come from the inner bark of Cinnamomum verum or cassia and again work well is savoury and sweet dishes, providing a lovely warm flavour and aroma. Cinnamon can also be a great way of adding sweetness for food in place of sugar. 

To use the actual sticks, again use sparingly and try adding them to the pan at the start of your cooking and heat for a little while until you start to smell the aroma, before adding your next ingredients. 

Or again, try grinding them to add to your dish.

All of these spices can be used in the same way, together or individually. Again, I would recommend trying them each individually in dishes that you know well to gauge their flavour, then start to play with them. It’s a great time of year for soups and stews, and adding any of these four, in whatever mix you like or on their own, can add a wonderful extra flavour and warmth to your soup. 

Cooking with spices does not mean that you suddenly have to embrace Indian cooking, these spices can be used to create many flavours and cuisines, as well as Indian. It’s all about how you put the ingredients together, which is all part of the magic. 

I add cardamom, cinnamon and cloves to my porridge each morning, along with turmeric, nutmeg and ginger, which brings wonderful flavour and warmth and goodness to the start of each day. 

My suggestion..

Going back to the idea in my previous post, try making a simple tomato sauce: heat some flavourless oil in a pan over a medium heat; add half a teaspoon of the mustard seeds, 2 cardamom pods, 2 cloves, and a finger length stick of cinnamon to the oil; heat them on their own for a minute, then add a tin of chopped tomatoes or a jar of passata. Cook it all together on a low heat for a few minutes and see how they whole spices add flavour to the tomatoes. 

You could then chuck in some of the curry leaves from the spice tin and see what they do to the flavour too – because the only way to understand what they bring to a dish, frankly, is to try them! It’s too hard to describe the flavour!! 

I hope this has been useful, I will continue into the world of spices again next time…until then, let’s join Quinn and Monika and everyone else at this week’s Fiesta Friday