Category Archives: Gluten Free

Moroccan spiced carrots, chickpeas and spelt…

It’s no secret that I love autumn, I love everything about it: the cooler temperatures, the beautiful colours, the changing leaves, the abundance of root vegetables…I didn’t mean to make something that almost epitomises autumn in a bowl, but that’s how it ended up! Maybe it’s just in my soul?!

In the beginning it was going to be a soup, but I can’t always bring myself to blend up the vegetables, they look too good whole, so this morphed into something else, not really a stew because it’s not very liquid, maybe a warm salad, or just as the title of the post says: ‘Moroccan spiced carrots, chickpeas and spelt’. I just kept adding things until I thought it was perfect!

I didn’t measure anything but I do remember how I made it so hopefully I can still share the process and it might be interesting…

In a large saucepan I heated some coconut oil, and added some chopped red onions over a medium heat; after several minutes and once the onions looked liked they were starting to brown, I added chopped garlic, cooked for a minute, then added liberal amounts of a Moroccan spice mix that I made previously. 

Again I cooked this for no more than a minute then added water to stop the spices from burning. I then added a great pile of peeled and chopped carrots, topped up the water until it covered them, added salt and pepper, then brought it to the boil. As the carrots cooked, I added some spelt, then later some chickpeas and chunks of butternut squash that I’d already roasted, chopped coriander (leaves and stalks) and finally some dried barberries for the colour and little surprise shots of their tart sweetness. 

And pretty much left it to bubble away until the carrots were cooked, but not mushy, and the spelt was cooked, adding water when necessary. 

Eating some with some tahini, as I did when it was just made above, you can still see the lovely colours of the individual ingredients. 

By the next day, the flavour had developed even more but the colours had all merged together and become one autumnal palette..

It’s the kind of dish that just gets better and better, and one I’ll be making again and again, and no doubt evolving as I do!

Happy Autumn everyone πŸ™‚

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In a pickle?

After reading the post about pickled red onions from Frugal Hausfrau recently, I decided it was time for me to get in a pickle! But of course, it would have to be my way. So I filled a jar with sliced red onions, sliced garlic, coriander seeds & cumin seeds, and filled it with a pickling fluid of apple cider vinegar, salt and the tiniest pinch of sugar..

I left them in the fridge for several weeks, and then started to taste and experiment with them. What I liked the most was the pickled spices, so I filled a jar with mostly them too!

A typical pickling juice is vinegar boiled with some salt and sugar then poured over whatever you wish to pickle. Then it’s down to you to enhance it with whatever aromatics take your fancy. Apple cider vinegar is quite a gentle acid, and works well, but white vinegar works just as well. It all depends how sharp you like your pickles. 

I’ve also pickled lots of whole garlic cloves – and they turn blue! Which is meant to be a good thing – healthy blue food, who knew??? (See below)

Aside from eating my pickled onions with a meal, I’ve also added them to various concoctions…

This is a ‘salad’ of chopped fresh parsley and coriander with lots of the pickled red onions and garlic and whole spices, using some of the pickling liquid with olive oil to create the texture. 

Tasty with everything, including roasted cauliflower with added leaves, tahini and dried barberries, providing a pop of sweet against the acidity of the pickles.

Or atop roasted aubergine slices topped with a Greek yoghurt & ricotta dressing, topped with pul biber chilli flakes and extra roasted coriander seeds.

I also used some of the pickles as a marinade, mixed with olive oil and roasted cherry tomatoes above.

And some more with cooled roasted aubergine slices and added pickled garlic – see the blue garlic slices? 

I left this mix to brew for a couple of days before adding some of both creations to some chopped leaves, below, with added roasted seeds..

I’m definitely a pickling convert, and having them in the fridge proves very useful. You can pretty much pickle anything, whether raw or cooked, so…

….what will you pickle today?

Ajvar sauce and friends…

It’s not news that I like making and eating sauces and dips and pastes, there is currently 10 jars of different ones in my fridge right now, and this week I’ve made a few new concoctions to my collection. As one lead to the development of another, then another, and so on, I thought I’d share them all at once. I’m also co hosting the weekly Fiesta Friday blog party this week with my lovely friend, and her great blog, Jhuls, so please do join us and see what everyone is bringing to the table this week..

So my saucy week all began with ‘ajvar’. Ajvar is historically a Serbian ‘salad’ made with roasted red peppers and aubergines, garlic and sometimes chilli; I realised I’ve virtually made this previously without realising that I was making somehing that exists with a name, I was just chucking things together one day…like you do! Then I saw this on Instagram and looked it up and decided to make my version of it.

The inclusion of the aubergine flesh to the sauce adds more texture than flavour – I have found this in some of my experiments, roasted aubergine flesh often adds a ‘whipped’ lightness to a sauce or dip, and of course adds a healthy fresh addition too πŸ™‚ the sauce therefore tastes more of the lovely sweetness of the red peppers, and the finished texture is quite thick so can be used in a variety of ways: on toast topped with goats cheese screams out to me! 

Also, all of the recipes I read called for roasting and peeling the red peppers, which I did here, but next time I make it I will leave the skins on; I have found that the skins often add an almost emulsifying effect to sauces that I like. 

Ingredients 

4 red peppers (i used 2 long red and 2 red bell peppers because that’s what I had!)

2 small/medium aubergines

3 large cloves garlic, peeled and finely chopped

Olive oil (some recipes have said 1/3 cup, I just poured a decent amount in, but probably not as much as that)

Apple cider vinegar or white vinegar 

Salt to taste

Chilli flakes (optional)

Method 

Heat oven to 200C

Place the peppers and aubergines (prick the skins first) on a baking tray and roast until the skins of the peppers are charred and the aubergines are completely soft to the touch

Place the peppers in a plastic bag to cool and sweat, this makes it easier to remove the skin

Once the aubergine and peppers are cool enough to handle, remove the skins and stalks of all of them, and the seeds of the peppers

Add them to a blender with the garlic, a good amount of olive oil, a couple of tablespoons of vinegar and a pinch of salt, and blend until smooth

Transfer to a saucepan and simmer over a very low heat for 20-30 minutes until thickened

Add salt to your taste. 

Add chilli flakes/powder as it cooks if you choose 

Either use it warm as a sauce, or transfer to a jar and allow to cool

NOTE: Mine definitely benefitted from developing its flavour more overnight and being used the next day

Of course, making ajvar started a range of ideas bubbling in my mind, and as I had a lot of carrots that needed using, I peeled and roasted them all, ate some with my dinner, and used the rest in some sauce ideas. Like this one, above, which basically followed the ajvar idea and quantities, just with carrots instead of peppers.

It is made of roasted carrots, roasted aubergine, garlic, olive oil, lemon juice, Aleppo chilli flakes & a pinch of salt, again left overnight to develop the flavour, and it worked very well! The aubergine flesh really lightens up the density of the root vegetables, and a squeeze of lemon juice is always good with carrots. I keep dipping a spoon into it quite happily πŸ™‚ 

As I had so many roasted carrots, I also created this sauce by blending roasted carrot, roasted red onion, roasted garlic, olive oil and some of my own harissa. 

And this one, which is made up of roasted carrots, roasted red onions, passata, olive oil, garlic, chilli flakes, and a spice mix of ground roasted cumin seeds, roasted caraway seeds and roasted coriander seeds. 

I blended this with some added water but still kept it quite thick and ate some heated and topped with goats cheese, alongside some sweet potato wedges. I aim to use it as a sauce or spread, I’m sure it would make a tasty soup with added liquid. 

And so ends my collection of sauces from this week, I hope you have found one or some of them interesting. It’s just a case of chucking things together and seei what emerges really! 

Happy Friday and happy weekend πŸ™‚ 

Right, I’m heading over to Fiesta Friday to start reading as soon as it kicks off…

The butternut squash wedges files…

In my last post I shared a butternut squash kibbeh, and I casually stated how I threw together my kibbeh mixture and that I used roasted butternut squash. I thought I’d clarify something about that point: I usually have a ready stock of roasted butternut squash to hand, hence how it was easy enough to throw the dish together…I shall explain…

I routinely buy large butternut squashes (Costco is good for them in the U.K.) and I cut them into wedges (or in half if they’re smaller), remove the seeds, and roast them. I don’t peel them, I don’t use oil, just put them in a hot oven, usually when I’m cooking something else too, and leave them until I’m happy with them. 

Before

After

Usually I’ll eat some of the freshly roasted squash at the time of cooking, and then I leave the rest of it to cool down and store it in the fridge. This way, I can pull a couple of wedges out and reheat them for lunches, or scrape the flesh from the skin and use them in recipes, like the kibbeh or thick soups. Having them already roasted means that the wedges can be reheated really quickly in the oven and the edges crisp up nicely and they make a great base for all sorts of toppings…

This is basically my alternative to a baked potato I guess – but with more flavour as far as I’m concerned. Or they can be loaded up like nachos or tacos, or spread with goats cheese instead of bread, or just drizzled with tahini. Or chopped up to be part of a salad, warm or cold, or added to cooked grains…I could happily go on and on….

Or used to throw together an easy kibbeh, as I did again this weekend…

So I’m not sharing a recipe today, but more a kitchen habit that I find useful and that I thought I would share. I like having a fridge full of things made and ready to go, because when I get hungry I need to eat right then! So along with endless dips and sauces and middle eastern style ‘salad’ concoctions, you’ll often find a tub of butternut squash wedges in my fridge πŸ™‚ 

I think I’ll add this to my ‘pimp your veg‘ collection…have a good week! 

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 πŸ™‚ 

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 jalapeΓ±os, 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?! πŸ™‚ 

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

Cauliflower and chickpeas β€

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 πŸ™‚ 

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!