Almond Milk, and Soft Cheese

My youngest daughter never got into drinking cow juice, and shifted to drinking almond milk at a pretty young age. This version doesn’t taste particularly almond-like, but if you want your milk to taste more of almonds, use those with the skins still on. We found that the soft cheese was better made from the skinless slivered almonds, so which you choose depends on what you’re really after. This milk isn’t sweet; we don’t think that it needs it, although you certainly could add some after straining if you wanted to.

The soft cheese needs the oil adding to it. For some reason, it brings out the flavors and makes the texture smoother and richer.

This recipe is quick and easy to make (once the almonds have soaked).

For the almond milk:

  • 1/2 cup slivered or raw almonds , soaked overnight then rinsed
  • 2 1/2 cups water
  • small pinch of salt for the almond milk

For the soft cheese:

  • almond meal left over from milk production
  • 1/8 tsp lactic acid
  • 1/8 tsp salt
  • 1/2 tsp chickpea miso
  • 1 tbsp neutral flavor oil

Remove the almond skins (if present) by pinching each one between two fingers. The nut meat will shoot out like a lemon pip. Drain and rinse the almonds.

Put the almonds in a high speed blender with half the measured water for a minute, and blend until smooth.

Line a sieve/chinois with muslin over a clean container, and pour the almond mixture through the muslin to remove the almond pulp. Use the remaining water to rinse the blender out into the muslin. Leave to drain for a couple of minutes, then twist the muslin briefly to squeeze out the remaining milk.

Add the salt and any optional sweetener for the milk to the milk, and store in the refrigerator until needed.

Scrape the almond pulp out of the muslin into a bowl. Add the remaining cheese ingredients. Beat together with a fork; if the mixture is too dry, add a small amount of white wine or almond milk. This will keep in the fridge for at least 2-3 days.

Beyond Bolognese

Vegetarian Bolognese with Gluten Free Pasta

Bolognese is one of those dishes that my husband has always been partial to, and particular about! The advent of Beyond Meat products has reconnected us with it, and he is very happy about that.

Many bolognese recipes call for celery and carrots, but he’ s not at all keen on this idea, so I leave them out. There is a general agreement in our household that sliced mushrooms (~4 oz) fried up with the onions is a good variation, so I occasionally do that, too.

Serves 2 well

  • 1 tsp margarine or oil
  • 3 oz (1/4 large or 1/2 medium) onion, diced
  • 1 large clove garlic, minced
  • 8 oz Beyond Meat mince
  • 1/8 tsp black pepper
  • 1/2 tsp salt (or to taste)
  • small pinch of nutmeg
  • 1 bay leaf
  • 14 oz diced tomatoes
  • 3 tbsp tomato paste
  • 4 fl oz (1/2 cup) unsweetened, plain almond or soy milk (home made or commercial)
  • 4 fl oz (1/2 cup) dry white wine

If you’re going to use home made non-dairy milk, make sure you’ve made it first.

Heat the fat in a large pot, and fry the onion over a medium-low heat until softened and browned (~5-10 mins).

Add the minced garlic to the pan, and warm through for a minute.

Add the Beyond meat to the onions. Break it up into small chunks with the side of a fork or stiff spatula, and stir over a medium heat until it has released its oil, and has started to brown. (~5 mins)

Add the remaining ingredients (including the non-dairy milk, but not the pasta) to the mixture, bring to a simmer, and then cook uncovered over a medium-low heat until the tomato dice have disintegrated into a sauce. (~30 mins)

Cook the pasta, and serve it topped with the hot bolognese sauce.

Roasted Veggie and Garlic Soup

This soup is a delicious, vibrant, and very filling concoction. It is an adaptation (and less calorific, weight watchers friendly version) of a recipe that a friend forwarded to me from: https://www.simplyquinoa.com/30-minute-roasted-garlic-cauliflower-chowder/

Blended chickpeas give the soup broth some body, and the quinoa and unblended vegetables offer texture and flavor variation.

Warming and filling
  • cooking spray
  • 1 lb cauliflower, medium sized florets
  • 6-8 oz onion, cut into large sections
  • 1 garlic bulb

Preheat the oven to 400F.

Use the cooking spray to grease a cookie sheet / baking tray.

Clean up the cauliflower and place on one end of the cookie sheet / baking tray. Lightly spray with cooking oil.

Put the onion on the other end of the cookie sheet. Lightly spray with cooking oil.

Cover the garlic bulb lightly with baking foil (one layer only or the cooking time will be different) and place between the onion and cauliflower.

Place the cookie sheet on the top shelf in the oven, and cook the veggies until soft and lightly browned (~20 mins).

Once soft, squeeze the garlic cloves out of their cases, and put into the blender.

Put the quinoa and 1/2 the roasted cauliflower in a large saucepan to one side, then all the other ingredients into the blender along with 2 cups (16 fl oz) of the water. Blend until smooth.

Pour the soup out of the blender into the saucepan with the quinoa, and use the remaining 2 cups (16 fl oz) water to rinse the blender out into the saucepan.

Reheat and serve hot.

Sweet, Almond Sauced Curry

This wet curry is mildly spicy, with slight floral tones from the fresh ginger and raisins. Since the vegetables are cooked separately before adding the curry sauce, you can use left over plain veggies, here. I like to serve mine on a bed of basmati or jasmine rice which has been cooked up with a good pinch of ground turmeric to give it a rich, golden hue. I’ve made this one vegan by using raisins, but honey could also be used as a sweetener, though you would need a lot of it!

Initially, when I made this curry, I used an awful lot of honey, and an awful lot of almonds. I rather balked at both the cost and the calories, and found that ground almonds simply didn’t have a strong enough flavor on their own to be noticed over the spices and chili, anyway. On top of that, the large amount of ground almond in the sauce tended to make it stodgy. My husband assured me it was supposed to be like that, but I decided that substituting raisins for the honey, and using almond essence were a good way to go, and I let him add the ground almonds to his curry, separately.

Tips:

  1. Blending the sauce thoroughly will tend to thicken it slightly before it even reaches the saucepan.
  2. Slicing the fresh ginger across the grain before adding it to the blender makes it easier to avoid ginger strings being left in the sauce, though a microplane works even better.
  3. Adding the vegetables towards the end of cooking allows their flavors to remain distinct.
  4. Adding the almond flour just before serving retains its flavor better.
  5. This curry should be pleasantly hot. Jalapeños vary wildly in how hot they are. I’ve stated 1/2 a fresh jalapeño in the recipe, but the other day I had a mild batch and had to use 1 1/2 chilies to get the right heat.
  6. This curry should also be mildly sweet. If the raisins aren’t making it sweet enough, add up to about 1/4 cup sugar.

Variation: Use 4 oz of soy curls instead of the potatoes and green beans by putting it into a bowl with the liquid smoke (if using), and barely covering with water to rehydrate (for 10 mins or as per packet instructions), then adding to the onion and mushrooms to fry when the former are nearly finished cooking.

Serves 6

  • 1 lb baby/diced waxy potatoes
  • 8 oz green beans
  • 1 tbsp coconut oil (or other cooking oil)
  • 1/2 large onion (6-8 oz), 3/4″ cubes
  • 8 oz mushrooms, 3/4″ cubes
  • 1/2 fresh jalapeno chili, deseeded (or to taste)
  • 1/2 – 1 oz fresh ginger, skinned and cut into thin slices across the grain or grated on a microplane
  • 14 oz can of coconut milk (not low fat)
  • 4 oz (~1 cup) raisins, or similar volume of honey
  • 14 oz can of diced tomatoes
  • 4 oz tomato paste
  • 1/2 tsp liquid smoke
  • 3/4 tsp almond extract/essence
  • sugar to taste
  • 1 tsp salt (or to taste)
  • 2 tbsps garam masala
  • 1/2 tsp amchur (ground, dried mango)
  • 1 tsp ground ginger
  • 1/4 tsp ground cardamon
  • 1/4 cup ground almonds/ almond flour per person

Bring a pot of salted water to the boil, and add the potatoes and green beans. Simmer until the potatoes are cooked but not disintegrating, and the beans are soft.

Warm the oil in a medium sized saucepan over a medium high heat, then add the onion and cook for 5 minutes, stirring frequently.

Turn the heat up to high, and add the mushrooms to the onion. Cook for another 5 minutes, stirring frequently.

Put the fresh chili, fresh ginger, coconut milk, raisins, tomatoes, and liquid smoke, almond essence, and sugar into a blender, and blend until completely smooth. Check the flavor, and blend in more jalapeno / raisins / honey / sugar, if desired.

Gather together the salt and spices, then sprinkle them over the onions and mushrooms, and allow to cook for a minute while stirring.

Drain the vegetables (or soy ‘meat’, if using), and add them to the onion and mushroom mix. Stir to coat.

Pour the tomato/coconut mixture into the saucepan, and stir. Bring to a simmer, remove from the heat, then either stir in the almond flour just before serving hot over rice, or hand round the almond flour so diners can add it themselves.

Gluten Free British Pancakes/Crepes

British style pancakes filled with apple sauce and the less British maple syrup.

I’m pretty sure you can make gluten free British pancakes just by substituting a gluten free flour blend for wheat in a standard recipe, but many of those flour blends are a nutritional desert and disappointingly bland, in my opinion, which is why I like to use cashews in the batter.

These pancakes are similar to my galette recipe, except they’re slightly richer with the additional egg, slightly milder tasting due to swapping out the buckwheat flour for some sorghum, and slightly sweeter due to the reduced salt.

They make a great dessert to follow a galette entree, and both are good for casual entertaining as the pancake mixtures and filling options need to be made ahead, and people can gather, chat, and choose which fillings they’d like next, while watching the pancakes being made or even taking it in turns to have a go.

I like to make my pancake mix in the blender. Unlike wheat flour recipes, you don’t run the risk of making tough pancakes by over mixing/blending the batter because there’s no gluten to develop. If you don’t have a blender, then you’ll need to use the nut flour rather than the raw nuts, and little by little stir the wet ingredients into the dry ingredients which have been gathered in a large bowl.

Fillings to consider: Nutella; freshly squeezed lemon and sugar; apple compot.

  • 3 oz raw cashews (or cashew flour/meal)
  • 10 fl oz water
  • 2 oz sorghum flour
  • 2 1/2 oz potato/tapioca starch
  • 1 egg
  • 1/4 tsp salt
  • 2 tsps sugar

Into the blender, put the cashews and enough of the measured water to barely cover the cashews, and process until completely smooth. Add the remaining ingredients, and process until amalgamated, scraping down the sides if necessary.

Heat a griddle, or frying pan with low sides (I like cast iron), on medium low with a smear of oil. It should be hot enough such that when you flick water droplets off your fingers onto the oil, it should sizzle.

Pour about 1/4 cup (2 fl oz) of batter into the center of the pan, and quickly spread it as thinly as possible into a round with the back of a spatula or a traditional French T-shaped spreader. Once the bottom has browned lightly (1-2 mins), slip a spatula or pancake paddle under one edge of the pancake, flip it to cook the other side, and place any fillings on the top. Fold each side over the filling to make a roll, or fold like a traditional crepe: first into a semicircle, then fold in half again to form a 90 degree section.

Remove the pancake from the cooking surface for immediate eating, re-grease with a smear of oil, and start again with the next pancake for the next diner.

Ramen Noodle Soup

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My eldest daughter left home, this year, and has been joking about living on ramen, so I figured we had to come up with a quick cooking healthy version that contains real vegetables and no msg!

We managed quite a few variations as we closed in on what we liked best. When I first made it, I sliced hard boiled egg onto the top of the soup rather than coddling the egg in it, and also used commercially produced garlicky hot sauce in the broth rather than the garlic, Braggs, sugar, root ginger, and chili. This version uses ingredients that are more universally available, and reduces the number of pans used. It’s also less labor intensive.

Jeanette's Ramen
Ramen with sliced boiled egg rather than poached egg.

We determined that cooking the ramen in the vegetable broth thickens the broth slightly. It just so happens that 2 ramen cakes (140g/5oz dry pasta, total) to 4 cups of water gives us about the right consistency. My girls also had me adjust the ratio of vegetable to noodles. We all figured that there needed to be more veggies than the commercial varieties offered, but I did over do it to start off with.

I’ve found it a pretty useful recipe as the vegetables included are easily adjustable. I add the veggies in two batches: longer cooking vegetables such as onion, carrot, cauliflower, sweet bell pepper, and mushrooms go in first and get sautéed then simmered, and then quicker cooking vegetables such as broccoli and cabbage go in the pan just before the broth, and so get a quick coating of oil to help them retain their shape during the 5 minutes simmering.

As for the amount of chili used, if I’m cooking for my youngest who doesn’t like spicy food, I use 1/2 a fresh jalapeño and pass round the sriracha sauce bottle to the others. If I’m cooking for my eldest who loves spicy food, I’ll use a whole jalapeño or 1/2 a fresh red serrano chili, at which point it’s as hot as I care to have mine (if not slightly hotter). The moral of the story is that you’ll probably have to adjust to taste.

The noodles I use are commercially prepared, gluten free, millet and brown rice ones from Costco. However, you could substitute freshly made pasta, if you wish. Interestingly, I added the miso because I felt that the broth was a bit ‘thin’ on flavor, and miso rounds it out very nicely.

Serves 3-4

14-16 oz firm tofu, drained (optional)
1 tsp salt (for the tofu, optional)
1/2 tsp black pepper (for the tofu, optional)
1 tsp onion powder (for the tofu, optional)
1 tsp garlic powder (for the tofu, optional)

2 large cloves garlic
1/2 – 1 inch fresh root ginger, skinned
1/4 – 1/2 jalapeño, deseeded (or to taste, see note above)
1 tbsp brown sugar
2 tbsp brown rice miso
3 tbsp Braggs, or other GF soy sauce

1-2 tsp sesame/coconut oil
4 oz mushrooms (or other veggies: see comment, above)
4 oz broccoli florettes, cut small

2 GF ramen cakes (5 oz total, when dry)
3-4 eggs (one per person)
fresh cilantro/leaf coriander for garnish

If you’re using the tofu, drain it, and cut into small dice. You can either use it as is, or toss it in the tofu seasoning, then cook: Coat a baking tray with cooking spray/oil. Spread the tofu cubes on the tray, and place under a hot grill/broiler, tossing occasionally, until lightly browned.

Put 1/2 liter / 16 fl oz / 2 cups of water into a blender along with the garlic, ginger, chili, sugar, miso, Braggs/soy sauce, and blend until there are no large lumps.

In a medium sized saucepan, warm the oil, then fry the harder vegetables for 5 minutes. Add the softer vegetables to the harder vegetables, and cook for another 5 minutes, stirring frequently.

Add the contents of the blender to the saucepan, and use another 1/2 liter / 16 fl oz / 2 cups water to rinse the blender out into the saucepan.

Bring the soup to a simmer, then add the ramen cakes (push them to the bottom), and crack the eggs towards the edge of the simmering broth. Keep the soup simmering very gently for 4-6 minutes or until the ramen are cooked and the egg whites have solidified.

Serve in individual bowls with one egg per bowl, and garnished with chopped fresh cilantro, and tofu if using. Hand round the sriracha sauce and Braggs/soy sauce for diners to adjust to taste.

Fresh Gluten Free Pasta

Fresh pasta with Ranchero Sauce

Fresh gluten free pasta with Ranchero Sauce

As it turns out, making fresh gluten free pasta is remarkably satisfying for the amount of effort that it takes to make. The amount of time that it takes to gather ingredients, knead them together and roll the dough out isn’t actually much more time than it takes to boil the water, so using dried commercial pasta isn’t much of a time saving – especially since this takes 4-5 minutes to cook instead of ~9 minutes for dried.

The pasta itself is far more satisfying than dried pasta, too, though right now I don’t have the wherewithal to make fusilli, nor the patience to make farfalle, so that still requires bought pasta. This pasta is mild in flavor, though not bland; it has a satisfying and not too delicate (aka flimsy) texture, and it doesn’t appear to be too fussy about how long it gets cooked for, either.

Although this recipe doubles or triples perfectly easily, make sure not to over crowd the pan when boiling the pasta as it will be more likely to stick to itself.

Serves 1 well, or 2 if serving with a bulky sauce

1 oz (1/4 cup) bean flour
1 oz (1/4 cup) potato/tapioca starch
1/3 tsp xanthan gum
1/4 tsp salt
1 large egg

Mix the dry ingredients together.

 

Crack the egg into the dry ingredients, and stir in with a butter knife. Initially, there won’t appear to be enough egg, but once there’s no egg apparent, use your hands to bring the dough together and briefly knead.  You’ll end up with a fairly stiff and slightly sticky dough.

Roll out as thinly as possible and cut into strips (or other desired shape), or use a pasta maker.

Bring a pot of salted water to the boil (~3 pints, more if you’re doubling or tripling the recipe), add the pasta and cook for 4-5 minutes.

Drain well and serve with your favorite pasta sauce.

Basic Bowl

Basic BowlTo be honest, this is just a template. A tasty template, but one that is open to countless variations. This is a bowl of rice and beans with various accoutrements. It’s very satisfying, tasty, and nutritious, and we love it!

Basic rice and bean bowl ingredients.

Clockwise from top left: lettuce, crispy tofu, black bean chili, fresh tomato, yummy sauce, green salsa, avocado chunks, brown rice, and black olives in the center.

Serves 3-4

1 cup brown rice
1/2 tsp salt

2 cans black beans
1″ chipotle chilies in adobo sauce
1/4 tsp salt

14-16 oz firm tofu
3/4 tsp salt
3/4 tsp onion powder
2 tsp nutritional yeast
cooking spray

yummy sauce
salsa (home-made or commercial)
lettuce, shredded
fresh tomato, diced
black olives, halved
fresh cilantro to garnish
1 avocado

Put the rice in a saucepan with double the volume of water (2 cups) and 1/2 tsp of salt, and put to one side to soak for at least 1/2 hour.

Cover the rice, bring to a simmer, and cook until almost all the water has been absorbed. Turn off the heat, leave the rice covered to finish cooking in its own steam.

Drain the black bean liquid into a blender. Put the beans in a medium sized saucepan, and the chipotle chilies and salt in the blender with the bean juice.
Blend the bean juice, then pour it into the saucepan with the beans and bring to a simmer. Turn off the heat, and allow to steep.

Cut the tofu into 1/2″ cubes, put in a mixing bowl, and dry the surface of the tofu with a couple of paper towels. Sprinkle the salt, pepper, onion powder, and nutritional yeast over the tofu, toss to coat. Bring a grill/broiler up to high heat. Spray a baking sheet with cooking spray, add the tofu, and place ~6″under the grill/broiler. Toss around on the baking sheet at intervals to encourage even browning, until the tofu is crispy on most sides.

Assemble the bowls: Put a quarter of the rice in each bowl, top with a quarter of the drained beans. Put a large splash of the salsa across one side of the beans, and a large splash of the yummy sauce on the other. Arrange the lettuce, tomato, black olives, cilantro and avocado slices on top.

Yummy Vegan Dressing

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I should probably point out that I do not earn money from this blog, and so this endorsement is my actual opinion and does not include a mercenary bias. I got the idea for this salad/side dressing from Cafe Yumm! which has locations in Oregon and Washington, but not elsewhere. It’s a thick, pungent sauce for jazzing up salads & beans & rice & quinoa & suchlike. Cafe Yumm! sells the sauce in large bottles so you can make versions of their ‘bowls’ at home, but since they don’t appear to sell the sauce online at the moment, if you don’t happen to live in either of those states, you’ll have to make your own!

This sauce is strongly flavored! The dominant flavors are lemon juice, thyme, nutritional yeast, and probably more lemon juice. The original appears to be almost an emulsion made with oil, which does make it taste gorgeous, but without the oil, this stuff looks like health food, so that’s what I aimed for, to start off with, until my youngest convinced me to try it with oil, and it really is better that way. The sauce is also not smooth, so you may want to only partially blend the chickpeas/garbanzo beans. However, I should point out that this doesn’t seem to have much punch if it’s turned into mayonnaise by blending the oil into the other ingredients, and the texture isn’t right, so I very briefly stir in the oil at the end.

I don’t know how long this sauce would last, but I’ve managed to keep a bowl of it in the fridge for a week without anything untoward happening.

One last point, make sure your oil is neutral flavored. I made the mistake of using olive oil once, and ended up pouring the whole lot away as it tasted far too strong.

1/2 cup almonds (or almond flour)
1/2 cup (8 tbsp) lemon juice
1/2 cup water or plain, unsweetened, soy milk
1 tsp dried thyme (I’m sure fresh thyme would be even better)
6 tbsp nutritional yeast
2 cloves garlic
1/2 tsp salt

3/4 – 1 cup (1/2 can) cooked chickpeas/garbanzo beans

1/2 cup neutral flavored oil

Put the almonds in the blender with the water/milk, lemon juice, thyme, nutritional yeast, garlic, and salt, and process until it’s as smooth as you can get it.

Add the chickpeas/garbanzo beans, and process until almost smooth.

Add the oil and process only long enough to combine (about 5 seconds on lowest setting, if that).

Chill before serving to thicken.

Garlicky Cauliflower Dhansak

Three bowls of Indian curry and yellow rice on wooden table.
Saag Tofu, Mushroom Dhansak, and turmeric rice.

This is my simplified version of dhansak, a lentil based Indian curry. I have made it with cauliflower, and I have also made it with mushrooms. Just substitute mushrooms for the cauliflower in this recipe. Both are good. I’ve also made it with split mung dal (when I found myself without lentils), and that worked well too. Unless they’re old, there’s no need to soak the mung: just put a lid on them while they’re cooking, and make sure they’re soft before you stir in the cauliflower.

Dhansak should be at least warm with the chili, but otherwise it can be as hot as you care to make it. It is dominated by a deeply earthy tone with sweet/sour accents supplied by the tamarind. It also happens to be my youngest daughter’s current favorite and one of the healthiest curries I make, being low in fat and high in fiber, beans, and vegetables. A real comfort food!

As with many curries, leftovers taste even better (and generally slightly hotter) the next day.

2 tbsp garam masala
1 tsp amchur
1/4 tsp cinnamon
1/2 tsp tamarind paste

1-3 tsp coconut oil
1/2 large onion, thinly sliced
1/2 – 1 fresh green jalapeno chili (or to taste), finely minced

8 oz red lentils, rinsed
1/3 recipe (~2 cups) curry base sauce or low fat curry base sauce

12 oz (1/2 large head) cauliflower, cut into thin florets OR sliced mushrooms
6 cloves garlic, finely minced

1 1/2 tsp salt
2 tbsp chopped, fresh coriander

Gather together the dried spices in a small bowl.

Heat  the oil in a large frying pan over a medium/high heat, and cook the onion and fresh chili, stirring occasionally, until browned (~20 minutes).

While the onions brown, put the lentils into a large saucepan with 16 fl oz (2 cup) of water and the curry base sauce; bring to a simmer and cook gently until softened. (~10 mins)

Add the cauliflower florets or mushrooms to the onion, and stir to coat with oil, and cook for 5 minutes.

Add the garlic to the onion, and allow to warm through for a minute.

Add the spices to the onion, and stir to coat.

Once the lentils have completely softened, scrape the vegetables into the lentil pot, add the salt, and simmer until the cauliflower/mushrooms are just soft, and the lentils have almost disintegrated into a sauce.

Check for seasoning. If it looks at all dry (or the cauliflower hasn’t finished cooking), add a little more water and simmer for 2 minutes to integrate it (or until the cauliflower has finished cooking) before serving hot with rice or GF chapati, garnished with fresh chopped cilantro/leaf coriander.

Low Calorie, Vegan, Creamy, Pepper and Tomato Soup

A smooth, warming, lightly spicy soup, this is a great way to make use of the cauliflower stalk that so often gets thrown away. Note that this started off life as a way to use up the last bit of ranchero sauce that I had in the fridge one day when I was thinking fondly of a cream of tomato soup that I used to have as a child. If you find yourself in that situation, 8 floz / 1 cup / 1/4 litre ranchero sauce, 8 oz / 250g cauliflower cooked in 24 floz / 3 cups / 700ml of water with 1/2 tsp salt will get you a small amount of this soup in a jiffy.

Spicy Tomato and Pepper Soup

Makes ~13 cups / 3 liters of soup @ ~36kcals per cup

1 tsp margarine (I use Earth Balance) or cooking oil/spray
6 oz (1/2 of a large) onion, diced
1 lb / 454g red/yellow/orange sliced peppers (frozen is O.K.)
1 jalapeño chili, seeds removed and flesh roughly diced
1 lb / 450g cauliflower
2-3 cloves garlic, minced
1 tsp dried oregano
14 oz / 400g chopped tinned tomatoes, with juices
2 tsp salt
1 tbsp of sugar if necessary to counteract acidic tomatoes

Heat the oil in a saucepan over a medium high heat, then cook the onion, peppers/chili, and cauliflower until the onion is translucent (~10 minutes), stirring occasionally.

Add the garlic and allow it to warm through for a minute.

Add the remaining ingredients along with 32 fl oz / 4 cups/ 950 ml of water, and simmer until the cauliflower is soft (~10 minutes).

Blend until smooth; pour back into the saucepan and use another 16 fl oz / 2 cups / 475 ml of water to rinse the blender out into the saucepan.

Reheat, check seasoning, and serve hot.

Vegan Vegetable Korma

This is a mild, creamy, slightly sweet curry which is great for introducing kids to curry.

Korma 2

Vegan Vegetable Korma with turmeric tinted rice

One thing I have noticed about potatoes is that if you cook them in a tomato based sauce, they develop a tough skin that my kids are not keen on, so I cook the potatoes in boiling water before I add them to the dish. To be honest, this is a good way to use up left over cooked vegetables as the veggies used can be adjusted to suit your preference. Good contenders are mushrooms, peas, potato cubes, small cauliflower florets, green beans, carrot cubes, or fried tofu cubes as prepared for Tofu Florentine. Although you could add canned beans, I feel they’re a bit savory/heavy for a korma. Aim for 1.5 – 2lbs veggies in all.

For the record, I did try this dish using honey instead of sugar, and tamarind instead of lemon juice, but the more familiar ingredients actually tasted better. The less familiar amchur and star anise which I did use are easily available in specialty stores and Amazon.

Serves 4

12 oz potato, cut into 3/4″ cubes
4 oz green beans

1 tsp – 4 tbsp coconut or vegetable oil
3 oz (1/4 of a large) onion, diced
8 oz mushrooms, sliced or quartered
1/4 tsp salt for the mushrooms

1 1/2 cups curry base or lower calorie curry base
2 1/2 oz (1/2 cup) raw cashews
1/2 tsp lemon juice
1 tsp salt for the sauce
1 tbsp sugar (or to taste)

1/2 tsp garam masala
1/4 tsp ground cumin
1/4 tsp ground star anise
1 tsp amchur (dried mango powder)

1/4 cup chopped fresh coriander

Bring a medium pot of water to the boil, and add the potatoes and green beans (and any other veggies that you’ve added that can be cooked by simmering. e.g. cauliflower or carrots)

Bring back to a simmer, and cook until the potatoes have softened but are not falling apart. (~10 minutes)

Put the curry base, cashews, lemon juice, salt, and sugar, into a blender or food processor, and process until smooth.

Heat the oil in a large frying pan over a medium high heat, then add the onion and mushrooms, sprinkle with 1/4 tsp of the salt, and sauté until the onion starts to become translucent, and the mushrooms soften.

Sprinkle the spices over the cooked onions, and allow to warm through for a few seconds.

Drain the potatoes and green beans, and scrape the onion and mushroom mixture into the potatoes; scrape the smooth sauce out of the blender and into the pan with the vegetables.

Use 4 fl oz (1/4 cup) of water to rinse the blender out into the saucepan.

Heat through, adjust consistency with more water if needed to produce a sauce that clings and runs, and seasonings to taste, then serve hot with a generous leaf coriander garnish, and plain cooked rice or chapatis.

Low Fat Curry Base Sauce

Low fat curry base sauce

This recipe was updated Feb 2020 to reflect an increase in spices that I have been enjoying.

I developed this recipe from my Curry Base Sauce recipe in the hopes that members of my family who are keeping an eye on their weight would be able to join in. It just so happens that this version is also quicker to make without any obvious reduction in flavour, though I would think it’s a bit less rich.

Initially, I tried making a low fat curry base just by ditching the fat, and I  made a couple of batches which got thrown away because they were bitter. In the original recipe, quite a lot of oil is used, and as the tomatoes cook the oil rises to the surface along with some bitter flavors which get skimmed off towards the end (yes, I did taste the froth – it was not good). Nothing rises to the top in this recipe, as there’s very little oil used, and the bitter flavor stayed in the tomatoes. It took a bit of detective work to figure out that the problem was with the fresh ginger, and once I’d substituted dried ginger for the fresh, I was in business again with making curries.

Quantity good for ~3 curry recipes.

  • Coconut cooking oil spray or 1 tsp coconut oil
  • 1 lb (1-1.5 large) onions, skinned and thickly sliced
  • 1 tsp turmeric
  • 1 tsp paprika
  • 1/4 tsp fennel
  • 1/8 tsp cloves
  • 1/2 tsp powdered ginger (not fresh!)
  • 1 oz fresh garlic, skinned and roughly chopped
  • 8 fl oz (1 cup) tinned tomatoes in juice

Heat the oil in a medium sized saucepan.

Fry the onions over medium heat until starting to brown, stirring frequently.

Add the spices and garlic, and allow to heat through for a minute.

Add the tomatoes to the onions, add two cups of water, and  cook for 10-15 minutes until everything has softened.

Scrape all the ingredients into a blender, and process until smooth. Adjust consistency with water to make 40-48 fl oz (5-6 cups) of sauce, if necessary.

This can be stored in the fridge for several days. I use it for chana masala, korma, cauliflower dhansak, saag tofu.

Tofu Lettuce Wraps

I got the idea for this appetizer from P.F. Chang’s restaurant. Unfortunately, their version is not gluten free, so I haven’t had it for years. My version is ridiculously easy to make. When I first made it, I used 3 tbsp of gluten free soy sauce, which was verging on too salty, even for me …. but if you like salt, and want that flavor kick, then 3 tbsps works well; these can also be added to salads to provide salty, tangy highlights, if you do that.

… and if you’re interested, this total recipe works out at 360kcals plus that needed for lettuce (or peppers etc.) that’s used for scooping.

Grlled tofu

Serves 3 as an appetizer

1 (~14 oz) packet of firm tofu, drained
2 tbsp Braggs Aminos (or other gluten free soy sauce)
1 tbsp Hoisin Sauce (check for gluten first)
1/8 tsp ground ginger
cooking spray or oil for the pan
1 iceberg/cos/romaine lettuce

Slice the tofu into 1/4″ thick cubes.

Pour the Braggs into a large bowl, stir in the hoisin sauce and ginger, and then add the cubed tofu. Stir to coat. You can check the seasoning at this point.

Pre-heat the broiler/grill (not the BBQ variety).

Spray a baking sheet with the cooking spray (or smear with the oil) and tip the tofu out onto it, spread so that the layer is only one cube deep.

Put the tofu ~5″ under the grill/broiler and cook until browned and chewy, stirring occasionally to prevent sticking and encourage even browning. (~10-15 mins)

Serve in a bowl with an iceberg or romaine/cos lettuce on the side. Eat by spooning a small amount of the tofu into an individual lettuce leaf, and eat as finger food.

Saag Tofu (Spinach and Tofu Curry)

This curry is for spinach lovers, and is utterly delicious. It started out as my version of Saag Paneer (which I’ve never tasted as I can’t eat the Paneer cheese) … so this isn’t a vegan Saag Paneer … it’s a dish in its own right. It’s mildly hot, with sweet undertones from the fried onion and tomato in the curry base sauce.

Saag Tofu

Serves 4 with accompaniments

1 (14 oz) pkt of firm tofu
1 lb frozen spinach, defrosted and drained
3/4 tsp salt for the spinach
1 tbsp coconut oil/Earth Balance margarine
1/4 large (3-4 oz) onion, finely diced

1/8 tsp nutmeg
2 tsp garam masala
1/8 tsp chili powder, or to taste

3/4 tsp salt for the tofu

1/8 cup raw cashews
1 1/2 cups curry base sauce or lower calorie curry base

Drain the tofu and cut into 1/2″ cuboids.

DSC_0004Lay a clean cloth kitchen towel on the work-surface, and line it with kitchen paper. Arrange the tofu on the kitchen paper, cover the tofu with more kitchen paper, then fold the towel over the top to help soak up excess moisture. Leave this for 1/2-3 hours. The tofu will have firmed up and have a drier surface when it’s ready, which makes it less likely to stick in the pan while it’s frying.

Put the spinach in a saucepan along with the salt for the spinach. Heat over high heat to remove excess moisture.

Heat 1/2 the fat in a frying pan over medium high heat; add the tofu, sprinkle over with the salt for the tofu, and cook (turning frequently) until the tofu starts to brown and become crispy on the outside. If it sticks to the pan at all, scrape it off with a thin edged spatula (these bits taste good, too).

Once the tofu has become crispy / chewy, scrape it out into the spinach, melt the remaining fat in the frying pan, and fry the onion over medium heat until completely soft and starting to brown (~15 minutes). Add the nutmeg, garam masala, and chili powder at this point, stir to combine (and allow to warm through), then scrape into the spinach saucepan.

Put the curry base sauce and the cashews into a blender, and blend until smooth. Add this to the spinach, stir and heat, then serve hot with rice or GF chapati.

Chana Masala (Chickpea/Garbanzo Bean Curry)

Chana MasalaThis dish is super easy and quick to make once the Curry Base Sauce has been prepared. It’s even better if it’s been allowed to sit for a while and then reheated, as the flavors combine and seep into the beans. It’s mildly hot, and is good for about 4 people when served with rice, or a vegetable side such as my Aubergine Curry. My husband made the suggestion that small chunks of dried apricot would also be a good addition (and it is … we tried it), however, mango chutney on the side is really all that is required … but regardless of whether apricots are added or not, daughter #2 is a happy girl. She loves British Indian Restaurant style curries!

1/2 oz (1/8 cup) raw cashew nuts
2 cups of curry base sauce or lower calorie curry base
1/2 – 1 tsp salt
1/8-1/4 tsp chili flakes or 1/4 fresh jalapeno or to taste
2 tsp garam masala
2 cans garbanzo beans/chickpeas, drained

Put the cashews, curry base sauce, salt, chili flakes, and garam masala together in a blender, and process until smooth.

Scrape the sauce into a saucepan, and use  4 fl oz (1/4 cup) water to rinse the blender out into the saucepan.

Add the beans, and simmer until hot.

Serve hot with chapati, or basmati rice and mango chutney.

Curry Base Sauce

I do like curry. The authentic stuff is ok, but the stuff that I love is the British Indian Restaurant kind which can be fabulous! Apparently, restaurants generally rely on a curry base sauce which allows the production of many different curries really quickly as it contains ingredients common to many curries: onion, garlic, ginger, a few basic spices. It’s a base flavor that you tweak when making the actual dish, a bit like a flavored broth/stock. The secret is to have a spice combination that you particularly like … and not to skimp too much on the oil! If you do need a lower calorie (and faster) version, I have developed such a thing!

Oil: Apart from the taste aspect of the oil, it seems to help in the last section where everything has been blended together and you’re skimming off froth which is sometimes quite bitter. I tried to make an oil free version once, and ended up putting it in the bin!

Onion: I’ve also seen recipes that simply boil the onions to start off with, but once you’ve had your house filled with the smell of boiled onions, you won’t want to do it again. Don’t talk to me about authenticity …. I won’t be boiling any more onions as I’d like my husband to continue living with me.

Salt: Note that my version doesn’t contain any salt. This is not a mistake. Some of the dishes that I’d want to use it in require salt in their preparation (such as salting aubergine/eggplant or mushrooms to draw out their juices), and I’d rather put it in at that stage, than risk putting in too much.

Garlic: Generally, I expect to buy bulbs of garlic and peel the cloves as and when I need them, as they keep better this way.  However, for this dish I find the ready peeled stuff really useful! My store (Trader Joe’s) sells ready peeled garlic in 1 oz packets! So convenient! I don’t even have to weigh them.

Blender: I use the blender 3 times in moderately quick succession in this recipe … and am going to admit that I don’t do anything more than rinse it out into the pot between uses. The flavors are all going to end up in the same dish, anyway.

This recipe makes enough for 2 – 4 family meals, depending on how much the chosen recipe uses. I wouldn’t want to make it in any smaller quantities, though. Check out these recipes that use it (this list will get longer as time goes by): Chana Masala (Chickpea/garbanzo bean Curry), Saag Tofu, Vegan Vegetable Korma.

Makes 4-5 cups of curry base (~190kcals/cup).

1 + 3 tbsp coconut oil/Earth Balance/vegetable oil
1 lb (1-1.5 large) onions, skinned and thickly sliced
8 fl oz (1 cup) tinned tomatoes in juice
1/2 tsp turmeric
1/2 tsp paprika
1/8 tsp fennel
1/16 tsp cloves
1 oz (~2″) fresh ginger, peeled
1 oz (just less than 1 bulb) fresh garlic, skinned

Heat 1 tbsp of the fat in a large saucepan; cook the onion gently over a medium heat in the fat for 20 minutes until completely soft and browned, stirring occasionally.

Put the tomato into the blender, and blend until completely smooth.

Gather the dried spices together into a small bowl.

Curry base oil

Note the oil separating out on the right hand side of the pan.

Heat 3 tbsp of the fat in a second saucepan. Add the spices to this second saucepan, and almost immediately add the blended tomato to prevent the turmeric from burning. Cook this mixture for 10-15 minutes, stirring occasionally, until the fat can be seen separating out at the edges of the tomato or as smooth, dark patches on the top.

Put the ginger, and garlic into the blender with 8 fl oz of water, and blend until smooth.

Once the onion has completely softened and browned, pour the ginger and garlic into the onion pot. Rinse the blender out into the onion pot with another 8 fl oz of water. Simmer for about 20-30 minutes with a tight fitting lid (or 5 minutes at pressure in a pressure cooker) until the onion is almost disintegrating.

Put the cooked onion mixture into the blender, and blend until totally smooth.

Simmering curry base sauce. Note the pale colored froth that forms around the smooth sauce in the middle, and needs to be skimmed off.

Simmering curry base sauce. Note the  smooth sauce in the middle of the pale froth that needs to be skimmed off.

Pour the onion mixture into the tomato mixture. Stir once to combine, then simmer over a low heat for a further 20 – 40 minutes without stirring. During this time, skim off any froth that rises to the surface by dragging the edge of a metal spoon lightly over the surface; try to avoid stirring it in. This removes a harsh flavor. You’re not going to get all of it, but you should get as much as your patience can cope with.

Once the simmering has finished, cool the sauce, and store it in the fridge in air-tight containers, using as needed. I use mine up within a week. I’ve seen some recipes that say it’s OK to freeze this, but I also know that garlic changes its flavor quite dramatically in the freezer, so I’d rather use mine fresh.

Gluten Free Chapati

Chapati are Indian flatbreads, essentially wholewheat, Indian counterparts for Mexican tortillas.

They are tasty, slightly chewy, moist, and pliant, and are good for scooping up mouthfuls of curry. They’re also quick and easy to make. If you find they’re too stiff, they’re over cooked and you should raise the cooking temperature a little (so that they get their brown spots before drying out) or shorten the cooking time. I find that as I’m cooking more chapatis, the cast iron pan gets hotter and I have to turn down the heat so I have time to roll out a chapati while the previous one is cooking.

chapati

Quantities to serve 4
1 oz (1/4 cup) teff flour
1 oz (1/4 cup) garfava (or garbanzo bean) flour
2 oz (1/2 cup) tapioca flour
1/2 tsp salt
1/2 tsp baking powder
3/4 tsp xanthan gum
4 fl oz (1/2 cup) water

Preheat a griddle or cast iron frying pan on medium high heat (don’t use oil, these shouldn’t be fried).

Stir all the dry ingredients together in a bowl, then add the oil and water.

Beat all together with a butter knife until a smooth, soft, moist (but not too sticky) dough is formed. Add a little more water or flour as necessary.

Dust the work-surface with a little more of one of the flours. Take enough dough for one chapati (the size of a large egg or 1/4 of the dough), dust a rolling pin with the flour, and roll out the dough into an even, 8″ round.

Put the uncooked chapati onto the heated pan, and cook until small brown spots appear on the bottom (~2 minutes). Turn the chapati over, and cook on the other side for about a minute until it too has small brown spots on it.

Eat immediately, or place between two pieces of kitchen paper until you’re ready to eat, to prevent them drying out.

Almost Instant Vegan Cheese for Pizza

browned-pizza-slice

When the urge for pizza strikes in our household, it’s usually a fair rush to get it cooked and on the table … but that’s really only possible if the cheese, and tomato sauce are already made! The second easiest option for making pizza (after opening a jar of ready made pizza sauce and a packet of store bought cheese), is to have both available as blender foods. This cheese goes well with my instant pizza sauce.

1/2 cup raw cashews
1 tsp salt
3 tbsp tapioca starch
1 tsp white balsamic vinegar
1 tsp lemon juice OR 1/4 tsp lactic acid
1/4 tsp chickpea miso (or other light colored miso)

UNLESS you have a high speed blender, soak the cashews in water for about an hour before draining and continuing with the recipe.

Place all ingredients in a blender along with 12 fl oz (1 1/2 cups) water, and blend until completely smooth (~20 seconds).

Scrape the mix into a saucepan, and cook until bubbling, stirring frequently (especially as it starts to thicken) to prevent burning. Initially, the cheese will thicken where it touches the bottom of the pan, and will look a little lumpy, but just keep stirring and that will sort itself out.

Spoon dollops over the pizza as required, and brown the top under a grill/broiler.

Almost Instant Pizza Sauce

DSC_0024

…. and no, my daughter didn’t get the wine!

My daughter and I developed this pizza sauce after she ‘suffered’ a craving for take-out pizza after a particularly frustrating day at school. A little analysis of what it was that made the pizza what she wanted revealed a need for oily, cheesy fare, with a sauce that was pureed rather than chunky, and flavored with a hint of fennel. I’m pretty sure the original had tarragon rather than fennel in it, but since I was out of tarragon, fennel hit the mark … after a bit of time spent adjusting the seasonings, stirring, tasting, and conferring.

This recipe makes enough sauce for pizza to serve about 12 people generously, and is crazy fast to make for those emergency pizza moments. Pair it with pan fried pizza base and some dairy-free cheese.

1/2 large onion, diced
1 large clove garlic, crushed
28 oz tin tomatoes (whole/diced in juice)
2 tsp dried basil
1 tsp dried oregano
1 tsp fennel powder
1 tbsp sugar
1 tsp salt
3 tbsp tomato puree or similar volume of sun-dried tomatoes in olive oil
1/2 tsp chili flakes, or to taste

Blend all ingredients together until fairly smooth, then use to sauce pizza as required.

Chipotle Mushroom Sauce

Chipotle Mushrooms

Spicy, smokey, and delicious!

We’ve just got back from a 5 day jaunt to Mexico where we ate fruit and vegetables almost exclusively because most other dishes contained contraband. Although I did have a couple of occasions where I was craving carbs (for some reason, there wasn’t a tortilla chip in sight), I came back home with a slew of ideas for dishes to add to our repertoire, and I didn’t put on any weight!!!!!

The only non-main-stream ingredient here is Chipotle in Adobo Sauce, which is available in standard food stores in California and here in Washington, and I’m guessing it’s available pretty much everywhere in the States, but I’m not so sure about other places in the world. A quick Google search shows that amazon.co.uk sells it, so if you’re in England, you can get hold of it. You’ll probably want to freeze the chipotles that you don’t use here in a freezer bag or box, as you won’t be using a whole tin of the things in this dish.

This recipe is moderately hot by my standards. If you’re not into hot foods, reduce the amount of chipotle to 1 or 2 tsps and check before adding any more. I’ve eaten it scooped up on tortilla chips, and as a sauce with rice, but I think it could also be included as a side for any Mexican meal, or as a relish on a veggie burger.

Serves 2 as a main, or 4 as a side dish/relish

1 tsp margarine/oil
1/2 large (~6 oz) onion, diced
8 oz mushrooms, sliced
1/2 tsp salt
1 large/3 small cloves garlic, minced
1/2 tbsp chipotle in adobo sauce
8 fl oz (1 cup) tinned tomatoes

Heat the fat in a saucepan, and cook the onions for 5 minutes over a medium heat.
Wash and slice the mushrooms, and add them to the onion along with the salt, and continue cooking on a medium high heat, stirring occasionally, until the vegetables are completely soft.
Once the veggies are soft, add the garlic, and allow to warm through for a minute or two.
Put the chipotle in adobo sauce in the blender with the tomatoes, and briefly blend to get a chunky sauce.
Add the tomatoes to the mushrooms, and simmer for 5 minutes until the flavors have developed.

Vegan Bean and Vegetable Chili

vegetarian-chiliI don’t use meat substitutes much. The vast majority of the meat substitutes that I’ve seen include gluten for texture, stretch and bulk. We recently happened upon some gluten free, tinned vegan chili which my husband loves for chili cheese fries, but it doesn’t have anywhere near enough vegetables in it for my liking. Yes, I know! Chili cheese fries is an indulgence, not a health food ….. but here we can leave the indulgence for the potatoes, and the chili can be loaded with veggies and fiber, and just look and taste the part.

I also know that Textured Soy/Vegetable Protein has a bad name. Somewhere in the dim and distant past I read about it containing chemicals that you don’t really want to be eating, so we haven’t had it. Upon a more recent review, however, I found that the chemicals are indeed used in the standard version of TVP (apparently removed before it’s sold …. uh huh), but the organic stuff doesn’t even get a whiff of those chemicals in the first place. Yes, it is more expensive, but if it means I’m happy we can eat it and I can widen the variety of food stuffs that I can eat, and I have yet another way to present veggies to my kids, then that’s the price I pay.

Serves 6-8

1 cup organic TVP/TSP
1 tbsp mushroom powder
1 1/4 tsp salt
1 tsp oil/margarine
1/4 of a large onion (1/2 cup), diced
1 lb mixed vegetables cut into <1″chunks (e.g. pepper strips, mushroom chunks, courgette/zucchini slices – quartered, tiny broccoli/cauliflower florets)
1 fresh jalapeños, finely minced or 1 tsp chili flakes
1 large clove garlic
1 tbsp ground coriander
1 tbsp paprika
1/2 tsp ground cumin OR 1/4 tsp caraway seeds (for a change)
1/4 tsp lemon juice
~14 oz diced tinned tomato in juice (this won’t look enough to start off with)
2 tbsp tomato paste OR minced sun-dried tomatoes
8 – 16 oz cooked, drained, pinto or black beans

Put the TVP, mushroom powder, and salt in a bowl, and stir in 1 cup of boiling water, and leave it to soak.

In a large pan, heat the fat and fry the onion and any hard vegetables (such as broccoli and cauliflower) for 5-10 minutes.

Once the onions have softened, add the garlic, and spices to them, and heat through for a few seconds, then add the remaining vegetables (except tomatoes) and cook for another 5-10 minutes until they too have started to soften.

Add the TVP, lemon juice, tomatoes, tomato paste, and beans, and simmer for 30 minutes, or until the juice has thickened and the TVP has browned slightly.

Adjust seasoning to taste, and serve in flat breads, with rice, crusty bread, jacket/baked potatoes, or (of course), chunky cut potato fries/chips and a sprinkling of vegan cheese.

Black Bean Enchiladas with Spiced Cashew Sauce

black-bean-enchiladasThis enchilada pie is remarkably similar to a lasagna … just with more hot peppers, and corn tortillas instead of pasta. The magic is in the spicy, creamy, cashew sauce which tops the pie. It makes a wonderful entree for a family or close friends’ dinner party, along with rice, salad, salsa and tortilla chips, and maybe vegetable fajitas and margaritas. You can ring the changes by substituting refried beans for the black bean chili.

Serves 5-6

1 batch of Black Bean Chili
2 batches of Ranchero Sauce
6 oz (1 1/2 cups) raw cashews
1 1/2 tbsp light colored chickpea or millet miso
1 1/2 tsp lemon juice
3/4 tsp salt
1/2 tsp crushed, dried chili pepper (or to taste)
pinch of nutmeg
10-12 six inch corn tortillas

Make the Black Bean Chili.

Make the Ranchero Sauce, and blend until roughly smooth.

Put cashews, miso, lemon juice, salt, chili pepper, nutmeg, and 16 fl oz (2 cups) of water into a blender, and blend until completely smooth.

Transfer the cashew sauce to a saucepan, and heat until thick and bubbling, stirring frequently.

Cover the bottom of a lasagna pan (~12″ x 8″) with 1/2 of the ranchero sauce.

Take one of the corn tortillas and place about 1/4 cup of black bean chili in a stripe down the middle, then roll the tortilla around the filling and place (seam side down) in the lasagna pan. Repeat with the other tortillas.

Spoon the remaining Ranchero Sauce over the enchiladas, followed by the cashew sauce. Cover lightly with parchment paper or tin foil, and bake at 200C (400F) for 50 minutes, or until heated through.

Banana Quick Bread

I had some bananas going begging, this week, which just demanded a recipe for banana bread. Daughter #2 was particularly fond of this loaf. It has a distinct banana flavor, and is moist and vaguely sweet, with more densely sweet pockets provided by the dried fruit. It slices well, and it’s also extremely easy to make!

Banana bread4 oz brown sugar
2 oz margarine
4 medium sized eggs
1 tbsp lemon juice
1 tsp cinnamon
10 oz blanched almond flour
5 oz tapioca flour
2 tsp baking powder
1 tsp baking soda
1/4 tsp salt
2 very ripe bananas
1 cup raisins or walnut pieces

Preheat the oven to 350F (this quick bread doesn’t take long to put together)

In a food processor, beat together the sugar and margarine.

Add the eggs one at a time, and process until combined.

Sprinkle the rest of the ingredients (except for the raisins/walnut pieces) over the egg mixture, and process to combine.

Add the raisins/walnuts, and process for about 5 seconds (or by hand) to combine.

Turn the mixture into two 1lb loaf pans greased or lined with baking parchment.

Cook for 60 minutes at 350F on the middle shelf, or until a toothpick inserted into the center of the cake comes out clean.

Allow to cool before eating.

Variation: Instead of baking in a loaf pan, smooth the batter into a silicone flan pan (same cooking time), and when the cake has cooled, fill it with bananas and custard made with 2-3 bananas.

Cooked flan case

GF Banana Bread flan case

GF Banana Bread flan case topped with bananas and custard.

GF Banana Bread flan case topped with bananas and custard.

Marinara Pasta Sauce for Grown-ups

Marinara and pastaThis isn’t your run of the mill marinara sauce that gets trotted out to kids as a standard in restaurants all over the U.S. The sun-dried tomatoes and black olives make this somewhat more sophisticated.

1 tbsp Earth Balance vegan margarine, olive oil, or oil used to store the sun dried tomatoes
1/2 large or 1 medium sized onion, finely diced
2 large cloves garlic
1 28 oz can of chopped tomatoes in juice
1 tsp salt
1/8 tsp ground black pepper
1 tsp dried basil
1/4 cup sun dried tomatoes in olive oil, minced
1/2 cup black olives, drained and cut in half
1-3 tbsp of sugar, depending on tartness of the tomatoes

Marinara sauce

This sauce is good with pasta and as a pizza sauce, if you’re looking for something a little different.

Warm the fat in a large saucepan, then gently fry the onion over a medium low heat, until it has completely softened and started to brown (~10-15 minutes)

Add the garlic, and allow to warm through for a couple of minutes.
Add the remaining ingredients, and simmer for 30 minutes until the tomato chunks have started to disintegrate, and the sauce is thick and rich.
Check seasoning, and add more sugar or salt as necessary.