Creamy, Spicy, Carrot and Coconut Soup

Spicy Carrot and Coconut SoupThis soup was inspired by the Thai curry that I’ve been making recently, at a time when I was considering making carrot soup. In keeping with that, I think garnishing it with fresh basil or cilantro (fresh coriander) leaves is an apt idea. It’s rich, smooth, and spicy hot, with deeper notes courtesy of the ginger. The 1/2 tsp of crushed red chile that I used made it as hot as I care to eat it, and hotter than daughter #2 appreciates, so adjust to taste.

1 tbsp coconut oil
1 lb carrots, scraped and chopped into dice (the pre-peeled baby ones make this dish pretty quick).
1/2 large onion, diced
1 tbsp ground coriander seed
1/4 tsp ginger powder
pared zest of ½ a large or 1 small lime
14 oz can of light coconut milk
½ pint of water
1 tsp lemon juice
1 tbsp brown sugar (depending on how sweet your carrots are)
1/4 -1/2 tsp crushed, dried red pepper (or to taste)
1/2 tsp salt

Melt the oil in a wide pan, add carrots, and fry over a medium heat for about 5-10 minutes, stirring occasionally.
Add the onion, and fry gently until both are slightly browned. They should start to sizzle instead of steaming, after a total of about 15 minutes.
Stir in the coriander, ginger, and lime zest, and warm through for a minute.
Add the remaining ingredients, and allow to simmer gently until the vegetables are perfectly soft (~10 minutes).
Blend in a high speed blender, or puree and pass through a chinois to make perfectly smooth.

Make up to 40 fl oz with more water (or to make it the consistency you like). Adjust seasonings, reheat, and serve.

Mushroom and Pecan Pate

Pate in lettuce

Vegan Mushroom Pate

This is a seriously easy recipe which makes a pretty sophisticated dish. It’s quick to make and then sits in the fridge happily for a few days, which makes it excellent for dinner parties. The texture starts off a bit fluffy, but firms up nicely after a day or two, giving that firm, squishable texture that pate has. The flavor is deeply savory.

Both my husband and I were quite taken with this, but neither of my kids liked it. I think their palates are too young, and having always been vegetarian, they’re not used to the deeper notes that you’d get from a meat pate, so I’ll keep this for the adults! If you want a more kid friendly mushroom pate, try this one.

1 tbsp garlic infused oil (or olive oil and 2 cloves minced garlic)
8 oz mushrooms, cleaned
1/2 tsp dried thyme
5oz firm tofu
4 oz (1 cup) pecans
2 tbsp Braggs or other GF soy sauce
1/4 tsp black pepper

Break the mushrooms into rough chunks, and process in a food processor until roughly minced.

Add the remaining ingredients, and process to a coarse pate (a few small pieces of nut are OK).

Decorated pate top

Decorated pate top

Press into an oven proof serving bowl (~6″x6″ and at least 2″ deep), and optionally decorate with thin slices of another mushroom pressed into the surface, and cook at 350F for 45 minutes.

Allow to cool and firm up completely, and chill uncovered, preferably for a day or two, until required.

Serve stuffed in lettuce leaves or celery sticks, on toast, or in sandwiches.

Vegetable Thai Curry

Curry! Wonderful stuff. Thai curries feel easier to make than the Indian ones, and they seem to be fresh rather than rich, which makes a lovely change. They also gravitate towards using coconut milk and oil rather than cream and butter, so making them dairy free is less of a stretch.

Thai Vegetable Curry

Traditional Red Thai Curry is made with dried red chilies, and Green Thai Curry is made with fresh green chilis. However, the amount of chili required to give a red color to the sauce would be way too spicy for my family, so I substitute the chilies with the appropriately colored fresh (non-spicy) peppers. The 1/2 tsp dried red chilies that I use here gives a heat that we can enjoy, though if I’m making it for daughter #2’s school lunch, I rely only on the ginger to give the required heat; adjust to your taste. Increase the red chili:bell pepper ratio, if you like yours hotter.

The non-sauce vegetables can be varied depending on what you have available. Substitute similar weights, and have the veggies more or less cooked by the time they are introduced to the sauce. For the most part, I select white/yellow/orange/red colored vegetables or tofu for this curry, as I think it looks more harmonious.

To make green curry, substitute fresh green peppers (including green chili pepper) for the red peppers in the sauce, blend half of the fresh coriander from the list of vegetables into the sauce, and choose green/white veggies (tofu/courgette(zucchini)/green or snap peas/potato/green pepper) to add to the sauce. It’s all about the color!

For the sauce:

2 tsps coconut oil
1/4 large onion, roughly chopped
~5 oz fresh red pepper, de-seeded and roughly chopped
2 lemongrass, chopped
1/2 tsp crushed, dried, red chili

1″ cube (err on the generous side) ginger, skinned
2 garlic cloves, skinned
1 tsp ground coriander
1/4 tsp cumin
1 lime (zest of whole lime + 1 tbsp juice)

3 tbsp brown sugar
1 tsp salt
1 can (~14 fl oz)  light coconut milk, divided

For the veggies:

8 oz (1 large) potato, 3/4″ dice
1/2 small head (8-10 oz) of cauliflower, cut into florets

coconut oil, as needed for frying
2 large carrots, sliced thinly on the diagonal
1/4 large onion, chopped into large dice
1 red/yellow/orange pepper, de-seeded and sliced lengthways
8 oz mushrooms, cubed

1 bay leaf

1/4 cup fresh basil leaves, roughly chopped
1/2 cup fresh coriander leaves, roughly chopped

cooked jasmine rice, to serve

Warm the coconut oil in a saucepan, and gently fry the onion, peppers, and lemongrass until soft (~10 minute).

Add the chili, grate the ginger and mince the garlic, and add those too. Stir in the ground coriander and cumin; Use a microplane to add the lime zest to the mixture. Add the salt and lime juice, and warm the lot for a minute.

Scrape this mixture into a blender; use 1/2 of the coconut milk to rinse the saucepan out into the blender, and blend until smooth. If the sauce still has small strings in it, pass it though a sieve or chinois, and return to the pan to warm. Rinse the blender out into the saucepan with the remainder of the coconut milk (through the sieve, if necessary).

Bring a large saucepan of salted water to the boil, and use it to cook the potato and cauliflower until they are just soft. Drain and put to one side.

Heat the coconut oil in a large frying pan, and cook the carrot, onion, peppers, and mushrooms until softened.

When you’re ready to eat, combine everything (including the herbs) together, and heat for 10 minutes until everything is hot, stirring gently. Serve with freshly cooked rice and hand round the gluten free soy sauce (I use Braggs Aminos).

Bolognese Sauce (Vegan)

Vegan Bolognese

Vegan Bolognese with a gluten free (quinoa and brown rice) pasta.

I’ve been ‘playing’ with a pecan and mushroom pate recently (along with a vegan version of teff bread), and it temporarily morphed into this pasta sauce.

Pecan Bolognese

Paler version using more coarsely ground nuts.

It’s one of those recipes where you more or less throw everything together, and then let it do its thing while you potter around doing yours. The mixture is rich from the nuts, with a deeply savory flavor that I normally associate with meat dishes. If you grind the nuts fairly finely, then the color is also a rich dark brown. This totally threw me when it first happened, as the previous versions had been significantly paler. Note that, if anything, this tastes better the next day. The nuts soften even further, and the flavors marry. It even got the thumbs up from my husband!

1 tbsp garlic oil (or olive oil and 1 clove garlic)
1/2 large red/yellow pepper (~3 oz flesh), sliced/diced
3 medium mushrooms, cut into 1/2″ dice
4 oz pecans/walnuts, coarsely ground
1 cup diced tomatoes (including any juice, tinned OK)
4 spring onions, thickly sliced
2 tbsp coarsely minced sun dried tomatoes
½ tsp dried thyme
1 tbsp Braggs Aminos or gluten free soy sauce
16 fl. oz (2 cups) water
1/2 tsp salt (or to taste)

Heat the oil in a saucepan, and gently fry the pepper and mushrooms until they have both completely softened.

Add the remaining ingredients, and simmer uncovered until much of the water has evaporated, the nuts have softened, and the tomato chunks have disintegrated to form a sauce thick enough to coat pasta (30-40 minutes).

Check seasoning, and serve with GF pasta, under mashed potatoes, or in a GF pastry crust, with parmesano sprinkles, if desired.

Teff Bread

Sliver pictureI know I’ve said this before, but I am still of the opinion that gluten free flours have a tendency to be either nutritionally poor and mildly flavored, or nutritionally good and strongly flavored, and unfortunately, many of the strong flavors are too intrusive and so we have to mix our flours to moderate them, or settle for the less nutritious flours. Teff appears to be a moderate flour; on its own it approaches the nutritional value of whole wheat, and there are no harsh notes. Don’t expect it to taste like wheat bread, but do expect it to taste like a great specialty bread.

This loaf was springy, flexible, and moist; easy to slice and slightly dense, and reminiscent of the malt loaf that I absolutely loved as a kid. It isn’t sweet, however, so it’s fine for savory sandwiches (although I am SO tempted to make a sweet one to toast).

I cooked this at a low temperature in order to get a soft crust, which it obligingly gave me.DSC_0011

10 oz (2 cups) teff flour
5 oz (1 cup) tapioca starch
1 oz (1/4 cup) flaxmeal
1 1/4 tsp xanthan gum
1 1/2 tsp salt
1 tbsp yeast
2 tbsp sugar (for the yeast, not for you)
1 tsp white vinegar
2 eggs
9 fl. oz water

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Batter consistency.

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Smoothed, unrisen dough.

Put all the dry ingredients in a food processor.
Put all the wet ingredients in a jug.

Start the processor, and slowly (over a period of about 10 seconds) add the wet ingredients to the dry. Process for about 2 minutes to activate the xanthan gum.

Risen dough ready to go in the oven.

Risen dough ready to go in the oven.

Scrape the batter out into a greased loaf pan; smooth the top, and allow to rest somewhere warm to rise by about 50% (~35 minutes depending on liveliness of your yeast and ambient temperature).
Place the pan in the oven, cover with a sheet of parchment or foil, and set the temperature to 330F.

Bake for 65 – 70 minutes (timed from turning on the oven, not from getting up to temperature).
Remove from the pan, and allow to cool (ha ha!) before slicing.

Teff Pancakes

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Teff American Pancakes served here with scrambled tofu. These pancakes are moist, light, and springy; a little more flavorful than wheat pancakes, with slight undertones of chocolate.

Teff seems to be a very well behaved gluten free flour. These American style pancakes are soft and springy, with the sweet version having a taste mildly reminiscent of an orange and milk chocolate cake, which is great for those of us who appear to be unable to tolerate chocolate!

It’s also low-FODMAP, if that’s something that bothers you.

This amount makes two 4″ pancakes.

1 egg
1/4 cup (1 1/4 oz) teff flour
0 – 3 tsp sugar (0 tsp for savory meal, 3 tsp for sweet)
1/4 tsp baking powder
pinch of salt
1 – 2 tbsp dairy free milk OR orange juice (for sweet meal)

1 tsp oil for frying

Put all the ingredients (except oil) into a cup or small mixing bowl, and beat together briefly with a fork to form a batter.

Heat the oil in a frying pan until hot (and a splash of water instantly beads up and evaporates if splattered in the pan). Reduce the heat to medium low, and spread out the oil with a spatula or by tilting the pan.

DSC_0003Pour out the batter into two rounds in the frying pan, and allow to set for about 2 minutes until small bubbles have appeared on the surface of the pancake, the edges have set (and look less shiny), and the bottom has browned slightly.

Use a spatula or fish slice to flip each pancake over, and cook the other side for about a minute or until it too is lightly browned.

Serve hot with the usual breakfast accompaniments.

Virgin Tomato Cocktail

Tomato cocktailI was intending to make a low-FODMAP tomato soup here, but didn’t get around to heating it, as I drank it all before getting out the saucepan. I think it should be served in a glass with a green olive on a stick, or green onion spike! You really need some kind of special treat when sticking to this diet, and I felt this counted as one. Daughter #1 was a bit suspicious when I offered it to her, but was pleasantly surprised. However, I managed to drink the whole lot myself (by waving her off) in the space of about 15 minutes (though this should serve 2 people), and it looks as if I managed 90% of my vit.A daily requirements, and 200% of my vit.C daily requirements for my 230 kcals!

28 oz tinned tomatoes (I’m not convinced that fresh would work; it might end up very frothy)
3 spring onions, green parts only
1 tbsp white sugar (or to taste, depending on how sweet your tomatoes are)
1/2 tsp dried basil
1/2 tsp garlic infused oil
1/8 tsp black pepper
No salt! :)

Blend all ingredients together until smooth. Pass though a sieve/chinois, if you think it needs it.