Quinoa, Fennel and Pomegranate Salad

Saturday, 25 February 2012

I saw this salad in Bon Appétit and the colours just immediately jumped out at me.  I knew I had to make a version of this.  My recipe is a bit of a thrown together affair with the ingredients I had to hand.  I ended up with a fresh tasting salad with a hint of lemon which wasn’t over powering and which worked really well with the mint.  It was a delicious light lunch and perfect for this unusually warm and sunny February day.  I enjoyed mine while listening to a bit of Bruce Springsteen but that part is totally optional.

Inspired by Bon Appetit
Serves 2
100g (4oz) ½ cup quinoa rinsed
250ml or 1 cup water
1 x fennel bulb fronds removed
Pomegranate seeds
1 tablespoon of lemon juice
Zest of half a lemon
½ teaspoon of dried rosemary
Handful of fresh mint chopped
Preheat the oven to gas mark 6, 200°C.  Remove the stalks from the fennel and chop the bulb in to chunks.  Drizzle with olive oil and sprinkle over the rosemary.  Roast for 30-35 minutes until golden brown and cooked through.  Meanwhile place the quinoa in a saucepan and add the water.  Bring to the boil and simmer for 10-15 minutes.  Once cooked drain any excess water and fluff with a fork.  Mix in the lemon juice and zest and set aside covering with a lid to keep warm.  When the fennel is cooked mix it with the quinoa and add a squeeze more lemon juice to taste.  Serve on a plate and sprinkle with pomegranate seeds and fresh mint.


Monday, 20 February 2012

Since tomorrow is Shrove Tuesday I thought I’d slip another pancake recipe in.  It was a bit of a pancake extravaganza in our house this weekend.  This is another recipe taken from Phil Vickery’s Seriously Good Gluten-Free Baking.  My pancakes didn’t really turn out like the pictures in the book but I was impressed with the pretty patterns they made.  We had our pancakes stuffed with bananas (we like bananas in this house) and topped with sheep yoghurt and pomegranate seeds which added a lovely touch of colour.  I’m sure the traditional sugar and lemon topping would work well too.  I made the pancakes dairy free by using rice milk which worked well although it is a little more watery than cow’s milk.  Sheep milk yoghurt is a delicious alternative for those who are intolerant to cow’s milk.  It is really thick and creamy. 
Recipe from Seriously Good Gluten-Free Baking by Phil Vickery.  Makes 4-6 pancakes
90g (3 ½ oz) brown rice flour
35g (1 ½ oz) cornflour
2 medium free range eggs
200ml milk (I used rice milk)
Olive oil for greasing the pan
In a large jug or mixing bowl mix together the flours.  Add the eggs one by one whisking well, then add about three quarters of the milk and combine.  The batter should be fairly runny (consistency of double cream).  Add more milk if necessary.
Heat the oil in a skillet or non stick frying pan.  Pour in about 4 tablespoons of batter and swirl it round to cover the base.  Cook for 30 to 60 seconds and as the pancake begins to set loosen the edges with a spatula.  Once the pancake is set turn it over and cook the other side until golden.  Repeat until all the batter is used up.

Oh and I didn’t flip my pancakes, my official excuse is the skillet is too heavy for my wimpy arms but really I’m one of the most accident prone people I know.  I didn’t want to risk wasting a single yummy pancake with batter all over the floor.

Pancake Perfection

Saturday, 18 February 2012

I don’t ever need an excuse to make pancakes but in honour of Shrove Tuesday or Pancake Day coming up this week I thought I’d share one of my favourite gluten free pancake recipes with you.  There are a few good gluten free pancake mixes you can buy but they are so easy to whip up yourself and probably cheaper too.  First off, American pancakes.  These are much thicker and smaller than our traditional pancake but also very delicious, light and fluffy.  I love to put mine in a stack and top with banana and maple syrup.  The syrup drizzles down the sides and oozes in to the pancakes, yum.  My husband has maple syrup control issues so I usually can’t leave it out or he’ll just finish it all.  These are a real breakfast treat with your favourite fruit.  I found two really good pancake recipes in Phil Vickery’s Seriously Good Gluten-Free Baking which was a recent present from two of my oldest friends.  I’ve really enjoyed baking from this book although some of the recipes are a bit too sugar heavy for my liking, there are lots of inspiring ideas.

American Style Thick Pancakes slightly adapted from Seriously Good Gluten-Free Baking by Phil Vickery.

Makes 8-10 pancakes (serves 2 but maybe we are just greedy)
80g (3oz) brown rice flour
40g (2oz) buckwheat flour (I used buckwheat flour to add texture and because I like it for pancakes but you can sub more brown rice flour instead if you prefer).
½ teaspoon gluten free baking powder
Pinch of salt (I don’t bother with this)
1 medium free range egg
1 ½ tablespoons sunflower oil
50g (2oz) unsalted butter melted
284ml carton buttermilk
Olive oil for greasing the pan.
In bowl mix together the flours, baking powder and salt if using.  In a large measuring jug mix together the egg, oil, melted butter and buttermilk thoroughly.  Add the dry ingredients to the wet ingredients a bit at a time until well combined.  The batter will be quite thick.
Grease your skillet or non stick frying pan and place over a medium heat.  Spoon a table spoonful of batter per pancake in to the pan to create a small round pancake.  I could only fit three in my pan at a time.  Cook for 2-3 minutes on each side.  Once your pancakes are golden on each side remove to a plate and cover with foil to keep warm (I kept mine in a very low temperature oven).  Continue making more batches until all the batter is used up.  Serve stacked on warmed plates with toppings of your choice.

Ode to a Skillet

Saturday, 11 February 2012

I have a new love in my life, my cast iron skillet.  It had languished on my Amazon wish list for months. Birthdays and Christmases came and went...no skillet.  ‘Why’, I complained to my husband ungrateful woman that I am, ‘has no one bought me my skillet!’  Well, a few days later it arrived in the post, I’m a lucky woman.  Sometimes the presents you get for no reason other than your whinging are the best.
So far my skillet and I have made pancakes (coming soon), baked eggs with sauté kale and this sunshine toast from Heidi Swanson’s Super Natural Everyday.  Soon the skillet and I may take our relationship forward to make this French Toast.  I’ll keep you posted on how the relationship is going. 

The original recipe uses a round cookie cutter hence the ‘sunshine toast’ name.  I decided to use a heart shape cutter since Valentine’s Day is just around the corner.  Truth time...my cookie cutter was a bit small for the egg so I didn’t get a pretty perfectly heart shaped egg at the end to show you.  A bigger cookie cutter would have solved this problem.

Sun Toast recipe adapted from Super Natural Everyday by Heidi Swanson
Serves 1
1 inch thick slice of gluten free bread
1 large egg
Using a cookie cutter of your choice (Heidi recommends a 4cm round cutter) cut a shape out of the middle of your bread.  Butter the bread and the piece you cut out on both sides.
Place the two pieces of bread in a skillet or frying pan over a medium – low heat.  Lightly toast both sides, don’t let them get too well done.  Crack the egg in to the hole and let it cook until the egg whites begin to set and the egg looks about half done.  Flip the toast over and cook the other side until the bread is lovely and golden and the egg is cooked to your liking.  I like my eggs slightly runny.  Serve on a plate and tuck in.  As you cut through the egg the yolk will ooze out and soak in to the toast.  Delicious.
Happy Valentine’s Day xx

Pecan Cherry Banana Bread

Saturday, 4 February 2012

So it’s quite chilly at the moment.  Actually chilly doesn’t cover it, its freeezzzzing!  If you are unlucky enough to have to commute in to London (or anywhere for that matter) like me you may have noticed people bundled up against the cold.  For me my big duffle coat, husbands gloves (thicker than girls ones) and woolly hat are mandatory cold weather wear.  Don’t even get me started on how many of you mad people go out of the house in this weather without a woolly hat.  Don’t you know you lose 25% of your body heat from the top of your head?  Don’t you want to be 25% warmer?  You may be wondering what this can have to do with banana bread.  Well not a lot... except to say that you should definitely stay in and make this banana bread.  It will make your home smell wonderful and you can enjoy the heat from the oven too.

The banana bread came together out of ingredients I needed to use up or had to hand.  Pecans, cherries and bananas...I wasn’t convinced it would work... could they (as Jamie Oliver would say) be friends?  Well it turns out they could.  Bananas are such a fantastic ingredient when it comes to making a cake moist.  Pecans are just one of my favourite nuts in the world and the dried cherries add a hint of sweetness. 

Recipe adapted from Healthy Gluten Free Eating by Darina Allen and Rosemary Kearney
50g (2oz) dried cherries
50g (2oz) pecans broken in to pieces
110g (4oz) butter, softened
50g (2oz) golden caster sugar
2 large free range eggs
3-4 ripe bananas
175g (6oz) brown rice flour
50g (2oz) corn flour
2 teaspoons gluten free baking powder
1kg 2lb loaf tin lined with baking parchment
Preheat the oven to gas mark 4 180°C.
In a large bowl cream the butter and sugar together until light and soft.  Add the eggs one at a time stirring well.  Mash the bananas (I usually throw mine in a blender) and add to the creamed mixture.  Sift the rice flour, corn flour and baking powder together and fold into the mixture.  Stir in the pecans and cherries.
Pour the mixture into your prepared loaf tin and bake for 1 ¼ and 1 ½ hours.  Test with a skewer to check the loaf is cooked.  Remove from loaf pan and place on a wire rack to cool.  Lasts about three to four days in a cake tin.