Roasted Beetroot and Fennel Soup

Friday, 22 February 2013

Today is freezing.  After the glimpse of spring we enjoyed last weekend the skies have closed over in an endless grey, the temperature has plummeted and I am back to longing for the end of winter.  This morning we set off determined on one of our favourite walks.  I wasn’t going to let the fact it was snowing stop me.  After climbing a steep hill I found myself just wanting to be home.  My nose was so cold, my eyes were watering and I could hardly feel my hands.  Uncharacteristically for me and much to the amusement and most likely relief of my husband I requested we head for home.  He willingly obliged with only the gentlest of I told you so’s.  I made this beetroot soup last weekend.  It is just the thing after a freezing cold walk or to warm you up at your desk at work.  I can’t help but love beetroot with its beautiful and vibrant colour.  The beetroot and fennel get roasted with thyme until they are lovely and caramelised.  They then join shallots (or onion) and garlic in a simmering pan of stock.  Finally the soup is blended and served with grated orange zest which adds a lovely dash of colour and tang to the earthy sweetness of the beets. 
You can find the recipe here at The Kitchn.  I followed the recipe but used shallots instead of onion because that is what I had.  I’m happy to say there are containers of this soup in my freezer ready for the next time I foolishly head out in to the cold.

For the Love of Kale

Sunday, 17 February 2013

I know what you are thinking, kale and goat cheese...again.  I never seem to tire of this combination and that means you never get to tire of it either.  This winter I feel like I’ve really become quite obsessed with kale but I’m a picky girl and it is only the cavolo nero type I really like rather than your bog standard curly variety.  That has its place of course but give me the rich dark leaves of cavolo nero and I’m happy to eat it in any number of incarnations.  Raw in salads, in smoothies, stirred into winter stews, with baked potatoes, in frittatas and now here in a toasted sandwich, the ultimate comfort food on a cold day.  Slightly wilted kale with tangy melted goat cheese slapped in the middle of toasted gluten free bread.  The great thing about a toasted sandwich is good bread, good cheese and whatever the heck you want to throw in there with it.  Kale is rich in vitamins and in particular a great source of calcium which is important for us coeliac types.  It also has anti-cancer properties.  If you can’t find kale, chard or spinach would work too.
Wash the kale and remove the centre stems.  Roughly chop the leaves and wilt in a skillet for a couple of minutes with a small amount of olive oil.  Once the kale is wilted remove from the skillet and set aside to cool a little.  Assemble your sandwich and cook either under a grill or in a lightly oiled skillet.  I’ve been using the grilling method lately.  I started off with the cheese open to the grill to get it melted a bit before I added the kale and sandwich top.  This also prevents the kale crisping up too much under the grill.

Missing the Boat...

Friday, 15 February 2013

This isn’t about boats so if you are here for boat talk, move on.  This week has been busy and I seem to have missed the boat on many occasions.

I started my week off well with... Kale Smoothie.
I got some free pink grapefruit (like you do).  I made muffins, posting soon...
A lot of lemon zesting happened.  Thanks husband, champion zester!  All that zesting got put to good use in these pancakes but we failed to actually eat pancakes on Shrove Tuesday. Work, chores etc got in the way.
More lemon zest in these Gluten Free Lemon Shortbread.  Recipe here.  I used the zest and juice of one lemon instead of an orange.  Heart shaped obviously for Valentine’s Day, I just failed to post them in time. 
You may be asking do we need any more heart shaped things this week.  If so, look away... Our Valentine’s dinner consisted of heart shaped beetroot falafel!  Recipe here.
Speaking of majorly missing the boat by about 100 years, I am now on twitter.  You can follow me @separatetoaster and one of these days I’ll get a link up.
Here’s hoping normal service will resume next week.

Gluten Free Zesty Pancakes

Monday, 11 February 2013

Somehow this year I almost missed Pancake Day (which is tomorrow for those also caught unawares).  That would have been a tragedy in my view.  I love a good excuse to have a pancake or two.  On Sunday afternoon with rain and hail battering our windows I set about whipping up a batch of pancakes from the ingredients I had to hand.  Here I made pancakes the way I had them as a child topped with a little lemon juice and a sprinkling of sugar.  To make things extra zingy I added lemon zest to the pancake batter too.  It worked a treat.
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 or butter for greasing the pan
Zest from one lemon (optional)
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.  Finally add the lemon zest and mix in well.
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.
If you are looking for other pancake inspiration you could try one of these...

Baked Apples and My Dad

Friday, 8 February 2013

I’ve inherited many things from my Father.  Very fine, flyaway hair, the ability to fall asleep in front of a film (drives my husband nuts), general untidiness and food fads that seem to go on for years. (how many times do I mention porridge on this blog..?).  From the age of ten it was just Dad and I and neither of us had a clue how to cook...  There was the phase of the frozen packet meal closely followed by the years of the jacket potato, sometimes the frozen packet meal with a jacket potato.  For more years than I can remember my Dad followed up every meal with a baked apple.  I never took part in this pudding, most likely because I’d found something more interesting and far less healthy to eat in the frozen food isle.  Baked apples did not appeal to the teenage me.  Last weekend was the first time I tried a baked apple and I declare it to be absolutely delicious.  Clearly my Dad was no fool, keeping the wonder of baked apples to himself for all those years.  I jazzed mine up a bit, adding dried fruit and nuts, a sprinkling of demerara sugar and a little butter.  As with baking other fruits, the naturally sweet juices are released leaving you with a soft, sweet and mouth watering dessert.  The crunch from the nuts and tartness of the dried fruit is the perfect accompaniment.  Ice cream or yoghurt finish it off nicely.  Next time my Dad is visiting, I may have to reintroduce him to the baked apple and see if they are still good friends.
Baked Apples inspired by Dad and Sprouted Kitchen
Serves 2
2 apples (I used royal gala)
1 – 2 tablespoons dried cranberries*
1 – 2 tablespoons roughly chopped pecans*
1 – 2 tablespoons flaked almonds*
¼ teaspoon cinnamon
Knob of butter
½ tablespoon demerara sugar or to taste
Preheat the oven to Gas Mark 5, 190°C, 375°F
Slice off the top of the apple about a quarter of the way down and scoop out the centre.  I don’t have an apple corer so I had to hack at it with a knife.  *The amount of fruit and nuts you need corresponds to how much of a hole you managed to create in your apple.
In a small bowl mix together the dried cranberries, nuts and cinnamon.  Place the apples in a baking dish.  Fill with the fruit and nut mixture and cover with the apple tops.  Put a generous knob of butter on each and then sprinkle with sugar.  Bake for about an hour but check after 45 minutes.  Mine began to get a little burnt so I covered them with foil for the last 15 minutes to prevent further burning.  Once they are cooked the apples should yield when poked with a knife.  Serve with the juices from the pan.
My Dad, who also instilled in me a love of walking, something else I didn’t appreciate until I was past my teenage years.


Gluten Free Sesame Banana Bread with Lemon Glaze

Sunday, 3 February 2013

I love a good banana bread as you can probably tell by the many that appear on this blog.  When spotty, overripe bananas are languishing in the fruit bowl it’s time to hunt down another banana bread recipe.  This one comes from Heidi Swanson of 101 Cookbooks.  I love her style of baking and the way she incorporates healthy ingredients in to the things she bakes.  In particular I am nearly always drawn to her cakes.  I have also found that adapting her recipes to gluten free always turns out pretty well.
Banana bread especially lends itself well to gluten free baking as the built in moisture from the bananas helps with the dryness of gluten free flours and the lack of elasticity.  This version has all the moisture you’d expect from banana bread with crunch from the sesame seeds and a zesty kick from the lemon glaze.  I’m not normally one for bothering with a glaze but this is well worth the effort and really makes the cake something special.  I found the bread only lasted a couple of days max when stored in an air tight container.  However, since most of it was devoured by my husband’s work colleagues it didn’t get a chance to hang around any longer.
Notes: I simply subbed the flours weight for weight to make this cake.  For the All Purpose Flour I used Gluten Free All Purpose Flour.  For the whole wheat flour I used Gluten Free Brown Rice Flour.  I hope you enjoy it as much as we did.
Find the recipe here.