A Simple Spring ‘Pasta’

Sometimes you find yourself home alone for dinner and all you want is a comforting, creamy bowl of pasta. On a grain-free diet it’s not that straight forward, but inspiration hit me the other day and I think I managed to create a dish that really hits the spot.

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Jamie Oliver, in his 30 Minute Meals book and programme really inspired me to create freshly made quick meals and some of the methods he uses really come through in this recipes, just because I think they are so cleaver and useful.

You can make this recipe with almost any veg you have lying around in your fridge and create flavour combinations that suit your pallet. Add chilli flakes for a kick of heat or butter for a richer flavour.

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A Simple Spring ‘Pasta’

Serves 1

Ingredients:
3-4 Garlic cloves, thinly sliced (I like using lots of garlic)
Half a punet Mushrooms (chestnut, oyster or button), cleaned and sliced
1 small bunch Asparagus, chopped as you like it
1 large courgette, outer flesh shaved into strips using a peeler (making your ‘pasta’) and the core cut into cubes
3 heaped Tbsp SCD yogurt (or any other yogurt you like, I used sheep’s milk yogurt)
2 Tbsp good quality olive oil
a few sprigs of fresh herbs such as rosemary, basil, chives, oregano or thyme, roughly chopped
40gr Parmesan
a handful or pine nuts
Nutmeg to taste
Salt and pepper

Method:

  1. Heat one tbsp of the olive oil in a frying pan on a medium to high heat and add a quantity of two garlic cloves to the pan.
  2. When the garlic has infused the oil but before it burns add the mushrooms and toss in the oil.
  3. When the mushrooms have stated colouring, add the asparagus and courgette core.
  4. Whilst the vegetables are frying, and keeping an eye that they don’t burn, prepare the yogurt sauce: Place the yogurt in the bowl you are planning to eat from, dress with the rest of the olive oil, grate in most of the the parmesan and the nutmeg. Season with salt and pepper to taste. Give it a good mix and taste. Amend seasoning and set aside.
  5. Give the vegetables a mix and add in the courgette ‘pasta’ strips, the rest of the garlic and the herbs. Toss gently, making sure not to tear the strips. Cook for a few minutes until the courgette goes a bit translucent but not over cooked.
  6. Pour the veg into the bowl with the yogurt sauce and mix quickly. Leave the hob on.
  7. Return the pan to the hob and put the pine nuts on to roast. In the mean while grate the rest of the parmesan on your dish. When the nuts started taking colour sprinkle them over the ‘pasta’ and drizzle with a bit more olive oil.

Enjoy!

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The Green Giant Quiche

My mum’s partner is a real green fingered gardener.  Their house is surrounded by a tranquil green garden with shade all year round, which is useful as they live in Israel. On my last viait I spotted some beautifully overgrown Swiss Chard plants in the veg patch at the edge of the garden. I asked, and turns out they didn’t even realise it’s edible! So I just had to do something about that.

We were invited to Friday night dinner with very close friends and I was tasked with making a vegan main course (veganism is the latest trend in Israel). Inspiration soon followed and I made this:

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It got raving reviews and dinners who aren’t keen on coconut didn’t even notice I used coconut crem in it. Suscess!

So when I returned home to the UK I decided I’d make the minimal alterations and suit it to our SCD diet. In the recipe I’ll give both Vegan and SCD options.

Pesto Green Giant Quiche

Ingredients:

For the base:

2 cups ground Almonds
5 sundried tomatoes (in oil or rehydrated in hot water)
1 tsp chilli flakes
1/2 tsp salt
2 tbsp olive oil
2-4 tbsp water

For the filling:

1 large bunch (aprox 500g) fresh Spinach or Swiss Chard, washed
1 large Onion
1 Leak (optional)
2 bunches fresh Basil (I used two store bough packs)
1 small bunch fresh Parsley (It gives a really fresh touch)
3-5 large cloves Garlic
1/4 cup Olive Oil + 1 tbsp for frying the onions
50g raw Walnut Halves
50ml Coconut Cream (dissolve in some hot water to make required quantity or use coconut milk if you have an open can)
2 Eggs for SCD version and for Passover OR 3-4tbsp Garam Flour for Vegan option
1/2 tsp cooking Salt (use more if using Maldon/Kosher salt)
Black Pepper to taste
A handful of Pine Nuts for decoration

Method:

Make the quiche base:

  1. Heat the oven to 160˚c and have two large pieces of parchment paper ready for rolling the base dough.
  2. Dab the sun-dried tomatoes with kitchen paper to soak up excess oil or water and slice into thin strips.
  3. In a medium bowl combine dry base ingredients and mix in the tomatoes and chilli flakes, then add the olive oil and water and mix with a spoon into an oily dough (the dough will just come together and is not flexible at all as it made of ground nuts, rather than a glutinous flour).
  4. Place the dough between the two sheets of parchment paper and using a rolling-pin, roll it out to fit your pie dish (not too thin), then peel off the top piece of paper and transfer the dough onto the pie dish by flipping it onto the dish. Now the bottom piece of paper is on top. Using clean hands, ease the dough into the dish and peel off the paper. The dough will probably tear so just preform some patch work and form it to fit your dish.
  5. Blind bake the base for 15min or until golden brown and dry (no need for baking beans, this dough doesn’t rise). Remove from the oven and leave to cool. Leave the oven on to bake the filling.

Make the filling:

  1. Whilst the base is baking bring a saucepan of salted water to the boil. Blanch the spinach/chard for about 4min. Transfer the blanched greens into a bowl of ice water to stop the cooking process, then drain well and squeeze the excess liquid out. Leave to one side.
  2. Chop the onion and leak (not too finely). Heat the one tbsp olive oil and 2 tbsp water in a frying pan on medium heat, then fry the onion and leak until translucent but not burnt. Keep adding water, a tbsp at a time to prevent the onions from burning. leave to one side.
  3. In your food processor bowl, place the basil, parsley, garlic, olive oil and walnuts. Process until smooth, then add the drained and squeezed greens, coconut cream and eggs/garam flour. Add salt and pepper and process until well incorporated.
  4. Stop the food processor, taste the mix and amend seasoning if needed.
  5. Remove the processor blade and mix in the cooked onions, then tip the batter into the crusted pie dish and scatter the pine nuts over the top.
  6. Bake in the oven (still on 160˚c) for 30-40min, until the quiche is set. Remove from the oven and leave it to cool for five minutes before serving.

Serve with a big salad and enjoy!

It’s nibble time

Every dinner party should start with some nibbles and drinks. Our ‘go to’ nibbles have always been posh crisps but now, on SCD, potato crisps are out of the question and most shop bought nibbles contain illegal ingredients such as sugar and starch.

Every SCD kitchen probably has lots of nuts in thepantry and I have been experimenting to find the best result. I love the sweet and salty flavour combination so that’s waht I went for.

So, it’s nibble time!

Sweet-Chilli nut nibbles

Sweet Chilly Roasted Mixed Nuts

Ingredients:

100-150g raw Pecan nuts

100-150g raw blanched Almonds

100-150g raw Cashew nuts

(Or use any raw nut combination you like)

25g butter/ghee/coconut oil

2 tsp Honey

1tsp Chilly Flakes

1/2 tsp cooking or table salt

1/2 tsp Pink/Maldon/kosher salt (whichever you have)

Method:

  1. Heat the oven to 150°c and line a large baking tray with aluminium foil.
  2. In a small saucepan on a medium heat, gently melt the butter with the honey, chilli and cooking salt.
  3. Measure all the nuts into a large mixing bowl, pour the melted butter-honey mix ontop and mix thoroughly until all the Nuts are covered.  Sprinkle the pink salt and mix again, then tip the nuts onto the lined baking tray.
  4. Roasted for 7min, mix well and roast for another 5min. It’s important to keep your eye on the nuts as every oven is different and you don’t want them to burn.
  5. Remove from the oven and mix thoroughly again. Aa the nuts cool they might stick, so keep mixing them every few minutes.
  6. Serve warm or cold. Store in an air tight container and try to leave some for the gusts…

Enjoy!

Lovingly grain free

Making love happen is so much better when you aren’t bloated, uncomfortable and in pain. here are some ideas for a grain free Valentines Day meal that will leave you with enough energy and spunk for the real deal:

First Course: Herby cracker wedges with a Labaneh dip

For the herby Crackers:
Original recipe from Elena’s Pantry

2 cups Ground Almonds
1 tsp Salt
2 Dired Figs, chopped into small cubes (if figs don’t agree with you, used dates)
1 Rosemary Sprigs, roughly chopped
1 Egg
2 tbsp Olive Oil
2 tbsp water (optional)

Method:

  1. Heat the oven to 160˚c
  2. In a bowl mix together the ground almonds, salt, figs and rosemary.
  3. In a separate small bowl whisk together the egg and olive oil.
  4. Add the wet ingredients to the bowl of dry ingredients and combine with a spoon to a greedy dough. If the dough is too dry and won’t come together, add some water, a little at a time.
  5. Roll the dough out between two sheets of  parchment paper and slice the raw dough into wedges (like slicing a pizza)
  6. Bake for 10min or until the crackers are golden brown, remove from the oven and let cool for 5 min before serving with SCD Labaneh.

* If you are vegan these wedges work great without the egg.

Fig and Rosemary crackers in the making

For the Labaneh (a Lebanese style cream cheese spread):

The night before your dinner, line a sieve with a muslin cloth and place over a bowl. Pour into the lined sieve 3 cups of SCD yogurt (if you can tolerate it, shop bought sheep or goat’s yogurt are also good). Gather the edges of the muslin over the yogurt so nothing falls in and leave in the fridge or a very cool place over night. When you are ready to serve scrape the creamy cheese from the muslin into the serving dish and decorate with olive oil and Zaatar if you have. If not, use thyme or smoky paprika.

Meatballs and Cavolo Nero 'Pasta'

Main Course: Meatballs in tomato sauce and cavolo nero ‘pasta’

Inspired by Disney’s Lady and the Tramp

Cavolo Nero is ‘black cabbage’ and is both yummy and healthy. It’s available this time of year and it’s shape lends itself to be a great replacement to pasta, but don’t be discouraged if you can’t find it in the shops, use kale instead.

For the meatballs:

1 Onion, finely chopped
2 tbp fresh or dry herbs (whatever you have at home… rosemary, thyme, oregano, basil…)
500gr Minced Beef
1 egg
Salt and Pepper to taste
Oil for frying

For the tomato sauce:

1 large onion, roughly chopped
2 cloves Garlic
2 Carrots, grated
2 cans Chopped Tomatoes or 1 bottle of legal Passata
1/2 cup Dry Red Wine (add more to taste or if sauce is too dry)
2 tbsp herbs of your choice (I used rosemary)
Salt and Pepper to taste
Olive Oil

Method:

  1. Make the meatballs: Combine all the meatball ingredients in a bowl and leave to rest at room temperature whilst you make the sauce.
  2. In a deep pan heat a glugg of oil and an equal amount of water, add the chopped onion and fry on a medium heat until translucent and golden brown. If the onions start to burn add a little more water. Browning them slowly will develop a sweet taste but burning them will give a bitter flavour. Add the garlic and grated carrots and continue frying for 3-5min.
  3. Add the tomatoes, red wine and herbs and season to taste.
  4. Cook, uncovered, on a medium heat whilst you are frying the meatballs.
  5. Heat a glugg of olive oil in a pan.
  6. Roll meat balls to the size of a ping-pong ball and brown in the heated oil, about 2-3 min on each side. Make sure the meatballs are not crammed in the pan, as this will make them boil rather than fry. This might take a few batches, so transfer the cooked balls into the bubbling sauce.
  7. Once all the balls are fried and cooking in the tomato sauce, make you ‘pasta’

For the Cavolo Nero ‘Pasta’:

1/2 ‘head’ of Cavolo Nero cabbage or half bag of ready to use chopped Kale
1 sprig Rosemary
2 garlic cloves (if you are both eating garlic than it won’t matter when you kiss)
1tsp Olive Oil
1 tsp Ghee
Salt and Pepper to taste
Grated Parmesan to taste

Method:

  1. Fill a large saucepan with salted water and bring to the boil.
  2. Wash the cavolo nero thoroughly and shake to dry, then place each leaf up-side-down on a cutting bore and using a sharp knife, cut the dark leaf away from the light green stem. The stem is quite woody even when cooked so I usually discard it. The leaves are now long strips and resemble pasta noodles.
  3. When the water is boiling, drop the leaves in and simmer for 3-4 minutes.
  4. Whilst the leaves are cooking, finely slice the garlic cloves and rosemary.
  5. When the Cavolo Nero is cooked, drain into a colander. Leave the leaves in the colander and return the saucepan to the heat, melt the ghee and oil together, add the garlic and rosemary and stir gently for about 1 minute before adding the cavolo nero leaves. Warm through and make sure the leaves are covered. Season to taste.

Assemble:

  1. The cavolo nero is your pasta, so pile it in the middle of a pasta dish and top with the meatballs and tomato sauce (I usually serve 4 balls for each diner).
  2. Grate or shave parmesan over everything and enjoy.

* If you are gentle, you might even be able to re-inact the movie scene.

Layered Dessert

Dessert: Fruit, Crumble and Cream Layered Heaven

Make the crumble and whipped coconut crease in advance the assemble just before serving.

First thing’s first: The night before your dinner, put 1 can Coconut Milk (Make sure you get pure coconut milk with no stabilisers and additives) in the fridge. Don’t shake it. The milk will separate to water and cream and you want the cream for whipping later.

1 cup blanched almonds
1/2 cup cashew nuts
1/2 cup pecan nuts
(use any nut combination you like and have in the house: Walnuts, Macadamia or Brazil nuts work really well too)
2 tbsp coconut flakes, optional (shredded coconut is also fine just make sure you use an unsweetened product)
2 tbsp Ghee
2 tbsp honey
Pinch of salt (use pink Himalayan if you have)
1 Mango / 1 punnet Strawberries / 1 punnet blueberries / pitted cherries or any other fruit you like and works with a soft and crunchy combination.

Method:

  1. Heat the oven to 170˚c and line a baking tray with parchment paper.
  2. Scatter all the nuts and coconut flakes, if using, on the tray, drop little clumps of ghee in and around the nuts and drizzle the honey over everything, then sprinkle the salt.
  3. Roast in the hot oven for 10-15min, checking and shaking the pan every 5min. You what the nuts to turn golden and the honey to caramelise, but nothing should burn, so keep an eye on it.
  4. Once golden and beautiful, remove from the oven and cool completely. The nuts may seam soggy at the start but as they cool they will crunch up.
  5. Put the cold nuts in a food processor and pulse to brake them up. DON’T MAKE A POWDER! Set aside until you are ready to serve.
  6. Prepare the fruit you are using (peel and slice the mango or hull and quarter the strawberries) and set aside until you are ready to serve.
  7. Open the cooled coconut milk can and scoop the hardened cream into a mixing bowl. Save the ‘water’ for cooking but make sure none of it gets into the bowl.
  8. Using an electric mixer whisk the coconut until it resembles fluffy whipped cream. Sweeten with a little honey if required. Store the cream in the fridge until you are ready to use.

Assemble:

In wine glasses or martini cocktail glasses, layer the fruit and then the nut crumble, a bit at a time. When the glass is full, dollop the coconut whipped cream and top with a mint leaf or lemon verbena garnish.

Enjoy and may you have a happy and loving Valentines day. x

Wintery Thoughts

The weather seamed to have gone crazy and reports on TV look a bit like the film ‘The Day After Tomorrow’. Here in the UK we have been waking up at night to the sound or rain trickling on the roof and the whistles of wind blowing in our window. No snow yet.

More dedicated bloggers than me dedicated their end of year posts to summarising and listing 10 of the best… But I’m afraid I just cook and post. I enjoy other’s dedication to photography, styling and creative writing.

Out New Year resolution is to stick to the SCD diet strictly, and hope that this will increase energy levels and decrease the chances of that horrid illness returning to haunt our lives. Lots of will power and creativity required.

There are so many recipes and information out there (like roost, SCD recipe and Hold The bread, Please) but sometimes I like to look at my baking drawer and see what I can come up with. This time cocoa butter, vanilla and cherries (unseasonal but reduced price in the supermarket) popped at me.

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White Forest Muffins

Basic muffin recipe inspired by roost
Makes 12 muffins

Ingredients:
4 cups Ground Almonds
1/2tsp Salt
3/4tsp Baking Soda
2tbsp Coconut oil
1/4 cup Cocoa Butter
1/2 cup  + 1 tbsp Honey
3 Eggs
250gr fresh cherries, pitted and halved
1/2 Vanilla pod (optional)

Method:

  1. Het the oven to 160˚c and line a muffin tin with 12 muffin or cupcake liners (I used a silicone muffin tray so didn’t use paper liners).
  2. In a small bowl, mix the pitted cherries with 1tbsp honey and some of the vanilla beans (if using), then scatter a few cherry halves on the bottom of each lined muffin cup.
  3. Melt the coconut oil and cocoa butter in a small pot on a low heat, then remove form the heat and add the 1/2 cup honey.
  4. Combine the dry ingredients in one bowl.
  5. Whisk the eggs and mix them into the other wet ingredients. Add the rest of the vanilla if using.
  6. Mix wet ingredients into dry until incorporated and pour the batter into each cup, covering the cherries.
  7. Bake for 20-25min until golden brown
  8. Cool completely and serve.

Enjoy

White gold – Cauliflower and Celeriac recipes

Cauliflower and Celeriac aren’t necessarily the sxiest of vegetables and here in Britain they seam to only be paired with cream and cheese, as if to mask their flavour. I must say, I was a little suspicious at the start too. I was never a huge fan of Cauliflower in my childhood and I never even hear of Celeriac until I was in my late twenties.

But, as we’ve already discovered, when you are on SCD you become creative and look at a vegetable’s potential beyond the obvious and traditional uses. I first discovered using cauliflower as a baking ingredient here (Keep reading for an SCD adjusted recipe) and after trying it I was hooked. I then started experimenting and discovered the unlimited options. After a celeriac spent too much time in my fridge and I decided to try making Risotto out of it and loved the result. Imagine my delight when I saw Jamie Oliver make cauliflower rice on his Saving With Jamie show!!

So, no need to miss out on great pizza rice, couscous and bulgar wheat dishes just because you are on the SCD diet. Here is a round up of easy recipes to try:

Note on processing the cauliflower and celeriac:
It’s pretty simple and pretty much the same in every recipe.

  1. Clean the cauliflower or peal and wash the celeriac and roughly chop up the whole veg (for the cauli, use both the florets and stem). Place the chopped veg into a food processor and blitz  until it resembles rice in size.
  2. Heat 1tbsp of olive oil a large frying pan and add all the ‘riced’ vegetable from the food processor; and gently heat through. You want the ‘rice’ to ‘steam’ and not colour. When it turns a little translucent, it’s ready for the next stage of the recipe.

1. SCD Pizza bites

Based on this recipe, by Healthy DAMY

Makes 12 muffin size mini pizzas

Ingredients:

1 large Cauliflower
2 Eggs
1cup Parmesan cheese, grated
1 garlic clove
1tbsp fresh or dry oregano
2tbsp olive oil
Salt and Pepper to taste
1 cup of your favourite SCD friendly tomato sauce (we like the one in the Eat Well Feel Well book)
Pizza toppings to your taste (SCD friends ones)

Method:

  1. Follow the note above about processing the cauliflower, then let it cool in the pan  for a bit so the eggs don’t cook in the heat.
  2. Heat the oven to 180˚c. If you have a silicone cupcake or bun tray or moulds, there is no need to line them, it you don’t, line your cupcake tray with parchment paper.
  3. In a large bowl, mix together the cooked and cooled cauliflower, eggs, 1/2 cup of the parmesan, oregano, remaining oil and season to taste.
  4. Divide the mixture into the muffin moulds and bake for 20-30min, until brown on the top and coming away from the side of the mould. Then top with the tomato sauce, pizza toppings and scatter the rest of the parmesan cheese. Bake for an extra 10min, then remove from the oven and let cool for 5-10min before enjoying them.
  5. Serve with a side salad or as finger food at a party.

2. SCD Couscous

I made this as part of a yummy CSD Moroccan feast and it was a great success. The dinner included spice roasted

Ingredients

SCD Lasagne with a vegan béchamel sauce

It’s been a while since I posted a recipe on the blog. I guess the blogging bug hits me intermediately, so I’m not very consistent with my posts, but I have been cooking SCD  and developing lots of recipes. I have also been posting on another blog, about foraging.

Back in the summer, during that courgette glut I talked about in my previous post, our neighbours gave us a HUGE courgette and I decided to tackle a recipe which will usually be a big no-no for SCD followers, Lasagne. The idea of replacing the lasagne leaves with courgette wasn’t that original. Moussaka is made with layers of meat and aubergine. The fun bit was coming up with a solution to replace the béchamel sauce.

Luckily we have a Vitamix blender, so I figured, if you can make a creamy feeling soup with no cream in it, you can make a creamy béchamel sauce with no milk or flour in it. Cauliflower gives the colour and body and raw blanched almonds give the rich, smooth texture. The result is a mild flavoured, light and very similar to the original, vegan and SCD friendly béchamel sauce.

Vegan friends, this is not a vegan recipe, but the béchamel sauce is purely vegan and can be used for any recipe that requires it. It keeps its texture and body well during cooking and tastes great.

Like in making traditional regular lasagne, before they invented the no-cook noodles, there are three stages to the cooking process. It’s a bit of a project, but it’s totally worth it.

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SCD Lasagne with Vegan Béchamel sauce 

Serves 6-8

Ingredients:

1 oversized courgette or 4 large ones, sliced lengthwise into 1/2cm strips
Olive oil
1 large onion, finely chopped
3 cloves garlic, minced
1kg minced meat (I used lean beef)
2 cans chopped tomatoes
A hand-full of Sage leaves (or 1tbsp dry)
A hand-full of fresh oregano (or 2tbsp dry)
Salt and Pepper to taste
For the béchamel:
1 large cauliflower
1/2 cup blanched almonds (raw, not roasted)
3tbsp olive oil
1/2cup hot water
1/4tsp nutmeg
Salt to taste

Method:

  1. Heat the oven to 190˚c, line a large baking tray or two with aluminium foil and brush with olive oil.
  2. Lay the sliced courgette strips on the oiled tray and brush with some more oil, which will help them brown. If you want, season with salt and any other herb you like, then roast in the oven for 15-20min, until browned. Remove from the oven and let cool.
  3. Meanwhile, in a large pan or pot, heat some oil and brown the chopped onion first, then add the minced garlic and cook for a minute more.
  4. Add the minced beef to the pan and cook until it’s browned, then add the canned tomatoes and the herbs. If it’s all to dry, add some water. Bring to the boil and simmer for 30-45min, mixing occasionally, until thick and cooked through, then season with salt and pepper to taste.
  5. Whilst the courgette is cooling and the meat sauce is simmering, make the béchamel sauce. Cut the cauliflower into large chunks and steam over boiling water (or in a steamer) until very soft. About 10min.
  6. Place the soft cauliflower and the rest of the béchamel ingredients into the blender and process, starting on low and slowly increasing to high speed, for about 3min, until you have a smooth, creamy sauce. Taste the flavour and seasoning and adjust to taste.
  7. Heat the oven to 170˚c and assemble the lasagne: In a deep, oven-proof dish ladle a small amount of your béchamel and spread it over the bottom of the pan. Place a layer of the courgette ‘pasts leaves’, then layer with a third of the meat sauce, then pour some of the béchamel. Place another layer of the courgette leaves, meat sauce  and béchamel, until you have used it all up. If you can eat Parmesan cheese, grate a layer on the top and place the lasagne in the oven.
  8. Bake for 30-40min, until you see bubbling along the sides of the dish. Remove from the oven and let it rest for 10min so it sets and doesn’t fall apart when serving. Enjoy with a green salad and a glass of dry red wine if allowed.