Picnic under the oak tree

It’s been a year since my now husband J popped the question. A whole year has passed, since one of the happiest days of my life and a start of this great journey we are taking together.

A few good months into our engagement, in the midst of our wedding perp, on a sunny day in March, our photographer Blake Ezra came over to our house (which was also the wedding venue) to take some pre-shoot photos of us and the of the venue. I’d highly recommend doing this, as it get’s you used to having someone with a camera following you around and also gets you great professional photos that aren’t in a white dress and all dressed up.

We took Blake for a lovely walk in the woods, past the spot where we got engaged, and had some fun re-enacting the moment.

Shira and Jon Engagement shoot Shira and Jon Engagement shoot Shira and Jon Engagement shoot Shira and Jon Engagement shoot

So a year later, we thought it would be fun to go back to that beautiful spot where we got engaged  and have a nice afternoon picnic (all SCD friendly of course).

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An SCD friendly Picnic

The picnic included: Roasted veg with Tahini, Beetroot Carpaccio with Manchego, a green salad, SCD bread (coming soon, an improved recipe) and carrot and courgette cupcakes for dessert.

Quantities for the recipes depend on how many people you are serving. Also, use any veg you like and are available to you.

Roasted Vegetables with Tahini (served cold):

Ingredients:
Courgettes
Cauliflower
Sweet Peppers (I used mini sweet peppers but use any red/yellow/orange you can find)
Garlic, chopped
Olive Oil
Oregano or Thyme
Salt and Pepper to taste

Method:

  1. Line a baking sheet (or two) with aluminium foil and heat your oven to 190˚c.
  2. Slice the vegetables into a large mixing bowl (you can mix them together, but if you are using beetroot, make sure you dress it separately so you don’t stain all your veg)
  3. Add the garlic, a good glugg of olive oil, herbs and seasoning and toss the veg until they are well coated in the oil and herbs.
  4. Arrange the veg on the baking sheet (I like to arrange them neatly but you also tip the contents of your bowl and scatter the veg).
  5. Roast in the oven for aprox 40min, or until nicely golden on top with slightly charred edges, then remove from the oven, let cool and enjoy with a dollop of tahini dressing (equal parts of Tahini paste and water, garlic and salt to taste, chopped parsley and lemon juice. Mix together to a runny consistency, adding more water and seasoning if needed).

Beetroot Carpaccio with Manchego 

Serves 2-4

Ingredients:
2 Fresh Beets, washed and peeled (I only had red beets, but by all means, use a variety of colours if you can)
2tbs Olive Oil
Juice of half a lemon
1 sprig Mint
Salt and pepper to taste
Manchego, Parmesan or even Blue cheese

Method:

  1. If you have a mandolin, use it to slice the beets on thickness 1. If no, slice the beets very thinly with a very sharp knife.
  2. Place the sliced beets in a bowl (or even in the box you will be taking them to the picnic in), add the rest of the ingredients and mix very well, making sure all the beet ‘pages’ are smothered in the dressing.
  3. Leave in the fridge until ready to use.
  4. Wash the mandolin from the beetroot juices and slice the Manchego on the same setting. Keep the cheese separate from the beets and at the picnic. combine them on the plate or on a sandwich.

Note: On another occasion I served the beetroot carpaccio as an accompaniment to lemon and dill Salmon Gravad Lax with a herby pesto dressing and no mint. Yum!

Enjoy!

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Don’t waste your food, make quiche!

Last week I was introduced to a great organisation called Feeding the 5000. It’s a UK based organisation, working worldwide to fight food waste. J and I spent the afternoon in central London, helping them distribute perfectly good peppers and cherry tomatoes that were rejected by the supermarkets for not being ‘perfect’ enough to go on their shelves.

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The cleaver thing is that the Feeding the 5K guys didn’t just give away the vegetables. To anyone who would stop and listen to our shpiel, we gave out a bag with lots of veg which included a recipe for Gezpacho soup by celebrity chef Hugh Fearnley-Whittingstall. We asked them to maybe make the gezpacho and invite friends over to enjoy their soup, and in the ‘pop-up’ restaurant spirit maybe ask them for a donation to the organisation and sign up to the no-food-waste pledge.

This activity really brought to light the detachment we have from the food production process and the lack of awareness to the amount of food that is wasted every day.

At the end of the afternoon, we were still left with a good amount of peppers and as the City people went back to their offices we loaded our bags with peppers and headed back home to grill, cook and preserve about 30kg of red, yellow and green peppers.

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Upside Down Pepper Quiche

Inspired by this recipe by Dvarim Bealma
There are a few steps to this quiche, but it can be made all in one go.

Ingredients:
4-6 Peppers (asorted colours)
1 whole garlic bulb
4 Eggs
500ml Goats Milk Yogurt (SCD yogurt if possible)
30gr Parmesan Cheese, grated
12 Pitted Kalamata Olives, roughly chopped
6 Dried tomatoes, sliced
1tbsp fresh mint
1tbsp Fresh Thyme
Salt & Pepper to taste

Note about the herbs: Use any herb combination you like/have. If you don’t have fresh herbs, use dry.

Method:

First roast the peppers and garlic: 

  1. Heat the oven to 250˚c and line a baking tray with aluminium foil.
  2. Take another (smal-ish) piece of aluminium foil, place it flat on your work board and dress with a little olive oil, salt and a sprig of thyme, then cut off the bottom of the garlic bulb and place it, cut side down, on the dressed foil. Wrap up the garlic and place it on the baking trey.
  3. Place all of your peppers, whole and washed, on the baking tray and place in the hot oven.
  4. Important: the peppers need to be turned every aprox 10min so they are evenly roasted on all sides.
  5. After the peppers are roasted remove from the oven and lower the temperature to 170˚c. Set the roasted garlic aside to cool.
  6. Place all the peppers in a large glass bowl and cover the top with cling film. Leave the peppers to steam and cool. This process with make separating the peel from the flesh a very easy job.

Whilst the peppers are steaming and cooling, make the quiche filing by combining all the ingredients and whisking them in a bowl. Don’t forget to unwrap the garlic and squeeze the roasted cloves into the batter.

Assembling the quiche:

  1. Peel the roasted peppers, one by one, by pulling the loose burnt bits away from the soft flesh, then gently remove the flesh from the stem, trying to pull from the bottom, so the seeds stay on the stem.
  2. Gently slice the flesh on one side so the pepper can be spread out flat, then clean any seeds from the surface.
  3. When all your peppers are peeled and clean, start lining your pie dish with the peppers, making sure they overlap so the filling doesn’t seep through, just like a normal pie crust.
  4. Pour in the filling batter and bake in the oven for 35min, or until the filling is slightly wobbly but not runny.
  5. Remove from the oven and let cool for at least 15min, then place a plate , up-side-down on top of the pie and flip it over (do this over the sink as there will be some liquid spilling out).
  6. Release the quiche from the pie dish and serve with salad.

Enjoy!

What? No Rice?!

Risotto is one of my favourite foods. I love making it, adding the stock and mixing the  rice in anticipation for that moment when the rice is just right; not hard but not ‘rice pudding’ soft. I also love the diversity or Risotto. You can create such great flavour combinations and experimenting is really fun. It can be a light starter or a meal in a bowl, depends on the size and creaminess.

The thing is, rice isn’t one of the allowed foods on the SCD diet.

I found recipes using cauliflower a rice substitute, but felt the cauli’s flavour was too strong and not to J’s taste, so I decided to try celeriac instead. Turns out, celeriac has a great savoury flavour which isn’t overpowering. It’s widely grown in the UK and seams to be in season all year round. We used it as plain rice for an indian style dish and then I decided to try making a risotto.

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Re-thinking the process

If you have any experience in making risotto, you know that the slow cooking and mixing of the rice releases the starch in the Arborio Rice, which creates a lovely creaminess and texture. Celeriac doesn’t do that, so I had to re-think the risotto making process and decided that I will have to create a ‘sauce’ which will give the creamy, rich texture.

I found that ‘sacrificing’ a small amount of the celeriac, adding olive oil and stock, and blending them to a smooth, cram-like sauce, added that ‘risotto’ texture. A knob of butter added a beautiful rich flavour and a good shine to the ‘rice’. This created a basic ‘Risotto Bianco’ and then I mixed in some pesto sauce and topped with roasted summer vegetable.

Celeriac ‘Risotto’ with Pesto and roasted vegetables
Serves 2, cooking time: 30-45 min (‘Risotto Bianco’ takes 30min)

Ingredients:

For the ‘Risotto’:
1 small Onion, finely chopped
1/2 Large Celeriac root, peeled and chopped into large chunks
1 tbsp + 1/4 cup  Olive Oil
2 tbsp water
1/4 cup stock (veg, chicken or fish, depends on your preference. I used vegetable stock in this recipe)
1 knob butter (about 15gr)
Salt and pepper to taste

For flavouring:
4 tbsp pesto sauce (make your own to avoid additives, stabilisers and other non-SCD ingredients)
Extra garlic clove if needed for flavour

For roasted vegetables (use any vegetable combination that you like. I used the following):
1 Red Pepper, de-seeded and sliced into strips
1 Aubergine, chopped into small chunks
1 Courgette, cut into rounds
1 Red Onion, halved and sliced
2 Garlic Cloves, chopped
Oregano/Thyme/Marjoram or a combination of all
Olive Oil
Salt

Method:

First roast your vegetables:

  1. Heat the oven to 190˚c and prepare a roasting pan, lined with aluminium foil.
  2. Place all your vegetables, including the garlic in a large mixing bowl, drizzle a good glug of olive oil and season with salt and herbs to taste.
  3. Mix the vegetables thoroughly to ensure they are all coated in oil, herbs and garlic. I found clean hands are best for this job.
  4. Arrange the veg on the roasting pan and roast in the oven for 35-40min, mixing occasionally to avoid burning.

Whilst the veg is roasting, cook the ‘Risotto’:

  1. In a frying pan, heat the 1tbsp of olive oil and the water, the add the chopped onion, and slowly fry on medium heat until translucent but not brown. Add more water if onions start to colour.
  2. Meanwhile, place the celeriac chunks in a food processor and chop to rice-size pieces. Make sure it is all processed to the same consistency.
  3. Once the onions are cooked, add all the chopped celeriac and slowly cook on medium heat, until the celeriac is soft but not too soft (‘al-dente’ is best), then take off the heat.
  4. Scoop a 1/4 cup of the cooked celeriac and onion into a blender, add the remaining 1/4 cup of olive oil, the stock, 2 tbsp of the pesto sauce (if using), salt and pepper and blend until smooth (single cram consistency). If the mixture is too thick, add more stock. If it lacks flavour, add salt, more pesto and a garlic clove until it is to your taste.
  5. Return the pan with the fried celeriac to the heat and mix the sauce through.
  6. Add the butter and the rest of the pesto and mix again until the butter is melted. taste and adjust seasoning if needed.

Serve:

  1. Place the risotto in a bowl, top with the roasted vegetables, a drizzle of olive oil and shavings of Parmesan cheese.

Enjoy!

The best SCD Grain Free bread

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Going grain-free and specifically going SCD means about half of the supermarket isles are off limits, but walking past the bakery and bread areas, smelling these beautiful ‘freshly baked’ scents can cause even the strongest willed person to ‘slip’.

Bread is such a staple food and sandwiches are such an easy ‘on-the-go’ kind of food that I really wanted to find a recipe for a good substitute. I found that loafs based on ground almonds come out quite wet, don’t hold their shape very well and tend to crumble, so when I came across this recipe by Brittany I instantly tried it with great success. The only thing was the cost and availability of the ingredients. Raw almond butter isn’t readily available in UK supermarkets and it isn’t cheap when you do find it, so I decided to make my own.

Using a powerful food processor, you can make your own nut butter. Depending on the toughness of the nut, it can take between five and 15 minutes. I found that adding cashew nuts to the ‘buttering’ process results in a fluffier bread and adding herbs and spices reduces the ‘eggy’ smell and flavour. Olives, walnuts, sun dried tomatoes and even sweet additions can be made for added flavour.

The bread also slices nicely and as it’s a dense, nutty and not so low on fat, a little goes a long way. I like using the bread to make Smörgåsbord style open sandwiches for brunch.

Almond-Cashew grain-free bread
Original recipe by CSD Foodie with my changes and updates

Makes one ‘Loaf’ tin which results in about 20 slices.
It’s worth reading Brittany’s notes about which pan to use.

Ingredients:

2 cups raw Almonds
1 cup raw Cashews
6 Eggs
1 tsp Bicarbonate of Soda
1 tbsp Apple Cider Vinegar
3 tbsp good quality Olive Oil
1/2 tsp Salt
Optional flavour variations: 1 tbsp curry powder // pesto // sun-dried tomatoes, chopped // Kalamata olives // Zaatar spice mix

Method:

  1. Heat the oven to 170˚c. If using a non-stick pan, line it with parchment paper.
  2. Measure the raw almonds and cashews into your food processor and turn it on. It’s a loud start so don’t be startled. Continue processing for about 10-15 min until the mixture transformed from crumbs, to a dough-like ball and then into a creamy butter texture. Your food processor will probably heat up, so be careful and don’t panic if you see steam rising from the bowl.
  3. With the processor still running, add the eggs and measure in the rest of the ingredients. You will have a thick and gloopy (but not lumpy) batter. If adding olives or other flavours, pulse them in now (Don’t over work them, just mix them in).
  4. Pour the batter into the loaf tin and bake for 45 min, checking a toothpick comes out dry before removing from the oven. The bread doesn’t brown so much on the top.
  5. Let it cool for 5 min, then remove from the tin onto a cooling rack.
  6. Storage: The bread keeps for 5-7 days in the fridge, wrapped in a layer of parchment paper, then covered with a layer of aluminium foil.

Enjoy!

I see your unleavened and I raise you SCD friendly: Passover recipe roundup No. 1

It’s been a long time since I posted on this blog and that’s one of the reasons I was so reluctant to start one in the first place. I knew I didn’t have the self discipline to post on a regular basis. But, I’m here now, so if you want some good, Pesscah recipes, read on.

Since my last post we started experimenting with a new diet to try and help my other half’s Crohn’s symptoms. After making gluten free bread sticks for Valentines day, which sent him in a downwards spiral for about a week, we decided to introduce the  Specific Carbohydrates Diet which you can read all about on the Breaking the Vicious Cycle website and book. It worked for about two – three weeks until we had some lentils which, again, caused a week of pain and suffering. So we went back to basics and now stick to the allowed meat and fish, eggs, dairy, fruit and veg. No pulses or legumes and it seams to be working.

It’s relatively easy to follow the diet on a daily basis, if you enjoy cooking and are open to experimentation. Eating out is a bit more of a challenge, but this week it’s the Jewish holiday of Passover and whilst grains aren’t allowed for anyone, Matzah and it’s products is still made out of wheat. The challenge for this week was making traditional Passover food suitable for the SCD diet, without compromising on taste, texture and variety. In some cases, the only change was replacing the sugar with honey. In other the main ingredients had to be replaced and the process amended to suit the SCD way.

These are the foods we made and the recipes to make them:

Steamed CSD Keneidalach (Matzo Balls) Makes about 17 ping pong size balls

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Original recipe by SCD Recipe Roundup and tweaked by me

Ingredients:

4 large eggs
4 tablespoons Olive Oil
1 1/4 cup Blanched ground almonds and more as needed.
1/4 cup Coconut flour (this absorbs liquids really well, like the Matzo Mill does in the regular recipe)
1/4 cup Fresh Parsley, finely chopped
1 teaspoon Salt
1 teaspoon Baking Soda
Fresh ground pepper to taste

Method:

1. In a medium bowl, lightly whisk eggs with oil.
2. Add flours, salt, parsley and baking soda and stir till smooth. If the mixture is too wet, add more ground almonds. If it’s too dry, add some water, a spoon-full at a time until it’s smoother.
3. Let mixture stand for 20 minutes so the flours absorbs liquid.
4. If you don’t have bamboo steaming baskets, place a small heat proof bowl up-side-down in a deep saucepan (that has a lid) and place a lightly oiled plate on top of the bowl, then pour hot water half way up the bowl and bring back to a simmer. If you have steaming baskets, bring water  to a boil in a suitably sized saucepan. Prepare about 5 greaseproof paper linings for your baskets and oil them as you go.
5. With wet hands, roll about 1 teaspoon of mixture between your palms into a ball; mixture will be very soft.
6. Place the balls in your baskets or on the plate in the saucepan (I cooked about 5 balls in each basket, they expand but not by much) and steam for 6min. Try one to see if it’s cooked through.
7. Cool on an oiled plate or plop directly into your soup.

Notes on Matzo balls:

Steaming: The first trial I did for this recipe ended up a total mess. I tried boiling the balls and they fell apart in the water. For the second trial I decided to let the batter rest for longer and steamed the balls like Chinese dumplings. That worked a treat and made J very happy.

Flavour and Texture: As we aren’t using Matzo Mill, the flavour isn’t identical to regular Keneidalach, but the outcome has it’s own unique flavour and the egg taste is quite strong. The parsley adds a nice taste and you can try adding a grated carrot too. The balls go hard as they cool but soften a bit in the hot soup. the coconut flout ads a flakey texture.

SCD Matzo Makes a good batch of ‘half matzo’ sized crackers

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Recipe inspiration from Elena’s Pantry

Ingredients:

400gr (4 cups) blanched ground Almonds

A hand full (aprox 1/4 cup) of Pecan nut halves (these are optional and are used for visual purposes only. I think they make the Matzo look a bit more realistic and they do add a gentle roasted pecan flavour)

2tsp Salt (I used Maldon)

2-3 medium Eggs

3tbsp Olive Oil

3tbsp Water

* Make sure you have enough parchment paper

Method:

  1. Heat the oven to 180˚c (350˚f) and prepare all your cookie baking pans as you will need them all.
  2. In a small food processor or spice grinder pulls the Pecan halves so they resemble thick crumbs (they are meant to look like the brown bubbles on a real Matzo).
  3. Place the Almonds, crushed Pecans and salt in a large mixing bowl.
  4. In a separate bowl, whist together the eggs (start with two and add one more if dough is too dry), Oil and 2tbsp of water.
  5. Mix wet ingredients into dry and form a dough. If mixture is very crumbly, add the third spoon of water. if it’s still crumbly, add the third egg, whisked and add more water as needed. If it’s too wet, ass ground almonds. The texture of the dough should be soft and pliable.
  6. Tear a handful of dough and place between two baking parchment sheets, then roll out the dough until 3-5mm thick.
  7. Using a knife, or even better, a Pizza rolling knife, cut out rectangles the size of half a Matzo size and remove the excess dough from around it.
  8. Make it look like a matzo: Using a fork, poke vertical lines of dots onto the dough, so it looks like real Matzo.
  9. Bake for 10 min, until golden brown, then cool on a rack.
  10. Repeat the rolling, poking and baking with the rest of your dough