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

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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.

 

Lots of courgettes! Lots of fun!

It’s summer (yes, an English summer, but summer non the less) and we are enjoying our neighbour’s glut of courgettes. Almost every day we get 5 or more beautiful fresh courgettes.

And so, I find myself making everything (SCD bread, SCD muffins, salads, roasted veg) with courgettes. But sometimes I’m stuck for inspiration.

The food channel is our guilty pleasure. We watch programmes about fatty, bready american diner food, beautiful baked cakes and dessert full of sugar and flour and many other foods we just don’t/won’t eat, but love to watch. One afternoon a recipe for courgette fritters caught my eye. It was, of course, made with breadcrumbs and feta cheese; and the fritters were deep fried, which is something I try not to do. But, it inspired me to experiment with making my own fritters, made the SCD way and baked/grilled, rather than fried.

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SCD Courgette Fritters

With a herby dipping sauce

Serves 4 as a meal or make them smaller for party finger foods

Ingredients:
2-3 Courgettes (depends on the size of the courgette)
200g Roasted Butternut Squash (optional, if not using, up the ground almond quantity)
100g Ground Almonds
50g hard cheese, such as Manchego, Parmesan or Pecorino, thickly grated
1-2 Eggs
Salt and pepper to taste
Olive Oil

Method:

  1. Heat your oven to 200˚c. Line a large baking sheet with aluminium foil, then spread a thin layer of olive oil on it using a brush.
  2. Grate the courgettes on the thick grater (I used the food processor grating blade to save time)
  3. Squeeze the water out of the grated courgette, using the palms of your hands or twisting in a tea towel.
  4. In a large bowl, combine the roasted squash, ground almonds, 1 egg and seasoning to a thick paste. If the mixture is too thick, add the second egg.
  5. Add the grated cheese and squeezed courgettes and mix well until all the ingredients are well combined.
  6. Using your hands, shape patties and place them on the baking sheet, then drizzle a few drops of olive oil on top of each patty.
  7. Bake in the oven for 10min, then switch your oven to ‘grill’, move the tray to the highest level in the oven and grill the top of the fritters so they colour nicely on top for about 3-5min.
  8.  Remove from the oven and leave to cool for a few minutes before serving (this will make removing them from the tray easier).

2tbsp Herb Dipping Sauce:

Chop 2tbsp each of Parsley and Dill (or any other herb combo you like) into a bowl, mix in 2tbs SCD yogurt, 2tbsp home made mayonnaise and salt and pepper to taste.

Increase the quantities according to the amount of servings.

Serve the Fritters with the sauce and a green salad.

Enjoy!

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!

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!