Wednesday, 27 January 2010

A gluten free Canadian Treat - Daring Bakers

The January 2010 Daring Bakers’ challenge was hosted by Lauren of Celiac Teen. Lauren chose Gluten-Free Graham Wafers and Nanaimo Bars as the challenge for the month. The sources she based her recipe on are 101 Cookbooks and

 I have known Lauren a while now through us both having gluten free blogs and so it was wonderful to have her host this month's Daring Baker's challenge. I actually did this challenge quite early in the month as I needed some cake to take to an event but as I was pushed for time I used some gingerbread instead of trying her recipe for gluten free Graham crackers. However it does look like a recipe I would like to try at some point. The gingerbread was of course gluten free and the only other changes I made was to replace the almonds with walnuts and add a little crystallised ginger to the middle layer to cut the sweetness slightly and tie in with the gingerbread. I was worried the middle layer would be too sweet but paired with the dark chocolate on top and the base it wasn't that bad as long as you eat it in inch square pieces :)

I do really like this recipe and its nice to try something Canada which in many ways is halfway between America and us in that they have more ingredients we use such as the Bird's custard powder but also obviously a lot from their southern neighbour.

The recipe below included the Graham crackers partly so I have ti to hand when i do have time to try them.

On a completely different note. I failed to do a menu this week and boy have I noticed.. we have been in disarray where as last week was more hectic but I managed to cook something sensible most days.. so I am definitely making the time to do a menu for next week !

Nanaimo Bars

Preparation time:
• Graham Wafers: 30 to 45 minutes total active prep, 2 ½ hours to overnight and 45 minutes inactive prep.
• Nanaimo Bars: 30 minutes.

Equipment required:
• Food Processor
• Bowls
• Parchment paper or silpats
• Cookie sheets
• Double boiler or pot and heatproof bowl
• 8 by 8 inch square pan
• Hand mixer or stand mixer (You may use a wooden spoon, but this makes it much easier!)
• Saucepan

For Gluten-Free Graham Wafers
1 cup (138 g) (4.9 ounces) Sweet rice flour (also known as glutinous rice flour)
3/4 cup (100 g) (3.5 ounces) Tapioca Starch/Flour
1/2 cup (65 g) (2.3 ounces) Sorghum Flour
1 cup (200 g) (7.1 ounces) Dark Brown Sugar, Lightly packed
1 teaspoon (5 mL) Baking soda
3/4 teaspoon (4 mL ) Kosher Salt
7 tablespoons (100 g) (3 ½ ounces) Unsalted Butter (Cut into 1-inch cubes and frozen)
1/3 cup (80 mL) Honey, Mild-flavoured such as clover.
5 tablespoons (75 mL) Whole Milk
2 tablespoons (30 mL) Pure Vanilla Extract

1. In the bowl of a food processor fitted with a steel blade, combine the flours, brown sugar, baking soda, and salt. Pulse on low to incorporate. Add the butter and pulse on and off, until the mixture is the consistency of a coarse meal. If making by hand, combine aforementioned dry ingredients with a whisk, then cut in butter until you have a coarse meal. No chunks of butter should be visible.
2. In a small bowl or liquid measuring cup, whisk together the honey, milk and vanilla. Add to the flour mixture until the dough barely comes together. It will be very soft and sticky.
3. Turn the dough onto a surface well-floured with sweet rice flour and pat the dough into a rectangle about 1 inch thick. Wrap in plastic and chill until firm, about 2 hours, or overnight.
4. Divide the dough in half and return one half to the refrigerator. Sift an even layer of sweet rice flour onto the work surface and roll the dough into a long rectangle, about 1/8 inch thick. The dough will be quite sticky, so flour as necessary. Cut into 4 by 4 inch squares. Gather the scraps together and set aside. Place wafers on one or two parchment-lined baking sheets. Chill until firm, about 30 to 45 minutes. Repeat with the second batch of dough.
5. Adjust the rack to the upper and lower positions and preheat oven to 350 degrees Fahrenheit (180 degrees Celsius).
6. Gather the scraps together into a ball, chill until firm, and reroll. Dust the surface with more sweet rice flour and roll out the dough to get a couple more wafers.
7. Prick the wafers with toothpick or fork, not all the way through, in two or more rows.
8. Bake for 25 minutes, until browned and slightly firm to the touch, rotating sheets halfway through to ensure even baking. Might take less, and the starting location of each sheet may determine its required time. The ones that started on the bottom browned faster.
9. When cooled completely, place enough wafers in food processor to make 1 ¼ cups (300 mL) of crumbs. Another way to do this is to place in a large ziplock bag, force all air out and smash with a rolling pin until wafers are crumbs.

Nanaimo Bars
For Nanaimo Bars — Bottom Layer
1/2 cup (115 g) (4 ounces) Unsalted Butter
1/4 cup (50 g) (1.8 ounces) Granulated Sugar
5 tablespoons (75 mL) Unsweetened Cocoa
1 Large Egg, Beaten
1 1/4 cups (300 mL) (160 g) (5.6 ounces) Gluten Free Graham Wafer Crumbs (See previous recipe)
1/2 cup (55 g) (1.9 ounces) Almonds (Any type, Finely chopped)
1 cup (130 g) (4.5 ounces) Coconut (Shredded, sweetened or unsweetened)

For Nanaimo Bars — Middle Layer
1/2 cup (115 g) (4 ounces) Unsalted Butter
2 tablespoons and 2 teaspoons (40 mL) Heavy Cream
2 tablespoons (30 mL) Vanilla Custard Powder (Such as Bird’s. Vanilla pudding mix may be substituted.)
2 cups (254 g) (8.9 ounces) Icing Sugar

For Nanaimo Bars — Top Layer
4 ounces (115 g) Semi-sweet chocolate
2 tablespoons (28 g) (1 ounce) Unsalted Butter

1. For bottom Layer: Melt unsalted butter, sugar and cocoa in top of a double boiler. Add egg and stir to cook and thicken. Remove from heat. Stir in crumbs, nuts and coconut. Press firmly into an ungreased 8 by 8 inch pan.
2. For Middle Layer: Cream butter, cream, custard powder, and icing sugar together well. Beat until light in colour. Spread over bottom layer.
3. For Top Layer: Melt chocolate and unsalted butter over low heat. Cool. Once cool, pour over middle layer and chill.
Additional Information:
These bars freeze very well, so don’t be afraid to pop some into the freezer.
The graham wafers may be kept in an airtight container for up to 2 weeks. Mine lasted about that long.
If making the graham crackers with wheat, replace the gluten-free flours (tapioca starch, sweet rice flour, and sorghum flour) with 2 ½ cups plus 2 tbsp of all-purpose wheat flour, or wheat pastry flour. Watch the wheat-based graham wafers very closely in the oven, as they bake faster than the gluten-free ones, sometimes only 12 minutes.
For the Nanaimo Bars, if making with wheat, replace the gluten-free graham wafer crumbs with equal parts wheat graham wafer crumbs!

Monday, 18 January 2010

Gluten Free Menu Swap - Parsnips

I'm hosting the Gluten Free Menu Swap this week and I chose Parsnips as my ingredient.

We love parsnips here, often referred to in our house as 'snips though I have found they are one of those veg you either love or hate. They are one of those vegs that really symbolise winter food for us and one that we await with anticipation. Parsnips are a bit like a carrot but much bigger and a creamy white colour. They are quite sweet and roast wonderfully. We always have them when we have a roast dinner along with roast potatoes. Parsnips are a good source of vitamins and very versatile, our favourites apart from roast include Curried Parsnip soup and parsnip crisps.. They also make a great mash and we sometimes mix them with carrot for a mix veg mash. Adding them to a stew or soup gives it a lovely mellow sweetness.

They take a long time to grow and they benefit form frost before they are harvested as that makes them sweeter. The seed goes off very quickly so they are one of the few vegs it is very sensible to get new seed for each year. This year I hope to have more luck growing them than last time when none came up and I plan to try a couple of different sowing dates to see what if any difference that makes .

You can find some more recipes here at Vegbox-recipes..

I did a dinner party for Tom's birthday and totally forgot to take pictures.. far too busy cooking  but the menu was as follows.

Starters - Balsamic roasted red peppers, and spiced roast corgettes, cream cheese stuffed battered mushrooms.

Soup - French Onion or Roast Butternut.

Main - Pork and apple Terrine or Beetroot Gnocchi  served with a choice of roast potatoes, pue lentils, Waldron salad, green salad and a choice of chutneys and pickles.

Desert - banana curd crème brulee, maroons, cupcakes and a chocolate heart cake (the last two were gluten as they were supplied by others)

Menu of the week.

Monday - liver and onions or sausage meat patties with potato and parsnip wedges, leeks in cream sauce and carrots. (only some of us will eat liver)

Tuesday - Veg Pakoras - leek and/or cabbage, chickpea curry of some sort.

Wednesday - Curried Parsnip soup and cheese scones

Thursday - Stew and dumplings.

Friday - Tomato and Egg

Baking and Batch cooking. -we need some biscuits and similar, possibly some bread.

Other menus

Manda of Asparagus Thin has been updating her blog look and very nice it is too. She loves parsnips too and had the great suggestion of parsnip muffins.. that is so on my list of things to try now!

Over at Gluten Free is Life parsnips will be something new if they try them. Hope they do as I think they are fantastic, apparently she is thinking of adding them to her fairly long list of vegetable fries she has tried. I can confirm they make the most wonderful chips (fries) and crisps (chips). Here we can get bags of parsnip crisps or parsnip, beetroot and carrot mixes. Only think to remember don't have the fat to hot because of the natural sugars in them they brown very fast.

Angela over at Angela's Kitchen has a birthday girl in the family this week and has made the most fantastic cupcakes for her.. those would be appreciated by pretty much all our family young or old !! The Princess Bride is a must see and one of our all time favourites.. fantastic fairytale for the kids, so many layers, double meanings and just brilliant sayings for the more adult among us! I quite fancy the sound of Halibut in Green Tea Broth too!!

Wednesday, 13 January 2010

Daring Cooks do Satay

The January 2010 DC challenge was hosted by Cuppy of Cuppylicious and she chose a delicious Thai-inspired recipe for Pork Satay from the book 1000 Recipes by Martha Day.

This was a very interesting and indeed delicious recipe. Not a straight thai satay but none the worse for that.

I made two versions, chicken and pork, both were really lovely.. The pork was stronger and darker which I loved, where as the chicken was gobbled up by the smaller members of the family. The marinade gave the meat a lovely depth of flavour but still allowed each meat to come though.

Cuppy also gave us a peanut sauce recipe to go with the meat. My first attempt doing this curdled horribly. I think I cooked it too fast and too hot, but after much stirring it came back together. The second time I was more careful to heat it slowly and it worked fine.. yes it was good enough to make more than once. It is possible though that the sort of peanut butter I used had some effect as I used two different types. The first one was a fairly basic smooth and the second a whole-nut crunchy. Both were great and we ate the extra over the remaining rice.. Honestly I could just eat rice and sauce!

I can honestly say this was the quickest and easiest Daring recipe I have ever done but that is not at all a bad thing as it is one we will certainly be adding to our regular menus and many of them have been too complicated to cook regualrly around two small boys however much we might like them.

Recipes below are as Cuppy gave them to us.

Pork Satay with Peanut Sauce

 Depending on the ingredients you select, 

Time Table

30 min.
4 – 24 hrs
20 min.
30 min.
6 – 24 hrs
20 min.
30 min.
2 – 12 hrs
10 – 15 min.
5 - 10 min.
2 hrs
5 - 10 min.
5 - 10 min.
2 hrs
5 - 10 min.

Satay Marinade

1/2 small onion, chopped
2 garlic cloves, crushed
1 T ginger root, chopped (optional) (2 cm cubed)
2 T lemon juice (1 oz or 30 mls)
1 T soy sauce (0.5 oz or 15 mls)
1 tsp ground coriander (5 mls)
1 tsp ground cumin (5 mls)
1/2 tsp ground turmeric (2-2.5 mls)
2 T vegetable oil (or peanut or olive oil) (30 mls)
1 pound of pork (loin or shoulder cuts) (16 oz or 450g)

Feeling the need to make it more Thai? Try adding a dragon chili, an extra tablespoon of ginger root, and 1 tablespoon (0.5 oz or 15 mls) of fish sauce. (I keep some premature (still green) dragon chili peppers in the freezer for just such an occasion.)
1a. Cheater alert: If you have a food processor or blender, dump in everything except the pork and blend until smooth. Lacking a food processor, I prefer to chop my onions, garlic and ginger really fine then mix it all together in a medium to large bowl.
2a. Cut pork into 1 inch strips.
3a. Cover pork with marinade. You can place the pork into a bowl, cover/seal and chill, or place the whole lot of it into a ziplock bag, seal and chill.

Uncooked Chicken and Pork Satay

Chill Chart
Tofu (no oil)
4-8 hrs
Up to 24 hrs
6-8 hrs
Up to 24 hrs
1-4 hours
Up to 12 hrs
20 min – 2 hrs
Up to 4 hrs
20 min – 4 hrs
Up to 12 hrs

1b. Mix well.
2b. Cut pork into 1 inch thick strips (2-2.5 cm thick), any length.
3b. Cover pork with marinade. You can place the pork into a bowl, cover/seal and chill, or place the whole lot of it into a ziplock bag, seal and chill.

Cooking Directions (continued):
4. If using wooden or bamboo skewers, soak your skewers in warm water for at least 20 minutes before preparing skewers.
5. Gently and slowly slide meat strips onto skewers. Discard leftover marinade.*
6. Broil or grill at 290°C/550° F (or pan fry on medium-high) for 8-10 minutes or until the edges just start to char. Flip and cook another 8-10 minutes.
* If you’re grilling or broiling, you could definitely brush once with extra marinade when you flip the skewers.

 Peanut Sauce
3/4 cup coconut milk (6 oz or 180 mls)
4 Tbsp peanut butter (2 oz or 60 mls)
1 Tbsp lemon juice (0.5 oz or 15 mls)
1 Tbsp soy sauce (0.5 oz or 15 mls)
1 tsp brown sugar (5 mls)
1/2 tsp ground cumin (2.5 mls)
1/2 tsp ground coriander (2.5 mls)
1-2 dried red chilies, chopped (keep the seeds for heat)
1. Mix dry ingredients in a small bowl. Add soy sauce and lemon, mix well.
2. Over low heat, combine coconut milk, peanut butter and your soy-lemon-seasoning mix. Mix well, stir often.
3. All you’re doing is melting the peanut butter, so make your peanut sauce after you’ve made everything else in your meal, or make ahead of time and reheat.

Monday, 11 January 2010

Weekly Menu and exersise - Week 2 2010

 Ginger, chocolate and ginger/chocolate creme deserts by Tom for last weekend.

As I mentioned before I have joined the ten in 10 challenge and from there joined Sparkpeople which I am finding a really useful resource for logging both what I eat and what exercise I do. I am finding the wii fit is wonderful for keeping me doing at least some exercise each day (about 20 - 30 mins in fact) though it slipped slightly the last couple of days of last week which rather taken up with feeling lousy from a cold and cooking for an event at the weekend. I did then do some fairly energetic dancing at the event though. I also walked a few places. According to the wii fit I have even lost a few pounds though I'm not convinced I will not find them back again after the weekend.. I'll tell you later.

I did get to the allotment but only to drop off vegs for composting but I figure considering it was under several inces of snow and the ground is frozen solid I couldn't really do much anyway.. Well I do have some inside the greenhouse stuff to do but nothing serious.

I plan to continue to trying to do the wii fit most days and walking as much as possible, though I am wary of the state of our pavements with the current snow and ice, we arn't used to it here but we have made a decision in our house that next time it snows we are clearing the pavement outside our house so it doesn't compact and turn to ice.. then at least one small streach will be clear. The number of people, particularly older people, breaking bones slipping on the way to the shops etc is just not funny at the moment.. I don't think we can expect the council to have the resources to do that, the money involved in keeping the equitment etc available for the occational day a year can be spent much better elsewhere but if we all did the pavement outside our house then it would all be clear.

This week I have joined the Primal Stride 7 day challenges. They actually start on Thursday but I missed that due to the cooking and event so I'm starting week 2 today and either overlapping next week or I'll start each week behind everyone else. This week's challenge is the Double Crunch Challenge

Exercise: 250 crunches per day. Split them up however you like. 250 crunches every 24hrs will do it. (I'm starting at 100 today and working up as I think if I do 250 I will not be able to move tomorrow and therefore fail)

Health: Eat a different green vegetable each day. Suggested modifications include eating a different fruit each day or preparing a green vegetable in a different way each day. It’s up to you! Be creative!
Cooking wise for the event lastweekend we made some creme deserts, three layered veg puree terrines, one pepper and cheese terrine, lots of cheese biscuits and some gluten puff pasty squares with either apple and cramalised onion or brie and cranberry. We have decided we are getting some small shot glasses to do deserts in for next time we help cater the event.. We were just doing the veg bit for one meal the main people the food did a fantastic job and there was very few things I couldn't eat which was very appriciated even the main pudding was gluten free and very nice pears in red wine with rasiens they were too!!! Unfortunatly apart from the creme deserts I was too busy to think about photos.

 The gluten free menu swap this week is hosted by Gluten free is Life and they have chosen GF Pizza which is fantastic as I was just thinking I should make up some more pizza bases. I recently saw a sweet apple based one which looked fantastic so might even try that. I will also post my menu on Organized Junkie's menu plan monday.

Menu 11th to 17th Jan 2010
Monday - pasta with a corgette and bacon sauce (green veg 1).

Tuesday -  Sausages, mash, baked beans and sprout tops (green veg 2)

Wensday - Veg terrine made with Sweet potato, parsnip and broccoli (green veg 3) with potato/sweet potato rosti for those smalls who will refuse anything that looks green and is not cucumber.

Thursday - Daring Cook reveal day and I think we will have that dish again. (you will have to wait till then to find out what it is) probably served with spinich (green veg 4)

Friday -  stir fried sprouts with honey, ginger and lemon with noodles and stir fried chicken. (green veg 5 - I think sprouts and sprout tops taste different enough to count as different veg.)

Sataday  - we are having a brithday dinner party for Tom, menu still to be sorted based on who is definetly coming and what they can and can't eat.. So far with 8 people we have vegitarian, gluten free, no eggs/tomatoes and possibly no cheese as well as some who are fussy on veg and so forth :)  I love my friends they like to challange me ! I will manage a proper dinner party type menu they can all eat!
(Green veg 6 - not sure as yet but there is bound to be at least one green thing.)

Sunday - Pizza as it's easy after the dinner party (green peppers of my 7th and last veg )

Monday, 4 January 2010

weekly Menu - week 1 2010

A picture of me.. what do you mean you can't see me for the battle raging next to and on top of me? 

This week Asparagus Thin has picked movie themed food for our menu swap this week which is a really fun idea, wonder if  can think clearly enough to join in. My movie choices are rather old school which isn't to say I don't watch newer ones it's just those came to mind, probably because I've seen them more often.

Lunches for boys.. - The land that Time forgot (an oldy but a goodie) - dinosaur shaped sandwiches.. we were given a cutter that cuts two dinosaurs from one slice and they love it.

Monday - [Oliver] - Cheese bread and butter pudding for the gluten eaters as we had a good but crumbly loaf to use up. Broccoli and Stilton soup for me.

Tuesday - Daring Cooks challenge dish (can't tell you what it is and a movie would be giving you a clue)

Wensday - [Lady and the tramp - my cat LOVES tuna and when begging reminds me of the siamese]  Tuna pasta bake.

Thursday - [ Lock, stock and two smoking barrels] sausage and mash.

Friday -  We will be cooking dishes for an event at the weekend so probably take out.

Saturday, 2 January 2010

Ten in 10 healthy Challenge

I have joined a 10 week challenge over at Recipe Girl. It is called the Ten in 10 challenge is ten weeks in 2010. There are no specific things we are committed to doing it is up to us to set our own goals but it gives us all some support.

One of the resources she suggested was Spark People which is a free website where you can log your food diary and exercise logs and so forth. Having tried it for a few days I'm really impressed. I have paid for on-line food diaries before and it ticks most of the boxes those did. Critical for me it allows you to add in our own foods easily, as nearly all of these as based in the states not the UK and don't have gluten free foods in them much that is very important. They also have forums (though so far I find the format of those a little confusing) and a fun points system to encourage you to read articles and so forth.. All in all pretty good and free too! I do find having to log what I eat and do makes me focus better without to much stress about it.

so my goals for Ten in 10 specifically.

1) To keep logging food and excercise most days

2) To assess my diet and see if I can find ways of eating enough calories.. yes that's right enough calories, unless I eat too much fat I tend not to get to the recommended amount and that is meant to make your body think it's a famine and there for go into conservation mode. How mad it that!!

3) To up the amount of exercise I do generally be that walking, using our new wii fit (which is great fun) or digging the allotment.

4) I'm not going to have a specific weight loss goal but I do want to loose inches off my waist.. don't get me wrong I have plenty of weight to loose but if i focus on that I get depressed as I plato a lot and know if anything it will go up to start with when I exercise more as I put on mustle to start with rather than loosing fat.

5) Go to the allotment once a week at least, partly to get it ready for the growing season and partly just because it is a lovely place and I relax as soon as I get there, it's almost like being out in the countryside again. Me time is important and being outside is great.. though at this time of year I need to remind myself I will enjoy it once I'm out.

Friday, 1 January 2010

Plans for 2010 and a fabulous parcel

The parcel first, on the gluten free recipe group it was suggested we have a chirstmas gluten free goodies swap and I was paired with Anna in Germany. The idea was we sent each other a shoebox fully of goodies and mine arrived a couple of days ago but I had to wait to get to the postoffice to collect it as we were out when they tried to deliver it. I have to admit I haven't sent mine yet as I failed to send it in time before Christmas partly due to a stomch bug and didn't want to have food sat in a box in some sorting office over Christmas.. I promise to get it in the post this week though!  As you can see Anna has done me proud. Lots of lovely biscuits (already sampled by me and the boys on some cases), two types of pretzles some tea with ginger and some great sounding recipes.

Now on to the plans.
I don't exactly do resolutions but I do try and look at the last year and see what i want to do differently in the next.

This last year in concept at least has been pretty good so I think really it's more of the same but better.

1) Menus have worked well so I plan to keep doing them but hopefully a little more in advance.

2) The allotment has be great but I hope to do a lot more this coming year and to get at least twice as much ground into production properly this year.. which unless the slugs decimate it again should mean we are self surficent in veg at least over the summer.

3) More mainly veg based dishes which is of course tied up with the growing of said veg. Also possibly having more of a go at preserving things be that in jars or drying or whatever.

4)  More exercise. This is partly tied in with the allotment.. more digging is more exercise but also other things. We just got a wii fit and so far that has been great fun. Though the Yoga has so far loosened my shoulders enough to remind me how stiff they are and give me a headache I know from experience I need to get through that and it will be better once they get looser again! The balance board is great for things like that as it gives you lots of feedback on your stance.

5) I'd like to loose weight. This is one I always feel wary about putting down as I rarely loose weight if I think about it to much and I'm aware that more exercise may make me weight more not less as I put muscle on fast for a woman so perhaps a better target is less inches and that's really what I care about anyway, I'm fed up of having a pregnant tummy when I'm not!!.. that and I want more energy!

6) To be better at sorting and clearing the house, the kitchen is much harder to use when messy and that goes for the rest of the house too. I don't do things because I can't find the right tools or space to work and our house isn't small we just need to get rid of a lot of stuff!!

7) Review how our local Freegle group (was Freecycle till recently) runs as see if we can improve that any now we have over 13,000 members as some things work better for small groups and now we are so big many members have problems with the amount of traffic and I think we are more of a juicy target for spammers and those less honest people after items to sell.. To be clear I don't mind people selling items IF they are honest about it when they ask for them..  Currently however most of my energy on that score is going on helping sort the national level stuff but I didn't stand for the committee so hope to have time to consider options for the local group too..

8) To have another real go at getting permission and help to get the local orchard up and running again. It is owned by the council and so far we have failed to find who we need to speak to never mind get anywhere farther.

9) Help the local school grow more veg and make sure they get in contact with a local initiative that is willing to help but has not managed to make contact with them only with me!

10) Get back into making things properly and regularly and maybe even make a bit of money here and there doing so.

Ten sounds a good number so I'll stop there as that's a pretty good range of aims I think !