VEGEEEEMMMMIIIITTTTTEEEEEE

Oh my goodness, oh my goodness, oh my goodness!! My excitement is off the charts right now. I can make our own Vegemite!!! It’s Gluten Free, It’s Oh. So. Tasty. It’s Healthy (!!) and it tastes better than the real thing.

For those who aren’t Australian, you might not get my excitement right now. That’s ok. I’m sorry for you. Vegemite is the stuff many of us grow up on here. It’s salty, with the right amount of butter it’s creamy, and it’s addictive. In fact, it’s one of the things Mr Incredible has missed most about not being able to eat wheat – the store bought replacements are very ordinary – one of them smelt so bad I wanted to puke whenever he opened the jar.

Now though, HOOORAY! With 4 ingredients we can make the stuff at home. Stoked.

The ingredients is thanks to this post on Thermomix’s recipe community.

Ingredients

  • 70 grams Black Tahini Paste or black sesame seeds
  • 50 grams tamari sauce
  • 5 grams Nutritional Yeast Flakes, or 1 Tablespoon
  • 5 grams apple cider vinegar, or 1 teaspoon (I use Braggs)

Method

  1. If you are using black sesame seeds, mill them until they become a paste
  2. Add all ingredients to Thermomix mixing bowl (or a high speed blender) and mix for 20 seconds at speed 3. Scrape down and repeat.
  3. Store in a glass jar in the fridge.

Homemade "vegemite" on homemade bread

Vegan Cheese? Yes Please!

While on a recent holiday to Tasmania we popped into a shop selling vegan cheeses for Mr Incredible. They were delicious and he could eat them ALL… the price though was extreme. $20 or so for a small round. Crazy right? Especially when you can make it sooo much cheaper with very little effort at home. Thanks to the blog at Minimalist Baker I’ve adapted the recipe to be quick and simple with the aid of a thermal cooking machine, like the Thermomix (which I love!).  Hooray!!!

Ingredients
  • 2 cups (240 g) raw cashews
  • 2 garlic cloves – slightly crushed with a knife
  • 1/2 tsp garlic powder, plus more to taste
  • 1 lemon peel (no white pith)
  • 1 lemons, juiced (1/4 cup)
  • 180 grams water
  • 2 Tbsp  nutritional yeast
  • 1/2 tsp sea salt
  • 2 Tbsp (around 25grams) olive oil
To serve
  • 2 Tbsp (8 g) finely minced fresh dill

Method

  1. Place cashews in a bowl and cover with cool water. Soak for 4 hours on the bench or overnight in the fridge
  2. Once soaked, drain cashews thoroughly and add to thermie. Add minced garlic, garlic powder, lemon zest, lemon juice, water, nutritional yeast, salt and olive oil.
  3. Process speed 5 for 30 seconds, scrape down sides
  4. Then taste and adjust seasonings as needed, adding more lemon zest for tartness, nutritional yeast for cheesiness, garlic for zing, or salt for flavour and balance. Depending how large your lemon was, you may need to combat the extra zest with more yeast flakes.
  5. Process on speed 9 for 20 seconds until very creamy and smooth
  6. Drain ingredients through a nut bag/cheese cloth over a bowl and squeeze
  7. While in bag/cloth form the cheese into a “disc.”
  8. Place in refrigerator to set for at least 6 hours, preferably 12, or until excess moisture has been wicked away, and it holds its form when released from the nutbag/cheese cloth.
  9. To serve, unwrap from bag/cheesecloth and gently invert onto a serving platter. Reform with hands or cheesecloth as needed, then coat with chopped herbs and a bit more lemon zest (optional). It is fragile, so handle gently.
  10. Enjoy chilled with crackers or vegetables. Cheese will hold its form for 1-2 hours out of the refrigerator, but best when chilled. Leftovers keep well covered in the refrigerator up to 5 days.
Cooking Notes
*If you’re in a hurry, you can quick-soak the cashews by covering with boiling hot water and letting soak for 1.5 hours. Drain and proceed with recipe as instructed. However, for this recipe long soaking (for 12 hours in cool water) is best because the cashews slowly soften rather than being shocked, yielding a softer, creamier cheese.
*Recipe adapted from Maple Spice and RawMazing.
* Garlic powder and fresh garlic are both used because they offer different flavors (dried is more intense while fragrant, fresh is more intense/spicy).

 

Lunchbox safe: nut, dairy, gluten and sugar free muesli bars – which are delicious too!!

Mr Incredible just got the following text message:

Cooked these. They’re awesome and may not be any left when you get home…. shall I save you one??

IMG_4953.JPG

Made with banana as a binder and whatever you have in the cupboard, these muesli bars are incredibly versatile and super duper delicious. In fact, with the fruity undercurrent and chewy texture they remind me a little of the roll-ups I had as a kid. They’re also super easy to make – no electronic equipment required except for the oven. I’ve passed this recipe on to friends who “don’t bake” as they’re really that simple and satisfying.

Thanks to a friend for sharing this incredible idea – we make these almost daily at the moment and each batch is always gobbled up faster than I can believe. I’ve adapted the recipe from Eat Your Greens.

Pick and mix Banana Muesli Bars

Ingredients:

  • 1 cup of oats
  • 1 tsp cinnamon
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • optional 1 tsp vanilla / honey / maple syrup
  • * 1/2 cup sunflower seeds
  • * 1/2 cup chia seeds
  • * 1/3 cup sultanas
  • * 1/4 cup dried blueberries
  • * 1/2 cup pepitas
  • 3 mashed bananas (to the puree stage)

* These ingredients are interchangeable with what you have in your cupboard – if your school allows nuts you can also add chopped almonds, cashews, walnuts etc.. You also don’t need exact measurements – again, just use what you have and ensure that there’s enough banana to cover the ingredients. To be honest, now I’ve made them so many times I’m not even measuring the ingredients out!

Method:

  1. Preheat oven to 160°C (fan-forced oven 180 for non fan-forced).
  2. Grease the bottom and sides of a 9-by-9-inch square pan (I use a silicone pan so this isn’t needed)
  3. In a large bowl, combine the dry ingredients
  4. In a separate bowl, mash the bananas with a fork until they resemble a puree and add the vanilla / honey / maple syrup to this if you want to use it (I find it’s sweet enough without)
  5. Pour the bananas over the oat mixture and stir until all the dry ingredients are evenly moist.
  6. Press mixture evenly and firmly into the bottom of the pan.
  7. Bake for 30-35 minutes, until firm and lightly browned on the edges.
  8. Cut up and place on a cooling rack (they hold quite a lot of moisture so a cooling rack is better than cooling in the pan or on a plate).

 

Cooking notes:

  • You can store them in an airtight container for a couple days, but I recommend wrapping them individually and freezing them in a freezer-safe container for up to 3 months if you don’t think you’ll eat them that quickly.
  • Mine were quite thin, If you wanted them thicker like a commercial muesli bar, you might need to add more ingredients and another banana to cover the mix. Try it as it is the first time though – then get your confidence up and experiment.
  • The chia seeds also help to bind the mixture – if you leave these out it might not work as well.
  • These are super easy to make with kids!
  • The more I make these the more I take short cuts and still have success. I now mash the bananas in a bowl first, then just top all the dry ingredients on top and mix it together – less washing and works just as well.

Hummus that works – and tastes oh. so. good.

I’ve had a mixed relationship with making hummus. When Adventure Girl started solids I would make it often and while it was on the chunkier side, we both quite enjoyed it. Upon reflection though it was after a friend came over for lunch and couldn’t stand it that I stopped making it so much… she was right, it was rather strong on the garlic even if I had done that on purpose. Criticism sticks and after a few bad batches I decided just to buy it (a great grocer in Sydney makes it additive free and delicious so it was just as good to buy although not as cheap).

We’ve been eating A LOT of hummus lately though. It just works with so many things – for dinners with baked potatoes or our hummus and lamb dish that we still eat on an almost weekly basis even though it’s mid-winter. It works for lunch or breakfast on the easy oatmeal loaf I’ve been making twice weekly since returning from NZ, or it’s delicious with crackers and cheese as an afternoon snack. We’re eating so much of it right now that what my stomach craved had run out… disaster! Did I dare to try again? Especially with the memory still fresh of my last batch that was way too strong on tahini… Thank you Google for directing me to the most genius recipe on Inspired Taste. This recipe has a different method from anything I’ve tried before AND it opens up the path to use peanut butter instead of tahini! This is brilliant as we always have peanut butter on hand (I buy in bulk whenever the good stuff is on sale and I use tahini so rarely it sets like a rock in our cupboard. This switch worked so well  – no peanut taste but oh. so. delicious. hummus. Creamy, light (I really couldn’t believe how light this method makes it) and spreadable. Adventure Girl and Dash ate it with a spoon. I may have also.

Hummus  by Joanne (on inspired taste)

Ingredients 

  • 1 tin of chickpeas (I use Honest to Goodness no BPA tins)
  • 1/4 cup of fresh squeezed lemon juice
  • 1/4 cup of tahini OR peanut butter
  • 1 small, minced, clove of garlic
  • 2 tablespoons of olive oil
  • 1/2 teaspoon of cumin
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt (plus more to taste if needed)
  • 1-3 tablespoons of water, depending upon texture

Method

  1. In the bowl of a food processor, combine the peanut butter/tahini and lemon juice and process for 1 minute, scrape the sides and bottom of the bowl then process for 30 seconds more. This extra time helps “whip” or “cream” the tahini, making the hummus smooth and creamy.
  2. Add the olive oil, minced garlic, cumin, and a 1/2 teaspoon of salt to the whipped tahini and lemon juice. Process for 30 seconds, scrape the sides and bottom of the bowl then process another 30 seconds or until well blended.
  3. Add the chickpeas and process for another minute.
  4. Most likely the hummus will be too thick or still have tiny bits of chickpea. To fix this, with the food processor turned on, slowly add 2 to 3 tablespoons of water until you reach the perfect consistency.
  5. Taste for salt and adjust as needed.

Notes:

  • Store homemade hummus in an airtight container and refrigerate up to one week.
  • You can cook the chickpeas yourself and then use them to make hummus – I have done that once or twice before but it’s a long process including overnight soaking.
  • Please, please, please don’t skimp on the blending time – it’s what makes this hummus better than the rest.

Hot Nights: Cool Dinners with hummus and lamb

It’s been hot here. Real hot. Our outdoor thermometer has often read in the high 30’s and into the 40’s for the past month (for those working on Fahrenheit, 40 degrees Celsius is 104 degrees) with a few days of blessed respite. By the time it’s dinner I just haven’t felt like cooking, much less sitting down to a hot meal and outdoor BBQ’s are still not fun. Thankfully, we’ve had a few great meals up our sleeve which are table, toddler and fun friendly.

I’ve adapted this dish from Yotam Ottolenghi’s Hummus Kawarma which is in his incredible book Jerusalem. This book is one of my favourites and while they’re not always applicable to weeknight dinners (see this post) the flavours speak for themselves.

My take on Yotam Ottolenghi’s Hummus Kawarma

Ingredients

To marinate:

  • 300gr Lamb backstrap (last night I also used veal scotch fillet with success)
  • 1/4 tsp black pepper
  • 1/2 tsp cinnamon
  • good pinch of nutmeg
  • 1 tsp za-atar
  • 1 tbsp apple cider vinegar
  • 1 tbsp chopped fresh mint
  • 1 tbsp chopped fresh flat leaf parsley
  • 1 tsp salt

To serve:

  • A simple mix of chopped tomato and cucumber
  • Hummus
  • Flatbreads

Method:

  1. Chop lamb into small strips and set aside
  2. Mix all ingredients and marinate for at least half an hour in the fridge (I tend to do this around lunch time)
  3. About 30 min before it’s time to cook get your lamb out of the fridge so it’s not as cold before you cook it
  4. Bring together all your ingredients to serve and make sure they’re ready
  5. When the table’s set turn the stove on a medium high heat, put oil in a heavy frypan and cook your lamb (with all the ingredients it’s been marinating in) for about 4 minutes, stirring while it cooks
  6. Transfer the lamb to a separate bowl and with all the ingredients on the table each person serve themselves what they want: It’s very much a sharing dish and finger food fun.

Market Day Inspiration: Carrot and Cashew Dip

Each week we visit our amazing local markets. I buy most of our fruit and veg from one of the stalls, and while it’s not organic it’s all chemical free produce. The best thing is that, along with being affordable, it tastes like food should. Carrots taste richer and sweeter, apples are amazing and quite frankly, we’ve never eaten as many mushrooms in our lives. When food is seasonal, picked very recently and sold by the grower (so you can ask questions about how best to cook, store and utilise it) it is at its best.

Last week, I wandered by one of the other stalls and found “juicing carrots” for $2/kilo… not bad for organic carrots that were perfectly edible but just a little odd looking. I bought them for juicing but decided to try something different as Dash’s vegetable intake has recently left much to be desired. As we all eat the same food in our household (except for Mr Incredible’s wheat free) I don’t cook anything special for the kids… Adventure Girl knows she won’t get dessert (yogurt or a gold kiwi-fruit which she loves) if she doesn’t eat all her food but Dash is a lot more choosy as well as being younger – he still gets dessert regardless!  With this in mind I created the following dip, which, I am pleased to report Dash devoured for afternoon tea AND dinner, along with roast pumpkin bites and cauliflower mash with some marinated chicken.

IMG_6304.JPGCarrot and Cashew Dip

An original recipe

Ingredients

  • 4 carrots
  • A handful of cashews
  • A pinch of salt
  • A pinch of cumin
  • A Tbsp Olive Oil

Method

  1. Cut and steam carrots until soft (but don’t over cook)
  2. Blend all ingredients
  3. If too soft add more cashews and if too thick add cooking water or olive oil.

 

Outstanding Orange Cake: Gluten and Dairy free

I love simplicity in ingredients. Those recipes you look at and they immediately give comfort and warmth by the ease of making and the delicious outcomes. This is one of those cakes. What makes it better is that it’s the perfect gluten and dairy free “event” cake that you can stack. I make it for all sorts of reasons: A friend’s 70th birthday where a GF Celebration cake was needed – Double layered and slathered in ganache with a fancy cake topper (as pictured) – outstanding; a meeting where GF food is needed; and the reason for today’s incarnation, a childhood friend’s funeral. Her mother tasted this cake at a meeting I made it for, promptly asked for the recipe and has made it 3 times since. One of those times she shared it with her daughter whose funeral is tomorrow. Today I made it in honour of both of them, the daughter for memories of being able to enjoy good food, the mother in hope that this “soul food” which she enjoys might be something she feels like eating on what must be one of the worst days of her life. It looks a lot less fancy today, cut up on a paper plate ready for the morning-tea… but I trust it will do the job.

Flourless Orange Cake

From Cooking Under the Influence: Food to Drink to  by Ben Canaider and Greg Duncan Powell

Ingredients:

  • 2 Oranges
  • 250gr Almond Meal
  • 250gr Castor Sugar
  • 6 Eggs
  • 1 tsp Baking Powder

Method

  1. Simmer the oranges for 1.5 hours until they’re soft (this can be done in advance)
  2. Heat the oven to 180 degrees C.
  3. Beat the sugar and eggs together until they’re pale and thick
  4. In a food processor blend the almond meal, cooked oranges (remove pips and cut in half) and baking powder
  5. Fold the almond and orange mix into the egg and sugar mixture
  6. pour into a 23cm cake tin (lined in making paper/greased) and cook for an hour.

Notes:

  • To make this really special you could drizzle an orange syrup over it
  • I personally, if not making it for someone who’s dairy free, love to ice it in a dark chocolate ganache.