Savoury storm in a teacup

It was lunchtime and there was nothing interesting to eat. I was getting rather hungry and impatient. I could have cooked some pasta or noodles but we’re having noodles for dinner tonight and pasta tomorrow so I didn’t fancy either for lunch today. I thought so hard that I nearly blew a gasket! Then I opened the fridge. Sitting there on the bottom shelf was my middle son’s carob storm in a teacup and it got me thinking……could I concoct a savoury one????

I got to work. My mind was awash with ideas but my body was feeling a little lazy. “Best to start simple” I thought and then I may have something to add to down the track. Afterall, I don’t want to peak too soon.

So this isn’t quite Failsafe as it contains tasty and parmesan cheeses but the equivalent amount of say ricotta or bocconcini will result in a Failsafe version. Next I plan to try it with left over veggies……

2 1/2 tbsp of gluten free self raising flour
2 tbsp of besan (chickpea) flour
1 tbsp of butter
2 tbsp of cheese
1 spring onion finely chopped
1 tsp of chopped chives
4 tbsp of milk
Pinch of salt
Pinch of garlic powder

Place flour, butter, milk, salt and garlic powder into a bowl and mix well to form a smooth batter. Add onions, chives and cheese and stir through. Pour into a lightly greased mug or ramekin then pop in the microwave for about 2 minutes. You’ll know it’s done when it just comes away from the sides. Eat while hot!

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Storm in a teacup!

I’ve been craving cake today. Ooey gooey choccy cake. I tried to ignore the urge but as I perused through a few blogs, I kept coming across cake and cookie recipes which, of course, made my cravings stronger and stronger. I still tried to resist but then I saw a recipe for a chocolate cake for one and I realised I could run but I couldn’t hide. It looked interesting, very interesting…..and delicious! But of course, I didn’t have half the ingredients, in fact I think I only had 1 of the ingredients, so I tuned in my creative brain and got to work. It took me 2 attempts but since this such a quick and easy thing to make, that was no problem at all.
Now I must mention that this is not 100% Failsafe, it’s only good if you tolerate amines but hey, us hard working mums need a quick, easy treat that we can whip up from next to nothing in next to no time at all. In fact, this is the perfect decadent treat for once the kiddies are in bed…but I must warn you, you need to eat it while it’s hot….and DO NOT share it with anyone.

My first attempt was in a tea mug and my second, only because I had no clean, suitable mugs left, I used a ramekin. Well, you’ll need to use a mug, unless your ramekins have handles, otherwise you’ll need to fumble around with a tea towel, and when you’re anxious to dive into your little, hard earned treat, that will just take up too much valuable eating and relaxing time. Ok, I’ve garbled on enough…here it is………

2 1/2 tbsp of gluten free self raising flour (1/2 tbsp is about 2 tsps)

2 tbsp of cocoa powder

1 tsp brown sugar (if you like things a little sweeter, add extra sugar. I like the bitterness of chocolate)

1 tbsp golden syrup

1 tbsp cashew spread (or peanut butter)

4 tbsp of milk

Place all ingredients into a bowl and mix really well. Pour into a lightly greased mug (or ramekin) and pop in the microwave for about 90 seconds. If you want a gooier treat, cook a little less. Eat whilst hot! It still tastes good once it’s cooled but the texture changes and I think it needs cream…of which I have none

 

 

Chicken veggiballs

My little fella is at the age where he refuses to be spoon fed, preferring to feed himself, but he hasn’t quite mastered the spoon or fork technique so the only way I can get food into him is if it’s finger food. I never had this problem with the other 2, if there was food, they’d eat it no matter how it came! Not that my little guy is a fussy eater, I think he’s just SUPER independent with a temper and a stubborn streak…..like someone else I know 😉
My agenda this week has been to make a few different finger foods that I can freeze, that are also tasty and suitable for all the boys so they all have to be dairy, egg, gluten and soy free but also low in salicylates, amines and glutamates…I must admit though, the chicken balls I made do have carrot in them but I figured that after they have been frozen, my super sensitive middle guy won’t be eating them so a little carrot on one occasion won’t hurt. If, however, you must remain very strictly low chemical, just leave the carrot out and perhaps add a little extra of something else, or even a potato (just squeeze out the excess moisture from the tatie).

Another confession too, I wasn’t going to blog these, rather keep them close to my chest to add to my book, but one of the super mums on one of the Faisafe forums I’m on is struggling with getting veggies into he little guy, so I decided to share this today to help her out a little. I just hope it works 🙂

I have no photo of these little balls of goodness because after a huge day in the kitchen I just could not be fagged fussing about with m”food styling” and photos, besides I wasn’t planning on writing them up today and knew I’d be making them again in the near future so planned to photograph them then.

3 small carrots

1 largish swede

2 stalks of celery

8 spring onions, whites and greens

1 choko

3 cloves of garlic (you can use less if you like)

1 kg chicken thigh fillets

1 cup of rice crumbs

2 eggs or equivalent egg replacer

1/2 tsp of saffron

2 tsps of salt

Preheat oven to 180°C. Peel all the veggies, including the garlic, then blitz them in a food processor until they are completely obliterated….yes, they need to be pretty much a pulp. Remove and set aside in a large bowl. Add the chicken fillets to the processor and blitz until almost a paste. Grind the saffron and salt to a powder  in a mortar and pestle  then throw all ingredients, including the egg and crumbs, into the bowl with the veggies and mix really well. Roll into balls, place on baking trays lined with baking paper and bake for 30 minutes or until cooked through.

Goodness, gracious, grrreat balls of rice!

A few weeks ago I made a batch of rice balls with ricotta and egg in them and called them “rice echidnas“. My big guys loved them but I couldn’t even let my little fella try one because he is allergic to dairy and intolerant to egg. He is at the age where he won’t let us feed him but he can’t manage a spoon or fork on his own, so in order to get enough food into him, I have to give him finger food. I decided that I’d make up a batch of meat balls for the freezer and cook up some veggies every couple of days but then I had an epiphany! Dairy and egg free rice balls!

I had planned to buy some egg replacer when I did the groceries on the weekend but my local Safeway is so incredibly useless that they don’t stock the stuff…along with hundreds of other things I can get from Woolies up the road in the next suburb. I’ve decided that the local Safeway needs to be bulldozed because it really is a waste of space and only good for buying milk. My goodness, I can’t even get the chocolate ice cream I am craving right now…..

Sorry, I digressed. So rather annoyed and too lazy to drive to the next suburb just to buy a box of egg replacer, I was ready to give up on the rice ball idea until I remembered I had 5 chokoes sitting on my kitchen bench. I decided I’d make some choko puree and use that instead….never used choko as an egg substitute before but there’s a first time for everything. So hear they are…my grrreat balls of rice!!!

I have used spring onion and celery in mine but you could use carrot or any other veggies you like as long as they are chopped finely or grated, but make sure the quantities are similar to what I’ve used or your balls might fall apart.

1 1/2 cups of uncooked short grain rice

1 1/2 cups of quinoa (I used black quinoa but you could use any colour you like)

2 chokoes (or 2 cups of choko puree)

8 spring onions, green and white parts

1 stalk of celery, leaves and all

2 tbsp of chives finely chopped

4 tbsp of tapioca flour

1 tsp of salt (or to taste)

Rinse the quinoa well. Cook with the rice using the absorption method you would for rice (I use a rice cooker so can’t give you directions, sorry). Allow to cool. Peel and roughly chop the chokoes and boil until just tender then drain well. Once cooled slightly, puree until smooth. Preheat the oven to 150° C. Blitz the spring onions and celery in food processor until well chopped then stir through the cooked rice and quinoa, along with the chives. Stir the tapioca flour through the choko puree and add to the rice and veggies and mix well. Season to taste. Using a soup spoon (I find this to be the ideal size) roll the mixture into balls then place onto baking sheets lined with baking paper (saves on washing up) and bake for about 30 minutes or until lightly golden.

A very messy crab feast

Saturday morning I was inspired! I decided that fresh crab should be on the menu for dinner…and by fresh, I meant so fresh that the crabs should still be alive when we buy them. So we headed off to Springvale where the food is cheap and the crabs are alive.

Now for those of you who don’t know, Springvale is a suburb of Melbourne where  a lot of Vietnamese refugees were housed during the Vietnam war and today there is still a massive Asian population. In fact, the majority of the population of Springvale is Vietnamese. As a result, the shops all cater to their needs and the bargains and delicious foods are endless. You can always be guaranteed to find loads and loads of fresh Asian style produce at incredibly reasonable prices…not to mention the variety of foods that we just don’t see in regular westernised shops. The kids were fascinated to see the entire internal workings of pigs for sale in butcher shops, along with pig heads, chicken feet, cow and sheep tendons and the list goes on. Personally, I’m not so fascinated as much as repulsed by these sights but it was a whole new world for my boys and they loved it.

We made a beeline for our favourite seafood market and I was so pleased to see that they had live spanner crabs for sale. They also had live mud crabs and crayfish, but the spanner crabs, in my opinion, are much yummier! We picked out 4 nice big juicy ones and my middle son was in his element. He thought it was so fantastic handling these big orange crustaceans, but at the same time was a little tentative about the whole operation, worried he was going to lose a finger or something.

I also found some interesting Asian greens that I had never seen before (or if I have, I’ve never paid any attention to)….Chinese and Vietnamese celery. I was so excited! I also stumbled across massive bunches of chives….2 varieties…..and some garlic shoots, so of course I filled a basket with these things and started planning my very pungent stir fry in my head.

Next stop was an Asian supermarket. Now I’ve been into these things several times in my life but I have never paid so much attention to the vast array of noodles they have. I usually enter these establishments with a list of what I need and look at only those things. I was gob smacked at the different varieties of rice noodles of every shape and size you could imagine so again, I filled a basket. But my favourite discovery in the noodle aisle was the sweet potato noodles. I had heard about them a few year ago from a Chinese girl I worked with but had never seen them in a shop. Yes, I stocked up on them too and a HUGE pack of rice paper. You can probably guess what’s on the menu for this week and next…….

So back to the crabs. The kids thought it was quite hilarious walking around with a wriggling bag of crabs. They were also a little concerned about them escaping from the bag and crawling through the car….I had to giggle! Then there was the dilemma of how we were going to kill them. They were so concerned about being cruel to these animals so I had to explain that I planned to kill them humanely by popping them in the freezer to put them to sleep then plunge them into boiling water. My middle son asked why I didn’t just cut them open after they were asleep but I couldn’t even think about plunging a knife into them before they had been boiled, knowing that technically they’d still be alive. He was satisfied with my response.

Now I did toy with the idea of removing all the flesh from the crabs to toss through the stirfry but “not-hubby” suggested it would be fun for the kids to pick their own meat out of the shell and toss it on the table in front of them, plus it would be quicker and easier for me. I liked the sound of that! So we spread the table with newspaper and prepared ourselves for a very messy feast!

I must confess too, I am no expert at cooking crab, in fact, this was only my second ever attempt and the first time, the crab was cleaned and prepared for me by my trusty fish monger. I went into Saturday’s meal kind of blind so I can only tell you what I did and by no means advise you on what to do but you can certainly use my efforts as a rough guide….perhaps of what not to do, lol. I guess at the end of the day the method isn’t so important, as long as the finished dish is scrumdiddlyumptious, and this certainly was. The kids loved it so much they wished they could eat like this every day! I told them to feel free…when they are old enough and rich enough to do it for themselves or to pay for someone else to do it all for them. But it was nice to know how much they appreciated my efforts (and gagging) in cleaning the crabs myself.

So here’s what I did with the crabs……I placed the wriggly, jiggly crustaceans into the freezer for a couple of hours. Brought a large pot of salty water to the boil and then plunged the crabs in, 2 at a time. Once the water returned to the boil, I removed the crabs and placed them in a sink full of cold water. Little did I know that the crabs weren’t actually cooked fully, but at least they were dead. Then, I cracked their shells with the back of a large chef’s knife and ripped them apart. What a mess!!!! I had crab juices and water everywhere! Not to mention little bits of shell! Pressing on, I yanked their shells off and their guts out, gagged a little, then dumped all the icky stuff into a bag, gagged a little more, and cut each crab (well what was left of each crab) into quarters….after tearing their claws off. Ok, the revolting part was done and next time I’ll be making “not-hubby” do it!

I chopped up half a bunch of the garlic shoots I had (but you could use regular garlic cloves), heated some oil in my wok, then tossed in a few crab pieces and garlic shoots and stir fried them until cooked through. I did this in about 3 batches.

Onto my stir fried veggies…

Now I should mention that I don’t know what the chemical levels of the celery I found is. I assume it is low in salicylates but who really knows…same goes for the snake beans and garlic shoots. If highly sensitive to salicylates, it’s probably best to avoid them and stick with what you know, regular celery including the leaves, green beans and garlic cloves. The taste will be pretty much the same I would imagine.

1 choko peeled and cut into straws

1/4 of a wombok (Chinese cabbage), shredded

1/2 bunch of garlic shoots cut into inch long pieces

1 bunch of spring onions cut into inch long pieces (greens as well but set aside)

1 bunch of snake beans cut into 2 inch long pieces

1/2 a bunch of Chinese celery

1/2 a bunch of Vietnamese celery

4 tbsp of chives (I used 2 varieties)

1/2 cup of fauxbecue sauce

About 2 tbsp of oil

Heat oil in a wok over high heat. Add the beans, choko, whites of the spring onions and garlic shoots and toss for a couple of minutes. Add the celery and wombok and cook a further couple of minutes before adding the fauxbecue sauce. Finally, toss in the remaining ingredients, including the green parts of the spring onions and serve.

The crabs just waiting to be devoured

The veggies looking just…well almost…as tempting

The carnage! We had to force ourselves to stop eating and leave some for “not-hubby”

Hippie Stew

I’m starting to get thrifty with my cooking lately. I’m also cooking a few more vegetarian dishes since my middle son is off red meat…there’s only so much chicken and fish I can eat in a week…so I’m reverting back to a few of my old vegetarian ways, much to “no-hubby’s” dismay. He is a carnivore and needs his steak at least twice a week….personally I can’t stand the stuff…so he buys what he wants on his way home from work and chucks it on the barbie to have with the veggo stuff I’ve made.

I have discovered that dried legumes are ridiculously cheap at my local Indian grocer so I have gone a little mad buying huge bags of the things for just a couple of bucks each…mostly for sprouting though. Yesterday I decided to crack open the mung beans, lentils and black chickpeas I had set aside for sprouting and got a little creative. I had to giggle at the idea of soaking and cooking lentils and mung beans and kept having visions of Neil from “The Young Ones”. I was also “hearing” things from my past, “Mung beans are only for hippies”, hahaha, so I just had to call this “Hippie Stew”.

1 cup of dried mung beans

1 cup of lentils (I used green ones but you could use black or brown)

1 cup of black chickpeas (these are smaller than the regular chickpeas so cook a little faster and blend better with the 2 smaller legumes)

Water for soaking

2 cloves of garlic

1 tsp of salt

Soak the legumes in the water with the salt and garlic for a few hours. There is no need to soak overnight or for a long period, I only soaked them for about 4 hours and they were fine. Once soaked, drain and rinse ready to cook.

3 stalks of celery finely sliced

8 spring onions finely sliced (greens and whites but separate)

3 cloves garlic finely sliced (or crushed if you prefer)

2 cups of chopped cabbage

1 1/2 litres of stock

1/2 cup of fauxbecue sauce (optional)

1/2 tsp of saffron threads, ground to a powder with a little salt

Salt to taste

2 tbsp of chopped parsley

2 tbsp of chopped celery leaf

Oil for sauteeing

Heat oil in a large pot then add the celery, garlic and whites of the spring onions. Cook for a couple of minutes then add the drained and rinsed legumes, saffron and stock. Bring to the boil then reduce heat, cover and simmer for about 30 minutes, adding a little extra stock or water if it’s looking a bit dry. Add the cabbage and cook a further 10 to 15 minutes or until the legumes are tender. I like my chickpeas to have a little bit of “crunch” to them but you could cook longer if you prefer them quite soft. Just before serving, add the herbs and the greens of the spring onions and season to taste. Serve with pappadums.

 

Green Cakes of Fish

I have to be honest with you….I wasn’t going to share this recipe, instead I was going to keep it secret to include in my book, but since summer is on our doorstep and fish is such a great summer meal, I thought I’d be nice and let you in on my little secret.

Mum and dad arrived back in Australia on Sunday after 5 weeks in Europe, so they came around for dinner last night. I had promised my kids seafood for dinner since all they eat at their father’s is chicken (they’d been there all weekend) and my middle guy is off red meat, but we all have quite different tastes in fish and I wasn’t prepared to buy 4 or 5 different varieties to cater for everyone….so fish cakes it was to be, that way I could use whatever fish I liked and no-one would know the difference. I managed to get some super fresh trevally for just $17 a kilo so this dish was not only tasty but super thrifty as well. I had enough fish cakes for about 10 people so that’s around $2 a serve!

We’ve all had fish cakes made with a potato base but with my pelvis being in such a state, I needed to find an easier alternative that didn’t require me to stand and peel a bunch of potatoes…then boil, strain and mash the damn things. I remembered making salmon patties a few years ago that had a rice base so I decided to give it a try with white fish. You know, throwing a couple of cups of rice in a rice cooker is one of the easiest things to do in the kitchen! Actually, throwing a bunch of ingredients in a food processor is just as simple.

The best thing about this dish is that it is so easily adapted to suit those those who don’t have food intolerances…just take out what’s needed for the sensitive ones then add some chopped fresh dill and lemon zest to the rest. You could add any flavours you like really…chilli, lemongrass, coriander, blah, blah, blah. You could also use any fish you like. When we challenge amines, again, I’ll be making these with fresh salmon…..*drool

2 cups of cooked rice

1 kg of fresh white fish (skin removed)

1 bunch of spring onions, white and green part

1 clove of chopped garlic

1 tsp of salt

2 eggs

2 tbsp of roughly chopped parsley

rice crumbs for coating fish cakes

Oil for frying

In a food processor, blitz up the rice until it looks a little sandlike. Remove from the bowl. Blitz the spring onions and garlic until finely chopped then add the fish and parsley and whizz until the fish is minced. Mix all ingredients together, including the eggs and salt (this can also be done in the food processor, or by hand if you prefer) until really well combined. Using wet hands, roll into balls and coat in rice crumbs then flatten just slightly. Heat oil in fry pan over medium heat and cook the fish cakes until browned on both sides. Once cooked, they should fell quite firm when pressed.

Amidst all the chaos of little boys excited to see their much loved grandparents and being showered in gifts, coupled with the incredible ache in my pelvis, I didn’t get any photos of the finished dish last night. Fortunately there are leftovers, but of course they don’t look quite as fresh as they did when they were piping hot, straight from the pan last night….but you get the idea of how they’re meant to look 🙂