Recipe: Coconut Flour Shortcrust Pastry

Coconut Flour Shortcrust PastryI’ve been curious about coconut flour. It is an interesting grain-free alternative for baking, being so fibrous and it absorbs a lot of moisture. It can make your recipes dry and is also quite sweet too, so you may need to adjust the amount of liquids and sweetener you use in your recipe. I have had varying success with it but have tended not to use it often because of the amount of eggs that need to go with it … some of my cakes have ended up tasting like omelettes made with honey and fruit… ew.

I’ve learned a trick to making coconut flour a little easier to use though. To adjust your recipes substitute your flour with about 1/3 the amount of coconut flour, and add extra moisture in the form of coconut cream/ coconut oil or an extra egg. It is tempting to add extra water, but the oil makes it much tastier and keeps its texture too.

Coconut Flour Pastry 1

I found some great information about it at the Nourishing Gourmet but didn’t find the recipe I was looking for. So after searching for ages for a pastry recipe using coconut flour I decided to adjust one by myself, and it worked! As a short crust pastry for sweet pies that have wet fillings, or as a quiche crust I think it will be great. I know it works with custard and blueberries, anyway!

It held together pretty well, wasn’t hard to swallow, wasn’t too sweet and still had that nice pastry texture to it. It can be a little crumbly if you are using it with a dry filling … but still tasty. Perhaps add another egg? I’m not sure how it would hold up for pies with lids though … if you can work that one out let me know, it is why I wanted to make this pastry in the first place!

Blueberry Custard Pie with Coconut Flour Crust 1

COCONUT FLOUR SHORTCRUST PASTRY

INGREDIENTS

70g coconut flour

100g chilled butter, chopped into pieces

pinch salt

1 egg

60g chilled water

METHOD

Place flour, butter and salt in the food processor and mix until they resemble breadcrumbs. Add water and egg and knead to form a dough.

Cover dough and chill in the fridge about 15 minutes before rolling out. I actually pressed mine with my fingers into my greased dish … but let me know how you go rolling it out … maybe between two sheets of baking paper to hold it together?

Bake in a pre-heated oven at 200C until it just starts to turn golden. It didn’t seem necessary to weight the pastry with baking beads.

Add filling (in my case I added home-made custard and organic blueberries) and return to the oven for further cooking.

Blueberry Custard Pie 4

Recipe: Grain-free Garlic Naan

grain-free garlic naan 1Today I have a delicious rogan josh bubbling away in the slow cooker. I figured that with dinner effectively making itself that I would have time to make some naan bread. I have a sour dough starter happening again so sour dough naan bread sounded great for the rest of the family but for me I am still not that into grains. I’m gradually coming off GAPS and I have had grains for a few months now but I still like to look at a grain-free option most of the time.

I love the simplicity of Indian breads. Mostly they are just flour, water, oil and yeast. The few grain-free recipes I found for naan bread were very complicated with lots of different ingredients to give it the rise and consistency that bread has. I prefer the simpler option if possible. This is my recipe. It isn’t exactly a naan, but it is a very yummy garlic flat bread that will be perfect at our Indian feast tonight … if there will be any left …

grain free garlic naan 4

GRAIN-FREE GARLIC NAAN

INGREDIENTS

1/2 cup coconut flour

1/3 cup almond flour

1/4 tsp cumin

pinch of salt

1/2 cup milk

2 tsp vinegar

3 eggs

butter

METHOD

Mix the dry ingredients together well then add the milk, eggs and vinegar. I poured a little melted butter in there too. Mix the batter well and then let it sit for half an hour or so for the moisture to be absorbed. When ready the mixture will not be like a dough, but like a very very thick batter.

grain free garlic naan 3

Melt butter in a cast iron skillet and dollop in a few tablespoons of batter. Flatten it out to an even thickness with slightly wet fingers. While the batter is cooking on the bottom, sprinkle chopped garlic on the top, then flip it over and cook the other side.

grain free garlic naan 2

The naan should be firm on the outside and soft still in the middle. It isn’t chewy like a naan made with flour but it sure does taste good and does well for a flatbread on the side of a great rogan josh. We’ll be coming home late tonight so I have made mine in advance and will heat them up under the grill just before serving. Looking forward to it!

Recipe: Chicken Nuggets – grain free

20130327_173606This is a meal that my children took a little while to like, but it is now one of our favourites. It only took a while because we’ve not eaten much crumbed food, apart from the very occasional fish and chips (but they usually only eat the chips).

The home-made chicken nuggets are now one of our favourites, mine especially because they are so good to put in lunch boxes too, and because they make for a tasty, simple dinner that can be easily served up with roasted veggies or a fresh salad.

They are also good to cook in advance and keep in the freezer for re-heating.

I love a meal that can be stock-piled.

I recommend chicken thighs rather than breast meat because the breast meat tends to dry out, the coconut flour also soaks up a bit of moisture so the thighs are a little more juicier for this recipe.

Chicken Nuggets

INGREDIENTS

3 Chicken Thigh Fillets

coconut flour

2 eggs

full cream milk

almond meal

salt

herbs

coconut oil

METHOD

Slice the chicken thighs into little bite sized pieces. Whisk the eggs and a splash of milk together so they are mixed well, set aside in a bowl.

Prepare another bowl with coconut flour in it – and another with the almond meal, salt and a sprinkle of herbs that you like.

 Dip the chicken pieces, one at a time into coconut flour and shake off excess.

Dip into the egg, use a fork to turn the chicken pieces so you don’t get drippy hands. Use the fork to drop the coated chicken into the almond meal mixture. Completely coat the chicken.

Now you have a choice: you can shallow-fry the chicken in coconut oil or you can bake it in the oven. The coconut four does tend to suck up a bit of moisture so I prefer to cook the nuggets in the pan … or both! Heat up the oil and cook them so the coating is golden either side, and then finish them in the oven, so that the chicken is cooked through.

Serve with a fresh salad and home-made tomato sauce / relish / sauerkraut / whatever dressing you choose.

Recipe: Raw Pumpkin Pie and Cashew Cream

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Autumn food is always full of pumpkin. Pumpkin scones, pumpkin pie, pumpkin soup, pumpkin curries … and I love it! I’m sure the markets anticipate the demands for pumpkin-based treats and stock up on cinnamon and nutmeg. I know I’ve already run out of nutmeg … I love my fresh grated nutmeg. 20130327_151022

My daughter (one of the two masked creatures above) celebrated her Autumn Festival at school yesterday and all the families brought in seasonal food to share. Yes there was a lot of pumpkin there, and apples. Oh my goodness, my mouth was very happy! I brought in a raw pumpkin pie. I made one last year in the seasonal spirit at playgroup and couldn’t quite remember how I did it. So I suspect this year’s pumpkin pie is a completely new recipe – plus there was the added challenge of making it nut-free so that it could be shared in a school environment.

20130327_102930I’m pretty happy with it – but let it thaw a bit before you serve it. It is definitely yummier when you can taste the smooth pie mixture. Also, the pie was still a bit frozen when I put it out and the base stuck to the dish! Everyone just ended up scooping the raw pie off the top because the base had ended up moulding itself pretty well to the dish. Nothing wrong with a bit of scooping. I think at one point someone was just standing in front of it with a spoon. I take that as a compliment, but its a shame no one could taste the base, because that is yummy too. Coconut and pumpkin are good friends in the kitchen.

If I were to make a change to it I think I would add some coconut cream to the recipe to make it smoother and creamier. Only I didn’t have any at the time. Try it and let me know if that works. I think next time I would also add a layer of cashew cream on top before it was frozen. Or you could even layer the pumpkin and cashew cream a few times for a pretty stripey pie …IMG_3370

Raw Pumpkin Pie and Cashew Cream

INGREDIENTS

RAW COCONUT CRUST

200g raw coconut flakes (not shredded or desiccated)

1 cup dates

pinch of salt

1 tbs coconut oil

RAW PUMPKIN PIE FILLING

500 chopped pumpkin, skin and seeds removed

2 cm peeled raw ginger

1/4 cup ground chia seeds, soaked in water

3/4 cup coconut oil

2 tsp cinnamon

2 tsp grated nutmeg

swoosh of raw honey/maple syrup

 a little water/nut milk

METHOD

Blend the crust ingredients together until they begin to stick together. Press into a pie dish that has been lightly oiled with coconut oil. Press down well so the crust will be firm. Place in the freezer for 20 minutes to set. Meanwhile make the filling.

Put chunks of pumpkin into the food processor and blend until finely ground, or as smooth as possible. Add remaining ingredients and blend again until the mixture is very smooth and thick. Add a little water or nut milk to thin it out and help it along in the blender – not too much!

Pour into the crust, decorate with pumpkin seeds, a little more grated nutmeg and set in the freezer.

Let the pie thaw half an hour before serving, and serve with a dollop of cashew cream.

Recipe: Sweet Hearts

IMG_3276Ok … they are jam drops … for my sweet hearts!

But they are also vegan, grain-free and sugar-free (except in this case, for the jam) and they went to school in my kids lunch boxes as a Valentines treat. And there is a few left over for me.

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There’s not really that much I want to say about them, except that sugar is not required for sweetness …and I love how simple they are.

IMG_3269I also love how we mark them with our thumbs to make a little place to spoon the sweetness into. From my heart, to the fruits of my heart …

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Grain-Free Sweet Heart Jam Drops

INGREDIENTS

150g almond meal

50 g honey / maple syrup

50 g coconut flour

100g coconut oil / butter

2 tsp vanilla essence

your favourite jam: sugar-free if possible.

METHOD

Whizz everything except the jam together in the food processor until it is just combined.

Press mixture down on a non-stick surface and use a cookie cutter to make shapes. Before you lift the cutter, squish your thumb into the middle to make a shallow hole. Use a spatula to lift the shape on to your baking tray.

Spoon a little jam into each hole and bake at 150C until golden on top.

IMG_3270

Recipe: Vegan Bean Burgers

IMG_2864What to do for dinner when all you have is left over salad from lunch, a handful of lonely vegetables and a tin of kidney beans? Bean salad or bean burgers is about your only option! As it happens it was just the right dinner for a hot summer evening, easy to make, quick to eat and very tasty. With a glass of home-made lemonade with mint and blueberries, and followed by a night swim in the pool = perfect.

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Bean burgers served cold with slices of mango, yogurt, hommus, fruit salad and toasted nuts makes an amazing breakfast too. Sounds crazy to put a curried burger and hommus with fruit salad but it works a treat.

VEGAN BEAN BURGERS

1 tbs coconut oil

1 onion

1 large clove garlic

2 celery stalks

1 carrot

1 400g  tin kidney beans

1 tsp mild curry powder

salt and pepper

a little coconut flour to thicken and bind

METHOD

Finely chop onion, garlic and celery. Soften in coconut oil. Grate carrot and add to mix with the curry powder. Stir until the carrot is soft.

Add mixture to a food processor with drained kidney beans, seasoning and a little coconut flour (about 1 tbs). Blend until the mixture is smooth. Add a little more coconut flour if the mixture is too soft.

With wet hands, roll into burgers and put in the fridge for half an hour to firm up, then shallow fry in a little more coconut oil. The burgers are very soft and difficult to cook at room temperature (at east when room temperature is over 30 degrees!) so keep them in the fridge until just before you are ready to cook them. Serve hot or cold with hommus, yogurt, fresh salad topped with toasted nuts … and eat any leftovers for breakfast or lunch the next day. Better still, make a double batch and freeze some for later.

Recipe: Almond Bread from Cooking Pot

photo (16)Here’s one of the most delicious almond bread recipes I’ve tasted. My friend Dominika made it for me to try at our playgroup – it wasn’t for everyone because it isn’t vegan, but all the same I only managed to get one slice before it vanished off the plate! It was very yummy. This recipe makes a moist loaf of grain-free bread, which I am very excited about. The other almond breads that I have made have been so dry that even a cup of tea isn’t enough to make them palatable … this one has eggs and cottage cheese in it, which makes it so tasty and light. It slices well and I think it is going to be a great morning toast with butter, a yummy morning tea with peanut butter, and a delicious accompaniment to lunch with a bit of labne spread. Dominika has shared the recipe with me and said I could share it here too. Some things are too good to keep to yourself.

CookingPotlogo

I’ve just been involved in a great big recipe share with Dominika and many friends which has culminated in a great new phone app called Cooking Pot. This is the first time I’ve ever endorsed a product other than my own on the blog, but I’m excited about this one because I know it has lots of awesome recipes in it like this almond bread one. It’s been created by my friends Dominika and Justin and they’ve been collecting and compiling lots of amazing recipes to help you plan your meals, or to help you use up those left over ingredients in the fridge so that you are not wasting food. Dominika and Justin have two little girls, they grow their own vegetables and raise chickens in their backyard (and a guinea pig or two). The health of their family is their priority, and so all these recipes on their Cooking Pot app are there to create awesome meals with wholesome ingredients. I’m pretty proud to say that many of my recipes can be found on Cooking Pot too – and my recipes have been created with the best of health-full intentions so I’m happy to endorse it!

shopping

Cooking Pot has many uses:
– you can select the ingredients you want to use and find a variety of recipes to match
– after selecting the recipes you want for the ingredients you have, Cooking Pot will then compile a shopping list for the rest of the ingredients you will need, and you can add to this so it is pretty handy to take with you when you do your shopping.
– you can browse the recipes according to different labels – you will find recipes for all kinds of different needs: food intolerance,vegan, vegetarian, gluten-free. More recipes are being added all the time.
– having recipes at your finger tips allows you an easier way to plan your meals for the week – and a great way to find something tasty at the end of an exhausting day when you are not feeling inspired about dinner.
You can read more about it, and download it by going to the website, itunes, or the facebook page. Cooking Pot is available for iPhones or iPads. I think iPads would be great in the kitchen … use a recipe stand to prop it up, and easy to wipe clean. Much better than bringing my laptop in, which is what I sometimes do when I can’t be bothered to write a recipe down! I’m not a very neat cook 🙂

iOS Simulator Screen shot 15.12.2012 6.04.20 PM (1)

Almond Bread

(grain-free, sugar-free)

INGREDIENTS
    2 1/2 cups almond meal
    1/4 cup olive, hempseed or sunflower oil
    1 tub (7 oz) dry curd cottage cheese or farmer’s cheese
    1 tsp baking soda
    1 Tbsp hulled hemp seeds
(I didn’t have any hemp seeds so I used 1 T flax and 1 tsp chia unground – use what you have)
    1 tsp flaxseeds or ground chia seeds
    1/4 tsp good salt
    3 eggs
METHOD
Mix all ingredient together and bake at 180C for 1 hour.
If toothpick doesn’t come out clean reduce to 130C and bake till done.

Recipe: Polka-dot Cake

IMG_2787In all my efforts to make cakes and muffins and cupcakes without grains and sugar this has to be the simplest and most satisfying cake I’ve made. I made it today – very spontaneously to celebrate Fete des Rois, or Festival of the Kings, because today is Epiphany. Epiphany is the end of the Advent story when the three wise men arrive to pay their respects to the Holy Baby. They treated Jesus as they would an earthly king by falling to the floor and presenting him with expensive gifts.

Had I given myself more time to organise it I would have had a crown ready and perhaps some games but that was not to be today. You can read about our past Fete des Rois celebrations. Today, however, I had forgotten all about it. January 6th, already? How did that happen? I didn’t realise until the afternoon so I quickly made up this cake for afternoon tea. I couldn’t find the right recipe I wanted in all my books and scribblings because they were either too complicated or I didn’t have the ingredients –  so I cobbled one together with the ingredients I had and it worked.

The traditional French galette des Rois is an almond-cream filled puff pastry type thing with the feve baked inside. The feve is traditionally a hard bean and whoever finds it in their slice becomes King or Queen for the day. My friend has been making a few delicious gluten-free versions of French regional cakes for our past fete des Rois celebrations. Today I thought an almond cake would do the job, and for the feve I used a date because I didn’t want my two-year old to end up accidentally choking on something small.

The cake was pretty colourful! I had intended to make the polka-dots with blueberries dropped in to the batter just before cooking, like a clafouti, but in a real Mother-Hubbard moment I discovered we had no blueberries or cherries or any other suitable fruit, not even any dried fruit except for the dates. All we had was Dad’s stash of Christmas candies and so I decorated the cake with candy covered chocolate polka-dots …. I know!! Not exactly sugar-free, paleo or GAPS but very pretty and very tasty. WITH the blueberry polka-dots this cake makes a very delicious breakfast served with yogurt and fresh fruit. Incidentally it can be made without the baking powder so it can be suitable for GAPS and paleo too. It might not rise but it will be more flat like a clafouti, which is how I make it for breakfast.

In any case the cake rose and cooked beautifully and we had a delicious afternoon tea with a bit of fun to go with it. As it happens I don’t think I will use a date again because when I cut the cake, I cut the date in half and then two people ended up with the feve in their slice – so we had two Kings this year!!

Here’s the recipe:

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Polka-Dot Cake

(grain-free and sugar-free … almost!)

INGREDIENTS

250g almond meal

1/3 cup honey/maple syrup

100g coconut oil

6 eggs

2 tsp vanilla essence

1 tsp baking powder

blueberries or cherries / (in this case I used Smarties!)

something to use for a feve – don’t use a date! A large (clean!) coin, a dried bean if you don’t have little kids eating the cake, perhaps some trinket from the Christmas crackers?)

METHOD

Mix all but the last ingredient together and blend well.

Add the feve to the mix and pour it all into an oiled spring-form cake tin, making sure that the feve is well hidden and then drop in the berries/cherries/things you are using for polka-dots in a pleasing pattern.

Cook at 170C for about 25 – 30 minutes … sorry I didn’t pay attention to how long it was in there for. I took it out when the top was a light brown colour and the knife came out clean. Mine was in about half an hour I think.

Recipe: Raw Gingerbread

I’ve had so much fun with this recipe. I think it may be my favourite raw recipe so far. Definitely up there with the Cashew Crunchies and the Raw Banana Cookies. The mixture is so fragrant and in these days leading up to Christmas it is really putting me in the mood for the festive season. I’ll be making them again during Autumn for sure – there is something warm and spicy about these little yummies that suits Samhain too. I’ve been making these each week and nibbling on them throughout the day. It is quite rich and filling, even as a tiny gingerbread, and fortunately for me it appears to appeal to a more ‘adult’ palate as only my ginger-loving son is regularly asking for them. So between him and I we share the stash of gingerbread, guilt-free.

These can be made into cookies and then dehydrated, or they can be rolled into balls and kept in the fridge to eat raw. I’ve tried cooking them in the oven but the texture just isn’t the same, and they burn very easily unless you have it on the very lowest setting and are prepared to wait for hours – in which case it is better to use the dehydrator overnight, and get on with your life while they do their thing. Much more appealing than heating up the kitchen for hours in summer!

The last batch of gingerbread I turned into fudge because I wanted to eat them sooner. The nuts went into the food processor straight from their soaking water and spent a little too long in there so they started turning into nut-butter. The mixture was very soft. I added a bit of coconut oil to it when I noticed how squishy the mixture was, to help it firm up when cold. These turned out to be quite delicious and fudgy when rolled in spiced cacao powder and placed in the freezer to firm up a bit. I served them up at playgroup and I think my two-year-old was the only one who declared “I no like it”, and returned to me a pre-chewed gingerbread bite. But her opinion doesn’t count in this instance. Since learning this phrase, it seems she doesn’t like anything at the moment …

RAW GINGERBREAD

INGREDIENTS

1/2 cup pecans

1/2 cup walnuts

1/2 cup almond meal

1/2 cup dates

1/4 tsp cloves

1/4 tsp cinnamon

1/4 tsp nutmeg

1 tsp dried ginger

2 cm ginger, peeled and grated

(FOR RAW GINGERBREAD FUDGE)

2 tbs coconut oil

1/3 cup raw cacao powder mixed with a little of your favourite spices (cinnamon/ginger/cloves/nutmeg)

METHOD

I like to activate nuts before I eat them – this involves soaking them overnight, then drying them in the dehydrator. It isn’t necessary but activated nuts are easier to digest and you can access more nutrients from them.

To make the Raw Gingerbread Cookies, blend the nuts together. Add other ingredients and blend again! Blend until the ingredients are finely chopped and stick together, then take small amounts at a time, pat flat to about .5cm thickness on a baking sheet(to stop them getting sticky) and cut out shapes. I found a wet cutter got less sticky. Details can be added with a skewer or you might like to press small pieces of dried fruit on top to decorate. Lay flat on a dehydrator sheet and dehydrate on highest setting until they feel firm to touch on top, turn and continue dehydrating until the other side is no longer soft. The cookies should be evenly dried throughout.

To make the Raw Gingerbread Fudge then soak the nuts overnight or at least for a few hours and blend them after they are drained. Mine became fudgy when I left them in the blender a little too long and they began to turn into nut butter. DON’T blend until you get nut butter (although that WOULD be yummy too!) but just until the oils are released and the mixture is softer. Add other ingredients and blend again and until well mixed. With wet hands roll mixture into balls and roll them again in raw cacao powder that you’ve added some of the spices from the recipe into. Keep in freezer until an hour before you are ready to eat them … although I have found that even keeping them in the freezer doesn’t really make them last longer because I eat them straight from there too ….

Recipe: Vegan Rainbow Fruit Jelly Cake

This jelly cake is pretty and delicious – simple to make and easy to eat, leaving a really fresh taste in your mouth afterwards. What I like best about it is that it can be a really delightful addition to the menu for a child’s birthday party. Jelly that everyone can eat! No artificial colours, no chemical flavours, no animal products, no sugar.

It’s a dream come true for me, and with a five-year-old’s birthday party to plan in a few weeks I know I’ll be making this again. Today was a tester for my daughter’s actual birthday. Success! It’s just real fruit, juice and water with a swoosh of maple syrup. It is set with agar agar powder, which I found in a health food store. It is a bit expensive but definitely worth it for such a special treat. The powder keeps too, but mine is quickly getting used up as I experiment with lots of fun jellies!

 

Vegan Fruit Jelly Cake

INGREDIENTS

2 cups apple juice

3 cups water

4 heaped tsp agar agar powder

swoosh of maple syrup

LOTS of chopped fresh fruit

METHOD

Chop up your fruit first and arrange it in your dish. I used two glass Pyrex dishes and filled the bottom of each with chopped fruit to about an inch and a half depth. Consider how best to slice your fruit: for example strawberries are prettiest when sliced lengthways where as a cross-section of a kiwi displays a beautiful mandala on the inside. Plop smaller fruits like blueberries and raspberries in whole. Slice grapes in half (they tend to fall out when cut!)

Use one colour fruit or random fruit salad or to make a rainbow jelly cake then try this combination:

red: strawberries/ raspberries

orange: mango/pawpaw

Yellow: pineapple/banana

green: kiwi fruit/grapes

blue: blueberries

purple: mulberries/blackberries/dark grapes

 

Next, put 4 heaped tsp of agar agar powder into a jar and mix with some water. Allow this to soak while you start to bring your apple juice and water to a boil. Stir constantly and when it is boiling then reduce the heat, add the soaked agar powder and a swoosh of maple syrup then continue to cook, stirring, for another 10 minutes. I think this cooking process is what makes or breaks the agar jelly – if it isn’t cooked long enough it doesn’t set firm.

Take juice/water/agar mixture away from the heat and allow to cool then pour over the arranged fruit. Cover the containers lightly and allow to cool. The mixture should set to a firm jelly at room temperature. It can also be chilled in the fridge. When set, run a knife around the edge of the dish and gently ease the jelly away. Turn the dish upside down and turn the jelly out. You can then slice it into bars. I stacked mine up like a cake and displayed it with flowers and mint from my garden. For individual serves you could set it into glasses, or little plastic containers. I set some into a plastic container with a lid for a school morning tea treat.

Variations: I have made this jelly without the juice but with a bit of rosewater essence – it smelled so pretty! I put edible flowers from my garden inside and it was so delightful. Two out of three children were suspicious of eating flowers so this one wasn’t popular. Will have to start adding flowers to our salads again so that I can make fruit and flower jelly again! I’d also like to try it with coconut milk …white jelly and red fruit – wouldn’t that make a lovely valentines day treat?