Recipe: Coconut Cream Jelly

Vegan Fruit and Coconut Jelly

Ooh here is a lovely treat!

I’ve been having fun with jelly again, making little fruity gummy treats for the children with gelatin. I was so excited about how easy, fun and yummy these are that I wanted to share them with playgroup, however at playgroup we eat vegan … so switch gelatin for agar and  honey for maple syrup. Remember the Rainbow Fruit Jelly Cake? These are just as easy to make, and just as lovely to look at.

Coconut Jellies 1

These little vegan jellies are a softer, lighter, more refreshing experience than the fruity gummies I made with gelatin. They are so pretty and so delicate, they’d be perfect for a light, refreshing, sweet treat after lunch. Today I served it with the fruit at playgroup morning tea, and we followed it up with raw pumpkin pie. Except for my really chewy sour dough bread rolls (win some, lose some!)  it was a pretty delicious morning at playgroup today.

I think these jellies are magic. The coconut cream floats to the top as the jelly sets so you get this lovely separation of colour, with the clear jelly underneath. The light pink ones pictured were made with rosella fruit, cooked until the colour faded on the fruit, and then strained out at the end. The beautiful purple ones are made with blueberries and the white ones have a splash of vanilla essence instead of fruit.

Blueberry Coconut Jellies

COCONUT CREAM JELLY

INGREDIENTS

1 cup of fresh fruit (blueberries, raspberries, rosellas, etc)

1 1/2 cups water

3/4 cup coconut cream

1/3 cup maple syrup/honey

1 1/2 teaspoons agar agar powder

METHOD

In a saucepan, pour in water, coconut cream and maple syrup. Whisk in the agar agar powder and let sit for 5 minutes, then add fruit and bring to the boil, stirring constantly. Turn down the heat and simmer, whisking gently all the while, for about 15 minutes. Gently press the fruit while stirring to release the colour, essence and juice.

Pour through a sieve into a flat container with a lid and place in the fridge until it sets firm. The coconut cream should rise to the top, leaving a translucent layer underneath. The colour of the fruit juice will be more intense in the bottom layer. The rosellas made a pretty pink jelly, blueberries made a vivid purple and to make white jelly leave the fruit out altogether and just add a little vanilla essence.

Advertisements

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: Raw Pumpkin Pie and Cashew Cream

IMG_3369

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: 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.

IMG_2869

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: Home Made Lemonade with Mint and Blueberries.

IMG_2853I’ve become a recluse. It is too hot to go outside and too hot to do much of anything, really – except go for a swim. This week we’ve gone to three different waterholes for a splash, a good long soak in the Brunswick River, and of course in the pool every day, which is like a warm bath with 30 degrees water temperature. There is little point getting dressed, my toddler is naked all day and the other two just keep their swimmers on. Our poor chooks are seeking refuge under our deck. I wouldn’t want to be wearing feathers right now.

IMG_2851

In the meantime I’ve been laying on the couch reading my book, eating salads and drinking a variety of cool drinks: iced coffee, iced chocolate, smoothies, fresh juices and lots of water. Today’s sweet cooling drink was home-made lemonade with mint and blueberries. No sugar.

It is tangy and sweet, fresh and revitalising. Lemon and honey are a great combination hot or cold, but with blueberries and mint it is delicious. I recommend teaching your children to make it, then you don’t need to leave the couch.IMG_2852

Home Made Lemonade with Mint and Blueberries

INGREDIENTS

1.5 litres cold water

1/4 cup hot water

2 heaped tablespoons of honey

juice from 2 lemons

a few mint leaves

fresh blueberries

ice

METHOD

Mix the honey with the hot water in a cup and stir until the honey melts into the water. Pour into the cold water with the lemon juice and stir well. Add mint leaves and sit in the fridge for a while to chill and let the mint leaves mingle flavours with the lemon. To serve pour into a cup with ice cubes and a few blueberries. Find a hammock and a good book and enjoy.

Recipe: Kale Chips

In my quest for snacks that are grain- and sugar-free I have been mainly finding things to satisfy my sweet tooth – also fun things to share with playgroup that we can all eat. I haven’t given much attention to savoury snacks, except for my standby seed crackers (which can double as a pizza base). These get me through my snacky moments in the day, with a bit of avocado, cheese and tomato on top. Yum.

In my food box this week I found a small bunch of kale, and suddenly remembered the holy grail of savoury snacks: kale chips!! These are so easy, so crunchy and so more-ish that they never last long …. so really as a snack they are a bit useless. These are reserved for guilt-free pig-out moments. Everyone in the house loves them too. They went to kindy in my four-year-old’s lunch box today.

I first had these about two years ago, and snacked on nothing but kale for about two months, I loved them so much. Kale is full of a bunch of good stuff, although I couldn’t tell you what it is … doesn’t matter. This is a snack that incorporates a fresh vegetable and only two other ingredients so really you can’t go wrong! I actually think they are better than popcorn.

KALE CHIPS

INGREDIENTS

Large bunch of fresh kale

One tablespoon olive oil

One teaspoon of celtic sea salt

METHOD:

Wash your kale well and dry it thoroughly. It needs to be really dry or the oil doesn’t coat it well and the kale goes soggy rather than crunchy.

When kale is dry, cut out the centre stalk and rip into chunky pieces – not too small!

Place kale in a bowl and add oil and salt. Rub in well with your hands, ensuring that all parts of the kale are completely coated.

Spread evenly on baking paper on a tray and place into a pre-warmed oven set to 160C.

Bake about 20 minutes and allow to cool on the tray.

When cool they can be stored in an airtight container but most likely they will all be eaten straight off the tray and storage won’t be necessary.

     

Recipe: Mandarin and Almond Upside Down Cake

The colder weather brings the citrus fruit! Hooray for late autumn mandarins!! They are so sweet and juicy and such a perfect snack for children. And so bursting with the right kind of vitamins to help combat the winter sniffles. They are the best thing, I find, for a pick-me-up in the morning and for satisfying the sugar cravings in the late afternoon.

I looked and looked for hours, trawling over the internet for a cake recipe using mandarins  that would fit everyone’s needs at playgroup. I do my best to make a morning tea that is free of grains (and therefore free of gluten), sugar (natural sweeteners only) and also vegan so that each person in our group can enjoy the morning tea. I’m so glad we have no one with nut allergies because then we’d just be eating fruit 🙂

I didn’t find what I was looking for so I made a recipe up. It was a bit of a hotch-potch of ingredients, but a delicious one! I’ve recently learned that chia seeds mixed with water can be used instead of egg as a binder, so I ground up some white chia seeds into a fine powder and mixed 2 tbsp of that with a cup of water. I think it was enough to replace maybe 4 or 5 eggs? In any case our cake turned out quite moist. I’m not sure the addition of chia seeds is legal on the GAPS diet, but I ate a little of this today with no noticeable reaction, so perhaps from time to time it may be ok.

The mandarins were boiled in their skins for a few hours, and as the skins are used in this recipe along with the flesh I think it is pretty important that organic mandarins are used. I cheated a bit for the mandarins on the topping. I had a tin of mandarin segments in the cupboard and I’ve been wanting to use them for ages, so they became the topping to the upside-down cake. I don’t see why you couldn’t use pipped fresh mandarins, or even boil up 2 extras and whizz them all up together, saving some of the mandarin pulp to use as the topping.

It disappeared pretty quickly so I’d say it was all right 🙂

MANDARIN AND ALMOND UPSIDE-DOWN CAKE

INGREDIENTS

3 organic mandarins, plus 2 more for decorating (or 1 tin of mandarin segments).

1/2 cup natural sweetener of your choice (honey/maple/agave)

1/3 cup dates

1/3 cup coconut oil

2 tbsp ground chia seeds

1 cup water

350g almond meal

75g hazelnut meal

METHOD

Boil three whole (washed and unpeeled) mandarins, completely covered by water for 2 hours. I tipped out the water halfway through and topped up the pot with fresh water because I thought the skins might get a little bitter from this treatment. Not sure if it made a difference but they certainly were not bitter in the end.

Drain and cool the mandarins, then blend them. Take the pips out if you want to – I just blended the whole lot up, skins, pips and all, into a pulp in the food processor.

Add sweetener, ground chia seeds, water and coconut oil to the mandarin and blend again.

Add the dates, almond meal and hazelnut meal and blend until smooth.

Grease a ring tine with coconut oil. Drizzle  a little maple syrup into the base. Lay out the spare mandarin segments, then pour the cake mixture over the top.

Bake at 180C until firm. This took about 40 minutes for my cake. It did go quite brown on the top but was still moist in the middle.

Eat and enjoy!

Fairy Mushroom Muffins

These are my take on the sweet little party mushroom cupcakes … with the icing that my housemate describes as a “service to humanity”.

These little sweeties are made with the Persimmon, Pear and Pecan Muffins of my last post, together with the Cashew Cream Icing that I used in the post about the Grain-Free Banana Bread. To make it red though, I added beetroot.

I’ve tried beetroot juice in icing before. To me, despite the sweetness, it still takes like beetroot and this gives an earthy and slightly bitter taste to the icing, which I find a bit yuk. So this time I roasted four little beetroots in coconut oil until they were soft and their sweetness was concentrated, then they were mushed up a bit and blended really really really well into the cashew cream to give it the lovely deep colour. Not quite red, but a very dark pink that can be forgiven for not being red because it is so tasty.

The dots on the mushrooms are slivered almonds.

This was a do-it-yourself exercise at playgroup: I made the muffins first, and the children could ice them and put as many spots on as they liked. Sadly I was away this day, and there didn’t appear to be any leftovers … lucky that I kept aside a stash of beetroot and cashew cream icing for myself … it’s pretty good on top of anything, really!

Recipe: Apple Cups!

Oh these were so much fun! I found the apple cups HERE first, but filled with warm cider (Very autumnal!)

Cider wouldn’t do for playgroup  (although I’m tucking that idea away for another time!) … and apple juice just had me thinking of mopping up sticky spills on the floor, so instead I decided to fill them with stewed apples and blueberries with a dollop of plain yogurt and a blueberry on the top. Also a sprinkle of chia seeds. Yummy! And the fun bit is being able to eat your cup afterwards.

They were such a hit my kids asked if they could eat them for breakfast – so the next morning I made bigger ones and filled them with yogurt and muesli – the kids thought they were doing me a favour by eating their cups so I wouldn’t have to wash them up 🙂

Wouldn’t these be a great idea for a children’s party? Healthy and delicious and fun.

HOW TO MAKE APPLE CUPS

1) Slice the top off your apple, ensuring that it is level with the base of the apple (some of them sit a little crooked!)

2) Use a knife to mark out an inner circle, leaving a bit of apple between the middle and the skin for the wall.

3) Use a melon-baller to scoop out the apple flesh. If  you are not using the apples straight away you can rinse the apples in a bit of lemon juice to stop them from turning brown inside.

4) Save the apple flesh, cut out the pips and bits of core, then stew the apple (with some other fruit too if you like). Stewed apple is easy – place chopped apple in a pot with a teensy bit of water and heat and stir until it is all mushy! I added blueberries to my stew.

5) Return stewed fruit to the inside of the apples and top with yogurt, chopped fruit, nuts, muesli …whatever you like! You can of course use them to drink from too.