Mexitaters

These have long been a favourite in my house.  Not only are they gluten free, but also meat free.  Of course there are animal products, so they aren’t suitable for vegans, but thankfully my female munchkin has given that up (no matter how much cornflour you put in soymilk, it will not thicken into white sauce!).  Although potatoes do take a while to cook in the oven, once you have wrapped and put them in (which only takes about five minutes) you can then walk away and do something else.  It only takes a few more minutes to assemble all the fillings, and everyone can fill their own potato, so it is an extremely easy, low fuss dinner, particularly if you are tired and can’t be bothered doing much.  All you have to do is take the potatoes out of the oven, put them on a plate, put that plate and the plate of fillings on the table, and let everyone ‘dish up’ their own dinner.  It’s also much better than takeaway – for a start you don’t have to go out, and on a cold night, a starchy yummy potato just hits the spot and fills a hungry tummy.  We find that an adult can knock over two medium to large sized potatoes, so when I am thinking of making them, I try to buy 8 about the same size.  I use a good washed potato, either white or red, you can use whatever you like, or whatever is one sale.   Brushed potatoes won’t be any good, as these are cooked in their skins, and it takes too long to get the dirt off a brushed potato.

The good thing about this dish, is that most of the ingredients will ‘keep’ in the pantry or fridge, so it is very flexible when you are planning your menu.  So long as you have all the ingredients handy, there is nothing to plan or do in advance.  I find it very handy when I have forgotten to take any meat out of the freezer, so I usually have the basics on hand and this is a good ‘standby’ for times when I have done something silly like that.

NB – in the photo I have only used half an avocado, as only two out of the four of us like avocado, so a whole avocado is too much.  Wrap the other half or put it in a container, and keep it in the fridge for something else.  If more than two people are eating avocado, but all means use the whole fruit.

 

Mexitaters (serves 4)

 

Mexitaters

Mexitaters

8 clean skinned potatoes roughly the same size

Cooking spray

Avocado

Salt

Lime juice

300ml sour cream

Bottle of enchilada sauce (this should be gluten free, but read the label to be sure)

Grated cheese (about one cup – but as much as you like)

Can of mexican beans (from the international aisle of the supermarket)

Tear lengths of aluminium foil to wrap the potatoes, spray with cooking oil spray and wrap each potato in foil.  Put on a baking sheet, place in an oven preheated to 180 degrees (fan forced) and cook for an hour to an hour and a half – depending on the size of the potatoes.  Test by opening a large one and pricking with a skewer.

When the potatoes are almost cooked, put the beans in a microwave oven safe container.  They will only take about a minute to heat up when you are ready to serve.  Mash the avocado with salt to taste and add a dash of lime juice, also to taste.  (Don’t do this too far ahead or the avocado will brown).  Assemble the heated beans, avocado, sour cream, enchilada sauce and grated cheese in serving bowls, take to the table with the cooked potatoes.   I find that mini tongs are the easiest way for people to use to put the grated cheese on their potatoes, spoons will do for all the other fillings.

Creamy Lime Mousse

As we are currently enjoying some unseasonably warm weather, I can squeeze in one more ‘summer’ dessert before we return to hot puddings and the like.  This is a favourite of mine, it is very quick and easy to make with just a little forward planning.

This mousse began its life as a sort of cheesecake, but when himself was diagnosed as a coeliac, I decided to dispense with the crumb crust, putting the ‘filling’ in a bowl as it is quite light in texture so is really more of a mousse than a cheesecake anyway  (it doesn’t have much cheese in it at all).  Although this version is lime flavoured, since the colour of the jelly suggests the flavour and most of the flavour comes from the jelly with just a hint of juice to cut through the sweetness, you could really make this any flavour, depending on what jelly you have in the cupboard.  I have also taken this to a friend’s Grand Final Party, adjusting the jelly to suit the colour of the team and decorating it as well – so you can be inventive with this.

The reason I said there’s a bit of forward planning in this is that the evaporated milk beats up best when it is chilled – I put the tin in the freezer for up to an hour before I need it, then shake it well before I open it (you want to mix any crystals back into the liquid).  Don’t forget it – I never have but the urban myth says “Boom!” so don’t find out the hard way if tins really DO explode when they are left in the freezer.  (Likewise you can also freeze the unused half of the evaporated milk, but take it out well in advance to give it time to defrost).  It should only be just forming crystals – if it is frozen it won’t beat successfully.

 

Creamy Lime Mousse

Creamy Lime Mousse

Creamy Lime Mousse

1 X 85g packet lime jelly crystals

1 cup boiling water

125g cream cheese

½ cup caster sugar

Half a 375ml tin of evaporated milk

Squeeze of lime juice (you can use lemon juice if this is all you have – it is the tang you are seeking to reduce the sweetness from the other ingredients rather than the authentic lime flavour)

 

Make up the jelly with the boiling water (do not use 2 cups as most jelly packets say as it will be too liquid for this recipe) – leave until it is almost set – it should be still liquid but getting wobbly.  It won’t take very long because you have used a reduced amount of water.

Meanwhile:

Beat the evaporated milk until it doubles in size.

Beat together the cream cheese and sugar.

Fold the cream cheese/sugar mix into the evaporated milk, then fold in the cooled, thickening  jelly. Once combined, gently fold in the lime juice.

Gently spoon mixture into a bowl, it will take about 2-3 hours to set.  If you are going to leave it in the fridge overnight, cover with cling film so it doesn’t dry out.

You can decorate with sugared sprinkles, lime leaves, fruit, anything you fancy.

Pork Dumplings (we are getting better at this)

Although we enjoyed our first attempt at dumplings –  we thought practice makes perfect!  (it had nothing to do with wanting to eat more dumplings of course….) so we tried pork dumplings.  I used twice as much meat as last time, as I thought they were a bit on the skinny side.  You might wonder about the colour of this batch, but that is because I had some lovely homemade stock and it has more colour than commercially made stock, so it coloured up the dough a bit.  Regarding the gow gee wrappers – the brand I use has 30, but some brands have 24 –it doesn’t matter, if the ones you buy only have 24 your dumplings will just be a little plumper.

Dumplings are also called pot-stickers for good reason – you have to keep your eye on them or the wrappers will start sticking to the bottom of the pot.  We have found that if you have lots of stock in the pot so that the dumplings can be fully immersed without touching the bottom, and if you gently agitate with a slotted spoon so that they don’t settle, the dumplings should be ok.

These were so yummy we will be making these ones again (hey, you have to keep practicing, right?!)

 

Pork dumplings

Pork Dumplings

Pork Dumplings

One packet of gow gee wrappers

500gm pork mince

2 spring onions, very finely sliced

1 clove garlic, chopped very finely or minced

3 tbsp fresh coriander , very finely chopped

Salt to taste

1.5 – 2 litres of stock, depending on the size of your pan

Extra salt – about 1 tsp

Mix the filling ingredients together, then place in the middle of the wrappers.  Brush around the edges of the wrappers lightly with water, then fold together and pinch to make pleats.  Bring your stock to boil with the extra salt in a large wide pan, I use a deep frypan.  Drop dumplings in the pan so that they are not touching each other.  After the dumplings have cooked a minute or so, slowly agitate with a spoon so that they don’t settle on the bottom of the pan and stick.  After 6 minutes remove with a slotted spoon and drain while you cook the next batch.

 

We ate them all, despite my best intentions to reserve a couple to see if they froze well.  Maybe next time I will get to try that – I want to see how well they freeze and defrost so that I can work out if I can make them in advance.  Oh well, a good excuse to try them again.  I want to try making them with ginger, but didn’t have any this time.

Microwave Cheese and Herb Stuffed Potatoes, and a visitor!

Although it has been lovely weather all week, today has turned a bit chilly.  Just the sort of weather for a carbohydrate hit!  This recipe makes six large potatoes, or you could even stretch it to make 8.  You will obviously get more mash if you cook more potatoes, and if you just add a couple of extra spring onions and some more meat, parsley and parmesan, you should be right.  In this recipe I used a bit of turkey breast for protein, but you could substitute any cooked meat you like, or even add bacon but increase the cooking time to make sure it is cooked.

 

Microwave Cheese and Herb Stuffed Potatoes

Microwave Cheese and Herb Stuffed Potatoes

Microwave Cheese and Herb Stuffed Potatoes

6 large potatoes (skin on if they are good enough)

Oil, salt and pepper for rubbing

30g butter

125g cream cheese

1-2 tbs milk

1 tbsp chopped fresh parsley

1 tbsp oil

2 cloves very finely chopped garlic (or crushed if you prefer)

2 slices preferred sandwich meat (turkey, chicken or ham are good)

3 spring onions

2 tbsp parmesan cheese

 

Prick the potatoes, put on a plate suitable for microwaving and either rub with oil on one side, or spray with cooking oil, rub in salt and pepper.

Cook for 12-14 minutes or until tender.

Stand 10 minutes until they are cool enough to handle.  In the meantime, combine the oil, garlic, sandwich meat and spring onions in a microwave safe bowl, cook on medium for about 30 seconds to start the garlic cooking.

When you can handle the potatoes without burning your hands, turn them over so you are working with the unsalted side, and cut the tops off.  Peel the skin off the tops if you have left the skins on (leave it on the rest of the potato).  Scoop out the potato flesh, leaving about 1 to 1.5cm shell all round.  Put the potato flesh in a bowl with the butter, cream cheese, milk, parsley and parmesan and mash well until combined.  Mix through the meat/onion/garlic mixture.  Stuff back into the potato shells, there should be plenty mounded up over the top.  Put potatoes back in the microwave and cook on high for 3 minutes.

 

Today, while I was thinking about what to do for lunch (amazing how often food features in my thoughts) – himself called me over to the window.  We need to do some landscaping, and in our plans have been thoughs of poisoning the weeds.  However, we can’t do that now, as the poisonous berries are apparently only poisonous to humans – but the king parrots love them!  This pretty fellow was one of a group, we think it may have been a family that graced us with their presence (I thought they preferred rainforest, so I don’t know why they were at our place, but who is complaining when you have something as pretty as this to look at). But Damn – now we are going to have to dig them out by hand and burn them (the weeds, not the birds!)

King Parrot (male, I think)

King Parrot (male, I think)

Vanilla slice – the easy way.

I had a day off today, and it was a beautiful day.  As well as making the most of it (my poor washing machine never stopped!) it seemed like a perfect opportunity to have a cuppa and something sweet out on the balcony, trying to get pictures of visiting birds.

This vanilla slice recipe is definitely NOT gluten free, and is something I enjoy with my children when himself is not around.

Vanilla slice:

Vanilla Slice

Vanilla Slice

2 sheets frozen ready rolled puff pastry

2 packets vanilla pudding mix (the powdered kind you mix with milk, and when it sets you get a cold pudding)

600ml thickened cream

300 ml milk

Icing

2 + 2/3 cup icing sugar plus 4 tbs liquid (water with a little lemon juice)

Cook puff pastry sheets until just brown.  Cool.

Meanwhile, mix pudding mix with cream and milk until thick.  Chill briefly while pastry sheets are cooling (they must be completely cool).

Put one sheet on a plate, spread thickened pudding mixture over top, top this with the other pastry sheet.

Mix icing sugar and liquid, drizzle over top sheet.  Allow to set.

Slicing is the most difficult bit of this process, as the vanilla pudding tends to get squeezed out of the pastry ‘sandwich’ unless you use a very sharp knife.

 

A piece for me!

A piece for me!

PS, unable to get any good shots today, but I have identified these visitors from a while ago.   They are adult Crimson Rosellas, the immature birds I have posted elsewhere, they are green and red.  I think the adults are prettier.

Adult Crimson Rosellas

Adult Crimson Rosellas

 

Who doesn’t like Golden Syrup Dumplings?

It’s cold out, but you have been at work all day, and don’t want to make a big fuss over something warming to eat after dinner.

 

There are many different versions of this dessert, but I have been making this version for years.  When himself was diagnosed as a coeliac I changed to gluten free flour, and they work just as well as regular flour (unlike some of the pastry disasters I have had!).

The beauty of this dessert is that you can prepare ahead and cook when you are ready to eat.  Make the dough and leave it aside in the bowl, and mix up the syrup in the pan, and leave that aside too.  When you are ready for dessert, it takes little time to bring the syrup to a boil, shape the dough into balls and drop it into the boiling syrup.

If you aren’t a big fan of golden syrup, you can try honey instead, or even maple syrup, but we just love these with golden syrup.  You can also vary the size and number of the dumplings if you want, on this occasion I made smaller ones, and more of them (I made 14 little dumplings), just remember to adjust your cooking time if you are making the dumplings smaller than in the recipe.

 

Golden Syrup Dumplings:

Golden Syrup Dumplings

Golden Syrup Dumplings

 

Dumpling

1 cup SR gluten free flour

Pinch of salt

1 tbsp butter, diced finely

1 egg

1-2 tbsp milk

 

Syrup

1 cup water

½ cup sugar

1 tbsp butter

1 tbsp golden syrup

 

Combine flour and salt.  You can either process the butter through, or do it the old fashioned way (I like that way) and rub the butter in with your fingers.  Either way, the mixture should resemble breadcrumbs when you are done.  Mix in the egg, then enough milk to make a dough.

Mix syrup ingredients in a medium sized heavy based saucepan.  Heat until boiling.  Shape dough into 8 balls and drop into the syrup.  Cover and simmer for 15 minutes.

 

I like to serve this with cream, although you can try custard or ice-cream if you prefer.

First attempt at Dumplings!

One day recently, himself was not around, so we were free to enjoy something with gluten!  I eat dumplings often enough, so thought it was about time I tried making them.  I enlisted the help of my fellow dumpling eating daughter, and she enjoyed making them so much she wants to do it again really soon.

First we had some yummy chicken and corn soup – easy as.  It’s hardly a recipe, just throwing some things in a pot.   At home, the colour of the stock varies depending on what vegies I have used to make it – on this occasion I think there were red onions in the mix!

Then came the challenge – making dumplings for the first time!  They turned out well, but we will keep experimenting.  It was chicken this time, next time we might try some pork, and vary the flavourings a bit.

I have found a lemongrass paste (with just a little chilli) that I adore, and as you can see – I use it a lot.

Chicken and corn soup:

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Serves 4.

1 tbsp good quality lemongrass and chilli paste

¼ leftover bbq chicken, chopped into small pieces

420g tin of creamed corn

1 litre chicken or vegetable stock

Either of – leftover cooked rice or ready to serve soft noodles

Put approximately 1tsp oil (I usually use extra virgin olive) in a pan over a medium high heat and fry the paste for about a minute until fragrant.  Add stock slowly, then stir in creamed corn and bbq chicken.   Add leftover rice (usually when I cook rice I try to cook extra, and freeze a cup for dishes such as this) or some soft noodles that you have steeped in hot water and cut into spoon sized lengths). Heat through.  You can add chopped spring onions or coriander if you have them.

 

Chicken dumplings

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We made 30 – you can make 24 fatter ones if your gow gee wrappers come in a 24 pack.

Pack of round gow gee wrappers – 24-30

250g minced chicken;

1 tbs good quality lemongrass and chilli paste

1.5 litres chicken stock

2 kaffir lime leaves (you can buy these a handful at a time at Victoria Market, and freeze them until required).

Mix the chicken and paste.  Put equal amounts (start with a heaped teaspoonful) into the wrappers.  Brush around edges with water and pinch to close, you can pleat them later when you are ready to cook them.  Bring stock to a boil in a deep pan with a large surface area like a deep fry pan.  Drop leaves in.  Put in dumplings so that there is only one layer (you will need to cook in batches) and bring to a slow boil/fast simmer.  Cook dumplings approximately 5 minutes or until you judge they are cooked through.  Enjoy.

As I said, we are going to try pork next time, maybe with some ginger, I will keep you posted as to how it goes!

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