Cranberry and Pistachio cupcakes

Another slight variation on a basic buttercake recipe.  With Christmas just around the corner, more red and green!  You should get around 9 to 10 cupcakes.

Cranberry and pistachio cupcakes

Cranberry and pistachio cupcakes

 

125 grams butter;

1/2 cup caster sugar;

1 egg, beaten;

1 1/2 cups sr flour (I used gluten free which does cause the cake to ‘crack’ more than regular flour, but it was still ok and now suitable for the coeliac in my house);

Up to 1 cup of cream – add to mixture a bit at a time until the batter is thick and of a spoonable consistency;

1/4 cup dried cranberries;

1/4 cup roughly chopped pistachios.

Cream the butter and sugar, gradually add the beaten egg, mixing all the time.  Add cranberries and pistachios and mix.  Add flour and cream alternately.

Pour into cupcake moulds or papers, and bake in a 170 C fan forced oven (or 180 regular) for about 20 minutes, or until a skewer inserted into the cake comes out clean.  Let it cool in the tin for a few minutes before putting on a rack to cool.

Mediterranean Rice Salad

This is nice when the rice is still a little warm, although it is also good eaten cold too (especially on a warm day).  As all the flavour comes from the herbs, I haven’t dressed it with any fatty, sugary dressings, so it is very low in all those nasties.

Mediterranean rice salad

Mediterranean rice salad

1 cup of rice, cooked (it will bulk up to approximately 3 cups once cooked)

Pinch of salt

200g small tomatoes (I used a mixture of the cherry tomatoes and the yellow “snacking” ones), halved

3 sprigs of fresh basil (about a handful), chopped

4 sprigs of lemon thyme, picked

1 radish, halved and sliced finely

4 spring onions, sliced finely

1/2 red capsicum, chopped finely

1 lettuce leaf, chopped finely

1 stick of celery, sliced very finely

 

Cook the rice with the salt (I prefer the absorption method)*.  While it is cooking, prepare the salad vegetables and place in a bowl.  When the rice is ready (drain if appropriate) mix with the vegetables.

 

*I find the easiest way to cook rice is to use a 3 to 1 water to rice ratio (3 cups of water to 1 cup of rice).  I put the rice, water and salt in a microwave safe container, and microwave on high (covered) for 10 minutes.  I then stir the rice, take off the cover and put back in the microwave for about 3-4 minutes – depending on the strength of the microwave.  When the rice is ready, all the water should be absorbed.  Fluff with a fork and allow to cool slightly before using.  This is also a good method to cook rice for fried rice – if you spread it out on a tray and let it dry before using it you will get a better end product – if the rice is still sticky it won’t fry up properly.

Triple chocolate mousse

This is lovely and refreshing, rich without being too heavy.  You can either do it with “bookended” milk chocolate mousse, or with dark, white and milk.  I did the latter, but as the berry sauce covers most of the bottom you really can’t see it.  I am not a great photographer, but it was REALLY yummy.

Triple Chocolate Mousse

Triple Chocolate Mousse

 

200g dark chocolate, cut into pieces or use melts

250g white chocolate, cut into pieces or use melts

250g milk chocolate, cut into pieces or use melts

3/4 cup milk

2 tsp powdered gelatine

900ml thickened cream

125g mixed berries

1 tsp sugar

1 tbsp water

 

You will need a large mould – about 7 cups.  I used a silicone bundt mould – I like silicon because you can unmould easier.  If you don’t have silicone, line your mould with plastic wrap. (And don’t let your other half near the mould at unmoulding time, as a bit of rough handling does not go well!)

Melt the dark chocolate in a microwave safe bowl in the microwave – use 30 second bursts twice, shaking each time the microwave finishes.  The last time, try about 20 seconds and stir vigorously.  If the chocolate doesn’t beat smoothly, try just a few more seconds, not too long or it will sieze.  Once it is smooth, leave it to cool a little.  Put 1/4 cup of the milk in a microwave safe jug and heat for 15 seconds.  Sprinkle 1/2 tsp of gelatine over the milk, and mix vigorously until dissolved.  Leave aside for a few minutes.

Beat all the cream in a mixer until soft peaks form.  Mix the milk & gelatine mixture into the chocolate.  Once the cream is ready and the chocolate has cooled a little, spoon 1/3 of the beaten cream into the chocolate and fold gently.  Once combined, pour into the mould and put in the fridge for an hour.  Put the unused cream in the fridge also.

 

Repeat the process with the white chocolate, however use 1 tsp of gelatine in this layer, as it is in the middle you want it to set well to separate the two chocolate mousses.  Put everything back in the fridge for an hour.

Repeat the process with the milk chocolate and remaining milk, gelatine and cream.  Put in the fridge for at least four hours, preferably overnight.

 

When ready to serve, combine the berries, sugar and water in a small pot and boil until the berries are breaking up and a little of the water has evaporated.  Let cool for a couple of minutes, then spoon the berries over the top and pour the liquid all around.

Nutella cheesecake – gluten free

This is so easy – there is no baking involved, the only ‘cooking’ is melting the butter, the rest is just chopping and mixing.  It is great for if you are having a gathering and you have a few other things to do – such as making lots of fresh salads for the barbeque – because it looks like you spent a lot more time on it than you did!

Nutella cheesecake

Nutella cheesecake

205g gluten free arrowroot biscuits, crushed

60g butter

100g hazelnuts, chopped varyingly – some roughly chopped, some finely chopped

400g nutella or other hazelnut spread – room temperature

500g light cream cheese

60g sifted icing sugar

 

Melt the butter in a large microwave safe bowl, mix in the crushed biscuits and 1/4 of the hazelnuts, then stir through a tablespoon of the nutella until well mixed.  Press firmly into the base of a greased 23cm springform pan and chill until required.

Beat the cream cheese and icing sugar until well mixed and smooth, then add the remaining Nutella.  Smooth over the base of the cheesecake.  Sprinkle the remaining hazelnuts over the top, and press in gently.  Refridgerate as long as possible (at least four to five hours, but overnight is best).

 

For interest I also found a jar of a crunchy hazelnut spread (Kraft I think) and used that in the base, and the smooth Nutella in the cheese mixture.

Lemon Pepper Chicken Sticks

Really really easy, and more of an idea than a recipe.  I slice chicken breasts, thread them onto a wooden skewer (don’t forget to soak them first so they don’t catch on fire on the barbeque!) and sprinkle them very liberally with lemon pepper – I use a commercial blend.  It is very refreshing and these are always popular.  The thing I love about the barbeque is that although I prepare all the food, I don’t actually do the cooking – himself does that!

We usually cook the chicken first and then hand them around for people to snack on before the rest of the meat is ready.  But you can do it however it works best for you.  They don’t take long to cook, so keep an eye on them because it isn’t long between still being pink, and being dried out!

Lemon pepper chicken sticks

Lemon pepper chicken sticks

For six people I would prepare about 500g of chicken breasts – although I often do  more so there are leftovers (leftovers are the best!)

Cooking on the barbie!

Cooking on the barbie!

Asian marinade for meats – gluten free and great for a barbecue

This is enough marinade for two large steaks, or four smaller chops.  You can of course double this or whatever, if you are preparing food for a crowd (this goes down well at barbecues) I have made this for years, and it is always popular.  The longer you can marinade your meat the better, overnight is good so that the meat is tenderised.  Every time you go to the fridge for something, pick up the container and give it a shake or flip it over, just to keep the marinade circulating and make sure all the meat is exposed to the marinade.

Asian marinade

Asian marinade

1/4 cup gluten free soy sauce

1 tbsp water

1 tbsp vinegar

1/2 tsp sugar

1/4 tsp garlic powder

1/4 tsp ground ginger

1 tbsp oil

Combine all ingredients and place in a container you can seal well.  Place meat in container and ensure that the marinade covers the meat.  Marinade overnight if possible.  When ready to cook, lift the meat out of the marinade with tongs and sear on both sides, then turn heat down to low and pour marinade over meat to finish cooking.  The marinade should thicken even more when cooking, you can spoon it over the cooked meat when ready.

Beef and roast vegetable salad – gluten free

This salad is best eaten warm, so serve it first if you are enjoying a barbeque.  You can prepare ahead by roasting the vegetables, cooking the rice and lentils,  and then reheating in the microwave when you need them, and making the dressing ahead of time and keeping it in the fridge.

Beef and roast vegetable salad

Beef and roast vegetable salad

1 red onion, cut into thin wedges

2 zucchini, cut into thin wedges

1 bunch of dutch carrots, trimmed (leave peel on)

1/2 red capsicum, cut into large chunks

Salt and pepper to season

3/4 cup brown rice

1/4 cup dried lentils

2 litres vegetable stock

1 tbsp vinegar

250g beef mince

1/4 cup currants

Small handful of baby spinach leaves, roughly chopped

1/4 quantity curried coconut dressing

 

Preheat a fan forced oven to 200 celcius, spray a tray with cooking oil, and scatter onion, zucchini, capscicum and carrots, cook for 30 minutes.  While this is cooking, put rice, lentils and stock into a large saucepan, bring to the boil then turn down to a simmer for 30 minutes (watch it close to the end to make sure the stock doesn’t boil away and the grains stick to the pan – add a little water if the stock is absorbed/evaporates before the rice is cooked).  The rice should still have a bit of resistance to it when you test it.  Drain, then place in bowl with vinegar, and stir through the vegetables.

Spray a frypan with cooking oil, then fry beef, stirring to break up chunks, and cook until cooked through and it is starting to turn brown and a bit crispy.  Add to bowl with vegetables, add currants, spinach leaves and dressing and mix well.  Serve immediately or refrigerate until required.

Curried coconut dressing – ideal for salads for the barbeque

I make up a jar of this salad and keep it in the fridge – then I use it as needed.  It goes really well with Asian themed salads, rice salads, pasta salads – experiment!  It will keep for a couple of weeks in the fridge.

Curried coconut dressing

Curried coconut dressing

 

400ml tin of coconut cream

1 tbsp mild curry powder

Juice of half a lime

1 tbsp sugar

 

Put all ingredients in a jar, stir well and seal the jar until required.

Gluten free pizza with potato base

This is not strictly a pizza, but is a yummy alternative to fiddling around with gluten free pizza dough.  The quantities are approximate, as the amount of potato will vary depending on the size of your pizza dish, and the ham and cheese quantities are dependant on how much you pile on.  This serves four with a side, or two to three people as a light lunch.

Gluten free potato, ham and cheese pizza

Gluten free potato, ham and cheese pizza

Approximately 600g potatoes, sliced thinly

Approximately 1/4 cup gluten free pizza sauce

A big handful of shaved sandwich ham (I don’t use pizza ham as it is not usually gluten free, and you don’t know what is in it anyway)

100g grated mozzarella

 

Preheat a fan forced oven to 200 celcius, 220 if it is not fan forced.  Spray your pizza dish with cooking oil spray.

Arrange the potatoes in an overlapping pattern, starting at the outside of the dish, and working around the edges into the middle in a circular pattern.  Lightly spray the potatoes with cooking oil, put in oven for about 15 minutes to partly cook the potatoes.

Remove the dish and place on a heatproof trivet, spread the sauce over the potatoes, then arrange the shaved ham and cheese over the top.  Place back in oven for approximately 15 more minutes until the cheese is melted and slightly browning.

The potatoes will not stick together like a dough would, you will need to eat this with a plate and a fork, but it is yum.

 

We ate ours sitting on the verandah as it is spring and the birds are visiting us.  I think this chappy is an Eastern Rosella – what do you think?

Eastern Rosella

Eastern Rosella

Asparagus in Bechamel sauce

If you find yourself with extra Bechamel sauce leftover after making something like Lasagne.  You can use the sauce on just about any vegetable, I just happened to have some Asparagus in the fridge.

Asparagus

2 bunches Asparagus, chopped into 2cm lengths, heads separate

Squirt of lemon juice

Leftover bechamel sauce (add parsley to sauce for variety)

Cut the asparagus into short lengths, keep heads separate, place chopped stalks in microwave safe dish with a squirt of lemon juice and just enough water to cover.  Cook for six minutes, then put in a serving dish that is also microwave safe.  Cook heads separately for two minutes.  Place cut stalks in bottom of bowl, cover with bechamel sauce then arrange the heads over the top and cook another two minutes.