Laziest Shepherd’s Pie EVER

It’s not really a Shepherd’s Pie – no mashed potato!

But for something quick and easy when you are pushed for time, or really can’t be bothered – it is tasty, even if a little sloppy. You could cook it in individual ramekins if you are worried about the “plating experience”. It serves four with some yummy bread to mop up the sauces.

Ingredients:

500g beef mince (you could use lamb or chicken, but I preferred the beef for this);

A handful of finely chopped veg (something that will soften quickly);

1 jar (500g or thereabouts) of a tomato based sauce such as a bolognese or similar (gluten free of course);

1 jar (500g or thereabouts) of cheese sauce – the type for pasta bakes is best (again, read the label and choose the gluten free one);

Two big handfuls of grated cheese of your preference.

Method (really easy here!)

Brown the mince & chopped veg. Stir in the bolognese sauce. Place into a casserole dish of about 1.5 litre capacity (I like my cast iron for this – then it is truly a one pot dish – you can brown the mince, assemble the dish and put it under the griller all in one). Cover gently (you don’t want them to mix in) with the cheese sauce, then sprinkle the grated cheese over.

Grill until the cheese is golden, or as I prefer it, golden with some browner bits. This should take 5-10 minutes, depending on your grill. Even if you use individual ramekins, the mixture should still be warm, you are just heating up the cheese sauce and melting the cheese, so it should take a similar time – just monitor it to make sure the cheese doesn’t burn.

Eat. See – how easy was that?

Braised steak and onions

I love this – it’s made in the slow cooker, so it’s so easy! Just layer and walk away! Serves 6.

6 blade steaks (about 250g each);

Salt;

2 brown onions, peeled and quartered;

2 cloves garlic, peeled and roughly chopped;

1 cup gluten free BBQ sauce;

2 tbsp gluten free worcestershire sauce.

Layer the steaks in the slow cooker, sprinkling a good pinch of salt between each layer and on top. Put the onions and garlic on top.

Mix together the sauces and pour over the top, making sure the garlic is submerged or it goes green during cooking!

Cover and cook on low for 4 hours, or high for 2 hours.

After taking the steak and onions out of the liquid, if you want to make a sauce from it, pour into a small saucepan. Mix together 1 tsp of cornflour in 1tbsp of water, then mix into the liquid in the saucepan. Heat and stir until it thickens to a sauce.

I served mine with orange rice.

Herb gluten free dampers

Ok these aren’t traditional dampers, which are made with plain flour and water, they are actually more of a cross between a scone and a damper, but I was bored….

3 cups gluten free self raising flour;

2 tsps xanthan gum;

A good pinch of salt;

1 tsp dried chives;

1 tsp crumbled dried rosemary;

1 tsp dried parsley;

100g butter, chopped finely;

1 cup of milk (you might need more as some GF flours are dry, use extra if you need it);

Extra milk to brush;

Extra butter for later – when they’re hot!

Preheat your fan forced oven to 190 celcius. Put all the dry ingredients in a large bowl, drop the butter in and rub it through with your fingers until all the butter is rubbed in.

Make a well in the centre and pour in the milk, using a round bladed spatula or knife until the milk is stirred through and the mixture resembles a dough.

Turn onto a well floured board and knead for a minute or so to ensure all flour is mixed through, cut into four and form each quarter into a ball, place on a greased baking tray and flatten with the ball of your hand until the ball resembles a very thick pancake.

Bake for about 25-30 minutes or until the tops are lightly browned. Cut and eat with lots of butter melting in.

Nutella Mousse

My daughter is a Nutella freak, and I don’t mind the hazelnut flavour (although I can’t eat it on toast!) and if you buy the gluten free marshmallows, this can be a gluten free treat too.

3 cups gluten free marshmallows (you can use the coloured ones if you like, they don’t have to be white in this recipe);

1/2 cup of softened nutella;

1/2 cup of milk;

600ml of thickened cream;

Some chopped hazelnuts, icing sugar, or sprinkles for decoration if you fancy.

Melt marshmallows and milk in a saucepan over low heat. Once the milk is just bubbling around the edges (don’t let it boil) take the pan off the heat and stir until the mixture is smooth.

Pour into a heatproof bowl, mix through the softened Nutella then leave the mixture to cool.

Beat the cream until it is forming soft peaks. Once the Nutella mixture is cool, slowly add it to the whipped cream, beating slowly.

Pour into a serving bowl, cover and place in fridge for a minimum of four hours, but preferably overnight.

When ready to serve, decorate it as you prefer.

Easy gluten free bean and corn salad

Are you stuck for something to cobble together from the tins in your cupboard? I was under the pump for time, and threw this together. No cooking, just combining. Of course, tinned ingredients are bland, so you will have to add plenty of your favourite seasonings. I have listed what I used, but you can substitute your favourites if you like, but you will need some salt, no matter what you do.

Two 440g tins of beans (you can use whatever you prefer, I had red kidney beans and cannelloni, but you could use chickpeas, even lentils – whatever you happen to have in the cupboard);

One 440g tin of creamed corn;

Two or three (depending on size) spring onions, chopped;

Cherry tomatoes and snowpeas for decoration (or whatever you have);

Generous pinch of salt;

1 tsp of ground cummin;

1 tsp of ground coriander.

Drain the beans and place in a bowl. Put the creamed corn in another bowl and mix through the seasonings. Add corn mixture and chopped spring onions to the beans, and mix thoroughly – the corn is like a dressing. chop the snow peas and tomatoes, or whatever you want (fresh herbs if you have them) and decorate the top.

The work of minutes!

Gluten free Blueberry Friands

The good thing about these, is there’s not a lot of flour, so using gluten free flour (which often gives not as good a result as “regular” flour) doesn’t matter much to the end result. I used a muffin tin for these, but if you have a friand tin, that’s even better. Whenever I made something that uses the yolk of an egg only, I freeze the white in a tiny container. After a while I get sick of all the little containers building up in the freezer, and look for something to use them in.

Blueberry Friands

Ingredients:

5 lightly beaten egg whites;

1 & 1/3 cup almond meal;

2 tsp lemon rind;

1 tbsp lemon juice;

1 & 1/2 cups icing sugar;

2/3 cup gluten free plain flour;

150g melted butter;

2 cups blueberries.

Method:

Preheat oven to 170 celcius (fan forced). Grease a 12 hole muffin pan. Put all ingredients except the blueberries in a bowl and mix. Spoon into muffin pan. Top with berries.

Bake 20 to 22 minutes. Friands should be golden and firm.

Red Capsicum Soup

Winter is just the time to enjoy warming soups, and this one is rich and a little sweet because of the red capsicums of course! It serves 4 to 6, depending on how hungry you are.

Red Capsicum Soup

Ingredients:

1 glug of olive oil for the pan;

4 red capsicums, seeded and chopped;

1 large onion, also chopped;

1 clove of garlic, finely chopped;

3 tbsp tomato paste;

1 tsp turmeric;

1 tbsp chopped fresh basil;

1 litre chicken or vegetable stock;

Finely grated rind and juice of one lime;

Sour cream to finish (basil leaves too if you have them).

Method:

Cook the capsicums and onion gently in the oil in a covered pot for about five minutes, shaking the pot occasionally.

Sitr in the garlic, then add the turmeric and chopped basil with the tomato paste. Stir in half the stock, then bring to the boil. Cover the pan again, lower the heat to a simmer and simmer for ten minutes.

Puree the mixture, then add the rest of the stock.

Add the lime rind and juice to the soup, season with salt and pepper. Bring soup back to the boil, serve in bowls with a spoonful of sour cream and a scattering of herbs (preferably basil).

Gluten free baked Creme Caramel cheesecake with Pistachio crumb crust

This is great if you are entertaining as you can make the cheesecake a day ahead, then just decorate it when you need it.

Creme Caramel Cheesecake with Pistachio crumb crust

Ingredients

1 & 1/2 cups gluten free biscuits (like a shortbread or other plain biscuit);

1/4 cup finely chopped pistachios;

125 g melted butter;

500g softened cream cheese (get it out of the fridge while you are preparing the base);

3 lightly beaten eggs;

125g castor sugar;

1 tsp vanilla extract;

2 tbsp gluten free cornflour (not the wheaten variety);

150g sour cream;

1 cup sugar;

1/2 tsp vanilla extract;

Extra pistachios for decoration.

Method:

Heat the oven to 150 celcius (140 fan forced). Combine the crushed biscuit crumbs, chopped pistachios and butter in a bowl, then press over the base and a little up the sides of a 23cm spring form cake pan.

Using a mixer, beat the cream cheese, eggs, sugar, vanilla extract, cornflour and sour cream until the mixture is smooth. Pour into cake tin. Bake for 50 minutes, then turn the oven off without removing the cheesecake and let it cool in the oven for two hours (don’t open the door). Remove, cover with cling film and refrigerate. I left mine overnight but you could use it with a minimum of an hour’s refrigeration.

When almost ready to serve, transfer the cake to the serving plate while it is still cold from the fridge.

Place the sugar in a small saucepan over a high heat and bring to a dark caramel. You can shake the pan occasionally to let the melted sugar mix with the unmelted sugar.

NOW, THE NEXT PART CAN BE DANGEROUS IF YOU AREN’T CAREFUL!!

Stand back a little and be careful – add one third of a cup of water, letting the bubbles subside if you need to before stirring with a long handled spoon. If you aren’t careful, the bubbling mixture can come up the spoon and burn you severely, so take care and make sure the kids (or the dog) aren’t underfoot at this point. Stir until the mixture is a thick liquid, but only just, because if you leave the caramel on too long, it can become bitter. Stir through the vanilla extract and pour over the cheesecake. Decorate with additional pistachios.

Allow it to stand for about 10-15 minutes before serving, to let the caramel set a little, and to prevent burning if people try to eat it while hot.

My Moroccan beef soup

My Moroccan Soup

This soup is so thick and hearty, we had it for dinner one night. You could serve it with any type of bread and it would taste good. This will serve 6 not very hungry people, or 3 – 4 hungry ones!

Ingredients:

Several large glugs of olive oil;

500g chuck steak, cut into chunks and put in a bag with 2 tbsp gluten free plain flour (seal and shake the bag to coat the meat with flour);

1 onion, chopped;

4 cloves garlic, finely chopped;

2cm ginger, peeled and finely chopped;

1/4 tsp chilli flakes;

1 tbsp paprika (you can use the hot type, but I like the sweet, even if it isn’t authentic);

2 tsp cumin;

1 litre vegetable stock;

4 X 400g canned chopped tomatoes;

1 X 400g can chickpeas, rinsed and drained;

2 tsp caster sugar;

Sour cream to serve (you should use Greek yoghurt – use it if you prefer, but I love the sour cream with these combination of flavours).

Method:

Heat several glugs of olive oil in a heavy based soup saucepan, then add the flour coated meat, a little at a time and brown well, stirring frequently to prevent the meat sticking. (Even if it sticks a little, you can scrape it once you add the stock, just don’t let it burn);

Add onion, ginger, garlic and spices, stir for a minute or two, then turn the heat down for another minute or two, still stirring;

Turn the heat back up and add the (hot) stock and the tomatoes, combine well and check that nothing has stuck to the bottom of the pot;

Bring to boil, season with salt, pepper and the caster sugar;

Turn down to a simmer, cover and cook for 1 & 1/2 to 2 hours, checking occasionally;

Lightly whizz with a stick blender (or you can take it out and put it in a standard blender), don’t turn it into a puree, blend some but leave some chunks to give body;

Add the chickpeas and heat through.

Serve with a blob of sour cream (or yoghurt if you are a traditionalist!) and whatever bread you fancy.

Nutella Mousse with Gluten Free Popping Rocks

Serves 4

Surprise everyone!

I love the sensation of popping rocks in confectionery, but I am never sure with commercial confectionery if the rocks are gluten free, so when I found some in a packet, I bought them and stashed them in my bulging, messy pantry “just in case”.

As my daughter is a Nutella freak, I decided to make this Nutella Mousse, and in a naughty mood, “decorated” it with popping rocks before handing dishes over to my family.

Well, I thought it was funny anyway!

Ingredients:

100g dark chocolate buttons (or chop up some chocolate if you have it in block form);

300ml of chilled thickened cream;

1/2 cup Nutella.

Method:

Melt chocolate, either by placing it in a heatproof bowl over a pan of simmering water (don’t let the bottom of the bowl touch the water), or melt it in the microwave. I prefer 30 second bursts, stirring in between.

Let it cool for 5 minutes, meanwhile beat the cream until soft peaks form.

Add the Nutella to the cream and gently whisk until combined, then gently fold the chocolate through, marbling it if you like. Spoon the mixture into serving glasses, just before serving sprinkle with the popping rocks.