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OMG Baked Brie

11 Oct

Mmm mmm mmm! That’s the sound your friends will make when you feed them this baked brie. It’s surprisingly easy to make and tastes mind-blowingly good!

baked brie cheese - a delicious treat to serve as part of a finger food platter

Ingredients:

one full round of brie

few sprigs thyme and rosemary

one clove garlic, finely sliced

salt and pepper to taste

Method:

Buy a full round of brie, preferably one in a wooden box as you can use this wooden box to bake it in. (See Note)

Preheat the oven to 180°C fan-forced, or 200°C non fan-forced).

Unwrap the brie, and discard the wrapper. Place the brie on a square of baking paper, enough to come up the sides of the box, and put it back into the box.

Cut a few holes into the top of the brie with a sharp knife and insert sprigs of thyme and rosemary, slivers of finely sliced garlic, and season with salt and pepper.

Cover the entire box loosely with a piece of aluminium foil and place in the oven for about 20 minutes.

This can be served in the box, or removed from the box (carefully!) and is best eaten with a knife and a fresh baguette.

Enjoy!

Notes:

You can get away with buying a cheaper brie and baking it in a small, preferably round, baking dish, by following the same baking paper and aluminum foil method.

Play around with flavours – try finely sliced sun-dried tomatoes and olives, with sprigs of oregano for a different taste.

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Easy Spiced Eggplant Canapes

29 Jan

These tender juicy little bites of vegetabley goodness are really cheap and easy to make. When someone thinks of canapés, or hors d’oeuvres, eggplant is not usually the first thing that comes to mind, but these delicious little nuggets are a real surprise that will impress your guests and leave you looking like a master chef!

These little bites are delicious, cheap and easy to make

Easy Spiced Eggplant Canapes

Ingredients:

(makes about 50 pieces)
1 eggplant, cubed
2 Tablespoons salt
2 teaspoons cumin
1 cup of plain flour
1 egg
1 Tablespoon milk
1 cup of bread crumbs

Dipping sauce:

¼ cup whole egg mayonnaise
¼ cup cream
2 teaspoons chicken stock powder
1 teaspoon cumin
2 teaspoons chopped fresh dill
1 stalk sliced spring onions
salt & pepper to taste

How to:

Dice the eggplant into bite-size pieces. Mix 2 tablespoons salt and 2 teaspoons cumin together and dust over the cubed eggplant.

Set up three bowls: place 1 cup of flour in the first bowl; make an egg wash by whisking together the egg and milk in the second bowl; and the breadcrumbs in the third bowl.

Coat each piece thoroughly in flour, then in the egg wash, then coat liberally in bread crumbs.

Heat a fry pan over a medium heat with about a 1mm layer of canola oil (or other low-flavoured oil) to cover the base of the pan. Working in batches, fry the eggplant cubes, turning frequently, until browned and crunchy all over. Remove from the pan and drain any excess oil by placing the cubes on a paper towel.

Making the sauce:

Mix all ingredients together thoroughly, reserving a tsp of the sliced shallots for a garnish.

Enjoy!

Tips

It helps to work out a system by which you keep one hand dry and get one hand wet, otherwise the crumbing process turns into a much bigger mess than necessary! You can also use a fork to coat the pieces in egg and transfer them to the breadcrumbs to reduce the mess factor.
You can also fill a bag with flour and a bag with bread crumbs, place the pieces inside and shake well to coat. Do the breadcrumbing in smaller batches to ensure even coverage. I don’t recommend doing this with the egg wash.
These can also be made gluten free, if you substitute the flour and breadcrumbs for gluten free varieties. Orgran corn crispy crumbs make a tasty crispy coating, I found them in the gluten free section of my local supermarket. You can also leave out the milk from the egg wash for lactose intolerant guests.

Easy peasy guacamole

20 Nov

Avocadoes are in season right now in tropical Queensland, indeed some people have them falling off trees and are giving them away! They’re also cheap at the supermarket at the moment. To make guacamole, you need really ripe avocadoes, so if you see some on special, pick those, they’re ready to go straight away.

Easy guacamole - perfect for a party

Ingredients:

1 soft, ripe avocado
2-3 Tbsp  sour cream
¼ onion, chopped finely
½ tsp minced garlic
Squirt of lemon juice
2-3 Tbsp salsa / chopped tomatoes
Chilli flakes
Salt & pepper

How to:

Cut the avocado in half, remove the seed, and scrape the avocado flesh into a bowl. Add the sour cream, lemon juice, onion and garlic and mix thoroughly. If you have some salsa lying around at home, add a couple of heaped spoonfuls of this into the guacamole. If you don’t have any salsa, you can chop up some tomatoes, or use diced tomatoes out of a can. If you don’t use salsa, you might want to go heavy on the chilli, salt & pepper, to give it extra flavour. If you use salsa, taste the mix before you add any further seasoning.

Stir it all up well and transfer to a serving bowl. Decorate the bowl with a dollop of sour cream, some grated parmesan or romano cheese and a sprinkling of chilli (anything red stands out really nicely against the green guac, instead of chilli try paprika, cayenne pepper or sumac). Serve with plain corn chips.

Enjoy!

Easy Gluten-Free Pistachio and Carrot Cakes

13 Nov

I have a few friends who need to eat gluten-free and I often have trouble catering for them. I recently discovered that White Wings has both plain and self-raising gluten-free flour and they’re available in my local supermarket here in regional Queensland. This recipe worked beautifully, and you can hardly tell the difference. They were just a tiny bit more delicate than when made with regular flour, so just be careful handling them.

Individual Gluten-free Pistachio and Carrot Cakes

Individual Gluten-free Pistachio and Carrot Cakes

Ingredients:

185g softened butter
1 1/2 cups caster sugar
3 eggs
2 cups grated carrot (about 4 smallish carrots)
¾ cup chopped pistachios, unsalted, or washed
¾ cup gluten-free plain flour
¾ cup gluten-free self-raising flour (Note: I found White Wings gluten-free plain and self-raising flour in the health/gluten-free section of my local Coles)
1 ½ teaspoons mixed spice – or double that for zingier cakes!
(Note: you can buy ‘mixed  spice’ in the spice section, or just use a mix of ground spices like cinnamon  & nutmeg, and you can add some ground cloves or ginger if you like.)

Icing:

100g Philly spreadable cream cheese
30g softened butter
1 ¼ cups icing sugar
Zest of 1 lemon (zest is the grated skin of a lemon – use the finest part of your grater, being careful to get only the yellow skin, not the white pith underneath).
¼ – ⅓ cup chopped pistachios for sprinkling on top.

How to:

1. Preheat the oven to 180°C.

2. Cream the butter and sugar together in a large bowl using an electric mixer, until light and fluffy.

3. Add the eggs one at a time, beating well after each one.

4. Stir in the grated carrot and the chopped pistachios.

5. Sift in all the dry ingredients (flours & spices). Stir all together until thoroughly mixed.

6. Pour the mixture evenly into the muffin cases in the muffin tray and bake for 25-30 minutes or until golden brown. Let the cakes cool a bit before icing them.

7. To make the icing, add the cream cheese and butter to a bowl, and sift the icing sugar on top. You can mix either with a spoon or whisk, or with an electric mixer, until combined. Stir in the lemon zest. Spread on top of the cakes and sprinkle the remaining grated pistachios on top.

Notes:

Pistachios: you can find these already shelled and unsalted in some stores, but not where I live. I buy the shelled, salted kind from the fruit & veg section, and then shell the lot by hand (eating a few as I go!) then wash them in a sieve and dry them on a bit of paper towel before use. I also use my trusty stab mixer’s chopper attachment to chop them up into 2-3mm size bits really fast.

Cake or loaf: You can use this recipe to make a round carrot cake or loaf, you will just need to adjust the cooking time to about 1 hour, and test it with a skewer inserted right into the middle, to check if it is done. If the skewer comes out cleanly and the cake looks golden brown, it is ready.

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