Monday, 31 March 2008

Wild Rice Salad

Great minds think alike. And foods seldom differ. I made this beautiful dish for lunch and just the next day, one of my favourite blogs, 101 Cookbooks published this variation on the theme. Wholesome, filling and delicious, it was an ideal midweek lunch and filled both of us up nicely.

Wild Rice Salad

1 cup of wild rice, long grain brown rice and camargue red rice

1 aubergine

1 red pepper

1 red onion

handful of chopped sundried tomatoes

fresh flat leaf parsley

pine nuts

lemon juice

red wine vinegar

olive oil

Dijon mustard

mixed salad leaves (eg baby spinach, rockett)

Whilst the rice cooked in the rice cooker, I roasted the aubergine, red pepper and sliced red onion. I like to roast my aubergines in about an inch of water in the bottom of the dish. I'm not sure this is the correct way to do it but it certainly means you use less oil. Once the vegetables and rice are cooked, I literally just threw everything else into a dish and mixed it up. In a separate glass, I mixed a splash of olive oil, a teaspoon of mustard, a splash of red wine vinegar and made a quick vinaigrette to sprinkle over the salad.

Wednesday, 26 March 2008

Cinnamon, Walnut, Apple & Raisin Granola - Gluten Free!

Breakfast. It's just the best meal of the day. I have never ever held any truck with those who just gulped down a cup of coffee and got on with the day. That would put me literally in the worst mood ever. Breakfast is also the one meal you can eat which no one bats an eyelid at if it is entirely sweet - honey, cinnamon, fruit etc are all some of my favourite flavours and ones which I can really indulge in at breakfast.
I used to eat a lot of raw food, I wasn't 100% raw but definitely followed a high raw diet. I enjoyed it too, I felt pretty good but I've let it slip big time lately. This is mostly because I've moved in with The Boy now and he's not interested in eating raw and it is way too difficult to cook separate meals for two but also for one or two health reasons. Nonetheless, a few 'raw' favourites are still making regular appearances in my diet including this raw granola which I put in my dehydrator to 'cook'. If you didn't want a raw version, you could easily do this on a baking tray in the oven. Here's the recipe:
Walnut & Apple Granola
1/2 cup soaked sunflower seeds (soak for 2 hours if poss)
5 medjool dates
juice of 1/2 a lemon
big squeeze of honey
vanilla essence
1/2 cup sunflower seeds
1/2 cup pumpkin seeds
2 cups walnuts
1 cup almonds
1 cup Lexia raisins or sultanas
Put the apples, dates, lemon juice, honey, vanilla essence, soaked sunflower seeds and cinnamon into a food processor and blend until it forms a kind of smooth paste. If you haven't soaked the sunflower seeds, the mixture might benefit from a splash of water to help it reach a paste consistency. Transfer to a bowl.
Next pulse the walnuts, sunflower seeds and pumpkin seeds in the food processor until they are broken down but still chunky, not too fine. Mix the chopped nuts into the paste and spread either onto dehydrator sheets or onto a foil lined baking sheet. I'd bake for 20 mins or until crunchy and golden.
I keep this in an airtight container and simply pour a little rice milk over it for an extremely tasty breakfast.

Monday, 24 March 2008

The Great Vegan Spelt Pizza Base Experiment

I have been inspired to write my own blog after having read some of the many excellent food blogs out there (What the Hell Does a Vegan Eat Anyway?, Fuss Free Flavours and 101 Cookbooks are three of my favourites which spring immediately to mind). The internet is a fantastic resource for those with even the smallest amount of interest in cooking and there are a wealth of recipes, blogs and databases online to suit all tastes. I am often to be found searching for healthy recipes which suit the way I want to cook and eat. In the course of my research, I kept stumbling across pizza base recipes - I wouldn't usually do much baking since you have to include yeast and flour (too processed for my liking and I don't always take well to yeast) but I kept having pizza base fantasies and wanted to try some cooking with spelt flour, as I'd read that this ancient grain was often more easily tolerated than wheat.

Even more exciting than using my Doves Farm Organic Wholegrain Spelt Flour was using the dough hook on my food processor for the first time! Ah it's the little things. I made two batches of dough, large enough to fit a pizza tray, baked the first and kept the second in the fridge for a week. The recipe was roughly as follows:
Spelt Vegan Pizza Base
3 1/2 cups of spelt flour
1 tsp salt
1 tbsp yeast
1 1/2 to 2 cups water
extra virgin organic olive oil
And I took my inspiration from this recipe and also from here - I'm not a great one for following recipes to the letter, so I'd recommend just giving it a go and seeing how it feels. I definitely think one week in the fridge was a bit too long as the second dough was a lot stickier than the first. I didn't use a pizza stone but did use a pizza baking tray (with holes). I made half of each pizza vegan (as I don't believe in mixing carbohydrates eg flour with animal protein). Mark doesn't believe in this however and just loves cheese, so I whacked a load of mozzarella on his half. I was a bit scared to put too many toppings on the first pizza as I'd read not to overload it, but found that the spelt is pretty sturdy and is actually quite bready, so I really went for it on the second one (top picture).
Fillings that worked the best were sundried tomatoes, grilled yellow peppers, griddled courgette strips, mushrooms, artichokes, olives and fresh basil. I made my tomato sauce simply by roasting some cherry plum tomatoes in the oven with some olive oil and garlic cloves, then pureeing it with my hand blender (absolute favourite piece of kitchen equipment) with some dried Italian herbs and fresh basil.
On balance, the pizzas were great but it needs some more practice before it gets perfect. I think I used a little too much yeast and actually put some sugar in mine which I wouldn't use again. I would also try to make only one batch at a time, as keeping it in the fridge seemed to make it really sticky.
Either way, the pizzas were great to take to work for lunch - filling, wholesome and incredibly tasty. Definitely a success.