100 Days Project, Gluten Free, Party Food, Recipes, Snacks

Day 36 – Feta & Pesto Stuffed Peppadew Peppers

Day36

Make your own tapas . . .

I first had feta stuffed Peppadews at a friend’s wedding and I have been hooked on these little sweet and slightly spicy treats ever since, but this is the first time I have ever made them myself. Normally, they can be found in the deli section of the supermarket, where you pay a ridiculous price for the convenience of having someone else stuff a little square of feta into the Peppadew for you because you can not be bothered to take the time and do it yourself.  No more . . . I will henceforth be making my own feta stuffed Peppadews with the Herbivore twist of adding a small dallop of pesto at the bottom of the pepper before stuffing it with feta.

Just like Kleenex or Hoover, Peppadew is actually a brand name for a certain type of sweet piquanté peppers originally grown in South Africa. The pepper is processed for removal of the seeds and reduction of the spiciness of the pepper to more tolerable levels. It is then pickled and bottled. The flavor of a Peppadew is sweet with a slight briney spice.

Feta & Pesto Stuffed Peppadew Peppers

INGREDIENTS

  • 1 bottle Peppadew peppers
  • 1 package feta cheese
  • 1 tub of pesto or make your own fresh

Drain the brine from the jar of peppers.

Cut the feta cheese into small squares.

Using a teaspoon, place a small amount of pesto at the bottom of the Peppadew and then stuff it with the small block of feta. Do not worry of some of the pesto gushes out around the edges. Continue the same process with each pepper until you have finished the bottle, or alternatively run out of either pesto or cheese.

ENJOY!!

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100 Days Project, Mains, Recipes

Day 35 – Vegetable & Egg Quiche with a Rye Crust

Day35

I was having a few friends over for dinner tonight and wanted to make something a bit special.

I had this recipe for a vegetable pie, from Krisser’s Cookie Crumble blog, in my collection,  and it looked so beautiful with the spiral of vegetables that I really wanted to try it. I had given the recipe a quick scan, but did not realize until after I started making it; that the recipe was translated very badly (I think the original is in Danish). Oh well . . . I had already started and told my guests this was what we were having for dinner, so had to keep with it and do the best I could.

The first obstacle I ran into was that the translated recipe did not call for enough liquid to bind the flours for the crust together. So I had to do a bit of experimentation slowly adding more water and oil until a got a crust that would hold. Even then, it kind of fell apart while transferring the pie crust to my tin and I had to piece it back together.

The thing that makes his recipe spectacular is the way the vegetables are sliced and used standing on edge to create a pattern. The original recipe had all the slices beautifully curved into circles. As you can see from the image above, my vegetable slices did not quite want to conform to a circular shape, and ended up more triangular. I think the vegetables in the original recipe must be sliced using a mandolin vegetable slicer, but unfortunately this is a kitchen gadget I do not own and I could not cut my vegetables thin enough by hand to easily hold the circular shape. If you have a mandolin, I would definitely suggest using it.

I also substituted the the milk the recipe called for with left over mascarpone cheese from my Day 33 post, Gnocchi with Tomato Mascarpone Sauce,  and thought the egg could use a little favor of its own and added my favorite go to herb, dill. I never did meet a recipe I didn’t want to tweak. Even with the problems and the changes, this made a delicious main for my meal tonight, was enjoyed by all, and I will definitely have to refine the recipe and give it another try. The recipe posted below includes the changes and tweaks I made to the original recipe.

Vegetable & Egg Quiche with a Rye Crust

adapted from: Krissers Cookie Crumble

INGREDIENTS

for the crust

  • 90 grams or 3 ounces of wheat flour
  • 200 grams or 7 ounces of rye flour
  • 6-8 tablespoons of cold water
  • 4 -6 tablespoons olive oil
  • 1 teaspoon salt

for the filling

  • 3 carrots
  • 4 small zucchini
  • 4 eggs
  • 4 tablespoons milk or mascarpone cheese
  • 2-3 teaspoons dill
  • salt and pepper to taste

Preheat the oven to 200 degrees C or 400 degrees F.

Grease a 20 cm pie dish or quiche pan.

Mix all five ingredients for the crust together until the dough becomes “crumbs”. Turn “crumbs” out on the table and knead them into a complete and cohesive dough. If it does not seem like the dough is sticking together slowly add more water and oil until it has the proper consistency.  Roll out the dough on the table to fit your pie dish and transfer the dough to your pie pan. If it falls apart like mine did, just piece it back together inside the pan; it gives your crust a more “rustic” look.. Now use your fingers to adjust the dough completely, so that it reaches all the way up over the edge of the pan.

To make the filling, peel the carrots and cut them and the zucchini into thin strips about the same height as your pie pan.  It might be easier to use a mandolin vegetable slicer for this. When the vegetables are ready Beat the eggs together with the milk or mascarpone. Add the dill and salt and pepper as needed.

To make the pie filling, place the strips of vegetable, end to end, all the way around the pie pan edge. Alternate between squash and carrot until you reach the middle, where a vegetable
strip rolled together creates the center. When all the vegetables are placed, slowly pour egg mixture gently between the vegetable layers. Try to make sure the egg mixture is evenly distributed, and that it comes down between the slices of vegetable.

Bake the pie for approx. 30 minutes.

Serve the pie warm, along with a good salad. My Antipasto Salad recipe made an excellent accompaniment for this pie.

ENJOY!!

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100 Days Project, Gluten Free, Recipes, Salads, Vegan (with substitutions)

Day 34 – Roasted Shallot, Beetroot, & Lentil Salad

Day34

With all the heavy carbs I have been making lately, I felt like something simple green and leafy for dinner tonight.

Winter is always a good time for roasted vegetables, and combined with the fresh baby spinach and a tangy mustard based dressing this recipe for Roasted Shallot, Beetroot, and Lentil Salad, from the Hub-UK website, was exactly the kind of meal I was craving.

I have found many people do not know what a shallot is. This vegetable belongs to the same family as onions and garlic, and is thought to have originated in Central or Southeast Asia. Like garlic, shallots form in clusters with a head composed of multiple cloves. Shallots are used in many different cuisines from around the world. They taste somewhat similar to an onion, but have a milder flavour.

You can easily make this recipe Dairy Free  and Vegan by leaving off the cheese.

Roasted Shallot, Beetroot, & Lentil Salad

adapted from: Hub-UK

SERVES: 4

INGREDIENTS

  • 12 shallots, peeled (If large, cut in half)
  • 2 tablespoon rapeseed or olive oil
  • Sea salt and freshly ground black pepper
  • 250 grams or 9 ounces of beetroot, cooked
  • 1 tablespoons honey
  • 225 grams or 8 ounces cooked puy lentils
  • 150 grams or 6 ounces baby spinach leaves, washed and well drained
  • 200 grams or 7 ounces soft goat’s cheese

For the dressing:

  • 1 clove garlic, peeled and finely chopped
  • 1 tablespoon of chopped chives
  • 5 tablespoon rape seed or olive oil
  • 2 teaspoons Dijon mustard
  • 2 teaspoons cider vinegar
  • Sea salt and freshly ground black pepper

Preheat oven to 190°C or 375°F

Put puy lentils into a medium pot of boiling water and cook until done. Drain the lentils and rinse under water and place in a bowl.

If using fresh beetroot, chop into large pieces and put into a pot of boiling water. Cook for about 10 minutes or until the beetroot is mostly cooked.

Put the shallots into a roasting tin, drizzle with the 2 tablespoons of oil, toss well and season with sea salt and black pepper.  Place roasting tin in the oven for 15 minutes, then add the beetroot and drizzle with honey and toss well with the shallots. If using solid honey, put it in the microwave first for about 20 seconds to make the honey runny and easier to coat the vegetables.  Roast for a further 10 minutes, or until the shallots are soft.

To make the dressing, mix all of the dressing ingredients together and season with sea salt and black pepper.

When they are ready remove the shallots and beetroot from the oven and mix with the lentils and half the dressing while still warm and leave to cool.

To serve: Place  a large handful of spinach leaves onto a plate, top with the shallots, beetroot and lentils. Crumble the goat’s cheese on top, and drizzle with some of the remaining dressing.  You can serve this on its own, or with a hunk of crusty bread and a glass of medium bodied red wine.

ENJOY!!

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100 Days Project, Mains, Recipes

Day 33 – Homemade Potato Gnocchi with Tomato Mascarpone Sauce & Fried Capers

Mmmmm . . . Gnocchi . . .

Gnocchi are one of those foods that are amazing to eat when made right, and for whatever reason are so often done wrong.  It is so disappointing to order gnocchi at a restaurant expecting little fluffy, melt in your mouth, pillows of potato goodness, and what is delivered on your plate are gluggy, sticky potato rocks.

Because it seemed too hard and daunting a task to make gnocchi that are nice to eat, I had never tried making my own . . . until now. My friend Stef claims she has a fool-proof easy recipe for potato gnocchi given to her by an Italian friend, Elisa Testoni, who used to run Italian cooking classes in Christchurch and now has moved back to Italy to open her own bed & breakfast (I know where I am staying next time I am in Italy).

So . . . I enlisted Stef’s help to make gnocchi for Day 33 of my 100 Days Project. Gnocchi are thick, soft Italian dumplings; the origin of which dates back to ancient Roman times. Originally made from semolina flour, modern gnocchi are most often made from potato, but ingredients vary depending on the region a particular recipe is from.  Traditionally gnocchi are eaten as a first course commonly served with melted or browned butter with sage, pesto, and other various sauces.

Mascarpone is a thick spreadable Italian cheese made from cream. It is considered a specialty of the Lombardy region of Italy and is used to thicken sauces and risottos, and is also used in deserts like Tiramisu. For this recipe the macarpone is added to tomato sauce to give it a creamy texture and flavor. On its own, I thought the combination of tomato and mascarpone would be delicious, but I like to have a little texture and saltiness with creamy sauces. A friend had recently been talking about frying capers, and how they “pop in your mouth with a crunch releasing that yummy warm salty brine”. From this description, I thought fried capers would make the perfect finishing touch for my plate of gnocchi and sauce.

Instead of being a single recipe, this dish for Day 33 is more of a combination of food elements that I have been wanting to try. The gnocchi, the sauce, and the fried capers originally come from three different recipes or ideas I have heard about. Together, the three different elements create a quite tasty meal.

Homemade Potato Gnocchi with Tomato Mascarpone Sauce & Fried Capers

MAKES: 3 servings

INGREDIENTS

for the gnocchi

  • 600g potato
  • 200 g plain flour or semolina flour
  • 1 egg, lightly beaten
  • 2 tablespoons parmesan, finely grated
  • 2 teaspoons nutmeg (freshly grated is best but not necessary)

for the sauce – recipe adapted from BBC Good Food.

  • 1 tablespoon olive oil
  • 2 garlic cloves, crushed
  • 400 gram or 14 ounce can of chopped tomatoes in sauce
  • 140 grams or 5 ounce mascarpone
  • 200 gram or 8 ounce bag of baby spinach
  • handful fresh basil leaves
  • shaved parmesan, for garnish
  • salt, pepper, and Italian herbs to taste

for the capers

  • 1/2 cup capers, drained and patted dry

For the gnocchi: Boil potatoes with skins on.  When cool enough to handle remove potato skins with your thumbs.  Mash the potato and let completely cool. This is best prepared ahead of time so that the mashed potato can completely cool, but can be put in the refrigerator or freezer to save time.

Add the lightly beaten egg, flour, and parmesan. Do not add these ingredients until the potato has completely cooled or else your gnocchi will come out sticky and gluggy instead of light and fluffy.

On a lightly floured surface, knead the ingredients into a smooth dough, and then pad it out into a shape about 20mm or 1 inch thick.

Cut the dough into strips about 20mm or 1 inch wide. Roll the strip back and forth until rounded, and then cut into 30mm or 1 1/2 pieces. With the back of a floured fork give the gnocchi pieces grooves.

Place gnocchi pieces on a floured baking sheet to rest.  At this point, if you are not planning on eating all the gnocchi right away, the gnocchi pieces can be put into the freezer for use at a later date.

While gnocchi are resting, fill a large pot with water and salt, and bring the water to a boil. Once the water is boiling, put the gnocchi pieces into the pot making sure to stir the water so that they do not stick together. If you are using gnocchi that have been frozen from before, then they can come directly out of the freezer and into the pot of boiling water. Bring the water back up to a gentle boil, and when the gnocchi float to the surface they are done.  Use a slotted spoon to transfer the cooked gnocchi from the pot into a colander or plate.

For the sauce: Heat the olive oil in a frying pan, fry the garlic until golden, then add the tomatoes. Season, with salt and pepper or other Italian herbs, and then let simmer for 10 minutes.

Stir in the mascarpone and cook for 2 minutes more.  Add the spinach for the final min of cooking. You want to make sure the spinach is just wilted and not over cooked into the sauce.

For the capers: Drain the capers of any brine and pat dry with a paper towel.

Heat the oil in a small heavy duty skillet over a medium heat. Add capers to oil in the skillet and fry until capers are crisp and open like flowers. Stirring often, they will need to cook for only 45 to 60 seconds.

Using slotted spoon, transfer capers to paper towels to drain. The capers can be fried two hours ahead before being used in a recipe. Just let them stand at room temperature until you’re ready to add them.

To serve: Add cooked gnocchi into the pan of sauce and mix well. Serve immediately with basil leaves, parmesan shavings, and fried capers scattered over the top of each portion.

ENJOY!!

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100 Days Project, Baking, Cakes, Dairy Free, Gluten Free (with Substitutions), Recipes

Day 32 – Mexican Hot Chocolate Cake

Day32

Today is my friend’s birthday, and birthdays mean cake  . . .

This particular friend happens to be both Gluten and Dairy Free, which does make baking a birthday cake a bit of a challenge. Luckily, I found this recipe for Mexican Hot Chocolate Cake, from Dish magazine, in my collection of untried recipes. Besides being quite yummy, with a few simple substitutions I could easily make it fit her dietary restrictions.

The main flavors of this cake are chocolate, chilli, and cinnamon, mimicking the traditional Mexican way of making hot chocolate with these spices.  Ancient Aztecs cultivated chocolate for eating and drinking, and the combination of dark chocolate and chilli dates back to their civilization. Hot chocolate was originally created by the Aztecs by roasting cocoa beans, and then using a mortar and pestle to grind the roasted cocoa beans with water.  They flavored this drink with chilli, vanilla, honey and pepper.  Cocoa beans quickly became a desired crop for the European settlers once  they tasted this delicious drink. In the modern westernized world, chilli and chocolate is once again becoming a popular combination amongst us “foodies”.

This recipe makes a very rich, almost pudding like cake, that when topped with candied pumpkin seeds and vanilla whipped cream (the birthday girl skipped this part) made a lovely mid morning birthday treat.

Mexican Hot Chocolate Cake

adapted from: Dish magazine

MAKES:8 -10 servings

INGREDIENTS:

for the cake

  • 200 grams or 7 ounces of butter or butter substitute like Olivani
  • 200 grams or 7 ounces of dark chocolate, chopped
  • 1 cup castor sguar
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 4 eggs, lightly beaten
  • 2 tablespoons plain flour or brown rice flour for a gluten free alternative
  • 1/2 teaspoon sea salt
  • 1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • 1/4 teaspoon ground cayenne pepper
  • 1 tablespoon icing sugar, for garnish
  • 1/2 teaspoon cocoa powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon cinnamon

for the vanilla whipped cream

  • 1/4 cup heavy cream
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract

for the candied pumpkin seeds

  • 1 egg white
  • 1/4 cup castor sugar
  • 1/4 teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • 70 grams or 2.5 ounces of pumpkin seeds

Preheat the oven to 170 C or 340 F

Grease a 20cm (8″) cake tin, and line it with baking paper.

Melt the butter and chocolate in a heat proof bowl set over a pan of simmering water, stirring occasionally, or in a double boiler.  If using the bowl, do not let the water touch the base of the bowl or the chocolate will seize.

Stir int he sugar and vanilla and leave the chocolate to cool, for about 10 minutes.

While chocolate is cooling, put all the ingredients for the candied pumpkin seeds into a bowl and combine well with a fork. Do not beat the egg white until frothy.

Spread seed and spice mixture evenly on a lined baking tray and bake for 5-6 ,minutes, turning once during baking.

The seeds will be sticky when you turn them, but well become crunchy when cooled. break seed sup into pieces once it has completely cooled.

Once the chocolate has cooled, stir in the eggs, and then fold in the  flour, salt, cinnamon, and cayenne pepper.

Pour mixture into the greased cake tin making sure the top is smooth. Bake for 20 – 25 minutes, until the center is set, but not too firm. This actually took about twice that time in my oven. Just make sure the cake has risen and a knife in the center comes out clean.

Transfer to a rack and let cool completely in the tin, where the cake will deflate and set.

To serve: Whip the cream and vanilla to soft peaks. Remove the cake from the tin and gently peel off the baking paper. Place on a serving plate and dust with the combined icing sugar, cinnamon, and cocoa powder. Serve with a dallop of cream and a sprinkling of the candied pumpkin seeds.

ENJOY!!

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100 Days Project, Baking, Breads, Dairy Free, Gluten Free, Vegan (with substitutions)

Day 31 – The Gluten Free Bagel Experiment

day31

Today was Bagel Day at my flat . . .

Since moving to New Zealand 7 years ago, I started making my own bagels and sharing them with friends because it is almost impossible to find a decent bagel in this country, but my gluten-free friends have always had to miss out on Bagel Day.  So . . . This time I decided to try and make gluten free bagels, as well as gluten-full bagels for Bagel Day.

Doing research online, I came up with quite a few gluten free bread recipes that I thought might make a decent bagel. The recipe I decided to go with was a gluten free pizza dough recipe from Karina: The Gluten Free Goddess. My thought process being that pizza crust should have the closest consistency to bagels.

Now proper American, New York style bagels are boiled, and then baked, which is what gives you that lovely crunchy shell around the soft inner bagel. Unfortunately most gluten free bread doughs are more like muffin or cake batter than they are typical bread dough. I knew the dough would not have enough elasticity to hold the bagel shape on its own, and unfortunately I definitely would not be able to boil them.  I came up with the solution of using a doughnut pan to create the round bagel shape with the gluten free dough. I also used the fan bake function of my oven, which will cook the outside quicker than the inside giving you a crispier outer shell to your gluten free bagels.

The most important part of any bagel making is the toppings. This is also the fun part where you can get a bit creative. From right to left in the picture above I used garlic and onion and sesame, cinnamon and sugar, sesame and sea salt, smoked paprika and sea salt (my favorite), onion and caraway seeds, and garlic and sea salt. If you think something might taste good on a bagel  . . . give it a try!!

Overall, these were not quite the same texture as normal bagels, but they were quite yummy and I think the idea is worth further experimentation.  My gluten free friends certainly seemed quite happy tucking into their bagel-like treats.

This recipe can easily be made vegan by using an egg replacer.

If you are not concerned about gluten . . . click here for my New York Style Bagel recipe.

Gluten Free Bagels

adapted from: The Gluten Free Goddess

MAKES: 12 bagels

INGREDIENTS

  • 2 cups tapioca flour/starch
  • 1 cup sorghum flour
  • 1/2 cup brown rice flour
  • 1/2 cup GF millet flour
  • 3 teaspoons baking powder
  • 2 teaspoons xantham gum
  • 1 teaspoon fine sea salt
  • 3 tablespoons organic light brown sugar
  • 1 1/4 cup warm water (between 110 – 115ºF)
  • 1 teaspoon organic light brown sugar
  • 1 packet active dry yeast
  • 1/4 cup good olive oil
  • 1/4 cup beaten organic free-range egg whites
  • 1/4 teaspoon light tasting rice vinegar

Preheat the oven to 400 F or 200 C, using the fan bake setting if you have one.

Brush the pockets of the doughnut pan with olive oil and set aside.

In a large mixing bowl, whisk together the flours and dry ingredients.

Proof the yeast in 1 cup warm water with a pinch of sugar. Once the yeast has gotten puffy, add the proofed yeast to the dry ingredients.

Add the oil, eggs and vinegar, and beat the dough until smooth and sticky. The dough should be more like cake or muffin batter than typical bread dough.

Spoon the dough into the pockets of the doughnut pan. Wet your fingers with warm water, and smooth the surface of the bagels.  Then set the pan in a warm spot to rest and rise a bit- about 15 minutes.

Brush the tops of the bagels with olive oil, and add you choice of yummy toppings.

Bake for 10 – 15 minutes till golden.

Eating while still warm, preferably slathered with cream cheese, is always best.

ENJOY!!

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100 Days Project, Dairy Free, Gluten Free, Recipes, Soups, Vegan

Day 30 – Carrot, Ginger, & Miso Soup

day30

Carrots again !?! You might ask . . .

Yes, carrots again . . . this is what happens when you buy a big bag of any ingredient. Obviously, things are less expensive when you buy them in bulk, and if you want to be sustainable in your cooking, then it does not pay to let the extras go to waste. Soups are a great way to use up large amounts of vegetables that need cooking.

This recipe for Carrot, Ginger & Miso Soup, from Dish magazine, combines the carrots with traditionally Japanese flavors. Miso is a Japanese seasoning produced by fermenting rice, barley, soybeans, salt and a particular fungus called kōjikin. The result is a thick paste, that is high is protein and rich in vitamins and minerals, used for sauces, spreads, pickling vegetables or meats, and mixing with soup stock. Miso played an important nutritional role in feudal Japan, and is still widely used, both in traditional and modern Japanese cooking. Typically, miso is salty, but its flavor and aroma depend on various factors in the ingredients and fermentation process. There is a wide variety of miso available, and different varieties of miso can be described as salty, sweet, earthy, fruity, and savory. I tend to always keep Miso in the fridge, as miso soup makes a great quick meal, and it can be used to add flavor and protein into many dishes, both in Japanese cuisine and more western modern vegetarian cooking.

Just a quick tip . . . if you have left over fresh ginger, pop it into the freezer. Once frozen it will last for months, and when used in cooking the frozen ginger thaws and has the same robust flavor as when it was fresh. This trick can also be used for saving chilli peppers.

Carrot, Ginger & Miso Soup

adapted from: Dish Magazine

SERVES: 4-6

INGREDIENTS

  • 1 tablespoon olive oil
  • 1 onion, chopped
  • 4 cloves of garlic, crushed
  • 5 cm or 1 in piece of fresh ginger
  • 1 kg or 2.2 lbs carrots, peeled and chopped
  • 1/4 cup white miso paste
  • 1 litre vegetable stock
  • sea salt and crushed black pepper to taste
  • toasted sesame seeds, spring onions, and sesame oil for garnish

Heat the oil in a large sauce pan over a high heat.

Add the onion, garlic and ginger, and cook for 4-5 minutes, until softened.

Add the carrots and cook for an additional 4-5 minutes.

Add the miso paste and vegetable stock, sprinkle with salt and pepper, and bring to a boil.

Reduce heat to low and simmer for 20 minutes or until carrots are tender.

Blend until smooth, and then divide into bowls for serving.

Garnish with the spring onion, a sprinkle of toasted sesame seeds, and a drizzle of sesame oil.

ENJOY!!

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100 Days Project, Baking, Muffins, Recipes, Uncategorized

Day 29 – Carrot Cake Muffins with Cream Cheese Center

day29

If carrots are good for your eyes, than carrot cake must be even better . . . right!?!

These little Carrot Cake Muffins with Cream Cheese Center, from The Curvy Carrot,  make a yummy breakfast, lunch time treat, or afternoon snack.   They were super quick to put together this morning, and with carrots, raisins, and walnuts, they have to at least be a little bit healthy for you (just ignore all the sugar).

Carrots have been used in sweet cakes since medieval times when sweeteners were scarce and expensive. Carrots, which contain more sugar than any other vegetable besides the sugar beet, were much easier to find and less expensive. Similarly, during World War II, the popularity of carrot cake was revived in Britain because of rationing. Carrot cakes first became commonly available as a novelty item in restaurants and cafeterias in the United States in the early 1960s.  People liked them so much, that soon carrot cake became a standard desert in restaurants.

Carrot Cake Muffins with Cream Cheese Center

adapted from: The Curvy Carrot

MAKES:12

INGREDIENTS

for the filling:

  • one 8-ounce or 250g package cream cheese
  • 1/4 cup granulated sugar
  • 1/4 teaspoon almond extract or vanilla

for the muffins:

  • 2 1/4 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1/2 cup granulated sugar
  • 1/4 cup light brown sugar, firmly packed
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons baking powder
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons ground cinnamon
  • 1 1/2teaspoon ground ginger
  • 3/4 teaspoon salt
  • 2 large eggs
  • 3/4 cup milk
  • 1/3 cup vegetable oil
  • 1 cup grated carrots, lightly packed (about 2 medium carrots)
  • 2/3 cup walnuts, toasted and chopped
  • 2/3 cup raisins, chopped

Preheat the oven to 400 degrees.

Line a cupcake pan with paper liners or brush with melted butter.

For the filling: In a microwave-safe bowl, microwave the cream cheese on low power until softened, about 40 seconds.  Add the granulated sugar and almond extract to the cream cheese mixture, mixing well, and set aside.

For the muffins: In a medium-sized bowl, whisk together the flour, sugars, baking powder, cinnamon, ginger, and salt.

In a separate small bowl, whisk together the eggs, water, and oil. Using a rubber spatula, slowly add the wet ingredients to the dry ingredients and stir until just
combined. Then, fold in the grated carrots, walnuts, and raisins.

Drop about 2 tablespoons of the muffin batter into each muffin cup, making sure to completely cover the bottom.

Using another tablespoon, drop 1 tablespoon of the cream cheese mixture onto the center of each muffin cup.

To complete the muffins, cover each dollop of cream cheese completely with the remaining muffin batter. It is helpful to wet your fingertips a little bit to spread the batter evenly and thoroughly over the tops of each muffin.

Bake the muffins until a cake tester inserted into the center of a muffin comes out clean, about 20 minutes.

Transfer the muffins to a wire rack to cool.

ENJOY!!

 

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100 Days Project, Dairy Free, Gluten Free (with Substitutions), Mains, Recipes, Uncategorized, Vegan (with substitutions)

Day 28 – Spiced Eggplant with Herbed Bulgur Salad

day28

Since the last two days have been quick and simple recipes, I figured I would do something a bit fancier for today’s post.

Are you ever in a Doctor’s office or coffee shop flipping through the magazines and come across that amazing looking recipe you want to take home to try? So you very sneakily and quietly, trying not to attract the receptionist’s or cafe staff’s attention, rip the recipe out of the magazine and quickly stuff it into whatever bag or purse you have with you. I know I have done this countless times over the years since I have started being interested in cooking as a teenager. It always leaves me feeling a bit guilty . . . but thank goodness for technology and camera phones; I no longer have this guilt. Now I simply pull my iPhone out a take a picture of whatever amazing looking recipe has caught my attention. This recipe for Spiced Eggplant with Herbed Bulgur Salad, found in January 2012 issue of Bon Appetit magazine, is was one of these recipes that I snapped with my iPhone.

Eggplants are a vegetable that is native to the Indian Subcontinent, has been cultivated in southern and eastern Asia, and the first known written record is found in an ancient Chinese agricultural treatise. It is believed that the eggplant was introduced throughout the Mediterranean by the Arabs in the early Middle Ages. The raw flesh of the eggplant can have a somewhat bitter taste, but becomes tender when cooked and develops a rich, complex flavor. Many recipes advise salting, rinsing and draining  eggplants to soften it and to reduce the amount of fat absorbed during cooking, but mainly to remove the bitterness that it can have. The flesh is capable of absorbing large amounts of cooking fats and sauces, making for very rich dishes, but salting reduces the amount of oil absorbed. Due to its texture and bulk, eggplant makes a great  meat substitute in vegan and vegetarian cuisine.

Bulgur is a whole grain, usually sold parboiled and dried, that has a light nutty flavor and is a common ingredient in Armenian, Assyrian, Lebanese, Turkish, Middle Eastern, and Mediterranean dishes.  Bulgur can be used in pilafs, soups, bakery goods, salads, or as stuffing. Its high nutritional value makes it a good substitute for rice or couscous.

I was looking forward to making this dish because of the interesting spice mixture that is brushed on the eggplants before they are roasted, and the combination of sweet, savory, and crunchy ingredients that are mixed through the bulgur salad, and this recipe definitely delivered on the promise of great flavor and spice.

This dish can easily be made dairy free and vegan by leaving off the yogurt, and the bulgur can be substituted with quinoa to make it gluten free.

Spiced Eggplant with Herbed Bulgur Salad

from: Bon Apetit, January 2012

INGREDIENTS

  • 1/2 cup olive oil, divided, plus more for drizzling
  • 2 tablespoons preserved lemon peel, finely chopped
  • 2 garlic cloves, smashed
  • 2 teaspoons ground cumin
  • 1 teaspoon ground coriander
  • 1 teaspoon paprika
  • 3/4 teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • 1/2 teaspoon crushed red pepper flakes
  • 1/2 teaspoon sea salt
  • 2 medium eggplants (9-10 ounces each), halved lengthwise
  • 1 cup quick cooking bulgur
  • 1/2 cup pitted green olives or capers
  • 1/2 small red onion, thinly sliced
  • 1/3 cup currants
  • 1/2 cup flat-leaf parsley, chopped
  • 1/3 cup fresh coriander, chopped, plus more for garnish
  • 1/4 cup pistachios, toasted and lightly crushed
  • 2 tablespoons fresh lemon juice
  • freshly ground black pepper
  • 1 cup Greek style yogurt

Preheat ovem to 350 degrees F or 180 degrees C

In a small bowl, combine 1/4 cup oil, the next seven ingredients, and 1/2 teaspoon salt.

Score the flesh of each eggplant half with 15mmor 1/2 inch deep diagonal crisscrossing lines, spacing 40mm or 1 inch apart (do not cut through the skin). Drizzle 1 tablespoon oil over each cut side, allowing it to soak in. Season lightly with salt. Brush or spoon spice mix on each half diving it equally. Place eggplants, cut side up on a rimmed baking sheet and roast until soft ( about 50 – 60 min).

While eggplant is cooking, place bulgur in a large bowl and cover with 1 1/2 cups boiling water. Let soak for 45 minutes to soften and absorb water. Stir in olives or capers, onion, currants, parsley, 1/2 cup coriander, pistachios, and lemon juice. Season to taste with salt and pepper, and then let sit for at least 30 minutes for flavors to meld.

Serve at room temperature, with a dallop of greek yogurt on top of the bulgur salad and coriander to garnish.

ENJOY!!

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100 Days Project, Recipes, Side Dish, Vegan (with substitutions)

Day 27 – Crumbed Asparagus

day27

Another busy day needs another quick, simple, and yummy recipe . . .

This recipe for Crumbed Asparagus, by The Cozy Herbivore, seemed to be the perfect side dish for the left over Creamy Pearl Barley & Porcini Mushroom Risotto from my Day 25 post. It has lovely flavors of lemon, honey, garlic, and chive added into the freshness of the roast asparagus, and the crunchiness of the panko bread crumb is one of the best parts of the dish.

Asparagus has been eaten as a vegetable and used as a medicine, since ancient times.  It was known in Syria and in Spain, and Greeks and Romans ate it fresh when in season and dried it for eating during the winter.  A recipe for cooking asparagus is in the oldest surviving book of recipes, and the ancient Greek physicians used asparagus as a beneficial herb during the second century AD. By 1469, asparagus was cultivated in French monasteries, and asparagus became available to the New World around 1850.  Because once the buds start to open, the shoots will turn “woody”, only young asparagus shoots tend to be eaten.  Asparagus is low in calories, very low in sodium, and is a good source of many other vitamins and minerals.

I know winter in New Zealand is not asparagus season, so I am being a bit naughty, but this dish was worth the ridiculous amount I paid for the asparagus at the food store.

The recipe can easily be made gluten free by substitutng the bread crumbs for gluten free bread crumbs, and can be made Vegan by substituting the honey for agave nectar or brown rice syrup, and leaving out the parmesan.

Crumbed Asparagus

adapted from: The Cozy Herbivore

MAKES: 2-3 servings

INGREDIENTS

for the asparagus:

  • 1 pound fresh asparagus
  • 1 medium lemon
  • 1 teaspoon honey
  • 1 tablespoon extra-virgin olive oil
  • 1/2 teaspoon dried garlic granules
  • sea salt & freshly cracked pepper, to taste

for the crumb topping:

  • 1 cup bread crumbs
  • 1/4 cup finely shredded parmesan cheese
  • 1 tablespoon finely minced fresh flat-leafed parsley
  • 1 teaspoon finely minced fresh chives
  • 2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
  • sea salt & freshly cracked pepper, to taste

Preheat oven to 400 degrees Fahrenheit.

Trim asparagus spears by snapping off woody ends. The asparagus will break naturally between the fresh stalk and the tough end. Discard the ends.

Juice and zest lemon. Finely mince lemon zest and set aside to use in crumb topping.

In a small bowl whisk together lemon juice, honey, garlic granules and olive oil.  Add a pinch of sea salt & a few cracks of pepper. Taste and adjust seasonings accordingly.

Toss trimmed asparagus spears in lemon juice mixture. Arrange coated spears in a single layer in a casserole dish, and pour remaining lemon juice mixture over.

Bake until just tender, about 10 minutes. They should feel slightly soft and be easily pierced with a fork without being mushy.

While the asparagus is roasting, prepare crumb topping. In a large bowl, combine bread crumbs, cheese, minced herbs, olive oil and 1 teaspoon of the finely minced lemon zest. Using freshly washed hands, toss the mixture together until combined. Add a generous pinch of sea salt & a few cracks of pepper. Taste
and adjust seasonings accordingly.

When asparagus is done roasting, pour bread crumb mixture over and place under the broiler of your oven for one minute, or until browned and toasty. This can very quickly turn from brown to burned so keep a careful watch and do not walk away.

When the crumb has browned, take the baking dish out of the oven and serve,

ENJOY!!

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