100 Days Project, Baking, Mains, pastry, Recipes

Day 40 – Puff Pastry Pockets


The right music always adds to the cooking experience . . .

I received in the mail today the new  Fleur Jack CD, who is a Kiwi singer/song writer and friend currently living in The States.  I stuck the CD in my computer, put it on repeat, and danced my way (wine glass in hand) through this recipe for Puff Pastry Pockets, originally from the Baking Makes Things Better blog.

This was the perfect simple recipe for the end of a work day, that used up many of the ingredients I had around the house. The recipe called for filling the puff pastry with feta, pesto, and sundried tomato, but I added spinach and spring onion/green onion into the mix. There are countless other variation you could do on this as well, to help clean out your refrigerator. I can imagine roast pumpkin, potato, kumara, red peppers, capers, carrot, mushrooms, onion, lentils or other beans, chickpeas, and other kinds of cheese all being great alternatives to the filling I chose.

Puff pastry is not something I have ever tried making myself, although it is on the bucket list. Making puff pastry from scratch is a time consuming delicate process that can very easily go wrong, and it is an ingredient readily available in the freezer section of most super markets. As a vegetarian you have to be careful though, as most pre-made versions use lard or other animal fats. In New Zealand, New Way brand puff pastry is the only one that is vegetarian friendly, and even has the New Zealand Vegetarian Society stamp of approval.

Puff Pastry Pockets

adapted from: Baking Makes Things Better

MAKES: 4 pockets


  • 2 square sheets of pre-made puff pastry
  • 200g or 7 ounces feta cheese, crumbled
  • 2 tablespoons pesto
  • 4 large sundried tomatoes, chopped
  • 1 packed cup of baby spinach
  • 1 green onion/spring onion
  • 1 egg, lightly beaten
  • Black pepper for seasoning

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

Brush a baking sheet with olive oil.

Cut each of the pastry squares in half.

In a medium bowl mix together the feta, pesto, sun-dried tomato, spinach, green onion, plus a sprinkling of black pepper.

Divide the feta mixture between the four pieces of pastry, and hen fold over the pastry to encase the filling. Press down on the edges with a fork to seal the
filing in. They should look like giant ravioli.

Brush the tops with the egg then bake for 20 minutes until golden.

Serve, while warm, with a simple side salad, or these will also make a great lunch for the next day.


Gluten Free, Raw, Recipes, Salads, Vegan (with substitutions)

Antipasto Salad

Antipasti Salad

I love antipasti plates!!

Antipasto means “before the meal” and is the first course of a formal Italian dinner. Now, I know traditional antipasti plates have cured meats on them as well, but personally I say “who needs it” when you have all sorts of yummy pickled and marinated vegetables with different kinds of cheeses thrown in for good measure. The contents of a traditional Italian antipasto vary greatly according to regional cuisine, and this salad is something you can easily vary according to your own tastes..

This Antipasto Salad is something I threw together to go with an Italian dinner I was making years ago, and have continued making it ever since. I do not think I have ever made it exactly the same way twice; there is plenty of room for your own experimentation, but the basic idea is always the same.  In this version I used a combination of spinach, rocket (arugula), and fresh basil leaves as the greens, with artichokes, sun dried tomatoes, capers, peppadew peppers, and pan fried haloumi on top, but marinated mushrooms, cocktail onions, olives, roasted red peppers, pepperoncinis, marinated garlic,  fresh mozzerella, parmesan, feta or numerous other marinated or pickled vegetables and fresh cheeses are all other options.

None of the measurements below are exact, it all depends how much of  the different ingredients you want to add to your salad. This salad can be made vegan, by leaving off the cheese and it still has plenty of flavor.

Antipasto Salad



  • 1 bag of baby spinach
  • 1/2 a bag of rocket (arugula)
  • a large handful of fresh basil leaves
  • 2 -3 marinated artichoke hearts, chopped
  • 1/2 cup sundried tomatoes, chopped
  • 1/2 cup peppadew peppers, chopped
  • 1/4 cup capers
  • 1 packet haloumi
  • olive oil

for the dressing

  • 1/2 cup good quality olive oil
  • 1/4 cup balsamic vinegar
  • 1 tablespoon dried mixed italian herbs
  • pinch of dried chili flakes
  • salt and pepper to taste

Mix your greens together in a large bowl.

Roughly chop your marinated and pickled vegetables, and add them into the bowl along with the capers.

Add your cheese and dressing on top of the salad.

If using haloumi: On a medium high temperature, heat enough olive oil to cover the bottom of the pan. Cut the haloumi into 5mm or 1/8 inch slices and add them to the pan, once the oil has been heated. Let the cheese brown on each side for about 2-3 minutes. If your haloumi looks like it is starting to melt, you probably have your heat too high.Let the cheese cool slightly but add to the salad and serve still warm.

For the dressing: Mix all the ingredients in a small bowl with a whisk or fork until they looked combined.


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

Day 34 – Roasted Shallot, Beetroot, & Lentil Salad


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



  • 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.


100 Days Project, Gluten Free, Mains, Recipes

Day 21 – Portobello Mushroom Skillet


Well . . . was supposed to be at a friends house for dinner, but that fell through.  I ended up inviting the few friends who were still keen on dinner around to mine, but then had to figure out what to make.

To adhere to everyone’s dietary restrictions, the meal had to be vegetarian and gluten free. I already had the Gluten Free Dinner Rolls, from my Day 20 post, that I made last night, and in my stash of untried recipes, I found this recipe for a Portobello Mushroom Skillet, from How Sweet It Is. This recipe is quick, simple ,gluten free, and vegetarian; so, essentially just what I was looking for. Plus, the added bonus of being warm and cheesy on a chilly night.

I served the mushrooms with the Gluten Free Dinner Rolls,  a last minute concoction of roasted potatoes and green beans that had been tossed in olive oil, salt, pepper, thyme and lemon zest, and of course a lovely bottle of red wine.

Portobello Mushroom Skillet

by: How Sweet It Is


  • 8 portobello mushrooms, stems removed
  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • 1 shallot, thinly sliced
  • 1 small red pepper, chopped
  • 3 cloves of garlic, minced
  • 1 (8 oz) bag of fresh spinach
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 1/4 teaspoon pepper
  • 1/4 teaspoon smoked paprika
  • 2 tablespoons parmesan cheese
  • 1 tablespoon balsamic vinegar
  • 8-10 slices of fontina or havarti cheese
  • fresh parsley for garnish

Heat a skillet over medium heat and add 1 tablespoon of olive oil. Add shallots and peppers with salt and pepper, cooking until soft – about 5 minutes. Add in garlic and spinach, cooking until spinach wilts, then stir in smoked paprika and parmesan.

Remove spinach mixture from skillet and set aside in a bowl. Add remaining olive oil in skillet, then place mushrooms in the pan stem side down. Cook for 5-6 minutes, then flip. Cook for 5 minutes more, then fill each mushroom with an equal amount of the spinach mixture. Turn the heat under the skillet off, and heat the broiler in your oven.

Dizzle balsamic into pan and gently stir mushrooms to coat, then add a slice of fontina or havarti on top of each. Place under the broiler for 2-3 minutes, or until cheese gets bubbly and melts. Serve immediately,

Garnish with parsley, if desired, and with crusty bread (or in my case gluten free dinner rolls)


100 Days Project, Dairy Free, Gluten Free, Recipes, Salads, Uncategorized, Vegan

Day 6 – Sweet Potato & Pistachio Quinoa Salad


I have a question for you Herbivores  . . . Do you have the problem of always making just way too much food?

This is certainly a problem in my kitchen; you would think a small army was coming to dinner. I am single, live with one flatmate who I rarely see, every once and awhile I will have a friend or two over for dinner, but typically there is more food made than can possibly be eaten.  Realistically, there are only so many days you can stand to eat the same left overs, and while freezing food is an option, my freezer is small and can only hold so much. Plus, not everything freezes well. One of the lovely things about this recipe is that it makes small portions. It serves two, so you have enough for dinner and lunch for the next day. That being said, it is also easibly scalable just in case that small army turns up unexpectedly, or you want to make a healthy meal for your family or friends.

Quinoa (pronounced keen-wah) is becoming a very popular grain in our modern society, but it has ancient origins dating back to Ican civilization. It was considered the “mother or all grains”, and today we call it a “super grain” as it is wheat-free, gluten-free, easy to digest, high in protein, and among the least allergenic foods available. It has been a staple of the indigenous diet in areas like Peru for centuries cultivated more for domestic use than international export. The only problem with Quinoa’s blossoming popularity in the western world is that it is putting pressure on the available crops causing the price to increase, making this staple food economically out of reach for some communities who have depended on it. This imbalance will hopefully be solved as more crops are currently being planted to keep up with both the domestic and international demand.

I can create amazingly complicated recipes, but the simplest of foods can sometimes be a challenge. Qunioa, like rice, can be difficult to cook properly, coming out gluggy when it should be soft and fluffy, or burning to the bottom of your pan if left too long. Just like rice, I have found you can cheat by making it in a rice cooker for perfect results every time. Shhh . . . this can be our little kitchen secret.

Sweet Potato & Pistachio Quinoa Salad

adapted from: Will Cook For Friends



  • 1 sweet potato, peeled and cut into 20mm cubes (in New Zealand you can substitute a golden kumara for sweet potato)
  • 2-3 tabkespoons olive oil
  • 1 clove garlic, minced
  • 1/2 cup quinoa, rinsed (I used a mixture of red and white quinoa)
  • 1 cup vegetable stock or water
  • 1/2 teaspoon coriander seads
  • 1/2 teaspoon cumin powder
  • 1/4 cup fresh cilantro, chopped
  • 1/2 cup pistachios, roasted/salted/shelled, roughly chopped (plus more for garnish)
  • 500g of spinach, roughly chopped or baby spinach
  • Salt, pepper, and cayenne to taste

Preheat oven to 375f.

Toss cubed sweet potato or kumara with 1-2 tablespoons olive oil, and a large pinch of salt. Spread in an single layer on a foil covered baking sheet, and roast for 15-20 minutes, or until fork tender and brown. Shake or stir the pan once during cooking to stop tops from burning.
In a small pan over medium-high heat dry roast the coriander seeds until they start making a popping sound and release their fragrant aroma. Keep an eye on them, because they can very quickly got from brown to burnt. Grind the coriander seeds into coarse powder in an electric coffee mill, mortar and pestle, or with the bottom of a heavy glass.

In the same small pan, over medium heat, saute garlic in 1 tablespoon olive oil until golden and fragrant.

Rinse the quinoa under cold water, drain, then add to the pan. Add the vegetable broth, coriander, and cumin, and bring to a boil. Cover, reduce the heat to low, and let cook 12-15 minutes without lifting the lid. Remove from heat, and let stand for another 5 minutes. Alternatively, you can add all of these ingredients to a insert of a rice cooker and let it simmer away till done. Remove the lid or your pan or rice cooker, and fluff quinoa with a fork.

Gently stir in chopped cilantro, pistachios, and the sweet potato. Season to taste with salt, pepper, and cayenne.

Place a good size handful of the chopped spinach on a plate and top with the quinoa mixture.