Gluten free – cauliflower and spinach cheese bake

We indulged ourselves a bit earlier in the week with a real cheesy cauliflower and spinach bake (used mom’s recipe for white sauce – one of the first things I learned to cook).  We used the Apache chillies from the garden in the dish and it helped spice it up a bit.  Feel free to reduce the amount of cheese you use.

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What do I need to make it?

  • 1 head of cauliflower cut into bite size florets (par boil with some salt)
  • 1 small bag of spinach (~150gms) par boiled with a bit of salt
  • 1 bunch of spring onions chopped
  • 3-4 cloves of garlic finely chopped
  • 6-8 green chillies chopped finely (de-seed if you want the sauce milder)
  • 3 tbsp gluten free flour mix (we use Dove’s Farm flour)
  • 100 gm medium grated cheddar cheese
  • 100 gm red Leceister grated cheese
  • 250 ml milk
  • 75 gm unsalted butter
  • Salt to taste

How much will I make?

Serves 4

How do I make it?

Heat a heavy bottom pan and melt butter before adding garlic, spring onion and green chillies.  Saute for 5-8 minutes before adding the gluten free flour.   Give it a good stir, add the milk and reduce the heat.   Bring the mixture to a boil before adding half of each cheese.   Continue to mix till you get a nice thick cheesy sauce.   If it is too thick add a bit more milk.   Add the remaining ingredients and mix well before transferring into an oven proof dish.   Sprinkle the remaining cheese and place under the grill in pre-heated oven at around 220 degrees Centigrade.   Remove the dish once the cheese has melted and begins to form a golden crust.  Enjoy and then make an appointment to go to the gym afterwards to work it off 🙂

 

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Gluten free chestnut flour pancakes

We are loving the discovery of chestnut flour (singoda) which we probably never would have used had we not started experimenting with gluten free flour options.  We are still trying to perfect the sweet potato/chestnut flour “churros” but tried using the flour today to make some delicious pancakes – they are not as fluffy as traditional pancakes but taste divine.   So for all those who want a gluten free breakfast option this recipe is for you.  Enjoy!

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What do I need to make it?

  • 1 cup chestnut flour
  • 1/2 tsp baking powder
  • 1 1/2 tsp fruit sugar (sweeter than normal sugar)
  • 1 cup milk
  • 1 egg
  • 1 tsp vanilla essence (we used 1/4 tsp vanilla paste)
  • Butter to grease the pan
  • Pinch of salt

How much will I make?

6-8 medium sized pancakes

How do I make it?

Beat the egg and milk in a bowl and then add the chestnut flour and baking powder.  Use a whisk to beat further to ensure no lumps.   Add the remaining ingredients, whisk further and batter should coat your ladle.   Heat frying pan on medium heat and add a knob of butte,r some batter and cook on both sides,   Serve hot with topping of your choice – we had three different toppings today – icing sugar, Greek honey and Agave nectar (amazing alternative to sugar – natural and tasty).

Gluten free churos (work in progress)

Building on the success of the chocolate cake we got our creative juices going to make a dessert with some chestnut flour we had picked up recently.   We are calling it gluten free churos as this is closest thing it resembles but still needs a bit of work to get the texture just right.   We are pretty happy with our first attempt and thought we would share this with you in the hope that you can input your ideas on improving and perfecting it.

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What do I need to make it?

  • 1 cup of chestnut flour
  • 1 large sweet potato peeled and boiled with a few cloves and a black cardamom pod and then mashed
  • 2 tsp fruit sugar
  • 1 tsp cinnamon powder
  • Oil to fry

How much will I make?

Serves 4

How do I make it?

Mix all the ingredients in bowl and knead together to form a soft dough.   Heat oil in a frying pan and fry long strips till done.   The end result is a crispy exterior with a semi chewy interior.  We used a traditional South Indian muruku press to place the dough into the oil – works a treat.

Salad therapy – Artichoke revisited

After a late lunch today both of us did not feel like having a big meal for dinner and settled on a salad.  Next year when artichokes are back  in season we are going to make it a point to cook them fresh but till then the simpler tinned route will have to suffice.  This evening’s salad was a blend of artichokes, cherry tomatoes from the garden, Greek salad cheese and large chili stuffed olives dressed with olive oil, lemon juice and some fresh mint and basil from the herb patch (traditional artichoke salad uses chopped parsley but the combination of basil and mint works really well).   A dash of salt and pepper to taste and dinner was ready.

Artichoke Salad

Rava Stores (Palakkad, Kerala)

Rava  stores is a family  establishment that has weathered all the ravages of times.  A tiny little store which has survived the onslaught of modernization and thrived despite changes and the challenges of the economy.  It is a store which sells the finest quality locally produced spices, masalas, pickles, pickling spices, dried vegetables, condiments, sweets, savories , chutneys and mixes native to Palakkad.  The beauty of this store is that it procures  its goods from vendors who make them from  home and therefore promotes the local cottage industries.

Rava stores  holds a very special place in my heart because my dad and my grandparents swore by it and were very faithful customers.  I cherish the memories of coming here year after year as a child and even today have made myself visit the  store and buy my favourites every time I am in Palakkad.  Nothing has changed since I was a child.  The way the goods are stored in rectangular metal tins and stacked on the old wooden shelves, the blue shutters or the smell of freshly ground masalas.  All this evokes a great sense of nostalgia and a small sense of joy that something dear to  me from my childhood has remained  exactly the same.

Long live Rava stores.  I hope my children will also keep this tradition alive and make the culinary pilgrimage to Rava stores every time they visit Palakkad.  I hope they cultivate their taste buds and develop the fondness for Mahaani, Kaduku Manga and Tapioca Poppadums  and everything else that Rava stores has specialized in supplying for generations.

Rava stores 1  rava stores 2

Tricolore salad

As previously stated in one of our earlier blogs tricolore is one of our all time favourite salads and tonight we had one for dinner.  We have normally stuck to the traditional recipe of beef tomatoes, avocados and fresh mozzarella cheese garnished with fresh basil and dressed with extra virgin olive oil and lemon juice.  This evening we added grated lemon zest  for a change  and it works really well 🙂

Tricolore salad

Fresh hot sauce

Both Anna and I love our food spicy and hot and have experimented quite a bit with different chili sauces and fresh chilies.  One of my favourite hot sauces has to be the home made sauce which was served in a Carribean restaurant called Cari-B in Dallas, Texas (sadly it has closed down now).  The owner had has brother-in-law make the sauce from habanero peppers and boy did it pack a punch.  I can still vividly remember the conversation I had with the waiter when I asked for the hot sauce to go with my jerk chicken and black bean rice.  I was with my good friend Dushyant when this big Jamaican lad came over with the sauce and said in his thickest Jamaican accent “yo man, I know you Indian and all but if I were you I would use this sauce judiciously”.   Wise words as a small drop on the tip of my tongue was enough to get it tingling and dancing.  Today I decided to have a go at making my first home made hot sauce using scotch bonnet peppers – it’s not exactly the Cari-B sauce but quite tasty and definitely hot.

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What do I need to make it?

  • 6-8 scotch bonnet peppers de-seeded
  • 3 cloves of garlic
  • 2 tbsp of apple cider vinegar
  • 1 tbsp cranberry and apple balsamic vinegar
  • 2 tsp unrefined sugar
  • Salt to taste

How much will I make?

Around 150 – 200 ml

How do I make it?

Put all ingredients in a food processor and blend to a fine paste.  Adjust the seasoning and enjoy. The hot sauce should stay for a few weeks if refrigerated as the vinegar will serve as a preservative.