Archive for June, 2009

Quinoa Tabbouleh

Quinoa is an ancient grain and was once considered ‘the gold of the Incas’ in South America. All but forgotten, it is coming back into vogue on a global scale. Like most whole grains, it is a great source of fibre, but what makes it really special, in my book, is that it is a complete protein, providing all essential amino acids (important for tissue building).

Specifically, it is a good source of calcium, phosphorus, magnesium, potassium, copper, zinc and iron. While most of us look to animal based protein sources such as meat and cheese for our daily intake of protein, quinoa provides a good option for people following a vegan diet who might feel slightly limited with beans, nuts and tofu.

An obvious substitute for pasta, rice or couscous, you can buy quinoa in all health food shops (and thankfully, it’s gaining shelf space in many supermarkets). Rinse it before cooking to get rid of its bitter outer layer, then simply cook it like rice until it is light and fluffy. For added flavour cook it in fish, chicken or vegetable stock instead of water.

In salads, it is terrific served with grated raw vegetables (beetroot and carrots being my favourites) with sautéed sliced red onions and a balsamic vinaigrette.

Tabbouleh is a great crowd-pleaser of a salad, full of freshly chopped herbs. Though traditionally made with bulghur in the middle east, I made this quinoa tabbouleh for a family buffet and was reassured when my 80- year-old aunt returned to the table for second helpings.

Ingredients

Serves four

  • 150g quinoa
  • 400mls water
  • Pinch salt
  • Half cucumber, skin on, diced small
  • Half courgette, coarsely grated
  • 2 tomatoes, deseeded and diced
  • 1 red onion, finely diced
  • 25g fresh mint, leaves chopped
  • 25g flat leaf parsley, leaves chopped

Dressing

  • 2 tbsp extra virgin olive oil
  • 1 tbsp lemon juice
  • 1 tbsp soy sauce (or tamari)
  • Pinch paprika
  • Salt and freshly cracked black pepper to taste

Method

Rinse the quinoa in a sieve, rubbing your fingers through the grain until the water runs clear.

Place the quinoa and water in a saucepan with a pinch of salt. Bring to a boil, cover, then simmer for 15 minutes, stirring occasionally until all the water is absorbed. Set aside to cool.

Once cool, transfer the quinoa to a wide bowl. Stir in the cucumber, courgette, tomatoes, red onion, mint and parsley until fully combined.

Next stir through the extra virgin olive oil, lemon juice, soy sauce and paprika. Season to taste.

Recipe Source: Vanessa Greenwood in the Irish Independent

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Fennel and orange salad

Ingredients

  • 2 oranges, peeled and thinly sliced
  • 2 fennel bulbs, stalks removed and thinly sliced (reserve the leaves)
  • 1 red onion, very thinly sliced
  • 1 tbsp balsamic vinegar
  • 2 tbsp olive oil
  • 2 tbsp finely chopped mint
  • salt and pepper

Method 

  • When chopping the orange, reserve the orange juice to mix with the olive oil and balsamic vinegar. Season with salt and pepper.
  • Arrange layers of orange, onion and fennel. Drizzle over the dressing and garnish with plenty of fresh mint.

Source: Irish Independent

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Make friends with fennel

Fennel has a delicate, fresh aniseed flavour. It marries so well with so many dishes that you’ll wonder how you lived without it. There are three parts of the fennel plant we can use: the bulb, seeds and fine leaves. The only inedible parts really are the hard stalks, but these are still excellent in stocks.

Fennel is the perfect partner for any seafood dish, so serve it on the side as a salad or a roast vegetable. You can also stuff a whole fish with fennel and lemon slices or bake fish in foil parcels with fennel and lemon.

It’s the fennel seeds in tea that are well known as a digestive aid. Fennel is soothing on the digestive tract and nursing mothers can calm colicky babies by eating fennel.

Fennel is very good at stabilising blood-sugar levels and food cravings, so has been used for many years as a useful tool in weight loss and managing cravings, especially sugar cravings. Fennel seeds are also mildly diuretic and cleansing to congested lymphatic systems. In plain English, fennel is great for fluid retention and cellulite.

Rich in phytoestrogens, fennel helps relieve hormonal problems such as PMS and menopausal symptoms. And as it is soothing on the whole abdominal region it can only bring relief. It might also relieve the uncontrollable urge to scoff mountains of chocolate at that time of the month.

Fennel is in season at the moment so make the most of this wonderful vegetable. Finely slice it into salads or wrap the bulbs in foil and roast on the BBQ.

Baked Fennel with a Crispy Topping

  • 3 fennel bulbs, stalks removed, cut into quarters (reserve the delicate leaves)
  • 2 tbsp olive oil
  • 1 clove garlic, crushed
  • Zest of 1 lemon
  • 50g breadcrumbs
  • 50g grated Parmesan cheese
  • 2 tbsp chopped fresh flat-leaf parsley
  • salt and pepper

Method

  •  Preheat oven to 190C.
  • Place fennel on a baking tray, brush with half the olive oil and season with some salt and pepper.
  • Mix the rest of the olive oil with the breadcrumbs, cheese, lemon zest, parsley and garlic. Season with salt and pepper.
  • Bake for 25-30 minutes until the fennel is softened and the coating is crispy.
  • Garnish with the fennel leaves.

Source: Irish Independent

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Cranberry, apricot and sultana loaf

This recipe produces a fat-free loaf, which tastes great when sliced and spread with butter. Play around with the ingredients, replacing the apricots with prunes or figs and using cherries instead of cranberries.

  • 55g/20z chopped dried dates
  • 45 ml water
  • 140g/5 oz plain yoghurt
  • 1 medium egg
  • 125 g/ 4 1/2oz flour (regular, rice or gluten free)
  • 1 heaped tsp mixed spice
  • 1 level tsp bicarb of soda
  • 55g/2oz dried chopped apricots
  • 55g/2oz dried cranberries
  • 30g/1 oz sultanas

Method

  • Pre-heat oven to 180 centigrade or equivalent. Grease and line a 1lb loaf tin.
  • Simmer the dates in the water, over a low heat until soft and most of water has been absorbed. Allow to cool.
  • Mix together the dates, yoghurt, egg, flour, mixed spice and bicarb of soda until well mixed.
  • Add dried fruits and combine. The mixture should have a soft dropping consistency.
  • Place the mixture in the tin and bake for aprox 30-35 mins.
  • Cool for 5 mins in tin, then place on wire cooling rack.

This can be frozen in slices or will keep for up to 3 days.

Source: Cooking without made easy

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Healthy carrot and orange muffins

I made these this morning with no added sugar as an experiment. They are very quick and easy to prepare. The addition of wholemeal flour makes these muffins a little dense, so they are more like scones than light muffins. You can subsitute plain flour instead if you prefer. I also added a handful of raisins for sweetness. All that aside, they taste good and are healthier for you. I am enjoying one right now with an afternoon cup of tea.  

Ingredients

  • 75g butter, melted
  • 2 oranges, juiced and zested (use unwaxed if you are zesting)
  • 1 egg, beaten
  • 100g carrots , peeled and grated
  • 300g plain or wholemeal flour
  • 2 tsp baking powder
  • 100g caster sugar (if you can’t resist the sugar fix)
  • ½ tsp cinnamon
  • handful of raisins (optional)
  • Method

    Heat the oven to 190C/fan 170C/gas 5. Line a 12-hole muffin tin with squares of baking parchment, pushing them down to make little cases. Mix the dry ingredients together in a large bowl with a pinch of salt. Whisk together the wet ingredients with the carrots then stir this into the dry ingredients, but don’t overmix – it’s better if it’s a bit lumpy.

    Spoon into the muffin tin and bake for 20-25 minutes until risen.

    (This recipe adapted from BBC GoodFood)

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    Lemon polenta cake

    Polenta, a traditional staple food throught Nothern Italy,  is a dish made from boiled cornmeal, which doesn’t make it sound very enticing, but it is appetizing when combined in the right dish. It works well in this recipe as a dessert.

    Ingredients

  • 115 g/4oz chopped dried dates
  • 90 ml/3 fl oz water
  • 115g/4 oz butter or marg
  • 125g/4 1/2 oz gluten free/rice/regular flour
  • 2 medium eggs
  • 85g/3oz ground almonds
  • 55g/20z polenta
  • 1 rounded tsp baking powder
  • 2 tsps grated lemon rind
  • 2 tbsp lemon juice
  • Method

    • Grease and line a 1lb loaf tin or a 15cm/6 in sandwich tin and set the oven temp  to 180 centigrade or equivalent.
    • In a pan simmer the chopped dates and water on low heat until the mixture is soft and mushy and most of the water has been absorbed. Allow to cool.
    • Process the mixture with the butter or marg until smooth and creamy. Add the polenta, eggs, baking powder and lemon rind and juice and process again. The mixture should have a soft dropping consistency, so add a little extra water if needed.
    • Place the mixture in the baking tin and bake for aprox 45 mins or until golden brown and spongy to touch.
    • Allow the cake to cool  for 5 mins and then turn onto a wire rack and remove the lining paper.
    • Serve and enjoy!

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    Rhubarb vanilla cake

    The flavours of vanilla and rhubarb combine surprisingly well here. You can serve it warm as dessert with some ice-cream or you could change it around and turn it into a rhubarb and ginger cake (a classic combination of flavours). To do so, fold in 55g/20z of crystallised or stem ginger before baking.

    Ingredients

    • 115 g/4oz rhubarb
    • 115 g/4oz chopped dried dates
    • 60 ml/2 fl oz water
    • 125g/4 1/2 oz butter or marg
    • 125g/4 1/2 oz gluten free/rice/regular flour
    • 2 medium eggs
    • 2 level tsp baking powder
    • 1 tsp vanilla extract

    Method

    • Grease and line a 1lb loaf tin or a 15cm/6 in sandwich tin and set the oven temp  to 180 centigrade or equivalent.
    • Slice the rhubarb and place in a pan with chopped dates and water. Bring to the boil, then cover and simmer on low heat until the rhubarb and dates are soft and mushy and most of the water has been absorbed. Allow to cool.
    • Process the rhubarb mixture with the butter or marg until smooth and creamy. Add the flour, eggs, baking powder and vanilla extract and process again. The mixture should have a soft dropping consistency, so add a little extra water if needed.
    • Place the mixture in the baking tin and bake for aprox 45 mins or until golden brown and spongy to touch.
    • Allow the cake to cool  for 5 mins and then turn onto a wire rack and remove the lining paper.
    • Serve and enjoy!

    Comments (1)

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