Thursday, 5 November 2015

Vanilla Bean Tofu Custard

Yes, I have heard it all don't like tofu. 

In fact, I don't think I have met anyone who has declared a love for tofu.  But, here's the thing...I like tofu.  So I am gonna make things with it.

When I still lived in the snowy regions of Canada, I used silken tofu as the cream base in chowders.  No one was any wiser that my creamy soups were not made with milk or cream.  Later, I attempted working tofu into vegetable based gyozas; they went over well and no one objected to the tofu that was delicately incorporated in the mushroom, chive, and green onion dumplings.  Still though, I didn't have anyone in the family cheering at my tofu offerings.

As time has marched on, my kids began to welcome the tofu 'cheese' that was in their miso soup ~instead of leaving at the bottom of the bowl; so I felt it time to try a sweeter tactic to get them to endorse a broader range of tofu concoctions.  An easy lunch box chocolate tofu pudding pot was first successful lunch box dessert.  These went over really well and are a regular rotation on the lunch box menu for school.  I whiz these babies up the night before and fill small plastic containers with sweet chocolatety tofu goodness and it it can keep up with the school lunch desserts for over a week.

After a minor battle over who ate more than their fair share of the last batch of pudding pots, I have made a vanilla version for my darlings this week.  It containers real vanilla bean which might seem a little over the top but I guarantee it is worth it.  I can buy vanilla bean paste in the grocery stores here and a little goes a long way.  Don't use the alcohol based vanilla as it imparts a bitter taste in the custard that isn't very nice.

I won't bother to provide a printable recipe for this recipe as it has so few ingredients that I think most people can remember it.  So you don't like tofu, you say?  I suggest you give this vanilla bean custard a try and see if I can change your mind.

  • 500-600 grams of silken tofu
  • 1/3 cup pure maple syrup
  • 1 tsp. vanilla bean paste or the paste of 1 vanilla bean
  • 1/2 tsp. pink salt
  • 3 Tbsps. refined coconut oil
Combine all the ingredients in a high speed blender and blend until smooth.  Pour into individual sized portions and refrigerate.  The custard should keep for approximately 7 days.

Friday, 30 October 2015

The Uses for Vegan Cheeze Sauce are Endless

Can you see the baked potato hiding under the piles of
broccoli & cheeze sauce?
My oldest daughter wanted mac and cheese on the weekend so I directed her to my Vegan Cheeze Sauce recipe.  With little effort, she whipped up a huge batch of mac and cheeze which fed us for lunch and this week's cold lunches for school.  With a side of coleslaw and a large dollop of homemade baked beans, it's a pretty tasty meal.

Did you know that cooking your pasta and then cooling it, substantially reduces the glycemic index of the pasta?  Further small studies have shown that the GI of pasta is reduced even more after reheating the pasta from cold.

Cooking & Cooling Pasta Changes Starch Quality To Cut Calories & Fat

After pulling together a delish mac & cheeze, we held back about a cup of the remaining cheeze sauce to use as topping for stuffed potatoes.  The kids absolutely love stuffed potatoes and I have never seen them eat broccoli so fast.

Finally, I was looking for something different to put on my sourdough toast so it dressed my afternoon sourdough toast snack.  It took me back to my childhood love of good old Cheez Whiz.  Don't judge me for thinking wistfully about Cheez Whiz; you know you used to love it too;0.

I'm thinking of using the vegan cheeze sauce recipe in a black bean layered taco dip for Halloween.  I have no doubt it will be yummy!

If you haven't made my Vegan Cheeze Sauce recipe then give it a go.  If you prefer a less tangy version then add the lemon juice slowly to taste.

Sunday, 25 October 2015

Is Your Bakery Sourdough Bread Really Sourdough?

Hi everyone!  I know it has been ages since my last post but life has gotten a little busy and I haven't had time to share my slow food cooking and baking experiences.

My weekly routine always includes some form of sourdough feeding and baking and our family now only eats homemade sourdough bread exclusively.  I do have more recipes to share and stories to tell but it may be some time before I can put it all down on paper to share with you.

Homemade traditional sourdough white with a hint of whole
grain flour.
In the meantime, have a look at this video shared on a Facebook group, to which I belong, that is dedicated to sourdough making around the world.  Is your bakery sourdough bread really sourdough? Many people spend extra dollars buying what they believe to be authentic sourdough bread when in fact it is typical commercially produced loaves with a sour flavoring such as citric acid, a pinch of sourdough powder, and or vinegar.

Does your country regulate labeling on sourdough products to ensure you are getting an authentic product?  If you aren't making sourdough yourself, then ask your baker if your sourdough bread is made traditionally with at least an eight hour ferment and contains no commercial yeast.

Did you know that sourdough bread has a lower glycemic index (GI) than regular bread?  Have you heard that sourdough bread, that is fermented for at least eight hours, is lower in gluten than regular bread? Sourdough bread also is more easily digestible than quicker rising breads and has a longer counter life than regular homemade bread and one that rivals commercially produced breads containing preservatives.

Let's get back to traditional methods of preparing our food.  Happy sourdough eating everyone!

Tuesday, 1 September 2015

Yummy Vegan Cheeze Sauce

Sorry for my slow down in posts of late.  I am suffering from a problem with my back so I haven't been cooking up much of a storm or posting what I have been able to produce in my kitchen.  That said, my kids and I did have a conversation about my mac and real cheese of long ago ~ it has been years since we have had it for dinner.  My allergy to milk makes this favourite dish a no-go and I couldn't possibly stand to make it and watch them eat it if I can't have any!

Since I am just barely hobbling around, I decided to have a look on the net for a very easy vegan mac and cheese recipe that I could sit on a stool in the kitchen and make with ease ~ in my somewhat 'diminished' capacity.

There are lots of vegan mac and cheese recipes floating around on the net but I usually pick and choose what I think will work best from multiple recipes.  This is my adapted version of a cheese sauce, by Vegan Yumminess, that is delicious for mac & cheese; yummy for a cold pasta salad; amazing as a cheese sauce on a baked potato stuffed with veggies; eaten as a nacho sauce; or delicious as a warm dip with or without a splash of sriracha ~ I'm presently dreaming of oven roasted buffalo cauliflower bites and spicy cheese dip :)

This sauce is easy to make and takes about 10 minutes to prep, another 10 minutes or so to boil the veggies and about a minute to blend.  So it's quick to prepare and I am sure even a cheese lover will love it!

                                         Printer Version

  • 2 small potatoes, chopped & cooked
  • 1 medium sized carrot, peeled, chopped, & cooked
  • 1 small onion, peeled, chopped & cooked
  • 2 cloves garlic, peeled & cooked
  • 3/4 cup filtered water (or use cooking water from veggies)
  • 1/2 cup of raw cashews, soaked overnight or in boiling water for 15 minutes
  • 1/4 cup of soy milk, coconut milk, or nut milk
  • 3 Tbsps. nutritional yeast
  • 3 Tbsps. fresh lemon juice
  • 1- 1 1/2 tsp. sea salt
  • 1 tsp. paprika (cut back or leave out for a whiter sauce)

Prepare the potatoes, carrot, onion, and garlic; cover with water in a medium sized pot and boil until tender.  Drain garlic and veggies ~ reserving the appropriate amount of cooking water to add to the blender.  Add all the ingredients to a high speed blender and blend on high until smooth and creamy. Taste to adjust your seasonings. Makes about 31/2 cups of cheese sauce.

Thursday, 27 August 2015

The Feeling When Baking Bread

I started my sourdough adventures after I moved to Perth.  I had been baking my own bread for a very long time as I wanted my kids to be eating quality not quantity if they were going to eat bread.  Sourdough has been on my list of 'to do's' for a long time so I was excited to give it a go when we finally unpacked.

My early sourdough breads were a bit hit and miss ~ always with great flavour but never with enough bubble and oven burst.  Anyone who has ever tried their hand at sourdough can testify to the frustration and disappointment when your loaf doesn't turn out the way you want.

I have gone on recipe hiatus for the past month while I deal with the usual life up and downs and have been studying and practicing my sourdough making.  I have been concentrating lately on white sourdough with either a pure white flour starter or half whole wheat and half white.  I also have upped the hydration of the starter and now am maintaining 100% hydration ~ that's equal weight in flour and filtered water.

I had three loaves on the go a couple of weeks ago ~ two sourdough whites and a garlic/parsley loaf for my garlic bread loving oldest daughter.  The garlic loaf is a new loaf type for me and I was pretty happy with the results.  I gave a loaf to my neighbour for lending me her car one weekend when mine wouldn't start.  Thank you, Mary!

My lovely sourdough divided
and resting before the final shape.
There is no feeling like when I pull back my homemade cloche of tinfoil ~ yup, it is a pretty funny tinfoil mound but it works ~ and I see the oven spring in my loaf; slicing the loaf to find beautifully formed holes brings tears to my baker's eyes.  This feeling of triumph never goes away! Check out the pictures on my latest endeavors. 

The garlic loaf slashed and ready for the oven.

My tinfoil cloche working its magic for my baking bread.

Two of the loaves hot out of the oven.

Monday, 27 July 2015

Garden Love

Every morn I dutifully take out the recycling and inspect my garden.  The Perth morning air can range from warm or incredibly frosty but, either way, there is nothing like a quiet moment spent in the garden upon waking.  

I find the early hours are the best time to catch those pesky garden critters that wreak havoc on my garden greens.  Those little fuzzy caterpillars are so very cute but they sure make a mess of my kale, cauliflower leaves, and silverbeet!

Enjoy the pictorial of a few of such morning moments in my little winter garden ~ remember to eat green, feed your beneficial gut microbes, and LOVE your veggies!  Here's to garden love!

Tuesday, 21 July 2015

The Egger BLT Salad

I have to say, we have been completely off our routine of late and my eating has been less than desirable to keep my gut microbiome a happy camper.  A few nights ago, I decided we were having our favourite BLT (Bacon, Lettuce, and Tomato) Salad with egg to mark the beginning of getting back on track to our regular healthy eating habits.

The salad itself comprises of any combination of greens, veggies, tomatoes, a bit of bacon, and topped with a boiled egg or two.  I recognize this might not suit the purest interpretation of BLT but it sure is delicious and my eleven year old, who loves her junk food, squealed with delight when she saw what was on her plate.

It is hard to stand between a kid and her salad and ultimately the extra salad that I had made for my next day lunch was gobbled up, by said child, as seconds that very night.  So please give this salad a try as it is delicious as a stand alone meal or use the dressing for a green side salad or even a marinade for chicken. Whatever you decide, it is definitely both a yummy and filling meal.

For the salad:

  • Mixed greens, washed
  • Shaved cabbage, any colour
  • Grated carrot
  • Yellow capsicum, cut in strips
  • Cherry tomatoes, cut in half
  • 1-2 strips of bacon per person, chopped
  • 1-2 hardboiled eggs per person, sliced

Toss salad; top with bacon and egg; and then dress with salad dressing.

For the dressing:

  • 1/3 cup of grapeseed oil
  • 1 Tbsp. olive oil
  • 2 Tbsps. apple cider vinegar, preferably with mother
  • 1 Tbsp. lemon juice, freshly squeezed
  • 1 Tbsp. maple syrup
  • 1/2 tsp. sea salt
  • 1/4 tsp. ground pepper
  • 1/2 clove garlic, minced

Whisk ingredients together to combine.

Monday, 20 July 2015

Cauliflower Garden Love

The weather is weird here in Perth as we have recently come off a cold spell and are now experiencing temperatures upwards of 18C degrees despite it being winter.  It rained long and hard last night so I had a peek at my garden this morning and was greeted by the baby beginnings of cauliflower.  The plants themselves have been huge for a long time but it is exciting to see a cauliflower or two finally making an appearance.

I have never grown this vegetable before but I look forward to seeing how big they will grow.  We don't eat a ton of cauliflower as it isn't a favourite vegetable of any member of the family.  I prefer to eat it raw but everyone else in my family likes it cooked so I compromise and use it raw for my Cauliflower Tabbouleh and cooked for cauliflower rice.

To make the rice simply cut the cauliflower in small pieces and pulse in a food processor until you achieve rice sized pieces.  I stir-fry the cauliflower rice with a bit of coconut oil, a tablespoon or so of soy sauce or tamari, and some finely chopped parsley or coriander.  Cook for about a minute just before serving.  It is a great rice substitute or even mix it with cooked rice if you want to up your veggie serves and hide it in the meal for the kids.

Sunday, 19 July 2015

The Sourdough Journey Continues...

The kids have been on school holidays over the last couple of weeks so my posts have slowed considerably.  Despite the hustle and bustle of having kids at home twenty-four seven, I have been making sourdough with a focus especially on white sourdough. My bread making has taken a turn for the better as I have moved into the realm of weighing my ingredients now instead of using cup measures.  I felt like too much of a beginner to weigh things early on and stuck to cup measures but as my starter takes strength, I am ready for the next stage of my sourdough journey.

Here are some pictures of my latest efforts using the same recipe but shaping a little differently each time. While not my recipe, these loaves were made all by my hands.  Yay me!  New recipes will be up soon for the blog especially since hubby is away on business and I hope he will use this website to keep to healthy eating.  Until then, enjoy the pics!

Alaskan Sourdough 66% hydration.

Sourdough white in bread tins.  So fluffy and amazing!

Sunday, 21 June 2015

Oatmeal Whole Wheat Sourdough Bread

Yes, yes another bread recipe.  No, you can never have too many of these in your recipe files.  I really like the whole wheat sourdough from my previous post but this one is especially a treat with the oatmeal.  I haven't tried this bread in a my baking cloche but I am sure it would turn out deliciously.  So far, I have been making this recipe in a baking tin and slicing for sandwiches.  The bread itself is light and bouncy.  Overall it received and A++ rating from the family.

I think if you add a 1/4 cup of molasses, it would make a really nice molasses oatmeal loaf.  If you would like a few seeds, then add a handful of pumpkin and/or sunflower seeds for a seedy version. This one is also a great loaf for the freezer so don't hesitate to double the quantities and make two loaves for a quick grab later.

"'A loaf of bread,'the Walrus said, 'is what we chiefly need:
  Pepper and vinegar besides are very good indeed.'" - Lewis Carroll

  • 1 cup of warm water
  • 1/3 cup of soy milk or any other kind of milk
  • 1 Tbsp. honey or maple syrup
  • 1/2 cup of sourdough starter
  • 3/4 cup of white bread flour
  • 2 cups of whole wheat flour
  • 1 cup of rolled oats
  • 1 1/2 tsps. sea salt

In a medium sized bowl, mix water, soy milk, honey and sourdough starter.  Next, gently whisk in the white flour and rolled oats.  Finally, add the two cups of whole wheat flour and sea salt; mix with the a wooden spoon until combined.

Turn the sticky dough out onto an unfloured counter and knead with the slap and stretch method for approximately ten minutes.  After kneading, shape the dough to form a ball and return to the mixing bowl, cover with plastic wrap then set aside until the dough has doubled or more; this may take anywhere from six to eight hours.

Once doubled, turn the dough onto a floured counter and shape into a loaf.  Bake at 425F or 220C for 30-35 minutes until the loaf makes a hollow sound when tapped on the bottom.  Makes one medium sized loaf of bread.

Tuesday, 16 June 2015

Teriyaki Soba Noodles with Crispy-fried Tofu

Okay, I have a secret.  For quite a few years now, I have harbored a secret love for tofu.  I love crispy fried tofu and stir-fried veggies and always choose this on the rare occasion that I get take-away.  My main problem with embracing this tasty fermented product at home is that the family have not exactly been enthusiastic about the object of my affections.  

I began about ten years ago by hiding tofu in our soup.  Silken tofu makes an excellent cream base when you can't eat cream or dairy products so I began blending it up for my soup base with minimal suspicion.  No, there was no absolute revolt when I was discovered but the tofu soup revelation didn't exactly get a clap of hands...more like a stoic tolerance.

I've taken a shot or two at stir-fries with tofu instead of meat and filled a gyoza or two with tofu instead of pork but no-one was as excited as I was about my genius experiments.  Just over a year ago, I decided to change my tactics to convince the family that tofu was a friend.  Tofu pudding pots were my salvation after re-jigging a recipe that I found in my Blender Girl cookbook.  The trick is to not tell your family that they are eating tofu until after they have licked their pudding bowl ~ only then should you tell them that the dessert they just scarfed down is tofu.

Anyway, fast forward to present day and chocolate pudding pots are a regular item for everyone's lunch boxes and now I am ready to take on tofu as a main dish meat alternative.  The husband and kids already love my teriyaki soba noodles tossed with blanched veggies and now I am adding tofu to shake things up a bit.  Don't be is really tasty.

For the teriyaki sauce:
  • 4 Tbsps. Japanese soy sauce
  • 1 Tbsp. water
  • 3/4 Tbsp. cornstarch
  • 3 Tbsps. mirin
  • 3 Tbsps. maple syrup or natural cane sugar
  • 1 Tbsp. fresh ginger, grated
  • 2 Tbsps. sesame oil
Everything else:
  • 2 tsps. sesame seeds
  • 2 carrots, julienned
  • 1 bunch of broccolini, chopped
  • 1 green onion, finely sliced
  • 1 - 270g package of soba noodles
  • 1 - 350g package of firm tofu
  • 3 Tbsps. cornstarch for dusting tofu
  • 1 Tbsp. coconut oil

Begin by opening and draining the tofu.  Place tofu on a plate with paper towel on both top and bottom; position a heavy object on it and set aside.  This will get rid of some of the excess liquid in the tofu.

Next in a small frying pan or pot, mix the soy sauce, water, cornstarch, mirin, maple syrup and sesame oil.  Heat on low until the mixture thickens enough to coat the back of a spoon.  Remove from heat and add the grated ginger to the mixture and stir to combine.  Set this aside and move on to prepping veggies to blanch and then cook the soba noodles according to the package.

Now, remove the paper towel and heavy weight from the drained tofu.  Slice the tofu block into pieces or bite-sized chunks and toss in the 3 Tablespoons of cornstarch.  Heat a small frying pan with oil; I like refined coconut oil.  When the oil is hot, fry tofu on each side making sure it is lightly brown and crispy.  Next add one-quarter of the teriyaki sauce and cook the tofu for about 30 seconds until the sauce has thickened then remove from heat.

Lastly, toss the cooled veggies, soba noodles, green onions, and sesame seeds with the remaining sauce and top with the crispy tofu.  Serves 4.

Monday, 8 June 2015

Vegetable Pakoras

We don't really deep fry foods at our house but this recipe is the exception to the rule.  Pakoras are a little bit indulgent and we often eat them with a vegetarian/vegan meal of chickpea korma or especially with our favourite masoor daal (red lentil curry).

We were first introduced to the humble pakora at our favourite Indian take-away in Vancouver.  We started making our own when I began experiencing more problems with dairy and eating out became more problematic.  I cook them on a night when we want to feel like we have had a special take-away meal without ordering take-away.

If you don't own a deep fryer then cook in a deep heavy-bottomed pot with a few inches of oil.  I cook them outside so the deep fried smell doesn't go through the house.  The pakoras freeze or keep in the fridge well for a gentle reheat later.  Unfortunately, ours never last long enough with my biggest kid eating them cold out of the fridge as a late night snack.  There is never a pakora left the morning after an Indian feast!

  • 1 cup of besan (chickpea) flour
  • 1 tsp. salt
  • 1/4 tsp. baking powder
  • 1 tsp. ground coriander
  • 1 tsp. ground cumin
  • 3/4 - 1 cup water
  • 1 Tbsp. grated ginger
  • 1 tsp. crushed or minced garlic
  • 2 cups of assorted fresh vegetables of your choice such as finely chopped cabbage, corn, green beans, green onion and/or grated carrot
  • rice bran oil for frying

In a medium-sized bowl, combine all the dry ingredients and then add the water and mix well.  Your batter should resemble thick cake batter.  Add your veggies and stir.  Try to keep the veggies  uniform in size so they will cook evenly.

In a heavy bottom pot, pour your rice bran oil in so it is a few inches high and heat until hot enough for frying.  You can test this by dipping a chopstick or wooden spoon handle in the hot oil and if small but vigorous bubbles form then your oil is ready.

Drop the batter in by the heaping tablespoon and fry until cooked through.  Try not to make the pakoras too large as they will struggle to cook through in the middle.  Place cooked fritters on a plate or tray covered in paper towel.  These freeze well or can be stored in the fridge, reheated or simply eaten cold.  Makes approximately 24 pakoras depending on the size.

Wednesday, 3 June 2015

Masoor Daal (Red Lentil Curry)

Ahhh, the humble lentil.  What can I say about lentils that most don't already know?  They are not a particularly glamorous food but they are full of fibre, easy on the pocketbook, very quick cooking, and simply put ~ delicious.  

You might think this meatless wonder would be a hard sell for dinner but my husband and children clap their hands with delight when I tell them we are having daal.  Serve this filling meal over a bed of fluffy basmati or a side of cauliflower rice ~ whatever you lean towards, I doubt you will be disappointed. I like this meal with a kick of spice and ~on special occasions~ serve it with a decadent pakora to make it feel like a special take-away treat. 

Throw all the ingredients in the slow cooker in the morning with a cup less of stock and have it ready for when you come home or cook it up on the stove-top in about 30 minutes.

Masoor daal and basmati rice with veggie pakoras.

  • 2 carrots, grated
  • 1 stick of celery, finely diced
  • 1 medium sized onion, finely diced
  • 4 sprigs of coriander or parsley, chopped
  • 2 bird's-eye chillies or 1/4 tsp. cayenne pepper (optional)
  • 2 Tbsps. rice bran oil or coconut oil
  • 1 Tbsp. fresh ginger, grated
  • 1 tsp. fresh garlic, minced
  • 1/2 tsp. ground turmeric
  • 1 tsp. ground cumin
  • 1 tsp. ground coriander
  • 1 cup of dried red lentils
  • 5 cups of vegetable stock, water, ~ or chicken stock
  • 1 tsp. of salt or to taste
In a medium-sized pot, sauté parsley/ coriander, carrots, celery, and onion in oil for a few minutes until translucent.  Add the chillies, ginger and garlic and cook for another minute then add the vegetable stock, spices, and lentils; bring to a gentle simmer.  Cook for approximately a minimum of 30 minutes, stirring occasionally to ensure the curry does not stick.  I like daal thick but runny;  just use less water/stock should you like it thicker.  Garnish with more chopped coriander or parsley. Serves 4-5 depending on portion sizes.

Thursday, 28 May 2015

Sarah's No-Bake Chunky Choc Chip Cookies

Store-bought cookies made it to my hit list over a year ago when I pledged to stop eating processed baked goods.  Most cookies don't accommodate my dairy allergy and many more with their hydrogenated and sugary fillings give me heartburn.  After purchasing a food dehydrator and venturing into making a lot of fruit leathers, I began my no-bake cookie adventures.

We have a few no-bake cookie recipes that we enjoy eating but these are the favourite.  My oldest daughter can't walk by the cookie container without eating one so I probably need to put them out of her path to make them last! At least I know that she is getting a sweet that is nutrient dense and gets her to eat a few more nuts in her diet ~thankfully none of us have a nut allergy.  Should walnuts not be your favourite then simply swap out for a more preferred nut.

So in addition to eating more nuts and bananas (oh yeah, I didn't eat many of them either),  I am now working in more lupin flake into our no-bake cookies and our homemade baked goods.  Lupins are reputed to be high in fibre, low in carbohydrates, and high in protein and I can buy it here in Western Australia as lupin flake.  I use it in our granola bars, bread, cookies, and waffles.  I was amazed at the nutritional value in lupins and now it's a happy addition to these chewy, chunky, chocolate chip cookies; leave the lupin flake out if you can't find it.

I realize there is no shortage of sugar in these cookie delights but there is no refined white sugar in them which seems to cause me as much grief as my dairy nemesis so if you need sugar fix then these will fit the bill.  Feel free to cut back on the dried berries and/or the chocolate chips if they are too much for you.  Either way, these are a very satisfying cookie for someone with a sweet tooth that is guaranteed to pack a nutritional punch.  

  • 1 cup walnuts
  • 1 cup pitted dates (if they are super dry then soften in boiling water and drain)
  • 1/2 tsp.of sea salt
  • 1 tsp vanilla (or  1/2 tsp. vanilla paste which is very extravagant but delicious)
  • 1 large ripe banana
  • 1 1/2 cups whole rolled oats
  • 1/4 cup of lupin flake (optional)
  • 1/2 cup of seeds or nuts (I used pumpkin & sunflower combo)
  • 3 Tbsps of ground flaxseed
  • 1/3 cup of unsweetened shredded coconut
  • 1/4 cup of dried goji berries, raisins, cranberries, or blueberries
  • 1/2 cup dark chocolate chips

In a food processor, finely chop walnuts and pitted dates; add salt, vanilla and banana and blend until smooth.  In a medium sized bowl, mix banana mixture with oats, lupin flake, seeds, flax, coconut, cocoa powder, dried berries, and chocolate until combined.

Dip a tablespoon into water and spoon as compactly as possible onto a nonstick pan or dehydrator sheet. Dehydrate for 16 - 24hrs depending on the temperature setting  of your dehydrator but should you not have a dehydrator, preheat your oven to 300 F then turn it off and place the cookies in the oven to leave with the door shut until the oven is cool.

Store in an airtight container for up to a month but I would be surprised if they last that long. Makes approximately 24 cookies.

Monday, 25 May 2015

Whole Wheat Sourdough Bread

Wow, I feel my sourdough bread journey has been epic so far!  I can't remember making so many loaves of bread in such a short period of time in my quest to successfully achieve a good sourdough loaf.  All my loaves to date have had a different amount of lift but all with very good flavour.  My early loaves were dense and chewy ~ the family loved them but I found the crust too heavy and I knew they weren't rising the way they should.

While some brag that sourdough making is very easy, I  have found that it is a delicate balance of a good sourdough starter; rising times; and kneading methods to achieve the perfect loaf.  On most of the sourdough chat forums, many have experienced the same hit and miss progress while they chased the flavour, texture, and crumb that are considered ideal in the world of sourdough bread.  I know I have far to go, but after many failures with others recipes, I have settled on this combination of my own that has produced a great flavoured sourdough with a beautiful rise of more than double and a very nice crumb.

A sourdough starter fed with pretty much all organic rye flour has given me the most consistent results.  White, whole wheat, or a combination thereof for feeding has ended with a sickly starter smelling of nail varnish.  The starter appears to need more frequent feeding with these types of flours and since I only like to feed my sourdough once or twice a week, I prefer to store my starter in the fridge; keep it to a stiff paste consistency; and feed it rye flour only when I bake or once a week ~ whichever comes first.

This loaf is made without a larger pre-ferment made the night before. I mix it up with a portion of sourdough starter ~ straight out of the fridge ~ first thing in the morning and form it into a loaf at about the 6 or 7 hour mark and then leave it for a second rise an hour or two more.  My recipe will make one large sized baguette or two smaller loaves.  Try making single batch instead of doubling the recipe so you can practice and modify your techniques.  I now only knead my bread using the slap and fold method which is easier to use with wet doughs but also incorporates more air into the dough and has resulted in a much nicer crumb.  This kneading technique was another breakthrough moment for me and I encourage you to try it.  I have provided a link at the bottom of the page should you wish to see it in action.

  • 1 1/2 cups of warm filtered water
  • 1/2 cup of warm soy milk or any milk of your choice
  • 1 Tbsp. honey, maple syrup, or natural cane sugar
  • 1 cup of sourdough starter
  • 2 1/4 cups of white bread flour
  • 2 1/4 cups whole wheat flour
  • 1 1/4 tsp. fine sea salt

In the morning mix the water, milk, honey and starter and blend well.  Next add the white flour and mix well and then finally add the remaining flour and salt.  The dough will be incredibly sticky and you will want to add more flour to it but don't.  Next, turn out the dough on  an unfloured counter and use the slap and fold method of kneading which consists of scooping up the dough on either side; flipping over and slapping it down quickly followed by stretching it toward you with your thumbs; then folding it over  on itself away from you.  Repeat these steps (see link below for more info) for about 10 minutes until the dough is smooth and elastic. Make the dough into a ball and place in a bowl, covered with plastic wrap, then set aside for 6-8 hours until the dough has doubled in size.

Dough after kneading.

When the dough has doubled, gently scrape it out of the bowl onto a lightly floured countertop.  Don't punch down as the idea is to keep as much air in the dough as possible.  Gently form the dough into a square and then fold the dough by 1/3 toward you and press down on the seam with the heel of your hand.  Repeat this fold again on the opposite side bringing the seam to the centre and press down.  Now fold the dough tightly in half and gently roll and shape as desired in a tin or in a banneton/ proofing basket.  Leave to rise again for another two to three hours.

Second rise in my baking cloche.

When the dough has doubled again, bake the loaf at 425F /220C for 35-40 minutes in a bread cloche, bread tin or on a pizza stone. However you choose to bake the bread, make sure the seam side is down for baking.  The baked loaf should  make a hollow sound, when knocked on the bottom, if it is done.
Whole wheat sourdough hot out of the oven. Yes, my scoring
technique needs some work or a much sharper knife!

Monday, 18 May 2015

Sourdough Chocolate Cake

I always make chocolate cake for birthdays and occasional lunch box treats and I wanted to try a sourdough cake since I currently have three sourdough starters with which to experiment.  My birthday came and went just recently and this was the cake my kids made me for the festivities.

The process of fermenting the ingredients is reputed to breakdown the mixture in a way that makes the final baked product more easily digestible and have a lower glycemic index (GI) which is the effect food has on a person's blood glucose level.  If digestion and low GI isn't a concern of yours then using a variety of sourdough recipes is also a convenient way to use up your discarded portion of sourdough when you must feed your starter ~ so the more recipes you have on hand then the easier it is not to waste a drop.  Fermented baked goods also are supposed to have a longer counter life and stay moist for longer.

This recipe was adapted from a bunch of sourdough cake recipes floating out there in cyberspace.  King Arthur Flour has a recipe that is pretty similiar to this but makes a larger cake.  Feel free to double this for a larger sheet cake or a double layer cake.  The cake is really easy to make and stays moist and yummy for days depending on what you use for icing.  When I have made it for lunch boxes, I don't ice it at all.  In cool weather, I like a homemade coconut butter for an icing with a touch of maple syrup for a bit of sweetness; it hardens like a ganache but isn't crazy sweet and is easy on the digestion.  In hot weather, any icing is in trouble stored on the counter especially in Perth heat.

  • 1/2 cup of soy milk
  • 1 Tbsp. of apple cider vinegar
  • 1/4 cup of strong coffee
  • 1/2 cup of sourdough starter
  • 1 cup of whole wheat or white flour
  • 1 cup of natural cane sugar
  • 1/2 cup of melted coconut oil or any other oil of your choice
  • 1 tsp. vanilla
  • 1/2 tsp. salt
  • 3/4 tsp. baking soda
  • 1/3 cup plus 1 Tbsp. of Dutch processed cocoa powder, sifted
  • 1 egg or 3 Tbsps. water mixed with 1 Tbsp. of ground flax

In a medium-sized mixing  bowl, mix together the soy milk and cider vinegar.  Once the milk mixture has thickened then whisk the coffee and sourdough starter and then add the flour and mix until smooth.  Cover and set this aside from 3-8 hours.  The mixture will get somewhat elastic and rise a bit.

After fermentation

Once the mixture has suitably fermented, mix sugar, oil, egg/flax egg, salt, vanilla, cocoa powder and baking soda.  After thoroughly mixing, add to the fermented mixture and mix well.

Finished batter waiting for the oven to heat up.
See the bubbles?
Pour batter into a greased and baking paper lined 8 inch square pan or equivalent sized cake tin and bake at 350F or 180C for 35 minutes.  Allow to cool for at least 15 minutes before removing from pan to cool completely.

Friday, 15 May 2015

Spinach & Seed Crackers

I have been making my own crackers for a while after finding that I am more and more sensitive to the additives and flavourings on and in store-bought commercially made crackers.  Homemade crackers are more nutritionally dense and give you a chance to pump up the nutrients per serving.

These crackers are inspired by a combination of recipes found on the net but especially the  Chia Crispbreads found at Anja's Food 4 Thought.  I make Anja's recipe all the time but this was my interpretation of it with my favourite spices, flour, and spinach.  Leave out the spinach or simply substitute it with kale ~ either way these crackers are delish!

Spinach & Seed Crackers with a side of hummus.
  • 1/4 cup of sunflower seeds
  • 1/4 cup pumpkin seeds
  • 2 Tbsps. flax seeds, ground or whole
  • 1/4 cup chia seeds
  • 1/4 cup whole rolled oats
  • 1/4 cup of buckwheat flour
  • 1 tsp. sea salt
  • 1/2 tsp. garlic powder
  • 1/2 tsp dried thyme
  • 1/2 tsp. dried oregano
  • 1/2 tsp. sweet paprika
  • 1/4 tsp. pepper
  • 1 cup of filtered water
  • 2 Tbsps. rice bran oil or olive oil
  • 250 grams spinach, washed & pureed

In a medium sized bowl, combine all of the dry ingredients.   Add water, oil, and spinach to the dry ingredients and mix until thoroughly combined.  Set aside for 20-30 minutes and then spread on a baking sheet between two pieces of baking paper and roll out as thinly as possible.  Remove the top piece of baking paper and score into cracker shapes with a large knife before placing in preheated oven.

Bake at 350F/ 180C for 30-40 minutes or until crisp and toasted.  Baking times may vary depending on the thickness of your cracker so keep an eye on them to ensure the perfect toastiness.  Let cool for a few minutes before breaking them up either along the scored lines or freestyle when you forget to score them for baking - like me!  Store the crackers in an airtight container for up to a month.

Thursday, 14 May 2015

Tandoori Chicken Marinade

I love, love, love Indian food!  That said, I think I have mentioned my dairy allergy and unfortunately most Indian restaurants use butter, cream, and/or yogurt in their recipes so we don't eat Indian out anymore.  In my quest to enjoy a good Indian meal, I have spent a lot of time developing recipes that are dairy-free and also easy on the digestion.  I only have my Korma and 'Butter' chicken recipes up on the site but will eventually get around to the rest of our favourites.  

This Tandoori marinade is great with any kind of chicken.  We like chicken thighs because they tend to have a lot more flavour and are more tender than chicken breast but use your favourite cut of chicken including drumsticks. 

  • 1 cup plain soy milk (or any kind of milk)
  • 1 Tbsp. lemon juice
  • 1 tsp. allspice
  • 1/2 tsp. black pepper, ground
  • 2 bird's eye chilli peppers
  • 2 tsps. sweet paprika
  • 1 tsp. cumin
  • 1 Tbsp. ginger, grated or chopped
  • 1 tsp. salt
  • 4 garlic cloves, chopped
  • 1 small onion, peeled and cut roughly into chunks

Place all the ingredients into a blender or food processor and blend until smooth.  Pour marinade over chicken and marinate in a plastic bag or glass container for 12-24 hours in the fridge.  Remove chicken from marinade and barbecue or bake until cooked through.

Wednesday, 6 May 2015

Toasted Pumpkin & Squash Seeds

Well, it's officially autumn here in Australia and despite my North American brain saying it should be spring, the weather truly is significantly chillier than it has been.  With autumn comes cool weather crops for my garden and I am enjoying an abundance of kale and silverbeet ~ or swiss chard to my North American friends ~ and am hoping to see some cauliflower if the bugs don't get them first!

Seeds ready for toasting in the frying pan.
For me, autumn traditionally is a time for squash, pumpkins and pumpkin seeds.  Lucky for me, Australia supplies squash all year round which they refer to as pumpkin.  Did you know that you can eat the seeds from squash?  Most people I know just chuck these gems in the garbage when they are preparing their squash/ pumpkin for dinner.  Our family loves to toast them and our only problem is that there are never enough seeds in the pumpkin to keep up with our appetite!

The next time you scoop out a squash or pumpkin, save the seeds.  Simply separate the 'guts' of the pumpkin/squash from the seeds, give the seeds a rinse and spread out on a piece of baking paper to dry a bit.  Once dry, dump the seeds still in their shell in a small frying pan with about 1 teaspoon of coconut oil and toast with a pinch of salt until golden brown. Sometimes I add a pinch of homemade seasoning to finish them off.

Pumpkin seeds, especially with their shell, are an excellent source of zinc and are very high in fibre so make so make an effort to give this snack a try!

Toasted spaghetti squash seeds.

Pumpkin Seed or Popcorn Seasoning

  • 1 1/2 Tbsps. nutritional yeast
  • 1 tsp. sweet paprika
  • 1/4- 1/2 tsp. cayenne pepper
  • 1/2 tsp. onion powder or dried onion flakes
  • 1/2 tsp. garlic powder
  • 1/2 tsp. salt

In a mini food processor, combine all the ingredients and blend until finely ground.  Store in an airtight container for up to a year.


Monday, 4 May 2015

Spinach & Seed Cracker Crisps

I started making my own crackers about a year ago in my quest to reduce refined and processed products.  I was looking to make something that packed a big nutritional punch and got to work researching a homemade cracker that tasted great, was pretty easy to put together and tasted yummy. This recipe was inspired numerous crispbread seed cracker recipes that are out on the net.  I find everyone has their favourite combination of seeds, seasonings and flour for these crackers so this is my version with my favourite spice combination.  The recipe can be made with pureed spinach, kale or completely without either.  If you want to leave out the spinach then simply leave it out and proceed with the cracker recipe with the remaining ingredients.  Besan (chickpea), rye, and whole wheat flour also make a great substitute in place of the buckwheat flour. I make the recipe both with and without spinach and they are both equally yummy!

  • 1/4 cup of sunflower seeds
  • 1/4 cup of pumpkin seeds
  • 2 Tbsps. flax seeds, ground or whole
  • 1/4 cup chia seeds
  • 1/4 cup of whole rolled oats
  • 1/4 cup of buckwheat flour
  • 1 tsp sea salt
  • 1/2 tsp. garlic powder
  • 1/2 tsp. thyme
  • 1/2 tsp. oregano
  • 1/2 tsp. sweet paprika
  • 1/4 tsp. ground pepper
  • 2 Tbsps. rice bran oil or olive oil
  • 1 cup of water
  • 250 grams of fresh spinach, pureed

In a medium-sized bowl, combine all of the dry ingredients.  Add water, oil and spinach to the dry ingredients and mix until thoroughly combined.  Spread on a baking sheet between two pieces of baking paper and roll out as thinly as possible.  Remove the top piece of baking paper and score into cracker shapes with a large knife before placing in preheated oven.

Bake at 350F/ 180C for 35-45 minutes or until crisp and toasted.  Baking times may vary depending on the thickness of your cracker so keep an eye on them to ensure the perfect toastiness.  Let cool for a few minutes before breaking them up either along the scored lines or freestyle when you forget to score them for baking - like me!  Store the crackers in an airtight container for up to a month.

Monday, 27 April 2015

Sourdough Coastal Cracker Crisps

After living for two years in Vancouver, British Columbia, I came away with a love for Raincoast Crisps made by Lesley Stowe Fine Foods.  They are so delicious and go well with savory dips and spreads like hummous or baba ganoush.  I had never heard of them before until I hit the West Coast of Canada and have never seen them since moving to Australia.

I don't buy commercially prepared crackers anymore.  After some uncomfortable reactions from the seasonings and preservatives in store-bought crackers,  I began to make my own crackers so I know what is in them.  It isn't really a big deal to make your own crackers.  You kind of develop a taste for homemade and I find they fill you up faster.  There are a few versions of Raincoast Crisp recipes on the net and I have adapted this recipe from a compilation of these.

If you don't want to ferment the cracker crisps for easier digestion and a lower GI rating then leave out the sourdough starter and mix to bake immediately.  It think the fermentation process is worth it and it is easy to mix the batter before bed, let it stand overnight, and then bake in the morning.  I mixed mine in the morning and then left the batter to ferment for the day before baking, slicing and then toasting in the evening.

Please give these cracker crisps a try because they are so delicious!

  • 1 cup soy milk
  • 1 1/2 Tbsps. apple cider vinegar
  • 1/4 cup of honey or maple syrup
  • 1/2 cup of sourdough starter
  • 1 cup whole wheat flour
  • 1 tsp. baking soda
  • 1/2 tsp. salt
  • 1/2 cup of dried cranberries or raisins
  • 1/4 cup of pumpkin seeds
  • 1/4 cup of sunflower seeds
  • 1/4 cup of hulled millet
  • 1/4 cup ground flax seed
  • 1 Tbsp. of fresh rosemary, chopped

In a medium sized mixing bowl, gently whisk soy milk and apple cider vinegar to achieve a thickened sour milk.  When mixture has thickened add honey and whisk to combine.  Next whisk in 1/2 cup of sourdough starter and then the whole wheat flour.  Finally add the last of the flour, baking soda, and salt; stir.

The batter is fairly runny at this stage.  Next add your favourite dried fruit -I prefer cranberries but use whatever you like; pumpkin and sunflower seeds; flax seed, hulled millet, and rosemary.  Stir until the ingredients are thoroughly mixed.

Coastal Crisp batter.
Coastal Crisp batter after 8 hours.

Set aside the batter for about 8 hours and then pour into a greased loaf tin and bake at 350F degrees or 180C for 35-40 minutes depending on your oven.  Cool for about 10 minutes and then remove from tin.  Allow the loaf to cool completely; you can expedite this by placing in the fridge.

Batter in a bread tin and left to
raise for an additional hour
After baking.

Once the loaf is cool to cold, cut into thin slices and further toast/ dehydrate on a cookie sheet in a preheated (350F degrees or 180F) and then turned off oven or place in food dehydrator to achieve a crispy cracker.  Store in an airtight container for up to 2 months.  Makes about 45 cracker crisps depending on the shape and size of your loaf pan.

Friday, 24 April 2015

Sourdough English Muffins

Sourdough everything is still on the brain here in my house.  After a couple of loaves of mediocre sourdough bread, I decided to scale back and rethink my sourdough strategy.  So far, I have had amazing sourdough flavour in all things sourdough but the rise and crumb of my loaves and cake have been a little hit and miss.

In a quest to improve my baking endeavors, I decided to buy some organic rye flour to super boost the friendly bacteria in the starter and moved it into permanently into the fridge.  Organic rye flour is reputed to be the best thing for sourdough feeding and the starter responded to the switch up from whole wheat flour to rye in a very positive way.  Because I intended to take a sourdough break, I fed the starter with rye flour but added less water to make it much thicker and borderline paste in an effort to go longer until my next feed.

After about two weeks or a little less in the fridge, I decided to feed my sourdough beast and use the discarded sourdough starter portion in my usual yeast bread recipe.  I followed my normal bread recipe and simply exchanged a half cup portion of flour with a half cup of sourdough starter.  I usually leave my yeast bread dough on the counter to double for two to four hours but surprisingly the dough doubled within an hour.  The sourdough starter seemed to super boost my bread with the end result being an incredibly light and delicious loaf of bread minus the sour flavour - as it didn't have time to develop.

Sticky dough
The key to sourdough is to have a powerfully active sourdough starter and a very wet and sticky dough. Just mix your dough so that all the ingredients are combined but ensure the dough is way too sticky to handle.  The long rising time will deepen the flavour and allow the dough to become more manageable and elastic without kneading.  I only kneaded this dough with a tiny bit of flour for a few seconds before dividing and shaping so it is really easy.  

~ Please take note:  to identify if your sourdough starter is active enough, it should be full of bubbles and have doubled in its container before using.  When you spoon the starter out to use, it should basically deflate. These are good signs that your starter is very active.  The starter should smell very sour but not like nail varnish.  If it does smell strongly of alcohol or of varnish, discard at least half to two thirds and feed with flour and water to form a wet paste and place back in fridge for at least a week while it recovers then evaluate again. ~

The dough after an 8 hour rise.
With my confidence boosted that my sourdough starter, Beastie, was showing signs of being super charged up; I fed him some more rye flour and rested him for a couple of days in the fridge and then pulled him out for an attempt at sourdough English muffins.  My first batch was halved - just in case I failed.  I began by mixing the dough in the morning and covered with plastic wrap and left in a warm spot until suppertime.  By this time, the dough had doubled so I dumped out the very sticky dough, kneaded it a few times with a bit of flour until I could gently handle it.  Finally, I rolled it in a log and sliced into about 10 pieces.  I shaped these up and then let rise on my baking tray until double and after a couple of hours, baked.  These English muffins were so light and so perfectly risen with a gentle sour taste, that I jumped for joy.  Not a speck of yeast was used to achieve greatness and it is this recipe that I share with you today.
The English Muffins after a two - three hour rise after shaping.

Sourdough English Muffins after baking.

I have now completed a few batches of multi-grain sourdough English muffins.  This recipe produces light, tangy and perfect English muffins that are delicious with your favourite topping.

They freeze exceptionally well and I guarantee they won't last long on the counter as they will get gobbled up for breakfast, lunch or snacks.  My kids like them instead of buns for a sandwich and they are awesome toasted too.   Enjoy!

  • 1 cup active sourdough starter
  • 1 cup warm filtered water
  • 1 cup soy milk or any milk of your choosing
  • 2 Tbsps. honey or maple syrup
  • 1/4 cup melted coconut oil or your choice of oil
  • 2 1/2 cups of white baking flour
  • 2 1/2 cups of multi-grain or whole wheat flour
  • 1 tsp. salt

In a medium sized bowl, combine sourdough starter, water, milk, honey and oil;  whisk gently until combined.  Next stir in the white flour.  Then slowly add the last 2 1/2 cups of multi-grain flour and salt ensuring that the dough is very wet and sticky.  Hold back on the last 1/4 cup of flour if it is starting to feel like it is getting too dry.  Whole wheat flour tends to absorb a bit more liquid so so be prepared to adjust the flour by a small amount if it is a bit dryer than you want.  Sourdough dough likes to be very sticky.

Now, cover the bowl with plastic wrap and leave it in a sheltered spot on the counter and let it rise until double for about 8 hours.

Once dough has doubled, punch down and scrape the dough out of the bowl onto a floured counter.  With a sprinkle of flour, knead a few times until dough is a bit more manageable.  This dough should still be very wobbly but more elastic.  Flour and roll out to about 1/2 inch thick and cut out in circles about 3 inches in diameter.  Place on a cookie sheet lined with baking paper to set aside for a second rise until double.  This may take up to three hours.  When ready, bake at 400 degrees Fahrenheit or 200 degrees Celsius for ten minutes.  Makes 20-24 English muffins.

I mixed in the morning, punched down dough at supper time and shaped for second rise to bake at about mid-evening which produced a very mild sourdough flavour.

Monday, 13 April 2015

Cilantro Tomato Chutney

While our family strives to keep our sugar consumption on the low side, we do enjoy things that are sweet  - in moderation.  With tomatoes being competitively priced right now in WA, I decided to venture into sweet chutney-making for a small amount to dose on my burgers or to enjoy with my Shepherd's Pie.  Chutney is great as a condiment on burgers; with ham or turkey; spread on an egg'n bacon rolls; or even served with your favourite Indian take-away.

My chutney project started in the morning as the recipe requires a bit of time for the onions and tomatoes to release a bit of liquid.  Then as I had a number of other kitchen chores to do, I just set my bowl aside and came back to it after lunch.  It is school holidays this week so the kids and I were laying low and I was getting some extra cooking done as the pantry was empty of just about everything.

I don't really have the room for large batches of condiments so this amount is just right for our fridge and won't last long enough to worry about it going off.  Give this chutney a try as I am sure it won't disappoint.

  • 1 kilogram of tomatoes, medium dice
  • 3 medium sized onions, small dice or finely sliced
  • 3 Bird's-eye chilli peppers, finely chopped
  • 3 garlic cloves, finely chopped
  • 1 1/2 cups of natural cane sugar
  • 1 tsp. Madras curry powder
  • 1 1/2 tsps. mustard powder
  • 1 1/3 cups of apple cider vinegar
  • 1/4 cup cilantro, chopped
  • 1 Tbsp. natural sea salt

Chop tomatoes and onions and toss with sea salt in a medium-sized bowl.  Set the mixture aside for a few hours or overnight in fridge to allow the tomatoes and onions to release a bit of liquid.

Drain the salty liquid from the mixture; add the chilli, garlic, sugar, and spices to the tomatoes and onions in a medium-sized pot. Cook gently on medium heat for about 8 minutes and then add the apple cider vinegar.  Stir to combine.  You can now leave you chutney chunky or blend about 1/3 of the mixture and leave the rest chunky.  I used a stick blender directly in the pot and blender for a few seconds to get the texture I wanted.

Now bring the mixture to a gentle simmer and reduce until about 1/3 of the original amount or to a desired thickness.  Be careful not to let your chutney burn as it is sweet and it is thickening so as it is reduced it might have a tendency to stick to the pot.  Stir often! Just before removing thickened mixture from heat, add chopped cilantro and stir well.

Ladle into hot sterilized jars.  Hot water can the chutney for long term storage or store in fridge.  This recipe makes about 4 cups.  It should keep for a month or two in the fridge if the jars are properly sterilized.  The chutney will thicken a bit more in the fridge.