Tips Tuesday – Baking with Quinoa Flour

I recently picked up a packet of quinoa flour at the health food shop – keen to try something a bit different in my baking.  After I’d bought the flour, but before I’d baked with it, someone told me that they had given up on quinoa flour for baking as the grassy flavour just didn’t taste right in baking.

I was a bit miffed and so I started googling, which led me to this brilliant tip from Cake and Commerce.  Cake and Commerce recommended pre-baking the quinoa flour on baking trays (no more than 1/4 inch deep) in an oven at about 100°C for 2 hours before letting it cool and repackaging it for future use.  This tip really did seem to mellow the grassy flavour quite a bit.

I don’t know if this heating process has any effect on the nutritional value.  But, from the sound of things, quinoa is so healthy that it could probably stand to lose a bit of goodness and still be a better choice than regular flour.  There is no science in that statement – it’s more of a ‘vibe’ based judgement.

Don’t be put off thinking it’s an extra hassle.  I bunged the quinoa flour in the oven whilst making a stove top dinner one night and pulled it out to cool after we’d finished eating.  By bed time, all I had to do was scoop it into a zip locked bag and *presto* it was ready to go for my next baking adventure.

You could make my Gluten-Free and Sugar-Free Chocolate Cupcakes (trust me, far yummier than the name suggests), or start playing around with substitutions in your own recipes.  But a word of caution, quinoa flour has a different make up to wheat flours (different gluten levels, etc), so the results in texture can vary a lot.  All the better to experiment with!

Happy Tuesday!

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Tips Tuesday – How to get the most out of your citrus

For today’s Tips Tuesday I have a little known tip for how to get the most juice you can out of citrus fruit.  Take your citrus fruit, such as this luscious lemon here, and use the heel of your hand to roll it firmly up and down your bench a few times.  Bruising your fruit like this lets all the little capsules of juice burst.  You’ll feel the fruit give a bit.  This makes juicing far easier.

You may be wondering why I haven’t been posting very many recipes lately.  Well, I’ve spend the last 9 days on a wheat-free, dairy-free and …. wait for it… sugar-free diet.  I’ve set myself a 4 week challenge, so that I can give my body a bit of the pamper it deserves.

You’ll know quite well that I’m all about eating food for the soul.  Sometimes I even eat food for the mind.  But, now, I’m very overdue for some time eating food for the body.

These last 9 days have gone by in a jiffy.  However, I must admit I was unduly grumpy last week.  Finally my system seems to be getting use to not having sugar now, which is a big relief.

A friend of mine affectionately calls the food on this diet ‘freak food’.  I have to somewhat agree.  I promise not to post anything too crazy in the remaining 19 days of my diet.  But, I do have some recipes up my sleeve that I’ll be posting in the coming days.

The 4 weeks of diet conclude the day before my birthday, which is a real stroke of luck.  I look forward to sharing with you the spoils of my birthday feast when it comes around.

But until then I’m on a mission to find food which is healthy and makes me say…. but it tasted good!

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Tips Tuesday – Screaming from the bath tub

Hubby and I took a lovely trip last weekend to a small town called Berry, on the NSW south coast.  When we arrived on Friday afternoon, I thought some pampering was in order to make myself relaxed and beautiful before our romantic dinner for two at the silos estate – the magnificent boutique winery where we were staying.

Apologies – I would have reviewed their beautiful restaurant here, but I was too busy enjoying hubby’s company and the food (plus I forgot to take my camera or phone to the restaurant with me – whoopsies).

So, in preparation I drew myself a lovely bath, lit some candles, poured myself a glass of sparkling and settled in to read the Jamie magazine I had picked up earlier that day.

I don’t usually get the chance to read the Jamie magazine.  Stocking of the magazine here in Canberra is a bit spotty.  But, when ever I see it and I have a little bit of spare time coming up (such as a flight, or a trip away), I buy it.  It had been good fortune that I’d seen a copy to pick up that day.

The Jamie Magazine always seems to be a bit behind here in Australia, so it was the Easter issue.  But that didn’t trouble me.  Especially seeing as the issue was devoted to one of my favourite things – baking!

Eventually I turned a page and landed on the Tweet @ Jamie section, which I always enjoy.

So I’m reading away, sparkling in hand, contemplating @cakeandpiesblog’s question regarding salted and unsalted butter in baking.  Personally, I often just use salted butter because it’s always in the fridge.  Normally it’s not a problem, as I would normally add a pinch or two of salt to a sweet to bring out the flavours anyway.  But I did once find it a bit full on in a chocolate ganache tart I had made.  I now try to keep some unsalted butter in the fridge as well, in case of emergency chocolate ganache tart making situations.  Good question @cakeandpiesblog, I thought.

I kept reading until I got to this question: “What’s your best tip for keeping dishes down?  I love cooking more than hubby liked cleaning!”.  I couldn’t agree with this question more, I thought excitedly.  Then… it happened.  I saw my name in the Jamie Oliver magazine!!

I had entirely forgotten that I had tweeted this exact question to #askJamieO on 28 January.  I screamed…  Hubby could get into the bathroom quick enough to rescue me.

Perhaps I did get a bit over excited about this whole experience.  But, really, it was one of the most exciting things that could have happened at that particular, fabulous moment.

All told, I thought that this was a perfect opportunity to hand this Tips Tuesday to Jamie Oliver to answer.  How does he keep dishes down? With tray bakes (yum!) and by steaming veg over stews (genius! I would never have thought of that one).

I can attest to Jamie Oliver’s 30 Minute Meal’s Chicken Tray Bake being amazing and now vow to try and incorporate more tray bakes into my repertoire.

I must say, we do actually have a dishwasher.  But unfortunately our dishes are not in the habit of growing legs, rinsing themselves and waltzing on into the dishwasher.  So, I’m always striving to use as few dishes as possible.

What’s your best dish saving tip?  I’ve you’ve got a good one, please share a comment below.

Happy Tuesday!

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Tips Tuesday – Floral freshness

There is nothing more cheerful than a vase of freshly cut flowers on the kitchen table.

To keep them shinning their longest, add a teaspoon or two each of sugar and vinegar to your water.  The sugar provides food for the flowers, while the vinegar is anti-bacterial.

Be sure to cut a couple of cms from the stems as well, to freshen them up.  I like to do this on an angle, but that may not have any special effect.

You’ll still need to change the water (with freshly added sugar and vinegar) every few days, but your flowers should come up smelling like daisies, so to speak.

New recipes to come soon….

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Tips Tuesday – Red Cabbage by request

Happy Tuesday!

I’ve had a request for a braised red cabbage recipe, or Rotkohl (as it is called in German).  So today’s Tips Tuesday is devoted to making the best of red cabbage.

Braised red cabbage is a heart warming side dish.  It’s perfect with pork or sausages, especially when served alongside mashed potatoes and gravy.  It’s sticky and sweet and sour and absolutely delicious.  The bad news is, it doesn’t leave your kitchen smelling great whilst it’s cooking.  But the good news is that if you make a big pot of red cabbage, you can freeze it in dinner serve sized portions and heat it up anytime to make a mid-week pork chop something really spesh.  I fill zip lock bags with the cooled cooked cabbage and freeze them stacked in a container so they don’t take up much room.  Then, I’ll defrost one bag at a time in the fridge over night (if I think of it), or else I cut the giant red cabbage iced cube out of the bag and defrost it in the microwave before heating it up.

I’ve tried to make this recipe scaleable to accommodate those wanting to freeze left overs.  The red cabbage will cook down to about a half its original size, but you’ll need a big pot to fit it all in at the beginning.

I know it sounds like a lot of ingredients for a side dish… but it tastes good!

1 half red cabbage, or a whole red cabbage if your keen to freeze a bit, shredded
1-2 granny smith apples, or other good cooking apples, cored and diced
3-6 rashers of bacon, sliced or diced
1-2 red onions, thinly sliced
1/2-1 cup apple cider vinegar (or a wine vinegar or verjuice)
1 cup red wine
3-4 tablespoons brown sugar
1/2-1 cup water or chicken stock (if required, if the pot after 1 hour looks too dry)
a glug of olive oil
3 cloves
1 bay leaf
1 stick cinnamon
1 teaspoon ground allspice
2-4 juniper berries
1-2 teaspoon freshly ground nutmeg
zest of 1/2-1 orange
juice of 1/2-1 orange
salt and pepper to taste

Fry your onion and bacon in olive oil on a medium heat in a saucepan until the onions are soft and coloured.  Add the cabbage, using tongs to distribute the onions and bacon a bit evenly with the cabbage.  On top of the cabbage add the apples, sugar, cloves, bay leaf, cinnamon, allspice, nutmeg, juniper berries, salt, pepper and orange zest.  Pour the orange juice, wine, and vinegar on top of this.  Put a lid on your pot and let it bubble away for about 10-15 minutes (until the cabbage starts to soften).  Then stir the cabbage so that it gets an even coating of liquid and leave the lid ajar.  Turn down to a low heat, so it doesn’t catch on the bottom and let this bubble away for as long as you can – at least 1 hour, but it’s better left on low for up to 3 hours, whilst stirring every now and again.  I imagine this would be great to make in a slow cooker or a pressure cooker (but, alas, I don’t have either of those as my disposal).

You may think that it doesn’t look like enough liquid for that much cabbage.  Keep an eye on it in case it gets a bit dry and needs a little water or stock top up.  But it should be right.  The cabbage will release all of its liquid and it will become very soft and should be a little bit wet (but not swimming, by any stretch).

Thanks for the request P.  Sorry there aren’t any photos of the steps or finished product, but my freezer is currently well stocked with Rotkohl, so I couldn’t justify making another batch!  I I hope this recipe serves you well.

That’s all for this Tuesday.   Happy cooking.  And if you have any requests, let me know!   I do love a good challenge.

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