Saturday, 15 September 2012

Kale Chips- organic, raw, vegan


Organic raw kale chips made with homegrownTuscan black kale and ragged Jack

Kale is a super-healthy food: it lowers chloresterol, protects against many types of cancer,  is anti-inflammatory and is full of antioxidants. It is packed with vitamins and minerals, including signficant amounts of iron, calcium and magnesium... but I do find its texture and strong flavour defeats me, much as I'd love to munch on a plate of steamed kale. Now I can eat up all my greens, thanks to my husband's efforts with the dehydrator! Kale chips are thin and crispy and these have a subtle salty, savoury flavour. I love them! They add colour and texture to any meal and are way better than potato chips (crisps).
To make them, wash, chop and dehydrate at 155F (one of the highest settings) until crispy. My husband added a mixture of water, salt, maple syrup and oil about half way through.

Friday, 14 September 2012

Yeast-Free Pizza- vegan

Yeast-free vegan pizza, topped with grilled tofu and fresh basil

You can see the soda bread crust in this picture, and the fresh tomato sauce flecked with tasty nutritional yeast
Isn't it great when you go into your kitchen intending to make one thing, then the mood takes you and you end up creating something else completely different? That's just what happened to me yesterday when I got home from work. I'd already decided to make some tofu (the quick way, with bought soya milk- it will be next month's "How-To") but instead of baking it in a sauce and serving it with brown rice and salad, I got the idea to make a vegan pizza. Since by then I was short of time I thought this would be the ideal opportunity to try out a pizza base using my husband's soda bread recipe. He was really pleased, as yeasted bread does not agree with him but he likes pizza. I'm fine with yeasted bread (although I don't generally bother with it) but I still found this pizza base much lighter on the stomach. Making it all from scratch was really a labour of love, but so worth it; using fresh organic tomatoes and vegetables from our allotment and organic wholemeal flour really seems to improve the flavour and the vibe of it in general. I served up the pizza with homegrown salad and homegrown potato wedges. This recipe makes 4-6 slices, depending on the portion size. The original soda bread recipe has been altered to include a little more olive oil. 

If you are making the tofu yourself, then do that first, then while it is being pressed you can get the tomato sauce reducing and the base pre-baked.
Sauce:
1kg fresh tomatoes
3 bay leaves
1 tsp seasalt
1/2 tsp compound hing
  • Halve or quarter the tomatoes according to size.
  • Whizz them in a blender or food processor until liquid. (No need to de-seed or skin if you break them down like this.)
  • Pour into a sturdy saucepan and add the salt, bay leaves and compound hing.
  • Bring to the boil and reduce to a really thick puree-like sauce, stirring from time to time. (This took me around an hour- don't be tempted to take shortcuts as a runny sauce will just make the base go soggy...)
  • Meanwhile, make the base:
Base:
400ml (measure in a cup) organic wholemeal plain flour
200ml white flour
5 tsps baking powder 
1/2 tsp seasalt
50ml olive oil
about 150-200ml water, to mix
  • In a large bowl, rub the oil into all the other ingredients.
  • Mix in enough water to give you a soft but not too sticky dough.
  • Place on an oiled baking tray and roll to a thickness of just under 1cm using a floured rolling pin.
  • Bake for 10-15 mins in an oven preheated to 180C, until just starting to turn golden on top. (Do not overcook; in fact, a thinner crust doesn't need pre-cooking at all.)
Topping:
200g firm tofu, sliced and grilled in a little oil and soy sauce
sliced veggies such as courgettes, peppers, artichoke hearts, olives etc.
1-1/2 tabs yeast flakes (for scattering on the sauce)
Coarse-ground black pepper and dried oregano to taste
Fresh basil sprigs for the garnish
  • Spread the tomato sauce onto the base and sprinkle the yeast flakes over it.
  • Pile on the veggies; be sure to slice them thinly so that they cook through.
  • Add the tofu slices and olives, if using.
  • Sprinkle with black pepper and oregano.
  • Bake at 180-200C for about 15 minutes, or until the veggies are cooked. (Don't let the tofu get too dry and curly at the edges...)
  • Garnish with sprigs of fresh basil before serving.
For some more ideas for pizza toppings from this blog, look here , here and here.

Wednesday, 12 September 2012

Unusual banana flavoured soda....

"Zelita", banana- flavoured fizzy drink from Greece

On the last night of our holiday on Crete, we returned the quad bike we had hired and then walked back to our hotel via the village shop. I had noticed this odd-looking locally-made drink several times before, and decided to take the last opportunity to try it as I was intrigued by the idea of a banana fizzy drink.... I couldn't actually finish it all, it's so sweet; so I shared it with my husband. Although it tasted of chemical flavourings and evidently had no trace of real fruit in it, I have to say that after the first couple of sips it was actually quite palatable! Not a product I would recommend though, as there is absolutely nothing health-giving in it at all, but maybe it will be the inspiration for something like a more natural banana soda I could make at home??

Monday, 10 September 2012

How-to 4: Make lower fat roasted vegetables

Delicious roast veg... yummy!

After doing some calculations about our diet, me and my husband realised that if we were getting enough good oils in our diet from foods such as avocado, nuts and seeds (which we have been working on) then the quantity of oil we cook with must be an absolute minimum so as not to amount to too much fat and/ or calories. Deep frying and even shallow frying is now totally out, and roasting has to be done with as little oil as we can manage. Not wishing to waste money on spray oils, which are not usually, in my experience, very good quality oil and also relatively expensive, we decided simply to use a pastry brush to control the amount of oil used.  Another tip is top roast quite watery veg such as courgettes or peppers, as the juices will help to roast them. Add some whole tomatoes and a sprig of fresh rosemary or thyme and you have a truly gourmet experience! I reckon that by roasting veg like this, I have halved the amount of oil I used to add to roast veggies, so if you're interested in doing the same, read on:

1: Chop your veg (I used courgettes here) a little bigger than usual- this gives a smaller surface area to volume and decreases the proportion of the veg you brush with oil.

2: Using just about a tab of good oil that has a high smoke point, use a pastry brush to take up some of the oil.


3: Brush a thin layer of oil over your roasting tin (a non-stick one means you can use even less oil).

4: Brush a fine layer of oil over the veggies in the tin.

5: Roast at about 200C in the middle of the oven.

6: You will need to turn the veg halfway through cooking.

7: And after 20 minutes or so, there you have it! Yummy roast veg with less fat. Try not to over- brown the veg either, as it's bad for your health (carcinogens increase).

PS: That wonderful source of food facts, www.livestrong.com, has a great article about not using any oil at all when roasting.