Roasted baby carrots with cumin for Easter

Upon smelling a new perfume I was given for my birthday, Kid 1 made the following comment.

Kid 1: It smells like melted Easter eggs.

I am not sure whether to be displeased or not. I envisage myself swanning around attracting small chocolate-loving children and perhaps even the E.B. (Easter Bunny) himself. Not sure if that’s what the perfumier was aiming for when creating this parfum. ‘Eau de Chocolate Easter Egg.’ Give it a whirl, it’s all the rage in the Easter circles.

If you are looking for side dishes to accompany your Easter feast this coming weekend, please consider this wee recipe idea. Calling anything ‘baby’ that you are about to devour and consume has always creeped me out a bit. However, there is no escaping the fact that young veggies are usually the most tender and sweet. Let alone, super cute. Just like a real life human baby! Rest assured, only vegetable babies were harmed in the making of this dish. (That’s OK, right? Told you the whole thing is just, well, odd.)

These carrots were sweet with lovely undertones of the earthy cumin. Tender and juicy, I am positive that all, including the Easter Bunny, will love them.

ROASTED BABY CARROTS WITH CUMIN

WHAT YOU NEED
1 bunch baby carrots
1 tsp ground cumin
1 tbl butter, unsalted
Salt
Pepper
2 tbl white wine

WHAT YOU DO
Preheat oven to 180C.
Scrub or lightly peel the carrots.
Place in a foil package, add the cumin, salt and pepper to taste. Dob the butter over the carrots, add the wine and close the foil package.
Roast in the oven for 30 minutes or until tender.
Try it with https://cheergerm.com/2015/03/08/a-cheergerm-gluten-free-roasted-vegetable-lasagna/ or https://cheergerm.com/2015/01/02/millefeuilles-aux-tomates-et-lentilles-and-a-lady-crush/ or https://cheergerm.com/2014/11/09/a-side-of-herb-polenta-bake-and-an-aside/

A Cheergerm Creation

Advertisements

Gluten free lime yoghurt cake and awash in tears

Our house was awash in tears on the morning I made this cake. Our mostly calm before school routine was offset by self-disappointment, childlike hurt and a more grown-up, deeper sadness.

All surfaces seemed awash with liquid. Bench tops, faces, cupboards and eyes reflected a watery glow. We were in fear of drowning. Even in the car, tears continued to flow and school drop off was a sombre and quiet occasion.

Upon returning home, I was relieved to see our house had not been swept into the valley and that Noah and his Ark were not loading our dogger friend, cockatoos and other assorted wildlife on board.

From the fruit basket these gem like, green, freely given, home grown organic limes greeted me. They went a little way to soothing my aching head and worn out from weeping eyes. They spoke to me in limey voices (‘hello guv’nor!’) of a sweet something, that would greet my citrus loving progeny upon their return from school.

There is nothing like the smell of lime to put some pep in your step and allow a breath to be taken. This lovely cake is tangy from the citrus and Greek yoghurt with an extra fruity hit from the olive oil. The first recipe trial was fine, the second tweaked version you find here, is damned fine. And not a salty tear in sight.

Note to self, never leave a cake and the camera alone with The Yak, not even for a moment.

GLUTEN FREE LIME, YOGHURT AND OLIVE OIL CAKE

WHAT YOU NEED
1 cup full fat Greek yoghurt
2 eggs
1/3 cup olive oil
1/4 cup lime juice (this is roughly the juice of one lime)
Zest of one lime
1/4 tsp vanilla bean paste, vanilla bean powder or 1/2 tsp vanilla essence
210g gluten free flour (1 cup/140g gf plain flour, 1/4 cup/40g almond meal, 1/4 cup/40g brown rice flour)
3/4 cup raw caster sugar (or white caster sugar)
1/2 tsp salt
2 tsps baking powder

Topping
1 tbl brown sugar (I used raw caster sugar)
1 tbl extra lime zest (I used the zest of one lime)

HOW YOU DO IT
Preheat oven to 180C and grease and line a 22cm springform tin with baking paper.
Mix all the wet ingredients including the lime zest in one bowl until well combined. (If using vanilla essence or paste add it here.)
Sift all the dry ingredients into a large bowl. (If using vanilla powder, add here.)
Pour the combined wet ingredients into the dry ingredients bowl and using a wooden spoon, mix until just combined.
Pour into the prepared baking tin and cook for approx 40-45 minutes. The cake is ready when it has browned on top and a skewer inserted into the centre comes out clean.
Cool in the tin for ten minutes, then turn out and cool on a wire rack.
When the cake is completely cool sprinkle with the topping mixture. This is delicious served with a big dollop of yoghurt on the side.
Feel free to use lemons if you can’t find limes.

A Cheergerm adaptation of a recipe from the blog Souvlaki for the Soul which was in turn adapted from a Smitten Kitchen recipe.

http://souvlakiforthesoul.com/2011/05/lime-yoghurt-and-olive-oil-cake


Parenting and cauliflower curry

Ten years later, I do not have this parenting thing down pat.

Kid 1: Mum, I am scared that an axe murderer is going to kill me.
Me: That is highly unlikely darling. Good night.
5 minutes later
Kid 1: Mum, can you come here please?
Me: Yes?
Kid 1: You telling me that ‘it’s highly unlikely’ does NOT make me feel better.
Me: Oh, all right then, it will never happen, how’s that?
Kid 1: OK, now I feel better.

Thanks for the parenting tip Kid 1.

Kid 1 will probably never eat this curry, he hates anything spicy. We don’t care, more for us. This curry benefits from a hit of bright, pungent mustard seeds; I love the little buggers. After a spot of googlebumbling research I discovered these wee dudes are high in a variety of B vitamins, minerals, anti-oxidants and phytyo-nutrients. (Phyto what?) Phyto-nutrients are intrinsically natural chemicals found in plant matter that may help prevent disease and keep your body working properly. Mustard seeds and their oils have traditionally been used to relieve muscle pain, arthritis and rheumatism pain.

Whatever a mustard seeds health benefit, this curry has good depth of flavour along with a punch of heat from the chilli. Add more chilli if you like but we enjoy the balance of flavours. If you aren’t a chilli fan, reduce the amount back to 1/4 of a teaspoon or you could leave it out. (No judgement from this Cheergerm….really, you don’t like chilli? What’s wrong with you??)

CAULIFLOWER CURRY

WHAT YOU NEED
2 tbl oil , rice bran or grapeseed oil
1 onion, finely chopped
A 3cm piece of peeled and grated fresh ginger
2 cloves crushed or grated garlic
1 tsp brown mustard seeds
1 tsp ground cumin
1 tsp ground coriander
1 tsp ground turmeric
1/2 tsp ground paprika
1/2 tsp chilli powder (the hot stuff)
1 tsp salt
Dry curry leaves about 10 (I only had 4)
1 cauliflower head, cored and cut into small florets , about 2-3 cm large
1/2 cup water to start with, you will need more
1 handful fresh chopped coriander

HOW YOU DO IT
Sauté onion in oil in a large frypan over medium heat for about 3-5 minutes until soft.
Add the ginger and garlic, cook for 1 minute.
Add all the spices, salt, curry leaves and cook for 2 minutes to release their flavour, stirring gently.
Add the cauliflower, stir well to coat the cauliflower in the spices.
Add 1/2 cup water and simmer on a low to medium heat for about about 50 minutes. If the curry starts to get dry, add a bit more water. I added just over a cup throughout the entire cooking process. By the end, the curry should be mostly dry with a small bit of liquid but soft and beginning to fall apart.
Take the curry off the heat, taste and see if it needs extra salt then stir through the chopped coriander.
Serve with rice, quinoa or whatever takes your fancy. We had it with brown basmati rice.

A Cheergerm creation


A Cheergerm gluten free roasted vegetable lasagna

There is a raging battle of supremacy in our family for the grand title of ‘Queen of the Veggie Lasagna.’ It’s not as if we have any other ruling status to aspire to, unless of course it was The Precious Princess of Dunny Cleaning or The Lady of the Laundry. Perhaps we should aspire to the title of The Duchess of Finding Lost Shoes and Spare Socks?

Battles aside, all of our vegetable lasagna versions have a different twist and they are all scrumptious. A lasagna is such a practical ‘big gathering’ dish as you are able to prepare it the day before you need it. Come the day of the party, you can smugly swan around the house preening and cleaning. Safe in the knowledge that the lasagna resides in stately grace, awaiting to be baked. In this case, we were enjoying a joint birthday celebration for Kid 2’s eighth birthday, as well as my birthday. (Thanks, turning 21 was tonnes of fun.) As such, I had prepared my Cheergerm veggie lasagna the day before.

It ain’t traditional Italian, more a mixed breed of an old school lasagna and a hippy vegetarian version. I know that the grated apple and carrot in the tomato sauce is based on a vague memory I have of a Julie Stafford recipe from the healthy eating cookbook, The Taste of Life. This was a 1980’s cookbook that was well used by Mum back in ‘the day’. This lasagna is unctuous and hearty. The use of the ricotta in the white sauce gives it a lighter taste. Yes, it does contain a shedload of veggies and whilst it looks overwhelming, it really isn’t as much work is it at first appears. ( Ah, who I am kidding but it’s worth it!) There are a lot of photos in the post, I took the ‘step-by-step’ approach quite figuratively. Go figure.

CHEERGERM GLUTEN FREE ROASTED VEGETARIAN LASAGNA

WHAT YOU NEED
Roasted vegetables
2 medium eggplants
1 large sweet potato
4 medium zucchini
1 red pepper
1 head garlic
Tomato sauce
1 onion, diced
400 g mushrooms, diced
700g bottle sugo (or passata, which is basically a tomatoey sauce)
1 tin chopped tomatoes
1 large carrot, grated
1 green apple, grated
Fresh basil, a big handful, torn
Ricotta sauce
2 tbl Butter
2 tbl gluten free plain flour
1 1/2 cups milk
400g Ricotta
Other
1 box 200g gluten free instant lasagna sheets
Grated mozzarella (2 cups, 200g)
40g Parmesan, grated
Lots of Olive oil
Salt and pepper

HOW YOU DO IT

Roast Vegetables
Preheat the oven to 200C (180 fan forced).
Cut the eggplants (I peel mine), sweet potato (peeled) and zucchini into one cm thicknesses. Place on trays lined with baking paper, oil both sides of the vegetables and season with salt and pepper lightly.
Place halved red pepper and head of garlic onto a tray and drizzle with olive oil.
Put the trays into the oven, turn the veggies over after 15 minutes, cook for another 10 minutes until the veggies are tender. You may have to leave the head of garlic in for another five minutes.
Allow the vegetables to cool.
Once the capsicum has cooled down, peel and cut into thin strips.
Take the head of roasted garlic, peel and squash up the peeled cloves. (This is to add to the red sauce.)

The tomato sauce
Sauté onion in 2 tbl olive oil over medium heat until they start to soften, add the mushrooms and fry them until most of the moisture is evaporated.
Add the sugo, tin of tomatoes, grated apple and carrot. Season with 1 tsp salt and some generous grinds of black pepper.
Cook for about 45 minutes until the mixture has thickened and reduced. Check again for salt, it may need more.
Take off the heat, add the torn basil and squashed up roasted garlic, stir gently.

Ricotta Sauce
Melt the butter in a medium size saucepan over a low to medium heat.
Add the flour and cook for 3 -4 minutes until the mixture (roux) starts to bubble.
Take off the heat and whisk in the cold milk. (This method of adding cold liquid to a hot roux helps to reduce the risk of a lumpy sauce.)
Put the sauce back on the heat and stir constantly with a wooden spoon until the mixture starts to thicken. Cook the white sauce for a few minutes, continuing to stir constantly.
Add the ricotta cheese, pepper and taste for salt before adding any.
Take off the heat.

Assembling the lasagna
Oil your lasagna dish. I use a Pyrex, 3 litre dish.
Place approximately five big spoons (a serving spoon size) of sauce on the bottom of the dish.
Place 4 lasagna sheets on top and spoon on more tomato sauce, about 4 spoonfuls.
Put all the eggplant in a single layer, place the red pepper strips on top then layer on half of the ricotta sauce. Smooth it out.
Place 4 more lasagna sheets on top of the ricotta sauce, you will probably need to snap one sheet in half to add as well. (Press down gently.)
Place another layer of tomato sauce, around 4 spoonfuls.
Add the sweet potato and zucchini. (It’s looking full by this point.)
Place a few more spoons of tomato sauce and spread it out. (I usually have some left, which I freeze.)
Spread the remaining ricotta sauce on top, then sprinkle with the combined mozarella and grated Parmesan.
At this point you can place the lasagna in the fridge and cook later that day or the next. (When doing this, make sure you bring the uncooked lasagna out of the fridge for an hour before cooking, so it isn’t stone cold going into the oven.) If you are eating straight away, place in a 180C oven for approximately 45 min to one hour until golden brown and bubbling.
Let stand for 20 minutes before serving. This helps the lasagna to re-solidify a bit and will be easier to portion and serve.
Now you can lie down and rest for a day or two.
It really is worth the effort.
Truly.
Serving Notes: Serves 12. Best served with a simple green salad and crusty bread of some kind.

A Cheergerm creation.

http://www.juliestafford.com.au/about-julie.php


Roasted sumac asparagus and rap

Macklemore, aka Ben Haggerty, is part of a rap duo called Macklemore and Ryan Lewis. These modern day musical poets produced an album the lads and I love, named The Heist. Imagine tuneful rap with a social conscience. Naturally, half of the album is full of ‘swear’ words, hence, the boys do NOT listen to those songs.

Kid 2 was recently singing this song he made up. I wrote it down verbatim.

Macklemore swears a lot
In his songs
But he’s an awesome singer and rapper
I never heard him say a rude word
But I know that he does
He sings them quietly
It is the ‘S’ word
But I wouldn’t know it if I heard it
My maniac mum loves Macklemore even if he swears a lot
Which is weird cause she doesn’t like swearing
Even though she says the ‘S’ word

Just to be clear.

I never did.

Well, I may have but I am NOT a maniac.

This is more of an idea than a recipe, albeit a delicious idea. The lemony sumac was the bomb when paired with the sweet roasted asparagus.

If only McDonalds sold these little darlings in french fry boxes. ‘Will you have asparagus with that?’

ROASTED SUMAC ASPARAGUS

WHAT YOU NEED
2 or 3 bunches asparagus
Olive oil to drizzle
1 tsp sumac
Salt and pepper

HOW YOU DO IT
Preheat oven to 180C and line a baking tray with baking paper.
Wash and trim the asparagus, place on the tray.
Drizzle the asparagus in olive oil, add the sumac and season with salt and pepper to your taste. Mix well to ensure the asparagus is well coated in the seasoning.
Cook the asparagus for ten to 15 minutes until tender.
Remove from oven and et voila! As easy as that. A great accompaniment to a vast array of whatever takes your fancy. That evening we ate it with roasted carrots and pork fillet steaks that had been marinated in mustard seeds, honey, oil and vinegar.

A Cheergerm creation