Category Archives: Gluten Free

Puy Lentil, Pork & Fennel Sausage Stew with Juniper Berries

Last winter I visited some friends who live in country Victoria and they made this delicious stew for me – a simmered sausage and lentil dish with juniper berries. I never got the recipe from them, but I came up with my own and I’ve been making this ever since. This is an incredibly tasty dish – the flavours are intense and piquant, and the combination of sausages and lentils is one I find irresistable.

It’s really important to get good quality sausages for this. You don’t have to use pork and fennel, but I’ve made it with other types of sausages and I can tell you it won’t be quite as good. Whatever type you choose, just make it is the best quality you can find.

Don’t be tempted to cut corners by using tinned lentils, or substituting the Puy lentils for red or green ones – you won’t get the same result unless you use the little black dried lentils that hold their shape when cooked.

Serves 5-6

  • 500 g good quality pork & fennel sausages (from a continental butcher, if you have one near you)
  • 2 cups Puy (French) lentils
  • 2 x 400g tins chopped tomatoes
  • 1 tablespoon tomato paste
  • 1 large onion
  • 1 garlic clove
  • 3 celery stalks
  • 2 carrots
  • 1 tablespoon fresh chopped rosemary
  • 2 tablespoons sherry vinegar (use malt vinegar if you can’t get sherry vinegar)
  • 1/2 cup red wine
  • 1/2 teaspoon chilli flakes
  • 1 tablespoon juniper berries, crushed a bit to release their flavour
  • 2 bay leaves
  • salt and pepper
  • water

Wash the lentils in cold water, place in a large pot of cold water and bring to the boil. Simmer for ten minutes, strain and set aside.

While the lentils are simmering, slice the sausages into approx 10cm pieces and set aside. Chop the onion and saute with olive oil in a large heavy based saucepan or casserole dish for about 5 minutes. Dice the celery and carrot, and add to the onions with the garlic clove, finely chopped and the rosemary. Cook for a few minutes until the vegetables are just softening.

Add the sausages cook, turning, for approx 5 minutes until the sausages are just browning on all sides. Add the vinegar and cook until it’s slightly evaporated – just half a minute or so –  then add the red wine and do the same. Add the tomatoes, tomato paste, lentils, chilli, juniper berries, and bay leaves. Swish the water around in the tomato cans and add. Season with salt and pepper.

Simmer the stew on a low heat for approx 45 minutes – checking frequently to ensure it’s not catching on the bottom, and to add more water if required.

I like to serve this with big hunks of sourdough bread and steamed silverbeet chopped and tossed in lemon juice and olive oil. And a glass of red wine, of course 🙂

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Coconut Dahl With Spinach

This is a super easy dahl that everyone will love. I’ve adapted it from a much loved Indian cookbook. It’s healthy and tasty, and makes a lovely meal on its own with rice and accompaniments, as a side to meat or fish, or as part of a curry banquet.

Most of the dahl ingredients all go into the pot at the same time to simmer. The dish is then tempered at the end with a spicy onion mix.

  • 2 cups red lentils
  • 250 ml coconut milk
  • 1 x 400 g tin chopped tomatoes
  • 1 teaspoon tumeric
  • 1 teaspoon cumin
  • 1/2 teaspoon garam masala
  • 2 green chillis sliced, or chilli powder or flakes to taste
  • 1/2 cup water
  • 1 garlic clove, finely chopped
  • 1/2 teaspoon mustard seeds
  • 1/2 teaspoon cummin seeds
  • about 2 cups or handfuls of english spinach leaves

Wash and rinse the lentils and place in a heavy based saucepan with the tomatoes, coconut milk, half the onion, the cumin powder, turmeric, garam masala, chilli and water. Stir and heat, then let simmer for about 20 minutes, stirring as you go, and adding more water if necessary.

While it’s cooking, sautĂ© the remaining onion in some oil until soft and golden. Add the garlic, cumin and mustard seeds and stir for a minute. Add to the lentil mix after 20 minutes, then simmer for another 10 minutes. Stir the washed spinach leaves through at the end and serve with rice and your favourite accompaniments, such as raita, mango or lime chutney, or banana tossed in coconut.

Tip: If you want to speed this up for a fast mid-week meal, keep a jar of caramelised onions, or caramelised onion relish, in the fridge and add a tablespoon at the end instead of sautéing the second half of the onion. Then just pop the cumin and mustard seeds in the microwave for 30 seconds in a dish with some oil. If you do this, just use a small onion for the first part.

Chorizo Meatballs

I am not a big fan of chorizo. I like the flavour, but it always makes me feel a little ill. I think it’s the combination of cured meat and the rich spices and flavours.

I thought if I took the basic chorizo ingredients – pork, garlic, paprika – and made meatballs I’d end up with a fresher take on it. I was right. These are delicious and contain far fewer nasties than your favourite chorizo sausage. Barbecuing or grilling them is a healthier option than pan frying too.

You could serve them in many ways: as part of tapas, in a paella, in a pasta sauce, with grilled prawns and salad, or make very small ones and serve with toothpicks as finger food. I like them with fresh ingredients to balance out the richness – pureed peas or broad beans for example.

Makes about 12 meatballs.

  • 500 grams pork mince
  • 1 garlic clove
  • 2 teaspoons good quality smoky paprika (get some from a market or specialty food store, it will be much better than the supermarket option)
  • 1 teaspoon sweet paprika
  • 1/2 teaspoon chilli flakes
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt.

Mix all ingredients in a bowl until well combined. Form into balls of your desired size and cook on a hot barbecue, turning to cook on all sides. Drain on paper towel. I like a squeeze of lemon juice over them when done.

 

 

Chicken and Potato Curry with Coconut, Lime and Cinnamon

When it comes to curries, I find it hard to stick to the rule book. This curry is really a hybrid: southern Indian, Malay, Thai. Who cares. It’s easy to make (in spite of the long list of ingredients), aromatic and utterly delicious.

Serves 3-4

  • 500g skinless chicken drumsticks (I like the chicken to simmer in the curry on the bone, which makes it tender. If you prefer, use sliced chicken fillets)
  • 3 medium sized potatoes (any variety in season will do)
  • 1-1.5 cups coconut milk
  • 1 x 400 g tin chopped tomatoes
  • 1 cinnamon stick
  • 4 kaffir lime leaves
  • fresh coriander
Curry paste:
  • 1 onion
  • 1 clove garlic
  • about 1 tablespoon grated ginger
  • 1 red birdseye chilli, seeds included (1 chilli will make it mildly spicy; use more or less, depending on taste)
  • 1 teaspoon turmeric
  • 1 teaspoon garam masala
  • 1 teaspoon ground coriander
  • 1 teaspoon ground cummin
  • juice of one lime
Preheat oven to 180c (you can use oven or stovetop – I prefer oven as you don’t have to keep checking so often).
Peel and cut potatoes into just bigger than bite sized pieces.
Place all the curry ingredients in a food processor and process until a chunky paste.
Heat some oil in a flameproof casserole dish (or large heavy based saucepan/pot if doing on the stove).
Add the paste to the heated oil, stir for a minute or two (stand back a little, it will make your eyes water!)
Add the chicken, coat in the curry paste, and cook for about 5 minutes, turning. Add the potato pieces and coat in the mixture. Stir over heat for a minute.
Add the tomatoes, coconut milk, lime leaves, and cinnamon sticks. Stir to combine. Place in oven for at least one hour, but no more than 1.5. Check throughout to see if it needs a little water or extra coconut milk. When cooked,  the meat should come easily away from the bone.
If cooking on the stove top, reduce the heat to as low after adding the last ingredients, simmer for an hour, stirring about every 15 minutes to stop the bottom sticking, adding more liquid if needed.
When cooked, remove the meat off the bones if you want to, or serve on the bone.
Served with steamed rice and chopped coriander.

Cavalo Nero Omelette with Feta and Dill

Cavalo nero is in season, it’s ludicrously good for you, and it’s versatile and delicious. What’s not to like? I picked up a bunch at the market yesterday and I woke up craving it this morning.

This is a breakfast that will make you feel good all day.

If you can’t get cavalo nero, use silverbeet instead.

Serves 1

  • 2 eggs
  • 3-4 cavalo nero leaves
  • 1 small shallot (spring onion), finely sliced
  • About a teaspoon of chopped fresh dill
  • A chunk of feta – about a quarter of a cup
  • 1/4 cup water

Step 1.

Cook the cavalo nero. Wash the leaves, place in a saucepan with about an inch of water in the bottom, put a lid on, and cook over a medium for about 10 minutes. The leaves will steam soft.

Step 2.

While the leaves are steaming, in a bowl, beat the eggs, dill, shallots, feta and water to combine. Season with pepper, you shouldn’t need salt as the feta will take care of that.

Step 3.

Remove the leaves from the pot and drain. Chop and add to the egg mixture.

Step 4.

Heat some oil in a frying pan with a lid. Pour the mixture in, turn heat down to low, place a lid on the top and let it cook for about 5-7 minutes, checking to make sure it’s not burning and that it’s cooking through. You can turn it if you like, but I don’t like to risk breaking it, so I put the pan under the grill for a few minutes at the end.

I like to serve this with something fresh and contrasting, like a tomato, basil and balsamic salad.

 

Lamb Shank, Guinness, Orange Zest and Star Anise Stew

This dish is a taste sensation, and it represents what winter comfort food should be to me: hearty but nourishing and not unhealthy; comforting but never  bland. The flavours are unique but you’ll be surprised at how well they all work together. The slow cooking lets them develop intensely.

This is also very easy and quick to prepare. And once you’ve put it in the oven or slow cooker you can get on with doing something else, or even go out for the afternoon. And when you come home, ravenously hungry, the intoxicating aroma will hit you when you open your front door. God I love winter.

Serves 4

  • 2 lamb shanks
  • 1 large onion, peeled and diced
  • 1 garlic clove, crushed
  • about a tablespoon chopped fresh rosemary
  • zest of about half an orange, peeled in strips
  • 2 star anises
  • 250 ml Guinness
  • 1 cup red lentils, washed
  • 1 x 400 g tin diced tomatoes
  • 200 ml water

For the mint gremolata:

  • Small handful of mint, very finely chopped
  • Remaining zest of orange

Preheat the oven to 160 c.

Heat some oil in a flameproof casserole dish and saute the onions for about 5 minutes until soft and turning golden. Add the garlic, rosemary, and  orange strips, and stir around. Add the shanks, and brown on both sides for a minute or two. Pour over the Guinness, let it foam and then simmer for a few minutes until it’s reduced a bit. Add the lentils, tomatoes, water and star anise. Stir, bring to the boil, then place the lid on the dish and put into the oven. Cook for 2-2 1/2 hours, checking a few times to make sure it doesn’t need any more water.

If you intend to go out and leave it unattended, drop the temperature a little and add about half a cup more water.

Mix mint and orange zest together for the topping.

Scrape the meat off the bones and serve sprinkled with the mint gremolata and a side of your favourite greens. Steamed cavalo nero tossed in olive oil and lemon juice is perfect. Roasted brussel sprouts or broccoli would also be superb.

 

White Soup

I complain about my small kitchen all the time, but the reality is it forces me to be creative and practical in many ways. For example, I need to constantly make room in my cupboards for new ingredients.

I don’t remember why I had a large jar of white beans, but I needed the jar so the beans had to go. I thought they would make a lovely white winter vegetable soup… and they did. Parsnip and cauliflower go so beautifully with beans, I think, and the garlic, cheese and herbs added all the right flavour dimensions.

You need to plan ahead if you want to make this as the beans have to soak overnight. Also, if you can wait, this soup will be even better after a day in the fridge, as the flavours develop and intensify.

Serves 4

  • 2.5 cups dried white beans, such as lima beans
  • 1 onion, peeled and diced
  • 2 garlic cloves, finely chopped
  • 1 large parsnip, peeled, woody centre removed, and diced
  • 3 cups cauliflower florets
  • 1 cup grated cheddar cheese
  • olive oil
  • 3-4 sprigs thyme
  • 2 bay leaves
  • 1.2 litres water
  • vegetable stock cube
  • salt & pepper

Put the beans in a large bowl and cover with cold water. The next day, rub them to slip the skins off. Don’t worry if you don’t get them all, they’ll come off when cooking. Drain and set aside.

Saute the onion in olive oil until soft. Add the garlic and parsnip, and sauté for a few minutes to soften the parsnip a little. Add the water, stock cube, thyme, bay leaves, beans, cauliflower and some salt and pepper.

Bring to the boil, reduce to a low simmer and skim any foam off the top that has accumulated. Simmer for 1.5 hours. Check a few times to see if it needs more water.

Remove the bay leaves and puree the soup in a blender or with a bamix stick. Season to taste.

Serve with some extra grated cheese, a swirl of cream, or some prosciutto, crisped up in the microwave and crumbled over the top. And I know it’s a daggy 80’s café thing to do, but I like mine with snipped chives.

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