Tag Archives: food

Gluten-Free Pistachio & Chocolate Biscotti

Last Thursday was Bake Night at Casa Careless. Two birthdays and a spurt of enthusiasm led to these pinwheely delights:

and what I affectionately named Biscotti Mountain:

I actually made two lots of the biscotti, one set gluten-free, one set gluten-rich. Since the gluten-free one was my own adaptation, I thought I’d share (as when I was looking for gluten-free biscotti recipes I shied away in horror from just about all of them. So needlessly complicated!)

Gluten-Free Pistachio & Chocolate Biscotti
makes about 40-50 biscotti

200g plain gluten-free flour (I used this stuff, which is just what they had in the shop but seems very nice)
60g cocoa powder
150g caster sugar
50g plain chocolate
3/4 tsp baking powder
1/2 tsp salt
3 eggs, beaten
1 tsp vanilla extract
splash of milk, probably less than a tablespoon
100g roasted unsalted pistachios

Pulverise the flour, cocoa, sugar, chocolate, baking powder and salt in a food processor until the chocolate has broken into tiny pieces. Add the eggs, vanilla and a splash of milk and mix until a dough forms. Tip onto a floured surface and knead in the nuts. Divide into four and roll each out into a narrow log, about 3cm wide and 30cm long when flattened. Place onto a lined baking sheet and bake at 180C for 25 minutes.

When cooled, cut diagonally into 1-2cm size pieces. Y’know, like biscotti are supposed to look. Then put back into the oven for 15 mins, until further crisped. And you’re done.

The only real difference I found between the different flours was that the gluten-free didn’t hold its shape as well (I expected that) and was a bit stickier and harder to roll into logs. But that was solved just by keeping one hand to be coated in goo, and the other relatively clean and floured for rolling. Other than that, almost identical results for both batches.

Italian-Style Potato & Bean Soup

Don’t cook the spinach too long or it tastes good but looks like a sort of manky camouflage colour. Ask me how I know.

Italian-Style Potato & Bean Soup
Serves 2-3

1 onion, chopped
2 cloves garlic, chopped
40g baby new potatoes
3/4 pint vegetable stock
1 tbsp tomato purée
1 tsp dried sage
splash white wine vinegar
150g spinach, defrosted if frozen
1 can red kidney beans, drained

Sauté the onion and garlic in a little oil until softened. Drop in the potatoes, stock, purée, vinegar and sage. Bring to the boil and simmer for 20 mins or until the potatoes are cooked. Add the spinach and kidney beans and warm through. Season well and serve with crusty bread.

I would have thought Fate would have rather better things to do with its time.

Despite the absence of any rigid belief structure in my life, I have a tendency to claim absurd things like ‘I, like, really believe in fate, you know?’. And it’s true, the idea does have a certain appeal to it. Stuff goes wrong? It was fated to. Not my bad. Stuff goes right? The Fates are smiling upon me. Yay. It’s a nice, relatively harmless way to live my life.

Sometimes, I use it to my advantage. If I want to do something, like go miles out of my way to a gig, but can’t really be bothered to do the organisation, and am not sure if it’ll actually happen or not, I leave it up to fate. If I’m meant to go… I’ll end up there somehow. Sometimes this is followed by offers of free tickets, places to stay, and me having some of the best times of my life. Sometimes, the ticket remains lost, I get a headache, and I remain home, satisfied that I would probably have had a rubbish time anyway.

I’ll often forget about it for ages at a time, much like the game. Then I get a sudden epiphany of ohhh, maybe it’s Fate, maybe that’s why this trial is being put before me. For example, today, I suddenly thought that maybe it is down to Fate that I sit next to a chronic complainer at work, and I am supposed to be learning something from the experience. How not to be a fucking annoying whining bitchfaced cow, for example.

I’m still working on that.

And then I thought, maybe this goes even further. Some time ago, I had a problem with caffeine giving me the screaming hab dabs, so I cut down on it. Maybe that was Fate. Can’t think why it might want to do that, but heh. Now, I am having major problems with alcohol. Two glasses of wine is enough to give me a day-long headache and a worrying amount of nausea. Maybe Fate wants me to cut out the booze. Fair enough, I’ll cut down, if that’s what you want.

The point at which I start to get annoyed, however, is when Fate decides it doesn’t want me eating full meals. I mean, wtf? If I dare to eat a full meal at the moment, my stomach swells to a point which feels as though the only thing stopping me exploding is willpower. Ouch. And when I say full meal, I don’t mean a pigeon stuffed into a duck stuffed into a chicken stuffed into a goose with lard-roasted potatoes and a flagon of ale, I mean a curry. A sandwich and some raw vegetables. Pasta and fucking sauce. I’ve had to split my lunch into two sittings so I don’t end the afternoon waddling around like a whiny penguin.

So yes. I’m not sure what part of Fate’s big ol’ plan requires me to be incapable of eating more than 300 calories at a time, but I hope to find out before I die of starvation or am forced to get all my nourishment intravenously.

Chicken & Mango Couscous Salad

I am pleased to announce that warm salad season has arrived, which is awesome, because I *love* warm salads. It’s so much fun getting stuff, shoving it in a bowl, then getting some more stuff, chucking that in, then wandering away for a bit, then doing another bit, and it doesn’t matter if the first bit gets cold because that’s the point of the dish. Brilliant.

Chicken & Mango Couscous Salad
Serves 2-3 (there’s at least two dinners and a lunch in this.)

2 chicken breasts, cut into bite-sized pieces
3/4 cup couscous
1 red onion, cut into wedges
2 cloves garlic, sliced
1″ fresh root ginger, sliced
1 tin mango, drained and chopped
handful baby corn
handful mangetout
handful mint, chopped

Put the chicken in a casserole dish with a little oil and chilli. Stick in the oven at 180C and ignore for a bit. Make up the couscous… place in a large bowl with 1.5 cups boiling water, cover and leave. When the chicken’s been going for about ten minutes, add the onion, garlic, ginger, chuck around a bit and put back in for ten minutes. Once the chicken is done all the way through, add the mango, corn and mangetout and warm through in the oven. Stir the mint into the now fluffy couscous, then tip everything from the casserole into the couscous bowl, stir and serve.

Equally, you could stir-fry the chicken, which would probably be faster and more energy conscious.

Baking the blues away.

That’s not a football reference. In case you were worried.

I was hit by a sudden attack of the lonelies last night. In these situations nothing cheers me up more than baking – and even this baking took until this morning to fully take effect. Nice biscuits though. I shall share*.

Ginger Biscuits
Makes a tray of 12, which is 1 serving for a grumpy female.

4oz self-raising flour
2oz butter/marg
1/2 tsp bicarb of soda
1/2 tsp ground ginger
2oz soft brown sugar
1 tbsp golden syrup
1/2 tsp water**

Rub the butter into the flour, soda and ginger. Add the sugar, syrup and water and mix well. Roll into walnut-sized balls, place on a tray with room to spread and flatten. Bake for ten minutes. Leave them on the tray to cool.

*The recipe. Not the biscuits. I ate all them pretty quickly. 😉
**The original recipe didn’t call for the water, but it’s so hard to mix it nearly made me cry. Add the water.

Today is a nice day.

In fact, it’s a very yellow day. As such, Quant had her first outing, and received an unprompted compliment from a colleague. Here’s the pic, for non-ravelers:

And I heard an interview with Delia Smith on the Today programme which made me feel really bad for hatin’ on her in the past. She’s lovely and I totally forgive her for specifying eighths of teaspoons of ingredients in her recipes.

Paprika Mushrooms

I love paprika. Absolutely adore the stuff. Back when the folks lived in Cambridge, I would always buy my paprika in 75g bags from the Daily Bread co-op across the road, buying them two at a time because I went through it so quickly. Yum. This recipe is the veggie equivalent of my favourite way of cooking chicken, and is brilliant with a huge jacket potato with loads of butter. I’ve just eaten it and I could have another one right now. Yum.

Incidentally, and this is more a note for me than anything else, they run an online store from the Northampton store… www.ecofair.co.uk. Might have to get me a 500g bag of paprika.

Paprika Mushrooms
Serves 2

1 onion, chopped
2 cloves garlic, crushed
150g mushrooms, sliced
a splash of vegetable stock
1 tbsp paprika
dash of dried chillies
4tbsp plain yoghurt

Sauté the onion and garlic in a little oil until soft; add the mushrooms and sauté until they’re just short of how you like them. Add the stock, paprika and chilli, and bubble for a bit. Remove from the heat for a minute or so and stir in the yoghurt (if the pan’s too hot when you put it in, the yoghurt will separate. Doesn’t taste any different but looks a bit icky.). Ta-daa!

Sausage & Mushroom Flan

Recently, I’ve been thinking about flan. Firstly, thinking that it is an under-used word, most people preferring the more tinny and exotic ‘quiche’. And secondly, wondering exactly why it is that both flans and quiches tend to be so… well… grim. I mean, what is a flan, but an omelette in a pastry case? I like pastry; I like omelette; I like cheese and most of the other items that are generally put into quiches. So why so dismissive?

So this evening, I set about making one. And hurrah, I liked it! So much so it’s proving pretty difficult not to eat the whole thing right now. Must… save… some… for… breakfast…

Sausage & Mushroom Flan
Serves 2-4, depending on other dishes.

6oz plain flour
3oz butter/other fat if you’re that way inclined
1 onion, chopped
2 sausages, skinned and crumbled
1 clove garlic, crushed
good handful of mushrooms, sliced
dash oregano
dash chilli flakes
2 eggs
grated cheese

OK. Make up some shortcrust with the flour and fat. Roll it out and fit into an 8″/20cm flan dish or cake tin or whatever. Prick the base with a for and pre-bake for about 10 minutes, but don’t let it dry out.

At some point – maybe when chilling the pastry – sauté the onion and sausage in a little oil, then add the garlic, mushrooms & flavours and sauté all until cooked. Beat the eggs with a splash of milk – about as much as you’d usually use in an omelette or scrambled egg.

Now arrange the sausagey bit in the pastry, pour the egg over the top, sprinkle with a little grated cheese and bake for about 30 minutes at 180C. Or until it’s done. I kinda forgot to check the time.

You know, I’m really quite pleased with this. Go flan!