Red Wine Beef Ragu (DF + NF)

Small humans. Even medium sized humans (you know the teenage kind?) take up time. Heck, I'm now in my 30's and my Mum was recently here helping me out; distracting our little cookie, doing dishes and just generally being the helping, loving Mum that she is. Yep, she pretty much sums up my parenting goals. Gotta love Mums.

Back to small humans. They take up time. As in, they take up our time with activities, with outdoor play, with laundry and dishes and shopping trips. It becomes our life. A life that is full of adventure. Or at least, that's how I view ours, one big adventure. This adventure is one that needs fuel. A. Lot. Of. Fuel. No, I'm not really talking about our little cookie (20 month old small human) but me. I'm an eater. Our little cookie is an eater too, oh boy is he! Then my man cycles, so that's a lot of carbs that get guzzled down (and the only gluten that's in the house; his oat based muesli and bread, occasionally he sneaks in licorice, the bastard!)

The answer to all this food consumption?

A plan.

Not crazy two week plan of meals, but a few days worth and a few extra things in the freezer. Thinking of how we're currently living (working, playing, sleeping on the floor next to our little cookie when he sleeps, sleeping when he sleeps due to lack of aforementioned sleep, play, laundry, did I mention laundry?) I thought I'd share how our meals work out, most of the time. I mean, there's days when we eat toasted sandwiches for lunch and dinner, or our little cookie gets a bowl of pasta with a little tuna mixed in or he only wants to eat scrambled eggs when he's teething. This is life. This is our around-about-winter-menu for a week.

Being a big fan of the fresh produce at our local farmers market; Manning Farmers Market, it rocks! our menu starts there. Our pantry is stocked with gluten free staples (I'll share more about that soon) but our weekly market shop usually includes a bunch of staple fruit and veg and seasonal items, this weeks was something along the lines of;

  • carrots,
  • broccoli,
  • cauliflower,
  • capsicum,
  • cucumber,
  • corn,
  • pumpkin,
  • potatoes,
  • sweet potatoes,
  • peas/beans of some kind,
  • onions,
  • avocado,
  • bananas,
  • pears,
  • oranges,
  • strawberries,
  • spinach,
  • basil
  • and coriander.

It's winter, I don't do salads in winter - too damn cold! So, this is our...

Round-About-Dinner-Menu-For-A-Week

  1. Nachos, a double batch. It's vego, with green capsicum + a bottle of beer (gluten free, obvs). Half was frozen. The other half did two meals for three people. The second night as stuffed sweet potatoes with cheese, baby spinach and plenty of smashed avo on top.
  2. Basil Pesto, a jam packed food processor full of basil, a little parsley and a good handful or two of baby spinach, for extra green. We made Chicken Basil Pesto Pasta, with enough to feed 4 adults and that growing small human of ours. There's still basil pesto in the fridge that's being used on toast with scrambled eggs or in toasted cheese sandwiches with leftover and on pizza.
  3. Moroccan Chicken Cauliflower & Chickpea with rice (cook extra rice, recipe in Vol 4 of The Gluten Free Scallywag Magazine). Drumsticks ahoy! Chicken legs come to life with moroccan seasonings and is filled out with half a cauliflower and a tin of chickpeas. This meal did 2 dinners for 3 adults + a small human.
  4. Fried Rice (by no means, traditional). If there's leftover rice I'll make up a huge batch of homemade fried rice. I use most veg in my fried rice and always bacon, sometimes with leftover shredded chicken. It's usually about 60% rice, 40% veg; onions, carrot, capsicum, broccoli, corn, peas, snow peas, zucchini, cauliflower and some fresh basil. This usually does about 2 meals for 3 adults + I freeze another meals worth for later.
  5. Spiced Chorizo Pasta with Roasted Capsicum Sauce. You can make the sauce, or simply finely dice and saute a red capsicum to throw into a store-bought sauce with some black olives, sundried tomatoes and pan fried chorizo. Top with fresh ricotta and a dollop of pesto. Feeds 4.
  6. Pumpkin + Sweet Potato Soup with Ginger. A big pot of this gets us through lunches with toasted cheese and pesto sandwiches for a few days.
  7. Roast Lamb (whichever cut you love or whatever meat you love) with roasted veg; all the carrots, pumpkin, sweet potato, a few roast onions and some slow roasted garlic cloves... You could do a potato gratin or broccoli cauliflower cheese if you wished. Leftover lamb would be thrown on top of pizza along with the leftover roast veg and pesto the following night.

There's often a ragu in the mix somewhere, such as the beef ragu below which is a cinch to make and spends most of it's time slowly bubbling away in the oven. This recipe is a favourite of mine from Vol 4 of The Gluten Free Scallywag Magazine... ahem cookbook, which you can grab from my online store or pop down to my Market Cake Bake Stall at the September Upmarket. 

Red Wine Beef Ragu

/ Serves 6 / from The Gluten Free Scallywag Magazine, Vol 4

method:

Preheat oven to 140 C.

Heat a generous glug of olive oil in a large, lidded, cast iron pot over medium heat. Brown beef in batches to create a lovely golden brown edge to the beef. Don't overcrowd the beef or it will stew, rather than brown. As the beef browns, place in a bowl along with any juices, and set aside.

If the pan is dry, heat another glug of olive oil in the pan and saute the onion, carrot & celery for 5-8 minutes until soft. Throw in the crushed garlic, return the beef and stir for a minute to cook the garlic. Add in the remaining ingredients, stir and bring to a simmer. Cover pot tightly with lid or foil and transfer to the oven. Cook for 2.5 to 3 hours, or until beef is falling apart, this may take a further half hour to an hour depending on the cut of beef. Stir every hour to ensure nothing has caught on the bottom.

Remove beef from the sauce and roughly pull apart with two forks to shred. Set aside, covered, to keep warm and avoid drying out. Remove the bay leaves from the luscious gravy. If you would like a thicker sauce, place the pot back over a low heat and simmer for 15-30 minutes. Keep in mind when you add the beef back in it will be thicker simply due to the beef soaking up that little bit extra sauce.

Return beef to pan and heat through. Season with pepper.

Serve over piping hot gluten free pasta or gnocchi with plenty of Parmesan cheese (please amend serving suggestions if dairy free)

Equally delicious with a cup of frozen peas and diced steamed carrots tossed in and topped with mashed potato as a shepherd's pie or use as a rich sauce for homemade lasagna, you could even make some ragu filled crepe cannelloni for something different.

ingredients

1kg casserole beef, chopped into 4cm cubes

1 brown onion, roughly chopped

2 carrots, peeled and diced

2 sticks celery, diced

4 cloves garlic, crushed

1 x 400g tin chopped tomatoes

2 tablespoons tomato paste

2 cups (500ml) gluten free vegetable or beef stock

1 cup (250ml) dry red wine (or stock)

2 bay leaves

A sprig each of rosemary, thyme and oregano, chopped

Chai Spiced Apple Hazelnut Cake (DF)

This little gluten free scallywag went to market... and had SUCH a wonderful time!

It was so lovely to meet a bunch of you at Perth Upmarket a few Sundays ago. What a ride! A whole bunch of you came out to say hello and buy up big on cakes, biscuits and slices. I can't wait to share with you more about how I set up the stall and the processes that went on behind the scenes along with some photos that my friend and official market photographer took on the day. 

I'm hoping to do another market, so I'll keep you posted here and on facebook about what those dates are.

GFScallywag_ChaiAppleCake_082-w.jpg

In the meantime though, let me introduce you to this delightful Chai Spiced Apple Hazelnut Cake which featured at the market.  The chewy outer crumb opens to a dense, apple scented, nut filled interior that is abundant with the aroma and flavour of chai tea. I love a piece with a cup of freshly brewed Rooibos tea; a generous dollop of double cream wouldn't go astray either!

I've made this cake half a dozen times now, sometimes with raisins soaked in chai tea and drained, sometimes with hazelnut meal and sometimes not, sometimes with a little more ginger and sometimes not. There are many possibilities, but the best thing? This is one seriously moreish mouthful and it's dairy free to boot!


Chai Spiced Apple Hazelnut Cake (DF)

 

/ 1 x 20cm cake / about 8-12 pieces / adapted from this nutty ginger cake which was originally from Gourmet Traveller

method

Preheat your oven to 150 degrees celcius (fan forced). Lightly oil (or butter, if dairy isn't an issue) a 20cm round cake tin and line the base with baking paper.

Using a stand or hand mixer (or by hand, if you're arm muscles are up for it!) whisk the eggs, sugar and golden syrup on high until pale and creamy. You want the mixture to double in size. Set aside.

Whisk together the dry ingredients; hazelnut meal, almond meal, baking powder and spices.

Fold the dry ingredients and apple into the egg to combine. Optional: if using the soaked raisins fold them in now.

Pour into the prepared cake tin. Smooth the top and bake for approximately 45-50minutes, turning the cake half way. A skewer inserted should come out clean.

Cool for 5 minutes before transferring to a cooling rack.

Serve at room temperature with a dusting of icing sugar.

Will keep, covered for 2-4 days. Apple cakes have a habit of going bad quickly, so if you're somewhere warm and humid, keep the cake in the fridge to prevent spoiling.

 

 

ingredients

3 eggs

175g sugar (I like raw castor)

65g golden syrup (rice malt and honey also work)

100g hazelnut meal

250g almond meal

1/2 teaspoon gluten free baking powder

1/4 teaspoon cardamom

1/8 teaspoon nutmeg

1 teaspoon ginger

2 teaspoons cinnamon

210g stewed apple (about 2), roughly mashed

optional: 100g raisins soaked for 5minutesin 1/4cup brewed, black chai tea, drained

Chocolate Peanut Slice - Healthier Snickers (DF, EF + VO)

Raw, healthier foods aren't normally something I make. My best mate does. My Mum does. Me? Well, I'm known more for my sugar laden (even though I've really cut down over the years) gluten free baked goods. That's why you're here, right? Well, we all grow, and these 'healthier' versions are something I want to work on. I want to work on foods that are not only delicious, but also a healthier alternative for me and my family.

Don't get me wrong, I know it has been a while but don't worry this space is not going to morph into a healthy food blog. Hell no! That may be others journey, but it isn't mine. I want a happy medium of the foods we enjoy at home or I recreate at home to be shared with you, so that wherever you are on your journey you can find something delicious.

My best mate is one of the funniest, and fun-est people I know. She is also a kick-ass parent and all round human being who inspires me (without knowing it) to be better at both of those things. So, when she recently shouted out, ok, casually 'suggested', via a rather well known social media platform that someone should get themselves into the kitchen asap and whip up a healthier, raw Snickers and deliver it to her. Well, I jumped at that suggestion, not literally, it was a few days later for her birthday that I got my butt into the kitchen and here it is; an almost raw, peanut laden chocolate topped slice. It's delicious, or so she says. She totally ate a slice for breakfast, it's that good and that good for you too ;) 


Almost Raw Chocolate Peanut Slice

/ makes about 10 pieces / To be honest, I've never had the famous version of this chocolate bar as I didn't like peanut butter as a child and now, well, I can't eat snickers as they're not gluten free! Luckily this version is healthy and gluten free... and clearly I now eat peanut butter, but only in baked goods :)

To make this slice vegan substitute the honey for rice malt syrup or maple syrup. You can make your own raw chocolate for the top, Google will be able to give you a recipe for this.

method

Line the base and sides of a 13 x 21cm tin with baking paper.

Place all of the base ingredients in a food processor and blitz until combined. The mixture should stick together when pressed against the side. Add the second tablespoon of coconut oil if needed, as it shouldn't be too dry or it will crumble.

Press firmly into the prepared tin and smooth the top. Place in the freezer to set for 20minutes.

To make the caramel stir together the peanut butter and two tablespoons honey. Taste and add the third tablespoon of honey if you wish.

Remove the base from the freezer, it needs to have set for about 20minutes or you will pull up the base when you spread the caramel over it. Scatter the peanuts over the base and pour the peanut butter caramel over the top.

Pour over the melted chocolate and smooth the top. For an even chocolate top tap the tin a few times on your bench and give the tin a little shake to smooth it out.

Cover and return to the freezer for an hour to set.

Remove from the freezer and cut into portions. Store covered in the freezer for 2 weeks, allow 10-15minutes for the slice to 'warm' up if eating from the freezer. Will also keep covered, in the fridge for 5 days.

ingredients

Base Layer

50g (1/3cup) pitted dates

200g (2cups) almond meal

50g (1/2cup) desiccated coconut

1-2tblspn coconut oil

Peanut Butter 'Caramel' Layer

220g (about 2/3cup) natural peanut butter, smooth or crunchy

2-3 tblspn honey - use rice malt or maple syrup for a vegan option

50g (about 1/3cup) raw peanuts

125g dark (72%) chocolate, melted

 


Banana Hazelnut Birthday Cake (DF)

Gluten Free Scallywag - Banana Hazelnut Cake

I'm honestly not quite sure where time has gone. Just a moment ago I was pregnant and living in Melbourne and now our little cookie is 10 months old (today infact and yes, that's where I've been ) I feel the past 10 months have disappeared down the rabbit hole, much like Alice once did. Instead of meeting a funny cat and going on an adventure through a colourful world, I'm making funny noises at my son, learning all about his little personality and what it is like to look after a little person 100% of the time. Which, in itself is a little bit of a new colourful world. Note to self, double check recipe ingredients are in cake when small child is vying for your attention or you'll end up putting the cake in the oven without the eggs in it! Thankfully I noticed after only a minute so the cake in question was saved.

It's an amazing little world that you enter when you become a parent. I'm learning each day. I have listened to all the Mum's (and Dad's) I've known and taken on little bits of their advice, becoming a Mum in my own way, as my gorgeous husband becomes a Dadand we (try to) figure it all out together.

Gluten Free Scallywag - Banana Hazelnut Cake
Gluten Free Scallywag - Banana Hazelnut Cake

This banana cake on the other hand is a little bit easier to figure out and a lot less colourful. Cue the coloured cakes for our little cookie's birthday party. Bring on the multi-coloured layer cakes I say! However, back to my rather subdued (in comparison) birthday cake... this fella (not sure when I decided it was a boy) is laced with a touch of cinnamon, but the real kicker is the toasty warmth the hazelnut meal adds to the lightness of the crumb and the flavour that fills your mouth when you take a big whopping bite. I topped this naturally dairy free cake with a slathering of sinful cream laden ganache, but apparently you can make it with coconut cream if you can't handle the dairy.

I made this cake again on my birthday, I'd run out of bananas so subbed the remaining 80g with apple puree and it was delicious. I didn't have any hazelnut meal left either so almond meal it was. Thanks to the subtle flavour of almond meal I thought I'd kick up the cinnamon by another teaspoon and voila. Another cake. Another birthday cake. Oh. I made chocolate mousse, carrot cake and cheesecake for my birthday morning tea too and watched one of my favourite movies; Grease. Such a classic. A bit like this cake.

Gluten Free Scallywag - Banana Hazelnut Cake

P.S. I've been getting back in the kitchen and working on Volume 4 of The Gluten Free Scallywag Magazine

. It's coming together and if you follow me on instagram or facebook you'll have seen a few sneak peeks at what is to come . Infact, I'll be taking pre-orders soon. But now, banana cake...

Banana Hazelnut Cake with Chocolate Ganache

Serves 8-12

The cake is dairy free, the ganache is not. I made quite a thick ganache, which I would change to a thinner version next time. Teresa Cutter suggests you can make the ganache with coconut cream for those that are dairy/lactose free. Check out her notes on making ganache here . You can easily substitute your favourite gluten free flour mix for the total 210g of flours stated below. If nut free try using desiccated coconut rather than hazelnut meal. Coconut is drier though, so do watch the cooking time, it may be slightly less.

Update: I made this recipe and baked them as cupcakes. It made 15 cupcakes, although if you filled them a little higher you might make 12 larger ones at a pinch (you don't want them to overflow!) and I baked them for abbot 16-18minutes. Warm from the oven and dusted with icing sugar, delicious! 

150g brown rice flour

30g quinoa flour

30g corn flour

55g roasted hazelnut meal *

2teaspoons gluten free baking powder

2teaspoons cinnamon

285g (approx 1 cup or about 3) mashed banana

150g brown sugar

125ml (1/2cup) oil - vegetable or a light olive oil is fine

2 teaspoons vanilla essence

3 eggs

method

Preheat oven to 160 degrees Celsius. Grease (with oil if dairy free) and line a 20cm round tin with baking paper.

In a large bowl whisk together the dry ingredients; flours, hazelnut meal, baking powder and cinnamon.

In a medium bowl whisk together the wet ingredients; mashed banana, sugar, oil, vanilla essence and eggs until sugar has just dissolved.

Combine wet into dry and mix until just combined. Pour into baking tin and bake for approximately 42-45minutes. A skewer inserted should come out clean.

Ganache:

In saucepan bring 200ml cream to just below boiling point. Remove from heat and add in 200g finely chopped dark chocolate (I used 72% Whittakers which is dairy free). Allow to sit for a minute or two before stirring and making sure the chocolate has melted. Allow ganache to cool for an hour or three or it will run off your cake. This depends entirely on how warmth your kitchen environment is, so check it every now and then. Pour and smooth the ganache over the cake and decorate with some roughly chopped roasted hazelnuts.

*To make roasted hazelnut meal: roast whole hazelnuts for a few minutes in the warmed oven. Remove skins, cool and blitz in blender to form fine crumbs. You can also use normal hazelnut meal.