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

Roasted Capsicum & Sausage Pasta

The Gluten Free Scallywag - Roasted Capsicum Sauce

We landed back home, in Perth, after our honeymoon some weeks ago and I had the opportunity to catch up with my girlfriend (the one that inspired

this nutella cheesecake pot recipe

) and her sweet kids. We were sitting on the couch sipping a cuppa going over the highlights of the trip (I'll share soon!) and the milestones that her children had quickly surpassed whilst I've been busy living in Melbourne. She's a fabulous cook and has a delicious array of healthy recipes that I'll one day copy and alter to be my own. In fact her raw fudge recipe we enjoyed with our cup of tea is totally being shared here soon!

The Gluten Free Scallywag - Roasted Capsicum Sauce

We got onto the subject of 'from scratch' as we both love to bake and cook our own recipes, altering to make them our own. You see,

the thing is, I've never made pasta sauce from scratch

, it's so cheap from the shops, the brands I buy are gluten free and it taste good. This completely baffles my friend, who, with a Spanish background just doesn't understand

why

I'd buy it when it's

'so easy to make yourself Jasmine!'

I asked for her recipe or more list of ingredients so that I could give it a go, however, somewhere between honeymoon banter, a 3month old who I just wanted to cuddle and a 3year old with some wicked dancing moves the list was never written down.

The Gluten Free Scallywag - Roasted Capsicum Sauce

On the flight home to Melbourne, I said to my man (who wants to make his own passata) that I wanted to make my own pasta sauce, so on a recent trip to the Prahran Markets I picked up some scarlet coloured capsicums and fresh herbs to make into a delicious pasta sauce.

This is a simple not-too-capsicum-y-sauce that mingles well with the flavours from the fresh gluten free sausages

from Gary's Meats in Prahran (my favourite for flavourful gluten free sausages). After this win, perhaps this will be the year that I stop buying pasta sauce from the stores and be a little more adventurous with my pasta dishes!

Roasted Capsicum Sauce

Makes approximately 500ml

2tsp olive oil

2 large red capsicums

1/2 red onion, finely diced

1/2cup each fresh basil & parsley, finely diced

2cloves garlic, minced

1 x 400g tin chopped tomatoes

1/2 - 1tsp castor sugar

pepper to taste

Preheat oven to 200degrees Celsius.

Brush oil over whole capsicums and place on a baking tray. Bake for approximately 10minutes before turning and cooking a further 10 minutes or so until the skin is charred. Remove from the oven, with tongs place the capsicums in a deep glass bowl (so as not to melt the glad wrap, nor stain plastic) cover with glad wrap and set aside for 10minutes or so to cool. Covering the capsicums in this manner aides to steam the skins from the capsicum.

Carefully peel the charred skins from the capsicums and remove the seeds & membranes from the inside the capsicum and discard. Retain the juices. Cut the capsicum into strips, place 3/4 of the capsicum into a blender of food processor along with the onion, herbs garlic & tin of tomatoes. Pulse to combine. Taste and add a little sugar and pepper to your liking. Pulse and taste again.

Transfer to a sterilized glass jar and keep in the fridge for up to one week.

To make the Roasted Capsicum & Sausage Pasta

(Serves 1-2, increase portions for more people)

Cook your preferred pasta al dente. Meanwhile remove skin from 2 good quality gluten free pork sausages and cook in a hot fry pan in 1tsp oil. Mash up the sausage to cook quickly and evenly. Turn heat to low and add about 1cup capsicum sauce to heat through. Drain pasta, keep 1/2cup cooking liquid. Return pasta to cooking pan with the sausage, capsicum sauce and a little of the cooking liquid. Toss to combine.

Serve piping hot with lots of freshly grated Parmesan and a few chilli flakes.

Pea & Ham Soup - Gluten Free Recipe from My Man

The Gluten Free Scallywag - Pea & Ham Soup

I  honestly don't think I'd have married my husband if he couldn't cook (let alone do laundry) it would completely alter the way our relationship worked. You see, he picked me up the day I was diagnosed. He helps every day to ensure I don't ingest gluten, whether it be by using 3knives to put the peanut butter on his toast (from his toaster), or double checking the ham at the deli is gluten free when I simply cannot be bothered and keep walking on, 'I can do without it anyway'. He is amazingly supportive and he absolutely loves to cook things slowly, last Friday morning he asked what I'd like for dinner. My response? 'Something warm. No salad' << See that right there? That is why (well, one of the 'whys')

I love this man

, he knows that I'd much prefer to veg out on a Friday night at home after a week at work and catching up on Gluten Free Scallywag emails rather than whip up dinner. After all, I'd done dinner during the week. Ok, except Monday, he did his awesome

Chicken Pesto Pasta

on Monday.

Before I'd even walked into the front of our building I was hoping the lovely aromas drifting through the front door were from our apartment. Inserting my blue key into our door and sure enough those rich aromas were indeed from our little kitchen;

slow cooked lamb shanks with green beans, peas & creamy mashed potato

(that mash would be on the list of why I married him by the way - amazing!). An hour later, glass of red wine in hand and still writing notes for this years Gluten Free Scallywag Magazine, I took my first bite of those lamb shanks 'Delicious!' I exclaimed. 'Well they'd better be, they've been cooking since 1o'clock (it was now 7.30pm.)

The Gluten Free Scallywag - Pea & Ham Soup
The Gluten Free Scallywag - Pea & Ham Soup

Unfortunately, I'm not sharing that recipe here today but one of his favourite winter time soups; Pea & Ham.Which he has always loved:

' I always worked in the garden or shed with Dad and would get the call to come in for lunch to find that Mum had made a massive pot of pea & ham soup with crunchy buttery croutons. I think 2 or 3 bowls later and I was in heaven. '

So, it is with a love of slow cooking both naturally and altered to gluten free that I share my man's recipe for Pea & Ham Soup. If you want to try more of my man's recipes check out his Pork Rack in last Christmas Gluten Free Scallywag and don't forget our Engagement Mustard Crusted Roast Lamb. Oh, and if you want that lamb shanks recipe yell out on facebook and I'll get him back on the blog!

David's Pea & Ham Soup

Serves 6; Start this recipe a day ahead

300g dried green split peas, soaked in a large bowl of cold water overnight, rinsed & drained

2 brown onions, finely chopped

2 celery pieces, washed and chopped into 5mm slices

2 medium carrots, peels and chopped into 1cm rounds

1L gluten free vegetable stock

1kg ham hock, fat scored

2 cloves garlic, crushed

1L water

1/4cup basil leaves, finely chopped

1tsp fresh thyme

method

In a large heavy based pot (we used our beloved 28cm le creuset) place the first seven ingredients plus 1litre cold water to the boil. Reduce heat to a gentle simmer with the lid on. Simmer on low for approximately 1.5hours. Skimming the impurities from the surface every half hour or so.

Remove lid and simmer for a further 30minutes, adding the fresh herbs in the last ten minutes.

Remove the ham hock and allow to cool slightly before stripping the meat away from the bone and set aside, discarding the bone.

At this stage you have two options, you can either whizz the soup stock and 60% of the hock meat in a blender until smooth and throw in the remaining hock meat in chunks to serve or you can keep the soup stock 'clear' (or un blended) with the hock meat simply returned to the pan. I recommend adding a cup of frozen peas and cooking for a further 10minutes if leaving 'clear' which is how it's shown in the above recipes.

Add pepper and salt as you wish, although definitely taste the soup first as the hock and vegetable stock can impart plenty of salt without needing to add it.

Serve piping hot with hot buttered gluten free toast.

Will keep well in an airtight container in the fridge for 3days, or the blended soup would be suitable to freeze. Use within one month, defrosting in the fridge before reheating.

Brown Rice & Chicken Salad with Spicy Yoghurt Dressing (EF + NF)

The Gluten Free Scallywag - Brown Rice 
& Chicken Salad with Spicy Yoghurt Dressing

It seems to be that time again,  the days are growing longer and the temperature is slowly rising. S

pring is here and summer, in Australia at least, is just around the corner.

Yes, the days of

licking melted ice cream

from your fingers and beers are chilled ready for warm sunday afternoon drinks in the sunshine. I'm looking forward to it all. The past 12months have been a whirlwind and I am so looking forward to the next 12months. For the next two months I'm working on Volume 2 of

The Gluten Free Scallywag Christmas Magazine

as well as doing some work for clients too and lets not get started on the days over the Christmas holidays that will be spent lazing in Margaret River with my family... oh I can't wait!

Next year can only bring great things with our wedding and honeymoon happening in 2013 (yoooo!) which brings me back to this delicious salad. To be honest, I've never been a huge salad fan. My gorgeous man can sit and eat a whole bowl of just greens with his steak, me? I need some rosted veg or something with it and throw in some danish feta, that always makes a salad better - ha! This salad is my way of reminding myself that

summer is just around the corner

and getting into 'that' dress is just beyond that, so it's time to eat smarter, eat a little lighter and a get my ass outta bed in the morning, because I can guaruntee you with the gluten free fruit mince pies and shortbread I'm gonna need to think healthy to be happy with myself in a pair of short shorts this summer!

This salad is the perfect answer to a delicious and nutritious lunch or dinner

-  packed full of goodness with brown rice, brown lentils, fresh greens, pumpkin seeds and chicken for protein it's what I call my starter salad.

It's a starter salad as this is just the beginning.

Tonight we had this salad but added in half a chopped cucumber, a corn cob with the fresh, delicious corn chopped off, parsley and a chopped avocado - it was wolfed down, with a sneaky tupperware filled with enough for my lunch tomorrow. Next time, I'm going to use this starter salad and add roasted pumpkin, beetroot and danish feta. Yum. Bring on summer!

The Gluten Free Scallywag - Brown Rice 
& Chicken Salad with Spicy Yoghurt Dressing

Brown Rice & Chicken Salad with Spicy Yoghurt Dressing

Serves 2 hungry bellies

1 barbequed or pan fried chicken breast dusted with mixed herbs and smoked paprika prior, barbequed or pan fried.

1/2cup gluten free greek yoghurt

1/4tsp harissa paste

1cup cooked brown rice, cooled

1/2 tin of brown lentils, drained

1 spring onion, chopped

1 handful mixed greens, I used baby spinach and rocket

1 garlic clove, crushed

1/4cup pumpkin seeds

Stir together the yoghurt and harissa paste.

Shred the cooked chicken breast and toss together the brown rice, lentils, onion, greens and garlic. Mix through half the yoghurt and harrisa paste mix.

Arrange on your serving plate, scatter with pumpkin seeds and drizzle with remaining yoghurt dressing.

Serve immediately.

This recipe works well with cold or warm brown rice. Can be tossed together a couple of hours befor serving, simple omit the greens leaves until serving so they stay crispy.

Not into meat? Leave it out! Don't like brown rice? Use quinoa! Love nuts, scatter some roasted almonds on top with the pumpkin seeds. Love roasted pumpkin, add it in!

This salad is just the beginning of your love affair with brown rice salads.

I know it's mine.