Spinach Triangles

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Greece would have to be one of my favourite countries. I have wonderful memories of the Greek Islands and the food. Greek yoghurt and honey for breakfast, dolmades and stuffed peppers for lunch and spanakopita (spinach pie) for dinner. I remember it all, and it was wonderful, but apart from stuffed peppers I’ve never made Greek food.

So, fast forward to last weekend. I was expecting guests and had a hankering for spanakopita. So as you do, I visited YouTube for the visual delight of seeing it made. I was impressed. I quickly scribbled out the recipe and went shopping. I was so impressed in fact, that I decided to make two – one for my guests and one for the freezer.

I spent half a day chopping and crumbling – there was a mountain of baby spinach to destalk and chop, and another mountain of feta to crumble. I followed the recipe to the letter, and when it came out of the oven, it looked fabulous! It even looked fabulous on the plate… that was until we tasted it. My guests were very polite and ate it, but for me, it was so overpoweringly salty, I couldn’t stomach it. So sadly, what was left went in the bin as did the spanakopita that was in the freezer.

Not to be beaten though, I decided to make spinach triangles with the remaining ingredients. I did a little research and came up with my own low-salt recipe, and the result was perfect. Exactly as I imaged the spinach pie should taste. So here’s my recipe…

Spinach Triangles

Ingredients:

  • 1 packet of filo pastry
  • 250 g baby spinach
  • 10-12 baby spring onions
  • 250 g soft creamy ricotta
  • 50-75 g of full fat feta
  • Milk to soak the feta
  • ½ cup grated cheddar or tasty cheese
  • 2 eggs lightly beaten
  • Melted butter or olive oil to brush filo
  • Salt and pepper to taste

Method:

  • Preheat the oven temperature to 180 degrees Celsius
  • Place the feta in a bowl of milk and allow to soak. This is to reduce the salt. If you like it salty, then miss this step
  • Finely slice the baby spring onions
  • Destalk the baby spinach and finely chop
  • Add the spinach, spring onions, ricotta and grated cheese to a large bowl
  • Crumble in the feta and mix well with your hands
  • Taste and season for salt and pepper, then mix through the lightly beaten eggs
  • Place two sheets of filo onto the bench, brush lightly with olive oil or melted butter and cut into three lengthwise strips
  • Place a spoonful of the mixture onto a corner of the filo strip making a triangle and keep folding the triangle over till all the filo is used
  • Brush the triangles with olive oil or melted butter and place on a tray covered with sprayed baking paper
  • Bake for 25 minutes at 180 degrees Celsius

Enjoy and happy cooking!
Inara

Inara Hawley © 2018

Cauliflower Pizza Base

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I’ve been wanting to try a cauliflower pizza base for ages, and as I had a big bowl of riced cauliflower and broccoli sitting in the back of the fridge that needed using up, the time had come. And surprise of all surprises, it worked perfectly! Why do I say that? Because I’ve heard of some monumental disasters.

So, I watched with some trepidation as it cooked in the oven, browning nicely. Then it was time to flip it. Would it work? It certainly did! I was amazed. And when out of the oven sitting there in all its topped glory, would it cut without crumbling? Well, it sliced beautifully, and we could even pick it up like a regular slice of pizza. To say I was impressed is an understatement. And of course, those of you who are wheat intolerant like me or into a Keto-based diet, it’s the perfect alternative. So here it is, and as you will see, there is a trick to it.

Cauliflower Pizza Base

Ingredients:  Makes one medium sized pizza base

  • 1 large egg
  • 5-6 cups cauliflower rice (I included broccoli rice)
  • 1 teaspoon of dried herbs of your choice
  • 1/3 cup soft goats cheese or 1/2 cup grated mozzarella/parmesan/vegan cheese
  • Salt and pepper to taste
  • Topping: Toppings of choice plus cheese of your choice

Method:

  • Preheat the oven to 220 C/450 F.
  • To rice the cauliflower, place washed florets into a food processor and blend until you’ve reached the required consistency.
  • Next, the cauliflower rice needs to be cooked for a short time to bring out the moisture. You can do it several different ways. Either on baking paper in a moderate oven for about 15 minutes, cooked for about 5 minutes in a covered pot filled with about an inch/3 cm of boiling water and drained, or heated in a large oil-sprayed pan on the stove, stirring occasionally to avoid burning (my choice).
  • When done, place a thin towel on a large plate or in a large bowl and spread the cauliflower out on top to let it cool.
  • Now this is the trick, but don’t do it while the cauliflower is hot. When cool to the touch, pull the ends of the towel together and twist the cauliflower into a tight ball, and then with all your might, keep tightening to squeeze out ALL the liquid. This takes quite a bit of strength and was too much for me, so I used a spatula – I squashed the liquid out of the ball onto the plate and drained it off. It was easier and worked well.
  • Next, in a large bowl whisk together the egg, dried herbs, salt and pepper.
  • Then add the cheese and cauliflower ball and mix well with a fork.
  • Place mixture on an oven tray covered with oil-sprayed baking paper, flatten and make it into the shape you want. The thickness should be 1/2 to 3/4 cm or 1/4 inch. Don’t make it too thin or you won’t be able to flip it.
  • Bake for about 20 minutes at 220 C/450 F until it’s nicely browned, then take it out of the oven, flip carefully with two spatulas and bake for another 2-3 minutes.
  • When it’s ready, add your toppings plus cheese and bake until the cheese is just how you want it. If you like it bubbly and you’re worried about the pizza edges burning, put it under a hot grill for a minute.
  • When done, carefully slide it onto a plate and slice.
  • NOTE: It’s fine to add a thin layer of tomato-based sauce before you add your toppings once the base is fully cooked – it won’t soften or cause the base to crumble.
  • NOTE: I haven’t done it, but apparently the base can be frozen.

So, there you have it – the all vegetarian pizza with a dash of cheese.

Happy cooking and enjoy!
Inara

Inara Hawley © 2018

Green Tomato Jam

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What’s a girl going to do with the last of the tomato crop after she’s already made enough tomato relish to last six months? Green tomato jam of course. I’ve never made it before, but as I discovered, it’s very easy and it’s also very delicious.

Green Tomato Jam

Ingredients:

  • 1 kg of small green tomatoes
  • 750 grams of white sugar
  • Juice of 2 lemons

Method:

  • Wash and cut the tomatoes into quarters – no need to peel
  • Place into a large bowl and add the sugar and lemon juice – mix well
  • Cover and set aside overnight
  • Next day transfer the contents and all the liquid into a large pot
  • Bring to boil and simmer for half an hour as it thickens stirring frequently
  • Allow to cool and transfer to sterilised jars or containers and freeze

Enjoy and happy cooking! 

Inara Hawley © 2018

Rich Tangy Tomato Relish

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Looking for a rich, tangy tomato relish? Well, this is it.

I never bothered making my own relish until Hubby needed to go on a low-sodium diet. I was stunned at how much salt there was in tomato sauce, which he loved, so started looking around for alternatives. The local cafe sold a nice enough relish without any salt, but when I looked at the ingredients, I thought…. hmm… I could make this. So, I found a recipe with the same ingredients and I made it. And it was OK – a sweet, tangy relish but a bit on the thin side.

Then… we grew our own tomatoes and what a difference. We had a bumper crop, but they were the small variety. The recipe calls for 4 kilograms and they need to be peeled, so I’d always bought large tomatoes, peeled and chopped them, and into the pot they went with all the other ingredients. But as these were small I couldn’t face all the peeling, so decided to roast them and squeeze out the flesh. Well, we all know how roasting intensifies flavour, but this was unbelievable. For a start, our tomatoes tasted a 100% better than what I bought at the greengrocer, and secondly, the roasted flavour was out of this world. So, here is my recipe.

Rich Tangy Tomato Relish

 Ingredients:

  • 4 kgs ripe tomatoes
  • 1 1/2 kgs white onion
  •  1 1/3 kgs sugar
  • 3 tbs curry powder
  • 4 1/2 tbs mustard powder
  • 1 2/3 litres white vinegar
  • 1 tbs cornflour
  • salt and pepper to taste

Method:

  • Roast tomatoes until soft, squeeze the flesh into a bowl and discard skin
  • Place the tomato pan juices into a saucepan, bring to boil and allow to thicken
  • Peel and finely chop the onions, place in a large pot and cover with the vinegar
  • Add the sugar and boil rapidly for five minutes
  • Add the tomato flesh and turn the heat down to a simmer
  • Combine the spices and stir into the relish mixture
  • Simmer gently uncovered for one hour, removing scum and stirring frequently to prevent burning
  • Add salt and pepper to taste at any time during the cooking process
  • When the tomato pan juices have cooked down add them to the mixture
  • After one hour the relish should have thickened, look rich and taste tangy
  • For the final thickening mix the cornflour with a little water to make a paste
  • Add a little hot liquid to the paste, mix well and stir into the relish
  • Add the paste to the relish and cook for 5 minutes stirring continuously
  • Either bottle into sterilised jars or place into containers and freeze

Enjoy and happy cooking! 

Inara Hawley © 2018

 

Veggie Egg Muffins

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This is so easy and simple that it doesn’t need a recipe, but the photograph is so appetising and they are so delicious, I decided to share it anyway. These are perfect for a quick breakfast, lunch or summer dinner with a salad.

Veggie Egg Muffins

Ingredients:

  • Half a small cauliflower, riced
  • One head of broccoli, riced
  • You can use any grated vegetable you fancy
  • A nice alternative is corn and grated zucchini
  • Vegan or dairy cheese – as much as you like
  • 10-12 eggs
  • 1/2 – 1 cup of oat milk
  • Seasoning to taste – salt, pepper, onion powder, parsley
  • Olive oil or butter

Method:

  • Place the riced cauliflower and broccoli in large mixing bowl
  • Note: if using grated zucchini, squeeze out the excess moisture
  • Add as much cheese as you like – vegan is less cheesy, but my choice
  • Spray a large 12 cup muffin trays with olive oil or grease with butter
  • Fill each muffin cup to 3/4 with veggie mix
  • Whip eggs well with oat milk and add seasoning and herbs
  • Fill each muffin cup with the egg mixture to nearly full
  • Then bake in a 180 degree oven for 20-25 minutes till nicely browned
  • And then eat ’em!

Enjoy and Happy Cooking!

(c) Inara Hawley 2018

Do You Buy Mayonnaise?

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Do you buy mayo? Well stop it! Making your own takes just 3 minutes. Truly, only 3 minutes including getting all the ingredients out, and it’s delicious! Plus, you won’t be adding to the recycle pile of glass or plastic with an empty jar of mayo every month.

So, are you ready? Grab the oil, vinegar, eggs, dijon mustard, salt and pepper, your measuring jug, teaspoon and stick blender, plus a wide-mouthed jar… and away you go!

Avocado Mayonnaise

Mayo Ingredients - Sunday MusingsJar of Mayo - Sunday Musings

Ingredients:

  • 3 egg yolks
  • 100 mls of avocado oil
  • 100 mls of olive oil
  • 2 teaspoons Dijon mustard
  • 2 1/2 teaspoons white vinegar
  • 1/4 teaspoon Himalayan Pink Salt
  • 2-3 turns of the pepper mill

Method:

This is the fun part. Put all the ingredients into your nice clean jar and whizz for about 20-30 seconds till blended and the consistency is just right. If it’s a little thick for your liking, add some cold boiled water and whizz again till you’re happy with it. It lasts about a week in the fridge, which is just about right in our house. Sometimes I make it twice a week depending on who I’m feeding.  So, pop it into the fridge, and enjoy!

So, there it is! I use it instead of butter on bread. It’s fresh, it’s delicious, and it’s lovely with boiled eggs or a salad sandwich. And… you can experiment with different oils. How cool is that!

Happy cooking! 

© Inara Hawley 2018

Raw Sauerkraut ~ Probiotic Heaven!

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Being European I grew up eating sauerkraut. My grandmother, bless her heart, was the one who supplied us with raw fermented cabbage. She made all manner of interesting pickles, including sauerkraut. We mostly ate it cooked, as a soup garnished with sour cream or as a side dish with pork. Both absolutely delicious, and while there is nutrition in cooked sauerkraut, as we all know, eating raw fermented cabbage is far better for one’s health, which is why I’ve decided to make it.

Health Benefits of Sauerkraut

A single serving of naturally fermented sauerkraut will not only restore your gut flora, it will give your body a bigger health boost than any probiotic drink or store-bought supplement. Being so probiotic rich, fermented foods are more easily digested. The fermentation process also increases certain nutrients, for example, sauerkraut has twenty times the bio-available amount of Vitamin C of raw cabbage. While fermented foods contain a high level of salt, therefore, best eaten as a condiment, the fermentation process cuts the sugar content of the food dramatically. All good news! Overall, fermented foods are a great support to immune function as they increase digestive enzymes, lactic acid, vitamins and omega-3 fatty acids, all of which aid in fighting off harmful bacteria in the body. For more specific health benefits of sauerkraut, you may like to visit Organic Facts.

What About Goitrogens?

In my reading about raw sauerkraut the only point to be aware of is that cruciferous vegetables, such as cabbage, contain high levels of goitrogens. These are substances that inhibit the uptake of iodine in the thyroid gland. This effect can be overcome by an increased dietary intake of iodine if the quantity consumed is only small. You can find a list of 22 iodine rich foods here. Cooking cabbage reduces the effect considerably, but as sauerkraut is a raw food it is not advisable to consume large amounts, particularly if your thyroid is compromised. If this is the case for you, you can add iodine based foods such as wakame or kelp to your sauerkraut recipe.

Making Raw Sauerkraut

Now, let’s get to how to make your sauerkraut. The short version is you shred the veg, add salt, squeeze the lot with your hands for five minutes to get a good puddle of brine, put it a sealed jar ensuring the contents are weighed down so the cabbage is completely immersed in the brine, pop it in a not-too-hot, not-too-cool spot, taste it occasionally, and wait from 1 week to 5 weeks depending on how tangy and crunchy you like your raw sauerkraut. Easy peasy! Now here’s the long version:

Naturally Fermented Sauerkraut

You Will Need:

  • 2 clean quart size wide-mouth glass jars with screw top lids
  • 2 clean small jars with no lids that will fit easily into the large jars
  • Baking paper

Ingredients:

  • 1 medium head of green or red cabbage weighing 2½-3 lbs or 1-1½ kilos
  • 2 carrots
  • 2 red apples – makes it sweet
  • 2-3 cloves of garlic
  • 1 tablespoon of salt which contains no additives
  • Optional additions: a few peppercorns, a bay leaf, sprinkling of caraway seeds

Method:

  • Discard the outer limp leaves of the cabbage. Remove and keep the next good layer for later use, then remove the core and slice the cabbage into thin ribbons. Peel and grate the carrots and apples, and crush the garlic. You will need 1¾ pounds or 800 grams of shredded vegetable in total. This is important as it corresponds exactly to the amount of salt you will be using.
  • Place the vegetables in a large bowl adding any optional flavourings.

Sunday Musings - How to Make Raw Sauerkraut

  • Sprinkle the mix with salt then squeeze the vegetables really well with your hands for about 5 minutes until you see brine forming. Cover the bowl with a towel, leave it for a few hours and repeat the process. By this time, you should have a good pool of brine.

Sunday Musings - How to Make Raw Sauerkraut

  • Now it’s time to pack it into your jars. Push the mix down firmly with your fist so that the vegetables are fully submerged in the brine.
  • Fold the baking paper about four times to the size of the bottom of the jar, place it on top of the vegetables and then put in the small jar, bottom down. You want the small jar to stick out of the top a little so that when you screw down the lid it pushes the vegetables down even further and ensures they are completely covered with brine. If you don’t want to use the small jars, you can push the vegetables down by filling the large jar with the best outer leaves of the cabbage until the sauerkraut is packed tight and covered with juice.

Sunday Musings - How to Make Raw Sauerkraut

The Fermentation Process

  • While air is a no-no for the fermentation process as it allows bacteria and mould to grow, you may have to screw the lid on loosely if there is only a small space between the vegetables and the top of the jar to allow any gases to escape. You may even need to pour out some brine if it overflows. This didn’t happen to me as my jars were larger than the recommended quart size and I had plenty of room for bubbling and rise and fall of brine.
  • Next, put your jars on a tray to catch any overflow, and then place it all in a spot with a fairly even temperature. The ideal is between 18-23 degrees Celsius or 65-75 degrees Fahrenheit. The brine will rise and fall with the temperature. Note that the higher the temperature, the quicker the fermentation.
  • If you’ve never done it before, watching it all is very exciting. During the first week is when the bubbling happens. After that, it settles down. Just make sure the cabbage mix is completely immersed in brine. If you notice the level of brine has fallen below the vegetables, dilute a tablespoon of salt in 2 cups of water and pour some over until the mixture is just covered.
  • If you see any mould, throw it all out immediately and start again. It’s never OK to scrape it out and keep going as many recipes recommend. There is more to mould than just what you see.
  • Start checking your fermentation for flavour after the first week. You can begin eating it anywhere from one week to four weeks. I decided to let mine go for five weeks. The longer it goes, of course, the more beneficial bacteria you will have. Once you are satisfied with the flavour, take the little jar and the paper out or the large cabbage leaves out, label it and put it in the fridge to stop the fermentation process. It keeps for a very long time, but it’s so delicious, it definitely won’t last for a very long time.

Raw Sauerkraut - Sunday Musings

  • Once you are comfortable making it you can begin to get a bit creative by adding different vegetables and flavours such as horseradish, turmeric, beetroot, ginger, fennel, hot peppers, onions, leeks, fresh herbs, raisins, currants, cinnamon, allspice, and lemon juice.

How to Eat Sauerkraut

And when it’s all done, it’s time to start eating it. The lovely tangy flavour goes with just about everything. It’s great in salads ~ really good if you add raisins as well. Also in hamburgers, hotdogs and sandwiches ~ goes very well with cheese, egg or tuna. It’s also delicious mixed with cooked vegetables, with an omelette as below, as a topping to soups, stews or pizzas, with sausages, added to Japanese nori roll fillings, or just as a condiment on your plate with a meal.

Sunday Musings - How to Make Raw Sauerkraut

So enjoy, and if you try any fabulous new varieties, please let me know in the comments below!

♥ Inara Hawley © 2016