Gluten Free Cinnamon & White Chocolate pappardelle with Creamy & Spicy Chicken Livers

Still on the Gluten Free path, this was another part of the a challenge I submitted as being GF. I have a LOVE / HATE relationship with chicken livers, I absolutely love chicken liver pate, however, I really battle with the texture of chunks of chicken liver.  It is purely mental, I know!  My family love chicken livers, so I often feature them in dishes.  The sauce was beautiful and velvet like and worked perfectly with the pappardelle. Best part – this is a really budget friendly dish.

Gluten Free Pasta Dough

2 cups gluten free flour
2 eggs
1 tsp baking powder
1 tsp salt
4 tbsp oil

Place the flour on your work surface.
Make a well in the middle; put the eggs, salt, baking powder and oil into the well.
Using your fingers, slowly combine the liquid and flour until a ball of dough is formed. If the dough is too wet add a tablespoon of flour. Because there is no gluten to work you do not need to knead this dough for too long, just until smooth.

Sprinkle some flour on your work surface.
Cut the pasta ball into four.
Working gently, roll out the dough, using a rolling pin, until it is as thin as it will go. (This is tricky so be patient)
Cut the pasta into thick strips, about 3cm thick, place on a plate and cover.

To cook the pasta, bring a large pot of salted water to a boil.
Place the pasta in the boiling water for 4 -5 minutes, when the pasta rises to the surface, take a little piece and taste it. You should be able to bite into it without it falling apart. (With gluten-free pasta, it’s a fine line. One moment it’s al dente, and the next it’s one big ball of mush, so watch the pot.)

Creamy & Spicy Chicken Livers

250g PnP Chicken Livers
1 tsp Robertson Cayenne Pepper
100ml PnP Cream
½ cup Fresh Parsley, chopped
45ml lemon juice
Salt
Pepper
2 tbsp olive oil
1 Knorr chicken stock pot
½ cup water
½ tsp Robertson ground cinnamon
2 blocks white chocolate

Clean and rinse the chicken liver, fry in a really hot pan with a little oil. Fry for 5 – 7 minutes. Add the onions and fry for a further 5 minutes. Add the lemon juice, sprinkle in the cayenne pepper, add the stock pot and water.  Stir gently and let reduce slightly. Add the cream and parsley, let reduce further until the sauce has thickened. Season to taste.

Sprinkle the cinnamon over the cooked pasta, grate 1 block of the chocolate on the pasta.  Top with the chicken livers and sauce.  Garnish with more grated chocolate and a dash of fresh lemon juice.

gluten free pasta dough

Tomato and Red Wine Braised Lamb Shank

During my 3 year stay in the USA, lamb made very few and far between appearances, I always asked why and got the same answer…it smells when cooking. Now I have always been confused by this statement, personally I cannot ask for a better aroma to flood through my house than when cooking lamb, whether it is in a stew or a roasting in the oven.

Slow cooked, family style food which brings comfort and warmth when you indulge, in my opinion, is my signature style.  This can be anything from my favourite lamb shank (or Springbok shank if you can find), to a melody of curries, the cooked to perfection oxtail, unhurried roasts or home baked breads , studded with olives, rosemary and coarse salt served with freshly made pâtés and preserves. Definitely not waistline friendly…however, I try to keep that balance of healthy vs. pure food bliss. During winter time, the later has the upper hand.

With us being in the midst of winter, there is nothing more comforting than sharing slow cooked lamb shanks, and a wonderful bottle of wine with family to shoo off the cold.

Tomato & Red Wine Braised Lamb Shank
serves 4

lamb shank plated

4 lamb shanks
300g flour
2 tbsp paprika
2 tsp salt
1 tsp ground black pepper
Olive Oil for frying
1 tsp white sugar
2 large onions, roughly chopped
2 cloves fresh garlic, finely diced
1 pkt celery, cleaned and roughly chopped
1 pkt carrots, peeled and roughly chopped
2 whole star anise
2 whole cloves
1 cinnamon stick
1 Knorr beef stock pot
¾ bottle of red wine (I used a Fairview La Capra Merlot)
1 can whole peeled tomatoes
1 pkt tomato paste
3 sprigs fresh rosemary
seasoning to taste

Preheat the oven to 150°C

In a plastic packet, mix the flour, paprika, salt and black pepper, place the shanks in – one at a time – and shake.  You want to coat the entire shank well with the flour mixture. Set aside.

In a deep, cast iron pot, heat olive oil over a medium to high heat, brown the lamb shanks.  Set aside.

Without cleaning the pot, fry the onions, carrots, celery and sugar until soft.  Add the tomato paste and garlic and fry further until you see the oil starts splitting from the tomato paste.

Add the star anise, cloves cinnamon stick and stock pot.  Stir before placing the lamb shanks in the pot.  Cover with wine and whole peeled tomatoes and add rosemary sprigs.  You want to just cover the shanks, if the wine doesn’t cover the lamb shanks, add some boiling water.

Cover the rim of the pot with flour & water glue (See Chef Note at the bottom of the page).  Place the lid on top and squash, you want to have a completely sealed pot which won’t let steam escape.

Place in the oven for 4 to 5 hours. This time may vary based on your oven, so use this only as a guide.  You want the shank to be so soft that you can just pull the bone out without breaking the meat apart.

Turn the oven to grill, take shanks out of the sauce and set under the grill.  Careful not to burn, you just want some colour on the meat.

Using a handheld blender, blitz the sauce, if it is not thick, place it in a pot and reduce, or to cheat, thicken with corn flour.

Serve with parsley & garlic mashed potatoes and vegetables.

 lamb shanks in pot

Flour & Water Paste:
This is a paste made from water and flour which create a type of glue which you can seal pots with to ensure that no steam escapes.  Use about 1 ½ cups flour, to about 3/4 cup  water, for the paste. You are looking for play dough type consistency.
Working on a floured surface, shape the dough into a long sausage shape, then press the sausage onto the rim of the casserole.

 

Pasta Arrabbiata – Great Pasta, Great Times…

Often simplicity makes the tastiest dishes, and when it comes to pasta, in my house, I always opt for simple. What makes any good pasta a great pasta – in my opinion, is the base tomato sauce. Cooking it for a long period, cooking out the acidity of the tomatoes is the secret, infusing all the flavors of the herbs.

With the addition of chili – “Arrabbiata” literally means “angry” in Italian, and the name of the sauce is due to the bite from the chilies.  Make it as hot as you want, or mild, depending on your likes.  I like mine to have a little punch, but I add extra chili in in the end as not everyone likes the heat.

Pasta Arrabbiatta

1 can whole peeled tomatoes
4 fresh tomatoes, roughly chopped
1 large onion, roughly chopped
1 tsp sugar
1 pkt tomato paste
½ house Fresh garlic
Fresh oregano, finely chopped
Fresh chillie’s – to the heat you can handle, finely chopped
2 tsp Basil Pesto
2 tbsp balsamic vinegar
1 Knorr vegetable stock pot
1l boiling water
seasoning
Grated parmesaan cheese
olive oil

**Add a few strips of crispy bacon if you wish to skip the meat free option

Preheat the oven to 200°C, place the garlic on a roasting try, sprinkle with coarse salt and olive oil.  Roast for 25 – 35 minutes. Remove from oven and let cool.

Squeeze the garlic out of the skins and set aside.

Over a medium heat, add a generous amount of olive oil and fry the onions off in a deep pot, sprinkle the sugar over the onions and cook for about 5 minutes.
Add the garlic, chillies and tomato paste.  Fry for a few 5 – 7 minutes, followed by the whole peeled tomatoes, oregano and seasoning.
Add the stock pot and water; drop the heat to a gentle simmer and let cook out for 2 hours. Stir sporadically to ensure it doesn’t burn.

The tomatoes should break up and become a thick sauce, however if you want to use a stick blender at this point to blitz up the sauce, do so now.

Add the basil pesto and balsamic vinegar and crispy bacon if you are using.

Boil pasta according to packet instructions, or best use freshly made pasta – find out here.

Mix the sauce and pasta together, add some grated paramasaan and you have a delicious meal waiting!  Traditionally you would sprinkle with parsley.

Pasta Ariabata

Now you guys get to weigh in!  Share with me your Favorite Pasta Sauce!

 

Thyme, Mustard & Crème Fraîche Baked St Joseph

St Joseph aka the Elephant Fish.  I had never heard of this before, which of course made me want to try it even more. I found this strange fish at my closest Food Lovers Market,  I was not sure how to handle it, fish is not that simple, you must treat certain flavours with certain types of fish otherwise you loose the true flavour of the meat.

After doing some research, and finally finding the info in a book from my father in law, I was educated with the information that the Elephant fish should be treated like Kingklip.

These fillets are rather large so 1 fillet could easily feed 4 people.

Thyme, Mustard & Crème Fraîche Baked St Joseph

 

st joseph fillets cooked

400g St Joseph fillet , cleaned and rinsed
1 tub Crème Fraîche
5 tsp Dijon mustard
2 tsp freshly chopped thyme
1 tsp lemon juice
1 tsp lemon zest
1 cup cheddar & mozzarella mixed, grated
seasoning

Preheat the oven to 240°C

Spray an oven proof dish, large enough to hold the fillet, with olive oil or run the bottom with butter, to ensure the fish doesn’t stick. You may have to cut the fillet to fit into the dish.

st joseph fillets

In a large mixing bowl, combine the Crème Fraîche, mustard, thyme, lemon juice, lemon zest and cheese.

Place the fillets in the dish and season.  Pour the mustard mixture over the fillets, ensuring that the whole fillet is covered.

Bake in the oven for 25 – 30 minutes.  This may seem a little excessive for fish, however the fillets are rather thick, so you will have to keep them in the oven for some time. If you are using different fish for this, you have to determine the time by the thickness of the fillet.

The mixture on top of the fillet creates a nice crust over the fish, with so much flavour however, personally I did not enjoy the texture of the fish or the flavour of the meat. It was a little to stringy for me, I am very picky when it comes to fish and sadly I enjoy boring old hake.

 

Beetroot, Bacon & Goat’s Cheese Tarte Tatin

I have had a *slight* obsession with beetroot (again) these last few weeks. My poor husband has gone from not touching beetroot to tasting here and there, to thoroughly enjoying THIS dish to “enough with the beetroot…PLEASE!!!”

I have baked, roasted, pickled and juiced beetroot in all weird and wonderful ways, with all types of combinations.  Out of all my experiments with beetroot, I have to say that, apart from beetroot juice, this Beetroot, Bacon & Goat’s Cheese Tarte Tatin was my favorite and will definitely make a reappearances on my dinner table.

Now…before we get right into the recipe, let’s examine why these little balls of red (sometimes yellow, sometimes white, sometimes stripped) happiness is so good for you.

The beetroot taste is described as sweet, earthy and tender to eat. It is grown in the ground and is related to turnips, swedes and sugar beet.

If you’re considering beetroot as one of your 5-a-day, it contains potassium, magnesium, iron, vitamins A, B6 and C, folic acid, carbohydrates, protein, antioxidants and soluble fiber.

Researchers have known for some time that juice may help lower blood pressure, but in 2010 UK researchers revealed that nitrate is the special ingredient in beetroot which lowers blood pressure and may help to fight heart disease.

People with very high blood pressure can end up being on multiple tablets, so a more natural approach could prove popular if the initial research results are confirmed.

Drinking beetroot juice increases blood flow to the brain in older people, which may be able to fight the progression of dementia, a 2010 study suggested.

Beetroot contains high concentrations of nitrates, which are converted into nitrites by bacteria in the mouth. Nitrites help open blood vessels in the body, increasing blood flow and oxygen to places lacking in oxygen.

 Beetroot, Bacon & Goats Cheese Tarte Tatin
serves 2 – 3

beetroot & goats cheese tart tatin

½ Roll Today’s Puff Pastry
3 tbsp brown sugar
1 tbsp butter
4 medium sized beetroots, cooked and thickly sliced into rounds
4 pieces streaky bacon, cut into quarters
¼  packet Goats Cheese
Balsamic reduction
Fresh Thyme, roughly chopped
salt
black pepper
egg wash

Preheat oven to 180°C

Roll out the puff pastry on a floured surface, cut slightly bigger than the pan you using to bake the tarte tatin in.

Add sugar and butter to a small, non stick pan, place over medium, heat and let caramelize. Swirl around the pan to ensure the entire bottom of the pan is coated in caramelized sugar
Remove from heat, place beetroot rings over the bottom of the pan, creating a nice even layer.
Place the pieces of bacon over the beetroot, season with black pepper and sprinkle with thyme.
Cover with puff pastry, tucking in the sides so the puff pastry fits snug in the pan.
Bake for 35 – 40 minutes until pastry is golden brown.
While still hot, carefully flip the pastry onto a plate, top with goat’s cheese that is just roughly broken up and season with salt and black pepper.

Serve hot or cold.

I added a little onion marmalade, you can find the recipe here, and drizzled with balsamic reduction.

Skinny Broccoli & Mozzarella Muffins

Breakfast, to me at least, is such a hassle.  Not for the reasons you are thinking, for me it is not about time or creativity, or how long will it keep me full for…for me it’s about deciding what I want to eat that morning.  Every morning is a challenge.

Do I want to be traditional and have eggs?
Do I want to pretend to myself that I am healthy and have a smoothie / juice?
Do I want to be boring and have toast?
Should I just have cereal, if I do, do I really want milk, should I use yogurt?

…all these questions go through my mind…and often I will just roll over and close my eyes, giving it a skip and have a cup of tea.  But now, I am on a healthy eating operation.  I will eat breakfast, I will exercise, I will make the right food choices and while doing all this…I will not be boring with my food.

Which brought me to today’s recipe

Skinny Broccoli & Mozzarella Muffins
serves 2

2 cups fresh broccoli, steamed and roughly chopped
40g mozzarella
2 whole eggs
2 egg whites
2 tsp fresh oregano
1 tbsp water
1 tsp balsamic vinegar
seasoning

Preheat the oven to 200°C
Spray 2 ramekins with Cook n Spray

Whisk eggs and egg whites together, add cheese and seasoning and balsamic vinegar, leave some cheese out to put on top to form a nice cheese crust when baking.

Place steamed broccoli into ramekins, pour in whisked egg mixture and bake for 25 – 30 minutes

I prepped everything and popped it into the oven while I got ready for work, by the time I was dressed I had breakfast ready and waiting.

Use whatever vegetables you feel like, and experiment with the herbs, use flavors that you enjoy and your mind wont go close to the

skinny broccoli and mozzarella muffins

The nutritional value of this recipe was created with Recipe Nutrition Calculator on MyFitnessPal.

Skinny Broccoli & Mozzarella Muffins calories

Monkey Bread – April I MADE IT Challenge

I was fortunate enough to host this months ‘I Made It Challenge”’, I settled for Monkey Bread.  I know a few people wonder…how do you get to that, how do you choose something as random as Monkey Bread? It was easy to be honest.  Firstly, I love Monkey Bread, I learnt about it while in the USA, secondly, I found a new product I desperately wanted to try which would fit in with this challenge, and thirdly, I wanted my fellow bloggers to think outside the box.

So I experimented with two different versions of monkey bread, one use a plain bread dough, the other using a sweet biscuit dough, which was store bought.

When you watch American sitcoms, you often see sad, depressed women eating cookie dough, straight from the can, I found a very similar product in my local Spar, which I just HAD to try.  To see if it was the same and all that…

Today’s Biscuit dough comes in 3 different flavours, Vanilla, Chocolate and Ginger, of course I wanted to add a little more depth to my Monkey Bread, so I used the Ginger flavour. This is so easy, that I can’t call it a real recipe!

todays biscuit dough

Ginger, Cinnamon and Nut Monkey Bread

1 packet of Today’s Ginger Biscuit Dough
1 cup brown sugar
3 tbsp ground cinnamon
Roughly chopped ground mixed nuts

Preheat the oven to 180°C

Line a muffin tray with cupcake holders (I got 6 out of this)
Throw away the empty packet of biscuit dough; the instructions on there will not work for this.
Defrost the biscuit dough, cut into small pieces and roll into balls.  You do not want it to big, but you also do not want it to small either.

Roll the balls in the cinnamon sugar mixture, and stack into the muffin cups.

In between the dough balls, sprinkle a few mixed nuts; I love the texture of the nuts between the layers of soft gooeyness.
Bake for 25 – 30 minutes, just until it is nice and golden brown.

Remove from oven, and now the fun starts.   You can glaze it with just icing sugar and butter mixture, or softened cream cheese.

monkey bread muffins

Those who know me, know that sweet treats are not my deal, so I had to make something savoury out of this challenge too!

Pizza Monkey Bread

Basic Pizza dough –  I use the Jamie Oliver Pizza Dough recipe, which is always a winner.
Homemade tomato sauce, which you can find the recipe here
Grated cheese – I used mozzarella and cheddar mixture
Bundt cake pan, greased with butter & flour (or cook n spray if you wish)

Now this is your creative side comes in.
Use your favourite pizza toppings; I had little bowls of already chopped toppings:
Ham, Salami, Mushrooms, Green Peppers, Peppadews, Danish Feta, Basil Pesto, Garlic, Camembert, Green Fig, Blue Cheese etc.

Preheat your oven to 200°C

Pull small balls off the pizza dough, mine weighed anywhere between 30g – 40g, roll them out and fill with your toppings of choice. Roll up the ball again and stack into the pan.

Between each layer, brush on some tomato sauce and sprinkle grated cheddar, the top later I made smaller balls, just to fit the bundt pan.

Once you have layered the bundt cake pan full, bake for 35 – 50 minutes, depending on your oven. Work on as if you were baking a bread from scratch. The time would be more or less the same.

I didn’t manage to get a photo of this one, but it was absolutely delicious, it was small stuffed balls of pizza happiness.

©-I-Made-It-150x150

I will do a round up of all the bloggers that have taken part in the challenge the first of the new month.  There are some great recipes!  There is still time to submit your Monkey Bread recipe!