13 February 2010

Red Velvet Valentine Cupcakes

dairy free egg free nut free

I have a number of cake recipes on this blog that can be easily substituted for cupcakes (Perfect Chocolate Cake and the Lamington sponge) but I must confess: I am still not completely satisfied with the vanilla versions. While I continue to battle the kitchen for a moist vanilla version that rises and STAYS RISEN, my chocolate cake recipe is, luckily, ideal for these cupcakes.

Red velvet cake is an American tradition - vanilla sponge with a dash of cocoa and  red food colouring. They possibly originally used beetroot juice which would be the more natural option, and better for those with sensitivities to artificial colours. Red velvet cake goes very nicely with cream cheese frosting and a sprinkling of coconut (I bought some organic and preservative-free shredded coconut - I thought preservative-free coconut was a myth to be honest, it's virtually impossible to find!)

And yes, it's also Valentine's Day. If you give a damn, these are perfect.

Makes 12 (at least)

170g plain flour
200g caster sugar
30g cocoa powder
1/4 tsp salt
1 tsp soda bicarbonate
225ml rice or soy milk
50ml vegetable oil
1 tbsp white vinegar
1 tbsp vanilla extract
4-5 drops of red food colouring (natural or otherwise!)

Dairy free 'cream cheese' icing
65g dairy-free margarine (Nuttelex)
125g Tofutti cream cheese (dairy free), softened
1 tsp vanilla extract
2 cups icing sugar, sifted

Preheat oven to 180 C. Line a 12 hole muffin/cupcake tray with cupcake liners.

Sift together in a large bowl the flour, sugar, soda bicarb, cocoa and salt. In a separate bowl, mix together the milk, oil, vinegar, vanilla and add to the dry ingredients, mixing well until smooth. Add red food colouring and mix again until all combined.

Fill cupcake liners 2/3 full and bake in the oven for about 10-12 minutes, until risen and firm to touch. Cool in tray for 10 minutes then turn onto a wire rack to cool completely. Decorate with dairy-free cream cheese icing and sprinkle with shredded coconut.

08 February 2010

Moroccan Chicken with Preserved Lemon and Green Olives

dairy free egg free nut free

I am currently fortunate enough to have a jar of home-made preserved lemons given to me by the lovely Sheena, as well as a monster barrel of Spanish green olives. This means I have made this dish twice now and I look forward to enjoying plenty more!  I don't have a tagine, but a Le Creuset dutch oven or any heavy bottomed stove top pot is perfectly acceptable. This is truly a delicious combination and is considered to be Morocco's national dish.

It's so damn good, even the baby was smacking her lips!

Serves 6

4 garlic cloves, thinly sliced
1 cup flat-leaf parsley, finely chopped
1 cup coriander, finely chopped
1 tsp ground cumin
1 tsp ground ginger
1 tsp ground coriander
1 tsp saffron threads (or if you don't have them, turmeric)
1/2 cup olive oil
1 large chicken jointed, or 8 chicken thigh fillets
2 onions, thinly sliced
juice of 2 lemons
1 preserved lemon, cut into strips
20 green olives
(I peeled the olives - you could leave them whole if you don't mind navigating the pips while eating, or you could use pipped olives)
To serve: steamed couscous

Place garlic, parsley, coriander, cumin, ginger, ground coriander, saffron/turmeric and half the oil in a large bowl and combine well. Add chicken and coat with marinade. Cover and refrigerate for at least 1 hour.

Heat remaining oil over medium heat in a tagine or large dutch oven/casserole dish, add onion and lemon juice and saute for 5-7 minutes or until softened. Transfer to a bowl. Remove chicken from marinade and saute for 5-7 minutes or until golden brown. Return onions and remaining marinade to pot, cover with 200ml water. Bring to boil then simmer over low heat for 50-60 minutes. Stir in preserved lemon and olives and simmer for another 15 minutes or until sauce thickens and chicken is tender.

Serve with couscous.

Recipe courtesy of Gourmet Traveller.

06 February 2010

Beef Stroganoff

dairy free egg free nut free

Do we look down on Beef Stroganoff? Maybe if it wasn't synonymous with packet mixes and food court bain maries, some of us might be more inclined to recreate this 19th century Russian dish. It may not be in vogue, but when you are allergic to dairy, the desire for 'creamy' dishes can verge on the obsessive.

To make this super delicious, ensure you flour and paprika the beef pieces well and sear them in a very hot frying pan for about 15 seconds each side and set aside. They should still be pink inside when you take them out - so given they are sliced thinly, they do only need about 15 seconds. If that!

For the sour cream, you can experiment with two versions - one using Tofutti sour cream which is very tasty and I don't think anyone eating it would know you were using a soy-based substitute. If however you want the less processed version (we try to eat Tofutti sparingly), you can substitute with coconut cream. You will however need to add a bit of tang or saltiness via a couple of tablespoons of Worcestershire sauce or soy sauce or even Thai fish sauce. Don't worry, it won't end up tasting like any of those things. 

(Another option might be to add 1 tablespoon of vinegar or lemon juice to one cup of coconut cream. I read somewhere recently that this is how you would make your own buttermilk - which is a sour version of regular milk and used in baking - but it might have the same effect. If anyone is game to try it, please let me know!)

This recipe was originally adapted from Delicious magazine. Some versions do include tomato paste and the traditional way to eat Stroganoff is with dill pickles and boiled potatoes. I went the Westernised version (rice) so as not to scare anyone off.

600g fillet steak, thinly sliced
3 tbsp flour, seasoned with salt and pepper
1 tbsp paprika (to be honest, I went a little heavy handed on the paprika and I think it is the better for it - go 2 tbsps!)
2 1/2 tbsps olive oil
1 large onion, finely sliced
2 garlic cloves, crushed
2 tsp chopped thyme
250g button mushrooms, sliced (or about 4-5 large field mushrooms)
1/4 cup brandy or dry sherry (optional)
300ml coconut milk
1-2 tbsp fish sauce

Toss meat in a bowl with flour and paprika to coat. Heat oil in a large frypan over high heat and fry steak quickly in batches for 1 minute or until seared on all sides. Remove and set aside. (This part is really important, especially if you have gone to the effort of buying fillet steak - you do not want chewy meat!)

Reduce heat to medium high, add a bit more oil and onion and cook for a minute until the onion starts to soften and colour. Add garlic and cook for 30 seconds, then thyme and mushrooms and cook for 2 minutes. Add brandy and allow to bubble for a further minute (optional). Stir in coconut milk and fish sauce and allow to simmer for 10 or so minutes. Add steak and any meat juices, simmer on low for a further minute.

Serve with rice.