Gluten Free Muesli Cookies with Dark Chocolate


IMG_4085I have just had the most wonderful time on Stradbroke Island. A little Island just off the coast of Brisbane that has been a holiday destination for years. This little piece of paradise is only accessible by ferry or water taxi and somehow in the hour it takes between mainland and the island your life changes for the better.

Stradbroke is a nature lovers paradise with kangaroos, birds of all types, dolphins, koalas and of course whales rolling by in the distance. The kangaroos really do hop down the main streets, so if you want to experience a true Australian adventure try and fit a trip to Stradbroke Island into your itinerary.

IMG_4274Strange things happen to me when I arrive at the beach. Suddenly I am ravenous and need to eat ALL the time. Not a great way to start a holiday where I am likely to be parading around in a swimsuit! Anyway I eventually gave into the need to eat and baked some muesli cookies. Being made of muesli and gluten free muesli at that, they would have to be good for you wouldn’t they?

I dipped them in dark chocolate as everything tastes better with chocolate. On the first day I think I ate four! I tried to slow it down a little after that. I’m sure the kangaroos that hopped into the back yard of the holiday house were attracted by the smell.

IMG_1088Recipe

If you don’t need these to be gluten free just replace ingredients with non gluten free ones.

Ingredients

2 cups of gluten free muesli

1 cup of toasted almond flakes

1 cup of gluten free flour

250ml of cream

1/2 cup of honey

1/2 cup of light muscovado sugar. (Billingtons does a great one).

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Preheat oven to 170°C. Line two baking trays with baking paper. Combine muesli and flour in a bowl. Simmer cream, sugar and honey together, until sugar is melted.

Add cream, sugar and honey mixture to gluten free muesli and flaked almonds and mix well. Set aside for 15 minutes. Roll spoonfuls of mixture into balls and place on trays, 3cm apart. Flatten.

Bake for 10 minutes. Swap trays halfway through. Cool for 10 minutes and transfer to a wire rack. Repeat with remaining mixture.

When cool dip in dark chocolate or dribble over.

Dark chocolate is just dark chocolate melted in a bowl over boiling water. When it’s runny it’s ready.

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Carrot cake and versions of it.


IMG_3465Carrot cake has a huge advantage over most cakes…. the word carrot! Somehow this gives the person enjoying each mouthful the excuse that it must be healthy as it is full of vegetables. It was a very popular cake in the 80’s and then just kind of hung around in the background for a few decades.

I have found a great recipe in a book called Boutique Baking by Peggy Porschen  This recipe always works and it allows me to change a few ingredients and make versions of mine own without changing the basics. I have include a few options, one where I add chopped prunes instead of pineapple which gives the cakes a lovely sweetness.

IMG_3459This Cake is a carrot cake double layered with cream cheese in between that I made for a little boy who is turning one tomorrow. It will have one of those tiny buntings that say Happy Birthday on it too. I will add a few photos from the party later this week.

So here is the recipe.

For the Cake Mix:

  • 140ml vegetable oil
  • 200g light brown sugar
  • 80ml beaten eggs (approximately 1½ small eggs)
  • 80g walnuts, toasted and finely chopped ( I used chopped roasted pecans
  • 320g carrots, peeled and grated
  • 280g tinned pineapple, drained and crushed (This can be replaced by 240 g of finely chopped prunes)
  • 290g plain flour
  • ¾ tsp bicarbonate of soda
  • ¾ tsp baking powder
  • ¾ tsp ground cinnamon
  • Pinch of salt
  • Seeds of 1 vanilla pod

METHOD

1. Preheat the oven to 180°C. Prepare the sandwich tins by greasing and lining them with grease-proof paper.To Make the Cake:1. Place the vegetable oil and light brown sugar in a mixing bowl and beat together. Beat the eggs lightly in another bowl and gradually add to the oil mixture until you get a smooth emulsion. Add the walnuts, carrots and pineapple and gently mix until well combined.2. Sift the flour, bicarbonate of soda, baking powder, ground cinnamon and salt together and add to the wet mixture in two batches. Mix together at a slow speed until the batter is just combined.3. Divide the batter evenly between the sandwich tins. If you find it difficult to measure by eye, use your kitchen scales to weigh out the amount of sponge mixture for each tin.

4. Bake for 40–50 minutes, depending on your oven. If you are using deeper cake tins, the sponges will take longer to cook. The sponges are cooked when the sides are beginning to shrink away from the edges of the tins and the tops are golden brown and spring back to the touch. If in doubt, insert a clean knife or wooden skewer into the centre of each sponge; it should come out clean.

5. Once the sponges are baked, let them rest for about 10 minutes outside of the oven. Once just warm, remove the sponges from the tins and leave to cool completely on a wire cooling rack.

6. Once cool, wrap the sponges in cling film and then rest overnight at room temperature. This will ensure that all the moisture is sealed in and the sponges firm up to the perfect texture for trimming and layering. When trimmed too soon after baking, the sponges tend to crumble and may even break into pieces

IMG_3442For the icing

Beat 120g cream cheese along with 150g icing sugar, and 25g softened unsalted butter.  Add zest of an unwaxed lemon, and 1 teaspoon vanilla extract and mix until smooth.  Leave this in the fridge to set for about an hour.

Then dollop a huge amount on the middle of the cake and spread over, trying not to pick up crumbs as you spread it. If you do make a mess cover the icing in nuts and it will be our little secret!

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Moroccan Meatballs


Moroccan recipes are some of my favourites. In Paris there are lots of great Moroccan restaurants to choose from. Even the Parisian markets often have a tagine or a chicken bastilla for sale. A chicken bastilla is a delicious parcel of chicken, slivered almonds and other wonderful ingredients, it is wrapped in filo pastry. If you ever see these for sale you must buy some because you are in for a taste sensation that you will always remember. I bought a bastilla at a market near Hotel De Ville in the Marias. I fell in love with it straight away, so many textures and flavours in the one bite.  I will put the recipe up another time but it does require a lot of work. These meatballs are much easier, you can serve these meatballs with cous cous or quinoa if you prefer a bit more protein in your diet or want to keep it gluten free.

Recipe

Ingredients

  • 500g lean minced lamb
  • 1 finely chopped onion
  • 2 garlic cloves crushed
  • 2cm chunk root ginger, grated
  • 1 tsp of chilli power
  • 2 tsp ground cumin
  • 1 cinnamon quill
  • 2 tsps of tumeric
  • good pinch of saffron threads
  • (If you prefer you can buy a packet of Herbies Tagine Spices and add a couple of tablespoons of this instead.)
  • olive oil
  • 2 pieces of preserved lemon (if you don’t have these just some lemon zest grated over the dish will do)
  • 2 x 400g tins of tomatoes
  • 200ml chicken stock
  • ½ bunch coriander, chopped
  • .If you would rather you can buy some Herbies Ras El Hanout and add these instead on individual spices, you will still need the garlic and ginger and fresh coriander.
  • I have added a tin of lentils to this sauce or you could add chickpeas or leave without.

HERB COUSCOUS WITH VEGETABLES

  • 200g couscous or quinoa
  • two tablespoons of olive oil
  • 350ml chicken stock, boiling
  • ½ bunch coriander , chopped
  • ½ bunch parsley, chopped
  • Olive oil to drizzle over

Method

    1. Put the lamb, onion, half the garlic, half the ginger and half the spices in a bowl and season well. Mix and form into little meatballs (you’ll make around 30).
    2. Heat 1 tbsp olive oil in a large non-stick pan and add the meatballs in batches, frying until browned all over. Scoop out, then add the rest of the garlic, ginger and spices and cook for 2 minutes. Add the tomatoes and stock and season. Simmer for 10 minutes, then place the meatballs back in the sauce and cook for at least another 20 minutes until sauce is thickened. Stir in the coriander. Save some coriander for serving to sprinkle on. You can leave this simmering until dinner time.
    3. To make the couscous, put it in a bowl with the olive oil and some seasoning. Pour over the chicken stock and cover with glad wrap. Leave for 10 minutes. Add cooked and chopped sweet potato or peas or carrot. Stir the herbs through and serve with meatballs. If you choose quinoa, you must wash the quinoa first, thoroughly and then gently simmer win the chicken stock and olive oil until softened. Add herbs before serving

*Note in the photos I have sprinkled with pine nuts, this is not necessary just made the photography look better.

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