Crustless Pumpkin Pie

Okay so Pumpkin Pie isn’t really a ‘Thing’ in Australia. But when you’ve bought a butternut at the farmers markets that’s the size of a human baby, finding ways to use it all becomes a challenge. Especially when you discover that the one kilogram you require for a hefty batch of Thai red curry pumpkin soup leaves you still with two thirds of said vegetable to demolish!

Food Fervour

yep, that’s my big butternut!

A friend once told me that pumpkin should only ever be roasted because “it brings out the flavour”. I discovered he’s dead right: the natural sugars caramelise and boost the veggie’s flavour incredibly. So I always roast it now, and often in quantities over and above anything I happen to be making at the time. That is to say, I roast extra so I’m prepared.

So, with a decent quantity of ready-roasted pumpkin chillin’ in the fridge, I ruminated upon its sweetness and wondered, “Could I successfully make a no added sugar dessert with it?” I considered how sweet the frittatas I made with it were. Could I make a kind of pumpkin ‘dessert’ frittata? That’s when I really began thinking about pumpkin pie… but I certainly didn’t want to have to make pastry for a pie crust. (Hell no! That’s way too much work!) Surely a blend of eggs, cream, some spices & that sweet roasted pumpkin could work?

A Google search for ‘crustless pumpkin pie recipes’ revealed (apart from all of the results being American websites) that their ingredients were pretty much as simple as I’d envisioned. Most of them however use (ugh!) evaporated milk, egg ‘replacer’ or ‘substitute’ and of course, added sugar. God Bless America!

Except for the cooking times (roasting the pumpkin & the final bake) this recipe is ridiculously simple and very time efficient. If you pre-cook the pumpkin as I did, you’ll save even more time. (Really, roasting excess vege is a great, healthy habit to get into; it helps you to stay ‘prepared’. You can save time and expand your meals options for salads, frittatas, risottos …but they also make a better choice of snack if you’re a regular ‘fridge visitor’ like me!)

Now, if you haven’t pre-roasted your pumpkin, the basic method is to preheat your oven to 200ºC, line a tray with baking paper then arrange skinned and roughly cut chunks of lightly oiled pumpkin (EVOO is fine even though you’ll be making a dessert… you won’t even notice the flavour after the roasting) and bake them for 20-30 minutes (depending upon the speed of your oven). Don’t burn them! If a skewer slides in easily & the centre feels soft, you’re done. It’s probably a good idea to let it cool a bit before moving onto the pie recipe.Food Fervour

Here’s what I used for my pie:

430gms of roast pumpkin, 2 eggs, 200gm pure cream, the following spices: 1 teaspoon vanilla paste, 1 teaspoon cinnamon, ½ teaspoon ground ginger, ½ teaspoon nutmeg, ¼ teaspoon ground cloves & a pinch of salt, plus 50gm pecans (optional). What’s also optional is to keep some maple syrup handy to add later if you don’t think the batter is sweet enough for you. (But don’t go overboard; the more you add, the runnier the mix will be…)

Preheat the oven to 180ºC and grease & line a baking dish/casserole dish or round cake tin with baking paper, then simply throw all of the ingredients into a food processor or high-powered blender and mix well. (Thermies: a couple of 10-20 second rounds on Speed 5-6, with some scrape-downs, should suffice.) Pour the ‘batter’ into your prepared receptacle and sprinkle with extra cinnamon, then cook for 40 minutes, or until a skewer comes out clean. Food FervourNB: Because I used a smaller (16x16cm) dish, my pie was thicker so I let it cook for almost an hour. Bear in mind that a thinner pie = potentially less cooking time.

Allow to cool a little before trying to remove from the dish. Slice and serve up with more cream …or just enjoy it undressed. 😛

Powerhouse Cauliflower Soup

This creation was the result of a respiratory infection. I’ve been working too much – around too many people – so my stressed immune system has given way to a lurgy.

A fellow workmate made me promise to get some ginger and turmeric into myself when I got home… trouble was, I wasn’t really hungry. So I did a quick Google search for “ginger turmeric vegetarian recipes” and when I struck upon a cauliflower soup recipe, the light bulb came on.

Food FervourGarlic, chilli, ginger and turmeric pretty much speak for themselves in terms of health benefits: everyone knows about them now, so it’s probably quite obvious why included them in this recipe. Coriander’s detoxifying role is lesser known by many, and the benefits cumin and fenugreek bestow on the respiratory system are pretty much a secret!

Since I was highly disinterested in expending a great deal of effort to cook, I turned straight to my Thermomix. They really are the best things to have in the kitchen when you lack time, energy and/or motivation. (This is not intended as a sales promotion, it’s my truth!) So please note: even though I’m providing a manual method for this recipe, you have to forgive me if it’s not what you expected because I’ve literally created this soup one time, and using my wonderful kitchen appliance.

Here’s what I threw in:

4 garlic cloves, pinch of fenugreek seeds, 1 onion, 1 celery stalk, 1 inch ginger root, 1 inch turmeric root, 20gm (1 tablespoon) coconut oil, 1/2 teaspoon ground coriander, 1 teaspoon ground cumin, 1 small red chilli (deseeded & finely chopped) 600gm cauliflower, 750gm (3 cups) stock OR Thermies use water plus 1 tablespoon veggie stock paste, salt & black pepper (this is a must: the piperine in black pepper aids absorption of turmeric’s ‘star’ ingredient by up to 2000% – you need that!) 80mls coconut cream

Thermomix Method:

Pop the garlic, fenugreek, roughly chopped onion & celery, ginger and turmeric in the bowl and set to Speed 5-6 for up to 10 seconds. Scrape down then add the coconut oil, cooking for 3 minutes on Varoma, speed 1.

Add the coriander, cumin, chilli, cauliflower, water and stock paste, seasoning with the salt & (lots of!) pepper. Cook for 18 mins on Varoma, Speed 1.

Finally, add the coconut cream then blend 60 seconds speed 9-10.

Manual Method:

Pop a large saucepan or stockpot on the stove over a medium heat and add the coconut oil. Roughly chop the garlic, onion, celery and tip into the pan/pot. Grate the ginger & turmeric fingers straight into the mix and toss in the fenugreek (you may want to employ a mortar & pestle to grind these little fellas down…) ground coriander, cumin and chilli. Cook for a few minutes, until the spices are fragrant and the veggies begin to soften.

Add the cauliflower, stock and season with salt and black pepper. Bring to a boil, then drop back to simmer for about 10 minutes.

Remove from the heat, add the coconut cream then blend in batches (take care: heat & blenders can be dangerous)

I had just roasted some cashews so garnished my soup with them and some fresh coriander. Just what the ‘doctor’ ordered!

Orange Salmon Salad

Gotta say, I’m pretty bloody pleased with this one. I’ve had salmon and orange together before but this will be memorable.Food Fervour

It began with my usual Google search: orange + salmon + salad + recipes. Most of the results were just marinades for salmon, not a complete meal, per se. But one in particular gave me an idea… and all it began with was orange and honey.

Now, I usually try to avoid adding sweeteners (even great natural ones like raw honey) where possible, but this marinade/dressing was going to need some, the way it was coming together in my head: orange rind can be quite bitter…

I started out by grating some rind from a navel orange (approximately one heaped teaspoon’s worth at a guess) then about the same amount of grated ginger. Cutting the top third from a navel orange, I hand squeezed the juice into a dish with the rind & ginger, then added a heaped teaspoon of raw honey, one teaspoon of tamari, and about a tablespoon of macadamia oil. After a good mix, I submerged my salmon steak in it. This began as the marinade but doubled as the salad dressing.

While the grill heated and the fish marinated, I scattered a mix of baby spinach, fresh basil & mint leaves on my plate, then grabbed some snow peas, celery, cucumber and cabbage out of the fridge. Popping the salmon in the grill, (skin side up) I set to finely chopping said veggies, then layered them over the greens.

I segmented the remainder of the orange as the salmon skin began to blacken, and after turning it over, decided to add a leftover avocado half, so sliced that and laid it on top of the salad pile. After placing the finished salmon steak on top, I scattered the orange segments and some roughly chopped up shallot greens, before dousing the whole thing with the remaining marinade. Then devouring.

It’s definitely the leaf combination and the dressing ingredients that made this dish so delicious. (I imagine a light sprinkling of crumbled feta would be fantastic too.) Whilst I haven’t provided a literal recipe here, I’d urge you to give it a go (in case you hadn’t noticed, the ingredients are all in bold typeface to give you a helping hand) because these flavours ….just amazing!

My Sore Throat Soother

I don’t get sick often. But I’m pleased that, becoming so well-acquainted with my body, I can now pre-empt an immune system crash. You truly need to learn to listen to your body…

I worked 22 hours over the weekend and could sense a composite energy pattern at play: I was stimulated by the social nature of the work (customer service…as well as entertaining my fellow workmates!) as well as the coffee I’d knocked back earlier in the day but then exhaustion was also discernible in some little mishaps (read: brain fog) and the loss of self discipline (poor food choices!) the further the shifts progressed. The physical ‘dead-giveaway’ was how dry my lips were, despite drinking heaps of water….

So upon waking with a sore throat in the morning, I’ve swapped out my usual cup of black tea (dehydrating caffeine) with the old lemon-water trick. But mine is a little different… because I (pretty much) always have “nutrient density” on my mind. It’s by no means an original idea to add honey and ginger to a hot lemon & water drink, for their flavour (honey tames the lemon, ginger’s fire combats the stinging throat) and health properties, but I have found that a little turmeric (one of the flavour-of-the-month ‘superfoods’) goes well too.
It actually happened by mistake: I’d been given a turmeric root that was very pale in colour (not the usual vivid yellow) so I kind of mistook it for my ginger bulb (I store them both in a container in the freezer). Luckily I didn’t use too much, and the result was quite palatable.

food fervourSo what I do is pop the kettle on boil, ‘shave’ thin slivers of frozen ginger and turmeric (more ginger than turmeric, for taste) and pop them straight into my mug. Pouring the boiled water straight in, the root spices have a little time to steep, while I collect and add half a teaspoon of (raw) honey, stirring to dissolve. Then I’ll cut and juice half a lemon, and it’s ready to drink (at quite a palatable temperature too, thanks to the ‘cold’ lemon juice) immediately.

Oh, the relief! Thing is, it tastes so good I sometimes opt for a mug of the stuff when I’m not feeling off-colour, and that certainly cannot be a bad thing! 😉

Caffeine-Free Spicy Chai Latte

I am totally addicted to the Chai I’ve begun making since owning a Thermomix.  I hesitate to say, I crave it more than coffee now! The problem is, it’s still relatively similar to espresso in terms of caffeine content and I’m not keen on consuming too much of that stuff. Why? Well, apart from a ‘negative’ genetic predisposition to it, I’m not fussed on the idea of ingesting too many stimulants on a regular basis.food fervour

So what to do when you’re craving a chai – or at least, a hot drink – late in the day?

Simply… leave out the black tea.

I didn’t know how it’d turn out, but… it certainly satisfied me. And being a little heavy-handed with particular spices, there was no question that it set a fire in my belly (and mouth!) and warmed me right up.

To give it a red hot go, gather together the following:

4-5 black peppercorns, 5-6 cloves, 1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon, 1/4 teaspoon ground ginger, 1/4 teaspoon garam masala, 1 heaped teaspoon vanilla paste (or essence), 1 heaped teaspoon raw honey, 300gm milk of choice (I used rice milk)

Place the peppercorns & cloves in the bowl and mill 6 seconds, Speed 9. Add the remaining ingredients and cook for 7 minutes @ 70 degrees, Speed 4.

Strain and enjoy immediately. It will warm you to your toes and you’ll still get to sleep later on!

Can you guess which spices I went too hard with? Please feel free to share any variations you might stumble upon as well.  🙂

Raw Carrot Cake with Lime Cashew Icing

I’ve had this recipe earmarked to try for quite some time now… but it was only this week I found the (time &) motivation. Included in a handout from a raw food demonstration I attended years ago, I’d filed it away in a cooking folder, to sit idly waiting for me to visit it.

food fervourWell, this week, it was Time. And I was impressed with the result. As usual, I made a few alterations to the original recipe (including halving all the amounts) and I believe there is yet more room for improvement!

Apart from a powerful blender (I used my Thermomix and later, to fine tune the icing, the Magic Bullet) you will need:

1 cup brazil nuts, 5 medium carrots, ¼ cup dates, ¼ cup maple syrup (I actually used ‘date water’ which isn’t as sweet as the syrup so you may find you could reduce this amount) ½-1 teaspoon grated ginger, 1½ cups desiccated coconut, ¼ sultanas, 1½ tblspns psyllium husk

Mill the brazil nuts first (TM: 10secs, speed 9) and set aside, then grate the carrots (TM: 10-15secs, speed 5-6). Next, blend the dates, liquid sweetener & ginger (TM: up to 30secs, speed 7-9). Finally, add in the nut meal, carrots and remaining ingredients and mix well (TM: approx 1min, speed intermittent (knead) scraping down then mixing 30secs, reverse speed 4). Empty the mixture into into a greased (coconut oil) lined dish (the mixture perfectly filled a 15 x 20cm stoneware baking dish I have) pressing it in and smoothing it over. Refrigerate, or freeze if you prefer.

For the icing, mill ½ cup raw cashews (TM: 10 secs, speed 9) then add approximately 2-3 tablespoons of maple syrup (again, I used date water instead) the flesh & rind of half a lime and a dash of coconut oil. Blend well (TM: 30-60secs, up to speed 8. You will need to scrape down a few times. This is where I transferred the mixture to my Magic Bullet short cup for a smoother consistency). Simply spread over the top of the ‘cake’ and refrigerate (or freeze) until ready to devour!

 

 

Raw Passionfruit Avocado Cheesecake

I’ve been admiring (& occasionally enjoying) the variety of raw cheesecakes that are slowly becoming more readily available at cafes and eateries, but had not bothered trying to make one even though I’ve been told many times that it’s ‘piece of cake’ (excuse the pun).

food fervourMy love of avocado has extended beyond its nutritional value because I’m now aware of its other ‘superpowers’! My first experience came with a green smoothie recipe. My how stuff ‘thickens up’ when you add this little dude to the mix! I noticed raw mousse recipes relied heavily upon avocado as well. That got me thinking about the texture and consistency of cheesecake.

Now I’m certainly by no means a pioneer in the avocado cheesecake world, but I can say it’s hard to find many raw cheesecake recipes on the net that employ ‘avos’ as the primary ingredient, which would indicate there’s heaps of room for experimentation. The vast majority use blended cashews as the ‘cream cheese’ base. I thought avocado would work because it’s naturally bland on the palate, but the PERFECT creamy texture.

Passionfruit isn’t necessarily a real favourite of mine, but they have been in season and moreover, they have a strong flavour …and a ‘tanginess’… which is what you find in an ordinary cheesecake. So I grabbed me some of ’em and got crackin’.

All 3 attempts were well received by a variety of tasters, but the last version was the best and it’s simply because I upped the amount of passionfruit. The stronger the fruit flavour, the better. But if you are going to play around here, I’ll just remind you that the more fruit, the more ‘wet’ the mixture = the less well the final product will set or hold together. (Think of fruit with maximum flavour, minimal moisture…)

I used macadamia nuts for the base (borrowing from a recipe from Jo Whitton’s Quirky Cooking blog) because I always associate them with the tropics (and passionfruit’s definitely tropical) but almonds worked fine in my initial experiment so be creative if you like!food fervour

For the Base you will need: 130gm macadamias, 70gm desiccated/shredded coconut, 8 dates & a pinch of Himalayan salt

Simply blend everything thoroughly in a high powered blender (Thermomixers 20 seconds @ Speed 9) then press the mix over the base of a well-oiled (coconut oil is best) springform cake tin. Note: this will make a thin base – if you like thick cheesecake bases I recommend you double the ingredients. Set aside (or refrigerate in warmer climates).

For the Filling, you will need: 2 large (or 3 small) avocados, 4-5 passionfruit (depending upon how strong you’d like the flavour) 4 tablespoons maple syrup or coconut sugar, 4 tablespoons (approx 60 gm) coconut oil (melted), 2-3 teaspoons vanilla paste, optional 1 banana &/or ½-1 teaspoon grated ginger

Again, this is simply a blending exercise. (Even with a Thermomix I found myself stopping and starting, to check consistency & taste and scrape down the mixture) Start with the avocados, sugar/syrup, vanilla & if using, the banana/ginger. Blend well (Thermies approximately 20 seconds, Speed 5) Add the passionfruit pulp, blending until smooth (Thermies 20 seconds, Speed 5 & you may use Reverse speed so the passionfruit seeds aren’t pulverised initially). Finally add the coconut oil blending well again (Thermies 20 seconds, Speed 9 gradually)

Empty the filling over the base, smoothing off as evenly as possible, then allow to set in the refrigerator for at least 20 minutes (or the freezer if you can’t wait that long!) Then serve and enjoy 🙂

 

Healthy Fried Brown Rice

Fried Rice rarely features in my diet, and you wouldn’t catch me dead buying it from a takeaway joint. But on the odd occasion, when I’m not so fussed about consuming a decent amount of starchy carbs… like tonight, after a couple of drinks with some girlfriends… I may be inclined to cook some up as an alternative to takeaway; a ‘healthy junk food’ option.

With some pre-cooked brown rice already in the fridge, this was a pretty easy cook-up for a slightly inebriated person. There’s a fair bit of variety in fried rice recipes but they pretty much all consist of rice, veggies and some protein, seasoned with ketcap manis (a thick, sweet soy sauce). So I happily pulled out almost every vegetable in the fridge, some eggs & bacon, garlic, ginger and a little turmeric to boot. Because of its sugar content however, ketcap manis doesn’t feature in my pantry, so I use Tamari (a wheat-free soy sauce) instead and hardly notice the difference.food fervour

The following makes 2 serves: 1-2 tablespoons coconut oil for frying, 2 lightly beaten eggs, 1 small carrot (diced) 1 finely chopped garlic clove, 1 teaspoon fresh grated ginger, 8 chopped mushrooms, 1 heaped tablespoon finely diced bacon, ½ teaspoon fresh grated turmeric, ¼ red capsicum (diced), 1-1½ cups cooked brown rice, 2-3 tablespoons Tamari (or to taste) 8 thinly sliced snowpeas, ¼ cup shredded red cabbage, ¼ cup broccoli florets, 1 large shallot (thinly sliced)

Firstly cook the ‘omelette’ by adding the beaten eggs to some of the oil in a frypan over a medium-low heat for approximately 2-3 minutes (until just set). Remove from the pan and set aside. Increase the heat to medium, add some more oil, the carrot, garlic & ginger, and cook for about 2 minutes, stirring. Add the mushrooms & bacon (more oil if needed at this stage) and cook until the mushrooms have softened. Add the turmeric and capsicum next, stirring for another minute before adding the rice, Tamari, snow peas, cabbage & broccoli. Stir fry for another 3 minutes, then roughly chop up the reserved omelette, adding it with the sliced shallot for another minute. Serve immediately.

Experiment with your ingredients. If you’re unsure what to use, Google a few recipes for ideas. You almost can’t go wrong!

 

Orange Almond Smoothie

Eden Health Retreat has a number of citrus trees scattered around the grounds so in winter there is quite a bountiful supply of oranges, grapefruit & lemons at our disposal.

With a couple of these oranges hanging around in my fridge, I decided to make a liquid version of a gluten free favourite: the orange almond cake. I had had lunch, and was hankering for a little dessert.

Thinking about an amazing green chai coconut smoothie recipe created by Jo Whitton (Quirky Cooking), I pulled together an idea for a rich drink that didn’t require ANY added sugars. And it worked. Warning: it’s very rich so you won’t need much. The following makes approximately 500mls; enough for two people. (Unlike this one, who guzzled it all down herself…and is paying the price!)food fervour

You’ll need: 50gm almonds, 1 orange (navel oranges are naturally sweeter) with all skin and pith removed, 60-80gm coconut cream, a pinch each of nutmeg & cinnamon, 1-2 teaspoons vanilla essence/paste, 200gm coconut water.

In a blender or Thermomix, mill the almonds into meal (Thermies 10 seconds, speed 9) then add all the remaining ingredients blending thoroughly (Thermies 1½ minutes, speed 9). Serve & consume immediately!

Since it’s winter here on the Gold Coast, I didn’t want to add ice, but in summer it would be an ideal addition. If need be, you could substitute the coconut cream & water with just coconut milk, but you’ll lose all the added goodness in the coconut water (higher concentration of minerals in that, than in the flesh, which is what the milks and creams are made from). You could also throw in a little fresh ginger for added nutrient value!

Quick Warm Salad with Avocado & Sautéed Bacon

food fervour

I wanted avocado but I wanted something warm. And of course I wanted a variety of veggies. But what protein?

I’m over throwing feta into everything. And then I remembered I had bacon in the freezer. Now I rarely touch cured meats because of the nitrates in them, but I always have some chopped up and stored in the freezer for the (very) rare occasion I feel like fried rice. Or a soup…or something. Like Matriciana.

Not that I’m into pasta either (especially since I went gluten free, and beyond that, choosing to avoid processed foods) but I know of that dish and know that bacon and chilli go well together. Oh, look at that! There’s some chillis in the freezer too, right under the bacon! With the frozen ginger and turmeric. “Right!” I think, “this will show you, Head Cold.”

Chilli likes broccoli too. And so do I. So it was all too simple.

food fervourI threw a de-seeded red chilli, a clove of garlic, a piece of turmeric and a piece of garlic in the Thermomix and chopped them up, then added the bacon and about 20gms olive oil and sautéed all that for 5 minutes. Meanwhile, I filled up & turned on the kettle, chopped up some broccoli and snow peas, then blanched them in a saucepan with the kettle’s boiling contents. I dissected and scooped out my avocado halves, chopped up some cherry tomatoes & a shallot, then drained the broccoli & snow peas and threw them on top of the rocket bed. I placed the avocado halves in the centre and scattered the cherry tomatoes around. The sautéed bacon & spices smothered the avocado and I sprinkled the shallots over the top. A decent hand-squeeze of half a bush lemon finished it off.

It took me less than 15 minutes to make, it tasted great and guess what? My nose has stopped running 🙂