because gluten-free food doesn't have to be rubbish

Posts Tagged ‘spinach


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This recipe as originally written was not long. It was not technical, or tedious, nor did it require any special equipment. However, in my drive to always reduce recipes to the lowest common denominator and strip out as many extra steps as possible I thought, in my wisdom, I could make it even easier. Toast the coconut, then tip it out of the pan onto some paper towel and add it back in at the end? What a fa-diddle. Far easier to just throw everything in together, I thought. And it was. Well, marginally easier anyway. But given I used a total of three saucepans for this meal, once the rice and spinach were cooked as well, and spent time carefully measuring out spices for the side dish, the extra step of toasting the coconut really wouldn’t have been too much effort. The result? I hesitate to say “ho-hum”, it was definitely better than that, but with crunchy coconut that actually tastes, well, of coconut, rather than slightly soggy coconut that tastes slightly soggy, it would have been even better.

Even without my mangling of the recipe this is a stupidly quick meal to prepare, almost criminally so, and if you keep a bag of frozen prawns in the freezer, one that can be thrown together (after the coconut’s been toasted I mean) without a trip to the shops.

Coconut shrimp with spicy spinach
Shrimp recipe adapted slightly from Steamy Kitchen Cookbook; Spinach recipe inspired by 101 Cookbooks

Use any kind of sweet spirit you have on hand for the shrimp, be it rum, brandy or even a splash of madeira (not technically a spirit, I know).

2 tablespoons desiccated coconut
250g prawns, deveined
3 spring onions, white and green bits, chopped
2 tablespoons brandy
1 tablespoon butter

Spicy spinach
1/4 teaspoon crushed chillies
1/2 teaspoon cumin seeds
1 teaspoon black mustard seed
1 clove garlic, minced
1 tablespoon butter
400g spinach, rinsed and spun or patted dry

1. Set a frying pan over a high heat and add the desiccated coconut. Toast for about a minute, or until middling to dark brown. Don’t allow it to burn though, so give the pan a few good shakes while the coconut is cooking to make sure it gets evenly browned. Tip the coconut out of the pan and set aside.

2. In a small saucepan place the crushed chillies, cumin seeds and black mustard seeds. Toast over a medium heat for about 2 minutes, or until the mustard seeds start to pop. Don’t let the spices burn. Add the butter and the garlic to the pan, cook for another 30 seconds or until the butter is just melted and starting to bubble, then add the spinach and pat down with a spatula so as much of it is as close to the heat source as possible. Leave the spinach to cook for a couple of minutes, stirring occasionally so the spices don’t burn on the bottom of the pan, until the spinach has just wilted down into what looks like a ridiculously small volume. Remove from the heat immediately.

3. Return the frying pan to the heat, add a drizzle of oil and when it starts to shimmer add the prawns. Cook quickly over the heat for about a minute, give the pan a shake to turn them over and cook for another minute. Add the spring onions to the pan, cook for a further 30 seconds then pour in the brandy. This should sizzle and steam and then bubble down into a sticky saucey glaze, in the space of about 30-45 seconds. Once the brandy has turned into said sticky, saucey glaze add the butter, give the pan a stir or a shake until the butter has melted, then add the toasted coconut back in. Give the pan one final shake and stir, so the coconut is well mixed in, then serve the shrimp immediately with jasmine rice, and the sticky, saucey glaze drizzled over the top, with the spicy spinach on the side.

Serves 2.

Written by guffblog

24th June 2011 at 18:43

Posted in Fish and seafood

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Chive flowers

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Tis the season for chive flowers and oh what wonderful things they are. I love edible flowers, I think it’s so cool you can have this pretty floral thing on your plate *and* eat it and chive flowers have the added bonus of tasting amazing. They start off sweet and a little dry and crunchy on the tongue and you wonder if they are edible actually, or are going to taste like bland pot pourri, and then the flavours open up and they taste sweet and slightly oniony and then as you chew a bit more you get a really spicy oniony hit from the seeds inside. Delicious, and a beautiful lilac colour. They don’t last long so make the most of them now if you have a clump of chives outside. If you really don’t know what to do with them use them as an edible garnish, but this salad is the perfect place for them, with lots of contrasting colours.

Cranberry and almond quinoa salad with chive flowers
Adapted from Melissa W via Dinner with Julie

100g quinoa
75g dried cranberries
3 tablespoons flaked almonds
10 sping onions, diced
Small handful of spinach, shredded
Small handful of chive flowers
Juice of half a lemon
1 tablespoon light olive oil

1. Cook the quinoa in 250ml water, or chicken stock for about 10-12 minutes, or until the water is all absorbed and the germ separates. Drain off any excess water and leave to sit on the hob for 2-3 minutes under a lid to steam; this will make for fluffier quinoa.

2. Add the cranberries, almonds and spring onions to the quinoa and toss well with a fork. Whisk the lemon juice and olive oil together with some salt and pepper. Just before serving add the spinach and chive flowers to the quinoa, pour the dressing over the top, mix well and serve up.

Serves 2. This is delicious hot but would work well cold as well. If serving cold add the spinach when the quinoa is fully cooled, so it doesn’t wilt.

Written by guffblog

26th May 2011 at 19:02

Posted in Salad

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How to avoid getting frittata all over your kitchen. Step one: butter your pan well. Step two: make sure the pan is nice and hot before putting any ingredients into it. Step three: once the base of your frittata is cooked sprinkle the top with cheese and place under a preheated grill to finish it off. This dispenses with the need to flip it, pancake-like, in the pan. Step four: having done all these things don’t mess it up at the final stage. Make sure you place a plate over the pan and simply upend the frittata onto the plate. Take extra care not to separate the plate and the pan until the frittata has transferred from the one to the other, otherwise you are likely to end up with egg and potato all over the floor.

Potato and spinach frittata

I am personally a big fan of the surprise cooked cheese which ends up on the bottom of this frittata once served. However, you can either serve the frittata right-way up so that the cheese is on top, or add the cheese once the frittata has been sliced and served.

5 small new potatoes
1 small white onion
Couple of handfuls of chopped spinach
4 eggs
2 tablespoons milk
2 tablespoons grated cheddar cheese

1. Bring a small saucepan of water to the boil. Slice the potatoes into thin (1cm thick) discs and boil for 10 minutes, until just tender.

2. Meanwhile fry the onion in a tablespoon of oil in an ovenproof skillet or frying pan until translucent. Add the potatoes and spinach to the pan.

3. In a jug whisk the eggs with the milk and salt and pepper. Pour this into the pan, over the potatoes and spinach and leave, undisturbed, over a medium-high heat for about 6-7 minutes, or until bubbles are visible on the surface of the frittata, and there is only a thin layer of liquid egg on top.

4. At this stage sprinkle the cheese over the top of the frittata and put it under a preheated grill for 2 minutes, or until the top is turning a fairly dark brown in colour and the cheese has completely melted.

5. Using oven gloves (I always forget the oven gloves when taking saucepans or frying pans out of the oven) remove the frittata from under the grill. Place a plate over the mouth of the pan and invert the frittata onto the plate. Slice and serve with more fresh spinach on the side.

Serves 2.

Written by guffblog

30th January 2011 at 12:52

Posted in Main courses

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Favourite salad

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I’m not sure if this even really counts as a salad. The greenery in it is more of a token than a real feature. The chorizo is the key player here, followed quickly by sweet carbohydratey goodness and, oh yes, cheese. Little wonder then this is by far my favourite salad in my repertoire. That and its simplicity. Oh and the fact it warms the house up by using the oven, and warms you up by being, well hot. All-round winner.

Chorizo, feta and sweet potato salad
Adapted, ever-so-slightly, from Gourmet Chick, with acknowledgement to Jill Dupleix (I’d link to the original recipe in The Times but since they started charging for their poorly edited and unexciting content I can’t access it. Oh well. I’m fairly sure that in issues of digital copyright and online plagiarism it’s the thought that counts, right?)

Gourmet Chick’s recipe uses 6 sweet potatoes to only 150g of feta cheese. Now I can’t comment on the size of her potatoes but the only ones I can find currently are capable of feeding a family of four for at least a week, so I’m only going with one in this recipe.

1 large sweet potato (I’d estimate it was at least 300g, probably bigger)
2 tablespoons light olive oil
12 mini chorizo cooking sausages, halved (250g)
150g feta cheese, cubed
150g baby spinach leaves

1. Wash the sweet potato and cut it into medium-sized chunks (a couple of inches in each dimension). Place on a baking tray and drizzle with olive oil. Sprinkle with a good handful of salt and ground pepper. Roast in the oven at 200 C for 20 minutes

2. Take the tray out of the oven and add the chorizo. Return to the oven for a further 15 minutes.

3. Arrange the spinach leaves on 3 plates. When the sweet potatoes and spinach are done place these on top of the leaves. Crumble the feta cubes on top of the potatoes and chorizo and finally drizzle all the lovely, orangey juices that will have collected on the baking tray all over everything. It will make the salad look super pretty as well as tasting amazing. Eat straight away.

Serves 3.

Written by guffblog

4th December 2010 at 20:13

Posted in Salad

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First bowl

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Ah Autumn. Here at last. Blustery gales; big fat rain drops sputtering out of the sky; chilly mornings with a dusting of mist. And soup. Oh yes, one of the many delights of autumn is the excuse to eat lots and lots of soup. Not that you can’t make it at other times of the year, it just seems somehow fitting to warm up inside after getting drenched, or buffeted about by winds that can’t make up their mind, with a nice, steaming bowl of soup.

And what better way to mark the start of autumn than with the first bowl of soup of the season. Warming and hearty this one is (two words which in my opinion are overused with regards to autumnal eating but in this case are indeed fitting). Fortunately I have not yet suffered the first lurgy (cold/flu/general disgusting debilitating virus) of the season so I don’t yet have to resort to I’m-feeling-sorry-for-myself-and-am-too-ill-to-even-chew-properly chicken consommé. No, this is a meal in a bowl. A big meal, in a big bowl. I realise many people have issues with soup because they don’t see it as a proper meal, it’s just a starter. To which I can only say they have been choosing the wrong recipes. Look at this. You’ve got your potatoes, meat, lots of veg, but it’s plumped up by the added bonus of lots of hot, salty broth that’s full of flavour. Waaaay more interesting than just meat and two veg.

Ok, next issue, stock. Yes you really should make it yourself, it’s so easy there is no excuse not to. However, it does take time, if not very much brain power, and you do need space in your fridge/freezer to store it. So if you happen not to have eaten an entire chicken recently, and saved its bones for stock, or you have run out and been remiss in making more to keep in the freezer (cough, guilty) then ready-made stock is just fine. I won’t tell. The big tubs of liquid stock you can buy from the fresh aisle at the supermarket, close to the ready-made gravy are the best. But if you’re a really, really terrible person who hasn’t had the foresight to even buy one of these (cough, guilty again) then a stock cube will work too. The flavour of the stock is less important in this recipe, as the sausages impart quite a lot of flavour themselves.

Sausage and spinach soup
Adapted from Pinch My Salt

You can add any combination of vegetables, or indeed meat to this soup. The original recipe used barley – well obviously that’s not going to work* – but another grain such as some cooked rice could bulk it up, or alternatively some lentils or beans.

1 medium white onion
2 cloves garlic
1 large carrot
2 medium white potatoes
2 sausages, cooked and cooled
2 large handfuls (100g) spinach
500ml stock
Salt, pepper and herbs of your choice to season

1. Finely slice the onion and mince the garlic. Saute gently over a medium heat in a splash of vegetable oil in a large saucepan for 5-8 minutes, or until translucent.

2. Wash and chop the potatoes into 2″ cubes and add them to the saucepan. And the sliced carrot too, and stir for a minute or so, until all very lightly coated in oil.

3. Add the stock (you may want more depending on how soupy you want your soup to be) and bring soup up to a simmer for 15 minutes. Meanwhile, slice the sausages into small chunks (you can remove the casings if you prefer, though I didn’t bother). Add to the soup and stir.

4. Taste the soup and season well. After the soup has been bubbling gently for about 20 minutes check the potatoes are done, and mash a few of them lightly into the soup with a fork, to give it a slightly thicker texture.

5. Add the spinach to the soup and stir for a minute or two, just until the spinach is starting to wilt. Then serve immediately.

6. Garnish bowls with fresh herbs if you like (I used a handful of chopped chives) and serve with hot bread smothered with butter.

Serves 2. Although they were quite big bowls. Could definitely feed 3 if you’re not greedy like me 🙂

*If you’re scratching your head at this comment, barley contains gluten and is on the verboten list. Boo.

Written by guffblog

29th September 2010 at 06:53

Posted in Soup

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