Wednesday, June 18, 2014

GINGERBREAD AND PEAR PUDDING CAKE FOR THE WINTER SOLSTICE



BECAUSE IT'S COLD OUTSIDE



Dairy Free, Low Gluten Gingerbread and Pear Pudding Cake with a Lemon Custard Cream

It must be the cooler winter weather, but I've been doing a fair bit of baking lately - something wholesome and nourishing for a little treat each day. There's the very quick to throw together Gingerbread and Pear Pudding Cake above (freezes brilliantly), the Lemon Meringue Pie below for my daughters birthday a couple of weeks ago (which lasts brilliantly because that Italian Meringue is so stable) and a couple of weeks before that, this hearty Pumpkin Bread. Both the LMP and Pumpkin bread recipes are in Wholefood Baking. 






I'm usually having that little something sweet as I sit at my desk mid morning - I'm head down, rugged up as I work on a new book (will be some time off before it gets to the shelves) and it's a delicious and warming part of my day. This isn't going to be a long post, just a hello and would you like the recipe for that delicious Gingerbread and Pear Pudding Cake ? It would be perfect for the solstice this coming weekend. Serve it warm from the oven, or if left over, warm it up a bit before eating. And the Lemon Custard Cream - a little dairy free number, but if you'd prefer to make a dairy lemon custard, go for it. Just make sure you get something lemony with it... lemon and gingerbread is a gorgeous combination. And the stand mixer below ? It is a toy that belongs to my nieces children. LOVE IT. A little bit of whimsy, but I love the colour and that it is wooden (and not plastic) and basically gorgeous.






I love winter, love the solstice and love the wild and windy winter weather that accompanies it. I find it a time to turn inward, reflect and hopefully become a little more balanced - a never ending journey I know, but one that I find deeply meaningful. With such short days, and the cold and wind outside, I find a little piece of this cake all warm and puddingy, to be deeply delicious to both body and soul. 



GINGERBREAD AND PEAR PUDDING CAKE
Dairy Free, Nut Free and Low Gluten

This delicious cake is based on a recipe by one of my favourite wholefood chefs Myra Kornfeld. I've loved and admired her work over many years, especially this recipe and made a quite a few changes to it along the way. With regard to the Oatmeal, in Australia I use the Four Leaf brand, in the US Bob's Red Mill calls this Oat Flour. Basically you want some bran and germ. At a pinch you can buy rolled oats (stabilised/steamed) and grind them to a rough meal. Make sure the brand of rolled oat is not too  dry. I am considering marinating raisins in some Pedro Ximenez and using them in the cake as well/or instead of the pears. Please remember I use 20ml tablespoons.

1 cup / 135gm oatmeal 
1 cup / 130gm unbleached white spelt flour
1/2 teaspoon bicarbonate (baking) soda
3/4 tablespoon ground ginger
1/4 teaspoon ground cloves
1/4 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1 generous tablespoon (or more) glace ginger, roughly chopped
1/2 cup /125ml  melted coconut oil (full flavour)
1/2 cup/ 125ml  maple syrup
1/2 cup molasses
3 tablespoons brown rice syrup/ 60ml  (I prefer the Spiral brand)
2/3 cup / 160ml coconut milk (full fat)
2 eggs
3/4 tablespoon apple cider vinegar
2 teaspoons natural vanilla extract (I use Heilala
2 - 3 medium pears, peeled and cut into thick slices


Pre heat oven to 180c or 165c if fan forced. Line a 20cm square cake tin.

Add the oatmeal, spelt, baking soda, ginger, cloves, cinnamon and glace ginger into a mixing bowl and whisk through to distribute the ingredients. In another bowl, whisk together the coconut oil, maple syrup, molasses rice syrup, coconut milk, eggs, vinegar and vanilla. Before you add this to the dry ingredients, peel and slice the pears. Add the wet to the dry ingredients, and stir through until combined - it will be a wet mix. Pour into the baking tin and press the pears into the mix. 
Bake for 40 - 50 minutes or until a skewer inserted into the middle comes out clean. Remove from the oven and serve as desired. 

A DAIRY FREE LEMON CUSTARD CREAM

2 cups (500ml)  rice milk (or 1 of coconut and 1 of rice, or include almond milk as desired)
1/3 teaspoon agar powder
1 1/2 - 2 tablespoons (30 - 40 ml) maple syrup
1 tablespoon kudzu (or cornstarch)
finely grated zest of one lemon
30 - 60 ml lemon juice
1 teaspoon natural vanilla extract


Add the milk, 30ml maple syrup to a small pot and whisk in the agar well. Bring to a gentle boil and simmer for 8 minutes (from the boil) on a very gentle heat. Stir often as the agar will sink to the bottom and stick. 
Meanwhile, mix the kudzu and 1/4 cup (60ml) water to a smooth paste. When the agar is ready take it off the heat and whisk in the kudzu slurry - it will thicken immediately. Return to the stove and stir constantly until it comes to the boil. Remove from the heat and add lemon zest, 30ml lemon juice and vanilla. Stir through and taste, adding more lemon juice as needed. Pour into a bowl and cover, place in fridge and cool. Add what will be fairy thick and set mix to a food processor and blend until silky smooth - this will take at least 5 minutes. 








Thursday, May 29, 2014

Forget The Green Smoothie


IT'S CALLED A SALAD, WITH A DRESSING


EVOlive Oil Mayonnaise and Yoghurt Dressing with Seasonal Herbs

Once upon a time, when by all accounts and my life experiences, people were healthier and happier than they are now, food and life was a lot simpler. I'm talking about my parents generation - those in their 90's, many still living independently - though now needing help - and vibrant lives, those that lived simpler and less complicated lives. We hear often, that the young generation today is the first generation in a very long time considered to have a shorter life span than current generations, and that we are sicker and unhappier than ever. Somehow my mum, and those of her generation managed it all without the green smoothie or green smoothies with chia seeds. Now those of you that are familiar with my work, know that I tend to be interested in fundamentals - you can read more about those here (you will also find a fabulous rustic tart of greens recipe there, perfect for this time of the year). You will know that after 25 odd years in the 'healthy' food industry - which I prefer to call the 'whole and natural foods' industry - I am alarmed by the rapid escalation of fractionalisation that seems to be happening in the past few years. The green smoothie is a case in point. Honestly, I didn't take much notice of it when it first appeared a few years ago, it just seemed silly and made no sense what so ever. But somehow, it's become the poster child for 'healthy' eating, or 'real, natural or whole food'. I've decided I'd like to weigh in on the discussion.

As always, I like to find the original source from whence things come - where did this belief that throwing lots of greens into a blender is a leading edge healthful thing to do? As it happens, from a book called Green For Life by Victoria Butenko. Now before I go on, I would like to point out that I believe we all have a path to follow and none of us have the right to question another's path. I understand and respect this, but given this book is a treatise on the green smoothie, I think it's worth noting a few things. The gist of it is this: the author and her family came to the US from Russia, where food was scarce and limited to mostly grains, dairy and some fruit.  On settling in the United States, they were amazed at the variety and availability of food, they especially loved the convenience food and used a microwave often. Within 3 years, all of them were extremely unwell, doctors told them there were no cures for their diabetes, asthma, allergies, heart issues etcetera. So they looked elsewhere, and turned to raw food. Now I'm not going to go to deeply into this issue, but you cannot discuss the green smoothie without discussing raw food, but it would seem obvious to me that they could also have simply stopped eating highly processed food / junk food / and frequenting the microwave. However, a vegan, raw food (most likely because it was at least real) diet turned things around but after several years, they began to have problems such as a heavy feeling in the stomach, grey hair and simply no longer desiring some of the allowed foods. So, the author searched for what was missing (I'm assuming in the vegetable world only) and discovered that greens was the food group that offered everything humans needed, and they weren't having enough. But how much did a human need to eat? For this answer, she looked for an animal that was close genetically to a human - with an approx.99.4% genetic match, enter the chimpanzee. 

The author observed that humans had lost their natural way of eating - but rather than recognising the blindingly obvious problems with refined, processed and junk foods - instead considered that "it is logical to hypothesise that our diets are supposed to be 99.4% similar" (to the chimpanzee) and that understanding the chimpanzee eating habits may help us to better understand the human dietary needs? Seriously? The only thing that I can keep thinking is that we might share a lot of genetic material with a chimpanzee, yet in that difference we are most definitely not a chimpanzee. Given that the main argument here is that this is the 'natural' way to eat, we absolutely have to consider another blindingly obvious point - the fact that man climbed down from the trees, stood erect on two legs and developed a bigger brain. Biological anthropologist Richard Wrangham (Catching Fire) (this is the guy that Michael Pollan talks about in his new book Cooked) holds the belief it was the discovery of fire, whereby cooked food enabled more and easier access to nutrient density, thus facilitating the evolution from a large to smaller gut and from a smaller to bigger brain. Others share the belief it was access to nutrient dense animal foods - notably the softer and nutrient dense bone marrow and brain that did the trick. Neither considered that it was an abundance of uncooked greens. Whilst we might share that large amount of DNA with the chimpanzee, we are yet, quite obviously not the same, and to say it is logical to hypothesise our diets should be 99.4% the same beggars belief. 

At the very least, chimp and orangs have a larger colon to gut ratio, strong jaws and large teeth perfect to chew and digest the large amount of fibrous fruits and tough high cellulose leaves (with stems) which along with fermentation in the colon, provides enough calories to support the animal. Humans have the opposite – a smaller colon to gut ratio, with a weaker jaw and smaller teeth – perfect for cooked foods, which require less energy to digest and softens the strong cellulose fiber. It was because of this absolute fact, that the greens had to be blended, otherwise they simply could not be broken down (and then because they were having so many green smoothies and not chewing - which is essential for our bone and jaw health, the author devised a rubber chewing device which you can buy from their website). Whilst certainly heat (fermentation, cooking) does destroy enzymes, denature protein and can destroy vitamin C and some heat sensitive minerals such as thiamine, it remains that cooking food provides incredible nutrient density and energy that is easily accessible – lightly cooked meat for example, makes it more easily digestible – it starts breaking down the protein molecules. Eating cooked foods has also been quite obviously, simply spectacularly successful - we did climb down from the trees and are now the leading animal (I know, we're not looking that good right now, neither are the cultures that we've built, but that is another discussion).  But cooking can also make some big differences to vegetables - it can soften and break down that fibrous cellulose, it helps to improve the digestibility of complex carbohydrate (especially the starch - cooked potato or sweet potato is more digestible cooked than raw) and it can break down some problematic aspects of raw foods – oxalic acid and goitrogens for example. Whilst I believe there is some hysteria around the internet in regards to oxalic acid, it does remain that it is problematic, especially if you have a less than optimal gut ecology. 

I'd like to talk a bit more about that gut ecology. If you have a 'delicate' or troublesome digestive system (bloating, intolerance to gluten and dairy etcetera) you will most likely have a less than healthy gut ecology. This means you don't have enough beneficial bacteria to do the many, many jobs they actually do - including most importantly, their intimate involvement in digesting food -  in particular the full and proper digestion of gluten and dairy proteins, and oxalic acid. But, what those good bacteria can't do however, no matter how much you will it (or blend it) is to be able to fully and appropriately digest some of those more complex carbohydrates (more than 1 or 2 sugars) that include cellulose, fibre and those known as FODMAPS. This is why, even when blended some of those carbohydrates are still tricky to digest. Unless a kale leaf is very, very young it is going to be difficult to digest, even when blended - it is far easier to digest when cooked, which is how the cultures that have most experience with it (such as the Italians) generally use it. 

In the end, this seems to me a discussion on eating a balanced diet. All healthy human groups include raw food  (where appropriate to the food) and understand the value of that life force.  However, no healthy human groups solely eat raw food – this is the findings of many, including that same Richard Wrangham who postulated the theory that cooked food is responsible for our evolution from the apes, and as a biological anthropologist found no human group eats all their food raw, as did Weston Price many years before. Nowhere is this issue of balance more evident than in a discussion on cooked versus raw. I have always (as my parents generation before me) consumed raw foods – including the goitrogenic cabbage in my mum’s favourite coleslaw and we called it a salad - indeed we had a salad generally around 3 times a week, more in summer.  We consumed raw, fresh seasonal fruits and called it an apple or pear, not a ‘raw food’, but we also ate all of those same foods we ate as salads and fresh fruit, cooked. We also consumed raw animal products meats (steak tartare), raw milk and raw eggs in raw milk (mum’s egg flip) but we also had them cooked. But perhaps of most importance, is that what and how we ate was all in the context of those fundamentals I spoke of earlier, that you can find here. 

There is also much more to the issue of the green smoothie - promoted by the author as a time saving way to include these greens in your diet, and their nutritional value. I'd simply like to say that in regards to the issue of nutritional value, as much as you would like to think that you are getting all those minerals in that kale or dark leafy green, if you don't have some fat soluble vitamins with it, you won't and those minerals can't do what you want them to do. Those fat soluble vitamins are A, D, K and E. And, if  you think that the kale or dark leafy greens (or the chia seeds)  are giving you Omega 3 EFA's, well yes they are but in the form of Alpha Linolenic Acid, which has to go through many conversions to become the derivatives that really are essential - Eicosapentaenoic Acid (EPA) and especially Docosahexaenoic Acid (DHA). There are some foods that just happen to be especially rich in both ALL the fat soluble vitamins and those longer chain essential fatty acid derivatives EPA and DHA - they are ALL animal foods and are :  all animal fats eg butter (ghee), egg yolks, offal (especially liver) and fish (including their eggs). This is why we consistently see raw vegetable and green salads traditionally paired with dressings such as mayonnaise based, or topped with soft cooked eggs, presented with lovely crunchy fatty bacon bits or strips of barely cooked liver. You might immediately recognise these pairings as classic, traditional and delicious French, Italian or European pairings. Yes, some land sources such as extra virgin olive oil do have vitamin E, but they don't have the others. 

When choosing vegetables to eat raw, it pays to bear in mind that nature tends to provide season appropriate foods - lighter, less carbohydrate dense and higher water content vegetables and fruits in summer. These all require less cooking - they are easy to eat and digest raw - and blended if that's how you would like them. Yet, it gives us the almost opposite in the cooler months - these denser and more complex carbohydrate root vegetables, thicker and more cellulose dense leaves (cabbage, kale and collards) and fruits (apples, quince, pears ) provide us with more fuel to keep us warm, but will need cooking to make that goodness fully available. Yes you could blend those leaves up and break down the cellulose, but that is often not enough for some and I would also ask why? I simply don't agree, because this is what I have seen, that is offers more (better) nutrition than when cooked. And, in regards to healing, there are many paths to the one door and I've seen a cooked food diet do the same thing - but this is a deeply complex area, with many other co factors and one for another day. 

I think it is an incredibly admirable thing to be advocating eating greens, but extreme and unbalanced to believe the best way to do so is to blend them, raw, into a smoothie (mostly with lots of fruit). They have been eaten by all healthy cultures for generations, and they called it a salad. They knew which greens needed cooking to make them optimally digestible, and what to serve with them to make all their greeny goodness and mineral bounty more bio available. The tragedy of our time is that this traditional knowledge, which served it's people well, has been undervalued and lost. There are some beautiful greens around right now and so many delicious ways to include them in your day - uncooked as salads, and cooked (that tart I suggested earlier is delicious). This was my morning tea yesterday.....


Quick and Simple Salad - no need for a blender


SEASONAL AUTUMN SALAD 

Autumn is a great time for the easily digested family of lettuce - here I've used one of my favourites, Buttercrunch. I've added microgreens from the garden, celery heart, pink lady apples and toasted walnuts for a bit more density. Can I say, microgreens are ridiculously easy to grow, nutrient rich with little carbohydrate development at such a young stage - kale is great in this format. To make the dressing I used equal amounts of mayonnaise and yoghurt (thus supplying some beneficial bacteria), lemon or lime juice to taste, a touch of honey to taste and a touch of a nice curry powder, with lots of fresh (and easily digestible) herbs - coriander which is now in season. This dressing will keep in the fridge for at least a week, and gives me the ability to put a salad together quickly. It would be delicious with lentils tossed through it also. 


As you can see, I used the thinner skinned Myer lemons, because that is what I had


REAL MAYONNAISE



Home - made mayonnaise is one of the most flexible foods to have on hand. Used to enrich a salad or snack or to add flavour to meals mayonnaise is a profoundly rich source of quality fats and antioxidants. Using this mayonnaise as a base upon which to build a dressing will give all the fat soluble vitamins to help make those minerals in the salad bio available. 

Because the egg yolk is used raw, you must know the source of your eggs – and they should be from organic, free ranging chickens eating their natural foods. I prefer to make mine in the traditional way – using organic, pure, extra virgin olive oil (a rich source of vitamin E). I also make mine with raw egg yolk, knowing they come from healthy, organic farms and from chickens that eat their proper food.

Making mayonnaise with extra virgin oil can be a little tricky, especially if it’s organic.  I prefer to make it by hand, rather than using a food processor or blender, which I think gives you more control – you can stop adding oil when you feel the mayonnaise is looking good. This is particularly important when using organic oil - I continually find I need less oil  - approx 65ml. I can’t tell you why - I just have experienced it (over many times) to be so. But, my friend Jeanie from Artisan Wholefoods prefers to make 3 x  the recipe and use the whisk attachment in the stand mixer and honestly, it's fabulous and incredibly fluffy. 



Store in a sealed, clean glass jar in the fridge for up to 2 weeks.


1 egg yolk
1 clove garlic – crushed
½ teaspoon white wine vinegar - I used lemon juice
½ teaspoon seed mustard
80 ml extra virgin olive oil
pinch sea salt

and because I had some preserved lemons, I added some of that also, finely chopped

Place a damp cloth on the bench surface and put a small mixing bowl on top of this.
Add the yolk, crushed garlic, vinegar and mustard to the bowl and whisk together. Very slowly, drizzle in a tiny amount of olive oil  - approx 1 teaspoon, whisking continually. Make sure this is well incorporated before going on. Continue in this way, drizzling in small amounts (2 teaspoons or so), whisking as you go and making sure it is fully incorporated before you go on. If using organic olive oil, you may only be able to incorporate 65ml or so, until it will begin to split. Add the salt and whisk through. Check for taste, adjusting with more vinegar / lemon juice  if desired. 










Monday, April 14, 2014

Fish Pie for Easter


FISH PIE AND THE ROAD TRAVELLED






Finally the weather is cooling and with it the food we cook. It's been a busy time since my last post, with classes here in Perth and then travelling to country NSW to do seminars and classes. I love to travel and most often, it's with  my dear friend Jeanie - we realise that we have both done more road trips together than with anyone else (family, children etc), and we've done them all around the world it seems! We road tripped from Jean's home out of Murwillumbah to Coonabarabran in Central New South Wales - abut 10 hours, for the Warrumbungle Food Festival, where I gave 2 seminars and we both did classes. Organised by the very inspirational naturopath Jen Berthet, from the Warrumbungles Holistic Health Care Centre, it was a wonderful opportunity to meet new people share information. 

But, my goodness, it's lovely to be home - and very exciting to come back to two book parcels - April it seems is the time for new book releases  -  My Darling Lemon Thyme by Emma Galloway, and Tasty Express by Sneh Roy (the very aptly titled Cook Republic). Incredibly exciting, I love, love receiving books and they are both beautiful. Can't wait to take them down south with me after easter for our holiday, I am going to pour through them and start cooking! I've also been tempted by two from overseas - Whole Grain Mornings by Megan Gordon, and the new one by a favourite of mine, Bryant Terry - Afro Vegan (sorry, I couldn't connect you to his website, I think it has been hacked !) 

There's not going to be a lot of talk here today, just some photo's of what and where, and fish pie. It's the easiest thing to make, and deeply nourishing - perfect for the cooler Autumn weather. We are having it for dinner tonight, but it would be perfect for the Easter Weekend coming up. It's easy to digest and a great option for young children, or anyone with a dodgy digestive system or simply anyone looking for a delicious and deeply nourishing meal. If you're looking for a cake, why not try this Apple Shortbread (oh, it would be delicious with Rhubarb and Quince too) or this delicious Walnut and Yoghurt Cake

Have a lovely Easter weekend and I'll see you after...

x Jude


With the beautiful Jen Berthet and Jeanie


In Sydney with my dearest friend, Holly Davis. We had just had breakkie at the Boat House in Pittwater



Back home to launch Emma's beautiful, beautiful book My Darling Lemon Thyme, here with Emma and Sam




FISH PIE

Use a fish that is sustainable where you live – this will vary from place to place. I like to choose a some strong tasting oilier fish such as sea mullet, bonito or mackeral and something a little lighter - black bream, flathead or one of the snapper family is great also. If you can, buy the fish as a whole and ask the fishmonger to fillet it for you. Keep the skin on or off, it's up to you - it will just be a textural thing in the mouth. In the picture I've used Spanish Mackeral (skin on)  and Goldband Snapper (skin off). Please, no salmon. Unless it's being flown in from the northern hemisphere, in Australia,  this is all farmed - this is not the place to go looking for your very desirable long chain fatty acids, when we  have plenty of high omega fish that are wild caught and not farmed. If you live in the northern hemisphere, and they are in season, go for it. 

The recipe is incredibly loose and forgiving - basically, if vegetables have less water in them (onion or leek instead of spring onions), or more carbohydrate or cellulose such as carrot and celery, cook them first. Today, I lightly cooked some leek from the garden, finely sliced celery, fine diced carrot in good dollop of ghee and a sprinkle of sea salt. Added that to the baking dish, then sprinkled roughly chopped garlic chives and lemon thyme. And, honestly? I don't even bother weighing the fish, I just decide how much I'd like in the dish. 




2 - 3 medium potatoes, well scrubbed and cut into 2 – 3 cm dice
100 or so gm broccoli – roughly cut
sea salt to taste
1 generous tablespoon butter or ghee

1 - 2 extra tablespoons butter or ghee
2 stems spring onions, roughly chopped or 1 small onion finely diced (I used leek today)
2 tablespoons fresh herbs – lemon thyme, parsley or basil
grated zest of 1 small lemon and generous juice
Vegetables  –  you can read above what I used, with corn in season, that would make a lovely addition too. English Spinach and Silverbeet (Chard) can be added straight to the dish, but some of the kales might need a little cook with the root vegetables to help break down their strong cellulose structure.
4 – 6 tablespoons cultured or sour cream (be generous) 
1 teaspoon seed mustard
pinch sea salt and freshly ground black pepper
300 gm fish, checked over for bones and roughly cut into 3 cm chunks 

Pre heat oven 190c

Steam the potatoes and when nearly ready, add the broccoli and cook until the broccoli is just soft. Take care not to overcook and dull the colour of the broccoli. Add 1 generous tablespoon butter, salt to taste or ghee and roughly mash. Set aside.

Choose a shallow, ovenproof dish.

Melt the remaining butter or ghee in a small saucepan and if using onion or leek,  add this and cook over a gentle heat until soft. If using spring onion, just throw it in let it soften for a minute or so. Add any root vegetables to cook for a few minutes until soft, and if using kale, give that a little go in the frying pan also. 

Add your vegetables of choice to the baking dish and if using English Spinach, add that now too.  Top with the chunks of fish. Sprinkle with a little sea salt and freshly ground black pepper. 
Add the lemon zest, juice,  cream and  mustard t0 the warm frying pan. Stir through gently - the cream will ‘melt’ and relax. Spoon the mix over the fish and vegetables (and if you have more sour cream,  go ahead and use it - make sure the fish is well covered) and top with the mashed potato.

Place in the oven and cook for approx 20 mins or until the top is lightly golden and the juices are bubbling. I like to serve this with greens -  I'm serving this with green beans from the garden tonight.