Just Sous Just Me

Musicians, inspired recipes, songs and food adventures.


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Yellow Polka-Dot Zucchini Linguine

Zucchini Linguine

Judging by warmer temperatures and Christmas decorations now appearing in department stores, Winter is officially over in Sydney. As a cold weather lover always happy to embrace the commencement of Winter I actually look forward to the oncoming months of slow cooked roasts and stews brewed up all day to be consumed in my kitchen next to the glowing  Jøtul cast iron wood stove. If I could afford the luxury of regularly travelling to any destination in the world I’d be pursuing the Winter climates over basting in sunny-hot, humid and balmy conditions any day. There’s just something about rugging-up, slipping on Ugg Boots and sipping a nice glass of spicy-sweet mulled wine that is much more appealing than enduring a sun-burnt sweat-fest.

Suffering a mild case of denial and not yet ready to put away the Ugg Boots or my cast-iron Chasseur pot, inevitably it’s time to start thinking about culinary choices that will suit the warmer weather approaching. And unlike Eggplant, there are countless songs written about Summer and all things Sunshine to get a bit of kitchen inspiration. Mostly positive, happy and upbeat songs like Heat Wave, Summer in the City, The Boys Of Summer, California Dreamin’, Surfin Safari, Under the Boardwalk, Summer of ’69 and that’s just the tip of the equatorial iceberg. Conversely Cruel Summer by Bananarama paints Summer in a darker light as does Summertime originally sung by Ella Fitzgerald.

Zucchini Flowers

Zucchini Flowers

The most quintessential summer song I can think of has to be the Brian Hyland recording of Itsy Bitsy Teenie Weenie Yellow Polka dot Bikini. Mostly because I had to sing this song for the Bushwackers Beach Party in Tamworth a few years ago so is the song used as inspiration for Zucchini Linguine. How can this song inspire a recipe you say? Easily. Apart from the obvious rhyme of Zuchini and Bikini, think yellow with polka dots and the possibilities are endless. My thoughts straightaway leaned towards yellow capsicum, capers, preserved lemon and black sesame seeds. And Zucchini sliced thinly into lengthways strips I have recently discovered, surprisingly is an excellent and far healthier alternative to pasta. If you want your Bolognese sauce to stand out next time both visually and textually, try serving on a bed of Zucchini Linguine.

Slashed of high carbohydrate content and also gluten-free, who knows you might just be able to squeeze into that teeny weeny bikini this summer, or at least not be afraid to come out of the water wearing one 🙂

Yellow Polka-Dot Zucchini Linguine with Crunchy Parmesan:

Ingredients:

4 Zucchini, topped and tailed, sliced into thin strips lengthways, then again into linguine style strips like this:

Zucchini Shredded

1 Yellow Capsicum, sliced thinly in strips

1 Tbs Coconut Oil

2 Tbs Olive Oil

2 Cloves Garlic, minced

1 Birds-eye Chilli, de-seeded and chopped finely

1/4 Piece of Preserved lemon, chopped finely

1 Tbs Baby Capers, rinsed

1 Tbs toasted Black Sesame Seeds

Coriander Leaves chopped roughly

Method:

1) Melt coconut oil in a frying pan over medium heat

2) Add Zucchini and Capsicum and sauté for a few minutes until just tender

3) In a new saucepan, add Olive Oil, Garlic, Chilli and Preserved Lemon and gently simmer over medium heat till fragrant, one minute tops

4) Pour Olive Oil mixture over Zucchini Linguine and stir till well combined

5) Scatter with toasted Sesame Seeds and Coriander

Crunchy Parmesan:

Ingredients:

Handful of Raw Almonds, ground up in a processor

3 Tbs finely grated Parmesan Cheese

4 Zucchini Flowers with baby zucchini attached

Splash of Olive Oil

Sea Salt

Method:

1) Preheat Oven to 180 C

2) Mix Almonds and Parmesan together in a bowl

3) Place Zucchini Flowers in roasting pan, splash with Olive Oil and Sea Salt

4) Bake for 15 Minutes, remove and let rest

5) Detach flowers from baby Zucchini, crush up with fingers and add to the Parmesan mixture

6) Either eat the roasted baby Zucchini now, or throw into main dish

6) Sprinkle on-top of Zucchini Linguine

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Rhubarb, Rhubarb, Rhubarb Baby :-)

Rhubarb

When it comes to fruit and vegetable selection, I like to follow their seasonal habits so they are at their absolute best. This way you are getting them in their full glory, they taste better and are also cheaper. For instance, I wouldn’t attempt a Jamie Oliver Thai Mango Salad in the middle of winter, firstly because you won’t find a mango then (unless you’ve been diligent enough to freeze some pulp from the previous Summers’ abundant supply, who does that anyhow?) And secondly, it’s not really a Winter dish, it’s more appropriate to be slicing up mango and cucumber into slithers while wearing Havaianas in the kitchen rather than Ugg Boots – that just doesn’t seem right.

There are a few perennial vegetables and lucky for us, one of them is Rhubarb. While having a chat with my neighbour the other day about food, she mentioned Rhubarb and the fact that she had always thought it to be a fruit but had recently discovered it is actually a vegetable. This got me thinking about Rhubarb and the fact that I had never really considered making a dish with it. I’ve certainly sampled some lovely baked apple and rhubarb crumble with cream from country cafes during my travels but never thought to do something with it in my kitchen. That same day, I spotted a huge bunch of it in my local IGA and promptly purchased it. It was meant to be.

Now, what to make with it. After trimming the leaves and roots off as these contain poisonous oxalic acid and leaving only the edible stalks, I try a piece, raw.  This is a mistake as Raw Rhubarb is definitely an acquired taste, not something I could get used to or have any desire to either. It won’t hurt you to eat it like this and is certainly loaded with many vitamins and minerals this way, but the good news is that apparently these are retained in cooked form, a much wiser choice 🙂

Quinoa, Rhubarb and Apple

Quinoa, Rhubarb and Apple

Stewing Rhubarb seems to be the tried and tested way of preparing this vegetable, so I cook it up with some apple, coconut sugar, a few spices and serve it on a bed of white Quinoa (the new black) with Greek Yoghurt, strawberries, toasted sesame seeds and a splash of Maple Syrup. Turns out to be a wonderful dessert, as well as a great alternative to rolled oats for breakfast if you are trying to take it easy on the grains. If you are also trying to take it easy on the sugar, leave it out along with the Maple syrup and use a bit more cinnamon instead, but it won’t be anywhere near as delectable 🙂

Quinoa with Stewed Apple and Rhubarb:

4 Rhubarb Stalks, washed, trimmed and cut into 2cm diagonal slices

1 Large Red Apple, peeled, cored and sliced (get yourself one of those super-duper apple-peeler corer machines – gets this job done in seconds)

1 Tbs Coconut Oil

1/4 Cup Coconut Sugar

1/4 Cup Water

1 Tsp of Cinnamon

1 Star Anise

Pinch of Nutmeg

Prepared Quinoa

Toasted Sesame Seeds

Method:

1) In a fry-pan over medium heat, melt coconut oil

2) Add rhubarb, apple, sugar, water and all spices.

3) Fry gently, stirring often till rhubarb breaks down and apples are softened. About 20 mins.

4) Top Quinoa with stewed rhubarb mixture, Greek Yoghurt, sliced strawberries, sesame seeds then drizzle the Maple Syrup over.

Oh yes, thank you Rhubarb.


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Broccoli Flammkuchen

Broccoli

My quest to find bread and dough substitutes continues and when you start delving into this realm, the possibilities are endless. You are only limited by your imagination and I am discovering new ways all the time. The boundaries of bread are definitely being pushed, mostly by Vegetables.

Of course there are plenty of gluten-free bread/pizza base products available, however these products generally contain a cocktail of ingredients such as Xanthum Gum, Hydroxypropyl Methylcellulose or the dreaded Corn Starch which help the bread to retain a soft texture and nice attractive look. They are usually also high in sugar and fat to make them tastier. When it comes to a pizza base, nothing and absolutely nothing substituted is ever truly going to ‘taste’ like the classic traditional Italian, melt in your mouth dough consistency they have been masters of for decades. But it doesn’t hurt to try something new in the kitchen and experiment just to see what you can create. And in the case of a Broccoli Base Pizza, it won’t hurt your waistline either, you can eat as much as you want without the guilt factor. Win. (Unless it’s loaded with cheese of course).

Perhaps we should refer to this as something other than a pizza as am sure this concept would seem completely unethical to any fans of a great pizza, which would have to be the majority of us. I’ve decided on a Broccoli ‘Flammkuchen’ – a German name which is the translation of the French ‘Tarte Flambee’. Fancy I know but it in generic terms basically just means pizza made of very thinly rolled bread dough, cooked in a wood-fired oven, traditionally topped with Creme Fraiche, thinly sliced onions and bacon.

Flammkuchen

Flammkuchen

I sampled my first Flammkuchen in Switzerland recently after my musical European friends dismissed my plight of eating no-dough as a bit of a no-go. They weren’t wrong, it was incredibly delicious, as was the accompanying crisp white wine.

You can put whatever toppings you like on this, up to you. In this recipe I have substituted Creme Fraiche with a Blanched Almond, Tahini and Garlic spread, then topped with Caramelised Onions cooked in Organic Coconut Oil. So, no-gluten and no-dairy and you could eliminate the coconut sugar from the onions and it would be no-sugar as well, but they wouldn’t caramelise nicely. Some might say ‘no-fun’ either but it tastes good and is good for you. You’ve saved yourself a few high carbs and calories and earned yourself a nice glass or two of Cab Sav to go with it 🙂

Broccoli Base Pizza

 

Broccoli Flammkuchen: *

1 Head of Broccoli

3 Tbs Ground Almonds

1 Tbs Sesame Seeds

1 Egg

Method:

1) Break Broccoli into florets, whizz them all up in a food processor till in tiny bits (do this in batches)

2) Place in a steamer or in the microwave and steam for five minutes, let cool

3) Put steamed broccoli in a tea towel, gather the sides up, scrunch into a ball and squeeze out all the moisture

4) Put in a bowl and mix together with almonds, sesame seeds and egg till well combined

5) Place a piece of baking paper on top of a pizza tray or stone and mould the mix out with your hands to flatten so it resembles a pizza base like this:

Broccoli Base

Broccoli Base

6) Bake in 180 C oven for fifteen minutes

7) Remove from oven and spread with almond paste and caramelised onions (recipe below) or whatever toppings you like.

8) Bake for another 15 minutes

 

Almond, Tahini and Garlic Paste:*

1 Cup of Blanched Almonds

2 Cloves Garlic

1/4 Cup of Olive Oil

1 Tbs Tahini

Juice of one Lemon

Dash of Paprika

Salt and Pepper

Method:

1) Place all ingredients in a food processor and grind up to a paste

 

Caramelised Onions: (Quick Version)

1 Red Onion, cut in to quarters lengthwise and then into slithers

1 Tbs Coconut Oil

1 Tbs Coconut Sugar (or Brown Sugar)

Splash of Water

Method:

1) Melt coconut oil over medium heat, then add onions and let sizzle for a few minutes

2) Add sugar and water, fry gently stirring often till the onions start to soften and get a bit syrupy, about 15 minutes or so.

 

* Note:

Here is the inspiration for the pizza base (where you will find many other great recipes and restaurant reviews by the very talented Not Quite Nigella) originally made with Cauliflower  Low Carb Gluten Free Cauliflower Base Pizza

I wanted to see if it also worked with Broccoli after making the Cauliflower version. It’s a different texture but still tasty.

The recipe for the Almond Paste is originally from here Eat Drink Paleo another wonderful site full of excellent recipes and nutritional information.


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Chillies and Love Affairs

Chilli Oil

Chilli Oil

I am addicted to chillies.  Did I mention that I love chillies? This love affair has been going on for around twenty-five years now.  A bit of background here, this relationship did not start harmoniously or gently feeling our way by any means.  Our introduction to each other was rather hurtful and very painful, and almost set us on the path never to be reunited again as I really did bite off more than I could chew and didn’t see the point of pursuing connections any further, the memory still resounds firmly.

I persisted though, and had no choice as the musicians and people I was associating with at the time were all big chilli freaks and was surrounded by all things chilli, constantly.  If it wasn’t in the cooked dishes, it was on the side as sauces, in marinades, salads and even fried up till they were black and used as sandwich filler.  (I never actually tried this, but an old flatmate used to cook this up from time to time, you had to vacate the premises because of the associated breathing difficulties).

Eventually, I started to introduce my taste buds with chilli correctly, in small doses and gradually. A resistance level to the pain must be built up with this fiery fruit, you need to feel your way with it.  The pain threshold is now no barrier, I have reached the point where it’s no problem to consume large amounts and am no longer fearful, I am in love.

You see, chillies are actually physically addictive. They contain a compound called ‘capsaicin’ which is a natural chemical sending the burning sensation from the nerve endings in the mouth directly to the brain. Endorphins, natural painkillers in the body are then secreted causing a physical ‘rush’. This natural ‘high’ is what keeps us coming back for more, and just like any other addiction, you start craving higher doses the more you use it and your tolerance level builds. However, there is no evidence that eating too much chilli is unhealthy or ulcer causing and capsaicin is actually used in anti-inflammatory creams to treat arthritis and shingles.

Although, on the other extreme I would advise against entering into a chilli-eating competition any time soon.  A greatly talented musician friend I have worked with over the years has recounted a story of this to me. The contestants were made to eat chillies during a few rounds, where after each had to open their mouths to show the chillies had been chewed up firstly, then swallowed and no water in between. The overall winner had to be hospitalised!

I think best to just stick with the Chilli Sauce for now. Or try this recipe for Chilli Oil, a great way of using them when you have a chilli bush loaded with fruit and not sure what to do with them all.

Chilli Oil

1 cup of Birds Eye Chillies (or more depending on your heat threshold)

3 cups of good quality olive oil

1) Pre-heat oven to 180 C

2) Spread chillies evenly in a roasting tin

3) Roast chillies for approximately fifteen minutes or until well roasted, but not completely black, cool slightly

4) Place chillies in a jar, pour in olive oil

5) Cover with glad-wrap and place in a dark cupboard for three days

6) Strain oil into a bottle and discard chillies.  If it’s too hot, pour in some more olive oil to dilute.