Tomato and Chorizo Salad

Ok, so Jamie Oliver would have to be my favourite celebrity chef. I just love his style of cooking and the joy he brings to every recipe. His focus on making cooking easily accessible, fun, affordable and enjoyable is fabulous and I just enjoy so many of his recipes. I know that he is not technically considered to be a chef or cook that follows Paleo food principles, but so many of his recipes are easily adaptable and so many others are already Paleo – protein and fresh produce.

A while ago I was watching his Jamie Does season on DVD and his episode in Spain showed one recipe that really appealed. In fact, it’s a bit hard to say why it appealed so much, because I’m not normally a fan of tomatoes in the first place, but I do like experimenting and I am willing to try something new. It must have been the actual recipe and the fresh herb flavour combination that captured me. Anyway, my husband was also half watching this show with me and this recipe appealed to him too – so we purchased the ingredients and made it for lunch the following day after church. We loved it! On subsequent occasions we have made it with our own special tweaks. It’s now something we make about once a month, maybe more. So below is my tweaked version of his recipe. To find the original, either watch the show or purchase his Jamie Does recipe book (you won’t be sorry – so many amazing recipes! – My favorites are the Moroccan recipes).

My take on a Jamie Oliver recipe

My take on a Jamie Oliver recipe

Tomato and Chorizo Salad (my version)

Ingredients:

1 raw chorizo (approximately 225g roughly chopped)
3 large ripe tomatoes roughly chopped
270g cherry tomatoes, halved or quartered depending on their size
sea salt and freshly ground black pepper to taste
1-2 garlic cloves, finely sliced
1 small handful of flat or curly leaf parsley, finely chopped
1 small handful of a mix of basil and oregano, finely chopped
6 button mushrooms, sliced
2 rashers of bacon, diced
olive oil
rice wine vinegar or apple cider vinegar
soft feta, optional

Method:

1. Prepare the tomatoes. As the salad can get very wet, you may prefer to scrape away the inner seed section, and just use the tomato shell, particularly for the large tomatoes. Place into a large bowl.

2. Finely chop all the herbs and add to the bowl and then sprinkle with salt and pepper to taste. Add a generous slosh of olive oil and a smaller swig of vinegar to the bowl and mix well, then set aside.

3. Prepare the chorizo, bacon, garlic and mushrooms for cooking.

4. In a large frying pan, add a good slosh of olive oil, enough to cook in. Once the pan and oil have heated, add the chorizo and bacon, cook for a few minutes, then add the mushrooms. As the mushrooms start to take on the colour and aroma of being cooked, add the finely sliced garlic for the last 1 minute of cooking. The garlic is to go golden in colour and no further.

5. Add a last swig of the vinegar to the frying pan to cool down the cooking and remove from the stove top.

6. Add the frying pan ingredients to the bowl of tomatoes and herbs and toss well. Serve in bowls and add the optional feta cheese if you choose. Enjoy immediately.

This recipe does not keep and should be eaten directly. Serves two as a full meal and four as a side dish.

Occasionally, if we a super hungry and want this to be more substantial a meal, we will reheat some cooked chicken thighs or left over roast meat (any variety) to add to the salad.

Enjoy and if you make it, let me know what you think šŸ™‚

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Apricot Balls

Oh these were my favourites growing up! I loved eating them and would always eat way too many. Unfortunately this year, with my husband eating all my Lemon slice and my need to make more, IĀ still had en extra 1/2 tin of condensed milk to use. So I had to improvise. Rather than use biscuit crumbs in the Apricot Balls, I used almond meal instead. So these turned out denser and even a little sweeter than I remember, but oh so yummy. Even my Dad approved (and he’s fussy)! So here goes…

Apricot Balls

Using the almond meal makes them denser - not so easy to eat too many of them :)

Using the almond meal makes them denser – not so easy to eat too many of them šŸ™‚

This made roughly 16 1.5-1.5-inch balls

Ingredients

1 1/2 cups desiccated coconut
1 cup almond meal
1/2 tin condensed milk
20-ish dried apricots finely diced
extra coconut for rolling the balls in

Method

1. Measure all the dry ingredients into a fairly large bowl.
2. Dice the apricots as you desire, super fine and or a little chunky šŸ™‚
3. Pour in the condensed milk and mix well. If the mix appears too wet add a little more almond meal and/or desiccated coconut. If too dry, add a little more condensed milk if you have it or a little melted butter.
4. Using a teaspoon, measure enough mix to allow you to make the apricot balls to your desired size, large like mine or smaller like my Cranberry Lamington Bites.
5. Roll in the extra coconut and then place in a sealed container and store in the fridge. These will last (if not eaten super quick) for at least a week, maybe a little longer.

Enjoy!

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Lemon Slice

Ok, so that I have covered all bases, I will add the other recipes for the foods that I used to fill my Christmas gift boxes.

Lemon Slice

The tangy lemon cuts beautifully through the sweetness of the condensed milk.

The tangy lemon cuts beautifully through the sweetness of the condensed milk.

Ingredients:

200g of gluten free plain tea biscuits
125g melted butter
1/2 tin condensed milk
1 cup desiccated coconut (plus extra to sprinkle on the icing)
grated rind of two lemons

Icing:

2 cups gluten free icing sugar
2-3 Tbs lemon juice

Method:

1. In a processor, process the biscuits to fine crumbs, then pour the biscuits into a large bowl.
2. Add the desiccated coconut and the grated lemon rind.
3. Melt the butter in the microwave or over the stove top until just melted.
4. Pour the butter and 1/2 the tin of condensed milk into the bowl and mix well. If the mix appears too dry, add some more coconut.
5. In a slice tin that’s lined with baking paper, pour the slice mix and use your hand to press firmly down and try to get an even distribution of the mix.
6. Refrigerate for at least an hour.
7. Juice the lemons, measure 2 cups of icing sugar into a clean bowl and pour in 2 Tbs of lemon juice to start with. Mix well. The consistency of the icing should be fairly thick but easily spreadable.
8. Remove the slice from the fridge and spread over the icing, then dust with the additional desiccated coconut. Refrigerate for at least two hours before cutting the slice into 1-inch by 1-inch squares.
9. Store in an airtight container until desired. Will last a little over a week if not eaten completely before then.

Enjoy!

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Cranberry Lamington Bites

So this Christmas was an especially wonderful one. Maybe one of the best I have had in years. With two young nephews the joys of present giving and opening are particularly delightful. Don’t you love it when almost three-year-old’s are having so much fun ‘helping’ that they don’t realise they are doing all the work? My eldest nephew on my family’s side is at just that age where helping is wonderful and we enjoy sitting while he runs around helping. As Santa’s (aka my dad) little gift helper he had so much fun opening his own gifts that he opened everyone else’s too šŸ™‚ What a joy to watch him and have chuckles as he clearly enjoys the toys and yet isn’t all that impressed with his uncle’s shirts.

Having just gotten married in February this year, it was our first Christmas to celebrate as husband and wife and having had last Christmas with John’s family, this year was to be with my family. I got in early and suggested that everyone come to our place. It gives my mum a chance to not have to do so much work in preparation, but also gave us the pleasure of having family in our home (with much needed air conditioning for an Australian Christmas). So over came my parents, one of my brother’s with his wife and two boys. My other brother and his wife are in Japan and they were very much missed, but Face Time is a wonderful thing with iPhone’s.

As is usuallyĀ the case, everyone contributes to the meal and oh boy did we have a feast! Baked chicken drumsticks, cold corned beef and ham, green salad with green goddess dressing, mashed potatoes, capsicum cassolette, braised cabbage and cold prawns. And that was just lunch, let alone the morning tea before and dessert that followed (quite a while after lunch as we were so stuffed!).

But this year, I decided to start a bit of a tradition that I would like to keep for when John and I host Christmas at our home. That is, to give little gift boxes full of Christmas treats to each person. Now, having made (and really still in the process of making) the transition to Paleo living and diet, I was in a bit of a quandary – what treats to I make? Everything all Paleo? Some Paleo, some traditional treats that I grew up with? Everything traditional that I grew up with? Oh, it was a hard call. In the end I decided to go for traditional treats that my family has grown up. This way I could start this tradition with treats we all like and throughout the next year, find and/or create new ones for the next Christmas we host.

So the treats I made were: Rocky Road, Lemon Slice (my husband pretty much devoured the first batch and I had to make another on Christmas Eve!), apricot balls, cranberry lamington bites and peppermint bark. The Cranberry Lamington BitesĀ were created in order to finish using the other half of the condensed milk tin (I hate waste), so here is the recipe:

Cranberry Lamington Bites

Cranberry Lamington Bites

Cranberry Lamington Bites

Makes roughly 16-20 1-inch balls

Ingredients:

1 cup almond meal
1 1/4 cup desiccated coconut, plus extra for rolling in
1/2 cup dried cranberries, chopped – fine or chunky – your choice
1/2 tin of condensed milk

Method:

1. Measure out the almond meal and desiccated coconut. Place an extra 1/4-1/3 cup of desiccated coconut in another bowl for rolling the balls in.
2. Measure the dried cranberries and chop to your desired size then add to the bowl of dry ingredients.
3. Pour in half the tin of condensed milk and mix all ingredients together well. If the mixture appears too wet, add some more coconut. If it’s too dry add a little more condensed milk if you have it, or a little melted butter.
4. Once the ingredients are well mixed, use a teaspoon to measure enough mixture for you to roll into roughly 1-inch sized balls and roll in the extra coconut.
5. Refrigerate in a sealed contained until needed. These will last (if people don’t eat them all at once) for at least a week, perhaps longer.

Then enjoy.

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Sausage Fried Rice

This is a recipe I made myself and is actually one of my favourites. It easily becomes a main meal, rather than an accompaniment as fried rice typically is, and freezes quite well in small portions making perfect lunches everytime.

Feel free to make your own adjustments according to taste šŸ™‚

Sausage Fried Rice

2 cups white or brown rice, uncooked
1 large onion, finely diced
1 red capsicum, diced
1 cup frozen pea/corn mix
1 cup frozen beans
2 large carrots, cut in quarters lengthways, then diced
1 large zucchini, cut in quarters lengthways, then diced
1 Tbs coconut oil
2-3 Tbs Tamari (Gluten Free Soy Sauce)
2-3 Tbs Sweet Chili sauce (Gluten Free)
2-3 Tbs Oyster Sauce (Gluten Free)
8-12 Gluten free Chicken Sausages

Method:

  1. Cook the rice in the morning or the day before so that it has time to cool down and be refridgerated until completely cold. You can use absorption method (typically 1 cup of rice to 1 1/2 cups of water), but follow rice packet suggestions. The rice does need to be cooked but relatively hard to touch once cold.
  2. Prepare the vegetables as outlined above and place in a bowl to the side.
  3. Heat (medium) oil in a large grying pan and cook sausages until golden, remove and cut into small circles, or cut lengthways and then cut into semicircles.
  4. Add the onion and the cut sausages to the frying pan . Cook until the onion starts to get soft. Add the vegetables.
  5. Saute the vegetables until they start to get soft. You may need to put the lid on (to keep heat in) and stir intermittantly. This may take up to 10 minutes. Please don’t let them burn.
  6. Get the rice from the fridge and start to break it up. Once the vegetables are about half way cooked, add the rice and the three sauces. Experiment with the amount of sauces, depending on your taste, but they should be adequate amounts to be mixed through the whole dish, leaving it a bit moist (you don’t want this to be a dry dish).
  7. Once thoroughly mixed in, have a taste. If you think it needs it, add some chicken stock powder to taste.
  8. Serve and enjoy. This shouldĀ provide fourĀ main meal serves.
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The journey to better health

So here’s the deal…

Firstly, this blog is an experiement. I have no idea how one works and how effective this may be for me, but I’m giving it a go.

Secondly, having struggled with health issues for many years, lived with Coeliac Disease for 11 years and recently discovered that I am also allergic to egg white and cow’sĀ milk – I am now on the warpath. I’ve had enough of missing out or succumbing. I’ve had enough of battling with my health.Ā I’ve had enough enough of trying to explain to hosts my dietary needs and then just saying, “Oh meat and salad’s with no dressing will be fine”. I’m now doing something about this.

For my friends and familyĀ – here are my altered recipes that meet my dietary needs (and the needs of many others) and that simply do taste delicious. Please bear in mind the following points:

  • I often make adjustments as I go and usually everything turns out well
  • I don’t always follow recipes to a “T”, I tend to follow them generally – if I’m using spices, there is often a little more or a little less, depending on how adventurous I feel
  • Dessert recipes I do follow closely the first time as they can be more tricky, and then I will experiment
  • IĀ encourage you to make your own attempts or versions of recipes. That’s what makes them Colourful Culinary Experiments!

I would like to add, that changing a recipe does not have to be a difficult thing at all, it just takes a little knowledge of ingredients and knowing what you want your end result to taste like. I figure that even if a recipes does not turn out looking like it was made in a five star restaurant, that doesn’t mean it won’t taste amazing. Fortunately, having special dietary needs has meant thatĀ I have had to become a little more adventurous in my likes than I may have been otherwise, and so I have discovered many recipes, the ability to make recipe adjustments, and foods that I probably would not have tried if I wasn’t desperate for some variety.

A couple of things to mention… I use metric measurements and I recommend that you go to http://www.taste.com.au/how+to/articles/369/weights+measurement+chartsĀ in order to get the measurements correct. I use degrees Celcius for temperature measurements. I use ‘tsp’ for ‘teaspoon’ and ‘Tbs’ for tablespoon in these recipes.

So, that being said… perhaps I should give you a recipe to start with:

GingerNut and Apricot Crumble

12 Gluten Free GingerNut biscuits (ensure there are no eggs or milk in them)
3/4 cup Gluten Free Self Raising Flour (I tend to use the Orgran brand)
1/4 cup firmly packed brown sugar
4 green apples, skinned, cored and cut into wedges
825g can Apricot halves in syrup, drained (reserve)
1 tsp Cinnamon (ground)
1 tsp Ginger (ground)
100g Butter, chilled and chopped

Method:

  1. Preheat oven to 1800C/1600C (fanforced). Place the apricot and apples in a 1.5 litre (6 cup) oven proof dish, any shape is fine, deep sides useful.
  2. Place the GingerNut biscuits in a resealable plastic food storage bag, and using a rolling pin bash the biscuits until coarsely crushed.
  3. Combine the flour, sugar, ground ginger and cinnamon in a bowl. Rub in the chilled and chopped butter to make fine crumbs. Stir in the bashed GingerNut biscuit crumbs.
  4. Sprinkle the biscuit misture over the apricot and apple misture in the dish and bake in the oven for 25 minutes or until golden.
  5. Stand for 5 minutes before serving.

Note: Use the reserved Apricot syrup in the place of custard or cream when serving, if desired.

I adjusted this recipeĀ from one found in recipes+ July 2013 page 25

I promise that I as get further along, I will include photos as I make these recipes for the first time or the twentieth šŸ˜‰

I hope that this will prove useful for you.

Yours in health and in Christ,

Imogen xox

P.S. The date is October 31st 2014 and I am making changes. This blog will now be more about my journey to healing as I implement Paleo eating and living and the recipes I use to bring my body back to health. Obviously Sausage Fried Rice and Ginger Nut and Apricot Crumble are not Paleo, so I will need to make adjustments to show you how they can be. But, let’s see what happens…

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