Same Old, Same New: Coconut Milk Omission

The Original is here.

I did say I haven’t been doing much differently, Dear Reader, but as I was making a rough curry ramen just yesterday, a simple curry, but I just heated the coconut milk and left the sauce looser, it was actually really good, but whether I could emulate it exactly again is hard to say and a second try might make it forgettable, lets let it stay legend. As I was saying, sorry Dear Reader! I do ramble occasionally,  I had a coconut curry already so I decided to go for another “dry” curry, I say “dry” in quotes because there are curries known as dry curries if I’m not mistaken and I’m not claiming this as any free-from variation, these are just playful, fun reworks on old recipes and this is a very old recipe. It must be my second ever nut butter curry, which was special once as nut butters were new to me and as they were, still are, expensive I hated to waste them in uncertain recipes, but without many trials and tests I wouldn’t be where I am today, Dear Reader, so this recipe, simple in flavour and execution in both the original form and this version, has a special place in my heart, or stomach perhaps.

So, with he basic recipe in mind I left out the coconut milk and added some sweet potato chunks. I just mixed the spices, almond butter, some water and a little honey into a paste, coated the chicken and set that aside, I fried the onion and garlic until just starting to brown and added the sweet potato, I time it all by the rice so the whole thing takes about half an hour, a little more for the onion and garlic, the sweet potato can be tricky to cook alongside anything else in my experience, too little, even just a hair, and you end up with hard pieces, too much and you end up with mush, take it nice and slow and low and you’ll be fine, after ten minutes or so I added the chicken on the same low heat, adjusting as necessary, none of this is exact, nor does it need to be, and just let everything cook away. I use a little more spice when doing it this way, but the taste is still mild and pleasant, it’s nothing groundbreaking, but it is a useful way to make an old recipe new again for a dinner. That’s it for today, Dear Reader, I’ve mostly been out in the garden these last few days and next week looks to be the same, but perhaps better, so I should get my dose of Vitamin D and fresh air. I hope wherever you are the weather is pleasant and the food is tasty. Until later, Dear Reader, take care.


Same Old, Same New: Peanut Butter Pasta

I’m still gradually overcoming old food aversions.

Raw onions aren’t gross, but I had to learn to eat onion when I first started, this is a lot of progress. I didn’t cook them at all and I know that’s a terrible thing to do to onions like these, but I couldn’t help it once. Way back when, before I stopped eating fish sauce is a good marker of time as any, I found a recipe for Peanut Butter Pasta, which didn’t really stick because I’m not that sold on ginger, unless it’s cooked and mingled with other flavours, but recently I have wanted to use it more, no coincidence that I’m currently growing some. So, when I was sitting here thinking about how to use it I remembered this old recipe, older than I realised, which included raw scallions and ginger. So, using that as a base I left out the fish sauce and use smoked salt, kept the peanut butter natural, left out the water, but kept the stock cube, I gave that paste a little heat and added the chicken, tossed it well and let it just cook, then in went the coconut milk and I let it all simmer away. The whole thing is super quick to prepare, I upped the ginger to about a tablespoon, I have it minced and frozen in cubes, increased the garlic and served it with buckwheat ramen, which is a thing apparently, I found it on Amazon under the King Soba brand, they make great free from noodles, it’s a little chewy and slightly elastic, you do need to rinse it well in cold water after cooking or it’ll clump. Then I tossed over the Welsh Onions because they’re all I had.

It’s a light sauce, ginger is the foremost taste, but it’s mellowed by the coconut and the peanut butter gives it just a hint of richer texture, but by using just enough it doesn’t thicken too much and detract from the slippery noodles, which refused to stay on my spoon, yes, a spoon. I was tempted to make this a separate recipe, but as with all of these reworks it wasn’t different enough and it’s still being shared. I love so many cuisines, Dear Reader, but I can’t eat any of them! Still I can take gentle inspiration, never matching the original, and get a little extra goodness in my meals. I hope to have fresh green onions to top rice and pasta with, I’m trying to include the fresh, easily harvested greens from the garden this year more than I have. I’ll get there eventually. Until later, Dear Reader, take care.

Same Old, Same New: Peanut Butter Timing and Noodles

Simmer, simmer something new(ish) for my dinner.

Welcome to Pep’s Free From Kitchen, I sometimes post food. Heh. Yo, Dear Reader, I told you I’d be back with…I didn’t? Well, surprise? I muddled a lot of ingredients together yesterday and just made a mess, edible, but nothing worthwhile so I decide to do myself better today. So, this is a mixture of recipes, but essentially you need a peanut butter, I used smooth for a change, version of Tahini Chicken which varies as to how it cooks but that doesn’t matter here, toss that aside, and fry some onions and a few cloves of garlic, all chopped chunky, or as you like, in some olive oil until they’re nicely browned, no need to go as far as caramelising, this is a quick preparation, then add the coated Chicken pieces give it all a stir and just cook for long enough to give the honey a chance to release that just starting to burn smell, it sounds like I’m being funny, but you’ll smell what I mean if you toss that mixture into a hot pan, a quick toss about is all you need, just to seal the chicken really, reduce the heat for a few minutes and then add the coconut milk, not cream we’re using a thickener in the nut butter after all, you let the heat reduce to avoid splitting the milk, give it a stir, let it bubble away for a while until it turns from a light brown to a more rich caramel colour and slap in your noodles, I’m using 100% Buckwheat Soba, I’ve bought quick cook noodles online so I might be playing with looser recipes in the future, and let them heat. Oh, you have to really rinse the soba in cold water to prevent it clumping, it works is all I can say, but you need to extra few minutes to reheat. The whole thing should take the same for boiling a large pot of water, give the onions a hair more maybe.

This is…two, maybe three recipes all muddled together.

You’re looking for a just thickened, just melted nut butter in slightly reduced coconut milk, sauce. The idea is to eat it as almost a broth, if you’re me, Dear Reader, you’ll need a fork and a spoon and lots of patience, those noodles are slippery. I have done warm Peanut Butter Pasta before, but this is a much thinner style. The short cooking time really imparts a different flavour to the peanut butter, it’s just let melt and little else so it’s much more like stick a spoon in a jar than eating something cooked. Truth be told, I had a caving for onions and have been watching a Japanese Drama about food. I love Japanese style food, it’s so far from what we eat here, I could eat much of it, but I enjoy it vicariously and respect the work that goes into that style. I like to be respectful of other cuisines and understand that imitation pales in comparison to having lived on a food and having everything to hand coupled with the knowledge of how it should taste. This is jut me screwing around, Dear Reader, but today it worked well. Not much else to say so I’ll leave it here. I’ll be back later, until then take care.

Same Old Same New: Mild To The Max

Mix it all up and just slather it everywhere.

I never actually run out of much because, Dear Reader, I write the shopping list, do the shopping and that will never happen. I don’t like hunger and outside of the set things I eat daily and weekly there isn’t anything I can just grab so I never let it happen. I do occasionally run low, I buy a lot of fruit and vegetables that wouldn’t stay fresh if I buy too many, so sometimes I’m left wondering what I’ll make with what I have. Today I wanted something mild tasting, not to be mistaken for bland, something warm, since the weather is miserable, filling and just gentle. So I took this and this and smashed them together.

I found a shallot, so add shallots.

The carob chicken is intense due to the prevalence of aniseed flavours, I mitigated that by using garam masala as the spice instead of the Five Spice, just a rough teaspoon this all rough, Dear Reader, I used a tablespoon of honey and carob syrup, surprisingly this isn’t noticeably sweet, the honey cuts the tahini’s sharp taste, I mixed all that with a little salt, pepper and garlic granules, it’s just a thick paste, but I rubbed it all onto the chicken anyway, you’ll have to scoop it all into the pan when frying, but it cooks better when mixed first.

I’m sparing this carob syrup, so much that I forget to use it.

I used an onion, garlic, I love garlic, and a shallot, fried in olive oil this time, rather than butter. Tossed the chicken into the pan on a low heat, keeping it from caramelising too much, again: mild, left that to cook for a while, this was being cooked alongside the rice so times vary, I love this post format as this is how I often cook, Dear Reader, rather than he methodical posts you often see accompanying recipes, I do that for my Dear Reader who wants to learn, but you can lean here too, just in a less structured way.

Coconut cream because it’s all I had.

I tossed in the coconut cream, which was thickened by the tahini and peanut butter, about half a tablespoon each. There can be an issue getting the sauce to reduce when using nut or seed butters, you’re better to let the coconut cream or milk residue first and then add them, otherwise you’ll have to crank up the heat and potentially spilt the cream, which isn’t bad, but it can be very oily and might not be that pleasant. The whole thing just simmered away, I occasionally tossed the chicken about, more for something to do than for any real purpose, though flip it at least once to ensure and even cook.

Anything like this ends up either Golden Brown or Sunny Orange.

As for the taste? It was just a gentle, warming dish.It is funny how you can add too much to a dish and destroy the balance and here there was a very simple flavour, that tasted just right, if there wasn’t enough it’d be noticeable, but it isn’t so strong that you notice the flavour all that much either. I’m no great expert on spices, Dear Reader, I’ve learned a lot over the years, but I still add too much, forget to taste. There are so many useful spices and I try to vary it, there are many health benefits to everything I use, it’s why I eat what I eat, I just no longer think of that as I cook, I just do it and enjoy it. Hopefully I’ll have something new soon, Dear Reader, I did make scones and quinoa bread, I used teff and buckwheat and it is very tasty as a combo. Worth thinking of for future recipes. Until later, take care.

Until We Plant Again

For seeds literally flung at the soil they did well.

You’ll see this meal and it’s variations often so we might as well talk about it.

As you know, Dear Reader, I’m always mindful of new readers and if you’re new you’ll fall for that. Okay, all joking aide there are a series of dinners I eat and one you’l see often is the one above, with many tweaks and changes. My diet is one hat has taken a long time to fine-tune, you can see the progress scattered all over the blog, signature chaos in every post, none of this was ever planned that far ahead because I never knew where I was heading. Still, quinoa and amaranth, though amaranth is the later addition it’s strong taste and unusual texture pushed me harder to make it palatable, now I wouldn’t be without either. So, for the above nut butter versions and standard preparations you can check out Quinoa and Amaranth’s recipe pages respectively. Quinoa was a saving grace for me, without it I’d have had a much harder struggle, it took a lot even then for me t love it as I do now. That’s what you have to understand, Dear Reader, these recipe pages are packed because they’re diaries of expeditions into the unknown, I took recipes that barely coked them reworked them to get a basic recipe and then went far beyond that again. You might have to read and reread, but I honestly believe they’re worthwhile.

The stuffing balls are indeed the last of the Harlequin, Sage and Apple Stuffing and,yes, Neophyte Dear Reader, that’s a variation of my own recipe With Sausage that was a remake of he classic Irish potato stuffing, not that I didn’t have another with Rice originally. Using two kinds of rice if needs be. See? I’m not bragging, I’ve just been through a lot in regards food and there are a lot of things I’ve tried over the years. As for harlequin squash, well, you’ll see a lot of that later in the year all going well again. The carrot and parsnip are fresh from the garden, sadly the sweet potato isn’t, and were absurdly delicious. The parsnip just melted into creamy flesh inside a soft shell of tender skin, the carrots retain a complex mixture of firmness and tenderness in roasting that can’t be matched. The chicken was steamed and partly boiled in a pan with turkey juices from the freezer. It’s nothing that can’t be done in any kitchen, Dear Reader, but that’s the point, even with all the limitations on my diet there is still so much I can eat and grow. For now I eat through the old supplies and plan the year’s garden. Take care Dear Reader.

Same Old, Same New: Almond Curry In A…Well, Just a Pan.

In all honesty, Dear Reader, I haven’t enough content to fill two posts so once again I’ll do double duty and just ram all of this into one.

You’ll forgive me because you’re so kind-hearted…surely…I hope.

An oldie, but a goodie. Original Here.

My curries all spawn from my own recipes, the earliest are the Peanut and Almond, when I first went nightshade free after only just learning how to make Thai curries, a sad loss as they’re delicious, there wasn’t really an recipes beyond the most basic and bland curry sauce, naturally I couldn’t stick at a diet that was just bland food over and over, I had to learn and learn fast, there was no preemptive planning with any of this, it was all terrifying seat of the pants stuff and I never once went backwards. Which is crazy when I think of he resolve that that took. The almond curry was originally a almond crumbed chicken recipe with Indian spices, my first introduction to garam masala if I’m not mistaken. It hasn’t yet been nine years yet that was another life and another me, Dear Reader. It is a simple recipe, still it had the benefit of having spices that were very distinct from the usual curry powder and it used almond butter sparingly, always a bonus at the cost, without losing the taste. Yes, Dear Reader, I worked out a recipe based on rough approximations, almonds became almond butter, spices that seemingly paired with that flavour became a part of my pantry and I jammed all these new ideas into the basic curry recipe that has stood me all these years.

Rich colour thanks to so many browns.

The garlic is up.

Extreme close up. They’re going back now. Hope the last until next year.

Now there are really just two ways I do curries, in a pot, where there is a lot of sauce and very tender meat, and vegetables if using, if not and they appear you’ve done something wrong, this is naturally due to the steam, it can cause too much sauce if there’s a lot of moisture present, like if you’re adding fruit and as nut butter will thicken and stop sauce reducing too much you can end up swimming in curry, which sounds great really, no, Dear Reader, I will not take any of this seriously, I know too much that if I speak seriously about it it sounds stuffy and arrogant, so I sometimes use a frying pan instead, it helps with quick reduction and does cook everything quickly. Today i decided to enhance the flavours a little, I fried the onion and garlic in a little butter and olive oil, on a nice high heat, but not letting them burn just brown, butter helps this as it browns too as it heats, I then added a little honey and let it caramelise a little, then I added the usual spices, with a little extra asafoetida powder, still unsure how to use it outside curries, and a little Chinese Five Spice, mostly the same, in went the chicken, almond butter and the spices to be coated and cooked through, to keep the chicken firmer. The whole mixture cooked away on a lower heat for a while so the coconut milk wouldn’t split when added, I warm it on the range to melt it and save myself scraping the tiny tin, and the whole pan turned the golden brown colour you see above. It’s all the browns in the recipe combining. It doesn’t guarantee it’ll taste good, but it did this time, I reduced it a lot and the taste was intense. It’s a really great recipe and I love the health benefits that the spices and ingredients bring. I think about it a lot, but understand no ingredient is a magical cure and by itself rather useless. Eat all the good you can, Dear Reader that’s my motto.

A little less chaos next year…I hope.

Finally the juice is loose!

I’m still cleaning stones, there must have been three or four tons taken, all for free thanks to a friend’s kindness in thinking of Jack, Dear Reader, but the work is mostly done. The rose garden has been roped in as has the dahlia patch, the first I suppose I have to say now as there is a second, which will need some fencing too, have to keep making work for myself to get through the Winter after all. The eyelets let the rope run smoothly and kept it tight so that worked, hopefully it’ll stop the inevitable sprawl of the roses. I feed my plants well, and as I sit here typing this I’m reminded I have a bucket of comfrey tea that has been there for a month or two, maybe three, that might need to be emptied and soon, it’ll be smelly, which is avast understatement, I’m scared, Dear Reader. I have undiluted, no rain to wash the worms in the greenhouse, shocking I know, it doesn’t rain indoors, write that down, worm…worm juice? Worm…feed? No idea, there are crude options here, but this is a family blog so shush. Supposedly you can store the run off from both the worms and the rotting vegetable matter, it’s lost in the composters, no way to save that and with the volume of rain it’d be heavily watered anyways, if it helps then it’ll be great, should be useful it’s every thing from coffee to banana peel, all the nutrient rich waste that people, er, waste. I just need a rain cover when the wormery travels back outside in the Spring. Growing food is exciting if you’re interested, probably dull if you’re not. Ah, well, Dear Reader, you can’t please everyone and if they complain I’ll throw comfrey tea at them. Until later. Take care.

Same Old, Same New: Cottage Pie

The Original.

The garden is slowing, Dear Reader, far from done, but the work is dwindling. I’ve been thinking a lot about one of he issues the blog has brought, there’s a need for posts, maybe not a need, but you understand me, and with my dietary requirement recipes aren’t easy to come by and often have to be created from scratch, add to that the difficulty of fitting in new foods and trial recipes into a very rigid dietary structure, well, it can be stressful. The one thing I’m faced with is there are a lot of ways I utilize the ingredients I have, but often they’d be a poor recipe in themselves and are thus unshareable as such. Obviously their uses hold a lot of valuable information on preparation and culinary uses. When dealing with a plethora of food issues any help is useful, so, here we are. Think of this as a trial run, it’ll be posts wherein I explain what I use ingredients for, how I use them when I’m diverging from a recipe, whether for convenience or fun, but it’ll also be a more relaxed format. Less carefully typed ingredients and methods, I’ll usually be basing these on recipes I have already so you can go there as a refresher or for help, and because working any harder on these posts, flippant as they are I do take this all seriously, Dear Reader, it’d be pointless and exhausting. Depending on how they’re received and how they type up you may never see another post like this, but if they’re useful, well, we’ll see. As always if you like what I do you can buy me a coffee here.

Turkey Mince has been useful.

As I say I often eat the same thing over and over and am often annoyed at being restricted. So I’ll end up playing with what I have. With this I had it in mind that a sauteed Harlequin topping would make a great replacement for mash on the cottage pie, but obviously that wouldn’t freeze. So, a half portion made fresh was in order. I went out and grabbed a shallot, I love the stronger taste of just browned shallot, when browned I added turkey mince, for sheer convenience and mild taste it’s hard to beat and versatile, the comes the magic: Cashew Butter Gravy. I love this, it’s rich and velvety, just a stock cube a pinch of thyme, parsley, salt, pepper and garlic powder. It’s a small serve so it thickens fast. It’s stupidly rich, you need to cut it with something.

Just grow your own or use another sauteeable vegetable.

See, this is why this format helps. No everyone has this, wouldn’t work as a recipe, but as a discussion it works. You could question the nutritional aspects of food like this, but honestly compared to how I could prepare food this is nothing. Imagine all the cheese and fat an average recipe similar to this would feature. So I top the gravy mince with crispy, fluffy, piping hot harlequin and then toss some cheese on top. The whole thing, aside from peeling the squash which I did earlier and made stuffing, is twenty minutes or so, it’s quick, but comes from knowing how everything works together and how to prepare it. Practice in other words, Dear Reader, it’s a mixed preparation, but the steps are the same. It was good, really nice, a large serving wouldn’t been too much in all honestly. I don’t do this elaborate food much for my second meal of the day, but once in a while it breaks the monotony. Getting tired of what I eat is still on of my biggest struggles.

Split cheese optional.

So, there we go. A look at some of the other things I eat when I’m not putting together a recipe. I’m not sure where this will go, but if you have any suggestions or requests I’m open to listening. Let me know below and I’ll be back later, Dear Reader.