Recipe: Baby Roma Tomato & Bocconcino Christmas Starters

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To begin our Christmas food tutorials we thought we would start with one of our longtime favourite starters.  These little Santa-like food structures are so easy to make and make a gorgeous minimalist statement.  And most importantly, they are delicious to eat!

Ingredients

Mini Bocconino balls (a delicious little cheese ball)

Mini Roma tomatoes

Fresh mint leaves (or basil)

Pepper

Olive oil

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Method

1. Carefully slice the bottoms of the tomatoes, trying to make them as level as possible.  We use a Japanese ceramic knife which makes life a lot easier when slicing.

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2. Turn the tomatoes and slice of the other side so that they are now shaped like little barrels, keeping them as level as you can.

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3. Using the other end of a spoon, de-seed the tomatoes.

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4.  Wash the mint leaves and push one mint leaf into the centre of each tomato.

christmasentree65. Place a mini bocconcino on top of each tomato.  They will just be perched on top but will stay quite well.
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6. Display on a white platter.   Crack some pepper on top and drizzle Olive oil over the top.

Hand them around to your guests who will love them.   Check out our other Christmas tutorials, we have a Birdie Advent Calendar, Star + Cane Advent Calendar, Felted Wreath and plenty more coming in the weeks leading up to Christmas.

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How To: Open-Fire Cooking

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We love open-fire cooking.   In Australia, due to the many months of hot, dry weather, we have fire bans for much of the year.  We took advantage of the cooler weather to make an open-fire meal.  Cooking on an open fire is so much fun and it just tastes so much better.  Camp cooking is the best, but even a small fire at home is so much fun for family and friends.

Here’s a few great recipes and tips…

1. Make sure that you are allowed to light a fire where you light it and that it is safe.

2. Light a fire using kindling (small sticks) or with fire starters and then add bigger pieces of wood, newspaper or heat beads.  A helpful tip is to make sure that you buy heat beads that are easy to light or you could be there for a long time just trying to get the fire going.

3. To cook the food all you really need is some sort of  a grill or grate to put over the fire.

4. Use foil to wrap the food.  Fish is great when cooked in foil, with olive oil and butter.  To steam vegetables, just wrap them in foil with any spices you like and add a half cup of water before you seal it.  To cook potatoes, just wrap them in foil.

5. Stay close to the fire at all times and make sure that it is completely out before you leave the area.

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Recipes for an open-fire cooked meal

Fish:  Buy (or catch) a fish from the fishmonger.  Ask you fishmonger to gut the fish.  Fresh fish need very little done to them to make them taste delicious and melt in the mouth.  Just slice a lemon and push them inside the fish, coat the fish with a small amount of olive oil and some coarse sea salt and then wrap it in foil.  Place the foil on the grate.  Fish cook very quickly and it will probably only take 20 minutes to cook.  For this cookout we used a pan-fry Snapper.  This works well because it is not too crumbly and is very sweet to taste.

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Corn:  Take a corn in its husk.  Open some of the husks and pour a small amount of water into it.  Place fresh corn, still in the husk, directly onto the grill.  These need to be turned a few times and take about the same time as the fish to cook.  Cooked corn can be smothered in butter before it is eaten.

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Sweet Potato:  This takes the longest to cook and can be started an hour before the rest.  Or if you are close to home you can cheat and put the potato, with the skin on into the microwave for a few minutes on high and then wrap it in foil and put it straight onto the grill to cook.  Once cooked, open the potato, melt butter in the middle and sprinkle with cinnamon.

Cabbage:  Chop half of a purple cabbage into small strips.  Place the cabbage onto a piece of foil.  Fold the edges up slightly then coat the cabbage in Balsamic vinegar and add a dessertspoon of sugar.  Add a little extra water if you wish.  Seal the foil leaving a little space at the top for the steam to build.  This will take about half an hour to cook on an open flame.

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When everything is cooked, just open the foil packages and serve.  It is so easy and taste is fresh and a little smoky and  ….. just better.

Other food that goes well in an open fire:

  • Mushrooms, put some butter and herbs with them, sprinkle with a little sea salt and wrap in foil.
  • Bok Choy or other greens.  Wrap them in the foil with water and some soy sauce.
  • Onions, chop them into rings and put some butter or oil in with them.  Wrap them in the foil.
  • Onions, tomatoes and sausages.  Dice the onions and tomatoes and chop the sausages into small chunks.  Add some butter and some sweet chilli sauce and wrap in foil.
  • Carrots.  Par-boil them then add honey, butter and a little water to them.

cookout11After your meal, place some marshmallows onto a stick and cook them in the flame, until their outsides are browned and the insides are sticky and gooey.  And very yummy.

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How To: Indonesian Satay Sauce

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On our recent trip to Indonesia, we ate a LOT of satay.  It is the most wonderful nutty flavour, fresh with a little kick.  And so versatile,  it can be used to make Gado Gado, or used with chicken or beef and served with rice.  This recipe was constructed from ingredients given to me by our wonderful driver, Wyen,  while in Indonesia.  He gave us this recipe while sitting eating Nasi Goreng and sipping on coconut juice in a rural outdoor restaurant, set in the midst of green fields with rice growing.  Brown sugar has been used instead of the traditional palm sugar, because that it was what in the pantry.  Feel free to use palm sugar but please make sure it is ethically sourced.
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Ingredients

2 cups fresh raw peanuts

Juice of 1 lime

1 Tbs brown sugar

1/4 tsp chilli flakes

2 Tbs Kecap Manis

2 Tbs Soya Sauce

1 cup water

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Method

1. Add all of the ingredients to your high speed blender.  Blend ingredients for about a minute on an average speed.  If you leave it for longer, all of the peanuts will become smooth.

2. Scoop out the sauce into a small bowl to serve.  This sauce also stores well in an airtight container.  It will keep for up to a month in the fridge.

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3. Use this simple method to make beef satay.  Cut your beef into small cubes and place five or six of them onto a wooden skewer.  Marinate the skewers in the satay sauce and then cook on a bbq.  Serve the satay sauce with it as a dipping sauce.

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How To: Gluten-Free Strawberry Clafoutis

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Clafoutis is a beautiful, rustic French dessert which is easy to make.  It is a sort of mixture between a pudding and a cake.  Light and refreshing and tastes delicious, clafoutis is traditionally cooked with cherries.  Strawberries also taste very good with it. The berries will bubble and dye the batter a gorgeous, bright pink. We guarantee that children love clafoutis! This recipe is both gluten-free and dairy-free (made with coconut milk).

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Ingredients

1/3 cup (70 grams) natural cane sugar
3 eggs
1 cup (225 ml) coconut milk
1 vanilla bean, split and seeded
1/4 cup (35 grams) superfine brown rice flour
4 Tbs (40 grams) almond flour
pinch salt
1/2 tsp cinnamon
2 punnets strawberries

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Method

1. In a bowl whisk together the sugar and eggs.

2. Add the coconut milk, vanilla seeds, brown rice flour, almond flour, salt and cinnamon.

3. Place the strawberries into the dish (or small dishes).  We cooked our clafoutis in four wide-mouthed mason jars and this was wonderful.

4. Pour the batter over the top of the strawberries.

5. Sprinkle sugar and almond flour on top for a lovely crunch.

6. Bake them at 180C/375F for 20 – 30 minutes, depending on the size of the dish.

7. The clafoutis will set in the middle.  Do not overcook it as it tastes better if it is like custard on the inside.

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How To: Apple and Cheese Stack (Delicious Snack)

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This is probably the most simple and easy tutorial we have ever posted — but still one of our favourites. This apple and cheese stack is perfect — and gluten free! This is very quick and easy to make. If you have an apple spiraliser use it for this.  Children love this snack.  It has a lot of visual appeal and cheese and apple is delicious together.

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Ingredients

1 Granny Smith (or any other) apple

Semi- matured Swiss Cheese

Honey or Agave Nectar

Cranberries (optional)

Cinnamon

Method for Making Apple Stack

1. Core the apple using a corer, or spiraliser.

2. Cut the apple into slim slices.

3. Cut the cheese slices.

4. Re-stack the apple, placing a slice of cheese in between each apple slice.

5. Drizzle honey over the apple stack.

6. Sprinkle cinnamon on top.

7. Sprinkle dried cranberries or goji berries around.

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How To: Gluten-Free Summer Peach Flan

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We found our first peaches in the store this week…. A reminder that summer in Australia is coming soon, just as it disappears in the Northern Hemisphere. Maybe there are peaches left from summer in the North, there are definitely peaches coming in the South. They are a fruit which has no equal, in juiciness and flavour.

This is another post from the past from December 2011.

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The secret to this perfect peach flan is a fantastic knife. We use a Japanese ceramic knife for the delicate slicing that this recipe requires. This flan is a showstopper and a great addition to a summer party.

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Recipe for Summer Peach Flan

Ingredients for Shortcrust Pastry

225g (2 cups) All purpose gluten-free flour (of course you can use gluten flour also)

good pinch of salt

100g (8 tablespoons) butter at room temperature

45ml (3 tablespoons) cold water

Sugar – to taste (I used about 2 tablespoons of white sugar only)

How to Make Shortcrust Pastry Pie Shell

1.Sift the flour and sugar into a mixing bowl

2.Cut the butter into small chunks and rub it into the flour mix between your fingers.

3.Pour the water in and combine to make a stiff dough.

4.Take the dough out of the bowl and roll it in your fingers to make a ball.

5.Wrap the dough in plastic wrap and leave in the fridge for ten minutes to an hour. (You can leave it overnight as I did – no problem).

6.Roll out the dough on a floured board with quick rolls from the middle, turning the board around.

7.Lightly grease your pie dish.

8.Stretch the dough over your pie dish, gently press it in and trim the edges. Prick the base with a fork and place in the fridge for 30 minutes.

9.Preheat the oven to 180 degrees celcius (350 Farenheit).

10.Line the pastry with baking paper and cover with lentils or baking weights. Bake for 15 minutes, then remove the lentils or weights and cook for another ten minutes until golden. Remove from the oven and let it cool.

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Ingredients for Peach Flan Filling

4 – 5 ripe peaches

2 teaspoons freshly ground nutmeg

Sugar to taste – I only used two dessert spoons as I like to use as little sugar as possible.

How to Make Flan Filling

1.Cut the peaches into quarters, then carefully remove the stone and cut the quarters into four small slices.

2.Place the thin peach slices around the pin tin, starting from the outside and overlapping them. Make sure that the pieces are faced with with skin to upwards.

3.When you get to the centre, cut some tiny slices for the middle.

4.Sprinkle the nutmeg and sugar over the peaches.

5.Place the flan in the oven and cook at 180 degrees celcius (350 Farenheit) for 30 minutes.

Slice your flan and serve with cream or ice cream – or plain because it is divinely delicious!

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How To: Gluten-Free Chocolate Peanut Butter Cookies

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These cookies were adapted from a vegan recipe given to me by a friend, Tessa Martens. I have made them gluten-free instead of vegan. When gluten-free cooking it can be tricky to get a moist delicious, melt in the mouth cookie. These are them. They are our favourite cookies we have ever eaten. We hope you enjoy making them. If you are not gluten free, you can easily adapt these to wheat flour.

Recipe for Gluten-Free Chocolate Peanut Butter Cookies

Ingredients for Chocolate Dough

1/2 cup Olive oil

3/4 cup sugar

1/4 cup agave nectar

3 tablespoons milk

1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract

1 1/2 cups gluten-free flour (you can buy special mixes for cookies now)

1/3 cup raw cacao powder

1/2 teaspoon baking soda

1/4 teaspoon salt

Ingredients for Peanut Butter Filling

3/4 cup Natural unsalted peanut butter

1/2 cup sugar

2 tablespoons milk

1/4 teaspoon vanilla extract

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How to Make Gluten-Free Chocolate Peanut Butter Cookies

1.Mix the wet ingredients for the chocolate dough in a bowl.

2.Sift in the flour, cacao, baking soda and salt.

3.Mix until you have a firm-ish dough.

4.(Make the filling) Mix together peanut butter, sugar, milk and vanilla extract in a bowl. It should be a wet dough.

5.Preheat the oven to 350°F/180°c.

6.Lining and baking tray with baking paper.

7.Scoop up a ball of chocolate dough, roll into a ball and then press it into a disc in your hands.

8.Take a ball of peanut butter filling half the size of the chocolate ball. Place it onto the chocolate disc and wrap the chocolate dough around it until the peanut butter ball is completely covered.

9.Place it onto the baking paper and continue to do this until all the dough is used. Place cookies about 5 centimetres apart.

10.Place cookies into the oven for 10 minutes. Remove and cool on a cooling rack for 10 minutes.

11.Store in an airtight container.

* Note we have used raw cacao because we love the taste and it is healthier, but you could used cocoa instead. Also where we use agave nectar, you could use Maple Syrup.

How To: Cherry Sago with Coconut Milk & Cinnamon

This is the perfect combination: Cherries and sago. The sourness of the cherries is balanced with a little sugar and the crunch of the cherries balances the smooth, sago balls.

Sago is a starch without much nutrition, so the cherries add a lot of goodness to it!

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Recipe for Cherry Sago

Ingredients

60 grams sago

1 cup coconut milk

1/2 cup water

30 grams sugar

2 tablespoons agave nectar

1 stick cinnamon

350g cherries

Method
1.Simmer the sago in a saucepan with sugar, coconut milk, water and cinammon, stirring until the sago is transparent.
2.Add the cherries (you can leave the pips in them for this recipe but be sure that you tell the people eating it and take them out for small children and elderly people) stir well, then cover and simmer for 10 minutes, until the cherries are tender and the juice is pink.
3.Remove the cinnamon and leave the sago to cool.
4.When it is cool, serve it in little bowls and garnish with cherries, or even pistachio nuts (yes, I love them!)

*If you don’t have agave nectar, you can add another 20grams sugar.

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