Seasonal Eats: Mango Salsa

mango salsa || cityhippyfarmgirl

It being the height of summer here in Australia at the moment, it’s hard to imagine any day that doesn’t involve hot, or at least a variation of hot. Sure I know it will eventually, it usually does but for the moment it’s all about the heat and how to get through it all without melting into a puddle.

Swimming helps, and oooh yes indeedy it does help. Swimming is divine. Feeling the silken flow of water over your body is one of the greatest things in life. I can wax lyrical on that topic from now until eternity…however it’s not about the water today.

So how else do we cope with the regularly accompanying heat of an Australian summer? Well, I’ll start by doing as little cooking as possible. Sure I still bake sourdough. It’s a baking standard round here. But if I can stretch out the days in between putting the oven on in an already hotter than hot kitchen I will.

Filling bellies is the thing though. If I don’t want to use the oven, and am trying to steer clear of any stove top cooking as well, well that leaves a little less food options when cooking from scratch.

Mango salsa, is thankfully something that doesn’t involve either the oven or stove top. Sure you probably don’t want it accompanying every meal time…but you could certainly give it a crack!

mango-salsa-recipe-cityhippyfarmgirl

Mango Salsa

2 mangoes, peeled, seed taken out and flesh chopped evenly

1 small spanish or brown onion, finely diced

1 small chilli, deseeded if super fiery hot, and finely diced

1 squeeze of lime

1 grated small radish

a generous handful of roughly chopped mint

pinch of salt and black pepper

Add all ingredients together and serve with chickpea pancakes if you don’t mind using the stove top, or a bowl of corn chips, and a cold drink with as many ice cubes stuffed in as possible.

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What’s your favourite way to stay cool over summer?

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Confessions over Chickpea Pancakes

chickpea pancakes

They’re gluten free, vegetarian and taste pretty darn good sidled up with a little sweet chilli sauce number. The thing is could I make them as well as I had at home, and successfully take them to a big group lunch time gathering?

First up I’d like to make a confession. It’s rather a ridiculous one, and I’m the first to admit that, but it’s there all the same, so here goes.

I have food making-taking anxiety.

Say what?

I hear over rolled eyes and crinkled brows. Food making-taking anxiety? What the hell does that even mean? 

Please. Grab a coffee (it’s Sunday after all) push the snoozing dog off the arm chair and get weekend comfortable while I explain.

I cook a lot. No surprises there. This blog over the past nearly 7 years has it’s foundations fairly rooted into food and cooking, we are familiar with that.

Ok, yeeesss…keep going.

So I like cooking, and I like thinking about cooking. The planning, the putting together and deliciously, the eating. However when it comes to taking food to someone else’s house, or perhaps as a gift, passing it on to someone else etc. Well, I slightly fall apart.

Sure it doesn’t stop me from doing it, and yes, I still do it allll the time, but each time my brain goes into slight freak out mode whenever someone says, (especially these words) “bring a plate”. In a 10 second spasm I’m saying in my head….but I can’t cook, what will I take, WHAT will I take!…

And exhale. Yes, I could buy something. (Actually on second thought, well no, I can’t. That’s just not going to happen, I have my own standards to live within remember.)

So the brain now does a few epileptic jumps from one food to another, trying to think of the ‘right’ one. It’s like sorting through files on files within a computer system looking for a file that might or might not exist, you’ll only know for sure, when you see it.

What usually happens now, and yes I know it’s ridiculous. I generally decide on something I’ve never made before. But why would I start on something I’m yet to trial and truly nail I hear you say? Beats me, no idea, not even the slightest. But yes, yes that’s what I often do.

Alternatively, there is a slightly different version to this tale when I’m taking something and this time I have actually made it over and over again. This time the dish-bread-meal is truly nailed to the the last detail, all within the confines of my own home. And yet when I go to take the trusty…[insert dish, bread, meal] it’s just not quite there. Not bad enough to go, oh crap, that’s horrendous, wow, never bring that again. But just enough to go, mmm, well thanks for the thought Brydie, you gave it a crack, and it was very NICE of you to think of us. (Quietly scraping food into compost, chook bucket, bin.)

Now I’m not that much of a duffer that this would happen all the time, sometimes I really can deliver on something that is quite delicious! But if I was a betting woman, I’d say the money is pretty fairly divied up and a 1:2 chance of you having to smile politely as your poor teeth have to try and sink through the hard crusty thing I’ve just offered up at your table is a good one. Combine that with the chance of me making something I’ve never made before, and might or might not be a bit of an experimental flop, I’d say there was room for a little food-making-taking-anxiety.

(I tell you, it’s totally a thing.)

chickpea pancakes

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These were delicious and super easy (when made at home.) Also a natural follow on after playing with buckwheat pancakes from a few posts previously.

chickpea pancakes

Chickpea Pancakes

2 cups besan flour (chickpea flour)

2 beaten eggs

250mls cream

125mls water

1 finely diced brown onion

3 cloves garlic finely diced

1 knob of ginger, peeled and grated

1 tsp dried cumin

2 tsp salt

Vegetable oil

In a pan add a good slug of your favourite vegetable oil, add onion, garlic and ginger. Cook until onion is translucent. In a bowl add besan flour, beaten eggs, salt and cream. Whisk together, also adding in your onion mixture.

Cook up in batches in a frying pan with a little vegetable oil.

Optional extras– jazz these up with some kimchi, spinach or anything else you have going.

Best (yet) Buckwheat Pancakes

buckwheat-pancakes-00-cityhippyfarmgirl

When a gluten free diet was suggested by my well loved professional holistic caregiver, there might have been a slight whimper on my part.

Gluten, there’s no denying it. It’s delicious.

Not the actual glutenous fibres themselves but the food in which that gluten is often encased. Anyone who has been a long time reader of this blog might have subtly noticed I bake a fair chunk of the time. Mostly, because I like to keep costs down, like to feed my ravenous family with great food, and I also want to know what’s going in all those breakfasts, lunches, dinner’s, morning teas, afternoon teas, and snacks.

All sounds very wholesome and love fuelled right? Well it’s also fairly gluten based when it comes to my baking, (even if a fair chunk of it is wholemeal spelt flour based.)

So, a gluten free diet for me eh?

Well that would wipe out the two thick slices of delicious homemade sourdough in the morning then wouldn’t it?

It would probably leave out the healthy backyard vegetable salad with a tasty little pangritata on top.

It would also probably wipe out the custard tart eaten with my equally gluten loving friend with a side order of books, photography and belly laughing chitchat.

Dinner would look a little less like orechiette alle broccoli and more like…well broccoli.

But that was fine. It was just a trial to see where things were at, to see what was what and well, why was why? Something like that anyway. In a nutshell, gluten was off the menu for the next three ish weeks.

Now I knew with any changes in dietary requirements the key to success was preparation.

P.R.E.P.A.R.A.T.I.O.N.

After a gluten fuelled “see you in a bit” honorary party the night before I started, the first day arrives and I happily head to the kitchen ready to embark on all things un-glutenous. It’s Sunday which means pancakes round these parts, and the kids laid the table out in readiness. But me, what about me? What was a poor gluten-free woman to do when it’s Pancake Sunday? Wholemeal Spelt pancakes weren’t going to cut it, and it seems my very first meal was a fail first up.

I hadn’t prepared a damn thing…and I was hungry. Step two in successful dietary changes is don’t let yourself get too hungry (especially on the first day!) as it will be easy to slip into the habits of old.

I admitted defeat. Enjoyed 5 gluten filled pancakes and declared I would start at lunch.

Now what I should have done and certainly did in subsequent meals was swap the spelt flour for buckwheat.

Buckwheat Pancakes, I’ve made these countless times over the last few weeks with varying degrees of success. Some with rice flour in there as well, some with egg whites, some with ricotta, but the best and most dependable seem to be a simple ratio of egg, flour and milk. It’s nothing crazy but for my own reference I’m putting these up, best (yet) Buckwheat Pancakes.

(Also for all future references, buckwheat pancakes and lemon curd is an entirely acceptable trade off for gluten.)

buckwheat-01-cityhippyfarmgirl

Buckwheat Pancakes

25g melted butter

1 beaten egg

1 cup buckwheat flour

1/4 tsp bicarbonate soda

1 cup milk

Whisk all ingredients together and cook in pan. Stack ’em high and eat with enthusiasm.

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growing buckwheat

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Lemon Ricotta and Almond Cake

Lemon and Almond Ricotta Cake || cityhippyfarmgirl

Lemon Almond and Ricotta Cake || cityhippyfarmgirl

If I’m lucky enough to get to 85 years old I’ll probably eat cake for breakfast.

Straight up. A big chunk of cake on my favourite plate and a extra large cup of chai on the side.

I was certainly encouraging for my grandmother to eat cake for breakfast on her birthday recently. Not just any cake but this one that I made for her. It’s got almonds, ricotta and low in sugar, with some careful thinking I would say this cake ticks quite a few boxes for a slight woman in her eighties and the first meal of the day.

It also happily ticked a few birthday cake boxes. The requirements were gluten free, low sugar, not chocolatey and not ‘eggy’. With the satisfying soft scent of lemon billowing done the hall, I’d say this simple cake was done and dusted, (and dusted with icing sugar that is.)

Lemon Almond Ricotta Cake || cityhippyfarmgirl

Lemon Almond and Ricotta Cake

150g softened butter

2/3 cup sugar

3 beaten eggs

zest of two lemons

200g almond meal

250g ricotta

icing sugar

Cream butter and sugar together. Add beaten eggs and zest of two lemons. Fold through almond meal and ricotta. Pour into a greased and lined springform pan. Bake at 180C for about 45-50 minutes or until golden and cooked through.

Little Nut Bars and a keep it simple reminder

cityhippyfarmgirl

Last Saturday I baked.

I baked and I baked, and I baked. I didn’t set out with having a baking day in mind, it just sort of turned out like that. A baking day that snuck up on me. I didn’t mind, I ran with it. I had ideas in my head, and I really just wanted to try them. Thing is I tried too hard. After a whole days baking I had a table full of food to feed my family for the coming week, and a sink full of dishes, but was I happy with them?

The Date and Pecan bread, yes- but nothing really new there.

cityhippyfarmgirl

The Muesli Biscuits, yes. (Although one tray was over cooked as I got distracted trying to do too many things.)

not lasagne

The Rocky Road Brownie was a complete and utter mess, mostly due to the fact that I’d forgotten to turn the oven down after baking bread at a really hot temperature, (the marshmallows certainly didn’t appreciate this.) And yes, it does look like lasagne.

The first tray of Chocolate Honey Cardamom Buns- looked like I had been blind folded while shaping them, and the taste was just plain bland. The second tray looked better, and tasted better, but oozed it’s contents every where, and certainly didn’t have any wow factor.

What was left?

The little Nut Bars. They certainly looked ok, but would they stand up to being flicked out of the mini muffin tray? (Jeez, maybe I really should have just put it all in a lined tray like was suggested.) I didn’t want to find out.

I wanted to go for a bike ride. Leave the mountain of dishes and ride with the wind in my hair. And so I did. A quick 15km’s later and I was back in the kitchen, ready to find out if the brownies were as bad as they looked, (hell no!) hoping the dishes had miraculously disappeared, (they hadn’t) and whether those little nut bars would come out (they did.)

So what did I learn from the days baking? Simple cooking is still the best. Nothing fancy, nothing complicated, just good quality ingredients put together. I know this, I always say this. But I still seem to have days where I need to remind myself of it.

So with a days baking behind me, and some tasty little nut morsels to nibble on by my side….now I just had to work out what on earth we were having for dinner.

cityhippyfarmgirl

Little Nut Bars

(inspired by this recipe at the always delicious Green Kitchen Stories)

8 chopped medjool dates

100g whole almonds

100g crushed peanuts

100g sunflower seeds

100g sesame seeds

a pinch of Murray River Salt

2 heaped dessert spoonfuls of coconut oil

2 heaped dessert spoonfuls of local honey

In a pot gently combine the coconut oil and honey together. In a bowl pour mixture over the rest of the ingredients, and mix together. Either press down into a  lined baking tray or a non-stick mini muffin tray. Pop into the fridge until firm.

gluten and sugar free crumble

I didn’t feel like sugar and I didn’t feel like flour… but I did feel like dessert. The rhubarb was fast becoming friends with the flacid celery in the fridge and I still had some squirrelled away blueberries in the freezer. A crumbley thing it was. Lots of similar variations of this had been popping up around the blogosphere. It’s funny how a food dish can sneak it’s way in, and suddenly everyone is happily eating a variation of the same thing. 

So did rhubarb without sugar work?

It probably didn’t work as well as it could have. However, the honey was a decent trade off and completely passable if you were going easy on the sugar and didn’t want any gluten though. The Monkeys had two serves of this, so it certainly passed their palate test. Mr Chocolate got through it and declared yes it was good… but the last one was better, (with sugar and flour.)

Blueberry Rhubarb Crumble

(gluten/ sugar free)

Bunch of chopped rhubarb and a punnet of frozen blueberries

in the microwave for 3 minutes

while that’s cooking

blitz 1 cup of toasted almonds/hazelnuts/linseed in food processor (chunks not crumbs)

add 1 tsp vanilla and 1 tsp cinnamon

then 3 tablespoons honey

mix it round and pop on the top of the fruit

into the oven at 180C until golden