Monday, 21 May 2012

Vegetable and Flower Gardening In a Small Area

Vegetable & Flower Gardening In a Small Area - By Jimmy Boswell – Gluten Free Chef

You don’t need a large area to grow fresh vegetables, herbs and fruits. In many respects you don’t even need a garden. Over the years plant breeders have been developing varieties of plants designed to be grown in a small area or in containers. They have also focused on taste and high yields from small plantings.

Positives for container gardening

  • Don’t have to worry about weeds
  • Less garden pest problems
  • Self-watering planters means you can water less
  • Great for porches, decks, patios, and balconies
  • Easy to control soil health
The Small Vegetable Plot – Kids Can Grow
I am a keen advocate of small container gardens. When there is little or no space for a conventional garden planting a few pots and containers with some vegetables and herbs can be very rewarding both in the produce that you grow as well as the fun and happiness that it offers.
It is also something that you can get the kids involved with. Being in containers there is very little weeding required and kids can have their own pots growing things that they like to eat. They can care for their plants, watch them grow and when they harvest, the smiles on their faces is priceless.
I had my own little plot in the main vegetable garden and I remember digging, planting and harvesting, with a little help from Dad. I loved picking my produce and was always proud of what I grew.
Kids Gardens

Always, set space aside in your garden for the kids. Choose plants that are fun and easy to grow. Good plants for kids’ gardens are cherry tomatoes, herbs, sunflowers, and edible plants. Diversify kids gardening plants to include various smells, textures, and tastes (like Mint) to keep them interested.

Container gardening is also great for kids. If worried about the kids getting messy, container gardening is great choice.
Getting Started
As I have mentioned container gardening does not take a lot of space but there are a few considerations when starting.

Vegetables need about 6 or more hours of sun each day. Without sun, the fruits will not ripen and the plants will be stressed. In Winter with lower sunshine hours there are a few crops that can survive in light shade, lettuce and other greens, broccoli, but if you can’t provide sun, you might want to reconsider having a vegetable container garden. More so if you are getting kids involved. The last thing you want is to have a poor result for the children.
Vegetables also require regular watering. Without regular water vegetables will not fill out and some, like tomatoes, will crack open if suddenly plumped up with water after struggling without for awhile.
On my deck I have lots of containers with a wide variety of plants. I do not have a tap close so when I need to give them a good watering I have plastic containers that are larger than the pots with the plants in them. I fill these large pots with water and place the plants in them and let them soak. I usually mix some liquid fertilizer in the water and give them a food at the same time.
Soil/Potting Mix
Vegetables need a soil that is rich in organic matter. The potting mix/soil is important to the growth of all plants, but more so with vegetables, because even taste is affected by the quality of the mix you are growing them in.
With a potting mix rich in organic matter it will not only help plants to grow but will also retains moisture.
Specialised Varieties

When you are looking for plants to grow in containers look for plants labeled with terms or words such as patio, pixie, tiny, baby or dwarf. These will be varieties that have been bread for containers. Just because a plant is bred to be small doesn’t mean the fruits will be small or the yield will be less.

Herb Gardens

Herbs are generally pretty easy to grow and hearty. They need loose, well drained soil. But do not require a lot of attention. You can interplant with vegetables to use herbs for organic pest control. Or plant a separate herb container. It is a good idea to plant perennial herbs like chives, lavender, mints, oregano, rosemary, thyme, tarragon.

Planting herbs is a great way to supplement a small vegetable garden, too. Say you just decide on a few tomato plants. Growing herbs expands what you can cook with those tomatoes. Or just slice them fresh with a few sprigs of basil. Fresh foods are good on their own, too!

Sunday, 20 May 2012

A Love of Thyme

Thyme is a herb I use in a lot of my cooking. It features in a lot of Sicilian, Italian and Greek dishes. It holds up very well when used in slow cooker or casserole dishes.

Garden thyme is a bush with gray-green leaves on a thin, woody stem and is a member of the mint family.

It is a herb that can be used both fresh and dried, whole or ground. It has a strong, sometimes pungent but has a pleasant flavor, resembling a blend of cloves and sage with mint notes.

Most common variety for cooking is English thyme. Other varieties include lemon thyme and caraway thyme. It has a subtle pine and lemon and spice flavor. It is versatile and widely complementary, but can overwhelm delicate foods. Use liberally but carefully. Thyme also combines well with rosemary, basil, and garlic.

Thyme is native to the Mediterranean, which makes it a popular ingredient in Italian and Greek cooking.  In the Mediterranean basin, it grows wild on the "hot, arid hillsides where it has infinitely more flavor than it ever achieves in cooler regions. 
I always have some dried thyme in my spice rack but at the end of the day, fresh is best.

Cooking with Thyme is a little different that many others herbs. The leaves should be taken off their stalks. They can add a woody or stringy element to a dish that’s un-needed. It should be chopped finely and added early in the cooking to get rid of the strong bitter flavour of the fresh leaf that it can develop.

It's wonderful in poultry, fish, and vegetable dishes and in slow cooked stews and soups. Its flavor blends well with many other herbs. Chopped fresh leaves are much more pungent than dried.

Thyme can be used with nearly all the meats, including seafood and shellfish. It can also be used to flavour egg dishes, casseroles and soups.

If you are lucky enough to be able to grow your own, Keep in mind that thyme leaves are sweetest if picked just as the flowers appear.

When cooking with thyme, be aware that one fresh sprig equals the flavoring power of one-half teaspoon of dried thyme.

It is preferable to strip the leaves from the stems for your recipes when using either dry or fresh thyme because sometimes the stems can be woody. This is easily accomplished by placing the stem between the tines of a fork and pulling the stem in the opposite direction of the leaf growth. Of course, you can also use your fingers instead of a fork.

Some Uses

Add whole sprigs or chopped leaves at any stage of cooking. Thyme is a uniquely adaptable herb for meats, seafood, and summer and winter vegetables. Use springs in bouquet garni to fully flavor stocks, sauces and soups.

Add sprigs to slow-roasted tomatoes, braises, and pasta sauces to add depth. Infuse sprigs in poaching liquids for fruit desserts and in cream for caramel sauce.
Rub chopped leaves (fresh or dried) into beef, lamb, veal, or pork before roasting. Sprinkle over eggs, cheese dishes, vegetables, fish, or poultry. Add to soups, stews, stuffings, and rice. Brew into tea with a little rosemary and mint.

Lemon thyme can be used in cooking in much the same way as common thyme. The flavor is less pungent and distinctly lemony. It is particularly tasty in stuffing for veal and poultry. Mix chopped leaves into custards, puddings, and whipped-cream toppings. Sprinkle lightly over fresh strawberries and other acidic fruits.

Whether you grow them yourself or purchase them, herbs are the best, most healthy way to season your food. Farmers markets are a great place to get fresh and dried herbs.

Saturday, 19 May 2012

Sausage, Bacon and Caramelized Onion Frittata

Sausage, Bacon and Caramelized Onion Frittata

This is a quick and easy dish to put together. I quite often make this when I have leftover sausages from the night before. Great Sunday brunch.

If you have some onion marmalade replace the caramelized onions with two tablespoons of the onion marmalade.

Serves 2-4

6 eggs, beaten
1/2 cup of milk
¾ cup of grated cheese, I use Edam
¼ cup grated parmesan cheese
1 half onion (large), sliced and caramelized
1-1/2 cups of sausage
2 tbsp chopped Italian (flat-leaf) parsley
¾  cup diced button mushrooms or peas
salt and pepper to taste

Preheat your oven to 165C.

Combine eggs and milk, beat well, add parsley, season with salt and pepper then fold in grated cheese. Pour into a 20cm by 20cmm (8x8 inch) baking dish or cast-iron skillet.

Add in sausage, mushrooms or peas and caramelized onions. Top with the parmesan cheese. Bake in a 165C oven for about 30 minutes, or until the center is set but not hard.

Serve hot or chilled.

Wednesday, 16 May 2012

Roasted Pumpkin Garlic Soup

Its chilly, raining and I am in the kitchen cooking. Have some chicken stock on the simmer. Just about to roast 1/2 pumpkin, about 1kg, 1 whole head of garlic and will make Roasted Pumpkin with Garlic soup.

The mix of spices in this recipe gives it a mellow Indian taste

1kg pumpkin I use crown
1 head garlic
3 tablespoons olive oil
fresh ground pepper
1 tablespoon olive oil
1 onion
2 stalks celery
2 medium carrots
1/2 tsp each ground cumin and cardamom
1 tsp turmeric
3 cups chicken stock
1/2 teaspoon fresh chilli, crushed (optional) or ¼ ground chilli powder.

First thing to do is cut the pumpkin into medium wedges, skin on. I don’t cut them to small as I am roasting them without pealing to get a bit of extra flavour in to the pumpkin while it roasts. Toss in olive oil, season with salt and pepper in a roasting tin.
Cut the top off a head of garlic and drizzle a little oil over the cloves and wrap the garlic in tin foil and add to the pumpkin. Roast at 200C for 30 minutes or until the pumpkin is soft.
About 5-10 minutes before the pumpkin is cooked coarsely chop the onion, celery and carrot and fry over a medium heat until the onion is translucent. Add the ground cumin, cardamom and turmeric and fry briefly. Add the stock, salt and pepper to season and chili (if you like a bit of heat in your soup). Bring to the boil and then reduce to simmer for 15 minutes.

Once this is simmering remove the pumpkin and garlic from the oven and let cool till its cooled enough to handle. Remove the skin from the cooked pumpkin and then squeeze out the roasted garlic and add to the soup along with the pumpkin. You may need to add some water at this stage to just cover the vegetables. Simmer for another 5 minutes.

Once cooked blend in batches and adjust the seasoning to taste if needed.
I serve with some sour cream and chopped chives or parsley.

Tuesday, 15 May 2012

New Website - Gluten Free Chef - Jimmy Boswell

Jimmy Boswell - Gluten Free Chef - Website

I am in the process of re-developing my website with some exciting developments being released soon.

You can visit my site at

Have a happy, Gluten free day


Monday, 14 May 2012

Tio Pablo - Gluten Free Mexican Made in New Zealand

Jimmy's samples to play with

Tio Pablo 

Fresh Mexican
Made in Auckland 

Tio Pablo is an Auckland based company and ALL of their products are Gluten free. They are offering a mixed product give-away to be drawn 31 May 2012. New Zealand entry only.

To enter visit their Facebook page, 'Like' the page and post what your favourite Mexican food is. I have a

love for Mexican food. Its taste and flavour is different from my Sicilian heritage but when I look at how they do things they are similar in processes, just different ingredients. The are all about flavour, taste and good food that can be very quick to prep and plate.

There is a lot of discussion within the Gluten free community that they can’t find good wraps. The solution is Tio Pablo Tortillas.
Their authentic corn tortillas are a staple in Mexican cuisine and are made in
Auckland and delivered “fresh in store”.

Used in a variety of dishes, such as tacos, enchiladas and even in soup, Tio Pablo tortillas are naturally gluten and dairy free.  

Tio Pablo bakes four times a week, using Californian masa harina flour (non GM seed and grown away from GM crops) on a machine sourced from Guadalajara, Mexico.

It’s the way that they are make, true to the age old traditional methods that make them what they are.

Over the next few months I will be working up recipes, simple and fast to do for lunch box and after school snack ideas. Their Tio Pablo Authentic Corn Tortillas have so many options and its going to be a lot of fun doing recipes with them.

Wednesday, 9 May 2012

Hard Boiled Eggs With Anchovy Tomato Sauce

This Sicilian inspired dish makes a great change to the traditional ways we eat eggs. The anchovy fillets along with the tomato a provide great colour contrast against the eggs and I love the taste of this dish. Because of the salty nature of the anchovy fillets you don’t need to use much salt to this dish. I usually make this dish when I have cold cuts off a leg of lamb from the day before.

serves 4-6

1/4 cup olive oil
3-4 anchovy fillets
1 small onion, sliced
1 large celery stalk , diced
2 green peppers, diced
125g tomato paste
750ml water (3 cups)
8 eggs, hard boiled and sliced in to quarters or halves if they are small ones
salt and fresh ground pepper to season

In a fry pan over a medium heat add the oil, anchovies, onion, celery and peppers cooking slowly for about 10 minutes stirring occasionally to prevent it sticking. In a bowl blend the tomato paste and water and add to the fry pan and season with a wee pinch of salt and pepper. Cover the fry pan and simmer until the celery is nice and tender, about 10 minutes, stirring occasionally.

Put 1/4 cup sauce on the bottom of a serving dish and arrange a layer of the hard boiled egg slices. Repeat the layering of sauce and egg slices, finishing with a layer of eggs on top. Season with some fresh ground pepper.

Serve hot or cold. To serve hot place in a pre-heated oven at 170C and heat through, about 20 minutes. I don't let it bubble too much as all we are doing is warming it up.

Monday, 7 May 2012

Mussels with Urban Appetite Chilli & Tomato Sauce

The Health benefits of eating chillies are well documented but surprisingly little known, despite the many numerous ways in which they are known to aid and relieve many conditions.

With New Zealand Food Week starting 7th May 2012 lets get cooking with a healthy and not expensive mussel dish.

This is a simple and healthy dish to make and can be served as a starter or as a Sunday brunch or as a main. In New Zealand we have an abundance of fresh, quality mussels and the Urban Appetite Chilli and Tomato Sauce is a great match for this quick to plate dish that has a zing to it.

Serves 4

2 tablespoons olive oil
1 brown onion, finely chopped
2 garlic cloves, crushed
3-6 tbsp Urban Appetite Chilli Tomato Sauce
1 400 gram tin of diced tomatoes
1 lemon, rind finely grated, juiced
2 teaspoons caster sugar
1/2 cup dry white wine
1.5kg mussels, beards removed (see tip below)
3 tbsp chopped chives
Gluten free bread or potato wedges to serve

Heat oil in a large, deep saucepan over medium heat. Add the onion, garlic and cook, stirring, for 3 minutes or until onion is soft.

Add tomato, Urban Appetite Chilli Tomato Sauce (add an amount to your desired taste), lemon rind, lemon juice, sugar and wine to pot. Stir until well combined.

Increase heat to high bringing the sauce to the boil. Reduce heat to medium. Simmer, uncovered, for 8 to 10 minutes or until thick. Season with salt and pepper.

Add the cleaned, de-bearded mussels to sauce and then cover and cook, shaking pan occasionally, for 3 to 5 minutes or until mussel shells open. Discard unopened shells.

Ladle sauce and mussels into bowls making sure to pour the sauce all over the mussels then, sprinkle with chives. I sometimes add a dollop of sour cream on top of the plated mussels. It works well with the sauce.

Serve with bread or wedges.

Tip: How to remove mussel beards

Place mussels in a large bowl. Cover with cold water. Swish them around to remove grit from shells. 

Friday, 27 April 2012

Urban Appetite Cajun spiced BBQ Chicken Pizza

This is a very tasty pizza to make and great for a snack or make a few of them as a starter if you are having a people round.

BBQ Chicken Pieces

250 gm boneless/skinless chicken breasts, cut into 15mm cubes
3 Tbs. olive oil
125ml Wild Appetite Cajun spiced BBQ sauce (Gluten & Dairy free)

For the Pizza:

1 Venerdi Gluten free Thin Crust Pizza Base
1/2 cup Wild Appetite Cajun spiced BBQ sauce (a spicy−sweet sauce works best)
2 tbs. shredded smoked cheese
2 cups shredded mozzarella cheese
1/4 small red onion, sliced into 3-4mm wide pieces
2 tbs. chopped fresh chopped fresh coriander

To make BBQ Chicken:

In a large frying pan, cook the chicken in olive oil over medium−high heat until just cooked, 5-6 minutes. Do not overcook.

Set aside in the refrigerator until chilled through. Once chilled place the cooked chicken in a zip-lock bag and add 125ml Wild Appetite Cajun spiced BBQ sauce, 3 tbs. olive oil, seal the bag and shake to coat the chicken evenly. Remove the chicken with tongs and reserve the sauce.

To make the pizza:

Pre-heat the oven to 220 degrees C.

Use a large spoon to spread BBQ sauce from the bag evenly over the surface of the Venerdi Pizza base within the rim. Sprinkle smoked cheese over the sauce. Cover with 3/4 cup shredded mozzarella.

Distribute the chicken pieces evenly over the cheese. Place the pieces of red onion over the surface. Sprinkle an additional 1/4 cup mozzarella over the top of the pizza.

Transfer the pizza to the oven; bake until the crust is crisp and golden and the cheese at the center is bubbly, 8 to 10 minutes.

When the pizza is cooked, carefully remove it from the oven; sprinkle 2 tbs. chopped fresh chopped fresh coriander over the hot pizza. Slice and serve.

Wednesday, 25 April 2012

Prep to Plate In-Home Gluten Free Cooking Classes

Prep to Plate In-Home Gluten Free Cooking Classes

The Gluten Free Chef’s private in-home cooking classes are designed to offer you and your friends a great cooking experience learning from Jimmy how it is to cook Gluten free with taste - in your own home.

Classes are relaxed and designed to be fun. Jimmy loves a good laugh so you can expect your in-home cooking class to have smiles on everyone’s faces and not just from the great tasting foods that will be prepared.

The classes are all about cooking good food from scratch and helping each other to learn new things in the comfort of your own kitchen. 

Seasonal fresh ingredients are a big feature of Jimmy’s cooking and you can expect to sample wonderful tasting dishes that are achievable in your own kitchen.

How it works.

Class numbers range from 2 to 6 people and run for 3 ½ to 4 hours.

Classes offered by arrangement from Rotorua to Whangarei. Minimum class number outside of Auckland is 4.

Cost is $125 per person including food for the menu. (Additional food costs may apply if there are special requests)

  • The Gluten Free Chef will consult with you about your choice of class.
  • Design a dedicated menu of dishes in consultation with you.
  • Purchase all ingredients required for the day.
  • All recipes as well as lots of hints and tips are supplied in printed format.

On the day.

  • On the day of the class Jimmy will arrive with all the shopping done.
  • Meet and great the attendees. He starts with an outline of what will be happening and then its into the cooking including prepping the dishes with some hints and tips that will help you achieve wonderful results in your kitchen.
  • Dishes will be prepared in an order that allows samplings through the class. The class usually concludes with a relaxed sit-down meal.

Classes available are;

2012 Winter Classes

  • Entertaining Gluten Free
  • Stocks, Sauces and Soups (Includes slow cooker recipes)
  • Cooking For a Gluten Free Family
  • Budget Busters (Includes slow cooker recipes)
  • Italian, Sicilian & Southern Mediterranean
  • Vegetarian
  • Getting Tasty with Herbs & Spices
  • Cooking For Someone Within The Autism Spectrum 
  • Winter Warmers (Includes slow cooker recipes)
  • Gluten Free (GF) Basics and Stocking a GF Pantry
  • Cooking For One
  • Sunday Brunch (Usuallu held on a Sunday)
  • Blokes Can Cook
  • Dishes From The New Zealand Gluten Free Cookbook – Starting July 2012 (Additional $40 for a signed copy of Jimmy’s cookbook if people do not have their own copy)

Elements from all of the above choices and be mixed and matched to design a cooking class of your own choice.

For more information call Jimmy on 021 869 910 or e mail 

Sunday, 22 April 2012

Mixing and Storing Herbs and Spices

Mixing and Storing Herbs and Spices

Dried herbs are stronger in flavour than fresh leaf herbs. To convert dry to fresh measurements, use approximately 3 tablespoons fresh to each tablespoon dry. In most cases use 1/3 to ¼ the amount of dried herbs as is called for fresh. In general ¼ teaspoon of spice is enough for 4 servings.

Mixing Herbs - when seasoning with herbs and spices try to complement your dish by not overwhelming the flavour of the food. Cooking spices for too long may result in overly strong flavours.

For long-cooking dishes, such as soups and stews add herbs and spices an hour or less before serving. For best results try crushing the herbs before adding to your dish. For shorter cooking-dishes try adding dry spices earlier in cooking. Fresh spices and herbs should be added towards the end of cooking.

Unless the recipe specifically calls for it, don't use more than three herbs and spices in any one dish. The exception to this rule is East Indian cooking, which often calls for 10 or more different spices in one curry dish.

Try replacing herbs and spices called for in recipes with something different - such as Marjoram instead of Oregano, Savory instead of Thyme, C
oriander (Cilantro) instead of Parsley, Anise seed instead of Fennel. Mixing herbs and spices will provide you with greater creativity in food preparation by allowing you to create a variety of exciting and uniquely seasoned dishes. You may just create a recipe that will be one of a kind, beloved by everyone. 

Storing Herbs - store spices in a cool, dark, dry place. Heat, humidity, and excessive light will result in the dry herbs and spices losing their flavour more quickly. A good way to store herbs and spices is in small, airtight glass containers. If stored properly, dried herbs and ground spices will retain their flavour for a year. Whole spices may last for 3 to 5 years. To keep larger quantities of herbs and spices fresh, store them in tightly sealed containers in the freezer.

Do not store dry herbs and spices near any humid source, such as sinks, dishwashers, kettles, coffee makers, on counter tops, stoves or microwaves. Avoid storing dry herbs and spices inside the refrigerator due to the high humid environment. Avoid storing near heat sources such as stoves, top of microwaves and refrigerators. For best results grind whole spices in a grinder or mortar & pestle. If you want to enhance the whole spice flavour, try roasting the whole spice in a dry skillet over a medium heat, being careful not to burn them.

Drying Herbs - try drying herbs on racks, slats or upside down by their stems. For best drying, place your herbs in a well ventilated, dry, cool environment. Ensure that you have plenty of air space and turn every few days. Another alternative to drying is using the microwave by laying the herbs out on absorbent paper and cooking on low for 3 minutes. A dehydrator is also another excellent option.

Harvesting Herbs - the best time to pick the leaves or flower buds is when they start to unfurl. Try to harvest your herbs early in the day and before noon at the latest, as the herbs are most potent then. Seeds must be collected when they turn brown and brittle. Never pick herbs in wet or humid conditions.

Vegetable Freezing Autumn Harvest

Vegetable Freezing

Autumn is here and for many people its harvest time and as Autumn gets into full swing there lots of vegetables to be saved. 

Successful freezing depends on how quickly you can reduce the temperature of the food. Slow freezing may not make the food inedible but will affect flavour and, more importantly, nutritional value. Fast freezing halts bacterial growth instantly and produces very small ice crystals, which causes less damage to the cell structure of the food.
Before you commence preparing food for freezing you should turn your freezer on to its super or fast setting – preferably 3 hours or so before. This just keeps the motor running and drops the temperature as low as possible. When the food goes into the freezer it will cause the temperature to rise as the food cools. The super setting ensures the food already there remains at optimum temperature and the food being frozen cools as quickly as possible.

Do not try to freeze too much in one go – never more than 10% of the freezer capacity at a time.Also, the colder the food when it goes into the freezer, the less work the freezer has to do.

Vegetable Freezing Outline

Blanching time is in boiling water. Unless otherwise noted, chilling time in ice water should be the same as blanching time.
Blanching Time/ Chilling Time
Wash and sort stalks according to size, discarding blemished stalks. Break off ends. Stalks may be left whole or cut into 30-50mm long pieces.
average diameter stalks - 3 minutes thicker stalks - 4 minutes.
Green Beans
Snap off tips. Rinse, then cut or break into desired sizes or freeze smaller beans whole.
3-1/2 minutes.
Italian Snap Beans
Wash, snap off ends and slice into 1" to 1-1/2" pieces.
3-1/2 minutes.
For young, tender beets-
Remove tops and cook until tender. Chill, then remove skins. Leave small beets whole. For medium to large beets, slice or cut into pieces. Pack into freezer boxes or bags.
not applicable
Remove leaves and tough ends. Cut through stalks lengthwise, leaving stems with 1" to 1-1/2" diameter heads, or cut into pieces. Soak in salt water (2 tablespoons salt to 1 quart water) to remove any insects and larvae. Rinse with tap water and drain.
pieces - 4 minutes
stems - 5 minutes.
Brussels Sprouts
Wash and trim any tough outer leaves. Soak in salt water (2 tablespoons salt to 1 quart water) to remove any insects and larvae. Rinse with tap water and drain.
medium sprouts - 4 minutes
large sprouts - 5 minutes.
Remove tops, peel, and wash. Cut into 1/4" thick slices.
3-1/2 minutes.
Remove leaves, trim and wash. Split into individual 1" to 1-1/2" pieces. Soak in salt water (2 tablespoons salt to 1 quart water) to remove any insects and larvae. Rinse with tap water and drain.
4 minutes.
Husk, remove silk and trim off ends. Blanch in a large stockpot with 10 - 12 quarts of boiling water.
24 small ears, under 1-1/4" diameter - 8 minutes
14 medium ears, 1-1/4" to 1-1/2" diameter - 8 minutes
10 large ears, over 1-1/2" diameter - 11 minutes
Chilling time in ice water should be twice as long as blanching time
Corn - Cut from cob
Husk, remove silk and trim off ends. Use a corn cob cutter or a curved grapefruit knife to remove kernels from cob.
4-1/2 minutes
Remove tops, wash, peel and cut into 1/2" cubes.
2-1/2 minutes.
Wash and remove stems. Freeze smaller mushrooms whole
Cut medium and large mushrooms into 1/4" slices.
To prevent browning, add 1 tablespoon lemon juice or 1/2 teaspoon ascorbic acid per quart of blanching water.
small whole mushrooms - 4 minutes
sliced mushrooms - 3 minutes.
Chopped onions can be packed and frozen without blanching To freeze larger pieces of onions or small whole onions - Peel onions, wash, and cut into quarter sections (except very small whole onions).
1-1/2 minutes
Green Peas, shelled
Wash and shell peas.
1-1/2 to 2 minutes
Sugar Peas or Edible Pod Peas
Wash; Remove stems and blossom ends; Leave whole.
2-1/2 to 3 minutes
Chopped bell peppers can be packed and frozen without blanching.
For pepper halves or slices...Wash, remove stem and seeds. Cut in halves or slices
halves - 3 minutes
slices - 2 minutes.
Cut; scoop out seeds; peel; and cut into pieces. Bake or steam until tender. Cool, then strain in a ricer, food mill or process in a food processor until smooth. Pack into containers and freeze.
not applicable
Sort; remove any blemished leaves and tough stems; Wash.
1-1/2 to 2 minutes
Select 5" to 7" long, tender zucchini. Wash, peel and cut into 1/4" to 1/2" slices.
1/4" slices - 3 minutes
1/2" slices - 4 minutes

Friday, 20 April 2012

Balsamic Onion Marmalade

I love the taste of sweet caramelized onions. I also introduce a tang to the sweetness by adding some balsamic vinegar.

Makes about 2 cups (500ml).

1 tbsp olive oil
1 dsp butter
4 large onions, thinly sliced (cut onions in ½ then cut into thin slices. What I call ½ rings)
3 cloves garlic diced fine
½ tsp dried rosemary
3 bay leaves
1 tsp mustard seed (lightly ground in a mortar to crack the seeds)
salt and freshly ground black pepper to taste
1/3 cup dark brown sugar
2/3 cup balsamic vinegar

Heat the oil in a large heavy based pan (I use my Dutch oven) over medium heat. Once the oil is hot add the butter first to the oil then the onions, garlic, mustard seeds, rosemary, salt and pepper and cook, stirring occasionally for about 20 minutes until the onions are nice and soft. I use plenty of salt as it helps lift the moisture from the onions.

Once the onions are soft add the sugar and reduce the heat to medium-low. Cook stirring frequently for about 10 minutes until onions appear dry.

Add vinegar and bay leaves and reduce heat to low. Continue cooking, stirring occasionally, for about 1 hour, until onions are soft and almost dry. 

Remove the bay leaves and serve warm or at room temperature. You can bottle in warmed jars and store in the fridge for 4-6 weeks.

Thursday, 19 April 2012

Gluten Free Beef Stroganoff

Beef stroganoff is a Russian dish of sautéed pieces of beef served in a white wine sauce with sour cream. 

From its origins in 19th-century Russia, it has become popular around the world, with considerable variation from the original recipe. 

I use rump steak or topside steak and love this as a Winter warmer.

1 ½ kg          rump steak diced into 25mm (1 inch) cubes
1/2 cup         Gluten free general flour mix
2 tsp            salt
1/8 tsp          fresh ground pepper
1/2 tsp          dry mustard
2 med           onions, thinly sliced and separated into rings
200g             fresh sliced button mushrooms
1 cup            beef stock (I use 2 tsp of Tastes Divine beef stock mixed into 1 cup of water)
½ cup           dry white wine, optional
1 1/2            cups sour cream
1/4               cup Gluten free general flour mix

Trim most of the fat from steak and cut (dice) into 25mm cubes. Combine 1/2 cup flour, the salt, pepper and dry mustard in a plastic bad, add the dices rump steak and toss to coat thoroughly. Place coated, diced steak in Crock Pot and stir in onion rings and mushrooms.
Add beef stock and wine and stir well. Cover and cook on low setting for 8-10 hours. Before serving, combine sour cream with 1/4 cup flour and stir into slow cooker. Serve stroganoff with hot cooked rice or a creamy mash.

Follow Jimmy Boswell - Gluten Free Chef on Facebook for more exciting recipes

Italian Slow Cooker Beef Stew

This is an adaptation of a family recipe that I grew up with. 

It is made with tomatoes, potatoes, onion soup mix, and garlic, along with other seasonings and vegetables.

The herb mix is what gives this slow cooker recipe that "Italian Taste" and will impress family and friends.

1 ½ kg          lean dices (25mm 1 inch) cubes of Beef Bolar or Topside roast
(trim any visible fat)
1 400g can    Italian (Roma) diced tomatoes
1 medium       onion, chopped
1 cup            dices celery
2                  large carrots, peeled and chopped into 15mm pieces
2                  medium potatoes, peeled and cut into bite-size chunks
1 pkg            dry onion soup mix (Gluten free if required)
1 clove          garlic, peeled and crushed
2                  bay leafs
1 tsp            dry oregano
½ tsp           dry rosemary
1 tsp            dry thyme
1/2 tsp          ground black pepper
salt to taste if desired after cooking

Add beef cubes and other ingredients except the canned tomato and herbs into your slow cooker bowl. Top with canned tomato and herbs, stir and cook on low 8-10 hours or until tender. Remove bay leaf before serving.

I serve either in a bowl with fresh breads (Gluten free if required) or plated with seasonal fresh greens with rice or Kumara and potato mash with fresh chopped parsley on top.

Tuesday, 17 April 2012

Cooking and Baking Gluten Free – What Do I Do? 
By Jimmy Boswell – The Gluten Free Chef

Development Chef for The Gluten Free Store

Cooking and baking Gluten free can sometimes be a daunting task when you're new to Gluten free living. Having at adopt a GF diet is not as bad as many people think and with some insight it can be fun, I love my Gluten free life.

Some common questions that people are always asking are;
What flours and ingredients can I use? 

How can I bake a gluten free dish without it tasting like cardboard? 

How do I get that nice 'chewy' texture without using wheat flour?

Here are a few hints about GF flours to assist in your baking and cooking.

First I have to say that the key to successful gluten free baking is using a combination of flour and starches. Ingredient lists might look long, but once you have a pantry stocked with a good supply of flours, baking will be easy and fun. 

Each flour/starch has a distinct taste and character, they are sometimes not interchangeable so if you are following someone’s recipe it should be followed to a tee to ensure a great end result.

Rice flours are the closest to wheat flour in behaviour. They are made from either white or brown rice, and each has its own characteristics. Try it in gingerbread brownies or carrot cupcakes.

Amaranth Flour has a pleasant, nutty taste and has great nutritional value, 15% protein and good balance of amino acids. It is high in fibre, iron, calcium and phosphorus. It combines well with other flours to make good tasting bread, muffins, pasta, cookies, gravies, sauces and more.  To increase the protein content of baked goods substitute about 10-15% amaranth flour for the flour stated in a recipe.

hickpea Flour (Gram flour) is a cereal flour made from ground chickpeas. It is also known as garbanzo flour, or besan.  It contains a high proportion of carbohydrates. Mixed with an equal proportion of water, it can be used as an egg-replacer in vegan cooking. It is pale yellow and powdery and has an earthy flavour best suited to savoury dishes.

Millet Flour Millet Flour has a subtle flavor, lots of vitamins and minerals, and adds a lovely creamy color to baked goods.  Millet flour, which has light yellow color similar to cornmeal, is an option that provides a buttery flavor.It contains high levels of two essential amino acids (proteins), methionine and cysteine. Our bodies need adequate supplies of all of the essential amino acids for growth and cellular repair. Most grains, including rice, corn, wheat and sorghum have low levels of these two important proteins.

Chestnut Flour Italians have gathered chestnuts for centuries, dried them and made flour and It's still a staple in the diets of many. While it not cheap I value thos flour very highly. I use it in cakes, pancakes, pastry, porridge, or to thicken soups.

Quinoa flour (pronounced keen-wa) is composed of 10 to 18% of protein, 69% of carbohydrates and 6% of oil. Quinoa flour is the most interesting substitute to wheat flour. Besides its high nutritional value, the quinoa flour is used in a wide range of baking and pan-fried dishes. In a proportion 2/3 quinoa flour, 1/3 rice flour it is possible to bake cakes such as chocolate fudge cake.

Sorghum Flour is a wholesome, hearty grain that possesses a mild flavor that won’t compete with the delicate flavors in other food ingredients. Sorghum improves the texture of recipes and digests more slowly with a lower glycemic index, so it sticks with you a bit longer than other flour or flour substitutes. This makes it a great healthy substitution for more traditional flours. 

Buckwheat flour  has a rich, nutty flavor and a very high nutritional value and is also high in fibre. I use it in pancakes, waffles, noodles, breads and cakes.

Sorghum flour adds texture and flavour to multi-grain bread recipes.

Cornstarch and tapioca starch add a pleasant fluffy texture. However, too much starch can make baked goods hard and heavy.

Xanthan gum is a corn-based product that is used in gluten-free recipes to replicate the 'chewy' texture of wheat flour. It makes a remarkable difference in your baking and a little bit goes a long way!

Where to get these flours?

Sometimes we just don't have the time to run around town looking for flours and starches! The Gluten Free Store has a wide range of flours, starches, gums and spices. The flours come in 1kg, 5kg, 10kg and 25kg bags.