Beef Casserole with Buttered Neeps (serves 4)

Beef Casserole with Buttered Neeps by The Fat Foodie

Yesterday morning I realised that I wasn’t really in the mood for cooking anything complicated for dinner so I made a beef casserole in the slow cooker which I served with buttered neeps and it was delicious. Although I would usually make the base of my casseroles with diced onion or shredded white leeks it’s sadly a very high FODMAP food so it’s off the menu. However, I’ve read that the green leafy tops of leeks are actually low FODMAP and therefore are suitable to eat without feeling any unwanted side effects.

Now, I’ve thought about testing this before, but I’m so reluctant to buy leeks (or spring onions whose green tops are also fine) because I’d be unable to use the full vegetable and it would go to waste. Thankfully however, my aunt and uncle who have an allotment generously gave me two huge leeks that had beautiful, massive, flourishing green tops and I certainly wasn’t going to waste time in putting them to good use. The oniony flavour of the leek tops within the beef casserole was also enhanced by the addition of a bouquet garni, which is a muslin bag or tea bag case that’s filled with dried herbs, such as thyme, bay leaves and rosemary and it infuses the herby flavours throughout the casserole as it slowly cooks throughout the day.

I’ve written about the numerous benefits of using a slow cooker before and today is no different. I just love the fact that you can throw fairly cheap ingredients into the slow cooker and leave it to cook throughout the day, allowing all of the composite flavours to meld together to create a rich, unctuous casserole that greets you after a long day at work.

This beef casserole with buttered neeps is an incredibly easy, but luxurious and flavoursome, meal. Its slow cooked beef melts in the mouth and is accompanied by the soft, sweet carrots that have been lightly seasoned with the herby flavours of the bouquet garni. It’s just a great slow cooked casserole that’ll satisfy the whole family.

Ingredients:

700g casserole beef

4 large carrots (cut into bite-sized pieces)

The green tops of 2 leeks (thinly shredded)

bouquet garni

80g Isabel’s Gluten Free Gravy Granules

A litre of boiling water

1 neep (or turnip) cut into small chunks

30g butter (or dairy-free version)

1/2 tsp ground white pepper

Method:

Put your slow cooker on low and make your gravy by mixing the gravy granules into the litre of boiling water and stirring until it forms a thick gravy.

Put the beef, carrot pieces, shredded leeks, bouquet garni and gravy into the slow cooker and stir well.

Leave your slow cooker to cook all day.

To make the buttered neeps cut your neep or turnip into small chunks and boil in heavily salted water until soft.

Drain and mash before adding the butter and white pepper and mashing further. Taste for seasoning and then serve alongside the beef casserole.

Beef Casserole with Buttered Neeps by The Fat Foodie

Digiprove sealCopyright protected by Digiprove © 2017

Whoopie Pies

Whoopie Pies by The Fat Foodie

A while ago I made chocolate bundt cakes to celebrate my 100th blog post and the sponge I made them with was so tasty that I wanted to try making other things with it. I’ve always loved whoopie pies, but sometimes shop-bought whoopie pies can be a bit too sickly because they have too much filling inside them and the quality of the buttercream icing often leaves a lot to be desired. The beauty of baking your own therefore, is that you can control the buttercream icing to baked sponge ratio to suit your own taste.

Although I used a proper whoopie pie tin it’s not completely necessary because you could just use a yorkshire pudding tin or something like it to bake your whoopie pies in. All you’re looking for is something that’ll control the spread of the sponge as it bakes and allow it to rise. In fact, if you don’t mind your whoopies looking a little odd you could even use a traditional fairycake shallow tin to bake them in.

I made my whoopie pies traditional chocolate ones, but you could omit the cocoa powder and make them with other flavours instead, such as vanilla (using 1 tsp vanilla extract), lemon (using the zest of 1 lemon) or bake them as a plain sponge but sandwich them with fruit jam as well as buttercream icing.

I can highly recommend making the chocolate whoopie pies though because they result in two rich, moist chocolate sponges that are bonded together with a lightly whipped decadent cocoa buttercream, creating the perfect cake for one. Stopping at only eating one is a different matter entirely though.

Ingredients:

220g dark brown sugar
120g fine polenta
50g gluten-free flour
90g ground almonds
80g cocoa powder
A pinch of salt
2 tsps baking powder
1/2 tsp of bicarbonate of soda
120g dairy-free butter
100g coconut oil (melted)
4 eggs
60ml rice milk
For the buttercream:
150g dairy-free butter
170g icing sugar
30g cocoa
1 tbsp rice milk

Method:

Preheat your oven to 180C/160C Fan/350F/Gas mark 4.

Lay out your whoopie pie tins and give them a light greasing before dusting them with flour.

Measure all of the wet ingredients into a mixing bowl.

Measure all of the dry ingredients into another bowl and give it a stir.

Add the dry ingredients into the wet ingredients and mix well.

Pour equal amounts of the cake mix into the whoopie pie tins.

Bake in the oven for around 10-12 mins. (They’re cooked if a skewer pushed into the middle of a couple of the cakes comes out entirely clean.)

Leave to cool on a cooling rack before taking the whoopie pies out of the tin.

Place your buttercream ingredients in a large mixing bowl and whisk together.

Once cool, sandwich the whoopie pies with the buttercream icing.

Whoopie Pies by The Fat Foodie

Digiprove sealCopyright protected by Digiprove © 2017

FODMAP Progress Update

The Fat Foodie

I’ve now been following the low FODMAP diet for a couple of months and I have to say that I’m feeling much better overall. I navigated the 6 to 8 week elimination phase without too many hiccups and have started to reintroduce some higher FODMAP foods back into my diet. Sadly, some foods remain difficult for me to process, a list that’s quite lengthy unfortunately, but the overall benefits of eating low FODMAP foods is reward in itself.

I think the FODMAP diet journey is an incredibly individual one and everyone will respond differently to it, just as they will respond differently to certain foods. I’ve had a few encounters online recently in which people have stated that particular foods either shouldn’t be included in a low FODMAP recipe because they’re irritating to the gut (even though they are actually low FODMAP foods) or that the portion sizes and quantities should be adjusted because in high numbers they become a high FODMAP food.

This has irritated me, to be honest, because if there’s one thing that’s abundantly clear when it comes to the FODMAP diet it’s that everyone is different! That’s the whole freakin’ point of the FODMAP diet! Individuals will be able to tolerate or not tolerate different foods differently! I don’t understand why people can’t just assess their own potential response to recipes or a meal and make suitable adjustments. For instance, if you know that you can handle a small amount of oats then have one small Anzac biscuit. If you can’t, then don’t eat them! It really doesn’t have to be hard.

Anzac Biscuits by The Fat Foodie

One thing that has been hard is that I miss bread a lot. I’ve tried a number of shop bought gluten-free loaves, but I find it difficult to get past their grainy texture and general lack of flavour. (I’ve found the £3 price point for a Genius loaf pretty hard to swallow too). I’ve also made my own gluten-free loaves. They’ve turned out okay and have been tasty enough, but they still don’t compare to a normal wheat loaf.

Wholemeal Seeded Gluten-Free Bread by The Fat Foodie

I recently tried sourdough bread, but I don’t think my system liked it. It’s quite an acquired taste at the best of times due to its sour aftertaste, but I suspect my body still isn’t that keen on processing either gluten or wheat. I’m in the process of getting a sourdough bread culture on the go which I intend to use to make a spelt sourdough loaf, so I’ll see what my body makes of that.

Sourdough Bread Starter by The Fat Foodie

As I said at the start of this post, it’s clear that the FODMAP diet is very much a personal endeavour and I think the journey’s very much about identifying what your own personal triggers are. All I can say with certainty is that I feel infinitely better as a result of finding out about the FODMAP diet and I’m happy to help spread the word to other IBS sufferers in order to help them too.

The Fat Foodie

Digiprove sealCopyright protected by Digiprove © 2017

Citrus Cupcakes (makes 12)

Citrus Cupcakes by The Fat Foodie

Sometimes I bake cakes purely because a pretty cupcake case has caught my eye that begs to be filled with something delicious. This was the case (excuse the pun) when I saw some beautiful, bright, sunshine-coloured cupcake cases in Flying Tiger the other day. (I tried to find a link to their website so you could buy them yourself, but they don’t have them listed on their site unfortunately.)

Ordinarily I’m a real chocolate cake fan, loving the deep, moist fudginess that is inherent within all decent chocolate cakes, but I recognise that sometimes there’s nothing nicer than a light fruit-flavoured cake and these cupcake cases were ideal for making gluten-free citrus cupcakes in.

As the days are getting sunnier and warmer it’s nice to move away from the heavy puddings and crumbles of winter and embrace lighter flavours, such as those found in citrus fruits. Although I made my citrus cupcakes flavoured with lemon and orange you could choose to flavour them with lime or even grapefruit if you had a mind to. All you’re looking for are the strong oils in the fruit’s zest to impart a citrus note into the cake’s sponge.

These citrus cupcakes are light, but moist (even though they’re made with gluten-free flour) and keep for a good few days in an airtight tin. Although if your family’s anything like mine it’s highly unlikely that these delicious bakes will last that long. I might need to make another batch…

Ingredients:

220g caster sugar
120g fine polenta
50g gluten-free flour
90g ground almonds
60g dessicated coconut
A pinch of salt
The zest of 1 lemon and 1 orange
2 tsps baking powder
1/2 tsp of bicarbonate of soda
120g dairy-free butter
100g coconut oil (melted)
4 eggs
60ml rice milk
For the buttercream icing:
100g dairy-free butter
240g icing sugar
1 tbsp rice milk

Method:

Preheat your oven to 180C/160C Fan/350F/Gas mark 4.

Lay out your cupcake cases onto a flat baking tray.

Measure all of the wet ingredients into a mixing bowl.

Measure all of the dry ingredients into another bowl.

Add the dry ingredients into the wet ingredients and mix well.

Pour equal amounts of the cake mix into each of the cupcake cases, lay them on the baking trays and bake in the oven for around 25 mins. (They’re cooked if a skewer pushed into the middle of a couple of the cakes comes out entirely clean.)

Leave to cool on a cooling rack.

Make the buttercream icing by placing all of the buttercream ingredients into a jug and whisking until a smooth icing is produced.

Once the citrus cupcakes are cool, decorate them with the buttercream icing.

Citrus Cupcakes by The Fat Foodie

Citrus Cupcakes by The Fat Foodie

Digiprove sealCopyright protected by Digiprove © 2017

Thai Green Curry (serves 4)

Thai Green Curry by The Fat Foodie

When I was at work yesterday I found myself pondering over what I was going to make for dinner. I knew I had a pack of chicken breasts in the fridge, but I was a bit fed up of making the same chicken dishes over and over again. However, I remembered that I had a thick chunk of fresh root ginger in the fridge as well as a jar of minced lemongrass in the cupboard, so I found myself thinking about making a Thai curry.

I’ve never made a Thai green curry from scratch before because I’ve always thought that they require ridiculous amounts of individual ingredients and, let’s be honest here, sometimes after a long day at work you can’t be bothered with all of that faff-on, can you? However, after a brief mootch in the Thai cookbook section at work (one of the benefits of working in a bookshop!) I actually realised that it doesn’t really take that much to make a Thai green curry after all and that, with the exception of having to buy fish sauce and a packet of mangetout on my way home, I was all set.

Now, I’m going to offer a word of advice here and I really hope you take it. I’ve never cooked with fish sauce before so I added it after sweating off my spices, ginger and lemongrass, but this was a huge mistake. IT FREAKIN’ STINKS!!! I’m not kidding, this was an ‘open all of the doors and windows’ job. This was a ‘thank God the living room door was closed so the smell didn’t meander up into any of the bedrooms’ jobs. It was horrific. So my advice is: only add the fish sauce after you’ve already added the coconut milk so that it blends into the curry sauce without releasing its infernal pungent aroma into your kitchen.

After I’d added the coconut milk and allowed my nasal passages to dissipate the strong stench of the fish sauce I steeled myself and tasted the curry sauce and… it was delicious. You couldn’t taste any aspect of the fish sauce whatsoever, but it had definitely added a richness to the Thai green curry that it would have sorely lacked had I omitted it. Please trust me and use the fish sauce, just don’t smell it. Ever.

I loved this Thai green curry and so did my family. It’s rich, multi-flavoured and very satisfying and it makes a nice change from the usual Indian curries I tend to make a lot. Its coconut milk base carries the delicate notes of root ginger and lemongrass without overpowering the chicken and making it taste too sweet. I don’t think it’ll be long before I’m making this for dinner again, but you can be damn sure I’ll be adding the fish sauce AFTER I’ve added the coconut milk. I won’t make that mistake again!

Ingredients:

2 tbsp sesame oil

2 tbsps minced fresh root ginger

1 tbsp minced lemongrass (or 2 crushed lemongrass stalks)

1 mild red chilli (finely chopped)

1 tsp ground cumin

1 tsp asafoetida

1/2 a bunch of fresh coriander (chopped)

1/2 a bunch of basil (chopped)

2 tbsps fish sauce

2 tbsps lime juice (or the juice of 2 limes)

1 tin of coconut milk

1/3 of a block of coconut cream (around 75g)

4 chicken breasts (cut into bite-sized pieces)

200g mangetout (cut into bite-sized pieces)

Rice

Method:

In a large saucepan heat the sesame oil and once hot add the ginger, lemongrass, chopped chilli, cumin and asafoetida.

Add the chicken pieces, tin of coconut milk, lime juice and fish sauce and leave to simmer for 10-15 mins.

Start your rice cooking.

Add the mangetout, basil, coriander and coconut cream and cook for another couple of minutes.

Drain your rice.

If you used whole lemongrass stalks then just before serving remove them from the Thai green curry.

Serve on top of the rice with fresh basil (and a bit more chopped chilli if you like).

Thai Green Curry by The Fat Foodie

Digiprove sealCopyright protected by Digiprove © 2017