Quick Cook Dahl

Quick Cook Dahl by The Fat Foodie

Emma Hatcher, the author of the awesome low FODMAP cookbook The FODMAP Friendly Kitchen Cookbook, has a recipe for a dahl that’s made with just three tins and some spices. It’s a lovely dahl, but as an Indian food aficionado I prefer my curries to have a lot more flavour in them so although I make this quick cook dahl with the three tins Emma suggests, I also add a lot more spices to it which, in my humble opinion, makes the dahl more complex and tastier.

I normally make my dahls with dry red lentils, but tinned green lentils work very well in this curry because they keep their shape even after they’ve been cooked which helps to add texture to the curry. Also, the beauty of using tinned lentils is that the tinning process helps to reduce their FODMAP content, so you’re much less likely to have problems digesting them. (This would be the perfect opportunity to use a flatulence joke, but I’m much classier than that. Honest.)

This quick cook dahl can easily be made in a slow cooker if you’d like a meal ready to come home to after work, simply requiring you to throw the ingredients into the slow cooker and give it a stir before leaving the house, but it only takes about half an hour to make on the stove top too so it’s a great option for dinner if you don’t want to be standing cooking for ages when you get home.

This recipe makes a lovely creamy, substantial dahl that’s well-spiced, but not hot, and is packed full of flavour. It’s the perfect quick-to-cook, comforting vegetarian curry that’s just waiting to be topped with freshly chopped coriander leaves and served to accompany soft, fluffy boiled rice and crispy shards of poppadums. My own mouth is watering just thinking about it!

Ingredients:

1 tbsp vegetable oil

1 tbsp ground cumin

1 tbsp ground turmeric

2 tsps ground coriander

1 tsp asafoetida powder

A thumb-sized piece of fresh ginger (minced)

A handful of shredded green leek tops

1 tin of green lentils

1 tin of chopped tomatoes

1 tin of coconut milk

300g rice

30g chopped fresh coriander

Method:

If you’re using the slow cooker then just add everything into the slow cooker, stir well and then leave to cook throughout the day before serving with freshly cooked rice.

If you’re cooking this on the hob though, put the oil in a saucepan and then add the spices and cook them for a couple of minutes to release their flavours.

Drain and rinse the lentils and add them to the pot along with the coconut milk and chopped tomatoes.

Leave to simmer for 10-15 mins until hot and cook your rice during this time.

Stir two-thirds of the chopped fresh coriander through the dahl and then serve with soft, fluffy rice and rest of the fresh coriander.

Quick Cook Dahl by The Fat Foodie

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Mediterranean Risotto (serves 2)

Mediterranean Risotto by The Fat Foodie

I never used to be a fan of risottos, thinking that a dish made out of rice simply soaked with stock must be stodgy and bland, but then I made a gorgeous mushroom risotto one day and realised how tasty risottos actually are. Risottos must be made with arborio rice because it’s a particular type of rice that steadily absorbs the liquid you’re soaking it in, becoming infused with a multitude of flavours until the plump little grains of rice are ready to be eaten.

One of the great things about risottos is that you can make them with loads of different flavour combinations. You can make them based on meat or fish, but I think they’re particularly good when made with vegetables because the fresh vegetables add lots of crunch and texture to the soft risotto rice. Plus, there are so many types of vegetables you can make a risotto with, you’ll never get bored!

Making this Mediterranean risotto doesn’t involve a huge amount of ingredients, but it tastes fantastic. It’s thick, gooey, cheesy and satisfying and only takes about 20 minutes to make. A traditional Mediterranean risotto would ask for onions and garlic in the base ingredients, but they’d make my tummy hurt so I’ve just left them out. I used oyster mushrooms in my risotto because they release a great deeply-flavoured stock as they cook and they’re the only low FODMAP mushroom. Also, Grana Padano is a hard cheese so it’s a great low FODMAP option, but you could use dairy-free alternatives instead, such as Violife’s parmesan.

If you haven’t tried making a risotto before then please give this one a go, but feel free to change the ingredients to your heart’s content (pancetta and fresh petit pois peas is a particularly gorgeous risotto combination) and let me know how you get on. You won’t regret it and I guarantee you’ll be making it again within a couple of weeks. It’s that tasty!

Ingredients:

1 red pepper (diced)

1 green pepper (diced)

1 yellow pepper (diced)

A generous handful of parsley (finely chopped)

4 oyster mushrooms  (diced)

2 Knorr vegetable stock pots

1 litre boiling water

150g arborio rice

75g grated Grana Padano (or dairy-free alternative)

150ml white wine

2 tbsps capers

Salt and pepper

1 tbsp butter

1 red chilli (finely chopped, but entirely optional)

Method:

Place a risotto pan or large frying pan over a medium heat.

Dissolve the vegetable stock pots into the litre of boiling water.

Add the butter into the risotto pan and once it’s melted add the rice and stir.

Add the white wine and let it be absorbed by the rice, stirring all the while. Once it’s absorbed add the mushrooms and the vegetable stock and keep stirring.

Once the rice has thickened a bit add the chopped peppers, parsley and capers and keep stirring until all of the stock has been absorbed and the rice is soft.

Remove from the heat and stir the grated Grana Padano through the risotto. Taste for seasoning, add chopped chilli if you like, and serve.

Mediterranean Risotto by The Fat Foodie

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Tomato and Mozzarella Tart

Tomato and Mozzarella Tart by The Fat Foodie

I’m a huge fan of pastry, particularly puff pastry because it’s such a versatile base ingredient upon which to base a meal around. I tend to keep a block of it in the freezer for whenever inspiration strikes so when I looked in the fridge the other day and saw that there were a number of summer vegetables that needed to be used up I decided to make a tomato and mozzarella tart with them.

Puff pastry is a very cheap way to make a tasty meal that can be topped with loads of delicious ingredients and it works particularly well with soft, sweet roasted vegetables, such as tomatoes, courgettes, aubergines and the likes. I’ve recently discovered (and fallen in love with) jars of roasted red peppers. Although they’re on the expensive side to buy from supermarkets, I’ve found them to be fairly cheap in discount stores (such as B&M and Poundstretcher’s). They’re gorgeous stuffed into sandwiches or served on the side of salads, but I’ve also been adding them onto pizzas because their natural sweetness goes really well with creamy, melted mozzarella.

The beauty of this tomato and mozzarella tart is that you can add any other ingredients you fancy. I’ll bet some chopped bacon or smoked ham would be lovely on top of it or some shredded pieces of roast chicken. I dare say a few strips of smoked salmon would be outstanding on it too, especially if you served the tart with a fresh green salad and a cold, crisp glass of white wine.

This tomato and mozzarella tart is a celebration of summer vegetables. It’s a crisp, flaky puff pastry base that’s topped with walnut and basil pesto and adorned with a plethora of delicately roasted tomatoes, courgettes and black olives which are nestled underneath a crisp blanket of grated creamy mozzarella. It’s simply an excellent dish for a summer lunch or dinner.

Tomato and Mozzarella Tart by The Fat Foodie

Ingredients:

500g block of gluten-free puff pastry (or normal puff pastry)

2 large tomatoes (sliced)

1 courgette (sliced)

1 red pepper (jar)

8 black olives (halved)

Freshly ground black pepper

50g grated dairy-free mozzarella (or normal mozzarella)

For the walnut pesto:

15g fresh basil

40g walnuts

30g sundried tomatoes

1 tbsp olive oil

1/2 tsp salt

Method:

Preheat your oven to 200C/180C Fan/400F/Gas mark 6.

Line a flat baking tray with a sheet of greaseproof paper.

Roll out the block of puff pastry on top of the greaseproof paper and use a plate to cut a large circle out. Cut a second circle that is slightly smaller than the outer circle, leaving a gap of around 1 cm around the edge.

The rolled out puff pastry base.

Lay the puff pastry circle onto your baking tray.

Make your pesto by blending the pesto ingredients together (I used my Nutribullet) and spread the pesto over the puff pastry base.

Spreading the walnut pesto over the puff pastry base.

Lay your tomato and courgette slices on top of the tart and add freshly ground black pepper.

Laying the tomatoes and courgettes over the tart.

Add the pieces of sliced red pepper and black olives.

Adding the red peppers and olives.

And top with grated mozzarella before baking in the oven for around 30 mins.

Topping the tart with grated mozzarella before baking.

Once the vegetables are soft and the pastry is cooked through, remove from the oven and leave to cool slightly before serving with a drizzle of balsamic glaze.

Tomato and Mozzarella Tart by The Fat Foodie

Tomato and Mozzarella Tart by The Fat Foodie

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Aloo Palak (Potato and Spinach Curry) (serves 4)

Aloo Palak (Potato and Spinach Curry) by The Fat Foodie

I love aloos, potato-based Indian dishes, because they’re so hearty and flavoursome and they make a lovely light alternative to heavy dairy and meat-based curries. I’m particularly a fan of aloo palak, a potato and spinach curry, because the addition of spinach leaves makes the dish very fresh tasting and brings out the natural sweetness of the potatoes.

I know a lot of people who would never dream about making a curry from scratch because they think it’s too hard or that it involves too many ingredients, an attitude I can understand because some curries are pretty labour and ingredient intensive. However, this aloo palak is really easy to make and its ingredients list isn’t that extensive either.

The beauty of making a curry yourself lies in the fact that you can use fresh flavours that really pack a wallop, such as minced ginger root and fresh coriander leaf. Accordingly, you’re rewarded with an aloo palak that tastes much nicer than a curry sauce that comes from a jar. As an added bonus there’s no onion or garlic in this recipe because asafoetida powder is used to impart those flavours instead, so it’s FODMAP friendly.

Although this aloo palak is vegetarian, it’s substantial, requiring little more than some crisp and crunchy poppadums to accompany it, but even though there’s no meat in it it’s rich and stuffed full of a variety of flavours. It’s a vegetarian curry that’s well worth making.

Ingredients:

800g potatoes cut into small cubes (peeled weight)

3 tbsps vegetable oil

1 tsp salt

1 tbsp garam masala

1 tbsp fresh minced ginger

1 tsp asafoetida powder

1 tsp hot madras powder

1 tsp ground turmeric

2 tbsps sesame seeds

2 tbsps dessicated coconut

200g fresh washed spinach

Fresh coriander and poppadums for serving

Method:

Parboil the potatoes in generously salted boiling water until just soft and then drain.

Heat the vegetable oil in a large pan and add all of your spices and cook for a minute.

Add the potatoes and desiccated coconut and cook for a couple of minutes before adding the spinach.

Cook until the spinach has wilted down and add a little water if you’d prefer the curry to be a bit saucier. Taste for seasoning (it might require a generous seasoning of salt at this point).

Serve with freshly chopped coriander and crisp poppadums. (It’s also lovely with fresh chopped chilli and a cucumber and mint raita.)

Aloo Palak (Potato and Spinach Curry) by The Fat Foodie

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Free-From Custard Creams

Free-From Custard Creams

When I first went gluten-free and dairy-free one of the free-from products that astonished me at their cost was biscuits. I mean, £3 for a Genius gluten-free loaf from Sainsbury’s is ridiculous, but £1.80 for 8 chocolate chip biscuits from the Sainsbury’s free-from range is just obscene. I know you’re paying for the convenience factor, but fresh biscuits cost next to nothing to make at home so I felt really cheated and ripped off at the cost of free-from versions from a number of shops.

These free-from custard creams are so cheap to make (I’d estimate that a batch of around 12 custard creams cost considerably less than £1 to produce) and they’re really easy to whip up in a hurry. I just measure all of my ingredients into a plastic jug and use an electric whisk to blend it together into a biscuit dough. You don’t even need to roll out the dough and cut them out because you just roll them up in your palms and flatten them out on the baking tray. You can’t get any easier, can you?

I normally sandwich my custard creams with buttercream icing, but these have a little bit more caster sugar in them than my standard custard cream recipe so they’re really nice plain without a filling, but by all means sandwich them if you like. My buttercream recipe can be found here and you can just use dairy-free butter to keep the mix free-from. Equally, you could drizzle melted chocolate over the top of them or icing sugar.

Whether you decide to use the filling or use a sweet drizzle over the top of the biscuits, they’ll still save you a huge amount of money compared to buying them ready made in a shop.

Ingredients:

70g dairy-free butter

30g coconut oil

80g gluten-free flour (I use Dove’s Farm G/F Plain Flour)

20g cornflour

50g custard powder

70g caster sugar

1/2 tsp vanilla extract

1 tsp xanthan gum

Method:

Preheat your oven to 200C/180C Fan/400F/Gas mark 6.

Measure all of your ingredients into a plastic jug and then mix it all together with an electric whisk.

Lay greaseproof paper out onto two baking trays.

Take small handfulls of custard cream dough and roll into a ball before flattening between your palms and placing them on the baking trays. Continue until the mix is all used up.

Press the tines of a fork onto the top of each biscuit to create the distinctive mark of a custard cream and bake in the oven for 12 to 15 mins or until they are golden brown.

Free-From Custard Creams About to be Baked

Remove from the oven and leave to cool on a cooling rack.

Once cold you can sandwich them with buttercream icing or drizzle with a topping if you like.

Freshly Baked Free-From Custard Creams

Free-From Custard Creams

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