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

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

Digiprove sealCopyright protected by Digiprove © 2017

Free-From Lasagne

Free From Lasagne by The Fat Foodie

Everyone loves lasagne, it’s just one of those universally adored dishes that Italy’s renowned for. However, when I went dairy-free and onto the low FODMAP diet I was concerned that it would be off the cards because it normally has lots of onion, garlic and cheese in it, but I made a conscious effort to adapt my usual lasagne recipe into a FODMAP friendly one and it seemed to have been successful.

When I started looking into the FODMAP diet and for ways to incorporate onion and garlic flavours into my cooking I discovered that you can use chives without it having any impact on your IBS and that garlic-infused oil is fine to use too, as long as you don’t consume the actual garlic itself. During my onion-based investigations though (forgive me, I’ve been reading a lot of old-school crime novels lately), I also found out that there is an Indian spice called asafoetida which mimics the flavour of onion. I was pretty sceptical to be honest, but I ordered some asafoetida online and was thrilled to find out that it genuinely does taste like onion!

Now, you’ve got to be careful when buying asafoetida because some of the spice mixes are blended with gluten flours to make it less potent (it’s a very strong spice), but there are some, such as this one, which are blended with other spices like ground fenugreek instead.

I’d really recommend trying asafoetida if you’re on the low FODMAP diet and you ordinarily enjoy onion and garlic flavours in your cooking because it definitely does what it says on the tin. As a result, my lasagne sheets were layered between a rich, thick, onion-infused meaty ragù that was just as satisfying as the standard version. This free-from lasagne is also topped with a creamy, cheesy dairy-free white sauce that definitely doesn’t make you feel like you’re missing out on dairy (although if you’re not dairy-free you could just use a couple of sachets of cheese sauce mix instead).

I served the free-from lasagne with a fresh green salad that was liberally dotted with fat, plump little jewel-green caperberries whose piquancy cut through the richness of the lasagne and added a tart freshness to the dish, but feel free to just serve it with chips if you’d prefer. You’ll find no judgement here from me, my friends.

Ingredients for the pork ragù:

450g pork mince (use beef if you’d prefer)

1 tbsp olive oil

2 tsps dried oregano

1 tin of chopped tomatoes

2 tbsps tomato puree

1 tsp salt

1 tsp asafoetida

Gluten-free lasagne sheets

Dairy-free cheese for lasagne topping

For the white sauce:

25g dairy-free butter

25g gluten-free flour

1/2 tsp ground black pepper

2 tbsps Engevita

1 egg

200ml rice milk

Preheat your oven to 190C/170C Fan/375F/ Gas mark 5.

Method to make the ragù:

Put the pork mince in a saucepan with 1 tbsp olive oil and cook until done.

Add the oregano, salt, asafoetida, chopped tomatoes and tomato puree and cook until hot.

To make the white sauce: melt the butter in a saucepan over a medium heat before whisking in the flour, black pepper and Engevita.

Slowly add a little rice milk at a time, stirring continuously, so that eventually a thick sauce is created. (Don’t panic if it looks really lumpy, just keep stirring and adding more milk and it’ll come together.)

Once the white sauce is thick take it off the heat .

Take a rectangular casserole dish and put a layer of ragù on the bottom and top it with lasagne sheets. Repeat until you’ve used up all of the ragù.

Whisk the egg thoroughly into the white sauce mixture, pour on top of the lasagne, top with the dairy-free cheese and bake in the oven for around 45 mins.

Serve with a salad (and/or chips!).

Free From Lasagne by The Fat Foodie

Digiprove sealCopyright protected by Digiprove © 2017

Dairy-Free and Gluten-Free Moussaka

Dairy-Free and Gluten-Free Moussaka

One of the meals that seems to be very popular within the FODMAP community is moussaka. I must admit, I love when Marks and Spencer includes their moussaka as a main meal option when they have their Dine In For £10 deal on, but sadly it’s unsuitable for me now because it contains loads of dairy in the form of its generous topping made of rich, butter and cream-filled béchamel sauce. Oh, and I think it’s got gluten in it too. Sigh.

However, I’m not one to shirk at a challenge so I decided that I would try to create a dairy-free and gluten-free moussaka that would rival the decadent M&S one. I headed off to my lab (aka the kitchen) and started tinkering with a recipe which resulted in a very tasty moussaka that had layers of soft flavoursome vegetables sandwiching a rich tomato beef mince ragù and was topped with a thick, creamy béchamel sauce. I’m quite proud of it actually!

Traditional moussakas are made with layers of aubergines and potato, but I’m not a massive fan of aubergines because quite frankly they bore me. They have hardly any flavour and no real texture to speak of. I’m hard pushed to think of a vegetable that could rival the aubergine to claim the title of most boring vegetable in the world. I know they’re supposed to be great at soaking up flavours in dishes, but my view is, why not just use a tastier alternative in the first place?

As a result of these strongly held opinions I have regarding the aubergine, I have used sliced courgettes and sweet potatoes in the moussaka which I believe enhance the flavours of the herbs and spices in the tomato ragù. Feel free to go with the traditional if you like, but I’d urge you to try this version instead. I don’t think you’ll be disappointed. And although this is a dairy-free and gluten-free moussaka, if you don’t have any dietary restrictions you could just make it with normal butter and flour. It’ll taste just as good regardless.

Ingredients for the tomato mince:

2 courgettes (sliced thinly lengthwise)

1 tsp salt and 1/2 tsp ground black pepper

400g beef mince

1 tsp dried oregano

1 1/2 tsps dried mint

1 tsp ground cinnamon

1 tbsp gluten-free plain flour

1 tin of chopped tomatoes

2 tbsps tomato puree

2 tbsps olive oil

2 sweet potatoes (thinly sliced)

For the béchamel sauce:

50g dairy-free butter

50g gluten-free plain flour

400ml rice milk

1 tsp freshly grated nutmeg

3 tbsps of Engevita (or 25g parmesan if you’re not dairy-free)

1 egg

Method:

Thinly slice your courgettes and place them on a microwaveable plate. Cook in the microwave until soft. Do the same with the sweet potatoes.

Place a saucepan on a medium heat, add the olive oil to the pan and cook the mince.

Once the mince is cooked add the salt and pepper, cinnamon, oregano, mint, flour, tomato puree and the tin of chopped tomatoes. Cook until hot.

To make the béchamel sauce, melt the butter in a saucepan before whisking in the flour, Engevita and nutmeg.

Slowly add a little rice milk at a time, stirring continuously, so that eventually a thick sauce is created. (Don’t panic if it looks really lumpy, just keep stirring and adding more milk and it’ll come together.)

Once the béchamel sauce is thick, take it off the heat and add parmesan if you’re using it. Leave to one side to cool a little while you build your moussaka.

Preheat your oven to 190C/170C Fan/375F/ Gas mark 5.

Take a large casserole dish and spread a third of the mince over the bottom of the dish.

Dairy-Free and Gluten-Free Moussaka Base Layer

Place your courgettes on top of the mince in an even layer and top with another third of the mince.

Dairy-Free and Gluten-Free Moussaka Second Layer

Top the mince with the slices of sweet potato.

Dairy-Free and Gluten-Free Moussaka Third Layer

Add the last of the mince on top.

Dairy-Free and Gluten-Free Moussaka Fourth Layer

Whisk the egg thoroughly into the white sauce mixture. Pour the béchamel sauce over the mince and bake in the oven for 45 mins.

Dairy-Free and Gluten-Free Moussaka Béchamel Sauce Topping

Freshly Baked Dairy-Free and Gluten-Free Moussaka

Serve either on its own or with a fresh salad.

Dairy-Free and Gluten-Free Moussaka

Dairy-Free and Gluten-Free Moussaka

Digiprove sealCopyright protected by Digiprove © 2017

Gluten-Free Carrot and Pecan Cake

Gluten-Free Carrot and Pecan Cake made by The Fat Foodie

Gluten-Free Carrot and Pecan Cake made by The Fat Foodie

I recently got a copy of The Complete Low-FODMAP Diet book from the library and it has a great recipe section at the back. I’m definitely going to buy a copy of my own though because it’s an invaluable resource for following the low FODMAP diet, as is the cookbook. As I was reading, one of the recipes that caught my eye was one for a gluten-free carrot and pecan cake.

Now let me tell you, I love cake, but I hate gluten-free cakes that have that horrid granular texture and whip all of the moisture out of your mouth whilst you try to chew them. Nope. Just nope. However, I’m very pleased to tell you, friends, that this cake is not like that. It’s moist, moreish and massively tasty!

The official recipe in the book calls for a blend of cornflour, rice and tapioca flours, but who has time for that? I just used a Doves Farm Gluten-Free Plain White Flour blend (which I’m going to start buying in bulk) and it worked just fine. The recipe also just states that you’re to use “2 small carrots”, but I hate that sort of instruction, particularly when it comes to making things like cakes when the quantities you use can make a massive difference to the overall result of the cake. Instead, I weighed my carrots and ascertained that 250g of carrots was the optimum carrot quantity needed. You’re welcome.  😉

I must admit, I tweaked the recipe that was in the book, so this is my version of the one you’ll find in The Complete Low-FODMAP Diet book. However, I’ll justify this ‘tweakage’ by stating that I think the different flours used called for a bit more rice milk and a bit less egg. And some nutmeg because all carrot cakes should have a bit of fresh nutmeg grated into them. And a coconut milk frosting too because all good cakes deserve to be draped in yet more sugar, don’t you think? What can I say, I’m a rebel.

This makes quite a large cake, so although the book recommended baking it in a single cake tin I actually baked mine in two smaller sandwich tins. My intention was to sandwich the two cakes between a dairy-free coconut icing, but the icing let me down because it wasn’t thick enough to join the cakes together. As a result, I just drizzled the coconut frosting over the carrot and pecan cake as you would with cream and it was delicious none the less.

If you fancy a slice of a good carrot and pecan cake, regardless of whether you’re gluten-free or not, I’d really recommend using this recipe. It makes a wonderfully delicate, but moist cake that’s speckled with sweet little carrot pieces and soft, yielding, tasty fragments of pecan nut. It’s definitely one of the best gluten-free carrot and pecan cakes I’ve ever had.

Gluten-Free Carrot and Pecan Cake made by The Fat Foodie

Gluten-Free Carrot and Pecan Cake made by The Fat Foodie

Ingredients:

250g grated carrots

270g gluten-free flour

220g sugar

100g pecans

1 tsp bicarbonate of soda

2 tsps of baking powder

1 tsp xanthan gum

1 tsp vanilla extract

2 tsps ground cinnamon

1/2 tsp freshly grated nutmeg

130ml rice milk

2 large eggs

125ml vegetable oil

For the frosting:

1 tsp lemon juice

The coconut cream from a can of coconut milk (the solid fat that sits at the top)

350g icing sugar

Method:

Preheat your oven to 170C/150C Fan/325F/Gas mark 3.

Prepare a pair of cake tins by lining them with greaseproof paper.

Put all of your wet ingredients into a large mixing bowl and whisk together.

Add all of the other ingredients (apart from the frosting ingredients) and whisk together until it’s all fully combined.

Pour into the two cake tins making sure an equal amount of cake mix is in each tin.

Bake for around 35-40 minutes or until a skewer pushed into the middle comes out clean.

In the meantime, make your frosting by putting all of the frosting ingredients into a jug or bowl and whisking together. Add more lemon juice if it needs loosening up or more icing sugar if it’s too liquid.

Once baked, remove from the oven and let them cool.

Once they’re cold, serve with a drizzle of coconut frosting.

Gluten-Free Carrot and Pecan Cake made by The Fat Foodie

Gluten-Free Carrot and Pecan Cake made by The Fat Foodie

Digiprove sealCopyright protected by Digiprove © 2017