Saturday, December 6, 2014

Edible Gift: Homemade Limoncello


Each year I make small, homemade gifts for Anthony's and my colleagues. One favourite is homemade limoncello, a simple lemon liquor. It was extremely easy to make, though it has to rest for a week, so if you want to make it, get started soon! All you need is lemons (organic, preferably), vodka, and sugar.


Sunday, November 30, 2014

Born Round by Frank Bruni [book review] & Italian Creamed Onions


I just finished reading Born Round: A Story of Family, Food and a Ferocious Appetite by Frank Bruni, a memoir by the former New York Times restaurant critic. It was very engaging to read about his American-Italian childhood. I was enraptured by the stories of the feasts his grandmother, aunts, and mother created for family events. Having a huge bounty of food was a sign of love in his family. Special occasions always merited a massive spread of food for the whole extended family. His grandmother even had two kitchens in her house, one in the basement for creating the plethora of dishes, and one upstairs for guests to marvel at how she cooked it all without leaving the kitchen in a disastrous mess. One of the dishes I made after reading about it was creamed onions.


Saturday, November 29, 2014

Shredded Salad with Dukkah Dressing

Dukkah is an Egyptian blend of nuts, seeds, and spices. It is usually used in Egypt with a bowl of olive oil for dipping hunks of bread. The dukkah mixture is made from toasted hazelnuts and sesame seeds, and the flavouring comes from cumin and coriander, also toasted.

Cumin and coriander seeds are "more likely to be found together than apart" in Middle Eastern cooking, according to The Flavour Thesaurus by Nikki Segnit (see my review of this astoundingly useful book). The brightness of coriander seeds offsets the dustiness of the cumin. Together with the nuts and seeds, they make an interesting and versatile mixture. I haven't been to Egypt yet, so I'm happy that this dukkah let me pretend for a while.


Saturday, November 22, 2014

Weekend Links #38

Weekend Links is a way of sharing all the engrossing things I see around the internet. I publish Weekend Links approximately every month. As usual, I welcome your ideas and feedback.

food reading links:
--This guest post on Eating Rules identifies one way in which thinking mathematically about our food can help (or hinder) us making healthy decisions: Math and Food: A Thought Experiment.
--How to help the world by not eating local, from Casual Kitchen. I follow Daniel for consistently quality posts like this one. (Related: This post about how food miles don't make up the most important part of environmental impact of food, from Farming Futures.)


recipe links:
--Flaxseed focaccia bread (from Healthful Pursuit); not only is it grain-free but it's got very few ingredients and they are all "ordinary" ones.
--Some vegetarian burgers that are made with cauliflower and chickpeas, hence they are called cauliflower hummus burgers. How great does that sound? From Oh My Veggies.
--Some people still don't know that cauliflower can be amazingly tasty. For this person, there is cocoa roasted cauliflower, from The Taste Space.
--I have made this pumpkin spice latte (from The Nourishing Gourmet) at home a few times for my autumn fix, since Starbucks here in Singapore doesn't sell it. In fact, in October they were already serving their Christmas drinks. Pfffft.
--Chocolate pecan pie, from Elana's Pantry. Holiday food!

Sunday, November 16, 2014

Chocolate Chip Cookies with Everything (grain-free)


Our favourite cookie just got better! We love chocolate chip cookies with everything--moist and chewy, with chocolate, nuts, coconut, and raisins. In fact, this flexible recipe can take all the add-ins you desire. I published the original version years ago when this blog was first getting going five years ago: recipe here and photo here.

On that note, this blog now has 501 posts! Wow! This blogging thing started as a casual hobby. It's still a hobby since the blog is ad-free and I've never made any money from it, but 500 posts means it's no longer a casual endeavour. I love writing here and sharing recipe ideas. Blogging has been personally valuable since my cooking and photography have improved. But also blogging has been rewarding as others have been able to use and share ideas here, too. I would love to hear about any ideas from Simply Cooked that have been valuable to you.

I have been wheat-free and mostly grain-free for the last two years and this has influenced the things you see here on Simply Cooked. This doesn't mean that I can't enjoy baking, though. Here are some usually grain-filled items that I have tackled and transformed into grain-free versions:

Wednesday, November 12, 2014

Spicy Quinoa and Sweet Potato Soup


I've got a bad cold and so I'm craving spicy food. When I can't smell much, the heat of chilli seems to cut through the fog a little. Plus spicy food makes my nose run and cleans it out! (Too much information?) Thankfully I made some of this soup a few weeks ago and had several portions in the freezer.

Before freezing (as pictured above) this was a thick, chunky soup. After thawing and reheating, it was more like a warm salad - all the liquid had been soaked up or evaporated. It was delicious both ways.

Saturday, November 8, 2014

Ask Sarah: Nine Grain-Free Quiche Crusts

Ask Sarah is an occasional series answering readers' questions. This time it's actually a question from my sister-in-law! It's a question I have been pondering for some time, so I've shared it here as well.

Anna asked: "Hello lovely! I'm looking at quiche pie crust recipes so that I can make and freeze quiche now for Christmas. I know that you are restricting your wheat-flour intake, and I'm wondering if you've found a savoury pie crust recipe that I might use. ;) Let your Pinterest finger wander!"

Ah, Pinterest! It is so addictive. But actually a great way to save and organise great ideas. "Creative vegetables" is my favourite board to pin. Recently I have started whole separate boards for kitchen design and for home office ideas. Do you use Pinterest?


And quiche! How wonderful that we can look forward to some at Christmas. Since going grain-free I have seen numerous good ideas for quiche that avoid wheat flour crusts. (Some are bizarre.) Which of these would you eat?

Friday, October 31, 2014

Anything that Moves by Dana Goodyear [book review]

Warning: I am going to talk about something you may find a little disgusting.

I'm part of a food-related book club called The Kitchen Reader. (Actually, I'm its facilitator, too.) Our October book is Anything That Moves: Renegade Chefs, Fearless Eaters, and the Making of a New American Food Culture by Dana Goodyear, chosen by Melissa of Melos Bookshelf. Modern Western eating patterns are so different from other cultures and times. This book chronicles some of the fringe eating that is emerging (or re-emerging) in America.

While the book has lots to say about eating organ meats, raw milk, live seafood, and so on, an issue that caught my eye was about insects. Eating insects is a polarizing issue, but probably shouldn't be.

A quarter of the world regularly eats insects, did you know? I learned that from a recent National Geographic print magazine. (Two of the pictures in this post are snaps of the September 2014 issue.) In fact, please go watch National Geographic's short animated video called Edible Insects. It's less than two minutes long. Go on, it's quite educational!


Wednesday, October 29, 2014

Thai Basil and Cashew Stir-Fry


Sometimes my body just craves a big pile of vegetables. One of these days was last week during my half term holidays. After ten weeks at school my body was run down and seeking nutrients. What I needed was more sleep, less stress, and some highly healthy food.

In the past I have arrived at my half term break on the verge of illness. Many years I have made it to the Saturday after school ends and succumbed to a cold or the flu. I have laid on the couch and dribbled away my holiday.

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