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.

Friday, October 24, 2014

Quinoa, Broccoli, and Bacon Fritters

You might not know this about me: I am obsessed with correct punctuation. It began as a young child. Thanks to my book-loving parents, I owned more than 200 books by the time I was nine, and they were alphabetised and organised on my bookshelf.

My father took a break from his work to do a PhD when I was ten, and he moved our family to Scotland to complete it over five years at the University of Aberdeen. It involved a huge thesis and he talked about it constantly with our family. I was old enough to understand a little of the subject matter. His thesis later became a 380 page book called Attributes and Atonement: The Holy Love of God in the Theology of PT Forsyth.

Wednesday, October 15, 2014

French Onion Soup

Onions are a thing of beauty, aren't they? No? You think they are too mundane to be beautiful? They have such a humble exterior, hiding away those lovely, thin layers.

In a passage I found so memorable in the book The Supper of the Lamb, Robert Farrar Capon writes about how to meditate on an onion. "Take one of the onion (preferably the best looking),... and sit down at the kitchen table.... To do it justice, you should arrange to have sixty minutes or so free for this part of the exercise. Admittedly, spending an hour in the society of an onion may be something you have never done before.... Onions are excellent company."

Wednesday, October 1, 2014

Molecular Gastronomy by Herve This [book review]

This month I have been dipping into Molecular Gastronomy: Exploring the Science of Flavor by Herve This as part of the Kitchen Reader book club. It is a guidebook about the chemistry and physics behind cooking processes. It reports on cooking experiments from a scientific and analytical standpoint.

There are 101 chapters! Each one concerns a discrete cooking question. What difference does it make to salt meat before or after adding it to a hot pan? What is the effect of resting the meat after boiling or frying it? What makes a souffle rise? What kind of wine makes the best marinades? What are the preferred cheeses for fondue?

Wednesday, September 17, 2014

Caramelised Cherry Tomatoes

Caramelised cherry tomatoes, otherwise known as my new easiest side dish. I have started a new job and I am working much longer hours than before. I have to admit that I gave up on cooking for a while. I bought fast food from the train station and enlisted the nearby delivery restaurants to keep us fed for a month. But too much food cooked outside my own kitchen starts to taste strange after a while. Enter: this laughably easy dish.

I bought some white fish to pan fry since that's a fast main dish. Then I added this Donna Hay recipe for caramelised cherry tomatoes. The idea is really that you pan fry some chicken or fish and remove it. Then deglaze the pan for two minutes with balsamic vinegar and halved cherry tomatoes. Then serve. That is all! Cooking the tomatoes add only two minutes to the overall time of making dinner. I served it on some courgette noodles (they were raw, and the balsamic juices warmed them a bit). That's the kind of fast food I need right now.


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