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Cheese pie

Posted on March 2, 2021 at 9:02 am

What kind of filling should you put into your lovely keto friendly pie crust? A keto frendly filling, such as cheese pie.

To pre-empt a possible question, “what is the difference between cheese pie and quiche?” Simply the ratio of ingredients and the intention. With quiche the intention is to showcase and enhance the custard. With cheese pie it’s all about the cheese, with the other ingredients being there to support the cheese.

This is a non-recipe. Ingredients are very much played by ear. Allow yourself to go with what feels good, rather than sweating precision – just like quiche and frittata, cheese pie is fridge velcro.

SHREDDED CHEESE
You want a bunch of it, at least a half pound / quarter kilo. What cheese? Up to you. I usually have young Cheddar, aged Cheddar, and bulk parmesan. Want to make it with cream cheese and blue cheese? Go for it! Just make sure the cream cheese is softened and beaten so that it will integrate properly with the rest of the ingredients.

EGGS
You’ll want 3 or 4 large eggs. Beat them with a little milk, cream, or water. Season lightly with salt and pepper.

OTHER INGREDIENTS
You can bulk out the ingredients by addition of pantry staples such as dried potato flakes, cooked crumbled bacon, or any fresh or cooked veggies you have lying around the fridge. Only add herbs and spices where they will enhance the cheese. Spicy chili peppers will drown out most cheeses, so this is not the recipe for them.

ASSEMBLY
Assemble your cheese in your crust in reverse order of strength, from weakest flavour to strongest. I put the bulk orange Cheddar in first, followed by parmesan, then the strong mature Cheddar on top. You might want to keep a little of the strong cheese back to sprinkle artistically on top of the eggs.

Pour the eggs over the cheese. The eggs are here to provide support for the cheese, not to be the feature ingredient.

COOKING TIME
You want to cook this hotter and longer than a quiche, because you have a lot of cheese to melt. I generally go with a 375f / 190c oven for 30 to 40 minutes, or until the cheese topping has picked up some nice colour. The custard should be firm set.

SERVING YOUR CHEESE PIE
Serve it hot or cold. Feel free to put on whatever fancy toppings you like such as chopped parsley, crumbled bacon, or even more cheese. I won’t judge you!

CONCLUSION
Cheese pie is all about making a lot of food dirt cheap for those times when there is a bit too much month left before payday. Play around with the ratios and the cheese blends, but always bear in mind this is cheese pie. Allow the cheese to stand front and centre.

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Keto friendly chocolate syrup

Posted on February 18, 2021 at 1:54 pm
  • 1 cup / 240ml water
  • 1/2 cup / 120ml cocoa powder
  • 1/3 cup / 80ml no sugar granular sweetener of your choice
  • pinch salt
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla
  • Add the first 4 ingredients to a small saucepan. Bring to a boil, then simmer for 5 minutes or until thickened. Add vanilla and stir to incorporate.

    MOCHA COFFEE
    Add 2 to 4 tablespoons of this syrup to your coffee and top with foamed milk of your choice.

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    Barbecue Experiment – mustard rubs

    Posted on August 29, 2020 at 9:00 pm

    First, to establish terminology:

      “Barbecue” is low temperature cooking, usually using wood chips or chunks to provide a pleasant flavour. The meat you use, the brine you use, the seasoning rubs, the sauces, are all the subject of intense debate. This debate is fun, especially if you don’t have any reason to take sides, and experimenting with the combinations is fun. And delicious.
      Cooking food directly over propane or charcoal at high temperature is grilling. Steak, burgers, sausages, hotdogs, kebabs, and shrimp are grilled. And delicious.

    I took 3 pieces of pork and brined them overnight in a salt and ground coriander seed brine, to test out one important BBQ question. Does the mustard you use make a difference to the flavour of your pulled pork BBQ?

    One of the pieces was the control piece – no mustard. Piece 2 was rubbed with home made Dijon mustard. Piece 3, basic yellow mustard like you’d add to a hotdog.

    I smoked the pork with hardwood lump charcoal and pecan wood chunks, spritzed regularly with homemade cider vinegar, then did the hard part – invited friends over to taste test and answer the important question above.

    The answer to the important question is: Yes, the mustard does make a difference. But the difference is subtle. When you eat the meat as-is, without any sauce, you can clearly distinguish between the 3 options. When you add the sauce, the difference is not noticeable. If you prefer unsauced meat make sure you use a tasty mustard. If you apply a sauce, the differences will pretty much disappear.

    Having said that, the Dijon slightly edged ahead of the control (no mustard) or the yellow mustard. The Dijon added a subtle vinegary edge that blended nicely with the meat.

    Everyone had their own favourite, but we would all happily take any of the 3 because they were all delicious. I consider this a win/win.

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    Stuart’s Gluten Free Simnel pudding

    Posted on April 20, 2020 at 8:26 am

    Simnel Cake is a British Easter tradition. I decided to take the cake recipe and convert it to make a Simnel Pudding, because everyone needs some pudding in their life!

    Makes 1 large pudding. You can double the quantities to make 2.

  • 250g/8oz mixed dried fruit
  • 25g/1oz stem ginger (finely chopped or grated)
  • 1/2 lemon (zest and juice)
  • 1/2 orange (zest and juice)
  • 50g/1.75oz ground almonds
  • 50g/1.75oz buckwheat flour
  • 50g/1.75oz white rice flour
  • 1 tsp baking powder
  • 1/2 tsp xanthan gum
  • 1/2 tbsp mixed spice such as pumpkin pie spice
  • 1/2 tsp ground ginger
  • 125g / 4oz / 1 stick soft butter
  • 125g / 4oz brown sugar
  • 2 large eggs, beaten
  • 1 portion marzipan
  • 2 tbsp dark rum or bourbon (optional)
  • 1-2 tbsp marmalade or apricot jam
  • Butter up your pudding basin.

    Put all the dry ingredients in a large bowl and mix or sift to combine. In a small bowl add all the fruit, ginger, zest and juices and stir to combine.

    Cream the butter and sugar. Blend in the flour and eggs in roughly 3 additions. Stir in the fruit and juices.

    Split the marzipan into 2 roughly equal portions. Pour half of the batter into the pudding basin. Form a rough disk with half of the marzipan and press gently onto the batter. Pour the rest of the batter on top of the marzipan disk. Steam for 2 hours.

    Pull the pudding out of your steamer. Pour the rum or bourbon on top, if using. Allow the pudding to cool for 20 to 30 minutes then turn out and brush with the marmalade or jam.

    Roll out the remaining marzipan to drape over the narrow top of the pudding. Use your hands to gently form the marzipan into a covering over the pudding.

    If you want to add a finishing touch, put the marzipan covered pudding under the broiler just until the top starts to brown, then serve.

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    Ice cream

    Posted on September 22, 2019 at 2:19 pm

    Recently I saw one of the kids at my son’s school eating an ice cream bar. Well, it was called an “ice cream bar”.

    Then I looked at the ingredients.

  • nonfat milk and milkfat
  • water
  • sugar
  • corn syrup
  • whey
  • citric acid
  • stabiliser (mono & diglycerides, guar gum, polysorbate 80, xanthan gum and and carob bean gum
  • artificial flavour
  • artificial colour (red #40, yellow #5, blue #1)
  • I read these ingredients with increasing horror. WHAT is this stuff? It sure as heck doesn’t sound like ice cream! I immediately searched for an easy ice cream recipe. Compare the above with this ice cream recipe:

  • 1.75 cups heavy cream
  • 1.25 cup whole milk
  • 0.75 cup sugar
  • 1/8th teaspoon salt
  • 1 tablespoon vanilla extract or 1 vanilla bean split in half
  • Which would you rather feed your child? I know which one I prefer. Hop on over to Barefeet in the Kitchen for the full ice cream recipe.

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    Sodium citrate

    Posted on September 5, 2019 at 3:43 pm

    Is a moderately expensive substance to buy.

    But why would you buy some anyway?

    Because you can turn any cheese into melty cheese. How’d you like a slab of “processed cheese” that melts just like those cheese slices, but it’s made from an actual cheese? Sodium citrate does it. It’s also used in molecular gastronomy, but I don’t do that. Yet… 😉

    But why would you buy it.. when you can make it? Well, I am a cheapskate. So I made it.

    I provide weights in metric first. Accuracy is important in this recipe so please use metric if you can.

  • 125g (1/2 cup) water
  • 97g (3.42oz) sodium bicarbonate / bicarbonate of soda / baking soda
  • 74g (2.61oz) citric acid
  • Add the citric acid to the water. Stir till the citric acid is dissolved. Warning before adding the baking soda – it will fizz like mad. Make sure the pot you use is a large one.

    Add the baking soda. Stir thoroughly while it’s fizzing. Once the foam dies down, it will fizz gently for a while – possibly over an hour. Keep an eye on the pot, and stir from time to time if you start seeing any cloudiness.

    Once the fizzing has died down, heat the liquid on medium-high until it comes to the boil. Reduce heat to medium and keep stirring. You want to cook off all the water. Stir constantly, you want to break up the crystals as they form.

    Once all the water is cooked off, you’re left with what looks like slightly odd shaped salt. That’s your sodium citrate.

    The thickness of the cheese product will depend on the ratio of liquid to cheese. If you weigh the cheese and then add the liquid as a percent of the weight you will get:

  • Cheese plus 0% to 35% liquid – firm, moulded cheese, cheese slices
  • Cheese plus 35% to 85% liquid – thick and flowing cheese sauce, good for dips and quesos
  • Cheese plus 85% to 120% liquid – thin cheese sauce, cheese foam, fondues, mac and cheese
  • Cheese plus 120% liquid or more – continues to become thinner and thinner.
  • Add sodium citrate at 2% to 3% of the combined weight of the cheese and the liquid. As a specific example, to make a tasty cheese slice:

  • 400g/14oz aged cheddar, shredded
  • 140g/5oz water
  • 15g/0.53oz sodium citrate
  • Add the sodium citrate to the water, stir while heating over low-medium until it’s dissolved, add the shredded cheese and stir until the cheese melts. Quickly transfer to a plastic wrap lined mould and refrigerate until completely cold. Slice thinly and melt over your burgers!

    Further customisation – instead of cheddar, why not try blue? Or pepperjack/blue cheese blend? What about the liquid – again, let your imagination go wild. Water, milk, cream, stock, beer, what do you want to add? What will go with your final dish?

    Since sodium citrate brings a salty, sour taste it’s important to use appropriate proportions while keeping the flavour of the dish in mind. But with it being so cheap to make, you can experiment to your heart’s content.

    Final note – a double batch of this yields 231g, or just over a half pound of SC. This should keep you in experimental materials for quite a few batches!

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    Gluten free blueberry muffins

    Posted on June 25, 2019 at 1:00 pm

    When you have a load of nice local blueberries, one feels obligated to bake with them.

    DRY INGREDIENTS

  • 2 cups gluten free flour (recommended: buckwheat, but use whatever you have on hand)
  • 1 tsp xanthan gum (omit if your GF flour blend contains it already)
  • 1 cup fresh, frozen or canned blueberries
  • 1/3 cup granulated sugar
  • 3 teaspoons baking powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • WET INGREDIENTS

  • 1 cup milk
  • 1/4 cup fruit/vegetable oil(e.g. avocado oil)
  • 1/2 teaspoon vanilla
  • 1 large egg
  • STREUSEL TOPPING

  • 1/4 cup GF flour
  • 1/4 cup packed light brown sugar
  • 1/4 tsp ground cinnamon
  • 2 tbsp butter
  • If using canned blueberries, drain them in a strainer. Rinse fresh or canned blueberries with cool water, and discard any crushed ones. Do not thaw frozen blueberries. Pull off any stems from blueberries.

    Mix dry ingredients in a large bowl, adding the blueberries last. Stir thoroughly to mix all ingredients.

    Mix wet ingredients in a small bowl.

    Pour wet ingredients over dry and mix thoroughly until all the dry is mixed and wet.

    Heat the oven to 400°F. Spray just the bottoms of 12 regular-size muffin cups with the cooking spray, or line each cup with a paper baking cup.

    Spoon the batter into the muffin cups, dividing batter evenly. Sprinkle evenly with the streusel topping. Bake 20 to 25 minutes or until golden brown. If baked in a sprayed pan, let stand about 5 minutes in the pan, then remove muffins from pan to a cooling rack. If baked in paper baking cups, immediately remove muffins from the pan to a cooling rack. Serve warm or cool.

    WHAT IF I AM NOT GLUTEN FREE?
    Start preheating your oven before you mix any ingredients. Instead of the first 2 ingredients just use plain / all-purpose flour, likewise for the streusel topping.

    THIS COMES OUT TOO SWEET, WHAT CAN I DO?
    In the streusel topping substitute a good quality cooking oil such as avocado oil or regular (not extra virgin) olive oil. If you use a finishing sugar or other large grain sugar you get a nice crunch on the top as well as an almost savoury edge from the fruit oil.

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    Gluten free flour blends

    Posted on June 25, 2019 at 12:36 pm

    One of the frustrations with gluten free baking is that you suddenly have to deal with multiple different flour blends depending on what you are making. They usually involve ingredients that can be hard to come by or that are expensive.

    And let’s not get into how much more expensive the GF flour blends are than regular flour. It’s not good for my blood pressure.

    I have, however, pretty much decided that my GF pudding flour blend is fantastic, if you bear in mind the rules of GF baking.

    I recently bought Gluten-Free Baking Classics by Annalise Roberts. The recipes are fantastic and this book deserves a place in the gluten free baker’s library.

    She also provides the recipes for her 2 main flour blends. One of these is responsible for me crying, because it made a sandwich bread that tasted and felt like bread, not weirdly plain pound cake! That same bread flour blend is responsible for the amazing blueberry muffin recipe I’ll be posting shortly.

    Go have a poke around Annalise’s website. It’ll be time well spent.

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    Gluten free blueberry coffee cake

    Posted on June 16, 2019 at 8:38 pm

    Thanks to my friends at Bear Mountain Blueberry Farm I have 1.5 gallons of lovely blueberries to play with. What better way to start using them than by making a blueberry coffee cake?

    INGREDIENTS

  • 1 1/2 cups gluten free flour
  • scant 1 tsp xanthan gum (omit if your GF flour blend already has some)
  • 1/2 cup sugar
  • 1 tablespoon baking powder
  • 1 teaspoon cinnamon
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1 1/2 cups fresh blueberries
  • 1 egg
  • 1/2 cup milk
  • 1/4 cup butter, melted
  • TOPPING

  • 1/4 cup butter, melted
  • 3/4 cup packed brown sugar
  • 1 tablespoon all-purpose flour
  • 1/2 cup chopped walnuts or pecans or similar (optional)
  • In a large mixing bowl, combine flour, xanthan gum, sugar, baking powder, cinnamon and salt. Gently fold in blueberries. Get a separate bowl, put the egg, milk and butter in then whisk together. Mix into the dry ingredients, careful not to mush the blueberries. Pour into a buttered/oiled 8-in. x 8-in. baking pan.

    Make topping to sprinkle over batter (put on last).

    Once you have everything apart from the topping mixed, start preheating the oven. This will allow the xanthan gum to set before baking. Bake at 425 degrees F for 20-25 minutes or until top is light golden brown. Can be served warm or room temperature.

    WHAT GLUTEN FREE FLOUR CAN I USE?
    Pretty much any of them. There are 1-to-1 substitute blends in the stores, you can use my pudding flour, or you could use a flour made from a psuedocereal. I used millet flour and it turned out nicely – next time I will try buckwheat flour to see if the nuttiness in the buckwheat comes through.

    WHAT IS A “PSEUDOCEREAL”?
    A pseudocereal is a seed grain that isn’t a grass, but that is used like it’s a cereal. Millet, buckwheat, and quinoa are 3 examples of seeds that are used like a cereal. They do not contain gluten.
    A cereal is a grass derived grain such as wheat, rye, barley. They usually contain gluten.

    WHAT DOES “SCANT” MEAN?
    You want to have a concave surface instead of a flat or convex surface. If you force me to guess, I’d say about 0.8 tsp? But I will not judge you if it’s 0.7 or 0.9 tsp… only your tastebuds will!

    WHAT IF I AM NOT GLUTEN FREE?
    Use plain/all-purpose flour instead of the first 2 ingredients. Start preheating the oven before you start mixing.

    TOPPING VARIATION
    I made the topping with raw sugar, which comes in larger, crunchy sugar crystals. It made for a nicely crunchy topping.

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    Gluten free baking

    Posted on February 23, 2019 at 7:33 am

    While making scones recently with my gluten free pudding flour, I realised that I am finally getting a grasp on some of the differences between baking with wheat, and baking without wheat.

    1. Know your flour. Each gluten free flour blend is slightly different, especially if you make your own. You will need to experiment several times with each blend to grasp it characteristics.
    2. Liquid. Be prepared to add up to twice as much liquid as you would do with wheat flour.
    3. Cooking time. Because of the extra liquid, you may need to add cooking time. This will have to be an experimental approach. Any small children (or teenagers) in your family are usually happy to help dispose of the failures!
    4. Leavening. You may need more leavening as there is no gluten structure to help lift the dough, and the binding agents (such as xanthan gum) have different characteristics to gluten.
    5. Thrash the dough. No, seriously. Wheat baking has taught you to just mix till it comes together: gluten free baking needs the dough to be thoroughly thrashed otherwise the complex mix of starches, flours, and gums may not come together and thus fail to rise, or you may end up with an oddly “gritty” texture.
    6. Resting time. I have no anecdata to back this, but it seems to depend on what you are making whether or not you need to rest the dough after soundly thrashing it. My gut feeling is that no resting time is needed except for pie dough, but my GF pie dough experiments have not filled me with confidence.
    7. Texture. I have discovered that the flour mix frequently results in a much more delicate, airy texture in quick breads and bakes and has resulted in a change in preference decisively towards the gluten free flour blend.

     

    The key takeaway from my experiments is that flexibility is needed. You may wish to enlist experimental test subjects willing participants in your tests. Small children and colleagues are usually happy to help you in this endeavour!

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