Saturday, May 30, 2009

Recipe: Chickpea Quinoa Salad with Honey Mustard Dressing

When I first went gluten free, summer was approaching, and I had to find a dish to take along to the barbecues that people were having all over the place. Additionally, barbecues have never been particularly vegetarian-friendly, so I wanted to bring a dish that provided me with something full of protein, so I was guaranteed a satisfying and healthy meal.

I combined chickpeas and quinoa with a few veggies, and a quick and tasty homemade dressing. When I came across this week's Friday Foodie Fix, hosted by The W.H.O.L.E. Gang, featuring quinoa as the secret ingredient, I thought, what better time to share this very simple recipe?

Chickpea Quinoa Salad with Honey Mustard Dressing

3/4 cup quinoa (red or white, or a combination)
1 300g can chickpeas, rinsed
1 red pepper, diced
a few handfuls of mixes lettuce leaves

liquid honey (agave or maple syrup could possibly be substituted to veganise!)
lemon juice
extra virgin olive oil
1 teaspoon wholegrain mustard of choice

Rinse quinoa well and cook in twice the amount of water until the white curly bit is coming away, and the white centre has almost disappeared (you can't see this with red quinoa, my trick is to cook both colours together so you can see when it's done). It is best not to overcook - you want the quinoa to remain whole in the salad.

Assemble hot or warm quinoa in a bowl with chickpeas, red pepper, and lettuce.

To make the dressing, place equal quantities of liquid honey (heated for 10 seconds in the microwave), lemon juice, and olive oil in a small jar (eg. an old mustard jar).

Add mustard.

Shake dressing and use to taste - in my experience, more dressing is required when the salad is served cold than when warm!

Quinoa and chickpea salad with honey and mustard dressing
Chickpea Quinoa Salad with Honey Mustard Dressing (While the photographed salad contained feta, the salad is much better without.)
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Note on Cookbook Case Studies

I realised today that I got the term "Cookbook Spotlight" from Slashfood's Cookbook of the Day category. Not wanting to plagiarise the term, and unimpressed at my lack of originality, I changed my cookbook recipe reviews to "Cookbook Case Studies", and have edited my previous posts to reflect this. This makes more sense considering I will be posting about a number of recipes within each book, rather than reviewing a separate book each post. It also appeals to my background in the study of psychology.

Isn't is funny (and perhaps dangerous) how easy it is to have an idea come to you, and later realise that you didn't think up that idea yourself? Sorry Slashfood!

Friday, May 29, 2009

Gingerbread Cake - Cookbook Case Study - Vegetarian Cooking Without

Vegetarian Cooking without: Recipes Free from Added Gluten, Sugar, Yeast, Dairy Products, Meat, Fish, Saturated Fat

Thinking that making something sweet would give me a broader experience of this cookbook, I picked out a gingerbread cake recipe. I love gingerbread - yet I don't often eat it, and I've never made it. In fact, I'm not much of a baker at all - when Neil came home and I told him I'd made cake, he looked mildly shocked, reminding me that I hadn't made cake the entire time we'd been together (a bit over two years). He's right, I can only remember baking twice in that time (excluding pizza or savoury baked dishes) - a gluten free chocolate brownie (soooo good), and some gluten free chocolate chip cookies (not so good - just tasted like sugar).

Back to gingerbread. The recipe calls for rice flour, millet flour, and almond flour, and is sweetened with stevia. Alternatively, dates stewed in a bit of water could be substituted for the stevia and almond flour, which is what I did - I thought dates would complement the ginger and molasses.

Stewing dates
Stewing Dates
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It was super-easy. Basically all you have to do is process the hell outta all the ingredients, then bake. I had some reservations about the millet. What I have is called “ground millet”, and is fairly coarse, though it says on the box you can simply replace for wheat flour. I don't know if 'millet flour' is ground finer than that or not - it is hard to find many gluten free ingredients in NZ, so I don't know if what I have is the same as what's called for in American recipes. Next time, perhaps I will try grinding the millet a little finer for use.

Ingredients in the Food Processor
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I was quite pleased with the gingerbread, once we tasted it warm from the oven. It certainly had some of the texture of the millet, but not unpleasantly so. The case was much more dense than I expected - by which I mean it was very filling, despite being quite soft and fluffy. When I ate the first few crumbs to fall off the loaf as I cut it, I remembered that the dates were the only sweetener in it, and hoped that it wouldn't be awful - it was nice, definitely not sweet, but the molasses added a bit of extra richness and the spices were prominent, unlike some weak gingerbread I've had.

Fresh from the Oven
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Cut Cake
The First Slice
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Neil's evaluation was - “it was all right - a bit dry though”. I'd agree with that.

The real test will be - what is it like cold, after being stored a night or two? Will it still be edible?

*Cut a day* Still very similar! Needs olivani (or your choice of oil/butter spread) to counter the dryness. The gingerbread flavour is not as prominent, and takes a bit longer to reach your taste buds.

Slice of gingerbread cake
Slice of gingerbread with Olivani
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Would I make it again? Yes! Though I would also experiment to see if I can get it a bit more moist.

Wednesday, May 27, 2009

Vegetable and Ginger Casserole with Herb Dumplings - Cookbook Case Study - Vegetarian Cooking Without

Vegetarian Cooking without: Recipes Free from Added Gluten, Sugar, Yeast, Dairy Products, Meat, Fish, Saturated Fat

Having never made, or even eating anything with dumplings before, I was intrigued by this recipe and had it bookmarked for two or three weeks before the demon of study released me to make it. After an enthusiastic supermarket visit the day before, I set to preparing vegetables and discovered that 1.1kg of vegetables was much less than I thought it was. That's ok - I just had to make a plan for the other maybe 3 kg of vegetables I bought ;)

I was very surprised that I had to add almost a litre of water to the oven dish. I even considered the possibility that this was an error, if it weren't for the fact that it matched the alternate measurements given. It was right, in the end - but one thing about making unfamiliar recipes (rather than non-recipe standby dishes) is that sometimes I am surprised by just what I'm asked to do.

I had never cooked fennel bulb before, nor used fennel seeds. The only experience I've had with fennel, in fact, being the awful awful tea/drink I made from fennel picked from the garden as a child, in that stage when you are fascinated with the fact that garden weeds can be edible, so you become obsessed with eating them just because you can. (or, was that just me?) I was taken by the flavour of the fennel, cooked until tender, and I'm sure I'll use it again in this style of dish.

The dumplings were almost entirely rice (rice, plus rice flour, processed) - the best ones were those that I did not pack together too hard, leaving them slightly soft rather than thick and gummy.

While the recipe said it served four, the quarter each we had on the first night was too much for one setting (for Neil - I ate his leftovers, but boy did I regret it at 0400 when I woke up with food still in my stomach). I would recommend splitting the recipe into six, but adding a can or two of red kidney beans. The recipe lacks any significant source of protein without, and leaves you not quite satisfied (even if you eat far too much like I did). It seemed to keep okay for leftovers - which are pictures (with beans added as an afterthought).

Vegetable Ginger Stew with Herb Dumplings
Vegetable Stew with Herb Dumplings
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So, If I make this casserole again, it will either be served on rice, or with more care in making the dumplings to make sure they are soft.

Monday, May 25, 2009

Three Bean Chilli - Cookbook Case Study - Vegetarian Cooking Without

Vegetarian Cooking without: Recipes Free from Added Gluten, Sugar, Yeast, Dairy Products, Meat, Fish, Saturated Fat

I'd never made a chilli before, so this was an initial exploration into unfamiliar territory. The recipe calls for red kidney beans, azuki beans, and whole red lentils. I had both varieties of beans in my cupboard - the red kidney beans leftover from a not quite successful Gumbo Z'Herbes (which failed to thicken with my gluten-free roux). I suspect I could have found whole red lentils at an Indian grocery store, but I chose instead to substitute with a blend of split red and whole brown lentils, the first of which a pantry staple in my house.

All in all, I found this a very acceptable chilli. I doubled the recipe, and encouraged by the note at the end of the recipe, have a few servings packed away in the freezer for later convenience.

The one difficulty I had in following the recipe stemmed from my total novice status at cooking dried beans (having been vegetarian for over ten years, too!). I had no idea about cooking times, apart from a vague expectation that it would be a long time. However, after simmering the final chilli for two hours (the beans having already cooked for an hour), I was hungry enough to serve it, slight crunch though there was in a bean or two. (The leftovers, having been left in the pot for the rest of the evening, were perfect.)

I look forward to revisiting this recipe later, when I raid the freezer, and comparing to chillis that I hope to make from other books.

Three Bean Chilli
Laying out the ingredients (beans already cooked - not shown because they're ugly!)
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Three Bean Chilli
Vegetables chopped and cooking. I know, a flash may have shown more, but it looks so much yummier without!
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Three Bean Chilli
The spices, waiting.
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Three Bean Chilli
Steamy chilli.
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Sunday, May 24, 2009

Cookbook Case Studies

Recently, I've been thinking more about menu planning. While most of our meals are either quick and simple foods that I can prepare at the end of a long day of work, I decided that I also needed to make use of some of the many cookbooks I have bought, yet sit mostly decoratively on the shelf. Sure I open them frequently to flick through and look for inspiration, but I very rarely cook from them.

Cookbook Shelf
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To remedy this, I've made a list of all the cookbooks we currently own. My intention is to make at least three recipes out of each book (two savoury, one or two sweet), and writing about my efforts, before moving on to the next book.

The first book, chosen for it's location on the top of the pile, is Vegetarian Cooking without: Recipes Free from Added Gluten, Sugar, Yeast, Dairy Products, Meat, Fish, Saturated Fat.

Vegetarian Cooking without: Recipes Free from Added Gluten, Sugar, Yeast, Dairy Products, Meat, Fish, Saturated Fat

When I first started going gluten free, I figured it would be a good idea to get some new cookbooks (really, I never need much of an excuse). I'd previously decided it wasn't really worth buying cookbooks that were not vegetarian, as it seems a waste to buy and store so many recipes I will not use. Additionally, as my experience with restaurant menus indicated that the most common gluten free options were not vegetarian, I wanted to make sure that any cookbook contained something that I could eat. This strategy cut down the number of gluten free cookbooks available to me. This book was one of the three I bought.

The recipes I bookmarked to make were:

Three Bean Chilli
Vegetable and Ginger Casserole with Herb Dumplings
Gingerbread Cake
Lemon and Poppy Seed Cake

In the following week or so, I'll write about each of these recipes

Friday, May 22, 2009

North Island travel gluten free

A couple of months ago, I travelled from Wellington up to Rotorua and back, keeping track of how easy or difficult it was for me to eat gluten free and vegetarian at the places we stopped - Taupo on the way up, and Napier on the way back. Here are some notes I took along the way.


Brew Café
Marama Arcade (off Heuheu St.)

They had gluten free options for sandwiches and melts, and offered gluten free toast for the breakfast options.

I had: Scrambled eggs, tomato, and mushroom on gluten free toast.

Evaluation: The toast was good, but there was too much egg and not enough mushroom.

Note: Business was for sale March 2009.


Triple 1 Five
Tutanekai St.

The menu contained a number of gluten free options, including vegetarian ones, and included a note that they would assist where possible regarding any other allergies.

I had:

“Funky roll” (Rice paper rolls filled with baked mushroom and thyme, served on roasted kumara and bok choy)
Vegetable Stack
Lemon and passionfruit crème brulée

Evaluation: The entrée was exceptional. The main was fairly standard (in comparison to the entrée). The dessert again was exceptional - and I was unsure about anything but vanilla crème brulée!

Lemon and Passionfruit Crème Brulée
Crème Brulée
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Note: I was very surprised at how good the meal was for me - I usually wouldn't even consider looking at the menu of a stone grill restaurant. I must remember to be open to opportunities to be impressed!

Lovely India
Tutanekai St.

The waitress had to check to make sure the malai kofta was gluten free (it was - but she thought it may have been battered). She also advised me that the poppadom was not gluten free - and even though I asked if she was sure, she didn't check. I thought poppadoms were pretty much always just made from chickpea flour (wikipedia also mentions lentil, black gram, and rice flour). Oh well, I went without, though I doubted I needed to (cross-contamination isn't a serious concern for me).

I had: malai kofta and a mango lassi.

Evaluation: Yum!!

Tutanekai St.

The menu contained three vegetarian options - two were pasta. When I asked at the door about gluten free options, she lady told me confidently that all the items were gluten free. I challenged her about the pasta (figuring if it were gluten free pasta it would probably say so on the menu). She checked with the kitchen and lo and behold - regular wheat pasta. Regardless of this we sat down and I went about trying to determine if my other option - cheese steak on cajun rice with vegetables - was gluten free. I was most concerned about the BBQ sauce, but she said they made it themselves and used cornflour as the thickener. I asked her to check anyway, and she came back out with a bottle of Watties BBQ sauce and said actually they use that. I read the ingredients, noted the caramel colour, and said no thanks, just in case. While waiting for the meals we used the iPhone to check the manufactured food database, and saw that the sauce was listed as gluten free. When I found the waitress and told her I could have the sauce, she said “yeah, because caramel is just sugar!”, as if the artificial caramel colour were made of real caramel...

I had: Cheese steak on cajun rice with vegetables.

Evaluation: .... it was fantastic! Pity the service was so shockingly awful. Apart from waitresses who didn't even know the basics of what was in their food in general (pasta contains wheat, they use pre-made sauce...), let alone when it came to common allergens, yet spoke confidently as if she knew it was gluten free, we also witnessed many instances of the waiting staff being generally incompetent. Additionally, pouncing on people casually browsing the menu... it probably explained why the place was so empty. The food on the other hand, was amazing... well, my dish at least. Though - I realised afterwards with all the focus on the sauce, I guess I forgot to get 100% confirmation on every ingredient in the cajun rice. I didn't have any ill effects, but I would recommend checking on every single detail - I had absolutely no trust in that waitress.


Café Ahuriri

They have a separate gluten free version of their menu (essentially the same as their regular menu but gluten free), which has a strong focus on breakfast. Also offered counter food. They had a sign up indicating that they specialise in accommodating people with special dietary requirements. The menu was very egg based and had very little that was vegetarian. Out of luck if you're vegan, though I assume they could have made something. They did have a brand of soy milk that was gluten free, as well as rice milk, and were happy to make all sorts of substitutions in my order.

Update: I took pictures of the menu with my cellphone!
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Update: The Sign
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I had: Eggs on hasbrowns, with baked beans, and mushrooms (as a replacement for bacon). Banana and soy milk smoothie (ice, soy milk, banana, and honey - without the special 'smoothie mix' which contained milk - and despite the server's concerns that the ice would curdle the soy milk).

Big Breakfast
Update: I had pictures of the meal on my cellphone!
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Evaluation: Oh boy, this was a greasy sort of meal, definitely not a healthy sort of menu. On the plus side, the proportion of the eggs to beans to mushrooms was good. As a side note, though, I was suspicious of the baked beans. They looked a lot like I remember Watties baked beans (which use wheat flour - except for the lite ones). However - they had gluten free soy milk, I'm sure they checked the baked beans... ... ...

Thursday, May 21, 2009


Welcome to Good Eating in New Zealand. The purpose of this blog is to share my experience as a vegetarian becoming gluten-free in New Zealand. I've been reading food blogs for some time, but have seen a gap in locally relevant material (unless I haven't looked hard enough!). I intend to post reviews of cafés, restaurants, products, and cookbooks, in the hope that someone may find my contribution relevant to them.

Content coming soon!