Experimenting with wholefoods

Orange/cardamon, and gluten-free choc-chip biscuits

The other day I made a fantastic recipe for Apple, Cinnamon & Quinoa Muffin Top Cookies from Oh My Veggies. The most exciting part for me (apart from eating them), was using quinoa. I’m a fan of quinoa, I’ve just never really got to the point where I’ve actually prepared it myself. Now the challenge of course was that the recipe called for 1 cup of cooked quinoa, and I, clutching my paper bag full of whole quinoa straight from the organic shop, had no idea how much dry = cooked quinoa. So I ended up just following the directions I had googled for cooking one cup of dry quinoa (yielding more once cooked), with the idea that I’d use the remainder in a salad or something.

Alas! Creativity got the better of me, and yesterday I found myself in the kitchen with a plastic container full of cooked quinoa, and a vague idea of trying to make biscuits. I’m generally more of a muffin/cupcake/bread type of baker, so I’m not sure why I thought I’d be capable of inventing a biscuit recipe. However, it actually worked out okay, much to my surprise and amusement.

Another love of mine is using chickpeas in baking. I’m not sure if I’ve already shared this, but there’s a great gluten-free cake recipe here (from The Smallest Smallholding), which uses chickpeas as the staple ingredient. I’ve also encountered some seriously delicious chickpea treats from Scullery Made, a regular at the Barossa Farmers Market (- if you’re ever out that way, seriously check them out – amazing baked goodies and beautiful teas).

So it was decided that I would embark on this adventure with both quinoa and chickpeas in tow. I really wish I could post the recipe here, but I didn’t actually measure anything out. It was a very rough experiment that I didn’t expect to actually yield anything worth sharing, but it was basically a keep-adding-stuff-in-until-you-get-the-right-consistency kind of job. If you want to get experimental too, by all means do! It is fun, and the worst that can happen is that you have to eat all your biscuit dough raw, which I’m sure we all acknowledge is not a bad thing.

So this was the result: two batches of biscuits, both dairy/egg free, and made using quinoa and chickpeas. I’ve included the ingredients (and measurements where I remembered), so you can experiment at will! I made the basic dough up all together, then divided it into two and added extras.

Basic dough
cooked quinoa (around 1 1/2 cups)
1 cup cooked chickpeas, whizzed in a food processor
rice flour (around 1/4 – 1/2 cup?)
3/4 cup sugar
1/2 cup vegetable oil
1 teaspoon vanilla essence
honey (around 1/4 cup)

Orange and cardamon biscuits (inspired by The Mindful Foodie)
5 cardamon pods, seeds removed and ground to a fine powder
1 teaspoon cinnamon
zest and juice of one orange
wholemeal flour, to make up a moist dough

Mix all ingredients together. Form tablespoon-sized balls and flatten slightly on a lined baking tray, about 2-3cm apart. Bake at 170C until golden (around 20 minutes).

Gluten-free choc-chip biscuits
1/4 cup chopped chocolate, or chocolate chips
a touch more rice flour (1/4 cup?)
almond meal to make moist dough

*Note that this mixture was a lot moister/oilier than the orange biscuits. I had my doubts, but they actually worked brilliantly! Soft on the inside and crunchy on the outside :)

Mix and bake as above.

Happy experimenting!

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Chai kousa (dogwood) jam

Firstly, I realise this blog has been completely neglected for several months. I have often thought of the posts I could be making, but the practicality of travelling and blogging just wasn’t there. But I am back now, and I have an exciting culinary adventure to share!

I’ve been going for walks every morning since I’ve been home. It’s a fantastic way to start the day, and having the opportunity to observe the changing seasons around you is quite amazing. I recently noticed a peculiar looking fruit tree growing on the verge not far from home. Perplexed, I googled, but of course trying to find the name of a plant by searching “rough skinned fruit” is rather like trying to find a needle in a haystack, except you don’t know what a needle looks like. So I called upon the help facebook, and of course, it provided. I was informed that this strange fruit was a Cornus kousa or Korean Dogwood, and that yes, it is edible.

And so, I dragged my mother along with me to glean the fruit from the tree, in clear view of all traffic heading to the nearby town to buy their fruit from the supermarket. There was surprisingly little fruit in the end, but back at home I set about making jam. I had read that others had attempted to make jams and jellies from dogwood with varying levels of success. I have to admit that this is perhaps not as tasty as a rich raspberry or plum jam, but as an experiment, I am rather pleased with the results.

The taste of the kousa is very subtle, and when jammed, was a tad astringent (probably because I was using some unripe fruit). I decided this wasn’t going to be the most delicious conserve, so added some extra ingredients to spice it up a bit. Note that you would have to adjust the quantities depending on how much fruit you have, keeping the fruit and sugar in a 1:1 ratio (unless you’d like it less sweet – that’s okay too!) This recipe made 2 and a half large jars. Probably just enough I think, given that I still can’t determine whether eating this fruit is good or bad for you :)

Chai kousa (dogwood) jam

950g kousa, quartered
950g white sugar
1 stick cinnamon
0.5 – 1cm fresh ginger, coarsely chopped
5 cloves
3 cardamon pods, bruised

Place fruit and sugar in a saucepan over medium heat, stirring constantly until all sugar is melted and fruit softens. Add spices and ginger and continue stirring until liquid begins to boil.

Turn heat down to low, and simmer. Mash fruit with a masher to extract more juice, and continue to simmer, stirring occasionally.

To test when the jam is ready, place a teaspoon of liquid on a cold plate. If it’s ready, it should be pretty viscous and not spread far on the plate.

Next, separate the liquid from the solids (seeds, spices, skin) by pouring through a strainer, or loosely woven muslin. I only had a tiny strainer, so did this in batches.

The remnants...

Reheat the liquid, and pour into sterilised jars.