Chestnut and herb stuffing

Is it too soon to be thinking of Christmas? It’s hardly past Halloween and Bonfire night but if you are like me and make your food for Christmas then perhaps we do need to start. I love chestnuts, and they are suitable for the Low FODMAP diet. Although I have used bacon and butter – with a small change to these ingredients the recipe and removing the bacon, the recipe can also be made suitable for vegans, plus it is rich enough to form the centre dish for a vegan Christmas.
As I was writing this recipe it reminded me of the song ‘Are you going to Scarborough fair – parsley, sage, rosemary and thyme’ I had inadvertently used this reverent combination in the recipe. I love this song; it’s a traditional ballad, a melancholy tale of loss and the impossible demands of love steeped in the legend of herbs anthropomorphic emotional properties. Being a scientist at heart, I don’t generally ascribe to flowers or herbs changing someone’s emotions however I am, I think, also a romantic too to some extent – so I can recognise and appreciate the sentimentality of the song. Can you be both? I think so.
This stuffing is not necessarily a healthy recipe, but Christmas is a time where a treat is allowed, it is a time to cook for friends and relatives and flavour is essential.

Ingredients

  • 1/2 tin (200g) of chestnut puree
  • 10 Walnuts
  • 3 Sprigs thyme
  • 130g Grated celeriac
  • 100g Gluten-free bread
  • 1 Sprig of rosemary
  • 2 Tablespoons of parsley
  • 20g Sage
  • Grated rind of 1 lemon
  • 90g Streaky dry cure bacon
  • 100g cooked whole chestnuts
  • 40g butter
  • Seasoning

Method

  • Grate the celeriac
  • Chop the walnuts, whole chestnuts and herbs
  • Grate the lemon rind
  • Using a loaf tin lined with butter and the bacon rind – allow the rashers to drape over the edge – long enough so the slices can be folded back over the loaf when the tin is full.
  • Warm the oven to 180 degrees C.
  • Melt the butter in a frying pan and add the celeriac, fry for five minutes then add the chestnut puree. Add the chopped nuts, herbs lemon rind and seasoning and mix well till combined.
  • When combined spoon the mix into the loaf tin till full, then fold over the rest of the bacon rashers to cover the top of the loaf.
  • Place the loaf tin in a tray of water to prevent the sides from burning and cook on the central shelf for 10 minutes.
  • Serves 6-8.

Pumpkin gnocchi and sage butter

I have been thinking about Halloween recipes this weekend – this is likely to be the last one I post this year. I adore gnocchi but I do find it very filling. It is a dish for a day where you need something satisfying and tasty. The day has been nothing but grey sky and drizzle so it is very apt to make a starchy dish and pumpkin is a seasonal alternative to potato. Enjoy!

Ingredients

  • 1 Medium pumpkin – mine gave 600g flesh
  • Spray oil
  • 300g maize or cornflour
  • 1 Egg
  • Seasoning
  • 25g butter
  • 10-12 sage leaves
  • 30g Grated parmesan

Method

  • Slice the pumpkin and spray with oil and roast in the oven till soft.
  • Leave the slices till cooled.
  • Remove the skin from the flesh, season.
  • Add to a blender with the egg and enough flour to bind the mix.
  • The mix is slightly soft but can be weighed into 10g portions and rolled, then flattened with a fork.
  • Heat a large pan with boiling water add seasoning and drop in the gnocchi – don’t add to many at once – they will float (Halloween reference to IT here) when ready.
  • You might have to change the water if it becomes too starchy.
  • Dry well on kitchen paper.
  • Chop the sage, melt the butter in a pan and add the gnocchi.
  • Serve and sprinkle with parmesan cheese.
  • Serves 6.

The Perfect Watercress Soup – low FODMAP

Watercress soup is sublime and tradition in our household means that we have it as a starter every Christmas. I have considered the fact that we can’t use onion – the complete taste profile onion gives to the dish – including the slight amount of sweetness it provides and I have replaced the onion with alternatives in hope of retaining it’s benefits without its nasty gut side effects.

Watercress is a member of the brassica family of vegetables, therefore it is related to broccoli, cabbage, radish and rocket. Watercress has lot’s of peppery goodness, but although it is rich in some nutrients you would only gain benefit if you include it in your diet regularly – luckily it has lots of uses. It tastes excellent with salmon and watercress is great to use as the leaves for a salad, if you enjoy it’s slightly hot taste! It contains some vitamin A, vitamin K and folate, plus iron (plus is a reasonable source of vitamin C to help absorption of the iron – it is probably better eaten as a salad leaf to achieve this benefit.) As it is a source of iron it is therefore useful for vegans to include in their diet alongside other sources – but this recipe would have to be made with almond milk and dairy free margarine instead of butter to make in suitable. Perhaps I could try that next!

The soup does contain butter and uses full cream milk – but this is a soup for special occasions – so it is OK to have this amount of fat occasionally and you could change to semi skimmed milk and 20g fat, if needed, if you do find that rich foods result in symptoms. The garnish I have used is watercress leaves, radish sprouts and dried seaweed – radish sprouts and seaweed are not integral to the dish, however – and the conkers in the picture are not edible. I hope you enjoy it!

Ingredients

  • 1 bag of fresh watercress
  • 500ml of full fat lactose free milk
  • 1 sprinkle of asafoetida
  • 1/4 teaspoon of sugar
  • Salt to taste
  • 40g butter
  • 1 tablespoon of corn flour

Method

  • Melt the butter in a pan and add the cornflour whilst mixing and the sprinkle of asafoetida and the sugar. This will not form a traditional roux, but not to worry.
  • Slowly drizzle in the milk – note that it will start to thicken at this stage and a whisk might be a better tool to use to ensure that no lumps are formed.
  • When all the milk is added then bring to a slight boil to thicken.
  • Add the watercress and cook until wilted then blend the soup
  • Season to taste.
  • Serves 1-2

Carrot and nut cake – vegan and low fodmap

This cake is a real treat, it also has a good degree of fibre which should help people with BS-C – however do be aware of the fibre and introduce slowly if your bowel is not used to it. It is sweet, vegan, egg and wheat free and low fodmap.

Ingredients

50g ground flaxseed

100ml water

400g Gluten Free self-raising flour

125g chestnut flour

100ml water

1 teaspoon ginger

2 teaspoons cinnamon

½ teaspoon of ground cloves

100g chopped pecan nut

1 teaspoon vanilla essence

150g castor sugar

200g brown sugar

500g carrots

150ml hazelnut oil

1 ¼ teaspoons gluten free baking powder

Method

Prepare 2, 7 inch cake tins

Mix the flaxseed with water and leave in the fridge for 30 minutes.

Add the dry ingredients (flour, ginger, cinnamon, cloves and ginger) to a bowl

Grate the carrot using a food processor using the grating accessory and add to the flour – mix well.

Chop the pecan nuts and add to the flour, mix.

Add the flaxseed and water mix to the food processor using the usual blade and blend for 20 seconds.

Add to the processor the sugar and vanilla essence and blend for 20 seconds and then whilst the processor is mixing drizzle in the oil slowly.

Pour this mix into the flour, nuts and carrots and mix well. If too stiff add 100ml of water – the mix should look like a cake mix.

Add the mix to the two cake tins and bake at gas mark 3 (165 degrees C) until a skewer/cake tester comes out clean from the mix.

The cake will rise and may crack a little on the surface but trim off the and turn the cake upside down for decorating.

Vegan ‘chicken’ and pumpkin couscous – low fodmap

An autumn favourite is pumpkin and numerous varieties can be found. When I was young pumpkin in the UK was unheard of – in fact we used to make Halloween lanterns with a swede! That certainly was a recipe for injury – although the pumpkin isn’t always easy to carve.

I have also decided to venture into a vegan recipe using vegan ‘chicken’ low FODMAP suitable products are based on soya protein or alternatively you could use Quorn ‘chicken’ pieces.

This was a fairly easy recipe to make and was lightly spiced – if you want a heavier spice then you can add more Ras El Hanout. Do check your spice mix has no high fodmap ingredients such as onion or garlic. Enjoy!

Ingredients

  • 200g Pumpkin
  • 30g Pumpkin seeds
  • 30g Pine nuts
  • 20g Sunflower seeds
  • 30g Course peanut butter
  • 200ml Water
  • 1 teaspoon of Ras El Hanout Spice
  • 200g Soya protein based chicken pieces
  • 250g Corn couscous
  • Spray oil
  • 30g mint leaves
  • Seasoning (salt and pepper) to taste

Method

  • Chop the pumpkin and boil in water till soft.
  • Spray oil into a frying pan and add the Ras El Hanout and fry gently with minimal oil to release the flavours, add the chopped mint leaves.
  • Add the peanut butter, seeds and water to the frying pan and cook till thickened
  • Add the ‘chicken’ pieces and cooked pumpkin
  • Weight the couscous and pour over the same amount of boiling water (250 ml) and leave to cook – run a fork through the mix to give texture to the couscous
  • You can either serve the ‘chicken’ sauce and couscous separately or mix the ‘chicken’ sauce through the couscous, as I have done.
  • Serves 5-6 enjoy!

Oyster mushrooms – a umami low fodmap option for IBS

It is autumn and the evenings are becoming darker. It is the season for mushrooms and many people really miss mushrooms when following the low fodmap diet. But if you are following the Kings College Low FODMAP diet oyster mushrooms are suitable. They are not as available as a few years ago and are now usually found in the section labelled up as wild mushrooms – so perhaps suitable for a treat only.

Mushrooms have an umami flavour – an earthy, complex meaty flavour that is very important particularly if you are vegan and missing the deep, rich flavour that meat offers. Mushroom also offers a texture that is robust, filling and satisfying. This is the flavour provided by glutamate (the natural variant of mono-sodium glutamate – MSG, a food additive) a chemical that in the past has been implicated in Chinese or Asian food intolerance or ‘Chinese restaurant syndrome’. It might be the FODMAP content rather than the glutamate that lead to perhaps some gastrointestinal upset in some people and not specifically the glutamate content – we have no evidence that ‘Chinese restaurant syndrome’ exists from eating food where MSG has been added (see the Compound Interest info-graphic above.) Some foods containing glutamate listed above also contain histamine, which also is implicated in developing symptoms such as palpitations, chest pain, headaches, asthma, flushing and gastrointestinal upset. They are cheese, fermented foods such as miso and tomato. These foods are possibly the foods which might have lead to Chinese Restaurant syndrome, although this reaction is likely to occur infrequently. If you do suspect a histamine intolerance and have the symptoms above see a dietitian who will provide help for you to check if you have. Please avoid information from the internet on histamine intolerance, as it is usually far too restrictive and might lead to nutritional deficiencies. Although actually we have no evidence that most people with IBS have histamine intolerance – in my opinion we need much more research in histamine reactions.

Who wouldn’t want to have this fantastic flavouring naturally found in mushroom, parmesan and soy sauce? I have developed a recipe for you. You can replace the parmesan with a vegan alternative, if you wish, and it really doesn’t change the flavour. Risotto is such a tasty filling meal for autumn evenings this recipe contains lots of umami from white miso, oyster mushrooms and parmesan cheese. Do enjoy it!

Ingredients

  • 160g Oyster mushrooms
  • 1 tablespoon oil
  • 250g arborio (risotto) rice
  • 15g white miso diluted with 700ml boiling water
  • 20g vegan or standard parmesan
  • 50g toasted pine nuts
  • 3-4 sprigs of thyme
  • additional grated parmesan

Method

  • Now the only rule really in making risotto is that you shouldn’t leave it alone for a second! It takes time to prepare but it is worthwhile putting that additional work in – you get out what you put in.
  • Grate the parmesan and set aside.
  • Toast the pine nuts in a drizzle of oil until they are brown -watch them closely as they can easily burn. Set aside to cool and then add the thyme (chopped) and mix well.
  • Add the oil to the pan and gently fry the mushrooms for 5 minutes. Then add rice to the pan and cook to 2 minutes.
  • Start to incorporate the miso based stock slowly to the pan over 10-15 minutes and keep stirring – this will prevent the rice from sticking to the pan.
  • The rice is ready when it is al dente (slightly firm to bite)
  • You may need additional liquid – water is suitable – depending on the rice you use.
  • At this point stir in the grated parmesan and serve topped with toasted pine nuts and extra grated parmesan to taste (you shouldn’t need any seasoning as the flavours are deep but add some at this point after tasting the dish if you wish.)
  • Enjoy!