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Quinoa Couscous

January 7, 2012

Gotta tell ya, cooking quinoa ain’t my favourite bag o’ tricks. They tell you on the packet it’ll only take 10 minutes. They lie. They tell you on the packet to use 3 parts liquid to 1 part quinoa. And they lie. They fail to tell you it might go mushy, they fail to tell you it may stick to the bottom of the pan. They fail to tell you it might, in fact, taste like little more than wallpaper paste – only without that full, soapy flavour. Mmm … wallpaper paste …

Anyhoo, yesterday I answered a challenge to cook for my partner’s step-father, who is a mean cook himself, but very meat-centric. He’s also got an ulcer, so turns out making something incredibly spicy ain’t a good idea. (Note to self: killing partner’s step-father = setback in inter-familial relationship). So I’m gunna gloss over that and move on to the one thing that worked out ok: the fruity quinoa couscous I made. Ok, I know calling it Quinoa Couscous is like calling a recipe Roast Lamb Beef, but you get what I mean.


  1. 1/2 small mug of quinoa
  2. 1 tbsp olive oil
  3. Zest 1 lemon
  4. 1 mug elderflower & apple juice
  5. Fresh squeezed juice 1 orange
  6. Tablespoon sultanas
  7. Approx. 2 mugs water, or whatever you need to cook the bastarding stuff til it’s tender
  8. Pinch cumin
  9. Roasted almond flakes
  10. Salt & peppper


  1. Heat olive oil in frying pan.
  2. Add quinoa and lemon zest. Heat until the quinoa is hot and the smell of lemons is strong.
  3. Add the elderflower & apple juice, orange juice & sultanas. Cook until the liquid is absorbed.
  4. Keep adding water until the quinoa is soft and all liquid absorbed into the grain. This might well take longer than you think.
  5. When the quinoa is ready, add a pinch of cumin, roasted almond flakes, and season to taste. Allow to cool.
  6. Serve cold, as an accompaniment to something that will kill your step-father-in-law.

N.B – you can also add dried apricots to this dish, but a) I think dried apricots are the Devil’s food, and b) I thought it was already sweet and fruity enough. If you don’t agree with point a, I would suggest adding the apricots when you add the sultanas, so they become soft and juicy in the liquid. I’d also suggest adding something to curb the sweetness a bit. More lemon, perhaps. Anyway, I was pleased with this side dish, and would heartily recommend trying it as a lunch-time accompaniment – or even a lunch on its own. You could add plenty of other stuff to it to bulk it out: courgettes, cashews instead of almonds, peppers, parsley or – if you’re a meat eater – chunks of leftover Sunday roast lamb. Whatever you like, really.


Isra’s Butter Bean Begilla

December 6, 2011

Begilla is a Maltese sort-of hummus/paté, made with broad beans. I love it, but butter beans are a particular favourite of mine – so I thought I’d make a butter bean version. And I’m right pleased with it. I highly recommend eating it on corn crackers, or gluten free pitta bread, as part of a mezze platter. It’s also just ridiculously easy. So here we go:


1 tin butter beans

2 sprigs fresh thyme (or 1tsp dried)

2 cloves garlic

Salt & pepper

Olive oil

Small handful black olives

Spoonful capers

Twist of lemon juice

Pinch of paprika


  1. Heat a glug of oil in a frying pan and crush the garlic into it, with some salt and pepper. Once the garlic has softened, add the thyme.
  2. Rinse the butter beans under the tap and, once drained, add them to the garlic and herbs. Fry until the butter beans are a little softened, and coated with the juicy juicy flavours. (You can add other spices, if you wanna, obviously. A bit of cumin is nice). Take off the heat.
  3. Mash the butter beans in a bowl until you can’t be bothered to mash them any more. It’s up to you how smooth you want it.
  4. Chop the black olives and capers, add to the butter beans. Add seasoning, to your taste. Mix through. Add a good glug of olive oil, until the mix is moist but not overly wet.
  5. With a twist of lemon and a sprinkle of paprika, you’re done.

Isra’s Bestest Bean Burgers

December 5, 2011

Have you ever met a kidney bean that wasn’t in a chilli, or bolognese, or summink? If you have, then you’ve probably reached the same conclusion I have:

They taste really nice!!

So why not make a quick, easy, everyday meal out of them little curvy delights? Here’s how:


  1. Tin of kidney beans, rinsed and drained
  2. Approx. 50g gluten free breadcrumbs (or as much as is needed). I think these are the best I’ve come across so far:
  3. 1 small onion, diced
  4. 2 tomatoes, diced
  5. Tablespoon of capers
  6. 1+ tsp cumin
  7. 1 tsp Cayenne pepper
  8. Salt and pepper
  9. Half an egg, beaten
  10. Sprinkling of rice flour
  11. Olive oil


  1. Fry the diced onions in olive oil, until soft.
  2. Drain and rinse the kidney beans, then mash them roughly in a bowl. Don’t make them too smooth. The texture is better with some lumpiness to it!
  3. Add the onion, capers, diced tomato, seasoning and spices, and mix together
  4. Add the egg, and the breadcrumbs, until the mixture binds without being too wet. (Note: you can flavour the breadcrumbs with herbs and spices of your choice, or parmesan cheese)
  5. Mould the kidney bean mixture into burger-shaped patties. If necessary, sprinkle a little rice flour on the surface to further bind.
  6. Heat oil in the pan you used for the onions. When hot, add each burger and fry until crispy on the outside and heated through.
  7. Serve in a gluten free roll or pitta bread, with salad, mayonnaise, and – if you like – a slice of cheese. Faaabulous!

Cheesy Tomato & Yellow Pepper Pancakes

November 9, 2011


So this is it. My first recipe. My first foray into the world of enticing vegetarian food, that also happens to be gluten free. I should choose something wild and attention grabbing, shouldn’t I? Eh? Eh??

I’m not gunna.

One of the first things I thought when I discovered my girlfriend was a coeliac was “ohhhh … bread!”

So I should write a recipe for bread, then, right?

I’m not gunna. Because, frankly, at this stage of the game, I have found precisely ONE gluten free bread that wasn’t a disappointing experience. It’s a rustic roll made by Delice de France, which we ate at Haughton Park Farm in Nottinghamshire and haven’t seen anywhere since. I’d order the poxy things online if I could, but I think you can only order as a retailer. And I’m not opening my own bakery just so Yesh can have some bloody rolls.

So, like, what then, yeah? Something simple, something happy, but something that still makes people go “ahhhh … how nice!”

So, stuffed pancakes it is! If you’re looking for an alternative to choking down a gluten free sandwich, you can’t do better than a cake of pan. And, unlike attempting anything you need to roll out – which, in the gluten free world is a frickin’ NIGHTMARE – this just calls for batter. In the world of gluten free, liquid is good. Oh yes, my friends. Batter is poured straight into the pan, which means you don’t have to worry about it falling apart before you can actually get it to the frying pan, so there’s no howling, cursing or crying*, and the end result is bloody tasty.

I made these with soya milk, because Yesh avoids cow juice – but I think the slightly nutty flavour really adds some interest to a savoury pancake. But if you don’t like it, you fussy bastards, just use semi-skimmed.

These are not they, but they look similar. Copyright goes to Glutafin


For the Pancakes

100g brown rice flour

40g cornflour

2 eggs

Approx. 200ml soya milk  (or semi skimmed juice of a cow)

Knob of butter/1tbsp oil

Pinch o’ salt

For the Filling

2 tomatoes, chopped

2 tsp capers

Handful fresh basil, chopped (or 1tsp dried)

1 pepper, the colour of your choice, chopped in 2cm pieces

100g cheddar cheese, grated

The Method

  1. Mix the flours together in a deep bowl, with the salt and eggs
  2. Add the milk gradually, beating it until you have the batter to your preferred consistency. I like mine to be quite thick, so the consistency of double cream is about right.
  3. Leave to rest for 30 minutes, if you wanna. Meanwhile, throw the chopped pepper in a frying pan with a dash of olive oil and fry til they start to go soft. Then add the tomatoes and capers and cook for another minute or so. Add the basil at the last, and take it off the heat.
  4.  Melt the butter or oil in a clean frying pan until a tester drop of batter sizzles in a very satisfying manner.
  5. Pour a ladle of batter into the centre of the pan. When it starts to set in the correct shape, you can shake the pan to keep the pancake from sticking. Or use a fish slice.
  6. Turn, or, if you’re feeling fancy-pants show-off,  flip the ‘cake and cook on the other side. While doing so, put a line of the mixture down the middle of the cooked side, add some grated cheese, and – when it’s ready – fold the cake over so it forms a neat half-circle with goodness within. You can add some more grated cheese on top if you like. Why not? Go crazy.
  7. Keep each pancake warm in the oven as you cook the next one, repeating the process. This, if you’ve been all rock n roll, also melts the cheese on top.

Et voila. Not exactly gourmet food, but it’s warm, it’s comforting, it’s cheesy – and it can be as full of healthy veg as you can sensibly fit in a pancake.

May you stuff your faces with glee.

*At least, not about the pancakes.