You have probably read about my Mum being a fabulous cook many times on this blog. I’m always hopeful that I can come close to approximating her meals with our dietary limitations.
However, as a kid, I only remember gravy being made in instant form from powder in a packet (Sorry Mum!)… most probably because it was much quick and less fatty. So as an adult learning how to make gravy has been a bit of a challenge for me…. and it seems I’m not alone! It was always a little hit and miss until I recently saw a very old episode of ‘Good Eats’, hosted by Alton Brown. His method for making gravy was to thicken with a roux (fat and flour), so that the flour has already cooked out before it combines with the meat juices. And now we get great gravy every time.
I tend to cook in bulk, and gravy is no exception. This recipe makes about 3 cups of gravy. I pour into reusable squeezey containers and freeze. It means when I cook a leg of lamb that does us for 3 meals – I have the gravy ready to go for each of the following meals too.
3 cups Meat juices (I get about this from a large leg of lamb that I have slow cooked)
2 tbsp fat (either from the meat or Nuttelex)
2 tbsp flour (I use either spelt or a GF flour mix)
A general ratio of 1 tbsp fat, 1 tbsp flour to each 1.5 cups of liquid.
After I have removed the meat, I strain the meat juices and reserve the liquid.
Sit the liquid in the fridge for a couple of hours so that the fat separates and solidifies on the top. Then I scoop off the fat.
In a medium saucepan warm the juices back up – they will be quite jelly-like after cooling.
In a large saucepan, over a medium heat, melt your fat of choice, either the fat scooped off the top of the top of the cooled meat juice or use Nuttelex.
Then add in your flour. Whisk it to combine well. This is your roux and it needs to cook for about 4-5 minutes, whisking regularly, to allow the raw taste of the flour to cook out.
Then add 1/2 a cup of the warmed meat juices at a time into the roux, whisking whilst you add, and waiting till all combined before you add the next 1/2 cup.
Cooking, whisking regularly over a very gentle heat until you see the mixture come to a very slight simmer. Remove from the heat and serve with your meal.
Mixtures thickened with flour will continue to thicken on cooling, so try to serve as soon as possible. You can add a little boiling water if you wish to have runnier gravy.
Of course, you can use this method for all meats and add extra flavours to intensify those already in the juices.
For the first time I have got chillies growing great guns in my garden. We use chilli a bit but not quite enough to keep up with the supply we are currently getting. So we wanted to preserve some in order for us not to waste them!
We all like Sweet Chilli Sauce, but we are trying to reduce refined sugar (of which there is a heap in store bought varieties!), so it was the next step to give our own version a go.
Super easy and super tasty!
1 cup white vinegar
1 cup rice malt syrup
1 tsp minced garlic
approx 50g very hot red chillies
If you would like a less hot sauce, then use a larger variety chilli or remove the seeds before processing.
Finely chop chillies.
Then place all ingredients into a heavy based saucepan and bring to the boil.
Turn down to a gentle simmer and allow to simmer uncovered, stirring occasionally for about an hour, or until the mixture has reduced by about half. Mixture will thicken furterh on cooling.
Pour into sterilized glass bottles and seal.
To do this in a Thermal Cooker, blitz chillies on Speed 6 for 6 seconds. Then add remaining ingredients and set on Speed 1, Steam/Varoma temp for a couple of minutes, until it reaches a boil. Remove the measuring cap and set on Speed 1, 80C for about 45-50 minutes or until mixture as reduced by half.
What I’m not so happy about is the quantity of additives and preservatives in the jars of salsa type sauces to use in these dishes. So I’ve had a go at making my own based on the back of a jar we’d had … and it was a winner! This makes quite a big batch so we will be using this from now on instead of the store-bought variety.
800g tin crushed tomatoes
3 tbsp tomato paste
1 medium capsicum (colour of your choice)
1/2 brown onion
2 tsp minced garlic
2 tbsp lime juice
2 tbsp olive oil
1 tsp minced chilli
1 tsp ground coriander
1 tsp ground cumin
1/2 tsp pink salt flakes
1 tsp coconut sugar/maple syrup
Simply place all ingredients into your food processor and pulse until you reach the consistency you enjoy.
Fewer times for a chunky salsa to dip your chips in, and more times for a smoother salsa to go inside your burritos, enchiladas, Salsa Chicken etc.
Makes quite a large batch – the equivalent of 3 large store bought jars.
Sweetened Condensed milk is so useful in baking – but when you can’t have dairy it rules it out.
The fats in dairy milk and coconut milk make them really good for reducing into condensed milk – but we’re not huge fans of coconut, so I have tried to condense oat milk and rice milk before but without huge success.
More recently I had a go at almond milk. I was a bit hesitant at first but it seemed to be taking forever but I was patient (well … probably just stubborn!) and it worked – and worked beautifully!!! And even better, this one is free of refined sugar – Yay!
It isn’t super sweet (on purpose) but if you prefer a much sweeter version increase the syrup to 150g.
500ml unsweetened almond milk
100g rice malt syrup
Place both ingredients into a saucepan and bring to the boil, turn down to a gentle simmer and allow to reduce by half, stirring regularly. Takes close to 2 hours.
In a Thermal Cooker, bring to the boil by using ST temp, on speed 1 for about 6 minutes, then, remove the measuring cup to all the steam to escape, turn the temperature down to 90C and leave on speed 1 for an hour. Check on it after an hour and set for another half an hour, then 5-10 minutes at a time after that, until the liquid has reduced by about half. Will take close to 2 hours
So simple! 500ml of milk gives about 240ml of condensed milk (equivalent of 1 tin). Store in the fridge for a few days.
If you allow the liquid to reduce even further (about another 20 or 30 minutes) you will get an amazing, thick, creamy dulce de leche that you can use as a caramel in baking, a dip for fruit …. or just eat with a spoon!! I’ve added some Himalayan salt to mine at the beginning of cooking to give a salted caramel. Mmmmm!!