roasted pepper dip

We are at an important junction in our life… we have decided to leave the busy city in favor of a peaceful island. While the pros and cons are a matter of huge discussions, I can tell you some things that are true no matter which way you look at them.

The direct connection with nature is the most calming and fulfilling aspect of island life and really balances your mind. For example rain is no longer viewed as something that will create traffic, ruin your designer shoes or make life on your scooter hell, but rather a godsend gift that will water the plants and vegetables you are growing, soften the soil and fill the water tank. Not to mention the amazing smell that fills the air after a storm. Another aspect is that you are a part of your food’s long jurney way before it gets to the shop. The hard work it takes to grow vegetables without any chemicals or machines. Makes you think what do they really put into the ones they sell so cheap…….?

Our neighbour grows a lot of produce and the other day he brought us a basket filled with the most cute and colorful bell peppers… normal, natural sized, not the melon sized things they try to pass for peppers at some shops. I wanted to use all of the basket before they went bad but there is a limit to how many peppers you can eat raw in a salad, so I made this dip and I guarantee you can eat it all easily and wonder how a kilo of peppers went into you so effortlessly.

– mel

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banana & chocolate loaf – gluten free

Please bear with us as we are experiencing some technical difficulties.

The transition of slowly moving the blog over to the gluten-free side of life is coming with some minor hiccups (a.k.a. failed recipes… not this one though).

Oh yea, and here’s the official announcement: (Aside from designed work), http://www.whateversleft.org is transitioning slowly, slowly to becoming a gluten-free happy place.

I should probably tell Mel this too actually. Hmm, maybe I should have told him first. He’s been wonderfully supportive of this new life style change though so I’m certain he’ll be on-board.

As of yet, I’m still kind of stumbling in the dark & desperately trying to find my footing. All considered though, I’m doing pretty well.

Here are some more key points I’ve learnt:
1. always remind yourself that gluten-free will never be like regular baking. If you can keep that in mind, you’ll accept this new world gracefully. If you can’t, you’ll live in misery comparing everything to their gluten-overloaded-equivalents.
2. if you live in Greece (like me), your options are very, very limited. Get creative. You’ll notice that most of my substitutions for flour will be some form of ground nut, this is because I have one option to gluten-free flour & I don’t even know what it’s made of. Seriously.
3. if you’re somewhere like the UK//USA, you can get really creative with flour blends & adding gums to your blends to mimic normal flour. Look into: tapioca, corn, rice, quinoa flours… you might be surprised.
4. if any one wants to ship me a kilo of each of those, HELLO! I am very down with people’s sympathetic charity right now. Seriously, when I say limited… the flour turns black when water is added to it. That just aint right!
5. don’t over compensate with more egg if you’re trying to turn a regular cake recipe into a gluten-free one, it just turns out rubbery.

So, now that we’ve got that out-of-the-way, I think I should also inform you that I’ve had an uber craving for bananas & chocolate. Actually, we had this banana chocolate loaf ordered by one of our customers at work, and ever since that I couldn’t shake the feeling that I wanted it.

I did the only logical thing. I altered the recipe & made it something I could eat. What else was I going to do, deny my craving? That’s preposterous.

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grilled haloumi salad with apple and dates

“I want to eat light, so I will go for the green salad” said the thin woman sitting behind us in the restaurant. Right there I thought about the fact that what I call a salad, isn’t what most people imagine. I like lots of toppings and cheese and walnuts and…I end up eating a huge bowl of it. So, in my restaurant the salad wont be for diet, but the other way around.

– mel

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carrot cake with cream cheese icing

I don’t know if I want to share this recipe.

Like, I’m really struggling to justify spilling my secret weapon.

If I were to be challenged to a cake bake-off, this carrot, walnut & coconut cake would be hiding waiting to pop out at the last moment & steal the gold.

It’s that good.

Sometimes, I realize that by sitting & writing a blog, I’m putting all of Mel & my best kept secrets out there for the world to see. In moments like those I panic a little & think about pulling the plug on the whole operation. I think I’m a bit like my grandfather in that respect. And his mother come to think about it. Both of them at one point in their lives (or several times over if you want to go into details) were asked to give recipes to books or publications, and both of them neglected to put in at least one key ingredient. They were sneaky about it though, they left out ingredients that no one would ever think to add.

Yea, that’s right, my family did that. The thing is, their recipes are the kind that are worth being sneaky over. At some point I’m going to have to fly to New Orleans & spend a good few weeks with my grandfather in the kitchen, it’s the only way I’m ever going to get his secrets.

So, you see why I struggle with sharing sometimes? It’s not my fault I swear, it’s genetics. Genetics are to blame here & only genetics.

Clearly though I’m living proof that you can go against the grain, of go against what’s been ingrained rather. What ever the case may be. So, I plug on, keep the site up & running, & today, today I’m sharing my own personal secret weapon.

The dirty secret behind my secret weapons is, that it’s not even mine… oh dear lord the shame. It’s all out in the open now, no going back.

This carrot cake recipe came out of the ottolenghi cookbook. I never needed to make an alteration because it was perfect as is. The only thing I change is that sometimes I like to double the batter, triple the cream & turn it into a 3 layered cake with lots of cream between layers. Other than that, I know when I’m looking at perfection. So, on that note, I would just like to say…. from the depths of my heart, thank you Mr. Ottolenghi for sharing with us perfection.

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grilled pears, radicchio & brie salad

You know those days that just seem rotten? Today is most certainly one of them. I mean I feel really, really rotten right now. Writing this post is causing me physical pain, really. The thing is, I can’t stop myself.

After a really hideous day, all I want to do it curl up & eat something exquisite. Something that combines creamy brie, sweet pear, bitter radicchio, toasted walnuts & a light vinaigrette. That’s exactly what makes me feel better right now.

Yes, I’m having a “woe is me” day completely. I left work early due to a pounding headache brought on by the illness that is descending on me. By the time I got home, all I wanted to do was eat… but who wants to cook in a messy kitchen?? So, I cleaned up. During the process of washing the dishes, I managed to shatter a wine glass whilst my hand was inside it & managed to slice my poor little finger open down to the bone. It’s not a long cut, but it’s deep. Now my finger looks like a sausage, you know, one of those little vienna ones. Poor thing.

I did have an up moment though. I had my driving lesson later on & found an error on the digital test. The first time I got the question wrong, I put it down to misreading the question. The second time, I carefully read my choices & chose the only logical answer since the other two were clearly wrong…. based again on the wording. When I failed it the second time my instructor began to show me an engine & how it works, of course I threw a temper tantrum & insisted that I hadn’t gotten it wrong because I was stupid, but rather because the test was inaccurate. Together we each reset the test over & over again until we came to the right question. You want to know something? I was right, there was an error in the test!

Oh, how I love my little wins.

My day got better though. Talking about this salad, this mouth-watering grilled pear, radicchio & brie salad just makes me melt. What is it about grilled brie with fruit? Moments like this make me love Mel a little more. I swear, the way to my heart is clearly through my stomach. So here it is, the symphony preformed for my taste-buds. If you enjoy it even half as much as I did, I know that you’ll love it.

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