Tuesday, September 28, 2010


I don't really know why I've been putting up desert-ish substitutes on the blog. I mean really, when it comes down to it, I have no idea how to make a sugar-free something that tastes good. Who wants to know about a muffin with nothing in it? I am however, quite liking this xylitol product so when I have a good thing going I'll be sure to post.

Mains is really where it's at when you are everything free. There is still a lot of enjoyment to be had very easily in this department, and as I haven't been baking it's really where I've put my food energy. It kind of hit me the other night as I was serving Jacob dinner and I looked at the plate and thought "I should take a snap" and then "maybe I should blog this one". So here it is, our dinner from Monday night.

* * * * * *

It must have been the sound of the oom-pah music from the German Club farting it's way across the park. They're having Oktoberfest celebrations last weekend and this coming one, and from our veranda we are treated to drunken revelers in leiderhosen singing Ein Prosit on the hour. You can pretty much set your clock by it if you're so inclined. I haven't ventured over this year. Oketerfest isn't as fun as you think it is, if you are not drinking. Never-the-less, I've spent a lot more time thinking about bratwurst, sauerkraut and ham hocks then I usually do. And to my great surprise, on Monday night I made something schnitzel related which I have never done before or really even wanted to do before. So. Here's my brainwashed dinner - Macadamia and Sage Crusted Chicken Breast with Two Salads (neither sauerkraut thank goodness).

Salad 1 - Quinoa and beet leaves with roast capsicum

Brush the capsicum with oil to cover (I just rub it in with my hands) and then grill until partially black and blistered and set aside in a covered bowl to cool. I used one red and one yellow.
Dry roast the quinoa in a saucepan until you hear the first pop. Then add boiling water in similar quantities that you do for rice (2:1) maybe a little less water. When most of the water is absorbed, put your chopped beet leaves on top to let them steam for a minute or two until bright in colour. Remove the pan from heat.
Peel the blistered skins off the capsicum and remove seeds and stem. Cut into strips.

Stir it all together and add a good quantity of lemon juice and olive oil and a pinch of salt.

This salad is nice at room temperature and keeps Ok for the next day. I only used a small amount of quinoa (about 1/2 cup).

Salad 2 - Grilled zucchini with mint and goats cheese

Slice the zucchini into thin strips or even better, use a peeler to get lovely even thin strips. I did it lengthways.
Coat in olive oil and cook for a few minutes on a griddle. It gives those nice black stripes. I cooked my capsicum on one so i just used it for the zucchini. Cook till it is just tender. Sprinkle with mint, a nice goats cheese and a sprinkling of pepper.

Macadamia and sage crusted chicken.

Cut breast pieces into chunks (whatever size and shape you like to eat).

Make an egg wash by beating two eggs together.

Make the crumbs by putting a handful of macadamias, 6-8 sage leaves and some salt into a food processor. Add some rice crumbs which will help it hold together when you cook it.

Dip the chicken into the eggwash and then into the crumbs.

Cook in a pan on medium heat with a good coating of olive oil on the bottom. Using a lid for part of the cooking helps it cook through but make sure you remove it from time to time so that it stays crunchy.

Bon appetit! (wait that's French.... mmmm.... anyone help me on the German?)

Sunday, September 26, 2010

Strawberry Apple Snow

Well, with the weather warming up and all and our first couple of t-shirt days passed, I thought I would give you something cool to enjoy.

I couldn't resist the strawberries from the grower at the market the other day. 2 buckets for $12. The strawberries where juicy, bright and still warm. The taste of the sun giving them that sweetness that can't be found in a refrigerated berry. Which begs the question, what to do with 2 buckets of strawberries? Especially when I won't be making jam.

I'd seen a post from Jen over on Use Real Butter about an ice-cream she made using only bananas. You know how it is with me and bananas. So I gave it a go with strawberries and it worked quite nicely, and then I tried it with apples, which wasn't as fabulous but the addition of apple juice made it work too.

So here you have it.

Strawberry Apple Snow.

Wash and trim the strawberries and lay on a flat tray on top of a sheet of baking paper.
Put in the freeze.

Put it in the food processor - it will start to look like gravel.

Then like powder.

Then like sorbet. Perfect for eating straight away and it is so good for you you can eat it any time of the day.

If it is not doing much past the powder you may need to add a little liquid such as some apple juice.

I also did the same with some apples that needed using. I peeled them and cut them into thin slices and froze them. Then went through the same process. I found the apples needed a lot more liquid then the strawberries to make a sorbet like texture.

I put the left overs in the freeze again and they froze quite hard. No good for a luscious scoop like you saw earlier. Instead, I scraped it with a fork in a manner similar to making a granita. This is the strawberry and apple together.

And I ended up with a cooling cup of deliciousness.

I did find the apple began to discolour once the air hit it. Next time I will use some lemon juice in the mix to see if the acid helps it keep it's lovely soft creamy colour.

Next confession, I did actually try it with bananas. Twice. The first time plain and the second time with the addition of finely grated dark chocolate and peanut butter - as suggested by Jen. But as mentioned, I don't like banana's and I didn't like them any more in this form. Again, I didn't get my banana timing right. The bananas I used were a bit under-ripe and in this form the roughness in the mouth made it pretty much inedible. I also thought that continued whipping in the food processor would make it light and fluffy, but it actually went strangely tough. So, if you do try this banana recipe, I would recommend stopping as soon as it looks ice-creamy.


Friday, September 10, 2010

Here to announce the almost everything free muffin.

Well, things are looking up.

At least I think they are. If any of you have done what i have and gone from being a regular drinker of good quality coffee, to being a non-coffee drinker you may know this problem. Your standards drop. You loose your palate and while you can still tell a bad coffee you loose your instinct and the line between pretty decent and great gets blurry. You can tell this has happened because you don't mind the taste of decaf where once you spat it out.

So, I baked these (almost) everything free muffins and I don't mind them. I'd probably make a few changes next time but in all they go down pretty well with a cup of tea. In fact probably a little too well. I ate 12. But they were mini muffins, not the whole big teacup sized ones........ just pop-in-your-mouth sized ones. Still. 12. And I'm left wondering if they actually taste OK or if a month of not eating muffins has made me think they taste OK. The test will be when I hand them to friends (if there is any left).

I've discovered a happy coincidence - gluten free flour likes more liquid than regular flour. This means that replacing sugar with fruit works quite well as there is a lot of extra moisture. Which works well if you're going sugar free too, which I am. So it's working well.

Here's how it worked well today.

I made my sugar substitute by poaching up two apples and a pear in a small amount of water and then mashing it up.

I then got to work on the other ingredients.

Separate the eggs and beat the whites.

Beat the yolks and melted butter together. Add milk and fruit then stir in dry ingredients.

Fold the egg whites and raspberries through


Here are the mini-muffins

And I made a loaf out of the rest of the mix.

I was quite pleased with the texture. It had enough moistness and wasn't too heavy - thanks to separating the eggs first. With the loaf, I sprinkled rice crumbs on top of the oil when I greased the pan. This gave a nice texture to the edge. It really could use just a little bit of sugar and I will probably do this next time or else add a natural sugar substitute such as xylitol (yes, I have some on order - just waiting for the mail to arrive). Next time I will also sprinkle some cinnamon or grated nutmeg on top.

Recipe - Apple, Pear and Raspberry muffins.

2 sweet apples
1 pear
1/2 cup raspberries
3 eggs - separated and beaten
1ooml goats milk
100gms butter
100gm almond meal
100gm buckwheat flour
50gm gluten free Easy Bake flour
pinch salt
1 tsp baking powder.
Oil for greasing pan
Rice crumbs for dusting pan

Peel and chop the fruit, then poach in a small amount of water until soft. Mash.

Separate the eggs and beat the whites to firm peaks. Then melt butter and beat butter and milk into the yolk mixture. Add the other dry ingredients and fruit (about 1 cup). When mixed well, fold the beaten egg whites through and then add 1/2 cup raspberries (or more if you like it fruity).

Spoon into your desired container (pre greased and dusted with rice crumbs) and bake at 180 C until done.

Now here's a question for you? Does the absence of sugar and flour mean that it will not be as golden when it is done? I noticed the mini-muffins looked a little anemic although they had risen and cracked on top and acted done (didn't shrink when I took it out). They loaf was a nice golden colour on top but was in a lot longer due to being in a large container.

Also, does adding baking powder do anything to gluten free flour? (I just did it because I can't imagine baking without it). Is it the reason for the largish holes in the baked muffin or was that from the egg whites stirred through?

Also, I pretty much pulled this recipe out of my back pocket. While that is quite fun, it didn't make the perfect amount for filling up 12 muffin tins, like other muffin recipes do, so when I've got the amounts adjusted I'll let you know.

Any insights on how to improve this recipe or answers to the above question would be greatly appreciated.

Happy baking.

Friday, September 3, 2010

Something that resembles an everything-free devonshire tea.

I have found on this diet that you have to do a lot more mastication. (Sounds rude.) My jaws are getting tired. I'm longing for something that doesn't crunch or require great amounts of chewing.

Despite saying I wouldn't eat gluten free bread because it's too depressing, I found myself hovering around the gluten free bakery stall at the markets this morning. After lingering around some neat looking lemon meringue tarts, I diligently picked up a some gluten free buns. When I got them home I cut them open and took a little bite. It was quite scone-y in texture.

I'd also bought some lovely Macadamia nut butter (did you know that macadamia nuts are pretty much the only indigenous food product that gets exported from Australia? Oh, that and Roo meat. The Russians can't get enough of it.) Back to nuts. I thought about spreading it on the bread but decided the texture would be altogether too smudgy. "What I need" thought I "is some jam". And believe you me, I have lots of lovely plum jam in the cupboard that I made in summer, and some fab peach, lime and passion fruit jam made with my friend Anthony........ before I went low sugar...... Oh dear.

I did have some rhubarb stalks starting to look a bit straggly at the bottom of the fridge so I cooked them up. I thought the mac nut butter would be nice and sweet to balance the sharpness of the the rhubarb, and the zingy-ness (and wetness) of the rhubarb could deal with the too-much-smudge factor of gluten free bread and nut butter.

So. I quickly poached the rhubarb in apple juice (it only took a few minutes).

While that was going I also cooked up some goats milk chai, sieved it and put it through the milk froth-er and then made up the toast.

Rhubarb poached in apple juice on mac-butter and gluten free bread with goats milk chai.


1 bunch of rhubarb cut in chunks.

1/2 cup apple juice.

Macadamia butter (you can just put some macadamias through a food processor if you don't have any as it turns to paste very easily).

Gluten free bread.

Cook the rhubarb in the juice until soft. I think you know how to build it. I toasted the bread first.

As for the chai, well, just make sure you don't use a chai teabag. Mine was 2 tsp tea, 2 tsp sugar (I know, I know, I just can't drink chai without it), 1/2 inch chunk ginger cut in fine slices, 1 cinnamon stick, 3 pods cardamon crushed, a bit of water. Boil it all together on the stove, sieve then froth.

Now the confession. The latest cooking flop.

Listen, unless you are Heston Blumenthal, believe me when I tell you this. If you can't find a recipe for it in 10 min of internet searching, it's because it can't be done. Take for example, my attempt at a black rice tart base. Buoyed on by the success of the polenta tart bases I thought I could do something similar with glutinous black rice. I ground some up and then cooked it in some goats milk like polenta. Unlike polenta, as I cooked it, it became extremely sticky. Gluey, one might say. Never the less, I ploughed on and sure enough, when I got to the stage of pressing it into the tart tins it worked quite fine. I thought I had invented a winner! The colour was quite a fabulous deep purple and I was wondering what would look good on this as a filling. The problem was when I came to baking it. The higher sugar content (I'm presuming?) meant that it lost it's form entirely once heated and dissolved into a bubbling porridgey glug at the bottom of the tart tin. When cooled this became sticky and chewy. I quite liked it in a weird food experiment kind of way, but seriously, there was no way this was going to hold a filling, and in the end, after a few optimistic chews, they went in the bin. Dang. But maybe I could somehow use this mixture to create something with a tuile effect..............hmmm........

Thursday, September 2, 2010

Snack Time

A good thing about this whole everything free diet is that you are encouraged to eat very regularly. I'm a bit of a grazer so getting snacks right has taken up more of my brain power then you care to know.

The perfect snack is of course hummus (homous, hommous, whatever). High protein, yadi yada. I've been turning out some great hummus lately. The organic tahini is lovely and smooth and mixed through well (no oily or dry bits). Lots of zizzing in the processor has made the hummous light and creamy with just a little grainy bite in it. Perfect. I followed the advice of a Lebanese friend and did a BIG batch of chickpeas in the pressure cooker then froze them in batches. Easy Peasy ready to go for soups and dips.

But, the other one I've been doing is making my own dukkah (is that how you spell it). Alas, I am, as you will discover, very bad at following recipes. As I result, I could teach you a lot of lessons about what not to do in the kitchen. I've learnt the hard way. I like to think that learning the hard way teaches you about why things do what they do, but I think reading a good recipe book would do more for that. So the following is my recipe which is nothing at all like the recipe I followed but I did record what I did quite well so if it turned out OK I could do it again.

I'd already lightly roasted some macadamias (yes, I've already wandered far from any recipe).

Zizz them - but not for too long as it will turn to paste.

Toast some coriander seeds
(and you should do your cumin seeds here too, but I already had some).

Grind 'em up.

Mix with lightly toasted sesame seeds, smoked paprika and salt.
Ready to go.

I like it stirred into yoghurt for a different dip. And apparently it's good on hard boiled eggs.


150gm lightly toasted Macadamia nuts
100gm lightly toasted sesame seeds
15gm roasted cumin seeds
15gm roasted coriander seeds
10gm smoked paprika
salt to taste.

Put the macadamias in the food processor till it looks like gravel. Grind the cumin and coriander to a fine powder. Add the rest of the ingredients together and salt to taste.

You can pretty much do everything to taste as it's easy to just add a bit of this or that and keep tasting.

For the yoghurt dip I add about 1tbsp of mix to a 1/3 cup of yoghurt and stir through. Sprinkle some on top if you want pretties.

And for Kami who requested the recipe for delicious rhubarb muffins with sugar AND gluten, they go like this.

150g self raising flour
pinch of salt
100gm caster sugar
1tsp vanilla extract
125ml milk
3tbsp melted butter
1 egg.
3 stalks rhubarb chopped into small chunks
4tbsp caster sugar
1/2tsp cinnamon

Mix, flour, salt and sugar together. Add vanilla, milk, butter and egg and beat until smooth. Mix fruit through. Spoon into muffin trays.
Mix extra sugar and cinnamon together and sprinkle on top of the muffins. Bake at 180 (350F) until risen and turning golden. Let cool slightly before turning onto a wrack.


Friday, August 27, 2010

The Tart. Polenta Crust with Beetroot and Pumpkin, or Leek with Speck and Mushrroms.

So. Thanks to those of you who have joined me.

And I must confess that my first attempt to "bake" everything-free was a complete disaster. I had this great idea that I could make a steamed custard with polenta in it. Then I thought I would drop some rhubarb in it to give it ....... something..... and then I got worried about the acidity of the rhubarb, so I pureed some bananas to add as a sweetner. It was all kinds of wrong. One of the wrongs was that I used banana. I hate banana. If you don't understand that, just think about the smell of a banana, in a plastic bag, in a car, in the sun. Breathe in....... mmmm....... Whilst I don't have the finest palate in the world, I can detect that taste the moment the first brown spot arrives on a banana. If you eat it much before then however, you often end up with the really rough mouth feel. It leaves you about an 8 hr window in which to enjoy a banana and I always seem to miss it. I certainly missed it with the bananas used in my steamed custard. They were quite spotty.
The second thing that went wrong was that at the last minute I decided to bake it instead of steam it. Which would have been fine but instead of pouring it into a big flan dish I decided to make individuals portions in the muffin tray. What so wrong with that? Probably nothing, except I used my regular muffin tin instead of the nonstick one. I sprayed it well before hand so they came out fine. But I didn't count on the acid of the rhubarb reacting with the baking tray and leaving a blue/greyish rust mark with a metallic flavour around it.My husband and I bravely ate one of these wonders and then they did what all cooking flops do, got put into a container until stinky, then thrown into the compost.

I'm sticking with savouries for a while. Yesterday was much more successful with the polenta tarts. I used this recipe for the crust and made up my own fillings.

You start by boiling the polenta with chicken stock and herbs from the garden.

Parsley, Sage, Rosemary and Thyme (I omitted the parsley)

I added some goats milk and a bit of butter too, then you let it cool before pressing into tart tins. The tip for using glad wrap over the top was a winner - no messy fingers.


These were then cooled and baked for around 40 min before putting the filling in. When boiling the polenta it seemed too thick and 1 added too much extra liquid. This was a mistake and meant that they took a longer to blind bake then they should have.

Once they were a baked I filled them and put them back in the oven. If you have an oven with different settings (as I do in my brand new kitchen) I recommend the strong heat from below to give a nice bite to the bottom of the crust. Mine would have been too wet otherwise.

Here's the leek and speck one. I whisked up an egg, stirred the finely sliced leek and speck through and put it in the shell, added some sliced mushrooms, some hard goats cheese and a drizzle of olive oil.

It's not really burnt, it's the mushrooms!

Here's the roast beetroot and pumpkin one. I par-boiled the beets first to soften them before baking. I topped it with yoghurt mixed with finely chopped garlic and some left over oil from marinated goats cheese, and, a sprig of thyme.

I preferred the beet and pumpkin actually, the sharpness of the yoghurt completed the sweetness of the vegetables and held it together well.

But, I think I have a bit to learn about taking pictures of food. I was in too much of a rush to eat it so it was a quick snap before settling down for dinner.

Recipe. (Thanks to appogiatura)

Polenta Crust

1 cup polenta

1/2 cup chicken stock

2 1/2 cup water


1 tsp finely chopped herbs

pepper flakes (I didn't use these).

Start by cooking the polenta. Bring the liquid to a boil and add stock. Pour polenta in stirring all the while and then cook for an hour on the stove top. You have to stir a lot. It should be soft and quite sticky when done (not gritty). Let it cool until you can handle it. Put a blob in the bottom of your tart tin (previously sprayed with oil) and let sit for a moment so it has a little bit of a skin. Put the glad wrap on it and press it into shape with your hands, then put in the fridge until ready to bake.

Bake until crust is crispy and golden. (She bakes 425 degrees for 25 min) . Add filling and bake again. Wha-la!

Thursday, August 26, 2010

To begin at the beginning.

The dreaded words that you knew were coming but hoped you could avoid, fall from you health professionals lips. Gluten-free. I always stated I would cry if I had to go gluten free and my preemptive moaning has brought on a worse curse. Gluten-free and dairy free and sugar free.

Kill me now.

What will I eat? More to the point, what will I bake?

Preliminary internet searches confirmed my worst fears. Sprouting granola ??? (I kid you not) No, I do not wish to eat nuts that have been boiled for an hour and what the hell is agave nectar and xylitol?

I have decided instead, to search out recipes from regular foodie blogs and just use the ones which avoid most of the things I need to avoid, or ones where easy substitutes can be found.

It's not actually that bad. Firstly, I'm doing this by choice. (We're trying to be healthy to coax my eggs-of-doom into making a baby that can live). Secondly, I'm sure lots of people do this already and they probably have taste buds too and also like to cook. Thirdly, I'm giving my self a time-frame. There's a light at the end of this tunnel baby. Who knows, I too, will probably turn into a righteous fun-free food freak before you can say amaranth porridge.


The rules.

Dairy (mostly)

Organic everything
Goats milk and cheeses
Butter (a bit)
Natural yoghurt (cows milk)
Cold pressed oils
Fruit (3 pieces a day)
Veges (Infinite)
All those gluten free grains and flours I've yet to discover.


I tried not to show my disappointment. And the naturopath kept apologising each time she took away another of my favourite foods. I bit my bottom lip so it wouldn't tremble. I was so ashamed at how upset I was at giving up these foods. A part of my brain was lecturing me about foolish luxuries and gratitude that I can make food choices, but my heart was desperately sad. I love to cook. I particularly love to cook with butter, flour and sugar. My rhubarb muffins, baked for the first time this winter, had been a raving success at both my and my husbands place of work. There'd been requests, duplicate batches dispensed. The softness of the muffin. The perfect balance of sweet and tart and the crust on top of sugar and cinnamon.......In summer it was the blood plums poached in red wine and spices and then sunk into an almond frangipane held in a perfectly thin crisp pastry case...... Friends treasured these and with acts of incredible will power only let themselves eat them one at a time, so, like Charlie with his chocolate, they could spread the love out over the week.

And as sad as I am to be giving up eating these things, I'm equally sad to be giving up baking them. You see, baking and love go hand in hand. A dimpled pie of rabbit and fennel wrapped in layers of buttery filo speaks love in a way quinoa salad simply can't. And I just can't cook these things without eating them - you can taste the bitterness of my torture. It just wouldn't be right at all.

So this is my attempt to find new ways of spreading food love within the parameters set for me by those who know a lot more about nutrition and ovaries and babies then I ever will.


Walk with me as I embark on this food journey. I'm in the process of an early attempt at a tart case. I'll share this with you when they have been baked, filled and et.