Friday 9 December 2011


Hello, I've waited here for you,

For a long time we've been wanting to take our boy to see a band. A real rocking band.

Music was his obsession when he was small. He lived and breathed it. When he was two he could listen to a piece of music and tell the difference between a trumpet, saxophone and trombone or between a cymbal, triangle and tambourine. He watched Rage almost religiously and played his drums day and night. We took him to see friends play when he was much smaller, but as he got older it became more difficult. He couldn't sit still at all, he actually hated being confined to a room with groups of people and couldn't bear the noise. He would end up having what I would describe as a panic attack. He would freak out and beg to leave or cry or have a tantrum. He so desperately wanted the music, but couldn't stand being there. The occasions when we went to a gig and he stayed with grandparents, we wouldn't tell him where we were going as he would be devastated to not be able to go. We just couldn't pay whatever it cost us and have to leave before it even started.

Skip forward a few years.

He is six now, nearly seven. He can no longer do the trick of picking instruments in music and his drums are dusty, his head is now full of so many other things from school or books or games or sports. But he still has some musical passions. One of them is the Foo Fighters.

He discovered them all on his own watching Rage around about the time he turned four. He was in awe. He loved the song Everlong and would watch and listen to it over and over again. His most prized possession for quite a while was a little scrap of paper that he got his Dad to write all the band members names on and what instruments they played. He carried that bit of paper with him everywhere for months. At preschool he would 'play' Foo Fighters, which entailed him getting the other kids to act out the Everlong film clip with him. We took him to see Back and Forth, the band documentary and he has most of the albums.

It has taken us a really long time to discover his food intolerances and all the ways things affect him and we finally have him at a point where we thought he could deal with a gig. Thanks to his limited diet and a lot of fricking hard work, he is far less likely to panic and look for an out in crowds and his noise tolerance is way better.

We bought tickets for the three of us to see the Foo Fighters. The gig was last night at the Sydney Football Stadium with 47,000 people. Just a bit of a crowd.

47000 people

We bought ear plugs for him to help with the noise, we prepped him for a while on what to expect and let him know that although he hates it, people will cheer and scream and clap and sing along. He said he would do none of those things. He doesn't clap for anything. He is painfully self conscious and a quite shy.

So last night we saw four bands completely rock out a stadium and our boy loved it. He REALLY loved it. When he saw his favourite band ever he stood on his seat and sang and cheered and clapped and reveled in the whole experience. He got tired, but didn't whinge, just sat down for a few minutes and then started again.

Rock and Roll!

I am so grateful for discovering what was causing his problems and that because of that we got to have an amazing night out with our boy doing the things we love. Instead of being freaked by the crowd, he was liberated by it. He could dance and sing and hoot without fear that someone was watching him or that he stood out. No one was, they were all watching the band and everyone was getting into it.

Yes, his 'diet' is hard work and sometimes we throw our hands up in the air and despair and wonder why we do it all. Last night was the reason I do it all. That smile makes everything worth it.

One very happy boy ready to come home.

Friday 2 December 2011

It's Another Party!

We recently came home from a holiday and got caught up in a lot of stuff that was happening, then suddenly realised that it was less than two weeks until our daughter's third birthday. Talk about a massive rush job party! Her party was on a much smaller scale than her older brother's was, partly because she is only three and partly because she doesn't have anywhere near as many friends as he did at that age.

Being three, she loves Charlie and Lola, so after a bit of messing around we settled on that as our theme, which is actually quite easy as it is all a mish-mash of colours and patterns. If we had planned it in advance we could have found a whole bunch of merchandise online for parties, but most of it would had to have come from overseas and there just wasn't enough time. So after a bit of searching online I came up with a colour theme and bought some of the items.

The food was a little different this time around. My daughter is not really failsafe, but almost becomes so by default since most of the food in our house is failsafe. Nor is she gluten or dairy free, but I wasn't going to make different food for everyone, and if we go to a party elsewhere my son has to eat different to every one else, so I figure that at home he should be able to have the same as everyone else. We also had a friend with an egg allergy, so I needed to make sure the majority of the food was egg free.

On the menu was fairy bread - too easy - I asked my friend to bring it as she wanted to help out. Bakers delight bread with nuttelex and some natural sprinkles. She also made some sandwiches. I pulled a couple of slices of gluten free bread out of the freezer for my son so he had some fairy bread and jam sandwiches.

There were also some doughnuts made with "egg replacer" instead of egg. I had plans of icing them, but ran out of time so just tossed them in caster sugar.

I made biscuits on sticks (these contained egg) and using the same dough I made some jam fancies. They were made by rolling the dough out thinner, using a scalloped round cutter to cut rounds, and then using a smaller round cutter to cut holes in half of them. Bake them and then spread jam on the ones without holes, and then top with the holey ones.

A large selection of biscuits, because biscuits are Lola's favourite and best.

I opened a packet of Orgran shortbread hearts and dusted them with a bit of icing sugar.

Using the same dough as my melting moments I made checker board cookies and honey comb biscuits. The honey comb ones just have smashed up failsafe honey comb mixed through the dough. I rolled it into a log and put into the freezer until firm, then sliced and baked it. For the checker board cookies I divided the dough in half and mixed a tablespoon of carob into a portion of the dough. Roll both portions to approximately 5mm thick and roughly rectangular (or press/roll it into a slice tin to get the shape). Cut it into thirds lengthways and stack on top of each other in alternating colours. Put back into the freezer until firm again. Slice lengthways about 5mm thick and stack again in alternating colours. Freeze again, then slice crossways and bake (this sounds a bit more fiddly than it really is).

To nibble on, we also had failsafe chips, some homemade lollipops, white musk sticks and marshmallows. 

The hot food was meatballs and chicken fingers. I used egg replacer and psyllium to make sure my meatballs stuck together and added less vegetables that I usually would. I used a cornflour slurry (with a bit of egg replacer mixed in for "insurance" - I had no time for stuff ups) to stick the crumbs to the chicken and added crushed garlic to it for flavour.

The cake was also a last minute decision and kids always love cupcakes and there is far less chance of them failing than with a big cake. I searched around for a recipe that I liked and that would adapt quite easily. I found one that I liked the idea of, but it needed a little bit of adapting. The cakes worked well without egg or dairy, but I had recently been experimenting with flour blending and the resulting flavour was not the best. I'm not sure quinoa flour is right for a mildly flavoured cake, it just overpowered it. So just stick to the flour that is suggested in the original or use a pre-blended pack like Orgran. The other thing that I found is that the sprinkles didn't really make much difference in the cake. I'm sure the bigger artificial ones would work better, but they are completely out of the question from a failsafe perspective.

Confetti Cupcakes
(I doubled this so that there would be plenty)

  • 2 eggs (lightly beaten) or equivilent egg replacer
  • 1/3 cup rice milk
  • 1/2 tsp vanilla essence
  • 100mls canola oil (or other FS oil)
  • 1 1/4 cups flour (if your blend doesn't contain it - add 1/4 tsp xanthan gum)
  • 3/4 cup sugar
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 1 1/2 tsp baking powder
  • 1 Tbsp natural sprinkles (optional)
  • 3 Tbsp nuttelex
  • 1/4 tsp vanilla essence
  • 1 1/4 cups icing sugar 
  • 1 Tbsp rice milk (optional)
  • cochineal (to desired colour)
  • Dollar Sweets Butterflies (Be aware the label says "contains ingredients derived from wheat", although I can't figure out what it could be)
  1. Preheat oven to 180℃ 
  2. In a large bowl mix all dry cake ingredients
  3. Make a well and add all the wet ingredients
  4. Mix until just combined (if you want to use a mixer, just make sure you don't over beat it)
  5. Spoon into patty pans and bake for 12-14 mins or until cooked and a skewer comes out clean.
  6. Cool on racks before icing
  7. Beat nuttelex and vanilla in a small bowl until soft and gradually add sifted icing sugar.
  8. Add rice milk if a softer consistency is required or more icing sugar for firmer icing (not too firm if you want to pipe it)
  9. Add cochineal drop by drop until you get the shade of pink you want
  10. Pipe or spread onto cold cupcakes and top with butterflies.
"Pink icing always tastes the best."

A very happy birthday girl

 The cake was served with pink milk, another Lola favourite.  Vanilla flavoured milk with enough cochineal to make it pink (rice milk for my boy, dairy for the others). The kids don't even notice that the pink milk isn't strawberry flavoured, it is sweet and pink and that is all that matters.

Organised fun was kept to a minimum since the birthday girl was only three and didn't really care. There was a game of pass the parcel and we set up a colouring-in table with Charlie and Lola printables and butcher's paper covering the table.

Party boxes consisted of a small amount of failsafe lollies and a large amount of pencils, crayons, mini gel pens, mini highlighters, little erasers, colouring in sheets and curly straws all purchased at a cheap shop.

Even though it was a rainy day and everyone was stuck inside (and my poor time management skills meant that I was still cooking when people walked int the door) we all had a great day.

A Special Night

Christmas is just around the corner and who can really believe that it has come around so quickly. I barely feel like I've gotten the hang of this year and now it's almost over.

Last night we put up our Christmas tree and I always like to make a nice meal to have to make the event just a bit more special. We enjoyed a family favourite Chicken with 40 cloves of garlic and for dessert I made creme caramel again adapted from a french book I have. The amazing thing about this is that, besides being incredibly easy, it doesn't taste like rice milk. I have actually made this for visitors who had no idea that it didn't contain dairy until I told them!

Creme Caramel

  • 125g caster sugar

  • 625ml rice milk (or other milk of choice)
  • 125g caster sugar
  • 1/3 vanilla pod split open(or 1/2 tsp vanilla essense)
  • 3 eggs, beaten
  • 4 egg yolks
  1. Place sugar into a heavy bottomed saucepan and heat until it dissolves and starts to turn into caramel. Swirl the pan so that it cooks evenly. Remove from heat and carefully add 2 tablespoons of water to stop it cooking. 
  2. divide between six 125ml ramekins or pour into a large ring tin and leave to cool.
  3. Preheat the oven to 180℃
  4. Put milk and vanilla pod into saucepan and bring almost to the boil.
  5. Mix together eggs and sugar in a large bowl.
  6. Strain the milk over the egg mixture and stir thoroughly.
  7. Pour into ramekins or tin and place into a roasting pan.
  8. Pour enough hot water into the pan to come halfway up the sides of the ramekins.
  9. Bake for 35-40 mins or until the top looks set and it feels firm (kind of like a set jelly)
  10. Remove from roasting tin and leave to cool for approx 15 mins
  11. Run a knife around the inside of the mould and invert onto a serving plate.

So I think the bubbles mean that I've done something bad, like whisked it too much. But I put it down to the lack of cream.

Mmmm... Custardy goodness.

Monday 28 November 2011

Just a Small Absence

Oops. Well I haven't been here in quite a while. Life has been quite manic. We were lucky enough to go on a two week holiday. A self catered road trip through Victoria which was a lot of fun and incredibly exhausting. We came home to a busy time of school fête and a mass of baking for the cake stall, followed by everyone getting sick, suddenly realising I had less than 2 weeks to plan a birthday party and a weekend away visiting friends. Blogging has definitely been on the back burner and inspiration has been kind of lacking.

But I now have a bunch of things to post including tonight's dinner.

This is a surprisingly summery dish which can be so difficult with failsafe food. It really works better in winter, so it's nice to be able to not eat roast dinner or casseroles or mashed potato in the warmer months.

San Choy Bow
Serves 4
  • 1tsp Failsafe oil
  • 500g beef mince (or chicken)
  • 3 cloves garlic 
  • 1/2 leek cut into about 6 lengthwise pieces and then sliced finely
  • 1/2 a swede, grated
  • 1/2 celery stick cut finely
  • 1/4 choko cut into small pieces
  • mung bean sprouts
  • 2 shallots sliced on an angle (including some of the green bits)
  • 1tbsp golden syrup
  • 1tbsp 'lemon' juice
  • 1tsp salt (or to taste)
  • rice vermicelli soaked and cut into bit sized pieces(I used one block from the Changs brand packs)
  • lettuce leaves for serving


  1. heat oil in a large frying pan over medium to high heat. Add leeks and garlic and stir fry until softened
  2. Add mince and stir fry, when the mince is partially cooked add the swede.
  3. When the mince looks cooked and there is very little liquid left add the celery and choko. Stir fry until softened
  4. Add golden syrup, 'lemon' and salt and stir through well.
  5. turn off heat, mix noodles through the meat.
  6. Spoon into lettuce cups, place some sprouts and shallot on top
  7. Serve and then roll up and eat.

Salicylates - Add a finely chopped or grated carrot and/or some ginger and coriander

Tuesday 4 October 2011

Too Much of a Good Thing?


My son like crêpes. He really likes crêpes. I'm could probably fill one with brussel sprouts and he'd gobble it up. Well, maybe that's going a bit too far. He likes them for breakfast the most. His favourite thing to have on them are 'lemon' juice and sugar. I find this a little boring and have made a really lovely filling that would work for breakfast or dessert and there are a few more things you could do for non-failsafe family members or guests who join you for brunch.

We had these crêpes on the weekend just gone. It was the long weekend, so theoretically we had unlimited time to spend making breakfast. Batter was made, batter was resting, filling was gently simmering on the stove, I started to cook the crêpes and suddenly everything stopped. We had run out of gas! That has never happened before. We are not connected to town gas, but have two enormous cylinders that are solely for the cook top. They do nothing else and last forever. We have been here nearly six years and have only needed one replaced in all that time. But alas, we were out of gas.

Out comes the trusty old electric frypan that I haven't used in years and almost threw away recently. Thank goodness I didn't because we won't have gas until Wednesday. It took ages to cook the crêpes one at a time on that thing and the filling was finished off in the microwave.

This is the same basic crêpe recipe that I have posted previously.

Basic Crêpe Recipe

  • 250g plain gluten free flour
  • pinch of salt
  • 1tsp sugar
  • 2 eggs lightly beaten
  • 410ml (1 2/3cup) milk of choice - I used rice milk
  • 125ml (1/2cup) water
  • 1tbsp melted nuttelex
  • Failsafe oil for frying.

  1. Sift flour, sugar and salt into a bowl and make a well in the centre.
  2. Mix the eggs, milk and water together and pour slowly into the well.
  3. Whisk until everything is incorporated and you have a reasonably smooth batter.
  4. Stir in melted nuttelex. Cover and stand for at least 20mins.
  5. Heat a crêpe pan or medium sized non-stick frying pan over a medium heat. Wipe or spray with a little oil. 
  6. Pour in enough batter to thinly coat the base of the pan (a soup ladle was pretty spot on for my pan), tipping it around to get it to the edges.When the crêpe starts to lift away at the edges give it a gentle shake so it comes loose and turn and cook on the other side for a minute of two. They should be slightly golden.
Stack on a plate (you could put baking paper between them to make sure they don't stick, although mine didn't stick together) and cover with foil until they are all done. They can be frozen with paper between them.

I had previously made this filling on Fathers Day, just so there was something else that my boy could eat, and it was just so good. The smell alone is drool worthy.

Vanilla Pears

  • 3 ripe pears, peeled, cored and chopped into smallish pieces (roughly 1cm cubes) or use tinned pears in syrup.
  • 1 cup lightly packed brown sugar
  • 1 cup of water (or if you use tinned pears you could substitute part of this for some syrup)
  • 3cm piece of vanilla bean, split lengthwise.
  1. Put sugar, water and vanilla into a saucepan over medium heat
  2. Stir until the sugar dissolves and mixture comes to the boil
  3. Simmer until the syrup reduces by about a quarter.
  4. Add pears and simmer until they are soft.
  5. Spoon into crêpes and fold over.
Sweet and caramely and fragrant with vanilla

Have 'lemon' juice and sugar or just pure maple syrup or golden syrup.
Salicylates - Add a small piece of cinnamon stick to the pot. Or fill with fresh strawberries and maple syrup.
Dairy - Serve with big dollops of whipped cream or ice cream
Amines - Place some broken up good quality dark chocolate on half of the crêpe while it is still in the pan. When the chocolate starts to melt fold crêpe into quarters and serve. I have incredibly fond memories of eating crêpes au chocolat noir while wandering around Paris at midnight.

If you are having visitors you could put all the different fillings into bowls on the table and let everyone help themselves.

crêpe au chocolat noir

Strawberries, maple syrup and whipped cream

Saturday 1 October 2011

Ooh la la!

Or in english "I say, that is a lot of garlic!"

This is another french dish which I absolutely love and my son loves it too. There is so much garlic, but after being roasted it is all soft and sweet and just delicious. You can serve it with your favourite bread or with mash and veg to make a big meal out it. My son is currently challenging gluten, so I made an unbelievably good spelt baguette to go with it which I will post soon. It is a really simple meal to make and great for when you are having guests because you can just put it in the oven and not do anything else until it it is done.

Once again this recipe is adapted from a french cook book that I own.

Chicken with 40 Cloves of Garlic


  • 1 chicken, skinned, approx 1.6kg (if you want to serve 4 people)
  • 2 celery stalks, including leaves
  • 40 cloves of garlic, unpeeled (take off the thin papery skins, but leave on the inner thick one)
  • 2 tbsp oil
  • 1 large leek, cut into about 4 chunks
  • 1 1/2 cups of home made chicken stock (or water, but if you use water add another chunk of leek and celery)
  • 4 springs parsley
  1. Preheat your oven to 200℃
  2. Put a chopped celery stalk, sprig of parsley and 6 garlic cloves into the chicken cavity. Tie the legs together. Brush with oil and season with salt.
  3. Put 10 cloves of garlic in the bottom of a casserole dish, along with the rest of the parsley, a chopped celery stick and the leek.
  4. Put the chicken in the dish. Add the remaining garlic around the chicken and pour over the stock (or water) and what is left of the oil.
  5. Cover and bake for 1hour and 20 minutes or until the chicken is cooked and the juices run clear.
  6. Lift out the chicken and strain the liquid into a saucepan. Reserve all the garlic.
  7. Boil the liquid for a few minutes to reduce it slightly
  8. Cut the chicken into serving portions (good kitchen scissors make this job easy), pour over the juices and scatter with garlic. Serve with bread or veg (the garlic is particularly good spread over bread).

Amines - leave the skin on the chicken.
Salicylates - Add 4 sprigs of thyme, 2 of rosemary and a roughly chopped carrot to the pot.
You could also use chicken pieces instead of a whole chicken (for example if you only like breast or if you can't be bothered to cut up a whole one). Cooking time will come down to 45mins - 1hour depending on the size of the pieces.

The best things in life are free...

... Free of gluten, free of dairy and free of all those nasty chemicals that make life in this house not fun.

This pie is free of all those things and it's so good that your guests won't even know it.

Without further ado I give you the gluten free, dairy free, soy free, lemon free-

Lemon Meringue Pie!

This is an amalgamation of several recipes that I adapted and put together for this.
The pastry is the same that I used for the pear tart. I will put it here again, though, to save you having to go look for it. 

Sweet pastry

  • 340g gluten free plain flour
  • a small pinch of salt
  • 150g nuttelex
  • 90g icing sugar
  • 2 eggs beaten
  1. Preheat oven to 180℃
  2. Sift flour, salt and sugar into the bowl of a food processor add the nuttelex and pulse until the nuttelex is incorporated and you have something resembling bread crumbs.
  3. Add the eggs with the motor running and process until a dough starts to form.
  4. Tip out onto some cling wrap, knead into a ball, wrap and put in the fridge for at least an hour.
  5. Roll the pastry between sheets of baking paper and line a 23cm loose based tart tin, trimming the edges.
  6. Line with baking paper and fill with baking weights or dried beans or rice.
  7. Bake for 10 minutes, then remove beads and paper and bake for a further 4 minutes or until the pastry is just cooked, but still pale.

The Filling
This makes a thin layer of lemon filling, approximately 1cm deep. If you like more it is fairly simple to increase the quantity by thirds.

  • 3/4 cup caster sugar
  • 1/2 cup cornflour (cornstarch)
  • 1 1/2 tsp citric acid 
  • 1 1/2 cups water
  • 3 egg yolks

  1. Put sugar, flour, citric acid and water into a saucepan and stir until combined.
  2. Put saucepan over a medium heat and stir constantly until the mixture comes to the boil (it may go lumpy at first, but don't dismay, keep stirring and it will become smooth as it all cooks).
  3. Remove from heat and whisk egg yolks thoroughly into the mixture.
  4. Cover with cling wrap and chill in the fridge for 2 hours (not completely necessary, if you are short on time, but cool it a bit)

The Meringue
If you like lots and lots of meringue then by all means make more.

  • 3 egg whites at room temperature (conveniently left over from the filling)
  • 3/4 cup caster sugar
  1. Place egg whites in the bowl of a mixer and beat on a medium speed until firmish peaks form, but not till it's dry.
  2. Add caster sugar bit by bit while still beating until it is all dissolved and you have a thick, glossy meringue mixture.

Now put it all together
  1. Spread the lemon filling evenly over the base.
  2. Top with meringue so that it joins the pastry all the way around and it mounds up in the middle.
  3. Bake for approx 10 minutes or until the meringue is golden.
I think I have the worlds most poorly lit dining room.


 If you want mini pies, use little tart tins. Unless you are making loads of them you will probably only need a third of the filling mixture. Excess pastry can be frozen and used at a later date. Just remove from the freezer and that at room temperature before trying to roll.

Monday 19 September 2011

You Don't Make Friends With Salad

A tasty salad that you can make friends with.

...although I somehow seem to be able to. At least I used to when liberal spices and herbs were used, not to mention generous amounts of flavoursome fruit and vegetables, cheeses, croutons, cous cous and balsamic vinegar... Those were the days. Now, well, there is only so much cabbage a person can eat.

Once again this recipe was not devised by me, nor did I discover it. Way back at easter, my best friends family and mine were having our now-traditional autumn feast. On good Friday we got together at our place. I provided roast beef and vegetables and a divine pumpkin pie (I might post the recipe one day for salicylates challengers) and she provided the salad. The salad is also not devised by her, but she did google it and adapt it just for us.

The original recipe is a glorious ode to autumn and amazingly close to being failsafe. A few tweaks and you have a really tasty and quite healthy salad.

Quinoa Salad
  • 1 cup of quinoa rinsed very thoroughly (essential to lose bitterness)
  • 2 peeled and chopped pears 
  • a 400g tin of chick peas drained, rinsed and (if you can be bothered) peeled*
  • 1 tbsp chopped parsley

  • 4 tbsp failsafe oil
  • 3/4 tsp citric acid dissolved in 3 tbsp water
  • 2 tbsp pure maple syrup
  • salt to taste (it's not a really savoury salad, it just needs a little as a flavour kick)

  1. Put rinsed quinoa in a saucepan with 2 cups of water. Cover and bring to the boil. Gently simmer for approximately 20 mins or until all the water is absorbed and the quinoa is tender. Chuck it into a large salad bowl.
  2. Mix all dressing ingredients together with either a whisk or shaken together in a jar. Pour half of it on the warm quinoa and mix it all through. Leave to cool to room temperature.
  3. Throw pears chickpeas and parsley into the bowl and toss with remaining dressing.

And that is it. Easiest, tastiest, protein packed salad ever.

The original contained pecans so you could use some raw cashews.
Salicylates - Add a few handfuls of baby spinach leaves.

With the spinach

*The easiest way to peel chickpeas is to place them into a bowl of water and gently rub them between your fingers. The skins will fall away quite easily and if you leave it to sit in the bowl the skins will mostly float above the chickpeas and can be removed.

Sunday 18 September 2011

Just a Moment

Just a melting moment. Just a gluten free, dairy free, egg free, nut free melting moment. They are not healthy though. I once made the mistake of thinking that food that was free of all these things must be healthy. It's not. It's sugary and 'buttery' and oh so tasty.

The first time I made these free of everything I was unsure if they would work or how they would taste. But they are good, I mean really good. I eat gluten most of the time and these still taste good to me. Even in the gluten version you have to add cornflour to make them nice and short, so gluten free does that really well.

Just so you know, I am not really a developer of new recipes, especially when it comes to baking. I don't have the time to make something five times to get it just right and I don't have the money to waste on ingredients. I find recipes that look like they will be easily converted and go from there. I found the original recipe for these a few years ago and made them as special treats and afternoon teas. My son always loved them and he still loves them with all the substitutions. It works quite nicely with straight gram for gram substitutions which takes the effort out of it.

Melting Moments
  • 250g nuttelex
  • 55g (1/3 cup) icing sugar, sifted
  • 1/2 tsp vanilla essence
  • 310g gluten free plain flour, sifted
  • 60g nuttelex
  • 1/2 tsp vanilla essence
  • 110g (2/3 cup) icing sugar, sifted
  1. Preheat oven to 160°C. Line a baking tray with baking paper.
  2. Cream nuttelex, icing sugar and vanilla essence in a medium bowl with electric beaters. Add flour and mix with the beaters on the lowest possible speed until just combined and a soft dough forms. Lightly flour hands then roll the mixture into small balls. Place on the prepared baking tray with a little space around them. Use a fork to flatten each ball to about 3cm in diameter and 1 cm thick. Bake in preheated oven for 15 minutes or until cooked through. They should be just turning golden around the bottom edge. Cool on baking tray. Repeat with the remaining mixture.
  3. To make the filling, beat the nuttelex and vanilla essence until soft. Add the icing sugar and beat until combined. Refrigerate until required.
  4. To assemble biscuits, spread the base of a biscuit with filling and then join with another biscuit. Repeat with remaining biscuits and filling. Store in an airtight container for up to 5 days.

If you can have gluten and dairy check out the original recipe. I always halve the amount of vanilla in a recipe to reduce the salicylates and leave out pesky things like orange zest. You really can't go too far wrong with recipes as simple as these.

Another variant on this is to sprinkle them with some caster sugar before baking and leave the unfilled for lovely little short breads. Or you could add a tablespoon of carob powder to either the dough or the filling for something different.

I hope you enjoy these tea time treats.

Tuesday 13 September 2011

Things go Wrong

Two weeks ago we were hit by that really enjoyable strain of flu that is going around. When I say we I really mean my son and to a lesser extent myself. My other half had the fortune of being interstate for work and was spared having to look after one sickie and one very active almost 3 year old while feeling close to death. Cooking was minimal. Dinner consisted of what I could find in the freezer that required little effort or my sons favourite "breakfast dinner".

Friday was different in that I needed to do some baking for a cake stall that was being run at school while there was an election taking place. I usually try to make a heap of stuff, but it wasn't going to happen, so I made an amazing white chocolate mud cake, some melting moments (half of which went in the bin burnt) and some biscuits on sticks. Then Sunday was Fathers Day and we had an amazing failsafe afternoon tea with my parents. I baked, my mum baked and I took tonnes of pretty photos of the food in the gorgeous afternoon sunshine. Then I was about to blog about all these lovely sweet cakes when I discovered that all the afternoon tea photos had disappeared from the camera. Fifty photos completely gone. All I have left is some photos of the biscuits from the day before. So now I blog biscuits.

My son has dubbed these "iced biscuits" for fairly obvious reasons. I had found a recipe which looked really good and tried it out only to find that the resulting dough is completely unworkable. I thought it may have been a gluten free thing, but my friend made them with normal flour and had the same problem - dough that you couldn't roll nor cut. I kept adding flour until it seemed right and this time I actually measured how much extra was needed to get the right consistency.  There is a fair chance that both you and the kids will really like these, so I wouldn't bother to make anything less than a double batch of these.

Iced Biscuits

  • 100g nuttelex
  • 1/2 cup caster sugar
  • 1 egg, lightly beaten
  • 1/4 tsp vanilla (optional; the original recipe calls for lemon zest, so add a little citric acid instead if you like)
  • 1 1/2 cups Gluten free plain flour
  • natural sprinkles (optional)
  • bamboo skewers (soaked for half an hour and with the sharp end cut off if you prefer)
Royal Icing
  • 1 egg white, lightly whisked
  • 1 1/2 cups pure icing sugar, sifted
  1. Cream nuttelex and sugar together. Add egg and Vanilla (or citric acid). Beat to combine. Sift flour over mixture. Stir to combine (or if you have a stand mixer use a slow speed until dough comes together) Place dough onto plastic wrap. Knead gently. Shape into a disc. Wrap in plastic wrap and chill in fridge for 30 minutes or until firm.
  2. Preheat oven to 180°C/160°C fan-forced. Line baking trays with baking paper. Roll dough out between 2 sheets of baking paper until 5mm thick (don't get carried away and roll it too thin as the biscuits will be too hard). Use whatever shaped cookie cutter you have to cut shapes form the dough. Press remaining dough together and repeat.  Place on baking trays (they don't spread very much at all, so feel free to put them close). If you are putting them on stick, carefully slide the skewer at least halfway into the dough. Bake for approx 10 mins (depending on the size of you shapes) or until golden. Stand for 3 minutes. Cool on a rack (biscuits firm up when they are cooling, so don't think they are not done because they are soft straight away).
  3. Make icing. Place egg white in a bowl. Gradually add icing sugar, whisking until smooth. Spread over cookies. Top with sprinkles. Set aside for 20 minutes or until set.

    I think my camera is dying. Hence disappearing photos and photos of dubious quality (I can blame the camera for that this time).

    My son loves these and when I first made them I had to limit how many he had because of the sprinkles. So he told me not to put sprinkles on them all then, because it doesn't make them taste better (how very mature of him). In saying that, if you wanted you could use natural colours in the icing (be careful of salicylates) too.

Sunday 28 August 2011

Parlez-vous Français?

Failsafers are masters of adaptation and substitution. Some cuisines are really easy to adapt, some are not. For example, tomato based dishes are impossible and as much as you can add pear and salt and citric acid, as Ms Frillypants once said - A pear is not a tomato. It's just not. But french food is great for it. They do have some traditionally tomato based dishes, but a lot of them are based on stock or wine which is adaptable. I've had some really good successes just doing straight substitution of ingredients in recipes from a French cookbook I bought a few years back.

These are meals that you can serve up to non failsafe guests. No, really. Provincial french food is based on really basic ingredients and it tastes and looks awesome!

My in-laws came for lunch today. My son was going to baseball open day and they came to watch and hang around for the day. Baseball was supposed to finish at 12:30, so I assumed that I still had plenty of time when I went shopping at eleven o'clock. Baseball finished at 11:30 and so everyone was back home before me! My mad organisational skills meant we were in for a late lunch and even later dessert. Chicken crêpes and pear tart were on the belated menu

Basic Crêpe Recipe
250g plain gluten free flour
pinch of salt
1tsp sugar
2 eggs lightly beaten
410ml (1 2/3cup) milk of choice - I used rice milk
125ml (1/2cup) water
1tbsp melted nuttelex
Failsafe oil for frying.

Sift flour, sugar and salt into a bowl and make a well in the centre.
Mix the eggs milk and water together and pour slowly into the well.
Whisk until everything is incorporated and you have a reasonably smooth batter.
Stir in melted nuttelex.
Cover and stand for 20mins.

Heat a crêpe pan or medium sized non-stick frying pan over a medium heat. Wipe or spray with a little oil.
Pour in enough batter to thinly coat the base of the pan (a soup ladle was pretty spot on for my pan). tipping it around to get it to the edges.
When the crêpe starts to lift away at the edges give it a gentle shake so it comes loose and turn and cook on the other side for a minute of two. They should be slightly golden.
Stack on a plate (you could put baking paper between them to make sure they don't stick - mine didn't stick together though) and cover with foil until they are all done.
They can be frozen with paper between them.

Crêpe Filling
failsafe oil or nuttelex
1 large leek - quartered and sliced
1/2 stick of celery finely chopped
4 cloves of garlic, crushed
3 chicken breast fillets cut into smallish pieces
rice milk
2 tbsp corn starch
1 tsp salt (or to taste)
1tbsp chopped parsley
1tbsp chopped chives

Heat oil and sauté leeks, garlic and celery.
When soft, add chicken and stir until mostly cooked.
Add enough rice milk to just cover chicken mix and bring to the boil.
Simmer until the chicken is cooked through.
Mix cornflour with some cold water, add some of the hot sauce from the pan, then stir into chicken mixture.
Bring to the back to the boil and simmer for another couple of minutes until thickened.
Add salt and herbs.
Spoon down the centre of each crêpe and fold the sides over the mix.

This is enough to make and fill about 8 medium sized crêpes. You could serve them with a salad, I didn't have time and who ever eats the side salad on a crêpe?

Et voilà!

Some variations
Dairy - use normal milk and butter and add ricotta to the chicken sauce.
Amines - add some grated cheese inside and on top of the crêpe and serve with a generous dollop of sour cream (you may choose to do this for guests as it is done after cooking and can be done selectively).
Veg - most vegetables can be hidden in a white sauce as long as you don't go overboard.

We sat down to lunch at two o'clock and then I had to (wanted to) make this dessert, which was eaten at 4:30. It should have been later, but I couldn't wait to let the tart cool.

Pear Tart
Sweet pastry
340g gluten free plain flour
a small pinch of salt
150g nuttelex
90g icing sugar
2 eggs beaten

Preheat oven to 180℃
The easiest way to make pastry is in a food processor (otherwise there is rubbing and pecking and, if you're like me, flour everywhere).
Sift flour, salt and sugar into the bowl of a food processor add the nuttelex and pulse until the nuttelex is incorporated and you have something resembling bread crumbs.
Add the eggs with the motor running and process until a dough starts to form.
Tip out onto some cling wrap, knead into a ball, wrap and put in the fridge for about an hour.

Roll the pastry between sheets of baking paper and line a 23cm loose based tart tin, trimming the edges.
Line with baking paper and fill with baking weights or dried beans or rice.
Bake for 10 minutes, then remove beads and paper and bake for a further 4 minutes or until the pastry is just cooked, but still pale.

Crème Pâtissière
6 egg yolks
125g caster sugar
40g cornstarch
560ml (2 1/4 cups) milk of choice (I used rice milk)
1/2 vanilla pod (or vanilla essence)
15g nuttelex

Whisk together egg yolks and half of sugar until pale and creamy.
Sift in the cornflour and mix well.
Heat milk, remaining sugar and vanilla pod, bringing just to the boil. (If using vanilla essence, add at end of cooking.)
Strain hot milk over egg mixture, stirring continuously.
Pour back into clean saucepan and bring to boil while constantly stirring. Boil for two minutes (add essence now).
Stir in nuttelex and leave to cool.

Spoon crème pâtissière into pastry shell and top with 2 - 3 peeled and sliced pears.
Bake for 25 - 30mins or until pears are golden
Leave to cool completely (If you don't, the filling will be hot and sloppy and will ooze out everywhere)
Melt a few tablespoons of pear jam with a tablespoon of water, sieve out any lumps and brush over pears to make them glossy.

Fresh out of the oven and coated in jam

If I'd have waited another hour to cut it, it would have looked like this.

Dairy - use butter and milk
Salicylates - use sweet apples.

Bon apetit et au revoir!

Saturday 27 August 2011

Muesli Bars

There has been a request for this recipe (Woohoo!) . We've had a huge day at a birthday party and I'm quite tired, so I'll skip the witty banter and just jump straight to the recipe. It's based on the Pear Muesli Bars from the Failsafe Cookbook. It can be fiddled with a bit to make it how you like it.

Muesli Bars
(Well, they're really cereal bars, but we can let that slide)

6 cups of cereal - I use 2 cups puffed rice
                                     2 cups millet rings
                                     1 cup puffed millet
                                     1/2 cup puffed amaranth
                                     1/2 cup quinoa flakes (or sometimes a bit of millet meal too)

1/3 cup (140g) glucose syrup
2tsp failsafe oil
1tbsp white sugar (or you could use brown)
2tbsp pear jam (or a bit more if you like it peary)

Combine syrup, oil, sugar and jam in a saucepan. Heat gently while stirring until sugar is dissolved. Bring to the boil to drive off sulphites. Boil gently for a few minutes.
Put cereal in a large mixing bowl. Pour hot syrup over and stir it through.
Press firmly into a slice tin lined with baking paper and bake at 180∘C for about 10 mins. Less if you like it chewy, but chewy also means crumbly with these.
Once cool cut into pieces and store in an airtight container.

Optional extras - Add extra dried pears (sulphite free) for more peariness.
                            Add white chocolate or carob chips or drizzle melted over the top of cooked bars
                            Add some maple or golden syrup to the the sugar mix (not too much or it's too moist)

You can really use whatever cereal you have (even the gluten type if that is your thing) as long as it is about 6 cups. Don't overdo the quinoa or amaranth unless you really like the flavour (I will keep likening them to grass). They keep really well in a container for around four weeks. That is the longest I've had some left (my son didn't want them for a while), so they may keep for longer.

Goodnight friends

Thursday 25 August 2011

Chicken and Quinoa Risotto

Like most of us on a limited diet, I get "cooks block". You know when you get sick of eating the same thing and just want to make something different... that's been me lately. I think you could say I am uninspired. Add to this my general disorganisation, and dinners lately have been a bit boring and we have been overdoing the chips.

Tonight was no different, except that on a whim I said to my husband "How about risotto?" Since it was five o'clock and he didn't have a better idea I ran with it. Risotto is really quite versatile and you can add almost anything to it. The quinoa was a last minute idea, it adds a bit of flavour and lots of goodness. If was to make this again I would add more. I didn't want to over do it though as it can taste like grass. If you don't have quinoa, just leave it out. You wont need as much liquid.

Chicken and Quinoa Risotto
(Makes enough to feed a small army - or the four of us three times over)

Hmmm... Not exactly appetising, but even non-failsafe risotto looks like that.

3 tbsp FS oil or nuttelex (or a combination)
1 large leek (finely chopped)
4 cloves of garlic
3 cups Aborio rice
1/2 cup Quinoa (rinsed)
8 cups homemade stock (or water or a combination; more stock = more flavour)
2 chicken breast fillets cut into smallish pieces (if you don't have stock using thighs would boost flavour)
1 cup chopped green beans
1/2 cup finely chopped cabbage
can of cannelini beans (drained and rinsed)
2 tsp salt (or to taste)
1 tbsp chopped parsley

Place oil in a large saucepan over a medium heat and saute leek and garlic until soft.
Add rice and quinoa and stir until it is coated in oil and the rice starts to get translucent on the edges.
Add enough stock to cover, lower the temperature to a bare simmer and stir until it is all absorbed.
Add another few cups of stock and the chicken. Keep stirring as this is what gives it its creamy consistency.
As the stock is absorbed add more until the rice is cooked.
When the rice is done add the remaining vegetables and salt and cook for a few more minutes.
If the rice looks too dry add a little more liquid. Risotto should be saucy.
Stir through the parsley and serve.

Optional extras - dairy - use butter and add a few tablespoons of cream cheese at the end.
                          - glutamates - use peas instead of beans.
                          - salicylates - add chopped zucchini.

Buon Appetito!

Tuesday 16 August 2011

The Main Meal and Cake

So there was some food that got devoured at the party and some that did not. The only thing that didn't really get eaten by the kids was dinner. Not because it wasn't good, but because they were having too much fun to sit down. No matter how appealing the red clothed tables were and the little boxes of food, there were games to be played and anything that couldn't be eaten while playing didn't get eaten.

The main meal was chicken nuggets and chips. The nuggets can be made in advance and kept in the freezer until you need them. I made a lot as I made sure that there was food for the grown ups to eat too. So I didn't spend a day crumbing chicken, a couple of times over the two weeks leading up to the party, I bought some chicken then cut, crumbed and froze it. Put it in an air tight container with baking paper in between layers so they are easy to separate.

Chicken Nuggets
Cut enough chicken in to strips or chunks
Toss in corn starch
Dip in egg lightly beaten with a few teaspoons of water (If you don't want to use egg, blend the cornflour with water and dip the chicken into that then the crumbs)
Coat in rice crumbs (I like Casalare white rice crumbs)
Freeze until needed.
Then bake at 180℃ for approx 20 mins or panfry on medium heat until golden and cooked through or deep fry at 180℃ for approx 5 mins (depending on thickness).
The frying methods make it nice and golden, the oven does not. It depends on how much you are trying to cook which method you can use.

If you can't find those crumbs use your usual ones, or if you like get some gluten free puffed rice and blitz it in a food processor or put it in a bag and crush them with a rolling pin. 

If you like you can chop up potatoes, stop them going black and then double fry them to yummy crispness... Or you can be like me and take the easy route with something and buy frozen ones. I used homebrand (Woolworths) crinkle cut chips. They are pretty good for a frozen chip and they are failsafe. The adults marveled over the crinkle cut which they had forgotten existed, it was like a flashback.
They can be cooked in the oven or a deep fryer.

Doesn't everyone deep fry in a tutu?

I did the nuggets in the oven and the chips in the deep fryer. I borrowed another fryer so that I could cook more at the one time. I had bought little cardboard take away boxes to put it in. I had grander plans of red and white striped hot dog trays, but I couldn't quite justify the expense on top of everything else.

The cake was devoured. Completely. Four dozen patty cakes, gone. Not bad for a gluten free, dairy free cake. The recipe is brilliant, I've since made it egg and soy free too and a friend used the recipe with normal flour and milk and still had great results. It's so very versatile and I found it on a great little blog.

This is my adaptation of it

  • 200g nuttelex
  • 1 1/4 Cups caster sugar
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1/3 Cup golden syrup (you can make your own syrup, there is a recipe on the above link)
  • 2 each eggs, at room temperature (or equivalent egg replacer)
  • splash vanilla essence
  • 2 Cups all-purpose flour (I used Orgran - it's convenient)
  • 2 teaspoons baking powder
  • 1 teaspoon bicarb soda
  • 1 cup milk of choice, at room temperature
  1. Preheat oven to 160℃ 
  2. Place patty papers into tins (it makes approx 4 doz so you may need to do batches)
  3. In the bowl of a mixer, cream nuttelex until smooth. Add sugar and salt & cream until light and fluffy.
  4. Slowly pour room temperature caramel syrup into bowl. Scrape down bowl and increase speed. Add eggs/vanilla extract a little at a time, mixing well after each addition. Scrape down bowl again, beat mixture until light and uniform.
  5. Sift flour and baking powder.
  6. Turn mixer to lowest speed, and add one third of the dry ingredients. When incorporated, add half of the milk, a little at a time. Add another third of the dry ingredients, then the other half of the milk and finish with the dry ingredients.
  7. Take off mixer and by hand, use a spatula to do a few last folds, making sure batter is uniform. Fill patties approximately 2/3 full.
  8. Bake for about 12 mins or until golden and a skewer test comes up clean.
My frosting varies from the original because I wasn't sure that kids would care for caramelised butter frosting and I wasn't sure nuttelex would caramelise, then there is the cream. So I just made a basic butter cream with golden syrup added.
  • 125g nuttelex
  • 1 1/2 cups icing sugar
  • 2 tablespoons golden syrup
  • 1/2 teaspoon vanilla essence
  • pinch of salt
  1. Beat the nuttelex in a mixer a gradually add sifted icing sugar
  2. add other ingredients while beating
It comes down to personal taste how heavy you like your icing or how much you want on your cakes, if you want to spread it or pipe it. I made mine reasonably thick and piped it. If you want it softer add more nuttelex or a dash of milk or water until you get the consistency you want. If you like mountains of it on cakes you might need to make more.

Delicious caramel cup cakes

Once I had the icing on them, I very lightly sprinkled them with natural sprinkles. This is totally optional and not at all necessary. The other thing I put on them, which really seemed to excite the kids, was mini pinwheels bought from the same packaging and party wholesaler that I bought a tonne of other stuff from.

Thus ends the party saga. There are sure to be more party related posts at a later date, but I'm going to try to post about some normal food next.

Sunday 14 August 2011

Now You've Made All This Food, Go and Give Them Something Better to Do

I suppose one way around food issues at a party is to take the emphasis away from the food. A great way of doing this is by playing games. They don't have to be involved or tricky to play, in fact I've now discovered that the simple games are the best.

We stuck with the circus/carnival theme with the games and set up a 'can toss',  'clowns' and old fashioned 'pin the tail on the donkey'. We also had a face painter. Not exactly failsafe, but it was fun for the kids. My son doesn't have sensitive skin, but he didn't end up having it on for very long. We also made a photo booth for everyone to play in and a piñata to smash.

Can Toss

The can toss was the easiest to organise. Collect your old cans, set them up on a table, find some tennis balls and let them go for it. Noisiest, craziest fun. By the end of the party the cans were rather squashed. I really thought the kids would have one turn at each game, but it was all they wanted to do. It helped that they won tickets for playing and those tickets were redeemable for prizes after the cake. I had allowed for two prizes per kid and had to let them know that no matter how many tickets they won there would be no extra prizes. They just didn't care!

Pin the tail on the donkey cost about sixty cents at the local packaging and party supplies wholesaler. I'm still amazed how at how much kids today still love the games we played as kids.

Still a winning game!

What is a side show without laughing clowns? Well my version involved an image found on google cropped, enlarged and printed on A3 paper at my husbands office, then stuck on a flattened nappy box, the mouths cut out and then propped onto a backyard toy. The kids had to try to throw juggling balls that we had made through the holes to get tickets.

The littlies liked to do this one up close.

So, what do you put in a failsafe piñata? Lots of cheap little toys. Noise makers, spinning tops, clown noses, little pinball games etc, and lots of lollies. Lollipops, werthers, milky bars. I kept buying things thinking that I would not have enough to fill the piñata, but it turned out that I had way too much and stood nearby with a bag full of stuff to throw on the ground when they broke the thing.

What do you hit the weirdo clown with? Why, a cricket bat of course.

The photo booth was a massive cardboard box that one of the kids christmas presents came in. We opened it up so that it was wider and didn't have a front, stuck it all together with packing tape and then covered the inside with black wrapping paper and some red crushed velvet that I bought on sale. We sat the box up on two kiddy chairs and had some accessories on the side. Clown noses, plastic bowler hats and moustaches on sticks. This was both fun for the kids and the grown ups.

I found the templates for the moustaches on Martha Stewart, cut them from thick black cardboard and used thick wire for the handles.

The prizes were a load of toys that I found at Big W for a dollar each. There were water pistols, bubble wands, light up yo-yos, frisbees, skipping ropes and binoculars. The kids could not wait to redeem their tickets at the prize booth!

Checking out what was on offer.

Working the booth under threat of rain

With a little planning you can really make the party not about food. Less food, more fun!