Friday 27 July 2012

Like My Nan Used to Make

Australia is made up of so many different cultures all with wonderful food traditions. So many different flavours and cooking methods. Me? I come from a long line of Brits and am only second generation Australian. This means childhood meals weren't full of spices or unconventional meats or vegetables. For a while I felt a little miffed that I had no ability to eat chilli and that the smell of certain cured meats made me want to gag. It has paid off in the end because I seem to have a fairly sound knowledge of failsafe friendly food.

One set of grandparents were from Scotland and we used to eat with them quite a lot so it wasn't always fancy. The thing that my Nanna used to make quite often was Mince and Tatties a very traditional scottish meal. It is a savoury mince stew which is cheap and filling and is one of my comfort foods. My Nan would use gravox or vegemite to add a kick of flavour to the gravy and there was always peas and carrots in it. My version probably bears very little resemblance to hers or a traditional one, but it hits the spot.

Mince and Tatties
  • 500g Beef mince 
  • 2 tsp failsafe oil
  • 1/2 large leek, finely chopped
  • 1 small stick celery, finely chopped
  • 2 cloves garlic, crushed
  • 1/2 cup whiskey
  • 2 cups stock (I used vegetable)
  • 1/2 swede, finely diced
  • 1/2 cup lentils (I used a mixture of red and french this time)
  • 1/2 choko, finely diced
  • 3 brussel sprouts, finely chopped
  • large handful of beans, chopped
  • salt to taste 
  • 1 Tbsp rice flour
  • Mashed potato to serve
  1. Heat oil in a large saucepan and gently saute the leek, garlic and celery.
  2. Add mince and fry, breaking up the mince as it is cooking.
  3. Once the mince is lightly cooked add the whiskey and turn the heat up so that it starts to boil.
  4. Add the swede, lentils, choko and stock, bring to the boil and then gently simmer for about 15mins, stirring occasionally.
  5. Add the sprouts and beans and simmer until the lentils and veg are cooked.
  6. Mix flour with a little water and add to thicken.
  7. Check seasoning and add salt to taste.
  8. Serve with mashed potato.

 Salicylates - Use onions instead of leeks and add diced carrots.
Glutamates - Use green peas.

Leftovers are particularly nice on toast for an easy meal or thickened a bit more and used as a pie filler.

Thursday 12 July 2012

Lucky Dip

I added a picture to my facebook page the other day that generated far more interest than I expected. Or maybe I should have expected it as a platter of failsafe, dairy, gluten and soy free dips is hard to come by. Yes there was the standard failsafe hommus, but there were three more there.

L-R Parsley pesto dip, caramelised leeks, Cashew cream cheese and hommus

Besides my intolerant son, there was another guest who is lactose intolerant, so the normal cheese platter and something else for the kids was not going to cut it. So I invented and hoped for the best. I still have some cheese left over, but these were demolished.

I bought one of those pesto dip thingys, so wanted to make a failsafe equivalent. Since the only herb available is parsley, that's the one I used. Parsley is still high in salicylates and it is only recommended to have a sprinkle. This is a little more than that, but with three other dips to have there is no need to pig out on that one alone. This recipe only makes a small quantity, as much as you can see in the picture, so that also makes it hard to go overboard.

Parsley Pesto Dip
  • 3 Tbsp chopped parsley
  • 1 long green part of shallot, chopped
  • 2 Tbsp chick nuts (commercial roasted chick peas)
  • 2 Tbsp failsafe oil
  • 1/2 clove garlic, crushed
  • 1 tsp citric "lemon" juice
  • salt to taste
  1. Put all ingredients except salt into a mini food processor and blend until a nice dipping consistency.
  2. Taste for salt - add a little at a time.

Caramelised leeks
(this makes a reasonable amount, but it keeps well and is nice with roast meats, on sandwiches or as a condiment for anything, really...)

  •  1 large leek
  • failsafe oil
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 2 tsp brown sugar
  1. Remove harder green parts of leek and split the leek lengthways, make sure there is no dirt caught in it, rinsing if you need to. Slice finely.
  2. Heat a medium frying pan over medium to low heat and add enough oil to coat the base. 
  3. Add the leeks. Your pan may be very full at this point, don't bother changing pans, it won't stay this way for long.
  4. As they start to heat sprinkle the salt over them to help draw out moisture.
  5. Cook slowly stirring frequently
  6. Add sugar and keep on stirring
  7. They will be slowly reducing and turning a slightly golden colour (with a bit of a green tinge if you had a fair bit of pale green leek). Keep stirring occasionally, making sure they don't dry out and catch on the bottom. If they start to brown or dry out add a small quantity of water.
  8. Once they are gold(ish) and look like a small pile of soggy string (this takes about an hour), they are done. They should be very sweet when you taste them.

Cashew Cream Cheese
There are a lot of recipes floating around the internet for raw cashew cheese, but not one of them is failsafe. They pretty much all contain nutritional yeast which is glutamates, not just a little bit of glutamates, but "you may as well be eating MSG" type glutamates. So that is out. What I have made is probably not even close to tasting like those ones, but it was incredibly good.  My son, who hates nuts, scoffed it and I've had to make more for the week.

The nuts require soaking, so a bit of forethought is needed. I've read that soaking doesn't increase the amine levels in the nuts, but there are a lot of cashews in this one, so moderation may be required for amine responders.

  • 1 1/4 cup raw cashews, covered with cold water and soaked overnight (or for a few hours if that works for you), drained and rinsed.
  • 3 tsp citric "lemon" juice
  • 1 tsp whiskey
  • 1clove of garlic, crushed
  • 1 1/2 tsp salt flakes (if you don't have these use a smaller amount of salt and add to taste at the end)
  • 2 Tbsp rice milk (or water)
  • 2 tsp chopped parsley and chives.
  1. Put all ingredients in a small food processor or blender and blend until smooth.
  2. Taste for seasoning and adjust to taste.
This was particularly good on a cracker with the caramelised leeks.

This was particularly good on a cracker with the caramelised leeks.

I don't actually have a recipe of my own for hommus. I make it to taste every time, sometimes using canned chickpeas, sometimes dried ones. I usually make a huge batch and freeze it in smaller portions as we go through a lot of it. Next time I make it I'll write quantities down.

I served these dips with rice crackers, broken buckwheat crispbreads and mini cracker sized rice cakes. You could also use celery sticks which have been my son's vessel of choice for the cashew cheese this week.

Sunday 8 July 2012

What a Tart!

Visitors. They give me an opportunity to try something other than standard meals. To take a bit more time and make something fancier. I experiment on visitors. Mostly it goes well. Today went exceptionally well.

We always have nibblies with these guests and a main meal and dessert. We spend a lot of time eating, drinking and being merry. The sun was shining today and sunny winter days are the best for sitting out under our pergola. It's always far too hot in summer. So we enjoyed a lovely roast lamb lunch with lots of vegies and after a bit of bocce and some baseball we sat in the dimming light with hot drinks and a frangipane tart.

How can you have a failsafe frangipane tart?

Well that is what makes this recipe interesting. I suppose you could substitute cashew meal, but that is an awful lot of cashew and would contain too many amines. I chose to substitute quinoa flakes. I had read somewhere on the internet that some ingenious person had used them to make nut free french macaron. I tried that too and they worked pretty well, so why wouldn't they work for this tart?

Quinoa is not usually a flavour you expect in desserts and the first mouthful caught me a little off guard, but after that I was amazed at how good it tasted. The texture was pretty close to the real thing and my guests said they would not have known that it wasn't the real thing if I hadn't told them so.

For the tart shell I used the same recipe that I have used for everything so far (I'm sure I'll try a different recipe one day, but I had some in the freezer, so today was not that day)

Pear Frangipane Tart

Sweet shortcrust 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 25cm loose based fluted tart tin trimming the edges. Place in the freezer for about half an hour.
  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.

  • 140g quinoa flakes
  • 150g icing sugar
  • 25g plain GF flour (today we had whitewings)
  • 150g nuttelex
  • seeds from 1 inch piece of vanilla (optional)
  • 3 eggs lightly beaten
  • 5 pear halves (tinned in syrup)
  1. Place quinoa, icing sugar and flour into a food processor and blitz at high speed to get the quinoa a little finer. Remove and put into another bowl.
  2. Put nuttelex and vanilla into the processor and mix on until combined. 
  3. Add the quinoa mixture and process on a medium to low speed until well combined.
  4. Slowly add eggs while the processor is still running and mix until it is well incorporated.
  5. Pour mixture into tart shell and roughly smooth over with a spatula. 
  6. Cut pears in half and gently press into frangipane.
  7. Bake for approximately 45 mins. When cooked the frangipane will be puffed, golden and firm to touch.
  8. Cool and dust with icing sugar to serve.
Just out of the oven

This was lovely by itself, but if you were inclined to make it, then a dairy free custard would go nicely. Or, if you are the dairy eating kind of person, a blob of whipped cream would also go down a treat.

Ready to eat.

Variations - Gluten - use wheat flour
                    Dairy - use butter instead of nuttelex
                    Salicylates - use any soft tolerated fruit eg. apricots, nectarine, blueberries

Friday 6 July 2012

Rice Crispies

This is a recipe straight from the Fed Up Cookbook, but with a little difference.

I had tried the recipe quite some time ago when we first started gluten and dairy free as I thought it was going to be an easy treat. The result was very disappointing. More squishy than crispy. I asked my foodie friend Vibey how it could have possibly gone wrong. "Homemade marshmallow" she said. Followed by "What? Rice bubbles have gluten in them! Maybe it was the ones you used". Since there is about three ingredients in this recipe and two of them were possible culprits, I didn't bother to make them again.

Until recently. I was at a different health food shop to usual and spotted these.

Soland Puffed Rice. Ingredients: rice.

Anyone who is gluten free and failsafe will know that you just can't get crunchy puffed rice cereal that doesn't have other things in it. These are different. They looked different in the packet and the packet didn't feel soft and squishy, but they were pricey. It was worth it though. They are crunchy and sweet and really good.

Rice Crispy Bars
  • 4 cups crunchy puffed rice
  • 200g white marshmallows
  • 80g nuttelex
  1.  Line a slice tin with baking paper.
  2. Place rice puffs into a large mixing bowl.
  3. Slowly melt marshmallow and nuttelex in a saucepan over low heat. Stir continuously to stop it sticking and burning.
  4. When it is relatively smooth pour over rice puffs and stir until well combined.
  5. Tip into lined tin and press down firmly. I find that a piece of baking paper over my hand makes it easier.
  6. When completely cool cut into bars.

 - Add about a tablespoon of carob powder to the marshmallow mixture for a change of flavour.
 - For special occasions sprinkle with some natural sprinkles when you are pressing into the tin.

A very mild carob version.

These would be a great and very easy addition to a party table too.

Try not to eat them all before the kids get some!