Friday 21 September 2012

Take Two

This elimination road has been a very long a windy one and baseline has been very hard to hang on to. What started with me telling my boy that we would cut out food for a few weeks and slowly add things back has actually been over two years and nothing new has been added, but more has been taken away. Because baseline has been hard to come by it has been really difficult to pin point exactly what causes these reactions even when we were being super strict.

The sudden realisation that citric acid was looking like the culprit sent me into a spin. It seems that the way it is made means that it is contains glutamates which lead me to some more research which bands them into a group called excitotoxins. And now we seem to have our missing link. A few weeks of reduced excitotoxins and we have a new found baseline that has actually been sustained for more than a couple of days. For our family this is brilliant, for my cooking adventures it has been quite traumatic. Now we are trying to minimise citric acid, gelatin, corn, extracted pectin, anything with malt in the name and all vegetable gums.

So now I am relearning to cook gluten free and without gums. There are quite a few recipes floating around the internet for this type of cooking, but trying to find things that are failsafe is nigh impossible. People use ground chia or flax - Not failsafe, but there is also a few that use psyllium which is failsafe. So now the conversions begin. I apologise to those who avoid eggs as I am going to be using them a bit more now.

The first conversion is the iced biscuits recipe. I just made this a triple batch straight up as the dough still freezes well, so this makes a good quantity of biscuits.

Iced Biscuits - Take two
  • 300g nuttelex
  • 1 1/2 cup caster sugar
  • 3 egg, lightly beaten
  • 1/2 tsp vanilla (optional)
  • 2 1/2 cups white rice flour 
  • 2 cups tapioca flour
  • 3/4 cup sorghum flour (if you can't find this brown rice would work fine too)
  • 2 Tbsp psyllium husks
  • 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 eggs and Vanilla. 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 a couple of hours or until firm. If after this time your dough is still to sticky add flour one tablespoon at a time until it is less sticky (this is still a little softer than the other ones) little things like the size of your eggs can make this adjustment needed.
  2. Preheat oven to 170°C. 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 leaving a little space around them. If you are putting them on stick, carefully slide the skewer at least halfway into the dough. Bake for approx 12 mins (depending on the size of you shapes) or until slightly golden on the bottom edge. 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.

These taste good! The texture is slightly different, but I've finally had a gumless baking success. The next thing I need to get my head around is bread, just when I had finally got a good handle on making Kersten's recipe...

Friday 14 September 2012


A little while back I posted a few dip recipes, but didn't have one for the hommus. I'm normally a "cook by feel" kind of girl, tasting, adding a splodge of this, a dash of that and tasting again and again until I am happy with the results. Hommus is also something I make in large batches and freeze, so when I posted the other recipes I didn't actually have a concrete recipe. I made it again and recorded what I did.

We all love this and go through tonnes of it. My daughter takes it to preschool with rice crackers for her healthy morning tea or has it on rice cakes for lunch, my son has it on celery sticks for fruit time at school, we've also been known to have it with lamb cutlets for dinner too.

  • 400g dried chick peas
  • Big pinch of bicarb soda
  • 3 cloves of garlic, crushed
  • 1/2 cup failsafe oil
  • 3 Tbsp citric 'lemon' juice
  • 4 small shallots, very finely chopped.
  • 2 tsp salt
  • 1 Tbsp chopped parsley
  1. Soak the chickpeas over night in plenty of water
  2.  Drain and rinse the chickpeas and put into a large pot. Cover with plenty of water, add the bicarb and bring to the boil. Cook until the chickpeas are tender. If you get one out and squeeze between your fingers it should squish easily.
  3. Drain and let them cool until they are able to be put in the food processor.
  4. Put the chickpeas, garlic and shallots in the processor and gradually add the oil while the motor is running.
  5. Add the citric 'lemon', salt and parsley and process until you have a fairly smooth consistency (some chickpeas are drier than others, so it may need more oil).
  6. Taste and adjust if you prefer.
  7. Store in the fridge or pack into smaller containers (I use ones that are about a cup) and freeze until needed.

Monday 3 September 2012

Taking Stock

There are a couple of recipes floating around for vegetable stock paste. The Diva has one and so does Frilly Pants, but they are both done for the Thermomix and those instructions are double dutch to anyone who doesn't have one. So I gave it a whirl and was really happy with the results, but had to wait until I ran out so I could make more and actually measure what I did.

The good thing about stock is that you can use all the bits of your vegies that aren't too pretty - the celery that went floppy in the bottom of the fridge, or the upper bits of the leek. A good habit to get into is to freeze your vegetable off cuts. I have a zip lock bag in the freezer that I add to all the time. The light green bits of leek that can be a little on the tough side to cook with get thrown in the freezer ready to be made into stock, so does the odd bit of celery too.

Vegetable Stock Concentrate
  • 350g celery 
  • 4 shallots
  • 350g leek
  • 3 cloves garlic
  • small handful parsley
  • 1/3 cup salt
  1. Roughly chop and wash all the vegetables and place in a large saucepan.
  2. Sprinkle the salt over it all (it will start to draw the water from the veg quite quickly)
  3. Put pan over a low-medium heat and cook, stirring often to begin with. As more liquid comes out of the veg less stirring is required.
  4. Turn it down to a simmer and reduce until most of the liquid is gone. It took me about 1hr from turning the pan on to get to this point.
  5. Cool and puree. Pack into a freezer container and freeze. (It doesn't freeze solid and can be scooped straight from the freezer)
This made 1 1/2 cups. Use one tablespoon to make one cup of stock. That is almost 19 cups of stock and it doesn't take up the entire freezer. Genius!

- You can use whatever quantity of veg you have, just make sure you don't over do any particular thing or it will dominate.
Salicylates - Add carrot or onion
Celery tops - I've heard that the celery tops may be higher in salicylates than the stems, I use the tops, but you may chose not to.

Use it to add flavour to risotto, stews or soups, just about anything really.