Thursday 25 October 2012

Faux Phô

We all miss certain foods, and while I eat other things when I am away from the kids occasionally, I do miss the variety at home. I think it is good for the kids to become accustomed to different styles of food so that one day, when they are able, they won't be scared to try something a bit different.

I've always liked Vietnamese food, but The Boy never did. The best he would ever eat was spring rolls. He didn't like spice and he wasn't even a fan of rice. But that never stopped me trying, and failsafe isn't going to stop me now either.

A purist would be disgusted with this (as they probably would with any of my adapted recipes) as a genuine one would be a fabulously rich, long cooked beef broth fragrant with spices punctuated with chilli, fresh basil and lime, but it's the best I could do with the ingredients on offer. And it did hit the spot; it is phô at heart.

A few little notes about what I have done here...

I have used some beef stock, but it was left from when I cooked the boeuf à la ficelle which only had the beef in it for about 15 minutes. It was a very mild stock and in my mind I would definitely still classify that as low amine. If you don't have this a chicken stock would work, but it really does want the flavour of a meat stock.

Do you need the alcohol? You could leave it out, but it would really effect the flavour of the dish. The whiskey adds body and fullness and the gin gives the hint of herbs and spice. If it really isn't your thing use a higher quantity of stock than I have.

To slice the beef really finely it is easier if it is partly frozen and you have a very sharp knife. I bought a large roasting piece, put it in the freezer for a few hours, sliced off what I needed for this and put the rest back in the freezer for my roast another day.

Sprouts and sauce ready to add to the Faux Phô - the beef cooks quickly in the broth

Faux Phô
  • 2 cups beef stock
  • 1/4 cup gin
  • 1/4 cup whiskey
  • 2 Tbsp vegetable stock paste
  • 5 1/2 cups water
  • 3 tsp salt
  • 2 cloves garlic, crushed
  • 4 shallots, sliced on an angle (white and most of the green)
  • 1 Tbsp brown sugar
  • 350g beef topside (or similar) finely sliced
  • 200g packet of wide rice noodles, prepared as directed on the packet
  • 2 cups mung bean sprouts
  • Citric "lemon" juice
  • Pear ketchup
  • Magic sauce
  1. Place stock, gin, whiskey, stock paste and water into a large pot. Bring to the boil and simmer for 10mins. Strain the stock, discard the solids and return the liquid to the pot.
  2. Bring back to the boil and add salt, garlic, sugar and half the shallots.
  3. Divide the noodles between four large, deep soup bowls (or big pasta bowls). Divide the beef and remaining shallots between the bowls placing it on top of the noodles.
  4. Ladle the boiling stock into the bowls and serve.
  5. Have sprouts and sauces on the table for each person to add to their taste
  • Salicylates - have sliced fresh red chilli and thai basil with the condiments, you could also add five spice to the broth (all very high).
  •  Amines - Make a good slow cooked beef broth for your base.
While eating this The Boy's words were "This looks like something the Cook and the Chef would make".

I'll take that, thank you.

Sauce of Wonder

I have spent quite a bit of brain and kitchen power trying to come up with a decent Asian style sauce. One that could be drizzled onto phô or could be added to a stir fry and actually stick to the noodles. A sauce that stood up against a hoisin or oyster sauce. Thick and rich, not too sweet and not too salty.

I've finally done it.

I wanted to call it "Sauce of Wonder", but thought that was a buit pretentious so I enlisted my husband's help to name it. He suggested translating it to Vietnamese - nước sốt kỳ diệu. Not really a name that will come easily to most, and not really easy to search for. I translated it back to English and it is "Magic Sauce". I kind of like that. It has a nicer ring to it that "Hoisin Substitute". Plus it has been a while since I've had hoisin and this may be nothing like it.

Magic Sauce
  • 1/2 cup Golden syrup
  • 1/4 cup gin
  • 1/4 cup syrup reserved from tinned pears
  • 1 1/2 tsp salt
  • 2 tsp carob syrup **
  • 1 tsp tapioca starch
  1. In a small saucepan place all ingredients except one teaspoon of the carob syrup and the tapioca starch. Gently bring to the boil giving an occasional stir.
  2. Simmer until the bubbling starts to look frothy, take off heat and add combined carob syrup and tapioca. Stir through and place back onto heat. 
  3. Bring the mixture back to the boil. When it looks frothy again it is done.
  4. Let cool (don't be tempted to taste it before it has cooled a lot as it will be incredibly hot) and store in a sealed container in the fridge.
  5. Add to phô or stir-fry. Or use as a BBQ marinade for meat.

** If you don't have carob syrup then you could substitute something else. I haven't tried, but I think that half a teaspoon of carob powder mixed with two teaspoons of boiling water would have a similar result or the same amount of instant decaf coffee might too.

Monday 15 October 2012

L'addiction s'il vous plait

Apparently I have been in denial. Or maybe just underplaying it. It seems that I have an addiction. It was only last night as I added more photos to my Facebook page that I truly realised the extent of it.

Hi, my name is Trish and I am addicted to French Food.

 My favourite French band

There. I said it. It is out there now. 

I loved it before failsafe. Buttery croissants, coq au vin, boeuf bourguignon, baguettes with lashings of butter, tarte au fraise, crêpes, crème brûlée, cheese, wine and I'm getting quite worked up just thinking about it all (I may also be addicted to dairy looking at that list).

It seems only natural that I would be converting as much as I can to failsafe. It helps that a lot of it is easy to convert.

My latest attempt was soupe à l'oignon or as you would know it - French onion soup. Onion is out, but leek is in. Leeks are about as cheap as they get at this time of year. They aren't as big as they are at other times, but try to get the thicker ones so you get more bang for your buck.

Not the golden brown hue of its onion counterpart, but equally satisfying.

Soupe aux Poireaux  (leek soup) (Serves 8 as entree)
  • Leek, halved lengthways, washed and sliced - Aim for about 1kg chopped which was 5 short fat leeks for me.
  • 3 Tbsp failsafe oil (or nuttelex or ghee if tolerated)
  • 2 cloves of garlic, finely chopped
  • 1/3 cup rice flour (or other tolerated flour)
  • 2 1/2 Litres of liquid (water or stock or whiskey. I used 1/2 cup whiskey, 1Tbsp stock concentrate and the rest water)
  • Bread to serve.
  1. Heat the oil in a heavy based saucepan and add the leeks. Cook over a medium to low heat for about 30mins stirring occasionally until they start to caramelise.
  2. Add the garlic and flour and stir for a few minutes.
  3. Gradually add the liquid while stirring to ensure there are no floury lumps.
  4. Cover the saucepan and simmer for about 25 mins.
  5. Serve with slices of grilled garlic bread on top
  • Salicylates - Use onions (duh), add a bay leaf and a few sprigs of thyme.
  • Non Failsafe guests? Serve with slices of baguette that have been grilled with grated gruyere cheese on top.
 This was a brilliant starter for my Mum's birthday dinner of Boeuf à la Ficelle. The kids had garlic bread slices on top of theirs (I had a few pieces of gluten free garlic bread in the freezer) and the adults had the cheesy baguette option. It was enjoyed by all.

Thursday 11 October 2012

Highly Strung

Having people over for meals gives me the opportunity to try new things out, things that I wouldn't necessarily cook for just any old dinner.

My mum recently celebrated a milestone birthday and that seemed like a good reason to do something a little bit fancy. So I flicked through all my cook books searching for inspiration and came across a recipe in my French book that I have been wanting to try for ages. It is so incredibly close to failsafe to that few changes were needed and the end result was really quite special. The meat is cooked for a very short time, which suits the amine sensitive and the cut is so very tender when it is done. Unfortunately the cost of the cut will relegate it to "special occasion" status.

Boeuf à la Ficelle
(Beef on a string)

  • Beef fillet (allow about 200g per adult, less for kids - I cooked for 5 adults and 2 kids and used 1.2kg)
  • 6 cups liquid (this could be stock, water, whiskey or a combination - I used 1/2 cup whiskey and 3 tablespoons of vegetable stock concentrate with 5 1/2 cups of water). If you are cooking less meat you won't need as much liquid.
  • 1 large swede, cut into batons (sticks)
  • 1 celery stalk, cut into batons
  • 2 large potatoes, peeled and cut into chunks
  • 1/4 cabbage, sliced
  • 6 shallots, trimmed and cut into long lengths
  • A few sprigs of parsley
  1. Trim the beef of any visible fat and sinew and cut into portions. Tie a length of cooking string around each piece so that it holds shape leaving enough string attached to lower the beef into the pot.
  2. Pour the liquid into a saucepan and bring to the boil. Add the vegetables and parsley and cook at a medium boil for about 8 minutes or until the vegetables are tender. Remove the vegetables with a slotted spoon and keep warm. Discard the parsley and skim and fat or foam from the surface.
  3. Season the beef with a little salt and lower into the boiling stock. Tie the string around the pot handle or to a wooden spoon resting across the top of the pot. Cook for 6mins for rare, 10 mins for medium rare, 15 mins for medium and 20 mins for well done (for those who can't bear the sight of pink in their meat).
  4. Place each piece of meat on a plate or shallow bowl, add the cooked vegetables and ladle some of the broth over to serve.
  • Salicylates - Add a carrot cut into batons with the other vegetables (moderate) and a bay leaf and 2 sprigs of thyme (very high).
  • Amines - use beef stock for the liquid.
We didn't eat all the cooking liquid on the night, so I reserved it and froze it. Normally beef stock would be too high in amines to use, but as the beef was only cooked very briefly it make a nice, mild beef stock that I would happily use again.

This dish was so succulent and was happily devoured by failsafers and non-failsafers alike.

Thursday 4 October 2012

Bread Success!

Some of you who follow my facebook page may have seen me cheering and sharing a dodgy phone photo of some bread I made the other day. In the real world making a successful loaf of bread is no big deal unless you are seriously challenged in the kitchen, but making an edible loaf of failsafe, gluten, dairy, soy, nut, egg *and* gum free bread is a different story. When I cut open that little roll and had a bite I honestly did a dance of joy.

After a few early attempts at my own gluten free bread I had given up in favour of packet mixes and more recently had been using Kersten's recipe with reasonable success. Our latest restrictions (no gums) meant that I had to ditch that recipe too, and start getting creative.

As a gluten eater I am highly critical of gluten free bread, but I devoured the whole roll with nothing on it and then waited very impatiently for the loaf to cool so that I could slice it and see how it turned out. The crust was soft, the bread bent, and it didn't have that gelatinous texture that I've come to expect from gluten free bread.

How do you think it looks?

I made some (flat) rolls a day later and took them along to a failsafe picnic. There was loads of food, so I didn't bother to get them out until the end when some of the other mums wanted to try. They passed that taste test too (or those lovely ladies were being very polite). The other big test was my daughter who has never willingly eaten gluten free bread. She ate an entire roll with her dinner last night and that is all I really need. There is nothing worse than slaving in the kitchen and no one wanting to eat it.

So after trawling through the internet for inspiration I decided to use a 'Gluten-Free Girl' recipe as my starting point, but that's where the help ended. Now I'm incredibly chuffed to present to you my very own bread recipe.

  • 2 cups warm water
  • 2 Tbsp psyllium husks
  • 5 Tbsp boiling water
  • 1 Tbsp sugar
  • 3tsp yeast
  • 1 Tbsp failsafe oil
  • 100g brown rice flour
  • 100g sorghum flour
  • 170g white rice flour
  • 170g tapioca starch
  • 1 tsp salt
  • 2 tsp baking powder
  1. Put the psyllium in a small bowl or cup and pour the boiling water over them. Give it a quick stir and set aside.
  2. Pour the water, sugar and yeast into a big bowl (preferably in a mixer, but this should be fine by hand) and leave while you measure out the rest of your ingredients.
  3. Add the oil, the psyllium sludge and the dry ingredients and mix for a few minutes until it is all very well combined and smooth, like a thick cake batter.
  4. Tip into an oiled bowl and cover with glad wrap and leave stand somewhere warm for about an hour. It will rise in that time and become a lot more like dough and less like batter.
  5. While it is resting preheat your oven to 190°C
  6. Tip into a greased loaf tin (my tin is 20cm x 11cm) or using wet hands roll balls for rolls use pie tins for large rolls, muffin trays for dinner rolls or place them in a slice tin for flatter hamburger style rolls.
  7. Bake the loaf for about 50 mins and rolls for about 25mins.
  8. Cool on racks.
As this is a very new recipe I haven't had a chance to try different things with it or check how long it lasts. The rolls I made yesterday were slightly dry today, but still edible. The loaf I made the other night was sliced and went straight into the freezer and toasted beautifully for dinner tonight.

The next steps for me are to play with different flour (as I realise sorghum isn't the easiest to find) and to experiment with other styles of bread. But I couldn't make you wait any longer for this recipe. If you try anything that works leave a comment, it would be great to hear what things you can come up with. My next thought is brown sugar scrolls or white baguettes.