Monday, 10 December 2012

'Twas Brillig (part two)

The saga continues... The cupcakes which were made were a big cheat - yes, it is okay to cut corners where you can. These are the Macro brand vanilla cupcake mix which are, except for excessive vanilla, failsafe. Plus I knew they worked with egg replacer for our allergic guest. Two batches of these were made in different sized and coloured papers and with a few different coloured frostings (Hoppers natural colours) to give the illusion of more variety. You could also add some carob powder or golden syrup to some of them to give flavour variety without having to make separate batches of cake. They were also used as a party favour.






The cakes for taking home were placed in plastic tumblers which were bought from a cheap shop and then put into cellophane bags and tied with a ribbon.

There was also fairy bread with natural sprinkles - some was gluten free and some made with Baker's Delight bread. My friend brought the gluten-filled type and used cookie cutters to achieve the teapot and teacup shapes.

There were also gluten free bread-and-butterflies; these were made using my bread recipe that was sliced, spread with nuttelex and then cut with butterfly cookie cutters.





Pink milk was served as the main drink - a sugar syrup made from two cups of sugar and 2 cups of boiling water was made with vanilla essence and cochineal added. This was mixed into both rice milk and dairy milk and put into teapots on the table. You tend to need a bit more cochineal than you think and as it is diluted again into the milk.

The lolly table had most of the usual failsafe lollies, plus a few that I had made.

















The last picture was a recipe I found for conversation hearts (does anyone remember these?). The recipe needed tweaking and in my rush I didn't measure or write anything down. So, unfortunately, a recipe for that will have to wait.

Activities were kept minimal. The kids played croquet and had a great time doing so. I had planned to have a caucus race, but the ground was uneven ad covered with lots of sticks, so I abandoned the idea as I didn't want any injuries. I tried to think of a way to paint roses red without getting paint on party clothes too. They could have coloured with pencils, but in the end they had too much fun playing amongst the trees, eating party food and playing croquet.


The birthday girl - Making the dress also filled a lot of my party prep time

There were party favours other than the cakes. I chose to keep these non-food items. There had been plenty of lollies and sweets consumed at the party, so I felt that the the kids  didn't really need to take more home. We had a variety of different Alice in Wonderland books that the kids received depending on their age. The older children got a paperback version of the stories, the younger ones got a few different colouring books, and the older boys who I knew would not be into these at all got a pack of jumbo playing cards. They also all got a bubble wand (I mean who doesn't like bubbles).

The wrapped book and bubble wands ready to be taken home.


I'll put the cake in it's very own post, in order to make it easier to find.

Friday, 7 December 2012

'Twas Brillig

Birthday, birthday, birthday, Christmas, birthday. That's how it goes in this family and all quite close together. This time of year is a test of my sanity and my stamina in the kitchen. Sometimes I think I'm going to fail the test, but I usually manage a flukey pass. The most recent birthday was no exception.

I have been mentally planning this birthday for quite some time, buying bits and pieces when I saw them and gathering ideas. Although in keeping with my standard form, most of the actual work is left until the last minute.

This party was as much about the decorations and setting as it was about the food and since I'm a bit over the top I wanted everything to be fabulous; it was passable. I didn't have as much time to set up as was really needed and, well if I let them, these things can just get bigger and bigger.

The lolly table


 
Cups laid out on the adult table

Unfortunately, due to the nature of gluten free food, a lot of food needs to be prepared as close to the party as possible, so the afternoon tea setting was really quite perfect. It also meant that everything was finger food and nothing needed to be heated which was very handy. There was also a child with an egg allergy, so most of the food needed to be egg free. Some allowances were made on our intolerances in order to keep things eggless.

The favourite food item of the day was the toadstools. They were made a few days before and are very easy. I used a small amount of dairy in them, but if you are able to eat eggs please use royal icing instead of the white melts.

Toadstools
Ingredients
  • Marshmallows - standard sized, cylindrical.
  • Marshmallows - larger domed.
  • White melts (or royal icing)
  • natural food colours
Method
  1. Gently melt the white chocolate melts using the microwave on short bursts or a double boiler.
  2. Spread a small amount of melted chocolate on the end of a cylindrical marshmallow and stick it to the middle of the flat side of the larger ones. You can use an ice cube tray or an egg carton to help you keep them straight while they set.
  3. Add a small amount of colouring to chocolate and use a skewer or toothpick to make spots on the cap. 
  4. Leave to set.







There were a variety of biscuits mostly my standard recipes that were presented differently. The iced biscuits were used with fondant so I could could make egg free biscuits and use the same topping. The egg free version was from Kersten's book and the recipe for the fondant was found on the Domestic Diva's blog. The fondant was coloured with Hoppers Natural colours and stamped with a clean stamp. If you like this idea, I would suggest you have separate stamps for craft and food so you don't get any contamination.




The Diva's Marshmallow Fondant Icing
Ingredients

  • 600g icing sugar
  • 225g marshmallows 
  • 1 ½ tablespoons water 
  • Extra icing sugar for rolling 
Method
  1.  Place marshmallows and water into a microwave bowl and nuke for 30seconds on high.
  2. Stir until smooth (cook for another 30 seconds of necessary)
  3. Add icing sugar and stir until combined (I did it by hand)
  4. If necessary add extra sugar until no longer sticky, but not so stiff as to be unrollable.
  5. Wrap very tightly with cling wrap and rest until needed.
  6. Can be made several days in advance, put wrapped fondant into a ziplock bag or airtight container to prevent any drying.    


Make sure you use a lightly oiled surface to roll the fondant. I thought that rolling it between baking paper would be enough. It wasn't. The tiniest amount of oil sprayed onto the paper made it so much easier. Cut the fondant using the same cutter you used on the biscuit and then press the stamp firmly into it (without completely squashing it) before laying on your biscuit that has been lightly spread with Vienna cream frosting.

I tried to use sprinkles to make patterns. Don't bother trying that. Aside from it being ridiculously time consuming they don't stick to the fondant.

You could use any natural colour you want for these to match your theme or use none at all. The white is very pretty and you can get a great decoration from the stamp alone.


The other biscuits were made using the melting moment dough.





Chess Board Cookies
Method

  1. Take a quantity of melting moment dough. Halve it and add a tablespoon of carob to a portion of the dough. 
  2. Use a lined swiss roll tin (or similar) and pressed and rolled half of the dough into it (I didn't use the full length of the tin).
  3. Repeat this with the other portion of dough (making sure to use the same portion of tin as the previous piece). Then lay one on top of the other and freeze until very firm.
  4.  Cut the dough into four, lengthways and lay two on top of each other making sure your colours are alternated and press them together gently (you will have two logs with four layers each). Freeze again.
  5. Now cut lengthways slices about 1cm thick and stack them with alternating colours, four layers thick. Freeze again.
  6. Cut slices crossways from the end and lay on a lined baking tray and bake for about 12mins at 160°C.
  7. Cool on racks.






Walrus and Carpenter Oyster Biscuits

Method
  1. Beat 2 Tablespoons of rice milk into one quantity of melting moment dough.
  2. Fill a piping bag that has a large round tip fitted to it with the dough.
  3. Roughly pipe the dough into tear drop/oyster shell shapes. Try not to make them too thick. Ridges, bumps and texture are desirable!
  4. Bake at 160°C for about 12 mins or until cooked (this depends on the thickness of the dough)
  5. Tinge some vienna cream icing pink with cochineal and pipe onto half of the biscuits. Place a Hoppers silver pearl on each and top with another biscuit.

Since this post is becoming a bit too long I'll split this between a few so that things don't get too hard to find.

See you in the next one!



Wednesday, 21 November 2012

Festive Preparations

I've never made any pretenses about my organisational skills. In fact I quite regularly go on about my extreme lack of them. So, I had a little heart attack when my co-contributors to "At the Failsafe Table" decided to have a Christmas edition this week. It's a truly great idea and I'm sure you would all like to be a bit prepared and maybe even have a trial run of what you would like to make. For me this week is last minute birthday party preparation for my daughter's 4th birthday - Christmas is not even on my radar until next week.

I have managed to fit something in this week though, so this year you get a Christmas recipe from me before Christmas instead of in March.

While I was deciding what to make I was thinking about all the different yummy foods that are usually eaten over the holidays and one of the things that came into my mind was those rolled pieces of pork that are stuffed with fruit and nuts and are sweet and moist with that naughty bit of crackling on the top. I have done a failsafe version of that. "How is that even possible?" you say. "Massive substitutions" I say; that and a bit of imagination.




Christmas Chicken Roll
Ingredients
  • 2 large Chicken breast doubles
  • failsafe oil
Stuffing
  • 3 Tbsp ground raw cashews
  • 1 pear, peeled, cored and diced smallish
  • 2 shallots, finely sliced
  • 1 Tbsp maple syrup
  • 1/4 cup crumbs
  • 1 tsp salt
  • few sprigs parsley
Glaze
  • 1 Tbsp Maple syrup
  • 1 tsp whiskey (optional)
  • 1 tsp failsafe oil
  • 1/4 tsp salt
All tied up

Don't worry about being neat, just make sure it is tight.


Method
  1. Preheat oven to 180°C and lightly oil a roasting tray.
  2. Leave the cartilage that joins the breasts intact, but trim any other sinew or excess fat from the chicken.
  3. Mix all the stuffing ingredients together in a bowl.
  4. Lay out the breasts rough side up and spread one half of the first one with about a third of the stuffing. Lay the second piece so half of it covers the stuffing of the first. It's best if you do it with the thicker part covering the thinner of the first ("top and tailed") so it is not really thick at one end once it is rolled.
  5. Spread all of the second breast double with the remaining stuffing and then roll carefully so the cross section is like two interlocking "C's". 
  6. Tie it tightly with kitchen string and place into roasting dish.
  7. Push any bits of stuffing that have fallen out back into the end of it.
  8. Mix the glaze ingredients together and brush some over the chicken.
  9. Bake for one and a half hours (or until cooked through - depends on the chicken size). Take it out at intervals and brush with more glaze.
  10. When ready remove from oven and rest for 10 minutes, then remove string and slice.

Ready to be sliced




Variations
  • Nut free - No problem, just leave them out and add a little more crumbs or substitute for chicknuts as they could add another bit of flavour.
  • Salicylates - Apples would be nice instead of pears as would some herbs like sage or thyme.


Served with crispy herbed baked potatoes and steamed beans and cabbage  tossed with nuttelex, salt and sprinkled with crispy fried deli chicken.


We all enjoyed this, it really did remind me of the pork ones. Hubby said he would like to have more stuffing. It would be nice, but it would also make it trickier to roll.



Thursday, 15 November 2012

Spring

So spring is here and nearly gone. I have been wanting to share this one for a while, but have had some really good recipes that I had to add first.

We celebrate a few extra holidays in our house. You may remember the pumpkin pie from our autumn feast or have seen pictures of our yule feast on my Facebook page. We celebrate the standard ones too, but really enjoy having the old school seasonal celebrations. They fit with the weather, with fresh food available at the time.




On the 22nd September it was the spring equinox, so we had our Ostara party. Or I guess you could call it easter or Eostre. So you get the theme - flowers, bunnies, eggs, butterflies - Spring things. And what better way to do it than a garden tea party. The table was set with all my china along with glass jars and cups with fresh flowers (these were the rather smelly kind, if you're smell sensitive use ones that are low fragrance).




 

No new recipes for this party, just reshaping some that I already have.

Flower and butterfly shaped biscuit wands made to the iced biscuit recipe or the gum free recipe.  These were decorated with white icing and natural sprinkles and coloured sugar. This is so basic to do, but something I forgot about for a long time. You know exactly what you are getting with these, and if you use homemade colours they can be completely failsafe.     


I used the gum free recipe for these biscuits


Coloured Sugar

Ingredients
  • 3 Tbsp sugar
  • A few drops natural colour of choice

Method

  1. Place sugar and colour in a small container or ziplock bag.
  2. Shake until the colour is evenly distributed through the sugar
  3. Store in an airtight container.

Also made using the coloured sugar were rice crispy eggs. To shape them I use little plastic eggs, the kind you would normally put treats inside for Easter.

Rice crispy eggs



Rice Crispy Eggs  
Ingredients
  • 4 cups crunchy puffed rice
  • 200g white marshmallows
  • 80g nuttelex
  • Coloured sugar

Method

  1. Place rice puffs into a large mixing bowl.
  2. Slowly melt marshmallow and nuttelex in a saucepan over low heat. Stir continuously to stop it sticking and burning.
  3. When it is relatively smooth pour over rice puffs and stir until well combined.
  4. Lightly grease the inside of the eggs and pack the rice crispy mixture into both sides and squash them together.
  5. When they have set gently ease them out of the eggs and dip one end in coloured sugar.

If you wanted to do these as something the  Easter bunny has left you can coat inside half the egg with the sugar and leave them in the egg to make it less messy.

My friend made vanilla cupcakes that had a split marshmallow on top to look like a flower and tea cup biscuits which were an Orgran thistle shortbread biscuit topped with a marshmallow, sprinkles and half a lifesaver (not failsafe, but similar could be made from royal icing) all stuck together with royal icing.



Meringue peeps, Teacup biscuits, quiche, scones and iced biscuits


Meringues were piped in the shape of peeps or little chicks. I tried adding a bit of saffron to them for colour, but the little that I used gave no real colour, but drastically changed the flavour... not something I would do again. You could also add little dots of icing or carob to make eyes.




There were also scones & jam, little chicken & mayonnaise wraps, mini quiches and pink vanilla milk (rice milk for mine, cow milk for the others) in teapots for the kids to drink. 


Wraps, quiche and flower cupcakes

The activities were loads of fun, the kids made birdfeeders by sticking birdseed to toilet rolls using flour  and water glue and took them home to hang in the garden.

My friend brought blank animal masks and the children decorated them with glitter, sequins, pompoms and textas.



Making masks


The grand finale was an egg hunt in the yard for plastic eggs with treats.

They all took home seedlings to plant; a bean, a purple cabbage and a decorative one. A great non-food idea for easter too, just make sure your seedlings are right for the season.




Now to prepare for the Summer Solstice!

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
Ingredients
  • 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
Method
  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
Variations
  • 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
Ingredients
  • 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
 Method
  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)
Ingredients
  • 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.
Method
  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
Variations
  • 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)

Ingredients
  • 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
Method
  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.
Variations
  • 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.

Bread!
Ingredients
  • 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
Method
  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.

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
Methid
  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

Hommus

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.




Hommus 
Ingredients
  • 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
Method
  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
Ingredients
  • 350g celery 
  • 4 shallots
  • 350g leek
  • 3 cloves garlic
  • small handful parsley
  • 1/3 cup salt
Method
  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!

Variations
- 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.

Thursday, 30 August 2012

Sweet, Sweet

These are something that I make a lot. It seems that most recipes call for egg yolks and the only recipe that wants the white bits is meringue. I asked my mum if she had any other ideas what I could do with them, she suggested an egg white omlette and the thought of that makes me want to puke. Taking all the nice flavour and texture the yolk adds and leaving you with something resembling rubber. No thanks. So I keep on making meringue. And since I regularly make mayonnaise, I regularly have egg whites, so I regularly make meringues too.

This is a simple recipe, two ingredients, that is it. It bothers me that the commercial ones can contain so many ingredients.



Meringue
Ingredients
  • 4 egg whites, preferably at room temperature
  • 1 1/4 cups of caster sugar
Method
  1. Preheat oven to 110°C
  2. Place egg whites into a very clean, dry bowl of a mixer (Stand mixer is easiest, hand held electric is alright anything less is doable, but tiring).
  3. Beat/whisk the egg whites until they are stiff.
  4. Add the sugar a tablespoon at a time until it is all incorporated and the mixture is thick and glossy and the sugar has dissolved.
  5. Pipe or spoon the mixture onto lined oven trays leaving a few centimetres between them.
  6. Bake for approximately 35 mins. Leave them longer so they are crisp through or take them out sooner for a gooier centre. It depends on how big they are too. Half the fun is testing them during cooking to see if they are done yet.


Variations: Make them large and flat to use for a pavlova.
                   Add 1-2 teaspoons of sifted carob just before piping for variety.
                   Add a small quantity of vanilla seeds before piping for flavour.
                   Sprinkle uncooked meringues with natural sprinkles for a special occasion.
Dairy/soy - After they are cooked and cooled dip the tips in melted white chocolate or carob.

These make great afternoon tea treats or are lovely for a party.

The Spice of Life

Sometimes I just want to cook meals that I used to cook. Although there is nothing to stop me from cooking things just for the adults or getting a take away (and at times we do do either) I like to try to make things a bit different for the kids. My re-imaginings of some of these dishes are probably a mere shadow of their original form, but they add a bit of variety and variety is the spice of life and since we can't have real spice we may as well have a bit of variety.

I was looking at the bean shoots at the grocers the other day. These instantly bring two meals to mind - phô and pad thai. I've had a few attempts at the phô and haven't quite got it good enough to publish, but the pad thai I made the other night did the job for me.



Pad Thai
Ingredients
  • 4 Tbsp failsafe oil
  • 6 cloves of garlic, finely chopped
  • 2 chicken breast fillets, cut into small cubes
  • 1 Tbsp brown sugar
  • 1 Tbsp Gin
  • 2 Tbsp Golden syrup
  • 1 1/2 tsp salt
  • 1 1/2 Tbsp pear Ketchup
  • 2 lightly beaten eggs
  • 200g wide rice noodles, prepared to packet instructions
  • 3 cups (about) Mung bean sprouts
  • 2 shallots, finely sliced (include some of the green too)
  • 2 Tbsp raw cashews, roughly chopped (you could lightly toast them if you tolerate it)
  • Citric 'lemon' juice to taste 
Method
  1. Heat oil in a large wok and fry the garlic until golden
  2. Add the chicken and stir fry until partially cooked.
  3. Combine the sugar, syrup, gin, ketchup and salt and add to wok.
  4. Add the beaten eggs, let them set slightly, then stir to scramble.
  5. Add the noodles and toss and stir them for about 2 mins.
  6. Reserve about 1 cup of the sprouts and add the rest to the wok. Stir until the sprouts are barely cooked.
  7. Serve into bowls and garnish with the remaining sprouts, shallots and cashews. Lightly sprinkle with the citric lemon to taste.

Variations-
Salicylates - Also garnish with chopped coriander and dried chilli.
Soy - Use cubed firm tofu instead of chicken.

The boy declared this dinner "Awesome!"

Thursday, 23 August 2012

Breakfast Biscuits

Breakfast can be tricky when you are gluten free and dairy free, especially if you don't really like milk substitutes and have trouble reconciling the "white brick" with being bread.

I saw a new product in the supermarket the other day - Breakfast Biscuits. Really? Biscuits for breakfast? I knew they would never be an option here, but checked the ingredients out of curiosity. Except for the sugar content they looked reasonably healthy. Surely I could make something like this that my son could eat. I made a batch and he was really happy to eat them. I thought them to be less than stellar. Batch two was tweaked a bit and now I'd be happy to eat them too. The boy likes them as they are easy to get himself and since he has recently come around to drinking rice milk he likes to have a glass for dunking them in.




Healthy Breakfast Biscuits
Ingredients
  • 125g Nuttelex
  • 1/3 cup pure maple syrup
  • 1/2 cup of brown rice flour
  • 1/2 cup white rice flour
  • 1/3 cup millet flour
  • 1/4 cup puffed amaranth
  • 1/4 cup buckwheat flakes
  • 2 Tbsp quinoa flakes
  • 1 Tbsp psyllium husks
  • Small handful of freeze dried pears, broken up (optional)
Method
  1. Preheat oven to 160˚C
  2. Beat nuttelex and maple syrup together in a large bowl until well combined.
  3. Beat in the flours and psyllium.
  4. Stir in the remaining ingredients
  5. Take about a tablespoon and roughly shape into a short log. Place on a lined baking tray and flatten with fingers.
  6. Repeat for the remaining mixture (mine made about 24)
  7. Bake for 10-12 mins. They are ready when you can see them starting to brown on the bottom edge.
  8. Cool on the trays for 5 minutes before moving to wire racks.


Variations
  • These would work well with any tolerated flour. It does affect the taste.
  • Rice malt syrup would also work instead of maple syrup.
  • I'm also sure that other things could be substituted for the buckwheat, amaranth and quinoa. Just keep the quantities similar. You'll know when you try to shape them if they are too dry and need more syrup or are too sticky and need a little more dry stuff.

Thursday, 16 August 2012

Sunday, Sunday

Breakfast is my favourite meal of the day. I'm not talking about rice bubbles, but something filling. Not something shoveled in as you are rushing out the door, but something a bit later, something that takes a little longer to make and is far more satisfying.

I like eggs and am incredibly grateful that we can eat them and all my favourite breakfasts have them and every now and then I can convince the less civilised people in the house to wait a little and have a decent breakfast. On Sunday that breakfast was Eggs Benedict. Well, almost. Since ham is on the "no go" list our eggs were a little on the naked side, but equally delicious. This is something you could make for guests. I've found since having children, that brunch is a really great time to get together with people. The kids are mostly happy and not tired, you have enough time to get it together in the morning and the kids haven't had a chance to trash any pre-visitor cleaning you've done. There is also the fact that failsafe breakfast food is not so different to non-failsafe breakfast food.




Eggs Benedict (naked)
Ingredients
  • eggs - allow two per adult
  • toast - whatever bread you tolerate
  • Hollandaise Sauce
Hollandaise Sauce  
Serves 6
Ingredients
  • 4 egg yolks
  • 1 Tbsp citric lemon
  • 180g nuttelex in smallish globs at room temperature
Method
  1. Part fill a medium saucepan with water and bring to the boil. Lower the heat to barely a simmer and fit a bowl on the top so that the water doesn't touch the base of it.
  2. Put egg yolks and citric lemon into the bowl and whisk (by hand or with electric beaters) until it is thick and pale.
  3. Add the nuttelex a little at a time whisking continuously. Only add more when the previous piece is fully incorporated
  4. When all the nuttelex is incorporated and the sauce is thick remove the bowl from the pan and set aside.
Poached Eggs
I found some brilliant instructions for perfect poached eggs on another blog, and since they were so beautifully done with fabulous photos I will just give you the link. Not Quite Nigella's Poached Eggs 101

To serve, place an egg on each slice of toast and top with sauce. Garnish with a little parsley.

Yes, I know. The day I plan to take photos my sauce flops. Still tastes fab, but lacks body. I added the nuttelex too quickly.
You could also serve with slices of deli chicken.

Variations:
Dairy - Use unsalted butter in the sauce.
Amines - Use salt cured ham or smoked salmon.

If you are serving this up for guests that don't have restrictions use slices of toasted baguette and ham or salmon for under the eggs. They probably wont notice the sauce isn't the real thing. I don't really like the taste of nuttelex and was worried it would taste terrible, but I happily devoured this sauce.

Wednesday, 8 August 2012

Nanna's Cake

My mum is really great about cooking for us when we go there and always making sure she has snacks or something for the kids. This is a cake she has made on several occasions. It is nice for afternoon tea and lovely for dessert. Last night she made a rice milk custard to pour over it too. Everyone likes it except for my daughter who is quite the fuss pot.

She adapted it from some recipe she had cut out of a magazine ages ago. The original recipe was for a Pineapple Streusel Cake, but it now contains pears.

One thing I like to try to do with this blog is have recipes that are good for Failsafe beginners or for people wanting to cook something for failsafe guests. So I try to have some things that don't require a large quantity of strange ingredients and things that will only be used once and the go bad in the pantry. This cake fits that bill very well.

Photos were taken on my phone, so please excuse the quality


Pear Streusel Cake
Ingredients
  • 2/3 cup gluten free flour blend (like Orgran)
  • 1 1/4 tsp baking powder (or use self raising flour)
  • 100g nuttelex
  • 1/3 cup caster sugar
  • 2 eggs lightly beaten
  • 5 tinned pear halves, chopped small and lightly crushed with a fork.
Struesel Topping
  • 30g nuttelex
  • 1/3 cup gluten free flour
  • 1/4 cup caster sugar
Method 
  1.  Preheat oven to 170˚C
  2.  Lightly grease a 20cm round cake tin and line the base with baking paper
  3. Beat flour, baking powder, nuttelex, sugar and eggs in a bowl with electric mixer until well combined.
  4. Stir in pears
  5. Spoon into tin
  6. Make the streusel topping by rubbing the nuttelex into the flour until it resembles bread crumbs, then mix in the sugar.
  7. Sprinkle the topping over the cake.
  8. Bake for about 50 mins or until cooked when tested with a skewer.
Serve warm with custard or cold on it's own.

Leftovers also make a nice lunch box treat