Saturday, April 30, 2011

carrot & red lentil soup with minted eggplant recipe

With autumn finally creeping in here, I've been feeling the urge to start cooking warm comfort food once more. For a minute there, as the droplets of sweat ran down my back for yet another day, it felt like the intense heat of summer was never going to end. Family and friends back home kept talking of the cold autumn days they are having, bloggers over on the east coast have been posting wonderful warming soup recipes for what feels like ages, all the while, I've sat here in this unrelenting heat that is Perth, sucking on iceblocks and drinking cold water. Aren't us human beings strange creatures? You'd think we'd be happy when it's hot and sunny all the time, god knows we moan enough about it being cold and rainy all winter! But I guess that's the beauty of the seasons, just as you get over one, along comes the next to take it's place...

This week there has been a cool, even cold tinge in the air. Leaves are finally falling, like they were meant to months ago, it's rained (only the second times in 8 weeks) and the crisp morning air has us reaching for socks and jumpers with a sense of urgency we are unaccustomed too.

Something else changed this week. I've been sharing recipes over on a NZ website called for a wee while now, but was aked if I would like to be a contributing "celebrity" blogger on their site. I gave out a little squeal of excitement as I read Antony's email, being place next to so many of my NZ food hero's is something I could have only dreamed of. Don't get me wrong, I am by no means a celebrity like the rest of them, I have no cookbooks or cooking shows on telly and I don't cook at any top restaurants. But what I do hope, is that my gluten-free take on food will help to educate and excite people as much as their food does. Hope is such a wonderful thing.
Tuesday, April 26, 2011

kombucha tea recipe

We've moved into our own house, finally. And it's by far the strangest move I've ever done. Even as an 18 year old, moving out of home I at least had a few possessions, and was moving into an already established house so didn't have to worry about buying all those household things you take for granted. You know; the fridge, the washing machine, the vacuum. As I moved from flat to flat I picked up things along the way so that by the time we brought our own house, there wasn't really anything we needed to buy.

Here, we moved into a completely empty house. Thankfully Si's family have set us up with most of the bigger household items, but for the first week we've sat eating dinner on the floor of our empty dinning room. Words echoing around the bare walls. Si was busy driving here, there and everywhere our first two nights in this house, picking up various items from sisters and brothers, a bed here, a wardrobe there. Car-less, the kids and I made do eating whatever we had in the fridge. Tofu stir-fry has never before been so simple. Carrots, tofu with a splash of soy sauce and sesame oil. Thankfully the kids like things simple. All that being said though, I can't tell you how much I am loving being in our own space once more. The kids are loving the back yard. There's real green grass! Something of a rarity over here in this parched little corner of the world.

Tuesday, April 19, 2011

gluten-free quinoa Anzac biscuit recipe

This year I will miss seeing my Grandad at our local Raglan Anzac parade. Not because he won't be there, I have no doubt about that. It's me. I won't be there.

It's funny; I find the older you get the more you tend to appreciate what our forefathers have done to make our world what it is today. Years ago as a littlie I couldn't think of anything worse than standing around listening to speeches and watching men in uniforms walk up and down the main street. But as the years have passed it has become more and more something I look forward to. It's a day for us to remember and acknowledge all those who have fought and died in the course of service for their country. I still remember a few years back when I stood waiting to see Grandad march. He wasn't anywhere to be seen. I looked and looked and couldn't spot him. It brought a tear to my eye when I finally noticed him sitting up on the stage, no longer strong enough to walk the lap around town. For years he has been telling us his old war stories (he fought in World War 2), I wish I'd listened more carefully and I could have re-told one for you now. But alas, you will have to just make do with this recipe that I've come up with for gluten-free Anzac biscuit instead.
Friday, April 15, 2011

carob tofu bliss balls recipe

Last weekend I managed to sweet talk Si into looking after the kids for half the day so I could explore the city, solo. To say it was a treat is a severe understatement! What was supposed to be 2-4 weeks of staying with family until we found our feet, has quickly passed into 5 and now 6 weeks… making me even more keen for a little space and alone time than usual. Of course me being me all I wanted to do was head into the city to look for gluten-free flours. Geek I know, but one month of no baking has me hankering for something sweet! 

Thanks to a tip off from the lovely Leigh @ toasted I had a fare idea of where I wanted to head. I originally planned to go to Fremantle to check out Kakula’s sisters but decided at the very last minute to have a quick look at Kakula’s brothers in Northbridge instead. I took the train into the city feeling like a nervous first timer. A far cry from my confident public-transport-guru self of 10 years ago. Stopping at Perth central I hoped off with a vague idea of the direction in which to walk. It turned out all I needed to do to stumble on my destination was to simply walk across the road and look out for the large queue of people crowding in and around a dimly lit warehouse style shop.

Monday, April 11, 2011

salt and vinegar kale chip recipe

I know, I know. Before you say anything, I know I'm way behind the eight-ball on last years kale chip craze. Call me out of fashion if you will. I won't take offence.
It's just that I've never had my hands on enough kale at one time to bother with making them :-)
It seemed like every blogger worth their money was waxing lyrical about the wonders of the humble kale chip last year. I read, and read and read more and more about these little chips last year that I felt an expert on the topic without having even had the pleasure of eating them yet!

For someone that doesn't tries not to eat potato chips all that often these are somewhat of a revelation. You know how if you buy natural thin cut crisps with the skin still intact, they shatter into your mouth the second your tongue pushes them in? Well these are just the same. The somewhat thick and chewy nature of raw and even cooked kale simply disappears on baking, rendering them thin, salty and perfectly crisp. You are even left with the same satisfyingly oily mouth-feel, as chippy crumbs fall from you mouth and stick to your hands.
Thursday, April 7, 2011

raw kale salad with garlic feta dressing recipe

I’ve been cooking with kale for a number of years, way back in my Sydney days at Belinda Franks catering, baby cavolo nero was all the rage. The trend took a wee bit longer to hit New Zealand shores but I'd say about 5-6 years ago I noticed it creeping onto menus around the country. My beloved Nana and grandad however, have been cooking and eating it for as long as they can remember, in fashion or not. It's a great source of iron, calcium, vitamin C, K and carotenoids (which provide Vit A). Because it was not readily available for purchase back home in Raglan, the only way I could get my hands on some was to grow my own.

So I did.

For the past three years we have grown at least 2-3 plants, along with cavolo nero, also known as Tuscan kale or laciniato if you’re feeling flash. But here’s the thing… the white butterflies and white flies love kale as much as I. Trying to keep those damn things off my kale was near impossible, so grow I did, but eat I did not. Not often anyway. Occasionally I would have the patients and determination to pick off a handful of leaves only to spend the next half an hour thoroughly scrubbing washing the underside of the leaves where the white flies live. I've always cooked my kale, too scared to dare eat it raw in case I was getting an added and unwanted protein hit of raw bug. I would then proceed to eat it, not really enjoying my meal. The idea of eating bugs not being the most appetizing of thoughts. 

So it was with much happiness and relief that I graciously accepted a (huge) bag of curly “Scots” kale from my sister-in-law the other day. Not one bug in site! I have been thinking about a raw kale salad recipe Heidi posted on her blog late last year, a riff on a raw Tuscan kale salad with chiles and pecorino recipe from Melissa Clark’s cookbook In the Kitchen with A Good Appetite. Heidi’s recipe called for cavolo nero, red pepper flakes and pecorino cheese, but as my tummy doesn’t really do hard cheese’s I’ve gone for a feta cheese flecked dressing instead. The curly kale doesn’t quite have the deep moody colour of cavolo nero and I struggled with the whole thing looking a little 90's curly lettuce naff, but flavour wise they are match for match.

Sunday, April 3, 2011

nettle tea recipe, made just the way I like it...

I have long been a fan of the humble nettle. Not only are they great for cooking with (or so I've read), and for making natural homemade fertiliser, but they are also amazing and personally I think at their best when made into a tea. Steeped overnight it turns into the most magical nutritive tonic out. For vegetarians and meat-eaters alike it packs an amazing multi-vitamin and mineral rich punch, providing Vitamins A, B, C, E & K along with minerals; iron, calcium, potassium, silicic acid, manganese and copper. It stimulates kidney excretions making it the perfect detoxifying tonic and is also amazingly helpful for skin conditions such as eczema. It is known to help relieve premenstrual symptoms and also counters arthritis, rheumatism, tendonitis and other disorders of the muscles and joints. But you wanna know something else cool about nettle tea that is not such common knowledge? It stimulates milk production in breast-feeding mothers. Without going into too much detail (this being a mostly food oriented blog and all) if you feel you are running low on milk supplies, skull a few glasses of this a day and you will have more milk than you know what to do with! I even had to stop drinking my nettle altogether while breast-feeding Kye as I found I had way too much milk, and choked the poor boy. Okay, too much information, sorry.

For us vegetarians, anything containing readily available iron is something not to be missed. While pregnant for the second time in less than two years, you’d think my iron levels would have been plummeting. But drinking a couple of glasses of nettle tea along with my daily 10ml dose of Floradix tonic, my midwife was shocked to announce that my iron levels had actually gone up during pregnancy! She was gob-smacked as most people, even meat eaters lose iron stores while pregnant.

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