Tuesday, May 31, 2011

a few of my favourite things... {May 2011}

Doesn't that just put a smile on your face? That's one of Ada's latest master pieces. One of my favourites.

We've had a little bit of a strange week around here, lots of runny noses, sore throats and sleepless nights. On top of that my cooking has been completely off (can I blame that on this cold?). I had planned on sharing a recipe for pear and ginger cobbler, but the end result was not even edible, let alone shareable. These things happen. I'll get over it, but while I do I thought I'd bide my time with a favourites list. I've only ever done one before and absolutely love reading other peoples. These are just a few of the things that have tickled my fancy lately...
Saturday, May 28, 2011

So I've been thinking...

Lately I've been receiving many emails from readers asking a whole range of questions, like; where do I buy my gluten-free flours, to info on going dairy-free, questions about my photo's and also a fair few companies/blogs asking if I do link exchanges or product reviews. I love receiving emails and have no problems replying to all that I receive at the moment. But for the sakes of not repeating myself...

I've been thinking I'm going to write up a FAQ page on here, just so you all have a quick reference to the most asked questions. And I was just going to put it out there, if you have been meaning to write to ask something, now is your time! Ask away people. Say you want to know why I tend to cook with butter nowadays when this started out as a gluten and dairy-free blog? You want to know the explanation for a term or word I use often, whether it's a cooking term or a "kiwi" term. For you foreign readers, by kiwi, I mean New Zealander... I had no idea until I read this that people living out of NZ have no idea what I'm talking about when I refer to us as kiwi's! 

I will do my best to answer all the questions I receive, do a post on it soon, and then add it as a page for handy reference.

Email any burning questions to me at mydarlinglemonthyme@gmail.com

Arohanui xxx emm
Wednesday, May 25, 2011

miso-curry butternut squash with tofu + cavolo nero recipe

miso-curry butternut squash with tofu + cavolo nero

Few people have made an impression on my life lately as much has Heidi Swanson. If it wasn't for her cookbook Super Natural Cooking I may have never found her blog 101cookbooks, I may never have found my fellow tribe of food bloggers lovers and I know I would have never thought to start my own blog. I also know I am not alone in my admiration of her as millions throughout the world hang off her every word and salivate over every picture she takes.

Her latest cookbook Super Natural Every Day has just come out and as anticipated has completely blown me away. Her simple, flavourful, easy-to-prepare recipes, interspersed by her moody photographs of her everyday life in San Francisco make this an instant success. Reading her book is like spending a day along side Heidi herself, as she grabs you by the hand and takes you on a tour of her town and her home, guiding you from pantry, to fridge and then to her stove where she shows you how to throw a simple dish together with the style and flair she is well known for. I mean, brown butter is nothing new right? It has been made and eaten for centuries. But in Heidi’s hands, rather than being reserved only for pasta dishes flavoured with sage, it instead comes drizzled atop a steaming bowl of oatmeal, studded with prunes, hazelnuts and yoghurt. 

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Friday, May 20, 2011

spiced potato wedges with oregano, paprika and chilli recipe

Things are getting decidedly wintery around here lately. Today, as I type it’s raining and the blustering winds have a definite icy chill to them. I don’t know about you, but when it’s cold outside all I feel like doing is huddling indoors hands outstretched over the stove top as dinner cooks.

At least once a week I make a batch of chunky potato wedges for dinner. Mostly, they are little more than potatoes with a good glug of olive oil, a sprinkling of sea salt and black pepper. However, lately I’ve been making these spicy wee numbers. There’s a lovely warming (and very welcome) heat from the chilli flakes, sweetness from the paprika and a little tang from the lemon wedges that sit snugly alongside the potatoes as they bake. Whole cloves of garlic roast down to a paste, ready to be squeezed free of their skins at your discretion, while red onion, bay leaves and plenty of extra virgin olive oil round off this spicy little autumn number nicely.

Tomorrow marks the end of Allergy awareness week in NZ, while May is coeliac awareness month elsewhere in the world. As part of Allergy New Zealand’s promotional work, awhile back I was asked if I'd like to contribute a few of my gluten and dairy-free recipes that have featured on this blog, and was stoked this week to hear they made it to the cover of the life magazine lift out- in the Dominion Post. It is my hope that by getting my recipes out there, people who are struggling with allergies and intolerances will realise that being gluten and dairy-free does not need to mean deprivation. With a little knowledge, a few resources and a tonne of enthusiasm, gluten and dairy-free cooking can be as tasty, if not tastier than wheat-laden foods. And generally speaking, if prepared at home, will be of much superior nutritional quality than many store-bought products. Be it wheat or gluten-free.
Sunday, May 15, 2011

gluten-free chocolate spider-web cake recipe for my little man...

This Friday just gone we celebrated my little mans third birthday. Without getting too sappy… for us mums, this is huge. It really does feel like just yesterday that I was pregnant with him, and I know I will never forget the look on Ada’s cute little face as she awoke (at 2am) to find a new addition to our family. Thankfully for me she had managed to sleep through the whole birth, blissfully asleep in her bed only 20 feet away, as I pushed and heaved and yelled from the birthing pool we had set up on the kitchen floor.

It still amazes me how much someone who has only been around for 3 years can know. And it astounds me to think of how many more years I have been around, but still he sometimes out-smarts me.

We just had a low-key party at home with Si, the kids and I. Nothing major, but just the way I like it. When we had talked about what kind of cake he might like, Kye mentioned he would love a bright red spider-man cake. I said no way. He got a (brown) spider-web cake topped with his favourite toy of the moment. He still loves me.

This cake has become my go-to kid’s birthday cake recipe, adapted from my first ever blog posts, chocolate pear cake. It's super easy, uses readily available ingredients and nothing too expensive (if you choose to use a regular icing-sugar based icing, that is). It can be dressed up or down, iced in what ever icing you want. If you are after a fully gluten and dairy-free cake, simply replace my ganache icing with a regular icing-sugar based one. And best of all, this cake is not so overly sweet that you don’t feel like going back for seconds, which of course is just expected when it’s a birthday, right? 

Tuesday, May 10, 2011

vietnamese pickles recipe

I want to start off today’s post by just saying a quick little thank you to everyone that commented on my last post. You’re all too sweet. Also just to let you know, in case you were wondering what the world was coming to… it isn’t often that we get comments like those, 99% of the time it’s just me feeling like we are being a pain in butt, and not so much people actually commenting. Mostly, everyone I know has been nothing but supportive of our dietary restrictions, especially those who have seen first hand how our kids reacted when they were younger.
So thank you lovely friends and family. Xxx

Right, let’s talk pickles. 

Way back when I was just starting my cooking career, my first job was at a little café in my hometown of Raglan, New Zealand. I started out there as a keen little 16-year-old, working on the weekends and in my school holidays, washing dishes and doing basic kitchen prep. I was the baby of the team and loved going to work to discover all the new and wonderful foods being cooked up. As this was my first kitchen job, the only food I really knew up until this point was my mums (which is amazing, just very New Zealand). So when my (half Malaysian) boss started introducing me to Asian ingredients and dishes it just about blew my mind! I still remember the first time she took me into Hamilton, the city near home, to go shopping at the Asian supermarket. The smells and assortment of weird and wonderful ingredients still to this day amazes me. I can often be found, wandering around Asian supermarkets; picking up items, smelling them, turning the packet from one side to the other, inspecting it, trying to figure out what it is and how I can use it.
One day in the kitchen Patti, my boss, passed me a little deep-brown, sticky nugget of tamarind. I had never heard of it before. I think I must have screwed up my nose or something, because she then said, go on try it Emm, you’ll love it, it’s sweet and sour at the same time! To this day, it is still one of my favourite things to eat. Either in dishes or as Patti had once given it to me, as a little nugget pulled straight from the block. 
Wednesday, May 4, 2011

little pumpkin cakes with caramel cream cheese icing recipe

I have heard on more than one occasion people commenting on how unfair it is that I don’t just let my kids eat what ever they want. Why don’t you just let them be kids? They will end up being the fussiest eaters when they grow up, you know. It must be so hard eating they way you do, they must feel really deprived. Yes. I hear you.

It may seem like I’m the big bad, over-the-top hypochondriac mother who is so scared of the world that I won’t let my kids just eat whatever. Some may even call me a control freak. A few have. But I’m not. I’m just a mum, who wants my kids to be happy, pain and excema-free. It’s that simple. If it means we have to eat a certain way, then so be it. I think if anyone should be moaning about it, it should be the kids right? But they don’t. I make sure of that by cooking for them whatever their little hearts desire; you want pizza? Sure, I’ll make you a version you can eat. You want cake? Sure, how about sweet little gluten-free pumpkin cakes with caramel cream cheese icing?

Deprivation. I think not.

The only time I've ever really felt like the grinch who stole kids happiness, is when a Mr Whippy van drove down our street recently. Ada knows from one time before when it went past that she couldn’t eat anything on offer. She simply peered out the window and murmured I hope Mr Whippy makes his cones gluten-free one day mum. My heart broke.

I have such fond memories of staying with my aunt and uncle in Auckland (the big city to my small-town eight-year-old self). Hearing the faint jingle from down the road, running out as fast a we could just in case we somehow missed it, to get a ice cream cone, flake topped if we were lucky. 

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