I felt up for a challenge so I thought of trying my hand at making gluten free puff pastry. I’ve seen UK chef, James Martin, make it on TV and it does take a bit of elbow grease but technically it is not too demanding. If you are a bit impatient like me, then perhaps buying commercially available pastry may be the go but in Sydney it can set you back $9! Nevertheless I did give it a shot and it took ages but the results were still impressive despite lacking the puffiness between the layers of pastry. I followed the recipe at artofglutenfreebaking.com which is extremely detailed so I won’t be re-posting it here. However, I substituted the flour for a GF Aldi flour mix supplemented with Orgran’s Gluten Substitute. Perhaps the Australian summers are too warm but I felt that the butter kept melting too fast and half the time I was chilling it and adding tons of tapioca starch to keep it from sticking to my table. Also the lack of gluten makes it difficult to roll the pastry out without splitting it so keep an eye out on that too!
The pastry still made a good pot pie with a crunchy, crumbly top that still resembled the flaky layers of puff pastry but just didn’t rise enough. I popped the rest of the unused pastry in the freezer for another time. So what follows is my recipe for a beef pot pie.
300g (ish) good quality beef, diced (I used cut up eye fillet)
2 medium sized carrots, peeled and chopped (moderate salicylates)
2 sticks of celery, chopped
1/4-1/2 leek, halved and chopped
2 cloves garlic
3 heaped teaspoons cornflour
In a pan fry the beef on high heat with a little oil to seal all the sides but don’t worry about cooking it all the way through. This is to keep the juices in as you will still need to bake it later. If you can tolerate it, brown it on all sides otherwise do as little browning as possible while attempting to seal in the juices. Once done place on a plate and set aside.
On medium heat, fry off the garlic and leek till the leek goes translucent and everything becomes aromatic. Then add in the carrots and celery and sautee till carrots are tender.
Once tender turn the heat to low and add the beef and any juices that leaked out on the plate back in with the vegetables. Add the cornflour and mix well, try to ensure there are no big clumps of cornflour.
Add a splash of water and allow it to thicken to form a gravy. You may need to adjust thickness to your liking by adding more cornflour to thicken or more water to thin it. Season well with salt.
Transfer everything into an ovenproof dish and then roll out your pastry and cover the top of the dish and trim off the excess pastry. Feel free to do nice pastry decorations here too! Brush some melted butter on top of the pastry to help golden it. Poke some steam holes in the top and bake at 180ºC till the pastry is golden and is crispy (about 30-45 minutes for my oven because it is a terrible oven).
Serve with some steam green beans and roasted potatoes.
Find the best quality beef and a cut that is normally very tender as you are cooking it for a while. Ask your butcher as they will know which would be the best. It isn’t always the most expensive cut!
You can always substitute in other vegetables and meat to your taste preference! Take out the carrots if you can’t tolerate salicylates and try swedes instead.
Wrap unused pastry (not rolled out yet) in cling film and store it in the freezer till you want to use it next.
I used butter but I think it could also be done with Nuttelex if you need to be dairy free.
I have to first start off by apologising for having such a long and unannounced hiatus. It’s been a crazy couple of months with trying to finish my PhD and starting a new part-time job. Nevertheless I have a backlog of experimental recipes to write about. Also in the last few months I have been on medication to help my skin which means I am able to eat more freely so the shift of the recipes will away from the strict elimination diet but as always will be modifiable.
This chicken sauce is a mixture of the stock standard sauces that probably will be in your fridge by now. We grill a lot of our chicken which means less cleaning up and you don’t have to stand there watching it. Also, we use thigh fillets as we find that the meat doesn’t dry out as much as chicken breast normally will.
French toast aka eggy bread is a great breakfast/brunch treat. When ever I have a loaf of GF bread and some time, I love to have this to start the day. You will fill fuller for longer as you are getting carbs plus protein! It is super easy, pretty fast and can look really fancy.
The last stop on the road trip around America in May was San Francisco. My boyfriend and I drove from Denver down to the Grand Canyon and back up the Californian coast. We decided to fly out from here so we could meet up a friend that came to Sydney for a short project last year. Also, there are direct flights from San Fran to Sydney (San Fran and LA are the only direct flights from Sydney that I know of). So for a month we have been having American style coffee which is a lot weaker than what we have here as drip coffee seems to be their thang.
We were just killing some time in Portola, San Fran and stumbled across this little cafe tucked away at the end of a dead end road. It’s called Four Barrel Coffee. You can check out their site here.
It was so different to all the Starbucks around. It was more like home! Think the coffee shops in Sydney and Melbourne. I ordered a decaf long black which fit in with my low salicylate diet whilst my boyfriend ordered an espresso, or maybe it was a double? I liked the coffee as it wasn’t as strong as the long blacks in Sydney but not as watery as Starbucks Americanos. I actually don’t drink that much coffee so I don’t know if it was “good” or not but that is subjective right? In addition to coffees they also served teas and toast with a variety of spreads from almond butter to cinnamon sugar.
Service here was friendly and vibe trendy. It seems to be a renovated warehouse and keeps up with trend of keeping things raw and industrial. We came near lunchtime and it was practically empty (unlike home!) so service was also prompt. The front of the cafe catches the sun so we decided to sit outside where some stools were set up. It was such a nice and warm day, actually bordering on hot! Was really the great way to end the trip. It got our taste buds ready for the coffee awaiting back in Sydney
Four Barrel Coffee, Portola is located at 2 Burrows Street, San Francisco. It opens 7am-4pm everyday.
Dad just bought another box of pears at the market for $2! I know, it is a bit crazy isn’t it? Now we have a surplus of pears and I literally just finished making a batch of pear roll ups and I am stocked up on all my sauces… Too many pears and they are all ripening really fast! I decided to try make an apple pie but just substitute out the apple and put pears in instead. It worked out pretty well! I am not great with following recipes so I winged it this time around but here is the gist of it. I took a recipe for the pastry from the Taste.com.au website which was a plus because I could skip using the egg whites which is what my boyfriend thinks makes his hands itchy.
125g nuttelex, chilled and cubed (I used butter for this one)
1/3 cup caster sugar
1 egg yolk
A bit less than 1/4 cup cold water
8-9 small ripe pears (or enough to fill your pastry), peeled, cored and diced.
1/2 teaspoon of citric acid (adjust to taste)
Place flours, sugar and nuttelex in a food processor. Pulse for a bit and then blend on low till it resembles bread crumbs. You might need to stop and mix up the flour at the bottom.
Add the egg yolk and water and process till it forms a dough.
Take it out and knead into a ball and then wrap in cling film and refrigerate for 30 minutes till firm.
Peel your pears and dice. If they are really ripe and soft like mine, then dice into larger cubes so they don’t turn into mush. If they are still a little firm still then go smaller so they can cook a bit when you bake the pie. If you have the type of pears that are hard then you will need to dice and then cook them on the stove till they are tender, just add a touch of water into the saucepan to avoid burning.
Add the citric acid to the pears and mix well.
When the dough is cooled take 2/3 of the mix and roll it out between two sheets of baking paper till it is about an inch bigger than your tart tin. Peel off the paper every now and again to avoid deep cracks and fix cracks as you go.
When it is big enough roll it onto your rolling pin and roll it on top of your tin. Push it in and fix up the edges.
Put the pear mix into the pastry shell, don’t put any of the juice at the bottom to avoid a soggy pastry.
Now roll out the last 1/3 of the dough cut into thin strips with a knife of a pizza cutter and criss-cross them on the top of the pie. Apply pressure to stick the dough together at intersections and the edge of the pastry.
If you want, you can brush the top of the pastry with the egg white or melted butter. I skipped this so it didn’t brown as much.
Bake in the oven at 180°C for 40-45 minutes or until pastry is golden brown.
Allow to cool and serve warm!
Serve with some vanilla custard or whipped cream. If we had Rice Dream ice cream, that would be perfect… Or maybe you could dust with some powdered sugar.
My parents and I found it tasted exactly like apple pie! Hope you enjoy it!
Whenever I am wanting something new to eat I look to Asian cooking for some inspiration as it is normally gluten free when you minus all the sauces! Asian cooking and Asian ingredients tend to be gluten free as is mainly a rice based diet (yay!). I think vermicelli is an under utilised ingredient in GF cooking. It is a thin noodle made of just rice and water and dried into a little cake. You can find this in any Asian grocery store. The Asian imports won’t be GF certified but some well known brands like Chang’s are, which you can find in major supermarkets.
To prep vermicelli all you do is soak the dried noodle in boiling water till it is soft. Usually about 10 minutes or so. Just break it up when it starts to soften so the heat cooks the middle.
Soak the vermicelli in boiling water for 10-15min till soft. Break up the noodles to ensure even cooking.
Drain the noodles when cooked. The dryer the better as they becomes more sticky when they are dry and help with keeping the fritter shape. If you are impatient like me then just use some paper towel to get it as dry as you can.
Mix the spring onions and cabbage with the noodles (and the carrot if you are using it).
Pop some oil into a pan on medium heat. You will need enough to cover the bottom of your pan. Shallow frying makes it crispier! Place the noodle mix into the oil and flatten out.
When it becomes golden brown and crunchy then flip them over.
When the other side is crunchy take it out and place it on some paper towel to blot off the oil.
I don’t remember exactly the time when lemon meringue pies became my favourite dessert but it had to be relatively recent because I don’t normally like sweets. I used to make this pie quite often prior to meeting my coeliac boyfriend but since then I have eased off. This recipe was the first time I tried to make my own pastry which was so satisfying and actually not that hard! Since finding out I am sensitive to salicyates (amongst other things) I thought I wouldn’t be eating this again but actually with a few tweaks it can be failsafe and gluten free! I can’t remember where I got my first recipe for lemon meringue pie but here is my altered version which is pretty close to the original. There are a number of steps as you will be making three components: the pastry shell, the lemon filling and the fluffy meringue. Don’t be discouraged, its pretty easy!
3/4 cup + 1 tablespoon GF plain flour (I use Aldi’s)
1 tablespoon + 3 teaspoons caster sugar
120g nuttelex cut into pieces (or you can use butter)
1 large egg (~55g+)
4 tablespoons + 3 teaspoons GF cornflour
3/4 cup white sugar
2/3 cup + 2 teaspoons “lemon juice” (use real lemon juice if you are not sensitive to salicylates)
2/3 cup + 1/4 cup water
60g nuttelex cut into pieces (or butter)
3 large egg yolks
3 large egg whites
3/4 cup caster sugar
Place flours, sugar and nuttelex in a food processor. Pulse for a bit and then blend on low till it resembles bread crumbs. You may need to stop and give it a mix as the dry flour tends to sink to the bottom and not become incorporated.
Add egg and process till it is incorporated and the mixture becomes clumpy. Again you may need to mix in the bottom.
Use your hands and knead it to form a dough ball. Slightly flatten it and wrap in cling film. Refrigerate for at least an hour. You need the butter to harden up or it will be too sticky to roll out.
Get two large sheets of baking paper (bigger than your tart tin) and place the unwrapped dough in between.
Roll the pastry and slowly turning and flipping. As you go alternate peeling off the baking paper to check your dough for cracks and holes. Push them together and fix up deep cracks made from the paper. Keep doing this until the pastry is large enough to cover the base of your tart tin and up the edge for the crust.
Once the dough is large enough an easy way to get it into the tin without breaking it is peel off one side of the paper and roll the dough over a rolling pin. Then peel off the other side of baking paper that should be on the top of the rolling pin. Then using the rolling pin, carefully line up the dough and roll it off the pin onto the tin.
Push the dough into the tin and up the sides. Fix it up and make it all fit into the tin.
Place one sheet of the used baking paper on top of the dough and put some pastry weights or rice on top before putting into an oven set at 180°C for 10 mins.
After 10 mins, take out the weight and bake for a further 10-15 mins till golden.
Set aside to cool completely.
In a saucepan, combine cornflour, sugar, lemon juice and water and stir till smooth.
Place the saucepan on medium-high heat and stir constantly until boiling.
Once it starts to boil turn the heat down to low and continue to stir for another 30-40 sec until mixture turns from cloudy to transparent and becomes thick and smooth. This is when the cornstarch cooks.
Remove from heat and vigorously stir in the nuttelex and egg yolks till combined.
Refrigerate till cold.
Once cold, fill the cold pastry shell.
Make sure all your utensils are DRY, this is essential for making meringues.
Place egg white in a large bowl and beat on high.
Gradually add sugar about 2 tablespoons at a time and continue to beat the egg whites,
Continue beating until all the sugar has been added and it has been dissolved. You will know when this is the case is when you rub meringue between your fingers it is smooth and there are no sugar crystals left. It should look thick and glossy.
Top the filled pie with the meringue making peaks and troughs to increase surface area,
Bake for 7-10 mins 200°C or till the meringue is slightly coloured.
Take out the pie and cool before putting it in the fridge to chill. If you cut it while hot the filling will leak out as it will not have set.
Using the Aldi flour blends result in a light and crumbly pastry that is quite fragile. You can experiment with other blends or try adding xanthan gum if you want to get it more like biscuity short crust pastry. I’m not too fussy which is why I never have bothered. It also keeps in the fridge for a few days. You can always adjust the lemon juice if you find it too acidic (or not acidic enough).
Now go and enjoy your pie made from scratch and with love!
The first time I made this bolognese sauce I was ecstatic with the result. It tasted super similar to one made with tomato sauce. My boyfriend was coming to visit so I made a batch and when he rang the door bell I literally ran to him telling him about the sauce. This version isn’t as wet and saucy as using tomato paste but it does balance the tartness and sweetness that tomatoes would normally bring. I normally use beef mince for this and throw in some coarsely chopped veggies that I have on hand. In this case I popped a can of lentils and some cabbage as well.
3 heaped tablespoons of the failsafe “tomato” sauce (more if you feel you need it)
A dash of water
1 tablespoon of canola oil
Sprinkle of parsley for garnish
Heat up a pan with canola oil and fry off the chopped leek and garlic till the leeks soften and becomes nice and fragrant.
Pop in the meat and fry it and break it up as you go along.
Once the meat is cooked add the tomato sauce (it’s just an approximation so go heavy if you like, or do less if you prefer!) and a dash of water if you think it is too thick and dry.
Serve on some gluten free pasta with a sprinkle of chopped parsley to garnish. I like the Orgran Rice Spirals as they are only made with rice and water.
If you would like to add veggies you can pop them in at the beginning with the leek and garlic if it takes a while to cook (things like cabbage). If they are very quickly cooked, and just need a warm through, like canned lentils, then pop them in around the time when you add the tomato sauce.
Sometimes you need a treat. Especially if you have been doing the strict elimination diet! Well done if you have stuck with the diet because it is a KILLER! Honeycomb looks crazy hard to make but honestly it takes about 10 mins. Don’t be put off about working with liquid sugar as it is easy but do be careful not to burn yourself. Invest in a silicone spatula and maybe some cooking oil spray as it will make everything a breeze (and you waste less ingredients!). I bought my spatula from IKEA for about $2 and I honestly use it for everything. A spatula made out of silicone is especially good as it won’t melt at high temperatures such as working with liquid sugar. When working with liquid sugar and syrups a quick spray with cooking oil spray means things don’t get stuck and will just slip right off. This recipe comes from the RPAH Friendly Food book, but I think it’s pretty standard.
Get a tray and line with grease proof paper. Make sure you have it on something heat proof or you will ruin your counter top.
Put sugar, golden syrup and water into a saucepan on low heat. Don’t forget to spray your tablespoon with oil so the golden syrup doesn’t stick!
Stir till sugar dissolves and then bring to the boil for about 5 mins or till it gets to a caramel colour.
The next bit all goes really quick so get your bicarb soda ready. Prep your spatula by spraying it down with a little oil.
Take the syrup off the heat and then add the bicarb soda. It will fluff up like crazy so be careful of steam and will turn a creamy colour. Stir like mad to get all the bicarb soda mixed in (it’s not nice to get a clump of bicarb in your mouth). It will cool really rapidly so once all the bicarb is mixed in pour it onto the greaseproof paper and spread it out a little.
Leave it to cool, it will only take a few mins. When it’s cool you can break it up into shards. Store it in a dry airtight container.
Honeycomb is great on its own, coated with chocolate or carob or I put it in trifle. Honeycomb absorbs moisture and turns to goop so keep it dry.