(GF) Words of Wisdom

I was meeting up with a mum of a teenage daughter who was newly diagnosed with coeliac disease. Before our rendez-vous, I asked my gf son for some words of advice for me to take along, which he gave candidly and quickly:

  1. You do get used to it
  2. Baking paper… lots of it
  3. The mums get more stressed than you do

So there it is in a nutshell.  My son’s words of wisdom were spot on and I haven’t taken the third point too much to heart.

While it is now four years since KJ was diagnosed, I totally understood the place this mum was in : overwhelmed and devastated.  At the time of diagnosis, I didn’t know what to expect, how to do what we needed to do, who to talk to. Nor did I know how to calmly deal with this change.

Over  a cup of coffee, this mum and I chatted: about the lead up to diagnosis; a rather unhelpful visit to the dietitian;  how to convert eating patterns and change cooking preparation routines; the best biscuit recipe,store bought bread and pasta brand. I loaned her some recipe books, I took along the packaging of some of our favourites, I bagged up biscuits and snacks for taste testing.

And in a nutshell, it is the mothers (or main care givers) of children with coeliac disease who need support and age specific advice on products, recipes and  school lunches.  Additionally, as a parent of a teenager,  one might be tip toeing through the emotional minefield of the teenage years and then a coeliac disease is like a bombshell that one didn’t see coming.

So today is my blog anniversary.  My focus is still the same: to give help and advice to other parents of teenagers with coeliac disease and to make the blog my box full of goodies to share.

 

Ricotta Recipes

Gluten free cooking and baking makes us better cooks.  

Gnocchi ..

We learn to seek out new recipes, try out new meals and experiment with new ingredients.

Ricotta is one such ingredients and it can be used in sweet and savoury dishes.  It is easy to handle and forgiving so if you are looking to broaden some of your meal choices, then give ricotta a go. Here are some of my favourite ricotta recipes:

1. Honey Lemon Ricotta Cakes

2. Ricotta Gnocchi

Gnocchi.

3. Pancakes

IMG_2225

4. Baked Ricotta

5. Savoury Fritters

Ricotta Fritters

6. Passionfruit Ricotta Flan

Passionfruit

7. Ricotta Dumplings

Ricotta Dumplings 2

8. Dark Chocolate Coconut Cheesecakes

Chocolate Coconut Cheesecakes (3)

9. Red Velvet Cheesecakes

Red Velvet

10. Ricotta, Raspberry and Passionfruit Curd Terrine

I am yet to find time to try this recipe, but it is oh so tempting.

GF Snacks and Treats

What are the popular gluten free snacks in my house?

If you would have asked me this question three years ago or three months ago, I might have given you a different answer.  There are many reasons for a change in eating patterns and habits but gluten free eaters are like the mainstream eaters, they like to have a change.

Gluten free eating is restrictive by its very nature and so an important lesson this mother has learnt is that you have to vary what snacks you have on offer in the house.

So this month Carman’s Greek Yoghurt and Blueberry Bars are disappearing quickly out of the cupboard.  Liked by gluten free and non gluten free eaters alike.

Frugo’s had lost ground in my house for a few months, but they are popular again as a ‘grab a packet while heading out the door’ snack.

Mini Snickers and Turkish Delights have also come back into vogue.  It might be that they have been a  recent ‘special’ and therefore cheaper or it might be because I have a weakness for Turkish Delight and I’ll use any excuse to have them in the snack basket.

Menz Gluten Free Honeycomb available in The Reject Shop and Coles is a handy item to know about.  With few chocolate products gluten free or without a warning statement about gluten, this one is worthwhile knowing about.  A friend will be having her two grandaughters (both coeliac)  visit over the school holidays, so I made sure I put an extra packet in my shopping trolley so that she would have a gluten free treat for them.

 

Italian Almond Bread

IMG_3945

Gluten Free Almond Bread is a bit of a challenge especially if you have made it pre-gluten free days but this recipe was on my ‘to do’ list.

It is one of those gluten free baked products that as long as you don’t expect it to be exactly like it used to be, then all is good.

It is more difficult to slice thinly so my first effort is a bit clumsy.

Ingredients

3 egg whites

210 g caster sugar

205 g plain flour

120 g flaked almonds

Method

Preheat oven to 180C (160C fan forced). Grease and line a bar cake tin (8 cm x 26cm)

In a bowl, beat egg whites with an electric mixer until soft peaks form.

Gradually add sugar, one tablespoon at a time, beating until sugar dissolves firm peaks form.

Fold in sifted flour then nuts.  Spread into pan.

Preheat oven to 150C (130 C fan forced).

Bake for 30-40 minutes.  Cook in pan. Wrap bread in foil and refrigerate overnight.

Using a serrated bread knife, cut bread into 3 mm slices, place slices onto baking trays lined with baking paper.

Bake for 15 minutes or until crisp.

Online Gluten Free Shopping

 

Q: Where do I shop?

A: Depends….

Yes gluten free shopping depends on likes and dislikes, price, accessibility and convenience

While Coles and Woolworths are my main two supermarkets, I have a couple of online shops that I buy from as well.  I might pay a little more for freight, but if you find a product that works for your gluten free eater, then it is worth it.  In those early days of diagnosis, when gluten free was so overwhelming, I visited every possible local shop and deli searching for gluten free products.  This was part of my research, to find out what our options were.  In time, I have settled into a routine.  We have in our minds, our ‘gluten free’ shopping list with where to buy the relevant product.  Why is it that Woolworths only sell Burgen Gluten Free White Bread and Barilla Gluten Free Pasta whereas Coles only sells Jase’s small Gluten Free Pizzas. And sometimes it is easier to order my  ‘Well & Good ‘ gf flours and bread mixes from Gluten Free Direct rather than have to make a special and inconvenient trip to a health food store inside our largest shopping centre.

I’d like to think that there is merit in the concept of  gluten free shoppers in small towns/suburbs  forming  co-operatives and buying online in bulk.

Here a a couple of  places for online gluten free shopping:

El Cielo – an online Mexican shop with tostadas, corn chips and corn tortillas

Live Free Gluten Free – offering bread, pastry and chicken seasoning mixes

The Gluten Free Shop – is the perfect online gluten free shop for people living regionally or remotely

Absolutely Gluten Free – for a range of products including Schar Pizza Bases

Gluten Free Direct – online supplier of ‘Well & Good’ gluten free products: bread, cake, biscuit mixes and Pudding in a Mug

House of Biskota – order online from a range of 11 gluten free biscuits

Gluten Free Triple Chocolate Cookies

Buckwheat Triple Choc

Another good reason to love the blogging community

None of us like waste, so when you make a dessert that only uses egg yolks, one must also make something to use up the egg whites.  If you need 1/2 cup Buttermilk, then you go looking for another recipe using Buttermilk.

I take this approach with a number of ‘gluten free’ ingredients I keep in the pantry and Buckwheat is one of these ingredients.  I like making Buckwheat Bread but because a small quantity of buckwheat is used, I look for other recipes using Buckwheat. More importantly, I try to limit the number of single origin gluten free flours in my pantry so as to limit waste.  In the main I use a blended plain and self raising gluten free flours and also keep almond meal, cornmeal and buckwheat flour in the pantry.  Unless you are baking on a large scale or unless you are in the catering industry, then I think it is more practical to keep things simple.

Thank you Amy from Buckwheat for your Health who posted a link to HayleyEatsBlog for Nigella’s Triple Chocolate Cookies  because I now have another great reason to use buckwheat  flour.  So many great reasons  to  love the blogging community.

Here are just a few recipes using buckwheat…

  1. Nigella’s Triple Chocolate Cookies   A brownie come cake come biscuits and absolutely yummy and decadent
  2. Galettes 
  3. Buckwheat Bread
  4. Buckwheat Blinis
  5. Gluten Free Crackers

 

 

Parmesan Crisps

Parmesan

 

Cheesy.Salty.Crispy

How simple are these!

Pre-heat oven to 160 C.

Grate parmesan cheese.

Place a baking sheet of paper onto an oven tray.  Draw tea cup size circles on the paper.  Turn paper over.  Fill the circles with grated cheese.  Place in oven until golden.  Remove from tray with a spatula and place onto a cake rack to cool and harden.  Keep in an air-tight container.  You can place circles over a rolling pin to make crescent shapes.

(from Gillian Hirst The Courier Mail Tuesday, October 20, 2009)

 

Sharing – A Box Full of…

El Cielo (3)

Today I received my box full of ….. gluten free Mexican goodies: Totopos (Corn Chips), Tostaditas (Deep Fried Tortillas), White Corn Tortillas, Blue Totopos (Corn Chips).  It is almost three years since I launched my blog so upon opening my box full of gluten free Mexican goodies from El Cielo, I reflected back to our first box full of gluten free goodies  and my first blog post.

My blog was inspired by my friend Mandy’s gluten free box full of goodies she sent  my son when he was first diagnosed. And my blog became my box full of…. gluten free goodies: recipes, experiences, products, travel tips and short cuts.

So today’s share is  El Cielo’s range of gluten free Mexican foods.

While we generally make do with supermarket corn chips and tortillas  my ‘regular eating son’ recently talked about the Tostaditas  I had purchased in Melbourne at Casa Iberica . Cooked in Rice Bran oil, these tostaditas were crisp and crunchy and memorable.  I promised that I would ‘look around’ and see what I could find.  I contacted Latin Taste the makers of the tostaditas and they referred me to El Cielo and their on-line shop . If you live in Melbourne you can go to their pick up points in Port Melbourne or South Melbourne.  Take a look also at their recipes.  Mexican lasagne made with tortillas is a great concept and the Mexican Rice recipe took me back to my childhood and my mother’s ‘Garlic Rice’.

El Cielo (2).JPG

With a marinated pork shoulder basted and resting in the fridge to go in the slow cooker for dinner tonight, I know that the stars have been aligned and now we can have not only pulled pork but pulled pork on crisp and crunchy tostaditas.

Pork and Sage Cassoulet

pork

Pork: I think roast,  pork belly or spare ribs.

But pork is not a meat I  regularly put in my shopping trolley.

Maybe it is  because I fear its blandness and I don’t know how to enhance its flavours.

I read in a hospitality magazine recently about Australian Pork’s  multi-million dollar campaign to encourage Australians to eat more pork including 6 – 2 – 2 Method for the perfect pork steak. And their recipe catalogue   includes inspiration with recipes for  Plum and Soy Butterfly Pork, Pork Tikka Coconut Curry and Caramelised Chilli Pork Belly.      Food for thought and recipes for future dinners.

The recipe below  is from Coles.com and uses two cuts of pork.  It is full of flavour and a perfect winter’s dinner.

Pork and Sage Cassoulet 

Ingredients

1 tin cannelloni beans, drained

2 tablespoons olive oil

500 g gf pork sausages

500 g pork spare ribs, rind removed and cut into 3 cm pieces

1 brown onion, coarsely chopped

4 garlic cloves, crushed

1 cup dry white wine

2 x 400 g can diced tomatoes (1 x 400g pressure cooker)

2 cups chicken stock (1 cup pressure cooker)

2 thyme sprigs

1 ½ tablespoons finely chopped sage

2 dried bay leaves

Method****

Heat 1 tablespoon  oil in a large oven proof casserole dish over medium heat.

Add the sausages.  Cook turning occasionally for 8 – 10 minutes or until browned all over.  Transfer to plate.  Thickly slice diagonally.

In batches, add ribs and cook for 5 minutes or until browned all over. Transfer to plate

Preheat oven to 140 C.

In dish, add onions, garlic and cook until onion softens.  Add the wine and bring to the boil.  Cook for 3 minutes or until wine reduces by half.

Return pork and sausages to the dish together with tomatoes, stock, thyme, sage and bay leaves.  Stir to combine.++++

Remove from heat and stir through drain beans.

Bake, covered in oven for 1 ½ hours or until meat is very tender.

Increase oven temperature to 180C.  Bake, uncovered for 30 minutes.

****Alternatively, you can use a pressure cooker and reduce liquid as above.  Proceed in a pressure cooker to +++++ Pressure for 30 minutes.  Stir through beans and transfer everything to a oven proof dish. Bake uncovered for 30 minutes in a 180C.  Stir half way through so keep beans moist.  

Pork and Sage.JPG

Salad Dressings

Salad Dressings (2)

Spicy.Tangy.Zesty

Make a statement with your salad dressings.

No need to buy expensive store bought dressings as without too much effort fridge and pantry ingredients can be used to jazz up your salad.

Lemon and Chive

6 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil

2 tablespoons white wine vinegar

Zest of lemon

1 tablespoon finely chopped chives

Red Wine and Mustard

6 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil

2 tablespoons red wine vinegar

1 clove garlic crushed

2 teaspoons seeded mustard

Thai Citrus and Chilli Dressing

2 tablespoons lime juice

2 tablespoons fresh orange juice

2 teaspoons caster sugar

1 teaspoon fish sauce

Smashed Tomato Dressing

200 g cherry tomatoes

¼ cup chopped fresh basil

1 clove garlic, roughly chopped

2 tablespoons lemon juice

6 tablespoons olive oil
Place tomatoes, basil, garlic and lemon juice in a food processer and whizzed until combined.  Slowly add olive oil while motor is running.  Salt and pepper to taste.

Honey, Herb, Orange and Balsamic Dressing

½ cup extra virgin olive oil

1 tablespoon balsamic vinegar

1 tablespoon clear runny honey

1 tablespoon orange juice

2 teaspoons chopped mint

Mustard Mayonnaise

Equal parts of mayonnaise, seeded mustard and white vinegar

Thai Chilli Dressing

½ cup lime juice

2 teaspoon fish sauce

3 tablespoons brown sugar

2 large chillies, deseeded and finely chopped

Continental Dressing

¼ cup extra virgin olive oil

2 tablespoons lemon juice (can substitute balsamic vinegar)

1 teaspoon brown sugar

Asian Dressing

½  teaspoon sesame oil

2 teaspoons soy sauce

1 tablespoon olive oil

1 tablespoon caster sugar

¼ cup white vinegar

Slaw Dressing

¼ cup mayonnaise

¼ cup light sour cream

2 tablespoons red wine vinegar

1 teaspoon wholegrain mustard

Honey Soy Dressing

¼ cup olive oil

1 tablespoon soy sauce

1 teaspoons honey

2 teaspoons caster sugar

¼ teaspoon sesame oil

Balsamic and Mustard Dressing

1/3 cup extra virgin olive oil

2 tablespoons balsamic vinegar

1 teaspoon Dijon mustard

1 teaspoon sugar

 

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