Category Archives: Meal Ideas

Cigrons – Chickpeas


Recipes have a story and this is my family’s story

This is our cigron recipe or my mum Ines’s variation of my Nana’s recipe.  We think the vinegar is definitely Mum’s Italian influence and we love its taste. When I visit my granddaughter in Brisbane, Mia always asks – Are you going to make cigrons Avia?  It is one of our special family meals or special occasion meals.  It connects my family to our Catalan heritage in a special way and I feel honoured that I have passed a love of cigrons on to the next two generation.  Should they visit Catalonia, they will be disappointed with the traditional recipe served there.  I have ex flatmates from over 30 years ago who still reminisce about my cigrons.  I have a Namco Pressure Cooker which I bought in 1983 and it has chuff chuffed its way through a few decades and quite a few kilos of chickpeas.



375 to 500 g dried chickpeas

2 – 4 tablespoons olive oil

4 – 6 rashes of bacon, diced

3 – 6 cloves garlic, diced finely

¼ to ½ cup vinegar

Salt and pepper


Rinse the dried chickpeas and then soak them in a bowl of water for at least 8 hours.

Drain chickpeas and place in a pressure cooker with boiled water.  Add a large pinch of salt.

Bring the pot to the boil and scoop off any froth and bubble from the top of the water.

Seal lid and bring up to pressure.  Reduce heat until gentle simmer (about 1/3 heats on my hotplates or a gentle chuff chuff chuff can be heard).  Cook for 30 – 40 minutes.

Remove from heat, release pressure (safely).  If there is too much liquid, reserve excess liquid (freeze to add to soups or pasta sauce or to add back into cigrons).

Meanwhile in a frying pan, heat the olive oil.  Add bacon and fry until cooked.

Add garlic and fry until soft.  Do not allow garlic to brown.

Just before garlic goes brown, add the vinegar.  Simmer the sauce to evaporate off some of the vinegar and/or until sauce is slightly syrupy.

Taste test.  If you need more zing in the sauce, add more vinegar and reduce sauce down again.

Add salt and pepper to taste.

Pour sauce over the chickpeas.  If a little dry, add back some of the reserved chickpea water.  Stir to combine and serve.


Fried Rice


Everyone has their own variation of this recipe so just remember to make it as plain or exciting as the tastes of your guests.

This is my plain version sure to please teenagers who don’t like too many vegetables in their fried rice.


3 tablespoons peanut oil

3 cups jasmine rice

1 onion diced finely

3 rashers bacon, diced

300 g chicken breast sliced finely or 300 g left over roast chicken

1 carrot grated

3 shallots sliced on angle

50 g slivered almonds toasted

3 eggs

Handful of frozen corn and peas

Salt and pepper to taste

2 – 4 tablespoons gluten free soy sauce


Prepare 3 cups jasmine rice as per cooking instructions for rice cooker.

Beat eggs with 1 tablespoon of water and pour mixture into a non stick pan and fry until cooked.  Cool and dice.

Heat 1 ½ tablespoons of oil in large fry pan and then add onion and cook until soft.  Add in bacon and chicken and fry until brown.

Add in rice and 1 ½ tablespoons oil.  Stir to incorporate all ingredients.

Add in carrot, diced egg, peas and corn and stir.

Season with soy sauce and salt and pepper and stir to combine.

Serve rice with a sprinkling of shallots and almonds.

NB Other additions: finely sliced capsicum, celery finely sliced on an angle, cooked prawns, small pieces of broccolini.

Fried Rice

Sticky Garlic Chilli Chicken

Sticky Chillie chicken


I have to confess that generally speaking, for meals, I improvise: a bit of this and a bit of that.  I am lucky to have a wonderful teacher in my mother who cooked according to this style of cooking.  Use fresh ingredients, use what you have in your pantry and fridge, trust your taste buds.

But as my gf son is now cooking for himself, I look for recipes that will suit his budget, has an easy to follow recipe, is versatile  and can be made easily from what he has in-house.

A simple way to prepare vegetables for a stir fry is to immerse them in boiling water quickly and the drain them before tossing them into your stir fry.  The vegetables don’t burn, they remain crisp and their colour is retained.


800 g chicken breast fillets, cut diagonally into 2 cm wide strips

1 1/2 cups jasmine rice

2 bunches steamed, halved Chinese broccoli or Pay Choy (or vegetables of your choice)


¼ cup kecap manis (use gf soy sauce)

2 tablespoons chilli garlic sauce

1 tablespoons fish sauce

2 tablespoons brown sugar

2/3 cup water


Combine all sauce ingredients in a small bowl.

Cook chicken, in two batches, in an oiled large, non-stick frying pan over medium to high heat, for about 3 minutes or until golden.  Remove from pan.

Add sauce to pan and gently boil for 5- 10 minutes.  Return chicken to pan, stir chicken and coat in sauce.  Simmer for 3 – 5 minutes.

While chicken and sauce are cooking, cook rice and steam vegetables.

Serve chicken on a bed of rice and vegetables.

(New Idea : New Food Ideas)


Llenties: Catalan for Lentils



I learnt to eat lentils when I lived with a free spirited flatmate on the Atherton Tablelands.  Jane preferred vegetarian and so one of her mainstays was lentil pasta.  Different and interesting as was the lava rock home her boyfriend lived in which had a sauna but no kitchen sink.

 We have rediscovered lentils after a visit to my cousin Monsterrat in Sabadell near Barcelona.  Miquel her husband served us lentils as one of the many lunch courses and both my husband and I asked for seconds.  Its simplicity gives it its taste: four ingredients and a little time to gently stir.

Miquel’s Llenties

Ingredients for four people
1/2 onion, finely diced
400 g  mashed tomato or can of crushed tomatoes
1/2 kg lentils, cooked as per instructions on packet
1/4 kg mashed meat or black sausage (butifarra), decased Italian sausage, chorizo
Olive oil

Use a big pan (paella) and a bit of olive oil 10 cc aprox.
Cut the onion into small pieces and when oil is hot, put it in the pan.


When the onion is golden, add the butifarra or mashed meat.

Wait until meat or black sausage is melted down.


Add the mashed tomato and mix well with onion and meat.



Add lentils that have been cooked previously.

Wait 10 minutes.

Chickpea Fritters

Chickpea Fritters (1)

These chickpea fritters are cheap to make, vegetable based and easy to assemble.

Chickpea and Sweet Potato Cakes


500 g orange sweet potato, peeled, coarsely chopped

1 x 400 g chickpeas, rinsed and drained

1 brown onion, finely chopped

½ cup chopped fresh coriander

2 tablespoons finely grated parmesan

2 tablespoons gluten free plain flour

Extra finely grated parmesan cheese to coat

Olive oil spray

Mixed lettuce leaves to serve

Sweet chilli sauce to serve


Cook the sweet potato in a saucepan of boiling water for 10 minutes or until tender.  Drain, return to pan and mash until smooth.  Transfer to a bowl. Place in fridge for 30 minutes to cool.

Mash chickpeas or process chickpeas in another bowl.

Combine the chickpeas, onion, coriander, parmesan and flour to the sweet potato. Season with salt and pepper. Divide mixture into 10 portions and shape each into a patty.

Preheat oven to 180 C.

Line a baking tray with baking paper.

Place extra parmesan on a plate and press patties lightly into the parmesan to coat.

Place on the lined tray and spray patties with olive oil.

Bake in oven, turning once, for 30 minutes or until golden.

Serve with lettuce and sweet chilli sauce


Corn, Zucchini and Chickpea Fritters


400 g chickpeas, drained and rinsed

½ cup reduced fat milk

2 eggs

¾ cup gluten free self-raising flour

1 large zucchini, grated

310 g can corn kernals, drained and rinsed

2 tablespoons  chopped mint leaves

3 green onions, thinly sliced

Olive oil cooking spray

Salad leaves and tomato chutney to serve.


Process chickpeas until roughly chopped.  Whisk milk and eggs in a jug.

Place flour in a bowl.  Gradually add milk mixture to flour, whisking until smooth.

Stir in chickpeas, zucchini, corn, mint and onion.

Spray a large frying pan with oil.  Heat over medium-high heat.

Add ¼ cup mixture to pan.  Spread slightly with a spatula. Repeat to make 3 more in the pan.

Cook for 2 – 3 minutes each side or until golden and cooked through.  Transfer to a plate, cover and keep warm.

Repeat with remaining mixture to make 12 fritters.

Serve with salad and chutney.


Matilda’s Pasta

04 10_1127.JPG


Nowadays, one would call this a beef ragu pasta sauce but to us, pasta sauce was just pasta sauce.  There are no apologies for a lack of instructions.  Generally speaking your start with heating the butter and oil then adding the onions and bacon.  Add the meat and then the other vegetables then the liquids and herbs and spices.  You can simmer over low heat until the meat is tender and falls apart or my mum always made her pasta sauce in the pressure cooker… 10 – 12 minutes.  If the sauce is still too liquidy, then simmer until excess liquid is reduced.


Version 1


1/3 block butter

2 medium onions (diced)

Chop rosemary bunch

Chop 2 cloves garlic

1 cup celery (diced)

1 carrot, chopped

½ red capsicum (diced)

Chop end of salami (diced)

2 rashers of streaky bacon (diced)

2 fatty pork chops, trimmed and chopped

1 piece of rump (diced)

1 chicken breast (diced)

Chicken stock

Chilli flakes


All spice (little)

1 bottle Sugo


Tomato paste if needs more red


Version 2

4 oz butter




1 large onion

1 carrot, finely chopped

2 to 3 sticks of celery, finely chopped

2 bacon rashers (diced)

½ capsicum can diced

Rump steak, lean diced

Pork, lean diced

1 bottle tomato salsa – Bertolli

Small glass wine

Chicken stock



All spice

1 teaspoon sugar


Xmas is Just Around the Corner



Xmas is just around the corner or literally just one more turn of the page on the calendar, so  thoughts turn to the Christmas lunch or the Christmas gift…. gluten free of course. And all the extras that go with a family Christmas.

Gift Ideas

Springhill Farm has a gluten free hamper

Smoothie Makers are perfect for all age groups and there are many to choose from on the market.. Nutri Bullet, Magic Bullet. BlitznGo.

Jelly Belly Bean Boozled combines eating jelly beans with a game of chance.

Gingerbread Folk Gluten Free Gingerbread House Kit available online if you can’t buy one in your area or no doubt available in speciality stores in larger cities.

And for more ideas, go to  Yum Gluten Free  for their Christmas Gluten Free Gift Guide.

Also visit my Christmas posts from previous years for a few more ideas.


Menu Ideas

We love our food.  We love our food traditions. We love sharing food with our family. And every year we, family members discuss for many weeks, the answers to the question : WHAT ARE WE GOING TO HAVE FOR CHRISTMAS?  Reality is, that we haven’t had to make too many changes to accommodate a ‘gluten free’ Christmas: gf Worcestershire sauce, gf crackers, gf lasagne sheets, gf cereals for rum balls and Bumble Bees.  Below is a menu from 2013 but I am sure we won’t stray too much from this list.  The phone calls haven’t started yet, but I am looking forward to all that goes with Christmas including the discussions back and forth, the making of lists, the shopping, the planning and then sitting down and enjoying.

Merry Christmas   Bon Nadal   Buon Natale   Joyeux Noël


Robert’s Signature Dip and Bagel Chips

Pesto and Hand Crafted Corn Chips

Devils on Horseback

The Main Event

Savoury Beef de Brendan

Mama’s Lasagne

Cape Grimm Rib Eye Roast with Cafe de Paris Butter

Nut Encrusted Baked Ham

Bon Nadal Chicken

On the Side

Ines’ Christmas Salad

Crispy Sausage and Potatoes

A Touch of Snow (side of rice)

Fatoush Salad

Something Sweet

Surprise de Terese

Velia’s Plum Pudding and Custard (contains gluten)

Amy’s Christmas Cake

Crème Caramel and Balsamic Strawberries

Christmas Jelly


Turron Alicante

Turron Jijona

Rum Truffle Balls

Bumble Bees

Sweet and Salty Crunchy Chocolate




Oven Baked Tomato and Chicken Risotto

Chicken Risotto  (1).JPG

 I cook a lot with chicken followed closely by mince.  Both are versatile and can become a Mexican or Thai or Italian meal  without too much effort.
I found this chicken recipe on the back of the tetra pack of chicken stock, also another important staple in my kitchen.  The bonus is that not only is it a one pot recipe but also that once the preliminary preparations are made it is then baked in the oven.  Remember for many of the supermarket products we buy, you can find recipes on their websites.


1 tablespoon olive oil

1 onion, finely chopped

100 g bacon rashers, thinly slice

500 g chicken thighs, thinly sliced

2 garlic cloves, crushed

1 teaspoon lemon zest finely grated

1 tablespoon rosemary finely chopped

2 cups Arborio rice

2 tablespoons tomato paste

4 cups chicken stock

Finely grated parmesan, to serve



Preheat oven to 180C.

Heat the oil in a large flameproof ovenproof dish over medium heat.

Cool the onion and bacon in olive oil until golden brown about 2 minutes.

Add the chicken and cook, stirring for 3 – 4 minutes or until golden.

Add garlic, lemon zest and rosemary and cook for a further 2 minutes.

Add the rice and cook, stirring for 1 minute to coat the grains.

Mix the tomato paste and stock n a jug and pour over rice.  Stir.

Bake covered for 35 minutes or until rice is just tender and the liquid has almost been absorbed.

Stir through parmesan. Serve.





Potato and Chorizo Fritters

potato and chorizo fritters

Potato and Chorizo Fritters



500 g Carisma potatoes, peeled, grated and squeezed to remove liquid

100 g chorizo sausage finely chopped

1 tsp chopped rosemary

2 cloves garlic, chopped

1 egg, lightly whisked

2 tablespoons gluten free plain flour

Jar aioli




Combine potato, chorizo, rosemary, garlic, egg and flour. Season to taste.

Heat a large non-stick frypan over medium heat.  Cook ¼ cupfuls of mixture for 4 – 5 minutes, until golden.

Turn and cook other side for 3 – 4 minutes, until golden and crisp.


Serve with salad leaves and aioli.

(Coles December 2013 Magazine)

A Little Vietnamese in Townsville


Pho Fridays

Today was Pho Day. My son KJ and I have taken to grabbing  takeaway Pho every couple of Fridays and sitting down for lunch at home.  We have had a small Vietnamese cafe set up just down the road from home,  Vietnamese Corner and what is even better is that the owners have an understanding of gluten and what meals they can make gluten free. Pho itself is gluten free but the hoisin sauce given as a small side is not.  Just make sure you let them know that the meal needs to be gluten free and they will make you aware of any side sauces that contain gluten.

And if you want to venture past Pho, then there are several other meals that will also tempt gluten free-ers. Check out their list of Gluten Free Meals.

I look forward to my Pho Fridays.


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