I have always considered myself quite a nice person. I like food of all shapes, flavours and colours. From every country and continent. I don’t discriminate, I am an equal opportunity eater. It’s only the doctors who say I’m intolerant. And certain foods who refuse to tolerate me. They certainly refuse to recognise and respect my right to eat them without major physical discomfort and distress.


Gluten and lactose are not my friends.


Despite the negative attitudes surrounding me from many of those I love best, (cakes, ice cream, hot toast) I decided to become a chef. Not always easy when you live in a bread and milk filled world. I like to think that this has helped me become a better person as I embrace my differences and refuse to let the gluten get me down. I believe InTolerance. I am the InTolerant Chef.

Food should not be about what you can’t eat, but what you can and what you enjoy eating. This blog is about my journey of cooking and eating and discovery. It’s not a definitive guide to allergy awareness nor do my intolerances make me an expert. Your body is your responsibility, not mine. I only know what works for me.


I can tell you this..... No glutens were harmed in the making of this website.

July 23, 2014

Sardines with Blood Orange and Bay Leaves

 

I know I do a lot of whinging about Winter, but I guess there are a few benefits after all....

I can stay in my fluffy slippers and PJ's all weekend because they're the warmest things I own; rich, thick soups are on the menu regularly; mulled wine is a great alternative to tea or coffee; and citrus are certainly at their best- especially the gorgeous globes of goodness that are Blood Oranges!


The very lovely people at Redbelly Citrus kindly sent me a box of their new season Blood Oranges to play with and I while I always knew how good oranges were for me, I was very interested to find out the extra benefits they provide.
The Redbelly website states that "Blood Oranges produce Anthocyanins which is extremely rare for Citrus fruits. Anthocyanin, most commonly found in berries such as the blueberry, flowering plants and red wine (derived from red grapes) is one of the most powerful phyto-chemicals known in the plant kingdom. This group phyto-chemical’s are known for their potent antioxidant capability, being some 150 times more powerful than Vitamin C alone and along with their ability to be beneficial in so many parts of health we have decided to call this specialty VitaminRED."
With such great taste as well as being extra good for me, how could I resist? Find out more of the amazing health benefits of VitaminRed HERE and tell me you're not as impressed as I am!


A Navel Orange in back and a Redbelly Blood Orange in the front


Just look at the colour contrast!

How do I explain the difference in flavour? It's subtle, maybe a bit of raspberry in there, definitely more mellow than the Navel Orange though. You know how Granny Smiths and Pink Ladys are both types of apple- same same but different- just like that! Got it? I will tell you this- I would pick the Blood Orange every time over any other variety, that's for sure, it's definitely my new favourite citrus!



Now as Redbelly Blood Oranges are such seasonal items, I wanted to pair them with some other lovely fresh produce coming into season now too. Tiny truss Tomatoes are just coming in from Queensland, radishes are nice and add a bit of zing, and wild rocket greens bring a bitter edge to the mix as well



Sardines are another great Winter winner, and I thought that the sweet blood orange combined with garlic and fresh bay would really be a great match with the slightly strong, oily fish


Sardines with Blood Orange and Bay Leaves
To serve Two

about 4 Sardines per person
3 Blood Oranges- 1 for slicing, 1 for zesting and juicing, and 1 for segmenting
1 bunch fresh Bay Leaves
4 cloves Garlic thinly sliced
half bunch fresh Parsley
1/3 cup Olive Oil

Salad
Radishes
Wild Rocket
baby Truss Tomatoes

Dressing
Blood Orange Juice
Olive Oil
Red Wine Vinegar
Salt


Slice one of the oranges into fairly thin half circles




Segment the other orange by peeling it, then cutting between membrane that separates each little piece from its neighbour


Nice and tidy now




Make the marinade by placing the oil, garlic, zest,crumpled bay leaves, juice and parsley in a dish. Squeeze in the juice from the orange bits left from segmenting as well- waste not, want not :)




Place 2 orange slices and two bay leaves as well as a couple of the garlic slivers into each sardine cavity




Place them all in the marinade and spoon some over as well. Pop this into the fridge for an hour or so to let the flavours develop




Grill the sardines with their stuffing in a hot pan for a few minutes each side, until they're just cooked through the middle and there's a nice bit of charring on the skin for extra flavour




Thinly slice the radishes and combine with the rocket and orange slices. Because it was a pretty cold day still, I decided to blister my tomatoes on the grill pan for a few minutes just to warm them through. Just because they were so pretty I kept them attached to the stem as well, but if it's nice and warm in your neck of the woods feel free to keep the tomatoes au naturel




Mix the dressing, adjusting the flavours to taste- I like a nice acidity from the vinegar. I was so lucky to have some local Homeleigh Grove Blood Orange olive oil on hand to make my dressing extra special and yummy!




Plate up your yummies, then drizzle all with the sweet, salty, acidic dressing to tie all the flavours in together


A perfect Winter Weekend Lunch- and extra good for you as well!

 
So Dear Readers, have you tried yummy Blood Oranges yet, and what's your favourite thing about Winter?

Many thanks go to Redbelly Citrus for providing me with the delicious Blood Oranges. To find the closest stockist of yummy Redbelly Citrus check out the map Here and stock up while they're in season- enjoy!



 

July 17, 2014

Truffled Celariac Soup




One of my personal joys in Winter is the availability of all the wonderfully seasonal Root Vegetables


Parsnips, turnips and swedes are all lovely, but one of my absolute favourites of all is the Celariac. A Celariac is a big, ugly, hairy ball that really doesn't look very appetising, but don't be put off by it's ugly exterior, this humble veggie is a surprise package indeed!

Sweet, mild, nutty and earthy- a delicate flavour, but one that stands up well next to strong dishes like roast beef, steak or even with blue cheese. Whether raw in a traditional French remoulade, or soaked and pureed as I've done today, this undistinguished little veggie should definitely not be underestimated



I often find that Celariac are sold per item not by weight, and as the price at the start of the season hovers around $8 each, I try and find the biggest one on the stand. I was picking through the display trying to find a nice one, when right on top I spied a beauty the size of an rockmelon! I'm only 5'1, and my arms don't reach too far, so I had a dilemma. Now, I admit, I'm not too proud to look silly in in pursuit of culinary joy- don't judge me- and I was determined that baby was going to be mine.

I tried standing on tiptoes- no good. I tried jumping- no good. I then tried strategically removing lower celariacs, hoping to cause an avalanche of sorts with my prize carried to me triumphantly on the crest of the wave- nope, just a few falling on the floor that I had to pick up. Finally I spotted a storeman who was luckily much taller than I and could pluck my celariac from the peak and into my arms- Yes!
Ignoring the stares of slightly bemused shoppers, I bore my behemoth 2 kilo celariac away while dreaming about what it would become in my kitchen....mmmmmm....



Now I do apologise Dear Readers, I seem to be missing some of my usual step-by-step photos somehow, but as this dish is really just so simple I don't think it will be a problem today


Truffled Celariac Soup

Celariac
lactose free Milk or Cream
Truffle- if lucky enough to have some on hand
Truffle Oil
Salt- preferably yummy truffle infused
Lemon


Cut your lemon in half and squeeze into a bowl of water

Peel your celariac quickly, and pop each piece as you go into the acidulated water to stop it oxidising and going a yucky brown colour




I always prefer to steam the celariac as I find that boiling really makes it soggy and dilutes the delicate flavour. As this is to be pureed, steam until it's very tender indeed so it will break down well




See how dry this is, not soggy at all




Blend the celariac with the milk or cream to a silky smooth puree




See how gorgeous- not a lump in sight!




At this stage the puree can be used in so many wonderful ways...
Folded through mashed potatoes for a nice change, perfect under seared scallops to match the sweetness, or even a bit of crumbled blue cheese folded through would make it a great side for roast beef




Winter time is Truffle time here in Canberra, and we are lucky enough to have fresh truffles available at the markets for a few weeks- sublime! As the season is rather short lived though, and for those unable to get such goodies, there are a lot of truffle products on the market so you can get your truffley fix. One of my favourites is Truffle Salt, the flavour really permeates through so when it dissolves into the food the flavour is carried subtly through as well




Another goodie is this Truffle Oil- rich and earthy, not artificial tasting like some on the market either




Heat the puree through gently without boiling, adding just enough milk/cream to bring it to your desired consistency. Season well with the truffled salt, then drizzle generously with the truffle oil- just because you can :)




A final flourish of truffle or truffle salt on top, and TaaDaa! I know truffles are pretty special, but who would have guessed that under the ugly exterior the Celariac hid such a tasty, luxurious interior?
This dish is a great starter to a dinner party, or just serve for your own weekday lunch as I did- just because you can :)



So Dear Readers, what are your favourite root veggies, and are you willing to make of a fool of yourself for Culinary Joy?





 

July 9, 2014

In My Kitchen- July 2014




Each month I seem to collect a few Weird and Wonderful bits and pieces

Ingredients, utensils, cookbooks- whatever, as long as it's food related I'm interested. Sometimes I don't really know what to do with them, but I sure have fun figuring it out!

That's just one of the reasons I love sweet Celia's In My Kitchen Posts that give a monthly roundup of what's new and interesting in other kitchens around the Blogisphere as well. If you'd like to have a stickybeak with me, check out all the action at Celia's blog over HERE and feel free to join in the fun



In My Kitchen is...
a Cake Pop stand. They're not something I make very often, but they certainly need to be displayed well after all the effort they require. Littlej and I are going to make some over the holidays and now they shall stand tall and proud in their new stand!




In My Kitchen...
are some Cake Stencils. Great for adding a nice dusting of icing sugar or cocoa powder to the top of a pie, tart or cake. Nice and easy to add a bit of bling




In My Kitchen...
is a Mushroom Cookbook from Australian Mushroom for even more Mushroom Inspiration. I loved playing with all my little Funghi Friends last month




In My Kitchen...
are a set of cute little Dumpling Press that my Mum bought me. They have lanterns on them that should stamp an imprint onto the little dumpling cheeks and help them look pretty. I haven't tried them yet, but I'm looking forward to some Yummy Cha soon




In My Kitchen...
is a Windmill Cookie Cutter to add to my collection. I thought this would be nice to use when I make Speculaas, yummy spiced Dutch biscuits




In My Kitchen...
is some Jasmine Syrup and some Jasmine Tea Flowers from T2. I'm thinking of poaching some pears in jasmine, but it's still in the planning stage




In My Kitchen...
are some gorgeous Pickled Vegetables. Each 600gm jar cost just 99c- too good to be true!




In My Kitchen...
are some cute tin Tea Canisters. My old ceramic ones met with a sad accident recently, so until I replace them these cheery sayings will brighten up my benches and keep my Earl Grey nice and cosy




In My Kitchen...
is a big jar of Honey I bought off a little Greek man, literally from the back of his truck. I was poking around an op-shop when he came in and bought a few dozen empty jars of various sizes. When we asked him what on earth he was going to do with them, he told us he was in the middle of  his honey harvest and had run out of jars to put it all in. He had boxes of golden goodness in the back of his truck that he was planning on selling at the markets, but we got first dibs as we were there first :)




In My Kitchen...
is a bright bowl of home grown Mandarins from my lovely Italian Nonna Neighbour. They are so sweet and just the right size for a quick snack. They add a nice splash of colour to the Winter bleakness outside the window




In My Kitchen...
are some terrific truffley treasures- Truffled Gouda and Truffled Brie- yummo! What a lucky find at the market deli indeed :) The Brie is French but the truffles are local, I'm not sure about the Gouda and I actually don't even care, as it is by far the yummiest thing I've come across in a long time! After trying the Brie, I've stuck in back in the fridge for a while to let the flavours develop a little more, but the Gouda is good to go right now and it is GORGEOUS




In My Kitchen...
is a beautiful big bag of local Chickpeas I picked up at the Capital Region Farmers Markets. I've popped them in soup and they are gorgeously creamy when cooked. Yummo






In My Kitchen...
also from the Farmers Markets, is another treasure indeed- a pile of Prunes! I love prunes, I'm really not too big a fan of raisins or sultanas, but prunes have a lovely, subtle sweetness that suits both sweet and savoury dishes. I'm thinking a classic tart, or a lamb tagine, or poaching them with spices, or just eating them as is perhaps while I think about it. Better than lollies or candy any day!





So Dear Readers, what's your favourite snack and what's going on in your kitchen this month?


 

July 6, 2014

How to Build the Perfect Sandwich- a BLAT



One of Life's Great Pleasures is Bacon

Yummy, yummy bacon

Did you know that Canberra's own Pialligo Farm Estate just won Australia's BEST Artisan Bacon at Australian Bacon Week? They very kindly gifted me a package to try and after tasting it, I can honestly say that the honour was well deserved indeed.
The bacon had a lovely smokey kiss, without being overpowering. The flavour was sweet and the bacon cooked up beautifully, not soggy at all just nice and crispy- yummo!



Plain old fried eggs and bacon seemed a bit prosaic for such an auspicious bacon, so I decided to give myself a real treat. BLT with a twist, actually a BLAT- Bacon, Lettuce, Avocado and Tomato. Just one extra ingredient, but so much extra yum!


Obviously this Sandwich is fairly self explanatory, but just in case you've never heard of one of the best sandwiches in the world, this is how it goes...


The BLAT- a Technical Explanation

Now this is very important indeed... There is a very specific way to assemble a proper BLAT. If it's not done just right you will end up with a disaster- still tasty, but a real mess. Just follow me and I'll explain it as we go....

Bacon- preferably the best in Australia of course :)
Lettuce- I prefer Iceburg as it's got a nice crunch
Avocado
Tomato
then
gluten free Bread or Bread Roll
Mayonnaise or Garlic Aioli
Salt and Pepper to taste


Assemble cold ingredients- nice thick slices of tomato, whole leaves of lettuce- if you shred them they're not as crunchy, and slice the avocado as well




Pop the bacon on to fry




While toasting the bread- I like my bread to be warmed through but only toasted on the inside. Most cafes just pop the complete sandwich under a press and heat it that way, it's certainly a bit easier but not as perfect




Cook the bacon to desired degree of doneness- I like it still soft, but with a bit of crispiness on the edges




Smear aioli generously on warm toasty bread- this acts as a yummy barrier that stops any stray juices from soaking and sogging up the bread




Layer on the tomatoes- don't forget to season. These act as a nice solid base to keep the structural integrity intact




Next the Avocado- putting this on now means the seasoning from the tomatoes will stick to them as well and avoid it being too salty by seasoning twice. They also have just the right amount of 'give' when you take each bite, very necessary for sandwich satisfaction




Now the star of the show, BACON! A double layer is best for perfect bacon-to-everythingelse-ratio
Too little and you don't get the full benefit of the smokey, fatty goodness; and too much and the other ingredients don't get a chance to add the right amount of acidity and creaminess that will show off the bacon to it's best




Finally, the Lettuce- it needs to be on top. If it's on the bottom or in the middle, when you bite down it might slip away and break the whole stack. Not Good. Not good at all




The last piece of the perfect puzzle is the other bit of Bread. The yummy, sticky aioli grabs hold of the lettuce, and I find that the downward pressure when you grip a sandwich, means the lettuce is kept firmly in place and doesn't go slip sliding away




Perfect!
Eat while the bread is still warm, the tomato still cold, and the aioli melts just a little....Mmmm.....


So Dear Readers, did you know it was so technical to make a sandwich, and have you tried Pialligo Estate Bacon yet?


Thanks guys for my packet of deliciousness, and to find out more about Australia's Best Artisan Bacon, check them out here:
@pialligoestate #bacon, #baconweek
 Twitter @pialligoestate Facebook https://www.facebook.com/PialligoEstate Pinterest http://www.pinterest.com/pialligoestate/ Instagram http://instagram.com/pialligoestate or their blog http://pialligo.estate/2014/06/15/pialligo-estate-and-farm-1-winter-2014/