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.

December 30, 2010

Post Christmas Post

I have to admit, I'm a feeder.

I love to make mounds of food to love and nourish those I love, - and those lucky enough to come into the restaurant! I can't help it. I love to do it, and they have to eat anyway, so we might as well do it in style.

I perfectly understand that Christmas is about many other things than just food and presents, but this is a food blog after all, so this shall be my focus today.

Due to Unforeseen Circumstances (see previous post) and Major Complications with my oven, we 'decided' to enjoy our Christmas dinner on Boxing Day this year. My fantastically talented BigJ managed to source and install a brand new element for my oven on Christmas Eve, but it then had to be burnt in and tested and we made other arrangements for the big day. A few issues had to be faced as my oven is a European model and the element wasn't the exact match, but BigJ drew on his electrician roots and rose to the occasion.

Unfortunately, this did mean that we went without a gingerbread house this year and a few other seasonal goodies, but I promise we will make up for it during the year and just wait for next Christmas's bounty! I can assure you that we didn't actually feel the need for more food, there was certainly more than enough to go round!

This is what we enjoyed for our meal:

Roast Pork Belly - the crackle to meat ratio is unbeatable, and the meat is soft and juicy

Roast Chicken - stuffed with garlic and lemon to subtly flavour the meat

Baked Lamb - crispy skin, rosy flesh, always a favourite

Gluten Free Gravy - made with all the pan drippings, a splash of wine and roasted garlic

Baked Potatoes - cooked in duck fat for crispy outside and fluffy middle

Creamy Potato Bake - with lactose free cream and smoked ham

Tri Colour Carrots - yellow, purple and orange! Braised with baby leeks and garlic butter

Various Condiments - apple sauce, spicy plum sauce, mint jelly

Dessert: Frozen Berry Mess - tastier than it sounds! Chunks of meringue, berry sorbet, vanilla ice cream and raspberries deliciously mixed together

Drinks: for me- sparkling strawberry wine (a tradition) for him- apple cider, for the Juniors- sparkling apple and strawberry juice

We also had in reserve a huge smoked ham and a smoked leg of lamb, but decided that although the spirit was willing, the flesh was full, and we would enjoy these later in the week.

That is how we enjoyed our Christmas meal. The 4 of us. Anyone for leftovers?

So dear Readers, how much food did you stuff in- I mean enjoy- this Christmas?

December 23, 2010

I use my oven every day.

That's right, every day. I bake all the time.... cakes, cookies, roasts, garlic bread, I even use it to cook bacon and eggs.

My oven was one of the first things I saved up for and bought with my baking profits from work. It's a 90cm stainless steel with various functions for baking including extra elements for crisping pie bottoms. I love my oven. We got it from e-bay from a failed home reno. It was brand new and still in it's box and we got a bargin. It's always been great. Until today.

Today it caught fire. 3 days before Christmas.

You may think that's not a problem, but it is for me. I still have gingerbread to bake, shortbread gifts promised to friends and 2 baking orders to get out. It's also MiddleC's birthday. Thankgoodness I made her cake last night so it could mellow and develop flavour depth overnight, but we may need to BBQ her birthday dinner instead of grilling her favourite tandoori in the oven.

I feel lost. I'm in mourning. I don't know what to do with myself, and what about the lamb, pork, chicken, veggies and etcs that I'm cooking for Christmas? HELP!

All may not be lost, BigJ will check it when he gets home, he is a licenced electician even though he has moved on in his career, and it's the reason we went for an electric oven in the first place- but I do have gas hot plates, soo much better than electric. I'm sure the first things he'll say is 'when did you last clean it?' Actually, it's been a while with the big seasonal rush....
** update : it was an electrical fault causing it to short out and send out sparks and flames**

So today I won't give you a recipe, I'll give you a Christmassy tour of our home, and hope your day is happier than mine.

Merry Christmas my dear Readers, I hope you have a happy, special, and very blessed Christmas, from me to you. XOX

P.S. What piece of kitchen equipment can you just not do without?

December 18, 2010

Date and Orange Cookies

These are one of my go-to recipes. I go-to them when I want something quick, I got-to them when I want something easy, and I go-to them when I want something delicious!

Again, I can't lay claim to this recipe, actually I think it's an old Woman's Weekly one, but no matter it's origins, it's fantastic.

Sometimes gluten free flour can taste a bit stronger than wheat flour, but in these biscuits the different flavour compliments the date and orange really well, and it's a plus not a minus.

When I take on catering jobs and there are dietary requirements, I usually make everything gluten/dairy/whatever free as it makes things easier to organise and there's less chance of cross contamination. If the numbers are really large though with just a couple of exemptions, I have a stash of doughs in the freezer that I can pull out and make fantastic free-froms at the drop of a hat. This dough freezes really well uncooked. With a firmer dough I pre portion so I can just take what I need, but this one is quite batter-ry and it can be frozen in small lots in zippy bags. Let it defrost completely before portioning and cooking.

The dough can be made completely in the food processor which is great to save on washing up. Don't forget to let the date mix cool properly though, or the mix will turn out like cake batter. If this happens, don't panic, let it cool down and then drop spoons of mix on the trays to bake.

The mix produces a soft cakey biscuit that is perfect for a quick dunking in tea or coffee. They are very sweet, and definitely NOT low GI- but I won't tell if you don't.
Date Biscuits
2 cups of dried dates
2/3 cup of golden syrup
2/3 cup of water
1/2 tsp bicarb. soda
2 tsp grated orange rind
500g plain gluten free flour
1 1/2 cups castor sugar
200g dairy free margarine
2 eggs
Put dates, water and syrup in saucepan and bring to a boil. Add the bicarb soda and orange rind, stir and let cool.
Put into bowl of food processor and pulse until fairly smooth.
Add in the rest of the ingredients and pulse until it's a nice smooth batter.
I like to let the batter rest for about 1/2 an hour as I find it firms up a bit in this time.

Place tablespoons of mixture on baking paper lined trays, allowing plenty of room for spreading.
Bake at 180* for 15-20 minutes. Let them cool on the trays until firm enough to place on cooling racks.
Brew a nice cup of tea or coffee, and prepare to dunk away!
So Readers, what is your favourite go-to recipe?

December 11, 2010

Cherry Christmas!

Have yourself a Cherry little Christmas!

Today at our lovely farmers markets we were inundated with choices of cherries. Here in Canberra we are quite close to Young, the cherry growing capital of Australia, and so I guess we get first bite of the cherry when it comes to shopping. There were bright red ones, light red ones, yellowy ones, my favourite deep burgundy ones, graded ones in gift boxes, and seconds piled in mounds on tables. I got these absolute beauties at the incredible price of $5 a kilo! And they were very generous kilos I might add. I realised I should make the most of this season bounty as the recent rains and floods have wrecked havoc with local crops and this could be all we can get this year.

As always the hardest part of any cooking process is deciding what to cook.... So many delicious options.... In the end I chose Cherry Clafoutis, a classic French dessert that is a kind of hybrid tart or flan with a custard base. Obviously a perfect choice for gluten free cooking! MiddleC is an absolute fracophile after studying it for 6 years and so I am dedicating this recipe to her and her French email buddy who lives in Provence. I call her MiddleC's imaginary friend as their relationship is computer based and they aren't likely to meet in the near future, but the good thing about technology is that they are closer and are in contact more than many of her 'real' friends.

According to Wikkipedia, a traditional clafoutis is made with the cherries whole and unpitted as this intensifies the flavour. So, this is my official reason for doing so, not because I couldn't find my cherry/olive pitter at all. After all,who am I to mess with tradition?

I actually based this recipe on one I read in the local newspaper when they interviewed the wife of the French Ambassador. When I researched further, I decided that with it's lower sugar content it was a good choice for me and my insulin levels and hopefully my waistline,even though I did use cream- low fat of course!

Cheery Clafoutis

750g cherries

100g gluten free flour

1/2 tsp gfree baking powder

6 small eggs

125 grm sugar

1 vanilla pod,seeds scraped

nice pinch of salt

25grm melted butter

250 grm lactose free cream - or dairy free milk equivalent

1. Beat the eggs in a mixing bowl for about 5 minutes or until they have tripled in size.

2. Add in the sugar and vanilla seeds and beat for another 5 minutes.

3. Sift in the flour, salt and baking powder and fold in carefully so as not to knock out the fluffiness. * I use this great spoon with a hole in it for careful mixing. It works great for folding ingredients together gently, but I don't remember where it came from sorry.

4. Slowly add in the melted butter and cream, pouring it down the side of the dish, again so it keeps the air incorporated.

5. Place the cherries in the bottom of a greased dish- pitted or not, I will leave to your discretion. And carefully pour the batter mixture over.

6. Bake at 180* for about 45 mins, the clafoutis should be puffed slightly, set and browned around the edges.

7. Dust with icing sugar and serve still warm. With or without cream, again, I leave it to your discretion, but I know what I would do.

I realised my clafoutis was baked in a dish that was a bit too deep, next time I'll drop the temperature to about 160 and bake for a bit longer. Or I could just bake it in a shallower dish as I should have in the first place!

So dear Readers, what is your ultimate Christmas fruit?

P.S. The winner of the giveaway is.... drumroll please ...... Eagles 17, I couldn't find any details for you though, so please contact me ASAP so you get your goodies before Christmas.

December 1, 2010


I miss Crumpets.

I know it's not a big thing, but the way the melted butter would collect in those little funnels then drip down my fingers, was really quite sublime.
Although it's the start of summer, after days and days and days of rain, it's a tad cool and leaves me wanting a warm breakfast instead of my muesli.

I took my start from an old Delicious magazine with a basic sounding crumpet recipe, but knew it would need tweaking. I faithfully followed the instructions, then stood back to think..... definitely more liquid needed. Oh, that's not gonna work like that! A little change here, a little change there, 3 attempts of cooking style later and, Voila! Crumpets!

Now, we all know that gluten free products can be, shall we say, 'lacking' that certain something that their glutenous cousins take for granted, but these are actually pretty good. The little funnels formed well and held the all important butter, they baked well, and they toasted beautifully. I always like my crumpets a bit over toasted and this wasn't a problem either. Win win for us InTolerants.

Originally the recipe frys the batter in egg rings, but this was disastrous with the gfree mix. The batter overcooked on the base, and set on top before they were cooked through in the middle. I tried cooking them on a lower heat, but they turned into hard little frisbees that would pose a danger to dental work. I tried a flatter more piklety stlye, but that wasn't much better. In desperation I baked them in the oven. At first I was dubious, I couldn't see any little funnels, but before I threw them to the dog,I cut one in half. Perfection! There were my funnels ready to be filled with buttery goodness. I toasted one straight away and was impressed. I left the cut piece out overnight and toasted it this morning and was more impressed! I think drying it out overnight helped it crispen up. I used texas muffin pans which made a very cute little shape, but the emphasis is on little. I can fit 2 pieces side by side in my normal size toaster. I can't really say how many this mix will make, because I tried so many different ways before I got it right, that I only had enough batter left for 4 little babies, which I cut into 8. Not nearly enough for crumpety cravings. I guess I'll be making more this weekend!


3 cups gfree flour
7g dried yeast
300ml lactose free milk or dairy alternative
500ml warm water
pinch of sugar

Mix the flour, yeast and sugar in a large bowl.

Add the warm water and milk. Mix well.

Cover and place in a warm spot for an hour for the yeast to do it's thing. Batter should double in size.

Grease some Texas muffin pans and half fill with batter. Don't knock out the airiness of the mix.

Bake at 180* for 20mins.

Turn out and let cool.

Cut in half and toast.

Slather with butter and honey and enjoy!

So Readers, what do you like to put on your crumpets?

P.S As promised I have my first giveaway! When I recently renewed a magazine subscription I received a lovely gift of a Junior Master Chef rice kit. Although I have my own junior master chef, I also have nearly every kitchen appliance known to man. All my nieces and nephews are too old or too young, so I have decided to re-gift it to one of you. (brand new in wrapper of course) To be eligible just comment on this post with the name of your little master chef that you will be re-gifting the re-gift to for Christmas.
Good luck!

November 25, 2010

Fruit and Nut Loaf

One of the fun things about my job is developing new recipes.

Well, really, there's no such thing. Unless you work at Noma, El Bulli or Fat Duck or in one of the magical molecular kitchens,that is. When I'm looking for something new, I have a bit of an idea in mind,then start delving deep into my resources - cookbooks, magazines, favorite food blogs and Google. I brainstorm and scribble little notes to myself in notebooks and even sketch out stick figure type drawings of how I want it to look and be plated. I take elements of many recipes and slowly piece them together a bit like Frankenstein's Monster cobbled together from many sources, until it resembles most the idea rattling around in my head.

This month we wanted to revamp the Cheese Platter dessert option. Well, really, there's not much you can do with chunks of cheese on a plate. No matter how delicious they are. We want the integrity of the cheese to remain, so it's all about 'Accessorising'

Anyone can do crackers; fresh crispy type fruit is a given; so we decided to go for a fruit and nut loaf. I based the idea on the good old Stained Glass Window Cake. This is made up of different types of glace fruits and nuts held together with a very minimal amount of batter to cement it.

The original recipe of glace fruits would be way to sweet and overpower the delicateness of the cheese, so I chose different types of dried fruits to compliment them instead. There were a couple of types of nuts and just a little orange zest for that special little something extra.


175g cranberries

175g dates

175g plump style dried figs

175g naked ginger- crystallised but not rolled in sugar

175g of mixed nuts- I used Brazil and walnut, but will change to almond and macadamia

1/3 cup gluten free plain flour

1/4 tsp gluten free baking powder

2 tablespoons castor sugar

2 tsp grated orange rind

40g of melted butter

2 eggs

Roughly chop the figs and dates

Mix the eggs, sugar, rind and butter

Add in the flour and baking powder

Mix in the fruit and nuts

Tip into a lined loaf tin and press down hard to compress

Bake at 150* for 90 minutes

Let the cake cool in the tin and preferably leave overnight before cutting, to avoid it breaking into pieces. When you do cut it, use a sharp serrated knife and saw through carefully as the fruit may be a bit sticky.

Serve this as part of a cheese platter, or enjoy it with a cup of Earl Grey tea.

If you want to make this as an alternative Christmas Cake, just use a selection of glace fruits instead, and maybe a dash of rum or brandy. While the cake is still fresh and ht from the oven, brush it generously with the rum or brandy so it sucks up even more festive cheer!

Now an update on BigJ... the good news is that the surgeon was able to reattach the severed finger and we expect a full recovery with free range of feeling and movement! The bad news is that this, of course, takes time. It will be at least 3 months before things are even remotely back to normal. He will have keep it dressed and splinted for most of that time, and really be careful. He is managing to get back to work and even do a modified style of typing.

This is littlej's solution to the problem.
Isn't she a subtle, sensitive soul?

So Readers, what do you like on a Cheese Platter?