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.

August 26, 2014

Sweet and Sour Pork with the Billyboil

Have you ever heard the term Thermal Cooking before dear Readers?

It certainly wasn't a term I was familiar with until recently. Also known as Vacuum Cooking, it's a great method to create delicious meals while saving on time, energy and power bills

The nice people at Billyboil kindly sent me a unit to play with, no strings attatched regarding writing a review or plugging their product, but I was genuinely impressed with it's ease of use and overall performance and just couldn't help letting you know how great it really is and how easy it is to use

The Billyboil is a nice little unit that has an insulated outer pot that acts as a thermos maintaining temperatures for quite a long time, and an inner pot that's just like a regular saucepan or stockpot.
 It's perfectly suited for 'Wet Dishes' like casseroles, curries or braising, but you can also use it to cook rice, pasta or even breads or cakes!

I thought the best way to try it out would be with a dish I'm comfortable and familiar with so I'd have something to compare it to at the end of the day

The recipe I decided to go with is pretty much my tried and true Sweet and Sour recipe. I blogged about it a few years ago here: Cooking En Masse  It's actually still one of my favourite posts, as it shows a little about what I love to do and what it's like to put your food and heart on a plate :)

I have cut down the process a little and have chosen more store cupboard ingredients along with the fresh veggies as this is more suited to the style of the Billyboil with it's camping/mobile application where you might have limited pantry access

Sweet and Sour Pork
* If you aren't lucky enough to have a Billyboil on hand, you can of course cook it gently on the stove top, in a slow cooker, or even a pressure cooker if you're pressed for time

500gm diced Pork
large tin/440gm tin Australian Pineapple Pieces
1/2 cup gf Hoisin Sauce
1 tab Sesame Oil
1 tab Arrowroot Powder
375ml tetra pack Chicken or Veggie Stock
1 big tab minced Garlic
1 big tab minced Ginger
1 large Capsicum
1 large Onion
2 large Carrots
2 large Tomatoes

For those who don't know, this is arrowroot. It's a great thickening agent that sets clear, works well with acid and doesn't need to be boiled to thicken up- it's also gluten free

You can use any cut of pork, but I used fore quarter chops and just trimmed off the bone and fat. They are such an economical cut of meat and well suited for this style of cooking

Mix the ginger, garlic and sesame oil into the pork and let it marinate for a while. Overnight would be fine, but even just while you prep the veggies will be OK

Slice the veggies into nice bite size pieces. They don't need to be too thin as you don't want them to mush

Using the inner pot, brown off the meat in a little oil. I always like to do this to seal it and add a little extra depth of flavour, but you can skip it if you don't have the time

Add in all the veggies

Combine the pineapple with all the juice, hoisin sauce and stock together, then pour into the pot and mix through

Bring the pot to the boil, then simmer for about 10 or so minutes to bring the temperature of the contents up to a safe region

Yes, the pot is quite full- I was greedy and made a huge batch. With wet dishes like this I always make extra to add to my Freezer Meal stash for busy days. The recipe given above is more manageable with just a nice generous amount for 4 or 5 hungry people. The inner pot has a 3.5 litre capacity and as you can see I filled it right up

As I don't want to give anyone food poisoning, I took the temperature of my dish after simmering so I had a bench mark to compare it to before serving, it was definitely nice and hot indeed

Quickly add in the arrowroot dissolved into a little water, and stir to mix through
Pop the lid on, and then put the whole pot into the outer unit and close it up immediately

Now go and do whatever you want to do for pretty much the rest of the day. The Billyboil website claims the unit will retain it's heat safely for up to 8 hours, so far I've only tested it to 5 1/2, but with fantastic results

I left my meal for about 4 1/2 hours, and as you can see the temperature was still well and truly in the Safe Zone at over 80*C. I could have left it for a couple more hours if I was busy and it would still have been fine, but it was dinner time and the family wasn't prepared to eat at bedtime- even for the sake of scientific investigation. They can be difficult like that sometimes... :)

Cooking the meal the Billyboil way really does work indeed! It's such a lovely gentle method of cooking that results in tender meat, veggies that still hold their shape and structure, and sauce with a lovely clean, fresh taste. I can definitely see it becoming a fixture around my kitchen as it will save so much time, effort and energy!

You can see how convenient this little package is for caravanning adventures- just get it ready in the morning while you're still plugged in on-site, and you can have a nice hot meal at tea time without having to plug in or get a generator going. It's also handy for people like my parents who live on a rural property that can be regularly flooded in and suffer power blackouts.
Last year they had to go a whole week without power and had to cook everything over an open fire. The Billyboil would have been a godsend indeed, as it only needs to be on the heat for such a small length of time and would save so much fuel and effort

So Dear Readers, what's your favourite 'Wet Dish' and have you heard of Thermal Cookers before?

Thanks to the nice guys at Billyboil for sending me one of their products to play with! For more information, or to find out where to buy a Billyboil of your own, check out their website Here 
to answer any questions you might have about this energy efficient cooking style


August 19, 2014

Smoky Lamb and Root Soup

Would you believe I saw some blossom this week Dear Readers?

That may not seem all that interesting if you live in the warmer regions, but down here where we're still hitting the minuses most nights, it was very exciting indeed!

Despite the bit of watery Winter sunshine shining through my window today, it's still the season for hearty wholesomeness and Soup is still at the top of my list. One of the really great things about cold weather though, is the abundance of top quality root vegetables. A lot of people think of these as a bit old fashioned and a lot of them haven't had quite the renaissance that beetroot seems to have had the last few years, but they are really quite lovely and very sweet indeed this time of year

Turnip, Parsnip and Swede

I also happen to have a smoked Lamb Shank languishing in my freezer so this is also destined for the pot to add a bit of extra flavour and depth. A smoked ham hock or ribs would be great as well, or leave them out all together if you prefer a meat free version

Smoky Lamb and Root Soup

1 large Parsnip
1 large Swede
1 large Turnip
2 Onions
2 large Carrots
half bunch of Celery
375gm/1 packet dried Soup Mix or mix of dried beans & peas- make sure there's no barley!
Smoked Lamb/Ham Hock
1.5 lt Stock- veggie or chicken
big pinch dried Thyme or few sprigs fresh
couple of Bay Leaves
splash Oil

Chop the onion, carrot and celery into fairly small pieces. I like to use a food processor to save some time and to save my wrists the hassle. In a long simmered soup like this they all meld together anyway and the rustic presentation means that painstakingly chopping each veggie to look it's best just doesn't matter

I like the Mckenzie's Italian Style Soup Mix. It has a great combination of beans, peas, chickpeas and lentils but no nasty gluten containing barley

Dried herbs because it was raining and I was too lazy to go outside for fresh- it wasn't the rain that worried me, it was the soggy, smelly dog that would want to jump all over me and make me muddy :)

Definitely too good to waste- just look at how much meat is left on the bone!

Sweat off the onion, carrots and celery in the splash of oil until they have a touch of colour

Add in the herbs and mix through well

Whizzy up the turnip, swede and parsnip into smallish chunks. I don't worry about the odd bit that misses the blades, it will certainly cook down anyway

Stir through the bean mix

Bury the hock in the veggie and beans- don't add any salt yet as it can toughen the beans and the hock could have a fair bit in it anyway

Top up with the stock and simmer for a couple of hours or until the beans are nice and tender but not mushy OR pop it all into a slow cooker in the morning and it will be hot and hearty by the time you get home from work in the evening

Keeping the soup warm, pull out the hock and remove the meat from the bones. The meat should just pull off easily by now, then just roughly chop it into bite sized pieces. I always include the gelatinous gristly bits too, they just melt away to nothing in the soup

Stir the meat bits back in, check for seasoning, then serve up big, steaming bowls of Yum

See how a lot of the veggies have broken down and thickened up the soup- this is a real 'Stick-to-your-ribs' type of meal indeed!

So Dear Readers, do you enjoy the old fashioned Root Vegetables and is it still Soup Weather in your neck-of-the-woods?


August 12, 2014

International Scone Week with Lady Flo's Queensland Pumpkin Scones

Did you know that it's International Scone Week?

A few years ago, wonderful Celia of the blog Fig Jam and Lime Cordial, and a few other bloggy buddies just happened to all post about scones at the same time and thus an annual event was born. To read more about it, and to see all of this year's participating blogs and recipes, check it out Here and of course, feel free to join in as well!

The last time I played along, I posted my  Lavender Lemonade Scones, so this time I thought I'd go with an iconic Australian recipe- Lady Flo's Pumpkin Scones

Lady Florence Bjelke-Petersen and her husband Sir Joh, were very prominent and popular political figures in the 60's to the 90's in both the Queensland state and the federal arenas. Their family farm is not too far from my Mum and Dad's property and Mum got each of my sisters and I a signed copy of her books one Christmas
Even though she had such a successful and wonderful career, I still think one of Lady Flo's longest lasting legacies is her recipe for Pumpkin Scones.  Just like her recipe books- they aren't trendy, they aren't fancy, they're just good, solid basics done well

Mum with Lady Flo, back when perms were still fashionable :)

I much prefer to use a pumpkin like Queensland Blue or Jarrahdale for my scones and soups, I'm not as fond of Butternut

Before starting your scones, here's Lady Flo's own words to guide you:
'The one important piece of advice I always give to people attempting to make scones is that you must treat them with tender loving care. Don't knead them, instead press them lightly with your fingertips. This helps your scones to turn out nice and light.'

Lady Flo's Pumpkin Scones
(adjusted a little to suit my InTolerances)

1 tab Butter/lactose free spread
1/2 cup Sugar
1/4 tsp Salt
2 Eggs
1 cup cooled mashed Pumpkin-I used a quarter of a smallish pumpkin
3 cups gluten free SR Flour

Scones need a quick, hot oven to rise well. Preheat the oven and tray to 225*C before starting

Steam or microwave the pumpkin without adding any extra water. Boiling makes it waaay too soggy and the aim is to have a nice dry, dense pumpkin puree. I always drain it over a sieve as it cools so any excess liquid can drain away

Mix the butter, sugar, salt and pumpkin together well

Add in the eggs and whisk together

Add in the flour and fold through

Turn the mix out onto a lightly floured board and bring it all together- Gluten free doughs are generally softer and stickier than regular doughs. Pat it into a rectangle an inch or so high

Cut into rounds with a floured scone cutter

Pop the little lovelies together onto a warmed tray, and bake for 20 minutes on the top shelf of the oven

Nice and browned

It's a fact of life that gluten free goodies can be sadly dry and crumbly. The best way to combat this is to of course eat the goodies on the day they are baked :) otherwise I try and keep the moisture in a little by allowing my scones and most cakes to steam as they cool down. Just throw a clean tea towel over the scones- unless of course you like a crispy crust

Cut the scones in half while still just warm and slather on some jam or honey. I love these pumpkin scones with Golden Syrup- yummo

These scones are lovely, light and fluffy. The pumpkin isn't too savoury at all, it's just there quietly in the background keeping the scones moist and allowing the mix to cut back on fat without sacrificing any flavour or texture at all. I also love adding a good handful of lactose free cheese to the dough with these for a slightly savoury spin

So Dear Readers, what's your favourite scone, and have you ever heard of Lady Flo?