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 28, 2010

Apple Pie

I rarely bake treats for home.

Except at Christmas time.
As I spend days every week baking for functions and my cafe clients, my dear little family makes do on left overs and slight rejects or poor deformed cookies that I can't justify charging money for.
Today is a new day! I decided to make some apple pies that we could all enjoy. I usually miss out, but not today.
I had heard from a few sources that Maggie Beer has a great pastry recipe using cream cheese. I was intrigued. I googled around a bit and came across a gluten free version here: http://www.abc.net.au/tv/cookandchef/text/s1949896.htm

Despite the huge lactose content I decided to give it a try.
When I read the recipe through, I was surprised at the large amount of salt included. I think cream cheese has a salty undertone anyway, so I reduced the salt to 1 tsp, and maybe you could even halve that. I suppose it's a matter of taste.
This pastry is very soft, but this is good as you can press and mold it easily, but I wouldn't want to be doing this on a really hot day!

You need:
500g cream cheese
300g cold butter
4 cups of gfree flour
1tsp salt
8g xanthum gum

Now the easy part, chop the butter and cream cheese into cubes and pulse in the food processor.

Add in the flour, salt and gum, and pulse until crumby. Use a tablespoon of water or so if you need to.

It should start coming together easily.

Knead together into a smooth ball and rest in the fridge for a while.

I rolled the pastry out in between 2 sheets of baking paper to about 3mm thick. As I used a high, narrow tin it was a bit hard to fold the pastry into it neatly, but as it's soft it was easy to press out to the correct thickness.

The apple and pear filling I wanted to use has a nice bit of juiciness going on, and as there is nothing worse than a soggy bottom, I placed a teaspoon of almond meal in the bottom of each pie to soak up excess moisture.

Fill up the little lovelies, pop on the lids and crimp the edges together. I then I brushed the tops with water and sprinkled with raw sugar for a bit of sweet bling.

Bake at about 180* , and as they're pretty small I started checking at 20 minutes. I let them go to about 25mins or until the top was a lovely golden brown. Nice and tanned, no pasty pastry.

Let them cool in the pan for a little while, about 10 mins. You don't want them to sweat as that may damage the structural integrity of the pies, but if they're too hot when you try and remove them, they'll break up too. It's a fine line people. An easy solution would be to make a shallower pie, but I like these!
Enjoy hot or cold, they are yummy either way. I also tried heating them in the microwave the next day and they held up beautifully. The pastry didn't crumble, or get too tough. Yummo!

So Reader, do you often bake for your family?

August 24, 2010

Singapore Noodles

Apparently, I may not be me.

After 20yrs of marriage, BigJ and I are planning a trip away. We have never had a holiday before. Oh, we visit The Farm, in Queensland, but staying with family is not a holiday. A holiday means: not cooking, not cleaning, not seeing anyone you're related to (unless invited), the whole day stretching ahead of you just to explore, and having people wait on you for a change! Apart from 3 weekends away from our children, that has been it.... for 20 years! I deserve a holiday!!

Unfortunately for me, the Australian Government disagrees. You see, I have a secret past. I was not born in this country.

I was born in Singapore.

Now, I've always thought of that as 'exotic and exciting'. When I was born, my sisters cried because they wanted an Asian baby like the others in the hospital. They didn't consider me exotic or exciting at all, and I've never been able to convince them otherwise. But secretly, I know I am. Our holiday plan is to revisit the place of my birth.

The trouble is.... I'm not who I say I am.

I only have a foreign birth certificate. The passport office doesn't like that. Apparently it doesn't count. When I entered our lovely country as a toddler I came in on my mothers passport. OK, to get my own I need original papers proving I was registered at the High Commission. I don't have any. Not originals, and certified copies are just not the same.
I also need to prove my change of name. All the official documents with my photo and name, like drivers licence don't count either. I need to prove when I changed my name at marriage. So off I went to apply. I then found out I don't have an 'official' marriage certificate! We are married (I checked!) but way back then, you were only given a ceremonial certificate, it's no longer acceptable as a legal document.
I went to apply for a new marriage certificate, but then found out I cannot get one here as we were actually married about 5kms over the state border. I need to apply interstate.
In order to do that, I need to prove who I am.
I only have a foreign birth certificate.
See the problem?

My husband finds this highly amusing.
I don't.

Anyway, in case I'm deported, I have decided to embrace my Singaporean roots and cook... Singapore Noodles.

I know that this dish is not authentic, rather a Westernized ideal of what a real Singaporean is like. Just like me... a bit confused, and stuck between two cultures. I take solace in the fact that the dish is delicious, and proves that somehow, it all works out alright in the end.

Start off with about 300g of chicken thigh fillets. The thigh has much more flavour, and if you're just chopping it up anyway, no one will know. Marinate this in 1/4 cup of gfree soy sauce, 2 tabs of Chinese cooking wine, and 2 tabs of crushed ginger. Leave while you get everything else ready.

For my family, I use a whole packet of rice noodles. They need to be soaked in boiling water for 10mins or so, until softened, then drained.

While everything is soaking and marinating, chop up your veggies. I like to use sliced snow peas, red capsicum, spring onions, mungbean sprouts, celery and shredded carrots. Try and make them fairly uniform in size so they cook at the same time.

I buy yummy BBQ Chinese pork at a take away place as we like the flavour, but you can leave it out or use some ham or Chinese sausage if you want.

Throw in a handful of prawns to add a nice sweetness of flavour.

You also need 2 eggs, about 1/2 a cup of lfree milk or stock if you prefer, and the most important ingredient..... 2 tabs of plain old curry powder. That's right, plain old curry powder. Whisk together and put aside for now.

1. Heat your wok and cook off the drained chicken. Take out and put aside. Lightly cook the prawns, but be careful as they will heat through later and you don't want them to get dry and chewy.

2. Toss in the veggies and stir fry with a bit of water to moisten which will help add some steam and cook quickly.

3. Add the noodles and meats and stir thoroughly to heat through and mix evenly- or some one will complain that they didn't get her share of prawns, or he got too many veggies.

4. Pour in the egg and curry mix and toss around and around and around. The egg mix will coat the noodles and cook off with the residual heat.

5. Dish up and enjoy!

So Readers, do you have any hidden secrets?

August 19, 2010


I like dairy products. I like cheese, yogurt, butter and cream. The only trouble is, it doesn’t like me back. I’m always looking for some yummy lactose free alternatives. Luckily, there are some fantastic products for those like me who aren’t fond of soy milk.

I like to use Zymil fresh lactose free milk, UHT Liddels lactose free milk and cream, Butter has very little lactose (yay), and I can handle some goat and sheep milk cheeses.

This works for me, it may not work for you. Remember you are responsible for your own body!

Anyway, I found this nice looking sheep’s milk yogurt from Meredith Dairy at our local markets. Meredith Dairy also make some yummy goats cheese I enjoy, and I’ve liked the sheeps milk cheese I’ve had, so I thought I’d give it a try.

I wasn’t sure what to expect. It was hard to describe... not the strong taste of goat, but a kind of lanoliny flavour. Not unpleasant.... just different.

I tried it plain, I tried it drizzled with apple syrup, hmmm... then I had a light bulb moment! I would try it savoury. This made so much more sense to my taste buds! I think they were just a wee bit confused before. So the answer...’Labne’ a fresh cheese made from yoghurt. Perfect!

The secret to a nice creamy labne is to remove as much liquid from the yoghurt as possible. The best way to do this at home is to line a fine meshed sieve with some cheesecloth – or a clean chux will work well, and suspend it over a bowl.

Pour in the yoghurt and cover completely. Don’t squeeze, or you will squeeze out the solids, and all we want to get rid of is the excess liquid.

Place in the fridge and ignore it for at least 24hrs, but a bit longer won’t hurt either.
Drain off the liquid, and then carefully unwrap the little package. You now have a lovely fresh cheese! This needs to be stored in the fridge and I would still eat it by the use by date of the yoghurt.

You can roll this in balls and then in some herbs, or serve as is drizzled with olive oil. I also like to use this to make dips as they have a bit more substance this way and don’t get that icky watery stuff floating on top.

Anyway, this will be served as part of cheese platter along with some soft goat camembert, some quince paste, rice crackers, a nice crunchy green apple, and a great big glass of sauvignon blanc.
All for me! Maybe I’ll have a nice hot bubbly bath to go with it!

So Readers, what do you like to do to unwind?

August 14, 2010

Oysters Kilpatrick

BigJ and I are children of the 70's.

My family were never big seafood eaters, and the only oysters I ever really had were smoked ones that came in a tin and were covered in orange tinted oil. We ate them on crackers surrounded by chunks of cabanossi and tasty cheese. We thought they tasted pretty good actually!

BigJ didn't do much better, but his family ate oysters, ala Kilpatrick and Mornay. The slimy little suckers usually came in bottles, so shells were carefully washed and reused each time to make them look more authentic.

I have to admit I was slow to approach an oyster. They looked ugly. They're surrounded by sharp shell. To chew or not to chew, that is the question. I didn't understand why you wouldn't, but opinions seemed divided on this issue. Raw or cooked? Again, there was no consensus.

When BigJ first introduced me to these little molluscs, I was glad they were so well disguised under a blanket of crispy bacon and tangy sauce. This way I could pretend they weren't there at all! I held my breath, scooped the whole lot in, and started to chew. I breathed in and.... my eyes started to water, I couldn't stop coughing, I thought I was going to choke. I needn't have worried about oyster, all I could taste was the tangy, acidic hit of Worcestershire sauce that overpowered all in its wake. I was not a fan. Eventually, BigJ and I reached a compromise, he could eat the oysterie bit and I would pinch a bit of bacon off the top. It worked for me.

Fast forward a couple of decades, and I'm working in a Fish market for a year. One of my designated jobs every couple of days was to sort the oysters. We had a little Thai man whose only job was to open fresh oysters, dozen after dozen, full time. To make it a bit easier for him, the oysters were tumbled in a (clean) cement mixer to knock off the sharp edges. My job was to take these lovely fresh babies and to submerge them in sink full of water, therefore washing away all the natural juices and sea freshness, rendering them nearly tasteless. The idea was to wash off any shards of shell and 'refresh' the look of the oyster. It was a privileged job, for some reason, and only trusted employees were allowed to do it. I never knew why, I just knew it meant I was up to my elbows in smelly cold, water for hours. All oysters had to be accounted for, and if there were ever any left over shells in the box, there was Big Trouble. I soon learnt to hide them buried under fish carcasses in the bin.

None of this endeared the oyster to me.

I do love pearls though. They are my favourite gem. They are lustrous and full of life. And anything that annoyed an oyster that much must be good!

Fast forward another couple of years and I finally got to use some really nice, top quality, fresh oysters. They look beautiful. They smell really nice-they haven't been washed. They are plump and pretty (like me!) I began to warm to the oyster.

Nowadays, I don't mind the odd oyster. Even littlej will have one or two. They're certainly not my favourite bit of fishiness, but the oyster and I have reconciled our differences and taste buds.

In honour of the noble oyster and the 70's, I have decided to post about Oysters Kilpatrick. I hope your experience with them was better than mine.

Step 1. Find some oysters. Please use fresh, plump, nice ones. Not bottled, tinned or soaked ones.

Step 2. Make the sauce.
I don't like thin, stringy, acidic tasting Worcestershire sauce that just drips off oyster and masks the flavour. I wanted something that would be a bit sweeter and stick the bacon and oyster together a bit more into more of a cohesive unit.
I used a whole bottle of gluten free Worcestershire sauce. Check the lable. I added in a tablespoon each of gfree tomato sauce and bbq sauce. This was reduced down on the stovetop until thick and syrupy

Step 3. Finely slice some streaky bacon. You need some fat for this as it carries and smooths out the flavour. I pre-cook my bacon as this means you don't risk overcooking the oyster under the grill later.

Step 4. Assemble. Traditionally the oyster is placed attractively nestled onto a pile of rocksalt. This balances them and keeps them straight so the saucey stuff doesn't run off. I didn't have any, so I just had to cope.
Place a pile of bacon on the oyster and top with a spoonful of sauce.

Step 5. Place under a preheated grill or in a hot oven, until bacon is crisp and sauce is hot and bubbly. Serve with a squeeze of fresh lemon juice and enjoy!

So Reader, have you had any unpleasant experiences with an oyster?

August 10, 2010

Toad in the Hole

Tonight my In-laws are coming for dinner.

My father in law is a man of discerning tastes. As long as he can't discern any taste- of garlic, or chilli, or spices, or most vegetables. Just meat and white bread and tomato sauce.

It was too cold to fall back on a BBQ, not in the mood for a roast; I needed something that would balance the need to feed him while satisfying my need to sneak in some decent food.

I decided on Toad In The Hole. It combines sausages (meat), with batter (bread), and gravy (sauce substitute) Of course it won't end there, but what he doesn't know, won't hurt him.

I start off with some yummy gfree sausages. The ones I chose were Beef, Red Wine and Black Pepper. I cooked them off on the cooktop to brown and so they will cook evenly under the batter.

I placed them in a big dish and tossed in some fresh thyme for extra flavour.

Next came the batter, made up of:

2 cups SR gfree flour,
a couple of eggs,
3 cups lfree milk,
a splash of oil,
salt and pepper.

I think next time I would throw in a couple of handfuls of spinach leaves as well for colour and flavour.

Now pour lovingly over the sausages, and nestle some more thyme, slices of onion, and cherry truss tomatoes into the blanket of batter.

Bake in the oven at about 200* until set and nicely browned.

Also on offer this evening were some caramelised Red Tuscan Onions slow cooked for about 3 hours with a splash of vinegar and a tbs of sugar. And some baked Swiss Brown Mushrooms with a bit more butter and thyme.

I enjoyed this with some yummy gfree gravy and a fresh salad. My father-in-law tolerated his covered in tomato sauce.

You win some, you lose some I guess!

So Readers, what do you think of tomato sauce?

August 5, 2010

Breast of Lamb

My families favourite meat is lamb.

Lamb roast is what we grew up on.

However lamb is not an economy option anymore.Even the shanks are about $9 a kilo now that they're trendy, and lets face it, they're mostly bone anyway! so when I saw the price of these lamb breasts I just couldn't pass them by. $2 a kilo! That is completely ridiculous.

Are you unfamiliar with this particular cut of meat? It's a budget cut, part of the forequarter and is the flappy bit containing the ribs with a layer of fat and meat. Also know as lamb flap or belly. Sometimes just sold for dog meat. Woollies has been cleverly selling them off cut into pieces as lamb riblets, for only about $4 a kilo, but they are still fairly fatty.

The secret is that the meat is so delicious. You just need to remove the fat. You can cook the whole thing long and slow, and render most of it out that way, or cook it on the BBQ high and crispy and just cut it off, but it's still there. The best thing to do is just remove it.

You need good knife and a little bit of time.

Slide your knife in between the rib bones and the meat. Cut as close as you can to the bone to not waste any meat.

Next cut along the layer of fat that rests on this meat. Sometimes you can actually pull it off by prising the two parts apart.

I really like the papery sort of skin on the outside, so I next trim that off as thinly as possible from the fat as well.

Now, lets put the jigsaw back together!

Place the meat down on the board and patch any bits that are thin or even a bit empty, with other pieces of meat.

Scatter on some gfree bread crumbs or feel free to make a real stuffing. I just didn't have any handy. I also sprinkled on some spice powder.

Lay on some blanched vegetables. I do this by just trimming up the veggies then pouring boiling water over them in a bowl. Sit for about 30 seconds then drain. Easy peasy.

I had also grilled a capsicum to lay on the meat first, but forgot it! It sure would have looked pretty though.

Now roll the whole thing up.

Wrap the little bundle in the saved skin as that will protect the meat and go nice and crispy. Tie with some string to keep a good shape.

Bake at about 180* until nice and brown and crispy.

Rest for a bit then remove string and cut into rounds, so you can see the pretty layers of meat and veggies. You can see that there is really hardly any fat in the roll at all now. Just enough to baste the meat while it cooked.

This whole exercise cost less than $1 a serve. That's pretty darn good for decent protein. It also looks really pretty and I would be happy to serve that to company. Served with a big pile of mashed potatoes and some gravy I still think it would come in at less than $1.50 per head. For a whole main course. Not too bad don't you think?

So Reader, what's your best budget beater recipe or tip?

August 2, 2010

Chicken and Corn Soup

My baby is sick.

littlej is home with a cold. A very nasty cold. She needs a food that will nourish both her body and soul, wrap her up in loving, steamy warmth and let her know she is protected and cared for.

Of course, the only food capable of all that is : Chicken Soup.

Jewish Penicillin, Avgolemono, Samgyetang, Ajiaco..... different names for the same thing, Liquid Love.

Here in Canberra, it's mid winter. Clothes hang limply on the line for days in a vain attempt to 'go green' and not use the dryer. We even have snow on the mountains. Bleak mornings with several degrees of frost, early darkness and a few hours of fantastic sunshine. Unfortunately the sunshine is weak, and unable to kindle any more warmth than a faint flickering of hope that spring is indeed on it's way.

But, back to the soup.... I make a yummy Asian style soup with lots of fresh bits and pieces
Start off with some chicken stock. The better the stock, the better the finished product. Never, ever, never use stock cubes. Promise me. Tetra packs of stock are OK, just check for gluten and stuff.

Place stock in pot with aromatics. I use: Lemon Grass, big chunk of Ginger, a couple of Garlic cloves, a finely sliced Kaffir Lime Leaf and some Corriander roots. I also add a slurp of Shouxing Wine as well, but that is optional.

Leave to simmer for a while to infuse. I like to leave it for at least half an hour.

Place in some sliced chicken breast or thighs, I use about 100gr per person, and simmer very gently until cooked through. Time to put in the drained corn and the tin creamed corn. This should only take about 10 mins or so until cooked now.

While this is happening, prepare the fresh bits and condiments. I use finely sliced carrot, celery, spring onions, fresh corriander and usually a large red chilli. I also like to add some crunch with fried shallots and fried garlic. These are availabe from Asian supermarkets and sometimes Coles and Woollies.

To help make this a complete meal and stretch it out some, I use noodles. Have I mentioned how much I love Changs products? They have a great range of Asian products that are all gluten free and available at Coles and Woollies too. I don't bother heating them up as the soup will do that nicely for me, I just divvy them up in the bowls.

I also prepare a couple of eggs lightly whisked with some Sesame Oil. This will help enrichen and thicken the end product

By now, the soup will be done, don't forget to fish out the corriander roots though. Just before serving, take the soup off the heat and stir in a thin stream of the beaten egg and oil mix. The colour will change and the soup will thicken slightly. Don't worry if there is the odd bit of stringy egg- it's all edible and yummy.

Layer up all the noodles, fresh bits and pieces and ladle on the hot soup.

Garnish with the fried onions and garlic, fresh corriander and a wedge of lime for a bit of zing.

There you have it.... Love in a bowl. Let the feeling of health and happiness wash over you from the inside out and steam your germs away!

So, Readers, what makes you feel better when you're unwell?