December 30, 2011
How did your Christmas go, dear Readers?
Was it chestnuts roasting on an open fire?
Or throwing another shrimp on the barbie?
Well, after days of feasting, its time to let my days be merry and lite, and enjoy something a little less rich but no less yummy than the traditional pudding served this time of year- bring on beautiful berry Summer Pudding.
Summer pudding is a traditional British dessert, first served as a health food in health spas in the 1800's. Much lighter than thick rich pastry, it originally combined slices of bread and lashings of fresh raspberries and red currants so I guess that qualifies it as health food, well at least if its gluten free for me that is.
The berries are either macerated overnight in sugar to get their ruby juices flowing, or heated gently without cooking to achieve the same liquid love.
Thinish slices of bread are then dipped in the juices,kinda like sponge fingers for tiramisu, then used to line a basin to create a shell for the berries.
A bit of squishing overnight transforms soggy bread into berrylicious bounty, fit to serve to those you love, and I promise they will never guess that its "health food".
I've decided to up the ante with my pudding though. Forced to use frozen ones as my berry bushes are still a bit immature, I've added a little extra zing with the addition of Chambord, a delicious black raspberry liquor, and a good dollop of leftover Christmas cranberry jelly to tap into the tartness normally supplied by the red currants. I also sneak in my secret weapon of a tablespoon of arrowroot to ensure my pudding holds together when turned out, instead of tumbling into a delicious but embarrassing mess.
This is another no real cooking, no real measuring recipe. The amounts you need are really dependant on the size of the basin you use. Play it by ear, and just add more as needed.
Summer Berry Pudding
Fresh or frozen berries, enough to well fill your chosen basin
Loaf of nice gluten free bread, whole not sliced
Couple of tablespoons castor sugar
One good tablespoon cranberry jelly
One good tablespoon Chambord
One tablespoon arrowroot powder
One tablespoon water
Place berries, sugar, cranberry sauce and liquor into a saucepan. Heat gently until the berries soften just a little and the juices and sauce meld together into lush loveliness.
Strain the berries thoroughly but without squishing then, keeping all the juices.
Mix the hot juices with the blended arrowroot and water and it will thicken just a little.
Carefully remove the crusts from the load of bread. Make sure you keep these so you can freeze them and use them as crumbs later.
Slice into about half cm slices, but be careful as you know how crumbly gluten free bread can be. Cut a nice round to sit in the top of your basin, then slice the rest of the bread in half into little soldiers.
Line your basin with cooking wrap, I used a freezer bag, try and have it long enough to hang over the edge a little.
Starting with the round bit, dip each piece of bread into the pretty purpliness that is the berry juice, generously soaking them. Line the basin with upright strips. Try and keep your pieces tightly together, but patch with scrappy bits as needed.
Spoon all the berries into the bread lined basin, then top with more bits of soaked bread to cover
Pour any remaining juices over your pudding.
Pull the wrap over the pudding, covering well. Place a heavy weight on your pudding to compress it and make it set firmly.
Leave overnight in the refrigerator.
Un-weigh and uncover the top of your pudding, then carefully invert it onto your serving dish.
Decorate with a few extra berries and maybe some mint leaves for color, then drizzle with any extra juice collected in the plate or left in the bowl.
Cut into nice big wedges and serve with some thick lactose free cream for extra extravagance.
Yummm... Perfect with a nice chilled glass of bubbles, on a hot sticky summers night.
So Dear Readers, do you enjoy a traditional pudding, out would you give something lighter a try?
December 24, 2011
Christmas has been turned on its head this year at our house!
Normally we are quite a traditional family when it comes to division of labour during the holidays, (which usually means Mummy does it all!) but this time around, Dad and the kiddies are struggling through, and I get to sit back and watch.
We have continued the topsy turvey theme through even with our Christmas tree.
I've had my eye on this lovely for a while now, and this year the temptation proved too hard to resist and I gave in. Isn't it a beauty?
The genius of this style is that all the decorations hang freely without knocking into each other or scrunching up unattractively,they can be themselves in all their glittery beauty.
If you are a regular visitor to my blog, you may have noticed that I like things organized and just-so. That extends to my celebrations as well.
My two trees have very distinctive colour schemes, with the "Normal" one in deep reds and golds with a bit of a victorian vibe, while the "Topsy Turvey" one is in tones of gingerbread bronze and old gold and more of a botanical feel going on.
Don't worry though, littlej has a small tree of her own for all her favourites that she can decorate the way she wants without me butting in.
We normally take about a week to do the trees. Putting them up and lights is the first step, then we proceed to layer on the decorations over the next few days until we're happy with it .
I think the end result is well worth the hassle, don't you?
Well, Lovelies, I hope you and your loved ones have a very wonderful, very blessed, and very Merry Christmas. Love to you all, Rebecca, The InTolerant Chef x
December 17, 2011
Kitchen Zen - Can you imagine the sound of one arm cooking?
Well, half an arm anyway...
Welcome to a new blog, one for gluten free, lactose free and arm free cooking!
Thankyou Dear Readers for all your kind words and well wishes lovelies, and to answer some of the questions I've received, here's a quick update so far:
Round one of surgery was quite successful, with my biceps tendon newly relocated, bones shaved and squidgy bits removed .
I seem to be held together with fishing line stitches, staples, bruises and lots of morphine.
My arm is permanently strapped around my torso for the next few weeks(who needs a bra anyway),
Late night television is actually better than daytime television viewing,
Sleeping while fully upright is actually possible,
Typing is only possible with the fantastic 'Swype' app,
And Christmas dinner this year will probably be something out of a can- if someone else opens it for me.
So for a bit of seasonal cheer, and because chocolate makes everything better,
with the help of my lovely sister who's watching over me for a few days, we put together a yummy Turkish Delight chocolate Bark.
This recipe requires no actual cooking or measuring, just a bit of chopping and lots of spoon licking.
Dark chocolate, I normally use70% Lindt as its lactose free, but todays was just dark
Rose Turkish delight
Dried rose petals
Roughly chop the Turkish delight and nuts into smallish pieces
Melt the chocolate in a double boiler, or by pulsing in the microwave for 30 second intervals.
Spread the chocolate evenly and fairly thinly over the base of a lined oven tray
Quickly but artistically sprinkle over the nuts, petals, cherries and Turkish delight.
If this is a bit to tricky to manage while slinged and splinted, scatter them on carefully over the chocolate, then pop the tray in a slightly warm oven to keep the chocolate oozie and soft while the pretty bits settle in.
Let the chocolate bark set until nice and hard, then break into nice big shards for packaging up for gifts or consuming immediately, Yumm...
So my Dear Readers, are you on track for Christmas next weekend?
December 11, 2011
I admit to hiding the odd vegetable in my cooking.
My BigJ is not a fan of the humble veggie, sticking to a few firm favourites and surreptitiously slipping me his veggies under the table when we eat out. I don't mind, I love veggies, but I do draw the line when he tries to snaffle all the meat when we eat Asian, leaving me just the half cooked onion wedges and capsicum at the bottom of the dish.
I feel a perverse style of pleasure therefore, in feeding him as many vegetables as I can without him knowing. My excuse is that it's for his own good, but really, it's just so I win.
Don't judge me.
Recently on holiday, my wonderful mother bought out a fantastic chocolate cake she had made, wisely allowing us to enjoy it's light, moist texture and washing it down with cups of tea, before informing us that it was made with Beans. Kidney Beans to be exact.
I was very happy.
Even BigJ had admitted how much he had enjoyed his morning tea, so he couldn't take it back. But he examined every bite carefully for the rest of our holiday :)
This recipe comes from a Cooking Club my mother belongs to in Queensland. Despite the hidden beans, this is certainly not a health food, containing more than it's own fair share of fat and sugar- of course this means plenty of flavour too.
1 tin of Kidney Beans- rinsed well and drained
180g Brown Sugar
70g Cocoa Powder
1 Tablespoon Vanilla Extract
2 Tablespoons Coffee Powder dissolved in 1 tablespoon hot water
2 teaspoons Baking Powder
1/2 teaspoon Bicarb Soda
Puree the beans with the coffee, vanilla, and 2 of the eggs
Cream the butter and sugar
Add in the eggs and beat well
Put into the mix the bean puree, cocoa, baking powder and soda
Mix until smooth and well combined
Put into a prepared cake tin- a loaf tin would be the best, as you will see mine turned out a bit flat- and bake in a moderate oven for about 40 minutes.
Cool in the pan to keep moist
This was my solution to the flat big cake- making cute smaller cakes that are more in proportion.
Looky looky what I found at the supermarket:
Yes it's gluten free and appears to dairy free as well! I know it's cheating, but sometimes we're in a hurry, aren't we? I decided to give it a go.
To be perfectly honest, the cake doesn't need frosting at all. It's just s moist and perfect the way it is- almost mud cake moist, but still light enough to eat a whole slice (or two) at once.
I snuck this cake in as a dessert for my last dinner party, never letting on the secret ingredient until after it was eaten. It was a complete success, with the secret ingredient a real talking point as well. Just what you want for mingling!
So Dear Reader, do you hide vegetables in your cooking, or do your family love them enough on their own merits?
December 6, 2011
You've all heard that saying before surely? "I can do that with one arm tied behind my back!" - meaning something super easy, a no-brainer, no effort required.
Well, let me tell you.... IT'S HARDER THAN IT LOOKS!!!
Especially as I have both out of action at once..
Do you remember my dedicated Readers, back in April I had a couple of days off with concussion? I had a nasty fall at work in the kitchen. I slipped backwards down a slope (to a drain) and fell directly on my right shoulder/upper back, followed by my head- hard enough to send my glasses flying meters away across the room. Now to be honest, it must have looked hilarious to everyone else in the kitchen, but to give them credit, nobody laughed!
Well, after all sorts of physio and ultrasounds/xrays/MRIs ,blah blah blah, off to surgery I go. I have some general repairs of tendon tears and other nasty issues that need sorting out. The surgeon will know more once she's in there and has a good rummage around.
The Good News- is that it's all fixable with a positive long term outcome.
The Bad News- is that my right shoulder/arm will be completely out of action for a while.
The Worst News- is I'm right handed.
The Even More Annoying News- is that my left hand/wrist is already pretty tired of being the new right arm (I've been waiting 8 months for surgery), and may need surgery of it's own next. It's currently strapped into a half-cast style brace, which looks terribly impressive teamed with my right arm sling and right hand brace, and drawing plenty of curious looks and questions. This means that both arms are pretty much out-of-action for the time being.
The surgeon did try to persuade me to have both operated on at the same time, but that was just too much to handle without a live in maid, chef, or bidet. At least this way I have a tiny bit of mobility (and dignity)
My problem is this: I need to come up with a good background story. I did try saying I did the damage juggling cats, but usually say it was a cooking experiment gone terribly wrong.
I don't mind a challenge actually. They can be quite fun and you learn a lot along the way, but I admit this isn't one I would have picked for myself, it doesn't sound much fun but I bet there'll be a steep learning curve!
We will all need patience :)
So Dear Readers, I ask for your indulgence over the next couple of months. My typing may be a little off, my photos worse than usual, and the cooking may be a bit 'interesting'. I will do my best, I always say - Don't let the Gluten get you down, now I'm adjusting my attitude and won't let this get me down either. (well, not all the time anyway!)
If you happen to have any good tips or tricks that I could use I would be really grateful for your input. You can just add a comment, or email me if you like. I'd also be interested in any new 'Cover Story' you can think up, after all, I deserve to get some fun out of this don't I?
Isn't that a cool photo up top by Erik Johansson? He does some great photo shop manipulations, check out his site.
Thanks Sweeties, I'll let you know how it goes.