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.

October 31, 2012

Tastes of The Orient

City Skyline

I know this one's a little later than usual Dear Readers, but you see,  I've been away on holiday.

So long overdue, that it's actually the first time in over 20 years that we've travelled anywhere that wasn't to visit family- just something for ourselves.

Bliss....  And we had a wonderful time indeed!

We went to gorgeous Singapore, the country where I was born, and have always wanted to explore as a 'grown up'. The plan was to explore the real country and not just do touristy stuff but meet real people, see real sights, and eat real food.

Well, we sure did plenty of that!

I had a few concerns about eating gluten and lactose free overseas, but it didn't end up being as difficult as I first thought.
Most people speak english very well, so I was able to ask about meal ingredients, and sauce was generally served on the side so there was no contamination that way either.
Lactose free milk was readily available, but gluten free bread was nowhere to be found, and most shops didn't seem to understand what I was talking about.

All in all the trip was just wonderful, the country is fabulous, and the food is AMAZING! I've already started planning another trip for the future :)

I certainly won't bore you with our over 1000 photos, but I thought you might  like to see some of the foodie highlights of our trip

Now at first glance, this may not look typically Asian in origin...but what if I tell you that it's the gluten free option for High Tea at iconic Raffles Hotel?
And all for me!!!

Bottom tier: Sandwiches
Smoked Salmon; Egg and Cucumber, Ham,Cheese,Tomato with Basil; and oddly, plain tinned Salmon with Mayonaise
Middle Tier: Fresh Fruit floating in Orange Juice, and  Caramel Apple Verine
Top Tier: House made Fresh Raspberry Marshmallow, and two gorgeous Chocolates- yummo!
At huge buffet display there were also one or two goodies I could enjoy, and it was a wonderful experience indeed

Ice Kacang
A mountain of freshly shaved ice, topped with three syrups, drizzled with evaporated milk, then with additions of corn, red beans, palm seeds and glass jelly.
Big enough for two to share at the bargin price of $2

Haianese Chicken Rice
This dish was one I was really hanging out for. I make my own version at home, but wanted to try the Real Deal. The only problem was everywhere I went it was sold out! It's such a popular meal that the lines at Hawker Centres and food stalls selling this were huge, and I just seemed to be pipped at the post each and every time. I was so happy when I finally got my share :)
Such lovely, moist chicken and the rice might look bland, but the flavour was just amazing and rich too- delicious

Another iconic Singapore dish- Laksa
Each version I tried was very similar, but quite different from what I'm used to over here.
For starters, they locals used only rice noodles (which was great) here in Australia- or at least in Canberra, they come with both rice and egg noodles and I have sent many back to kitchens when they ignore my only-rice-noodles-please request. Also these ones were a lot stronger in prawn-y flavour and not as rich in coconut milk.
I really enjoyed having it for breakfast though!

These little ice cream stalls were everywhere, usually run by lovely little old gentlemen with gorgeous smiles for everyone.The ice cream was wrapped in wax cardboard, and kept in eskys with a huge slab of ice for cooling, then cut to size by the vendor, then wrapped in a slice of pink and green sweet bread to stop it dripping everywhere. I obviously had the messy bread-free version, but my choice of durian flavour was certainly delicious.

Before we went away, BigJ, littlej and I agreed on the Great Singapore Satay Hunt.
We all love these little sticks of yum, and were determined to track down and try as many varieties as possible during our stay. We sampled 17 varieties all in all, and our hands down favourite was an Indonesian variety! We gave each one a score out of 10, with catergories including spiciness, stickiness, sauce, char technique and overall flavour.

This is a prawn.
A very Big Prawn.
For scale, check out the regular sized chopsticks at the back of the plate. HUGE!
Served simply grilled with some garlic and a tiny little lime. I've never seen a prawn of this size before, and I once worked at a seafood market for a year. Now where to track them down over here?...

This picture is of A Random Act of Kindness
littlej was at the pastry counter at the first hotel we stayed at, when she saw another young girl with a packet of my usual Country Life bread I eat here in Australia. They struck up a conversation over the toaster and littlej mentioned that her mummy ate gluten free too. Halfway through breakfast, a lovely lady approached our table and said that they were on their last day in Singapore, and would it offend me if she offered me the rest of their gluten free loaf? They had bought it with them from Perth, and it would be a shame just to throw it out.
I was really touched and of course it just made my day! Unfortunately I failed to get the lovely peoples names, but although it may seem a small thing to others, when you struggle with food InTolerances, little things like this are such a big blessing indeed :) Thankyou xox

My Australian Breakfast in Singapore, with Beerenberg jams too!

Congee Rice Porridge, I much prefer savoury to sweet, so this might become a winter breakfast staple for me from now on

These signs were at every food stall and hawker stand everywhere. It shows that the stand has been inspected and aproved by the govenment, with each stand being licenced and given a hygene rating

The rating must be prominently displayed at each stall,with D being the lowest, but I only saw A's and B's.
I wonder if our food courts would welcome this idea here?

Pineapple Rice
Not strictly Singaporean, but a nice choice for littlej as a change from steamed rice. Very delicious, and topped with yummy pork floss

In contrast to our first hotel, who truly tried but just didn't get the whole 'InTolerance' thing, this second resort had things sorted!
I had emailed ahead, and been assured that there would be plenty of options for me, but I've certainly been stung before. It was great to see that these issues were a priority for the kitchen too.

Freshly made gluten free waffles!

Gfree toast and mini muffins too

More ice creams:
Durian (a bit too strong for me this time), Red Bean, and our favourite- Jackfruit

Last, but certainly not least Dear Readers, what trip to Singapore would be complete without the famous Chilli Crab?
This was our one big blow-out meal, eaten at a nice little reataruant on the river. The crabs were displayed at the front, and you could either choose your own, or just order small, medium or large. We left the choice to our waiter, as even though littlej has no trouble eating anything really, and my Dad kills his own meat, she found it too difficult to actively particeipate in picking a live victim herself.
Wait until I bring home my own live mud crab from the markets to make this dish at home!



So my Dear Readers, I apologise for my absence from the blogisphere of late, and for not keeping up with comments on your lovely blog posts as well, but as you can see I was busy eating my way around Singapore :) I can hardly wait to go again!

So Dear Readers, were you born overseas, and what country would you visit if you could?


October 23, 2012

Torta di Riso al Profumo d' Arancio

I un-ashamedly lifted this recipe straight from another blog

I saw it posted the other week and it just sounded so lovely, that I not only had to give it a try, but share it with all of you too.

Don't worry though, I did ask permission first!

Bizzy Lizzy's Good Things is a great blog written by a fantastic foodie and fellow Canberran who shares her food, philosophy and photographs with such style and enthusiasm, and generosity too! Thankyou Lizzy!

Lizzy has said that this recipe reminded her of her childhood, and a similar recipe her mother made. My memories of rice pudding are the traditional type, made of rice simmered with milk and sugar and flavoured with nutmeg instead of vanilla or orange; My hubby remembers only cooked rice mixed with sugar and cream to a wet type of dessert with no nuances of flavour at all; My kiddies are more familiar with our own family version of rice simmered with pandan and cardamon with a palm sugar syrup... I guess however you make it, a memory is only a taste away.....

I certainly was impressed with the idea of this dish. I'm always looking for desserts that would translate well to catering/ cafe menus, and I think that a slice of this torte is much more elegant that a sloppy pudding in a bowl indeed- no matter how nice it tasted!

Torta di Riso al Profumo d'Ara
 or: Orange Rice Cake

1.7 lt lactose free Milk
1 Vanilla Pod
rind of half a Lemon
1 cup White Sugar
300gr Aborio Rice
6 Eggs, separated
1/4 cup Orange Liquor
1/3 cup Raisins
zest of one Orange

For the flavourings, peel the lemon thinly in nice big strips to make it easier to fish out of the pot later, and scrape all the lovely little seeds from the vanilla pod

Combine the milk, vanilla seeds and pod, lemon rind and sugar in a large sauce pan and bring to the boil

Add in the rice, then lower the heat and simmer, stirring constantly- like a risotto- until the rice is just softened and the milk mixture is nice and creamy.
Pull out the vanilla and lemon strips, then let the rice cool

Whisk the egg whites to soft peaks

Mix the egg yolks with the orange liquor until creamy looking, then stir into the rice mixture. Make sure it gets really well mixed through as this is the 'glue' for the whole cake

See how fine a microplane can zest an orange? So beautifully without any of the bitter white pith at all. I much prefer using one of these than a zester or grater

Toss in the orange zest and raisins and give it another really good stir

Add in about a quarter of the egg whites and mix through to lighten the mixture up. Then carefully fold through the rest of the whites, making sure you don't get carried away and knock all the air out of the mix.

Gently pour the mixture into a lined 24 cm cake tin.

Bake at 180*C for an hour, covering the top after about halfway through so it doesn't over brown

Let the cake cool in the tin and rest overnight in the refrigerator for it  to firm up and for the flavours to really settle in

Now for a bit of extra yumminess!

I really didn't want to waste that poor little nude orange, so while the cake was baking I made so candied orange slices.

I cut the orange into thin slices, then popped them into a very small saucepan with an obscene amount of sugar- about 1 1/2  cups, and just enough water to make sure the slices were covered.
Stir it around for a while to make sure the sugar is dissolved properly, then leave it on a gentle simmer for the hour or so until the slices and their skin are translucent and have that shiny, glossy look that says they've absorbed about as much sugar as they can handle. You might have to put a little more water in now and then, or at least turn the slices over to make sure they're all getting their share of sweetness.

Place your cake on a serving platter, top with the candied oranges or dust liberally with icing sugar, and enjoy!

Such a lovely moist cake that still holds its shape perfectly and slices beautifully- just use a wet knife to help things along
The vanilla and lemon add a solid grounding for the risotto, with the orange giving it a stronger scented flavour that is just lovely and sweet

I have to admit, that I had wondered if all the mucking about to make a perfectly good rice pudding into a cake was going to be worth it- but it certainly was indeed, and I'll be making this a regular for sure

So Dear Readers, what type of Rice Pudding do you remember from your childhood, and does it differ greatly form your family favourite now?


October 17, 2012

In My Kitchen Garden

Slowly, ever so slowly, Spring is creeping into my garden

Canberra is a tricky place in Spring. Late frosts burn off early seedlings, and it's really not worth planting tender little lovelies until October.... until this year that is, when Winter returned with a vengeance last week leaving snow on our ranges and sad little spots where my veggie seedlings used to be before dying of frostbite.

Despite all this, there is some rustling in the undergrowth as a weekend of gorgeous sunshine has bought out the best of my rhubarb and my strawberries are covered in blossoms with the promise of fruits to come.

Would you like a tour?

Unfortunately everything is fenced off as much as possible due to a veggie loving German Shepherd :) There are also many wine barrels, pots and even old car tyres scattered around so I can take advantage of as much space as possible.

I don't aim to be totally self-sufficient with my garden, my arms are just not up to it I'm afraid. I certainly grow enough in the warmer months to stop us buying much, and then I process and freeze as much as I can for the rest of the year, but it's just to cold and frosty here to grow much over Winter at all.

Here are my three raised beds, I rotate the plants each year. At the moment there is some little lettuces, carrots, silverbeet, perennial spinach, leeks and cabbages hiding in them- plus little pea and bean seedlings at the base of the green arches.

What a beautiful cabbage indeed! They were very slow growing over winter, but just about ready to eat now

Various strawberries popping up all over the place

One of my many wine barrels. This one is planted out with a Green Tea Camellia with some ornamental kale and pansies at the base. I like to think that Kitchen gardens should be beautiful as well as useful, but everything out there is edible- just in case :)

Horseradish emerging after it's long winter nap

A blueberry plant and raspberry, with strawberries on the ground

The tiny tip of galangal! Hopefully it will like our climate and grow well over the hot months. I'm also planting ginger and turmeric..... it's worth a try anyway

Pots of potatoes and peanuts

Another barrel with a tiny cold climate Macadamia tree in the middle, surrounded by pretty pansies, and today's ingredient: Rhubarb. I have three other plants in the ground that are very generous and vigorous, but are sadly green stemmed.Yuck. I have solved my food fussiness by planting out these very red stemmed red beauties so I can mix the two together and overcome my colour issues

I also have growing:
Olive tree, kaffir lime tree, orange and lime grafted tree, lemon tree, finger lime tree, elder tree, carob tree, curry leaf tree, loganberry, blackberry, youngberry, asparagus, globe artichokes, garlic, giant garlic, celery, broccoli, kale, onions, leeks, jicama, rosemary, culinary lavender, rose, corriander, mint, basil, basilmint, laksa mint, chocolate mint, bay tree, curry bush, lemongrass, chives, calendula, parsley, pineapple sage, thyme, violets and violas. I think that's it? But of course I've only just started my Spring planting... there are all the veggies to go in yet!

The first rhubarb of the season, a mix of green and red stems. So many delicious choices, but I decided to make Pepperpot Fruits. I know I have teemed rhubarb and strawberries many times before, but they really do go so well together and are ready to pick at the same time- always a winner!

Pepperpot Fruits

Nice bunch of Rhubarb
Couple of handfuls of Strawberries
1/4 cup White Sugar
1/4 cup liquid (juice/wine/water)
1/2 teaspoon Black Peppercorns
1/2 teaspoon Shichuan Peppercorns

Trim and tidy up the rhubarb

Slice large strawberries in half, but leave smaller ones whole

Mix fruits together and toss with the sugar so the lovely juices start to draw out of the fruit

Pretty little peppercorns

Place the two types of peppercorns into a small mortar and pestle, and grind until fairly fine

Pop the fruit, liquid and peppers into an oven proof dish and toss them all around to mix through well

Cover with foil, and bake at 180*C for about 15 to 20 minutes, or until the fruit is cooked through without being smushy. Don't stir to check, instead stick a knife tip or fine skewer into a piece of rhubarb to see if it's done.

This is one of those desserts that is better served cold. The flavour of the pepper is a lovely back note to the sweetness of the berries and the earthiness of the rhubarb, giving a tingling hint of mystery to the dish.
It can be served simply with some (lactose free) cream or ice cream, or I actually like to serve little pots of it with a few lovely cheeses. The pepper helps it match well with the savoury without being overpowered by the sweet.

So Dear Readers, how is your Spring shaping up, and what do you have growing in your kitchen garden?