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 12, 2014

Festive Feastings with a Christmas Caprese Salad

Doesn't it get hectic this time of year?

Work parties, School functions, Carol Nights and just general End-of-Year-CatchUps. It all means one thing....not enough time!

It's also the time of year for Bring-a-Plate functions as well, and when you're already running short on time you need something that's quick, tasty, easy and still Christmassy all at once

This is where my Christmas Caprese Salad comes in. It can be made in minutes- straight from supermarket packets if needed, but still manages to look lovely and festive. It's great as a stand alone salad, or makes a yummy side dish for a BBQ on our hot Summer nights,  or is light enough to go with a more substantial main dish for our Winter bound friends up North as well

Traditionally of course, Caprese salad is made up of just tomatoes, basil and mozzarella cheese. I've boosted up my Christmas wreath version a little to include baby spinach and baby rocket to make it more substantial and give lots of body to the wreath itself, and using the cute little balls of mozzarella and tiny tomatoes adds the bling of edible baubles to make it extra pretty

Christmas Caprese Salad

1 bag pre-washed baby Spinach Leaves
1 bag pre-washed baby Rocket Leaves
1 punnet red Cherry Tomatoes
1 punnet orange/yellow Grape or Cherry Tomatoes
1 tub baby Bocconcini Cheese- drained
1 bunch of Basil - reserve the nice top tip from a couple of stems
1/4 cup Olive Oil- extra virgin or basil infused is perfect
a few good splashes of Balsamic Vinegar
big pinch of Salt

Start by picking the basil leaves from the stems. I like to rip the larger ones into smaller pieces just to help distribute the flavour easily

Toss the rocket, spinach and basil leaves really well to mix together

Then arrange in a nice, fluffy wreath pattern on a platter

Arrange the tomatoes and bocconcini in and on the greens so they look like pretty little Christmas Baubles, then add the tip of a basil stem to make a bow for a focal point

Simply mix together the salt, vinegar and oil for a simple dressing, and serve in a little jug on the side. If you drizzle it over the whole salad it will stain it and spoil the pretty colour effect

That's it! Simple, pretty, seasonal and- most importantly- delicious as well. Perfect for last minute or busy Christmas entertaining

So Dear Readers, do you have many functions to go to before Christmas, and what's your favourite Bring-a-plate salad?


December 1, 2014

In My Kitchen- December 2014

Happy Summer and  Merry Christmas Dear Readers!

First of December already and the first day of Summer.....wow, where did the year go?
While some minds might be turning to Sugar Plums and Turkeys, mine is turning to darling Celia's monthly In My Kitchen series where we can explore the globe one kitchen at a time and see who's being naughty or nice this time of year. Check out the list of posts here and join in the fun

In My Kitchen...
is just a tiny bit of the produce I'm picking every day. So many berries that I'm freezing them, green beans just coming in and a mix of pretty purple and green snowpeas- yummo!

In My Kitchen...
is a Beautiful Bowl of Berries from my garden. A gorgeous mix of raspberries, strawberries, blackberries, youngberries and logan berries. They are a glorious tangle of plants in the backyard, so it's hard to tell most of them apart- but that's what I planted and they all sure taste good

In My Kitchen...
is my Christmas Lunch Master List. I've been buying things bit by bit lately or as they come on sale, then stashing them in the freezer or pantry in readiness for the Big Day. We like the full roast dinner which happens to leave mountains of left-overs for the next week or so- very handy in the hot weather when you don't want to cook too much

In My Kitchen...
just happens to be a Turducken. This strange chimera-style creature is quite rare, seemingly only in season for a very few weeks over late November to December. To be honest, I wouldn't have bothered with it but for the fact that it was 60% off and only cost me $23 for this 2.5kg beast. I sure do love a bargain! :)

In My Kitchen...
is a picnic lunch I packed lately for a meetup with some fellow Canberra Bloggers. Stuffed into my favourite little Tiffin Box was a mix of dolmades, truffle salami, baba ganoush, cherry toms and cucumber, goat cheese, pinot paste, gerkhins and cherries. What a wonderful feast indeed!

In My Kitchen...
is a cute little tin box I just had to buy myself. It will be used for something very important....but of course I can't tell you what it will be...shhhh.....

In My Kitchen...
just a few more Cookie Cutters for my collection. I have looking for cutlery ones for ages, and these are juuust right

In My Kitchen...
are some yummy sliced pickles just waiting for all the ham sandwiches after Christmas. I always buy a really big ham just so we can live off it for a couple of weeks over the hot weather. We like it brushed with glaze and baked; sliced and fried for breakfast; chopped into omelettes or scrambled eggs; cold with  salad; and of course on sandwiches with all the fixin's

In My Kitchen...
is something I just might be a bit inordinately proud of- my very first homegrown Garlic Braid! I know it's not the biggest or bestest you may have seen, but it's all MINE. I grew the purple Australian garlic from scratch, dug them, dried them, and plaited them all by myself. I just don't know if I can bear to eat them! Luckily I have another variety of garlic still growing, so I might be able to at least start on this one with the promise of more to come to comfort me

In My Kitchen...
sitting on the extreme end of the bench (because she knows she shouldn't be up there at all) is my little friend watching over me. She is such good company during the day, following me around for companionship and racing around like a mad thing for no apparent reason at times too. My little friend knows that she won't get any attention in the morning until I have visited my personal litter-box, and as she knows this is straight after I wake up (sorry if TMI) she solves the problem by nipping sharply at my heel or toes as a gentle reminder to GET UP! Who needs an alarm clock?

From My Kitchen...
I can see our Dining Room. Decked out already in Christmas Cheer

I love the golds with the wood and browns

In My Powder Room...
is my take on a Partridge In a Pear Tree. Yes it might be a quail, and there might not be a tree, but the pears are there and you can sort of get the right idea.. can't you?

Also From My Kitchen...
I have an uninterrupted view of my Upside Down Christmas Tree. I wished it looked as good in photos as it does in real life. I just love how everything hangs so beautifully without bumping or banging into each other. It's all botanical, and you might catch a glimpse of grapes, pomegranates, acorns, pine cones, flowers, pea pods and vines, leaves, ferns, berries, birds, butterflies, dragonflies, and various woodland creatures

In My Lounge Room...
is our other Big Tree, this one all in reds and golds. It's also botanical with rosehips, apples, pears, berries, grapes, pomegranates, acorns, ladybugs, butterflies, birds, chilli's and so much more as well

In My Library...
is littlej's tree. She has just started collecting her own decorations in blues, teal and mint green with the usual touches of gold and silver. It has acorns, leaves, ferns, olives, birds and peacock feathers all through it. It might not look like much now, but with another trip to our favourite Christmas shop this week, it will soon fill up and each year will see it getting bigger and better indeed

Finally, In My Hallway...
is a reminder of the True Meaning of Christmas. Trees and Santa can so easily take precedence over this miracle that sometimes we need to stop and recall the Reason for the Season

So Dear Readers, are you organised for Christmas, and what plans do you have for the Festive Season?


November 3, 2014

In My Kitchen- November 2014

Hasn't this year just flown by!

I always feel that way this time of year,  the trouble is, there's still so much left to do!

littlej has exam week coming up, then her Formal and Graduation Ceremonies, throw in a quick trip interstate, a birthday or 4, plus just the usual, and I bet the next couple of months will feel like they're not just flying by but breaking the sound barrier as well :)

Anyway, the start of each month is also time to grab a cuppa and catch up with some Bloggy Buddies with Celia's In My Kitchen Roundup. Check out what everyone else is up to here and maybe make a friend or two along the way...

In My Kitchen...
is a huge bowl of fresh Australian Peaches. The price was completely ridiculous at $3.40 a kilo- what a steal this early in the season!

In My Kitchen...
are some fun Mugs I picked up at Victoria's Basement as we never seem to have enough. Maybe if people could just rinse and re-use the same mug a couple of times...but that's way too hard apparently :)

In My Kitchen...
is a present for me from littlej, she's a very thoughtful girl indeed

In My Kitchen...
is some Wasabi flavoured Kewpie Mayonnaise. Very nice with just a touch of the wasabi burn that I adore. Great for the sinuses!

In My Kitchen...
another toy to play with, some Decoration Spoons. I thought I'd give them a go to see if they can help my plating skills look a bit prettier. The little spout at the end is supposed to help give you more control so you have nice lines and squiggles and don't just end up with blobs of goo on the plate

In My Kitchen...
are some cute little tins of Flower Flavoured Drops. Violet and rose- you know I just can't resist them

Not for the Kitchen...
but worth mentioning even though it's not Food, it's a Flavour... is some Jasmine flavoured Toothpaste! It's actually so lovely and such a nice change from the usual mint, mint or mint :)

In My Kitchen...
are some Dates bought back by a friend who's been travelling in the Middle East lately. The packet states that 'Whoever has seven Ajwa dates every morning, he will not be harmed that day by poison or magic'.

In My Kitchen...
are some absolutely humongous Tomahawk Steaks that I bought for BigJ. At more than 1.5kg each though, he may need some help getting through them. I plan on doing them with the sous vide method so they cook through slowly and gently to the perfect medium rare, then sealing them off on high heat to get a nice crust- yummo!

In My Kitchen...
are some Riedel Crystal Wine Tumblers from MiddleC. She occasionally gets some fantastic promotional freebies from work and these were one of those windfalls. I'm sure I'll be able to put them to very good use indeed

Next to My Kitchen...
is Christmas! Well, the beginnings of it anyway :) I can hardly wait to put the trees up each year, so I always start early. We were up at 12.01am on the first of November and started playing Christmas Carols- don't judge me- and I just love filling the house with beautiful reminders of the Holiday Season

So Dear Readers, what's going on in your Kitchen this month, and when do you put up your Christmas Tree?


October 25, 2014

Old Fashioned Melting Moments

Today we're going with an Old Fashioned Favourite- Melting Moments, or sometimes called YoYo Biscuits

A real trip down memory lane for me as these were one of the first type of biscuits that I made in Home Economics (Cooking) Class in School, and were a staple of childhood lunchboxes back when most people still baked from scratch

For those who aren't familiar with these little lovelies, they are a delicate shortbread/ish style biscuit that should- as their name suggests- just melt away in the mouth
Melting moments can be served individually or stuck together in pairs with icing, jam or custard. However you serve them , they're a delicious and easy biscuit that will bring a smile to your face and hopefully bring back happy memories too

Melting Moments

250 gm Butter or lactose free spread
1 cup gf Plain Flour
1 cup gf Custard Powder- this won't be lactose free though
1/2 cup gf Icing Sugar
1 Egg Yolk
1tsp Vanilla
pinch Salt

Just a few notes before you start:
I've always used custard powder for these biscuits. If you don't use gf flour as the base, most recipes split the flour content between regular flour and cornflour to give the dough the short, crumbly texture they require. The custard flour is mostly made of starch so that works just fine, and it also gives a nice flavour and colour to the finished product. Also, it's just the way I've always made them :)
Now you can see that there's no egg yolk in these photos, but these are from the first lot I made. The trouble was that as delicious as they were, they were really just too delicate and crumbly so I had to add the egg yolk to help bind the mix together. You could also add some xanthum gum if you like to do the same thing. It really just depends on the mix of starch and flour in your choice of Gluten free flour mix and the Custard flour- each one has their own ratio that can make a difference to the biscuit at the end

Combine the spread, icing sugar, vanilla, egg yolk and salt in a bowl

Mix it with beaters until it's nice and fluffy

Stir in the custard powder and flour

Until it's all come together nicely

Pop into a piping bag with a large star tip- or you could just roll the dough into little balls and squish them down slightly with a fork

Pipe or squish the mix onto baking paper- you should get about 24 to 30 biscuits. Bake at 160*C for 12 to 15 minutes depending on size. The biscuits will still be quite soft, so leave them on the trays until they cool

I like to join my Melting Moments with raspberry jam rather than icing or custard. I find that the biscuits can be assembled straight away and last a lot longer. The trouble is though, that jam straight from the jar is still pretty soft and wet which means it won't glue anything together well at all.
To make a nice strong bond, bring about a cup of your favourite jam gently to the boil and simmer it for a few minutes to condense it down and make it nice and goopy. Use while still just warm, or it will set quite hard and you'll have to melt it again

Fresh out the oven and cooling down

Lovely served straight up with a cup of tea

But even better with a  scoop of gloop to make it extra yummy indeed

A lovely light, short biscuit that will just melt in your mouth, but with a bit of chew from the jammy centre that brings it all together

Perfect with a cup of Earl Grey for Morning or Afternoon Tea!

 So Dear Readers, would you call these Melting Moments or YoYo biscuits, and what's your favourite flavour of jam?