Tag: cooking
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Salmon Bake (for fussy eaters)

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My son is a bit over the rustic salmon balls I make, he has this dish once a week to keep the allergy troll away;  high allergy foods need to be given regularly, so you can understand how you can get bored with the same ol’ dish every week.

I came up with a Salmon Bake. This dish is quick and easy and you will most likely have these ingredients in your pantry & fridge.

Salmon Bake Recipe – makes enough for 4-5 small ramekins

  • 1 tin of salmon – I use John West Pink Salmon
  • 1 celery finely chopped
  • 1 garlic finely chopped
  • 1/2 zucchini grated
  • 3 florets of broccoli finely chopped
  • 1 punnet of cherry tomatoes chopped into quarters
  • pinch of salt
  • a twist of pepper
  • pinch of dried herbs (or fresh if you have them)
  • tablespoon of olive oil
  • 2 cups of macaroni or penne pasta
  • 1 cup of breadcrumbs (I just use our regular bread and crumb it in the thermomix)
  • 1/2 cup of dairy free cheese (or dairy cheese if you are lucky enough to be able to eat this!)

Place the celery and garlic in a pan with the olive oil and saute, add the zucchini, salt, pepper and herbs, stir fry until the zucchini is translucent.

Add the broccoli and cherry tomatoes and continue to stir, until they soften, add the salmon (mash it up before adding to pot) and mix.

Add the pasta to the pot and mix through.

Place the mixture in a ramekins (for individual serves) or casserole dish.

For the topping I use a dairy free cheese – Cheesly, but if you are lucky enough you can use parmesan, I mix this through with the breadcrumbs and then top the casserole dish.  I then pop into the oven – on a grill setting for about 5 minutes until the top is golden brown.   Just make sure you make this in advance as it can be quite hot for little mouths.

My son loves this dish, and I  get to pack in a few vegies in addition to the fab omega 3 dose in the salmon.  Would you give this dish a try?

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Happy Easter

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Above, taking the plunge with large easter moulds…very tricky – I used white chocolate on the detail and chocolate for the rest (all dairy free by Sweet William)

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I made some rice chocolate using rice puffs and dairy free chocolate – these turned out quite tasty!

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Strawberry hedgehogs, dipped in white chocolate and chocolate chips (all dairy free by Sweet William)

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Some examples of the white chocolate and chocolate truffles I made, with a few sultanas for garnish.

This year I decided to be a bit more adventurous with the Easter treats for my dairy allergic son; you can see the results above.  For some reason things taste better when they look different to the norm, and when they are packaged in gold foil!

Happy Easter!

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Nanna Bread made with a Tortilla Press = marriage made in heaven!

I do a lot of cooking and I love labour saving devices, that do exactly what they promise…cue the Tortilla Press by Norpro; love at first sight! Awesome Gadget

Indian flat bread dough also known as ‘Nanna Bread’ in our home

Roll the dough into approximately 2.5cm or 1 inch balls and place into the Tortilla Press, then press down on the lever

You have now got a beautiful round flat bread ready to cook (note the use of parchment paper this stops the bread from sticking to the Press)

Nanna Bread on the rise – I use a crepe pan – see tips below

I make a lot of Indian flat bread, lots, believe me.  The Tortilla Press, saves me washing up  time,  all I do is make the dough, roll the balls, pop them into the tortilla press, and ta-da!  Perfect, round-shaped bread ready to cook. Where is the labour-saving? No pastry mat, rolling-pin or lashings of flour to smooth the process (therefore you don’t have to wash or have a huge clean up effort!).

Once you get the feel for creating the perfect sized dough ball, it is so easy!  Parchment paper is a necessity when using the Press – this stops the bread from sticking.  The added benefit – all you have to do after cooking is to clean the press with warm soapy water, and it is ready to go again.  I do realise I sound like an advertisement for the Tortilla Press, I assure you I am not being paid in any way to do this post (or this blog for that matter!).   I am very happy with my new gadget and it has been promoted to ‘favourite’ status in our home.

You may be interested in my latest recipe for Indian Flat Bread affectionately known as ‘Nanna Bread’ (my son named this delicious bread, after he ate it at my Mother’s house, it was the first food he ate outside my kitchen, given his allergies, this was a big thing!):

New Recipe for Nanna Bread

  • 2 cups of Atta flour (Indian Flour or Wholemeal flour)
  • 3 tablespoons of chickpea flour or besan (Hindi word for chickpea)
  • 1 pinch of salt
  • 1 tablespoon of canola oil
  • warm water to bring the dough together

Mix all the dry ingredients together and add the oil and warm water stirring until a dough is formed (you can do this in a food processor).  You don’t want your dough to be too wet, if it is wet or sticky, just add some flour until you get the dough into a non-sticky ball.

Allow the dough a little rest, 30 minutes or so, and then roll into balls about 2.5cm or 1 inch, in diameter.  Once you have a bowl full of dough balls, line your Tortilla Press with parchment paper (to stop the flat bread from sticking), place the dough ball in the middle, press down with the lever, lift the lid and you should see a lovely round flat bread ready for cooking.

Cook the flat bread in a crepe pan, on a medium heat with just a smear of oil, cook on both sides and then return to the first side and watch your bread swell and puff, this is your cue to take it off the stove.  Just a note, if you are not getting the ‘puff’ happening, you might not have your pan hot enough, or your flat bread might be too thin.  Don’t be disheartened if you don’t get it ‘just so’ on your first try – it took me a while to get to ‘flat bread Nirvana’!

Do you have some favourite accompaniments with your flat bread?  Please share…I would love to get some new ideas!

By the way here is my first version of Nanna Bread, if you would like to read where it all began.

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Aargh, home made ~ Gold Chocolate Coins

Yes I know, you are looking at these home-made golden coins, and you might be thinking – why not buy them – why go to the hassle?  Well, one outrageous, life threatening allergy to dairy, and a 5-year-old boy who wanted gold pirate coins ~ need I say more.  The gold chocolate coins you buy in the store are typically made with dairy, so a no go for us.

So for ‘Talk like a Pirate Day’ all I could do was make some chocolate buttons; not enough notice…only found out three day’s before that the Teachers were handing out gold chocolate (dairy) coins to all the pre-primary children.   However, since then I have been on a quest and have found a golden chocolate maker at a local store for $11!

You need to add your own chocolate

The box comes with only four chocolate moulds

Chocolate coin making station

Pressing out the foil, ready to stamp onto the coins

The making of this Pirate Treasure is tricky, like following a treasure map!  And the embossing of the pattern, near on impossible, you must have the chocolate at the right temperature, but all of this is not important, because my little boy loves that the chocolate is in golden foil, chocolate coins are now in the realm of magic and wonder!

What is it about packaging that makes the ordinary – extraordinary?  His feedback “delicious – can I take the golden coins to share with my class?”  Love his generosity.

For the record, there are four chocolate molds in the box,  and we made a huge total of 8 coins!  Ha!  My son and my husband had one a piece – hence only 6 for the photograph!

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Run, run, as fast as you can

 You can’t catch me, I’m the gingerbread man
I’m the gingerbread man and I’m out of the pan!

Got him!

It’s always fun to bake gingerbread, and as you can see my son loves them!  He couldn’t wait to take a bite out of this one, albeit he was competing with a blow-up crocodile!

Gingerbread Recipe

125 grams (4 ounces) of non dairy margarine or coconut oil

1/2 – 3/4 cup of brown sugar

1/4 of molasses or golden syrup

2 1/2 cups of plain flour sifted

2 teaspoons of powdered ginger

1 teaspoon of bicarbonate of soda

Mix the non dairy margarine/coconut oil with the sugar until creamy, add the molasses, flour, ginger and bicarbonate of soda.  Mix until a smooth dough is formed.  Let it rest in the fridge for about 15 minutes.  Roll out the dough – you can do this between sheets of non stick paper, if you are a bit anxious about rolling this will make it a snap.  Roll out to about 5mm or a 1/4 inch thick, cut out your shapes with a cookie cutter and bake in a preheated oven of about 190’C (or 375’F) for 8-10 minutes until cooked.

To ice you can be as precise or rustic (see my gingerbread!) as you like!  I used organic raw sugar milled in my Thermomix to a fine powder and just added a tiny bit of water, and for the final touch we added currants.

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Coco-licious

My 5-year-old son often asks me “when can I eat all the other foods, the ones my friends eat”?

I have to admit, each time I hear this question a part of me feels crushed inside.  It opens up all the guilt, anger, frustration, grief, and I hear the many queries that people ask me about his several, life threatening food allergies:

  • was he full term?
  • did you breast feed?
  • did you have trouble with your pregnancy?
  • how was your diet – when you were pregnant?
  • do you or your husband have allergies?
  • was your home too clean?
  • did you have a pet – they are known to prevent allergies.
  • did you think he will grow out of it?
  • oh my God, can he eat anything?
  • it’s just an intolerance it’s not life threatening?

But of course I don’t show him my vulnerability, I go over my many mantras, “it’s a matter of time, one day you will eat all of those foods, in the meantime you are lucky because all your food is made by Mummy, it has special love in it, to make you big and strong.”

So today, a big day, we did a coconut food challenge and he passed!  Whoo-hoo!  Another small milestone in the journey of adding new foods, and coconut has so many health benefits too, for example it’s high in Omega-3 fatty acids, it also has a saturated fat called Lauric Acid which is good for nutrient absorption and even better, it’s stored in your body as energy, not as fat.

Last year we had three food challenges, they were for pea, salmon and banana, and he passed all three, a good year!

This year we have been on a ‘go-slow’, with my son starting pre-school, and having caught every bug known to affect kids on the Planet; except for gastro and nits, and for that I am grateful.

With food challenges, you have to be well, you must not have had an anti-histamine for seven days (prior to the challenge), so given that its Winter here, it has been a bit tricky to schedule a food challenge.

Food challenges need to be staged carefully and tightly controlled,  our Specialist has a risk management strategy which dictates where the food challenge is conducted:

  • minimal risk foods are tried at home; but if you need support she is happy to do it in her Surgery (coconut was done at home today!);
  • low risk foods are done in her Surgery; where she can monitor progress ( we did the banana & salmon in her Surgery);
  • medium risk foods are done in the Outpatient Department of the local Children’s Hospital; (this is where we did the pea challenge);
  • high risk foods are done on the Ward of the Children’s Hospital; more intense Nursing supervision (almond challenge coming up in three weeks).
    • Prior to the high risk challenge, a lung function and a skin prick test (testing the food on the skin) is conducted, I find this comforting, because if the results are not good, you can withdraw (ie watch me run out of the hospital with son) from the challenge.

There is also one more important requirement with food challenges, as a parent, you need to feel strong, confident and in the right space.  I have done a high risk food challenge that didn’t go well,  it ended up with me administering the Epi-Pen (the Nurses coach the parents through the process), he was  3 years of age and has no memory of it; I am now proficient in administering the Epi-Pen.  But the memory of this and other allergy reactions, make me feel nervous/anxious every time we try a new food.

Today was the day for the coconut challenge, and after much procrastination, the coconut and chocolate muffins were made; I always try to put the new food into something he would be interested in eating, and chocolate is always a winner!

What a relief that it all went well,  my son now can enjoy the texture of a cheesecake, Thai curries and macaroons and so much more.

So TYG (Thank You God) I am feeling grateful and just savouring this little, yet big milestone.

I am confident that one day we will all look back on this and smile.

If you would like to read more about the health benefits of coconut you can check out this post.

Picture Credit: Eat Fit Food Blog

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Slice of (icy) Heaven

Think double choc-chip, a crispy molten indulgence, teamed with creamy vanilla infused strawberry ice-cream, then to finish the experience a layer of fresh strawberries…heaven in a mouthful?  Definitely!

This adventure into icy treats has been a challenge, I don’t do cookies!  But, luckily for me the stars must have aligned and the cookies turned out beautifully.

Next stop was making the ice cream, no sweat, we make strawberry ice cream all the time; you can find it here.

To form the sandwich/slice I used food preparation rings, they are quite tall so you could do several layers: what a wicked indulgence that would be!  Just put them in the freezer, for a few hours, pop out the ice-cream sandwich from the ring, and you are ready to enjoy!

This treat was made for the little muse in my life, my son, so it is dairy and egg free;  a new food sensation for him – the joy of ice-cream sandwiches!

My son misses out on quite a few things because of his allergies, my mission is to convert recipes, think outside of the box and come up with alternatives that are tasty, delicious and importantly provide him with wonderful memories of (home-made) childhood treats.

By the way, the cookie recipe is from one of my favourite Bakers – Erin McKenna, her book titled “Babycakes” is a must have.

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Twice Cooked Beef Stock

Over coffee the other day, my friend told me about an awesome broccoli soup, this recipe has her (carnivore loving) husband asking for refills!  I was intrigued until she explained that she amps up the flavour with beef stock,  ah ha – there it is, the silent but key secret ingredient.  So stay tuned for the soup recipe, but for now I am going to work on the secret ingredient, the beef stock.

I have never ventured into the world of making beef stock, but figured that I would need to get some beef bones.  After a bit of research, it appears that you need several beef bones to make a rich beef stock; which means lots of fat.  I have to say I loathe skimming off fat, it is a necessary by-product when you make stock, it just makes my stomach churn.

Never being one to go with convention, and to decrease my stomach churn, I thought I’d reduce the amount of saturated fat in the stock,  and just use the t-bone steak I had in the fridge. (instead of several beef bones).

Below is my recipe, of course adjust to suit your to your taste buds, more beef bones, more salt, but just one thing you must do, please caramelise the beef bones/steak, it adds a lovely depth and richness of flavour; I use the oven to do this job, and you get the added benefit of the kitchen filling with a gorgeous, tantalising aroma.

Twice Cooked Beef Stock:

Oven

Line a shallow oven tray with parchment paper, into this add:

  • 1 t-bone steak – trim off excess fat
  • 1 carrot
  • 1 leek
  • 1 bulb of garlic cloves (washed with skin on), cut horizontally through
  • 1 quartered onion
  • 2 sprigs of rosemary
  • 1 tablespoon of olive oil and
  • good pinch of salt

Lightly massage all of the ingredients (with oil and salt) and place into a pre-heated oven at about 180′ for 40 minutes.

Stove Top

When the timer goes off, take the entire contents of the baking tray including pan juices and place it in a large pot, add:

  •  1 teaspoon of salt
  • 4 roughly chopped celery sticks
  • 1 leak
  • 1 onion roughly chopped
  • 1 roughly chopped carrot
  • handful of  green beans
  • 1 cm of ginger
  • 2 bay leaves
  • 5 peppercorns
  • 3 cloves

Cover the ingredients with water, place lid on pot, bring the stock to boil and simmer for an hour.  Strain through the contents of the pot and place stock (liquid)  into the fridge.  Discard the vegetable slurry, but keep the meat from the T-Bone Steak for some delicious beef and mustard sandwiches.  My stock is quite cloudy because I push through each delicious drop from the vegetables, you can make yours clear if you avoid doing this, and of course you can get all sophisticated and use a muslin cloth.

The next day when you check on your stock (in the fridge) you should notice a miniscule oil slick on top (as opposed to a thick oil slick!) gently and carefully remove this and place on to some kitchen paper and put in the bin (don’t put it down your sink you may clog the drain).

Congratulations! You now have a flavourful, low-fat, home-made beef stock ready to use!  You can keep it in your fridge for two or three days or freeze it in ice-cube trays, ready to add flavour to your meals.

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Pasta Tales

Have you ever tried to make pasta?  Have you seen your favourite TV chef just easily and effortlessly produce angel hair or fettucine pasta?

DON’T BE FOOLED – IT’S NOT AS EASY AS IT LOOKS!

Several years ago we received a pasta maker for a wedding present, it seems like eons ago, since this time we have moved house, changed jobs, started a business and had a beautiful child.

Sadly the couple who gave us this fabulous present, will never get to try my pasta delights together, they have recently divorced.  It’s ironic that as I hold their gift, celebrating the start of our married life,  I am wishing them happiness in their separate lives.

Curiously, with all this time passing,  our pasta maker is still state-of-the-art, it seems good design lasts,  and perhaps it might be something we might (gladly – more of this later) hand on to our son.

So with all this reminiscing, I removed our mint-in-the-box pasta maker (from its box) and read the instructions, it seemed relatively simple, not too much information, one small A5 page and that was all!

First step was to make the dough, easy enough, 3 cups of wholemeal flour, pinch of salt, 1 tablespoon of olive oil, 1 cup of water, and a tablespoon of tomato sauce (my son’s touch –  not mine), mix together, knead for 5 minutes and leave it to rest for 30 minutes.

The next steps are fraught with danger, here are my warnings:

Warning 1: do not attempt to make pasta if you have just cleaned your kitchen or wearing your favourite black outfit,  you need lots of flour and it can (and will) get everywhere (especially if you Sous Chef is a 5-year-old – ‘Ninja’ role playing boy…).

Warning 2:  The pasta machine is a beautiful piece of gadget, a nightmare to clean, you can’t immerse it in water and you can’t put anything through the rollers to clean it, so lots of time spent picking out wet pasta.

Warning 3: Please make sure your pasta is on the dry side (see Warning 2).

Warning 4:  Don’t take the roller dial – past 6, the dough won’t hold up (well mine didn’t!) .  Let me re-iterate Warning # 2!

Warning 5:  After all this effort, beware your critics mights say “It tastes funny Mummy” (see pasta with the 1 basil leaf rating above), be prepared to abandon the dish and just give him the Bolognese sauce with bread.

Warning 6:  Did I mention there is an awful lot of cleaning – post the excitement of making your first batch of pasta?

Warning 7:  When you pack the pasta maker away, you may not bring it out again – maybe your sister, Mum, Aunty, Mother-In-Law would like to try it out?

I manged three pasta attempts: you can see the results in the images above:

  • Bowl 1 ~  with the 1 basil leaf rating:  organic shaped fettucine, that was sticky and wet – this is the pasta that my son judged as “tasting funny”.
  • Bowl 2 – with the 2 basil leaf rating: I thought I’d try the spaghetti press, dough was still too sticky, so more organic shaped pasta, more cleaning.
  • Bowl 3 – with the 3 basil leaf rating: Finally something resembling spaghetti, and it didn’t taste too bad either!

So like Goldilocks, I finally got some semblance of ‘just right’ spaghetti but was it worth the effort?

In the short-term, it’s manufactured pasta for me, sometimes you have to love the ease of prepared food!

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Soup Therapy

Whilst waiting in the Doctor’s Surgery with my very ill son, for about the 5th time in two weeks, I started to think about making soup.  My son is currently battling a chest infection and a high temperature, on the back of bilateral middle ear infections.  I find a great comfort in cooking, there is logic to it, when sometimes life seems to escape logic or reason, it’s my way of meditating and thinking positively, you have to hope for the best when you are cooking, otherwise you end up with an unloved goo that no one wants to eat!

Without the escape of cooking, the other alternative, with no sleep and stress,  is to worry about a possible hospital admission and thinking the worst, so keeping my mind busy with recipe hunting is a good thing – perhaps a type of chicken soup for the soul.

So quite aptly I used my smart phone to look up a recipe for chicken noodle soup.  I was pleased to see that I had most of the ingredients except chicken stock, which I decided in my sleep deprived addled brain that I would make myself as soon as we left the Doctors surgery for home.  Because surely a fresh stock would be better for my son than a manufactured one and perhaps this would also help boost his immune system.

We did a quick shop on the way home and came home with a whole chicken.  We washed the chicken and then set about adding the stock ingredients into my large pot; my son laughed at the size of the chicken and how funny it looked; 5 year olds have a great sense of humour and their imagination is priceless!

The stock required 90 minutes to infuse on a simmer, and if I had my way again I would do it the day before, it just gives you the ability to effortlessly skim of the fat before using it.

The Chicken Noodle Soup quickly followed and I was really pleased I had a packet of Orgran Corn and Rice Noodles in the pantry.

The Soup was a hit and of course my son insisted on croutons so that was added too, but you might want to leave this part out.

Chicken Stock

  • whole chicken – washed and placed in stock pot
  • 3 sticks celery – chopped into halves
  • 1 large onion chopped into quarters (Jamie Oliver washes the onion with skin on, and puts the whole lot in – it’s up to you!)
  • 1/2 leek
  • 2 cloves of garlic crushed
  • 2 cm piece of garlic chopped roughly
  • 1 teaspoon of turmeric (this spice is well-regarded as an antiflammatory by Indians)
  • 1 pinch of salt
  • 2 fresh bay leaves (or dry)
  • 1 good pinch of fresh oregano
  • 3 peppercorns
  • 1 stick of cinnamon

Place all ingredients in stock pot, with enough water to cover the chicken, bring the pot to a boil and then gently simmer for 90 minutes.  When time is up, remove the chicken (you will use it later), strain the stock and place it immediately in the fridge.    The chicken can be used for some lovely sandwich fillings, or finely chopped to add back into the chicken noodle soup (see next step).

Chicken Noodle Soup

  • 3 cups of chicken stock plus 2 cups of water
  • 1 onion finely chopped
  • 1/2 leek finely chopped
  • 1 celery stick finely chopped
  • 1 clove garlic crushed
  • 1cm ginger finely chopped
  • 1 teaspoon of cummin
  • pinch of salt
  • shake of pepper
  • 1 tablespoon of olive oil
  • potato, carrot, pumpkin, beans (or whatever you like) diced into small cubes so they cook evenly
  • finely chopped poached chicken (leftover chicken from the stock process) as much or as little as you like
  • 1/2 cup of Orgran corn and rice noodles

Gently fry the onion, leek, garlic, ginger, celery, salt, add the cummin and wait until aroma is released, add the stock and water, bring to a simmer.  Place vegetables into soup mixture, cover the pot with a lid and cook on a simmer for 30 minutes.  Add noodles cook for a further 12 minutes (or per instructions for cooking of noodles), add chopped cooked chicken, cook for a further 3 minutes (to warm through), finish with freshly ground pepper and parsley.  Hope you and your family enjoy this soup!

Serves 6

This Recipe is linked to Allergy Free Wednesdays – a great spot to find some innovative food.

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