Masterchef and Gluten Free Food

by Veronica on May 23, 2010

So, I’ve been watching Masterchef regularly, as I did last season. I’m interested to see what they’re cooking and blah blah blah. Anyway, they had a challenge, to cook a family dinner for a ‘random’ supermarket chosen family.

Now, considering the families all had spotless houses and various other pretty-ing up bits that led me to believe it was all a load of crap, I ended up screaming at the TV a lot.

You know? When you’re cooking for kids, you don’t get to piss around making the kidlets wait for their meal. Also, cooking a family meal while someone else keeps the kids out from under your feet? Jesus, but I’d love to get that happening around here. Instead the children screech at me from one side of the bench while I juggle hot pans and plates on the other side, well lets just say, cooking in a full tilt commercial kitchen is less stressful than cooking for small children while they screech at you.

Give me an angry chef anyday. Much prefer that to a tantrumming toddler.

Yes. Yes I would.

I thought about it some more and would love to imagine a Masterchef team cooking in my tiny galley kitchen. It’s barely big enough for one person, let along eight of them. And we’ll not mention I would fucking love to see them cook gluten free for a night. Seriously, I would. It’s not that hard, but gosh, it would stretch their resources to have to avoid all wheat and a lot of easy options. No bread, no croutons, no noodles.

It would be interesting, to say the least.

However, the good thing about cooking gluten free, aside from learning to read every single label on food, is that everything really needs to be home cooked, from fresh and simple ingredients. Something I am great at now. It gives a whole new meaning to ‘snacks’ when you can’t just give bread and jam, or sandwiches to tide them over.

Anyway – that’s just me. I’d like to see the masterchef contestants stretched out of their comfort zone a little more.

Plus, I thought while I was complaining about gluten free food and mainstream food shows that I’d share my recipe for Gluten Free Chocolate Cake, which is pretty good.

Gluten Free Chocolate Cake:

Separate 3 eggs, free range is good. I’ve got chooks, so I get eggs from them and I know that they’re happy healthy eggs from healthy chooks. How I know they’re healthy? Well, they’ve pecked all my seedlings of kale to pieces, so they’ve GOT to be healthy, right? Plus, the shells are so hard that cracking them is difficult and my yolks are a lovely bright orange.

Pop the yolks into your mixing bowl with a half a cup of sugar. Leave to beat until they’re thick and lucious looking.

While they’re beating, beat your egg whites until soft peaks form and then add 3-4 teaspoons of sugar and beat until dissolved.

Then melt 200g of dark chocolate with 150ml of cream and 2 tablespoons of butter.

To the thick egg yolk and sugar mix add a cup of almond meal, or hazelnut meal, depending on your taste and the contents of your cupboard. Mix in slowly. Add the melted chocolate mixture to the egg yolks and mix in gently. Add 3/4 of a cup of apple sauce as well. When combined, add gluten free self raising flour until the batter looks thick and creamy.

Yes, I do cook by feel more than by measurements. It generally works out to be about 3/4 of a cup of gluten free flour. I use the Orgran brand and love it, it works well. Almost as well as wheat flour.

Once the batter looks all batter-y and cake like, fold the egg whites into it carefully. Pop it into a well greased 20cm round cake pan. I line the bottom with baking paper as well, but that’s because I don’t have a fan forced oven.

Cook at 160C for around 50-60 minutes, or until the cake bounces back when pressed in the middle. Leave to cool in the pan for 15 minutes, before turning out onto a cooling rack. When cool, ice. I used lemon icing and it was delicious.

Ingredients:

3 eggs, separated
1/2 cup of sugar plus an extra 3-4 teaspoons
1 cup of almond or hazelnut meal
200g of cooking chocolate
150ml of cream
2 tablespoons of butter
3/4 cup of apple sauce
3/4 cup of gluten free self raising flour – more or less, depending on how runny your applesauce is. Mine was home made and thick, so I didn’t need as much flour.

Separate the eggs and beat the yolks with the sugar until they’re thick and creamy. While they’re beating, whisk the egg whites to soft peaks and then add 3-4 teaspoons of sugar. Whisk until the sugar dissolves.

Melt the chocolate with the cream and butter and set aside to cool a little.

When the yolks are creamy and thick, add the almond meal and then the cooled chocolate mixture and apple sauce. Mix gently.

Add the gluten free SR flour and combine. When it looks like cake batter, nice and thick (you may need to add more flour), fold in the egg whites and place the entire mix into a greased and lined 20cm cake pan.

Cook at 160C for 50-60 minutes.

Enjoy!

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Herb Marinated Lamb Chops

by Veronica on May 10, 2010

Cooked Marinade

Herb Marinated Lamb Chops:

I was worried, with all the effort I went to, that no one would eat them. It’s murphy’s law with kids though, the more time and energy expended, the less they eat.

However, I needn’t have worried. They were delicious and if the kids didn’t eat any more than normal, I’m not fussed because they did eat some. Isaac was more impressed with the cooked silverbeet to be honest. Obviously he’s his father’s son, because it took until I started growing my own silverbeet for me to be able to eat the bloody stuff. I preferred English spinach any day of the week. And before we start arguing, yes, they do taste different.

I marinated my lamb chops for around an hour, if I was more organised, I would have marinated them for 24 hours. But I’m not, so I didn’t. Organisation isn’t my strong point. I have my internet stuff organised perfectly and I can generally find what I’m looking for, but remembering to plan ahead for dinner? Nope, not something I’m good at.

Silverbeet

Marinated Lamb Chops

Roast Potato

Now, the all important Marinade – because I’m fairly sure you all know how to cook roasted potatoes and lamb chops.

In a snap lock bag combine:

3 cloves of garlic chopped finely, NOT crushed
half an onion, very finely diced
2-3 tips of fresh oregano, finely chopped
a spring onion, finely chopped
5-6 chives, finely chopped
a small handful of parsley, finely chopped
5-6 mint tips, finely chopped
juice from 3/4 of a lemon
5-6 tablespoons of olive oil
1 teaspoon of salt, more if you like things saltier
1 1/2 teaspoons of sugar

Add the lamb chops and mix to make sure they’re entirely covered with marinade. Squeeze the snaplock bag to remove as much air as possible before sealing. Set aside in the fridge for as long as you can bear.

Trust me, it’s delicious.

If you don’t have the herbs I did, experiment with what you’ve got. I’m lucky enough to have fresh herbs in the garden all year around. Previously, when I was living in rented properties, I used to grow all my herbs in window boxes. So worth it.

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Strawberry Jam

by Veronica on April 22, 2010

I love jam. Absolutely love it.

Also, I get a little bit obsessive about things and I tend to, once I start, make an awful lot of something. I mean, currently, I’ve got 20 jars of various things I’ve made in the bottom of my cupboard. I probably don’t need to make any more, but I’m getting twitchy at the amount of cooking I’ve not been doing. Cooking dinner for kidlets doesn’t count.

So, strawberry jam. Jam isn’t nearly as difficult as people would have you believe. In fact, jam is probably the simplest thing ever to make.

Ingredients

equal amounts of fruit and sugar.

See? EASY.

If you’re using soft fruits like strawberries, I’d also add the juice from one lemon, to help with the setting.

Chop the strawberries up and put them into a pot with the lemon juice and sugar. Stir over a medium heat until the sugar has dissolved. Let it simmer until it starts to look thicker and jammy like. I then take a bamix to it to smooth it out, but some people like chunks, so that’s your personal choice.

Once it’s cooked, pour it into hot sterilised jars (hot soapy water and then 5 minutes in the oven works for me) and do the lids up tightly. I use the ‘pop top’ lids, because they will reseal as the jam cools, leaving you with perfectly sealed and sterile jars.

Then you can serve it on pancakes, or whatever takes your fancy.

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Gluten Free Pancakes with Strawberries and Cream

by Veronica on April 12, 2010

Pancakes gluten free with strawberries

Last night when I’d completely forgotten to get anything out of the freezer AGAIN and the kids were grumping at me for food, I found myself in a bit of a situation. Since the kids were diagnosed with Coeliacs, it took away a lot of my ‘easy’ meal options. I’m fine with that, but it means meals need a little more forethought, and as we’d had pasta the night previously, I really didn’t feel like pasta yet again.

I’d made strawberry jam, a few days previously, (recipe coming) and so, what better way to feed the kidlets jammy sticky things than pancakes?

I like pancakes, they’re easy and topped with all the right things, they’re delicious.

My strawberry jam, the first batch, I didn’t add enough sugar too and it’s more of a strawberry sauce. But that was even better to be honest.

So, I cooked up a batch of pancakes, topped them with strawberry jam/sauce, applesauce (home made, of course), cream and fresh strawberries.

And oh my word, they were fantastic.

Much recommended.

Ingredients:

1 cup of gluten free Self Raising Flour – I use the Orgran brand, it works really well.
1 cup of gluten free Plain Flour
2 eggs
1 cup of milk
enough water to make the batter the consistency you want. Mine was medium thick.
pinch of salt

You could also add a teaspoon of vanilla essence if you wanted, or a tablespoon of sugar.

Method:

Mix the 2 flours together and make a well in the centre. Add the 2 eggs and the milk and beat, adding water until you’ve got the consistency you want.

Cook 1/2 cup amounts in an oiled pan until bubbles form, before flipping and cooking the other side.

Serve with whatever toppings you desire. Jam and cream is my favourite, although lemon and sugar is common too.

Pancakes gluten free with strawberries

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White Poached Chicken

by Veronica on April 10, 2010

A Very Long Time Ago I was reading a Chinese cookbook and it spoke about white poached chicken. I was 12 or 13 at the time and so didn’t make it, but it must have made enough of an impression on me that I kept the recipe in my head.

I bought a whole chicken the other day and planned on roasting it. However, when dinner time came around, I didn’t feel like roast chicken and so, I poached it.

The meat ends up very moist and delicately flavoured and unlike with roast chicken, there is no grease or oilyness to speak of, making it fantastic for feeding to short messy children.

Plus, the prep is amazingly simple, meaning I could do it while simultaneously playing with the children.

Take a whole chicken and rinse it inside and out. Trim off any excess fat from the neck and around the cavity. Rinse again and then salt the cavity generously. If you’re organised, and have kitchen string on hand, truss your chicken. I am decidedly NOT organised and I never remember to buy kitchen string. My chicken remained untrussed (side note: spell check wants me to change untrussed to undressed. my chicken also remained undressed, so that’s probably correct as well).

Take a pot of cold water and add a generous measure of salt. Also add some fresh herbs – I used parsley and chives, tied together with garlic tops – lemon slices snd garlic.

The acidity from the lemon is important I think I remember reading. Never mind, the lemon makes it taste good anyway.

Bring the water to a rolling boil. When it’s almost boiling, scoop out the fresh herbs, they’ll taste a little stewed if you leave them in there and it will pass to your chicken.

Add your chicken to the boiling water and bring back to the boil. Boil, with a lid on, for 5 minutes and then take it off the heat immediately. Using foil, seal the lid on the pot tightly to prevent steam loss. Cover with a couple of tea towels to help hold in heat and then leave it for an hour.

I saved the fat that I’d trimmed from the chicken and rendered it down, along with some lard from the roast pork that I’d saved. I used this to shallow fry some potatoes.

After an hour, scoop out some of the chicken water and thicken it to make gravy. I use a mix of flour and butter blended together, and whisked into hot liquid to make gravy – obviously with Amy’s coeliacs, I use a gluten free flour blend from Orgran and the flavour and effect are identical to wheat flour.

Remove the chicken from the hot water – it should be cooked through. This would be a good time to point out that the water and the chicken and still very hot and if you’re using tongs, there is a likelihood that the water from inside the chicken will run down the tongs when you lift them and burn you. You’re welcome. I do these things so you don’t have to.  If you’re using an extra large chicken, larger than an 18, I would suggest leaving the chicken for 90 minutes to sit.

I am a terrible food blogger and didn’t take photos of the chicken as it emerged. I was too busy nursing a burned hand, swearing, and pushing children away from the hot things. Sorry.

Serve with whatever vegetables you like and gravy made from the chicken stock. If you’re being authentic, you’d probably use steamed pak choy or similar. I served mine with crispy potatoes, peas, silverbeet, chard and gravy.

Delicious.

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