Archive for the ‘Gluten Free’ Category

I adore taramosalata.

I’ve always made a version with potatoes instead of breadcrumbs, but my original recipe makes an enormous quantity – far more than should be eaten at the one time.  And that’s  the problem with taramosalata – it’s hard to stop eating it until it’s all gone.

Over the years I’ve fiddled with the recipe, reducing the added oil as much as I can without compromising the flavour too much.  I’ve also increased the lemon juice, as I find the acidity helps cut through the richness of the fish roe.

These days I make a small batch of taramosalata, just for me.  It’s the right amount to satisfy a craving!

  • 1 large white-fleshed potato
  • 50g tarama paste (roe)
  • 2 tablespoons (8 teaspoons) extra virgin olive oil
  • 2 teaspoons lemon juice
  • 1 teaspoon white vinegar
  • ½ small white onion, chopped
  • Boiling water

1. Peel the potato, cut it into chunks and microwave until tender (this should only take a few minutes).

2.  In the small bowl of the food processor, blitz together the onion, tarama paste, lemon juice, white vinegar and olive oil.  Pulse until relatively smooth.

3. Add the potato chunks, a few at a time, adding a little boiling water as you go, pulsing to combine. Add the rest of the potatoes and as much boiling water as needed to ensure the finished dip is smooth and quite runny – it will firm up a little in the fridge.  The amount of water needed will depend on the type of potato you use – some absorb more liquid than others.

Note: the original recipe used twice as much olive oil as water, which definitely made for a more luscious dip!  These quantities make approximately a cup and a half of taramosalata.

PS. For all the folks who have asked below, here’s what the tarama roe looks like. Over here, it’s usually available at Greek or Continental delis…

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If you knew what I know about the power of giving, you would not let a single meal pass without sharing it in some way.


We feed a lot of people, because we can.

We send loaves of bread to the neighbours, deliver baked treats to our local shopkeepers, and take chocolates on visits to our family GP.  We routinely bake for the school orchestra, attend Parent-Teacher interviews with brownies wrapped in parchment paper, and arrive with afternoon tea for our favourite stallholders at Flemington Markets.

Perhaps you’ve thought about taking a plate of cookies to work, or offering the local fruiterer a sample of your latest baked wares, but have always been too shy or reserved to actually do it.

If that’s the case, let me encourage you to give it a go this festive season!  Here are five of our favourite recipes to get you started…

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Butterscotch Bars

This is the recipe that started it all – the first universally popular treat that I ever baked.  I reckon I’ve made this recipe a hundred times.  It’s incredibly versatile – perfect for afternoon tea, as a gift for almost every occasion, and it’s a great cake stall item for the school fête.  Come up with your own combination of chocolate and nut add-ins, and make this recipe uniquely yours.

Click here for the recipe

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Toffee Bars

I’ve only recently come back to these after a long hiatus, but since then I’ve baked them three times.  They’re incredibly easy to make, and the ingredients are always on standby in our pantry.  The recipe makes a large number of bars, so there’s plenty to go around.  Use the best dark chocolate you can find, and whatever nuts you have on hand.

Click here for the recipe

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Supernatural Brownies

This Nick Malgieri recipe makes the list because it tastes wonderful, doesn’t require an electric mixer, and best of all, makes a double-sized batch of brownies. I tweaked the original methodology just a little to make these even easier.  They’re super quick too – I once timed myself and found that mixing up the batter took a leisurely 13 minutes and 25 seconds.

Click here for the recipe

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Freezer Shortbread Cookies

One of the earliest recipes we blogged, these shortbread cookies are my mother’s favourites.  The rolls store in the freezer for months, and can be thawed and baked at short notice.  Again, the toppings on the cookies can be varied to suit your personal preference – a couple of my variations are included below.  I’d love to see any new ones you come up with!

Chai Shortbread Cookies…

Chocolate and Ginger Shortbread

Click here for the freezer dough recipe

Click here for the Chocolate and Ginger version

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Little Chocolate Cakes

Like the other four recipes, this one is simple to make, but has the added advantage of being gluten-free.  Within days of the original blog post, our friends Heidi, Joanna and Lisa had whipped these little cakes up in their own kitchens – it’s that kind of recipe.  Dust the tops generously with icing sugar – it always adds a festive touch!

Click here for the recipe

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Sharing the food from our kitchen brings us enormous joy and great satisfaction.

I know most of my fellow bloggers feel the same way, and I’d love to know who you share your culinary creations with.  And thank you to everyone who is still reading this blog after nearly three years – it’s been a pleasure to share our kitchen with all of you too!

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Our dear friend PeteA has coeliac disease, and a pre-diagnosis history of passionate chocolate brownie consumption.  For the past fifteen years, I’ve been trying to bake him a really good gluten-free brownie.

I didn’t want something which was nearly as good as, or a reasonable substitute for, a regular brownie. I wanted a recipe that was moreish, irresistible and absolutely delicious in its own right.

By substituting chestnut flour for the plain flour in our fudge brownie recipe, I think we’ve finally succeeded!

The litmus test was my husband Pete. The fudge brownies are his personal favourite, yet he felt the chestnut version was as good as, if not better than, the original.  The chestnut flour adds a subtle nuttiness and richness which we both found very appealing.

Please remember that this recipe works best with 50 – 60% cacao dark chocolate – anything higher than that, and you could end up with an oily brick.  I discussed this in depth in the original post here.

The batch I baked for PeteA had chocolate chips stirred through the batter, but the recipe should work equally well with added nuts instead.

The  reworked gluten-free version is as follows:

  • 90g (6 tablespoons) unsalted butter
  • 225g (8oz) 50 – 60% cacao semisweet chocolate (I used Callebaut 54%)
  • 150g (¾ cup) sugar
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 2 large (59g) eggs, at room temperature
  • 40g (¼ cup) chestnut flour (sifted)
  • 135g (1 cup) toasted and chopped nuts, OR 150g (1 cup) chocolate bits (Note: for the all chocolate version, I used 100g Callebaut 44% bake stable sticks, broken up AND 50g Callebaut 70% callets)

1. Preheat oven to 175C/350F or 160C/320F with fan.

2. Measure out all your ingredients and have them ready to go.  Line a 20cm (8″) baking pan with parchment paper.

3. In a medium saucepan, melt the butter, then add the chocolate and stir over low heat until melted and smooth.  Remove from the heat and stir in the sugar and vanilla until combined.

4. Stir in the eggs one at a time.  Add the sifted chestnut flour all at once and stir vigorously until you can feel the batter “snap”.

The batter starts out grainy and fairly loose.  As you beat it by hand, it will initially feel like nothing is happening, and then it will suddenly feel a bit stiffer – that’s when you’ll know a state change has occurred.  This might take one minute, or it might take several.  Stop occasionally to check how it’s going. Unlike true fudge, it’s not a huge “snap”, but the texture will definitely change noticeably – it will feel stiffer, look smoother, and pull away from the sides and bottom of the pan.

Edit Jan 2019: It’s been eight years since I wrote this post, and my hands are eight years older as well, so these days I use a handheld mixer to beat the batter. It only takes a minute or two, but it’s just easier.

5. Gently stir in the inclusions.

6. Scrape the batter into the lined tin and smooth out the top.  Bake for 25 minutes until just firm.   Do not overbake. Allow the brownies to cool completely before lifting them out of the pan and slicing.  Enjoy with gluten-free abandon!

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Yet another recipe from my wonderful Ottolenghi cookbook, and this one is an absolute winner.

If, like me, you’re a florentine fan, this is a very easy version which results in a crisp, delectable cookie.  I’ve modified the methodology just the tiniest bit, added a little Kirsch and omitted the orange zest – simply because I didn’t have any on hand.  I also measured everything in cups as I went along for my friends in the US.

  • 2 free-range egg whites
  • 100g (¾ cup)  icing sugar mixture (confectioner’s sugar)
  • 260g (3 cups) flaked almonds
  • splash of Kirsch (optional)
  • 70% dark chocolate, tempered (optional)

1. Preheat the oven to 150C (300F) with fan.  Line a couple of baking trays with parchment paper, then spray the paper with a little vegetable oil (I used canola oil).

2. Whisk the egg whites gently for about 30 seconds (just to break it up a bit, not to get it whipped up or aerated), then sift in the icing sugar mixture and  optional Kirsch and whisk gently to combine.  Now using a spatula, carefully stir in the flaked almonds until well coated.

3. Spoon small mounds of the mixture onto the prepared baking trays – you want to end up with about 20 in total.   Leave room between each mound.  Now, with a wet fork and a wet hand, gently flatten out each mound as thinly as possible without too many gaps between the almond flakes (or they’ll fall apart).

4. Bake until the florentines are golden brown – the original instructions recommend 12 minutes, but my three batches took 15, 18 and 14 minutes respectively.  All I can suggest is that you keep a close eye on them after the 12 minute mark, as the cooking time will depend greatly on how flat you’ve managed to get the mixture before baking.  What you want to achieve is a well cooked bottom, so once the tops appear done, take the trays out and carefully spatula one over to check.  It should look like the photo below, without any soft bits on the base.

5. The florentines will harden as they cool on the trays, after which time they can be removed to finish cooling on a wire rack.  If you find that some of the bases are still a little undercooked when you start removing them from the parchment, turn those particular florentines upside down and put them back on the trays, and bake for a few more minutes in the oven (I like these really crisp!).

6. The florentines can be left plain, or they can be coated with tempered chocolate.  I spread it over the bottom of each cookie, and then place them chocolate side down onto a sheet of parchment to set.

Click here for a printable version of this recipe

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Moo recently gifted us a log of fig and walnut paste, which I became hooked on immediately.  As it’s a big ask to expect him to ship to us regularly from Adelaide, I thought I’d try to find a way to make this at home.

I’ve created my own recipe for this (and am feeling quite chuffed with how well it turned out!), influenced in part by Mark and Bruce’s Fig Cookie filling and in part by our previous attempts at making nougat.  The end result is delicious – slightly softer than the commercial product and in Pete’s opinion, better tasting…

  • 300g (1¾ cups) Turkish figs
  • 200g (2 cups) walnuts pieces
  • 25g (5 teaspoons) lemon juice
  • 75g (1/3 cup) brown sugar
  • 50g (2 US tablespoons or 30ml) honey

1. Chop the figs up coarsely, removing the stems.  Place them into the bowl of a food processor and blitz until they form a sticky paste.

2. Scrape the paste into a heavy-based non-stick frying pan and add the lemon juice, brown sugar and honey.  Stir for a couple of minutes over a low heat until the sugar dissolves.  Add the walnuts and continue stirring over a low heat until all the liquid has evaporated and the walnuts have coloured slightly.  You want to keep stirring and turning the mixture over until it forms a thick, sticky paste – cook it as long as you can without burning, to allow the sugars to caramelise just slightly.  Watch this carefully, we’re only talking about minutes of cooking time, not hours.

3. Line two small loaf tins with parchment paper (although it probably doesn’t matter what you shape these into).  Scrape the  mix evenly into each tin, flattening out the top with a spatula.  Press a sheet of parchment onto the surface, then place an empty loaf tin on top and a weight on top of that to help flatten out the paste.  In the photo below, I’ve stacked the first tin into the second, then topped them with an empty third, and weighted it all down with my tub of flour.

4. Allow to cool for several hours, until firm. Remove the parchment paper and slice with a sharp knife.  I have my paste wrapped in thick plastic and stored in the pantry, although it would probably keep longer in the fridge.

I adore this fig and walnut paste with a little Picasso sheeps’ cheese and some Italian prosciutto on sourdough bread. Pete has taken to eating chunks of it straight, like a fruit and nut bar.  It is indeed quite healthy – basically figs and nuts held together with a little sugar and honey!

Click here for a printable version of this recipe

. . . . .

Edit: Pete asked me to make an apricot and almond version for him to eat as a bar.  These are the ingredients I used, and he was happy with the result.  Same methodology as above.

  • 300g dried apricots
  • 200g almonds
  • 20ml pomegranate molasses
  • 75 brown sugar
  • splash of water at the start to help the sugar dissolve

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