Gluten free, vegetarian Okonomiyaki

Let me start this recipe by unoquivocally stating that these are not authentic okonomiyaki. In fact, given my exposure to the delicacy extends only to food courts across Australia, I doubt I've ever had authentic okonomiyaki.

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I went through a stage at uni (before going gluten free or even being a strict pescetarian) where I did try and create an authentic version, but I vaguely recall that I was too squeamish to invest in the necessary bonito flakes, and too lazy to hunt down the appropriate flour. Plus, if I'm being totally honest, I personally adore the food court variety. The sadness that overcomes me when I have to walk straight past them at the food court nowadays is overwhelming. 

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I've experimented with a variety of versions throughout the years, but these ones are a gluten free, grain free and FODMAP friendlier adaption that I've been loving lately. I should point out that there's basically no point making them without the sauces - they are the backbone of the whole arrangement. Also, if you don't have Kewpie in your fridge I'd be concerned that you are missing out on an integral part of life, irrespective of whether you're making this dish. 

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INGREDIENTS

100g red cabbage, finely sliced
100g white cabbage, finely sliced
100g carrot (about 1 medium carrot) grated
2 cups almond meal
6 eggs
2 teaspoons Tamari
1/2 cup almond milk

Additionals (heavily recommended ones)
Chives
Kewpie Mayonnaise
Gluten free kecap manis (you can either buy it at the supermarket, or if not a healthfood store)

METHOD

1. In a large bowl, combine the vegetables and almond meal, and toss together until they are all combined. Add the eggs, almond milk (or milk of choice) and Tamari, and mix until thoroughly combined. Add a small pinch of salt if you fancy. Set aside.
2. Heat a nonstick pan to a medium heat, and add a small amount of peanut oil or sesame oil. Sesame gives a strong flavour but I quite like it.
3. Divide the mixture as you see fit. I made 6 pancakes each times, but they are particularly large, so you might want to make slightly smaller ones. 
4. Allow to cook for a couple of minutes, and flip the pancake when it's firm enough to do so. You should be able to see that the cooking side is no longer kinda translucent, and there might potentially be a few lil bubbles on the surface. Repeat on the other side, and then repeat with the remaining pancakes. 
5. Top each pancake generously with Kewpie mayo and the kecap manis, and sprinkle with chives if you can handle them. They keep amazingly in the fridge for snacks or for the quickest microwave dinner you've ever had. 

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Gluten free parmesan, basil and turmeric waffles

If you've followed me for any length of time, you'll likely know that I love a good waffle. Not only does the perceived effort of a waffle skyrocket when compared to a mere old pancake, but I can wander off and a automatic timer will alert me to the fact that my waffles are done, as opposed to the billowing smoke that generally signals to me that my pancakes are (over)cooked. 

It was pretty much my ideal assignment then, when Williams Sonoma asked me if I could create a recipe using this waffle maker. No billowing smoke in this kitchen today, friends. 

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After (another) bout of being particularly unwell in the last couple of weeks, I've started incorporating a lot of turmeric into my foodz for the anti-inflammatory effect. What better way to become less inflamed, I figured, than by eating waffles. I've also been reading up on gut health, and found a study that conveniently suggested cheese was in fact good for the gut, what with the good bacteria and all. Say no more fam. Parmesan and turmeric waffles it is. 

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INGREDIENTS - makes 2 large waffles in a round Breville machine 

1/2 cup almond meal
1/4 cup tapioca flour
1/2 cup almond milk
5g fresh turmeric, grated (most good supermarkets and health food stores sell fresh turmeric these days, or if not your local Asian grocer. Worth hunting for!)
Generous 5g basil leaves, chopped
75g parmesan
1 egg
1/4 teaspoon table salt
1/4 teaspoon baking powder
1/2 teaspoon apple cider vinegar 

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METHOD

1. In a medium bowl, combine the almond meal, tapioca flour, turmeric and parmesan. Pour over the almond milk, and stir until combined. Follow this with the egg, basil, and salt. Stir well.
2. Add the baking powder and apple cider vinegar, stirring in the bubbles. Set aside for 10 or so minutes.
3. Heat your waffle maker as per instructions, and spray liberally with oil before you pour in half the mixture. Close the lid and allow to cook. 
4. Repeat with the second half of the mixture, and then serve with a colourful array of breakfast suited veg. Haloumi also advised. as I said, I recently read that cheese is good for gut health, so... 
 

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Gluten free, grain free fig and blue cheese tart

So I've been doing the whole food 'gramming thing for a while now. I started back when I'd gotten my wisdom teeth out, and, thanks to a lil knick to the sinus, found myself with a lot of free time to decoratively arrange cacao nibs on a plate, and a lot of puffiness. I loved faffing around with my food, and was strictly an Iphone shooter  - I didn't have an SLR, nor did I have much desire to use SLR shots for the gram. 'It defeats the purpose of INSTAgram,' I would say defiantly, a mentality I still deep down agree with, despite caving to the perfectly composed pressure. 

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Eventually, when the whole thing started to get a bit more serious, I invested (aka dedicated my 21st birthday wish list) in a basic SLR. I had no idea how to use it, so I stuck strictly to auto functioning (and continued to do so for a good two years). It was around about this time that I took the original shot of this tart. I didn't have Lightroom, a whole basket of tea towels, a wall lined with backdrops, or a penchant for Artisan crockery. What I did have was a private folder on Facebook that I used to upload my SLR photos, because the concept of getting them from my computer to my phone was absolutely baffling to me. 

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Anyway, the point of this whole ramble is this: that original tart photo is probably the most shared image I've ever created. It still pops up every now and again, even though I posted it two or three years ago. Whether it's because of the algorithm that it has received more attention than anything I've shot on a fancy camera, or because I've already peaked, I can't be sure, but I probably can (*googles how to cope with peaking too soon). 

I've created this version to be completely grain free - the original used oat flour and a bunch of other things my digestive system wouldn't even touch these days. This one also has zucchini flowers, courtesy, again, of my Dad's garden, but they don't necessarily add a whole heap of flavour, and could be omitted if you don't have access to freebies and don't want to take out a small loan.

INGREDIENTS

2 cups almond meal
1/2 cup tapioca flour
50g butter
2 eggs

400g firm ricotta
2 eggs
1/2 cup milk of choice
75g blue cheese
Salt and pepper, to taste
10g (roughly) basil
2-3 figs
4-5 zucchini flowers (optional)

METHOD

1. Preheat the oven to 180 degrees. 
2. In your food processor, combine all the ingredients for the tart base until a ball forms in your food processor.
3. Press the tart base into a greased tart tin. You have to be a big patient, it does take a lil while. Poke the bottom of the tart with fork holes, and then pop it into the oven for 10-15 minutes. 
4. In a large bowl, combine the ricotta and milk, and stir until the ricotta loosens. Add the seasoning, eggs, and basil, and finally stir in the blue cheese. Set aside.
5. Once the tart base is cooked, remove it from the oven and, after cooling for a couple of minutes, pour the ricotta mixture in. Arrange your fig slices and zucchini flowers on top, and give them a light spray of olive oil. Pop the tart back into the oven for 30-40 minutes, or until the ricotta mixture is firm.

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Gluten free goats cheese, honey and rosewater cheesecake with a pistachio crumb

When I was asked by Miele to attend The World's 50 Best Restaurant awards, I didn't really know what I was in for. Being in what I call 'the niche diet' category, and being a Luddite, unsure how to download Netflix, I didn't run in circles that discussed the esteemed restaurants at length, nor did I watch Chef's Table. 

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I got some sense of what I was in for a few days prior to the event, when an excitable buzz descended on the Melbourne food scene, both for Melbourne Food and Wine week, and for the awards. It was an extremely prestigious event to be invited to, I was told. Always something a socially awkward person luvs to hear. 

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The awards were, despite any social awkwardness/stress rash, truly an experience. To be in a room filled with such talented, passionate and innovative people was nothing short of inspiring, despite the fact I was probably the most clueless person in attendance. It was undoubtedly a highlight of my Insta gal career, and, as such, I've created a recipe, supported by Miele. 

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Given that I was late after stressing about my outfit for hours ('Heston will be there, you need to look like you're important too') I sweatily and hurriedly sashayed down the red carpet, and was greeted by a waiter serving the simplest of dishes: Goats cheese drizzled with honey. The simplicity of it struck me, because while I'd always known it was a stellar combo, I'd never had it served in such a basic but bewdiful fashion. Naturally, I decided to base a recipe inspired by it, except I, naturally, went in the complete opposite direction and added all the faff possible.

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Seriously though, this cheesecake is so super easy to make, and not scary at all. You can omit the rosewater if you like (I mainly included it for a legitimate reason to add rose petals, which is so unlike me) but it gives a lovely perfume to it. Don't be scared by the goat's cheese - it lends a subtle tang and doesn't detract from the cheesecake whatsoever. It's gluten free, grain free and refined sugar free, but I promise it doesn't taste like it is. You can make mini varieties or a single large one too, just for fun. 

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INGREDIENTS

FOR THE CHEESECAKE
500g cream cheese
100g log goats cheese
4 tablespoons maple syrup
2 tablespoons honey, plus extra to serve
2 teaspoons rosewater
Juice of 1/2-1 lemon
4 eggs (3 if large) 

FOR THE PISTACHIO BASE
1 cup almond meal
3/4 pistachios, plus extra for decoration
20g butter
1 egg
1-2 teaspoons maple syrup
1/2 teaspoon vanilla bean paste 

METHOD - makes 5 mini cheesecakes or one regular one
You'll need mini springform tins (available at House) or one single 20cm springform tin

1. Preheat the oven to 180 degrees. 
2. In your food processor, pulse the pistachios until they are almost flour like, and then add the remaining ingredients for the base. Pulse until a dough forms. 
2. Using a greased a springform tin(s) (plural if you're making mini ones) press the dough (divided into 5 if doing the mini thang) into the tin, making sure it's smooth and even. Poke lots of fork holes in the bottom to allow air to escape, and cook for 5 minutes if mini, or 10 if regular. 
3. While the base is cooking, combine the cream cheese, goat's cheese, maple syrup, honey and eggs in a bowl. A stand alone mixer is ideal for this job, but a hand held one does suffice, as I discovered. Mix mix mix until all the cream cheese lumps are gone, and then add the lemon juice and rosewater, if you're using it. If you're not, I'd suggest a teaspoon of vanilla bean paste instead. Or as well, if you're feeling fancy. 
4. Once the base(s) is/are cooked and cooled a little, pour the cheesecake mixture on top, and return to the oven. the small cheesecakes take 20-25 minutes, oven dependent, and the large one takes 40-45. 
5. Once cooked and cooled, top the cheesecake with extra pistachios, a drizzle of honey, and rose petals if you're a dud like I am. 

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Gluten free apple and cinnamon hot cross bun

The other week, as happens every Easter, I found myself completely unable to contribute to my friends' conversation about how excited they were that hot cross buns were FINALLY in the supermarkets. At least in Australia, I think we can all agree that they're somewhat of a cult item, and that there is definitely such a thing as hot cross bun season. Some may argue that supermarkets are extending said season for profit making purposes, others may rebut that the longer HCB season the better, I myself prefer not to get involved in the heated debate. 

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While I've heard that some supermarkets now cater to the gluten free HCB lovers amongst us, I myself am having a bit of success with a grain free diet while I await the next round of tests in the seemingly never ending quest to get to the bottom of my digestive woes.

With all that in mind, I heard an advertisement on the radio spruiking apple and cinnamon hot cross buns, and I decided to be the master of my own destiny, and make myself some gluten free, grain free HCBS like the independent woman I am. They're also FODMAP friendlier (only one apple divided between 6 buns) and close enough to refined sugar free, if you decide not to use the white chocolate for the cross, although you definitely should, because who wants to eat flour when they could be eating white chocolate instead. Nobody, that's who.

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While all the 'frees' often makes you wonder what you're missing out on, I am exceptionally happy with these HCBS and I don't think they taste like missing out.  They're  more dense and cake-like (Mum likened them to Stollen HCBS) than the variety you'd be used to if your digestion isn't shit, so you really only need one at a time. As with most gluten free baking, they do go dry quite quickly, but zap them in the microwave or even, spread some butter on and it's business as usual.

INGREDIENTS - makes 6 large and in charge or seven lil HCBS 

3 cups almond meal
1 cup tapioca flour
100g butter
4 1/2 - 5 tablespoons maple syrup
2 teaspoons mixed spice
1 teaspoon cinnamon
1/2 sachet of yeast (the full sachets are 7.5g grams I believe) 
1/4 cup warm water
1 teaspoon sugar (I used brown) 

1 Granny Smith apple, peeled and chopped into small squares
1 cinnamon stick
2-3 tablespoons water
1 teaspoon maple syrup 

Extra butter and maple syrup, to glaze
30g white chocolate

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METHOD

1. In a small saucepan, heat your chopped apple with the cinnamon stick, water and maple syrup, over a low medium heat. Cook for about 10 minutes, until the apples are soft but still firm in shape. Take them off the heat and set aside. 
2. Melt the butter in whatever way you choose. I don't have a microwave so I use the double boiler method. Once it's melted, add the mixed spice, cinnamon and maple syrup and stir well. 
3. In a small bowl, add your 1/2 sachet of yeast, 1/4 cup water and teaspoon of sugar, and leave to sit for around 10 minutes, or until it's foamy and bubbly. 
4. In a large bowl, combine your almond meal and tapioca flour, followed by the butter mixture, and the active yeast. Stir thoroughly until it is all combined and a sticky dough has formed. 
5. Cover the bowl with a tea towel and leave it in a warm place for one hour. If it's cold where you are, you might like to leave it by the heater or turn the oven on. I sat mine in a towel outside in the sun. 
6. Shortly before the hour is up, preheat your oven to 180 degrees Celsius. 
7. Once the hour is in fact up, take your dough and throw the apple in. Gently mix it all together, and then divide the mixture evenly into six balls. It should be easy to pick up and easy to mould without getting your hands sticky. 
8. Once you've rolled all the buns, arrange them in a little hugging format on a baking tray lined with baking paper. Mix equal parts melted butter and maple syrup, and generously glaze each bun with the mix. Pop them in the oven for 20-25 minutes. If you've made the smaller buns, go for a maximum of 20 minutes. 
9. Once the buns are done, allow them to cool completely, before crossing them with melted white chocolate. 
 

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Za'atar crusted sweet potato chips with a coconut preserved lemon dipping sauce

So it turns out I've been making sweet potato chips incorrectly my entire life. As with most things in my kitchen, I've be using the 'more is more' approach to olive oil, throwing them in the oven, and hoping for the best. I am so much wiser and smugger now. 

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When Coco Tribe asked me to create a recipe heroing their coconut yoghurt, my first thought was chips n dip, and crunchy chips at that. What better opportunity to pass off googling sweet potato chips as a work activity? For the unitiated, there's basically a whole corner of the web dedicated to the perfectly crunchy oven baked sweet potato chip. There were some methods I was less keen to try - washing them with egg white and liberally sprinkling them with coconut flour (am I the only person who thinks eating coconut flour is akin to eating sand?) some reasonably heavy duty science, and really, just a lot of people who love sweet potato chips. Needless to say, I learnt a lot.

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Irrespective of whether you're making this recipe or you've just come here because you're currently sifting through blogs on crunchy sweet potato trial and error, here are the top tips I recommend you try implementing with all your chip creations:

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1) Ensure you cut the chips to as even size as possible. Yeah yeah I know, I used to yawn at this too, and I'm yawning at myself writing it. But it definitely does help.
2) Once you've cut your chips (to even sizes of course amirite guys) soak them in a large bowl of water for at least an hour, overnight if you ceebs. This draws the starch out of the sweet potatoes. I can't remember how that helps with crunch, but it does. 
3) Once you've soaked them, leave them on a tea towel to dry, and then pop them in a small plastic bag with a small amount of corn or tapioca flour, and shake them super well. This will help crunch up the edges.
4) Don't add salt until the end! This encourages them to release moisture when cooking, making 'em soggy
5) Add a teaspoon or two or vegetable oil, rather than olive, and rather than half a bottle. Olive oil has a lower smoke point compared to veg oil (I also hear grapeseed is good) so your chips will burn a lot quicker. 
6) When you flip them at half time, rotate the trays from top to bottom, and spin them front to back, to allow for even heat distribution. Fancy terms for fancy food. 
7) Finally, use baking paper and ensure that none of the chips are touching, and that you haven't overcrowded the oven. Too many chips = moist environment = a lot of soggy chips. 

INGREDIENTS

700g-800g sweet potato, peeled (roughly 2 medium sized sweet potatoes)
2 teaspoons za'atar
3 teaspoons corn flour or tapioca flour
2 teaspoons vegetable or grapeseed oil
1/2 cup coconut yoghurt (I used Coco Tribe, I find their yoghurt much more savoury than the other plain coconut yoghurts, which makes it excellente for dip) 
2 teaspoons (plus extra if you're a big fan) preserved lemon juice
sea salt and torn mint, to serve 

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METHOD

1. Chop your sweet potato into evenly sized chips, and chuck them in a big bowl of water, leaving them to soak for at least an hour. Once soaked, dry them off thoroughly with a tea towel, and preheat your oven to 180 degrees Celsius. 
2. In a small plastic bag, add your za'atar and corn or tapioca flour, followed by the sweet potato chips. Shake it like a polaroid picture, or, you know, shake your chips until they're well coated in the mix. 
3. Add the oil to the bag, and carry on shakin' until well coated again. 
4. Line two baking trays with baking paper, and evenly spread the chips over the trays, leaving none of them touching and none too overcrowded. Cook for 15-20 minutes, and then swap the trays from top to bottom and front to back, to make sure they're cooking evenly. 
5. Once you've turned them, pop them back in the oven for another 15 or so minutes, until they're crunchy and browned. 
6. For a bit of extra crunch, turn the oven off, leave the door open, and leave the chips in the oven while you make the dip. To make the dip: Mix the preserved lemon juice into the coconut yoghurt and ur good to go. Give the chips a super light spray of olive oil (so the salt sticks) sprinkle over some salt and mint, and donezo. 

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A week on the Mexican Coast

Mexico has always been on my to-do list (how could I not pay homage to the country whose national cuisine is tacos?) but it wasn't until semi recently, in typical millennial style, that I saw a cenote on Instagram (an oftentimes vibrantly aquamarine body of water created by sinking limestone - cheers Wikipedia) and decided that I must be in Mexico immediately.

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My sister and I have started a tradition of going on a holiday together every year, given that she now lives in London and I, Melbourne. As she will tell you, my method of choosing holiday destinations is thus: seeing a beautiful destination on Instagram, booking a ticket, making her do the same. First Ubud, then Annecy in France, and most recently, Tulum. 

We spent six days in Mexico (in Quintana Roo province) in the middle of a trip to The US, and all I can say is that 6 days is absolutely nowhere near enough. While comparably I am an absolute Mexico novice, I thought I would impart what little wisdom I have so that everyone can go and enjoy what is surely one of the most vibrant, lovely cultures I had the pleasure of experiencing. I also want to spend hours looking through my travel snaps with a half legitimate reason for doing so, but we won't go too deeply into that. 

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PLACES WE STAYED, LIKED (AND DIDN'T) IN QUINTANA ROO

CANCUN

During our little 6 day trip, we visited Cancun, Isla Mujeres, Playa Del Carmen, and Tulum. Landing in Cancun from New York, we decided to stay one night in the party town to see what all the fuss was about. That, and the ferry for Isla Mujeres leaves from a port about 20 minutes out of town. Convenience aside, we felt it was a mistake. 

Staying only one night, we didn't quite ever get a grip on Cancun. The town itself was hard to come to terms with (I don't think we ever found 'the town') and, even according to our concierge, the restaurants and 'attractions' are all in 'the hotel zone.' I have always been personally wary of 'hotel zones' because I am unsure exactly why I would want to fly 20+ hours from straya and yet still be in the West. This is exactly what the hotel zone in Cancun was - Westerners eating eggs benedict and drinking vodka cranberries on a beach. No thanku. If you're after a taste of Mexico and not into partying, I would give Cancun a miss, and get straight off the plane and head to Isla Mujeres or Cozumel, another (apparently, we didn't go but heard glowing reviews) gorgeous island off the coast. 

ISLA MUJERES

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Onto Isla Mujeres. We had planned to stay only one night on 'the island of women' but, upon disembarking the ferry, were so enamoured that we immediately decided one night was not enough. (for that matter, neither was 2) While admittedly Isla Mujeres is likely not the most authentic taste of Mexico you'll encounter, it is impossible not to fall in love with. For starters, a meagre $20US dollars a day (a small price to pay for the experience of a lifetime) buys you A GOLF CART to transport yourself around in, for a whole 24 hours. While we stayed at super central Pocna Hostel (and ended up in a private room because we're 25+ and our hostel days are done) and were close enough to walk to most tourist things, I could not recommend hiring a golf cart any more than I do because IT WAS THE ACTUAL BEST. Please see the photo below of my sister going through a bottle-o drive thru IN THE GOLF CART. Case closed.

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There are a number of things to do on Isla Mujeres (aside from experience the vibrantly coloured township and bluest water I've ever seen) - most of which we did not achieve because we were too busy either hooning around in a golf cart, drowning ourselves in cocktails, or indulging in a not even illegal combination of both. Here's a photo of me holding my sister's driving beer for her for reference. 

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Apparently there is great snorkelling on the island, and there is a bunch of underwater human sculptures to explore. There is a ruin on the more local side of the island, although I would only go if you've hired a golf cart and have spare time, because the drive there was gorgeous but the ruin was mainly reminiscent of a pizza oven. Sorry I am a pleb but it is true. 

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PLACES TO EAT: 

We shamelessly ate breakfast at Lola Valentina two days out of two, and while it's not all local cuisine, it's dishes were inspired by local ones, they had iced almond milk lattes, and the staff were outrageously lovely. Think Melbourne style brunch with a Mexican flare in Mexico. 

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Bastos grill was more towards the local side of the island, and a recommendation given by our lovely waiter at Lola Valentinas. Apparently every taxi driver on the island will know where it is, and if you drive your golf cart around for long enough (and have Google Maps handy) you'll eventually find it. It was absolutely delicious, simple Mexican cuisine, with some of the best guac I've ever had. 

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PLAYA DEL CARMEN

Because we were only in Mexico for six days, Playa Del Carmen suffered at the expense of Isla Mujeres, meaning we only stayed for one night. I have to say, we didn't mind all that much. Playa Del Carmen, as we experienced it (one day makes it hard to get into the nitty gritty) was another tempered slice of America in Mexico. The main street was lined with Zara and Sephora, pasta restaurants and sushi. While it was certainly more interesting than Cancun, and I wouldn't say go out of your way to avoid it, if it's not in your path, I wouldn't be too sad. Having said that, I had some delightful smoked tuna tacos there, so that counts as a win. 

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TULUM

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Oh boy, Tulum. All I can with real certainty is that I would need a solid two weeks in Tulum to be able to say I had properly explored all it has to offer. The township itself is inland from the beach, and spread out over an enormous walking distance. We arrived at the bus station (buses in Mexico are probably nicer than buses in Australia FYI, as long as you make sure you get the ADO ones, they have air con and a loo and everything) and then got a taxi to our hotel, which was on the beach. I have to say, with all the smack I talked earlier about hotel zones, the hotel area in Tulum is pretty special - a big ol' hike from the township (which we didn't really have time to explore) but wow! 

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The drive is set along the aquamarine coastline, weaving in amongst palm trees, little boutiques and healthy vegan ice cream stores. Most of the hotels are yoga and healthy food focused, and you can often rent bikes from your hotel to hoon down the road, stop for an ice cream or a taco, and get a bit of heat relief from the breeze. This was probably my favourite activity while we were there. 

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We stayed at Sanara Tulum which was in the hotel zone, set right on the beach. As in, you get off your sun lounger, and you're at breakfast. Amazing. The restaurant that accompanies the hotel, The Healthy Coconut, offers game changing Mexican cuisine, with coconut flour tortillas, coconut cheese, and a whole variety of gluten free, sugar free offerings that cater to the vegos and non vegos alike. 

The vibe is beachy chic with an emphasis on healthy eating, yoga, and general rejuvenation. They had a bunch of detox cleanses on offer, as well as the regular menu at The Healthy Coconut. They also had a number of spa and holistic treatments available in a gorgeous lil room overlooking the aquamarine coastline. 

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We had the loveliest hotel concierge at Sanara, a gorgeous European girl who had moved to Tulum six months earlier. She gave us a list of things that the locals would do in Tulum, and whie we didn't have enough time to accomplish them all, we gave it a red hot crack.

Casa Jaguar was gorgeously Pinterest style decorated bar and restaurant. We only had a cocktail there in the spirit of trying everything, and I, as a cocktail aficionado, was definitely not disappointed. 

Gitano was another recommendation, and although we didn't end up going (it was closed on our last night) it definitely looks gorgeous and well worth checking out. 

Taqueria De Eufemeria is a funky, cheap taco place right on the beach in the hotel zone. Call me a pleb, but as tourists passing through Mexico so quickly and without really doing any research, these were probably the best tacos we had. Simple, delicious, served on the beach, and backed up with super strong margaritas. Bliss. 

Gran cenote was our favourite of the two cenotes we visited. If you are in Tulum for the cenotes, allow at least a week I would say. There is sometimes quite a distance between them, and so many different ones to visit. I'd also recommend doing your research depending on what you want to do/see - in some cenotes you can scubadive through the cavities underwater (my idea of hell on earth) and some entail only some light snorkelling (better) Gran cenote was gorgeous and of the light snorkelling variety - I would recommend getting there early, as we had about ten other people in there with us, and it kept the magic alive a little bit.

Dos Ojos is another cenote, one that we didn't enjoy nearly as much as Gran cenote. It means 'two eyes' and there are two cenotes that are interconnected by underwater tunnels. The cenotes themselves were covered by a large rock formation and quite dark - I think the appeal is swimming through the cavities, which did not appeal to us remotely. It is also a fifteen minute drive down a desolate dirt road to get to the cenote from the entrance, so please don't call the bluff of the driver offering to take you. Just pay up.

La Playa Tortuga (turtle beach) is a pretty touristy setup, but a really cool experience nonetheless. It's a bit of a walk from where the collectivo will drop you, and a lot of people will harass you on the way, suggesting they are the only licensed guide, etc. Keep walking. Of all the things you'll be hassled to buy or hire on the way, I would highly recommend a life jacket. It seems stupid (the water is shallow) but it really allows you to get right into the turtle watching without disturbing them. A snorkel is also absolutely necessary, although we hired ours from Sanara. The beach is a naturally occurring turtle habitat, so when swimming in a designated area, you'll bump into a huge amount of big ol' turtles doing their thing. Pretty cool. Another hot tip: Put sunscreen on your shoulders and bum. Floating on the surface will get ya. 

These are all the recommendations we were given in our short but blissful time in Tulum - I am 100% sure there are loads more and I would encourage you to stay AT LEAST a whole week, if not two, to suss out everything this ridiculous place has to offer. 

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Broccoli and parmesan pizza bases

I used to eye roll at people who claimed that such and such a food was an integral part of their weekly routine. As someone who used to be thoroughly shook if Mum told me we were having the same thing for dinner two nights in a row, I couldn't fathom how people could be attached to eating the same thing at the same time every week. That is, of course, until I became one of those people. 

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I first discovered the healing properties of pizza at the height of my partying days, when ordering a pizza the morning after (don't judge) seemed to bring me back to life. While I have since made a conscious effort to reign in the partying (old gal takes a good two days to recover now) I was still very keen to keep the magic, excitement and restorative qualities of pizza night alive, in the form of a gluten friendly, grain friendly pizza. Enter the broccoli pizza. 

These pizza bases are grain free, gluten free, very likely paleo but I cannot be bothered checking, and a new way to get some veg in your life and in your pizza. I might even enjoy them more than the cauliflower variety. 

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INGREDIENTS - makes 4 large-ish or 5 medium-ish pizza bases 

600g broccoli (stems are fine but chop the toughest part off) - this was 2 medium heads for me
1 1/2 cups almond meal
6 small or 5 medium eggs
50g parmesan or hard cheese
1 tablespoon olive oil
1/4 cup water
Generous table salt 

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METHOD

1. Preheat your oven to 180 degrees Celsius. 
2. Roughly chop your broccoli, throw it in the food processor, and process it for about 10-15 seconds, until you have very fine little bits of broccoli rice, for lack of a better term. 
3. In a large bowl, combine the broccoli with the almond meal, parmesan and salt, and mix well. Add the eggs and stir them through thoroughly. Repeat with the oil and water. 
4. Line two baking trays with paper, and place 1/4 or 1/5 of the mixture on each tray. As mentioned above, this makes 4 large or 5 medium pizza bases, so divvy up as you see fit. 
5. Place the first two pizza bases in the oven for 10-12 minutes, or until firm but still green. You wanna keep the green colour for #fitspo dinner shots later. Or, you know, just to not have burnt pizza bases. 
6. Repeat with the other 2 or 3 pizza bases, and then top the pizzas with your choice of toppings. Pop them back in the oven for 10-15 minutes (you might want to spray them a lil with olive oil so the edges don't get too crisp) and ur good to go. 

TOPPING IDEAS!

FODMAP FRIENDLY PESTO:

Combine a bunch of basil, around 1/2-1 cup walnuts, about 1/2 a cup of freshly grated parmesan, the juice of 1 lemon, generous salt and enough olive oil to make a pesto consistency, in yo blender. Blend away until you have pesto. 

Top that with some roasted veg - roasted fennel, tomatoes and zucchini are all v good, and lower fodmap options. If you have other vegies on hand, go nuts. 

Herb! Plenty of herbs. and a melty cheese to hold it all together. I like to put my herbs on at the end so they don't burn, but you can do both, because herbs are important. 

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Cinnamon and sumac roasted pumpkin with pine nut baklava crusted haloumi

You can relax a little: My baklava obsession is drawing to a close (for now) and I thought I would end it with this delightful number, pine nut baklava crusted haloumi. When I first envisaged this recipe, I did so without the addition of the spice roasted pumpkin - I felt (and still feel) that something as heaven sent as baklava crusted haloumi could stand alone. 

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That being said, it took me all of about 10 minutes to devour said baklava crusted haloumi, and when I found myself with some extra pumpkin in the fridge and feeling inspired from an Ottolenghi binge read, I decided to add the pumpkin to make a meal of it. A great life decision, thanks Yotam. This recipe is obviously vegetarian, but it's also gluten free and lower Fodmap if you can tolerate a bit of cheese (haloumi is apparently low fodmap if you consume 50g per serve, according to my googling)

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INGREDIENTS

1 packet of Haloumi
1/4 - 1/2 cup pine nuts (use 1/2 if you want some baklava crumble to sprinkle over the salad at the end)
1/2 cup walnuts
2 tablespoons honey
2 teaspoons cinnamon
Generous pinch of table salt

500g pumpkin, skin removed and sliced
1 teaspoon sumac
1 - 2 teaspoons cinnamon, depending on your cinnamon obsession
2 tablespoons honey
2-3 tablespoons olive oil
Generous salt 

Mint, to serve 

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METHOD

1. Preheat the oven to 180 degrees Celsius. In a large bowl, combine the spices, oil, honey and seasoning for the pumpkin, and then coat the pumpkin in the mix. Once every piece is fully coated, spread the pumpkin slices on baking trays lined with baking paper, pouring any remaining liquid over the pumpkin evenly. Put it in the oven for 20 minutes.
2. While the pumpkin is cooking, place the nuts for the baklava crumb in a food processor, and process just until a crumb has formed - you don't want the nuts to turn into flour. Add the cinnamon, salt and honey, and blitz again until it all comes together. 
3. Slice your haloumi into four steaks, and then divide each steak into 3 thick matchsticks. I apologise if that terminology is not haloumi appropriate but I could think of nothing better. 
4. Take the crumb and press it gently onto each slice on haloumi, to the thickness of your liking. I piled it on mine because the more the merrier could never be more applicable than when talking about baklava crumb on haloumi. 
5. The pumpkin timer should have gone off, so gently check it - you want the pumpkin to be softened but still holding it's form. It will likely need another 10-15 minutes, but swap the trays from top to bottom and turn them around to compensate for heat distribution in yo oven. I read that term on a website and thought it sounded professional so I have adopted it as my own.  A stark contrast to my completely unprofessional descriptive language. 
6. Once the pumpkin is done, immediately repurpose a baking tray with fresh paper, and pop the haloumi in the oven for 20 minutes. Keep an eye on it and spray a gentle bit of olive oil on top if you feel like it needs it. 
7. Lay your pumpkin on some sort of decorative piece of crockery to impress your friends and Instagram followers, and lay the haloumi on top. Sprinkle with mint, extra baklava crumb if you have it, and u r done. 

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Dill, basil, zucchini flower and tomato tart

My mum has a friend who seemingly has the garden to end all gardens, because Mum always comes home with 'gifts' from her, like gorgeous little yellow tomatoes. I hadn't planned to make a tart of any description, never mind one that also ostentatiously included zucchini flowers, but when Mum showed them to me, I knew that I had to make something to do them justice, but mainly just to show them off.

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The filling mixture borrows heavily from an eggplant involtini recipe that my Mum makes, using dill and basil as the herbs, rather than parsley. I used to be/still am obsessed with the combination of ricotta, parmesan, dill and basil, to the point where tasking me with rolling the involtini was a 'proceed at your own risk' type of affair. The inevitable oversupply of zucchini slices at the end was easily fixed however - I was/am happy to eat them too. And I wonder why my efforts at Pilates never seem to be getting me a summer bod.

Pls note that you don't need fancy tomatoes or even zucchini flowers for this really - they're just the icing on the very herby and entirely savoury cake. You could use anything - I've used some regular ol' cherry tomatoes to illustrate this point.  

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INGREDIENTS

2 cups almond meal
1/2 cup tapioca flour
5og room temperature butter
2 teaspoons miso paste (I've gotten really into using this as seasoning, but totally not necessary if you don't have it, just add a teaspoon or so of water and then your salt instead)
1 egg

2 cups (about 300g) ricotta (THE FIRM DELI VARIETY PLS)
6 zucchini flowers (roughly, depends on their size and the aesthetic you're going for ;))
1 bunch of basil
1 bunch of dill
1/2 cup freshly grated parmesan, plus a lil extra to sprinkle on top (I tried to underline fresh in addition to putting it in bold and italics but this unnecessarily long note will have to suffice)
1/2 cup mini tomatoes (or 1 cup if you're omitting the zucchini flowers)
3 eggs
1 cup of water or milk (I used water because I ran outta milk and it was perfectly fine)
1/2 teaspoon nutmeg powder
1/2 teaspoon balsamic vinegar
generous seasoning

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METHOD

1. Preheat the oven to 180 degrees Celsius. I don't even know why it's always 180, but it seems to be the norm so there you go.
2. Add your almond meal, tapioca flour, miso paste and butter to your food processor, and whiz up until a crumble has formed. Add the egg and continue to whiz until the dough forms a bumbly ball, rolling around your processor. Or you know, just until it's all combined.
3. Remove all the dough from the processor and take your (olive oil sprayed) tart tin, gently moulding the dough to the tin. This is one of my most irked jobs in cooking, so my heart goes out to you if you're currently on this step. Once you're finished, poke a bunch of holes in the bottom of the pastry with a fork, and put it in the oven for 10-15 minutes.
4. In a large bowl, combine the ricotta and milk or water, and stir or whisk up until the lumps are mostly gone. Add the eggs, grated parmesan, nutmeg, balsamic vinegar and seasoning and continue to mix well. 
5. Chop your herbs reasonably well, and throw them into the mixture. Make sure the mixture is super well combined - it's very heavy on the herbs (I was going to say 'in a good way' but there isn't a bad way to be heavy on herbs rly) and make sure every herb is coated. 
6. Pour the mixture into your tart base (which should be cooked and cooled by now) and spread it evenly, making sure all the herbs are under the ricotta mixture, otherwise they gon burn. 
7. Top the tart with your tomatoes and zucchini flowers, or your tomatoes, or whatever you fancy really - and sprinkle the remaining parmesan on top. I sprayed my tart with a lil olive oil right before I put it in, unsure if it made any difference. 
8. Cook the tart for 30 minutes, leaving it in for an extra 10 if the top appears a little wet or thoroughly unbrowned. I've made this four times now (for half recipe testing/half gluttony purposes) and all of mine took about 40-45 to get a lovely golden top. You can even flip to grill for a bit, but be very mindful. 

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Banana, coconut and passionfruit bread (gluten free, vegan and fodmap friendly)

Sometimes I think of developing recipes as having children, and, in particular, favourite children. Sure, you work hard at them (or for them) all, and you enjoy them all and believe in them all, but there are a few that stand out as the favourites. This banana bread, much like me in my own family setting, is one of those favourite children. 

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In case you hadn't already established how smug I feel about this one, let me talk some more about it. It's gluten free, grain free, refined sugar free, vegan and fodmap friendly, packed full of whole foods and good fats. While I disagree with the idea of needing to feel guilty or not guilty after eating something, this banana bread is low in added sugar - 2 tablespoons of maple and the stevia in the coconut yoghurt, which is great news for someone whose unwelcome bacteria in their digestive system feeds off da sugar. Or you know, just someone avoiding added sugar.

So dietary requirement friends, rejoice - here is your new banana bread. 

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INGREDIENTS

3 ripe bananas, 2 for the bread and one for the top
1 tablespoon coconut oil
2 cups almond meal
1/2 cup tapioca flour
1/2 cup coconut yoghurt (I used the vanilla flavoured Coyo and Nudie, both to success)
2 tablespoons maple syrup
1/2 teaspoon vanilla bean paste (optional)
1/2 teaspoon table salt
2 teaspoons baking powder
3 teaspoons apple cider vinegar
1/4 cup plant milk of choice (I used almond) 
85-100g passionfruit pulp (about 4 medium-large passionfruits) plus extra if you want to pop some on top

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METHOD

1. Preheat the oven to 180 degrees Celsius.
2. Chop two of the three bananas into chunks and mash roughly. Transfer to a small pan over a medium heat, and add the coconut oil, cooking until the banana is super mashed and smelling kinda like banana bread. You can also do this with frozen bananas. Add the maple syrup, vanilla bean paste and salt, and stir well before taking off the heat. 
3. In a large bowl, combine the flours together, and add the coconut yoghurt, warm banana mixture, passionfruit pulp and milk of choice. Stir until a batter has formed, and then add the baking powder with the apple cider vinegar, stirring in the bubbles. 
4. Once the mixture is well combined, pour it into a silicon loaf tin. Slice the last banana down the middle, and then gently press it into the top, like little spooning bananas. 
5. Pop the loaf into the oven for 30 minutes, and check it at that point. The moisture content depends on whether the bananas were frozen and how liquidy your passionfruit is, so cooking time varies. I've made the loaf 3 times - without any banana on top it took 30 minutes, with dried banana on top it took about 40, and with regular ol' banana it took about 50. Keep your eyes on it and you'll be fine. 

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Roasted greens with avocado, wasabi and lime dressing

In the latest episode of 'why am I reading this pointless spiel' (flattering myself by suggesting my spiels aren't just skimmed over) today I am going to discuss my love affair with broccoli. I have a number of things that I could say on the topic, but I'll aim to keep it (mostly) brief and relevant, because I've not exactly inspired you to continue reading, and because we're talking about broccoli. 

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Since becoming unwell and figuring out that practically every food was causing it, I have had to dig pretty bloody deeply to figure out which foods I could feasibly eat on the reg without being reduced to a shell of a human. Among others, broccoli has been one of my saving graces, and I eat it pretty much every day, in some form or another. My favourite form, however, is roasted, with a little bit of olive oil and lots of sea salt.

With that in mind, and after a few weeks of eating roasted broccoli sans anything exciting, I decided to spruce up my saving grace with a bit of a zesty dressing. The whole dish is vegan, gluten free, and fodmap friendly, depending on your tolerance for brassicas. I've found zucchini is a very helpful vegetable as it's low carb (and therefore not particularly fermentable) and non offensive. It doesn't get as crunchy and roasty as broccoli, but you can always adjust the ratio of brassica to zucchini if need be.

So here I am on Valentine's Day eve, dedicating a blog post to broccoli.  I feel it's pretty fitting, because it's gotten me through a lot of hard times, and although it may not be the most exciting, or interesting vegetable, but it's the right vegetable 4 me. 

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INGREDIENTS

1 head of broccoli
1 bunch of broccolini
Around 10 brussel sprouts, halved
1 zucchini (optional) 

1 avocado
1 lime
Zest of 1/2 a lime, or to taste
2 teaspoons wasabi paste (If you're using the powder and making your own paste, you might need 3)
1 teaspoon mustard (either variety, I used seeded)
Juice of 1 lime
Generous pinch of sea salt
Pinch of brown sugar
2-3 tablespoons water
Olive oil and salt, for roasting

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METHOD

1. Preheat the oven to 180 degrees Celsius.
2. Toss the vegies in olive oil and sea salt, and arrange them on two baking paper lined trays. 
3. When the oven is good to go, add the vegies and set the timer for 20 minutes. Once that's done, check them out - they should be over half way done. It's best to work incrementally here because your different veg might be done at different times - partcularly if you're adding the zucchini. I found the brussels took the longest to cook at around 40 minutes, but I like my broccoli crispy so I left it in that long as well.
4. While the veg are going, throw everything else in a blender and combine until you have a silky smooth sauce consistency. 
5. Assembly is a lil self explanatory: decoratively arrange your veg on your fanciest crockery and drizzle dramatically with the avocado wasabi sauce. Yummo. 

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Flourless chocolate cinnamon cake with salted baklava crumble and chocolate almond icing

Over the weekend, my friend messaged me and asked me if I had a go-to recipe for a gluten free cake - She was baking for a colleague who consistently missed out on morning tea because of her inability to tolerate glutinous treats. A) cute and B) my answer is obviously this cake.

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My mum used to make a version of this cake for me for every birthday, and I was fiercely loyal in requesting it without fail. I loved it before the word gluten had even crossed my radar, and I love it even more now, because gluten has crossed my radar and I can still eat it. 

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Although I've jazzed it up a bit (I.e gone nuts for baklava crumb, as discussed in this post) in it's plainest form, this cake is a dense, fudgy slice of heaven, sans grain flour of any kind. There are so many things that can be added to it (baklava, for a very convenient example) but is also perfection on it's own. It's foolproof for the uninitiated to gluten free baking, because it doesn't require a complicated mix of flours, and it's not embarrassing when it doesn't rise, because it was never meant to. Boom.

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INGREDIENTS - I used a 20cm springform tin

FOR THE CAKE
200g dark cooking chocolate
150g butter, room temperature
4 tablespoons maple syrup
4 medium eggs, separated and at room temperature (they won't whip otherwise)
1 1/2 cups almond meal
2 tablespoons fresh espresso
1/2 teaspoon table salt
1-2 teaspoons cinnamon

FOR THE BAKLAVA CRUMB
1/2 cup pistachios
1/2 cup walnuts
1-2 tablespoons honey, depending on your sweet tooth (I used 1)
10g room temperature butter
1 1/2 teaspoons cinnamon
1/4 teaspoon table salt
1/2 teaspoon rosewater, optional

FOR THE CHOC ALMOND ICING
2 tablespoons coconut oil
2 tablespoons almond butter
2 tablespoons cocoa or cacao
2 teaspoons maple syrup
Pinch of salt

 

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METHOD

1. Preheat the oven to 180 degrees Celsius.
2. Take a small saucepan and fill it with water. Place on top of that a metal bowl, ensuring the water doesn't touch the bottom of the bowl. Turn the stove to high, and place in the bowl the chocolate and the butter. Stir intermittently until it has melted. 
3. Once the chocolate mixture has completely melted, remove it from the heat, and stir in the espresso and the maple syrup. Set aside.
4. Once your eggs are separated, beat the egg whites in a super clean bowl until stiff peaks form. Set aside.
5. Take a large bowl and add the almond meal, the chocolate batter mixture, and the egg yolks. Mix until it is all combined. Next, gently fold in a spoonful at a time of the egg white mixture, trying to retain as much of the airiness as possible. Continue to fold in the egg whites until they are completely incorporated. 
6. Pour the batter into a lined and greased springform pan. The mixture doesn't rise, so don't go too big. As I mentioned, mine is a 20cm springform pan. 
7. Cook for 45 minutes or until a lil skewer comes out clean. While the cake is cooking, whizz up all the ingredients for the baklava crumble in your food processor until the nuts are chopped and everything is combined. In a small bowl, melt the coconut oil and almond butter for the icing, and add in the cacao, maple syrup and salt, mixing until a runny icing consistency forms. 
8. Once the cake is cooked and cooled, ice the cake with the chocolate icing, and top it with the baklava crumb, spooning over a bit of extra honey if you're so inclined, and serve. Excessive rose petals entirely optional. 
 

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Tofu and snap pea curry with mango puree

One of my least favourite things about University was the first tute of every semester, wherein the tutor would ask you to tell the class something about yourself - whether that be an unusual fact about you, a rundown of your life story, whatever. This part of University life filled my anxiety ridden self with so much worry that I found myself, on holidays, pre-preparing some quirky facts and stories about myself (not in an #alternativefact kind of way, but in a 'I freeze when put on the spot' kind of way) so as not to choke and say something stupid and non retractable in front of my cohort. 

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One of the important facts I determined about myself was my top 4 favourite cuisines: Vietnamese, Thai, Mexican and Indian. Unfortunately no tutor ever asked me this question, but if they did, I needn't of feared embarrassing myself - I have got this answer down pat. 

Aside from these cuisines being outrageously divine, I suppose part of my affinity towards them is their ability to be fodmap and dietary requirement friendly, without even trying. The grains involved are generally of the gluten free variety by default, minimal dairy is used, vegetarian and vegan requirements are easily accommodated, and there is a real emphasis on fresh, clean, food (unless you're at Taco Bell)

However, If you've read my most recent blog post, you'll be aware/bored of me talking about my digestive system being in crisis mode at the moment, leaving things like legumes, onion and garlic strictly off the menu. I haven't attempted to make an Indian inspired curry in a while as a result, mainly because a lot of the flavour and richness is derived from the use of onion, and onion is one of my arch nemeses. The other week, I decided to make a curry in spite of this - I used to derive so much enjoyment from trying to create authentic curries that I threw caution to the wind. And I'm so glad I did.

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As it turns out, super slow cooked (we're talking an hour) caramelised onion does not ruin me the way raw, or even regularly cooked, onion does. It doesn't leave a permanent taste in my mouth (fellow fodmappers, you'll know what I mean) and my stomach barely even seems to notice it's introduction. The best part is, it's not even like I had to alter this recipe to make it fodmap friendly - I would have slow cooked the onion regardless, and the non fodmap members of my household are not missing out on anything because of me. This is just delicious, homemade curry, that, in the manner of the cuisine which it is inspired by, happens to work for everyone, regardless of their diet. 

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INGREDIENTS

Peanut oil
2 brown onions, finely chopped
4 large tomatoes, chopped
4 teaspoons garam masala
2 teaspoons cumin
1 tin coconut cream
500g tofu, cubed and drained
150g sugar snap peas, chopped
Generous salt and pepper
Chilli flakes, to taste
1/2 cup water

TO SERVE

Fresh red chilli
One mango, pureed
Coriander
Extra coconut cream

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METHOD

1. In a large saucepan, heat a generous amount of peanut oil over a medium heat. You don't strictly have to use peanut oil, but if you've not got allergies, it is 100% my oil of choice in this instance. Vegetable oil would be my next suggestion.
2. Add the chopped onion, and stir well to coat it in the oil. Turn down to a low-medium heat, and set the timer for 45 minutes to an hour, stirring intermittently and checking the colour to ensure you don't burn it. 
3. Once the timer is done and the onion is super duper cooked, add 4 teaspoons of garam masala and two teaspoons of cumin to the pan, and stir well, cooking for another five minutes or so. Add more oil if the oil has been cooked away. 
4. Add the tomatoes, and cook again for around 10 minutes, or until they begin to soften and lose their form. Take the mixture off the stove, and, ensuring you don't burn yourself or cause an explosion, process the tomato mixture in your food processor until it is completely smooth. Add the 1/2 cup of water to the blender to help it mix. 
5. While the sauce is blending, add some more oil, the remaining teaspoon of garam masala, generous salt, and the cubed tofu to the pan, and turn the heat to high. Fry the tofu in the spice until it becomes crunchy and golden, and then transfer from the pan and set aside.
6. Pour the curry sauce back into the pan, back on a low medium heat. Add the tin of coconut milk, and continue stirring intermittently. The sauce will thicken and lighten in colour, depending on how long you slow cook it for.
7. Add the cubed tofu and sugar snap peas to the curry, and cook a final time. We ate the curry on it's own, but it would be delightful with rice, if you're not as lazy as I am. 

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4 ingredient, intolerance friendly banana pancakes

I (hopefully) haven't spent too much time talking about it on this forum, but I am currently suffering from an increasingly worsening state of digestion. When I first started the Georgeats Instagram (around 4 years ago now, really?) I had recently gone gluten free in the wake of a persistent, three month headache behind the eye, and a never before experienced decline in digestive health. Otherwise, I could eat what I wanted - pesto wasn't pesto if it didn't involve at least 10 cloves of garlic. 

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Fast forward to today: I feel sick on a daily basis, my system is as fragile as a fig at the bottom of your shopping, and the list of foods I'm supposed to avoid is as long as my list of drunken regrets. I have to avoid onion and garlic (most fodmappers will be able to relate to the nausea accompanied by even the smell of garlic) I have to avoid grains of most descriptions (interestingly, despite my absolute skepticism, I was a lot better with sprouted grains on my recent visit to Aro Ha, a post on which is in the works)  I have to avoid sweeteners, excessive amounts of fruit, etc etc etc etc.

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I'm bloated after a mouthful, constantly lethargic, have spent thousands in medical tests, and really 'not mad, just disappointed' at my own system, given how much I love food and cooking, and given that my job IS food and cooking. The reality of testing recipes all day is that this is never going be an easy fix - I can't just eat zucchini and eggs for the rest of my life. I'll always be testing recipes with these 'forbidden' ingredients in them (aka all the food groups) because I love doing it and I love creating recipes for everyone, intolerant and tolerant alike. This post, while dedicated to the Fodmappers, is really just a) an easy, healthy pancake recipe for your repertoire and b) hopefully a reminder to the non Fodmappers out there that we're not new age food wankers drinking kale powder and denouncing gluten, food genuinely does make us feel terrible. If you don't believe me, feed me an onion pizza and then come over to my place and watch what happens. 

In summary of this enormous, self indulgent essay, I plan to try and blur the boundaries of Fodmap friendly and regular person friendly recipes this year, to be more inventive with restricted eating requirements. I want to create things that you can whip up for your pals, without needing to worry about who can eat what, and who might end up in foetal position later. Of course there will be times when the sugar and dairy and fructose take over, but it's all about balance, amirite? 

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INGREDIENTS

2 medium super ripe bananas
2 tablespoons almond butter
2 eggs
1 1/2 cups almond meal

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METHOD

1. Pop all the ingredients into your food processor, and whizz up until a pancake batter has formed. Put the mixture in the fridge for 10 minutes to harden up. 
2. Heat some butter or oil in a nonstick saucepan over a medium heat, and spread a generous spoonful of the batter into a pancake shape. You may need to turn the heat down a little after cooking a few, play it by ear. I've just begun using a gas stovetop at my new apartment and boy! Medium on a hotplate is v v different to medium with gas. Insert the flame emoji here. 
3. Gently flip the pancake after a few minutes, and then repeat until you've used all the batter. It should make about 8-10 big pancakes, which will serve around 4 people, depending on how big their appetites are. Top them with coyo and blueberries for a dairy free, lower fructose option. 

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Gluten free cherry and strawberry galette

Correct me if I'm wrong (and I mostly am) but to me, a galette seems to be a lazy person's pie. Everything is freeform, nothing needs careful cutting, careful moulding, or careful removing. As much as I love tarts (both sweet, savoury and otherwise) these aspects of creating one are the absolute bane of my existence. So let me repeat my original statement with a much more positive tone: A galette is a lazy person's pie. AKA MY KINDA PIE. 

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As life has dictated for me at present, the galette uses lower fructose fruits and is gluten free, grain free and refined sugar free. I won't go so far as to say completely FODMAP friendly, but it is made with us digestively handicapped folk in mind. Note that the dough needs a little beforehand prep - I left mine in the fridge overnight. You don't strictly need to, but you might need a bit of tapioca flour to roll it out if you don't.

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INGREDIENTS

FOR THE PASTRY:
2 cups almond meal
1/2 cup tapioca flour
50g cold butter
2 teaspoons maple syrup
1 egg
1/2 teaspoon vanilla bean paste
pinch of table salt 

FOR THE FILLING:
2 1/2 cups seasonal berries (I used equal amounts strawberries and cherries) 
1 teaspoon maple syrup
1/2 teaspoon vanilla bean paste

1 egg, for eggwash 

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METHOD

1. In the blender, we gon' make pastry. Pop everything in except your egg, and whizz until something resembling a crumble has formed. Next (surprise!) add the egg, and continue to blend until the dough balls up and is whizzing around the blender in ball form, reminiscent of the most stressful Crass Bandicoot level ever (if you didn't play, pls ignore this comparative) 
2. Pop the dough in clingwrap and into the fridge for as long as you can. As I mentioned above, Ieft mine in overnight, and it was a breeze to roll out the next day. Just before you decide to roll the pastry out, preheat yo oven to 180 degrees Celsius. 
3. When it comes to rolling out, I have but a few tips. First, roll it out on a decent sized piece of baking paper which you can slide onto a baking tray and into the oven. Second, roll a large circle with reasonably thin pastry (think a biscuit) - it needs to be large so you can fold the edges back on the tart itself. 
4. Once you have created a big circle, pop it back in the fridge for a minute while you get the fruit ready. Chop, remove pits, do whatever you gotta do, and then toss in a bowl with the maple syrup and the vanilla bean paste.
5.  Spread the fruit in a smaller circle over the pastry, leaving room for the lip of the galette. Use the baking paper to help fold each side over the fruit, continuing along until you have folded all the edges over. I myself am a galette novice, but I got the hang of it v quickly and so will you.
6. Once the galette is formed n ready to go, glaze it with the eggwash, wait for a minute or so, and then glaze it again. Pop it in the oven for 30-40 minutes, finishing under the grill to get a lovely tan on the pastry. The tan I wish I had/turn to Saint Tropez in a bottle for. 

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Hasselback style scallop potatoes with sage butter and nutmeg

My favourite thing at Christmas, second only to watching Love Actually in a Christmas jumper despite the 30 degree heat, is when Mum makes scalloped potatoes. Call me a pleb, and I'd probably agree with you, but there is something so delightful about eating potatoes and cream with reckless abandon and zero *cares* for tomorrow's physique, because these are the sorts of things Christmas permits. 

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As if potatoes in cream weren't decadent enough, I decided to experiment with what would happen if I added sage butter and nutmeg to the mix. Great things, as it turns out. The sauce is runnier than the traditional scallop potato, which is great, because it can be rather joyously added atop your own potato without being stuck with the merely the sauce attached to it from cooking. Ya feel. 

Apologies for the basic photos but I was in a rush to go and watch Love Actually, adorned in a Christmas jumper despite the 30 degree heat (see opening sentence) and I deemed that far more important than photographing cooked potatoes, but also felt I needed to share the festive glory is that is the hasselback scallop potato with sage butter and nutmeg.

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INGREDIENTS

5 large Desiree potatoes (you want an oval shape as opposed to a circle - makes it easier to create the hasselback-ness) - about 1.25-1.5kg
300ml cooking cream (I tried it with others and it separated, shock)
75g salted butter
1/2 teaspoon salt
2-3 cloves of garlic
15g finely chopped sage, plus extra to serve
Freshly grated nutmeg, to taste (I used about half a nutmeg)  ((easy to buy whole nutmeg from supermarkets))
Optional: about 20g freshly grated cheese

METHOD

1. Preheat the oven to 180 degrees Celsius.
2. Take each potato and create super thin, tiny cuts about 3/4 of the way through the potato. The bottom needs to remain in tact - the aim is to go as far down as possible without chopping the potato in half. Google if you need to, my explanation is terrible. Repeat with the other potatoes, and put them in a baking dish that is just big enough to fit them in. You want the sauce to be as thick as possible later. 
3. Give the potatoes a spray of olive oil, and put them in the oven for 20-30 minutes, checking and re-spraying intermittently. You don't want them to get dry. 
4. 10 minutes before the timer goes off, melt your butter in a medium saucepan on a medium heat. Once that has happened, add the chopped sage, and stir intermittently until the sage starts to become crispy. Add the crushed garlic cloves, and continue to stir. Once the garlic is cooked (ensuring neither the sage nor garlic burns) remove the butter from the heat, and add the salt, nutmeg, and finally the cream. Give it a good stir, and return to the heat, turned to low, to infuse the flavours into the cream.
5. Remove the potatoes from the oven, and pour over the cream mixture. Make sure you coat each potato, and have plenty of cream on the base. Return to the oven and set the timer for 20-30 minutes. 
6. Continue checking on the potatoes until they are the level of brown you enjoy. For a decadent finish, sprinkle some grated cheese over the top, and pop under the grill for 3-4 minutes. HEAVEN. 

Gluten free mince pies with gingerbread crust

This might be a slightly more controversial recipe, depending on your stance on hybrids. Personally? I don't see why anyone wouldn't want to combine two good things, and make them great (again) 

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Once you've had a few blogging Christmas', it becomes increasingly difficult to come up with something traditionally festive, yet novel in perhaps an untraditional way. How many times can the humble shortbread or minced pie be reworked? Well, a few times, considering I shared a shortbread recipe last week, and I'm currently on the minced pie bandwagon, but next year's Christmas might be a struggle.

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Anyway, I tried making these minced pies as a minced pie, because hey! novel! But as pretty and novel as it was, it's hard to grab a slice on Christmas day and disappear with it half in your pocket, scoffing it in the bathroom for fear of judging eyes. Much easier to do with a portable mini pie, speaking from years of personal experience. 

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I then tried making them with a hazelnut crust, as another way of being inventive. They were nice, even Mum said so, but when I sat down and had the idea for the gingerbread crusted ones, nice wasn't good enough. I love gingerbread, I love minced pies, and I loved the idea of combining them to make a super powered Christmas dessert. 

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As it turns out, my gingerbread recipe from years gone by made the perfect tart base - easy to remove, firm enough to hold the fruit mince without getting soggy, all whilst adding interest to the overall pie without detracting from the fruit mince. I think hybrids might be my new thing.

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INGREDIENTS - makes 9+ medium minced pies

FOR THE MINCE:
2 Pink Lady apples, cored and chopped
1 tablespoon coconut oil
1/3 cup dried apricots, chopped finely
Juice of 2 oranges, zest of 1/2 an orange (approx 1 teaspoon)
1 tablespoon maple syrup
1 teaspoon powdered ginger
1 teaspoon mixed spice

FOR THE GINGERBREAD
2 1/2 cups almond meal
50g butter, melted
1 1/2 tablespoons powdered ginger
1/2 teaspoon mixed spice
grating of fresh nutmeg (easily peasily found at the supermarket, but ground will suffice)
3 tablespoons maple syrup
1 egg
pinch of table salt
1 tablespoon potato flour, plus extra for rolling out

METHOD
1. In a medium to large saucepan, add all the ingredients for the fruit mince, and turn to a medium heat. Once the mixture is bubbling away, turn it to a low-medium heat, and pop a lid on. Check on it every 5 or so minutes for about 15 minutes, or until the apple has softened and the mixture has a syrupy base to it. 
2. Turn the oven on to 180 degrees Celsius. 
3. In a large bowl, mix together all of the ingredients for the gingerbread, and keep mixing until a pliable, non sticky dough forms. You can add an extra tablespoon of potato flour or two if the dough is sticky. 
4. Using a silicon muffin tin, grease the holes with butter and set aside. Take a small blob of gingerbread at a time, and mould it into the tin, coming right up the edges of the muffin hole. (side note: muffin hole sounds somewhat unappealing, I apologise, but I cannot think of a butter term) 
5. By now the fruit mince should be done - take it off the heat and set aside to cool. Poke a few forky holes in the bottom of each gingerbread pie case, to allow room for air to escape. Pop them in the oven for 10 minutes. You'll either need to use two silicon muffin trays (I've only ever seen six hole ones) reuse one tray, or use a non silicon muffin pan (I cannot vouch for the simplicity of their removal, however)
6. While the tart bases are cooking, roll out the remaining gingerbread dough, and, using plenty of potato flour, cut out 10 stars for the tops of the pies. You may get a few extra, but considering it's just gingerbread, I think you know what you can do with the remaining. Have more gingerbread. 
7. Once the tart bases have proved, remove them from the oven, and allow to cool for a little bit. Divide the fruit mince between the tarts, and put a gingerbread star on top of each. Spray on a little olive oil or a bit of melted butter, and return the pies to the oven for another 10 or so minutes, to cook the gingerbread star.
8. Once the pies are done (I put mine under the grill for a few minutes after to give them some extra colour) remove them from the oven and allow to cool before removing from the silicon tin. 

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