18 December 2010

Chocolate & Raspberry Brownies (vegan, gluten free)

dairy free, egg free, nut free, vegan, gluten free

Gooey and intense and very chocolatey, with a hint of tartness via the raspberries. The perfect brownie, really. Vegan and gluten-free too! Beware though - without the addition of a couple of binding eggs, they're in danger of complete collapse. Best kept refrigerated and you must have cooled the pan for a good hour or two in the fridge before attempting to cut them. They would definitely improve their shape-holding capacity if you cooked them 5-10 minutes longer...but as most of us know, an overcooked brownie is a travesty, so don't even think it.

175g coconut oil
200g dairy/nut-free chocolate (eg. Kinnerton), in pieces
1/3 cup organic cocoa powder, sifted
2/3 cup lightly packed brown sugar
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1/2 cup apple puree or 2 egg replacers
3/4 cup plain flour or gluten-free flour, sifted
1 cup fresh or frozen raspberries

Preheat oven to 160 C. Lightly grease an 18cm square cake tin and line the base with baking paper.

Place oil and chocolate into a saucepan over low heat and stir until the butter and chocolate have melted. Remove and set aside to cool slightly. Transfer to a large bowl.

Add cocoa, brown sugar and vanilla and mix to combine. Stir in apple puree/egg replacers and flour. Gently fold in raspberries.

Pour the mixture into the tin and bake for approx 40-45 minutes or until the cake starts to come away from the sides of the tin. Cool in the tin and then in the refrigerator for a couple of hours before cutting into squares. Dust with pure icing sugar before serving.

10 December 2010

Gluten-free Shortbread

dairy free egg free nut free vegan gluten free

Gluten-free! What a minefield. The growing interest in the allergy-friendly baking section at Elwood Market meant that sooner rather than later, I had to cater for our coeliac friends. I'll admit to feeling a bit apprehensive. Apparently gluten works in mysterious ways so while one substitution can work perfectly in a recipe, it will fail dismally in another. Luckily shortbread is practically gluten-free anyway....so this turned out very nicely without much effort. Phew!

1/2 cup maize cornflour (some cornflours are wheaten so check ingredients)
1/2 cup pure icing sugar
1 cup rice flour
180g dairy-free margarine, chopped

Sift the cornflour, icing sugar and rice flour together. Add chopped margarine, and mix with hands until a soft dough forms. Chill for 1 hour.

Preheat oven to 180 C and line two baking trays. Roll out dough to 5mm thick, sprinkling lightly with cornflour (it's quite a wet mixture, so I also rolled out onto baking paper to prevent it sticking to the board). Cut into desired shapes and bake for approximately 10 minutes. Allow to cool completely before storing.

07 December 2010

Election Cupcakes

dairy free egg free nut free vegan

Gloat post alert:



My home-made, wish-i'd-spent-a-bit-more-time-on-them cupcakes got their 15 milliseconds of fame. I made a hurried batch for the Elwood Primary School fundraiser during election day recently in Victoria. So hurried in fact that when the usual issue arose of red icing refusing to budge darker than pink, I decided to add a drop of black colouring.  You can't make red out of pink. If you add black to pink, you  just get darker pink. I already knew this. And still, in my bleary-eyed state, I did it.

Early indicator to the result of the election, I believe.

Never mind, I thought - no-one will notice, or care, right? Well who should be skulking around the school doing vox pops at the polling booth but ABC TV.  After a few encouraging words to the cameraman by my husband, they took some footage. Unbelievably, it didn't end up on the cutting room floor - but closed the community piece on the 6pm news!

The winning cupcake

27 November 2010

Rocky Road

dairy free egg free nut free

This is delectably simple - and your only real challenge is to find a dairy and nut free chocolate (with no traces).

I have a pathological aversion to glace cherries (slimey, squelchy things), so I replaced them with the new Natural Confectionery Company Berry Bursts... all the better I say. These were very popular at the last Elwood Community Market so I'll be making an extra slab or so again for the big Christmas market next Saturday. Who knew the blessed thing only takes 5 minutes to put together? For those who want a nut-free crunch, you can add roasted soy beans, but they are perfectly delicious as is.

And to the vegans who couldn't partake at the last market - apologies - but check out Angel Food, you can make your own gelatine-free marshmallows here

500g dairy free nut free chocolate
(I used Sweet William plain chocolate and white delight here but my favourite version so far has been Sweet William white delight and Kinnerton dark luxury chocolate bar)
250g pink and white marshmallows (use Pascal, no traces)
1/2 cup dessicated coconut
200g Red Berry Bursts (by Natural Confectionery Company)
1/2 cup roasted soy beans (optional)
extra coconut to sprinkle

Melt chocolate in microwave (on high for a minute, then in 20 second bursts until melted) and stir to combine. Add coconut, red lollies and marshmallows and mix thoroughly. Pour into a lined lamington/rectangular pan, sprinkle with coconut and refrigerate until set.

Remove from pan and slice into squares or bars.

24 November 2010

Lemon Coconut Bundt cake - part two

dairy free egg free nut free vegan

Bundt, be gone.

Though this post is part 2, it's actually my third attempt at this cake, and I didn't dare risk the conundrum that is lining a bundt tin. So a plain round cake tin just had to do this time around. No matter - this is simple, light and moist - a perfect afternoon tea cake. Because it rises so well, I think you could easily make cupcakes with this recipe, adding a swirl of lemony frosting, and a sprinkling of coconut.

1 1/2 cups self-raising flour
1/2 cup dessicated coconut
1 tablespoon grated lemon rind
juice of 1 lemon
1 cup caster sugar
125g dairy-free margarine, melted
2 egg replacers
1 cup coconut milk
icing sugar

Preheat oven to 180 C and grease and line a deep 20cm round cake tin.

Combine dry ingredients, then wet ingredients and mix well with a wooden spoon until mixture is smooth. It will be runny.

Pour mixture into prepared tin and bake for 40 minutes or until skewer comes out clean when inserted into centre of cake.

Leave cake to cool slightly before removing from tin on wire rack. Cool completely.

Sprinkle with icing sugar, coconut or desired icing.

10 November 2010

Choc Chip Banana & Coconut Muffins (dairy free, egg free, nut free)

Another muffin. Well what can I say, kids love them, and they fill up a corner of the lunchbox!

125g dairy-free margarine, melted
3/4 cup caster sugar
3 ripe bananas, mashed
2 egg replacers
1 tsp vanilla extract
2 cups self-raising flour, sifted
1 cup dessicated coconut
1/2 cup dairy/nut free choc chips

Preheat oven to 200 C and fill a 12 hole muffin pan with muffin or cupcake liners. Beat melted margarine, sugar, banana, egg replacers and vanilla until well combined. Place flour, coconut and choc chips in a large bowl, then fold in banana mixture. Fill liners 2/3 full and bake for 15-20 minutes or until risen and golden. Cool slightly in pan then turn out onto a rack to cool completely.

08 November 2010

Moroccan Sausage Rolls (dairy free, egg free, nut free)

I'm very partial to a sausage roll. Though if, like me, you are more than a little suspicious of supermarket sausage meat (what IS it?), then you need to make your own. Crucial to any sausage roll filling is the fine processing of the raw mince - you want a very fine texture and regular minced meat doesn't do the job. Whack it in the food processor and blitz it with your choice of flavourings.

These Moroccan-spiced ones were gobbled up by both my girls - spices, herbs and all. Delicious!

Makes 40 mini size, approx

500g lamb mince
2 garlic cloves, finely chopped
1 brown or red onion, chopped
1 tsp paprika 
½ tsp each ground coriander
½ tsp each ground ginger
½ tsp each ground cinnamon
1/4 cup fresh chopped mint
1/4 cup fresh chopped coriander
4-5 sheets frozen puff pastry, thawed (non-butter Pampas version and some supermarket-brand varieties are dairy/egg/nut free)
rice milk or water for the "egg" wash
sesame seeds

Preheat oven 200c. Line baking trays with baking paper.

Place the garlic, onion, ground spices and herbs in a food processor with sea salt & pepper. Pulse to chop the onion and garlic and combine. Add lamb and process until smooth.
Cut each pastry sheet in half lengthways and then across, making 4 sheets. Place one piece of filling on edge of each pastry square in a long sausage shape, then roll up to enclose. Turn rolls seam-side down and cut each roll into 3-4 pieces, trimming the ends.

Place on the lined baking trays, brush with rice milk and sprinkle sesame seeds. Cook in the oven for 10 – 12 mins until puffed and golden.

26 October 2010

Halloween Cupcakes (dairy free, egg free, nut free)

I made these last year for kinder class - the ghost cupcakes in particular were a huge hit. The eyes! Such expression! We fell in love.

Happy Halloween :)

Chocolate Cupcakes
makes approx 24 standard cupcakes

300g plain flour
400g caster sugar
100g cocoa powder
1/2 tsp salt
2 tsp soda bicarbonate
450ml rice or soy milk
100ml vegetable oil
2 tbsp white vinegar
1 tbsp vanilla extract

Preheat oven to 180 C. Fill two cupcake/muffin pans with cupcake liners.
Sift together in a large bowl the flour, sugar, soda bicarb, cocoa and salt. In a separate bowl, mix together the milk, oil, vinegar, vanilla and add to the dry ingredients, mixing well until smooth.

Bake in the oven for about 15-20 minutes, or until risen and firm to touch. Cool in trays for 5 minutes then turn onto a wire rack to cool completely before decorating.

Chocolate Frosting
100g dairy free margarine
4 tbsp water
1/2 cup caster sugar
1 1/2 cups icing sugar
4 tbsp cocoa powder

Combine margarine, water and caster sugar in small saucepan; stir over low heat until sugar dissolves.
Combine sifted icing sugar and cocoa in medium bowl; gradually stir in hot spread mixture until smooth. Cover; refrigerate for at least half an hour, until thoroughly cool. Using wooden spoon, beat frosting until spreadable.

White ready to roll fondant, 1/4-1/2 packet
Marshmallows (one per ghost cupcake)
Using white ready to roll fondant, roll out to 1/2 cm thickness and use a round cookie cutter (slightly larger than the circumference of the cupcake, so it overlaps by about 1cm). Frost cupcakes with chocolate frosting and secure a marshmallow in the centre. Ensure you sit the marshmallow on its side so the rounded part is at the top. Drape fondant circles over the marshmallows, covering the cupcakes. Using the blunt end of a toothpick or skewer, make two holes for the eyes (until you reach the marshmallow underneath) then fill with a dot of black gel decorating pen. So cute!

Tombstone Cookies
This is a good standard cut-out cookie recipe. Roll these out relatively thinly (1/2 cm) before baking or they'll be too thick to wedge into the cupcake.

125g dairy-free margarine, softened
1/2 cup (115g) caster sugar
1/4 cup (60ml) rice/soy milk
1 tsp vanilla extract
1 1/2 cups (225g) self-raising flour
1/2 cup (70g) plain flour
black and green Queen food gel writing pens

Preheat oven to 180°C. Line baking trays with non-stick baking paper.

Use an electric beater to beat the margarine and sugar until pale and creamy. Beat in milk and vanilla extract. Fold in the flours.

Press the dough into a ball and wrap in plastic wrap. Refrigerate for 30 minutes to rest.

Roll out one portion of dough on a sheet of non-stick baking paper to about 1/2cm thick. Cut out tombstone shapes (freehand) and place on the trays.
Bake for 5-8 minutes or until light golden.
Cool for 5 minutes on the trays before transferring to a wire rack to cool completely.
Repeat with remaining dough (or freeze for more cookies another day).

Pipe RIP on tombstones then insert into cupcakes. Add some green grass to the edges of the tombstone.


25 October 2010

Lemon Coconut Bundt Cake - part one

dairy free egg free nut free vegan

It's important to remember that baking is a science.

For example, you might get impatient and want to turn out a cake before it has cooled in the tin.
You mustn't.

Or perhaps the original recipe insists you line the base of the tin with baking paper but because you decided to change the tin shape from loaf to bundt, you sort of forgot that bit...(though how do you line a bundt tin anyway?)

So out it fell - broken, stuck, ruined.
Then my taste tester tells me, scraping the bits of cake from the tin, that it's the best cake he ever ate.

So it's back to the kitchen for take 2 - I don't mind - it's beautifully lemony and moist.  Even on second attempt though, this cake doesn't rise. It sinks in the middle, quite spectacularly. I must tweak the recipe - it seems the coconut cream is too heavy and might need replacing with coconut milk. But my third attempt will have to wait until after I return from a child-free holiday to Port Douglas later in the week (yay!). Plus I want to share some cute cupcakes in time for Halloween before I go.

So until then - feast your eyes on this disaster, and stay tuned...

(original sinking recipe - though if eggs aren't an issue for you, this should work spectacularly!)
125g dairy-free margarine, softened
125g caster sugar
2 x egg replacers
1 cup self raising flour, sifted
½ cup dessicated coconut
1 lemon, zested and juiced
1 x 270g coconut cream
icing sugar, dusting


Preheat oven 175 C. Lightly grease and line a loaf pan with baking paper.

Beat margarine and sugar until pale and fluffy. Add the egg replacers and beat until well combined.
In a separate bowl combine flour, cocount and lemon zest. Add half of this mixture and coconut cream into the mixing bowl and mix well.
Repeat with remaining flour and coconut cream. Add lemon juice and mix until well combined.

Pour cake mixture into prepared loaf pan and bake for 50 - 55 minutes or until a skewer inserted into the middle of the cake comes out clean.

Turn onto a wire rack to cool completely.

Dust with icing sugar.

14 October 2010

Quest for the Holy Grail: Egg-free Meringue

Sometimes - just for fun - I google 'vegan meringue'.

Ok admittedly, it's not fun anymore, it's become an obsession. I am a relentless researcher if nothing else. I have been searching in the hope that somewhere in the world, someone has discovered how to make an egg-less substitute to this holy grail of vegan cooking. It usually leads to a depressing read of world wide lamentations, e-how dead-ends and bloggy disasters.

Then one day I stumbled across something called Vegan Meringue Cookies by AngelFood.


Immediately went shopped online (Vegan Perfection in this case) and next day (or so) delivery, it arrived.

I am a sucker for a pretty package, and she is very pretty indeed. I had zero expectation though - other than to produce something that quite possibly resembled a chewy meringue with a crispy outer layer. Which very probably can only be achieved by using real eggs. Yep - zero expectation.

The package claims it makes 'crisp' cookies. With two sachets in the box - once mixed and beaten together, it was looking really good: glossy and stiff, just like beaten egg whites should look...

I piped onto tray (oh but they are darling!)

Baking in the oven (bit annoyed I lost the little peaks in the cooking process)

Crispy yes they are!

Sandwiched together with some Sweet William chocolate spread (dairy/egg/nut free), they are not bad. Quite tasty in fact (thanks to the chocolate I suspect).

So here they are - a very crispy, aerated version of meringue kisses...though won't be attempting a pavlova any time soon.

09 October 2010

Crispy Pork Belly with Fennel & Apple Slaw

dairy free egg free nut free

We all love crackling (vegetarians/vegans look away). But it is rarely accompanied by a moist, tender roast pork meat. Dry and a bit bland, I end up suffering through it. (Unless of course it's porchetta served in a crusty bread roll from a roadside stall in Italy...)

I first saw Rick Stein make this dish, and I probably won't ever serve up a roast pork any other way. Pork belly - slow cooked so the meat underneath is tender and melting away, with crisp and crunchy crackling that never fails. Hallelujah.

Beware though - it's rich. Pork belly boasts a considerable amount of fat (hence the moistness) but for a once-in-a-while dish (as roast pork should be), it's worth it. I think you could also experiment with the seasonings (I might try rosemary & sage next).

Rick Stein originally served this with plain rice and steamed Asian greens, but because it's spring and the sun is finally shining, I opted for an Italian twist on coleslaw. Baby fennel, savoy cabbage and Pink Lady apple, all finely sliced and tossed with lemon, olive oil and parsley.

Oh my. Marriage made in heaven!

Crispy Roast Pork Belly
Serves 4-6
1 x 1.5kg piece of thick belly pork with the rind
1 tablespoon Sichuan pepper*
1 teaspoon black pepper*
2 tablespoons sea salt
2 teaspoons Chinese five-spice powder
2 teaspoons caster sugar

Spike the skin of the pork with a fine skewer le as many times as you can, going through into the fat but not so deep that you go into the flesh. Then pour a kettle full of boiling water over the skin, leave it to drain and then dry it off well.

In a small bowl, combine the peppers, sea salt, five spice powder and sugar.

Turn the pork flesh-side up on a tray and rub the flesh all over with the spice mixture. Set it aside somewhere cool to marinate for 8 hours or overnight.

Preheat the oven to 200˚C. Turn the pork skin-side up and place it on a rack resting on top of a roasting tin of water. Roast the pork for 15 minutes, then lower the oven temperature to 180˚C and roast it for a further 2 hours, topping up the water in the roasting tin now and then when necessary.

Increase the oven temperature once more to 230˚C and continue to roast the pork for a further 15 minutes. Then remove it from the oven and leave it to rest for 5-10 mins.
Cut the pork into bite-sized pieces and arrange them on a warmed platter.

*Rick Stein's recipe has the peppercorns whole and dry-fried in a pan, then ground in a spice grinder. I've adapted the recipe for the short-on-time cook - I suspect it doesn't make a huge difference to the final result.
Fennel & Apple Slaw
Serves 4-6
1/4 Savoy cabbage
3 baby fennel bulbs
1 Pink Lady apple
3 tbsp fennel fronds, chopped
1/2 cup continental parsley, chopped
1/4 cup olive oil
sea salt
lemon juice to taste
Finely slice the cabbage and fennel. Add fennel fronds and parsley and mix together well. Just before serving, halve and core the apples, then finely slice across, then into matchsticks. Add to cabbage and fennel, then dress salad with oil, salt and lemon juice, mixing well.

30 September 2010

Gingerbread Cookies

dairy free egg free nut free vegan

This is based on Delia Smith's recipe from Delia Online. 

I omitted the orange rind as I had some very impatient 6 year olds waiting to get started...

Makes about 20

75 g soft brown sugar, sieved
2 tablespoons golden syrup
1 tablespoon black treacle
1 level teaspoon cinnamon
1 level teaspoon ginger
1 pinch ground cloves
finely grated rind ½ orange (optional)
95 g dairy-free margarine
½ level teaspoon bicarbonate of soda
225 g plain flour

Pre-heat the oven to 180 C.

Put the sugar, syrup, treacle, 1 tablespoon of water, spices and rind together in a large saucepan.
Then bring them to boiling point, stirring all the time. Now remove the pan from the heat and stir in the dairy-free and the bicarbonate of soda.
Next stir in the flour gradually until you have a smooth manageable dough – add a little more flour, if you think it needs it.
Now leave the dough – covered – in a cool place to become firm, approximately 30 minutes. Now roll the dough out on a lightly floured surface to 1/8 inch (3 mm) thick and cut out the gingerbread men.
Arrange them on the lightly greased baking sheets and bake for 10-15 minutes or until the biscuits feel firm when lightly pressed with a fingertip.

Leave the biscuits to cool on the baking sheets for a few minutes before transferring them to a wire rack.

29 September 2010

Lamb & Leek Stew

dairy free egg free nut free

Spring may have sprung, but it's still freezing in Melbourne! I think this is essentially a Lancashire Hotpot, and very tasty.

50g dairy-free margarine, plus extra to grease
2 leeks, white part only, thinly sliced
1 onion, thinly sliced
1 tbs olive oil
1kg diced lamb leg or shoulder
2 garlic cloves, crushed
2 tbs pearl barley
800g waxy potatoes (such as kipflers), peeled, thinly sliced
300ml lamb, chicken or beef stock
1 tsp chopped fresh thyme
a few tablespoons of olive oil or melted margarine
3 tbs chopped flat-leaf parsley


Preheat oven to 170 C. Grease an ovenproof casserole dish.

Place half the margarine in a large frypan over low heat and cook leek and onion for 5 minutes or until softened. Transfer to a plate and set aside.

Add oil to pan, increase heat to high. When oil is hot, add lamb and brown in batches, then transfer to a separate plate. Add garlic and barley to pan, season with salt and pepper and cook for 1 minute, then return lamb to pan and stir to combine. Place half the potatoes in base of casserole. Layer meat over top followed by leek mixture. Use back of a spoon to flatten contents of casserole, then overlap remaining potatoes on top. Pour in stock and sprinkle with thyme. Cover with a lid or a layer of foil and bake in oven for 2 hours. Brush potatoes with olive oil or melted margarine. Return to oven, uncovered, for 30 minutes or until potatoes are golden.

Serve from dish, sprinkled with parsley.

16 September 2010

Orange & Polenta Loaf

dairy free egg free nut free

Thanks to a morning spent with my school mums, I was inspired to make an allergy-friendly version of this lovely citrus polenta cake.

2 1/2 cups self raising flour
1 cup caster sugar
1/2 cup polenta
250g dairy-free margarine, melted
1 orange, grated rind and juice
1/2 cup rice/soy milk
3 egg replacers (Orgran)

1/3 cup orange juice
1/4 cup caster sugar

Combine flour, sugar and polenta in a bowl and mix well. Add melted margarine, grated rind, juice, milk and finally egg replacers and mix gently until well combined.

Pour into loaf tin lined with baking paper, smoothing the top, and bake in 180 C oven for 50-55 minutes.

Combine the extra orange juice and sugar in a small saucepan and heat gently until sugar is dissolved.

Once ready, cool cake in tin for 10 minutes then remove to rack. While still warm to the touch, brush the glaze over the top of the cake.

Can also be made in a round cake tin.

02 September 2010

FreeNut Butter Cookies

dairy free egg free nut free

Who says you can't make a peanut butter cookie without peanuts?

As long as you use FreeNut Butter made from sunflower seeds. Either the smooth or crunchy version does just nicely, and I made a second batch with Sweet William choc chips thrown in.

Makes 20 approx

1/2 cup brown sugar
1/2 cup caster sugar
1/2 cup melted dairy-free margarine
1/2 cup FreeNut Butter(smooth or crunchy)
1 1/2 cups self-raising flour
1 egg replacer
1 tbsp vanilla extract
1/2 cup Sweet William dairy/nut free choc chips (optional)

Preheat oven to 180 C.

Sift flour and sugars, then combine the rest of the ingredients, mixing very well.

Drop tablespoons of mixture onto lined baking tray, pressing down slightly with back of a fork. Make sure you space them as they will spread during cooking. Bake for 12-15 minutes.

Remove and cool on rack.

01 September 2010

Nasi Goreng

dairy free egg free nut free

My life changed for the better when a friend  introduced me to kecap manis: a sweet and syrupy Indonesian soy sauce. I tend to leave the regular soy aside more often than not these days, because kecap manis elevates my stirfries to a higher plane. Truly!

I love this dish because it combines rice with Chinese cabbage (I admit to a soft spot for all things cabbage), and the kids always seem to want more. No need for egg - kecap manis is the hero here.You can adjust the ingredients to your taste, adding more vegies if you prefer.

Because we can all safely eat shellfish now, we particularly love prawns in this dish.

Serves 4

2 cups pre-cooked long grain or basmati rice
1/4 Chinese cabbage (wombok), shredded
300g chicken thighs, diced
10 cooked prawns
1 onion, finely chopped
2 garlic cloves, finely chopped
1 chilli, finely sliced (optional)
2 tbsp vegetable oil
1 tbsp oyster sauce or fish sauce (or both quite frankly!)
1/4 cup kecap manis (Indonesian sweet soy sauce)
1/2 cup fresh coriander, chopped (optional)
a handful of crispy fried spring onions to sprinkle on top

Heat oil in a wok or large saucepan over medium to high heat and cook onion, garlic and chilli (if using) until softened.

Add chicken pieces and stirfry until brown and just cooked through. Add fish and oyster sauces, then cabbage and rice, stirfrying for a few minutes until rice is well coated and cabbage is wilted. Add kecap manis, stirring well, then add the cooked prawns until heated through.

Mix in coriander before serving with fried spring onions.

18 August 2010

Lemon Coconut Slice

 dairy free egg free nut free

This is old, OLD school lemon slice. The one that sits next to the chocolate hedgehog in cafes (though not necessarily hip inner-city ones). It's pure Aussie, and I love it. While strolling the aisles of Sunnybrook recently, I discovered that someone finally got their act together - in this case, the Brazilians - by making a dairy-free sweetened condensed milk.

(For those living outside of Melbourne, doesn't look like the product is listed in Sunnybrook's online shop yet - try Cruelty Free Shop)

Or you could try making your own here.

Makes about 18 pieces 

80g dairy-free margarine (Nuttelex)
250g (3/4 cup) soy sweetened condensed milk
250g plain sweet dairy/egg/nut free biscuits*
85g (1 cup) desiccated coconut
1 tablespoon (20ml) fresh lemon juice

2 teaspoons grated lemon zest
extra desiccated coconut, for sprinkling on top of slice

Lemon Icing
250g (1 3/4 cups) icing sugar
2 tablespoons (40ml) fresh lemon juice

* McVities Digestives are dairy/egg/nut free though they are made on a production line handling milk. Arnotts Nice biscuits (and some other varieties) are also fine, but have traces of nut/dairy/egg/seed. Here I have used both plain and cocoa flavoured Kedem Tea Biscuits available at Coles - they are dairy/egg free and made in a nut-free facility - no traces. Orgran vanilla animal cookies might also make a reasonable substitute.

Grease an 18cm by 28cm slice pan or baking dish and line pan/dish with baking paper.

Place dairy-free margarine and soy condensed milk in a small saucepan over medium-low heat, stirring occasionally. Remove from heat when margarine has melted and mixture is smooth.

Finely crush biscuits using a blender or food processor. Stir crushed biscuits, coconut and lemon zest together in a large bowl until well combined. Stir lemon juice into condensed milk mixture.

Add wet ingredients to dry ingredients and stir until well combined. Press mixture very firmly into the prepared pan using the base of a flat-bottomed glass if necessary. Refrigerate.

To prepare icing, combine icing sugar and lemon juice in a small saucepan over low heat. Stir until mixture is warm to the touch and completely smooth. Remove from heat and spread over slice, sprinkling with extra coconut.

Refrigerate slice until cold and firm then remove from the pan and cut into pieces. Store slice in an airtight container in the refrigerator or freezer.

Celebration Paella

dairy free egg free nut free

If your child has ever had the good fortune of successfully passing a food challenge, you'll know the word 'celebration' is practically an understatement.

My eldest had a mild allergy to shellfish until an SPT (skin prick test) came up negative near the end of 2009. It took her a few months to work up the courage to embark on a food challenge. Her reluctance was understandable after recently discovering a kiwi fruit allergy by eating a whole one, then vomiting and huskily coughing for half an hour. Out came the Zyrtec - though thankfully, the Epipen stayed in its case. Phew. Once she got over the trauma of that experience, we encouraged her to try a prawn: first rubbing on the inside of her lip, then a quarter portion, increasing to half - then a whole prawn over a number of hours/days and checking for any reactions.

She passed. And we felt like all our Christmases had come at once.

Not only does passing the shellfish challenge mean an abundance of prawns and calamari (though the latter technically a mollusc); but suddenly, oyster sauces, curry pastes containing shrimp and even products containing traces of crustacea all become available to our hungry gourmand.

A paella is traditionally a Spanish peasant dish where a variety of  meats and/or seafood or whatever you have on hand can be added. It doesn't require stirring like a risotto - so you want a nice gentle crust to form on the bottom.

I have a 6 year old shellfish addict now, who wonders why we can't eat prawns every day...

Serves 4

3 tbsp olive oil
1 onion, finely chopped
1 red capsicum, finely chopped
2 garlic cloves, crushed
1 tbsp smoked paprika
1 large tomato, chopped
300g chicken thigh, diced (or 1 chorizo sausage, sliced)
10 green prawns
1 large squid hood, sliced into 1cm thick rings
1 cup calasparra or arborio rice
2 cups hot vegetable or fish stock
2/3 cup cooked peas
1/3 cup fresh parsley, chopped
10 saffron strands (optional)
lemon wedges

Heat oil in a paella pan or large flat frying pan over medium heat. Add onion, capsicum, tomato and garlic - stir until soft. Add chorizo/chicken until cooked. Add rice and stir to combine. Stir in stock, saffron (if using) and paprika. Ensure the mixture is spread evenly over the pan.

When the stock is boiling, cover and cook over low to medium heat for about 10 minutes until the stock has reduced and the rice is almost cooked. Push the prawns and calamari into the rice and cover for a further 5 minutes. Finally add the peas and parsley and leave it for five more minutes on low heat.

Serve with lemon wedges.

- Do not stir the paella during main cooking
- The perfect time to add seafood is when the stock is reduced enough for the rice to be seen. This is near the end of the cooking time and will allow for delicately steamed and very tender seafood.

15 August 2010

Raspberry & Coconut Muffins

dairy free egg free nut free

I am possibly the world's worst blogger.

It has been months since my last post. Forgive me, dear blog, for I have been very neglectful.

But I am back on the horse! And these delicious muffins are going straight to the lunchbox.

200g self-raising flour
1tsp baking powder
100g soft brown sugar
200ml coconut milk (or you can substitute rice/soy milk)
50g dessicated coconut
1 egg replacer
100g melted dairy-free margarine
100g fresh or frozen raspberries

Preheat oven to 180 C and line a 12 hole muffin pan with cupcake/muffin liners.

Sift together the flour and baking powder then combine rest of ingredients, folding in the raspberries last.

Divide the batter between the liners and bake for approximately 20 - 25 minutes.

Dust with icing sugar.

19 May 2010

Rhubarb & Coconut Frangipane Tarts

I've made these tarts a few times now - individually sized as well as a large one. No need to pre-cook the rhubarb, and the sweet 'frangipane' balances the tartness.

(frangipane is originally a butter, sugar and ground almond mixture - coconut substitute works a treat.)

The best thing about these tarts is that they make a quick and easy dinner party dessert - so if you have slaved all day on preparing and cooking the first two courses, these take about 5 minutes to make and not much longer to cook. I like!

Makes 4
One sheet of puff pastry, cut into 4 squares (most commercial puff pastries are dairy/egg/nut free, except for Pampas butter version)
3-4 sticks of rhubarb, washed and cut to fit squares
75g dairy-free margarine (Nuttelex), softened
1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
1/3 cup (75g) caster sugar
90g dessicated coconut
1 tbsp cornflour
1 egg replacer

Cut puff pastry sheet into 4 squares. Score the edges to leave a 2cm border.

Beat butter, extract and caster sugar in small bowl with electric mixer until light and fluffy. Add egg replacer, beat until combined. Fold in coconut and cornflour.

Spread frangipane keeping within the score marks of the pastry, about 1/2 cm thick. Lay rhubarb sticks over the mixture, and bake in preheated 180 C oven for about 10-15 minutes.

Dust with icing sugar and serve immediately. Can be eaten plain or with dairy-free ice cream.

18 May 2010

Carrot & Banana Cake

dairy free egg free nut free vegan

Before Gina came to the rescue, I trialled carrot cakes that didn't rise much, and banana muffins that were nice enough, but for some reason didn't translate very well into a cake. The combination of the two means this cake rises beautifully and keeps very moist. I think this was Gina's recipe prior to having a dairy and egg allergic son - after which she made it allergy-friendly, and it rocks. Thanks a million Gina! We love it. Works perfectly as muffins, round cake or in a loaf tin as I have done here.

225g self raising flour, sifted
1 teaspoon baking powder
150g brown sugar
1 cup grated carrot
2 ripe bananas, mashed
1/2 teaspoon nutmeg
1/2 teaspoon cinnamon
150ml vegetable oil
2 egg replacers

Preheat oven to 180 C. Combine flour, baking powder, sugar, spices and mix well. Add carrot, bananas, vegetable oil and egg replacers and mix until well combined. Grease a pan and line the bottom of square, round or loaf tin - pour in combined mixture and bake for approx 25-35 minutes.

Lemon Icing
55g dairy-free margarine, softened
250g icing sugar, sifted
1 tbsp lemon juice
1 tsp grated lemon zest (optional)

Beat margarine with icing sugar, then add lemon juice/zest. Make double quantity if you are layering and filling a round cake.

16 March 2010

Blueberry Pikelets

dairy free egg free nut free

Hmm, possibly more a panklet than a pikelet! Make them however big or small you like. This is a great standard pancake recipe.

Makes about 10 pikelets

1 cup self-raising flour
1 tablespoon castor sugar
pinch of salt
3/4 cup rice or soy milk
1 egg replacer
1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
1 cup fresh blueberries (or frozen)
melted dairy-free margarine for frying

Sift flour, sugar and salt together in a bowl. Whisk milk, egg replacer and vanilla together, then pour over dry ingredients and whisk until smooth. Gently stir blueberries through the batter.

Heat a non-stick frying pan over medium heat and brush with melted margarine. Drop tablespoons of mixture into pan and cook until bubbles appear on the surface. Turn pikelets over and cook other side until golden.

Serve plain, or dust with icing sugar.

11 March 2010

Apricot & Cranberry Cookies

dairy free egg free nut free

Lovely oaty biscuits for the lunchbox. If sesame seeds are an issue, you can leave them out, they still taste great. I think this recipe originally came from Women's Weekly.

Makes 20

100g dairy-free margarine (Nuttelex)
100g (1/2 cup, firmly packed) brown sugar
2 tbs golden syrup
2 tbs water
1 tsp bicarbonate of soda
115g (1 1/4 cups) rolled oats
150g (1 cup) plain flour
40g (1/4 cup) sesame seeds (optional, or you could substitute linseeds)
110g (2/3 cup) chopped dried apricots
100g (2/3 cup) craisins (dried cranberries)

Preheat oven to 180°C. Line 2 large baking trays with non-stick baking paper.

Place the butter, sugar, golden syrup and water in a medium saucepan over medium heat. Cook, stirring occasionally, for 2-3 minutes or until the butter melts. Remove from heat. Stir in the bicarbonate of soda. Set aside for 5 minutes to cool slightly.

Combine the oats, flour and sesame seeds in a large bowl. Add the butter mixture, apricots and craisins, and stir until well combined.

Roll tablespoonfuls of the mixture into balls. Place 5cm apart on the lined trays. Use a fork to flatten slightly. Bake in oven for 8 minutes or until light golden. Set aside on the trays for 5 minutes to cool slightly before transferring to a wire rack to cool completely. 

07 March 2010

Corn & Dill Muffins

dairy free egg free nut free

I'm not one for savoury muffins usually, and most of the recipes are loaded with grated cheese or fetta. But these are tasty morsels using a mini muffin pan. You can use the Tofutti dairy-free sour cream or the less processed Kingland cream cheese might be good too. Substituting the dill for chives is perfectly acceptable also.

Makes approx 24 mini

2 cups self-raising flour
1/3 cup vegetable oil
1 cup Tofutti dairy-free sour cream or Kingland dairy-free cream cheese
1 cup corn kernels
1/4 cup chopped dill (or chives)
equivalent 2 eggs using Orgran egg replacer

Preheat oven to 180 C. Mix flour, oil, dairy-free cream, corn kernels until lightly combined then add egg replacer. Spoon into mini muffin holes 2/3 full. Bake for...to be honest, I cannot remember - try 8 minutes or until golden!

01 March 2010

Lunch Box Muesli Bars

Yep, I'm now a school mum trying to come up with different ideas for the lunchbox. Though things were awfully different in my day. I'm pretty sure I got a sandwich and one piece of fruit to last me all day. Sometimes a biscuit as a special treat (but only because the packet had been opened for visitors the day before). Now if there aren't at least 4 different items in the lunchbox, it's considered 'boring'. Variety is good I suppose, as long as you are not filling up the lunchbox with processed foods. Always check your ingredient labels - a seemingly inoffensive cracker can boast a long list of refined carbs and sugars.

Home-made muesli bars are excellent because you can load them up with interesting seeds full of omega 3 essential acids (assuming you are not seed-allergic). I had to make this twice due to not pressing down the mixture firmly enough in the pan the first time around. Though it did make for a delicious breakfast of toasted muesli and rice milk!

2 cups rolled oats
1.5 cups puffed rice
1 cup sultanas (I only had half a cup left so also added half a cup of craisins)
1/2 cup dessicated coconut
1/4 cup linseeds
1/4 cup sesame seeds
200g dairy-free margarine (Nuttelex)
1/3 cup caster sugar (or raw sugar)
3/4 cup honey

Preheat oven to 180 C and grease and line a 20x30cm slice pan.

Combine all dry ingredients in a large bowl and mix well.

Simmer margarine, sugar and honey for at least 5 minutes until thickened. Add to the dry ingredients and combine well.

With wet hands, press very firmly into pan and bake for 20 minutes or until golden brown. Cool in tin for 10 minutes then cut into bars.

13 February 2010

Red Velvet Valentine Cupcakes

dairy free egg free nut free

I have a number of cake recipes on this blog that can be easily substituted for cupcakes (Perfect Chocolate Cake and the Lamington sponge) but I must confess: I am still not completely satisfied with the vanilla versions. While I continue to battle the kitchen for a moist vanilla version that rises and STAYS RISEN, my chocolate cake recipe is, luckily, ideal for these cupcakes.

Red velvet cake is an American tradition - vanilla sponge with a dash of cocoa and  red food colouring. They possibly originally used beetroot juice which would be the more natural option, and better for those with sensitivities to artificial colours. Red velvet cake goes very nicely with cream cheese frosting and a sprinkling of coconut (I bought some organic and preservative-free shredded coconut - I thought preservative-free coconut was a myth to be honest, it's virtually impossible to find!)

And yes, it's also Valentine's Day. If you give a damn, these are perfect.

Makes 12 (at least)

170g plain flour
200g caster sugar
30g cocoa powder
1/4 tsp salt
1 tsp soda bicarbonate
225ml rice or soy milk
50ml vegetable oil
1 tbsp white vinegar
1 tbsp vanilla extract
4-5 drops of red food colouring (natural or otherwise!)

Dairy free 'cream cheese' icing
65g dairy-free margarine (Nuttelex)
125g Tofutti cream cheese (dairy free), softened
1 tsp vanilla extract
2 cups icing sugar, sifted

Preheat oven to 180 C. Line a 12 hole muffin/cupcake tray with cupcake liners.

Sift together in a large bowl the flour, sugar, soda bicarb, cocoa and salt. In a separate bowl, mix together the milk, oil, vinegar, vanilla and add to the dry ingredients, mixing well until smooth. Add red food colouring and mix again until all combined.

Fill cupcake liners 2/3 full and bake in the oven for about 10-12 minutes, until risen and firm to touch. Cool in tray for 10 minutes then turn onto a wire rack to cool completely. Decorate with dairy-free cream cheese icing and sprinkle with shredded coconut.

08 February 2010

Moroccan Chicken with Preserved Lemon and Green Olives

dairy free egg free nut free

I am currently fortunate enough to have a jar of home-made preserved lemons given to me by the lovely Sheena, as well as a monster barrel of Spanish green olives. This means I have made this dish twice now and I look forward to enjoying plenty more!  I don't have a tagine, but a Le Creuset dutch oven or any heavy bottomed stove top pot is perfectly acceptable. This is truly a delicious combination and is considered to be Morocco's national dish.

It's so damn good, even the baby was smacking her lips!

Serves 6

4 garlic cloves, thinly sliced
1 cup flat-leaf parsley, finely chopped
1 cup coriander, finely chopped
1 tsp ground cumin
1 tsp ground ginger
1 tsp ground coriander
1 tsp saffron threads (or if you don't have them, turmeric)
1/2 cup olive oil
1 large chicken jointed, or 8 chicken thigh fillets
2 onions, thinly sliced
juice of 2 lemons
1 preserved lemon, cut into strips
20 green olives
(I peeled the olives - you could leave them whole if you don't mind navigating the pips while eating, or you could use pipped olives)
To serve: steamed couscous

Place garlic, parsley, coriander, cumin, ginger, ground coriander, saffron/turmeric and half the oil in a large bowl and combine well. Add chicken and coat with marinade. Cover and refrigerate for at least 1 hour.

Heat remaining oil over medium heat in a tagine or large dutch oven/casserole dish, add onion and lemon juice and saute for 5-7 minutes or until softened. Transfer to a bowl. Remove chicken from marinade and saute for 5-7 minutes or until golden brown. Return onions and remaining marinade to pot, cover with 200ml water. Bring to boil then simmer over low heat for 50-60 minutes. Stir in preserved lemon and olives and simmer for another 15 minutes or until sauce thickens and chicken is tender.

Serve with couscous.

Recipe courtesy of Gourmet Traveller.

06 February 2010

Beef Stroganoff

dairy free egg free nut free

Do we look down on Beef Stroganoff? Maybe if it wasn't synonymous with packet mixes and food court bain maries, some of us might be more inclined to recreate this 19th century Russian dish. It may not be in vogue, but when you are allergic to dairy, the desire for 'creamy' dishes can verge on the obsessive.

To make this super delicious, ensure you flour and paprika the beef pieces well and sear them in a very hot frying pan for about 15 seconds each side and set aside. They should still be pink inside when you take them out - so given they are sliced thinly, they do only need about 15 seconds. If that!

For the sour cream, you can experiment with two versions - one using Tofutti sour cream which is very tasty and I don't think anyone eating it would know you were using a soy-based substitute. If however you want the less processed version (we try to eat Tofutti sparingly), you can substitute with coconut cream. You will however need to add a bit of tang or saltiness via a couple of tablespoons of Worcestershire sauce or soy sauce or even Thai fish sauce. Don't worry, it won't end up tasting like any of those things. 

(Another option might be to add 1 tablespoon of vinegar or lemon juice to one cup of coconut cream. I read somewhere recently that this is how you would make your own buttermilk - which is a sour version of regular milk and used in baking - but it might have the same effect. If anyone is game to try it, please let me know!)

This recipe was originally adapted from Delicious magazine. Some versions do include tomato paste and the traditional way to eat Stroganoff is with dill pickles and boiled potatoes. I went the Westernised version (rice) so as not to scare anyone off.

600g fillet steak, thinly sliced
3 tbsp flour, seasoned with salt and pepper
1 tbsp paprika (to be honest, I went a little heavy handed on the paprika and I think it is the better for it - go 2 tbsps!)
2 1/2 tbsps olive oil
1 large onion, finely sliced
2 garlic cloves, crushed
2 tsp chopped thyme
250g button mushrooms, sliced (or about 4-5 large field mushrooms)
1/4 cup brandy or dry sherry (optional)
300ml coconut milk
1-2 tbsp fish sauce

Toss meat in a bowl with flour and paprika to coat. Heat oil in a large frypan over high heat and fry steak quickly in batches for 1 minute or until seared on all sides. Remove and set aside. (This part is really important, especially if you have gone to the effort of buying fillet steak - you do not want chewy meat!)

Reduce heat to medium high, add a bit more oil and onion and cook for a minute until the onion starts to soften and colour. Add garlic and cook for 30 seconds, then thyme and mushrooms and cook for 2 minutes. Add brandy and allow to bubble for a further minute (optional). Stir in coconut milk and fish sauce and allow to simmer for 10 or so minutes. Add steak and any meat juices, simmer on low for a further minute.

Serve with rice.

29 January 2010

Mock Satay Skewers

dairy free egg free nut free

If peanuts are an issue for anyone you know, then I sincerely hope they have discovered Eskal's FreeNut Buttter. It is a brilliant substitute spread for peanut butter, made from ground sunflower seeds (make sure you are not allergic to sunflower seeds!). It is slightly sweeter than the regular stuff, but delicious just the same. Now that most schools aim to be nut-free, make sure you tell all your mummy friends. Readily available at Coles.

There is also a 'crunchy' version made from roasted pieces of honey (though this version is obviously not vegan). You can make 'peanut butter' cookies too - they are damn tasty.

I noticed recently that Trialia Foods have produced a satay substitute mix - BUT you can easily make your own. If you like to have a bit of extra sauce to spoon over when serving, reserve some marinade (before adding to the chicken please), and let it simmer and reduce a bit on the stove for 5 minutes before using.

These are so good, they almost made me cry!

Makes about 8-10 skewers

4 chicken thigh fillets, cut into even pieces
2 tbsp FreeNut Butter (smooth)
1 tbsp soy sauce (if you are soy-free, you could just add extra salt or stock powder)
1/4 cup coconut milk
1 tsp cumin
1 tsp ground coriander seeds
1 tsp turmeric
pinch of salt

Mix well the FreeNut Butter, soy sauce, coconut milk, spices and salt - add chicken pieces and leave to marinate for at least an hour. Thread chicken pieces onto pre-soaked bamboo skewers and grill or bbq. Eat, then wish you had made double the quantity.