Friday, April 29, 2011

Aila's Shortcake

Aila was my Mother-in-Law.
She was a bloody-minded, determined, stroppy old bag.
She was also an entertainer, a raconteur - with a huge fund of naughty stories. She preferred the company of men to that of women.
She called herself a good, plain cook and she made the best roast dinners ever.
She smoked like a chimney, drank whiskey and knew more rude words than I do - and she would use them at the most inappropriate times.
She was funny and often very kind. We got on very well because very early on in our relationship I decided I would never fight with an old lady. Also, because I always did exactly as I was told.
I miss her still.

Aila's Shortcake

125g butter - softened
125g sugar - I used sugar which had vanilla beans buried in it.
1 egg
1 tsp baking powder
225g flour - I am using a blend of flours recommended by Karina at
I used a combination of sorghum flour, buckwheat flour and tapioca starch. Karina uses xanthan gum in her blend. I don't have any (and I think they sound a bit yucky - a technical term which means... ick)
so I didn't put any in my flours mix.

Cream the butter and sugar.
Add the egg - beat
Tip in the flour and baking powder and beat again - this is a very soft dough which can easily be made with a hand-held electric beater - which is good, because I don't have a stand mixer.
Tear off four even-sized pieces of baking paper - big enough to line a pie dish.
Carefully measure three-quarters of the mixture onto one piece of baking paper..... na, just kidding! There is no 'carefully' in this recipe - just roughly 3/4.
Put another piece of the baking paper on top of the dough, then press the dough till it fits the base and sides of your pie dish. Put the paper covered dough in the fridge for 10 minutes to harden up a little.
Do the same process again, pressing the dough out to cover the top of your pie, and refrigerate that too.
Don't be too precious about getting the measurements right.
This dough is very forgiving - gaps smoodge together beautifully.
Take the dough from the fridge.
Put the base circle into your pie dish and quickly remove the top layer of baking paper.
Fill the pie with whatever you want - I used a mixture of peaches and sliced apple.

Take one piece of paper off your top piece of dough and plop it dough-side down on top of the filling.
Peel the last piece of paper off... I'm thinking as I write this, that I really don't need to be so pedantic about instructions because, frankly if you can't figure this out for yourself, you really need to be reading someone else's blog...
Skrunkle the edges over to fit the top, and don't worry about any holes that you rip in the pastry.

Sprinkle with sugar - I used sugar that I have stored in this lovely little container that we bought at a market in Vietnam. It's made of cinnamon bark and scents the sugar (the same way the vanilla beans

Bake the pie at about180c or until it is golden.

Serve to a happy husband for his birthday.
This is good hot, warm or at room temperature.
Aila would often make it with jam in the middle.

Wednesday, April 27, 2011

Note to self...

The Pomegranate Molasses marinade for salmon IS fabulous with pork slices.


I was watching a movie recently. (Am I the last person on earth to see The Time Traveller's Wife?)
Eric Bana - Oh My!

I heard a strange noise....snoring


Tuesday, April 26, 2011

Simple things make me happy.

"To have her meals - her daily walk, and her fill of novels, and to be left alone, was all that she asked of the gods."  Anthony Trollope: The Eustace Diamonds
I would add - "cats" to that list, but otherwise this passage from The Eustace Diamonds pretty much sums me up.

I made roast lamb. Roast dinners need gravy. I needed a gravy that could be made ahead. This one is simple. I was happy.

Olive Oil Enriched Gravy

400ml stock - I used home-made vegetable stock
100ml dry white wine
25g sugar (2 1/2 tbsp)
Fresh herbs - I was making gravy for lamb, so I used rosemary - a BIG sprig
30ml (2 tbsp) olive oil

Put the stock into a small pot. Bring to the boil over high heat and boil until reduced by half.
Into a second pot, put the wine, sugar and rosemary. Bring to the boil, reduce to a simmer and reduce by half.
Pour the two together, add olive oil and bring to the boil.
Thicken if you want to - I did, I used a cornflour slurry
Season with salt and pepper and serve hot

Monday, April 25, 2011

It's soup weather.

Grey, wet and WINDY! - our first cold day.
I love Thai flavours and I love pumpkin soup - this soup is the perfect mix of both.

Thai Style Pumpkin Soup

2 tbsp sesame oil
2 cloves garlic - peeled and chopped
1 tsp turmeric
1 tsp paprika
2 tsp curry powder
4 spring onions - chopped
1 red chilli - de-seeded and chopped
1/4 cup pinenuts
400ml coconut milk
200ml water or stock
750g pumpkin - peeled, seeded and chopped
salt and pepper - to taste
coriander, basil or mint for garnish - roughly chopped (I put the coriander stalks into the soup)

Heat the oil in a large saucepan and saute garlic, turmeric, paprika, curry powder, spring onions, chilli and pinenuts for 2 - 3 minutes.
Add coconut milk and water/stock to the saucepan.
Bring to the boil, add pumpkin and simmer, stirring gently from time to time until the pumpkin is tender.
Taste for seasoning, thin with water or stock if necessary.
Serve garnished with chopped herbs

Thick, Hot, Spicy

Sunday, April 24, 2011

What to do?

We went for dinner at a friend's home on Saturday.
They are fantastic cooks - the Masterchefs of our group.
They know I have celiac disease and what it means.
They told me to scrape the crumbs off the top, so that I could eat the fish.
I did.
The acid burn started within 10 minutes and the tummy grumbles within half an hour.
I took 3 losec when we got home, but still had a bad night.
Sunday spent close to the loo, and I was tired and VERY grumpy and depressed.
What would you do - in the same position?
I didn't want to hurt the feelings of these lovely people who had gone to so much trouble for all of us.
But, I don't want to be unwell either.

We have a party coming up on Friday - to celebrate the royal wedding.
We have a brunch today to decide Friday's menu - it will be a kind of pot-luck meal... Roast Beef, Yorkshire Pudding, Gravy... Trifle... probably nothing I can eat...
Would it be rude of me to bring a dish I can share... PLUS a picnic box for myself?
I don't want to call attention to myself - there will be heaps of people there - it's not a sit-down meal...

What do you think?
What should I do?

Thursday, April 21, 2011

Bitter and Sour... no - NOT me!

I've been craving sour and bitter flavours lately. Lots of lemon, rocket (arugula) salads, vinaigrette dressings etc. I don't know why, but I'm happy to go with the flow. This pomegranate molasses marinade is brilliant with salmon. It is sweet/sour/salty and cuts through the richness of the salmon beautifully. Pomegranate molasses is dark garnet in colour, thick and luscious with a sharp tangy sweetness. I get mine at the Indian Grocery around the corner from us. I'm going to ask the young couple who own it (Nasmeen and Im Patel) if I can take photos in there - the place is magic, I'd love to share it.

Pomegranate Marinade for Salmon

4 tbsp pomegranate molasses
2 tbsp honey or maple syrup
2 tbsp gluten-free soy sauce

Stir it all up, put your skinned and boned salmon fillets in and turn over to coat in the marinade.
Cook the salmon in a very hot oven for 8 - 10 minutes.

I imagine this marinade would work really well with lamb, pork or chicken too.... mmmm

Tuesday, April 19, 2011

I am so lucky

and this is why...

If I was a critter

I'd be a hedgehog.
Prickly on the outside... soft in the middle...

My Nana gave me this when I was 18. I suspect she'd be disappointed that I haven't changed...

What I do all day...

Feed the wild birds

The trees in our street are losing their leaves... the leaves blow down our driveway...

I swept them up and put them on the veggie garden...

I cleaned the windows... if you look carefully you can see the birds eating their seed....

I watched the birdies while I made fish pie...

Oh, yeah, I also did two loads of laundry, made a big pot of chicken stock, did the supermarket shopping, dead-headed the hydrangeas, checked up on an elderly neighbour, did 2 hours of typing for Rick and listened politely as an Insurance Broker told me - if anything happened to Rick, I  might have to get a job.
She put me down on a form as "A Professional Executive"... even though...of course... titter... you are not." I asked did they not have a title 'housewife' - her reply? "Well, yes they do, but it doesn't sound as good, does it?"

Sounds just fine to me....

I made her change the form.

Sunday, April 17, 2011

Beer Barrel

We met Michael and his son Tim for lunch yesterday.
We went to the Beer Barrel on Fitzherbert Avenue.
It is a sports bar.
They do food...
...sort of.
Not for food.
Pleasant staff... BIG tv screens...
Trust me...

Saturday, April 16, 2011

Asian Chicken Parcels

This meal is so easy, and when you unwrap the parcels the smell is delicious.

Asian Chicken Parcels

Chicken pieces - skin removed, flesh slashed - I used thighs
1/3 cup gluten free soy sauce
1 tbsp honey
2 garlic cloves - thinly sliced
2 small red chillies - seeded and chopped finely
2cm piece fresh ginger - peeled and cut into thin matchsticks
4 star anise
green vegetable - I used peeled broad beans, but bok choy, brocolli, spinach, green beans
Put pieces of foil on a baking tray (you need to make the foil big enough to make into a parcel, line foil with a piece of baking paper the same size.
Put chicken pieces and green vegetable on top of the baking paper.
Scrunch the foil a bit to a cup shape, to hold the sauce.
Warm the soy sauce, honey, garlic, chilli, ginger and star anise together until the honey has melted.
Spoon the sauce over the chicken.

Fold the edges of the foil and paper together and seal to make parcels.

Bake at 180c for about half an hour.
Serve with rice.

Thursday, April 14, 2011


or should that be DISGUSTED!  An item on a New Zealand current affairs programme last night was about the practice of some butchers 'to the trade' (ie restaurants) of 'glueing' meat to make even portions. For example: the 'tail' end of a fillet of beef is glued to base of the tail to make an even width fillet (I'm not explaining this too well am I?)

Check this out!

The glue (actually a powder) contains transglutaminase (among other chemicals!), which I understand contains gluten!

Wednesday, April 13, 2011

When I don't feel like cooking...

this is what we do.

Carrot Cake

Ray McVinnie is a Chef - world famous in New Zealand :-) He is also a judge on New Zealand's version of Masterchef. I've met him and he's lovely, with a very dry sense of humour. This is his recipe as published in one of our weekend newspapers recently. The list of ingredients is quite long, but it is so easy to assemble - don't be daunted.
 I wish you could be in my kitchen now - the scent is lovely - all warm spicey.

Ray McVinnie's Carrot Cake
3/4 cup rice flour
1/4 cup cornflour
1/2 cup ground almonds
1 1/2 cups caster sugar
1/2 tsp salt
2 tsp baking soda
3/4 tsp baking powder
1 tbsp ground cinnamon
1 tbsp ground ginger
1 cup walnut pieces - roughly chopped
3/4 cup dessicated coconut
3/4 cup grapeseed oil
2 large eggs - lightly beaten
1 tsp vanilla extract
2 cups grated carrot - about 2 medium sized carrots
3/4 cup crushed pineapple - well drained

Pre-heat the oven to 180c
Grease and line a 23cm loose-bottomed cake tin
Put the dry ingredients in a bowl and mix well
Add the wet ingredients and mix well
Pour into the tine and bake 45-50 minutes until a skewer comes out clean
Remove from oven and cool completely.
Cut the cake in half through the equator. Spread half the icing on the first layer, put the second layer on top and spread with the other half of the icing - I didn't do that - I just plopped the icing on top.

Ray suggests an icing of :
3 1/2 cups icing sugar
100g softened butter
zest and juice of 2 lemons.

But it's carrot cake! Carrot cakes must have cream-cheese
150g icing sugar
100g butter softened
beat together and add
the zest and juice of 1 lemon
100g cream cheese.
Ice the cake then dust thickly with icing sugar.

You know how gluten free cakes are dry, crumbly and altogether pretty ordinary? Well, not this one.
Even the next day it is moist and spicy. This recipe is a 'keeper'! I can't imagine anyone would guess it is gluten free. Thank you Ray McVinnie xxx

Monday, April 11, 2011


He caught a mouse... at 2am. And he brought it home to show us. But we were asleep, so he took it into the dining room... he likes to play with his food... We heard him romping around, so we knew he'd caught something....
Then he came to bed and slept the sleep of the innocent.
In the morning, we looked for a body - or part of a body.
No sign.
Uh Oh...

It seems, the last time he saw it ... it was underneath the refrigerator.
So he waits, poised.... patient.

It's a good thing we love him.

Sunday, April 10, 2011

Mint Chutney

Digby Law was a New Zealand chef who sadly, died far too early, some years ago. This recipe is adapted from his book Digby Law's Pickle and Chutney Cookbook. He described it as 'Strong and superb, use it sparingly in lamb sandwiches, with barbecued lamb, with lamb burgers or with roast lamb.' This recipe book is one of my favourites, full of wonderful and unusual recipes - perfect for someone like me, who loves preserving food. I get such a thrill from having all the jars full and the pantry shelves groaning... (I have made this chutney both as Digby Law wrote it, using malt vinegar, and this way - it is unquestionably better in the original, but it is not gluten free - so I have had to change it - I hope he wouldn't mind)... and it is still really, really good.

Mint Chutney

250g fresh mint leaves - this is a huge amount of mint, I picked all season, freezing it as I went until I finally had enough
1 tbsp salt
1/2 tsp cayenne pepper
125g raisins
50g fresh ginger - sliced
25g garlic - sliced
1/2 cup brown sugar
1 cup cold cider vinegar
1 cup hot cider vinegar

Blitz the mint leaves in a food processor until finely chopped
Add the dry ingredients and whizz until well chopped
Add the cold vinegar and whizz until smooth
Put the paste into a bowl and add the hot vinegar
Allow to cool and spoon into small jars and seal.

Go To Pork

I make this 'recipe' a lot. It has become a kind of comfort food. I think it is Jamie Oliver, though I'm not really sure... it's one of my collection that isn't labelled, but it 'sounds' like Jamie.
Pork with Parsnip, Apple,Lemon and Rosemary
Pork slices or chops
Parsnip - peeled and sliced
Apple - cored and sliced thickly
Garlic cloves - peeled and chopped roughly
Lemons - juice and skin (slice the skins into strips)
Oil - olive or grapeseed
Fresh rosemary - chopped

I also used gold kumara, butternut pumpkin and carrots - a one-pot meal, my favourite kind!
Put oil, garlic, lemon juice and rosemary into a big bowl
Put the vegetables, apple and lemon skins into the oil and stir to coat - use your hands - much easier
Put the vegetables into a shallow baking dish
Put the pork into the bowl and stir to coat in oily herby mix
Put the pork on top of the vegetables and tip the remaining oil over.

Bake till all is cooked and delicious.
The lemon skins go almost caramelized and cut through the richness of the pork - delicious (did I say that already?)
I didn't take a photo of it once it was cooked. Now that daylight saving is over, it is dark by the time the cooking is done and I'm having trouble with getting the lighting right...

Spiced Lamb with Pomegranate Yoghurt

This recipe was in a recent Australian Women's Weekly magazine (for New Zealand women and published monthly ! ) I love middle eastern flavours, the gentle flavour of cumin and paprika. I really love pomegranate molasses - especially as a marinade for salmon. I thought this would taste really good, but found it slightly disappointing. If I make it again I will increase the amount of molasses in the mince to 1 tbsp. The yoghurt sauce was really good, but I had changed that too...

Spiced Lamb with Pomegranate Yoghurt

500g lamb mince
1 clove garlic - finely chopped
1 medium tomato - seeded and chopped finely
1 tsp pomegranate molasses
1 tsp ground cumin
1/2 tsp sweet paprika
1 tsp dried mint leaves - I used fresh
1 tsp dried oregano - I used fresh

1/2 cup thick Greek-style yoghurt
1 tsp sumac
2 tsp pomegranate molasses extra
1/4 cup fresh mint - finely shredded - I had used all the mint, so I used a good tbsp of a mint chutney I had made last year. (Adapted from the Pickle and Chutney Cookbook by Digby Law)

Combine the lamb and spices with freshly ground black pepper and salt.
Form into patties.
Cook over medium-high heat until cooked through and browned.

Combine yoghurt, sumac, extra pomegranate molasses and half the fresh mint.

Serve patties with yoghurt mixture sprinkled with the rest of the fresh mint.

I bought these tortillas at the supermarket this week. I've never tried tortillas - even pre-coeliac diagnosis, so I didn't have any pre-conceived notions of what they would taste like... which is good, because they taste like cardboard. I threw most of them to the birds this morning and interestingly, they are not much interested in them either!

Thursday, April 7, 2011

It's suddenly cold.

Wet, grey and cold. Summer is gone. I guess it had to happen. Cold nights make me think of curry. This is a new recipe to me, one of the ones I had taken from a magazine. I probably should have made notes on these recipes - whose recipe it was, which magazine I found it in... but I didn't... , so I hope I don't tread on any toes in writing it out here.

Chicken Korma

1 onion - sliced
3 garlic cloves - finely chopped
chicken thighs or breasts - thickly sliced
2 tsp garam masala
1 tsp ground cumin
300ml chicken stock - home made this time, but Massel brand is gluten free
60g (1/4 cup) creme fraiche or yoghurt
60g (1/2 cup) ground almonds

Cook onion in oil over medium-high heat for 2 or 3 minutes, then add garlic and cook for a minute.
Add the chicken and cook for about 5 minutes
Add the spices and cook until fragrant.
Add stock, creme fraiche or yoghurt and ground almonds.
Bring to the boil then cover and simmer until the chicken is cooked.
Add vegetables of your choice for the last few minutes - peas, zucchini, green beans, chopped spinach etc.
Serve with rice.
Sprinkle with coriander leaves if you have some.

This is a very quick curry to make, so perfect for a last minute, what the heck to I want to make for dinner thing. It tastes really good, the spices are warm, but gentle - nothing to offend any fussy eater - not that there are any of those here.

Wednesday, April 6, 2011

Barbecued Pork Spare Ribs

Pork slices - bone in - or not, but the bones are nice to suck
4 tbsp barbecue sauce - which I didn't have, so I used home-made tomato sauce
4 tbsp honey
4 tbsp red wine vinegar
1 tbsp Chinese chilli sauce
1/4 tsp five spice powder
1/3 cup sherry - the recipe says use dry sherry, but the liquor store doesn't have it - I used medium sherry
2 tbsp gluten free soy sauce
1 clove garlic - crushed
2.5cm piece green ginger - grated.

Combine  the sauce ingredients and mix well
Put the pork slices into a baking dish and pour sauce mix over, marinate at least an hour.

Bake in a moderately hot oven for about an hour until the pork is tender - baste frequently.

Soft, sticky, juicy, sweet-sour delicious.

Tuesday, April 5, 2011

Living in the moment

Tonight we're having coleslaw for dinner. Ina made this lovely looking coleslaw here which I will make. But first, I need to make mayonnaise.

I actually made this by hand - rather than in the food processor. I've spent this lovely (but chilly) day tidying the shade-house. This after a sleepless night in which my little cat kept me awake from midnight on... why don't I put him outside? Because he has the sweetest trick of jumping to the window-sill and knocking on the window to be let back in... you're damned if you do and damned if you don't, because he can keep the knocking going for ages. So, now I feel like sitting quietly and doing something restful...


4 egg yolks
2 garlic cloves - peeled
1 tsp wholegrain mustard
2 tbsp lemon juice
500ml (2 cups) salad oil
sea salt and freshly ground black pepper

Put egg yolks, garlic, mustard, lemon juice and 2 tbsp of the oil into a food processor.
Blitz till smooth.
With the processor running, slowly add the rest of the oil through the feed tube.
Season to taste.
This makes a very thick mayonnaise - perfect for sandwiches. To make it thinner, add 2 tbsp of boiling water and process.
Mayonnaise will keep, covered in the fridge for 2 - 3 weeks

Sunday, April 3, 2011

How lucky am I?

Just around the corner from our house is Hotel Coachman, one of Palmerston North's finest hotels. Their in-house cafe is called La Patio. The Chef has Coeliac disease. ...

How lucky am I?

Saturday, April 2, 2011

Who needs stuffing?

When I was growing up, roast chicken was special - this was before there were chicken factories, before anyone would dream of putting a creature in a cage so small that it can't sit down, turn around, scratch it's own ear. In a cage where it never sees the sun. So, chicken's were expensive - they took space to grow. Chicken's tasted different then. When it was our birthday, we could choose our favourite meal. Mine was always roast chicken, with roast potatoes, peas, carrots, gravy made with pan drippings (no packet gravy in those days), and herby bread stuffing.
Now I'm older I still love roast chicken. I buy the one's that have lived a happy life - they're expensive, but we're worth it. I can't eat the bread stuffing any more, but that's ok because of Jamie Oliver. I love that man. I love his enthusiasm, his passion and the fact he is trying to make good food available for everyone. He is awesome, and these onions are really good too.

Jamie's Stuffed Onions

Peel onions and boil for 15 minutes until soft.
Cut the onions in half and scoop out the middle.

Chop the scooped-out bits and fry in oil and butter, with chopped rosemary.
Cool slightly then add a little cream and some grated parmesan to make a gluggy mix.

Stuff the mix back into the onions.
Wrap the onions with a strip of bacon and secure with a rosemary skewer (or a tooth-pick).
Bake until golden.

Friday, April 1, 2011

Do you think Yoga will fix a back/neck-ache caused by this?

I sleep around him...

Lemon Posset and new friends

The very best thing about blogging is the people you meet.
The idea behind me doing this blog was that I put all my many recipes on my blog, so that I don't need to cart my recipe books and magazines around with me... The trouble with blogging is that you 'meet' people who also have recipes to share. And because they sound so good, I want to try them.
This week I made Ina's Italian Sausage Pesto Cannelloni, which I did not photograph, but which was so good! Ina is here:, check out her blog, I thoroughly recommend it.

I love lemon desserts, so I was really pleased to find this one on another new friend's blog. This is from a fellow kiwi, she made a Lemon Posset - that is rich, creamy, simple and a perfect finish to a meal. SH is a new coeliac, blogging her way through her first year of gluten-free eating. I'll be making the Posset again!

Quince Jelly and good neighbours

We have been so lucky. We have had the same neighbours on all sides for as long as we have lived in this house - 25 years so far. And they are all good people.
Nettie and Gerald raised a large family next door - most of whom were grown and gone when we arrived in the neighbourhood. They had and still do have, the most amazing, inspirational veggie garden. They have been kind and generous neighbours - generous with advice, encouragement and produce.
Besides veggies, they also have some fruit trees. Including one that is now coming back into fashion - a quince tree. The tree is small, but laden with fruit. Nettie gave me some this week and I have been turning them into jelly. You can't eat quince raw - it's too sour, but cooked it comes into its own.

Wash the fluff off them, cut them up and put them into a big pot. Cover with water, bring to the boil and cook until the fruit is soft. Leave in liquid to cool.
You are supposed to strain the fruit, using a muslin bag, overnight - without squeezing - to get the juice out. This will give you lovely clear liquid that will make a jelly so clear that it almost sparkles.
 However, I don't care that my jelly is a little cloudy - I'm not entering it into any competition, or planning to sell it. So, I wait until the fruit is cool, then I put it into a sieve and squash the bejeebers out of it, to get as much liquid out as possible. It's the pale pink liquid you want - discard the pulp.
 Then I strain the juice through a piece of muslin, into a measuring jug. Quince needs one cup of juice to 3/4 cup of sugar to make a beautiful jelly.
Put the measured juice and the sugar into a large pot. Bring to the boil and boil until it reaches 105-106c on a sugar thermometer. Back when I  had no clue, I made beautiful jelly with no trouble at all. Then I had a disaster and turned one lot of crab-apple juice into toffee, and the next lot didn't set - so I re-boiled it and... turned it into toffee...

I didn't want to waste this beautiful juice, so I bought myself a present yesterday. A sugar thermometer - no mucking around, perfect juice every time. It cost about $38 dollars and I reckon it is worth every cent.

And the scent of quince is heavenly - cloves, apple blossomy, sweet