Category Archives: low fructose

I’m not all that sure what constitutes low fructose. I know it means wheat free and that most fruits and a lot of vegetables need to be avoided, but there seems to be a fair bit of difference between what people can and can’t eat. If I’ve categorised it as low fructose, that means that someone with fructose intolerance has approved the ingredients as being things she can eat, but you should probably check for yourself, in case you are more sensitive.

Recipe: Modular Salad for Lots of Dietary Requirements

My best friend lives in Darwin, and she’s having a baby (!!!), so I went up for a quick visit last weekend, to hang out, help out a bit, but mostly just have a good chance to catch up for the last time before there is an adorably cute little barrier to conversation in the house!

The beach at Fannie Bay, just outside the Museum and Art Gallery of the Northern Territory

The beach at Fannie Bay, just outside the Museum of the Northern Territory

My friend has gestational diabetes, and her husband has a number of allergies and food sensitivities, and when you add to these culinary challenges the fact that Darwin is appallingly hot and humid, figuring out dinner is a bit of a challenge.

On the road south of Darwin.  This picture somehow conveys the weather perfectly.

On the road south of Darwin.

Like many people in Darwin, they don’t have family living locally, so we also talked a fair bit about planning for food that requires minimum preparation time when there is a small baby in the house.  (Not that I have ever had a small baby in the house, but I am all about minimal food preparation in hot weather.  Or grant season.)

Wattle, coming into bloom.  In hot weather.  Did I mention that Darwin was hot?

Wattle, coming into bloom. In hot weather. Did I mention that Darwin was hot?

We came up with this modular salad, which has the capacity to tick lots of mutually-exclusive boxes. It’s more an idea than a recipe, and it’s pretty simple, but it’s a useful one and worth sharing, I think.

(It’s unofficial name is Franken-Niçoise salad, because originally, there was going to be tuna.  But since we skipped the tuna, and the green beans were looking a bit dodgy, it’s just Modular Salad now.)

We liked it, and hope you will too.

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Your shopping list (for about 5-6 serves, which can be held over for later if need be)

One lettuce
Two punnets of cherry tomatoes
Two Lebanese cucumbers
Two red capsicums
One tin of cannellini beans, drained
Six smallish potatoes, preferably waxy ones
Six eggs
A handful of olives (optional)
A few spring onions (optional)
A tin or two of tuna or salmon; or leftover poached or roasted chicken; or tuna steaks if you are willing to cook such; or marinated and grilled tofu; or pre-prepared felafel, or even toasted hazelnuts or cubes of cheese.  You want about 100g per person of protein that is ready to eat, essentially.
Extra virgin Olive oil
Red wine vinegar (or cider vinegar if that’s what your friend can eat)
Salt, pepper
Tzatziki, or mayonnaise, or plain greek yoghurt with a teaspoon of dijon mustard

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Recipe: Saffron and Cardamon Yoghurt (Shrikhand)

I originally encountered this recipe in a pack from the glorious (and sadly, now on hold) Curry Delights startup.  It is a beautiful, pale-yellow-tinted, cooling yoghurt dessert flavoured with cardamom and the honey-like scent of saffron, and I absolutely loved it – so much that I made it two nights running, in fact. 

Ambika and Vikram’s version of this dish was super-easy and very quick, but relied on a couple of products that I was unable to source in Australia, so once I ran out (i.e., about four days after first encountering the recipe), I was out of luck.  I did have recipes for Shrikhand in other books, but none of them looked quite right (though I *highly* approve of the one that suggests adding popping candy, and I will be doing this at the first opportunity), and most of them, being more traditional, required a longer preparation time, as the recipes relied on drained yoghurt.

But I was really craving those lovely, cooling flavours again this week, so I decided that it was time to see if I could cross the various recipes, modified slightly to my tastes, and make a version that was feasible here.

Short version?  I did, and it was glorious, and I’m writing it up right now, so that I don’t forget the quantities…

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Your Shopping List

saffron strands – a big pinch, crumbled between your fingers into a little bowl
250 g light cream cheese
1/3 cup icing sugar (slightly heaped, to be honest)
1/4 tsp cardamom powder, also heaped
350 g low fat Greek Yoghurt (nothing wrong with full fat, but the low fat Black Swan one is nicer than the full fat anyway, and frankly, this dessert does not need to be any richer than it is)
200g raspberries, to serve.  Trust me, you want something fresh and acidic. Continue reading

Recipe: Almond Cookies with Lemon Myrtle

I’m on a bit of a gluten-free biscuit roll at the moment.  I pretty much have one super-easy recipe, which I vary by switching out the nuts for different nuts, and adding new flavour ingredients.  Done.  In fact, I spent half of yesterday afternoon making variations on this particular biscuity theme – five batches in total – because I am a little bit silly.

Exhibit A: some of the biscuits I made yesterday.  Some.  Only some.

You could probably do this just as well yourself.  Assuming that you are also silly. But I’m quite pleased with the way the flavour worked for these ones, so I’m recording the recipe here for my use, if not for yours.

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Your Shopping List

200 g almond meal
1 egg
1 tsp lemon myrtle (you want this in a powdered form, not a form which is leafy for tea)
50 g sugar
mixed peel or pine nuts (optional, for garnish)

DSCN0938 Continue reading

Recipe: Quandong and Bush Food Jam Thumbprints (Vegan, Gluten-Free)

Still with the biscuits.  I made a lot of biscuits last weekend.  Can you tell?  I’m also still swimming in brownie mix, which is completely awesome, though I’m glad I chose the route of sanity with regard to mixing up all the random bits of chocolate and using them as choc chips, and instead grouped them in ways likely to result in pleasing, rather than alarming, flavour combinations.

But I digress.  I had more macadamia nut crumbs leftover after making my super-awesome strawberry gum biscuits, and this inspired me to go looking in my pantry for other bushfood ingredients to play with.  I couldn’t find the lemon myrtle which I am positive is lurking somewhere, but I did find dried quandongs and also a mixed bush-fruits jam from Outback Spirit (they don’t seem to make it anymore, alas, but you can get Rosella Jam here).  Good enough!

The dried quandongs looked a little unpromising at first, being very hard and dry and woody in texture, so I reconstituted them with water and found them pleasingly tangy.  Also, when blended, they were moist enough to obviate the need for egg in the biscuits, yay, vegan biscuits!

The biscuits came out a lovely pink colour, but alas, lacking in the expected tang.  Instead, they tasted mostly like a macadamia-based jam thumbprint – which is certainly not a bad thing to taste like, but is nonetheless a little disappointing if quandong was what you were after.  I’d recommend adding some quandong essence if you have it, or maybe some lemon or finger-lime zest to the dough. (Finger lime zest would be better, from a bushfood standpoint, but you’d probably need a few of them to do the job…)

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Your Shopping List

25 g dried quandongs (mine came from Footeside Farm)
1/2 cup water or lemon juice
100g macadamia nuts
zest of 1 lemon
100 g almond meal
30g maple syrup
about 6 tsp rosella jam, or other bushfood jam

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Recipe: Super Nutty Snickerdoodle-doos (Gluten-Free)

What sort of word is Snickerdoodle, anyway?  A silly one, that’s what.  And these are silly biscuits.

No, actually, they aren’t all that silly.  In fact, as biscuits go, they are quite responsible.  They are not too sweet, a little bit chewy, and have a nice, nutty, cinnamon sort of taste that begs to be paired with a nice glass of milk.  I don’t actually like walnuts very much, but these biscuits somehow sneak around that, despite being really rather walnutty, and convince me that I want to eat more.  This is perhaps less responsible biscuit behaviour, but then, it is probably unfair to blame the biscuit for the fact that I want to eat it, don’t you think?

The mix of nuts is based purely on how much was left in a bunch of open packets of nuts that I found on my kitchen bench.  I think walnuts, pecans and cashews make a nice mix, and have the sort of dark nutty taste that pairs well with spices (I think of pistachios or almonds as having a lighter nutty taste.  Cashews are somewhere in the middle and could go with either) but the proportions could easily be varied, as could the nuts themselves.

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Your Shopping List (or leftovers list, as the case may be)

100 g walnuts
60 g pecans
40 g roasted cashews
1 tbsp cornflour
1/2 tsp baking powder
1/2 tsp cinnamon
100g caster sugar
1 egg
cinnamon sugar to sprinkle

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Recipe: Strawberry Gum and Macadamia Biscuits (Gluten-Free)

Hello!  I’m back!  The Centenary Games are all over but the shouting (alas, there is quite a bit of shouting still), and I am actually getting to do things like come home from work on time and then SLEEP.  During which time I dream about the Centenary Sports Carnival and its controversies, but hopefully this too shall pass.

One of the more unfortunate side effects of not being at home much for months and months and months and not being in any fit state to think or do anything creative when I was has been the insane buildup of random stuff all over my kitchen.  I am too terrified to tackle the pantry just yet, but today I went through the fridge and started going through the mess on the benchtops and kitchen table.

The result?  The discovery that I had about twelve open packets of nuts of various varieties in numerous degrees of fullness, as well as an inordinate amount of butter and the last little bits of a truly ridiculous range of chocolates (some from Easter, some from Christmas, some from zombie Catherine making ill-advised purchases when there were specials at the supermarket).

Obviously, the only response to this situation was a nut- and chocolate-centric baking frenzy, and so this afternoon, I have made four kinds of biscuits, three batches of my brownie packet mix (each featuring a different collection of chocolate odds and ends), and some rather decadent-looking raw chocolate lava cakes that will be tonight’s dessert.

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(And now I have no desire whatsoever to make dinner, for some reason.  Who would have imagined this?)

Anyway, the good news for this blog is that three of those recipes were brand spanking new ones (where on earth did that saying come from, anyway?  I have a feeling that if I try Googling this, I’m going to see things that I cannot unsee, so I think I’d better leave well alone), which means that you have three gluten-free biscuit recipes coming soon to this blog.  Huzzah!  And one of them is vegan!  Double huzzah!! And two of them are really, really easy, fast ones, too!  Triple huzzah!

Yeah, I’m a little manic right now.  Hi!

These biscuits fall into the super-easy category, once you find the strawberry gum in the first place.  This is an Australian native ingredient – a eucalypt with a strawberry scent to it.  I got mine from Peppermint Ridge Farm, who visit a number of Farmers’ Markets around Melbourne.  Herbie’s Spices also stock it, though I think their herb had a milder flavour than the one I used.  I recommend adjusting the recipe to taste – it tastes pretty much the same uncooked as it will cooked, though the herb fades slightly in the oven.

I’m super happy with this recipe.  It tastes like nothing I’ve ever baked before, and it is both simple and delicious.  Also, the biscuits come out an attractive shade of pale green.  I think I’ll be using these in my Christmas hampers…

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Your Shopping List

100g macadamias
100g almond meal
1-2 tsp powdered strawberry gum leaves (check the taste before adding the second teaspoon)
50 g sugar
1 egg

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Recipe: DIY Brownie Packet Mix (gluten-free)

OK, after yesterday’s exploration of the truly disgusting things one can create while in pursuit of dessert, I thought we deserved something a bit less traumatic. So here, have a soothing brownie.

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Is it not beautiful?  Does it not inspire meditation?  Or, indeed, imitation?

Or even levitation?  This brownie is not, in fact, levitating, but you wouldn't know it to look at this photo.

Or even levitation? This brownie is not, in fact, levitating, but you wouldn’t know it to look at this photo.

The good news is, you can plan this brownie ahead of time and eat it whenever you like.

This brownie mix grew out of the fact that at certain times of the month I desperately, desperately crave chocolate cake and brownies, but am generally feeling far too unwell to do the culinary work required to create them.  This leaves me with the option of buying brownies made by someone else  – and I don’t have any good sources for those in my vicinity – or resorting to packet mixes (I use the Donna Hay ones because the ingredients are actually proper cake ingredients).  Only then I feel guilty about resorting to packet mixes, and then I need to eat more chocolate brownies.  This cycle serves nobody (except, perhaps, Donna Hay).

But I am breaking the cycle!  I am breaking the cycle by creating my own packet mix, that can be put together on days when I actually feel like measuring stuff, and then stashed in the pantry, ready to be made up when I need it.

This packet mix is gluten-free, and can be made in a variety of flavour profiles.  I haven’t yet figured out how to veganise it, but I suspect this would not be too difficult for anyone with practice in the matter.  That will be my next brownie experiment.

In the meantime – enjoy!  Enjoy very, very much. Continue reading

Recipe: Dark Chocolate Crackles That Crackle

I only discovered popping candy a couple of years ago, when I made the Masterchef Lolly Bag cake, and I have been looking for it in the shops ever since, because it is my new favourite thing.  Well, around about Easter, I discovered that not only was it available at Woollies, but their particular variety was super popping.  As in, I washed my hands after putting popping candy in something, and the sink crackled and cackled for about five minutes after I stopped running the water.  Awesome.

Of course, the first thing one must decide is what to put one’s popping candy in, but to me this was easy.  I mean, chocolate crackles are all well and good, especially if you take my approach and fill them with as much dark chocolate as they can hold, but their name is rather misleading, don’t you think?  Chocolate crackles are chocolatey, certainly, and they are crunchy, too, but they hardly crackle.

Well, they do when you put popping candy in them.  Boy, do they.  For best results, I recommend not telling people in advance about the popping candy, either.  (Even if one does tell people, the look on the faces of those who have never had popping candy before is quite priceless.)

This would have been my Eurovision dessert this year if I hadn’t gone all classy and stuck with proper Austrian food (Cross-Dressing Ken didn’t even make an appearance this year – I was too tired from work on the Friday, I was at a class on chou pastry on the Saturday, and I was not up for making a Cross-Dressing Ken cake that would be ready for our 5 am festivities when we got up early to vote.  Fortunately, Conchita was so fabulous that Ken was not much missed.).  It just screams Eurovision.  Though for best results, these crackles probably deserve just a little bit of edible glitter on top…

This recipe is super-easy, as befits a chocolate crackle recipe.  It makes about 16 quite decadent and rich chocolate crackles suitable for grownups – I use really dark chocolate and glacé ginger, so I’m not sure how child-friendly these crackles would be.  But you could always use popping candy in an ordinary crackle recipe if you wanted…

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Your shopping list

200 g dark chocolate (I like Lindt 70%)
75 g crystallised ginger
30 ml pistachio or almond butter
3 cups (750 ml) rice bubbles or their gluten-free equivalent
50 ml popping candy

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Recipe: Slow Cooker Lamb Shoulder with Lemon and Garlic

As is my custom, I went vegetarian for Lent this year.  Then, at the end of Lent, Simply Free Range had this special on a lamb roast pack and I got a little bit overexcited and also apparently failed to read just how many joints of meat I was actually getting in this pack, and since then we have been positively swimming in lamb roasts of various kinds (actually, after the first week of this lamb-fest, during which I invited over just about everyone I could think of to share in the lamb-ish bounty, I did a freezer clean-out, and moved the rest of the joints to the fridge, where they now sit.  Waiting…).  Which is a bit bad, when you consider that Andrew doesn’t really like roast lamb.  Oops.

Still, he liked this one, and so did I, not least because it was magnificently easy and not at all roast like.  Essentially, you put your lamb in the slow cooker before work, with a few herbs and lemon and quite a bit of garlic to help it along, and leave it there all day.  (Don’t forget to switch the cooker on before you go…) When you come home, you take out the lamb and it just falls apart.  I quite literally served it on a big dish and gave everyone forks – no carving required, everyone could just pull off what they needed.  Amazing.  The garlic, meanwhile, has basically melted, and can be spread all over the lamb like a sauce.  It’s pretty much an advertisement for what a slow cooker can do for you. Completely fabulous.

Your Shopping list:

1 boned and rolled lamb shoulder
2 onions
2 potatoes (optional)
4 sprigs rosemary
2 bay leaves
1 tbsp dried oregano
2 tbsp olive oil
juice of three lemons
1/2 cup white wine
salt, pepper
1 bulb garlic Continue reading

Recipe: Choc-Mint Birthday Cupcakes for Andrew

It’s Andrew’s birthday today!  Happy birthday, Andrew!  Every year, I ask him what kind of cake he would like for his birthday, and every year, I get a slightly terrified look (you want me to make a decision?  About food?), followed by a sheepish acknowledgement, after some discussion, that yes, he does want something chocolatey and minty.  Again.  Because being an Andrew means wanting choc-mint everything all the time.  (He knows what he likes…)

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The problem with Andrew having a birthday at this time of year is that he never gets a truly elaborate birthday cake, mostly because I am in the middle of grant season.  This grant season has been particularly diabolical, too, what with the NHMRC compressing all the due dates so that all the grants are due a week apart, changing the rules twice (so far), and then our finance department providing the coup de grace by introducing new costings for all our internal services the day all the budgets were due to the grants office.   It’s all rather exhausting, not to say demoralising, and while it’s awfully early in the year to be losing the will to live, I, for one, am getting close to that point.

(The good news is that I’m getting a lot of singing work, which is always a balm to the soul.  Though not conducive to blogging.  So yes, there is a significant chance that I will be disappearing off the radar quite a bit over the next couple of months.  And I’m sorry about that lengthy whinge.  As I said, I’m feeling rather demoralised.)

Here, have some cupcakes to un-demoralise you.

Here, have some cupcakes to un-demoralise you.

Anyway.  Cake!  So, as you may have gathered, my priority for Andrew’s birthday cake is to produce a cake that is on the one hand suitably choc-minty and decadent, and on the other hand really, really fast to make.  Which, oddly enough, tends to mean vegan or nearly-vegan, since most of those cupcake recipes are very straightforward.  As a bonus, of course, this means that I can easily cater to my sister-in-law, who prefers to avoid dairy if possible.

These cupcakes, then, are just a nice, simple, vegan cupcake, flavoured with really good cocoa, and an optional (non vegan) cube of mint-filled chocolate in the centre.  I’ve topped them with a really basic peppermint-spiked chocolate tofu mousse, which is, frankly, easier to make than chocolate ganache, and not a lot more complicated than chocolate buttercream, and much tastier.

Not elaborate, but entirely delicious.  Which is really all you can ask for from a cupcake…

Your Shopping List (Makes seven big cupcakes – one for everyone in the family, plus an extra one for the birthday boy)

2/3 cup almond milk + 20 ml for the topping
3/4 tsp cider or white wine vinegar
3/4 cup plain flour or plain spelt flour
1/4 cup really good Dutch-style cocoa
1/2 tsp baking powder
1/2 tsp bicarb of soda
1/4 cup canola oil
1/3 cup sugar
7 squares of Cadbury Peppermint Block, or similar (optional)
125 g silken tofu
2 tsp creme de cacao (optional)
115 g dark chocolate
6 drops peppermint oil, or peppermint essence to taste (start with 1/4 teaspoon)
Green sugar, optional

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