Thursday, 16 October 2014

Melbourne - Our Gluten Free Sojourn


We  OK 'I' have always been a little apprehensive about venturing outside of our comfort zone since we boarded this gluten free bus.  After all, we have had some not-very fun glutening episodes with our girl that have previously rocked the holiday vibe. And not in a good way.  Yeah that.

BUT you can't live in a bubble forever can you.  Well you probably can but where's the fun in that.  Not if you don't have to anyway.  Because that would be.. well.. STUPID.  


We have stuff to see, cool things to do, people to meet and best of all delicious gluten free food to eat and all of this OUTSIDE of our suburb.  It's out there.  Our mission: GO. SEEK. FIND.

I had my big girl pants on.  We were breaking out of this gluten free comfort zone.
Naturally I did a lot of research.  I mean A LOT.  

We were going on a real life HOLIDAY.
WE WERE MELBOURNE BOUND! 

Qantas kicked things off nicely.  Upon checking-in ~ "2 Gluten Free meals Mrs Hart?" Yes indeed.  
Too easy.  Aside from the in-flight entertainment (loosely translates to HEAVEN when travelling with kids), everyone with their OWN channels and OWN headphones and OWN choices and.. subsequently no arguments.  I settled in with the latest copy of Australian Gluten-Free Life.  I was set.  "Come Fly With Me.. Come Fly.. Come Fly Awaaaaaaaaayyyy.."

Qantas did good. We had gluten free bread, we had Mediterranean Lamb & vegetables, we had Rowie's Cakes and Good Lord we even had Salted Caramel Ice-cream thank-you very much.
I was loving this.   You might even say the corners of my mouth were even curled in an upward fashion.

Our first night saw us experience the delights of Mrs Parma's on Little Bourke Street.  
Mrs Parma's have full disclosure on their menu and website about possible traces but I had done my research, was informed and prepared.  Upon divulging our Coeliac status,  the staff member politely explained whilst they could not claim to be a 100% gluten free kitchen because of the fact that they use wheat products in the same kitchen, they would take great care when preparing my gluten free meal.  I can happily report no adverse effects.  What a great start.

Cafe Andiamo Strawberry Crepes
The next morning saw us walking the streets of the bustling CBD, discovering magic and hidden laneways at every turn.  And then we found it.  Degraves Street and the Holy Gail that is Cafe Andiamo.  Degraves Street like many Melbourne laneways has an uncanny resemblance to Diagon Alley.  Harry Potter fan or otherwise, you will love it.  The cafes and the hustle and bustle is fabulous.  The aroma of delicious coffee is all consuming.  So what led us here?  Strawberry Crepes my friends. Strawberry Crepes.  All gluten free and all as perfect as your imagination is allowing you right about now.  We frequented this establishment almost every day of our sojourn.  The kids ~ Coeliac and non-Coeliac alike, were lapping this culinary excellence right up and so was I.  The silence of breakfast satisfaction to the nth degree was truly golden.  I relished these morning moments while I slurped my superb coffee. And oh it WAS superb.  These Melbourne baristas have nailed the coffee thang. 

The rest of our stay consisted of ambling through the Queen Victoria Markets, people watching in Federation Square with a cheeky wine to accompany a late lunch at Transport Bar Federation Square, a tram ride to St Kilda for a look-see, some serious retail therapy in the CBD ~ a personal favourite The Emporium (the place is seriously A-M-A-Z-I-N-G), a trip to The Melbourne Zoo and frequent visits to Southbank of an evening to discover all the gluten free delights on offer - and there were many.  We experienced amazing buskers, artwork and friendly faces and help wherever we went.  The weather was also pretty fabulous.  I know right??

Gluten free is abundant in Melbourne. Not only that but there is a great understanding of gluten free, safe food prep/cross contamination issues in general.  These folk are really switched on where gluten free is concerned.  Hallelujah!


SpudBAR Fan

SpudBAR was a fav with my daughter.  With a 100% gluten free menu how could you go wrong?  Seriously yum.  We also enjoyed the likes of THRIVE in The Emporium and old favourites like Grill'd (various Melb locations).  Evenings saw us savour the delights of Bluetrain (Southgate Complex, Southbank) with various gluten free options and a very good understanding of GF prep and cross contamination issues, World Restaurant and Bar with various GF options and a separate fryer for chips :)  We also enjoyed a delicious GF risotto and wonderful service at the fabulous Tutto Bene - Southgate Complex (mid level), Southbank.  Fantastico.



Hopetoun Tea Rooms 
If you're in Melbourne, have a sweet tooth, are looking for a bit of extravagance and have the time ~ be sure to check out the delectable Hopetoun Tea Rooms (Block Arcade - CBD).  This place is the Aladdin's cave of cakes.  I'm not kidding. Decadent and delightful and lots of gluten free options.  Perfect for afternoon teas with mothers and daughters,  grandmothers and granddaughters or just with that someone special. 



Please understand this is a personal record and reflection of our wonderful experiences dining out in what is a fabulous destination for the gluten free traveller.  Please be vigilant about reading labels and assessing risks and make your own judgement about where you choose to eat - taking into account any possible cross contamination issues.  Menus change, Management changes.  Things always change. That's life.  Do your research, ask questions & make informed choices.  Be on top of your game.  Look after your health.  If in doubt, leave it out.  This is a priority as a person living with Coeliac Disease and will make for an extremely pleasant holiday.

Special thanks go to some especially lovely people & information sourced from -
The Australian Coeliac (September 2014 Issue), The Coeliac Plate (a fabulous website and reference point), Coeliac Victoria and Tasmania who went above and beyond to provide some invaluable information via email before we left and then delivered an information pack to our hotel,
Gluten Shmooten (an informative gluten free eating-in-Melbourne guide including fish & chips!) and finally Jas from the perfectly gorgeous The Gluten Free Scallywag - a wonderful blog that is worthy of some serious pouring over, who sent me a lovely email with the gluten free heads up for Melbs.

THANK-YOU!

I would also like to make special mention of the very sweet shopkeeper at a certain IGA 24 hour store on Queen street in the CBD who chased me up the street shouting "Miss! Miss!" just so that he could give my 2 littlies a Chupa Chup (GF of course) 'on the house' after frequenting his establishment on a few occasions.  WOW I love your people Melbourne.

I love your funky vibe. 
I love your bustle.
I love your FOOD.
I love your TOWN.

Until we meet again...




Wednesday, 24 September 2014

New - Barilla Gluten Free Pasta


When Barilla approached me recently and asked if I would be interested in sampling their new gluten free pasta, naturally I was delighted.

Barilla, already the world's largest pasta producer, has recently launched a gluten free pasta range that I was more than happy to road test.

Tonight I made my family a Chicken, Chorizo and Olive pasta dish using the gluten free Penne and incorporating the Barilla Basilico pasta sauce.
Out of interest, did you know that the entire Barilla pasta sauce range is gluten free?  Fantastico.
 

Let me start by saying that there are only 2 Coeliacs in my house, myself being one of them. The other - my 7 year old daughter hasn't quite developed the discerning palate as that of her older brother and dad - the two biggest and heartiest eaters in the house.  So whilst there are endless variations of delicious pasta dishes, this particular dish was aimed at the big boys. 


Tough crowd. I had my work cut out for me. Let's do this.

Ingredients

340g Barilla Gluten Free Penne
1 Tbs Extra Virgin Olive Oil
1 garlic glove finely chopped
1 long red chilli de-seeded and finely chopped
1 red onion finely sliced
2 medium chicken breast finely sliced
1  GF Chorizo sausage finely sliced
400g jar of Barilla Basilico sauce (Tomato Sauce with Basil) 
A generous handful of gluten free Kalamata olives
Finely chopped Continental Parsley to serve
Plenty of good quality shaved Parmesan to serve


Method

To 3 litres of boiling salted water I added the Penne and cooked for 10 minutes as recommended on the pack. 

Whilst the pasta is cooking, in a heavy based fry pan over a medium heat, add olive oil, garlic and an equal amount of de-seeded & finely chopped chilli. Sauté for about a minute before adding onions.  Once onion becomes limp and slightly translucent, remove from pan.   

Add thinly sliced chicken breast & sliced chorizo and sauté until chicken is just cooked through and desired colour is achieved. Turn heat down to low, return onions to the pan and add Basiico sauce. Drain pasta straight from the pot (I use a small sieve) - don't rinse and add immediately to sauce.  Make sure pasta is coated well.

Add a generous amount of Kalamata olives. Dish up a generous serving, dress with Continental Parsley and Parmesan and enjoy.




Barilla pasta is made in Italy in a dedicated gluten free factory and is a unique formulation of naturally gluten free flours (corn and rice) rather than refined starches.
The pasta is available in Spaghetti, Penne or Elbows and will be available nationally in Woolworth's stores from October and currently in independent grocers (RRP $3.69).

and the verdict..

Well.. from my point of view as the 'cook' AND the 'coeliac' the pasta cooks and tastes like regular pasta.  There was no strange aftertaste, no gritty or slimy end product and an 
al dente result was easily achievable.

and the big boys.. 

Let's just say there was almost no need to clean plates as they were almost scraped clean.  My husband stated, and I quote.. "That tasted just like normal pasta!"  
I'd say that's a WIN right there.  Nice one Barilla.  

and if you were wondering what the small people in the house ate.. they most certainly did not miss out.  I whipped them up an extra special Broccoli Mac and Cheese Gratin using the Barilla Elbows.  Perfect for little tums and taste buds.  A post for another day.. 








Barilla sent me the above products to sample
All opinions expressed are my own.  I was not paid for this post.

Thursday, 28 August 2014

Weet-Bix Slice




Good Grief.  I'm embarrassed to admit that I have never made Weet-Bix Slice before GLUTEN FREE Weet-Bix came along.  I know right?  Hilarious. 

Well here it is in all it's glory. It really is fabulous and SUPER EASY.
Original recipe from KAI TIME (a NZ TV show with a huge following).  I have adapted here to make gluten free :)

Ingredients
180g butter
1 teaspoon vanilla essence
1 Cup desiccated coconut
3 Gluten Free Weet-Bix, crushed
1 Cup gluten free plain flour
1 teaspoon gluten free baking powder
3/4 Cup sugar
1/4 Cup gluten free cocoa

Topping
200g Gluten Free Chocolate
1/3 Cup cream
Desiccated coconut to sprinkle on top

Method
Preheat oven to 180 C.  Melt butter and add vanilla
Combine dry ingredients together in a food processor, pour in butter and blitz until well combined.
Press mixture into a lined slice pan and bake at 180 C for 15-20 minutes until firm

Allow to cool

Melt chocolate and cream together and pour over cooled base
Refrigerate until set

Use a hot dry knife to cut into squares.

I think the slice is best served at room temperature after the chocolate topping has initially set but totally your call.  ENJOY!

Rocky Road





Got a hankering for some Rocky Road?
You're in luck! Here's a simple recipe that's bound to please

Ingredients
375g pack Nestle Melts (Dark or Milk Chocolate) 
170-200g Gluten Free Raspberry Lollies
200g Gluten Free Marshmallows
1/2 cup unsalted peanuts (* make sure to check ingredients list for hidden gluten)
1/2 cup desiccated coconut

**OMIT nuts if you prefer a nut-free Rocky Road or to make SCHOOL FRIENDLY 


Method
Chop raspberry lollies in half.  If using regular sized marshmallows, cut into quarters (this can be a sticky process and will test your patience).
If you are fortunate enough to stumble across Gluten Free mini marshmallows - WELL DONE 

Melt chocolate
- in microwave (50% power) for 1 minute. Stir. Continue with 10 second bursts until all the chocolate has melted. Watch your power - don't overheat!
- stove top ~ half-fill saucepan with water and bring to a simmer. Place chocolate melts in a glass bowl that fits snuggly on the top of saucepan making sure the bowl doesn't touch the water! 
Use a metal spoon to stir until chocolate has melted.

Combine coconut, peanuts, lollies and marshmallows in a heatproof bowl. Add melted chocolate and mix well.  Pour into slice tray lined with baking paper and refrigerate until set (allow about 2 hours).

Allow a short spell out of the fridge before cutting with a hot dry knife.

Variations can include glacé cherries, gluten free biscuits, macadamias - your only limit is your imagination.. 


Tuesday, 29 July 2014

Chicken & Leek Pie

Winter warmers.  This one's right up there.  I've been playing with the terrific Simply Wize Gluten Free Puff Pastry sheets A LOT of late.  They make THE BEST sausage rolls - see my Facebook page - and countless other pastry delights.  My next conquest.. Chicken & Leek Pie.  I used to make it years ago when I was part of the gluten crowd *sniff* and I remember vaguely that it had wholegrain mustard in it and it was the bomb. 



I couldn't find my old recipe so I drew inspiration from a recipe I found online from The Australian Women's Weekly (for the filling) which you can find HERE and adapted to make gluten free. So without banging on too much - I share with you this pie of mine.  It is by no means a masterpiece but it tasted bloody fantastic and there was none left after one sitting.. I guess they liked it.

I made my own shortcrust for the pie base and sealed it with a Simply Wize puff pastry top.
The base was a bit crumbly so I will have to work on it but the big boys in my house said it was terrific so I don't know.. you be the judge.  It tasted fab and was buttery so glass half full right?  It's all about how you look at things I guess.  I'm my worst critic but I figure there's ALWAYS room for improvement.  Otherwise everything would just be a tad boring yes?

PASTRY BASE
225g plain gluten free flour (I used White Wings)
1 tsp xanthan gum
110g cold butter cut into cubes (I used unsalted but on reflection I think this base needs SALTED)
1 egg lightly beaten
1 Tbs chilled water

Blitz the dry ingredients together in a food processor.
Add your cold butter a little at a time until a crumb-like consistency is achieved
Add the egg and a little chilled water - you don't have to use the whole tablespoon - just go slowly until the right dough consistency is achieved.
Shape into a ball, flatten into a disc & wrap in Glad (plastic wrap).
Chill for an hour in the fridge.

After an hour, preheat oven to 180° C.  Remove dough from the fridge and roll out between 2 pieces of Glad or baking paper being careful not to roll too thin as it is not as robust as it's gluten filled counterpart. Use the Glad or paper to assist you in lifting the pastry into your pie dish. Trim edges but try to trim slightly above the edge of dish.  You don't have to be too precious. If your pastry tears or is too thin in parts, use the off-cuts to patch your base ~ gently pressing the pastry until you are happy with your shell. Line with baking paper and fill with pie weights, rice or baking beans and bake for 10 minutes.  Reduce temp to 160° C and bake for another 10 minutes.  Remove paper, brush pastry shell with beaten egg and return to the oven for a final 5 minutes. Set aside.


THE FILLING
500mls chicken stock (I use Massel)
600g chicken breast
1 Tablespoon olive oil
40g butter
1 leek sliced (I used a V slicer - Quick! and can slice super thin)
2 Tablespoons gluten free plain flour or you could use GF Cornflour
2 teaspoons mixed or Italian dried herbs
175mls milk
200mls cream (I use Devondale Long Life thickened cream - 200mL packs are perfect and great to keep in the cupboard!)
2 teaspoons wholegrain mustard
1 egg yolk lightly beaten (to brush pastry top) 


Bring stock to boil in a medium saucepan, add chicken breast and return to boil. Reduce heat, simmer covered for 10 minutes. Remove from heat and let stand in stock for a further 10 minutes.
Remove chicken and roughly chop.  Keep 1/3 cup of stock that chicken has cooked in.

Heat oil and butter in a large heavy based frying pan, add leek and cook until it softens.  Add GF flour and dried herbs and stir over heat for 1 minute. Add the reserved 1/3 cup of stock, milk and cream. Continue stirring until mix thickens. Add chicken and wholegrain mustard.  Remove from heat and allow to cool.







Once cooled, add chicken mixture to your prepared pastry shell and top with Simply Wize GF puff pastry sheets.  I used 2 sheets ~ overlapping and cutting sections to patch around the pie dish as necessary.  Brush liberally with beaten egg.  Cut a couple of slits in the top of the pie and bake at 200° C for approx 20 minutes or until lovely & golden brown . 


Monday, 30 June 2014

A Little Liebster Love


On the weekend I had a lovely surprise. The endearing CJ from 30 Days of Smiles tweeted out to the universe that my little blog had been placed on a list of AMAZING bloggers.  Yes you read correctly. Her words not mine.  Her list not mine.  Naturally I am totally willing to go along with it.  Apparently my blog is worthy of a read.  It appears the stuff I write and cook and share is not just for my own amusement after all. People actually read this stuff. Who knew?

So here's a big thank-you to CJ   Thank-you CJ Smiley  

The Liebster Award is a great way of recognising bloggers with a growing audience and this is what it requires me to do:

  • Link back and recognize the blogger who nominated them
  • Answer ten questions given to me by the nominator
  • Nominate ten other bloggers for the award
  • Create ten questions for nominees to answer
  • Notify my nominees
  • Get an award button and display it proudly



I was asked the following questions by CJ and so here's your chance to find out a little bit more about me. Ooooooh ahhhhhhhhhh bet you can't wait to read..

  • If you could get on a plane today and go anywhere in the world where would you go and why?
The Bermuda Triangle.  Ideally it would be a return trip.
  • Cookies or Cake?
Please. For me this a torturous question.  I liken it to being asked to choose between my children. Ugh.
  • Favourite childhood memory
Seriously loved my childhood.  Kissing a boy I had a huge crush on when I was 13.. is right up there.
  • If you could change your name what would you change it to?
Princess Consuela Bananahammock. Wait..What!!  It's been taken.. Dammit!

  • Do you have a life motto? If so what is it?

Not really but I am fond of the following..
C'est la vie
  • What skill would you like to learn?
I've always imagined myself playing the guitar.  Me and everyone else right?  I sadly lack the discipline to conquer such a beast.  And so..I do not foresee this musical mastery manifesting itself anytime soon.  Australian Idol will have to wait.
  • IPhone or Android?
IPhone. ICook. IEat. IBlog.
  • Who would you love to meet? Alive or dead?
Bruce Springsteen (I know..so predictable) preferably alive 
  • Deserted Island you can take 2 people and 4 objects what would you take?
Jim Carrey (for there must always be humour - even on a deserted island).
Morgan Freeman (for there must always be someone you won't get tired of listening to - especially on a deserted island).
Coffee Machine.
A Power Point.
IPhone.
Telecommunications Tower.  
  • You've just won $500,000 dollars what do you buy first?
An around the world ticket travelling first class including guaranteed 100% gluten free deliciousness at every stop.



Ten Talented Bloggers

Here are ten awesome bloggers I'm nominating for a Liebster Award:

Carla from My Yellow Heart
Renee from Mummy, Wife, Me
Tash from Little Bit of Thyme
Melissa from Honey Bee Books
Emily from You learn something new every day
Jodie from Fresh Home Cook
Emma from Five Degrees of Chaos
Alicia from One Mother Hen
Kylie from Kylie Purtell - A Study in Contradictions
"Robo" from RoboMum


and so.. in turn, here are my 10 questions for the listed bloggers (but only if you wish to play along.. go on)


  • Coffee with Oprah Winfrey or Ellen DeGeneres?
  • Most embarrassing moment?
  • Your epitaph..
  • White or Red or are you a spirits kinda gal? (and I'm not talking ghosts)
  • Share something that always makes you laugh?
  • Chocolate or lollies and name your fav?
  • Opportunity to sit next to anyone in the world (famous or otherwise) on a plane and why him/her/it?
  • Best movie eva! Go!
  • Forced to do Karaoke - song choice?
  • Last meal. Go!

Thanks for playing xx


Thursday, 19 June 2014

Pumpkin Scones


We had roast the other night and had some leftover roast pumpkin pieces.  Too good to throw away I thought but not enough to make anything substantial. Then I had a brainwave.. Pumpkin Scones.

So here's a bit of experimentation that paid off.  Rustic and delicious.


Can't get your kids to eat pumpkin? I guarantee they'll eat these :)

55 g butter
1/2 cup honey
1/2 - 3/4 cup mashed pumpkin
2 eggs
1/2 cup coconut milk
1/2 teaspoon xanthan gum
3 cups GF self-raising flour

Pre-heat oven to 200° C
Line a cookie tray with baking paper
Beat softened butter until creamy then add honey, pumpkin and eggs and continue mixing on a low speed.
Add coconut milk and xanthan gum then gradually add the flour.  The mixture will become less sticky, start to form a dough and come away from the side of the bowl.
Transfer dough from the mixing bowl to a floured surface and using a flattened hand, form a disk to a thickness of  about 2 - 2.5cm. I used a cutter with a diameter of  approximately 6cm but a slender glass will work just as well. Flour the cutter or glass to prevent sticking and assist with ease of transfer to baking sheet

Bake for 12 minutes