Xanthan-Free Zone

Real food, incidentally gluten-free.

Adult Chocolate Cake

The flourless chocolate cake is second only to the orange and almond cake as a GF baking standard. Here’s my version, not too sweet, but with powerful chocolate flavour.

1/3 cocoa
1/3 cup water
150g unsalted butter
150g good dark chocolate
1 cup brown sugar
1 1/4 cups hazelnut meal
4 eggs, separated

Preheat oven to 150C.

Combine cocoa, water, butter and chocolate in small saucepan and heat gently until everything’s melted and combined smoothly. Remove from heat, stir in sugar, hazelnut meal and and yolks. Pour into a bowl and leave to cool. Beat egg whites until fluffy then fold into chocolate mixture in two or more batches.

Bake in oven in lined springform tin for about an hour. It might still be a bit moist in the middle but should appear cooked and have a cracked surface. Leave to cool before removing from pan.

Can be served with some kind of dairy product and/or strawberries. Enjoy.


Pineapple Peanut & Kale Stew

This is my favourite kind of recipe, one that sounds so weird it must be gross, but is actually delicious. When my brother saw the giant purple kale I bought at the markets, he insisted I cook this recipe, which gave me an excuse to borrow his Moosewood Restaurant Cooks at Home book, from which this recipe is derived, and which is awesome. This recipe uses tinned pineapple but, no offense to Golden Circle, I think it’s sad to use tinned pineapple in Queensland. (The book also contains a recipe for how to cut up a mango. So sad!).

1 onion, chopped (I prefer red)
2 garlic cloves, chopped up
1 bunch of kale
2 cups diced fresh pineapple
1/2 cup peanut butter
couple of chilis or tbsp tabasco sauce
1/2 cup chopped fresh coriander
salt to taste

Crushed peanuts and spring onions as a garnish.

Saute onion, garlic and chilis (if using) in oil until lightly browned. Remove stems from kale and cut up finely or shred. Add pineapple to onions, then add kale and cook until tender. If it seems to dry out, just add some water (but you know that already, don’t you). Kale can be pretty tough and need a good blasting, so it’s good to taste it and check. Add peanut butter and tabasco (if using), and coriander. Salt to taste. Serve with rice and garnishes and enjoy!

Orange/Mandarin Baked Tofu

This recipe is adapted from an excellent one in Veganomicon by Isa Chandra Moskowitz and Terry Hope Romero, which is one of my favourite new cookbooks. They suggest theirs is “Caribbean-themed” but I’ve tweaked my version to be just vaguely Chinese-themed. This recipe solved my problem of having to use large amounts of tofu before it goes off; the marinated tofu keeps better in the fridge than unmarinated, and leftovers keep better than raw tofu. I buy this absolutely beautiful fresh tofu via Food Connect or sometimes at the Northey St City Farm markets, which is made in Stanthorpe by Suveda and David Hardwick. It’s a firm-style tofu but much softer and creamier in texture than the ones you can buy elsewhere. I usually also make this with the super-delicious orange/mandarin juice available from Food Connect, but you can just juice an orange or use bought juice if that’s what you have.

500g firmish tofu
1/3 cup orange or mandarin juice
tsp or so orange or mandarin zest
2-3 tbsp lemon or lime juice
2 tbsp tamari or other wheat-free soy sauce
1 tbsp honey
1 tbsp vegetable oil
1 tbsp shao xing wine
2 star anise, broken up
few slices of fresh ginger

Slice tofu into 1cm slices, and combine with all other ingredients in a plastic container. You can cook it immediately, but marinating overnight makes it much, much better. When you’re ready to cook, just empty the container into a flattish baking dish (I use a china quiche dish) and bake at 180C for 45 minutes to an hour, or until most of the marinade has evaporated and the tofu is browned on the exposed corners. Serve with rice and something green.

On reflection, this could probably be baked with slices of orange, and could probably also be cooked on the stove. Enjoy!

Dirk Flinthart’s Leatherwood Honey Icecream

During a recent trip to Tasmania, I caught up with my old friend Dirk Flinthart, writer and feeder-of-people extraordinaire. Among the many delights which I was required to consume was this delicious honey icecream.
When I later made this for my family for Xmas I did not have leatherwood honey but it was still great with the organic rainforest honey my parents had. Some of the New Zealand honeys might also be fantastic, but I wouldn’t hesitate to just use whatever is local.
Because it was Xmas, we at this mostly with mangoes, but my brother commented that it had a Middle Eastern vibe and could be great with figs or pistachios.
As a last note, I would mention that this recipe is very rich, and I would be interested to try a slightly lighter version substituting milk for some of the cream. But I’ll leave those experiments up to you.
You will need an icecream machine, or some special skills which I don’t have, for this recipe, and you will need a bit of chilling time, so start in the morning or the night before.

250ml marscapone cream cheese
250ml cream
2-3 tbsp leatherwood honey (or your favourite/local honey)
2 eggs
1 dessert spoon maize cornflour
1 tsp vanilla essence or contents of a vanilla pod

Whisk all ingredients together. Warm in a small saucepan, stirring carefully, until it just starts to thicken. Take off the stove and allow to cool. (You can sit the saucepan in a sink of cold water if you need to hurry this part). At this point you can taste it and see if you’ve added enough honey, and also to increase the anticipation. Then refrigerate until cold, then churn in your icecream machine. This was the first time I’ve used one of these, and i just eyeballed it until it looked pretty thick, which was about 30 minutes. Then transfer to a container and keep in the freezer until 10 minutes before serving.

Easy Eggplant Curry

I made this curry tonight for some friends who came over and the recipe was requested. It’s another one adapted from 660 Curries by Raghavan Iyer. Reading over the recipe after dinner I’ve realised I never really read the recipe all the way through in the first place, so mine was a lot more different than I had intended. Mine was good, though.

2 tbsp vegetable oil
1 tbsp urad dhal (optional)
1 tbsp whole coriander seeds
1 dried chilli, seeds removed and shredded (or more chillis as you like)
1 large eggplant, diced in 2cm cubes
salt to taste
12 curry leaves (actually I forgot to put these in, so I guess they are optional)
1tsp tamarind pulp or juice of half a lemon (also forgot to put this is – I’m not daft, I was just distracted by the three other things I was making at the same time).

Heat the oil in a large frying pan. Fry chilli, lentils and coriander seeds until fragrant and browned, 2-3 minutes (be careful not to burn them). Add eggplant and curry leaves, and fry until all the oil is absorbed. Then add about a quarter cup of water and cover for a bit. Cook until the eggplant is soft and mushy. You’ll need to stir it around a bit, and may need to add water again if it looks like it’s catching. If using tamarind, dissolve it in the water before adding. If using lemon juice, just add it at the end.
Add salt to taste and serve. Enjoy!

Potato, Kale and Sesame Salad

Kale is a delicious vegetable which you don’t really see much in supermarkets for some reason. I get mine from Food Connect or the Northey St City Farm markets, but it’s also pretty easy to grow and quite hardy. This salad was one of those random things I just threw together and it happened to be really nice – good mayonnaise always helps.

Makes two large serves – if taking to a  picnic or barbecue I’d double it.

500g smallish potatoes, of a waxy type
5 leaves of kale
1 dessert spoon macadamia oil
1 dsp mayonnaise
1 dsp plain yoghurt
1 tsp tahini
1 tsp lemon juice
½ tsp salt
1 dsp sesame seeds, white or black

Wash the potatoes and boil them whole in salted water until they’re easily impaled with a fork, 20-40 mins depending on size. Meanwhile, shred the kale roughly and steam until it changes colour to a dark green and is tender. Toast sesame seeds in a dry pan until just golden – be careful not to burn.  If you use black ones you’ll just have to use your nose to tell when they’re ready, or throw in some white ones to act as markers.

Combine all other ingredients. I usually have a bit of a problem getting my tahini to dissolve into a salad dressing, probably because it’s been in the cupboard a while and has separated out. If your tahini looks a bit sticky, you can do as I did and leave it out here and toss it directly through the chopped warm potatoes – the heat seems to soften it up.

When potatoes are cooked, drain them and when they’re cool enough, dice into potato-salad-sized pieces. You can peel them if you want to but I generally wouldn’t because the potato skin adds flavour and is apparently nutritious. Combine with kale and dressing, and most of the sesame seeds, leaving a few for artistic sprinkling on top.

I can think of endless variations for this salad – macadamia butter instead of tahini, toasted macadamia pieces, sesame oil and a tiny bit of tamari, fried cubes of soft tofu, toasted almonds, almond butter, lemon zest, a little bit of shredded preserved lemon, &c. Enjoy!

Indian Carrot Pudding

Sounds bizarre but actually really delicious. This was always a special occasion dish in my family. It’s extremely simply, it just takes about 3 hours – most of which time you can completely leave it alone.

This recipe is from one of my favourite cookbooks, The Complete Asian Cookbook by Charmaine Solomon. I have to admit that in my family we always call this dish carrot halva, but in the book it is gajjar (carrot) kheer and the halva is something else. Just as I was typing this up I remembered I still have some in the fridge. Yum!

250g carrot, grated or finely chopped
1 litre full-cream milk
1/2 cup raw or caster sugar
2 tbsp almond meal (optional)
9 cardamon pods

Bring the milk to the boil and add the carrot. Simmer on a low heat, uncovered or partially covered, for around three hours. At some point along the line, maybe after a couple of hours, add the other ingredients. When the pudding is done, both the carrot and the milk should have undergone a transformation. The carrot doesn’t taste like carrot, and is kind of caramelised, but without being browned at all. The milk has boiled off and has become almost granular. As it’s getting towards the end, you’ll need to stir it more frequently to keep it from catching on the bottom.

You can blend it before eating, to give a puree texture, and if you’ve only chopped the carrots you might want to do this, but if I’ve grated them I tend not to. It’s nice warm, but I’d also eat it chilled for a more icecreamy feel. You could dress it up with a few pistachios or blanched almonds in each serve, but I personally have never felt the need for this. I just serve it up in small quantities and eat with a teaspoon, to savour every bit.