Cooking for those with food sensitivities

Last week a group of friends came to visit with a view to developing some recipes for Julie, one of the group, who has significant restrictions as to what she can eat and has been battling food sensitivity based health issues for some years now. She makes light of the difficulties this presents, and jokes that all she can manage to cook and eat is a very basic stir-fry, but the challenges can become overwhelming.

We had decided that they would bring along all the ingredients that Julie is allowed to eat and develop recipes from there, starting from scratch. I was a little daunted at first, hardly knowing where to begin, but as the day went on it became a great deal of fun and very rewarding as recipes were trialed and came together, only occasionally needing a minute tweaking here and there.

By the end of the day we had about 17 pages of recipes and everyone had boxes piled high with food to take away. We thought that some people might find the recipes helpful if they have similar dietary restrictions to Julie. The ingredients list, even the method employed to cook them, should be checked carefully to see that they are entirely suitable to individual diet plans.

They can be viewed in this PDF. (Right click on the link and choose ‘save target as’ or ‘save link as’ to save the PDF to your computer)

Gluten free Anzac Biscuits

This morning finally, finally, I have managed to successfully make gluten free Anzacs. Instead of oats I used 2 gluten free Weet BIx (flaked) and increased the flour (gluten free of course) to one and a quarter cups. I have put some out on the stall at the gate if anyone would like them – they are wafer thin and crisp and crunchy. There are also packets of chocolate crunch, though this is not gluten free today.

Breads will be available Sunday only this week – rye and spelt.

Duck Duck Goose Day

Last Saturday was a very busy time in the cooking school here.

For some weeks this day had been planned. Friends had ducks they had frozen to bring along, all that was needed was recipes. I’ve not cooked with duck very much I am the first to admit, so son Andrew was at the helm, and Stephanie led the ravioli and ice cream making team. There were 15 people here in total, all focussed on getting the best from the ingredients at hand.

The day of duck cooking begins ….

Out of the apparent madness and mayhem came some stunning dishes, both of the duck and vegetable kind. Duck sausages, confit duck legs, roasted, ravioli and more.

Even duck prosciutto is under way as well and will be cured and ready in a few weeks’ time.

There were massive side dishes of cauliflower cheese, gratin style, swede casserole with bacon and herbs, parsnip puree (with herbs and wine), stuffed tomatoes, even Brussels Sprouts cooked with home cured bacon, very acceptable.

There were breads made with Redlands hop yeast and foccaccia based on a malted barley dough, and dips to go with them. And sweet nibbles of course.

But why Duck Duck Goose Day you might ask? Well, we had duck and goose eggs galore, so Stephanie made duck and goose egg yolk ravioli, as well as goose egg (custard) ice cream. It was also an opportunity for everyone to sample Robert’s new gluten free beer.  All in all it was certainly a great day with fantastic friends.

New family member

Meet the new addition to our family – this is Snowy. She is the gentlest, sweetest dog I have ever known. Thanks to Emma from Brightside Sanctuary for matching her to us. Snowy is so good that she doesn’t chase the free roaming ducks, chooks, sheep and lambs here. She only ever complains if she can’t see us, and even then only a tragic little whimper. Her favourite place is to sit at our feet, though she’s also fond of her new bed in front of the fire.

The cats are none too impressed in the manner of cats, but it’s not because she chases them. They are just accustomed to pride of place, but old beagle Della is very happy with her new friend and takes her exploring all over the property.

Stall today

Rye loaves, spelt and foccaccia with fresh herbs on the stall at our gate today.  Plus I’m about to make some little apple tarts.  All will be available by 11am.

Desperate times

Desperate times call for desperate measures.  The wildlife here don’t understand the rules of don’t eat the vegetables, so Robert is constructing a very large enclosure to protect the veggie patch near the house.  Think this should do the trick.   I guess you can’t blame the animals really – we are the impostors after all.


Items on the stall at our gate today

Been baking this morning – there are now blood plum and lemon curd tartuffins out on the stall and within the hour there will be loaves of spelt bread (I’m about to put those in the oven). I did an overnight ferment of the hop yeast bread too and could make some more bread from that. Is anyone interested if I put some loaves out later in the day?

I will speed up the rising by putting the bowl of dough in the car (great place to rise bread so long as it doesn’t get too hot). The bread would still be fresh tomorrow morning anyway, as the loaves I baked yesterday are still really soft and moist.

Recipe for hop yeast bread

And so here is the recipe.  Mavis has allowed me to share it with anyone who would like it. I’ve typed it up exactly as it reads from the hand-written sheet she gave me.  The recipe is generations old and one of the best recipes I’ve ever come across.

When I cut the loaf tonight,even the texture was amazing.  They certainly knew how to do things in the good old days.

Bread Recipe with Hop Yeast (courtesy of Mavis)

Hop Yeast starter

1 organic potato – unpeeled (scrubbed), 1 tablespoon hops and water to cover well. Boil until cooked.  Cool.

Mix 1 tablespoon flour and 1 tablespoon sugar to a smooth paste using a little of the cooled liquid.  Tip this mixture into a saucepan containing the cooled hop/potato mixture.  Mash everything and pour into the bottle in which you have put 4 organic sultanas.  Set in a warm place to work.

I use a 1.25 litre plastic lemonade or tonic water screw top bottle.  It takes the pressure better than a glass bottle.

Hop and potato yeast – to feed plant

 Boil a medium potato in about 3 cups water until tender.  Place a small handful of hops in a mixing bowl.  Pour over the boiling potato water.  Allow to cool.  Hops should have sunk to the bottom.

When cool, add liquid only to 1 tablespoon flour and 1 tablespoon sugar.  Mix together and top up the starter.  Fill the bottle to no more than ¾.  Screw the lid down firmly.

Mixture is ready to bake when you undo the bottle and the ‘starter’ rushes out.

To make Hop-Potato Yeast Bread (basic recipe)

 Put 1 cup flour in a mixing bowl.  Pour in about 1 – 1 ½ cups of bubbling starter.  Mix, then leave overnight in a warm place (I sit mine in a cupboard on top of the hot water cylinder).

Next morning – add about 1 pint water (warm) alternately with extra 4 to 5 cups flour to make a soft dough.

If not using bread-mix flour, add a small handful of salt.  Mix to a soft-firm dough, leave to rise.

Knock back and put in bread tins. When risen, cook 30 to 40 minutes (20 minutes on High 200 degrees C,  and 10 to 20 minutes on 180 degrees C.

Oil can be added, any kind of flour can be used.

The finished hop yeast bread

So here we are. Why am I so pleased to have this recipe and the fact that it worked so well you might ask? (It’s just bread after all).   It’s because olden-times recipes for yeast say to add some old yeast mixture (i.e. ready-made from a former batch) to get it moving. How can you do this when there is no original hop yeast recipe available? Now the dilemma is resolved.

I’ve learned a few things along the way, like DON’T drill a hole in the lid. We did this thinking to save the bottle from exploding, but as a consequence this morning the plant looked totally dead – obviously it likes to work in a confined space. I did a hasty re-feeding and within a couple of hours it was bubbling away again, thank goodness. Actually, when I unscrewed the lid a few minutes ago it went a little ballistic and tried to escape from the bottle. I think I might have to divide it in two.

So the overnight ferment went well, and the subsequent dough rose splendidly and baked even better. I am looking forward to tasting it this evening. The photos show all the action, including the finished loaves, one for us, and one for Mavis who so generously shared her recipe.

Overnight ferment

The risen dough

The baked loaves

Slow cookers and things

Last weekend on a search to find an organic potato with which to start the yeast, we called in Bushy Park Market. No success with the potato, but on the shelf was a 6.5. litre slow cooker for a mere $12. It looked in good order, so bought it (later check showed it was fine electrically).
I’ve often been asked if my slow cooker recipes can be converted for a larger cooker, so here was my opportunity to check it out. The last of our pumpkins has been sacrificed to trial this. I’ve used the herbed pumpkin and bacon soup for Slow Cooker 2, and doubled it, using 1.6kg pumpkin. Should be fine, though I think it might take longer to cook, given the extra volume of ingredients.
If you do double recipes for a larger slow cooker in this way, just be sure not to overfill it. It should only be filled to a maximum of 3cm from the top. No more than three quarters full would be even better.

Thoroughly in the mood for slow cooking now, I’ve pulled out an old crock pot, as slow cookers used to be called. Actually, I think they do cook a little slower than the modern version but generally not enough to matter. I’d been given some delicious stewing chops by a friend and so now an old-fashioned Irish Stew is also on the menu for dinner tonight.

Meanwhile the yeast plant is going a little crazy and had to be transferred from its 1.25 litre container to a much larger Fowlers jar until I could get a 2 litre soft drink bottle. A ginger beer plant has nothing on this beauty.
Since I took this photo I’ve transferred it to a 2 litre Coca Cola bottle and it’s so vigorous that I thought even that would blow up. Had to go to a meeting this evening and took it with me to  unscrew the top now and then to let excess pressure escape.  Each time I did this it let out a rather alarming alcohol scent into the room.
I’ve just used some for an overnight ferment as the recipe instructs, but it is rising so rapidly that I’m not quite sure if it will overflow from the bowl before morning.  As for what’s left in the Coke bottle – well, that’s still a worry, so I got Robert to drill a hole in the lid to let any excess pressure escape.
All things considered it will be interesting to see how the bread turns out tomorrow.