I love Autumn. Gorgeous sunny days, that aren’t too hot. Crunchy leaves under your feet. Best of all, I can start making yummy wintery food.
Today it’s meatballs, one of my son’s favourites. These meatballs work in a variety of dishes. My son loves them cooked in passata with spaghetti, or packed cold in his school lunches. Today I’m making a basic tomato and bean soup to have with them.
gluten, dairy, nut, egg and soy free
500g lean beef mince
1 medium carrot
2 celery sticks
1/2 teaspoon of salt
2/3 cup of quinoa flakes
4 tablespoons of olive oil
1 teaspoon of lemon zest.
1/2 teaspoon of dried cumin
1/2 teaspoon of dried turmeric
2 tins of tomatoes
1 tin of cannellini beans
1 tin of borlotti beans
2 cups of chicken stock (if I don’t have any home made, I use Massell, as it is gluten and dairy free)
1 teaspoon of sugar
3 bay leaves
1 garlic clove
Fresh basil leaves
Finely dice the onion, and then gently fry in a tablespoon of olive oil, until soft.
Grate the carrots and zucchini and sprinkle liberally with salt. Leave to sit for 10 minutes. Squeeze out all of the water from them and place in a large bowl.
Combine vegetables, mince, spices, and quinoa in the bowl, and mix with your hands until well combined. Roll into balls about 1 tablespoon in size.
Fry on medium heat in remaining olive oil until cooked through (about 10 minutes). Be gentle when turning. They will hold together, but are not quite as robust as meatballs bound with eggs and breadcrumbs.
Cheaty Tomato and Bean soup
This soup is cheaty, because I’m using tins. You can be diligent and soak and boil your own beans, but I am not always that organised!
Smash up tinned tomatoes with a fork. Add tomatoes and stock to a large pot, with garlic clove, sugar and bay leaves. Simmer for 10 minutes, then remove bay leaves and garlic. Drain and rinse beans, add to pot and simmer for a couple more minutes until heated through.
Add a few meat balls to the top, and serve with some fresh chopped basil. It is nice with parmesan cheese if you can eat dairy, but it’s just as yummy without.
It’s Anzac Day tomorrow. This morning the children and I talked about Anzac Day, what it means, and their great grandfathers who fought in WWII. We made some ANZAC biscuits to commemorate the day. We can’t be strictly traditional, because of the gluten and dairy. These come pretty close though! They are so yummy, I’m now wondering why I always wait for ANZAC Day to make them!
1 and 3/4 cups of Gluten Free Plain Flour
1/2 cup of desiccated coconut
3/4 cup of wheat free Oats (or suggested alternatives*)
1 teaspoon of baking powder
1/3 cup of brown sugar
2/3 cup of Nuttelex or coconut oil
2 tablespoons of golden syrup
1 tablespoon of soy milk (or other milk substitute)
*Just a quick note about Oats – I buy Bob Red Mills Wheat Free Oats. There’s a bit of contention about whether oats are safe on a gluten free diet. My specialist and dietician have given me the okay to eat them. If you are unsure about whether they are safe for you, just replace them with the same quantity of rolled quinoa flakes or gluten free cornflakes.
Preheat oven to 180 degrees.
In a large bowl, combine flour, sugar, desiccated coconut baking powder and oats.
Melt the nuttelex in a smaller bowl, and stir in the golden syrup while it is still warm. Stir through the milk.
Make a well in the centre of the dry ingredients. Pour in the wet ingredients.
Stir with a large spoon until combined. Roll into balls of roughly a tablespoon in size. Squash until they are about a centimetre thick.
Bake for 10 minutes. Biscuits will be crunchier as they cool down.
I’ve been a busy bee lately. Multiple crafty projects, a watercolour painting of my daughter (as a mermaid, because she lurves them), an embroidery of my son, an oil painting for my neighbour, designing a new kitchen (I’m so EXCITED)…
Do you ever feel like your head is swirling with ideas, and you can’t get them out fast enough?
Creativity is a funny thing. I often find it comes in giant bursts. The ideas come rushing out, I start on multiple projects, and struggle to finsh things, because I’m so eager to start the next project. My family can always tell when I’m in a creative burst, because of the mess. I run out of space in my studio, and things start to make their way out to the lounge room, then the dining table… Sorry family!
To help tackle my lack of focus (or being focused on too many things), I’ve been writing lots of to do lists. They aren’t particularly ordered. More like automatic writing, because there’s just so many ideas I want to get down, before I burst. There is something so satisfying about to do lists. Writing one out, no matter how jumbled, always makes me feel like I’m starting to achieve stuff. Invariably, because I’ve got it all out on paper, things start to happen. I start to work my way through the list, ticking things off. And then cleaning ip the mess, as each project gets resolved…
It’s amazing what you can achieve if you have a list to work with!
Naturally, all this productive stuff requires sustenance…
These cookies are quick and easy to make. I often take them to birthday parties, so my children can eat something sweet when the cake comes out. They are also great for the school lunchbox.
Easy Peasy Chocolate Chip Cookies
2 1/2 cups of gluten free plain flour
2 teaspoons of baking powder
2 teaspoons of vanilla essence
1 cup of caster sugar
Half a cup of the Chocolate of your choice. We use Sweet Williams, or Plamil dark chocolate.
Preheat oven to 180 degrees
Beat Nuttelex, vanilla essence and sugar together until light and fluffy. Using a spatula, stir through flour and baking powder, and then knead gently into a soft dough. If it feels a bit sticky, add another tablespoon of flour. You should be able to roll the dough in your hands without it sticking all over you. Mix through desired chocolate. I use about half a cup, chopped up.
Roll into balls, then squash a bit flat. Makes about 20 cookies.
Bake for about 10-12 minutes, until they just start to turn golden. If you like them crunchy, leave them for a couple more minutes.
They will last in an airtight container for about a week.
I love cake. Lately, I’ve been experimenting with cake recipes, and have been eating a lot of it! So in the name of balance, it’s time for something a bit healthier.
This vegetable soup is a staple at my place. Wholesome, nourishing, and a good way to reset if you’ve been overindulging (did I mention cake?).
Gluten, dairy, soy, egg and nut free.
3 stalks of celery
1/2 cup of uncooked quinoa, rinsed thoroughly
1 big bunch of cavolo nero or kale, stalks removed, then roughly chopped
1 tin of borlotti beans (you can use pre soaked dried ones if you like, but I can’t be bothered most of the time)
3 zucchini finely diced
1 chunk of fresh turmeric
1 clove of garlic
2 tomatoes, roughly chopped
3 tablespoons of olive oil
2 teaspoons of vegetable stock powder or you can use a sprinkle of sea salt if you prefer
2 litres of water
Some chopped pancetta or bacon if you can’t stand the thought of being meat free for dinner (dear husband, I’m looking at you!)
Dried Chilli flakes
Squeeze of lemon
Finely dice carrots, celery and leek. Place in a large pot, with olive oil. Simmer on low heat, until they start to caramelise.
Add quinoa, turmeric, garlic, zucchini, tomatoes, water and stock powder/salt. If you have other veggies in the fridge that need to be used, you can throw them in too. Simmer on low heat, covered for about 20 minutes. Add the cavolo nero or kale, and simmer, lid on, for another 5 minutes.
If adding pancetta or bacon, finely slice, and then pan fry until crispy. Sprinkle on top of your bowl. I serve mine with a little dried chilli, and a squeeze of lemon.
Now that you’ve had a virtuous dinner, go and eat some more cake…
Easter is a tricky time for families with allergies. There is the never ending quest to find allergy friendly Easter eggs. When we find them, we buy them immediately because you never know when you will find them again! It’s easy enough to get nut free chocolate, or dairy free chocolate, but trying to find chocolate that covers both allergies (plus gluten free) can be a bit of a challenge. In the end, we found Alpha hunting eggs for the Easter egg hunt, and a large Kinnerton’s Easter egg for my daughter – all gluten, dairy and nut free.
We woke early, and the children had an Easter egg hunt. We don’t buy a lot of chocolate, as its hard to get so I bought some plastic eggs, and filled them with little treats (tiny bracelets, shopkins, and some little minions figurines). After the hunt, the children sat down to eat some chocolate for breakfast, while I got started on our Easter lunch.
We have a tradition of spending Easter Sunday with our Goddaughter and her parents. This year it was our turn to host and prepare an Easter feast. We decided on a big pot of chicken and coconut milk noodle soup.
I love this soup. It’s one of my favourite things to prepare and eat. There is a lot of chopping involved, but I find it quite relaxing, and enjoy the preparation. There’s something quite meditative about spending all that time chopping! It’s a nice dish to have on the weekend, when you can take some extra time to make it. I also love that people can choose what to add to it, and really make the dish their own.
Chicken and Coconut Noodle Soup
1 piece of Galangal, about 5cm long
1 large chunk of Ginger, bout 5 cm long
2 fresh Turmeric roots
3 cloves of Garlic
2 Lemongrass stalks
4 Kaffir lime leaves
2 medium or one large free range chicken
4 tins of light coconut cream
2 table spoons fish sauce
Salt to taste
2 teaspoons of Cumin powder
2 teaspoons of dried coriander powder
Coriander root and stalks, finely chopped
Coriander leaves, chopped
1/4 of an iceberg lettuce or cabbage, finely shredded
3 carrots, peeled and julienned
2 Cucumbers, peeled and cut into narrow sticks
Green beans or snake beans, cut into 0.5cm pieces
1 cup of finely sliced mushrooms
Deep fried shallots (available at Asian grocer)
Dried chilli flakes
2 limes, cut into wedges
3 tablespoons of olive oil
Two tomatoes, diced (you can subsitute this for two fresh chillies, if you like some extra heat)
Fine Vermicelli Rice noodles
The first stage – Making the Stock
This stock is boiled twice, to create a clearer broth. You can skip this step if you wish, but the soup with be fattier and more gelatinous.
Place whole chicken in a very large pot. Fill with water until completely submerged. Bring to the boil, and simmer on low heat for an hour. Take off the stove, and pour away the water. Refill with fresh water, and return to the stove to simmer.
Take the lemongrass stalks, hit them with a meat mallet a few times to release the flavour. Peel the turmeric, ginger and galangal and cut into small chunks. Peel the garlic cloves. Chop the coriander root and stalks. Add to the pot, and simmer for two hours.
(While the stock is cooking, you can move to the second stage, and start chopping!)
After 2 hours, carefully remove the chicken from the pot, and place in a fine strainer sitting over a large pot (to catch any of the stock pouring off the chicken). Remove the skin, shred the chicken meat with a fork, and place in a separate bowl. Discard bones.
Pour the stock through the strainer, into the second pot. Discard strained items. Once the stock has settled, you can skim any fat off the top if you wish.
The second stage – Preparing the ingredients for the soup
This is the most time consuming part of the preparation. I normally do this while the stock is cooking. You basically want all of the vegetables chopped as finely as possible, so that they lightly cook when the boiling hot soup in poured on top.
Peel and julienne the carrots as finely as you can.
Peel and cut the cucumber into narrow sticks
Cut the ends off the beans, and then cut into small pieces, roughly 0.5cm long.
Finely slice the mushrooms
finely shred the lettuce
finely chop the coriander leaves
Arrange on a tray, ready for people to serve themselves once the soup is ready.
The third stage – prepare noodles
boil a large pot of water for the noodles. Once boiling, turn off the heat, and add noodles. Leave for a few minutes, until noodles are soft, then drain. Rinse with cold water and drain again.
Place noodles in a large bowl. Pour in 1 table spoon of olive oil, and mix through with your fingers. Pull out small handfuls of noodles, and arrange into small piles, ready as a single serve for each soup bowl.
Stage Four – Soup
Finely slice shallots. Add to a large pot, with ground cumin, ground coriander, kafir lime leaves and two tablespoons of oil. Cook on low heat for one minute. Add stock, diced tomatoes and fish sauce, a litre of water and simmer for about 10 minutes. Add coconut milk, and simmer for another 5 min. Squeeze in roughly half a lime. Season to taste.
Each person takes a large bowl, and adds their desired ingredients from the chopped vegetables, noodles, and shredded chicken. Ladle the boiling soup over the top. Add fried shallots, dried chilli and a squeeze of lime as desired. Enjoy!