Slow cooked (crock cooker) beef with bay leaves and ginger

Winter is almost over (and it has been a cold one, so I will be happy to see it go) but one good thing about the cold weather is the warming meals you can cook.  I love this one, partly because we have a bay tree at home, so I feel a tad self righteous with this, just because one ingredient is home grown!  I also love that warm, sweet heat from ginger.  As always, you can use regular flour if that is what you have, but if you use gluten free flour, then the whole recipe is gluten free.

I usually prepare this the evening before I need it, then either put it on to cook before I go out, or get someone in the family to put it on if I am leaving too early.

Serves four.

Beef with ginger and bay leaves in the slow (crock) cooker

Beef with  bay leaves and ginger in the slow (crock) cooker

750g gravy beef (you can use chuck steak, but I prefer gravy beef), cubed;

2 tbs olive oil;

Brown onion, chopped;

2 tbs gluten free plain flour;

500ml beef stock;

1 tbs tomato puree;

1 tbs vinegar;

2 tsp brown sugar;

3 bay leaves;

6 cm piece of ginger, peeled and very finely chopped.

Heat half the oil in a frypan, brown half the beef.  When done, lift out with a slotted spoon so that the juices remain in the pan and put in crock.  Repeat with the rest of the oil and beef.  Fry the onion in the pan that still has the juices in it until the onion is softening and just slightly browned.  Stir in the flour, then mix in all the other ingredients.  Season with salt and pepper if you prefer (I think the ginger will add all the seasoning you need).

Cook for 8 to 10 hours on low.

I like to serve this with rice to soak up the sauce, but you could also try mashed potatoes if you prefer.

Gluten free Maple Syrup dumplings

This is a variation on the popular golden syrup dumpling.  You can of course substitute regular flour for the gluten free variety if you don’t need to use it.  The beauty of this is you can prepare the dough and the syrup ahead and just put it on to cook when you need it.  Serves 4.

Maple syrup dumplings

Maple syrup dumplings

For the dumplings:

1 cup self raising gluten free flour;

Pinch of salt;

1 tbs butter;

1 egg;

1 – 2 tbs milk.


For the syrup:

1 cup water;

1/2 cup sugar (just the regular variety, you don’t need caster sugar);

1 tbs butter;

1 tbsp maple syrup.

Put the flour and salt in a large bowl, cut the butter into small pieces and rub through the flour with your fingers until the butter is well combined.  You can of course do this in a food processor, but this is one of my favourite processes in cooking, I love squishing the butter into the flour until it all disappears.

Mix through the egg and milk (you may need a little more or less, depending on the absorbency of your flour, put it in the mixture a little at a time until you have a good stiff dough – not sticky).

Combine the syrup ingredients in a large heavy based pot and put on a medium heat until the butter has melted.  You can stir to combine, but then once the butter has melted leave it alone.  Bring syrup to a slow boil.  Form the dough into eight dumplings and drop in the syrup.  Let it boil for 15 minutes, turning over halfway.

I serve with thickened cream.

Gluten free Macadamia nut and golden syrup steamed pudding

With spring just around the corner (I hope) I was thinking of flavours that remind me of an Australian spring/summer season.  Macadamias came to mind, so I tried them in a steamed pudding.  The contrast in textures was amazing.   The nuts were no longer crunchy, but still firm, and they were encased in a spongy pudding, with warm syrup topping.  Some experiments work! Serves four.

Macadamia nut and golden syrup steamed pudding

Macadamia nut and golden syrup steamed pudding

125g butter;

1/2 cup caster sugar;

1 egg, beaten;

3 – 4 drops vanilla essence;

1/2 cup  milk;

110g packet halved macadamias;

1  cup gluten free SR flour;

2 tbs golden syrup.


Grease a medium sized pudding steamer.

Cream the butter and sugar, add the egg and essence and mix well.  Alternately mix in flour and milk until you have a smooth batter, then stir through the macadamias.  Put the golden syrup into the bottom of the pudding basin, then gently pour the batter over, without disturbing the golden syrup.

Put the lid on the steamer and tie string around the steamer so that you have something to grab hold of to pull it out of the boiling water when it is done.

Put some water into a large heavy based pot so that it will come halfway up the sides of the steamer (you don’t want it to slop over and get into the steamer or the top of your pudding will be gluggy).  Take the steamer out of the pot, put the lid on the pot and bring the water to the boil.  Once boiling, carefully put the steamer in the pot, put the lid back on the pot and let it boil for an hour and a half.  It shouldn’t boil dry, but keep an eye on it, just in case.  If it does look like it is going to boil dry, boil some water in the kettle and put that in the pot instead of using cold water and bringing it off the boil.

Jaffa balls

You will get SO messy when you make this – enjoy.  This makes about 24 balls.

Jaffa balls

Jaffa balls


300g dark chocolate, chopped finely (the finer you chop it, the quicker it melts);

20g butter;

1/2 cup thickened cream;

1 & 1/2 tsp orange essence;

Something to coat the balls, you can use cocoa powder or various sprinkles, you could even use dessicated coconut if you prefer.

Place chocolate and butter in a heatproof bowl over a pan of simmering water, don’t let the water touch the bottom of the bowl or it may cause the chocolate to sieze.  Heat until melted, stirring occasionally, allow to cool.  Stir in the cream and orange essence.  Refrigerate until set.

Using a teaspoon as a guide, roll balls into a round shape and roll in your choice of coating.  Put back in fridge as it will be quite soft after you have been handling it.

Gluten free “ferrero rochers”

My husband used to love Ferrero Rocher until he was diagnosed coeliac, and of course, they aren’t gluten free.  These aren’t the real thing, but they are close, and while you of course can use ordinary wafer biscuits (which are much cheaper) the use of gluten free ones will make the recipe suitable for coeliacs.  This mixture makes about 30 if you use a teaspoon as a guide when shaping the balls.  The recipe is a bit fussy, but because it has three stages, you can do a bit, then leave it and come back to it later.

Gluten free "ferrero rochers"

Gluten free “ferrero rochers”


100g packet chocolate wafer biscuits, crushed (I find the easiest way is to put each biscuit in the bottom of a sturdy mixing bowl and whack it a couple of times with a heavy pestle, then throw in the next biscuit and repeat the process);

150g toasted hazelnuts (roughly rub off the skins once they are toasted, but if you miss some it doesn’t matter);

200g hazelnut spread;

200g dark chocolate;

2 tbsp oil.

Mix the biscuits, hazelnuts and nutella in a large bowl, refrigerate for 1/2 to 1 hour.  Put baking paper on a baking sheet, and using a teaspoon, shape into small balls and put each on the sheet.  Put back in the fridge for an hour.

Take half the chocolate and half the oil, combine in a microwave safe jug, and in 20 second bursts, melt together.  I usually shake the jug after each, and after about a minute (3 bursts) I mix vigorously with a spoon to finish the melting process.  Coat each ball in chocolate and place back on the tray.  You should be able to do half the balls with the first mixture, then repeat.  Put back in the fridge to set before serving.

Self saucing “toffee apple” pudding

You can’t see the sauce in this pudding, it is all at the bottom.  When you cut a portion out of the pudding to serve, you can scoop the sauce from the bottom and ladle over the portion.  Serves 4 – 6.

Self saucing "toffee apple" pudding

Self saucing “toffee apple” pudding



60g butter;

1/2 cup caster sugar;

1 egg, beaten;

2 apples, peeled, cored and chopped very finely;

1 cup gluten free SR flour;

1/2 cup milk.


1/2 cup raw sugar;

1 tsp cinnamon powder;

1 & 1/4 cup boiling water.


Preheat oven to 190 celcius or 170 if your oven is fan forced.  Grease a flan dish or square baking dish.  Cream butter and sugar.  Beat in egg.  Mix in apples, flour and milk.  Pour into dish.  Mix together the sugar and cinnamon powder and sprinkle evenly over batter.  Pour water onto sauce over the back of a spoon so it distributes evenly without damaging the surface of the pudding.  Bake until skewer comes out of pudding clean.  The sauce will have ‘sunk’ to the bottom of the pudding.  Serve with whipped cream or custard.

Chicken meatballs with coriander and cashew pesto

This is extremely simple to make and should be enough for four people.  It goes well with the green tea steeped microwave rice.

Chicken meatballs with coriander and cashew pesto

Chicken meatballs with coriander and cashew pesto


500g chicken mince;

3 tbs bought coriander and cashew pesto.


Mix ingredients together, shape into meatballs (you should get approximately 14).  Cook on a gentle heat until cooked through, approximately 15 minutes, turning as needed.

Green tea steeped microwave rice

This makes a great accompaniment to asian flavoured meats.  It is quick and easy, leaving you time to concentrate on the main.

Green tea steeped microwave rice

Green tea steeped microwave rice


1 cup basmati rice;

2 & 3/4 cups water;

Pinch of salt;

1 tbs green tea leaves, crumbled.


Put all ingredients in a microwave safe covered bowl.  Depending on the strength of your microwave, this should take around 12 minutes to cook.  I usually cook for 5 minutes, then stir, then another five, then leave it until the rest of the meal is ready, then give it a final 2 minutes.  It should be enough for four people.

Chocolate custard pot with whipped cream

This is a baked custard recipe, so you will need to put the ramekins in a water bath – for this recipe you will need four X one cup ramekins and a baking dish large enough to hold all four with room enough around to be able to lift them out when done.

Chocolate custard pot with whipped cream

Chocolate custard pot with whipped cream

1/4 cup cocoa powder;

6 egg yolks (you can freeze the whites to use later for something else – I freeze them individually so I can count out how many I need);

1/2 cup caster sugar;

1 cup milk;

3/4 cup thickened cream;

60g dark chocolate;

Extra cream and sprinkles or chocolate shards to decorate.

Preheat oven to 160 celcius, or 140 if your oven is fan forced.  Place the ramekins into the baking dish – no need to grease anything.

Whisk the cocoa powder, egg yolks and sugar in a heatproof bowl.  Place milk, cream and chocolate in a medium saucepan over a moderate heat.  Stir until smooth, slowly bring to a boil, then gradually whisk into chocolate mixture.

Pour into ramekins.  Fill baking dish with boiling water to half way up the sides of the ramekins.  Bake 35-40 minutes, or until just set.  Remove the ramekins from the pan and stand for five minutes.  Decorate as you like.  Best eaten warm, but you can let them go cold if you prefer.

Gluten free Lemon Meringue Pots

You can either make up this lemon mixture (very tart) or use some leftover lemon curd.  Again, this is gluten free, as unlike conventional lemon meringue pie, there isn’t a crust so it is nice and easy.  Serves four.

Lemon Meringue Pots

Lemon Meringue Pots

For the lemon curd:

1 cup caster sugar;

125g chopped unsalted butter (the finer you chop it, the quicker it melts);

2 cups lemon juice (approximately 8 lemons) and the grated rinds of four lemons;

4 lightly beaten eggs.

For the meringue:

3 egg whites;

3/4 cup caster sugar.


Place the sugar, butter, lemon juice and rind into a heatproof bowl.  Place bowl over a saucepan of simmering water, do not let the bottom of the bowl touch the water.  Stirring occasionally, mix together and leave on heat until butter is melted and mixture is well blended.  Leave to cool at least 10 minutes.  Once it has cooled a bit, drizzle in the beaten eggs, briskly stirring as you pour.  (If you haven’t let the mixture cool enough, the eggs will start to cook and your curd won’t set properly).  Put back on simmering water, and stir until curd thickens and coats the back of the spoon.  Strain into a jug (to get rid of the bits of rind and streaks of egg that may have cooked before it blended) and pour into four serving glasses.  Chill for 30 minutes.

Beat the egg whites until soft peaks form, then drizzle in the sugar slowly while the mixer is still running.    When the sugar is well beaten in and the mixture is glossy, spoon onto top of curd.  You can either then use a blowtorch, or put them under a griller until the top of the meringue is toasted.

When you are eating this, you might want to get a bit of meringue and a bit of curd onto the spoon, as the curd is very tart and the sweet meringue balances it out.