Gluten free Lasagne

When I make lasagne, I make two.  I make up the same meat sauce, and bechamel, and make them gluten free.  Then I make a “regular” lasagne for those of us in the house who aren’t coeliac, then I make another, smaller one with gluten free lasagne sheets for himself.  If you don’t need to make a gluten free lasagne, you can just make it up with these sauces, but use regular pasta.  This quantity serves four to six people, depending on how hungry you are and what you serve on the side.

Lasagne

Lasagne

 

Meat sauce:

1 tbsp oil

1 onion, chopped finely

1 clove garlic, chopped finely

Stalk of celery (including leaves) sliced finely

750g mince beef

1 tbsp tomato paste

700ml passata

1 tsp dried oregano

1 tsp dried basil

1/2 tsp ground ginger (my mother’s idea)

Additional water as needed (I put water into the passata bottle and swish it around and keep it handy)

 

Bechamel:

40g butter

2 tbsp gluten free plain flour

1 litre milk (I have also used a mixture of cream and milk, if you have some cream you want to use up, it makes the bechamel thick and creamy)

200g tasty cheese, diced finely

30g parmesan, cut into small pieces

 

Also required:

Dried lasagne sheets as needed (you will need at least one box)

Small quantity of grated tasty cheese to top

 

First, get the meat sauce simmering on the stove top.  Heat the oil in a large, heavy based saucepan, and fry the onion, garlic and celery until the onion has softened a little.  Add the minced beef and stir to break up any lumps.  When it is slightly browned, add the spices, tomato paste and passata, and stir.  I then add water as required, just enough to stop the meat sticking to the bottom.  Keep the water handy in case you need to top up.  Bring the mixture to a boil, then turn down to a simmer, and allow to simmer at least half an hour.

Once the meat is simmering, you can preheat the oven to 180 celcius if fan forced, 200 if not.

To make up the bechamel sauce, melt the butter in a heavy based pan.  Take off the heat and stir in the flour, then return to the heat and allow to bubble (it should take about a minute).   Then remove from the heat and whisk in the milk so the mixture is smooth.  Allow to heat through, then put the cheeses in and stir while they melt (you can also play with the mixture of cheese – keep the amount the same, but adjust the type of cheeses to your personal taste).   Once melted, set aside.

Gather your dishes, when the meat mixture is ready you assemble the tiers as follows – meat, pasta, meat, bechamel, and so on.  You should be able to go up about three layers with this mixture.  Top with extra grated cheese and cover.  (Use foil if your dish doesn’t have a lid).  If I have made up two dishes, I put the larger in for about 3/4 of an hour, and the smaller for 1/2 an hour.

I use the meat sauce as described above as a bolognese sauce as well.  So if I am really organised (not all that often) I make up a double batch and freeze one.  I have lasagne when I am in the mood for cooking, and on another night when I might be pressed for time, I can just defrost the bolognese sauce and quickly boil up some pasta to go with it.

If you end up with bechamel sauce left over you can use it to dress vegetables – as in asparagus in bechamel.

 

 

 

Arancini (gluten free)

You might not think Arancini are suitable for picnics, but I can eat them cold.  What is rice salad after all but cold rice with some flavourings?  Of course, they are yummy warm too, and the cheese is more fluid, but either way, they are yum.  You will get 12 from this mix.

Arancini

Arancini

I use my basic risotto recipe, with some modifications.

Leave out the bbq chicken and the peas.  Leave out the fire-roasted capsicums, and just use olive oil, or flavoured olive oil to start the risotto.  Cut up the spring onions very very finely.  For added colour, you can put a tiny pinch of saffron into the stock, otherwise your arancini might look a bit sickly when cooked.

Make up the rest of the risotto according to the recipe, but do this the day before you need it.  When the risotto is done, place in a greased dish, cover with plastic wrap, and put in the fridge overnight.  It needs to dry a little, and to ‘set’ as you will have to get your hands in it to finish it off, and obviously you can’t do this when it is hot and slippery.

 

To make the arancini:

Preheat the oven to 160 celcius fan forced, 180 if not. (I don’t like to deep fry them, I prefer to bake them).

I quantity risotto

Olive oil spray

100g mozzarella, cut into 12 cubes

1 cup gluten free breadcrumbs (you can use regular if you prefer) – have some extra on hand in case you need it

1/2 cup gluten free plain flour

2 eggs – small or medium

 

Divide your cold risotto into 12.  Form each into a ball around a cube of mozzarella, then roll around on a cutting board or your bench to form a conical shape (or if you are really clever, a pear shape, I have never mastered this).  Roll the arancini in flour, then dip in egg, then roll to coat in the breadcrumbs.  Place on a greased baking tray, then repeat with the other portions.  Spray all over well with olive oil, then put in fridge for a few minutes.  Bake for 20-25 minutes or until crisp.

 

Cooked arancini can be wrapped in plastic wrap and frozen for up to three months.

 

 

White chocolate, cranberry & pistachio bark – gluten free. Ideal for picnics – Melbourne Cup anyone?

This is so easy to make and is ideal to take on a picnic so long as you can keep it cold (or it will melt).

The secret to a good white chocolate bark is to use a good quality white chocolate, and to add something for a bit of tartness to offset the sweetness of the white chocolate – hence the cranberry.  You need to use dried fruits because a fresh berry would be too liquid and would change the chemical balance of the chocolate.

White chocolate, cranberry & pistachio bark

White chocolate, cranberry & pistachio bark

225g white chocolate, either use good quality melts or break up a block of eating chocolate

1/4 cup each of chopped pistachios and chopped dried cranberries

Put a sheet of baking paper on a flat baking tray.

Put the chocolate in a heatproof bowl and microwave in 30 second bursts, shaking bowl after each time.  After the third burst, take bowl out and stir until melted and smooth.  Mix in the fruit & nuts.

Pour onto the baking paper, forming a rectangle. The chocolate should be about 3-4 ml thick.

Put in the fridge to set, when set cup up into pieces and enjoy.  If you pack some into an insulated container so it doesn’t melt, it will transport very well for the finishing touch to a picnic.

Gluten free lemon curd and berry curd tarts – try them on a picnic!

For these, I used the pastry from my Gluten free coconut sweet pie crusts, but instead of forming it into one big pie crust, I pressed it into four small tart cases (the type with removable bottoms works well with this).  If you press the mixture down hard into the tart tin, once it is baked you can gently ease it out, and with a sharp knife, ease it between the crust and the removable bottom, and twist gently but quickly, and the bottom should come away without damaging the tart.  I was so impressed with the finish of the tart crust that my brain has been ticking over since then trying to work out different tart fillings to try out.  Stay tuned…

Serves four.

Lentil and mushroom curry

Lentil and mushroom curry

Gluten free pie crust mixture, formed into four small tarts instead of one large one

1 cup of lemon curd

Berry curd made as follows:

150g frozen mixed berries

1/4 cup caster sugar

60g butter

1 egg, plus 1 egg yolk

Squirt of lemon juice

 

Preheat oven to 180 celcius fan forced, or 200 if not.

Take the berries out of the freezer to allow to defrost for a few minutes.

Once you have filled the tart tins, and pressed the mixture down as hard as you can, blind bake the tarts for about 15 minutes, until the edges have just turned golden brown.  Remove from oven, allow to cool, then remove gently from tart tins.

While the tarts are cooking and then cooling, make the berry curd.  Mash the berries, then force through a sieve into a heat proof bowl (this part takes a while).  Add sugar and butter to the berries, then place bowl over a saucepan of boiling water (do not let bottom of bowl touch the water).  Cook, stirring occasionally for about 3 – 4 minutes.  Whisk egg and yolk in a bowl, then strain through the sieve into the butter mixture, whisking thoroughly to prevent the egg cooking before it incorporates into the mixture.  Cook, stirring occasionally for 6-8 minutes, until mixture coats the back of the spoon.  Remove from heat, stir in juice, then put in fridge at least an hour, until thick (longer if possible).  Once the curd is thick, spoon each curd into a side of the tart, if you are artistic (unlike me) you could make swirls or patterns.

Vietnamese chicken, noodle and peanut salad – gluten free and excellent for picnics

This salad can be eaten when the chicken is freshly cooked and still warm, or refrigerated and eaten cold.  I have to confess that I am not a big fan of fish sauce, so tend to substitute soy sauce (gluten free of course) when cooking Vietnamese and Thai foods.

Vietnamese chicken, noodle and peanut salad

Vietnamese chicken, noodle and peanut salad

1/3 cup lime juice

2 tbs sugar

1 tbs gluten free soy sauce

1 tbs chopped fresh coriander

1 tbs oil for cooking

2 tsp lemongrass paste

2 garlic cloves, grated

1 tsp grated fresh ginger

4 small or 2 large chicken breasts

100g rice vermicelli noodles

2 lebanese cucumbers, halved and sliced finely on the diagonal

4 spring onions, sliced finely on the diagonal

1 long red fresh chilli, deseeded and thinly sliced

225g can bamboo shoots, drained

1/2 cup fresh mint leaves

1/4 cup salted roasted peanuts

 

Combine lime juice, sugar and soy sauce in a glass or ceramic bowl.  Stir until sugar is dissolved, reserve 1/4 cup.  add coriander, lemongrass paste, garlic and ginger to marinade, add chicken and coat.  Set aside at least 15 minutes.

Place cucumber, spring onions, chilli, bamboo shoots and mint in a bowl.  Heat oil in a non-stick frypan on a medium to high heat and add chicken in marinade.  If using thick fillets, you will also need to add a bit of hot or boiling water just as the marinade cooks away to prevent it burning.  First, brown the chicken in the marinade, then when it starts crystalising in the pan, add the boiling water to poach the chicken to finish it off.  This will also help to keep it moist.  Remove from pan and rest for five minutes before slicing.

While the chicken is resting, pour boiling water over the noodles in a bowl.  Let steep for 5 minutes, then drain and refresh under cold running water while shaking the sieve.  Add to salad in bowl, add chicken and combine.  Pour reserved marinade over the top, and top with peanuts.

Tomato and feta salad – ideal for a picnic and gluten free

The reason I say this is ideal for a picnic is that it does not need dressing, and if you do choose to dress it, it travels well – the small amount of lettuce means that it doesn’t go soggy if dressed.  So you can prepare it at home (very easily) and just pack it up for transportation.

Tomato and feta salad

Tomato and feta salad

Two punnets of small tomatoes (I used a miniature roma and a “snacking” tomato)

100g feta, cut into small cubes

6 small cos leaves, shredded

Freshly cracked black pepper

Dressing of your choice – I prefer Nan’s salad dressing

 

Mix everything in a bowl.  Done.

Picnic chicken – take it in your hamper to the Melbourne Cup!

This can be eaten hot or cold.  It is also known in our house as “that French chicken roll” due to the presence of Camembert.  No matter what you call it, it is delicious, only slightly fiddly when tying the string.  You will need some plain, unwaxed string that can go in the frypan and in the oven.  Serves four.

Picnic chicken - camembert, macadamia, cranberry and spinach

Picnic chicken – camembert, macadamia, cranberry and spinach

100g frozen chopped spinach, defrosted and drained of excess moisture

50g camembert, coarsely chopped

1/4 cup macadamia nuts, coarsely chopped

1 heaped tbs dried cranberries, coarsely chopped

4 chicken thigh fillets

Oil for frying

 

Preheat oven to 180 celcius fan forced (200 if not).

Combine spinach, camembert, nuts and cranberries in a bowl and mix well.

Lay out chicken fillets and spread stuffing mixture on top.  Roll up and secure with string (this bit is messy).  Fry until golden on each side, about two to three minutes each side.  Place in a baking dish that has been sprayed with cooking spray, bake 8-10 minutes.  Allow to rest for a couple of minutes before cutting off string and thickly slicing.

 

For serving cold – if you don’t wish to serve on a plate with a knife and fork – consider preparing thick slices of toast (say a sliced baguette) and placing a round of chicken on the toast just prior to serving so that it can be eaten with one hand.

Halloween Graveyard Trifle – gluten free and just for fun!

Ok.  I confess.  I recently left a cake in the oven too long, so it was dry.  The only thing I could think to do with it was to turn it into a trifle.  Boring old trifle I thought, but since Halloween was coming up, I thought why not try to theme it and make it a bit interesting?  My ghosts don’t look all that scary, I tried to make them look like they were coming up out of the graves (see the tombstones all on a tilt around them) but anyway, it tasted good.  As with all trifles, you can change it depending on what you have on hand.  I have been very approximate with quantities as the idea was not to make the perfect trifle, but to play around and have fun.  Experiment and have some fun yourself.

You will need to either start this the day before or in the morning, as the jelly needs to be set before you pour the custard on.

Halloween Graveyard Trifle

Halloween Graveyard Trifle

1 failed cake (or if you don’t have any failures, a bought butter cake or cut up jam rollettes)

A couple of tablespoons of your favourite liqueur, or if making for children, some fruit juice

1 packet of jelly (I used creaming soda flavour, but you can use whatever you prefer)

2 cups of custard, either made up from custard powder or ready made

300 ml cream

Chocolate to make tombstone (I used about 100g)

Lollies for decorations and some green coloured sugar for “grass” sprinkles

Chop up the cake and put in a serving bowl.

Sprinkle the liqueur or juice over, use as much as you need to dampen the cake without making it too wet.

Make up the jelly according to packet directions and put in a bowl in the fridge to set.  When it is not quite set – think of the consistency of tapioca – sloppy and gloopy but no longer liquid – pour over cake.

Cover and set aside until the jelly has properly set.

Make up the custard and allow to cool at least 15 minutes, stirring occassionally to prevent a skin forming.

Gently pour over the jelly and put back in the fridge.

Melt chocolate in a heatproof bowl in the microwave in 30 second bursts.  After about three bursts (depending on the wattage of your microwave) stir vigorously to finish melting and smoothen the chocolate.  Spoon into moulds that are headstone shaped.  If you don’t have moulds, try spreading your chocolate into one big shape, and cutting into headstones when it is set (you will need a sharp knife).

Whip up the cream until it is very stiff and put into a piping bag.  Pipe rounds directly onto the custard (think of icecream cones) to make ghost shapes.  Place headstones randomly around the bowl.  Put cachous or whatever you plan on using onto the cream ghosts for eyes, and sprinkle sugar around for grass.

 

Roo Poo – peanut butter balls for Halloween (Gluten free)

Another idea for “gross out” food for Halloween.  If you’ve never seen it, Kangaroo Poo is like round black balls.  I thought this looked like that.  If you wanted to really gross out your guests, you could have a little stuffed toy on the table, with a pile of “poo” underneath it.  Decorate the plate with some green tinted sugar or coconut, to give the impression of grass.  How gross is that?  The recipe makes about 30 – 35 balls.

Roo Poo - peanut butter balls for Halloween

Roo Poo – peanut butter balls for Halloween

2 cups gluten free icing sugar

2 cups gluten free rice puffs/bubbles (most rice bubbles aren’t, but check the health food aisle of your supermarket, that’s where I found them)

125g butter

1 cup peanut butter (you can use smooth, but I thought the crunchy gave the balls a particular texture….)

Dark chocolate

Black food colouring

 

Put the rice bubbles in a bowl, sift the icing sugar over, mix.  Melt the butter and peanut butter in the microwave and stir through.  Using a teaspoon as a guide, roll ball shapes and place on a tray.  Put in the fridge to set.

Melt the chocolate in a heatproof bowl in the microwave in 30 second bursts.  I find that after the third time, I can take the chocolate out and stir it to finish the melting and make sure it is smooth.  Word of warning here – I don’t know enough about chemistry to know why, but when you put the food colouring in the melted chocolate, it becomes less smooth and runny, so you won’t get the even texture that you would have got if you didn’t colour it.  So if you aren’t making these for Halloween, just to eat, don’t add the food colouring.

I also put in a photo of the Roo Poo before it was coated in chocolate – to really gross out your guests, you might shape it into logs instead of balls, if your local wildlife leave “presents” that look more like this:

Uncoated Roo Poo

Uncoated Roo Poo

However, if you want to keep making Roo Poo:

Roll the peanut butter balls in the chocolate and put on a piece of baking paper to set.  Don’t let the neighbours see what you are eating!

OMG!  Do you see what they are eating?!

OMG! Do you see what they are eating?!

Spider Cupcakes for Halloween

Once again, same problem as with the Tiger Cupcakes, all the elements are gluten free except for the liquorice legs.  My instructions to my husband were:

“yes, you can eat the spider cakes, but you have to pick the legs off first”.  I am so funny. (In my own head anyway).

If you look closely you can see they are redback spiders.

Spider cupcakes for Halloween

Spider cupcakes for Halloween

Cupcakes:

125g butter

1/2 cup caster sugar

2 eggs, beaten

1/2 cup liquid, made up of whatever juice you get from an orange, then top up the rest with  milk

1 & 1/2 cups gluten free self raising flour

 

Icing:

125g butter

1 & 1/2 cups gluten free icing sugar (sometimes icing sugar mixture contains starches, so check the pack)

2 tbsp milk

Green food colouring

12 chocolate coated almonds

12 chocolate coated peanuts

Liquorice  straps

Red icing pen to make the red stripes

 

Preheat the oven to 160 Celcius fan forced, or 180 if not.

Cream the butter and sugar for the cake, beat in the eggs one at a time and mix well to prevent curdling.  Add the liquid and flour alternately.  When you have a nice smooth batter, spoon into 12 hole muffin tin or into big cupcake papers.  Bake for about 15 – 20 minutes – cakes should spring back when you touch them lightly.  Remove from oven.  Allow to cool in pan for a few minutes, then remove to a wire rack.  Allow to cool completely before icing.

 

Cream the butter and icing sugar together and beat until light and fluffy.  Add milk, and the food colouring a few drops at a time until you get the colour you like.

Place chocolate coated nuts to make the body and head.  For the liquorice, I used a fish filleting knife as it was the thinnest blade I have.  Cut some liquorice straps into leg pieces and stick on.  Don’t forget you need 8 legs for each spider.  Paint a red stripe at the rear of the body of the spider.