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Schhhmmokin’ !

March 28, 2015

Homemade chilli sauce

Homemade chilli sauce

My late step-son, Andrew was a chilli freak! He grew all sorts of chillies and used them copiously in his cooking – perhaps too generously!! Like his coffee, he liked his chilli STRONG. We would have exhaustive discussions about the merits of thickening agents, guar or agar in sauce,  and using acid to preserve his chillies. One year he gave his younger step-brother a bottle of home-made chilli sauce that was so hot it was lethal – and I mean so lethal that it sat at the back of the fridge forever,  as everyone was too afraid to use it!

Chilli is a healthful addition to your diet. It contains an alkaloid compound, capsaicin, which is a strong, spicy & pungent flavour. Early laboratory studies on experimental mammals suggest that capsaicin has anti-bacterial, anti-carcinogenic, analgesic and anti-diabetic properties. It also found to reduce LDL cholesterol levels in obese individuals. Capsaicin does not lose its pungency through the digestive tract as those, who have experienced its path both on entry and exit will be sure to attest! Despite its health giving properties, be careful and avoid it if you suffer stomach or bowel ulcers, heartburn, haemorrhoids, or a sore throat. You will make yourself worse AND miserable! Read why you should eat more chilli here.

Here is a great chilli sauce recipe that you can adjust to your tolerance of spicy hot! Many bottled chilli sauces have a large addition of vinegar or acid to help prolong the shelf life of the sauce. Home-made obviously won’t last as long but it will taste better.

If you make sure that your jars are well sterilised, the sauce will last a good 12 months in the pantry and longer in the fridge. To sterilise your jars in your Varoma  see here. Make sure that you do the lids as well and that they drip dry.

Back to chilli – I use this in everything from marinades to using as an accompaniment for rice and dumplings. The addition of turmeric gives it a healthy edge with its natural anti-inflammatory and powerful antioxidant properties. Read about how good turmeric is for you here.

You can adjust the “heat” of this recipe a couple of ways.  First of all, taste the chillies! Small birdseye chillies are extremely hot. Larger red chillies can be hot or quite mild. You can de-seed and de-pith the chillies to make them taste milder. Most of the heat is in the pith membrane and seeds of the chilli. I find this a bit fiddly (and  a WHS risk!) so instead I substitute some of the chillies with red capsicum.

Andrew, you left this world too soon – this post is dedicated to you. x

250g red chillies – a mix of birdseye & long red
150g red capsicum, chopped
4 cloves garlic
1 knob of fresh turmeric
150g fresh tomato
1 tab fish sauce
1 teas salt
1 tab apple cider vinegar
2 tabs rapadura sugar
Remove the stem from the chillies and add all ingredients to the TM bowl and chop for 10 seconds, SP 7.
Cook for 20 minutes on SP 4, 100ºC with the MC off. Give it a blitz on SP 9 for 10 seconds with the MC on!! If you would like it thicker, cook for a further 5 minutes. Bottle & seal while hot.
Try using green chillies & green capsicum for a green chilli sauce. I think a handful of coriander works in this too.





Pick a Peppered Pasty..

March 20, 2015

Fresh out of the oven

Fresh out of the oven

There are many renditions of a Cornish pasty, and I don’t think that my version fits the bill. The traditional pasty consists of beef, potatoes, swedes and onion, and heavily seasoned with salt and pepper. It is regarded as Cornwall’s (UK) national dish and has Protected Geographical Indication (PGI) status in Europe.

Legend has it that the pasty was invented by the resourceful wives of the Cornish tin miners, who put their meat & veg into a pastry pocket to enable the miners to carry their lunch without mess. The thick crust, which was discarded, enabled the miners to eat the filling without cutlery and perhaps contamination from tin or arsenic. An original form of packaging perhaps.

As with other items  in my repertoire (hot cross buns, panettone, pasta), home-made pasties have vanished from my paleo kitchen until recently, when my husband longingly described his love for them, and to cheer him up I thought I had better deliver!

I am unable to restrain myself keeping this humble dish uncomplicated. Originally the pastry was a plain salt water one but my husband loves puff pastry so I use that. You could use any shortcrust pastry – even a paleo one.*

To my pasty, I like to add extra flavour in the form of turnips and carrots and perhaps a few peas but am under strict instruction (from dear husband) NOT to include sweetcorn!! I use mince beef instead of cubed beef, for both convenience and I like the texture of it as it helps bind the mix together. Most recipes use raw vegetables to make the pasties but I prefer to lightly steam them first.

Feel free to add whatever vegetables you have on hand!

Feel free to add whatever vegetables you have on hand!

My recipe is loose because pasties are pretty forgiving. Use what you have and what you like.

2 medium potatoes

1 medium turnip

1 medium swede

1 small carrot

1 onion

2 tabs lard or oil

1 handful frozen peas

1 clove garlic

150g minced beef or lamb

2 teas salt

1/2 teas black pepper

1/2 teas white pepper

1 pkt of frozen puff pastry or batch of homemade shortcrust pastry

1 egg, beaten, to glaze

Chop the garlic on SP 8 for 5 seconds. Add the onion and chop for 5 seconds on SP 4. Add the lard or oil and saute on SP 1 at VAROMA temp for 3 minutes. Set aside.

Add the potatoes, turnip, swede & carrot to the TM bowl and coarsely chop on SP 4 for a few seconds. Alternatively, cut into 1cm dice by hand. Place vegetables, including the peas into the varoma tray and steam over 500g hot water for 20 minutes.

Set aside to cool for 30 minutes. Stir through the fried onion and raw minced beef, salt & peppers and mix well without squashing the vegetables too much.

Cut a pastry sheet in half and place some mix onto 1 half of the piece, fold and seal. If using pre-packaged pastry, there is no need to wet the edges to seal, I found the pastry sticky enough. Place onto an oven tray and prick over with a fork. Glaze with egg-wash and bake at 210°C for about 20 minutes until golden brown.

I got 7 pasties from this recipe, but it will depend on the size of the veges you have.

* I haven’t tried any of these recipes but they look good!

Gudrun’s Carrot Cake (Ruebeli Torte)

March 12, 2015

I don't think this recipe needs frosting at all

Great with coffee, I don’t think this recipe needs frosting at all

Recently, in a moment of weakness, (a very real moment of weakness) I bought a piece of gluten-free carrot cake from the supermarket. To eat!

I used to buy carrot cake from the school canteen while at university. Light, moist and flecked with orange, this carrot cake was an affordable indulgence between lectures – its rich cream cheese frosting was the crown – back then I used to pick off the walnuts, garnished on the top!

The aforementioned supermarket cake was nothing like this. It was dense and heavy, although not unpleasant but I could not find a speck of carrot in the whole thing. Not a speck! I ate it and then wondered why!!

This got me thinking about a wonderful German woman, Gudrun, with whom I used to work, who used to make a carrot cake which was based on an almond meringue. A Swiss style reubeli torte, it was typically all carrot and very delicately spiced.

Carrots have been used in sweet cakes since the medieval period, during which time sugar was expensive and scarce, while carrots, which contain more sugar than most other vegetables, were much easier to come by. The origins of carrot cake are disputed. The oldest known recipe of carrot cake dates from 1892, in a Swiss book about housekeepingAccording to the Culinary Heritage of Switzerland, it is one of the most popular cakes in Switzerland, especially for children’s birthdays.

The popularity of carrot cake was probably revived in Great Britain because of rationing during the Second World War. In 2011 carrot cake was voted as the favourite cake in the UK (according to a survey in the Radio Times) above chocolate cake!

Carrot cake became popular in restaurants and cafe’s in the United States in the early 1960’s. They were at first a novelty item, but were enjoyed so much they became standard fare.  In the US in 2005, carrot cake with cream-cheese icing, was listed as number five of the top five fad foods of the 1970’s.

My mum was making carrot cake from the Women’s Weekly cookbook in the late 70’s. It was imperative that it was frosted with sweetened cream cheese. She discovered that this new fangled cream cheese icing was also good for sponge cake too, and laced it with Grand Marnier – she was an innovator, my mum!

This cake is inspired by Gudrun’s European recipe. I have added some buckwheat to lighten it up and a little oil for mouth feel. It is quite textured and yet refined. It’s a great dairy free cake if you need an alternative.

Feel free to frost it with cream cheese or a dairy-free icing or this one or even just a simple lemon glaze. I prefer this particular version without icing at all.

4 eggs

1/4 teas cream of tartar

1 orange, zest & juice

70g buckwheat

240g raw almonds

150g rapadura (I used Natvia)

250g carrots, chopped

1/2 teas cinnamon

pinch cloves

pinch salt

50g olive oil

1 teas baking powder

1 teas almond extract (optional)

Firstly, prepare a 20 (or 22cm) spring-form cake tin by greasing and lining it.

Separate the eggs and put the whites into a clean TM bowl with the cream of tartar and the butterfly. Whip on SP 4 for 2 minutes at 37°C.  To prevent the whites from separating, add a tablespoon (20g) sugar at the end and whip for a further 30 seconds. Set aside in a large clean bowl.

Without cleaning the bowl add the rind, buckwheat & almonds and mill on SP 9 for 20 seconds. Add the remaining 130g sugar and carrots & chop on SP 6 for 5 seconds. You do not want the carrots to be puree, just finely chopped.

Add the spices, salt, baking powder, yolks, orange juice and oil and mix on SP 5 REVERSE for 20 seconds. Pour onto the egg whites and fold through. Pour into the prepared tin and bake at 170°C for 40 – 45 minutes or when a skewer comes out clean.

Rawlicious Spaghetti Bolognaise

March 8, 2015

Entirely raw and meat free, I have served this bolognaise with zucchini noodles

Entirely raw and meat free, I have served this bolognaise with zucchini noodles

When I travel to Melbourne, I always make sure I visit my favourite health food store, Terra Madre in Northcote. This place is a mecca for all things whole and healthy with both organic and non-organic products.

A while ago I tried a fabulous product in a jar – a walnut based “bolognaise” sauce – which was nothing like the real meaty dish but a great alternative for vegetarians and vegans alike. I am always bemused about the fascination of recreating meat dishes for vegetarians. The Buddhists do it so well with their soy proteins and gluten products. I guess it’s the same as my fascination for paleo-fying  naughty foods – no one ever wants to feel like they’re missing out.

The flavours are the same as a traditional bolognaise sauce; garlic, oregano, tomato and basil and the texture of the walnuts really does compare with the texture of cooked minced beef. This dish really works best with walnuts and no other nut as they have a softer texture. Perhaps pine-nuts and sunflower seeds might work too.

Walnuts  contain valuable omega-3 fats, gamma-tocopherol (Vitamin E), manganese, molybdenum, and biotin. They have high levels of alpha-linolenic acid (ALA), which is anti-inflammatory, and the amino acid l-arginine, which offers multiple vascular benefits to people with heart disease.

Eating just four walnuts a day has been shown to significantly raise blood levels of heart-healthy ALA, and walnut consumption supports healthful cholesterol levels. As they are high in fat, walnuts are best stored in the fridge or freezer as they can easily turn rancid.

Walnut skins include tannins and flavonoids which can make them quite bitter so I always soak and dehydrate them, which removes the bitterness without compromising the nutrient value. Activating your walnuts is particularly beneficial to this dish for flavour alone.

120g walnuts, soaked in water for at least 4 hours

1 small clove garlic

100g sun-dried tomatoes

2 spring onions, sliced

100g capsicum

A handful fresh basil

1 tab fresh oregano, chopped

2 tabs nutritional yeast

1/2 teas salt

120g fresh tomatoes (about 2 small)

20g olive oil

cracked black pepper

Drain & rinse the walnuts and set aside to drain.

Chop the garlic, oregano and spring onions on SP 6 for 10 seconds. Add the remaining ingredients except the nuts and blend on SP 6 for 20 seconds until a paste. Add the walnuts and pulse until you get a coarsely textured sauce, not too chunky and not too fine.

Serve immediately on zucchini noodles. The mix will keep for about 2 days. It may leach a little water but can be easily stirred back in. I prefer this served at room temperature, rather than cold.

My raw BLAT! – Carrot Tortilla Wraps

March 4, 2015

You can always use "real" bacon if you prefer!!

You can always use “real” bacon if you prefer!!

Do you remember when BLT’s were all the rage?

Despite its documented existence since the early 1900’s, the BLT really only made an appearance in the Australian food scene in the 70’s. Like its American cousin, the club sandwich, the BLT sandwich contains bacon, lettuce and tomato with lashings of mayonnaise on toasted white bread. The difference being, the club often has an extra layer of toast and chicken included too. The “A” in BLAT includes my favourite fat: avocado!

My first experience with a BLT was as a teenager in a local Dennys restaurant in the 80’s. The chain has since gone bust in Australia but thrives in America and Canada. It was the first 24 hour restaurant in Melbourne and had a keen nocturnal following – especially with hospitality staff, who now had a place to hobnob after work.

Contrary to the sandwiches in my school lunch-box, the BLT is FAT – there are several layers of bacon, chunky tomato and copious amounts of shredded iceberg lettuce. All glued together with a generous slathering of mayonnaise. My lunch box favourite as a kid was ham, cheese & tomato. My brothers favourite was strasburg (fritz, polony) & tomato sauce!! Cringe!!

This version is made in a wrap. As much as I love the odd slice of toasted paleo bread or even gluten-free bread I could never sit down to a sandwich made of the stuff! My previous recipe for tortillas would fill me up too much too, although they’re great with a BBQ sausage.

These wraps are vegetable based and RAW! They last for ages in the fridge and freeze well too. Depending on the extent that you dehydrate them, they stay lovely and pliable without cracking or drying out. I stored mine, wrapped in baking paper, sealed in a plastic container, in the fridge and they were good for 2 weeks.

Feel free to fill with fair-dinkum bacon – but to keep this recipe raw, I have made my own eggplant bacon – you will find the recipe here.


220g linseeds

100g raw almonds

400g chopped carrots

40g sun-dried tomatoes in oil, drained*

150g red capsicum

2 cloves garlic

A handful of fresh herbs, (I used parsley, basil & a little rosemary)

20g apple cider vinegar

30g water

1 heaped teas salt

cracked black pepper, turmeric to taste (optional)

To Assemble

Shredded iceberg lettuce or baby spinach

1 fresh tomato, sliced

1 ripe avocado

Eggplant bacon or the real deal

Paleo mayo or sour nut cream or sunflower dressing

Mill the linseeds and nuts on SP 10 for 15 seconds. Add the carrots, sun-dried tomatoes, capsicum, garlic, herbs, and vinegar & salt. Blend on SP 8 for about a minute, or as long as it takes to become a thick smooth paste – add the water to help, if required.

Using wet hands, turn out onto a board and divide into 6 pieces. you will need 6 silpat mats, dehydrator sheets or baking paper.

Again with wet hands, form each piece into a ball and flatten out using the palm of your hand in a circular motion until the paste is about 2mm thick. I find it much easier to do it in this way rather than trying to spread with a spatula.

Dehydrate for 3.5 hours at 45ºC (112°F). Check if you can peel the sheet away by flipping the wrap over. If the sheet comes away cleanly, peel off and dehydrate for another 45 minutes to give the other side an airing. If the sheet doesn’t peel away cleanly, leave for another 30 minutes and check.

The finished wraps will be dry but pliable, do not let them dry at the edges as they will crack. You could do these in a very slow oven (65°C) but they will have to be closely monitored.

To assemble the BLAT, take a wrap and layer with a good handful of lettuce, sliced tomato, sour cream and bacon. Roll up and secure with kitchen string or a baking paper collar. I find that 1 filled wrap will make 2 serves easily. They are very filling.

Store the remainder wrapped in baking paper, sealed in a plastic container, in the fridge for up to 2 weeks.


* Or just sun-dried, but then soak in warm water for 20 minutes & drain. Do not use semi-dried tomatoes – the mix will be too wet.


I’m Sour on Cream…

February 26, 2015

Savoury, not sweet

Savoury, not sweet

After my amazing holiday over Christmas,  have been a little lax in getting back on the dairy-free wagon. I indulged over the break and was pleasantly surprised to have no immediate digestive repercussions!

Read immediate! Hmmm, it is now halfway through February and I have continued to enjoy a bit of dairy here & there but now I’m facing the consequences of my actions!


A bit of bloating, skin break outs, lethargy……(blow raspberry here)…

My recent food allergy test confirmed that yes, I still have a strong intolerance to dairy – or particularly that of, Aussie cows versus Japanese cows! Boo Hoo, the milk and cream was so good in Hokkaido!

So here is a pretend version of sour cream. Based on cashews, it will get me past the line convincingly. Well, almost!!


100g pinenuts

300g cashews, soaked for at least 3 hours

1 clove garlic

1 rounded teas salt

200g coconut cream

50g water

Juice of 2 lemons

60g apple cider vinegar

1 probiotic capsule (optional)

Rinse the cashews and blend with the remaining ingredients on SP 9 for 1 minute. Taste and scrape down and blend for another 30 seconds until smooth. Stir in the probiotic at the end.

Cream will thicken on standing.


My own Kitchen Rules – Chocolate Fondant

February 20, 2015

Undercooked is the idea!

Undercooked is the idea!

I don’t know if you have been watching the latest MKR lately, I haven’t been a regular viewer,  but I chanced upon an episode recently where they were making a chocolate fondant for dessert.

Oh, the drama of it all! So much attention was given to the herculean difficulty in getting the recipe right. And served on time. And cooked perfectly….

Arghh! So I write this post to allay your fears and reassure you that it is really quite easy and straight forward.

The best thing about this dessert is that you can pre-make it and freeze the uncooked mix, way ahead of time. You can make this a week ahead of your visitors arriving – or more – in fact, that’s how the restaurants do it!

Whether you are serving a dinner for 6 or 12 or 20, as long as you dedicate yourself to some time keeping, you can’t go wrong. I think that 20 minutes (or even 30) is a fair break between main course and dessert, so you won’t be distracted with juggling other components of your dinner party, except for maybe breaking out the dessert wine.

This here, is a Paleo version of course! Grain-free, sugar-free, it won’t weigh you down, but beware – it is very rich!!

Give MKR a bit of home competition – I encourage you to have a go!

70g butter

120g dark chocolate, chopped

40g honey

A few drops stevia (optional)

2 teas cacao + 1 teas for dredging

30g almond flour

2 egg

2 egg yolks

Melt the butter and chocolate on SP 2 for 2 minutes at 50°C.

Add the remaining ingredients and mix on SP 5 for 20 seconds until smooth.

Butter 4 ramekins well and dredge with cacao powder. Divide the mix between the ramekins and freeze for at least an hour.

When ready to serve, take the ramekins out of the freezer while waiting for the oven to heat up to 170°C (10 minutes).

Place on a tray in the oven and bake for exactly 14 minutes. (Set a timer) Remove and let stand for 5 minutes before turning out onto a plate. Dust with a little cacao powder and serve with cream!


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