25 January 2012

Wattleseed & Banana Bread

gluten free dairy free egg free nut free vegan 
Wattleseed is a native Australian seed from the Acacia tree. (I remember collecting the pods as a child and once took a deep sniff from a bunch of wattle flowers and have been afflicted by hay fever ever since.) Wattleseeds were a main part of the diet of indigenous Australians for thousands of years being a  rich source of protein and carbohydrate. Because the acacia tree has hard husks, when they fall to the ground, they last for up to 20 years (!) in their natural environment, apparently only germinating after bush fires. The wattle flower is also, of course, Australia's floral emblem.

When I asked my seven year old daughter to guess the aroma of the ground seeds, she replied 'chocolate? coffee?'. Top of the class darling! Roasted ground wattle seed is known for its nutty, chocolatey and coffee-like flavour. It pairs very well with cakes, cookies, bread and desserts.

This rustic banana bread has a firm yet tender crumb - it's gluten-free AND vegan. Woo!

1/2 cup agave syrup (honey or golden syrup if you don't have it)
3 tbsp sunflower oil
1 tsp vanilla
1/2 tsp salt
3 medium sized ripe bananas, mashed
1/4 cup lemon juice
220g gluten-free plain flour
2 tsp baking powder
1/2 tsp soda bicarbonate
1 tsp xantham gum
1 tbs ground wattleseed (purchased online from Outback Chef)

Preheat oven to 180 C and grease and line a medium-sized loaf pan.

Whisk oil, vanilla, salt, lemon juice and agave syrup, then add mashed banana and mix well. Sift together flour, wattle seed, anthem gum, baking powder and bicarb soda. Gently fold in banana mixture until well combined then pour batter into loaf pan, smoothing the top. Bake for 20-25 minutes until golden brown, or toothpick comes out clean. Let cool in tin for 10 mins then transfer to wire rack.

Lemon Myrtle Shortbread

gluten free dairy free egg free nut free vegan

Backhousia citriodora, otherwise known as lemon myrtle, was named after James Backhouse, an English botany collector. It's a flowering rainforest tree, usually growing to around 8m tall, with the leaves prized for their lemony essential oils. It is the highest natural source of citral, beating even lemongrass. The leaves can be used fresh or dried, and in both savoury and sweet dishes - fish, chicken, vegetables as well as tea, biscuits or cakes.

Now, I take kitchen failures very personally, so I'm persisting with gluten-free + vegan here. This is because just last week I was forced to admit defeat with a gluten-free cake that looked like a wet sponge sitting in a puddle of oil. And my most recent cookie attempt at Christmas time was a gingerbread so terrifyingly brittle I had to check my tooth repeatedly for cracks.

Thankfully, these shortbread cookies have a buttery, soft bite. That makes me happy.
100g brown rice flour
50g cornflour
50g coconut flour
1 tsp xantham gum
150g dairy-free margarine
80g caster sugar
1 tsp lemon myrtle (purchased online from Outback Chef)
1 tsp vanilla extract

Preheat oven to 170 C and line a baking tray with baking paper.

In a bowl, sift together flours, gum and sugar. Add vanilla extract then add pieces of cold margarine and rub into flours. Combine and bring together into a dough ball. Roll dough into a log, wrap tightly in cling wrap and put into freezer for 1/2 hour to firm up. Unwrap and slice into 1.5 cm discs, place on tray and bake for about 10mins. They should be just golden. Let cool on wire rack.

Quandong Tea

Need a laxative? Try a quandong. The berries of this native Australian fruit tree (also referred to as wild or desert peach) were much valued by indigenous Australians for their medicinal purposes and often drunk as a tea for a bowel-cleansing effect. Quandong fruit can be eaten raw or dried, but mostly it is available in jars of dried quandong halves. You can rehydrate them in boiling water, and then cook until soft to make jam, or use in pies, cakes and tarts. Purchase online at Outback Chef - I've also seen them in Oxfam shops.

To make a mildly sweet and earthy quandong tea, steep 3 quandong halves in boiling water per cup. 

And because that is surely the tiniest recipe I ever did blog, don't leave just yet. Enjoy these quirky quandong facts courtesy of Nullabornet.com.au:

1. Fossilised Quandongs have been discovered in the coal seams of Southern Victoria. Apparently these fossils date from 40 million years ago - a time when Australia was still linked to the Antarctic continent.
2. Quandongs have a vitamin C content higher than oranges and and almost certainly saved many early Australian explorers from scurvy.
3. Quandong fruit can be dried and frozen for 8 years or more, without losing any flavour whatsoever.
4. Quandong trees possess an aromatic wood that was traditionally used by aboriginal people in "smoking ceremonies".
5. Rural Australian children often used Quandong seeds as Chinese Checker pieces.

17 January 2012

Cherry Sorbet

dairy free egg free nut free vegan gluten free
Makes 7 cups
1/2 cup raw sugar
1/2 cup water
1.4kg pitted cherries, fresh or frozen
1/4 cup lemon juice

Bring sugar and water to a boil over medium heat in a saucepan. Reduce heat to medium and cook until sugar is dissolved and texture is syrupy. It should reduce to about 2/3 cup of syrup. Transfer to a bowl and cool.
Blend the cherries in a food processor until finely pureed. Stir in lemon juice and cooled syrup. Cover and chill for a couple of hours.
Turn on the icecream maker and pour the mixture into the freezer bowl and let churn for approximately 25 minutes. Transfer the sorbet to an airtight container and place in freezer for a couple of hours to set a little firmer if desired. Remove from freezer for 5-10 minutes before serving.

Coconut Vanilla Ice Cream

dairy free egg free nut free vegan gluten free
An ice cream machine is a very useful thing in the kitchen for those with dairy and egg allergies. Not least because the range of allergy-friendly ice creams and sorbets is fairly limited in Australia when you throw in the need to be nut-free as well. So I was pleased to road-test the Cuisinart Ice-Cream, Yoghurt & Sorbet maker and resolved not to use any soy. Enter coconut (of course). 

What a luscious and rich vanilla ice cream it makes! You need to freeze the bowl before churning, which a) takes a bit of planning, and b) doesn't leave much room in a freezer if yours is stocked to the brim like mine. Still, with a few simple ingredients, it's an immensely satisfying kitchen experience. Feel free to add melted dark chocolate or cocoa powder for a choc coconut version, pureed berries or throw in some nuts if you can handle them.

Makes approximately 7 cups
1.5 cups rice milk 
1/2 cup raw sugar
3 cups coconut cream
1 tsp vanilla extract
Use a hand mixer to beat together the rice milk and raw sugar for a minute or so, until sugar is dissolved. Stir in the cream and vanilla. 
Turn the ice cream machine on, and pour in the mixture, letting churn for about 25 minutes. The ice cream will have a soft serve consistency. Transfer mixture to an air tight container and freeze for a couple of hours to firm if desired. Remove from freezer 5-10 minutes before serving.