Posts Tagged ‘cooking’

Going Bananas Over Monkey Bread

My recipe book of all my favs.

As most of you already know, I love Quirky Cooking. It is very handy if you have a Thermomix, but you can definitely make the recipes without one – you will just need to adjust them….and it will take you longer to make. I enjoy trying her recipes and feeding them to my husband. He seems to enjoy it too 🙂 Today after a big day out in Noosa, I decided I felt like doing a bit of a cook-fest when we got home, so I had a go at creating her delicious-looking Monkey Bread. I have never baked or eaten Monkey Bread before, so this would be fun! Luckily she has pictures on her blog too.

Me making Monkey Bread (shame 'bread' doesn't start with 'M').

Here it is straight from her blog, with a scattering of my pics. Any alterations of mine are written in green.

Monkey Bread Recipe

1. Make a batch of Hot Cross Bun Dough, but leave the Rapadura (or sugar) out – you won’t need it, since it’s going to be rolled in Rapadura anyway. Or if you like you can just use plain bread dough. (I make my dough wheat and dairy free, but you can use just a regular hot cross bun recipe if you want to.) Let the dough rise in a warm spot until doubled in size.

The hot cross bun mixture used for the Monkey Bread.

2. Melt about a cup of butter or ghee in the Thermomix at 80 degrees, 2 minutes, speed 2 (or until all melted). Pour into a bowl. [If using rice-almond milk instead of butter, warm it up a little.]

3. Prepare tins by greasing with a little butter/ghee (I just used cold-pressed olive oil spray cause I am lazy). I used 6 mini Bundt tins, and 1 loaf tin. You could use 2 loaf tins, or 1 big Bundt tin. (I used a round cake tin and three ramekins which sat in a try of water in the oven. You can use any tin you like though!).

4. In another bowl, mix together about a cup of Rapadura and 2-3 teaspoons of ground cinnamon.

5. Pinch off small pieces of dough, roll them into balls, and roll them in the melted butter (and/or milk)…… then in the cinnamon-Rapadura mixture.

Dunk and rub.

6. Place the balls into the prepared tins, using smaller balls to fill in spaces. Only fill half full and then let them rise until they’re nearly at the top of the tin.

Putting the balls into the tin.

7. Drizzle with any remaining butter/ghee/milk.

8. Place in a cold oven and turn it on to 180 degrees C, and cook for about 30 minutes (depending on how big the tins are you’re using). They should be nicely browned when done.

9. Let them cool for about 5 minutes, then tip them out, upside down, onto a plate.

The finished product 🙂

The result: a very happy husband scoffing down warm Monkey Bread with Jersey cream. I am definitely making this again for Christmas (the cinnamon & nutmeg aroma adds that special Chrissy feel).

Sugar-Free, Starch-Free and a bit Dairy-Free

I have been ‘free’ of all these for over 2 months now and I feel so much better for it! For sweetness I am using Stevia, which is a natural plant sweetener. I will go back to using honey, Agave and Rapadura in a few weeks but for now I am happy without.

During this time, I noticed that one of my favourite blogs ‘Quirky Cooking’, which my friend Laura introduced me to, was creating dairy-free, grain-free and sugar-free recipes in a bid to get rid of the colds and sicknesses her family were experiencing.  Her recipes are always delicious, but one of my favourites was her ‘Grain Free Sultana Spice Bread’. I like to heat it up and put some butter on it (which I make in my Tilly Thermomix – told you I was a bit dairy-free…there are some things a girl can’t live without, mainly milk in my coffee!).

So here is the recipe which is made using a Thermomix, but if you don’t have one you can easily adjust. You can find the original recipe here at Quirky Cooking.

1. Grind up in Thermomix on speed 8 for 10 seconds:  200g raw almonds

2. Add the pecans and chop on speed 5 for 6 seconds: 120g raw pecans (or use hazelnuts for a low salicylate version)
   Remove the ground nuts to a bowl and set aside.

3. Place in the Thermomix bowl the following ingredients, and mix on speed 6 for 10 seconds:
– 60g coconut butter
– 1 apple, quartered (no need to peel)
– 5 large (or 4 very large) free range eggs
– 50g macadamia oil (or grapeseed, or other light oil)
– 1 tbspn lemon juice (or 2 tsp apple cider vinegar)
– 3/4 tsp bicarb soda
– pinch of fine sea salt
– 1 Tblspn ground cinnamon
– 1 tsp ground nutmeg
– 1 tsp ground ginger
– 50g raw honey (optional) – I left this out

4. Scrape down sides and add the ground nuts back in to the mixture, with the sultanas, and mix for a few more seconds on speed 6: 100g sultanas

5. Pour into the lined tin and bake at 160 degrees for an hour or so, until risen and browned; a skewer poked down into the centre of the bread will come out clean when it’s ready.

6. Let the bread cool for 10 minutes before removing carefully from the tin. Pull it up with the paper so you don’t break it. It will firm up as it cools.

Note: If you won’t use it within a day or two, it can be sliced thinly, frozen in loose layers, then when completely frozen, wrapped and kept frozen to use a slice at a time.

Introducing Tilly!

Tilly busy telling Sidney Poitier off!

I first loved the name Tilly when my friend and I were watching ‘Guess Who’s Coming To Dinner’ starring Katharine Hepburn.  In the movie, they introduce the maid who spends most of the time in the kitchen organising dinner.  I leant over to my friend and said, “wouldn’t it be amazing to have a Tilly?  You just get dressed for dinner and all the work is done for you!”.  My friend smiled and said one word, “Thermomix”.

So without further adieu, let me introduce you to my Tilly.


Isn’t she beautiful! Tilly is my Thermomix. Here she is making us an omelette while I am busy in the bathroom straightening my hair.

Thermomix? I hear you ask. Let me blow your mind. She is an expensive piece of equipment who is worth her weight in gold…a milliion, trillion, gazillion pieces of gold. I wish I had bought her years ago! She is a machine that I have always dreamed of and only found out about at the end of last year.  Since then I have been wanting one! From non-cooker to I-can’t stop-myself-cooker, my life has changed.

Tilly can do the following with the push of a button and a turn of a dial – chop, beat, mix, whip, grind, knead, mince, grate, juice, blend, heat, stir, steam and weigh food.  I have been selling all my old kitchen stuff (juicer, rice cooker, blender, food processor, bread maker, mixer, scales, etc) and Tilly has pride of place on my counter.  I use it three or more times a day.

The kitchen appliance that has changed my life

I can put uncooked pasta and vegies inside Tilly (sounds a bit weird) and she will chop and cook to perfection while I get other things done around the place. She won’t burn a single thing.

These are some of the things that I (I mean Tilly) have made so far –

  • bacon and mushroom risotto (while I sat on the couch with mum & a glass of white)
  • countless quantities of vanilla custard (while I cleaned the kitchen/put the eggs, flour, milk, vanilla extract & honey away – I only had 7 minutes until the custard was ready!)
  • sweet chilli sauce (forget the preservative stuff from the shop – this stuff is WAAAAAY better)
  • chilli con carne (while I had a shower & hopped into my PJ’s. Yes, Tilly cooks the meat too.  She is so clever)
  • the omelette in the above photo
  • Juice (orange juice with all the seeds – just peel. Carrot, apple and ginger juice – apple core and all). No wastage here, all the fibre and you don’t need as much fruit.
  • sticky rice dessert (while hubby and I sat and had coffee on our patio)
  • beetroot salad (quick, delicious lunch while tidying up the house)
  • Sorbet (using organic rapadura sugar, ice, frozen berries and lime in no time!)

My most favourite thing about Tilly the Thermomix is that you can eat foods in its most natural state. If I want Rice Flour, Tilly will whip it up for me from plain old rice! I can make my own peanut butter, butter, mayo, choc sauce, bread, etc. It is amazing for people with allergies too.  Hello gluten-free world!

Here is a sample of what Tilly can do –

There is so much I could tell you. I don’t want to write a long post here (cause who likes endless reading right?), but if you own a Thermomix please comment below on your favourite thing about this amazing machine 🙂

The Perfect Flavoured Vegie Lasagne

Many years ago we dined on this at a friend’s place and we have been cooking it ever since.  Sometimes I cook it for friends, weekly lunches, shabbat meal, or when we just feel like something warm and hearty! Usually with a glass of red.

You can add your choice of meat if you wish, but I like to cook it without (although lamb mince is amazing too). My husband thinks all dinners should have some kind of meat/fish, but he seems to like this….probably the sour cream 🙂

So what’s in it? Gluten-free lasagne sheets (not too great on the top as it puffs up), sweet potato, normal potato, zucchini, squash, sour cream, tomato pasta sauce, eggplant, mushrooms, cheese, oregano and thyme (this time from my garden!).  I just layer it up in a square dish and pop it on the oven….not too high cause you don’t want the sour cream to curdle and it is ideal to have the vegies cook through too!

Gluten-free lasagne sheets - just from Coles.

Herbs from MY garden! So nice to not buy them. Oregano and Basil.

Some of the layering.

Atlantic Salmon

One of my friends passed on this amazingly delicious recipe for cooking Atlantic Salmon.

Mix olive oil, ginger (I used crushed ginger from the jar for this one), honey, cayenne pepper, chilli peppers (I didn’t have any so used flakes).

Put salmon in tray and cover with alfoil.  Cook.  You can put eggplant, sweet potato (my favourite is the purple skinned sweet potato….so sweet!), carrots etc squeezed into the tray beside the salmon.

Once salmon is cooked, I like to take the alfoil off and give it some time cooking without it so the skin on the salmon goes crunchy.

The flavours are incredible, and this has now become my favourite way to eat Atlantic Salmon.

That’s it! I’ve had it!! (going gluten-free)

I am kind of chucking a bit of a “tanty” here…at myself!

In 2006, my husband and I went with a group of people over to Fiji on a mission trip.  We visited some very remote islands and like all foreign places, told to be careful with the drinking water…basically don’t consume it at all!  So we didn’t drink the water, but I HAD to brush my teeth in it one night after a massive evening of ministry at the local church.  In my tiredness I had forgotten the golden rule and paid for it by spending the night and early hours of the morning in the most agony I have experienced up to that point in my life.  Incredible stomach cramps that were like many tiny knives striking my lower abdomen, vomiting, diarrhoea….it was so so painful!   I spent the entire night outside in the pitch black stillness under the stars trying to stop myself from crying out from the pain in my gut.  The next day our mission team was flying off the island to head back to the main land. As soon as we landed at Nadi airport my sickness had basically gone……but I was forever after that to experience chronic tummy problems.

Me dancing at the local church on the island. This was the teeth brushing night that would change my gut forever.

The morning after my 'all nighter' still sick and crampy. It was horrible! This Fijian lady made me fresh lemon and sugar concentrate to sip and it really helped before we boarded the mini plane.

The morning after we left my sick island which is really named Koro Island and it is a magical place. Little did I know that Weetbix and white bread would be a thing of the past!

That Fiji moment is the pin-point in time of when I began my struggle with tummy pains, headaches, fuzziness and extreme tiredness.  I didn’t realise this until last year when I had my first miscarriage and blamed myself thinking my body was just retarded and couldn’t hack building a baby.  So, all down on myself I headed to a naturopath thinking I needed something to sort myself out. I knew I had issues with my tummy and I was significantly more tired than usual, but I had been tested for various things through the doctor I was seeing at the time and nothing had come up except that I had chronic hypoglycaemia..later linked to my gut problem. My naturopath did many more tests that were more thorough and it was discovered that I was gluten intolerant, and he even threw in the word ‘coeliac’ although I never ended getting fully tested for that.  He said there was a time that I had picked up a bug and it was playing havoc with my system. Gluten was feeding it and had caused me to become intolerant to the stuff. The original tests I had through my old doctor couldn’t detect the bug as it was too small. My naturopath instructed me on how to eat so that I eliminated all gluten and temporarily dairy as well (dairy is very hard for an already weak digestive system to absorb and break down). Within a few days, I felt incredible!!  My tummy pains went, I woke up in the morning full of life and with a clear head.  Energy was just pouring out of me! I lost so much swelling from my body that weight was just dropping off me. Basically, I had previously been unable to absorb any nutrients from my food as my digestive system was very damaged from the gluten I had been eating and the water I was drinking was not being absorbed either. My body just wasn’t functioning properly.  Chronic Hypoglycemia was caused by a lack of sugars and nutrients also, so it was all linked. One thing we were to discover later was that my miscarriage had nothing to do with this – a bit of a relief back then.

After a couple of months, things got a little fuzzy for me.  I discovered the world of gluten-free products such as bread, pasta, biccies, etc and even though they were gluten-free, they began to give me slight tummy issues anyway. I was finding it hard to eat out, travel, and entertain people…or be entertained at people’s homes.  I know now that this was due to my lack of knowledge in how to live a gluten-free life, and this is where my “tanty” comes into play. I am so mad at myself for letting something so debilitating beat me cause I felt it was too hard.  I now feel back to the gross way I did before and this whole time I knew I shouldn’t be eating gluten.  I have been ignoring it and putting up with the consequences with gritted teeth and clutching my tummy. How could someone be so destructive to their own body when they know what needs to be done….and has experienced the positives before!

An interesting article has been written by the Sydney Morning Herald about how people can be intolerant to gluten and have a negative coeliac test result .  I am also educating myself through other people’s blogs.  I love reading real people’s perspectives on their trials and errors in finding what works for them rather than from a company or scientist pushing their product.

So, I have come to the crossroads and I am choosing to get educated and serious and live life fully and properly again. The excuse of it being too hard is crap and doesn’t fly with me any more.  It is time to grown up and take control.

Wish me luck.

Stringy Pasta Phobia?

I see a bit of an unplanned pattern happening for my favourite food five-post series – Poached Eggs, Potatoes, Pasta…what’s next?! It is totally unintentional. I absolutely, whole heartedly, love pasta.  In particular, the tomato kind.  It will always have a place in my kitchen.  Even when I was a little girl, it was high on my list of yummy din dins. It is so filling and versatile and makes me feel like I have had a good dose of real, hearty food.  It is easy to cook, it is cheap, most people like it, you can add so many things to it,  you make a big batch of it for lunches and other lazy dinners, and everyone usually has some pasta hanging out in their pantry – along with some sauce. Surely?

When my husband and I started dating 12 years ago, he came over for his first ever meal at my parents place. In true Burchill style we had pasta for dinner. I just assumed that my new, hot boyfriend would LOVE pasta just like me….I mean who doesn’t right?  Not until much later, my now-husband tells me that he will never forget that first meal with my folks.  Sitting there at the dinner table, with a meal that he knew he couldn’t wrangle with the common fork/spoon technique most of us are talented with. He never really ate that much pasta growing up, and therefore sat at the table and watched us eat, while trying his best to copy without it going everywhere.

Early days in our relationship

Nowadays when I make pasta, I usually forgo the messiest types (string spaghetti) for my hubby’s comfort, and head more towards the penne, shells or spirals.  Tastes all the same to me, so who cares. Keeps everyone feeling coordinated at the dinner table.  I have had to make the switch from normal pasta to Gluten Free pasta after I discovered how sick gluten can make me.  We both actually prefer the taste of the GF stuff. I came across this recipe some time last year, tore it our of the mag and pasted it into my recipe scrapbook.  I cooked it for the first time tonight and it was perfecto!  Approvals all round.  It was that easy that you only dirty one saucepan and a stirrer as you cook the entire thing in one pot.  This gave me time to sip a glass of red and rock out to some Roxette tunes playing in the background.

  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • 1 onion, finely chopped
  • 500g beef mince (I like to use lamb mince)
  • 400g pasta sauce
  • 1/2 cup chopped mushrooms (I use over 1 cup of mushies cause we love them!)
  • 1/2 cup red wine
  • 1/2 cup  water (I used about 1 cup all up as I put in more pasta)
  • 1 1/2 cup small pasta (I like using the Gluten Free Penne pasta)
  • chopped parsley (from our garden!)
  • grated parmesan to serve (I just used light Tasty cheese)
  1. Heat oil in a large saucepan on high.  Saute onion for 2-3 minutes until tender.
  2. Add mince. Brown well, breaking up with the back of a spoon as it cooks. Stir in the sauce, mushrooms, wine and water. Bring to the boil.
  3. Reduce heat. Stir in pasta. Simmer for 15-20 minutes, stirring occasionally until pasta is tender. Season to taste. Serve immediately topped with parsley and parmesan, if liked.

I know it is a crazy idea to COOK a meal during such hot, sticky, humid weather that we have been having this past week.  We grabbed our pasta, and had a picnic together on the floor of the living room with the air conditioner on full!

In case you want to listen to some Roxette as you cook this meal, here you go –