Wednesday 9 January 2008

GF delights and fairy bites

We had a family bbq on the weekend at my brother Andy’s place and I said I would make a cake because we were celebrating two birthdays (Erica’s and Dean’s) and my parents’ wedding anniversary. My family caters for me at bbqs but I like to contribute and to take the opportunity to try out new things. So I also made a tex-mex salad and some gluten free muffins. I managed to make all these in the morning before we saw my family at lunchtime because the previous day was so hot (37 C) I couldn’t bear to turn on the oven.

Since my 3 year old niece, Grace, was diagnosed as a celiac, I have been trying to find something I could bake for her. But she does not have a sweet tooth. Every gluten free cake or cookie I have made does not interest Grace but is eaten in delight by her sister, Ella. So I decided to try these savoury muffins which I saw Heidi post on 101 Cookbooks. Heidi got it from the wonderful Rose Elliot, and inspired Kalyn, while Pille had another version. So it seems that this is a popular recipe of the moment.

I did a plain version of these, having seen too many kids turn up their nose at some funny taste or bits. Heidi added ¼ cup each of sundried tomatoes and fresh basil which I would like to try another time. She also suggests enticing alternatives such as pesto, olives, potatoes and rosemary. I also did them in mini-muffin tins because small is attractive to kids (and minimises waste). As I filled the first pan I wondered at no oil and double-checked the recipe only to find I had not put in the water. I put the water and a tsp of oil for the second pan of muffins and, frankly, there wasn’t much difference.

Heidi warns that these aren’t like normal muffins but are more like a quiche or “souffle's heartier, denser, more portable cousin”. When hot they were a bit quiche-like for me but cold they took on a denser texture. You wont often hear me say this but I thought these were better cold than fresh out of the oven. Having said that, I really liked them and so did my family.

Grace screwed up her nose as usual but, surprisingly, came around to trying the muffins. Finally she began to take tiny fairy-sized bites. She is a wee fairy, and with her sisters (Maddy and Ella), cast many spells with her paper fairy wand and even used the fairy mobile phone to ring Elf the Cake Baker. I even heard that after I left she had another muffin!

The chocolate cake was easy and delicious. I just melted and mixed the ingredients and this was out of the oven by 8.30am. No separating eggs and beating egg whites was required. The recipe made a small flat cake which looked a little stingy for a big family group. But it was so rich that small slices were adequate. It was a little undercooked in the middle when I took it out but I didn’t worry as I quite like a gooey chocolatey centre. Everyone loved this cake – even the kids! It is the sort of cake that would go well with a dollop of cream and a swirl of raspberry coulis.

The salad is one I had made before – I wasn’t quite sure I had the dressing exactly right but it is one that is substantial enough to not need much accompaniment. It is from an Australian food magazine but I’m not sure which one. We served it with the corn chips crumbled on top which was interesting texture but had to be done just before serving – when left sitting for a bit the chips went soggy and were much less appetising. On the way home, I was pleased that Ewan said he liked the salad because that was dinner as well - accompanied by vegetarian sausages.

Tex Mex Salad
(serves 6-8 says the recipe, I would say it serves a crowd!)

400g tin of corn kernels, drained
200-300g tin of kidney beans, drained
3 tomatoes diced (about 3 cups)
1 cup green spring onions (about 2-3), finely chopped
¼ cup fresh parsley or coriander, chopped
2-3 outer leaves of iceberg lettuce, finely sliced
1 avocado, chopped (optional)
100-150g plain corn chips, to serve*

juice of two limes
1 green chilli, finely chopped
2 tsp ground cumin
1 garlic clove, crushed
¾ cup olive oil (I didn’t use)
seasoning (I used ½ tsp salt and pepper mixture)

* If you want salad to be gluten free, make sure the corn chips are gluten free – most plain ones are because they are just corn, salt and oil. I used low-salt ones which was fine.

Place salad vegetables in large salad bowl. Make salad dressing by mixing all ingredients in a small bowl. Add to salad and toss to coat with dressing. This can be prepared hours beforehand (but you should wait til serving before adding avocado). When ready to serve crumble corn chips over salad.

Cheesy almond muffins
(Adapted from Rose Elliot’s Supercook as featured in 101 Cookbooks)
Makes 20-24 mini muffins

1 cup plain cottage cheese
½ cup parmesan cheese, freshly grated
¼ cup soy flour*
1 cup (100g) ground almonds**
1 teaspoon baking powder
4 eggs, lightly beaten
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/4 cup water (optional)
Extra grated parmesan cheese for sprinkling (approx ¼ cup)

* Heidi suggests using plain white wheat flour, or you could use a gluten free flour mix
**for nut free version, try substituting ½ cup flax seed meal and ½ cup ground pumpkin seeds

Preheat oven to 200 C degrees. If not using silicone mini-muffin moulds, line muffin pan(s) with paper liners. I find the silicone moulds don’t even need greasing.

Mix all ingredients together in a bowl. Then spoon the mixture into muffin pans (each muffin cup should be about ¾ full). Sprinkle with parmesan cheese.

Bake for about 25 minutes (or 30-35 minutes if you use regular muffin pans) until golden brown. Leave 5 minutes and then cool on a wire rack. Serve warm for eggy quiche taste and cold if you like it less eggy!

One Bowl Flourless Chocolate Cake
(From Chris Silker at

125g (4 ounces) dark chocolate,chopped (I used Lindt 70%)
125g (½ cup) butter or margarine
¾ cup castor sugar
3 eggs, lightly beaten
½ cup unsweetened cocoa (I used dutch cocoa)

Preheat oven to 190 C. Grease and line an 18 or 20 cm round cake tin.

Place chocolate and butter in a medium bowl and melt in the microwave (should be no more than 1 ½ minutes – less if the weather is so hot that the chocolate is already starting to melt). Give a good stir after a minute in the microwave as it will continue melting after coming out of microwave – if needed return for another 15-30 seconds.Add sugar and mix well. Add eggs and mix well. Sift cocoa onto mix and stir until just mixed.

Spoon into prepared pan and bake for 25 minutes. When I put a skewer in the middle of the cake after 25 minutes, it was not quite clean, but I took the cake out anyway. This sort of cake is even more delicious if it is a little gooey in the middle (actually you could probably just eat the mixture without baking because it tastes so good). Sit in pan 5 minutes and turn onto a wire rack to cool.

On the stereo:
The Best of: The Pogues


  1. I had a lovely (purchased) savoury muffin for lunch on the weekend and should really think about baking some of my own.

    You do so well with your gluten-free baking - how unusual to have a little girl so uninterested in sweets!

  2. thanks Cindy - I too enjoyed a savoury muffin for lunch a few days ago. Yes, it is strange that my little niece doesn't fancy sweet food much but I think maybe it is partly the effect of being diagnosed as a celiac at age 2 and never knowing cakes and biscuits - she loves freddo frogs but is never interested in eating baked food!

  3. Yum! That cake looks scrumptious! I can't wait to try a sugar-free version.

  4. Happy New Year, Johanna!

    To be so generous as an aunt in taking the time to cater to Grace's needs is wonderful. Funny that you self-cater in spite of your family's effeots too - perhaps that's why Grace's needs matter so much to you; your own eating has taught you to be generous to those whose food requirements differ from the so-called 'norm'.

    That salad looks fabulous!

  5. Johanna, I could not get that chocolate torte out of my mind, so I made a sugar-free version today and OH. MY. GOD. I did add a pinch of cinnamon and a pinch of cayenne and it left just a touch of spice in the mouth after eating... lovely. Absolutely lovely.

  6. thanks Mrs W - you are keen - glad you enjoyed the cake - am sure the spice would enhance the flavours - did you substitute anything for the sugar or just leave it out?

    thanks Lucy - I agree that I want to cater for Grace's GF diet because I sympathise as a vegetarian - I guess in our family we all give as much as we can in our own different ways - mine is food!

  7. Yes--I used 4 oz unsweetened chocolate and 1 scant cup of Whey Low, which is what I use as a sugar substitute.

    The added spice gave no noticable flavor whilst eating the cake, but left that lingering spiciness in the mouth that was just right.

    I plan to do a blog post about it--of course I took a photo--at some point in the near future, and of course I'll link to your post.

  8. thanks Mrs W - will look forward to your post

  9. Sounds like a great time Johanna! I am glad you found something nice and yummy for your niece - what a great auntie you are!

  10. thanks Jen - actually, I think I am lucky to have 4 beautiful nieces - who wouldn't want to cook for them!

  11. All the food you prepared looks delicous. I particuarly like the sound of the beany salad and from others have said that chocolate cake is not to be missed.

  12. thanks Katie - it was all good stuff - but the cake was indeed a deliciously wonderful indulgence that I would recommend everyone try :-)

  13. I remember reading about those muffins and being interested. Thanks for reminding me!
    And I'll be trying out the salad come summer too. :)

  14. Glad you liked the cake! I have a glaze recipe for it, too. And adding whipped cream turns it into pure heaven.

  15. thanks for the recipe chris - hope to be making it again - maybe even with that glaze which looks amazing!

  16. I've now made the chocolate cake recipe several times--the most recent being yesterday, this time adding 1 T vanilla extract (no cinnamon or cayenne), and used xylitol instead of sugar. Then I split the cooled cake and filled it with a thick sugar-free chocolate mousse and sliced strawberries, topped with some SF sweetened cocoa whipped cream and a drizzle of SF chocolate syrup for a birthday cake. How absolutely sinful. Divine.

    Many thanks once again for this versatile recipe. It has made my sugar-free lifestyle more liveable.

  17. thanks Mrs W - I think someone was very lucky to get this for their birthday cake - sounds great - I am impressed this has become a regular cake for you - I's be very happy to eat it regularly :-)

  18. What a lucky girl your little niece is! Funny -- I just did a birthday dinner for my older son who was diagnosed with Celiac's too. WE did have meat with our dinner, though. But I, too used one of Heidi's dishes (smashed potatoes) and a flourless chocolate cake which was delicious just like yours. The Tex-Mex salad looks scrumptious and so do those savory muffins. I agree the sun-dried tomatoes and basil would be a great thing to try in them.

  19. thanks Kelly - I will have to check out the smashed potatoes. I would recommend the sun dried tomatoes as I have tried them since this post and they were delicious


Thanks for dropping by. I love hearing from you. Please share your thoughts and questions. Annoyingly the spammers are bombarding me so I have turned on the pesky captcha code (refresh to find an easy one if you don't like the first one)