Erica’s Story

I’ve been given the honour of reviewing a self published book by Erica Brahan “A Teenager’s Perspective on Food Restrictions”. Erica has not only written a book but she also has a blog and a facebook group for teenagers who suffer from food allergies and are on restrictive diets: Erica’s Story.

erica

This book is primarily for teenagers but it is also for their parents.  Some teenagers are not so open and willing to share their feelings, so this book gives parents an insight into how their teenager might be travelling and the types of challenges they have to deal with.

Erica’s book is about honesty and advocacy and deals with the everyday realities of dietary changes and food allergies.

front-cover

” A Teenager’s Perspective on Food Restrictions” is about :

Positivity – “the positives that come from changing your diet will far outweigh the challenges”

Perspective – this is a teenager’s perspective without the gloss. Erica is honest and she is spot on when she explains that while all age groups will have difficulties with dietary challenges, the challenges are magnified for teenagers and young adults because of all the emotional and social factors involved with this age group.

Planning – at school, going to college, social life and dating, menu planning. Erica covers lots of the practicalities, the advice that she wished someone could have given her at the start of her journey.

Patience -dietary change is a process and Erica’s honesty that “you will mess up” takes away that feeling of failure. And when you have multiple food allergies, you have to be patient with the food eliminations trials as it is worth it in the end.  “The reward of reaching your goals and being healthy will be longer than the journey of getting there”

Teenagers who have coeliac disease and must follow a gluten free diet might find these teen specific resources also helpful.

Sunday Corn

Sunday Corn

The concept for this dish comes from a very, very  mediocre dish from my boarding school days.  While the dish served up at boarding school only had a hint of bacon and the sauce was quite watery, two of my sisters and I later developed our own version of “Sunday Corn”.

Most of our family dishes start with a samfaina which is a stock standard base for many meals : olive oil, onions, garlic, capsicums, tomatoes, bacon, chicken stock. From this base, you can launch out and add meat, vegetables, rice… the options are limited only by your imagination.

Sunday Corn

Ingredients

2 teaspoons olive oil

1 tablespoon butter

1/2 large onion, finely diced

1/2 red capsicum, diced

2 rashers bacon, finely diced

2 clove garlic, finely chopped

1  tablespoons tomato paste

1 can tomatoes diced

1 tablespoon sherry

1 teaspoon chicken stock powder

1 can corn, drained

Salt and pepper to season

 

Method

Heat olive oil and butter in a medium frying pan.

Add onion and bacon and fry until onion softens.

Add capsicum and garlic and fry for 2 – 3 minutes.

Add tomatoes, tomato paste, stock powder and a tablespoon sherry.

Stir and simmer for 10 – 15 minutes until sauce is reduced.

Add corn simmer for 5 – 10 minutes.

 

Serve on toast or as a side to a meal.

 

Heinz Gluten Free Crackers

Heinz Crackers

Heinz have introduced a gluten free range of biscuits and pastas and we are finding these products now on the shelves in the supermarkets.

I haven’t tried the pasta range yet as we have settled in to San Remo as our preferred pasta for the time being.  Love to know people’s thoughts on the taste and texture of the pastas.

We have enjoyed the crackers.  They are very much like the Freelicious crackers in taste and texture.  A little pale in colour (colour being an important criteria for my gf teenager), they went well with pesto and cheese. I found it  interesting that the crackers are “Made in Italy”.

My son has struggled somewhat with finding a savoury biscuit to his liking.  He loves the Glutino Bagel Chips BUT somewhere between USA and Australia, most of the bagel chips break and so we are left with a packet of bits and pieces.

These Heinz crackers however are sturdier with very few broken crackers in the box.

 

Baked Caramel Custard

This is one of those desserts that people often put in the “too hard basket” and so see it only as a restaurant dessert.  Some days, for me,  the hardest part of the recipe is the caramel: last time I made it I crystallized the first batch and then I burnt the second batch. I was preoccupied, so the message is to keep your mind on the task when making this dessert.  The other problem can be over baking the custard.  It needs to be cooked until just set when a knife is inserted in the centre as it will continue to cook and set  as the custard cools down.Creme Caramel

I thank my mother for this recipe and for making it a dessert not to be scared of.  It was always a family dessert, nothing special except for the toffee shards which we scraped out of the bottom of the bowl.  Best made the day before.

Serve with fresh strawberries or balsamic strawberries.

Mum’s Baked Caramel Custard

Toffee

1 cup caster sugar

4 tablespoons boiling water

Combine in saucepan and stir.  Boil without stirring until golden in colour.  Do not stir as the sugar will crystallize.

Pour into 4 cup ovenproof bowl and swirl toffee around the sides of the dish.  Allow to cool.

Custard

3 eggs

2 tablespoons sugar

2 tablespoon full cream milk powder

2 cups full cream milk

1/2 teaspoon vanilla

Combine all ingredients in a bowl and beat until combined.  Pour custard  through a sieve into toffee coated bowl.

Line a baking dish with a tea towel.  Place bowl  into dish and pour boiling hot water into baking dish until 1/2 way up bowl.  Place in 180 C oven for 1 – 1 1/4 hours or until custard is just set when knife is inserted in the middle. Remove from water bath and allow to cool.  Once cooled down, refrigerate overnight.

Another option is Donna Hay’s Recipe for individual creme caramels.

A Handful of Blueberries

 

I have had a bit of fun with blueberries of late, so here are a couple of ideas using either fresh or frozen blueberries.

 Blueberry Crumble

1. Blueberry Crumble Cake

This comes from the taste.com.au Gluten Free Recipe book.  A dessert type cake, this goes wonderfully with custard.

2. Blueberry Muffins

I sprinkled the muffins with demerara sugar before baking.

Blueberry Muffins

3. Blueberry Cheesecakes

blueberry cheesecake2

4. Blueberry Cake

This is a moist and easy to make cake and presents quite beautifully.  Because of its high butter content, it is not an every day kind of recipe, but if you are looking for something a little different for an afternoon tea or special occasion, then give this one a try.

Ingredients

butter 250 g softened

caster sugar 2/3 cup

orange 1, zest, 1/2 cup juice

eggs, 3

gluten free SR flour, 1 3/4 cup

blueberries (frozen or fresh), 1 cup

Method

1. Preheat oven to moderate 180 degrees C. Lightly grease and line a 14 cm x 24 cm loaf pan with baking paper.

2. In a large bowl, using an electric mixer, beat butter and sugar together until pale and creamy.  Beat in zest.

3. Add eggs one at a time, beating well after each addition.

4. Lightly fold in flour and juice.  Fold in berries. Spoon into pan, smoothing top. (I suggest pouring half to two-thirds of the cake mixture into the pan first and then layering the blueberries before topping with remaining cake mixture.  It stops the run of colour and the blueberries sinking to the bottom)

5. Bake 55 -60 minutes until cooked when skewer comes out clean.  Cool in pan before lifting onto a wire rack to cool completely.

6. Dust lightly with gluten free icing sugar mixture.

(from Woman’s Day Gluten-free baking recipe)IMG_0735

 

 

Raspberry Dream Delight

IMG_2252

What a surprise to see a recipe on the back of a packet of frozen raspberries that not only looked easy and simple but more importantly was a recipe for which I had all the ingredients at hand.

Okay, while my photo highlights my need to have lessons in photography and styling, I must reinforce that one “shouldn’t judge a book by its cover”.  It was delicious and refreshing and  I will make it again.

My lesson of the day is that recipes will sometimes find you. Too often I find myself wasting time looking for inspiration and a new recipe.  Sometimes, however,  the best recipes aren’t from that expensive recipe book you thought you needed but are the ones that just land in your lap.

 

Raspberry Dream Delight

Ingredients

1 1/2 cups frozen raspberries

1/3 cup sweetened condensed milk

1/4 cup thickened cream

1 tablespoon lemon juice

1 tablespoon caster sugar

1 teaspoon honey (I would start with 1/2 teaspoon next time and add to taste)

Method

In a blender, combine all ingredients and blend on high speed until smooth.

Transfer to a plastic container with a lid, cover and freeze for 4 hours or until solid.

Let stand a few minutes at room temperature before serving.

A Banoffee or Three

Bananas. Cream. Caramel. Toffee.

All variations on a theme, these Banoffee recipes are  delicious and gluten free.

1. Banoffee Pavlovas

The latte coloured brown sugar pavlova is worth the effort.  I do find using a combination of custard and cream a more balanced option.

Banoffee 1

2. Banoffee Meringue Mess

Easy to assemble and while it looks a mess, the taste makes up for the lack of prettiness.

IngredientsIMG_0840

1/2 cup toffee or caramel dessert sauce (check for gluten free)

2 large bananas, thinly slices

8 pavlova nests, roughly broken

300 ml tub thickened cream, whipped (I prefer dollops of double cream and dollops of custard)

Method

1. Microwaved sauce on high for 10 seconds or until just heated through. Toss banana in sauce to coat.

2. Fold meringue and cream together until just combined.

3. Spoon half the banana mixture between 4 serving glasses/parfait glasses.  Top with half the cream mixture. Repeat layers.

(from The Courier Mail Monday June 17, 2013 Recipe by Kim Coverdale)

3. Banoffee Easy Pav

Buy store bought pavlova nests and add your combination of banana, cream, custard, caramel, toffee. 

Summer Mango Salsa

Mango Salsa

A taste of summer…

Ingredients

1 mango peeled and chopped

1 small avocado, peeled and chopped

1 small red capsicum, halved, deseeded, finely chopped

½ red onion, finely chopped

1 tablespoon lime juice

1 tablespoon shredded mint

1 teaspoon finely sliced red chilli, optional

Method

Combine all ingredients in a bowl and season.

 

 

Gluten Free Snacks

Angus Park Harvest Box

As gluten free shoppers, we tend to be focussed on specific aisles in the supermarket, shopping specifically for ‘our’ foods. Sometimes this means that we don’t see ‘new’ products that might also be gluten free.

Found in the baking/cooking aisle of Coles supermarket during the week, in the dried fruit section, are these two products.

The Angus Park chocolate and yoghurt covered fruit are variations to the Frugos I buy for my son’s lunch box.  So it is good to know there is a bit more variety now available.  I love the chocolate coated sultanas, but my teenager did find the dark chocolate a little rich.   We are still to try the other two varieties.

The Harvest Box snack packs also found themselves in the trolley.  The combinations of fruit and nut are a little more diverse than similar products on the market. Have a look at their website as they also have an on-line ordering service delivering a Harvest Box to your desk.

Ricotta Dumplings

Ricotta Dumplings 2

This is a Brent Savage recipe taken from one of the many food magazines I read.  I am that person in the doctor’s waiting room who asks the receptionist if she would mind photocopying a recipe from one of their magazines.  I am that person at the hairdresser’s salon who asks if I can take a magazine home to copy a recipe.  And I am one of those people who have a bulldog clip jammed with recipes I hope to make one day.

These ricotta dumplings are much more sophisticated than donuts or churros, and by substituting gluten free flour, it comes close to being a gluten free yummy sugar coated deep fried ball of deliciousness.  Add a dipping sauce of Dulce de Leche or Bonne Maman’s Caramel Sauce for a little extra decadence.

Ricotta Dumplings 1

 

Ricotta Dumplings

Ingredients

250 g ricotta

finely grated rind of 1 1/2 oranges

1 egg

1 egg yolk

40 g plain flour (substitute gluten free plain flour)

1/4 teaspoon bicarb of soda

vegetable oil for deep frying

cinnamon sugar to serve (combine caster sugar and ground cinnamon to taste)

Method 

Combine ricotta, orange rind, egg and egg yolk in a bowl and mix until smooth.  Sieve flour and bicarb of soda into bowl and fold to just combine.  Cover and stand for 1 hour.

Heat oil in a large, deep saucepan or deep fryer to 170C.  Spoon tablespoons of mixture in batches into deep fryer and cook, turning occasionally for 2 minutes or until golden brown.  Serve dumplings immediately, dusted with cinnamon sugar.

Ricotta Dumplings

 

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