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Gluten-free and Low FODMAPs recipes

November 18, 2011

Well, exam time is over, so while I’m nervously awaiting results, time to kick this blog back to life.

I’m currently cooking for someone with suspected fructose malabsorption (a condition where the normal absorption of fructose – a type of sugar found in wheat, fruits and vegetables – in the bowel is impaired, leading to symptoms of Irritable Bowel Syndrome), so expect to see a few gluten-free and low FODMAPs (Fermentable Oligo-, Di- and Mono-saccharides and Polyols, if you must know) recipes popping up in here.

I should note that fructose malabsorption doesn’t actually entail a gluten intolerance particularly, but wheat is definitely a problem; going gluten-free is an effective way of dealing with this.

All low FODMAPs recipes will be categorized as such, so if you’re looking for them specifically, check the categories menu on the right.

Some of these recipes are from, or inspired by, those found in the excellent Gluten Free Cooking by Dr Sue Shepherd, an Advanced Accredited Practising Dietitian and Accredited Nutritionist, Senior Lecturer for Monash University Department of Medicine, senior researcher within the Department of Gastroenterology at Box Hill Hospital in Melbourne, and, not coincidentally, a sufferer of coeliac disease.

I highly recommend the book – if nothing else, it has the best chocolate pudding recipe! Her website is here: Shepherd Works.


Almost there …

November 7, 2011

Hi folks, just taking a break from studying for my last exam for the semester, tomorrow, so expect posting to resume forthwith!

Exam time

October 24, 2011

Off to sit my first exam in about 25 years.

Noodle Soup with Pork Balls and Onion Pancakes

October 19, 2011

This soup is incredibly filling and a good way to get some green vegetables into kids almost without them realising it. I sometimes vary the vegetables according to what I have handy in the vegie crisper, but the ones I’ve included here are pretty much the constants.

The pork ball soup recipe is my own concoction, mashed up from a few different Thai/Vietnamese recipes, and a bit of guesswork as to what’s gone into similar dishes I’ve eaten.

The onion pancake recipe is from Kenneth Lo’s, well, encyclopaedic, Encyclopedia of Regional Chinese Cooking, which I bought way back in 1984. A great book if you can find it. I’ve barely made a tenth of the recipes in it, I should think.

I apologise if a lot of the amounts are somewhat provisional. I tend to revise the amounts up and down, depending on how many I’m cooking for, what I have to hand, and, frankly, just instinct.

The pancakes aren’t strictly necessary, but I do find they tend to be a popular accompaniment with the soup. They’re also pretty good on their own, especially rolled up with a drizzle of sweet chilli sauce.

What do I need?

Pork Balls

  • 500-750g minced pork
  • 1 Egg
  • 2 tbsp plain flour
  • 1-2 Spring onions (scallions)
  • 1 tbsp coriander (cilantro) or Vietnamese mint
  • 2 tsp minced ginger
  • 1 tbsp soy sauce
  • 1 tbsp fish sauce

For a vegetarian option, try replacing the pork balls with some marinated tempeh. Chicken mince also goes well.


  • 1-3 packets (usually about 200-250g each) of noodles.
    Use Hokkien, Udon, Singapore, those flat rice noodles, whatever. Even 2 minute noodles, if that’s all you’ve got!
  • 3 or 4 Spring onions
  • 1 or 2 small chillis
  • 1 tsp minced ginger
  • 4-6 cups (1 – 1 1/2 litres) of chicken stock
  • 1/2 Wong Bok (Chinese cabbage)
  • 1 or 2 Bok Choy
  • 1/2 Cup or so of sliced green beans
    (or small handful of snow peas aka mangetout)
  • 1 or maybe 2 finely sliced (julienned) carrots
  • 1-3 packets (usually about 200-250g each) of noodles.
    Use Hokkien, Udon, Singapore, those flat rice noodles, whatever. Even 2 minute noodles, if that’s all you’ve got!


  • 3 cups plain flour
  • 1 cup boiling water
  • 1 cup cold water
  • 2 or 3 large onions, finely chopped
  • 1 1/2 tbsp salt

What do I do?

I find it easiest to start the pancakes first.

The Pancakes

Sift the flour into a bowl, and then pour in the boiling water, stirring all the time to make a stiff dough (the boiling water will help burst the starch grains and make the flour softer). Add the cold water until the dough is cool enough to handle, then knead it until it’s smooth. Cover it and rest it for about 30 minutes. While the dough is resting, chop the onions, and start preparing the pork balls and vegetables for the soup.

When the dough has rested, roll it into a long sausage and divide it up into about 10 pieces. Roll each piece into a ball, then roll it flat with a rolling pin into about a 10cm (3-4 inch) pancake. Mix the salt with the chopped onion, and sprinkle each pancake with onion. Fold the edges of the pancake into the middle, and then roll it flat into a pancake again.

Fry each pancake on both sides in a little oil, until they’re golden (well, golden with black/brown spots everywhere). Stack them on a plate and leave in a warm oven.

The Pork Balls

Chop the spring onions, and combine with the pork, egg, flour, coriander, ginger and sauces.

Heat some oil in a fry pan. Pick up a small handful of the mince mixture, shape it into a rough ball, and fry it in the oil. Cook the balls in batches in the frypan until they’re all done. Put them on a plate in the warm oven until you’re ready to serve.

The Soup

If you’re reasonably dextrous in the kitchen, you should be able to get the soup happening at the same time as you’re frying the pork balls. If you’re still a little unsure about juggling two jobs at once, wait until you’ve fried all the pork balls before you take on the soup. They’ll keep fine in the oven until the soup is done.

If you’re using flat rice noodles or Singapore noodles, you’ll need to set a pot of water boiling, and quickly cook them while you prepare the soup. Udon or Hokkien noodles can usually be prepared just by steeping them in a bowl of boiling hot water for a few minutes, until they’re softened, then drain of the water.

Chop the spring onions and chillis, and quickly fry them in a little hot oil, with the minced ginger.

Pour in the stock, and bring it to the boil. Reduce the stock to a simmer, add the rest of the vegetables, and cook them for a few minutes until they’re just cooked. You really don’t need to cook the vegetables much at all. If they’re heated through, then they’re done!

When the soup is ready, season it to taste, and then stir through the noodles.

Dish the vegetables and noodles into a bowl, add a couple of the pork balls, and pour some more broth over all. Serve with the pancakes.

How to eat Vegemite

October 16, 2011
vegemite on toast

A guide for the perplexed non-Australian.

Vegemite is, as every Australian knows, the food of the Gods. The delicious, salty black food of the Gods.

As one of the world’s richest known sources of B vitamin (especially thiamine, riboflavin, niacin and folic acid), Vegemite is mandatory consumption for Australian children, but it has untold benefits for adults, too. Vegemite on white toast is not only a staple food group for when you’re feeling sick, but it is also perhaps the only food that can safely be consumed during a hangover (after a glass of Berocca, of course).

Vegemite was the first product to be electronically scanned in an Australian store – in April 1984, a 115g jar of Vegemite priced at 66 cents was scanned in Woolworth at Chullora NSW.

I also have a strong personal connection to Vegemite: it was invented in the same year my Dad was born, 1922, and my parents actually met at the Kraft factory in Port Melbourne, where Vegemite is still manufactured today.

Plus Vegemite is made from the by-products of beer brewing – how bloody Australian is that?

It’s no wonder that Vegemite is found in 90 percent of Australian homes.

Sadly, though, the rest of the world just doesn’t seem to be able to embrace the gooey black superfood that is Vegemite. Our American friends seem particularly deaf to the charms of the Great Aussie Spread.

But I think I’ve solved the problem. Watch this video, especially from 5:29:

I think we can all see the problem here.

Americans seem to think that Vegemite is like peanut butter, consequently they slather on ridiculous amounts of it. That’s just crazy talk. You’ve probably heard of certain chemical compounds that are deadly in large doses, but in very small doses are actually good for you? Vegemite is exactly the same.

So, let’s have a look at how to eat Vegemite properly.

What do I need?

  • Fresh white bread
  • Butter (not margarine, not ‘I can’t believe it’s not some vile chemical concoction’)
  • Vegemite

What do I do?

You can, of course, start with the iconic Vegemite sandwich first brought to the world by Men At Work, but for the non-Australian taking their first, tentative paddle in the delicious, salty black Vegemite sea, I’d recommend Vegemite on toast. Although, once you’ve acquired the taste, there is absolutely nothing on God’s good earth like a thick slice of the freshest Vienna bread, graced with butter and Vegemite. My family has been known to consume an entire Vienna loaf in one sitting, in this way.

Lightly toast two slices of bread. You really just want the bread to be golden, not too dark, and definitely not burnt.

Spread the bread liberally with butter.

Now, load your knife with about a small amount of Vegemite. About a teaspoonful is a good amount, although the Vegemite novice might be advised to start off at the lighter end of the scale.

Scrape the Vegemite over the bread: I mean, scrape. If you’ve got enough Vegemite on your knife that you’re able to spread it, you’ve got too much. Use the photos below as a guide.

how to spread vegemite right wrong

How to spread Vegemite: the wrong way and the right way.

Celebrate your new-found appreciation of the wonders of Vegemite with a good cup of tea.

Here for your amusement is an iconic Australian TV commercial, I think the first one made for Vegemite:

In praise of tea

October 5, 2011

I am, it seems, something of a creature of habit.

I drink just one cup of coffee a day: with breakfast, 1 plunger of black coffee. Usually Republica or Lavazza.

After that, it’s tea, all the way. Black, no sugar.

I’m particularly partial to Earl Grey or Russian Caravan, but I always keep a few varieties in the pantry (except for herbal muck). As I type, a mug of Lapsang Souchong (or ‘bacon tea’, as my son calls it, for its distinctive aroma) is by my right elbow.

Anyway, all of this is just an excuse to post a video by my favourite rapper, chap-hop gentleman rhymer extraordinaire, Professor Elemental:

Nacho Pizza

October 4, 2011

I’ve covered pizza dough and pizza sauce, so now it’s time to start putting it all together with some complete pizza recipes. I’ll post a number of variations of pizza separately. Let’s start off with a favourite.

This is my own invention*, and a real hit with kids – and the more discerning adults. As my boys say, ‘the two best foods combined in one!’ It’s also kind of fun because you get sticky, messy fingers eating it. Hearken back to the carefree manners of youth, and lick your fingers with abandon.

What do I need?

I’m being deliberately non-specific with a lot of the quantities here, because it’s really just a matter of using however much of some of the ingredients you like.

      • Pizza dough
      • Pizza sauce
      • 1/2 tsp cumin powder
      • 1 tsp chopped chilli
      • Handful of grated mozzarella
      • Small handful of shredded ham
      • Couple of handfuls of plain corn chips
      • Refried beans or frijole (or kidney bean) bean dip
      • Guacamole or mashed avocado
      • Sour cream
      • Salsa
      • Baby spinach leaves to garnish – if you feel the need to make a token gesture at being ‘healthy’

What do I do?

Get your oven hot. Pizza is best cooked in very high heat, at least 200°C/400°F.

Punch out a quantity of the pizza dough into a lightly oiled pizza tray.

The quantities from the pizza dough and pizza sauce recipes are aimed at making at least 2 or 3 pizzas. If you are making a few pizzas at one go, set aside enough of the sauce for 1 pizza, and stir the chopped chilli and cumin powder into it.

Spread the base with the sauce, and sprinkle on a handful of the mozzarella, then a small handful of shredded ham. Don’t go overboard with the ham on this one, as it’s not really the star of the show.

Put the pizza in the oven and bake until it’s ready. I’ve never timed them, to be honest, I just go by sight. About 10 or 15 minutes seems to do the trick. When it ‘looks ready’, put the tray on the floor of the oven for a couple of minutes, which will give you a really crispy base.

While the pizza is cooking, heat up the beans or bean dip (if you haven’t cooked your own – note to self: put up bean dip recipe soon).

Take the pizza out of the oven and cut it into slices in the tray.

If you do feel the need to be healthy, throw a few baby spinach leaves on it, otherwise just spread it with a couple of handfuls of corn chips.

Spoon a generous heap of beans on top of the corn chips, then do the same with the guacamole or avocado. Lastly, spoon on some sour cream and salsa, and serve.

Get messy and enjoy!


*EDIT: I must confess that, on second thoughts, this isn’t entirely my own invention. I remember now that I got the idea from a similar pizza made at Pizzas With Attitude in Geelong, Australia.