What does an Aussie take to a 4th of July BBQ?

Fourth of July Pavlova

When I was asked to bring dessert to an Independence Day barbeque, I got really excited, because I haven’t made a red, white and blue dessert before. Finally, now was my chance! I searched Pinterest boards and blogs but there were a few things stopping me from whipping up some of those spectacular examples:

  • There’s nothing more American than apple pie, so guess what was popular… apples – yeah, no thanks. I’d like to be functional this weekend.
  • A flag cake – I don’t have a rectangular cake tin and a round flag would look silly.
  • A bundt cake, covered with white icing and filled with strawberries and raspberries – one of my rules is to never experiment when you’re serving it to someone else.

What could I make that was tried and tested, as well as red, white and blue? A Pavlova, of course. I hope Americans forgive me for using an Aussie dessert.

Using my never-fail (famous last words?) Pavlova recipe, I covered it with whipped coconut cream and berries for an Aussie-fied 4th of July dessert offering.

Notes:

  1. Castor sugar is 1:1 fructose and glucose, so is low FODMAP. However, too much of any sugar can set some people off, so watch your portion sizes. If you have SIBO, I would steer clear of this dessert.
  2. I have attempted a glucose/dextrose Pav before and it was a complete flop. I guess the way dextrose crystallises differs too much from sucrose.
  3. Egg whites are low FODMAP; I use 50 g (large) eggs.
  4. You can use either potato starch or corn starch, both are low FODMAP. Corn is a grain, so if you use corn starch it will no longer be grain free.
  5. Vanilla extract is low FODMAP, just beware additives that might change this.
  6. White wine vinegar is low FODMAP in 1 tsp. servings.
  7. Coconut cream is low FODMAP in half cup serving sizes. Refrigeration causes the fat and water content to separate, giving you an even richer, creamier and more whippable topping.
  8. Strawberries and blueberries are low FODMAP fruits.

Pavlova

Pavlova

  • 4 egg whites
  • 1 pinch table salt
  • 250 g castor sugar
  • 2 tsp. corn starch or 1 tsp. potato starch
  • 1 tsp. white or white wine vinegar
  • 1 tsp. pure vanilla extract

Toppings

  • 400 ml of full cream coconut, refrigerated
  • Red and blue berries, to top. I used strawberries and blueberries.

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Let your eggs sit for 30 minutes at room temp to take the chill off, unless you’re working in a warmer environment, in which case I find colder eggs hold stiff peaks better. Separate the egg whites and yolks, store the yolks for use at another time. Preheat your oven to 180 C/350 F.

Beat the egg whites and pinch of salt on a low-medium speed for 1 minute, then on a high speed for 3-4 minutes, until they are fluffy. While maintaining a med-high speed, slowly add in the castor sugar until it’s combined, then turn the speed up to maximum for a further minute.

Lift the beaters out of the batter – does the peak formed retain its shape? If yes, add in the starch, white wine vinegar and vanilla extract and mix through on a medium speed for 30 seconds.

Spread the mixture out on a baking sheet covered with baking paper, so that it forms a circle with a 20 cm diameter.

Place it into the oven on the bottom tray and turn the heat down to 150 C/300 F. Bake for 30 minutes, before turning the heat down to 120 C/250 F and baking for a further 45 minutes. Alternatively, if you don’t want to play around with temperatures, you could bake it at 120 C/250 F for 2 hours. When the time is up, let it cool for 15 minutes with the oven door cracked open, before removing it to the bench. I was in a hurry and took mine out too soon, so it cracked and collapsed a little. No worries, though, as we’re covering it with whipped coconut cream, so no one will be the wiser… unless they read this.

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I used Oh She Glows’ instructions on whipping coconut cream. I’ll let you head over there to view her step-by-step photo tutorial but I have to tell you that you need to refrigerate the tin overnight (this is important, as I have done this with a tin refrigerated for only 4 hours and it hadn’t separated enough).

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Smother the Pav with whipped coconut cream (or normal whipped cream) and top with blueberries and strawberries (or other blue and red berries) for a patriotic looking 4th of July dessert that is crispy on the outside and marshmallowy soft on the inside.

Now to wait until after dinner to devour it. *Twiddles thumbs.*

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BBQ Smoked Rosemary Chicken – FODMAP/Fructose Friendly & Gluten Free

BBQ Smoked Rosemary Chicken

If you’re after a recipe for juicy chicken that feeds 10-12 adults (per two chooks) and frees up space in the oven for other dishes, then look no further!

This method of cooking chicken requires some advanced planning but it consistently delivers moist meat that is still tasty the next day. I love leftovers and this recipe always gets a work out every summer, as it’s perfect for barbeques. You can’t beat that!

BBQ Smoked Rosemary Chicken

Serves 5-6 adults, as part of a main.

  • 1 chicken, approx. 2.5-3.0 kg (5.5-6.0 lbs)
  • 1 batch of a basic brine
  • 1 handful of rosemary sprigs
  • 1 large handful of wood chips of your choice for smoking – we use hickory
  • 1.0 litre water
  • Other equipment – BBQ, coals, disposable baking tray, meat thermometer

Step 1: Brine the Chook

Clean and remove the skin from the chicken before spatchcocking it and cutting shallow slits in the flesh. Then, follow these instructions to make enough brine for your chicken; a typical chicken will need one batch of the brine, extrapolate how much you’ll need from there.

Submerge the chicken in the brine and refrigerate it (or use an Eski/cooler with ice) for 3-4 hours. The temperature needs to stay at or below 3 C/38 F.

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Step 2: Prepare the Chook and BBQ

About 30 minutes before you remove the chicken from the brine, get your BBQ started and put the wood chips in water to soak (this prevents them from drying out and burning too quickly later on). I say 30 minutes, because that is how long it takes our coals to light properly. Once the coals have been lit, push them to one side and place the disposable baking dish on the other side and fill it with the 1.0 L of water.

When the chook is ready to come out, thoroughly rinse the brine off the chicken, lightly rub it with some melted butter or olive oil and then place the rosemary in the slits you cut earlier.

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Step 3: BBQ the Chook

Sprinkle the soaked hickory wood chips over the coals (give them a shake, first, to get rid of excess water that would extinguish the coals) and then place the grill on top. Arrange the chickens so that they are on top of the water bath, being indirectly heated by the coals. Put the lid on and half open the vents at the bottom and top of your BBQ (if you have them, as out kettle style BBQ does), to allow air flow to keep the coals burning. You will probably need to add some more coals halfway through, which will light on their own, to maintain the temperature inside the BBQ at 105 C/220 F.

Keep an eye on it but it should take about two and a half hours until it’s done, more (around four hours) if you haven’t spatchcocked it. The hallmarks of a “done” chook include an internal temperature of 85 C/185 F, juices running clear and a nicely browned surface. It’s best to make sure it has all of these.

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Step 4: Serving the Chook

Divide the chook into four parts – two each of the maryland and breast/wing segments, or eight parts – two each of the breast, wing, thigh and drumstick.

Serve with dipping sauces of your choice (I like this capsicum dip or a little BBQ sauce) and the rest of your BBQ spread. Yum!

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Homemade Sausages – Low FODMAP, Fructose Friendly & Gluten Free

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Sausages, or “snags” as they’re more commonly known in Australia, are a BBQ staple that you can make as simple or gourmet as you’d like. Serve them as pigs in a blanket, slice them and use in a stew, or serve them with some sauteed tomatoes with rosemary – you can do so much with them.

But there’s one problem. Like many other foods over here, Ev and I discovered that they didn’t taste quite right. Unless you go to the farmers markets and buy English style sausages for jacked up prices, you can only have sweetened style sausages from the supermarkets. Add in the usual trials of finding fructose friendly sausages and last winter we decided to make them ourselves.

You will need to set a few hours aside for this task and we found that actually stuffing the sausages worked best with teamwork but the results are so worth it. I apologise for the lack of “how to” photos, our hands were both too grubby and full to use the camera. I’ll attach a link to a YouTube video to help explain it, instead.

Notes:

  1. If you don’t have a meat grinder/sausage stuffer, you will need one for this. We have attachments for our KitchenAid but you can buy standalone machines. It follows that these instructions will be directed towards KitchenAids but they should work well for any grinder. At any rate, the recipe won’t need to change.
  2. We found that cutting the pork shoulder into strips sped up the initial grinding phase.
  3. If you want to cut out half the time, you could use pre-minced meat but it will be more expensive and you will need to be careful of any additives.
  4. Hog casings can be bought from most butchers, although in the US it’s a bit harder to find a good local butcher because they all seem to be attached to giant mega-supermarkets. We are lucky to have a decent butcher around the corner. If they are frozen, make sure you soak them in salted, luke warm water until they are properly thawed, then rinse them off.
  5. You can of course play around with the spices – try some paprika or cayenne. Yum.

Homemade Sausages

  • 2.25 kg/5 lbs pork shoulder, cut into strips – weight after bones are removed
  • 1/3 cup homemade/FF stock
  • 2 tbsp. sea salt
  • 2 tbsp. ground black pepper
  • 2 tbsp. minced fresh sage
  • 1 tbsp. minced fresh oregano
  • 1 tbsp. chili pepper flakes
  • 3-4 lengths of hog casings – we used 3, from memory

Stage 1

Mince the pork meat strips in your grinder, sending it through the grill with the larger holes. This is a very monotonous process, sorry. Play some music, or do it with a friend so you can keep each other company.

Next, swap the large hole grill for the smaller hole grill – if you have one – and repeat the grinding process to make the mince even finer. Stage 1 complete.

Stage 2

Mix the rest of the ingredients, except for the hog casings, thoroughly through all the newly minced pork.

Remove any of the grills from the grinding attachment before you insert the stuffing attachment.

Wash your hands and set up the sausage stuffing piece with the grinding attachment – or follow the instructions of whatever device you have. Place the hog casings onto the stuffing pipe, pushing them to the back and leaving a 10 cm length hanging off the edge.

In the top basin/tub of the grinder, one person needs to use the paddle to squash the mince/spice mixture through the hole and into the grinder while the other person handles the casings and the stuffing process. Once you have run a small amount of the mince through the device, stop it and tie a knot in the extra, as close to the mince/attachment as possible. This step was to make sure you didn’t have a giant air bubble in the end of the sausage, as you would if you had tied the knot before running any mince through the machine.

Keep the machine running at a medium speed, steadily pushing the sausage mixture through the grinder at an even rate, ensuring that you don’t have any air bubbles. Don’t rush at first, it takes a little while to get used to the process and you don’t want to tear the casings while you’re at it. Once you near the end of the casing, knot it off and load the next onto the machine.

This video, Italian Sausage – How To Stuff Sausage, will run you through the basics in such a way that you can see what is happening. It is a huge help to be able to imagine what you’re supposed to do before you do it.

Stage 3

Now you have a single, very long sausage. Have a good laugh at what it looks like and then begin to twist it into individual snags. Just decide how long you want each of the sausages to be and then place a hand on either side of the mark and twist thoroughly. The twist should stay in place.

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Once you have twisted the length onto individual snags, we like to portion them into more reasonable sized numbers that we are likely to cook in one go – three sausages means one for me and two for Ev. We then bag and freeze them, and have a stash of tasty snags in the freezer when the need for comfort food calls us.

Once thawed, we like to stab a few holes in them and then boil them for 10 minutes to pre-cook them before frying until the outside is browned/crisped up a little.

Make a batch of these and be the hero at the next backyard barbie that you go to.

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Springtime Caesar Burgers – Low Fructose

Seattle’s weather has finally picked up and it seemed appropriate to spend some time outdoors this last weekend – after being cooped up all winter and especially after visiting Australia for Easter then returning back to rain, rain and more rain. And a bit more rain for good measure.

Mia, a friend, wanted to visit the Tulip Festival that takes place in Mt Vernon every spring so we headed up there to look at some flowers and soak up some sun.

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We were contemplating going to an Indian restaurant for dinner but after heading home to feed the dogs first, the weather was still so stunning and our balcony in full sun that we decided to have a BBQ instead.

Unfortunately we didn’t have any capsicum or zucchini to grill along with the burgers this time but I will chuck in some photos at the end from our “Australia Day” BBQ that we had back in January… in the rain. Seattle really loves to rain.

Low Fructose Burgers

  • 1 kg/2.2 lb mince beef makes 6 large patties
  • GF bread or burger buns, toasted
  • 1-2 tomatoes, sliced
  • Romaine lettuce leaves
  • Sliced or grated cheese
  • Condiment of your choice – tomato sauce/ketchup, mustard, ranch etc

No onions or anything else hiding in these bad boys apart from the mince beef of your choice. We used 80:20 mince but you could make them leaner by choosing 90:10 if you’d like. Or play around with leaner meats like turkey.

Firstly, make sure your BBQ is heating up. We have a Weber Kettle BBQ that uses coal, so it takes 20 minutes or so (with the coal chimney) to get going.

Next, shape fist-sized amounts of mince into patties. The more compression you use, the better they will stick together. Josh made these and he used the back of a dinner plate to apply pressure to the mince beef, which was sitting on wax paper. Nifty idea!

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Five over-sized patties… these were Josh sized fists; my little hands would have made them a fair bit smaller!

Thirdly, cook your patties on the grill. A medium/med-high heat is best, so that they can cook halfway through without the outside charring up too much. Flip them, then let them cook through to your liking. I like my burgers well done, no pink in the middle.

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Please excuse the blackened snags in the background…

While the guys are outside doing their thing with the BBQ, I sliced the cheese, tomatoes and lettuce. I already had my condiment of choice (Caesar dressing) ready from the Chicken Caesar Salad we had had for dinner the night before, so that was one thing less to prepare.

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Caesar Dressing

Caesar Dressing

Next, assemble your burger. Simple as that. The chips (fries) we had were *gasp* from a packet 😛 but here is a recipe for homemade baked potato wedges/chips.

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Havarti cheese, all-beef pattie, tomato, romaine lettuce and Caesar dressing on toasted GF bread. Delish.

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The packet chips! Gasp! They were GF and nothing fructose-y in them, so all safe.

When we have a BBQ, we normally grill some veggies like capsicum or zucchini as well. Just cook them until they begin to blacken then flip and repeat; the time it will take depends on the heat of your BBQ. Just make sure you slice them so that they are wide enough to not fall through the grilling rack!

Grilled veggies at the back, vegetarian pinto bean burger patties at the front on GF buns.

Grilled veggies at the back, vegetarian pinto bean burger patties at the front on GF buns.

To make your burger really Australian, you need to add an egg, pineapple and  beetroot if you can tolerate it. But the egg and pineapple wouldn’t have gone with the Caesar dressing, so they had to miss out… this time.

How to Trim Spare Ribs down to St Louis Style Ribs

After reading many instructionals on the internet and watching a few videos on YouTube.com for good measure, this is how we prepare our St Louis Style ribs. Spare ribs are cheaper by weight than prepared St Louis Style ribs, and even though there are off-cuts, these aren’t wasted as our two spoilt dogs usually get them for dinner, or you can use them in stir-fries.

Here is a rack of spare ribs.

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Cut off the skirt (labelled above).IMG_0966 Find the joint between the ribs and the riblets. Slice along this joint to separate the two. The riblets are great to serve as an entree (appetiser).IMG_0967Here, the ribs and riblets are separated.
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The ribs have a membranous layer on one side. This needs to be removed or it will become very chewy and unpleasant once cooked.

To do so, place a spoon in one of the gaps like so…

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Lift…

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Pull back…IMG_0970

Separate the membrane from the flesh and pull it towards the end. Doggie on-looker not required.

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Trim excess fat.

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There you go!IMG_0972

IMG_2726IMG_2706Finally, feel bad for the dogs who had canned food for dinner, so cut up the scraps of meat and cartilage for their dinner tomorrow. Spoilt brats.

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