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I’m so excited to share these pies with all of you, they have been a long time coming.
Mince pies (or mince tarts, whatever name you know then by) are a Christmas staple in many Aussie households – as well as many other places that were colonised by the British, I suppose. Every year, Mum would stock up with Bakers’ Delight mince pies as soon as they were available and we’d freeze a bunch so that we’d have them well past Christmas, we loved them so much. Unfortunately, though, I had to cut them out long ago due to the extreme amounts of dried fruits, and often apple, that were lurking inside their delicious pastry shells.
Well, not any more! These fruit mince pies are low FODMAP (according to Monash University ratings) in servings of two pies – you can read the FODMAP information for each ingredient in the FODMAP Notes section below. They are moist, sweet enough, with buttery pastry and just the right amount of spice to finish off your Christmas meal. Enjoy them with a cup of tea, some freshly made custard or FODMAP friendly vanilla ice cream.
Don’t be scared that there are vegetables in here (yes, I know, choko is actually a fruit); the carrot is a naturally sweet vegetable, especially when small and young and the chokos, while typically used as a vegetable and not very sweet themselves, are the perfect apple substitute in a lot of recipes. Combine them with low FODMAP amounts of nut meals, dried fruit (optional) and traditional spices and we have a Christmas classic made low FODMAP.
Merry Christmas guys! Enjoy your time with family and friends, whatever you celebrate and I’ll see you in the new year for more delicious low FODMAP cooking. Don’t forget to sign up to receive each new post by email.
Makes approx. 36 small pies | 18 low FODMAP serves
Fruit Mince Filling
The day before baking, make the fruit mince filling by mixing all the ingredients together in a container, then put the lid on and store it in the fridge overnight. This allows the dried fruit to soak up the juices from the carrots and choko and lets the flavours meld together. It makes a huge difference in terms of flavour, so don’t skimp.
The pastry can also be made one day ahead, if you wish. If you are using my pie crust pastry, don’t store it in the fridge – instead, keep it wrapped in plastic wrap in an airtight container in a cool, dark place. If you put it in the fridge for more than 30 minutes, it will turn into a solid brick, as most gluten free pastries do, and will need to be re-hydrated once more with a little ice water and your stand mixer.
Pre-heat your oven to 180 C/350 F and grease two small (24 hole) muffin pans.
On a pastry mat or a lightly floured bench, roll out your pastry until it is approx. 2-3 mm thick, then slice it into rectangles measuring 5 x 10 cm. Gently pick up each rectangle and line the muffin holes, trimming off the excess pastry as you go. Once all the muffin holes are lined and the pastry trimmed, re-roll the excess pastry and cut out little stars or leaves to top the pies.
Place the completed muffin trays into the freezer for 10-15 minutes, in the meantime clean your work space and get the fruit mincemeat filling out of the fridge.
Place approx. 1 1/2 tsp. of the fruit mince filling in each pie crust – they should be only slightly heaped, not overly full. Next, place a star or leaves on each pie and brush with your milk of choice.
Bake at 180 C for 15 minutes, until the stars toppers are slightly golden brown. Do not wait for them to turn a true golden brown as this often doesn’t happen with gluten free pastry and you’ll just end up over-cooking your pies.
Remove them from the oven and let them cool completely before you remove them from the muffin pans. If you are storing them, place them in an airtight container in the pantry for up to a week but they taste best if eaten in the first couple of days.
I’ve been in a bit of a baking rut for the last few months – just being lazy and going back and forward between banana cake or chocolate brownies, two delicious, tried and true recipes that I love but, honestly, was getting a little tired of. I never thought I’d get tired of banana cake! But it happened.
Seeing as we’re trying to make the most of the last days of summer, I felt a tropical, refreshing flavour was called for – so lemon and coconut it was. Lemon and ginger was another flavour contender but it’ll have to wait for another day. Maybe until next weekend…
These cakes are incredibly light, fluffy and moist – something that doesn’t come as easily to gluten free baked goods as wheat flour products. Honestly, I’m pretty proud of them. The subtle lemon and coconut flavour is gorgeous, not in your face at all, as I know quite a few people who aren’t coconut fans. For those who are, simply add in a few drops of coconut extract to up the flavour. Voila. I think the best compliment that I received for these cakes was Ev eating an entire muffin himself and enjoying it. If you knew him, you’d know he hates cakes, he’s a pastry man. These are that good.
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Preheat your oven to 180 C/350 F.
Grease and line a 9 inch round cake tin, or a 12 hole muffin pan.
If not already soft, in a small saucepan, very gently melt the coconut oil, do not let it boil. Set it aside to cool (refrigeration will help). If using the chia gel, rather than the xanthan gum, mix the chia seed meal in the water now, then set aside.
Next, separate the eggs, putting the yolks aside. Beat the egg whites and salt at a high speed until light and fluffy, then add in the sugars and continue beating on high until stiff peaks form (as if you were making a pavlova).
Thoroughly mix the cooled coconut oil, egg yolks, vanilla extract and coconut cream together and whisk briskly, then pour into the meringue batter and stir on a medium speed until combined. Add in the chia gel at this stage, if you are using it instead of xanthan gum.
Place the gluten free flour blend, xanthan gum (if you are using it rather than the chia gel), baking powder and lemon zest in a small, separate bowl, mix through and then pour into the rest of the batter in thirds. Mix the finished batter on a medium speed for a minute to properly combine all the ingredients, scraping down the sides as required.
Bake at 180C/350 F for:
I serve these dusted with icing sugar (as it looks pretty) at dinner parties but it does not need it for the flavour, so if you’re just baking for you, feel free to leave it off.
When we moved into our new house in February just been, there was a run-down little veggie patch by the front door. I looked at it in dismay – I had just left behind the gorgeous wooden planter box that Ev built for me the year before at our last rental – and then proceeded to ignore it every time I walked by it. The box was cheap plastic, the soil full of weeds and the dried out remnants of what was once a zucchini plant were splayed out on a trellis.
After a couple of weeks, I looked at the “garden” tab of the house folder the previous owners had left us and got a little shock. Apparently, the veggie patch was full of leeks, chives and kale. Yum. I checked the garden again and there were the leeks and chives, hidden among the weeds; no kale, though, it obviously hadn’t made it through the winter. There was one problem, though. There was grass growing up throughout the chives and the leeks were apparently planted next to some small agapanthus, whose leaves look a lot like a leek but are not edible. Why on earth? Anyway, it was still February, so these hardy little plants hadn’t begun to flower yet. I was reasonably confident that I could tell them apart from the bulb/lack of bulb (agapanthus vs leek) but, to be sure, I wanted to see the flowers.
Finally, the leeks and agapanthus flowered a week ago and last weekend we decided it was time to get rid of the sad little veggie patch and replace it with a lawn, instead. Unfortunately, our backyard is surrounded by pine trees and gets very little sunlight, so I understand why they chose the front yard for the veggie garden – I just wouldn’t have done it in quite the same way. Also, because our backyard gets basically no sunlight, the “lawn” is about 95% weeds, so we’re going for a forest/path/hidden surprise backyard with shade loving plants and we want to get as much lawn out of the front yard as possible. But I digress. Even after ditching the leeks that were growing so close to the agapanthus that they were intertwined (and all the chives, because they were thoroughly knotted together with grass and nobody had time to sort that mess out), we had a sink-full of leeks. I’m not even kidding, our extra deep, double-sized kitchen sink was overflowing.
This wasn’t even half of what we kept, which was half of what was there. Please excuse the weeds, the garden is a work in progress.
What on earth could we do with so many leeks? It’s warming up, so it’s no longer really soup weather and simply processing the leeks and freezing them seemed like a cop out. A few weeks ago we had watched an episode of No Reservations (Anthony Bourdain’s show) and they had dipped leeks into chimichurri. Why not make leeks into chimichurri, instead?
Chimichurri is a very versatile sauce. It’s primary use is for grilling meats but you can use it as a dipping sauce, a condiment, a sandwich spread (mixed with mayo – yum!), a pasta sauce, a salad dressing, to spice up omelettes and add flavour to mashed potatoes. You can also use it as a base from which to build an entirely new sauce. It’s definitely handy to have around, as it allows you to cut some corners during dinner prep – I won’t say no to that!
Makes about 600 ml of sauce, depending on how firmly packed the leeks are.
Place the garlic oil (or actual garlic if you can tolerate it), roughly chopped leek tips and red wine vinegar into the bowl of your food processor and blitz until combined. Add some salt and pepper (and the optional herbs if you like) and keep blitzing until smooth. Taste the chimichurri, then add in more salt and pepper (or garlic oil or red wine vinegar) to get the exact taste and consistency that you like. We like ours a little thicker, so feel free to add more oil if you see fit.
That’s it. It’s very simple. Store in the fridge for up to two weeks, or freeze for up to two months. It’s especially important to practise safe food handling if you’ve used an homemade infused oil, due to the risks of botulism that rise when infused oils are stored incorrectly/for too long. Store bought infused oils have been prepared in such a way that they have a much longer shelf life.
But please don’t let that put you off making chimichurri! The simple measure of freezing extra jars right away will keep the sauce safe for a couple of months. I know our batch won’t last longer than that, and it made 10 jars. It’s that good.
Here is our leek chimichurri, served with a yolk porn-worthy poached egg on top of polenta and wilted spinach. Simple, delicious and nourishing. The perfect meal.
Hi guys, I’m really excited to announce that I was asked to write an article about fructose malabsorption for Suggestic, a website that deals with nutrition, food intolerances and restaurant suggestions. Well, apparently I was a little enthusiastic – I didn’t want to miss anything – so I needed to split the article in two. I have already shared part one, so here goes part two:
“Last week I talked about fructose malabsorption, its link to irritable bowel syndrome (IBS) and the similarities it shares with non-coeliac gluten sensitivity (NCGS). This week, I will expand on the “fructose friendly” dietary management strategy for fructose malabsorption – the complete low FODMAP diet – that is gaining traction as the frontline dietary method for combating IBS symptoms.
IBS is generally understood as a long-term or recurrent disorder involving the function of your gastrointestinal system, usually due to imbalances of intestinal motility, function and sensation, leading to symptoms of digestive distress. It is a common occurrence in Western countries, with up to 30% of the population being affected at some point in their lives, women generally more-so than men.
What are FODMAPs?
“FODMAPs” is an acronym that stands for fermentable oligosaccharides, disaccharides, monosaccharides and polyols and describes a group of readily fermentable carbohydrates that are not well absorbed in the small intestines of some people; if these carbohydrates are not broken down and/or transported through the intestinal wall and into your blood stream, they continue down into your colon, where the resident gut bacteria digest them, leading to a build-up of certain gases and short chain fatty acids, which can alter the water content of your large intestine. These products of fermentation are the causes for the wind, bloating, abdominal cramps/pain and altered bowel movements that you associate with your fructose malabsorption, lactose intolerance or IBS.
The list of FODMAPs includes:
There are hydrogen/methane breath tests that can check whether you malabsorb fructose, lactose and/or sorbitol but the other FODMAPs must be properly eliminated and then tested with a reintroduction trial (outlined below) to know whether they are causing your symptoms…”
Once again, let me know what you guys think! I sincerely hope I didn’t miss anything out – I’m planning on writing more about the links between carbohydrate malabsorption and nutrient deficiencies soon, when I have some time over the holidays.
Thank you for taking the time to read it! Have a great weekend guys – and stay tuned for the easy to make chocolate peanut butter cookie ball recipe that’s very coming soon.
Hi guys, I’m really excited to announce that I was asked to write an article about fructose malabsorption for Suggestic, a website that deals with nutrition, food intolerances and restaurant suggestions. Well, apparently I was a little enthusiastic – I didn’t want to miss anything – so I needed to split the article in two. Here goes part one:
“So you’ve gone gluten free. You had coeliac disease ruled out first – as you should – but you still felt that wheat was a big trigger for your irritable bowel syndrome (IBS). You feel better off wheat – less bloated, more energy – but you’re not quite 100 %. What could it be?
I’m sure that many of you have by now heard of the study behind the media storm that apparently refutes the existence of non-coeliac gluten sensitivity (NCGS). Gluten is a protein that is common to the grains wheat, barley and rye. Contrary to what many of those journalists would have you believe, the researchers did not say that people who identify with NCGS are imagining it; rather, that it might actually be a different component of wheat, other than gluten, or in combination with it, that is causing them to experience IBS-like symptoms, including digestive distress, bloating and others, such as fatigue.
What then could be the culprit behind your wheat-triggered IBS? The answer: it might be fructans (also known as fructooligosaccharides or FOS). Fructans coincidentally happen to be found in large enough amounts to cause symptoms in the gluten containing grains, which includes all varieties of wheat, barley and rye; and they, along with fructose, made my first year of university… let us just say, “interesting.”
Growing up, I always had a fussy gut. When I was going through the last two years of secondary school, it got a little worse but not bad enough for me to really take notice, other than joke about it with friends. It was not until I was in my first year of university that it really got going, dictating not only the parties I could go to but things as seemingly insignificant as which seat I would take in the lecture theatres and what I could wear (think room for bloating). Luckily, my mum had an eye on me and about half way through the year (after end of semester exams really took their toll on my IBS) she read an article about coeliac disease. Digestive distress, nausea, fatigue, brain fog… I ticked most of the boxes, however, I did not have active coeliac disease. My gastroenterologist (since retired) had a game plan though and the next thing I knew I was being sent off to have hydrogen/methane breath tests to check for both lactose and fructose malabsorption*.
I had heard of lactose intolerance before, but fructose malabsorption? Well, fructose malabsorption was my answer and explained why the gluten free diet that my GP had advised me to trial earlier had helped significantly – but not completely…”
Let me know what you guys think and please share – as awareness of fructose malabsorption spreads, it is more likely that people will be correctly diagnosed and the variety of food choices for us will increase, both at restaurants and in supermarkets.
Read part two here.
Have a great night!
I thank my lucky stars quite often that polyols don’t seem to affect me. Avocados, blackberries, peaches… I can still eat them all in reasonable amounts without making myself sick. I think I’ve had to give up enough, without resorting to cutting out those, as well. Of course, I realise that others have had to cut out much more than I – one of the reasons that I am so thankful. No matter how bad you or I may have it, someone else is always worse off.
This peach crumble came about because it’s summer, peaches are in season, I needed a dessert that I could make ahead of time and forget about, and peaches are delicious! A little prep work the day before you need this dessert and you can keep it in the fridge until 45 minutes before you need to bake it (your baking dish, if glass or ceramic, will need time to get back to room temperature before baking or you’ll most likely have a shattered crumble on your hands).
Also, I apologise for the grainy photos, I was using my phone camera.
To peel the peaches, score four evenly spaced lines from top to bottom and place them in boiling water for 60 seconds, then strain them and dunk them into an ice bath for a further 60 seconds; the skins should peel right off. If all else fails, use a peeler.
Dice the peaches into bite-sized chunks (approx. 1.5-2 cm) and mix through the rest of the fruit filling ingredients, until well combined; dump the lot into a pie dish.
To make the crumble topping, mix all the ingredients together, either by hand or in your food processor, until they begin to clump together. Easy! Cover the fruit evenly with the crumble mix and you’re ready to bake or store the pie before baking.
When you are ready to bake it, pre-heat your oven to 180 C/350 F and bake the crumble for 55-60 minutes, when the peaches should have cooked until soft and the topping browned nicely. If you notice that the crumble is browning too quickly, cover it loosely with a sheet of foil to prevent further browning.
If I am serving this as a hot dessert at a dinner party, I put it in the oven as dinner is served, so we have an hour to eat dinner and digest/chat before the crumble is ready to eat. Serve with vanilla ice cream (vegan or lactose free if required), vanilla bean custard, coconut yoghurt (vegan) or plain Greek yoghurt. Enjoy!