Archive for January, 2010

Insalata Caprese

Warm summer nights means SALADS!

The above was my take on the Italian dish, Insalata Caprese: cherry tomatoes, baby bocconcini, fresh basil, olive oil and balsamic glaze.  The basil adds so much flavour.

And then, from the book Fresh by Michele Cranston, there was hot-smoked salmon on potatoes roasted in lemon zest, with spinach and a dill dressing.  The smokiness of the salmon offset by the gooeyness of the potatoes, cut through by the freshness of the spinach and the tang of the dressing – too good.

Everything was bought from a fruit and veg shop or the supermarket, which made me very happy.

And my god, did we scoff the lot.

Hot-smoked salmon with potatoes and spinach. Yum!


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"Beauty is only the promise of happiness." - Stendahl

It’s possible that I have a gluten intolerance — possible because nothing’s been proven yet and because I’m hopeful that it’s just a phase I’m going through (you know, like adolescence or the ‘flu, which you either grow out of in a few weeks or help pass with the assistance of a lot of codeine).

Because after cooking gluten-free blueberry muffins last night, it’s becoming clear to me that, quite frankly, gluten-free baking sux.

It all looked so promising: self-raising gluten-free flour that ‘bakes like regular flour’, eggs, oil, milk, sugar, blueberries and an endorsement by the Country Women’s Association of NSW.  What could go wrong?

The flour.

The flour.

The flour.

Did I mention the flour?

Gluten-free flour has a very different texture to normal wheat flour.  It’s very fine and light and has a slightly slimy chalky feel to it.  It flies everywhere as you tip it out of the packet and best not to lick your fingers to be rid of it because it tastes like a chemical.  It doesn’t mix particularly well with liquid and licking the bowl after the mixture has been poured into muffin tins is not an option because you will probably vomit.

Looking good enough to eat - if only that were true.

All of this would be forgiveable if the muffins had tasted any good.  They looked fantastic as they rose in the oven, as they were placed on a cooling tray and as we broke them open for viewing.  But put one in your mouth and begin to chew and hooley dooley, what a weird taste.

My first response was that they needed more sugar.  My second response was to wonder whether blueberries are chosen for their colour rather than flavour and are they a gelatinous fruit?  My third response was to do what adventurebiscuit was doing which was to slather them in butter and lashings of apricot jam and exclaim how awful the muffins were and how fantastic the jam was.

This solved the problem for a while but it left me with the longer term problem of how to cook decent cakes with gluten-free flour.

Who wants it?

In retrospect, the flour’s promise of baking like regular flour was in fact true — the muffins rose well and looked good.  What it didn’t account for was the myriad manifestations of hope that I attached to this claim — that the muffins would taste good, that they would taste the same as those cooked with wheat flour, and that my search for a decent gluten-free flour would have ended.

So the quest continues.  I’ll bake these muffins again but vary the recipe to include triple the amount of sugar and frozen raspberries instead of blueberries.  We’ll see how they go.

As of right now, though, I’m off to find the codeine!

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Scoffing for Australia - handfuls of kettle chips for dinner.

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