gluten free savoury muffins …

These savoury muffins have now become my go to recipe whenever I need to make something savoury in a hurry. These muffins take no time at all. And you don’t need an electric mixer.

The recipe has been adapted from Grab Your Spork. I made these muffins gluten free and as mini muffins. Perfect bite sized treats!

The first time I made these muffins, for our Easter Sunday family get together, everyone loved them. They really are tasty and moist. You can’t go wrong with this no fuss recipe.

2½ cups gluten free self-raising flour
½ bunch spinach
150g feta cheese
½ cup semi-sundried tomatoes
¼ cup Kalamata sliced olives
2 tablespoons parmesan
1⅓ cup milk
50g melted butter
1 egg

1) Preheat oven to 200c and brush a 12 muffin pan with canola oil. (Or you can use a silicon muffin tray. For these muffins I used a mini muffin silicon tray.)
2) Sift the flour into a large bowl.

3) Add shredded spinach, crumbled feta cheese, chopped sundried tomatoes, olives, parmesan and stir to combine.

4) Whisk together the melted butter, milk and egg until just combined and add to the dry ingredients. Mix together.

5) Spoon mixture into prepared pans.

6) Bake for 20 minutes. Turn onto a wire rack to cool.

Serve warm with some butter or avocado if you prefer. They are ideal for lunch boxes. And you can add whatever filling you like. You can also freeze them.

“They have been eating muffins. That looks like repentance.” ~ Oscar Wilde

pasta al forno (baked pasta) …

This pasta bake recipe is THE recipe that my mum is known for. (Well, there’s the sponge kisses too but that’s another story). The pasta bake is a family favourite. People can’t get enough of this food. My mum has made this recipe so many times that she doesn’t refer to a written recipe – it’s all in her head. I know, crazy, right?

Anyways, under my mum’s directions, (because, as we know, the recipe hasn’t been documented anywhere) I made this pasta bake.

It’s easy to make and ideal for large gatherings. You can make it gluten free (by using gluten free breadcrumbs and gluten free spaghetti). You can make it vegetarian by layering grilled zucchini and grilled eggplant (and whatever other vegetables you like). You can use any other dry pasta – penne, rigatoni, etc …

I have a cousin, Marc, who loves my mum’s pasta bake. So much so that he asked her to teach him how to make it. He tried so many times to make a pasta bake but it never turned out like mum’s.


I think he was pretty pleased with himself :)

Buon appetito!

100ml olive oil
1/2 large brown onion
1 clove garlic, chopped
4 litres passata (tomato sauce)
5 slices bread (can use gluten free bread or store bought breadcrumbs)
750g beef mince
1 large clove garlic, crushed
3 eggs
generous pinch of salt
100ml cold water
125g grated cheese
2 x 500g packets of spaghetti (can use gluten free pasta)
1 dessertspoon salt
300g chopped ham
shredded tasty cheese
grated cheese

1) Fill a large pot with the olive oil and brown the onion and garlic.
2) Add the tomato sauce and wait for the sauce to boil. Once it has reached boiling point, simmer the sauce for a couple of hours on low heat, making sure that it doesn’t dry out. If it does, add water.

3) To make your own breadcrumbs – tear the bread slices into small pieces. Process in a food processor until the crumbs form.

3) Put the beef mince into a large bowl. Add the crushed garlic, a couple of sprigs of parsley and basil, the eggs, salt and cold water. Mix all the ingredients by hand.

4) Add the breadcrumbs and grated cheese. Again, mix by hand.

5) Roll the mince into meatballs and gradually add to the simmering sauce.

6) Leave the meatballs in the simmering sauce for about 20 minutes.

7) After 20 minutes take the meatballs out and let them cool. Turn the sauce off.

8) Put a pot of water onto boil. Once it’s boiled, add the 2 packets of spaghetti. Stir the spaghetti immediately and keep stirring until the spaghetti isn’t stuck together. Add the salt. (Make sure there’s enough water in the pot to cover all of the spaghetti).

9) Once the spaghetti is ‘al dente’ (firm to bite but not), take the pot off the stove and drain. Mix some sauce through the spaghetti so that the cooked spaghetti doesn’t stick.

10) Mash the meatballs.

11) Using a 4 litre baking dish, layer the base with the sauce. Then add a layer of spaghetti. Sprinkle a layer of chopped ham, followed by a layer of shredded tasty cheese and a layer of grated cheese.

12) Repeat this layering process another 2 times. The final top layer will be spaghetti and the 2 cheeses.

Note: you will have enough ingredients left over to fill a 2 litre baking dish. You can cover the 2 litre dish with cling film and freeze.

13) Cover the 4 litre baking dish with aluminium foil and place in 180C oven. Bake for 1 hour. After taking the dish out of the oven, let the baked pasta rest for 30 minutes before serving. Enjoy!

Below is the vegetarian version with grilled zucchini and grilled eggplant.

The pasta bake, if it is at all possible, tastes even better the next day!

“Everything you see I owe to spaghetti.” ~ Sophia Loren

avocado lime cheesecake …

At a recent CWA meeting, the president of the SACWA Adelaide Branch, Georgia, brought in limes. Her lime tree bore a lot of fruit – more fruit than what she could handle so she was giving them away at the meeting. I took some with the idea in mind of making a lime dessert (e.g a key lime tart but raw). There were many recipes to choose from. I finally settle on one.

This recipe has been adapted from Cookery Plus.

1 cup raw almonds
1/4 cup desiccated coconut
pinch of salt
3-4 pitted dates
1 1/2 teaspoons coconut oil
1 – 2 teaspoons granulated sugar (substituted with maple syrup)

1 large avocado
2 – 3 tablespoons maple syrup
1/2 cup cream (substituted with coconut cream)
1 1/2 tablespoons butter, melted and at room temperature (didn’t use)
3 tablespoons coconut oil
1/2 cup fresh lime juice
1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
pinch of salt

1) Process almonds into crumbs using a food processor. Empty the crumb out and make a dough using little water after you add the shredded coconut and salt to the crumb.

2) Add pitted dates and granulated sugar and blend until the crust starts to come together. (I didn’t add any sugar to the mix. I used maple syrup instead.)

3) Finally pour the coconut oil in and blend well.
4) Check if the blend is crumbly enough and then line the base and sides of 6″ spring form pan with baking-paper.
5) Press the mixture down firmly and evenly with the back of a spoon.

6) Bake for 5-8 minutes until lightly brown and set the crust aside. (I left the crust raw.)

1) Blend the avocado, add the cream and vanilla in a food processor on medium speed until smooth. (I used coconut cream.)

2) After blending once, add maple syrup and and lemon juice to the mixture and blend for a few seconds more.

3) Next, add butter, coconut oil and and the salt and beat until fluffy. (I didn’t add any butter.)
4) Pour this filling over the crust, use a spoon to even out the surface and the edges.

I doubled the recipe to make mini cheesecakes.

If you don’t have a silicone mold, a mini muffin tin can be used. Lightly grease the muffin tin. Cut strips of parchment paper and lay them in the slots. This creates little tabs that makes removing them easier to pop out once frozen.

5) Cover with clingfilm and set it aside in the fridge to chill for 3 hours or overnight.

These mini cheesecakes are creamy, tangy and refreshing. Amazing! The ingredients used are all natural and some are healthy fats – ideal. By the way, my brothers both don’t like avocado yet enjoyed these cheesecakes. Go figure!

Thank you Georgia for the limes! :)

“When life gives you limes, rearrange the letters so it says smile.” ~ Unknown

kaffana …

Tucked away in Adelaide’s Peel Street ( a laneway dining area) is a place called Kaffana. Temping Palates were in the mood to try something different. Kaffana is a family run Serbian eatery/bar and their specialty, as we soon discovered, is meat – lots of it! Not knowing much about Serbian food, and with the place not yet officially opened,  I had no idea what to expect.

Our table was towards the back in a room that could only be described as retro. We were seated near the kitchen so we could some of the family members cooking away.

The owner was gracious enough to spend a bit of time with us giving us a background to the business.

The range of glassware and dinnerware got me excited – I grew up with those glasses and dishes. It was like being at home :) Good start.

Back to the food. We started with some tapas –

Sarma (cabbage roll) – pickled cabbage leaves filled with pork, beef and rice, slow cooked and served with a side of organic yoghurt:

Proja (corn bread) – baked corn bread filled with fetta and ricotta cheese, served with a side of sour cream:

Garlic prawns:

I could not fault any of the tapas dishes. The corn bread was soft and moist, the cabbage rolls were surprisingly tasty (I’m not a huge fan of cabbage rolls) and the garlic prawns were a hit with me – loved them!

Onto the mains. All the traditional meals were served with cabbage and potato salad:

I ordered the Pleskavica (char-grilled beef and pork burger seasoned with traditional spices and served on a bed of diced onions):

This burger was a big burger and packed with lots of flavour. Alas, I couldn’t finish it.

Other mains ordered were –
Mixed grill (a selection of char-grilled meats):

Raznjici (char-grilled, dry rubbed and skewered pork scotch pieces):

Karadjordjeva (char-grilled veal schnitzel filled with ricotta, fetta and cooked bacon):

The portion sizes of the main meals were very generous. This was good authentic home cooked food. I’d gladly go back, try their burger and sample their desserts.

Before we left, we were given a glass of slivovitz (plum brandy) which apparently is the national drink. Not bad.

How cute is the glass! I’ll drink to that!

I’ll leave the last word to what is written on Kaffana’s menu ~ “Kaffana – a little piece of Eastern Europe tucked into Adelaide’s thriving West End, Kaffana is a bar unlike any other. Our unique lounge bar and dining area offers guests an extensive drinks list, a relaxed yet sophisticated atmosphere and an exciting menu inspired by Serbia and its surrounds. Whether you visit for an after work drink, Tapas style lunch, a prime aged steak or our infamous Balkan Burger, Kaffana is the perfect destination to Eat. Drink. Lounge.”

Kaffana on Urbanspoon

chuck wagon 175 …

The next eatery on the list for Tempting Palates was Chuck Wagon 175. It’s located north of Adelaide on 175 O’Connell St, North Adelaide. This outing was so casual and very relaxed.

As I entered I couldn’t help but notice the ‘Wall of Fame’ board. Apparently these victors took on the man v food challenge of eating a a 6 patty burger (with bacon, cheese and salad) and a side of fries in 20 minutes!

This is the aforementioned infamous burger:

(source: AdelaideNow)

Those that couldn’t cut the mustard took pride of place on the ‘Wall of Shame’ board.

All I can say is good on you for taking on the challenge. Not so sure your arteries would have felt the same way …

The burger challenge still exists today. And there’s also a Chilli Wing challenge.

(source: Chuck Wagon 175)

Anyways, we did notice that the ‘Something a bit special’ had sold out. It would have been an interesting alternative to what I eventually ordered.

Almost all of us ordered the Fries (Crispy shoestring fries tossed with tex-mex signature seasoning):

I think we could have gotten away with sharing a few. I could not finish my side of fries – there was a whole lotta fries in that bowl. But they were soooooo tasty!

The Sangria well down nicely :)

Other side dishes ordered were –

Buffalo hot wings (Chicken wingettes deep fried and tossed in Frank’s special hot sauce served traditional with celery and blue cheese sauce):

Chilli cheese fries (Crispy shoestring fries topped with beef and bean chilli con carne and melted cheddar cheese sauce):

Then we ordered the mains –

The Piglet (slow roasted pulled pork butt simmered in chuck wagon signature sauce on a soft toasted bun):

The Green Machine (160g chuck, smashed avocado, bacon, lettuce, tomato, onion and garlic aioli on a toasted bun):

This was the burger that I ordered. I loved it especially the burger pattie – very different to what you would get at McDonald’s or Hungry Jacks – it was packed full of flavour.

The Chuck (160g chuck with lettuce, tomatoes, onion and garlic aioli on a toasted bun):

The Chuck with cheese ((160g chuck with lettuce, tomatoes, onion and garlic aioli with added cheddar cheese on a toasted bun):

If it’s American street food that you’re after then Chuck Wagon 175 is your place. It’s a good little spot with friendly staff and tasty food. I dare you to take the challenge … ;)

Chuck Wagon 175 on Urbanspoon

yeast free and gluten free hot cross buns …

I have already made hot cross buns twice this week – the raw ones (raw vegan hot cross buns) and the gluten free ones (gluten free and dairy free hot cross buns).

Then I saw a recipe for yeast free and gluten free hot cross buns. Had to make them! This recipe is from Gluten free Grain free.

1 cup almond meal (if you are unable to have nuts (see notes below for nut alternative))
2 tablespoons chia seeds
3/4 cups arrowroot/tapioca starch
3/4 cups dried dates (remember to check ingredients if you are using chopped fruit of any kind) – I used mixed dried fruit
2 teaspoons cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon ginger
1 teaspoon bi carbonate of soda (baking soda)
2 tablespoons apple cider vinegar
3 eggs
pinch of salt
1/4 cup water
2 tablespoons olive oil (can use butter or coconut oil )

1) Preheat oven to 175C.
2) Soak the chia seeds in water whilst preparing the dry mix.

3) Put all of the dry ingredients (including the dates) into the food processor and process until the dates are broken into small bits. As I was using dried mixed fruit which was already in small bits I didn’t add the fruit to the processor.

4) Pour dry mixture into a mixing bowl.

5) Add eggs, soaked chia seeds, apple cider vinegar & olive oil. I also added the mixed dried fruit.

6) Combine everything well until there are no lumps (except the bits of fruit).

7) The mixture will be thick – don’t be tempted to add any more liquid.
8) You can use a muffin tray (with muffin liners), a cupcake baking tray (with cupcake papers) or a lamington tin and then cut them into squares. There are no rules.

9) Bake for 25 minutes until the hot cross buns are firm to the touch and bounce back when lightly pressed. The top will be lovely and golden in colour.
10) Remove from the oven and turn out onto a cooling rack. Note: my oven was fan forced so the temperature was set at 160C. The hot cross buns were ready after 20 minutes.
11) The crosses – you can make the cross using Labna (dripped yoghurt), royal icing (icing sugar, water and lemon juice) or coconut butter. I opted for the icing sugar option.

There is no added sugar in this recipe – if you like more sugar – try a cup of dates first.  If you prefer a bit sweeter though – a dash of honey will be just right.  Or half a banana.

Nut free – replace 1 cup of almond meal with 1 cup of pumpkin seed meal.

The family and I will able to enjoy them tomorrow (Easter Sunday) after the church service. The family will be able to choose from the 3 types of hot cross buns on offer – they’ll be spoiled for choice :)

The story of Easter is the story of God’s wonderful window of divine surprise.” ~ Carl Knudsen

gluten free and dairy free hot cross buns …

Earlier this week I made raw vegan hot cross buns. They were deliciously delightful but they weren’t gluten free. Enter the magazine ‘super food ideas‘.

This month’s edition (page 80) has a recipe for gluten free hot cross buns. These took a little longer to make than the raw hot cross buns – you have to allow 90 minutes for proving (the rising of the dough).

1 cup milk
1/2 cup caster sugar
100g butter, chopped
2/3 cup mixed dried fruit
2 cups buckwheat flour
1 1/2 cups brown rice flour
2 teaspoons xanthan gum
2 x 7g sachets dried yeast
2 teaspoons ground cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon ground nutmeg
1/2 teaspoon allspice
1/4 teaspoon ground cloves
2 eggs, lightly beaten
buckwheat flour, for dusting
extra 1/2 cup brown rice flour
2 tablespoons honey, warmed

Note: to make these hot cross buns dairy free I substituted the milk with water and the butter with a plant seed oil based margarine (Nuttelex).

1) Place milk, sugar, butter and dried fruit in a medium saucepan over medium heat. Cook, stirring occasionally for 5 minutes or until mixture is almost simmering. Remove from heat. Cool for 15 minutes.

2) Meanwhile, combine flours, xanthan gum, yeast and spices in a large bowl. Make a well in the centre. Add mixture and egg. Stir until mixture forms a dough.

3) Turn out dough onto a lightly floured surface. Knead for 10 minutes or until smooth. Place dough in a lightly oiled bowl. Cover with greased plastic wrap. Set aside in a warm place for one hour or until doubled in size.

Note: to get the buns the same size, weigh the dough, divide by 20, then weigh out each portion, so they are all the same.

4) Preheat oven to 200C/180C fan-forced. Line a large baking tray with baking paper. Divide dough into 20 balls. Place dough balls on prepared tray in a round shape. Cover with a clean towel. Set aside for 30 minutes or until buns have risen slightly.

5) Make a paste by combining extra flour and 5 to 6 tablespoons cold water. Transfer to a snap-lock bag. Snip off 1 corner. Pipe crosses on buns.


5) Bake for 20 minutes or until starting to brown. Brush buns gently with honey.

Bake for a further 5 to 10 minutes or until golden and cooked through. Serve hot cross buns warm or at room temperature.

Note: the family will have the hot cross buns on Easter Sunday after we attend Easter Sunday mass. It’s our Easter tradition. Fingers cross they taste alright!

“May the choicest blessings of the world be showered upon you and fill your life with delight.”

Buona Pasqua a tutti! (Happy Easter everyone!)