Gluten-Free Dairy-Free Seed Bread

I love dense, nutty, chunky bread and this recipe, adapted from  Adventure Bread by Josey Baker, ticks all the boxes.

It’s gluten-free and dairy-free. Feel free to substitute similar ingredients, but don’t omit the psyllium husks (sold in most supermarkets or health food stores) because it acts as a binder, taking the place of the gluten found in wheat flour.

While you can eat this bread as it is, I think it’s much nicer toasted, with honey, jam or cheese. Toasted and buttered with a smear of vegemite and a slice of Swiss cheese or cheddar really hits the spot for me. It’s quite filling and what I often have in the evening, when I’ve decided to skip dinner after an indulgent lunch.

Gluten-Free Seed Bread
¾ cup nuts (almonds, hazelnuts, pine nuts, walnuts or whatever you fancy)
1 cup sunflower seeds (hulled)
½ cup pumpkin seeds (pepitas)
1/3 cup psyllium husks
2¼ cups rolled oats
3 Tbs chia, quinoa or sesame seeds
¾ cup flax seeds or linseeds (see note below)
2 tsp salt
2 Tbs maple syrup or honey
¼ cup olive oil
2½ cups water

Place all ingredients in a large bowl and mix well. Cover and refrigerate for several hours or overnight.

Preheat oven to 190°C. Tip into an oiled loaf tin, push down and smooth the top. The one I use is 25x12cm and 10cm deep (approx 10x5x4 inches) which the recipe fills to within 2-3 cm of the top and as the bread doesn’t rise that’s fine. If you don’t have a big loaf tin use two smaller ones.

Bake for 40 minutes then tip the bread out of the tin and put it back in the oven on a flat tray for a further 20 minutes. Cool on a cooling rack. Wait until it’s completely cold before slicing. Can be eaten as it is, or toasted.

Loaf can be stored well-wrapped in the fridge for up to a week. As I’m the only one who eats this bread in our household, I like to slice the loaf about 1 cm or so thick, then individually wrap each slice in plastic wrap and freeze them. Toast from frozen, though they do need two goes.

Makes 1 loaf

Note: Flax seeds and Linseeds are the same thing. Known as Linseeds in Australia and Flax seeds in the USA.

Spicy Baked Eggs in Avocados

My cousin Ricky who lives in Los Angeles posted this recipe on Facebook and I couldn’t wait to try it. Eggs and avocados are two of my favourite ingredients, so what could be better than a recipe combining the two?

Choose large avocados and small eggs. Even so, you will need to scoop out a bit of avocado flesh after removing the stone to make the hole a bit bigger. This recipe will serve 4 as a starter or light breakfast or 2 as a more substantial lunch, brunch or supper.

Spicy Baked Eggs in Avocados2 large ripe avocados
Hot sauce (Tabasco or another brand)
Salt flakes
Freshly ground black pepper
Chilli flakes (optional)
4 small eggs
Extra Virgin olive oil
4 slices sourdough bread, toasted and buttered

Pre-heat oven to 200°C. Halve avocados and removes stones plus a bit more flesh (about 1 Tbs) to increase the size of the hole. Place them in a greased baking dish where they fit snugly so they don’t fall over. I used four of those avocado serving dishes which were popular in the 70s and 80s and which you often see in second hand shops. Grease them well.

Season avocado halves with salt and pepper and drizzle a little hot sauce into the cavity. Break an egg into each then drizzle with a little olive oil Bake for 10-15 mins or until eggs are done to your liking – whites set and eggs still a bit soft is ideal. Remove from the oven, season with more salt, pepper, hot sauce and chilli flakes, to taste. Serve with buttered toast.

Serves 2-4

Variations: serve with a dollop of pesto on top. Serve with some crispy bacon.

Potato Cakes with Smoked Salmon & Sour Cream

Over the years I’ve tried lots of recipes for potato cakes, latkes and rostis. Some used whole eggs and plain flour, while others used none of the above. None of them have ever quite hit the mark.

This recipe, based on one from Yotam Ottolenghi, uses egg whites and cornflour and from now on I won’t use any other. He uses a combination of grated potatoes and parsnip, but I used all potatoes and they were delicious. Ottolenghi says to use Desiree potatoes. I used Kipflers from the garden, because that’s what I had, and they worked well.

Serve one potato cake as a starter, or two as a light lunch or supper, perhaps accompanied by a cucumber salad. The potato cakes are best served immediately, but you can make them ahead and reheat them briefly in a hot oven.

Potato Cakes with Smoked Salmon & Sour Cream500-600g peeled potatoes, coarsely grated
2 egg whites
1 rounded Tbs cornflour
1 tsp salt and freshly ground black pepper
2 Tbs snipped chives
40g butter
4 Tbs vegetable oil
To serve:
Smoked Salmon
Sour Cream

Tip grated potatoes onto a clean tea towel, draw in the sides and squeeze to remove as much moisture as possible. Place potatoes in a bowl with the egg whites, cornflour, salt, pepper and chives and mix well.

Heat half the butter and half the oil in a medium non-stick frying pan. Make three or four potato cakes using about 3 Tbs of mixture for each and about half the mixture. Cook for 2-4 mins each side over medium heat, or until golden brown and cooked through. Drain on paper towels and keep warm in a low oven. Add remaining butter and oil to the pan and make three or four more potato cakes.

Serve potato cakes (one or two per person) topped with smoked salmon, sour cream and a couple of chives.

Makes 6-8 potato cakes

No-Knead No-Cross Buns

There’s nothing quite like home-made Hot Cross Buns for breakfast over the Easter weekend. Serve them warm straight from the oven. Or make them ahead and reheat them in a moderate oven. Or split and toast them.

In an attempt to save time I thought I would see if the No-Knead Bread recipe could be adapted to make Hot Cross Buns. You always need more yeast when you’re adding fruit, sugar, butter and eggs to a basic bread dough, so I doubled the amount used in the No Knead Bread recipe.

Putting crosses on the buns is a bit fiddly so I didn’t bother and can assure you they taste just as good without! Technically this recipe is not quick because you leave the dough to prove overnight. But the actual work involved takes no more than five or ten minutes.

Basic yeast mixture:
4 cups plain flour
½ tsp dry yeast unnamed
1½ cups warm water
1 tsp salt
60g butter at room temp (I used spreadable butter)
1/3 cup sugar
1 tsp each ground cinnamon, mixed spice and ground ginger
1 egg, lightly beaten
½ cup sultanas
¼ cup dried mixed peel (optional) or use more sultanas
Extra flour as needed
1 Tbs cold water
1 Tbs sugar
1 tsp powdered gelatine

In a large mixing bowl mix all ingredients for yeast mixture with a spoon until well combined. Cover bowl with plastic wrap and leave overnight. Next day – whenever you are ready – mix butter, sugar, spices and egg into the yeast mixture, using electric beaters. Lastly mix in the fruit then tip mixture onto a well-floured surface.

Knead just enough to incorporate a bit more flour and get rid of excessive stickiness, then cut the dough into 12 even pieces. Form into balls and arrange in a greased 10-12″ (25+cm) round tin or use a rectangular one. Leave to rise for an hour or two, then bake in a pre-heated oven at 220ºC for 20 mins. Remove from the oven and brush with hot glaze while hot. Serve warm or toasted split in two and spread with butter.

Glaze: place cold water and sugar in a small bowl and sprinkle with gelatine. Zap in the microwave for 20 secs on High.

Makes 12 buns

Note: can be frozen, but best frozen without glaze then thawed, reheated in a moderate oven and brushed with glaze while hot. Made in this way the buns all stick together and need to be broken apart. If preferred bake them on a larger biscuit tray, leaving more space between each one, so they don’t stick together.

Black Pudding with Scallops, Pea Purée and Crispy Bacon

Black pudding is traditionally eaten in Britain, Ireland and Scandinavia. They also eat it in France and Spain that I know of and several other European countries probably have something similar. It’s basically a sausage made from pork blood, oatmeal and spices.

In the UK where I grew up black pudding was usually served as part of a traditional cooked breakfast, with fried eggs, bacon and mushrooms. It is in fact fully cooked when you buy it, but the flavour and appearance is improved by crisping it up in a frying pan.

In the 1880s a butcher in the West of Ireland called Edward Twomey made his own black pudding which he called after the rural town where he lived. Clonakilty black pudding is still going strong today, with the secret spice blend being handed down through the generations. The recipe was recently shared with an Australian producer, so if you would like to try some please call Cheryl Walsh on 0406 293 691. At the moment they have black pudding and white pudding – which contains pork meat and suet but no blood – with traditional Irish sausages due to be launched mid-February.

We were recently given a Clonakilty black pudding by some Irish friends to try. Black pudding and scallops is a flavour combination which goes together extremely well. So that was my starting point in creating this dish.

The “nutty” black pudding provided a perfect contrast to the creamy scallops, while the pea puree added just the right amount of sweetness – as well as a splash of colour – and the bacon provided a touch of crispy saltiness. Delicious.

Black Pudding with Scallops, Pea Puree and Crispy Bacon2 cups frozen peas
6 large scallops without roe
1 Tbs vegetable or olive oil
3 slices bacon, rind removed, finely diced
6 slices black pudding about 1.5cm thick (about 150g)
Salt and freshly ground black pepper to taste
50g butter

Cook peas in boiling salted water until tender. Dry scallops thoroughly with paper towels and season lightly. Heat oil in a medium-sized frying pan and cook bacon until crispy, stirring from time to time. Remove and drain on paper towels. In the bacon fat remaining in the pan, fry black pudding for a minute or two on both sides. Remove and put with the bacon. Lastly cook the scallops for a minute or two each side, or until golden brown.

Drain peas then whiz in food processor with butter, salt and pepper to taste until fairly smooth. Place three dollops of pea puree on two serving plates. Top each with a slice of black pudding and a scallop. Garnish with the bacon and serve immediately.

Note: if liked pass pea purée through a sieve to make if smoother, but I quite like it slightly chunky.

Serves 2

Chef Gogh’s Mango with Sticky Rice & Coconut Milk

A couple of years ago we spent a week at the Sarojin in Khao Lak, an hour and a half north of Phuket in Thailand, on our way back from a holiday in Europe. We had such a great time that this year we went back.

Since our first visit to the Sarojin Chef Gogh has been a subscriber to Café Cat. Sometimes he makes one of my desserts, turning it into a five star masterpiece and sends me a photo.

This time it was Gogh’s turn to teach me some Thai recipes. He arranged a private cooking class where I learnt how to remove the bones from a whole snapper, while leaving it intact, so you can’t tell.  Here you can see me working under close supervision from Gogh, looking very professional with a hat they lent me.

I’m not going to include the fish recipe here because removing all the bones without cutting the skin is too hard to explain in writing – you need to watch someone do it, then do it yourself straight away. I made lots of notes and hope I can do it on my own, when the time comes! You need a whole ungutted fish and unless you catch your own they’re hard to find in Australia.

Sous-chef  Steamer

Mango with Sticky Rice and Coconut Milk is my favourite Thai dessert. It’s often too sweet for my taste but Gogh’s version combines the natural sweetness of the mango with slightly sweet sticky rice and a salty coconut sauce. It’s sublime, so I ordered it for breakfast most mornings while we were staying at the Sarojin. I have slightly adjusted his recipe to use a rice cooker. If preferred, steam the rice in the traditional Thai way, then mix in the coconut milk and sugar when it’s cooked. The Sarojin serves the sticky rice in a cone made from a banana leaf. I used an ice cream scoop instead.

Chef Gogh's Mango with Sticky Rice & Coconut Milk1 cup glutinous (sticky) rice
1-2 Tbs sugar, to taste
1 can coconut cream or milk (400ml), not shaken
salt to taste
2 ripe mangoes
Lightly toasted sesame seeds

Place rice in a bowl, cover with cold water and leave to soak for several hours or overnight. Drain in a sieve then place in a rice cooker with 1 cup water. Open coconut cream or milk – cream is better as it’s thicker, but milk will do. Using a spoon, remove about 1 cup (250ml) from the top of the can – the thicker part – and reserve till serving time. Add what’s left in the tin to the rice cooker with sugar and about ½ tsp salt. Mix well, then switch on rice cooker. When rice is cooked switch off the machine and leave till cool, then cover and keep in the fridge.

To serve, cut the four cheeks from the two mangoes. Score flesh into diagonal squares, then bend back the skin as shown in photo. Arrange mango halves on four serving plates. Mix reserved coconut cream with salt to taste then divide between 4 small individual dishes or small glasses and place next to the mango. Using a lightly-oiled ice cream scoop place a scoop of sticky rice on each plate and garnish with the sesame seeds. There will be rice left over. If preferred serve rice in individual dishes and spoon some of the coconut cream on top, then sprinkle with the sesame seeds. You can also serve it all in one dish, with the cubed or sliced mango on top.

Serves 4

Spanish Eggs with Jamon

The Parlour Wine Room in New Acton Canberra has a great lunch menu at the moment where you can choose a main course from a selection of about half a dozen options for just $16, including a glass of wine or beer. I chose Spanish Eggs and it really hit the spot. The servings were quite large – I think there were 3 or 4 eggs per serve – so I have cut back a bit in my version. If you’re hungry this recipe will serve two rather than four.

Jamon is the Spanish word for ham and usually refers to dry-cured hams. Substitute Italian prosciutto or German black forest ham. I used the latter from Aldi.

Spanish Eggs with Jamon1 large onion, peeled, halved and sliced
4 red capsicums, seeds removed and sliced into strips
¼ cup olive oil
Salt, pepper and a pinch of sugar
8 eggs
8 slices Spanish jamon (prosciutto or black forest ham)
4 slices sourdough bread, toasted and buttered
Maldon sea salt and freshly ground black pepper

Heat oil in a frying pan and add the onions. Fry gently until softened then add the capsicum strips. Continue to fry gently for 15-20 minutes, stirring often. Add half a cup of water and continue to cook until the liquid has evaporated and the mixture is soft. Can be pepared to this stage and kept in the fridge until needed.

Preheat oven to 180ºC. Divide onion and capsicum among four individual oven-proof shallow dishes. Break two eggs into each dish and top with the ham, cut with scissors into pieces about 2-3 cm long.

Bake for about 8 minutes, or until eggs are set and ham is crispy. Season with salt and pepper. For a low carb meal skip the toast!

Serve with buttered sourdough toast on the side.

Serves 4

Sweet Potato Rosti with Fried Eggs

Sunday’s a good day for a leisurely cooked breakfast and about 3 weeks ago I decided to make this sweet potato rosti which I had seen in the free brochure published monthly by Coles supermarket and available at the check out.

Sweet potato, bacon, onion and thyme – preferably fresh – is a winning flavour combination, but I had to make this four times before I got it right. The first time I made one large rosti, as per the recipe, but the outsides started to burn before the middle was properly cooked. Second time I made individual rostis, like fritters, but they had a tendency to fall apart. Third time I added an egg and a bit of flour to the mixture and again made small fritters, but the flavour wasn’t the same.

The original recipe said to microwave the whole sweet potato for five minutes before grating it, but this overcooked the outside while leaving the inside raw. So on my fourth and final attempt, instead of microwaving the sweet potato I stir fried the mixture and then made it into one large rosti. This worked well and here’s my version of the recipe!

To make a more substantial meal serve rosti on a slice of buttered toast, with a green salad on the side.

Sweet Potato Rosti with Fried Eggs

1 large sweet potato (about 800g)
100g bacon, diced
1 brown onion, finely diced
3 tsp finely chopped fresh thyme (or use dried)
1 tsp salt
Freshly ground black pepper
4 eggs
Olive oil

Peel and grate the sweet potato into a bowl. A food processor with a coarse grating disc makes this a breeze. Alternatively use the coarsest side of a hand grater. Mix in bacon, onion, thyme, salt and pepper.

Heat a little olive oil in a medium sized non-stick frying pan. Add sweet potato mixture and stir fry for 5-10 minutes, or until the mixture has softened. Heat a little oil in a smaller omelette pan about 20 cm in diameter. Pack sweet potato mixture into the pan and smooth the surface, pressing down with a spatula. Cook over medium heat for 5-10 minutes or until golden underneath. Loosen around the edges, then place a plate on top and invert the pan so the rosti ends up on the plate. Slide back into pan, adding a bit more oil if necessary. Cook for 5-10 minutes on the other side.

Meanwhile in another pan, fry the eggs sunny side up, or however you like them.

Cut rosti into 4 and arrange on individual serving plates. Top each serving with a fried egg.

Serves 4

Gâteau de Crêpes Florentine

Most recipes on this blog are fairly quick and easy. Gâteau de Crêpes Florentine is a bit more time-consuming, so allow an hour to an hour and a half for preparation, plus cooking time. It can however be prepared ahead if you’re serving it to guests.

I used to make this in one large pancake stack and serve it cut into wedges. I decided to modernise it by making individual ones to serve for brunch. Making individual ones is a bit more fiddly than one big one, but using frozen spinach instead of fresh speeds things up.

If you make individual gateaux you will be left with a lot of crepe off-cuts, which can be used to make a quick dessert. Use scissors to snip them into more uniform pieces then  mix them with some apple slices, pile into a baking dish, sprinkle with sugar, dot with butter and bake in a hot oven for about 25 minutes.


2 cups cold water
1 cup cold milk
3 eggs
½ tsp salt
2 cups sifted plain flour
5 Tbs oil
100g plain flour
70g butter
2 cups milk
salt, pepper and nutmeg
2 bunches spinach (or 2 x 250g packets frozen)
250g grated Parmesan cheese
To serve:
1 carton sour cream
½ cup chopped parsley
Salt to taste

Blend crepe ingredients in blender or food processor until smooth. Cover and refrigerate for 2 hours or overnight. Add 1-2 tablespoons of extra water, to ensure the batter is nice and thin, then make 24-28 thin crêpes in a non-stick omelette or crepe pan. No need to grease the pan. Use 1½-2 Tbs batter for each crepe, swirling the pan to cover the whole area. Stack them one on top of the other on a plate. If you’re making individual ones, use a larger non-stick pan so the crêpes are big enough to cut three circles using a stacking ring.

For the filling, wash, cook, drain and chop spinach or use two well-drained packets of frozen spinach. Make a white sauce with butter, flour and milk. Add seasonings and spinach. Sauce should be thick.

For one large gateau, place one crepe on lightly buttered ovenproof plate. Spread with thin layer of spinach sauce and sprinkle generously with grated Parmesan. Continue, ending with a crepe. Cover with foil and leave in the fridge. To serve, heat for about 45 mins at 180°C, remove foil and cut into wedges, like a cake. Serve with the parsley sauce.

For individual gateaux, grease individual stacking rings and arrange on baking paper, on a baking tray. Doing three crepes at a time, cut circles using one stacking ring. So from 3 crepes you will get 9 circles. Place one in each ring, then spread some spinach sauce over, sprinkle with grated parmesan and continue until you reach the top, ending with a plain circle of crepe. You will need 5-6 circles per serving. You can either use up all the crepes and filling or just make six or so and keep the rest for another use.

Sauce: Mix and chill. Add salt just before serving.

Serves 10-12 as a starter or light lunch.

Campari and Orange Jelly with Labneh and Oranges

Looking for inspiration for a family brunch I remembered my friend Karen telling me about a Campari and orange jelly she made recently from New Food, by Jill Dupleix, published in 1994. I’m not very good at culling cook books as I often find something in an old one which I can adapt or revamp. Amongst my collection I also had a copy of that book.

I made one and a half times the original recipe and, instead of using individual moulds,  poured it into a rectangular dish, then cut it into cubes when set. I didn’t have quite enough orange juice so I added the juice of a lime. Served in Martini glasses, layered with labneh and orange segments the jelly cubes looked quite snazzy. A delicious and very refreshing brunch starter, which could also be served as dessert.

Campari and Orange Jelly with Labneh and Oranges

3 cups freshly squeezed orange juice
½ cup Campari
¾ cup water
6 tsp powdered gelatine
2 Tbs caster sugar, to taste
To serve:
Icing sugar, to taste
Orange flower water, to taste (optional)
2 oranges, cut into segments
Mint sprigs (optional)

You will need to make the labneh the day before.

Mix orange juice with Campari. Place water in a small bowl and mix in gelatine and sugar.  Zap in the microwave for 30 seconds or to dissolve the gelatine, then add to the orange juice. Tip into a small rectangular dish and leave in the fridge to set for several  hours or overnight.

Mix labneh with icing sugar and a few drops of orange flower water to taste. With a sharp knife, cut jelly into cubes and layer in Martini glasses with the labneh and orange segments. If liked, garnish with a sprig of mint.

Serves 6