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Recipes from a food-loving family

Gluten-free spicy buckwheat waffles

Pancakes or waffles on the weekend are my ritual to mark the end of the working week and the beginning of the weekend.  It is a relaxing activity that results in delicious edibles (most of the time).

You know you have done good when every person in the household thanks you for the meal.

These buckwheat waffles went down very well this morning.

Buckwheat waffles


I have adapted the recipe from a normal flour-based recipe.  They came out crispy and flavoursome.

To make enough for four hungry people you need:

1 cup gluten-free flour mix (this time I used Edmonds’ gluten free Plain Flour)

1 cup buckwheat flour

2 tablespoons soft dark brown sugar

2 tsps ground cardamom

1/2 tsp mixed spice

1/2 tsp baking soda

2 tsp baking powder

pinch salt

2 large eggs, separated

1 3/4 cups milk (a 1/4 cup cream/ 1 1/2 milk mixture is great)

1/4 cup treacle

1/4 cup light oil (sunflower or canola are good)

To make:

Heat the waffle iron.  I had mine on the 75% brown setting.

In a bowl, whisk the dry ingredients together.  In another bowl, mix the egg yolk, milk, treacle and oil.  If you are unsure about how much liquid you need for your flour mix, you can hold some of the milk back from this mix.  Add it the mixture after you have mixed the rest in if needed.

Mix the milk mixture with the dry ingredients.  At this stage, you should have a mixture that is similar to thick pancake mix (it will be stickier due to the buckwheat flour, but the pouring consistency is the same).  Add more milk if the mixture is still stiff.  Beat the egg whites into soft peaks, and fold into the mixture.

Add approx 3 tablespoonfuls to the heated waffle iron.  I’ve shown you the maximum I put in below.  Some people like their waffles very fat but I find that it is hard to get a crispy waffle this way.  If you prefer your waffles soft and pillowy, put in another tablespoon to what I have added below.

Waffle mix in the iron


Cook the waffles for at least two to three minutes. The longer they are in the iron, the crispier they will be when you eat them. I usually remove the waffle when steam stops coming out of the iron.  The waffle will be soft when you take it out, but will crisp up as soon as it cools.

Depending on your iron, you may need to add a small knob of butter to the iron before you add the mix to prevent the waffle from sticking to the iron.

Serve with your chosen accompaniments.  We had ours with whipped cream, strawberries and maple syrup.  Delicious!

Buckwheat waffles with strawberries and cream


Gluten free oaty breakfast hotcakes


Oaty breakfast hotcakes

This recipe is just as delicious as the flour version of oat hotcakes with no compromise on the texture.

The trick to cooking good oat hotcakes is using a slightly lower temperature than for normal pancakes.  This is because the mixture is denser than a normal pancake due to the oat content, and takes just a little longer to cook thoroughly.   I normally keep the heat setting on medium for pancakes, but for these, I turn the heat down to a notch below medium after the pan has heated thoroughly.

For a nice batch enough for morning tea or breakfast for two (makes about 12 or less), this is a good measure:

1 egg

300ml milk

1 tbls sugar

1 cup rolled oats (the normal porridge oats, not the wholegrain type)

90g gluten free flour (I used a mix of maize starch, tapioca flour and rice flour)

1/2 tsp baking powder

1/2 tsp baking soda

1/4 cup currants (optional)

1/4 tsp cinnamon (optional)

pinch salt

Butter for cooking

How to make:

In a large bowl, beat the egg with the milk.  Add in all the other ingredients and stir well.

The mixture should look like this:

Hotcake mixture

Leave to sit for about 5 minutes and stir well again.

Heat a pan and melt a tsp of butter in it.  When the butter is nice and sizzling, add about 1 1/2 tbls of mixture for each hotcake. Notice that the mixture is not too runny and is holds naturally into circular shape.

Cooking hotcakesLeave to cook until the mixture bubbles.  Turn over.

Cooking hotcakes

Cook for a bit longer but not as long as the first side.  It is done when you gently press the hotcake’s surface and the indentation bounces back.  Some times I turn the hotcake over once more if it looks like one side is going to get over cooked (burned) before it is ready.  This is usually a hint to turn down the heat some more…

Repeat these steps until the mixture is finished.

Enjoy on their own, or with more butter and maple syrup.  If you have them without sugar and currants they will make a nice accompaniment to a cooked breakfast of eggs and bacon!

gluten free oaty hotcakes


Gluten-free Cornmeal Pancakes

Gluten-free baking can taste like play dough.  That’s according to the eldest son who has recently switched to a gluten-free diet.  I would agree – although I haven’t actually eaten any play dough!  But I know what he means. There is a definite chewiness to gluten-free baking that doesn’t exist in normal wheat flour.  It’s due to the different composition of the starchy foods used to make gluten-free flours.

I am going to have to start doing home baking experiments to try to see if I can make him foods that don’t taste like play dough.  These cornmeal pancakes are a good start.  They were a great hit at breakfast this morning, served with bacon and maple syrup!

Cornmeal pancakes (640x480)You need:

2 cups buttermilk (I used Tararua cultured buttermilk)

2 eggs

1/4 cup sugar

2 tbls melted butter

1 cup cornmeal (that’s the floury type, not grainy like polenta)

1/4 cup gluten-free baking mix  (I used Orgran all purpose plain flour, a mix of maize starch, rice flour and tapioca flour)

1/2 tsp salt

1 tsp gluten-free baking powder

1/2 tsp baking soda

What you do:

Mix the buttermilk, eggs and melted butter together.  Add in the dry ingredients and mix thoroughly.  Leave to stand for about 10 minutes.

Drop two tablespoonfuls of mixture into a hot greased frying pan (or griddle if you’re lucky enough to have one) for each pancake.  I used a lower heat than usual, because you need to let the mixture thoroughly bubble and almost set before you flip it over, otherwise it is too loose and will break and splatter everywhere (ask me how I know!)  A higher heat will burn the pancakes before they are ready to be flipped.

Cook all the pancakes, and serve them with crispy bacon and maple syrup.  Yum!




The trip to gluten free

We were standing in the food store aisle looking at a range of delicious hand-made pasta when the eldest boy said “I think I’m gluten intolerant.”


“Well, it seems that every time I eat wheat things my face tends to break out more than usual” (he’s been having an ongoing and terrible battle with acne).

It made sense to me now he said it.  We had noted that there must be a link between his diet and his acne, because every time he went back to Hong Kong for a holiday (where wheat/gluten products are not part of the normal diet), he’d come home with much clearer skin.  We just weren’t sure what the problem was.  He’d cut down on all the obvious triggers:  sweets, stopped eating peanut butter,  all processed meats, fried foods, etc., etc., and yet still he had acne.  I’d never thought about a gluten intolerance before, and it hadn’t come up on internet searches using the terms we’d used so far.  There was nothing else about his health, apart from the acne, that even suggested that it might be something so major as a gluten intolerance.

I pondered the question, and did not buy the pasta.  We went home and I did some research on acne and gluten intolerance, and there definitely seemed to be a link.  No harm in trying.  It wouldn’t kill us, and it might make him better.

For the past week, he’s been eating a gluten-free diet.  And although he is still suffering from some breakouts, his skin is not worse.  In fact, it may be marginally better.  I understand it takes a while for the body to heal, so I’m not expecting an immediate result.  But the one thing that has made me think that he has worked out the problem has been his immediate change in mood.

My highly volatile, crabby, grumpy and unsociable teenager has suddenly gone back to being the funny, more sociable and much more pleasant person that he once was.  It makes me cry with relief and joy when I think about it.  I have my child back.  It also fills me with a terrible guilt that I have effectively been feeding him poison on a daily basis every day since he joined me in New Zealand three years ago.  I feel so stupid.  It never ever occurred to me that his very personality might have been affected by a food intolerance.

We’d talked about going to see a specialist about this skin, but having grown up around people with teenage acne (although being fortunate not to suffer it myself) it was just one of those things where you think they’ll eventually grow out of it.  I wonder how many other people are suffering the horrible effects of acne, and not know that it’s actually a symptom of gluten intolerance?

I may still take him off to a professional to have him analysed properly.  However, I think that his innate wisdom and observation of what has made his skin bad has definitely pointed out the main problem.

So, this blog is now going to contain a lot more gluten-free recipes.  Once he goes to university, you never know… they might come in handy for reference!  🙂

Spinach pie

Over the years, I have developed a spinach pie that the family adore.  It is not Spanakopita, with the layers of buttery filo pastry, and I have left out the traditional nutmeg as I don’t think it adds to the flavour.  This recipe is more accurately a spinach and cheese filling in a pastry crust.  It tastes much less fatty than the original spanakopita. The top is left partially open.  Serves four large portions, or six smaller ones.

Spinach pie

Here is the recipe:

Pasty crust:

2 cups flour

200g butter

1/2 tsp salt

cold water to mix


Cut the butter into cubes, about 1cm square (no need to be precise).  Put into a large mixing bowl with the flour and salt.  Rub the butter into the flour very roughly – there should still be largish chunks of butter visible in the flour.  Add enough cold water to mix it into a stiff dough. Knead briefly, just enough to combine all the flour and butter, and then stop.  It is important not to mix the butter into the flour too well, or the pastry will be hard and dense.  Leave it to rest in the fridge, wrapped in a damp teatowel while the filling is prepared.


750g fresh spinach (if you can get bags of young spinach with tender leaves, it seems to be nicer)

2 tablespoons chopped parsley

handful of coriander leaves

5 large eggs

1 small tub ricotta cheese (200g)

1 pkt feta, crumbled (350g)

100g grated mild cheddar

1/4 cup grated parmesan (can be left out if you don’t have any – it adds a deeper spectrum of flavour)

salt and pepper to taste


Heat the oven to 190c.

Wilt the spinach in a pot.  When wilted, rinse under cold, running water and then squeeze out as much of the water as you can.  A good way to do this is to press it with your hand in the colander – the water will run through the holes, leaving dry spinach behind.  This is a very important step, and you need to make the spinach as dry as possible, otherwise your filling will be watery.

Put the spinach into a large mixing bowl and add all the other ingredients.  Mix well.  Season to taste.  (If you like spicy food, a few chilli flakes are nice too).

Roll the pastry out, folding a couple of times during the rolling (ie fold in over itself, then roll flat, then fold over again and roll flat again – this puts layers of air into the pastry and makes it light).

Flaky pastry

Roll to about 5cm larger than the pie dish.  Drape over a buttered pie dish (I use a rectangular dish about 20cm x 30cm) and gently nudge into shape, leaving the edges draped over the side.  Pour in the filling.  Gather the pastry and gently fold it over the filling.  It will only cover the outer edges.

Spinach pie

Pop into the oven and bake for about 45 minutes, or until the filling is set and the pastry is golden.

It is nice eaten both hot or cold, and makes a good picnic dish.


Microwave Cakes

I’ve never liked microwaving cakes; they were always dry and gave me a headache. However, recently a friend informed me of a website that has spun my microwave cake world upside down. It’s called Chocolate Covered Katie and she shares a recipe for a chocolate peanut butter microwave cake, so good that I’ve made it three times in the past five days.

It’s funny how sometimes we only need that one little push to make us change our minds completely! Yesterday I added in a tablespoon of strawberry jam to give it a Cherry Garcia kick. Mmmm.

2013-10-15 17.13.54

Note: I used 2 teaspoons of peanut butter and a tablespoon of plain flour to substitute for the peanut flour. Also, choose a mug where the batter only reaches halfway up the mug, or else it may overflow.

Making butter

I have always been intrigued by tales of people accidentally making butter by whipping cream too long.  In my mind, I thought I’d make butter one day… but never got around to it.

Living overseas, I used to have access to beautiful European-style butter.  It was extremely flavoursome, and had a lovely texture to eat on fresh crusty bread.

For some reason, the commercial butter we get in New Zealand doesn’t quite ‘cut it’ in terms of my expectations of taste and texture.  So this weekend, I decided to try making my own.

It’s surprisingly quick, easy, and results in astoundingly good results.

Here’s what you need, based on the quantities I used:

  • 500ml fresh cream (if you’re in NZ, a bottle from the supermarket is fine.  If you’ve overseas, you probably need to buy heavy cream?  Not the thin kind)
  • A clean wooden spoon (with no food tastes on it)
  • Large bowl for whipping cream
  • A fine colander for draining the buttermilk
  • Container for the buttermilk
  • Optional:  a tablespoon of natural live yoghurt (with no sugar added)

For cultured butter (European-style taste), add the yoghurt to the cream and leave it on the bench overnight, covered with a plate.

Now follow the following steps for both plain and cultured butter:

Whip cream until it becomes grainy and the buttermilk starts to flow freely out of the grains of butterfat.

Now stop, and press the butter grains together, squeezing out the buttermilk, like so:

Making butter

There will be a lot of buttermilk, so I drained it into a fine-holed colander to catch the butter grains, and keep the buttermilk for pancakes later on:


You get about a cup of buttermilk from 500ml of commercial cream.  Probably less if you’re using cream straight from the cow.

Keep pressing until you have got as much of the buttermilk out of the butter as possible.  Now wash the butter:

Washing butter

Add a couple of tablespoons of clean (filtered for town water, boiled and cooled for water from a tank, well or stream), cold water and press the butter into this to wash out the remaining buttermilk.   Keep changing the water and doing this until the water runs clear.  I think I did it about four times.

If you like your butter salted, add it after the buttermilk has been washed out.  I don’t know how much you would want to add.  You’ll have to do a ‘trial and error’ taste session, but my suggestion would be to start with half a teaspoon.

Once the butter is clean, press out as much water as possible, and catch the remaining water with a clean tea towel.

Tip the butter into a container (I can see I still haven’t quite got all the water out here):

Fresh, homemade butterAnd eat!!

Fresh butter on buttermilk pancakes

Fresh butter on buttermilk pancakes with maple syrup.  Hmmmmmm.

Does it taste better than the supermarket bought stuff? You bet.

The perfect waffle

When done well, waffles are delicious.  Crispy, light, flavoursome, they soak up maple syrup like sponges and go so well with a little whipped cream.

After about two years of experimentation, I think I have finally ‘got’ the methodology for perfect waffles:  very light, fluffy batter.

Here is the result:


Light, crispy but still moist in the middle and very tasty.

Want the ingredients ?

2 cups plain flour

1 1/2 tsp baking powder

1/2 tsp baking soda

2 tbsp sugar

pinch of salt

4 large eggs, separated

2 cups buttermilk

60g (4 tbls) unsalted butter

1/2 tsp vanilla essence


Combine the flour, baking powder, baking soda, sugar and salt.  In another bowl, whisk the egg whites until soft, glossy peaks form.

In another bowl, mix the buttermilk, egg yolks, vanilla and melted butter.  Add to the dry ingredients.  The mixture should be quite loose (but not runny).  It if is still thick, add more buttermilk. Fold in the egg whites (I find using the whisk to do the folding is the best thing to do this).

The resulting, airy batter should look like this:

Waffle batter

See the large bubbles of air in the mixture, and the look of the texture on the spoon?

To fill the waffle iron, I suggest you pour about 4 tablespoons of mixture into the middle of the iron and gently even it out until it covers approximately 70% of the iron.  Once you close the iron, the rest of the mixture will press out to fill the rest of the iron.

Cook for about 4 minutes (or until you can see steam rising from the iron).

Serve fresh with your favourite topping!

A good muesli

When my siblings and I were little, my mother used to make the most delicious muesli.  She toasted it, and added dried fruit and I would eat quantities of it.

Now, years later, frowning at the price of muesli in the supermarket, and not at all happy with the taste and effect on my digestive system (excess amounts of preservative in food does terrible things to me), I decided to have a go at making my own.

The result has been so successful on all counts that I have decided I never need to look at nasty packaged muesli ever again.  Home made muesli is also so much healthier for you, and you can tune it to suit what you need to eat in terms of additional nutrients or flavour preferences!

Home made muesli

Mother’s muesli was always the same, and never varied.  However, I like to ring the changes.

Because I made this batch at Christmas time, I decided to make it more festive by the addition of crystallised strawberries, ginger and yoghurt coated cranberries. The seeds you can see in the mix are linseeds.

The fruit mix

The basic recipe goes like this:

1/4 cup liquid honey (I like bush honey or rewarewa which imparts a rich flavour.  Manuka is the best, but so expensive these days)

1/2 cup oil (use a light flavoured oil such as grapeseed)

4 cups rolled oats

1/2 cup oat bran

1/2 cup dessicated coconut

1/2 cup wheatgerm

1/2 cup sunflower seeds (pumpkin seeds are also nice)

1 cup mixed, crushed nuts (I use a base of almonds and hazelnuts.  Use whatever nut flavours you like)

Heat the oil and honey gently together, but do not boil.  Mix all the other ingredients together.  Add the oil and honey mixture and combine well.  Spread in a roasting tin and bake at 125C for about about 40 minutes or until light brown, stirring at 5 – 8 minute intervals.

Cool.  Combine with about one cup of mixed, dried fruit.  Use flavours that complement and that you like, or whatever you happen to have in your cupboards at the time.  For this batch, it was diced apricots, chopped crystallised strawberries and ginger, cranberry yoghurt raisins, sultanas and linseeds.  (I did not want to heat the linseeds so I added them to the cool mix at the same time as the fruit).

Another mix I have used for an exotic flavour was dried dates, blueberries and sultanas along with a dash of cinnamon mixed into the oat mix before toasting.

Another time, for a tropical flavour it was a mix of sultanas, yoghurt raisins, chopped dried papaya and pineapple and crystallised lemon peel.

It’s fun to stand in front of the dried fruit at the store and dream up flavour combinations.  🙂

The kids love eating this muesli.  Who knows, perhaps the habit of home made muesli will pass to another generation yet.

Home made muesli also makes a lovely gift.  Pour it into a beautiful glass jar, wrap with a ribbon and hand-written tag, and present proudly.

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