Sunday, December 25, 2011


For a long time now, my best lady friend has been on a gluten free diet. I have not, in the past, paid a great deal of attention to this, other than make sure that everything is gluten free when ever she comes over for a meal.

But this year, whilst in America, we visited the Culinary Institute of America, and I noticed that one of the prominent bakers in that Institute had written a book on Gluten Free Baking – ‘Gluten Free Baking by Richard J Coppedge Jr. Published by Adams Media, USA’ - Fig 1.

Fig 1 - definitive work on gluten free baking by Richard J Coppedge Jr.

For some reason, this got me all excited, so I bought the book, and when I returned home, made up all the ‘flour mixtures’ and started baking. I found that all the breads rose quite well if you followed the instructions in the book, but to me, a gluten or normal eating person, the recipes didn’t taste 'normal'. I felt that the taste would be completely different from the tastes of normal bread, but there must be some way of baking gluten free bread that has a ‘similar’ taste to the normal breads.

So I got ‘looking on the internet’ – an enormous amount has been written on gluten free diets – and got 'experimenting', and I came up with a bread that is not too dissimilar to one that was published already – and what is more – the taste of that bread is not too dissimilar to the taste of normal bread. The bread dough doesn’t rise excessively but it tastes delightful.

So here is my version of multigrain bread, which is quite easy to make as long as you have the necessary ingredients – keeping in mind that some of the ingredients are a little more expensive than normal.


Step 1

80 gm brown rice flour
80 gm sorghum flour
40 gm amaranth flour
40 gm tapioca starch
40 gm cornstarch starch
50 gm Chia seeds
3 teaspoons xanthan gum
2 teaspoons active dry yeast
1 teaspoon salt
Step 2
2 eggs
2 additional egg whites
1 ¼ cup water at room temperature
40 gm vegetable oil
40 gm honey
10 gm apple cider vinegar

Step 1

Sift the flours, yeast and all other dry ingredients together into a medium bowl. Stir in chia seeds and combine.
Step 2
Combine the wet ingredients in a separate large bowl using a hand-mixer on low speed. When fully combined, slowly add dry ingredient mixture and mix until fully blended, with no lumps.
Step 3
Grease a 23 cm x 12 cm bread tin thoroughly (otherwise the finished bread WILL stick!), and pour the dough into the pan, and cover it with glad wrap. Turn on the oven to 45°C and immediately place the pan in it. Allow the dough to rise for 90 minutes. It should rise to near the top of the pan.
Increase heat to 180°C and bake for approximately 40 minutes. The crust should be golden-brown. Allow to cool slightly before removing it from the pan to finish cooling. Do not slice until the bread is no longer hot. It tastes really nicely! Fig 2 - a cut slice of the multigrain bread.

Fig 2 - grainy nature of the gluten free bread

Just to give you an indication of the ‘price’ of the various items in Australian dollars:

brown rice flour - $4.95 for 500 gm
sorghum flour - $8.50 for 623 gm
amaranth flour - $12.95 for 623 gm
tapioca starch - $2.10 for 410 gm
xanthan gum - $5.65 for 100 gm

so that all the ingredients for 1 loaf of bread come to approximately $6.50; normally, a loaf of bread ranges between $3.00 and $5.00.

I also wanted to make a pastry dough that stayed upright, intact and tasted quite reasonably. On the previous times that 'd attempted to do so - I ended up in a terrible mess, with the 'dough' not standing up at all! This I found in the Gluten Free Baking book that I previously mentioned – it tasted very nice but very different, but there are quite a number flour blends to make up before you start.

White rice flour/ 1 3/4 cup/ 295 gms
Potato starch 2 cups 225 gms
Tapioca starch/ 1 ½ cups/225 gms

White rice flour/1 ¾ cup/315 gms
Brown rice flour/1 ¼ cup/220 gms
Potato starch/¾ cup/90 gms
Tapioca starch/1 cup/125 gms

White rice flour/1 ½ cups/250 gms
Tapioca starch/1 ¾ cups/250 gms
Soy flour/2 ¼ cups/250 gms

White rice flour/1 ¾ cups/280 gms
Tapioca starch/1 ¼ cups/185 gms
Soy flour/1 ¾ cups/185 gms
Whey powder/½ cup/90 gms

BUTTER - COLD/12 Tablespoons/185 gms
FLOUR BLEND 2/2/3 cup/135 gms
FLOUR BLEND 4/¾ cup/125 gms
FLOUR BLEND 5/2/3 cup/125 gms
WATER - COLD/2/3 cup/165 gms

Fig 3 - 3-2-1 pie dough in 23 cm tart pan, already baked


Step 1 - Streusel topping

165 gm flour blend 1
¼ teaspoon baking soda
60 gm butter – cold
75 gm walnuts or pecans
115 gm brown sugar
Step 2
185 gm sugar
45 gm flour blend 1
1/4 teaspoon salt
600 gm Blueberries - fresh or frozen
1 x 3-2-1 pie dough – par baked
30 gm butter

Step 1 - Streusel topping

Rub together the flour blend, baking soda, butter and brown sugar until crumbly and then mix in the nuts – you can use the Kitchenaid.
Step 2
Whisk together sugar, flour blend number 1, and salt. Toss together with the blueberries - Fig 4,

Fig 4 - blueberries mixed with the other ingredients except the butter

and immediately place in the par baked pie shell - Fig 5.

Fig 5 - the blueberry mixture placed in the pie shell

Top with the butter - Fig 6

Fig 6 - the butter placed on top of the blueberry mixture

and then the streusel topping - Fig 7.

Fig 7 - the streusel topping

Step 3
Place the pie on a baking sheet and bake at 200°C for 50 to 60 minutes, or until the crust and streusel are golden brown and the filling is bubbling - Fig 8.

Fig 8 - the completed pie with some blueberry mixture coming 'through' the streusel topping

Thank you to Richard J Coppedge of 'Gluten Free Baking' for the above flour blends and the recipe for this tart.

So being a 'non gluten free' person and an ameteur baker - I feel quite proud of myself that I've come this far!!

Wednesday, November 16, 2011


I was delighted to be taken by my daughter, Aviva, to the Berkeley Hotel in Knightsbridge, London - Fig 1, to have afternoon tea together.

Fig 1 - the Berkeley Hotel

The afternoon tea which is known as a 'Prêt-à-Portea', is inspired by the themes and colours of the fashion world. The menu is changed every six months to follow the changing seasons in fashion.

This is a creative twist to the classic traditional English afternoon tea of, cakes and pastries, the Prêt-à-Portea resembling the latest catwalk designs for the style conscious, Fig 2,3,4.

Fig 2 - a 'Prêt-à-Portea' afternoon tea with fine-bone china by Paul Smith for Thomas Goode

Fig 3 - Aviva reading the Prêt-à-Portea menu

Fig 4 - the Prêt-à-Portea menu

The selection of loose leaf teas and herbal infusions include Loose leaf English breakfast, Earl Grey, Ceylon, Lapsang Souchong, Organic Assam, Vanilla, Pear Caramel, White Peony and the Herbal infusions Camomile Citron, Wild Blossom and Berries, Chocolate Mint Truffle and African Amber. ‘Well Being’ fruit infusions include Funky Fruits, Posh Pomelo & Melon, Gorgeous Ginger, Luscious Lemon and Amazing Apple - Fig 5

Fig 5 - the interesting array of teas

The mouth-watering selection of miniatures include savoury skewers, taster spoons, elegant canapés and tea sandwiches, as well as a collection of little cakes and pastries in in the colours of the fashion season and in the style of the world’s finest designers - Fig 6,7.

Fig 6 - the range of fashion designers featured in the afternoon tea

Fig 7 - the afternoon tea 'tray'

Such delicacies include:-

Valentino orange and ginger clutch cake closed with oversized chocolate bow - Fig 8;

Fig 8 - Valentino orange and ginger clutch cake closed with oversized chocolate bow

Bottega Veneta colour blocking pink and gold pear mousse and clementine cremeux coat with matching macaroon button - Fig 9;

Fig 9 - Bottega Veneta colour blocking pink and gold pear mousse and clementine cremeux coat with matching macaroon button

Dolce and Gabbana signature gold starred chocolate éclair dress filled with hazelnut cream - Fig 10;

Fig 10 - Dolce and Gabbana signature gold starred chocolate éclair dress filled with hazelnut cream

Stella McCartney must-have polka dot sponge cake dress - Fig 11;

Fig 11 - Stella McCartney must-have polka dot sponge cake dress

Burberry Prorsum stylish black and white double breasted chocolate biscuit coat with snow white vanilla icing - Fig 12;

Fig 12 - Burberry Prorsum stylish black and white double breasted chocolate biscuit coat with snow white vanilla icing

Miu Miu winter spice glittery high-heeled shoe biscuit - Fig 13;

Fig 13 - Miu Miu winter spice glittery high-heeled shoe biscuit

Jill Sander pomegranate and grenadine mousse dress topped with colourful chocolate flower pattern - Fig 14;

Fig 14 - Jill Sander pomegranate and grenadine mousse dress topped with colourful chocolate flower pattern

Lanvin show-stopping cassis bavarois dress with crème de mûre jelly topped with signature folded meringue - Fig 15;

Fig 15 - Lanvin show-stopping cassis bavarois dress with crème de mûre jelly topped with signature folded meringue

Sonia Rykiel striped chestnut cream and almond sponge cake dress complete with trendy metallic sparkles - Fig 16.

Fig 16 - Sonia Rykiel striped chestnut cream and almond sponge cake dress complete with trendy metallic sparkles

Various other 'items' came with the afternoon tea, including duck liver mousse on a spoon - Fig 17; a beef roll, various sandwhiches and an egg mousse roll - Fig 18.

Fig 17 - duck liver mousse on a spoon

Fig 18 - a beef roll with relish, various sandwhiches and an egg mousse roll

Prêt-à-Portea afternoon tea includes champagne and/or coffee if you want it, and all the afternoon tea is served on fine-bone china by Paul Smith for Thomas Goode.

Wording in part from the the Berkeley Hotel website.

Saturday, November 12, 2011


'DINNER' is the name of Heston Blumenthal's new restaurant in Hyde Park, London. In the past, the main meal - 'dinner' - was eaten at midday, whilst it was still light outside. But candles and, later, gaslight saw 'dinner' shift to later times. People working in the cities were taking a 'lunch' to work and having their main meal - dinner - at 5.00 pm when they got home. But even today, depending where you are in the British Isles, 'dinner' might still be served at lunchtime, but suppertime is the more preferable.

Ashley Palmer-Watts joined Heston Blumenthal at The 'Fat Duck' in Bray in 1999 when it had just received its first Michelin star. Within two years, he was promoted to Sous Chef and he became Head Chef in 2003. Since 2008, he has been the Executive Head Chef for the Fat Duck group. Ashley currently heads up the kitchen at 'DINNER' - Fig 1.

Fig 1 - the 'Dinner' restaurant with the 'pineapple logo' - the idea behind this is explained later on.

Aviva, James and I had a late sitting at 9.30pm. Walking in to the restaurant, you were immediately struck by the design of the whole space. You walked through 'wine storage areas' that were temperature controlled depending on the type of wine. Then you stepped into an 'open planned' room, that had partial walls to reduce the level of the noise. There was an 'open' kitchen' behind glass walls, and a 'chefs table' next door to the kitchen. In the 'open kitchen' the main courses are made; but there are two kitchens hidden in which cold things are prepared. There is also another kitchen downstairs where all the preparation is done. The waiting staff at 'dinner' were truly excellent, friendly and an absolute wealth of information about the 'dinner' menu.

We were seated at the table - Fig 2, on which was already placed the 'dinner' menu - Fig 3.

Fig 2 - Aviva, Barry and James at the 'dinner' table

Fig 3 - the 'starters' on the 'dinner' menu

We then had the opportunity to peruse the menu, which has its basis, cooking wise, from the 1300's onwards. Boston sourdough bread was served that was just delicious. Then the three of us chose different 'starters' - Figs 4a and b, 5 and 6.

Fig 4a - Aviva chose 'Meat Fruit' (c. 1500) which is mandarin jelly coated chicken liver parfait and grilled bread. The mandarin jelly tastes, and is real mandarin

Fig 4b - the mandarin split open to reveal the chicken parfait

Fig 5 - Barry had 'Savoury Porridge' (c. 1660) which consisted of snails cooked sous vide, girolles, garlic and fennel - it was absolutely delicious

Fig 6 - James had 'Rice and Flesh' (c. 1390) which consisted of saffron, calf tail and red wine - truly scrumptious!

Then we had the main course - Figs 6 and 7

Fig 6 - Aviva and James had different varieties of steak. The steak was cooked sous vide and was absolutely tender and extremely tasty. These steaks were served with mushroon ketchup, red wine juice and the famous Heston Blumenthal triple cooked chips

Fig 7 - Barry had Powdered Duck Breat (c. 1670) which was a piece of duck breast cooked sous vide with smoked confit fennel and umbles (liver, kidney and other portions of the inside of venison and other animals)

And then we shared two desserts - Fig 8 - Tipsy Cake (c. 1810) and Fig 9 - Taffety Tart (c. 1660)

Fig 8 - Tipsy Cake is pineapple brioche with split roasted pineapple. Hence the 'pineapple' as the logo for this restaurant

Fig 9 - Tafferty Tart with apple, rose, fennel and blackcurrant sorbet

The Sommeliars are expert in their choice of wine, and whilst we only had a few glasses of wine - it was really terrific wine that we chose.

The meal finished with a small shot glass of mint chocolate ganache, which was super.

So that was the ending to a fabulous dinner at 'dinner'. Bookings are at a premium, but if you happen to be in London - then try and go to 'DINNER' - it is fantastic and one worth the fabulous experience!

Thursday, November 10, 2011


I had the marvelous opportunity whilst visiting my brother - David and sister-in-law - Lauren - who live in upstate New York to go and visit the Culinary Institute of America - New York campus. The Culinary Institute of America has three campuses - one in New York; one in Texas and the other in California.
The Culinary Institute of America is located in Poughkeepsie - about 50 miles north of New York city. It is in a really beautiful location on the banks of the Hudson River. The Culinary Institute of America started off as being a Seminary for priests, who at a later stage sold most of the land to the Culinary Institute of America. So the Institute has some old buildings but some very new ones as well.

Fig 1a - The Culinary Institute of America

Fig 1b - the symbol of the Culinary Institute of America within the floor of the main building.

We arrived at the Culinary Institute of America just in time for lunch. There are four restaurants run entirely by the students of the Institute - the Ristorante Caterina de' Medici restaurant; the American Bounty restaurant; the Escoffier restaurant and the Apple Pie Bakery Cafe. We went to the Medici restaurant which is of course Italian. The restaurant is entirely conducted by students - both the chefs and the waiting staff. The Medici restaurant - Fig 2

Fig 2 - Ristorante Caterina de' Medici

has quite a comprehensive menu Figs 3,4

Fig 3 - my brother David, my sister in law Lauren, and myself in the Ristorante Caterina de' Medici

Fig 4 - Lauren perusing the menu

and I ordered Bresaola with olive oil and Grana Padano; Potato gnocchi with beef ragu; and finally three mixed sorbets. I specifically ordered the gnocchi dish because I felt that being an Italian restaurant - the gnocchi should be extra special! Well they were special but not extra special - I imagine that it takes some time to get the gnocci to that 'mouth watering' level! Everything was served neatly and correctly, and full marks to the waiters and their instructors. You couldn't help but notice that some of the waiters and waitresses were a little nervous, but that added to the overall charm of the restaurant. There was a note on the menu to engage the waiting staff in conversation - and this we certainly did. And it was marvellous what we found out. One stunning factor was the cost of attending the Institute, which amounted to quite a sum of money. It was not surprising, therefore, that two members of our waiting team, had taken some time off 'mid course', to get a job and earn more money.
After lunch was complete, we went for a walk around the immediate area Figs 5,6,7,8,

Fig 5 - Lauren and Barry infront of the main building

Fig 6 - the fountain opposite the main building

Fig 7 - the education center

Fig 8 - walkway up to the main entrance

and then went on a tour of the various kitchens in which the students were taught. One of the kitchens was at the back of the Apple Pie Bakery Cafe where we saw the trainee chefs putting the final touches to some desserts. And the next kitchen we went to was the 'bulk kitchen' where most of the meals for the staff and students was cooked. It really looked like a 'production line' and I suppose - considering the large number of people attending the Institute, it would really have to be like that. The next kitchen we went to see was the bread making kitchen - Fig 9.

Fig 9 - a view into the bread making kitchen

The students working here are on 'night shift' where they start at about 10pm and work through the night to get fresh bread ready for the morning rush. They make a variety of different types of bread with an enormous variety of different seeds and grains. The next kitchen we visited was the cake making kitchen where students had to be precise and were weighing out the different constituents in preparation for their baking. They were making cakes, biscuits and brownies, and we were permitted to taste a coconut macaroon that some of the students made.

Interesting, the students are given an exercise where they are required to make the same tasting food in three different ways - one using a normal technique; one using gluten free techniques; and one using techniques for specific allergies to a particular product. This is extremely important considering that a significant number of the population are either gluten free or allergic to some particular product.

One thing that I noticed that was not readily apparent, was the almost complete absence of molecular gastronomy teaching, products or techniques. Being one who is very interested in molecular gastronomy techniques - it's absence was a little disappointing.
And finally the tour took us to all the four restaurants previously mentioned Fig 10,

Fig 10 - the outside of the the American Bounty restaurant

where the aim behind each of the restaurants was fully explained.

Really a thoroughly delightful day in an absolutely beautiful location.

Sunday, July 10, 2011


Which kitchen knife do I buy?

This post was brought about as a result of my daughter and son in law asking me for the name of a good set of knives to buy. And after pondering about it for some time -I consider it a very useful and important topic to write about.

You see - a knife should in a way be an extension of your hand, except your 'hand' has a a sharp cutting edge. As such it must be extremely comfortable to handle and should not unduely weigh your hand down, so that with minimal use, your hand gets tired. The balance of the knife in your hand must be near perfect, otherwise you are not going to get the ultimate out of your knife. So perusing the knife departments of the kitchen ware stores, or looking 'on line' one sees about 50 different knife brands, and each knife brand has as many as 130 different knives Everten

Now many of these knives are formulated for different specific circumstances, like cutting tomatoes; slicing smoked salmon; cutting fish and meat; etc., but there are also a whole range of general purpose knives such as the 'cooks knife' - Fig 1.

Fig 1 - two types of 'cooks knives' - a 'Furi' knife on top and a 'Wusthof Trident' knife on the bottom.

And I ask myself 'why is this so'. And the answer is very simple. In order to acheive the parameters mentioned above, and considering that there are so many 'grips' and so many different sized hands - that must be part if not all the reason why there are so many cooks knives. So that would mean, that if say a woman and her partner are doing equal shares of the cooking - you would, theoretically, require two different knives.

So then - which knife do you choose? And the answer to this question is quite simple. The person who is buying the knife for her/himself has to go into the kitcheneware store and actually handle the knife and see whether it fullfills all the parameters mentioned above eg: balance. So, for example, a person doing most of the cooking may find that a 'Global' knife suits them best as a cooks knife; a 'F.Dick' knife is well balanced for cutting bread; a 'Wusthof Trident' knife is best for boning out fish; etc.

So what I am getting at is that 'sets of knives' look great in a block in your kitchen, but it is quite rare for a single person to use ALL the knives in the block. Sure a 'knife block' may be cheaper to buy, but if you are cooking seriously, a range of differing brands will give you the ultimate feel when using knives.

I personally use a Furi knife as my cooks knife - Fig 2,

Fig 2 - a 'Furi' cooks knife on the top; a 'Furi' general cutting knife in the centre; and a 'Furi' vegetable knife at the bottom.

but use a Japanese branded knife for cutting sushi - Fig 3;

Fig 3 - a sushi knife.

a small 'Global' knife for cutting cores out of vegetables; a 'Wusthof Trident' knive for deboning fish; and a 'Kruger' knife for deboning meat - Fig 4;

Fig 4 - a 'Wusthof Trident' knife for cutting fish and a 'Kruger' Knife for cutting and de boning meat.

and a 'F. Dick' scalloped knife for cutting bread with - Fig 5.

Fig 5 - a 'F.Dick' scalloped knife for cutting bread.

But as I was saying before - just as there are so many cutting tasks to do - there are an equal number of different knives to do it with!

So if you are going shopping for a knife/knives - go to a kitchen store; try out the knives (perhaps more than once) and only then will you have a good idea of which knife suits you best!

And just a word on the sharpening of knives. I think that I can say that ALL knives need sharpening. A quick sharpening before each time you use a knife makes the cutting with the knife so much easier. Either you can learn how to sharpen the knife yourself using a 'steel' or a ceramic sharpener, or all good kitchen stores have a knife sharpening service. You will be very wise to avail yourself of this - it will make use of the knife so much easier.