Review: Barilla gluten-free pasta now in Australia

16 Sep

Gluten Free SpaghettiGluten Free PenneGluten Free Elbows

In huge news on the pasta scene, Barilla has launched its new gluten-free pasta range in Australia. I’ve been lucky enough to get my hands on some samples of the pasta and pasta sauces and I have to say, woo hoo!

I’ve road-tested it on the whole family and there’s been no complaints. Happy little pasta-mites all round.

Have you ever experienced gluten-free pasta that collapses when cooked? And it always tastes a little odd? Well, Barilla’s pasta has a “normal” pasta taste, but even better, it’s strong enough to retain its shape when cooked. So at least you’re not having your Bolognese sauce with a side of pasta mush.

Barilla uses corn and rice flours rather than refined starches, and the pasta is made in a dedicated gluten-free facility. It’s a great way to ensure that there’s no cross-contamination with gluten, but I’d really love to see Barilla go the extra mile and put the pasta into sealed plastic bags in addition to the cardboard packaging that is currently used.

Gluten-free spaghetti, elbows and penne are currently available and Barilla’s entire range of pasta sauces are also gluten-free. We loved the basil pesto.

The pasta is available at Woolworths stores all over Australia and also at selected independent supermarkets. But hold onto your hats, folks, because perhaps the best news is that its recommended retail price is $3.69. Crikey, that’s low!

Representatives of Barilla provided me with products to sample. All opinions are my own.

Gluten-free Wild Strawberry and Rhubarb Bircher Slice

13 Sep
Gluten-free Wild Strawberry and Rhubarb Bircher Slice

Gluten-free Wild Strawberry and Rhubarb Bircher Slice

I’m cheating a bit with this post. It’s a recipe I developed a few months ago, for a competition. Mamamia Food Blogger Idol, to be exact.

Yup, crazy name, amaaaaazing prize, as you’ll see if you click on the above link.

Anyway, I didn’t get anywhere with it and shelved this recipe. It was probably a bit too off-the-wall, come to think of it. But I thought I’d dust it off just for you, and here it is. The name sounds fabulously exotic. It’s because the competition terms required that one ingredient be a particular brand of yoghurt. Don’t worry if you can’t find Wild Strawberry and Rhubarb yoghurt. Just go for whatever flavour you like. It will still work. And you could also add a little fresh, frozen or dried fruit for colour and flavour.

I included a recipe for stewed rhubarb as well, for a scrummy breakfast treat. Or just pack the slice into the lunchbox for a lovely recess.

I also had to take about a gazillion photos for a photo journal of me making the recipe, so what the heck, there’s a pic of me below in my ancient kitchen. I am now a master of the self-timer on my camera. And using a tripod. That’s what I call skill development.

Here’s my entry.


Oh, how I love Bircher muesli. I adore how the oats, soaked for hours, become all mooshy and absorb the flavour of the other ingredients. I love the yoghurt, the apple, the endless possibilities of flavour combinations. I just love it.

Since my daughter was diagnosed with Coeliac Disease more than 3 years ago, Bircher muesli hasn’t featured very prominently on our household menu. She cannot tolerate the gluten-like protein in oats, so we don’t rub it in too much by parading it around in front of her.

Whilst it’s true that there are plenty of gluten-free Bircher muesli options, I haven’t come across any that I actually like. So I’ve been thinking about doing my own version of gluten-free Bircher for some time now.

Then, as luck would have it, Mamamia decided to run the Food Blogger Idol competition, with Rachel’s Gourmet Low Fat Yoghurt being the featured ingredient. So I decided Bircher muesli was the go, but I’ve put it into a slice so that it can easily be included in kids’ lunchboxes. It’s still soft and mooshy, still has those lovely flavour combinations, and I’ve included a recipe for stewed rhubarb so you can make the most of it and have it for a special breakfast, if you wish.


2014-05-29 11.37.05


1 cup gluten-free cornflakes

2 cups gluten-free puffed rice

2 peeled, cored and grated apples (approximately 150 g of grated apple)

½ cup Rachel’s Wild Strawberry & Rhubarb Gourmet Low Fat Yoghurt

1 egg, lightly beaten


Preheat oven to 180° Celsius (conventional oven) or 160° Celsius (fan-forced oven). Grease and line an 18 x 28 centimetre baking tray.

Put gluten-free cornflakes into a large plastic bag. Tie or seal the bag and lay it on a flat surface. Gently hit the bag with a rolling pin until the cornflakes are smashed.

Tip cornflakes into a large bowl, along with all other ingredients.

Stir with a metal spoon to combine and tip into baking tray. Spread evenly in tray, pressing down with the back of the spoon and ensuring mixture is evenly spread to all sides and corners of the tray.

Bake for 20 minutes. When completely cooled, cut into 3 x 5 centimetre slices.

Makes approximately 14 slices.

Serve cold as a lunchbox treat or accompanied by stewed rhubarb (recipe below) and Rachel’s Wild Strawberry & Rhubarb Gourmet Low Fat Yoghurt for a special breakfast.

Stewed Rhubarb


Bunch of rhubarb (approximately 500 grams)

½ cup white sugar


Wash and trim the rhubarb, ensuring that all leaves are removed and discarded (as they are toxic).

Cut rhubarb into 2 centimetre pieces.

Put rhubarb in medium-sized saucepan, along with sugar and 2 cups of water. Stir to combine.

Put saucepan on high heat on stovetop. Bring to the boil, and then reduce heat to medium and simmer for 20 minutes, stirring occasionally, or until rhubarb has softened and broken down. Serve hot or at room temperature.

Makes approximately 2 cups.



Gluten-free little Tah Chins

6 Sep
Gluten-free little Tah Chins

Gluten-free little Tah Chins

Oh, okay, okay, I know it’s a fancy schmancy name, but stick with me and all will be explained.

The one and only time I’ve ever come across a Tah Chin was in the June 2014 issue of delicious. magazine (page 111). It was a Jamie Oliver recipe and I was so intrigued by the photo that I just had to try it for myself. Click here and you’ll see what I mean. According to Mr Oliver, a Tah Chin is a Persian dish, with a layer of beautifully rich and tender meat sandwiched between layers of rice. The rice is crunchy and golden on the outside and fluffy and moist on the inside, topped with a scattering of pomegranate seeds.

In all its slow-cooked gloriousness, Jamie Oliver’s recipe is really worth a try, although it does take quite a bit of time from start to finish. But it had me thinking about a quick lunchbox version. Instead of slow-cooking chunks of lamb fillet, I used lamb mince and made a quick hotpot. I served it with some green vegetables and rice for the evening meal, and then in about 10 minutes, I whipped up these little tah chins for the next day’s lunchboxes. I sent them to school with some carrot and celery sticks, cherry tomatoes and cucumber slices. The kids loved them. It’s worth noting, though, that my version does not have the same golden crunchy exterior. That reward comes only with patient slow cooking –  another reason to try Jamie Oliver’s recipe.


Little Tah Chins


2 cups cooked basmati rice (method follows)

1 egg, lightly beaten

1/4 cup Greek yoghurt

Pinch of salt

1 cup lamb hotpot (recipe follows)

2 sprigs flat leaf parsley, to garnish (optional)


Preheat oven to 180° Celsius (conventional) or 160° Celsius (fan-forced). Grease and line 6 cavities in a half-cup capacity muffin tin.

In a large bowl, combine the rice, egg, yoghurt and salt. Mix well. Spoon into each cavity and press down with back of spoon until each cavity is about one third filled.

Spoon one heaped dessert-spoonful of the lamb hotpot into each cavity and spread so that it evenly covers the rice.

Spoon one heaped dessert-spoonful of the remaining rice over the top of the lamb and gently press down with the back of a spoon so that the rice evenly covers the lamb.

Cover the tray firmly with foil and bake for 20 minutes. Remove and discard the foil and bake for a further 5 minutes.

When cool, garnish with chopped parsley, if desired.

Makes 6.

Lamb Hotpot with Basmati Rice


2 cups basmati rice (uncooked)

1 tbs oil

500 g lamb mince

1 onion, peeled and diced

1 cup fresh or frozen peas

1 tsp ground cumin

1 tsp ground coriander

1 gluten-free beef stock cube, or 250 ml gluten-free liquid beef stock

2 tbs chopped flat leaf parsley


Put rice in a saucepan, along with 4 cups of water and place on stove over high heat. Bring to the boil and then reduce heat to medium so that rice continues to simmer steadily. Simmer until all the liquid is absorbed. Set aside.

In the meantime, put a large frypan over high heat. Add the oil and heat a little, and then add the lamb mince and onion. Allow to brown, stirring from time to time and breaking up the mince into small, finer chunks.

Once the meat is browned, add the peas, cumin and coriander. Dissolve the stock cube in 250 ml water (or use the liquid stock) and add to the pan.

Bring to the boil and then reduce heat to medium. Allow hotpot to simmer for 10 minutes or until liquid has evaporated.

Set aside 2 cups of the cooked rice and 1 cup of the hotpot to make the tah chins. Immediately serve the remaining rice and hotpot.

Serves 4-5 people as a main meal.


Gluten-free birthday party

26 Aug

Gluten-free cupcakes

Gluten-free cupcakes


A few weeks ago, my daughter celebrated her eighth birthday with a party. If I’m a bit of an indulgent mother from time to time, it comes to the fore here. You see, I thought it would be nice if her own birthday party would be the one occasion at which she could walk up to a table of food and choose anything to eat. You know, choose anything to eat without first having to ask whether it’s gluten-free. Not that she minds having to ask, but it was great for her to have a little break from the everyday.

So I resolved to do a food spread that was entirely gluten-free. And that wouldn’t break the bank.

Nothing like a challenge. Continue reading

Review: Zespri SunGold Kiwifruit

24 Aug
Zespri SunGold Kiwifruit

Zespri SunGold Kiwifruit

A little while ago, the folks at Zespri SunGold Kiwifruit asked me to try out their new SunGold Kiwifruit. “What the heck?,” I thought to myself. I don’t often review products, but I am partial to a bit of kiwifruit every now and again, so thought I’d give it a whirl.

The SunGold Kiwifruit have a smooth skin and yellow flesh. They’re said to be nature’s multivitamin, rich in vitamin C and also with folic acid, fibre, potassium, iron, Vitamin E and other antioxidants. They’re also low in calories. Continue reading

Gluten-free apple yoghurt cake with chai spices

14 Aug
Gluten-free apple yoghurt cake with chai spices

Gluten-free apple yoghurt cake with chai spices

I think it was about a year ago that there was a lot of chai spice action happening in the blogosphere. Gorgeous recipes coming out with chai spices baked into all sorts of things. I love, love, love chai spices. Chai tea, mmmm. All those beautiful aromas wafting from a teacup. I think that was enough to stamp chai spices into my subconscious. And that’s where chai spices stayed, running around inside my head, until I saw this showstopping Chai Cake with Ginger Cream-Cheese Icing and Pomegranate Syrup in delicious. magazine a few months ago. I mean, seriously? Amaaazing, even though it’s loaded with gluten.

Then the idea gelled for this cake. I hope you make it, I hope you like it. We sure did, and the cream cheese icing made it even better. Iced cakes don’t often make an appearance in my kids’ lunchboxes, but as a special Friday recess time treat, they loved it.




2 eggs

125 g butter, softened

200 g brown sugar

75 g tapioca flour

125 g sorghum flour

50 g brown rice flour

1 tsp ground cinnamon

1/4 tsp ground cloves

1/2 tsp ground ginger

1/4 tsp ground nutmeg

30 g baking powder

30 g Pixie Dust (or 3 tsp xanthan gum)

1/2 cup Greek yoghurt

250 g peeled, cored and grated apple (approximately 3 apples)

125 ml oil

1.5 tsp vanilla essence


250 g cream cheese

1 tsp vanilla essence

200 g gluten-free icing mixture

1 tsp (approximately) ground cinnamon



Preheat oven to 160° Celsius (fan-forced oven) or 180° Celsius (conventional oven). Grease and line a 24 centimetre round cake tin.

Using the large bowl of an electric mixer, beat eggs on medium speed for 5 minutes. Add butter and sugar and beat on medium speed for a further 3 minutes.

Sift into the bowl the flours, spices, baking powder and Pixie Dust (or xanthan gum). Add the yoghurt, apple, oil and vanilla essence. Beat on low speed until combined.

Pour batter into cake tin and bake for 65 minutes.


Combine cream cheese, vanilla essence and icing mixture in large bowl of an electric mixer. Beat on medium speed until cream cheese is softened and ingredients are combined.

Once cake is completely cool, spread icing evenly over cake. Sprinkle ground cinnamon over top of icing.

Makes 8-10 generous slices.


Australian Gluten Free Life Magazine issue #2

11 Aug

Well, lookey here!

The second issue of Australian Gluten Free Life Magazine has just hit the newsstands, and I am honoured to be part of it. You’ll find 3 of my recipes, an interview and some happy snaps from page 76. There’s also loads of other good stuff included this month, including some beautiful recipes, a great article on how gluten can affect the brain, and a great gluten-free travel wrap-up of Singapore.

You can pick up a copy of the magazine at any good newsagent, or subscribe online here.

As ever, if we want these publications to stick around, we need to support them, so please check it out!


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