Category Archives: Food & Drink

Stir-Fried Duckling Breast with Orange and Carob


There was a time when Christmas Dinner was supposed to be a special meal. Granted, it is not every day that one would cook an over-sized turkey, the 'left-overs' of which will still be being consumed right through to Candlemas, if they are not fed to the dog before this time. To the gourmet (or gourmand) that is Smiffy, every meal should be special and turkey is only suited as a bulk base for a poultry curry. This is why, last Christmas, I decided to prepare something that was not only special, but was also different from my normal fare.

A Duck!

Duck is not the easiest thing to find round here. Luckily, our butcher is able to get in frozen catering packs of duckling breasts (10 breasts, 1.5kg nett). Packs of 3 or 4 breasts would probably be more convenient – a pack this size means 3 duck meals in a week unless one has guests or a large family.

If you have a source of fresh duckling breasts or are able to buy them in any quantity, I would allow two per person.

Take Stock

To get things in the correct chronological order, we need to start out by making our fake duck stock. First, catch your duck. Er, I meat defrost the duckling breasts, if frozen. Skin as many of the breasts as you are going to use, or even all of them if you feel like it. Put the skins in a pressure cooker or stock pot with a chicken carcass (either get a raw carcass from the butcher or use the remains of a roast chicken). Pressure cook for 2 hours or simmer for 4-5 hours in the stock pot. Strain out all the bits, cool, refrigerate for at least six hours, then strain off the fat.

Making a Meal of It

Prepare a risotto of Arborio rice, Shitake mushrooms, onion, a splash of basamic vinegar, a little garlic (not too much), salt, pepper and fake duck stock. Any "luxury" mushrooms like dried Chanterelles can also be added to this provided that they do not have too strong a flavour. Cèpes (Porcini mushrooms) would overwhelm this dish.

When the risotto is under way, cut up the duckling breasts and pop them into a wok (not too hot) with a neutral-flavoured oil. When the pieces have cooked for a little while and changed colour all over, add orange juice (preferably fresh), a little white wine and a couple of tablespoons of carob syrup (in Australia, available from Macarob). The amount of liquid is not very critical as we now reduce this until it begins to caramelise.

When ready, add a little (but not too much) truffle oil to the risotto and stir in well.

Serve with a good brut Champagne, or something similar like Thorogoods Misty Morning.

Variations on a Theme

  • Rather than using a neutral oil for, try sesame oil.
  • Serve with noodles rather than risotto.

Rice Worms!

rice noodles

Chinese New Year was upon us, so I decided to do something with noodles. The only gluten-free noodles that I could find in the pantry were some sort of rice vermicelli, which I was later told was pretty ghastly anyway. Whilst I had made reasonably successful gluten-free pastas before with maize (corn) and amaranth (not in the same batch), rice was a new venture for me.

2 cups (200ml cups, that is) of rice flour, a teaspoon of guar gum and two eggs yielded a not-too-sticky dough that was ideal for the pasta extruder. Whilst my extruder lacks a die for any form of noodles or spaghetti, it does have one for very small maccharoni (probably maccharonininini or something) which I used to produce my ‘rice worms’.

There was little problem with the extruded and cut pasta sticking to itself or the plate so I was able to dry it on a tea towel without having to be careful to keep the pieces separate.

As this pasta is a little more physically delicate than the wheat variety, I added it to my chicken chow mein after the vigorous stir-frying had been done and actually let it cook by steaming, with the lid on the wok.

The result was very nice indeed – both of us enjoying it immensely.

It does take a fair bit of effort to make pasta like this – at least it does when I do it – but the yield of the batch was a large one so there was enough left over for Jane’s lunch the next day, which justifies the time spent. Larger batches would probably be even more economical on time, allowing me to prepare enough for a few meals, most going in the freezer.

Chris Jarmer @ Air


Up until yesterday, we had thought that there was little in the Rundle Mall/North Terrace area of Adelaide that warranted much attention in terms of dining. Oh, there are plenty of places that offer food, but little that we would want to or be able to eat, with Jane having to eat gluten-free and me being just plain fussy.

Yesterday we found ourselves in David Jones late morning with the plan of action being eat, home. We had been past Chris Jarmer @ air any number of times and decided that this was a good time to give it a try.

We wandered in from the side entrance from David Jones (the main entrance opens onto North Terrace). We stood beside the ‘Please wait here to be seated’ sign for quite some time. And waited. After deciding that the we had either a) become invisible or – more likely – b) that the sign had been put in the wrong place, we walked over to just inside the main entrance, from where we were guided to our choice of table.

Gluten Free? Yes!

It’s the first question that we have to ask, and the answer decides whether we will stay or go elsewhere. We were delighted that our waitress was able to point out gluten-free options on the menu – we have seen our share of blank looks when asking the question. A double-check with the chef confirmed that the vegetable risotto was safe for Jane so she ordered that with chicken (available as an optional extra). I ordered a linguini with prawns with a side-dish of sliced chorizo.

And lo, it was good

The food arrived quickly and was most enjoyable. The linguini was a little light on salt for my taste, but salt can always be added – but not taken away. Whilst the meal was an enjoyable experience, more importanly we now have a good eating spot in the centre, without having to traipse over to Norwood, Central Market, or down the hill to Jolley’s Boathouse. And they serve breakfast. Did I mention that they serve breakfast? For those of us who have to get up at an unholy hour to travel to Adelaide, waiting until noon for a meal can be painful; a good breakfast establishment is a treasure to find.


…for breakfast and lunch 7 days a week and dinner Friday nights.


Chris Jarmer @ air – 210 North Terrace, Adelaide, 5000

Telephone: (08) 8305 3271 (warning: on-screen movement/Flash content)

Plain Vanilla


Having given up on making sugar-free ice creams, I have gone back to basics and am in the process of making a batch of “plain vanilla”.


  • 900ml A2 milk
  • 400ml thick cream
  • 250g caster sugar
  • 6 eggs
  • vanilla essence to taste (I used 6ml in this batch)


Whisk together until well mixed, then run through the ice cream machine in as many batches as it takes. In our machine, this looks like it will be two-and-a-bit batches, so I will make one full batch, then divide the rest into two roughly equal batches.


I managed to fit the three batches into a couple of 1 litre storage containers. Tasted good cleaning out the bowl, texture was about right.

Finished product: close to perfect.

Allergens & Other Nasties

  • Milk Proteins – despite claims that A2 milk may be less allergenic than that commonly available, this may not be the case. I know that I have far better tolerance of sheep and goat milk cheeses than cows milk cheeses, but whether ?-casein is involved, I know not.
  • Lactose
  • Eggs


Having just about polished off the first litre of this ice cream, I have decided that the next batch should have more cream and less milk to give a better texture. A little more vanilla essence would probably go down well, too. (I like a lot of vanilla flavour in my vanilla ice cream.)


Smiffy’s Piña Colada Ice


Whilst re-reading Terry Pratchett’s “Witches Abroad”, I decided to find out once and for all what a banananana dakry [sic] really was.  After a spot of Googling, I came across a page of rum cocktail recipes (didn’t bookmark it) and spotted the Piña Colada, noting the similarities with my real coconut ice.

OK, Piña Colada is supposed to contain light rum, but I thought that I would have a bash at preparing a Piña Colada-ish frozen dessert – with dark rum – as a possible relief from the dreadful heat that we have been having recently.


  • 400ml can coconut cream
  • 240ml individual carton pineapple juice (or fresh if available)
  • 200ml dark rum (Captain Morgan used here)
  • 75g dark brown (soft) sugar
  • 75g caster sugar
  • 2 large eggs


  • Whisk all ingredients together
  • Prepare in ice cream maker – may need to be done in two batches


I have tasted the mixture before and after going in the ice cream maker – very pleasant, but a bit of a sugar rush taken away from a meal.  I have great hopes for the finished product, after it has had a couple of hours in the freezer.

Whilst the coconut ice merely had a trace of rum for flavour, it should be noted that this dish is alcoholic.  Based on the rum being 37% ABV, I calculated that the unfrozen mixture was about 8% ABV and the frozen (expanded) end-product around 5% to 6% ABV.  So – “Enjoy this dessert responsibly”.


Contains eggs.  Should not contain wheat, gluten, dairy, nuts, soy (unless in the coconut cream – check the label).

Perfecting Gluten-Free Fish and Chips

This is not the first time I have written about gluten free fish and chips.  Since my original experiment I have managed to get both thebatter and the chips just the way we like them.


To be perfectly honest, I had never given much thought about how to make chips; I just assumed that you needed decent potatoes (you do) and you fried them, end of story.  Not so – there is an art to making chips, but it’s not a hard one to learn.  I picked up an invaluable tip watching the BBC food show, The Hairy Bikers Ride Again.

Firstly, find out what type of good chipping potato your greengrocer or supermarket (or garden!) has available.  I don’t grow my own potatoes due to the fact that our soil goes between a slurry when (and if) it rains and concrete in the summer – not conducive to harvesting things that need digging up.  Of late, I have been using a variety called ‘Red Rascal’.

If the potatoes are not washed, wash them thorougly.  If the skin is manky, peel them, otherwise don’t waste the best bit of the potato!   Slice the potato into chip-thick slices.  Are the surfaces of the slices really wet?  If so, get as much water out as you can with paper kitchen towel, unless you want the fat to boil over.   Then cut the slices into chips.

Pop the chips into the deep fat fryer for about 10 minutes at 160 degrees Celsius.  Remove, allow to drain, then set aside and allow to go cold.  That’s the Hairy Biker tip.

Turn the fryer up to 180 degrees Celsius, then fry the cold, nearly-cooked chips “until ready” – about five minutes, but may vary.


As I mentioned in my previous article, Tommy Ruffs (Arripis georgianus) make for great fish and chips.

My rice batter now consists of a cup of rice flour, about half a teaspoon of guar gum and a cup of water.  If too thin, add more flour.  If too thick (you want it to cling to the fish, but not the whole bowl-full), add more water.  The temperature of the water does not seem to matter too much, we’re not making tempura here.  You can add salt to the batter or not – it doesn’t appear to affect the way the batter sticks or cooks.  One variant is to replace part of the water with white wine.

Make up the batter, dip the fish in, fry at 180 degrees Celsius in threes or fours (based on something the size of a Tommy Ruff fillet) for a couple of minutes, remove and reserve.  Once all fish have been battered and have had their initial fry, get them all in the basket together – provided that your fryer is big enough –  to finish them off.  The reason for batching is to ensure that all pieces get roughly the same cooking time.


If you are lucky enough to have the time and energy, serve your fish and chips the civilised way with some freshly made mayonnaise.  (If you can get Hellmann’s, it’s probably the best you’ll get out of a jar, although I can only speak for the British variety.)  Otherwise, salt and a little balsamic vinegar.

Gluten Free Feeds

It is now 5 months since the launch of Gluten Free Feeds, an aggregation service for feeds from gluten free bloggers the world over.

There are currently 6 feeds being aggregated on GFF (see sources), including Life Without Gluten, from this very site.  Whilst this may not sound a lot, there are some prolific writers amongst that number so there is always plenty of fresh content.

If you are a gluten free blogger and would like your feed added, please get in touch through the GFF site.

When I am less busy, I plan to replace the Drupal software currently running GFF with an updated version of my own Aggie the Aggregator software.  Whilst I think that Drupal is a great content management system, I find the aggregator rather weak and inflexible; the gluten free Aggie should present a tidier, fully searchable site.

Sheep Onna Stick

Tonight, we enjoyed my “sheep onna stick”, or lamb kebabs. Now that I have this simple recipe of to pat, I will share. You will need:

  • A lamb loin
  • Olive oil
  • Ground cumin
  • Salt
  • Ground black pepper
  • Harissa (I use either the Ferrero or Cap du Bon brands from Tunisia)
  • Just a dash of white wine (or cider) vinegar
  • Garlic – either finely chopped, crushed or purée
  • Skewers – I use bamboo satay sticks

Bone the lamb loin (or get the butcher to do it for you), remove the eye of the loin and trim the smaller fillet that comes off with the bone. Reserve the flatter pieces on the flap for mincing for other recipes – they are too fibrous to be enjoyed in this recipe, which uses just about the tenderest and juiciest cut of the lamb.

Chop the eye and fillet into cubes of about 15mm to 20mm and put into a bowl. Add all other ingredients to the meat, in proportions to suit ones taste. Stir well and either leave to marinade or use immediately.

Put meat onto skewers and grill, turning once. I use a fan-forced grill (broiler in the USA?) at 175°C for 20 minutes.

I tend to serve this off the skewer with mushroom fried rice. Goes well with a full-bodied red.

This recipe may also work well with goat.

Rice Waffles: The Definitive Recipe

After several batches of rice-based waffles, I present my batter recipe for public consumption:

  • 2 cups rice flour
  • 1 teaspoon guar gum
  • 1 teaspoon gluten-free baking powder
  • 1 eggs
  • 1 cup vegetable oil (I use peanut)
  • 2 cups water

And that’s it. It makes a fair number of waffles, but I try to make sufficient that I only need to do them every fortnight. (My wife uses them for breakfast.)

Smiffy’s Madeira Fruit Cake

I have further developed my gluten and dairy free fruitcake recipe, this time including Madeira – actually a verdelho liquer from Sevenhill Cellars, our friendly local Jesuit winery. This is about my fifth fruitcake variant, as I go through a process of what we software developers call “debugging”.

The following are approximations as this is deliberately a “not rocket science” recipe.

  • 1 cup green pea flour
  • 1 cup chickpea flour (or 2 of this if no green pea available)
  • 1 cup tapioca flour
  • 1 cup rice flour
  • very heaped teaspoon guar gum
  • 2 cups dark brown sugar
  • 1 packet yeast
  • 400g+ dried fruit
  • 4 eggs
  • 1.5 cups vegetable oil
  • 0.5 cups Madeira
  • 50ml dark rum
  • large pinch ground ginger
  • large pinch ground cinnamon/cassia
  • large pinch ground cardamom

Sieve all dry ingredients apart from fruit into bowl, stir together with a DRY whisk.

Make well in centre, add eggs and liquid ingredients, stir well until thoroughly mixed.

Add fruit, stir until well distributed. Beat if you have the energy. Thorough mixing is important for this recipe, aeration not particularly so.

Divide into greased baking moulds. I use a couple of silicone bun (muffin) moulds for the bulk of the mixture, the rest going into a silicone loaf tin.

Prove for 1 hour with oven just on (warm to the hand, not hot).

Oven to 150°C, bake for 35 minutes or so for buns, another 15 or so minutes for small loaves, longer for large loaves.