Fishy fingers with special seafood mocktail sauce

Oh dear, the warm weather is upon us and I’m not liking it one little bit this year! I’m dreading the full swing of summer! Although one bonus of this weather is the lack of “cooking” I can get away with because salads are just perfect in this heat.

We pulled out our trusty kitchen sprouter last week and got sprouting. It didn’t take long before we had sprouts ready to use so this week has been full of sprouty salads…so much more interesting than a basic coleslaw or green salad. I just love the crunch the sprouts give, not to mention the taste. And what accompanies a salad better than a little seafood? Not much at all! So I decided to give the kids a little treat and make some fish fingers, gluten free of course πŸ™‚

Oh but I didn’t stop there! Yes, I was dying from the heat but after turning on the cooling, I cooled off, got motivated and made special sauces to dip our fishy fingers into and to dress our sprouty salad with. So the dinner menu read a little like this…Fishy fingers with special seafood mocktail sauce accompanied by a sprouty rainbow salad with creamy dresssing. Yum? I’ll say!!

So, the sauces. I recently saw a recipe on another Failsafe blog, “Failsafe Foodie”, for Magic Sauce. I was intrigued and wanted to give it a go, so I did last night. Only problem was I was missing one ingredient, and the final product was way too sweet for my palate, so with a few little tweaks, I came up with my own, slightly less sweet version and I shall call this….hmmmmm….sticky sauce, perhaps. Yep, that will do for now. The other “sauce” was actually my regular whole egg garlic mayonnaise. Then I had an epiphany! What if I mix the 2 sauces together? That could be YUM! Well, guess what? It was delicious! Oh, and perfect for dipping our seafood morsels into, so it became known as our “special seafood mocktail sauce”. All I did was place a couple of tablespoons of mayo into a little dish then add sticky sauce to taste, which was about 2 to 3 teaspoons for me, and mix well.

Fishy Fingers

1kg of firm white fish (I used gummy shark because it was well priced)

2 eggs beaten lightly

gluten free plain flour (or rice flour)

1 tsp of salt

1/2 tsp of citric acid (optional)

Rice crumbs (I use a mix of quinoa and rice)

Cut the fish fillets into finger sized pieces, working across the grain (you could get your fishmonger to do this for you to save you some time). Mix the flour, salt and citric acid together then roll the fish pieces in it, shaking off any excess. Dip into the egg then coat well in the crumbs. Pan fry over medium to high heat, in a little oil, until cooked through. Yep, that simple.

Sticky Sauce

1/2 cup of golden syrup

1/4 cup of gin

1/2 cup of pear juice

2 to 3 tsp of salt (or to taste)

1 tsp of citric acid (or to taste)

3 tsp of carob syrup

1 tsp of tapioca starch

Place golden syrup, gin, pear juice, 2 teaspoons of the carob syrup, salt and citric acid into a saucepan and bring to the boil. Simmer for about 5 minutes. Mix remaining carob syrup with the tapioca starch then add to the pot, stirring well. Simmer until thick and shiny. Allow to cool. For a little extra something, which would be perfect in a stir fry, add a clove of crushed garlic at the beginning.

Sprouty Rainbow Salad

Ok, so there are no exact measurements for this, like any salad really, just whatever looks good.

Red cabbage shredded (I have never understood why this stuff is called red, it’s purple!)

Wombok (Chinese cabbage) shredded

Spring onions finely sliced on the diagonal

Lots of delicious sprouts. I used mung bean and French lentil sprouts

Celery leaf (preferably home grown as it has a real pepperiness) roughly chopped (or parsley if you prefer)

Whole egg garlic mayonnaise

Whack everything in a bowl and mix well.

Special Seafood Mocktail Sauce

2 tbsp of mayonnaise

2 to 3 tsp of sticky sauce

Place in a little dish and mix well. Of course if you need more sauce than that, double/triple the quantities πŸ™‚

Sticky sauce on the left and seafood mocktail on the right

The finished dish


My middle son is having a grade 2 sleep over at school tonight, to prepare them for school camp next year. The teachers have organized pizzas and soft drink for dinner and popcorn and lollies for a snack later as the kids watch a dvd. Well of course my guy can’t have any of that so I have spent a bit of time in the kitchen today, preparing food that he can eat. So the menu for him tonight is homemade gluten and dairy free pizza, savoury nibbly no-nuts and white marshmallows. Breakfast for the masses will be toast with jam or vegemite so I’ve sent along a couple of slices of white gluten free bread, ready spread with nuttelex. Wow, there’s so much to think about for an occasion like this. Imagine what I’ll have to go through for a 3 day camp!!!

I already have a gluten free pizza base that we all love, but today I wanted something a little different. No, the truth is I couldn’t be bothered mixing all the flours for the other one, then putting all the containers of flour back into the pantry so after my dazzling success with the white bread the other day, I decided to try adapting that recipe for pizza and guess what… worked! So here it is……

2 cups of white gluten free plain flour

2 tbsp of white sugar

1/2 tsp of salt

1 1/2 tsp of xanthan gum

2 tsp of dried yeast

2 eggs

3 tbsp of oil

3/4 cup of warm water

Mix all the dry ingredients together in a large mixing bowl. Beat the eggs until pale and fluffy then add the oil followed by the water. Pour the egg mix into the dry ingredients and using the dough attachment of an electric mixer, mix until a ball of dough forms. From into a ball, cover with plastic wrap and set aside for 30 minutes. Divide dough into 3 and roll out to desired thickness. If you want a larger and/or thicker pizza base, divide in half. Place on greased pizza tray and set aside in a warm spot for another 30 minutes or so. Top with your favourite toppings then bake at about 180Β°C until the edge is golden brown. This took somewhere between 30 and 45 minutes in my oven.

Topped with pear sauce, roasted potato and swede, spring onion and egg for a delicious failsafe and dairy free pizza



I did it! I did it!! Home made gluten free pasta!

Since going gluten free, I have really missed the silky, soft, delicious pasta I used to make. You really can’t beat home made pasta. I have been thinking about this for ages and finally felt motivated and inspired enough to give it a try today.

Passing it through my pasta machine was a bit of a challenge, but with perseverance and sheer determination I managed to get some lovely strands of fettuccine…and it was well worth the effort too. Ok, it’s not as amazingly wonderful as regular glutenous pasta but when you have no choice and must be gluten free then this is a fantastic compromise and I’m here to tell you that I’ll definitely be doing it again. I think my next challenge will be to come up with gluten free gnocchi….ohhh, I’m drooling at the thought.

So back to my pasta…..the dough is a lot more fragile than regular glutenous pasta so you’ll need to work in smaller batches and not make the strands of fettuccine (or spaghetti if you prefer) shorter than you normally would and you certainly can’t roll it as thinly as regular pasta. I found that number 3 on my machine was as thin as I could go, when I used to go right up to number 6 or 7 for wheat based pasta. If you don’t have the luxury of a pasta machine, you can still make it, just roll out between 2 sheets of baking paper then cut into strands as wide as you desire. Make sure that you roll the dough as thinly as possible first though otherwise you may just end up with a stodgy mess once cooked.

Once made, you can store in the fridge for a few days or even freeze it. This quantity makes 500 grams

3/4 cup of rice flour

1/2 cup of tapioca flour (or arrowroot)

1/4 cup of besan flour (chickpea/gram flour)

1/4 cup of quinoa flour

1/2 tsp of xanthan gum

3 large eggs (I used 700g eggs)

1/2 tsp of salt


Mix all the dry ingredients together. Now, you can do this straight onto the bench or in a large bowl then turn out for kneading, make a well in the centre of the flour, crack in the eggs and mix to form a dough, adding a little water if the dough is too dry or a little extra rice flour if too wet. Knead into a smooth ball, wrap in plastic wrap and rest for 30 minutes. Cut into 8 pieces (for easier handling) then roll out each piece individually to make your pasta, but keep the remaining dough well wrapped to ensure it doesn’t dry out. Use an extra sprinkling of rice flour if the dough gets sticky while rolling and when you’ve cut your pasta ribbons, coat in rice flour to prevent the strands sticking together. Store in the fridge until you’re ready to use. To cook, bring a large pot of water to the boil then add the pasta and a little salt. Cook for about 3 minutes or until just tender. Drain and top with your favourite sauce.

Little nest of eggs

Nice smooth ball of dough

First few rolls of the dough

My pretty ribbons

The finished product with yummy mussels





Yummy strawberry compote

Well the salicylates challenge is finished and I had a lot of strawberries left over that were slowly getting a little long in the tooth so I decided there was only one thing to do with them…..cook em up! Luckily not all of us are on this Failsafe diet so they would get eaten one way or another, but not if they went off completely.

For breakfast yesterday I fancied some muesli with yoghurt and strawberries so I got busy cooking up my little jewels of yumminess. And oh were they yummy…bubs devoured what was left, ruining my morning snack 😦 So now I’m addicted and will be buying strawberries on a regular basis just to make this little treat. Perhaps it will take over my pregnant Mars bar cravings…my waistline can only hope πŸ™‚

500g of strawberries cut into quarters (smaller if they’re big berries)

2 tbsp of brown sugar

1 tsp of vanilla

Place all ingredients into a saucepan and cook over low heat until soft and syrup, stirring occasionally. Eat warm or cold…YUM!

Mmmm, look at that syrupy goodness *drool*

Still challenging and chicken “koftas”

The salicylates challenge continued but I think it’s a big fat fail. Well not totally. After 6 days my middle son’s behaviour became a little out of control once again. He was whingy, whiny, obstinent and rude, all topped off with some incredibly toxic, shall we say, wind. You know the type, the ones that make you gag and run for the door! Unbearable!!! So I have concluded that he can tolerate high levels of salicylates for about 3 days before he starts heading slowly down hill, before the big crash. That means we can probably have a sals loaded meal once a week, or can go out for dinner without so much stress about what he can eat πŸ™‚ Since I had planned the weekend meals ahead of time, I persisted with the high levels of salicylates in our food and decided to start afresh Monday morning (that’s today). So back to “beige” food for a week or so, maybe more but hopefully less, to detox his poor little system before we challenge red meat.

Saturday night’s dinner was to be koftas. “Hubby” wanted lamb ones but my middle son is red meat free at the moment so I had to make up 2 batches, one with chicken. I guess technically I can’t call them koftas because they are traditionally made of lamb, but hey, there’s nothing traditional about this family so chicken koftas it is!

Now, in this house, there is no exact science for making burgers and koftas but they always come out splendidly, if I may say so myself, so what I have written is really just a guide and you could use any herbs and spices you like and shape them any which way you like and therefore call them anything you wish…meat patties, chicken balls, burgers….

With the chicken ones, I find that thigh mince produces the best results. Breast mince is really lean and therefore produces a very dry result. If I use beef mince, I find that the lean stuff is the best, otherwise you have to double the amount of crumbs you use to help soak up the fat, resulting in a less meaty patty. However, I have never seen a choice in leanness for lamb mince, nor have I ever had an issue with it being too fatty for some reason.

Chicken koftas

1 kg of chicken thigh mince

1 medium onion finely diced

2 cloves of crushed garlic

2 eggs

2 tsp of paprika

2 tsp of salt

grind of black pepper

1 tbsp of fresh sage

1 tbsp of fresh tarragon

4 rice cakes, whizzed in the food processor to form crumbs

Place all ingredients in a bowl and, using clean hands, mix really well. (If, unlike me, you have a realllllly good food processor, you could whiz it all up in there. I tried it with a second batch, to try and make job a little easier but it bacame very apparent that I need a new processor….a realllllly good one this time.) Roll into… how do I describe the shape? Elongated balls? Fat, rounded sausages? Of course, in all the meltdown mess of the salicylate reaction in my son, I forgot to take photos 😦 Cook in a hot pan with a little oil, or on the barbecue, until cooked through.

Lamb koftas

1 kg of lamb mince

1 medium onion finely diced

2 cloves of crushed garlic

2 eggs

4 rice cakes, crushed to crumbs

2 – 3 tbsp of your favourite Middle Eastern seasoning (or 2 tsps cumin, 2 tsps coriander, 2 tsp paprika, 1/4 tsp cayenne)

1 tbsp fresh, chopped rosemary

1 tbsp fresh, chopped oregano

2 tsp of salt

grind of black pepper

Follow the same method as for the recipe above and cook in the same manner. If you want to spice things up a little, add some extra cayenne or some fresh or dried chilli.



Peachy keen frozen dessert

I inspired myself with my super simple pear and maple sorbet and decided it could be done with pretty much any tinned fruit so I gave it a go…with peaches. When I pureed the fruit, it didn’t quite come out nice and smooth, instead it was a little lumpy. I could have gone to the effort of straining it but that would defeat the purpose of developing super simple frozen desserts. Due to the texture of this peachy delight, I was hesitant to call it a sorbet but if you can be bothered straining it, or even using a juicer (of which I don’t have….yet) to make your “puree” then you could definitely call it a sorbet. Whatever you call it, it’s delish!. Oooh, it would be extra yummy with a splash of vodka or gin πŸ˜‰

1 large can (about 825g) of peaches in syrup

2 tbsp of maple syrup (or any other sweet syrup you like)

1/2 cup of soda water

Puree peaches (with their syrup) and maple syrup in food processor until as smooth as you can get it then pour into an ice cream maker with the soda water. Churn for about an hour or until pale and fluffy looking.

Mmmmm, peachy goodness

Super simple pear and maple sorbet

My ice cream maker would have to be about the best investment for my kitchen to date. With all these individual food intolerances in the family, I can’t just go out and buy a tub of ice cream that everyone can share. In fact, I can’t go out and buy a tub of ice cream for any of us to eat individually either…oh no wait, there are a couple of commercial sorbets that a couple of us can eat but they never taste as good as anything home made, they’re just a little less labour intensive, which, when you spend so much time making most things from scratch, can often make things taste better.

I’m forever trying to find ways of making my job in the kitchen less time consuming and a lot more simple. Now, I do love frozen desserts but I find it challenging to find the time and botheration factor to do so. I have been known to make the base for an ice cream, put it in the fridge to chill and then either forget about it or not find the time to put it in my whiz bang ice cream machine…then I feel as though I have wasted so much time and energy. I need simple solutions to this and the other night I had an epiphany! But that only solves the dilemma for one type of frozen dessert. Oh well, it’s better than nothing.

1 large can (about 825g) of pears in syrup (not juice, it needs to be syrup)

2 tbsp maple syrup

1/2 cup of soda water

Empty the can of pears (syrup and all) into the food processor along with the maple syrup. Puree until smooth. Tip the puree and the soda water into your ice cream maker and turn it on. Yes, it’s that simple! You’ll need to churn it until it looks a bit like mashed potato. It took about 6o minutes in my whiz bang machine. Store in the freezer, obviously….if it lasts that long!

Aussie Onion Soup with Gluten Free Croutons

Still on the salicylate challenge and we wanted something a little different for dinner. It was a miserable day here in Melbourne yesterday so soup seemed very fitting. I wracked my brain to come up with something interesting that was also high in salicylates and for some odd reason came up with French onion soup….but it had to have a twist as I don’t eat beef therefore would not and could not use the traditional beef stock (besides beef stock is far too high in amines for my middle guy to have it, so chicken stock it must be), nor could I make the traditional cheesy croutons to go with it as my middle son is dairy free for the moment and we are all gluten free. Otherwise, I could still use loads of onion and fresh thyme from my garden.

I used to cook with a lot of fresh herbs pre Failsafe, nothing beats them. But since being on this diet, the only time they get used is when my big guys are at their father’s and when you’re cooking for 2 and a quarter people, you don”t really need a lot, so my ol’ thyme bush is a little neglected and therefore overgrown…but it still tastes just as good. It is also abundant in flowers which has never really happened in the past because I was using it so frequently that flowers never really had time to grow. I must say though, the flowers made for a very pretty garnish.

Now I must tell you, there is a very easy way to peel and slice 2 kilograms of fresh onions….get someone else to do it for you, but, if like me, you’re not that lucky, do not, I repeat, DO NOT make the mistake I made and go the cheap option of pre packed small onions…you’ll feel like you’re peeling and chopping and crying for hours. Get the BIGGEST ones you can find!!! Peeling onions really isn’t a nice job but this soup makes it well worth the effort.

So the dilemma with the croutons. It’s really not French onion soup without cheesy, crusty slabs of toasted goodness on top. What is a gluten and dairy free mum to do???? Make gluten free bread and turn it into garlic croutons then rename the dish Aussie Onion Soup! That’s it!! Of course, we’re not all dairy free so some ofΒ  us could have the cheesy goodness πŸ™‚ Oh the bread, what bread to use. I really wanted a fluffy, white, crusty loaf but have yet to find one that I like. Google was my friend once again and in true Schana style, I just could not help changing the recipe I found…and of course, I didn’t take note of which site I got it from so sorry gf bread making person who inspired my efforts yesterday, there are no accolades coming your way because I don’t know who you are. Ah, nope, I found it thanks to my trusty browsing was Now you can compare my changes πŸ˜‰

Soft spongy gluten free white bread

2 cups gluten free flour blend (your favourite commercial one will do, that’s what I used…my own favourite of course, not yours ;))

1 1/2 tsp xanthan gum

1/2 tsp of salt

2 tbsp of white sugar

2 1/2 tsp of dried yeast

2 medium or large eggs

1 tsp of malt vinegar ( I know this is moderate amines but such a small amount should be ok)

3 tbsp of canola oil (or sunflower, safflower, rice bran oil)

1 cup of warm water

Combine all the dry ingredients in a bowl and set aside. Beat the eggs and vinegar in a mixing bowl until well combined then add the oil and beat a further minute or so. Add about 3/4 of the water and mix well. Using low sppeed on your mixer, carefully and slowly add the dry ingredients, adding more water as needed. Once combined, the mix should resemble a thick cake batter. Pour into a greased and floured small bread tin (about 12cm x 22cm), cover with plastic wrap then set aside in a warm spot until doubled in size. Bake at 180Β°C for about an hour or until the loaf sounds hollow when tapped. Allow to cool before slicing.

Aussie Onion Soup

2 kg of onions

3 cloves garlic, sliced finely

2 tsp of salt

2 tbsp of fresh thyme

2 litres of chicken stock

1 tbsp of flour (of course I use gluten free)

Oil for sauteeing

Peel and slice the onions. In a large pot, heat the oil over high heat then add the onions, garlic and salt. Sweat down, stirring regularly but allowing to catch on the bottom every now and then to encourage a little caramelisation, but don’t burn. Once the onions are cooked within an inch of their lives, but not burnt of course, add the flour and cook out for a couple of minutes, stirring often. Add the stock and thyme and bring tot he boil. Reduce heat and simmer for no less than half an hour. Season to taste with salt.

Now for the croutons. Slice your freshly baked bread and grill on one side until golden. Yes, I know, it seems sacrilegious to toast such fresh, yummy goodness, but it must be done. In a small bowl, mix up some butter or dairy free spread (Nuttelex) with a couple of cloves of crushed garlic (or more if you want to ward off vampires) and a sprinkling of fresh thyme. Spread generously on the untoasted side of the bread then place back under the grill and cook until golden, being careful not to burn the crusts.

As for the cheesy croutons, traditionally Gruyere cheese is used but since this is Aussie onion soup, you can use whatever cheese you like. I used a blend of Colby and Mozzarella. Again, under the grill, toast one side of the bread.Β  Pile the grated cheese, generously on top of the untoasted side then sprinkle with fresh time. Now here you can choose how messy you want to be. You can either place the croutons in the bowl on top of the soup, sprinkle with more cheese then place the entire bowl under the grill but if you’re like me and don’t fancy trying to scrape hardened melted cheese from your bowls before washing, then just place the prepared croutons under the grill and toast until all melty and golden, then place in top of the soup. Garnish with some extra thyme, or like I did and if they’re in season, thyme flowers…oh so pretty πŸ™‚

Dairy free version

Et lΓ  vous allez…oh sorry, this is Aussie onion soup….And there ya go mate!

Cheesy version



Pickled carrot on a salicylate challenge

No, the carrot isn’t challenging salicylates, my middle son is. We put him back on a very strict elimination diet over a week ago and for the first time ever, he hit true baseline. When we started out on our journey to determine what foods he was intolerant to, our dietician put us on a moderate diet which meant that we could have any foods that are moderate in the offending food chemicals of salicylates, amines and glutamates. We did notice a difference in my son but not what everyone calls baseline. He, by no means, displayed what society considers normal behaviour and life was still crazy but we thought this was ok, actually, we really didn’t think much about it because he was quite a bit easier to cope with.

After about 2 months of “cleansing his system” we started challenging foods but I have since learnt that we made a few mistakes. Over 18 months down the track, his behaviour was deteriorating drastically and I was at my wits end once again, and fed up with the level of conflict and aggression in the house…not to mention the silly behaviour! I decided to get strict, really strict…no red meat, minimal seafood, no dairy and only foods from the low food groups (ie, low salicylates, amines and glutamates). Wow! Just a week later we had hit true baseline. There was a completely different child living in the house. He was calm, positive, polite and, dare I say it, “normal”. There was no more beating up his big brother, speaking rudely to my partner or I, the selfishness was gone….oh I could go on but I think you get the picture. He has been a real delight to have around. His father even complied with the diet (for the first time ever) and we had no set backs. So on to challenging foods again.

We decided to try salicylates first which is possibly the most exciting challenge. This group includes herbs and spices and a vast array of fruits and veggies. All weekend while the boys were at their father’s, the idea of challenging had completely slipped my mind so when we wrote up the week’s meal plan, it was all the usual suspects….beige food. Monday was to be rice paper rolls, meaning that those of us who aren’t intolerant to much could jazz our meals up with a few herbs and perhaps a chilli dipping sauce. Half way through the day, however, I realised that we were challenging as of that evening so this meant that we could all have flavour packed parcels of ricey goodness. So off to the shops it was….mint, coriander, cucumber, snow peas, chilli, mmmmm, my mouth was watering. And then there was the marinade on the chicken….ginger, chilli, coriander, pepper, just to name a few flavours. Heaven was waiting. Oh, and the carrot. I’m not a huge fan of carrot but once it’s pickled, I love the stuff, especially when paired with some of the above flavours. So here it is, my Asian inspired pickled carrot…….

2 large carrots

2 tsps of salt

2 tsps of sugar

Using a sharp knife, finely julienne the carrots and place into a non metallic mixing bowl. If your knife skills aren’t too flash, I guess you could grate the carrot but be warned, it will lose a bit of its crunch.

My attempt at a fine julienne…not too bad really but certainly not the standard of a chef

Sprinkle the salt and sugar over and, using clean hands, mix well for a few minutes until the carrot is glossy. Leave to sit for about 10 minutes or until a thicker piece bends easily without snapping. You’ll find a lot of bright orange liquid comes out of the carrots.

Place carrot into a strainer and rinse under cold water until water runs clear then drain well and return to the rinsed mixing bowl.

Now you’ll need:

2 cups of warm water

4 tsps of white sugar

3 tsps of salt

2 tsps of citric acid

Place all ingredients into a jug and stir until dissolved. Have a little taste and adjust the ingredients accordingly then pour over the prepared carrot. Cover and refrigerate for a few hours, or overnight if you like. Now they’re ready to use however you see fit. They were amazing in our rice paper rolls or you could add them to a salad, or even a sandwich. However you choose to use them, I’m sure you’ll find they add a new dimension of flavour to your meals…we sure did πŸ™‚

It just occurred to me that I should mention you could pickle almost anything you like in this way. I’m now keen to try pickled choko and swede……

Middle Eastern inspired cous cous salad with spatchcock

Ahhh, the peace of having the big guys away at their father’s for the weekend….not to mention that we can eat whatever the hell we like! Well, within reason of course, and especially for me now as I’m getting heavier and heavier and the reflux has set in 😦

We were out on Saturday afternoon to see my brother at his new framing and art gallery in Blackrock Victoria. On arrival he was in a meeting with an artist so we went for a little walk around the shops and stumbled across a wonderful little grocery store where we found a heap of little gourmet treasures, one of which was spatchcock. “Mmmmmm, dinner for Sunday” was all I could think. So, you guessed it, we bought a couple. Now what to do with them….and what to serve with them?

It seems that Middle Eastern flavours are the flavour of the month around here for some reason…could it be my pregnancy taste buds perhaps? So Middle Eastern flavours it was, but not too heavy on the spices on account of moi and my reflux….dammit! Normally I mix up my own spice blends but being a Sunday, I just couldn’t be bothered this time so I resorted toΒ  a premixed blend…only the finest quality of course.

Cous cous salad

Ok, I’ve done it again, I didn’t measure out my cous cous but I estimate there was about 3 or 4 cups of cooked cous cous (silly me) so we’ll go with that.

3 to 4 cups of cooked cous cous. All you do to cook it is soak it in boiling water for a few minutes until tender, adding more water as needed. If you like to work with exact quantities, Google is your friend πŸ˜‰

1/4 butternut pumpkin diced

2 Lebanese eggplants diced

2 medium red onions cut into wedges

1 small red capsicum roasted, peeled and diced (to roast your capsicum, place it in a hot oven until all the skin blisters, remove, allow to cool then peel)

3 to 4 cloves of garlic roughly chopped

1 tsp salt

a good slurp of olive oil (enough to coat veggies)

3 tsps of your favourite Middle Eastern spice

1 tbsp of chopped fresh rosemary and oregano mixed

2 tbsp of fresh chopped parsley

1/4 cup of roasted pine nuts

Handful of chopped, pitted kalamata olives

Extra olive oil for dressing

Place all veggies (except the capsicum), garlic, salt, rosemary and oregano mix and spice into a baking tray and coat well with olive oil. Bake in oven at 200Β°C until just tender. It doesn’t take very long so keep an eye on it. Remove from oven and set aside to cool a little. Mix the veggies and all remaining ingredients in with the cous cous and dress with enough oil to give it a nice moist texture.

Barbecued Spatchcock

2 spatchcocks

6 tsps of your favourite Middle Eastern spice blend (preferably one that goes well with the spice used in the cous cous salad, if not the same one)

Enough extra virgin olive oil to make a slightly runny rub

Juice of half a lemon

Spatchcock your spatchcock by cutting out the backbone and lying flat. If you’re not too sure how to do this, once again,Β  Google is your friend (I really can’t explain because I leave all bone cutting and crunching work to my trusty partner, who I do like to call my apprentice ;)) Place them into a bowl with the spice rub and coat well. Allow to sit for at east an hour but preferably overnight. Cook over a hot grill or BBQ until cooked through (about 20 minutes all up, depending on the size of the bird). Serve on a bed of the cous cous salad.

My presentation certainly wouldn’t win me Masterchef, nor is my photography particularly great, but you get the idea I’m sure. Hubby’s still raving so that’s all that matters