Three flexible recipes for entertaining for special diets

Chocolate gingerbread slice.
Chocolate gingerbread slice. Photo: Luisa Brimble

Not sure where to start when entertaining for friends who have allergies and food intolerances? Try these three flexible allergy-friendly recipes from Queensland author Jo Whitton of food blog Quirky Cooking, whose book Life-Changing Food caters to gluten-free, grain-free and egg-free diets, among others.

Chocolate gingerbread slice

Gluten free, grain free, dairy free, egg free, full GAPS with nut-free variation 

Jo Whitton's cookbook.
Jo Whitton's cookbook. Photo: Supplied

If you want to make a special treat to share with friends, this slice is a winner: a layer of soft, spicy gingerbread covered in a thick chocolate and coconut cream layer, cut into small squares. It makes a very more-ish treat.

INGREDIENTS

  • 2 tbsp chia seeds
  • ½ grated nutmeg or ½ tsp ground nutmeg
  • 2 cloves or a pinch of ground cloves
  • 2 black peppercorns or a pinch of freshly ground black pepper
  • 1 cinnamon stick, roughly broken, or 1 tsp ground cinnamon
  • ¼ tsp cardamom seeds or ¼ tsp ground cardamom
  • zest of 1 orange (preferably organic)
  • 1-2cm piece of ginger, finely grated
  • ½ tsp vanilla powder or vanilla extract
  • 300g blanched almond meal
  • 30g coconut flour
  • 3 tsp ground ginger
  • ¼ tsp fine sea salt
  • ½ tsp bicarbonate of soda
  • 75g pitted dried dates, finely chopped
  • 120g unsalted butter or coconut oil, softened, plus extra for greasing
  • 50g honey
  • 2 tbsp filtered water
Jo Whitton
Jo Whitton Photo: Supplied

Chocolate topping

  • 800ml coconut cream
  • 2-3 tbsp honey, to taste
  • 2 tbsp cacao powder, to taste

METHOD

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  1. Preheat the oven to 170C. Grease and line a 38cm x 25cm baking dish with baking paper.
  2. If using whole spices, place the chia seeds, nutmeg, cloves, peppercorns, cinnamon stick and cardamom seeds in a spice or coffee grinder and grind until the spices are completely pulverised.
  3. Place the chia seeds and ground spices in a large bowl, add the orange zest, grated ginger, vanilla, almond meal, coconut flour, ground ginger, salt, bicarb soda and dates. Mix until combined, then set aside.
  4. In another bowl, whisk together the butter or coconut oil, honey and water until smooth. Pour into the dry ingredients and mix well.
  5. Press the mixture firmly and evenly into the prepared dish. Bake for 20-25 minutes, or until cooked through and lightly browned.
  6. While the slice is cooking, prepare the chocolate topping. Place the coconut cream and honey in a saucepan over medium heat and bring to a simmer, stirring frequently. Simmer for 30 minutes, or until the mixture starts to thicken and coats the back of the spoon. (The time will vary depending on the thickness of the coconut cream.)
  7. Remove from the heat and whisk in the cacao powder, to taste.
  8. Pour the chocolate topping over the gingerbread slice and place in the freezer on a flat surface to set for at least 30 minutes, or until firm.
  9. Once cold, cut into 30 squares and serve.

Variations:

Nut Free: Swap the almond meal for pepita meal.

Serving suggestion:

Best served cold, from the fridge or freezer.

Makes: 30 x 50g serves

Moroccan cauliflower "cous cous" salad

Gluten free, grain free, egg free with nut-free, dairy-free and vegetarian variations

This delicious full-meal salad can be made with or without the chicken (below). It's great as a meal on its own or as a side dish at a barbecue or potluck with friends. I often use the spice seasoning on lamb and in other dishes, so I've listed the spices separately.

INGREDIENTS

  • 800g cauliflower, cut into florets
  • 4 tbsp ghee or extra virgin olive oil
  • 400-500g chicken thigh or breast fillets, cut into 1-2cm cubes
  • 1 garlic clove, finely chopped
  • 60ml (¼ cup) filtered water
  • 400g butternut pumpkin, cut into 1cm cubes
  • juice of ½ lemon
  • 100g dried apricots, preservative and oil free, chopped
  • 100g dried sour cherries or raisins, preservative and oil free
  • 1 large handful mint leaves, roughly chopped
  • 1 large handful flat-leaf parsley, roughly chopped
  • 2 spring onions, green part only, thinly sliced
  • 100g roasted almonds or pistachios, roughly chopped
  • 3 tbsp extra virgin olive oil

Moroccan spice seasoning

  • 2 tsp fine sea salt
  • 1 tsp ground cumin
  • 1 tsp ground coriander
  • ½ tsp ground turmeric
  • ½ tsp ground cinnamon
  • ½ tsp mild paprika
  • ¼ tsp ground allspice
  • ⅛-¼ tsp cayenne pepper, or to taste

METHOD

  1. Pulse the cauliflower in a food processor until it resembles cous cous.
  2. Heat 2 tbsp of ghee or olive oil in a large frying pan over medium-high heat and add the cauliflower. Saute, stirring, for 10 minutes, or until softened. Remove to a large bowl and set aside.
  3. Heat the remaining 2 tbsp ghee or olive oil in the same pan over medium-high heat and add the chicken and garlic. Saute, stirring, for 5 minutes, then add the water and pumpkin. Cover the pan, reduce the heat to medium-low and cook, stirring occasionally, for 10-15 minutes, or until the chicken and pumpkin are cooked through.
  4. Stir through the spice mix and saute and stir for 3 minutes over medium-low heat.
  5. Return the cauliflower to the pan and stir to combine, then remove from the heat. (If the cauliflower won't fit in the pan, tip the contents of the pan into the bowl of cooked cauliflower and stir to combine.)
  6. Add the lemon juice, dried apricot, dried sour cherries or raisins, mint, parsley, spring onion and almonds or pistachios, reserving a little of the dried fruit, herbs and nuts to sprinkle over the top.
  7. Transfer the salad to a serving platter, arranging it in a mound and sprinkling with the reserved dried fruit, nuts and herbs. Drizzle with the olive oil.
  8. Serve warm or cold.

Variations:

  • Nut free: Swap the almonds or pistachios for toasted sunflower seeds and pepitas.
  • Dairy free: Use olive oil rather than ghee.
  • Vegetarian: Swap the chicken for 400g cooked chickpeas.

Serves: 6-8

Chicken with 40 cloves of garlic

Gluten free, grain free, dairy free, egg free, nut free 

This classic recipe (taught to me by my grandmother) never fails to deliver. Forty cloves of garlic might seem excessive and, yes, you can get away with less, but trust me, you'll wish you had added even more. One of the joys of this meal is spreading the roasted garlic like butter on some crusty sourdough bread, or try mixing it through your vegie mash.

INGREDIENTS

  • 40 garlic cloves, unpeeled
  • 1 x 2kg chicken, cut into pieces (or 2kg chicken drumsticks)
  • 250ml (1 cup) chicken stock
  • 3 tbsp extra virgin olive oil or ghee
  • 2 tsp thyme leaves, chopped, or 1 teaspoon dried thyme
  • 1 tsp sage leaves, chopped, or ½ teaspoon dried sage
  • 1 small handful flat-leaf parsley, chopped
  • 4 small bay leaves
  • 1 tsp fine sea salt
  • ¼ tsp freshly ground black pepper, or to taste

METHOD

  1. Preheat the oven to 180C.
  2. Scatter the garlic cloves over the bottom of a casserole dish. A large shallow dish will result in the chicken having crisp skin, while a smaller, deep dish results in softer, juicier chicken.
  3. Place the chicken pieces, skin-side up, on top of the garlic. Drizzle over the stock and olive oil or dot with the ghee, then sprinkle over the thyme, sage, parsley, bay leaves, salt and pepper. Cover and bake for 2 hours, or until the chicken is cooked through.
  4. Remove the lid and increase the temperature to 200C. Return to the oven to brown the chicken for another 15 minutes. Discard the bay leaves.

Serving suggestion:

Delicious served with roast pumpkin, steamed green vegies, a vegie mash and the juices from the dish drizzled over the top. Squeeze the soft, roasted garlic out of the skins and serve spread over slices of crusty sourdough bread or mixed through the mash.

Serves: 6