Wednesday, March 30, 2011

Prawns with peaches at the Hazelhurst Gallery

It's not only beaches, bikinis and flag-waving Aussies in Sydney's Sutherland Shire. It's also home to the Hazelhurst Gallery at Gymea where you can take in some art and enjoy a gluten-free (GF) lunch.

The regional gallery and arts centre has a lovely terrace cafe/restaurant which overlooks the garden. The day Bruce and I met his shire-residing Mum and Dad for lunch, there were three GF options (marked with asterisks) on the regular menu and one GF special. 

My meal of king prawn and grilled peach with pan seared haloumi, asparagus and rocket salad and lemon dressing was absolutely delicious and very fresh. It was a good choice for lunch as it wasn't too heavy and I love the addition of fruits like peaches and nectarines in salads.

The other two gluten-free dishes were seared chicken tenderloin with spiced fig, fetta and hazelnut salad drizzled with shiraz caramel and tea-smoked Atlantic salmon in lemongrass/lime butter with glass noodles (hopefully gluten-free) cucumber, coriander, mint salad, sesame dressing and crispy eschalot.

While I didn't need dessert I couldn't resist trying the rosewater pavlova with double cream coconut ice cream and fresh strawberries.  You could really taste the rosewater but it wasn't too overpowering.

At most restaurants there is usually only one GF option on the sweets menu but not at Hazelhurst. I had the choice of three out of five. There was also an individual flourless chocolate cake with chocolate ganache, berry coulis and double cream and a classic creme brulee with poached peaches.  My mouth is watering now! Hazelhurst also has a breakfast menu with GF bread served on request.

The day we were there the staff were setting up The Leslie Walton Collection, which opened last weekend.  The collection includes works from Australian artists Roland Wakelin, Grace Cossington Smith, Elioth Gruner and John Peter Russell.  It runs till 8 May.

Another exhibition which also opened last weekend is 'Made in the Shire'. Thirty years on from the surf book and movie 'Puberty Blues', the exhibition features photographs of some of the Shire's desperate romantics and high school sweethearts by Emma Thomson, taken during her residency at Hazelhurst.

Hazelhurst also runs art classes for adults and children. The gallery is at 728 Kingsway Gymea and is open Monday to Friday from 10am-5pm.

Monday, March 21, 2011

Lemon strawberry muffins on Sunday

With my sister and nephew in town from Wagga Wagga and Canberra, and my brother's family over from Botany, I cooked up a batch of lemon strawberry muffins on Sunday morning.

The recipe was from Jody Vassallo's Wheat and Gluten Free book, which is endorsed by Coeliac Society of Australia.

I also made a batch of mixed berry muffins from a gluten-free packet mix. The general consensus was that the lemon strawberry muffins were far superior to the packet mix ones. While the packet mix was very quick and easy, you were left with a bicarb soda taste in your mouth after eating them.

The lemon strawberry muffins were a big hit with the family, so I will be making them again. Here is Jody Vassallo's recipe:

Lemon Strawberry Muffins

Ingredients: 300g strawberries, hulled, 300g gluten-free self-raising flour, 170g caster sugar, 30g baby rice cereal, 3 teaspoons lemon zest, 375g skim or no-fat milk, 2 eggs lightly beaten, 2 tablespoons vegetable oil.


1. Preheat oven to 200 degree Celsius. Line a 12 x 1 third cup capacity muffin pan with muffin cases.

2. Roughly chop half the strawberries. Cut the remaining strawberries in half and set aside.

3. Sift the flour into a bowl, stir in the sugar, rice cereal, chopped strawberries and lemon zest and make a well in the centre. Whisk together the milk, eggs and oil, pour into the well and gently mix with a metal spoon until the ingredients are just combined.

4. Divide the batter among the muffin cases. Press the reserved strawberries into the tops of the  muffins. Bake for 15-20 minutes or until the muffins are golden brown and risen. Turn out on to a wire rack to cool.
Makes 12.

Monday, March 14, 2011

Coeliac Awareness Week targets men

With recent studies showing that men account for less than one third of all coeliac blood tests in Australia, the Coeliac Society of Australia is targetting men during Coeliac Awareness Week - 13-19 March.

Coeliac Awareness Week 2011 - Poloroid

Across the country they are asking the question: 'Mate, have you lost your Mojo? 

Does this sound like you or the man in your life?
  • You often fall asleep in the chair after dinner.
  • You don’t have the energy to run around with your kids.
  • You find it hard to concentrate at work.
  • You feel exhausted during the day and need an afternoon nap.
  • You’re too tired to play sport or exercise these days.
The Coeliac Society says if you’re putting all this down to working long hours, leading a busy lifestyle or just getting older - think again. Tiredness like this can be one of the first symptoms of untreated coeliac disease. Other signs can be stomach cramps, reflux, wind, diarrhoea or constipation and anaemia.

They say it's important for men with these symptoms to be tested because if coeliac disease is not treated, it can result in conditions that can prove fatal, including liver disease and cancer.

Coeliac disease is very common – at least one in 100 Australians have it and it occurs in both men and women. Unfortunately, 75 per cent of those people are not diagnosed.

In the past it was thought that women were more likely to suffer from coeliac disease as many more women were diagnosed. However, more recent research has shown that the inbalance in diagnosis between the sexes is because more women are tested and subsequently diagnosed.

The Society says too many people – and men in particular - brush aside symptoms of tiredness for all sorts of reasons. But tiredness like this is not normal.

As someone who lost their 'mojo' with symptoms described above for nearly four years, all I can say is go and get tested. If you are coeliac and you go on a strict gluten-free diet your energy, well-being  and health will be restored.

If you, or anyone you know, has unexplained tiredness or lethargy, or any of the symptoms listed above, call the Coeliac Awareness Hotline now on 1300 273 272 for a free brochure or jump on the website . In the long term, taking that first step could be life saving. You can follow the Coeliac Society on Twitter

Monday, March 7, 2011

Sweet treats in Petersham's Little Portugal

While we can't eat the famous Portuguese tarts, coeliacs certainly don't miss out when it comes to sweet treats at Sweet Belem.

At 35B and 35C New Canterbury Road, Petersham, on Sydney's Little Portugal food strip, this 'cake boutique' offers a wide-range of gluten-free choices.

Last Sunday I tried the very moist and sweet, raspberry lemon roulade. As Bruce said after he'd had a taste: "You could never say that cake was dry!"

Made with polenta, it is a traditional Portuguese cake or dessert. The orange roulade is also made with polenta.

Other options include the orange jaffa chocolate truffle and flourless chocolate and orange cakes. All the cakes are made on-site, joint owner Lina Correia informed me.

Sweet Belem is a cute little cafe, decorated to take you on a trip to Portugal, if only gastronomically. And I love looking up at the ceiling painted like the sky.

Maeve O'Mara's Gourmet Safaris take walking tours to the restaurants, cafes and food outlets in Petersham's Little Portugal.