##MeatFreeMonday -Oozy Vegan Pumpkin & Saffron Risotto: Gluten-Free Mediterranean- Helen Tzouganatos

Gluten-Free Mediterranean

Helen Tzouganatos


Pan Macmillan Australia

Photography by Jeremy Simons.

RRP $44.99

Oozy is not a word you would normally associate with a risotto made without butter or cheese. The secret here is caramelised roasted pumpkin that is pureed to add a smooth, creamy texture and delicate sweetness to the risotto. Earthy, floral saffron compliments the pumpkin’s sweetness and produces a sunny, golden risotto. Ensure you use a short-grain high-starch rice, such as arborio or carnaroli, for that signature creamy texture.” p90


400 g butternut pumpkin, peeled and cut into 1.5 cm cubes
80 ml (1⁄3 cup) extra-virgin olive oil
sea salt flakes and freshly ground black pepper
875 ml (3 1⁄2 cups) warm Vegetable Stock (page 207)
1 onion, finely chopped
2 garlic cloves, finely chopped
275 g (1 1⁄4 cups) arborio or carnaroli rice
pinch of saron threads
125 ml (1⁄2 cup) white wine
crispy sage leaves, to serve (optional) (see Note)


Preheat the oven to 180°C (fan-forced).

Place 250 g of the pumpkin in a roasting tin, drizzle in half the olive oil, add a pinch of salt and toss well. Roast for 30 minutes, tossing halfway through to ensure even browning. Transfer the pumpkin to a food processor, add 80 ml (1⁄3 cup) of the stock and puree. Set aside.

Meanwhile, heat the remaining oil in a large frying pan over medium–low heat. Add the onion and a generous pinch of salt and cook for 5 minutes to soften. Stir in the garlic and cook for another 30 seconds. Add the remaining pumpkin, the rice and saffron and gently stir for a minute to toast the rice grains. Deglaze the pan with the white wine, stirring to release any caramelised
bits caught on the base, and simmer for a minute so the rice absorbs the wine. Add a few ladles of the remaining stock and bring to a gentle simmer. When the stock has been absorbed, add more to the pan, a few ladles at a time. Continue, gradually adding more stock as it is absorbed, and cook for 15 minutes or until the rice is al dente. In the last 2 minutes of simmering, gently fold in the pumpkin puree.

Remove the pan from the heat and adjust the seasoning with salt and pepper as required. Ladle the risotto into shallow bowls and serve with crispy sage leaves scattered over the top, if desired.

Crispy sage leaves: fry a handful of sage leaves in 3 tablespoons of olive oil over medium heat for 30 seconds or until crisp. Remove with a slotted spoon and sprinkle with salt.

Lamb & Spinach Gozleme: Gluten-Free Mediterranean- Helen Tzouganatos

Gluten-Free Mediterranean

Helen Tzouganatos


Pan Macmillan Australia

Photography by Jeremy Simons.

RRP $44.99


olive oil, for pan-frying
lemon wedges, to serve

260 g (2 cups) gluten-free self-raising flour
90 g (1⁄3 cup) Greek yoghurt (or coconut yoghurt for dairy free)
3 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
1⁄2 teaspoon sea salt flakes


2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
1 small onion, finely chopped
pinch of sea salt flakes
2 garlic cloves, finely chopped
1⁄2 teaspoon paprika
1⁄2 teaspoon ground cumin
pinch of freshly ground
black pepper
250 g lamb mince
large handful of baby spinach leaves

Crispy, golden gluten-free Turkish gozleme can be easily whipped up in under 20 minutes, so it’s the perfect after-school snack. The dough comes together very quickly and while it’s resting, you can quickly make your filling of choice. I love a spiced lamb mince filling when I feel like a break from spinach and feta, but you can get as creative as you like. Don’t overfill the gozleme – the flatter the parcel the crispier it will get when it hits the hot frying pan.” p30

Combine all the dough ingredients in the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with the dough hook attachment, add 125 ml (1⁄2 cup) of warm water and mix on medium speed for 1 minute to form a smooth dough. If the mixture is too dry, add a little more water and mix again. Set the dough aside to rest, uncovered, while you make the filling.

To make the filling, heat the olive oil in a frying pan over medium heat. Add the onion and salt and cook for 5 minutes to soften. Stir in the garlic, paprika, cumin and black pepper and cook for 30 seconds. Add the lamb and cook, breaking up any chunks with a wooden spoon, for 3 minutes or until browned. Add the spinach, stir and cook for 1 minute to wilt. Remove from the heat and set aside.

Divide the dough into six balls. Working with one ball at a time, roll out the dough between two sheets of baking paper to form a paper-thin rectangle about 20 cm × 30 cm in size. Scatter 3 tablespoons of the lamb and spinach filling in the centre, leaving a clear border of roughly 8 cm around the edges. Fold the dough over the filling to enclose. Cover with baking paper and very
gently roll out again to flatten and thin out the gozleme. Repeat with the remaining dough and filling.

Place a heavy-based frying pan over high heat and allow it to heat up. Drizzle 1 tablespoon of olive oil into the very hot pan and cook the gozleme, one at a time, adding more oil as needed, for 2–3 minutes on each side until golden and crispy. Serve with lemon wedges.

Spinach & Feta: combine 135 g (3 cups) baby spinach, 3 sliced spring
onions and 200 g crumbled feta.

Potato & Cheese: combine 460 g (2 cups) mashed potato, 150 g grated
mozzarella, a handful of finely chopped flat-leaf parsley leaves,
1⁄2 teaspoon paprika and salt and pepper

#FidayFreebie: Gluten-Free Mediterranean – Helen Tzouganatos

Gluten-Free Mediterranean

Helen Tzouganatos


Pan Macmillan Australia


RRP $39.99


‘Growing up in Sydney’s multicultural inner west, I was surrounded by migrants from various countries spanning the Mediterranean. My Lebanese neighbours taught me the secret to the best mejadra, the Cypriots across the road introduced me to koupes and haloumi bread, and my mother would exchange Greek syrupy sweets for pistachio biscotti and olive and rosemary focaccia with the Italians down the street.’

More a way of life than a diet, the Mediterranean style of eating is embraced around the world for its simplicity, health benefits and downright deliciousness.

Now you can enjoy all your favourite dishes from Greece, Italy, Spain, Lebanon and more, minus the gluten.

Helen Tzouganatos, host of SBS Food’s Loving Gluten Free, shows you just how simple it is to cook delicious gluten-free versions of Mediterranean classics, with clever ingredient swaps that not even Yiayia or Tayta will notice. From the fluffiest focaccia and crispiest loukoumades to the easiest seafood paella and most decadent chocolate roulade, you won’t believe these family favourites are gluten free.


Helen Tzouganatos is a presenter, passionate home cook and recipe developer, who specialises in delicious gluten-free food made from scratch. Helen’s gluten-free journey started 15 years ago when she was diagnosed with coeliac disease. She began sharing her simple gluten-free food via her blog and social media, and went on to host SBS television show Loving Gluten Free. This is her third cookbook. Helen lives in Sydney with her husband, Spiro, and three children, Vasili, Sofia and Ruby.


I have one copy of the book to give away thanks to Pan Macmillan Australia. In the comments tell me the name of the show that Helen hosts on SBS. Easy! Winner will be randomly selected on 10th March 2023. Good luck. **Australian residents only**

PPS: Breakfast Cookies- Bread and Wine – Shauna Niequist

PPS: Breakfast Cookies-  Bread and Wine -  Shauna Niequist

Breakfast Cookies at Cowaramup, Easter 2013.


I made these delicious, easy to make, sugar free breakfast cookies from  Bread and Wine by Shauna Niequist  for Angela, Jason and Rachel when they came to stay at Easter ( the dogs loved them too!) This is a recipe that can easily be adapted – add your own favorite nuts or dried fruit – dried cranberries and white chocolate for a decadent touch!

I dont think I will have the time to try the toffee before they leave.





Do You Feel that your Life is on “Shuffle”?

Busy, today in fact the past few days have been busy.  Does your life resemble an mp3/4 player on shuffle – a little bit of this and a bit of that? Reading….blogging, book reviewing and making an awesome beef and eggplant curry (yes you guessed it we have a glut of eggplant at the moment), a bit of housework…a bit of eating, drinking coffee….and relaxing in the sunshine. Perfect. I like this sort of busy.

Tomorrow – time to make pasta sauce – it is very satisfying work making your own sauces, jams, pickles and is a really great way to use up that fridge full of home grown fresh produce.

My Pasta Sauce has no exacting recipe – the most important part is making sure you use a really large pan to cook the sauce in- too often have I been caught out with overflowing saucepans , having underestimated the need of my ingredients. Take on large pan, add a good slug of EVO, some roughly diced onions ( 3 or 4), 1 or 2 roughly diced capsicums, a few cloves of  crushed garlic, cook till onions are translucent and then a few kilos of skinned chopped tomatoes  and a pinch or two of salt and sugar, (you can even add a few diced eggplant if you have them handy). Let mixture come to the boil and then simmer till reduced, lid off, stirring occasionally –this process usually takes a few hours. This sauce is delicious as a pizza base, as a pasta sauce or add some chili and a some cooked beans and you a yummy bean dip or a vegetarian bean mains to have with rice.

Books: I have been very pleasantly distracted by my ebook reader these past few days, I am always on the hunt for a new author to follow, a new world to immerse myself in and this I found in two very different reads; The Bitch Called Hope by Lily Gardner ( I have an advance copy)- a book I could not put down. And Then Go Straight Forward by Bill Johnstone – another murder/mystery written from the perspective of the investigative journalist. My reviews follow.

A Bitch Called Hope – Lily Gardner

ISBN: 9781938120978

Synopsis (Diversion Books)

A Bitch Called Hope is the poker term for drawing the queen-eight in Texas Hold ‘Em. There’s not enough luck in the world to build a winning hand with those cards, but it’s so tempting to try.

Meet Lennox Cooper. She’s a smart poker player, a smart detective, but she’s got issues. A year ago her affair with a married cop got her fired from the Portland Police. Now she’s trying to build a new life as a private investigator, but all she’d landed so far are surveillance gigs.

The murder of a wealthy developer gives her a chance to re-establish herself as a homicide detective. During the course of the investigation she meets Mr. Right. Only problem, he’s on the short list of suspects. Lennox bets on her lover’s innocence. The odds aren’t much better than drawing A Bitch Called Hope.

My View:

The title drew me in– the poker  reference had me intrigued and I was not disappointed. What a ride! What a hand Lennox Cooper had drawn! A roller coaster ride of action and intrigue, violence mixed in with the humanity of human failings and the universal need for love. Lennox Cooper is a modern day Kinsey Millhone – she is gutsy, heroic, smart, good at her job; the woman just needs a break and Mr Right.

This novel is a well crafted, a fast paced explosion of action and drama. I didn’t guess the killer. I didn’t guess the ending. I didn’t put the book down till I had reached the (almost) satisfying end.  What a debut novel. I cannot wait for the next book and to follow Lennox Cooper on her next adventures. Lily Gardner where have you been hiding?

Then Go Straight Forward – Bill Johnstone

ISBN: 9781478397236

Synopsis (Provide by Amazon/Createspace)

The shooting of two apparently innocent tourists on vacation in northern Florida and a fire in a wealthy neighbourhood of Washington, DC are two seemingly unconnected incidents. However, they prove to be strands in a mysterious pattern involving organized crime, a children’s charity, the clergy and a dead security agent. Together they trigger an investigation by journalist Mike McCabe whose news instincts determine he follows the clues to the bitter end. The book is the sequel to another Mike McCabe adventure, White Collar Option.

My View:

Johnstone weaves an intricate tale of murder, arson and intrigue which at first is a little confusing and dislocate.  I had to force myself to read past the opening chapters – these read like mini books, I could not connect the dots….could not weave the strands together.   Perseverance paid off, suddenly I found myself engrossed and reading fervently; the pace increased, the story unfolded smoothly and all became clear. I finally engaged with the story and enjoyed the book from that point on.

What are you reading now – anything worth recommending? I prefer contemporary thriller/crime and am not adverse to perhaps a little paranormal in the mix and a glass (or two) of fresh cool Sav Blanc to lubricate the mind as one reads. 🙂

Me to You

Allow me to introduce myself: My name is Carol and I live in a wine growing region in the south of Western Australia.  It is a beautiful location and the lifestyle is relaxed and peaceful. Here I have more time for me; I am transitioning into retirement.

More time for me is something we all aspire to have one day and for me that one day is now. It has been an interesting transition; it has taken some adjusting to the different perspective of time and how to use that time. It has been difficult to walk away from the constant lure and beckoning of the computer screen and that potential new project and spend time doing other things, finding other things to do with my time.   

Broadly speaking Me Time means I can read (and read and read to my heart’s content), cook (not just the sustenance foods of the everyday meal but slow cooking, cooking for pleasure, cooking to explore ingredients, cooking to take advantage of our bountiful fresh home grown produce; making pasta sauces, pesto, beetroot chocolate cakes, curries….whatever takes my fancy) and of course drinking wine – so many to choose from. It is time to explore and discover some of the many great local wineries in this region and later to pack up that caravan we are going to buy and visit some of the wine growing regions of the Eastern States.  Bob the Dog will love these adventures, he already has acclimatised to camping and loves the adventure (and the beaches, and the walks and sleeping on our bed). 🙂 

So bon appétit, cheers and let’s get reading! I look forward to sharing more of life’s little pleasures with you soon.