How often, when preparing for a fancy dinner at home or inviting the dreaded out-laws to lunch, do we say to ourselves: “Oh no! I can’t make that! So-and-so is lactose/glutose intolerant or has such-and-such allergies.” The attitude is normally one of despair, followed by frustration, and by the end of it, you might barely manage to serve bruschetta drizzled with olive oil – if you haven’t completely dissolved into a blubbering mess on the kitchen floor at the prospect of catering to everybody’s dietary needs. But, I should stop, as I’m grossly exaggerating.
Instead of blaming someone (which isn’t very nice) for their inability to consume your incredibly delicious but creamy pasta with three cheeses the more useful approach might be to use this as an opportunity to be creative. Sorry, what’s that you say? You’re in a rush? The kids are squalling, the laundry hasn’t been done, and you have a deadline for that assignment because you decided to go back and do a postgrad diploma in musicology?
Well, guess what? There is one particular cookbook that might help: Kim McCosker’s 4 Ingredients, Gluten Free Lactose Free, the first installation of her Wellness trilogy. The title might be a bit of a mouthful, but McCosker’s recipes are simple, quick and delicious. And after experinecing milk allergies for the past two years, I was very keen to try it out.
Four ingredients is four ingredients, but it doesn’t necessarily have to stay that way, or be that limited. In most places, McCosker knows that while a simple Baked Garlic Chicken is a healthy, wholesome meal for a Sunday night, if you really want to impress then adding a few extra ingredients to make a homemade balsamic glaze (organic strawberry jam, balsamic vinegar, dried thyme) takes comfort food to a whole new level. Sometimes however, you may just want to leave things as they are. For example, if ever there should be a heaven approved threesome it goes by the name of Avocado, Mango and Bacon. Stack them for aesthetic viewing and you have a gourmet entrée or, if you’re being greedy, a fabulous way to start the day.
I tended to skip recipes that used bottled pastes or curry powder, as I believe there is never anything quite as good as made from scratch, but if you really are after a super quick meal, the laksa and the rissoles might be your ticket to receiving a round of applause (just don’t say you used ingredients from a jar or a packet…instant disqualification).
The highlights of this wee cookbook are the marvellous little dressings and sauces. Although they won’t have the depth of flavour you would expect from something made in Gordon Ramsay’s kitchen, they are more than sufficient for a quick and easy twist to bring your salad or meat alive.
Of course, life without sweetness is not worth living. While the breakfast recipes are okay, snacks and salads fairly decent, and some variety among the mains, the few (unfortunately so) desserts pack the sweetest punch in this collection. So, lets all say “hallelujah” for avocados! Translated they actually mean Aztec balls (because of their resemblance to the obvious, but don’t let the etymology scare you off), and McCosker uses their sweet green flesh to form the most divine base for Chocolate Mousse and Avocado and Coconut Ice-cream. Dee-lish! The Sticky Mango Rice is scrumptious, as much as the Chocolate, Quinoa and Pecan Mud cake is a winner. And, all the recipes have, yes, four ingredients, meaning that even the least structured of us cooks (and I have tendencies to throw this and that into things without measuring) have an opportunity to get dessert “just right.”
4 Ingredients: Gluten Free Lactose Free is a useful collection to make meals for everyone who comes to dine at your table, and a great chance to surprise your guests with something more than “meat and three veg” followed by fruit salad.
REVIEWER: Dione Joseph
TITLE: 4 Ingredients: Gluten Free Lactose Free
AUTHOR: Kim McCosker