My cooking goals for 2022

My cooking goals for 2022

Is it a little late to set cooking goals for 2022? I wrote these down a few weeks ago on a rainy Tuesday morning. I was enjoying a coffee at a local cafe and thinking about some different baking ideas.

The thing about goals, any kind of goal, is persistence and accountability. If you think about your exercise goals, they’re usually easier to meet when someone else is involved. It could be your personal trainer, your partner or your best friend. It could even be one person who fulfils all three roles!

Lists

My accountability was writing this down as a list on my phone. I love lists. What I love is the satisfaction as I check something off my list. It feels even better if it’s a handwritten list. Striking a line through the completed task is 😘👌. That emoji combo means chef’s kiss as far as I’m concerned.

Lists do get tricky for me sometimes. It’s when they become a little bit overwhelming. Twenty difficult items on a list is going to wear me down. Whereas five or ten medium effort tasks is motivational. 

I have a list with chores or other tasks around the home that I check and uncheck week to week. It might seem silly but it helps me keep track of things like laundry, taking out the recycling or when to reorder my prescription. I can open up the list in the morning and see the upcoming tasks. It helps me figure out what I need to do that day. After that I can sit down and work on this website. In fact, working on this website is sometimes a task on the list! 

What I’ve been avoiding

This year I want to face up to the things I’ve been ignoring on my cooking to do list. Things often get ignored on this list for two reasons.

  1. I can easily find the product gluten free and ready made.
  2. I can’t find the specific ingredient or brand of ingredient required (looking at you Caputo gluten free flour).

So making my own gluten free puff pastry is very unlikely to appear on my list. I can find that in a freezer in Australia or Finland and fresh in the fridge in the UK.

The list of cooking goals for 2022

Ok, here’s my list of cooking goals for the year. Do you think I’ll get all of them done? I’ll come back and update this post with my progress. I’m not going to say with my success, because that isn’t guaranteed!

Karelian pies

Karelian pies are a small savoury Finnish delicacy from the Karelia region of Finland (and Russia). Traditionally, they are made with a thin rye flour crust that is then filled with cooked rice or potato. The edges of the pastry are crimped together like a galette and it’s baked in the oven.

It’s served cold or warm with either butter or butter mixed with chopped up boiled eggs. It might sound a little odd but honestly it is so delicious.

Two images. Karelian pies topped with egg butter. The inside of a pie showing the thin pastry and gooey soft rice inside.
The pastry is impossibly thin and super crispy.

Why haven’t I made it? Did you read correctly? It said thin layer of pastry. While I’ve successfully worked with gluten-free doughs once you get them very thin they are so hard to move without breaking. I’m put off by the thought of it.

The other reason is that in Finland it is now so easy to buy gluten-free Karelian pies. They’re available in the freezer in every supermarket and some stores even have fresh ones in the fridge. 

Vegemite scrolls

I cannot tell you when I last had a Vegemite scroll. It must have been twenty years ago by now. I can’t say it’s something I hugely miss, I was never really a bread person anyway. But I’ve seen a lot of these simple yoghurt-based doughs. It’s just flour and greek yoghurt. It got me thinking I could try it out. Not too much work to have a little experiment.

If you are new to being gluten-free or haven’t been to Australia in a while I’ve got some news for you. You can now buy gluten-free Vegemite. I’ve had some friends do a taste test and it is so close to the real thing. For me, it’s exactly the same, I love it. In 2022 Vegemite also released (re-released) their Bega collaboration, cheesybite. It’s a mix of Vegemite and spreadable cheese and it’s totally gluten free too!  

However I’m going to have to make it a two bun batch. My husband hates Vegemite, he is not going to go anywhere near it. He’ll probably even make faces when I’m trying it. 

The great thing is once I achieve this it’ll set me up to hit even more cooking goals. The dough could also be used for pizza scrolls and of my (and my husband’s) favourites, cinnamon scrolls.

Stem ginger

Stem ginger, or more specifically, stem ginger preserved in syrup is a bakers staple in the UK. Pieces of ginger are peeled and boiled for hours until they’re soft before being simmered in a sugar syrup. You end up with pieces of intensely spicy, warming ginger that’s perfect for baking, flavouring savoury foods like marinades and stir fries. 

Two jars of stem ginger in syrup.
Stem ginger in syrup

It’s great as a topping for your morning yoghurt. It’s also amazing in drinks like tea or even cocktails

I was able to easily buy this in the UK from just about any supermarket. Since moving to Australia I haven’t seen it at all. Ok, maybe once for about $10 which was too much. 

Update: over the Easter break I made my own homemade stem ginger in syrup.

Oat free ANZAC biscuits

ANZAC biscuits are a real favourite of mine. Rich and chewy with the perfect sweetness they are incredibly addictive and very simple to make. I would often bake ANZAC biscuits while I was living in the UK, particularly around ANZAC day. It made me feel more connected to my home country so far away. One of my friends was also addicted to them so I made them for her a few times!

ANZAC biscuits on a cooling rack.
Delicious ANZAC biscuits.

Over in the UK and across Europe (and the US) gluten-free oats are everywhere. Oats are cannot be classified as gluten-free in Australia. This is due to regulations and influence by top Australian bodies which believe it is safer to say oats are not suitable for those on a gluten-free diet (specifically coeliacs).

This is because oats contain the protein avenin, which is structurally similar to gluten. While 10% of coeliacs cannot tolerate oats, most coeliacs can. The term gluten-free oats means oats that are processed in a clean way, preventing exposure to gluten containing grains. This means clean factories, processing lines, and yep, clean tractors! 

So for an Aussie coeliac oats are out of the equation. My challenge is to find a suitable replacement for oats in the ANZAC biscuit recipe. I’ve got a few ideas that I’m keen to test.

Update: Success! You can try my oat-free gluten-free ANZAC biscuit recipe today. 

Flatbreads

I have seen so many deceptively simple looking flatbreads on instagram. The post will claim it’s just two ingredients and then minutes to make perfect hot flatbreads to go with their curry or stew. 

Baking makes me quite stressed. I’m far more chill when I’m cooking. So to try a new recipe which has to be eaten fresh is a bit of a challenge for me. If I get it wrong, the rest of the meal goes cold and I flip out. 

I’ve made one attempt so far at flatbread and it was okay. It was a mixture of plain flour and roasted pumpkin. What I realised though was that I have no idea what it’s supposed to be like. What texture does flatbread have?

Pizza

Pizza night was always a big event in my family, especially as a teenager when my local bakery started selling bags of dough. My dad perfected his skills in shaping and yep, throwing pizza bases in the air. No idea what that does but it looks great. 

When I went gluten free dad made it his mission to sort out a pizza base for me. Back then (early 2000s) Orgran was the go-to. It came out as a kind of batter that you’d bake in the oven first then cover with your favourite toppings and bake again.

While living in the UK I was spoiled for choice with gluten free pizzas in the supermarket. Pizza Express Margheritas were everywhere, they weren’t amazing but they did a really good job. Then White Rabbit came on the scene – gluten free sourdough bases. So good! After that I really had no reason to try and make a base. In Finland there were also a few bases, none fresh but at least three frozen brands, including the universal Dr Oetker.

Since arriving in Australia it’s slightly slimmer pickings. Senza does a pretty good base, however I find it a bit hit and miss. Once the base snapped clean in half as I took it out of the bag. It was really dry and not that great. Other times it’s been amazing. Not sure what the difference is. 

The thing that has been holding me back is the right flour. My friend Marja, an excellent gluten free baker, swears that the Caputo gluten-free flour blend is the only one for making pizza. Caputo is an Italian flour brand and while I’ve seen their regular flours available in delicatessens around Sydney and Melbourne it’s a little harder to find the GF stuff.

Update: in April I found Caputo GF flour for sale at Harris Farms!! Standby for pizza attempts. 

Pasta 

Not a desperate goal to make my own gluten free pasta. But over the years I’ve seen on Instagram just how easy it can be. You dont’ actually need a pasta maker to do it either, just make the dough and roll it out on a board or your kitchen bench. 

I’ll have to do some more research on this but I think it’ll be a good activity for a rainy winter’s weekend. 

Macca’s sausage and egg muffin

What do you do when you find awesome gluten free English muffins? Try and recreate the best thing that ever happened to them – Maccas breakfast. 

One of my favourite gluten-free hacks in the UK was at Maccas. You order your McDonalds breakfast without the bun, then add on two hash browns. You use the hash browns as your replacement bun and voila, breakfast sandwich! It’s greasy as hell but oh so satisfying. 

However, if you’ve got some excellent gluten free buns, like the Lifestyle Bakery English muffins, then you’re most of the way there. I’ve already bought egg rings to get that classic circle shape so my last step is the sausage patties. I’ll be making this soon as I’ve got some buns waiting in the freezer. 

Update: You can now follow my recipe to make your McDonalds sausage and egg McMuffins!

Do you have any cooking or baking goals for the year? Or any goals for the year in general? Let me know in the comments or find me on Instagram.


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