“Sorry to be a pain, I can’t eat onion or garlic, what can you suggest from the menu?” That’s my latest one liner as I’m getting ready to order, perusing a menu of everything I can’t eat. I say it cheekily and confidently, because I know this one liner works. I’ve eaten out a lot to know that succumbing to embarrassment, bashfulness and plain old cbb (can’t be bothered), is not the way to go! But with this magic sentence, you’ll put the decision in the trusty waiters hands, coercing them to the kitchen to ask all the questions.
In saying this, the line didn’t work the other day when I was out for dinner. I got that look of confusion, I am all too familiar with, followed by suggestions that I just knew wouldn’t fly when the order hit the chefs in the kitchen. All is well though, a bit of flexibility on my part and a nice chat with the waiter, and I had a big bowl of steaming FODMAP friendly mussels in front of me, sans bread.
My point is, a bit of confidence goes a long way. Starting a restricted diet is overwhelming and I hear so many people say they stop eating out, and more often than not it’s because it can be a daunting experience, not because there’s nothing to eat. But please don’t do this! Eating out is a special part of life and a wonderful experience to enjoy with friends and family, especially during this festive time of year. No matter how much I love cooking, I will always love the experience of going to a new cafe or restaurant, sitting back and eating something delicious that has been carefully prepared by a pro, whilst chatting away with my company. I keep my growing list here of some of the places around Melbourne I’ve ‘successfully’ eaten at.
So don’t feel weird about your diet, like I did for some time. Be brave and ask away. These days my friends and family look at me in bewilderment. I’m relaxed, casual and ready to eat anywhere – I mean sure there’s a few garlic-y exceptions, but you get what I mean! Plus, times are changing and it’s getting less and less weird to have a food intolerance.
To celebrate being brave with our food restrictions, I have a beautiful, interesting and unique cake recipe for you – an Italian Rice Cake! I wish I came up with this idea myself, because it’s genius, but unfortunately someone else many moons ago decided to make a cake from rice. How brilliant. If you’re a fan of rice pudding, you’ll love this one!!
I first came across this rice cake whilst watching Two Greedy Italians, a beautiful and funny food show that pays homage to the recipes of regional Italy. Gennaro Contaldo, one half of the Two Greedy Italians, cooks this up whilst they’re travelling through Calabria (a place dear to my heart). In this video you can watch Gennaro cooking his Torta di Riso at home, definitely one to watch before you get stuck into baking! I’ve tweaked Gennaro’s recipe to make it FODMAP friendly and lower in sugar, but just as delicious. Enjoy!
Torta di Riso aka Italian Rice Cake
Makes – 1 cake
Prep time – 45 minutes
Cooking time – 1 hour
900ml lactose free milk
2/3 cup rice malt syrup
1 tsp vanilla essence
Pieces of lemon rind, of half a lemon
180g arborio rice
30ml Cointreau (orange liqueur)
3 tbsp raisins
Zest of half an orange
Yoghurt of choice & cinnamon for serving
Grease and line an 8-inch spring-form cake tin with baking paper. Place the milk, rice malt syrup, vanilla and pieces of lemon rind in a medium saucepan and bring to the boil. Add the rice and simmer over a medium to low heat for about 25 minutes, stirring occasionally. Continue to simmer until the rice is cooked and the milk has absorbed but still has a creamy consistency. Remove from the heat and allow to cool. Discard the lemon rind.
Preheat oven to 180°C. In a bowl, whisk the egg yolks and liqueur until creamy. In another bowl, whisk the egg whites until stiff. Add the egg yolk mixture to the cooled rice, and then fold in the egg whites, followed by the raisins and orange zest. Pour in the prepared tin and bake in the oven for 1 hour.
Serve warm or cold, with a smearing of natural yoghurt and a sprinkle of cinnamon and orange zest.