Paleo Sandwich Bread – No Grain

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I have always been scared of grain-free or wheat-free bread alternatives.  Every single one I’ve ever tasted has not been bread at all.  Just ‘stodge’ usually.  The recipe I’m sharing today (adapted from paleoeffect.com) is really like proper sandwich bread in texture.  It’s like eating soft wholemeal/rye bread.  And it’s easier to make than pancakes, honestly it is.  So easy.  For anyone who’s gone ‘paleo’ or looking to cut out or cut down on grains, I highly recommend this bread. I’ll be making it again for sure.  It comes into its own as a vehicle for open sandwiches.
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Paleo Sandwich Bread – No Grain

*Ground Linseeds (also known as Flaxseed meal) x 1 cup
(Feel free to use a linseed mix but you need at least 70% linseed/flaxseed content. I used a blend from the health food section at Coles, from ‘Celebrate Health’ – Flaxseeds with almonds, brazil nuts, walnuts and CoQ10 – this is why you’ll see some nut pieces in my bread.
*Arrowroot x 1.5 cups (also known as tapioca flour) I could only find this at Woolworths, not Coles, near the flour, in tubes from McKenzies.
*Baking Powder x 4 teaspoon’s
*Salt x 1/2 teaspoon (I used Maldon flakes)
*Eggs, whole x 4
*Egg whites only x 4
*Coconut oil x 4 tablespoon’s (melted and cooled a little, I use low aroma/taste coconut oil, refined which I get from Coles)
*Apple cider vinegar x 2 teaspoon’s
*Extra melted Coconut oil for greasing a loaf tin

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-Preheat oven to 180 degrees celcius
-Grease loaf tin with Coconut oil
-Mix all dry ingredients together in one bowl and all of the wet ingredients in another bowl, then combine the two.
-Loaf should be baked and ready in about half an hour (test with a skewer). It may look unappealing on the top when baked, almost like a meringue – but don’t be disheartened, once you turn the loaf out of the tin, you’ll notice a proper loaf shape and texture. Refer to my blog photo’s.
-For soft, fluffy bread, eat on the day of preparation. The bread doesn’t taste like any of the nasty wheat-free varieties I’ve tried before. Making open sandwiches with this bread is ideal, it really does taste like a lovely, wholemeal/rye style loaf.  Next day the bread is a little firmer but is perfect for toasting. I used leftovers to make paleo bread croutons for a salad.  I melted Coconut oil, grated some garlic into the oil and tossed cubes of bread in the hot oil until they were crispy, being careful not to burn the garlic.

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Easter Pie (Pastiera Napoletana)

‘Tis the season of overflowing Hot Cross Bun recipes while we remember how Jesus died and rose again for us.  If you want something different however.. something custardy and something you won’t find discounted in packs of 6 at the supermarket, then bake this pie! We’ll have something in common …because I’m making it again too :)  It’s an Easter cake or pie, also known as “Pastiera Napoletana”.  This very delicious sweet treat was inspired by  Easter cakes as seen in Fleisher’s shop window (a patisserie in Malvern, Melbourne).

Key Ingredient:  Pearl Barley!

Easter Pie (Pastiera Napoletana)

FOR THE PEARL BARLEY:

*1/2 cup of pearl barley
*Cold water, enough to generously cover pearl barley and more to top-up as water evaporates

PIE CRUST DOUGH (OR PASTA FROLLA)

*Plain flour x 2.5 cups
*Caster sugar x 1/3 cup
*Baking Powder x 1/2 teaspoon
*Salt x 1 pinch
*Butter, cold x 200 grams
*Eggs x 2 large
*Vanilla paste (or extract) x 1 teaspoon
*Cinnamon, ground x 1/4 teaspoon

PASTRY CREAM

*Eggs x 1 large + 1 yolk
*Caster sugar x 1/4 cup
*Plain flour x 2 tablespoon’s
*Milk x 1/2 cup
*Vanilla paste or extract x 1/2 teaspoon

FILLING

*All of the pastry cream
*All of the cooked pearl barley
*Ricotta, fresh, full fat x 1 cup
*Caster sugar x 1/4 cup
*Eggs x 2 large
*Orange flower water x 1 teaspoon
*Orange marmalade x 2 tablespoon’s
*Orange zest x 1/2 teaspoon
*Ground cinnamon and icing sugar for dusting on top of the pie when it’s finished
*Oil spray for your baking tins – Recipe provides enough filling for almost two pies and that’s what I did..I made a full-sized pie and a smaller one.

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-Start recipe by putting pearl barley into a saucepan, generously covering with cold water, bring to a boil and simmer for an hour, topping up water as you need it. While it’s cooking you can get on with the rest of the recipe, but when it’s finished, drain the pearl barley in a colander while rinsing under cold water.
-The dough is easy to make in a food processor and no rolling pin is required afterwards! Put all dough ingredients except butter and eggs into a food processor. Add cold butter which has been chopped into large chunks. Pulse the food processor until the butter’s combined with the flour and the mixture looks crumbly. Add the eggs and mix in with a few more pulses until you have a soft dough.
-The dough won’t necessarily be in one ball, rather you’ll probably need a spatula to scrape it out into a bowl. Don’t be alarmed by how soft it is. Pat it with your hands to form a soft ball, then break it into two pieces..with one ball being a bit larger than the second ball. Put these dough balls on a plate, cover with plastic wrap and refrigerate for at least 30 minutes.
-Make the pastry cream (resembling thick custard) by whisking egg yolks in a small saucepan with sugar until combined well, then add flour and continue whisking until well combined. Whisk in milk and then put on stove top to heat and come to a gentle boil. It’s easy to burn the bottom of the saucepan with the pastry cream, so be patient when continuously stirring this. Once it reaches the correct temperature it’ll thicken up almost instantly before your eyes. Remove from heat when it’s thick and keep vigorously whisking with a fork to make sure the mixture isn’t lumpy. I did this on top of a bowl full of cold water (in the kitchen sink) to stop the cooking process.
-To make the final filling, be sure to have your cooked, drained pear barley at hand + the pastry cream. When the pastry cream is done transfer to a large bowl, then with a fork, mix in ricotta, getting rid of as many lumps as you can. Then mix in eggs and then the sugar, followed by the orange blossom water and orange marmalade. Do these steps one at a time, rather than all at once. Finally, stir-in the cooked pearl barley and then preheat your oven to 175-180 degrees celcius.
-Remove pastry from fridge, spray a 20-25cm pie tin with oil and add larger ball of dough. With your clean fingers.. flatten the dough in the tin and work it out to the edges. The dough will yield to pressure and the warmth of your hands. Work the dough up the sides of the pan as if you were making a tart. Make sure you have what looks like a pie shell and an even distribution of pastry. If some parts of the base appear to have more dough than others.. do some ‘patch up’ jobs and make it even. It’s surprisingly easy and forgiving once cooked. My finished crust looked like it had been rolled out with a rolling pin to a precise measurement. The crust is supposed to be thin (see blog photo’s).
-With the final ball of dough you want to make pie-like criss-cross patterns on top of the pie. Usually recipes ask that you roll out the dough, cut it into strips and layer the strips over the pie. I say pinch off some dough and roll it in your hands as if you were making a sausage. Then place the sausage of dough on a clean surface and with your hands roll it so you end up with a sausage “strip” of dough. Layer these rolled dough strips in a diamond pattern on top of the pie and try and press the edges onto the edge of the pie crust..so they ‘connect’. Make it look tidy. No need to glaze with egg wash.
-Bake pie in preheated oven for 45 minutes to an hour. You’ll know it’s ready when the top is browned evenly and slightly puffed up.. and the edges of the crust will have browned and pulled away from the pie tin. I let the pie rest for about 10 minutes, then I dust with ground cinnamon, followed by a dusting of icing sugar. I put a plate on top of the pie dish and quickly, but gently flip it over. The pie should easily fall out onto the plate. Lift away the pie tin carefully.. and you’ll see your pie upside down, hopefully in one piece and a lovely golden colour. For the final unveiling, place your presentation plate (top side down) on top of your upside pie, then flip the pie over carefully, but quickly again. Lift away top plate and voila! Your Easter pie is ready. Hopefully the icing sugar will be more prominent on the criss-crosses. Slice into wedges as required and serve warm or at room temperature. A dollop of double cream may not be traditional, but it’s optional.



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Kale Chips


If you haven’t heard enough about kale recently, let me be annoying and remind you that it’s a superfood, full of antioxidant, anti-inflammatory and anti-cancer nutrients like magnesium, calcium + vitamins A, C and K.  Kale is also reputed to lower cholesterol and promote ‘detoxification’ in the body. I love juicing kale with something sweet like fresh pineapple or pear.  I also regularly add it to stir-fried cauli and broccoli, before adding a good sprinkling of pumpkin-seed dukkah.  I then add a splash of tamari (wheat free soy sauce) + water then on goes a glass lid & it steams a little.  It’s my go-to vegie lunch or evening side dish.

Have you seen the price of kale chips though? Usually around the $6 mark!  Just totally wacko.  A whole bunch of kale is usually a couple of dollars cheaper and you’ll get a lot more chips if you make your own. Apparantly the best way to make kale chips is with a food dehydrator, but you can make a quickie version using your oven and my recipe. Once the marinade is on and the chips are baked to ‘crispy’, I think anyone could munch their way through a whole bunch of kale.  This curly cruciferous veg has only started being more readily available to Aussie’s in the last year or so, thanks to an abundance of wellness movements the world over.  I particularly love the documentary film Fat Sick And Nearly Dead  - if you haven’t seen it already, I highly recommend it, even if you don’t need to lose a single kilo or pound.  In the meantime, ditch potato chips and make better friends with kale :)

Kale being coated with the tomatoey marinade before being put in the oven.

Kale Chips

*Kale x 1 bunch
*Tomato Passata x 1 cup
*Seeds x 1/3 cup (eg sunflower, sesame)
*Garlic x 1 large clove, minced or grinded into a paste
*Splash of melted coconut oil (I buy the kind that has no coconut aroma)
*Salt x 1/2 teaspoon (eg. pink Himalayan salt)
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-Preheat oven to 150 degrees celcius.
-Wash and then dry kale with a paper towel.
-Cut out stalks because they remain fibrous and chewy.
-Line a baking tray with baking paper.
-Grind seeds a little using a mortar and pestle, then add salt and garlic paste, combine.
-In a separate bowl, combine seed mix with passata and oil.
-In a large bowl (or line a clean kitchen sink with baking paper), combine kale with seasoned tomato passata, use your hands and massage the kale, coating all of the leaves well.
-Bake for approximately 15 minutes.  It’s better to do it in two batches or on two trays, otherwise you’ll find some of the kale will be crispy, dried and ready and others leaves will need to be moved around the tray and given extra baking time.
-It’s important not to forget kale in the oven because dried leaves will burn and turn bitter.
-Eat dried, seasoned kale chips on their own as a tasty snack or crumble them into other foods in place of parsley for example. I added crushed kale chips to a chunky hummus and then garnished the hummus with more kale chips (see blog photo).
-Chips are best eaten on day of preparation.

The kale chip marinade consists of tomato passata, sunflower seeds, garlic, salt and oil.

Kale, coated in tomato/garlic/seeds, ready for the oven. I think I overcrowded my tray. So I just removed the baked kale and added further cooking time to the leaves that weren’t yet dried.

Ready to eat. Kale Chips.

Kale chips, crumble like dried autumn leaves. I’d recommend removing the stalks before baking. The stalks remain fibrous and chewy. Crush kale chips where parsley is needed in dishes and/or use as a nutritious, green garnish.

I made a chunky hummus and stirred through crushed kale chips and then topped the dip with more kale. It kind of looks like Christmas holly on top of a plum pudding.

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Asian Style Eggs

Have you ever eaten eggs on a stick? Skewered quail eggs are apparantly a popular type of street food in Indonesia…along with chicken livers and intestines on a stick. I have to admit, once upon a time, I thought “satay” meant something cooked or marinated in a peanut sauce. That’s because whenever I bought “Satay Chicken” it would come with or without a bamboo skewer and it always seemed to have a peanutty flavour or sauce. Eventually I learned that ‘satay’ means food cooked on a skewer.

Terminology aside, I’ve created my own quick serving-sauce for these yummy Asian-style eggs and it’s not peanut based.  Having said that, you actually don’t need to use quail eggs and you don’t need to put the eggs on skewers.  Obviously use less eggs if you’re going to use hen’s eggs.  After I took my photo’s, I had some mental “Umm’s and Ahh’s” and decided a tablespoon of coconut cream mixed-in right at the end was a very nice touch.. but for today.. the photo’s are minus coconut cream. I’ll include it as an option in the recipe.

If using quail eggs, they’d make an ideal ‘starter’ or finger food. They’re quite cute actually and if you don’t overcook them.. you’ll appreciate their delicate creaminess.  If using larger (hens) eggs, they’d be great in a meal instead of meat. Just add salad!   Final note: I paid $4.99 for 24 quail eggs which was a very good price.
Asian Style Eggs

*Quail eggs x 24 (Find at Asian grocer’s or at good green grocer’s), alternatively, use 6 to 8 hen’s eggs.
*Water for hard-boiling eggs
*Vinegar, half cup
*Onion, half medium, very finely chopped
*Garlic, 2 cloves minced
*Ginger, 1 teaspoon grated
*Rice Malt Syrup or honey, 1 heaped tablespoon
*Tamari or Soy Sauce, 2 tablespoons
*Water, half a cup for sauce
*Coconut cream OPTIONAL, 1 tablespoon to stir into serving sauce at the end
*Oil, about 1/4 cup to brown hardboiled eggs
*Wooden skewers (optional, but good for quail eggs to turn them into ‘satay’), mini/half-size skewers, at least 24
*Cauliflower rice or jasmine rice or just a salad for serving + chopped spring onions
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-Remove each quail egg from carton carefully and discard any cracked one’s. I ended up with 19 out of 24 eggs, which is ok for this recipe.
-Carefully put quail eggs in a saucepan, cover eggs with cold water and bring to boil, then add vinegar and boil for about 4 minutes. Boiling the eggs with vinegar in the water will soften the shells and make the shell-peeling go a bit faster.
-Carefully transfer eggs into a deep bowl full of cold water, the colder the better and let cool while you prepare onion, ginger and garlic (mincing & chopping).
-Remove shells from eggs. Start by rolling each egg with a bit of pressure to gently crack one side. The first few bits of shell may seem fiddly to remove, but once you’ve removed 1/4 to 1/3 of the shell, the rest should easily come off in one piece. It took me about 10 to 20 seconds per egg, quicker than I imagined. Rinse each egg in water after the shell comes off, just to make sure all shell grit is gone and place eggs on a bed of paper towels.
-Heat oil in a wok or small pan, then add shelled and dried quail eggs. Paper towels will dry your eggs quickly & your oil won’t spit as a result.
-Gently toss the eggs about in the hot oil, they’ll start to brown quickly. Notice the white exterior’s start to bubble and go from smooth to crispy.
-Pour the browned eggs from the pan into a sieve to drain and put the pan back on the heat and add the onion and soften for 2 minutes.
-Add ginger and garlic and saute another 2 minutes.
-Add honey and tamari or soy sauce, stir & reduce heat so your mixture doesn’t burn.
-Add 1/2 cup of water, keep stirring, then turn heat up and get mixture to bubble.
-Add quail eggs back into this bubbling sauce and simmer for a minute.
-With a slotted spoon, remove eggs and set aside.
-Keep the sauce bubbling away, you want it to thicken and reduce (without burning)
-When sauce is thick, transfer to a pouring jug or similar.. there won’t be much, but you don’t need much for the finished eggs.
-Put 3 quail eggs onto each skewer (carefully impale them straight through the middle, length ways, from bottom to pointy end).
-Heat sauce right before serving and carefully add a few drops onto each quail egg.
-Serve eggs with cauliflower rice or jasmine rice with spring onions.. or just a good green salad.
Ordinary hen’s egg with the quail eggs (for size comparison).
Hardboiled quail eggs soaking in cold water. I had two obviously cracked egg’s at the beginning but didn’t think to examine each egg closely until after I boiled them, so a few more were discarded after they came out of the water, just to be on the safe side.



Starting to brown the shelled and dried quail eggs.
Tamari is a wheat-free alternative to traditional soy sauce.. use either kind.


Browned and drained eggs are put back in the pan once the sauce is made and they simmer for a short time before being removed. The sauce bubbles away and is reduced & ready to use when you’re ready to serve the quail eggs.
Eat Asian-style eggs with or without sauce… though the sauce is a lovely finishing touch. Add coconut cream to sauce right at the end as an option.



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Chicken Chipolata’s with Lemon and Fennel.

These homemade, skinless sausages (the size of chipolata’s) weren’t destined to be on my blog. But we liked them so much, I made them again and took more photographs (most importantly during daylight hours). They are little pieces of homemade ‘sausage’ you could say and similar to the ‘cevap’s’ (pronounced chair-varps) I had growing up in my Serbian-influenced, Hungarian family. That childhood recipe was usually a mixture of pork and beef (or veal), a tonne of garlic and some salt and egg for binding. My parents had never even heard of a porcini mushroom, let alone porcini powder.

Speaking of which, if you’ve never kept porcini powder in your pantry I’d ask you to consider it (even if you don’t like mushrooms) because it boosts the flavour of many dishes. I was convinced of this after attending a spice appreciation evening a few years ago. The classes were and still are run by Ian ‘Herbie’ Hemphill himself. You can learn more about these classes on his website and even purchase the class in dvd format for only $15. By attending in person however, you get the added bonus of grinding spices yourself (you bring along your own pestle and mortar). I was able to sample three hot dishes prepared on the night (by someone else, not me) and they included some of the spices discussed. There was also coffee and wine at the end and of course you meet Ian himself. Ask him any spice question you like! All for $55.

Despite me not actually enjoying cooking classes in general, I learned things on that spice appreciation night and I was inspired!  And still talk about it today. Because of ‘Herbie’ I now buy porcini powder and use it in my spaghetti bolognese or when I need to add stock to a recipe, or in marinades. It definitely adds ‘umami’ to any dish.. being the fifth taste element (the others are sweet, sour, bitter and salty..umami is none of these). Herbie’s porcini powder is brilliant and can be bought online or where Herbie’s spices are sold, $6.70 for only 15 grams.. I get about 3 uses out of it. I recently found another brand in the gourmet food section of Highton IGA supermarket ‘Premium Porcini Mushroom Powder’ (pictured below) around $6 for 40 grams.

I hope you won’t be put off by the inclusion of porcini powder or lemon myrtle in today’s recipe. For the uninitiated, lemon myrtle is a native Australian spice which is often stuck with a “bush spice” or “bush tucker” label. Because of this, lemon myrtle isn’t really thought about when a dish requires lemon rind or a lemony flavour. Why not use it in risotto or a seafood-based linguine.. or how about mixing some with whole egg mayo to serve with seafood? What about flavouring icecream with it? I used some in a marinade for lamb riblets Monday night.. lemon myrtle, oregano, garlic, salt & pepper, lemon juice and olive oil. It doesn’t need to be ‘bush tucker’… and I thank Ian ‘Herbie’ Hemphill for enlightening me about it.

Mincing your own chicken thigh fillets provides a much tastier result than what you’d get from supermarket chicken mince. No mystery-additives when you make it yourself. Having said that, I do buy mince from the supermarket just not for this recipe.  Today’s recipe requires a food processor and it does most of the work for you. It’s basically “throw-it-all-into-the-blender”, then with wet hands, roll your chipolata’s. Done.

Chicken Chipolata’s with Lemon and Fennel

Makes 16 to 20

-5 skinless chicken thigh fillets (don’t trim off any bits of fat you might see, they add much needed moisture)
-1 medium sized onion
-1 teaspoon fennel seeds
-1 teaspoon porcini powder
-1/2 teaspoon chilli flakes
-1 teaspoon chicken stock powder
-1/2 teaspoon salt
-1 flat teaspoon of lemon myrtle (Substitute 1 teaspoon finely chopped lemon rind – For lemon myrtle, try your local Oxfam Fair Trade shop which is where I purchased mine. ‘Outback Spirit’ is the brand, though you can find lemon myrtle usually wherever good quality spices are sold)
-2 cloves of garlic, finely minced
-1/2 cup of almond meal
-1/2 teaspoon white pepper
-2 tablespoon’s of oil for frying
-For serving: Proper Dijon mustard from France (I’ve tried them all, the French do it best. Usually easy to find even in supermarkets, check the label)

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-With kitchen scissors, cut each chicken thigh fillet into 3 pieces and throw into a food processor
-Using a mortar/pestle, bruise fennel seeds and chilli flakes together with salt.. this mix won’t be ground to a powder, you just want to release the spice aroma’s
-Add bruised spices to the chicken
-Chop onion into quarters and add to the mix
-Add chicken stock powder, pepper, minced garlic, lemon myrtle, porcini powder and almond meal into the chicken mix
-Put the lid on your food processor and process until you have what looks like a well-seasoned chicken mince (it won’t take too long)
-With a spoon, transfer chicken mince onto a plate or into a bowl
-With wet hands (perhaps have a little bowlful of water beside you like I do), grab some seasoned chicken mixture and make little sausages, about the size of chipolata’s (about 2 tablespoon’s of mixture per little sausage)
-When all of the little sausages have been rolled/formed, heat a frypan, add oil and brown chipolata’s until cooked through, without overcooking
-Serve with good, Dijon mustard from France

Rolled and ready to go in the pan….

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Brazillian Cheese Puffs (Pão de Queijo) – gluten free

I randomly came across these little things that resembled dinner rolls on the internet one day and they looked delicious!  The thought of something chewy, warm and cheesy that required an oven and not a deep-fryer was appealing too.  After researching this common Brazillian cheese bread recipe (which are more like pillowy soft, chewy puffs and not bread as most of us know it) I discovered that many Brazillian ex-pat’s are transported back home when they eat these things.  In mind and spirit I mean!  I also learned there are two ways of preparing Pão de Queijo (Pronounced something like: “Por-ja-care-jor’.  Portuguese for ‘cheese bread’) .  The cooking method I used required a stove-top and a wee bit of doughy mess with one bowl and wooden spoon before baking lumps of batter on a tray in the oven.  Apparantly Brazillian natives also have a quicker method where they bung all the ingredients into a blender (bypassing the stove and the choux pastry technique) and make a slightly wetter batter, which is then dolloped into muffin trays or mini-muffin trays.  I made my batch using the more time-consuming stove-top method.  And they turned out great.  However, don’t get me wrong, you can whip up a batch of these in the time it takes to make scones. With all the recipes I saw online everyone seemed to vary the quantities of oil, tapioca flour, eggs, milk or cheese.  But the main ingredients are essentially the same.  Which brings me back to tapioca flour.  Also known as ‘Arrowroot’ here in Australia.  I found Arrowroot in the supermarket, near all of your other flours.  It’s gluten free and so are these Cheese Puffs.  A warning to anyone making them though, they are incredibly more-ish.  Stopping at one or three is almost impossible.

Brazillian Cheese Puffs

(Makes approximately 15 puffs)
*Tapioca Flour (aka ‘Arrowroot’) x 175gm container (or approx 2 cups)
*Full Cream Milk x 1 cup
*Cooking oil x 1/3 cup (I use Grapeseed oil)
*Parmesan Cheese, grated x 1 cup
*Eggs x 2
*Salt x 1 pinch
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-Preheat oven to 220 degrees.  This will be dropped to 180 when you put Cheese Puffs in oven.
-In a saucepan, heat milk, oil and salt and remove from stove when it starts bubbling.
-In a ceramic bowl (not plastic), mix tapioca flour and heated liquids together with a wooden spoon.  The mixture will appear quite lumpy and gelatinous and like it could almost never turn smooth.  This mixture needs to cool a little before you handle it again.  it’s ready when you’re able to handle it with your hands and it doesn’t burn you.
-Knead the dough and work out lumps for a few minutes.  I did this in the bowl and eventually I had a snowy-white ball of shiny dough (see website photo). It’s done in a matter of minutes.
-Add eggs one at a time and stir through well before adding the last egg.  I used the ‘stick’ end of my wooden spoon to do this.  The mixture will appear more yellow and maybe not completely lump-free, but you want a shiny smooth doughy batter.
-Stir through parmesan cheese.  The mixture will look lumpier now, but will be stretchy and sticky.
-Dollop heaped tablespoonfuls of dough/batter onto a lined baking tray.  Turn oven down to 180 degrees celcius and put cheese puffs in oven.
-Bake for around 15 to 20 minutes.  They should appear slightly golden on the outside and mostly cooked on the inside.  You don’t want a raw interior or to burn the exteriors.  You can reheat and ‘re-puff’ these in a hot oven if you have any leftovers and want to refresh them.  That would be a funny concept in my house.  Leftover cheesepuffs?
 
Lumpy dough mixture comes off heat and when slightly cooled, is kneaded a little to make
a smooth ball of dough.
 
(Left) Dough with eggs added, (Right) Dough with cheese added.

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