Tuesday, August 21, 2012

The Adventures of Miss Lulu’s Dessert Parlour

We are always on the lookout for fabulous new gluten free products that are interesting, fun and of course deliciously tasty! Which is exactly what we found when we stumbled across Miss Lulu’s Dessert Parlour.

I had the absolute pleasure of meeting Miss Lulu the other day and was lucky enough to try some of her delicious creations! Each bite transported me back into childhood parties full of cupcakes, cream and sprinkles. Loved each one!

It’s hard to believe that these treats are gluten free, dairy free, yeast free, soy free and egg free. Even my gluten eating husband enjoyed them with me!

Miss Lulu has been kind enough to answer a few questions we had for her, to give us a little glimpse inside her world.

Miss Lulu: Firstly I’d like to say that I love what you’re doing to help & support the gluten free community.  It is so wonderful!  Thank you so much for featuring me on your blog – it is such an honour and I am so touched by it xo

2SS: Tell us a little about Miss Lulu’s Dessert Parlour.

Miss Lulu: Miss Lulu’s Dessert Parlour wants to bring back the fun, magic & childhood nostalgia to the sensitive tummy. I was so sick of poking at a piece of fruit whilst everyone else gobbled down a gluten-laced, butter-soaked treat and saying it was okay.  The looks of pity were very hard to smile through! The dream was to be able to share my safe treats with everyone else and for no one to bat an eyelid. My vision has always been a family eating together with smiles all round!

2SS: What are your food intolerances?

Miss Lulu: When I was first diagnosed with coeliac disease I was in a world of sensitivity – as well as coeliac disease, I also had a good dose of lactose intolerance as well as issues with amines (these include things like chocolate, bananas & tomatoes), salicylates (certain fruits and vegetables, honey, nuts) & sucrose.  As you can probably imagine it was a bit of a nightmare!  I have to admit I wasn’t a big fan of my dietician when she kept eliminating more and more foods after my diagnosis! For three years I didn’t eat out from fear of getting sick. My mother’s vegetable soup - which she made for me everyday - sustained me during those years. It was an elixir that many of my friends say saved my life.  Thank you to Mama Lulu! Slowly as my tummy healed I was able to re-introduce foods containing amines, salicylates & sucrose and now I only have to ask for gluten & dairy free – and I also eat out again thanks to Mr Lulu (who informs everyone of my dietary requirements because he knows I feel really uncomfortable doing it – thank you Mr Lulu!)

2SS: When did you start Miss Lulu’s Dessert Parlour?

Miss Lulu: I launched the Miss Lulu’s Dessert Parlour online store in December 2011and we got an order within the first few minutes of launching! What an exhilarating panic attack!  And the first call I got that day I thought was a joke from a friend and the poor man had to convince me that he was in fact a real customer!  I felt so awful about it!  It’s been a steep learning curve since then and I’ve modified all of my original recipes quite a bit – I want to constantly improve and make the products better every time.

2SS: Where did the name Miss Lulu come from?

Miss Lulu: My mum, dad & sister have called me Lulu affectionately since I was a little girl.  My mum would only use my real name if I was in BIG trouble!!  Because Miss Lulu’s Dessert Parlour is so much about trying to bring back the magic of childhood nostalgia it was the perfect fit. If I used my real name I’d feel like I was in trouble all the time!

2SS: Where do you get your inspirations from when you are creating Miss Lulu treats?

Miss Lulu: I’m happy to announce that at first - my inspiration was greed!  There are not many gluten AND dairy free sweet treats so I was getting desperate.  The first treat I tried to conquer was the chocolate éclair – not the ones with plain cream in them but the ones with chocolate custard cream. What I realised is that desperation certainly takes you to crazy places! There were many MANY failed attempts but the moment I hit the jackpot I was over the moon and back! Then I made trip to New York & visited an amazing place called BabyCakes NYC. The overwhelming happiness I felt at being able to choose almost everything in such a gorgeous bakery really inspired me. I found myself craving the experience on a daily basis back in Australia and I wanted to travel to NYC specifically to eat their treats (an expensive and unrealistic exercise!). I thought to myself – how can I get this magical feeling back home? No one was doing it and I wanted to bring this feeling back to others as well. Since then it’s been the most rewarding thing I’ve EVER done – especially when someone discovers us for the first time and they realise they can have something – the look of surprise and relief is always very heartwarming.

Now, my treats are inspired by our customers.

2SS: Which one of your creations is your all time favourite treat?

Miss Lulu: OHHHH – that is a very hard one to answer. It really depends on my mood – but the coffee éclairs and chocolate éclairs are pretty irresistible to me. Then the donuts with fresh strawberry glaze and the apple crumble cupcake. These are the ones I find the hardest to resist after making anyway! But I eat, sorry "test", everything very happily.

2SS: Which treat was the trickiest recipe to perfect?

Miss Lulu: I would say the dairy free cream.  I have tried so many substitute products that are just plain awful and depressing. This took years to perfect and I just couldn’t get it right.  I was able to grin and bear it – but in the testing phase I would always test it out on tummies of steel (who have no idea how lucky they are!) and only declared victory when I got the thumbs up from them. The biggest shock is that the majority of our customers are tummies of steel and don’t even care that we cater for sensitive tummies – that was always in my wildest dreams but I honestly never expected that to happen.

2SS: Where can we find Miss Lulu’s delicious treats?

Miss Lulu: Right now you can find us online at www.misslulus.com.au and we also appear at the Northside Produce Market in North Sydney every third Saturday of the month.  We pop up in the odd place now and again too. We’re hoping to one day have our own little wonderland cafe where people can escape to – but baby steps first!

2SS: Have you always loved to bake or is this a new passion because of your intolerances?

Miss Lulu: I have always loved to EAT!  Baking was just a means to get me to that place of satisfaction and it became essential when I couldn’t find the things I craved.

2SS: Where are your favourite places to eat out?

Miss Lulu: In Sydney - my favourite places are Spice Temple, China Lane, Longrain & Billy Kwong’s – oh and my mum’s place!

In Melbourne (because I can’t resist telling you) – Cumulus Inc, Ezard, Taxi Dining and oh my goodness LORD OF THE FRIES YUM!

2SS: What is your top tip for gluten free baking?

Miss Lulu: My top tip would be perseverance – don’t give up when something doesn’t work because when your recipe finally works – it’s such a great feeling of achievement!

Miss Lulu’s Dessert Parlour
Northside Produce Market, North Sydney (every third Saturday of the month)

 post signature

Tuesday, August 14, 2012

Bon appétit! Julia Child’s 100th Birthday

Tomorrow the world celebrates the birthday of an iconic chef – Julia Child. Had Julia still been with us today she would have been celebrating her 100th birthday! Sadly Julia died in 2004, of kidney failure, just two days shy of her 92nd birthday. For those of you who don’t know, Julia Child was an American chef, author, and television personality, famous for introducing French cuisine to the American people, with her debut cookbook, “Mastering the Art of French Cooking”.

I admit, before watching the movie “Julie and Julia” I didn’t know who she was. Her TV show, “The French Chef”, premiered in 1963… Just a little before my time ;o) The movie is based on two true stories. One of Julia Child, and the other of Julie Powell, who assigns herself a project to cook all 524 recipes from the cookbook “Mastering the Art of French Cooking” in 365 days, and blogs about her journey.

Julia Child and her husband Paul, moved to Paris just two years after their marriage. While Paul worked, Julia struggled to find something to fill her time with that she enjoyed. She soon decided that she would attend the famous “Le Cordon Bleu” cooking school, to learn how to cook. Cooking came naturally to Julia and she soon became in love with it. She had discovered her passion and was fearless in the kitchen!

Along her travels Julia met Simone Beck, who was writing a French cookbook for Americans with her friend Louisette Bertholle. And together the three women wrote a book about French cooking for Americans – “Mastering the Art of French Cooking”.

So in honour of Julia Child’s 100th Birthday I have decided to try one of her recipes. After a lot of thought I decided I would make ‘Boeuf Bourguignon’. A traditional French beef stew, slow cooked in red wine. This was also the very first dish that Julia Child prepared on her TV series, “The French Chef”!

But after watching the original cooking show (see clip above), doing a bit of research, and finding the original recipe from "Mastering the Art of French Cooking", I was nearly ready to give up before I even started! There are a lot of steps involved and it seemed more complicated than I had originally expected! But nonetheless I pulled myself together (before I had a Julie Powell kitchen breakdown, like in the movie Julie and Julia) and decided I was going to tackle this!

And I’m so glad I did! The end product was absolutely delicious and the whole kitchen had a gorgeous smell of wine and herbs. The dish was a perfect hearty winter meal and I’m sure I will make this again. Traditionally this is served with boiled potatoes, however I opted for a side of steamed rice. You can make this a day ahead of serving, and supposedly freezes well too. So here is my gluten free and simplified version of ‘Boeuf Bourguignon’. In the words of Julia Child, Bon appétit!

Recipe adapted from "Mastering The Art Of French Cooking" by Julia Child, Simone Beck and Louisette Bertholle.


90g pancetta (or bacon), sliced thickly
1.5 kgs chuck beef, cubed
1 tablespoon olive oil
1 carrot, diced
1 onion, diced
2 1/2 tablespoons GF cornflour
1 1/2 cups good red wine
2-3 cups GF beef stock
1 1/2 tablespoons tomato paste
1 clove garlic, crushed
Sprig of thyme
1 large bay leaf


12 Eschalots
1 tablespoon butter


300g mushrooms, quartered
1 tablespoon olive oil
2 tablespoons butter

1. Preheat oven to 150°C. Dry the beef cubes in paper towels (they will not brown if damp).

2. Heat the olive oil in a medium sized frypan until hot, and fry the pancetta for 2-3 minutes to brown lightly. Remove to a side dish.

3. In the same pan, fry the beef, a few pieces at a time, until nicely browned on all sides. Remove to a side dish and then fry the carrot and onion until brown.

4. Place the pancetta, beef and vegetables into a heavy-based casserole dish, and season with salt and pepper. Sprinkle with cornflour and toss to coat the beef. On a medium heat keep tossing for 1-2 minutes more to lightly brown the flour.

5. Add the red wine and enough beef stock so the meat is barely covered. Add the tomato paste, garlic and herbs, and bring to the simmer.

6. Cover the casserole dish with the lid and set in the lower third of the oven. Allow to slowly cook for 2 hours. Keep an eye on this as each oven varies cooking times. The meat should be easily pierced with a fork and a thick gravy should bubble around it.

7. Whilst the beef is in the oven prepare the onions and mushrooms. To easily peel the eschalots, place in a bowl of boiling water for a minute. Remove and cut off the root side, the skin should then peel off without a problem. Leave them whole.

8. Place the eschalots in a saucepan and half cover with water. Add butter and salt, and bring to simmer. Cover and cook for a further 20 minutes or until tender.

9. For the mushrooms, heat the olive oil and butter in a fry pan until hot (the butter is hot enough when the butter foam subsides). Add the mushrooms to the pan and season with salt. Sauté for 2-3 mins or until lightly browned.

10. Once the beef is tender remove casserole dish from the oven. Skim the fat off the sauce, which may have risen while cooking. Add the cooked onions and mushrooms to the meat, and simmer over the heat for 2-3 minutes.

11. Serve with potatoes or rice, and a full-bodied red wine. Serves 6-8 people.

 post signature