Thursday, 19 December 2013

Yule Log Genius Bake Along

What a good idea from Genius, to have a Bake Along.
I love to try new recipes and specially when I know there will be no gluten and no dairy in it!
I've never baked a Log before, but it has come out as per the recipe. And there is a minuscule chance of winning one of their great prices!

My dish was just slightly small so I've had to cut out a little bit to make it fit.
It was soooo delicious that I've nearly had to reach for an even smaller dish.
Good thing I got the photo out of the way first ;)
Find out more on their blog.

Tuesday, 17 December 2013

Lentil Stew Naturally Gluten Free

A dish meant for winter, how warming it is when it's cold outside and you feel like hiding under the duvet!
It's quite easy and quick to prepare if you have a pressure cooker, and i do ;)

If you don't have a pressure cooker you can also cook it in a normal pot, it will just take longer, maybe around one hour until the lentils are tender.

Ingredients: 100 grams of green lentils per person, one onion cut in thick wedges, one piece of chorizo per person (approx 30 grams or more if you like it), a piece of Serrano ham or bacon, 1 bay leave, salt to taste, 1 tsp of sweet paprika, 2 tbsp of olive oil, and three garlic cloves, peeled and cut in chunks.

Instructions: put the lentils, onion, chorizo, ham, bay leave and salt in the pressure cooker and cover with water, enough to cover the ingredients plus one inch more. Close the cooker and leave it to cook for 15 minutes in the vegetable setting.
When it's done, in a separate small pan heat the oil and when it starts to smoke add the garlic until brown. Then remove from the heat and add the paprika, mixing it quickly with the oil with a wooden spoon, just until mixed. Pour this over the lentils and they are ready to go!

Pom Bears Potato Snack

These little cuties are so nice!
A welcome discovery after checking the ingredients on the back of so many crisp packets.

The bag says they do not have artificial colours or artificial preservatives, but they do contain SOYA, the only allergen listed, so watch out if you can't have it.

Broadly available and so good every time ;)

Sunday, 15 December 2013

Newburn Bakehouse Gluten Free Baguette

I was very excited when I saw these baguettes in the supermarket, would they taste like real bread?
When I took them out of the packet two thoughts came to mind, first that the consistency was nice, quite sturdy little things, secondly that they have a somewhat plastic feel...
Cutting them in half and they still look good, nice texture, and the taste is OK.
I decided to have one of them grilled with some grilled ham as filling, and there is where disappointment begun. They got completely flat and really hard, as when you iron something with a synthetic fibre and it melts and get all burned....
Overall the taste is OK if you can get over the plastic look, but definitely one to eat cold!

Update: Oops! After tweeting about it, I've been told there were some instructions to be followed to get a golden crispy baguette, so will have to try them again and will update ;)

Udis Apple and Cinamon Toaster Pastries

I am not sure what to make of these pastries.
The taste is nice but it is very much like having a toast with some warm jam. They don't do much for me, but my sister loves them.

I suppose it is the sort of thing handy to have in the cupboard if you tend to run out of food without warning, very much an emergency ration for me.

What do you think? Worth trying?

Marks and Spencer Christmas range

I went into Marks and Spencers the other day and decided to check their gluten free Christmas range.
They have a good selection, with mince pies, a Christmas pudding for one and a Christmas cake. Reasonable price too, around £2.Not bad.

I haven't tried them, as I've never really liked the pudding or the mince pies in my gluten eating days, but I though I should mention it. If any reader has tried them, please leave a comment with your thoughts, thanks!

M&S Gluten Free Products

It's nice to see the selection of gluten free products at Marks and Spencer. There are quite a few of them, including sponges, biscuits, crackers, muffins, crumpets, shortbread and a few breads.
They also have some gluten free pasta, if I remember correctly in the pasta section.

I particularly love the white bread, which they call sliced white boule, super soft and spongy with poppy seeds, so yummy I always try to find an excuse to have one more slice ;)

Friday, 13 December 2013

Stollen Disaster

I was very excited with the magazine 101 Gluten Free recipes, so many Christmas favourites that I could bake!!!
My first attempt was for Panetone, but unfortunately it was so dry and flat that it was only bearable dipped in coffee...
Not one to get discouraged, I went for Stollen.

I didn't have high expectations. Even before my gluten free days, I've never been able to use yeast properly.
I got all the ingredients together, a lot of kneading and voila, it looked like a heavy log of bread with bits (first pic). The instructions said to leave it to raise for 30 minutes, which I did, wrapped in cling film.
Did it not look so encouraging in the second picture when it was pushing the cling film to the limit? It had raised!!! Was that the begining of my bread making days?
Unfortunately after baking for the recomended time, it smelled gorgeous, but was so hard I had to throw it away, as hard as a brick.
The search for some yeast recipes I CAN bake continues......

Carrot Cake

Yes, the panetone did not happen, the stollen did not happen but I could always go back to my trusted baking book, Cake Angels by Julia Thomas. So I did and I got a moist and delicious Carrot Cake.
I've taken a few pics from the process, the first one is the mix before going into the oven, the second out of the oven and the final one the finish product, icing included ;)
I took it to my knitting group, where three of us are coeliac/intolerant and it went in a second, even the gluten eating folk loved it ;)
I must say I've done this recipe a few times and every single one of them has been great. I read somewhere that gluten free baking works better with some fruit or vegetable in the mix, it must be true.

Thursday, 5 December 2013

Food heaven Lemon Cheese Cake

I had this cheese cake at the weekend, available in larger Sainsbury's frozen cupboards at £3.

There is also a summer fruits option, but in my opinion the lemon one is nicer.

Back to the Lemon Cheesecake, it is actually quite nice. The first time I tried it I was worried the base was going to be like a rock, but it's very much like biscuit crumbs.

The lemon cheese cake is make with Soya I think, but I like the taste so that is not a problem for me ;)

I had a chance to try all their products at the Allergy Show last June and I much say the Tiramisu was by far my favourite, I hope it is soon stocked in Sainsbury's so that I can indulge some now and then.

Pizza Express Gluten Free Pizza

I've been to Pizza Express a few times since they introduced their Gluten Free menu earlier this year. They have made a great effort to ensure all staff know what they need to do and understand what you ask, so well done!
The choice of pizza is very much like in the main menu, but made with the Gluten Free pizza base and served in a black board to differentiate them from the other pizzas, minimizing the risk of confusion when serving.
They also have Greens gluten free beer and Aspen cider, brilliant choices.

I've really enjoyed it every time, I only remember once when the base was a bit hard, but otherwise, good price and many restaurants to pop into, so a great option when out and about.
They have even changed their knives to some that actually cut!!!

What next? Gluten Free dough balls? Go on make me happy!

101 Gluten-Free Christmas Recipes

I found this magazine at WH Smith last week, and had to buy it!
It looks quite promising, with lots of recipes for the season. It costs £4.99 and as the title says, it has 101 recipes, divided into several sections:

Baking: 34 recipes, including Christmas pudding, nougat, cake pops, stollen, panetone and mince pies.
Starters and party food: 23 recipes, with cheese straws, pancake rolls, croquettes, mini quiches and blinis.
Mains: 13 recipes, inclluding, yorkshire pudding, gravy, Christmas stuffing, and a few sauces.
Leftovers: very turkey based.... 17 recipes.
Boxing day: 15 recipes, with pies, pastry, beef Wellington and a few quiches.
All the recipes have photograps, so no guessing what it should look like.
Now trying to decide what to cook first....

Thursday, 28 November 2013

Ink Squid

I love fish and seafood, and I take any opportunity to eat plenty of it. I was in Spain this week visiting my mother and I went to the supermarket where I saw some yummy squid that I had to have!
My mum always lets me cook, so that makes it easy, I can have whatever I want ;)
The ink in this dish comes from the squid, so it's all natural. The squid has a little bag inside of it with the ink, which can be used in the sauce to give it the dark colour. If you buy the squid prepared and the insides have been removed, you can buy an ink sachet separately. I've bought them in London in a local fishmonger or at Carluccio's (Nero di seppia). These sachets are long life, I think they are pasteurised, so I always have a couple in the fridge just in case. The taste is a bit salty and a bit fishy.
Cooking the squid is easy, all you need is a bit of time.

Ingredients: Nothing needs to be in a particular proportion, so you can do the same recipe with any amount of squid. I'll list the ingredients that I used but feel free to have more or less of anything, it won't make a huge difference to the dish.

1 tablespoon of olive oil
1 onion thinly chopped
2 garlic cloves thinly chopped
1/2 kilos of squid cut in chunks (plus one/two ink squid bags or a sachet)
2 tablespoons of tomato sauce
4/5 tablespoons of water to dilute the ink

Preparation: Heat the olive oil in a large pot (will have to fit the squid) and add the onion and garlic.
Let it cook at a low heat and stir some now and then until the onion is slightly translucent.
Now add the squid, stir a bit, add the tomato sauce and the ink previously diluted in water.
This will now have to be cooked at low heat for around an hour. The test to see if it's done is to taste one piece, the squid should be tender.
I like to serve it with rice, boiled the Spanish way, with salt and plenty of water as if it was pasta, then drained in a colander and cooled under cold water. To finish it, fry it in a pan where you've previously browned a couple of chopped garlic cloves.

Friday, 15 November 2013

Vanilla cupcakes

I was dreaming of some sweet nothing the other day and reached for my baking book, Cake Angels by Julia Thomas, going over my favourite recipes for a quick and easy one. Vanilla cupcakes it was, plishhh plashh plosh, done in no time!
I always leave out the frosting, too sweet for me.

Carluccio's Gluten Free Funghi Pasta

I was out and about this week and in need of dinner, so I decided to pop into Carluccio's at Waterloo Station. I remember from previous visits to other branches that the gluten free pasta was reasonable and I was looking forward to it. I have to take my hat off to Carluccio's, as his are one of the first gluten free pasta options I remember since going gluten free.
Unfortunately on this occasion, the pasta was not as good as I remembered, it was a bit hard, a bit cold, just nothing special.
The restaurant was very busy so maybe that was the reason, as my gluten eating companion was not too impressed with hers either. Hopefully this was just a one off.

Wednesday, 6 November 2013

Chickpea Stew - Cocido

Another winter warmer. I've eaten many cocidos in my life, but haven't tired of them yet, and it is a naturally gluten free dish, brilliant. I like to cook them in a pressure cooker as otherwise it takes forever, but I guess a slow cooker could be used too (not tested!)
Ingredients: 100 grams of chickpeas per person, 30 grams of chorizo per person, a piece of serrano ham (or serrano ham bone, or bacon), bay leave, salt, cabbage or spinach.
Instructions: soak the chickpeas in salty water overnight. They will double in size, so make sure the water is well above the chickpea level. When you are ready to cook them, drain the chickpeas and put them in the cooker, with enough fresh water to cover them and approx 1 inch more. Add the chorizo, a piece of serrano ham or a bone if you have it, this gives the dish a smoky, salty taste that is really nice and the bay leave. There is no need to add salt as the ham is salty. Better to adjust at the end if needed. Close the pressure cooker and cook on the meat setting for approx 30 minutes. If you are doing it in a normal pot, it will probably take approx 3 or 4 hours at low heat, it might be a good idea to check it now and then until the chickpeas are tender.
Once the chickpeas are cooked, you can add the greens to it. If using cabbage, shred it, boil it in a separate pot with a bit of salt and water and drain in a colander. Add a tsp of olive oil and some garlic chunks to the pot and when the garlic is slightly brown, add the cabbage and stir quickly. This can now be added to the chickpea pot or served on top.
If you are not too keen on cabbage or don't fancy spending much time on it, you can also add some washed baby spinach to the cooked chickpeas and boil for a few minutes, it's also very nice. Spoon ready!

Le Veneziane Tagliatelle, Molino di Ferro

I bought this tagliatelle at the Allergy Show in London last June. I always like to buy Italian pasta when I can, the flavour is much nicer. I was a bit doubtful as they are made from 100 corn and I was looking for more of a mix of flours but I didn't need to worry.
The flavour is awesome, eating this kind of pasta makes you forget about the gluten one. I'm just sorry I've now finished the packet, I'll have to wait for the next Allergy Show to get some more, more, more ...

Clearspring Organic Miso soup

When it's cold out there a soup is my thing, and when I don't have the time or the inclination to make one from scratch, Clearspring miso soup does the trick, just need to boil the kettle! Check out which variety you use though. The organic one with Sea Vegetables (in the pic) is gluten free, but the Mellow White one is not.
It also makes a nice lunch if you add a few things. Using two sachets and a bit more water, you can boil in it most kinds of vegetables for a few minutes. I like mushrooms, broccoli, red chilli and salad onions, all thinly sliced. I also like to add a shredded one egg omelette and a bunch of rice noodles, quick and tasty. You can also add some tamari sauce for seasoning.
I must say I've been known to do this soup with any leftover vegetables in the fridge, asparagus, spinach, baby corns, peppers, you name it. As long as it's all thinly sliced, it'll boil quickly. If you are after a more substantial meal, you can also add a boiled chicken breast (thin slices) and a few more noodles. Dinner is served!

Goody Good Stuff

I love these sweets! the sour mix is my favourite, but I tried the other flavours at the Allergy Show and they are equally yummy.
They are made with natural ingredients and no E numbers, they are vegetarian and free from many things, gelatine, fat, dairy, artificial colours and gluten.
I recently found them in Waitrose for around £1.50, and seem to be available through Amazon too. Great treat!

Thursday, 31 October 2013

Easy Paella

Not feeling up to much cooking yesterday, I made one of my last minute easy to make dinners. This is some basic rice that resembles paella in the flavours, as it has sweet paprika and saffron, but without the glamour of seafood.
Ingredients (for 2): 1 chicken breast, cut in cubes, 30 grams of chorizo cut in thin slices, 1 green pepper cut in chunks, a small cup of frozen peas, 180 grams of rice (more below), 500 ml of hot water, 1 tsp of olive oil, 1 tsp of sweet paprika (unsmoked), a few threads of saffron, salt to taste. The brand of rice I use is SOS, a Spanish brand, available in London at Garcia and Sons on Portobello road. Otherwise any risotto rice should do the job.
Instructions: In a pot put the olive oil until hot and then add the chicken, chorizo and pepper until slightly brown. Then add the rice and brown a little (1/2 mins should be enough), add the paprika and move until all the ingredients are slightly coated. Don't move the paprika for too long, otherwise it will burn and give the dish a funny taste. I like to add the saffron and salt to the hot water while everything else if being cooked. Add now the hot water, saffron, peas and salt. Without moving anything further, leave it to boil for 10 minutes at maximum heat, then another 10 at low heat. I keep some additional hot water nearby in case it's all getting a bit too dry. You should be able to see some of the liquid in the surface in the last 5 minutes, if not, add a little more water then. Now you can take it away from the heat, cover with a kitchen towel, and leave it to rest for 20 minutes if you can wait that long ;)

Tuesday, 29 October 2013

Orgran buckwheat mix

After the dissapointing pancake experience at My Old Dutch, I had a craving for pancakes. By chance I was passing by my local health store and decided to check out any available pancake mixes. I bought this one by Orgran, made from buckwheat. Contrary to what the name suggests, buckwheat is not related to wheat, but to sorrel, knotweed, and rhubarb (thanks Wikipedia!), so, safe to use in a gluten free diet. I followed the instructions from the pack and the first pancake was quite thick, so I added more liquid to get a consistency closer to crepes. Very nice, will buy again :)

Sunday, 27 October 2013

New Genius Crumpets

I received a sample of these crumpets to try, Thanks Genius! They look very nice and they toasted well in the toaster. The flavour is quite nice, very much like the gluten crumpets I remember. The texture could be a bit more spongy, but as with most things gluten free this is difficult to achieve. Overall I'd say they are nice enough to have some now and then for breakfast, specially with my new found gluten free chocolate spread from Anthony Worral Thompson, very nice ;)

Marinated Salmon

A great dinner that is naturally gluten free. This marinated salmon recipe is from the book The Hairy Dieters. The salmon is marinated for 30 minutes with ginger, garlic, soya sauce (Tamari for me thanks!), chilli and orange (juice and peel) and then baked in the oven. Add some rice and some broccoli and you have a delicious meal that is quick to make, gluten free, filling and low in calories. Great dinner option!

Tom Yum from Wagamama

I like Tom Yum from Wagamama. The flavours are quite gentle but still interesting. It is at the moment my favourite dish when I visit, as it is naturally gluten free. At Wagamamas they have two folders that are very helpful if you are on a restricted diet. The first one, their allergy information has all the allergens in every dish (gluten = cereal), and will tell you what to have as it is on the menu. The second folder has all the possible substitutions you can do to take away specific allergens. I personally really like the two dishes that are gluten free in the main menu, itame, which has lots of chilli and ginger, strong flavours in what looks like a curried noodle soup, and Tom Yum in the picture, with a similar consistency but with subtle flavours, for those days you want something gentle in your tummy. For starters, salted Edame is quite nice, as it is the chilli squid, so I alternate between the one and the other on my visits. I was very impressed in my last visit to the Wimbledon restaurant when I mentioned my food intolerance. Our server checked twice that the dish I wanted did not have gluten, when ordering and when serving, and the manager also came by to check too, very thorough ;)

Friday, 25 October 2013

Cupcakes from The Healthy Cook Company in Kingston

It was my Birthday this month and I got up on the day full of happy thoughts, waiting for nice surprises along the day, and the first one was these lovely cupcakes for breakfast! Someone from the Gluten Free London Club had recommended this bakery in Kingston. As I was telling my sister about it, she cunningly got online to check out the cakes available and as we talked about it she made her order. I was a very happy girl indeed, the chocolate and beetroot ones were my favourite, and she even asked them to make them with not too much icing as she knows I'm not too keen! Great way to start a day that was full of good times and memories to treasure ;)

Wednesday, 23 October 2013

Rasperry, Blueberry and Lime Drizze Cake

Oh yes!!! Another brilliant cake from the recipe book Cake Angels. I made this cake yesterday and I think it is the best so far from the book. The coffee and walnut recipe was my favourite beforehand, but this takes the crown! It was very moist, very berry and very drizzled ... In this cut, it even managed to get a little heart bubble. Of course it was made with a lot of love. I took it to my knitting group and everyone wanted to try it so there wasn't enough for a second picture or a second round. Will have to do it again ;)

Wednesday, 16 October 2013

Genius Multiseed Loaf - gluten, wheat and dairy free

On the same visit to a large Tesco I found my favourite supermarket bread. I know it doesn't taste like the home baked one, but I haven't managed yet to get a decent loaf out of my many experiments, so for now, I have to make do with what is available in the supermarkets. I like the flavour, not too bland and with lots of seeds. It's a bit of a delicate bread, as it tends to break quite easily, so you have to be careful not to squash it, or you won't get a complete slice out of the packet. Not that I'm talking by personal experience... ahem. It costs £3 for a 560 grams loaf. Unfortunately it is not available in my local Sainsburys, so it's one of those things I dream about when I write my gluten free wish list.

Newburn Bakehouse Gluten Free and Wheat Free Wraps

I came across this pack of wraps on a recent trip to a large Tesco. Now, I normally shop in a small Sainsburys so for me it was quite an experience. Soooo much gluten free choice, I was like a kid in a sweet shop! The presentation is quite good, 3 wraps ready to eat that are packed in a resealable bag to keep them fresh. Not cheap at £3.10 but a great addition to my lunch choices. You can eat them like a pizza by adding the topping of your choice and baking for 8-10 minutes, roll it with your favourite filling and eat just like that or put them under the grill to eat like a toastie. Not bad!

Monday, 14 October 2013

Gluten Free Pancakes at My Old Dutch, Oh Dear!

I went to My Old Dutch yesterday with the Gluten Free London Club. I was looking forward to some pancakes as I haven't been able to make any gluten free and dairy free myself that tasted ok. I ordered the Amsterdammer, with bacon, apple and maple syrup and it was delicious. The pancake was moist and sweet and the toppings complemented each other brilliantly. I would definitely recommend (see update below) a visit to any flourless eaters out there, but make sure you call in advance to let them know you'll be eating gluten free. We were a group of 10 and only managed to get 6 GF pancakes, thankfully there were 3 gluten eating people in the group, and we all donated a bit to the 7th GF eater. Sadly we didn't get a chance to eat dessert, which we were all looking forward to.
UPDATE: oh dear, I thought it was just me, but of the 7 we went, at least 5 of us have been sick afterwards... Another member went a week later and also got sick... Not good, not going back.

Tuesday, 8 October 2013

Hummingbird Cake

Since going Gluten Free 18 months ago, a few things have been a battle, and one of them has been sweet treats. I've always enjoyed cooking, so main meals have never been a problem, but, I have never been a baker, so when I went gluten free I turned to supermarkets for my sweet fix ... Not a great idea. After a lot of tantrums and being a total pain to my friends and family I got for my Birthday last year a book that has changed my GF life. It is "Cake Angels" by Julia Thomas, all gluten, wheat and dairy free cake recipes. The instructions are easy to follow and there are pictures for most recipes and so I've managed to get a few decent cakes, success! Now that baking is no longer a nightmare I decided to bake the Hummingbird Cake for my sister's Birthday. It meets her dairy free and my gluten free requirements so we are both happy.
The look is impressive, with those coconut flakes over the meringue frosting. The taste is very good and moist, with it's pineapple, pecans, bananas and cinnamon, very tasty. Would I do it again? Probably. I would definitely use the frosting for other cakes, but use almond flakes instead of coconut ones. My meringue frosting was a bit gritty, so next time I'll make a syrup with the sugar and water before mixing in the egg white. The cake itself would be more appropiate for an afternoon tea. Next Birthday cake I make i'll do something more towards a Victoria Sponge. Overall, sister has enjoyed it and I have too ;)

Saturday, 5 October 2013


Hello flourless people! Are you avoiding flour, bread, soya sauce and all those other nasties that have gluten in it? If you are, I might be able to help. I have been following a gluten free (and mostly dairy free) life for a year now, and it took a while to adjust. Worst nasties: flour, pasta, pizza, cakes, soya sauce, Worcester sauce, malt vinegar and all the hidden ingredients that I find difficult to identify. Best friends: GF flour (& pasta & pizza & bread), quinoa, polenta, Tamari sauce, Sweet Mandarin chilli sauce, the Allergy Show, nice GF blogs that make me laugh.