Welcome to my blog, through which I hope to be able to share my experiences of gluten free cooking, baking, experimenting and eating.
When my daughter was diagnosed (age 6) with Coeliac Disease, our world of eating changed overnight. From breads, pastry and pasta to cakes, biscuits and puddings.......... suddenly most of what we knew was 'off the menu'. I think I must have tested every available gluten free product on the market, seeking out replacements to try and keep things as normal as possible. I was disappointed to find that what was available was often dry, crumbly and flavourless.
Not one to shy away from a challenge, I decided to turn my kitchen into a laboratory, turn all I knew about cooking on its head and start creating!

Thursday, 8 December 2016

Delicious Alchemy have launched a new gluten free BERRY Granola! Yum!


Spread the word...... Delicious Alchemy have just launched a new granola......... and it's real good!

Made with delicious gluten free oat clusters, it is naturally sweetened with grape juice and honey and is sprinkled with a selection of bright fruity freeze-dried berries (cranberries, strawberries and blueberries) and nutritious sunflower and pumpkin seeds.


I have to admit that both myself and Miss GF are very picky about our granola and since being gluten free, it has been really hard to find brands which compare well to those we had when we were still able to eat gluten. So when Delicious Alchemy brought out their Nutty Granola back in the summer, we were really excited. It compared more than favourably to the better gluten versions and we have been firm fans ever since. I appreciate that not all Coeliac sufferers are able to eat oats (even gluten free ones), because a few react to avenin, a protein which is similar to gluten. But if you can eat them, they are a fantastic nutrient source and full of soluble fibre, which supports the maintenance of a healthy gut, as well as helping to treat high cholesterol and keeping blood sugar levels stable.

Lucky for us, we can eat them and make sure we include plenty in our diet, whether in baking or smoothies or as breakfast in porridge, or delicious oat granola.


This new Wonderfully Berry Granola is the latest addition to Delicious Alchemy's breakfast range and I suspect could be about to challenge the nutty version for space in the larder. Although I think the ratio of berries in the mix could have been a little more generous (I have a huge love of freeze-dried fruit), this is compensated for by the earthy hit of pumpkin and sunflower seeds which add an amazing and unexpected contrast of flavour and texture to the mix.

A bowl of this granola is perfect doused with the usually expected milk or yoghurt, but I have also taken to scoffing handfuls 'neat'..... straight out the bag for a quick slow-release energy fix during the day. If you are anything like me though, you may also find yourself seeking breakfast on the run on way too many mornings of the week..... Keep a bag of yummy granola in the car and it will not only ensure you don't miss out on the 'most important meal of the day', but will brighten up the worst of rush hour traffic jams. Who cares if you end up with crumbs on the dash board, at least you will be happy with a satisfied tum!


However you enjoy it, this bag of goodness is definitely worth a try. You can get it currently on line through the Delicious Alchemy website (retailing at £3.00 for a 312g bag), but I have no doubt that it will be appearing alongside other DA products in the supermarkets very soon.

I am sharing this latest find with the following linkies to help get the word out :

Free From Fridays with the Free From Farmhouse and Le Coin De Mel

Brilliant Blog Posts with Honest Mum



With thanks to Delicious Alchemy for sending me their Wonderfully Berry Granola to try.  I was not paid to write the post and as always, all views expressed here are my own.

Gluten Free Alchemist © 2013-16 unless otherwise indicated

Sunday, 4 December 2016

Gingerbread Stuffing - a Nigella Recipe de-glutened


A couple of posts back I made an amazing gluten free Jamaican Ginger Cake....... sticky, warming and delicious. If you read the post, you will know that I developed the recipe for a colleague of mine who was looking for a gluten free version to use in gingerbread stuffing. Every year she makes the stuffing using a Nigella Lawson recipe, but as her mum is gluten free, she misses out. So the challenge was on for me to make it an inclusive Christmas for a fellow gluten-avoider......

The ginger cake was the first stage of the process, but I also needed to make the stuffing....... to both taste it (because it sounded amazing) and to test the cake worked for it (although I really have no idea how it is meant to taste, having never eaten it before).

So without any excessive rambling (rare for me I know....) here it is..... the de-glutened Nigella Gingerbread Stuffing...... and it tastes good!

I made half the amount of the original recipe and still there seemed to be masses of the stuff. I guess if you have a huge family and loads of visitors for Christmas, you may want to do twice the amount shown here, but a little goes quite a long way.


The stuffing itself is really meaty with the bacon, but for me it was also quite sweet and I think that next time I make it (and there will definitely be a next time) I will add a little less cake.

I also think that I probably over-mixed before I tipped the stuffing into the pan to bake, because mine seemed a little smooth compared to the Nigella gluten version. The original recipe adds the cake and then the egg to bind...... I don't think the fact that the cake had no gluten would have made much of a difference, but I should have been more gentle in folding the cake in, rather than stirring. I have also switched the recipe below slightly to add the cake last to cut down the risk of over mixing.

Not that any of this affected how good it tasted....... and whilst we trialled it without the turkey, I was more than able to imagine how amazing it would be alongside the Christmas bird and all the other trimmings (which of course will also temper the sweetness).

And if you are thinking about Boxing Day breakfast already..... this stuffing makes a fantastic sandwich (I checked!) and will be twice as good with a slice of turkey and a sausage added for good measure.


I am sharing my de-glutened version of Gingerbread Stuffing with the following linkies :

Cook Once Eat Twice with Searching for Spice

Free From Fridays with Le Coin De Mel & Free From Farmhouse








Cook Blog Share with Easy Peasy Foodie

#TheFoodCalendar with Charlotte's Lively Kitchen - Celebrating Christmas Dinner and Boxing Day breakfast






Recipe of the Week with A Mummy Too

Sunday Fitness & Food with Ilka's Blog and Marathons & Motivation


Gingerbread Stuffing : a Nigella Recipe de-glutened

Ingredients 

2 medium onions (I used 1 white and 1 red) - finely chopped
1 eating apple (I used Cox) - finely chopped
20g unsalted butter
½ tablespoon sunflower oil
375g streaky bacon - finely chopped
1 clementine - finely grated zest only
1 large egg - beaten
large pinch freshly ground black pepper
400g gluten free ginger cake (find my recipe here) - loosely crumbled (mental note to self : use slightly less next time)

Method 

  1. Generously grease a small baking dish/2 pound loaf tin with butter, or completely line a 2 pound loaf tin with baking paper.
  2. Put the oil and butter in a large skillet/saucepan and fry the onions and apples until soft (10 to 15 minutes).
  3. Add the chopped bacon and cook for at least 5 minutes, stirring frequently.
  4. Add the clementine zest and stir through.
  5. Remove the pan from the heat and cool a little (stirring occasionally to help cool more quickly).
  6. Meanwhile, pre-heat the oven to 200 C/400 F/Gas 6.
  7. When cool enough, add the beaten egg and pepper and stir through.
  8. Finally add the crumbled ginger cake and fold in gently.
  9. Tip the mixture into the prepared baking dish and push into the corners. Bake for about 50 minutes (covering with foil for the first 30 minutes to prevent the top from burning), until golden brown and crisp on top.
  10. Leave to cool in the dish/tin for 10 to 15 minutes before tipping out (or serve straight from the dish)
Gluten Free Alchemist © 2013-16 unless otherwise indicated

Thursday, 1 December 2016

Tis the Season of Parties, Buffets and Social Gatherings. Be Safer! Use Allergen Labels


The Christmas party season has arrived and for those of us who suffer with allergies and intolerances, so has a time of potential danger and lots and lots of feeling left out. Whether you are a party-goer or a party-pooper, you can pretty much guarantee that at some point over the Christmas period you will meet up with friends at a social event which will (almost without fail), include the offering of shared food.


If you are one of those lucky people who can eat anything without fear of being allergy or intolerance-ill, then I would like you to imagine for just a minute...........

You've spent hours getting ready for the party of the winter..... You look fantastic. You're really excited and ready to enjoy yourself with family and friends. You ran out of time though and didn't get a chance to eat anything before you left home and now you realise that you've forgotten to put the necessary snack in your bag in case there's nothing you can eat when you get there. That's ok..... your host knows that you can't eat gluten/dairy/eggs/nuts (etc) so they'll have made sure there is something for you right? Wrong!

You arrive at the party, stomach rumbling and make a bee-line for the buffet table to do a quick scan and to make sure you grab what you can before everyone else eats it...... but there's nothing safe. Nothing! Either the food is obviously made with stuff you can't consume, or it is sitting right next to a plate of something that is dangerous to you and you know that close proximity = risk of cross contamination.


Hey ho...... another evening of avoiding a tipple (because on an empty stomach you are likely to get inebriated and embarrassing within a sniff of the stuff). You could just nip out to get something edible...... but that would look rude! All that initial excitement about being there has evaporated and you start to feel miserable and increasingly empty as you watch everyone else mingling plate and glass in hand.....


UK statistics indicate that 1 in 5 (17%) of the UK population consider themselves to have either a food allergy or intolerance (YouGov 2015). 6 to 8% of children have a proven food allergy in both the UK and US (source : NICE and FARE*). Estimates indicate that overall, 15 million Americans and more than 17 million Europeans (sources : FARE* & European Academy of Allergy & Clinical Immunology(EAACI)) have food allergies and the trend is going upwards! So it's pretty likely that someone will turn up to your party who needs to know what's in the buffet.

Whether we suffer from an allergy or intolerance, it's scary eating from a table where allergen exposure or cross-contamination might be a hazard. Most of us simply don't take the risk. It's not that there won't be anything we might eat..... it is that we simply don't know what ingredients have been used or how great the cross-contamination risk might actually be (......has the generic bread knife been used to slice gluten free rolls without being washed? for example). I recently went to a work event where someone offered me a chocolate biscuit. When I explained that I couldn't eat it because of the gluten, they looked bemused and suggested that I could lick the chocolate off...... really..... I'm not kidding. I'm obviously not the only one with this experience.....


It helps us to know what's in the food on the table and that is where you can help us...... by doing everything you can to keep the most risky foods separated and clearly labelling the allergens dishes contain. You might even (space permitting) have a separate table for specific allergen-friendly foods (those of us who need them are pretty careful to make sure we don't contaminate each other by slap-dash serving).


To make it a little easier for you, Consumer Safety .Org (a US-based website which aims to support consumer safety through information and research on products, recalls, medicines and food, including food hygiene, kitchen safety and information on allergies) has produced a quick set of holiday allergen labels that you can print off at home and use on your food table.

In the past I have hand-written labels when I have taken cakes, pies and other goodies to events, but these labels are so much more attractive and clear.... I love them!


For bring and share events, you might even put the word out for people to be ready when they arrive with their delicious offerings to fill in a label..... they are pretty simple to use.  You can download a handy printable template of allergy labels here.

It also helps us to know how things have been prepared (note the handy section on the label telling us who might have the answers), so don't be offended if we still need to ask more questions about ingredients and food prep. The presence of the label is a great indicator that people care and have thought about it and will make us feel a whole lot more comfortable about asking if we need to. Occasionally, we may still make a 'not sure I can risk eating this dish' decision, but that won't be because we don't appreciate your efforts..... I promise! We just know how complex the risks can be and they will vary from person to person.  Miss GF once got glutened by well-meaning kitchen staff who 'reliably' informed her that the flap-jacks were fine because they were just oats..... sadly they weren't certified 'gluten free'!


So thank you for thinking about us this holiday season and for your care, support and kindness, not only in inviting us to your fantastic Christmas - New Year bash, but for helping us to stay food-safe too.

I am sharing this post with the following linkies :

Brilliant Blog Posts with Honest Mum

Free From Fridays with Le Coin De Mel and the Free From Farmhouse 



Allergy Free Thursday with Tessa the Domestic Diva


Gluten Free Fridays with Vegetarian Mamma










Sources :
Allergy UK Stats
FARE  - Food Allergy Research & Education (US based)
NICE - National Institute for Health & Clinical Excellence

Consumer Safety .Org contacted me to raise awareness in support of the use of allergy labels over the holiday season. All thoughts as written however are, as always, my own.

Gluten Free Alchemist © 2013-16 unless otherwise indicated

Friday, 25 November 2016

Raw Chocolate-Raspberry 'Fudge' (adapted from a recipe by the Free From Fairy) - gluten, dairy, refined sugar, soya free and vegan


For those of you who follow Vicki's blog over at the Free From Fairy, you may (like me) have drooled over the Sugar-Free Raw Chocolate Fudge that she recently made. Vicki is amazingly talented and seems to have the ability to conjure up the most amazing recipes with ingredients which are multi allergen-friendly and yet still taste fantastic and are good for you too.

I was particularly taken with this raw fudge recipe as it offered a sweet treat without any guilt and could be something I could keep in the fridge for a quick bite when I needed a cocoa hit..... without reaching for the calorie and sugar-laden chocolate bars. It was also really simple to whip up without too much faff....

When I saw it, I immediately imagined the amazing potential in adding freeze-dried raspberries to the mix, both to add a complementary fruity sharpness and a contrasting colour. I love using freeze dried fruit in my bakes and cooking and always make sure I keep various freeze-dried fruits to hand in my larder. Because I use so much, I don't generally buy from the supermarket, but seek out the larger packs and wider variety from on-line retailers like Healthy Supplies.


Having sown the seed for adapting Vicki's recipe slightly to make a Raw Chocolate-Raspberry Fudge, I had to give it a try and (as is regularly the case in our house) I found the required over-ripe banana hanging around looking sorry for itself in the fruit bowl, hoping to be given a better future. Lucky day banana! You're heading for the mixing bowl!

I have only slightly altered Vicki's recipe, but in addition to the raspberries, did include a tablespoon of maple syrup as the mix tasted a little too bitter for us. I felt that it was a justifiable change..... and as maple syrup is actually a pretty healthy and very natural sugar source, was comfortable that it did not obliterate Vicki's intentions towards being a 'good' treat.

The test would of course be whether it would be acceptable to Miss GF's sweet tooth...... If she liked it, then I reckon you could sneak it past most hardened sugar-addicts. In the event, she seemed quite taken with it...... I think it helped that her favourite other blogger Vicki had invented it, but she came back for more than one piece, which is an indicator of high praise.


I really enjoyed it too! It has a smooth texture, flavoured with deep cacao notes, set against a strong hint of banana and interspersed with tangy berry. When you pop a piece into your mouth, there is a happy sense of decadence mixed with virtuosity...... and that feels like a good place to be!

Providing you store it in the fridge, it will last for a few days without deterioration, but as the recipe doesn't make a massive amount and it is quite moreish, you can be sure that it won't stay around long enough to go 'off'.

So thank you Vicki! I hope you don't mind that I have played around with your mastery or that I have blogged my variation!


I am sending this FFF-GFA Raw Chocolate-Raspberry Fudge off to the following linkies to share some healthy cacao love :

No Waste Food Challenge with Elizabeth's Kitchen Diary, on account of the recipe managing to find a timely purpose for my over-ripe banana. I seem to be having a bit of a 'take-over' on the No Waste Food Challenge this month. I think this is my fourth entry..... sorry Elizabeth.

Recipe of the Week with A Mummy Too


Free From Fridays with the Free From Farmhouse (and Le Coin De Mel)

Gluten Free Fridays with Vegetarian Mamma






Treat Petite with Cakeyboi and The Baking Explorer

We Should Cocoa with Tin & Thyme







Cook Blog Share with Hijacked by Twins


Raw Chocolate-Raspberry 'Fudge' (adapted from a recipe by Vicki Montague - Free From Fairy)

Ingredients (makes approx 15 pieces)

110g raw cashew nuts
85g extra-ripe banana - cut into pieces
25g cacao powder
50g coconut oil - melted
pinch salt
1 tablespoon maple syrup
10g freeze dried raspberries - lightly crushed 
(+ extra whole freeze-dried raspberries for decoration - optional)

Method

  1. Blend the cashew nuts and banana together until you have a smooth paste.
  2. Add the cacao powder, coconut oil, salt and maple syrup and blend again until evenly blended.
  3. Transfer the chocolate paste to a bowl and add and stir through the raspberry pieces.
  4. Line a small bread tin with cling film and transfer the mixture, smoothing the top as carefully as you can.
  5. Chill the 'fudge' for 1 to 2 hours until completely set.
  6. Remove from the tin and cut into pieces. 
  7. Top each piece with a freeze-dried raspberry (optional) and store in the fridge.
Gluten Free Alchemist © 2013-16 unless otherwise indicated

Sunday, 20 November 2016

Jamaican Ginger Cake - gluten free


We love ginger at GFHQ and with the rapidly cooling Autumn temperatures, it is the perfect time of year to use it. Miss GF has already put in her order for a batch of crisp, warming Christmas Ginger Biscuits and there are a couple of jars of Brown-Sugared Pear & Ginger Preserve maturing in the larder. I'm getting excited about plans for another Christmassy Gingerbread House, complete with glittery, snowy gardens and you can be sure I will be adding a good hit of the ginger stuff to this year's seasonal home-made Fruity Mincemeat. But this winter, we have a new addition to the GF ginger hall of fame....... Jamaican Ginger Cake.


The plan to develop this recipe came from a chance conversation with a work colleague, who was telling me that every year at Christmas, she gets demands to make a family favourite to go with Christmas dinner..... Nigella Lawson's Gingerbread Stuffing. I have never made it myself and was not aware of its existence until now, but it does look mighty good!

Unfortunately, my colleague's mother is unable to enjoy the annual gingerbread stuffing feast with the rest of the family as she happens to be gluten free..... But if I could possibly find my way to working out how to make a gluten free Jamaican Ginger Cake (which is crucial to the stuffing recipe)..... then my colleague may just become the 'best daughter in the world'....


Regular followers of my blog will know that waving a gluten free culinary challenge in my face is something I simply cannot ever refuse, especially when it comes from someone I know.... and once a decision is made to try, I have to keep going until I have not only achieved, but achieved to a high standard. Expectations raised, the Jamaican Ginger Cake chase was on.

Most of us will know of Jamaican Ginger Cake from the packet version made by McVitie's. It was a childhood favourite..... the dark sponge and sticky texture was both unique and quite addictive to eat. Having done some internet research, I have been completely unable to find anything that tells me about its history. I can only assume that it originated in Jamaica, but it now seems to be popular in every part of the world. If anyone knows anything about where the story started, please let me know.....


Either way, having tweaked and tested this recipe a few times, I am really pleased with my gluten free result. The warming ginger kick, treacly stickiness and mysterious comforting darkness of the sponge is extremely close to my (albeit increasingly distant) memories of cakes past.... I am happy that my gluten free Jamaican Ginger Cake is a pretty good comparison. It tastes fantastic on its own, with custard, with ice cream and even with butter (which is how I remember it best). I just hope it does its job with the stuffing...... which I now have every intention of trying.

Best of all..... Miss GF has been able to try another one of my childhood cake-memories! And just like her mother....... her favourite way to eat it is smothered in a layer of creamy, rich, natural butter.....


I am sharing my gluten free Jamaican Ginger Cake with the following linkies :

Free From Fridays with Le Coin de Mel and the Free From Farmhouse.

Tea Time Treats with Lavender & Lovage, Travels for Taste and Jo's Kitchen. Jamaican Ginger Cake has to be one of the most warming comforting cakes there is, so is a perfect share for this month's theme : Comfort Food.


Sunday Fitness & Food with Ilka's Blog and Marathons & Motivation.

Cook Blog Share with Sneaky Veg.




Gluten Free Fridays with Vegetarian Mamma.

Brilliant Blog Posts with Honest Mum.






Inheritance Recipes with Coffee & Vanilla and Pebble Soup.

Recipe of the Week with A Mummy Too.








Bake of the Week with Mummy Mishaps and Casa Costello










Other gluten free ginger recipes on the Gluten Free Alchemist blog :

Ginger Biscuits
Brown-Sugared Pear & Ginger Preserve
Gingerbread House
Banana, Apple, Walnut & Ginger Bread
Apricot, Ginger & White Chocolate Cookies
Double Chocolate Cupcakes with a hint of Ginger
Gingerbread Stars & People


Jamaican Ginger Cake - gluten free/optional dairy free (makes one 2 pound loaf)


Ingredients

240g plain gluten free flour blend (I used blend A from this post)
70g sorghum flour
40g ground almonds
1 teaspoon xanthan gum
1 teaspoon bicarbonate of soda
½ teaspoon GF baking powder
1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1 heaped tablespoon ground ginger
½ teaspoon fine sea salt
125g unsalted butter - cold and cubed (or dairy free alternative)
200g soft light brown sugar
120g black liquid treacle (molasses)
60g golden syrup
1 large egg - lightly beaten
170g boiling water

Method

  1. Completely line a 2 pound loaf tin with baking paper (base and sides).
  2. Pre-heat the oven to 170 C/325 F/Gas 3.
  3. Weigh and mix together the flours, almonds, xanthan gum, bicarbonate of soda, baking powder, spices and salt in a large bowl.
  4. Rub the butter into the flour mix until it resembles fine breadcrumbs.
  5. Add the brown sugar and stir through.
  6. Add the treacle, golden syrup and beaten egg and lightly mix into the flour.
  7. Add the boiling water and beat thoroughly with a silicone or wooden spoon until you have a smooth, sticky, well-blended batter.
  8. Spoon or pour the batter into the loaf tin and gently push into the corners and smooth the top.
  9. Bake for 1 hour until well-risen and a skewer comes out clean. If you use smaller loaf tins, adjust the baking time to about 30 to 40 minutes).
  10. When baked, remove from the oven and allow to cool completely in the tin.
  11. When cold, remove and store wrapped in clingfilm (you can leave the baking paper intact) until ready to eat. 
Gluten Free Alchemist © 2013-16 unless otherwise indicated