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!

Wednesday, 29 June 2016

Quinoa Breakfast Bowl - Quick, Simple & Delicious (gluten free, dairy free, soya free, vegan, refined sugar free)


On my recent trip to the States, I strangely (for me) had little interest in scoffing much in the way of chocolate and sugary stuff. For gluten avoiders however, the States is a perfect destination. The general interest and following of a whole range of 'health-driven' diets and the closeness to Mexico, means that you can always find gluten free menu options, or corn-based tortillas to feast on. A visit to the supermarket becomes a very exciting prospect...... I nearly over-topped the scales at check-in on my return journey with a suitcase stuffed full of soft white corn tortillas, Maseca (instant white corn) flour, and a whole variety of gluten free crackers, pretzels and cookies that I brought back for Miss GF to try.

Whatever the reasons for travelling abroad, for me, it is always an opportunity to discover new foods and to experience new ways to prepare, serve and eat already familiar ingredients. Sometimes, the least expected menu choices become the ones that top the 'must try and make when I get home' list. This is one such dish.


Our US journey took us to Utah and a town called Moab, which is the gateway to the popular national parks of Canyonlands and Arches. If you ever find yourself down that way, make absolutely sure to go there to see the amazing geographical wonders that nature has created.

Sight-seeing aside, you can also find some great healthy food. On recommendation, we ate a couple of meals (lunch and breakfast) at the Peace Tree Juice Cafe in Moab, which serves great nutritional, tasty and organic foods. Lunch consisted of a wonderful Apple, Walnut, Goats Cheese and Cranberry Salad...... But it was the breakfast which really bowled me over, not only for its natural simplicity of ingredients, but for its interesting combination of textures, flavours, colours, and its nourishment and ability to sustain me for hours.


So I share with you my (slightly more elaborate and amended version) of the Quinoa Breakfast Bowl, which I confess I have also eaten as lunch too on occasion since I got back.

The beauty of this dish, is that it requires very little preparation, so can be mixed together at the drop of a hat. If you pre-prepare your quinoa by cooking (without any seasoning, salt or sugar) and 'bulk'- storing in the fridge. you can have this prepped in 5 minutes (or less) in the morning. It is simply a case of adding dried fruit and nuts, a little coconut palm (or brown) sugar, honey or healthy natural sweetener of choice and then topping with some almond, coconut or alternative milk. Serve with hot or cold quinoa and milk..... the choice is yours!


For my bowl, I have picked fruit and nuts for their amazing vibrant, natural colours and complementary flavours. The original bowl that I had in Utah, used cranberries and walnuts. I have added blueberries and Iranian pistachios. I have also supplemented the brown sugar that was served at the Peace Tree for coconut palm sugar to ensure maximum unrefinement and an extra deep caramel flavour against the fruit and nuts.

I have tried the bowl with almond milk as well as coconut milk and also both hot and cold..... either way is great..... It's just a matter of personal preference. And you can pick or choose your fruit and nuts as the mood takes you too..... The fruit adds additional chewy character as well as natural colour, sweetness and a little contrasting tartness. The nuts will guarantee crunch and extra body and depending on your choice, a diversity of flavour including a hint of bitterness to compliment the caramel notes mingling from the coconut palm sugar.


Either way, this is a dish packed full of good stuff and full of slow-release energy to set you up for the day ahead.

Quinoa (pronounced 'keen-wa') originates as an ancient South American staple which has grown massively in popularity in recent years (particularly in gluten free, vegetarian and health-aware circles), for its high protein content, as well as being a great source of slow-releasing carbohydrate (and therefore low-GI), fibre, calcium and other essential nutrients. It is a complete protein, containing all nine essential amino acids and contains high levels of anti-inflammatory phytonutrients which may be potentially beneficial in the prevention and treatment of disease. And if that isn't enough, when cooked, it has a great texture and flavour and is amazingly versatile as an alternative to rice, couscous, bulgar wheat and ground as a gluten-free flour source.


If you use coconut or almond milk, this bowl is almost as virtuous as they come...... In addition to being gluten free, it is also dairy free, soya free, vegan and refined sugar free.

I am sharing this delicious Quinoa Breakfast Bowl with the following linkies :


Meat Free Mondays with Tinned Tomatoes.

Free From Fridays with the Free From Farmhouse.










Gluten Free Fridays with Vegetarian Mamma.

Cook Blog Share with Sneaky Veg.







Tasty Tuesdays with Honest Mum.

Sunday Fitness & Food with Ilkas Blog (and Marathons & Motivation).


Recipe of the Week with A Mummy Too






Quinoa Breakfast Bowl (serve hot or cold)

Ingredients

cooked plain (unsalted) quinoa - hot or cold
handful dried cranberries
handful dried blueberries
handful walnuts (halved/rough chopped)
sprinkle Iranian pistachios
coconut palm sugar
coconut or almond milk - hot or cold

Method

  1. Measure a portion of hot or cold quinoa into a bowl. 
  2. Add some dried fruit, nuts and coconut palm sugar to taste and fold through. 
  3. Pour over some (hot or cold) coconut or almond milk.
  4. Add more fruit, nuts, sugar and milk to taste on top as you wish.
  5. Enjoy!
Gluten Free Alchemist © 2013-16 unless otherwise indicated

Saturday, 25 June 2016

New Gluten Free Wonderfully Nutty Granola from Delicious Alchemy


There's a new gluten free breakfast kid on the block..... Delicious Alchemy have launched their Wonderfully Nutty Granola to fill your breakfast bowl and get you ready for the day ahead.

I've tested a fair few Delicious Alchemy products before now (check out some of the links below) and I have been pretty impressed with the quality of each and every one. But this granola stands out as being particularly yummy.


I'll be honest..... although Mr GF eats it every morning without fail, I am not generally a granola for breakfast sort of girl (lunch or late snack is more granola hour in my head). This Wonderfully Nutty bag though is going to be a different matter...... Mr GF has no chance of snaffling it into his bowl...... In fact it's so yummy, he's going to have to wrestle me to get near it. It's gluten free and it's MINE (although Miss GF can share if she's very very good...)!

I like my granola to be chock-full of tasty extras, but most gluten free granola's I've tried have been pretty nondescript.  Overpriced style over substance with way too little fruit or nuts and too much sawdusty, often gritty 'filler'.


Not this bag! I am truly impressed with how much good stuff they have packed in. The first and every spoon after is loaded with crunchy nuts, seeds and chewy sweet unadulterated fruit, in amongst clusters of gluten free oats, leaving you feeling happy as well as satisfied.

The Delicious Alchemy team describe their new breakfast as "a blissful bowl of honey-toasted gluten free oats, almonds, hazelnuts, sunflower seeds, pumpkin seeds and raisins"..... high fibre and full of vitamins and minerals. It's a good description.... blissful indeed.


And if you have any worries about whether the oats are truly GF-friendly, rest assured that Delicious Alchemy use only their own specifically sourced oats, grown by farmers they know well and work closely with to ensure they are as safe as possible. At every stage of the process, from growing, harvesting and milling to reaching their final package, the oats are tracked and the process is controlled, to make sure as best they can, that they are free from risk.

I love too that the granola is only sweetened with natural honey and grape juice, which makes it taste extra virtuous and even more delicious. When you load your spoon, you know you are delivering a tasty shot of great nutrition and energy filled goodness.


If you want to get your hands on a bag of this Wonderfully Nutty Granola, you will find it in selected Sainsbury's stores or direct from Delicious Alchemy retailing at £3 (for 312g). Whilst slightly more expensive than non-glutenfree higher-end granola, it compares favourably on price with other gluten free brands and for quality, is up there with the best.

Delicious Alchemy have also offered free delivery if you order your granola direct from them for my readers until July 31st 2016 (UK mainland)  using the following code : GFADA16

So thanks guys...... looking forward to seeing what will be added next to the product line up.....


I am linking this lovely granola to Free From Fridays with Emma at the Free From Farmhouse to get the message out there.


Other Delicious Alchemy products tried and tested on The Gluten Free Alchemist :

Walnut & Sultana Rolls using Delicious Alchemy's Brown Bread Mix

Vanilla-Blueberry Cake with Meringue Cream using the Vanilla Sponge Mix

Oat, Peanut & Chocolate Chip Cookies using Delicious Alchemy Oat Cookie Mix

Chocolate-Peanut Butter Cup Brownies with Whipped Peanut Butter Mousse made using Delicious Alchemy Brownie Mix

Christmas Cake using their Christmas Fruit Cake Mix

With thanks to Delicious Alchemy for sending me their Wonderfully Nutty 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

Wednesday, 22 June 2016

Miss GF Makes #4 - Ice Cream Cone 'welcome home' Cupcakes with Mocha Frosting (gluten free)


How impressive are these for a 10 year old baker? Miss GF is making great progress. With the complete trust of a child, she will (it seems) grab any book off the shelf and (regardless of whether she has ever heard of or used the ingredients previously) and will make whatever she likes the look of. Good for you Miss GF.... I'm so proud of your kitchen adventures (and fearlessness)!

She made these amazing Cone Cupcakes to welcome me home from my recent trip to the States. It was the first time I had been away from her for more than one night and although I think we probably all benefitted from some time away from each other asserting a little individual independence, I was quite relieved (in a selfish sort of a way) that my absence was felt and I was actually missed.


Miss GF found the main sponge recipe and the idea to bake it in cones (gluten free of course) in a book by Elana Amsterdam ('Gluten Free Cupcakes'), which uses lots of healthier ingredients...... coconut and almond flour, unrefined sugars and dairy free alternatives.

I am reliably told by Mr GF that our very clever little baker insisted on doing all the preparation and baking on her own, with Mr GF being banished from the kitchen. His principle support role was to ferry her to the supermarket to source the ingredients which she couldn't immediately find in the cupboard and to clear up the mess once she'd finished (breathes a sigh of relief that the second task fell to someone other than me on this occasion)....


I think she has surpassed herself. She managed to work from a recipe that used unfamiliar US cup measurements and she even remembered to take eggs from the fridge well in advance and allow them to come to room temperature before mixing!

Miss GF's frosting was (in typical Miss GF style) somewhat unconventional in it's production..... She tells me that she did not use a recipe and instead chose to make it up as she went along...... apparently 'rubbing' the icing sugar and cocoa into the butter until it became a sort of icing ball to which she added and finger kneaded the coffee to get a soft pipeable mocha frosting.....


Actually.... it tasted great..... A perfect balance of chocolate and coffee, which was not excessively sweet. I have however chosen to offer you a fairly standard bowl & spoon frosting method below as I figure that 'kneading' frosting is a tad random and beyond requirements! Still..... Miss GF certainly shows ingenuity and willingness to experiment.....

And what of the Cone Cakes? They are absolutely delicious! Made with coconut flour and agave nectar, they are shockingly healthy sponge-wise, but also beautifully moist and perfectly textured. The sponge is free of gluten, dairy, grains, nuts, soy and refined sugar....... Perfect for a whole bunch of avoidances, and you can always top with a dairy and refined sugar free frosting for the full intolerance-busting package.


Miss GF's choice of mocha topping was spot on and paired really well with the flavours beneath........ She has recently developed a bit of a liking for coffee (should I be worried?), but if you prefer, you could use plain chocolate frosting or even a fruity alternative.


I am sharing Miss GF's amazing Cone Cupcakes with the following :


Treat Petite - This month with Cakeyboi (and as always, The Baking Explorer). June's theme is 'Fit for a Queen'. I think these would look fab at any garden party and I certainly felt like a queen when Miss GF presented them to me!





Recipe of the Week with A Mummy Too.



Cook Blog Share - this week with Hijacked by Twins.





Free From Fridays with the Free From Farmhouse.


Gluten Free Fridays with Vegetarian Mamma.







Ice Cream Cone Cupcakes (with a sponge recipe from Elana Amsterdam)

Ingredients

10 gluten free ice cream cones/baskets (flat-bottomed) - Miss GF used Eskal GF Ice Cream Party Tubs

Sponge (gluten, dairy, grain, nut, soy and refined sugar free)
½ cup/56g coconut flour
½ teaspoon fine sea salt
¼ teaspoon bicarbonate of soda
4 large eggs - room temperature
½ cup/120 ml grapeseed oil
½ cup/120 ml agave nectar
1 tablespoon vanilla extract

Frosting
make a batch of your favourite frosting, e.g. :
60g butter/dairy free spread
180 to 200g icing sugar
1 to 2 tablespoons very strong cold coffee or a teaspoon instant espresso powder
1 tablespoon cocoa powder

gluten free sprinkles or chocolate eggs to decorate

Method

  1. Sponge : Pre-heat the oven to 180 C/350 F/Gas 4.
  2. Prepare the cones by placing in a muffin tray and secure/stabilise the base with foil round the base, if necessary.
  3. In a large bowl, weigh and combine the coconut flour, salt and bicarbonate of soda, whisking lightly together to break down any lumps. Set aside.
  4. In a separate bowl, whisk together the eggs, grapeseed oil, agave nectar and vanilla extract.
  5. Add the liquid mix to the flour mix and blend with the electric whisk until fully combined.
  6. Divide the mixture between all the cone cases (about half full).
  7. Bake for approximately 25 minutes on the lowest oven rack until well-risen and a skewer inserted into the centre of the sponge comes out with only a few moist crumbs attached. 
  8. Remove the cupcake cones from the tin immediately and place on a wire rack to cool. Leave to cool completely.
  9. Whilst cooling, make the Frosting : Beat the butter/spread until soft and gradually add the icing sugar, cocoa powder and coffee until well-blended, smooth and a good consistency for piping.
  10. When the cupcakes are cold, pipe frosting onto the top of each and decorate as you wish.
Gluten Free Alchemist © 2013-16 unless otherwise indicated

Wednesday, 1 June 2016

Amazingly Delicious Marinated BBQ'd Veg to celebrate National BBQ Week with FourWalls


This week is National BBQ Week..... and it starts with a good old UK bank holiday on 30th May (running to 5th June). Yay!


The weather forecast is not great, but who cares? We Brits are always up for a barbie (aren't we?), and shine (or rain) we can stoically don and apron, grab the coals and head for the garden.


I'm celebrating National BBQ Week with FourWalls, a brand new, exciting project that has been launched by Ocean Loans to celebrate all things home-related. Go check out their site which is a growing bank of inspirational ideas and advice for home projects, revamps and decoration...... handy since we are about to embark on (yet another) extension!


BBQ's are a great opportunity to extend our homes into the openness of the garden and enjoy all that the summer has to offer us. With the availability of some amazing, easily transportable BBQ's that you can now find, you can also extend your recreational space even further, to incorporate great social food with friends at the beach or on a picnic in the countryside.

We are the proud owners of no less than three BBQ's at the GF house...... the monster gas version (convenient for large gatherings, but significantly missing out on the smoke and flavour of traditional charcoal models)....... A traditional charcoal version (which we use most frequently when garden-based)........ and an amazing Cobb BBQ, which is totally portable and runs on special briquettes which are hot and ready to cook with in just 5 minutes....... perfect for when we go to the beach. If you've never seen a Cobb BBQ before, you seriously have to check out this piece of kit....... It's brilliant!


One of the things that always makes me smile about BBQ's is how the men take control! Beer and tongs in hand, they take ownership of the cooking as if they are the only ones who know how to cook a burger..... Mr GF even marinades the meat and can knock up a mean guacamole...... Amidst the smoke he seems in his element...... I don't bother to offer much help with the actual cooking part..... oh no! BBQ's have a distinct macho image for being 'man's cooking'!

That's the 'being seen' stuff around the coals of course..... In the kitchen, I do my bit too...... prepping sides and salads, stuffing fish, and sorting veg.


The recipe I have shared with you here is one of my favourites. I have been making it for years and I have not met anyone yet who hasn't given it the seal of approval. It is entirely gluten free, vegetarian, dairy free and delicious. If you marinade the veg well ahead of time, the flavours mingle and absorb to perfection with the veg. You can even stick it in an airtight container to transport to those countryside and beach-based barbies....


Because the veg is cut relatively small, you need a suitable BBQ-proof 'container' to cook it in. I have always used a BBQ-wok, which is covered in little holes...... perfect for allowing the smoke to infuse throughout the cooking-process. If you don't have a BBQ wok (although it is definitely worth getting one), you can make a foil basket (make sure you use several layers of foil for strength), and pierce with a number of small holes to allow the smoke through.


This is a pretty healthy dish. You can use pretty much any veg you like although I have some firm favourites that work well on a BBQ...... peppers, mushrooms, aubergine, onion, baby corn, courgette..... For an added twist, I have spiralized some of the veg for this batch!

The marinade is simple but amazingly delicious. A combination of olive oil, balsamic &/or red wine vinegar, seasoning, garlic and plenty of herbs, it packs quite a flavour punch and brings the Mediterranean to your back yard.

I am sharing my Marinated BBQ'd Veg with the following linkies, in the hope that the recipe brings happiness to others too :

Recipe of the Week with A Mummy Too



Tasty Tuesdays with Honest Mum





Sunday Fitness & Food - this week with Ilkas Blog (and Marathons & Motivation)



Meat Free Mondays with Tinned Tomatoes





Free From Fridays with the Free From Farmhouse

Cooking with Herbs / Tea Time Treats - with Lavender & Lovage (and The Hedge Combers). June brings us a combined linky party of Herbs and/or Summer Berries. There are plenty of herbs thrown in with the veg to add to those summer flavours.


And the #FoodYearLinkUp with Charlotte's Lively Kitchen. Celebrating National BBQ Week.







And when you have finished with all the savoury stuff....... don't forget the sweet stuff..... Here Miss GF shows her S'Mores skills (with gluten free chocolate biscuits of course)....




And when it's all over, the coals are going cold and the kids are ready for bed..... have another beer and chill......


Marinated BBQ'd Veg

Ingredients

A good mix of sliced/chopped/spiralized vegetables. I used :

a couple of small to medium red onions - sliced
150g baby corn - sliced lengthways
1 red and 1 yellow pepper - sliced
100 to 150g button mushrooms - sliced in half
2 courgettes - spiralized
150g cherry tomatoes - sliced in half or left whole
1 small butternut squash - spiralized 
1 small aubergine - sliced into chips or cubes

Marinade :
approx 240 ml olive oil
100 ml balsamic/red wine vinegar (or a mix of both)
¾ teaspoon fine sea salt
plenty of freshly ground black pepper
6 large cloves garlic - crushed
handful fresh parsley
1 tablespoon fresh chopped or 1 teaspoon dried thyme
1 tablespoon fresh chopped or 1 teaspoon dried oregano
1½ tablespoons fresh chopped or 1½ teaspoons dried basil

Method

  1. Prepare the vegetables - wash, trim and slice/chop/spiralize as appropriate to the type of veg, and place in a very large bowl/container.
  2. In a large jug, mix together all the marinade ingredients thoroughly and pour over the vegetables.
  3. Using your hands, mix and toss the veg in the marinade making sure it is well coated.
  4. Leave to marinate for a few hours (or overnight), mixing together occasionally to help the infusion process.
  5. When ready, cook the veg on the BBQ over very hot coals (you will probably need to do this in batches) using either a BBQ wok or a home-made foil basket (a few layers (for strength) of foil shaped into a container with several holes pierced through to allow the smoke to mingle). Stir and turn the veg intermittently to help the cooking process.
  6. The veg is done when it is soft and beginning to brown on the edges slightly.
  7. If making in batches, keep warm in the oven or serve straight away with all your other great BBQ'd goodies.
With thanks to the Think Money Group for asking me to be part of the FourWalls campaign with Ocean Loans.  I was not paid to write the post, although I was provided with a contribution to BBQ ingredients and sundries. As always, all views expressed here are my own.

Gluten Free Alchemist © 2013-16 unless otherwise indicated