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, 19 July 2017

Chocolate & Mint Whoopie Pies (gluten free) - Miss GF Makes #12


Miss GF has been making gluten free Chocolate & Mint Whoopie Pies and they're good! It has to be one of my all time favourite flavour pairings and I think it may be becoming one of hers too.

There is a perfect contrast both in taste and colour between dark, rich, decadent chocolate and cool, light, tingly, green mint. It's a harmonious marriage of opposites which just 'works'.


I love when I come home to find Miss GF creating in the kitchen. it amazes me every time I find her there, that a child of eleven can be so confident with a bowl, spoon and a container of (gluten free) flour.

I say I love coming home to the baking, which is always a joy, but there is a dual creativity happening and the creation of washing up and kitchen calamity that often accompanies it is less so. I admit, I have not always been the most patient around mess in the kitchen. I tend to be a fairly tidy baker..... clearing and washing up as I go..... frequently wiping down surfaces and getting utensils out as I need them.


Children do not think in my orderly way as a rule, or plan ahead for what they need and at times, this has lead to my being less that 'positive' when I have returned to piles of greasy, batter-smeared bowls, spoons and pans and several open abandoned packets of ingredients. At times I confess, I have been more than a tad grumpy and I have often scolded myself later for not just stepping back and allowing her 'to be'.

I have got better.... I think...... and mostly will now walk in and just quietly clear up around her. Regardless of my underlying intolerance of mess, I am so so proud of how imaginative and skilful she is when baking and I would hate for that enthusiasm to be dampened.


Her Chocolate & Mint Whoopie Pies were a random, seemingly unplanned bake, but were no less delicious for it.  The recipe amalgamated a handful of others she had found and was then de-glutened using some gluten free, rice-free flour blend that I had left over from my experimenting with some baguettes. Either way, she did a fab job..... soft but firm individual chocolatey mounds of cake, sandwiched together with fresh, bright, mint butter icing...... half dipped in dark chocolate and topped with broken cigarillos found wanting and left over from an Easter cake that I made back in April.

These little Chocolate-Mint morsels would be a perfect offering at any time and for any occasion, although we just ate them because we could!


I am sharing Miss GF's Whoopie creations with :


Bake of the Week with Mummy Mishaps and Casa Costello

Treat Petite with The Baking Explorer







Cook Blog Share with Everyday Healthy Recipes

Recipe of the Week with A Mummy Too



We Should Cocoa with Tin & Thyme - I know there is a one entry per blog limit on Choclette's linky, but I am hoping that since this entry is not mine, but from Miss GF, that we might be able to sneak it in....

Brilliant Blog Posts with Honest Mum


Other Gluten Free Chocolate-Mint Recipes on Gluten Free Alchemist :
Chocolate-Mint 'After Eight' Ice Cream Cake Sandwiches
Double Mint-Choc-Chip Ice Cream
Layered Choc-Mint Christmas Tree Cake
Minty Chocolate Brownies
Chocolate Mint Birthday Bundt
No Churn Mint Choc-Chip Ice Cream


Chocolate & Mint Whoopie Pies (makes about 16 whoopie pies)

Ingredients

35g sorghum flour
20g white teff flour
20g buckwheat flour
60g tapioca flour
20g potato starch
30g cornflour
(or substitute with an equivalent 185g flour blend such as Free From Fairy Flour - see sidebar for link)
½ teaspoon xanthan gum
40g cocoa powder
½ teaspoon GF baking powder
1½ teaspoons bicarbonate of soda
125 ml milk
¾ tablespoon white wine vinegar
225g caster sugar
125g unsalted butter (room temperature)
½ teaspoon vanilla extract
2 large eggs - room temperature

Mint Butter Icing
125g unsalted softened butter
approx 280g icing sugar
1 to 2 tablespoons milk
a few drops of peppermint extract
a little green food colouring paste

approx 160g dark chocolate
sprinkles for decoration (optional)

Method

  1. Sponges : Weigh and mix together the flours, xanthan gum, cocoa, baking powder and bicarbonate of soda, making sure any lumps are broken down (I mix up in a large airtight container and shake vigorously).
  2. Preheat the oven to 180 C/350 F/Gas 4. Base-line 3 large baking sheets with baking paper.
  3. Mix the milk with the white wine vinegar in a jug and leave to stand for about 10 minutes (the mixture will become quite lumpy).
  4. In a large bowl, beat together the sugar, butter and vanilla until pale and fluffy.
  5. Add the eggs one at a time, beating well between each until smooth and combined.
  6. Add and fold in the flour mixture alternately with the milk to the butter-egg mix, until you have a smooth, thick batter. 
  7. Spoon the mixture into a large piping bag, fitted with a 1 cm round plain nozzle and pipe onto the lined trays, into round, slightly flattened mounds (roughly equal in size and leaving a gap for a little spreading between each), about 3 to 4 cm in diameter. 
  8. Bake for 8 to 10 minutes until the tops are firm to touch.
  9. Allow to cool slightly on the trays, before transferring to a wire rack to cool completely.
  10. Meanwhile, make the Mint Icing : Beat the butter in a large bowl until soft and creamy.
  11. Gradually add and beat in the icing sugar a little at a time, with a little milk as needed if the mixture becomes too stiff. 
  12. Add the mint extract to taste and green food colour and beat to blend.
  13. When you have a thick, creamy frosting, pair your whoopies for size.
  14. Spread or pipe a thick layer of frosting onto the flat side of one of the paired whoopie cakes and sandwich together with the other side.
  15. To decorate (optional) : melt the chocolate either in a glass bowl over a pan of simmering water (stirring) or in the microwave at medium setting and using 30 second bursts, stirring between each until melted.
  16. Either dip the whoopies in the chocolate or drizzle the chocolate over them and sprinkle with chocolate sprinkles, etc. Leave to allow the chocolate to set.
Gluten Free Alchemist © 2013-17 unless otherwise indicated

Tuesday, 11 July 2017

Dark & Chewy Chocolate-Peanut Butter Cookies - gluten free #RecipeRefurb


Check out these Dark & Chewy Chocolate-Peanut Butter Cookies. They are a favourite recipe of mine. Sweet, chocolatey, peanutty, chewy yumciousness which are incredibly simple to make. You can knock up a batch in about half an hour, if you work with speedy hands.


I have recently been revisiting old recipes and whilst doing so, have been updating a few photographs. Some of my earlier photos were so cruddy, that making recipes again seems a great opportunity for a revamp. Midge over at Peachicks Bakery has also been doing a few updates under the hashtag #RecipeRefurb, so I thought I would join her!

A couple of weeks ago, I made a double batch of these cookies for a Unit team day at work. They went down a storm with lots of colleagues telling me they needed the recipe. I'm not surprised. They are laden with oodles of crunchy peanut butter and cocoa and stuffed full of chocolate chips. Let's face it.... there's no better combo than chocolate and peanut for sheer indulgence and cookie comfort.


When I devised the recipe, it was loosely based on my earlier Peanut Chocolate-Chip Biscuits, but these cookies are much softer, spread further when baked and have had the flour removed and replaced with a cocoa hit. Each batch makes 18 to 20 cookies which should go a long way, but be warned..... they are totally addictive.... They don't last over at the Gluten Free Alchemist....


I am sharing my amazing Dark & Chewy Chocolate-Peanut Butter Cookies with :


Recipe of the Week with A Mummy Too

Cook Blog Share with Recipes Made Easy







Bake of the Week with Casa Costello and Mummy Mishaps


Brilliant Blog Posts with Honest Mum



Treat Petite with The Baking Explorer

Cook Once Eat Twice with Searching for Spice







We Should Cocoa with Tin & Thyme


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



Dark & Chewy Chocolate-Peanut Butter Cookies (makes 18 to 20 cookies)

Ingredients

140g soft light brown sugar
25g cocoa powder
¾ teaspoon bicarbonate of soda
150g crunchy peanut butter
½ teaspoon vanilla extract
1 large egg - lightly beaten
100g dark chocolate chunks/chips

Method

  1. Line 2 baking sheets with baking paper.
  2. Preheat the oven to 180 C/350 F/ Gas 4.
  3. Weigh and mix together the sugar, cocoa and bicarbonate of soda, ensuring any lumps of sugar are completely broken down.
  4. Add the peanut butter, vanilla and egg and stir thoroughly until the mixture is well-combined and even.
  5. Add the chocolate chunks and mix again until evenly distributed throughout the dough.
  6. Divide the dough into approximately 14 even-sized portions, rolling into balls with your hands.
  7. Flatten each ball slightly between the palms of your hands and place on the baking sheets allowing room for spreading between each.
  8. Bake for 9 to 10 minutes, swapping the trays around in the oven half way through cooking to ensure an even bake.
  9. Remove from the oven and leave on the trays for about 10 minutes until the cookies are firm enough to transfer to a wire rack to cool completely.
Gluten Free Alchemist © 2013-17 unless otherwise indicated

Friday, 7 July 2017

Nairn's New Gluten Free Oat Snack Range..... Have You Tried It Yet?


I've been trying Nairn's new gluten free oat snack range and I think I am hooked. Seriously..... I don't leave the house in the morning without a bag in my hand. I know that at sometime during the morning (and usually before I reach the office), that little bag of goodness will be just what I need to keep hunger from knocking.

As a company, Nairn's have always been one of my favourites for oats and long before I needed to be gluten free, they would be my natural choice for oat cakes. I trust them. Their products have always been straight forward and great-tasting..... so being gluten free, it is a relief to see Nairn's on the free from shelves too....

Oats can be tricky little beggars if you are Coeliac and I am often asked the question 'so how are gluten free oats different from ordinary oats and are they really a problem?' So here's a quick and dirty explanation :

Oats themselves do not contain gluten, but they do contain a similar protein called avenin, to which about 5% of Coeliacs are intolerant. If Coeliac, it is important to know whether you are one of the 5%. It used to be that you would need to completely remove oats (gluten free or not) from your diet for 6 to 12 months after diagnosis, whilst your body healed from gluten-poisoning, before a gradual reintroduction and monitoring of impact. Recently, gastroenterology guidelines for coeliac management have changed to allow oats to continue to be eaten from the point of diagnosis, but it is important for you to check the best process with your consultant to be sure.


If you can tolerate oats, great! Why then do you need gluten free oats? It's simply a matter of cross contamination and that's a big risk if you are Coeliac. Have you ever looked across the top of the average oat field? You will be amazed at what else is growing in there! You can pretty much guarantee there will be some sneaky wheat, barley or rye sharing ground space and it will still be hanging around waiting for harvest and milling with the rest of the crop and ready to contaminate. So if you want to be safe, you have to eat gluten free oats.

How can you be sure they are safe? Producers of gluten free oats have to comply with strict conditions and at Nairn's, the oats are carefully farmed, being checked in the field to ensure there is no contamination during either the growing and milling process, and making sure they test every truck which enters and leaves the mill.

They now have a dedicated gluten free factory to bake their gluten free oats safely too, tested and approved by Coeliac UK...... Just make sure you choose from the gluten free range and check for the crossed grain symbol and gluten free labelling for reassurance.


What's so great about oats? Simple! If you are one of the 95% of Coeliacs who can eat them, they are full of good stuff essential to your diet. A great slow-release energy food, they are low GI and a fantastically versatile source of soluble fibre, which is essential for good digestion. Proven to help reduce cholesterol, keep blood-sugar levels stable and decrease high blood pressure, they are also rich in minerals and B-vitamins, which are important for good bone health.

We get through loads of them at the Gluten Free Alchemist, both as straight gluten free oats and added to our flour blends (it's really easy to make your own oat flour). Great food. Versatile. Great taste!


Gluten free family




















Photo courtesy of Nairn's

What of the Nairn's range? It seems to be getting better all the time...... In addition to gluten free oats for baking, their range includes oatcakes, muesli and instant porridge with no added sugar and also lower-sugar biscuit breaks, wholegrain crackers and oaty snacks. Their new Gluten Free Astro Bites contain 40 to 50% less sugar when compared to other similar kids biscuits, which has to be good right?

Did I say kids? Nah! These have no restrictions! I loved the Astro Bites (which come in 3 flavours : Berry, Choc Chip and Cheese) as much as Miss GF. Sure they are shaped into spaceships, shooting stars and cute little spacemen, but we grown ups can devour a universe as much as little people. These snack-bags of oaty fun are perfect at any time of the day..... and that little rebellious streak in me brings a wry smile when I munch them at work whilst sitting amongst the great and the good!


Beware though...... the Sea Salt and Balsamic Vinegar Snackers are way too addictive. The salty-sweet tang on the tongue has you dipping in the bag until it is empty and then rummaging around the depths of your drawer, wishing you could find more.......

I am linking up with :


Brilliant Blog Posts with Honest Mum

Free From Fridays with Le Coin De Mel






With thanks to Nairns for providing samples of their Gluten Free Oat Snacks to try. I received no payment for this post and was not required to write a review. All views expressed here are my own.

Gluten Free Alchemist © 2013-17 unless otherwise indicated

Wednesday, 28 June 2017

Boozy Pina Colada Hot BBQ Pineapple - #FreeFromBBQ (free from gluten, dairy, nuts, refined sugar and also vegan)


Think Pina Colada..... Think tropical white sandy beaches, hot sun, cooling green coconut palms and sipping heady cocktails with the clear blue, warm ocean gently lapping at your feet.

Yeah..... I have a vivid and somewhat optimistic imagination, but at GFHQ, we have invented a fab, summer alternative to that favourite Caribbean tipple..... a Boozy Pina Colada Hot BBQ Pineapple dessert..... Thick slices of fresh cut pineapple and seasonal local cherries, marinated in a little coconut water and a large dousing of white rum......, roasted on a hot barbecue and then topped with an extra drizzle of the potent stuff alongside cold, whipped coconut cream and some dried coconut flakes.


The idea for this delectable dessert came to me in the midst of plotting some new recipes for the #FreeFromBBQ features being run throughout June by our gang of free from bloggers (check out the list in the last post if you are looking for summer barbecue inspiration to cover allergies and intolerances).

If you follow Gluten Free Alchemist, you will have seen my post on BBQ Swordfish with Lime, Pistachio and Coriander, which made a light, healthy and tasty change to the usual meat-fest of bangers and burgers. There's nothing wrong with an occasional meat binge, but sometimes it's good to broaden horizons and try something different.

Just as fish was a welcome change however, I decided we needed to also ditch the s'mores for something a little fresher. Okay..... I know this one is not obviously for the kids, but take out the rum and they can still enjoy all the tropical fun, without you being reported to Social Services!


I hadn't originally planned to add cherries, but not long after the idea for this recipe hatched in a dark corner of my brain, our local Kent cherries started appearing for sale at roadsides and orchards and it seemed rather remiss not to throw a few in. Having tasted the result, they were a fantastic addition for both texture and flavour, but also for the blush in colour they added to the yellow pineapple.

It is when you dish this dessert up however, that the tropical magic truly comes together. Of course, the intensity of rum can be adjusted to taste by drizzling more or less over the plated fruit (my arm was given an invisible 'nudge' as I poured)...... but the coconut cream raises the dish to another level..... soft, creamy, rich and existing in perfect harmony against the pineapple and rum to recreate Pina Colada heaven. None of these elements compete for stardom.... they equally share the stage in an interconnected relationship with each other.

Although optional, the flakes of coconut add extra bite and contrast, so if you have some in the larder, be sure to sprinkle them on....

A little note about coconut cream..... If you want a good thick whip, make sure you source coconut milk which has a high concentration of coconut extract and no added guar gum. It's amazing how much they vary..... anything from about 16% to 82%. The 82% can comes from Natco, but I also found a very convenient gem at Sainsbury (their own brand) which weighs in at a healthy 75% extract and produced the best coconut cream I have ever whisked.


The other essential to preparing your coconut cream, is to make sure you chill the can (upside-down) over-night or for a few hours without moving, to enable the cream to separate from the coconut liquid (the cream rises up). When you open the can (having flipped it back upright first), you can then easily pour off the liquid (which you save for the rum-coconut marinade) and extract the cream. Once whipped (with a little maple syrup and vanilla), pop it back in the fridge for a while to firm back up.

Although I admit there is a little more work to preparing this dish than roasting a marshmallow over hot coals and squelching between two (gluten free) chocolate biscuits, this Boozy Pina Colada Hot BBQ Pineapple is not difficult to pull off and I can honestly say it is probably the best barbecued dessert I have ever eaten....... Or maybe I am just easily pleased?!


I am sharing this tropical bowlful of loveliness with :


Cook Blog Share - this week with Hijacked By Twins

Recipe of the Week with A Mummy Too







Meat Free Mondays with Tinned Tomatoes

Brilliant Blog Posts with Honest Mum







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

#G2BGF (Got To Be Gluten Free) - a New Linky over at Glutarama

FiestaFriday #178



Boozy Pina Colada Hot BBQ Pineapple

Ingredients

Whipped Coconut Cream
400 ml can coconut milk
1 tablespoon maple syrup
½ teaspoon vanilla powder/paste

Pineapple Base
fresh pineapple - thick-cut
fresh cherries - de-stoned
good glug Bacardi white rum
a little of the coconut liquid left after separation of coconut cream from can

extra Bacardi white rum
dried/fresh coconut flakes

Method

  1. Whipped Coconut Cream : Place the can of coconut milk in the fridge upside-down over night or for several hours.
  2. Turn the can up the right way and then open and drain the watery liquid into a cup.
  3. Spoon out the thick coconut cream into a medium-large bowl and add the maple syrup and vanilla.
  4. Whisk the cream until thick and then place back in the fridge until ready to serve.
  5. Pineapple Base : Marinade the pineapple and cherries with a hefty glug of Bacardi and a little of the coconut water for a couple of hours.
  6. When ready to barbecue, drain the pineapple and cherries and place in a basket of foil with a few small holes pierced into the bottom. Save the rum-liquid and drink!
  7. Place on a hot barbecue for 15 to 20 minutes.
  8. Once cooked, place the hot pineapple and cherries in a serving dish and add an extra drizzle of rum over the top. 
  9. Serve with a large spoon of whipped coconut cream and a sprinkle of coconut flakes.
Gluten Free Alchemist © 2013-17 unless otherwise indicated

Sunday, 25 June 2017

BBQ Swordfish with Lime, Pistachio & Coriander - #FreeFromBBQ


The last week has been scorching here in the UK. Which makes it essential BBQ weather.... Perfect for this amazingly simple but equally delicious BBQ Swordfish with Lime, Pistachio & Coriander. It is one of my all time favourite flavour combos..... Light, fresh, colourful and perfect for summer.

I adore the hot weather. I am in my element. It draws me outside for as long as possible, whenever I can get away from working. I swear I should have been born elsewhere in the world.... the UK weather just doesn't suit my temperament and I am so much happier and less grumpy when the heat is on my skin and life moves away from four walls. Walks, bike rides, pottering about in the vegetable patch, sitting on the beach..... Sun - I'm all yours!


In the past, we haven't done enough BBQs at GFHQ..... But we recently finished an extension on the house and with it, we have gained an amazing deck and patio area which is like gaining an additional two outdoor rooms on top of the internal one we have had built. Life has shifted and suddenly, the garden has come into its own.

Although we do have a larger BBQ to play with, we also have a Cobb BBQ which is an amazing piece of equipment. If you have never seen one and love living outdoors, you have to check it out. The full range is on their website, but you can also get them on the high street in Lakeland, I believe.


What makes this BBQ so fantastic (note this is not a sponsored post, so I have nothing to gain from sharing my love of the Cobb with you), is that it is small and easily transportable (it packs neatly into a carry bag), which makes it ideal for spur-of-the-moment BBQs on the beach or in place of traditional picnics on days out. Aside from being very quick and powerful (it heats using 'Cobblestones' which are up, running and ready to cook within minutes and stay hot for a couple of hours), its casing is in fact reassuringly cold on the outside, so you can sit it in the centre of the garden table to cook communally. It is a genius piece of equipment.

BBQ's often make us think of burgers, sausages, chicken and serious meat-binges, but over at Gluten Free Alchemist, we try to be a little more adventurous. Living by the sea and with a working harbour, we are lucky enough to have an amazing fish market on our doorstep, so although a little more expensive, we do what we can to make the most of it. Besides..... fish is a wonderfully healthy food and (in addition to tasting incredible if cooked well), is so much easier to digest than a meat-binge.


As for the Swordfish, it was cooked to perfection in no time at all..... moist and tender white flesh, delicately touched with a lime-citrus tang and the unmistakable flavour and aroma of fresh coriander. The softness of the fish married beautifully both for texture and taste against the earthy, slightly sweet crunch of toasted, crushed pistachio nuts. Happy happy tummy!

So next time you are thinking of having a BBQ, move away from the burger shelf and head for the fish! You may never look back.....


Of course, any good summer evening needs the accompaniment of a cooling drink...... A little Prosecco..... a glass of rose........ a chilled beer...... I have been unearthing a whole new world of beers which are being brewed gluten free..... This BBQ was accompanied by a great local discovery in the form of a gluten free craft beer from the Westerham Brewery in Kent..... beautifully named 'Bohemian Rhapsody'...... slightly floral, but moreishly refreshing!

If you need more inspiration for BBQ food that will work for those with allergies and intolerances, look no further than the contributions from the very talented bloggers listed below. Last month we did #freefrompicnics.... This month it's been one heck of a #FreeFromBBQ, so go check them out! Just remember, if you are sharing your cook space, that you take precautions against cross-contamination, by cooking on clean foil and ensuring foods don't touch!


I am also sharing my delicious BBQ Swordfish with Lime, Pistachio & Coriander with :


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

Cook Blog Share with Everyday Healthy Recipes






Brilliant Blog Posts with Honest Mum

Recipe of the Week with A Mummy Too


Best #FreeFromBBQ Recipes : 
Chorizo & Cod Kebabs - Le Coin De Mel
Veggie Burgers - Free From Fairy
Stuffed Roast Peppers - Paleo Crust
Pork Koftas - The Gluten Free Blogger
BBQ Trout with Grilled Artichoke - Glutarama
The Free From Farmhouse 
The Intolerant Gourmand
The Adventures of an Allergy Mummy
BBQ Apricot & Nectarine 'Steak' SaladThe Peachicks Bakery
Easy No Mayo Coleslaw - Easy Peasy Foodie

BBQ Swordfish with Lime, Pistachio & Coriander (4 servings)

Ingredients

large handful raw, unsalted, shelled pistachio nuts
4 swordfish steaks
a little olive oil
salt & fresh ground black pepper
juice of 1 lime 
chopped fresh coriander
1 additional lime - cut into half-moons
1 pack raw, peeled king prawns (defrosted)

Method

  1. Pre-prepare your pistachio nuts by toasting in a hot oven (200 C/400 F/Gas 6) for about 10 minutes, turning intermittently to prevent burning.
  2. Cool the nuts once toasted and then rough-crush in a pestle and mortar. Set aside.
  3. Push your prawns onto skewers so that they are easy to BBQ.
  4. Brush your raw fish with a little olive oil, season with salt and pepper and drizzle with a little lime juice.
  5. Place the fish on a hot BBQ and cook for about 5 minutes on each side to seal and cook until tender. Drizzle a little more lime juice on each side during the cooking process.
  6. At the same time, cook your skewered prawns alongside, turning until pink, but still tender, so that they are ready to serve with the fish.
  7. Once cooked, transfer to a serving plate and drizzle a little more lime juice.
  8. Top with the cooked prawns.
  9. Sprinkle with the crushed pistachio nuts and chopped coriander and a little extra black pepper. 
  10. Garnish with the lime half-moons and serve.
Gluten Free Alchemist © 2013-17 unless otherwise indicated