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, 30 July 2015

Fudgy Chocolate Birthday Cake Mix....... Travel and Bake! (gluten free)


One of my favourite free from bloggers - Vicki over at the Free From Fairy has decided to take a well-earned break over the summer to spend time with her little ones. Sounds like a wise idea to me!

Whilst she is off enjoying the kids, she has asked a few fellow bloggers to guest post on her behalf...... including me! I am truly honoured. Vicki is a fantastic blogger with a huge, well-deserved following....... Thank you Vicki!


If you haven't checked out Vicki's blog, go grab a coffee and a free-from biscuit and surf! She is one of the most innovative bloggers out there and I know you will learn lots and lots from her..... I have.

Whilst Vicki is taking a break, I will be too.... Off to sunnier climes for a couple of weeks..... and frankly I can't wait! I am exhausted and more than ready for some family time myself as well as some rest and recuperation.


Whilst we are away, my daughter will be having her 10th birthday. One of the problems (or benefits) of having an August birthday is that you are never at school for it and the big day has a strong chance of coinciding with a family holiday. My daughter may appreciate that timing when she is older, but right now, not being at school with her friends can be pretty difficult, with lots of melodrama and angst. Although she will have parties at home (either side of the holiday), I have decided to pull together a cake mix that can be whizzed up with basic extras and minimal equipment when we are away.... A sort of 'have mix...will travel' cake!


At fourth attempt, I am happy! This is a fudgy chocolate hybrid of a brownie-sponge cake. The prototype has been topped with crushed-raspberry cream.... Yum!

I intend for the actual birthday cake to be layered and filled locally with whatever I can find. Watch this space...... Assuming all goes to plan, I will share the results later in the summer!

Meanwhile I will be off-line for a while. Sadly I have not been as organised as Vicky and so won't be posting for a couple of (three +) weeks.....

Meanwhile, I am sharing this travel and bake fudgy chocolate cake with the following :


Cook Blog Share, this week with Snap Happy Bakes.









Recipe of the Week with Emily at A Mummy Too.









Tasty Tuesdays with Honest Mum.







Free From Fridays with I Say Nomato and the Free From Farmhouse.










Catch you all soon.... In the meantime, have a great summer xx



Fudgy Chocolate Cake Mix

Ingredients

Dry Mix :
100g plain GF flour mix
15g cocoa powder
pinch fine sea salt
¾ teaspoon xanthan gum
1½ teaspoons GF baking powder
¼ teaspoon bicarbonate of soda
100g ground almonds
½ teaspoon vanilla bean powder

200g dark chocolate - broken into small pieces
150g unsalted butter/dairy free spread
4 large eggs
200g caster sugar
100g dark/milk chocolate chunks

Method

  1. Mix all the dry mix ingredients together, making sure any lumps are completely broken down. If taking away with you, store in a ziplock bag/airtight container until ready to use.
  2. Base line 2 x 8 inch non-stick cake tins with baking paper. 
  3. Pre-heat the oven to 180 C/350 F/Gas 4.
  4. Melt the dark chocolate (200g) and butter in a heat proof glass bowl, either over a saucepan of simmering water (stirring frequently) or in a microwave on medium setting in 30 second bursts stirring between each. Set aside to cool slightly.
  5. In a separate large mixing bowl, beat the eggs with a fork until well-blended and creamy.
  6. Add the sugar and beat again with a fork until well blended.
  7. Add the melted chocolate mix and beat in well.
  8. Add the dry ingredients and fold until the batter is smooth.
  9. Add and fold in the chocolate chunks.
  10. Divide the mixture between the two tins and spread evenly.
  11. Bake for 20 to 30 minutes until a skewer inserted into the centre comes out clean.
  12. Leave to cool in the tin and then turn out, layer and decorate with your chosen filling and decoration. 
Gluten Free Alchemist © 2013-15 unless otherwise indicated

Tuesday, 28 July 2015

Coori - An amazing new Free From Company..... Definitely one to watch!


The good people at Coori very kindly sent me one of their subscription boxes. You wouldn't believe how my daughter's eyes widened when it arrived. It was a big box!

If you have never heard of Coori, then you need to listen up. This is definitely one to seek out and watch for the future. Coori is a dedicated free from company who are producing an amazing set of products which range from baking mixes through to sauces, baked goods, store cupboard essentials and fresh pies and pasta.

Founded by Julia Zardetto, who is herself gluten intolerant and has many years experience working in the catering industry, the principles and ethos of Coori are straight forward and totally in line with my own..... That free from food doesn't mean taste free food.


In addition to being able to buy single product items from their on-line shop, Coori also offer subscription boxes delivered to your door, which are a mixture of ambient and chilled goods, tailored to a variety of intolerences, preferences and needs and stuffed full of products to help you make meals all month (or week) long.

It seems most people are really busy these days and although we make most meals from scratch in our house, there are nights when we really miss the convenience of a decent ready meal or a healthy, flavoursome option that can be on the table quickly with minimal fuss and is not shaped like a jacket potato.

The last few weeks have been incredibly frenetic in our household. With the end of the school year and the many concerts, shows, sports days, parties and other events, I have been struggling to fit way too many quarts into way too few pint pots. My lovely blog has dropped down the priority list with an increase in family commitments (a temporary blip I'm sure), and opportunities to spend hours playing in the kitchen have been rapidly eroded. I have, with all honesty, been incredibly grateful to Coori for the timely arrival of their box!

Before becoming gluten free, my favourite speedy meal was fresh pasta grabbed from the chiller cabinet on the way home and cooked and mixed with any number of ingredients. Alongside fish, meat and cheese, all I needed was a jar of pesto, bottle of passata and some fresh herbs or a dash of cream and I could have dinner on the table in a flash. If the pasta base was a delicious filled tortellini or ravioli, so much the better........ Boy, have I missed that option!


Until now........ Thank you, thank you Coori......... You have restored my belief that somewhere 'out there' is a fresh gluten free pasta to rival my old faves. Actually...... forget 'out there'...... It's in my box! And it's good...... REALLY good!

Yes there are lots of other yummy things in the box (and I promise I will come to those in a minute), but first indulge me in my HUGE excitement over this. Coori's pasta is a revelation. It cooks beautifully, tastes amazing and doesn't dissolve into crumbs even if accidentally cooked beyond 'al dente'. I think I have died and gone to heaven.....


Both the Spinach & Ricotta Ravioli and the Ham & Cheese Tortellini (the first on the market) have generous fillings which are seasoned beautifully. Although I couldn't locate any actual cooking instructions, this was a minor issue. Both were totally delicious and cooked up just like 'normal' pasta. Good bite... Lovely texture... Nice flavour... Proper pasta! We loved them. Big time!

We paired the Ham & Cheese Tortellini (which is filled with rich Italian-sourced prosciutto stuffing) with a jar of green pesto that I found in the fridge and they tasted great together. A wonderful meal ready in 5 to 10 minutes. Yay!


We topped the Spinach & Ricotta Ravioli with fresh Pepper Pesto which we found in the Coori box. Again, it was delightful. The pesto had just the right heat level..... Not too hot, but with a nice chilli kick..... Balanced enough not to overwhelm the red pepper, which still shone through. We also loved that there were still little bites of pepper in the sauce, adding a crunchy bite to the dish. Topped with a good grating of cheese, another meal was ready in 10 minutes...

I tell you..... I want a van load of this stuff!

The box also contained some fantastic dried gluten free pasta which brought more excited giggles and purrs from my lips.... It was not the usual offerings of penne, spaghetti or fusilli... No! This is posh pasta...... Pappardelle and Maccheroni..... First time I have seen that gluten free....

The Pappardelle has been eaten..... cooked with my very favourite creamy fresh tuna and asparagus pasta sauce. Unfortunately I didn't manage to get a photo of it cooked as we were starving and the light was dire! Take it from me though, the pasta was delicious..... good flavour and texture which coated well with the sauce. The only challenge was that for this particular dish, I usually set the cooked pasta aside whilst I cook the sauce and then combine at the end. The Pappardelle became a tad stuck together when out of the liquid and we lost the beautiful ribbon-effect which I had hoped for. Lesson learnt! Next time I will cook it in a separate pan whilst making the sauce and not leave it to sit.


The other big revelation in my Coori box was the fresh Gnocchi Di Patate. It is the first and only gluten free gnocchi I have come across. Wow! another 10/10 from us!

I prepared it with a simple Italian tomato sauce made from tomato passata and herbs and added fresh courgettes from the garden, mushrooms and baby corn. The gnocchi was soft, fluffy, nicely chewy, held together well and took on the sauce just as it should. Divine! Can I have some more please?

Are you getting the picture yet? Coori has, in the space of one week, revolutionised my faith in speedy gluten free semi-ready meals. It has shown me that I can have good gluten free fresh Italian food with no compromise (and without having to make everything from scratch myself). If this is what they make 'free from' in Italy, I want to live there!


So what else was in the box? Everything from pies to bread mix and burger buns to breakfast cereal, gluten free cous cous, rice noodles, pizza bases and sauces. It even contained a couple of recipes to help encourage extra inspiration for the ingredients received.

The pies (which we ate as soon as the box arrived and didn't manage to photograph in time) were deep filled - steak, chicken and cheese and onion. They were really good..... tasty, flavoured well and had generous meaty fillings. We enjoyed them a lot, but they would have been improved with a more saucy filling (we found them a little dry). I think my favourite was the cheese and onion pie (possibly because the sauce content mattered less). The pastry for all the pies was quite thick, but with a good flavour and crisp texture. I reckon it would be the perfect pastry for pasties!


The soft burger buns (Italian), enriched with golden flax seeds, went down well with a weekend barbecue, filled with sausage burgers and cheese. My daughter absolutely loved them..... Soft and fluffy, we toasted them and they made for perfect burgers. My daughter's words tell all...... 'nom, nom, nom..... delicious Mummy'.


We were less impressed with the bread mix which was quite heavy both as dough and bread. The instructions were not explicit on what type of yeast to use (which may have affected the end result) and we thought the final loaf could have done with the addition of a little salt.

Freshly baked, the bread actually had quite a good texture and held a lot of promise, but it hardened quickly. The quantity of mix seemed a lot, which left the dilemma on how best to store the rest. It didn't freeze particularly well and I wondered whether it may have been better providing smaller amounts to bake a little at a time....


On the cereal front, the Italian chocolate-cream filled Magic Pillows were gobbled up pretty quick (both for breakfast with milk and dry as snacks). Both myself and my daughter made a bit of a beeline for them when we opened the Coori box, although we did manage to share nicely! They were good.... crunchy, chocolatey and well filled without being over sweet.


The maize cous cous (not a specific Coori product) was helpfully included to make a welcome alternative to rice or potatoes. It cooked by a similar process to usual wheat cous cous and maintained its defined granular texture without going to mush.

Although the pizza bases arrived a little broken, we managed to play pizza jigsaw and fitted them together for a quick lunch...... Spread with a generous layer of tomato passata and topped with pepperoni and grated mozzarella cheese they were very tasty. The base was neutral in flavour, with a good soft texture which held the toppings well. I rarely buy pizza bases as I love my home-made pizza dough recipe...... however, it was nice to have an alternative option which could be prepared and cooked within 20 minutes!


There were a few other more standard additions which are available in most supermarkets, but which were provided to help make creative meals, such as a large pack of rice noodles, Szechuan chilli stir fry sauce and hot Mexican sauce and also a jar of more specialised egg free mayo. Although It was useful to have these, I would have been more than happy with just the more unusual gluten free products!

The concept of a box of ingredients to make meals and meal planning easier is an interesting one. For myself, I think I would find this a little constraining, but for the less confident cooks out there, I can see the option of a guided menu may be quite appealing.

On the other hand, there were some amazing items in that box and all in all, I was highly impressed with the selection and quality of Coori products I was sent. The Coori chefs and team need to be hugely congratulated on their fresh products which were genuinely amazing and seriously need to be tried (just let me get my order in first!). Get on line and order some now..... you will (I hope) thank me for the recommendation!

With thanks to Coori for sending me one of their subscription boxes to test and review. I was not paid to write this post and was not expected or required to write a positive review. As always, all views expressed are my own.

Gluten Free Alchemist © 2013-15 unless otherwise indicated

Saturday, 18 July 2015

Oat, Peanut & Choc Chip Cookies - with a little help from Delicious Alchemy


Okay...... I 'cheated' with this one and used a packet mix as a base to build on! But since the result was very yummy cookies, I have decided to share them with you anyway.

Delicious Alchemy (who had sent me a fab box of goodies a while back) contacted me again to let me know they had a few bags of cookie mix which were looking for a home before their sell-by date. I don't need to be asked twice..... If there's cookie mix that needs using, then I am more than happy to oblige.

A couple of days later, Mr Postie arrived with a little parcel containing 3 packets of the duly re-homed Oat Cookie Mix. Perfect! You can add so many other ingredients to an oat cookie to make it extra interesting.....


We did make one packet 'straight' by the book, as I wanted to see how it baked before I tampered with the mix any further. The cookies were actually really good without any additions...... Crisp, golden, oatie, not over-sweet..... They disappeared very quickly!

With packet number two, I gave my daughter a handful of options to choose from and she decided that I needed to go for a peanut and chocolate themed bake. I considered adding peanut butter, but wanted the nuts to give a different crunch dimension, so settled on using rough-chopped roasted peanuts instead. I specifically chose salted peanuts to give a salty-sweet edge as a bit of a change.


I will be honest, I rarely use cookie mixes, but these were so easy to pull together, that I am beginning to see some benefit in keeping a handy pack ready for emergency baking or when I simply can't be bothered. I will definitely be taking a couple of packs on holiday for a quick bake-up there too!

Loaded with peanuts and chocolate chips, this particular 'adulterated' version is just delicious. Crunchy from the oats and the nuts (the peanuts really do shine and make the whole experience feel extra rewarding and satisfying), with little pockets of chocolate melting in the mouth in every bite, I was thoroughly chuffed with the end result.


Great at any time of the day, these cookies make for a tasty treat between meals and served with vanilla ice cream or custard for dessert. My daughter even had them a couple of days running for breakfast. Does that make me a bad parent? Nah! I am sure there is just as much sugar in a bowl of cereal and with all the nuts and oats, I am well able to persuade myself that they are better than many other options.....

Other than adding nuts and chocolate, the only other change I made was that instead of adding water, I added milk for a creamier, richer flavour (try using almond milk, rice milk or amazingly delicious hazelnut milk if you are dairy free).


And packet number 3? I had big plans for that one and a whole bunch of ideas using all sorts of combinations of nuts, fruit, spices, sweets or spreads. Unfortunately, I have been given very clear instructions from my daughter to make more of the choc-chip variety to share with her friends at a sleepover. It seems very unfair not to oblige, so the plans will just have to await another opportunity!

I am sharing these cookies with :

Credit Crunch Munch with Fab Food 4 All, and Fuss Free Flavours. With or without a packet mix, oat cookies are cheap, cheerful and versatile.




Free From Fridays with the Recipe Resource on behalf of the Free From Farmhouse.











No Waste Food Challenge with Elizabeth's Kitchen Diary.














Oat, Peanut & Choc Chip Cookies (makes 16 cookies)

Ingredients

1 packet Delicious Alchemy Oat Cookie Mix
75g roasted salted peanuts - rough chopped
75g unsalted butter - melted
30 ml milk
80g milk and/or plain chocolate chunks/chips

melted chocolate to decorate (I used Tesco's Finest Salted Caramel Hot Chocolate Flakes)

Method

  1. Pre-heat the oven to 180 C/350 F/Gas 4 and line a large baking sheet with baking paper.
  2. Put the cookie mix into a large bowl.
  3. Add the chopped roasted peanuts and mix.
  4. Melt the butter in a small heat-proof bowl in the microwave (warm setting for a few seconds).
  5. Add the milk to the melted butter and pour onto the dry ingredients. Mix thoroughly.
  6. Check the mixture is cool and add the chocolate chunks and stir through.
  7. Spoon small rounded piles (or use a cake pop scoop) of the cookie dough onto the baking paper, leaving a space between each for spreading.
  8. Gently flatten each pile of dough with the back of a spoon or flat hand.
  9. Bake for 15 to 18 minutes until golden and just browning at the edges. 
  10. Remove from the oven and cool on the tray for 10 minutes, before transferring to a wire rack.
  11. When the cookies are cold, melt the chocolate for decorating and drizzle over the top. Leave to allow the chocolate to harden. 
Gluten Free Alchemist © 2013-15 unless otherwise indicated

Sunday, 12 July 2015

Chicken & Tarragon Pie (gluten free)


My blog enthusiasm has dropped this week..... It has been a difficult week!

My blog has disappeared from the Google search engine..... completely! No links to the blog home page and no connected page links either. It is there on Bing and Yahoo, but it would appear I have been deleted from Google...... delisted I assume, but with no warning, explanation or logical reasoning. I may have been hacked, but if not, I can only assume I must have broken a rule somewhere along the line. Which rule I have no idea..... All I do is blog a few recipes, connect with a few blog challenges, offer my views on an occasional gluten free product and share a little wisdom and insight into my free from life. Has anyone seen me do anything else?


It seems it is not an unusual thing to have such a calamity and if you search the net, there are lots of similar stories. My problem is that I am not particularly technically minded and can't make head or tail of any of the advice being offered. I seem to be able to find no means of connecting with Google direct to ask whether or why I may have been deleted and the whole episode has resulted in my feeling very disheartened and quite demotivated.

This little blog of mine may not be my business, but I have spent time building it up and am proud of what I have achieved and shared. To be expelled from the club feels harsh and incomprehensible and if I am honest, I simply cannot fathom it.


With the absence of direct links to my own blog on Google, I have also found that another 'blog' called The Gluten-Free Alchemist has appeared. Subtly different title (it just adds a hyphen), with no posts and no content.... It seems a little odd that it has snuck on in my wake...... coincidence? I hope not!

So if anyone out there has any wisdom you can offer, please please get in touch!

Feeling pretty down, I figure pie is a good way to go. I know its been hot, but sometimes comfort food is in order, regardless of the weather and this is one of those times.


I've made this pie a few times now and we love it in our house. The pastry is my favourite gluten free almond pastry, which gives a crisp, short case to the generous, moist, meaty filling. Succulent pieces of chicken breast and little bites of salty bacon mingle with the sweetness of peas and sweetcorn, the aromatic aniseed-flavour of fresh tarragon and a perfectly-seasoned cheese sauce.

I'm pretty pleased with my decorated top to the pie case too. It's amazing how well a few hearts cover up imperfections in the rolling......


I am sharing this lovely, comforting and very delicious pie with the following :


Firstly with Lucy over at Supergolden Bakes who is hosting her very last round of Cook Blog Share. I have loved linking up with Lucy's challenge and am so sad that she is giving it up. She has been a wonderful host! She is also such an incredibly talented blogger, that I am certain I will be following her kitchen antics regularly.

Lucy will be handing the Cook Blog Share reins over to someone else for the future (we don't know who yet), so we won't lose the opportunity to link up and I am sure that whoever takes over will do a great job!


Next : Recipe of the Week with Emily at A Mummy Too.


Free From Fridays this week with Vicki the Free From Fairy as well as Emma from the Free From Farmhouse. Emma is welcoming a new baby into the world so is pretty busy right now!



Chicken & Tarragon Pie (makes 1 x 23 cm/9 inch pie)

Ingredients

Pastry :
195g brown rice flour
75g corn flour
60g ground almonds
1½ teaspoons xanthan gum
¾ teaspoon fine sea salt
165g unsalted butter - cold & cubed
2 large eggs - lightly beaten
1½ tablespoons cold water

Pie Filling :
olive oil (about 2 tablespoons) for frying
3 large (or 4 small) chicken breasts - de-skinned & cut into cubes
6 rashers of back bacon - cut into small pieces
100g sweetcorn kernels
100g peas
30g butter
30g corn flour
280 ml milk
2 teaspoons GF vegetable bouillon powder
100g mature cheddar cheese - grated
2 tablespoons fresh tarragon - chopped
a good pinch/grind of black pepper
1 egg to glaze

Method You can make the pastry either before or after the filling, but the filling will need to be cool before putting in the pie case.

Pastry : Dough Method - by hand

  1. Weigh the flours, almonds, xanthan gum and salt into a large bowl and stir.
  2. Rub the butter into the flour mixture until it resembles breadcrumbs.
  3. In a small bowl, beat the egg with the water and then pour into the crumb mixture.
  4. Stir the wet ingredients into the crumb mixture using a table knife until it begins to clump together.
  5. Bring the dough together with your hands and press into a ball. Knead very briefly to ensure ingredients are fully amalgamated.

By food processor

  1. Weigh the flours, almonds, xanthan gum and salt into the food processor bowl and pulse briefly to  mix together and remove any lumps.
  2. Add the cubed butter to the mixture and pulse again until the mixture resembles breadcrumbs.
  3. In a small bowl, beat the egg with the water and then pour into the food processor with the crumb mixture.
  4. Turn the processor on and mix until the ingredients form a smooth dough. This will not require any further kneading. 
The pie
  1. You will want to roll the pastry out straight away (do not chill in the fridge), using a liberal dusting of corn flour on the work surface and top of the dough/rolling pin to prevent any sticking. Cut off two-thirds of the dough for the base of the pie and wrap the other third in cling film to prevent it drying out. Set aside. Alternatively, you can roll the pastry dough between 2 liberally floured pieces of cling film.
  2. Get ready a 9 inch/23 cm non-stick pie tin and roll out the first piece of pastry dough large enough to fill the base and sides of the pie tin.
  3. Carefully lay the rolled pastry over the tin with the support of the rolling pin and ease into the base, gently moulding into the sides of the tin. Make sure you leave a slight overhang at the edges as you will need this to stick to the lid.
  4. If there are any cracks or holes in the pastry base, use the trimmed remains to 'repair'. - Roll and trim to size, and using cold water, dampen both the area around the crack/hole and the down-side of the 'patch' and gently press together, smoothing the edges with a finger dipped in water to seal and tidy.
  5. Place the pastry base in the fridge to chill until ready to fill.
  6. Filling : In a large saucepan or skillet, heat the olive oil and gently fry the chicken and bacon pieces until cooked through.
  7. Add the sweetcorn and peas and stir through. Cook for a further 3 to 4 minutes and then remove from the pan and drain any excess liquid. Set the chicken mixture aside.
  8. In a large saucepan (you can use the same one), melt the butter and stir in the flour, allowing to cook on the hob for a couple of minutes. This is the start of your roux sauce.
  9. Remove from the heat and stir in the milk a little at a time until all the milk is added and you have a smooth liquid.
  10. Place the pan back on a low heat and stirring continuously, gradually bring to the boil. You should end up with a smooth, thick sauce base.
  11. Add the bouillon powder, grated cheese, tarragon and black pepper and stir through until the cheese is melted and all the ingredients are well combined.
  12. Return the chicken mixture to the pan with the sauce and stir through. If it seems too thick at this stage, add a little more milk and stir, but be careful to ensure the filling remains sturdy as you don't want the pie to become soggy with liquid.
  13. Cool the filling as quickly as you can (stir frequently) and then pour into the pie base.
  14. Roll out the last third of pastry dough so that it is slightly larger than the pie dish. 
  15. Using a pastry brush and some cold water, brush the overhanging edge of pastry in the base and carefully place the newly rolled pastry dough over the top of the pie.
  16. Seal the edges by pressing together with your fingers or a fork.
  17. If you have any cracks or messy bits, you can cover these with pastry cut out into shapes. I used pastry hearts to decorate, but they also nicely covered the messy bits.
  18. Cut three or four small slits or holes in the top of the pastry to let the steam out when cooking.
  19. Place the pie in the fridge to chill for at least half an hour before baking.
  20. Beat the remaining egg with a fork and brush onto the top of the pie to glaze.
  21. Heat the oven to 190 C/375 F/Gas 5 and bake the pie for about 30 to 40 minutes until golden brown and piping hot.
Gluten Free Alchemist © 2013-15 unless otherwise indicated

Wednesday, 8 July 2015

Some of my Favourite Finds at the Free From & Allergy Show 2015


Last weekend I had a wonderful couple of days at the Free From & Allergy Show at Olympia in London. I didn't manage to get there last year and the last time I went, the show was crammed into a smaller hall, which had been quite uncomfortable and had put me off a quick return. The show has moved to the Grand hall however, which not only increased the capacity to help introduce more new (and established) producers and suppliers to an eager (and growing) audience, but made it much more pleasant to explore..... wider isles and a brighter, airier room. Believe me, that extra space for air circulation was seriously welcome this year with the unusually hot weather!

The event was brilliantly organised and congratulations go to the all the team who put it together as well as to all the exhibitors who tirelessly served us with tasters and talked endlessly to inform us about their amazing products.


And my haul? Huge!!!!

I was lucky enough to stay in London overnight and took the wise decision to take the car....... which of course meant that I could bring lots and lots of goodies home with me. These are some of my favourite new discoveries :


First up and a total revelation were some AMAZING loaves from Romeo's Gluten Free Bakery. I would have brought back every loaf they had if I could, but I limited myself to brown, white and seeded. They had a load more varieties including a delicious sundried tomato bread which I was very tempted by. The loaves are probably the best GF bread I have ever had...... Soft, squidgy, nicely flavoured, beautifully moist and perfectly textured........ No crumbling..... No bitter after taste...... No dryness in the back of your throat that leaves you reaching for the water.

On my first day at the show, they also had some delicious spinach and cheese pastries which were wonderfully good too...... I took one away for my tea!


Based in Islington, London, Romeo's is a place I will do my very best to get to very soon. If you ever get a chance to visit, make this an absolute destination point..... I am just praying they find some way to get their products out across the country in the near future.

Next up..... Kirsty's gluten free, dairy free chilled ready meals. Being gluten free, decent, healthy ready meals can be really hard to source. It's not that we choose to eat ready meals as the norm, but life is busy and there are days when you just want to have a meal which doesn't require preparation and these little gems definitely hit the spot for me.

They are delicious, nutritious and full of good stuff and are available (although I have yet to find them) in a number of mainstream supermarkets. I particularly liked the wholesome ingredients (lots of veg, quinoa, brown rice, lentils, etc) and the flavours were distinct but not over-spiced (perfect for the kids).


No G (Too Good To Be Gluten Free) were another revelation, with some amazingly good pastry products. I was bowled over by their gluten free sausage rolls which were being served warm at the show (just as sausage rolls should be)! The pastry was light and flaky and the sausage filling was generous and meaty.

My two favourite drink products :

Rude Health's new Hazelnut Drink is divine! Gluten free and dairy free, it is probably the best 'alternative' milk drink that I have tasted so far. Made with roasted Italian tondo gentile hazelnuts, it is rich and creamy with a distinct flavour of hazelnut in the background. I loved it and can't wait to try using it in baking as well as drinking it straight. I have already tried pouring it on chocolate cereal (Barkat Chocolate Cornflakes which are another favourite of ours)....... gives a sort of 'Nutella' kick to the morning!!


Pip Organic's juices and smoothies also shone for me, both in flavour and quality. All organic, their drinks are full of 100% fruit and their smoothies were thick and satisfying. My daughter is busily drinking her way through all of my stash (she particularly loves the pineapple & mango) and I am going to have to hide a couple of cartons as I have plans to try adding some to ice cream batter....

Pip were also selling some lovely cooling ice lollies made from the same amazing juices (good move on such a hot day!) and I did snaffle a bottle of their fresh, cold pressed apple & cherry juice back to my hotel where it went down incredibly well mixed with Gin and a little tonic!


On the cake front, I was particularly impressed with the luxury offerings from B-Tempted. I am often underwhelmed by commercial gluten free cakes (even some specialist bakery ones)  as they tend to be cloyingly high on sugar content and often dry. Not these! They are subtly sweet and full of exciting flavours. With plenty of ground almonds, they are also superbly moist and very very moreish. It is a good job they come in bite-size portions!

I bought a wonderful selection of their Belgian Chocolate Brownies with Sea Salt; Raspberry, White Chocolate & Pistachio Friands; & Vanilla and Flaked Almond Friands.

As you can see, there are lots of other goodies in my stash....... no doubt some of them will find their way into recipes that I post in the near future.........

Gluten Free Alchemist © 2013-15 unless otherwise indicated

Sunday, 5 July 2015

Mango-Raspberry-Coconut Smoothie-Pud (gluten free/dairy free)


I've had an exhausting weekend visiting the Free From and Allergy Show in London! Found some great new products and old one's that had yet to be discovered by me......

It was great to connect with the producers of these amazing products and also to finally chat with other bloggers at the meet up, organised by the show.

I also finally got to meet the amazing Vicki, the Free From Fairy, who is such an inspiration to myself and to the world of free from cookery. She's clearly a wonderful person too and it was great to connect. Thanks Vicki!


In addition to meeting lots of lovely people, I have had a weekend of scoffing endless samples of gluten free goodies. When there is so much food you have to avoid on a daily basis, it is very exciting and quite overwhelming to be faced with seemingly endless supplies of GF nibbles and it is all too easy to shuffle from stall to stall trying anything you can get your hands on. Some of it is amazingly good. Some of it is not...... But either way, you are tempted to try the lot.......

Today I have felt the need for a post-binge fruit and veg diet...... Straight, fresh and as unprocessed as possible! This smoothie has proved the perfect antidote to a stomach full of processed carbs.

Full of tropical goodness, it is made with fresh, ripe mango, banana, baobab powder coconut milk, raspberries and honey. It tastes so much of summer and with each spoonful, you know you are putting great stuff into your body.


I found the mangos a while ago in Brixton market when I was up there for a meeting. They were big, juicy, proper Caribbean mangos which are so much richer and sweeter than the ones you get in the local supermarket.

The baobab powder is from a company called Aduna who work closely with local communities in Africa, to make sure the Baobab is de-hulled at source to get the best possible product and to ensure the local communities benefit fully from this precious resource. Baobab has amazing nutritional properties and has one of the highest anti-oxidant properties of any fruit in the world.

I first discovered baobab powder from Aduna when I visited the Free From show in 2013. Aduna were there again this year......  You can read about baobab and see a couple of other recipes that I have used it in here (baobab, mint & pineapple sorbet) and here (tropical sorbet).

The main liquid base to this smoothie is coconut milk. It is worth buying a really good quality brand as they can vary considerably. Coconut Merchant produce particularly ethical products, working with local farmers to ensure they are fairly paid and that the produce is high quality. Their coconut milk is delicious!

The raspberries are (of course) in season right now..... plump..... juicy..... fruity red goodness! Mine were sourced locally from our favourite farm shop (Macknade).


The smoothie is really thick, but is incredibly simple to make! More of a pudding than a drink, it would make amazing summer lollies...... To make it that little bit more dessert-like, I have topped it with a sprinkle of desiccated coconut and a handful of chocolate chunks (dairy free) but you can also use carob if you prefer.

It would be divine for breakfast too!

I am sharing my Mango-Rasperry-Coconut Smoothie Pud with the following :

Vegetable Palette with Shaheen at Allotment2Kitchen on account of the raspberries contained within. This month's theme is 'Glorious Reds'.





Shop Local with Elizabeth's Kitchen Diary. The raspberries are local and so was the honey (sourced at a local food fair from my favourite local company Nuts4Honey).









Recipe of the Week with Emily at A Mummy Too.









Free From Fridays with Emma at the Free From Farmhouse.













Mango-Raspberry-Coconut Smoothie-Pud (makes 4 to 5 servings)

Ingredients

1 large ripe mango - peeled and de-stoned
100g fresh raspberries
1 medium banana 
1 tablespoon Baobab powder (optional)
Big squeeze honey (about 1½ tablespoons)
300 ml coconut milk
To serve : a sprinkle of desiccated coconut and some carob or dairy-free dark chocolate (or any other topping you choose)

Method

  1. Put all the ingredients in a blender and blend until smooth.
  2. Pour or spoon into serving glasses and sprinkle with a little desiccated coconut and chocolate/carob.
  3. Enjoy!
Gluten Free Alchemist © 2013-15 unless otherwise indicated