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!

Sunday, 24 April 2016

Chocolate-Mint 'After Eight' Ice Cream Cake Sandwiches (gluten free)


This...... is......DIVINE! It has to be the best dessert I have made in ages. It takes a little work to pull together, but it is SO worth it.

'A little work' does not mean that it is difficult however...... The chocolate sponge is pretty basic and the very minty chocolate-chip ice-cream sandwiched in-between is a straight forward no-churn blend.


Inspired by this month's Treat Petite challenge which invites entries linked with 'favourite sweets, chocolates and biscuits', these amazing Chocolate-Mint Ice Cream Cake Sandwiches are a dessert version of one of my best-loved sweetie treasures..... the After Eight.

For anyone out there reading this who has not eaten an After Eight before, they are a delicate mint chocolate consisting of a thin layer of very minty white fondant, coated in a layer of dark chocolate. Simple but very very moreish.....


These Chocolate-Mint 'After Eight' Ice Cream Cake Sandwiches are made to mimic the fundamental flavours of the said confection..... Two layers of dense, deeply-flavoured and slightly chewy chocolate cake, wrapped around a thick layer of intensely cool, minty white ice-cream, shot through with little fragments of chopped minty dark chocolate for added texture and then topped with a creamy chocolate layer for extra decadence. Heaven!

When making this cake, I wanted to make sure it packed a vivid minty punch. I had made a no churn mint ice cream previously (simply not good enough to share) which  seriously lacked the required coolness. For this ice cream, I have not only ensured a good dose of natural peppermint extract in the mix, but also used a dark mint chocolate for the chocolate chips within.


The sponge gains extra depth of flavour from the inclusion of a strong Espresso infusion alongside the use of melted dark chocolate blended in the bake. The consistency is such that when frozen, it is firm enough to be held, yet soft enough to bite into the cool, exhilarating taste-bud awakening, minty interior.

To make these sandwiches extra special, they are topped with a layer of 'magic' chocolate...... A blend of more melted dark mint chocolate and a little coconut oil, the liquid chocolate created by this combination hardens on contact with the cold cake, ensuring a crisp, smooth, but melt-in-the-mouth layer of loveliness.


The heart-shapes of After Eight made using a small cookie cutter tie the whole experience together, along with a sprinkle of crystallised mint leaves that add an optional additional curious crunch. I had never eaten crystallised mint leaves before, but found some on-line at Sous Chef when I was buying some Christmas presents..... Crispy, sweet, nobbles of mintyness, they are fantastic as a side-sprinkle. Don't you just love trying new things?


I am sharing these amazing Chocolate-Mint 'After Eight' Ice Cream Cake Sandwiches with the following linkies :


Treat Petite with Cakeyboi and The Baking Explorer..... This month celebrating favourite sweets, chocolates and biscuits.







Cook Blog Share with Hijacked by Twins.









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



Gluten Free Fridays with Vegetarian Mamma.











Bake of the Week with Casa Costello.











Free From Fridays with the Free From Farmhouse.











Recipe of the Week with A Mummy Too.


Chocolate-Mint 'After Eight' Ice Cream Cake Sandwiches

Ingredients (for one 9 x 9 inch (23 x 23 cm) sponge (16 mini sandwiches)

Chocolate Cake 
135g dark chocolate - chopped
130g unsalted butter - cubed
1 tablespoon instant espresso powder
65ml boiling water
135g plain gluten free flour blend (I used blend A from this post)
½ teaspoon xanthan gum
1½ teaspoons GF baking powder
¼ teaspoon fine sea salt
130g soft light brown sugar
100g golden caster sugar
20g cocoa powder
2 large eggs
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
80 ml plain yoghurt

Mint-Choc-Chip Ice Cream
1 tin (397g) sweetened condensed milk - chilled
450 ml double cream
90g mint dark chocolate (Green & Blacks is gluten free) - finely chopped
4 teaspoons natural peppermint extract

Mint-Chocolate Topping
150g dark mint chocolate - chopped
2 tablespoons coconut oil

Decoration - optional
After-Eight chocolates - cut with a heart-shaped cutter
crystallised mint leaves

Method

  1. Cake : Pre-heat the oven to 170 C/325 F/Gas 3 and base-line a square 9 x 9 inch (23 x 23 cm) loose-bottomed baking tin with baking paper.
  2. Place the can of condensed milk for the ice cream into the fridge to chill for later. You may wish to set the freezer to 'fast-freeze' also, to get the temperature as low as possible ready for the ice cream.
  3. In a glass heat-proof bowl, melt the chocolate (135g) and butter together, either over a pan of simmering water or in a microwave on 30 second bursts (medium setting) stirring between each. Stir until thoroughly combined and smooth and set aside.
  4. Mix the boiling water with the instant coffee in a small bowl/cup, to dissolve and set aside.
  5. In a bowl, weigh and mix together the flour, xanthan gum, baking powder, salt, sugars and cocoa powder, making sure any lumps are completely broken down. Set aside.
  6. In a large bowl, whisk the eggs until thickened and pale and lifting the whisk leaves a trail. 
  7. Add the vanilla extract, chocolate and coffee mixtures, and yoghurt and beat again until smooth and combined.
  8. Add the dry ingredients and fold in thoroughly. 
  9. Pour the mixture into the prepared baking tin and bake for about 50 minutes until the cake is cooked and a skewer inserted comes out clean. 
  10. Leave to cool in the tin for 15 minutes before turning onto a wire rack to cool completely.
  11. When the cake is cold, slice horizontally through the middle so that you have two even layers (you may find this easier if you have refrigerated the cake for about an hour first).
  12. Take the same (now clean) cake tin that you used for baking and line the base and sides with baking paper.
  13. Place the base half of the sponge into the cake tin and put in the fridge to cool.
  14. Whilst cooling, you can make the Ice Cream : In a large bowl, whisk the cream until it forms soft peaks (be careful not to over-whisk). When the cream is starting to thicken slightly (and before it reaches soft-peak stage), add the peppermint extract and continue to whisk.
  15. Add the chilled condensed milk and finely chopped mint chocolate and gently fold through, being careful to maintain as much air as possible.
  16. Pour the ice cream mixture onto the chilled chocolate cake and spread to make an even layer.
  17. Place this base ice cream layer (without the top sponge) into the freezer to start the freezing process.
  18. When the ice cream is beginning to firm up (but still tacky), carefully place the top sponge layer on top of the ice cream and gently push down to help it fuse with the ice cream.
  19. Place back into the freezer to fully harden.
  20. Meanwhile, make the Mint Chocolate Topping : melt the chopped mint dark chocolate in a glass heat-proof bowl (either over a pan of lightly simmering water or in a microwave on medium setting (30 second bursts), stirring frequently until melted and smooth.
  21. Add the coconut oil and stir through to melt, until smooth. The mixture will become a looser liquid as the coconut oil melts into the chocolate. 
  22. Set aside until the cake is almost fully frozen and then spoon and spread the chocolate topping over the top of the cake (still in the cake tin) evenly. The topping will set as it comes into contact with the cold sponge.
  23. Place back into the freezer until fully set and frozen.
  24. Once frozen, you can carefully remove the whole cake from the baking tin, peeling back the baking paper. Trim off the sides to make tidy and then slice into squares. Place the slices back into the freezer (at usual temperature) to store until ready to eat. If you are going to decorate with After-Eight hearts, you can add these before storing in the freezer.
Gluten Free Alchemist © 2013-16 unless otherwise indicated

Tuesday, 19 April 2016

Mini Toad in the Hole (or Yorkshire Puddings with Mini Sausages) - gluten free


What do you think of these beauties? Light, crispy gluten free Yorkshire Pudding gently encasing mini cocktail sausages...... The perfect comfort food..... Toad in the Hole.

Best smothered in home-made onion gravy, there is something about eating Toad in the Hole which makes you feel both satisfied and smug. It's one of those dishes which gives a big cuddle with every mouthful and can bring a smile to the most miserable of moods. What's not to love?

Having played with various combinations of flour over several trial runs to get a really good batter, I think I have reached a point of gluten free Yorkie heaven....... Made with a straight forward combination of easy to source sorghum, tapioca and corn flours, this is a batter which rises well, turns deep golden and tastes crisp and delicious.


Whether for large or mini Yorkies or Toads, it has worked well for me every time. The trick (as with wheat-based Yorkies) is to make sure the batter is well whisked and the oil is really hot before pouring the batter into the pan. Never open the oven door whilst the batter is rising either..... unless you are aiming for certain deflation!

If you are gluten free, it goes without saying (although I will remind you anyway) to make sure your sausages (whether big or small) are safe for your consumption...... This is where you really luck out.... Gluten free sausages (for the most part) have a far higher meat content and way less junk in them..... they won't usually be stuffed full of rusk to pad them out, and whilst you may pay a bit more for them, they are generally made with superior cuts of meat and taste way better than bog-standard bangers!


The choice of gluten free sausages has increased dramatically in the last 5 years. When we were first faced with having to find them, there were hardly any about (I remember complaining to Tesco in a GF survey they ran), but with the explosion of gluten free awareness and eating, it seems many of the major manufacturers and supermarket own brands have had to catch up and make sure they are part of the 'GF gang'.

The sausage of choice in our house (for large sausages) is usually Heck. Unfortunately, they don't appear to make cocktail sausages, so for these mini Toads I have used Tesco's Finest Outdoor Bred Cocktail Sausages. Another favourite of ours are sausages from The Good Little Company. Not only do they do delicious sausages (big, small and teeny weeny) but they very ethically give 50% of their profits to fight poverty. We get ours in Waitrose, but sadly I couldn't find any left in our freezer when I needed them and the nearest store was too many miles away...

I am so pleased to have cracked a good Yorkie batter..... Miss GF has spent years looking in envy when we've been out for Sunday lunch, as friends have scoffed big puffs of crispy-baked batter slathered in gravy with their Sunday roasts. It's so not fair!

Well..... not any more Miss GF..... Here is your very own special gluten free pud. Save this recipe for your future and enjoy. It's yours!


.........Is it okay if I just share it with the rest of gluten free cyberspace? Maybe it would be selfish just to keep to ourselves? Perhaps a few good friends? How about......

Alphabakes - This month with Caroline Makes (along with Ros over at The More Than Occasional Baker). April's letter is T...... for Toad of course....









Recipe of the Week with A Mummy Too.







Tea Time Treats - With Karen at Lavender & Lovage (as well as Janie at The Hedgecombers). April's tea time table celebrates Local & Regional Recipes. Toad in the Hole is one of those quirky, traditional British dishes made with Yorkshire Pudding and originating in the North of England.




Free From Fridays with Emma at the Free From Farmhouse.



Inheritance Recipes with Pebble Soup (and Coffee & Vanilla). Toad in the Hole and Yorkshire Puddings were a much-loved dish in my childhood and it would be a travesty if I couldn't pass this love onto my daughter.







Sunday Fitness & Food with Marathons & Motivation (and IlkasBlog).










#FoodYearLinkup with Charlotte's Lively Kitchen - Celebrate St George's Day on April 23rd with this uniquely English dish!


Mini Toad in the Hole (makes 12 Yorkshire Puddings or Mini Toadies)

Ingredients 

24 gluten free cocktail sausages
3 large eggs
30g sorghum flour
20g tapioca starch (flour)
50g cornflour
150 ml milk
½ teaspoon fine sea salt
sunflower/vegetable oil


Method

  1. Pre-heat the oven to 220 C/425 F/Gas 7 and prepare a 12 hole non-stick muffin tin by putting a drizzle of oil in the bottom of each hole and brushing round the sides.
  2. Prepare the batter by placing the eggs, flours, milk and salt in a medium sized bowl and whisking until light and airy. Set aside, but keep the whisk handy.
  3. Part-roast the mini sausages for 5 to 10 minutes in a little oil in a separate baking dish (longer if making a standard-sized toad in the hole with large sausages). 
  4. Whilst the oven is hot, heat the oiled muffin tin for a few minutes so that the oil is really hot. Just before you take the pan out of the oven, give the batter a final quick whisk.
  5. Remove the muffin tin from the oven and quickly pop two part-cooked cocktail sausages in each muffin hole and top with batter to about half full.
  6. Bake for about 20 minutes until the batter is well-risen and deep golden. Do not open the oven door while cooking (for the first 15 minutes at least). Use the oven light to check the Yorkshire Pudding progress. 
  7. When ready, remove from the oven, ease from the tins with a silicone spatula and enjoy!
 Gluten Free Alchemist © 2013-16 unless otherwise indicated

Saturday, 16 April 2016

Joseph Joseph The Dial™ Storage - A Review


Anyone who reads my blog regularly will know that I hate food waste. Unless it is crawling out of the larder or fridge, we will find some way to use it...... Perhaps not immediately, but (hopefully) within a timeframe where it is safe to eat and isn't going to end up poisoning us!

That timeframe however is the tricky part....... We end up with left-over bits and bobs scattered across every shelf in our fridge. From cocktail sausages and leftover roast lamb and bolognese...... to piddly amounts of rice, roasted veg and an occasional baked potato..... You'll even find cake cut-offs, leftover trifle and the remains of Sunday's mousse cake..... It's all there.


We use a range of containers to store food in...... We keep a handful of bought tupperware-type storage, which we must have owned for the last century judging by the tomato-stained insides, but mostly we use empty ice cream tubs for larger amounts and seemingly endless small Philadelphia Cheese pots for handfuls of this and that, none of which we ever label and none of which you can see in to from the outside, thus necessitating constant opening and closing of lids to ensure the chilli ends up in the frying pan rather than the custard.

Worst of all, we generally have no idea when it got deposited in the fridge and end up racking our brains to try and remember what we cooked when, in order to decipher whether it may still be safe to eat. If we aren't sure or can't work out which of the several pots of rice, mash or beans went in first, we have no choice but to ditch the lot...... and that is an absolute travesty in our house, even if it does prevent 'certain death' by food poisoning.


Enter Joseph Joseph The Dial™ Storage....... Oh yes.... Their inventive designers have come up with an ingenious way to ensure we never have to play tummy-bug roulette ever again! These very clever food containers have lids complete with a dateable dial that you can choose to set either for when you put the food in them, or for when you need to eat it by. Genius! Simply turn the dial clockwise to set the month and anti-clockwise to set the day.

They come in a range of sizes - Rectangular 0.7, 1 and 2.4 litre capacity and square 0.9 or 1.2 litre capacity. Buy them individually or in sets of 3 or 5 rectangular containers. They even do Dial™ Baby food storage containers with baby portion-sized snack pots that fit neatly inside a larger datable container..... Perfect for when you batch-prepare your home-made baby food or puree and need safe mini storage.

All the containers are freezer safe, making them versatile for longer-term food-keeping. The bases are also dishwasher and microwave safe (the dial lids are not microwave safe and it is recommended that they are hand-washed.... Not such a big deal as they are shaped in an easy-wash design, that enables the inside 'corners' to be reached with a sponge).


So what do I make of them?

I have been testing my stackable set of 5 Dial™ Storage for the last 3 weeks and I think they are great. They are sturdy and feel well-built and because they stack, they store neatly away when not being used. Sure, the lids are much heavier than other food containers that I have used (as a result of the Dial™ mechanism), but that has not been an issue in using them..... If anything the extra weight gives them an extra-boosted sense of quality.

The dials, which change date and month are easy to set and seem to be quite difficult to accidentally knock out of alignment, meaning the date you set stays put. I did smile though when I first used the two-way turn mechanism for displaying the date..... it really is very clever!

The fact that the tubs come in a range of sizes means that you only take up fridge space for the leftovers being saved and their clean-lined, flat-lidded, clear plastic design ensures that you can stack them in the fridge too for extra space-saving....... And you can see what is in them without opening the lid....Yay!


Yes.... I'm impressed...... They are innovative, well-made and are positively designed to help in the fight against food waste. Love them!

The cost of these containers ranges from £9 to £14 for single containers and up to £45 for a set of five. I think for what you are getting as well as for piece of mind, that's a reasonable price..... I suspect they will last a long time too....

Right now, I know that the lovely Choclette over at Tin & Thyme has an opportunity to bag yourself a set of Dial™ Storage in a giveaway (closing date 4th May 2016). So head on over to her blog for a chance to win!


With thanks to Joseph Joseph for providing the Dial Storage to review. I was not paid to write the post and was not required to write a positive review. As always, all views expressed here are my own.

Gluten Free Alchemist © 2013-16 unless otherwise indicated

Tuesday, 12 April 2016

Roasted Vegetable Soup with gluten free 'Croutons' and Crispy-Fried Parsley - the Second Soup!


I had every intention of posting this at the weekend, but we had guests, who rightly took priority over my spending hours at a computer. Actually it was great to have a break. Much as I love my blogging experience (it is often my sanity in the chaos of family life), I have been struggling in the last few weeks to find the time to do it justice without a huge chunk out of family time.

I have had to give myself the periodical pep-talk about it not being my 'bread and butter' and that when it is a struggle, it is fine to step back for a while...... But I do feel a commitment to my bloggy baby and always feel a tinge of neglectful guilt when I set it aside.....

My last post was for a delicious Spiralized Oriental Courgette-Noodle Soup which was made with a home-made vegetable broth. The roasted vegetables that formed the base to that broth before it was sieved, were simply too good to waste, so I made a decision that they should be turned into a second soup.


And here it is...... along with some quick-fried gluten free 'Croutons' to add a bit of bite and some Crispy Fried Parsley.

I will be honest, the soup is a little nondescript after the wonderfulness of its spiralized and Oriental-infused twin...... but it is warming, filling and good for you and with a little added seasoning and some chilli powder, it makes for a great lunch (or four). The Croutons add an extra dimension to perk it up and the iron-rich parsley, which is speed-fried in hot oil so that it crisps up (a little like crispy seaweed in texture), provides an extra interest element.


I did consider whether to bother blogging it after the triumph of it's 'better' sister, but somehow it felt a little discriminatory not to....... and plated and photographed, I decided it redeemed itself with its beautiful rich golden hue and its attractive crispy accompaniments.


And just to show no favouritism, I am going to share it with the following linkies :


No Waste Food Challenge with Elizabeth's Kitchen Diary.








Credit Crunch Munch - this month being guest-hosted by From Plate to Pen (on behalf of Fuss Free Flavours and Fab Food 4 All). I can honestly say that this is probably the cheapest and longest lasting (set of) meals I have had in ages!


Extra Veg with Utterley Scrummy (& Fuss Free Flavours). This soup is pretty much entirely veg!









Cook Once Eat Twice with Searching for Spice. Okay..... I know I entered the original Spiralized soup, but it seemed unjust not to enter the additional eat twice (three times, four times.....) dish.







No Croutons Required with Tinned Tomatoes and Lisa's Kitchen.











Roasted Vegetable Soup

Ingredients & Method

See this post and follow the instructions for the Vegetable Broth (You can vary the vegetables that you put in as you choose)

Take the vegetables that have been strained from the mix (and either top up with a little water, or leave with the broth if not making a separate soup).
Liquidise the whole lot and season with a little extra salt and pepper and maybe a hit of chilli powder to taste.

For the Croutons 

Take a couple of slices of gluten free bread (I used my gluten free Brown Bread-Maker Loaf).
Slice into bite-size cubes.
Fry in a little hot olive or vegetable oil for a few minutes, turning until golden and crisp.
Remove from the oil and place on a couple of sheets of kitchen paper to soak-off the excess oil.

For the Crispy-Fried Parsley

Grab a handful of fresh parsley and rip it in half.
Using a little hot olive or vegetable oil (you can use the oil from the croutons), drop the parsley in the pan (be careful - it will spit and crackle loudly) and stir through, cooking for a couple of minutes. Be careful not to over-brown the parsley or it will taste bitter. 
Remove from the pan and place on kitchen paper to soak off the excess oil.

Gluten Free Alchemist © 2013-16 unless otherwise indicated

Wednesday, 6 April 2016

Spiralized Oriental Courgette-Noodle Soup (with homemade vegetable broth)


One of my recent birthday presents was a Spiralizer. Although it was totally unexpected in that I hadn't actually asked for one, I think my family had had enough of me saying 'I must get one of those' and decided to end the monotony of the statement.

Actually it was Miss GF that insisted on buying it....... She wasn't however thinking of me when she chose the model, instead only considering the pictures on the side of the box and telling Mr GF that we needed one 'which would make spiral potato chips'..... Marketing departments take note!

Either way, I am very happy with my gift...... I have indeed wanted a spiralizer for a good couple of years, and am looking forward to making all sorts of new dishes with it.


As for spiral potato chips? Miss GF will just have to wait...... I am feeling particularly in need of some fresher veggie options at the moment. I desperately need to lose a few pounds and am hoping that my new toy will be just the motivation I need to choose some green and lean alternatives to the excess of carbs.

This is my very first spiralized meal...... Oriental Courgette-Noodle Soup, made with homemade Vegetable Broth...... Fresh, flavoursome, healthy and delicious.

It was originally just going to be a straight spiralized courgette soup, but when I popped into my local greengrocers at the weekend, I was drawn to and persuaded to buy some perfumed Krachai root..... a popular Thai ingredient which is apparently a relative of the ginger family and tastes similar, if a little less stringent. The root looks like a bunch of fingers joined together at the end by a nobbly rhizome, but tastes amazing, being most commonly added I understand, to seafood dishes. If you can't get hold of any, don't worry.... ginger will suffice.


Back in the greengrocers and root in hand, my soup began to take a different and more interesting direction....... In my mind I was transported to warmer climes, heading South and East equatorially-bound to the flavours and aromas of the Orient.....

Looking along the shelves of colourful fruit, veg, herbs and spices in the greengrocers I picked up a mix of alternative ingredients fused between local and exotic..... a handful of rich and chewy shiitake mushrooms, a lovely fresh bunch of pungent wild garlic, a couple of small and powerful Bird's Eye chillies, and a large bunch of crunchy spring onions...... All bagged up I set off home, ready to concoct and create...

The base to this soup is an amazing home-made vegetable broth made with fresh vegetables and herbs, roasted for extra depth and intensity of flavour and then slow-cooked in liquid over a good couple of hours to allow the whole lot to mingle and infuse.

The advantage with splitting the clear broth from the vegetables once they have all been cooked up, is that you get double the meals..... two soups in one! The clear, sieved broth is used for the oriental noodle soup and then the remaining veg is liquidised with a little extra liquid to produce a thick, warming earthy vegetable soup.


You can use any veg for the broth..... whatever takes your fancy (or is lying around in your larder), but if you want a clearer soup I would avoid potato or anything that is too starchy.

If you need to eat gluten free, make sure you use gluten free Shoyu instead of standard soy sauce..... Definitely a must in any gluten free larder!

Although this is essentially a vegan dish, if you don't choose to be veggie, then you may wish to add a sprinkle of Bonito flakes (dried shaved tuna flakes) when you serve. I first had these when I visited Japan many many years ago, but I love the savoury slightly fishy hint they give to some soups and tofu dishes. They are pretty difficult to source, but I recently managed to find some in a town nearby in an oriental supermarket and decided to throw some on the soup as an after-thought at the table. They are not by any means necessary however, so don't go hunting for them!

Anyway..... this soup is amazing.... the spiralized courgettes are as tasty as they are fun..... they pair brilliantly with the less local ingredients and give the broth extra substance and interest. The cleansing ginger is just what the Spring palate needs and the warming chilli hit will wake the tastebuds after their winter slumber. Fresh and exciting, this is a soup for the season....


I am sharing my first delicious spiralized efforts with a whole bunch of linkies for April :

Cook Once Eat Twice with Searching for Spice. The slow-cooked vegetables are used to make both the vegetable broth for this soup and also a liquidised vegetable soup.








Extra Veg with Utterly Scrummy (& Fuss Free Flavours) - There's definitely an extra portion or more in this meal!









Recipe of the Week with A Mummy Too.









Cooking with Herbs with Lavender & Lovage. April's theme is Easter & Spring herbs. This soup uses parsley, coriander and a goodly handful of fresh wild garlic.





Cook Blog Share, this week with Sneaky Veg.


Eat Your Greens - this month with The VegHog (and Allotment2Kitchen). Lots of green stuff here!






No Croutons Required with Tinned Tomatoes and Lisa's Kitchen. This is fundamentally a veggie, vegan soup. (The Bonito flakes are very much an optional extra)









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










Slow Cooked Challenge with Baking Queen 74 and Farmersgirl Kitchen April's challenge is based around Spring Ingredients. This soup has a slow-cooked vegetable broth at its heart and is full of veg, including seasonal spring onions, broccoli, leek, carrots, celery and herbs, including local wild garlic.









Oriental Courgette-Noodle Soup (with home-made vegetable broth) serves 4

Ingredients - for the vegetable broth

2 large onions
1 large red pepper
5 large cloves garlic
1 leek
2 sticks celery
small head broccoli
1 fennel bulb
3 large carrots 
Large handful of fresh parsley
Large handful fresh coriander
good grind black pepper
good grind salt (I used pink Himalayan salt)
olive oil
boiling water

Method

  1. Pre-heat the oven to 200 C/400 F/Gas 6.
  2. Peel, trim and rough-chop all the vegetables and place in a large roasting tin with a good drizzle of olive oil.
  3. Add the herbs.
  4. Toss the vegetables in the oil to coat and then add the black pepper and salt. Toss again.
  5. Roast in the oven for about an hour, stirring occasionally to prevent the edges burning.
  6. When cooked, remove from the oven and place all the roasted veg in a slow cooker (or very large saucepan). Add an extra good grind of salt.
  7. Add enough water to cover the vegetables by about 4 to 5 cm (1½ to 2 inches).
  8. Slow-cook on maximum for about 3 hours (or slight simmer on the hob for about 2 to 3 hours).
  9. When cooked, allow to cool.
  10. Use a sieve to drain and separate the liquid (vegetable stock) into a large jug/soup storage container and set aside. Save the vegetables into a separate storage container (topped up with a little water) to liquidise later and make vegetable soup.

Additional Ingredients - for the Oriental Courgette-Noodle Soup

2 large/3 medium courgettes 
3 to 4 Krachai finger-roots or a small piece of ginger (peeled and cut into slivers)
1 red bird's eye chilli - deseeded and finely chopped
5 to 6 shiitake mushrooms - sliced
a couple of tablespoons GF shoyu sauce (GF soy sauce) - to taste
3 spring onions (scallions) (including leaves/green part) - trimmed and chopped into 1 cm lengths
large handful wild garlic leaves (washed but not chopped)
olive oil

very optional sprinkle of Bonito flakes (dried shaved tuna) if you are not veggie

Method

  1. Trim and spiralize the courgette on medium noodle setting and set aside.
  2. Heat a good splash of olive oil in large soup-saucepan over a medium heat and when hot, gently sauté the Krachai (or ginger) and chilli for about 2 minutes to soften and infuse the oil. 
  3. Add the sliced shiitake mushrooms and a tablespoon water and cook for a further couple of minutes, stirring intermittently to allow the mushrooms to begin to sweat.
  4. Add the clear vegetable stock that you made earlier (about 1½ litres - top up with boiling water if you need to).
  5. Add also the shoyu sauce to taste and half of the chopped spring onions. Bring the broth to the boil and then simmer for about 5 to 10 to allow the flavours to mingle.
  6. Add the wild garlic leaves and simmer for a further 3 to 5 minutes.
  7. Finally add the spiralized courgette and stir through. Simmer for 2 to 3 minutes until the courgette is soft and flexible (be careful not to over-cook).
  8. Ladle into your serving dish(es) and sprinkle the remaining spring onions on top. Also add a sprinkle of Bonito flakes (if using). Enjoy!
 Gluten Free Alchemist © 2013-16 unless otherwise indicated