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!

Saturday, 28 May 2016

Goose Egg Frittata with Spiralized Roasted Veg


Frittata! I love this dish! It is full of protein and lots of good stuff and can be eaten as a family meal or taken out in slices for lunch or picnics.

Although you can make it with usual hens eggs (free range are best), at the moment Goose Eggs are in season. If you have never tried a goose egg, I urge you to find a couple. They are not only huge, but they are packed full of fab nutrients and vitamins..... particularly vitamins A, D. E and the various Bs.


Goose egg season runs from about late February/March through to July in the UK. You might find them in farmers markets, farm shops selling local produce and I am told (although I have never seen them) that you might even occasionally spot one in Waitrose.

I am extra lucky though..... I may have mentioned before that Miss GF's childminder has parents with a free range egg farm....... and that means not only do we get amazing hen eggs weekly, but we also have plenty of opportunity to get first dibs on the duck and goose eggs too.


This Frittata uses goose eggs.... two of them (and I added a couple of duck eggs for good measure, given the size of the pan). They are a bit of a pig to crack..... the shells are thick and tough (which interestingly means they stay fresh for longer) and it takes a bit of practice to get them open without the worktop looking like you have smashed a small plate..... but once in there, the first thing you notice is the massive yolk.

Goose eggs have a higher yolk to white ratio than hen eggs, which means they are perfect for a rich, yellow, nutritious Frittata.


You can stuff anything into a Frittata, which is effectively a bit of a cross between a baked omelette and a crustless quiche. Originating in Italy and cooked in a skillet, you can pep it up with anything from veg, meat and fish to pasta and potatoes. My favourite for contrast of flavours is to add a variety of vegetables, either lightly sautéed or roasted before adding the eggs.


With my recent acquisition of a spiralizer, I thought I would try adding some spiralized, roasted vegetables...... I was going to post these separately, but with everything that has been going on for me, I have decided to bundle the two recipes together for simplicity of posting. The roasted veg makes an amazing side dish in itself, especially with the addition of some home-roasted cashew nuts, which give extra crunch and interest. And if you have any left...... whip up a Frittata!

In a Frittata, they are amazing! The spiralizing and roasting processes seem to help enhance and enrich the flavours of the various veg used and make for little sweet taste explosions with every bite of the slightly cheesy egg-bake. Whether fresh and hot, or cold for lunch, this is a great filling meal all in one.


The size of the Frittata I made was enough to serve 6 good-sized portions, but you could make less if your pan isn't as large.

It also tastes lovely with a drizzle of balsamic and oil based salad dressing.

I am sharing my Frittata with the following linkies :


Cook Once Eat Twice with Corina at Searching for Spice.

Simple & in Season with Feeding Boys.



The #FoodYearLinkup with Charlotte's Lively Kitchen - celebrating National Vegetarian Week.






Meat Free Mondays with
Tinned Tomatoes.


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







Free From Fridays with the
Free From Farmhouse.



Cook Blog Share - this week with Snap Happy Bakes.







Tasty Tuesdays with Honest Mum.


No Waste Food Challenge with Elizabeth's Kitchen Diary.

Recipe of the Week with A Mummy Too.








Goose Egg Frittata with Spiralized Roasted Veg (6 servings)

Ingredients

Spiralized Veg (vary veg according to personal preference) 
½ large butternut squash
small sweet potato
2 medium fat carrots
2 large courgettes
olive oil
good sprinkle of thyme (fresh or dried)
salt & pepper to season
large handful raw cashew nuts (roasted with a sprinkle of oil and seasoned with a little salt)

Frittata
large handful of baby button mushrooms (cut in half and fried)
batch of spiralized roasted veg
2 goose eggs + 2 duck or hen eggs (or 7-8 large hens eggs) - beaten
salt and black pepper to season
couple of large handfuls of strong Cheddar cheese (optional)
a large handful freshly chopped parsley and/or basil.

Method

  1. Roasted Vegetables : Heat the oven to 200 C/400 F/Gas 6.
  2. Spiralize the veg with a spiralizer to a medium thickness and transfer it all to a roasting dish.
  3. Drizzle the veg with a good splash of olive oil and season with the thyme and salt and pepper.
  4. Roast in the oven for about 50 minutes, stirring occasionally so that the veg is well-cooked and beginning to caramelise on the edges.
  5. Whilst the veg is cooking, take a large handful of raw cashew nuts and place them in a small oven-proof dish with a very small drizzle of olive oil and a little salt. Stir to coat thoroughly and place in the oven for about 10 minutes (stirring a couple of times during the roasting) until golden. Remove from the oven and place on kitchen towel to remove any excess oil. Set aside.
  6. When the veg is done, remove from the oven and transfer to a serving dish and sprinkle with some of the cashew nuts (reserve a few for the frittata). Eat as it is as a side vegetable dish or use the veg in Frittata.
  7. Frittata : Take a large skillet (completely oven proof - including handle), about 10 inches/26 cm in diameter. Spread a good layer of the spiralized roasted vegetables and cashew nuts in the bottom of the pan. 
  8. Heat the oven to 200 C/400 F/Gas 6.
  9. Cut the mushrooms in half and in a separate small pan fry them lightly in a little olive oil until golden.
  10. Break all the eggs into a large bowl and season with salt and pepper.
  11. Beat to combine and until the eggs appear airy with bubbles. Set aside.
  12. Heat the the vegetables through in the skillet and once hot, scatter the mushrooms over the top evenly.
  13. Sprinkle over a couple of handfuls of cheese (more if you want it to be extra cheesy, less if not)
  14. Pour the egg over the skillet mixture, tilt the pan to spread evenly and then continue to heat the skillet on the hob (medium to high heat) for 3 to 4 minutes until you see the edges beginning to set.
  15. Transfer the whole skillet into the oven and bake for about 10 minutes until the Frittata is completely set.
  16. When cooked, remove from the oven with oven gloves (and please remember the handle is very hot for a while afterwards).
  17. Sprinkle with fresh parsley and/or basil, cut into pieces and serve hot, warm or cold.
Gluten Free Alchemist © 2013-16 unless otherwise indicated

Friday, 20 May 2016

Chocolate Chocolate-Chip Scones with Nutella Mascarpone Cream and Roasted Caramelised Hazelnut Crumbs (gluten free)


They say it never rains, but it pours. I have no idea who 'they' are, but I reckon they may be on to something...... In the midst of a bereavement and trying to organise a trip to the States to say goodbye to my beautiful big brother, my freezer has decided now is the time to go on the blink...... again! Aaaaaaggghhhhhh......

I don't need this..... I'm stressed, exhausted, and very very sad right now. I feel like I am dragging myself out of bed in the mornings and with the help of matchsticks, I'm persuading Miss GF to do the same..... Somehow, I am managing to get her to school..... on time..... and then drive to work and actually converse and advise with some degree of comprehension and purpose, before driving home again and slumping in a knackered heap.


On the plus side..... (let's think 'glass half full' if we can....), a broken freezer means the need to empty it as quickly as possible and make and eat.... lots. Fortunately, I am one of those unusual beings who when sad, still eats and rather more than I want to, instead of losing my appetite. Whilst I could do with losing a few pounds, now is not the time to starve myself.

And although I am less interested than usual, cooking still feels quite therapeutic...... providing I don't have to think too hard.

A good while back, I was lucky enough to win some Pastry Room gluten free Scone Mix via the Free From Fairy. I had used most of it already, but there was still a batch in the freezer, which now needed to be used double-quick. The mix is really convenient, because it comes in 2kg packs, stored in the freezer as a fresh mix, ready to be weighed into portions and whipped up when you fancy a treat.


I had made some sweet plain and some cheese scones with the mix previously. Actually I don't recommend using the mix for savoury scones...... It contains some sugar and although the company suggest you can add cheese to it, they do end up with a rather opposed combination of sugary cheese.

On the other hand, it is a fab mix for a sweeter bake. The texture of the scones is pretty soft and they stay fresh for a good couple of days (or you can freeze them if you don't eat them all in one hit).

I've been in need of a bit of a comfort bake.... and with these scones, I used the base mix to explore its versatility with chocolate. I amended the instructions a fair bit to ensure the right consistency of liquid to dry ingredients..... adding drinking chocolate powder and upping the quantity of egg (from medium to large size) and also increasing the milk a little...... as well as throwing in some chocolate chips for good measure....... Well... everything tastes better with chocolate doesn't it?


If you have a favourite scone mix or home-recipe, then it would be really easy to amend with the same alterations. I will definitely be trying out with a home-mixed scone base.

However you make them, they would be perfect for afternoon tea, picnics, parties, or just because you can....

The scones on their own are really really good. With the Nutella Mascarpone Cream, they are amazing. Add the Roasted Caramelised Hazelnut Crumbs and they are divine.....

I am sharing my yummy scones with the following linkies :


Treat Petite - with Kat, The Baking Explorer (and Cakeyboi). May's theme is Picnic Treats!







Bake of the Week with Casa Costello.









Tea Time Treats with Janie at The Hedge Combers (and Lavender & Lovage). This month's theme is Colourful. I thought long and hard about whether these scones counted as 'colourful'..... It depends on what you like I guess, but you'll find all the elements in the colour wheel of a Dulux paint display, so I figure they're probably okay....



Free From Fridays with Emma at the Free From Farmhouse.











Recipe of the Week with A Mummy Too.









Cook Blog Share - this week with Mandy at Sneaky Veg.









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











Chocolate Chocolate-Chip Scones with Nutella Mascarpone Cream & Roasted Caramelised Hazelnut Crumbs

I made these with a gluten free Pastry Room scone mix (significantly adapted), but you could adapt a home-made scone mix or use an alternative gluten free commercial scone mix

Ingredients


Scones
500g Pastry Room scone mix
2 large eggs (beaten)
100g cold milk (weighed)
50g Galaxy drinking chocolate powder (or an alternative GF brand)
70g dark/milk chocolate chips 
milk to glaze

Roasted Caramelised Hazelnut Crumbs
2 tablespoons chopped roasted hazelnuts
1 tablespoon soft light brown sugar
¼ teaspoon water

Nutella Mascarpone Cream
300 ml double cream
120g Mascarpone cheese
2 tablespoons Nutella
1 tablespoons icing sugar
a few drops hazelnut extract

Method

  1. Scones : Pre-heat the oven to 200 C/400 F/Gas 6. Prepare a couple of baking trays by lining with baking paper.
  2. Put the pastry mix into a large bowl and make a well in the centre. Add the beaten eggs, milk, chocolate powder and chocolate chips and bring together into a sticky dough. You can knead slightly to help the process.
  3. Tip the dough out onto a well-floured surface or floured cling-film and sprinkle the top with a little GF flour as well, to prevent sticking.
  4. Roll the dough to about 3 cm/1½ inches thick.
  5. Use a round pastry cutter 2 to 3 cm in diameter to cut rounds and place them onto the baking tray with a little space between them. 
  6. Bring the remaining dough together and continue the cutting process until all the dough is used.
  7. Place the uncooked scones to one side for about 10 minutes to 'rest'. Whilst they are resting, brush the tops with a little milk to glaze.
  8. Bake for 15 to 20 minutes until well-risen and golden.
  9. Place on a wire rack to cool completely.
  10. Roasted Caramelised Hazelnut Crumbs : Using a very small pan, heat the brown sugar with the water until dissolved and bubbling. 
  11. Add the chopped roasted hazelnuts and stir through over the heat until 'dry'.
  12. Remove from the heat and set the pan aside to cool completely.
  13. Nutella Mascarpone Cream : Whisk all the ingredients together in a large bowl until the cream forms soft peaks.
  14. Serve the scones, cut in half, spread with a generous dollop of Nutella Mascarpone cream and a liberal sprinkling of roasted caramelised hazelnut crumbs.
Gluten Free Alchemist © 2013-16 unless otherwise indicated

Wednesday, 11 May 2016

Japanese Fried Tofu with Egg, Spring Onion and Bonito Flakes - gluten free


It has been more than 2 weeks since I last posted anything here. I am sorry! Life has been difficult and right now, my heart is not really in the blogging 'groove'. Sometimes, things happen in life with such unexpected gravity, that your whole world gets thrown off balance and you find yourself reevaluating everything....... What you do..... how you do it..... how much time you spend doing it..... what should you be doing instead..... whether it really matters and to whom......

You see.... Since I last posted, I lost my big brother. There was nothing wrong with him and he was at one of the happiest points he had ever been in his life. He was simply in the wrong place at the wrong time, when the ground literally crumbled beneath his feet on a cliff edge and he fell to his death.

Suddenly, my own existence and how I live my life has been brought into sharp focus. Amidst the twisted pain that is grief, is the realisation that life is too short to hang around procrastinating and deferring hopes and dreams. Once I am 'through' this, I intend to spend more time with those that are important to me and to step up a gear and start living..... really living!

I may post sporadically for a while as things sink in. I will be away for a short time, travelling to the States (where he lived) in June to say goodbye and to feel a little closer while I am doing that. I have a few posts waiting in the wings, so as and when I get the energy, I will pop them on the blog......


When you experience loss and your eating dips, every meal becomes important, both for nutritional content and for keeping up routine. It is so important to make every calorie count. When I get stressed about normal day-to-day events, I tend to reach for the sweet stuff. At the moment, I seem to be craving nourishing, savoury, slightly salty dishes.

I love this bowl of protein-filled goodness. Unique in its oriental simplicity, I was first introduced to it many years ago when I went to visit a friend in Japan. I was taken to meet some of her good Japanese friends, who shared their hospitality with the same dish, but using an uncut block of tofu. It has remained with me as one of those memorable travel dishes, which has somehow become merged into my UK foodie repertoire.

The tofu gets coated in cornflour and then fried so that it forms a crisp coating around the soft white interior. I was so taken with the combination of textures, that when I re-made it here, the tofu got cut into cubes, so that I got more of the crispy magic.


The fusion of the tofu with egg, spring onion and soy sauce (make sure you use gluten free Shoyu if you need to) which is then broken up, leaves you with a sort of deconstructed Japanese omelette. It's amazing (even if I am not selling it very well)..... really!

And if you have never tried Bonito flakes, but you love the flavour of smoky fish, then I urge you to source some. Although they are not essential to the dish (if you are veggie, you will still enjoy the rest), they do add an extra, very Japanese dimension.

Bonito flakes are fine flakes of dried shaved tuna. They contribute a savoury, slightly fishy, smokiness which is pretty unique. When you sprinkle them on the hot, moist base, they seem to move and bend with the heat, a little like those bright orange fortune fish that came out of Christmas crackers when we were kids and curled with the warmth of your palms. Bewitching and delicious!

....... any perfect for when life is the pits!


I am sharing this Japanese favourite with the following linkies this month :


Alphabakes with The More Than Occasional Baker (and Caroline Makes) - May's letter is F. Slightly tenuous link I know.... but I am going for the Fish Flakes that are Bonito, as well as the fact that the tofu is Fried.







Cook Blog Share, this month with Hijacked by Twins.








Inheritance Recipes with Coffee & Vanilla (and Pebble Soup). This is one of my foodie travel memories that I so wish to pass on to Miss GF, who (phew!) really enjoyed the mingling of flavours in this dish.








Credit Crunch Munch, this month with Utterly Scrummy (& Fuss Free Flavours & Fab Food 4 All).



The Tea Time Treats linky, with Janie over at The Hedge Combers (and Lavender & Lovage), who are asking for colourful entries. I love the subtle colour contrasts of this dish.... they are so appealing!






Tasty Tuesdays with Honest Mum.






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









Recipe of the Week with A Mummy Too.









Gluten Free Fridays with Vegetarian Mamma.


Japanese Fried Tofu with Egg, Spring Onion & Bonito Flakes (serves 2)

Ingredients 

approx 200g tofu - cut into cubes
3 to 4 tablespoons corn flour
oil for frying - vegetable, sunflower or corn
black pepper
2 large eggs - beaten
3 spring onions - trimmed and chopped into 1cm lengths (including green part)
Shoyu gluten free soy sauce
handful Bonito flakes (dried shaved tuna) - optional

Method

  1. Coat the tofu cubes in cornflour, making sure they are well covered and set aside, separated from each other.
  2. Heat about 2 tablespoons oil in a wok or frying pan until very hot and then add the coated tofu to the pan, frying and turning until the coating is crisp and golden on all sides.
  3. Add a good grind of black pepper.
  4. Add the beaten egg to the pan and allow to cook and firm up. As the egg solidifies, break it up a little with a spoon or spatula so that you have pieces of egg and tofu.
  5. Add half the onions and a good splash of GF soy sauce and mix through, allowing the onions to   soften slightly as they mix with the egg and tofu and the flavours mingle.
  6. Turn off the heat and transfer to a serving bowl. Sprinkle with a good handful of Bonito flakes (if using) and the rest of the spring onions and serve.
Gluten Free Alchemist © 2013-16 unless otherwise indicated