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, 27 July 2016

Cherry-Chocolate Brownie Ice Cream (no churn)


One of the highlights of our summer is cherries! We can't get enough of them.

Kent is not called the Garden of England for nothing and at this time of year it is at its best with a seemingly perpetual supply of fresh local fruit and veg to be found. Little stalls selling anything from strawberries and potatoes to apples, pears, plums and carrots start appearing at the roadsides, brought fresh from the fields for our enjoyment. But our favourites are definitely the cherries..... and for those we visit the local orchards and buy them fresh from the trees in paper bags...... ready to gorge on, cook with, freeze or preserve for the months ahead. My very favourite orchard is Terry's orchard which is the quaintest and most adorable place to visit..... Tall tall cherry-picking ladders which seem to reach for the sky, and the fattest juiciest cherries in town.


Every year, I make a few jars of candied cherries using this recipe which originated from David Lebovitz. They bring a little of the flavour of summer to dishes when the weather chills and taste amazing swirled into greek yoghurt. They are also perfect in ice cream!

I have also recently been trying to play with various brownie recipes and adding different fruits or sugars or nuts...... consequently we have had brownies coming out of our ears and everyone is feeling a little 'brownied-out'.


With one of our freezers having been out of action for a couple of months, we are also limited by how much we can store, so trying to find quick ways to 'get rid of' the excess is becoming a bit of a sport. Some gets eaten straight away of course and some gets given away, but it is also an opportunity to get extra creative and to find new ways to eat the excess......

And so my Cherry-Chocolate Brownie (no churn) Ice Cream came to be..... and boy, did it go down well in the recent heat-wave.


Beautifully creamy, perfectly pink and dotted with sweet red cherries and chewy bites of brownie. Miss GF was particularly taken by it....... appearing with gluten free cones and those pleading 'puppy dog' eyes asking 'I know I had some after lunch, but can I have some more now?' How could I refuse?  I had to agree, it was very very moreish......

You could use any left over brownie for this ice cream, but I used some which was well-laden with nuts and that gave the ice cream extra crunch and interest.

When it comes to photos though....... perhaps the hottest day of the year is not the best time for ice cream pics.....


I am sharing this yummy ice cream with the following linkies :


#TheFoodCalendar with Charlotte's Lively Kitchen - celebrating National Cherry Day

The No Waste Food Challenge with Utterly Scrummy on behalf of Elizabeth's Kitchen Diary.





Simple & in Season with Feeding Boys.


Free From Fridays with the Free From Farmhouse.




Tasty Tuesdays with Honest Mum


Cook Blog Share with Snap Happy Bakes




We Should Cocoa with Tin and Thyme


Recipe of the Week with A Mummy Too


Cherry-Chocolate Brownie Ice Cream (no churn) - makes 1½ to 2 litres

Ingredients

300g candied cherries (from this recipe)
1 tin (397g) sweetened condensed milk
500 ml double cream
2 teaspoons vanilla extract
3 to 4 squares of chocolate brownie - cut into small cubes

Method

  1. Mix the condensed milk with the candied cherries in a bowl and place in the fridge to chill.
  2. Whisk the cream and vanilla extract until it holds its shape in soft peaks. 
  3. When the cherry mixture is chilled, add a spoonful of the whipped cream and stir through to loosen it slightly.
  4. Fold through the remaining cream lightly and quickly to maintain as much air as possible.
  5. Place the bowl of ice cream batter in the freezer to begin to freeze. Keep an eye as you don't want it to get too hard, but after a couple of hours (approx) when the mixture has begun to thicken, remove from the freezer and quickly fold through the brownie pieces. 
  6. Transfer the ice cream to airtight containers and return to the freezer until fully firmed and frozen.
Gluten Free Alchemist © 2013-16 unless otherwise indicated

Friday, 22 July 2016

Something Happened to my Favourite British Lovemore O'Choco Gluten Free 'Oreo' Alternative......


Something has happened to my favourite gluten free alternative to the ubiquitous 'Oreo' biscuit and I am annoyed! Bear with me on this.....

Back in December 2014 I did a comparison of the various gluten free biscuits which showed similarity with the Oreo..... at that time there were three. My firm favourite was the O'Choco brand made by Lovemore foods. The things I most loved about them was the perfect darkness of the crumb which formed a crisp, smooth, not overly sweet chocolate biscuit sandwiched round sweet, silky vanilla cream.

Whilst it is now some years since I ate gluten, it is still in close-enough history for me to remember the experience of eating Oreos. They are good memories..... Oreos are distinctive in appearance, texture and flavour. When you have been able to eat them and then you can't (because of course they contain nasty intolerant glutenous ingredients), then you miss them.


Finding O'Chocos somehow made things better! They were as close as I had come to my memories of enjoying Oreos and for that I was grateful and happy. Even on my recent trip to the States (the century-old home of the Oreo), I could not find an alternative that came any closer than the O'Choco (although the KinniToos Chocolate Vanilla Sandwich Creme Cookies are pretty good).....

So why am I annoyed?

At the recent Allergy & Free From Show in London, I paid a visit to see the guys from Lovemore. It seems that those amazing O'Chocos have had a 'facelift'........ they didn't need a facelift...... they didn't ask for a facelift....... The chaps at Lovemore didn't choose to give them a facelift either....... So why (you may ask) has it happened? Well....... apparently those 'familiar' O'Chocos may have trodden on a few toes and threatened to be too much like the real thing!  The lawyers got in touch....... and the rest is history....


The mouldings that stamp the pattern on the biscuit had to be changed and the characteristic deep dark hue had to be toned up (can you really claim the colour of a biscuit as yours??) so there could be no confusion...... this biscuit is not an Oreo!

Okay..... so O'Chocos still taste great, (although psychologically, their changed appearance does challenge the brain to believe you are eating the same thing) but It frustrates me that big powerful companies can wield so much control...... Sure they have to defend their interests and protect their designs...... I get that..... Oreos are iconic...... but O'Chocos were never Oreos. How could they be? They are gluten free..... An alternative biscuit for us gluten-intolerants who don't want to feel left out and want to be able to join the party...... just like everyone else.

When you have a child who wants to be like her friends and fit in with the crowd, having something that looks the part, matters!

If Nabisco US or Mondelez UK wish to make a gluten free biscuit that is equal and comparable to an Oreo, then sending in the boys to the 'imposters' may be a valid response. As a result of their hissy fit, we (in the UK at least...... it would appear that Stateside, KinniToos still seem to be getting away with looking virtually identical...) have been robbed of our fraternal substitute.


Frustration vented, I can now get back to the new-look O'Chocos....... No they don't look like Oreos any more, but they still taste great...... and because of that I will still be buying and of course, eating them...... They will still be mingled into Cookies 'n Cream Ice Cream and I will still be dunking them in my mid-morning cuppa. I will still crumble them as a base ingredient for cheesecake and they will still be mixed into trifle......

But you know what? If Nabisco ever decides to take the Oreo to the dizzy heights of gluten-freedom, out of principle, I for one will think twice before I buy them.......



Brilliant Blog Posts at Honest Mum


Free From Fridays with the Free From Farmhouse


Gluten Free Alchemist © 2013-16 unless otherwise indicated

Sunday, 17 July 2016

Watermelon-Bacardi Cooler


Summer showed itself today! It may have been only a fleeting moment, but I swear that the thermometer reached the dizzy heights of 27 Celsius. The excitement was short-lived when less than half an hour later, the clouds again filled the sky and the air cooled....

Heat or not, this is the British summer and being British, we will still insist on shorts and BBQ's, strawberries and ice lollies and (my favourite) cooling cocktails in the garden.


One of my very favourite summer refreshers is watermelon. It may not be grown here, but its colour, flavour and its sheer ability to quench thirst makes it a fruit that I always head for when the weather warms. It shouts 'Summer'!

When I was pregnant with Miss GF I had a total addiction to it....... Whilst others were craving the likes of marmite, onions and cheese, I was getting through a large watermelon single-handed every other day. I was totally distraught when (in my anti-natal clumsiness) I managed to drop one on the hard kitchen floor...... watching in horror as it shattered into juicy, wet red and green pieces across the room.....


The cocktail, on the other hand, is not something that I enjoyed in pregnancy..... I was far too focussed on giving Miss GF the best start I could and whilst I enjoyed the ripe, sweet, deep pink flesh in abundance, there was no alcohol to be seen near my lips for several months......

My Watermelon-Bacardi Cooler is inspired by my recent trip to the States...... It was going to be a Margarita...... but according to my minimal knowledge of cocktails, a Margarita requires tequila....... and I didn't have any tequila...... but I still wanted a cocktail with watermelon...... so I improvised.


I confess, the cocktail used for these photos is not my first taste of this stuff....... It's been enjoyed on a couple of occasions since my return.... first with a goodly dose of vodka and now Bacardi (........ I ran out of vodka!). It tastes fab either way, so whether you have vodka, white rum or tequila in your cupboard, I suggest you grab a bottle, a watermelon and some lime and whizz up a glass or two whilst the sun is shining!

It's not a fantastically complicated cocktail...... but it tastes great and is absolutely what the doctor should be ordering to accompany those summer barbies, garden parties and lazy warm days. If you have kids who want to join the party, then just make them a non-alcoholic version and perhaps throw a couple of strawberries or a drop of lemonade into the mix!


But beware....... one may not be enough.......

Better get a few more melons in!

I am sharing my Bacardi-Watermelon Cooler with the following linkies :


Cook Blog Share with Hijacked by Twins

Tasty Tuesdays with Honest Mum







Free From Fridays with the Free From Farmhouse (one for the grown-ups)

Simple & in Season with Feeding Boys







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


Recipe of the Week with A Mummy Too







Watermelon-Bacardi Cooler (makes 2 cocktails)

Ingredients 

flesh of ½ of small seedless watermelon
juice 1 lime
2 teaspoons maple syrup
2 to 3 shots Bacardi (or Vodka) - dependent on how strong you want your cocktail
crushed ice
extra lime/watermelon/mint to decorate

Method

  1. Put the watermelon, lime juice, maple syrup, and alcohol into a liquidiser and blend until smooth.
  2. Half fill (approx) your cocktail glasses with crushed ice and then top with watermelon cocktail.
  3. Add an extra slice of lime/cubes of watermelon/mint leaves to decorate.
  4. Sit in the sun and enjoy!
Gluten Free Alchemist © 2013-16 unless otherwise indicated

Monday, 11 July 2016

Heavenly Chocolate, Walnut & Pear Torte - gluten & dairy free (accidental maybe, but gluten free chocolate torte is rarely better than this!)


Occasionally....... very occasionally....... I make a dish that surpasses all expectations and makes me go weak at the knees both for the joy of eating it as well as the euphoria of the baking success. THIS is one of those dishes!

Give thanks to the chocolate god...... for she has delivered perfection in the form of a Heavenly Chocolate, Walnut & Pear Torte which is not only gluten free, but dairy free as well!

What makes the result even more startling is that it wasn't actually meant to be the Torte it became.  I set out to make a pear brownie with nothing but a larder of ingredients, some paper and a pen. I wanted the brownie to be dairy as well as gluten free and I wanted to make it with ingredients that weighted to the healthier side of decadence..... coconut oil in replacement of butter and spreads, less refined sugars, anti-oxidant and flavanol-rich dark chocolate, nutrient-rich almonds and walnuts, protein-filled eggs and some fruit for good measure.


As a brownie it failed..... the crumb was gooey yes, but it was not 'sticky' enough to hold as a brownie.

Disappointed...... I took a disgruntled mouthful of my 'failed' chocolate bake........ and WOW! The flavour and texture was incredible. As my brain processed the experience, making sense of the soft, silky, gooey, melt-in-the-mouth chocolate heaven that was dissolving on my tongue, I realised that (to me at least) this was a truly accidental masterpiece. Deep, nutty, chocolate-filled waves of wanton enjoyment washed across my senses. Serotonin-induced heaven on a spoon.....


I usually hate to 'big myself up' on things and generally play down success..... Confidence has never been a key part of my personality...... But you know what? THIS torte is so delicious, I am going to shout it from the roof tops.

Many years ago when I still ate gluten, I had a favourite dessert at a Mexican restaurant called Cafe Des Amis. It was a chocolate torte served with dark and white chocolate cream. I was totally gutted when I could no longer eat it..... it was the dessert that made me ecstatically happy when I ate it. Knowing that I would just be disappointed if I tried to create a gluten free version that failed, I have never bothered to try...... But this torte is as close as I remember...... in fact, I think it may be even better!


I realise that these are pretty big claims for a humble chocolate torte, so to be sure its advent was not a fluke, it has been made and devoured twice this week in our house. It has disappeared in a flash on both occasions...... and once gone, I was already facing calls for more....

It is most definitely a dessert torte..... with a very moist, dark, rich, pudding-like crumb. Best eaten with a fork or spoon, it can be made even more decadent with a hefty pillowy dollop of whipped coconut cream or (if you can eat dairy) some clotted or extra thick double cream. The walnuts add a beautiful nutty crunch to the experience and the pear marries wonderfully against the cocoa..... Pear and chocolate is one of my all time favourite dessert combinations.


Mr GF thinks it is the best chocolate torte I have ever made. That's high praise...... Asked to describe it however, he merely said 'Yummy'! Pushed to be a little more specific, he said it was 'not over-sweet' and was a 'very adult dessert'. He was never a man of many words and clearly won't be employed as a food critic any time soon! Miss GF disagrees with the 'adult' bit of course..... being a child who loved it too, she is worried that such flippant statements may render this new wonder-pud off-limits. She's ready for a fight!

I am sharing the chocolate love with the following linkies :


We Should Cocoa with the lovely Choclette over at Tin and Thyme. July's chocolate theme is 'anything goes'.

Free From Fridays with Emma at the Free From Farmhouse.






Inheritance Recipes with Coffee & Vanilla (& Pebble Soup). Given that this torte is my best gluten free comparison with one of my all time favourite desserts, I am passing it to Miss GF as a keeper for her future foodie joy.

Cook Blog Share, this week with Snap Happy Bakes.




Sunday Fitness & Food, this week with Ilka's Blog (& Marathons & Motivation).


Gluten Free Fridays with Vegetarian Mamma.







Tea Time Treats with The Hedge Combers (& Lavender & Lovage). This is Janie's very last hosting of the Tea Time Treats Linky Party and to make sure she goes out on a high, she has asked for all of our Best Ever Recipes! Thanks for being such a great host Janie...... We'll miss you!

Recipe of the Week with A Mummy Too




Chocolate, Walnut & Pear Torte

Ingredients

220g good quality dark (dairy free) chocolate - chopped
130g coconut oil
75g coconut palm sugar
75g soft light brown sugar
85g plain gluten free flour (I used been A from this post)
15g cocoa powder
½ teaspoon fine sea salt
2 teaspoons GF baking powder
50g ground almonds
100g rough-chopped walnuts
2 large eggs (I used duck eggs)
50 ml almond milk
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1½ pears - cored, peeled and cut into small cubes
50g dark (dairy free) chocolate chips

additional walnut halves to decorate

Method

  1. Base-line a 9 inch loose-bottomed cake tin (round or square) with baking paper.
  2. Pre-heat the oven to 180 C/350 F/Gas 4.
  3. In a small saucepan, melt together the chocolate, coconut oil and two sugars until well-blended. Do not allow to boil.
  4. In a large bowl, weigh and mix together the flour, cocoa, salt, baking powder, ground almonds and chopped walnuts.
  5. Add the chocolate-sugar liquid and beat well with a silicone or wooden spoon.  Set aside to cool slightly, stirring intermittently.
  6. In a separate bowl, beat together the eggs, almond milk and vanilla extract until well blended. Add to the cooled chocolate batter and beat through with the spoon.
  7. Fold in the pear cubes and chocolate chips.
  8. Pour the batter into the cake tin and smooth the top.
  9. Bake for 30 minutes before turning the oven down to 150 C/300 F/Gas 2. Bake for a further 10 to 15 minutes until well risen and a skewer inserted into the centre comes out clean. 
  10. Remove from the oven and leave in the tin to cool completely. The centre of the cake may sink very slightly. This is fine. It should be very moist and a little gooey.
  11. When cold, carefully remove from the tin and place on a serving plate. 
  12. Decorate with walnut halves (to keep them in place, I stuck mine with a little melted chocolate) and a further sprinkle of nuts and chocolate as you choose. 
  13. Serve on its own, with poached pears or with whipped coconut cream or double/clotted cream (if you can eat dairy).
  14. Store in the fridge between 'eats'. It will firm up, but when brought back to room temperature before serving will regain its soft, gooey consistency. 
Gluten Free Alchemist © 2013-16 unless otherwise indicated