Saturday, 27 September 2014

Goats Cheese Stuffed Cherry Bomb Chillies

My greenhouse is full of plants loaded with an amazingly colourful array of chilli fruits right now....... red, yellow, green and purple....... small, large, round, long or pepper-shaped......... blindingly hot to very mild......  Many of them will end up dried and will be added to various dishes over the coming months. But some (like these bright, shiny Cherry Bombs) are perfect for stuffing and eating fresh.

I love cheese-stuffed chillies and often buy them from the deli counters at farm shops and supermarkets. But this year, since I now seem to have them coming out of my ears, I figured it was time to prepare some myself.

They are dead easy to 'make'. You simply de-seed them and soak in a mix of oil and vinegar overnight before softening them briefly in the oven and stuffing with your favourite creamy cheeses, herbs or anything else you fancy. If you don't want to eat them all at once, then you can store them (after deseeding and before softening) for a week or so in the oil and vinegar or keep them in the fridge unstuffed for about the same amount of time after they have been in the oven.

To be honest, whilst I love a bit of chilli, I am not keen on the palate-stripping heat that you get from large amounts being thrown into hot curries. Somehow all subtlety of flavour can easily get lost and eating with friends just becomes a competitive exploit to see who can survive the meal intact.

These Cherry Bomb chillies are naturally fairly mild, especially once they have been deseeded. The goats cheese-mascarpone filling that I have used brings in a wonderful cooling, creamy contrast against the background chilli kick. Throw in some fresh chopped basil for an extra sweet herby shot.... Simple!

They are such a wonderful, vibrant colour too. Eat as tapas......... use to brighten up any salad........ or in my case, keep visiting the fridge, pop one in the mouth and bite through the contrasting slightly crisp chilli-pepper shell into the melty, soft, calming cheese, allowing the flavours and textures to mingle.....

Goats Cheese Stuffed Cherry Bomb Chillies


12 to 15 cherry bomb chilli peppers (or an alternative of choice)
120 ml/½ cup olive oil
60 ml/¼ cup white wine vinegar
125g soft goats cheese
80g Mascarpone cheese
handful fresh basil leaves - finely chopped


  1. Prepare the chillies by carefully slicing off the very top (stalk end) and scraping out the seeds and 'veins'.
  2. Place in a jar or bowl with the olive oil and vinegar and leave at least over night or for a couple of days to soak in the fridge.
  3. Pre-heat the oven to 180 C/350 F/Gas 4.
  4. Remove the chillies from the oil when ready and drain the excess oil-vinegar. (Save the oil vinegar to use for another batch).
  5. Place the drained chillies on a baking tray and bake in the oven for 10 minutes to soften only (do not let them brown). Remove from the oven and allow to cool completely.
  6. Meanwhile, mix the goats cheese with the Mascarpone and chopped basil until smooth and completely combined.
  7. Stuff the chillies with the cheese mixture and serve. 
  8. You can store the chillies for about a week in the fridge covered in olive oil.

Previously Shared with : 

Gluten Free Alchemist © 2013-14 unless otherwise indicated

Tuesday, 23 September 2014

Almond, Cherry, Chocolate & Pistachio Cookies (Dark and Light) - gluten free

Last month I was lucky enough to win the French Glace Cherries giveaway with Ros over at The More Than Occasional Baker. Thanks Ros! A week or so later, I received my Discovery Box and eagerly explored the contents which included a lovely smart red apron, a kitchen scale, a new kitchen timer (which was perfectly timed (ha ha), as I had just broken my old one and I love the fact that the new one is magnetic and sticks to the fridge where I can always find it) and some little pots of glace cherries.

When I entered for the giveaway, I said that I would use my cherry samples to make cherry and almond biscuits using almond butter. And true to my word, this is what I have done. I still have a few cherries left, which I will probably use in a cake of some description........ I'll let you know when I have decided (if I can prise them away from my daughter who has now discovered them!).

I bought some Meridian almond butter a few weeks back to make the very same intended cookies, which had been sitting in the larder ever since. I never got round to making them as I didn't actually have any glace cherries to hand, so winning the giveaway was more than perfectly timed. Sometimes these things happen with such coincidence that I do wonder whether there are other forces at work. Ok....... so it's only some cherries, but their arrival kicked me into getting on with my cookie plan.......

Needless to say that my original plan for cherry and almond cookies quickly spiralled into something far more exciting............. why stop at cherry and almond? And I had a bit of a hankering for chocolate. (When don't I?)

Thoughts quickly turned to adding combinations of cocoa and chocolate chips (definitely the dark variety to compliment the rich chewy sweetness of the cherries).  I know almond and chocolate are old favourites to pair with cherries, but old favourites are called that for a reason........... They work well and we love them...........

Then..... a couple of days before I planned to make them, I had to go to London for a meeting and ended up with an hour to kill before I could pick up a direct train home. My walk back to the station took me past Borough Market, which is renowned for its amazing selection of high quality food produce, both British and international. Unfortunately it was quite late in the day and many of the stalls were closed up, but I did get to have a mooch round Spice Mountain which had the most incredible array (with accompanying aromas) of herbs and spices from across the world.

Time to spend more money............. One of the things that particularly caught my eye was the bags of vivid, beautiful green Iranian Pistachios - a traditional absolute for any Iranian feast. I love pistachios...... their vibrancy, depth of flavour, versatility and the immense interest they add to any dish - sweet or savoury, but these are way brighter than any pistachios I have used before. As soon as I saw them I knew they had to top my cookies.

I could have been extra resourceful and made the almond butter myself (all you need is a bunch of roasted almonds and a food processor to grind them down to a paste), but on this occasion, I allowed myself the convenience of having it ready made and scooped out of the jar.

The French Glace Cherries were top quality...... Much juicier and more succulent than glace cherries I have used in the past. Sometimes, glace cherries can be a bit hard and dry and that has put me off using them. But these were a surprise reminder that they are an ingredient that should not be overlooked, although it is worth being picky to source a fresh, syrupy, premium quality, traditional product.

The cookies, whether light or dark (with added cocoa) are deliciously chewy..... the dangerous, sticky sort of soft chewy that makes you want to eat more and more just for the pleasure of chewing. Each bite brings a tantalisation of melty pieces of chocolate or sweet, fruity chunks of cherry. A lucky bite gets both, mingling together in perfect harmony with the surrounding soft, nutty almond heaven. The dark cookies hide their presence, but make no mistake, they are secret little jewels of perfection awaiting your delectation.

But which are better? I love the greater visibility of the cherries and chocolate in the lighter version, and the cookie base has a creamy texture with an almost caramel-honey-like flavour about it. The dark cocoa-added version has a more intense chocolatey hit with slight treacle tones. Both have a delicious, nutty pistachio shot from the sprinkling of green heaven on the top...... balanced so as not to overwhelm, but to enhance the flavours beneath. I change my 'favourite' back and forth with each and every one, so I guess they must be equally, but differently delicious. Either way, they are definitely worth a try.

I am sending a batch of these incredibly quick and easy Almond, Cherry, Chocolate & Pistachio Cookies to CookBlogShare with Lucy over at Supergolden Bakes, as they need to be shared, they are so good!

I am also sending some over to Emily at A Mummy Too, for Recipe of the Week. Enjoy!

Almond, Cherry, Chocolate & Pistachio Cookies (makes about 18 cookies of each)

Ingredients - Dark Cookies

140g soft light brown sugar
25g cocoa
¾ teaspoon bicarbonate of soda 
150g almond butter (I used Meridian)
1 large egg - lightly beaten
50g dark chocolate chips
70g glace cherries
handful Iranian pistachio nuts (or ordinary unsalted pistachios - chopped)

Ingredients - Light Cookies

140g light soft brown sugar
2 tablespoons cornflour
¾ teaspoon bicarbonate of soda
150g almond butter (I used Meridian)
1 large egg - lightly beaten
50g dark chocolate chips
70g glace cherries
handful Iranian pistachio nuts (or ordinary unsalted pistachios - chopped)

Method (for each separately)

  1. Prepare 3 baking trays by lining with baking paper.
  2. Pre-heat the oven to 180 C/350 F/Gas 4.
  3. Weigh and mix together the sugar, cocoa/cornflour and bicarbonate of soda in a large bowl, making sure any lumps are completely broken down.
  4. Add the almond butter, egg, chocolate chips and cherries and stir with a wooden/silicone spoon until completely combined and formed into a thick dough.
  5. Using your hands, take small pieces of dough and roll into balls about 3 cm in diameter. 
  6. Flatten very slightly and place on the baking trays with room for spreading.
  7. Scatter the chopped pistachios onto each dough cookie and gently press into the surface.
  8. Bake for 10 to 12 minutes (swapping the trays in the oven half way through to ensure an even bake). If you want an extra chewy cookie, remove from the oven and leave on the trays to cool. If you prefer a slightly crisper cookie, turn off the oven (and open the door briefly to take the sting out of the heat) and allow the cookies to cool in the oven for a further 15 to 20 minutes as the oven cools.
Gluten Free Alchemist © 2013-14 unless otherwise indicated

Wednesday, 17 September 2014

Blackberry-Coconut Chocolate Nobble Cheesecake

This cheesecake is amazing! Fresh, creamy, ethereally light, beautifully fruity, wonderfully coconutty and the prettiest colour I have made in a while!

I created it for a competition I have entered, which is being run by DS Gluten Free who make baked goods for gluten-avoiders. The rules are simply that the dish has to feature a DS product. I'm not expecting to get anywhere, but the recipe is so delicious, I thought I would share it with you anyway.

One of my favourite DS products are their Milk Chocolate Nobble biscuits. I love them because they are not only coated in chocolate decadence, but they have a crisp wholesome biscuit base which is shot through with little flakes of coconut. And there lies the inspiration..... Coconut!

I have recently started using a lot more coconut products in my cooking after I had been drawn to the attention of its possible nutrition and health benefits. The range of coconut products is so varied, that it seems there is a product for pretty much every stage of the baking process.... oils and spreads to replace butter, milk and cream to replace traditional dairy, coconut palm sugar instead of traditional refined cane sugars and of course, pieces of coconut - desiccated, flaked or cubed, to add texture and flavour.

This cheesecake uses three coconut elements to draw out and enhance the flavour from the biscuits, with amazing results. The additional desiccated coconut simply adds extra coconut texture and taste, but the use of coconut oil in making the biscuit base seems to make it extra crisp and crunchy, creating a fantastic contrast with the cheese-cake 'filling'.

And what of that 'filling'? If you have never used coconut cream in a cheese cake before, then I urge you to try! It adds a lightness that I have never experienced in a cheesecake..... ever! It is like a cloud.... moussey, light, fluffy, almost virtuous.......

This cheesecake is also seasonally fresh..... foraged blackberries used to make a beautiful purple puree which flavours and tints the 'mousse' and forms the base of a home-made jelly glaze topping to add extra blackberry depth and beautify my offering.

The chocolate already on the biscuits, which mingles with the nuts and coconut in the base is just enough to provide a cocoa-hit without overpowering the rest of the dessert.

The overall result is sublime. Full stop.

I am offering my cheesecake to a couple of challenges this month in the hope that it will get a wider viewing (it is that good).

Simple & In Season (I think this may be my third offering for September) being guest hosted by Franglais Kitchen on behalf of Ren Behan. The blackberries are beginning to slow down now, or disappear into the tummies of the local bird-folk, but if you are quick you may still be able to bag a few from the hedgerows.

Shop Local with Elizabeth's Kitchen Diary. I know its another blackberry recipe, but they are so local, abundant, fresh and yummy, that they really need to be consumed liberally!

Four Seasons Food with Lou at Eat Your Veg (and Anneli at Delicieux). For September the challenge has got 'fruity'. Fruit, chocolate, coconut..... this diamond of a dessert has a bit of everything......

And finally Love Cake with Ness at Jibber Jabber. I'm not sure whether this technically classes as a 'cake', but given that the name is in the title, I'll chance my arm on this one! Ness has asked us to think of 'something new' with the start of the school year........ Using coconut cream in cheese cake is certainly new to me, but quite a revelation.

And so I unveil - My Blackberry-Coconut Chocolate Nobble Cheesecake.

Blackberry-Coconut Chocolate Nobble Cheesecake


Chocolate Nobble Biscuit Base
90g coconut oil
300g (2 packs) DS Milk Chocolate Nobbles (gluten free) - crushed 
30g mixed chopped nuts
10g desiccated coconut

Blackberry Puree (makes 300 ml)
450g blackberries
2 tablespoons golden caster sugar
1 tablespoon lemon juice

Cheesecake filling
5 leaves gelatine (or equivalent vege gel)
250 ml blackberry puree (taken from above)
300g Mascarpone cheese
85g icing sugar
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
250 ml coconut cream - chilled
250 ml double cream

Blackberry Jelly Glaze
approx 50 ml blackberry puree (from above)
approx 25 ml water
1 tablespoon caster sugar
1 leaf gelatine (or equivalent vege gel)

Extra blackberries to decorate


  1. Biscuit Base : Base-line a 9 inch loose-bottomed cake tin (at least 2½ inches/6½ cm deep) with baking paper. Line the sides also by cutting a strip of baking paper (the depth of the tin) and laying against the insides of the tin.
  2. Melt the coconut oil in a medium-sized bowl by gently heating in a microwave set to medium (30 second bursts, stirring between each) or over a simmering pan of water. Add and stir in the crushed biscuits, nuts and desiccated coconut until evenly coated with the oil.
  3. Pour the biscuit mix into the base of the tin and spread into an even layer, gently pressing together with the back of a spoon. Place in the fridge to chill and set.
  4. Blackberry Puree : Place the blackberries and sugar in a saucepan and gradually bring to a simmer, stirring and squeezing juice from the berries against the side of the pan with the back of a wooden spoon. Simmer for about 10 minutes until the fruit softens. Cool and then force the juice through a sieve. Add the lemon juice, stir and set aside.
  5. Cheesecake filling : Whilst the blackberry puree is still hot, place 5 gelatine leaves in a shallow dish and cover with cold water. Leave to soak for 10 to 15 minutes and then drain the excess water.
  6. Mix 250 ml of warm blackberry puree with the gelatine and stir until the gelatine is completely dissolved. If the liquid has become too cool, heat gently over a pan of simmering water or in the microwave to help the process. Once dissolved, set aside to cool at room temperature.
  7. In a separate bowl, beat the cream cheese, icing sugar and vanilla extract together until smooth and well combined.
  8. Add and beat in the chilled coconut cream.
  9. Finally add the double cream and beat until the mixture forms softly whipped peaks (be careful not to allow to become too stiff). 
  10. When the gelatine-puree mix has cooled to room temperature, gently fold into the whipped cream mixture and spoon into the cake tin on top of the biscuit base. Smooth the top and chill for at least 5 hours until completely set.
  11. Jelly Glaze : When the cheese cake is set, mix the remaining blackberry puree with cold water to make up to 75 ml and place in a small saucepan with the sugar.
  12. Heat gently, stirring until the liquid comes to a simmer and the sugar dissolves. Remove from the heat.
  13. Soak a gelatine leaf in cold water for 10 to 15 minutes and drain.
  14. Add the gelatine leaf to the warm puree and stir until completely dissolved.
  15. Cool the mixture to room temperature and then either drizzle over the cheesecake to decorate or use to cover the cheesecake with a thin jelly-glaze layer. Any remaining jelly can be poured into small jelly moulds or an ice cube tray, refrigerated until set and then used to accompany the cheese cake.
  16. Chill the cheesecake until the glaze is set and then carefully remove the cake from the tin.
  17. Serve on its own or with cream.
Gluten Free Alchemist © 2013-14 unless otherwise indicated

Sunday, 14 September 2014

Mixed Berry 'Jaffa' Cakes (gluten free)

I have a new ingredient in my flour collection...... Glutinous Rice Flour. It is also known as 'mochiko', sticky rice or sweet rice (though it is not sweet) and is widely used in South East and East Asia. I picked mine up at a local Thai supermarket, having heard about its virtues (in particular being less grainy when used in baking), and having been keen to try it out for some time.

Being rice, it contains absolutely NO gluten despite its name, so is completely safe for Coeliacs. But its properties in cooking on first try seem interesting and more importantly for us gluten-avoiders, promising! It becomes very sticky when cooked, which makes the binding possibilities worth further exploration. The Japanese apparently use it to make rice bread (which I need to research a bit more as it could be another interesting alternative to wheat-based bread), but it is also used to make a whole range of Asian desserts, dumplings, cakes and as a coating for some fried goods.

I will be honest, I didn't know what to expect at all when using it...... but as its name suggests, it is sticky..... really sticky! And that's exactly what it needs to be in a gluten free kitchen. We gluten free bakers tend to substitute gluten in wheat recipes with either xanthan gum, guar gum or chia paste, which provide an alternative to glue together the ingredients and to prevent cakes and breads from falling apart into a crumbly mess. If a little sticky rice added to a mix can help the natural binding process to some degree, that has to be good! I hear that it also gives fantastic thickening properties for sauces too.....

If anyone out there uses it regularly, I would love to hear some tips and tricks on how best to use it/what to avoid? What I found fascinating was that the 'batter' for the cakes became more of a dough (does it need a greater quantity of liquid?), although this produced an amazing cross between a biscuit and sponge which was, coincidentally, spot on for the Jaffa cake base. Talk about lucky!!!! The texture also seemed to be more 'kneadable' than some of the 'doughs' I have made, which got me very excited and looking forward to more experimentation, especially on the bread-front.

Anyway...... I have been wanting to make gluten free Jaffa cakes for a long time....... Finally I have given them a go.......... Apart from my very good fortune with the cake-biscuit base, which was just the right texture to support the jelly-chocolate top, I decided to make my own jelly filling using some jam that I knocked together a couple of weeks ago to use up a load of fruit that was getting too soft and otherwise heading for the bin.  The jam I have yet to post, but its flavour (made with a combination of blackberries, blueberries, raspberries and apple) was so amazing that I decided to base my jelly with it. My 'Jaffa' Cakes are therefore not the traditional orange variety, but are delicately flavoured with English Summer-Autumn fruits and berries, which pair perfectly with the rich, dark, crisp chocolate coating and give the insides a beautiful purple colour.

I even made a few white chocolate ones as well for comparison which are great if you have a slightly sweeter tooth..... although I most definitely prefer the dark ones.

Although I made my jelly by a traditional gelatine method, you could equally use an alternative vegetarian product such as Vege Gel if you need to. The cakes use no butter either (instead substituting coconut oil), which makes them just that little bit more virtuous.

I am so pleased with the result, that I am sharing them with a number of blog challenges :

First up : Love Cake with Ness over at Jibber Jabber, who's theme for September with the start of the new academic year is 'back to school - something new'. Not only is this a new recipe and something I have never tried making before, but for me, it contains a new ingredient too - glutinous rice flour. I have also never used jam in making dessert jelly before, so I think my 'Jaffa' cakes qualify on a number of grounds!

Next - We Should Cocoa with Choclette over at the Chocolate Log Blog, who is celebrating four wonderfully chocolatey years of the challenge. Congratulations Choclette! This month, and with the preserving season being in full flow, the theme is to combine jam and chocolate. I did make my own jam (but haven't yet got round to writing the post........... soon I promise!) and decided to use it to flavour the jelly secreted within my little 'cakes', which are then smothered in thick dark chocolate. I really must learn to temper my chocolate!!!

Laura's Biscuit Barrel Challenge over at I'd Much rather Bake Than...., invites food to celebrate birthdays (including her own) this month. Happy Birthday Laura! These would be a perfect gluten free offering for any birthday table..... But are they biscuit or are they cake?

Next they are heading over to Chef Mireille's East West Realm and Elizabeth at Elizabeth's Kitchen Diary for September's No Waste Food Challenge, on account of the jam being home-made to salvage the fruit that was on the turn, some of which was picked from the local hedgerows on my recent blackberry forage.... Way too good to waste.... I confess that I also collected the apple for the jam on a walk through a local orchard..... this one had been left on the tree..... the pickers having missed it!

Another entry for Treat Petite hosted by Cakeyboi and Kat at The Baking Explorer. This month 'anything goes'..... so I'm making the most of it!

And finally - Four Season's Food with Lou at Eat Your Veg (and Anneli at Delicieux) which, with the arrival of Autumn is 'getting fruity'. Berries combine so well with chocolate..... they make a fantastic substitute for traditional orange found in Jaffa cakes and at this time of year are available in abundance.

Mixed Berry 'Jaffa' Cakes (makes 18 to 20)


150g red fruit seedless jam (made up to ½ pint with boiling water)
3 leaves gelatine (or equivalent vege gel)

100g glutinous rice flour
50g almond flour
1 teaspoon GF baking powder
2 large eggs - room temperature
75g soft brown sugar
½ teaspoon vanilla paste
70g coconut oil - melted

Chocolate Coating
220g dark (or other) chocolate


  1. Jelly - Soak the gelatine leaves in cold water for 5 to 10 minutes to soften.
  2. Prepare a shallow container (about 9 inches/23 cm square), by base-lining with baking paper.
  3. Put the jam in a jug and make up to ½ pint with boiling water, stirring until the jam has dissolved.
  4. Drain the gelatine leaves and stir into the hot liquid until completely dissolved.
  5. Pour the liquid into the container and place in the fridge until completely set.
  6. Sponge - Pre-heat the oven to 180 C/350 F/Gas 4.
  7. Weigh and mix together the flours and baking powder. Set aside.
  8. Beat the eggs with the sugar and vanilla paste until fully combined. Add the coconut oil and beat thoroughly until smooth.
  9. Add the dry ingredients and fold until combined. The mixture will resemble a stiff dough. 
  10. Using non-stick muffin tins, take small balls of the dough (each equivalent to about a teaspoonful) and press them into the bottom of each muffin hole (about 5mm thick).
  11. Bake for 8 to 10 minutes until just beginning to turn golden. Be careful not to over-bake.
  12. Remove from the oven and place on a wire rack to cool. 
  13. When cold, place the sponges back into the muffin tins and take the jelly from the fridge. Lift out of the container using the baking paper as a base and place on a chopping board. 
  14. Using a small round cutter, cut circles of jelly and place one in the centre of each sponge.
  15. Chocolate Coating - melt the chocolate in a small heat-proof bowl either over a saucepan of simmering water or in the microwave on medium setting (30 second bursts), stirring frequently.
  16. Spoon the chocolate over each cake whilst still in the muffin tins and carefully spread to coat the top evenly.
  17. Place back in the fridge for a few minutes to set and then ease the cakes from the tin.
Gluten Free Alchemist © 2013-14 unless otherwise indicated

Wednesday, 10 September 2014

Manchego, Saucisson and Oregano Muffins - gluten free

Recently I invented a savoury upside down cake which went down a storm in our house. The sponge was made with a goodly portion of polenta which gave it a rich, slightly dense yet still fluffy texture. It had a lovely yellow corn hue and tasted good and wholesome.

We enjoyed it so much that I figured it would be a good sponge base for savoury muffins.

Being gluten free, we find bread can be a bit hit and miss, so I am always looking around for alternatives to traditional lunch options such as sandwiches, to ensure not only variety and interest, but also decent nutrition. Savoury muffins are fantastically versatile and very transportable. They can be made with any number of flavours and 'filling' ingredients, which makes them a perfect healthy substitute.

We rarely see savoury cake in the UK, but apparently the French eat it more frequently. Personally, I think we should eat more here too. Not only can it be made bespoke to your chosen 'fancy' and varied with each batch, but it stores well in the freezer and can be grabbed at a moments notice, lobbed in the microwave and be ready in seconds. Eat for breakfast, lunch, as a side, snack, appetiser or part of a picnic, it is delicious....... and I for one, am a convert! Besides, I love the idea that when I am asked 'what's for lunch?' I can answer with all honesty, 'Cake!!!'

These muffins are given extra texture and substance with a courgette-filled sponge and they are stuffed full of Spanish Manchego cheese and French Saucisson. Actually, I fully intended to use Chorizo which I think would have been even better with its spicy kick and its beautiful red colour, but  the large chunk that was in the fridge the other day seemed to have disappeared...... devoured by the hungry fridge-raiders that share my home. I couldn't be bothered to head out to the supermarket, and a quick rummage revealed an unopened French Saucisson which we had bought on our summer trip to Paris. It seemed it had just found a good use!

The muffins continue their rather Mediterranean identity with a handful of oregano which nicely compliments the cheese and salami flavours. If you don't have either Chorizo or saucisson, salami would work just as well and cheddar or an alternative hard cheese will substitute the Manchego as a straight swap.

They taste wonderful. Full of southerly flavours with a hint of summer sunshine. They are just as good warm or cold and toast pretty well too! Spread with butter or cream cheese........ even houmous complements them and makes for a good meal.

I am entering these Manchego, Saucisson & Oregano Muffins into a couple of challenges :

Tea Time Treats brought to us by Janie at The Hedge Combers, in conjunction with Karen from Lavender & Lovage). This month, they are inviting all things Mediterranean to be brought to the tea time table....... These savoury muffins are full of both the flavours and produce of warmer climes.

I am also sending a batch to Karen's sister challenge Cooking With Herbs, which is for September, celebrating an Indian summer and Mediterranean herbs. The Oregano packed into these little cakes is full of the flavours (and memories) of warm holidays and mountain walks in Greece and beyond.

And lastly, I am offering them to Simple & in Season, this month being guest hosted by Franglais Kitchen on behalf of Ren Behan. The courgettes are coming to an end in the garden, but I am making the most of every last (now scrawny) one! Grating them into cake batter seems a fab way to get the best from them. The oregano is also home-grown......

I already have the veggie version planned and underway!!

Manchego, Saucisson & Oregano Muffins (makes 24 muffins)


160g plain gluten free flour mix (I used mix A from this post)
160g fine ground polenta
1 teaspoon xanthan gum
1½ teaspoons GF baking powder
1 teaspoon bicarbonate of soda
½ teaspoon fine sea salt
ground black pepper to taste
1 tablespoon fresh, chopped oregano (or 1 teaspoon dried)
140g grated Manchego cheese (or an alternative hard cheese or vegetarian cheese)
3 large eggs
90 ml olive oil
150 ml plain yoghurt
130 ml milk 
1 medium courgette (approx 230g untrimmed weight) - grated
80g saucisson or Chorizo - trimmed and chopped into small pieces


  1. Prepare non-stick muffin tins by either lining with baking cases or lightly greasing.
  2. Pre-heat the oven to 180 C/350 F/Gas 4. 
  3. Weigh and mix together the flour, polenta, xanthan gum, baking powder, bicarbonate of soda, salt and pepper, making sure any lumps are broken down.
  4. Add and stir in the herbs and grated cheese.
  5. In a separate bowl, beat together the eggs, oil, yoghurt and milk, then add to the dry ingredients and fold until just combined.
  6. Add and fold in the grated courgette and chopped 'sausage'.
  7. Spoon into the muffin cases and bake for about 20 minutes until a skewer inserted into the centre comes out clean and the tops spring back to the touch.
  8. Leave to cool in the tins for about 10 minutes before removing to a wire rack to cool completely.
Gluten Free Alchemist © 2013-14 unless otherwise indicated

Saturday, 6 September 2014

Foraged Blackberry & Apple Oatie Crumble Slice

Foraging for blackberries is one of Autumn's delights. Pick an afternoon with the gradually fading warmth of the end of summer sun, grab a couple of tubs, pull the kids out of the door and head for the hedgerow.

You can guarantee that everyone will have a fantastic time........ The anticipation and excitement as the blackberries are spotted......... the caution and care as they are picked, making sure they aren't squashed and squeezed............. the sneakiness of popping an occasional berry 'accidentally' in your mouth on its way to the tub.......... and best of all, the thrill of going home with a mountain of free fruit and being able to plan how to use it.

It seems that brambles grow wild just everywhere these days and we only needed to walk about 50 yards down the road before we came across our first blackberry-laden bush. A couple of hours later and a leisurely walk round the local playing field (with lots of running around and cartwheels along the way..... my daughter that is....not me!) and we had a couple of kilos of juicy purple fruit. Heading home..... our battle-scratched arms and legs proudly on show........

Our foraged blackberries have been used in a few recipes (more to follow shortly.....) and none of them have been wasted! This recipe adds a wind-fallen apple from next door's overhanging tree, and is full of the flavours and textures of Autumn.

The biscuit base and crumbly top are deliciously oatie with added nutty depth from the almonds and sweet caramel overtones from the white chocolate. Sandwiched in-between is a thick fruity layer of cinnamon spiced blackberry-apple compote......... perfect for those cooling days and delicious served with custard or ice cream.

I am offering my foraged blackberry and apple oatie crumble slice to several September foodie challenges :

Treat Petite hosted by Stuart at Cakeyboi (with Kat at The Baking Explorer) who for this month are saying 'anything goes'.

Simple & In Season - this month being guest-hosted by Franglais Kitchen on behalf of Ren Behan. The blackberries and apples used here are so in season, they were picked straight from the bushes and trees and cost nothing..... Yay! Free food!!

Vegetable Palette brought to us by Shaheen at Allotment2Kitchen. September calls for dishes full of 'purple and blue' fruit and veg......... I love the colour the blackberries bring to this crumble slice..... rich and inviting.

And finally Shop Local, with Elizabeth's Kitchen Diary. Ok........ so I didn't do much shopping at all, but the fruity stars of this show are as local as they come.

Blackberry & Apple Oatie Crumble Slice


1 large cooking apple - peeled, cored and cut into small pieces
430g blackberries
75g golden caster sugar (or more to taste)
1½ teaspoons ground cinnamon
1 teaspoon arrowroot powder (mixed with 1 tablespoon water)
350g gluten free flour mix (I used blend A from this post)
1 teaspoon xanthan gum
1 teaspoon GF baking powder
225g unsalted butter - cold and cubed
350g soft brown sugar
175g GF oats
50g toasted flaked almonds
100g white chocolate chunks
1 large egg 
1 tablespoon almond (or cows) milk


  1. Put the cubed apple, blackberries, caster sugar and cinnamon into a saucepan and bring to a simmer.
  2. Simmer until the fruit is soft and broken down and the liquid has reduced.
  3. Add the arrowroot-water mix and continue to stir until the mixture thickens. Turn off the heat and set aside.
  4. Prepare a 9 inch square loose-bottomed, non-stick baking tin, by lightly greasing with butter.
  5. Pre-heat the oven to 180 C/350 F/Gas 4
  6. Weigh and mix together the flour, xanthan gum and baking powder in a large bowl, making sure any lumps are broken down.
  7. Rub the butter into the flour mix until it resembles breadcrumbs.
  8. Add the brown sugar, oats and almonds and stir thoroughly.
  9. Remove about a quarter quantity of the mix to a separate bowl, mix the chocolate chunks into the smaller portion and set aside.
  10. Add the egg and milk to the three-quarter portion and mix with a wooden/silicone spoon until completely blended and beginning to form clumps.
  11. Put this mixture into the baking tin and press down with the back of a spoon to make a biscuit base which is smooth and even.
  12. Bake for 15 minutes, then remove from the oven.
  13. Spoon the blackberry-apple compote onto the biscuit base and spread into a thick even layer.
  14. Top this with the remaining crumble-white chocolate mix and bake for a further 20 to 25 minutes until golden.
  15. Serve hot, warm or cold. Delicious with cream, custard or ice-cream. 
Gluten Free Alchemist © 2013-14 unless otherwise indicated

Monday, 1 September 2014

Chocolate Chunk-Courgette Oatie Cookie Mounds

The summer appears to be drawing to an end and with it, the bumper crop of courgettes is dwindling fast......... (sad face.....).

It seems that for weeks we have eaten veg almost entirely from the garden and I am always disappointed when I have to start buying from the greengrocer again. Garden vegetables are always the best for flavour and you can be certain they have been grown totally free from any nasty sprays.

The courgettes this year did us proud and we have eaten them every which way............ straight boiled, roasted and grilled; gratinated, stuffed and curried, baked in cakes and breads. And now, whether you've had enough of them or not, I present them as scrumptious cookies.

As cookies go, these are reasonably healthy and very tasty....... eat a couple and they might even count as one of your five a day! In addition to a goodly dose of courgette, they are stuffed full of oats, some nuts and spiced up with a hit of cinnamon, giving them a creamy, rich, nutty autumn flavour.......  Perfect for the the move towards cooler days.

Courgettes add a beautiful green fleck to these cookies, and alter the texture towards very slightly cakey (although they remain clearly on the cookie spectrum).  The recipe produces a sizeable number which makes them perfect for sharing, but they will keep well for a week or so in an airtight container and can be frozen to preserve them for longer.

Incredibly moreish, they are great for lunch boxes, snacks and I have even had a few for breakfast too (they are not over-sweet and I think pass as a comparable alternative to a lot of cereal bars).

They don't need any decoration to enhance their flavour, but drizzling them with chocolate makes them prettier and even more tempting!

Chocolate Chunk-Courgette Oatie Cookie Mounds (makes 40 cookie mounds)


150g plain gluten free flour blend (I used blend A from this post)
90g gluten free oats
50g gluten free oat flour (easy to make as in this post)
60g tapioca flour
1½ teaspoon ground cinnamon
½ teaspoon ground ginger
1 teaspoon GF baking powder
½ teaspoon bicarbonate of soda
¼ teaspoon fine sea salt
180g unsalted butter (room temperature)
150g light soft brown sugar
1 large egg
1½ teaspoons vanilla extract
approx 260g finely grated courgette
45g chopped roasted hazelnuts
200g chocolate chunks (I used 100g milk and 100g white)

melted dark or milk chocolate to drizzle for decoration (optional)


  1. Preheat the oven to 180 C/350 F/Gas 4. Line a couple of baking sheets with baking paper.
  2. Mix together the flours, oats, cinnamon, baking powder, bicarbonate of soda and salt, making sure any lumps are broken down. Set aside.
  3. Cream the butter and sugar together in a large bowl until light and fluffy.
  4. Add the egg and vanilla and beat thoroughly.
  5. Add and fold in the flour mix, grated courgette, nuts and chocolate chunks until the batter is smooth and well blended.
  6. Spoon the batter into small mounds on the baking sheets (I used a cake pop scoop to get them even-sized).
  7. Bake for 20 minutes and then turn the oven off and allow to cool in the oven.
  8. Remove from the oven when just warm and transfer to a wire rack to cool completely.
  9. Decorate with drizzled melted chocolate.
Gluten Free Alchemist © 2013-14 unless otherwise indicated