Friday, 29 May 2015

Eating Smart - the new Free From recipe app from Woman & Home & an experimental Summer Tortilla

Check out this amazingly delicious Summer Tortilla that I made on the spur of the moment last night, inspired by Woman & Home's new Free From App : Eating Smart. It is as delicious and healthy as it is vibrant and is made from a load of leftovers that were taking up space in the fridge. It is so tasty and easy, that I think it may become a regular feature for a speedy midweek supper, as well as to use up food before it gets wasted.

I have always loved recipe books... the feel of them.... the fact that you can hold the weight of them on your lap, whilst you turn the pages..... drooling over the beautiful pictures of stunningly photographed food...... the rows of them on the shelf which tell everyone who visits that food is your passion...... the very 'realness' of them...... But...... increasingly (and particularly since becoming gluten free), I look to the internet for foodie inspiration and recipes, whether for special occasions or everyday meals. There are still relatively few 'free from' recipe books on the market and as fellow free from cooks out there will know, it can be incredibly frustrating trying to find a recipe that fits exactly what you want to cook amongst the few FF hardbacks you actually own. Consequently, the internet takes on an increasing importance in filling the gap. You can google an ingredient, a dish, a course of a meal and it will throw up endless permutations and possibilities to tantalise your tastebuds......Somehow it is more 'instant' and more valuing of your nutritional needs.

Recently, Woman & Home contacted me to tell me about a new recipe app they have just launched called 'Eating Smart' and asked if I would be interested in reviewing it for them. The app, which takes their magazine of the same name to a new electronic level, is specifically designed around Gluten Free, Dairy Free and Vegan recipes. I love the opportunity to check out anything new in the world of dietary limitation that I inhabit...... so of course, I jumped at the chance to have a look and see what was on offer.

The editor Jennifer Bedloe hails Eating Smart as 'the first free from app where you can find easy, inspirational ideas for gluten free, dairy free and vegan diets'. Initially free to download, the app will give you a selection of recipes straddling each free from requirement (6 recipes in total), but for full benefit and variety, you will need to download the additional recipe bundles (at 99p each via I-Tunes) for each dietary need. Each of the three dietary bundles will give you access to 20 recipes, which (having checked them out) seems like pretty good value. Although each bundle is aimed at a particular dietary need, there is plenty of cross over between them, with each recipe being labelled GF/DF/V for ease of identification of suitability. If you are gluten or dairy free, buying all three seems a good bet as you will gain access to plenty of other ingredient-compatible options to suit your needs (and I have to say that some of the most tempting GF baking and dessert recipes can be found lurking in the vegan pages!)

If you are vegan however..... beware! Although there are a number of gluten and dairy free recipes in each of the three bundles, the app's vegan recipes are almost entirely located in the vegan-specific bundle. The 'V' so helpfully identified at the start of many recipes in the GF and DF bundles only specifies 'vegetarian' and includes many ingredients which are animal-sourced. Although I was looking at the app through specifically gluten free eyes, I felt this lack of consistency in the labelling would potentially be very frustrating if I didn't eat animal products, and needs clearer explanation.

Downloading the app onto my I-Phone via I-Tunes was quick and easy and (thankfully) required no additional technical knowledge or research (I am often confused by new technological requirements and am the butt of many jokes in my family where I am seen to be shouting at the computer when it doesn't perform to the standard expected!). Initially, I was a little frustrated that I was not able to download to my Macbook (just comes up with a message saying 'not currently available'), but once I had it on the phone, I instantly saw the benefits of access via a smaller device, particularly when out shopping for ingredients or looking for inspiration to the (daily) question 'what shall we eat tonight?'. If your ability to plan ahead is anything like us, the need for quick ideas on the way home from work will be all too frequent, so the possibility of grabbing the app to spark some creativity as well as having a 'to hand' list of ingredients to pick up from the supermarket before reaching home is fabulously convenient.

In addition to bundles which section recipes into dietary need, the app organises them into helpful sections around type of dish which I liked : Entertaining; Midweek; Baking; Dessert. The format is easy to navigate from one section to another, with ingredients lists and methods being clear and easy to understand and dishes being made with accessible ingredients easily available in most supermarkets. Overall the recipes provided are interesting, tempting, varied and well-balanced (all accompanied by beautiful photographs) and are for the most part, straight forward to prepare ensuring they are well-within the skill range of most people.

Sections at the start of each bundle provide basic practical information and advice on necessary variations for each free from larder, as well as various tips and tricks for altering each recipe either to suit other dietary requirements, or for taste and interest. I found these additions really interesting (I had never considered that cake baking might be more successful with the oven fan 'off') and helpful (the instructions on how to make cashew cream are amazingly straight forward). These additions will be particularly useful when faced with having to cook for someone with a less familiar intolerance.

Descriptions of ingredient substitutions and how they can be used effectively were clear, concise and way better than many I have seen (I finally think I understand the principles of egg replacement ratios and how to use non-egg alternatives). The app presents all the recipes in a way which is neither complicated or fussy and would still be familiar in process to anyone who has been recently diagnosed with an intolerance. This struck me as quite important in trying to get the message across that being 'free from' should not be frightening or intimidating.

My only criticism on the larder and practical information sections is that (from a Coeliac perspective) I would have liked to see more on the hidden risks of gluten contamination when sourcing ingredients (given the health risks of getting it wrong) with more emphasis on the necessity of reading labels to ensure products such as sauces and stock etc are truly gluten free. This would be particularly important for people using the app to prepare meals for others with intolerances. Whilst this issue is counter-balanced for some recipes where risks are more clearly identified, this is not consistent. My worry is that not understanding this as a critical process, may lead to silly mistakes which could have a significant impact on health!

There do also appear to be a few glitches in the proof-reading which need ironing out. For example, my initial excitement at seeing Squash and Greens Tart (vegan bundle) marked as 'GF' quickly turned to disappointment when the ingredients listed 'puff pastry' (which of course contains wheat flour). Heavenly Choc Pots list 'dairy free chocolate' in the ingredients alongside cream and creme fraiche. The gluten free Carrot, Apricot and Raisin Cake apparently requires 'gluten-free plain wholewheat flour' (now there's a contradiction!). And the front page for the vegan 'Midweek' section is headed 'Gluten Free'.  Whilst these are probably just silly inaccuracies (and I feel slightly 'smug' for having spotted them (and a couple of others)), they are misleading and potentially risky for those less pedantic than myself.......

That aside, the dishes across the board look delicious and (having a particularly sweet tooth) many of the desserts and bakes look divine....... I particularly have my eye on 3 recipes in the vegan bundle..... the Chocolate Truffle Cake, Coconut Truffles and Coconut & Cherry Rice Pudding, all of which are vegan, dairy and gluten free. Triple bonus!!

All in all, I am really impressed with the app and am really pleased to have had it brought to my attention and to have had the opportunity to explore it in detail. It has great variety and is easy to use, with straight forward recipes and accessible ingredients. I can't confirm how well the recipes actually turn out as I have yet to try them practically, but with Woman & Home's excellent reputation, I would expect them to have been extensively tested before passing them on to the unsuspecting audience. The fact that the Eating Smart app can be 'kept in your handbag' makes it perfect for moments when immediate inspiration is required, and meals need to be rustled up without a drama.  I am genuinely excited about trialling the dishes at home and with more recipes and bundles to be added over the coming months, look forward to adding to the collection......


So back to the Tortilla...... Its creation was indeed completely triggered by my lack of planning for tea and getting home tired and not particularly in the mood for cooking. Time to test the app! I flipped through the Mid Week sections and there in the Dairy Free bundle I found a delicious looking Salmon Tortilla....... Problem was I had already got home and couldn't face a trip out again.......

Having quickly read the recipe through, it was clear that this one is really adaptable (and I was in a veggie sort of mood), so checking out the fridge for leftovers, I decided to make a few substitutions of ingredients...... Left over honey-roasted butternut squash (from this recipe) to replace the listed potatoes..... some left over roasted peppers & tomatoes and fried onions (from another recipe to be posted soon) instead of the salmon and spring onions...... and a dash of fresh cream (as this is what I had, although the recipe (being dairy free) lists soya cream in the ingredients).

Wow! The flavours and colours are just incredible....... A perfect midweek meal! I make no apology for using different ingredients to those listed...... I was really grateful and happy that I had not only been inspired by the app at short notice, but had also demonstrated the versatility of the recipe to fill the tortilla with whatever you have to hand. I followed the method closely as stated and thanks to Eating Smart, I found what I think will be a well-loved supper alternative to the ubiquitous baked potato!

It will make great picnic food too!

I am sharing my take on the Tortilla with the following challenges :

The No Waste Food Challenge with Elizabeth's Kitchen Diary.

Credit Crunch Munch with Baking Queen 74, Fuss Free Flavours & Fab Food 4 All.

Simple & In Season also with Elizabeth's Kitchen Diary on behalf of Ren Behan.

Meat Free Mondays with Jacqueline at Tinned Tomatoes.

Cook Blog Share with Lucy at Supergolden Bakes.

Free From Fridays at the Free From Farmhouse.

Summer Tortilla (makes 2 to 3 portions)

Ingredients (mostly leftovers)  

a little olive oil
honey-roasted butternut squash (about half a small squash) from this recipe
a few roasted tomatoes
roasted red & yellow pepper (equivalent to about 1 small bell pepper)
fried red onion (about ½ an onion)
2 large eggs
100 ml cream/soyacream (for dairy free)
seasoning to taste (salt, pepper, herbs)
sprinkle of cheese (dairy free/vegetarian as necessary)


  1. Pre-heat the oven to 180 C/350 F/Gas 4.
  2. Using a little olive oil, lightly grease the inside of a 1½ pound non-stick loaf tin.
  3. Scatter a layer of butternut squash in the bottom, followed by some roasted tomatoes, roasted peppers and a little fried onion. Season as you wish.
  4. Repeat 3 with a second layer of veg. 
  5. In a small bowl, beat the eggs with the cream and pour into the tin over the veg.
  6. Bake in the oven for about 30 minutes (40 to 45 minutes if you make a larger amount), until the centre is set (I tested with a sharp knife to see if it came out clean).
  7. Remove from the oven and cool for a few minutes, before taking from the tin. Eat either warm or cold.
With Thanks to Woman & Home for the opportunity to review the Eating Smart app and for bringing it to my attention. I was not paid to write this post, neither was I required or expected to write a positive review. All views represented are my own and are an honest reflection of my experience of using the app.

Gluten Free Alchemist © 2013-15 unless otherwise indicated

Monday, 25 May 2015

Baby Kale, Honey-Roast Butternut, Chicken, Parmesan & Pine Nut Salad

In the summer, I am a salad person..... Salad and quiches! Lots of them...... In Winter it's soup, but once the weather warms, I firmly shift my sights to the green leafy stuff and all salady variations beyond.....

Sadly, I am a lone salad-lover in the family, and hence, more often than not, I end up using the bagged varieties for ease and speed.

I can be quite picky about which bagged salads I will eat, and mostly go for simple mixed baby leaves, spinach or a more peppery rocket. I find the smaller leaves to be without any bitterness and they marry well with pretty much anything, from traditional salad fruits to cheeses, fish, meat and nuts.

I was recently asked if I would be interested in making something tasty with Florette Salad. Florette set up as a family business in 1983 and now source their salad leaves across Europe to ensure year round availability. In addition to the mixed and single-variety bags of salads, they also make a number of salad bowls which are great for a grab and go lunch or snack.

When I checked out their web site however, I was really interested to see that they also have bags of Baby Kale leaves. Now that grabbed my attention!

Kale has been rising in the popularity stakes for a number of months and has been creeping into blog posts all over the place. A member of the cabbage family, it is considered to be one of the world's super foods, packed with anti-oxidants, flavonoids, vitamins and minerals (that's 'good stuff' to the less knowledgable of us). Gram for gram it contains 17 times more vitamin C than carrots and ample amounts of vitamin K. Find out more about it here.

We eat steamed kale quite a lot at home and whilst I enjoy it, it can be a little.... well...... dull. Don't get me wrong..... I like the stuff (except the kale crisps that I got from M&S once which were a seriously unpleasant experience) but a few hurriedly cooked, slightly tough leaves as a 'side' is very uninspiring.

But baby kale leaves? That sounds altogether more interesting! Baby leaves are always more tender, sweeter and likely to be more versatile as they can be eaten raw or cooked, right? Right! And so it is with Baby Kale...... Mild, with a nice crunch and plenty of sweetness, I found myself dipping hand into bag and eating the leaves as though they were Smarties. I am very impressed with this small, but powerful little leaf. The possibilities are going to be endless with this bag!

But back to the task in hand......

Wanting to create something a bit different to persuade my family that salad is not all 'iceberg, tomatoes & cucumber', I have combined a number of my favourite flavours for this dish...... Interestingly ingredients that I often use in risotto....... but having tasted a few of the leaves, decided would pair well.

The savoury earthiness and crisp texture of the baby kale leaves pairs beautifully against the peppery wild rocket and soft sweetness of honey-roast butternut squash, which has been shaved into ribbons before roasting for a more interesting texture and appearance. Set against the firm, slightly chewy, soy-laced chicken, cheesy-salty firm parmesan and intensely-nutty and aromatic crunchy roasted pine nuts and pumpkin seeds, the combination of flavours and sensations on the palate makes for a really interesting fork-full. The final delight is a sweet, syrupy caramel drizzle of rich balsamic vinegar across the top....... Delicious!

Just remember that for those of you who need to avoid gluten, make sure you use the gluten free Shoyu soy sauce, and double check all labels to make sure you don't get a hidden dose of the nasty stuff!

I would thoroughly recommend you try this salad...... it is as flavourful and tantalising to the tastebuds as it is pretty! A meal in itself, it kept me completely satisfied for hours and I could feel smug knowing that it was wonderfully low carb and very healthy. Even my husband liked it......... In fact, he liked it so much, the following day he asked..... 'are you making another one of those salads for lunch?' Now that's a triumph!!

I am sharing my Baby Kale, Honey-Roast Butternut, Chicken, Parmesan and Pine Nut Salad with the following linkys :

Simple & in Season with Elizabeth's Kitchen Diary (on behalf of Ren Behan)

Extra Veg with Veggie Desserts, Fuss Free Flavours and Utterly Scrummy.

Cook Blog Share with Lucy at Supergolden Bakes.

Recipe of the Week with Emily at A Mummy Too.

Tasty Tuesdays this week with Misplaced Brit on behalf of Honest Mummy.

Baby Kale, Honey-Roast Butternut, Chicken, Parmesan & Pine Nut Salad (Serves 2 to 3 people)


One 60g bag Florette Simply Baby Kale leaves
handful (wild) rocket leaves
1 small butternut squash
2 medium chicken breasts - skinned and cut into cubes/pieces
olive oil for roasting and frying
 tablespoons runny honey
sea salt
25g pumpkin seeds &/or pine nuts
1 tablespoon gluten free shoyu (soy sauce)
60g parmesan cheese block
good quality caramelised or fruit-infused balsamic vinegar


  1. Pre-heat the oven to 200 C/400 F/Gas 6.
  2. Prepare the butternut squash by cutting in half, deseeding and peeling. Then take a wide-bladed vegetable peeler and 'shave' the squash into ribbons of flesh.
  3. Place the squash ribbons in a large oven-proof dish, drizzle with olive oil and toss to coat. 
  4. Drizzle the honey over the top and sprinkle with sea salt.
  5. Place in the oven and roast for 30 to 40 minutes, turning occasionally, until the squash is soft and the edges are beginning to crisp up.
  6. Whilst the oven is on and the squash is cooking, put the pumpkin seeds/pine nuts on a baking tray/oven proof dish and place in the oven to roast for 8 to 10 minutes, turning a couple of times during toasting. When toasted, set aside.
  7. Whilst the squash is cooking, also prepare the chicken breasts by cutting into cubes and frying in hot olive oil in a skillet, turning frequently, until cooked through and browned. Half way through cooking, add a splash of shoyu soy sauce and stir through. When cooked, remove with a straining spoon and set aside.
  8. Shave the Parmesan cheese into ribbons using a wide vegetable peeler and set aside.
  9. To assemble the salad, tip the baby kale and rocket into a large bowl and mix together.
  10. Top with the cooked chicken cubes, ribbons of butternut squash, shaved Parmesan and pine nuts/pumpkin seeds.
  11. Drizzle with balsamic vinegar and serve with Focaccia or crusty bread.
With thanks to Florette Salad and Greg at Total Media for providing the opportunity, the salad and the goody bag. I was not paid to write this post, or expected to give a positive write up and all views represented are my own.

Gluten Free Alchemist © 2013-15 unless otherwise indicated

Friday, 22 May 2015

Posh 'Jaffa' Cakes - gluten free

We all love Jaffa cakes right? Those lovely soft cakey-based biscuits filled with orange jelly and topped with chocolate..... The fond memories of childhood....... picking the chocolate off the top to reveal the jelly middle, or eating round the edge until just the middle jelly-rich circle was left...... Last year I even managed to make my own gluten free mixed-berry version.

In love with that combination of textures and flavours, this year I have taken the Jaffa experience a little bit further....... I introduce to you my Posh 'Jaffa' Cakes........

The idea came after I had made a flourless orange cake recently...... As is so often the case, sleepless at night with virtual foodie heaven whirring through my head...... up popped the thought of another orange cake, rich with almonds, layered with home made orange-Cointreau jelly and topped with an oozy, sticky chocolate ganache.

Could it be done? Oh yes!!

The flourless orange cake that I made previously has the most amazing texture, but I was conscious that to make a cake which would hold and support the jelly without being either too wet or too 'squashy', I would need to make the sponge fractionally more dry. I use the term 'dry' very loosely......This is not a dry cake...... and wanting to remain in keeping with this being a flourless cake, I decided to use a small portion of almond flour alongside the ground almonds, which whilst soaking up a little extra wetness and ensuring a slightly stiffer sponge, in no way removes any of the lovely moistness that you would expect from a good bake.

The original flourless orange cake, used Naval oranges. This cake used blood oranges which I was still lucky enough to find lurking in a box in our local farm shop - Macknade. I love blood oranges, but I was really disappointed using them for this cake. I wanted to get a lovely red hue in the sponge, but when the oranges were boiled, all the redness leaked away and the flavour was slightly more bitter than the Naval's when pulped. Hey ho..... take my advice...... if you make these, go for the Naval oranges if you can..... they are sweet and seem to shed no bitterness into the sponge.

These cakes were made in an individual mini sandwich tin which came from Lakeland. It's fab for making straight-sided mini cakes, but if you don't have one, you could equally cut circles from a tray-baked cake or make cored cupcake versions.

The jelly simply uses delicious pure-squeezed clementine juice that I found in Tesco when I was scouting around the chiller cabinets. Wanting however to make it a little bit special, I added a sizeable splosh of Cointreau orange liqueur to the cooling jelly liquid, before it set for an extra boozy surprise. I did of course make some alternative non-alcoholic jelly for my daughter (well.... it wouldn't be right to ply her with alcohol at 9 would it?) and left the zest decoration off the top of the 'straight' cakes, both to distinguish which were hers and to avoid complaints about the 'nasty orange peel stuff' that she so dislikes.

I added no extra sugar to the jelly....... it is just juice (& Cointreau) and gelatine which makes it lovely and tart against the sponge and ganache, yet a perfect enhancement to the intended oranginess.

In fact, this cake is not over-sweet at all and with the exception of a little decadence slathered across the top in the form of a delicious, soft and sumptuous chocolate ganache, it could be considered reasonably healthy(ish)..... Well I can kid myself.... can't I?

As comparisons go, the experience of eating these conjures immediate familiarity with the biscuit version...... but don't kid yourself these are children's party food...... this really is a very grown up 'Jaffa' cake indeed!

I am sharing these amazing orangey delights with a number of linkys :

Cook Blog Share being guest-hosted by Patisserie Makes Perfect on behalf of Lucy at Supergolden Bakes.

Tasty Tuesdays being hosted this week by Misplaced Brit on behalf of Honest Mum.

Treat Petite this month with Stuart at Cakeyboi (& Kat at The Baking Explorer). May's theme is Eurovision. The recipe for the orange cake used in these posh 'Jaffas' originates in Spain, but with Jewish alliance as a traditional passover cake. Jaffa Cakes are of course British in origin! Does that make them multi-cultural?

The Biscuit Barrel with Alexandra at The Lass in the Apron on behalf of I'd Much Rather Bake Than... May's theme is Party. These little orange delights are perfect for any party spread.

Recipe of the Week with Emily at A Mummy Too.

Free From Fridays with Emma at the Free From Farmhouse.

Posh 'Jaffa' Cakes (makes approx 16 individual cakes)


Cake :
2 oranges (I used Blood Oranges, but Naval Oranges are sweeter)
5 large eggs
260g golden caster sugar
250g ground almonds
40g almond flour
1½ teaspoons GF baking powder
A little extra sugar for sprinkling

Jelly :
700 ml freshly squeezed clementine (or orange) juice
200 ml Cointreau (orange liqueur) Optional - for a non-alcoholic jelly, just add the extra 200 ml liquid of pure juice
8 leaves leaf gelatine

Chocolate Ganache : 
110g dark chocolate
110g milk chocolate
230 ml double cream

Orange zest to decorate


  1. Cake : Bring a large pan of water to the boil.
  2. Wash the oranges and place whole into the boiling water. Boil for 2 hours until soft and then drain. Set aside to cool.
  3. Once the oranges have cooled to room temperature, remove the 'stalky' bit from the end and cut into quarters. Remove any obvious pips and then liquidise the orange (including the skin) in a food processor so that you have a smooth, even puree.
  4. Preheat the oven to 170 C/325 F/Gas 3. Lightly oil and flour the inside of individual-holed mini sandwich tins and then base-line with circles of baking paper. (if you only have a 12 hole tin as I do, then use the remaining batter in cupcake cases and core holes when baked to fill with the jelly).
  5. In a large bowl, beat the eggs with the caster sugar until well combined.
  6. Add and stir in the orange puree, ground almonds, almond flour and baking powder.
  7. Pour the batter into the cake tin holes (about two-thirds full) and smooth the top. Lightly sprinkle a little extra caster sugar across the top.
  8. Bake for approx 30 to 40 minutes until the cakes are set, the top is golden and a skewer inserted into the centre comes out clean. 
  9. Remove from the oven and allow the cakes to cool completely in the tin, before transferring to a clean cutting board.
  10. Jelly : While the cake is cooling, make the jelly. Completely line a baking tray 38 cm/15 inches by 25 cm/10 inches (at least 2½ cm/1 inch deep) with baking paper, making sure the corners are folded (not cut) so that the paper fits the tray and the edges come up high above the sides to form a hole-free parchment 'container' in the tray.
  11.  Soak the gelatine according to the manufacturer's instructions.
  12. Heat about half of the orange juice in a saucepan until just beginning to come to a simmer, then turn off the heat.
  13. Drain and add the gelatine to the warm orange juice and stir until completely dissolved.
  14. Pour in the rest of the orange juice and stir through. Then add the Cointreau and stir again.
  15. Pour the jelly liquid into the baking tray and carefully transfer to the fridge to set completely.
  16. Ganache : Cut the chocolate into small pieces and place in a medium-sized glass bowl.
  17. In a clean saucepan, heat the cream until just coming to a simmer, then immediately remove from the heat. Immediately pour over the chocolate and leave to stand for 5 minutes.
  18. Stir the melting chocolate into the cream until you have a smooth chocolate liquid. (If you have any remaining lumps of chocolate, place the bowl over the saucepan containing a little simmering water and stir for a few more seconds until smooth. Remove from the heat immediately).
  19. Set the ganache aside to cool at room temperature, and stir occasionally so that you can check its consistency as it thickens.
  20. Whilst the ganache is cooling and thickening, assemble the cakes :
  21. Cut each of the individual sandwich cakes in half horizontally (and core out the cupcakes if you have made any of those).
  22. Carefully ease the jelly still on the parchment onto the worktop.
  23. Using a round cutter the same size as the circle of the cakes, cut out circles of jelly and very carefully transfer them one at a time onto the bottom half of each cake (you will need to use a spatula or palette knife wide enough to hold each jelly piece completely). If you are using cored cup cakes, use the off-cuts of jelly to spoon into the centre of each before topping with the cake lid.
  24. Sandwich the jelly with the upper side of the cake.
  25. When the ganache has thickened enough to form a spreadable paste, place a large spoonful on top of each cake and smooth.
Gluten Free Alchemist © 2013-15 unless otherwise indicated

Wednesday, 20 May 2015

Travelling Gluten Free (& With Kids)

Tips & Tricks for Travelling Gluten Free

With the holiday season upon us, I wanted to share with you my thoughts on travelling gluten free and how to survive the experience when you have a GF child in tow...... This post is also saved as a separate page for easy reference in the future and can be accessed via the menu at the top of the blog.

I have had some problems with the Google search engine and appear to have been 'deleted' (as at July 2015). In an attempt to discover why, I have read a number of articles. It would appear that one of the issues may be 'duplicate content' which can lead to delisting. 

When this post was first published, I had duplicated it as a permanent page separately in order to enable easy reference to readers in the future. Unfortunately, it may be that this has contributed to the search engine problem and as a result, I have decided to delete the original post that was here and instead link it to the duplicate permanent page which you can access either from the menu above or from here. The content is identical!

Gluten Free Alchemist © 2013-15 unless otherwise indicated

Sunday, 17 May 2015

Oatie Choc-Nut Breakfast Bars - gluten free

I have felt totally exhausted and under the weather this week....... I have no idea why, but I suspect it may be a hint of hay fever which has hit with the warmer Spring weather and the vast fields of yellow rape seed which are in full flower all over the place right now. It gets me every year!

Consequently, I have been neglecting all things 'blog' and have been crashing into bed by 9 in the evening in order to get enough energy to be awake for work the next day. I've finally succumbed to a pack of anti-histamine tablets in the hope that it may help to sort out my fuzzy, tired head.

When you feel that whammed, a good breakfast becomes even more important to help survive the hours ahead. A few weeks back, I posted my Instant Fruit & Nut Porridge Pots which are great to take into work for a filling, energy-full, sustaining breakfast. But with the warmer weather, porridge feels a bit heavy and I need an equally nutritious, easy to transport alternative.

There are quite a few gluten free energy and breakfast bars available in the shops these days, which is great to see...... Many of them have a base of dates, nuts or seeds. Some of them are delicious (I am particularly impressed by the Nakd Bars which are very natural), but nothing beats home-made slices of goodness, put together with all our favourite ingredients.

They are so easy to make too..... mix all the ingredients together, squish into a tin, bake and cut.

Apart from a handful of dark chocolate chips (I just can't resist I am afraid....... but you can use carob chips instead or leave out altogether), these Oatie Choc-Nut Breakfast Bars are full of great stuff..... oats, nuts, seeds, vanilla bean, cocoa...... all sweetened with natural honey and maple syrup. You can adjust the honey and maple syrup to taste, but the quantities here are not over-sweet and I think, are well balanced alongside the rest of the ingredients, for a fuel-filled grab and go breakfast. The dense texture, creamy with oats and a good crunchy bite feels substantial and satisfying. Stuffed with peanut butter, peanut flour, hazelnuts, almonds and flax, they have a wonderfully nutty taste and aroma......

Mine never make it as far as the office........

I am sharing my breakfast bars with :

We Should Cocoa this month being hosted by Karen at Lavender & Lovage on behalf of Choclette at Tin & Thyme. May's theme is Vanilla & Chocolate, both of which are contained here..... I love using vanilla...... in any form, whether beans, paste, extract or powder......

Bake of the Week with Helen over at Casa Costello.

Free From Fridays with Emma at the Free From Farmhouse.

Tasty Tuesdays with Honest Mum.

Recipe of the Week with Emily at A Mummy Too.

Oatie Choc-Nut Breakfast Bars 


90g GF oats (lightly toasted)
30g GF oat flour (make as in this post)
15g peanut flour
35g flax seed
15g cocoa powder
40g coarsely ground hazelnuts
40g flaked almonds
70g dark chocolate or carob chips
60 ml runny honey
40 ml maple syrup
1 tsp vanilla bean paste
120g crunchy peanut butter


  1. Base-line an 8 inch/23 cm square baking tin with baking paper.
  2. Pre-heat the oven to 170 C/325 F/Gas 3.
  3. In a large bowl, mix together the oats, flours, flax seed, cocoa, nuts and chocolate chips.
  4. Add the honey, maple syrup, vanilla and peanut butter and thoroughly combine. You may find it easier mixing with your hands.
  5. Tip the mix into the baking tin and spread evenly.
  6. Use the base of a glass or a small rolling pin to compress the mixture in the tin and smooth the surface.
  7. Bake for 20 to 25 minutes until the edges are just beginning to darken.
  8. Remove from the oven and allow to cool slightly before carefully removing from the tin to a chopping board.
  9. When completely cool, place in the fridge to chill on the board for about 45 minutes before carefully cutting into slices with a very sharp knife. 
  10. Store in an airtight container.
Gluten Free Alchemist © 2013-15 unless otherwise indicated

Sunday, 10 May 2015

Cheddar, Gruyere & Bacon Quiche - gluten free

This coming week is Coeliac Awareness Week in the UK. So I thought I would post something savoury to mark it. Last week I highlighted the campaign in my post on deliciously fruity Raspberry & Blueberry Muffins and shared some of the concerns about diagnosis of Coeliac Disease and misdiagnosis of the condition. You can see the post here.

One of the things that bugs me about shopping for gluten free food, is that the things you used to grab before gluten-freedom as quick 'go to's' in the supermarket for a speedy lunch, for picnics and for a healthy snack are really hard to find. Although you can get the occasional gluten free quiche, sandwich, or salad in the chiller cabinets, I often find we are limited to the same old (very limited) 'selection'. I have never yet seen a GF pasta salad on the shelf and even the most healthy looking tubs of 'superfood' salads contain soy sauce, croutons, semolina, wheat bran, wheat grass or some other variant with gluten. It really pees me off! It wouldn't take much to leave out that tiny bit of an offending ingredient which would then make food far more accessible.

Day to day, it means that us gluten-avoiders have to plan for lunch on the go ahead of time and picnics require on-going thought, so that when the moment arises for an impromptu trip out, the freezer has a good stock of defrostable goodies ready and waiting.

Quiches come into their own in the summer..... Great for picnics and lunches in the garden, they can be made family sized and sliced or as individual mini-pies for an easily-held snack. They are full of good stuff and can be filled with added cheese, veg, meats, fish and herbs to suit your taste (and your mood).

The base recipe here is my absolute 'go to' for quiche. The pastry is crisp and nutritious (having a good portion of ground almonds mixed in) and has yet to fail (or give me a soggy bottom)! Although it doesn't always roll perfectly, it is so easy to 'repair' any cracks or holes, that it can be forgiven an occasional temperamental turn...... The flavour and texture when cooked, far outweigh the small bit of extra attention sometimes required.

My daughter really enjoys a good slice of quiche, but if you ask her what she would like in it, the answer is always the same..... cheese and bacon!

I had wanted to bake and blog a quiche with something different this week, but cheese and bacon is what was requested, so cheese and bacon was made....... I did manage to add some gruyere into the mix for a bit of variation and threw plenty of fresh parsley both into the egg mix and on the top for extra goodness and colour....

I am sharing this simple, but very tasty quiche with :

Alphabakes - this month with Ros at The More Than Occasional Baker (and Caroline Makes).  May's letter is 'Q', so I suspect there may be a few quiches on offer (no doubt many of them with fantastically creative fillings)..... As this is my daughter's favourite and the blog is primarily a record for her, I am happy to cover 'basic'!

Simply Eggcellent - with the lovely Dom at Belleau Kitchen. This month, he has asked for eggy wonders that are 'savoury'...... I guess there may be a few quiches sent over there as well then......

The Pastry Challenge - with Jen's Food and United Cakedom. This is a new challenge for me, but as getting a good gluten free pastry recipe can be tricky, I wanted to share mine as I love it so much.... May's theme is 'picnics'. For me, quiche is the perfect picnic food....

Credit Crunch Munch, this month with the BakingQueen74, on behalf of Fuss Free Flavours and Fab Food 4 All. Lucy at Baking Queen has asked for some seasonal ingredients to be included this month.... As the quiche has a load of parsley, which is growing well in the garden right now, I hope that will suffice.

Cheddar, Gruyere & Bacon Quiche (makes 1 x 25 cm/10 inch flan)


Pastry :
130g brown rice flour
50g corn flour
1 teaspoon xanthan gum
½ teaspoon fine sea salt
40g ground almonds
110g cold butter (cut into small cubes)
1 large egg
1 tablespoon cold water

Cheddar, Bacon & Gruyere Filling :
8 rashers (about 200g) back bacon (cut into small pieces)
60g mature cheddar cheese - grated
60g Gruyere cheese - grated
3 large eggs
250ml double cream
50ml milk
2 to 3 tablespoons finely chopped fresh parsley (+ a little more for decoration)
salt and pepper to season


  1. Pastry : Weigh and sieve the flours, xanthan gum and salt into a large bowl and stir together with the ground almonds.
  2. Rub the butter into the flour mixture until it resembles breadcrumbs.
  3. In a small bowl, beat the egg with the water and then pour into the crumb mixture.
  4. Stir the wet ingredients into the crumb mixture using a table knife until it begins to clump together.
  5. Bring the dough together with your hands and press into a ball. Knead very briefly to ensure ingredients are fully amalgamated.
  6. Roll out the pastry straight away (do not chill in the fridge), using a liberal sprinkling of corn flour on the work surface and rolling pin to prevent any sticking. 
  7. Roll to a piece large enough to base line a 25cm/10 inch flan tin and carefully lay the rolled pastry over the tin with the support of the rolling pin. Ease into the base, gently moulding into the sides of the tin.
  8. Trim the pastry edge flush with the top of the tin, using a sharp knife.
  9. If there are any cracks or holes in the rolled pastry base, use the trimmed remains to 'repair'. - Roll and cut to size, and using cold water, dampen both the area around the crack/hole and the down-side of the 'patch' and gently press together, smoothing the edges with a finger dipped in water to seal and tidy.
  10. Place the prepared flan pastry in the fridge for half an hour to chill prior to baking.
  11. Pre-heat the oven to 200 C/400 F/Gas 5.
  12. Scrunch and then flatten a piece of baking paper large enough to lay inside the flan base and base-fill the pastry case with baking beans.
  13. When the oven has reached temperature, blind-bake the pastry with the baking beans for 10 minutes. Remove the beans and bake for a further 5 minutes.
  14. Whilst the pastry base is cooking, prepare the filling ready for use.
  15. Filling : Gently cook the bacon in a small non-stick pan, stirring frequently, until it is golden brown but not crispy. Then set aside on some kitchen towel to drain any excess moisture.
  16. Grate the cheeses and combine together.
  17. Beat the eggs, cream, milk, parsley and seasoning together in a bowl until well combined and airy.
  18. When your pastry cases are cooked and ready, remove from the oven and turn the heat down to 180 C/350 F/Gas 4.
  19. Sprinkle the bacon in an even layer at the base of the pastry case, followed by a layer of grated cheese (reserving a small amount of cheese to sprinkle on the top). 
  20. Pour the egg mixture over the top of the bacon and cheese and sprinkle the remaining cheese on the top.
  21. Bake immediately for about 30 minutes until the top is firm and set and there is no 'wobble'.
  22. Remove from the oven and sprinkle a little extra parsley on the top before serving.
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