Thursday, 27 July 2017

Halloumi & Sweet Summer Veg BBQ Kebabs (free from gluten, egg, nuts, soy) #FreeFromBBQ

These Halloumi and Sweet Summer Veg BBQ Kebabs are the latest delicious Mediterranean-inspired treat to be eaten in the Gluten Free Alchemist garden. The vibrant, crisp sun-sweet peppers, soft and squirty cherry tomatoes and crunchy red onions are perfectly offset by the saltiness of the 'squeaky', slightly chewy Halloumi cheese. Naturally free from gluten, egg, nuts and soy, they are just what you need for a #FreeFromBBQ.

Halloumi is one of my very favourite summer-time cheeses. I love it sliced or cubed,..... grilled, fried, oven -baked or barbecued,....... served alongside salads and veg. It has to be slightly singed and crisp at the edges for the best texture, but once cooked, is one of the most moreish savoury ingredients I know.

These BBQ skewers are so easy to make, although (as I discovered the first time I made them), are best poked onto fine, round skewers...... The flat ones have a tendency to crack and split the cheese, leaving it at risk of certain inedible death on hot coals.

Halloumi, which hails from Cypress, is a semi-hard, brined cheese, made most often with a mix of sheep and goat milk. Because of its higher melting point, it can be grilled without risk of 'puddling', so it is ideal for summer barbecues.

This year we have been making the most of our Cobb barbecue, which has to be the best piece of outdoor equipment we have ever invested in...... Compact, transportable and efficient, this little gem works on special 'Cobblestones' made from coconut shell, which burn hotter than charcoal (although you can also use good quality charcoal briquettes or restaurant-grade lump wood). The unique design means that it stays cold on the outside, so that it is safe enough to cook centre-table for a truly shared barbecue experience.

It packs into a handy bag, making it great for camping, taking down the beach, barbie picnics wherever you choose, or just hanging out with friends at home. Taking just a few minutes for the Cobblestone to come to cook temperature means it is ready for action in a flash....... ideal for the temperamental UK weather that can change in an instant. Once lit, the Cobblestone will stay hot for about two hours.....

Which brings us to the English Summer...... Why is it that as soon as the school's break up for the holidays, the weather turns cold and wet? Is it just me, or is it a bit of a conspiracy? I am so hoping the sun returns soon.....

Over at Gluten Free Alchemist we love to share our discoveries, so I am sending these Halloumi & Sweet Summer Veg BBQ Skewers over to :

Cook Blog Share with Hijacked By Twins

Recipe of the Week with A Mummy Too

Simple & in Season with Feeding Boys

Meat Free Mondays with Tinned Tomatoes

Free From Fridays with Le Coin De Mel

Brilliant Blog Posts with Honest Mum

Got To Be Gluten Free with Glutarama

Fiesta Fridays #182

Halloumi & Sweet Summer Veg BBQ Kebabs


225g (1 block) Halloumi - cut into medium cubes
1 red onion - peeled, trimmed & quartered (split into pieces 2 to 3 layers thick)
2 peppers - red/yellow/orange - deseeded and cut into chunks
approx 280g cherry tomatoes (red/yellow)
a little olive oil

You will need skewers which are finely pointed and round (not flat edged) as these go through the Halloumi with less splitting of the cheese


  1. Randomly skewer the vegetables and Halloumi onto the skewers, being careful as you poke the skewer through (a gentle twisting action helps), to avoid splitting the cheese.
  2. Drizzle the skewers with a little olive oil.
  3. Place on a hot BBQ and cook, turning occasionally until the veg is softening and the edges are beginning to char nicely.
  4. Eat!
Gluten Free Alchemist © 2013-17 unless otherwise indicated

Wednesday, 19 July 2017

Chocolate & Mint Whoopie Pies (gluten free) - Miss GF Makes #12

Miss GF has been making gluten free Chocolate & Mint Whoopie Pies and they're good! It has to be one of my all time favourite flavour pairings and I think it may be becoming one of hers too.

There is a perfect contrast both in taste and colour between dark, rich, decadent chocolate and cool, light, tingly, green mint. It's a harmonious marriage of opposites which just 'works'.

I love when I come home to find Miss GF creating in the kitchen. it amazes me every time I find her there, that a child of eleven can be so confident with a bowl, spoon and a container of (gluten free) flour.

I say I love coming home to the baking, which is always a joy, but there is a dual creativity happening and the creation of washing up and kitchen calamity that often accompanies it is less so. I admit, I have not always been the most patient around mess in the kitchen. I tend to be a fairly tidy baker..... clearing and washing up as I go..... frequently wiping down surfaces and getting utensils out as I need them.

Children do not think in my orderly way as a rule, or plan ahead for what they need and at times, this has lead to my being less that 'positive' when I have returned to piles of greasy, batter-smeared bowls, spoons and pans and several open abandoned packets of ingredients. At times I confess, I have been more than a tad grumpy and I have often scolded myself later for not just stepping back and allowing her 'to be'.

I have got better.... I think...... and mostly will now walk in and just quietly clear up around her. Regardless of my underlying intolerance of mess, I am so so proud of how imaginative and skilful she is when baking and I would hate for that enthusiasm to be dampened.

Her Chocolate & Mint Whoopie Pies were a random, seemingly unplanned bake, but were no less delicious for it.  The recipe amalgamated a handful of others she had found and was then de-glutened using some gluten free, rice-free flour blend that I had left over from my experimenting with some baguettes. Either way, she did a fab job..... soft but firm individual chocolatey mounds of cake, sandwiched together with fresh, bright, mint butter icing...... half dipped in dark chocolate and topped with broken cigarillos found wanting and left over from an Easter cake that I made back in April.

These little Chocolate-Mint morsels would be a perfect offering at any time and for any occasion, although we just ate them because we could!

I am sharing Miss GF's Whoopie creations with :

Bake of the Week with Mummy Mishaps and Casa Costello

Treat Petite with The Baking Explorer

Cook Blog Share with Everyday Healthy Recipes

Recipe of the Week with A Mummy Too

We Should Cocoa with Tin & Thyme - I know there is a one entry per blog limit on Choclette's linky, but I am hoping that since this entry is not mine, but from Miss GF, that we might be able to sneak it in....

Brilliant Blog Posts with Honest Mum

Other Gluten Free Chocolate-Mint Recipes on Gluten Free Alchemist :
Chocolate-Mint 'After Eight' Ice Cream Cake Sandwiches
Double Mint-Choc-Chip Ice Cream
Layered Choc-Mint Christmas Tree Cake
Minty Chocolate Brownies
Chocolate Mint Birthday Bundt
No Churn Mint Choc-Chip Ice Cream

Chocolate & Mint Whoopie Pies (makes about 16 whoopie pies)


35g sorghum flour
20g white teff flour
20g buckwheat flour
60g tapioca flour
20g potato starch
30g cornflour
(or substitute with 180g rice free flour blend from this post or an equivalent 185g flour blend such as Free From Fairy Flour - see sidebar for link)
½ teaspoon xanthan gum
40g cocoa powder
½ teaspoon GF baking powder
1½ teaspoons bicarbonate of soda
125 ml milk
¾ tablespoon white wine vinegar
225g caster sugar
125g unsalted butter (room temperature)
½ teaspoon vanilla extract
2 large eggs - room temperature

Mint Butter Icing
125g unsalted softened butter
approx 280g icing sugar
1 to 2 tablespoons milk
a few drops of peppermint extract
a little green food colouring paste

approx 160g dark chocolate
sprinkles for decoration (optional)


  1. Sponges : Weigh and mix together the flours, xanthan gum, cocoa, baking powder and bicarbonate of soda, making sure any lumps are broken down (I mix up in a large airtight container and shake vigorously).
  2. Preheat the oven to 180 C/350 F/Gas 4. Base-line 3 large baking sheets with baking paper.
  3. Mix the milk with the white wine vinegar in a jug and leave to stand for about 10 minutes (the mixture will become quite lumpy).
  4. In a large bowl, beat together the sugar, butter and vanilla until pale and fluffy.
  5. Add the eggs one at a time, beating well between each until smooth and combined.
  6. Add and fold in the flour mixture alternately with the milk to the butter-egg mix, until you have a smooth, thick batter. 
  7. Spoon the mixture into a large piping bag, fitted with a 1 cm round plain nozzle and pipe onto the lined trays, into round, slightly flattened mounds (roughly equal in size and leaving a gap for a little spreading between each), about 3 to 4 cm in diameter. 
  8. Bake for 8 to 10 minutes until the tops are firm to touch.
  9. Allow to cool slightly on the trays, before transferring to a wire rack to cool completely.
  10. Meanwhile, make the Mint Icing : Beat the butter in a large bowl until soft and creamy.
  11. Gradually add and beat in the icing sugar a little at a time, with a little milk as needed if the mixture becomes too stiff. 
  12. Add the mint extract to taste and green food colour and beat to blend.
  13. When you have a thick, creamy frosting, pair your whoopies for size.
  14. Spread or pipe a thick layer of frosting onto the flat side of one of the paired whoopie cakes and sandwich together with the other side.
  15. To decorate (optional) : melt the chocolate either in a glass bowl over a pan of simmering water (stirring) or in the microwave at medium setting and using 30 second bursts, stirring between each until melted.
  16. Either dip the whoopies in the chocolate or drizzle the chocolate over them and sprinkle with chocolate sprinkles, etc. Leave to allow the chocolate to set.
Gluten Free Alchemist © 2013-17 unless otherwise indicated

Tuesday, 11 July 2017

Dark & Chewy Chocolate-Peanut Butter Cookies - gluten free #RecipeRefurb

Check out these Dark & Chewy Chocolate-Peanut Butter Cookies. They are a favourite recipe of mine. Sweet, chocolatey, peanutty, chewy yumciousness which are incredibly simple to make. You can knock up a batch in about half an hour, if you work with speedy hands.

I have recently been revisiting old recipes and whilst doing so, have been updating a few photographs. Some of my earlier photos were so cruddy, that making recipes again seems a great opportunity for a revamp. Midge over at Peachicks Bakery has also been doing a few updates under the hashtag #RecipeRefurb, so I thought I would join her!

A couple of weeks ago, I made a double batch of these cookies for a Unit team day at work. They went down a storm with lots of colleagues telling me they needed the recipe. I'm not surprised. They are laden with oodles of crunchy peanut butter and cocoa and stuffed full of chocolate chips. Let's face it.... there's no better combo than chocolate and peanut for sheer indulgence and cookie comfort.

When I devised the recipe, it was loosely based on my earlier Peanut Chocolate-Chip Biscuits, but these cookies are much softer, spread further when baked and have had the flour removed and replaced with a cocoa hit. Each batch makes 18 to 20 cookies which should go a long way, but be warned..... they are totally addictive.... They don't last over at the Gluten Free Alchemist....

I am sharing my amazing Dark & Chewy Chocolate-Peanut Butter Cookies with :

Recipe of the Week with A Mummy Too

Cook Blog Share with Recipes Made Easy

Bake of the Week with Casa Costello and Mummy Mishaps

Brilliant Blog Posts with Honest Mum

Treat Petite with The Baking Explorer

Cook Once Eat Twice with Searching for Spice

We Should Cocoa with Tin & Thyme

Free From Fridays with the Free From Farmhouse and Le Coin De Mel

Dark & Chewy Chocolate-Peanut Butter Cookies (makes 18 to 20 cookies)


140g soft light brown sugar
25g cocoa powder
¾ teaspoon bicarbonate of soda
150g crunchy peanut butter
½ teaspoon vanilla extract
1 large egg - lightly beaten
100g dark chocolate chunks/chips


  1. Line 2 baking sheets with baking paper.
  2. Preheat the oven to 180 C/350 F/ Gas 4.
  3. Weigh and mix together the sugar, cocoa and bicarbonate of soda, ensuring any lumps of sugar are completely broken down.
  4. Add the peanut butter, vanilla and egg and stir thoroughly until the mixture is well-combined and even.
  5. Add the chocolate chunks and mix again until evenly distributed throughout the dough.
  6. Divide the dough into approximately 14 even-sized portions, rolling into balls with your hands.
  7. Flatten each ball slightly between the palms of your hands and place on the baking sheets allowing room for spreading between each.
  8. Bake for 9 to 10 minutes, swapping the trays around in the oven half way through cooking to ensure an even bake.
  9. Remove from the oven and leave on the trays for about 10 minutes until the cookies are firm enough to transfer to a wire rack to cool completely.
Gluten Free Alchemist © 2013-17 unless otherwise indicated

Friday, 7 July 2017

Nairn's New Gluten Free Oat Snack Range..... Have You Tried It Yet?

I've been trying Nairn's new gluten free oat snack range and I think I am hooked. Seriously..... I don't leave the house in the morning without a bag in my hand. I know that at sometime during the morning (and usually before I reach the office), that little bag of goodness will be just what I need to keep hunger from knocking.

As a company, Nairn's have always been one of my favourites for oats and long before I needed to be gluten free, they would be my natural choice for oat cakes. I trust them. Their products have always been straight forward and great-tasting..... so being gluten free, it is a relief to see Nairn's on the free from shelves too....

Oats can be tricky little beggars if you are Coeliac and I am often asked the question 'so how are gluten free oats different from ordinary oats and are they really a problem?' So here's a quick and dirty explanation :

Oats themselves do not contain gluten, but they do contain a similar protein called avenin, to which about 5% of Coeliacs are intolerant. If Coeliac, it is important to know whether you are one of the 5%. It used to be that you would need to completely remove oats (gluten free or not) from your diet for 6 to 12 months after diagnosis, whilst your body healed from gluten-poisoning, before a gradual reintroduction and monitoring of impact. Recently, gastroenterology guidelines for coeliac management have changed to allow oats to continue to be eaten from the point of diagnosis, but it is important for you to check the best process with your consultant to be sure.

If you can tolerate oats, great! Why then do you need gluten free oats? It's simply a matter of cross contamination and that's a big risk if you are Coeliac. Have you ever looked across the top of the average oat field? You will be amazed at what else is growing in there! You can pretty much guarantee there will be some sneaky wheat, barley or rye sharing ground space and it will still be hanging around waiting for harvest and milling with the rest of the crop and ready to contaminate. So if you want to be safe, you have to eat gluten free oats.

How can you be sure they are safe? Producers of gluten free oats have to comply with strict conditions and at Nairn's, the oats are carefully farmed, being checked in the field to ensure there is no contamination during either the growing and milling process, and making sure they test every truck which enters and leaves the mill.

They now have a dedicated gluten free factory to bake their gluten free oats safely too, tested and approved by Coeliac UK...... Just make sure you choose from the gluten free range and check for the crossed grain symbol and gluten free labelling for reassurance.

What's so great about oats? Simple! If you are one of the 95% of Coeliacs who can eat them, they are full of good stuff essential to your diet. A great slow-release energy food, they are low GI and a fantastically versatile source of soluble fibre, which is essential for good digestion. Proven to help reduce cholesterol, keep blood-sugar levels stable and decrease high blood pressure, they are also rich in minerals and B-vitamins, which are important for good bone health.

We get through loads of them at the Gluten Free Alchemist, both as straight gluten free oats and added to our flour blends (it's really easy to make your own oat flour). Great food. Versatile. Great taste!

Gluten free family

Photo courtesy of Nairn's

What of the Nairn's range? It seems to be getting better all the time...... In addition to gluten free oats for baking, their range includes oatcakes, muesli and instant porridge with no added sugar and also lower-sugar biscuit breaks, wholegrain crackers and oaty snacks. Their new Gluten Free Astro Bites contain 40 to 50% less sugar when compared to other similar kids biscuits, which has to be good right?

Did I say kids? Nah! These have no restrictions! I loved the Astro Bites (which come in 3 flavours : Berry, Choc Chip and Cheese) as much as Miss GF. Sure they are shaped into spaceships, shooting stars and cute little spacemen, but we grown ups can devour a universe as much as little people. These snack-bags of oaty fun are perfect at any time of the day..... and that little rebellious streak in me brings a wry smile when I munch them at work whilst sitting amongst the great and the good!

Beware though...... the Sea Salt and Balsamic Vinegar Snackers are way too addictive. The salty-sweet tang on the tongue has you dipping in the bag until it is empty and then rummaging around the depths of your drawer, wishing you could find more.......

I am linking up with :

Brilliant Blog Posts with Honest Mum

Free From Fridays with Le Coin De Mel

With thanks to Nairns for providing samples of their Gluten Free Oat Snacks to try. I received no payment for this post and was not required to write a review. All views expressed here are my own.

Gluten Free Alchemist © 2013-17 unless otherwise indicated