Thursday, November 28, 2013

BBQ Sauce recipe

2 cloves garlic, grated or crushed
2 tbsp brown sugar
8 tbsp tomato ketchup
4 tbsp sweet chilli sauce
4 tbsp GF soy sauce
2 tsp chinese 5 spice
2 tsp colmans mustard powder

This is such a great recipe and easy to do.  I cook ribs or chicken drumsticks straight in the sauce in the oven.  If cooking chicken, you'll find the sauce is a little watery when the chicken is cooked through, but this can be solved by heating the sauce through on the hob to reduce it some more (i.e. boiling it to evaporate some more water). Sauce is done when you have the desired stickyness!

Wednesday, October 30, 2013

GF Mama tips

One of the difficulties of GF cooking when you're a mummy of small children has to be the lack of cooking shortcuts that gluten food products afford. No cous cous, no fancy shop bread or tortillas for quick sides , no pasta you don't have to continuously stir, no ready made puff or shortcrust pastry, no supernoodles with sauce included.....I could go on and on!!  At least you can now get GF takeaways from some big chains these days, but you'll still pay a fair whack for them.

But that said, if you are organised, there are ways to make life easier and to stop you spending so much on food.  By making more yourself, you can also avoid the "siege mentality" of feeling like you have to always have lots of "free from" products in stock in case the shops run out (something I used to do all the time!)

Made-in-advance Doughs
You can make doughs (Pizza/Pie/Pasta/cookie) in advance when you have time for example at the weekend or evening when your partner is at home to look after the kids.  Why not make up a few balls of dough and keep them in the freezer then just pop one in the fridge to defrost the day before.  Cookie dough can be sliced and baked straight from frozen if you freeze it in a log shape wrapped in baking parchment and then foil. I roll out and cut my pasta dough into tagliatelle shapes and cook straight from frozen too.

Pre-dinner Prep
Slow cook oven dishes are good to prepare if your child has a midday/afternoon nap or chop the veg night before.  Casseroles pre-prepared and put in the oven, you can either put on a low temp oven for hours or just turn on the oven 1 1/2 - 3 hrs before you want to eat.  Jambalaya/Rissoto/Piella can also be oven cooked in a casserole dish. Bechamel sauce can be made in advance (which needs constant stirring) as it'll keep in the fridge for a couple of days.  This could be the base for a fish pie,  a mac'n'cheese dish or a lasagne.

Kitchen Gadgets
Microwave steamer - better than a rice cooker if you're limited on space and cheaper. John lewis do a really good medium-sized one. Cooks rice in 20 mins without any interference (stirring) so is easy to set going while you're busy doing something else. Also great for steaming fish/veg.
Food Thermos - A decent one will set you back £10 but is invaluable if you ever want to use leftover food for lunch like pasta/risotto/soup. Keep hot foods hot for 6 hrs.
Slow cooker - seriously want one of these. Although you can use conventional oven to make casserole style dishes, slow cookers use far less electricity and can be set to cook overnight/over the whole day while you are out. Some also have a keep warm function. Good for cooking cheap cuts of meat for making dishes such as pulled pork. Because things are cooked over a longer time than conventional ovens, you get more flavour.

Kid's Packed Lunches
It's easy to get sucked into doing the usual sandwiches + expensive bagged snacks/bars/crisps for lunches. But regular foods can look more enticing and snack-like if you put them into small boxes/zippy bags, compartmentalising them like a Japanese lunchbox - "Bento" style. e.g. grapes, crisps from a family pack, popcorn, crackers, clementines cut into smiley quarters, cubed sausage, cubed cheese, nuts, breakfast cereal, raisins, yoghurt and honey in small pot. There's loads of great bento ideas on the web, if you do an image search.

Thursday, June 20, 2013

Flours update

When I started on gluten-free eating years ago I greatly resisted having a cupboard full of different pots of flour where I once only had one (wheat). But over time I've settled into which  gluten free flours are good to use for what.

I don't know if it's the effect of the recession hitting smaller firms/co-operatives or what, but I've been finding it harder and harder to source speciality flours that are GF:

  • Holland and Barrat's NealsYard flour ranges aren't guaranteed GF and I suspected I might be reacting the the brown rice flour. Although, misleadingly the only allergen info on the packs say possible sesame/nut CC - I emailed them and they said that they cannot guarantee GF as cereals are processed in their factories.
  • Tesco have stopped selling the community foods soya, potato and rice flour.
  • Polenta - it seems impossible to find a brand guaranteed GF!  None of the brands I've found say anything about GF on them and when emailed they can't say they are GF - Merchant gourmet and Natco to name a couple that I can't tolerate.  Very frustrating as it was quite a good substitute for breadcrumbs and good in cakes to make them feel less starchy,

As a result, I've had to simplify my use of GF flours for baking etc

This is now what I keep in my kitchen:
Corn starch - Use in baking to help with the texture of cakes/biscuits.  Can be used as a sauce thickener (I think potato starch is better though). Buy in normal baking section of any supermarket
Potato starch - I use this as a clear sauce/gravy thickener.  Mix 2 tbsp with a little water in a cup and stir into your sauce whilst heating gently. It will soon go clear and thicken. buy in Asian stores.
Ground almonds - I add this to pastry/cracker dough to give it a softer texture.
Doves GF plain flour - from any supermarket. It is a mix of flours, with a little xanthum.
Doves GF gram flour - chickpea flour. high protein flour good for use in crackers, pastry, and onion bhajis.

Pre-cooked rice powder - this makes baby porridge, just add hot water.  Also good for travelling breakfast.  Add jam or stewed fruit. Buy in baby sachets or in bigger bags in Asian supermarkets.


I make bread/pasta/pastry with 2/3rds generic GF flour and 1/3rd gram flour.

For cakes I use just the generic plain gf flour.

Glycemic Index (G.I.) of carbohydrates

Other than cost and lack of variety on the freefrom shelves, another big motivation for baking at home  is that I try to use less refined starch flours than I can find in shop-bought goods.  These flours have a high glycemic index meaning they release energy too quickly and don't fill you up for long (but they do help the final texture of cakes/biscuits).  A GF diet can be very high G.I. (Glycemic Index) so you may find yourself experiencing blood sugar highs and lows because of your choice of carbs.

Try to increase the protein and fibre in your baked goods to make them more filling by including wholegrain or bean flours and adding a little psyllium or flax. 

Monday, May 13, 2013

DF smoked cheese

Loving the new "soya smoked" from tescos.

That is all.

Saturday, April 13, 2013

What's up with Gluten?

Great video doc from Canada on coeliacs and gluten sensitivity:!

Tuesday, March 26, 2013

Creamy chicken and potato bake

Yum. Tonight's dinner, served with homemade mustard seedy soya bread:

Fry some pancetta/streaky bacon in a casserole dish with some garlic, onion, diced potatos (1 cm pieces),  and leeks and chicken thighs (squash, peas or broad beans also go well).  Add chicken stock until the veg is covered and a little cream (i used soya), a few whole black peppercorns and some dried marjoram.  bake in hot oven for 40-50 mins or until the chicken is cooked.  I then take the meat off the bone and return it to the dish so it's easier to eat but the sauce has more flavour if you cook it with the bone/skin.  If you like a thicker sauce, mix 2 tsp potato flour with 1/4 cup cold water and mix thoroughly into the sauce, returning to the oven for another quick blast of heat.

Soya Bread
400ml water
2 tsp dried yeast

1 tsp sugar
1 tsp salt

2-3 tbsp oil
1 or 2 eggs, beaten
2 ½ cups GF bread flour

1 cup soya flour

Mix the ingredients into a thick batter and put into a paddle-less bread machine pan, tapping to level it out (it should have the consistency a little thicker than muffin batter). Bake on a wholewheat setting (i.e. not quick GF setting) so that it has two rise cycles before baking. I use setting 2 of my morphy richards machine which takes 3 1/2 hours.

It is amazingly like real bread when freshly baked (I've made it fresh for my non-GF friends and family), however, it is loads easier to slice when it's cool but it's best eaten warm so I reheat  the slices for 40secs on high in the microwave or toast under the grill.

Saturday, January 19, 2013

Banana choc Ice-cream Recipe

3 ripe bananas, sliced and frozen for 1-2 hrs
2-3 tbsp honey
2 tsp cocoa
(2-3 tbsp soya milk) optional

Place the banana and cocoa in your blender and pulse until you have a frozen crumby looking mixture.

Add the honey and blend until you have a smooth creamy texture, stopping to scrape down the sides frequently.  Depending on the ripeness of your bananas, you may need to add a little soya milk as well as the honey.

Spoon into a tub and freeze.  It should have a nice soft, ice-cream texture.

Wednesday, January 16, 2013

Adventures in breadmaking

After baking 2 dismal bread pancakes following the instructions that came with my Morphy Richards bread maker and the gluten free setting....I found some recipes online and tweaked a bit.

Here is my flax rice bread which is the tastiest so far (click to enlarge). Slice on the day it is made and toast on subsequent days straight from fridge or freezer.

I beat ingredients into a batter with a balloon whisk and put into paddle-less bread machine pan. Place pan in machine after 2nd knead cycle (listen out for beeps) using setting 2 (wholemeal) for 2 rises and a bake.

Sesame Flax Rice Bread
2 large eggs
1 ⅔ cup water
2 tsp yeast
3 tbsp sugar
1 ½ tsp salt
3 tbsp oil
1 tsp vinegar
¼ cup brown rice flour
½ cup flaxseed flour
2 ½ cup GF bread flour

1/4 cup of sesame and mustard seeds

my basic rice bread didn't rise quite as well but I suspect I didn't get the amount of water quite right:

Basic Rice Bread
400ml water
2 tsp dried yeast

1 tsp sugar
1 tsp salt

2-3 tbsp oil
2 eggs, beaten
3 ½ cups GF bread flour