Friday, 30 November 2012

Nut roast - a handy food for gf vegetarians - guests or visits

I was strolling around Worcester (UK) this evening as it is their Victorian Christmas Fair - the centre of town is thronged with stalls, stallholders wearing Victorian- style clothing.  There were lots of food stalls selling burgers and sausages in buns (and yes, the burgers had cereal in, I checked), pizza, dutch pancakes, french crepes, Balinese spring rolls, Spanish churros....I could have had hot chestnuts but preferred to just watch others eating and kept myself safe.

Then I came across Nevins Speciality Foods selling gluten free nut roasts. They are a new business and their website is not up and running yet (Dec 2012) but will be  I bought a Cranberry and Chestnut nut roast.  The individually packed in paper baking cases and plastic wrap, and look inviting.  They have breadcrumbs in, made with Doves Farm flour and no xanthum gum.   There are other flavours, but those had dairy in so I didn't try them.

These individual nut roasts (though they would serve two unless you had been tramping miles or had nothing else with them) can be frozen.

This one had a firm though not hard texture, a moist middle, and a sweet and savoury flavour that would make it very versatile.  The chestnut flavour did not dominate.

An excellent addition to the convenience foods available to the gluten avoider.

As these are currently being sold at venue direct from maker to consumer the labels do not list all the ingredients.  For example, this nut roast does have dairy in the breadcrumb, but it isn't listed.  Be a little cautious and quiz the seller if you are very sensitive.


a few minutes after eating this I got an allergic reaction.  Very odd, as I don't normally have allergic reactions to any foods.  I am allergic to Erythromycin and zinc oxide...but those aren't going to be in a nut roast.  Will phone and get more details.  

After the phone call- no idea what caused the problem.  I should eat the remainder of the nut roast today to check that I get the same reaction, but don't feel inclined to to this.  Spoke to the maker, can't figure out what caused it as nothing in the food that would worry me.  Maybe there was an airborne allergen in the market area that produced a reaction after I got back - I do react powerfully to insect bites, stinging nettles etc so just possible some strange product floating off the Christmas wreath, strings of dried oranges, scented candles etc.

Sunday, 25 November 2012

M&S gluten free beefburger in bun

Shopping today I noticed that M&S have taken the trouble to use a gluten free crumb in their standard beefburger.   On the rare occasions I eat burgers I usually buy organic mince and make my own burgers, but I thought it was worth trying these.  I also bought some of their gf brown buns.

The burger looked good.  I cut the beef burger itself in half as it was so thick, and layered this with salad and ketchup and mustard.  The bun has the usual gf problem that it is powdery and tends to disintegrate.  If I could tolerate cheese I would have melted cheese and spread it on both halves of the bun - this is a good way of making gf breads hold together.

Much of the bun ended up in the bin, but nonetheless I am impressed with the efforts made by M&S.  At least with this kind of food being available people can join in normal activities.

Sunday, 11 November 2012

Spiced pear and chicken salad

Pears are in season here in the UK at the moment.  Ginger goes well with pear and also with chicken, so I made a simple warm salad with these ingredients as the base.

For two people

I small chicken breast, cut into strips
1 firm pear, peeled, cored and cut into similar sized pieces
1 piece of fresh root ginger, about 1cm cubed, cut into small strips
1 red chilli, de-seeded if you want to moderate the heat, chopped
1 tsp soy sauce - I use Sanchi Tamari gf soy sauce
1/4 tsp sugar
2 tsp oil
little water - I used an espresso cup
Salad leaves

Heat the oil in a large pan/skillet.  Place the chicken strips carefully into the hot oil and start to brown them.  Add the pear strips and the rest of the ingredients except the water.  When chicken is cooked add the water to form a sauce, cook for a minute.

Cool slightly and then toss salad leaves in the sauce, placing chicken and pear on top.

Serve immediately.

Gluten free cranberry and hazlenut biscotti

These hazlenut biscotti have a warm, complex flavour with a lighter texture than my usual biscotti.  They have a hint of cinnamon but if you want a spicier flavour just add more spice, perhaps with mixed spice or ginger as well as the cinnamon.  If you like an iced biscotti, making a glace icing with icing sugar and ginger wine would work well.

150g hazlenuts, toasted, skins scruffled off and lightly chopped
150g pine kernals, lightly toasted
150g dried cranberries
250g sugar
150g ground almonds
150g flour (40% urid, 40% tapioca, 20% cornmeal)
2 tsp baking powder
2 tsp cinnamon
3 eggs
1 tsp vanilla.

Set oven to 175C.

Mix the flours, sugar, baking powder and spice together.  Stir in the egg and vanilla.  It should make a stiffish dough.  Mix in chopped nuts, pine kernal and cranberries.  This can be hard work; I tend to just smush it all together with my hands.  If you are using a food mixer it should be easy but add the nuts with the machine on a very low setting or they will tend to fly out around the room.

Make four logs of the dough on two parchment lined baking sheets. Cook at 175C for about fifteen minutes.  The outside will be getting crisp but the middle will be gooey. Let the logs cool for a few minutes then cut into slices and rebake for another ten minutes or so. You can leave the biscotti between the two stages of cooking if that is more convenient- this will also make the biscotti more easy to handle.

Cool on a baking rack.  Store in airtight container.  These keep very well - I have kept them for a couple of months without any reduction in the quality.