Sunday, 17 November 2013

Farewell- eat well and goodbye

I haven't written much on this blog lately.  Life has changed, both my own and the general food environment.  Travelling in Cornwall the other day I stopped at a Starbucks cafe and was able to have a  gluten free sandwich, and my sister emailed me from Kolkata to say she had been to a spaghetti place and had gf ravioli!

So, despite the fact that much still needs to be done to improve food quality, both aesthetic and safety, and availability, and I still encounter waiters who look startled and completely nonplussed when I ask if things are gluten free, I am not going to write this blog any more.

Thanks to all of you that made me feel my work helped you a little too. Goodbye.

Thursday, 19 September 2013

Triple ginger freezer biscuits - gluten and dairy free

This sticky dough is easy to handle if rolled in clingfilm and frozen.  Slice and bake a few biscuits at a time for a warm spicy aroma in the house on a cold winter day and a lovely crunchy treat.


200g ground almonds
200g flour (40%urid, 40%tapioca, 20% brown rice)
1 tsp baking powder
1 tsp cinnamon
1/4 tsp ground clove
1 tsp ground ginger (add more if wanted- this gives quite a mild ginger flavour)
100g sugar
120g dark brown muscovado sugar
75ml oil
2 eggs
20g grated fresh ginger
75g crystallised ginger, chopped
belgian waffle pearl sugar or sugar crystals for topping if wanted.  The pearl sugar keeps it shape, is crunchy but not too hard.

Oven 170C fan, ten minutes from frozen, seven or eight from room temperature mix.  Cool on baking sheet for a few minutes before moving onto a baking rack.

Mix the dry ingredients together.  My muscovado sugar was a solid lump so I hacked off the right amount with a large knife and heated it in the microwave with the oil to get a slurry that was easy to mix into the flour.  If you do melt the brown sugar make sure the mixture is not too hot before you add it to the eggs - you don't want scrambled egg at this stage.

Mix liquid ingredients together and add to dry.  I used the food mixer for this as it was quite a lot of work to do by hand. Add in grated fresh ginger and chopped crystallised ginger and mix.

You can bake this in blobs on your lined baking sheet.  This amount of dough will make a lot of biscuits.  The dough holds its height when baked like this so flatten a bit with a damp spoon.

Alternatively lay on clingfilm in a log, wrap, put in freezer on a baking sheet until firm.  Once firm the baking sheet can be removed. There is a risk that the dough would sag around your freezer racks if you put it straight in unsupported and so get stuck in place.

When you want to bake some biscuits just slice off thin layers, sprinkle with sugar if you want to, and bake on a lined baking sheet.

Sunday, 26 May 2013

Packing for my holidays.....bagging gf bread flour

I am spending part of the summer in my campervan in Cornwall.   For three days I will be on a painting course in Newlyn, and for a week I will have my sister staying with me.  I thought that bread would be helpful for picnics- which means making sure I have plenty of my own flour available.  I can eat M&S bread as it doesn't have any xanthum gum, but I find it doesn't hold up well for sandwiches.  I did finally find one of their ready-made gf sandwiches at a motorway service station the other day, and bought it even though I had to remove the cheese.  That did seem to hold ok, but it was packed in a protective plastic holder.

So, as part of my summer packing, this morning I ground two kilos of urid lentils, and mixed the resulting flour with two kilos of tapioca flour, and one kilo of brown rice.  I also added 2% of the Solanic 301 potato protein, which makes gf breads work so much better.  It stops them slumping once the get over a couple of inches high, and improves the texture.  My usual supplier of urid lentils is now offering urid flour that has not been packed in a facility that also handles wheat, so when my current supplies run out I think I will switch to ready ground flour.  That would make travelling a lot easier, as well as reducing the need for me to travel with multiple packs of unlabelled powder; having had the campervan stopped and thoroughly searched by French Customs once in the middle of France on our way back from a Surprise 60th Birthday in Geneva  I prefer not to look suspicious.

Once mixed I bagged the flour in 300g packs and heat sealed it.  This will allow me to make a small loaf (1lb tin) with ease by adding a teaspoon of yeast and enough water (about 250ml) to get a sloppy dough, leaving it to rise and baking in the campervan oven.  It will also work for flat breads like pizza, which bakes great on the barbeque.

I had 130g of flour left over so made four pannetone flavoured buns, with the peel and flavouring I got from  BakeryBits.

Spiced sweet-potato cake; gluten and dairy free

This cake is soft and reminiscent of the filling in pumpkin pie.  Not surprising really, when it has mashed sweet potato as its main ingredient.

To do ahead of time

Cook sweet potatoes in the microwave (or oven if you have it running for something else) until they are soft.  Mine took about eight minutes - four small sweet potatoes. Leave to cool then remove the peel and mash.  I found it easiest to cut an end off and scoop the sweet potato out with a circular action with a fork.  Do this ahead of time so you don't be tempted to work with them while they are very hot and burn yourself.   Keep the peel and spritz with oil, put on a baking sheet, and cook for 20-30 minutes in the oven for a crisp scoop for spicy salsa.

My muscovado sugar is always a solid lump.  Hack enough sugar off and leave put in a bowl with the oil and eggs so it dissolves - this will make the rest of the cake making much easier.

400g mashed cooked sweet potato - mine was 460g whole (4 small)
125g muscovado sugar
125 ml oil
3 eggs
125 g self raising flour (mine is 40%urid, 40% tapioca, 20% rice, with 1 tsp bp for each 100g)
1 tsp mixed spice /pie spice
1 tsp cinnamon

Mix the sugar, oil and egg and leave for the lumps of sugar to dissolve if needed.
Mix in the cooled mashed sweet potato, flour and spices.

Pour the sloppy cake mix into a greased/lined tin.  I used a 9inch square tin as I wanted a shallow cake.

Bake in a pre-heated oven, 175C fan, for 40-45 minutes until a knife inserted comes out clean.

Leave in tin for a few minutes on the cooling rack to allow it to firm slightly, then remove from tin and leave to cool, or eat hot as a pudding with icecream.  If you want a firmer cake add some more flour or cut down on the sweet potato.

Sunday, 19 May 2013

Posh Dogs - Marks and Spencers gluten free outdoor-reared giant sausages

M&S gluten free 'posh dogs'

Another visit to a motorway service station and a hunt for something to eat in the M&S.  A hand of tiny sweet bananas and a fruit jelly....and a packet of 'Posh Dog's for later in the campervan. These are large sausages that beg for a soft roll, mustard and a pile of softly cooked onions.

These sausages say they are best cooked on the barbecue, but I just did them indoors in a pan as it was late and I was hungry.  They take a while to cook, but are very good and well worth adding to your repertoire, particularly if we get a summer where eating outside is possible.  We ate these hot and also cold with chutney.

They do contain sulphites, but none of the other standard allergens.  They are made from outdoor reared pork.

Monday, 13 May 2013

Prune and almond chewy high-fibre high-protein cookies

These cookies are chewy and chocolaty. Cook them for less time for a softer chewy cookie, or leave in at a lower temperature for longer for a firm cookie.  I rolled them out and cut shaped cookies, but you can just make blobs and press them flat with your fingers, or cut them into bars.  They hold their shape well, are quiet to eat, and don't make crumbs, making them ideal to tuck into your bag for a trip. Increase the cocoa of you want a more chocolaty flavour - this is just enough to give a warm hint.  I haven't tried it but I am pretty sure you could skip the egg without much effect if you need egg-free recipes.

250g dried prunes
100 ml oil
1 egg
200g ground almonds
75g urid lentil flour
20g cocoa
40g ground flax seed
200g sugar
1 tsp mixed spice

Blitz the prunes in a blender with the oil and egg to make a paste.  Scrape into a bowl and mix in all the other ingredients.  The dough will be firm but malleable; I mixed this with my hands but if you have a food mixer use the dough hook to save effort.

Either take small blobs and press onto a lined cookie tray, roll into a log, chill and then slice into cookies, or roll out using more urid or other flour to stop sticking and cut into shapes.

Bake at 175C fan for six to eight minutes depending on how thick your cookies are and how chewy you want them.  You can always put them back in to the oven for further baking if they are too soft when they cool.

Slide the cookies on their lining paper onto a cooling rack and let them cool for a minute before trying to move the onto the cooling rack.  Stiffening slightly makes them easier to move.

This amount of dough made about 70 small cookies.

Thursday, 9 May 2013

Lemon Drizzle Cake - gluten free

I used to make lemon drizzle cake a lot for a cafe, but discovered I had never written it up so when I wanted to make on I had to do an Internet hunt.  I based this cake on the BBC Good Food recipe.  Making this cake marks a sad moment for me as it is the last day of my glass course at the excellent shop/training/studio at the Creative Glass Guild in Bristol.  My teacher, Jen, is fantastic, full of expertise and very kind to over-enthusiastic novices. I asked what type of cake to bring and she requested lemon drizzle, so her wishes trump the other students' please for ginger, parkin.....

Slight problem in that I have given away so much flour recently for people to test my bread recipe that I have run out of tapioca.  I thought I had a whole box left - lots of urid and lots of brown rice but no tapioca, and no store in Worcester sells it. I also ran out of baking powder and then forgot to get it when I went into town, so not the best start.  By using the tapioca I keep plain for thickening sauces or making tapioca gloop for flatbreads I managed to make 225g flour, which the recipe called for, but that seemed a bit stingy for thirteen hungry artisans.  Another 75g of almond flour makes this cake more substantial.  I forgot to increase the sugar and had no more butter, so this is a cake which is tangy and not very sweet.  However, my regular taster, who has a very sweet tooth, declared it to be perfect.

225 g self raising flour (I use urid, 40%, tapioca 40% and rice 20%, with 1 tsp baking powder for 100g flour to make self raising four)
75g almond flour/meal
225 g butter, soft
225 g sugar for cake
5 eggs
Zest and juice of 2-3 lemons depending on how tangy you like your cake.  I used 2.5
100g sugar for topping

Set oven at 175C fan

Beat the butter until light and fluffy, add sugar and beat until fluffy.  Mix in eggs a little at a time, then add the lemon zest (not the juice) and flours, a little at a time, beating well between each addition.

Spoon the batter into a greased/lined baking tin.  I used a square tin as I wanted lots of shallow pieces to make them easier to eat without plates or cutlery.

Bake for 40-50 minutes until the top springs back when lightly pressed and a knife comes out clean.

Leave in tin to cool.  Mix the lemon juice with the remaining 100g of sugar.  Pierce the cake with a fork and slowly pour the lemony sugar over the cake.  Leave in tin to cool completely

The lemon sinks in and the sugar makes a fine crust on the surface.

Sunday, 28 April 2013

Seedy bread - sharing the flours with others and the wonders of Solanic potato protein

I responded to a query about bread on  I normally don't contribute recipes for bread on this site as I now always use the potato protein I got from a LinkedIn contact, and this is not available in the shops.  If you buy it from the company the minimum order is 15kg - and given you need a few grams/couple of spoonfuls for a loaf of bread this is an enormous amount.  However, I offered to send some samples out to people if they wanted, and a batch of the flour I use, as I want to get feedback on my usual loaf.  

I have been wondering whether to take the step of trying to bring this flour mix to market, which would be a lot of work, so feedback would be useful.  I have also been talking to the company about the possibility of the potato protein being made available in consumer sized portions.  This potato stuff doesn't upset my guts at all - I can't use zanthum/xanthum or other gums, and even have to stay away from flax/chia seed.  It helps gf loaves to keep their shape so they don't slump if you want a full size/high loaf, and give improved texture even to pizzas and other flat breads.

I sent out six batches of the flourmix- enough for a loaf made in a one pound loaf tin, and 30g of the potato protein. I do hope these packages survive the post- I went to bed fretting that I hadn't double bagged everything.  I sealed them in cellophane and built small posting boxes by chopping up a large box and wrapping with lots of parcel tape, so hope the transit is fine.  I thought I should include a photo and instructions, so took the usual plain loaf ingredients and added a little cocoa and pumpkin and sunflower seeds to give a warm seedy loaf.


This mix is made from urid lentils, tapioca, rice and potato.  The potato protein that I have have included in the small bag should be used at about 2%of the flour for yeast breads.  Makes great pizza and other flatbreads as well as the loaf.   I am thinking about trying to package it or a variation on it so would be glad of your feedback.  I have a gf house and am very sensitive so these samples should be completely gluten free.

The bag has approx 300g of flours, enough for a small one pound loaf tin.  Mix it the yeast- either a teaspoon or two for a quick rise or half a teaspoon if you want to let it rise more slowly to develop a sourdough flavour.  Put salt and sugar in if you like.  Add 250ml cold water. You can also put a little cocoa and some pumpkin and sunflower seeds for a seedy loaf, or other flavours to suit your taste.

Mix the batter thoroughly with a wooden spoon or food mixer.  It will look like a thick  cake batter.  Pour the mixture into a greased non-stick loaf tin.  It should come about half way up the sides.  For a quick loaf put this in the oven with a tray of hot water in the bottom and leave it to rise.  You want to let it rise about one third - not quite to the top of the tin.  When it gets to that point turn the oven on to 175C (fan) and set timer for 45 minutes.  It will rise further in the heat but shouldn’t come over the top of the tin as the batter hasn’t the strength to go up on its own. It needs a slower bake than wheat bread.

If you want more flavour and a slightly more artisan-style texture leave the loaf to rise somewhere cool - if you want to retard it to fit in with your schedule just put it in the fridge.  Then bake as before.

Tip out the cooked loaf and cool on a baking rack. I cool them on their sides to encourage them not to sink.  Don’t try to slice before they are cold or the bread will stick to the knife.

This should be ok for several days, or slice and put in the freezer.

Rinse your dirty dishes in cold water promptly - the batter sets quite hard.

The photo is the loaf I made this morning when I bagged up the flour (at the moment I still grind my own lentils before mixing the flour, so quite an effort).  This has half a teaspoon cocoa and a small handful of seeds mixed into the dough, and a few more seeds sprinkled on the top.  A loaf I left out to see what happened a couple of weeks ago was still ok to slice after a whole week, but I normally slice the bread and put it in the freezer. 


I'm hoping to get some feedback shortly.  One person suggested that we buy a big bag of the potato protein and share it out between us.  That is a great idea.  If anyone reading this would like to join in and try so of this stuff let me know.

Coconut cashew and citrus cookies - trying out coconut flour

I have tended not to use coconut products as my primary cookie eater isn't really a fan.  However, in an aberrant moment I bought several bags of coconut flour in with my order of brown rice flour, so I need to start using it.  I also had a jar of coconut fat, very useful for tempering an over-enthusiastic hand on the chilli when making curry.

These dairy-free cookies are like shortbread with chunks of cashew and a hint of citrus.  The flavour is mild; I think the coconut products have dampened the flavour of the citrus essence.  The flavour moves from sweet to citrus to coconut as it lingers in your mouth.  The cashew nuts are too similar in texture and flavour to add much to the cookie- if I made a coconut shortbread again I would leave these out, though I like the way they look.

100g coconut flour
100g self raising flour (mine is urid 40%,  tapioca 40%, rice 20%, with 1tsp baking powder per 100g flour)
60g coconut oil - this is solid so melt in the microwave before use, or you could grate it if you had a block and lots of energy.
2 eggs
50g toasted cashews
1 tsp Fiori di Sicilia - a citrus vanilla blend.  Use a little citrus zest and vanilla.

Melt the coconut oil by gently heating in the microwave.  If it gets too hot let it cool before adding the eggs- you want to be able to mix these easily without cooking the egg.
Mix in egg and flavourings.
Mix in flours.  You should have a stiff dough.  Mix in nuts if using.

I rolled this into a squarish log and sliced the cookies. You could also just roll a blob and put on the cookie sheet.

Bake for 12-14 minutes in a medium oven - about 170F. Cool on a rack.

Friday, 26 April 2013

Tetley green tea- may contain gluten

The surprising issue of gluten in tea has raised its' head again.   Spotted this blog by gfreebythesea about some potential cross-contamination in their green teas.  They have posted warnings on the boxes. If you are used to picking up green tea (what could be safer that that!) do remember to check for changes every now and then.

It turns out that at some stage in the processing there has been some contamination.  The original blog give a full response by Tetley - it doesn't help that their first member of staff talked about the bags being glued by gluten-containing glue.  They aren't - just heat and pressure.

Wednesday, 27 March 2013

Heinz gluten free pasta and sauces

Another major player has brought out a range of gluten free products.  I was sent samples of Heinz's new gluten free macaroni and two pasta sauces to test. For those of you yearning for the instant fix of spaghetti hoops in a tin, this is dry pasta you cook yourself.

The pasta is made from cornflour, potato flour, lupin flour, lupin proteins, emulsifiers (monodiglycerides of fatty acids).

Those of you who have tried gf pastas know they tend to go mushy very quickly.  This pasta retains its shape well and has an 'al dente' texture.  I did wonder whether it would be good for pasta salads, another food I know people miss.  I was also curious whether it would cope with being eaten as left overs or made ahead for picnic/work lunches.  I mixed some mayonnaise into plain pasta and left it in the fridge until the next day to test this.

The pasta still had its shape a day later but the texture was rather too firm to be pleasant.  I have been struggling to think how to describe this, and the closest I can get to is the texture of an uncooked fresh pea that has been left on the plant to grow large and firm.  If this sounds ok to you then go ahead and try this for prepare ahead meals.

The pasta sauces are smooth textured and rather sweet.  I suspect they have been designed around children's taste buds.  I will be buying these, however, for their convenient packaging.  They come in small cartons, so are ideal for taking in the campervan or tucking into odd corners of the kitchen cupboards in small flats.

Overall, well done for adding to customer choice.  Not my favourite dried pasta, but it does mean that there may be a dried gf pasta out there to suit most people.

Thursday, 14 March 2013

Osmotolerant yeast for high sugar doughs

Hooray, osmotolerant yeast available in the UK from  Time to start experimenting with sweet yeast breads again.

Sunday, 3 March 2013

Waffles for breakfast

I fancied waffles for breakfast rather than our usual american pancakes.  It is almost the same mixture, but I beat the egg white to a stiff froth before stirring it in to the wet mixture.  The hard part about making waffles now is clambering into the roof-space cupboard to get the waffle baker, as the kitchen is too small to store intermittently used kit.

These waffles are light without being insubstantial, crisp on the outside and soft in the middle.  They freeze well so you can make a batch and have a few whenever you want.  If you have a toaster they can just be popped in frozen and come out ready to eat.

100g flour (this is my new mix avoiding corn - 40%urid, 40%tapioca and 20% brown rice flours)
1 tsp baking powder (this ratio of 1 tsp bp to 100g flour is my standard self raising flour)
1 tsp sugar
1 egg, separated
1 tsp oil
120ml rice or other milk

Prepare your waffle baker.  Set to a middle temperature setting.

Mix the dry ingredients together. Mix the egg yolk, milk and oil together.

Beat the egg white until stiff.

Fold the egg whites into batter.

Scoop the batter onto the baker, filling from the middle.  I find it better to have waffles that don't quite reach the edge than barge their way messily down the outside of the baker.

I found this mixture made one complete set of four waffles with a little left over.  Cook until golden brown and crisp.  Cool on a baking rack or send straight to plates.

Saturday, 2 March 2013

Feedback on my flour mix and a great day

I haven't been blogging much lately.  Life just got a bit too weird and strange for even baking to be a panacea.  I do find that mood translates into cooking, and the few times I baked when I really didn't want to nothing worked.

However, in the mean time, I took a sample of my flour over to an artisan baker that runs a cafe in Bromyard, just west of Worcester.  He thinks with his hands, and I wasn't sure if I would hear what he thought.  He had needed a good pastry for quiches, and also wants some sourdough style bread for the farmers market in Stroud.  I took him enough flour for the pastry, and asked for a sample of the potato starch that makes gluten free breadmaking so much easier to be sent to him by Solanic.

Yesterday he phoned, while I was at my glass course, to say that the flour was great and you couldn't tell the end result from a wheat pastry.  That made me feel much better about all the effort I put into researching the blend.  Now just to hope Shipton Mill will get their new gf facility up and running and make the flour.  I must get on with the books!

So, a great day.  I enjoyed learning to paint on glass - firing the pieces to be leaded next week.  The flour comment was good.  And to top it all, I got to meet Harrison Lees, my brand new grandson, who arrived Thursday afternoon.

Wednesday, 6 February 2013

Quick microwave orange pudding, gluten and dairy free

Continuing my testing of puddings in the microwave (cheaper, quicker and easier) I made one with some fragrant zingy oranges.   Unfortunately not straight from a tree- yet another year where I haven't made it to Seville for the orange season.  I don't think this recipe is quite right yet - if anyone makes a variation on it that works well perhaps you could let me know.

I based the recipe on this recipe for self-saucing orange pudding.

zest one orange
juice 5 oranges (approx 250ml) - 40ml for batter, rest for sauce
100g self raising flour (40% urid, 40% tapioca, 20% cornmeal plus 1 rounded tsp baking powder)
80 g sugar - 40g for batter, 40g for sauce
40ml oil
1 egg

Mix the zest, oil, egg, 40g sugar and 40ml juice together.  Mix in flour.  Place batter in microwave safe bowl.

Mix remaining juice and sugar together.  Heat to dissolve sugar then bring to the boil.  Pour carefully over the pudding; it looks weird but that's what you do.

Cover in clingfilm, and cook on medium for 8 minutes.  Leave to sit for a few minutes, covered.

This pudding is quite fluffy but has a texture which reminds me slightly of dumplings.  The original recipe asked for melted butter, and a larger amount, which might have given a better texture.

Tastes good, worth doing again.

Monday, 4 February 2013

double ginger biscuits- gluten, nut and dairy free

I based these crisp chewy biscuits on this recipe.  I didn't have any bicarbonate of soda and didn't want to use butter, and of course I was using my gf flour mix rather than wheat.  I also added chopped crystallised ginger for an extra bit of texture and flavour.

100g flour ((40%urid, 40% tapioca, 20% cornmeal)
2 tsp baking powder (twice as much as my usual for self raising- perhaps a bit much)
2 tsp ground ginger
75g sugar
30g crystallised ginger, chopped
1 overflowing tsp of golden syrup
1 egg
40ml oil
sugar crystals to sprinkle on top

Mix the dry ingredients together except for crystallised ginger
Mix egg and oil together
Mix dry and wet ingredients together thoroughly then add the syrup and ginger pieces.  Stir to mix.

Place dollops on baking sheets, lined with parchment paper. Leave plenty of room as they spread.  Sprinkle with sugar crystals if you have them.  Bake for about ten minutes at 175C fan.  Keep an eye on them and remove from the oven when they are a lovely golden colour - similar to the colour of the syrup.

Cool on a wire rack on the paper for a few minutes to begin to harden. They are too soft to take off the sheets immediately.  If you haven't used paper they will take longer to harden as the tin will hold the heat.

These biscuits are crisp and chewy, spicy and sweet.  My patient taster says they are among the best ginger biscuits he has ever tasted.

Saturday, 2 February 2013

almost instant really easy steamed syrup pudding

Winter, river in flood, Wales lost at seemed like a good day to have a sweet pudding.  I found a steamed syrup pudding recipe made in a microwave, and decided to try it.  I used to make steamed puddings in a pressure cooker when I was a student three decades ago, but now I don't even own a pudding basin, muslin, pressure cooker- though I probably could lay my hands on some string and I reckon I could still tie one of those double loop over the top to make a handle arrangements if I tried.

This recipe makes two good helpings or three if you are more restrained.

50g butter - I used soft spread to make creaming quicker
50g sugar
50g self raising flour (made from 40% urid, 40% tapioca, 20% cornmeal, and a rounded tsp of baking powder per 100g flour)
1 egg
1/4 tsp vanilla

3 tbsp Golden Syrup, jam, marmalade...whatever you want on the pudding.

Cream butter and sugar together.  Stir in egg and vanilla.  Mix in flour.
Put syrup in base of a microwave-safe bowl. Place batter on top of the syrup.  Cover bowl with cling film. It will balloon while cooking but don't worry, it turned out fine.

Cook on medium heat in a microwave for five minutes.

When you want to take off the clingfilm I recommend you stab it swiftly with a horizontal knife so that as it collapses the film lands on the knife rather than the pudding.

Serve with custard or eat plain.  I found it a bit sweet so sprinkled lemon juice on top, but Rod ate his with custard and gusto.  I don't think people would know it had been rustled up in a microwave and took less than ten minutes from having the idea to finding the recipe, making the batter, cooking and serving.

Thursday, 31 January 2013

Banana butternut and choc chip muffins

The grocers were selling bags of over-ripe bananas today, so I set out to make some muffins.  I had a large butternut squash in the fridge and no dried fruit so I used the squash as part of the sweetener for the mixture.  I did add a little sugar as the bananas were not as ripe as I had hoped and I had only cooked the squash in the microwave so the sweetness didn't develop the way it does when it is roasted.

These are quite dense muffins.  I use them as handbag food so I like a nutritious non-messy muffin that can be eaten discretely and will keep me from feeling hungry for several hours.  If you want this lighter add some water or fruit juice to make the batter thinner.

Makes 18 muffins
Oven at 175C

400g over-ripe bananas (4 medium)
350 cooked butternut squash ( peel, chop, ten minutes in microwave)
350g flour (40%urid, 40% tapioca, 20% cornmeal)
6 tsp baking powder
2 tsp cinnamon
1 tsp mixed spice
2 tsp cocoa
100g ground almonds
150ml oil
50g sugar or other sweetener
100g chocolate chips (I used dark to avoid the dairy)

30g sugar crystals plus 1/4 tsp mixed spice for topping

Smash the bananas and squash.
Mix the flour, baking powder and spices including cocoa together, whisk to ensure thoroughly mixed
Mix in almonds
Add oil, eggs and sugar to banana and squash mixture, stir well
Add dry ingredients to the banana mixture and stir thoroughly
Spoon into muffin cases

Sprinkle top with spiced sugar crystals if using.  Do this just before putting in the oven so that they don't dissolve before being cooked.

Bake for approximately 25 minutes if large, 17 for cupcake size

Cool on a wire rack. If you leave them in the tin you will get soggy bottoms.

These freeze very well.  Slip one in your bag in the morning, wrapped in plastic, and it will be defrosted for your mid-morning break.  They will keep for a few days in an airtight container.

If you can't eat nuts swap the ground almonds for more flour or just leave out for a lighter muffin.

Monday, 28 January 2013

crunchy nutty cinnamon tear-and-share bread

It is cold and windy and yet again the river is in flood.  I wanted the warm comfort of a sweet spicy bread.  I have been continuing to keep a bowl of yeast dough/batter in the fridge, using it most days for a pizza or foccaccia.  This evening I took a good dollop (about three heaped tablespoons) of the batter, stirred in a teaspoon of mixed spice, four teaspoons of sugar, and a small handful of cranberries.  I would have used raisins but don't have any in stock. I spread this on the non-stick pan, and then sprinkled the top with lightly crushed pecans, a couple of teaspoons of sugar crystals and a sprinkling of spice. I put a little butter in small pieces on the top - use plenty if you are ok with dairy and want it richer.

I put this to sit in the oven with a pan of boiling water in the base for half an hour.  The steam gives a warm moist environment and speeds up rising  I then set the oven at 175C and the timer for 22 minutes.  I left the dough in the oven so that it continued to rise as the oven got hot.

This bread is soft, light, sweet and very easy to eat.  It can be spread with butter or eaten plain.  As it has very little fat you don't get sticky/greasy fingers eating it, which is a bonus for those of us that like to take a little bit every few minutes.

The dough is 500g flour (40%urid, 40% tapioca, 20% cornmeal),
20g Solanic potato protein 301 (this makes the dough light and stops slumping).  The potato protein is not necessary for low-rise breads; it is very helpful if you are making a full size loaf or using a breadmaker.
about 700ml water
2tsp dried yeast
pinch sugar.

Mix yeast, sugar and lukewarm water, leave to get a little frothy so you know the yeast is live.  Stir the flour into the water and leave to rise.  Cover and keep in the fridge to use for up to a week as needed.

Wednesday, 23 January 2013

gluten free lemon rosemary foccaccia

I got an email with recipe suggestions - most of these I ignore, but this one caught my eye.  Foccacia strewn with rosemary and slices of lemon.  They should be a specific type of lemon, not just old tired ones from the bottom of the fridge.  Comments on the original recipe were things like ' looking out of my kitchen window at the lemons on the tree....' but hey, any lemon is better than no lemon.

I have started keeping a batch of yeast dough in the fridge, so I can take scoops for pizza or flatbreads anytime.  It is so easy and produces good results.  I just mixed 500g of my flour (40%urid, 40% tapioca and 20% cornmeal) with two teaspoons of yeast which I mixed with about 600ml warm water and a pinch of sugar, stirring the whole load together once the yeast starts fermenting.  Easy blend yeast would be simpler - just stir into the flour and add water.

Keep this in a large lidded bowl in the fridge for up to a week.

Take a good scoop of the dough and spread on your baking tray.  I use my crepe pan for most of my flatbreads as I can crisp the bottom on the hob if I want to. If your baking tray isn't a good non-stick one I suggest spreading the dough on some baking parchment.

One lemon, sliced thinly and pips removed.
1 tsp olive oil - I used rosemary and chili infused oil
1/4 tsp sugar
pinch seasalt
tsp rosemary leaves

Spread the lemon slices on the dough, sprinkle remaining ingredients on top.  Let it sit for a little while if you have time for the dough to start rising a bit more.  Place in a cold oven, set to 180C, and bake for about twenty five minutes, until crisp and browning.  If you put it in a hot oven just reduce the time.

This is amazing, the heat and tartness and the zap of sweet give an astonishing flavour - but not, I suspect, if you aren't a lemon fan.  Those unfortunate people could eat the bits between the lemon slices.

Friday, 18 January 2013

Marks and Spencer Cheese puffs - gluten free crisp light cheesy bubbles

These small puffs are crisp bubbles of cheese and potato.  They are very moreish..and if you have been missing the tender crispness of baked wheat goods these will be a treat.  They are made with Gouda cheese.

They have a long shelf life, are suitable for vegetarians, and are 445 kilocalories per 100g pack.  They quote a figure of 150kc for one third of the pack but it is difficult to stop munching them, so it is probably best to open them when there are a few of you around to share them.

They contain cows milk and eggs.

Marks and Spencer gluten free crumpet - instant pizza

I used crumpets from Marks and Spencer this lunch time to make two 'deep-pan' style pizzas.   A little tomato paste, some dried herbs, reblochon cheese and pepperoni on the holey side after a brief toasting of the bottom, then back under the grill until the cheese melted.  Served with a little salad this made a quick lunch.  I didn't eat them (because of the cheese) but I was told they were good.

The crumpets contain eggs.

Wednesday, 16 January 2013

Gluten free apple strudel recipes - testing pastry

It became a irresistible project - to try making apple strudel with four versions of pastry quite late this evening.  So, a quick look on the internet and the second hit was  a review of strudels by  Felicity Cloake in the  Guardian.  No doubt it would have been better if I remembered to check the recipe when I came to making the strudels - I forgot to brush the pastry with melted butter and then wondered how I was supposed to get all that butter on top of the rolled strudels.  Butter before filling would make the filling less likely to make the pastry soggy and help it to be flexible.  Buttering the baking sheet or using baking parchment would have made it less likely that the strudels would stick too.  This is what I get for making tests too late in the day.  I found a lot of liquid spilled off the baking sheet so it would be better to make this in a shallow tin like a swiss roll tin rather than a flat cookie sheet.

The flour used is my usual 40% urid lentil, 40% tapioca and 20% cornmeal.

I made four versions so I could test my usual flour, and then flour with some tapioca gel that I made for the purpose, some dry prejel tapioca and some Solanic Potato protein. In the past I found that the gel tapioca made it much easier to make very thin pastes for pasta, though I also found that these worked better without egg.  I didn't try a non-egg version this evening.

I mixed the egg and butter into the flour and then divided into four.  One portion was used plain, one had 7g prejel tapioca powder, one five g potato, and one a couple of teaspoons of the gel I made myself (enough to work into a dough).

The doughs handled very differently.  The gel I made myself gave a lovely flexible dough once the gel was worked into the flour mix.  The dry pre-gel tapioca and the plain flour took a bit more work to get a soft dough.  The batch made with the potato starch, which is excellent to reduce slumping in risen breads, was very different; I needed to add more flour as the amount of water I used with the others produced a slurry.  I must have used far too much in this test as it also made the pastry taste weird.

All four pastries rolled easily to a stage where I could see text through them - I didn't struggle to get a finer pastry by using clingfilm to avoid sticking.  I was aiming at a reasonable pastry that I would be prepared to make on a normal day rather than one which took a lot of preparation.

We liked the two pastries made with the gel/prejel tapioca best. The were light and crisp rather than hard.  The potato pastry cut the cleanest but was tough and tasted odd. It is a while since I used this and I am sure that I put too much in - when the strudel was cold it held together very well but was too hard to be inviting. The plain one was good enough that I would make this again without any additives, but compared to the prejel pastry it was a bit harder rather than crisp.

note very neat cut on pastry on left - potato starch

The tapioca versions also seemed to bring out the apple flavour compared to the plain flour.

I don't think the butter on top of the pastry improved the strudel much if at all so I wouldn't bother in future, especially since I keep my dairy intake very low.

I didn't sprinkle the top with nuts or sugar as I wanted the pastry to be easy to judge.  Flaked almonds on top would make the whole thing crisper and more flavoursome.

Overall I would say if you really fancy a strudel the plain flour will make an adequate pastry.  Of course it is years since I made a strudel or even ate one, so I may be making something that bears little resemblance to a proper wheat flour strudel.  However, if you want a rolled fruit filled thin pastry these are fine. If you can't get hold of pre-jel tapioca, which I got through a LinkedIn contact, making it yourself is easy and almost as good in this recipe.

To make tapioca gel
10g tapioca flour
100ml cold water
stir together then cook on a low heat stirring constantly until a clear gel.  Use this for flatbreads to make them easier to roll and more flexible when cold, to make pasta, particularly where you need to handle it such as ravioli.

200g flour
1 egg
10g melted butter
water to make soft malleable dough

700g Apples - I used half granny smith and half braeburn, peeled and chopped
50g raisins soaked in 40ml liqueur (soak for a couple of hours if possible) drained
zest one lemon
50g sugar
1/2 tsp mixed spice

Mix egg and melted butter into flour.  Add water (or gel) to form a dough.  Mix well - running dough through a pasta maker works very well or letting it bash in a food mixer, but I just squished it for a couple of minutes in my hands.  Wrap in clingfilm and let it sit for fifteen minutes at room temperature if possible to ensure the flours have absorbed the liquid.

Roll thin, using plenty of flour to stop it sticking to the worktop.

Mix filling ingredients together.

Place the filling along one edge and roll into a log.  Slide onto the baking sheet/tin.

Bake at 190C for 20-40 minutes depending on how large your strudels are.  I made four small strudels and they were cooked after twenty minutes.

Tuesday, 15 January 2013

Dhosa - easy quick almost dhosas

I fancied some dhosa today  Dhosas are thin pancakes made from a fermented rice and urid lentil mixture, and are eaten in South India.  There the chefs make spectacular shapes when serving these, including giant rolls and fans.

Last time I made them I did the full process-soak urid lentils and long grain rice separately for a specified number of hours, grind utill smooth in the blender, mix and leave to ferment for several more hours.  Today I didn't feel like doing all of that and so simply mixed my usual flour (405urid, 40%tapioca and 20% cornmeal) with some brown rice flour- and I don't have any idea what type of rice this was.  The protein balance of different rice varies and it makes a difference in how the rice behaves in recipe. .

These dhosas weren't completely like proper dhosa, and the shorter maturing time meant that they hadn't fermented properly.  The acid flavour of the fully fermented dough is too strong for some so this milder version may be more palatable, although the nutritional value will be slightly less as the long fermenting increases bio-availability of some nutrients.

This amount serves two/three with some curry

125g rice flour
70g gf flour mix (40%urid, 40%tapioca, 20%cornmeal)
300g water

Mix until smooth and leave to sit for a couple of hours or more in a warm place.  The dough should be quite thin - like single cream.  If it is too thick add a bit more water.  You should be able to place a ladlefull on a cold crepe pan and swirl it around so that it is covered completely.

To cook
Start with a cold pan.  Place a ladlefull of batter on the pan and swirl so that you get an even thin pancake. Cook on a medium heat until the bottom begins to brown. You will be able to see this without lifting the pancake as it is so thin.

Lift off carefully and roll to whatever shape you want while it is warm.

Cool the pan under cold water until you can touch it without any discomfort.  If you don't let the pan cool between dhosa you will not be able to get the dhosa to be thin.  Instead they will be lumpy and thick.  I read up about making dhosa and this is how they are usually made.

Because the pan is cold at the start of each dhosa they take longer to cook than if you were making crepe in a hot pan.  Be patient.  You may find them difficult to make neat- but they taste just as good.  The one I photographed was about my sixth - I didn't quite believe the necesity for the cold pan to start with.

These dhosa are partially soft and flexible and partly crisp.  I ate mine served with spicy chickpeas.

Sunday, 13 January 2013

Tesco FreeFrom gluten free Hot Cross Buns

I know it is only January, but an idle look at the the Free From section in Tesco and I spotted Hot Cross buns, a traditional food at Easter.  They are wheat, gluten and milk free.  They have eggs in and cannot be guaranteed nut free due to manufacturing conditions.  I note that the dried fruit doesn't have any sulphites, so this is good for those of you that can't handle these.

They come in four separate pouches with a shelf life of a couple of weeks from when I bought them.  I didn't stop to check and see if there were any others with a longer best by date.

As usual slice in half and grill for best effect.  The photo of the buns slathered in butter isn't my portion - I kept mine dairy free.  I showed these as I think they have a touch too much clove in the mixed spice if eaten plain.  I suspect the recipe developer assumed people would eat them with some sort of butter-type topping.

These are a good addition to the available food.  My taster with the sensitive palate and love of dairy said it would be hard to tell them from wheat hot cross buns and thought people wouldn't notice if they weren't told.  If I had made them I would have wanted them to be a touch less dense, but they were very reasonable and conveniently packaged for a mixed household or travel.

Gluten free aduki and parsnip pie

It's time to clean my fridge and freezer so instead of going grocery shopping I am using up tag ends of foods. Today I found three slightly tired parsnips and a tub of aduki beans.  I had soaked and cooked a whole bag of beans a while ago and frozen them in tubs.  With a beautiful crisp and chilly day outside I thought a pie would be nice .  I used garlic, ginger and chilli in the vegetable mixture but also put half a teaspoon of madras curry paste in the pastry to give it a bit of zip.

These amounts serve three.  I made double the pastry needed and rolled and froze one portion (oh no, the freezer filling up again!).   You could make a double pastry pie rather than just a topping or halve the ingredients.

I served this with steamed savoy cabbage and pineapple cooked with cumin, chilli and soy.  Pineapple is another thing I usually have in my freezer.  When I buy a fresh pineapple I can't eat the whole thing in one go so freeze it in tubs.  In this dish it added a sweet/sour note which worked well with the spicy earthy flavour of the beans.  Pineapple can be chopped with a large knife while it is still frozen.

3 parsnips, peeled and chopped
1 cup cooked aduki beans (1.5 cups/one can)
1 tbsp chopped ginger
3 garlic cloves
1/2 tsp garam masala
2 tsp oil
1 tsp madras curry paste is wanted
1/4 tsp chilli

Fry parsnip and spices briefly then add water to cover and cook until beginning to soften.  Add beans and continue to cook, stirring regularly.  Once the beans are in the pot there is an increased tendency to catch and burn so I don't put them in at the beginning.  When cooked use a slotted spoon to fill your pie dish.  Keep the cooking liquor to make a gravy if you want.  I left some of the vegetables in the give a thick sauce and added a dash of soy to lift the flavour a little. Leave to cool while you make the pastry.

Pastry (use half quantities if you just want single layer of pastry on top and no leftovers)
100g flour (40% urid, 40% tapioca, 20% cornmeal)
50g butter
approx 1-2  tbsp of cold water
1/2 tsp curry paste

Rub butter into flour.  Rub in the curry paste (or stir in curry powder if you prefer)
Add water and mix until you get a soft dough.  Don't leave it too dry or it will crack when you roll it.  Form a ball and leave the pastry to rest at room temperature for the flours to absorb the water. If you put it in the fridge it will be too hard to roll.

Roll pastry, cut around pie dish shape (I have two the same which makes this easy) and place on top of the bean mixture.  Bake for 30 minutes at 180C until crisp and just browning around the edges.

Cabbage side dish
Shred savoy cabbage and cook in very little water with the lid on.  Add 1/4 tsp cumin seed, dash of soy (make sure gf), pinch chilli and some pineapple if wanted to the pan at the start of the cooking so that the flavour permeates the cabbage.

Make a gravy with the cooking liquor by mashing a few of the vegetables into the stock and adjust seasoning if wanted.

Saturday, 12 January 2013

Ask Pizza - gluten free pizza and chips

I haven't tried Ask Pizza for quite a while, and the last time I had a very mundane gluey gf pasta as the only safe option.  Today I visited Ask Pizza in Lichfield, and was pleasantly surprised to see they have got a fully labelled menu with plenty of choices.  I tried a pizza and also had chips as it was a pleasure to be able to.  The chips were crisp on the outside though a bit pasty in the middle - I suspect the very bad summer weather has made it harder than usual to get good potatoes for various uses.  The main thing was that I didn't have to go through the rigmarole of how do you cook you chips with staff that had no idea why I was asking.

The pizza came on the same type of flat object that the ordinary pizza came on (not a plate and not a slate...don't know what to call it) and with an identical pizza roller, which worried me slightly.  It was, however, very obviously the gf option as it looked more like a thin flatbread than the wheat pizza.  It was excellent in that the base didn't suck all the flavour out of the toppings the way the Pizza Hut pizzabase did, further enhanced by generously applied and flavoursome ingredients.  It would have been better if the base had been crisped up a little on a hot griddle, but I was told that would be too hard on top of all the other avoiding contamination activities they needed to do.  I find my own pizza bases benefit from a blast of bottom heat to avoid a stodgy bottom.

So, full marks for a clear menu and plenty of choice.  Pity I couldn't find out what the ingredients were. And I haven't become ill, so their anti-contamination processes were effective.

Tuesday, 8 January 2013

Boozy cranberry and lemon gluten free cookies

I bought a bottle of sherry for a visit from my brother-in-law but it turns out he only drinks one variety.  What to do with a bottle of sherry?  What to do with the diminishing but still present stash of dried cranberries?  What to do for the Writer's Group party this evening?  Boozy cranberry and lemon cookies seemed the thing to try.  I soaked the cranberries in sherry so that they were plump and juicy. As I had run out of eggs these are an egg-free cookie.  The result?  A crunchy cookie with succulent berries and a good bit of zing.

200g flour (40% urid, 40% tapioca, 20% cornmeal)
2 tsp baking powder
80g butter
115g sugar
juice 2 lemons
rind 1 lemon
1/2 tsp ground ginger
1/2 tsp mixed spice
100g cranberries - soaked in alcohol (or juice) of choice

Mix dry ingredients including zest
rub in butter (or stir in soft margarine if used)
Stir in lemon juice and cranberries.  Add more juice if needed to make the dough hold together.

Place dollops on a baking sheet or roll between your palms for a smoother shape. Makes about 40 cookies.

Bake for about twelve minutes at 180C fan.  Let them cool slightly on the baking sheet or baking parchment to make them easier to handle before sliding them onto a cooling rack.  If you want them crisper put back in the oven at a lower temperature - the same way you would make biscotti.

Wednesday, 2 January 2013

Tesco FreeFrom Cheese and tomato frozen gluten free pizza

I spotted these pizzas in the freezer today while I was picking up Tesco FreeFrom fish fingers. I find making my own pizzas so quick and easy that they take hardly any more time than opening a tin of soup, but was curious to find out what these would be like.

You need to let the pizza thaw for ten minutes before cooking in a hot oven, and then bake for about twelve minutes.  They are done when the cheese melts and begins to go brown.  I added some extra toppings to the pizza before cooking - they don't come with pineapple, pepperoni and olives.

The pizza had plenty of mozzarella cheese on so you get that traditional stringy cheese look when you cut the pizza.  I took lactase pills with my lunch as I would not normally eat anything with much dairy in.

The base held together, wasn't claggy or dry, and would be easy to eat as finger food as well as with knife and fork.  I found it a bit flabby straight out of the oven so put it on a hot griddle for a couple of minutes to crisp it, which gave it a texture I preferred.

The tomato topping is a bit bland.  I presume it has been formulated to please kids, and has no herby taste to me.  I sprinkled mixed Italian herbs on top and Rod squirted barbecue sauce on his slice to give it more flavour.

This pizza was pretty good, and the base a lot better than those in the pantry section that I tried before.  If I was to use them again I would add more flavourings before cooking and start the pizza on my griddle pan and then put in the hot oven the way I do when baking my own pizza.  The dough has several plant gums in to hold it together but not xanthum. It is made from maize flour.

Overall I think this is a good pizza.  You could add any flavourings you like, and so it could suit almost anyone.  It cost £2.50 and could easily feed two or three people.  If three people shared it each would have 270 calories.