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.