Friday, 13 December 2013

Butternut Squash and Spinach Curry


Looking for something to do with the contents of our veg box we decided a curry would be a good idea.  Having searched online, we found this recipe.

The ingredients we used were:-

  • 1 butternut squash - peeled, de-seeded and cubed
  • 1 packet fresh spinach - washed and drained, stems removed 
  • 1 onion - sliced
  • 1 thumb-sized knob of fresh ginger - peeled and diced finely
  • 2 tablespoons oil
  • 4 bruised cardamom pods
  • ½ teaspoon turmeric
  • ¼ teaspoon ground nutmeg
  • 1 teaspoon ground coriander
  • 1 teaspoon ground cumin
  • ¼ teaspoon chilli flakes
  • 500 ml vegetable stock - we made ours up from Gluten Free Bouillon powder
  • tin coconut milk - we used about 100ml 
  • Sunflower oil for frying

The onion was fried until starting to soften in a little sunflower oil.  Once it was starting to caramelise, the spices and ginger were added and cooked for about a minute.

Then the prepared butternut squash was added and covered with the vegetable stock before being simmered until the squash was cooked.

At this point the coconut milk was added - we used about half a tin - and combined it through before returning to the heat.

Next, the spinach leaves were added and the curry was covered and heated over a moderate heat until the leaves were wilted.
Finally, after a few minutes and whilst the spinach remained a vibrant green, the curry was ready to serve.

Monday, 9 December 2013

P's Pheasant Stew

We were offered a pheasant by some pals... so were looking for a slow cooker recipe for a stew.  Surfing the internet brought us to this Jamie Oliver recipe which is for Pheasant Stew with Chestnut Dumplings.  Having carried out a fridge audit to see what ingredients Jamie lists as being required and, as is the norm in this kitchen, we figured we could make some suitable substitutions so the recipe was a go.
We used -
• One pheasant - portioned, on the bone
• Plain flour (we used Dove's Farm gluten free), for coating pheasant joints
• 2 onions, peeled and chopped
• 2 small carrots, peeled and chopped
• 2 garlic cloves, peeled and chopped
• 1 tbsp butter
• 140g pancetta cubes
• 3 dried bay leaves
• 300ml stock (we used vegetable)
• dash of sherry

The veg and pheasant were prepared.  It was going to be a rustic stew which meant leaving ingredients in large pieces.

We started by coating the pheasant in gluten free plain flour (in a bowl) before frying off until browned.  Then the pancetta cubes were added to the skillet, the lid was placed on and the heat was reduced to low to allow the fat to render down a little.

Whilst the meat and veg was being combined, the stock was made up using a Knorr Stock pot.

Adding the stock to the pan, we then brought the stew to the boil, covered and reduced the heat so that the pan simmered.   After half an hour, the stew was looking (and smelling) good.  For ease of eating (and to convince Sous Chef J to try it) the bones were taken out and the stew heated for a further five minutes before being served with sauteed potatoes, peas and sweetcorn.

Next time we make this, we will follow the same method as above to the point where the stock is added - the stew will then be added to our (heated) slow cooker and it will be cooked on low for a few hours.


If we'd have had some suet and chestnut flour, we'd have used Jamie's recipe for Chestnut Dumplings which requires 50g plain flour, 50g chestnut flour, 50g suet, pinch baking powder, 25g ready-cooked chestnuts.  Then, to make the chestnut dumplings, mix the ingredients in a bowl, crumbling in the chestnuts. Mix with your fingertips until the the mixture resembles breadcrumbs, then add a pinch of salt and pepper, and just enough cold water to bind everything. Dust your hands with flour and roll into about 25 brussels sprout-sized balls.  Add these to the stew once the stock is in the pan... and leave to cook.

Tuesday, 3 December 2013

Pear and Marzipan Tart

Having been given the chance to attend the Winter BBC Good Food Show at the NEC, we also got tickets to the SuperTheatre to see a show by Mary Berry and Paul Hollywood.  During the show, Mary was demonstrating a pie recipe using sweet pastry, marzipan and apricots.  As Mary's recipe used plain flour, we felt it would be something we could adapt to be gluten free by using Dove's Farm gluten free flour.

Ingredients we used are:-

For the pastry
300g Plain Flour
150g Butter, cubed and softened
150g icing sugar
one egg

For the filling
Marzipan, grated
400g Tin of pears, in juice, drained (Mary's recipe used tinned apricots)

Following Mary's demonstration, we placed all the dry ingredients for the pastry in our large hand blender jug and blitzed them to a breadcrumb consistency.

Then the egg was added and blitzed again.

Once the mix was coming together, we turned it out and brought it together into a ball.

We then halved the pastry, wrapped one half in greaseproof paper, placed it in a labelled plastic bag and froze for later use.  With the remaining pastry, we halved it again and rolled each part into a long rectangle (of about the size to fit the tart tin we have), using greasproof paper as a template.

After rolling out both pieces of pastry, they were placed on a baking sheet and put in the fridge to chill.
 Whilst the pastry was chilling, the marzipan was grated and the pears drained.

 Removing the pastry from the fridge, a line of marzipan gratings was placed down the middle.

The drained pears were then laid on top of the marzipan before placing the remaining pastry rectangle on top, sealing with a brush of water round the edges and cutting to shape using a tart tin.

 The tart was placed on a hot baking sheet and baked in a 180ÂȘC fan oven for about 20 minutes.

We checked after 15 minutes and covered the edges with foil in an attempt to stop them burning.

Once cooked through, the tart was divided into portions....

...the remainder was stored in an airtight container for another day.

Saturday, 30 November 2013

Ginger and Orange Christmas Pudding

We were happy to take up the invitation to be part of StirUpSunday last week with Sainsbury's Bloggers.  They had a special recipe by Dan Lepard for those with dietary requirements (restrictions) which sounded appetising.  The recipe is Gluten Free, Dairy Free, Egg Free, Vegan and can be Nut Free if you omit the pecans.

The ingredients we used were -

100g dark brown sugar
2 tsp mixed spice
1 tsp ground ginger
2 tsp Sainsbury's Taste the Difference Valencian Orange Extract
50ml orange juice
75ml golden ale (we used Green's gluten free)
50g golden linseed (blitzed to a powder in our hand blender)
200g mixed dried fruit
1 medium carrot, peeled and grated
100g pecans, chopped (leave these out if you want a nut free pudding)
200g glace ginger, chopped
50g plain flour (we used Dove's Farm Gluten Free Plain)
50g dairy free spread (plus more for greasing the pudding basin)
75g white bread, ground to soft crumbs (we used Genius Gluten Free seeded)

The linseed was blitzed ready for use and an orange was juiced.

The sugar, spices, orange extract, juice, ale and linseed were placed in a bowl before being mixed together (we used a hand mixer).  Next we added the fruit, grated carrot, pecans and ginger and stirred them through before adding the flour and mixing.
Having melted the sunflower spread, it was added to the sugar/spice mix together with the breadcrumbs.

Sous Chef J had used some more sunflower spread to grease the pudding basin which was then filled.

When the pudding basin was filled and levelled.
A layer of greaseproof paper, pleated in the middle,  was placed on top of the pudding and then the same was done with a piece of foil.

This top was held in place by using string to go round the top of the basin - it was also used to make a handle and then the whole pudding was placed in a large pan, on top of a jar lid, and the pan was half filled with boiling water.  The lid was placed on the pan and was checked regularly to ensure the pan did not boil dry.
After three hours of being steamed the pudding looked like this!

The pudding will be stored in a cool place before being steamed for a further three hours prior to serving.

Wednesday, 20 November 2013

Further Festive FreeFrom Fare

Following on from our earlier Free From Festive food post, and as part of our pre-Christmas prep, we found ourselves looking through the Marks and Spencer Food to Order booklet.  It was great to see how many items are labelled as Gluten Free.  There are loads of stuffed meats which are Gluten Free (we're thinking of having the Easy-carve Stuffed Duck) and garnish packs are also looking tempting.  We'll have to sort out our own vegetables though as the Luxury Vegetable Selection (potatoes and parsnips, red cabbage, sprouts and carrots, cauliflower cheese) contains gluten.  Having started so promisingly, we were more than a little disappointed to find that not one of the desserts in the range is listed as Gluten Free.  However, cannot imagine why the Pannacotta Terrine would have gluten in it - none of the ingredients appears to contain gluten and gluten is not listed under 'contains'.  It's frustrating that M&S have got so close to offering a full Christmas meal to order that is Gluten Free (and doubly annoying that the macaroon tree that looks so appetising has wheat flour in it).

Searching the M&S website looking for mail order options, we found this Classic Claret with Gluten Free Festive Treats on sale at £30.  At least M&S have something to send from their Hampers range.  Plus, even though we're not planning on having a party, the Gluten Free Party Selection in the food to order range looks like something Sous Chef J would like to try and, as the components are freezeable, we may order a pack and divide the food up for special treats later!

In store the other day, we picked up some items Sous Chef J liked the look of...  Mini Chicken Kievs, Bacon Twist Lollipops and Sea Salt & Black Pepper Crackers.  We've frozen the bacon twists as they were 'easy-to-stick-in-the-freezer' size but we ate the chicken kievs at the weekend.  They were judged to be a 'nice change' although there was lots of garlic butter leakage during cooking which was a bit messy... the packet says they can be frozen and cooked from frozen so seem to be a good standby item.

Being in 'seek and find' mode for Festive food, Sous Chef J spotted these 9 Christmas Cake Bites in Waitrose.  They are VERY small bites of cake - so don't think they'll last long.  Apparently they also have Gluten Free Mince Pies but the shelf space and stocking in our local store means we haven't actually seen any... you may be near a store that's got a wider Free From range (according to Sous Chef J, this wouldn't be difficult!)

Picture of Virginia Crunchy Amaretti RedOcado have a good range of gluten free products all year round but they've expanded this to include treats like Amaretti Biscuits in a tin which would make a lovely gift, a dairy, gluten and egg free chocolate Advent Calendar and a selection of Christmas Cakes.  The Hale and Hearty range on sale at Ocado also offers a number of products we find difficult to source elsewhere.

Picture of Eskal Gluten Free Deli CrackersAnother brand Ocado offer is Eskal and Sous Chef J particularly likes these crackers which he uses to dip in soup but are tasty with cheese too. 

We'll be making our own Christmas Cake again this year... here's a link to last year's blogpost about it in case you want to give it a go.

Monday, 18 November 2013

Festive FreeFrom Fare

We like to be prepared for the Festive Season in plenty of time, so were pleased when Sainsbury's sent us a parcel of FreeFrom goodies from their range to try.

There were two types of  mince pies - the 'traditional' pastry topped ones and also a packet of iced pies.  Sous Chef J likes the look of the iced mince pies the best as he's "not keen on too much pastry".

The box of goodies also contained a panettone style loaf cake.  It was a softer cake than we were expecting, but there was a good distribution of fruit and was a tasty treat.

 Also included were two packs of cake slices - both contain 5 slices - one has Iced rich fruit cake and the other Mini chocolate logs.  The Iced fruit cake slices seem to

have a good proportion of cake to icing.  Looking at the Mini chocolate logs, they're more of an iced slice than a log shape but Sous Chef J thinks that won't stop him eating them. All!
It was good to see some products aimed at children included in the range.  Sadly the Gingerbread biscuit man hadn't survived the post in tact but Sous Chef J had a solution for that... and promptly ate the biscuit.

The Freefrom Santa Choc bar is Gluten, Wheat and dairy free and would make a great stocking filler.  Also, the choc selection net, which contains a santa choc bar, choc'n'crispie bar, choc bar, choc buttons and choc discs, looks like a treat that will fill a space in a Christmas stocking nicely.

Whilst it's been nice to get a pre-Seasonal goodie box, we'll be 'monitoring' the goods on sale in store as "reliability of availability" is something we harp on about a lot.  It's great to know Gluten Free Christmas food items exist but is doubly frustrating when you can't get hold of them.
Checking our local store this week, we saw all the items we were sent apart from the Selection net.  We were pleased to see there was also a FreeFrom Advent Calendar, Christmas Cake Loaf and also a Christmas Pudding on sale.

Disclosure - Sainsbury's sent us a selection of FreeFrom items without charge but we have not been paid for this post.