Thursday, 28 July 2011

Fish, Chips and Peas

It was a delight to be sent a packet of Isabel's Gluten Free Batter Mix by the lovely @Bels_Doughballs the other week.  Sous Chef J was keen to get testing and tasting and it was the perfect excuse to make our version of the Yorkshire classic - fish, chips and (not) mushy peas!
This is what we needed to make up batter with 125g of the mix - half a packet.  Yes, just 160ml of cold water.  The mix lists its ingredients as rice starch, cassava starch, brown rice flour, disodium biphosphate, sodium bicarbonate and salt).
Sous Chef J quickly got to work adding the water to the batter mix and attempted to be a speed hand mixer.  Having worked his magic, we had a lovely consistency of batter ready for action.  However, before we sorted out the fish, we put half of the batter mix into another bowl... more on that later!

The fish had been cut into thick fingers and these were coated in the batter.  Having heated some vegetable oil, the battered fish was added and cooking commenced.

After a few minutes, the batter turned an attractive caramel colour and the fish was removed and drained on a piece of kitchen paper.

After the addition of some steamed sugarsnap peas and our special spicy potato wedges it was time for Sous Chef J to taste test... whilst I got on with a little treat for pud.

Having split the batter mix into two, I decided to try to make deep fried bananas with the remaining half.  Admittedly, the bananas used were rather ripe but using the same technique as for the fish (albeit with fresh oil) the result was these... served with a dollop of home made crème fraiche and sprinkle of sesame seeds.

And, Sous Chef J's verdict?

We thoroughly enjoyed our take on fish, chips and peas and the pud was tasty too... but we will be using underripe bananas for deep frying in future!

Thank you @Bels_Doughballs for thinking of us and introducing another simple mix to our Gluten Free cooking options.

Saturday, 23 July 2011

Genius Toasted Teacakes

After a bit of searching, and some shelf climbing, I finally managed to find some Genius Gluten Free Teacakes today. It's a shame they were 'stacked' at the very back of the top shelf in the free from aisle but I knew they were there and I wasn't leaving the store without buying some. They are fresh baked and appeared much as I remember gluten-containing teacakes being.  With a nice spicy smell and open, soft texture meant we were keen to try them.
Once home, Sous Chef J and I cut them in half and then proceeded to toast them - using a skillet lined with silicone paper.  We don't have a toaster (never replaced our gluten-crumb-infested one when we went Gluten Free) and toasting in a pan works well given the limited amount of times we actually need to toast something. 
Sous Chef J was in charge of the timer as this is a critical bit of kit when toasting in a pan... especially so if you have your mind on other things.  You can guarantee that if you look away "just for a second" the smoke alarm will sound to indicate you've incinerated your meal!
Anyway, this time we were on the ball.  Our teacakes toasted beautifully, were spread with butter and devoured in record time.  No sooner had they been prepared than they were gone.  A sure sign that we have another off-the-shelf gluten free bakery item to add to our list of "like-to-haves"!  Thank you @GeniusFoods ... now let's pray the local store keeps stocking them.

Thursday, 21 July 2011

Gluten Free Berry Almond Slice

This is a recipe from an autumn edition of Waitrose Food Illustrated magazine that we have made a few changes to in order to make it both Gluten Free and also bakeable at any time of the year.  Here's a link to their website recipe and you will see, if you look, that we've removed the need for pastry and also use raspberries (in this case fresh ones but, at other times, we do use frozen fruit).
So the ingredients were gathered by Sous Chef J using the crumpled bit of paper I tore out of a Waitrose magazine some time ago.  We don't use the pastry or jam, though.  Our ingredients looked like this...
Sous Chef J in action!

Having preheated the oven to 170ºC, the softened butter and sugar were combined using a hand mixer until they looked light and creamy.  Sous Chef J actually did quite a lot of this (for a change) but would rather have a yellow stand mixer to be in control of... but he's going to have to wait a while for one of those!

Folding in ground almonds
Adding vanilla essence
Next, the vanilla essence was added.  The lightly beaten eggs were then incorporated, a little at a time.  Then the ground almonds were folded into the mix.
Spreading the mix
The berries are added
This slightly firm mixture was then spread, evenly, into a non-stick baking tin (ours is 19cm x 28cm) before having raspberries placed on top.  It was then placed into the warm oven.
After 10 minutes in oven

Sprinkled with flaked almonds
Having cooked for 10 minutes, the tray was removed and the sliced almonds were sprinkled over.  The cake was then returned to the oven for another 10 minutes to finish baking. 

We allowed the cake to cook in the tray for 15 minutes and then turned it out... the underside looked like this before we 'flipped' it back the right way up!
 As you can see, it was another successful baking session.  The slice freezes well - we freeze it in portions suitable for 3.  It can be served with a cup of tea as an afternoon treat or with creme fraiche as an easy pudding. 
Give it a go... it's a tasty treat and Gluten eaters also love it so it's a good offering to take to pals if you're going to be eating out.  I know it's puds and snacks that my pals struggle with when we visit - they can manage meat and veg without gluten but mention 'afters' and even the most hardy usually blanche at the prospect!

Monday, 18 July 2011

Hasta be Pasta!

Some times, usually when time or ingredients are limited, it just hasta be pasta for tea!  Sous chef J is a keen eater of pasta shapes and we find the Doves Farm gluten free organic pasta is one of our store cupboard staples.

As you'd expect, a store cupboard meal is pretty low on ingredients and sous chef J is well able to assemble them in record time.  The ingredients below feed three hungry people or four if a hearty green side salad is added...
Having gathered all the required ingredients, we chopped the onion and sweated it off in a little sunflower oil before adding the tin of chopped tomatoes to make the tomato sauce.  This was then brought to the boil and left to simmer, with the pan lid on, whilst we cooked the pasta shapes.
After about 10 minutes, we added the blocks of frozen spinach (this is something we don't always add, it can also be fresh spinach or even rocket leaves) and thoroughly mixed through.  It was then left to cook whilst we drained the pasta (having cooked it according to the instructions on the packet).
Once the pasta was drained, we melted a knob of butter in the pasta pan, added back the pasta and combined it with the tomato sauce before serving up with a topping of grated cheese (in this case sous chef J used mature cheddar).  Yummy, store cupboard food that is quick and easy to prepare. 
Couple of points to note:
  • Our non-GF pals are happy to eat this pasta and don't realise it's Gluten Free.  
  • We have tried saving this and having it as a cold lunchtime dish but, disappointingly, we have to confess it doesn't work very well as the pasta seems very rubbery once it's cooled.  Sous chef J point blank refuses to eat it cold now so make sure you finish off what you've cooked whilst it's fresh.

Saturday, 16 July 2011

Cheese Dough Balls

Having enjoyed using Isabel's Pizza Base mixes, we decided to give their Dough Balls packet a try out.
Sous Chef J started by checking that the packet mix contained the amount it said it did!  Next he gathered the other ingredients - egg, water, oil and grated cheese.

He then added the ingredients to the mix and combined them by hand.  A food processor can be used but, as this is part of the therapy we carry out, we try to be as "hands on" as possible.   

Once the mixture had come together as a nice dough, small lumps were broken off and formed into individual balls.  These were placed on a non-stick baking sheet and baked in a preheated fan oven at 180ºC for 20-25 minutes.
The doughballs can be frozen, uncooked, and this is what we did with half of the mix.  For once, we even remembered to put the cooking instructions on the freezer bag!
Once the rolls were cooked, we cooled them on the baking tray for a few minutes before transferring them to a wire rack to cool completely.

Sous chef J decided to turn his dough balls into cheese and tomato rolls... and very tasty they were too. Another naturally Gluten Free lunchtime option thanks to @Bels_Doughballs.

Wednesday, 6 July 2011

Special Coffee and Walnut Cake (Gluten Free)

We got this recipe off the internet a while ago but the site it was on no longer exists, sadly.... no idea where the resources on there have gone but, luckily I scrawled the ingredients out for sous chef J to use when he's preparing to bake.  The method is just what we do (as ever!)

To make a 8 inch /20cm round cake, you will need

115g gluten free flour (we use Dove's Farm plain)
50g maize flour or cornflour
1 heaped teaspoon gluten free baking powder (again, we use Dove's Farm)
60g walnuts, ground (we use a Braun hand blender for this)
225g butter or margarine, at room temperature
225g unrefined caster sugar
4 large eggs
15ml/1 tablespoon instant coffee, mixed with a small amount of boiling water
small handful of walnuts (we roughly chop these)

For the icing, we use 125g butter at room temperature, 250g icing sugar and a dessert spoon (10ml) instant coffee mixed with a little boiling water.

The oven was preheated to 170ºC (fan oven) and the cake tin was lined with a baking parchment liner (we get the ones from Lakeland)... these are easier for sous chef J to use but you could also grease and line the tin with greaseproof paper if that's what you have to hand.

First sous chef J sifted together all the dry ingredients... he did this at least twice (more if we can spare the time!)  This is important as it makes sure all the baking powder is well distributed and makes the cooked cake have a better texture.

Next, the butter and sugar were creamed together.

Then the eggs were cracked into a bowl and lightly beaten before being added to the creamed mix a small amount at a time... the mix often starts to split so we just add a little of the dry ingredients in to stop this.

After this, we added the flour mix and folded it all in well.  Then the diluted coffee was added and mixed in.

Finally the roughly chopped walnut pieces were added and mixed through.

The mix was then placed in the lined baking tin and baked for 30-35 minutes (although it is less if you make cupcakes).  The important thing is to use a knife to test the cake - only remove it from the oven when the knife blade comes out clean.  The cake was then left to cool in the tin for 15 minutes before turning out to cool completely on a wire rack.

Whilst the cake was cooling, we prepared the icing.  The butter was beaten (using a hand mixer) to soften, the icing sugar and coffee mix were then added slowly. This was then mixed well until it was completely incorporated and the buttercream was soft and had an even colour.

The icing was then spread on the cake.... and a slice can be seen at the top of this page.

This cake is one we make for special occasions - it freezes well, adapts to being made into a loaf or cupcakes easily (these are decorated using Kuhn Rikon icing bottles and a star nozzle.)