Tuesday, 30 August 2011

Ginger Pecan Cookies

Whilst searching the web for Gluten Free baking ideas, we found this recipe on the Channel 4 food  website.  As it met our criteria of being gluten free, containing ingredients we had available and sounding tasty, we decided to give it a try.

Sous Chef J gathered the ingredients

  • 1 tsp gluten-free baking powder
  • 1½ tsp ground ginger
  • 200g ground almonds
  • 30g pecans, chopped
  • 50g olive oil or rapeseed oil
  • 160g natural syrup 
Which make 8-10 cookies according to the recipe... but we halved the amounts and managed to make 6 cookies.

Next, we set about making the cookies.  The pecans were chopped.

Ground almonds, ground ginger and baking powder were added to a bowl.  Then the oil and agave syrup were added and bound together to make a dough like mix.

Small balls of the mix were added to a baking tray and flattened slightly.  These were then baked in a pre heated oven (180ÂșC - fan) for about 10 minutes.  We allowed them to cool for a few minutes on the baking tray then transferred them to a cooling rack to completely cool.
Finally, the cookies were ready for 'testing'.  They were firm but soft and looked very appetising.

We stored them uneaten cookies in an airtight jar and were delighted to find they tasted even better the next day.

They are simple to make, great with a cuppa and look good.  Well worth having a go if you're stuck for baking ideas.  

Wednesday, 24 August 2011


In the last post, we mentioned we met up with Charlotte, MD of Go Free Foods Ltd, in order to buy some almond macaroons. Having spotted an opportunity to meet up and buy some macaroons when we were down in London last week, I liaised with Charlotte to find a mutually convenient time and place.   Our expectations were more than exceeded.  We bought 15 almond macaroons (kindly packed in family sized bags of 3 for us) and Charlotte said she'd included some scones too... much to Sous Chef J's delight.

We took possession of the lovely box of goodies and (after our meal at Leon) opened the box when we got back to the hotel.  The macaroons were packed in cellophane bags adorned with pink ribbon bearing labels.  Also inside were the promised scones (two packs) and Sous Chef J was most impressed with their appearance. 

It was agreed to try a macaroon each and save the rest for when we were home.  The macaroons were moist, almondy and dusted in icing sugar... the ingredients are listed as Almonds, sugar, egg and essential oil of bitter almonds.  They were delicious!

When we got home Sous Chef J was keen to get his hands on the scones.  This is what he did...

Scone, cut in half
Added jam and cream

Final creation
Then ate the fruits of his labours... slurp.
What a lovely way to end a hectic couple of days in London!  Thanks again to Charlotte at Go Free Foods Ltd for meeting us... we look forward to seeing you soon.

Sunday, 21 August 2011

Lovely Leon

When we travel to London for Sous Chef J's hospital appointments we are always on the look out for places that serve Gluten Free food.  Prior to this week's visit, we relied on Starbucks, M&S and Waitrose for whatever takeaway offerings they had on the shelves.  Not any more!  Having arranged to meet up with the lovely Charlotte (from Go Free Foods Ltd) to buy a batch of her (delicious) Almond Macaroons (more on them in the next post), we got talking about where to eat and she suggested we try Leon on Regent Street.  It sounded like a great plan so off we trotted.

Having arrived in our chosen Leon restaurant, we were pleased to see a menu which detailed clearly whether items were Gluten Free, Dairy Free, Vegetarian and so on... and it didn't take Sous Chef J long to realise there was a kids' menu which offered a Gluten Free CHOICE!!  He was thrilled.

We made our selections, left B to place the order and grabbed a table for three.  Sous Chef J was tired out after a lot of walking in London but B turned up with a bowl of olives and some chilli roasted nuts... and they seemed to revive us all nicely!

Grilled Chicken Kids Meal
After a very short time the food arrived and we barely had room on our table for all the lovely bowls-ful of tastiness. We were so keen to dig in that Sous Chef J only had time to take this pic of his Grilled Chicken kids meal.  He chose fresh Leon-made lemonade as his drink and was delighted when a cloudy, lemony glassful arrived.  Having been able to have a kids meal, there was also a brown envelope containing an activity sheet, sticker and badge.
Kids pack

Pecan Pie
The food was delicious, freshly made and the service was spot on.  Staff were friendly and informative without being OTT.  In addition to Sous Chef J's meal, we chose bowls of broccoli and chilli, slaw and rice accompaniments to my BBQ chicken dish and B's hot grilled chorizo which was served on a wooden platter.  Having demolished the main course offerings, we re-visited the menu and opted to try out some puds "just because we can". And, my goodness, we were not disappointed.  Sous Chef J went for Life by Chocolate Mousse and B and I had the Pecan Pie with organic vanilla ice cream.  Luckily there were no calorific values on the menu but, whatever the amount, the pecan pie was divine.  I had a cup of jasmine tea with my pud and B tried out some rooibos.  We didn't get chance to try the Strawberry'ade but have it in our sights for our next visit.

Leon will be a "must visit" on our hospital day-trips for Sous Chef J... and he's already looked at the map and decided the Strand will be closest (and easiest to access on the bus) when he's next at Great Ormond Street.  If you haven't tried Leon, whether a Gluten avoider or not, give it a go - we think it is a fantastic find.  Thank you so much Charlotte, for pointing us in the right direction!

Tuesday, 9 August 2011

Dip-in Chicken

As it's been a bit hectic here in the UK recently, Sous Chef J and I decided to create a new (ish) dish for his tea to keep us occupied in a positive way.  So, looking in the fridge, we decided on a quick chicken dish.  Of course, our ingredients are all Gluten Free but this is just as easily made with gluten-containing breadcrumbs.

Sous Chef J gathered the ingredients and took this pic...
So you'll see it really is a simple meal we decided to make.  First step was to slice the chicken breast, it was then dipped in the beaten egg before being covered in the Hale and Hearty Gluten Free Breadcrumbs
When all the pieces of chicken had been coated, they were added to some warmed oil and butter and fried until golden brown.
Then, it was time to 'plate up' with some reheated spicy potato wedges and broccoli... before the addition of an ample squirt of tomato ketchup.
There you have it... a quick Dip-in Chicken meal prepared in about 15 minutes....
...and much appreciated by Sous Chef J.

Monday, 8 August 2011

Scrumptious Strawberries

At the weekend we went to Millets Farm Centre and picked rather alot of strawberries... hence, we've been trying to think of ways to make use of them.  So far we have had strawberries and cream, Marvellous Meringue Mess and made strawberry granita (we'll post about this later).  Tonight, we decided to go 'up market' and attempted chocolate dipped strawberries.
So Sous Chef J's ingredient haul was - strawberries, dark choc chunks and white choc chunks.  We proceeded to melt the dark chocolate in a bowl over a pan of simmering water.  Next the washed strawberries were 'enrobed' in the chocolate - or at least dunked in it.
These chocolate tipped strawberries were then laid out on a silicone sheet whilst we moved onto the melting of the white chocolate.
It seems the high cocoa butter content of white chocolate plays havoc with the melting.  So, having sought advice on twitter (thanks @Naaaade) about a tablespoon of double cream was added to the white chocolate and then combined to make a melted offering.
Finally this white chocolate mix was 'drizzled' (or perhaps that should be deluged) over the strawberries... and this is the result...
They were very tasty and, although we like our rustic presentation, need a few more attempts to get them looking more MasterChef like!

Saturday, 6 August 2011

Maize Mazes at Millets Farm Centre

Followers of this blog may remember that we went to Millets Farm for a Pick Your Own afternoon in June where we heard about the Maize Maze that was being grown.  Sous Chef J was delighted to be invited to try out their Alice in Wonderland themed maze today.  We left home in bright sunshine but as we approached Frilford, the cloud thickened and, by the time we arrived, rain was falling.  As this is pretty typical of a British summer's day, we grabbed our waterproofs and headed into the maze area.  In view of the activity required in maze navigation, the camera was my responsibility for the outing... Sous Chef J would be too busy!
Having had a quick briefing on the mazes from Helen and Hallane (there were three maize ones to choose from), Sous Chef J was keen to lead the way around the "Mad Hatters Tea Table".  

Here the aim was to find all the stamp points and add items to the tea table picture in the Maze Game Card.  

The stamps were easy to use although, in the rain, the card did become a little soggy. 

Having completed our mission in good time, Sous Chef J chose to head off to the Fortune Maze where much fun was had... and coloured fingers were then matched to a chart (there are 120 combinations).  This revealed Sous Chef J has a generous personality, which is very accurate.

Next, it was onto the Cat Call, which was based in a woody area, and was based on the Cheshire Cat.  On the Maze Game Card, you record each cat's face and answer a question. 

Then we moved swiftly onto the Jewel Rush which took place in a wooden fort style maze.  Every so often there were jewels to be found and recorded on the Maze Game Card... so that an answer was revealed after all clues had been spotted.
Finally, we made use of a dry spell in the weather to head into the Wonderland Maze.  Again Sous Chef J was leading the way... and he was ready to wave his flag in case we become seriously lost!

Luckily, we did not and, in fact, we easily found the snake maze and go-kart track (which is new for this year).

By this point, Sous Chef J was starting to slow down, so we headed off to the car for our Gluten Free picnic... although it was nicely supplemented with this lovely meringue provided by Millets Farm Shop.

After lunch we made use of our Pick Your Own voucher and went into the poly tunnels in search of strawberries.  Wow... what a lot of fruit there was still on the plants... the farm clearly has a great method of ensuring the fruit is pickable for the maximum length of time.

Finally, we headed into the shop and had a look to see what Gluten Free goodies they had.  There were quite a few to choose from which was a pleasant find!

We didn't check out the restaurant, play area, farm zoo, walks or garden centre on this visit but there is plenty to fill your time if you want a full day out. 

The Maize Maze entry is by way of a purchased wrist band and this is valid for the whole day - and to get value for money, we'd certainly recommend you make full use of the admission cost by visiting the whole site and popping back into the maize mazes more than once.  The mazes stretch over 10 acres so there is a lot of walking to do - wear sturdy shoes, the ground is uneven and, sadly, the site is not ideal for wheelchair users (although on drier days it should be passable with assistance) also dogs are not allowed.  

Now, what shall we do with these lovely strawberries?!