Monday, 29 October 2012

Pizza with friends

After seeing many tweets about the new gluten free pizza bases on offer at Pizza Hut, we finally got to try them out for ourselves last week.  Sous Chef J was having a busy time attending a block placement at Megan Baker House in Herefordshire and was shattered at the end of each day's session.  We decided to reward his hard work by meeting some pals, who now live in the area, at Pizza Hut in Hereford.

Having read a few posts on twitter about the availability of bases, we did pop into the restaurant at lunch time to ask if they had stock and were advised to book a table.  This was a good move.  When we returned for our 4.30pm booking, the place was heaving.

Our friends had not been to Pizza Hut "for years since a bad experience" at their previous town's 'Hut.  They were delighted to see there was a midweek 3-5pm £6 deal (clearly the reason for the busy-ness) and proceeded to make the most of it.  Despite witnessing some rather antisocial behaviour by one of the other diners in the restaurant at the salad bar, we're assured they will return to Hereford Pizza Hut.

Sous Chef J spotted the gluten free base listed on the menu and went for a safe tomato and cheese.  Also chosen was a simple pepperoni topped pizza.  Our pizzas arrived on black square platters, each with their own pizza cutter.  Sous Chef J managed a few slices of his pizza saying "it's nice" but could not be persuaded to visit the salad bar... it was a step too far for his first time there!
We shared the two 9" square gluten free pizzas between the three of us.  It would be too much for Sous Chef J to eat a whole pizza but the two shared ones worked well for our first visit.  Next time we will be trying different toppings and may even get J to the salad bar.  We paid alot more than the £6 a head our pals did (and they had vastly more food too) but it was a good place to meet friends and catch up over a meal.

As well as the aforementioned salad bar unpleasantness we witnessed, I noticed there were croutons in the iceberg lettuce and the chance of cross contamination problems at the salad bar does seem high.  If you have strict dietary needs then remember to raise them with your server to ensure they are met... don't rely on other diners being as careful as you are with hygiene and food!

Sunday, 14 October 2012

Fruit Scones

As Sous Chef J has been feeling under the weather recently, we have been trying to find food that tempts his tastebuds.  It seems that fruit scones with jam tend to do this... so a recipe was sought.

Having memories of baking fruit scones with my Nana, I remembered she'd add to the mix enough buttermilk to make a dough (this was never an exact amount as depended on the size/freshness of the egg and also the flour).  Needless to say, having a gluten free scone to produce, we needed some guidance with our measures.  So, armed with Phil Vickery's Gluten-Free Cooking book (which we use for plain scones - blogged here), we adapted his recipe.  So, our scone mix ingredients are:-

300g plain flour (we use Dove's Farm)
100g unsalted butter, cubed
1 Tablespoon caster sugar
4 teaspoons gluten free baking powder
2 teaspoons xantham gum
2 medium eggs, beaten
about 125ml natural yogurt
pinch of salt
Large handful of sultanas

Sous Chef J was at golf whilst the baking took place so I was supposed to be taking the photos.  Apologies, but I forgot... until the dough was made!

The dry ingredients were mixed together well, the butter was added and rubbed together (using just one hand) until they looked like fine breadcrumbs.  Then the wet ingredients were added, not all at once, to the middle.  A table knife was used to combine the wet and dry together until they started to form a dough.  Then the dough was thoroughly combined by hand.  Today, not all the wet ingredients were needed, but you do have to do this 'by eye' or feel.  When it was like this, it was placed on a floured board and the handful of sultanas were added and folded in.

Once the dough was lightly rolled to a thickness of about 2cm (1 inch), a 6cm cutter was used.  The scones were placed on a non-stick baking sheet and brushed with beaten egg.  They were then baked in a 200ÂșC (fan) oven for 12-15minutes (this depends on their size).  Once browned on top, they were cooled for 5 minutes on the baking sheet before being transferred to a cooling rack.  This amount of dough made 6x 6cm scones and 3x 5cm scones...

They are delicious eaten, still warm, with butter and jam.   The scones freeze well (if they last that long) and we halve and butter them prior to freezing.

Wednesday, 10 October 2012

Very Chocolate-y Tortes

Sous Chef J was feeling a little better the other day so agreed to a speed shop at M&S 'for food only'... and, as we were already in the area (trying to buy some suitable waterproof boots for him for winter) we popped in.

We stocked up on the 'usual' Gluten Free Chicken and don't-mention-the-mushroom crispbakes as well as salmon fishcakes which were on a 2 packs for £3 offer.  Were unable to get the Gluten Free breaded chicken breasts as the shelf was bare.  Cue my usual gripe about "reliability of availability"...

Luckily I remembered a tweet showing a pic of a dessert we hadn't seen before and, in the blink of an eye, Sous Chef J had located 'said pud'.  M&S describe the dessert as a 2 pack of "rich and velvety Belgian chocolate truffle tortes, made to a flourless recipe."

The Truly Chocolate desserts can be eaten hot or cold.  We went for cold as it was quicker!

The dessert is a very chocolatey offering and, although tasty, the portion size defeated Sous Chef J so we saved half for another time.  Each torte is 100g and contains 445kcal.

J attempted to eat as much as he could but was 'exhausted' after his efforts.  Given that he's been finding it hard to rustle up an appetite recently, the chocolate pud worked to tempt his tastebuds.  Plus, it  filled him with quite a few calories without too much hard work on his part.

We think the tortes would be good served warm and will try them that way next time...

Thursday, 4 October 2012

Allergy and Free From Show

Earlier in 2012, on a sunny May Sunday morning, we headed off down the M1 to London.  Our destination was the Allergy & Free From show at Olympia.  With Sous Chef J's limited stamina, we carry out such visits like a military operation.  Prior to arrival, we'd noted which companies/stands were a MUST visit and these were targeted first.  We had with us our trusty going-to-a-show shopping trolley (with integral fold down seat for Sous Chef J) and, within half an hour, it was full to the brim with all manner of gluten free loveliness.  The pics above show our 'haul' from the visit.  We also particularly enjoyed the takeaway food on offer in the venue - the gluten free hot sausage breakfast roll was a total treat and we still reminisce about it now!

There's going to be another Allergy & Free From Show in Liverpool this month (October 2012) and, if you have special dietary needs, it's a great place to find new suppliers and inspiration.  You can get FREE tickets for the event by clicking here and answering a few questions.

We also bought these lovely Gluten Free cupcakes by Sweetcheeks  from the London show and had them with our afternoon cuppa when we were back home.  Not sure if they'll be at the Liverpool show but there's sure to be loads of choice and much to 'taste test'.  Enjoy!