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.

Wednesday, 13 November 2013

Breakfast on the go...

We were staying away overnight last month and knew there'd be no suitable Gluten Free breakfast 'offerings' as part of the budget-hotel's B&B deal.  So, it was very timely to discover some Perk!er foods instant porridge pots and Nairn's Breakfast biscuits in our local Sainsbury's Free From shelves.
The Perk!er porridge pots were simple to use and provided a warming, tasty start to the day.  We tried the Apple, Cinnamon and Raisin and also the Fruit Berry flavours.  Making the porridge is easy - just fill to the line marked on the outside with boiling water, stir and wait...

 ... Sous Chef J tried them both and decided the Fruit Berry pot was his favourite.  We'll be sorting out a supply for mornings where we need a speedy start over the winter months.
Another breakfast item that is popular with Sous Chef J is Nairn's biscuit breaks.  There are two varieties to choose from - oats & syrup or oats & fruit.  Sous Chef J favours the fruity ones and likes the fact that the biscuits come in handy 4 biscuit packs...or pouches as Nairn's call them... there are 4 pouches per box.

It's good to know we now have on the go Gluten Free 'options' for breakfast which are quick, easy and tasty too.

Thursday, 7 November 2013

Hazelnut and Walnut Cake

We spotted this recipe in the Waitrose Kitchen Magazine, November 2013 issue, and thought it looked like something that'd convert to being Gluten Free quite easily... specially since there's only 2 tablespoonsful of flour in the ingredients.  It could probably also be adapted to be dairy free by using a dairy free cooking spread like Pure (which we use in baking our Quick Mix Chocolate Cake).

These are the ingredients we used -

150g unsalted butter, cubed and softened
90g walnut pieces
90g blanched hazelnuts
175g light brown soft sugar
2 Tablespoons Gluten Free self raising flour (we used Dove's Farm)
1 teaspoon Gluten Free baking powder (again, we used Dove's Farm)
3 eggs, beaten
1 orange, zest only
pinch of salt
icing sugar for dusting

The nuts and 50g of the sugar were whizzed in our small Braun hand blender - they're shown in the green bowl in the pic.  To this, we added the flour, baking powder and salt (shown in the red bowl) and mixed well.

In another bowl, we used our electric hand mixer to cream the butter and remaining sugar.  Once fluffy and light in colour, the eggs were added in small amounts.  Next, the orange zest was added, followed by the nut and flour and combined thoroughly.

Having lined a 20cm tin, we poured in the cake mix and baked in a pre-heated fan oven (160ÂșC) for 35-40 minutes until a skewer came out clean when inserted into the middle of the cake.  We checked the base of the cake for 'sogginess' and were delighted there was no sign of a dreaded soggy bottom!

The cake was cooled in the tin, removed when cool and dusted with icing sugar prior to serving.

We served the cake with a dollop of Rodda's clotted cream.

Having had a hearty wedge of cake each, some of slices were placed in a plastic pot and frozen for a treat at a later date.

Saturday, 2 November 2013

Tomato Chutney

Our pot-grown tomato plants rewarded us with a good haul of fruit this year.  With the approach of Autumn and forecast strong winds, we needed to harvest and use them... so we decided to make chutney.  The recipe used was originally for just green tomatoes but we decided to make a mixed tomato version of it.

The ingredients used were -

1.8kg tomatoes, washed and chopped
675g onions, peeled and chopped
450g cooking apples, peeled, cored and chopped (we used ready pureed frozen apples)
450g brown sugar
600ml cider vinegar
225g seedless raisins and sultanas
25g root ginger, bruised
tablespoon chilli flakes
2 teaspoons of salt

Having chopped and chopped and chopped the tomatoes and onions, they were placed in our huge chutney pan... the apple was also added, as was 300ml of the vinegar.  This was then cooked over a medium heat until the contents were soft (took about 30 minutes).

Using a spatula to mix the contents of the pan, we than added the fruits and place a bag containing the ginger and chilli into the pan (we attached ours to the pan's handle).  This was then mixed through and cooked for about an hour.

Once the chutney started to thicken, the sugar, remaining vinegar and salt was added. Stirring the chutney thoroughly, the chutney was brought up to simmering and left to thicken - stirring regularly to avoid burning/sticking.  (To remind us to stir the chutney, we set the timer for 15 minute)  It took about an hour for the mix to thicken.

The bag of ginger and chilli was removed and then we potted the chutney in sterilised jars, allowed it to cool and will leave for
the flavour to develop for at least 6 weeks before eating it.

We like to serve the chutney with cheese or spicy potato wedges.  If bottled in pretty jars, it makes a lovely gift - perfect for a foodie's Christmas!