Thursday, 30 October 2014

Apricot Lamb Stew

Sous Chef J knows the sort of gifts I like and sought out a Slow Cooking recipe book as a present for me.  It's a 'old style' with lots of scrumptious ideas for meals for us to try out...

Although we didn't use the slow cooker for this recipe, it's something that will be putting the slow cooker to good use over the coming months.

The first recipe we decided to try, Lamb with Apricots, was picked by Sous Chef J as part of the Knorr Gluten-Free Challenge. We've used Knorr stock pots quite a lot in our recipes - like this Spiced Apple and Squash Soup and this one for Slow Cooker Potato Layers both are great for the cooler days and longer nights.

The ingredients we needed were -

550g braising lamb
2 Tbsp Plain flour, seasoned (we used Gluten Free Plain)
2 Tbsp Olive Oil
1 onion, finely chopped
2 garlic cloves, crushed
600ml chicken stock (made using a Knorr Chicken Stockpot)
1 Orange (grated zest and juice)
1 Cinnamon Stick
1 tsp Clear Honey
175g Dried Apricots
3 Tbsp Fresh Mint, chopped
30g Ground Almonds
30g Flaked Almonds, toasted lightly

The ingredients were weighed out, prepared and ready for use.

Dicing the lamb and coating it in some seasoned plain flour, we made sure it was well covered.

A large pan had the oil added to it and it was heated for a couple of minutes before the lamb was added.  Cooking the lamb, until browned, took about 4 minutes and it was removed from the pan.  (At this point add the meat to the slow cooker if you are using one)

Adding the onion and garlic to the pan, they were cooked gently on a low/medium heat for about 5 minutes until they started to soften.  We then added the lamb back into the pan and added all the other ingredients apart from the ground and flaked almonds.  (If you are using a slow cooker add same ingredients to the pot and turn the heat to high - cook for one hour, then turn to low and cook for 6-8 hours)

We put the lid on the pan and brought it up to the boil when the heat was reduced and the pan was left to simmer for an hour.

Once the meat had cooked through and the ingredients had become a lovely deep amber colour, the ground almonds were stirred through.

Sprinkling some flaked almonds over the top, we served the lamb stew with boiled baby pearl potatoes and steamed broccoli.

Disclosure - this blog post was written as part of Knorr's Gluten-Free Challenge. We were sent a hamper of ingredients but were not paid for this post. #glutenfreeknorr

Friday, 24 October 2014

Scary Skeletons

Using a basic biscuit mix, we made some 'men' bix and decorated them with runny icing... trying to see which was the best representation of a skeleton.

The ingredients we used were -
  • 200g unsalted butter, softened
  • 200g caster sugar
  • 1 medium egg, beaten
  • 400g Dove's Farm Gluten Free plain flour  
The butter and sugar were creamed together using an electric hand mixer.  Once they were soft and fluffy looking, the egg and flour were added.  This was mixed well, first with the mixer, and then using a silicone spatula until a dough was formed.  (At this point, you can roll the dough into a sausage shape, wrap in cling film or greaseproof paper, put in a plastic bag and freeze for later use.)  We rolled out the dough, to about 4-5mm thickness, on a silicone sheet and used a gingerbread man cutter to shape them.  They were cooked on a greased, non-stick baking sheet for 8-10 minutes in a pre-heated 170ºC oven.  Once lightly browned, they were cooled for 5 minutes on the sheet before being transferred to a wire rack to cool completely before decorating.

Once cooled, they were decorated using ready made icing... in various 'scary' skeleton-like designs.

Some were placed in airtight containers for later consumption... but were keen to attempt an escape! 

Tuesday, 21 October 2014

No G Pies

We spotted some new-to-us pies when shopping on the ocado website. They're from Too Good to be Gluten Free and we have tried savoury pies, quiches and sweet pies.  We took a some quiches (which can be eaten cold or hot) on holiday to Norfolk with us and they were well received.

Our first taste of No G was this crustless Garden Vegetable quiche and a Cheese and Onion quiche.  Both were eaten cold as part of our lunch en route to Norfolk. We all agreed that the Cheese and Onion quiche was our preferred choice.
Once back home, we placed heated the Steak and Ale Pie in a 180ºC oven for 15 minutes turned the pastry a light brown which was very appealing.  The pie tasted good and is something we'd buy again.

The last time we placed an ocado order, there was a gluten free meal deal offer - 2 savoury pies/quiches, 2 sweet pies and 2 bottles of Celia lager for £10 and, as B's a fan of Celia lager, we tried out a couple of the meat pies.
Pies we bought this time were Chicken Bacon and Leek and Steak and Mushroom.  Cooking time is quoted as 15 minutes and we also heated the Cheese and  Onion quiche which worked well.  All three looked appealing once heated through.  We like the No G embossed onto the top of the pies, it makes it very clear which pies are which (no risk of mixing things up here as we only eat gluten free food but could be useful if your household also has gluten eaters in it)

Cutting into the Chicken, Bacon and Leek pie, there was a good mix of all ingredients and the sauce was not too runny.  It was a tasty pie and was my favourite. 

The Steak and Mushroom pie also had a good look when it was cut and held together well.  This was B's favourite pie.

Sous Chef J liked the quiche and ate it too quickly for us to get a picture of it!

We all liked the savoury pastry - it was flaky but not too short and held together well.
The Lemon Tart filling was sharp and tasty and held together well.

Another dessert tart we tried out contained chocolate and morello cherry.  We particularly liked the crisp, chocolate pastry and that the filling was not too sweet.  Served with fresh cream, this was a real treat.

These products are made in Nottingham and are something we'll definitely add to our list of easy to make meals.

Wednesday, 15 October 2014

Pinwheels, Twists and Marbled Biscuits

Having seen Mary Berry make some simple two tone biscuits on the TV, we decided to give it a go with some gluten free biscuit dough.

Making up a batch of standard biscuit dough, (200g caster sugar, 200g unsalted butter, creamed, then one egg added and mixed through).  We split it in two after the egg was incorporated.  To one half we added 200g plain flour (we used Dove's Farm gluten free) and to the other we added 150g plain flour and 50g cocoa powder.

The doughs were then brought together using the electric mixer before being pulled into a ball by hand.

The two doughs were rolled out carefully (we used a silicone sheet to stop sticking but clingfilm could also be used if that is what you have to hand.) 
Once rolled, we laid two small sheets of dough one on top of the other and rolled it, carefully, into a long tube - this would be used to form the pinwheel biscuits

After chilling the dough 'roll' for about 15 minutes (whilst we got on with making biscuit twists) we sliced the dough roll into discs.

Each disc was just less than 1cm in thickness and was carefully placed on the non-stick baking sheet.

The twists were made by cutting thin lengths of the bi-coloured dough (we used a rule and pizza wheel), twisting slightly and placing directly onto a non-stick baking sheet ... making sure to push the ends down to stop them unravelling during cooking.

Mary Berry suggested making marbled biscuits with the left overs... and this is what we did too!  They're really simple.  By combining the leftovers of the doughs, we rolled out, used a cutter and put the biscuits on a baking sheet.

The biscuits were chilled until ready to be baked in a moderate oven (170ºC) for 8-12 minutes (you need to keep an eye on them because varying sizes mean they cook at differing rates)

Once cooked, we allowed thebiscuits to cool for a short while on the baking sheets before transferring to a wire rack to cool completely.  Then they were ready to be stored in an airtight container for eating later... next time we'll make the twists a little shorter so they fit in our pots.

Monday, 13 October 2014

Udi's Gluten Free Expanded Range

We were contacted  to see if we'd be interested in trying some of the new range of Udi's Gluten Free products.  As we're always on the look out for things to make our days out less challenging, we said yes and a hamper was delivered.  It contained bagels (plain and multi seeded), a two pack of Blueberry muffins, some milk chocolate wafer biscuits and plain bagel chips.

First we tried the plain bagel.  It's been years since we've been able to have a brunch favourite - smoked salmon and cream cheese.

So we gave it a go...

... spreading a layer of cream cheese on the cut bagel, placing some slices of smoked salmon on and then drenching with freshly squeezed lemon and lots of ground black pepper.

It was as tasty as we remembered!

The seeded bagels were nice and soft, with an even distribution of seeds throughout.  These were topped with slices of cheddar cheese and mango chutney. YUM!

The Chocolate Wafers made a perfect accompaniment for our elevenses and Sous Chef J liked their texture very much.  There were 3 sections within the packet, each containing 6 wafers. We discovered, looking at the calorie chart on the packet, that 2 wafers are equivalent to about 80 calories.
The bagel chips are very crispy and, being nut free as well, are a good addition to the range.
Having had a speedy day out and about, we were delighted to try the blueberry muffins once we got home.  Sous Chef J polished his off in no time, liking the soft texture very much... he is now keen to get more to take on days out.

Disclosure - we were sent the products to try.  We were not paid to review the items and did not have to write a positive blogpost. All views are our own.