Friday, 30 November 2007

Soup and Cheese Scones

As planned on the menu this week we had soup and scones for tea.. planned and everything. This weekly planning thing really is helping as is feeling less sick than have been recent months, we will see if it continues as I get bigger.. for those who haven't caught on I'm past halfway of a pregnancy.

I've been thinking about posting the recipe for the scones for a while and at least one person expressed interest this week so I will put the whole thing at the bottom of this post. It is based on one from Delia Smith and as her recipe was originally half the size I make you could easily cut it down again should you wish to but we eat most fo a batch this size in a sitting between four of us and it's nice to have a few for the next day. They are very easy to make and best eaten warm with butter, as you can see from the picture we tend to go overboard on the amount of butter, my excuse is they were a bit cold so it hadn't melted as much as normal :) They rewarm quite well in a microwave for the next day too.

The soup ended up being pumpkin as I had half a one to finish up. This year has been really bad over here for things like pumpkin and squash as there was really bad rain and flooding mid summer.. with a lot less sun when it was wanted to ripen things. Other vegs did well I'm told such as beans however, next year we have all that to come with the new allotment. It was a bit bland once cooked probably because it was only pumpkin, onion, smoked garlic and stock but it tasted quite nice once I upped the amount of pepper and added a splash of cream :) I also added a little bacon as a garnish.

Back to the scones. The original recipe calls for half self raising flour and half wholewheat but obviously I can't use those so over the years the mix I've come to settle on is half a general purpose fairly nutrual GF mix and half Gram flour. This gives a nice flavour and good colour as without the gram flour they can look a little bleached. For general purpose I used Dove Farm, though of course you can use your own mix. I must admit to having a bit of a fondness for Dove Farm, their flours gave me hope at a time when everything else purpose made for a GF diet seemed substandard and gritty tasting.. The grittyness was a really problem for me early on, which is less evident now. I think it was from using rice flour that wasn't ground very fine but many of the early products over here were like that.

I seem to be making a habit of missing out the Xanthan gum from recipes at the moment and while this recipe does work without it adding a bit does help them rise a bit better I think.

A short story from the first year I was Gluten free, how many years ago that was I'm not sure but it was a few. Back then the supermarkets hadn't started doing free-from ranges but our local one did stock a few bits including Dove Farm plain flour and a flour from someone else I think Orgran, which is over five pounds a box. The Dove Farm one was much more reasonable price wise so we had used it a few times. Come christmas we decide to try and make a few bits like cake ourselves and went to buy flour but they had removed the small gluten free section to have more seasonal products and the only flour they had left was the more expensive one. We tried using it to make white sauce and it came out like wallpaper paste. I think that was one of the real low points for me. Luckily in this country it is now possible to get plenty of better products even if you have to use mail order so I hope no-one else has that problem this year. To be fair to Orgran they may well have changed the mix by now as many manufacturers have learnt a lot over the last few years and at least they were trying back then.

Gram flour Cheese Scones

(adapted from Wholewheat cheese-crusted scones in Delia Smith's Complete cookery course.)

6oz Gluten free general purpose flour mix
6 oz Gram flour
1 tsp salt
4 tsp GF baking powder
4 tsp Xanthan gum
2 pinches of cayenne pepper
2 oz butter (room temp)
1 tsp mustard (Delia uses mustard powder, the old tin of colmans I had included wheat flour in the ingredients list but one line it seems to just list mustard flour now in which case you can use it)
6 oz grated cheddar cheese (or similar strongly flavoured hard cheese)
4 -6 tbsp milk
2 large eggs
extra milk to brush tops and a little more cayenne if you like them to have a kick.

Preheat oven to gas mark 7, 425F or 220C

Shift and mix the flours, salt, cayenne, baking powder, Xanthan gum plus mustard if you have a powder rather than a wet mix all into a big bowl.

Cut the butter into small pieces and rub in with your fingers till the mixture is crumbly.

Mix in most of the cheese, keeping back a little to use on the tops later.

In a separate bowl beat together the eggs and 4 tbsp of milk. Mix in the mustard if it is a made up variety. Add to the main bowl and mix until you have a soft dough. You may need to add a little more milk depending on the size of the eggs.

Roll out on a floured surface to a bit less than an inch then cut out rounds with a cutter. I vary how big I make them but about 2 inches or so is a nice size. Place on a greased baking sheet and brush the tops with milk then sprinkle with a little cheese plus more cayenne pepper if you like.

Bake for 15-20 mins towards the top of the oven unless you have a convection oven where it matters less. transfer to a wire cooling rack and allow to cool till warm... eat with butter or more cheese or both!


I have also made these with half the cheddar and half small pieces of feta plus some chopped sundried tomatoes which is a nice combination.

Tuesday, 27 November 2007

IKEA and Gluten free

We popped into IKEA for some bits at the weekend.. yea right like it's possible to just pop in for something, even if you only go to the item you want it will take half an hour of walking.! Actually on that score I am waiting very interestedly to see how the new Coventry store works. In some ways I'm dreading the possible traffic problems espacally round the time our two universities start their new years but in other ways it will be interesting to see how it differs from an out of town store. You see the Coventry one isn't just off a motorway junction like the rest it is slap bang in the middle of the city ! It is over several floors and I am really hoping they make it easier to just pop into one section rather than being lead by the nose as the other stores do.. I think they would be stupid not to as a lot of their potential trade is people on their lunch break and you can't brose a whole store in that time but we will see.

Anyway back to our shopping trip. As it was lunch time we decided to go to the cafe and I was pretty much expecting to have chips or salad or maybe a cake as they do a GF one.. however as we waited in the queue we spotted the kids fish and chips had a big GF symbol on it but somewhat strangely the adult one didn't and neither did the meatballs which seemed a bit daff as most Swedish meatball recipes over here are GF.

Still we asked when we got to the counter and yes the kids fish was GF but the adults wasn't and neither was any other main meal! The fish was however at the far end of the counter meaning it was a lot less likely to get contaminated so I end up with two kids meals as it was cheaper than them trying to make up an adult one and I ended up with more chips! I am happy they are trying but I think I might chat to the cafe when they open in Cov and see if they could change the meatball recipe or at least do the adult fish GF as well. It was nice to have battered fish for once but the portions were very small even with two kids ones.

As to the actual shopping, we got the small one a place in the crèche much to his delight and so had 3/4 hour to look round. We got the cupboard doors and drawers to finish the units in the utility room and some new plates and bowls from their 365+ range.. we got 6 new bowls which will be good for soup, stew etc and then one each of the rounded off square dinner and side plates to see if they went with my Reflex Denby which is now discontinued. I think they will actually go quite well and we have been thinking of swapping our everyday china to white as the current black stuff can't really be mixed with the Denby. That wasn't the only things we picked up but the main ones of relivance on here I think.

Monday, 26 November 2007

Weekly Menu post

(Edited to add what I actually did)

Any Daring Bakers.. look for the next post down. !!

This week I remembered to post on Monday.. and after a weekend away as well how organised am I!!

Gluten Free Menu Swap Monday - Ginger

I will be linking to both the gluten free menu swap and Menu Plan Monday.

Unlike our friends over the pond we didn't have any celebrations last week so it was business as usual and I even pretty much stuck to my menu plan

I have decided in future bean stew will not have sausages in. It doesn't need it and just lost my nice expensive gluten free sausages in it..

The chicken noodle soup was a big success so much so we have bought a few more soup bowls from IKEA this weekend so we have plenty to go round.

We swapped Thursday and Friday. I wrote up the lasagna which is here and Friday we had cauliflower cheese with extra bits in it.

This weeks menu

Monday - Pizza because Jon found Sainsburys now do their own gluten free version so got me one to try. Everyone else gets ready made normal ones.

Tuesday - Pork chops and oven roasted vegs.

Wednesday - Lasagna, second one I made last week from the freezer.
(edit - also made Ginger Lemon Girl's corn pudding because I thought the small one would dislike the amount of green. The lasagna had gone rather soggy from being frozen so will try and only do fresh in future. The corn pudding went down very well with the boys, I liked it OK but I have less of a sweet tooth than they do.)

Thursday - veggy soup and cheese scones (edit - post added with scone recipe)

Friday - Moracan style Chicken and apricots with Quinoa (instead of cous cous.)
(edit did on Sunday in the end.. recipe posted here )

I'm not really doing anything with ginger but the soup might end up with some in depending what vegs are left by then. Also I just got a big bag of crystallised ginger to do baking with so that might happen this week if I have time..

Daring Baker Challange - Tender Potato Bread

So my third challenge and the second one involving yeast, however it's savoury this time which I was quite happy with. Our challenge from Tanna was for Tender Potato Bread from the book Home baking by Naomi Duguid and Jeffrey Alford. and you can find the recipe she challenged us with is here.

Bread is something I've toyed with since giving up gluten, I used to love kneading real bread before that as it was a great tension release but gluten free mixes tend to a) be wetter and b) don't have the satisfaction as there is no gluten to make it bounce back. I have made the occasional loaf for other people but if I'm not careful I find the skin contact can be enough to set my hands off and I like having the use of my hands.. I spent several years having to use both hands to pick up anything even vaguely heavy as I had so little strength in either one of them so I am wary about going back to that. One advantage I suppose of that symptom is that if I do accidentally eat something with gluten in I start to feel the ache across my knuckles in moments which stops me eating to much. Any way I digress back to Potato Bread.

I tried this recipe twice this month. The first time as close to the published version as possible and the second with a few more tweeks. I managed to forget to add Xanth gum both times but I think it will get made again and I'll report back if that makes much difference when I do.

Bread the first.

I used a generic baking potato as I didn't have a named variety of suitable type available and on the first try used about 14oz, we were told to use between 8 and 16oz. Flour wise I substituted my standard Dove Farm gluten free flour for the basic general purpose flour and millet for the wholewheat. I wasn't that happy about the millet but we were waiting on a bulk order of flour and other things and I didn't want to buy extra expansive bags in when I'd have loads in a few days. It proves I was intrigued enough to try it that I didn't wait till later in the month.

The dough went together well, being used to gluten free mixes the wetness didn't really phase me and I only added a couple of extra cups to the dough before it seemed stiff enough. I didn't knead it anyone than needed to incorporate the flour as this really serves no function without the gluten as the main reason for this is to develop the gluten chains. I left it to rise in the oven which has a special bread rising function as the kitchen was a little cold and after two hours it was wonderfully risen and full of bubbles as you may be able to see in the picture.

However when i came to shape it the dough was extremely sticky and pretty much poured out of the bowl so I added about another 2 cups of flour to get it workable. The shaped bread was put back to prove but it seemed to have run out of steam rather and only rose a small amount. I baked it anyway as I am fairly used to a mediocre rise on gluten free bread. Now I must admit to a couple of mistakes. I baked the focaccia to long and burnt the onion on it but much worse is I think I forgot to take the plastic wrap off first and that resulted in a plasticy glaze on parts of the bread!! We only eat a bit of it and from the underside to see what it was like then the rest went into the bin!

The loaf was better, rather heavy but quite edible though it had a distinctly bitter edge which was worse once it got a little more stale the next couple of days.

However it showed promise and after some discussion with knowledgeable members of the daring bakers I decided to try again. This time I decided to only rise the dough once as I was told that the second rise is mostly for developing taste and that as my flour has no gluten in it there would be less to sugars to feed the yeast.

Bread the Second.

This time I used a similar potato and cooked up nearly 16 oz. Instead of millet I used buckwheat as my flour order had arrived and indeed I added about 1.5 cups of that in total which gave the bread a distinctly wholemeal look. As I was only doing one rise this time I made sure I incorporated a bit more flour at this stage and in the end used about 6.2 cups out of the 8.5 max suggested in the recipe. I wouldn't expect a gluten free bread to use all 8.2 cups as most none wheat flours soak up more liquid than wheat does.

Once I had a nice dough I divided it into three. One third as put in muffin tins to make rolls, then one third was flavoured with tomato puree and a bit more flour added to counter the extra liquid. The final third as flavoured with cheddar cheese. These two flavoured doughs were roughly recombined so the two types swirled through the bread and then the whole lot was put in a bread tin. Both sets of bread were put to rise in the oven as before.
After two hours a good amount of rising had been done and after carefully removing ALL plastic wrap I cooked them, the rolls got about 30 mins and the loaf 50, the last 10 mins of which I removed it from the tin to allow the crust to develop all round.

This time round the texture was much better and the gluten eating members of the household actually asked if they could have some several times over the weekend meaning I didn't have my usual problem of worrying it was going to go off before I finished it. The cheese and tomato bread was espacally good and will be done again I am sure.

One final thing I decided is I want to develop my own general flour mix as my mum would have liked to try the bread but she has similar arthritic reactions to maize as I do to gluten and Dove farm's mix has maize in it. I like maize flour for some things but in a generic mix I could happily do without especally as there are becoming more flours available.

You can see how other Baring bakers got on by checking out the blog roll, out of something like 400 members I only know of two other who are gluten free they are Naomi at Straight into bed Cakefree and Dried and Sheltie Girl at Gluten a go go

Friday, 23 November 2007

Spinach, ricotta and pumpkin Lasagna

Inspired by posts on Ginger Lemon Girl and Book of Yum I decided to do a lasagna. I had several packets of gluten free pasta sheets and love spinach and ricotta lasagna so adding pumpkin sounded a idea worth a try.

The basic ingredients were as follows (for one tray, I made two so I have one for another day). I'm afraid I can't do exact measurements as I do much of this by eye.

1 packet of gluten free lasagna sheets (boiled for 2 mins to make sure they were nice and soft.)
1/2 a packet of frozen spinach, thawed
1 tub of ricotta
1/4 a largeish pumpkin, roasted and mashed to a puree.
About 1 pint of fairly thick white sauce made from gluten free flour, milk and butter.
parmesan cheese

I flavoured the white sauce with a little nutmeg and the pumpkin with a shot of roasted pumpkin and sunflower seed oil.
Then I layered it as follows, a little sauce, a layer of pasta, layer of pumpkin and a tiny bit more sauce. More pasta, layer of ricotta, layer of spinach, more sauce, pasta then a good layer of sauce. Finished off with a topping of parmesan cheese, then cooked till golden.

The dish tasted very good, was just right moisture wise and was very filling however the pumpkin got rather lost against the spinach and ricotta, next time I might try pumpkin with something else but it isn't a veg we cook much so I'm not sure what might go well. This is the one meal the small one hasn't eaten with us this week, partly as he was hungry when he came in from school and partly because I knew he would not like the green part!

(edit, pasta goes rather soggy when frozen. still edible but much better fresh)

Tuesday, 20 November 2007

The weeks menu

Well I've be organised to sort a menu but not organised to post it in time for the Monday round ups.. However I think it's a start and as we are all under the weather with colds I will let myself of. In future I want to join in the Gluten Free Menu Swap and if I'm doing that I might as well do Menu Plan Monday as well. The Gluten Free menu swap has an ingredients of the week. This week it is mushrooms, I do have some in the fridge and will probably do a mushroom side dish but one of the family as mild problems with them and as he is under the weather I will not be adding them to the main dishes as when his system is low the tends to react to them badly.

So this week the menu is as follows.

Monday Pasta and mince.
Gluten free pasta of course and mince means something more like a bolognase sauce than straight mince, so some vegs, tomato etc and in this case a little bacon that needed eating to supliment the mince as I was feeding more than expected.

Tuesday Sausage and bean stew
A few gluten free sausages, lots of black eye beans, chickpeas, potatoes, parsnip, carrot, an onion and two tins of tomatoes. Plenty left for lunches.

Wednesday Chicken noodle soup from Use real butter because it sounded wonderful.

Thursday either veggy stew or mixed roast vegs with either cauliflower fritters or cauliflower cheese. (Thursday is the day the veggy box is delivered so it depends what is left from this week's box by then)

Friday Lasagne possibly with pumpkin like the one Ginger lemon Girl did but certainly with ricotta and spinach because I love that combination.

Looking at that, all the meat is at the beginning of the week and it's quite a few pasta dishes but we haven't had much pasta recently as we had mostly run out. We got a new bulk order from Suma last week so I am making the most of having a selection, all gluten free of course.

So far this week we have eaten the evening meal before the small one's bedtime which means we can eat together. This works better when Tom is on an early shift but he is this week and next so will make the most of it by eating at the table.

Sunday, 18 November 2007

Choc Sponge Pud

I love British puds and traditional food in general so when I found out about a new blogging challenge called the Great British Pudding Challenge I had to consider joining. The first challenge is a chocolate sponge pudding. Such a hardship !

I haven't made many sponge puds since I stopped eating gluten and the few I have were done by the microwave method which while it is fast didn't give me that good a result. However when I started cooking gluten free anything resembling the real thing was good enough so they filled a gap but now I am more picky as the flours are available to do better than that and my confidence has grown to try adapting recipes.

This recipe is done by the traditional steaming method which takes much longer but all the best things take time and once the mix is made up all you need to do is make sure the steamer doesn't run out of water so can be getting on with other things which in my case was cooking tea, we had lamb chops with a salad. For a steamer I used a large pasta pan, one of those with an internal pan like a colander which can be pulled out to drain the pasta or in this case to lift the pudding basin away from the steam.

The original none gluten free recipe is here. All I did was to replace the flour with a gluten free general flour mix and it worked very well. The mixture is easy to make up and the resultant pudding is very chocolaty indeed. I used Bornville Chocolate for the chunks as I love dark chocolate. The texture was very good and light though I think from seeing pictures of a couple of others mine might be a little more crumbly than a gluten version but not so much it spoilt the feel in the mouth.

We all ate it with cream though I suspect had Tom not been feeling low with a cold he would have made custard to go with it as well.

My small one insisted on being pictured with the pudding as well sorry it's rather dark it was getting close to his bedtime so I wanted to get it served up.

Tuesday, 13 November 2007

Quince Apples and menu planning

I have got a lovely box of fruit off Freecycle yesterday. The lady referred to them as quince apples, having looked on the internet a bit and smelling them, which is a wonderful smell, I think they are real quince.. there is a variety called apple quince which look very like these. Either way I plan to make them into jelly, though I might use a few with some apples to make a pie or similar because the fragrance is wonderful.

I have also decide I really need to get back to doing weekly menu planning. I did do this quite regularly before I was feeling sick all the time and it is a good thing to do. The best day to do it is Friday as we get the veggy box Thursday evening and planning the meals round that is a good idea.

There is a weekly gluten free menu swap which I would like to join in with and a bigger general one, Menu plan monday run on orgjunkie which has lots of people joining with all sorts of eating styles. Angela, from Angela's Kitchen uses the monthly menus at which look worth considering. I don't think I'd use them all the time as I need to use the vegs we get and so forth but at least they are mostly based on basic ingredients not mixes and such like some I have seen.

Friday, 9 November 2007

Should food choices be made for us?

This is a subject that has been coming up regularly recently at least around here. There was the news articles about a report saying we should all be buying UHT milk, then a discussion with friends about if we should be only sold the 'healthy' options to counter the growth in obese people and now this article which suggests supermarkets should be encouraged to make choices for us.

My first reaction is No way I don't want someone else making such choices for me but when I think properly about it that isn't totally true. Ideally what I want is all the facts so I can make an informed decision and if a shop was making the choices the way i wanted them made I'd have no problem with it. Currently, for instance I get vegs from a local organic shop because I want organic veg and I know and trust the shop owner, even if I didn't know him organic means something specific which I can pretty much know will be attired to if it is labelled as such here.

I think the problem comes for me when the choice is taken from me completely or if it is being made by people or groups I don't fully trust and that includes the government. After all how can I trust a government who is meant to represent the people and yet is determined to allow GM crops to be grown here in 2009 even when the vast majority of the people of the country are against it and they said not so long ago they didn't have any plans to allow it in the foreseeable future. I'm not going into that particular subject any farther in this post though.

So back to choices. In principle I have no problems with retail companies having guildlines about what they will and will not buy if it is things like only buying from fair trade sources or so forth. That as a principle is something I can support and encourage, if it is to improve the lifes of others or to stop an animal being driven to extinction such as a ban on ivory.

I think the problem comes for me when it is things like telling me what I can and can't eat. Inform me fine, educate everyone fine and something we need to do more of but choosing for me that I will only be able to buy UHT milk no thanks, yes I know the argument about UHT is it will cut down the amount of energy needed for refrigeration (ie ecological) but I buy milk direct not through a supermarket so the equation is very different for me. In the discussion with friends someone asked why they sold several different types of the same margarine one lower fat that the other why didn't they sell only the healthy one. I think that hits the point for me.. they were very much assuming the lower fat one was more healthy become it was lower fat where as I don't believe it is that simple. Lower fat options are often higher in sugar, more processed and so on which can be as bad. Many drinks targeted at kids here proudly state they are sugar free BUT they have sweeteners in them which my son reacts badly to so if these so call healthy drinks were the only option what does he drink?

It is the nanny state attitude I worry about.. the view we the consumer don't have the ability to make the right choices ourselves so rather than taking the harder but ulitmently better path of educating people it is similar to make the choices for us but one choice is not always right for everyone. I do want more information and more accountability however.. a pipe dream? possibly but without dreams nothing worth wild ever happens.

Sunday, 4 November 2007

Curried Cauliflower Fritters

We have had these twice in three days and I've had no complaints and several compliments about them. They are a lovely different way to serve Cauliflower which I find can be a bit bland. The most common way we eat it normally is as cauliflower cheese often with a bunch of other things added such as tomatoes, spring onions and possibly bacon or similar. These fritters however are totally different, they are as crisp and cauliflower cheese is soft and spicy to it's smooth flavour.

Cauliflower is a form of brassica with a large flower head which is the part you eat. It is normally white but a seed catalogue I was reading today had green ones, purple ones and even a bright orangy yellow. I believe the changes in colour effect the nutrients in it but I don't know how well the colour stands up well to cooking however they are certainly interesting to look at. There is a really un-usual green type called Romanesco which has spirally fractal like heads.

The recipe is adapted from Jamie Oliver's new book "Jamie at Home" His instructions are much longer than mine but i hope you get the jist.

1 Cauliflower, cut into similar sized florets. wash and dust with flour and put aside.


1 tsp cumin seeds
2 tsp black mustard seeds
good shake of chilli flakes (Jamie uses 2-3 dried red chills)
1 tsp black peppercorns
200g GF flour (Jamie used Self raising flour)
1 tsp baking powder
1/2 tsp turmeric
350ml water (Jamie uses beer but I'm not using my GF beer when I can't finish the bottle because I'm pregnant)

Crush the first four spices in a mortar and pestle, mix with flour and turmeric, pour in most of the water and whisk, you are aiming for a batter the thickness of double cream. season with salt.

The fritters are deep fried at 180C, heat your oil to the right temp. Dip each floret in batter and fry a few at a time till golden then drain on kitchen paper and sprinkle with sea salt.


These need to be eaten straight away as they soften down otherwise.

Next time I plan to try some or all the flour as gram flour (chickpeas) as I think the flavour would work very well.

Very good and morish. I did a small bowl each the, as a side dish, first time round and was told they could eat more. The second time was with a roast dinner which worked very well too.

I plan to try the same batter with some white fish as I think it will work and I've been craving battered fish. It's a British thing, fish and chips is a comfort food but very much not gluten free.

Friday, 2 November 2007

Marmite and pickles

The picture is of one of the rolls I talked about last time, the ones that seem the same under different names at ASDA and Morrisons. It is topped with marmite, Philadelphia cheese and pickled beetroot which is a combination I love.

Marmite is one of those things you either love or hate, no-one ever seems to be ambivalent about it and I've found it very rare for someone to like it if they weren't given it as a small child, so I have made sure the small one had it in his diet from and early age and he is already a pro at eating it.. to start with you should have a tiny smear on some buttered bread, anything more and you will definetly not like it as it is extremely strong. Those of us hardened marmite lovers however have it thicker and have even been known to eat it neat. You need something like butter on the bread first or you can't spread it properly.

One of my fathers favourite sandwiches was buttered bread with marmite, salad cream and black pepper ! In a way that is similar to my roll today because salad cream is quite vinegary, so you have a similar, salty, vinegary, creamy mix.