Monday, 30 November 2009

Weekly Menu 30th November to 4th December

Well I've missed Stir it up Sunday but plan to make christmas puds this week if I can find the time. We visited my mum this weekend who is rather under the weather as is her dog and indeed my youngest.. all different things but it's just one of those times. Was very nice to see mum and I have to work harder on the allotment to catch up with hers!

Menu this week partly based on the fact  should be picking up a sausage/sausage meat order from my butcher and hopefully some suet, partly for the christmas pud. One of the things i dislike in pretty much all the pre-made Gluten free christmas puds I've tried is the fat that seems to stay solid in on the edges and I think that is partly they are using vegetarian suet so I hope my butcher will be getting me some of the real stuff without the flour that contaminates the boxed stuff so then I can try a proper recipe with proper animal fat!

If I do get the suet I also want to make a steak pudding.. it meat wrapped in a suet pastry and steamed. We rits use pudding to mean both a dish cooked in a pudding bowl that is either using pastry or cakey (these can be both sweet or savory) or a generic word for desert.

My smallest is on antibiotics as his throat and ears are inflamed ad he hasn't been eating much but I hope once the medication kicks in he will feel more like eating. Strangely while he is off even things like icecream he is still eating salt and vinegar crisps which I would have thought was spiky and acid.

This weeks menu is a bit random and not fully worked out more of a sketch menu.

Monday - Pasta and cheese/ham sauce

Tuesday - I'm out most of the day so something simple like fish-fingers and smilies faces.

Wednesday - sausage and mash.

Thursday - something pumpkin based as mum gave us one she grew.

Friday - Suet pudding

You will be able to find more gluten free menus at Asparagus thin who is hosting the menu swap this week.

Friday, 27 November 2009

Daring Bakers do Cannoli

The November 2009 Daring Bakers Challenge was chosen and hosted by Lisa Michele of Parsley, Sage, Desserts and Line Drives. She chose the Italian Pastry, Cannolo (Cannoli is plural), using the cookbooks Lidia’s Italian-American Kitchen by Lidia Matticchio Bastianich and The Sopranos Family Cookbook by Allen Rucker; recipes by Michelle Scicolone, as ingredient/direction guides. She added her own modifications/changes, so the recipe is not 100% verbatim from either book.

I had never heard of Cannoli till this challenge but then that is one of the great things about Daring Bakers, and indeed Daring Cooks, you end up making things you would never have considered. Turns out they are a sort of fried pastry, a tube of pastry that is deep fried and filled with a creamy filling. They are known for being very filling and hard to eat without making a mess.. sound perfect.

Being a fantastic host Lisa supplied us not only with the standard recipe but also with a link to a gluten free version which turned out to work very well, you can find it here.

It was also suggested we make our own ricotta and/or mascarpone cheese. I'd made ricotta for a previous challenge so I had a go at mascarpone which is made with cream not milk and it came out fabulously. I used the recipe surgessed which you can find here.

One thing about the recipe is it makes quite a lot of dough, I still have some in the freezer as we couldn't eat it all in one go.. not even making several dishes with it. Unless I was catering a party I think I'd cut it in half. I also found I destroyed plastic wrap rolling it out so I swapped to using two thin re-useable baking sheets - thickish plastic you can bake on and then wash, like a plastic version of greaseproof paper..

I started out trying the traditional version.This is a picture of making the dough.. did I mention it uses port!! Pastry made with port and deep fried sounds good doesn't it! Oh those tins are old baby milk tins which I keep my various flours in. They stack well and I have lots !

As I didn't have any molds I used some pieces of dowel that at one point held together the wooden bed we take camping. Yes we take a wood double bed camping, doesn't everyone?

These deep fried very well and I filled them with a mix of mascarpone, apple and whipped double cream.

 Very tasty I'd certainly consider them for a party, perhaps with some brandysnaps as well to ring the changes.. Someone said they tasted like sugarcones and one of the things I have never found since being gluten free is a good cone.. the only ones I've found have been wafer ones which aren't brillient and I don't much like the wafer ones anyway so I had to try this recipe for cone.

Someone on the Daring Baker forum had suggested using foil trays to fashion molds so I made a very, very rough cone to try it out.

 It was wonky but really, really nice with icecream in it.

After this we still had a lot of dough left the next day so I thought I'd try a savoury version as while it is a sweet dought it isn't so sweet it couldn't work with savory fillings. I did try to make deep fried dishes but they just opened up in the fryer so I ended up with disks so I cut out one to look a bit like a flower and made a cheese and ham flower for Noodles lunch with a sausage stem and leaves, He liked it enough to have seconds and ask for one in his lunchbox the next day !

We were told you could bake the pastry too so I also make some small tarts with a ricotta and bacon filling. I had a spare egg white so whipped it up and added it which made the filling fluff up very nicely.

The Pastry is definietly better fried but it does work as a pie case too.

Monday, 16 November 2009

Weekly menu 16th to 20th November 2009

Treestump enjoying some late flowers in his aunts garden. Wish we had a garden that size though she is hoping to move soon but says the current house will be a hard act to follow.

We had the allotment AGM this weekend and I promised to make some gluten free nibbles. I made some cheese biscuits and they went down so well I ave included the recipe at the end of this post. They are based on several cheese savory I've tried in the past but the exact mix was a new one I tried and worked very well indeed.

This weeks menu swap is hosted by In my Box who chose Dutch ovens this week. I have never been sure what a Dutch oven is but after seeing her photo of hers I realise I've had one. I call it my Le Creuset casserole. I have a cobalt blue one which was a wedding present and a very very well received one at that. I can confirm they are fantastic for cooking stews and casseroles in.

We have decided we have been slipping on the amount of vegs we have been eating so are trying to up that this week.

Menu this week.

Monday - boys had boiled eggs and soldiers, we are having a prawns, courgette, mushrooms, tomatoes and  pasta in a white wine and cream sauce..

Tuesday - Sweet potato rostis, pork chops and green vegs.

Wednesday - bean and veg stew with baked potatoes

Thursday -  butternut squash gratin with any vegs left before the new box turns up.

Friday -  Fish and chips.

Baking - Daring Bakers monthly challenge, cheese biscuits 

Cheese Biscuits

(makes about 45)

2 oz Dove Farm Gluten Free plain flour (or other generic GF flour mix)
2 oz Gram flour
8 oz Cheddar or mix of cheeses
1/2 tsp salt
good pinch of cayenne pepper or similar spice.
good pinch of mustard powder (make sure it's gluten free).
good pinch of black pepper.
3 oz butter
1 egg

Sieve the flours into a bowl with spices and mustard. Add the salt and cheese then rub in the butter till it's crumbly.
Add an egg and a little more flour if needed to make the pastry rollable which will depend on how big the egg is.. if the egg is big it ends up a little too sticky

Roll out pastry to about 3mm (1/8 inch) using plenty of flour to flour the board.. gluten free of course. Then use a small cutter to cut biscuits.
Arrange on a none stick or greased baking tray, these can be quite close together as they don't expand much.

Cook at 190 C for 10-12 minutes.

Cool on a rack.

Saturday, 14 November 2009

Daring Cooks - Sushi English style.

The November 2009 Daring Cooks challenge was brought to you by Audax of Audax Artifex and Rose of The Bite Me Kitchen. They chose sushi as the challenge. As Audax does even when he isn't hosting he has done a whole host of varieties and as he is in Australia he was also first to post this month so if you want to see a wider range and indeed a blog version of all the very thorough instructions they gave us check out his blog.

Our Challenge was to make three specific forms of sushi and in that I failed as I never made the dragon sushi but I did make several types of the other two.

I've struggled to find Nori as it's a bit random who will have it in around here and didn't end up with any wasabi but I knew I'd have to leave that out for most of the family though I like it so that was not a major loss.

My rice did burn a little on the bottom (I never get rice cooked this way right) but the rest of it was fine. It has a very nice taste once the dressing is added I must say and we all enjoyed it though it was quite a faff to make compared to standard rice.. but then you can't make pretty shapes with standard rice!

I started with a British fusion idea I had so here is an English Breakfast roll served with tomato sauce as that is what you get with breakfast, though brown sauce would be fine as well and closer to soy in flavour.. I just liked the colour better of the tomato! for the photo! I think actually they would work with soy sauce too.

Filling is egg, bacon, mushroom, tomato and black pudding (blood sausage). I only did one sheet of nori so it isn't really a spiral but they were still great.
Then I did tuna and sweetcorn at the request of my 6 year old. Again one sheet and pretty much all eaten by him, he came back for seconds and thirds!

Next came Nigiri sushi which I did find harder as the rice didn't like sticking together firmly enough, though it liked sticking to me if I didn't keep my hands quite wet! As Audax had done vegimite and cheese I felt I had to do Marmite and cheese, I also did some with a cheese that has branston pickle added to it. The small one loved them but the older ones of us decided that grating the cheese and doing it in a roll would work better. The Marmite does as a lovely savoury taste though again it is quite like soy sauce in that regard. I also did ones with smoked salmon. No raw fish for us not because we don't like it but we live as far from the sea as you can get in this country and so I didn't feel any of the fish on offer was fresh enough.

Finally I did some plain rolls wrapped in Nori with toppings. Do they have another name? We had prawns and cucumber and black and white pudding. The puddings are the same recipe but the black one had blood and the white doesn't. They are a sort of oat based spiced sausage and actually made really delicious sushi, Black pudding sushi will defiantly be on our list in the future.

I have promised  Noodles I will make him some egg wrapped sushi as he wasn't totally struck on the seaweed.. this he tells me after eating about 6 pieces ! I also really want to have a go at the more complicated rolls with faces and flowers and so on. I figure I can make canes in Polymer clay and it's basically the same technique give or take :)  So watch this space for my alien faces when they all go wrong!!

Wednesday, 11 November 2009

Weekly menu 9th to 13th November 2009

Wrote this monday and completely forgot to hit publish!

My Christmas pudding planning is slowly shaping up, I am now roughing out a gluten, citrus and maize free one so my mum and step-dad can eat it too. My step dad is unable to have citric which means he rarely gets Christmas pub either so was quite keen on the idea when I suggested it. I think citric is almost if not as common as gluten as a random added extra in processed foods so he has to be just as careful as I do.. don't you find it typical my mum can have gluten but gets very similar reactions as my obvious ones to maize ie a form of rheumatic arthritis!

Also need to remember to ask the butcher to do me a batch of gluten free sausage meat to freeze ready for things like sausage-meat stuffing as my brother and I have been parcelling out who cooks what for Christmas and as stuffing is problematic for me I'm doing that among other things.  Have a hankering to make sausage rolls too !!

This weeks Gluten free menu swap is hosted by Gluten Free Goodness even though she has no kitchen this week! She has picked carrots as this weeks ingredient. We use carrots on almost a daily basis so I can pretty much guarantee we will have them as a vegetable this week at some point as everyone likes them. My favourite way to dress up basic boiled carrots is drain them, then add a little butter and lemon juice and toss them in the mix, very simple but very nice.

Last week didn't go quite as planned as the lamb chops turned out to be stewing lamb but they made a really good stew later in the week!

Monday - Filled yorkshire puds

Tuesday - Fish fingers and smiley faces as they are easy and we are re-oiling the work surfaces in the kitchen.

Wednesday - Pho

Thursday - Pork chops with oven roast veg.

Friday -  Tempted to do a suet pudding possible a steak one but will depend on time. The weather is definitely darker and colder recently and that always get me thinking about me traditional stodgier British food.

Monday, 2 November 2009

Gluten Free Menu swap round up

This week I agreed to host the gluten free menu swap and I chose dried fruit as my ingredient. We use a lot of dried fruit and even more so this time of year.

This year I plan to make both Christmas cake and Christmas pudding from scratch using traditional recipes adapted to be gluten free. The recipes I plan to use are so full of dried fruit that the flour is really an after though. For those that don't know what Christmas pudding is think if a sort of steamed version of a very dark, very rich fruit filled fruit cake.. Both Christmas cake and Christmas pudding in this country are nearly back in colour and very full of fruit and often pumped full of alcohol for a couple of months if you follow the traditional recipes.

Here are a couple of Mrs Beeton's Christmas pudding recipes, note the large amount of fruit compared to flour and breadcrumbs, the recipe I am thinking of using has no flour at all just some bread or cake crumbs.

The dried fruit we probably use the most is sultanas which I believe Americans either don't have or call by a different name (Edit - Heather says they are often called golden raisins in the US). They are between currants and raisins in size and quite sweet and pale in colour compared to both the others. We also have dried apricots, pears, peaches, bananas, prunes, currants, a couple of types of raisins in the cupboard and probably a couple more I've forgotten.

We snack on them, add them to cereal, cakes, vegetable and tomato sauce to go with pasta and several more dishes including a really nice chicken and apricot Moroccan dish Tom cooks.

This weeks menu

I've also listed my menu this week on Menu Plan Monday on organised Junkie.

Monday - Lamb chops, chips and whatever we feel like at the time.

Tuesday - Fish pie with sweet potato topping (didn't do last week, didn't even buy the fish !)

Wednesday - Polenta terrine which I also failed to get round to last week.

Thursday - Sausage and mash

Friday - Quinoa, dried fruit and chickpeas with spiced chicken..

Pumpkin tealoaf (with sultanas) - mostly to use up the inside of the pumpkin from Halloween.
Pear pie and/or cake
I now have the urge to try converting Coventry god cakes as well which would mean repeating the puff pastry.. they are basically puff pastry filled with mincemeat.. or maybe Eccles cakes which have a dried fruit filling, similar but different.... argg I should never have picked dried fruit now I've remembered lots of recipes I want to try and convert!!.

Other menus

Kimberly from Gluten free is life sounds like she has had a rough ride recently but at least she likes my ingredient choice. Her menu sounds very nice indeed.

Heather from Celiac Family is making pupusas again which I'd never heard of till she posted about them and this week she has added an link with more information. She describes this week and quick and easy but it still sounds very tasty.

Manda from Asparagus Thin warns about snacking to much on dried fruit as she rightly points out they have a lot of sugar all be it natural rather than refined. She has some very intriguing sounding dishes I wish my menu sounded so interesting and I'd love to know what Risotto Nero is or how to make Curried Sweet Potato Salad, Japanese Style.

Over at Angela's Kitchen  as usual there is a hectic schedual and a great sounding menu plus lots of baking to refill the freezer. Her ground beef freezer plan sound a really good idea and as I'm trying to buy more from the local butcher and less from the supermarket I may try it next time he does a special on mince.

Trishtator over at Gluten Free in Salt Lake City has a picture up of her street which shows that autumn seems at about the same stage here and there. Her menu sounds great and I will be checking back to see here cinnamon apple muffins recipe later this week.