Wednesday, 30 December 2009

Gluten Free Cooking Videos

Dietary Specials have done a bunch of gluten free cooking videos with some very interesting recipe suggestions.

Unsurprisingly they mostly focus on using their products but that doesn't stop them being good recipes particularly for those not wanting to cook from scratch. I thought the Speedy chocolate Profiteroles rolls was quite inspired using as it does their ready made yorkshire puds as the pastry.. after all the texture and so forth of both is really very similar. Obviously they aren't exactly the same but I still think it's a great substitute which doesn't need you to try and make full blown chow pastry and even the most willing of cooks sometimes want an easy option.

I may well try their bread and butter pudding recipe. It is a pudding well liked here and their version includes peaches. I've never tried it with peaches in though one with apricots and marzipan is Tom's favourite so I'm guessing peaches would go down well too!

They are also a very friendly and helpful team. When I sent them a bit of a stroppy email because they said suet isn't suitable on gluten free diet in the Christmas pud recipe I got a very nice and pleasant reply and they changed the written recipe to include that you can get suet from the butcher. To be fair processed suet is unsuitable as it has flour to keep it sticking together but as you will know from my previous posts the raw stuff from the butcher is fat straight from a cow or sheep and therefore fine.

Also I have finally got my hands on one of their new fresh loaves. The nearest ASDA isn't stocking them and the couple of times I tried the other one previously I was late in the day and they were all gone. This time there were plenty on the shelf though so I will by trying it out later.. so watch this space for my views on them.. first impressions are good though, nice and soft feeling and a good size for a gluten free loaf, which is to say still smaller than wheat bread but big enough to make a good sandwitch..

Monday, 28 December 2009

Last Menu of 2009

Well as the last few days of the year draw to a close it's time to look at what has been done in the last year and what will be done in the next. I think doing menus has been very useful so plan to keep doing so but I hope to plan a touch longer in advance most of the time and I am considering including all the allotment stuff in this blog. There are pros and cons to having a seperate one but I'm finding I'm forgetting to do that one as well as this and a craft related one so i may move it here as it's food related all be it growing not eating.

The gluten free menu plan is hosted by The GFCF Cookbook this week and they have picked leftover ham as the ingredient. Normally I always have leftover ham but I didn't do the meat this year so actually haven't got any leftover meat at all ! I do however have plenty of left over vegs (I always over buy for events of any kind), christmas pud (though that will last months if we want it to) and plenty of things like cheese.

I am thinking about what aims I want for next year but that will come in another post shortly.

Menu for the coming week.

Monday - Baked potatoes and whatever toppings people fancy plus leftover gingerbread cheesecake.

Tuesday -Vegetable gratin might even used bread crumbs as I have some left from last week rather than my normal crushed crisp topping.

Wednesday - Battered fish and chips or a suet pudding depending where I go shopping for meat/fish and what is good..

Thursday - Probably random party type food.. having a low key kids get together in the afternoon then just a quiet night in to see the new year in.. probably a nice bottle of something but not much more.

Friday - Sausage meat patties, mash and veg.

Saturday, 26 December 2009

Gingerbread and more cookbooks

This month's Daring Bakers Challenge is Gingerbread houses! As yet i haven't really managed to do it though I might have a proper go tomorrow, due to the holidays the reveal date is more a reveal week so many people already have thier posts up so I thought I would mention it so you could go and check out some fantastic gingerbread houses including some great igloos and other more modern buildings recreated in gingerbread!

I have however made gingerbread and indeed a tiny, tiny gingerbread shack.. I think house would be pushing it. This is because I made a gingerbread cheesecake to take to a family get together today. The recipe is adapted from Martha Stwart, I used the honey gingerbread recipe which worked very well with gluten free flour (Dove Farm gluten free plain flour).

The cheesecake come out very well, very rich but everyone seemed to enjoy it.

As to cookbooks well I lied about getting three yesterday... well not exactly lied. I had forgotten one I got early and I got two more today so in total there are 6 new cookbooks this christmas !

The one I had forgotten is Caribbean Food made easy, not something I would have thought to got myself but it has some quite interesting looking recipes so you may see more of that later.

The second one is the Wagamama book.

If you have read my blog for a while you will have heard about Wagamama who are a Japanese noddle bar type restaurant. They have a file folder at the restaurant telling you what dishes you can have or be adapted for various different allergies which means I know they take such things seriously and can easily chose something I know is safe. They also have the info on the website so you can plan in advance. They also scored huge points for having a policy of serving kids first rather than after the adults which is so common here for some reason I can never fathom. As we already know we love a good few of thier dishes this book with certainly get used and I look forward to trying safe versions of some of the ones I can't have at the restaurant.

The final book is one I've had on my wish list for a while now and have got out of the library on several occasions.

It is the river Cottage Meat book. For those that don't live in the UK the River Cottage series of books is by a guy going by the wonderful name of Huge Fearnley-Whittingstall who a good few years agoi now did a TV series about running his own little country garden complete with chickens and pigs and cooking the results, this has spawned into a much bigger enterprise but one that has always sung the praises of local food and small local producers. The Meat book is another big tome though not as heavy as the Fat Duck cookbook! It is nice to have a modern book explaining the various meats in depth and how you can use them as I have a few old ones but this covers the subject from the view point of explaining to people who havn't grown up knowing the various cuts of meat and eating the more 'uncommon' cuts or rather unfashionable ones...

I'm told I should be getting rid of a few of the cookery books I don't use to make space for them!!

Friday, 25 December 2009


We had a lovely Christmas day. My brother did a splendid meal to which I contributed two sorts of stuffing and the veg, though he did the cooking of the veg. I also took one of my christmas puds which seemed to go down quite well thought I forgot to take cream and so forth to go with it.

The two stuffings went down well, one was basically sausage meat, onion, garlic, and apple, the other was cooked rice, various dried fruits, a bit of garlic, parsley and some egg to bind it together a little.

We made various items for christmas hampers including chuckney, peppermint creams and noguat. I only remembered to take a photo of the noguat though but that is really nice if rather sticky. The photo at the start is of it, I made a honey, pastasio and cranberry version.

I also got a great haul of cooking books as presents which will give me plenty of reading materials for the next few weeks. I always read cookery books more like most people read novels but these ones even more so.

The first one is the biggest and boy is it big! You could kill people with this book.

I present The Fat Duck Cookbook by Heston Blumenthal. I love his TV programs and his fantastic OTT attitude that mixes cooking and a mad scientist lab. I got the basic version not the uber posh one that comes in it's own box and has a price tag to match but even the version I got is extremely heavyweight and has a great quality feel with wonderful photographs and of course his signiture dishes.

I also got another book by him "In search of Total Pefection" which looks interesting to read as well, it is about a set of TV programs he did about various well know dishes and looking for the 'perfect' version though very wisely he says everyones version of perfect is different.

Finally I got a  much more humble but almost certainly more practical in a day to day sense book. The Green Kitchen which is about being energy concous in the kitchen, ways of saving energy and so forth. The recipes in this book are more of the ilk to make me go into the kitchen and try them out where as the first two are more awe inspiring but probably a lot less practical.

Sunday, 20 December 2009

Catching up and getting sorted for Christmas

 Making Banana Bread

Sorry about the lack of posts last week. The week started with both Treestump and I suffering from a stomach bug so cooking as very low down my agenda. However we are recovered and apart from the normal lucking colds of this time of this time if year and the red cheeks which mean Treestump is probably brewing his second set of molars we are fine.

I made five of these in total.

I have finally used the last few bananas from my bargin a few weeks ago, well technically the last hand full were just a bit too squashy and have gone in the compost but it really was just a few last ones all the others got eaten. While they looked rather brown and spotty when we got them they turned out to be very nice and many were eaten just as is or as smoothies and fritters. I also made several batches of banana bread some of which is in the freezer, three batches of chutney and some banana curd which I've never had before and is very nice, though too sweet for me to eat with a spoon unlike Noodles who was happy to do just that!

I also failed to report back on the suet pudding. I did make a steak and onion one and it was really good. The pastry is fairly easy to work with partly as a slightly rough look is part of the appeal and so a few bits filled in by squishing offcuts into the gaps are fine.

The filled pudding before the top pastry was put on.

I used a very traditional recipe from back in Mrs Beeton's day so the ingredient list for the filling was pretty basic but I thought that was fine and the meat was good quality. Really just meat, onion, a bit of water and a bit of seasoning. Then it was steamed for about an hour and a half and came out looking like this.

The plated dish is pretty basic and not going to win any beauty awards but it is very tasty and just right for cold weather, thought I realy should have done a green veg as well !

Anyway on to this coming week.

Of course the week finishes with Christmas Day on Friday and we will be having a Christmas meal with my brother, his family, my mum and stepdad. Un-usually this year I am not doing the main cooking, my brother has offered to do that so I'm supplying vegs, stuffing and christmas pudding.

Working up to that the menu will be roughly as follows.

Monday - Fish pie with greens

Tuesday - Pho

Wednesday - Probably running round like a mad thing by this point so something very simple like "tomato and eggs"

Thursday - Salmon in some manner and Fruit Brulee for pud ( fruit covered in whipped cream with a caramel pored over which goes hard as it hits the cold cream... fantastic and a bit of a Christmas tradition on and off)

Friday - breakfast  - we normally have smoked salmon and scrambled egg but I'm tempted to do gingerbread waffles instead having found a recipe that looks adaptable on Martha Stewart's site.

Saturday - Another get together with Tom's family - we are supplying a pudding. Currently planning either summer pudding as I have a good variety of berries frozen from the summer or gingerbread cheesecake also from Martha Stewart's site.

Sunday -  A quiet day probably just eating any leftovers and the various cheeses and pates we always stock up on this time of year. Possibly a fresh made veg soup and scones.

Baking and batch cooking -
Still have some bits to make for presents as we do hampers for some people.
Plus biscuits and bread for us.

Monday, 7 December 2009

Weekly Menu Swap - Hosting Ingredient - Suet

I realise that many people will probably never knowingly have used suet and indeed suet recipes seem to be mainly British dishes but the actual ingredient is available anywhere that cows and sheep are eaten. Why? Because it is the fat from around the internal organs.. OK I know at this point some of you are thinking that's gross but really it's not much different to using dripping or similar. Suet has the properties of being quite flaky in nature, having a low melting point and producing a very distinctive pastry among other things. There is also a vegetarian version though that might be hard to get in none suet using areas.. OK it's not probably something you want to use every day but there are some traditional winter dishes here which don't work without it.

To be fair much of it doesn't get used at least not by butchers these days as my previous post will show, I got a large amount for free of my butcher as he normally asks the abattoir to remove it before sending him the meat.. it's crumbly nature means the cool-room floor gets covered in bits otherwise. Now the abattoir might well have a use for it other than sending to a butcher.. You can certainly buy it in packets but it is coated in flour after it is grated to keep the bits separate so it is no good for me.  It is also used a lot over here to make fatballs to put out for wild birds by combining it with seeds and other bits they like, it makes a good high calorie food for them. Traditionally it was rendered down to make tallow for candles too, very smoky candles for the masses who couldn't afford beeswax! .

So what recipes use it? Well Christmas pudding for a start and mincemeat, this is probably partly because mincemeat at least used to have meat in it.. I once made a traditional mincemeat with minced meat in it and apart from having to keep the mince pies in the fridge they really tasted no different to the none meat version which keeps for at least a year in a jar!

It is also used in suet pastry which is used in suet puddings.. these are savoury puddings ie steamed in a pudding basin, normally an outside of pastry with a pie type filling or even a plain sponge pudding type one to serve with meat a bit like Yorkshire pudding is . There are also sweet suet puddings eaten for pudding such as spotted dick and jam suet pudding... Have you noticed we like the word pudding over here  :)   I'm planning a meat filled suet pasty style pudding this week.

Delia's suet pastry
Bacon and leek suet pudding from Farmers Weekly
Plain suet pudding from The Foody
Spotted Dick from the Jane Austin Centre
Jam spong pudding from Cook it Simply

It's also used in dumplings to put in a stew for the last 20 mins or so of the cooking time which are a firm favourite here. Dumplings are very easy.. they are basically twice as much flour as fat and whatever flavours you like such as herbs, onion, cheese or whatever goes with the stew.

Basic dumplings from The Foody
A version from Jamie Oliver for those who don't have suet

I posted some links to Christmas pudding recipes a couple of weeks ago and will post up my gluten free, corn free, citrus free version when I have finished trialling it..

Here are a couple of mincemeat recipes, mincemeat is easy to make and once made you can make another British Christmas staple the mincepie. There are plenty of other uses for mincemeat too as you can see here.

Delia's version.
A meat version from River Cottage
Anyway that is probably more about Suet than you ever wanted to know so on to the menus.

Our menu this week.

Monday - Suet meat pudding with potatoes, cabbage and carrots.

Tuesday - Fish pie

Wednesday - School play so something simple like baked potatoes we can have quickly.

Thursday - Cauliflower cheese.

Friday - Stew and dumplings.

Baking and other batch cooking- Chrismas puddings, Banana bread, banana chukney, banana curd, banana steamed pudding.. (well I do still have about 16lb of bananas to use up! )

Other Menus

Heather over at Celiac Family has just got back from a surprise trip to Disney World the lucky thing, she has a lovely sounding menu plan though she tells us it is quite simple due to the hectic time of year !

Angela at Angela's Kitchen does use suet even if only to make fat balls for the birds ! her menu so based on some deals her hubby picked up which is the sort of menu I love. her Thai seasoned patties sound particularly interesting.

Cheryl from Gluten free goodness  has a lovely photo of her cats all curled up to greet us. She has a very interetsing sounding menu and she may never have heard of suet but then I have no idea what mahi or kalamatas are so we are even !  

Sunday, 6 December 2009

Bargins on the high Street

I am very much a supporter of buying locally and I have been trying to support my local shops more recently rather than defaulting to the supermarket. I do still buy some things in the supermarket but we now get vegs from the allotment, a veg box every other week from a local organic shop and any extras from a couple of very good veg shops on the local high street. In fact in easy walking distance we have at least 4 shops with a good range of veg, some more traditional English, some quite Asian oriented.

We get milk delivered by a milk man and the local bread shop is great and we have noticed their prices have not gone up nearly as much as the supermarket so now they are on a par was as not so long ago they were noticeably more expensive.

I am also trying to buy most meat from the local butcher and having had some fantastic beef from him has really brought home how bland the supermarket stuff can be.. he also happily caters to my wims making me gluten free sausages to my specs and even getting me suet when I ask.. It turns out they normally have the abattoir throw the suet away before delivering the carcase as they have no use for it so as a result I got it for free! I got about 5lb, which I'm guessing is one cows worth, of which the picture show about a pounds worth.. Its' quite flaky fat though in this raw form you do have to separate the fat from the surrounding membrain but it means I can make proper chirstmas pub well a gluten free 'proper' one anyway.

The other big bargain of the week was bananas! I stopped at the newest of our veg shops to buy a couple of bags of bananas to make chutney as our current favourite is banana based and spotted that while the bags were a good price they had a big heaped box full of slightly brown ones marked up for 1.99 for the box !! As the recipe calls for very ripe bananas that seemed like a plan!  In all there was 28lb of bananas in the box so that's about 7p a pound!!

Actually turns out most aren't too ripe for eating straight either so the smallest having recovered from his illness earlier in the week has been stuffing himself with them and they are great as fritters to!