Peach and Banana Smoothie

Saturday, 30 June 2012

The sun is finally shining here...shhh, don’t scare it away.  I made a lovely, summery peach and banana smoothie.  Unfortunately it killed off my ailing blender which was on its last legs anyway.  The frozen banana was a step too far.  But don’t let that put you off.  A fully functional blender or food processor will work just fine.  This is a delicious combination of soft summery peaches and frozen banana with almond milk.  Super cold, super refreshing, super tasty.

Notes: this makes one large smoothie or two small.  My almond milk included some agave syrup.  If you are using unsweetened almond milk or other milk you might want to add some honey or agave syrup to suit your taste.  I used two small flat peaches which would probably equal one large regular peach in size.
You can now follow me on Pinterest.  I haven’t done much yet but so far it’s been fun.  Click on the link on the side bar.  Happy weekend x

Gluten Free Flatbread Pizzas with Tomato and Mozzarella

Monday, 25 June 2012

So a few weeks ago I posted about gluten free flatbreads.  I love them and I’ve been playing around with combinations.  I’d heard they can make a good pizza base and I decided to give it a try.  I’m happy to report it was a huge success!  They came pretty close to replicating what I remember real pizza is like.  It may be a distant, hazy memory as I haven’t eaten regular pizza for seven years but when I sank my teeth in to these it immediately felt right.  My husband is no stranger to pizza and he agreed these flatbreads come pretty close to making a decent pizza base.  The fact that they are so quick and easy to make is a massive bonus.  The base has a slight crunch but is also light and airy.  In the past my attempts at gluten free pizza have been a bit of a fail, often cardboard like in texture and distinctly chewy.  In fact one time we ended up scraping the topping off the pizza and just eating that.  No more will we have to suffer this fate now that I can make these lovely little pizzas.  I’m looking forward to trying out more toppings. 

Although I describe these as pizzas they aren’t traditional in the sense of having a tomato sauce topping.  I haven’t tried this mainly because they are best grilled so lend themselves to toppings like sliced tomato and mozzarella that stand up well under the grill and are quick to cook.  I’m not sure how well they would work cooked in the oven but if you give it a try I’d love to know how they turned out. 
Flatbread recipe adapted from BBC Good Food
Makes 4 small pizzas
200g (7oz) gluten free self raising flour (I used Doves Farm)
150ml natural yoghurt (I used sheep’s milk yoghurt)
50ml water
For the top:
Tomatoes sliced
1 x ball of mozzarella cheese sliced.
Preheat the grill to medium and dust a baking sheet with flour.  In a large bowl combine the flour and yoghurt then add in the water and mix well.  This will form a slightly wet dough. Don’t be tempted to add more flour.
Divide the dough in to four pieces and then flatten out to form a rough circle about ½ cm thick.  Dust with a little flour as you do this to stop them from sticking to the surface.  Place the flatbreads on a baking sheet and cook under the grill.  Cook the first side until golden brown (about 5 minutes) then turn and cook the other side.  As the flatbreads begin to brown remove from the grill briefly but keep them on the baking sheet.  Add the sliced tomatoes and slices of mozzarella to the top of each flatbread.  Place back under the grill and continue to cook until the mozzarella is melted and turning golden.  Remove and serve topped with fresh basil.

Fruit Crumble

Thursday, 21 June 2012

I’ve been meaning to try making a crumble for years, yes years.  Some have ambitions to bungee jump off the Empire State Building, my ambitions involve making crumble.  I can’t say which is more satisfying and I’m unlikely to find out. For a start I can’t afford the air fare to New York. One of the reasons I didn’t make crumble was my husband always said he didn’t like it, so every time I thought about making one I didn’t fancy the prospect of eating the whole thing myself.  (I now feel like I’m making myself sound friendless.  I just don’t have friends who pop by for crumble...maybe I should get some).  Anyway, I made crumble and my husband loved it, he pretty much ate it all by himself.  “I thought you didn’t like crumble” I said.  “I don’t, I only like yours” was the reply.  Enough said.

Recipe adapted from Miss Dahl's Voluptuous Delights by Sophie Dahl.
Makes one 8x5 inch crumble.
250g (9oz) fruit (I used a mix of raspberries, strawberries and frozen blackberries)
50g (2oz) unsalted butter plus a ½ tablespoon for the fruit
50g (2oz) brown rice flour
30g (1 ½ oz) gluten free rolled oats
25g (1oz) unrefined golden caster sugar plus ½ tablespoon for the fruit
Preheat the oven to Gas Mark 6, 200°C, 400°F
Lightly butter your pie dish.
In a large bowl mix the flour, oats and butter to form large breadcrumbs then add the sugar.  Place your fruit in a pie dish and dot the fruit with the extra butter then sprinkle with the extra sugar.  Cover the fruit with the crumble and bake in the oven for 30 minutes or until the fruit is bubbling and the crumble is golden.  Serve warm with ice cream, custard or natural yoghurt.

Brown Butter Strawberry Banana Bread

Saturday, 16 June 2012

Summer still hasn’t arrived around here but I’m pressing on with the summer recipes in the hope it will arrive sometime soon.  This bread bridges the gap between gloom and sun nicely because banana bread always says comfort to me no matter what the weather is up to.  The fact that strawberries are involved makes it a summery treat.  As I type this I am looking out the window at the wind battering my garden and a garden chair fallen on its back that I shouldn’t have left out in the first place.  I am thinking I wish I could have a slice of this banana bread right now.

I adapted this recipe from Joy the Baker to make it gluten free.  This was quite a challenge for several reasons.  First of all the original recipe is measured in cups but I am used to baking by weight.  Unfortunately I didn’t have gluten free all purpose flour to hand and since different flours can be quite different in weight I had to do some rough estimations.  The bread turned out just fine but I would say if you have gluten free all purpose flour then maybe check the original recipe and sub that.  Experiment and see how yours turns out.  I’d love to know.  I also played around with the amount of sugar and butter reducing both as I don’t like my cakes too sweet and upping the banana content.  I ended up with lovely moist bread.

Adapted from Joy the Baker
Makes 1 9x5 inch loaf
100g (4oz) unsalted butter melted and browned
175g (6oz) brown rice flour
50g (2oz) cornflour
50g (2oz) unrefined golden caster sugar
1 tsp gluten free baking powder
½ tsp bicarbonate of soda
¾ tsp cinnamon
2 eggs
1 tsp vanilla extract
¼ cup natural yoghurt
4 ripe bananas mashed
½ cup diced strawberries plus extra for slicing on top.
Preheat the oven to gas mark 4, 180°C, 350°F.
Prepare a 9 x 5 inch loaf tin.
Place the butter in a small pan and heat gently.  Once the butter has melted it will begin to foam and crackle.  As the crackling subsides the butter will begin to brown.  When it starts to smell nutty it should be ready.  Swirl it round the pan to keep it from burning.  Remove to a bowl and leave to cool.
In a large bowl combine the flours, sugar, baking powder, bicarbonate of soda and cinnamon.  In a separate bowl combine the eggs, vanilla extract, yoghurt, mashed bananas and brown butter.  Add the wet ingredients to the dry ingredients and mix well ensuring the flour is fully mixed in.  Fold in the diced strawberries and transfer to a loaf tin.  Add the sliced strawberries to the top and bake for 1 – 1 ½ hours until a skewer inserted in to the centre of the loaf comes out clean.  Leave the bread in the tin for 15 minutes before turning it out onto a wire rack to fully cool.

Maple Syrup Roasted Strawberries

Wednesday, 13 June 2012

As promised in my last post, strawberries!  It has been a strawberry extravaganza around here lately.  Nothing says summer in the UK like strawberries, even if the weather is currently disagreeing with me.  With Wimbledon only a couple of weeks away strawberries are very much making their presence known in the shops and markets.  Although they are not my favourite summer berry (raspberries win hands down), I’m finding new ways to work with strawberries all the time.  I love how roasting strawberries gives the fruit a deeper flavour, especially when combined with maple syrup and balsamic vinegar.  They are a fantastic combo.  I’ve used these roasted strawberries on top of pancakes, with natural yoghurt and here, on top of my favourite breakfast rice porridge.  Comforting and just a bit decadent.  I can see them working well with rice pudding, vanilla ice cream, cream teas, on toast...I’ll stop now. 

Recipe slightly adapted from Super Natural Every Day by Heidi Swanson.
225g (8oz) strawberries, hulled and cut in half
2 tablespoons maple syrup
1 tablespoon extra virgin olive oil
A few drops of balsamic vinegar
Preheat the oven to Gas Mark 4, 180°C, 350°F
Line a large baking tray with parchment paper.  Ensure you are using a baking tray with a rimmed edge.  Place your strawberries in a mixing bowl.  In a separate bowl mix together the maple syrup and olive oil.  Pour the mixture over the strawberries and gently combine until the strawberries are coated.  Lay the strawberries in a single layer on the baking tray.
Roast in the oven for 40 minutes.  The juices should thicken but not burn.  Remove from the oven and while still warm scrape the strawberries and juices in to a small bowl.  Stir in a few drops of balsamic vinegar.  Apparently they will keep in the fridge for up to a week but they’ve never hung around long enough for me to find out.


Friday, 8 June 2012

Thanks to the long Diamond Jubilee weekend I decided to take a couple of extra days off work and make the most of the week.  Things got off to a great start with a visit to friends in Cambridge, one of the many cities I have lived in and one I have a great affection for.  Here are a few pics I snapped on my iphone!

No mention of Cambridge would be complete without...
It rained and rained and rained so sadly I couldn’t do the colleges justice. We had many breaks for coffee to keep dry and warm up. 
We visited Kettle's Yard House, the former home of Jim and Helen Ede.  I adore this house.  The space is amazing and contains their unique art collections.  Even though the sky was dark with rain clouds, the sense of light in this house is beautiful.

Back at home and the weather didn’t really improve.  These cows knew what was coming...
Pretty water lilies, not quite Monet...
Almond Butter Banana Sandwiches in mid prep on homemade Gluten Free Bread. 
We got a bumper lot of strawberries thanks to a Diamond Jubilee supermarket offer...
Brown Butter Strawberry Banana Bread adapted from Joy the Baker...expect this and more strawberry recipes in the near future!
I am now on instagram (slightly addicted), you can see/follow my gallery here. 

Gluten Free Flatbreads

Tuesday, 5 June 2012

Flatbreads are my new favourite thing to eat.  These flatbreads are quite simply genius.  They are so quick and easy to make.  They consist of just a handful of ingredients, are quick to cook and extremely versatile.  So far we’ve had these flatbreads with hummus, a chickpea and onion dip with spinach (pictured), egg and avocado and I’ve even turned them in to pizza! (but more of that another time).  They would also go really well with a curry.  You can add whatever flavours you like.  I’ve used cumin seeds, rosemary or just left them plain.  I think raisins would work, as would sundried tomatoes chopped up.  Experiment!  The dough is quite wet but don’t be deterred by that, it’s what makes them work so well and stops them becoming too dry.  They crisp up perfectly under the grill.

You can find the recipe here from BBC Good Food.  I halved the recipe to make four flatbreads rather than eight and it worked out perfectly.