Goats Cheese Toastie

Sunday, 30 September 2012

Things I will miss about summer... cheese toasties with fresh tomatoes and avocado.  I’m thinking about a winter version with cheese, onion and kale.  If you are anything like my husband you will pull a face at this suggestion.  In the mean time, fresh tomatoes while we still can...
Makes one toasted sandwich.
2 slices gluten free bread, slightly stale is best.
Hard goat cheese or cheese of your choice, sliced
Tomatoes, thinly sliced
Avocado, thinly sliced
Heat a skillet or frying pan.  Butter the bread and lay one slice, butter side down in the hot pan.  Start to compile your sandwich by adding first the cheese followed by the tomatoes.  Top with the other slice of bread, butter side up.  You could put something heavy like a pan lid on top to help the cheese melt and the sandwich stay together.  Keep on a low heat. When the bottom side is nice and toasted flip the sandwich over and cook the top side.  Once the second side is toasted and the cheese is melted remove to a plate.  Pull apart and add avocado.  Reassemble and eat.

African Beef and Peanut Stew

Thursday, 27 September 2012

I have to admit to myself that autumn is here when I start making stew at weekends.  This one has been our favourite for the last couple of weeks ever since I saw it posted over at the Kitchn. I knew that I would have to try it.  This stew will definitely be seeing us through winter.  I get a bit addicted like that.  The meat is melt in your mouth tender, the spices are warming and peanut butter adds richness plus, its peanut butter so what could go wrong.  I throw extra veg in to my version just because I like lots of veg in my stews.  I also used stock for extra flavour.  That’s one of my favourite things about a good stew, you can make it what you want.
Adapted from The Kitchn
Serves 2
½ tablespoon oil
2 beef or lamb steaks cut in to chunks
1 onion, chopped
1 garlic clove, minced
½ tablespoon fresh ginger, minced
2 carrots, chopped
1 fennel bulb, chopped
500ml gluten free chicken or vegetable stock
1 teaspoon tomato puree
½ teaspoon ground coriander
½ teaspoon cumin
¼ teaspoon nutmeg (optional)
Pinch of chilli flakes or cayenne pepper
1 tablespoon natural chunky peanut butter
Kale, shredded (as much as you want)
Salt and pepper to taste
Pour a little oil in to a casserole dish and place over a medium heat.  Once the pan is hot add the beef or lamb.  Cook until browned on the outside.  Next add the onion and continue to sauté until softened.  Add the carrots, fennel, ginger and garlic.  Continue to cook on a low to medium heat for a further 2-3 minutes.  Mix in the tomato puree and spices, continue cooking for another minute and then add the stock.  Bring to the boil, then cover and simmer for about two hours.  At this point the meat will be very tender.  Now stir in the peanut butter.  Cover and continue to simmer for another 45 – 60 minutes.  You will need to keep an eye on the stew as the peanut butter can make it stick.  When you have 5 minutes cooking time left, mix in the kale.  We like it with brown rice.

Gluten Free Damson Crumble Bars

Saturday, 22 September 2012

The story of these bars began when my neighbour knocked on my door with a big bag of damsons from the tree in her garden.  I love a challenge like this, what to make?  Thoughts jumped from jam, to a crumble, made a weird detour to ponder a smoothie then sense prevailed (too sour) and I settled upon these crumble bars I had seen earlier in the week on the lovely blog Sweet Amandine.  I had to adapt the recipe to make them gluten free.  This is always a bit of a challenge, especially when a recipe is given in cups rather than by weight.  You could substitute cup for cup if you have an all purpose gluten free flour but I didn’t so I set about approximating the correct weights.  I decided to throw some gluten free oats in as part of my substitution for the flour to give the bars more texture.  It worked like a dream.  These bars are buttery, sweet and crumbly.  The rather sour damsons are transformed when baked in the oven.  I was happy to be able to present my neighbour with a few of these bars to thank her for the damsons.
Recipe adapted from Sweet Amandine
200g (7oz) brown rice flour
50g (2oz) tapioca flour
50g (2oz) gluten free oats
150g brown sugar
1 tablespoon ground ginger
¼ teaspoon cinnamon
1 teaspoon baking powder
¼ teaspoon salt
225g (8oz) cold unsalted butter, cubed.
1 large egg
10-15 damsons or 5 or so plums
Sugar to sprinkle on top
Preheat the oven to Gas Mark 5, 190°C, 375°F
Grease a 9x13 inch pan with butter.
First off cutting up the damsons.  Unlike plums it is very hard to get the stone out neatly so I basically cut down straight either side of the stone which meant I did lose a bit of damson.
In a medium bowl mix together the flour, oats, sugar, ground ginger, cinnamon, baking powder and salt.  Next add the egg then the butter.  Work this in to the dry ingredients with your hands.  This will form a crumbly, lumpy dough.  Set aside about a cup of the dough.  Place the rest in your baking pan and press it down and out to the edges with your hands.  Lay the damson slices across the top.  Scatter the reserved cup of dough across the top then sprinkle with sugar.
Bake for 45-50 minutes until golden on top.  Leave to cool then slice in to squares.

Lately with my Iphone and Instagram Changing Seasons...

Wednesday, 19 September 2012

The last few weeks have been all about enjoying the end of summer and looking forward to autumn.  I am loving the clear, crisp days.  As much as I hate to say goodbye to summer fruits like peaches, nectarines and strawberries I also welcome the arrival of blackberries, plums and pears.  I’ve been coming home from the market with bags of victoria plums. So sweet and juicy.
We’ve been out most weekends picking blackberries.  There’s a wasp casually sitting on the edge of the table waiting to pounce on the blackberries...
My neighbour gave me damsons from her tree!  These lovely little fruit look like baby plums.
They are a bit too sour to eat raw but are transformed when cooked.  They were perfect in these crumble bars which I adapted to gluten free from this recipe.  I’ll post it soon.
Autumn leaves and shadows outside work.
Reflections in the early evening light on my way home from the station.
The obligatory Sunday morning coffee fix.  The waitress now knows our order by heart, I guess I’m in a coffee rut but at least I’m not alone.
I actually went out and ate in a restaurant, a rare event these days.  Gluten Free Pizza at Bruschetta...it is amazing.  If you are visiting London I recommend you take a trip out to Kingston upon Thames and try this restaurant. Cross contamination is not an issue as these pizzas are prepared separately and cooked in their own pizza oven.  I dived in before I thought to take a photo because basically, I’m greedy.  Mozzarella, aubergine and ricotta for me.  Mozzarella, Italian sausage and chilli for him.  The base was thin and crisp and so light. Everyone in our group tried some and thought it was better than the regular pizzas so there you go!
I couldn’t skip desert either!  Gluten free tiramisu and cheesecake (we switched half way through).  Again I failed you on the photo front but here are the remnants of what was a truly delicious cheesecake with berry compote.  So good.  Next time proper photos, hopefully!

Throw it all in Granola

Wednesday, 12 September 2012

Lately I’ve been in a granola rut, if such a state exists.  I made the same old granola every couple of weeks.  I didn’t really have a problem with this but I was clearing out my seeds, nuts and dried fruits drawer (yes I have one of those) and thought I’d use up some of the half eaten packs.  The result was not only delicious but helped me to realise that granola really can be exactly what you want to make it.  Toasted nuts, seeds and dried fruits will always taste fantastic and you can use whatever you have to hand.  Don’t have maple syrup? Use honey instead.  I generally use coconut oil but that can be expensive so here olive oil worked just fine.  I use gluten free oats as a base but other grains might work too. Experiment! My husband devours granola daily so a jar like this generally only lasts a week or two.  It also makes a great trail mix.  Once you start making your own granola you realise, firstly, how much better it is than the packets you buy in the supermarket and secondly, how easy it is to do.  Five minutes to throw it all in a bowl and 25 to 30 minutes in the oven and you have crunchy, nutty and sweet granola goodness.
150g (5oz) gluten free oats
50g (2oz) sliced almonds
50g (2oz) pistachios
25g (1oz) sunflower seeds
25g (1oz) coconut flakes
Handful of dried cranberries
1 ½ tbsp olive oil
1 tbsp maple syrup
1 tsp brown sugar
Preheat oven to Gas Mark 5, 190°C, 375°F.  In a large bowl combine all the ingredients apart from your dried fruit.  Add the oil, syrup and sugar last.  Mix well and spread evenly across a baking tray.  Bake in the oven removing every ten minutes to toss granola ensuring all sides are evenly toasted.  Bake until golden brown (about 25 to 30 minutes).  Remove from the oven and add your dried fruit.  Let it sit on the hot tray until cool then transfer to an air tight container.

Aubergine, Courgette and Tomato Gluten Free Flatbread Pizza

Sunday, 9 September 2012

Ever since I discovered the wonder that is this gluten free flatbread recipe and started making pizzas with it, I have been busily experimenting with different toppings.  I thought I’d share my current favourite with you and hammer home just how amazing these pizzas are in case you forgot to try them.  This has become a bit of a Friday night after work treat.  They come together pretty quickly, perfect when you have struggled your way through Friday commuters and weekenders.  Trains seem extra slow, people have bulky bags, seats are scarce and isles are full.  Thank goodness there is pizza at the end of this!
To make these pizzas follow the original recipe here.  As I’ve had more practice making these I’d recommend flattening out the dough on a piece of floured baking parchment.  It makes it easier to lift the flatbread on to the baking tray.  Also flour the baking tray too (as above).  Again this stops the flatbreads sticking.  For the aubergine and courgette topping I simply chop them up in to small, fairly thin chunks then roast these in the oven (gas mark 7, 220°C, 425°F) in a little olive oil for about 10 - 15 minutes.  You don’t want them too well done as they will brown off under the grill once you have scattered them across the top of your pizza.  Add them to the top of the pizza when you add the tomatoes and then top with mozzarella.  Garnish with fresh basil.

Gluten Free Birthday Brownies

Wednesday, 5 September 2012

Birthdays have been happening around here.  I made brownies.  They are rich and dark with a crunch to the bite that yields to a fudgy, nutty decadence.  Just what birthdays should be all about, and presents of course, don’t forget those.  
Recipe slightly adapted from Healthy Gluten-Free Eating by Darina Allen and Rosemary Kearney
Makes about 16 squares. 
100g (4oz) 70% cocoa solids dark chocolate (make sure it’s gluten free).
100g (4oz) unsalted butter
100g (4oz) unrefined golden caster sugar (I used Demerara as that is all I had)
2 eggs, whisked together
½ teaspoon vanilla extract
75g (3oz) ground almonds
½ teaspoon gluten free baking powder
Pinch of salt
100g (4oz) chopped walnuts
25g (1oz) cacao nibs (optional)
20cm (8inch) square baking tin lined with parchment
Preheat the oven to Gas mark 4, 180°C, 350°F
Melt the chocolate in a heatproof bowl over a pan of simmering water.  In a mixing bowl cream together the sugar and butter until soft and light.  Next beat in the eggs, vanilla extract and melted chocolate.  Add the ground almonds, baking powder, salt, walnuts and cacao nibs if using and combine.  Pour the mixture in to your prepared baking tin and spread across to the edges.  Bake in the oven for 30-35 minutes.  Leave to cool before cutting in to squares.

Smoothie Time

Sunday, 2 September 2012

We’ve gone a little smoothie crazy in this house.  I’ve been having fun experimenting with different flavours and throwing in some pretty interesting ingredients.  Here are our current favourites...
Basic recipe, makes one large smoothie
200ml almond milk or milk of your choice. (If you are using unsweetened you might want to add some honey to your smoothie to taste). 
Handful of kale, stems removed and finely chopped (you could try spinach instead)
½ - 1teaspoon Spirulina (optional)
1 frozen banana (peel banana, chop in to chunks and freeze on a plate in your freezer for two hours)
1 tablespoon natural yoghurt
100g fruit.  I used frozen blackberries or fresh blueberries.
In a blender or food processor place the almond milk and kale.  Blend until well combined and no chunks of kale remain.  Add the other ingredients one by one until you have a delicious smooth texture.  You can adjust things according to your taste and desired consistency.  I like a fairly thick smoothie. 
Drink and feel like the healthiest person alive!