River Cottage Gluten Free - Book review

Friday, 5 February 2016
I got my hands on the new River Cottage gluten free cook book by Naomi Devlin this week. This book is very comprehensive, with a large chapter titled "Going Gluten Free' which covers everything from the evolution of wheat to what to stock in your kitchen. Next follows chapters on Breakfast, Bread, Pastry, Snacks, Salads and Soups, Simple Meals, Pudding and Teatime... phew!

It is beautiful to read, with easy to follow recipes and very pretty photography. This book would make a great gift for someone who has just embarked on a gluten free diet, but would also be great for someone who has been gluten free for a while but would like to bake more at home and perhaps cut out some of the weird additives store bought gluten free food tends to be made with. It features some very interesting info on making gluten free sour dough and how to make your own gluten free sour dough starter at home too.

The recipes are very natural and healthy, focusing on wholefoods, with plenty of variation and some exciting new ideas too. Almond Breakfast Risotto anyone? You could eat your way through this book from end to end and treat yourself to some lovely breakfasts, lunches, dinners and gluten free bread. There really is years and years of research and experience in this book.

Whether you are looking to improve your gluten free cooking, get into baking, or buying a book for a newly diagnosed friend, then this is the book for you. It is currently only £7.99 on Amazon, for a lovely hardback book you will use again and again. No crazy long lists of strange ingredients, just down to earth delicious gluten free recipes.

Take a peek at this bakewell tart recipe taken from the book:

Blackberry bakewell tart
Serves 6

Cooking blackberries takes me back to my childhood and foraging along the hedgerows. Here, a jammy blackberry compote complements frangipane beautifully. For a summer version, use raspberries to fill, and replace the vanilla in the frangipane with lemon zest.

Butter for greasing
½ quantity sweet shortcrust pastry (see page 128) or sweet almond pastry (see page 130), chilled
Tapioca or potato starch for dusting
1 egg, beaten, for brushing

For the fruit filling
250g blackberries
Grated zest of 1 unwaxed lemon
40g light muscovado sugar, to taste
2 tsp cornflour, blended to a paste with 1 tbsp. water

For the frangipane
100g ground almonds
40g potato starch (or an extra 25g ground almonds)
1 tsp gluten free baking powder
100g salted butter, softened
100g light muscovado sugar
1 tsp vanilla extract
2 large eggs

For the topping
20g flaked almonds

23cm loose-bottomed flan tin

Preheat the oven to 200°C/Fan 180°C/Gas 6 if using shortcrust, or 180°C/Fan 160°C/ Gas 4 for almond pastry. Butter the sides of the flan tin; line the base with parchment.

To make the fruit filling, put the blackberries, lemon zest and sugar into a small pan and cook until the juices have run and started to reduce a little, 10 minutes or so. Add the cornflour paste and cook, stirring, until thickened. Set aside to cool.

Roll out the pastry between two sheets of cling film dusted with tapioca or potato starch and use to line the flan tin (as for the tart on page 122). Prick the base with a fork. Trim off the excess pastry. Line the pastry case with parchment and baking beans. Bake ‘blind’ for 10 minutes, then take out the parchment and beans. Brush the pastry case generously with beaten egg and bake for a further 5 minutes until golden and cooked through. Let cool. Lower the oven setting to 180°C/Fan 160°C/Gas 4, if necessary.

To make the frangipane, sift the ground almonds, potato starch, if using, and baking
powder into a bowl. Add the remaining ingredients and beat well until smooth and fluffy.

Spoon the fruit filling into the pastry case, spoon the frangipane on top and level the surface. Sprinkle with flaked almonds and bake for 50 minutes, or until the frangipane is cooked. To test, insert a skewer into the frangipane layer: if it comes out with no wet crumbs clinging, it’s done. Serve warm or at room temperature, with cream if you like.

River Cottage Gluten Free by Naomi Devlin
Photography © Laura Edwards

Something Really New from Greece (+ Gluten Free Madeleines!) - Gea Bakery

Sunday, 17 January 2016

I sometimes get a bit worried about the rather unnatural looking ingredients in the gluten free bread I get at the supermarket. If this is meant to be my healthy choice, why is it so high in fat and sugar, and sometimes have some strange sounding additives? I think sometimes these additives are responsible for a bit of an aftertaste.

I prefer my gluten free food to not only be gluten free, but also be natural and healthy. So I was really pleased to try some of the new products on offer from Gea Bakery over in Greece. All their products are pretty exciting as no chemical preservatives are used, they are just baked with fresh natural ingredients and packed and shipped right away. The products are well packed, in a protective atmosphere, to help them stay fresh. Here is what they say:
Gea bakery products are made with pure natural ingredients without addition of any chemical preservatives. At Gea Bakery we believe that earth’s (gea) pure ingredients of Mediterranean diet used in the right recipes suffice to provide us with healthy tasty food. That’s why our products maintain their structure and taste as real fresh bread without the need to keep them in refrigeration once the pack is opened. You can enjoy the full pure taste of Gea bakery products with no after-taste as there are no preservatives. In our belief this is how nutrition should be.

The bread is more Mediterranean in style that what we are used to over here in the uk, the breads are denser and have a slight sesame flavour which I like but took a moment to get used to. This isn't English style white sliced bread, it's more like the sort of thing you would use to make bruchetta or serve with soup. I have not tried the 'Sandwich Bread' though, which looks to be a bit different to the bread loaves I tried. But if you are keen on keeping your gluten free diet as natural as possible I would give the bread a try.

There are some nice Mediterranean products available in their selection too, including some interesting sesame and wine biscuits and also some very, very nice lemon Madeleines. These are perfect, slightly lemony, and I could eat packets of them. I topped a few with a lovely dolop of creme fraiche and they were heavenly.

You can order from Gea Bakery online, and they are doing a great offer where you can get the first five products in your basket for FREE! You still need to pay shipping, which to the uk is going to be about £15 for a small parcel. You can add some extra things to your basket though and get free shipping. Details of the offer are here.

I'm really pleased that there are companies out there that care deeply about the actual ingredients that go into their gluten free products, rather than just trying to fake a white sliced bread with a load of additives and chemicals. I hope that Gea Bakery can get some of their products into our stores in the UK, especially the amazing Madeleines!

Chippa Gluten Free, Egg Free and Dairy Free Sauces

Saturday, 16 January 2016

It's been a few years since I have had any brown sauce, I think it's perfect with BBQ sausages, and even better in a bacon buttie (with mushrooms please), but it tends not to be gluten free. So I was super pleased to come across Chippa Gluten Free Brown Sauce, but slightly confused by the packaging.

On the front it states it is Gluten Free, but on the back highlights Malt Vinegar (Barley) in the ingredients. So I dropped them an an email and they kindly let me know that:

"Our product claim as “Gluten Free” because we have registered as Coeliac Society of UK/Ireland and the product has proved that Gluten content is <20ppm which satisfy the requirement of claiming gluten free as per Coeliac Society of UK/Ireland"

Which is great news! So I dived in and stuck it in my next bacon buttie, mmmmmmmm lovely. I don't have any reaction to this brown sauce, and I am super sensative.

British brand Chippa’s seven delicious sauces bring flavour and variety if you are looking for a free-from solution that doesn’t compromise on taste. Available in: May-O, Tomato Sauce, Brown Sauce the range is simply perfect for brilliant British fayre, burgers, fish, chips or salads. I think the packaging is super cute too, looks kinda retro.

Chippa’s condiments range are free from dairy, egg and gluten, yep that means egg free mayo, and are available in Sainsbury’s from £1.29. Find out more at www.ilovechippa.com

BFree Stone Baked Pitta Breads + Quinoa & Chia Seed Wraps

Friday, 15 January 2016

Have you had much luck with gluten free pitta bread? I have not, they often don't make a proper pocket, they stick together, and sometimes if do managed to stuff them the wet filling makes them go a bit funny. I therefore tend to only eat them toasted and dipped in stuff, rather than filled. As for wraps? Well they are either quite thick (not good if you want to eate more than one fajita!), or crack when you roll them, and make a flippin mess.

But Irelands much loved bakery brand, BFree, has come to the rescue with the launch of two new delicious products, Stone Baked Pitta Breads and Quinoa & Chia Seed Wraps. I really like BFree Products, they are much lower fat that some other gluten free bread products, and the new pitta breads are AMAZING! Before I even warmed them up they were soft, and with a proper pocket. You can stuff these without even heating them up.

Stoned baked to perfection and made the traditional way. Each pitta is baked on a piping hot stone, which gives them an authentic and delicious flavour and texture, just like a regular pitta, only free from soy, dairy, wheat, nut and egg. These tasty pittas are low in calories, vegan friendly, contain no added sugar and are high in fibre, oh and they taste really good too.

Those looking for an added protein boost during the day will find the Quinoa & Chia Seed Wraps the ultimate addition to lunch or even as a nutritious and tasty pizza base. Made with superfoods; Quinoa, Chia, Teff and Flaxseeds to help you slowly release energy throughout the day. At only 105 calories a wrap, these lovely, thin, yet flexible wraps are really great.

BFree Stone Baked Pitta Breads come in packs of 4 with a RRP of £2.25. The Quinoa & Chia Seed Wraps have an RRP of £3.25, both are available at Asda nationwide. BFree products are also stocked in Tesco and Ocado, with a full list of stockists available on the BFree website.

For more information, meal ideas or recipes please visit www.Bfreefoods.com or find them on Facebook or Twitter @BFreeFoods.

Beetroot Ketchup from The Foraging Fox

Monday, 12 October 2015

I don't really like normall tomato ketchup, it's too sweet and vinegary and I'm not sure what they do to the tomatoes but I can't really taste them afetr all that processing. But I have descovered that I do like The Foraging Fox Beetroot Ketchup, it's super duper pink, not too sweet and does still taste of beetroot. No taste of earthy old beetroots though, just that lovely sweet root veg flavour you get from little baby beetroots.

I have tested it on a few things, and found that it goes with the same sort of friends as beetroot normally likes; sweet potatoes, butternut squash, pork, sausages, goats cheese. I also did some homemade burgers, and topped them with feta and the beetroot ketchup and they were different and tasty.

It's also great with smoked salmon, just mix it up with some crème fraiche, or put a dolop in your potato salad and watch eveything go a yummy pink colour! The colour looks nice on your plate and gets people trying and tasting.

The ingredients in this ketchup are super simple, with no nasties, and of course gluten free. I don't feel this is one of those faddy trendy foods that will fade out, I really think it's a very nice ketchup with many uses in the kitchen, so if you spot a bottle do pick it up. The serving suggestsions section of their website has some great ideas, just reading it now it mentions that it is great with steak and I think it would be, especially with some sweet potatoes wedges crumbled with goats cheese on the side and a nice watercress salad.

You can buy it online of you shop with Ocado, off the shelf in Wholefoods and Selfridges or do a search for a stockist on their website. It is priced £3.49 from Ocado, and gets some great reviews there too.
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