Friday, 18 April 2014

Munchcake review

If you take a wander down the supermarkets aisles to their free from range and hunt out a cake for tea or heaven forbid a special occasion you’re bound to be disappointed. If you’re lucky there will be a tiny 6inch by 2inch dry cake costing roughly the same as a large huge lush full of gluten cake the next aisle across. Thank heavens then for MunchCake.
Understanding exactly what it means to be a coeliac (their young son is a second generation coeliac) they’ve created award winning gluten free (and some dairy free too) tray bakes full of flavour and texture.  With 4 awards under their belt already I couldn’t wait for more delivery to arrive. They are freshly baked to order so do allow 48 hours for the courier delivery and they arrive perfectly encased. With offerings from a gluten and dairy free banana and cocoa tray bake through (inc raspberry & white choc) to double chocolate cake there is a tray bake for every ones taste. I was lucky enough to receive Carrot Cake. I and my youngest son could quite happily eat, and on occasions did, carrot cake for breakfast lunch and dinner until I became a coeliac.



It arrived well packaged. A little squashed on top but the courier did apologise for that and said it was entirely his fault. A tiny bit of the icing was damaged but hardly anything to signify. When we took the layers of packaging off it looked fantastic. Both boys immediately demanded a piece as did my mum and grandma! And gosh was it moist!! And delicious. I think the awards might just do it justice and I strongly suspect they’ll be winning an awful lot more soon. It really was the best Carrot Cake I’ve ever eaten and the fact that it was gluten free was just the icing on the cake (excuse the pun) As you can see from the photos its spongy, moist and had a lovely amount of delicious cream cheese icing on top.
They RRP at £20.99 delivered and the tray bake is large enough for 12 generous portions or 24 mini bits. In all fairness I think the mini bits are just perfect. Thankfully the cakes can be frozen in case you can’t work your way through (but personally I’d give it a good try) I originally thought at the price ahh I’d make it myself for that price but having tasted this and having been baking cakes of both variety’s for years they aren’t overpriced. They are melt in the mouth, eat nothing all day, SCRUMMY!



To find out more about Munchcake and view their other offerings, click here.

Monday, 7 April 2014

Great North Gluten-Free Fair

If you’re live anywhere near Newcastle readers this one is for you. If you do go do let us know how you got on please.


Following the success of the inaugural Great North Gluten-Free Fair in 2013, the event will return to The Castle Gate in Newcastle city centre for a second year on 26th April.
Organised by TASTECLUB, which supports the people who make, serve and sell Great North food and drink, the event proves that gluten-free needn’t mean taste-free, with a variety of delicious gluten-free food and drink on offer from some of the best local and national producers.
Newburn Bakehouse by Warburtons is once again the headline sponsor of the Fair and will be showcasing its award-winning range of free-from products, which are produced in a dedicated gluten- and wheat-free bakery in Newburn. 
“This year will be bigger and better with over 40 producers, a gluten-free café on-site, support from Coeliac UK, the leading charity working for people with coeliac disease, and Newburn Bakehouse by Warburtons returning as event sponsor. We’re expecting even more visitors.”
The Great North Gluten-Free Fair will run from 10am to 4pm. Advance tickets are available online atwww.tasteclubhq.com/gluten-free-fair and cost £2.50 per person, £5 for a family of two adults and two children, or £8 for a group of four adults. Entry will cost £3 per person on the door or £2 after 1.30pm.
All attendees will receive a free Gluten-Free Guide, which will contain information about buying and eating gluten-free food and drink in the region.
More details and updates can be found at facebook.com/GreatNorthGlutenFreeFair andfacebook.com/NewburnBakehouse.com.
  

Thursday, 27 March 2014

A fabulous new app & a goody box up for grabs!


 

Very recently we got stuck in traffic for a couple of hours a long way from home and lunch time rolled round and went past. We headed into the nearest town and needless to say I ended up munching on a packet of crisps while the boys all had a cooked dinner. Why? No one in the town knew where you could get a gluten free meal. So when I was asked to download GlutenfreeroadsApp – which by the way is free to download and use – I willingly agreed. Powered by DS & Glutafin Glutenfree roads is available for android and iOS phones.  It feature’s over 40,000 supermarkets who stock gluten free, restaurants and hotels all worldwide. You can then map your and view the nearest GF places with their sophisticated GPS locator. If you want more information like ratings etc it is free again to register and gain access to these and more functions.  I’ve used it out and about to find the nearest place to buy gluten free munchies and also have used it to work out our route. We registered as I found it far easier to view places based on the reviews of others!  You can also if you find some where not mentioned add it to the network! As to the Pizza point section? Well....

“DS PIZZAPOINT AND BONTÁ D’ITALIA NETWORK
Gain access to the DS PizzaPoint and Bontà d’Italia partner network. Every DS PizzaPoint and Bontà d’Italia partner is carefully selected, trained and supplied with special gluten-free products by the DS or Schär brands. These pizzerias and restaurants are contractually obliged to guarantee maximum safety and quality”

 
I can whole heartedly recommend it to download now after you regardless of planning you just never know what might happen and when you might need it! 5 Stars from me.


Also the lovely people at DS are offering our UK readers a chance to win a lovely goody box from them. Enter the rafflecopter below and good luck!


a Rafflecopter giveaway

Wednesday, 26 March 2014

Gluten Free Simnel Cake



As it’s nearly Mothering Sunday here I thought I would share with you Doves recipe which I use every year for Simnel Cake. Simnel cakes have been known since at least the medieval times. They are traditionally eaten on the middle Sunday of Lent ie Mothering Sunday the forty day fast would be relaxed. More recently, they became a Mothering Sunday tradition, when young girls who were in service would make one to be taken home to their mothers on their day off. Have you a traditional recipe you always use?


Ingredients

300 g Ground Almonds
300 g Icing Sugar
2 Lemons Rind & Juice
1 Eating Apple
125 g Sunflower Oil
150 g Brown Sugar
75 ml Water
½ tsp Grated Nutmeg
½ tsp Ground Cinnamon
1 tsp Xanthan Gum
1 tsp Baking Powder
175 g Gluten Free Plain Flour or Rice Flour
200 g Currants
100 g Mixed Glace Peel
1 tbsp Apricot Jam

Method

1. Mix together the almonds, sugar, lemon rind and lemon juice and form into two balls of dough. Cover and set these aside.
2. Grate the whole apple into a bowl and the sugar and oil then beat vigorously.
3. Add the water, nutmeg, cinnamon, xanthan gum and baking powder beating vigorously again.
4. Mix in the flour, currants and peel.
5. Press half the mixture into a greased and lined 20cm/8” round deep spring form tin.
6. Take one ball of the almond paste, roll or pat it into a 22cm/9” circle and place it on top of the cake mixture.
7. Spread the remaining cake mixture on top of the almond paste.
8. Bake in a pre-heated oven for 1¾/2 hours.
9. Allow the cake to cool then run a knife around the cake edges and turn it out from its tin.
10. Brush the top of the cold cake with the apricot jam.
11. Take the second ball of almond paste and break off enough to make 11 marble sized pieces.
12. Roll out the remaining almond dough into a circle 20cm/8” round using the spring form tin base as a guide.
13. Place the almond dough circle on top of the apricot jam.

14. Press the 11 balls of almond paste onto the top of the cake, moistening the base of each slightly if they do not stick.

Thursday, 20 March 2014

Lesley Water's Gluten & Dairy free course





Lesley Waters, former head tutor of Leiths and of course a household name from TV now runs a beautiful cookery school in Dorset. I headed off there recently to try out her gluten free cookery day. I’ve been on a couple before mainly run by people who are Gluten Free themselves so I was especially interested in Lesley’s day.  Her day was based using fresh local ingredients and creating great gluten free food out of this.

The day or “hands on course” started at half ten which allowed me coming from Surrey plenty of time to turn up and runs through with lunch included till half four. Abbots Hill (Lesley’s cookery school) is an incredibly beautiful and I was received with such a lovely warm welcome I could barely wait to get started. The layout was incredibly professional, we were all based around a large oak table and our ingredients were literally right at hand to be able to follow Lesley immediately and not have to listen with one ear and prepare our ingredients with the other. The kitchen was amazing and spotless! Not a sign of grease or a speck of dirt anywhere. There were numerous people on hand silently behind you to whisk away the dirty washing and offer assistant if and when you required it.
During the course of the day we made 3 lunches and 2 desserts and were shown a whole host of new skills and taught as well how to redo the basics. It was great to be taught how to do something as simple as chop and prepare veg but how you would in a professional kitchen. Easier. Cleaner and more effective. This was true as well of poaching an egg. A fairly simple task I can do with my eyes blindfolded but now after Lesley it turns out tasting and looking perfect every time. One thing I must say was when she was teaching us these techniques and cooking skills they were suited to each individual and to how you wanted your egg poached, how YOU liked your meat cook, not how Lesley liked it and that was really fabulous.
The only downside to the day was the bread not being a good copy for a fresh white gluten stuffed loaf. One day I will find this! However Lesley showed how to make it delicious. We were taught to toast it and with the poach egg on top it was worthy of any restaurant and just as tasty (imagine being able to whisk up a restaurant standard lunch in a matter of minutes at home!) The foods and recipes we were taught were quick and simple and yet amazing in taste and presentation. Lesley was incredibly generous with her portions which again was lovely to see and which my husband when he arrived early and was warmly brought in took great delight in (he was allowed to join in the lunch) In fact we all had huge amounts of doggy bags to take home and show off to our family. The Frangipane Apple Pie unfortunately did get eaten on the trip back as it was impossible to have it sitting there the whole way!


It fact the whole day has inspired me again in the kitchen. My love of food and cooking has returned and I find myself using the techniques I was taught in every meal preparation. I think it spoke volumes that I was the only one there who hadn’t been on a previous course! I am saving up to go on another course with her as the whole day was full of fun, learning and laughter which has continued onwards in my kitchen ever since. 

Wednesday, 12 March 2014

Genius Croissants & Pain Au Chocolats

As you can imagine I follow a few gluten free companies on my twitter line and I got very excited by Genius announcing that they had Croissants & Pain Au Chocolates on shop shelves. I immediately set off to try and track some down. It’s taken a while but after asking very sweetly my local supermarket has gone them in. The same week the review samples arrived!

Ever since having to go Gluten free it is pastry and its delights that I have missed the most. Bread I can take or leave but pastry…it’s been a huge struggle.  Immediately I received them I popped the oven (they recommend heating them before indulging) and drooled at the oven door while the 8 minutes dragged by. What did I think? Well the pain au chocolates were first and I think they are my favourites although I have found (with extensive research of course) that you have to be careful on the time and heat. I don’t like them too crispy and I find that they can turn from being perfect quite quickly. But when they’re right they are worth it. The chocolate to me is perfect being dark and slightly bitter. It counteracts the sweetness of the pastry perfectly and yes they are a fabulous substitute to the real thing. Just imagine fresh orange juice and a coffee in the sunshine. In fact I have some in the cupboard and further have stocked up my freezer downstairs with them just in case the shop runs out one day!
As to the croissants, they weren’t as light and flaky as perhaps I personally would like but once heated and cut open with proper butter and jam inside they are pretty good! My husband tried them alongside the supermarkets none gluten free croissants and in a blind taste test couldn’t tell the difference which I think 
speaks for itself.


You can purchase these I know from hunting around at certain Tesco’s & Asda and they retail for £2.75 for two croissants or pain au chocolates (being greedy I would like to see 3 in a pack) and I must admit I personally preferred the pain au chocolates. I’m open to suggestion for fillings for croissants. Cheese, jam…what’s your favourite? 
Written by: Lucinda B

Friday, 7 March 2014

Teapigs Matcha Green Tea

I had never heard of matcha before, and had to Google it to see what it was! Turns out it’s green tea leaves ground to a fine powder - so no tea bags, no additives, no fancy stuff, just green tea. Because it’s just pure ground leaves, it apparently has 15 times the health benefits of regular green tea. It also has 6 times more antioxidants than goji berries, and 70 times more than orange juice. That wasn’t a typo; it really does have seventy times the antioxidants. There’s also a high level of the amino acid L-theanine which is apparently good for boosting your energy whilst also keeping you calm and focused. And as if all that weren’t enough, it’s also known to help boost the metabolism and burn fat.

I’ve given up drinking coffee recently, and then decided to give up drinking Coke for Lent. Being the single parent of a toddler, I’ve relied (heavily!) on caffeine to get me through many a day over the last two years. This is the ultimate challenge for green tea - can it replace the caffeine kick?

Apparently Japanese students often use matcha to help them with studying, and Buddhist monks use it to help them focus when meditating. I have to say, I can see why. I started making myself a mug of green tea instead of coffee in the mornings a week or so ago, and I honestly believe it’s this that has helped me to suddenly stop drinking my daily cans of Coke. I have found that I have more energy, but not that sort of “hit” that you get from a sugary, caffeine-laden drink that often has you tapping your feet. I feel more awake generally on days when I drink matcha.

Because it’s a powder, it does settle in the cup. You need to mix it thoroughly, and if you leave it sitting for too long, it will settle at the bottom, which is not very appetising. That’s to be expected though; after all, if you make a “normal” cup of tea, you’re taking the tea leaves out and throwing them in the bin. The whole point of matcha is that you’re having the whole leaf.

On the whole, I’m really enjoying the green tea experience, and will definitely buy this product again!

Written by: Vicky Charles, Wiltshire