New Year Granola

Saturday, 31 December 2011

This time of year I can’t help getting a bit contemplative...a fresh year full of new possibilities and adventures.  I know I’m pretty excited and have started making plans, things I want to achieve, changes I want to make... I don’t always write them down, there’s no list as I’d probably lose it within five seconds but I like to feel I have a few goals in sight, if nothing else it gets me through the winter months.  So this granola, like the New Year, can be what you want to make it.  You need oats as your base, a wholesome starting point but then you can start building your own combination, nuts, coconut, dried fruit, whatever flavours work for you.  You can make your own granola adventure.  I attacked this granola like I go about many things in life.  I got it out of the oven and barely let it cool before I started eating handfuls from the tray...impatient for things to begin... Happy 2012!
Makes enough for about 6 servings, easily doubled.  Great with milk or natural yoghurt.  I used rice milk here.
150g certified gluten free rolled oats
50g nuts (I used mainly pecans and a few brazil nuts)
25g desiccated coconut
25g coconut flakes
50g dried fruit (I used cranberries and sultanas)
1 tablespoon maple syrup (honey or agave would also work)
1 ½ tablespoons coconut oil melted
1 teaspoon brown sugar
Preheat oven to gas mark 4 180°C/350°F
In a large bowl mix together the dry ingredients (apart from the cranberries and sultanas) then add the coconut oil, maple syrup and brown sugar and combine.  Spread the mixture across a shallow baking tray.  Bake in the oven for 25 to 30 minutes.  Every ten minutes stir the granola so that everything is evenly baked.  Once the granola is golden, remove from the oven and add the cranberries and sultanas to the tray.  Leave to cool and transfer to an airtight container.  It will keep for up to two weeks.

Brussels Sprouts 101

Friday, 23 December 2011

Brussels sprouts, one of those Christmas traditions that not everyone appreciates.  I’ve eaten my fair share of over cooked, sludgy green coloured sprouts that can also have a charming side effect which I’m sure I don’t need to explain here (you don’t want to be around my husband after he’s eaten too many).  Lately however I have come to appreciate the brussels sprout in a whole new light.  I’ve started to cook them in different ways and have discovered that they can actually taste good.  Who knew?  My current favourite way to cook brussels sprouts is to roast them as my recipe below shows but since sprouts seem to be so popular on food blogs at the moment I thought I would round up all the fantastic recipes I’ve seen as my Christmas present to you.  I’ve got your brussels sprout dilemmas covered.

I’ve been making this rice bowl for a few weeks now, its easy, healthy and is great for roasting up veggies loitering in the bottom of the fridge. More importantly its a great way to use up brussels sprouts.  Chuck in some turkey or chicken, some walnuts and cranberries and you have a lovely meal that uses all those Christmas flavours.  You can use any mix of roasted vegetables.  Carrots work really well too as does celeriac and beetroot.
Serves 2
50g (2oz) brown rice
50g (2oz) red camargue rice (wild rice would also work, or just more brown rice)
100g (4oz) brussels sprouts cut in half (I used a purple variety as I’m a sucker for a pretty looking vegetable but regular ones are good too)
100g (4oz) parsnip or 1 large parsnip peeled and diced
1 red onion cut in to wedges
50g (2oz) toasted walnuts
25g (1oz) dried cranberries
1 tbsp olive oil
Optional extras: bacon diced and fried, roast chicken or turkey, feta crumbled. I didn’t dress mine but if you want to try a dressing I think a little honey, olive oil and mustard would work well with these flavours.  Experiment and enjoy!
Preheat oven to gas mark 7 220°C
Bring a pan of water to the boil and blanch the parsnips for two minutes.  Drain and set aside.  In a roasting tray greased with olive oil add the parsnips, sprouts and red onion.  Roast in the oven until the vegetables are golden, approx 35 minutes.
Meanwhile bring a large pan of water to the boil.  Rinse your rice thoroughly in a sieve then add to the boiling water.  Simmer for 35 minutes.  Once your rice is cooked drain and rinse.  Add the rice to the roasted vegetables and combine.  Add the walnuts and cranberries.  Serve in bowls with the toppings of your choice.  I used fried bacon and crumbled feta cheese.
Happy Christmas xx

Mince Pies

Tuesday, 20 December 2011

I promised more Christmas baking and here it is... my favourite mince pie recipe.  These are the ultimate mince pies.  Strong words I know but trust me, you will love these.  I think I may actually like these mince pies better than my pre coeliac days but maybe the fact I didn’t bake back then might explain this.  These have been a Christmas staple in our house for the last few years.  As soon as November appears I start to think is it too early?  Can I get away with mince pies yet?  I didn’t always feel this way.  When I was a child I hated mince pies and Christmas pudding.  My uncle would make me jam tarts to have on Christmas day instead.  With maturity I got over that, my dislike for Brussels sprouts (which will also be making an appearance here soon) and the need to open my presents at 6am, well almost. 

Adapted from BBC Good Food
Makes 12 – 15 depending on your pastry cutter.
125g (4.5oz) butter, diced
200g (7oz) gluten free flour (I used Doves Farm plain flour)
1 tbsp icing sugar
Zest of 1 orange
200g (7oz) gluten free mincemeat (I used Meridian organic mince pie filling)
4 tbsp water
1 egg for glazing
In a large bowl rub the butter in to the flour to form fine breadcrumbs.  Add the icing sugar and orange zest.  Add the water and mix with a knife until the dough starts to form.  Knead the dough lightly and flatten in to a disc.  Wrap the disc in cling film and refrigerate for 30 minutes.
Heat the oven to gas mark 4, 180°C.  Flour your work surface and roll out the pastry to 2-3mm thickness.  Cut out your bases and lids using fluted cutters.  I used a 7.5cm cutter for the base and a 5.5cm for the lid.  (Ideally it should have been 6.5cm but I lost my middle sized cutter who knows where).  Grease a muffin tin and line with the pastry bases.  Fill each base with a teaspoon of mincemeat then place your pastry lids on top.  Brush each pie with egg wash.  Place in the oven for 25 minutes until golden brown.  Remove from the oven and cool in the tins for 5 minutes, then eat warm or cool completely on a wire rack.  Store in an air tight container for up to 4 days.

Christmas Shortbread

Thursday, 15 December 2011

It’s about to get Christmassy around here.  Only ten days away, there is no escape.  I’ve been doing a fair bit of Christmas baking lately.  Just because I can’t eat gluten doesn’t mean I’m going to miss out on all the delicious food and general face stuffing that goes on this time of year.  First off, this shortbread.  It’s so easy to make and all you need is a Christmas cookie cutter to make it festive.  The texture is very light and a bit crumbly, sweet with a hint of orange but most importantly when my friend dunked one of these shortbread in his cup of tea it didn’t disintegrate.  If you wanted to spruce these up a bit (and if I’d had more time) I think they could be iced or dipped in melted dark chocolate.  They are very good just as they are.
Recipe adapted from BBC Good Food

100g (4oz) butter softened
50g (2oz) golden caster sugar
Grated zest of one orange
Juice of half an orange
175g (6oz) gluten free flour (I used Doves Farm Plain Flour)
½ teaspoon gluten free baking powder
Preheat oven to Gas Mark 5, 190°C
Line a baking sheet with baking parchment or lightly oil.  In a bowl cream together the butter and caster sugar until light then add the orange zest and beat in.  Add the baking powder to the flour then begin to add the flour to the zest mixture and combine (I found I had to do this in stages).  If the dough is dry add the orange juice and combine until the dough comes together.  Flatten in to a round disc, wrap in cling film and chill for 15 minutes.
Flour a work surface and roll out the dough to required thickness.  Begin cutting out your biscuits with a cookie cutter.  I managed to make 12 Christmas Trees from my dough.  Place biscuits on the baking sheet and bake for 12 to 15 minutes until golden.  Remove the cookies from the oven, leave on the baking sheet for 2 minutes then move to a wire rack using a pallet knife.  Once cooled store in an air tight container for up to a week.

Banana and Cranberry Muffins

Saturday, 10 December 2011

I’m all about the cranberry at the moment.  I chuck them in my morning porridge, I find ways to sneak them in to my dinner and I love how they worked in these banana muffins.  It is nearly Christmas after all.  Cranberries are just so right at this time of year.  These muffins are wonderfully light, they make a great mid morning snack washed down with a cup of coffee. 

Recipe adapted from Healthy Gluten-free Eating by Darina Allen and Rosemary Kearney

110g (4oz) dried cranberries  
110g (4oz) butter, softened
50g (2oz) unrefined golden caster sugar
2 large eggs free range
3 large ripe bananas
175g (6oz) brown rice flour
50g (2oz) corn flour
2 teaspoons gluten free baking powder
½ teaspoon salt
Preheat oven to 180 °C gas mark 4.  Line a muffin tray with 12 muffin cases
Cream the butter and sugar together in a bowl until pale, light and soft.  Add the eggs one by one beating well.
Mash the bananas and add them to the creamed mixture.  Sift the rice flour, corn flour, gluten free baking powder and salt in to the bowl and fold them in to the mixture.  Now stir in your cranberries until they are spread evenly throughout the mixture.
Using a desert spoon fill your muffin cases ¾ full with the mixture.  Bake in the oven for 40 – 45 minutes until golden brown and a skewer inserted in to the middle comes out clean.
Cool the muffins in their paper cases on a wire rack.

Soup by candlelight

Friday, 2 December 2011

I made this soup in the dark.  Not because I’m weird... although I am a little weird... no comment.  I made this soup in the dark because we had a power cut.  I made this soup in the dark because I walked home from the train station after work in the pouring rain.  I entered the house which was empty because my husband was working late.  I removed my soaking shoes and clothes.  I was about to step in to the lovely hot shower I had been dreaming about all the way home and bam, power cut.  Me naked, alone, pitch black.  I froze, I waited, nothing happened.  Somehow I didn’t panic.  I suddenly went all stiff upper lip and began organising myself.  Dressing gown was found and thrown on, slippers were put on back to front, down the stairs I went only bashing in to the wall once.  I peered out the window, the street was dark.  Not just me then.  Matches were found, just two left gah.  We both kept saying we must buy matches but we never did.  Ok, torch was found, candles were located.  One candle successfully lit, one match left.  Bits of card board were lit from the candle to light other candles, small fires almost happened.  It was a fun time.  Foremost on my mind was food.  I scoured the cupboards with the torch but nothing easy jumped out at me.  Then I remembered making this soup at the weekend (when I luckily took some pictures).  I had all the ingredients so I thought why not.  Surely I can do this in the dark.  To cut an already too long story short I did.  It was a mean feat of planning and organising and I didn’t burn the house down.  Thank goodness we have a gas oven, although it would help if the lighter worked and I didn’t have to use matches.  As I was contemplating sitting down to my bowl of soup the power came back on.  A small part of me was slightly disappointed, only because I thought I wouldn’t need to wash up.  But within minutes I had the lap top switched on grateful that I didn’t have to spend the rest of the evening alone in the dark, it is kind of boring on your own.
This soup was inspired by this recipe from Molly Wizenburg of Orangette.  It’s simple and warming.  I used gluten free pasta instead of pearl barley which contains gluten.  Just cook your favourite gluten free pasta according to the pack instructions and stir in to your soup before serving.  I also used fennel and kale instead of celery and cabbage just because that’s what I had to hand.  You can reduce the amount significantly depending on how many you are feeding.  You definitely don’t need to wait for a power cut to make it.