September, 2010


28
Sep 10

Hedgerow Heaven

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The idea for this week’s recipe came to me this weekend.  I was in the Cotswolds and cycling down some rather idyllic country lanes, when all of a sudden, I found myself screeching to a halt having spotted an abundance of enormous, beautifully ripe blackberries nestling amongst the brambles. 

I’ve found blackberries easy picking over the last couple of weeks.  If you know a good place to look, it’s likely that the hedgerows will be laden with ripe fruit, and now is the time to catch the berries before they are too ripe.

Despite the fact that pancakes seem relatively straightforward to make, I’ve found wheat, gluten & lactose free pancakes really tricky to master. Gluten free flour is often more absorbent than wheat flour and it’s easy to end up with a thick, stodgy pancake.

One of my favourite ways to eat blackberries is in a compote, which is delicious with pancakes and vanilla ice cream. If you are lactose intolerant, I recommend trying soya ice cream which is generally available from health food shops.

If you can’t get hold of wild blackberries, I still recommend trying this recipe, as you should be able to purchase blackberries easily at the moment in the shops. Enjoy!

Free From Kitchen Pancakes with Blackberry Compote

Makes around 8 pancakes

Ingredients for the pancakes

125g flour (I use a very well known wheat & gluten free plain flour blend)

Pinch salt

2 large eggs

350 ml sweetened soya milk

 

Ingredients for the compote

200g blackberries

4 tablespoons caster sugar

4 tablespoons water

2 teaspoons lemon juice

 

Method

 

 

To make the pancakes, sift the flour and salt into a large bowl. Make a well in the centre, crack both eggs into the well and start to whisk. Gradually start to incorporate the egg into the flour, little by little, and add a small amount of milk, mix until fully incorporated, and then add more milk bit by bit until all the ingredients are fully incorporated. Give the mixture a good whisk and ensure it’s free from lumps.

Pour the mixture into a jug and make a start on the compote.

 

For the compote, simply combine the blackberries, water, sugar and lemon juice, and place in a saucepan.

Heat slowly for around 20 minutes until the fruit has softened and the liquid is thick and syrupy. Sweeten further to taste, if required.

 

To cook the pancakes, heat some butter or soya spread in a frying pan. Wait until the pan gets really hot before pouring in enough mixture to make a thick layer. Cook the pancake until golden on one side and flip. Cook until golden on both sides and serve with the blackberry compote, and a scoop or two of vanilla ice cream on the side.

 

 


21
Sep 10

Weekday S.O.S.


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Although I love cooking, I must confess that after a hard day’s work, sometimes all I feel like doing is popping to the supermarket on the way home and picking up a ready meal to shove into the microwave. 

Making sure you have a quick and delicious evening meal is something we all want to come home to of an evening, but something which so many people find a challenge. And unfortunately, it is frequently made even more problematic if you suffer from food intolerances. Just this week I visited a very well known upmarket food shop, and I couldn’t find a single ready meal which was free from wheat and gluten alone, which was very frustrating. It becomes even more of a minefield if you have multiple allergies.

One of the simplest and tastiest quick suppers you can put together is a risotto, but unfortunately, it is often out of bounds for people following a dairy free diet. This week’s recipe is one of my favourite weekday staples, which is quick, delicious and also wheat, gluten and dairy free. Feel free to play around with the ingredients in the recipe to suit your tastes, but is a great alternative to the tradition butter and parmesan heavy versions.

Roasted Butternut Squash, Chorizo & Sage Risotto

Serves 4

Ingredients

1 medium sized butternut squash

3 tablespoons olive oil

1 medium white onion

300g Arborio rice

1 litre of chicken stock (preferably homemade or fresh)

200g Chorizo sausage, cubed (ensure it is cooking chorizo and good quality)

8 – 10 fresh sage leaves, chopped

 

Method

1.)     Preheat the oven to 200°C

2.)     Peel the butternut squash,  scoop out the seeds and chop into cubes, roughly 1cm square

3.)     Bake the cubes of squash on a baking tray, coating them evenly in 2 tablespoons of olive oil for around 20 minutes until soft

4.)     Meanwhile, chop the onion finely and soften in a pan using the remaining tablespoon of olive oil until golden

5.)     Add the chorizo cubes and risotto rice to the onion and and mix evenly

6.)     Add the stock gradually to the rice, cooking until the rice has absorbed the liquid before adding a little more. This should take you around 20 minutes.

7.)     Once you have added all the stock to the rice, the risotto rice should be tender and the consistency should be thick and not watery.

8.)     I like to serve by mixing half of the squash into the risotto and serving the remaining chunks on top, sprinkled with sage leaves

9.)     Serve immediately

 

 


13
Sep 10

Indulge in some crumble comfort

Is it me or is it is feeling distinctively autumnal outside this week? I know it’s only early September, but I’m increasingly craving the comfort of hot meals and puddings.  Take advantage of the abundance of plums and pears that are beautifully fresh and ripe at the moment and have a go at my crumble recipe.  I often end up buying a punnet or two of plums whilst out shopping, only to find it takes a matter of hours before carefully selecting one to devour and discovering it’s going mouldy already. This crumble is quick and simple and takes advantage of these gorgeous fruits before they’re gone for another year. Crumble is one of those puddings which allergy suffers tend to stay away from as the topping is typically made with lots of flour and butter. My crumble has a much more flavoursome (and slightly more wholesome) crumble topping, with a chunkier texture than traditional versions. Feel free to play around with the ingredients to suit your tastes and allergy requirements. One thing’s for sure – I’m sure you’ll be a convert once you try it!

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Plum and Pear Crumble

Wheat free / Gluten free / Vegan & Dairy free option

Ingredients:

450g fruit – I love the combination of Victoria plums (stones removed) and Williams pears (peeled and cored) and chopped into halves or quarters

100g ground almonds

50g gluten free oats

100g butter or soya spread (e.g. Pure)

50g brown sugar

 

Method:

 

Preheat the oven to 200°C / Gas Mark 6

 

Blitz the almonds, oats, butter and sugar in a mixer until well combined and looks like chunky breadcrumbs. This can easily be done with your hands by rubbing chunks of butter in to the dry ingredients with your fingers – the key is mixing the ingredients evenly.

Lay the fruit evenly over the base of a pie dish and evenly sprinkle the topping over the fruit. I like to add some walnut and almond pieces on top of the crumble too. Place into a hot oven for around 30 minutes, until the fruit is molten and bubbling around the edges and the crumble is a nice shade of brown.

 

Serve immediately or cold.


5
Sep 10

Welcome to ‘Free from’ Kitchen!

In recent years, people’s awareness of food intolerances has greatly increased.  In fact, I’m sure most people know or know of someone who has an intolerance of a certain food group. Unfortunately, greater knowledge and information has not yet resulted in wide ranges of easily available “free from” food. There has been an improvement in terms of the number of products stocked by supermarkets, shops and cafés but it’s fair to say without inspiration, having a food intolerance often makes eating more difficult and generally much less pleasurable than it would otherwise be.

               My recipes are designed to let you adapt them to cater for your specific requirements and serve as the building blocks of a repertoire of you’re learning to cater for a “free from” diet, or if you are struggling for inspiration. I don’t know about you, but I have enjoyed a glimpse of sunshine over the weekend, which inspired this week’s recipe. Enjoy a last taste of summer while it lasts! Please do let me know how you get on…. bon appétit!

Broad bean, lemon & mint salad

Serves 2

Ingredients:

100g Rocket leaves

100g Pea shoots

100g Lambs lettuce

150g Broad beans

10 Mint leaves (approx.)

4 tablespoons good quality fruity olive oil

1 tablespoon freshly squeezed lemon juice

Salt & pepper to taste

 

Optional extras (adjust according to taste and dietary requirements):

 

Buffalo mozzarella torn into strips

Toasted chopped almonds

Cooked, peeled prawns

Roast chicken torn into strips

Steamed asparagus spears

Toasted seeds

 

Method:

 

1.)     Plunge fresh or frozen broad beans into boiling water (add a pinch of salt to the boiling water, if desired) for approximately 5 minutes until soft. Peel off the grey skins.

2.)     Wash and dry the leaves, and place in a large bowl.

3.)     Tear the mint leaves roughly, and add to the bowl with the broad beans

4.)     Whisk the oil, lemon juice and seasoning (if desired) in a separate bowl until well mixed and pour over the salad.

5.)    Add any additional extras and toss until the leaves are evenly dressed and serve immediately.

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