Posts Tagged: gluten free


5
Jul 13

Tozi

ToziTozi is a newly opened Italian restaurant situated on Gillingham Street near London’s Victoria railway station. It’s a busy and bustling part of town and a very convenient place to meet people being so close to the station, which is not just a coincidence as the name of the restaurant, “tozi” is apparently Venetian slang for a bunch of friends.

The dining room itself is really large and open plan, with glass windows running down the entire length of the dining room. The kitchen is open, and there is a large open oven at the back of the restaurant for baking the breads and pizzetta on offer. There are also number of artfully decorated tables towards the back of the room draped with breads, herbs and hams which all look very attractive.

The concept behind Tozi is that it offers cicchetti: small sharing dishes, rather than large dishes, which is, apparently, a popular way of eating in Venice. Think of it as Italian tapas. There is a huge amount of choice on the menu and much of it is allergy friendly – or can be adapted to be. Dishes are priced at around £5-8 each, with some larger sharing platters of hams and cheeses at around £12-17.

The service is very friendly and Italian, and our waiter recommended 3-4 dishes per person. I’d say 3 is about right and you’d have to be really hungry four four.
We particularly enjoyed the Grand selection of cured meats and cheeses, which contained proscuitto, mortadella and some fantastic cheeses. We especially loved the Testun al Barolo – a cow’s milk cheese which barrel aged with Barolo grapes and the Grana di Pecora, a hard, aged ewe’s milk cheese.

Next, we enjoyed the gnocchi with duck ragu, which was very richly flavoured and tender. The only thing we’d change was to have more ragu and less gnocchi. The buffalo ricotta ravioli with shaved black truffle was seriously good and with three ravioli for each portion, we could have ordered two.

In terms of desserts, we were feeling pretty full by this point so we opted for some very tasty sorbets. Tozi is a great new restaurant and seems to be very popular. We even heard the people on the next table raving about how they’ve made several visits already. Highly recommended


1
Jul 13

A trip trip to Christopher’s

Christopher's

Christopher’s

Christopher’s restaurant is a firm West End favourite in the heart of London’s Theatreland. It’s been open since 1991, but has recently reopened following an extensive refurbishment. It is famous for it’s America theme, offering a wide range of fish and meat dishes, including old favourites such as steak, lobster and surf and turf and now offers some interesting modern dishes such as ceviche and tuna tartare, and classics such as Caesar salad, and pasta and risotto dishes.

Christopher’s has recently reopened following an extensive makeover and looks wonderful. On the ground floor, you’ll find the Christopher’s Martini Bar, which is very glamorous indeed and offers a very wide range of delicious cocktails and drinks. We particularly enjoyed the strawberry and lychee martinis. It’s a really lovely space to sit in and would be perfect for a celebration or after work drinks. Upstairs is the main restaurant and the tables enjoy the most lovely view looking down over Waterloo bridge to the other side of the river. The dining room is very elegantly decorated and feels grand, but comfortable and intimate with a relatively small number of tables.

To start, we both could not resist the grilled asparagus with truffle oil and parmesan. It was very nice; four short spears of asparagus topped with parmesan cheese and a drizzle of truffle oil and priced at £11. Starters are priced between £8 and £14 and main courses between £18 and around £40, although you can splash out on a fillet of Wagyu steak for £68 if you wish.

To follow, we shared the grilled lobster and a fillet steak: two of Christopher’s signature dishes. Both were very good – both dishes were clearly made using excellent ingredients and cooked very nicely. The sides of sweet potato mash with maple syrup and fresh vegetables were really very good. Steaks, for example are mainly sourced from the US, but there are some Scottish steaks on the menu, too.

Sadly, we couldn’t manage anything for dessert after our feast, but there were some seriously delicious sounding treats on the menu. We really enjoyed our evening at Christopher’s. It is a great place to meet with friends, and a stylish and romantic place to spend an evening in the centre of London. We can’t wait to return already.


23
Jun 13

Mozzarella and More

Mozzarella and More

Mozzarella and More

Mozzarella and More, located on the King’s Road in London is a great place to stop for coffee, breakfast, lunch or dinner. Owned by a group of Sicilian foodies and run by Antonio from Naples, it offers authentic, homemade Italian food served in a cosy and welcoming environment.

As I walked in on a wet lunchtime, it felt warm and inviting with the delicious smells of cooking lingering in the air.

The menu offers a wide range of choice, with small nibbles, sharing plates, and a daily seasonal choice of fish and meat on offer.

So much of the food here is homemade; the focaccia and ciabatta, burrata, mozzarella and ricotta, the sausages and all desserts and cakes, made by Valentina, one of the owners.

I started with the homemade burrata, which was served with warm caponata filled with carrot, pine nuts and raisins. It was a very tasty, generously portioned and priced at £9.80. To drink, the Sicilian Leone d’Almerita 2011 was a very light, floral and refreshing.

Next on offer were Mozzarella and More’s homemade pork, pistachio and fennel sausages, which were beautifully flavoured and chunky in texture. I finished with a delicious fillet steak served with parmesan and shaved black truffle at £28 which was excellent. The aged parmesan and slivers of truffle complimented the steak very nicely indeed.

Not only is Mozzarella and More a great place to visit for a meal, it offers a trattoria style service with takeaway dishes offered and catering available for events.

Mozzarella and More is highly recommended and dining there is a generous, welcoming and authentic experience.


19
Jun 13

Peanut Butter Cupcakes

 PBC1

Some of you may know that I run a cake company, Go Free Foods. We make award-winning allergy friendly cakes to order. We very occasionally make some special cakes on demand for customers who are after something specific. I recently made these for a customer’s 40th birthday and they went down a storm, so I thought I’d share the recipe with you.

With cupcakes, it’s really important to make sure the mixture is mixed really well at the wet stage – i.e. before the flour is added. This will make for a light and fluffy cupcake. Use electric beaters or a stand mixer if you can. The same goes with making the buttercream.

Use a great quality muffin pan – I used this super one by Kaiser, which is so great you don’t even need to use paper cases if you don’t want to.

PBC2

Peanut Butter Cupcakes

Makes 12

Ingredients

For the cakes

35g butter or dairy-free spread

145g caster sugar

1 tsp vanilla extract

1 large free-range egg, beaten

3 tbsp peanut butter (I used smooth)

100g gluten free plain flour or 125g wheat flour

120ml milk, or soya milk

For the cupcakes

250g icing sugar, sifted

70g butter, or dairy-free spread

4 tbsp peanut butter

2 tsp vanilla extract

50ml milk, or soya milk

Method

1)   Preheat the oven to 170C. Place your cupcake cases into your muffin tin.

2)   Place the butter and sugar together into a large mixing bowl. Beat together until light and fluffy.

3)   Add the vanilla extract and egg and beat into the mixture. Next, add the peanut butter and beat until smooth

4)   Sift the flour into the mixture and fold in gently.

5)   Now, add the milk and mix until smooth.

6)   Spoon the mixture into the cake cakes, so that they around half to two thirds full.

7)   Bake for 20-25 minutes until the cupcakes are well-risen and lightly golden.

8)   Remove the cakes from the oven and allow to cool fully.

9)   Whilst the cakes are cooling, make up the frosting. The cleanest way to make this is to do it in a food processor – I use a Magimix. Place all the ingredients together into the machine and blitz until smooth.

10)  Frost the cakes when they are cooled fully. Either spread on the frosting or pipe it on using a nozzle. The cakes will keep for 3-5 days in an airtight container.


19
Jun 13

Caxton Grill, London

 CG1

Caxton Grill is a newly opened super-smart restaurant in the St. Ermine’s Hotel in Westminster. Tucked away near St. James’ Park station in London, its entrance is very discreet – so much so it’s almost easy to miss.

The restaurant has been newly refurbished and offers a really cosy, calm and comfortable place to stop for dinner. The menu is short and typically offers traditional grill fare; steaks, roast chicken, venison and fish. Expect to pay £45 for a two course meal with wine.

To start, we shared the crab and the scallops, which were really good, very fresh and presented most attractively.

For our mains, we tried the grilled 35 day aged sirloin steak and the venison loin with some delicious sides including broccoli hollandaise gratin. Both mains were extremely well cooked and we were impressed by the really excellent quality of the meat.

The service at Caxton Grill was really relaxed yet extremely attentive allowing my friend and I a chance to enjoy a much overdue catch up.

Caxton Grill is a great choice for a good value meal, offering well-executed food in really comfortable surroundings in central London.


17
Jun 13

Jessica’s Recipe Bag

Jessica from Jessica's Recipe Bag

Jessica from Jessica’s Recipe Bag

Have you ever wondered what it is like to have your meals delivered to your door? Well, last week, this was something I gave a go, when I tried the home delivery meal service by Jessica’s Recipe Bag.

The service includes the ingredients to make four meals for either two or four people, planned by a nutritionist, and are delivered fresh to your door by a courier alongside the accompanying recipes, meaning you avoid the planning and shopping part of your meal planning.  You’re not given any choice over the meals and ingredients you receive, but it does make unpacking an exciting experience as you discover what’s on the menu for the next few days. The ingredients in the bag were really fresh and looked great. The recipes included in the bag were interesting and a little bit different, so I was very keen to get cooking.

We tried all the meals and really enjoyed them. The portion sizes are carefully considered and the meals are well balanced. We found it easy to chop and change ingredients accordingly for our dietary requirements.

Jessica’s recipe bag comes in at £69 for 4 meals for 4 people, but is ideal if you love to cook tasty, healthy meals from scratch every night, but lack in either time or inspiration to do so.


12
Jun 13

Griddled asparagus with goat’s cheese

Asparagus

This is a great super-simple supper I’ve been enjoying recently, making the most of the English asparagus season. It’s light, fresh and full of flavour and can be made in 15 minutes – great when you are hungry when you get home in the evening. It makes a lovely starter or a main, too.

The asparagus is best griddled, if you can, either using a griddle pan or on the barbeque. The best goats cheese to use are the Somerset variety: not too hard, nor to soft. By cooking them this way in a non-stick pan, it allows the cheese to caramelise on the top, and remain meltingly soft in the centre. You do need to use a great non-stick to cook the cheese this way. Do not be tempted to use oil: it just won’t work. I used a lovely environmentally friendly non-stick pan by Green Pan which worked so well.

Make the most of the asparagus season by giving this a go!

Griddled asparagus with goat’s cheese

Serves 2

Ingredients

1 large bunch fresh asparagus, with the tip of the stalks cut off

1 tbsp olive oil

Salt and pepper

1 Somerset goats cheese

Method 

1)   Place a grill pan over a high heat to warm up.

2)   Place the asparagus into a bowl. Add the olive oil, season with salt and pepper and toss, so that the asparagus spears should be lightly coated with oil.

3)   Transfer the asparagus to the hot pan and cook until tender. This should take around 10 minutes.

4)   Season the goat’s cheese well with pepper. Place face down in a non-stick pan and cook four around 5 minutes without moving, until it is caramelised.

5)   Serve the asparagus topped with the cheese immediately.


2
Jun 13

The Chequers, Churchill

The Chequers

The Chequers

Churchill is a very pretty village in the heart of the Oxfordshire Cotswolds, and is home to many well-known residents. It is a picture perfect village with a gorgeous church and lovely Cotswold stone cottages. The Chequers is the village pub and is a favourite with locals and visitors alike. Sat in the heart of the village, it’s a very popular place to visit and renowned for its Sunday lunch, so we popped along to see what we thought.

The Chequers has recently had a refit and is very smartly decorated in a rustic yet modern style, in keeping with the area. The Chequers is a pub, but the food is so much more than pub food. The building is divided into two sections; a bar with seating and a restaurant area with tables, with plenty of seating outside for the summer months.

The menu offers a fair bit of choice and has some lovely seasonal options, such as the delicious grilled asparagus I enjoyed to start. We also liked the confit duck salad as a starter, which was perfectly balanced and dressed.

For the main course, I had to try their renowned roast beef, which was very good, and I say that as someone who is often disappointed by roast dinners in restaurants. The beef was incredibly tender and served with delicious garlic courgettes, as well as a honey roast carrot, roast potatoes, Yorkshire pudding and cauliflower cheese – a feast indeed. Another very popular choice on a Sunday is the half roast chicken with homemade mayonnaise, chips and salad, which was very nicely cooked and presented very attractively.

There is a wide choice of desserts, and we really enjoyed the lemon jelly and syllabub which was deliciously cool and sharp, which made a refreshing end to the meal, which we finished with a Monmouth coffee each.

The Chequers is a great destination for a relaxed meal in comfortable, yet informal surroundings. Make sure you book in advance!


27
May 13

Las Iguanas, Oxford

Las Iguanas

Las Iguanas

Mexican food is enjoying plenty of attention of late. There is so much more to Mexican food than many people realize – it’s full of fresh flavours and interesting ingredients.

Las Iguanas is chain of Latino-themed restaurants that seems to be moving with the times and has introduced a new menu offering freshly made authentic Latin American dishes originating from Mexico and Brazil. It’s a lively restaurant to eat at, with loud music and cocktails flowing, and this was certainly the case on a recent visit to the Oxford branch on a Saturday night to see things for ourselves.

The menu offers loads of choice, from sharing dishes, to more predictable mains, such as fajitas, and a range of interesting Brazilian main dishes, including feijoada. We started with a very good mojito each and a selection of tasty nibbles, including some grilled king prawns and the Las Iguanas deconstructed guacamole which was very good indeed.

It’s great to see so much of the menu is gluten free, and dishes are marked accordingly making ordering easy. For our main course, we tried the fajitas which were cooked in a delicious spicy, smoky blend of spices, and the galinhada, a Brazilian paella type dish with rice, prawns and chicken which was very tasty and interesting to try something a little different.

For desert, we really enjoyed the Mexican mess – a twist on Eton mess made using a sweet hibiscus syrup drizzled over cream, meringue and berries.

Las Iguanas really surprised us by just how good the food was. It is fairly priced and there is plenty of choice on offer, too. We found it to be a great place for an informal, relaxed meal with plenty of allergy-friendly choices on offer.


25
May 13

Roasted cinnamon plums

Roasted cinnamon plums

Roasted cinnamon plums

Somehow roasting fruit or vegetables seems to make them even more delicious. I love to roast tomatoes and peppers and keep them cold in the fridge to add to salads. It really brings out their sweetness and loses their acidity.

The same goes for plums. Especially those you so often get in punnets that never seem to ripen properly. This is a great way to use them up. They taste amazing and make a great dessert served with ice cream, or even a tasty breakfast, with some plain yoghurt.

Make sure you use a good non-stick baking tray though, such as this excellent one made by Judge, as the juices become very sticky, you don’t want to be chiseling them off once they’re cooked as roasted plums become very soft indeed.

Roasted plums

Roasted plums

Roasted cinnamon plums

Serves 4

Ingredients 

1 punnet plums

5 tbsp cinnamon sugar, or 4 tbsp caster sugar mixed with 1 tbsp cinnamon

Method 

Preheat the oven to 170C. Halve the plums and remove the stones. Lay out cut side up on the baking tray and sprinkle evenly with the cinnamon sugar. Bake for around 20 minutes until soft. Serve hot or cold. They keep well in the fridge in a Tupperware container.

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