Welcome

The aim of this blog is to share my experience of living and working with coeliac disease with you.  I will be posting delicious and easy recipes, hints and tips, reviews and interesting links to articles regarding coeliac disease and other related issues such as health and diet. 

Please feel free to add your comments to any of the posts – I would love to hear your thoughts. If you wish to contact me directly, please use the form on the Contact Me page.  To be alerted whenever a new post is added, please sign-up using the email subscription button on the right.

Follow me in my quest to do something totally new, but hopefully worthwhile as I really want people to know there really is no reason why coeliacs can’t eat cake!

 Debs x

 
 
 
 

 

Posted in Musings and Misc | 5 Comments

Free From Food Awards – The Winners!

Following on from my day spent as part of the team judging for the Free From Food Awards, I was invited to the awards presentation party which took place on the 17th April in the Museum of London, Docklands.

I attended this prestigious event with about 160 of the movers and shakers in the Free From world. There were representatives from many of the major firms such as Juvela, Dr Schar, Sainsbury’s and Tesco along with those from other well known brands such as Mrs Crimbles, Hale & Hearty, Nature’s Path and Amy’s Kitchen. However there was a huge number from smaller independents and individuals like Foodamentalists, Drossa, Sweetcheeks, Conscious Foods and Steph’s FreeFrom Cakes. Also there were quite a few journalists, foodies and bloggers like myself.  It was great to see and meet people I’ve followed and interacted with on Twitter, various forums, Facebook and through this blog and I now have the start of a healthy collection of business cards. I think one of the highlights of the evening was meeting Mrs Crimble – who actually turned out to be a man (Jeremy from Stiletto Foods) but was very charming nevertheless.

Continue reading

Posted in Coeliac Disease, Diet and health, Gluten-free, Musings and Misc | Tagged , , | 2 Comments

Free From Food Awards 2012 – The Judging

This post was meant to go out a few weeks ago, but I couldn’t quite finish it for various reasons.  Now the winners have been announced, it seems a shame not to publish it, so here it is:

It was great to finally meet Michelle Berriedale-Johnson at the Free From Foods Awards judging (http://www.freefromfoodawards.co.uk/index.html) back in February.  I have been intrigued by some of her blogs and it was really good to be able to shake the hand of such a dedicated advocate of free from foods and other products for allergy sufferers everywhere.  I was only there for one day out of a week of judging, but it was a fantastic day and I also got to meet some fellow judges who were all lovely and interesting people from different backgrounds. These included Jackie Mitchell – Freelance journalist (@jackiemitchell), Hulya Erdal – Chef (@madebythechef), John Burke – blogger (@gflifeireland) and Sue Cane – Beer Writer (@gfbeerexpert).

There were four sessions planned for the day and all tastings were to be blind, ie no packaging or other indications as to who produced the products.  Our task was to mark each product out of 10 giving consideration to things such as taste, texture and appearance as well as other criteria such as quality of ingredients and innovation.  The last one was quite important and if a product really filled a niche in the market by being different, free from multiple allergens, healthy AND tasted good, it scored really high!  After all the entries had been tasted and scored we were then shown the packaging. What followed then was usually a fairly heated discussion where we attempted to identify the products that would be shortlisted as well as the winners and highly recommended.

We started on “Savoury Biscuits and Snacks” in Michelle’s kitchen.  It was quite surreal nibbling on crackers and crisps in silence to avoid influencing the other judges! Some products were very nice, and it was comforting to be able to safely eat crisps with a flavour other than ready salted for a change.  A few of the products I recognised such as Juvela Crostini Bites and Crazy Bakers Half Pipes, but quite a few were new to me such as the Darling Spuds Potato Chips and Conscious Foods Millet Crackers with Rosemary – both of which I thought were very good.

Next we were testing “Foods manufactured for food service.”  This means foods that are destined to be available either in outlets such as coffee bars and supermarket cafes or for restaurants and catering in schools.  This was a fairly small, but interesting category with samples of pasta, pasta sauces, chicken nuggets, batter etc to try.  It was interesting to note that some of these products were aimed specifically at children and were milder in taste than you might expect in a normal sauce for example, however I liked them all.  This was quite a hotly contested category with issues such as cost versus quality being raised particularly with the products intended for use in schools.

After a quick (and necessarily very light) lunch we were on to testing “Scones, sweet tarts, bakewells, cake bars, muffins etc”.  This was a large category and there was a diverse range of products from extremely healthy Almond, Apricot and Tahini Flapjack from Sugargrain to indulgent treats such as Triple Chocolate Cookies from Co-Operative Foods. I really liked the Asda FreeFrom All Butter Lemon Sicilian Shortbread which I recognised as I eat them (in moderation of course) anyway!  I also really liked Sweetcheeks Almondies, a delicious concoction of something that tasted mostly of marzipan!

Into the final stretch and the last category was “Cakes and cake-mixes”.  This again was a very large category (although not as large as last year I hear) and we were faced with a huge table groaning with the weight of cakes in all shapes, sizes, colours and flavours. Now this may sound like heaven to some people but after a full day of tasting, it was actually quite daunting.  Nevertheless, tasting proceeded and we managed to get through them all and after the usual slightly-heated discussion, came up with the shortlisters and winners.  I really was amazed that there was such a difference between the worst cakes (trust me some really were not nice) which were solid, cloying or artificial tasting and the nicest ones which were either light and fluffy, or fruit filled and tasty. For me Sweetcheeks maple & pecan cupcakes were far and away the best.

There were a number of products which were clear winners as they were scored highly by everyone, but there were others that some judges loved and some hated (I call this the Marmite effect).  If it had been on taste alone it might have been easier, although there are still those that prefer things slightly sweeter or less sweet than others, but when you have to take into account the quality of the ingredients, the innovation and whether they are not only gluten free, but egg free, dairy free and nut free as well, it is much more difficult.  However, one of the hardest things about the judging, which I hadn’t considered in advance, was the need to be objective.  For instance, how do you judge fiery hot crisps and traditional fruit cake when you can’t stand either of them and would not dream of buying them?  You have to put aside your personal likes and dislikes and judge on the given criteria – which is actually quite hard!

The shortlist of all those products we thought deserved a mention, along with the potential winners of course can be found here: http://www.freefromfoodawards.co.uk/shortlist_12.html

So overall, it was was a great day (and a well spent day off work) and I really enjoyed meeting everyone and tasting lots of new and lovely products and can’t wait for the announcement of the winners at the Free From Foods Awards party on 17th April!

 

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Gluten-free/dairy-free pancakes

So it’s Shrove Tuesday again – and that only means one thing – PANCAKE DAY!  I’ve used the same old recipe for pancakes for many years.  It’s on a mucky, dog-eared photocopy of a recipe from an old leaflet (or was it cut from a magazine? – honestly I can’t remember), so I thought it was about time I put it out there for everyone to enjoy – and to ensure I don’t ever lose it!

The old recipe I have is actually entitled “French Crepes”, but I think they are perfect to use as traditional pancakes and have always used them as such.  If you think of them in terms of pizza, where traditional English pancakes are “regular crust” and the thick US style ones are “deep pan,” that makes these delicious ones “thin and crispy!”

They are really easy to make and the best thing is of course, they translate really well to a gluten-free diet, simply by using GF flour and, because they don’t use milk, they are dairy free too.

Serve them with your favourite topping such as lemon and sugar, maple syrup and bananas, caramelised apples, jam, nutty chocolate spread or even grated coconut and lime.  They don’t taste”sweet”, so you could even use them with your favourite savoury toppings too!  I love ham and grated mozzarella in mine.

This amount of batter makes about 8 pancakes, but it really depends on how much you use for each one.  I generally cook them up in a batch and keep them warm.  You can use baking paper or greaseproof to separate them (I use Lakeland’s Parchment Circles which are ideal) and a tea towel over the top to keep them warm.  They can also be frozen and heated up in the microwave as required.

Pancakes yum

Gluten-free/Dairy-free Pancakes ( makes about 8 )

Ingredients

  • 2 eggs
  • 150g GF plain flour (I use Doves Farm)
  • Pinch of salt
  • 2 tsp sunflower oil
  • 150ml water
  • 150ml orange juice

Method

  1. Whisk the eggs with the flour, salt and oil.  Add the the liquids gradually and whisk well until a smooth batter is formed.
  2. Leave the batter to stand for 15 minutes, then whisk again.
  3. Heat a 20cm/8in pan to medium hot (use a really good non-stick pan if you have one.)
  4. Add a drop of oil and rub well with kitchen paper* to coat the surface.
  5. Pour in about 2-3 tablespoons of batter and swirl it around to coat the surface, don’t worry about the occasional hole and try not to let it go up to the edge of the pan.
  6. After about 45-60 seconds the pancake edge should start to brown.  Loosen it carefully with a fish slice or palette knife and turn it over (no flipping required!)
  7. Cook the other side for 30-45 seconds.
  8. Refresh the oil in the pan if necessary (you don’t need much) and repeat with the rest of the batter until all the pancakes are cooked.
  9. Serve hot with your favourite topping.

*Use a few sheets scrunched up to avoid burning yourself and keep a bowl at the side to put the paper in between uses

 Pancakes stack

 

Posted in Gluten-free, Recipes | Tagged , , , , | 4 Comments

FreeFrom Food Awards 2012

I am delighted to report that I have been asked to join the panel of judges on the 2012 FreeFrom Food Awards  www.freefromfoodawards.co.uk which is now in it’s fifth year.  The main purpose of the FreeFrom Food Awards is to promote, celebrate and encourage manufacturers of free from foods – thereby ensuring a greater choice and better quality for those who need to eat them!  I’m really looking forward to helping make a difference in the world of gluten free food in particular.

The judging will take place at a blind tasting event during February and the winners will be announced at a grand party in April.  See here for Alex Gazzola’s account of last year’s party: www.freefromfoodawards.co.uk/alex_party.11.html.  Alex (www.alexgazzola.co.uk)  is a UK-based journalist and author whose latest book is called “Coeliac Disease: what you need to know.”  

I’m very much looking forward to meeting Michelle Berridale-Johnson, editor of the Foodsmatter website: www.foodsmatter.com, who is doing such a sterling job of rounding up and reporting on all things allergy and intolerance as well as organising the FreeFrom Food Awards.  I have really enjoyed her blog: www.foodsmatter.com/blog which covers such topics as “Health hazards of mobile telephony”, “Gluten-free wines for the ultra sensitive” and “Becoming truly gluten free.”

Both Antony Worrall Thompson (award winning celebrity chef, author and TV presenter) and Phil Vickery (chef and author of “Seriously Good Gluten-free Cooking” and “Seriously Good Gluten-free Baking”) are supporters of the awards.  Who knows maybe they will be at the awards party and I might even get to meet them!

Entries are now closed for the awards but I’m sure they already have a long list of manufacturers, all keen to vie for the opportunity to be crowned “Winner of the Best Free-From Food 2012.”

 

Posted in Coeliac Disease, Diet and health, Gluten-free, Musings and Misc | Tagged , , , | 1 Comment

Gluten Free Christmas Bakewell Tart Pies

We love mince pies in our house but they can get a bit boring sometimes. We also love Bakewell Tarts, which I’ve found out recently are really easy to make. So when I saw an idea for mince pies with a Bakewell topping in a magazine recently, I just had to have a go.  Of course the ones in the magazine were not GF, so I just adapted some recipes I already had and the result was fantastic.  Just use whatever pastry you normally use, however, if you need a pastry recipe, do let me know and I might just publish my secret fail-proof gluten-free pastry recipe!! 

In this instance I used 2/3 Doves plain flour and 1/2 Juvela Fibre Mix (I sieved it to take out the worst of those really hard bits that get stuck in your teeth) to give it a slightly mottled look.  The topping is really simple (see below) and then you can either add an almond on each or dust with sieved icing sugar as preferred.  I cut some stars out of thick paper (draw round a star cutter if you have one, or print some out from your computer) and used them as a template to create a contemporary look.

Christmas Bakewell Tart Pies

The pies in the picture above were actually my entry into a local Mince Pie Competition recently, but I didn’t win, apparently because they were not strictly “pies.”  I did get third place (no prize though unfortunately),  however, the judges did say later, if the judging had been on looks alone, I would have won easily, which is nice to know.

So, if you’re a bit bored with the same old mince pies every Christmas, give these a go, you won’t regret it as they are quite delicious and just that little bit different.

And while we’re getting all festive here, I’d just like to take this opportunity to wish you all…

Christmas Bakewell Tart Pies

Makes about 24

Ingredients

  • 250g (approximately) GF pastry (chilled)
  • 1 jar GF  mincemeat
  • 2 eggs
  • 60g butter, melted
  • 100g caster sugar
  • 75g ground almonds
  • Icing sugar to decorate
  • Whole blanched almonds to decorate (optional)

Method

  1. Heat the oven to 190c/170c fan/gas 5.
  2. Use a shallow 12 hole bun tin (or a 24 hole mini bun tin if you want to make tiny ones) and use the pastry to line the tin.
  3. Spread a small amount of mincemeat in the base of each pastry case.
  4. In a bowl, beat together the eggs, melted butter, sugar and ground almonds until well mixed.
  5. Spoon into the pastry cases on top of the mincemeat.
  6. Top each tart with an almond if using.
  7. Bake for 20 minutes until risen and golden.
  8. Remove from the oven and allow to cool for 5 minutes.
  9. Dust with icing sugar if desired.
  10. Eat warm with ice cream, cream or custard, or allow to cool on a wire rack.

Christmas Bakewell Tart Pie

Posted in Coeliac Disease, Recipes | Tagged , , , , , | 1 Comment

GF Yorkshire Puddings

One of the hardest things I’ve found to cook using gluten free ingredients is Yorkshire Puddings.  I’ve tried various recipes from books and websites and never really been totally happy with the results.  However I had another go recently and I think they came out pretty well.  My non-coeliac son and husband were happy enough eating them.  In fact I went to put the leftover ones in the freezer, and they had all gone!

I simply adapted my old traditional recipe and they seemed to be fine.  Personally I think they would have been even better if I hadn’t opened the oven door at a crucial point, but I’ll give it another go when I next do a roast dinner and report back.  I think the secret (and this applies to non-GF Yorkshires too) is to make sure the fat or oil is REALLY hot, I mean smoking hot, before adding the batter.  If it doesn’t sizzle when you pour it in the tin, it’s not hot enough. I used goose fat which I think also helped, but you can use any lard or cooking oil (not olive oil or butter.) If you are cooking the Yorkshires to go with your roast, I suggest you wait until the meat is cooked, remove it from the oven and keep it warm while you raise the oven temperature and cook the Yorkshires. I also used some Gram flour, but you can use all Dove’s plain flour if you don’t have any. Do let me know if this recipe works for you.

Yorkshire puddings

GF Yorkshire Puddings

Makes 12

  • 25g plain GF flour (Doves)
  • 25g gram flour (chickpea flour)
  • Large pinch salt
  • 2 eggs
  • 75ml milk
  • 85ml water
  • Fat or oil for cooking
  1. Preheat the oven to 220c/gas 7.
  2. Sieve the flours into a medium bowl and add the salt.
  3. Mix the milk and water together in a jug.
  4. Make a well in the centre and add the eggs and a little of the milk/water mixture.
  5. Beat with a whisk gradually pulling in some of the flour from the edges.
  6. Add the rest of the milk/water a little at a time and keep whisking until a smooth batter is achieved.
  7. Pour the batter into the jug, cover and place in the fridge to chill.
  8. Meanwhile, place a small knob of fat or lard or a little oil into each hole of a deep bun tin and place it in the oven.
  9. After about 10 minutes check that the fat or oil is very hot and smoking slightly.  If it’s ready put it back in the oven to keep hot. If not, put it back for a few minutes more.
  10. Remove the batter from the fridge and give it another quick whisk.
  11. Remove the bun tin from the oven and drop a tiny bit of batter into one of the holes.  If it sizzles, it’s ready, so quickly divide the mixture between the holes in the tin and return to the oven.
  12. Cook for 20 minutes or until they are risen and golden (DON’T open the oven until they are ready!)
  13. Serve hot with your favourite roast.
  14. Yorkshire puddings can be frozen and reheated from frozen in the oven for a few minutes.
Posted in Coeliac Disease, Gluten-free, Recipes | Tagged , , , , | 3 Comments

Have a little bit of what you fancy – but not too often!

Well it’s become painfully obvious over the last few months – yes, coeliacs can eat cake, but only in moderation.  As you may have seen from previous posts, I’ve been struggling with ballooning weight since my diagnosis last year, and I have tried to “diet” but it really wasn’t happening.  I tried the “alternate day diet” – that lasted about a week and I tried simply “cutting-down” but that didn’t work either.  However for the last few months I’ve been seriously counting calories with the help of a great little free website called Food Focus (http://www.foodfocus.co.uk.) It really is scary just how many calories you can eat without realising it.  GF cakes, biscuits, bread and even crackers are loaded with calories and it’s so easy to use up your daily allowance before you’ve even had your dinner. 

So I’ve been reducing the amount of “Free From” foods I consume and eating a lot more fruit, vegetables and protein.  I don’t think I necessarily eat a lot less but I certainly eat better!  I’ve also been exercising an awful lot more.  I’m very lucky as where I’m working at the moment has a free gym and classes (Zumba, Pilates etc), so I’m really taking advantage of it while I can.  It was really hard at first, puffing and sweating in the classes and feeling so clumsy when I used to be able to do it all much more easily, but I persevered and now I am looking forward to the classes.   I’ve also been walking my dog much more regularly, tending my allotment and I’ve even used my Wii Fit a few times.  Now I feel I am improving every week and certainly think I look better in the wall to wall mirrors at the gym studio!. 

I peaked at my maximum weight several months ago now and I’m pleased to have lost about 10lb over the last three or four months.  I won’t pretend it’s been easy because it hasn’t, everyday is a  struggle and some days are write-offs (like the weekend I recently spent with my parents where the food was so good and I was so naughty! (see http://whosayscoeliacs.com/2011/10/29/marzipan-jewel-cake/). And you can’t go to the seaside without getting candy floss and honeycomb (so pleased to find some that didn’t have flour on it – I just had to buy it!)   But, as long as the good days outnumber the bad, I’m winning and I thought it might be useful to give you my personal top tips for losing weight without crash dieting, and getting back in shape:

  • Don’t have GF bread products at every meal (ie toast with breakfast, crackers with lunch AND bread-sticks with dinner).  At least try to cut down and only have 1 slice, instead of two, or half a roll with your breakfast, and the other half with your lunch. 
  • Don’t eat a whole pizza – just eat half and fill the rest of the plate with salad.  Put the other half in the freezer for another day.
  • Eat more protein, eg meat, cheese, eggs or nuts as they will fill you up for longer.
  • Eat more vegetables, raw if possible, and try some new ones.  This will help with your 5-a-day too.
  • Save cakes and biscuits for a little treat in the afternoon or after dinner but only eat half what you would normally eat – over a week, that saving in calories really adds up.
  • Avoid fizzy drinks and high calorie drinks like latte or milkshakes and increase your water intake.
  • Don’t drink too much fresh juice (it has quite a few calories) instead eat the whole fruit, or try a smoothie occasionally.
  • Increase the quality and reduce the quantity of what you eat, eg use real butter rather than low fat spread, but use it sparingly. 
  • Don’t put butter on toast or sandwiches when you don’t really need it, eg with beans on toast or with egg mayo sandwiches – this saves quite a few calories.
  • Count the calories in EVERYTHING you eat, if you don’t, you are only fooling yourself and you won’t lose weight.
  • Exercise more – attend classes if you can, but do something you enjoy, even cooking and gardening help burn calories.  If you have a Wii Fit or similar program – use it!
  • Build exercise into your daily life – take the stairs not the lift, walk up and down the escalators, get off the train or bus a stop before yours and walk the rest of the way.
  • Don’t eat just because you’re bored or out of habit – try to identify when you do, and find an alternative – go for a quick walk or treat yourself to a magazine or a new nail varnish.
  • If you really must eat, make it something healthy like the new snacks from www.graze.com – fantastic little pots of dried fruit, nuts and other delicious things (just click on this link http://www.graze.com/p/ZPG444R to get a free sample box to try – they seem to have a very good understanding of what’s gluten-free and what’s not )
  • Get some inspiration – try buying a few magazines like “Women’s Fitness” or “Rosemary Conley Diet & Fitness.”  Just reading the stories about what other people have achieved can give you the push you need.
  • Don’t give up – if you eat 4 biscuits with your tea one day, don’t think “Oh, what’s the point, I might as well eat the whole pack now.”  Put the rest away and resolve to do better tomorrow.
  • And you don’t think you can remember all that, just repeat this simple statement to yourself several times a day and it will soon become habit:

“Eat Less – Move More”

     

Note: Just a reminder that this is not medical advice, it’s just what worked for me.  If you are in any doubt about starting a diet or exercising you should consult your doctor. 

     

Posted in Coeliac Disease, Diet and health, Musings and Misc | Tagged , , , | 2 Comments

Marzipan Jewel Cake

I committed the ultimate sin this week and forgot to make my lovely 19 year old daughter a birthday cake!  So while we were visiting my parents this weekend, my mum and I whipped this little number up between us.  My mum made the sponge and I put it all together using bits and pieces she had in the cupboard.  My daughter is a “sporty” person and not keen on “girlie” cakes, she also loves marzipan and anything green.  So the Marzipan Jewel Cake was born.  She loved it, the family thought it tasted delicious and now you can make it too.  The recipe for the sponge cake below is a standard Victoria sponge so stick to the recipe for good results.  However, the decoration can be adjusted to suit your taste.  I think this a quick and easy cake to make and a great alternative to pink “girlie” birthday cakes, and perfect for marzipan lovers everywhere.

Marzipan Jewel Cake 2

Marzipan Jewel Cake

Ingredients

For the Sponge:

  • 8oz/225g Stork margarine
  • 8oz/225g caster sugar
  • 4 medium eggs
  • 8oz/225g GF self-raising flour (Doves), sieved
  • 1.5 tsp baking powder
  • 0.5 tsp vanilla extract

For the decoration:

  • 4oz/100g icing sugar
  • 2oz/50g butter or margarine
  • 4 tbs good quality jam
  • 6-8oz/150-200g marzipan
  • Food colouring (preferably the “paste” type) – I used green and orange

Method

  1. Preheat the oven to 190c/180c fan/gas 5.
  2. Grease and line two 8″/20cm sandwich tins with baking paper.
  3. Place all the ingredients for the sponge into a large mixing bowl and mix with an electric mixer until combined and smooth (approx 2 minutes)
  4. Divide the mixture between the two tins and bake in the oven for 25 minutes until golden.
  5. Allow to cool for a few minutes then turn out onto a wire rack to cool completely.
  6. To make the buttercream, place the butter into a bowl and beat with an electric mixer until soft.  Add the icing sugar and 2 tsps of warm water and stir slowly until mixed, then continue to beat the mixture until pale. Cover the bowl until ready to use.
  7. Divide the marzipan into three (it helps to weigh it) and add enough food colour to two of the pieces to give a deep colour when kneaded thoroughly.
  8. Divide each of the three pieces of marzipan into eight pieces (again it helps to weigh it – seriously!)  Roll each piece into a ball and place to one side.
  9. To assemble the cake, place one of the sponges on a serving plate and spread with the jam – be sure to take it right to the edge. If the jam is a little stiff, warm it for a few seconds in the microwave.  If it is very “fruity” you may wish to sieve it first. Place the remaining sponge carefully on top of the other.
  10. Spread the buttercream over the surface of the cake with a palette knife, again taking care to take it right to the edge but not over it.
  11. Arrange the marzipan balls firstly on a board or plate in the order and position that they will go onto the cake, then transfer them carefully onto the cake.

Marzipan Jewel Cake 1  Marzipan Jewel Cake 3

Posted in Gluten-free, Recipes | Tagged , , | 2 Comments

Gluten-Free and Good-For-You Vegetable Soup

This is a simple but tasty recipe I’ve used a lot over recent years.  It’s one of those that has just grown and changed and I’ve never really written it down until now.  Most of the ingredients are optional, just use what you like best, or what you have in the fridge or have harvested from your plot, and vary the quantities depending on what you prefer and what’s available.  However, for a tasty soup, you should use the core ingredients listed as a minimum (obviously leave out the bacon if you’re vegetarian) and add any of the optional vegetables, or others if you prefer.  I calculated (and this only an estimate) that the average portion has less than 100 calories.  This quantity serves about 10-12 people and you will need a very large saucepan/casserole dish (at least 4 litres).  If this is too much or you don’t have a big enough pan, just make half.  Chop the vegetables finely or chunky depending upon your preference.  Any left over soup can be frozen in portions and re-heated as required.  Do let me know if you have a go and how your soup turns out!

Debs Simple Vegetable Soup

Ingredients

  • 15g sunflower oil
  • 150-200g onions
  • 150g (about 3-4 slices) bacon
  • 2 x 400g tins chopped tomatoes
  • 2.5 litres water made into stock with 6 heaped tsps Bouillon stock powder (or whichever GF stock you prefer)
  • 250g potatoes
  • 150g carrots
  • 150g courgettes
  • 150g green beans
  • 2 tsp dried mixed herbs
  • 50g celery*
  • 50g leeks*
  • 1/2 sweet pepper*
  • 50g celeriac*
  • 50g kale or cabbage*

* optional ingredients

Method

  1. Peel and chop the onions (also the leeks, celery and sweet pepper if using) and finely chop the bacon
  2. Add the oil to a large 4 or 5 litre saucepan and put on a low heat
  3. Add the onions, bacon (and leeks/celery/pepper if using) and cook gently for 10-15 minutes until soft
  4. Meanwhile, prepare the remaining vegetables by peeling, chopping or dicing as appropriate
  5. When the onion mixture is soft, add the chopped tomatoes and the rest of the prepared vegetables, then add the stock
  6. Add the herbs, then bring to the boil, and simmer for 45 – 60 minutes, stirring occasionally, until the vegetables are cooked
  7. Season to taste if required
  8. Serve with GF bread, toast or savoury scones*

Debs Vegetable Soup

* Recipe for Savoury Cheese Scones

Posted in Gluten-free, Recipes | Leave a comment

Hoarders anonymous

I’ve always liked cooking and baking and whilst my tastes have never been exotic, I do like to try new things and am frequently buying ingredients for the latest recipe I just saw on TV or read in a magazine. Because I just never know when I might suddenly have the urge to bake a cake or try out a new recipe, I always make sure I’m well stocked with the essentials and, it seems, more frequently these days with the the not-so essentials.  And having recently done an inventory of my kitchen cupboards, it would seem most of them are still there.  So just what did I need coconut cream and kaffir lime leaves for?  Am I ever going to use the jars of raspberry coulis or cornichons? And don’t even mention the balsamic cream sauces that I absolutely had to buy after a French cooking course last year.  Even since I started drafting this blog I’ve managed to buy some edible gold leaf and popping candy which I really don’t need.

But whilst this impulse buying  is something I’ve been prone to do for a long time now (who else has tinned foods coming up to their use-by dates or 3 jars of paprika at one time?), since being diagnosed with coeliac disease last year it’s got SERIOUSLY out of hand.  I now cook mostly from scratch, so I need lots and lots of ingredients, and of course they all have to be gluten-free.  I’ve tried to figure out why it’s got so bad and I think it’s a form of panic buying. When you suddenly find yourself severely restricted in your dietary choices, it becomes almost exciting when you find something you are allowed to eat, and you feel you have to buy it.   Other times, you see something you like but don’t know when you’ll see it again, or if it will be discontinued by the store or manufacturer.  This is particularly true of “free-from” foods; you just don’t know when you’ll be able to get hold of something again.  The GF message board regularly has people asking about products that have suddenly disappeared from their local stores. 

So consequently I have cupboards full of food going out of date quicker than we can eat it – and it’s got to stop.  I can’t even trust myself to go shopping now, I go in for milk, ham and toilet rolls and come out with a trolley full – I can’t be alone in that surely!  Only recently I popped out at lunch-time to get a card, and came back with two full carrier bags from Waitrose, and worse than that, my colleagues were not even surprised.   I seriously think I am going to have to delegate the shopping to someone else – send them to the supermarket with a list, or maybe I should order everything online – under close supervision!

So now I have all this food to use up and on top of that I need space in my freezer for my allotment harvest. Because of that we’ve had some pretty inventive meals recently, and I think we are definitely going to be having a few more.   Cue more “Use it up” recipes!  Here’s what I made one day last week when I had some GF sausages, courgettes and potato wedges to use up: I fried some spring onions, chopped courgettes and peppers in a frying pan then threw in some sliced sausages, potato wedges and tomatoes and stirred until warm.  I cracked 6 eggs (for three people) into a bowl and added some herbs, seasoning and a dash of GF Worcestershire sauce. I whisked the eggs lightly and poured them over the sausage mixture and cooked until set.  Voila, Sausage Frittata à la Debs.

And here’s another little “use it up” recipe for that left over condensed milk and custard powder as well as those oats or millet flakes we all have lying around (you don’t – oh it’s just me then).  Anyway, these are a little like a biscuit and a little like cake, but more than a little bit yummy.  The original recipe came from last month’s Good Food Magazine, but as ever adapted I’ve adapted it for us coeliacs.  If you can tolerate oats, make sure they’re gluten-free, otherwise use millet flakes, they are just as good.  This recipe actually makes a pretty big batch, so you might want to try just half the first time – enjoy!

Syrup Cornflake Crunchies

Ingredients

  • 250g butter
  • 200g condensed milk
  • 175g golden syrup
  • 175g cornflakes plus a few extra
  • 175g gluten-free oats or millet flakes
  • 250g gluten-free plain flour
  • 100g custard powder
  • 2tsp bicarbonate of soda

Method

  1. Heat oven to 180c/160c fax/gas 4 and line a few baking trays with baking parchment.
  2. Melt the butter, condensed milk and syrup together in a large saucepan.
  3. Very roughly crush the cornflakes in a bowl with your hands, and then stir in the oats/millet flakes, flour, custard powder and bicarb and mix really well.
  4. Once everything in the pan has melted take it off the heat and stir in the dry ingredients.
  5. Roughly scoop tablespoons of the mixture onto the baking sheets, allowing room to spread. Crumble over a few more cornflakes (optional) then squash to flatten a bit with your hands.
  6. Bake for 12-15 minutes until golden.
  7. Cool on a wire rack.

Makes about 30

Posted in Gluten-free, Musings and Misc, Recipes | 2 Comments