Gluten Free Fresh Pasta – A Tale of Two Pastas

Gluten Free Fresh Pasta

Now no-one is going to chance upon these recipes and think ‘Good Lord! I can finally have pasta again!’. These days even the dingiest supermarket will have some kind of gluten free pasta on their shelves (the best is Salute from Waitrose, in case you’re wondering). But still, if you’re thinking of making your own ravioli, lasagne or even just for a special occasion, it’s a good recipe to have in the arsenal.

Rather than start from scratch, I thought I’d try out two very different recipes. The first is from Shauna James Ahern of glutenfreegirl.com, which has the rare benefit of being an American recipe that gives the ingredients by weight, rather than volume.  The second is from Michela Chiappa, a Welsh-Italian (or perhaps Italian-Welsh) cook who presented the show Simply Italian on Channel 4. Continue reading

Basic Gluten Free Flour Blend

Gluten free flour blend

Most store bought gluten free flour blends centre around three main ingredients; rice flour (base),  potato starch (stretchy) and tapioca flour (more stretchy). Xantham gum is added for yet more stretchyness.

This flour blend is a good general base for cakes, breads, pancakes, and cookies. It doesn’t have an especially complex flavour, but this can be useful when you are adding other flavouring ingredients. It’s the base for a lot of the recipes on the site, including five minute gluten free flatbread, quick gluten free pizza, gluten free lemon tart and probably many more to come. Continue reading

How to Portion a Chicken in Five Minutes Using Only Kitchen Scissors

I’m reading a book called ‘The Undercover Economist’ by Tim Harford. It’s very much in the gist of books like Freakonomics, brimming with anecdotes that cause one eyebrow to raise, beard stroking to commence and the reader to emit tuneful humming noises. The book recounts the never-ending ambition of big corporations to find new and inventive ways of drilling more money out of consumers when they least expect it. It makes some points that are almost terrifyingly obvious, and yet that most of us get duped by every day. I work with businesses accounts, finances, revenue, profit margins and other thrilling conversation-killers on a regular basis and yet I was genuinely shocked to realise that it doesn’t actually cost a cafe an extra 50 pence to pile squirty cream and marshmallows on to my hot chocolate.

As corporations go, supermarkets are a particularly wiley bunch, happily embracing organic, fair trade and high welfare food as they can jack up the price well beyond what the genuine additional cost is. When you pick up one of these ‘ethical’ choices, you’re telling them that you are happy to pay more, not just the actual extra cost, but much more. Continue reading

Filleting Wrasse – Knowing this could save you a lot of money

Wrasse and Bream

Look at the two fish above.  Fairly similar size and weight, both caught within the last 24 hours, so about as fresh as you can get. But the price difference between the two is huge – the bream at the bottom cost £6.51 ($10.22), while the wrasse was £1.34 ($2.10)!  And bream isn’t really an expensive fish – if we were comparing Monkfish, it would be around 10 times more expensive per kg than the wrasse. Continue reading

Cold Smoking

Home Smoked Cheese

As far as I’m concerned, everything tastes better smoked.  Meat, fish, cheese, chillies, salt (weird but true), shoes, car, cat, smoke it all I say.  From a handful of woodchips chucked on the barbecue, to a tea smoked chicken breast, I’ve always loved finding ways of adding smokey flavours to food.  But this only covers cooked or ‘hot smoked’ food.  What about reproducing the delicate flavours of smoked trout, or smoked cheese?  These foods are produced through ‘cold smoking’, whereby smoke is produced away from the food and funnelled through so the temperature of the food remains low (usually less than 30 degrees C).  As it sounds, this usually requires complicated and expensive equipment, but not always… Continue reading