Thai Bean Cakes

Gluten Free Thai Fish Cakes

A few weeks ago I had the pleasure to go on a gluten free baking course run by the delightful Naomi Devlin at the delightful River Cottage HQ. I had really been looking forward to finding out how to make a gluten free sourdough loaf as well as finding out about some more unusual baking ingredients and Naomi did not disappoint. I’m used to cooking with pretty processed gluten free ingredients, think white rice flour, potato starch, tapioca etc, but Naomi’s baking centres around using wholemeal ingredients that actually have a decent nutritional benefit as well as tasting great. She’s a sucker for chocolate though – never stand between her and a block of 90% dark chocolate, your life would be in danger I’m sure. Continue reading

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

Gluten, Dairy and Egg Free Pancakes – Suitable for all, yet still delicious

gluten dairy and egg free pancakes

I’ve had to rush this recipe out in time for pancake day, so there is hardly any time for the usual babbling (which I’m sure most people will be thankful for). Although I usually just cover gluten free stuff on the site, I though gluten free pancakes were so simple that anyone could manage them, and a vegan, gluten free, egg free and dairy free pancake recipe that everyone could enjoy would be more useful on a day which should be about people coming together and enjoying fun food together.

These pancakes are very thin and crispy on the outside, almost like crepes. If you’re not used to cooking with ingredients that sound fairly weird, have faith; avocado and apple are common substitutes for egg, and they help bind the mixture along with the xantham gum. For anyone who wants more of the same, I took a lot of inspiration from Erin Mckenna’s book Babycakes Covers the Classics which offers vegan and gluten free sweet treats along with covering a few other allergies. Continue reading

Gluten Free Chocolate Brownie – One Brownie to Rule Them All

Gluten Free Chocolate BrownieThere’s no reason why a gluten free diet should preclude some of the finer things in life. And this rich, sticky, unctuous gluten free chocolate brownie is certainly one of those things. There can be fewer greater pleasures than biting through a brittle crust to reveal endless rivers of squidgy, chocolatey goo.

But make no mistake, we’re not settling for some half baked (‘scuse the pun) gluten free knock off of the wheatier brownie cousin. Serve this up to your gluteny friends with impunity – it is as fine as any gluten filled brownie they will ever taste. It almost seems like cheating to call this ‘gluten free’, after all flour is such a minor ingredient that you could probably swap it for sand or shredded paper without anyone noticing. Continue reading

Vietnamese Spring Rolls

Vietnamese Spring RollsMy Christmas consisted mainly of something I like to call ‘chain snacking’. No sooner was my right hand picking the last of the mince pie crumbs off my expanding belly, I would find my other hand ferreting tentacle-like in the box of salted caramels nearby.  My right hand, not to be outdone, would then search out a cube of Turkish delight and be ready to shotgun it before the caramel had even had the chance to cling to one of my teeth. I suspect I looked like a combination of Homer Simpson and Vishnu, each of my 8 hands tossing the next treat into open jaws while a bowling ball sized lump expanded steadily at my midriff.

So now it is time for penance, and it will take more than holding of the breath and prodding of the belly to loosen these trousers. But the depths of winter is no time to turn to salads, so we must instead make comfort foods that are satisfying and wholesome, yet light. Most importantly, we cannot sacrifice flavour, otherwise our snouts will be back in the biscuit box before you can say oompa loompa. Continue reading

Quick and Convenient Fresh Pesto Cubes

guindilla chilli pesto
There’s not better topping for pasta than fresh pesto, it’s a whole lot better than the stuff you get in jars that the Italians call ‘dead pesto’. Unfortunately, it can be a hassle to make and tends to only last for a few days in the fridge, and you hardly want to eat it for several days in a row… A great tip is to make a quantity of fresh pesto (or any intense pasta sauce) and put it into an ice cube tray.  When it’s frozen, pop the cubes out and keep them in a plastic bag. When you need one, take it out of the freezer and throw it in the still warm cooked pasta. Stir round the pan a little to help it melt, and voila, fresh pesto in no time at all! The flavour is retained by freezing, and you can toss in as many portions as you require. Continue reading

Purple Sprouting Broccoli

Purple Sprouting Broccoli

The first show of these cheery green stalks with their flowery purple heads is the sign that summer is on its way, and the stubborn root vegetables that have been squatting in the vegetable drawer all winter will soon be replaced with an array of brightly coloured and richly flavoured British produce.

Purple sprouting broccoli reaches a peak around mid April – it’s available from March but the stems can be a little woody and may require some rather fiddly peeling.  By April, they’re tender all the way down to the end, and require delicate treatment and careful cooking, followed by eating with much gusto and slurping. Continue reading

Wild Garlic and Nettle Soup

Nettle and Wild Garlic SoupThere’s an obvious factor that discourages most people from snacking on nettles, but be assured; once cooked, the sting has gone and all that remains is a pleasant spinach like vegetable rich in vitamins and taste.  Spring is the best time to pick nettles when the new growth has appeared, so they make an ideal pairing with the wild garlic that appears around the same time. Much of the wild garlic will be getting a little old now (try to avoid flowering plants), but if you reach through the large outer leaves you’ll find some small young leaves that are perfect. Continue reading

Quick Gluten Free Pizza

Gluten Free Pizza
This gluten free pizza recipe is a variation on my five minute gluten free flatbread recipe, essentially just adding pizza toppings after partial cooking, then finishing it all off under the grill. It’s a quick meal to make, and you can even keep the pizza base dough in the fridge for those sudden urgent pizza cravings. As with the flatbread, use any supermarket gluten free flour with xantham gum (Doves Farm in the UK or Bob’s Red Mill in the USA), I use my quick and easy gluten free flour blend here. Continue reading

Warm Beetroot and Butternut Squash Salad with Fresh Pesto Dressing

Beetroot and Butternut Squash Salad

This is a hearty and robust warm beetrot and butternut squash salad with pesto dressing that makes a great addition to any meal.

On opening my laptop a few days ago, the first message of the day was from eat the seasons, cheerily but firmly instructing me to ‘eat BEETROOT’.  Who could argue with such advice? I love their emails, they really help you to get a feel for the seasonal food of the time that leeches into your consciousness, and you know you will definitely eat BEETROOT if the chance arises.

Truth being, I never stopped eating beetroot.  A few weeks ago I put out a teaser of all the vegetables I bought from Riverford Farm Shop, promising recipes in abundance which I failed to deliver.  Well, now’s the time to come good on my promise – two, yes TWO recipes if not dedicated to, then at least containing that humble purple rogue – the beetroot.  Say goodbye to that crystal white choppping board, and say hello to rich earthy goodness.

Warm Beetroot and Butternut Squash Salad with Pesto Dressing

2 Beetroot
1 Butternut Squash
A Handful of baby spinach leaves
1 chicory bulb
Other mild flavoured salad leaves such as Lambs lettuce

Pesto dressing

1 good handful of basil leaves
1 tbsp pine nuts, toasted in a dry pan
2 tbsp olive oil
2 tbsp grated parmesan
1 clove of garlic

1. Preheat the oven to 180 C.
2. Place the two beetroot in the middle of a roasting tray, drizzle with olive oil, sprinkle with salt and pepper and place two sprigs of rosemary or thyme on them.  Roast for around 1 hour until the beetroot has softened but still remains slightly firm throughout (use a skewer to test).
3. Meanwhile chop the butternut squash (don’t peel it!) into chunks about the length of the beetroot – you’ll eventually be chopping the beetroot into wedges too, and you want them to all be a similar size.   Toss in olive oil.
4. Halfway through cooking the beetroot scatter the butternut squash around them, sprinkle with salt and pepper and return to the oven for the remaining 30 minutes.
5. Once cooked (the butternut squash will be lightly browned and caramelised), remove from the oven and set aside and keep warm – the vegetables should still be warm for the salad, but not hot.

roast beetroot and squash in the roasting tray

6. Make the pesto by toasting the pine nuts in a dry pan until golden brown all over, then puree in a small food processor or pestle and mortar with the garlic, olive oil, basil and parmesan.  Taste the dressing and adjust any ingredients.
7. Arrange the chicory, baby spinach and leaves in a salad bowl.  Add the beetroot and butternut squash, then drizzle over the dressing.  If you want some additional sharpness, toss in a tablespoon of red wine vinegar.  Mix together thoroughly and serve warm.
tossing the salad

This is a great recipe that would go equally well with Roast Turkey, a vegetarian Christmas Roast, or as a hearty and robust addition to any meal.  The next recipe will follow soon (ish) !

Links: Eat The Seasons, Riverford Farm Shop
Twitter: @RiverfordShops