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Monthly Archives: February 2012

Sexy Spaghetti Bolognese (gluten & dairy free!)

Sexy Spaghetti Bolognese (gluten & dairy free!)

Spag Bol, as it’s commonly known here, is a classic.  It’s simple, and everyone loves it.  I’ve often heard Gino D’acampo say that in Italy, you won’t have spaghetti with bolognese – but since I can’t seem to get gluten free tagliatelle, or fettuccine, gluten free spaghetti will have to do.  And it does, quite nicely!

Truthfully, I had never eaten spaghetti bolognese until I met B  7 years ago, and then, it meant frying some beef mince and onion, stirring in a jar of sauce, and putting it on some spaghetti.  If that sounds like your version, next time you’re at the shop, instead of buying that jar of ‘sauce’, just pick up a carton of tomato passata.  It couldn’t be simpler to make it from scratch, and surely far cheaper than buying a gluten free sauce.

I’ve been off work for a little while with a bad foot, so I seem to have watched a lot of daytime TV, and have picked up some tips too.  Gino alwas says that you never put the sauce on top of the pasta; you always put the pasta into the sauce. This might well be common knowledge, but it’s not the way I used to do it, and it seems to make on hell of a difference!  Anyway, I know most people have their own recipe for this family favourite, but incase, like me, you’d always made it using a jar of sauce, here’s my ridiculously easy yet amazingly tasty version of ‘Spag Bol”…

Ingredients:

250g lean beef mince

1 tbsp olive oil

1 onion, finely chopped

4 mini portabella mushrooms, chopped

1 red pepper, chopped

1 fat clove of garlic, peeled and pressed / finely chopped

500g tomato passata (sieved tomatoes, from a carton)

1 whole dried bay leaf

1/4 tsp black pepper

1/4 tsp each of dried oregano, dried basil, dried parsley

250g gluten free spaghetti (I used corn)

Method:

  • In a large saucepan, add about 1tbsp olive oil to the mince, and break it up with the back of a spoon, while on a low heat
  • Once the mince has started to brown, add the onion, mushrooms and red pepper
  • Once the veggies have softened and the mince is pretty much cooked, add the garlic and stir through
  • Now add the passata, and turn up the heat to bring it to a simmer
  • Mix in the black pepper, oregano and basil, and bury the bayleaf, whole, in the sauce
  • Cover and simmer for about 15 minutes (add the parsley in for the last 5 minutes of cooking)
  • Meanwhile put a large pan of water on to boil for the pasta (I don’t salt my water; I don’t see the need, but do so if you must)
  • Put your spaghetti into the boiling water, and cook for 8-9 minutes, until it is ‘al dente’ – cooked but firm
  • Drain your spaghetti, and put it into your bolognese sauce, mixing well
  • Give your spaghetti about a minute to soak up some sauce, then serve and enjoy!

Easy! So that’s how I do it.  I get 3 good servings from this, so it feeds me and B, with leftovers for his lunch tomorrow.  I use dried herbs, but if you have fresh to hand then use those instead.  One day I’ll have a little herb garden up and running, but until then, my dried herbs will serve me well.

Cocoa-Coconut-Cupcakes! (gluten & dairy free!)

Cocoa-Coconut-Cupcakes! (gluten & dairy free!)

Everybody needs cheering up on a Monday, don’t they?  B’s been feeling under the weather, so I decided to make yet more cakes in an attempt to perk him up.

I used up all the nuts in the cakes I made the other day, so I raided the cupboards and decided on a mixture of Cocoa Powder and Creamed Coconut (I but the Patak’s sachets of creamed coconut which is solid and then I chop it).  Here’s what came out of the oven:

And here’s how I made it…

Ingredients:

125g gluten free self raising flour (I used Dove’s Farm)

125g brown sugar

50g dairy free margarine (I used Vitalite)

25g Cocoa Powder (the Green & Black’s that was in my cupboard)

3 free range eggs (small to medium sized)

2 tbsp olive oil

2 tbsp lactofree milk or milk substitute

1 tsp gluten free baking powder

50g creamed coconut (chopped)

Easy Peasy Method:

  • Measure out your dry ingredients and mix them together in a bowl
  • Add your wet ingredients and mix well until there are no lumps and you have a nice thick batter
  • Spoon the mixture into cupcake cases, fairly full
  • Bake for around 20 minutes at 190 degrees C
  • Try not to burn your fingers when you try to eat them straight from the oven!

The chopped creamed coconut left lovely gooey chunks of coconutty goodness through the cakes – you can see it in the pic here:

This mixture made about 15 small cakes.  15 small cakes, for 2 people… all this baking can’t bee good for the waistline.  It’s just me and B here, and we live about an hour away from family… so whatever I make in this kitchen, gets eaten in this kitchen.  Oh well, that’s a dilemma for another day, these cakes brightened up my Monday and that’s all that counts!

The Versatile Blogger Award – sharing the love!

I woke up to a lovely message today, telling me I’d been nominated for the Versatile Blogger Award! How lovely is that!

 

Huge thanks to Liz at just another day out west for nominating me for the award.  It really made me smile!  I came across the blog by chance when searching through posts tagged ‘gluten free’, and it’s lovely to read about her idyllic lifestyle and beautiful horses!

Rules are rules; now I need to share with you 7 random pieces of information! Here goes…

  1. I’m 23 years old
  2. I have a 4 year old rescue dog named Jeremy, he’s a Lhasa Apso who loves the sound of his own voice!
  3. I live with B, my fiance, who is 6’5″ tall (77 inches)
  4. I am only 5′ tall… (60 inches)
  5. I’ve been gluten free since January 2011
  6. You will often find me in the kitchen with a glass of wine – it gets the creative juices flowing
  7. I’ve not cut my hair since November 2010

On with the show! Below (in no particular order) are the 7 bloggers I’ve chosen to nominate for the Versatile Blogger Award:

If the 7 bloggers above want to share the love, too, here are the VBA rules:

1. In a post on your blog, nominate 7 fellow bloggers for The Versatile Blogger Award.
2. In the same post, add the Versatile Blogger Award.
3. In the same post, thank the blogger who nominated you in a post with a link back to their blog.
4. In the same post, share 7 completely random pieces of information about yourself.
5. In the same post, include this set of rules.
6. Inform each nominated blogger of their nomination by posting a comment on each of their blogs.

SaucySaturday: Smoky Salami Pasta (gluten & dairy free!)

Saturdays are meant to be fun, free and easy, yes? That’s why, on a Saturday, I like to make food that’s quick and simple.  It still needs to be tasty though, and it still needs to keep B happy, since he’s jumped on the gluten & lactose free bandwagon with me, to make life easier.  Tonight, we fancied pasta.  Pasta and olives.

I should probably explain that this isn’t strictly just ‘salami’ pasta – I used some smoked streaky bacon, too.  I had some salami left over from last night’s epic pizzathon, and some bacon in the fridge ready for the mandatory Sunday bacon sandwich, so I used a bit of both.

 

Ingredients:

5 slices of salami, chopped

4 rashers smoked streaky bacon, chopped

1 red bell pepper, chopped

1 clove garlic, minced / finely chopped

1 small green chilli, finely chopped (deseed for less heat)

500ml tomato passata

1/4 tsp smoked paprika

1/4 tsp black pepper

175g dry GF pasta (I used Sainsburys corn penne)

 

Method:

  • Put a large pan of water on to boil for the pasta
  • In a drizzle of oil, heat the salami and bacon in a large saucepan for around 5 minutes over a fairly high heat, until they start to brown
  • Add the chopped pepper to the pan, turn down the heat, and stir through, allowing to cook for a few more minutes
  • Add the garlic and chilli, and heat for no more than a further 30 seconds (burned garlic will become bitter, and by this stage the pan will be hot so it will cook quickly)
  • Now stir in the passata, and season with the smoked paprika and black pepper

While the sauce simmers, it’s time to add the pasta to the boiling water.  Simmer for about 7 minutes, until the pasta is cooked but still firm – ‘al dente’

  • Drain the pasta, and quickly stir it into the sauce
  • Allow the pasta to heat in the sauce for about a minute, and then serve!

This made enough to feed 2 hungry people.  Me and B are always greedy hungry.

Of course, pasta loves a side of olives.  Stuffed olives, to be more precise.  I had bought a jar of ready-pitted olives, and really fancied stuffing them with lactofree cheese. Tonight was the first time I attempted the ancient art of olive-stuffing, and it was a bit fiddly, but turned out great, with the use of the back of a small spoon.  Then I dressed them in 1 tablespoon of olive oil, 1 tablespoon of tomato puree, and about 1/2 a teaspoon of balsamic vinegar.  They were yum, if I do say so myself!

So that was my Saucy Saturday.  Now sat with B, sipping a GF lager, and watching the Bodyguard.  Perfect weekend :)

 

I’ve Been Baking: Banana Cupcakes (gluten and dairy free!)

Okay, this is probably my greatest gluten free baking success to date, and it’s all thanks to Katie at Smell the Flours.  Her recipe for Banana Nut Bread is here – it brought on immense muffin cravings and I needed to get in the kitchen and make something sweet.  I deviated from the original recipe a  bit, mainly because I didn’t have all the ingredients, but had reasonable substitutes, and also because I find it difficult to stick religiously to any recipe.  I will have to, at some point, go back to the recipe and follow it step by step, because it looks so amazing.  Pictured below is my take, which turned out to be mini cupcakes…

I did have the desire to make sort of mini-muffins, but that didn’t turn out the way I’d planned. (Note to self: buy cake papers that are strong enough to hold the batter needed for muffins…)  I filled the first few cases fairly full, and one by one they collapsed and I watched in horror as the sticky batter poured out onto the baking tray.  So, I had to fill the flimsy cases half full, resulting in fairy-cake / cupcake type mouthfulls.  However, they were delicious, nonetheless!  Okay, so below, is how I ended up making mine…

Dry Ingredients:

120g GF flour (I used Dove’s Farm self raising)

90g fine brown sugar

1/2 tsp baking powder

Pinch salt

50g chopped Brazil Nuts

Wet Ingredients:

2 medium free range eggs

2 ripe bananas, mashed

150ml peach juice* (see notes below)

3 tbsp honey

1 tbsp oil

1/2 tsp vanilla extract

Method:

  • Get your oven heating to around 180 degrees C
  • In a large mixing bow, put your dry ingredients together and mix well
  • In a separate smaller bowl, mix all of your wet ingredients
  • Add your wet ingredients into the larger bowl with your dry ingredients, and stir to form a sticky batter
  • Pour the mixture into cupcake cases, and fill them as full as your cases will handle
  • Pop them in the oven, keep an eye on them, and in about 25 minutes, they should be done!

*Okay – confession time – the truth about the ‘peach juice’… with breakfast this morning, I had tinned peaches with soya yoghurt.  I didn’t want to waste the juice from the tin, so I poured it into a plastic pot, and decided to keep it.  According to the label, it’s ‘natural peach juice’ – so I don’t see why you can’t use any fruit juice you fancy instead.  Phew. Glad I got that off my chest.

From the quantities above, I got 15 small cakes.  These cakes were much like I’d hoped they would be – moist, fluffy, and sweet.  Not dry.  Not crumbly.  Not heavy.  If I hadn’t made them, I wouldn’t have believed they were actually gluten free.  And B enjoyed them too, and he’s not even gluten intolerant!

FridayFood: Polenta Pizza (gluten free, of course!)

When your intolerances get in the way of you ordering in a pizza, it doesn’t have to ruin your weekend.  In fact, it can be more fun to make your own! Last night, I made (and ate) so much food, I could barely move afterwards – BBQ pizza with a polenta base, a side of crispy potato wedges with a creamy garlic & herb dip, and even a gluten free lager to wash it all down with.  I was only cooking for me and B, and I think it’s fair to say I made too much food.  That didn’t stop us eating it all, mind you. Anyway, pictured below is my Friday Feast.

Yes. We had a whole pizza each. I had a search online, and took inspiration from a handful of recipes for the bases before getting busy in the kitchen, mainly these ones; annabelkarmel, fatfreevegankitchen, and Carla’s GlutenFreeRecipeBox.  Below is what I ended up doing, and gives the quantities to make 2 pizza bases, roughly 10 inches, and around about 1cm thick.

Ingredients:

190g polenta (dry weight)

850ml vegetable stock

1/2 tbsp xanthan gum

1 tbsp GF plain flour (I used Dove’s Farm)

1 tsp dry parmesan substitute

Method

  • Bring the stock to a simmer then slowly add the polenta, whisking as you do so
  • Keep at a very low heat, and cook for around 3-5 minutes, until you have a smooth polenta mixture (add more water if it starts to become dry)
  • Turn off the heat and mix in the xanthan gum, flour and ‘parmesan’

Now time to make them into pizza bases…

  • If you have pizza tins, spread the mixture into the oiled tins to desired thickness
  • I don’t have a pizza tin, so I put a sheet of baking paper over a dinner plate and used that.  The polenta will probably be stick and stubborn, so persevere and try to spread it evenly
  • Bake in a fairly hot oven (200 degrees or thereabouts) for 15 minutes
  • Once done, the polenta will feel springy and spongy
  • Remove from the oven, and either allow to cool, and refrigerate until you need it, or put on your toppings and pop them straight back in the oven!

I was surprised at how well the base held up.  The middle was a little bit on the floppy side, but the majority of it was very ‘handleable’.  Pizza is all about the hands, and if you’re gentle, this base doesn’t require a knife and fork!  It is, however, very filling, so one pizza between 2 should be plenty.

I topped mine with homemade BBQ sauce, which was amazing! The recipe is here.  I also added grated lactofree cheese, fresh spinach, and some salami. Of course, you can top it with whatever you like! I like my pizzas crispy, so I baked them for 25 minutes, meaning the polenta had a total of 40 minutes in the oven.

Now, pizza wouldn’t be pizza without a side, would it? I made some simple potato wedges to go with mine, and of course, a Dominos-esque garlic and herb dip.  With inspiration from this beautifully simple recipe, I threw together 100g Lactofree soft cheese, 50g Alpro plain soya yoghurt, a crushed clove of garlic, some chives and a squeeze of lime juice, and wound up with a delicious dip!

So, that was my Friday Food.  I would definitely make a pizza base from polenta again.  I’ve seen some fascinating things turned into ‘alternative’ pizza bases before, but in taste and in texture, I always imagined polenta would be pretty similar to one made from bread.  And I was right.  I’d love to hear if you’ve made any weird and wonderful gluten free pizza bases?

Hungry for Homemade BBQ Sauce?

I’ve been playing around in the kitchen, because it’s Friday and tonight, I want to make a pizza to end all cravings for Dominos.

The pizza bases were ready to go, I just needed to create a tangy, oozy BBQ sauce to tickle the tastebuds with just the kick you need for a Friday night in.

Why don’t I just buy a jar of gluten free barbecue sauce to top the pizzas? Well, because this way is more fun, and have you read the ingredients list on a jar of sauce lately? It usually makes for scary reading.

Just a note on how to make it, it’s a really simple sauce to put together, and while there may seem like a lot of ingredients, I just used what I had to hand.  If there’s something on the list you don’t have or don’t usually buy, see if there’s something you have in your cupboard that you can substitute.  Recipes are great for inspiration, but you can always tweak them to suit your tastes.

 

Ingredients:

1 tbsp olive oil

1 small red onion, chopped

1/2 red pepper, chopped

2.5cm piece of ginger, chopped

1 clove garlic, chopped

1 green chilli, chopped

300ml water

5 tbsp tomato puree

3 tbsp honey (please use agave nectar instead to make this vegan)

1 tbsp tamari sauce

1 whole star anise

1/2 tsp each of: paprika, smoked paprika, cayenne pepper, black pepper

2 tsp molasses

juice of 1/2 lime

optional: 2 tsp cornflour

 

Method:

  • In a saucepan, heat the onion, pepper and ginger in the oil until they soften
  • Add the garlic and chilli and heat for no more than another 30 seconds
  • Now add the water and turn up the heat
  • Add in all the other ingredients, except for the lime juice
  • Bring this up to the boil and allow to simmer for 15 minutes
  • It should now start to smell like BBQ sauce. Add the lime juice and heat for about a minute.
  • Take it off the heat, transfer to a blender, and blend until smooth (depending on how good your blender is, you may want to fish out the star anise before blending)
  • At this stage, I like to put it back into the pan and add cornflour to thicken it up.  To do this, mix 2 tsp cornflour into about a tablespoon of water, and add it to the sauce.  The cornflour needs heat to thicken, so simmer the mixture for a further 5-10 minutes

That’s it! Allow to cool, bottle it, jar it, put it straight on your pizza, mix it in with some pasta, dip your chips in it – the choice is yours!

This recipe makes about 400ml sauce, scale it up or down to suit your needs, or store the leftovers in the fridge and it should keep for a few days.

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