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Gluten Free Gluttony: Macaroni Cheese!!

Gluten Free Gluttony: Macaroni Cheese!!

Well, Summer is over (not that we really had any Summer here in Cardiff…) and it’s getting colder & darker outside.  Don’t worry, I’ve found a way to make you feel warm & cosy inside – gluten free, lactose free Mac n Cheese!!  Hot, oozy, carby goodness; it’s the perfect time of year for it!  Shut your eyes to the calories, shut your eyes to the mess you will make in your kitchen (pour yourself a glass of wine if you need to!!) roll up your sleeves and prepare to make magic…

 

a real winter warmer…

Ingredients:

For the Sauce…

  • 20g gluten free flour
  • 200ml lactofree milk (or soy milk / dairy free milk)
  • 200ml veg stock  – cold (I used gf/df bouillon powder)
  • 20g dairy free spread (eg Vitalite)
  • 150g grated Lactofree cheese (* please note this cheese is not suitable for vegetarians)
  • black pepper to taste

Also…

  • 250g gluten free dried pasta
  • 1 large red onion, chopped
  • 150g sliced button mushrooms
  • knob of dairy free spread
  • handful chopped spinach leaves
  • 250g halved pomodorino tomatoes (or just small / cherry tomatoes)
  • 100g grated Lactofree cheese for the top

 

Method:

  • Pre-heat the oven to 200C, and put a large pan of water on to boil (salt if you wish)
  • Use this time to chop/slice/weigh/grate…
  • Add your pasta to the boiling water (and boil for about 10-12 minutes, or until soft)
  • In a frying pan, melt knob of butter and fry onion & mushroom until just browned, then turn off the heat

Meanwhile make the Sauce…

  • In a jug add a little of the milk to the flour and whisk until there are no lumps
  • Add the rest of the milk and the cold stock and mix well
  • Pour into a cold saucepan, add the dairy free spread and heat gently, whisking frequently
  • Once mixture is almost boiling, mix in the cheese to melt, and bring to a very gentle simmer
  • Season to taste with black pepper, and simmer for a few minutes until thickened

Now for the Magic…

  • Once the pasta is soft, drain and return to the saucepan
  • Mix in the onion, mushroom, chopped spinach & cheese sauce
  • Spoon this all into oven proof dish (I like to use individual ‘pie’ dishes – or just use one large, preferably shallow one)
  • Layer the halved tomatoes on top, sprinkle over the remaining grated cheese, and pop in the oven
  • Bake for around 30 minutes, until bubbling, and cheese has turned a lovely golden brown
  • Serve with something naughty & comforting (I did chunky chips, skins on, seasoned with fresh rosemary…)

 

This was B’s idea tonight. I was going to do Spag Bol – I fancied something hot & pasta heavy; but this is B’s favourite and I haven’t made it for a while, so it was a no brainer! I got 3 very generous portions from the above quantities (greedy, gluttonous portions!).  The perfect meal for when you need something starchy & carb-heavy, with the added comfort of cheesiness! The only downside I can see to this is the washing up (thankfully, that’s B’s domain!) and the fact that you’ll burn your tongue again and again because it’s so delicious that you won’t have the patience to wait for it to cool before putting it in your mouth (think of the moth & the lightbulb from the kitkat advert…). Enjoy!

 

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!

Bitter-sweet Beetroot with Sexy Spinach Quinoa…

This is a short & sweet, simple recipe. It’s fool proof.  But don’t let that fool you – it’s delicious; tasty and satisfying.  You have my word.

I was inspired when I found this recipe for the beetroot: a baker’s doesn’t original recipe so using 4 medium sized fresh beetroots, I sliced them, drizzled over some balsamic vinegar and honey (just switch this to some agave nectar to make this dish vegan), covered with tinfoil and popped them in a hot oven for 30 minutes, at around 220 degrees.

While they were in the oven, I got onto making the quinoa.  Quinoa is up there as one of my favourite grains, and it’s something that I had never even tried before I went gluten free.  Now, I don’t know how I lived without it – there are so many things you can do with it, and it always tastes amazing. Below is how I made it tonight…

Ingredients:

1 medium onion, finely chopped

1 bell pepper (of any colour – I used orange), finely chopped

1 clove of garlic (a nice fat one, minced or finely chopped)

75g fresh spinach

250g quinoa (dry weight)

600ml hot vegetable stock (I use GF bouillon powder)

Method:

  • In a large pan, gently heat the onion and pepper in a little oil for around 10 minutes, until they soften
  • Stir through the garlic and add the hot stock
  • Add the quinoa to the pan, cover and simmer for 15-20 minutes
  • When there is very little water left to be absorbed, put the spinach on top of the quinoa, cover the pan and allow it wilt for a few minutes.
  • When the spinach is wilted, stir it through the quinoa, and serve…
  • Take the beetroot out of the oven (it should be tender now) and serve with the quinoa – drizzle over any juices left from the beetroot pan!

That’s it. As easy as that.  It’s a perfect mid-week dish when you’re tired from work and need feeding quick.  I got 3 servings out of the above quantities, so it fed me and B tonight, and there’s leftovers for B’s lunch tomorrow. Happy days :)

Homemade Vegetable Lasagne (gluten & lactose free)

Homemade vegetable lasagne, just as it should be; hot, oozy and messy, with garden peas & chunky chips!

I don’t have the inclination to let it rest long enough for the layers to firm up properly. That’s just because I’m greedy and by the time it comes out of the oven I want to just put my face in the lasagne pan.  This is a vegetable lasagne without any weird mycro-protein-whatever-textured-stuff… just vegetables & tomatoes, with a homemade white sauce (made with lactofree milk & cheese, and gluten free flour).  I have been known to make my own pasta sheets for this but tonight I used sainsburys gluten free pasta sheets (dry).

Ingredients:

  • for the vegetables…

2 small yellow onions, finely chopped

1 small red pepper, finely chopped

2 good sized courgettes, chopped

2 cloves garlic, minced / finely chopped

500g carton of tomato passata (sieved tomatoes)

1 bay leaf

1/4 tsp basil

1/4 tsp oregano

1/4 tsp mustard powder

  • for the sauce:

20g plain gluten free flour

200ml stock (COLD!)

200ml lactofree milk

knob of ‘butter’ (or dairy free spread)

100g grated lactofree cheese

black pepper & parsley to taste

  • also…

250g dry lasagne sheets

100g grated lactofree cheese for the top

Method:

Preheat the oven to 200 degrees and start with the vegetables…

  • in a large pan, heat the onion and pepper in a little oil until they start to soften
  • add the courgette and heat for around 5 minutes until it softens
  • add the garlic, stir through, and then add the passata
  • stir in the basil, mustard and oregano, and add the whole bay leaf
  • bring this to a simmer and heat for 10 or 15 minutes before turning off the heat

Meanwhile sort the cheese sauce…

  • add a little milk to the flour and whisk until there are no lumps, then add the rest of the milk
  • mix in the stock, and pour it all into a cold saucepan
  • add the butter to the pan, and heat very gently, whisking, until it comes to a simmer
  • stir in the cheese before adding the parsley and black pepper to taste
  • keep it on a gentle heat, and keep an eye on it while you begin to assemble the lasagne

To layer the lasagne…

  • oil / grease a lasagne pan (24x28cm works well) and cover the bottom with the pasta sheets
  • onto that add a layer of vegetables, then a little cheese sauce on top of that
  • repeat the pasta – vegetables – cheese sauce layering until you come to your last sheets of pasta
  • top the final sheets of pasta with a thick layer of cheese sauce, then sprinkle over the grated cheese
  • pop this in the oven for 30 minutes

Once it’s cooked and the cheese is golden brown, take it out of the oven, and ideally let it rest for 20 minutes – this will allow the layers to firm up and it will be easier to cut and serve… me, I don’t have the patience for that, but if you’re cooking for guests you might want to.

This is one of those dishes that’s so tasty and satisfying, it really doesn’t need meat (or ‘fake’ soya-protein-pretend-meat).  This recipe might come in useful to any omnivores looking to give up meat for lent! :)

SomethingForTheWeekend: Homemade Katsu Curry (gluten & dairy free)

Katsu curry is always someting I’ve loved at Wagamama’s – but theirs isn’t gluten free and always results in me going home doubled over in pain! Here’s a recipe for you to try that won’t leave you in pain and is seriously less complicated than it looks!

The original recipe I used is here: katsu curry, but below is my adapted recipe, to make it gluten free as well as dairy free, and I’ve halved the quantities because I was only cooking for me and hubby (and to suit what I had in the cupboard)

For the sauce:

1/2 tsp cumin seeds

1/2 tsp coriander seeds

1/2 tsp fennel seeds

1 cardamom pod

1/2 tsp ground fenugreek

1/2 tbsp turmeric

1 onion, sliced

1 green pepper, chopped

2cm piece ginger, chopped

1 clove garlic, sliced,

1 green chilli, sliced

200g chopped tomatoes (from a tin)

125ml free range chicken stock

1/2 tbsp honey

1/2 tbsp GF tamari sauce

2 spring onions, chopped

For the Katsu:

2 free range chicken breasts, cut into strips

75g gluten free plain flour (rice flour or any GF flour)

100g gluten free breadcrumbs (I used mrs crimbles)

1 free range egg (lightly beaten)

4 tbsp vegetable oil

(and some long grain rice – 75g per person – for serving with)

Method: (it’s easier than you think!)

  • Toast the cumin seeds, coriander seeds, fennel seeds and cardamom for 1 or 2 minutes (until they smell amazing) and then finely ground in a pestle and mortar, and add the turmeric and fenugreek
  • In a large pan, heat the onion, pepper and ginger in a little oil for 6-8 minutes, untl softened.
  • Add the garlic and chilli, stirring through and allowing to heat for no more than 30 seconds, or the garlic will become bitter.
  • Add the ground spices and tinned tomatoes, followed by the stock
  • Simmer genty for 20 minutes

Meanwhile…

  • Get your flour, breadcrumbs and egg laid out in separate plates / shallow bowls
  • Coat your chicken pieces firstly in flour, then in egg, then in breadcrumbs, and set aside on a clean plate

Back to the sauce…

  • Once the sauce has been heating for around 20 minutes, turn off the heat and allow to cool for a few minutes
  • Transfer to a blender and blend until smooth
  • Pour back into the pan and mix in the honey and soy sauce
  • Keep it on a very low heat until ready to serve

To Finish…

  • If serving with rice, add it to boiling water now (long grain rice, depending on the type, takes between 10 and 20 minutes)
  • Add a few tbsp oil to a frying pan, heat, and add half the breaded chicken (not to overcrowd the pan)
  • Cook the chicken for 3-4 minutes each side,until golden brown & coked through ( cut a large piece open if you’re not sure) then put aside on kitchen towel to drain the excess oil (and repeat for the rest of the chicken)
  • At the last minute, add chopped spring onions to your curry sauce and turn off the heat
  • Serve, a mound of rice, pour over the curry sauce and top with the breaded chicken.

Yum.  It looks like a lot of work, but it’s not if you follow the steps in the right order. It’s such a satisfying curry, perfect for a Friday Night, and who’s to say you can’t change the chicken for another meat… or vegetables (Wagamamas do a fantastic veggie katsu curry with breaded sweet potato, squash and aubergine!) Go on, give it a try!

Food for Lovers: Spicy Chorizo Pasta (gluten & dairy free)

This is what I made for myself and hubby last night, our Valentine’s dinner. It’s the simplicity of Italy married with the fire of Spain. I don’t have a picture of it because, truthfully I got carried away eating it, but if you imagine; pieces of orange pepper and spicy sausage peeking out from under the penne pasta, smothered in blood red sauce with flecks of green basil running through it… you’ve got the idea. There were many reasons why I chose this. Firstly, tomatoes are red; the colour of love & passion. Secondly, meat is a supposed aphrodisiac, and there is little sexier than chorizo.  Lastly, a bowl of pasta is quick to make – which means more time to spend with your OH :)

Ingredients:

200g gluten free pasta (dry weight) – I used corn penne pasta

250g chorizo (chopped however you like)

1 red or orange pepper

5 (approx) medium mushrooms (chopped)

1 stick celery, finely chopped

1 clove garlic (peeled & minced)

400ml tomato passata

1/4 tsp paprika

1/4 tsp cayenne pepper

1/2 tsp basil

Method:

  • Bring a large pan of water to the boil (for the pasta)
  • In a large deep pan, heat chorizo in a little oil, for 4-5 minutes (it will sizzle and spit so be careful)
  • Add the mushrooms, pepper and celery and continue to heat until they soften
  • Add the garlic at the last minute, stir through before adding the passata
  • Season with paprika, cayenne, and basil, then allow to simmer while you cook the pasta
  • Add pasta to the boiling water, and cook until al dente – firm (this is because you will finish cooking the pasta in the sauce)
  • Corn pasta is usually al dente after about 7 minutes, so then drain it and quickly throw it into the sauce, stir through and allow to simmer for 2-3 minutes longer
  • That’s it, serve, and enjoy!

This worked well with a little tapenade of olives and cheese, a mocktail of white grape, elderflower, pomegranate & blueberry juice, followed with strawberries & cherries dipped (seductively of course) in melted dairy free chocolate. Who am I kidding – you can’t dip anything seductively in chocolate because it ultimately ends up all over your face, but it was a nice touch.

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