Welcome all, fill your tum with my num num nums.

Gluten, Dairy & Legume free recipes; some by design, others are just nice recipes that happen to be! There are recipes and also shopping 'finds', all of which are good for free from people and all yummy whether you are following a particular diet or not! Just because something is 'free from' doesn't mean everyone can't enjoy it - and you may be surpised at how much happier your body is.

'Special' is how my friends describe my food and me, I don't think it's entirely complimentary!

Sunday, 30 January 2011

Roast Chicken a la Fanny Craddock

Saw a Fanny Craddock show before xmas on Good Food (which I watch way too much of) and scribbled this tip down. Finally got round to trying it today & it was good, which I should have expected! I mean she was very bossy, but she knew her stuff!

Not really a recipe but a change when it comes to roast chicken. I usually cover the top with bacon but this was a nicer, subtler flavour with fantastic crispy skin.

Basically she put pancetta & whole mushrooms (no stalk, skin still on) under the skin of the chicken breast. Basically slip your fingers under the skin to make a pocket, slip some ham in (i used a slice of ham per breast on a 1.3kg chicken) and then the whole mushrooms (i used 2 chestnut mushrooms per breast). At this point the chicken will look mutant!

I then did some of my 'usual' roast chicken routine: I squeezed half a lemon over the bird then stuck the other half in the cavity with some garlic. A little bit of olive oil drizzled over followed by some chicken spice blend.

Roast in the oven (i do 20 minutes per 450g + 20 mins at 200c and it is normally done before time) and the mushrooms will flatten out to nothing. In fact by the time you come to carve there will be practically nothing under the skin except moist & tasty chicken.

This will be how I roast chicken from now on. I didn't take any pics (sorry) but trust me it's good!

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Tuesday, 25 January 2011

Chocolate Almond Promise Ice Nohm

Almonds are a symbol of promise, hence the name. The picture I think may get gold in the worst ever food photo though!

If you can't get the Almond Lindt*, any similar chocolate would work or some plain chocolate & toasted almonds.

Tin of coconut milk
1/4 cup sugar
1/4 cup cocoa powder
Pinch of salt
1/2 tsp vanilla extract
1/2 tsp almond extract
1/2 tsp xantham gum
Bar of Lindt roasted almond chocolate*
Mix together all the ingredients except the Lindt and put in your ice.cream maker. Once it is at Mr Whippy stage, break up the chocolate & stir it in.

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Yesterday I got my first nibble box from graze.com - loving it! Basically they post you a letterbox friendly box of snacks at a frequency to suit you (weekly, daily or in between) and you can adjust you preferences to select what you get, nuts, seeds and dried fruit (some with chocolate in :-) and some of it's dark) are a given but also olives and lots of things that aren't suitable unfortunately like flap jacks, focaccia bits (they say gluten free ones are coming soon but they are all covered in cheese so prob not much use) and crackers (mostly peanut :-().

Worth it for the convenience of having healthy snacks on your desk at work and hopefully they will start to consider the dairy and gluten free market at some point - especially as they have healthy diet and weight loss boxes. Lets hope it is before I get bored with the fruit/nut/seed/olive options!

If your reading this graze.com can I suggest rice snacks that aren't peanut, gluten free pretzels (because I like them!), gluten free or very low gluten flapjacks that don't have butter in them and making some gluten free focaccia bits and not putting cheese on them?

I have added a link to graze below.

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Sunday, 23 January 2011

Lasagne di Casetta

Aka cottage lasagne! No mashed potato but it kinda looks like cottage pie! Well a bit - it gave me a name OK?

This was a first go and I didn't expect it to turn out this well so I didn't really measure! I will do another one again soon and add proper measurements in. The only things i'll be changing next time are; checking I have enough lasagne sheets before I start (it could have done with another layer I think), a bit more spinach and making the polenta more mushroomy (maybe some dried ones in there).

It looks like a lot of stages but they are all easy and don't take long.

For the ragu:
450g minced beef
Third of tin of easy onions
100g salami
Small handful chopped mushrooms (I used 1 flat mushroom)
350g passata
Garlic infused olive oil
Oregano (i used dried)

For the lasagne:
Gf lasagna sheets
100g spinach
Half cup of easy cook polenta
Handful of mushrooms
2 tbsp nutritional yeast flakes (or your preferred cheese substitute)
Garlic infused olive oil
Parsley (i used frozen)

Present the oven to 200c

Fry the mince in the oil until browned, adding the salami, onions and mushrooms. Add oregano & seasoning then stir in the passata and simmer until its the right consistency.

You need to cook the spinach now, Microwaved in its bag, sauteed - however you want and let it drain.

Finally make the polenta according to the packet (bit wetter though) - you don't want to do it too far ahead of assembly as it will go solid and won't spread. Fry the mushrooms in the garlic oil and add to the polenta when done along with plenty of seasoning, the parsley and the flakes. Mix well.

Put a layer of pasta sheets in your dish followed by a layer of meat. (Another layer of pasta then meat would have been better!) Then arrange the spinach on top. A layer of pasta and then the last of the ragu. For the final layer spread over the polenta & sprinkle with s&p and some more flakes.

In the oven, half an hour at 200c (but check your pasta instructions.)

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Tuesday, 18 January 2011

Lapin au Vin a la mijoteuse

Otherwise known as rabbit cooked with wine in the slow cooker. Possibly one of the worst pics I have taken although brown stuff is hard to make look nice! I have also managed to make the polenta look unappetising and you can't really see the brocolli!

This dish was based on a coq au vin recipe, and I mainly did it because I had over half a bottle of red wine left and I don't drink it! I love rabbit and it is only £3.50 for a whole one in the market. I generally work at a rabbit serving 3-4 people and this did 3 meals (me & my friend then left overs for me) and then I made the remainder into pasta sauce with some tinned tomatoes (possibly even nicer than the original dish!).I prepped everything the night before, put the rabbit in the wine & garlic oil to marinate over night (I don't think you have to do this at all) then chucked everything in the slow cooker in the morning, leaving it to cook while I worked.

2 red onions, quartered
100g (ish) button mushrooms, halved
1 rabbit, cut into 6 pieces
6 rashers smoked back bacon, cut into strips
garlic infused olive oilhalf - 2/3 bottle of red wine
150 ml chicken stock
2 tbsp chopped parsley

  • If you are prepping the night before & marinating put the rabbit in a bowl with the wine, garlic oil, seasoning & some parsley, the prep the veg & bacon & pop it in a bowl.
  • When it comes to it, turn your slow cooker on & chuck everything in.You can fry the bacon first if you like
  • I served this with som quick cook polenta, always an easy option!

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Monday, 17 January 2011

Pink & Fluffy Dotty Choccy Ice Nohm

Otherwise known as double choc 'ice cream' with a raspberry marshmallow swirl.

I  decided that I needed a new name for my 'ice cream' recipes and helped by my tweeps and google I am calling them Ice Nohm. The ice bit is obvious but the Nohm comes from the Thai for coconut milk - nohm gkati - I did say google was involved! When I saw the word Nohm I knew it had to be involved! I tend to use coconut milk, as it has a creamyness that rice milk for example doesn't and doesnt taste coconutty if you have other flavours in.

This recipe came about because my friend Sarah came round for tea last night & when I got home I realised I didn't have anything for pudding. I keep the bowl part of my ice-cream maker in the freezer so thought I would knock up some Ice Nohm (not that I had named it that then!). The basic Ice Nohm recipe is easy and I just added what I had in the cupboard & thought would go! 

When I first started making Ice Nohm I thought it was the Coconut Cream which made it creamy but it is the Xantham Gum I think. The Coconut Cream mainly adds calories! I will go back tio my previous recipes and take it out I think - and change them to Ice Nohm! Generally ice cream made from 1 tin of coconut milk will make enough for 2-3 people depending on the bits you put in!

I must credit Sarah in part for the name, it took us a while of bouncing ideas to come up with one we liked! The photo's a bit rubbish & I must have taken it from a pink side as it was actually mainly chocolate with a pink ribbon through it. Bad dishing up maybe!

Choc Ice Nohm mix
Tin of coconut milk
1/4 cup sugar (you can swap this for the sweetner of your choice such as agave which I use sometimes but the fluff is so full of sugar it is not worth worrying!)
1/4 cup good cocoa powder
Pinch of salt

1 tsp Vanilla Extract

1/2 tsp xanthan gum

Extra Bits
Chocolate Chips (I used a pack of Dr Oetkers which are 100g but anywhere around that amount is fine!)
2 big tbsp Raspberry Fluff (Fluff is an american marshmallow spread which you can get in places like Selfridges or online in the UK. It has no nutritional value whatsoever but I don't care coz I like it. The original white one with chocolate spread on a crumpet <insert Homer Simpson noise here>)

Obviously you need to take into account your ice cream makers instructions as well here.
  • whish together the mix ingredients, this is especially important with the choc one as the cocoa can go a bit lumpy. You want a smooth consistency.
  • Once it is mixed tip it into the ice cream maker.
  • When it is still soft, like Mr Whippy consistency, stop the machine and with a spatula stir in the chocolate chips and then swirl in the fluff. You are aiming for a ribbon of fluff through the chocolate which is admittedly not very clear on my pic, so you dont want to mix it in nor do you want 1 big blob.
  • At this point you can put it in the freezer in a tub to firm it up or eat it - it depends how sloppy you like your ice cream!
  • I served this in dark chocolate cups (which kinda look like chocolate cupcake cases) which I admittedly bought from sainsburys rather than made! They are an easy way to posh-up ice cream!

Friday, 14 January 2011

Pannetone Pudding

I am starting my 'getting up to date weekend' with a post that is shamelessly pandering to my twitter followers! I made this yesterday so it is not really catching up with the back log, It was very nice and I had it last night with baked plums and a bit on it's own cold for mid morning snack! This is based on my cool aunties bread and butter pudding, and if you are determined to put poison in your system you could swap back to cows milk. Tried hemp milk for the first time this week, am not sure about it really - but it worked well in this. I used a gluten free panettone which I have only seen in my mums local sainsburys (though a bit of research  found the company - click on the title) but any fuity cakey bread would do. The amount of panettone wasn't quite enough for the custard so something bigger would be good, unless you like it custardy!. Obviously in the Bread & 'Butter' pudding the bread was buttered but with the panettone being so rich I didn't feel the need. Think I should give it another name really, seeing as I have diverted from the bread and the butter bits ... Italian Custardy Blankets  maybe? feel free to suggest.
Panettone or the like - I used a mini 180g panettone but reckon about 300g would have been right, sliced
1/2 pint hemp or other dairy free milk (oh if you have to, animal milk)
Grated rind of half a lemon

2oz caster sugar

3 eggs
Grated nutmeg

Preheat the oven to 180c.

  • Grease a baking dish of some fine then slice the panettone - good luck, mine fell apart terribly!
  • Arrange it in the dish - you want to have bits poking up so you get crispy bits.
  • Mix together the milk, caster sugar, lemon and a sprinkle of nutmeg- the easiest way it to measure the milk in a large jug and add everything else.
  • Either - whisk the eggs and add or stick the eggs in and stir hard (guess which one I did). Whisking the eggs first will give you a fluffier mixture to be honest.
  • Pour the custard mix over the bread, squidging down a bit, sprinkle over more nutmeg and let it sit for a bit. Bread & Butter Pudding type things are always that bit nicer when they have a bit of time to soak up first, the amount of time you give it really depends on how long you have, how impatient you are & how hungry you are - it will still be nice if you don't. 
  • Bake in the oven for 30-40 minutes - it should be set and a bit browned on top - or if you're like me you're gonna want a few burnt bits!
  • Good with some fruit or custard. Or of course, both.

Monday, 10 January 2011

Why I cook (and why I blog about it)

Inspired by the post at Elanas Pantry (click on the title to go there) I had a think about why I cook. The big answer is simple - I love to eat. A bit too much to be honest, I am edging above (again) my fighting (ie look my hottest) weight at the moment! Bought a couple of things (understatement) in M&S at the weekend as I had a credit note from Christmas and it was a pleasure - I am still a 12 in there, their sizes are always on the more generous side!

I cooked a bit before starting the Best Bet Diet but it was after that I really started getting into it: it was so much harder to buy really nice stuff, any sort of variety and the prices were shocking. The gluten free cakes and brownies on offer? I could make better. Pasta sauce, curry sauce etc - no variey, over priced and what the hell is in there anyway? Once you start reading labels to check it is free from Gluten, Dairy and Legumes you start to notice all the other stuff thats in there and if it doesnt sound like food I don't want it in my body! Oh and my favourite rant - is rice pwder really twice as expensive as milk? Oh and just because my food is healthy and I have cut out some things doesn't mean I want to eat twigs and leaves! Oh and .... I could go on but will spare you for now.

Once I started to get into it I started to really enjoy it; it really is relaxing, I get a great sense of achievement out of something that turns out great (especially cakes, though that may also be the anticipation of eating them) and I am a total feeder: I love to dish up something tasty to friends and family (though you may notice in other posts that my family as a whole aren't foodies) and have them enjoy it and go away with full tummies. Like Nigella* I am never knowingly under catered and it is very rare that there aren't a LOT of left overs. In fact there have been occasions where the left overs were enough to do the whole party again. Sometimes of course the left overs are on purpose coz I want them! There is also the Greys style baking as substitution :-) if you dont watch Greys Anatomy then I will leave it to you imagination I think!

I love cookery programmes, watch way to much of the Good Food channel, set my Sky+ for the new series of Jamie, Nigella, Ina Garten etc (noone too fancy I am a home cook not a chef!) or Supersizers and have a mass of cookery books and a drawer full of recipes I have pulled out of magazines and papers (sometimes mine, sometimes other peoples to their annoyance no doubt) which I simply must try and get excited about trying new things but always trying to find a cheats way to do it! Home cooking to me is not about impressing people (though I do like to show off a bit occasionally, who doesn't!) it's about enjoying the process and the product and entertaining should be pleasurable for you and your guests! I shall save the story of me showering myself in aubergine dip for another post! Noone enjoys a get together where the host is a red faced, strung out, panicked bunny - not the host and not the guests.

The blogging started when people started asking me for recipes in a 'my niece can't eat dairy how do you make chocolate cake' or 'mmmmmm I want to make those' type way - I figured it was easier to stick them all somewhere central than keep typing out emails and it would give me something to go back to when I wanted to do something again. I also thought it would get me back into a bit of writing; I remember planning to write a best selling novel at some point but life kind of got in the way. Brevity, as you can see, was never my strong point! I've kind of lost my way with the blogging; I tried to keep to the facts and that wasn't fun to write and then I got behind ...This year, a New Years Resolution if you will, I am determined not to just get up to date but to enjoy it, it's my blog and if I want to talk about the fantastic shoes I bought while the cake was cooling I will. I love shoes :-).

So I shall continue to cook and bake (not too much baking while the christmas pounds are still hanging around) and blog and eat, and eat some more ... I hope you all enjoy reading and try some of the recipes, I know Sarahs Chocolate Orange Cake has been a success for quite a few! Don't be shy about commenting when you've had a go; some of my best ideas have been nicked off other people ;-)

If you do a 'why do I cook' blog post link back so the trail leads back to the originator!

PS I have no idea who Michael Ruhlman is! Anyone want to comment?
* I think it was Nigella, but my memory is not to be trusted

Sunday, 9 January 2011

Spaghetti con mussels (i can't remember what mussels is in Italian - I know clams are vongole)

This is my easy version of a recipe that you can find more complicated versions if that's the way you roll. Personally I think this way tastes great and though in the hands of a michelin starred chef or an Italian nonna the longer way probably tastes epic, I doubt mine would be much improved. I didn't cook enough spaghetti though and unfortunately in my world eating a smaller portion doesn't mean weight loss it means too many chocolates in front of the telly. The picture is very badly lit - sorry!

I did this for me so just x by the amount of people you are serving. I was a bit haphazard with the measurements (ie didn't really measure) so don't feel the need to stick to them too carefully! Italians don't generally have cheese with seafood so you don't need to miss it or apologise for not passing it round.

Garlic olive oil
1/4 of an onion diced (i used a big spoonful of my beloved Eazy Onions)
About 500g mussels, washed, debearded, open ones thrown away
100g chopped tomatoes
70ml water or wine
Couple of tbsp of chopped parsley (waitrose do a handy pouch of frozen chopped parsley that you can just scoop some out of & voila! They do other herbs too which will no doubt find their way into my freezer)

Get the water on for the spaghetti. In a large deep fry pan with a lid fry the onions in the garlic oil before adding the tomatoes, water/wine, pepper and a spoon of parsley. Get it to bubbling point, add the mussels, shake and pop the lid on. Shake every so often. Put the spaghetti in. Once the mussels are open take the lid off and reduce the sauce, take out any that haven't opened and any empty shells (I encouraged some to come out to make it easier to eat!). When the spaghetti is done, drain it and add it to the sauce stirring (i read somewhere that it should be pasta to sauce not sauce to pasta, I can't remember where!). Add the second lot of parsley and stir in. Serve, eat, break out the chocolate.

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Enoki Mushroom Stir Fry

I've missed my Saturday morning trips to the market while I've been down south over Xmas but got back into my usual routine this morning. I usually have a few recipes planned before I go (chosen after my weekly email from Eat The Seasons - link below) but leave leeway for there being something I have to have! Today it was first to what I call 'the chicken stall' (I'm sure that's not what they call it and they do game etc as well) for rabbit* and venison*, the fish market for some mussels* then to Ted's fruit & veg stall where they know me well! They always want to know what I'm making and if they have something special put some aside for me. Today it was some very reasonably priced Enoki mushrooms - a shared love of sushi was discussed with Rob and how they could be used - but its Saturday so I went for the easy option. I got some asparagus (out of season but I can never resist), spring onions and red pepper then went to see the guy I get my beef from for a bit of steak. A very tasty lunch and it was nice to get away from the Xmas stodge though I did ruin that a bit with the 2 cookies after! Ok, 3 cookies.

A handful of Enoki mushrooms
Third of a red pepper, cut into strips
3 spring onions, halved lengthwise then halved or thirded
4 asparagus stalks, tips cut off then as the onions
Piece of steak, cut into strips
Tsp ginger matchsticks ( I use the lazy ginger - life is too short to chop ginger for a knocked together stir fry)
Tip of a Tsp of chopped Chilli (lazy again coz I am!)
Garlic oil
Sesame oil

In a wok I fried the ginger & Chilli in a generous slug of garlic oil before adding the onions and red pepper then the steak strips and asparagus, seasoning well - I do like my salt. Once these were done to my liking I added the mushrooms and a liberal sprinkling of sesame oil, stirring well to combine and served. HOWEVER LONG YOU THINK THE MUSHROOMS TAKE, THEY TAKE LESS! And, treat sesame oil as a flavour at the end rather than a cooking oil (if I give advice like that I learnt it from a rubbish experience, so trust me I'm not being a foodie nazi!) Nom nom nom - kind of wish I'd got 2 packets but sometimes things are nice because you don't have them loads and I know tomorrows stir fry wouldn't have been as nice!

*these are for recipes which should be on here soon - 1 thanks to recipe rifle -my favourite food blog. I am determined to get up to date this weekend!
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Thursday, 6 January 2011

Christmas Dinner - anally organised but panic free*

Anal doesn't even begin to describe my organisation for this, the first Christmas Dinner I had done for the family and I wanted it to be perfect! I had everything planned out of post it notes, that were in time order so I just worked through them and did what I was told at what time! It came out well so everyone was happy!

The made bits will get their own post but the sausages were M&S - posh chipolatas, gluten free which I wrapped in bacon and Waitrose ready made gravy* also free from though not by design I think! The roast vegetables I don't think deserve a post of their own - they were par boiled (potatoes and carrots 10 mins, parsnips 5) then put in some hot hot goose or duck fat in the oven 40 minutes before the turkey was done then turned up high while the turkey is resting. Thanks to Jamie for those timings, my brother is an international roast potato expert and he thought they were good! I am not even going to start on the sprout arguement - do them your way! We just had a turkey crown and I sat it on a bed (well anal rows of) leek, celery and carrott with half and orange in it's cavity and some rather fantastic Maple Cured Bacon on the top off which I took off towards the end to brown the top! Oh and I did it wrapped in tin foil for most of the time.

* I do normally make my own gravy but my family are heathens when it comes to food and I knew I'd be manic so I cheated - I have no guilt over making life easier! Sent from my HTC
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i'm rubbish ... but I promise to try harder

Ok, I know I have been rubbish and I won't make excuses but I promise to try harder. This weekend I will sit down and start getting up to date and then I will make something extra nice to make up for it!

Biscuits maybe - I haven't done any biscuits yet!