Seriously Good Gluten Free Cooking

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Coeliac disease is triggered by eating gluten, the protein found in wheat, barley, oats and rye. The only way to treat it is to totally embrace a gluten free diet and embrace is scarcely the word – when the diagnosis is confirmed – ones heart sinks at the prospect of life without the yummy foods that we look forward to. Certainly one’s diet has to change but there is no reason to despair. Once the basic elements are understood it’s a question of investing in a new store cupboard of basic ingredients and some reliable recipes and then it should be perfectly possible to reproduce many favourite breads, cakes and puddings. It’ll take a little practice because many of the ingredients feel and react differently but it’s definitely worth the effort. Coeliacs and those with a wheat intolerance need to familiarise themselves with the disease and the sources and foods that contain gluten. A lot of foods and drinks may contain gluten without you even realising it. Some are obvious breads, pasta, flours, cereals and others like fish fingers, sausages, gravies, sauces, soy sauce, some types of mustard powder are not so obvious. These can change daily as food manufacturers alter ingredients, sometimes without notice. The Coeliac Society of Ireland www.coeliac.ie and the British Nutrition Foundation www.nutrition.org.uk monitor the situation on an on-going basis and are an essential resource and support group for coeliacs.

Several good gluten-free cookbooks have been have been written the most recent by well known Phil Vickery. In response to many requests Phil launched a range of Christmas and Winter puddings in 2006. The response was overwhelming (he has sold 10,000 to date) so he continued to experiment and his latest book ‘Seriously Good Gluten Free Cooking’ published by Kyle Cathie is the result. The book includes over 120 flavoursome dishes making the most of fresh wholesome ingredients – all completely safe for people with coeliac disease to eat. From breakfast to snacks, outdoor eating to desserts, here are dishes that many people would never have dreamed they could eat again, including the notoriously difficult area of home-made breads, scones and cakes.

Recognising that many chefs didn’t even know how to spell coeliac (pronounced ‘see-li-ac”) least of all what it was, Phil wanted to write an accessible and inventive cook book to show that gluten-free cooking could be just like and other food and to help people make the most of the special food ranges now available. With extra information on the hidden gluten in store-cupboard essentials, what results is a book that will not only revolutionise the diet of thousands of people with Coeliac disease but will be an essential and trustworthy book for anyone wanting to cut down on their wheat intake.

‘Healthy Gluten Free Eating” that I co-wrote with Rosemary Kearney in 2004 is still available at all good book shops. This book has over 100 really, really delicious recipes and key nutritional and lifestyle recommendations, cooking and shopping tips.

I chose a few recipes from Phil Vickery’s ‘Seriously Good Gluten Free Cooking’ book for you to enjoy.

Salt and Pepper Eggs on Rice Waffles

For the Waffles

Oil, for greasing

2 large eggs

2 tablespoons vegetable oil

250ml milk

250g brown rice flour

Pinch of salt

½ teaspoon gluten-free baking powder

½ teaspoon bicarbonate of soda

For the Eggs

4 rashers streaky bacon, sliced into strips

1 teaspoon vinegar

4 large, very fresh eggs

Cracked black pepper

Sea salt

Handful of fresh basil leaves, shredded

Oil and preheat the waffle maker. Using an electric whisk, blend the eggs, vegetable oil and milk together

Combine the rice flour, salt baking powder and bicarbonate of soda in a bowl. Gradually wish the dry ingredients into the wet mixture until you have a smooth, thickish batter.

Pour one quarter of the batter into the base of the hot waffle iron and cook for about 3 minutes, depending on your waffle iron. When the waffles are done, place them in a warm oven, until you are ready to eat. Repeat with all the remaining mixture.

If you don’t have a waffle iron, use the batter to make four pancakes. Preheat a little oil in a large frying pan and spoon the batter into the pan to make four even-sized pancakes. Cook on one side until golden brown and then flip the pancakes to cook the other side.

Fry the bacon strips in a non-stick pan, until crispy. Next poach the eggs: add the vinegar to a pan of simmering water and carefully crack in the eggs. Poach for about 2 minutes; the yolks should still be soft.

Scoop the eggs out with a slotted spoon, and pop each one on top of a warm waffle. Season with cracked black pepper, a touch of salt on the egg (but not too much the bacon is salty too!) and scatter over the crispy bacon and the basil.

Breakfast Fruit Seed Bars

100g sunflower seeds

100g sesame seeds

100g pumpkin seeds

100g semi dried cranberries

100g semi dried blueberries

100g gluten free porridge oats

2 tablespoons soft brown sugar

1 teaspoon ground cumin

1 teaspoon ground cinnamon

1 teaspoon ground coriander

1 x 397g tin condensed milk

150g unsalted butter, cut into small cubes

Preheat the oven to 180C/Gas 4

Line a 24cm square baking tin with baking parchment

Place the seeds, fruit, oats, sugar and spices in a large bowl and mix well

Put the condensed milk and butter into a bowl and place over a pan of gently simmering water. Melt together until well blended and hot. This will take about 15 minutes

Stir the butter into the fruit and seeds and mix really well

Spoon the mixture into the tin and pack down lightly with the back of the spoon

Bake for about 20 minutes, until slightly golden. Remove from the oven, cool and cut into bars.

Chestnut and Roasted Onion Bread

5 tablespoons olive oil

2 medium onions, finely chopped

3 teaspoons sugar

1 x 7g sachet dried yeast

1 teaspoon xanthan gum

400ml warm water

300g chestnut flour

100g potato flour

½ teaspoon gluten-free baking powder

1 medium egg lightly beaten

Salt and freshly ground black pepper

Oil for greasing

Preheat the oven to 180C/Gas 4

Oil a 900g loaf tin

Heat 2 tablespoons of the olive oil in a frying pan, then add the onions and 2 teaspoons of sugar. Cook down, stirring occasionally until lightly golden. This will take a few minutes. Once cooked set aside to cool.

Add the yeast, xanthan gum and the remaining olive oil to the warm water and stir until dissolved. Combine the flours, remaining sugar, baking powder, 1 teaspoon salt and black pepper in a large bowl and mix well. Add the egg and stir. Next, add the liquid yeast mixture to the bowl and mix well.

Pour into the prepared tin and cook for 30 minutes, or until well risen and lightly browned. Remove and cool slightly, turn out and slice when ready.

Chickpea, Cherry Tomato and Rice Noodle Soup

2 garlic cloves, finely chopped

1 teaspoon finely chopped red chilli

1 tablespoon finely chopped ginger

1 small red pepper, finely chopped

½ small leek, finely chopped

100g button mushrooms, very finely slice

Juice of 2 large limes

750ml boiling water

1 x 10g gluten free vegetable stock cube

50g rice noodles

100ml coconut milk

150g canned chickpeas, well rinsed

12 cherry tomatoes, quartered

4 tablespoons chopped fresh coriander

50g iceberg lettuce, finely shredded

Salt and freshly ground black pepper

Place the garlic, chilli, ginger, pepper, leek, mushrooms, lime juice, water and crumbled stock cube in a large saucepan and bring to the boil. Turn down the heat, and simmer for 10 minutes. Meanwhile, place the rice noodles in a large bowl and cover with boiling water. Leave for 10 minutes to soften, and then drain well.

Add the coconut milk to the mushroom stock, bring back to the boil and season to taste. Add the chickpeas and warm through.

Evenly divide the cooked noodles, cherry tomatoes, coriander and lettuce between 4 bowls. Then ladle in the hot soup and serve.

Gluten Free Pizza Base

1 teaspoon sugar

300 ml lukewarm water

2 x 7g sachets dried yeast

300g gluten-free flour

1 teaspoon xanthan gum

1 level teaspoon gluten free baking powder

1 teaspoon salt

1 tablespoon olive oil

Topping ingredients of your choice!

Dissolve the sugar in half the warm water, stir in the yeast, mix well and set aside for 5 minutes for the yeast to start work and froth.

Place the remaining dry ingredients in a large mixing bowl, add the yeast mixture and oil and mix well, adding the remaining water a little at a time. Mix through until you have smooth, fairly wet dough.

Cover the bowl with a clean cloth and allow the dough to rise in a warm place for about 15 minutes.

Preheat the oven to 200C/Gas 6

Divide the dough in to two balls. Transfer one dough ball onto a sheet of baking parchment. Cover with a second sheet of parchment on top and flatten the dough out between the papers, to form a 20cm. repeat to make another base.

Transfer the bases onto baking trays. Bake the pizza for 8 – 10 minutes and then remove to add the toppings of your choice.

Return the pizzas to the oven, with the toppings and bake for a further 15-20 minutes until bubbling and golden. Serve hot, straight away.

Gluten-Free Pastry

225g gluten-free flour mix

100g butter or margarine, chilled and cut into small cubes

1 teaspoon xanthan gum

Pinch of salt

1 medium egg

Oil or butter for greasing

Preheat the oven to 190C/gas 5. Grease a 23cm round tin. Put all the ingredients, except the egg, into a food processor and mix until you have fine bread crumbs. Add the egg and pulse until the mixture comes together. You may have to add a few drops of cold water. Tip out onto a work surface and knead into a smooth, soft dough.

Shape the dough into a squat sausage, cut out circles and use to press into the base and sides of the tin – use a little rice flour on your hands to stop it from sticking. Line the pastry case with baking parchment and baking beans. Bake for 15 minutes.

Plain Scones

300g gluten free flour mix (see Fool Proof Food)4 teaspoons gluten free baking powder

1 tablespoon caster sugar

2 teaspoons xanthan gum

100 g unsalted butter

2 medium eggs

125ml milk

Salt

Butter for greasing

Flour for rolling out

1 beaten egg for glazing

Strawberry jam and clotted cream to serve

Preheat the oven to 220c/Gas 7

Lightly grease a baking tray

Sift all the dry ingredients and a pinch of salt into a large bowl. Lightly rub the butter into the flour mix. Make a well in the centre of the mixture.

Beat the eggs and milk together and add to the well in the flour and butter. Mix to a soft dough.

Turn out the dough onto a floured surface; press out with the palm of your hand, to about 2cm thick, and then cut out 12 rounds using a 6cm cutter. Gently place on the baking tray and brush with a little beaten egg.

Bake until well risen and golden brown, about 10 minutes.

Remove from the oven and transfer to a wire cooling rack. Eat the scones nice and fresh, sliced and spread with jam and cream.

Fudgy Almond Cake with Mint Syrup and Frosting

200g unsalted butter

200g gluten-free dark chocolate broken into pieces

5 medium eggs, at room temperature, separated

Pinch of cream of tartar

240g caster sugar

1 tablespoon vanilla extract

200g ground almonds

50g chickpea flour

For the syrup

100g caster sugar

4 tablespoons chopped fresh mint

For the frosting

500g mascarpone

50g honeycomb, chopped

100g clear honey

Preheat the oven to 180C/gas 4. Line a 24cm round, 7cm deep, loose bottomed cake tin with baking parchment.

Place the butter and chocolate in a heatproof bowl and melt over a pan of simmering water. Once melted, take the pan off the heat but leave the bowl over the pan to keep the mixture warm.

Place the egg whites and cream of tartar in a bowl and whisk until thick and foamy. Then add half the sugar, and whisk again until creamy and thick

Add the rest of the sugar and whisk until very stiff, but still a creamy consistency. Stir the egg yolks, vanilla extract, almonds and chickpea flour into the warm chocolate and butter, and then straight away add half the meringue, mixing well.

Finally, add the rest of the meringue and fold in.

Spoon into the lined tin and bake for 45 – 50 minutes, or until well risen and firm. Remove from the oven and cool slightly in the tin; it will collapse a little. Make several holes over the surface of the cake with a skewer.

Meanwhile, place the sugar, 100ml water and the mint in a small pan and boil until the sugar has dissolved, then spoon the syrup over the cake and leave to soak in, cool completely.

Fool Proof Food

Gluten-Free Flour Mix

300g fine cornmeal (maize) or chestnut flour

500g brown rice flour

200g cornflour

Mix all the flours together very thoroughly or put into a food processor and pulse until mixed. Store in an airtight container for up to 6 months.

Thrifty Tip

Place used milk cartons around the base of young trees and shrubs to protect the bark from the mower, strimmer or hungry hares.

Hottips

Taste of Dublin 2009

Ireland’s largest food festival – Taste of Dublin – is back for four days of sizzling chef demos, over 100 artisan producers displaying their products and live entertainment. Darina and Rachel Allen are part of the celebrity chef line-up which includes Neven Maguire, Clodagh McKenna and Anthony Worrall Thompson. Pick up tips from each of their unique live cookery demonstrations from 11th – 14th June at the Ineagh Gardens, Dublin 2. www.tastefestivals.ie or telephone (01) 210 9290

Clandeboye Estate Yoghurt

On a recent trip to Belfast I got to taste Clandeboye Yoghurt again, made from the rich milk of pedigree Holstein and Jersey cows. All the yoghurt is made by hand in their small artisan dairy with no added milk powder, cream or thickening agents and has a wonderful natural flavour that earned them a Gold Award 2008 Great Taste Awards and Best New Product 2007 Northern Ireland Food and Drink Awards. Visit

Fund Raising Day at Ballymaloe Cookery School Gardens.

Today all proceeds from ticket sales (€6 for adults, €3 for children) into Ballymaloe Cookery School Gardens will be donated to St John the Baptist Primary School in Midleton, Co Cork, to raise funds for their sports hall.

Chinatown Comes to Cork

The CX Oriental Cash and Carry (opposite Colaiste Stiofain Naofa) stocks just about everything you need for Chinese cookery; including fresh Asian greens, galandal, Chinese sausages, green papayas, won ton wrappers, steamers and woks…telephone (021) 4320860

About the author

Darina Allen
By Darina Allen

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