Monday, 13 October 2014

Easy Peasy Gluten Free Pasta

So after a bit of a bad first experience (check out Pasta Almost Disaster)  with the pasta machine, I've been saying for weeks (actually months) that I need to get over my hump and try again.

Armed with some delicious fresh crab-meat from our local fishmongers I was set on crab ravioli (aiming high then). I wanted something fresh so after a quick search I came across this recipe in the Telegraph:

Crab ravioli with tomato and basil

The filling and the sauce seemed easy enough (although I didn't go to the effort of skinning the cherry tomatoes) but the big dilemma was the pasta. I watched a programme months ago and recalled watching a young Italian make gluten-free pasta claiming you couldn't tell the difference so after another (not quite so quick) search I came across the recipe from Michella Chiappa:

Next dilemma was that I didn't have potato flour and my rice flour was out-of-date. I therefore decided to loosely take this recipe and concoct my own...and it worked a treat!

So if you fancy some delicious gluten-free pasta I would seriously recommend making it. It was really easy, tasted yummy and now means I can be more inventive with ravioli, tortellini and lots of other lovely types of pasta.

Gluten Free Pasta

Wheat Free Yes Gluten Free Yes
Makes 4 servings

100g cornflour
250g GF plain flour (I use doves)
2tsp xanthan gum
4 medium eggs
1 1/2 tbsp olive oil
Pinch of salt
Plain flour for dusting

Making the pasta
  1. To make the dough, add the cornflour, plain flour,  xanthan gum and a pinch of salt to a food processor, then pulse to mix. 
  2. Next, put in your eggs and oil. Blitz until everything is well combined. Knead a little to bind and form a dough, then wrap in clingfilm and rest for 30 minutes.
  3.  If the dough is a bit sticky then lightly dust with flour.
  4. If you are using a pasta roller, take a tennis ball-sized amount of dough, squash it flat with your fingers (remember to keep the rest of your dough covered with the cling film so it doesn't go dry and crusty), push it through the pasta roller on the widest setting. Because there is very little gluten in this flour you will find that the dough crumbles as it comes out of the pasta machine. If it does patch the pieces together gently and push through again on the widest setting. Repeat this step until your dough comes out in one piece. Just have a little patience.
  5. Once it comes out in one piece, fold the sheet into 3 pieces and roll through the widest setting. Repeat 3 times until you have a rough square shape, then start working it through the machine, taking it down one setting at a time, until the thinnest setting. You should end up with a long, wide sheet of pasta. You can also roll this by hand using a rolling pin but you'll need some serious elbow grease to get your pasta sheets really thin (about 1 playing card thick).
  6. Once you have it down to the thinnest setting use the required attachment to cut your pasta. 
  7. Place on a tray dusted with the plain flour to dry a little until ready to cook.
 Cooking the pasta
  • To cook the pasta place in a large pot of boiling salted water and cook until al-dente. For tagliatelle this will only take around 30s, ravioli about 3min.

Monday, 17 February 2014

Wheat free - what does it mean to me?

Hello! It's been a while. I've not done much blogging however I have done plenty pondering. Whilst at a friend's over Christmas (which seems a million miles away now) we got chatting about the ups and downs of recognising (and in many cases admitting to yourself) that something in your diet may not agree with you and the implications of cutting it out.

For me it was wheat. I suffered for years (as far back as being a teenager) however it took a lot of persuasion for me to cut it out. Probably because it seemed such a simple solution (why had the GP never suggested it?) but such a drastic one. And at the time it did feel drastic. Cutting out sandwiches, pasta, cakes...all the things I love.

Anyway, this post is about focusing on the positives so here goes. So what does having a wheat intolerance (or "special dietary requirement" as it's referred to) mean to me? Here are my top ten.

It means
  1. Being more in control of what you are eating (as you know what all the "hidden ingredients" are).
  2. Cooking fresh and never relying on ready made meals.
  3. Having lovely home baked goodies every week.
  4. Having more variety, especially at lunchtime. Sandwiches are replaced with soups, salads, baked potatoes or little pots of leftovers from dinner the night before.
  5. Going to a party and not being to eat all the sandwiches, sausage rolls and nibbles from the buffet - but then going home and feeling good that you haven't eaten all the sandwiches, sausage rolls and nibbles from the buffet!
  6. A sense of satisfaction when people taste your food and "can't taste the difference"
  7. Going to a restaurant and liking the fact they go the extra mile with the Gluten Free menu (and trust me, many do these days).
  8. Going to nice coffee shops and having lemon drizzle (polenta) cake or not feeling guilty about eating the crispy cakes meant for kiddies.
  9. Adapting menus and publishing my own ones.
  10. Keeping this blog and writing about my own experiences.

Wednesday, 6 November 2013

Fabulous Flapjacks

So I hear on the grapevine (well twitter) that Hugh will be rustling up some banana flapjacks tonight on River Cottage Fruit. Well I am afraid to say I won't be following the recipe as I have my very own which I think is the best! I would love to have a battle of the flapjacks but I'm up here in Fife and with Hugh down there in Devon I don't think it's going to happen soon!

With two sons who compete regularly at athletics we find these are a great snack, especially with a son who won't eat bananas but will eat flapjacks packed with them!

Anyway here's my tried and tested recipe.

Wheat Free Yes Gluten Free No
Makes 30  

Ingredients(plain flapjack)

350g butter 
280g demerara sugar
1/2 tin condensed milk
2bsp syrup
500g porridge outs

Optional Extras
2 ripe bananas, mashed
Chopped dried apricots
Chocolate chunks
Pumpkin seeds
Anything you fancy really!

1. In a large pan melt the butter and sugar over a low heat.
2. Stir in the condensed milk and syrup.
3. Take the pan off the heat and stir in the oats.
4. Add any extras (at this point I usually split the mix in two and make two different flavours, a particular favourite of ours is cranberry, apricot and coconut pictured abouve).
5. Put in two baking trays lined with baking parchment. Even the mix out but don;t press down too hard.
6. Bake in the oven for approximately 15min or until the edges start to brown. Don't overcook
7. Leave in the trays until cold then cut into squares.
8. Enjoy!


Tuesday, 29 October 2013

Fresh Veg Alert!

Everyone will probably get fed up with me banging on about fresh veg soon but I can't believe how excited I get coming home from work on a Tuesday night. I couldn't wait to get in tonight to find out what veg had been delivered and week two was as inviting looking as week one...long may it continue.

So this week's veg fest from The Little Veg Company consisted of:

Onions (both red and white)
Red pepper
Yellow pepper
Savoy cabbage
Celeriac (an old favourite of mine)
Beetrot (a new favourite of mine...nothing to do with making beetroot brownies last week!)

I also added a fruit box to my order and again this was exceptional value for money with bananas, apples, pears, plums, oranges, tangerines and grapes all for just £10.

Before I had my jacket off I was turning on the oven ready to roast the pumpkin for soup. I also diced up the leftover squash from last week. My recipe is here Pumpkin & Squash Soup Recipe to raid the recipe books and decide what to do with the rest...

Pumpkin Soup

With Halloween looming what better than a lovely bowl of pumpkin soup.

Wheat Free Yes Gluten Free Yes
Makes lots

1 small pumpkin
1 small butternut squash
Drizzle of olive oil
1 large onion
2 celery sticks
3 cloves garlic
1tsp ground cumin
1/2 tsp ginger
1 chilli
2 litres vegetable stock

1. Prepare the pumpkin and squash for roasting. I find the easiest way is to cut into large chunks/slices with the skin left on. Drizzle with olive oil and put on a baking tray.
2. Cover with foil and roast at 200oC until tender. The time depends on the size of the chunks but usually around 30-40min.
3. Whilst the veg is roasting, finely chop the onion and celery. Crush the garlic and finely chop the chilli.
4. Add to a large pan with a drizzle of olive oil. Cover and sweat until the onion and celery have softened (but not browned).
5. Add the cumin and ginger and give a good mix.
6. Add the stock and simmer for 40min.
7. Remove the flesh from the roasted veg and add to the stock.
8. Cook for 5min then blitz in a food processor until smooth.
9. Serve with a drizzle of cream and some toasted pumpkin seeds.
10. Enjoy! 

This soup works well with other root vegetables such a parsnip.