Sunday, November 20, 2011

Gluten Free Christmas Pudding

My other half is a big fan of Christmas pudding and after two years in Singapore with not a pudding in sight, not that you want to eat something so heavy in the hot weather, I thought it was time to rectify the issue for this coming Christmas. Traditionally Christmas pudding and mincemeat is made on the last Sunday before advent so that there is time to feed the pudding and allow the flavors to develop. As next Sunday is Stir Up Sunday I thought I would post this potentially gluten and dairy free and vegetarian recipe so that anyone who wants to can have a go at making it. Just don't forget to get everyone in the family have a go stirring the pudding and making a wish as is traditional. The recipe I have used is a Rachel Allen recipe that I have amended slightly. As with all Christmas puddings this is time intensive but apart from making sure the pudding doesn't boil dry then it easy and doesn't need you to watch it constantly. Serve with brandy 'butter'.

Thursday, November 17, 2011

Aubergine, Chickpea and Harissa

When I first started blogging I wrote down a list of potential recipes that I enjoy and this was one of the first ones that I thought of. We have been making this as a family for at least 15 years after eating a version of it in a Cathedral cafe and recreating it at home. It was one of the earliest times I had harissa, a north african chilli paste, in a dish and it has been part of my pantry ever since. It was a favourite meal of my mum and me for whenever my dad was working away. We used to eat it with cous cous or bulgar wheat and yoghurt but quinoa or millet makes a good alternative if you need it to be wheat or gluten free. I like to make this dish the day before to allow the flavours to develop and it is perfect as a quick winter supper. If you cannot get ready made harissa paste easily then there is great recipe on serious eats.

Saturday, November 12, 2011

Banana & Date Quinoa Porridge

Here, as promised, is a warming and filling breakfast that is gluten free and dairy free and a great alternative to traditional oat based porridge. Made with quinoa (pronounced keen-wah) it not only has complex carbohydrates but is also rich in protein which helps you feel full for longer. In addition it contains the whole compliment of essential amino acids that the human body needs making it particularly valuable to vegans and vegetarians. It is unsurprising then that the Incas called this 'the mother grain'. Having written about how great quinoa is, I really am at a loss as to why I don't use this more often particularly as it takes no more time to prepare than rice. Now that I have discovered how yummy quinoa porridge is I am looking forward to trying out some different versions with a variety of different fruits, nuts and spices. I like this combination of dates which dissolve to just produce a dark caramel taste and the bananas which helps to make a creamy texture and extra sweet taste. It is also a really helpful recipe to use up over ripe bananas.

Thursday, November 10, 2011

Dairy Free Apple Porridge

Now the mornings are colder I really like a warm breakfast to set me up for the day. I normally would have porridge/oatmeal but as I haven't been eating dairy I kind of dismissed it as an option. Until I remembered that oats cooked in apple juice taste so great that you don't even feel like you are missing out. Even if you can eat dairy this makes a really yummy alternative if you don't fancy something as rich as oatmeal made with milk or cream. I like to add a handful of dried fruit and nuts to add texture and keep me feeling full for longer. I like cranberries and almonds or dried pears and walnuts but whatever you like should be good. I also like using other apple based juices such as apple and raspberry or apple and mango for a more summery version.

I have been meaning to talk about oats and whether they are suitable for those with coeliac disease as although I always thought oats contained gluten I have been seeing packets of rolled oats that state they are gluten free. When I looked into this I found that the reason that most oats aren't classed as gluten free is due to contamination during processing rather than the oats themselves. In summary it seems that some coeliacs can tolerate oats classed as gluten free i.e non contaminated oats. The decision to eat oats is really a personal one which should be made with the help of your health care professionals but if in doubt, leave it out of your diet. If you would like to know more then here is a link to the Coeliac UK's advice as well as a summary of previous research on I will be posting an alternative warm sweet breakfast idea for those who don't eat oats shortly. 

Sunday, November 6, 2011

Hypocras -Spiced Cordial

With the nights drawing in and Christmas just around the corner there is nothing better than sipping a spiced warm drink by the fire. This recipe is ideal for adding to wine, cider, apple juice or even just water. Hypocras is supposedly a medieval drink that involved a variety of spices and sugar. This is a pared down version which uses easily available spices and makes a lighter alternative to the traditional mulling spices.

Thursday, November 3, 2011

Egg and Avocado Salad

Once again I find myself apologising for a extended absence from blogging. I have been feeling rather ill for the last couple of weeks after a bout of stomach flu. It has been a real eye opener to have no appetite and no desire to eat or cook anything. Thank goodness for potato waffles, ginger snaps and litres of ginger beer. Thankfully, I am feeling almost back to normal and can now look at and think about food. I am looking forward to sharing among other things some gluten and dairy free desserts including a Christmas pudding ready for stir up Sunday, a cordial for mulled wine and some interesting veggie dishes that make good use of winter varieties. However, to start November off here is salad recipe that is perfect for a light lunch of supper.

I was a late comer to the joys of avocados. I really couldn't understand what all the fuss was about until I tried this dish for the first time. I only ate it to be polite but after that first bite it wasn't difficult to eat everything on my plate. I have only tweaked this recipe a little bit but credit is due to my boyfriend's mum. I like to serve this salad with crusty bread or toast but you could use it like you would any egg salad. Once over my initial dislike for avocados I realised what a versatile fruit it is suited to both sweet and savoury. I love it in a salad of cucumber, tomato, onion, lime and cilantro or mashed with garlic, basil, lemon and black pepper for a quick pasta sauce and as a dessert you cannot beat mashed avocado with a spoonful of dark brown or muscavado sugar mixed in.