Gluten Free Homemade Mincemeat and Mince Pies

There is now a good selection of gluten free mince pies available in stores but there is nothing like making homemade mincemeat or mince pies to make your whole house smell like Christmas, that boozy, fruity aroma spiced with nutmeg, cinnamon and ginger is better than any seasonal candle to set the festive mood.

Making your own mincemeat also gives you control over what goes in to your pies. If you don’t like currants ( fruit of the devil in my eyes) than you don’t need to add currents, you can substitute another dried fruit instead, if you hate candied peel you can use something else, in the past I have used dried papaya, pineapple and mango instead of mixed peel and the results were delicious. I use flaked almonds in my mincemeat, my Mum prefers chopped almonds. As long as the quantities work you can feel free to experiment.

What makes this Gluten Free is that I use lard rather than suet as suet is often dusted with flour to stop it sticking, if you want a vegetarian version of this you could use butter, for vegan you could uses coconut oil. Prep your jars by washing thoroughly and leaving to dry in a low temperature oven, Gas 1 or the equivalent. Store the mincemeat in a cool dry place.

Ingredients
400 grams of raisins
400 grams of sultanas
115 grams of dried cranberries
115 grams of dried cherries
350 grams of soft dark brown sugar
4 teaspoons of mixed spice
½ teaspoon of ground cinnamon
½ nutmeg grated
50 grams of slivered almonds
450 grams cooking apples, peeled, cored and grated.
225 grams of lard, grated
Zest and juice of 2 lemon
Zest and juice of 2 oranges
6 tablespoons of brandy


1. Place the dried fruit, sugar, spices and almonds in a bowl and stir with a fork to combine.

 

2. Add the grated apple, grated lard, the zest and juice of the lemons and orange and stir through the fruit until thoroughly mixed.

3. Cover the bowl and leave to sit in a cool, dry place for 12 hours or overnight.

4. Heat your oven to Gas ½, 120c / 225, and place the mincemeat in an oven proof dish. Cover loosely with foil and place in the oven for 3 hours. This process melts the lard which will then coat the fruit preventing fermentation taking place.

5. Remove the mincemeat from the oven and leave to cool completely, stirring now and then to stop the lard from setting in pools, you want to make sure the lard is evenly distributed and fully coats the fruit.

6. When the fruit is cool stir in the brandy and spoon in to your prepared jars. Cover with wax discs and seal tightly.

Store the jars in a cool dry place until you are ready to use it. Try to give the mincemeat at least a few weeks to mellow and for the flavour to develop before using.

 

Once the mincemeat has mellowed for a couple of weeks you can start making the pies.
A good mince pie should be full of flavour, ideally a bit sticky from syrupy juices that have bubbled up over the crust during baking, it should be golden brown, crisp and very moreish.

The pies I make use a pastry that is a version of the pastry I make for quiche and savoury tarts as I find it stands up well to a rich fruit filling. This basic recipe is sweetened with sugar, orange zest and juice and a sprinkling of cinnamon sugar to give it a seasonal flavour.

Ingredients
12 ounces Doves Farm Gluten Free plain flour
1 &1/2 teaspoons Xanthan Gum
¼ teaspoon of salt
2 tablespoons of caster sugar
3 ounces of butter, chilled
3 ounces of lard, chilled
Zest and juice of one large orange

1 egg beaten for egg wash
1 tablespoon caster sugar mixed with a ½ teaspoon of ground cinnamon for sprinkling

  1. In a bowl stir together the flour, sugar, xanthan gum, salt and orange zest. Grate or cut in the chilled butter and lard. Rub in the fats with your fingers until you have a fine breadcrumb consistency
  2. Make a well in the centre and add enough of the orange juice to make a nice firm dough, if you don’t get enough juice from your orange you can add a bit of water.Wrap the dough in cling film and allow to chill in the fridge for at least a half hour.
    While the dough is chilling pre heat the oven to Gas 6, 200, 400f
  3. Butter your baking sheet, I use a bun tray as I like a deep filled mince pie but use whatever mould you like.
  4. Remove the dough from the fridge and place on a floured surface, roll it out to a thickness of about ¼- ½ cm.
  5. Using a pastry cutter or a giant wine glass, cut the pastry to fit your baking tray.
  6. To top the pies you could use another circle of pastry to make a completely closed in pie, you could use a star cutter or any other shape you like or you could cut your pastry in to strips and create a lattice work effect on the pie.
  7. Fill each pie with about a teaspoon and a half of mincemeat and brush the edges and the top of the pie with the egg-wash.
  8. Sprinkle the surface of the pie with the cinnamon sugar mix and pop the trays in the oven. This amount of pastry made 2 trays of 12 pies and I swapped shelves halfway through the baking to ensure even cooking.
  9. Bake for 15 – 20 minutes, keep an eye on them towards the end of the baking time as they can go from pale gold to charred in a matter of minutes.

These pies freeze really well, just defrost and heat in a warm oven and they should crisp up nicely. Enjoy on their own, with a good dollop of whipped cream, or brandy butter but definitely enjoy them with good company and as much festive cheer as you can muster.

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Gluten Free Christmas Pudding

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Yes it has been quite a while since I posted a recipe here but 2017 found me in a job I absolutely loved that took up a lot of my time and left me with very little time for cooking anything that wasn’t a tried and true quick dinner, usually something that could be served in a bowl and eaten while half asleep on the couch. Coming in to the winter the pace of life has slowed and I am getting reacquainted with my kitchen, just in time for Christmas too! To get things started here is a repost of a Gluten Free Christmas Pudding but there will be some new recipes in the coming weeks.

Here is the recipe for the beautiful Christmas pudding first made for me by my Mum from a recipe by  Nevin Maguire.

This is Nevin’s recipe with three tweaks, the first is that he calls for rice flour, I didn’t have any and as it was only 50 grams I used my Plain Gluten Free flour, second, he uses mixed peel and I abhor mixed peel, it is vile stuff so I substituted dried cherries, thirdly he uses rum but to me Christmas baking is all about brandy so that is what I used. If you like the sound of the original recipe I will include those ingredients so you can choose your own adventure.

 

Ingredients
This makes one 1.1 litre pudding

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140 grams gluten free bread crumbs. I whizzed up some of the Aldi white bread for this.
50 grams of Doves Farm Gluten Free Plain Flour (or rice flour)
½ teaspoon of ground cinnamon
1 teaspoon of ground mixed spice
½ teaspoon gluten free baking powder
50 grams of ground almond
100 grams light muscovado sugar

200 grams of raisins
200 grams of sultanas
50 grams of dried cherries, roughly chopped (or mixed peel)

100 grams of butter, melted
100grams cooking apples, peeled and grated (about 1 large apple)
100 grams carrots, peeled and grated

Zest of half a lemon
Zest of half and orange
2 eggs
1 tablespoon of black treacle
2 tablespoons of brandy (or rum)

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1. Butter your pudding bowl and line the base with baking grease proof paper

  1. Sift together the flour, spices and baking powder
  2. Pour over the melted butter and stir to combine
  3. Add in the dried fruit & cherries, grated carrot & apple, brown sugar, bread crumbs and ground almonds, mix thoroughly
  4. Warm the treacle slightly and add the eggs, brandy and zest and whisk to combine
  5. Add the treacle mix to the fruit /flour mix and give the whole lot a good stir
  6. Spoon the mix in to the prepared pudding bowl and line the top with a piece of grease proof paper, cover the top of the pudding bowl with a double thickness of grease proof paper and secure the paper tightly with a piece of string, cover this with a layer of tinfoil or the lid of your pudding bowl.
  7. Place the bowl in a large pot and fill the pot with hot water until it is up to two thirds of the side of the pudding bowl. Bring the water to a steady strong simmer and put on the lid on the pot, steam the pudding for four hours until the pudding has risen and the surface is firm to the touch. Check the level of the water every now and then and top up with hot water as needed.
  8. Once the pudding is cooked remove the foil and grease proof paper and recover the pudding with fresh layers of each. Store your pudding somewhere dry and cool and when you are ready to reheat steam the pudding again for two hours.

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Serve this warm with fresh whipped cream, ice cream, custard or brandy butter.

Gluten Free Goats Cheese Cornbread

There is something deeply comforting about a good cornbread, it has substance, is savoury but has a slight sweetness to it, the texture and flavour means it stands up well to thick soups, stews and chilli’s and on its own, still warm from the oven, slathered in butter it is a delight.

Plain cornbread is great but on occasion it is nice to guild the lily a bit and add some extra flavours. I was looking for something to bring to an afternoon get together, something that could be cut in to small squares and left on a table to be grabbed by people as they passed. Given that so much of Deb Perelman’s cooking is about food as something to be shared social events I went straight to Smitten Kitchen where I found this recipe and adapted it ever so slightly by using gluten free flour and psyllium husk and also adding a scattering of crumbled goats cheese over the top of the bread before it went in the oven.

This worked really well with the gluten free flour, it had a soufflé like center, light and moist and it didn’t crumble and fall apart when cut which can sometimes happen with home baked gluten free breads. It was also delicious and very moreish, the only change I would make for the next time I bake this would be to stir the onions through the batter rather than scattering them on top as some of my onions charred a bit.

This is a recipe you have to start the night before you want to eat the bread so bear that in mind!

If you don’t have an oven safe skillet would can also make this in a 10” cake tin.

Ingredients

 

6 ounces of cornmeal, if you are celiac make sure to check the package to ensure it was produced in a gluten free environment.
2 cups of buttermilk
1 to 2 tablespoons olive oil
1 cup of sliced red onion
8 ounces Doves Farm or Aldi gluten free flour mixed with 2 teaspoons of psyllium husk.
1 1/2 tablespoons of gluten free baking powder
1/4 teaspoon of baking soda
1 teaspoon salt
6 ounce of very soft goats cheese. I used one with the texture of a cream cheese and it blended very evenly in to the batter.
2 tablespoons of honey
2 ounces of  granulated sugar
3 large eggs, at room temperature
1 ounce of butter, melted
16 ounces of fresh / frozen / canned (drained, if canned) sweetcorn
1 ounce of butter

6 ounce goats cheese log, crumbled

Night Before:

The night before you are going to bake the corn bread place the cornmeal in a bowl with the buttermilk and allow to stand so the cornmeal can soak up the milk and soften, this will stop the bread having the gritty texture you can sometimes get in cornbread’s. Cover and leave at room temperature overnight.

Next Day:

Preheat the oven to Gas 4, 180, 350°F.

Slice the onions in to thin half moons,

Heat 1 to 2 tablespoons of oil in a large pan over a medium heat and add the onions. Cook them slowly until they are well caramelized. Season with salt and set aside.

Sift together the gluten free flour, psyllium husk, gluten free baking powder, baking soda and salt and set aside.

In a large mixing bowl, beat the soft goat cheese until fluffy.

Add the eggs, one at a time and scraping down the bowl between each.

Add the melted butter, honey, sugar and cornmeal/buttermilk mixture to the egg batter and mix until smooth.

Stir in the flour mixture until combined and then gently stir in the sweetcorn.

It is at this stage I would also add the cooled onions to the batter rather than scattering them over as I did the first time I made the recipe.

Place two tablespoons of oil  in a 10” round cake pan, I used a 9” round cast iron skillet. Place the pan or skillet in the oven for 5 to 7 minutes, until the oil gets very hot.

Carefully remove the pan/skillet and tilt it gently to evenly distribute the oil over the base and sides.

Pour in the batter, spreading it evenly and sprinkle crumbled goats cheese over the top.

 

Place back in the oven and bake for about 30 minutes, or until the cornbread is firm and springing and a cake tester inserted into the center comes out clean. If you feel the top of the bread is browning too much you can loosely cover it with a foil lid.

Remove the pan/skillet from the oven and allow to rest for 15 minutes before turning it out on to a cooling rack, allow to cool for another 15 minutes before slicing.

If you are going to serve the bread as a nibble to go with drinks slice it into 1.5” squares if you are serving as a side with a meal you can make your squares a little larger.

Homemade Easter Eggs

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Here is a repost on home made Easter Eggs. The best way to make sure that the treat you eat or are gifting to a celiac friend is gluten free is to make it your self. Source some gluten free chocolate for the shell and gluten free treats, gf jelly beans would be my sweet of choice, to hide in the egg.

I am not the biggest fan of chocolate, in terms of dairy based treats I am more of a cheese girl however I do love the snap of crisp easter egg shell, cold from the fridge. I love holding a whole chocolate egg in my hand and whacking it inelegantly off the table top until it shatters, picking through the shards so I can alternate between slivers so thin they melt on the tongue and the thicker fragments where the cooling chocolate collected in swirls and ridges. I am still getting over the fact that you don’t find sweets nestled inside eggs anymore, that they are separately packed in the box and I am not sold on these pre halved eggs. I love that most people I know still get giddy about chocolate at this time of year.  I like that I  know people my age who still give up chocolate for Lent and who are now carefully planning exactly what kind of chocolate they are going to eat and in what order this Sunday.

Is is possible to find Easter Eggs that are gluten free but they tend to be dark chocolate and designed more for adults than kids, so one year as she was making handmade eggs for all her grandchildren  my ever resourceful Mum made my celiac nephew a milk chocolate egg studded with gluten free oreo cookies, I of course sat back with my camera and took notes instead of doing anything actually helpful.  This isn’t the most detailed of posts, as I discovered that making home made eggs is a much simpler process than I had thought and just takes a bit of imagination and a willingness to get a bit messy to create some personalised Easter treats.  This is more a list of basic instructions in case you have the time and the inclination over the next few days to play around with some melted chocolate and sweets.

For 1 Easter Egg

1 Standard sized Easter Egg mould. Available in catering or cake decorating shops.

250 grams of 40% chocolate (GF), chopped or broken into pieces and divided in 2 quantities of 125 grams.

Sweets or cookies (make sure these are GF if making a gift for someone who is celiac) for decoration. My Mum used a gluten free Oreo type cookie as these are my nephews favourites.

Melt one half of the chocolate either in a bowl over hot water or  in a microwave at 30 second intervals, checking regularly.

Once this chocolate is melted add in the the second quantity of chopped chocolate to the bowl and stir in to the melted chocolate.

This will reduce the temperature of the melted chocolate and also temper it to give a lovely sheen.

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Once the chocolate is fully combined spoon it into one side of the mould and move the mould around to fully cover the inside. Leave to set in the fridge. When it has cooled spoon in some more chocolate to build up the shell to your desired thickness. Again place in the fridge to cool

For the decorated side of the egg, place your sweets or broken cookies in the mould and drizzle over the melted chocolate to hold them in place, allow to cool before spooning in the chocolate to cover the inside of the mould. Follow the same process as for the first half of the egg, building up the shell until you are happy with the thickness. Return to the fridge to cool

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Once both shells are fully cooled and hardened remove them from the fridge.

Heat a metal tray under a hot tap and then dry it. Remove the shells from the moulds by turn them upside down on a table or other flat surface, if they don’t come out easily rub your hand over the outside of the mould and the heat of your hand will help release the shell from the mould.  Place the shells on the heated  tray to melt the edges of the chocolate and place the shells edge to edge until they stick together. If you want to put sweets in the egg put them in before you stick them together.

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Leave the eggs for a few minutes so the edges can cool and harden and then you can drizzle over some more chocolate for an extra decoration.

You can place the egg in a tissue paper lined basket or wrap it in clear cellophane tied with ribbon to make a beautiful Easter gift.

Rachel Allen’s Gluten Free Orange, Chocolate, Polenta Cake

While I have no problem experimenting to find ways of adapting recipes to be gluten free it is sometimes nice  to find someone else has already done the work for and I can be sure the recipe is going to work without any trial or error.

Rachel Allen’s cook books are reassuringly user friendly while still being full of interesting recipes. A great everyday book is  her Easy Meals, this is the book to go through before you do your big weekly shop as you will definitely find plenty of inspiration for mid week dinners, thereby avoiding that dispiriting wander around the grocery store picking up and putting down random vegetables and trying to figure out yet another use for chicken breasts.

This recipe is for a gluten free Chocolate Polenta Cake which, as all good cakes should be, is as good served warm with a scoop of ice cream or cold with a  cup of tea. If you are new to gluten free baking it is also a great recipe to begin with as there is no messing around with unfamiliar gluten free flours,  just make sure that your chocolate is gluten free.

Ingredients

200 grams of gluten free dark chocolate

100 grams of butter

225 gams of caster sugar

5 eggs, separated

75 grams of polenta ( fine cornmeal)

grated zest of 1 orange

Butter a 10″ baking tin and line the base with baking parchment.

Preheat your oven to Gas 3, 160, 325f

Break the chocolate in to pieces and place in a heatproof bowl with the butter. Put the pan over a saucepan of simmering water and allow to melt. Once melted remove the bowl from the heat and allow the chocolate mix to cool slightly.

Whisk together the egg yolks and 150 grams of the sugar until it has increased in volume and is light in colour, this should take about 5 minutes.

Fold the cooled chocolate mix in to the egg / sugar batter.

In a clean, dry bowl whisk the egg whites until they form soft peaks, add in the remaining caster sugar and whisk until you have stiff, glossy peaks.

Gently fold the polenta, orange zest and egg whites in to the chocolate batter and then spoon in to the prepared tin.

 

Place the tin in the oven and bak for 25 minutes or until a cake tester comes out clean.

 

 

Allow the cake to rest and cool slightly in the tin before removing it from the tin and allowing to cool on a wire rack.

Serve still warm with cream or ice cream or cooled with a hot cup of tea.

 

Gluten Free Chocolate Chip Cookies

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If Valentines fell on the weekend you could go mad with hand made chocolates or an elaborate meal for the beloved in your life however it is a Tuesday and we are all either out at work or working from home while wrangling children, the bottom line is only a few  very committed people will have the energy or inclination to spend a few hours in the kitchen this evening prepping an intricate Valentines dinner.

What most people really want is to spend a couple of quiet hours with the one they love over good food, a higher quality wine than we might usually purchase or perhaps a glass or two of prosecco while happily ignoring the pile of washing in the corner or the toys all over the floor. The one essential component of a Valentines meal is  desert, even it is just a bar of gluten free chocolate  but these gluten free cookies are so simple I can assure you that you can make them this evening without causing yourself any stress. These manage to be both crisp and chewy and are lovely when sandwiched with a good ice cream. You can also just pile them on a plate as a treat to be enjoyed while snuggled on the couch watching a movie or whatever netflix series you are both currently engrossed in. These are also perfect as a  handmade Valentine’s gift,  just wrap them in cellophane and tie with a ribbon, I would much rather 12 of these than a dozen roses.

When I think cookies, I think of butter, sugar and chocolate and of course that leads me straight to Ina Garten, the queen of all things luxurious and indulgent in the kitchen. I slightly adapted her recipe for chocolate chunk cookies, mainly to make them gluten free but also because I adjusted the amount of chocolate and nuts, increasing the nut to chocolate ratio slightly. I also used milk chocolate instead of semi -sweet because sometimes that is just the chocolate I want.
Ingredients

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450 grams of unsalted butter, softened
1 cup of light soft brown sugar
½ cup of caster sugar
2 teaspoons of vanilla extract
2 large eggs
2 cups of Doves Farm Gluten Free self-raising flour
1 teaspoon of baking powder
1 teaspoon sea or Maldon salt, use less if you are using table salt
2 cups of roughly chopped walnuts
400 grams of milk chocolate roughly chopped

Preheat the oven to gas 4/ 180/ 350f

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• Line two baking sheets with baking parchment, I ran out of parchment and baked the cookies on buttered baking sheets and they were fine but your life will be easier if you use the baking parchment.
• Place the softened butter and the 2 sugars in a bowl and beat until light and fluffy.
• Beat in the eggs one at a time and then add the vanilla extract.
• Sift the flour, baking powder and salt over the batter and beat in on slow speed until just combined.
• Using a wooden spoon stir in the chopped nuts and chocolate.
• Place a round tablespoon of the cookie batter on the baking sheet, evenly spaced and the cookies will spread as they cook so leave a bit of space between them, I fit 6 on each baking sheet.
• Bake for 15 minutes, the cookies will be soft when they come out but will crisp up as they cool.
• Allow to cool for a few minutes on the tray before carefully moving the cookies to a cooling rack with a palette knife.
• Repeat the process, you should get about 36 cookies out of the batter.
• Once cooled you can store the cookies in an airtight container.

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Enjoy and Happy Valentine’s Day!

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Gluten Free Corn Bread

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My two weeks Christmas break from posting was extended due to flu, tiredness caused by the flu and a hectic return to work where two weeks break led to three weeks of manic catch up where I fell home every evening barely capable of putting a gluten free frozen pizza in the oven before collapsing on the couch. January has not been a fun month.

To make things better and to use up ingredients in my cupboards before they all went off I went looking for something comforting and quick and found this recipe for Corn Bread from Ina Garten which I altered slightly, adapting it to be gluten free and also substituting crispy lardons of bacon for jalapeños.

This batter works very well with gluten free flour and rises like a soufflé when you add the wet ingredients to the dry which is very reassuring. It is delicious with stews, chilli and breakfast eggs or simply pulled out of the freezer, defrosted in the microwave, halved, toasted and slathered with butter. Golden, savory with bacon and cheese this is a very good bread to cheer this miserable month.

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Ingredients

3 cups Doves Farm Gluten Free Flour

2 teaspoons of pysllium husk

1 cup fine yellow cornmeal

1/4 cup caster sugar

2 tablespoons for gluten free baking powder

2 teaspoons salt

2 cups milk

3 extra-large eggs, lightly beaten

8 ounces of butter, melted

8 ounces mature cheddar cheese, grated

1/3 cup chopped scallions, white and green parts

1 cup of bacon lardons

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Pre heat the oven to gas 4, 180, 350f

Butter and line with baking parchment a 9 x 11″ hight sided, baking tin or roasting dish

Fry the bacon lardons with the scallions over a medium heat until the bacon is cooked. Set aside to cool.

In a large bowl combine the GF flour, psyllium husk, cornmeal, caster sugar, GF baking powder and salt, stir with a fork to break up any lumps.

In another bowl mix together the milk, eggs and melted butter and then our this batter in to the dry ingredients stirring with a wooden spoon until just combined, do not over mix.

Stir in two thirds of the grated cheese and the cooked bacon and scallions.

Scrape the batter in to the prepared baking dish and scatter the remaining cheese over the top, allow to sit a room temperature for 20 minutes.

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Place in the oven and bake for 30 to 35 minutes  until a cake tester comes out clean.

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Allow to cool in the baking dish for a few minutes before placing the bread on a cooling rack. Once cooled cut in to large squares. Serve with soup, stew or chilli and wrap any left over squares in cling film and freeze.