Gluten Free Raspberry & Pecan Brownies

VO124raspbrownies5a

Yesterday was a truly miserable day that involved having to get off a bus ten minutes in to my trip because some eejit in an Audi TT decided to attempt to cut inside a bus while turning a corner, luckily no one was hurt but both vehicles were left wedged in place blocking traffic for hours. The rain alternated between a drenching mist and thundering downpour as I trudged home with my sneakers full of water.  What else is there to do on a dark and rainy August evening except eat meatballs, drink a good red wine and bake some brownies?

I knew I would be full from the meatballs but I wanted the meditative work of baking to help me mellow out and as these brownies require a good amount of cooling and then chilling time before eating they were the ideal thing. Fudgy and soft, way more chocolatey than the 55 grams of chocolate in the recipe would suggest, these brownies are the ultimate in delayed gratification deserts as they need to be cooled and then put in the freezer for at least two hours before you can attempt to cut them in to squares. If you wanted to serve them warm from the oven you would have to spoon them from the tray to the plate as they will just disintegrate but topped with a scoop of vanilla ice-cream that might not be a bad thing.

The brownies are adapted from a brownie recipe by Gary Rhodes that does not seem to exist on the internet, my sister had to send me the recipe from a cookbook and as it is one of best brownie recipes I have tried I am glad to be putting it up on the site.

 

Ingredients

55 grams of 70 % dark chocolate (gluten free)

115 grams of salted butter

225grams of caster sugar

55 grams of gluten free self- raising flour, I used Aldi’s

1 teaspoon of gluten free baking powder

2 eggs, beaten

125 grams of raspberries, quartered

100 grams of pecan nuts, roughly chopped

 

Preheat the oven to 180/ Gas 4/ 350f

Line and butter a 7” x 11”  baking tin or deep roasting tray. You can use baking parchment but I used tinfoil

VO124raspbrownies1a

Place the butter and chocolate in a bowl set over lightly simmering water until both have melted.

Sieve together the flour and baking powder and stir in the caster sugar.

Add the flour mix to the melted chocolate and stir to combine.

Stir in the beaten eggs and chopped nuts,

Fold in the raspberries, some people like to leave the raspberries whole but I prefer to have streaks of disintegrated raspberry running through the brownie rather than the odd whole one here and there.

VO124raspbrownies2a

Scrape the batter in to the prepared tin and place in the pre heated oven for 30 minutes.

Remove from the oven, the brownies will still be very soft at this stage but they will set as they cool.

Allow to cool completely and then place in the freezer for at least 2 hours. Remove from the freezer and lift the brownies from the tin, place face down on a piece of fil or baking parchment and then carefully peel back the foil that lined the tin.

VO124raspbrownies3a

Gently turn the brownies over and then slice in to squares. These are best eaten from the fridge of freezer as they will get melty and fudgy at room temperature.

VO124raspbrownies4a

Enjoy with a cold glass of milk.

Gluten Free Banana Bread

VO122bananabread3a (1)

My kitchen is suffering a plague of tiny, extremely irritating fruit flies and in an effort to get rid of them I have taken to keeping all my fruit and vegetables in the fridge, the downside of this is that I forget what produce I have and so I keep finding wrinkled old apples and weeping, leathery mangoes rolling around the vegetable crisper. This week I found three very black bananas and what can you do with these except make banana bread, every cloud, silver lining and all that.

I rang my Mum for her recipe and she started laughing, my sister had called her not ten minutes earlier looking for the same recipe as she also had some sad bananas to use up.

I tweaked my Mums recipe slightly as I like to use soft dark brown sugar with bananas as  think it gives a lovely caramel flavour, I also added some vanilla and also a teaspoon of psyllium husks. A pet peeve of mine is wet rather than moist banana bread and I was hoping the psyllium husks would give me a moist sponge rather than a dense damp loaf. It definitely worked and although mu Mum does make a gluten free version of this bread without psyllium husks and it works really well so please consider it optional, I have a bag that needs to be used so I am going to experiment with it in as many recipes as I can.

Ingredients

3 ripe bananas

2 large eggs

1 teaspoon vanilla extract

1 &3/4 cups of gluten free self -raising flour ( I used Aldi as it is what I had to hand)

1 teaspoon of psyllium husks (optional)

1 teaspoon of gluten free baking powder

Pinch of salt

125 grams of unsalted butter

1 cup of soft dark brown sugar

light brown sugar for sprinkling

 

preheat the oven to Gas 3/ 170 / 325f

VO122bananabread1a

Cream together the butter and sugar until light and fluffy

Beat in the eggs one at a time

Mash the bananas very well and add to the batter with the vanilla extract, beat until everything is combined

Mix together the flour, baking powder and salt and then fold in to the batter

VO122bananabread2a

Pour the batter in to a buttered and lined loaf tin and sprinkle on a good bit of light brown sugar

Bake in a pre -heated oven at  gas 3/ 170/ 325 f for 60 minutes or until a cake tester comes out clean.

VO122bananabread4a

This recipe couldn’t be easier and is delicious warm from the oven or a day old slathered in butter. I left a loaf in my office kitchen and it was demolished in about a half hour by people who aren’t celiac and they all gave it an enthusiastic thumbs up.

Gluten Free Courgette Fritters and a little rant

VO120courgettefritter4a

Before I get to my recipe today I want to have a little rant about the practice certain restaurants have of charging a small extra fee for the apparently onerous task of providing celiac diners with gluten free bread, pasta or pizza bases. I get that keeping gluten free products would have been expensive in the past however with the rise of supermarket Free From brands, particularly the likes of Tesco and Aldi these products are easily available and affordable.

I had two experiences recently which brought this practice back to my attention with one lovely lunch highlighting a disappointing brunch. I met a few friends for a mid-week lunch last month and they suggested Bibi’s Café in Dublin 8. The website wasn’t clear if they catered for a gluten free diet but as the important thing was meeting up with my friends I decided to risk it figuring that I could always have a coffee and then grab a sandwich on my way back to work. When we arrived at this lovely little spot I spotted a hopeful looking salad on the menu and also a delicious sounding toasted sandwich, I asked if there was any possibility I could get the toastie on GF bread and the waitress said of course and then clarified that I was in fact celiac and stated that she would ensure that my sandwich was fried / toasted on a clean pan. If you have never had a pan toasted sandwich please try one soon, it is the only way I make toasties and it is the best.

Not only was I able to have the lovely sandwich  there was no suggestion of an extra charge and even better when my sandwich arrived I had been given two sandwiches so that my lunch was equivalent in size to that of my companions who were also having sandwiches. When you are used to getting miniature bread and being charged extra for the pleasure this seemed like a very magnanimous gesture on the part of Bibi’s and I left lunch stuffed and happy.

Last weekend having failed to shop and needing breakfast before facing the day I went to Oscars in Smithfield for brunch, I have eaten here before and knew they would have gluten free bread however on requesting the Eggs Benedict on GF bread I was told there would be an extra charge. I honestly don’t remember ever being charged extra in Oscars before and was a little annoyed but what could I do, I was hungry and so agreed. When the my meal came out and the bread was a pretty basic role, it may have been the GF burger bun from Aldi I went from a little annoyed to just plain mad. This was cheap bread, easy to source, suitable for freezing and all the kitchen needed to do to keep it GF was pop it under a grill on some tinfoil rather than put it in a toaster.  At a time when restaurants pride themselves on serving artisan sourdough or farmhouse loaves, every type of fancy bread you can imagine why am I paying €1 to €1.50 extra for cheap GF bread.

Cop on restaurants.

On to a nice simple recipe adapted from Smitten Kitchen, as always when I am looking for brunch suggestions I head to Deb Perelman’s website which is an endless source of brunch inspiration. A woman I work with had given me some home grown courgette’s so I wanted to make them the feature of the dish so courgette fritters it was. While the original recipe has then served with a yogurt sauce I thought this would be perfect with bacon, a poached egg and a liberal helping of hollandaise sauce and I was right.

If you need a good hollandaise sauce try Rachel Allen’s, I have found it to be fool proof even on slightly hungover weekend mornings when I was not giving the sauce my full attention.

Courgette Fritters adapted to be gluten free

Ingredients

2 medium courgettes, washed, topped and grated on a box grater or in your food processor if you are lucky enough to have one.

I teaspoon of salt

2 green onions, cut in half and thinly sliced

1 large egg, beaten

Black pepper

½ cup of Dove’s Farm Gluten Free Palin Four

½ teaspoon of gluten free baking powder

BO120courgettefritters1a

Olive oil for frying

 

Sprinkle the grated courgette with salt and allow it to stand for ten minutes.

After ten minutes place the courgette in some muslin or an old but clean tea towel and squeeze to remove the excess moisture. When you think you have all the water out keep squeezing, courgettes hold a lot of water.

Place the courgette in a bowl, taste to see if you need to add more salt and then stir in the green onions, egg and black pepper.

Stir together the GF flour and baking powder and then add to the courgette batter and stir until everything is combined.

Pour two tablespoons of oil in a pan or skillet set over a medium heat and turn on your oven to a low temperature, about 150, so you can keep the fritters warm as you cook in batches.

When the oil is hot place tablespoons of the batter in the pan, flatten each fritter out slightly with the back of the spoon. Don’t crowd the pan, I cooked four at a time and that worked well.

VO120courgettefritters2a

Cook over the medium heat for three to four minutes until the underside is golden and then flip the fritters and fry on the other side for a further two to three minutes. If you feel they are browning too fast then reduce the heat. Place the cooked fritters on a baking sheet and put in the warm oven while you cook the next batch. Once all the batter has been used allow the fritters to sit in the oven for about ten minutes to make sure they are fully cooked through.

VO120courgettfritters3a

This will give you enough time to poach some eggs, fry some bacon and make the hollandaise if you are planning on having these for brunch but they would also make a great vegetable side served with grilled chicken or lamb chops.

Easy Gluten Free Pizza Dough

VO121pizzdough6a

While there are good gluten free pizza’s available in supermarkets the toppings  tend to be quite basic and if you want something  a bit more interesting then you are better off making it yourself. I used always use the recipe for pizza that was printed on the back of the Doves Farm Gluten Free White Bread mix and it does make a good base but it involves a lot on ingredients and I wanted to find a way to make gluten free  pizza dough that is as simple as possible. As I had such a good result with the psyllium husks in the Naan bread I decided to try them in pizza dough. I was going to try using a regular pizza dough recipe and just sub in the GF flour with added psyllium husk and see how it went, I figured the worst that would happen is that it wouldn’t work and I would have to suck up the cost of the ingredients and move on, however  what if it did work….

I started by looking for the Doves Farm Gluten Free Bread Flour but as has been the case for the last few months I could not find it in any health food store or supermarket in Dublin city centre. As I was determined to go ahead with this project I picked up a pack of the Marks & Spencer’s Gluten Free White Bread Mix and decided to see if that would work.

The process of making the dough was simple. Mix flour with salt and psyllium husks, mix the warm water with sugar yeast and olive oil, combine  the two, knead and allow to rise and hey presto I had a dough that had doubled in size.

My first attempt failed at the baking, thinking I was being clever I pressed the dough out on the baking parchment and transferred it to a heated baking tray in the oven on the parchment, it cooked beautifully but then stuck firmly to the paper. To salvage dinner I had to tip the pizza topping side down on the plate painstakingly peel back the parchment, I was to put it mildly raging. The upside was that I knew the dough had worked so the very next evening I tried again.

This time I scattered coarse corn meal on a preheated baking sheet and having pressed the uncooked dough on to baking parchment I then turned the pizza dough on to the tray and then peeled back the parchment paper, the dough was still a bit sticky but using a pallet knife I scrapped any pieces that stuck of the paper and pressed them in to place to mend any tears in the dough base. Next time I am going to try cling film.

This time the cooked pizza slid off the tray and on to a board without issue and this was honestly the best gluten free pizza I have ever had. The base was firm but still soft, crisp but chewy rather than biscuit hard at the edges.  I really hope you try it.

I will definitely try this with the Dove’s Farm GF Bread Flour as soon as I get my hands on a pack!

Ingredients

250grams Marks& Spencer’s Gluten Free White Bread Mix

2 teaspoons of psyllium husks

½ teaspoon of salt

1 & ¼ teaspoons of yeast

½ teaspoon of sugar

225mls warm water

1 tablespoon of Olive oil

Coarse corn meal for the baking sheets

VO121pizzadough1a

Mix the bread mix, salt and pysllium husks together in a bowl

Add the sugar yeast and oilvie oil to the warm water and wait for a few minutes until the yeast activates.

Stir the liquid in to the dry ingredients and bring together in to a very wet looking dough

VO121pizzadough2a.jog

Scrape the dough out on to a surface you have dusted with Gluten free flour and knead for a minute until you have a smooth ball of dough.

Place the dough in to a clean dry bowl you have dusted with Gluten free flour, cover the top of the bowl with cling film and a clean dry cloth and place somewhere warm for 1 hour until it has risen and is doubled in size.

Preheat your oven to 250 / 500f / gas 9 and place 2 flat baking sheets in the oven to heat.

VO121pizzadough3a

Divide your dough in half and roll each half int o a ball, place one ball on a lightly floured square of baking parchment and using your fingers and the heel of your palm press the dough out  toyour desired thickness and size, I like a thing based pizza so miy base was about 2mm thick in the centre and slightly thicker at the edges.

 

Remove the hot tray from the oven and scatter over some corn meal and then tip the pizza dough on to the tray. Carefully peel back the baking parchment. If it sticks use a flat knife to ease it off the paper, don’t worry about any tears you can easily patch and holes in the dough.

VO121pizzadough4a

Repeat the process with the other dough ball, this quantity will 2 x 9” pizzas.

 

Top the pizza base with your sauce and toppings of choice and place back in the oven for 10 to 15 minutes until cooked.

VO121pizzadough7a

Remove from the  oven and slide the pizzas on to a pizza board or plate, slice and enjoy!

 

Gluten Free White Chocolate Cheesecake Marbled Brownies

VO119choccheesebrownieia

There are days for crisp green salads and  fresh fruit and then there are days when you just want all of the chocolate and having had a bit of a mad week in work I was having one of those days.  Since I couldn’t figure out what type of chocolate I wanted or how I wanted it served I decided to combine two of my favourite textures, brownie and baked cheesecake. I have seen a few recipes for cheesecake marbled brownies where there is a small amount of cheesecake batter swirled in to the brownie but because I love baked cheesecake I decided to make a full quantity of the cheesecake recipe and then dollop over spoons of the brownie batter before using a flat butter knife to create a marbled effect. For such an easy recipe you get a very impressive looking cake.

For a double hit of chocolate I made a white chocolate cheesecake and used dark chocolate for the brownie mix and the combination was definitely a winner. These do need to be chilled before they are eaten as once cold these are dense, fudgy and delicious.

I made this in a 9” by 11” roasting dish but you could divide the mixture between two smaller tins.

White chocolate cheesecake

300g white chocolate
400g full fat cream cheese
150 ml soured cream
2 eggs
1 tsp vanilla extract

Brownie

4 ounces of butter cut
3 ounces unsweetened chocolate
1 cup light brown sugar
2 large eggs
1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
2/3 cup gluten free self raising flour, I used Aldi’s flour and it worked brilliantly but you could use Dove’s Farm

Preheat the oven to 160, 325F, Gas 3

Butter and line the base and sides of your tin with baking parchment, this will make it easier to lift the brownies out of the tin once they are baked.

Break the white chocolate in to pieces and place in a bowl over a pan of lightly simmering water until it is melted, once it has melted completely remove from the heat and allow to cool slightly.

In a separate bowl whisk together the cream cheese and the eggs until smooth. I used a hand whisk, there is no need to use anything electrical for this recipe.

Next whisk in the cream cheese and vanilla and then pour in the melted white chocolate and whisk to combine.

VO119choccheesebrownie2a

Allow that to sit and start on the brownie batter

Break the dark chocolate in to pieces and place it and the butter in a bowl set over a pan of lightly simmering water until both have melted. Remove the bowl from the heat.

To the melted chocolate add the sugar whisking with your hand whisk, this will give you a slightly grainy thick batter.

Next whisk in the eggs and the vanilla extract and then add the gluten free flour, whisk very gently until just combined.

Vo119choccheesebrownie3a

Pour the white chocolate cheesecake batter in to your prepared tin and then drop spoonfuls of the brownie mix in to the cheesecake batter. Space the spoons of brownie mix as evenly as you can so that there will be an even blend of brownie and cheesecake in each square when you slice the cake.

Use a palette knife or a flat butter knife to fold the two batters together, you want to create a marbled effect so don’t be tempted to just get in there and stir. Use the tip of the knife to lift portions of cheesecake batter from the bottom of the tin up and over the brownie mix and then gently pull the brownie mix into the cheesecake.

VO119choccheesebrownie4a

Once you are happy with the look of the cake place it in your preheated oven and bake for 40 to 45 minutes or until the centre is set.

Allow to rest in the tin for 15 minutes and then use the baking parchment to lift the brownie from the tin so it can cool on a baking rack.

Once the brownie is completely cooled use a sharp knife to cut it in to evenly sized squares. I made my squares about 1.5” by 1.5” as they are quite rich but you can cut them larger if you like.

VO119choccheesebrownie5a

These are best served chilled and were nicer the following day, so keep them covered in the fridge although I imagine they won’t last very long.

 

 

Mrs Crimbles Gluten Free Pasta & Sauce: Review

VO118pasta2a

I was well in to my second glass of wine last Friday before I realised I hadn’t put up my post for the day. That is the kind of tizz I was in after the news about Brexit broke that morning. My  friends from the North of Ireland and England were devastated and the day was spent in a daze, hoping this was all some vast joke and by the end of the day everything would be back to normal.

The intended post was a product review for Mrs Crimbles Gluten Free Pasta & Sauce. I do like Mrs Crimbles products, I am partially to an almond slice and their cheese crackers are my favourites so I was more than willing to give these pre -packaged dinners a shot. Strangely I have only ever seen them in the Centra around the corner from my house so I am not sure what their distribution is like nationwide.

The packs are 90 grams in weight and come in three flavours, fusilli with a tomato and mediteranean  herb sauce, fusilli with a white wine and cream sauce and fusilli with a gourmet mushroom and cream sauce. I opted for the mushroom sauce as I tend to find pre packaged food a bit bland but mushrrom flavour does tend to fair better than most when it is freeze dried.

The instructions are simple, on the hob you bring 150ml of water to the boil, add the contents of the pack and reduce the heat to a simmer and cook, stirring occassionally for 10 minutes or until the pasta is cooked through. You can also cook this in the microwave. When I opened the pack there was a pleasant if slightly confusing scent of chocolate mixed with the mushroom but I just shrugged and emptied the pasta and sauce in to the pot.

VO118pasta1a

This was a quick dinner for one, the label says it could be lunch for two but I would have to dispute this as the if I offered up half of this portion to anyone I know I would expect a sharpley raised eyebrow in response.

The finished dish definitely benefitted from the addition of salt and pepper and a generous grating of parmesan but it was grand. Although I can cook and I like good food I refuse to be a food snob about products like these, this is emergency food for celiacs and in that this product is definitely filling a gap. If you have a teenager at home who needs a something they can cook for themselves when they get in from school or you have a first year college student with celiac you are sending out in to world and you are worried about them cooking gluten free for themselves this is ideal. I would definitely keep one or two packs of these in the cupboards for days when I am too busy or tired to cook. For festival season, if you are camping and bring a wee gas stove this is a cheap and easy gluten free meal to have on stand by, all you need is a pot, some water and a spoon, job done.

VO118pasta3a

This is convenience food for celiacs and I hope that similar products start coming on to the market soon, anything that will make our lives easier is fine by me.

 

Free From Food Awards

Design 3

I always appreciate the chance to dress up and sip something bubbly and last Thursday I had the opportunity of attending the Free From Food Awards in The Round Room of Dublins Mansion House. A gala black tie affair it was full of glamour, good food, wine and craic with a swing band playing us in to the small hours of the morning.

I was invited as I had been lucky enough to be asked to judge several categories for the awards and it was a delight to be invited to an event where I knew  would be able to eat everything without being worried about it being gluten free.

The awards were a show case for all that is best in gluten free food available in Ireland right now and highlighted the fact that we have the product, we just need to work on the distribution. I had not heard about half of the suppliers or their products and I am hoping that having the spotlight of the awards thrown on then the winning products will soon be easily avaialable nationwide.

If you have read any of my posts bemoaning the lack of delicate, cream filled, lighter than air gluten free cakes you can imagine my delight when I learned that the Product of the Year award went to  Rule of Crumb for their Gluten Free Salted Caramel and Chocolate Profiteroles. Now I just need to try and get my hands on these delicious sounding treats!

1938-5391Pictured at the 2016 FreeFrom Food Awards Ireland, is Emma Clarke Conway, FreeFrom Food Awards Coodinator, Claire Hunter, Rule Of Crumb and winner of Product of the Year, John Burke, Founder, FreeFrom Food Awards Ireland and Maria McHale, Editor, Slainte Magazine.

This is from the press release:

The winners of the FreeFrom Food Awards Ireland 2016 were announced at a black tie gala event in the Round Room at the Mansion House in Dublin, on Thursday 9th June, with awards presented in 40 categories, including the much coveted Product of the Year going to Rule of Crumb for their Gluten Free Salted Caramel and Chocolate Profiteroles and the Innovation Gold Award going to the Foods of Athenry for their ‘Bite’ box. Product Range of the Year was awarded to BFree Foods for their efforts in development in their freefrom range. 

The Awards were presented by founder in Ireland, John Burke, an Irish businessman and coeliac, who has long been involved in the FreeFrom world, both at home and in the UK as a judge at the FreeFrom Food Awards UK and at the Irish Quality Food Awards for a number of years. Along with fellow coeliacs Emma Clarke Conway, Express PR, who has worked in the coeliac arena for over 12 years and by Maria McHale, Editor of Slainte Magazine, also a coeliac.

Over 150 members of the FreeFrom industry, including retailers, artisans, producers small or large and many of the judging panels, assembled at the Round Room to find out who had taken the coveted awards.

Irish companies made an impression, with over 74% of the awards going to home-produced brands. Winners include companies from Sweden, Scotland, England and Northern Ireland.

The Special Services to the Industry award, sponsored by Juvela was presented to Founder of the UK FreeFrom Food Awards, Michelle Berriedale-Johnston in recognition of her contribution to the FreeFrom world. This is a unique accolade to the person who has worked to effect change and improvement in the FreeFrom industry, recently or over a number of years.