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
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
½ cup of Dove’s Farm Gluten Free Palin Four
½ teaspoon of gluten free baking powder
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.
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.
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.