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.

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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.

Gluten Free Mincemeat

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 I should have posted this about two weeks ago but Christmas has just snuck up on me this year and I have absolutely nothing done, no mincemeat, no pudding and no cake. This means that the next few weeks are going to be busy but at least my kitchen will smell amazing. 

Making your own mincemeat gives you so much 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 again 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 thinks these resemble nail clippings so she uses 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. 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

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

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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.

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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.

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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.

Chicken & Chorizo Bake

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My Mum has been telling me about this Nigella Lawson recipe for quite a while now, apparently it is a winner every time she cooks it and is also a one tray wonder and I love those, the less washing up the better. When I looked this up online I thought the original recipe looked great but there were a few tweaks I wanted to make. Not that I would ever second guess the lovely Nigella I can’t think of chorizo without adding red peppers so I through a couple in, I prefer wedges of roasted onions to chopped and I boned my chicken thighs and cut them into chunks to cut the cooking time and also so to ensure the crispiness of  skin because I hate to waste crispy  chicken skin.

This was indeed a one tray wonder and I served it in the cooking tray because sometimes I can get away with saying I am being rustic when in fact I am being lazy. This will serve four and add a crisp green salad or some crusty, or GF bread depending on your mood, a glass of red wine would not go astray here.

  • 750 grams potatoes, scrubbed or peeled if you prefer and cut in to cubes, roughly 2″ x 2″
  • 300 grams of chorizo (make sure it is gluten free)
  • 1 red onions peeled but with the root left
  • 1 teaspoon dried oregano
  • 1 teaspoon of smoked paprika
  • Grated zest of 1 orange
  • Sat and pepper

Preheat the oven to 200/gas mark 7/425f.

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Place the cubed potatoes in to a pot of salted water, bring to the boil and reduce the heat and simmer for 7 minutes

Drain the potatoes and set them aside

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Pour the oil in to a large roasting tray, two if you only have small trays

Cut the red onion into narrow wedges, the little bit of root should stop the wedges from falling apart

Place the potatoes, chicken thighs, chopped peppers, chorizo and onions on to the tray, sprinkle over the oregano, paprika and grated orange zest

Season with salt and pepper  and mix so everything is well coated in the oil and seasonings, your hands are the best tools for this

When everything is mixed, turn the chicken thighs skin side up so the skin will crisp.

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Place the tray in the oven and bake for 40 to 45 minutes , making sure to stir and baste in the everything in the lovely chorizo flavored oil half way though. Check to make sure the chicken is cooked through and the potatoes tender before serving on the cooking tray or you could transfer to a warmed serving dish if you are feeling fancy.

Gluten Free Courgette Fritters and a little rant

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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

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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.

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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.

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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

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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

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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

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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.

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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.

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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.

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

 

Mrs Crimbles Gluten Free Pasta & Sauce: Review

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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.

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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.

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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.