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.

Tips For Gluten Free Festive Entertaining

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‘Tis the season for Christmas Parties, lunches, dinners, mulled wine and mince pie nights and all sort of festive gatherings involving food.  If you are celiac or entertaining a guest who is celiac the idea of entertaining can be daunting there is always fear of being made ill or worse still making a friend ill because of cross contamination in the kitchen.

 
Here are a few simple tips for a happy gluten free Christmas.

 
Be wary of cross contamination. Don’t use the same serving spoons for gluten free and regular dishes. Be conscious in your kitchen to cook gluten free dishes separately and clean all your cooking tools carefully before cooking GF food. Tinfoil is your friend, cover all dishes once cooked so that errant crumbs or dustings of flour don’t fall in. Clearly identify GF containing foods for gluten free guests so they know what to avoid.

 

If you are cooking bread stuffing with your turkey try cooking it separately instead of in the bird. You can wrap the bread stuffing tinfoil and cook in the oven, check with our google overlords for instructions. Or you could use GF bread crumbs for your stuffing to make life even easier.

 

Most vegetable dishes will be naturally Gluten Free but make sure that whatever you are adding to the veggies is also gluten free.

 

Check your stock cubes, there are plenty of GF stock-cubes available for making gravy. Thicken your gravy with GF flour or GF cornflour instead of regular flour.

 

Check, double check and then check again the ingredients on any pre- packaged food you purchase from frozen roast potatoes to the glaze for your ham to cranberry sauce and all the relishes and if they contain gluten serve them separately and let your GF guest know.

 

If you are deep frying anything please do not use the same oil for GF and non GF food, this will cause contamination.

 

Check your butter for gluten containing crumbs before adding to your mashed potatoes.
If you want to make an old fashioned sherry trifle try the Gluten Free Madeira Cake from Aldi instead of trifle sponges, it tastes good and I feel, although I haven’t tried it, that it could work well.

 

Ask your GF guest for advice, let them know that you are taking their needs in to consideration and that they aren’t putting you out. Don’t freak out, there are a lot of resources out there to guide you on your gluten- free way and gluten free products are easily available online and in most grocery stores.

 
If you are organising a lunch out for family and friends check in with the restaurant to make sure they can cater for dietary requirements, particularly at this time of year when a lot of restaurants have set menu’s.

 
If you are celiac and heading to a friend’s house and you are uncertain of whether they fully understand your dietary requirements then ask if you can bring some GF crackers or other nibbles so you know you will have something to eat. Let your host know in advance so they aren’t morally offended that you would bring your ownfood to a dinner party, in all honesty they will most likely be relieved.

 

 

Relax, do your best, that is all anyone can ask of you, if what you can manage is turkey, ham, mashed potatoes and a vegetable side that are all definitely gluten free and safe to eat, served with good company and festive cheer then I think your GF guest will be happy to forgo any GF containing dishes that you have on the table.

 

 

Have a very Merry Festive Season and a tremendous New Year!

Gluten Free Trifle Sponge

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Chiffon cake is great to make with Gluten Free Flour and is the closest thing I can find to the sweet, light, dry trifle sponges that we bought and used every year for Christmas Trifle. Trifle is the one Christmas food tradition I could not do without, steeped in sherry, set in proper jelly and topped with custard and then a layer of whipped cream it is the perfect desert to follow Christmas dinner.

 
This quantity will make enough for two trifles and as the sponge freezes beautifully you can make it well in advance of Christmas Day. If you don’t feel like making two trifles use the second half of the sponge for Tiramisu, I guarantee it will be delicious.

 
Ingredients

1 & 1/3 cup Doves Farm Gluten Free Self -Raising Flour
1 & 1/2 cups caster sugar: use I & ¼ cups for the cake batter, and use ¼ cup for the egg white
1 tablespoon baking powder
1 teaspoon salt
6 tablespoons cool water
1/4 cup sunflower oil
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
6 eggs separated

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

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• Line a deep roasting dish with parchment paper
• Sift the Gluten Free plain flours, 1 1/4 cups of the caster sugar, baking powder and salt together twice into a large bowl.
• In a separate bowl, beat the egg yolks with the water, oil, and vanilla until smooth.
• Add the egg batter in to the flour mixture and fold in until smooth.
• In a clean dry large bowl whisk the egg whites to the soft peak stage, then add the remaining 1/4 cup sugar, continue beating but stop before you reach the stiff peak stage or your cake will shrink.
• Use a rubber spatula or large flat spoon to fold one-quarter of the egg whites into the cake batter to loosen it slightly, then gently fold in the remaining whites , be gentle but keep going until there are no streaks of egg white visible.
• Pour the batter into the lined roasting dish.
• Bake for forty to fifty minutes until the top springs back when lightly pressed and a cake tester inserted in the centre of the cake comes out.

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In my house there are a few traditions around the trifle. The trifle and custard are usually made by my brother who is so precious about this desert that he makes it himself just to make sure the job gets done. The process often begins after Midnight Mass and a few festive tipples, if he has one tipple too many then my Mum will step up. The trifle is made with two packs good old fashioned Birds Raspberry or Strawberry jelly, dissolved as per the instructions on the packet. The sponge is sliced in to inch wide fingers, split and sandwiched back together with jam. The jammy fingers are dipped in to a saucer of sherry and then layered in the trifle bowl with two sliced bananas. The dissolved jelly is poured over the sponge and the trifle is left to set.

 
While the trifle is setting it is time to make the custard, if you do not feel like making your own custard there are plenty of good pre made gluten free custards on the market.

 
Once the trifle has set and the custard cooled, pour the custard over the trifle and place in the fridge until you are ready to serve. Just before serving whip some cream to soft peaks and dollop over the surface of the trifle.

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Cold, soft and sweet this desert is perfect after a heavy Turkey and Ham dinner with all the trimmings and although I do love a traditional Christmas Pudding I prefer to leave that for a late evening treat to enjoy while watching a Christmas Movie in front of the fire.

Gluten Free Christmas Pudding

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One more Christmas repost as now is definitely a good time to make your Christmas Pudding. This pudding was delicious and it worked really well with the GF flour and breadcrumbs. Just the baking project to get you in the festive mood and perfect timing as the Christmas lights go on in Dublin this weekend!

 

Things are starting to feel very festive and the chaos of Grafton Street last week with hundreds of people giddy about the Christmas lights being turned on ( or seeing your man from Love Hate) I was reminded that it was about time I got a move on with my Christmas baking. First up was the pudding and as my Mum had made a beautiful pudding for me last year I asked for the recipe and it turned out to be from Nevin Maguire.
I don’t know if you have ever watched Nevins Maguire’s cooking shows but having recently discovered the joy of the internet and RTE Player I have been getting a quick fix of cooking shows and I would recommend his show to anyone with high anxiety, that show is possibly the most relaxing thing on television, I can actually feel my stress levels decrease as I am watching. I also enjoy that he shows how the very intricate looking recipes from his restaurant can be broken down and prepared at home, it reminds me of the very excellent blog, French Laundry at Home, http://carolcookskeller.blogspot.ie/, by Carol Blymire, the site is no longer active but the archives are definitely worth a read.

 

On to the pudding, 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 50gramms 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.