Rachel Khoo’s Raspberry & Almond Tart Gluten Free


I haven’t really been subscribing to the January rush to get back in the gym, I am taking it easy with a few yoga classes until the New Year’s Resolution crowd have chilled out a bit and there isn’t a queue for the machines. January has been rough this year and so I am being very gentle with myself, no swearing off alcohol, no ridiculous resolutions and definitely no post -Christmas diet!

As arguably the most miserable month January is a time for hearty stews, deep filled savoury pies, warming soups and a house filled with the smell of home baking. The second of the two new cookbooks I was gifted at Christmas was Rachel Khoo’s Paris Kitchen. I discovered Rachel Khoo while babysitting for friend’s, I babysit in return for TV privileges since I don’t have any channels at home. My friends get to go out and I mainline cooking shows, it is a win win situation.

Rachel’s food looks amazing, her kitchen is tinier than mine, a thing I never thought possible and I imagine she would be great craic over a glass or two of wine, advising on food, how to keep an immaculate fringe and the best red lipsticks on the market.



The first recipe I made from her book was a raspberry and almond tart. I am a massive fan of frangipane, from the cheapest almond slices you can buy to the most high end almond and fruit tart. This tart was beautiful, the pastry, made with an unusual method worked amazingly well with Gluten Free flour and turned out goldenly crisp and flaky, the filling was almost the texture of a set almond custard, thick, rich and a luscious counter to the tart raspberries. While the tart was baking my kitchen was full of the aroma of almonds and sweet jammy warm raspberries, just the thing to brighten up a grim January day.

Rachel Khoo’s Raspberry & Almond Tart adapted to be Gluten Free



Pastry: enough to line a buttered 9” loose bottomed tart tin


90 grams of softened butter
1 teaspoon of sugar
Pinch of salt
180 grams of Dove’s Farm Gluten Free Flour
2 egg yolks
2 to 3 tablespoons of iced water

• Beat the sugar and butter together until soft
• Mix in the flour
• Add in the 2 egg yolks, at this pint you may not think the pastry will come together but it will.
• Add in the iced water, one tablespoon at a time until the dough comes together in a soft ball.
• Chill the pastry for 30 minutes
• Remove the pastry from the fridge and place between two sheets of floured baking parchment.
• Roll the pastry between the baking parchment until it will fit your tin
• Ease the rolled pastry in the tin and prick the base with a fork

Preheat your oven to 180/Gas 4/ 350f



200 grams of ground almonds
200 grams of sugar
200 grams of butter, softened
2 eggs
300 grams of raspberries

• Beat together the butter and the sugar until light and fluffy
• Beat in the ground almonds
• Add the eggs one at a time and beat until fully incorporated
• Scrape the mixture in the lined pastry tin and smooth out with a flat knife
• Arrange the raspberries over the almond mixture, pressing them in lightly.
• Bake in the preheated oven for 40 to 45 minutes, until the pastry is golden and the almond mixture has set
• If you feel that the raspberries are beginning to burn then cover the tart loosely with tinfoil
• Allow the tart to cool and then remove it from the tine.
• Dust with icing sugar


The tart is delicious warm with softly whipped cream or served cold with a hot cup of coffee.

Lamb Burgers with Feta and Coriander

Well the sun is trying its damnedest to make Summer happen so I am going to try and keep a summer vibe going in my cooking. This means going for salads with lots of bright colours; multi- colour cherry tomatoes, glistening black olives, yellow mangos, lovely green olive oils, red chillies and mountains of green leaves. I love salads, not the basic butter-head lettuce, wedge of tomato, bit of hard- boiled egg and slice of cooked ham that was salad to most people in Ireland for much of my childhood but the kind of anything goes salad that combines texture, colour and flavour in way that is immensely satisfying.
If my memory is correct I first had a version of a mango and tomato salad at dinner cooked by my sister Deborah. The sweetness of the mango with the tomatoes and the lime juice make for an amazing combination and works well with burgers, pork chops, grilled chicken or fish. It is a good side dish to pretty much any kind of BBQ meat.

Lamb burgers are a favourite of mine as for some reason I can’t digest beef anymore, I have a momentary pang of sorrow every time I fry up a steak for some lucky dinner guest. Pork and turkey burgers have their place but only lamb replicates the juiciness of a good beef burger, I know it is because of the fat content and I have made my peace with that, sometimes flavour wins over other concerns.
These burgers with a high garlic content, a good whack of coriander, a hit of chilli and crumbled feta are a great alternative to a regular hamburger. They are great served with in a bun or pitta bread or just with a salad and work really well with the mango & tomato salad and a good dollop of crème fraiche instead of mayonnaise.


Lamb Burgers
450 grams (standard supermarket pack) of lamb mince
5 cloves of garlic, finely chopped, crushed or grated
1 red chilli finely chopped
1 big handful of coriander chopped finely
100 grams of feta cheese ( ½ standard pack) crumbled or diced.
A good pinch of salt and pepper
1. Mix all the ingredients together in a bowl and form into patties, you will get four burgers out of this amount of meat. When shaping the patties remember that the lamb will shrink up as the burgers are cooking so press them out as much as possible so you don’t end up with a marble sized burger lost in a giant bun.
2. Heat about a teaspoon of oil in a pan, the lamb will release a terrifying amount of fat as the meat cooks so you don’t need a lot of oil in there as the fat will render out of the meat fairy quickly. If you would rather you can grill these burgers as well, just keep turning them regularly and check make sure they are cooked through before serving.

3. When frying I cook the burgers over a high heat to brown on each side and then turn the heat down and cover the pan with a lid for 15 / 20 minutes. I then remove the lid a cook for a further 5 minutes. The cooking time depends on the thickness of the burgers so if you have flattened your out well they will take less time.


Mango & Tomato Salad

1 ripe mango, peeled and diced
3 – 4 spring onions, sliced finely
3 regular sized or a cup of cherry tomatoes, diced, I don’t deseed or peel these as life is short and I don’t mind tomato seeds.
Juice of 1 lime
1 red chilli finely chopped
1 tsp of honey or sugar, or a bit more depending on your taste
A small handful of coriander finely chopped

1. Mix everything together in a bowl, this is a very technical recipe isn’t it. Add the lime juice and enough honey/ sugar to get a nice even mix of sweet and sour. Salt and pepper to taste and leave for a few minutes for the flavours to come together.
As I said you can serve the burgers topped with the mango & tomato salad in a bun or pitta with crème fraiche, or with a big green salad and some potato wedges.



Chicken and Potato Chilli

V16. Chicken and Potato Chilli1


A trend could be spotted in my cooking and that would be for one pot meals that can be served in a bowl. Although technically we are in early Summer let’s face it the rain is still going strong and when I get home damp on a drizzly evening all I want is a dinner that can be eaten while curled on the couch under a blanket.

This is also a fairly frugal meal, a handy thing as we are in the final stretch of a five week month and the coffers are empty. This recipe feeds four for dinner or two with lunches. It also survives freezing and reheating very well.

You can substitute two chicken breasts for the chicken thighs if you don’t fancy shredding meat off the bone however the thighs make this better. Just as you would use a chicken carcass or wings and thighs to make stock, simmering all that flavour from the bones, so here we are getting a much richer sauce with the thighs than with chicken breast. Thighs are also cheaper.

V16. Chicken and Potato Chilli

1000g Chicken thighs or one standard supermarket pack.

1 pound of white potatoes cut in one inch cubes, you want something floury here like a rooster not a salad or new potato

1 pound of sweet potatoes, cut in one inch cubes

1 red pepper, chopped

2 onions chopped

1/2 red chilli deseeded and finely chopped, you can use a whole chilli if you like things a bit hotter.

4 cloves of garlic, crushed, sliced or grated

3 teaspoons of mild chile powder

3 teaspoons ground cumin

600 ml Gluten Free Chicken Stock

200 grams of fresh spinach, rinsed and roughly chopped

Sour cream to serve

1. Heat a good splash of olive oil in a wide bottomed, deep pan or pot. You may notice from the accompanying photos that I started in a shallow pan and end up transferring everything in to a my bit soup pot, this was me not paying attention to what I was doing.

2. Brown the chicken thighs on both sides. Do three or four at a time, don’t over crowd the pot. This flavours the meet and also renders out some of the lovely chicken fat from the skin. If using the breasts skip this step.

3. Set the chicken thighs aside but do not clean out the pot, you want to keep all the flavours from the chicken.

4. In to the lovely chicken fat in the pot add the onion, pepper and fresh chill. Stir over a medium heat until the vegetables are softened but not browned. Sir in the garlic and the potatoes and cook for a few minutes more.

5. Add the ground cumin and the mild chile powder and stir so everything is coated in the spices.

6. Pour over the GF stock and then return the chicken thighs to the pot. If using chicken breast you can add them raw to the sauce at this point.

7. Bring to the boil and then half cover the pot and reduce to a simmer.

8. Simmer for twenty minutes and then test the thighs and the potatoes, the meat should easily pull from the thigh bones and the potatoes should be tender. If you don’t feel the thighs are cooked enough then cook for a further ten minutes.

9. Once the meat is cooked remove the thighs (or breast) from the pot and place on a chopping board. Using a fork pull of the skin and discard, then remove as much of the meat from the bones as you can and tear in to shreds using two forks.

10. Return the meat to the pot and then add the spinach. Stir until the spinach is wilted and then add salt and pepper to taste.

Ladle in to bowls, add a good dollop of sour cream and enjoy!

Hunters Minestrone: Gluten Free

V12.hunters minestrone

I may have mentioned before that I don’t have television. This is because I tend to watch TV compulsively, I am the sort of person who would stay up all night watching reruns of any incarnation of the Law and Order franchise thrown my way. This was bad enough when there were only four or five channels, now that there are hundreds … well let’s just say I wouldn’t get a lot of sleep.

However I do miss cooking shows, in particular I miss finding out about new chefs and bakers whose books I might like and as so many cook books are now tied in with TV shows I sometimes feel behind the curve on what is out there.

Tyler Florence is one of the chefs I might have missed out on if my sister Deb hadn’t had a pot of this soup on the stove one weekend while I was in Cork.

Easily adaptable for gluten free, just use GF pasta and stock, this soup is amazingly flavoursome and the perfect kind of food for this kind of mixed up rainy Spring weather. Snuggle up with a bowl of this, a good shaving of parmesan cheese, a glass of red wine and a book and you will be happy.

Tyler Florence: Hunters Minestrone adapted for GF

This makes six servings and reheats well the next day but will be more of a stew than a soup as the pasta will absorb the stock over night.

2 1/2 pints of gluten free chicken stock

1 whole head of garlic cut in half

1/2 pound of GF rigatoni (or other small pasta), use regular rigatoni if you don’t need
this to be GF.

1/4 cup of olive oil

8 fresh sage leaves, I know these can be hard to get but they do make the difference. I have once or twice substituted and teaspoon of dried Sage and the world did not end.

I sprig of fresh rosemary

I sprig of fresh thyme

450 grams of pork mince

2 medium carrots finely chopped

2 celery ribs finely chopped

1 large onion finely chopped

1 tin chopped tomatoes

I bay leaf

2 tins of cannelloni beans, drained and rinsed

1 good handful of fresh parsley finely chopped

Parmesan cheese and a grater

1. Put the GF chicken stock and the halved head of garlic in a pot and simmer for about 15 mins, remove the garlic with a straining spoon and keep the stock warm.

2. Boil a large pot of salted water for the pasta.

3. Pour the 1/4 cup of olive oil in a soup pot or big saucepan. Add the sage, rosemary and thyme and warm in the oil over a medium heat for three to four minutes. This will infuse the oil with the flavour of the herbs and is what makes this soup a bit special.

4. Add the minced pork to the pot with the herbs and break it up with a wooden spoon, mixing until the pork is browned.

5. Add the chopped vegetables and cook for three to four minutes until they are softened but not browned.

6. Pour in the chopped tomatoes, the cannelloni beans and the stock and add the bay leaf. Bring to a simmer and leave to simmer for fifteen minutes, stirring every now and then.

7. While the soup is cooking add the pasta to the pot of water you have boiling. Cook the pasta for about six or seven minutes, until it is just slightly under done. Drain the pasta.

8. Before adding the pasta to the soup fish out the thyme and rosemary stalks and the bay leaf.

9. Add the pasta to the soup along with the parsley and salt and pepper to taste.

Mr Florence serves his soup with slices of parmesan coated toasted baguette but I find that this soup with the beans and pasta is filling enough and all it really needs is a good sprinkling of parmesan cheese.



Raspberry Ricotta Scones GF

V18 Raspberry Scones 1

Deb Perlman’s Smitten Kitchen is the first cooking blog I found and is still one of my favourites. I love the way she writes, the food she cooks and the way she photographs the food so it is begging you to dive in and eat..

If you navigate through her recipes there is even a gluten free section but I have spent many years trying to adapt as many of her recipes as I can to be GF. This is a purely selfish endeavour as I love the type of food she cooks.

This has worked better in some instances than others but more often than not it just takes a bit of experimentation and adaptation to come out with a dish that at least honours the idea of the original.

I have found when working with GF flour that a wetter consistency than usual in a pastry or cake batter usually works best. It may be because GF flours tend to be quite starchy and therefore absorb a lot of liquid. So when I saw this recipe for scones made with raspberries, ricotta and double cream I figured they should work well GF. The original recipe calls for whole wheat flour but here I am using Doves Farm self- raising flour.

Served still a bit warm with butter and raspberry jam for a little extra raspberry kick these scones were gorgeous.

Ricotta and double cream may seem a bit of an indulgence for scones but I used Tesco’s own brand of both and the scones worked just fine.

V18 Raspberry Scones

2 cups of Dove Farm Self Raising GF flour

1 level tsp of xanthum gum

I tablespoon of GF baking powder

1/4 cup of caster sugar

1/2 teaspoon of salt

85 grams of cold butter cubed

1 cup of fresh raspberries (about one standard punnett)

3/4 cup of ricotta

1/3 cup of double cream

I tablespoon of milk if necessary.
Preheat your oven to Gas mark 5 and line a baking sheet with parchment

1. Sieve the flour, xanthum gum, baking powder and salt in to a bowel and stir in the sugar.

2. Add the chopped cold butter and work in to the flour with your fingertips until you have a bread crumb consistancy.

3. Roughly chop the raspberries and stir them in to the flour mix.

4. In a bowl stir the ricotta and cream together and pour in to the mix, use a spatula to scrape out the last bit of liquid. Using the spatula bring stir the liquid in to the flour mix. Then using your hands bring the dough together and knead it gently in to a ball.

5. Your raspberries will pretty much have disintegrated at this point but the you will have lovely pink streaks and a raspberry flavour even if you don’t have chunks or raspberry in the scones.

6. Flour your work top with some more GF flour and tip out the dough. Pat rather than roll the dough in to a one inch high seven inch square, I did measure this with a ruler and the scones came out a good height so I do recommend checking the dimensions.

7. Cut the scones in to nine squares and transfer to a baking sheet. Bake for twenty minutes, checking after fifteen minutes. The scones should be lightly golden but as they haven’t been egg washed they won’t have a glossy golden sheen.

8. Leave to cool for a minute and then transfer to a cooling rack. The scones will set as they cool so leave for a bit before digging in.


Crunchy Caramel Popcorn

V13.caramel corn

It has been many a year since I stayed up all night to watch the Oscars, firstly because I still miss Barry Norman’s commentary and secondly because I don’t receive any television broadcast signal on my TV. My TV is for Xbox use and DVD watching only, unfortunately this doesn’t make a blind bit of difference to the TV License man but that is a rant for another day.

Happily this year I was invited to a party for the 2014 Academy Awards, thank you Bren and Charlene! There was the drinking of blueberry cocktails, the critiquing of gowns and betting on results. All in all, great craic.

Not wanting to turn up empty handed and also knowing I would need something gluten free to nibble on I made a large bowl of Peanut Caramel Corn.

The best nibbles are always a mix of savory and sweet, I am a girl who loves to combine the saltiness of crisps with a bit of chocolate. This caramel corn, sweet but with the salty crunch of peanuts can lead to compulsive eating so it is best to make it when you know you have a crowd to share it with.

You will need a very large pot for the popcorn, 1/2 cup of kernels makes more popcorn than you might think, and a very large bowl for mixing in the caramel.

  • 3 tablespoons of sunflower oil + extra for the trays (you don’t want to use a strong flavored olive oil for this)
  • 1/2 cup of popcorn kernels
  • 2 cups of salted peanuts
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons of baking soda
  • 3 cups of sugar
  • 1/2 cup of water
  • 3 tablespoons of butter
  • 1 tablespoon of salt
  1. Coat a large bowl or roasting dish and two baking sheets with a thin coating of oil
  2. In a large saucepan heat the oil over a medium high heat and add the kernels. Cover the saucepan with a lid and move it about over the heat as the pop corn pops. Keep the pan moving so the pop corn doesn’t burn. Keep the lid on until the popping slows down. This should take five or six minutes.
  3. Put the pop corn in to the prepped very large bowl or roasting tin and stir in the 2 cups of peanuts.
  4. Put the 1 1/2 teaspoons of baking powder in to a small dish, this will make it easier to tip in to the carmel later.
  5. In a medium saucepan with a heavy add the sugar, butter, salt and 1/2 cup of water.
  6. Cook over a high heat without stirring, you will be tempted but do not stir.
  7. Cook until the mixture turns a light golden caramel color, this should take between 10 and fifteen minutes.
  8. Remove from the heat and with exaggerated care add the baking soda, the mixture will fizz and bubble up.
  9. Whisk in the soda and immediately pour the caramel over the popcorn and peanuts and stir to combine. Try very hard to not spill the carmel on your fingers and don’t be tempted to taste, I managed to get a drop of caramel on the tip of my finger and was left with a lovely big blister a few minutes later. Caramel is extremely hot and will burn so be careful and take it slow.
  10. Once the carmel, nuts and popcorn are combined  divide the mixture between the two baking sheets and spread it out as best you can.
  11. Leave to cool and then break in to bite size pieces, you can use your hands for this or some gentle tapping with a rolling pin also works.
  12. Eat immediately or store in an airtight container for up to a week.


Slow Cooked Pulled Pork

V10. slowcooked pork 3We were gifted a slow cooker a few years ago and while it is something I don’t think I would have gone out of my way to buy I do love using it. There is something about coming home to the aroma of cooked dinner after a log day at work that is just lovely.
There are a lot of slow cooker recipes out there but this is something I came up with for Valentines dinner this year as dinner had to be fast since we were heading out to the cinema, very romantic. I prepped it in the morning before I headed to work and left the house starving as everything smelled so good. I doubled the recipe a week later when we were having people over for dinner and those are the quantities I am giving here.

V10. slow cooked pork1

  • 2 pork fillets, you could use pork shoulder instead.
  • 3 tbl of olive oil
  • I large onion, chopped
  • 2 ribs of celery, chopped
  • 4 cloves of garlic, crushed
  • 1 red chilli, deseeded and finely chopped
  • I pack of thin sliced chorizo, cut in to stips
  • 100ml of red wine
  • 150ml of chicken or vegetable stock
  • 1 500 gram pack of tomato passata
  • 1 tsp of brown sugar
  • 2 bay leaves
  • Some stalks of fresh thyme
  • 2 Peppers, rubbed with oil
  • ½ cup -1 cup olives cut in half
  • Handful of torn basil leaves
  • Roast potatoes and sour cream to serve
  • 1. Turn the slow cooker on to low.
  • 2. Trim the pork fillet, removing the silvery membrane and then cut each fillet in to four pieces.
  • 3. Heat the olive oil in a pan and brown the pork on all sides, remove from the pan and place in the slow cooker.
  • 4. Add the onions, celery, chilli and garlic to the pan you used for the pork, heat until they start to soften. Add the sliced chorizo and stir until the oils start to seep out of the chorizo and turn your pan a lovely orange,
  • 5. Add the red wine and leave to bubble a minute, then stir in the passata, chicken stock and brown sugar.
  • 6. Add the thyme and bay leaves and pour in to the slow cooker. Put on the lid and leave this to cook on low for 8 hours. When you get in or an hour before you want to eat you could pop the heat up to high just to thicken the sauce if you wanted to.
  • 7. The pork should fall apart when you touch it, shred it in to the sauce with two forks. Season to taste.
  • 8. Grill the oiled peppers or roast them in the oven until the skin is black and blistered. Put in a plastic food bag to allow the steam to loosen the skin, then peel, deseed and slice in to strips. Stir in to the shredded pork along with the olives and the torn basil leaves.
  • 9. I served this with some baby potatoes I halved and roasted in some olive oil for about a half an hour until golden and cooked through. Sour cream works really well with the sauce.
  • 10. You could also serve this with some wraps either corn or GF tortillas or taco shells topped with sour cream and grated cheese.



V10. slowcooked pork2