Thursday, 24 June 2010

Summer Lovin'

Hooray for the warm weather! I can finally turn my electric blanket down to its lowest setting and my bed has been relieved of its winter covers!
In other news the sun actually warrants eating salads and not pining for a warm stew while the British weather pelts rain against the window in mid-June.
So while the sun has got his hat on I thought it would be a good time to post my recipe for Quinoa salad. For anyone unfamiliar with Quinoa, it is a naturally gluten-free grain (yay!) almost like cous cous. It's super good for you and has lots of magnesium,fibre,essential amino acids and best of all iron for those Coeliacs who suffer from anaemia, its an all round good egg!
I know when people praise superfoods or health foods people rush out to try them they usually end up tasting rather vile, but this isn't really the case with quinoa, if I could liken it to anything it would be lentils, only in so much as they taste like the flavours you put with them.
Most supermarkets sell quinoa now and health food shops like Holland and Barrett also sell fair trade quinoa, healthy and good for your conscience!
This recipe is good for lunches, if like me you've done jacket potatoes to death at lunch times. it lasts in the fridge for a good 2-3 days.

Minty Quinoa Salad with Feta and Pomegranate.

  • 100g Quinoa (cooked and cooled to the packets specifications)
  • 100g Feta cheese cubed
  • A few mint leaves finely chopped (mint is in season now)
  • Seeds of a small pomegranate
  • 1 Small red pepper diced or 2 medium tomatoes diced (whichever you prefer)
  • 6 Spring onions roughly chopped
  • A good glug of olive oil
  • A decent squirt of lemon juice

  • Cook your quinoa as stated on the packets instructions. While its cooling down get to work chopping all your veg,feta and mint. Pop it all in a bowl.
  • Slice the pomegranate in half. Theres no lady like way to get pomegranate seeds out unless you have the patience of a saint, a pin and an hour to spare, so I prefer the 'Nigella' method, which involves a wooden spoon and a good right hook, hold the pomegranate over a bowl and whack it with a wooden spoon until all the seeds are in the bowl. Easy peasy, and good for those with anger issues!
  • Throw the cooled quinoa into the bowl with the pomegranate seeds and the chopped veg etc and toss together with salad scoops or your own fair hands. Slosh on your olive oil (i use around a tablespoon) and a squeeze of lemon juice,season but go easy on the salt-the feta should make the salad salty enough, mix through. Your done! Savour your handy work in the garden with a big glass of Rose!

My cousin and I have recently discovered that while pomegranate fruits are gluten-free many pomegranate juices are NOT so remember the gluten-free mantra 'Always check the label'.

Monday, 21 June 2010


Big thank you to Matt@Doves Farm for posting a link to my blog on the Doves Farm page on Facebook! If you know anyone with Coeliacs or anyone that follows a gluten-free diet who would be interested in the blog please pass the address on. Id also love to hear from anyone who has some good recipe ideas or anyone who has an all-time-favourite recipe that they loved before they were diagnosed that they don't know quite how to convert so that its safe please contact me by leaving a comment or email at the address in the sidebar.

Cupcake Crazy

Blimey, if I see one more blog solely dedicated to cupcakes I think I'll go mad! The world has gone cupcake crazy, the cupcake industry in the UK alone is worth 7.3 million (blimey!) and in the past few years lots of bakeries and cupcake shops have popped up all over the place. But nothing is more frustrating to a cupcake lover who cant get hold of a gluten free cupcake! Where I live in Sussex there is a lovely little pink bakery called The Swallow Bakery who do all manner of cupcake and dessert loveliness including a small batch of gluten-free cupcakes, but you have to be lightening fast-they sell out quick!
For those who are not so lucky to have a fab shop like this locally, then here is my fool-proof-even-a-toddler could do it recipe for cupcakes with All-American frosting inspired by the Hummingbird Bakery.
Raspberry and White Chocolate Cupcakes

  • 1 Large egg
  • 120g Doves Farm's Self Raising Flour
  • 140g Golden caster sugar
  • 120ml Milk
  • 40g Butter (baking butter is good, but normal unsalted butter is fine)
  • 50g White chocolate chopped small and roughly
  • 8 Raspberries quartered
For the Frosting
  • 80g Butter (as above)
  • 250g Icing sugar
  • 25ml Milk
  • A few drops of vanilla extract
  • A few drops of natural food colouring (Spoons do a good one's which is gluten-free)
If you have a food mixer this recipe is the best no-effort recipe there is, if not a little bit of elbow grease is in order. If the latter is the case for you keep all your ingredients at room temperature and it should be a little easier. I've listed the mixer recipe first and the manual method underneath.

Mixer method
  • Preheat the oven to Gas 3 (170c)
  • Pop the dry ingredients and the butter into the mixer and mix until combined and sandy
  • Pour the milk in and mix until combined
  • Whisk the egg in a separate bowl and then add to the mixture, mixing for a 30seconds.
  • Gently stir in the chopped chocolate and quartered raspberries until well Incorporated
  • Spoon the mixture into 12 cake cases,which you will have placed into a cupcake tray (Lakeland do some great re-usable silicon cases)
  • Bake in the oven for 25-30 minutes or until a skewer or knife comes out clean when inserted in the middle or until the sponge bounces back to the touch. As with the pastry you wont notice a dramatic colour change but the sponge should become darker.
  • Turn out and wait until completely cold before your ice them or your icing will melt and split (yuck)
Mixer method for frosting
  • Whizz the icing sugar and butter in the mixer for 20seconds
  • Add the milk, vanilla essence and food colouring until well combined. Cover with clingfilm and pop in the fridge until ready to use.
  • Once your cupcakes have cooled down spoon and spread the icing onto your cakes and decorate with sprinkles.
The manual method!
  • Cream the butter and sugar together in a large bowl with a wooden spoon
  • Whisk the egg with a fork in a small bowl and add to the sugar and cream stirring until mixed
  • Sift in the flour and stir through with a metal spoon until combined. the mixture will be fairly dry at this stage.
  • Stir in the milk, giving the mixture a good beat until everything is well combined.
  • Gently fold in the raspberries and choccy and spoon into the cases and bake for 25-30minutes.
Manual icing
  • Beat the icing sugar and butter together in a bowl, add the milk,vanilla essence and food colouring beating together until smooth and well Incorporated. cover with clingfilm and pop in the fridge until ready to use.

Saturday, 19 June 2010

Pastry tips for dummies

Here are a few handy tips for those pastry virgins out there!

  • Keep everything as cold as possible. I have naturally icy hands, but if your hands are toasty hold them under some cool water for 30seconds, it will help when you come to kneed your dough. popping the dough in the fridge for 30minutes really will help to keep your pastry together.
  • Try and handle the pastry as little as you can, overworking the dough can lead to cracks.
  • When you roll out your pastry, dust everything with flour, your hands, the rolling pin and your surfaces to stop the dough sticking.
  • If you don't want to use your pastry straight away it will keep in the fridge for a good 2-3 days, and even up to a month in the freezer. This is a good way to keep pastry that is left over, pretty soon you'll save up enough leftover bits of pastry in the freezer to defrost and make into something. Remember not to refreeze once you have de-frosted it.
  • Blind baking with rice or baking beads keeps the dough from rising and 'doming' in the middle during cooking. remember to line the pastry first before throwing in a handful of rice or lentils.

Perfect Pastry

Pastry is hard enough to make at the best of times without throwing in the added factor of trying to make it gluten free as well. Gluten unfortunately is the binding agent in foods which keeps all the ingredients together and keeps the food springy and moist.
But fear not! I have suffered the trials and tribulations of perfecting gluten free pastry so you don't have to!
This recipe covers most of your pastry wants and can be used for quiches,flans and any number of sweet desserts such as lemon meringue pie and treacle tart.
For a while I struggled along using the butter/flour/water recipe that I used to use for normal cooking, until one day I came across a recipe by James Martin on the BBC recipe search which used an egg and I haven't looked back since, the pastry is lighter, tastier and thus far I haven't broken any teeth trying to eat it!
below is my easy peasy recipe for pastry and how to use it to make a yum-in-your-tum treacle tart. Enjoy!

  • 225g (8oz) plain flour (Doves Farm is the best)
  • 110g (4oz) cold butter, cubed
  • 1 medium egg, lightly beaten
  • Sift the flour into a large bowl and rub the butter into the flour with your fingertips until the mixture looks like bread crumbs.
  • Mix the egg into the mixture with a knife. The mixture may still be a little dry, at this stage you can add a few tablespoons of water, but remember you don't want the mixture too wet, just moist enough so that when it is rolled it wont break apart. Pull the mixture together into a ball,cover with clingfilm and pop in the fridge for 30minutes.
  • Pre-heat the oven to Gas mark 5. Next grease a flan/tart case with butter,spread or oil, pick your poison. Roll or flatten the pastry out with your hands onto a floured surface. Gently pick the pastry up and use to line your flan/tart case. Don't worry if it cracks or comes apart in your hands, you can patchwork the dough together in the case and smooth any cracks, once the filling is in no-one will see them anyway. Prick the base with a fork.
  • Line the pastry with some baking parchment and weigh down with rice or dried lentils/beans. Bake blind for 10-15minutes. Remove the parchment and rice and pop back in the oven for a few more minutes. the pastry will not go super golden like normal pastry but there should be some colour change.
For the treacle filling
  • 450g (1lb) golden syrup
  • 85g/3oz gluten free bread
  • pinch of cinnamon
  • zest and juice of a lemon
  • Once your perfect pastry is done its ready for any filling you want to put in it. Whizz the bread up in a blender, if you don't have a blender tear the bread up and crumble it as small as you can with your hands.
  • Next mix all the ingredients for the filling together in a bowl and then spoon over into the pastry case. return to the oven for 30minutes. Serve cold or hot with your choice of cream or ice cream.

Friday, 18 June 2010

I heart Doves Farm

For those who haven't tried or heard of Doves Farm flours should check out the website. Most of the flours and also Xantham gum are available from most supermarkets and are for want of a better word...brilliant!
The range includes bread flours, plain and self raising flours and also rice and gram flours as well as other fab products such as biccies.
I find the flours the best on the market and they are so versatile. A lady in the supermarket last week saw me putting the Doves Farm Plain Flour into my trolley and asked me if I make pastry with it and how I do it and manage to make it un-cardboard like! So the first recipe I'll post for the weekend includes my recipe for Treacle Tart with my tried and tested easy peasy recipe for pastry!

M&S go GF!

Marks and Spencer's have heeded the call of coeliacs the UK over and now do their own gluten free range to add to the chocolate and cherry cake they already did, which if you haven't tried is the yummiest gluten free thing I have ever tasted! The Made Without Wheat range includes rolls, bread and some scrummy looking cakes!
check out the link below to have a look-see!

No Go Foods

NO go foods
  • pasta
  • bread
  • noodles
  • cereals containing barley,rye,malt
  • pastry
  • biscuits
  • cakes
  • sausages
  • baking powder
  • flour
  • cous cous
The best way to check if a product contains gluten is to look at the label, many brands do print a list of allergens including gluten on the back of their packaging and many others also carry the crossed grain logo as below which means the product is suitable for coeliacs.

But beware, there is still a lot of products on the market which do not adhere to such specific packaging. If in doubt, research it. You can sign up for a fee to Coeliac UK and upon registration you will be sent a comprehensive mini handbag size food and drink directory which lists thousands of suitable foods, with hundreds of manufacturer lists including supermarkets. If you don't want to to sign up for membership the guide costs £10 and is renewed yearly with updates available online. It is especially useful if you come across a product which isn't labelled very well or does not specify allergens, the directory will most likely list this phantom food.

Thursday, 17 June 2010

Safe Foods

Safe Foods
  • fresh meat and fish
  • fresh veg and fruit
  • pulses, such as lentils and beans
  • rice
  • rice noodles
  • eggs
  • milk
  • cheese
  • natural yogurt
  • honey
  • sugar
  • maple and golden syrup
  • soya
  • plain tofu (unmarinated unless specified as gluten free)
  • oils, olive oil and pure oils
  • corn
  • corn flour
  • rice flour
  • potatoe flour
  • chickpea flour
  • chestnut flour
  • millet
  • xantham gum
  • bicarbonate of soda
  • quinoa

Welcome to the Wonderful World of A Girls Guide to Gluten free Baking!

Whether your a newly diagnosed coeliac and gluten-free newbie, or a veteran of the GF lifestyle I hope this blog can help you with new ideas for cooking and baking and all round eating!
I know what its like to be newly diagnosed and thinking it was the end of cupcakes and all sorts of baking yumminess, but as time passed I taught myself to make myself what I could'nt get hold of in the supermarkets or online.
I was very lucky, my cousin Tasha was diagnosed with Coeliacs in 2005 just a few months before I was, so most of the recipes and ideas I've accumulated since then have been bounced of her, and between the two of us have been practiced to death. There have been cock-ups and too many dry runs of muffins to count and its a learning curve everytime I attempt to convert recipes to gluten free.
In the beginning I tried to get my hands on as many gluten free recipe books as I could (Phil are my hero) but as I taught myself (belatedly at 23 I might add) to cook and as I read these books I picked up ways and means to make all the tasty things I had eaten and loved when I still ate gluten. Safe, yummy AND equal to their gluten-filled counterparts.
I've posted some helpful links for websites such as Coeliac UK and several suppliers of gluten-free biccies and breads etc such as Glutafin and Tru Free. Also for all the Gluten Free 'Nubes' visiting the blog I've also posted a quick guide to foods which are 'safe' for Coeliacs and a few which most definatly aren't just to get you started.
I must stress I am not a doctor or nutritionist, this blog is simply a culmination of heaps of recipes and ideas that I have had floating around for the past 5/6 years since I was diagnosed. If you need any advice on medical issues concerning nutrition or coeliacs your GP should be more than happy to help you, and as I mentioned above, Coeliac UK are particularly helpful with regards to comprehensive food lists, typical coeliac symptoms and other related questions and support.
Please feel free to send me your own recipes, and if you try mine I'd love to hear any critique you have of them (be gentle!).