Tag Archives: gluten free

Farinata and Friday night Tray of Treats

We used to do our main shopping on a Saturday as this is how things naturally fell, and it coincides with market day. And I do love a market. This meant that, come Friday, the fridge was a little bare and, often, my partner would be away on Friday. He is really good at conjuring something out of nothing in the kitchen, a skill my mother also has but not one that I’ve inherited.

I’m not bad at cooking but I need to a) be in my own kitchen b) have ingredients c) have a plan. Thus it was that, often, on a Friday, I would want and need to pull together a dinner for me and the children made out of not very much. And this is where I invented the Tray of Treats.

This is basically a fun and slightly misleading name for leftovers and bits dragged out of the depths of the fridge and cupboards. Although, these days, it’s become such an institution that we do tend to shop specially for Tray of Treats, back in the day it was crudites, bits of cheese, ham, bread sticks and whatever else could be cut up and look small and canape sized.

This is where these farinata come in. (Farinata literally means a ‘flouring’.) They are great as last minute bread, easy to make, gluten free and need almost no prepping. The slathering of extra virgin oil and salt makes them, so don’t skimp on this bit, because that would be to miss the point of them.

I use a 26cm skillet and it makes two big ones, which you slice up into wedges. Chickpea, or gram flour, is high in protein so these are gut-bustingly filling. These are also great little snacks to serve with a drink of an early evening.

150g chickpea flour

Two tablespoons of extra virgin olive oil plus extra for drizzling and cooking – use the best you have

half a teaspoon of baking powder

One teaspoon of salt, plus sea salt for sprinkling

Fresh rosemary sprigs, chopped

Pour the flour, the two tablespoons of olive oil, baking powder and salt in a mixing bowl and, using a balloon whisk, whisk through 300ml of cold water. I use filtered water. If you use normal water be aware you might get a bit of scum on top of your batter after resting, if so, just skim it off. I never get it, and you may not.

Whisk this up until you get a batter. Now if you want to make the farinata now, rest the batter for ten minutes and heat up the oven to 240C, if not, put it in the fridge for later and just remember to heat up the oven before you start. The batter keeps for a day or so so you can also make one pancake today and one tomorrow (they are delicious with curries).

When ready to cook, put some extra virgin olive oil – about a tablespoon – in a frying pan that can go in the oven. I know it seems wrong to use extra virgin to fry with, and I don’t normally, but it works here trust me. Spread the olive oil around so it coats all of the pan, let it heat up and then pour half the batter in. When the mixture starts to bubble, scatter over the snipped up rosemary leaves and cook until the sides are golden, then transfer to the oven for ten minutes.

You know it’s ready when it’s crisp at the edge and has a soft centre. Flip it out of the pan (it should come out easily) sprinkle with sea salt and drizzle, generously, with the extra virgin olive oil. And marvel, at how few ingredients can make something so delicious.

My lovely Italian friend Sonia, who is a very talented chef, and from Livorno (where farinata originates, although it’s called torta di ceci there and they sometimes have it in between two slices of bread!), contacted me to tell me that the way I make it isn’t authentic: you shouldn’t use rosemary or extra virgin olive oil as it ‘overpowers the delicate taste of the chick peas’. This is apparently how you do it properly (it’s in Italian, sorry). But I love my way so will continue to do it like that, but, you know, authenticity is important so it’s good to know what one is mucking about with…

Advertisements

Lovely, nutty tasting (but with no nuts) poppy seed oatcakes

These are wonderfully nutty tasting, and you’ll be convinced there are nuts therein. But there are no nuts. They are very frangible, so don’t roll them too thin, and when cooked don’t be too rough with them. Lovely with some cheese, of course, but I also sometimes have them for breakfast with some almond butter and a smidge of apricot jam on top.

Being full of oats ‘n’ seeds, they are particularly good for you, too.

(Note: I’ve put these under gluten free, oats are naturally gluten free but some have gluten in due to the manufacturing process so look at the packet your oats come in.)

These are from Hugh F-W’s Light and Easy book.

150g medium oatmeal

150g porridge oats (not the jumbo variety, if you have those, give them a quick spin in a food processor)

One tablespoon of ground linseeds

One tablespoon of poppy seeds

One tablespoon of sunflower or pumpkin seeds, or half of each

half a teaspoon of salt

75ml of sunflower or other tasteless oil

You will also need 100-150ml of boiled water

Baking parchment

 

Oven to 180C.

Put all the ingredients, save for the oil and water, into a bowl. Make a well in the middle and now add the oil and mix the ingredients around. Add 100ml of just boiled water and mix to a sticky wet dough, if you need to, add up to 50ml more but try not to if possible. This will seem like an unpromising dough and won’t be like a smooth dough, such as you may be used to.

Now you need two sheets of baking parchment to roll the dough out. Not too thin. Cut into squares – just free form with a knife, you don’t need to be madly exact. Hugh recommends cutting the square in two so you get triangles and I like this shape, too.

Don’t be tempted to use a cookie cutter. But do ball up and re-roll any off cuts. I shaped the last one by hand, in a butter-patting style.

Put on baking parchment lined baking tray and cook for 20-25 mins until just coloured. These give out a lot of steam (cos of the water) so be careful when you open the oven. You don’t want them too cook too much and be too dark, but equally they do need to be cooked so if your oven is temperamental, check after 15 minutes. The surface should be dry – no bubbling bits of steam – but not too coloured. Mine took about 22 minutes in a quite fierce oven. You may need to cook in two batches, I did.

This makes about 20-24, depending, on course, on the size.

 

Raw chocolate and orange tart (gluten free, dairy free)

For a while I’ve been meaning to make a raw chocolate tart. I keep seeing recipes for them and I love a birruva treat every day after my lunch. But. I don’t always want that sugar high/low I get after eating pastry (much as I adore pastry). Anyway. I saw this in Delicious magazine and I’ve adapted it every so slightly. Next time, I think I’d make some changes to the base, too – I would use toasted (sssh, I know that won’t make it raw but it will make it delish) nuts instead of the dessicated coconut.

If you don’t like coconut you won’t like this, but otherwise, this is a really intense chocolate treat. It still feels ‘spoily’ and not too worthy. It lasts a good long while so you can have a slither every day and it tastes even better after a few days. I warn you, the chocolate hit is powerful.

For the base:

110g coconut oil

140g ground almonds

175g dessicated coconut

2 tablespoons of honey

1 tablespoon of raw cocoa (I buy it in 1K bags and it works out at quite good value compared to the Green and Blacks one I used to buy)

For the filling:

75g dates

Zest and juice of one orange

50g coconut oil

175g honey (I used mostly honey and some maple as I ran out)

140g raw cocoa powder

Method

Soak the dates in some boiling water for about half an hour then drain them, and discard the water.

Put the ingredients for the base (not the dates, they aren’t part of it yet) in a food processor until it starts to clump together, then tip into a 23cm loose based tart tin. Don’t wash the food processor up yet!

You don’t need to grease the tin or anything (although be warned, the first slice is hard to cut). Flatten it down and up the sides with your fingers, cover with cling film and put in the fridge.

So much easier than pastry isn’t it?

Now put the drained dates, plus all the other ingredients for the filling, into the food processor and whizz up. I found it made quite a sticky mess that was hard to liberate, fully, from the bowl and blade but do your best. Spoon the filling into the case and put it in the fridge. But, once it’s been in the fridge, I find it tastes nice for being out of the fridge for ten minutes.

You only need a tiny slice.

 

Cauliflower-crust pizza (gluten free)

I am not a fan of food, which, under the umbrella of ‘being healthy’, pretends to be something else and in so doing, delivers only disappointment. Courgette strips instead of pasta, yoghurt when you really need cream, vegetables in cake (which I admit can sometimes work)..cauliflower instead of pizza…

This isn’t anything like a pizza. I warn you now. But if, as I do, you like to have a lunch with a ‘base’ and lots of veg¬†then this is a really good, gluten-free, wheat-free and tasty (yes really) offering. To me, it didn’t taste like cauliflower at all, more like a lovely parmesan crust. My partner was a veggie for 20 years; he views such things with deep suspicion, having been offered beans, made into the shape of a lacklustre burger for many years. But he was impressed and delighted.

I got the recipe from Delicious Magazine (no link because it doesn’t appear to be online), and I’ve halved the ingredients to make it ideal for two, for lunch. I followed the recipe topping but obviously you can add whatever you want. We happened to have some pesto made by my eldest (she makes it better than I do, taking it off me and saying “here Mummy, let me show you”. I love how she is confident like this). You could, feasibly, leave the pesto¬†out and add a drizzle of olive oil or chilli oil, or just, you know, BUY SOME.

225g cauliflower florets
1 medium egg
75g ground almonds
25g grated parmesan
salt and pepper
1 courgette
2 slices of Parma ham
120g ricotta
Pesto and mint to serve

Heat the oven to 200C and put in a large baking sheet. Now, put the florets in a food processor and blitz so it looks like cous cous. Put in a bowl and add the egg (which you have lightly beaten), ground almonds, parmesan and a bit of salt and pepper (not too much salt as the parmesan is also salty). Stir together.

On a piece of baking parchment, spoon out two portions. I sort of shaped it by hand, into two round shapes. It was easy, no rolling and although the mixture is wet and you think it won’t work, it does.

When you’ve done this, take out the baking sheet (which will be hot!) and gently slide the baking parchment onto the baking sheet. Cook for about 20 minutes or until golden and firm to the touch. Check after 15 minutes.

Whilst that’s cooking, slice the courgette into ribbons.

When the bases are cooked, take out and keeping them on the baking sheet, scatter over the ricotta, courgette and ham. Cook for another five minutes and then, spoon a bit of pesto and scatter some mint leaves atop.

2016 update: I just love this dish. What I tend to do is spread a thin layer of chilli jam/caramelised onion/chorizo jam over the base, then layer on the courgette and ricotta but also add (ssssh) some slices of chorizo, which I love. This really is tasty! When it’s cooked I drizzle on some olive oil (extra virgin).

 

 

A totally wheat free cake: almond, pistachio and lime cake

I only realised this was wheat free when I was half way through making it. I do eat wheat. Lots of it, but I realise not everyone does or can, so I hope this helps some of you.

Despite the lack of any sort of flour, this cake does rise quite a bit, thanks to the four eggs. And it feels light. But it’s packed with protein so it’s quite filling and certainly you don’t get that huge blood sugar crash after eating it. Which can only be a positive thing (I’m choosing to only see it as a positive thing).

So in essence this is a light, moist, delicious cake which I think you’ll find hard to overeat. It needs no adornment or accompaniment other than a cup of strong coffee or, for you English peeps, a cup of tea.

It’s from the Donna Hay magazine, incidentally, which is my favourite foodie magazine.

You need:

150g unsalted very soft butter

165g caster sugar

The finely grated zest of a lime (equivalent to one tablespoon but I never measure it)

1 teaspoon of vanilla extract

4 eggs, at room temperature

180g ground almonds

130g ground pistachios (I ground these myself in my electric grinder, stuff of five minutes)

Honey for drizzling a-top

What you do:

Oven to 160C.

Put the butter, sugar, lime rind and vanilla extract in an electric mixer and whisk for 10-12 minutes, until the mixture has turned pale and creamy. It’s a heck of a lot of mixing isn’t it? But there you go. Then add the eggs one at a time, scraping down the mixture as you go. This is the hardest bit.

Now take the bowl out of the mixer and manually, fold through the ground nuts. Spoon into a 2lb loaf tin which you have lined with baking parchment and bake for 1hr to 1 hr 10mins until a test comes out clean. Cool completely in the tin then spoon some honey over the top.