Sunday, 31 July 2011

gluten-free gnocchi

An idle few minutes in front of the TV and suddenly I want to try making gnocchi.  I don't know anything about these little potato dumplings, so spend a few minutes looking at various recipes.  They vary a lot- some have potato, flour and egg, some have potato, ricotta and egg, some have potato and flour...and the proportions of the ones with the same ingredients vary enormously.  This is obviously a dish to make and remake until you find one you like.

Somewhere I read that originally these were made with potato and buckwheat.  That makes sense if you lived in Northern Italy where wheat didn't grow and you lived off potatoes.  Buckwheat is a good flour to use if you want to add cohesion to things, but it does have a strong flavour of its own.  A potato and buckwheat gnocchi would give a change from potatoes and buckwheat pancakes as a staple starch.

I made these with one large potato, microwaved until soft.  I slipped the peel off and mashed it thoroughly with a fork and then beat it with a wooden spoon.  I gave my potato ricer away as part of the moving house  tool reduction.

This potato was about 200g.  I added 50g flour and then added beaten egg until I had a dough that was soft but could be handled.  This used about half the large egg.  The last recipe I looked at said add egg to the potato and then add flour to get to the right consistency - so if you can't bear the idea of having egg left over work this way around or make bigger quantities.  This served two with left overs but we don't eat large portions.

The dough feels very pleasant to handle, soft and quite easy to control (though of course it isn't being rolled thin).

Roll the dough into sausages shapes with a little extra flour.  Cut into 1-2cm bits and press with a fork on the top.  The instructions I read said put on your thumb and press with a fork, and I couldn't figure out what that meant.  However, when eating these, it occurred to me that what they had been suggesting would give a depression on one side and ridges on the other, ensuring that any sauce served with these would cling and fill the hollows.

Boil these in water until they rise to the surface.  Drain and serve with whatever amuses you.

TT has always been a bit dismissive of the very idea of gnocchi, but he enjoyed these stirred into frizzled strips of pepperoni and served with rocket salad.

Apricot and almond bites

I wanted to make some cakey cookies - a little like flapjacks but not so sweet and buttery.  I wanted to use apricots for their high iron content.  The almonds, eggs, quinoa and urid make these a high protein snack.

120g almond butter
2 eggs
100g dried chopped apricots (mine are sulphite free so brown rather than orange) blitzed in blender with
100g flour (40% urid, 40% tapioca, 20% cornmeal)
65g  dried apricots, chunks
100g quinoa flakes
50g flaked almonds
50g sugar
25g flaked almonds for topping

Mix the almond butter and egg to a slurry.
Blitz the flour and 100g apricots in blender so that you get a brownish powdery mixture.
Mix flour mix into egg slurry, stir in remaining ingredients except the final 25g almonds.  I added the sugar after tasting the mix - you may want to add more or less sugar/sweetener to meet the taste of your eaters.

Put blobs onto parchment paper/silicon baking sheets, press the final flaked almonds on top.

Bake at 170C fan for about 12-15 minutes.  If you make them thick they will need longer.

I am not too sure about the use of the quinoa flakes.  Quinoa can have a sharp unwelcome flavour from the saponin coating, which the plant uses as an insect/bird repellent.  This is best dealt with by rinsing before use.  If I want flour I tend to use whole quinoa and rinse it well, dry it in the oven then grind it to be sure to remove all of this taint.  With the flakes this rinsing was more difficult to do.  I think I would stick to quinoa flour or cooked quinoa (well rinsed) in future.

Saturday, 23 July 2011

Four cookery demos in two days - checking about other's approaches.

Gloucester Quays  Food Festival 2011

I generally avoid food festivals.  An odd thing for someone obsessed with food, who cooks all the time and is on the committee of their local Slow Food group.  However, food festivals are full of food, and often food that has escaped from packaging and rampages around in people's hands.  How much of that is likely to be gluten free?  Pretty soon every surface has been handled by people who have touched the bread used to dip in fancy oils and vinegars, nibbled the biscuits and cakes, wolfed down pies and pasties.  Dangerous places, food festivals.

I went to this food fair as it isn't too far away and it is the first in that venue.  I booked to see food demos early on the Friday, assuming that it wouldn't bee too full and I could get around safely.  The place was pretty much deserted, so I was right on that assumption.  On the next day, a sunny saturday at the start of the school holidays, the place had a lot more people.  Add to that the TV stars were giving demos, and that meant that the whole large demo tent was filled.

I saw four completely different presentations.

I saw Rob Rees, a campaigner for good food in schools, food writer and chef.  He was clearly competent, managing the audience and his cooking with ease.  He used the demo as a chance to give a lot of food advice.  The organiser with the microphone did nothing other than introduce him.  He cooked salmon, blanched vegetables and salad.   His other dish was steak, crushed potatoes and a red wine  sauce.  Most of the vegetables came from his garden, and he explained his choices for each ingredient.

The second chef was Rob Owens, head chef at a restaurant called Monty's in Cheltenham.  He seemed completely focused on his cooking and didn't chat.  The organiser seemed to feel it necessary to ask questions and run a commentary.  I didn't stay for very long.

The third one, on Saturday morning, was Gino D'Acampo, a TV chef.  He worked his audience with great ease, and managed to introduce sex at almost every point of the event.  He is a very pretty young man with a great deal of flair, and the adulation from the crowd was palpable. He cooked linguine with Gorgonzola and chicken, and a chocolate and cream desert (helped by a young audience member).

The fourth person was Stacey Stewart, who is a Masterchef finalist and runs her own bakery in Sunderland.  She was well organised, informative, got the audience to interact with the making of the food.  She asked for a tall person to help, and got a man who looked like the BFG, to stir her risotto constantly for fifteen minutes.  Five people to try poaching an egg including two children.  She cooked smoked haddock risotto with poached eggs and black pudding.  She also got the participants to wash their hands before handling the food.  She didn't kiss any of them.  The organiser went around the audience with the mike getting questions but didn't need to coax or fill in gaps.

Whilst it would be nice to be as popular as Gino I think that route is unattainable for me!  I did think that Stacey's style was comfortable and considerate, and she is the closest to a role model for me on these demos.  Rob was very good but he did feel a bit too pushy with his message - and his statement that if you eat grapefruit when you take statins it will kill you was definitely extreme!

I still think I would like to do demos.  There are clearly issues of getting timing right, and baking would be harder that other types of cooking.  You need to structure the activity so that there is always something happening. You have to put up with cooking if only one person comes to watch.

I did learn one useful tip by careful watching. Pile all the chopping boards you need on top of each other in the order you need them.  Then you can simply discard them one after the other and keep the cooking process smooth and neat.

Thursday, 21 July 2011

Breakfast muffins, gluten free, dairy free, high fibre

Before I started blogging all my cooking escapades I made some delicious and very nutritious breakfast muffins.  At the time I was doing an Open University Nutrition course, and I designed the muffins to be as complete a food as possible.  If you ate nothing but these muffins all day you met your daily RDAs for lots of food components, including protein and fibre.  Unfortunately, being written on a scrap of paper I can't find the recipe.

As I am due to  be on a writing course next month where I will need to take my own food to be sure to avoid contamination I thought I had better get on with recreating a version of this recipe.

This muffin has a complex slightly sweet flavour.  I haven't done the nutritional analysis of it, but it is a high fibre food with no highly processed sugars.  The sweetness comes from dried fruit, bananas, butternut squash and a bit of agave syrup, which has a low GI.  Adjust your seeds and fruit to suit what you like and have available. Almonds would also be a good addition - I read a study the other day that said a few whole almonds with breakfast kept you satiated longer.  I kept this nut free as a base recipe.

If you want to use quinoa in your baking but don't like the odd taste it can give, rinse it first.  If you need it dry for the recipe, then put it in a warm oven for a few minutes after rinsing.

150g mashed bananas (two small or one large)
100g roasted butternut squash (it would work grated raw, I just had some available ready roasted)
150g sunflower oil
100g flour
4 tsp baking powder
30g sunflower seeds plus 10g for topping
15g pumpkin seed plus 10g for topping
25g buckwheat
30g quinoa
15g linseed
70g raisins
60g blueberries/cranberry mix
50g agave syrup plus 1 tsp for topping

Put the seeds, buckwheat etc in a blender and grind.  I left the sunflower whole as I like a bit of texture. Add some of the flour and the raisins and grind so that the mixture looks like dark coarse flour.

Mix this with remaining flour and baking powder.

Mash banana and squash, add egg and oil.

Mix wet and dry ingredients together.

Divide mixture between 12 muffin cases.  Mix 1 tsp of agave syrup with the 10g g each of pumpkin and sunflower seed and sprinkle this on top of the muffins.  It isn't necessary but looks inviting and gives a sweet crunchy texture to the top.

Cook at 180C for 25 minutes in muffin cases.

Tuesday, 19 July 2011


I normally make souffle using cornflour to thicken the sauce before mixing in with egg yolk, whipped egg white and whatever flavouring I am using.  As I have run out of cornflour I thought I would find out how my usual flour mix (40% urid 40% tapioca, 205 cornmeal) works in a roux, and thus in a souffle.

The roux worked fine - just use the same technique you would use with ordinary wheat flour - 1 tbsp of butter, 1 tbsp of flour, melt butter, stir in flour, cook for a minute to remove raw flavour.

Add hot milk (I used rice milk), stir in egg yolk when cool enough not to cook yolk, add flavouring.  I used grated Parmesan and chopped broccoli with a pinch of chilli powder and pepper.  Gently fold in whisked egg whites, turn into greased dish and cook in 170C oven for 20-25 minutes.  I like souffle firmly cooked all the way through, but officially you are supposed to have the middle still a bit runny (yuk).  So, cook to the point you like it.  I do sometimes put souffles back into the oven to cook a bit more after starting to serve - take the cooked bits from around the edge and let the rest cook a few minutes more.

The souffle was fine.  I reckon it was indistinguishable from any other souffle I have made, no matter what thickener I used.

Sunday, 17 July 2011

Seedy raisin mozarella bread

Still finding out what the mozzarella bread will do.  Today's version has a variety of seeds and nuts and raisins in to give a warm sweet flavour.  The addition of an egg didn't change the texture much, but with the egg, nuts, lentils and cheese this is a high protein bread.  I made loaves using my Lazy Bread method (one rise in the tin and turn the oven on without taking the loaves out) and some rolls shaped with a bit of extra flour and left to rise again.

This bread is delicious.  It slices easily, holds its shape, has an even texture, and a flavour good with cheese or honey...if you want a sweet tea bread add more sugar and raisins, some spice...whatever you would have put in a wheat bread.  TT says it tastes like artisan bread but not as tough in the crust as Greek bread, but the size of the hole, the texture and the way it tears it behaves like artisan bread.  It  provides a good base for other flavours to shine.


400g flour
250 mozzarella cheese, grated
mixed nuts and seeds - ground or chopped
20g buckwheat
10g brown linseed
10g sesame
10g poppy
20g pecan nuts
40g raisins
1 tsp yeast
2 tsp sugar
1 egg
water added to egg to make up to 500ml (this makes a very sloppy dough, use less water if just making rolls)

Chop or grind seeds and nuts to texture you want.

Mix dry ingredients together including mozzarella.  Mix egg and water.  Mix dry and wet ingredients.

For loaves scoop into greased baking tins - fill to two thirds of the tin.  Leave to rise in the oven with a dish of steaming water on the base.  When the dough reaches the top of the tins turn on oven to 180C and cook for 30minutes.  I have a fan oven, which heats up very fast.  I have no idea if this will work with the slow increase in temperature of a non-fan oven.  If you don't have a fan, just move the dough into the preheated oven very carefully or don't let it rise right to the top of the tin!

Lower temperature to 150C and cook for another ten - twenty minutes.  The timings are approximate as they depend on the size of the tin you are using.  As a rule of thumb I find the bread takes about as long as a wheat loaf at the higher temperature, then about half the time again at the lower temperature.  The mix takes a lot longer to dry out than a wheat loaf would. If in doubt, cook it a bit longer!  Leave it to cool in the tin for a while and handle gently when tipping out.

For rolls, leave until the dough starts rising.  Flour your hands and the baking tray, shape lightly using plenty of flour to avoid sticking.  Leave to rise again then bake in a hot oven. My rolls are a bit bigger than a normal hot-dog roll; I cooked them for 20 minutes at 180 and 10 minutes at 150C.

Eat fresh, or slice and store in the freezer until wanted.

Saturday, 16 July 2011

Biscotti - gluten free. Double orange and orange and chocolate

chocolate orange biscotti (cup by local potter)

I regularly make biscotti but as they keep so well I realised I hadn't tried my standard flour mix with them - I used to make it with a mix of ground almonds, urid lentils and tapioca.  So, today, pouring with rain outside and nothing else that must be done...two biscotti recipes. I am going to follow the English habit of referring to 'biscotti' as both singular and plural - in effect as if it is a biscuit name.  Any Italians, sorry.

I base my biscotti on the biscotti alla mandorle from the River Cafe Cook Book Green, by Rose Gray and Ruth Rogers, just swapping the flours, and adding anything else that pleases me to adjust the flavour.

150g whole blanched almonds, coarsely chopped
100g pine kernels
1 tsp vanilla
250g caster sugar
250g flour ( 40% urid, 40% tapioca, 20% cornmeal)
1 tsp baking powder
2 large eggs
finely grated zest 2 oranges

For recipe 1 I added 100g of crystallised orange peel I made last winter.  I just chopped this coarsely and added it with the chopped almonds.

For recipe 2 I added 100g of plain chocolate drops.  I use Callebaut Belgian chocolate.  I buy it in 2.5kg bags from my local trade store, and always have the white, milk, 54% and 70.4% chocolate drops in stock. I know, that makes a lot of chocolate to keep, but it is very easy to cook with and tastes very good.


Heat oven to 180C fan

Chop the almonds coarsely and toast for a few minutes in the oven with the pine kernels to a toasty golden.  Watch out you don't let them burn, and tip them onto a cool dish when you take them out of the oven or they may overcook from the residual heat  in the tin.  Let them cool.  If you forget to do them first you can speed up the cooling by putting them in a large metal bowl in a tub of iced water.

Mix the flour, sugar and baking powder together.   Mix the wet ingredients (including zest) and add to the dry ingredients.  You will have to work quite hard to get them to mix- probably easier in a mixer but for some reason I have always done this by hand.

Mix in the (cooled) nuts and kernels.  Mix in the chopped crystallised peel or chocolate drops.

Shape into two long thin logs and place on a buttered sheet or preferably on a silicon sheet.

logs - first baking

Cook for 15 minutes until the dough is setting.  If it is too gooey to cut neatly put back in the oven for a few minutes.

Remove from the oven and cut into whatever size pieces you want.  I tend to make these quite small as normal store-bought biscotti size is too big for us when made with such rich ingredients.

The chocolate tended to smear when cutting.  If this will bother you try leaving the dough after this first setting until fully cooled and the chocolate has re-set.  I think if you then slice and re-bake you will get neat chocolate biscotti.  Anyone tried this?

Place back in the oven on their sides and bake for another five minutes, turn, and bake again.

slices - second baking

They should be lightly browned.  You can take them out earlier if you like a chewier biscotti, but we like them quite crisp, and it means they keep very well.

biscotti- double orange

biscotti -chocolate orange

Keep in an air-tight tin.  They last for months.  They make good handbag emergency food as they don't go off quickly when carried around for a few days, and the high protein content makes them satisfying.

Friday, 15 July 2011

Stuffed-crust pizza with mozzarella dough

I made a batch of the mozzarella dough but using a quicker technique for a pizza.  I set fingers of mozzarella on the rim of the pressed out disc and covered with more dough, squeezing to join.  I then covered this with tomato sauce, and other pizza toppings.

TT says this pizza is so good we don't need to go to pizza restaurants anymore - though I do need to source excellent topping ingredients now.

Ingredients for dough:
250g flour
125 g mozzarella (grated)
225 water (less water as not leaving dough so long)
1 tsp yeast (double yeast as wanted quicker result)
1/4 tsp garlic salt
1/4 tsp oregano

Mix dry ingredients including grated mozzarella together, stir in water.  Leave to sit, covered, in a warm place until it is clear dough is rising.

Press out onto non-stick sheet, sprinkled with flour or cornmeal.  Make rim if wanted by placing cheese strips along edge and covering with dough. Cover with whatever toppings wanted.

Bake 180C for 15 minutes and lower to 160C for a further ten minutes.

I'll have to see how this works with the lactose free cheese available in the supermarkets - it has little flavour so I haven't been tempted by it, preferring instead the superb artisan Cheddars from the West Country that are lactose free due to the traditional processes and long slow maturation.  If the (rather plastic) cheese can do the textural wonders that mozzarella does it would be very convenient - I ate (no milk products) bread and peanut butter for my lunch while he tucked into this pizza.

Crusty and soft - artisan style gluten-free bread

Wow!  A chance to write that set of words in a title!

I have been experimenting further with the mozzarella cheese bread.  I made bagels and rolls.  The bagels were less impressive than I hoped, a bit too damp textured, so maybe longer cooking would be all that it took. They also behaved quite differently when place in the boiling water - they sank first, which is something wheat bagels do but I haven't had that before with my gf bagels.  I didn't boil them long enough either, as they carried on rising in the oven enough to go 'blind', that is the holes mostly filled in.

However, the rolls are amazing.  I can't eat them (apart from a tiny test), being full of cheese, but TT is very complementary.  They look, feel and taste good.

500g flour (40%urid, 40% tapioca, 20% cornmeal)
500ml water
1 tsp yeast
250g mozzarella, grated

Mix water, flour, and yeast together, cover and leave to rise. Gently stir in grated mozzarella and shape into rolls.  Make them higher than you want them to end up as they will spread out a bit.  I found that even with a very damp dough I could produce a good shape with heavily floured hands.  Place on a floured tray and leave to rise.

risen dough and cheese - note air bubbles

Cook for 30 minutes at 170C, or longer for bigger loaves.  I set the oven at a lower temperature and cooked for longer to encourage the interior to dry well.

Tuesday, 12 July 2011

Gooseberry cobbler - with frozen dough

I made a cobbler with blackberries yesterday, and froze half the dough to see how it would work used straight from the freezer.  I took frozen gooseberries, put them into a small dish with a teaspoon of sugar, and placed the piece of frozen cobbler dough on top.  I cooked this for 30 minutes in a 180C oven.

The cobbler worked well and the fruit was succulent.  This is a very easy way of making an individual pudding or a family sized one, having done all the work whenever it is convenient.

For any international readers. the English call gooseberries a small hard very sour fruit with prickles on the berries.  These prickles become too soft to notice in your mouth when eating, even though you can still see them in the photographs.  One of the clearest memories I have of my sense of dislocation when I came to England was being told we had been given a basket of gooseberries ( I envisaged Cape Gooseberries, Physallis, succulent orange berries in their individual paper case) and it was these hard sour prickly green things.

Blackberry cobbler

I had some frozen blackberries in the freezer, and needed a cobbler to photograph for the new cookery book.  Here is a very easy cobbler recipe.

I based the recipe on using one whole egg.  This made enough batter for two oval dishes 23cmx15cm, each enough for four portions.  I sometimes freeze a whole dish once cooked, but this time I froze half the dough as dollops on a non-stick sheet.  I'll blog how well these work cooked direct from frozen later.

175g flour (40%urid, 40% tapioca, 20 cornmeal)
4 tsp baking powder
75g butter or other fat suitable for baking
75g sugar
1 egg
75ml rice or other milk (add extra if dough too stiff)
15g flaked almonds (optional)

I used the food processor bowl to weigh and mix this dough but you can easily do it by hand, especially if you use a soft margarine.

Mix dry ingredients thoroughly.
Cut in butter until finely dispersed
Mix egg and milk together and stir into flour mixture

Place in dollops on top of the fruit.  Use whatever type of fruit you like and have handy.  You can easily adjust the ratio of fruit to topping to suit your own preferences.  There should be gaps between the dollops so that some of the fruit shows through when the pudding is cooked.

Sprinkle with flaked almonds if using.

Cook in a pre-heated over, 180C for 35minutes.

Test for doneness as you would any other cake - if a knife inserted into the cobbler comes out without uncooked dough sticking to it the pudding is done.  If you find it needs longer turn the temperature down to allow the mixture to cook without burning the top. If I use a lot of frozen fruit I find it can take an extra ten minutes for the cobbler to cook where it touches the fruit.

Monday, 11 July 2011

Twinings Tea- all suitable for coeliacs

As part of  Facebook conversation about symptoms following the drinking of tea, I worte to Twinings to ask about their teas.  I got this helpful response:

Dear Lois,

Thank you for your e-mail.

In response to your enquiry I can advise that all of our teas and infusions are suitable for coeliacs. They do not contain gluten or wheat, or products thereof.

I hope this information is o f assistance and should your any further enquiries do not hesitate to contact me.

Kind Regards,

Christine Taylor
Customer Services Team
R Twining & Co Ltd
T: 0845 601 9612

Sunday, 10 July 2011

Blackcurrant Frangipan

blackcurrant frangipan tart

Just picked the last of the blackcurrants - so with 100g of these fruit needed a recipe to use them up. Blackcurrants by themselves have a very strong flavour, so a filling that combined the fruit with a bulky mild flavour seemed appropriate.

I had two chocolate tart cases left over from the raspberry creme tarts, which I had frozen.   If you don't have any frozen pastry cases just make some tart shells, bake for ten minutes then continue.

These tarts have a very complex and interesting flavour.  The chocolate pastry is crisp and sweet, the filling succulent, and the berries a bright burst of flavour.  Chocolate, almond and blackcurrant is a great combination.

frozen tart shell

For two 12cm tart cases:

50g butter, soft
70g caster sugar
100g ground almond
1 egg

100g blackcurrants

Beat sugar and butter together until light.  Add egg and mix well, add ground almond and mix.  Spoon this frangipan mixture into the tart cases (pre-cooked) and sprinkle blackcurrants on top.

Cook at 160C for 35 minutes until filling doesn't wobble when you move the tart.  Leave to cool.

before cooking

Saturday, 9 July 2011

soft white bread - with mozzarella cheese

bread interior

When I was researching breads I came across South American breads made with tapioca flour and cheese.    I didn't try them as I didn't have the right kind of cheese, and I try to avoid milk based foods due to my lactose intolerance.  However, I have been experimenting with lactase for pre-treating milk, and have lactase tablets for eating if I have diary with a meal (particularly useful when eating out).

This bread recipe makes a very soft moist bread with a mild cheesy flavour - still ok for eating with jam (think cheesecake), as well as savory foods.  It has good coherence, is soft, flexible and moist. It works very well as a sandwich, and I suspect would be excellent for making grilled sandwiches (panini). TT likes this so much that I am going to try a bagel with added mozzarella for him soon.  He says it is like soft white bread but without the annoying vanishing into nothing attributes.

I used more yeast than I would usually use to make a quick bread for lunch.  If you want the nutritional and taste benefits of a slow fermentation use less yeast.

Ingredients (one loaf shaped a bit like ciabatta):

125g mozzarella (the firm type) - grated
125g flour (40% urid, 40% tapioca, 20% cornmeal)
1 tsp yeast
1 tsp sugar
1/4tsp baking powder
70ml yogurt
60ml water

Mix dry ingredients together, stir in grated mozzarella, mix in yogurt and enough water to make a sticky dough.  Leave to rise, covered, in a warm place.  Tip out onto a greased baking tray and bake for 20minutes at 180C

dough on greased tin
cooked loaf

Friday, 8 July 2011

Tea bags - glue? gluten-free? Taylors of Harrogate

I am following a Facebook thread where tea sometimes causes problems for coeliacs.  Some herbal teas have barley in, but the writers were finding even tea with no named gluten-bearing product caused their usual symptoms.  Someone said they had come across teabags which were glued with a glue which contained wheat.  I wondered what was in the teabags I used - just curiosity, I have no problems with them so was pretty sure no wheat had got anywhere near them.

I wrote to Taylors of Harrogate and Twinings.  Within a couple of hours Taylors had replied:

Dear Lois

Many thanks for your enquiry, the teabag paper is not actually sealed with glue.
The teabag paper is made up in several layers. One side of the paper incorporates a very thin web of a meltable plastic (polypropylene).
Just to explain further polypropylene is a really commonly used plastic in the food industry, if you have any Tupperware at home the containers are made out of polyprop.

Hope this helps.

Kind regards

Judith Wagstaff

Customer Services Team
Taylors of Harrogate

So, I learnt more than I expected - aren't modern food packaging processes amazing!  

Thursday, 7 July 2011

McDonald's fries - are they gluten free?

I have been following a Facebook conversation on which McDonald's fries around the world are fully gluten free. I don't think I have been in a McDonald's for about thirty years (and I was vegetarian the one time I did that, so you can imagine I ate well!), but I know my niece uses them as their meat patties are gf.

I had a quick look on the web.  Their ingredients page is very easy to use and states that their fries are completely gluten free. They are cooked in dedicated frying vats.  I don't eat fried food unless I can be sure a dedicated fryer that isn't used for any breaded items is used, so this is useful to know.

Tuesday, 5 July 2011

Mediterranean Vegetable muffins

I am taking my mother and sister for a day out tomorrow to celebrate my mother's birthday.  I just checked the restaurant details at the place we are going to, and it says that, in the high season, they have 'lunch platters' rather than their usual meals.  This sounds like the sort of think where you don't get much choice, and everything is piled on a plate together and wrapped.  I may be wrong, but the line was busy when I rang to check.  So, the usual - take something with me to eat.

I made these little muffins as they are easy to eat with salad or soup or as a meal by themselves.  They have a little bit of Parmesan cheese (24months matured), so there should be very little lactose in them.  This could be left out.


1 onion, chopped
1 red pepper ( I use the pointed variety), charred and skinned, chopped
1 inch round of aubergine, chopped
1 garlic clove, chopped finely
Basil leaves, chopped, or other herb as wanted
3 olives, very finely chopped
250g flour (40% urid, 40& tapioca, 20% cornmeal)
1 tbsp baking powder
1/4 tsp mustard powder
25g Parmesan, grated
3 eggs, separated
225ml water
100ml olive oil

Cook chopped onion and aubergine in some of the oil until soft, add red pepper and garlic and cook for a few minutes more.  Stir in chopped herbs and olives.

Sift/whisk flour with baking powder and mustard.  Mix in with vegetables and Parmesan

Mix egg yolks in with oil and water and add to flour/vegetable mixture.  Stir until fully incorporated.  It does look a bit gross; don't worry.

Whisk egg whites and fold gently into mixture.

Spoon/pour into muffin cases - mixture makes 10-12.

Cook at 180C for 25 minutes.

This makes a light muffin.  If you want a denser one don't whisk the egg white.

The flavour of these is quite subtle - add more of whatever takes your fancy to pep it up- chilli, whole cherry tomatoes, rosemary...

Pastry - frozen uncooked and used as needed

I froze some of my pastry in little circles, placed between sheets of greaseproof paper.  I rustled up some mini-quiches the other day using these.  I let the pastry discs defrost for a few minutes, so that they would be flexible enough to press into the tartlet tins.  If I had been placing apple slices or brie on top I could have used them frozen.

Into the little tart cases I put some chopped ham, cheese and beaten egg.  Served with salad these made a pleasant lunch.  TT says the pastry tasted and felt the same as if it had been made fresh.