Wednesday, 13 February 2013

Gluten free staffordshire oatcakes

It's snowing today, Ive got a stinking cold and a husband laid up with a bad back. The only sensible response to all of that is oatcakes with bacon and cheese for breakfast. Oatcakes freeze beautifully and make a very fast, filling meal. They can be quickly reheated and are a fantastic way to make leftovers into a treat.

 It's hard to say how many this recipe will make. I made around 15 last night, plus a few that went in the bin! It depends on how thick you make them, how wide, and how many go wrong before you get the hang of it.

8 oz/ 225 g gluten free oats
8 oz/ 225 g gluten free flour*
1 Tbsp/ 15g dried active yeast
1 tsp salt
1 tsp sugar
1 pint warm water
1 pint warm milk (you may need more to thin the batter)
1/2 pint / 284 ml buttermilk

Grind the oats into a fine meal in a blender or food processor. This only takes a minute or so and doesn't have to be perfect. Or you can buy oatmeal but I've never seen a gluten free one. Add the flour, yeast, salt and sugar. Stir to mix all the dry ingredients thoroughly. Add the warm water, milk and buttermilk and whisk until it's a smooth batter. Cover and leave for an hour in a warm spot.
 Wipe a frying pan with a little oil and heat it up.  I use a non stick chapatti pan I got from Wilkinson's. It's amazing for pancakes, tortillas, oatcakes... all sorts. Traditionally you should use a cast iron frying pan but mine has bacon in it! You need a medium high heat for these. If your batter seems to be a good consistency (thicker than pancake batter but you need to be able to spread it easily so not too much thicker) then great! You may need to add some extra milk. I find it best to try out an oat cake then adjust as necessary. Put some batter on your pan - how much depends on how big you're going to make your oatcakes. I suggest starting with a fairly small one - a few spoonfuls of mixture. For a full size oatcake a ladle full does the trick nicely. Use the back of a spoon to gently spread the mixture out into a circle - pushing the mixture outwards does this best. You want the mixture to be about 3mm thick while cooking and to have holes forming. While it's cooking, the oatcake is sticky and tricky to move. Wait until the top is set and dry looking (if the bottom is over cooking before this happens, reduce the heat) then flip it over and cook for 2-3 minutes more. Just like pancakes, they tend to get better as you go along!

 The traditional filling is bacon and cheese. However just about anything is great in an oatcake! Sausage, mushrooms, onions, leftover cooked chicken, roasted vegetables... If you insist, you can even have them sweet with pancake type fillings. I tend to fill mine with leftovers and cheese while still hot so the cheese melts.

 One of the best things about oatcakes is how well they freeze and how fast you can make a meal with them from frozen! Cool your oatcakes right down before freezing them with a piece of parchment between them so you can take out however many you want. Wrap them up tightly or put them in a big ziplock bag with the air sucked out to prevent freezer burn.
 When you want to cook them, you can defrost them if you are organized. If you are more like me, take them out and put one in the frying pan. Cook for a minute on the first side, then flip. I then add my filling and transfer it to a plate to roll and eat when the cheese starts to melt. You could also put them in the microwave (I don't have one), steam them between two plates over a pan of water (traditional) or warm them in the oven for a few minutes (just watch they don't dry out).

* I favour the mock better batter blend from the book 'gluten free on a shoestring - quick and easy'. It gives good all round results but sadly is quite pricy. Doves farm plain also works. I would suggest that tapioca starch makes up part of the gluten free flour as its great for making things bendy. If you are using flour with out it, I recommend adding a tsp of xanthan gum to the batter with the flours.

Friday, 2 March 2012


I made some vegetable pakoras to go with our curry this evening. They are a great way to use up leftovers of any type - vegetables, cooked meat - what ever is lurking in the fridge. Tonight I used some chopped chard, onion and sweetcorn.

For the batter
125g gram (chickpea) flour
1 tsp ground coriander
1 tsp ground cumin
1/2 tsp turmeric
1/4 tsp salt
1 tsp baking powder
125g water
Ghee or other oil for frying

For the filling
2 cups of chopped vegetables or meat. I recommend cooked chicken and spinach, or half slices of onion

Put the gram flour, spices and baking powder into a bowl and stir well to remove any lumps. Beat in the water to make a smooth batter. Fold in the filling of your choice. Heat the ghee in a frying pan over a medium heat. Put the batter into the oil in spoonfuls, forming rough patties. Try not to fry too many at once as is makes them hard to turn and greasier. Fry for 2-3 minutes, then turn and fry for 2-3 minutes more. Remove from the pan to a plate lined with kitchen paper. Serve with raitha or chutneys.

Lamb Rogan Josh

This can be made with beef too - a very tasty dish. You can vary the heat by changing the proportions of chili and paprika. I made it this way tonight for my kids, but they love a bit of spice!

6 cups water
1/2 tsp salt
4 cloves garlic, peeled and chopped
500g lamb + a few lamb bones
2 onions, finely chopped
2 tbsp ghee or dripping
6 cloves
6 green cardamom pods
2 bay leaves
1 tsp fennel seeds
1 tsp ground cumin
1 tsp ground ginger
1/2 tsp ground turmeric
2 tsp paprika + 1 tsp chili powder
1/2 cup yogurt

Put the lamb, bones, garlic, salt and water in a large pan and simmer for 20 minutes. Skim off any scum that rises. Remove the meat to a plate, strain the water and set aside and discard the bones. Mix the paprika and chili with a splash of water to form a paste. Heat the ghee and gently fry the onions until they start to darken and become sweet (about 15 minutes). Add the, cloves, cardamom, fennel seeds and bay leave and fry for a minute. Then add the chili paste, cumin, ginger and turmeric and fry for another minute. Return the meat to the pan and fry for 5 minutes. Stir in the yogurt, coating the meat. Pour 4 cup of the water you set aside earlier. Simmer, covered, until the meat is tender. I like to cook this really slowly for an hour or more, so the meat is melting. Then remove the lid and raise the heat to reduce the sauce to where you like it. Taste and season.

Thursday, 9 February 2012

Gluten free lemon drizzle cake

This cake is fairly heavy on the carbs but is light and delicious.

200g butter
20g powdered sucralose
50g milk powder
4 eggs
175g almond flour
250g mashed potatoes
zest of 3 lemons
2 tsp gluten free baking powder
juice of 1 lemon
4 tbsp sugar

Cream together the butter, sucralose and milk powder until soft and light. Gradually beat in the eggs. Mix the almond flour, potatoes, lemon zest and baking powder and fold into the egg mixture. Pour into a greased and lined cake tin and bake at 160 oC for 40 minutes. Leave to cool in tin for 10 minutes before turning out. Dissolve the sugar in the lemon juice and drizzle over the cake before serving.

Wednesday, 8 February 2012

Gluten free lemon meringue pie

I've had a bit of a sweet tooth of late, which isn't like me! My partner and children have not been complaining though... This pie was a great success - even with no gluten or added sugar.
The pastry case is based one from Elana's pantry.
The pastry and lemon filling also made some delicious jam tart style treats. Just press the pastry into a cup cake tin, add the filling and bake for 15 minutes. No need for blind baking with the little ones.

For the pastry case
2 cups almond flour
1/2 tsp salt
2 tbsp butter (or coconut oil)
1 tsp sweetener (I used Truvia)
1 egg

For the lemon filling
zest and juice of 2 lemons
3 level tbsp potato starch (or corn flour)
1/4 cup sweetener (if using truvia use less - I used about a quarter cup)
4 egg yolks
40g butter

For the meringue
4 egg whites
3/4 cup sweetener (I used half a cup of sucralose and 1/4 cup of truvia. Next time I'll just use the 1/4 cup of truvia)

Heat oven to 180 oC (160 for a fan oven). Put the almond flour in a food processor and add the salt and sweetener. Pulse to mix. Then add the 2 tbsp of butter (or coconut oil) in and blend until mixed well. Add the egg and process until it forms a smooth ball. Then press the dough into a loose bottomed pie dish. I found the easiest way to do this was the pull off small balls of dough and put them over the bottom of the dish, then press flat with the back of a spoon. Then form a lip around the edges in the same way. Take a piece of parchment paper and scrunch it a few times to soften it. Line the pastry case with it and fill with baking beans, or even better, loose change. Coins work best as they heat up quickly and transmit the heat well. Bake the pastry case for 10 minutes lined, then 5 minutes with out the coins and paper. Set aside and lower the oven temperature by 20 oC.
Next make the lemon filling. Fill a jug with 10 fl oz of cold water. Mix the sugar and cornflour/potato starch in a bowl and add enough of the water to make a paste. Put the remaining water and the lemon zest into a small saucepan and bring to the boil. Gradually add to the flour mix, beating all the time. Return this mixture to the pan when all the water is added and carefully bring up to a simmer, stirring all the time in case it burns. Remove from the heat when it starts to simmer. Beat in the lemon juice, then the egg yolks and finally the butter. Pour the mixture into the pastry case. Put the egg whites into a large bowl and whisk until they form still peaks. Whisk in the sweetener, a little at a time. Spoon the meringue mixture over the lemon filling and use a palette knife to make sure it's totally covered. Put into the oven and bake for 45 minutes. Allow to settle for at least 20 minutes before serving.

Thursday, 26 January 2012

Fried sprats

Little silver sprats are a wonderful thing. They are cheap (under £2 a kilo), tasty and as you eat the whole fish (more or less), full of goodness.
If your sprats are small, you can coat and fry them as they come. With larger ones, remove the intestines and my daughter insists that hers have the head removed. So it's up to you and how much time you have how much you prepare the fish.
Either way, give them a good wash and them dry them gently, as much as possible. I use a clean kitchen towel to pat them with after shaking them off in a sieve. Put some rice flour into a plastic bag with some salt and pepper. Add the sprats and shake to coat them. Heat some butter in a large frying pan and fry the sprats in batches, 2 minutes on each side, until they're golden and crispy.

Serve with butter sauce, garlic mayonnaise, ketchup, salad... what ever takes your fancy.

Butter Sauce

This recipe is really useful. It goes well with so many different things and is rich and delicious. I had it for lunch today over green beans and a poached egg. I tried Heston Blumenthal's method for making the egg and I'm impressed. Came out perfectly - the white soft but totally set and the yolk runny.
This sauce also works well over fried sprats (or tinned sardines), chicken, hard boiled eggs... what ever you have handy.

1 egg yolk
2 tbsp butter
1/4 tsp dijon mustard
1/2 tsp white wine vinegar

Put all the ingredients into a bowl over a pan of hot, steaming water. If you have a very thick bottomed pan you might just get away with making it straight in there (I have one that works) but it is much less likely to scramble over an indirect heat. Keep stirring while the butter melts and then until it begins to thicken. Serve immediatly.