A New Beginning

It seems like I’ve been AWOL here for quite some time. I’ve been trying to figure out a new direction for the blog as some new developments have come along in my own life. I’ll spare you the medical details, but it turns out that it wasn’t necessary for me to eat a completely gluten free diet, due to the misdiagnosis of coeliac disease, which cost me a lot of time and money. After seeing a new doctor for some time, I have successfully started eating gluten again, although it definitely isn’t a huge part of my diet.
I have decided to re-launch the site as one where I can post all of my (usually healthy, sometimes not so much) veggie recipes and kitchen-related babblings. Some of the posts will still be gluten free and they’ll be tagged as such, but some won’t. I’ll also be keeping all of the old posts, so my old gf recipes will still be available.
I’d just like to thank everyone who has supported me through life gluten free by reading this blog. I’m looking forward to the next chapter in my life and can’t wait to start blogging again!

Skint

There has been a lot of talk here in the UK about food poverty and its prevalence since the recession kicked in. I have experienced it first hand on a few occasions and even though we are not in poverty, we do live very close to the breadline. Some of the programmes I have seen on TV about it have made me very angry, insisting that no meal is complete without meat or otherwise relying far to heavily on pasta. What’s a gluten free veggie to do?

I decided to kick back and show you some costings for some of the dishes we turn to when we are well and truly skint, as well as some we will be making soon. I may never be as meticulously frugal as A Girl Called Jack, but I think a lot of people could save money if they ate like us.

A lot of the dishes are quite self explanatory for those who cook this sort of thing often and therefore don’t really have/need a proper recipes, but if you would like one for any of them, please let me know!

All prices are based on full priced items at Tesco (except psyllium husk, which I buy by the kg from Amazon). Almost everything is from the value range, except some of the pulses, which for some reason are cheaper when bought organic. The flour blend used here and the only store bought one I like is Doves Farm PLAIN WHITE Gluten & Wheat Free Flour Blend. I rarely use oil in my cooking, instead I choose to steam-fry. Seasonings includes salt, pepper, herbs and spices and the prices are approximate. All prices are, if anything, over-estimates. 

Meat-free chilli and boiled rice (2 servings)

  • 1 onion – 7p
  • 2 garlic cloves – 4p
  • 1 tin of kidney beans – 21p
  • 1 carton of passata – 29p
  • 1 stock cube – 13p
  • 2 chillies – 18p
  • 150g rice – 6p
  • Seasonings – 5p
  • total – £1.08 (or 54p per portion)

Roast Carrot Soup (4 servings)

  • 7 carrots – 56p
  • 4 garlic cloves – 8p
  • 30ml olive oil – 11p
  • 2 onions – 14p
  • 2 stock cubes – 26p
  • Seasonings – 10p
  • total – £1.25 (or <68p per portion)

Cheap-o Homemade Pizza (2 servings)

  • 300g GF flour blend – 51p
  • 20g psyllium husk – 31p
  • 6g yeast – 6p
  • 1/2 carton of passata – 15p
  • Mozzarella ball – 44p
  • 1 mushroom – 14p
  • Seasonings – 5p
  • total – £1.66 (83p per portion) *if you’re not gluten free, this would be cheaper with wheat flour in place of the gf flour and psyllium*

Carrot Dhal & Rice (2 servings)

  • 1 onion – 7p
  • 2 garlic cloves – 4p
  • 2 carrots – 16p
  • 100g red lentils – 22p
  • 1/4 carton of passata – 8p
  • 1 stock cube – 13p
  • Herbs, spices & salt – 20p
  • 150g rice
  • total – 96p (48p per potion)

Gardeners Pie (a mushroom & lentil shepherd’s pie) (2 servings)

  • 400g potatoes – 28p
  • 30g cheddar cheese – 24p
  • 100g red lentils – 22p
  • 1 onion – 7p
  • 1 carrot – 8p
  • 100g mushrooms – 35p
  • 1 stock cube – 13p
  • 30ml brown sauce – 2p
  • Seasonings – 5p
  • total – £1.44 (72p per portion)

Basic Spicy Tomato Rice (2 servings)

*this dish is a bit basic, but I often have it as a quick and tasty lunch*

  • 150g rice – 6p
  • 1/2 carton of passata – 15p
  • 4 chillies – 36p
  • 2 garlic cloves – 4p
  • total – 61p (<31p per portion)

Bean Casserole & Herb Dumplings (6 Servings, will freeze)

  • 2 onions – 14p
  • 2 carrots – 16p
  • 2 celery ribs – 15p
  • 125ml cheap red wine – 62p
  • 2 stock cubes – 26p
  • 1 carton of passata – 29p
  • 1 tin of kidney beans – 21p
  • 1 carton of cannellini beans – 55p
  • 1 carton of chickpeas – 55p
  • 150g gf flour blend – 26p
  • 7g veggie suet – 42p
  • Seasonings – 30p
  • total – £3.91 (<66p per serving)

Gnocchi Bake (Serves 4)

  • 500g potatoes – 36p
  • 200g gf flour blend – 34p
  • 3 garlic cloves – 6p
  • 1 carton of passata – 29p
  • 1 mozzarella ball – 44p
  • 200g frozen spinach – 20p
  • Seasonings – 20p
  • total – £1.89 (<49p per portion)

Vegetable Hotpot (serves 4)

  • 2 onions – 14p
  • 2 garlic cloves – 4p
  • 3 carrots – 32p
  • 1 parsnip – 22p
  • 250g potatoes – 18p
  • 1 stock cube – 13p
  • 1 leek – 62p
  • Seasonings – 15p
  • total – £1.80 (45p per portion)

Getting Back into Meal Planning

When I was a full-time housewife (before starting my degree), I used to be pretty good about meal planning. My husband has always worked Sundays so it was my chilled out Sunday lunch-time activity. I loved flipping through cookbooks and choosing what we’re going to eat for the week ahead. Then, somewhere in the whirlwind of getting back into full-time education, I lost my organisational flow.

Probably doesn't help that every time I try to get productive, this guy decides it's face-sniff time!

Probably doesn’t help that every time I try to get productive, this guy decides it’s face-sniff time!

Now that the first year of uni is over and I feel like I’m getting into the swing of things, I’ve decided to get back into it. I’ve also been strongly motivated by our current less-than-rosy financial situation (thank you, local council!). I need to shop on a tight budget and that means I can’t be waisting food! I decided to post my meal plan here, as it might be interesting to some of you! It’s vegan this week, in an effort to save money (we only buy dairy or eggs from a slaughter free company and in times of hardship I’d rather do without than buy the supermarket stuff).

Monday
Breakfast – Toast or cereal with rice milk or fruit
Lunch – Low-fat hummus & oatcakes
Dinner – Carrot dhal & pilau rice

Tuesday
Breakfast - Toast or cereal with rice milk or fruit
Lunch – Curried lentil paté & oatcakes
Dinner – Mushroom bolognese (hm pasta, probably tagliatelle) & salad

Wednesday
Breakfast - Toast or cereal with rice milk or fruit
Lunch – Lentil paté & salad sandwiches (hm bread rolls)
Dinner – Cabbage & orange risotto

Thursday
Breakfast - Toast or cereal with rice milk or fruit
Lunch – Meal with parents
Dinner – Rice with spicy tomato sauce

Friday
Breakfast - Toast or cereal with rice milk or fruit
Lunch - Low-fat hummus & salad sandwiches (hm bread rolls)
Dinner – ‘FAKEaway night’ – Baked potato skins with dips followed by cheese-less calzone pizza (tomato sauce, mushroom, red onion, olive and chilli) & salad

Saturday
Breakfast - Toast or cereal with rice milk or fruit
Lunch – Mushroom, cabbage, chilli & rice stir-fry
Dinner – Piri piri bean burgers on hm bread rolls with salad & potato wedges

Sunday
Breakfast - Toast or cereal with rice milk or fruit
Lunch - Low-fat hummus & carrot sticks
Dinner – Sage & onion jackfruit with roast potatoes, carrot mash and vegetable gravy

Hopefully we can stick to it!

Where's my meal plan, mum?

Merlyn: But…where’s my meal plan?

Kentucky Fried Jackfruit (gluten free, vegan)

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I’m quite happy being vegetarian. I don’t really miss meat. I’m one of the people that never really ate much meat before going veg.  just never loved the taste. One thing I did enjoy on a rare occasion was KFC’s popcorn chicken. I realise now that the main thing that was so good was the batter, so surely it’d be easy to make a cruelty free version?

If you’ve never tried or heard of jackfruit, you’re in for a bit of a shock. The texture is meaty, stringy and comparable to something like chicken thighs or pulled pork. Flavour-wise, it doesn’t pack much of a punch, but that makes it perfect for a dish like this, where all I really need it for is the texture. You can get jackfruit in a can from most Asian grocers or online. It’s only about 90p a can here, which is brilliant. JUst make sure you get ‘young green jackfruit’, as the ripe version in syrup is most definitely fruity and decidedly non-meaty!

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Gluten Free, Vegan Popcorn ‘Chicken’

150g fine cornmeal
70g gram flour (chickpea flour)
1tsp salt
2 garlic cloves, crushed
1tsp finely ground black pepper
1tbsp gluten free soy sauce
1/2tsp celery salt
1/2tsp garam masala
1tsp smoked paprika
2tbsp baking powder
4tbsp wholegrain mustard
1tsp hot pepper sauce or sriracha (optional)
1.5tbsp olive oil
250ml water
2 tins of young green jackfruit (in brine or water), drained, rinsed and cut into 1cm cubed or bite-sized pieces
Oil for deep-frying
  • Heat the oil to a high heat in a deep pan or deep fat fryer (mine was 180c).
  • In a food processor, blend all of the ingredients except the jackfruit until a smooth paste is achieved.
  • Dip each piece of jackfruit into the batter and evenly coat, then drop into the oil.
  • The ‘chicken’ is done when the batter is a deep reddish brown – remove from the oil and pat with kitchen paper.
  • Serve with oven-fries and coleslaw or salad :)

Cornmeal Sourdough Bread

I created a new starter last week from just cornmeal and water (150% hydration, which is 1 part flour to 3 parts water) as a bit of an experiment. It has a really nice sour smell to it and I’ve been so excited to bake with it. This is my first loaf using the new starter. It was really tasty, slightly sour. My husband really loved it!

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  • 200g 150% hydration cornmeal starter
  • 500g water
  • 30g psyllium
  • 350g flour – 100g cornmeal, 75g white rice, 75g sorghum, 100g corn starch well combined
  • 10g salt
  • Egg wash or corn starch & water wash, if desired (creates a browner crust)

Mix the starter and psyllium with the water and beat until a gel is formed. Add all of the remaining ingredients. Mix and knead until a smooth dough is formed. Cover in an oiled bowl and leave to rise until approximately 2.5x the original size. Form into a boule and place in a floured banneton. Cover and prove on the bench for about 40 minutes. Retard in the fridge over night. In the morning, lift out the bread and prove at room temp whilst preheating the oven to 250c with a baking stone or tile inside. Turn out the dough and slash the top. Brush over the wash if desired. Bake on the stone, with a couple of ice cubes in the bottom of the oven, until well browned. Leave to cool COMPLETELY on a rack before slicing.

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Speedy Sorghum and Rice Ciabatta (Gluten Free and Vegan)

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I am quite a prolific user of the site The Fresh Loaf – an artisan baking community that is almost entirely not gluten free. Before finding out about my coeliac disease, I used to love making Jason’s Coccodrillo Ciabatta which is the most popular recipe on the site. So quick, easy and delicious! It always yields a very reliable result and doesn’t have to be started a day or two in advance like many good ciabattas.

I wanted to try to create something similar with my gf flours and this is what I came up with. I’m very happy with the texture and lightness of the loaves. The taste might not be for everyone, but if you enjoy the taste of sorghum, you’ll definitely appreciate this one. :)

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  • 400g flours, mixed to combine – 150g sorghum, 100g rice, 150g corn starch
  • 5g yeast
  • 15g salt
  • 20g psyllium
  • 660ml water

Mix the psyllium with the water and beat until a gel is formed. Add all of the remaining ingredients. Mix and knead until a smooth dough is formed. Cover in an oiled bowl and leave to rise until approximately 2.5x the original size. Pat and stretch on a floured baking sheet to create very flat ciabatta shapes. You want these pretty flat, only a cm or two thick. Don’t worry – they’ll spring up in the oven! Prove whilst preheating the oven to 250c. Just before baking, flip the ciabattas over. Bake for approximately 20 minutes, until golden. Do not cut the bread until it is fully cooled.

And the crumb?

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Speaks for itself really!

 

Easy Gluten Free, Vegan Baguettes

On Monday Neil and I decided to have a nice, relaxing evening in watching DVDs and playing video games. We’re currently experiencing a heatwave in the UK and have been for over a week now and I just needed some time in the shade! I made a big batch of chickpea harissa stew for dinner and I decided to try baking a straightforward baguette, as a quick alternative to my overnight version. It turned out pretty nice. Enjoyed it with the first bottle (or two!) of this year’s elderflower sparkling wine.

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  • 400g flours, mixed to combine – 100g sorghum, 100g cornmeal, 100g rice, 100g corn starch
  • 7g yeast
  • 12g salt
  • 25g psyllium
  • 600ml water

Mix the psyllium with the water and beat until a gel is formed. Add all of the remaining ingredients. Mix and knead until a smooth dough is formed. Cover in an oiled bowl and leave to rise until approximately 2.5x the original size. Form 4 baguettes (about 40cm long) and leave to prove for approx. an hour. During this time, preheat the oven to 250c. Brush the baguettes with water, dust with a little flour if desired and score. Bake for 25 minutes or until well-browned. Do not cut into until fully cooled.

Nice open crumb too :) Made it very light!

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Sorghum, Rice & Quinoa Sourdough Bread (Gluten Free & Vegan)

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My last sourdough starter had an unfortunate accident in which it ended up all over my kitchen floor, along with pieces of its glass container. So, I started a new one and yesterday it was ready to use. I fed it about 2 hours before making this recipe. It turned out really great! Nice and reasonably light with a good amount of sour flavour.

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Sourghum, Rice  & Quinoa SD Batard

150g 150% hydration starter (mine is mainly rice and sorghum flour, with a little red teff)
400g water
21g psyllium husks
11g salt
110g corn starch
110g stone-ground white rice flour
150g sorghum flour
40g very coarsley ground quinoa (I just bashed it up in a mortar and pestle)
Unsweetened brown rice milk, for glazing (optional, but gives a more attractive finish)

  1. Dilute the starter in the water and whisk in psyllium until emulsified.
  2. Leave covered for 30 minutes.
  3. Sprinkle over salt.
  4. Mix together the flours and quinoa.
  5. Add to the starter mix and knead until it comes together to form a dough.
    Note: You only need to knead until it comes together, as gluten free bread does not require development of the gluten strands through kneading – just make sure it’s well mixed and smooth.
  6. Form a ball and leave to rise in the fridge overnight in a covered and oiled container.
  7. The next day, knock back the dough and form into two bâtards.
  8. Cover and leave to prove for an hour.
  9. While the bread is proving, preheat the oven with a stone to full temp (This is 250c on my oven).
  10. Uncover the loaves, brush with a little brown rice milk, slash and transfer to the oven.
  11. Bake for about 25 minutes, turning halfway through if neccassary, until a dark reddish brown colour is acheived.
  12. Leave to cool COMPLETELY before cutting the bread, otherwise the texture will be gummy.

NOTE: A 150% hydration starter means a sourdough starter that contains 1.5 times as mush water as flour. If you want to learn how to make a sourdough starter, I recommend following these instructions, but using a mix of gluten free GRAIN flours, such as rice, sorghum, teff, etc.

Vegan, Gluten Free Homemade Pasta – Yes you can!

As I promised in my previous post, I worked on a vegan version of my pasta dough. It was surprisingly easy to make and easier to work with than the more delicate egg version. We ate our homemade pasta last night with a tender-stem broccoli, caper and olive sauce. I have to say, it was delicious, although I possibly cooked it a little long. I’ve amended the cooking time accordingly.OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

The shape we made with the pasta is called garganelli and is essentially a homemade version of penne. You can see a tutorial of how it’s made here. I didn’t have the proper wood block used to create the dents in the outside of the pasta, so I rolled it on my sushi mat instead. It seemed to work just as well. Of course, you can make any shape you like with this pasta dough and I’ll certainly be trying some others out in future. I might also try flavouring it with basil or something equally tasty.

It’s possible to dry this pasta for later use, which I did with what I didn’t use from this large batch. Just leave it somewhere airy for a day or so and make sure it’s completely dry before storing. If you have a dehydrator, I imagine that would work too and possibly be a little quicker.

Hand-rolled Gluten Free Garganelli

300g Stone-ground White Rice Flour
300g Corn Starch
1tbsp Olive oil
Enough water to make a dry-ish smooth dough

Sieve the dry ingredients into a large bowl. Make a well in the centre and pour in the wet ingredients. Start with about 500ml water and work from there. Mix and knead to form a smooth dough. Roll out on a floured surface as thinly and possible, preferably only about 1mm thick. Follow these instructions to make garganelli or shape into the desired type of pasta. Leave to dry out slightly before cooking, about 15 minutes. To cook, add to a large pan of well-salted boiling water. Cook for approx. 3 minutes, until just al dente.

Fresh Egg Pasta

I never was very good at making pasta before coeliac reared its ugly head. I probably expected the pasta machine to do too much of the work for me or overworked the dough. I’m impatient. I can be a bit heavy handed. Pasta making is not for impatient or heavy handed people. Gluten free pasta making on the other hand, seems to be much more forgiving. I decided to go back to basics and just use a rolling pin and a knife to form my dough into tagliatelle and it worked really well.

Today I’m going to be working on a vegan pasta dough so, if you’re egg-free or looking for a lower fat option, watch this space.

Gluten Free Fresh Egg Pasta

Gluten Free Egg Tagliatelle – Serves 4

4 eggs
-beaten with 5g psyllium husks
–and 2tbsp olive oil
150g cornstarch (called cornflour in the UK but not to be confused with US cornflour!)
150g stone-ground white rice flour
A generous pinch of salt

Sieve the dry ingredients into a bowl. Make a well in the centre and pour in the egg/psyllium/oil mix. With your hands, combine then need into a smooth dough. Wrap in cling film and leave in the fridge for about 15 minutes. Flour your bench and rolling pin. Roll the dough out into a rough rectangle, as thinly as you possibly can. Cut into 1cm thick strips for tagliatelle or into your desired shape. Hang over the back of a chair or similar to dry out slightly, about 15 minutes. To cook the pasta, add to salted boiling water and cook for 4 minutes, stirring regularly.