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Gluten free baker’s walking tour in Paris

tours | February 12, 2017 | By


Are some of your most treasured travel memories food-related?

Do you often search out something unusual and edible to bring home in your suitcase?

Are you looking for a ‘banneton‘ or a ‘bassine de confiture en cuivre’? Or want to know what they are?

Do you have half a day spare to discover some great addresses in Paris?

If you answer yes, then this morning tour might be right up your gluten free street.
After giving gluten free baking lessons in my kitchen just outside Paris and encouraging students to visit my favourite baking shops, bakeries and coffee shops in Paris, I have decided to offer a guided tour of some of the parts of the city most interesting for a keen gluten free baker (and eater!).

On this morning walk we will visit:

a typical outdoor market selling fresh produce
a shop where you can buy specialist baking ingredients
a bookshop specialising in cookery books (with an impressive English section too!)
a kitchenware store dating from 1820 where Julia Child used to shop
a gluten free boulangerie and a gluten free patisserie
an Italian gelato shop serving GF gelato in GF cones

While we will time to have a quick look around the shops (with time to make a few purchases for a post-walk pique-nique perhaps?) and a coffee stop will be scheduled into the morning, any serious browsing and shopping (and eating!) will have to be done after the walk or we just won’t make it to all the great places I have planned for you!

Here’s what one happy walker said:

I can thoroughly recommend this guided walk, whether you live in the Paris area, or are passing through. If you want to search out equipment or ingredients, Lisa knows exactly where you should go. Or if you simply wish to find some bakeries, cafés or restaurants where you can eat, safe in the knowledge that the staff know exactly what they are doing, Lisa will show you those too. I had the best gluten-free pizza I have ever had the day I did the tour. ” S.M. Feb 2017

This tour does not provide tastings or include refreshments in the price – I’d prefer you to be able to choose and enjoy your gluten free goodies at your leisure after the tour. There will however be a coffee stop midway through the walk. A map featuring all the places we visit will be provided for you to keep. It does involve 1 hour total walking time – approx 5km distance – so please wear comfortable shoes and bring an umbrella/raincoat if necessary. The walk is never cancelled due to rain!

Fee for this tour 09h30 – 12h30 is €50 per person. Max number is 5. You can purchase tickets via the button below.

If you wish to have a private tour (€160) on a day/time to suit you please email me:

Future dates:

Tues 28 Feb 2017

Thurs 16 March 2017

Wed 5 April 2017 

Eventbrite - Gluten Free Baker's Walking Tour in Paris


Subscribe to my mailing list to stay informed of upcoming GF cookery classes here:

Wholegrain seeded loaf (gum free, yeast free, egg free, dairy free)

breads | February 9, 2017 | By

A visit to Chambelland bakery last week and a piece of their ‘5 grains’ gluten free bread had me craving a seedy loaf this weekend. I don’t eat much bread these days. If I do I invariably make it myself unless I’m at a renowned GF boulangerie and want to sample their wares – purely in the interests of research you understand. It’s strange how quickly one loses the habit of eating bread. Eating a sandwich for lunch is now almost a novelty, which hopefully explains my almost childlike enthusiasm for a ready made Marks and Spencer gluten free sandwich while on the road in UK recently. 

So back to this loaf. During my internet trawls I knew that somewhere I had read a recipe written for the thermomix using wholegrains ground up, rather than flour. I also knew about the benefits of soaking nuts and wholegrains before cooking, to reduce the phytate content (see below!).  So the planets aligned when an instagram post by the talented IzaKitchen led me to her recipe for a ‘magic loaf’, which then led me here, to here, to here and here. Baking a loaf of gluten free bread sometimes seems awfully like an exercise in investigative journalism.

I think this is a really interesting loaf for lots of reasons. Firstly it works. Secondly you can use up all those little ends of packets and jars of lentils, rice etc to make it. I used brown/green lentil, some brown rice and millet but you can also use quinoa, buckwheat groats, any rice, and red lentils. The colour of the resulting loaf will change each time – you might notice this loaf in the photos is slightly purple in colour. I suspect that is because I made it with a mixture of grains including green lentils.

This bread doesn’t need yeast which is useful for people who can’t tolerate yeast and for those who are put off by the prospect of using it. It’s actually a kind of soda bread or what used to be called a ‘quick bread’. Now doesn’t that sound reassuringly simple to make?

It is also dairy free, egg free and added sugar free. A small miracle for a gluten free loaf.

And it’s completely do-able for the non GF person who wants to make something for a GF friend or family member. The purchase of psyllium husk is required, not something most regular bakers have in their kitchen cabinet, unless you make one of the other versions linked in the text above, using ground chia seed instead of psyllium. Just make sure you line your baking tin well with baking parchment if it’s been used for gluten bread before – those pesky crumbs can hide in the corners and might make your GF chum sick.

This loaf keeps well in a cupboard for about 4-5 days, is delicious both fresh and toasted and freezes well too. What more can you ask? I’ll post some more photos when I next make it with other grains. As always, make the loaf your own by varying the grains and seeds used.

I’m keen to try the same idea of soaked ground wholegrain with a sourdough to rise rather than the bicarbonate of soda. A first  trial is promising – so watch this space!

Note: If you’re interested in reading more about soaking grains then I’d point you in the direction of this post on the blog of Naomi Devlin, whose book ‘Food for a Happy Gut’ is released later this year.


Seeded wholegrain loaf

based on this recipe here

your choice of a mix of wholegrains (see above) – lentils, rice, quinoa, buckwheat groats, millet, measured up to a total volume of 375ml in a measuring jug
water + 1tbsp cider vinegar for soaking
20g psyllium husk
250ml water
2 tbsp cider vinegar
1 tsp bicarbonate of soda
1 tsp sea salt
25g sunflower seeds
25g flax seeds

for tin:
knob of butter
handful of sunflower seeds
poppy seeds
1. Place the wholegrains in a large bowl, cover with water, add 1 tbsp cider vinegar, stir and leave overnight 12-24 hours to soak.
2. The next day drain and rinse the grains, then drain well and place in a food processor or Thermomix.
3. Preheat the oven to 180C (160C Fan). Grease a 1kg (2lb) loaf tin with butter and coat with the handful of sunflower seeds.
4. Measure the water in a small bowl, add the psyllium, stir and set aside for 5 mins to gel.
5. Place the 2 tbsp vinegar, bicarb, salt and gelled psyllium in with the grains and process until smooth, scraping down the sides occasionally.
6. Add the seeds and mix to combine.
7. Turn the mixture into the prepared tin and smooth the top with a wet spatula.
8. Sprinkle the top with poppy seeds.
9. Bake for 40 mins then remove from the oven, make a shallow cut down the centre of the crust of the loaf (to allow it to expand evenly) and return to the oven for a further 40 mins bake time.
10. Remove from the tin and return to the oven shelf (without a tin) for a final 10 mins to brown the crust.
11. Remove and cool on a cooling rack until completely cold before slicing.

Zimtsterne – Christmas star cookies

cookies | December 17, 2016 | By

I have taught quite a few baking classes these past few weeks – with students from Greece, Sweden and the USA as well as more locally from France and UK. It’s part of my work that I love, this connecting with people (mostly women it has to be said) from all parts of the world. During class my kitchen comes alive with English and French, spoken with different accents, but always with the desire to learn and to share.

These German cinnamon cookies are an easy way to fill a pretty tin at this time of year when none of us have quite enough time. I had requests for the recipe after serving them as a welcoming treat at a class this week. It strikes me that if you have children then the painting of the stars with the meringue mixture might make quite a therapeutic (if potentially sticky) activity for a wintery afternoon. Damp cloths for sticky fingers at the ready maybe?!

The flavourings used in these cookies seems to vary from family to family. I particularly enjoy the flavour of orange with anything involving almonds, so have used orange zest. Some families use lemon and others accent the almond taste with almond extract. Go with your own preference. Read the instructions carefully – you’ll need to remove some of the meringue mixture for the painting. If you leave it in you’ll end up with an unholy sticky mess. And no cookies. You have been warned!

I have it on good authority from a German friend that the way to keep these cookies slightly soft is to keep a slice of fresh apple in the tin with them. If you try it then let me know if it works! 

  1. 2 medium egg whites
  2. 1 tsp lemon juice
  3. 250g ground almonds
  4. 200g icing sugar
  5. grated zest 1 orange
  6. 2 tsp ground Sri Lankan cinnamon
  1. Heat oven to 150C/130C Fan and line 2 baking trays with baking parchment.
  2. Place the egg whites in the bowl of a stand mixer and whisk until foamy. Add the lemon juice and whisk again until they hold soft peaks.
  3. Slowly mix in the icing sugar and continue whisking until the mixture is stiff. Remove about a quarter of the meringue mixture and set aside to use for the topping. Better to remove too much than too little - you can always add some back in if the dough mixture later becomes too stiff.
  4. Put the almonds, orange zest, cinnamon, ginger in the bowl with the bulk of the meringue and mix to form a stiff dough. Add a little of the meringue back in if the mixture is really too stiff to combine.
  5. Place the dough on a piece of clingfilm and cover with a second sheet. Roll out to about 4mm thick. Remove the top layer of clingfilm and use a small star-shaped cutter to cut out the cookies. Push the cookies up from beneath the bottom layer of clingfilm to make them easier to pick up and place them on the prepared baking tray.
  6. Re-roll the dough as many times as needed to cut out as many cookies as possible.
  7. Using the reserved to paint the tips of the cookies using a small pastry brush or new paintbrush. If it’s too thick to spread then add a tsp of warm water to the meringue.
  8. Bake in the oven for 9-12 mins until meringue is set but not browned. You’ll need to watch them carefully!
  9. Remove from the oven and transfer to a cooling rack. They will still be slightly soft underneath. Once cool, store in an airtight tin.
  1. I used half ground almonds (aka almond flour from blanched almonds) and half I ground myself from whole almonds with their brown skins. I'm sure you could use all of either type in this recipe.
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Fig & orange tart

Uncategorized | September 7, 2016 | By

The best figs I have ever eaten were from my friend’s tree on the Ile de Ré – lovingly wrapped individually in kitchen paper and transported to me with great care and attention in an empty shoe box. I can only imagine what they would have tasted like directly from the tree and still warm from the sun.

If you only have a package of figs bought from the supermarket then this is a great way to spruce them up a bit. I made it for my monthly book club meet up and there wasn’t a whole lot left…

This recipe uses my flour blend and makes a lovely sweet pastry tart case. It is unusual as in this recipe there is no blind baking involved at all. If you use the tart pastry in another recipe stipulating blind baking, then line your tin(s) with the pastry, prick the base all over with a fork and bake it blind at 180C/160C Fan. It will take about 10-15mins (until it looks dry on the surface) if you’re using it for a recipe that needs a second bake once filled, and 15-25 mins if the filling is already cooked separately and no second bake is required.

Yes, you read it right, no messing around with baking beans for this recipe. Your eternal thanks are duly noted.

Fig and orange tart
For the orange pastry cream
  1. 2 egg yolks
  2. 50g caster sugar
  3. 2 tablespoons cornstarch (cornflour in UK)
  4. 250ml full fat or semi-skimmed milk
  5. grated zest of half an orange
  6. 1 tsp vanilla extract
  7. pinch of sea salt
  8. 1 tbsp cold butter, unsalted
For the pastry
  1. 150g my four flour blend
  2. 30g icing sugar
  3. 1/2 tsp xanthan gum
  4. pinch of sea salt
  5. 80g cold unsalted butter
  6. 1 egg
  7. 12-15 small fresh figs, halved lengthways
  8. 2 tbsp unsalted butter, melted
  9. 2 tbsp caster sugar
  1. 1. Make the pastry by combining the flour, icing sugar, xanthan gum and sea salt. Add the butter, cut into cubes and rub into the mixture until it looks like gravel - with some larger pieces of butter still visible NOT like sand. If you use a food processor then use the pulse function for several second long bursts.
  2. 2. Add the egg and combine to a dough. Wrap in a piece of cling film and refrigerate for 2 hours (or pop in the freezer for 30mins).
  3. 3. Meanwhile make the orange pastry cream. In a medium bowl using a whisk, mix the egg yolks, half the sugar, cornstarch, orange zest, vanilla, sea salt and about 50ml of the total measured milk to make a paste.
  4. 4. Heat the remaining milk and sugar until it just starts to come to a boil, then slowly add it to the orange and egg yolk paste, whisking all the while. Return the custard to the saucepan and bring to the boil, whisking all the time. The mixture will thicken as you let it bubble gently for 10 secs. Remove it from the heat, still whisking, add the butter, whisk again and then transfer it to a clean dry bowl. Cover the surface with cling film and place in the fridge for 2 hours.
  5. 5. Place a rectangular flan tin on a baking tray. Roll out the pastry between two sheets of clingfilm until it is large enough to line the tin. If the pastry gets too warm to handle, place the rolled out dough on a cutting board or baking sheet and allow it to cool and harden in the fridge.
  6. 6. Remove the top clingfilm, place your hand under the rolled out sheet of pastry and flip it into the tin. Press the pastry dough into the corners of the tin, patching if necessary. Remove the top layer of cling film. Trim the top edges of the pastry level with the top of the tin and put the tin on its tray back in the fridge for 30mins to harden.
  7. 7. Meanwhile preheat the oven to 200C/180C Fan.
  8. 8. Spread the pastry cream in the lined tin evenly. Arrange the halved figs on top, cut side up. Brush the surface of the figs with melted butter and sprinkle with a little caster sugar.
  9. 9. Place in the oven and bake for 20mins. Turn the tin around, place a piece of aluminium foil loosely over the top of the tart (without pressing it down) to prevent the figs from browning too much. Bake for a further 20mins.
  10. 10. Remove carefully from the oven (there might be some very hot juices) and allow to cool. Serve at room temperature.
Adapted from a recipe by John Baricelli
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What’s cooking? Gado gado, peanut sauce and satay skewers

chicken, dinner, lunch, salad, vegetarian | April 22, 2016 | By

So much of my time is taken up by just making food for my family to eat that I’ve decided to start a weekly blog post featuring links to the recipes that have inspired my cooking each week, even if the originals aren’t gluten free and I succumb to my usual habit of changing things around to suit what I have to hand. That way if you see something I’ve made on my Instagram feed, you’ll stand a chance of being to figure out how to make it. And if you havent yet found my feed on Instagram it’s here.

Going freestyle – with the feel of a recipe rather than using a recipe to the letter seems to be a major worry for a lot of people. I do remember the early days of learning to cook – rushing out to buy a bunch of spring onions because I’d forgotten to add them to the list. These days I’d thing rather along the lines of replacing them in a recipe – a bit of leek, red onion or shallot. No rice crumbs? – then how about breadcrumbs or quinoa flakes. It might turn out differently, but just suppose it turned out even better AND you didn’t have to hare round to the market just for one item? It’s just a question of confidence and actually becomes pretty exciting. What CAN you make with only an onion, a stick of celery and a carrot??!

I hope this helps you to see how recipes evolve and helps you to use up what you already have at home, reducing waste and time to boot. It will also help me to keep an uptodate record of the recipes I try. How frustrating is it when you make a recipe that is unanimously declared delicious only to lose the recipe forever (do NOT mention my hot cross bun recipe at this point, my heart is still bleeding).

For the observant among you, yes, this was a particularly meat/fish light week, but we aren’t exclusively vegetarian. 

  • The quinoa and sweet potato burgers were based on this recipe by One Ingredient Chef. Instead of the parsley/sunflower seed/garlic combo I used some radish top, roasted garlic and pistachio pesto I had leftover. I also didn’t bother hydrating the ground flax and reduced that down to 2 tablespoons from 3. They were really delicious.
  • The courgette besan cheela recipe is one I have taught before in my classes in Singapore. A chick pea flour ‘pancake’ with added cumin, spring onion and courgette – such a quick idea for lunch. I have submitted the recipe for publication to the summer edition of Niépi magazine, so I’m hoping that will reach a wider audience. This one I served with a cucumber and mint raita made using milk kefir kindly given to me by a dear friend. Thanks Marie-Odile!
  • The banana bread recipe was made using this BBC Food recipe for inspiration. I used my usual four flour blend instead of the plain/wholemeal flours in the recipe and reduced the sweetener from 4 tbsp of agave (which I never use) to 3 tbsp of maple syrup. I also added 1/2 tsp xanthan gum as a binder. The recipe contains a yogurt but no other fat, which made the texture bizarrely light for a banana bread. It made a nice light breakfast served with unsweetened creamy fromage blanc and another splash of maple syrup. 
  • The gado gado recipe is one given to me by a young Malaysian woman I met while doing an internship in America back in the 1980s and have guarded preciously ever since! I have included it below, along with a marinade for satay skewers.
Gado gado with peanut sauce & satay skewers
  1. 100g roasted, unsalted peanuts, ground (OR use good quality peanut butter)
  2. 1 small onion, finely chopped,
  3. 1 clove garlic, crushed
  4. 1/4 tsp cayenne powder (or to taste)
  5. 1 tsp ground coriander
  6. 1/2 tsp ground cumin
  7. 250ml coconut milk
  8. 2 tbsp gula melaka (coconut sugar) or dark brown sugar
  9. 1 tbsp GF tamari (or to taste)
  10. 1 tbsp lime juice (or to taste)
To serve
a selection of vegetables to lightly steam
  1. courgette, carrot, green beans etc
a selection of vegetables to serve raw
  1. bean sprouts, red pepper, cucumber etc
  2. boiled eggs, halved
  1. Place the peanuts (or peanut butter), onion, garlic, cayenne, coriander and cumin into a medium frying pan and cook together for 5 mins.
  2. Add the coconut milk, sugar and tamari, bring to a simmer and cook for 10 mins.
  3. Add the lime juice to taste and add more tamari if needed.
  4. Serve warm with a selection of steamed and raw vegetables and halved hard boiled eggs.
If you wish to make a quick tofu or chicken skewer to accompany the salad, as I did then make a marinade with
  1. 3 tbsp neutral oil
  2. 3 tbsp GF tamari
  3. 1 clove garlic, chopped finely
  4. 1.5 tsp curry powder
  5. 1 tbsp sugar
  6. Mix all together in a bowl - add cubed chicken or tofu and cover. Allow to marinade for a minimum of 3 hours, preferably 6, then thread onto soaked wooden skewers and cook on a grill pan until golden and cooked through.
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Garibaldi biscuits

cookies | March 31, 2016 | By

Garibaldi biscuits seem to have gone out of fashion, which is a shame. They were a regular feature in the biscuit tin of my youth, much favoured by visiting aunts and friends of my mum, rather than being the first to be chosen by my older sister and I (that would have been a bourbon or later, a ginger cream).

Most families seem to call these ‘squashed fly biscuits or ‘fly cemeteries’ which of course might have something to do with why the children weren’t quite so keen on them. I don’t remember this putting me off, even if the mere name of a blood orange meant I wouldn’t remotely go near one.

Garibaldis have quite a bit in common with Eccles cakes and Chorley cakes, those other traditional cakes/pies/biscuits (let’s get the lid back on THAT can of worms quickly…) all something I have long since given up dreaming of eating gluten free. The older I get, the more I find a garibaldi appealing – hence the desire to figure out a GF version. They are reassuringly unsweet and plain. And they hold up to dunking in a mug of tea (yes, even the homemade ones!).

In researching for this post (I’ll spare you the origin of the name and the visit to Britain of an Italian military dignatory) I discovered that at one time it was possible to buy a chocolate-covered garibaldi. I know those never made their way into our house, otherwise I guarantee they would have been held in considerably higher esteem!

Garibaldi biscuits
  1. 120g my four flour blend (see flour blend page)
  2. 2 tablespoons ground flax
  3. 1/8 tsp sea salt
  4. 25g sugar
  5. 25g unsalted butter
  6. 3-4 tbsp milk
  7. 50g currants
  8. 1 egg white
  9. extra teaspoon sugar to sprinkle
  1. Preheat the oven to 180C (160C Fan).
  2. Combine the flour, flax, salt and sugar in a bowl.
  3. Rub in the butter until it is well combined, like sand.
  4. Add enough milk to bind to a soft dough.
  5. Place on a sheet of baking parchment and cover with a piece of clingfilm.
  6. Roll out to approx 25 x 15cm.
  7. Remove the cling film, scatter half the piece with the currants, then fold the other side over, using your hand under the baking parchment to help you (like turning the page of a book) and press down.
  8. Replace the cling film and roll out again until approx 25 x 15 cm or 2mm thick. Try not to let the currants break through the surface too much as they tend to burn otherwise.
  9. Cut into biscuits 3 rows of 6 biscuits, but leave them all joined together.
  10. Brush with lightly beaten egg white and sprinkle with sugar.
  11. Carefully transfer the biscuits, one at a time, to a baking parchment covered baking sheet.
  12. Bake for 15-20 mins until golden brown. Allow to cool before storing in an airtight container.
Adapted from Delia Smith's garibaldi biscuits
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A taste of childhood – tartelettes aux abricots

Uncategorized | March 14, 2016 | By


Anyone who grew up in France in the 90’s or noughties, or whose children did, is likely to remember these little tartlets. Children the world over seem to leave school in the afternoon absolutely ravenous, even if they haven’t enjoyed a four course lunch such as  the school system in France offers. It was quite a shock when we first arrived in France with children aged 3 and 6, to read the school menu for the week.

Every day the school lunch started with an entrée (in the true French sense of the word, an appetiser or starter, rather than the American term for a main course dish). It might be a salade piémontaise – potatoes, tomatoes, eggs and ham in a mayonnaise dressing, some slices of saucisson or the ubiquitous carottes râpées (for which I blame my youngest’s distrust of any orange foodstuffs, even though he would have you believe it was my less than stellar attempt at a pumpkin risotto chez nous). Next would follow a main course such as roast pork with coquillette pasta, or fish in breadcrumbs with carrots, then a simple cheese or plain yogurt and finally a fruit.

Of course the reality of any food produced centrally and served hours later at outlying destinations is that it is invariably disappointing, however well the menu reads. Nonetheless, hats off – ‘chapeau!’ – to the schools for trying to produce well-balanced, interesting and nutritional meals with more than a whiff of tradition about them.

Back to school leaving time then, the sortie de l’école, when parents would arrive with a range of tempting snacks or goûters for their children. This might be piece of baguette with a square of chocolate pushed inside, a petit pain viennoise, or for the maman completely on the hoof who had come directly from the supermarché, a packet of Bien Vu tartelettes aux abricots.

I found a recipe for these at the excellent French blog La Super Superette, where they have been renamed les bien-goûtues and set about to convert them to gluten free for my son who was coming home from university for Easter. They were great fun to make – now, without two young children in tow. Even my son thought they were super cute and overcame his irrational fear of orange for a sufficient amount of time to empty the tin, once I’d reassured him, of course, that no pumpkins had been harmed in their making. 

Apricot tartlets - tartelettes aux abricots
  1. 180g my flour flour blend
  2. 1/2 tsp xanthan gum
  3. 40g sugar
  4. 15g desiccated coconut
  5. 1/8 tsp sea salt
  6. 90g unsalted butter
  7. 1 medium egg
  8. 1-2 tablespoon milk
For the top
  1. 200ml apricot juice or nectar (containing about 50% apricot)
  2. 150g sugar
  3. 1 tbsp lemon juice
  4. 1g agar-agar powder
  1. Mix together the flour, xanthan gum, sugar, coconut and salt.
  2. Add the cold butter and rub in until the mixture looks like breadcrumbs.
  3. add the egg and 1 tbsp milk and mix to a dough. Add the remaining tbsp of milk if needed.
  4. Form into a disc then roll out between 2 sheets of baking parchment to approx 5mm thickness.
  5. Chill the rolled out dough before cutting out the tartlets.
  6. Cut the tartlets out using a small 5cm fluted cutter.
  7. Use a small glass (or even your thumb) to push a slight depression in the centre of the tartlet. Place on a parchment-covered baking sheet and prick the depressed base several times with a fork. Chill well for at least 2 hours (or overnight).
  8. When you are ready to bake the tartlets, preheat the oven to 180C (fan 160C) and prepare the filling.
  9. Heat the apricot juice,sugar and lemon juice together in a small pan. When boiling, reduce the heat and allow to bubble gently for 20 mins. Then whisk in the agar agar, and allow to bubble gently for a further 5 mins. Allow to cool for 5 mins at least before using.
  10. Meanwhile bake the tartlets for 10-12 mins or until slightly golden. Allow to cool before filling.
  11. Fill the centre of each tartlet carefully with the apricot mixture, being careful it does not overflow the edge of the depression. Allow to sit for 5 mins then add a little more filling if desired.
  12. Allow to set in the fridge for an hour before serving.
  1. You could also use an apricot jam, sieved and then heated with a little water until it makes a thick glaze, for the filling.
Adapted from Les Bien-Goûtues
Adapted from Les Bien-Goûtues
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Seville orange marmalade

preserves | February 18, 2016 | By

Making marmalade and jam reminds me of my maternal grandmother, Nanny. Jam seems inextricably linked to my memories of her. I remember her telling me stories of living in London during the World War II. She had been making plum jam on the day the Blitz started and she emerged from the bomb shelter with her four young children to find all the jars of jam that had been neatly lined up on the window sill smashed from the bombings. She taught me how to make jam and chutney, how to test for a set and how to sterilise the jars. I still derive a huge amount of pleasure of seeing a shelf of homemade preserves in my cellar and think of my Nanny whenever I do.

I’ve tried a variety of methods of making marmalade over the years. The one I keep coming back to is the one I found in a book by Claire MacDonald, ‘More Seasonal Cookery’, published back in 1987. Instead of slicing all the raw peels by hand, the whole citrus fruit are cooked in water, left to cool and then the innards scooped out and the soft peels sliced, which amounts to about 10 minutes of work all in. Some years I’ve even cooked the fruits one day and then sliced the peel and finished the marmalade the next day – I’m all for dividing up big tasks and spreading them out. I have made variations over the years, so don’t hesitate to add a slug of whisky (at the end of cooking, just before potting), the juice of some grated fresh ginger (add along with the peels), or whatever else appeals to you. 

I personally like thinly cut peel but if you want to reduce the workload even more, then of course you can use a food processor to speed up the process. And to avoid anyone else being disappointed – sadly the amazing colour of blood oranges is not heat stable. Once the peel are cooked this way the peels and flesh are the colour of regular oranges, so keep your precious stash of blood oranges for recipes when their colour will sing – sorbets, curds and salads.

Seville orange marmalade
  1. 750g Seville oranges
  2. 750g other citrus fruits - I use 1 pink grapefruit, 1 lemon and 3-4 sweet oranges to make up the weight
  3. 2.5litres water + 250ml water
  4. 2.5kg granulated sugar
  5. knob of butter
  1. Wash all the citrus fruit thoroughly in hot soapy water. Rinse in fresh water and then place in a large saucepan, add 2.5l water and place a small plate on top of the fruit to hold them down slightly.
  2. Bring to a boil then allow to simmer, with a lid on, for about 2-3 hours, until the fruit peel is soft and easily pierced by a knife.
  3. Remove the fruit from the pan, set aside to cool slightly and set the pan plus the liquid aside for later.
  4. Wash the jam jars and lids and place in a heated oven to sterilise (see directions below).
  5. Place 2 small plates or saucers in the fridge or freezer to chill for testing the set later (directions below).
  6. Cut each of the cooled, cooked citrus fruit in half and, using a spoon, scoop out all the flesh and pips into a small saucepan. Add 250mls water to the pan and boil for 30 mins, then strain - keeping the water and discarding the flesh and pips.
  7. Meanwhile slice the peel as thinly or as thickly as you wish using a sharp knife, or using a food processor if you want a chunkier marmalade.
  8. Return all the sliced fruit peel to the large pan with the reserved fruit cooking liquid, add the water strained from the small pan with the liquid from the pips, and add the sugar. Bring to a boil.
  9. Boil furiously for 30 mins then pull the marmalade off the heat and test for a set. To do this, drop a teaspoonful of marmalade onto one of the chilled plates from the fridge or freezer and allow to cool for a minute. Using your finger, push the jam forward across the plate. If the surface wrinkles, then the marmalade is ready to set. If there is no wrinkling, then put the pan back on the heat, boil for another 5 mins and test again.
  10. Once the marmalade is at setting point, carefully remove remove the jars from the oven, add the knob of butter to the marmalade (it will help disperse any scum) and pot the marmalade using a funnel and label. Put the lids on while the jars and contents are hot.
  11. Allow to cool then label the jars and store in a cool, dry cupboard.
  1. To sterilise jars, wash them and the lids in hot soapy water.
  2. Heat the oven to 120C (100C Fan), and place the rinsed, wet jars on the oven shelf upside down for about 30 mins.
  3. Dry the lids using kitchen paper.
  4. Pot jam or marmalade while the jars and mixture are both hot. Screw lids on tightly, using a towel to protect your hands.
Adapted from Claire Macdonald 'More Seasonal Cooking' 1987
Adapted from Claire Macdonald 'More Seasonal Cooking' 1987
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Sourdough project starts anew – crackers

crackers, sourdough | January 29, 2016 | By

Gluten free sourdough seems to be the unicorn of the blog world. Plenty of people are telling us it exists, but few, if any of us, have ever seen it. This is actually the second time in my life I have trodden this path – the first time was in the tropics which had its own set of challenges. My aim there was to run a community-based project where folk could come and pick up a pot of starter, experiment with their own recipes and flours and post the results online so everyone could learn from the other participants’ experience. I eventually stopped the ‘Singapore Gluten Free Sourdough Project’ as it was called,  (it had its own FaceBook page and everything!) as I realised that, having given up most bread years ago, when I first went gluten free, it was simply too pricey to keep feeding the new family  pet and not learn sufficiently quickly. 

Now in France, the lure of mastering sourdough has caught me in its spell again. I dont know whether its the almost magical concept of creating raised bread without adding yeast, or rather my inability to just let something go that I’m failing at. The sourdough bread I have made to date is definitely showing signs of improvement. I’m not ready to post a bread recipe yet, so bear with me. If you are intrigued enough to have a go before then, I recommend the website Cultures for Health – a veritable mine of useful information.

One thing you do have to get to grips with, if trying sourdough, is what to do with the fairly large amounts of starter that are discarded on a daily (if kept at room temp) or weekly (if confined to the fridge) basis. That’s where these crackers come in. The GF flours are too pricey to just consider just throwing away. I happen to love crackers. Crunch is the thing I really used to miss. exactly the craving that led me to eat two toasted slices of homemade seeded bread several years ago with frightening consequences including a trip to the hospital.

These crackers are infinitely changeable. So far I have made chestnut and sage ones, smoked sea salt and nutritional yeast ‘cheesy’ ones and these, a vegan sweet version made with coconut oil, cinnamon and a scattering of cocoa nibs. They aren’t too sweet, but are interesting enough to disappear steadily from a jar in my kitchen, maybe just a little too quickly.

Cocoa nib and cinnamon sourdough crackers
  1. 1 tbsp ground flax mixed with 3 tbsp warm water
  2. 140g Lisa's GF flour blend (
  3. 30g soft dark brown sugar
  4. 1/2 tsp sea salt
  5. 1/2 tsp ground cinnamon
  6. 40g coconut oil
  7. 120g discarded sourdough starter (see above)
  8. small handful of cocoa nibs
  1. Preheat the oven to 180C (160C fan).
  2. Mix the ground flax and warm water and set aside to form a gel.
  3. Mix together the flour blend, sugar, salt and cinnamon in one bowl.
  4. In another bowl combine the coconut oil (warmed slightly if needed to make it completely liquid), sourdough starter and the flax egg from step 1.
  5. Mix the wet ingredients and the dry together and mix to a firm dough.
  6. Place a sheet of baking parchment on a baking sheet and place the dough on top, flattening it slightly.
  7. Place another sheet of baking parchment or cling film on top and roll out thinly, approx 4mm. If necessary use half the dough on each of two baking sheets.
  8. Remove the top sheet and sprinkle the dough with the cocoa nibs. Replace the top sheet and give one last roll to press the cocoa nibs into the dough. Discard the top sheet of parchment/paper. Score with a knife or GF pizza cutter into square or diamond shaped crackers, but leave the pieces all joined together.
  9. Bake for 15-20 mins until lightly golden. You might need to remove the outside crackers and leave the inner ones to cook for a few more minutes.
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Converting recipes to gluten free – raisin, choc chip & oat cookies

Uncategorized | December 1, 2015 | By


We are going on a train trip tomorrow to see the marchés de Noël in Strasbourg – reputed to be the best in France. Part of the excitement is the train trip itself, a few days away in a new place and the chance to drink vin chaud and eat cookies at unreasonable hours of the day (and night).

Sometimes it’s nice to look up an old gluten-filled favourite and accept the challenge of converting it to an edible gluten free version. I know it’s something that a lot of people struggle with so I thought I’d show you how I go about it.

I was in the mood for something wholesome on a purely superficial level, so I opted for this recipe of Katie Stewart’s – rolled oat and raisin cookies, from her 1990 book ‘Entertaining with Katie Stewart’, an oldie but goodie. Oats, dried fruit, butter and enough brown sugar to slay a reindeer at fifty paces. That will do nicely.

The original recipe calls for :

100g SR wholemeal flour
pinch salt
100g rolled oats
50g seedless raisins
25g chopped walnuts
100g butter
100g soft brown sugar
2 tbsp clear honey
1 tbsp water

What I did:

1. Sub the flour.

Add 1 tsp GF baking powder per 125g of four flour blend to make it self-raising.

So for this recipe using 100g flour, I added a scant 3/4tsp of GF baking powder to 100g of my four flour blend.

2. Replace the gluten. We need to add a binder, either xanthan gum, psyllium husk or pixie dust, so our cookies don’t fall apart.

If using xanthan gum I add it in roughly the following amounts:

Cookies 1/4 tsp per 125g flour
Muffins and cakes 1/2 tsp per 125g flour
Breads up to 1 tsp per 125g flour

If I am using psyllium husk I use 2-3 times the amount of xanthan gum.

If I’m using pixie dust as a binder then I use the following amounts:

For cakes, muffins and cookies 1/2 tsp xanthan gum = 10g pixie dust
For breads 1 tbsp xanthan gum = 30 – 40g pixie dust

There are no hard and fast rules about which to use when. I’m a firm believer in trial and error, but also an advocate of keeping a kitchen journal so you know what worked and what didn’t. Personal preference also plays a role – I am trying to do away with as much xanthan gum as possible as I simply can’t tolerate it.

In this case I decided to use psyllium husk, 1 tsp.

3. Make any personal changes depending on what you have to hand. I have two types of GF oats at the moment. Some from the UK which are quite fine and traditional in type, and also some jumbo (coarse, old-fashioned oats). I decided to use 50g of each.

I had also run out of soft brown sugar so used 80g of soft brown and 20g of white sugar. I find a mixture often works well in cookies. Brown sugar gives colour, taste and a bit of chew, white sugar adds crispness.

I personally don’t like nuts in cookies. But I do like chocolate and happened to have some mini GF chocolate chips in my cupboard that I wanted to use up, so I subbed the same weight, 25g of choc chips for nuts.

I omitted the water, as I felt it wasn’t necessary. Why add a binder and then more liquid for the binder to work on?

4. Bake a few as a trial. The recipe says to roll the dough into balls and bake like that. My first cookies stayed very thick and I prefer them to be thinner, so I flattened the balls before baking. Check the baking time for the size of cookie you are making – consider weighing them as you make them so they are uniform. I made slightly larger cookies and found a longer bake at a lower temperature worked best.

5. Taste test. Personally I find these a little sweet and perhaps a tad too buttery.

6. Take a note of what you might try next time. I might reduce the butter and sugar by 20g. I think I might add a little vanilla too. 


So here is my current GF version of Katie’s recipe, with the caveat that **next time I would reduce the butter and sugar slightly and add vanilla extract**:


Raisin, choc chip & oat cookies

based on a recipe by Katie Stewart

100g Lisa’s four flour blend

3/4 tsp GF baking powder

1 tsp psyllium husk

pinch of salt 

100g oats (half rolled, half jumbo)

75g seedless raisins

25g mini chocolate chips

100g butter*

80g soft brown sugar*

20g granulated sugar*

2 tbsp honey

*please read the comments above!


1. Combine the flour, baking powder, psyllium, salt and oats in a bowl. Add the raisins and choc chips.

2. Meanwhile heat the butter, sugar and honey over a low heat until just soft enough to be liquid and combined. Do not allow to get hot.

3. Stir the butter mixture into the dry ingredients and combine thoroughly. Set aside for 10 mins while preheating the oven to 160C (140C fan).

4. Line a baking sheet with a piece of baking parchment. Take teaspoonfuls of the mixture (about 24g) roll into a ball then flatten onto the baking sheet. Bake for 20 mins. Allow to cool for 5 mins then place on a wire cooling rack.