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.
- 100g roasted, unsalted peanuts, ground (OR use good quality peanut butter)
- 1 small onion, finely chopped,
- 1 clove garlic, crushed
- 1/4 tsp cayenne powder (or to taste)
- 1 tsp ground coriander
- 1/2 tsp ground cumin
- 250ml coconut milk
- 2 tbsp gula melaka (coconut sugar) or dark brown sugar
- 1 tbsp GF tamari (or to taste)
- 1 tbsp lime juice (or to taste)
- courgette, carrot, green beans etc
- bean sprouts, red pepper, cucumber etc
- boiled eggs, halved
- Place the peanuts (or peanut butter), onion, garlic, cayenne, coriander and cumin into a medium frying pan and cook together for 5 mins.
- Add the coconut milk, sugar and tamari, bring to a simmer and cook for 10 mins.
- Add the lime juice to taste and add more tamari if needed.
- Serve warm with a selection of steamed and raw vegetables and halved hard boiled eggs.
- 3 tbsp neutral oil
- 3 tbsp GF tamari
- 1 clove garlic, chopped finely
- 1.5 tsp curry powder
- 1 tbsp sugar
- 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.
Brandade de morue is a dish with a bit of a reputation of being a bit of a slog to make. I don’t know anyone who makes their own. Even back in 1960, when ‘French Provincial Cooking’ was first published, Elizabeth David commented that the majority of French housewives in Provence bought it ready-prepared. Of course, in Nimes they would have been purchasing it in a small shop that had made it their specialty over the preceding century (at least). Nowadays the supermarket Monoprix and the frozen food store Picard seem the major suppliers to the nation.
And yet that reputation seems, as reputations often are, rather undeserved. Yes, it is made with salt cod that has to be soaked overnight in cold water, but that task seems hardy onerous. I made this tried and tested recipe for supper last week and it was quite speedy. I used a 400g package of skinned and deboned pieces of salt cod that speeded the cooking and flaking process up considerably.
To the uninitiated it is a mixture of cooked fish, with potatoes, some garlic and olive oil. I’m trying to avoid using the words ‘fish pie’ but that is how I initially persuaded my children to eat it. I really enjoy the addition of some crème fraîche and a little lemon zest to lighten the taste and texture of a dish that can otherwise be a bit heavy with the taste of the olive oil. It is a perfect dish to make ahead and reheat. It needs just 20 mins in the oven and a dressed green salad to accompany it. Why not give it a go – it will taste better than anything those French housewives were spending their francs on back in the 60s!
- 400g skinless, boneless salt cod pieces
- 250ml milk
- several sprigs thyme
- 1 bay leaf
- 5 peppercorns
- 1/8 tsp ground allspice
- 1 clove
- 400g floury potatoes, cut into large cubes
- 5 garlic cloves
- salt and pepper
- 60ml olive oil
- pinch cayenne
- freshly grated nutmeg
- zest of 1/2 lemon
- 4 tbsp crème fraiche
- large knob of cold butter
- 4 tbsp gluten free breadcrumbs
- Place the pieces of salt cod in a dish, cover with water and a lid, or cling film, and place in the fridge overnight. In the morning drain off the water, replace with fresh water and leave until ready to prepare the dish (so a total of 12-24 hours soaking time).
- Place the cod in a medium pan with the milk, thyme, bay, peppercorns, allspice and clove. Bring to a gentle simmer for 15 mins - the surface should be barely moving (any faster a simmer and your fish might toughen). Drain the fish and discard the milk. Flake the cod into smallish pieces.
- Meanwhile cook the potatoes with the whole garlic cloves in boiling salted water until the potatoes are soft. Drain the potatoes and garlic and reserve a small cup of the cooking liquid.
- Heat the cooked garlic cloves and the olive oil in a small pan, crushing the garlic with a fork, then heat the oil gently for a few minutes. You are not aiming to cook the garlic, just to infuse the oil with the garlic. Set aside.
- Mash the potatoes with a masher or ricer into a large bowl, then add the flaked, cooked salt cod, the garlic and its oil and beat all together with a wooden spoon or spatula.
- Add the cayenne, grated nutmeg to taste, lemon zest and the crème fraîche. Beat well together. Add a few tablespoons of the potato cooking liquid to lighten the mixture and beat well to combine. The mixture should have the texture of soft mashed potatoes. Taste and adjust seasoning with more salt and pepper if needed.
- Preheat the oven to 200C (180C fan). Grease a gratin dish or similar ( I used two Le Creuset mini frying pans) and add the mixture, smoothing the surface. Scatter the breadcrumbs over the top and dot with small pieces of butter.
- Bake for 20 mins until golden and serve hot with a dressed green salad.
Vietnamese rice paper rolls are easy to make but can be daunting to the uninitiated. They make a fairly regular appearance on our gluten free family table as a DIY affair, and my offspring learned to assemble their own rolls from quite a young age, although it’s fair to say their first attempts were pretty ramshackle. I prepare the poached chicken, julienned vegetables, cooked noodles and washed herbs, and rustle up a quick dipping sauce to go alongside. If time is short, then sweet Thai chill sauce will serve as an accompaniment instead.
What we prepare might bear little resemblance to an authentic Vietnamese rice paper roll, but it does make a fresh , healthy supper, which is almost fat-free. All the elements can be prepared well in advance and stored in airtight containers in the fridge. Children are always more keen to try foods they have had a hand in preparing, so why not give these a go. Be as adventurous as you like. I made a lesser-known but actually very traditional version recently with some pieces of fried white fish fillet, cucumber, fresh dill and thin slices of pineapple – delicious.
Two words of caution though – I would suggest you retain control over the dipping of the papers, as a spilled bowl of hot water is not likely to provide a fun-filled interlude at dinner time. And be careful if serving this version to a Vietnamese guest. The addition of a slick of GF hoisin sauce inside the wrapper is clearly an abomination on the part of my family. Not at all authentic, but very tasty indeed.
- 2-3 chicken breasts
- 3 slices of ginger
- bee noon or vermicelli noodles, prepared according to the packet
- 1 cucumber, peeled, deseeded and julienned
- 3 carrots, peeled and julienned
- 6 spring onions, julienned
- handful of fresh coriander, leaves washed and picked from stems
- handful of fresh mint, washed
- handful of fresh basil, washed
- hoisin sauce (optional)
- 2 tbsp fish sauce
- juice of 3 limes
- 1/2 fresh long red finger chilli, chopped finely
- 2 tbsp caster sugar
- 1 clove garlic, finely chopped
- Poach the chicken breasts by placing them in a shallow pan and covering with water. Add the ginger, place over a medium heat and as soon as the water comes to the boil, turn off the gas, cover with a fitting lid and leave for 20 mins. Remove from the water and chill.
- Prepare a large shallow bowl of warm water for dipping.
- Dip one paper at a time into the water until just wet - several seconds only. Do not wait for the paper to soften in the bowl, or it will be impossible to handle. Place on a plate while still quite stiff, it will soften on the plate as the water is absorbed.
- Place some of the herbs on the bottom third of the paper, then make layers of chicken, vegetables, noodles and some hoisin sauce if using.
- Fold the bottom third of the paper up and then roll up, tucking in the sides as you go. Slice in half to serve, or leave open at one end for a more authentic look.
- Serve with the dipping sauce, made by stirring all the ingredients together until the sugar has dissolved, or Thai sweet chilli sauce.
- thinly sliced rare tuna
- cooked prawns
- fresh dill
- roasted duck breast
- grilled marinated pork
There are some things I would never dream of ordering in France. One of them is a salade chèvre chaud – usually an oozy slice of goat cheese on a piece of sourdough toast served on dressed salad leaves. I’m not sure which friend passed this idea on to me first – Steph in the Alps or Sarah on the Ile de Ré. Yes I’m lucky enough to have friends living in amazing parts of France. And even luckier that they invite us to stay with them. And just occasionally lucky enough to be on the receiving end of a great idea for a gluten free recipe from one of these gluten eaters!
I used a mixture of olive oil and walnut oil for the dressing and ideally I would have added toasted chopped walnuts rather than pine nuts. However, seeing as how my pine nuts had been hanging around the kitchen cupboard for a while and considering that a small packet costs way more than my monthly salary right now (haha!) I used them up. Next time I would definitely go the walnut route.
The salad dressing makes enough for 4 people or more, but some folk like more dressing than others and I usually have some dressing leftover in my fridge to rustle up a quick lunch or side salad. I like to leave the skins on the apples for a bit of colour and texture. Peel the apples if yours are less than pretty.
This would make a great starter or light lunch. Enjoy!
- 1 apple, washed
- 2 tbsp pine nuts
- 2 handfuls washed salad leaves
- 2 cabecou (individual cheeses) or slices of a log of goat cheese
- 1 tsp dijon mustard
- fine sea salt and pepper
- 2 tbsp white wine vinegar
- 2 tbsp olive oil
- 2 tbsp walnut oil
- Toast the pine nuts in a dry pan over medium heat until toasted.
- Core the apple and cut two 1com thick slices. Place on a baking sheet.
- Preheat the grill (medium).
- Make the dressing by stirring together the mustard, salt, pepper and vinegar then whisking in the oils.
- Drizzle half a tsp of the dressing over the top surface of each apple ring.
- Grill for 3-5 mins.
- Dress the salad leaves with as much of the dressing as you like (store the remainder for another day in the fridge).
- Place goat cheese on top of each apple slice, return to grill and grill for 5 mins until cheese is starting to bubble and apples starting to brown at edges.
- Place the apple and cheese on the salad and serve immediately.