Wednesday, 20 March 2013

Gluten Free Breakfast Series Recipe No. 1 - Pecan Apple Cinnamon Granola

I have discovered once you've made your own granola, you can't go back. You can't go back to the shop bought stuff, its never going to taste as good. Not only does this taste amazing, its got great texture and keeps you going for ages (slow release energy!!) and its easy to make, AND its sugar and gluten free and vegan win, win, win. Another win... its easy to adapt to your favourite flavours, but for me you can't beat pecans, and apples with cinnamon is a classic.
Amazing granola
The Ingredients
Makes 5 portions 

1 cup dried apple
3 cups of oats
2 tbsp flaxseed
2 tbsp sesame seeds
1 cup chopped pecans
0.25 cup of honey*
0.25 cup of extra virgin olive oil
1 tsp of cinnamon 

*if a strict vegan use maple or agave syrup instead.

The Method
Preheat oven to 180C (fan).

Mix the dry ingredients together in a large bowl.

Pour the honey and olive oil.

Mix everything together again. 

Line a baking tray with parchment.

Spread the the granola out evenly over the baking tray. 

Bake for 15-20 minutes. 

Toss every 5 minutes. 

Try not to eat all at once :)

Sunday, 17 March 2013

Honey Ginger Chews

I made these lovely chewy cookies for Mother's Day, as my mum is a ginger fan. I adapted the recipe from the Cheesy Mash Blog. There are so many great blogs out for recipe inspiration, I keep track of all the blogs I like through google reader, so I was most surprised and a little perturbed to hear that reader is about to die! I don't read news that much, so funny enough I found about about this through a crafty blog I have just discovered - Apples and Greens. The great thing about the internet is, you just google for alternatives and in minutes the problem is sorted. So now I'll be using feedly and it certainly is a lot pretty than Google Reader. Anyhoo, back to chewy cookies! 

The Ingredients 
63g organic butter or spread of your choice
63g xylitol 
63g gluten free flour
51g good quality honey 
0.5 tsp nutmeg
0.5 tbsp ground ginger
0.25 baking soda

The Method
Pre heat the oven to 180C fan. 

Melt the butter in a saucepan on a low heat. 

Add the xylitol and honey, once the butter is melted. 

Mix everything together for a minute or two. 

Take the saucepan off the heat and let it cool slightly. 

In the meantime, sieve the flour, baking soda, ground ginger and nutmeg, and mix together. 

Add the flour mix to the butter mix. 

Pour out into tartlet dishes (as seen in the photo below). 

Bake in the middle of the oven for about 10 minutes. 

Once they have cooled they can be cut to make 16 pie-slice-shaped chewy cookies. 
Pretty silicon tart dishes and chewy ginger honey cookies. 
These were lovely, but completely different to the recipe that I had tried to follow, which made the mixture into a soft dough, the consistency I had was very runny, hence the tart dishes. I probably didn't leave to the butter to cool for long enough - no patience! Oh well, they were a hit anyway :)

Friday, 8 March 2013

Gluten free pecan blondies

This is the first time that I have attempted blondies. I think this is because I am always drawn to brownies, its hard to see beyond squidgy intensely chocolately delights. It was my love of pecans that persuaded me to go to the light side and I have to say, I'm glad I did - I very much enjoyed them! I feel like my horizons have been expanded :) This recipe was adapted from the Vanilla Sugar blog.

Blondies, not brownies!
The ingredients 
150g unsalted organic butter or a non-diary spread of your choice (at room temp)
200g ground almond
175g gluten free four
1 (heaped) teaspoon baking powder
3/4 ts salt
250g xylitol
2 large eggs
1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
½ cup chopped, toasted pecans 

The method
The vanilla sugar blog suggests a slight under baking to keep them very moist, but baking times can be adjusted to your preference. Slightly longer baking makes them more spongy and cake like. You can also replace the gluten free flour with more ground almond as in the original recipe. I used flour as I didn't have enough ground almond. They are tasty either way!

Preheat oven to 180C (fan).

Line a 20cm baking pan with parchment paper.

In medium bowl, whisk together almond meal, gluten free flour, baking powder, and salt and set aside.

In a another bowl, mix the eggs, and vanilla extract until combined.

In a large bowl, mix the butter and xylitol in the bowl of an electric whisk, cream on medium speed until smooth and fluffy. 

Then add in egg mixture, mix well, then add in the dry ingredients and pecans and mix till combined. 

Pour batter into prepared pan; spread with a rubber spatula.

Bake in oven for about 25-30 minutes or until a cake tester inserted into blondies comes out “almost” clean.

Leave to cool slightly and cut into squares. Can be enjoyed both warm and cool. Most certainly comforting on a wintery day. If your still having those, as London is. 

Saturday, 2 March 2013

Gluten Free Afternoon Tea in London

Its definitely a feast for the eyes and the stomach if you are lucky enough to visit Claridges in Mayfair. The Foyer and Reading Room where tea is served is beautifully Art Deco with perfectly matching crockery and cutlery, but then again you wouldn't expect anything else. If you like Art Deco, this is the place to be with its pale green and cream curves and soft lighting, just a place to sit and relax and spend several hours eating and drinking. When you book your table, as long as you mention how many of your group will be gluten free, all will be well as everything is freshly made, but you'll have to be organised especially if you want to go at the weekend or a Friday, you'll need to be thinking at least 6 months ahead. 
Art Deco!
 The staff are friendly and attentive - your cup of tea will never be empty as passing staff will always stop to fill it up for you, not once will you pour yourself a cuppa. Its a good thing the tea is lovely and there are 40 to choose from, as you won't realise that by the end of will have drunk liters of the stuff, we choose to share assam tea, which was just right for accommodating those who want milk in their tea and those who don't.

 First the finger sandwiches, with two normals and one gluten free in the group, the normals shared a platter and  the gluten free ones were (and always are) served separately. Cut into danty quarters - I believe they use genuis gluten free bread - you get a mix of brown and white bread - with all sorts of filling - ham, smoke salmon, chicken, egg, cucumber and cream cheese - rather a mundane description, but be assured each sandwich contains an ingredient that raises it to a new level and makes it delicious and slightly unusual. I happily munched them all. When you food is boroght  to you, you get a whirlwind tour of all the ingredients, but its difficult to remember the details when you are marvelling at everything around you. You can order more sandwiches if you want to, you can order more of everything. As lovely as the sandwiches were, my game plan is always to leave as much room as possible for the sweet stuff, so declined extra sandwiches.

Gluten free finger sandwiches!
Now the scones and sweet pastries. These pretty things are deceptive, you think you'll more of everything - they are delicate but filling, especially with the amount of tea you will drink. 
Beautifully presented delights!
 Of course, I ate everything you see here, but only managed one extra scone. The raisin and apple scones are freshly baked, so if you order more there is a slight wait - but its worth it for fresh warm scones  with Marco Polo jelly and Cornish clotted cream - just thinking about it make me drowl.

Freshly baked gluten free scones!
Claridges also provide variety of other sweet treats, have been twice now and they each time had completely different treats. This time a macroon with an amazing pear and caramel filling. There always seems to be a shot glass of delight, last time it was rice pudding, this time creme caramel with candied walnuts - I can't remember if this flavour combination is strictly true but it was out of this world good.
Basically is a perfectly lovely way to spend an afternoon, and I really appreciate the effort made to make the gluten free option as good as possible - and Claridges really hit the mark - there was never a point where I looked longingly at gluten version wishing mine was just as good, there is a different selection of pastries for the gluten eaters, but you won't feel left out. They both looked amazing, the standards are very high and it was absolutely delicious.