Gluten-free zucchini bread

Now I love zucchini, I love the word zucchini, I make zucchini pasta, I roast it, I make zucchini “pizza” and I even make zucchini hummus (must share this recipe – it is amazing!)… And found in Danielle Walker’s “Against all Grain” is a recipe for gluten-free zucchini bread. Time to bake!

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Ingredients

  • 1 cup shredded zucchini
  • 1½ cups blanched almond flour
  • 2 teaspoons cinnamon
  • ¾ teaspoon baking soda
  • ½ teaspoon sea salt
  • ½ teaspoon nutmeg
  • 3 eggs, beaten
  • ¼ cup honey
  • 1 ripe banana

Directions

Preheat oven to 180 degrees. Lightly grease a loaf tin and place a piece of parchment paper on the bottom –or make your life easier and use a silicon loaf tin.

Press the zucchini between 2 paper towels, squeezing lightly to release excess moisture.

Place the dry ingredients in a small bowl.

Place the eggs, honey and banana in the bowl of a stand mixer and beat on medium for 1 minute, until frothy and fully combined. Add zucchini and beat again to incorporate, about 15 seconds.

With the mixer running, slowly add the dry ingredients until they are all incorporated.

Spoon batter into the prepared pan or a 12-cup muffin pan lined with paper cups and fill each cup ¾ full.

Bake the loaf for 40 minutes until the middle is set and a toothpick inserted comes out clean. Bake the muffins for 30 to 35 minutes.

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I ate this with a beautiful berry jam and it was very very tasty. However, not a bread that you would eat with eggs and bacon as is more sweet than savoury, and does not quite fit the romantic toast with melting butter vision that I have for my life. However, always good to start your day with some added greens!

Gluten-free chocolate cupcake (#1)

So the quest for the gluten-free chocolate cupcake in Johannesburg has its first nomination. Whilst at Belle’s Patisserie in the Bluebird Centre for a work function, I discovered the “Skinny Menu” with gluten-free, sugar free and vegetarian options. So what’s gluten-free on the menu? Red Velvet Cupcake, Fran’s Cheesecake, Hemp Brownie and Paleo Poppie Loaf.  In the interests of fair investigation I tried the cupcake (although they had chocolate not red velvet), the cheesecake and the brownie. Tough job but someone had to do it. Let’s be clear though, I did share. They also have savoury options (in fact, most of the menu is gluten-free) from crustless quiche to cauliflower wraps – see the full Skinny Menu here.

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The cupcakes are made from coconut flour and are very moist… but I am I think still getting used to eating coconut flour. Or maybe the icing threw me off slightly – is sugar free and I think made from coconut cream which gives it a different taste and texture… rich but different. So I give this cupcake a 7/10. Is good but not decadent. You don’t feel like you have to run round the block after eating, which I suppose is the reason behind creating a Skinny Menu in the first place. But nice to know it’s there when you just feel the need to cheat but be skinny at the same time!

Belle’s Patisserie also has gluten-free Paleo bread which they serve for breakfast as part of their Skinny Menu. I tried this with some of the snacks they had provided for our event and was very very moreish!

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So moreish in fact I bought a loaf. Unfortunately I cannot eat large quantities of this as the nut butter can get to me (main ingredients almond nut butter and egg yolks; also made with almond milk, coconut flour, honey, sunflower seeds, hemp seeds). But if you do not have issues with eggs or nut butters then this is the bread for you! You need to phone ahead and order if you want to buy a loaf as is very popular.

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Visit Belle’s Patisserie website http://www.bellespatisserie.co.za or find them at Shop 16, Blubird Shopping Centre, Corner Athol Oaklands Road, Birnam, Johannesburg

Gluten-free rocky road

Recently I was watching an episode of Billl’s Kitchen: Notting Hill (Bill Granger) when I became mesmerized as he made Rocky Road. I have never made Rocky Road or really eaten it, but watching chocolate and butter slowly melt with some maple syrup thrown in for good measure was motivation enough for me to start! I have not been able to find Bill’s exact recipe so I have taken bits from recipes online (there are many) and modified to suit my tastes to make gluten-free rocky road.

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 Ingredients

  • 176 grams chocolate – I only use dark chocolate
  • 100 grams unsalted butter
  • 2 tbsp. maple syrup
  • 50 gram marshmallows (I use gluten-free marshmallows*)
  • 100 g biscuits – I use Schar Maria Biscuits*
  • 50 grams nuts and dried cranberries

Directions

Melt chocolate, butter and maple syrup in a double boiler. Try not to eat it all at this point as is rather good.

Break up biscuits into small pieces. Cut up marshmallows into bite size pieces.Mix biscuits, marshmallows, nuts and cranberries in a bowl. Pour over the chocolate and mix well. A hint I picked up from Bill Granger was to keep some of the chocolate back at this point.

Line a square baking tray with grease proof paper and pour in your mixture gently pushing it down and to the sides. Then pour over the chocolate you have kept in reserve.

Refrigerate. Once set cut into squares and enjoy. How easy is this?

I do eyeball the amount of cranberries and nuts I use and see what looks right, you can of course leave out the cranberries but I think they bring a great splash of colour. Originally I used 125 grams of biscuits but I felt that was a little too much for this ratio of chocolate and dropped it down to 100 grams.

I have made this now three times for work and I even take requests now for this as a birthday gift, so this seems to be something that everyone is keen to enjoy. Great rewards for not much effort – and it contains nuts and fruit so cannot be all bad!

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* Purchased at Dischem

Gluten-free coconut flour brownies

As promised I have begun to bake my way through the pile of gluten-free cookbooks I seemed to have acquired over the past few months. I have a soft spot for chocolate (maybe you had noticed) and so I had to begin with brownies. Enter gluten-free coconut flour brownies.

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Ingredients

  • ½ cup coconut flour
  • ½ cup unsweetened cocoa powder
  • ½ teaspoon salt
  • ½ teaspoon baking soda
  • 5 large eggs
  • ¾ cup maple syrup or honey
  • 76g unsalted butter melted, ghee or coconut oil
  • 2 tablespoons coconut milk or other milk
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract

Directions

Preheat oven to 180 Celsius.
Grease a 20 x 20 x 5 cm baking pan, or line the bottom with parchment paper and grease the sides.
Whisk together the coconut flour, cocoa, salt and baking soda in a large bowl.
In a separate bowl mix together the eggs, maple syrup, butter, milk and vanilla.
Add the cocoa mixture to the egg mixture and blend well using a mixer or food processor. Let the batter sit for a few minutes and mix once more.
Bake for 20 minutes or until a toothpick comes out clean. Don’t over bake – brownies are always better a bit moister than dryer.

Now… I have baked my fair share of gluten-free chocolate goodies, but with this recipe I am not 100% convinced. Not sure if it is the coconut flour or the cocoa…. either way I would not kill for these brownies. Jamie Oliver chocolate pots I would kill for. Gluten-free chocolate torte I would kill for. These do not have quite the chocolate intensity or fudgy richness that makes the “moment on the lips lifetime on the hips” worth it.

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I took this recipe from the healthy coconut flour cookbook with “more than 100 grain-free, gluten-free, paleo friendly recipes for every occasion”. Often my flour of choice for baking is almond flour. Coconut flour is a much lower calorie option than almond flour (but then I think to myself I am not consuming almond flour every day). Almond flour also has a rather high omega 6 to omega 3 ratio and has become a little expensive, so I am open to switching to coconut flour if it tastes just as good. Emphasis on the “if”.

So… let’s give another recipe from this book a chance next week. I won’t write coconut flour off just yet…

 

Gluten-free zucchini spaghetti

A few restaurants around Johannesburg are starting to offer gluten-free pasta on their menu, but with that does not generally come the understanding that the pasta sauce also needs to be gluten-free, or the ability to actually list the ingredients of said gluten-free pasta. For these reasons I generally give it a skip unless I feel my myriad of questions has been satisfyingly and confidently answered.

However, this weekend whilst out for lunch at Full Stop Cafe, an old favourite haunt that I had not been to for a while, I discovered on the menu gluten-free zucchini spaghetti (gasp of amazement please).

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What an unexpected discovery.I  was thrilled, thrilled I tell you! I ordered the bolognaise which was gluten-free (and I can confirm there were no repercussions the next day).

So refreshing to be able to order a meal in a restaurant like a normal human being, and it tasted great as well. Although I did not specifically enquire about other sauces, safe options look like arrabiata, bosso nova (roasted vegetables with pesto), prawns in napolitana sauce and maybe the salsicce (but this includes chicken, Italian sausage and creamy napolitana sauce so may necessitate a lot of questions… maybe too many).

I am sure the zucchini spaghetti is being offered as Banting meal option or as homage to Tim Noakes’ Real Meal Revolution. Either way I am not fussed. If it makes my life easier and more delicious then I am in! Life would be very exciting if one could just buy the zucchini spaghetti… now there’s a thought.

Visit Full Stop Cafe at 50 7th Avenue, Parktown North, Johannesburg, 2193.

Side note: do not go to 4th Avenue Parkhust, they have moved!!!

2015 gluten-free inspiration – what’s on my shelf

I recently read a great piece of advice when it came to New Year’s Resolutions – don’t find motivation, find inspiration. I spent the holidays in Australia, a proverbial mecca for the coeliac not used to restaurants having gluten-free menus or coeliac society endorsed foods. So I returned dragging rather a large amount of books with me – books to learn from, to bake from and to find inspiration from.

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Added to the gluten-free pile were two books by Eric Lanlard – Couture Cupcakes (what a fabulous title) and Totally Chocolate – the idea being to combine some rather opulent ideas with gluten-free recipes and get the best of both worlds.

And my goal for the year – master the art of the macaron. Secrets of Macarons by French chef José Maréchal is quite, shall we say, thorough, taking one step by step through the art of making this “dainty indulgence” covering the classics through to some rather exciting options such as salted butter caramel, macarons de nancy and amaretti. And do not be confused by the macaron versus the macaroon. In many instances people seem to use the words interchangeably, but as popsugar.com so helpfully explains: “a macaron specifically refers to a meringue-based biscuit (cookie) made with almond flour, egg whites, and granulated and powdered sugar, then filled with buttercream, ganache or fruit curd. In contrast, the word macaroon is a generic phrase…mostly, the term is equated with the moist and dense coconut macaroon, which is composed of egg whites, sugar, and dried coconut, often piped with a star-shaped tip, and sometimes dipped in chocolate”. Good to know.
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So as we ease into 2015 I shall start to make my way through this fabulous mountain of gluten-free recipes. Stay tuned :).

Gluten-free chocolate olive oil cake

Unexpectedly I found a gluten-free dairy-free chocolate cake recipe by Nigella Lawson, and if it is by Nigella then one can only expect great things! This cake contains olive oil as an ingredient which was slightly intriguing and worth a bake. So… before I share the rather large amount of fabulous gluten free books that I have just returned with from Australia that are my inspiration for 2015, I thought I would highlight a few things that I baked over the holidays. Let’s start with this gluten-free chocolate olive oil cake. Find the original recipe here.

Gluten-free chocolate olive oil cake

Ingredients
• 150 ml regular olive oil (plus more for greasing)
• 50 grams good-quality cocoa powder (sifted)
• 125 ml boiling water
• 2 teaspoons best vanilla extract
• 150 grams ground almonds
• ½ teaspoon bicarbonate of soda
• 1 pinch of salt
• 200 grams caster sugar
• 3 large eggs

Directions
Preheat your oven to 170°C. Grease a 22 or 23 cm/ 9inch spring form tin with a little oil and line the base with baking parchment.
Measure and sift the cocoa powder into a bowl or jug and whisk in the boiling water until you have a smooth, chocolatey, still runny (but only just) paste. Whisk in the vanilla extract, then set aside to cool a little.
In another smallish bowl, combine the ground almonds (or flour) with the bicarbonate of soda and pinch of salt.
Put the sugar, olive oil and eggs into the bowl of a freestanding mixer with the paddle attachment (or other bowl and whisk arrangement of your choice) and beat together vigorously for about 3 minutes until you have a pale-primrose, aerated and thickened cream.
Turn the speed down a little and pour in the cocoa mixture, beating as you go, and when all is scraped in you can slowly tip in the ground almond (or flour) mixture.
Scrape down, and stir a little with a spatula, then pour this dark, liquid batter into the prepared tin. Bake for 40-45 minutes or until the sides are set and the very centre, on top, still looks slightly damp. A cake tester should come up mainly clean but with a few sticky chocolate crumbs clinging to it.
Let it cool for 10 minutes on a wire rack, still in its tin, and then ease the sides of the cake with a small metal spatula and spring it out of the tin. Leave to cool completely or eat while still warm with some ice cream, as a pudding.
I dusted with icing sugar and served the cake with raspberries and blackberries – they look so pretty and inviting against the dark chocolate hue of the cake (and fruit is good for you!).

Gluten-free coconut flour banana bread

So for those who cannot have dairy at the moment I have been hunting for some gluten-free recipes that are dairy free but still are worthwhile and worthy of baking… and here I may have found just the thing – gluten-free coconut flour banana bread. Yes I did add some icing on, mainly to use my new palette knife (!), but that is not part of the original recipe and is not a requirement. This is the first time I have baked with coconut oil and the creamed coconut oil and honey was really really good (I confess I may have licked the spoon). In fact, this is one of the nicest non-chocolate cakes/breads I have ever made! Original recipe found here at Ditch the Wheat.
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Ingredients
• 6 eggs, separated
• 2 tsp cream of tartar
• ½ cup extra virgin coconut oil
• ¼ cup raw honey
• ½ cup mashed ripe banana (for me that was 1 banana)
• 1 tbsp vanilla extract
• 1 tbsp cinnamon
• ½ cup coconut flour, sifted (it weighed 47 grams)
• ½ tsp baking soda
• ¼ tsp sea salt

Instructions
Preheat oven to 350f/175c.
In a bowl combine egg whites and cream of tartar. Whip the egg whites until stiff peaks form.
In a separate bowl cream together coconut oil and raw honey. Do that for a few minutes until it looks like icing. (Lick the spoon).
Add the egg yolks one at a time to the creamed coconut oil and raw honey. Mix until smooth. Add mashed banana, vanilla and cinnamon until mixed.
Add the sifted coconut flour, baking soda and salt to the egg yolk mixture. Mix until smooth. Slowly add the egg yolk mixture to the whipped egg whites. Mixing it until it is combined.
Line a 7 1/2 inch x 3 1/2 inch loaf pan with parchment paper.
Bake for 50-60 minutes until the top is firm to the touch and a toothpick can be inserted and comes out dry.

For the icing I creamed 250 grams cream cheese with 1/3 of a cup of icing sugar and a table spoon of lemon juice.

I froze some slices of this as well and they defrosted perfectly – an all round gluten-free and dairy-free winner!

Gluten-free flourless cookies

So the time has come to start experimenting with some gluten-free flourless cookies/biscuit recipes. So this is the first of possibly many posts to come… original recipe found at errenskitchen.
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Serves: 15
Ingredients
• 2½ cups powdered sugar
• ¾ cup cocoa powder
• ¼ teaspoon salt
• 1 tablespoon cornstarch
• ⅛ tsp baking soda
• 2 egg whites, at room temperature (more if needed)
• 1 tablespoon pure vanilla extract
• ½ teaspoon of vinegar
• Red food coloring
• 1 cup/150g bittersweet chocolate chips

I did not use the food colouring as it is just one more product for me to scrutinize the label of, and I am quite happy with good old chocolate!

Instructions
Preheat oven to 350f/175c.
Line two baking sheets with parchment paper. Spray the parchment paper lightly with cooking spray.
In a large bowl, whisk together the powdered sugar, cocoa powder, salt, cornstarch & baking soda
Beat in two egg whites and the vanilla extract and vinegar (and food coloring if using) until the batter is moistened.
The consistency should be a thick and fudgy batter. As all eggs are not created equal, if the batter seems too thick, add another egg white or two.
Spoon batter onto the prepared baking sheets in 2 inches apart.
Bake about 12 – 14 minutes, until the tops are shiny and lightly cracked.
Slide cookies on the parchment paper onto wire racks and let cool completely.

I must confess that on my first attempt I thought the batter was too thick and all the ingredients were not being incorporated, so I added another egg white. I was slightly horrified then when I ended up with one giant cooked cookie as the batter had expanded as it cooked rather more than anticipated! So if you think it is too thick wait until you have given it a good chance to mix… not that one giant cookie is a bad thing of course!

Fudgy gluten-free brownies

I found this brownie recipe here at the gfreefoodie (recipe courtesy: Ghirardelli Chocolate). I am always on the lookout for recipes that are flourless or use almond/coconut flours, so time to bake!

gluten-free brownies

 

Ingredients

1/2 cup whole almonds or 2/3 cup almond flour
1/3 cup brown rice flour
1 cup Ghirardelli bittersweet 60% Chocolate Chips (use what you can find locally)
6 tablespoons unsalted butter cut into chunks
1/2 teaspoon salt
3/4 cup sugar
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
2 eggs
1 cup walnut or pecan pieces, optional

Directions

Preheat the oven to 325 degrees (that’s about 162 Celsius) with a rack in the lower third of the oven.
Line an 8×8-inch metal baking pan across the bottom and up two opposite sides with parchment paper. If using whole almonds, add them to a food process with the rice flour and pulse until the nuts are finely ground. If using almond flour, mix it with the rice flour.  Set aside.

Place the chocolate, butter and salt in the top of a large double boiler over barely simmering water. Stir frequently until the chocolate is melted and the mixture is smooth. Remove the bowl and let cool for 5 minutes. Stir in the sugar and vanilla. Stir in the eggs one at a time. Add the almond and rice flour mixture and stir until moistened, and then mix briskly about 40 strokes. Stir in the walnuts or pecans if using.

Scrape the batter into the prepared pan and spread it evenly. Bake 20 to 25 minutes or until the brownies are slightly puffed all over and a toothpick inserted into the centre comes out moist but clean. Cool the pan on a rack. Run a knife along the unlined sides of the pan to detach the brownies. Lift the edges of the parchment paper to remove the brownies. Cut into squares. Eat!

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