Wild strawberries and vanilla cream

Looking for something simple and light with minimal preparation? then look no further than Mr Jamie Oliver’s strawberries and vanilla cream – (original recipe here).

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Ingredients

4 handfuls wild strawberries

1 tablespoon caster sugar

1 vanilla pod, scored lengthways and seeds scraped out

1 splash sherry vinegar

1 pot crème fraîche

a few small fresh mint leaves

zest of 1 orange

Directions

Pick out the nicest strawberries and set aside. Put the rest in a bowl and add the sugar, half the vanilla seeds and the vinegar. Squash together with the back of a fork and leave to macerate for 10–15 minutes.

Stir the rest of the vanilla seeds into the crème fraîche. To serve, spoon a little vanilla cream in the centre of each bowl, make a well in the middle and spoon in some mushed strawberries. Halve some of the reserved strawberries and sprinkle the lot over the vanilla cream. Scatter over the mint leaves (and orange zest if using) then serve.

I love not only the subtle taste the vanilla gives the crème fraîche but also the beautiful speckling of black that runs through the cream. So simple yet so elegant.

Girl wants cake – first taste of a Lamington

For those in Johannesburg – seems every 4th week or so I feel the need to venture forth and find myself some sweet treat. So as per previous excursions I ended up at Fresh Earth in Emmerentia, and this time I bought a gluten-free Lamington.

Now this is something that I have never actually eaten, or even tried a nibble of in the dark while no-one was looking. So time for some research… a Lamington is an Australian dessert with sponge cake coated in chocolate sauce (or icing depending on where you read) and then in desiccated coconut.

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Being a fan of both chocolate and coconut I decided to try the unknown. Very nice, satisfies the sweet tooth and as with everything I have tried at Fresh Earth a great tasting gluten-free cake – nothing worse than a gluten-free cake or bread that tastes like dried cardboard! Visit the Fresh Earth website here.

Whilst on the topic of nibbly things, someone recently gave me some Schar gluten-free “Maria” biscuits (thank you Morne) which are basically Marie biscuits, and I wondered why an Italian company was producing a South African biscuit. Seems I rather erroneously believed that a Marie biscuit was a South African invention. Imagine my horror (and embarrassment, yes maybe I blushed a little) to find out that the Marie Biscuit was created in London in 1874. I grew up in the UK and have no recollection of a Marie Biscuit – not that I would have been eating them of course,  but I am well aware of chocolate digestives , Bakewell Tarts and Jaffa Cakes and I was not eating those either!

I did ask someone at work to try one and then do a comparison with a local Marie biscuit and apparently it is rather close – they taste just like the real thing.  So if it’s time for tea and you are looking for a biscuit to dunk, now you know what to eat! Schar products are imported by Master Health Products – visit their website for a full list of stockists.

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Gluten-free baked chocolate and raspberry mousse

I saw this recipe recently in Woman & Home and I was forced to try it almost immediately – chocolate and fruit in one wicked dessert! The article said that the recipe was by James Martin but I have not been able to find it online so far. As you can see this was eaten faster than I could take a photo, partly because it needed to be eaten hot out of the oven, and partly because it tasted so good!

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Ingredients (serves 4)

200g dark chocolate, 70% cocoa solids

25g butter

4 eggs

50g castor sugar

400g raspberries

Pouring cream or ice cream to serve if desired

Directions

Preheat the oven to 200 degrees

Break the chocolate into pieces. Melt the chocolate and butter together in a heat-proof bowl set over a pan of barely simmering water. Remove and allow to cool slightly.

Separate the eggs, reserving the whites, then whisk the egg yolks into the chocolate mixture.

Whisk the egg whites with the sugar to form stiff peaks, and then fold them into the chocolate mixture.

Place the raspberries into a large ovenproof dish measuring approximately 15 x 20cm, then top with the chocolate mixture.

Bake in the oven for 12 minutes, remove and serve immediately with cream if desired.

 

The notes to the recipe say that this could also just into the fridge to set as an unbaked mousse as well, but cooking it changes the flavour. In the interests of research I kept a small amount of the mixture into the fridge as well. The fridge version was basically a chocolate mousse which tasted a lot better the next day. The baked mousse almost takes on the consistency of gooey cake with small pieces of raspberries dotted throughout – really was very nice and also something a little different to serve.

Pretty and pesto

This weekend I felt like pasta and one of my favourite sauces is a simple pesto. That said, with additives and who knows what else sometimes being added, one has to be quite vigilant in terms of what one actually buys (plus some pesto seems to have walnuts in which, for some reason, can bother me). So right now I have two trusted options:

Option 1 – raw pesto from Free Food

Made with extra virgin olive oil, filtered water, basil, almonds, garlic, lemon juice and kalahari salt; this is a gluten-free, dairy-free, additive and stabilizer free pesto. If you eat dairy then you can just your own parmesan as so desired.  Free Food has a small restaurant and deli just off Corlett Drive where you can find deli items, frozen meals, soups, salads, gluten-free pasta, vegan burgers, gluten-free pizza bases/wraps and so much more (including the odd dessert). The menu changes every 2 weeks but you can always find the pesto and other great things in the deli section. Free Food is gluten/what, dairy, sugar, preservative and animal free. Many more postings on this shop to come!

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Photos originally from freefood.co.za

Visit http://www.freefood.co.za for more or visit them at the corner of Corlett Drive and Delta Street (opposite BMW).

Option 2 – make it yourself!

I was recently watching Siba’s Table (starring Siba Mtongana) on the Home Channel and she made a chicken pesto penne dish, and I was inspired by this to make my own pesto as well.

Find the original recipe here at http://www.foodnetwork.co.za.

For the pesto:

  • 200g fresh basil
  • 2 cloves garlic crushed
  • Salt and freshly ground pepper
  • 100g pine nuts, toasted
  • 100g Parmesan cheese, grated
  • 1 green chilli, deseeded
  • 160ml olive oil
  • Parmesan shavings, to serve
  • Fresh basil, to serve

1. To make the pesto: place the pesto ingredients in a food processor, except for the olive oil. Blend until smooth and well combined. Add the oil in a thread like motioning until you have a thick pesto.

2. Transfer to a sterilized jar and cover with a layer of oil to seal. Store in the fridge until needed.

How simple is that? I do not add the chilli myself not being a lover of spicy food so that is up to you.

With both these options I know exactly where the products have come from and what the ingredients are, which for me, is the most important thing… and they taste pretty good as well!

 

Gluten-free chocolate truffle torte

I have experimented with quite a few gluten-free chocolate tortes/cakes and I am going to share all of them as they are genuinely all fab! Some are completely grain and nut free, some use almond flour and for others I substitute gluten-free biscuits to make a base. This weekend I made a gluten-free torte to take to the Vaal (and yes a little chilly in winter, this is when Ugg boots do come in rather handy) so no baking required in this instance, just a little whizzing and melting really.

This is decadent (as most of my desserts seem to be) and not for the faint-chocolate hearted but I only create these desserts for special occasions or dinner parties. I believe in everything in moderation. I do eat a very strict healthy diet 99.9% of the time so every now and then it’s time to kick off the shoes and have some chocolate!

I found this recipe in and old issue of Food and Home magazine (September 2007 to be exact).

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Ingredients

Base

350g biscotti (replace with gluten free option)

150g butter, melted

5ml ground allspice

Filling

250ml fresh cream

500g 70% dark chocolate, finely chopped

Strawberries

250g strawberries

30ml castor sugar

(25ml vermouth per slice – I did not do this step)

To make the base, grind the biscotti/biscuits to coarse crumbs and mix in the butter and allspice. Pat the mixture into a loose bottom tart tin (or cake tin works just as well) and set aside.

For the filling, heat the cream until it comes to a simmer then remove from the heat and pour over the chocolate pieces.

Stir until the chocolate has melted. Allow to cool for 5 minutes before tipping into the tart tin and letting it set in the fridge overnight.

For the strawberries, wash, trim and quarter them. Sprinkle the castor sugar over the mixture and set aside in order for the fruit juices to be released, at least 20 minutes.

To serve, cut the tart into slices and serve with the strawberries. (Serve with a shot of vermouth to be poured over by the quests).

I found it best to take the torte out of the fridge 20 minutes or so before serving to make it easier to slice. One can easily skip the castor sugar and just serve with plain strawberries. In this instance for the biscuit base I used gullón gluten-free cookies with chocolate chips. Manufactured in Spain, these biscuits are also egg and nut free, contain no sugar and use only high oleic sunflower oil. Each biscuit contains 104kj/25kcal.

Ode to the cauliflower

The simple cauliflower has it seems been elevated to super hero status by Tim Noakes and his “Real Meal Revolution”. I have been making cauliflower rice and mash for quite a while now (yes way before Tim Noakes made Banting famous) after hearing and reading about the Paleo diet. This diet is based on the premise that we should eat as our caveman ancestors did and gave me inspiration for recipes and options to eat as a coeliac. With a no grain approach the diet gives great ideas on how to use coconut and almond flour and the humble cauliflower. I am limited to potatoes and rice at the moment as my carbs so I try to find other ingredients that can provide more nutrition and less high GI options on a daily basis.

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I do not follow the Paleo diet specifically as they avoid legumes and dairy and focus on a higher fat diet; I just adapt some of the recipes.  A similar diet is the Primal Diet (visit marksdailyapple.com for more), though in this case dairy can be included. Either way, great inspiration can be found!

Next on my list this week was cauliflower wraps made by Calorie Conscious, available on their website or at Jacksons Real Food Market at the Riverside Shopping Centre in Bryanston. I was at Jacksons early to purchase my wraps (5 for R111) but I have to admit I was not bowled over by the texture,but I think maybe the microwave was not a good idea and the oven might be better option to warm them! Made from cauliflower, psyllium husk, eggs and Himalayan rock salt it all sounds good as a gluten-free option. Jacksons also makes their own “Banting” cauliflower mash and rice. I did buy the cauliflower rice (and yes it tastes very nice) but with the butter and coconut oil they add, I will stick to making this myself and not have the additional fat.

Cauliflower is low in fat, cholesterol free, is a rich source of minerals and vitamin C so give this humble veg a place at your table. Next recipe to tackle…cauliflower hummus!

Gluten-free almond and banana muffins

One of my favourite things to bake for the weekend is gluten-free banana muffins made from almond flour. I can probably make these with my eyes closed, so when it came to actually type up the recipe I realized that I have no idea where I first saw it. So I searched and searched and finally I found it. I like to give credit where credit is due! Click on this link to northdenvernutritiontherapy.com for the original recipe.

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Makes 12 full size muffins

Ingredients

  • 3 ripe bananas mashed
  • 2 cups almond flour
  • 3 eggs
  • 1 tablespoon vanilla extract
  • 1 tablespoon honey
  • ¼ cup oil
  • ½ teaspoon sea salt
  • 1 teaspoon baking soda

Directions

  1. Mix bananas, eggs, vanilla, honey and oil together.
  2. In a separate bowl mix almond flour, salt and baking soda.
  3. Slowly add dry ingredients to the banana mixture.
  4. Scoop batter into a lined muffin tins
  5. Bake at 180° for 15-20 minutes (or until a toothpick comes out clean )
  6. Remove from oven and let cool

I have read similar recipes where they suggest using a food processor for the mixing. I rather enjoy mashing bananas, but if you prefer not to get your hands dirty and do not have a processor, place the bananas in a zip lock bag and smash away. The key here is to have ripe bananas. I have tried a version where I substituted the oil with apple sauce/puree and that worked just as well. I am tempted to throw on some kind of frosting to make this a little more tea-time and less breakfast but so far have resisted the urge – think adapting this to carrot muffins will then give me “permission” to add a cream cheese frosting – hmm stay tuned!

Gluten-free pasta faves

I am a person who enjoys shopping for food. I will go to the largest Pick ‘n Pay or Woolworths, start one end of the store and make my way up and down every aisle (bakery section excluded!). Despite the fact that in reality I can buy very few products I am always on the lookout – you never know when a gluten-free something will pop up in some odd place (as does seem to happen).

Dischem is another story as their gluten-free range has grown and grown. With the opening of the new store in Rosebank last week I was thrilled – Dischem round the corner. But once there I was a little disappointed with the size of the gluten-free section – the new store in Cresta has a much larger range which kept me occupied for rather a long time. Rosebank, not so much.

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So, from the aisles of Dischem, let me introduce two gluten-free ranges that I trust. Up until a year or two ago, I used to only eat gluten-free pasta by Schar – the European market leader. Their headquarters are based in Italy – a country where children are screened for coeliac disease by the age of six. I trust them 100% and although we do not have all their products in South Africa, there is a good range of breads, pasta, biscuits etc. Schar products are imported by Master Health Products – visit their website for a full list of stockists .

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Then in my quest for a gluten-free AND corn free pasta option I discovered my present favourite Glutagon. Glutagon is a locally manufactured product, their range including pasta, flours and pre-mixes for cakes, muffins etc. The pasta does include egg which may be an issue for some, but for me from a flour/grain perspective just rice makes my life a lot easier!

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Another range that I have previously used for a while is Orgran – an Australian range and products are gluten, wheat, dairy, egg and yeast free. They also make pasta, cereals and crisp bread from multi-grains using quinoa, amaranth, millet and buckwheat. If you can tolerate these grains then they have a much better nutritional value than just rice and corn. I read recently that Barilla, one of the world’s largest pasta producers; have launched gluten-free pasta in the USA and Australia to compliment their range of pasta sauces which are also gluten-free… hmm interesting. Not sure if we will see that range here as the demand for gluten-free products is not yet as high in South Africa as in these countries, but I will keep my eyes peeled!

Over and above these ranges mentioned I do stay away from any other locally manufactured pastas. I am tired of seeing the small writing “not suitable for coeliacs”, but apart from that I am not convinced a) that the labeling is 100% accurate and displaying all that I need to know and b) that many of these products are not being produced in a gluten-free environment so cross-contamination is a concern. And although I have never really eaten “normal pasta” sometimes, even to me, these products don’t exactly taste great either!

 

The first dessert I ever made – chocolate pots

The first time I was searching for an idea to serve for dessert I was a little panicked, not 100% sure what I could do that would suit my gluten-free restrictions but also be a knock out! I found Jamie Oliver’s chocolate pots and even now I have friends who specifically request that I make them!

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So than you to Mr. Oliver for providing a winning option with no need to try to amend the recipe or switch out ingredients.

Recipe serves 4 – find the original here on jamieoliver.com

285 ml single cream

200 grams chocolate – 70% cocoa

2 large egg yolks

3 tablespoons brandy (I am more of a Frangelico girl myself)

20 grams butter

Directions

In a thick-bottomed pan heat the cream until nearly boiling.

Remove and set aside for one minute. Snap in the chocolate and stir until melted and smooth.

Beat in your egg yolks and brandy and stir until smooth.

Allow to cool slightly before stirring in the butter until the mixture is smooth (I add the butter in small pieces to make it easier for it to melt).

Pour into individual serving pots.

PS Although I have never had this problem, sometimes if you add the butter when the chocolate is not cool enough it will make the chocolate look as if it has been split. To rectify this, allow the mixture to cool a little longer before whisking in a little cold milk until you have a smooth consistency again.

To make into a lighter mousse, add 2 stiffly beaten egg whites before pouring into the cups.

Make these the day before and leave in the fridge to chill.

I serve this in espresso cups, and although this is a rich dessert I have been known to double up the quantities and serve in larger cups/glasses – the chocolate lovers will be thrilled!

This really is a wonderful dessert to serve, the only thing to look out for is the chocolate you use and make sure that under the ingredients it does not state “may contain gluten” as that is not a chocolate you can trust! Also if you want to switch out the brandy, of course no whiskey and be aware of any flavoured vodka or other flavoured liquor as gluten can be present.

Girl wants cake!

So it’s Friday afternoon and I feel the need for a cup of tea and a piece of cake or maybe a brownie. This does not happen often but when it does I need to act! Not the easiest thing to track down after lunch, a gluten-free brownie, and due to some current food issues it also needs to be corn and seed free. I like to give myself a challenge.  But never fear the brownie was found and life carried on. I made a quick trip to the Fresh Earth food store in Emmarentia where I quickly had in my sticky hands a chocolate brownie (and maybe an almond square as well) meeting all the food exclusion requirements.  Happy days.

So yes you can have your cake and eat it too!  And I may have grabbed a little bar of vanilla chickpea fudge on the way out – never had this before and bizarrely it tasted like peanut butter (which cannot be a bad thing really).  Made with chickpeas, fresh vanilla and raw organic sugar I nibbled on this for the rest of the weekend – a rather nice smooth and creamy sweet treat!

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I was actually not alone on the Friday mission – a work colleague (let’s hear it for Natalie)was on the hunt for Life Bake Grain Free Toast  – not for those who cannot eat seeds as the ingredients read linseed, sunflower seeds, pumpkin seeds, water, psyllium husk and sea salt. But for those seeking paleo options she judged this to be delicious – that said always read the small type as “not suitable for celiacs”.

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If you have never been to Fresh Earth they have all kinds of dried and fresh food ( gluten-free, vegetarian, preservative free etc), supplements and vitamins as well as a vegetarian café serving gluten-free and  vegan menu choices   – burgers, wraps, gluten-free pizzas, sandwiches and more… plus a nice range of freshly baked cakes, biscuits and the ever important brownie.  Visit the store at 103 Komatie Road, Emmarantia, Johannesburg.

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