Last time, I talked about how going gluten-free was a real emotional rollercoaster which I hadn’t been expecting. It’s also been a massive learning experience, not only about protecting myself when I attempt to eat out of the safety of my own kitchen, but also about myself as a person.

I’ve learnt that my taste in food is not quite as catholic as I originally thought. I used to love nearly everything. I could enumerate on one hand what I didn’t like…peanut butter, tripe, parsnips… I love the foods that are commonly hated… anchovies, olives, capers, Marmite, pork scratchings… I love different cuisines from all over the world and I love new flavours. In my pre-glutenfreebie days, eating in a restaurant was problematic only in that I could never decide what to have because I could have happily chomped my way through the whole menu. (Of course nowadays, I feel blessed if I have two things to choose from… )

Since going gluten-free, I’ve explored alternative carbohydrate sources, such as quinoa, millet, buckwheat groats, chickpea flour… and, guess what? I hate them all (quinoa to a lesser extent, but still). I’ve made tabbouli with both quinoa and millet, a farinata with chickpea flour and a pilaf with buckwheat. I’d had high hopes for buckwheat as I love it when mixed with other flours in crêpes and blinis but I couldn’t wait for the meal to be over. Unusual for me.

My palate for carbohydrates seems to be fixed to those that I’ve grown up with: wheat, rice, potatoes and, to a lesser extent, corn. I can only think that this is because the carbohydrate part of the meal is the neutral foil to the rest of the meal which is where all the action, flavourwise, is. These carbohydrates clearly do have their own flavour but I am accustomed to them. The flavour of these new ones are strong to my palate and I find them intrusive and cloying. It never fails to amuse me that the packaging always proclaims their flavour to be ‘nutty’. I love nuts (apart from peanuts) but I’ve come to learn that this is used in much the same way that ‘like chicken’ is probably used to describe all manner of meats, such as rabbit, frog, snake, squirrel, alligator…, i.e. the closest thing but actually nothing like it (I may be generalising wildly here – my only authority is that rabbit tastes nothing like chicken to me…!)

So, that’s my rather lengthy analysis of why I don’t seem to like these new grains. Or maybe I am just picky after all…

Gluten-free breakfast blinis with smoked salmon, poached eggs and rocket (arugula)

Ideally, you need three large frying pans or sauté pans for this so that everything can be cooked at the same time. If you only have two, I would suggest making the blinis first and keeping them warm while the eggs are poaching. I wouldn’t suggest poaching the eggs first in case they overcook. I always use Delia’s method for poaching eggs. It’s completely foolproof and results in perfect poached eggs every time. It also allows you ten minutes to get on with other stuff instead of fussing over them, worrying that they’re overcooking, but it’s imperative you use a timer.

Serves 3

For the blinis:
70g buckwheat flour
70g gluten-free plain (all-purpose) flour
½ tsp fast-action dried yeast
½ tsp gluten-free baking powder
½ tsp xanthan gum
¼ tsp caster sugar
215ml milk
5g butter
1 egg, separated
butter or butter substitute for shallow frying

To serve:
6 slices smoked salmon
6 eggs
a few handfuls rocket (arugula)

You will also need at least 2 large frying pans or 1 large frying pan and 1 large sauté pan and a timer.

Sift the dry ingredients into a large mixing bowl. In a microwaveable jug, microwave the milk and butter for about 30 seconds or so, until the milk is warm and the butter has melted. Make a well in the centre of the dry ingredients. Put the egg yolk in the well and cover over with a little of the flour to protect it from the warm milk. Pour the milk and melted butter mixture in the well and, using a balloon whisk, draw the dry ingredients into the wet with circular motions, until you have a thick, smooth batter. In a separate bowl, whisk the egg white with an electric hand whisk until it reaches the stiff peak stage.

Pour a kettleful of boiling water into a large sauté pan. When the water has just come back up to the boil, add the eggs, one at a time. Simmer the eggs for one minute exactly. As soon as the minute is up, turn the heat off and allow the eggs to sit in the hot water for exactly ten minutes. Drain each egg on a slotted spoon over a wad of kitchen roll before putting on a warm plate.

As soon as the eggs have started their ten-minute poach, carefully fold the whisked egg white into the blini batter. In a large frying pan, melt a few knobs of butter or butter substitute over a low heat. When the butter is foaming, add a third of the batter and shape with a spoon or palette knife into a pancake that is about 10cm in diameter and 2cm in depth. Repeat with the remaining two-thirds of the batter so that you have 3 blinis. Cook each blini for 3-4 minutes on both sides, until they are golden and crisp on the outside and they feel firm when gently pressed.

Remove from the pan and top with two slices of smoked salmon each, two poached eggs and garnish with the rocket (arugula).