Archives for posts with tag: cheese

Another naturally gluten-free recipe, featuring my all-time favourite carb: potato! I stumbled across this recipe in my Good Housekeeping World Cookery book which I inherited from my husband’s father. I’ve talked before of my kitchen library and my love of the forgotten, the old and the obscure: books which I’ve either inherited, adopted, rescued or acquired under rather murky circumstances. I can flick through these books endlessly and I always seem to find something new in them.

Like this recipe for pan haggerty in the British Isles section of the book. Which surprises me as it was originally entitled “Northumberland Pan Haggerty”. I have spoken before of my ancestry on my maternal grandmother’s side, which is Cornish through and through, and my fondness for the cuisine of that region (aah, pasties…!, spoken in a Homer-esque kind of way).

But I haven’t spoken of that on my father’s, which is as northern as it gets, hailing from both Northumberland and Scotland. I was lucky enough to go up to Alnwick a few years ago to explore the town and nearby villages of Bolton and Edlingham, where my great-great-grandfather grew up in the blacksmith’s forge. If you’ve never visited Northumberland, I urge you to go. It is stunningly beautiful and has everything you could wish for: beaches to die for, ruined castles, and sweeping and craggy moorland which gives way to the most idyllic and bucolic of landscapes. The gardens at Alnwick Castle are also some of the best I’ve ever seen. It’s a shame I live so far away. Sigh.

Anyway, I’ve dispensed with the “Northumberland” bit for three reasons. Firstly, I haven’t made it on the stove in a frying pan, as the recipe directed, but slapped it in the oven, as is my wont; secondly, I don’t know what cheese it would have had in it originally but I’d put money on the fact that it wasn’t emmental; and, thirdly, even without the emmental, I remain suspicious about its authenticity, having also read the book’s section on Italian cookery…

Naturally gluten-free pan haggerty with emmental cheese

Slices of crisp then tender potatoes, layered with sweet onions and oozing cheese. Comfort food that can be eaten either as a side-dish or as a light lunch with a salad. The variations are endless: add grilled bacon, wilted spinach or fried mushrooms to the layers…or all three!

700g (peeled weight) potatoes
1 very large, or 2 medium, onions, peeled
150g emmental cheese (I used ready-sliced emmental which works out as 6 slices at 25g each)
50g butter
salt and pepper

You will also need a buttered non-stick baking tin, measuring approximately 24cm x 20cm x 4cm.

Preheat the oven to its hottest setting. Slice the peeled potatoes into 2mm slices and place in a pan of cold water. Slice the onions into 2mm slices. Drain the potatoes and rinse once or twice more in cold water until the water is clear. Drain, place the slices on a dry tea towel and pat dry.

Place a third of the potato slices in a layer on the bottom of the buttered baking tin. Season with salt and pepper and lay three slices of emmental over the top. Spread half of the onion slices in a layer over the top of the cheese, then repeat with the next third of potato slices. Season well with salt and pepper and dot with half the butter. Lay the final three slices of emmental over the top, then the remaining onions and finish with the final third of potato slices. Season well with salt and pepper and dot with the remaining butter.

Bake in the oven for 1 – 1 1/4 hours or until the top is golden and the potato feels tender to the point of a sharp knife.

Serve as a side dish with grilled or roasted meat or as the star of the show, with a green side salad.

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I’ve already talked about how the smells of food and cooking are very evocative to me of particular people, places and things. What has come as a shock to me this morning, is that they are also very evocative of more nebulous concepts and ideas that are probably the accumulation of many different, and hitherto forgotten, experiences.

This recipe calls for oven-baked potatoes and there are two ways of doing them: the long, but less labour-intensive and arguably much more expensive, way of chucking them straight in the oven and leaving them for about an hour or the much quicker way of nuking them for a few minutes in the microwave to get the lion’s share of the cooking done, before chucking them in the oven for about 20 minutes to crisp the skin.

I must admit that I usually fall back on the latter method because either I’m incredibly disorganised and don’t get the oven heated up in time or I decide, far too late, that a jacket potato is what I want. Today, though, I decided to do it the more traditional way: I wanted to go to the supermarket and it was far easier to chuck them in the oven, put the timer on and forget about them.

And forget about them I did…that is, until I was struggling in through the front door, and out of the driving rain, with four groaning carrier bags (I’d only gone out for a chicken and a newspaper!) All I can say is that I was engulfed in the most warming bear-hug of an aroma that I have ever experienced. I suddenly felt all festive and as though the house should be full of family and their chatter and laughter, ready to sit down around the table to eat, drink and be merry. When I realised that it is, in fact, still three months until Christmas, I felt quite disappointed and impatient! The holiday spirit does seem to be kicking in earlier and earlier with me and the only thing I can put it down to is that, for the last two years, I’ve been a mum and I seem to be recapturing and reliving my childhood with my son.

All of this from the smell of a baking potato. Who’d have thunk it?!

Gluten-free Welsh rarebit loaded potato skins

There’s nothing like toasted cheese to warm you up on a chilly Autumn day. My recipe makes for quite a creamy centre – if you prefer yours a bit more solid, cut down on the quantity of ale – I’d say, probably to 190-200ml.

Makes 6

3 medium baking potatoes, washed and dried
220ml gluten-free ale (I used Green’s Golden Ale)
30g gluten-free plain (all-purpose) flour
30g butter
150g mature Cheddar, grated + a little extra for sprinkling
2 tsp English mustard powder*, made up with 2 tsp water
1 tbsp gluten-free Worcestershire sauce (I used Life Free From, which is also fish-free and, therefore, vegetarian)

Preheat the oven to 180°C (mine is fan-assisted, so adjust accordingly). Prick the potatoes all over with the tip of a sharp knife and place directly on the oven shelf. Bake for approximately 1 hour and 15 minutes, or until the skins are brown and crispy and the flesh within appears to have shrunken away slightly. Remove the potatoes from the oven and allow to cool slightly.

While the potatoes are cooling, make the Welsh rarebit sauce: place the gluten-free ale into a small saucepan and bring up to a gentle boil**. Meanwhile, place the flour and butter into another small saucepan and place over a gentle heat. Stir with a whisk until the butter has melted and the flour has become incorporated to make a roux: you’re looking for the consistency and colour of lemon curd. Allow to bubble away for about 30 seconds or so, still stirring. Now pour the hot ale into the roux, whisking all the time, to create a thick, golden-brown sauce. Add the grated cheddar and whisk to combine. Finally add the mustard and Worcestershire sauce, stir to incorporate and take off the heat.

Carefully, using a tea towel to protect your hand if necessary, slice each potato in half horizontally. Using a spoon, scoop out the soft insides and put in a bowl. Place the potato skins, cut side up, in a cake tin or on a baking tray. Roughly mash the scooped-out potato and stir into the Welsh rarebit sauce. Pile the potato and cheese mixture into the potato skins and sprinkle with grated Cheddar. Return to the oven and bake for 15-20 minutes, or until the tops are golden-brown and the cheese is bubbling.

* Make sure you use English mustard powder and NOT ready-made English mustard. The former is just mustard powder, whereas the latter is produced using wheat flour.

** The hot liquid going into the hot roux should ensure a lump-free sauce.

I feel like I’ve been working incessantly on the blog for the last two weeks and yet have had nothing to post on it! This has been a mixture of disasters learning experiences – Cornish fried ravioli (let’s not even go there!) – AND preparing for my next guest blog at LiveGlutenFree, which should be going live sometime at the end of next week (here’s my last one!), AND developing my contribution for the upcoming Gluten-Free Recipe Challenge hosted by Caleigh over at GlutenFree[k] (here’s my last one!).

Both of these have not been without their problems. My first effort for LiveGlutenFree was a gluten-free version of ‘le pounti’, a speciality of the Auvergne in France, which I can best describe as a cross-between a crustless quiche and a savoury clafoutis: it’s made with smoked bacon (or lardons), ham, onion and Swiss chard or spinach, mixed with a batter and baked in the oven. Sounds pretty good so far, I hear you say.

On paper, it was a winner. In reality, it was horrible. The batter had a rather unpleasant soapy texture and there was a noxious reek and aftertaste of still-raw spinach. My husband and I stoically munched our way through our portions and I even managed to sneak a couple of spoonfuls into my toddler. When the meal was over, I wordlessly ushered the rest of it down the food waste disposal chute and we didn’t speak of it again… So, no ‘le pounti’ and it was back to the drawing-board… Do give the LiveGlutenFree blog a visit next week and see what I managed to come up with instead!

My travails with the gluten-free, egg-free, minty-licious recipe challenge, I will regale you with on Monday when I unveil my contribution…

Gluten-free gnocchi with bacon and artichokes

I made this dish last week with stuff from the fridge and a packet of ready-made gluten-free pasta, when I realised that the meat I had taken out of the freezer hadn’t defrosted in time. It was so good, I decided to do it again, but this time I thought I’d ring the changes by using gnocchi rather than pasta. The sauce is extremely reminiscent of ‘alla carbonara’ although I’m not sure if it’s even remotely authentic. Artichokes are my current favourite vegetable (high in prebiotics!) but, if you’re not keen, I think blanched asparagus spears would work just as well.

When gnocchi are done well, they are bee-yute-ee-full. When they’re not, they’re horrendous. In the years BGF, I used to buy them already made and found the taste of flour overpowering.  Homemade are soooo much better, and I think particularly so when they’re gluten-free and made with potato starch. They are the lightest and fluffiest gnocchi imaginable and the starch allows the unadulterated taste of the potato to shine through.

Lots of recipes I’ve seen are quite precious about the way in which you cook the potatoes: some bake the potatoes in the oven first and scoop the insides out and others boil the potatoes whole in their skins and peel them in a tea-towel when they’re cooked. These methods don’t sit well with me. They take ages, the oven going on is an added expense, I always manage to burn myself and there’s a mucky tea-towel to be washed . Basically, you need dry potatoes so I cut them small, boil them for a short time and allow them to steam dry in the colander. It still works and takes a fraction of the time and effort. You really do need to use a potato ricer or equivalent though so that you get lump-free mash. They’re not massively expensive and once you’ve eaten mash that’s been riced, you’ll never look back. If you’ve never seen a potato ricer, imagine a garlic crusher on steroids…

The consistency of the dough is really important. If it’s too wet, it will disintegrate in the water; too dry and you’ll end up with stodgy, glutinous cannonballs which will lodge in your throat and weigh heavy in your gut. So don’t be too cavalier with the flour – if you add too much, you’re faced with the unenviable choice of either boiling more potatoes to redress the balance or a post-prandial snack of a packet of Rennies.

Serves 2-3

500g floury potatoes (peeled weight – equivalent to 3 medium-large King Edward’s)
25g butter or butter substitute (I used a low-fat olive spread)
1 egg yolk
salt and pepper
115g Community Foods potato flour (potato starch)

125ml double cream or low-fat thick cream equivalent (I used WeightWatchers)
60ml milk
50g Parmesan or Grana Padano, grated finely
2 egg yolks, lightly beaten
1 tbsp olive oil
1 medium onion, chopped finely
1 clove garlic, minced or crushed
4 rashers of smoked back bacon, trimmed of fat and cut into pieces (I usually cut into 1 cm strips and then halve)
6 tinned artichoke hearts, drained and quartered

You will also need a potato ricer, mouli-légume or a sieve.

Cut the potatoes into 1-2cm pieces. Place in a large pan of cold water and bring to the boil. Boil for 10 minutes, until tender to the point of a knife, and then drain in a colander. Leave in the colander to dry for five minutes, shaking them once after a couple of minutes to enable steam to escape – you want the cut edges of the potato pieces to look floury and fluffy.  Don’t leave them any longer than this, as you need them to be warm in order to melt and absorb the butter and egg yolk.

Push the potatoes either through a potato ricer or a mouli-légume (or, at a pinch, through a sieve) into a large bowl. This will ensure the lightest, fluffiest gnocchi possible. I really wouldn’t recommend using a masher because it always seems to come out lumpy. Add the butter (or butter substitute) and the egg yolk. Season generously with salt and pepper and mix well to combine.

Now stir in about two-thirds of the potato starch. Using your hand, gently bring the mixture together, gradually adding more starch until you have a soft and silky dough. Tip the dough out onto the work surface and gently knead: you shouldn’t need to flour the surface – if you do, your dough is too wet and you need to add more starch.

Take a handful of the dough at a time and roll out gently into a snake about 1.5cm thick. Cut into pieces about 2.5 cm long and lay out on a plate. Continue until the dough has been used up. Cover with clingfilm and refrigerate whilst you make the sauce (or at least 15-20 minutes if you’re using a ready-made sauce).

Mix the cream, milk, grated cheese and egg yolks in a bowl or jug and season with pepper (you shouldn’t need any salt because of the cheese and bacon) and set aside.

Heat the olive oil in a large frying-pan (skillet) or sauté pan over a low flame. Add the chopped onion and cook gently for a couple of minutes. Add the garlic and continue to cook for another couple of minutes until the onions have softened and are translucent. Add the chopped bacon and continue to fry for another five or so minutes. Then add the quartered artichoke hearts to the pan and continue cooking until they are heated through.  Switch the heat off. (If you’re cooking this in advance, you can refrigerate this mix at this point until you need it).

Put a large pan of salted water on to boil. Take the gnocchi out of the refrigerator and gently press each one of them with the back of the prongs of a fork (I usually do them diagonally because I think they look better!). When the water has come up to the boil, cook the gnocchi in three batches. The gnocchi will sink to the bottom of the pan when they go in the water but they will gradually float to the surface. When they’re all merrily bobbing up and down on the surface, put the timer on for one minute. At the end of the minute, scoop them out, using a slotted spoon, into the bacon and artichoke mixture and continue with the next batch.

When all the gnocchi are cooked, turn the heat back on under the pan (a low flame again). Pour in the cream and egg mixture and stir gently until the gnocchi and bacon are piping hot and the sauce has thickened and is bubbling (about 5 minutes).

In my last post, I talked about the trials and tribulations of eating out when you’re on a gluten-free diet. At the weekend, when we’re out and about, we like stopping off in coffee shops for a decaffeinated cappuccino and a snack. In my pre-glutenfreebie days, I would join my husband in having a hot panino (I think that when the word panini was imported into English from the Italian it got transmogrified somewhere over the Appenines from the plural to the singular but I can’t bring myself to do that when all I can hear is the equivalent of “a sandwiches”. Call me pedantic…)

But I digress. I used to like having a panino but that avenue of gastronomic pleasure is now closed off to me. Whenever we go out now, we either go to Starbucks where I can have a sandwich made from Genius bread or to Costa Coffee where I can have a chocolate brownie. But neither is as satisfying as a piping-hot sandwich that is oozing with melting cheese of Vesuvian proportions. Gluten-free quesadillas are much easier to create at home than panini and they are big on the melted-cheese-satisfaction-factor. My gluten-free flatbread wrap recipe is perfect for them.

Gluten-free garlic and herb quesadillas with chorizo, artichokes and mozzarella

Makes 6

1 x garlic and herb flatbread wrap recipe
180g chorizo, sliced and quartered
8 tinned artichoke hearts, drained and roughly chopped
420g grated mozzarella *
olive oil

Make up the garlic and herb flatbread recipe up to the point where the dough is divided into six balls. Divide each ball into two, so that you’ve got 12 smaller balls, and wrap each one loosely in microwaveable clingfilm.  Place them on a microwaveable plate and warm in the microwave on ‘high’ for 10 seconds. Leave somewhere warm for 20-30 minutes, by which time each ball should have puffed up slightly.

Meanwhile, mix the chorizo, artichoke hearts and mozzarella in a bowl and put to one side. When you’re ready to cook the quesadillas, unwrap one of the balls and place it on a floured surface. Flatten it out with the heel of your hand into a thick circle. With a floured rolling pin, roll out the dough into a rough circle about 20cm in diameter. Put on a plate and repeat with the remaining balls (You can flatten out the clingfilm that was wrapping each ball of dough and put that in between the rolled-out wraps to prevent them from sticking to one another).

Heat a large, non-stick frying pan with a few drops of oil over a high heat. When the pan is hot, place one piece of the rolled-out dough in it (I find draping it over the rolling pin makes it easier) and toast one side only for a couple of minutes, or until the surface is browned and slightly blistered. Remove from the pan and set aside. Repeat with the next piece of rolled-out dough, but this time both sides will be toasted. As soon as it has been turned over to toast the second side, sprinkle one-sixth of the chorizo, artichoke and mozzarella mixture over the wrap and place the wrap that you cooked first, raw side uppermost over the top. Press down with a fish slice or spatula. After a minute or so, carefully turn the quesadilla over to toast the final side. Remove to a board and cut into quarters with either a very sharp knife or a pizza cutter. Repeat the process with the rest of the dough to create five more.

* Ready-grated mozzarella has often got an anti-caking agent added to it which is, sometimes, not gluten-free. I use Tesco’s own which is.

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