Recipe of the Week: Doves Farm Gluten Free Pizza

Yummy gluten-free pizza. NOM.

The thing I hate most about not being able to eat wheat is that I can’t just pick up the phone to Domino’s and be delivered a huge, melty, cheesy, doughy pizza. Not without it making me rather ill, anyway. When my boyfriend treated himself to Pizza Hut last night, it looked and smelt SO GOOD that I decided to have a go at making my own version this weekend. Whilst watching the latest episode of Glee and having a glass of wine, naturally.

I’ve tried to make gluten-free pizza dough before with various “quick ‘n’ easy” no-yeast recipes that don’t involve waiting for the dough to rise (I’m a very impatient baker/eater), but I haven’t yet found one that works that well. This time I decided to start dinner before I got mega-hungry, do it the “proper” way and follow the Doves Farm recipe on the back of the flour packet.

This recipe is for a veggie topping, but I don’t believe in pizza without pepperoni so I loaded mine up with that plus mushrooms, sweetcorn and grated mozzarella. For the tomato sauce base, I just spread with tomato purée then seasoned with salt, pepper, basil and oregano. Before going in the oven, I gave it a good sprinkle of Worcestershire sauce. Scrummy.

I decided to split the cooking times 50/50 (20 minutes for the base, then 20 minutes with the topping on) because I was worried about the base not cooking all the way through – a common problem with gluten-free baking as the dough doesn’t rise in the same way as wheat-based dough – or the cheese burning. It’s in the oven as I write this, so fingers crossed…

Served up with rocket, spinach and watercress salad.

The verdict? Pretty good actually. The dough cooked nicely all the way through and had that light, cakey kind of texture that you always get from rice flours. It’s not the perfect substitute for a take-away, but it certainly did the job of fulfilling my pizza craving. I’ll definitely be using this recipe again as it was an absolute doddle to make and relatively speedy. Plus, it made SO much pizza that I have ¾ left to eat cold tomorrow! Result. Although…. maybe I’ll just have one more slice..

NOTE: Just realised the ingredients on the packet of flour are slightly different to the one on the website, though the method is the same. Here are the measurements I used:

450g Doves Farm White Bread Flour
½ tsp Salt
2tsp Quick yeast
2tbsp Sugar
325ml Warm milk
1tsp Vinegar
2 Eggs
6tbsp Oil

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Recipe of the Week: BBC GoodFood’s No-Fuss Shepherd’s Pie

My gorgeous, golden-brown masterpiece

Everyone loves a great Shepherd’s Pie. It has GOT to be one of the most comforting, hearty, English dishes around. After experimenting with various twists on Shepherd’s pie such as topping it with cheesy mustard mash, using half potato/half sweet potato mash, adding baked beans, making it with veggie mince or adding mint to bring out the flavour of the lamb, I decided to find a recipe that took the humble Shepherd’s Pie right back to it’s roots. Ta-da! Here it is.

The BBC GoodFood website is often a saviour of mine when I have absolutely no clue what to make for dinner. So I tapped in Shepherd’s Pie and after wading through a number of recipes with various  ‘twists’, I settled on this No-fuss shepherd’s pie. Without a baked bean, handful of grated cheese or spoonful of mustard in sight, this recipe is remarkably simple and totally delicious. Crucially, it contains the most magical of ingredients that no pie, ratatouille, bolognese or chilli con carne can be without: a massive glug of Worcestershire sauce.

Just add some peas and Bisto Best... Nom nom nom

When cooked, it just remains to add some Bisto Best Lamb Gravy (which is gluten-free), some peas on the side and a big glass of red wine to accompany it to make this one of my favourite home-cooked meals. Lovely.

Qype: COOK in Brighton

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Cook describes itself as “the alternative to home cooking” and I completely agree. This is WAY better than home cooking: amazingly flavoured dishes, no preparation, no washing up, no fiddling around with complicated recipes trying to get them right. As much as I love cooking, sometimes it’s just far too much effort after a long day at work. Cook, halfway between a (very high class) ready meal and a takeaway, seems like the perfect solution.

Every season, Cook publish “The Cook Book” which is a beautifully presented menu of all the dishes they have on offer: traditional English dishes, curries, party food, puddings, immense-looking salads… all looking to incredibly delicious you’ll want to eat everything. In one go.

We popped in here yesterday and sampled their ‘daily taster’ Chicken Laksa, an amazing Thai-style lemony, coconutty, creamy curry, which was so completely delicious that I can’t wait to go back and grab myself an entire portion. At £3.75 for a one-person portion and £6.75 for a two-person sized meal, this offers way better value (and much better taste) than your average takeaway and is also far healthier and tastier. A massive double portion of rice to go with it will only set you back £1.95.

Another great thing about this place is that all the dishes are clearly labelled with a ‘V’ for vegetarian or a ‘GF’ for gluten-free. The shop assistant was also incredibly helpful, she even printed off a list for me of all the gluten-free meals on offer.

If you love delicious food but don’t have the time to put in the required effort at home, then this place may well be a life-saver.

Check out my review of COOK – I am Alice_Reeves – on Qype

Recipe of the Week: Jamie Oliver’s Gluten-Free & Egg-Free Beef Burgers

NOTE: this recipe isn’t one of Mr Oliver’s (as I first thought), but posted on a members’ forum on Jamie’s website. Doesn’t make them any less delicious though, as I’m sure you’ll agree. View the original recipe here.

Being wheat intolerant, it’s not often I get the luxury of having a burger. I’ve perused supermarket freezer sections, meat sections and deli counters feeling increasingly dismayed as every pack of delicious-looking burgers I pick up contains the dreaded ingredient: ‘wheat rusk’. Even the butchers seem to use breadcrumb and egg to bind their burgers together. My longing eventually got so bad it reached the point where I was looking wistfully through the window of Burger King feeling sorry for myself every time I walked past. Don’t even mention that incredible smelling burger van that sits outside Churchill Square shopping centre… Sigh.

The most immense burgers ever. Probably.

The most immense burgers ever. Probably.

So, as the sunny springtime weather has finally come to Brighton and barbecuing season is almost upon us, I felt that something had to be done: enter Mr. Jamie Oliver. Thank you very much Sir, you have created the most perfect gluten-free burger I could imagine. Teaming this recipe up with Sainsbury’s Freefrom White Rolls (£1.66 for 4) along with ketchup, mustard, gherkins and sliced Jarlsberg cheese I think I may well have created the most immense hamburger ever. Go on, be jealous.

Jamie’s burger recipe includes bacon, onion, Dijon mustard and uses cornflour to hold it all together – they’re incredibly easy to make and this recipe makes about ten bun-sized burgers (which, of course, we absolutely didn’t devour between two of us… ahem). Most importantly they taste absolutely gorgeous – far superior to that cheap supermarket rubbish anyway. So there.

Barbecuing burgers: the best smell ever

Of course, the best way to cook any burger is on the barbecue, so we made the most of the Easter Bank Holiday sunshine and fired up our brand-spanking new bucket BBQ from B&Q (which I am totally in love with). I’m now totally prepared for a summer of barbecuing, safe in the knowledge that I’m armed with the best gluten-free burgers around.

Recipe of the Week: Harry Eastwood’s Cinnamon Banana Bread

Harry Eastwood's Cinnamon Banana Bread. Batch #10 or 11... or maybe 12?

Harry's Cinnamon Banana Bread Batch #10 or 11... or maybe 12?

Yes I know, two Harry Eastwood recipes in a row, but I just cannot get enough of this woman at the moment. When I got her book Red Velvet & Chocolate Heartache last Christmas, the Cinnamon Banana Bread (p. 97) was the first recipe I tried. Since then, I’ve made it about ten times and my latest batch (above) was definitely the best one yet.

Absolutely packed with bananas, nuts and courgettes, it sounds ridiculously healthy for a cake and quite honestly far too good to be true. A cake that’s full of slow energy release foods that keeps you FULL UP? Damn right. This cake makes an absolutely brilliant morning snack, satisfying (and quashing) my regular-as-clockwork 11am sugar cravings. I can’t think of anything that goes better with my cuppa.

Harry’s book is an absolute must for anyone who loves cake (which is just about everyone, right?) She has perfected the art of the light, moist texture and the best thing is that they can be enjoyed by anyone as they’re entirely wheat-free. In her own words: “I have tested all the recipes in this book using white rice flower as well as plain flour. This is partly because I like its lightness of texture, but also because I didn’t want those with wheat intolerances to miss out on the fun.”

Isn’t that nice of her? Now, if only more catering establishments thought that way…

Recipe of the Week: Harry Eastwood’s Lemon, Sunflower Seed & Blueberry Muffins

My muffin and my cup of tea. Lovely.

I cannot describe how delighted I was to receive Harry Eastwood’s Red Velvet & Chocolate Heartache last Christmas. After developing a severe intolerance to wheat and gluten, cakes were something that were suddenly closed off to me. No more would I enjoy a Starbuck’s muffin with a vanilla latte or a belgian bun with a cup of tea. This made me very, very sad.

Until that is, I discovered this book and placed it firmly at the top of my Christmas list because pretty much every recipe in it is entirely gluten-free. I’m not the most experimental or experienced baker, so working my way (very slowly) through this book has been somewhat of a revelation. The premise is simple: cakes don’t have to be once in a while treats to be enjoyed amidst feelings of guilt. They can actually be good for you. No, I’m not joking. Take the muffins for example: the nutritional info for your average muffin puts the calorie content at around 380 calories (way more if they contain chocolate), whereas the ones in this book range from around 180-260. That’s a saving of more than a large glass of wine! Brilliant.

Some more of batch number three...

Anyway, my favourite recipe so far (I have a long way to go to do the whole book) has got to be these Lemon, Sunflower Seed and Blueberry Muffins (p. 96). Harry (of Cook Yourself Thin fame) has taken the humble blueberry muffin, a favourite coffee-shop breakfast snack and totally revamped it. The lemon taste comes through with an unexpected strength, which adds a surprising twist when you bite into one for the first time. The secret “alternative” ingredient? Well, all the cakes contain vegetables. Yes, vegetables. A mound of grated courgette in this case. Combined with the use of wonderfully light rice flour (which Harry says is actually far better for making cakes with than wheat flour), the use of vegetables means that these cakes stay incredibly moist for days. I normally do a batch of muffins or a big cake at the weekend which still taste delicious at the end of the next week.

This recipe can be a little fiddly in places (I absolutely hate grating lemon zest) and I had to invest in an electric whisk for fear of developing repetitive strain injury from all the whisking, but it is SO worth it, trust me. Now, all this writing about it has made me want to go and make my fourth batch…

Happy muffin-eating!

Recipe of the Week: BBC GoodFood’s gluten-free sun dried tomato bread

Batch No.2 - my house now smells good enough to eat!

If you suffer from gluten intolerance or allergy, then you’ll know just how difficult (and how blimmin’ expensive) it is to find a half-decent loaf of bread. Even though I adore baking cakes, the thought of kneading dough and leaving it to rise for hours is something I just don’t have the time (or inclination) to do – so I usually end up nipping down to Infinity Foods in Brighton for their freshly-baked gluten-free loaf if I need a quick carbohydrate fix.

But lo and behold! Imagine my delight when my boyfriend found this absolute GEM of a recipe on the BBC GoodFood website… a bread that is so super quick to make it left me thinking I couldn’t possibly have done it properly. In fact, this bread is so simple it’s probably harder to get it wrong than to get it right. Just mix the dry ingredients together, whisk the wet ones in a separate bowl, fold them together, whack in a handful of sun-dried tomatoes and parmesan and Bob is actually your Uncle. It’s that easy. No kneading, no rising, no waiting. I made it for the first time yesterday and my second batch is already in the oven to take along to my Book Group this evening to wow my girly friends with my immense baking skills. YUM.