As it is Saturday, and we have time on our hands for a leisurely family breakfast, I decided to treat us all to a full English. When you think about it this is one of the easiest meals to make safe for a gluten and dairy intolerant person. For anyone who is not allergic to tomatoes, mushrooms and eggs you are halfway there already. Not everyone likes them for breakfast, but for some baked beans are a big part of the deal, so the Coeliacs out there probably just need to double check the ingredients in the sauce, before adding these too, as not all brands will be safe.
Most bacon should be safe, and there are some great gluten free, dairy free sausages readily available now. I have blogged about my findings in this area many times before. 1/ The Black Farmer 2/ More on Sausages 3/The Gluten Free Dairy Sausage
My husband and I love the Debbie & Andrews Harrogate 97% pork shoulder sausages.
They are more widely available, at the moment, than our other big favourite, The Black Farmer. Tesco have amazingly stopped stocking his sausages, but I sincerely hope they will bring them back, as Wilfred Emmanuel-Jones, who is The Black Farmer, works so hard to promote good, ethical, safe meat products and should be applauded for his efforts.
So the summer holidays are over and I have some time to myself again. Well, I have less small people in the house looking to be entertained, but even when they are not here, everything I do is for them. Last week, was the first full week back at school and after spending the first half of the week, just tidying and getting things straight again, I decided to give myself one day to revisit some recipes.
For some reason, I went into a bit of a cooking frenzy and ended up making chocolate chip cookies, a banana cake, a cottage pie and some bolognese sauce. I guess I was just in the mood. I was also aware of the fact I had very few ‘after school’ treats for the children – so rather than go to the supermarket, I decided to be virtuous and thrifty and make them myself. Zac is no lover of the shop bought free from cakes and biscuits, so I owed it to him, myself and this blog, to get out the baking gear and get stuck in.
I am happy to report that it was all very successful. The cookies were the most popular with the children, the banana loaf was most appreciated by the grown ups (my husband, mother in law, sister and myself). The dinners were good too. Although not devoured with the usual gusto. Cottage Pie is my husbands favourite meal and one I don’t cook so much anymore – because of Zac. So I thought he would be thrilled. But he had been for a few beers after work, so was feeling a bit ‘full’.
I hardly ever make Cottage Pie anymore. It is because of the mash. Zac doesn’t like it and won’t eat it. He used to like it, before we worked out his intolerances. So he hasn’t had it for a very long time. I have offered him the odd bit of roast potato mashed up with a fork – just as quick test, but he seems very wary of potato altogether. I don’t blame him. I think they ‘need’ butter. But that is not Zac’s issue with them. He doesn’t remember what butter tastes like. He just will not try anything new and is particularly wary of anything that looks fluffy or lumpy.
So not an easy task. But I love a challenge and am determined to expand his repertoire. He is still not four yet and I know his hunger as a growing boy and natural interest in me and my cooking adventures might eventually tempt him but I am growing impatient. All the books, Annabel Karmel, etc always go on about enticing fussy kids with individual sized mini portions. So I decided to have a go. I had planned to cook a ‘normal’ cottage pie for the rest of us, so it was no big deal to pull aside some freshly boiled potatoes for Zac and see if I could make a palatable dairy free mash.
I know a lot of people add milk to mash. I never have. Milk makes me heave too, so I always used to use a lot of butter and often add some extra virgin olive oil. For Zac’s version, I used some Pure Dairy Free Sunflower spread instead of butter. I know that Pure also make an Olive flavoured spread, so that might be worth a go, as I imagine it has more flavour.
My banana loaf recipe, posted a while back, seemed to go down very well. Not just with family, but with blog followers, so when faced again with several bananas that were past their best, I decided to have another crack at it.
I used the same basic recipe as last time, borrowed from in The River Cottage Family Cookbook. As I discovered last time, it still works with a straight swap of gluten free flour and dairy free margarine. This time I also added half a teaspoon of xanthan gum, as I have discovered this is an essential ingredient in gluten free baking.
The final magic new addition to the recipe was half a packet of Moo Free chocolate drops. Definitely not an essential and probably not to everyone’s taste, but I had half a pack left over from making the chocolate chip cookies. I could have eaten them, I did think about it, but I was more curious to see if they would work in this recipe so threw them in straight away to remove the temptation. They did work. It was awesome. Added a real yummy warm melted chocolate flavour and aroma to the cake. Everyone who tried it said you could never tell it was gluten free and dairy free – the only person who wouldn’t try it, of course, was Zac, but he did enjoy picking out the sultanas!
Here is my recipe and method. Easy enough to follow. I took it from the Pippa Kendrick book – The Intolerant Gourmet. It is an excellent ‘free from’ cookbook and this is a lovely recipe for a basic biscuit. Pippa says you can add a variety of ingredients e.g. raisins, peanut butter etc. My children love ‘chocolate’ so I added a pack of Moo Free chocolate drops. Very delicious and you would never know they were dairy free.
I have made these cookies three times now and have found my greatest success came when I added some one heaped teaspoon of xanthan gum. It made them much less powdery and they held their form more like a ‘normal’ biscuit.
I also added a big ‘squirt’ of golden syrup, in the hope it might help with the texture, but I have to admit it was also for flavour. It obviously makes them much more sweet and indulgent.
Last night I decided to make a chilli. Haven’t done it for a while. It seems that whenever I have any mince in the fridge I just make a Bolognese for the children. Easy but lazy. I had two packets this time so decided to have a go at multi-tasking and made both. Good job I have seven burners on my range cooker. I think I used all of them doing this. Two massive pans of sizzling beef in ‘sauce’ – moving them round across all of the different sized burners in an attempt to keep them cooking evenly.
I often make two meals at once. If you have got the time to chop and cook, why not make two lots of dinners, so long as you don’t mind eating ‘leftovers’, then it seems like a good idea to me. Meant I didn’t have to cook tonight.
Everyone has their own ‘chilli con carne’ recipe, so I won’t bore you with mine. Needless to say I use gluten free stock cubes and don’t add any cheese anywhere. Obviously, this is a good meal for all the gluten free guys as you usually just serve with rice, or a jacket potato if you are really pushing the boundaries!?! More…