Wednesday, 22 July 2015

Recipe: Pho-King Good Chicken from Nigel Slater

I adore simple, fresh tasting recipes with modest affordable ingredient lists.
And that is exactly what you get from Nigel Slater's Eat. This sunshine-yellow cloth covered book of fast food is my current obsession and today I'm going to share my version of his 'Roast Chicken Pho'. I'd tweaked things here and there to make sure they are 100% gluten free and added things to suit my tastes.

1 tablespoon of soy sauce (gluten-free soy sauce can now be found in most supermarkets)
1 tablespoon of local honey
1 tablespoon of mirin (or if like me you have no idea what that is dissolve a small amount of sugar in white wine vinegar - thank you google)
4 chicken thighs (or 6 legs!)
800ml stock (homemade is best but if you are stock-less a Callo Stock  Cube will just about suffice)
6 'coins' of ginger (That's slices to me and you)
juice of 1 lime
3 whole star anise
1 garlic clove
shredded greens or chard or pak choi
rice noodles
bean sprouts
half a long red pepper
2 spring onions
100g of rice noodles

Mix the soy, honey and mirin (or alternative) in a small roasting tin and marinade the chicken (I left mine for about an hour).
Transfer the chicken into a cast iron pan and brown the skins slightly before popping into a preheated oven at 200C for about 30 minutes.
Warm the stock, ginger, lime juice, star anise and garlic.
Stir fry the veg and noodles lightly adding a small ladle of stock.
Remove the chicken from the oven - slice off the good meat and pour the sticky brown sauce over the noodle and veg concoction.
Fill the bowls with a nest of veg, noodles and chicken then top with a healthy ladle of steamy stock (I drained mine as I didn't fancy having chunks of garlic and/or star anise in my broth.

As I said...a Pho-King Good Chicken dish with lots of spice and plenty of veggies.
Please let m know if you give this a try - I'd love to see pictures and hear suggestions/improvements!

Recipe: Homemade Gluten-Free Granola

I have always been a cereal girl. Weetabix, Cheerios and Shredded Wheat have been my friends for a long time and now, suddenly, my grainy reliable chums have revealed themselves to be arch enemies of my poor damaged gut.

As a busy twenty-something teacher it is often hard to find time to prepare balanced wholesome breakfasts in the morning so having something I can tip into a bowl and cover in fruit and yoghurt is important. Having searched through multiple Pinterest feeds and hashtags of #GlutenFreeBreakfasts I was faced with lovingly crafted concoctions of avocado, eggs and seeds. All of which looked delicious...but time consuming*

*Disclaimer: When you're trying to iron a shirt, plan a lesson and drink coffee all in the space of 5 minutes even boiling an egg can seem time consuming.*

And then I discovered Homemade Granola.

The options for this recipe are endless and I intend to explore them all. This, however, is my first and, in my opinion, very successfully attempt.

1 bag of gluten Free Oats
1 small bag of dried Shredded Coconut
1 cup of almonds (Sliced or whole)
half a cup of brown sugar (Opt.)
1 tablespoon of cinnamon 
Pinch of salt
2 large tablespoons of honey
1 large tablespoon of coconut Oil
1 teaspoon of vanilla essence
Chia Seeds / Flaxseed / Dried fruit (Opt.)

Preheat the oven to 150 degrees C
Pour the first 5 ingredients into a huge mixing bowl.
Heat the honey, oil and vanilla essence over a low heat until melted
Add the remaining, optional, ingredients to the dry mixture and pour the melting honey mixture over the top.
Stir well
Line a large roasting pan with baking parchment
Tip the mixture into the roasting pan and put in the oven for 40 minutes.
Stir every 10 minutes to create an even bake
Allow to cool then break up any larger pieces.

Et voila! It's as simple as that! I've stored mine in an extra large kilner jar and intend to dig into it daily.

I know this recipe with contain more sugar than some people like but it is easy to adapt/tweak to your needs and tastes. This morning I teamed mine with fresh peach, raspberries and natural yoghurt alongside a large mug of peppermint tea - morning bliss.

Tuesday, 21 July 2015

Planning / Shopping / Cooking Gluten Free #1

Adapting to any new diet is hard work. Adapting to a gluten free diet is very hard work.

As a busy teacher I have found the last 3 three weeks very difficult, I have not been organised, I have spent too much money on poor quality food and I have not been getting the nutrients my body needs.

Enter The Summer Holidays. Six glorious weeks of time for me, myself and I.

Whilst I still need to find time to write a dissertation, re-decorate our spare room and give my vegetable patch some long overdue love I am determined to use some of this time to get organised in the shops and in the kitchen.

Over the next few weeks I intend to document my trials and errors at meal planning, gluten-free shopping and cooking - I'd love to see your attempts or hear your top tips for organising a gluten-free kitchen so please do share away!

Stage 1 - Recipe books & a Meal Planner

I am a creature of habit and find that creating new rituals is always a good way to start anything new. I have an extensive collection of beautiful cookbooks and spent the morning pouring over them with a large cup of tea in hand. I also find Pinterest to be infinitely useful when looking for new ideas - click here to see my pins or even better make your own account and follow me. Having chosen a few recipes I jotted them down onto this lovely sunny meal planning pad from Knock Knock which comes with a large strong magnet on the back ready to go straight onto the fridge. I then consulted the recipes and jotted down any ingredients I didn't already have.

This week I have planned for four main meals and a range breakfasts and lunches - we have a busy weekend ahead and I'm not yet sure what/when/where we will be eating.

Tuesday: Roast Chicken Pho from Nigel Slater's Eat
Wednesday: Aubergine Curry from Nigel Slater's Eat
Thursday: Courgetti & Lime and Coriander chicken 
Friday: Autumn Harvest Wild Mushroom Risotto 

For breakfasts: Fruit salad, Smoothies, Homemade Granola and Avocado Toasts

For lunches: Baked Sweet Potato with feta cheese and beetroot, Vietnamese Rice Rolls, Roast Balsamic Veg with Quinoa. 

All naturally gluten-free, nutritious foods which should leave us both feeling energised and ready for Tramlines this weekend!

Step 2 - Shop

I then popped over to the supermarket to pick up the items I would need. I usually prefer to head to a local farmer's market for produce but after a weekend in bed due to excruciating joint pain I missed the boat and headed to Sainsbury's instead.

TOP TIP: If you're like me and can't go to the supermarket without buying things you don't need ditch the car and go on foot. I took two large bags-for-life and didn't allow myself to stray from my shopping list - I knew I had to carry everything I had bought on the two mile walk back to my house so didn't pack my bags with any unnecessary items.

One of the complaints I hear a lot from people adapting to a gluten free lifestyle for the first time is the cost of the food - my advice is to steer clear of the 'Free From' isle and head to the fresh produce instead. I purchased everything below for less than £40.

Step 3 - Cook

The hard work is done! I now know what I am going to eat and when. The food is ready and waiting in the fridge and all I need to do is check my meal planner and pull out the correct recipe.

Whilst cooking from a recipe every night may seem over the top my aim is to try as many new things as I can reviewing and adapting as I go, then, come September I will have refreshed my repertoire and will be ready to start the new term with a few more gluten-free dishes at my fingertips.

I hope to review as many of the above as I can over the coming week and will feedback on what worked (and what didn't).

Do you have any go-to gluten free dishes that always find their way into your kitchen and onto your plate? I'd love to know about them!

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Monday, 20 July 2015

Restaurant Review: The Milestone

As a child, and a student, I'd always celebrate the start of summer with a sleepover and M&Ms, now I prefer to welcome the summer months with a glass of wine and some good food. We'd been wanting to visit The Milestone for months and this seemed like the perfect opportunity.

Nestled in the old industrial area of Kelham Island The Milestone epitomizes everything that is great about Sheffield - genuine, comfortable and proud.

We arrived around 6.30pm and opted to eat from the 'Early Bird' Menu which offers two or three courses for £14.00/£16.00 between 5pm-7pm daily. The choice was fantastic and deciding what to have was not easy.

After a short, helpful conversation with the waiter I was told that most dishes were naturally gluten free and that they could make small adaptations to anything I fancied. This flexible friendly approach made me feel comfortable and at ease - and not at all a burden.

After much deliberation, and a large glass of refreshing white wine, I opted for the 'Whipped goat's cheese, pickled Yorkshire beetroots, beetroot gel, puffed pumpkin seeds and onion oil'. My partner chose the 'Risotto of pearl barley, spring peas, parmesan, pickled shallot and garden herbs'.

Now, I feel it is important here to express just how fussy I can be when it comes to goat's cheese. As a student I lived in a rural French town known for it's exquisite cheese. Every Saturday morning I would head to the market and buy two cakes of 'demi-sec' goat's cheese from a local lady - both of which would be gone before bedtime. Since moving back to England I have struggled, in vain, to find good rich. tangy, ripe goat's cheese. My search is over. This goat's cheese was divine. Not to mention beautifully presented...

Having devoured the masterpiece above I worried that my main couldn't possibly compare. I ordered the 'Pan fried beef skirt, chunky chips, furnace hill nasturtium hollandaise and seasonal greens' (for which I paid an extra £2), and my partner opted for the 'Milestone burger'.

Unfortunately the sight of the homemade chips snuggled alongside pink juicy beef was so tempting I entirely forget to photograph the main. Again, the meal was satisfying, beautifully cooked and rich. My OH devoured the burger and agreed that it was a rare treat to get real homemade chips in such a nice restaurant. No shoestring fries here - chunky, salty, crispy potato just begging to be dipped into the nearest pot of ketchup!

Having thoroughly enjoyed the starter and main we did not need a dessert...but who ever needs dessert?

Unfortunately, the gluten free choices were slightly less abundant here - I was offered a handmade pana cotta or icecream and opted for the pana cotta which was perfectly fine - I did, however, glare with envy as my partner dug into a large sticky slice of sticky toffee pudding served with a delicious homemade icecream.

We both left feeling like we had had a real treat - delicious food, good wine, friendly staff and all for under £45 - we really thought it was excellent value for money. From a gluten free perspective it was so lovely to see a menu that had clearly been made with food intolerance in mind, the staff were well informed and I felt confident and carefree throughout the meal.

It feels great to have uncovered another little gluten-free friendly restaurant in this gorgeous city and I will certainly be heading back there soon!