Friday, December 23, 2011

Gluten free bread, made easy by Angie!

As you might have guessed, I’m on honeymoon. I have also decided to take a much needed break from the kitchen and from any major online activity. Before I left, I did however, ask a few respected foodie friends and family to contribute guest blogs for me while I was away.

Today, I am posting a blog written by Angie Morrison, of SOMETHING DIFFERENT. She creates a line of unusual goodies such as green tomato chutney, sugar-free strawberry jam, rocket and cashew pesto (made with rocket from her garden J) and whisky marmalade. She is also a busy mother of two and her journey with gluten free bread baking has really caught my attention.

Gluten free baking is fiendishly difficult, but the gluten free living trend also seems to be becoming more and more mainstream nowadays. Angie’s recipe seems, on the other hand, to be really easy (as long as you have the right ingredients) and she has been gracious enough to share it with us.

Angie’s story and recipe

One innocent two-friends-having-breakfast-and-a-gossip some time ago, my friend revealed to me, as I was slathering some butter over my warm toast, that she had recently been diagnosed with a gluten and dairy intolerance. She was terrified of having to have to live a life without all her favourite foods - pasta, cake, cappuccinos, pancakes, muffins and worst of all, BREAD. In a moment of genuine concern for my friend I promised I’d help her out. In the famous words of Jeremy Clarkson “How hard can it be?”…

Six months and many tears of success and failure later, I have come to terms with just how hard it really is to make a decent, non-dairy, gluten free bread. Initially I researched the concept, like what was gluten and why was it so important for bread. It is literally the “glue” that holds the bread together.

So how do we overcome this? Firstly I had to learn a whole new language that makes up the gluten free world - guar gum, millet flour, tapioca starch to mention a few of the alien ingredients that are essential to successful gluten free baking.

And milk substitutes? Soy milk (sometimes not so yum), rice milk (which I learnt recently can have gluten in from the maltodextrin. Sigh!) and almond milk. Butter is replaced by oil (canola or olive), so now we are ready to make our bread. Or so I thought. Allergies, it would seem, come in threes or MORE. My friend couldn’t have soy or yeast either. What did I get myself into?

As a result of much experimenting I have finally come up with a couple of working recipes, one of which is truly a very tasty dairy free, yeast free, gluten free buckwheat bread. Despite its name, Buckwheat has no relation to wheat at all, but is related to rhubarb, the seed of which is ground up to make a wonderfully silky nutty flour. It has now become so popular I have started baking bread to order and also do premix packs complete with instructions.

Anyone who would like to contact me can do so at I welcome any suggestions and challenges.

So, six months later my friend is overjoyed that she can eat bread again. Now to make a gluten free, dairy free Red Velvet cake for her birthday… Oh Boy!

Gluten Free Buckwheat Bread

1 ½ cups of gluten free plain flour (see notes)
½ cup of buckwheat flour
1 tsp bicarbonate of soda
2 tsp cream of tartar
½ tsp salt
2 Tbsp castor sugar
½ tsp xantham or guar gum
2 egg whites
1 cup reduced fat milk or milk substitute of choice
1/3 cup canola or olive oil
3-4 Tbsp seed mix (flaxseeds, sunflower seeds, sesame seeds, pumpkin seeds to personal taste)

Preheat oven to 180˚C and grease a medium loaf pan. Sift together the gluten free flour, buckwheat flour, bicarb, cream of tartar, salt and stir in the sugar. Beat the egg whites until just frothy, and stir in the milk and the vegetable oil. Pour the egg white mixture into the flour mixture and beat for 2 minutes or until smooth. Pour the batter into the pan, and press the seed mix lightly into the batter. Bake for 40-50 minutes or until a skewer inserted in the middle of the bread comes out clean.

For the gluten free plain flour you can use the Glutagon Plain Flour or this mix:

Angie’s bread flour mix 1:
1 cup brown rice flour
1 cup millet/sorghum flour
2/3 cup tapioca starch
1/3 cup cornstarch

Sift all together at least 3 times. Store leftover flour air tight container in the fridge or freezer.

Sunday, December 18, 2011

Perfect imperfection.

I am sitting in the car as I write today’s blog. Adam and I are on our way to Knysna and this feels like the first time I have had the mental space and physical time to write, in at least two weeks. As some of you know Adam and I finally got married last week.

we got engaged a year and half ago and have been working out how we could get married with as little fuss and stress as possible. Having worked in the hotel and events industry for 10 years I do not labour under any illusions that traditional weddings are glittering magical blissful days.

We had played with various options this way and that (I even won a wedding for 20 people fully paid for) but all our considerations ended up back at the same place. Just him and I, two witnesses and a minister. And we almost got it right!

We got married on the morning of the 10th of December at our home with Adam’s brother and my sister as witnesses, a fabulous interdenominational minister and at the last minute a few dads, a skyped in mother and another brother. There was a lot of laughter, some very comical situations, beautiful words, tears and so much love.

We then nipped out for brunch with our two witnesses to our favourite eating space, Starlings. Adam and I then spent a few hours alone adsorbing the gravity of the bond we had just forged, while family and friends gathered at my sister’s house waiting to celebrate with us in the afternoon.

We were met by masses of bubbly, flowers, smiles, gifts, music, laughter, dancing and great food. It was the perfect amount of crazy happy to end off the reflective intimate morning. Echoing the words of the minster at our marriage – a perfectly imperfect day!

Thursday, December 1, 2011

Chermoula and coconut milk baked fish

I developed this recipe earlier this week after a client requested a saucy fish dish. I was inspired after last weeks Moroccan explorations, so I decided to experiment with a chermoula, but I love the combination of coconut milk and fish too so I thought combining the two might be fun. I then saw a great recipe on Martha Stewart's website with braised leeks and tomato with fish... and hey presto, this recipe was born. Not much else to say other than both times I have cooked it now, it has met with roaring enthusiasm by it's eaters (and me).

Oh yes, I bet many of you are wondering what on earth chermoula is... it's a spicy herby lemony Moroccan sauce which is great with fish, chicken and veggies. I imagine it would be awesome as a condiment with red meat or added to a marinade. Add a few spoons to a steak sandwich for a flavor sensation! It would probably be great in a salad dressing too.

So in other words make double what the recipe calls for below and keep the other half in jar in the fridge!

Chermoula coconut milk baked fish
Serves 4 - 6

For the Chermoula

2 cloves of garlic, roughly chopped
1 Tbsp of smoked paprika
½ Tbsp of ground cumin power
2 tsp of fresh ginger, finely chopped
½ tsp of fresh chilli, finely chopped
A pinch of saffron
½ tsp of ground coriander
3 Tbsp of lemon juice
¼ of a preserved lemon, fruit removed and roughly chopped
½ tsp of salt
15g of fresh coriander, leaves and tender stems only, well washed
10g of flat-leaf (Italian) parsley, leaves and tender stems only, well washed

Combine all ingredients, except the herbs, in a blender and blend until a thick, moderately rough sauce is formed. Add the herbs and blend to combine but allow there to be quite a bit of texture left in the herbs.

Remaining ingredients

2 Tbsp of olive oil
300g of leeks, thinly sliced
Salt and pepper to taste
4 plum tomatoes, sliced lengthways into thick slices
4 – 6 portions of firm flaky fish of choice, cut into medallions
½ a 400g tin of coconut milk or cream

In medium sized not stick pan, heat the oil and fry the leeks until tender. Add a dash of water if the pan becomes too dry. Season with a little salt and pepper.
Pre heat your oven on grill and place the wrack in the middle of the oven. In a medium sized casserole dish scatter the leek even in the bottom of the dish. Lay the tomato slices onto the leeks and top each slice with a dollop of chermoula. Place this in the oven and grill for about 5 - 10 minutes.

Pat your fish dry and lightly salt and pepper each medallion. Combine the coconut cream and remaining chermoula. Remove the casserole dish from the oven and place the fish onto the tomatoes. Pour the coconut mixture over the fish and bake in the oven for 10 – 20 minutes depending on the size and thickness of the fish.

Allow the dish to rest for 5 minutes before serving with rice, potatoes and a salad.