Sunday, 4 June 2017

Blogging Break

Hello all,
At the moment I just cannot find the time to write new posts, so I'm going to have a little break for a while.
I will still update the listings with any new places that I find, but otherwise I'll be on twitter and instagram only.

Thursday, 26 May 2016

Wheat Free Bakery

I had heard of the Wheat free Bakery on Facebook with excellent reviews, and decided to try some of their breads.

They are a small, independent, family owned bakery, specialising in gluten and wheat free products, based in Scotland.

They have lots of bread and bread rolls to choose from, as well as an egg free section and cakes, sweet treats and mixes.

I have made a few orders now, generally bloomers, and their bread is amazing. I really love it!!!
The crust is a bit crusty without being too hard and there are no holes in the bread. It is very soft and moist and just generally gorgeous. You can see the full list of ingredients for each product in case you have a problem with something else.

As well as the bloomers, I have also tried some rolls, which are of the same high quality and the eclairs which are very nice too.
And they've always include a freebie in all the parcels I've received so far (hot cross buns for Easter, very spicy, very gorgeous).
They charge £5.95 for delivery (for parcels up to 20 kg), which is what they pay the couriers, but as the bread itself is cheaper than supermarket alternatives I'd say it evens out on price for a higher quality product.
All the bread I bought has arrived in excellent condition, and very fresh, as they dispatch it the day they bake it.
I normally buy 3 bloomers & an assortment of rolls.
I slice the bloomers and freeze them in small portions, and it's as good defrosted as the day it arrives. I put them directly from the freezer into the toaster, and they are good to go.
I only wish that I had a bigger freezer ;)

For more information visit their website:
Wheat Free Bakery

Yorika Free From Ice cream

Yorika has opened recently in Soho and it is such a joy to visit.

The decoration is quite cool, ice cream colours, seasoned with a happy soundtrack.

Then you have the ice cream bar, lots of choice including some unusual flavours, all made with natural ingredients.
I loved their raspberry and vanilla flavours.

And then you have the fun of their toppings bar!!!
All sprinkles are free, but you can also add fresh fruit, and other mad combinations like gummy bears, cookie crumbs or mini marshmallows (£0.65).
If that is not enough, you can top it all up with a sauce (£0.35).

If you are allergic or intolerant to gluten, dairy, nuts or eggs, or if you are vegan, this is your place.

You can choose any of their ice creams, frozen yogurts, smoothies and shakes without having to worry about ingredients, even try the peanut butter ice cream (made without peanuts!).

I reckon they are on to something good ;)

130 Wardour Street, London, W1F 8ZN

Monday, 15 February 2016

Chacon cakes

I was wandering around Wimbledon a couple of weekends ago when I bumped into a market at the piazza.
Lots of nice stalls, and amongst them the lovely cakes from Chacon Cakes!

All of them gluten free, and the one I bought 'Piña Colada' was delicious, so moist that it melted in my mouth in an explosion of coco flakes, pineapple chunks and an immediate need to cheer up. 

I only wish I had bought another one.

I had a good chat with the baker herself, like you do when you find another coeliac and you realise how much you have in common straight away. 

She was a baker in her pre-Coeliac days and was telling me about her gluten free experiments in the kitchen. Clearly very successful.

I think she is at the Wimbledon Piazza market regularly, but to find out more about her and where to buy them, here are the details:
Twitter: @cakeschacon

Tuesday, 26 January 2016

Sushi Rolls

I love sushi rolls, and since being gluten intolerant, eating sushi out and about can be a minefield.

Even though it looks like rice, fish and vegetables should be safe and you just need to avoid the soy sauce, there are a few things to watch out for.

These are the ones I'm wary of:
* Soy sauce (you could take your own Tamari instead if you plan ahead)
* Crab sticks, which contain wheat
* Mayonnaise, used to season some types of rolls, like California rolls. Some mayos contains gluten. When in doubt I always avoid it
*Seasoning used for rice. In some restaurants it contains soy sauce in addition to rice vinegar, sugar and salt. I recommend asking when ordering

To ensure I could enjoy sushi rolls whenever I wanted, I was pondering how difficult it would be to make my own ...
As if by magic, I found an offer at my local Sainsbury's on all Yutaka sushi making ingredients, and all the packets have instructions, so this was my chance!
I bought a sushi bamboo mat, sushi rice, sushi nori (seaweed sheets to roll your sushi in), rice vinegar and sesame seeds.

In really good sushi, it is the quality of the fish that makes the difference. Sushi grade fish has to have a parasite destruction guarantee. According to European Union regulations, freezing fish at −20°C (−4°F) for 24 hours kills parasites. If you are planning to use raw fish, always check with your supplier that it is safe to eat.

 To make my life easier and avoid poisoning myself i decided to make mine with smoked salmon. Safety first!

Ingredients (this makes a generous portion for 2, I get 4 rolls that can be cut into 6 pieces each once you discard the ends)
For the rice: 250 gr sushi rice, 330 ml water
For the rice seasoning: 3 tbsp rice vinegar, 2 tbsp sugar, 1 tsp salt
For the roll: Nori sheets (roasted seaweed), Sesame seeds
For the filling: Smoked salmon, avocado, cucumber, Chives (or you could substitute the salmon for roasted red peppers)

How to cook the rice
Put 250gr of rice into a bowl and wash with cold water. Repeat 3 or 4 times and then drain the rice with a sieve.
Add 330mls of water and the washed rice to a saucepan. Bring to the boil and simmer for 10 minutes with the lid on. Turn off the heat and leave to stand for 25-30 minutes. Do not open the lid! I like to put it in the fridge for another 30 minutes, so that it is cold and easier to handle.

How to season the rice 
Mix the vinegar, sugar and salt first and once well combined mix it with the rice.

How to make the rolls
Place a sheet of nori onto a bamboo rolling mat
Spread a thin layer of cooked and seasoned rice as evenly as possible over the nori, leaving a 1cm gap at the top and the bottom so that you can seal the roll
Place the filling of your choice in a line about 5cm from the front of the nori, be careful not to use too much filling as it will be difficult to roll
Begin rolling the nori carefully and evenly around the filling, using the mat to help shape it, rolling away from you and pressing firmly. Pull the bamboo mat away from you, and make sure to keep rolling the nori around itself (there are some very good drawings on the back of the pack if you use Yakarta nori).
Once the roll is complete, press down firmly on the mat to compress the roll slightly, so that it keeps its shape
Cut the roll into evenly sized pieces and serve with tamari sauce, wasabi and sushi ginger

Inside out sushi rolls
These look very pretty with the rice on the outside and some sesame seeds (or even some fish roe to decorate the outside). It is a little bit more fiddly but not too hard.
Start as before with the sheet of nori on the bamboo mat and spread the rice thinly. Now sprinkle sesame seeds on top (or fish roe), as many or as little as you like.
Now comes the tricky bit: we cover the rice side with cling film and as quickly as possible and we turn it upside down, being careful to keep it all together.
It needs to go back on the sushi mat, with the cling film on top of the mat (then rice, then nori sheet).
It is now that we add the filling as before, but this time on top of the nori.
We'll need to cut off the top third of the nori sheet so that we get a nice roll, and it is rolled exactly like the other rolls with the help of the mat. In this case you have to be careful not to roll the cling film inside the roll, so pull it out gently as you roll.
It does look more complicated than it is, but once you watch a couple of you tube videos it is actually not difficult at all.
I'd say it's important to press the rice tightly when spreading it onto the nori sheet, as it will be easier to roll and the finished shape will be better too.

It is quite fun, and I've already made rolls a few times. My next sushi challenge will be to experiment with different fillings ;)

Beyond Bread

Beyond Bread opened it's doors in 2015, to much anticipation and following on social media.

It is amazing to find any cafe or restaurant where gluten does not dare to go, and Beyond Bread is one of them, where everything is gluten free and cross-contamination is not an issue.

It is open during the day, closing at 5pm during the week and at 4pm at weekends so keep this in mind if you plan to visit.

They offer a variety of cakes, breads, sandwiches and lunch options, and for me, their bread shines above anything else.
When I visit I always have one of their tasty filled baguettes, and so far I have never been disappointed.
I've also recently tried their multi seeded loaf which is by far the best multi seeded I've ever tried.

Their danish pastries are also good, but, although I have not tried their cakes myself, I've head mixed opinions.
So, my advice if you visit?
Choose bread, bread or bread!

Beyond Bread
2 Charlotte Place, London W1T 1SB
Tube: Goodge Street
Hours: Monday to Friday 8.30am to 5pm; Saturday and Sunday: 10am to 4pm

Sunday, 8 November 2015

Genius healthier breads and recipes

I was recently invited by Genius to a cooking evening with Lucinda Bruce-Gardyne.

The kitchen in full swing
The purpose of the evening was to introduce their new healthier breads and an array of recipes that will soon be available on their blog.

When I arrived at L’Atelier des Chefs in the City, I was greeted by a small and lovely group of people, including Lucinda and her team and a few other bloggers.

Lucinda herself led the session, talking to us about the new range of healthier breads they have just launched. We had a chance to taste the breads at the event and to use them for our cooking session.

I eat the triple seeded loaf regularly, and I've been buying the new one since the event without noticing any difference in flavour, so I'd like to say: Thank You Genius for making my everyday multiseeded healthier!

As I still had one of the old packs around, I've compared the nutritional value of the old and new multiseeded breads by slice (36gr), here it is:

Calories: 104 in both old and new
Fat: 3.4g in the new bread (from 4.5g in the old recipe)
of which saturates: 0.3g (from 0.4g)
Carbohydrate: 15g (from 14g)
of which sugars: 1.1g (from 0.9g)
Fibre: 3.6g (from 3.8g)
Protein: 1.5g (from 2.1g)
Salt: 0.22g (from 0.37g)

As you can see from the data above, the main changes are in the amount of fat and salt.
Genius has addressed a growing concern of mine and I think many gluten-free consumers about the contents of salt, sugar and fat in many free from products.

If I think of my own gluten free journey since diagnosis, it has been full of ups and downs.
Downs when you have to wave goodbye to those foods you can no longer have, to ups when you find substitutes that fill that space, to more lows once you realise how unhealthy some of them can be, and now I can see a new high coming if other producers follow this trend.

After the presentation, we moved on to the cooking itself and I have to complement L’Atelier des Chefs for such a great venue. The space is great and it's set up for a small group, so you feel a bit  like being in the masterchef kitchen, but without Gregg and John judging!

We made some Falafel, Hummus and Tzatziki, which we later served with Genius Pitta Bread, and ended the session cooking Bread and Butter Pudding with Chocolate and Chilli, yum!

Falafel and hummus
I found the recipes very easy to follow and it was great to cook together in a small group and have fun checking out everyone’s progress.

I would love to say my dishes were good looking as well as tasty. Fortunately thanks to a total meltdown of my phone, no further photographic evidence is available ;)

I learned a lot of cooking tips from this event, and in my experience, even though there are many books and recipes out there, nothing beats having a professional chef leading a live cooking session.

For example, I have made hummus before, but I didn't realise how important the type of tahini paste used affects the final taste. Only by talking to Lucinda I learned that light tahini gives the hummus a smoother taste, as the darker varieties are made with toasted seeds and give it a much stronger flavour.

I also learned that, when making falafel, it is the final coating with polenta that gives them that nice structure and finish.
My own mix ended up a bit too moist, as I think I wasn't very precise when measuring the ingredients, and yet, they look reasonable ...

So all in all, it was a brilliant evening, I am glad I had the chance to attend, sample many of the new Genius products and learn a lot of new cooking tricks from Lucinda and her team.

To find out more about Genius:

To find out more about couses at Atelier des Chefs: