because gluten-free food doesn't have to be rubbish

Posts Tagged ‘cheese


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You may have noticed I’ve been away for a while. My return here is but momentary. You see it turns out when you have a job you’re interested in, and one that requires your full attention and more, your time for cooking, let alone photographing food and writing recipes shrinks. Rather considerably. Don’t get me wrong, I love working out which glasses Corton-Charlemagne should be served in as much as the next person (Chardonnay glasses because it’s white, unlike Corton, which is always red) but it means that other pursuits get squeezed and thus, unable to devote as much attention to this little space as I would like, I am taking a break. Not a permanent one I hope; just until the New Year for now, to allow me time to settle into my new job, devote myself fully to all the additional training and learning required and generally recentre. This is not to say that my cooking adventures will cease. Far from it; with an exciting career move into an area that occupies much of my waking thoughts (namely food and wine) I am surrounded by new sources of inspiration at work, not least a ridiculously skilled kitchen team who work wonders on humble ingredients. I aim to continue stretching myself in the kitchen and hope to return in the new Olympic year with plenty of new recipes, photos and, I suspect, kitchen disaster stories to tell. For now, I leave you with a beautiful seasonal bridging recipe, one that combines the end of the (Indian) summer’s fruits and herbs, with autumn’s bubbling and baked goods into one amazing dish that tastes of mini Cheddars. And if that doesn’t sell it to you, frankly, you’re just weird.

Tomato Cobbler
Adapted lightly from Lottie and Doof

1 large white onion, sliced into strips
500g cherry or other tomatoes, halved or chopped into chunks
2 clove garlic, finely minced
2 tablespoons basil leaves, roughly torn
1 teaspoon crushed red chillies
2 tablespoons light olive oil

1 cup gluten-free flour
1 teaspoon baking powder
4 tablespoons butter
1/4 cup grated cheddar
1/4 cup grated parmesan
150ml single cream
More cheese for sprinkling on top

1. Preheat the oven to 180 C. In a small baking dish put the sliced onion, tomatoes, garlic and basil. Sprinkle with the crushed chillies, some salt and black pepper, and drizzle with the olive oil.

2. To make the topping, stir the gluten-free flour, baking powder and a pinch of salt together in a bowl. Chop the butter into small chunks and rub into the flour mixture with your fingertips, until the mixture resembles coarse crumbs. Add the cheddar and parmesan, and most of the cream, then bring together with a fork. Add the rest of the cream, or enough to make a sticky, but not runny, mixture.

3. Spoon this mixture on top of the tomatoes and onions in big dollops, leaving a small space in the centre of the cobble for steam to escape. Flatten any obvious peaks in the topping, so they don’t burn, then sprinkle more parmesan on top. Then transfer the dish to the oven to bake for 45-50 minutes, or until browned on top, and tomato juice can be seen bubbling at the sides.

4. Remove from the oven, leave to cool for 5 minutes, and serve with a green salad and reminiscences of summer.

Serves 2.


Written by guffblog

23rd October 2011 at 15:27

Posted in Main courses

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A fitting end

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On my tiny little corner of England stands a handful of planters. These are never going to combat world hunger, but they are a start. An attempt at growing my own food, of becoming more closely connected to the cycle that sustains us all, and appreciating just how vicious whitefly can be and why most farmers use an unholy amount of pesticides on their crops. It’s also made me appreciate my vegetables a little more. I never before understood just how long it takes to nurture and care for vegetables as they grow, to water and feed them at the right times and protect them from pests and wind so that finally, one day, they are ready for eating. Last year I mastered spring onions, tomatoes and spinach; all crops that require minimal skill or knowledge and a mere modicum of actual babysitting. This year I added cauliflower to my repertoire. Sadly, as my planters are not very large, I was limited to two cauliflowers. Just two. For a plant that takes roughly four-to-six months to grow from seed to fully formed vegetable. Six months to nurture from a tiny seedling, to planting out, to watching the tightly curled curds form to taking a big knife and hacking it down for the pot. Such a beautiful journey required a fitting dish, one that highlighted the magnificence of this vegetable.

Ahem. What I’m trying to say is I made cauliflower cheese. And it was good.

Cauliflower cheese
From Waitrose

Cauliflower is a delicate vegetable at heart; if you overcook it, it will go mushy. Equally, its flavour is very mild, verging on bland. Don’t get me wrong, I love the stuff but you need a couple of supporting flavours to round it all out and stop it from being too one-dimensional. The nutmeg and mustard are key; don’t scrimp.

1 large cauliflower, leaves removed (serve them alongside braised in a little butter), cut into florets
1 tablespoon butter
1 tablespoon cornflour
1 pint (568ml) milk
4 tablespoons medium cheddar
1/4 teaspoon ground nutmeg
1 teaspoon wholegrain mustard (check it’s gluten free)
1 tablespoon mature cheddar
1 tablespoon gluten-free breadcrumbs

1. Preheat the oven to 180 C. Bring a large pan of salted water to the boil and drop the cauliflower florets in. Simmer for 4-5 minutes, or until al dente. Drain and set aside.

2. Meanwhile in a small saucepan melt the butter over a medium heat. Whisk in the cornflour and cook for a minute, or until it thickens to a paste. Then slowly, stirring constantly, add the milk. Stir until the mixture starts to bubble and thickens to a thick, custardy consistency. Add a little more milk if necessary, then stir in a little salt, black pepper and the medium cheddar, ground nutmeg and wholegrain mustard. Add the cooked cauliflower to the saucepan and stir to coat the florets in sauce. Then tip the whole lot out into a small (I used a 4×6-inch oval) ovenproof baking dish.

3. Sprinkle the mature cheddar and breadcrumbs on top of the cauliflower cheese and bake in the preheated oven for 30 minutes, or until the breadcrumbs are medium brown. Serve immediately but be warned, it will be very hot in the middle.

Serves 2 as a main meal.

Written by guffblog

31st August 2011 at 21:57

Posted in Main courses

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How to avoid getting frittata all over your kitchen. Step one: butter your pan well. Step two: make sure the pan is nice and hot before putting any ingredients into it. Step three: once the base of your frittata is cooked sprinkle the top with cheese and place under a preheated grill to finish it off. This dispenses with the need to flip it, pancake-like, in the pan. Step four: having done all these things don’t mess it up at the final stage. Make sure you place a plate over the pan and simply upend the frittata onto the plate. Take extra care not to separate the plate and the pan until the frittata has transferred from the one to the other, otherwise you are likely to end up with egg and potato all over the floor.

Potato and spinach frittata

I am personally a big fan of the surprise cooked cheese which ends up on the bottom of this frittata once served. However, you can either serve the frittata right-way up so that the cheese is on top, or add the cheese once the frittata has been sliced and served.

5 small new potatoes
1 small white onion
Couple of handfuls of chopped spinach
4 eggs
2 tablespoons milk
2 tablespoons grated cheddar cheese

1. Bring a small saucepan of water to the boil. Slice the potatoes into thin (1cm thick) discs and boil for 10 minutes, until just tender.

2. Meanwhile fry the onion in a tablespoon of oil in an ovenproof skillet or frying pan until translucent. Add the potatoes and spinach to the pan.

3. In a jug whisk the eggs with the milk and salt and pepper. Pour this into the pan, over the potatoes and spinach and leave, undisturbed, over a medium-high heat for about 6-7 minutes, or until bubbles are visible on the surface of the frittata, and there is only a thin layer of liquid egg on top.

4. At this stage sprinkle the cheese over the top of the frittata and put it under a preheated grill for 2 minutes, or until the top is turning a fairly dark brown in colour and the cheese has completely melted.

5. Using oven gloves (I always forget the oven gloves when taking saucepans or frying pans out of the oven) remove the frittata from under the grill. Place a plate over the mouth of the pan and invert the frittata onto the plate. Slice and serve with more fresh spinach on the side.

Serves 2.

Written by guffblog

30th January 2011 at 12:52

Posted in Main courses

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Cheese and chive

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We interrupt our regularly scheduled programming for an announcement: I went out for fish and chips last week. Yes indeedy. If you happen to be in or around London at any point pay a visit to The Mermaids Tail. It’s situated right on Leicester Square, which is kind of a strange place for a restaurant in my view, and has a very odd feel inside; part posh restaurant, part American diner. The food definitely falls into the latter category; huge plates of steak, ribs, and, of course, fish and chips. The fish comes in either “normal” batter, or gluten free, and the chips are clearly cooked in a separate frier. The batter was lovely and crispy and, well, it was a revelation. It has been too long since fish and chips was on my menu. At £16 for a plate it’s not cheap (though next time I think I might share a plate with someone since it really was an enormous mountain of food) and it is the only restaurant I have eaten in in the whole of the UK that has a cover charge (£1 per person) but despite this it does gluten-free fish and chips. Every day. ‘Nuff said.

Ahem, where were we? Ah yes, cheese and chives. So, the way I usually go about making food is I usually see a beautifully photographed, gorgeously described, mouthwateringly lovely dish on some website or other, and decide to make it at the first opportunity. Voila, within five minutes my meal planner for the week is done. This time was different though. I decided I wanted some fresh rolls for lunch, and to accompany some lovely pumpkin soup of course. I wanted rolls with character, personality, with cheese and other bits in them. And, crucially, I wanted quick rolls, not proofing of yeast or waiting, and waiting, just mix and bake. Unfortunately, in all my millions (ok, well at least a couple of hundred then) of bookmarked recipes I couldn’t find anything to fit the bill. So I took the nearest thing I had, a recipe for a quick cheddar and dill loaf, and hacked it into little pieces, pieces just the right size to cook in ramekins. The result? Four rolls, perfect size for lunch, or to go with soup, full of stringy, melty, cheesey goodness. Time from getting out the mixing bowl to eating said rolls? A smidge under 40 minutes.

Cheddar and chive ramekin rolls
Adapted from Easy Gluten-Free Baking

There were far too few chives in these rolls for my liking. Next time I’d add at least 2 teaspoons of chopped chives, maybe more, which is reflected in the recipe below. Because of the high cheese content, these rolls are best served warm. If you eat them the day after they are made, reheat them in the microwave or oven beforehand, to remelt the cheese and get that nice springy texture back.

1 1/3 cups gf flour blend
2 teaspoons baking powder
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon xanthan gum
2 teaspoons chopped chives
2 tablespoons butter
100g strong cheddar cheese, grated
1 egg
3/4 cup milk

1. Preheat oven to 180 C. Butter the inside of four 0.2l ramekins.

2. Whisk flour, baking powder, salt and xanthan gum together in a medium bowl. Cut up the butter into small pieces and rub into the flour until it resembles breadcrumbs. Mix in the cheese and chives (just use your fingertips for this).

3. Whisk the egg and milk together in a small bowl and pour onto the flour and cheese mixture. Stir until a chunky dough forms. Divide the dough into 4 pieces and put in the ramekins. The dough will need patting down a little so it fills the ramekins evenly. You can leave a few “tufts” sticking up on top if you want a spiky top to your rolls.

4. Place the ramekins in the oven for 16-20 minutes. When cooked, put them on a rack to cool for 5 minutes, before levering the rolls out of their ramekins. Serve warm with meat, chutney or sliced apples on top.

Makes 4 rolls.

Written by guffblog

5th November 2010 at 14:10

Posted in Bread

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