Huge thanks to Channel4.com for voting me one of the best gluten-free & allergy-friendly blogs! I’m up there with The Intolerant Gourmet, The Gluttonous Vegan, Pig in the Kitchen, The Gluten-Free Student Cookbook, A Girl’s Guide to Gluten-Free Baking, Free From, Food is Good, Eating Like a Horse and The Gluten-Free Blog. I love that mainstream media is taking the subject seriously – and, of course, that I’m featured!!
This lovely recipe is from Christine Bailey‘s The Top 100 Baby Foods, which is one of my favourite books at the moment. Full of recipes that are truly healthy – all catering for little tummies, so either no- or low-sugar, lots of gluten-free and dairy-free, packed full of nutrition, and the recipes are truly easy to make. Cod is full of high-quality protein that’s easily digested by your baby’s immature gut. Although cod is not as rich in omega-3 essential fats as oily fish, it contains good amounts of these brain-boosting nutrients. It also contains plenty of B-vitamins, which help your baby’s body unlock the energy stored inside the food she or he eats. Make sure you check the fish carefully for any stray bones before you begin cooking. I made double the amount as I’d just bought 2 large cod fillets from the fishmongers.
gluten-free, dairy-free, soya-free, egg-free, nut-free, seed-free
About 4 servings for little ones Preparation time 10 minutes Cooking time 20 minutes
- 4 tomatoes, halved
- 2 red peppers, deseeded and chopped into chunks
- 2 tsp balsamic vinegar
- 2 tbsp olive oil
- 175g/6oz skinless, boneless cod fillet
- 2 tbsp lemon juice
- 1 handful of basil leaves
- Preheat the oven to 180ºC/350°F/Gas 4. Put the tomatoes and peppers in a small roasting tray. Drizzle with the balsamic vinegar and half the olive oil. Bake for 5 minutes until the tomatoes are softening.
- Remove the roasting tray from the oven. Nestle the cod fillet among the peppers and tomatoes and drizzle with the remaining oil and the lemon juice. Scatter with the basil leaves and bake for a further 15 minutes until the fish is cooked through.
- Serve hot or put the fish and vegetables in a food processor and process to form a purée if you’re making this for a baby.
This year I went to Olympia, London, to take part in the judging for the Great Taste Awards. Organised by The Guild of Fine Food, these awards are now in their tenth year and the food industry seems to have truly embraced them. This year the Guild received a record number of entries this year – showing definitely that fine foods and drink are holding their own in the marketplace.
I had a great day judging (and chatting!) And tasted some truly great food. Throughout the day, we awarded 10 Gold One Stars and 3 Gold Two Stars. One of the products that received a Gold One Star was a gluten-free breakfast cereal, made with quinoa and buckwheat flakes. I realise now that this was the Perfekt Organic Quinoa Granola (although, of course, I didn’t know this at the time.) This really was very good – and nutritionally excellent. The sunflower seeds, pecans, almonds, brazil nuts and golden linseeds gave the muesli a delicious balance of tastes and textures, and the quinoa and buckwheat flakes were lovely. The quinoa, in particular, was very well produced – it had been toasted and remained crunchy even after it had been immersed in milk for a while.
During the day, a couple of Gold Three Stars were awarded. Unfortunately neither of them came by my table, so I didn’t taste them. But one was a Polenta Cake which apparently was utterly wonderful. Polenta is a great gluten-free ingredient for making cakes – giving them a slightly-crunchy texture and deliciously sweet taste. And the other product was a roasted nori seaweed. Huge congratulations to those producers.
Once again I was hugely impressed with the judges I met. Most of them are involved in producing, selling or marketing high-quality, often artisan, food, and they’re all utterly passionate about great food. Each entry is blind tasted and points are given or deducted in a thorough, comprehensive way. If a product is thought to be worth a gold, it goes to a total of 16 people, who must all agree with the award. This year, I got to taste a very wide range of foods, ranging from biscuits, breads and cakes; to ice creams, chocolates and truffles; and sauces, pickles and chutneys. Some weren’t good – but the majority were – and those that stood out and received awards were truly excellent.
It’s a wonderful feeling to bite into a lasagne – and know that it’s gluten-free and dairy-free! This is a vegetarian one made with earthy sweet spinach and pine nuts, with a nutmeg-flavoured cheese sauce and a layer of dairy-free pesto to add zing. Packed with nutrition from the antioxidant-, calcium-, magnesium- and iron-packed spinach and the pine nuts, this is comfort food at its very best.
gluten-free, dairy-free, egg-free, nut-free, citrus-free
Serves 4–6 Preparation time 5 minutes Cooking time
- 50g/1¾oz/⅓ cup pine nuts
- 500g/1lb 2oz baby spinach leaves
- 100g/3½oz dairy-free soya cheese, grated
- 8–12 no-pre-cook gluten-free lasagne sheets
- a few basil leaves, torn, to serve
- sea salt and freshly ground black pepper
- 250ml/9fl oz/1 cup dairy-free soya milk
- 1 onion, finely chopped
- 2 bay leaves
- 85g/3oz dairy-free margarine
- 60g/2¼oz/⅓ cup rice flour
- 30g/1oz/⅓ cup gram flour
- 30g/1oz/scant ⅓ cup maize flour
- 1l/35fl oz/4 cups gluten-free and dairy-free vegetable stock
- ¼ tsp freshly grated nutmeg
- 300g/10½oz dairy-free soya cheese, grated
- 30g/1oz basil leaves
- 1 heaped tbsp pine nuts
- 1 garlic clove, crushed
- 25g/1oz dairy-free cheese
- To make the cheese sauce, put the soya milk, onion and bay leaves into a saucepan and bring to the boil over a high heat. Turn the heat down, cover with a lid and simmer for 5 minutes. Remove from the heat and leave to infuse for 20 minutes.
- Meanwhile, make the pesto. Heat a large heavy-based frying pan over a medium heat. Add the pine nuts for the pesto and dry-fry until just starting to turn golden. Remove from the heat, remove the pine nuts and divide and leave to one side. (This is made without any oil, because it would be too oily for the lasagne with oil.) Wash the basil and pat dry in a clean kitchen towel. Put the ingredients into a mini-food processor and blend until a paste forms.
- Melt the dairy-free margarine in a large heavy-based saucepan over a low heat. Stir in the flours and gradually stir in the infused milk mixture and then the vegetable stock, stirring all the time. Bring to the boil and stir as it thickens. If it goes lumpy, beat with a whisk until smooth. One the sauce has boiled, stir in the dairy-free cheese, turn the heat down and leave to simmer gently for about 10 minutes, stirring frequently. If needed, stir in another 125ml/4fl oz/½ cup stock to make a smooth sauce that is fairly thick but runny. Season lightly with salt and pepper.
- Wash the spinach thoroughly and put in the frying pan. Cook over a medium heat for 2–3 minutes until the spinach has wilted, stirring occasionally. Put the spinach into a fine sieve and push all the juice out of the leaves with the back of a spoon. Drain the liquid from the pan and return the spinach to the pan. Add the pine nuts and the soya cheese. Season lightly with salt and pepper and mix together.
- Preheat the oven to 200°C/400°F/Gas 6. Spread a third of the cheese sauce over the bottom of a large baking dish. The best shape is a square shape, ideally about 23 x 18cm/9 x 7in size, although I’ve used a circular dish in this picture. Put half of the spinach mixture over the top and cover with a layer of 4–6 lasagne sheets, depending on the size of your dish. Spread the pesto over the top. Layer again with the a third of the cheese sauce, the remaining spinach mixture and 4–6 lasagne sheets. Cover with the remaining cheese sauce, making sure that the cheese sauce covers everything on top.
- Bake for 50–60 minutes, depending on the type of lasagne sheets used, until the cheese sauce is golden brown and the pasta is soft. Sprinkle with basil and serve hot.
This gorgeous fruit salad comes from spice master John Gregory’s Smith‘s book, Mighty Spice. Inspired by his travels around the world, John wrote the cookbook to show how you can use spices to add amazing flavours – including spicy, zingy, fiery and tangy – as well as delicious aromas. Instead of having to use a whole load of different spices, John uses a total of only 25 spices – and a maximum of only 5 spices for each recipe. And there’s a wonderful selection of dishes from all over the world. Brilliant!
This recipe literally took no time at all to prepare. I cheated (!) and bought a pre-prepared tropical fruit salad. So I simply made the syrup and mixed it into the papaya, pineapple, mango and passion fruit. So easy. And the flavours here are stunning – a combination of fiery chilli, zesty lime juice, and sweet, aromatic cinnamon and star anise – all mixed into the different fruit flavours. We ate this after a beef stir-fry, making the whole meal a fantastic mix of tastes and aromas. It’s wonderful to find new inspiration for fruit and this is fast becoming a new favourite in our house!
gluten-free, dairy-free, yeast-free, egg-free, soya-free, nut-free, seed-free
Serves 4 Preparation time 10 minutes Cooking time 10 minutes
- 90g/3¼oz/heaped ⅓ cup caster sugar
- 5cm/2in cinnamon stick
- 2 star anise
- ¼ tsp chilli flakes
- juice of 2 limes
- seeds and pulp of 3 passion fruit
- 1 mango, peeled, pitted and roughly chopped
- ½ pineapple, peeled, cored and roughly chopped
- 1 papaya, peeled, deseeded and roughly chopped
- Put the sugar, cinnamon, star anise and chilli flakes into a large pan with 250ml/9fl oz/1 cup water and bring to the boil over a high heat. Stir continuously for 1 minute, or until all the sugar has dissolved, then reduce the heat to medium and simmer, shaking the pan occasionally, for 10 minutes until the liquid has reduced to a thin syrup. Transfer the syrup to a mixing bowl and set aside to cool. Remove the cinnamon to stop its flavour overpowering the dressing, but reserve for decoration.
- Once the syrup has cooled, pour in the lime juice and passion fruit and mix well. Add the mango, pineapple and papaya, then toss together so that the spicy, sweet-sour flavours of the dressing coat the fruit. Serve at room temperature or chilled.