Monthly Archives: May 2012

Gluten-Free & Dairy-Free Sardine Fishcakes

This recipe is adapted from the new cookbook by the founder of Planet Organic, Renée ElliottMe, You & the Kids Too. Gwyneth Paltrow says, ʻRenée Elliottʼs cookbook is a kitchen essential for new moms and for those who need a little inspiration on how to feed the entire family. The delicious recipes cover babies, toddlers, kids and adults – and each meal is simple and healthy for everyone.ʼ

This book is very dear to my heart. I worked on it with Renée when I came back to work, after my maternity leave. I was working full-time (stressed and tired!) but knew that I wanted to cook nutritious food for Zoë, Peter and I. But I found that I was focussing on lovely purées for Zoë and then too tired to rustle much up for us. Renée’s innovative idea for cooking for a family made total sense to me – and she taught me to think of recipes that I could make for us and then make a purée for Zoë from. Brilliant! And here, at last, is the book I wish I’d had in my hands back then! Cook up Herb-Crusted Fish, for example, in just 30 minutes from start to finish. While you’re preparing the main dish, you can follow the mini-variation recipes to make a Salmon with Broad Beans & Sweet Potato Purée version for your 6–9-month-old or a Herby Salmon with Broad Beans & Sweet Potato Purée for your 9–12-month-old. In this book you’ll find recipes for all situations, including quick breakfasts and lunches for everyone, indulgent, romantic dinners (yep!) to have with your partner after you’ve fed your little angels, bathed them and read them their favourite stories, and meals you can cook for friends when you actually get your social life back!

What’s more, these recipes are bursting with goodness. Renée is all about adding nutrition whenever you can. So you’ll find inspiration for those health food products you’ve never known what to do with, as well as ways to make things like chocolate brownies actually healthy. In this recipe, you use super-healthy sardines instead of the more usual salmon/cod. Sardines are hard to get little ones to eat as they taste fairly strong but made this way, you’ll be able to. (Zoë won’t eat fresh or tinned sardines but she loves making these (hence the less-than-perfectly-shaped fishcakes in the picture!) and will then gobble them up.) Sardines, like all oily fish, are full of omega-3 so they’re wonderfully good for boosting brain development. And, of course, they’re a great storecupboard ingredient so you can whip these up with minimum hassle.

I changed the breadcrumbs to gluten-free breadcrumbs (which you can make very easily by putting some bread – crusts and all – into your food processor and whizzing a little).

Serves: 2 adults, 1 kid and a baby     Preparation time: 20 minutes     Cooking time: 30 minutes


  • 400g/14oz potatoes, diced
  • 2 large eggs, beaten
  • 180g/6¼oz tinned sardines in oil or water, drained
  • 1 small onion, finely chopped
  • 1 tbsp Dijon mustard
  • 3 tbsp chopped parsley leaves
  • 2 tsp finely grated lemon zest
  • a large pinch of cayenne pepper
  • ½ tsp fine sea salt
  • 75g/2½oz/¾ cup gluten-free breadcrumbs
  • 1 tbsp extra virgin olive oil, plus extra for frying if needed
  • lemon wedges, to serve
  • salad, to serve
  1. Put the potatoes in a steamer and steam, covered, for 10 minutes
    or until soft. Transfer to a large bowl and mash coarsely.
  2. Mash the sardines with a fork in a mixing bowl. Add the eggs, onion, mustard, parsley, lemon zest, cayenne pepper, salt and breadcrumbs and mix well. Add to the mashed potatoes and mix until well combined. Using your hands, divide the mixture into 10 equal pieces and shape each one into a fishcake.
  3. Heat the oil in a large, heavy-based frying pan over a medium-low heat. Working in batches, carefully add the fishcakes to the pan and cook for 3 minutes on each side until browned and heated through. Repeat with the remaining fishcakes, adding more oil to the pan as needed. Serve warm with lemon wedges and salad.
  4. Sardine Purée variation for a 6–9 month old baby
    Put 4 of the sardines and 3 tablespoons water in a blender. Blend for 30 seconds, adding extra water 1 teaspoon at a time, until smooth. Serve warm.
  5. Sardine, Onion & Parsley Mix variation for a 9–12 month old baby
    Heat 1 teaspoon of the oil in a heavy-based frying pan over a low heat. Add 1 teaspoon of the onion and cook for 10 minutes until completely soft. Transfer to a blender and add 4 of the sardines, 1 teaspoon of the parsley and 3 tablespoons water. Pulse for 15 seconds, adding extra water 1 teaspoon at a time, until the mixture forms a lumpy purée. Serve warm.

Gluten-Free & Dairy-Free Cheese & Sun-Dried Tomato Muffins


I’ve been on a quest to make gluten-free baked goodies all taste wonderfully soft and moist inside. It’s hard to get the right balance of flour to liquid when you’re baking gluten-free, and cakes, cupcakes, muffins, biscuits, bread and all such things, and they can easily come out of the oven too dry and crumbly. Generally, I reckon you need to use more liquid than when cooking with flour that contains gluten, as gluten-free flours generally soak up liquid when they’re cooking. But the difficulty is that different flours and starches soak up different amounts of liquid…

In the past, I’ve sometimes had to test and retest until the recipe is right. (Peter and Zoe have never minded tasting up to 3 versions of a cake, so it hasn’t been a problem!) I would dream up the recipe in theory, and then work out how to make it. But recently I’ve been working much more instinctively, and finding that it’s a better method. I made these muffins on the spur of the moment – with ingredients from my storecupboard and fridge – and making it up as I went along. I mixed everything I thought should go in, tasted it and decided what else it needed. And I poured in the amount of dairy-free milk I was expecting to use and then just added more and more until it felt right. And you know what, these muffins worked perfectly. They came out of the oven with a lovely firm texture on the outside, and a gorgeously soft, moist inside. And they taste great. Yay! From now on, I’ve decided that I’m going to trust my instinct more – and wing it more – and see what happens…

gluten-free, wheat-free, yeast-free, nut-free (unless using nut milk), seed-free, citrus-free

Makes 6 Preparation time 15 minutes Cooking time 20 minutes


  • 100g/3½oz/heaped ½ cup rice flour
  • 50g/1¾oz/scant ½ cup gram flour
  • 50g/1¾oz/⅓ cup maize flour
  • 2 tsp gluten-free baking powder
  • ½ tsp xanthan gum
  • ½ tsp salt
  • 100g/3½oz dairy-free cheese, grated
  • 6 drained, bottled sun-dried tomatoes, finely chopped
  • 75g/2½oz dairy-free margarine
  • 2 large eggs, beaten
  • 1 tbsp tomato purée
  • 175ml/5½fl oz/scant ¾ cup dairy-free milk
  1. Preheat the oven to 180°C/350°F/gas 4 and put 6 paper muffin cases in a muffin tin.
  2. Sift in the flours, gluten-free baking powder, xanthan gum and salt into a mixing bowl and stir thoroughly. Add the dairy-free cheese and sun-dried tomatoes and mix in well.
  3. Melt the dairy-free margarine in a small saucepan over a gentle heat. Pour into another mixing bowl and whisk in the eggs, tomato purée and dairy-free milk until thoroughly mixed. stir quickly until mixed.
  4. Pour the egg mixture into the flour mixture and gently mix in with a metal spoon. Be careful not to overmix, and don’t worry if there are some lumps in the mixture. Spoon the mixture into the muffin cases.
  5. Bake for about 20 minutes until well risen, golden brown and just firm to the touch, and a skewer inserted into the centre comes out clean. Remove from the oven and eat the muffins warm or transfer them in their paper cases to a wire rack to cool.

Five Food Allergy Cookbooks on woman&

Huge thanks to woman& for voting my book Simply Gluten-Free & Dairy-Free one of the 5 best allergy cookbooks. That’s awesome! They’ve also featured books by Phil Vickery, Julia Thomas, Alice Sherwood and Pippa Kendrick so I’m in good company! They say –

“Cooking for a guest with a food intolerance? Or simply not sure where to begin when cooking from scratch? Grace Cheetham has been living with food-allergies from a young age so she understands just how daunting free-from cooking can be. She’s developed a collection of tasty classic breakfast, lunch and dinner recipes which forgo gluten and dairy but are still straightforward to make.”

Many thanks, again, woman&home!

Gluten-Free & Dairy-Free Kelp Noodles with a Chilli Lime Dressing

Last night I made a recipe from Christine Bailey’s new book The Raw Food Diet. A raw food diet is increasingly recognised as a superhealthy way to eat (and followed by many celebs, including Jennifer Aniston and Demi Moore). Raw food is basically food that hasn’t been heated above 47.7°C/118°F. It’s all about pure, unadulterated, whole food that is rich in vitamins, minerals, enzymes and phytonutrients – mainly from lots of veggies (especially green leafy ones), fruit and nuts. Processed or refined foods are out, and alkaline foods and drinks are in, especially those that are nutrient-dense, such as kale. And by not cooking any of the food above 47.7%, the valuable enzymes are preserved. Raw foodists swear that their diet improves their digestion and immune function. Many lose weight and say that their skin and hair looks much better, and that their energy levels are much higher. They also claim that it can bring relief to allergies and intolerances, as well as reducing the risk of heart disease, diabetes and other chronic conditions. You don’t have to follow a raw food diet 100% of the time. It makes sense to eat food in its natural state and devotees reckon that even if you can only eat 40-50% of your food raw, this will make a huge difference to your health and wellbeing.

I made Christine’s Kelp Noodles with a Chilli Lime Dressing. I’ve never tried kelp noodles before but I’ve been wanting to try them because they’re so good for you. Kelp noodles look and taste very similar to glass noodles and are simply made of the sea vegetable, kelp, and water. They’re beloved by many people, including raw foodists, as an alternative to pasta or noodles because they are totally unprocessed don’t need to cooking, (People looking to lose weight also love them because they’re very low in calories and carbohydrates.) Plus, kelp is a true superfood, like all sea vegetables. It’s rich in minerals, including iodine, plus enzymes, potassium, magnesium, calcium, iron and amino acids. It’s also very cleansing and detoxifying for the body.

Kelp noodles have a very mild taste and soak up flavours beautifully. In this recipe, Christine has added delicious shiitake mushrooms, red pepper and cucumber and created a strong, vibrant dish, full of punchy flavours, especially from the chilli lime dressing. This recipe uses dried kelp noodles, but I used noodles that were immersed in water and sodium alginate, so I didn’t need to soak them.

gluten-free, wheat-free, dairy-free, yeast-free, egg-free, nut-free, seed-free

Preparation time: 20 minutes plus 20 minutes soaking time     Serves: 2     Storage: will keep in the fridge for up to 1 day


  • ½ red onion, thinly sliced
  • 225g/8oz/1½ cups shiitake mushrooms, sliced
  • 1 red pepper, halved lengthways, deseeded and julienned
  • ½ cucumber, deseeded and julienned
  • 1 tbsp chopped Thai basil leaves
  • 1 tbsp chopped mint leaves
  • 1 tbsp chopped coriander leaves
  • 1 large handful baby spinach leaves
  • 350g/12oz kelp noodles (soaked for 20 minutes, then drained)

Chilli Lime Dressing:

  • 1 tbsp tamari soy sauce
  • juice of 3 limes
  • 1 tbsp xylitol
  • 1 tsp deseeded and finely chopped red chilli
  • 1 garlic clove, minced
  • 1 tbsp chopped coriander leaves
  1. Mix together all the dressing ingredients in a bowl, then chill until needed.
  2. Put the onion, mushrooms and pepper in a bowl and toss with the dressing. Leave for 10 minutes to soften. Add the rest of the ingredients and mix well.

Nutritional analysis per serving: Calories 84kcal • Protein 4.2g • Carbohydrates 16.2g • Fat 1g (of which saturates 0.2g)