All posts by gracecheetham

Gluten-Free & Dairy-Free Pad Thai

Pad Thai

One of the most well-known Thai dishes, Pad Thai is a wonderful street food meal. It’s incredibly simple to make and can be whizzed up in minutes. But it’s easy to get it wrong. Too much sugar, too little lime juice, or lacklustre prawns are a commonplace failing. Here I’ve added just a small amount of sweetness, along with a good amount of spiciness and saltiness. And I’ve used spring onions and beansprouts but then also added sprouted seeds, including mung beans, chickpea sprouts and lentil sprouts – for added munchiness and a good dollop of nutrients. Fast food doesn’t need to be junk food – and this dish proves it in one fell scoop.

Serves 4     Preparation time 5 minutes     Cooking time 8 minutes

Ingredients:

500g/1lb 2oz rice noodles
1 red chilli, deseeded and roughly chopped
4 garlic cloves
3cm/1¼in piece of root ginger, peeled and roughly chopped
1 tsp shrimp paste
3 tbsp olive oil
8 spring onions, white part only, finely sliced
4 tbsp fish sauce
1½ tbsp fruit sugar or caster sugar
200g/7oz/2 cups beansprouts
200g/7oz sprouted seeds, such as mung bean, chickpea and lentil
400g/14oz cooked large prawns
2 eggs, beaten
juice 2 limes
banana leaves, to serve (optional)
100g/3½oz/⅔ cup peanuts, to serve
2 large handfuls of coriander leaves, chopped, to serve
tamari soy sauce, to serve

1. Put the noodles in a large heatproof bowl, cover with boiling water and leave to stand for 5 minutes or until soft. Drain well.
2. Meanwhile, put the chilli, garlic, ginger and shrimp paste in a mini food processor or spice mill and blend until finely chopped.
3. Heat the oil in a large wok over a medium-high heat until hot. Add the chilli mixture and stir-fry for 30 seconds. Add the spring onions and stir-fry for a further minute until they soften. Pour the fish sauce in and sprinkle the sugar over. Add the beansprouts, sprouted seeds and prawns and stir-fry for 2–3 minutes until cooked through but the vegetables are still slightly crunchy.
4. Push the ingredients to one side of the pan, add the egg to the other side and stir-fry the egg until cooked. Mix the egg into the other ingredients and add the cooked noodles and stir thoroughly to mix everything in. Add the lime juice and stir through. Serve immediately (on banana leaves if you like) with the peanuts and coriander scattered over, and with tamari sauce on the side.

Gluten-free & Dairy-Free Chia Seed Super Salad

Chia seed salad

The sun is streaming into the kitchen and it feels great to be making hot-weather food. Step forward salads – with zingy, fresh ingredients and clean, clear tastes. Making food in this heat becomes as simple as putting some ingredients in a bowl. And when it’s this simple, it’s supereasy to make healthy, nutrient-packed meals.

This salad is full of antioxidant-rich veggies. But the stars of the bowl are the chia seeds. They are literally bursting with vitamins, minerals and the highest amount of omega-3 in any fruit or vegetable. You can use chia seeds to thicken stews, soups, juices and smoothies, to bind flour mixtures together as a substitute for eggs when baking, but also very simply to sprinkle into stir-frys and salads. Ahhh, sunshine and superfoods – a wonderful combination!

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

Serves 4     Preparation time 10 minutes

Ingredients:

  • 150g/5½oz mixed salad leaves
  • ½ cucumber, peeled and halved lengthways
  • 2 carrots, cut into thin matchsticks
  • ½ red, orange or yellow pepper, deseeded and sliced into thin matchsticks
  • 2 spring onions, white part finely sliced
  • 1 small handful of mint leaves, finely chopped
  • 1 handful of coriander leaves, finely chopped
  • 2 tbsp chia seeds

Dressing:

  • juice of 1 lime
  • 1 tbsp tamari soy sauce
  • 2 tbsp sesame oil
  • 1 tbsp olive oil
  1. To make the dressing, mix together the ingredients in a small jug.
  2. Using a teaspoon, deseed the cucumber by running the spoon down the centre of the cucumber. Discard the seeds and cut the cucumber into thin matchsticks. Put the cucumber and the remaining vegetables into a serving bowl and mix thoroughly. Add the dressing and the herbs and mix in gently. Sprinkle the seeds over the top and serve.

Gluten-Free & Dairy-Free at Ceviche

Ceviche ceviche

Ceviche opened last year to great reviews – and with it, Peruvian food hit the culinary map in London. The small dishes, bold, stunning flavours and buzzy atmosphere (and apparently the cocktails are great, but I went at lunchtime…) has ensured that the restaurant has been packed ever since. And for gluten-free folk, Peruvian food has the added attraction of being the homeplace of quinoa (yep, that’s where quinoa originated). Step in and mention that you’re gluten-free and/or dairy-free and they don’t bat an eyelid. Our waitress went through the menu methodically, and even gave me a marked-up menu of what I could and couldn’t have.

True to its name, the main star of the restaurant is Peru’s national dish of fish marinated in lime, salt and chilli. You’ll find Don Ceviche (seabass marinated in amarillo chilli tiger’s milk), Wasabi Ceviche (seabass in wasabi tiger’s milk), Chacalón (mushroom and sweet potato), Alianza Lima (mixed seabass, mussels, prawns and octopus), Drunk Scallops (king scallops marinated in pisco, the Peruvian white brandy) – all of which are gluten-free and dairy-free. (And there’s also Sakura Maru, but that’s salmon with soy sauce.) I had the Don Ceviche (mainly because I loved the sound of the name) and it was completely delicious. Wonderful bold, punchy flavours explode in your mouth – and the combination of citrus with spicy notes works brilliantly with the firm yet tenderized fish.

Ceviche salmon

But it’s not all about ceviche. On the menu you’ll also find South American staples such as plantain chips and corn bites, as well as rice and potato cake dishes, all of which are g-f and d-f. Then there are Grilled Skewer dishes (I had the Salmón Rosado which was a lovely combination of marinated salmon with a sweet cucumber and rocoto pepper pickle salad) – and these, too, are all g-f and d-f. And there are hot dishes such as Lomo Saltado (beef fillet, flame cooked) and Arroz con Pato (confit duck in coriander rice) – but beware of these as they all contain dairy and/or gluten.

Ceviche quinoa

The star, for me, though, was the Ensalada de Quinoa. Seemingly a simple salad of quinoa, tomatoes, avocado, butter beans and coriander with lime and limo chilli vinaigrette, it was a brilliant marriage of textures and flavours. And when it arrived, it looked extremely pretty. The roughly-blended avocadoes provided a soft base to the mixed textures of the quinoa, tomatoes, beans, onion and coriander. And the mingling of the sour, spicy and sweet tastes of the lime/limo and chilli vinaigrette were fantastic. In fact, it’s worth going to Ceviche, just for this dish alone!

You’ll find Ceviche at 17 Frith Street, Soho. They also run masterclasses. And this summer Ceviche goes on tour. Starting on July 1st the team will be taking Ceviche in a ten date tour visiting restaurants and locations including The Ethicurean near Bristol, Mark Greenaway in Edinburgh, Rick Stein’s Padstow Seafood School, Moshimo in Brighton, The River Café in North Shields and Mr Scruff’s Teacup on Thomas St in Manchester among others.

Gluten-Free & Dairy-Free Intermittent Fasting

EFS Salmon Quinoa

Intermittent fasting hit the headlines last year, and hit fever pitch when Horizon broadcasted a programme by Dr Michael Mosley called Eat, Fast and Live Longer, which was watched by two and a half million people. IF is based on the premise that short periods of fasting enable you to shift weight and change shape – but the really incredible thing is that apparently it can radically transform your health as well. Scientific research shows that this age-old practice (dating back to the Ancient Greeks, as well as yogic traditions) of fasting for short breaks of time lowers the levels of a hormone called IGF-1 (Insulin-Like Growth Factor) and, in doing so, protects you from some of the major diseases, including cancer. It has also been shown that IF has potent anti-ageing benefits, and helps reduce inflammation which, in turn, helps with conditions such as eczema and asthma.

It’s a diet that is extremely easy to put into practice. There are 3 types of IF. You can follow the 16/8 plan – and eat healthily for 8 hours and fast for 16 (in other words either skip breakfast or dinner). Or you can try the 5/2 plan – and eat healthily for 5 days of the week and follow a 500-calorie diet for the other two. The final plan is the most full-on and least popular of all the plans – whereby you fast for one day and then eat healthily for the next. This is called alternate day fasting.

Sounds simple? It is! And that’s probably the main reason why it has become so popular so quickly. You choose the plan that seems right for you and then simply fast when you’re meant to. And when you’re not fasting, you eat healthily. A few IF diet books have been published recently, including one called Eat, Fast, Slim by Amanda Hamilton. The beauty of Amanda’s book is that she shows you all the types of fasting but also shows you how to ensure it’s a superhealthy diet for you. It’s important to ensure that you balance the types of food you’re eating, and especially that you get enough protein and nutrients during the plan. Amanda explains the diets, and explains what you’ll get out of them. And then gives you Fasting Plans and a whole load of mouth-watering recipes.

I tried the Grilled Salmon with Harissa Quinoa and it was delicious. The lime-zesty salmon along with the harissa-spicy quinoa was a great combination. And the colours and textures of the food were lovely. Hmmm I think I might even try this IF dieting!

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

Serves 1     Preparation time 5 minutes     Cooking time 15 minutes

Ingredients:

  • 140g/5oz salmon fillet
  • zest and juice of ½ lime
  • 40g/1½oz/scant ¼ cup quinoa
  • 1 tsp olive oil, plus extra for brushing
  • 3 spring onions, white part only, thinly sliced
  • ¾ courgette, diced
  • 1 tsp harissa paste
  • 2 tbsp chopped coriander leaves
  • lime wedge, to serve
  1. Put the salmon on a plate and rub the lime zest over the flesh, then sprinkle with half the lime juice. Cover with cling film and leave to marinate at room temperature for 5 minutes.
  2. Put the quinoa in a sieve and rinse well under cold running water. Put it in a saucepan and cover with 160ml/5¼fl oz/2⁄3 cup boiling water. Bring to the boil, then reduce the heat and simmer for 15 minutes.
  3. Brush the grill rack with oil and preheat the grill to medium. Put the salmon on the grill rack and grill for 5–6 minutes on each side or until cooked through and the flesh is opaque.
  4. Meanwhile, heat the oil in a nonstick frying pan over medium heat. Add the spring onions, courgette and harissa paste, and cook for 2–3 minutes, stirring frequently, until the vegetables start to soften. Remove the pan from the heat, add the quinoa and its cooking liquid and toss to coat with the harissa. Cover with a lid and leave to stand for 5 minutes or until all the liquid has been absorbed, then fluff up with a fork and stir in the coriander and remaining lime juice.
  5. Serve the salmon with the quinoa and a lime wedge on the side for squeezing over.

Gluten-Free & Dairy-Free Mexican Food at Wahaca

wahaca beef tacos

wahaca chicken tostadas

wahaca salad

Recently Wahaca has been focusing on street food. The signs outside the restaurants shout it out, the menus are built around it, and they even bring you Street food specials (with 20p going towards street kids in Mexico City).

Street food is nothing new. The population of Asia, South America and the Middle East have all been eating food bought from stalls on the road or street for centuries. In fact, there’s even evidence of street food way back in Ancient Rome (because the urban poor didn’t have kitchens of their own). And in truth, we’ve been eating things like sandwiches and pasties in Britain for yonks, too. But street food is now officially designated a ‘hot trend’. And who best to fill us up with delectable dishes, singing with fiery flavours, than Wahaca?

For gluten-free and dairy-free folk, Wahaca is a good choice. I went to the restaurant on Charlotte Street and our waiter was brilliant – he consulted the crib sheet carefully and one by one, went through the menu ticking off what we could eat. He was reassuring and immensely helpful.

I went for the Chicken Guajillo Tostadas. Two crisp tortillas piled high with chunks of chicken marinated in a chipotle dressing, layered with crunchy salad mix, guacamole, salsa fresca and thier smoky guajillo oil. I’m typing this from the menu but it’s all true. The corn tortillas (and wow, it’s great to be able to eat a tortilla as even the corn ones usually have wheat in them) were crispy, and they were piled high with tender chicken and all the components of this great dish. The freshly-made guacamole was lovely, as was the chipotle dressing, salsa and guajillo oil. This is layers of flavours – all mouth-tingling and full-on. I ordered, too, the Grilled British Steak (yay, British!) Tacos. The menu tells me this is three soft corn tortillas with the steak and chipotle salsa. The steak was delicious – good beef, cooked well, and it was excellent as a follow-on from the chicken, especially because the tortillas were different, as they were soft this time. (And I’m loving the chipotle theme, by the way…) My final choice (as in most sharing dishes places three plates is definitely enough per person) wasn’t nearly as exciting, though. The Corn and Bean Salad had good ingredients (including pumpkin seeds) but the sum, unfortunately, wasn’t as good as the parts.

But I’ll come back – and very soon, too. There’s the Green Rice (blitzed with coriander, onion and garlic), the Spicy Slaw (with a chipotle dressing) and the Fish a la Pimienta (an onion, black pepper, lime and pumpkin seed sauce) that I want to try. And next time, too, I want to make it upstairs to the very, very funky bar, and try some of the tequila (I’m thinking the Don Julio which tastes, apparently, smooth, honey and of dark chocolate.)