Tag Archives: chilli

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.

The Free-From Food Awards Shortlist (and Slim Noodles and Zero Noodles)

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The Free-From Food Awards Shortlist has just been published. Set up six years ago by Michelle Berriedale-Johnson of freefromfoodsmatter.com, these Awards celebrate the innovation and imagination shown by the food industry in creating foods for the free-from market (ie foods that do not include one or more of wheat, gluten, dairy products, eggs, yeast, soya and sugar.) It’s worth mentioning the website Foods Matter here… Originally a magazine offering information and support both to food allergic/intolerant consumers and to the health professionals caring for them, it went on-line in 2010 and has become the most awesome reference site for people with food allergies/intolerances or coeliac disease (logging over 13 million hits per year!)

I took part in the judging for a day and was hugely impressed with the whole process. There were 11 of us that day and we blind-tasted every entry in our categories in silence, making notes and scoring each one out of ten. Once we had finished, we discussed every entry and then came to our conclusions as a group. This done, we could look at who had produced what. During the day I was there, we covered Breakfast Cereals and Grocery Ambient, including pastas, sauces and condiments.

It was great to taste so many of the entries. Some of them (especially some from outside Britain) I hadn’t come across before. And it was fascinating to sit there, tasting pasta after pasta, cereal after cereal etc against each other. The variety of ingredients, and combinations of those – and the resulting tastes and textures – were really interesting. The results of the awards will be announced in April…

One of the products we tasted was especially interesting. Shortlisted for the Pasta Award, the Slim Noodles were a subject of a great deal of discussion. Recently launched, it is gluten-free and it claims to deliver not only a feeling of fullness, but also an unbelievably low calorie content (7.7 calories per 100g serving). Made from a vegetable extract called Konjac (or Konnyaku) which has apparently been eaten in Asia for centuries because of its health benefits, it expands in your stomach, leading to the sensation of being full for up to four hours. Zero fat, zero sugar, low-calorie and low-carb, it’s currently being hailed (along with a very similar product called Zero Noodles which is made of exactly the same ingredient) as the answer to weight loss for many, many people. What’s more, independent studies apparently show that it can help increase insulin in your blood sugar levels, making it great for diabetics, and can help lower cholesterol. Wow!

Slim and Zero Noodles

Slim Noodles comes in three different guises – Slim Pasta, Slim Rice and Slim Noodles. The Slim Noodles – and Zero Noodles – look very similar to glass noodles and thin rice noodles in that they are white-coloured and very thin. They have a slightly rubbery texture (the Slim Noodles I find more so than the Zero Noodles) and almost no taste. I tested these at home this weekend with a recipe (see below) and they both worked really well with noodle-style recipes, such as stir-frys and Asian-style dishes. I haven’t tasted the Slim Rice yet but the Slim Pasta was very similar to Slim Noodles – just thicker, apparently more like a pasta-shape. I’m not convinced about the concept of Slim Pasta, though, as it doesn’t work for me as something that would work with pasta sauces, such as tomato-based sauces, and there was a slightly ‘fishy’ aroma to these, I thought.

You’ll find both the Slim Noodles and Zero Noodles in health food stores. In Holland & Barrett the Slim Noodles sell for £2.49 and the Zero Noodles (organic) for £1.99. They’re the same size – so go for the cheaper Zero Noodles if you’re looking to try the product!

Asian-fish Zero Noodles

Steamed Asia-Style Fish with Zero Noodles

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

Serves 2     Preparation time 10 minutes, plus at least 1 hour marinating time     Cooking time 12–15 minutes

Ingredients:

  • 2 fish fillets, such as salmon, trout or cod
  • 2 large salad onions or 6 spring onions, white part finely chopped
  • stir-fry vegetables, such as beansprouts, pak choi

Marinade:

  • 2cm/¾in piece fresh ginger, peeled and finely chopped
  • 2 large garlic cloves, finely chopped
  • 1 lemongrass stick, finely chopped
  • 1 large red chilli, deseeded and finely chopped
  • 2 large handfuls of coriander leaves, finely chopped
  • 3 tbsp olive oil
  • 2 tbsp Thai fish sauce
  • 2 tbsp tamari soy sauce
  • juice of 2 limes
  • 1 serving of Zero Noodles, to serve
  1. Put the fish in a shallow, non-metallic dish. Mix together all the marinade ingredients in a bowl or jug and pour over the tuna. Cover with a lid or cling film and leave to marinate in the fridge for at least 1 hour, preferably longer.
  2. Spoon the marinade into a large wok and heat over a medium-high heat. Cook for 2–3 minutes until the onion starts to soften and turn translucent. Add the vegetables and then place the fish on the top. Cover with a lid and steam for about 10 minutes, until the fish is cooked through. Serve hot with the prepared Zero Noodles.

Gluten-Free & Dairy-Free Asian-Style Poached Chicken & Pak Choi – in a Slow Cooker

Bev's Slow Cooker chicken

Recently I worked with Beverly le Blanc on her brilliant new book, I Love My Slow Cooker, which was published last month. She very kindly gave me one of the slow cookers she’d bought to do all the testing and didn’t need any longer (many thanks, Bev!!) so I’ve been having a lovely time trying out lots of the recipes from her book. My mother didn’t have a slow cooker, and I’d never tried one before, so it was all new to me. But oh wow, are slow cookers great!

The back of I Love My Slow Cooker says “Discover how your slow cooker can transform your life in the kitchen from a frantic, stressful time into a wonderfully calm one”. Sounds like a big claim, doesn’t it? Well I wrote that so now I need to back up my words! Trust me, though, it’s true! I work full-time and my husband stays at home (doing cartoons for The Guardian), so he collects Zoё from school and makes her evening meal for her. For me, one of the fantastic things about the slow cooker is that I can quickly put a recipe together in the cooker before I leave the house in the morning, and by dinner time it can be ready and waiting for Peter to dish up for her. It’s easy to make stews and casseroles that are healthy and full of delicious flavours, that warm Zoё up in this cold weather and give her a lovely comforting meal. The slow cooker can then keep the meal warm until I get home from work and Peter and I tuck in. Great. Truly great. But then you’ve probably heard that sort of story from lots of people…

What you probably haven’t heard is how slow cookers are wonderful for making a whole variety of dishes. Yes, of course, soups, stews and sauces. They’re great, too, for cheap cuts of meat (which you can cook for numerous hours until meltingly tender) and dried beans (which you can leave to bubble away without worrying about them going mushy). But they’re also brilliant for cooking fish. Whether you’re cooking a fish stew fairly quickly, or cooking something like squid on a low heat over several hours, you’ll find that the fish cooks perfectly and doesn’t overcook. And what’s more, the slow, gentle, steam cooking can create superb puddings, too. No need to mess about doing a bain-marie method – you can just put it in a slow cooker.

I have some firm favourites already from this book. And one of them is this Asian-Style Poached Chicken & Pak Choi. I’ve adapted the recipe slightly so that it’s completely gluten-free and dairy-free. But basically, you put a whole chicken in the slow cooker, add the Asian-style ingredients, and 4 hours later it’s bubbling away, ready to be served. I serve it with coconut rice because Zoё loves that (I do equal parts coconut milk and water and a few coriander leaves in at the end) and often add more veggies to the pot. It’s a lovely family meal but it also gets lots of oohs and aahs when people come round.

gluten-free, dairy-free, egg-free, nut-free, seed-free, citrus-free

Serves 4–6     Preparation time 10 minutes     Cooking time 4 hours

Ingredients:

  • a few coriander sprigs, with crushed stalks, plus extra leaves to serve
  • 2 onions, 1 halved and 1 sliced
  • 1 oven-ready chicken, about 1.5kg/3lb 5oz, any fat in the cavity removed
  • 600ml/21fl oz/scant 2½ cups gluten-free and dairy-free chicken stock, boiling, plus extra if needed
  • 125ml/4fl oz/½ cup tamari soy sauce, plus extra to taste
  • 4 tbsp rice wine
  • 4 garlic cloves, sliced
  • 2.5cm/1in piece of galangal or ginger, sliced
  • 1 dried red Thai chilli, deseeded if you like
  • 2 spring onions, thinly sliced
  • 2 pak choi, quartered
  • ground Szechuan pepper or freshly ground black pepper
  • cooked long-grain rice, to serve
  1. Put an upturned heatproof saucer in the slow cooker. (Check that the chicken will be able to sit on top of the saucer with the cooker lid in place.) Preheat the covered cooker on HIGH.
  2. Put the coriander and halved onion in the chicken’s cavity and season with pepper. Secure the opening with wooden cocktail sticks. Put the chicken in the cooker, breast-side down, then pour over the stock, tamari  and rice wine. Add extra stock to fill the container, if necessary, leaving a 2.5cm/1in gap at the top of the pot. The chicken will not be completely covered with liquid. Push the sliced onion, garlic, galangal and chilli into the liquid.
  3. Cover the cooker with the lid. Cook on HIGH for 3¾ hours until the juices from the chicken run clear when the thickest part of the meat is pierced with the tip of a sharp knife or skewer. Remove the chicken from the cooker, wrap in foil and leave to rest for about 10 minutes. Meanwhile, put the spring onions and pak choi in the cooker, re-cover and cook for a further 20 minutes until the pak choi is tender. Remove the pak choi from the cooker, and wrap in the foil with the chicken.
  4. Pour the cooking liquid into a saucepan and bring to the boil, then boil vigorously for at least 3 minutes until reduced. Add a little more tamari and pepper, if you like. Remove the skin from the chicken and carve. Strain the cooking liquid, discarding the solids. Sprinkle the chicken with coriander and serve with the cooking liquid, pak choi and rice.

Gluten-Free & Dairy-Free Spicy Cauliflower Fritters

Cauliflower works brilliantly with bold, spicy flavours. Its delicate taste and texture when cooked just soaks them in. And it’s a lovely firm vegetable that is substantial – making it a great addition to a gluten-free kitchen.

Here I’ve mixed up a batter, using rice flour, gram flour and cornflour, and then sparkling water as the Japanese do in their tempura recipes to make the batter light. I’ve seasoned the batter with salt and ground chilli, cumin, turmeric and coriander – making them quite fiery. But if you’d like them less full-on, just halve the quantities of those spices. And then I’ve made a coriander-yogurt to dip them into.

gluten-free, dairy-free, yeast-free, nut-free, seed-free, citrus-free

Makes 12 large or about 20 small fritters     Preparation time 10 minutes     Cooking time 10 minutes

  • 1 cauliflower
  • 100g/3½oz/heaped ½ cup rice flour
  • 50g/1¾oz/scant ½ cup gram flour
  • 100g/3½oz cornflour
  • ½ tsp crushed sea salt
  • 2 tsp ground mild chilli
  • 1 tsp ground turmeric
  • 1 tsp ground cumin
  • 1 tsp ground coriander
  • 1 garlic clove, crushed
  • 2 large eggs, beaten
  • 150ml/5fl/oz fizzy water
  • 2 large handfuls chopped coriander leaves
  • at least 250ml/9fl oz/1 cup rapeseed oil or olive oil, for frying

Coriander yogurt:

  • 300ml/10½fl oz/scant 1¼ cups dairy-free soya yogurt
  • 1 large handful finely chopped coriander leaves
  • sea salt
  1. Break the cauliflower into small florets. Put into a steamer and steam over a high heat for 4–5 minutes until the thicker stalks are tender but the cauliflower still has a firm texture.
  2. Sift the flours into a large mixing bowl and stir in the salt and spices. Make a well in the centre of the flour mixture and add the garlic, egg and fizzy water. Beat slowly with a wooden spoon to draw in the flours to make a smooth batter. Stir in the steamed cauliflower and, using the spoon, mash the cauliflower up into small pieces then add the coriander and mix in well.
  3. Heat enough oil in a large frying pan to deep fry the fritters over a medium heat until hot. Spoon a couple of large spoonfuls or a few small spoonfuls, depending on the size of fritters you want, into the pan and cook for 1–2 minutes on each side or until golden. Remove from the pan with a slotted spoon and put on a pile of kitchen paper to remove any excess oil.
  4. Repeat with the remaining batter, keeping the cooked fritters warm. Serve hot with the Coriander Yogurt.

Asian-Style Kale


The truth is that I don’t like kale normally. Try as I might, it tastes bitter and unappealing to me. But I know it’s packed with nutrients and fantastically good for you. And it’s wonderfully cheap. So I’ve been experimenting with different flavours to add to it and I think I’ve come up with a winning formula! Bursting with fresh, fiery tastes, this Asian-style version can be served with rice for a light lunch or as a side dish with, say, steamed fish and rice. Enjoy!

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

Serves 1 as a main course or 2 as a side dish     Preparation time 5 minutes      Cooking time 5 minutes

Ingredients:

  • 1 tbsp toasted sesame oil
  • 1 tbsp olive oil
  • 1 lemongrass stalk, finely sliced
  • 1cm/½in piece of root ginger, peeled and finely chopped
  • ½ red chilli, deseeded and finely chopped
  • 1 garlic clove, crushed
  • 200g/7oz kale, chopped
  • 1 tbsp rice wine vinegar
  • 1 tbsp agave syrup
  • 1–2 tbsp tamari soy sauce
  1. Heat both of the oils in a wok or large frying pan over a high heat. Add the lemongrass, ginger, chilli and then the garlic and stir-fry for 1 minute, then add the kale and stir-fry for about 2 minutes until the kale is starting to look cooked.
  2. Mix together the rice wine vinegar, agarve syrup and 1 tablespoon of the tamari and pour into the pan. Cook, stirring, for another 1–2 minutes until all of the kale is cooked but remains quite crunchy. Check the seasoning and add the other tablespoon of tamari if you like. Serve hot.