Monthly Archives: January 2012

Gluten-free and Dairy-free Thin Crust Florentine Pizza

Ok this is a messy-looking pizza – but it’s truly delicious! This pizza has a gorgeously crispy crust around the sides, with a soft centre from the spinach and eggs. You need to be careful when you’re cracking the eggs onto the base but don’t stress about it – this isn’t a tidy pizza in any sense. It’s messy to look at, and messy to eat. Just enjoy the distinctive yet balanced flavours – and the fact that you’re eating a gluten-free and dairy-free thin crust pizza!

Preparation time 25 minutes     Cooking time 15 minutes, plus 1 hour rising     Serves 2

  • 150g/5½oz baby spinach
  • 4 tbsp passata
  • 1½ tbsp tomato purée
  • 3 eggs, at room temperature
  • 60g/2¼oz dairy-free cheese, shaved

Pizza Dough:

  • 85g/3oz/scant ½ cup rice flour, plus extra for rolling the dough
  • 85g/3oz/heaped ½ cup gram flour
  • 30g/1oz/scant ¼ cup maize flour
  • scant ½ tsp xanthan gum
  • ½ tsp salt
  • 1 tsp dried active yeast
  • 2 tbsp olive oil
  1. To make the pizza dough, sift the flours, xanthan gum and salt into a food processor. Add the yeast and pulse several times to mix together. Add the oil and blend well. Add 110ml/3¾fl oz/scant ½ cup warm water, a little at a time, and continue blending to form a soft dough. Process for 10 minutes, to aerate the dough Put the dough in a clean bowl, cover with cling film and leave to stand at room temperature for 1 hour until risen.
  2. Put the spinach in a steamer and heat over a high heat for 2 minutes until just starting to wilt. Transfer to a sieve and press thoroughly with the back of a metal spoon, pushing all the liquid out of the spinach. Leave to one side.
  3. Preheat the oven to 220°C/425°F/gas 7 and line a baking sheet with baking parchment. Turn the dough out again onto a lightly floured surface and knead a little, then shape into a ball. Flatten the dough slightly, roll it out into a circle about 3mm thick and trim with a knife to neaten the edges. Transfer the dough to the baking sheet.
  4. Put the passata and tomato purée in a bowl and mix well, then spread it over the dough, leaving a small space around the edge. Arrange the spinach over the top and bake for 8 minutes until the edges are starting to turn slightly golden. Remove from the oven and press 3 dips into the spinach with the back of a metal spoon, making enough room for an egg in each dip. Crack an egg and gently pour into one of the dips, trying to ensure that no egg liquid spills out of the dip. Repeat with the remaining eggs and bake for a further 8 minutes until the egg whites are cooked through. Remove from the oven, scatter the soya cheese shavings over the top and bake for a further 2 minutes until the soya cheese has melted. Serve hot.

Gluten-Free & Dairy-Free Beef & Celeriac Pie

This is comfort food at its very best. Meltingly tender beef, with delicious herbs, covered with a crispy golden crust. I recently got a tip from an amazing chef, Daniel Galmiche – to rub the herbs between your fingers before using them. This releases the aromas and flavours even more and gives you a moment of pure bliss as you anticipate the eating!

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

Serves 4     Preparation time 25 minutes, plus 30 minutes chilling the pastry     Cooking time 45–50 minutes



  • 100g/3½oz/heaped ½ cup rice flour
  • 50g/1¾oz/scant ½ cup gram flour
  • 50g/1¾oz/⅓ cup maize flour
  • ½ tsp sea salt, crushed
  • 1 tsp xanthan gum
  • 125g/4½oz chilled dairy-free margarine, diced
  • 1 large egg, beaten


  • 3 tbsp olive oil
  • 1 onion, finely chopped
  • 2 garlic cloves, crushed
  • 500g/1lb 2 oz casserole steak, fat removed and cut into bite-sized pieces
  • 2 tbsp rice flour
  • 1 small celeriac, about 600g, trimmed, peeled and finely diced
  • 1 bay leaf
  • 1 tbsp finely chopped thyme leaves
  • 1 tbsp finely chopped rosemary leaves
  • 350ml/12fl oz/scant 1½ cups gluten-free & dairy-free beef stock
  • dairy-free margarine, for greasing
  • sea salt and freshly ground black pepper
  1. To make the filling, heat 1 tablespoon of the oil in a large heavy-based frying pan or wok over a medium heat and add the onion. Fry for about 3–4 minutes until starting to turn golden, then add the garlic and fry for about 30 seconds. Remove with a slotted spoon and leave to one side. Roll the steak in the rice flour then add the remaining 2 tablespoons olive oil to the pan and heat over a medium-high heat. Add the steak and cook, stirring occasionally, for 5–6 minutes until lightly browned. Return the onion and garlic to the pan, add the celeriac, herbs and stock and season lightly with salt and pepper. Cover with a lid, bring to the boil over a high heat, then turn the heat down to low and leave to simmer gently for 1 hour until the beef is tender.
  2. Meanwhile, to make the pastry, sift the flours, salt and xanthan gum into the bowl of a food processor with the dough blade attached and blend to mix together. Add the dairy-free margarine and blend until the mixture resembles fine breadcrumbs. Add the egg and blend for 20–30 seconds until the mixture comes together to form a sticky dough. There should be a little extra moisture at the base of the bowl. If it is too dry, gradually blend in 1–2 tablespoons chilled water. If too sticky, add a little rice flour.
  3. Shape the pastry into a ball, wrap it in cling film and chill in the fridge for 30 minutes.
  4. When the beef is almost ready, preheat the oven to 200°C/400°F/Gas 6 and grease a medium-sized casserole dish, about 1.5 litres size, with dairy-free margarine. Liberally dust a large chopping board with rice flour and roll out the pastry into a shape about 3mm/1/8in thick and 3cm/1¼in wider than the casserole dish. Be careful as the pastry will still be slightly sticky.
  5. Remove the bay leaf from the filling and transfer into the casserole dish. Ease the pastry onto the top of the casserole and cover the filling. If the dough seems too fragile to lift, simply turn the chopping board over to drop the pastry onto the casserole. Press the edges of the dough down gently around the edges and neaten the edges with a sharp knife. Cut a small cross in the centre to let the steam out.
  6. Bake for 35–40 minutes until the pastry is a rich, golden brown and serve hot.

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.

Christmas and New Year in Sydney

We’re just back from a fantastic trip to Sydney to spend Christmas with Peter’s family. Many of them hadn’t met Zoe so it was wonderful to introduce her to her aunts, uncles and cousins and for her to see her grandmother again. Peter’s mother lives in the Northern Beaches (great for surfing), on the edge of a cliff, overlooking the sea. The views of the sea are awesome and you go to sleep listening to the sound of the waves. Zoe and I played on the beach and swam in the rock pools, and Peter got some good surfs in. Heavenly!

We travelled via Seoul where we stayed for 2 days on the way out. We loved Seoul – an intriguing mixture of vibrant yet gentle; with modern skyscrapers, rammed markets and street stalls, mixed with centuries-old palaces and alleyways.

We stayed in Insadong, the art/craft centre of the capital. Full of teashops, restaurant, art galleries, boutiques and shops, it was enticing and very friendly. Here Zoe used chopsticks for the first time, and I tried various types of the fiery side dish, Kimchi and a couple of versions of the iconic dish, Bibimbap. I was amazed by just how different these could be. Traditionally this is made with rice, vegetables, beef and an egg on top (usually in a claypot dish) but I had one version that had raw vegetables, no egg and some prawns. I prefer the traditional version, with the slightly crunchy rice and the beef and egg mixed in but it was interesting to try different versions.

Then onto Sydney where we went to parties, met up with friends, spent time with the family and generally just relaxed and had a great time! We ate wonderful Sydney food – including delicious seafood, gorgeously ripe mangoes, fantastic barbecues, amazing sushi and Thai take-aways and great gluten-free goodies such as cakes and muffins, The highlights were a trip to Bondi to sample the funky bars that are opening up everywhere, due to a change in licensing laws; breakfast on Bronte beach; New Year’s Eve spent on a boat on the harbour watching the fireworks; Christmas on Freshwater beach and my birthday on Palm beach. Hahhhh….

We’re back now, battling with jet lag and the cold, windy weather that has blown part of our garden fence down. And back to work – with great memories of a wonderful Christmas 2011 and beginning of 2012. Happy New Year – I hope 2012 brings you everything you hope for!