Monthly Archives: June 2012

Gluten-Free & Dairy-Free Edamame, Broad Bean & Mint Risotto

This one is a super easy version of a risotto. Forget standing at the hob stirring – all you do is fry the leeks and garlic, steam the beans, add all the ingredients and put it in the oven to cook. Brilliant! The creaminess of the risotto comes not from patient, methodical stirring but from adding soya cream cheese in at the end. This makes a deliciously fresh yet comforting meal that makes the most of summer veggies and also stars the superfood, edamame.

Edamame beans are young soya beans (which grow in pods.) They are a fantastic source of protein and also of iron and fibre, and they also contain vitamins A and C, folic acid, calcium and omega-3. In this recipe there’s also mint, which is well known for its soothing effects on the gut. It is particularly good for relieving wind, calming indigestion and regulating bowel movements, which will help many people with food intolerances, and can also help to ease muscle spasms that are associated with IBS.

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

Serves 4     Preparation time 15 minutes     Cooking time 35 minutes

  • 2 tbsp olive oil
  • 2 leeks, finely chopped
  • 1 large garlic clove, crushed
  • 350g/12oz/1⅔ cup risotto rice
  • 800ml/28fl oz/scant 3¼ cups gluten-free and dairy-free vegetable stock
  • 300ml/10½fl oz/scant1¼ cups dry white wine
  • grated zest of 1 lemon
  • 200g/7oz frozen edamame beans
  • 600g/1lb 5oz broad beans in their pods, or 150g/5½oz frozen broad beans
  • 1 small handful mint leaves, finely chopped, plus a few sprigs for cooking
  • 2 tbsp lemon juice
  • 5–6 tbsp soya cream cheese, to taste
  1. Preheat the oven to 200˚C/400°F/Gas 6. Heat the oil in a heavy-based saucepan over a medium heat and fry the leeks for 2–3 minutes until soft. Stir in the garlic and cook for about 30 seconds then add the rice and stir well, covering the grains of rice with oil.
  2. Transfer the rice mixture to a large ovenproof dish and add the stock, wine and lemon zest. Stir well, cover with greaseproof paper or foil and bake for 30 minutes.
  3. Meanwhile, put the edamame and broad beans in a steamer, add the mint sprigs and steam, covered, over a high heat for 4–5 minutes until tender. Remove and discard the mint. Rinse the beans under cold running water, then drain well and leave to cool. If you’re using fresh broad beans, remove and discard the skins from the beans by squeezing them until the beans pop out of the skins. (Of course, you don’t have to do this if you don’t have the time – but they will taste better, if you do.)
  4. When the risotto has baked for 30 minutes, remove from the oven, stir thoroughly, add the beans and bake for a further 10 minutes.
  5. Stir in the lemon juice, mint and soya cream cheese and mix well until smooth and creamy. Serve hot.

Gluten-Free & Dairy-Free Quinoa with Beetroot, Fennel & Puy Lentils


One of the brilliant things about this dish is that the beetroot is soft and sweet. I usually either roast or juice beetroots but when I roasted some the other day, they came out of the oven really dry and uninspiring. So this dish started because I wanted to poach the beetroots and get a lovely tender result. Fennel seemed a natural partner because, although it takes on the colour of the beetroot, it keeps its beautiful aniseed taste – so when you add the wonderfully rich soya cheese, this dish becomes a great collection of flavours, rather than just a mixture. The flavours soak into the quinoa, making this supergrain delicious and the puy lentils give it some bite.

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


  • 150g/5½oz/heaped 1 cup quinoa
  • 200g/7oz/1 cup puy lentils
  • 2 tbsp olive oil
  • 2 fennel bulbs, trimmed and cut into quarters
  • 3 beetroots, peeled and cut into 8 wedges
  • 2 garlic cloves, crushed
  • 250ml/9fl oz/1 cup gluten- and dairy-free stock
  • 2 tbsp chopped thyme leaves
  • 100g/3½oz soya cheese, crumbled
  • sea salt and black pepper (optional)
  1. Rinse the lentils thoroughly and put them in a large bowl. Cover with water and leave to soak overnight or for at least 12 hours, then drain, rinse well and drain again.
  2. Put the lentils in a saucepan and cover with cold water. Bring to the boil over a medium heat, then turn the heat down to low and leave to simmer for 40 minutes until soft. Drain and transfer to a large serving bowl.
  3. Meanwhile, heat the oil in a large, heavy-based saucepan over a medium-low heat. Add the fennel, cover the pan with a lid and cook, shaking occasionally, for about 5 minutes until the fennel is starting to brown. Add in the garlic and fry for about 30 seconds, then add the beetroot slices, making sure that everything sits on the base of the pan. Pour in the stock, add the thyme, and season lightly if you want. Turn the heat up and bring to the boil, then turn the heat down and leave to simmer for about 40 minutes, until the beetroot is tender.
  4. Meanwhile, put the quinoa in a sieve and rinse well. Transfer to a saucepan and pour over 250ml/9fl oz/1 cup cold water. Bring to the boil over a medium heat, then turn the heat down to low and leave to simmer for 15–20 minutes until the quinoa is tender and the water has been absorbed. If there is any water left, drain the quinoa thoroughly. Transfer to the serving bowl and mix together with the puy lentils.
  5. Heap the cooked fennel and beetroot on top of the quinoa and puy lentil mixture, taking care not to break up the fennel when taking it out of the pan. Scatter the cheese on top and serve either hot or cold.

Gluten-Free & Dairy-Free Hummus – from Bethany Kehdy

This weekend I visited Bethany Kehdy, a food writer and blogger ( who also leads culinary tours across Lebanon and organises Food Blogger Connect, a conference and forum for food bloggers. Peter, Zoë and I had some wonderful meals and ate some beautiful ingredients that Bethany has brought back from her father’s farm in Lebanon, including gorgeous olives and some incredible preserved sheep fat (the brown topping on the hummus on the right) that tasted really delicious. Thank you so much, Bethany, for a wonderful time!

I’ve come back from Bethany’s knowing much, much more about hummus, one of her favourite dishes. What I didn’t know is that hummus actually means in Arabic is chickpea, and that what we usually call hummus is called hummus b’tahini, meaning ‘with tahini’ in Lebanon and the Middle East. This is the one that’s creamy and smooth and Bethany’s was truly delicious. Unlike shop-bought ones it had a velvety texture and a very clean taste. We had it with eggs, olives, M’tabbal (smokey aubergine dip) and (gluten-free) flatbread. There are other types of hummus, including hummus balila (with cumin and toasted pine nuts), hummus Beiruti (a spicier version, usually with chilli, and herbs such as parsley) and also hummus b’awarma (hummus b’tahini with preserved meat – minced meat that is preserved with the rendered fat from the tail of Fat Tail Sheep, plus salt) which also we had.

The other thing that I learnt is that you must never add oil to your hummus as you’re mixing it. You can drizzle a little olive oil over the top at the end but if you mix oil in when you’re blitzing the hummus, it will muddle the taste. (I never knew that – and now I know why Bethany’s tasted so clear!) As Bethany will tell you, you also need to soak dried chickpeas and boil them, rather than using tinned chickpeas, as it will taste much better. And if you take the time to skin them, you’ll enjoy a wonderfully smooth textured-hummus.

I have a pot of Bethany’s hummus sitting in my fridge right now. I’m hoping to have some when I get home…. if Peter or Zoë haven’t got there first!

Bethany’s recipe for hummus b’tahini (many thanks, Bethany, for letting me use it) from her website is here –

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

Makes: about a 300g/10½oz tub     Preparation time: 15 minutes, plus 12 hours soaking time and resting time    Cooking time:1½–2hours

  • 250g/9 oz/scant 1 cup dry chickpeas (soaked will make 500g/1lb 2oz)
  • ¼ tsp baking soda (optional)
  • 150ml/5fl oz/scant ⅔ cups tahini
  • 2 garlic cloves, peeled
  • ½ tsp dry cumin, allspice, or 7-spices
  • 2 lemons, plus more to taste
  • olive oil, for drizzling
  • salt to taste
  • paprika, finely chopped coriander and (gluten-free) pitta bread, to serve.
  1. Begin by sorting thru the chickpeas and getting rid of any rotted chickpeas. Rinse them well under cold water. Put in a large bowl and fill with twice the amount of water. Be sure to use a big enough bowl as the chickpeas will expand. Let it sit overnight. Now, if your thinking: “What a waste of time and energy! I’ll just get canned chickpeas and save time and energy!” Well, yes you could, but you’ll just be wasting the TASTE! C’mon it’s not that bad! You can sort thru the chickpeas while watching your favorite TV show… don’t get too distracted though!
  2. The next day, rinse the soaked chickpeas really well under running water, add the chickpeas to a deep pot (I recommend a pressure cooker which will drastically reduce the cooking time, follow manual instructions) and  fill the pot with water to cover the chickpeas. Now double the water. If you’re not using a pressure cooker you may need to use baking soda to help soften the chickpeas and reduce cooking time, though I prefer not to as it lends a soapy taste. Place pot on medium heat and bring to a boil, stirring occasionally. Reduce heat to low and simmer for about 1.5 hours- 2 hours, depending on the age of the chickpeas. Remove any of the white foam with a slotted spoon. Chickpeas are ready when they smash between two fingers with the gentlest pressure applied. Drain chickpeas. If you’re feeling so inclined, then I do recommend shocking the cooked chickpeas under cold running water, then cover them with cold water and swish them a few times with your hands. Discard the skins that have loosened. This helps in achieving a smoother, less grainy, velvety smooth hummus.
  3. Throw the garlic cloves and a little bit of salt in the food processor and pulse a couple of times. Add the chickpeas (reserve a handful for garnish, if you’d like), pulse a few more times (maybe add a little water here to get the blades moving), then add tahini, lemon juice and spice of choice (allspice traditional to Lebanon) and process until a creamy consistency is reached. You may find that you need to add some more water to loosen the mixture, drizzle it in little by little, till you reach the texture you’re after.
  4. If you like your hummus more zesty, then feel free to add more at this point. I like to leave my hummus to rest for an hour or two,  and then taste. This allows all the flavors to sit and you can then better gauge if you will need more lemon to your taste. Hummus will tend to thicken overnight and you can loosen the mixture by adding water or more lemon, to taste. Hummus tastes the best when made fresh but that doesn’t mean it doesn’t taste good days after it’s made. It’s incredibly convenient and necessary to have hummus in your fridge throughout the week. Home-made hummus can keep up to 7 days, if it is not consumed before then.
  5. To serve the hummus: Transfer to a shallow serving bowl and create a shallow well in the center of the hummus. Into the well, drizzle olive oil, sprinklings of paprika, reserved chickpeas, if using and finely chopped coriander. Serve with warm (gluten-free) Arabic bread.

Jubilee Gluten-Free & Dairy-Free Chocolate & Pecan Nut Brownies

This weekend we went to a street party on my sister’s street. Zoë ran around with all the kids, bouncing on the bouncy castle, eating goodies and zooming into different houses, playing, playing and playing; Peter helped my brother-in-law and sister to cook the BBQ (well, he is Australian after all) and I chatted, ate delicious food, drank wine and had a fine time! The sun shone in the afternoon and we stayed on and on, enjoying the celebrations and the prospect of a four-day weekend. (The following day we got drenched, squashed and freezing cold watching the boats going up the Thames…!)

I made these chocolate brownies the night before. They had a wonderfully crunchy crust and gorgeously gooey centre. I normally use fruit sugar, xylitol or agave syrup when I’m baking but I didn’t have enough left in my cupboards, and didn’t have enough time to go and get any more. So I used caster sugar and perhaps that’s why the crust was so crunchy. (I’ll have to make these again, now, to test whether that’s the reason!) There was nothing remotely red, white or blue or Jubilee about these brownies – but my sister had asked for them because she loves them. If you’re just going to bake one gluten-free thing, bake these because they’re really, really good.


  • 150g/5½oz dairy-free margarine, plus extra for greasing
  • 200g/7oz dairy-free dark chocolate, with at least 70 per cent cocoa solids
  • 200g/7oz/heaped 1 cup fruit sugar or caster sugar
  • 2 large eggs, beaten
  • 1 tsp vanilla extract
  • 50g/1¾oz/heaped ¼ cup rice flour
  • 25g/1oz/scant ¼ cup ground almonds
  • 1 tsp gluten-free baking powder
  • ¼ tsp xanthan gum
  • 100g/3½oz/1 cup pecan nuts
  1. Preheat the oven to 180°C/350°F/Gas 4. Line the base of a 20 x 30cm/8 x 12in baking tin with non-stick baking parchment.
  2. Break the chocolate into small pieces and place in a large heatproof bowl. Rest the bowl over a pan of gently simmering water, making sure that the bottom of the bowl does not touch the water. Gently stir from time to time until the chocolate has melted. Add the margarine to the bowl and continue stirring occasionally until it is completely melted and mixed in with the chocolate.
  3. Meanwhile, using an electric mixer, beat the eggs, sugar and vanilla extract together in a large mixing bowl until light, fluffy and very pale in colour.
  4. Remove the bowl of melted chocolate from the heat. Using the electric mixer, beat into the egg mixture, then sift the flours, baking powder and xanthan gum into the bowl and carefully fold in with a metal spoon, making sure the mixture is thoroughly combined but not stirred too heavily, or the air will be lost. Add the pecan nuts and fold in gently.
  5. Spoon the mixture into the prepared tin, spreading it evenly into the corners with the back of the spoon. Bake in the hot oven for 15–18 minutes, depending on how gooey you like them, until risen and almost firm to the touch. Remove from the oven and leave to cool in the tin for 5 minutes, then transfer to a wire rack and leave to cool completely. Cut into 20 squares.