Tag Archives: garlic

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 Chestnut & Pancetta Soup

This is a wonderfully robust soup – with a great mixture of flavours from the sweet, earthy chestnuts, the salty pancetta and the aromatic rosemary. It makes a lovely lunch-time soup for 4 – or a evening bowl for 2. And if your toddler can tolerate nuts, it’s guaranteed to be a hit with him or her.

If you’re lucky enough to be able to forage or get some fresh chestnuts, all good. Simply cut a cross in the top of them and roast in the oven at 200°C/400°F/Gas 6 for about 10 minutes. Then just peel and use. Or, of course, you can use the vacuum-packed chestnuts you can buy in packets. With these you just soak the packets in boiling water for a minute or so, before opening.

gluten-free, wheat-free, yeast-free, dairy-free, soya-free, egg-free, seed-free, citrus-free

Preparation time 5 minutes     Cooking time 20 minutes     Serves 4

  • 1 tbsp olive oil
  • 200g/7oz pancetta
  • 1 onion, chopped
  • 2 garlic cloves, crushed
  • 1 carrot, sliced
  • 1 celery stalk, sliced
  • ½ leek, sliced
  • 2 tbsp chopped rosemary leaves
  • 400g/14oz cooked chestnuts
  • 1.2l/42fl oz/scant 5 cups stock made with gluten- and dairy-free stock powder
  • sea salt (optional as the pancetta is already salty) and freshly ground black pepper
  1. Heat the oil in a large, heavy-based saucepan over a medium heat until hot. Add the pancetta and fry for 5–6 minutes until golden brown. Remove with a slotted spoon and leave to one side.
  2. Put the onion in the saucepan and reduce the heat to medium-low. Fry for 2–3 minutes, stirring frequently, until just starting to turn golden. Add the garlic and cook for 30 seconds, stirring all the time. Add the carrot, celery and leek and cook, stirring frequently, for 2 minutes, until the leek starts to turn translucent. Stir in the rosemary and chestnuts and cook for a further 5 minutes until the carrot is starting to soften. Add the cooked pancetta and pour in the stock. Season lightly, turn up the heat and bring to the boil. Reduce the heat to low and leave to simmer for 15 minutes, until all the vegetables are tender.
  3. Using a immersion blender or blender, whiz the mixture to make a slightly textured soup. Serve hot.

Gluten-Free & Dairy-Free Aubergine & Tomato Stacks

Full of the flavours of the Mediterranean, this recipe transports you to sun-drenched Italy! As someone who has been intolerant to gluten and dairy for many, many years, I’ve generally stayed away from Italian food, thinking that it’s mainly based around pasta, pizza and a lot of cheese. But when we went to Tuscany recently, I discovered that real Italian food is a wonderfully, all-embracing cuisine. Of course there’s pasta and pizza and of course there are many different cheese showcased throughout the menus. But there’s also a delicious range of recipes that create little bites of heaven with vegetables, meat, fish and fruit, as well. In Tuscany I gained enormous respect for the way Italians work with local produce and hope that this (dairy-free) Italian-style recipe does the cuisine justice.

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

Serves 4     Preparation time 10 minutes     Cooking time 35 minutes

Ingredients:

Dairy-Free Pesto:

  • 60g/2¼oz basil leaves
  • 30g/1oz/scant ¼ cup pine nuts
  • 2 garlic cloves, crushed
  • 50g/1¾oz dairy-free cheese
  • 3 tbsp olive oil
  • 2 large aubergines, sliced widthways and ends removed
  • 3–4 tbsp olive oil
  • 6 large tomatoes, sliced and ends removed
  • 200g/7oz dairy-free soya cheese, cut into small square-shaped slices
  • 1 large, ripe avocado
  • a few basil leaves, to serve
  1. Preheat the oven to 180°C/350°F/Gas 4 and put the aubergine slices onto a baking tray. Drizzle over the oil and bake for 20 minutes until tender.
  2. Meanwhile, make the pesto. Heat a large heavy-based frying pan over a medium heat. Add the pine nuts and dry-fry until just starting to turn golden. Remove from the heat and leave to cool. Wash the basil and pat dry in a clean kitchen towel. Put the pine nuts, basil, garlic and dairy-free cheese into a food processor and blitz. With the motor running, pour the oil until a thick, dense sauce forms.
  3. When the aubergines have cooked, put a slice of tomato on top of each aubergine slice. Then put a small dollop of the pesto sauce on top and cover with a slice of dairy-free cheese.
  4. Return to the oven and bake for about 15 minutes until the dairy-free cheese is starting to turn golden. Remove from the oven.
  5. To make the stacks, put one pile of aubergine/tomato/pesto/dairy-free cheese on top of another, on a serving plate, using the smaller piles to put on top of the larger ones. Press the stacks down slightly to anchor them. This will make about 12 stacks.
  6. Cut the avocado into quarters and remove the skins and stone. Slice each quarter into thirds and half each slice. Top the stacks with a couple of pieces of avocado each and sprinkle the basil over. Serve hot or cold.

Sunshine, Gluten-Free Bread & Bruschetta in Tuscany

Just back from a heavenly week in Tuscany. Ahhhhhhh. I’ve never been (other than a weekend in Florence for Peter’s 40th) and have longed to go for years and years – and we finally made it. We stayed in an agriturismo appartment on the side of a beautifully-restored old farmhouse and spent the week travelling around, seeing the stunning countryside and persuading Zoe to look round Pisa and Sienna with us… Every morning I would get up and go for a swim in the salt-water pool pictured above. Truly, life doesn’t get much better than those early morning swims as the sunlight bounced on the water and the scent of the lavender bushes filled the air. (We’re now back in grey, chilly London and I’m dreaming of those swims!)

The farmer grows olives and makes the most delicious olive oil – smooth and clean yet full of depths of flavours.

We swam and swam and swam some more – in the pool, at the beach and even in this river where there were hot springs. The smell of sulphur was strong but somehow not unpleasant and we lay in the water, and then covered ourselves with the mud and sat in the water, letting the water do its magic. The waters are mainly detoxifying, drawing out toxins and impurities, but they also act as a relaxant and stress-reliever (so you come out feeling very sleepy!) and are also great for various allergic/intolerant conditions, especially eczema, psoriasis, asthma and sinusitis.

We went to Sienna which was stunning. The medieval buildings, famous Piazza and Duomo were awe-inspiring. According to Roman legend, Sienna was founded by Senius, who was the son of Remus. (Remus, and his brother Romulus, were the legendary founders of Rome. They were the sons of Mars who were abandoned as babies but saved by a she-wolf who suckled them and a woodpecker who fed them, and then rescued by a shepherd.)

Sienna is full of statues and artwork showing the she-wolf suckling the young babies. And the duomo is bursting with beautiful paintings, statues and glass windows.

And I was wowed by the Siennese style of paintings (you can see a rather bad photo of one of them below) which are full of bright, bold colour blocks and a modern-feeling graphic styling (despite the medieval style of painting.)

We went to Pisa, too, and took Zoe round the Duomo there. The audio equipment was brilliant as it meant Zoe was intrigued by the handsets and chatted into those while we gazed at the paintings! The Italians are generally lovely about kids and let them play and run around. We kept it to a minimum in the Cathedral (!) but even when Zoe was ordering rice and chocolate cake down the audio handset, they didn’t bat an eyelid.

And on the subject of food – yes it was amazing! The fruit was sweet and juicy and the vegetables full of the flavours of sunshine; the selection of prosciutto and hams in the delis were joyous; and the fresh fish and seafood were all gorgeous. But generally gluten-free or dairy-free in restaurants or cafés weren’t an option. We were in deepest, rural Tuscany – where they would serve just a few dishes with home-made gluten pasta and rich cheeses. But I happened on a selection of gluten-free breads in the small supermarket in the local town and, from then on, happily munched my way through the gluten-free breadsticks, buns and bread…

And I made a wonderful, wonderful bruschetta with toasted gluten-free buns, rich, plump tomatoes, pungent garlic and sweet, earthy basil leaves.

This recipe (inspired by her home-grown tomatoes) came from Renée Elliott’s website and it’s utterly delicious.

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

Serves 2 for lunch or 4 as a starter    Preparation time 20 minutes     Cooking time 15 minutes

  • 125ml/4fl oz/½ cup extra virgin olive oil
  • ½ tsp sea salt
  • freshly-ground black pepper
  • 4 thick slices of gluten-free bread, or 4 gluten-free rolls, halved
  • 4 ripe medium tomatoes, chopped
  • 10g/¼oz basil leaves, chopped
  • 4 garlic cloves, finely chopped
  1. Heat the oven to 220˚C/440˚F/gas 7.  Pour the oil into a medium bowl, add the salt and pepper and mix well.  Dip each side of the bread in the oil until lightly coated with oil and put the bread in a shallow baking tray.  Bake in the oven for 15 minutes until crisp.
  2. Meanwhile, add the tomatoes, basil and garlic to the oil and mix well.  Transfer the toasted bread to a serving plate, top generously with the tomato mixture and serve.

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

This weekend I visited Bethany Kehdy, a food writer and blogger (dirtykitchensecrets.com) 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.