Wednesday, 28 February 2007

Banana Muffins (egg-free, dairy-free, gluten-free)

When I am feeling calm and relaxed on a week-end I sometimes make breakfast muffins. In my mind's eye I have got up early and showered before the house has risen. As the children stumble sleepily down, they see slim Mummy, damp hair drying in a natural, tousled style, she is fresh-faced and wonderful. She is smiling lovingly as she proffers a warm, banana muffin.

In reality I have snatched a tv lie-in, and when the DVD has run out and the kids are getting restless, I decide it would be a good idea to make muffins. When they are finally ready, the muffin-fest lasts about 10 minutes and then the kids are off, rampaging around the house. At gone 10.30am I am still clearing up, and still wearing my pyjamas. My freshly-showered hubby saunters down after his stolen lie-in and is astonished, "are you still in your pyjamas?"

Banana Muffins
On a couple of occasions when I have made these, the muffins have had a slightly cloying texture, (although still very edible in my book). I'm pretty sure this is down to the bananas, if this happens, you might want to use smaller bananas for next time...
about 0.25tsp xanthan gum
1tsp mixed spice
2 big bananas
130g sugar
1 egg equivalent (I used Orgran 'no egg' egg replacer)
90ml rice milk
90ml vegetable oil
85g chopped dark choc / or sultanas / or dried cranberries/ or / or (it's the weight that counts, but dark choc is best!) (my daughter could tolerate the soya lecithin in dark chocolate when she had her soya allergy, but if you are unsure, check with your doctor or dietician)

  • Heat oven to 180 degrees celsius

  • Put muffin cases into muffin tray (or use fab silicone muffin mould)

  • Put flours, baking powder, bicarb of soda, xanthan gum, mixed spice and sugar into a large mixing bowl - I rarely sieve, use one of those mini whisks and stir through, it does the same job.

  • Mash the bananas using a fork/potato masher on a large plate

  • Mix up the egg replacer, measure out oil and rice milk

  • Put the bananas, 'egg', oil, and rice milk into the flours and mix up. I have heard tell that a true muffin is only lightly mixed with a fork...I've never mastered this art and end up having to stir quite a lot. Hope it doesn't matter.

  • Add chocolate /cranberries / or sultanas /etc...just mix lightly in case it really does matter.

  • Spoon into muffin cases/moulds, about half-way up? They rise quite nicely.

  • Put in the oven at 180 degrees C for 12 minutes, then turn oven up to 190degrees C /375 F/Gas 5 for another 8 mins or so...after that, start to check every two minute in a paranoid manner until they are risen and lightly browned. An implanted skewer should come out clean save for banana detritus.

  • Bon appetit!
© Pig in the Kitchen 2007

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Tuesday, 27 February 2007

Munchy Mix (egg-free, dairy-free, gluten-free)

My favourite time of day during the week is around about 5pm.

The children's sugar level is still being sustained by the post-school snack, they are doing homework, playing surreal fantasy games (why is my boy always prowling around as a kitten? Often with his hands tied?) or watching the dreaded telly.

I am thus cleared to enter the kitchen, where I pour the first of two carefully measured glasses of red wine. (Apparently 125ml of wine constitutes a unit of alcohol - I try to stick to two as don't want my liver to get fat.)

I then have at least 10 minutes of child-free dinner preparation whilst I listen to the radio (grown-up news programmes), slurp my wine and MUNCH. Very bad munching is crisps -my hubby always like to have a stash -but good munching is my Munchy Mix.

My apologies to my lovely friend Sean, he does love to munch, but Brazil nuts are his Kryptonite. I'll work out something else for you Sean, but you have to promise to stay awake.

Munchy Mix
Quantities will depend on the amount you want to make. This keeps well in the fridge in a plastic freezer bag...a tub is no good, it takes too long to get the lid off.

Let's say:
150g chopped Brazil nuts
150g pumpkin seeds
150g sunflower seeds

Olive Oil
Sea Salt
Black Pepper
Chilli flakes ( or crush your own if you're brave, I just end up blowing my own head off)

  • Put the grill on

  • Chop the Brazil nuts if you haven't been able to buy them chopped.

  • Put the nuts and seeds into a large mixing bowl

  • Gloop on some olive oil, about 3 tbsps, but don't have it swimming in oil

  • Mix round

  • Spread out onto a baking tray (or trays), preferably lined with baking parchment

  • Grind sea salt all over the mix. The amount will depend on your degree of heart attack fear. I put loads on, which is still less than commercially salted nuts, so don't feel bad.

  • Grind black pepper over the mix, as little or as much as you wish.

  • Whack on the chilli flakes! Remember you may stumble in when you are drunk and reach for this mix, you NEED lots of chilli!

  • Place baking trays under the grill, and toast until brown. Stir round with a spoon and toast again. I like it when the pumpkin seeds pop. One popped right out of the tray the other day. Amazing.

  • Leave to cool on the trays. Well done if you manage to do this, I always burn my tongue because I can't resist.

  • When cold, store in fridge.
© Pig in the Kitchen 2007

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Breakfast Pancakes (egg-free, dairy-free, gluten-free)

The delightful Deborah recently raised her gluten-free voice in protest,

"Well that almond and egg 'pancake' recipe I made was nice, but it didn't taste like a real pancake did it? Why can't someone just take the time and make one that tastes like a real pancake?"

Deborah, I have taken the time, and this one is for you!

Breakfast Pancakes (These can also be made with wheat flour, see the instructions in bold below)

I made these using Orgran gluten-free All Purpose Plain Flour, which you can buy here. It was my first try with this flour, and I'm rather impressed! It already contains vegetable gums (sounds delicious), so there's no need to add any xanthan gum.

I also used vanilla powder which comes from the wonderful Vanilla Bazaar company. You may think you know vanilla, but THEIR vanilla products are divine, I could sit and smell them for hours. You should definitely order from them!

200g Orgran Gluten Free All Purpose plain flour If using wheat flour: 225g plain flour

25g buckwheat flour (omit if using wheat flour)

0.5tsp bicarbonate of soda (omit if using wheat flour)

2.5 tbsps sugar

2 'no egg' egg equivalents mixed up with 4 tbsps rice milk

1 tsp ground linseeds mixed with 1 tbsp rice milk. For wheat flour version: use 1 heaped tbsp mix up with 1 tbsp rice milk

(you could vary the flavour by using 1 tsp mixed spice and the zest of an orange)

110g dairy-free spread, melted. For wheat flour version: use 30g

420ml rice milk (note, if you were using a different GF flour, you could possibly reduce the amount of milk, the Orgran flour was slightly thicker due to the gum included. You are aiming for a thick batter consistency)
For wheat flour version: use 300-350ml of rice milk

Oil to fry

  • Put the flours, vanilla powder, bicarbonate of soda, sugar and baking powder into a large mixing bowl

  • Mix up the egg replacer with the rice milk as per packet, add the tsp of ground linseeds (add 1 tbsp if using wheat flour) and the extra tbsp of rice milk

  • Add the melted dairy-free spread, egg replacers and linseeds, and 360 ml (300-350ml if using wheat flour) of the rice milk to the mixing bowl. You can add the rest of the rice milk gradually, until you have got the right consistency ( a thick batter)

  • If you have an electric whisk, get it out and whisk! Small children like to help with this part, but do encourage them to keep the whisk submerged in the mixture. In the absence of the electric whisk, use a hand whisk, a large helping of elbow grease, and think of the good it is doing your bicep. You can stop when it's all smooth and with a few air bubbles popping on the surface.

  • Place a pancake pan over a medium heat. Grease it by smearing the surface with an oil-soaked kitchen towel

  • There is a little-known law that dictates that the first pancake of any batch will fail. It is the ritual pancake sacrifice, but perhaps you will be lucky

  • Using a ladle, pour a small amount of mixture into the pan

  • It should spread and after a minute or two the surface will start to bubble. When it is covered in bubbles and solid enough to flip, slide a spatula ( a silicone one is good) under it and flip it over. It should rise slightly, and will need a minute or two to go brown.

  • Transfer to a waiting child's plate, or make a big stack, cover with tin foil and keep them warm in an oven on low heat

© Pig in the Kitchen 2007

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Monday, 26 February 2007

Chocolate Chip Cookies (egg-free, dairy-free)

There are those days when it all goes tits up even though I have started the day with good intentions.

There will be joyful interactive play with the children. There will be tinkling laughter. There will be some children playing happily with modelling clay at the table, whilst I read engagingly with other children on the sofa. Think Maria Von Trapp.

Some days there are some elements of the above. On lots of other days, when the urge to drink has started at 10am, I turn the telly on, snuggle the baby between children 2 and 3, and beat a hasty retreat to the kitchen. My friend Jo coined the phrase, 'Bake like a Bastard'. That is what I like to do, and here is my cookie recipe!

Chocolate chip Cookies (Note: contains oats.  For oat free, choc-filled yummy cookies, try 'Freedom Cookies'.

Some people with a gluten-intolerance may be able to tolerate oats, most Coeliacs can't. If you are unsure, please check and double-check. I am so very grateful to the reader who emailed to say she was having a few problems with the previous version of this recipe. I had a panic, tried the recipe and lo! it didn't work very well. So after some stressing and tweaking, it is now what it is. I do hope it works for you.

The sunflower seeds and oats can be ground together in a liquidiser/blender. I was unsure whether my baby could tolerate the soya lecithin in the dark chocolate, but it turns out she can. Do seek advice from your doctor or dietician if you are unsure.
125g sugar
1 heaped tsp of Orgran 'no egg' egg replacer + 2 tbsps rice milk
small pinch of xanthan gum(optional)
100g ground sunflower seeds (or pumpkin seeds work as well )
100g ground oats
1.5tsp ground cinammon
1tsp mixed spice
175g dairy free, gluten free chocolate (at least 70% cocoa solids)
1 tbsp rice milk (if the mixture seems too stiff)
  • Heat Oven to 170/180 degrees Celsius (ovens vary, be prepared to lower the temperature if necessary)
  • Chop chocolate roughly with big, sharp knife. Quite messy and doesn't matter if there are big fat chunks and tiny slivers
  • Put the dairy free spread and sugar into a bowl and beat together until creamy and pale
  • Add the egg equivalent and mix well
  • Add the chopped chocolate
  • Add the oats, sunflower seeds, spices, baking powder and rice flour (wheat flour if you can eat it). Mix well, and add a tbsp of rice milk if the mixture seems too stiff...but you want it quite stiff, otherwise the cookies will spread and be too thin. Am I making sense?
  • Dollop heaped teaspoons onto a baking tray, leaving room for them to spread. I swallow my ecological conscience and always use baking parchment to prevent sticking
  • Bake in oven for approximately 15 mins, but always check after 10. And preferably, be manic like me and peer through the glass every two minutes. The cookies are done when they are lightly brown.

  • Leave them to cool completely on the tray. If you find they are cracking a bit as you try and remove them from the baking tray, put the tray in the fridge to solidify that chocolate, and you should be able to remove them easily. Solidified cold fat is always a winner
  • Then tuck them into a plastic tub, feel briefly like domestic goddess, then embark on the usual frazzled school run.

© Pig in the Kitchen 2007

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Coming to terms with food allergies

So, along comes lovely bouncing baby number 4. Look at my maternal pride as I wrestle my four, yes, four, children out of the door. I am now set apart on the school run, spoken about in hushed tones. (Actually, would rather not know what they are saying, feel it may not all be complimentary).

Imagine my surprise, when said 4th baby develops all sorts of horrible allergies, around about month 3. This was not in the plan. This will not fit INTO the plan because I do not have enough time to cater to different dietary needs.

Alas, it was true, and after blood tests and skin prick tests, my lovely baby girl is allergic to:
  • Cow’s milk
  • Goat’s milk
  • Soya
  • Peanuts
  • Eggs
  • Cheese
  • Yogurt
    yes I know that’s ‘all dairy products’ but sounds more impressive when listed in a doleful tone
    She is also allergic to some kind of metal as chewing a bunch of keys produced hives (urticaria) round her mouth.

Although all these allergies so early on were a bit of a blow, it was not entirely new territory. My eldest daughter has always suffered with Eczema, Asthma started around age three, and by the time she was six, she could no longer breathe through her nose. The doctor diagnosed Allergic Rhinitis, where the lining of the nose swells as a response to allergens. Skin Prick Tests for my eldest revealed allergies to:
  • Limes
  • Kiwi fruit
  • Cats (yuk, feline freaks, hate them. I’m also allergic)
  • Sesame seeds
  • House Dust Mites

She also feels sick around peanuts, although the lump that came up during the skin prick tests didn’t hang around long enough to warrant an allergy, apparently.

Looking at the profile of my eldest child, I was determined to spare baby 4 from the Asthma / Rhinitis future that I was sure would await her if I carried on feeding her allergens.
I realise this theory may not stand up to medical examination, but I was very sleep-deprived and possibly a little irrational. I decided that as I was still breast-feeding, I would remove "every single allergen from my diet". You get the strident, ‘don’t argue with me husband’ tone?
Bless him, he didn’t argue with me.

So Mother and baby embarked on a strict vegan diet (I am vegetarian, but the cheese had to go). I really craved Dairy Products, I wanted the grease all over my lips and hardening in my arteries. It was hard, but did I mention the weight-loss? What a fantastic by-product of a Vegan Diet.

I was determined to keep at the diet, but equally determined to have yummy food. This meant lots more cooking, as an Earth Mother of Four (ahem), but I was sure I could do it.  I was determined to keep producing yummy food for my family, even though the bar had now been raised considerably higher.

So began Pig in the Kitchen’s egg-free, dairy-free, soya-free, nut-free journey into the kitchen. Along the way I have made some gluten-free friends and they have joined the parade; the majority of the food featured on my blog is now Gluten-free.

Enjoy, and feel free to leave (nice / constructive / not vicious) comments.