Saturday, 21 April 2012

An interview with Pippa Kendrick, author of The Intolerant Gourmet

Roast Butternut Squash, Coconut and Chilli Soup
Pippa Kendrick is really irritating.  For a start she’s pretty, funny and personable.  And now she’s published a cookbook for allergy sufferers of the take-me-to-bed-and-drool-over-me variety.

Actually, she’s published the cookbook that I used to dream of publishing.  Full of gorgeous pictures, thick, luxurious paper, lovely prose....sigh.  My husband saw her book and exclaimed tactfully: “She’s written the book you wanted to write!” 
But let's not dwell on that.
I met Pippa at a food festival last year and dammit but it's impossible to hate her.  I was genuinely thrilled to receive a copy of her book to review and I promise that I did not ask the following questions in a snippy, tight-lipped, ugly, jealous way. 
Why did you want to write this book?
Firstly, I wrote it because I have multiple food intolerances and I wanted to share my experiences of cooking for them with other people.  Secondly, I wanted to create the kind of cookbook that I wanted to read and cook from when I was first diagnosed (nearly 10 years ago); I wanted to make a lovely looking, generous cookbook that you could leaf through with pleasure rather than study earnestly.
You do include nuts in some of your recipes which may make my nut-allergic readers shudder a bit; who is this book for?  What are the allergies that you cater to?
Every single recipe in the book is free from wheat, dairy, soy, eggs and yeast, ¾ of them are gluten free and less than a 1/3 of them contain nuts.  Because I create my recipes based around all of the foods I cannot tolerate and because I like the texture that nuts can provide in intolerance-cooking, I have used them in a selection of the dishes.  My aim was to create the best recipes with all of the foods available to me, but I would never want to offend anybody and so intend to give nut-free alternatives for the second book.

Was it hard to create enough recipes to fill the book?
Not at all, writing the recipes is the pleasurable bit!  I love pottering around my kitchen, testing ideas, creating new recipes or finding ways of recreating classics.  I’m a bit of a food obsessive so I literally wake up thinking about recipe ideas and am usually straight into the kitchen given the opportunity - there’s nothing I enjoy more.
Roughly how many times do you trial each recipe?
Sundried Tomato Bread
It really varies; with some I will cook them again and again – eight or so times – just to tweak them.  With others, I’m so happy with the result that I’ll do it once or twice more and then that’s it.  I find sometimes that if you have to test a recipe too many times then it’s not meant to be, it’s better to walk away and forget about it, the answer will either come to you or it’s just not a recipe for the collection.
OK, so let’s be real; when you’re knackered you probably don’t knock up Paprika Pepper Chicken with Avocado Salsa (page 83).  What is your go-to allergy friendly quick meal on a rainy Thursday evening at 9pm?
Cup of tea, toast and jam (bread my own, of course ;) ) I’m also a big fan of quinoa, salad and hoummous – quick, easy, yum.  It’s not really cooking, more gathering, but that’s what I do when I’m knackered!
What can’t you be without in your kitchen? (if it helps, I can’t be without baking parchment)
Ooh, difficult.  Boringly, maybe my kitchen timer – it’s invaluable when recipe testing.  Otherwise, rubber spatula, just think how much would be left in the bowl if you didn’t use it?!
Tomato and Pesto Tart
What is your favourite dish from the book?
The Spaghetti Carbonara makes me happy.  It was a childhood favourite of mine and being able to have it again was quite comforting.  Otherwise, the Tomato and Pesto Tart makes me think of sunshine, summer and celebration.
The photos in your book are just beautiful, who took them?
JanBaldwin.  She is utterly lovely and ridiculously talented; all chat, chat, move this slightly, click, bit more chat, and then, perfection. I love her.
 I’m trying not to be bitter about your young, smooth skin with no sun damage, so let’s not focus on your age.  But if I may ask an off-topic question – woman to woman – where did you get the gorgeous blouse that you are wearing on the back cover?  (I’m not going to say anything about your un-creased cleavage.)
It’s from Whistles, an age ago, in the sale I might add.  It’s served me well!

Pippa, the smooth cleavage & the top from Whistles
 If you haven't bought Pippa's book yet, find it on Amazon and if you're not sure it's for you, just read those reviews and you'll be won over.

© Pig in the Kitchen All Rights Reserved

Tuesday, 3 April 2012

Simnel Cake, gluten free, egg free, dairy free

Chicks, a missing disciple and a very yummy cake

Where normally there is some witty prose, a mildly interesting anecdote or something so random you genuinely worry that I have early-onset Alzheimers; today there is nothing.

Inspiration has gone AWOL.  

It has sloped off with that other rotter, Judas, and is nowhere to be seen.

I could inflict some stream of consciousness, unedited blather on you but I still have some pride intact.

So I'm just going to hand you over to my Simnel Cake, she will take it from here.

Happy Easter!

Simnel Cake
I first saw a Simnel cake at my Mother-in-Law's house.  She does Easter in a big way and there are meringue nests a go-go, Easter egg hunts and Simnel Cake.  She explained to me about Judas not being allowed on the cake and I found it very funny to remove other disciples from her cake when her back was turned.  She did not find it quite so funny.  My trouble is that I always realise too late that no-one is laughing with me...

For all versions:
85g dried cranberries
250g raisins

250g sultanas
1½ tsps mixed spice
½ tsp vanilla extract or a squidge of vanilla bean paste
dairy free spread
200g sugar (dark muscovado if feeling lavish)
90ml brandy/port/rum (or apple juice) plus extra for soaking if you wish
approx 60ml / 4-5 tbsps Rice milk/milk

Gluten free
200g Doves Farm Gluten Free flour

1 tsp gluten free baking powder
¼ tsp xanthan gum

Egg free
4 heaped tsps Orgran 'no egg' egg replacer mixed with 8 tbsps rice milk
2 tbsps linseeds (either whole or ground)
¼ tsp xanthan gum

With eggs
Use 3 eggs

With wheat flour:
Use 200g wheat flour
1 tsp baking powder

For the icing:
250g yellow fondant icing
Icing sugar
apricot jam or marmalade
Pretty ribbon and kitsch chicks to decorate

  • Grease and line a round, 16cm cake tin with baking parchment. Heat the oven to 160 degrees celsius / Gas 4
  • Weigh out all the dried fruit and place it into a bowl.  If you like, add about 6 tbsps of rum/brandy/whatever to soften it all up and create a lovely smell in the kitchen.  Or you can skip this step if you’re of a more sober nature...
  • Mix the egg replacing ingredients (if using) with the rice milk and set aside.  If using eggs, whisk them together and set aside
  • Put the gluten free flour, xanthan gum (or wheat flour), mixed spice and baking powder into a bowl, set aside
  • Put the dairy free spread and sugar into a large mixing bowl. Beat it together until thoroughly mixed and slightly paler in colour
  • Add about a quarter of the eggs or the 'no egg' mix to the bowl, and sieve in about a quarter of the flour mix. Gently mix together until combined. Repeat the process until all the eggs or 'no egg' and flour has been incorporated
  • Add enough rice milk / milk to give a soft dropping consistency
  • Add the vanilla essence/vanilla bean paste and alcohol and stir until everything is mixed together
  • Add the dried fruit and brandy mix to the mixing bowl and stir throughly
  • Scrape into the cake tin, leaving a slight dip in the centre; the cake should rise to even itself out.  Place in the oven
  • Bake for 30-45 minutes until the cake has risen but will not be cooked in the middle.  Cover the cake with tin foil and bake for a further 20-40 minutes until cooked.  The timings are approximate; your oven might be very different to mine
  •  Leave the cake to cool in the tin and then turn out onto a cooling rack
  • Dust your work surface with icing sugar and roll out the fondant icing to a thickness of about 3mm.  Use the base of the cake tin to cut a circle that will cover the surface of the cake
  • Gently heat about 2 tbsps of apricot jam and spread a thin layer over the surface of the cake, then place the icing over the top
  • Spend a happy 10 minutes fashioning balls of icing to represent the 11 disciples (remember Judas is NOT allowed on the cake) and stick them onto the surface of the cake with a dab of jam
  • Add the ribbon and chicks et voila! Your Simnel Cake is looking marvellous
  • And if during the Easter break you see my writing ability somewhere, please send it back to me in the Midlands.  Thanks

© Pig in the Kitchen All Rights Reserved