Thursday, 28 February 2013

Gluten free party treats for kids and muffins for toddlers with food allergies

Another good day at the office...
There are ups and downs to working from home.

The downs? On bad days I feel like I'm flailing around chasing my tail and pissing in the wind (and that gets really messy).

The ups? My office is silent save for the tweet of Twitter and the whining of the dog if I haven't got around to walking her.

And the even better ups?

On Pig in the Kitchen baking days, my office (which doubles as my photography studio) smells amazing! And I get to leave my laptop and fiddle around with my beautiful camera and little twiddly bits of ribbon and pretty material.

Bliss.

Today is an up day and the office smells fab. I would invite you over to sample the muffins, but then you'd spoil the silence in my house and I might end up hating you.

Grin.

See you soon!

Pig x

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Monday, 11 February 2013

Gluten free Buckwheat Pancakes (egg free, dairy free, vegan)

Gluten free Buckwheat Pancakes
Do you think Richard III ate pancakes?


In 1982, parts of the Mary Rose (old ship, belonged to Henry VIII, sank somewhere in the Solent while trying to attack the French) were raised from the seabed. This was a complicated operation that took at least a whole day, probably more.

How do I know this?

Because my Mum had the TV on all day as she watched, fascinated. Bearing in mind we only had about one TV channel in those days, to my young mind it was entirely unreasonable to hog the TV in this manner. For something so utterly boring.

In fact I remember looking at my Mum and wondering how she could possibly find it interesting.

So here's how I know I'm definitely old.

Because last week they announced that the bones they'd found in a car park in Leicester were those of Richard III, the last Plantagenet king of England and the last king to be killed in battle.

Well.

Have you ever heard anything so fascinating?

I spent the whole day being very fascinated and even stayed up late to watch the documentary detailing how they found the bones. (And Philippa Langley should definitely be made a dame )

And my kids? All day they heard, "But it's really him! Isn't that amazing?"

To give them their due, they were far more interested than I was in the Mary Rose.

But I'm not so sure they're going to enjoy spending their precious half term visiting the temporary exhibition at The Guildhall in Leicester and then a trip to Bosworth Battlefield.

But they have to. This is fascinating! Can you believe it's really him?!

And yes, I'm definitely old and probably a bit boring. Sigh.

I'm planning the educational trips to coincide with Shrove Tuesday. At least when they're shivering on the battlefield in Bosworth and watching their mother in raptures over an empty field, they can console themselves with the thought of pancakes.

Enjoy Shrove Tuesday my darlings! May the force of Richard be with you!



Gluten free Buckwheat Pancakes

If you have a pre-mixed gluten free flour, like Doves Farm, use 150g and omit the rice flour and cornflour. 
Because pre-mixed GF flour usually contains xanthan gum, it might be worth mixing the flour, egg/egg replacer and milk together and then seeing how 'gummy' the batter is. If you think it needs a little help, add the xanthan gum ¼ tsp at a time. 

If you can eat eggs, use one egg in place of the 'no egg' and oil.

100g rice flour (I used brown rice flour)
50g cornflour
(or 150 g of Doves Farm GF flour mix)
90g
 buckwheat flour
½ tsp Xanthan Gum 
1 egg or:
2 heaped tsp of ‘no egg’ egg replacer mixed with 4 tbsp rice milk & 2 tbsps of oil

800-850ml (possibly more) rice milk/coconut milk 
More oil to fry
  • Mix up the 'no egg' with the rice milk and whisk until all the lumps are gone. Add the 2 tbsp of oil
  • Put the flours and xanthan gum into a large mixing bowl, stir until thoroughly mixed together
  • Make a bit of a well in the centre of the flour and pour in the 'no egg' and oil (or one egg). Pour in 800ml of rice milk (add the extra 50ml later if you think the mix is too thick; you may not need it) and mix vigorously until everything is combined. Whisk it until there are no lumps and it's bubbly on the surface
  • Leave for about 20 mins if possible, the mixture will thicken a little. The kind of consistency you are aiming for is something approaching double cream...or double cream merging into single cream. You know what? I don't think the consistency is a deal breaker...if it's too thick you'll have lovely stodgy pancakes, if it's too thin...you'll have thin pancakes, and you could always sieve in a tbsp extra of rice flour.
  • When your pancake batter is ready, take a pancake pan (and yes, they really are better than regular frying pans...just nip out and buy one, slot it under 'household expenditure' in your budget, and you don't need to feel the least bit guilty) and put it on the hob on a low-medium heat
  • Pour about 4 tbsp of oil into a small bowl and place the small bowl onto a plate. Take some kitchen towel, scrunch it up and dip it into the oil, now smear it around your pancake pan, to leave an oily film over the surface of the pan. Put the kitchen towel back onto the plate, you'll need to repeat the pan-oiling manoeuvre for the next pancake
  • Here comes the bit I find tricky; the temperature of the pan. You don't want the oil to be smoking, but it must be quite hot. It generally takes me a few pancakes before the pan and I are working in perfect harmony
  • When you think the pan is hot enough, take a ladle of pancake batter. Lift the pan off the heat and start to pour in the batter. As soon as the batter hits the pan, gently incline the pan and rotate it at the same time so that the batter starts to spread and run into a perfect circle shape. If it looks more like a starfish, it really doesn't matter
  • Once the batter has stopped running and is beginning to set, place the pan back on the heat for about 30 seconds. The edges should go crispy and the middle will start to thicken and develop bubbles on the surface
  • As the edges crisp, take a blunt knife and gently slide it under the edges of the pancake to loosen them. Once the edges are free, slide your knife / silicone spatula / whatever all the way under the pancake to loosen it. Give the pan a shake or two, and hopefully soon, the pancake will be released and will slide around the pan when you shake it. When it's ready, it should be lightly browned on the underside
  • Now, remove the pan from the heat, remove all children to a safe distance and launch that cake to the sky. I accept no responsibility for the consequences of your action. Alternatively, use a spatula to gently flip the pancake, but that really is the cautious option isn't it? Is that how you want to live your life?
  • Allow the pancake to brown on the other side, then slide it calmly onto a plate. You are perfect, well done
  • Serve with a topping of your choice
  • Repeat all of the above until pancake mix has gone
  • Dedicate at least one pancake to Richard III



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Thursday, 7 February 2013

Food judging at the Free From Food Awards

Free From Food Awards
Very Important Work being done (aka stuffing your face all day)
You might think that being a food judge means sitting around tasting a bit of this and a smidge of that and then saying 'mmm yummy' or 'bleurgh, no thanks'.

How wrong you are.

If the food judging for the Free From Food Awards 2013 is anything to go by, being a food judge means vehemently arguing your corner and categorically stating why a certain product should be a winner/highly commended/commended/shortlisted.

It definitely ain't civilised and genteel!

Free From Food Awards 2013
Compiling arguments ready for the food judging battle

At least it wasn't last Wednesday when I donned my mantle of self importance, took up my clipboard and visited the HQ of Foods Matterwebsites to be a food judge.


It's the second time I've done it and it is so interesting.

Dairy free milks
Dairy Free Milk
The tasting is done 'blind' and you only have the manufacturers' descriptions of their products, ingredients list and allergen information. So from the table spread with anonymous - but tempting - goodies, you sample, write notes and keep absolutely schtum so that you don't influence any other judges.         
     
And then when Michelle Berriedale-Johnson calmly invites attendees to explain their reasons for short listing/commending etc, the gloves come off, all hell breaks loose and brown stuff is definitely heading for the fan.

Free from food judging
Is Sarah Jane Evans picking up those knives ready to throw them?!
In the red corner someone is arguing strongly on nutritional grounds!

In the blue corner someone else is advocating a product because it will add choice and interest to a restricted Free From market!

And from the eye of the storm Michelle listens, calls to order repeatedly and in the end gets stern and tells us to make a damned decision 'coz we're running out of time and we still have the chocolate tasting to do.

Oddly, the mention of chocolate tasting speeds the process up significantly.

So who were the winners of a coveted Free From Food Award yellow label?

Well, there was...

Ha ha. I'd have to kill you.

The shortlist will be announced on 20th February, 2013 and the presentation of the awards is on April 16th, 2013.  (Visit the Free From Food Awards site for more information.)

So all the decisions have now been made and it's far too late to bribe me or try and change my mind.

Although you're welcome to try if it involves chocolate...



Free from food
Might be worth trying to bribe me with chocolate?



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