Tag Archives: coeliac

Perfect and simple home-made pasta

Pasta

March is a depressing month. Grim weather, cold, grey and right now, pissing down with rain. Winter food consists mostly of meaty things with plenty of fat, slow cooking, and acres of cabbage (what, it doesn’t for you?), probably partly because by now I’ve run out of imagination for after work dinners! But by now I am craving vegetables and fresh tasting things,  without relinquishing the soothing comforting side of things.

So – fresh gluten-free pasta and tomato sauce. Especially good after a person has overdone it on the roast pork front…

I’d only seen (gluteny) pasta made twice before this, and neither experience made me think that this would be as easy as it is. I remember my Mum making it for us when I was small, rolling it out by hand. There are six of us, so the kitchen was festooned with strings of pasta laid out on tea towels. It must have taken her ages to make enough for all of us, no wonder I only remember her doing it once!

The other time was at a school friend’s house with a proper pasta maker, rolling it through again and again until it was thin enough and slicing it thin. Lucy’s family had the house and lifestyle I wanted when I was a kid, big old rambling house full of old things, with an Aga in the kitchen and ducks in the garden. They made proper food like real pasta and mayonnaise, and bought their cheese from the only delicatessen for miles around. Her family used proper tea cups and cloth napkins at the table. I realise now that they did that because they enjoyed it, but at the time it made me feel even shyer than normal as I didn’t think I had the proper manners for the occasion.

Still, a boring job is good for something, and that’s to give you the urge to investigate ways to achieve what you crave. I had been reading Smitten Kitchen at a slow moment, and a comment mentioned making their own noodles for chicken soup – obviously I needed a way to do this gluten-free! (It was raining then too…).  A bit of googling around brought up Gluten-free Girl‘s recipe for pasta. I’ve amended it a fair bit to fit the paucity of gluten-free ingredients in British supermarkets, but it still makes ace pasta, and is much quicker than you would think – definitely doable on a weekday if you are up for some rolling out.

The sauce is a basic tomato sauce, but I recently read (on Rachel Eats) that Italians always make their tomato sauce smooth, whereas I’ve always left it chunky like my Dad’s. Once you think about it though, the smooth texture of the sauce lubricating and coating the pasta, sounds really really good. I pushed mine through a sieve, because I find when you blend it, it goes kind of orange. Still tasty though, so whichever you find easiest!

This amount will make enough for one with seconds (!) or you could share it.

Gluten-free Pasta and Tomato Sauce

Tomato Sauce:

Olive oil
1 medium onion, diced
1 400g tin chopped plum tomatoes
Pinch brown sugar
Salt and pepper

Pasta:

3 ounces Doves Farm Gluten Free flour
1/2 tsp xanthum gum
1/4 tsp salt
Pinch nutmeg
1 medium egg
1 medium egg yolk
1 tbsp olive oil
1 tbsp water

Method:

I make the sauce and the pasta at the same time, because the pasta dough needs time to rest and the sauce needs time to cook down. But you could easily do one and then the other if you have the time or don’t want to rush about – I would on a weekend.

Start by putting on the onions to gently cook in the olive oil in a saucepan.

While that is cooking, bung all the dry pasta ingredients in a food processor and give them a whizz. Beat the egg and the yolk together with about half the oil and water, and then drizzle into the food processor to combine – it should stay in big crumbs but look sticky enough to come together. Add a spot more oil, and a spot more water if it still needs it. It shouldn’t be too squidgy and wet.

Stir your onions!

Turn out the pasta dough onto a board sprinkled with flour, and give it a bit of a knead – push it out with the heel of your hand and pull it back in. It should come together and feel smooth. Wrap it in a bit of cling film and put it to one side. It needs to rest at least 30 minutes.

Back to the sauce. It’s just basic tomato sauce, so make this your preferred way if you have one. The onions should be translucent and gently golden. Add the tinned tomatoes, and season. Add herbs (oregano, marjoram) if you want. Bring to the boil and then turn down low and cover and let it simmer, stirring occasionally. You want it to cook down till it’s good and thick and tasty. If it gets too thick, add a spot of water.

Once it’s ready you need to sieve it. Careful, it’s hot! Put a sieve over a big bowl and pour in a little of the sauce at a tim. Push through with a wooden spoon, mixing it around to get as much sauce as possible. Then put it back into the pan and to one side.

Pasta time. Sprinkle a little flour on the board and give it a bit of a knead again. Rolling out is the important bit – it will plump up when you cook it, so you need it ridiculously thin, and then thinner. Keep rolling it one way and another, but try and keep it oblong. Then use a sharp knife and to slice into tagliatelle-ish pieces – be slow, it’s easy to snag.

Almost time to eat! Put on a big pan of water to boil and add plenty of salt. Put the sauce on to gently re-heat, and check the seasoning. Once the water is at a rolling boil, add your pasta and give it a gentle swirl. It only needs 2-3 minutes to cook – best way to find out if it’s done is to test a bit – you want it with bit of a bite but not floury tasting.

Drain your pasta, and try and arrange it on a plate as beautifully as I have (ahem). Eat, and glory in the knowledge that the world of pasta is now your oyster. Ravioli, anyone?

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Summer Holiday (British style)

We’ve been away for a week in Brighton for a Great British summer holiday. As we’re neither of us sun-seekers, and we just wanted a week to relax, it seemed easier to stay in the country rather than head off somewhere we didn’t know. Also – we want to live in Brighton! Good practice.

Perhaps not the best week to choose (not that we had a choice). After watching torrents of rain fall on the Jubilee weekend (poor street-partyers!) we were hopeful it would improve for us. Well, some of the time it did at least. It never got hot, but at least we got some walking on the beach in the sun time! We stayed in a flat near Brunswick Square, so it was very handy for catching unexpected sunshine after tea.

But (adorably) well wrapped-up. Winds got to gale force by the end of our week. It made trying to walk into town for some food … interesting. By the time we got there, something light had turned into a joint craving for steak and chips.

Most of our focus was knitting, and eating. And knitting while eating. Here’s a look at a view of the places we visited:

Nia is usually our first stop, because they are comfortable and spacious and do good coffee, excellent cake and usually tasty meals too. I say usually because on one of our trips for lunch we had a bit of an unpleasant encounter with a kedgeree that included capers, pomegranate seeds and a sort of cheesy garlicky sauce on a poached egg… This was good if messy – literally – the Nia mess. It looked bizarre, like 3 purple nipples in individual pools of yellow lemon curd. Damn good though. Also, one of the waitresses is a knitter.

The Marwood cafe was found by happy accident when we were looking for some good coffee and a snack in town. It calls itself quirky, and dammit, it is. But maybe a little too much so, so it feels a bit ‘vat-grown’. Possibly I am wrong about that. It did bloody good food and coffee, and there seemed to be a steady stream of regulars. I had the green eggs and ham (hold the toast – which they were fine about) – and that, my friends, is PROPER HAM. Yum. You may have noticed that we usually remembered to take photos after we had started to dig in. We also sat and knitted and discussed seats made out of apple macs until a group of numpties turned up to make stupid jokes about knitting… grrr.

Here’s L sampling a flat white. Decaff is declared ‘not cool’ behind the bar, and is subject to a 20p surcharge. Not that we are uncool enough to drink decaff. They did tease L with her raspberry muffin though by positioning it in eye-view but failing to hand it over until prompted. Bit harsh.

We ventured down the road to visit Hove’s best cafe Treacle and Co on a drizzly day. This is a cafe that does quirky classily. Usually they have a good selection of gluten-free cakes, though I had only one choice this time – pistachio and orange-water – bit too sweet for me, but very good. Lauren had a sausage sandwich that was rather excellent, with home-made chutney. We sneered at the bloke who wanted his sausage sandwich with just sausages.

Interested parties will be pleased to know that Debbie’s cardi accompanied me around Brighton, and we paused at every possible moment to have a spot of knitting with the last dregs of the teapot.

Obviously, there are other places I have missed out here (fresh rejuvenating juices, coffee and sandwiches elsewhere, the afore-mentioned steak and chips) but nothing else was blog-worthy except my venture into whelks… We went to have conveyor belt sushi at Moshi Moshi, and I thought I would give them a try. I’m hard enough. Well, not again thanks. Probably cooked with plenty of garlic butter these would be good. These were super chewy, and marinated in something like soy sauce and mirin. Meh. I gave up after a while and spat it out (discreetly!) – probably good thing too, as most soy sauce contains wheat, and my tummy grumped later on.

We did spend a fair amount of time snoozing on the squooshy sofa at the flat, and spent the most of Thursday stuck indoors out of the rain till it finally blew over at 4, so other knitting did occur too!

I finished my monster orange cardi (ravelled here) and bought some extra buttons from Fabric Land on Western  Road as my Liberty ones were too big. Late afternoon sunshine gave us the chance to photo-shoot on the beach – along with some odd pirates.

I’m pretty happy with it though unsure about the short sleeves. I think I have enough left to make them three-quarter length, but L thinks they look good. Soo cosy though, and I was glad to have it by the end of the week.

Anyway – back now, and trying to settle in to the idea of work. Bandit was quite glad to see us back, but now seems to be disappointed that it means Kate won’t be coming round every day. He is also miffed that I took his window-seat:

The snails got some of the garden, and the rain has been at some of the rest, but all in all, looking good, so hopefully be back here soon to tell you about it!

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Honest Burgers and some Fair Isle Knitting

Honest Burgers. Not exactly an unknown entity for most savvy Londoners who use the internet, but I wanted to start this post just to say I love this place, cos they do tasty burgers, but also – they are really, really nice. And it is so reassuring when people are actually good.

We’ve been partaking of these most tasty, and peculiarly English, burgers for a couple of months now after we (finally) made it in to explore Brixton Village Market. What can I say? We’re kind of recluses. Reclusi. Funnily enough, the first time we went for a wander, we did indeed see Jay Rayner standing larger than life, presumably considering which of the many options there were for his lunch.

Anyway! The burgers. Oh my god. Very good. Yes. And gluten-free. Their specials look great but it’s the honest burger that I can’t resist.

Beef burger, pink in the middle (always) with pickles, and cheese – choice of English cheeses – and onion relish, with rosemary fries, crispy and delicious. They have the perfect crunch. And a gluten-free bun from the WAG (Wheat and Gluten-free) bakers down the end of the market. They work pretty well although I am still jealous of the glazed buns the gluten-eaters get! This is what made me fall in love with Honest Burgers – when we waited for an hour for our oppurtunity to sit, we found out they had run out of gluten-free buns. Sheer horror on our faces prompted our waiter to dash down the hall to the bakers to beg a bun – he came back with a loaf, gratis, only to be told they had already restocked! So he gave us the loaf. Now that is class. Stuff all this careful waitering – give me someone who will RUN for my dinner any day.

Then we went to the Ritzy cinema to watch The Avengers, a perfect day perfectly ended. Maybe I should get L to expand on that though! I just enjoyed the film. Ahem. Sorry.

I think I must have worn myself out effusing now, I have nothing left. Sorry, but it really is how I want to talk about them even in person!

After all that getting out the excitement, time for some settling down for a day of knitting. The bottom picture is how I started, and how I usually work. Not pretty. So the top picutre is how I cleared my mind to try and get somewhere!

I’ve had a stash of Shetland yarn culled from charity shops in Aberdeen for some time, and I am determined to knit a fiar isle jumper from them. It’s hard to resist the sheer endless numbers of patterns and colours and combinations of fair isle. The skill and the difficulty of it is making it work in a balanced way, so that the patterns work in harmony with the colour changes, while the patterns don’t overwhelm each other. Knitting is not hard for me, I like the challenge and learning different techniques. But choices! Not my forte. And trying to decide on which patterns to go for and how to use colour is really really hard. L does it almost without thinking, because she has a real talent for it, developed with seriously beautiful cross stitch samplers that she used to do… before I hooked her on knitting.

At the moment, I am whittling down my colour choices, focussing more on the blues and greys as my main colours. But I need a contrast colour too. THis is much harder when you have a limited palette! I wish I could just choose all the Jamieson and Smith colours. I am determined not to add to my stash this year though, unless there are mitigating circumstances… like, I dunno, an awesome sale, orr…

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Chicken Noodle Soup

This is the chicken noodle soup that L asks for when she feels sick, or fed up. It’s easy to make but tasty and soothing! The chicken thighs make it unctuous and add an extra chickeny flavour. you could use breast if you wanted but it would add less flavour.

Ingredients:

1 onion, chopped
Butter and a little oil
2 cloves garlic
1 leek (or two), diced
4 boned chicken thighs, without skin
About 1 litre chicken stock (I like those knorr jelly cubes, fresh chicken stock would be even better!)
2 tbsp chopped parsley
2 bay leaves
Small tin sweetcorn
Salt and black pepper

Your choice of noodles – I use broken up gluten-free spaghetti, but L likes teeny-tiny bows

Method:

Melt the butter with the oil, and gently sautee the chopped onion until soft. Add the diced leeks, and cook gently until the leeks are softened but not brown. Crush or chop the garlic cloves and stir in. Cook for a minute.

Cut the chicken into bite-sized pieces and add. Turn the heat up a bit to brown the chicken slightly. This is easier if you can be arsed to take the onion and leeks out of the pan so you can get the pan hot without overcooking it – I don’t usually because pale chicken doesn’t bother me. Stir in the parsley,  bay leaves, and the salt and pepper.

Pour in the chicken stock, bring to the boil, and lower the heat to a gentle simmer. Cook for 20 minutes or until the chicken is cooked through.

Cook your choice of ‘noodles’ seperately, as normal, until al dente.

Drain and rinse your sweetcorn and add to the soup. Cook through for a few minutes. Check the seasoning and add a bit more chopped parsley. Put your noodles in a bowl and top up with soup. Eat piping hot with toast. Nom!

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Inspiration for designing the site….

I’ve been trying to find websites to go with Hero’s recipe collection and I realised that she had a lot of Nigel’s recipes and that his food often ends up being very adaptable for Coeliacs. Here’s the link: http://www.nigelslater.com/

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