Paprika chicken with mango, avocado and sweet potato in a red wine vinegar and honey dressing

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I’ve never been one to make a boring salad. Some people will rustle together some tomatoes, cucumber and lettuce and call it done, but I like to go to town with a salad and throw in some really simple but delicious ingredients.

I invented this dish after raiding the fridge and wondering what I could put together in under half an hour with leftovers and it’s one of the best salads I’ve ever tasted. The sweetness of the mango and honey, mixed in with the spice of the paprika and the creaminess of the avocado work really well together and it makes for a great weeknight meal when you’re in a rush to get to yoga.

If you fancy adding a few carbs into the mix, slice up a nice, fresh ciabatta and layer on the ingredients for a quick, on the move meal.

 Ingredients

  • Chicken breast or leftover meat
  • 1 – 2 tsp of paprika
  • 1 ripe avocado
  • 1 mango
  • 1 red or yellow pepper
  • Half sweet potato
  • Mixed salad leaves
  • Red wine vinegar
  • Honey
  • Olive oil
  • Salt and pepper

 

  1. First preheat the oven to 190 degrees Celsius and layer the bottom of a tray with foil
  2. Make slashes on the top of the chicken and place on the tray, sprinkle with 1-2 tsp of paprika depending on personal spice preferences and season with salt and pepper
  3. Chop the sweet potato into chunks and drizzle a generous amount of olive oil onto the whole tray. Place in the oven and cook for 25-30 minutes
  4. Chop the mango into chunks and the avocado and pepper into slices
  5. Meanwhile, layer a plate with the salad leaves and prepare the dressing by adding a tsp of red wine vinegar, honey and olive oil into a mug and mixing well
  6. After 15 minutes into cooking, add the pepper onto the tray
  7. Eight minutes before full cooking time, add the mango and avocado to the tray and drizzle on the dressing to complete
  8. Once the chicken is cooked, take out the tray and add the ingredients to the salad

Rosemary lamb salad with shredded sweet potato in a mint and honey sauce

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This has to be the most delicious salad I have ever invented. The juice of the lamb blended in with the honey and mint is to die for and it’s a perfect, filling salad to throw together in just a few short minutes using left over ingredients.

You have the option here of using the leftover meat from a Sunday roast, but if you’re anything like me and scoff a whole leg of lamb in a single afternoon, a nice tender lamb steak will work just as well. The combination of olives and mint add a touch of Morrocan influence to the dish which works really well alongside the shredded sweet potato.

Ingredients

  • Lamb steak
  • Quarter of sweet potato
  • Two spring onions
  • Pine nuts
  • Cherry tomatoes
  • Cucumber
  • Stuffed olives
  • Honey
  • Mint sauce
  • Mint jelly
  • Olive oil
  • Rosemary
  • Salad leaves
  1. Heat a glug of olive oil in a frying pan
  2. Chop up the lamb, place in the frying pan and sprinkle with rosemary
  3. Slice the sweet potato into thin slices and fry in the pan with plenty of olive oil until golden
  4. Chop the spring onions and add to the pan
  5. In a bowl, add a generous helping of honey and mint jelly and half teaspoon of mint sauce
  6. Drizzle the sauce over the lamb in the frying pan and mix well
  7. Prepare the salad by chopping the cherry tomatoes in half and the cucumber into quarters and placing on a bed of lettuce leaves
  8. Dot the olives around the plate and sprinkle on the pine nuts
  9. Transfer the meat onto the salad and serve

Bacon baguette with melted cheese, fig jam and drizzled honey

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Friday night is snack night at my house, and I love nothing more than to get back home and begin the weekend with a delicious meal that takes just minutes to whip up, leaving me with more time to re-watch my Game of Thrones box set with a small, okay, large glass or two of wine.

It is tradition to have bacon sarnies in my family, mainly so we have a good appetite left over to enjoy a whole two days of good wining and dining. However, in true ‘whatever you make, I can make better gluten free’ style, I decided to go one step further this week and cook up a bacon baguette with melted cheese and spring onion, drizzled in a sweet fig and honey sauce for good measure. Well, I don’t like to blow my own trumpet, but I have to say it beats a bacon and tommie sauce cob any day!

So, without further delay let’s have a look at how this fantastic concoction was first invented. I promise you won’t be disappointed.

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Ingredients

  • Gluten free baguette or ciabatta
  • 3 good strips of crispy bacon
  • Cheese – I used Violife dairy free cheese
  • Spring onion
  • 3-4 figs with the flesh scooped out
  • Honey
  • Coriander
  • Dairy free spread
  • Lettuce
  1. Grill the bacon until crispy
  2. Half the figs and scoop out the flesh. Mash into a fine jam
  3. Chop the onion and butter the baguette
  4. Place the cheese on the baguette and grill for 5 minutes until melted
  5. Put a layer of lettuce on top of the cheese and layer on half of the fig jam
  6. Put the bacon on top, sprinkle on the onion and coriander, then finish off with the rest of the fig jam and drizzle on some honey
  7. Serve and enjoy

Gluten free girl in Rome

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As any ‘free-fromer’ can imagine, after the initial excitement of booking my flight to Rome in the summer finally wore off, my next initial thought was ‘what the hell am I going to eat’ in a country famous for its wheat and dairy infested pizza, pasta and risotto dishes.

Like many others, there has to be a certain level of planning when booking a holiday and accommodation, and I’m sure I’m not alone in being generally thrilled when I discover that an apartment, such as the one I stayed at in Rome, contains a cooker and utensils, as at least I know that I can cook for myself should I not find anywhere suitable to eat.

Prior to my trip, my Mom had a google of gluten free places to eat in Rome near Vatican City where we were staying and came across a substantial number of suitable restaurants, alongside a printable card which explained to waiters in Italian about my dietary needs. Luckily for me, this card didn’t make an appearance once at the dinner table.

Upon arrival in Rome and once we had settled in, our tummies were grumbling and we all went off in search of a supermarket so that we could cook ourselves something up at the apartment. Although we could find no ‘supermarket’ bigger than what we would class as a corner shop, we stumbled across what looked like a little delicatessen selling booze, olive oil, a range of pasta and essentials such as pesto and sauces.

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Me and my cousin who also suffers from many food intolerances, were amazed when we found gluten free spaghetti, Burts crisps, which of course are handmade in Devon and Angelic gluten free ginger nut biscuits, which actually I struggle to find back home in Blighty even though they are British made. Strangely enough, the normal eaters in our group came out with not much to eat that they fancied and this is the first time ever I’ve found something to eat before they have.

On our second night, we all decided to head out to find the gluten free restaurant, La Soffita, situated in Piazza Del Risorgimento, which was about a five minute walk from us and just outside the walls of Vatican City.

The online menu we had found back home looked amazing as it specifically mentioned gluten free cooking on the homepage, but of course, I was still apprehensive about how much they knew and the language barriers. I needn’t have worried – upon telling them I couldn’t have gluten, I was presented with a list of the five Greens gluten free beers they sold, an extensive choice that I have not had made available to me in England – so far so good I thought.

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Then came the menu, which stated that the majority of dishes could be made gluten free for an additional two euros. I have to admit, the one thing I craved the most whilst in Rome was sampling a proper Roman pizza and here my wish came true. Explaining to my waiter that I couldn’t have cheese as I was dairy free, I asked whether they could do me up a pizza with just the tomato base and meat on top. Not quite the same of course but I was just delighted pizza was on offer to me. My cousin also, who can’t have tomatoes, had a list of choices on the menu of pizzas that could be made without the tomato base, and she too was thrilled to be able to eat pizza. What can I say, with a topping of spicy salami, herbs and cherry toms, my pizza was delicious, the base especially just melting in your mouth with its fine texture.

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Then came the pudding trolley, filled with beautifully presented Italian desserts. Being dairy free also, the puds were still out for me, but I did settle on some melon and my waiter obviously found it funny to put four massive pieces on my plate just in case I wasn’t full enough already. My cousin opted for the gluten free tiramisu which looked absolutely amazing and tasted it too as she told me whilst polishing it off – she couldn’t resist taking a bite before I could get in with my camera.

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Believing I’d just entered heaven and had been cured of having any food intolerances, the waiter then brought out some gluten and dairy free biscuits for us to sample, consisting of biscotti, pistachio and a nutty type biscuit. All I have to say is they were delicious and I came out of the restaurant beaming like a Cheshire cat at being able to eat normally again.

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The one thing I found so amazing about La Soffita, was that all around the restaurant, there were signs up saying that if your meal didn’t arrive with a flag in it, then by no means taste it as it’s not gluten free. Such a simple but great idea filled me with confidence that I was definitely getting the right meal, as there have been many times in England where I have had to check if it’s gluten free, send it back because it isn’t, or just been filled with dread at having to trust the clueless waiters. As I looked around the restaurant I noticed many people with these little flags on their meals out with friends and decided that this was the ‘place to go’ for coeliac’s.

Next day, after hours of sightseeing and with very sore feet, we found a typically Roman restaurant just a short walk from the Trevvi Fountain, which by the way was unfortunately under construction when we went there. Of course, being so close to such as famous tourist attraction, the prices rocketed a little, but both me and my Mom ordered the sea bass which came with a selection of vegetables. The waiters filleted it for me and it tasted lovely, so yet again I managed to eat out without too much trouble and with no confusion with the waiters.

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Our trip to Piazza de Navona was again a successful one. Walking round I saw signs up at restaurants stating that they did gluten free pasta and although the prices were high again due to their location, the place was wonderful and great for people watching. We all decided to stop for ice cream and upon settling at a little café, the waiter said that he could sort me out with some lemon sorbet drizzled with Prosecco. I have to admit, although I like sorbet it’s often my ‘I want pudding but I can’t eat anything’ choice, but let’s face it, I’d never tasted ‘proper’ sorbet before made in Italy. Presented in a long glass and mixed to a smooth, light consistency, I think that’s when I realised that the sorbet sold in England is NOT sorbet, but quite frankly, crushed fruity ice.

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Our last day in Rome and I was loathed to leave. After walking up to the top of St Peter’s Basilica and just stopping for a salad on the way back to the square, I was on the hunt for a snack. Unexpectedly I came across a small Spar and thought I was never going to find anything in there. Pleasantly surprised, I stumbled across a good selection of gluten free pasta and spaghetti, crisps, and plenty of the DS gluten free sweet range, including biscotti obviously made especially for the Italian market. Yet again the gluten free choice in Rome astounded me, now where in England would you walk into a tiny shop and find a great selection of gluten free foods?

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Evening came and of course, where were we going to spend our last night but back at La Soffita. On our last visit we’d seen some Roman women tucking into a platter of fried gluten free food as a starter which looked mouth-wateringly delicious, so we had no choice but to taste for ourselves, both ‘normal’ and ‘gluten free’ eaters, just how good this restaurant was at cooking. We were presented with fig and Parma ham flat bread, cheesy mozzarella balls, arancini balls, breaded courgettes, potato croquettes, sweet peppers, courgettes, tomatoes, and a range of beans. It was now confirmed, I had died and gone to heaven.

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For mains again, both me and my cousin opted for the pizza, hers tomato-less and mine cheese-less, and I finished off every single crumb as I knew I would never eat this well again once back home in England.

Now to finish off an amazing trip, we knew that somewhere in Rome there were ice cream parlours which sold soya and milk free ice creams and although we had all hunted around, we just couldn’t seem to find the one recommended on Google. My cousin, who speaks Italian, went round a few and happened to come across one called Lemongrass which was actually just a street away from where we were staying. They offered a few varieties of dairy free ice cream and gluten free cones, which unfortunately due to the fact that it was past half eleven at night, they had just ran out off. Stuffed to the brim from my delicious meal, I managed to polish off a pure cocoa and banana ice cream which tasted absolutely divine. Yet again, I couldn’t believe that I had just eaten something that would be so difficult to find back home.

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Taking into consideration the fact that I was dreading what I was going to eat in Rome, I still can’t believe that I managed to taste gluten free pasta, pizza and even dairy free ice cream on my travels round the city. The one thing that really impressed me and I think British restaurants catering for gluten free should introduce, is the flags on meals. They were such a simple idea but filled me with confidence to know that it hadn’t been mixed up with a normal meal that could make me very ill.

The fact that I could go into a little corner shop and find gluten free products for a snack was a bonus and something which I have never experienced in England as only supermarkets and health shops seem to cater for it. The Italians, whose national diet is obviously packed with wheat ingredients, have a huge call for gluten free and honestly, since coming back to England, I realise that we are actually quite far behind in catering for people with dietary restrictions – a fact that was confirmed to me on my first meal out since coming home when I was presented with a meal drowning in soy sauce.

It was very rare even when stopping off for a quick bite to eat that I came across a café that couldn’t cater for me in some way. One little café in a side street not far from the Colloseum had a selection of vegetables, potatoes fried in olive oil and gluten free biscuits that I could eat even though it was primarily a sandwich shop, and I believe it is things like this that England is missing out on.

Quite frankly when I planned to do a blog on gluten free eating in Rome, I thought I would be writing about how difficult it is to eat in the land of pizza and pasta, but upon my return, I now think I will struggle with the lack of care and consideration put into gluten free catering in England. I think we still have a long way to go before coeliac’s and anyone with food intolerances can eat out safely and enjoy their experience without having that nagging feeling that they may be ill afterwards.

Gluten free fajita kits from BFree

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Having been gluten free for a number of years now, the one thing I really, really missed was fajitas. They are without a doubt one of the best Friday night indulgencies – quick, easy and bloody delicious!

Of course, even just a few years ago the chances of coming across gluten free wraps was nought percent, they just weren’t available anywhere in the UK or at least to my knowledge, and sadly fajitas and enchiladas were a thing of the past for me. Obviously, having to watch my housemates at uni and my family scoffing these delicious Mexican treats was pretty soul destroying.

However, with the creation of Warbutons gluten free wraps and the Santa Maria UK (formerly Discovery Mexican) stir in sauces, fajitas have become a part of my weekend feasts again – which I have to say is about the best ‘welcome back to my life’ free-from find of 2014 so far.

The best thing about Santa Maria though is the fajita kits they manufacture. They are perfect for a family or friends wanting a quick, cheap and delicious meal mid-week as they incorporate the wraps, spice mixes and sauces without needing to buy it all separately. I was really happy when I discovered that one of my favourite free-from brands, BFree, had just launched a gluten, wheat, dairy, soy, nut, egg free version of these kits.

I found the fajita kits in my local Tesco and actually, I wouldn’t normally be too concerned to comment about the packaging, but the box just looked really appealing with the picture of two yummy chicken fajitas on the front and what also looks like a satisfied chilli complete with a face and arms telling me that it was of a ‘mild’ heat.

I have to say that one of the selling points of BFree products is their calorie count. As I’m sure many people know, gluten free foods usually contain double the amount of calories, fat and sugar than that of their ‘normal’ equivalents, and so it can be hard to follow a strict calorie controlled gluten free diet if you don’t want to give up the occasional slice of bread or cake. But the BFree kit, consisting of the wrap, seasoning and salsa, contains just 127 calories, which I don’t think is at all bad.

With six wraps contained, the kit could easily feed a few people for either a quick lunch or dinner, and of course the main problem with having such a big appetite as mine was trying desperately hard to fold the wraps once all the meat, salad and toppings were dolloped on top.

I have already prepared two meals out of the kit, one containing chicken, peppers and salad, and the other incorporating beef mince, kidney beans, peppers, cherry tomatoes, lettuce, grated cheese and a dollop of soya yoghurt on top (which is obviously the one I had to fight with in order to contain all of the ingredients in the wraps)

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The fajitas tasted absolutely delicious – really fresh, seasoned to perfection and most of all, they were the ultimate comfort food for my Friday night treat. I’m really pleased that BFree launched these kits, as I think the free-from market is really missing a trick with easy to make, take-away style sort of food.

I really hope that the company continues to make them, as from now on I’d quite like to make sure I have a kit in the cupboard for times when I need an easy meal or snack. I know the fajitas must have tasted good to ‘normal’ eaters, as my brother was hanging around in the kitchen waiting to taste some of the mix, and his reaction was “mmmm that’s gwwoourd” with a mouth full of food. Overall, BFree gets 10/10 yet for yet another great free-from invention. Thanks guys!

Greek inspired lamb breast in a red wine sauce with rosemary and garlic potatoes

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Without question, the Greeks know how to cook a good lamb dish. For my cousins wedding on the island of Rhodes in 2013, my good friend Nikos’ mamma cooked us up what must have been the best part of a whole lamb to celebrate the occasion. It had been slow cooked (even by Greek estimations it was slooow) for three whole days before being carefully transported to Flyers beach bar for all the guests to devour. Wow, the meat simply slid off the bone and without a doubt, I think I would rate it as the best food I have ever tasted in my whole entire life – and for a food lover such as myself that is quite a statement.

The thing that was so amazing about mamma’s dish, is that there were so few ingredients incorporated. Of course, I cannot tell you the recipe as I know full well that they don’t go outside of the family and I would have to be killed if I ever got hold of it. However, I do know that slow cooking makes even the cheapest cuts of meat taste divine, and that I would put my bets on the fact that mamma may have sneaked a little dribble of the old red wine in the casserole dish – which it has to mentioned was also cooked in the stone oven in the oldest house in the whole of Lindos.

This dish was made in my, shall we say, fairly newer electric oven, and slow cooked for nearly three and a half hours on a very low heat to soak up all of the juices and flavours of the Mediterranean. I served the meat alongside roasted garlic and rosemary potatoes, drizzled in the delicious Greek olive oil that I only ever get out for special dishes, as well as minted rice as I found this to be a very popular side dish in many tavernas.

Best part of all is, the olive oil and oregano had travelled all the way from Siana in the Rhodian mountains where Nikos’ Uncle George lives. George of course speaks not a word of English, but can remember my name as being Sophia and is generally in hysterics at everything going on as we try to communicate. If you ever visit Siana, George will no doubt be sat outside the little café playing backgammon and sipping on the lethal souma – whatever you do don’t tackle the mountainous roads back home after being persuaded to down a few with the Greeks. Yammas!

Ingredients

  • Lamb breast
  • 1 red pepper
  • Juice of 1 lemon
  • 1 onion chopped
  • 400g tin chopped tomatoes
  • 1 tsp dried oregano
  • 1 tsp garlic granules
  • 1 gluten free chicken stock cube
  • 300 ml red wine
  • Salt and pepper
  • New potatoes
  • 1 clove garlic
  • Rosemary
  • Fresh mint chopped
  • Rice (optional) sprinkled with mint and drizzled with olive oil from potato tray.
  1. Pre-heat the oven to 160 degrees Celsius.
  2. Heat some sunflower oil in a large frying pan and brown the lamb joint. Transfer to a casserole dish.
  3. Chop the red pepper and onion into chunks and transfer to a mixing bowl. Sprinkle over the dried oregano, garlic granules and the crumbled stock cube.
  4. Pour over the red wine, chopped tomatoes and season with salt and pepper before pouring over the lamb breast
  5. Cut the lemons in half and add them to the lamb and cook in the oven for around 3 and half hours until tender.
  6. Cut the new potatoes in half and bring to the boil for a couple of minutes.
  7. Drain the water and add the grated garlic clove, sprinkle with rosemary and drizzle with olive oil before giving them a good shake.
  8. Transfer the potatoes to the oven to cook for around half an hour until golden and crispy.
  9. If making rice, add some chopped, fresh mint at the end and drizzle the olive oil from the potato tray over the top to produce a succulent and refreshing side dish.

Chicken and bacon pasta in a creamy chilli sauce

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This is one of the quickest, easiest and most delicious dishes I have ever made. I have to admit it was actually my Mom who first whacked these ingredients together after searching through the fridge for some inspiration on what to cook that night for tea, and boy am I glad she told me about it.

This really is one of those dishes where you can pull out whatever is left over in the fridge, throw it into a frying pan and have a tasty dinner just 15 minutes later. It’s a great weeknight meal due to the fact it takes virtually no preparation and it can be adjusted to accommodate individual taste buds or dietary requirements. It’s even been served in my household when we’ve had guests come round unexpectedly with hungry tummies and they’ve all really loved it.

Mushrooms could be incorporated into the dish and if not making a dairy free version, then a sprinkling of parmesan wouldn’t go amiss. Serve alongside a crust of homemade garlic bread if you’re really hungry and you’ve got a delicious din dins for a busy school night.

Serves 2

Ingredients

  • 2 pieces of chicken breasts/thighs
  • Half fresh red chilli/ chilli powder to taste
  • 2 red, yellow or orange peppers
  • 2 rashers of bacon
  • Half tub of single soya cream (or normal if not dairy free)
  • Red onion chopped into small pieces
  • Basil
  • Gluten free pasta shells or macaroni
  • Salt and pepper
  1. Heat some olive oil in a frying pan, add the bacon and cook until starting to go crispy
  2. Add the chopped onion and allow to fry for 5 minutes until softened
  3. Add the chicken and cook until golden
  4. Meanwhile cook the pasta according to pack instructions
  5. Add the chilli and pepper
  6. Add the soya cream and stir into the meat mixture
  7. Season with salt and pepper
  8. Drain the pasta and blend in with the sauce alongside a scattering of fresh or dried basil

Macaroni con Pomodori

I have to admit, there are days when I get home after a long day at work and all I would love to do is pull something out of the freezer and wack it into the oven, like most ‘normal’ eaters out there do on a daily basis. I love cooking, but there are some days when you’ve worked too hard and just feel like slobbing out rather than pottering around in the kitchen.

This recipe is ideal for those days when you want something quick and easy, as well as being perfect for the days when you look in your fridge and realise you really need to go food shopping. It’s a simple family meal using the essential ingredients you usually have in the house, and best of all it’s yumicious!

Traditionally, pomodori is made with macaroni and Heinz do a gluten free version in major supermarkets. However, to stick to the traditional ‘pulling out whatever you have in your cupboards’ routine, I opted for tube shaped gluten free pasta which in my opinion is just as tasty.

A major plus point is that the sauce is naturally gluten and dairy free and so no changes need to be made if cooking for ‘normal eaters.’ Alternatively, halve the ingredients listed to make for 1-2 people – I often freeze the sauce to use at a later date. Happy days!

Serves 4

Ingredients

  • 1 large onion
  • 2 cloves garlic
  • 1 small chilli or small 1 tsp chilli flakes to taste
  • 4 rashers smoked bacon cut into small chunks
  • 2 cans of tomatoes
  • 250g gluten free macaroni or whatever is in the cupboard
  • Grated cheese (I used Lactofree)
  • Sugar and salt
  • Mixed herbs to sprinkle in

1)    Heat some oil in a saucepan and fry the chopped onion, crushed garlic cloves and the bacon chunks. Leave to fry gently for 10 minutes.

2)    Add the tins of tomatoes with a teaspoon of sugar and half teaspoon of salt.

3)    Bring to the boil and leave to simmer for around 20 minutes.

4)    Cook the macaroni and take off the hob just before it becomes al dente, as the sauce will soften the pasta once in the oven.

5)    Once the sauce is cooked, pour half of the macaroni on the bottom of a baking dish and layer half of the sauce and grated cheese on top.

6)    Repeat this step again with the pasta, sauce and cheese.

7)    Put in the oven for about 15-20 minutes until crisp and melted.

Lazy Day Food’s Brilliant Biscuits

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IMG_0086Tea and biscuits is one of the best things in life. As a nation we are truly obsessed with these two things, to the extent that we have long debates over whether a Jaffa Cake falls into the category of cake or biscuit, to which biscuit is best for dunking.

My favourite biscuits and cakes by far, are made by Lazy Days Food. These vegan sweet treats are all gluten, wheat, dairy and egg free and are made in Scotland by food scientists with a particular interest in intolerances.

In the biscuit range I love the Belgian Dark Chocolate Ginger Snaps the most. Combining my two absolute favourite things in life, chocolate and ginger, these biscuits are the best things I have ever tasted, and I’m not just comparing them to only free from biscuits. I can honestly say that if I handed these out to non ‘free fromers,’ I don’t think they would ever believe they are gluten, wheat and dairy free. If you love ginger as much as I do, then these are for you, but just don’t dunk them – I did and lost half my biscuit in my cup of tea.

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The Millionaire’s Shortbread is simply heaven on a plate. I adore shortbread, caramel and chocolate, so what could I possibly hate about these. I admit, I buy these the most as not only are they sold in Sainsbury’s, but they are my favourite of all the Lazy Day tray bake varieties.

The Chocolate Ginger Truffle Slices consist of Belgian chocolate and ginger truffle, with biscuit and sultanas in the middle, and are finished off with a delicious crunchy ginger stripe across the top which I think really compliments the soft cake. I love ginger and personally, I do like my ginger cakes and biscuits to be quite strong in taste, to which these fit the bill. However, I would say that if you are not a massive fan of a lot of ginger, these may be quite rich in flavour, but personally I love them and they come in second place amongst the tray bakes.

The Belgian Dark Chocolate Tiffin is slightly similar to a Rocky Road, covered in Belgian chocolate, with sultanas and biscuit as the filling, they are just a few marshmallows away from being the real thing. If you’re a chocolate lover, then these are to die for, and I think we can say we’ve had our fruit intake with the juicy sultanas included….can’t we?

Other biscuits and tray bakes in the Lazy Day Food range include the Chocolate Orange Slice, Ginger Snaps, Scottish Shortbread, Chocolate Chip Scottish Shortbread and Iced Fruit Cake Slice which tastes just like a tiny piece of Christmas pudding. Quite frankly, I can’t wait to purchase more of these delicious treats and the company has definitely got a customer for life in me!

 

Greek Mezze

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It is no secret that I absolutely adore Greece. I love the country, the people, the culture and most of all, the food. Having spent countless summers on the beautiful island of Rhodes making friends for life and mixing with the locals, I can’t deny that if I had to change nationalities, I would choose to be Greek.

The thing that I really admire about the Greeks is their passion for cooking as a way of bringing people together. If you ever visit the country, you will never be far from a family gathered around a table sharing a mezze, a variety of national or local dishes similar to Spanish tapas. Believe me, if you ever have the pleasure of joining a family for a mezze you will be overwhelmed by the variety of flavours and colours presented to you. Never be afraid to try out the local dishes, I was pleasantly surprised by what I have tasted on my travels that I would never have dreamed of eating before back in England – squid and mussels being some of them.

This week, my brother and his girlfriend had us all round for a Greek afternoon and I was told I needn’t worry about bringing my own food, as it would all be gluten, wheat and cow’s milk free. We had a beautiful selection of dishes to choose from, including chicken skewers, lamb and mint mini burgers, Greek salad with feta cheese, olives, bell stuffed peppers, rosemary and garlic roast potatoes, gluten free pitta bread with a red pepper hummus dip and homemade tzatziki, as well as beef stifado which had been slow cooked.

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My brother Nick cooking up a Greek feast

One of my favourite Greek dishes is Moussaka and I have to admit that it is the one thing I really miss being able to have when I am over in Greece, as unfortunately it does contain flour and milk which is off limits to me. However, with a few alterations, this national dish can be made at home with minimal effort, and quite frankly it is delicious even if I may say so myself.

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Here is a recipe I found in Greece in a cookbook and although there are many recipes out there which have been incorporated into fancier looking and more difficult dishes to make, when it comes to proper Greek cooking, simplicity is key.

Moussaka

Serves 4

  • 2 kilos of large aubergines
  • 1 kilo of mince
  • ½ cup of olive oil
  • 2 large onions
  • 5 ripe tomatoes skinned and finely chopped
  • ½ cup of dry white whine
  • Salt and pepper
  • 1 teaspoon of oregano
  • Grated kefalotiri sheep/goats cheese (parmesan or dairy free cheese can be used instead)
  • 2-3 portions of white sauce or if dairy free, I use Free & Easy dairy free cheese sauce and follow the pack instructions

1)    Peel, wash and cut the aubergines into large thin slices and leave them to drain in salt.

2)    Brown the mince in the oil with the onion.

3)    Pour in the wine, tomatoes and season with salt, pepper and oregano

4)    Allow to boil until the moisture has been absorbed.

5)    Fry the aubergines and spread them in a large roasting tin and sprinkle with grated cheese.

6)    After the first layer, spread the mince on top and then add another layer of aubergines, then sprinkle again with the grated cheese.

7)    Pour on the white or dairy free sauce so that the surface of the moussaka is covered with a thick layer of sauce and finish with the cheese.

8)    Cook in the oven for around 30 – 40 minutes until cooked through and crisp.

Variations – Thin sliced potatoes can be incorporated into the dish and fried before adding to the layers for a more filling and thicker moussaka, or alternatively, the aubergines can be swapped with courgettes.

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A shot of Souma and you’ll be smashing the plates….Yammas!!