Seriously Good! Gluten-Free Cooking by Phil Vickery – Review

Seriously Good! Gluten-Free Cooking by Phil Vickery on AmazonSanta was kind enough to bring me Seriously Good! Gluten-Free Cooking this Christmas; and it is seriously good!

Phil Vickery (aka as Mr Fern Britton) is a Michelin starred chef who regularly appears on UK daytime TV and writes a weekly column for a Sunday supplement.

So when it comes to food for the whole family, Phil really knows his stuff.

His latest book has a huge range of recipe ideas. Chapters include Comfort; Outdoors; Snacks & Quick Food; Vegetarian; and Parties and Entertaining. As well as a host of recipes for Cakes, Pastries, Biscuits and Desserts. And this is what I like about this book: there’s a nice balance between every day healthy options and sweet treats. A particular favourite of mine is Millionaire’s Shortbread with Bramley Apple Dip. Delicious.

Other recipes include healthy breakfast drinks such as carrot, ginger, celery, beetroot and apple juice; guaranteed to get you going in the morning and a fave of Fern’s, apparently.

Or how about breakfast fruit seed bars made with sunflower seeds, blueberries and gluten free porridge oats. These are so easy to make and perfect for the lunch box or as an on-the-go snack.

The snacks chapter includes onion bhajis with mango and mint yogurt, and marinated smoked salmon with picked ginger. A really easy supper dish to make is borlotti bean, chilli and pine nut bake made with gluten free pasta. This is a really quick meal to prepare on a cold winter’s night.

Talking of tasty comfort foods, the chestnut and roasted onion bread is another recipe that’s quick and easy to do (and fool-proof!). As is the lemon and leek risotto and curry pilaf with cashews.

Phil’s book also includes a list of foods that are naturally gluten free. As well as a handy guide to ‘foods and drinks that may include gluten without you realising it’. These include flavoured crisps, malted milk drinks, mustard products, Bombay mix, stock cubes and seasoning mixes.

A superbly presented book, Seriously Good! Gluten-Free Cooking has lots of coloured photographs and an introduction to each recipe from Phil. Worth getting. Especially for the shortbread.

Millionaire’s Shortbread with Bramley Apple Dip

This recipe is taken from Seriously Good! Gluten-Free Cooking by Phil Vickery.

What a lovely combination: sweet, creamy, chocolate matched with the tartness of the Bramley apple dip. It’s just superb!

For the base:

  • 150g brown rice flour
  • 55g caster sugar
  • 115g unsalted butter
  • Oil or butter for greasing

For the filling:

  • 150g unsalted butter
  • 150g soft dark brown sugar
  • 397g tin of condensed milk

For the topping:

  • 200g milk chocolate, broken into pieces
  • 55g white chocolate, broken into pieces

For the dip:

  • 4 large Bramley apples, peeled and cored
  • 150g caster sugar
  • 1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • Finely grated zest and juice of 1 orange
  • Finely grated zest and juice of 1 lemon

Pre-heat the oven to 180°C/350°F/Gas mark 4.

Grease and line a 20cm square tin with baking parchment. To make the base, mix the flour and sugar together and then rub into the butter until it resembles coarse breadcrumbs. Press this mixture very lightly and evenly into the tin and bake for about 15 – 20 minutes or until pale golden.

To make the filling, place the butter and sugar in a large non-stick frying pan and stir over a medium heat until the butter melts and the sugar dissolves. To make a golden caramel, add the condensed milk, stirring continuously, until the first bubble appear on the surface. Remove from the heat as soon as it comes to the boil. Spread the caramel evenly over the shortbread base and the cool and chill for about 30 minutes.

Place the apples, sugar, cinnamon, lemon and orange zest and juice in a medium pan and cook down until the apples are cooked. Place the milk and white chocolate in two separate heatproof bowls. Place the bowls over two pans of barely simmering water to melt the chocolate.

Pour the melted milk chocolate over the cooled caramel, smoothing to the edges. Quickly pour over the white chocolate and gently swirl to create a marbled effect. Allow to set. When the chocolate has set, cut the shortbread into squares and serve with the dip.

Sweet Potato and Carrot Soup

This recipe is taken from The Wheat and Dairy Free Cookbook by Terence Stamp & Elizabeth Buxton.

This is a very clean tasting soup that has a truly amazing colour. Neither orange nor red, it is a brilliant flame colour. Equally delicious hot or cold, this is a useful party standby and makes a refreshing alternative to gazpacho. It may seem from the ingredient list that this is a very spicy soup, but it is not. The blend of flavours is very carefully balanced and no one ingredient dominates.

  • Olive oil – 5 tbsp
  • Carrots, diced – 140 g (5 oz)
  • Orange-fleshed sweet potato, cut into chunks – 140 g (5 oz)
  • Onion, chopped – 115 g (4 oz)
  • 10 green cardamom seeds
  • Coriander seeds – 1 tsp
  • 3 dried bay leaves
  • Turmeric or a few saffron strands – ½ tsp
  • Lemon juice – 1 tbsp
  • Can chopped tomatoes – 1 x 400 g (1 x 14 oz)
  • Stock, either vegetable or chicken – 500 ml (16 fl oz)

For the garnish:

  • Sheep’s yoghurt – 100 ml (3½ fl oz)
  • Chopped fresh chives

In a heavy saucepan heat the oil and cook the carrot, sweet potato and onion for 3 minutes. Add the spices and stir them into the oil for 1 minute. Add the lemon juice, tomatoes and stock, and simmer covered with a lid for 30 minutes, or until the vegetables are tender. Remove the bay leaves and liquidise the contents of the pan in a food processor. Pass the purée through a sieve.

If the soup is to be served hot, pour back into the cleaned saucepan and gently reheat. The soup is meant to be fairly thick, but if you prefer a thinner soup, add a little more stock at this stage. You may then need to adjust the seasoning slightly with a little more lemon juice and black pepper.

If the soup is to be served cold, pour into a bowl, cover and chill in the refrigerator.

Whether hot or cold, garnish with a dollop of the yoghurt into which you have whisked the chives.

Serves 4

Review of Gluten-Free Italian by Jacqueline Mallorca

Gluten-Free Italian on AmazonWhen I was diagnosed with having coeliac disease and had to start following a gluten free diet, one of the things I most missed was the frequent visits to my local Italian. All those lovely pasta dishes in creamy sauces were suddenly very much off limits.

So I was pleased to see the recent publication of Gluten-Free Italian written by Jacqueline Mallorca (author of the Wheat-Free Cook) and published by Da Capo Press. This beautiful book, packed full of colour photos, contains 150 gluten free versions of your favourite traditional Italian recipes.

Chapter headings include Soup for Supper; Sweet Things; Risotto and other Grains; Catch of the Day; Contorni/Vegetable Dishes; and Bread, Pizza and Crostini. And contain delicious recipes which will please every member of the family; not just those who are gluten free.

There are recipes for gluten free bruschetta and pizzas, to fabulous pasta dishes and sweet treats like tiramisu. (A personal favourite.)

And there’s a range of recipes as well, from everyday cooking to dinner party meals. Jacqueline also includes cooking tips and techniques; recipe background information; a gluten free shopping guide; and a list of gluten free foods to have in your larder.

All in all, Gluten-Free Italian is a fabulous addition to your cookbook collection. And a must for lovers of Italian cooking.

How free of gluten does a foodstuff have to be to be labelled ‘gluten free’?

If you’re following a gluten free diet you’ll be familiar with the gluten free label on foods. But how free of gluten is ‘gluten free’? Is it possible to have a product totally free of gluten?

Well, no.

In reality, foodstuffs labelled ‘gluten free’ do contain traces of gluten. But it’s in such tiny amounts it’s considered not harmful to a coeliac sufferer. For food to be labelled ‘gluten free’ it needs to have less than 20mg of gluten per kg. In other words 200 parts per million (ppm). (This applies in European Union countries only.)

Food products which contain between 20 and 100ppm can be labelled ‘very low gluten’ and these may suit sufferers who have less sensitivity to gluten. Or are able to eat gluten occasionally.

This two tier labelling system came into affect in January 2009 but manufactures have until January 2012 to comply with the law.

Don’t forget that some mainstream products like crisps (potato chips) and rice cakes are naturally gluten free although the manufacturer may not choose to label it as such. As always, remember to check the label!

Find out more about other gluten free foods.