A Gluten Free, Low Sugar, Low Fat Lemon and Blueberry Cake

OK, gluten free, low sugar and low fat are not words you will usually find on The Gammon Kitchen. Sugar and fat are my main food groups. However, I’ve been following The Culinary Jumble run by the lovely Tracy for a while and her blog has started to really focus on offering healthier alternatives that are still tasty and simple to make. As a Brit living in Sweden, her blog is chock full of delicious Scandi inspired goodies such as saffron and white chocolate buns as well as British classics like nostalgic jam tarts. If you’re looking for gluten free options you can find everything from a jaffa cake sponge to cinnamon bun waffles. I had one of those ‘lick the screen’ moments recently when Tracy posted a recipe for hot cross bun rolls, a hybrid of a cinnamon roll and a hot cross bun. I didn’t get round to making them for Easter but have them bookmarked for next year.

I’ve not done a whole lot of gluten free baking as quite frankly, I have no need to. It’s always good to give things a go though and I was intrigued by the ingredients for the lemon and blueberry cake which was originally posted on The Culinary Jumble back in January. It’s a bit of a bonus that it’s also low fat and low sugar as let’s face it, most of us could do with less of the bad stuff. Tyler (my fiancé of 10 years and lovely cat dad to our two fur babies) got rather excited when I said I was going to be doing a spot of baking. His heart sank when he saw me putting gluten free flour and brown cane sugar in the shopping trolley. He loves cake. I get it. The idea of a gluten free, low fat, low sugar cake doesn’t sound awfully appealing but Tracy’s post images had my mouth watering and I was excited to give it a go.

The ingredient list isn’t scary like some alternative cakes. I was able to get everything I needed in Sainsbury’s. The brown cane sugar does have stevia added, which I’m not sure is entirely right but it was all I could get. Yes, before you ask, it was ridiculously overpriced, but you don’t need much of it so it will last ages and it smells delicious. I’m going to try it in coffee. I used frozen blueberries and lemon juice from a bottle as I already had some in the cupboard.

The recipe is ridiculously easy to follow and didn’t create too much mess which is always a bonus. Within 20 minutes of thinking about making the cake it was in the oven and my kitchen smelt lovely and sweet. The youngest cat was most intrigued and spent the entire time rubbing himself up my legs and meowing. Maybe he was just hungry, I didn’t think to check his food dish as my biggest concern was cake. Obviously. I tested the cake after 30 minutes and it seemed to be cooked but when I went back to it 10 minutes later there was a puddle of uncooked mixture and the cake had sunk a little in the middle so I popped it back in the oven. 10 minutes later it was cooked but a little too dark on top. Next time I will probably cook for 45 minutes on a lower temperature.

So what’s the verdict? It took all my will power (I don’t have much at the best of times) not to eat it piping hot from the oven because it smelt so good. I knew that if I tried to slice it when it was too warm it would just crumble and I would ruin any chance of a decent picture for the ‘gram. It felt like hours before it was cool enough to slice and serve up with cups of tea, or in my case warm milk with a tea bag dunked in for approximately 1.7 seconds. The wait was worth it though. What a lovely tea time treat. The cake is so moist with a delicate tang from the lemon and Greek yogurt and the blueberries explode in your mouth. It’s not too sweet meaning you don’t feel too guilty (not that you should ever feel guilty for anything that doesn’t harm anyone or anything else). I would happily eat this for breakfast or with tea drunk from a china cup and saucer for an afternoon treat or warm with whipped cream for pudding.

Tyler’s verdict? 8/10 but would be better with chocolate. I’ll take that.

If you want to give healthier baking a go you can find Tracy’s recipe here. Do it!

This is the cake in it’s full, glazed, cracked, rustic glory. I actually like it when a cake has cracks, imperfections are beautiful. This is what I tell myself every morning when I look in the mirror. If the mantra is good enough for me, it’s good enough for my cake.

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The loaf sliced pretty well, the odd crumb here and there which may or may not have gone straight into my mouth, but a fairly clean cut with a bread knife. The blueberries sunk which I was expecting because they were frozen but I don’t mind that at all.

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You see what I mean about my tea. I’m a terrible Brit.

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And a second slice whilst writing the post because I can. I mean, its low fat and low sugar and if I eat the whole thing that’s one of my 5 a day so really its practically a health food. Oh dear, you can see how long this cake is going to last.

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Thanks to The Culinary Jumble for the recipe and for the inspiration to get my bake on!

Let me know if you try it out too!

Tania x

Once You Go Wrap, You’ll Never Go Back: A Recipe

I can’t call this a recipe, I just can’t. But it will change your life. Maybe. I got the idea when I was at work and the canteen were serving fish finger wraps with sweet chilli sauce. It’s not exactly groundbreaking to entomb some fish fingers in a tortilla wrap but it’s just so much better than a fish finger sandwich. Trust me on this, once you go wrap you will never go back.

All you need to do is cook four fish fingers according to the packet instructions. For reference, I like Youngs more than Birds Eye. Cook them a little bit longer than the box says for some extra satisfying crunch. Get yourself a large tortilla wrap and squirt some mayonnaise down the centre. Pile on a handful of rocket leaves and a few slices of ripe avocado then top with the fish fingers followed by a generous drizzle of sweet chilli sauce. Wrap and roll and thank me later.

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For the simple fact that this has avocado in it, you can totally class it as a health food and eat as many as you like. I’ll take this opportunity to admit getting through a whole box of fish fingers making these for myself one night as I just kept wanting more. That, my friends, is the sign of a good meal.

Stay tuned for more recipes!

Tania x

 

 

Brunch Club

Amongst the endless stream of chores, bills and responsibilities that come with adulthood lurk some rather lovely perks: Not being forced to eat your vegetables; choosing your own clothes; having brunch. As a teenager I would roll out of bed halfway through the day and just lay around in a fluffy pink dressing gown eating jam on toast and regretting my life choices thus far. My initial years of adulthood were largely spent doing things that I’d never had the financial freedom to do before such as going out for dinner and planning lovely holidays. Nowadays, I’m happy to accept the fact that my favourite place in the world is home and I love nothing more than being in my kitchen in a comfy t-shirt making friends and family something lovely to eat. I’m very comfortable with being an adult and to celebrate I invited my equally adult friends round for brunch expecting us to have very adult conversations whilst sipping tea from China cups with our pinky fingers sticking out. What followed, however, was nothing short of chaos.

It turns out that a host who isn’t actually that good at adulting, three friends with varying skills in both parenting and cat-parenting, a toddler, a newborn baby, an angry cat, a playful kitten and a really tiny dining table can create absolute carnage.

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I got off to a good start by setting the table with some nice cups and saucers for the tea, cute bottles with straws for the smoothies and champagne glasses for the water because frankly they’re the only type of glasses for which I have a matching set of four. Jess (expert mother of three children and three dogs, very little cat experience) got to work making everyone tea and quickly realised that the inept host (me) hadn’t thought to check the date on the milk and we were now faced with a dilemma. Jade (surprisingly good with children despite not being a parent, hates cats) drove to the shop that is a 30 second walk from my house with her Louis Vuitton handbag and tried to use a credit card to pay for a 90p bottle of milk in a cornershop that looks like it hasn’t changed since World War 2. Milkgate eventually involved Jade driving the 2.8 seconds back to my house, me begrudgingly having to go outside in my Ugg slippers to deliver change all in 10ps that I had scraped together from the back of the sofa, Jade going back to the shop looking like a tourist and finally bringing the milk back. All for Jess to never actually finish making the tea.

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We had smashed avocado on toasted rye bread with crispy streaky bacon and poached eggs to start. Normal bread wasn’t on the menu as Jade imposed her allergies on the rest of us but actually the rye bread was delicious. To make this most-basic-bitch-on-instagram brunch dish for yourself, just mash two avocados with a good pinch of salt and a squeeze of lime juice and spread this onto 4 slices of toasted rye bread. Top each toast with two slices of crispy bacon and a poached egg. I poach my eggs by bringing a pan of water to a gentle boil, adding a dash of cider vinegar and gently dropping the eggs in one by one from a ramekin. Cook for three minutes then transfer to kitchen towel to remove the excess water. You can drizzle the toast with some hot sauce to be extra hipster.

As we ate, Maggie (Jess’s youngest) decided to play in my vegetable trolley and throw my onions around the kitchen because that is of course the most fun one can have with onions and Bear (my kitten) took great pleasure in terrorising Jade. We’re all quite OK at this point and having a giggle about life before children and cats. Jess picks Bear up for a cuddle and drops him clean on his head. They say cats always land on their feet. That’s a lie.

The next course was a green smoothie. I made this by blending together 2 pears, one apple, a chunk of cucumber, two balls of frozen spinach, half an avocado and some apple juice until it was smooth with a vibrant green hue. We drank this out of dainty milk bottles with star patterned paper straws because I like to waste my hard earned money on shit.

Lulu (my older, grumpier cat) spends the entire time licking the cellphone wrapping of a gift that Jade bought round for Ellen (brand new human mum, experienced cat mum) because that’s her most favourite thing to do.

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We moved on to our final course, a rainbow fruit salad with honey orange dressing. I mixed together blueberries, green grapes, halved strawberries and chunks of mango and poured over a dressing made from a heaped tablespoon of warmed honey and about the same of orange juice. We had this with shop bought coconut macaroons and more chats about nipple pads, smelly nappies and cat poo. Bear decided this was the perfect time for cuddles and joined us at the table trying to eat a strawberry as it travelled from my bowl to my mouth. My friends decided to never come to eat again.

Brunch turned into a chilled afternoon involving the trivia game on the Google Home Mini, a selfie stick (yes they still exist) and a game of ‘put that where Maggie can’t reach it and the cats can’t lick it’. My house ended up looking like Changing Rooms had been in, with everything below hip level in a different place and onions in unimaginable locations. Teddy (Ellen’s baby: cute but does the smelliest farts) had some lovely cuddles and managed to leave with all facial features in tact despite Lulu’s best efforts. I had a mountain of washing up and a lot of gone off milk to dispose of but it was worth it for a lovely day of fun, friendship and food. This is adulthood at its most special and I wouldn’t change it for the world.

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Speak soon,

Tania x

 

 

 

 

Some Dolly Parton Musings and a Broccoli and Stilton Soup Recipe

Does anyone else struggle to spell broccoli? No? Just me then…

It’s mid March and in the UK that means it’s still effing freezing but we pretend it’s not. I popped to Asda in the week and saw some bloke loitering around the ready meal section wearing a pair of shorts. Shorts! A couple of days after the snow had cleared. We spend so long hibernating away in chunky knits and fur coats (that one’s for you Jess) that as soon as the temperature goes into double digits we want to show a bit of skin and get the limbs out. I get it. But really, it’s not shorts weather. I’m just about managing to ditch the wooly coat and swap it in for a Spring like trench but the thermal vest is going no-where fast. Welcome to 30 kids!

This in-between weather means you don’t quite want to eat the heavy stews and casseroles of winter but shudder at the thought of a salad. What am I saying? I always shudder at the thought of a salad. The beauty of this broccoli and stilton soup is that it’s warming and nourishing but vibrant and, well, it’s green. Which means spring, right? It’s also easy, cheap and a sneaky way to get some veg in.

Serves 4

What you need:

  • 1 small onion, finely chopped
  • 1 tsp olive oil
  • 1 tsp butter
  • 1 head broccoli
  • 750ml vegetable stock (from a cube)
  • 100g stilton
  • double cream, optional

What you do:

  1. Sautee the finely chopped (or as finely chopped as I can possibly manage) onion in the oil and butter with a pinch of salt over a low heat for about 5 minutes, making sure the onion doesn’t colour too much. Pale gold is your limit here.
  2. Separate the florets from the stalks on your head of broccoli and finely chop the stalks. Add these to the onion and cook for around 10 minutes, stirring regularly, before adding the florets and cooking for 5 minutes more.
  3. Add in the vegetable stock, pop on a lid and cook for around 15 minutes until the vegetables are soft.
  4. Remove from the heat and blend until very smooth. This is not the time for chunky soup. I use a stick blender which makes it super easy but you could transfer to a normal blender if that’s all you have. Season with pepper, you shouldn’t need salt, then crumble in about 75g of stilton and stir to melt. Taste just to make sure I’m right on the salt, I think you’ll find I am.
  5. Serve the soup in bowls with the rest of the stilton crumbled on top and a little retro swirl of cream if that’s a bit of you. Lovely for lunch with some crusty bread or as a relaxed starter.

I had a bit of a random thought today. I had Smooth FM on and they played Dolly Parton’s Jolene. I realise I am really late to the party here, like decades, but I don’t know why she was so obsessed with Jolene. I mean, yeah Jolene should know better but come on Dolly, its your waste of space man you should be singing about. Don’t be begging Jolene not to take your man, it sounds to me like he’s already gone and you’re better off without him girl.

On the point of randomness, Dominos now have a GPS tracker on their delivery service. As if the pizza tracker wasn’t already up there with the world’s best inventions, you can now literally track your pizza from store to door. Love it.

Have a wonderful week all!

Tania x

The Week My Sister Came For Lunch

Hello internet!

I am back in the blogiverse!

It’s been a long time since I last blogged, my last post was December 2016! In the 14 months since then I’ve just been working hard, had a couple of holidays, turned 30, got a new cat, had cancer, beat cancer, all the normal stuff one does. I’m sure you’ll hear more about cancer gate as we go on. It was a really fun time! Disclaimer: it wasn’t.

Anyway, I’ve decided to treat you all to a little glimpse inside my life for the past week. I re-discovered a love for Pink Lady apple wedges dipped in almond butter and learnt how to use Instagram stories. I also had an oncology check up which involved a gloved finger and a speculum. The cancer was in my vagina, just so we’re clear.

I made myself a very lovely, very healthy (yes, this does sometimes happen) dinner in the week. I peeled and chopped two sweet potatoes and zapped them in the microwave for a few minutes to soften before shoving them on a baking tray along with a chopped red onion, whole garlic cloves, olive oil and some Spanish seasoning for about 20 minutes. After 20 minutes I added some par-cooked broccoli and halved cherry tomatoes and cooked for 10 minutes more. I put some cooked cous cous in a bowl (I used the lazy packet type with Moroccan spices) topped it with the roasted veg and then drizzled over some natural yogurt that I had mixed with harissa, lemon juice and a bit of extra virgin olive oil. This made enough for dinner for me and lunch the next day.

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I really wanted to add some pine nuts for a bit of crunch but they were in the back of my cupboard and I had to move a jar of honey to get to them. The honey was literally stuck to the shelf by it’s own oozing stickiness and quite frankly, I couldn’t be arsed to get my hands dirty. That is a problem for another day.

The Spanish seasoning I used was this one from Schwartz. Always want to say Schwarzkopf then remember that’s hair stuff. Yes, I did just Google how to spell that. This has peppers, onion, garlic, paprika and all that jazz in. You might spot a little something in the background. That’s Bear. He’s my 10 week old kitten and is in the photo because he literally doesn’t leave my side. Ever. Cute thought isn’t he. (lots more kitty photos on my instagram @taniaadrianne if you happen to be that kind of person)

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On Saturday my sister came to visit and we made tapas. That’s a joke. She sat drinking tea whilst I made tapas. The Spanish seasoning came out to play again, this time to make patatas bravas, which I think is one of my most favourite things in the world. I peeled and cubed a few potatoes and par cooked them in the microwave. This was a revelation to dear sister who has vowed to never par-boil a spud again. You’re welcome. I then coated the potatoes in some olive oil and a little sprinkling of the Spanish seasoning before roasting them until crisp and golden on the outside and full of fluffy, starchy promise on the inside. Meanwhile, I cooked some chopped garlic, chilli and mixed herbs in a pan with some olive oil for a couple of minutes before adding in a carton of passata then seasoning with salt, pepper, sugar and, yep you guessed it, some more of the Spanish seasoning. I allowed that to cook down so it was rich, sweet and spicy then spooned it liberally on top of the cooked potatoes and dolloped on a bit of aoili. I bought that as I have more money than time. And voila, patatas bravas a la The Gammon Kitchen.

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We wolfed those down along with crispy prawns (quite simply king prawns coated in flour and fried in olive oil), garlic mushrooms (mini portabella mushrooms roasted in the oven with garlic, mixed herbs, salt and pepper and olive oil), potato croquettes (lovingly made by Sainsbury’s), chorizo slices pan fried with garlic and butter beans, garlic stuffed olives and tomatoes marinated in extra virgin olive oil and balsamic vinegar which we spooned on top of grilled ciabatta. La Tasca can do one mate.

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I saw in the supermarket last week that you can now buy bigger share size bags of Cadbury buttons. Proof, if I ever needed it, that the normal share size bags are, in fact, single servings. I’m going into the next week safe in the knowledge that I haven’t been overeating chocolate buttons at all.

Have a lovely week everyone!

Tania x

 

 

 

Recipe Review: Nigella Lawson’s Pigs in Blankets

 

Hot dog sausages wrapped in puff pastry. Literally the easiest recipe in the world, yet I still need to share it with you as they are so bloody good. I made these as part of a Bake Off themed charity event at work, thinking that something savoury would go down a treat amongst all the cakes and biscuits. I was right, my work buds loved them.

Nigella serves hers with a mustard dipping sauce, which I did too, but this had mixed reviews. It was very hot and sharp from the mustard, some people loved it, myself included, others hated it. You can make up your own minds.

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Grab yourself a packet of 8 hot dogs and a ready rolled sheet of puff pastry. Lay the pastry sheet out flat and cut it into quarters, then cut each quarter into half horizontally, to give you a total of 8 strips. See diagram below:

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Beat an egg in a small bowl, then using a pastry brush, brush the egg all over the pastry. Sit a hot dog on the long edge of each pastry strip, then roll up so that each sausage is encased in the pastry. Cut each pastry covered sausage into 4 bitesized pieces then lay them on a baking tray, the sealed edge at the bottom. Brush the tops of each one with the beaten egg then bake in a 220°c oven for 15-20 minutes until puffy and golden.

To make the mustard dipping sauce, mix together 50g of wholegrain mustard with 50g of Dijon mustard and 1 tablespoon of soured cream.

Dip, eat, enjoy.

Recipe: Chorizo and Roasted Vegetable Lasagne

How does one improve on a lovely vegetable lasagne? You add chorizo of course. There is nothing in life that isn’t improved by that spicy little sausage. I love it in all it’s paprika spiked glory. Of course you can just leave it out if you are a vegetarian, it’s still delicious. (you are missing out though)

Serves 4-6

What you need:

(for the roasted vegetables)

  • 1 aubergine
  • 2 courgettes
  • 1 red pepper
  • 1 tsp herbes de provence
  • 1 tbsp olive oil

(for the chorizo and tomato sauce)

  • 1 tbsp olive oil
  • 1 onion, finely chopped
  • 2 cloves garlic, minced
  • 100g soft cooking chorizo, finely chopped
  • A pinch of chilli flakes
  • ½ tsp herbes de provence
  • 700g tomato passata
  • A pinch of sugar

(for the white sauce)

  • 1 tbsp butter
  • 1 tbsp plain white flour
  • 200ml warm milk
  • Pinch of nutmeg
  • 100g cheddar cheese, grated

(for the lasagne)

  • One packet of fresh egg lasagne sheets
  • 1 ball of mozzarella
  • A few tablespoons of grated parmesan
  • Some extra grated cheddar cheese

What you do:

  1. Slice the aubergine, courgettes and pepper into rounds or strips and toss in a bowl with the oil, herbs and some salt and pepper. Roast in a moderate oven for about 30 minutes, turning halfway.
  2. Meanwhile, make the tomato sauce. Heat the oil in a pan and add in the onion, garlic and chopped chorizo, stirring regularly until the veg is soft and the chorizo is cooked. Next, add the chilli flakes, herbs and tomatoes then season well with salt and pepper and a pinch of sugar. Leave to simmer for about 20 minutes, stirring every now and then until it is thick and richly flavoured.
  3. To make the white sauce, melt the butter in a pan over a low heat then whisk in the flour to make a smooth paste. Gradually whisk in the milk until you have a thick, creamy, smooth sauce. Season well and add the nutmeg. Off the heat, add the grated cheddar cheese and stir well to melt.
  4. To assemble, put a tablespoon of the tomato sauce in the bottom of the lasagne dish then top with lasagne sheets. Next, add a layer of roasted vegetables and top with some nuggets of mozzarella and a grating of parmesan before adding a generous layer of the tomato and chorizo sauce. Continue with some more pasta sheets then repeat the vegetables, cheese and sauce layers. Once all is used up, add a final layer of pasta then top with the cheese sauce. Finish with some more grated parmesan, some torn up mozzarella and an extra grating of cheddar cheese.
  5. Cook at 180°c for around 35-40 minutes, until bubbling and golden.

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You only need a lightly dressed green salad alongside this rich, tasty lasagne dish. It’s also lovely cold for lunch the next day!

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