Easy Lemon and Elderflower Curd. 

It’s that time of the year, the weather is supposedly getting better, and every thing is starting to burst into life.  This means elderflowers are everywhere in the countryside and gardens alike.  Now I’m all for foraging and free food so what better than gather some of these highly scented little flowers and incorporate them into a recipe. 
Elderflower works well with lemon as a flavour combination, think national trust tea rooms, there’s always a lemon and elderflower sponge (  or there was 17 yrs ago when I worked in one). So this got me thinking why not put them together in a curd. 

  
I love lemon curd, the tartness and zing being my favourite, and my broody bum chickens have now snapped out of their recent nest box hogging so we are back up to full egg supplies – boom, curd here we come. ( it’s very easy to make as well). 

Ingredients 

  • 200g caster sugar
  • Juice and zest of 2 unwaxed lemons
  • 55g butter
  • 2 elderflower heads 
  • 2 eggs beaten ( free range are best due to better coloured yolks). 

Method 

  • In a pan over a gentle heat put the butter, sugar, lemon juice, zest and snip off the elderflowers into the pan as well. Try not to use the stalks as they can be bitter. 
  • Melt the butter and let the sugar dissolve
  • Remove from the heat and let seep for about 5 minutes
  • Strain the mixture into a bowl and discard the flowers
  • Have a pan of simmering water and place your bowl on top
  • Stir in the eggs, then keep gently stirring until the mixture thickens ( it should coat the back of a spoon) 
  • Take off the heat and pour into sterilised jars

  
So there you have it, super easy and delicious, all I can add is that the delicate flavour of the elderflowers adds a summery twist to an old classic,  so relax and enjoy some on some toast or crumpets ( or anything else that takes your fancy). 

Barley Cup Review and Recipe Ideas

What is this I hear you ask?  Well I was intrigued to, and therefore very excited when the lovelies at  Barleycup offered me some to try out. With Barley in the name I was a little skeptical to whether it was gluten free, but guess what ( and rejoice ) it is.     

  
In fact this is what Barley Cup say on their website about the products. 

Barleycup is a delicious range of instant gluten-free drinks made from roasted cereals and chicory root. All Barleycup beverages are gluten-free and have been certified by Coeliac UK. A special process is used to separate the gluten and the products are regularly tested by an accredited laboratory to ensure that the gluten levels do not exceed 10mg/kg**.

 To start off I thought I’d try It as a drink, 2 teaspoons of Barleycup mixed with just off boiling water, and I added a splash of milk. The verdict is I liked it, the organic and original both taste like a very mild coffee, but without the caffeine. Probably my favourite was the barley cup with dandelion. There is the extra, slightly sweeter flavour that adds to the drink as a whole. Incidently all versions work wonderfully as a latte, and the even bigger news was that the product has not aggravated my coeliac disease what do ever. 

I’ve also been experimenting with recipes using Barleycup. Below is my first attempt at a ( sort of) gluten free, nut free and dairy free malt loaf. Now it’s been years since I’ve had soreen, I can’t really remember the taste but I do remember the ‘squidge’. I’ve got to play one more time to go for the squidge factor but the taste is amazing ( sorry slight blow of own trumpet ). I promise as soon as its perfected the recipe will be up on this post. 

  

Other ideas I’ve had are mocha type smoothie and chia seed pudding. I’ll keep you posted on how they go. 

So would I recommend Barleycup? You bet I would, it’s a gluten free, caffeine free drink that tastes delicious and is proving to be versatile in its uses as well. Thumbs up all round. 

  
Disclaimer: Barleycup sent me these products to try, all thoughts and ideas are entirely my own. 

Coeliac Awareness Week 2017

Well here we are again 8th-14th May is #CoeliacAwarenessWeek and this year Coeliac UK are asking you to join the Gluten Freevolution. But what does that mean??  

 
Well aside from the usual scramble of companies launching new products and special offers in the free from field, the message is to help improve gluten free choices where ever you are.  According to Coeliac UK 1 in every 100 people could have coeliac disease ( I’m one of them), and many more are choosing to incorporate gluten free into their diets and lifestyle. Which ever way you look at it, free from is a growing market. 

As a coeliac, higher demand means more products on shelves, which is great.  I support this campaign, I personally feel eating out is still my problem area, staff in restaurants don’t fully understand allergies and if I’m to be glutened this is the week spot. Don’t get me wrong some places are great ( Pizza Hut springs to mind) but the issues of cross contamination and lack of staff training and understanding are usually the issues.

As with the growing free from market, there too is a huge opening in the hospitality sector, they could attract ( and keep) new customers if a little more understanding and options were given to those with coeliac disease, and other food allergies for that matter. 

So let’s all get behind the campaign, no more are you to feel like you are being fussy. Let’s shout it from the roof tops – more allergy friendly establishments= happy customers all round. 

Allergy Awareness Week 

This week is Allergy Awareness week, which focuses on eczema. Munchkin does have eczema but thankfully fairly mildly. Her triggers are her allergens ( so contact or consuming nut products) and certain cosmetics and washing powders can make her symptoms worse. 

Whilst I’m not going to focus too much on eczema in this post, I thought it would be a benefit to offer my top tips and advice in regards to allergies. 

Eating Out/ Days out

  • Be prepared, I always call a restaurant ahead and ask / inform the establishment about our coeliac and nut allergy requirements. 
  • Ask to see the allergy information and policies
  • Don’t assume that because you’ve eaten the same meal more than once it’s still ok, restaurants change ingredients and suppliers all the time. 
  • You are not being fussy and do not let that thought stop you from asking the relavent questions. 
  • I always have safe back ups for days out etc so no one goes without.
  • Safe swaps in your bag work well for party bags etc as well. 
  • Carry all relevant medication with you. If you have epi pens carry 2 the first one doesn’t always work. 
  • Arm yourself with wipes to clean table surfaces before sitting down, also I find kids just attract dirt so baby wipes are a must anyway. 

General Advice

  • If you are struggling with anything talk to someone, you are not alone ( Twitter allergy community is great) there is always someone who can help. 
  • Your allergies are part of you- but don’t let them define you. 
  • Kick the crappy guilt fairy out of your head- she will consume you if you let her. My advice is swat her away hard, cuddle your child/ partner/ pet and tell yourself you are doing a great job, because you know what? You really are. 
  • Allergy UK is a very useful site 
  • Always #carryyourkit be it medicines, medical cards, epi pens etc. 

So some of my top tips for you. Do keep looking back, as I will be adding more as I remember them. 

Do you have any top tips? Let me know in the comments below. 

Review – Nush Dairy Free Yogurt 

You may, or may not have noticed a new brand of the free from market? Nush Foods are the company behind dairy free, gluten free and vegan yogurts that are made from either almond or cashew milks. I believe they are the first in the UK to offer such a product. 

Anyway I’m rambling, I saw these in Tesco (£2) and thought I’d try one. I should add that they are nut based so all testing was done well out the way of mini me.

 

  I was really impressed, I’m not sure what I was expecting really- possibly a more gloopy texture that you can get with other plant based yogurts, but this has a consistency of, well yoghurt.  Considering this was almond based, you are not over powered with the taste, there was a subtle, but pleasing blueberry flavour, not overladen with sugar or sweetness- all positives for me. I should also add that this is suitable for both vegetarians and vegans. 

  
So will I buy it again? Well yes, although not every day as it is a bit pricey.  That said I’m also interested in trying the cashew milk yoghurt when I track it down. Well done Nush keep up the good work. 
Disclaimer: This is not a sponsored post. All views are my own, and honest. 

Easter Brownie Cheesecake- Guest Post

With Easter fast approaching what better excuse for chocolate? I hasten to add that is my excuse, and I’m sticking to it. I admit before children Easter wasn’t a grand affair in our household, we rejoiced about a 4 day weekend, had a family roast and chocolate eggs ( obviously). However now mini me is a bit older we tend to make a bit more of a day of it ( wish me luck this year is our first Easter bonnet parade). 

So I’ve digressed but my point is that Easter Sunday will come, I’ve got a houseful and for those that has given up their favourites for lent, then a special dessert is in order, and a make ahead, easy chocolate cheesecake is one of my favourite. 

The base is a rich, gooey brownie, the top a baked cheesecake. The result is amazing- the best of both worlds in one satisfying dessert.  The added bonus is you can adapt this to suit your requirements. Mine is nut and gluten free, but you can make it cleaner and vegan ( use sweet potato brownie and raw cheesecake topping)  or easier ( use packet mix brownie) it is up to you, there really is no right or wrong. 

 

Gluten Free Brownie Cheesecake

  • Servings: 8-10
  • Time: 6hours
  • Difficulty: moderate
  • Print

A perfect dessert for an Easter gathering.

 

Ingredients

-packet of brownie mix or
-110g unsalted butter
-110g chocolate
-1/2 tsp salt
-180g caster sugar
-60g  gluten free plain flour
-40 g teff flour
-2 eggs 
-50 ml milk

For the cheesecake 

-700g  full fat cream cheese

-3 eggs

-250g caster sugar

-1tsp vanilla extract 

-120ml  Greek yoghurt or creme fraiche 

Directions 

  1. Preheat the oven to 180 and line a 9 inch spring form case. 
  2. Melt the butter and chocolate in a bowl over a pan of simmering water, when almost melted give a good stir and set aside for about 5 minutes
  3. With an electric whisk beat the eggs, sugar and milk into the chocolate.
  4. Stir in the flour until just combined
  5. Pour into your tin and cook for 20-25 minutes. Don’t worry if it’s not completely cooked as your cake will have phase to in the oven
  6. Turn the oven down to 160 and mix together all the cheesecake ingredients. 
  7. Pour the cheesecake mixture on top of the brownie and return to the oven. 
  8. Cook for a further 35-40 minutes. The top will give a firm wobble 
  9. Leave to cool for 2 hours in the oven
  10. Leave in the tin and then cool put in the fridge for 4 hrs or over night before you decorate. 

 

    Et voila there you have it. Thank you for reading my post, and have an egg-cellent ( sorry) Easter. 

    This is my guest post for Natreco a really great site that sells a host of free from, vegan and natural products. Pop over and have a look if you have time. 

    Strawberry and Vanilla Cheesecake Gluten Free

    I admit I’ve had strawberries on the brain this last week.  In my efforts on embracing the good life the vegetable plot is growing, and strawberries are one of this years projects.  My new plants are in, and we are waiting for them to grow.  However in the mean time, what better excuse for a free from cheesecake? Oh and we had a houseful for Mother’s Day and cheesecake is always a winner. Plus this is a no bake cheesecake so it’s easy to make as well. 

    My error with this was that I personally think it would be better in an 8 inch tin, but I misplaced mine so the 9 inch had to be the tin of choice ( I don’t  think my guests noticed anyway). 

      

    Ingredients 

    Base

    • 250g biscuit I used gullon as they are nut free. You can click Here to buy them. 
    • 80g melted butter

    Filling

    • 600g  full fat cream cheese
    • Juice of 1/2 lemon
    • 100 g icing sugar
    • 200ml double cream 
    • 1/2 tsp vanilla essence. 

    Method

    • Crush the biscuits either in a bag with a rolling pin, or in a food processor
    • Add the melted butter and pulse until you have a damp rubble.
    • Press into the base of a spring closing cake tin and leave to set in the fridge for 30 minutes. 

      

    • For the filling whisk the cream cheese, sugar, lemon juice and vanilla together. 
    • I whisk the double cream separately until it forms stiff peaks. Then gently combine this with the cream cheese mixture. 
    • Put this on top of your biscuit base and leave to set in the fridge ideally overnight. 
    • I decorated with fresh strawberries and mini meringue kisses. 

      

      

    Review Schar Viennese Biscuits ( Gluten Free) 

      
      

      I was walking through Morrisons the other day. They have had a rebrand of their free from range, and increased the number of lines in the ranges as well. Hooray I hear you all cry. Fro the record I’m really impressed with the gluten free curly fries at £1 but anyway I’ve digressed somehow. 

    Whilst perusing the shelves I noticed these Viennese biscuits from Schar. I can vaguely remember in my BCD ( Before Coeliac Disease ) days that M&S did a Viennese Whirl that was amazing, so I was keen to try these to see if they sparked any memories. 

      
    So the packet states a melt in the mouth biscuit- these don’t disappoint. They have a lovely vanilla taste, that does ( without sounding corny) melt in the mouth, tasting rather like a buttery shortbread  Incidently they fair ok in a dunk test as well.  That little gem of info is gorgeous those of you, who like me, are partial to the odd dunk in your brew. 

    I did pimp them a little and created a proper Viennese sandwhich with strawberry jam and buttercream,  this really did the justice. My confession is that they were maybe eaten before any photos were taken- oops. I promise I’ll update the post later. 

    My only down side is the May contain Lupin warning as little one, or indeed a few of those with peanut allergies,  can’t have them. In all other ways they are a lovely, tasty biscuit with a good crunch. Perfect for  those days when rice cakes just won’t cut the mustard. 

    Have you tried these? Or any of the other new ranges from Schar? Let me know your thoughts in the comments below. 

      

    Gluten Free Tiger Cake. 

    As you may, or may not know, I have a three year old.  Those of you with kids will ( probably) tell you how, at times, the toddler years can be challenging, and I’m not just talking about allergies. 

    I’ll paint you a picture, currently the obsession of LR is Thomas The Tank, Dinosaurs, Paw Patrol ( the theme tune makes my ears bleed) and animals. Which leads us on to the fact my birthday is this week and she thought it would be great if I have a birthday cake. Only Thing was madam thought a tiger cake would be great. Now if it’s anything like the dinosaur I attempted the other week, the cake was going to be a car crash- trying to explain that to a head strong tot was even worse.   The stropometer reached a level I think we have never seen before, and quite frankly I’ve no desire to see again.

    So why am I babbling about my cake decorating disasters? Well the compromise was a tiger cake in the form of stripes ( sort of ) with chocolate and vanilla layers to look ( sort of) like a tiger,  and LO was promised to be able to like the bowl so the actual cooking could commence. 

      
     Don’t worry about the vanilla sponge looking a rather odd colour, yours will look great, ours had the addition of orange food colouring to add to the tiger theme. 

    Ingredients 

    • 4 eggs
    •  100ml milk ( of choice) 
    • 250 ml oil I have used either coconut or sunflower
    • 250g caster sugar 
    • 1tsp vanilla extract 
    • 475g self raising flour ( I use Doves farm Gluten free) as a side note you can sub 75g of flour for ground almond which helps make the cake moist we don’t due to nut allergies. 
    • 25g Cocoa or raw cacao powder. 
    • 1tsp baking powder

    Method 

    • Preheat oven to 180C /Gas Mark 4 
    • Line a 23cm cake tin 
    • Lightly beat the eggs then mix with the milk, oil and vanilla extract. Add 175 g of flour and whisk until smooth
    • Get 2 bowls pour half this mixture in 1 along with 1/2 tsp baking powder and another 175g of flour
    • In the other pour the rest, add the cocoa powder, 1/2 tsp baking powder and the remaining flower. 
    • In the centre of your tin put 2 large spoonfuls of white mixture, then the same of chocolate directly on top. Keep doing this until the tin is full

      

    • Don’t worry if it’s not perfect circles I had to improvise a bit at the side but it adds to the effect of the cake. 
    • Put in the oven and cook for 40-50 minutes or until an inserted skewer comes out clean. 
    • I let it cool for 10 mins in the tin before transferring to a wire rack to cool completely. 

      

    Et voila there you have your marble ( I mean tiger) cake. My only notes to add would be that I think it would look great decorated as a chocolate drippy edge cake with the full works in terms of a mountain of chocolates on top.  

    It’s better eaten fairly quickly as well, I find the gluten free version has a tendency to go dry quite quickly, but it goes wonderfully with a cup of tea, and I fact the dry sponge I made into a chocolate and orange trifle….. Buts that’s another post. 

    Chocolate (Green) Smoothie

    Hello, hello, hello I’m back ( or BT has finally fixed our phone line). anyway now normal service can be resumed and I’ve got loads of posts to share with you all, so I best get started. 

      
    This here Is a green smoothie in disguise. It’s perfect for a chocolate fix but has less sugar than some of the other smoothie combinations out there. I’m not going to say  it’s clean, or sugar free etc, sugar is sugar whichever way you look at it, and this has some fruit in. 

    Ingredients 

    • Handful of spinach 
    • Small piece of cucumber
    • 1/2 frozen banana 
    • A few chunks of mango
    • 1tsp of cacao powder 
    • 1/2 tsp maca powder
    • Milk of choice 

    Place all ingredients into your blender/ nutribullet etc and voila there you have your smoothie

      
    Right back to it I’m experimenting with photo backdrops and have some pictures to take. ( it’s one of my aims this year to improve my photography skills).