Wednesday, 26 January 2011

Full Irish - Zero Gluten

I enjoy a good fry-up every now and then and with needing gluten free food comes the usual ingredients difficulty. So I thought I'd share my favourite brands I use for a decent full Irish breakfast. When I plate-up I like to see beans, sausages, bacon, egg, toast, white pudding and hash browns. Of course no fry is complete without tea and I like to have a mug of Barry's with mine.

For the sausages, I used Jane Russell's Bratwurst, just for a change. Really nomsome. There are quite a few gluten free sausages on the market at the moment. My favourites being the Clonakilty gluten free sausages and Marks & Spencer's sausages (the majority of the M&S range of sausages are already gluten free). You can also get Hodgins brand and Superquinn brand gluten free sausages too, if you're interested.

The beans are Heinz and my secret to make them particularly delicious is a half a teaspoon of Molasses. I use the Kelkin brand. It gives the beans an extra depth of flavour. Not only that, but it adds that extra crucial iron I particularly need in my diet.

Head to Marks & Spencer for the hash browns. I use their maris piper potato rostis that are utterly delicious and gluten free to boot.

For the white pudding I use the Hodgins brand. I think it tastes perfect. They have a black pudding too, but I've never really been a fan of black pud, so I don't bother with it. Super Valu are the main distributor for this Cork-based brand. I'm sure some of the larger supermarkets also supply them.

In my most recent breakfast feast, I used the Juvela white rolls for toast, which I think are pretty decent gluten free bread fare.

The majority of the ingredients you can keep handy in your freezer, for those all-important emergency rations. Nice.

Gluten free food has never tasted so good - even my non-coeliac husband enjoys the gluten free fry up!

Of course, this isn't something you'd treat yourself to too often, but it is nice to have the luxury of a decent full Irish every now and then, without the glutened hassle.

Sunday, 23 January 2011

Time Out

Okay, I admit this particular blog entry is an entirely indulgent exercise for me, it's mostly pictures and not so much about gluten free food... you have been warned!

I was at The Canal Café at The Village At Lyons, located between Newcastle and Celbridge, this weekend. The café itself does not really cater for coeliacs, but that shouldn't stop you from dropping by for a cup of tea or coffee, or some of their amazing lemonade. There is one thing on the menu they do have that is genuinely gluten free and that is a chocolate cake, which is rather lovely and whose recipe belongs to Clodagh McKenna. It is her name on all the food served there and I'm reliably told that the food is superb. She also runs cookery classes just across from the café, though again, these classes do not cater for the gluten free diet. My daughter was kindly given a piece of home-made brownie that was freshly baked by the children's cookery class that had finished that afternoon, just as we were about to leave. Lucky girl. 

We dropped by to have a snoop around the Village to enjoy the surroundings and a cup of tea, which for me was of course accompanied by a slice of the gluten free chocolate cake. Nice. My husband had a scone which looked utterly yummy. Jealous.

I wandered around the grounds afterwards. The place lends itself to being photographed. A really pleasant, beautiful area. Quite peaceful.

So if you're looking for a cup of tea and a quiet corner to think, or be with friends, this is the place to come. It made me think twice about writing off a venue just because the menu isn't for you. Sometimes, it's not just about the food, but also about the atmosphere and company you're with that can make a place great.

Friday, 14 January 2011

Special Diet Required

I don't know about you, but I definitely can get stuck in a rut when it comes to shopping for gluten free food. I tend to only pick up the brands I'm familiar with and become reluctant to experiment with new ones that come on the market. A representative from Dietary Specials got in contact with me and asked if I would like to sample some of their range. Seeing as I've always been wary of cereal and bread products that claim to be delicious and gluten free, I figured it would be a good opportunity for me to try something new. Upon tasting I have to say that their cornflakes actually taste like corn flakes  - crunchy and full of flavour and their brown ciabatta rolls are soft, fresh and not at all gritty or stale in taste! What a discovery!

I hit the internet to gain more information about Dietary Specials. My initial search took me to their UK site, but they do have an Irish website at The site is pretty easy to navigate. There is an absolutely great section on coeliac disease with advice and help. Really, really informative. There's a blog and forum on there too. They also provide a list of products that they have available here in Ireland and each is listed with a convenient ingredients guide, so you know what you're eating. They have a pretty exceptional range of breads, pastas, cereal and a frozen gluten free range too. I am looking forward to picking up more of their products in my next shop.


I think my favourite thing is that you can get a free goody box with some of their samples posted to you if you register with them online here

I recommend giving the Dietary Specials products a try.  Their website lists Dunnes, SuperValu, Superquinn  and Tesco as stockists. I have to say I am happy to enjoy a decent bowl of cornflakes in the morning again.

Wednesday, 12 January 2011

Dark Days, Dark Chocolate

I was never one for new year resolutions. Most people are trying to get over the excess of Christmas and new year celebrations by going on a detox of some sort. Personally, I'm all about looking after myself and there is no better way to do so than to eat chocolate! It cheers me up and there's nothing like a nice chocolatey-type dessert and a cup of tea to make the day all the brighter, especially during these dark days of winter. Some will say that chocolate is unhealthy, but I consider it part of a balanced diet. The darker the chocolate the better and definitely gluten free. Be diligent when you buy your chocolate as you'd be surprised at how much gluten can be found in chocolate products out there.

What better way to eat chocolate than in a cake! I'd love to take credit for this recipe, it's so good, but this was given to me by my Aunt. It is the best flourless chocolate cake recipe I've ever had the pleasure to come across to date and there isn't a rival to it. It looks like a heavy dessert, but its texture is almost like a mousse and it is beyond delicious. So I call this recipe Susan's Flourless Chocolate Cake. I have not had to tweak or change any of this recipe, it's that good. Easy to make and so tasty. Make sure to use a good chocolate when making this. Something more indulgent. If you like things a little sweeter, use half semi and half milk chocolate, or whatever suits your palate.

1 lb semisweet or bittersweet chocolate
10 tablespoons butter
5 eggs
1/4 tsp cream of tartar
1 tablespoon sugar
Icing sugar (optional)

- Preheat the oven to 160 degrees C.

- Butter and flour an 8 inch cake pan and also line the bottom of the pan with parchment paper. Use cocoa powder rather than flour to make sure it is completely gluten-free.

- In the top of a double boiler, (a bowl over simmering water will work fine just make sure the water doesn’t touch the bottom of the bowl) melt the butter and chocolate together, mixing until smooth.  Remove from heat. 

- Separate 5 eggs and add the 5 egg yolks to the chocolate mixture and whisk until smooth.

- In a separate bowl, beat the 5 egg whites until soft peaks form.  Add the cream of tartar, 1 tablespoon of sugar and beat until stiff, but not dry, peaks form.

- Fold about 1/4 of the egg whites into the chocolate mixture.  Then fold in the rest.

- Pour batter into prepared pan and set the pan into a larger baking dish. 

- Pour hot water into the larger pan to about half way up the side of the cake pan (a Bain-Marie).

- Bake for 30 to 40 minutes.

- Don't worry if it doesn't seem fully cooked. Just make sure you don't overcook or burn the top of the cake. 

- Refrigerate until cold then slide a knife around the edge of the pan to loosen the cake and invert it onto a plate. 

- Dust with icing sugar (I take liberties here and put a lot of icing sugar on top of the cake, but feel free to use less or not bother at all!), and serve with sweetened whipped cream and a raspberry coulis. This cake needs to be kept refridgerated.

- To make the raspberry coulis - I blend a packet of thawed, frozen raspberries and then pass the mix through a sieve into a bowl. I then sieve icing sugar (to taste), into the coulis and whisk until dissolved.

- To make the sweetened cream - I beat (use a mixer or a kitchenaid - if you have one), some fresh cream in a bowl till it starts to thicken. I  then add pre-sieved icing sugar to the cream and continue to beat until it starts forming soft, but not firm peaks in the cream. Try to avoid over-beating the cream, as you'll end up with a buttery mix.