Wednesday, 31 October 2012

Gluten free brownies at Richmond Artisan Market


The trouble with many shop bought gluten free cakes is that they are tasteless and dry, almost like crumbled dry biscuits. Imagine my delight to discover wheat and gluten free brownies at Richmond Artisan Market(Duck Ponds Market) on Sunday which are moist, flavoursome and well, incredibly chocolaty! Jill Anderson, who makes them, is wheat and gluten free herself and so she adapted this special recipe. The brownies can be frozen, so I bought four for £5 – but I’m sure they will be eaten before they reach the freezer! Jill says you can also serve them warm – a few seconds in the microwave.
You can find Jill and her brownies at Richmond FarmersMarket every Saturday and at Duck Ponds Market (where I found her) every Sunday. She also supplies these delicious brownies to several local cafes in Richmond such as TideTables, Hollyhocks and The Tea Box.
I did suggest she should enter them for next year’s FreeFrom Awards.

At the Esher Odeon to see the new James Bond Skyfall movie, I fancied a tub of popcorn so I asked whether it contained gluten (I am gluten free) or dairy (my husband is dairy free) and they read out the ingredients – great news – no wheat gluten or dairy! So we indulged in popcorn, while enjoying the movie! Delicious! 

Friday, 13 April 2012

Free From Awards 2012

Free From Awards 2012It was an honour to be invited as one of the judges for this year's Free From Awards www.freefromawards.co.uk, organised by Michelle Berriedale-Johnson from Food Matters www.foodsmatter.com. Michelle is to be congratulated for putting 'free from' on the map. I am gluten free and wheat intolerant, while my husband Ray is dairy free so we are eternally grateful to Michelle and Food Matters for all the work they do in raising awareness for the 'free from' sector. On Tuesday 17 April all will be revealed and we'll find out the winners of the Free From Awards.As a journalist who writes about foodservice and catering, it was enlightening to see how free from foods have evolved in this sector. In the judging, we sampled a wide range of foods and it was rewarding to see that several manufacturers had introduced children's products - Red House Foods - Gluten Free Chicken Bites and Sauces of Choice - Sauces for Kids Tikka Sauce. These would work well in school catering where children may find it challenging to find free from alternatives. My husband can't eat mozzarella, even if it's made from buffalo's milk, so wonderful to taste Tofutti Grated Mozzarella Soya Cheese Alternative. He will be pleased.The highlight for me was tasting 20 or so different gluten and dairy free cakes. This is because normally I have to watch non gluten free people eat cakes in a tea or coffee shop because there are no gluten free varieties available. Imagine my joy at seeing an entire table of cakes, most of which I could eat (there were only a couple that were dairy free only). This category has developed beyond all recognition. Usually either a cake is gluten free or dairy free. To find both is very difficult that's why I end up making cakes. One of my favourite (gluten and dairy free) at the judging session was The Cake Crusader's Gluten, Wheat and Dairy Free Carrot Cake. If you're not careful, gluten free cakes can end up tasting like sawdust, usually sickly sweet and quite frankly inedible. Not so this one - it was moist, chewy and delicious and even had icing I could eat. The Cake Crusader's Rich Fruit Cake was also unbelievably moist and flavoursome. I'd also like to mention the superb vegan cupcakes from Ms Cupcake and Maple and Pecan Cupcakes from Sweetcheeks - I came across them at last year's Allergy and Free From Show and ended up buying a box of cupcakes for tea!Michelle and Cressida from Food Matters make the judging process effortless and fun and I do enjoy the debates that ensue among the judges about various products.I'm so used to attending functions where I can't eat anything (as canap├ęs etc are not gluten free) it is a real treat to be among the judges of foods I can actually eat!Over 300 products were entered in the 17 categories of the Awards. When you look back 10 years or so, you'd be hard pressed to find that many - so it is good news indeed that manufacturers are embracing the free from market.I'm looking forward to Tuesday 17 April when we'll find out the winners of this year's Awards.www.freefromawards.co.uk

Friday, 27 January 2012

Eating out with an allergy at The Ship Hotel Weybridge


I attended a friend’s special birthday party last Saturday at The Ship Hotel http://www/shiphotel.co.uk Usually these affairs can be hit and miss; we always have to doublecheck that the food is gluten free for me and dairy free for Ray (plus ensuring it doesn’t contain the other foods Ray can’t eat such as tomatoes).I have to thank my friend for her part in briefing the staff so fully, but I have to say the staff excelled themselves in ensuring that we were able to eat everything.And what a sumptuous menu it was – caviar to start with (yummy) followed by pea soup with smoked salmon, which they had specially prepared for us. Soup is normally off the menu for Ray and I as there is usually wheat flour in it, milk or cream, but not on this occasion. It was delicious.The next course was Citrus and Chilli Marinated Red Mullet and spiced squash puree off the official menu. The meat dish was Roast Rib of Beef with potatoes and vegetables. Normally I don’t have any gravy as there’s wheat flour, but on this occasion we were served gluten free and dairy free gravy – marvellous.When we attend social functions we never expect dessert because invariably it has wheat or dairy in it. But imagine our delight when one of the staff discussed the options with us and served us slices of pineapple with a lemon sorbet (pictured). What a treat that was! The evening was memorable not only for the superb meal, but the sparkling conversation, dancing and entertainment from the band Barbara Snow and Richard Sutton.