About me

After being diagnosed with a long list of food intolerances seven years ago, I was forced into getting more creative in the kitchen.

For me, the best recipes are those which are easy to prepare and deliver heaps of flavour, perfect for sharing with friends and family without having to single anyone out because of a specialised diet.

My love for cooking and adapting recipes for my own dietary requirements has given me the incentive to share tips with others who also live with restricted diets.

I hope you find a bit of cooking inspiration from my blog. Please feel free to comment and post any questions...

Thursday, 27 September 2012

The Great British Birthday Cake Bake Off!

Like most of the country, Tuesday nights in our house means an hour of oo-ing, aah-ing and sometimes a little drooling in front of the TV.

The Great British Bake Off is well under way, filled with innuendo and euphemisms over sticky fingers and plump buns, it's both educational and a good giggle.

After the landlord recently splashed out on a new all singing, all dancing television, bells and whistles inc. We were able to witness Chelsea buns and walnut whips in 3D!!

The immediate post gbbo temptation to bake has resulted in numerous loaves of bread and scones, but today, my mission was to bake a Nigella Lawson inspired Venetian carrot cake.

Despite a passion for cooking, I am somewhat of a nervous baker. Perhaps it's the fact that once you have mixed all your ingredients together, it's a case of saying a little prayer and hoping that the oven will take care of your dish and make the magic happen. Throughout my baking past, the magic has occasionally been lacking.

Mary Berry would have been mortified by my treacle tarts.

But after reading Nigella's "How to be a domestic Goddess", my faith was restored and a friend's birthday created the opportunity to fish out the scales and have a go at a wheat and dairy free carrot cake that my sister bakes for me every time I visit.

For my big sister's version of the Venetian carrot cake:

  •  Grate 3 large carrots and soak up the excess water by pressing down on the carrots with kitchen towel. 
  • In a pan, mix 2 large handfuls of sultanas with a glug of dark rum and a good splash of fresh orange juice, then set aside.
  • Whisk 120ml olive oil with 150g caster sugar. Once light and fluffy, whisk in 250g ground almonds, the zest of a lemon, the sultanas, grated  carrot, 1 tsp cinnamon and 1/2 tsp nutmeg.
  • A mixture of sunflower and pumpkin seeds are an optional addition to the mix, they add another texture and provide a good source of nutrients to the cake.
  • Pour the mixture in to a pre-prepared cake tin and place in a pre-heated oven at 180 degrees Celsius for 30-40 mins. Once the top has browned slightly,you can turn off the oven and allow the cake to rest until cool. 
The cake will not rise by much, so don't worry if it still looks a little short, you can always whisk together a dairy free butter cream topping with a dash of rum and lather this on top with a spatchelor to add height.

My cake is currently resting, preparing to be doused in icing and sprinkled with citrus strands and glitter. Fingers crossed for rave reviews, I think the silver fox Mr. Paul Hollywood would be tempted to take a bite!

Tuesday, 25 September 2012

Nigella's back!

Luscious, velvety, rich, luxurious, decadent and over exuberant television cookery has returned!!
Rife with adjectives, but with a much slimmer waistline, Nigella is back with her latest collection of Italian recipes, entitled "Nigelissima".

Not her smoothest book and television show title, but nevertheless I can forgive as I secretly wish I was related to this woman! For now though,  I shall settle for looking towards her for cooking inspiration as I wouldn't mind being the next, more dietary challenged version.

During the rush to get ready for uni, I caught up with the first episode and could quite happily have dived into the chocolate and hazelnut cheesecake, were it not for the wheat and dairy laden ingredients. Oh yes and the hazelnuts!! Like many people I seem to go through the occasional period of nut sensitivity. Quite possibly due to a recent obsession with crunchy nut cornflakes, but I shall not be deterred!

I was pleased to find a jar of dairy free chocolate spread in a health and nutrition store recently, the holy grail for any chocoholic, especially those tired of the oily carob and dairy free chocolate bars more commonly found in supermarkets.

This would be a perfect substitute for the nutella used in Nigella's recipe. Dairy free soft cheese is also now widely available and along with icing sugar you have the ingredients for your cheesecake topping! The typical cheesecake base is made from crushed digestive biscuits, mixed with melted butter and pressed into a cake tin before chilling in the fridge.

Once again health food stores and supermarket free from sections can provide substitutes to help you achieve your nigella-esque cheese-less cake.

The woman has always been somewhat of a fairy cooking godmother for me. Her preference for researching other cook's recipes and adapting them for her own tastes is something which I am more than familiar with. She has a tendency to lean towards the low effort, but big results style of cooking, which regularly guesstimates on quantities and which again highly reflects my own behaviour in the kitchen.

Tonight for instance, I took a Nigella recipe for 'Norwegian mountain bread' and tweaked a few of the ingredients. My basic dough mixture was a blend of wheat free flour,porridge oats, mixed toasted seeds, yeast, soya milk and water.

After combining the wet and dry ingredients separately, the two are then brought together and mixed vigorously to a porridge like texture. I decided to stick to the cooking temperatures and times as baking is definitely more of a science than cooking. It is also then easier to blame the recipe if things don't work out...sorry Nigella.

Whether the majority of recipes will be to my taste or not "Nigelissima" is already on my Christmas list and will feel right at home in amongst my collection of Nigella cookbooks.

The next topic of trial and discussion...Great British Bake Off and Masterchef! A dreary start to Autumn has been improved by the comeback of cookery shows!