Gluten-Free Soda Bread

Gluten-Free Soda Bread by The Fat Foodie

Gluten-free bread doesn’t rock my world in the slightest. It’s gritty, grainy and dry. It’s everything a loaf shouldn’t be and that makes me sad. However, I recently visited family in Ireland (stopping off to see Phil Collins in concert along the way too, which was freakin’ awesome!!!) and after a delicious breakfast of traditional Irish toasted soda bread with butter and jam I realised that I could abandon my yeast-based attempts at making a gluten-free loaf and focus instead on making a bicarbonate of soda based oat bread.

My previous attempts at making gluten-free bread have produced somewhat mixed results. I think this is because gluten-free flour tends to be very dry and produces a really dense crumb when baked into a loaf. However, this gluten-free soda bread incorporates oat flour, which I simply made by blitzing some oats in my food processor, which helps to add a lightness to the loaf and enhances the texture of the bread.

Although soda-based loaves are found in the history of many countries, in times gone by, a soda bread loaf was traditionally freshly made every morning by Scottish and Irish women because it’s really quick to produce. Instead of using yeast which takes a long time to prove, soda bread uses alkaline sodium bicarbonate as its raising agent which is activated by acidic buttermilk (or in this case lemon juice) to produce carbon dioxide bubbles which make the bread rise. This results in a robust, but flavoursome loaf which is gorgeous when spread with fresh butter.

This recipe is just for making a standard plain gluten-free soda bread, but you could easily incorporate raisins, dried cranberries or different types of nut into the base bread mix to produce a variety of loaves. I’ll bet a soda bread made with plump little raisins and crunchy walnuts would be outstanding!

The gluten-free soda bread produced by this recipe is soft, but substantial and is surrounded by a lovely golden crunchy crust, while its interior crumb is moist and has a faintly nutty flavour from the oat flour. It’s practically begging to be sliced while still warm and coated in butter and generously topped with good quality jam.

Ingredients:

200g oat flour (or 200g of oats pulsed into a rough flour using a food processor or Nutribullet)

100g gluten-free flour (I use Dove’s Farm G/F Plain Flour)

1 tsp xanthan gum

1 tsp salt

1 tsp of bicarbonate of soda

1 tsp baking powder

200ml milk (or rice milk)

2 tbsps lemon juice

Method:

Preheat the oven to 220°C/200°C Fan/425F/gas mark 7 and line a baking tray with greaseproof paper.

Pour the milk into a jug and add the lemon juice.

Place all of your dry ingredients into a large mixing bowl and stir well.

Once the milk has curdled and become thick add it to the dry ingredients and stir until it starts to come together.

Get your hands into the bowl and continue mixing it until it forms a ball.

Place it on the baking tray and flatten slightly before scoring it with a cross and baking for 35 mins.

Gluten-Free Soda Bread by The Fat Foodie

Turn it over and bake for about another 10 mins. You’ll know it’s cooked when the base sounds hollow when tapped.

Leave to cool slightly before serving.

Gluten-Free Soda Bread by The Fat Foodie

Gluten-Free Soda Bread by The Fat Foodie

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Chocolate Orange Carrot Muffins (makes 12)

Chocolate Orange Carrot Muffins by The Fat Foodie

I like taking cakes into work. I think it’s nice to bring something tasty into the staff room for everyone to be able to enjoy when they’re on their tea breaks and lunch. I always think that there’s something warming and cosy about having some cake available for everyone to partake in, should they choose. Let’s be honest, very few people turn their nose up at a nice bit of cake.

I bought some pretty muffin cases the other day that I wanted to test and after some consideration I settled upon the idea of making carrot cake muffins, but it didn’t sound very exciting to me so I went back to the drawing board and decided to add more flavours to the cakes and so I made chocolate orange carrot muffins instead. I’m so glad I did because they are divine!

If you want a moist cake that’s not going to dry out in a hot environment, such as a very warm staff room, then I’d heartily recommend incorporating two components: a good oil and some sort of fruit or vegetable. You can never go wrong with basing a cake around carrots or courgette because their water content works fantastically to introduce and retain moisture in cake sponge. It’s also a bonus that you can’t even taste the vegetables in the cake once they’ve been baked.

Also, although most cakes tend to add fat to the sponge base by using butter, sadly as it cooks a lot of the water from the butter will evaporate. It will also continue to evaporate the longer the cake sits waiting to be eaten too, whereas using sunflower or vegetable oil (which does not evaporate) will ensure that the fat content (and therefore, moisture) remains present even after it’s been baked in a hot oven. It’s science, innit?

Although these chocolate orange carrot muffins are gluten-free you can easily make them standard muffins by using the same quantity of normal self-raising flour and omitting the xanthan gum and bicarbonate of soda, and only using 1 tsp of baking powder. Although why not give the gluten-free version a go? They’re really tasty and you honestly cannot tell the difference!

These chocolate orange carrot muffins are gorgeous. They’ve got an incredibly soft and bouncy texture, are infused with rich, deep cocoa and have a lovely fresh zing from the orange zest. Their whipped chocolate orange buttercream frosting also does the entire flavour combination justice. Quite frankly I think I’ve outdone myself. Now, I wonder if the boss will like them enough to give me a paid day off…

Chocolate Orange Carrot Muffins by The Fat Foodie

Ingredients:

250g of grated carrots

250g brown sugar

250g gluten-free flour (I use Dove’s Farm G/F Plain Flour)

1 tsp xantham gum

50g cocoa powder

2 tsps baking powder

1/2 tsp bicarbonate of soda

250ml vegetable oil

1/2 tsp salt

3 eggs

The zest and juice of 1 orange (keep 2 tbsps of orange juice aside for the buttercream icing)

1 tsp vanilla extract

1 heaped tsp ground cinnamon

For the buttercream icing:

175g icing sugar

25g cocoa powder

50g butter (use dairy-free, if necessary)

2 tbsps orange juice

Method:

Preheat your oven to 200C/180C Fan/400F/Gas mark 6.

Lay 12 muffin cases out into a muffin tray.

Measure all of your ingredients into a large mixing bowl.

Quickly mix all of the ingredients together using an electric whisk and spoon the mixture equally into the muffin cases.

Bake in the oven for about 30 minutes or until a skewer pushed into the middle of a muffin comes out clean.

Freshly Baked Chocolate Orange Carrot Muffins by The Fat Foodie

Leave to cool and make the buttercream by placing all of the icing ingredients into a jug and whisking until light and whipped.

Once the cakes are completely cold decorate with the buttercream icing and enjoy.

Chocolate Orange Carrot Muffins by The Fat Foodie

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Mushroom Stroganoff (Serves 4-6)

Mushroom Stroganoff by The Fat Foodie

I love mushroom stroganoff because it’s a lovely light meal, but it’s also really filling and satisfying at the same time. However, every time I’ve made mushroom stroganoff in the past it’s been a traditional cream-based version and now that I’m a little wiser when it comes to avoiding high FODMAP foods I know that dairy-based stroganoffs don’t work for me. As a result, I went back to the drawing board (well, it’s more like a kitchen worktop, but the intention’s the same) and I formulated a version that’s much more tummy-friendly.

Now, the Monash app lists button, portobello and shiitake mushrooms as being a high FODMAP food if you’re sensitive to polyols-mannitol, but thankfully oyster mushroom are a low FODMAP food so that’s the type you need to use if you’re making this mushroom stroganoff. However, if you are sensitive to mushrooms in general I’d suggest either substituting the mushrooms for a vegetable that you can happily digest (such as green beans, bell peppers or courgette) or simply giving this recipe a miss. Better safe than sorry. However, if like me, you have no problem with eating small servings of oyster mushrooms then a joyous dinner awaits you!

Although this recipe for mushroom stroganoff is dairy-free it is still beautifully creamy thanks to the use of oat cream. It produces a mushroom stroganoff that is well-seasoned with sweet paprika, fresh thyme leaves and a dash of grated nutmeg, is rich and deeply flavoured with the woodland taste of oyster mushrooms, but still manages to remain light due to the inclusion of the chunks of plum tomatoes. The fresh lemon juice added at the end of the cooking process also lifts the stroganoff to make the whole dish taste fresh and vibrant. It’s a perfect quick-cook mid-week meal when simply served over a bed of fluffy long grain rice.

The Ingredients Needed to Make Mushroom Stroganoff by The Fat Foodie

Ingredients:

1 tbsp vegetable oil

100g oyster mushrooms

1 tbsp paprika (not smoked)

1 tsp fresh thyme leaves

1 tsp asafoetida powder

1/5 tsp grated nutmeg

1 tin of plum tomatoes (drained of their juice and chopped)

1 tbsp Worcestershire Sauce

1 Oxo vegetable stock pot melted into 200ml boiling water

250ml oat cream

A handful of chopped fresh parsley

The juice of 1 lemon

1 tbsp cornflour mixed with 2 tbsp cold water

400g long grain rice

Method:

Place a saucepan filled with water and 1 tsp of salt over a high heat and bring to the boil. (This pot is for cooking the rice.)

Meanwhile, place another large saucepan over a medium heat and add the oil. Once hot add the mushrooms and spices. Cook until the mushrooms are soft.

Put your rice into the pot of boiling water and cook until soft.

While the rice is cooking add the parsley, chopped tomatoes, vegetable stock, oat cream, lemon juice and Worcestershire Sauce to your stroganoff and cook until hot.

Stir the cornflour mixture into the stroganoff and allow to thicken.

Once the rice is soft, drain it and serve in bowls topped with the mushroom stroganoff.

Mushroom Stroganoff by The Fat Foodie

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Lemon Tarts

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Chicken Enchiladas (Serves 4-6)

Chicken Enchiladas by The Fat Foodie

I love Mexican food, but I must admit that I do tend to stick to making the same meals all the time simply because they’re so tasty. I don’t think it’s necessarily a bad thing though because it means that you can perfect your own version until the seasoning mix is just right. That’s the case with these chicken enchiladas.

I didn’t realise until I started reading into Mexican food that the word ‘enchilada’ simply means ‘to season with chilli’ and that, traditionally, enchiladas are quite simple  snacks, involving little more than a fried tortilla that’s wrapped around a plain, spiceless filling of meat, beans or vegetables (or a combination of the three).

According to Mexican food expert Diana Kennedy’s quintessential book on the subject of Mexican cookery The Essential Cuisines of Mexico, traditional enchiladas served on the streets of Mexico tend to see their tortillas fried in oil before being stuffed, but I don’t really think that’s necessary when you’re cooking at home. I don’t really like oily food so I’m quite happy to skip that step towards authenticity. Plus you’ve got a grated cheese topping that’s going to add oil to the enchiladas anyway.

Although a traditional enchilada doesn’t contain any spices other than freshly chopped chilli, I like to flavour mine with cumin, oregano and smoked paprika because it makes the whole dish much tastier. As a result, this chicken enchilada recipe yields a large casserole dish filled to the brim with soft tortillas that are stuffed full of delicately spiced tender chicken strips and slices of sweet bell peppers and is topped with a tangy tomato sauce and encrusted with golden grilled cheese. It’s simply the perfect Mexican meal.

Ingredients for the enchilada filling:

8 corn tortillas (use gluten-free if necessary)

1 tbsp of vegetable oil

1 tin of chopped tomatoes

4 chicken breasts (cut into thin slices)

1 green pepper (cut into thin slices)

1 red pepper (cut into thin slices)

2 tsps ground cumin

2 tsps dried oregano

2 tsps smoked paprika

1 tsp asafoetida powder

Ingredients for the enchilada topping:

1 tin of chopped tomatoes

1 tsp asafoetida powder

1 tsp dried oregano

150g grated cheese (or non-dairy alternative)

Method:

Preheat your oven to 200C/180C Fan/400F/Gas mark 6.

Get a large rectangular casserole dish out to cook the enchiladas in and keep it to one side.

Place a saucepan over a medium heat and add the oil, sliced chicken breasts and spices. Fry until the chicken is almost cooked.

Add the sliced peppers and continue to cook until the chicken is fully cooked.

Add a tin of chopped tomatoes and cook until hot.

Pour the other tin of chopped tomatoes into a jug and add the sauce spices and stir.

Lay a tortilla out on a chopping board and place some enchilada filling inside it before wrapping it up and laying it in a large rectangular casserole dish. (Bear in mind you’ve got 8 tortillas to fill so try to distribute the filling evenly between them.)

Chicken Enchiladas Being Filled by The Fat Foodie

Chicken Enchiladas Awaiting Their Topping

Once you’ve filled all the tortillas and they’re in the casserole dish, pour the enchilada sauce over them and top with the grated cheese.

Chicken Enchiladas by The Fat Foodie About to be Baked

Bake in the oven for about 30-40 mins or until the cheese is crisp and golden brown.

Serve with a fresh green salad.

Chicken Enchiladas by The Fat Foodie

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