Torquay, Devon: The Gluten Free Suitcase Guide

This summer I took my first EVER trip to the UK’s beautiful South Coast and our first stop was the quintessentially British beach town of Torquay. This lovely seaside town is located along the English Riviera and home to an insane selection of gluten free hot spots and I felt absolutely spoiled for choice when eating out. From the freshest of seafood to one of the best gluten free bakeries ever, you’ll want to add Torquay to your destination list at any time of year!

Jacksons Gluten Free Bakery

Tucked away in Torquay’s old market place, Jacksons Gluten Free Bakery is a family run bakery which has the most incredible selection of classic bakery style treats, including custard slices, deep fried doughnuts, Cornish pasties and award-winning loaves of gluten free bread. While these guys always have a selection on display to buy, I would recommend pre-ordering your treats online to avoid disappointment. I just wish I lived closer to this bakery! Open on Thursdays, Fridays and Saturdays.

Where?

Market Forum Market Street
Torquay TQ1 3AE

Hanbury’s Fish and Chips

This epic fish and chip restaurant has been serving up the goods for over three decades and it’s absolute music to any gluten free person’s ears that they have a dedicated fryer. Any fish can be fried in gluten free batter and comes with a mountain of crispy, fluffy chips. Be prepared to queue for your order as this restaurant gets popular, especially at dinner time! Closed on Sundays.

Where?

Princes Streetm, Babbacombe
Torquay TQ1 3LW

Kalipso Artisan Coffee

This delightful, independent coffee shop is a haven for coffee lovers in Torquay and also offers a lovely selection of gluten free cakes and sweet treats. We grabbed coffee and snacks to go and wandered to the seafront, which was the perfect pick me up!

Where?

45 Fleet Street
Torquay TQ2 5DW

On the Rocks

Located on the water front, this seafood brasserie has an extensive gluten free menu upon request and is home to the holy grail – A SEPARATE GLUTEN FREE FRYER! They offer lots of delicious seafood dishes including a Devon Crab Crumpet which blew my mind. Also available are gluten free burgers, pasta, gazpacho and more. All desserts can also be made gluten free. Highly recommend booking a table on the terrace if the weather is nice so you can take in the Riviera views with your meal.

Where?

1 Abbey Crescent, Torbay Road
Torquay TQ2 5FB

The Elephant by Simon Hulstone

Did someone say GLUTEN FREE TASTING MENU? Yes, you read right. This beautiful Michelin starred restaurant overlooking Torquay Harbour offers a gluten free version of their famous tasting menu and adapts all dishes so we get to partake in the fun too! Featuring eight courses of goodness with coffee and petits fours to finish, you will want to make The Elephant a location for a special occasion! The service is wonderful and the wine list fantastic. Booking well in advance is recommended to secure your table. Closed on Sundays and Mondays.

Where?

3&4 Beacon Hill
Torquay TQ1 2BH

Rockfish

Torquay is home to one of nine Rockfish restaurant locations and is somewhere you will want to visit over and over again. Accredited by Coeliac UK, this beautiful and casual seafood restaurant offers gluten free fish and chips, whitebait, fried squid and so much more (including dessert!). This eatery is located along Victoria Parade with views of Torquay Harbour, so if the weather is nice definitely grab a table outside! Closed on Mondays.

Where?

Victoria Parade
Torquay TQ1 2BB

Number 7 Fish Bistro

Serving up some of the best seafood I’ve had in the UK, Number 7 Fish Bistro is a paradise for seafood lovers. Almost the entire menu can be adapted to be gluten free and the staff are incredibly helpful and re-assuring. The specials on offer are bound to tempt you too, and change on a daily basis. With gluten free bread on offer to enjoy on the side of your meal too, it’s an absolute win win situation. The restaurant has an extensive wine list too and a wine bar upstairs if you fancy a tipple before or after your meal. Closed on Sundays.

Where?

7 Beacon Hill
Torquay TQ1 2BH

Alfajores de Maicena (Argentine Sandwich Cookies)

I’m on a roll over here with my nostalgic Argentine recipes, and this one for Alfajores or sandwich cookies, I can confirm, is something you will want to try at home! I spent a lot of my time in Buenos Aires eating these cookies, which are sandwiched together by the most velvety Dulce de Leche (caramel). They are often served as an accompaniment to a cup of coffee or enjoyed as an on-the-go snack by people all over the city. The basis of this particular type of alfajor is corn meal and while it would make sense for them to just be gluten free, in Argentina they can sometimes contain hidden wheat flour or traces. I’m delighted to tell you however that this recipe is 100% gluten free, and you will absolutely not miss the gluten!

I was able to score a jar of imported Dulce de Leche for this particular recipe from a lovely Argentine food stall in Borough Market in London – La Porteña – but this decadently delicious spread is available in multiple retail outlets across the UK now and can be sourced online via the likes of Amazon. The corn flour I always go for meanwhile is Harina P.A.N. – a widely used Latin American white corn flour, which is available in food markets across London and in niche local grocery stores. Alternatively of course, this flour can be purchased online via multiple webpages – just be sure to check out the shopping tab on your Google browser for all your options.

Ingredients

150g x Unsalted Butter (softened)
4 x Large Egg Yolks
300g x Harina P.A.N. White Corn Flour
60g x White Caster Sugar
4 x Teaspoons Gluten Free Baking Powder
1/3 Teaspoon Sea Salt
250g x Dulce de Leche
20g x Gluten Free Plain Flour (for rolling)

Method

  1. Using an electric whisk or hand mixer, combine the egg yolks and sugar in a large bowl.
  2. Sieve the corn flour into a separate bowl along with your baking powder and salt.
  3. Gradually add the dry ingredients into the combined egg and sugar, using a spatula to ensure the ingredients are evenly mixed (warning, this can take up to 10 minutes!).
  4. Using your hands, knead the mixture together for an additional 5 minutes until you have a bread dough-like consistency.
  5. Create a large ball with the dough, wrap in cling-film and place in the fridge to chill for two hours.
  6. Preheat your fan oven to 155 degrees Celsius and line two baking trays with parchment paper.
  7. Sprinkle the gluten free flour on a dry surface and using a sharp knife, divide your pre-chilled dough into two portions for ease.
  8. Using a rolling pin, roll out each portion of dough until it has a thickness of around 1cm. With a small cookie cutter create alfajor shapes out of the dough. I prefer to use a small cookie cutter for dinky-sized alfajores but the diameter of the cutter is up to you (there are alfajores of all sizes in Argentina!)
  9. Bake the cookies in the oven for 8 minutes before removing to cool on the baking trays for up to 30 minutes. Once cooled, transfer to a cooling rack.
  10. Create your alfajores by placing one tea spoon of Dulce de Leche in the centre of one cookie and placing another cookie on top. Lightly press down to bring the Dulce de Leche closer to the edges of the sandwich.
  11. Transfer your alfajores to a plate or container and chill in the fridge for up to an hour so the Dulce de Leche sets.
  12. Enjoy with tea, coffee or just simply on their own. Buen provecho!

Black Bean and four Cheese Dip

The best kind of dinners are often those centred around appetizer style dishes. They remind me of meals in the States while watching football games in sports bars or when out “just for a few drinks” and then you decide to opt for something small and end up ordering everys single starters on the menu. This dip was always one of my favourites and would come piping hot out the oven, served with a mountain of tortilla chips for dipping. Sadly, this dish rarely is gluten free friendly in restaurants and so I quickly came up with a safe version to prepare and eat at home when I didn’t fancy a big dinner or when having friends over. Be sure to serve with an ice cold gluten free beer or a good bottle of wine and you’ve got yourself a perfect night in!

Ingredients

2 x 400g Cans Black Beans (drained and rinsed)

2 x Garlic Cloves, peeled

½ x Lemon/Lime, squeezed

½ x Teaspoon Cumin

½ x Teaspoon Chilli Flakes

1 x Teaspoon Sea Salt

½ x Teaspoon Black Pepper

1 x Teaspoon Hot Sauce (I use Salsa Valentina)

200g x Cream Cheese

100g x Mild Cheddar Cheese

50g x Parmesan Cheese

100g x Shredded Mozzarella

100ml x Crème Fraiche

200g x Gluten Free Salted Tortilla Chips

For the garnish:

1 x green jalapeno, chopped

100g x cherry tomatoes, chopped

Method

  1. Preheat the oven to 180 degrees Celsius (160 degrees fan)
  2. In a large bowl, mix the black beans, cream cheese, crème fraiche, garlic cloves and lemon/lime juice with a hand blender until smooth (alternatively, this can be mixed in a food processor)
  3. Add the cumin, chilli flakes, sea salt, black pepper, hot sauce, cheddar and parmesan and blend again until smooth
  4. Transfer the mixture to an oven-proof dish. Top with the shredded mozzarella and bake the dip for 25 minutes, or until the cheese is golden brown.
  5. Remove from oven and leave to rest for five minutes before garnishing with the chopped jalapeno and tomatoes.
  6. Serve with tortilla chips and enjoy!

Gluten Free Blinis

I don’t think that there is anything that goes better with a glass of bubbles at a party or on a special night in than a freshly made, gluten free blini. Of course the gluten free variety are impossible to get hold of at the supermarkets but fear not, I have the perfect recipe for y’all here. It’s one I’ve whipped out for special occasions for years and no one can even tell they are gluten free. I like to top mine with smoked salmon, crème fraiche, lemon and freshly chopped chives. These are very versatile party snacks however, and so can be topped with whatever you fancy. Give them a whirl and let me know what you think!

Ingredients

1 x Cup Gluten Free Flour
1 x Large Egg
1 x Cup of Milk/ Dairy Free Milk
½ x Teaspoon Bicarbonate of Soda
½ x Teaspoon Gluten Free Bouillon Powder
Cracked Black Pepper
1 x Teaspoon Vegetable/ Sunflower Oil

For the topping:

1 x Small Tub crème fraiche
50g x Smoked Salmon
Freshly Chopped Chives
½ Lemon

Method

1. In a large bowl, mix together the flour, bicarbonate of soda, Bouillon powder and black pepper.
2. In a separate bowl, whisk together the egg and the milk. When combined, add gradually to the dry ingredients and mix into a smooth batter.
3. Heat the oil in a large pan over medium heat and use a small spoon to create small blini discs in the pan.
4. When bubbles form in the blinis, they are ready to turn over. Once turned, cook for 2-3 more minutes before removing from the pan.
5. Leave to cool and then top with ½ a teaspoon each of crème fraiche and chopped salmon.
6. Squeeze the juice of the lemon over the plate of blinis when armed and then sprinkle generously with chopped chives before serving.

Savoury Canapes on Nairn’s Crackers & Oatcakes

Spring has finally sprung and it’s time to start enjoying meals and snacks al fresco. One of my favourite pastimes is creating finger food that not only tastes and looks fantastic but that uses real and simple ingredients. Thanks to Nairn’s versatile oatcake and cracker range, creating the perfect snacks to enjoy with a glass of bubbles or by themselves as a canape or even a meal is easier than ever. So go ahead and grab yourselves some of the gluten free Nairn’s oatcake and cracker range from Sainsburys, Morrisons, Asda, Tesco or Waitrose stores and give some of my topping choices a whirl!

Nairn's - The GFS Image 3

1. Roasted Red Pepper & Humous: 1 x tablespoon humous, ¼ of a red pepper which has been lightly roasted in the oven for 20 minutes at 180 degrees FAN with a drizzle of olive oil, salt and pepper

2. Grilled Halloumi & Tomato Salsa: 1 x slice halloumi which has been grilled or lightly pan fried in a drizzle of olive oil and 1 x teaspoon of homemade tomato salsa using 2 x finely chopped cherry tomatoes, 1 teaspoon finely chopped fresh basil, ½ teaspoon lime juice, salt and pepper

3. English Brie & Grape: 2 x brie cheese wedges and 1 x washed red grape sliced lengthways, arranged on top

4. Mozzarella, Prosciutto Ham & Basil: 1 x slice of fresh mozzarella cheese, 1/2 a slice of prosciutto, 1 x washed basil leaf and freshly cracked black pepper

5. Chive Cream Cheese & Smoked Salmon: 1 x tablespoon plain cream cheese, 1 x teaspoon fresh chives, ½ teaspoon dried chives, 1 x small slice of smoked salmon, freshly cracked black pepper

6. Guacamole and Cherry Tomato: ½ mashed ripe avocado with salt, pepper, 1 x tablespoon lime juice and ½ teaspoon chilli flakes with one cherry tomato slice arranged on top

Nairn's - The GFS Image 4

This post has been sponsored by Nairn’s.

Courgette Fritters

When I was little, my Mom would make American pancakes for us every Sunday. I loved them so much that I often begged her to whip them up more regularly and so in order to make them a little lighter (and greener!) she would add fresh grated courgette. My Mom will therefore be very pleased to know that I’ve developed an EVEN GREENER version of her pancakes, which have been a hit for breakfasts and brunches (topped with fried eggs) and even dinner parties I’ve hosted over the last few years where I’ve served them as an appetiser, topped with roasted red pepper and cream cheese or lightly smoked salmon and fresh lemon. All in all, these courgette fritters are highly versatile and I hope you enjoy making them at home!

Ingredients

3 x Medium Sized Courgettes
2 x Large Eggs
3 x Tablespoons Gluten Free Plain Flour
1 x Tablespoon Vegetable or Sunflower Oil
½ x Teaspoon Garlic Powder
½ x Teaspoon Chilli Flakes
1 x Teaspoon Chives (dried or fresh)
Salt
Pepper

Method

  1. Wash and grate the courgettes onto a clean tea towel or several paper towels, squeezing out as much moisture as possible.
  2. Beat two large eggs into a bowl with the gluten free flour , garlic power, chilli flakes and chives.
  3. Gradually stir in the courgettes to create a batter and mix well. Add salt and pepper and mix again.
  4. Heat the oil in a frying pan over medium heat and form small pancake size fritters. Use a silicone spatula to keep the fritters round (the batter is likely to run when it hits the pan).
  5. Cook the fritters for 2-3 minutes on each side until crispy.
  6. Leave the fritters to cool for 5-10 minutes and serve with fried eggs for breakfast or brunch or a sprinkling of fresh Parmesan.