Low FODMAP and Dairy Free Gnocchi Alla Marie

One of the best things about starting my gluten free blog has definitely been meeting and making such lovely new friends, who have taught me so much about diets, allergies and intolerances way beyond my own knowledge and personal issues with gluten. As a way of saying thank you for being so awesome, I decided to have a crew over to my new house for dinner to celebrate. I put myself to work to create the ultimate low FODMAP and dairy free version of my classic gnocchi dish that so many of you have been able to enjoy.

With coaching and advice from the lovely Lottie aka The Tummy Diaries on the do’s and don’ts of the low FODMAP diet and top dairy free tips from the amazing Alice aka Gluten Free Alice (who also took this lovely al fresco photo of our meal), I put together the following dish so that everyone can enjoy my Gnocchi Alla Marie. I am still learning about the FODMAP diet, and as getting your hands on appropriate seasoning or stock can be difficult, I decided to feature pancetta in my dish to add extra flavour and depth. For vegetarians, the pancetta can be replaced with black olives, which can be thinly sliced and added to the dish just before baking. Happy eating!

Low FODMAP and Dairy Free Gnocchi Alla Marie
(Serves 4-6)

Ingredients

For the Sauce:
3 x Tablespoons FODMAP friendly garlic infused olive oil
1 x Carrot (peeled and finely chopped)
1 x Red Pepper (finely chopped)
800g Chopped Tomatoes
1 x Cup Red Wine
30g Fresh Basil
80g Smoked Cubed Pancetta
1 x Teaspoon Dried Chives
Salt and Pepper to Taste

For the Gnocchi:
500g Gluten Free Gnocchi
200g Vegan Mozzarella Style Cheese
30g Fresh Chives (finely chopped)
1 x Medium Courgette (diced)

Method

  1. Heat the FODMAP friendly garlic infused oil in a pot over medium heat. Add the pepper, carrot and cook until soft.
  2. Add the pancetta and cook through, stirring the mixture frequently.
  3. When the pancetta is cooked, add the chopped tomatoes, wine, dried chives, salt and pepper and let the sauce cook on a medium heat for 20 minutes.
  4. While the sauce cooks, preheat oven to 180 degrees Celsius.
  5. Boil water in a separate pot. Add the gnocchi to the boiling water and cook for two minutes, draining immediately.
  6. Place the partially cooked gnocchi in a good sized baking dish and add the vegan mozzarella style cheese (saving a handful for garnish), chives and courgette.
  7. Add the torn basil to the sauce before transferring it to a blender, or a bowl and then using a hand blender, liquidise until smooth.
  8. Gently pour the cooked down sauce over the gnocchi mixture and stir evenly. As the sauce tends to cook down even further during the baking process, I tend to use all of it but depending on preference, some sauce can be held back and either refrigerated or frozen for later use.
  9. Evenly sprinkle the remaining vegan mozzarella style cheese over the top along with some more black pepper.
  10. Place in the centre of the oven and bake for 30-40 minutes, or until golden brown on top.
  11. Remove from oven and allow to sit for 5-8 minutes before serving. Accompany with mixed leaves.

Gluten Free Rosemary Crackers

While I love to indulge in a traditional post-dinner cheese plate in true British style, sometimes I just have to give into my pre-meal craving. In the US, cheese and crackers are often enjoyed as an appetiser, and they definitely played a huge role in my household growing up. My mom would often put out a board of soft and hard cheeses with a selection of crackers and while obviously these were the gluten days, I still look back on them fondly.

After being gifted some beautiful rosemary by my friend Jessie, I decided to put it to good use and create some gluten free crackers which are naturally dairy free and can be paired with a selection of dairy free or regular cheeses. Enjoy with a cucumber gin and tonic for the perfect start to your dinner party!

Gluten Free Rosemary Crackers
(Makes Around 20 Small Crackers)

Ingredients

For the crackers:
2 x Cups Gluten Free Flour
1 x Teaspoon Xantham Gum
3 x Tablespoons Fresh Rosemary (chopped or torn)
2 x Teaspoons Rough Sea Salt
2 x Tablespoons Olive Oil
1 x Cups Water

For the Garnish:
1 x Tablespoon Olive Oil
1 x Tablespoon Fresh Rosemary
1 x Teaspoon Rough Sea Salt

Method

  1. Preheat oven to 225 degrees.
  2. Mix all the dry ingredients together in a large bowl.
  3. Gradually add the water and oil and mix quickly with a wooden spoon to create a dough. The dough should hold together and not stick to the spoon. If it sticks, add a little more flour to dry it out.
  4. Roll out the dough onto baking paper to create a layer with a thickness of around 1cm. Cut carefully into squares and separate on the baking paper before placing both onto a baking tray. Note – the squares, unless you use a cutter, will not be perfectly formed as the dough softens but fear not! I think this creates more of a rustic-looking cracker!
  5. Place in oven and bake for 8 minutes. Remove tray from oven and using a spatula, carefully turn all the crackers over and drizzle with the olive oil, rosemary and sea salt set aside for garnish, and return to the oven for a remaining 8-10 minutes or until golden brown.
  6. Remove from oven and allow the crackers to sit for 10-15 minutes before serving with an array of cheeses.

Lasagne d’Almagro

A piece of my heart will forever be in Buenos Aires – a vibrant, hectic and culturally rich city where I spent almost three years during my twenties. Beyond traditional dishes like Argentine steak and empanadas, much of the country’s cuisine was brought and developed by Italian immigrants who arrived there en masse from the 1850s onwards. A favourite dish of mine was always lasagne, prepared in its own Argentine way and featuring the smoky taste of aji molido (smoked red pepper powder) and black olives which add a natural saltiness and depth to the dish.

After becoming gluten free, I quickly released that coming across a lasagne that was safe for me to eat – in my Buenos Aires neighbourhood of Almagro and beyond – was a rare luxury, not only due to the pasta but also the stock used in the sauce. So, in honour of Coeliac Awareness Week, I have recreated this dish to make it safe for coeliacs to enjoy with friends and family. Thanks to Knorr, who create the best tasting and fuss-free stock I have ever had, this dish is bursting with flavour and completely gluten free. Knorr has been a household name ever since I remember, and I am pleased to shout about its efforts for the gluten free community. Be sure to enjoy this dish with some homemade garlic bread and a glass of strong bodied Malbec for the true Argentine experience.

Lasagne d’Almagro
(Serves 6)

Ingredients

For the Lasagne Filling:
1 x White Onion (Finely Chopped)
4 x Garlic Cloves
2 x Celery Sticks (Finely Chopped)
1 x Large Carrot (Finely Chopped)
800g Chopped Tomatoes in Juice
500g Lean Minced Beef
400g Gluten Free Sausage Meat or Sausages (Casing Removed)
160g Drained Black Olives
1 x Tablespoon Knorr Rich Beef Concentrated Stock
2 x Tablespoon Olive Oil
1 x Cup Red Wine
½ x Cup Boiling Water
2 x Bay Leaves
½ Teaspoon Dried Basil
½ x Tablespoon Gluten Free Worcestershire Sauce
1 x Teaspoon Aji Molido
250g Gluten Free Lasagne Sheets
300g Fresh Mozzarella (Diced)
100g Parmesan (Grated)

For the Béchamel Sauce:
1 x Tablespoon Butter
1 x White Onion
3 x Cups Milk
3 x Tablespoons Gluten Free Flour
1 x Cup White Wine
½ x Knorr Vegetable Stock Cube
½ x Teaspoon Nutmeg
Pepper

  1. Heat 1 tablespoon of the oil in a shallow pan over moderate heat. Add the beef and sausage meat to the pan and cook until brown (around 8 minutes), stirring occasionally and at the same time breaking up the meat with a wooden spoon.
  2. Meanwhile, take a separate, good sized cooking pot and warm the rest of the oil over moderate heat before adding the chopped onion, celery, carrot and whole peeled garlic cloves. Stir until all vegetables are soft, taking care to not burn the onion.
  3. Turn attention back to the meat once cooked through and drain fat. Then add beef to the vegetables, stirring through to make sure all vegetables are evenly dispersed throughout the mixture.
  4. Add the chopped tomatoes, olives, wine and boiling water to the pot. Stir well.
  5. Now add the Knorr Rich Beef Concentrated Stock, along with the gluten free Worcestershire sauce, bay leaves, dried basil and aji molido before stirring again and leaving to simmer for 30 minutes with a splatter guard covering the top of the pot. This will help the mixture cook down and also protect your surfaces!
  6. While your lasagne mixture is cooking, start preparing the béchamel by sautéing the finely chopped onion in butter over moderate heat in a medium saucepan.
  7. When onion is soft, add milk and let the milk almost come to boil (but not quite!) before removing from heat and whisking in the flour. Whisk vigorously for 2-3 minutes. Add the wine, nutmeg and crumbled Knorr vegetable stock cube and using a hand blender, blend the mixture until smooth.
  8. Return béchamel to heat and simmer for 20 minutes until the sauce has thickened. The sauce will still be fairly thin and pale in colour. If you prefer a thicker sauce, add 1 teaspoon of flour and whisk again. However, the consistency should not put you off – it blends beautifully with the lasagne filling during the baking process.
  9. Preheat oven to 200 degrees and start arming your lasagne.
  10. Take a medium sized lasagne dish and create layers: after removing bay leaves, ladle in one spoon of the meat mixture and smooth out to cover bottom of dish, then lay down lasagne sheets (I tend to use three sheets per layer).
  11. On top of the lasagne sheets, drizzle one ladle of béchamel sauce and smooth out to just about cover the sheets before adding an even sprinkling of fresh mozzarella and torn basil leaves on top. Repeat, leaving enough béchamel to cover the entire top layer which will then be dusted in grated parmesan cheese.
  12. Bake for 30-40 minutes or until evenly golden brown.
  13. Leave to rest for 10-15 minutes before serving and garnish with more fresh basil and mixed leaves.

 

Massachusetts Chocolate Chip and Cranberry Cookies

Baking cookies is something I will always associate with my time in Massachusetts when I was little. I would visit my Nana – who still practised law well into her 90s – for the summer months. I accompanied her to the office most days armed with toys and activity books, apart from when she had to appear in court. It was then that she would leave me with her dearest friend for a few hours who was always baking something delicious, even in the 90 degree summer heat (that’s a whopping 32 degrees in European terms). She taught me many valuable lessons including: 1) no brownie is complete without the addition of nuts and 2) blueberry pies made with blueberries from any state outside of New England will never be as sweet.

I love a chocolate chip cookie as much as the next person but I have found that the addition of cranberries – in true New England style – adds an extra special dimension. There’s something about the sweetness that comes out in dark chocolate after baking that goes so well with the tart nature of the cranberries. I hope that you cookie lovers out there enjoy trying this simple and foolproof recipe and that, time permitting, you will share your top baking memory with me.

Massachusetts Chocolate Chip and Cranberry Cookies
(Makes 20 Small Cookies)

Ingredients

1 ¼ x Cups Gluten Free Flour
½ x Teaspoon Gluten Free Baking Powder
½ x Teaspoon Gluten Free Bicarbonate of Soda
1 x Cup Dairy Free Dark Chocolate Chips
½ x Cup Dried Cranberries
¾ x Cup Light Brown Muscovado Sugar
1 x Large Egg
8 x Tablespoons Vegetable Oil
2 x Tablespoons Water
½ x Teaspoon Vanilla Extract

Method

  1. Preheat the oven to 175 degrees and line two baking trays with parchment paper.
  2. Mix all dry ingredients except the chocolate chips and cranberries in a medium sized bowl and set aside.
  3. Mix the oil, sugar, water and vanilla extract together in a large bowl.
  4. Beat the egg separately and add to the liquid.
  5. Gradually add the dry mix to the liquid, stirring in small amounts at a time. Mix until smooth.
  6. Add the chocolate chips and cranberries until equally dispersed in the mixture.
  7. Form cookies out of 1 tablespoon of dough on the baking trays, giving them enough space (the cookies grow in size in the oven!).
  8. Bake for 12-15 minutes or until lightly golden brown on the top.
  9. Leave to cool on a cooling rack for 30 minutes before eating. The cookies will remain soft and chewy!

Creamy Spinach and Comté Stuffed Pancakes

Pancakes, my American mother taught me from an early age, are an incredibly versatile foodstuff. The common misconception is that they can be eaten only at breakfast time or for brunch, but, when they are prepared in a savoury way, they are the perfect base for any meal. This sentiment was backed up even more by my Dutch friend Elfi, who I met when I landed my first journalism job in London. She would often bring pancakes for lunch – the thick, crepe kind – that she would stuff and roll up with salad, meats, cheeses and more. I soon caught on added them to my desk lunch repertoire.

This wonderful lunch discovery gave me great practice in the art of pancake flipping for the annual Pancake Day party that my school friends and I take turns to host each year. If you’re looking to step away from the ‘lemon and sugar’ tradition this Shrove Tuesday or are simply wanting to try something different as a weeknight dinner, I urge you to try my recipe below. It’s a wonderfully indulgent way to eat pancakes as a main course and tops any sweet combination in my view. Happy flipping guys!

Creamy Spinach and Comté Stuffed Pancakes
(Serves 4)

Ingredients

For the Pancakes
220g Gluten Free Flour
2 x Eggs
2 x Egg Yolks
2 x Cups Milk
4 x Tablespoons Vegetable Oil
1 x Teaspoon Vegetable Bouillon Powder
50g Unsalted Butter
Salt and Pepper

For the Filling:
500g Spinach
300g Cherry Tomatoes
200g Comté Cheese, grated
1 x Teaspoon dried parsley
Pepper

For the Sauce:
1/3 x Cup Gluten Free Flour
1 x Cup milk
30g Unsalted Butter
2 x Garlic cloves, minced
½ x 1 onion
1 x Cup white wine
2 x Tablespoons Dijon mustard
Pinch of Nutmeg
Salt and Pepper
100g Grated Mozzarella (to sprinkle over pancakes pre-oven)

Method

1. Prepare your pancake mixture by adding all dry ingredients to a large bowl and mix well with a wooden spoon. Beat eggs, milk and vegetable oil in a separate bowl and gradually add to the dry mixture until smooth.
2. Melt a little bit of your butter a non-stick pan over medium heat and when melted and hot, add your pancake mixture using a soup ladle which is 2/3 of the way full.
3. Let the pancake mixture cook until air bubbles appear. This is when the pancake is ready to flip, or, if you’re feeling less adventurous, turn over carefully with a fish slice. Repeat until all mixture is used up and set pancakes aside on a plate lined with paper towels and cool (this mixture will be enough to make 8-10 pancakes, depending on how full your ladle is)
4. Preheat oven to 180 degrees Celsius before moving on to the pancake filling.
5. Place spinach in a microwaveable bowl and heat for 30 seconds to 1 minute until withered. Remove and place in a mixing bowl.
6. Chop each cherry tomato into fours, setting aside a handful to decorate the pancakes before baking. Add the chopped tomatoes to the withered spinach and mix in the grated Comte cheese with a large spoon, seasoning with some black pepper and the parsley.
7. Stuff your pancakes with 1-2 tablespoons each of the filling mixture and roll carefully to form tubes. Line up the pancakes in a standard lasagne dish (I am able to fit around 8 in mine).
8. Now prepare your sauce by melting the butter in a pot and sautéing the garlic and onion until soft.
9. Remove from heat and place in a mixing bowl with the milk, white wine, mustard, nutmeg, salt and pepper. Stir with a whisk before adding the flour and then using a hand mixer, blend until smooth.
10. Return sauce to the heat and allow to simmer for 2-3 minutes before removing from heat again to cool. If the sauce is too thick for you, add a splash of milk and whisk lightly again.
11. Pour the sauce evenly over the pancakes and sprinkle with mozzarella. Halve the remaining cherry tomatoes to decorate the dish.
12. Bake in the oven for 35-45 minutes or until the dish is bubbling, and the top is golden brown.
13. Leave to cool for 5 minutes before serving with fresh leaves.

Baked Garlic Chicken Tenders

I spent a good part of my early twenties living, studying and working in South Carolina. It was there, in the Deep South, that my love for proper fried chicken was born. I realised within 24 hours of arriving in the state capital for the first time that I had never really eaten fried chicken. What I had eaten for years in the UK had just been breaded chicken, which often lacked flavour and crunch. Here in the southern states however, fried chicken was not only the real deal but a way of life.

The official food of my University football team was a regional fast food restaurant’s signature deep fried chicken sandwich, which they would pass out by the thousand to students during games. While my arteries may not have been enjoying themselves that much, my taste buds were having a permanent party and every moment of it was fantastic.

Ever since coming back home, I’ve been working on recreating this southern staple with a healthier twist. I do not often trust myself with a deep fryer and that is just as well because these chicken tenders I make are baked in the oven, instantly making them a lighter choice. I hope you enjoy them as either a meal, an appetiser or simply because you want to snack on them. Dig in y’all!

Baked Garlic Chicken Tenders
(Serves 2-3)

Ingredients

320-360g Chicken (pre-cut supermarket mini chicken breast fillets are a great time-saver)
3 x Large eggs
2 x Cups gluten free flour
2 x Cups gluten free breadcrumbs
1 x Teaspoon garlic powder
1 x Teaspoon minced garlic
1 x Teaspoon dried parsley
1 x Teaspoon dried chives
2 x Tablespoons finely grated Parmesan cheese
Salt and Pepper
Vegetable Oil of Choice

To Serve:
Freshly Chopped Chives (to garnish)
Garlic Mayonnaise or Ranch Dressing for dipping

Method

1. Preheat the oven to 200 degrees Celsius and line a large baking tray with parchment paper.
2. Prepare your “dipping stations”. Place beaten eggs in a shallow bowl, gluten free flour in a second and the breadcrumbs in a third.
3. Season the egg mixture with the garlic powder and salt and stir.
4. Add the parmesan cheese, minced garlic and pepper to the breadcrumbs and mix.
5. If your chicken is not pre-chopped, cut into strips with a width of around 1 1/2 – 2 inches wide.
6. Using a fork, start dipping your chicken strips by placing each tender into the egg. When the tender is well covered in egg mix, dip in the flour, ensuring a good dusting all-around the tender (this is easiest, and less messy, if you hold the tender on a fork and use an additional fork to pile the flour onto each tender).
7. After the flour, pass the tender lightly through the egg mix once more and then into the breadcrumb mix, again ensuring the entire tender has a good coating. Top up dipping bowls as required, although the measurements above should be enough to cover the specified amount of chicken.
8. Place each tender on the lined baking sheet, leaving at least a centimetre between each piece.
9. Pour a light drizzle of a vegetable oil of your choice over the tenders before baking.
10. Bake for 20-25 minutes until golden brown, turning the chicken tenders over gently with a fork or thin knife half way through cooking, making sure to do this slowly so breadcrumbs do not fall off in the process.
11. Sprinkle with freshly chopped chives before serving with a dipping sauce of your choice.