Thursday, 27 September 2012

Gluten Free Cauliflower Pizza

Once again the wonderful world of the internet has opened up my eyes to the endless flour substitutes that can be used to make normally gluten packed foods gluten free. A great source of gluten free (as well as dairy free and vegan recipes) is the wonderful website Deliciously Ella. I stumbled across this website after it was nominated for a Cosmo Blog Award, and it is easy to see why it was up for the prize as it is packed full of healthily mouth-watering recipes with a website bursting with beautifully bright and colourful photographs (so if you get a chance go and check it out). It was on Deliciously Ella that I first stumbled across a gluten free pizza base made with cauliflower as a flour substitute. This led me on a further trawl of the internet where I discovered that the cauliflower pizza base is a pretty popular recipe. And with a cauliflower in the cupboard waiting to be used up I developed my own version of this unlikely use of the cauliflower, although I must admit I deviated from the original recipe I found on Ella’s website and added an extra dairy kick by using cheese in this cauliflower base (as well as using cheese in its more traditional form on top of the pizza).


350g cauliflower (approximately ½ a large cauliflower head)
50g tapioca flour
60g hard cheese (I used 30g parmesan and 30g of mature cheddar)
1 egg
1 tspn fresh oregano

Makes 1 large pizza

Pre-heat the oven to 220 deg C / 425 deg F

Chop the cauliflower into small florets and then place into a food processor and blitz until the cauliflower resembles fine bread crumbs.

Place the cauliflower crumbs into a colander and place over a pan of boiling water and steam for 10 minutes. Then remove the colander from the pan of boiling water and leave to cool, allowing excess steam (and moisture) to escape from the cauliflower.

Place the cauliflower crumbs into a large mixing bowl and add the tapioca flour, grated cheese, beaten egg and oregano. Mix until well combined, the mixture will probably appear a bit wet and sticky rather than appearing like traditional dough but this is fine.

Line a large baking tray with non-stick baking parchment and spread the cauliflower mixture onto the baking tray until an even thickness is achieved. Then bake in the oven for 20 minutes until the mixture is crisp around the edges and firm in the middle.

Remove from the oven and top with any pizza toppings as desires. I covered mine with olives, peppers, mushroom and brie. Do be aware that if using a tomato sauce on top ensure it is well reduced, thick and relatively dry otherwise the sauce can cause the base to go a bit soggy.

Then place the pizza back in the oven for another 10-15 minutes until the topping is hot and cheese is melted and bubbling (but do keep an eye on the pizza to prevent the exposed edges of the cauliflower base from overcooking).

Sunday, 23 September 2012

Vegan Omelette

After a recent raid of the Chinese supermarket I overestimated the amount of tofu I could physically consume and found large quantities of the food stuff languishing in my fridge. After exhausting my usual repertoire of marinated tofu and noodle soups I started trawling the wonderful world of Google to find an alternative use for the soy based substance. And this is when I stumbled across an eggless omelette! So I gave it a go and although it took longer to cook as a normal eggy omelette and the result was probably more similar to a pancake than an actual omelette it tasted pretty good and helped me get through my tofu mountain!


170g silken tofu
30g corn flour
1 tsp marmite
1 tsp English mustard
1 tblsp soya milk
Salt, pepper and paprika to taste

Makes 2 omelettes

Add the tofu, corn flour, marmite and mustard to a food processor and whizz to produce a smooth batter.

Pour the batter out into a bowl and season to taste.

The batter should be the consistency of a thick pancake batter but if at this stage it is a little thick add the milk to thin it out a little.

Place a large frying pan over a high heat, add a tablespoon of vegetable oil and allow to heat until very hot.

Pour half of the batter into the frying pan and spread out with a spatula. Leave the mixture for approximately 5 minutes until it begins to firm up.

Use a spatula to loosen the edge of the ‘omelette’ and then flip it out onto a plate and return to the pan to cook the opposite side. Again leave for about 5 minutes to allow the second side to cook. The exact time to cook may vary depending on how thick your batter is but it is quite obvious once the mixture becomes firm.

If you want to stuff your omelette cook up the filling prior to cooking the omelette (I fried tomatoes, mushrooms and spinach together) then top the ‘omelette’ in the pan with the filling and carefully fold the omelette in half over the filling (be careful the ‘omelette’ is quite delicate).

Then transfer to a plate and enjoy.

Wednesday, 12 September 2012

Dairy Free Banana and Cinnamon Cupcakes

A little while ago as I was exploring the wondrous aisles of a local Chinese supermarket when I spotted a little bottle of coconut oil (of the culinary variety as opposed to the oil used for hair slicking purposes!) I had seen coconut oil used as an ingredient in numerous recipes on line, providing an alternative to butter for dairy free recipes, so popped the little bottle into my basket and later stashed it in my cupboard for future use. And there it sat in my cupboard until last week when I noticed that there were a couple of rather sad and squishy looking bananas in the fruit bowl. Brown bananas automatically means banana bread or cake in my mind and I decided it was time to crack open the coconut oil too. So I combined the two to create mini banana and cinnamon cupcakes with a dairy free icing recipe to top off these perfect little bite-size morsels.

Makes 20 mini cupcakes


75g plain flour
50g brown sugar
½ teaspoon baking powder
½ teaspoon bicarbonate of soda
1 teaspoon cinnamon
60ml coconut oil
170g mashed ripe banana (approx. 2 large bananas)
1 egg

Preheat the oven to 180 deg C / 350 deg F

Line a mini cupcake tin with mini cupcake cases (or use normal sized cupcakes but be aware this will make fewer cakes!)

Put the flour, sugar, baking powder and soda and cinnamon into a large mixing bowl and stir until well combined.

In a separate bowl mix the remaining wet ingredients together until combined.

My coconut oil was a solid mass within the bottle so to be able to get the oil out of the bottle I placed the bottle in a large glass measuring jug and poured boiling water into the jug. I then left this for a few minutes before carefully removing the bottle. The oil inside had now melted down so could be poured out of the bottle.

Now add the wet ingredients to the dry and mix again until a smooth mixture is produced. Spoon the mixture evenly between the cupcake cases.

Place the cakes in the oven and bake for 25-30 minutes until golden in colour and springy to the touch.

Allow to cool a little in the cupcake tin before removing from the tin and allowing to cool completely on a cooling rack.


100g icing sugar
50ml of coconut oil
1 tablespoon honey
¼ teaspoon cinnamon

Mix all of the ingredients together in a bowl and stir together until a smooth icing is produced.

If a little thick add a couple of drops of water to loosen up the mixture (be aware that the mixture will firm up a bit as the melted coconut oil solidifies).

Spread the mixture onto the top of each cooled cupcake and then tuck in!

Sunday, 9 September 2012

Barley Risotto

A few months ago (I am a bit slow at keeping the blog updated at times!) I headed south of the border to Galway. I had never ventured to this part of the Emerald Isle before and had a wonderful time exploring the city, meandering along its colourful streets and generally enjoying the craic. Whilst searching for a restaurant for dinner one evening the heavens suddenly opened and my friend and I were driven into the closest eating establishment that we came across. Luckily we had stumbled into the delightful Ard Bia, a warm, cosy and quirky little place, that prides itself on using the best local produce and finest Irish ingredients in its food. I chose a fish dish that was accompanied by a barley risotto, where the traditional rice is replaced by pearl barley. This wasn’t something I had ever tried before but I was pleasantly surprised by its smooth and creamy texture, providing just a little more bite than a regular risotto.

After visiting Galway I continued further south to The Burren, a stunning area of Ireland famous for its impressive karst landscape, where I was fortunate enough to be staying just up the road from the BurrenSmokehouse. As a self-confessed foodie I was like a kid in a sweet shop as I wandered into the smokehouse’s shop and found myself filling my bags with beautifully smoked meats and fish to bring back to the north!

Returning from my travels with bags stuffed full of smoked mackerel and memories of my delightful meal at Ard Bia I decided to have a go at a rice free risotto myself using my recent purchase as one of the main ingredients…so here is the result.


½ onion, finely chopped
1 bay leaf
100g mushrooms, sliced
150g pearl barley
½ litre warm vegetable stock
50ml white wine
2 smoked mackerel fillets
100g peas
Handful fresh parsley

Serves 2

Place a large saucepan or wok over a medium heat, add a good glug of olive oil and then gently sweat the onions along with the bay leaf in the pan until the onions begin to soften.

Add the mushrooms until they begin to colour and then add the barley and stir so that all of the ingredients are mixed well together.

Turn the heat up a little and add the white wine, stirring until the liquid is absorbed.

Add a ladleful of the stock to the mixture and allow to cook gently adding another ladle of stock as the mixture begins to dry a out. Continue cooking the mixture this way for about 30 minutes (the barley takes longer to cook than risotto rice).

After about 30 minutes add the peas to the mixture and flake in the mackerel. Add any remaining stock and continue to cook for another 10 minutes.

Season to taste and just before serving add a large handful of freshly chopped parsley.