Monday, 28 March 2011

Delicious Gluten Free Cupcakes!

Spending Sunday at work is never ideal, but when you get to come home to delicious gluten free cupcakes it makes the day a whole lot better! I was a little sceptical when my girlfriend said she was attempting to make gluten free cupcakes and I said she should make some regular ones as back up. I definitely should have had more faith, because they were absolutely amazing...

The recipe is adapted from the Hummingbird Bakery Cookbook to make it gluten free, there's also a sprinkling of edible glitter!

For the cake:

  • 120g Doves farm gluten free plain flour
  • ½ tsp xanthan gum
  • 140g caster sugar
  • 1 ½ tsp baking powder
  • a pinch of salt
  • 40g unsalted butter, at room temperature
  • 120ml whole milk
  • 1 egg
  • ¼tsp vanilla extract
  • 1 quantity vanilla frosting
  • hundreds and thousands or other edible sprinkles, to decorate
  • a 12-hole cupcake tray, lined with paper cases
For the vanilla frosting:
  • 250g icing sugar, sifted
  • 80g unsalted butter, at room temperature
  • 25ml whole milk
  • a couple of drops of vanilla extract

For the cake:

  1. Preheat the oven to 170°C
  2. Put the flour, sugar, baking powder, xanthan gum, salt and butter in a freestanding electric mixer (my girlfriend's got a kitchen aid which is awesome!) with a paddle attachment and beat on slow speed until you get a sandy consistency and everything is combined. Gradually pour in half the milk and beat until the milk is just incorporated.
  3. Whisk the egg, vanilla extract and remaining milk together in a separate bowl for a few seconds, then pour into the flour mixture and continue beating until just incorporated. Continue mixing for a couple more minutes until the mixture is smooth, careful not overmix.
  4. Spoon the mixture into the paper cases until half full and bake in the preheated oven for 20–25 minutes, or until light golden and the sponge bounces back when touched. A skewer inserted in the centre should come out clean.
  5. Leave the cupcakes to cool slightly in the tray before turning out onto a wire cooling rack to cool completely.
  6. When the cupcakes are cold, spoon the vanilla frosting on top and decorate with hundreds and thousands.
For the vanilla frosting:
  1. Beat the icing sugar and butter together in a freestanding electric mixer with a paddle attachment on medium-slow speed until the mixture comes together and is well mixed.
  2. Turn the mixer down to slow speed. Combine the milk and vanilla extract in a separate bowl, then add to the butter mixture a couple of tablespoons at a time. Once all the milk is incorporated, turn the mixer up to high speed.
  3. Continue beating until the frosting is light and fluffy, at least 5 minutes. The longer the frosting is beaten, the fluffier and lighter it becomes.
Published by Ryland Peters & Small
Text © Tarek Malouf and The Hummingbird Bakers
Photography copyright Ryland Peters & Small

Monday, 21 March 2011

Jamie Oliver's Chicken Satay in under 30 minutes?!

Chicken Skewers, Amazing Satay Sauce, Fiery Noodle Salad and Fruit & Mint Sugar... in under 30 minutes? Definitely not. It's well documented from blogs to watchdog that Jamie Oliver's 30 minute meals are impossible. I attempted the skewers, satay and salad the first time and I was well into hour 2 and that doesn't include the time to clear up the collateral damage caused during the process. Jamie's approach of chop everything using a blender may be quick, but when you take into account assembling the blender and cleaning the blender, a simple knife and chopping board becomes a much more attractive proposition.

Having said all that, I went back to Jamie's Chicken Satay recipe tonight because all the 30 minute recipes I've tried so far taste fantastic. I'll copy the bits of the recipe I used tonight below, we served it with egg fried rice and a little gem lettuce salad which were perfect accompaniments. The satay is the best I've ever tasted, packed with a freshness that you'll only get if you make your own. Cleaning the blender in this case is definitely worth it!

Chicken Satay (Serves 4)

Put half a small bunch of fresh coriander, 1 fresh red chilli (de-seeded), half a clove of garlic, 3 tablespoons of crunchy peanut butter, a lug of soy sauce (tamari for those who are gluten free), a 2cm piece of peeled fresh ginger and the zest of 2 limes and the juice of 1 into a blender. Blend until you've got yourself a paste. Taste it and see what you think, if you want more of a particular flavour, just add to taste. With the chicken, Jamie has some complicated way of skewering it... I found it easiest to chop the chicken breasts (4) into chunks and then place on a baking tray and smother over the satay sauce. Put into an oven preheated to 180 (fan). I cooked for around 12 minutes but its worth slicing through the biggest piece to check they're cooked.

Salad Garnish

The chicken is perfect with the salad garnish from Jamie's book. This is as simple as peeling and washing some little gem lettuce leaves and then sprinkle over some fresh lime juice, soy sauce and coriander. These cut through the bold flavours in the chicken satay and give the dish a real freshness.

Egg Fried Rice

The fiery noodles in the book are excellent but tonight we went for some simple egg fried rice. Cook some long grain rice according to the packet instructions. When the rice is cooked, heat a large frying pan over a high heat with some ground nut oil (or whatever oil you prefer). Whisk 2 eggs with some seasoning and add to the pan and stir quickly. As they start to scramble, add the rice, some sliced spring onion and a few dashes of soy sauce and fry for a couple of minutes. Very tasty, very simple.

Monday, 14 March 2011

Midsummer House, Cambridge

I've always been slightly sceptical about Michelin stars. The whole process is shrouded with mystery and can seem more focussed on pretence than food. This was my second experience of Michelin starred cuisine and my first trip to a two starred restaurant. The first had been to Maze by Gordon Ramsay which was spectacular food in a fairly, informal, trendy London setting. The setting of Midsummer House in Cambridge, where my girlfriend and I decided to celebrate our anniversary, couldn't have been more different, but the food was equally extraordinary.

Midsummer House is a small cottage on the edge of Midsummer Common, situated on the river Cam in Cambridge. We were seated in a large conservatory area with pristine white table cloths and beautifully set tables. It felt very formal but the staff were friendly, especially when I mentioned that I was gluten free. Although, I was fairly certain that some of their staff were putting on their French accents!

We began with an amuse bouche of Parsnip and Cumin Veloute with Honey Jelly which was full of flavour. It was light but really got the taste buds going, perfect as an amuse bouche. We both then had the Beetroot Salad with Corned Beef and Horseradish Ice Cream. The Horseradish Ice Cream absolutely stole the show, I've never tasted anything so extraordinary and it worked incredibly well with the rest of the dish. The beetroot was finely sliced with two different textures of corned beef, all presented beautifully. I then opted for the Daube of Beef with Pommes Puree, Mushrooms and Onions with a Red Wine Sauce. The beef was melt in the mouth tender and all the accompaniments packed with flavour and each cooked to perfection. I loved the little extras like the crispy pancetta and onion rings My girlfriend had Poached Pollack, Puy Lentils, Root Vegetables and Braised Celery. It was served with confit lemon which she said made the dish; attention to detail that seems to make a Michelin starred experience really stand out. We both then went for the Warm Cherries with Pistachio and Chocolate sorbet but both dishes looked very different as they had kindly modified mine to ensure it was gluten free. Both were simply stunning and once again the presentation was fantastic.

We had to have a tea and coffee because we couldn't resist the opportunity to choose home made chocolates from the large chest they rolled to the table. I picked a truffle chocolate that was actually made with real white truffle! These were also served with a type of Spanish Churros with salted caramel sauce and vanilla custard, and they gave me some marshmallows to ensure I had a gluten free option!

Whether you believe in the Michelin rating system or not it doesn't really matter, what you get when you come to Midsummer House is simply stunning food in a beautiful setting.

Thursday, 3 March 2011

Amazing Ribs!

One of my favourite foods has to be ribs, and when they're done well, they are truly awesome! I've been to the home of great ribs, America, a couple of times and had some incredibly tasty, BBQ ribs. There's a show on Good Food which has a bit of a cult following, Man vs Food. We were lucky enough to visit a place called Papy's Smokehouse in St Louis Missouri, which featured on the show. It was an hour and a half wait in the Missouri midday sun but it was worth it, some great BBQ smoked ribs. Jamie Oliver's Barbecoa also did some of the best ribs I've ever tasted, equally as smoky but with a punch of heat as well.

Food at Papy's Smokehouse - seriously worth the wait!
But if you want to cook some truly great ribs at home, which my girlfriend did last night, then this is a great recipe from Delicious Magazine - Sticky Spare Ribs. We don't have a pressure cooker, so did them in the oven and got some truly great results. Unfortunately they were gone too quick for me to even take a photo, so you'll just have to trust me on this one!

We served them with Jamie Oliver's Fiery Dan Dan Noddle recipe. I've made this before and it's a great recipe with bags of flavour. We obviously made it without the crispy beef as we had the ribs instead and they worked great together. For any gluten free readers, we substituted the wheat noodles for rice noodles; just make sure you adjust the cooking time. Enjoy!