Guidance on Providing Gluten Free food for Christmas Parties
Gluten free buffets can be difficult if one is unprepared
Here are some guidelines written by Sallie Darnell, professional cook
- When invited to a party make clear your dietary requirements. Often a phone call to your chosen venue can save an embarrassing experience.
- If you are in doubt about any food do not eat it
- Another good suggestion is to eat prior to going out so if there turns out to be nothing suitable for you won’t be too hungry
- Restaurants these days are quite happy to give you a list of ingredients used in their kitchens. From this you should be able to ascertain which ingredients are not suitable for you ie hidden starches in sauces or soups, wheat in soy sauce etc
When entertaining yourself life can be a little easier as you have more control over the food. Here are some ideas for quick nibbles: both home-made and commercially prepared
Plain nuts, olives, a bowl of large prawns , sushi
Dips – ready made humus, salsa, tahini – but check labels served with crudities (carrots, celery, cucumber, cauliflower) crisps or tortillas
Home-made: Tzaziki – yoghurt with mint and cucumber and garlic
Smoked mackerel dip – made by blending together 100g smoked mackerel, 150g thick yoghurt, 2 tabsp lemon juice, 1tsp lemon rind, salt and pepper
Sliced polenta topped with stilton cheese and sliced cherry tomatoes – flashed under the grill just before serving
Chicken fillets tossed in rice flour, then beaten egg, coated in dry polenta and deep fried. Serve with a lemon and caper flavoured yoghurt
Smoked salmon wrapped round mini sweet corn
Mini wheatfree pancakes/blinis with various toppings eg smoked salmon and dill sauce, beetroot and horseradish sauce (check label)
Celery stuffed with tartex pate or smoked mackerel pate
Courgettes stuffed with ratatouille or chilli
Mini potato rosti with lemon and chive cream
Croutes of gluten free bread fried and topped with rare roast beef and gluten free pesto, quails egg, halloumi and apple, feta cheese and black olives
Sadly Sally is no longer with us, but her recipes live on. Thanks Sally, we love your delicious meals.
Seduced by Reduced! Making a Bargain into a Real Treat
How often have you been seduced by the REDUCED label in a supermarket – say ten or more onions, or like today, twenty limes – in your supermarket and find it irresistible and confidently expecting to make something of it? But it gets put to one side, gradually to the back of the fridge, forgotten and then discarded, optimism lost in the chasm of inertia! Well it has happened to me of course. The good news is that it happens less often now. Why? I can explore the web for ideas of what can be done with whatever I have bought.
Today I have twenty limes – these are going to be either made into lime curd (my mouth is watering at the prospect!) which takes very little time, or lime chutney – here’s a Google page with lots of recipe sites to choose from.
I collect jars to re-use and buy new tops from Lakeland. Jam and curd take time but very rewarding and make good standby gifts for many occasions.
A recent cookery course I attended included truffles – three different flavours, one including lime zest* which gives me the excuse to make some. They are so luscious I’m not sure they will get to their intended recipients … we just love ‘em! We rolled the truffles in a mix of plain and toasted coconut.
Here’s a recipe I found on the web which is similar to the one I used on the course.
Celeriac, not as often used by home cooks here as they do say in France, is frequently reduced in my local supermarket and it gives me the opportunity to produce Salmon with mustard coating, potato, pea and celeriac mash found on the BBC Good Food website. Again a recipe that works very well.
It’s this time of year when I look out for peaches and nectarines getting lower and lower in price and especially in the Reduced section. Then I usually reach for Elizabeth David’s cook book – At Elizabeth David’s Table – for her easy recipe Peaches in Wine. She tells us the best peaches for this dish are the yellow-fleshed variety. Dip the fruit in boiling water so the skins can be easily peeled off. Slice them straight into big wine glasses, sprinkle with sugar and pour a tablespoon or two of white wine into each glass. Preparing them too far ahead will make the fruit go mushy. If you would like to give the glasses an attractive look, before you start working on the fruit, put a little water in a saucer, put sugar in another saucer, holding the glass upside down gently dip the glass in the water, shake it to remove any excess water, dip the glass in the saucer of sugar, shake off any excess. Voila! You can now add the fruit and wine, carefully! This works with lots of different fruits and you could experiment with flavoured liqueurs – Cointreau and oranges, raspberries and pear vodka! Pears and raspberry liqueur, the list could go on … and on. Just experiment, great fun.
By the way, my favourite prune sweet is to use prunes soaked in white wine – could be red – for at least 3 months. I use screwtop jars, covered with cling film and the cap screwed on lightly, no need to tighten hard. This is so easy to do and makes a wonderful treat with custard! or cream or even better fromage frais, unsweetened. I keep them in a cupboard out of sight otherwise they are just too easy to dip into and devour the lot!
* For any recipe using lime zest be sure to remove the wax generally added to citrus fruit, unless marked as unwaxed. The easiest way to do this is to dunk the fruit in boiling water for 5 minutes, twice if needs be.
Katie Simpson Guest writer, Caterer for the Choosey