Imagine having your own chocolate kitchen.  Or your own chocolate chef!  Apparently King George I had both of these things – one Thomas Tosier ruled over a small but vital room, preparing the King’s chocolate drink every morning, and for special dinners and entertainments.  Tosier’s wife, Grace, was also something of a celebrity (see Grace Elliot’s blog here) and traded on her royal connections to promote her own chocolate house in Greenwich!

The chocolate kitchen is a recent discovery at Hampton Court Palace and has now been opened up and visitors will also be able to see chocolate making sessions in action.  The demonstrations start on 18th April.  I’m thinking these are going to be a must-see!

Ok, so I was late for Yorkshire Pudding Day.  But I’m nice and early for Pancake Day (4th March), since it turns out that the recipe for gluten free Yorkshires (below), is even more suitable for perfect pancakes!  Just pour the mixture into a hot, oiled non-stick frying pan and cook on both sides until golden.

pancake

For other great recipes, including ‘how to cook the perfect pancake’, try the Guardian, and for some lovely ideas on what to have with your pancakes, try Jamie Oliver.  Dove’s Farm always have reliable gluten free recipes and their pancake recipe is here.  And if you want vegan and gluten free, then Gluten Free Vegan Girl has several tempting recipes to try.

Happy Pancake Day!

GFYorkshires

Ok, so I missed national Yorkshire Pudding day, but I finally got around to trying a gluten free recipe, and was pretty happy with the result.  I consulted Delia (Delia’s How to Cook Book Three) first of all, as I knew she’d have a few fail-safe tips to offer!  Then I found this recipe on Recipes Without Gluten, which is what I used for my ingredients.  I cooked my puddings in small muffin trays.

The recipe worked well, but in my oven the pudding rose very quickly and I found they improved by flipping them over and cooking the hollow underside for 3 mins.  I also cooked them for only about half the time suggested.  Heat is important though, so make sure the oven is properly hot!

Gluten Free Yorkshire Pudding

200 ml Milk, Semi-Skimmed
2 Eggs, Medium
120 g Flour, Gluten Free (I used plain Dove’s Farm)
Salt & Pepper
Roughly 4 Tbsp Vegetable Oil

Preheat oven to 230C / 450F / Gas Mark 8.  Brush each of the yorkshire pudding trays with oil and put the tray in the oven for the oil to heat up.  The oil should be hot and the oven should be at full temperature.

Sieve the flour and salt and pepper into a large bowl and make a well in the centre. Add the milk and eggs, and whisk, bringing in a little of the flour at a time, until the flour is fully mixed in.

Remove the tray from the oven and shut the oven door to keep in the heat. Distribute the mixture evenly between the trays and get it back in the oven as quickly as possible (1 minute maximum to prevent the oil from cooling)

Bake for 15 minutes approximately or until  the puddings are golden brown and risen nicely.   Flip them over to cook on the underside and return to the oven for another 2 or 3 minutes.

What do you call a dish of a thick gravy stew topped with mashed potato? Cottage Pie or Shepherd’s Pie?  Well my mum always called it cottage pie, no matter what the ingredients, and it is the oldest recorded name for the dish having first appeared in 1791, so I’ll stick with it.  Besides it seems to make more sense for a vegetarian dish, as ‘Shepherd’s Pie’ has now come to mean a filling of mutton or lamb.  I have come across the theory that actually a cottage pie should have sliced potatoes on top to resemble the tiles on a cottage roof, whereas fluffy mashed potato resembles a woolly sheep!  But I always think a mashed topping is the real comfort food and it allows you to mash up other veg like swede, parsnip, or, as here, celeriac in with the potato.  This is a simple dish, easy to rustle up and open to changes depending what you have in.  The celeriac gives the mash a nice fresh flavour.  Serve with a green veg or salad.

cottagepie

Cottage Pie

500g/1 lb potatoes, peeled and chopped
225g/8oz celeriac, peeled and chopped
75g/2½oz butter / vegan margarine
2 or 3 tblsp milk/vegan milk (optional)

1 onion, chopped
2 cloves garlic, chopped
1 stick celery, chopped
1 can chick peas, drained
1 can tomatoes
1 tblsp passata, or tomato puree mixed with a little water
1 tblsp olive oil
1 tsp dried basil or oregano
Salt and freshly ground black pepper to taste

Boil the potatoes and celeriac until soft.  Heat the oven to 190C/375F/Gas 5.

Meanwhile, heat the oil and cook the onion, celery and garlic over a medium heat for around five minutes until soft, but not browned.  Add the chick peas, tomatoes, passata, herbs, salt and pepper.  Stir and cook for around five minutes, then pour into a baking dish.

When the potatoes and celeriac are cooked, add the butter/margarine and the milk if using, then mash until smooth.  Spread the mash over the chick pea mixture in a nice thick layer, then fluff up the top with a fork.  Bake in the oven for around 30 minutes until the peaks of the potato have started to brown.

I’m always looking for simple and tasty salads in January, to chase away the post-Christmas sluggishness and help beat the winter blues.  This dish really fits the bill.  It makes a great side dish or even a lunch with lots of crunchy bread or a jacket potato.

FennelSaladFennel Salad

1 fennel bulb
1 medium carrot, grated
1/4 cucumber
1 tblsp Roast walnut or sesame oil
1 tblsp Cider vinegar
1 tsp mustard seeds
salt and black pepper to taste

Prepare the fennel by removing any tough outer layers and the base.  Then slice as finely as possible.  Also finely slice the cucumber (I removed the skin first, but that’s optional).  Add the grated carrot.

Dress the salad by pouring on the oil, vinegar, salt and pepper, then sprinkle on the mustard seeds to decorate.

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