Wednesday, 28 August 2013

Pushover Wheat-Free Cranberry & Coconut Biscuits

They are what it says in the title!

With my long history of sporadic reaction to wheat, I know that if I go too far then my system will complain. Many years ago, self-diagnosed after 6m of medical tests, I then went totally wheat-free for a couple of years and was immediately well. Now I'm able to get away with most things in moderation.

Must have been too devil-may-care recently, as the intolerance is back and so, therefore, are the wheat-free ingredients. My first version of this recipe was with spelt flour - I think spelt is an early ancestor of modern wheat - and it caused problems. This is the adaptation using Asda's 'free from' plain white flour, and it worked very well. It is made from rice flour and potato starch. However, I would expect the recipe to work with straight plain wheat flour too.

The recipe makes about 20 biscuits. I've called it pushover because it's quite quick and involves no 'rubbing in' or 'rolling out and cutting'. Preparation should take 20-25 minutes, and baking 12 minutes or so. Cook on a baking sheet, either a good non-stick one or lined with baking parchment.

Wheat-Free Cranberry & Coconut Biscuits
The oven should be ready at 170C.


130g demerara sugar
80g melted butter (20 secs in microwave, or in a pan)
270g wheat-free flour (plus a little for shaping later)
2 tsp baking powder (should be wheat-free - usually are)
Half tsp salt
1 egg
2 tsp vanilla extract
2 tbsp milk
25g dried cranberries, snipped if larger than a pea
50g desiccated coconut


1  Place the sugar and melted butter in a large bowl and beat well - either with a wooden
       spoon or using an electric mixer.
2  In another bowl thoroughly mix the flour, baking powder and salt.
3  Beat the egg, vanilla and milk into the sugar/butter mixture.
4  Add in the flour mix with the cranberries and coconut and mix gently to form a soft
       dough. Make sure the cranberries are evenly distributed.
5  Using hands, roll pieces of the dough into spheres about the size of a ping-pong ball
       and place them on the baking sheet with gaps between of about 4cm as they'll 
       spread a little. Flour your hands from to time if the dough is sticking. Flatten the 
       biscuits a little with the back of a fork, leaving tine marks.
6  Bake in the centre of the oven for about 12-13 minutes but check after 10. The edges
       should be turning golden and the tops starting to firm up.

Chocolate chips - white or dark - would work well here (if they're wheat-free), perhaps with cranberries but not maybe with the coconut. Lemon would be worth a try, too: perhaps omit the milk, berries and coconut and add the grated zest of 1 large lemon and all of its juice at stage 3. That would make slightly fewer but very interesting biscuits!

Sunday, 18 August 2013

Spicy Courgette Chutney

Each year I suggest that a couple of courgette plants might be enough, but currently we have about 10. Result: courgette fritters, longboats, gratin, dressed ribbons, buttered, cake and now ... chutney. (Can't hack ratatouille, sadly. Yucky slop.)

This recipe uses a kilo of courgettes, which is 'several', and makes around 850g, or roughly three standard jam jars full. I have adapted a recipe by Pam the Jam at River Cottage. Mine takes 2 hours for the courgettes to salt, then another hour and a half - though most of that is the simmering of the chutney which gives the near environment an appetising, spicy feel.

Any one of the seeds and spices could be omitted, though they go together very nicely.

Shortly before the chutney is ready, the clean jam jars should be placed in a fairly low oven (100C) for a few minutes to sterilise them. Not that the vinegar wouldn't do a great job on its own.

Spicy Courgette Chutney
1 kg courgettes, wiped, ends trimmed, chopped into 2cm lengths then halved across
2 tbsp salt
2 medium onions, white or red, peeled and coarsely chopped
6 garlic cloves, peeled and roughly chopped
2 red chillies, finely snipped (keep the seeds in if you like things hot)
40g piece of fresh ginger, peeled and chopped
75ml of oil - olive, veg or rapeseed
2 tbsp black mustard seeds
1 tbsp coriander seeds
2 tbsp ground cumin
1 tbsp turmeric
200ml cider (or wine) vinegar
175g demerara sugar

1  Put the courgette pieces in a colander in the sink and sprinkle with the salt. Leave them
       about 2 hours to drip, then rinse and pat dry.
2  Blitz the onions, garlic, chilli and ginger together to a coarse paste or a very fine chop.
3  Heat the oil in a large pan, then add the mustard and coriander seeds and fry gently for
       5 mins, stirring often.
4  Add the onion paste, cumin and turmeric to the pan and fry for a further 5 mins, again 
       stirring often.
5  Add the vinegar, sugar and courgettes and mix well. Simmer on a low heat for 60-75
       mins until the courgettes are softened, most of the liquid has evaporated, and the
       mixture is starting to get sticky. This needs stirring from time to time.
6  Spoon into the hot jars, pressing down as you go to remove air. Seal and store,
       preferably in the dark.

I'm loving this with vegeburgers, vegesausages and savoury rice, and as part of a ploughman's. Here's my latest ploughman's with home-made wheat-free bread and Cashel Blue cheese. The chutney uses our own courgettes, onions, garlic and chillies, and the tomato is from the garden, too. Earth goddess.

It does take a while, but this is the way more of our courgettes will be heading shortly. I might even try putting in a few of the beastly cucamelons next time - got to do something useful with them!