Bonfire Night Burgers

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Bonfire Night, that smoky, noisy night when the cold air makes you absolutely starving. So what do you feed yourself and the rowdy rabble of a family…

Homemade Burgers that’s what.

500g minced beef (don’t buy the lean stuff it won’t hold together)

2 slices of bread made into bread crumbs

sprig of rosemary

salt

pepper

half a small onion chopped finely

The bread will make breadcrumbs easiest if it’s dry, toasting it is a great way to make it crumbly and a food processor does the crumbing in seconds

Place beef in a bowl with salt, pepper, breadcrumbs and onion.

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Then using scissors cut your rosemary finely, just the leaves not the stem.

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make the mince into patties/burgers with your hands, try to make them as flat as possible so they will cook through evenly. Pour over a little olive oil so they do not stick to the griddle. Cook them on a medium to hot griddle or BBQ, or place on an oiled tray in the oven. They need to be cooked for 15 to 20 minutes or until all the meat is cooked through.

If you fancy jazzing up your burgers you can add some chilli or garlic to the mixture, or maybe a little chipotle paste. 

 

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Garlic and Chilli Pumpkin Soup (Warning…This Soup Bites Back)

Garlic and Chilli Pumpkin Soup

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2 onions

2 sticks celery

2 cloves garlic

1 green finger chilli

1 tsp cumin seeds

1 quarter of a medium sized pumpkin

1.5 litres stock, veg or chicken

In the pestle and mortar grind cumin seeds, garlic and finger chilli to a paste.

Chop onions and celery finely. Remove the pumpkin skin and cut into tiny cubes.

In a pan heat 2 tablespoons of veg oil, sauté onions and celery with the paste from the pestle and mortar, keep stirring until glossy and add the pumpkin.

Cook for a few more minutes and add the stock, bring to a simmer and cover. Leave to cook until the pumpkin is soft. You can then either use a masher to thicken, blend in the food processor or eat as a chunkier soup.

Pumpkin Fairy Cakes

Pumpkin Fairy Cakes

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4 oz non dairy marg

4oz self raising flour

4oz caster sugar

Eighth of a medium Pumpkin roasted, peeled and mashed with a fork

2 large eggs

1tsp vanilla extract

 

Preheat oven to 190°C .

Chop Pumpkin in half scoop out seeds and the stringy bits place on a baking tray and roast for about 20 minutes. Take out and cool. Remove skin before mashing ready for your cake mix.

In a large bowl  cream the marg and sugar until light and fluffy Add the egg and vanilla essence and beat well. Add flour a spoonful at a t time until no flour shows in mixture and add the mashed pumpkin.

Spoon a large dessert spoon of the batter into each paper case. Bake until cake is golden and a toothpick inserted in the centre comes out clean, 15 to 20 mins maximum.

Spiced Butternut Squash (or Pumpkin) Cakes

Spiced Butternut Squash Cakes

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I don’t know about you but we love cake in our house. We don’t eat it often and due to the dairy free nature of Moi we tend not to have shop bought delicacies. The only issues we have is none of us is patient enough to wait for a large cake to cook so inevitably I have adapted a lot of my cake recipes to make smaller fairy cakes.

Spiced Butternut Squash Cakes

4 oz non dairy marg

4oz self raising flour

4oz caster sugar

4oz butter nut squash roasted, peeled and mashed with a fork (about an eighth of a medium pumpkin)

2 large eggs

1tsp vanilla extract

1 tsp. Cinnamon

1 tsp.  grated nutmeg

1/2 tsp.  ground cardamom

1/4 tsp. ground cloves

Preheat oven to 190°C .

Chop Butternut squash in half scoop out seeds and the stringy bits place on a baking tray and roast for about 20 minutes. Take out and cool. Remove skin before mashing ready for your cake mix.

I always grind as many of my spices by hand in the pestle and mortar as I can, it is stress busting, when grinding the cardamom just remember to remove the husks from your powder before mixing into your batter.

In a large bowl  cream the marg and sugar until light and fluffy .

Add the eggs, one at a time,  and add the vanilla.

In a small bowl mix the flour, salt, and spices. Once mixed add the  squash to the flour and spices and mix well then add a spoon full at a time to your sugar, marg, egg combo.  Stir just until completely combined and no flour showing.

Spoon a large dessert spoon of the batter into each paper case. Bake until cake is golden and a toothpick inserted in the centre comes out clean, 20 to 25 mins maximum

Let  them cool if you can bear to wait.

Apples…Well They Ate Them Last Week

So you know that bowl of lovely juicy apples you bought a week ago, that the family could not get enough of 2 weeks ago but have suddenly gone off apples, yep those, the starting to turn yellow and mushy apples in the fruit bowl?

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Before you chuck them away how about a couple of quick ideas how to use them?

Last Sunday I had some very well travelled apples, they were ordered with our shop a week before we went away. They travelled down to Padstow in Cornwall, 300 miles and then travelled all the way back. I was determined after all the effort of carting them to the other end of the country and back I was not going to bin them!

Now if you are lucky enough to have an apple tree in your garden you may have had a few windfalls left after our unseasonably warm September and October, this is a great way to use them,

Option 1

Apple Sauce for your Sunday Roast

Peel, core and chop your apples, to be honest a couple of apples will make loads of this so you can always pop some in the freezer for next time you want to impress your Mother-in-Law.

Put in a small saucepan with just enough water covering them, if you have a sweet tooth or are using cooking apples add some sugar, but no more than a couple of teaspoon fulls.

Bring to a simmer and cook until the apples are soft. Use a slatted spoon to remove from pan, and mash with a fork. Volia apple sauce.

Option 2

Aromatic Apple Crumble

4-5 apples

2 tsp cumin seeds

2 cardamom pods,

1 tsp ground ginger,

1 tsp  cinnamon

2 whole cloves

3oz non-dairy marg

2oz caster sugar

5 oz flour

 

Again peel, core and chop your apples maybe 4 or 5 for a family of three.

Put in a small saucepan with just enough water covering them, if you have a sweet tooth or are using cooking apples add some sugar, but no more than a couple of teaspoon fulls.

Bring to a simmer and cook until the apples are soft. Use a slatted spoon to remove from pan, and mash with a fork.

Whilst the apples are simmering in a pestle and mortar add2 teaspoons of cumin seeds, 2 cardamom pods, 1 teaspoon of ground ginger, 1 teaspoon of  cinnamon and 2 to  whole cloves, blend until a fine powder, removing the cardamom husks.

In a mixing bowl put non-dairy marg, caster sugar and flour rub between your fingers until it resembles fine breadcrumbs.

Mix half of the spice into the apples, half of the spice unto the crumble top.

Place apples in heatproof dish, sprinkle crumble mix on top and bake in the oven for 15 minutes at 180 C

As you can see ours never last long enough for a photo!!

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Padstow, Cornwall…A Food and Doggy Lovers Heaven

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I have to say I have been amazed by Cornwall. Almost every shop, pub and restaurant is dog friendly. Most menus have a vegetarian, gluten free or dairy free option, not extensive choices but choices none the less.

Our first night we decided on typical pub grub, I opted for a burger but requested no dairy and the barman went to great lengths to check out what else I should not eat. I was a little disappointed though that I could not have the coleslaw and no alternative was offered.

Well it’s not called Rick Steins Padstow for nothing. Every street you turn down in this tiny village has a shop, a deli, a restaurant, a takeaway or even a statue to his beloved Chalky.

So far we have sampled the Rick Stein Fish and chip shop and the Rick Stein Pub, a little way out of Padstow where we had a very nice Sunday lunch.

The pub. The Cornish Arms, is a short drive out of Padstow and in a very lovely country setting. All the tables had benches, not usually my thing, I find that they are either or too high or too low to be comfortable and you end up hunched over your food. We had to book to get a table and saw lots of people in a holding bar waiting for a table to become free.

The good thing was we did not have to wait long for our food, we all said how nice it was to order Sunday lunch and not have to wait forever for it to be bought to the table, surely Sunday lunch is one of those meals you get ready and keep warm until it is served. I was the only one out of our table of 6 not to have the beef I always feel hard done by when I can’t have the Yorkshire pudding, and these were huge, I’ve seen smaller newborns heads.  I opted for pork which came with crackling and gorgeous apple sauce. The veg was extensive including kale, sampire, broccoli, and the dreaded cauliflower cheese, luckily I manage to avoid this which although on the same plate left plenty of other uncontaminated veg, I did take the precaution of an antihistamine afterwards to ensure I was not ill though as cheese fats do tend to stray.

Midweek we travelled to Boscastle so we could look at the Witchcraft Museum. Once again we found a doggy friendly cafe called Sails. They have gluten free and dairy free options on the menu and the owner was really friendly. It was a very welcome break from a wet and windy October day with tea and baked spuds for most of us, oh and a doggy treat for our friends dog Pepper.

When it was suggested we went for fish and chips my heart sank, I never like the batter as I am always unsure what is in it and I find if I do eat it I end up bloated and uncomfortable. However The Rick Stein Fish and Chip shop gave a choice of fried or grilled fish. I had the lemon sole and it was delicious and perfectly cooked.  It was expensive for takeaway fish and chips at over £9 for my meal but well worth it as a treat.

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We travelled on the ferry a short 8 minute trip across the bay to a place called Rock. Our choice for a snack was a lovely cafe called the Blue Tomato. Once again they had benches and as you can see from the picture 5 ft 3 me had trouble reaching the floor.

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They had cream teas on offer and they even had a doggy menu. We had a snack of olives, oil and bread. Unfortunately the olives came mixed with feta so I wasn’t able to have any but the bread was seedy and herby and perfect with the olive and rapeseed oil with balsamic.  My drink was called pink lemonade it was apple juice, lemon juice, fresh raspberries and lemongrass, really refreshing.

Our night before last we are ate in the London Inn. This looks like a real spit and sawdust pub, but it is warm and welcoming, the staff are really friendly and they have a lovely seafood menu. As you can see from the picture the seafood platter for two was enormous.

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Our last night in Padstow we ate at Rick Steins Seafood Restaurant. I wasn’t sure what to expect. I have seen Rick Stein on the telly, most recently in India, and he seems friendly and chatty if a little shy. There were some amazing offerings on the menu and hubby and I chose to share a starter of line caught squid with chilli and lime.  It had a good bite to it and was delicious. For my main course I thought I’d test the Fish Madras, this came with naan bread, which I couldn’t eat, rice, and dhal. It was a very substantial meal and I can truly say I now understand what all the fuss is about, it was more than delicious and I will be raving about it for years to come.

If you get the chance I would definitely book a table and go, you do need to  book and you do need to make sure you have an expanding wallet and waistband.

All in all I found Cornwall and particularly Padstow a foodie heaven. It is family and dog orientated and  you really are spoilt for choice with amazing cafes, restaurants and takeaways.

So What Should You Avoid…A Positive Spin

So I’ve talked about what I can eat because knowing what you can eat is half the battle. But I suppose if you have a newly acquired or diagnosed allergy or you just want to drop dairy from your diet you may find a list of what to avoid helpful. ..the list seems long but believe me there is more you can eat than can’t.

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So what should you be looking for on labels of prepared foods? By prepared I do not just mean ready meals but something as simple as a sausage or a sandwich.

To be honest the list is extensive and I am sure to have missed some here but this will give you a good starting point if you are avoiding dairy.

You will be amazed at the foods that you think are safe but when you dig a little deeper into the ingredients list they are definitely to be avoided.

Butter

Butter Oil

Butter Milk

Vegetable Fat

Margarine

Casein

Caseinates

Hydrolysed Casein

Evaporated Milk

Condensed Milk

Cheese

Dried Milk

Cream Curd

Ghee

Lactoglobulin

Lactose

Milk Solids

Whey

Hydrolysed Whey

Whey Syrup Sweetener

Yoghurt

Lactoalbumin

Hydrolysed whey protein

Whey protein

Hydrolysed caseinate

Sodium caseinate

Calcium caseinate

Milk sugar

Butter [artificial butter, artificial butter flavour, butter, butter extract, butter fat, butter flavoured oil, butter solids, dairy butter, natural butter, natural butter flavour, whipped butter]

Casein & caseinates [ammonium caseinate, calcium caseinate, magnesium caseinate, potassium caseinate, sodium caseinate, hydrolyzed casein, iron caseinate, zinc caseinate]

Cheese [cheese (all types), cheese flavour (artificial and natural), cheese food, cottage cheese, cream cheese, imitation cheese, vegetarian cheeses with casein]

Cream, whipped cream
Curds
Custard
Dairy product solids
Galactose
Ghee
Half & Half

Hydrolysates [casein hydrolysate, milk protein hydrolysate, protein hydrolysate, whey hydrolysate, whey protein hydrolysate]

Ice cream, ice milk, sherbet
Lactalbumin, lactalbumin phosphate
Lactate solids
Lactyc yeast
Lactitol monohydrate
Lactoglobulin
Lactose
Lactulose

Milk [acidophilus milk, buttermilk, buttermilk blend, buttermilk solids, cultured milk, condensed milk, dried milk, dry milk solids (DMS), evaporated milk, fat‐free milk, fully cream milk powder, goat’s milk, Lactaid® milk, lactose-free milk, low‐fat milk, malted milk, milk derivative, milk powder, milk protein, milk solids, milk solid pastes, non‐fat dry milk, non‐fat milk, non‐fat milk solids, pasteurized milk, powdered milk, sheep’s milk, skim milk, skim milk powder, sour milk, sour milk solids, sweet cream buttermilk powder, sweetened condensed milk, sweetened condensed skim milk, whole milk, 1% milk, 2% milk]

Milk fat, anhydrous milk fat
Nisin preparation
Nougat
Pudding
Quark
Recaldent
Rennet, rennet casein
Simplesse (fat replacer)
Sour cream, sour cream solids, imitation sour cream

Whey  [acid whey, cured whey, delactosed whey, demineralised whey, hydrolyzed whey, powdered whey, reduced mineral whey, sweet dairy whey, whey, whey protein, whey protein concentrate, whey powder, whey solids]

Yogurt (regular or frozen), yogurt powder

May Contain Milk:

Natural flavouring
Flavouring
Caramel flavouring
High protein flour
Lactic acid (usually not a problem)
Lactic acid starter culture
“Non-dairy” products may contain casein
Rice cheese
Soy cheese

Avoid any substance beginning with “Lac” or “Lacto” as apparently the chances are that it contains milk.

The thing to remember is there are far more foods you can eat. Initially you will find that you are having to forgo the ready made stuff, but this actually means that your health in the long run will improve because you will choose the fresh, additive free stuff. After a while you will even find that you can tell what is in something by the taste or texture.

So start looking for healthy allergy free stuff and enjoy learning about what alternatives are out there.

So What DO You Eat? Part Two

The idea for my blog and soon to be blossoming catering business is due to an allergy I developed after the birth of my first child.

If your experience has been like mine the general conversation with people about food goes like this…

THEM: “Would you like to come to dinner?”

ME: “That would be lovely”

THEM: “Is there anything you don’t eat or like?”

ME: “I’m allergic to dairy but otherwise I eat pretty much anything”

THEM: “Does that mean you don’t eat eggs?”

ME: “Do eggs come from cows?”

THEM: “No”

ME: “ As long as it isn’t cheese, milk, butter, yogurt or cream I can usually eat it but if its pre-packaged you may need to check the label”

THEM: “So what DO you eat then?”

ME:sigh

As you can imagine we don’t get invited to dinner at someone’s house very often anymore, we tend to eat out either at trusted restaurants or with me having had an antihistamine before hand,  just to ensure nothing has been accidentally added to my food, like the swirl of cream or yogurt on a soup or the shavings of Parmesan, “well can’t you just pick them out”…ERR NO!!

Recipe books are also a bit of a minefield, I have found in recent years that my best option is a vegan cookbook or one leaning towards veg. However I still tend to find in the veg ones that 90% of the recipes have butter, cheese or cream in them.  I would have become vegan years ago but I live with 2 carnivores and cooking 2 separate meals although fun some nights can get to be a chore when you are trying to tweak a family meal.

So over the years I have learned to adapt. I scan read recipes in magazines and decide on the ones I can adapt, I skip the starter and dessert menu in most restaurants as 99% of the time I can have nothing listed, and the few restaurants that offer me a dessert it will, let me assure you, turn out to be a fruit salad. Luckily for me my husband isn’t a sweet toothed person so he doesn’t mind missing out on dessert to keep me company.

Know logically I know it isn’t just me that can’t eat dairy, I know that there are other people out there who also scan recipes and menus with sinking hearts and rumbling bellies. And having spoken to a few people I have discovered that unlike many people I actually enjoy adapting and cooking meals from scratch. I do not like pre-packaged “convenience” food but I know some people rely on them just to ensure they get a meal that does not make them ill. So Mrs Gracey Dairy Free was born.

Not only am I happy to adapt the recipes for you and create lovely e-recipe-books just for you, but I am going to offer a unique service of dinner which has been home-cooked delivered to your door. None of that high fat, sugar, dairy, mass produced stuff that other people deliver to you, this is freshly prepared, home-cooked guaranteed non-dairy and ready at your door when you get home, what could be better than that?

So tell me if you could have a non-dairy meal delivered to your desk at work or your home what would you choose?

My Husbands Favourite – Leek and Potato Soup

So if you ask my husband what soup he loves the most with no hesitation he says “Leek and Potato”. He associates it with family get togethers and particularly Christmas and I have found it is a sure fire way to ensure a smile from him after he has had a long day at work. Plus there is always some left over for lunch the next day.

Leek and Potato Soup

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2 -3 medium leeks

3-4 medium potatotes

2 onions

1 ½ pint veg stock or chicken stock

2-3 oz non-dairy marg

 

Chop all the veg. Make the onions small like for a pasta sauce, cube the potatoes and slice the leeks finely.

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Melt non-dairy marg in a saucepan and sauté the veg until you get that gorgeous leeky/oniony aroma. Whilst the veg is sauting add freshly ground black pepper and some salt. I use a salt with seaweed and herbs for a bit of variety. Keep stirring and tossing the veg so it does not stick to the bottom of the pan.

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Add stock,  and stir thoroughly, leave to simmer. When the potatoes feel soft, like they would feel for mash, you can either use a potato masher and thicken or blend in the food processor.

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Hey Baby It’s Chilly Out There….Homemade Tomato Soup

When it’s starting to get chilly outside but not quite stodgy fill up food time I always find that homemade soup gives me warmth and comfort without making me feel tired and sluggish.

There is a little bit of preparation that needs to be done with this recipe but it is soooo worth it and you can make up batches to freeze great for easy warming cups on Bonfire Night or Halloween or even, like I did last year, for a family Christmas get together.

Homemade Tomato Soup

3lbs ripe tomatoes peeled and chopped, read about how to peel tomatoes easily here

1 large onion chopped finely

1 clove garlic crushed

1 large potato peeled and grated

500ml- 725 ml of veg stock, you can use chicken stock if you are not veggie

1 tbsp tomato puree

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Sweat the onions in a little olive oil until soft and glossy

Add the chopped tomatoes, tomato puree, crushed garlic, salt and pepper. If you want to spice it up add 2 dried crushed chillies at this stage. And stir well.

Pour over the stock and allow to simmer for about 40 minutes.

Grate the potato ( get a child or your other half to help with the cooking and do the grating with a food processor) and stir into the soup, simmer for another 15 minutes.

Give it a short blast in the blender and it’s ready to serve. If making a large batch blend in batches and reheat as needed.