Chicken Pie – trying out guten-free puff pastry

When I was browsing the store for gluten-free things the other day I first time noticed they even have a full ‘Frozen gluten-free food’ section there! Heaven! This was really THE discovery of that day. Taking a closer look the frozen puff pastry automatically caught my eye. I LOVE puff pastry, no matter if sweet or hearty and I’ve really missed it since going gluten-free. So of course I bought a pack even if it was really pricy compared to regular frozen puff pastry. Anyway. I bought it, took it home, stored it in my freezer and started hunting for a good recipe to use the pastry. I found one on the internet, a pie. A chicken pie. I’ve always wanted to make a pie, even when I wasn’t even gluten-free, so this was my chance. Just let me tell you: It was the easiest thing to make and everyone loved it.

Here’s what you’ll need for 3-4 people:

– 500g chicken breast, no bones, no skin, cut into 3×3 cm pieces (approximately….)

– 250g fresh mushrooms, clean and sliced

– 2 onions, finely chopped (so the kids won’t notice…)

– a bit of cream (I used Creme Fraiche), ca. 100g

– herbs, if you like

– 1 sheet of puff pastry – it should be defrosted by the time you need it

– 150g diced bacon

– 1 tablespoon gluten-free all purpose flour

– 300ml vegetable stock (watch out for gluten-free stock!)

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In a large pan, heat some olive oil and insert mushrooms, onions, bacon and chicken. Let it stew for about 5 minutes, stirring occasionally. Add the stock and bring to a boil. In a very small bowl mix the flour and 1-2 tablespoons of water to get an even paste. When the mix is boiling in your pan, add the flour-paste and stir thoroughly, so the sauce will become thicker. Remove from heat and add the cream as well as salt, pepper, herbs to taste.

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Fill the mix into an oven-safe dish and cover it with the puff-pastry, just like a lid. You can now mix an egg yolk and some milk and ‘paint’ the pastry’ with it, it makes a nice tan when the dish is done.

Put in your oven on medium heat (170 degrees) for about 20-30 minutes, you’ll see when the pastry is done.

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Serve some fresh salad or cooked veggies as side dish and this makes a perfect, quick and easy family dinner. Voilà!

A classic for a reason: Asparagus

I am just enjoying the end of a wonderful weekend and putting in some blog work, finally typing and editing at least some of the new recipes.

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It’s been the first really warm weekend of the year and to make the most of it we spent it in the cottage with my in-laws seeing that hubby was off working saturday anyway so the kids and I weren’t all alone. It was warm as in “Take your jackets and sweaters off”-warm and we were able to go down to the beach on saturday spending almost 3 hours by the lovely and beloved sea. I still remember last year when the littlest monkey was all but excited about sandy beaches – a fact that was actually spoiling numerous beach days for the rest of us back then. But now? He LOVED it. Yippie! As soon as we got down to the beach and Miss Monkey had taken his shoes off he was beyond thrilled.

In the evening we had a nice barbecue – and I decided to collect some of my family’s BBQ-favourites to publish here on the blog. We are mostly going rather plain and simple, rather less than more and mostly things are naturally gluten-free anyway so I think it will make a good collection for you all.

To wind up this sunny, warm and perfect weekend we’ve had the first Asparagus of the season and here we also kept it plain and simple:

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I peeled it outside in the sun and even though I was actually postponing this unloved job several times today it was eventually done in no time. For the 5 of us – considering that the boys would each have only a very small share – I used:

– 2kg white Asparagus

– 1kg fresh (new) potatoes

. 200g butter

– 2 tbl. spoons breadcrumbs

– 4 egg yolks

I cooked the potatoes in the skin and peeled them after cooking. For the Asparagus I used a big pot of warm water, 2 teaspoons salt and sugar each, 1/2 teaspoon ground nutmeg and a splash of lemon juice. Just insert the Asparagus and bring to a boil. Once the water is boiling you have to be carefull not overcook the Asparagus as this goes really quick. I like it to be rather al’dente, so I’d say 5 minutes actual cooking time is sufficient.

As my family is devided into “Sauce lovers” and “Butter lovers” when it comes to Asparagus I usually make both: For the butter I heat a small pan and add the breadcrumbs (which were not gluten-free, but I’m on the sauce side anyway). Stir regularly so they get a nice “tan”. 🙂 Then add ca 75gr of butter into the hot pan and let it melt. The crumbs and the butter will combine and make a nice ‘dip’ for the veggies (can be used with any other veggies than Asparagus as well).

Finally it came down to Hollandaise Sauce which is way easier made than it’s reputation and basically done in 4 steps:

1. Add 4 egg yolks, a pinch of both sugar and salt and 4 tbl. spoons of water into a stainless steel pot or bowl and whisk until everything is well-blended.

2. Add 125gr of butter to another small pot and let it melt on low heat.

3.. Put the bowl/pot with the egg yolks above another pot with very hot (preferably not boiling) water (= bain marie) and whisk, whisk, whisk, whisk, whisk… It really is all about whisking!!! The warmth and the whisking will make the egg yolks thicker, just like a sauce.

4. When the egg yolks have become really creamy slowly add the liquid butter by pouring it into the mix and still whisk, whisk, whisk…

Now you only have to season the sauce with salt, pepper and lemon and you’re done with it. Note: Hollandaise Sauce is only lukewarm when you make it and you cannot heat it up again, so it should be last on your cooking agenda. Also, the sauce becomes firm once it totally cools down. I like to use it as a spread on roasted bread, it’s really nice.

Voilà! This is one of our favorite dishes in April and May as this is the best season for local Asparagus. I hope you enjoy!

Gluten-free Cheese Cake (New York Style)

As it was my middle monkey’s birthday last week and we usually have a family get-together on these occasions I was on the hunt for nice gluten-free cakes and sweeties to serve the family on an April-afternoon. When I came across this recipe a couple of weeks ago I thought on the spot it would be an easy transfer into gluten-free: it does not at all contain too much flour and the pastry of the cake (which contains the flour) is not supposed to be a fluffy and soft one but thin and more like a cookie.

This cake recipe is originally adapted from Donna Hay, I changed more than just the type of flour though so I consider it ‘mine’ now 😉

What you’ll need for the pastry:

– 150g gluten-free flour (again I used bake’n’cake-flour mix)

– 100g butter

– 50g sugar

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Mix all ingredients in a small bowl, until it becomes a crumble-dough. It’s best to use your fingers instead of a food processor. Cover a round normal baking pan with pan liner, preheat your oven to 175 degrees C. Fill the crumbles/dough into the pan and spread evenly until the pan is fully filled with dough.  Bake for 30-35 minutes, then set aside.

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For the cheese filling you’ll need:

– 500g ricotta cheese

– 300g cream cheese (I used fat reduced cream cheese and it worked well)

– 4 eggs

– 250g sugar

– rind of one big lemon (preferably organic)

– juice of one big lemon

– 1,5 tbl spoons cornflour

– 2 tbl spoons water

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Mix all ingredients except water and cornflour in a bowl, using your food processor. Mix water and cornflour in a small extra bowl until smooth then add to the cheese filling, stir thoroughly. Fill the mass into the baking pan on top of the pastry and bake for another 70 minutes.

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Actually one should then turn the oven off and leave the cake inside until cooled. As I had several other baking goods already queuing I had to take my cake out of the oven and let it cool outside. Maybe this is the reason why it seemed a little pale in the end, though taste, shape and stiffness were supreme. It was the real winner of the party and no-one actually noticed it was gluten-free. 🙂

Gluten-free soda cake

Like I promised I gave another new cake a shot at the weekend by transforming a “normal” recipe into a gluten-free cake. The result was really great and the formulation was quite easy.

Note: You’ll need a measure cup with ‘ml’-display.

What else you’ll need to make a normal round or square (25-30cm) cake:

– 200ml sugar

– 350ml gluten-free all purpose or – preferably – cake’n’bake flour

– 1 tbsp. baking soda

– 2 tbsp. lemon juice

– 100ml lemonade or soda – basically any sparkling liquid

– 2 eggs

– 100ml vegetable oil

For the topping you need 250g whipped cream and 250g sour cream, strawberries

Mix all cake ingredients until the dough is becoming smooth. Grease the baking pan or cover with pan liner. Fill in the dough and bake about 20-25 minutes (175 degrees C).

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Let the cake cool and then cut it in half. Whisk whipped cream until stiff, add some sugar (2 tbsp.) and sour cream, mix carefully. Apply half of the cream on top of one cake half, then cover with the second half and spread the left over cream on top. Let it cool in the fridge for about 2 hours. In case you use fresh strawberries, slice them. I used frozen strawberries, so I pureed them to get some sort of sauce.

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Slice the cake and serve with strawberries or strawberry puree on top. Voilà!

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This cake was really delicious and no-one noticed it was gluten-free (actually, I was the only one on a diet when we had the cake). It is very juicy but not muddy. So, this is an absolute recommendation. To make things a little easier (especially when it comes to slicing and serving the cake), I guess it would be ok to leave the cake in one and just spread the cream on top, resulting in an one-layer cake then. The combination of cake, cream and strawberries is a winner one way or the other.

Also, I think the basic recipe makes a great substitute for our usual “kids-cake” which we have for birthdays, school parties etc. Just add some icing on top, some deco such as sprinkles, jelly beans or smarties… done is the perfect gluten-free kids cake.