Tuesday, 18 October 2011

A Yummy Tuscan snack

Once again I've been inspired to get creative by a competition. Aren't competitions great? Not only do we have the opportunity to dream about a glorious win but the theme of the competition often gets us trying things that would otherwise be out of our normal scope.

This time the inspiration came from a competition being run by  http://www.lovethegarden.com/blog/a-taste-for-tomatoes-a-recipe-blog-competition and requires creation of a meal including tomatoes.

I do love Italian food but sadly since being diagnosed coeliac a little while ago my favourite pasta and pizza recipes have become a rare occurence on the family dinner table.

So the opportunity to do something Tuscan was too good to miss.

As ever, my recipe began life as a regular recipe purloined from elsewhere, but because I'm notoriously fickle about using certain ingredients, it soon developed a life of it's own. Let's start with the ingredients.


Tomatoes - for a true Tuscan Bruschetta these should be plum, but this is my first adjustment. I'm not particularly keen on plum tomatoes so here they have been replaced by vine ones.

Olive oil - I know the purists amongst you will be disappointed that this is not extra, extra, super duper, special virgin - or some such....but again, it's the oil I like.

Parmesan cheese - smelly and hard to grate I know but there really isn't any better cheese for Bruschetta!

Salt & black pepper

Fresh Basil

Spring onions - another replacement. These should really be garlic but I wasn't in a garlicky mood today. Plus, my garden has a sudden glut of spring onions at the moment and I'm all for making the most of what's available!

Gluten Free bread rolls - obviously the gluten free bit is essential for me because of my Coeliac Disease. Clearly in a true bruschetta these would be replaced with a long baguette or something similar.


This recipe was so simple that I spent most of the time I was making it convinced that I'd forgotten something! The first step was obviously to chop the onions, tomatoes & basil. Put these into a bowl with 3 tablespoons of olive oil, a couple of pinches of salt and a little black pepper.

Slice the bread and place it on a baking tray. Sprinkle with a little more olive oil and pop it into the oven for 5 minutes to toast.

Now I know it's hard and I know it's smelly but the next step is to grate the parmesan.

Simple so far? Well, that really is it!

Once the bread is toasted, remove from the oven and pop onto the serving plate. Top with the tomato, basil and onion mix and cover with parmesan.

Next and most important step is ENJOY!! (I did!)

So, a big thank you from me to the organisers of this competition. I do realise that my recipe isn't particularly difficult or unique but entering this competition has reminded me how much I enjoy this type of food. This recipe will definitely be making a return appearance on my menu sometime soon!

Friday, 14 October 2011

Pipers Cup Cakes

Piper loves to help out in the kitchen and Grandma's birthday recently gave her the opportunity to help make some delicious cup cakes.

Grandma has to follow a Gluten Free diet so cupcakes are made with special gluten free flour, we usually use a mixture of various flours to give a nice light consistency.

For the cupcakes
  • 125g (4oz) butter, melted
  • 125g (4oz) caster sugar
  • 125g (4oz) Gluten free flour (we use 1/2 gluten-free self-raising flour and 1/2 rice flour)
  • 2 medium eggs
  • 3tbsp milk
  • 1/2 teaspoon vanilla essence
For the icing
  • 150g (5oz) caster sugar
  • 100g (3½oz) butter, softened
  • Few drops of vanilla essence
  1. Set the oven to gas mark 5 or 190°C.
  2. To make the cupcakes: Pour the melted butter into a bowl and add sugar, flour, eggs, milk and vanilla extract. Beat the mixture with an electric hand whisk, to give a smooth batter. Spoon mixture into the paper cases in the tray.
  3. Bake cakes in the centre of oven for 18-20 mins, or until they rise and are light golden brown. Remove tray from the oven and leave cakes to cool for a few minutes, then transfer to a wire rack to cool completely.
  4. To make the buttercream: Using the electric whisk, mix together the sugar, butter and vanilla essence until this forms a creamy, fluffy mixture.
  5. Fill a piping tube with the buttercream and pipe a swirl on top of each cupcake. 
The lack of gluten in the cakes means they can go dry quicker than 'normal' cakes so I'd recommend eating them within 1 day of making them. This is no real hardship because they look so pretty with their swirl of icing.

The hardest part of making these cakes is convincing Piper to put the cake mix in the cases to bake it. She would happily eat the uncooked cake mix!

She also particularly likes cleaning out the icing bowl!

 Happy Birthday Grandma, if you need any help eating the cakes just let us know!