Gluten Free Favourites – July 2016

According to my photos from the last month, July involved a lot of eating out! I had some conferences and work events, as well as a few lunchtime and evening meals out to celebrate (I left my job at the end of July and am now freelancing). Here’s a selection of the things I’ve loved in July…

Gluten free favourites - July 2016

Gluten free favourites – July 2016

Leon – I can’t believe Leon hasn’t featured in my monthly favourites yet; I adore Leon! For those who don’t know, Leon is a growing chain of fast food restaurants offering ‘healthier’ choices. Most are in London, but they are expanding and there is one in Birmingham New Street station. The allergens are clearly marked on the menu and many of the options are gluten free. I usually have a rice box with brown rice, coleslaw, plus whatever main choice I fancy. During July I visited Leon three times (twice in London, once in Birmingham), and had the sweet potato falafel, and Sicilian chicken meatballs – these were amazing so I had them twice! Leon also have gluten free cakes (from Honeybuns) – the lemon ginger crunch is really good.

Gluten Free Pizza at Amalfi White – we visited friends who live in Melbourne (the one near Derby, UK, not the one in Australia) in July, and went for a meal at Amalfi White. They have a gluten free menu with quite a lot of variety, and staff are very knowledgeable. I chose the Italiano wood fired pizza which was quite honestly one of the most amazing topping combinations I’ve ever had – it had chicken, pancetta, bolognese, goat’s cheese, red chilli, and basil pesto. It sounds like far too much for one pizza but it’s so good. I did have to take half of it home as it was massive but it really was amazing!

Cheshire Farm Ice Cream – I went to a food festival in July and although I wasn’t expecting there to be a lot of gluten free food, I was disappointed at how little there was I could try. One highlight however was Cheshire Farm Ice Cream who had a van with loads of different flavoured ice creams, many of which were gluten free. The staff were really clued up and had a full list of allergens, and were very aware of cross contamination issues too. I was able to have my ice cream in a tub rather than a cone (though apparently they do provide gluten free cones at their farm!). I chose one scoop of honeycomb ice cream and one scoop of sticky toffee pudding ice cream (which I was amazed was gluten free!). The sticky toffee pudding was quite possible the best ice cream I have ever tasted. I’ll definitely be seeking this out again!

Harissa-Spiced Chicken Burger – the last few times we’ve eaten at Cappello Lounge my partner has had the Harissa-Spiced Chicken Burger so not wanting to copy, I’ve tried other things. The most recent time we visited however I took the plunge and chose to go for the gluten free version of the Harissa-Spiced Chicken Burger. I’ve been missing out! The chicken was really succulent and the flavours amazing – it has red pepper mayo and pimento soft cheese and is just lovely. I adore the fries there too so all in all an excellent meal! I’ve previously reviewed Cappello Lounge and would highly recommend the Loungers chain for gluten free.

What have you been loving in July? Any recommendations? 


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Orgran Gluten Free Pizza and Pastry Mix

Organ Gluten Free very kindly sent me some samples recently, and amongst them was the Pizza & Pastry Multimix. I confess I was a little confused about this product – it seems to be a multipurpose product (for pizza bases and pastry) but the instructions given were only for pizza bases, so pizza it was! We very recently discovered the Isabel’s pizza bases and love them so these had a lot to live up to.

Orgran Gluten Free Pizza & Pastry Multimix

Orgran Gluten Free Pizza & Pastry Multimix

The mix is really easy to make – you just need 40ml of vegetable oil and 250ml of water, which you stir with the mix until you get a dough. I just used a spoon and was able to make the dough fairly easily. The dough was very light and quite fluffy in texture which impressed me. After carefully kneading the dough, we split it into 3 as per the instructions (a slightly unusual amount, but meant we got to save one to share the following day!). The dough rolled fairly well, and although it was a little fragile it was no where near as crumbly as some gluten free mixes have been. We don’t bother trying to make them perfectly round, but I think if you wanted to you could with this mix as it’s easy to work with. So far, so good!

Orgran Gluten Free Pizza & Pastry Multimix

Orgran Gluten Free Pizza & Pastry Multimix

We added our toppings – tomato sauce from Madeleine Shaw’s Get The Glow, plus bacon and ricotta. The instructions said to bake for 15-20 minutes so we baked for 15 initially, and decided to go for the full 20 to crisp the bacon. They looked great!

Orgran Gluten Free Pizza & Pastry Multimix

Orgran Gluten Free Pizza & Pastry Multimix

Time to tuck in and again we weren’t disappointed. The base holds together well, and was nice and crisp on the outside crust whilst softer in the middle. It’s quite a doughy base, so if you like thicker crust pizza bases I think you’ll love this. Because it was crisp on the outside and bottom it was a bit tricky to cut, but I think that’s more because of our cutlery rather than the base! On the second night we sliced it with a pizza wheel before eating and it worked really well.

Orgran Gluten Free Pizza & Pastry Multimix

Orgran Gluten Free Pizza & Pastry Multimix

I really enjoyed this pizza mix and would definitely recommend it if you like thicker crust pizzas. I think for me the Isobel’s mix is just slightly ahead, but that’s due to personal preference for thinner bases. I loved how easy this was to make, and it’s quicker than most too as you don’t need to part-bake before adding your toppings. Definitely recommended for a quick and easy pizza.

Organ products are available online and in some supermarkets – stockist information is available on their website. The pizza and pastry mix is around £3.

Have you tried these? What’s your favourite pizza topping?

If you’d like to receive updates from Gluten Free Joeyanne please follow the blog by email or RSS (links on the right hand side) or you can like Gluten Free Joeyanne on Facebook for links to blog posts as well as more regular updates. 

Gluten Free Eating at Centre Parcs – Dining In

This is part of a series of blog posts based on my experience eating gluten free at Center Parcs (Woburn Forest) in September 2015. The first blog post on Gluten Free Eating at Center Parcs gives an overview of my experience, and will link to the other posts when they’re available.  

On the second evening we had a late takeaway after swimming in the evening (the rapids at sunset was lovely!). I was very impressed with the service at the takeaway – I’d been in earlier in the day to find out what options would be available and when I came in later to order I was asked if I had any allergies without having to say. I think this is the first time I’ve been asked as I order rather than having to raise it myself and it was so refreshing to see that this was really taken seriously.

As I’d already eaten quite a lot that day I just went for a ‘small’ portion of the singapore noodles which are rice noodles with chicken, prawn and vegetables. This was great and I was so glad I hadn’t gone for the larger size as there was plenty! It wasn’t too spicy, but definitely had some heat. I also shared some prawn crackers – great to be able to have these. It’s been a long time since I’ve had a Chinese takeaway as they’re usually out for coeliacs so this was a nice treat!

 

Later on in the week we decided to have another takeaway as I’d been keen to try the gluten free pizza which has apparently won awards. They only have the gluten free base in 12″ size but we only wanted a light dinner on this particular evening so we shared a pepperoni pizza on our last night before packing. I’m not going to sugar coat this, we were very disappointed when we opened the box. My partner had already been mocking the decision of the pizza as we carried it back to our hotel room and walked past Strada which he suddenly decided he wanted to eat at, so I was really hoping it would prove him wrong with a delicious looking pizza. Sadly we got this…

Gluten Free Pepperoni Pizza from Dining In

Gluten Free Pepperoni Pizza from Dining In

Admittedly he’s used to the double pepperoni you get from Domino’s but I was definitely expecting more pepperoni than this! So it didn’t start well. However, when we tasted it he soon stopped his mocking. It was actually really good pizza. It was crisp round the outside but still a little doughy in the middle, and just the right thickness. I really enjoyed it. More topping would have been nice though!

The one thing we did find a little unusual with the Dining In was not being able to go in and order when you want the food. The whole system is based on pre-ordering, which I can totally understand if you’re getting it delivered to you, but we were collecting it and it felt a little strange to have to pre-book a time to collect it. We were given a 30 minutes slot though so we were able to plan our evening around that, and as it was opposite the pool we ordered on our way in and collected on our way out which worked well.

The other thing to note is that is you aren’t self catered (and therefore don’t have plates and cutlery) Dining In provide you with these. Well, they did when we had our Chinese – we got plates and cutlery to take to our hotel room, and then the maids took them back. With the pizza we didn’t get a pizza cutter; it arrives not sliced to keep it fresh, but of course as we weren’t self-catering we don’t have anything to cut it with. The staff did offer to cut it for us when we asked as we were leaving, but I didn’t want to risk cross contamination. This time we were given plastic cutlery which didn’t make it easy to cut the pizza! It would have been good to have included a pizza cutter to take to our room with us (even a plastic disposable one if they don’t have any metal ones).

Overall the Dining In experience was fairly good – I can definitely see it’s a good idea if there’s a large group of you wanting to eat in but all wanting something different – you can order Oriental food, Indian food, pizza, tapas and salad all from the same place and of course get it delivered if you wish (we didn’t see the point at Woburn Forest as everything was so close to our hotel). They also offer banquet deals which may be good for groups. The full menu with allergen information is available online (though of course this may change so worth checking for up-to-date information when you visit).

Falling in love with Isabel’s Free From

Thanks to Holland Barrett I’ve been introduced to a new (to me) gluten free brand; Isabel’s Free From. I’d seen Isabel’s mixes in stores but not tried them before. In my last post on Gluten Free at Holland and Barrett I raved about the dough balls and the Yorkshire puddings, and that evening we tried the pizza base mix. In the past we’ve tried ready-made gluten free pizza bases (both from supermarkets and from prescription-only brands) but they’ve not been brilliant – most are quite biscuit-like and some are like a thick bread, which is OK but not amazing. In pre-coeliac days we used to make our own pizza bases but we haven’t yet tried making gluten free pizza bases from scratch. I was intrigued by the mix but had high expectations based on the experience we’d had with the dough balls and the Yorkshire puddings. We weren’t disappointed!

In each box you get enough to make 4 pizza bases; two sachets with enough mix for 2 bases in each. The mix is really easy to make – you just need an egg, some olive oil, and some cold water. Initially as you mix it starts to clump together but once you knead it together it goes to a fairly stretchy dough. I was really impressed with the texture – it made it really easy to deal with (if you’ve ever done gluten free baking you may be familiar with the usual crumbly texture you often have to deal with!). It was easy to roll too and held together when rolled – no cracks or breaks at all. We kept it fairly rustic rather than trying to make a perfect round pizza, but I would think you could do fairly easily if you wanted to.

Rolling out the dough (not me - my arms aren't that hairy!)

Rolling out the dough (not me – my arms aren’t that hairy!)

Once the bases are rolled, you part-bake them before removing from the oven and adding the toppings then baking again. The bases puffed up when we baked them, which I was initially a bit concerned about, but it’s just trapped air, so it lowers out of the oven, and you can push it out as you add the toppings if you wish too. It shows how light the base is though!

Puffed up Isabel's pizza base after baking

Puffed up Isabel’s pizza base after baking

We chose prosciutto, spinach, mozzarella and ricotta on our pizza, along with a homemade pizza topping (which is basically Heinz Stir tomato soup, with garlic and herbs). We steamed the spinach, chopped the prosciutto, and sliced the mozzarella and added them onto the base and sauce. Once they were baked we added the ricotta (and in my case I added a bit more spinach as I love it!).

It was absolutely delicious! It makes a fairly thin and crispy base, but there’s still a slight softness to it so it’s not difficult to eat and you can tell it’s a dough (rather than a biscuit or cracker!).

Isabel's gluten free pizza base

Isabel’s gluten free pizza base

I loved it, but then I haven’t had a ‘regular’ pizza for over 5 years. So the real test is my partner. His verdict… “It’s lovely, you wouldn’t even know it’s gluten free”. High praise indeed! We loved it so much that we had it again a few days later, and have ordered another box already!

So that’s three of the Isabel’s mixes we’ve tried now, all of which we have loved. We’re total converts! What product should we try next? Any recommendations? I notice there’s a new baked donut mix, has anyone tried that?

Tesco Free From Cheese and Tomato Pizza

We’re quite fortunate in the UK that Coeliac UK have been working with a number of different pizza chains and we can now enjoy gluten free pizza at Pizza Hut (see earlier blog post), Domino’s (will blog soon) and Pizza Express (not had chance to try yet), amongst others. They’re not the most budget friendly options though and sometimes you just want pizza you can cook at home. I occasionally get Juvela pizza bases on prescription, having tried various supermarket offerings and being sorely disappointed (Sainsbury’s, I’m particularly looking at you – pizza bases should not crumble apart or taste like biscuits!). I’m currently taking part in a BzzAgent campaign for Tesco Free From and received a number of money off vouchers, including ones for the Free From Cheese and Tomato frozen pizza. I managed to find some in a local store so I bought one and convinced my partner that it would be edible enough to have as a quick and easy evening meal (always a risk with a partner who gets grumpy when hungry and will refuse to eat food that doesn’t taste good, but I had faith).

Tesco Free From Cheese and Tomato Pizza

Tesco Free From Cheese and Tomato Pizza

My initial concerns at the unusual packaging (cellophane rather than a box but printed across all the cellophane and I wondered why they were hiding it!) were put to one side once we opened it and it looked OK. Half an hour or so later and it was time to try the taste test.

Tesco Free From Cheese and Tomato pizza - close up

Tesco Free From Cheese and Tomato pizza – close up

We were very confused indeed. It’s a gluten free pizza base, but it wasn’t dairy free and used regular mozzarella cheese and tomato sauce. So you’d think the topping would be great but that the base might be a little unusual. You’d be wrong. The base was really good – not too thin or crumbly, nice and doughy but with a crunch on the base and crust, but still relatively easy to cut. Even my non-coeliac boyfriend enjoyed it and said he couldn’t really tell it was gluten free – high praise indeed!

Tesco Free From Cheese and Tomato pizza - side view

Tesco Free From Cheese and Tomato pizza – side view

The topping however… it just wasn’t nice at all. I’m not sure what it was that made it so strange, and from a quick check of the ingredients nothing stands out as unusual, but it just wasn’t nice. We both agreed that the base was a really good pizza base, but that it was let down by a disappointing topping. It’s so odd as the bit that made it free from was lovely, but the ‘normal’ bit of it ruined it. It may be better if you add some additional topping, but I think it may have been the sauce that we didn’t like so it’s difficult to remove that from a frozen pizza! We’re hoping they may sell these bases individually as we’d definitely be buying those again.

Tesco Free From Cheese and Tomato pizza - easy to slice

Tesco Free From Cheese and Tomato pizza – easy to slice

Would I buy the Tesco Free From Cheese and Tomato pizza again? Probably not to be honest, unless they changed the recipe/improved the topping. The base was great though and very promising for the future. Pizzas used to be a rare treat for coeliacs but now we’re able to eat out and enjoy them at home. Personally though I’ll be sticking with my Juvela pizza bases on prescription for now.

Gluten free eating at Pizza Hut (UK)

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A number of coeliacs in the UK have been very excited about the developments in pizza restaurants thanks to Coeliac UK. Pizza Hut has recently launched gluten free pizzas across their eat-in restaurants in the UK, and Domino’s will soon be launching gluten free pizzas too.

I’m off work this week so we decided to try out the gluten free pizza at Pizza Hut yesterday afternoon. I phoned beforehand to check they had GF bases, and was really impressed with how knowledgeable staff were. One of the aspects of Coeliac UK’s work is to improve awareness within restaurants and it seems to have worked in this case!

When we arrived there was a menu with ice cream milkshakes pictures (which looked yummy!), so I asked if they were suitable. On reflection, this was a big mistake – my partner wasn’t too impressed that we had finally come out to eat like ‘normal’ people yet I still had to be awkward – oops! The staff were brilliant and tried to find out but couldn’t be sure so I stuck with a J2O instead.

Apart from the pepperoni and beef mince (and the b??chamel sauce), all the toppings are gluten free. I chose the new BBQ Cajun Chicken Pizza which had a BBQ sauce, Cajun chicken, mixed peppers, red onion and green chillies.

The gluten free pizzas come served with their own pizza cutter and are square as they’re cooked in separate tins – both techniques to help reduce cross contamination. It’s so great to see this – frequently I have experienced restaurants where they offer gluten free food items but don’t realise the cross contamination issues such as using the same cooking equipment or cooking alongside non-gluten free food.

I really enjoyed the pizza – it wasn’t the greatest I’ve ever had, but I did enjoy it and it was so good to be able to eat in a regular place I previously wouldn’t have been able to find anything to eat. The base held together well and wasn’t too crunchy or doughy so overall I was impressed and I’m sure I’ll visit again.

Hooray to Pizza Hut for providing coeliac safe food and knowledgeable staff, and hooray to Coeliac UK for helping them get there!

Gluten free eating out in Edinburgh

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I’ve visited Edinburgh a few times for work now, and I’m gradually building up a list of places I can safely eat out at. The following are my favourites and recommended for coeliacs (or others following a gluten free diet).

Vittoria

There are a few of these in Edinburgh but the one I have visited is on George IV Bridge. Items are marked as GF on the menu and they also have gluten free pasta so you can have a pasta dish. I had a tomato, onion and bacon pasta dish this week and it was lovely! They also have Dime dessert so you can even have a pudding too. Staff all seem very knowledgeable and I felt very safe eating here.

Mamma’s Pizza

I ate here on my first visit to Edinburgh. There was a group of about 25 of us so the service was a little slow (to be expected really!). They have gluten free pizza bases (homemade) though I’m not sure how they’re cooked and imagine there is potential risk of cross contamination, as with most pizza places. I had to wait quite a while as mine was served after everyone else, but it was enjoyable. You can choose your own topping (and there are all sorts of weird and wonderful options including cactus, marshmallow and chocolate). It’s quite a casual place to eat at, good for a group get together but not for a special occasion.

Tupiniquim

This is one of the most amazing finds ever! It was mentioned on Twitter a little while ago so I bookmarked it for my next visit and managed to go earlier this week. It’s a little hut (literally!) not far from the Royal Mile, overlooking The Meadows. They do both savoury and sweet pancakes and you can choose from a variety of fillings. The mix is made from Dove’s Farm gluten free flour mixes and is all gluten free (the owner’s son was diagnosed at a young age so he began experimenting). I had a really lovely crepe with chicken, cheese, sun dried tomatoes, jalape??o and spinach. It’s served wrapped in a paper plate and kitchen paper and is great for eating on the go (unfortunately I didn’t get a photo as my phone keep crashing). There are also tables and chairs next to the hut but it was raining when I went. When I visited there was also a local sat chatting to the owner and he serenaded us whilst we were waiting for our crepes!

Holiday Inn Express Edinburgh Royal Mile

I’ve stayed at this hotel every time I’ve visited Edinburgh and of all the hotels I’ve stayed at for work purposes it’s probably my favourite. It’s nothing special really – it’s relatively budget friendly and quite simple (there’s no bar or anything) but it’s near to the centre yet still very quiet, has free wifi Internet (for as many devices as you want), and… they do gluten free breakfast! You’ll need to let them know in advance (i usually call the day before I’m due to visit to check they have the request) but the first time I visited I got a choice of gluten free bread, cereal and rice cakes (more than the other guests!). The next time I just asked for gluten free bread and now I have scrambled eggs on toast and sometimes a yoghurt. There isn’t a separate toaster so there is the risk of cross contamination but you could take toaster bags if you were concerned about that. The customer service I’ve received there has always been excellent and I can’t recommend it enough as a gluten-free friendly place to stay.