Christmas food

I get asked a lot how difficult I find it to eat at Christmas. The answer to that is that I don’t, my first wheat free Christmas was tricky but after 6, I have got it sussed.

I had duck on the day with pigs in blankets, sausagemeat stuffing, roast potatoes, sprouts, carrots,leeks and gravy. Yes, I know that’s a big dinner. The duck was roasted with just a little of seasoning on the dried off skin as the Gressingham Duck website suggests. I popped the potatoes in around the duck as they end up lovely and crispy in all the duck fat. I bought the pigs in blankets from Tesco, they are part of the finest range and were on a 2 for £5 offer so I also bought some pork sausages; both were marked gluten free. For the stuffing, I finely chopped an onion, several chestnut mushrooms and removed 3 sausages from their skins and mixed it all together, seasoned it and rolled it into balls. I popped these in round the duck too. The sprouts and carrots were steamed and the leeks were boiled. Easy stuff, especially when you add in Antony Worral-Thompson’s gluten free chicken gravy.  I don’t eat Christmas pudding, never have, so I bought a Tesco free from chocolate pudding and Bird’s instant custard. I have got the other half of the chocolate pudding left, even I’m not that greedy!

There you go, one wheat free Christmas dinner, simple and, if I do say so myself, extremely tasty. Now, on to the best bit.

I don’t eat Christmas cake either so I got the chunk of carrot cake I bought out of the freezer and polished it off with a coffee. I bought them from Simply No Gluten who I mentioned in a post on my other blog. Apologies for the next bit, I am about to rave about a company I was recently introduced to. I ordered peanut butter brownies, carrot cake and scones. The brownies never made it to Christmas they were that good. Only part of the carrot cake made it but that is because I have a modicum of self control sometimes. The brownies were amazing, soft and moist, just as they should be and with lovely big blobs of peanut butter in. The carrot cake was beautifully moist too and had the right amount of cinnamon in and was frosted. The cake and frosting both freeze and defrost really well. Usually, a gluten free cake is rock-like, weighing half a ton and you could kill people if you threw it at them. Not this one, it was light and tasty, before and after freezing.

I took the scones out of the freezer last night and put them in the fridge to defrost, they were light too, so light I almost dropped them as I wasn’t expecting it. I warmed them in the oven for 10 minutes this evening and then ate all 4 of them with clotted cream and jam…heaven!

Not everyone would enjoy all of that, I know but it was perfect for me and so easy, no cooking stress for me this year.

Oh, in case you’re thinking of asking, I love having Christmas on my own so no, you can’t come next year.

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Nice bit of crumpet

I am so sorry for the corny title, I just couldn’t resist it! Anyway, onto the serious subject of crumpets, I love them. Everyone who knows me knows I also love cake but crumpets are way up there too. Since I was diagnosed with a wheat allergy, I have been hoping that someone would make half decent crumpets. A couple of supermarkets tried but they were thin and rock hard, not like crumpets at all. 

I walked into my local Asda a week or so ago and discovered Genius crumpets and bought them without really expecting anything like the regular crumpets I vaguely remember. I was so wrong!

I popped them in the toaster and stood watching it, as you do. When they were done I took them out and spread peanut butter on them, I wasn’t going to waste the last bit of jam on something I’d not tried before. I could say that I ate them quickly but truth is, I inhaled them. They were crispy on the outside and soft on the inside, just like a decent crumpet should be. If I could do back-flips or cartwheels, I probably would have but my flat was safe from my dodgy gymnastic abilities.

These crumpets are, without doubt the best I have had at least while I have been wheat free. I put the other 2 in my freezer and had them about a week later. According to the pack, you can’t toast these from frozen so I didn’t try and took them out the day before I wanted to eat them so I knew that they would have defrosted in time. They tasted great with the last of my jam and, if possible, I ate them even more quickly than the first two!

I do tend to shop around a lot when trying to find decent wheat free bakery products but as long as they keep making their crumpets this good, I will be buying Genius crumpets forever.

Today's crumpets and jam

Today’s crumpets and jam

Harrods afternoon tea

After seeing a tweet and then reading this http://glutenfreecakelover.blogspot.co.uk/2013/10/afternoon-tea-harrods.html I decided to see whether some friends would come with me so I could try the gluten free afternoon tea for myself. I am not coeliac but have a life threatening wheat allergy so after checking that there is no wheat protein in any of the baked goods, I booked it.

Yesterday, 4 of us strolled into the Georgian Restaurant http://www.harrods.com/content/the-store/restaurants/georgian-restaurant/ and drank in the sumptuous atmosphere and beautiful piano music. We were split as to whether or not the enormous Christmas tree was over or under decorated though.

Out of the 4 of us, 3 had coffee(!) with the non-heathen (not me) having orange pekoe tea with lemon slices. I have not had coffee in a teacup for a very long time and it was a large pot so there were quite a few refills for all of us as we were given a pot each.

Then the food arrived and I resisted the urge to do a little boogie. There were few differences between the regular and gluten free teas, I had a few more finger sandwiches and the regular teas had a roll filled with lobster. We all had 2 scones, 1 fruit and 1 plain and even some of the cakes were the same or similar.

The sandwiches were very tasty and the bread possibly baked by Harrods as it didn’t have the texture of any of the well known gluten free suppliers. I was really pleased to see simple yet tasty fillings, I had: chicken and pesto, red pepper and hummus, egg mayonnaise, ham and mustard and smoked salmon and cream cheese. The scones were sort of muffin shaped and taller than the standard ones and beautifully rough and ready looking so they were clearly not mass produced. They were still warm and surprisingly soft. The fruit one was very lightly fruited and as someone who can’t stand currants etc I still willingly ate it with clotted cream and jam of course! It was my first taste of clotted cream so I can only say I enjoyed it not that it was spectacular but the fact that everyone else asked for more suggests it was pretty good. I got clotted cream and jam to myself but I had to ask for it which, to be honest wasn’t a problem and it appeared very quickly.

The cakes were amazing! I say cakes, they weren’t all cakey as I had a little pot of lemon curd, something else I had for the first time and it was garnished with a physalis, half a grape and a raspberry. There was also a date with pistachio marzipan in the middle. I was disappointed in this as the marzipan was a violent shade of bright green, not the colour I associate with pistachios! I also discovered that whilst I like marzipan, I can’t abide dates much to the amusement of the rest of the table as they laughed heartily at the face I pulled. Back to the cakes, I had a vanilla meringue, it looked like a crisp meringue like the shops sell in packets but instead was crisp and soft with a strong but not too powerful taste of vanilla, it was divine! There was also a raspberry macaroon, the filling was quite tart but it was tasty nonetheless and, as my first try of a macaroon it didn’t disappoint. The chocolate hazelnut delice was a lot lighter than it looked and was quickly despatched in 2 forkfuls. The difference between mine and the standard delice was that mine didn’t have a layer of biscuit on the bottom.

We all opted for the champagne as well which was expertly poured by our waitress. I am not a connoisseur but I did like it, not too dry and potentially very drinkable, probably just as well they only serve 1 glass!

Overall, I loved it, we were well looked after and very well fed, I was so full that I didn’t need dinner so I definitely recommend a 4.30pm tea as it will save you on dinner! It looks like we might all have decided afternoon tea is now our “thing” so there could well be future updates on other teas, nice or nasty! The Harrods tea however is well and truly in the nice camp, try it for yourself, I guarantee you won’t be disappointed.