Gluten free in Glasgow – Firebird

My boyfriend says I should re-name my blog to‘gluten free pizza diaries’, because it seems that every time I’m writing about food I’ve had in Glasgow, it’s pizza. What can I say? I love pizza.

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Last weekend we went out for supper at Firebird restaurant on Argyle Street before going to see World War Z in the cinema. I knew they did gluten free pasta and pizza and had wanted to go there for ages, and seeing as I am leaving Glasgow and moving to Edinburgh in a couple of weeks’ time, I thought it was about time I actually went to eat there before it was too late! What can I say? WHY hadn’t I been there before!?

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We had booked in advance as it was a Friday, and good job we did – it was pretty busy and there were people waiting for a table sitting in the little outside seating bit (for once it has been reasonable weather in Scotland so I guess people were also making the most of that.) I ordered a gluten free – or as it’s called on the menu ‘W.O.W – without wheat – margherita pizza. It was fantastic. One of the best, if not THE best gluten free pizza I’ve had. The base was really thin, but not horribly crispily cardboardy and burnt like they can be. It was the most Italian gluten free pizza I’d say I’ve had as it was thinner and less doughy than others. It was as if all the other gluten free pizzas I’d had were good because they were a substitute to something I could no longer eat, but I feel Firebird really have made an effort to make their pizzas awesome, and not just ‘it’s good for being gluten free’.

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It wasn’t expensive either – £9.00 for my pizza. I would highly recommend anyone who wants gluten free pizza (and probably ‘regular’ pizza also as my boyfriend said his was great too) to go to Firebird. Next time I go I’ll have to try a pasta dish just for the sake of going somewhere and NOT ordering pizza! Oh, and the movie was pretty good too. 

Here is a link to their website.

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Gluten free in the Higlands of Scotland – Archiestown Hotel

Recently, my family from America came over to Scotland for a visit. They are very into their whisky, so for a lot of their trip they were staying in Speyside which is famous for their whisky, and it is also where I am from. We went for a couple of really nice meals with them – one at The Mash Tun in Aberlour, and one at the Archiestown Hotel which is in a village called Archiestown – they are both about an hours drive away from Inverness and about 45 minutes from Aviemore. 

The meal we had at the Archiestown Hotel was at lunch time – the meal I ended up having would have definitely done me for supper, but I managed to finish it anyway! I panicked a bit when I saw the menu, as there were only about five starter options and four main meals – most of which were bread or pasta based. I asked the proprietor about a dish on the menu which – if I’m honest – was the only one of the main meals I thought I would enjoy anyway – it was venison and beef meatballs with mashed potato, red onion gravy, served with parsnip chips. She said that the chef would be able to adapt it to make it gluten free as the gravy would normally be unsuitable but it wouldn’t be a problem to do this. I was so relieved, as there had been one or two things I could have had on the starter menu, but these were either salmon or mushroom centered and I hate both, so I would have hated to look so fussy and have to say there was nothing I could either have or wanted!

When my meal came, it looked really nice, however there was no sign of these parsnip chips that had been mentioned on the menu – that’s actually the bit I was most excited about – and I thought they may have left them off my plate if they weren’t gluten free, however my uncle who had ordered the same dish didn’t get any either. I guess they had just ran out and not thought to tell us when we ordered which was a shame. However, everything that was on my plate was lovely. Usually I find venison a bit strong, but the meatballs were great and the gravy tasted fantastic. The vegetables it came with were basic (only broccoli) but for lunch time, I couldn’t have eaten any more anyway!

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If any gluten-free’s are up this way, and wanting somewhere very nice for a meal, I would recommend this place, as although there wasn’t much initially on the menu for non-gluten eaters, it appeared that they were totally accommodating and that the chef could whip something up with short notice. 

Here’s a link to their website.

Gluten free in Cyprus – Paphos

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I was in Cyprus with my mum and sister last week for a weeks holiday – it was lovely but as always when travelling, the question of ‘what will I eat?’ was at the front of my mind.

The holiday was great in general, we were staying in Pissouri, about a half hour drive from the popular destination of Paphos and we rented a car so getting around the island was easy. We took day trips and went up the Troodos mountains which were lovely – I thought it was like being in Scotland but with the temperature about 100 times hotter!

Before going, I had looked up gluten free restaurants, and the only one which I found mentioned numerous times was one called Pinguino which is on the harbour front. When we went to Paphos we looked for this restaurant specifically so that I could see the gluten free menu I had read about – however we couldn’t find it at all, even after asking a local! It turns out, not finding this restaurant could have been one of the best things to have happened on the holiday as we ended up taking a bus up to the old market part of Paphos and stumbling across a traditional, genuinely authentic restaurant.

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‘Laona’ was up a small slope in a cobbled street, with no overly-flashy signs and nothing which shouted ‘tourists should come here’. We sat down, and instead of being shown a menu, we were pointed towards a large chalk board with about 12 options on it, which our server preceded to read out to us, detailing every dish on it. I had downloaded one of the gluten free travel card apps, so I showed the waiter this, and he then listed everything I could have any the few dishes I couldn’t – he clearly knew the food very well which was so comforting. As it was only lunch time, we decided to opt for two main meals to share between the three of us; stuffed vegetables and chicken stew. We were brought bread (at which the waiter apologized to me as I couldn’t eat which showed they cared) and a bowl of salad. When the meals came, they looked fantastic – real food and definitely authentic. The stuffed vegetables were lovely and very fresh tasting, the meat in them was pork and the whole taste of the dish was great. The chicken stew was lovely with the chicken very tender – it was served with both rice and potatoes so we didn’t have to worry about going hungry!

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After we had finished the meal, my sister and mum were brought a complimentary slice of cake which they said was delicious, and I was given a plate of watermelon. I really feel they cared for their customers and genuinely wanted us to enjoy our food as opposed to just being all about the sales. All the food came to 18 euros – which for three people is pretty great!

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If anyone is visiting Paphos or this area, I would definitely recommend Laona, whether you are after gluten free food or not. They served real, fresh food, and really cared.

Gluten free – Pizza Express

I feel like I haven’t written anything on here for years. I’ve been really busy getting everything finished up in the last few weeks of my second and final year at college, along with having got myself a position interning with a company in Glasgow, as well as going to Cyprus for a weeks holiday.

So I’ll catch up on what I’ve been doing in terms of gluten free-ing. 

As everyone will know by now, Pizza Express launched a gluten free range at the end of April. I don’t remember ever having been to Pizza Express before I became allergic to wheat, but I know all my friends say that the pizza is great there – so I was pleased to be able to finally see what it was all about! We went to the nearest restaurant to us which is on Sauchiehall Street in Glasgow – it’s a nice restaurant inside and out.

My friend won a “taste card” a while ago which in Pizza Express entitles the holder to buy one get one free on each course, so my boyfriend and I borrowed the card (I am not sure sharing the card amongst your friends is entirely allowed but what the heck) and decided to go for a pizza. I would buy myself a taste card, but at nearly £80 a year, I don’t think I’d be able to afford to actually go for the meals after buying one!

For my main course I had the Pollo ad Astra pizza which is chicken, peppadew sweet peppers, cajun spices, garlic oil and red onions. It was pretty different to other gluten free pizzas I’ve had from restaurants or take-away’s – it was less doughy and more of an authentic Italian thin base. I can’t say I was blown away by the pizza, but in all fairness it was definitely the best gluten free pizza I’ve had (I’m not really classing it in the same category as Domino’s because that’s more of a pizza-pie type base). 

Pizza Express Gluten Free Pizza

As it was a buy one get one free deal, we felt as though it would be silly not to order pudding so I ordered the gluten free chocolate brownie from the Dolcetti menu – mini puddings that come with a hot drink. The brownie itself was nice, however it didn’t come served with a strawberry as it was shown on the menu. 

When we went to pay, the bill came and the main courses were marked as buy one get one free, however both of the deserts were being charged for. When I asked the waitress about this she told me that the Dolcetti desserts aren’t included in the taste card two for one offer so I pointed out that the chocolate brownie was the only gluten free desert on the menu. The waitress told me the sorbet was also gluten free (which I had suspected would be – apart from the fact it was served with a wafer) but as it hadn’t appeared on the menu as being gluten free she agreed that we wouldn’t have to pay for the second dessert.

All in all, our bill came to just over £20 for two drinks, two pizzas and two desserts which I can’t complain about! I don’t think I would choose to go to Pizza Express again without a taste card or a similar offer as I think it could become quite expensive, but I did enjoy my pizza!

Gluten free quiche!

I know you can buy gluten free ready-made pastry now in supermarkets but I prefer to make my own. As far as I know it’s only frozen gluten free pastry they sell in the shops which is a bit of a pain because you’d have to plan beforehand as you’d need to thaw the pastry, and also, I’ve found the shop bought ones I’ve tried to be really dry and crumbly, and really hard to roll out of the thick blocks they come in. Obviously with any quiche you can totally change the fillings to suit anything you want to put in – I always have cheese and onion in mine, with the addition of different things like bacon, tomatoes, broccoli, asparagus, spinach or peppers.

Gluten free quiche

For the pastry:

Ingredients:

7oz gluten free plain flour

4oz butter

1 egg yolk

Water

Pinch of salt

Method:

First, turn the oven on to 160° and grease a loose-bottomed cake tin around 9 inches across and a minimum of about 2 ½ inches deep. Weigh and sieve the flour into a large bowl add the salt, then weigh the butter and add to the bowl in small 1cm cubed chunks. Rub in the flour and butter until it reaches a breadcrumb-like consistency, then mix in the egg yolk – save the egg white as this can be used in the quiche filling. Then, gradually and very carefully add water until the pastry can be formed into a ball of dough. To make rolling the pastry out easier, I lay a sheet of clingfilm on the table, put the ball of pastry dough onto the clingfilm, then lay another sheet on top – this makes the process easier. Roll the pastry out to a thickness of about 3mm and when it is evenly rolled, peel the top sheet of cling off. Place the cake tin upside-down on the pastry, slide your hand under the clingfilm sheet, and flip so that the pastry is now lying on top of the dish. Gently push the pastry in and peel off the clingfilm – there will be breaks in the pastry but patch these up with the spare pastry. Once the tin is lined with the pastry, put it in the oven for 5 minutes.

For the filling:

Ingredients:

4 eggs (plus the white leftover from the pastry)

¼ pint of milk

¼ pint of cream

1 large onion

6 rashers of bacon

150-200g cheddar cheese

A handful of spinach

12 baby tomatoes

Salt and pepper

Gluten free quiche

When the pastry is put in the oven for 5 minutes, cut the onion and fry on a very low heat until they soften and at the same time, grill the bacon. In a jug, whisk the eggs, add in the milk and cream and add the salt and pepper until the mixture is creamy. Grate the cheese and pour it into the jug with the eggs mixture. When the pastry has had 5 minutes in the oven, take it out, and when the onions are soft and going se-through, take them off the heat and pour them in the bottom of the tin. Cut up the grilled bacon into small bits then add to the quiche, along with the tomatoes, chopped into ¼ s. Add the spinach, then finally pour over the eggs and cheese mixture and place back in the oven. It will take around 35 minutes and when it comes out, it should be golden brown on top but still slightly wobbly. Yuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuummm. 

Gluten free quiche

What’s all the fuss about quinoa?

Gluten free quinoa

I had tasted quinoa about a year ago in a salad – I liked it because of its nutty taste but I can’t say I was overwhelmed by it. I know it’s become quite a faddy thing recently with the rise of super foods and even gluten free diets becoming popular as a weight loss and healthy lifestyle method as opposed to just being for people who have severe dietary conditions. I don’t usually go in for these fad type things but I do like to try new things, especially if I think they can improve a gluten free diet. I’m not dismissing that quinoa is tasty and some people have genuinely taken on eating it for good now, I just think it has sprung up a little too quickly so I was a bit sceptical of it before I tried it again.

My mum had seen quinoa flour on the internet and she is always trying to buy new flours and gluten free products to help make my eating easier and more enjoyable. She bought a bag (a REALLY big bag) ready for me to try cooking with when I next visited home. All the recipes I had seen were more specialist things as I understood quinoa adds a distinct texture and flavour, so to use it as an addition as opposed to substitute flour. I decided to make quinoa pancakes as I had definitely seen recipes for these and it was a quick and easy thing to try out the flour with and it would give me an idea of the taste and texture of it for if I wanted to cook more with it. I measured ¼ pint of milk and the same volume of the quinoa flour with one egg and whisked. I cooked one just as you would with any other pancake in a frying pan – so far, everything seemed normal. When I tasted the pancake, I didn’t initially like it, however it had a nice, different after taste – as I said it was quite nutty. I decided that quinoa pancakes alone weren’t too great so experimented with the mixture, adding apricots to some, and raisins and almonds to the rest. These were better as they added much more to the pancakes and cut up the texture which was pretty dry. I had maple syrup with the almond and raisin ones which was lovely, however you wouldn’t want to eat too many of these pancakes as the dry texture could stick in your mouth. My mum suggested making savoury pancakes with quinoa flour such as corn fritters which I agreed would have been really nice, especially with bacon. I’m not sure that I’ll be having quinoa pancakes again, but I will definitely experiment with baking different things with the flour.

Quinoa

Gluten Free Lemon Drizzle Cake

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It was my Grandma’s 88th birthday yesterday so obviously, it was cake making time! I couldn’t decide between an amazing flourless rich chocolate cake I make, a cream and fruit cake, or lemon drizzle. In the end I decided I better go with which one I thought she’d appreciate most (although if I’d been making it for myself it would 100% have been the chocolate one) so I went with a gluten free lemon drizzle cake. The strong citrus taste gives it loads of flavour and the ‘drizzle’ part of it keeps it moist. Because the drizzle and icing are made from pure lemon juice, it tastes amazingly fresh and zingy unlike some synthetic overly-sweet lemon cakes you can buy in shops.

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For my Grandma’s birthday day out, we took her to the amazing cake shop in outside of Kingussie I mentioned before, The Potting Shed, so after we’d had cake there, my lemon cake seemed a bit redundant! But it was enjoyed anyway (I hope!)

The recipe I use for the main cake mixture is one I took from a basic fruit cake recipe I used to use when I worked in a coffee shop. It works really well for fruit cakes and more dense cakes you’d bake in a loaf tin and is less runny than a regular sponge cake mixture. I’ve changed it around a bit to suit being gluten free but I find it gives a great result as with the lemon drizzle cake, the lemon adds extra moisture, and if you were to use it as a fruit cake mixture the fruits in it provide the moisture.

Ingredients:

(For the cake mixture) –

1 un-waxed lemon

7oz self-raising gluten free flour

4oz margarine

4oz caster sugar

2 large eggs

(For the top)

1 un-waxed lemon

Roughly 1oz caster sugar

Roughly 3oz icing sugar

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Method:

Firstly, turn the oven on to 160°C, and line a loaf tin about 8X3 inches and 4 inches deep. Cream together the sugar and margarine with an electric whisk and then add in the flour. Add the rind of both of the lemons (the one for the top just needs the juice) to the mixture, then juice the lemon. Beat the eggs separately and add the lemon juice – add this to the main mixture and whisk until there are no lumps. Transfer the mixture to the loaf tin and bake for around 40 minutes. When the cake comes out it should be firm.

To make the ‘drizzle’ part of the cake, cut the remaining lemon in half and juice one half. Pour the juice into a small bowl and add some caster sugar. 1oz is a guide – probably about a tablespoon will do because you don’t want this mixture too thick. With a skewer or another long pointy utensil, stab holes in the top of the cake – probably about 8 – 10 evenly along it, however if the cake looks like it starts to crumble when the holes are poked in it, don’t add too many close together. Pour the lemon sugar mixture over the top of the cake, being careful to fill the small holes that have been made. The more holes that are made, the more moist the cake will be, but don’t push it because when you go to cut it into slices, it’ll just fall apart.

For the icing, juice the other half of the lemon and use the same bowl as the first lemon sugar mix. Gradually add the icing sugar until you have a white paste – if it doesn’t look like there will be enough lemon juice to make enough icing to spread on the whole cake, add a tiny bit of water although it is a shame to do this because it dilutes the taste. Remove the cake from the baking paper and place it on the plate it will be served on. Then generously smear the icing over the top – it will fall down the sides but I think this adds to it.

Enjoy!

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Gluten-Free Apple Crumble Recipe!

I love apple crumble so much. It is such a great dessert but I also have it just as a snack sometimes – probably not the most slimming food! Tonight I’ve actually made it just to have for supper, not as a dessert as I couldn’t be bothered to wait for after to eat it! It works quite well with gluten free flour, but I find it doesn’t go as crunchy as ‘normal’ stuff does. I like to put bits of butter in amongst the crumble and over the top as this can help it to get more brown and crunchy.

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Some people like to flavour their apples with spice – I’ve seen quite a lot that use cinnamon but I like to use cloves. To me cloves make things taste a bit like Christmas! There are loads of different variations to making apple crumble – ingredients, whether or not you cook the apples first, and how you make the topping. I don’t cook the apples first, especially for a gluten free crumble as it needs to cook for quite a long time to fully bake the topping (as with all gluten free baking, it tends to take longer to brown) so cooking it all for a longer time means the apples will naturally fully cook slowly. I add sugar in with the layers of apples so this creates a lovely syrup, which gets flavoured by the cloves I add.

For me, serving apple crumble with ice cream or pouring cream is a must – I love the cold of the ice cream against the hot apple crumble if it’s just out of the oven!

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Ingredients:

2 large cooking apples – (I use Bramleys)
1 tbsp light brown sugar
10 cloves
5oz plain gluten-free flour
3oz caster sugar (1tbsp of this is for the apples, the rest for the crumble)
3oz butter (cold, straight from the fridge)

Method:

First, prepare the apple base: peel the apples, and chop them into thin wedges around 2-3mm in thickness. Layer the apples neatly in a large dish around 8×8 inches and 2 inches deep, sprinkling on each of the caster and light brown sugar as you go with each layer, until all the apples are used. Place the cloves evenly on top of the apples.

To make the crumble, weigh the flour and remaining caster sugar and put them into a mixing bowl. Take the butter and cut it up into small chunks and add this into the bowl also. With your hands, rub the butter into the powder mixture – this might feel a little greasy on your hands – keep going until the mixture has the texture of breadcrumbs.

Carefully pour the crumble on top of the apples, making sure no apples are left exposed, as if they are, they’ll burn and become very dry in the oven. Cut small chunks of butter and put them among the crumble, half exposed as this will add colour to the dish.

Enjoy!

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Gluten free in Glasgow – Little Italy

Little Italy – Byres Road

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As I live in Glasgow’s West End, I’d been wanting to go to this great looking Italian restaurant/pizza bar for quite a while as I had heard they do gluten free pizzas, but every time I thought about going it was too late or something else got in the way. So this morning my boyfriend Rossi and I decided to go there for lunch, as we thought it would be easy enough to get a table – even though it’s the weekend it’s still only lunch time. We got there to find the place jam-packed with people – it was a lovely atmosphere with loads of people crowded into a small place which for me is always a good sign as you know the food is obviously sought after! We decided it would be easier just to get pizza to go as we could have been waiting for quite some time for a table and we were super hungry. So I ordered a small ham and pineapple pizza (my favourite) and Rossi ordered a plain cheese and tomato large pizza and together they came to £15 which I thought was pretty good, as from a big chain like Domino’s or Pizza Hut you’d probably pay that amount for just one pizza. As we waited for our pizzas to be made, we could watch the guys freshly making the pizzas which slightly worried me as I couldn’t see a clear separate area for the gluten free pizzas. We got our pizzas after waiting about 10 minutes which I’m sure within that time at least one table would have become free but never mind, we went home and started to eat our pizzas. They were really good and my boyfriend (who is part Italian) said it was probably one of the best pizzas he’d had outside of Italy. Mine was pretty great too, apart from they’d forgotten to put the ham on but luckily I had some at home so was able to just add it myself. I would definitely go there again, but next time hope to get a table, the price was very reasonable and it’s great to know you’re getting fresh, hand-made quality gluten free food!

http://www.littleitalyglasgow.com/index.html

Gluten free chocolate chip cookies recipe!

These are probably the best gluten free chocolate chip cookies I’ve had – they’re so simple to make and they are amazing warm straight out of the oven. For me, foods with chocolate in is quite difficult and adds another factor to me finding foods I can eat because I’m allergic to soya, and it just so happens that practically all chocolate you can pick up in a supermarket will have soya lecithin in as an emulsifier. If I am desperate to get some soya free chocolate I will go to a health food or organic shop as most will stock some varieties of chocolate which don’t contain soya (sometimes the dairy free options), but if I’m honest, I usually just buy regular and put up with the effect as I’m not too badly allergic – however saying this I only have chocolate on rare occasions. You can alter the amount of chocolate in this recipe if you don’t want them too sweet, or if you want them super chocolatey you can add in a tablespoon of chocolate powder.

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Ingredients:

5oz caster sugar
4oz light brown sugar
9oz gluten free self-raising flour
5oz butter
4oz white chocolate
4oz milk chocolate
vanilla essence

Method:

Pre-heat the oven to 180 Measure out the butter into a bowl, and put this bowl in the microwave for about 10 seconds, just to loosen the butter up a bit. Now cream together both the types of sugar with the butter until completely mixed. Gradually add in the flour, and then add the beaten egg. Cut up the chocolate roughly and add it in. Roll small balls of the mixture about the size of a ping pong ball and place them spaced evenly on a tray with baking paper on – you will probably need 4 or 5 trays for this amount of mixture but they cook so quickly you can re-use the trays. I like to put a block of chocolate on top of each cookie too. Cook each batch for about 8 minutes. Serve warm for an extra specially magic taste!

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