Sunday, 27 May 2012

The gluten free italian cooking course

Senza Glutine!

I was lucky to get a space on the first gluten free Italian cooking course in the UK, last Monday the 21st May.  The school is a 5-minute walk from Bond street and is behind the restaurant of the same name La Cucina Caldesi.  I arrived just before 10am and joined the rest of the group for coffee in the restaurant, there were 6 of us, 5 women and 1 guy and they were all really nice.  Just after 10 we were called into the class to begin learning!  Our teacher was Adriana Rabionovich who teaches gluten free cooking courses at Leith’s and at the Waitrose cookery school and has authored the book GlutenFree4Kids.  We all donned our plastic aprons and met the rest of the team Lucia and a very friendly guy making sauces for our pasta whose name escapes me!  Giancarlo (the owner) also came in to say hi.  Adriana started making white bread dough, we watched and then worked in pairs to make our own, this took a long time!  Partly because we were getting started but partly because it takes a long time to get the dough at the right consistency and apparently by hand is the only way!  We then watched the sauces being made, 3 recipes, a sausage ragu, pesto and a cherry tomato sauce all of which looked yummy. 

After that we started on the pasta dough, we were short on eggs so one of the team went off in search of more, Adriana again demonstrated the method for the two different pasta’s buckwheat and polenta based, we then gave them ago in teams of two again, then came the fun bit, rolling the dough through the pasta machine to get it as thin as possible before cutting into tagliatelle and laying them out to dry a little, by this time it was past midday so we pleaded for a food break, we sat down and had some of the bread that had recently come out of the oven which was delicious.  Then it was back to it, we made short crust pastry next, the recipe was different from others I have tried and I learned a new technique on the day, they were then put in the fridge to rest.  Next up Pizza dough, this recipe was really easy and was one of the ones I was looking forward to the most; we rolled out the dough and got the bases in the oven to precook.  By this time it was 3pm!  And we were all flagging so we stopped for lunch, our pasta was cooked up with the different sauces, it was all delicious, I haven’t ever had fresh pasta and I was gobsmacked at how light, soft and delicious it was, helped along by the sauces, the sausage ragu was amazing and my favourite.  We had more bread along with our lunch and kept it quite brief as we had more to do!  After lunch we rolled out our pastry into tartlet tins ready to bake and our pizza bases came out of the oven.  It was basically 4pm by this time which was when the course was supposed to finish, we hadn’t managed to make the foccacia bread or the amaretti biscuits, I hung around until 4.30 but had to leave to pick my son up from nursery.  I didn’t therefore get to taste the pastry we had made but some of my fellow classmates tweeted some amazing pictures and have told me it was delicious, I have the recipe and intend to use it.

I really enjoyed the course, nice people, good teacher, great location and class environment.  Not as relaxed as some I have been on but I think there was just too much to get through in the time and as it’s the first one the course may well change in format and number of dishes.

Overall if you get to go on this course you wont regret it, bring on the gluten free carbs!

I brought home some of the goods and Jules agreed it was all delicious.

Allergy show 2012

I was really looking forward to this years allergy show, I could see some great producers were showing and the ratio of food seemed to be larger than the previous time I went (which was albeit a few years ago).  I had also arranged to meet up with some fellow bloggers so that was another highlight so hang out with some fellow Coeliacs and compare notes. 

So after coffee and a catch up I started to explore the various stalls, M&S and Tesco had very large stalls, there were samples to be had everywhere but I tried to limit myself only to the food I hadn’t tried before.  Sainsbury’s had a large demo area but I didn’t stop to watch any so I can’t tell you if they were any good!  So to the highlights, for me there were a few, Fria Gluten free, a very nice lady called Monica joined our blogger meet up, nice to see someone actually engage with this thriving community of ours, so we definitely knew we had to swing by her place, the bread samples were really good as was a chocolate cake they had out so that one has to be the best bread sample on the day.  I also checked out sweetcheeks and bought a box of cupcakes and donuts, I will review these separately on the blog but they were nice but slightly sugary to my taste.  A new brand debuting at the show called ‘Perkier’ they were selling cake pops along with bread, the staff were really friendly, telling me a lot about the brand, the sample was yummy and so I bought two to take home.  They were really good fudgy chocolate brownie cake pops and so I really hope they do well and get stocked by some big retailers.  I had some samples from Steph’s kitchen, which were really good, but I decided against buying yet more cakes as they were quite big and I had already bought quite a few, I will however buy one online at a later date and review. I had some yummy samosas for lunch from an Indian outfit based in Birmingham called afias.  It was also rammed!  The place was so busy I was shuffling through the aisles’ trying to get to the stalls, maybe that’s a sign to the organisers to do an extra day or something!  It was a great day and I discovered some great brands, definitely worth going again next year.

Thursday, 10 May 2012

Gluten free cake stop in Brighton at Cloud 9

I went to Brighton last weekend for my birthday and of course wanted to find some nice gluten free cake to celebrate the occasion.

One of my fellow gluten free tweeters directed me to Cloud 9, a little cake shop and it also came up a few times when I was researching my trip to Brighton, it was very near the place we had gone for afternoon tea (food for friends) earlier and I now wish we had come to this place instead! It's a really nice little shop tucked around the corner in the lanes, they sell cakes, ice cream and do celebration cakes to order.  It’s only small but has a couple of tables and nice big opulent looking chairs so you can eat in.  

I dashed in and was delighted to see two stands of glorious cakes were gluten free. I didn't have to spend long considering before I went for the Belgian brownie cheesecake slab which is labelled as gluten wise which means (gluten free) I knew Jools was only getting a bite of this one so I also picked up a rather fabulous looking Oreo cupcake for him.  Then off we went for more fun on the pebbly beach. When we got home later that evening, I was looking forward to my cheesecake for dessert, I wasn't disappointed, it was scrumptious, it was very much like an American cheesecake in that it didn't have much of a base to speak of, it had a lovely creamy cheesy texture with a hint of salted caramel and chocolate running through it.  It was much yummier than the cake I had round the corner at food for friends and Jools agrees, I know where I am coming back to for a cake stop next time we are in Brighton!

Belgian brownie cheesecake slab - 9/10 - on cloud 9 with this delight

Verified by Jools