Olympic Fever

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So it seems after all the rain moaning in my salsa cat post, the weather has taken a thankful turn for a while; my blog, ladles and jellyspoons, has much power! Even though this country is not accustomed to the ole air conditioning side of things, there is no way I am going to complain about the heat. It really is glorious. I just need to buy a paddling pool for temporary usage.

Now. The Olympics has started. Don’t worry I’m not one of those super patriotic sports fans so I won’t go on for ages about how it’s amazing it’s in our country and everything. One thing I will say though is, that I’m glad it’s become another excuse to get us Brits happy in one way or another. My idea of happiness, as you can imagine, is food. To top that would be to also meet with a select few of my best friends and to share food and be merry. Nothing in the world can be better than that for me, unless you transport us all to a lovely beach in the Maldives. With the food.

So I’d rather use the Olympics as an excuse to eat more. Go figure. Here’s two ideas;

An example of an Olympics = food+ happiness event is at the Townhouse Bar and Kitchen in Bristol. (They are very gluten free friendly!) Their food is also tremendous; I shall review for you next month.

They’re launching an Olympics promotion on Tuesday the 31st July (they’re closed for painting on Monday 30th) which will run across lunch only, for the duration of the games.

It kicks off at midday every week day:

First 10 people in get gold – 3 courses for £3
Next 10 in get silver – 3 courses for £5
Next 10 in get bronze – 3 courses for £8

It is only on the set lunch menu only (usually 3 courses for £10) and no reservations can be taken but maybe the thought of ‘racing to get food’ instead of watching people race sounds a bit more like your kinda thing?

 Perhaps you’d also like to bake a gluten free cake? Insert my solution.

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It’s not in anyway Olympic themed, but I feel it’s a recipe that can be made quite easily to make for a group of friends and in this troubling heat. A perfect afternoon tea cake to enjoy with an iced tea in the garden or an alcoholic beverage if you’d prefer. ;)

White chocolate and rosemary is simply a delicious combination, and if you’ve ever enjoyed a rosemary cake before- this is a real treat. I’ve used yoghurt instead of milk to provide a bit of a sour note- there is a lot of sweetness from the white chocolate and sugar so if you’d rather balance it a bit I’d recommend using the yoghurt; it also gives it a dense, almost doughy texture which is nice to break apart and dip into the icing sugar.

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White Chocolate and Rosemary Maderia Loaf

225g butter, softened

200g caster sugar

4 eggs

175g Gluten Free Plain Flour

25g Ground Almonds

2tsp of Xanthan Gum

2 tsp baking powder

50ml Plain Yoghurt or 50ml of Milk

80g White chocolate chopped

1 Tablespoon of chopped Rosemary.

Icing Sugar to dust (Optional)

Preheat the oven to 180°C.

Butter the sides of a loaf tin and grease well with butter.

Cream the butter in a large bowl or in an electric food mixer until soft then add the sugar and beat until the mixture is light.

Gradually add the eggs and beating all the time.

Sift in the flour, almond flour, Xanthan gum, Baking powder, Yoghurt and fold in  slowly with a spatula.

Fold in the chopped White Chocolate and Rosemary.

Place the mixture into the loaf tin

Bake in the oven for 45 minutes – 60 minutes, until a toothpick comes out clean. Keep an eye on it!

Turn the cake out and leave to cool.

Dust with icing sugar.

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So don’t hate the Olympics, embrace the food opportunities and excuses to indulge. Much better ;)

Salsa Cat

Yesterday was the turning point. I’m sick of the rain. Now, don’t get me wrong, i love every excuse to sit in my cosy flat with my Minnie Mouse pyjamas on, wrapped in a blanket whilst watching re-runs of American sitcoms; but it’s got to the point where i am never leaving my house due to an addiction to sugar. Preferably in the cake form.

Rob came home from work and we both looked at each other and just moaned about how we wish we could escape right now on our holiday to Spain; we have 5 weeks to go and the waiting mood is not looking good. We’d planned to just do another carb to go with our fishcakes, or creamed spinach with cumin. God i love that. Rob paused and thought. Salsa.

I didn’t feel like dancing. Rob had to instantly correct me and ensure me that it was the edible kind. Why does my mind always go to dancing or maracas?

So last night we finely chopped up and mixed the following, but feel free to go crazy. (I made more the following day and just used what we had left in the fridge)

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 I present to you our Bright-eyed Salsa.

This will last you a good 3 main meals as a side, or 3 lunches for 1 person.

1 Green Pepper
1 Yellow Pepper
1 Orange Pepper
1 Carrot
5 Spring Onions
1/2 a Cucumber
1 Red Chilli (without the seeds)
3 Tomatoes or a medium punnet of baby plum tomatoes
Garlic Oil
Juice of 1 lemon
Teaspoon of Red wine Vinegar
Black Pepper

For days when you need a boost to become a bit more sprightly,  just like our Ashy :)

Foodie outings: Harveys Cellars Review

I’ve been going on a lot of foodie outings recently and it just feels wrong to neglect any mention of them on my blog. Eating out is something we all love to do, but sometimes you don’t get to hear much from an allergen perspective in the newspapers, so i think it’s nice to read Gluten free/ allergy sufferers opinions on their blogs as our dining experience can be much more different to others.

My first outing would be to meet some of Bristol’s finest foodie bloggers (i’ll do a post about them soon ;). ‘Harvey Cellars’ in Bristol City Center is a wonderful little place when you arrive, it’s like an Aladdin’s cave for funky decor. Some people hate the sound of blue LED lighting and fairy lights but let me tell you, i was in love with these touches in the Music room space. It made me want to boogie with maracas. It just has a good vibe, not pretentious in any way but lovely and inviting. With mingling, snacking and drinking to do, it was the ideal venue for this evening’s antics.

Tapas the Gluten free saviour.

Harveys has had a complete menu revamp, so we were able to taste from their new Tapas menu. I’m a huge Tapas fan. Sometimes a tapas place can really save the gluten intolerant food spot search. So our evening started with our amazing waiter/barman/sherry expert extraordinaire Dutch who took us through the menu, another blogger was also gluten intolerant and he was happy to take us through the menu and offer any recommendations and even though the menu states ‘Gluten Free’ next to each item, it was nice to have it confirmed in person as well.

I ordered the Chorizo with Honey and Saffron, Chicken Pinchitos with Aioli and the Asparagus dressed with Olive Oil and Parmesan. The low lighting was difficult to produce any enticing photographs but it was all very yummy to look at.

The Chorizo had this really lovely blend of sweet fragrant flavours enhanced from the saffron and it was a delight to eat- i could have finished that sauce with lots of bread till there was not a drip left. So my only criticism really, was the lack of Gluten Free bread! This would have really put it up there for me as one of the best gluten free aware places in Bristol. I did speak to Dutch about the possibility of getting Gluten free bread in and it definitely seems like this is something in their minds so i hope they do!

The Chicken Pinchitos with Aioli i found a bit small- but maybe it’s because they were so yummy and i’m greedy; they are definitely worth a taste anyway for the tenderness. The Asparagus was a fresh way to end the meal for me, i like to put a vegetable somewhere in my meal to break it up (and feel less guilty) although i felt their wasn’t enough Parmesan for me to really taste with every part of the stalks which was a bit of a shame.

Dutch also kindly took us through a very informative sherry tasting throughout the night. I would recite back to you some facts but i’m afraid i think the sherry kicked in a bit too early to remember ;) He also likes to set things on fire:

But seriously this guy knows his stuff and he really is a great host- i mean he offers free hugs! Seriously. So if you’re looking for a place to go with a big group or to celebrate i couldn’t recommend more highly Dutch and his sherry tastings.

It’s these kinds of nights that you remember because of the laughter, the food and the company. Harveys has really found itself with the Tapas menu and providing the ultimate type of atmosphere to accompany it. Bring your gluten intolerant and alcoholic friends pronto.

Gluten Free Lemon Berry & Tea Frosted Cake

Vitali-tea

In tea we trust. (I should get a T-Shirt)

It was only a matter of time before I blogged about tea again but I’m really not kidding when I say tea is a godsend.

There is one thing about tea that will always be true: it cures. Whether it’s drinking a cup of Black Tea (Bristol Brew for me please) to cheer you up or a herbal infusion to aid the stomach or help that sore throat.

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I brought this tea called ‘Vitality’ from a little lady on a market stall in Paris, she had a range of tea’s all laid out that she’d made herself from dried fruit. Vitality was a blend of blackcurrant, blueberry and vanilla and the taste is so powerful with even the lightest brew. Sometimes I buy those raspberry Twinning’s teas and there really isn’t much flavour there at all. So ‘Vitality’ has been my fruity herbal tea of choice but being only a small packet- I have to use it sparingly. Oooor consider going all the way back to Paris for it, which I’m not really against.

I hate using food colouring and it’s totally unnecessary. There are so many edible substances like Blueberries and Raspberries on this earth that boast such beautiful colours of which their juice would light up some icing in one hit.

So on this next cake, I used my vitality tea to brighten the icing on this cake. Genius.

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I really love old fashioned looking cakes. The single layer pound cakes with lots of raisins and dried fruits in and then drenched with sticky icing. Today was a day for sticky icing. Don’t you sometimes get those sticky icing moments? Although I love buttercream and whipped frosting, I find that sometimes it takes over the actual cake flavour sometimes.

This cake is all about the buttery lemon flavour, which combines with the berry icing so well. Unlike a lemon drizzle cake, the icing isn’t too sharp and there’s a subtle hint of something more fragrant.

It’s the kinda cake that you wouldn’t need cream with but you have it anyway.  It’s also the kind of acceptable cake to serve your grandma for afternoon tea. Traditional but different. Just how I like it.

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LEMON-BERRY & TEA FROSTED CAKE

250g of butter
250g of caster sugar
3 large eggs
100g of  Roughly Chopped dried cranberries and blueberries
50g of ground almonds, sifted.
A lemon
100g of Gluten Free plain flour, sifted.

1 ½ teaspoons of Baking Powder

1tsp of Xanthan gum

Icing:
100g of icing sugar
1 tbsp of lemon juice

1 tbsp of berry tea infused

Lemon Zest

Preheat the oven to 160° C.

Grease and line the bottom of a non-stick 24cm cake tin

(You can use a 22cm tin but I like the old fashioned flat cake look, just add on 10 minutes onto the cooking time).

Cream the butter and sugar until very light and fluffy by hand or in a mixer.

Add the eggs one at a time, beating between adding each egg.

Add the roughly chopped berries to the butter, sugar and eggs.

Add the zest and the juice of the lemon and, finally, fold in the flour along with the almonds.

Pour the mixture into the tin and bake for 40 minutes, covering the top lightly with foil for the final ten minutes.

Check that the cake is done by inserting a skewer, it should come out quite clean with no wet mixture stuck to it. Leave it to cool in the tin before turning out.

Make the icing by firstly infusing your berry tea until medium strength- taste the tea to make sure it is not bitter and too strong. Try not to use boiling water but warm water when infusing to avoid bitter leaves.

Mix the icing sugar and lemon juice together until smooth and then add bit by bit a tablespoon of the tea.

Pour the icing over the cake- this isn’t a matter of being neat and tidy, the drips over the edges is what you want.

If you have any blueberries or leftover dried fruit use a few to decorate the cake.

Grate over the zest of half a lemon for a fragrant finish.

Leave the icing to set and then serve and enjoy.

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