A gluten free Christmas: Day 21

Children off school for the Christmas holidays now?

nativity-sceneMine are. And I’m going to set them to work making a gluten free gingerbread nativity scene. We’ve done this for a couple of years now, and the results (while not always perfect) have a naive charm all their own and make the house smell absolutely wonderful.

It’s an excellent activity that takes up much of an afternoon, what with the mixing, the rolling, the cutting out, the decorating and the sticking together… the washing up can often take a while too!

Last time I posted about this, I couldn’t find any nativity scene cutters available any more in the UK, but I’ve noticed at least two sources recently. One is via Cakes Cookies and Crafts, where the set costs £10.99 + postage; the other is via Lakeland (though I have a feeling they may be out of stock, as I can’t see them this morning).

And if today is too late to buy online, or even to nip down to Lakeland to see what they have in stock, you could try drawing the shapes onto paper, and creating templates to cut the gingerbread to shape – just remember to keep it simple, with no narrow arms/legs or necks, because those are the bits that break…

Or, you could create salt dough Christmas shapes to decorate your house or tree. There’s a recipe available here for microwaveable salt dough figures (for quick drying), or for air-drying salt dough figures here, but remember that if there’s any risk that your child will eat the dough (or lick their fingers) then you should make it gluten free – even if salt […]

A gluten free Christmas: Day 20

What are you going to have for a celebratory Christmas breakfast?

When we get together for a big family Christmas (expecting 25 this year), we often have a glass of Buck’s Fizz (fizzy wine and orange juice) and croissants – with extra cereals/toast available for those who are hungry!

celebrationOn Boxing Day, we’ll be having a bigger brunch, which will probably include:

  • scrambled eggs
  • smoked salmon
  • kedgeree
  • sausages
  • bacon
  • baked beans
  • mushrooms
  • tomatoes
  • scotch pancakes
  • waffles and maple syrup

This way, the vegetarians, the pescatarians and the full English breakfast fans can all find something they can eat. No vegans in our family – yet.

Those living gluten free will also be able to eat this, because we’ll make sure that the gluten traps – the croissants, the sausages, the baked beans, the scotch pancakes and the waffles – will all be gluten free. Many things on the list are naturally gluten free (salmon, eggs, vegetables, maple syrup). For those that are not, here are our alternative plans:

A gluten free Christmas: Day 19

I talked about ‘the trimmings’ that go with turkey a couple of days ago; but what about the ‘trimmings’ that go with mince pies or Christmas pudding?

custardThese could be:

  • brandy butter
  • custard
  • cream

Cream, whether single, double, whipped, sour (!) or pouring is naturally gluten free, so unless you’re adding something very odd indeed, this should be fine.

Brandy butter should just be butter, sugar and brandy, though if you’re buying ready-made, do check the ingredients because as we know, manufacturers do tend to add flour to the oddest things. Brandy, incidentally, is gluten free (unless something is added post distillation). I always make ours, and I do it by eye (and taste), not by measure, so here are a couple of proper recipes for you. Interestingly, both use brown sugar where I use icing sugar (confectioners’ sugar) so I might try it with brown sugar this year:

Custard may be more risky. Traditionally, this is made using cornflour (see Mary Berry’s recipe for custard), and it is surprisingly easy to do, though I confess that when I make custard I omit the cream… If you’re buying custard, do check just in case. If you’re in the UK, then you can rely on Ambrosia and Bird’s.

Another option is to use a good thick yoghurt, probably Greek. And Greek yoghurt is available at 0% fat, if you’re trying to monitor such things over Christmas…

A gluten free Christmas: Day 18

It’s not too late for those last-minute orders from Amazon!

Here are 5 (+1, because I couldn’t resist) gluten free cookery books that I can recommend – or that I’d like to receive!

  • Phil Vickery’s book is one that I own – it’s full of ideas and delicious food. Oddly, I came across Phil’s cooking site the other day as part of my work reviewing corporate websites – he runs a cooking academy site for Aldi.
  • Don’t you yearn for the cakes on the cover of this Flying Apron book? So beautiful…
  • The Gluten Free Girl book from Shauna James Ahern is a must for anyone who is a regular reader of her blog
  • The Gluten Free Vegan would be invaluable since we regularly cook vegetarian – both gluten free and dairy free – and although I’m all too familiar with the gluten free aspect, I’m still learning on the dairy free side…
  • Carol Fenster is a very well known name in the gluten free world; in fact, I ran an interview post with her a while back… This is a book I’d like to own – it is likely to be American-oriented in its instructions and ingredients, but I’m sure we could deal with that, and ‘translate’ the recipes (not hard!)
  • And the Gluten Free Cookbook for Kids looks good too – not just cookies and muffins, but some savoury dishes as well.

A gluten free Christmas: Day 17

Today’s thought is about ‘all the trimmings’. Here in the UK – and maybe wherever you are – the traditional Christmas meal involves a roasted bird (turkey or goose, usually) and ‘all the trimmings’:

  • stuffing – usually chestnut, sausagemeat or herb and onion
  • bread sauce
  • cranberry sauce
  • gravy
  • sausages
  • bacon – either around the sausages or draped on the bird
  • roast potatoes
  • vegetables – usually the annual outing for the Brussels sprouts, and always parsnips

Where are the gluten traps in this meal? You’ll need to consider all the following:

  • the stuffing: you’ll probably need to make this yourself, though it is possible to buy packet gluten free stuffing (Goodness Direct offer AllergyCare and Barkat stuffing mixes). As a rule, though, stuffing is made with breadcrumbs, so just replace the bread with gluten free bread… Here are a couple of recipes to try:
  • the bread sauce: you’ll need to make this yourself, if you really want it. I’ve done it, and it’s easy enough, though I don’t see the point of bread sauce myself – though the spices smell good. Anyway, here’s a recipe for you: gluten free bread sauce from Genius
  • the gravy: homemade gravy will be OK if you use gluten free flour to thicken it; packet gravy, however, is risky. Read the label.
  • the sausages: unless your sausages are extremely high quality, or marketed as gluten free, these are high risk. Check, check and check again. Try: