Christmas

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’:
christmas-meal

  • 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:
  • the potatoes: just occasionally, I hear of people who toss par-boiled potatoes in flour before roasting, in order to make them crispy. If you must do this, obviously, you should be using a gluten free flour.

You’re unlikely to come a cropper with the cranberry sauce, bacon or vegetables, unless you’re using an unusual recipe. Meat, fruit, and vegetables themselves are gluten free, but battered or breaded vegetables are unlikely to be – unless you’ve made them yourself. Traditionally, though, vegetables at Christmas are simply cooked.

Since many in our Christmas group don’t eat meat, we’ll be coming up with a vegetarian alternative. I’m just not sure what it will be yet…

A gluten free Christmas: Day 16

buche-de-noelHow about a gluten free Buche de Noel, or Yule Log?

This is a French tradition, and for those people who aren’t really into dense fruit cakes – the traditional English Christmas Cake – an ideal alternative. These are chocolate flavour, but often include intense chestnut flavours too.

Do go over to Tastespotting, to see a selection of beautiful photos of Buches de Noel.

Here’s a recipe from Dietary Specials using their gluten free chocolate cake mix, but for people who prefer to cook from scratch, here are some more complex recipes:

But I think this, from Gluten a Go Go, has got to be the winner: do go and admire – it is beautiful, chestnut and chocolate with marzipan mushrooms.

Look how many classic Christmas flavours these recipes manage to amass between them: chocolate, chestnut, walnut, hazelnut, oranges and marzipan. Yum… Go on, give it a try; don’t hold back, because the lumpier and bumpier it is, the more it will look like a log. (That’s my kind of cooking).

A gluten free Christmas: Day 15

My coeliac daughter spent Sunday afternoon making gluten free chocolate truffles as Christmas gifts for her friends; she made some of them dairy free, as well.

chocolateIt’s always nice to have a few sweet treats around at Christmas, so here’s the recipe for you – and it is easy-peasy:

Gluten Free Chocolate Truffles

100g (or 4oz) of chocolate (check it is gluten free – and use dairy free if necessary)
25g (or 1oz) of butter
25g (or 1oz) of icing sugar (I think this is called confectioner’s sugar in the US)
50g (or 2oz) of crumbled gluten free chocolate cake (again, use dairy free cake if needed)
4 tablespoons of chocolate sugar strands (we used Supercook’s: do check that they are gluten free)
some small, pretty, paper cases

  • Melt the chocolate and butter together
  • Sift the icing sugar into the mix
  • Add the cake crumbs and stir well
  • Let it cool
  • Spread the chocolate sugar strands on a plate
  • Scoop up a spoonful of the mixture and roll it into a ball in the sugar strands. It should end up coated in them.
  • Pop the ball into a paper case
  • Make more!

Pop them into the fridge to chill – and store them in an airtight container in the fridge. Eat them within about 5 days.

She put a few into a pretty box for each friend, and wrapped the box in ribbon. Lovely!

A gluten free Christmas: Day 14

Are you thinking of sending someone a gluten free Christmas hamper this year?

It’s not too late.

christmas-baublesGoodness Direct are offering a self-select gluten free Christmas Hamper. Choose from a range of different items depending on what you think the recipient might like, and what you want to spend. Options include chocolate, truffles, tea, coffee, pasta, biscuits, fruits, mince pies, brownies, jams or nuts, and a range of different boxes or bags to put it all in. (Do be careful to check that your chosen items are gluten free not just wheat free).

The Village Bakery have a range of different gluten free Christmas hampers (or “box full’s”).

Ripe Gifts (new to me) have a range of unusual gluten free hampers, including a vegetarian ginger-lover’s hamper, which looks particularly delicious, or a honey hamper.

Or need one that is both gluten free and vegetarian? Try JustHampers, whose gluten free vegetarian hamper includes olives, feta pate, chipotle chilli jam, pear and ginger chutney…

And Gifting Direct (aff) have a wide range of gluten free hampers – and their gluten free Christmas hamper is on special offer at the moment.

I fancy either the ginger hamper from Ripe Gifts, or a pick-your-own hamper from Goodness Direct. What would you choose?

A gluten free Christmas: Day 13

Sweet yeast breads are often associated with religious festivals; think of the hot cross buns we devour here in the UK at Easter. At Christmas, our European friends enjoy this kind of bread, while our special treats tend to be based on mincemeat; here are two examples of Christmas sweet breads: panettone and stollen.

Panettone

schar panettone
For many people, whether from Italy or not, pannetone is a vital part of the Christmas tradition.

Panettone is a sweet yeast bread, made in a special tall mould or deep cake tin, and seems to provoke love/hate reactions (rather like Marmite!). It usually looks beautiful, studded with candied or dried fruits, and I think needs to be drunk with a sherry or dessert wine to bring out the flavours, though some people like it with mascarpone. Perhaps both would be ideal? (Now there’s an idea).

Schaer have been producing a gluten free panettone for a few years now – in two varieties, one with and one without chocolate chips – and the plain version is available in Sainsbury’s. Yes, we’ve bought one. (Note: this one is also free from lactose).

I’m interested that Schaer have made one with chocolate chips, and not with dried fruits, because I thought the traditional panettone have fruit in them. But I’ve never seen their chocolate chip one on a Sainsbury’s shelf.

If you don’t want to trek to Sainsbury’s (the only place I’ve seen gluten free panettone this year) then here are a couple of recipes for you to try. No guarantees, because gluten free yeast cooking is tricky, in my view, but these look good to me:

Stollen

schar-stollenAnd how about stollen? Another sweet yeast bread, this time from Germany, and again, this is a significant part of the Christmas tradition. This one too, is made with candied or dried fruit, nuts and spices, and often with marzipan too (we love marzipan here).

I haven’t found anywhere to buy gluten free stollen this year, so here are a couple of recipes for you to try – interestingly, all from gluten free manufacturers:

For those other marzipan fiends out there, the Schar recipe shows you how to add in the marzipan…