Gluten Free Finds

Go Free Food

We were delighted to receive a parcel recently from Go Free Foods containing beautifully presented samples of their products: chocolate brownies and macaroons.

Go Free is a relatively new company, started only last year, but is already having great success; the chocolate brownies won an award at the Free From Foods Awards earlier this month. This is a triumph for Charlotte, who runs the company: congratulations!

And the brownies are, undeniably, excellent (my daughter loved them). In my view, though, the macaroons are even better: soft and moist, just as I like them. Note that all the Go Free products contain almonds, so if you’re not an almond fan, these aren’t for you. But if you like almonds, you’ll really enjoy these goodies.

Go Free have a new website up, and you can order from there. It’s worth visiting, just to admire the photos of the cakes, which look just as good as they taste.

As well as running her gluten free business, Charlotte writes a free from blog at the Hello Magazine site. Not only that (wow, she’s a busy woman) she’ll be cooking live at the Allergy Show at the beginning of May. This is a 3-day event at Kensington Olympia (6-8 May), and she’ll be cooking at 14:45 on Sunday the 8th.

Do go and check out both her sites, and if you’ve tried the Go Free products, do let us know what you think.

Gluten Free Chocolate Eclairs

When I look back over the last 13 years, it’s clear that the range and availability of gluten free products has improved enormously.

Here’s an example: we recently received a box of new products from Floris Foods, including some excellent gluten free chocolate eclairs.

Now my daughter has never had a chocolate eclair before, though she’s watched her siblings enjoy a ‘normal’ version of these. And – as many of you know – it isn’t fun to watch your child putting on a brave face when unable to join in a simple pleasure. And while I’m a decent plain cook, gluten free choux pastry is outside my range. I have tried!

So I was absolutely delighted to be able to offer her something that looked the same as the others had. And, even better, she thought they were fab.

What a find! Thank you!

And it just shows how much things have moved on. I would never have imagined, a dozen years ago when I was ‘faking’ tinned spaghetti so she didn’t feel different from the other children in nursery, that this kind of treat would be available in the future. Nor can I imagine what it was like before we joined the coeliac clan back in 1997, when there was even less available…

I’ve mentioned FlorisFoods before; if you haven’t checked them out yet, then do, because they have some delicious things. (Hint: the Cacao Squares bag was empty, leaving just crumbs, within minutes. The culprit? My daughter! And the Macaroons are just amazing: soft and chewy… )

Gluten Free Food – Cheaper

Do you know about this?

Approved Food sell clearance foodstuffs that are short dated, past their ‘best before’ date (but never the ‘use by’ date) and in date. Some of the lines are discontinued, in older packaging, trial lines and lines from discounted manufacturers. If you’re the kind of person who checks the discount shelving in the supermarket – and let’s face it, that’s pretty much all of us these days – you might find it useful. Plus: they sometimes have branded gluten free products.

Because of the short timescales, there’s no guarantee of what will be there from day to day. But today, there are some well known gluten free ranges, notably Baker’s Delight and a deidentified supermarket range (if you’ve been into the supermarket, you’ll know whose it is).

Here’s a screenshot of the gluten free page. Of course, they do sell staples that are naturally gluten free, such as rice, so don’t forget about these other items. This page is for dedicated gluten free foods. Note that I’ve ticked the box for ‘in-date’ foods only, so there might be more options that are just past their sell-by date. For more information on use-by and best-by dates, see the Food Standards Agency’s Eat Well site.

Now, I haven’t ordered from this company yet, so I can’t confirm their service, but I am subscribed to their newsletter, and do check the site regularly. This might be the first week I do place an order, as there isn’t always gluten free food available.

What do you think about this kind of clearance shopping? This is a UK based company – are there equivalents where you are?

Eating Gluten Free with Italian Style

Do you love Italian food?

are a new family-run business, based in London, with some very tasty products for you to explore and enjoy. Gemma Calia kindly sent a delightful package of goodies for us to try…

morsettiFloris Foods is a shop full of unusual gluten free and wheat free products, both savoury and sweet. Some are very familiar – restaurant staples here in the UK now, such as lasagne, cheesecake, tiramisu and profiteroles, though these are not usually available gluten free – and some are intriguingly new (to us, at least).

Looking at the website, my daughter was immediately taken with the idea of the profiteroles. Our other daughter (non-coeliac) dearly loves profiteroles, and our coeliac daughter looks with envy at her bowls of pastry, cream and chocolate…

Unexpectedly, though, these much desired items didn’t prove to be her favourite. Funny how that works, isn’t it? I think the cream was too sweet for her taste. Each to their own; I just know some of you will love these.

No: she really enjoyed the savoury items, especially the panzerottini and the quiche.

panzerottiniThe quiche got a significant thumbs up, especially the nice short pastry, which has a lovely texture (and she particularly liked the smoked bacon version) while the panzerottini disappeared very quickly indeed – she even chose to eat these for breakfast. Look at the picture: you can see these are tiny little packets of pastry, filled with different savoury mixes.

I really liked the biscottini di Anna, and the morsetti al cacao e cannella. These are very sophisticated little treats. The biscottini are light and crunchy, good for elevenses or with a cup of tea mid-afternoon, and the cocoa-dusted morsetti would be excellent with after-dinner coffee, as they have a bitter cocoa flavour – fab!

The tiramisu was a surprising texture for the girl who’d never had it before, but we adults thought it tasted just as you’d expect, with a lovely smell of marsala and coffee: very grown-up.

We tried the bigne shells (think shells of choux-style pastry) without sweetened cream, but with a hot chocolate sauce, and thought they worked well. My expert panel of diners thought you wouldn’t know they were gluten free – so we’d use these to make profiteroles, or fill them with something savoury. Both would work.

Based on our tasting, we can recommend Floris Foods, whether you’re a sweet or savoury fan. They also offer meals: melanzane ripiene and peperoni ripieni look particularly good to me – you could even order a three course meal! Delivery is, as always, expensive, so you would need to order enough to make the delivery charge smaller in proportion to your order…

Floris Foods also cater for parties, weddings and events, and this would be a great business route for them to go down, as many of these products are suitable for freezing. It seems to me that if you were a business that occasionally needed to cater for coeliacs – perhaps conferences – it would be a good idea to have some of these available to call on.

My daughter’s favourites were the panzerottini and the quiche, and she was very impressed with the various pastries used in the different dishes. As you know, gluten free pastry isn’t always easy to create! My favourites were the biscottini and the morsetti, though as a home cook the bigne shells and gluten free breadcrumbs are definitely products I’ll note for the future.

I’ll be ordering again. Do have a look at their website (www.florisfoods.com), and if you order from them, let us know what you thought.

Taste Test: Gluten Free Animals and Shortbread

Goodness Direct recently sent us various products to try out and review for you. I’ll cover some of the other things for you another time; today I thought I’d discuss biscuits.

Goodness Direct kindly sent two kinds of biscuits: Orgran Outback Animals (vanilla cookies) and Lazy Day Foods Scottish Shortbread.

outback-animal-cookiesI’ve seen the Outback biscuits in supermarkets, where I’m sure I’ve seen multipacks: small portion packs inside a bigger pack to buy. This was a single, bigger pack, but like so many of the gluten free products, multipacks seem to me to be the best plan, especially if your coeliac is young, so that the food stays fresh for longer. I know that several layers of packaging isn’t particularly ‘green’, but nor is discarding food because it’s gone off.

The biscuits themselves are shaped like various Australian animals – wombats, kangaroos, crocodiles, and koalas – and are nut free, yeast free, soy free, wheat free, egg free and dairy free, as well as being gluten free. For those of us with many years of biscuit-eating experience, they were a little plain and dry, with an unusual after-taste. However, my non-gluten-free son, and our dairy-free toddler taster (who is, I suspect, the target market) loved them, and the whole pack disappeared very quickly. These biscuits are also available in chocolate flavour – and Goodness Direct sell the multipacks as well as these bigger packets.

lazy-day-foodsThe other biscuits, the Lazy Day shortbread, have a much more adult taste. They’re also plain and dry, but that is how shortbread should be, and these have the texture of a shortbread too. Naturally, being shortbread, they are egg free, but these are also dairy free.

They’re not quite the same as homemade would be (because traditionally shortbread uses butter), but they are an excellent gluten free version, and I wouldn’t hesitate to offer them to visitors, whether the visitors need to be gluten free or not. And, as we all know, that isn’t true of all gluten free biscuits!

I suspect that the manufacturers have got this exactly right, aiming one biscuit at the dairy-free toddler and the other at a rather older age-group…

Our verdict? I can recommend the shortbread, but suggest that you leave the animal cookies for young, dairy-free children.