Today has been a day of ups and downs. The lows included ice cream horror, an uninspiring salad and a pastry fail. The highs were all about great cooking, mountains of mushrooms and the best crumble ever. Thankfully the highs all came at the end of the day to compensate for the earlier disappointments and I am now replete.
Today was the first time I have eaten wild mushrooms and they were really fabulous. The flavour is really different from cultivated varieties. There were so many we gathered about 4kg in twenty minutes so I have a lot of mushrooms to play with. I have to say a big thanks to Nigel & Theresa at Rock Farm for letting us maraud all over their beautiful place today and for not liking blackcurrants (there will be jam making for me tomorrow).
The bread I made yesterday was not as successful as I had hoped and so my plans for a hearty bacon sandwich before mushroom foraging were scuppered. Disheartened, I shovelled down a bowl of Corn Flakes.
Ham Salad and Dandelion and Burdock
Lunch today was the first time I really wanted to kick this gluten free lark. Lunch menus in cafes here basically consist of sandwiches, soup and baked potatoes. It was too hot for soup, baked spuds are a no no (I like them but I can never face eating them) and I got a rather perplexed reply when I inquired about gluten free bread. The only salad on the menu was with quiche so I asked them to leave that out and add something else. I basically got a mountain of shredded iceberg lettuce, tomato, cucumber, raw onion and a slice of that slimy ham from a packet. Meanwhile I had to order this surrounded by mouthwatering cakes and pastries. To add insult to injury my sister ordered a pulled pork sandwich with bar b q sauce. Lunch was not my favourite part of the day.
This was followed by a trip to the ice cream van. One of my favourite things in the world. I adore ice creams and was busy planning to buy a huge 99 with red sauce when I realised in horror that ice cream cones contain flour. I was pretty gutted, (anyone who knows me is picturing that face I pull when denied sweet treats) and had a Mint Feast to compensate. However I have since found out that not all ice cream or chocolate is gluten free – WHY?? I need to investigate this further this could be a major problem, a world without ice cream is not acceptable.
Dinner (3 courses, oh yeah!)
Sauteed mushrooms and goats cheese on gluten free bread
I really enjoyed this. I sauteed the mushrooms in tons of garlic with thyme and rosemary so they were soft but still juicy. We piled them on today’s gluten free bread (more about this shortly) with some goats cheese and into the oven to melt the cheese. Yum, is all I can say. Unfortunately the others were not so keen. My parents hated the texture of the bread and my sister did not like the taste.
Poached chicken with Marsala and wild mushroom sauce with steamed vegetables and potatoes
I was really pleased with the way this turned out. My dad (who is not the kind of guy who tosses compliments around freely) actually said this was the best mushroom sauce he has ever eaten. He then spoiled it by saying it was due to the quality of the mushrooms rather than the cooking, typical. Honestly, (I don’t want to blow my own trumpet here) it was both but the cooking was exceptional. I cook everyday and maybe once a month I am this happy with something I made. The sauce was perfectly in balance, the mushrooms were soft yet still contained enough juice to give bursts of flavour and the chicken was succulent and soft. Lunch was forgotten.
Gluten free rhubarb crumble and ginger custard
My dad grew the rhubarb so he got to choose what I made with it, predictably he chose his favourite dessert. I am glad he did, I love it too. I did not say anything about the gluten free crumble until everyone had finished eating and by that time my mum had declared it the best crumble ever. I ditched the usual method of crumble making in favour of a restaurant style garnish of crumble. I made it by mixing gluten free flour with butter, a few hazelnuts and a little sugar and making lumps of dough. I baked these until golden and crunchy and smashed them a little. The rhubarb was roasted with a bit of sugar and some elderflower cordial. I made the custard using chunks of preserved ginger and loads of the syrup from the jar. It was divine and we all ate too much.
I feel like I had a great bread success today. I made the same recipe as yesterday as I felt something had gone wrong with the yeast. It turned out much better this time as you can see from the photo and I really like it. However I am not in the majority on this one. My sister did not like the flavour and I understand why. It has a large quantity of vinegar in the dough and you can taste this in the finished bread. I will put half as much in next time. My parents hated the texture and said it was too dry and crumbly but I do not agree. This is the first gluten free bread they have tasted and I think they expected it to be just like normal bread but it is not. My expectations are different to theirs and I think this accounts for the disagreement. I bet if they ate this for a few days they would get used to it. We will see, I intend to keep serving it to them.
Our starter this evening was supposed to be a mushroom and goats cheese tart but the pastry was a bit of a disaster. Rolling it was impossible, even using greased baking sheets. It stuck to them whatever I did so in the end i pressed it into the tin. The baked result was dry, cracked and tasted weird, a little cheesy. I used a basic pastry recipe just changing the flour to a gluten free mix. I am going to have to read up on this and try something else as I am not convinced that even if the texture was acceptable that I would enjoy the taste.
It was a day of mixed results and I have a number of things to investigate. Pastry is a priority so if anyone can help I am all ears (well I guess it’s eyes on the internet). Ice cream and chocolate, do they have gluten, if so why? Is this a nut allergy type situation where every label states there is a risk of contamination but they are not necessarily in the ingredients? I hope so because if that is the case I do not need to worry about it. Tomorrow will involve jam making and hopefully a couple of gluten free cake recipes I have found on Pinterest (I love Pinterest so much!). I will also be back in a commercial kitchen for the first time since January which is pretty exciting so there will be lots and lots of cooking.
Lets’s end on a high with another picture of that marvellous crumble: