Today was a busy one and I have not had much time for gluten investigations, more of these tomorrow. However, I have done bags of cooking. I spent the morning making blackcurrant jam and redcurrant jelly. I did manage to sneak in a batch of gluten free cake bars. I spent the evening in the kitchen at the Burton Street Foundation in Sheffield.
Burton Street is an amazing, unique place. I worked there years ago and still miss it, there is never a dull moment. It is an NGO which primarily works with adults with learning disabilities to enable them to lead independent lives. There are lots of facilities including a cafe, conference facilities and restaurant where the service users train in various aspects of the catering trade. At dinner the other night Angela, the catering manager mentioned that they needed a sous chef for their restaurant night so I enthusiastically volunteered.
The restaurant night is an amazing opportunity to sample some top notch food at a reasonable price and I urge anyone who lives in or around Sheffield to give it a try. You can find details on their website. The menu is prepared by chef Matt Rodgers who has worked in some top places. It was a pleasure for me to spend time in the kitchen and learn from him for the evening. All of the food was delicious but the highlights for me were the duck terrine with pickled enoki mushrooms and apricot chutney and the pork. Matt had spent 2 days making the most incredible jus, it had been simmering for over 20 hours (I could have eaten the lot with a spoon). I learned loads in a few short hours and got plenty of practise at plating, is not one of my strengths (neither, it turns out, are quenelles). The long parts of the prep were done by the time I arrived, I think Matt had been there the previous two evenings making terrine, dahl, tomato sauces, chutney and pickles (this is not his full time job). I just helped out with a bit of final chopping for garnishes and then plating during service. There really is so much detail which goes into modern restaurant food which is why I find it fascinating. Something which looks really simple on the plate can take days of prep. Service was so much fun, I love the adrenalin of the kitchen (although not the sweating), this reminded me how much I miss it.
The diary is a little shorter today as the food I prepared was mostly eaten by other people but I did try a great recipe for a snack and an amazing cake which makes me think I may never have to put normal flour in a cake again.
Cherries and coffee
What to say? I love fruit so a gluten free breakfast is easy for me. Also it is summer and the fruit is amazing.
Gluten free toast with garlic & herb mushrooms and blue cheese
The bread I made on Monday is still moist and lovely so I used a thick slice of that for the toast. I sauteed the mushrooms in olive oil, loads of fresh garlic, thyme, oregano & rosemary from the garden. I added a couple of wedges of blue cheese and melted it under the grill. The oregano is in flower so i garnished everything with some leaves and flowers to add freshness. This was a delicious, nutritious lunch which filled me for hours and gave me loads of energy, which is exactly what you need for an evening in the kitchen.
A gluten free oat bar
When working in kitchens you don’t eat, you pick. I spent the evening serving up fabulous food for other people but didn’t really eat anything, just a spoonful of sauce here, a bite of pork crakling there. I ate one of these oat bars after service so I guess this counts as dinner. Becky sent me the recipe for these gluten free oat bars to try a couple of days ago. It is from a blog called Yammie’s Glutenfreedom. I am really enjoying this site as the recipes look really scrumptious. This one worked out really well. I took the batch to Burton Street with me and shared them with the other staff who all seemed to love them. I did not have any blackberries so used blueberries and raspberries instead. I think any berry would work really well. They are crunchy and chewy and sweet and make a satisfying snack. There is cinnamon and vanilla in the recipe but you could also change the spicing around for variety, next time I am going to make them with some Anis seeds. I reckon everyone should make these, whether gluten free or not, just because they are so good.
Chocolate and Orange cake
Mum brought me this back from her lunch with the girls (she has a hard life). It turns out not all cafes around here are unaware of gluten intolerance. Apparently they made their own GF bread and had a couple of different cakes to choose from, so she brought me a slice of this one. I had to taste it for blog purposes! It was really delicious. The texture was amazing, soft and light and really moist, just like a regular cake. It was chocolatey and had a great tang from the orange. I want the recipe. Everyone agreed this was as good as any regular cake and we really could not tell any difference.
Tomorrow I am planning to spend the day investigating whether or not ice cream and chocolate do have gluten. I am also going to try some other gluten free recipes and make mushroom ketchup with the 2kg of mushrooms I still have to use.