Tuesday, 19 August 2014

Simple Sausage Pasta

We were chatting on twitter about our favourite gluten free sausages last week - Sous Chef J has long been a fan of the Good Little Company's teeny weeny sausages but we haven't been able to find them in the supermarket for a while.  The final batch from the freezer had been used up so we entered into a conversation with the manufacturers and they reassured us the teeny weenies will be in stores again soon.   Sous Chef J likes the teeny weeny sausages as they are easier for him to eat and have a soft consistency.  He rates them as "the best gluten free sausages to eat." 

In the meantime, we were sent a parcel of the current range of sausages they have on sale which was very kind and much appreciated.  It contained  great BIG sausages and good little sausages (chipolatas).  The covering letter was addressed to J and explained about how the company donates meals through Christian aids food security projects. 

Now came the challenge to find a suitable recipe to tempt Sous Chef J to try the 'larger' sausages... I decided to use my old standby technique of 'rebranding' and thought a sausage used as a meat ball in a tomato sauce with pasta would be a good idea.

To make the re-brand into a tomato and meatball pasta sauce, we used:-

Sausages - cut into 2cm chunks (meatballs)
400g tin of chopped tomatoes
one small salad onion or a crushed clove of garlic
one Tablespoon tomato puree

The chopped onion and tomato puree were sauteed in a skillet for a few minutes.

Then we added the sausage meatball chunks and left them to cook for a little under 10 minutes until they were lightly cooked throughout.

At this point the tinned tomatoes were added and the lid was placed on the pan to allow the mix to boil.

Once boiling, the heat was reduced and the sausage mix was allowed to simmer whilst we cooked the pasta.  We chose to have Dove's Farm Gluten Free penne with our tomato sausage meatballs.

The tomato and sausage sauce could easily be cooked in a slow cooker - ready to use after a day out.  Just add all ingredients to the crock pot and cook on low for a few hours.

Friday, 15 August 2014

Slow Cooker Peach Jam

In the supermarket the other day there was an offer on punnets of peaches... we bought 2 for £3 and decided to give slow cooker jam making a go using them.
Ingredients we used were -

2 punnets of peaches, peeled, stoned and chopped
Juice of half a lemon (about 30ml)
1kg jam sugar (this has pectin already in it and should allow setting)

First, we took the peaches in turn and scored a cross, carefully, on the 'opposite end to the stalk'... actually, this was Sous Chef J's chore.  He did very well and managed to complete the scoring of all 14 of the peaches despite his initial dislike of their hairiness!

Whilst Sous Chef J was hard at work battling his sensory demons and scoring the peaches, I filled a large saucepan with water and brought it to the boil.  We then dropped half the scored peaches into the water and allowed them to bubble for a minute or so before carefully removing them with a slotted spoon. 

Whilst the first batch were cooling, we added the remaining peaches to the pan and repeated the boiling, removing and cooling.  Then, we carefully peeled the (now smooth) skin from the peaches.

Next, I was assigned the task of stone removal and Sous Chef J was 'chopper-upper'.  The halved and stoned peaches were placed in a pyrex dish and Sous Chef J carefully chopped the fruit into smaller pieces.

Having prepared the peaches, Sous Chef J busied himself with getting the juice out of half a lemon.  This came to about 30ml juice and was added to and mixed through the peaches. We put a sideplate in the fridge at this point, to chill for use later...

The peach and juice mix was placed in the slow cooker pot and the sugar was added before being stirred through.  Putting the cooker on low, we placed on the lid and left it for an hour.  After an hour, we stirred the mix and left it for a further hour.

After two hours on low, the sugar had dissolved and, as there was a rather uneven 'peach bit' size noted... so we got out the trusty potato masher and gave the pot a bit of a light bashing.  Probably not in the Mary Berry book of how to make jam but appears to have worked for us!

The slow cooker was then put to the high setting and the jam was left to bubble away with the lid ajar, filling the house with a lovely aroma, for another hour.  Stirring thoroughly and returning the lid to its jaunty angle, we left it again - for an hour.

Now was the time for the 'wrinkle test' to see if it was ready to set... so we retrieved the chilled plate from the fridge, dropped a little of the jam on, left it for the count of 30 and tried to push a finger through it... not a hint of a wrinkle.  So, the mix was stirred, the timer set, and we left it for a further 30 minutes.  Sous Chef J 'tested' the non-wrinkling jam and declared it "delish".

We sterilised some jam jars and their lids by running them through the dishwasher and then putting them in the washing up bowl and filling with boiling water just before we were ready to bottle up the jam.

Finally, after 2 hours on high, the jam wrinkled (very slightly) so was declared ready for bottling... we drained the jam jars (making sure not to touch the insides) and used a non-stick wide funnel to share the jam between the jars.
 We bought the peaches for £3 and the jam was £1.99.  The Kilner jars we used for the jam we were giving away were 75p each (250ml).  The ingredients yielded three 250ml Kilner jars, two 340g jars and one 454g jar plus a small left over "cook's reward" amount of about 100ml.  Approximately 2kg of jam for £5 of ingredients which is £2.50 a kilo (excluding electricity) - whereas the peach jams I found online were
about £5.90 a kilo. 

This made a 'soft set' jam (a bit like the consistency of mango chutney) and it was taste tested on a slice of gluten free seeded toast.  YUMMY!

Friday, 8 August 2014

Chicken Fajitas Kit

At the Birmingham Coeliac UK food fair last month (held in Sutton Coldfield) we bought a Fajita Kit (containing  6 gluten and wheat free multigrain wraps, a seasoning sachet and a double sachet of salsa) from @BFreeFoods.  They looked like a fab idea for a quick evening meal for the three of us and, as Sous Chef J likes spicy foods, he was keen to try them. 

All we needed to make our speedy evening meal yesterday was the Fajita Kit, peppers, onion and chicken.

Making the fajitas is simple.  We sliced some peppers and onion.

A tablespoon of oil was added to a warm frying pan and the chicken was cooked until no pink was showing.

Next the onions, peppers and fajita seasoning were added to the pan and stirred through. 

Whilst the spicy meat and veg mix was being cooked, we heated up the wraps - we don't have a microwave (don't all gasp in horror... life can continue without one!!) - we used silicone sheet in a lidded skillet to quickly heat them through for a minute on a high flame... then left them in the pan to absorb the heat.

Once all was ready, the wraps were spread with salsa, meat mix was added and rolling began...

... remembering to fold in one end so the contents didn't deposit themselves in Sous Chef J's lap as he ate the fajita!

We think this is a great kit and will be taking one on our next holiday... once we find out where to buy more!