Green Thai Curry

Five years ago, when I was rambling around Thailand (you know, on my Gap Yahhh), my Mum paid me a visit for a couple of weeks. Thank GOD, because I had absolutely no money left.

You may meet the idea of a parent joining her kid on their year-out with a little skepticism – and that’s OK. Because you haven’t met my Mum. She’s a riot. So, after she had taken me to get my first tattoo, she treated me to one of the most memorable parts of that trip – a day at the Smart Cook Thai Cookery School in Chiang Mai.

We were signed up for the Daily Course and Market Tour, which meant that after selecting all of our fresh ingredients at the local – and vast – market, we then went back to the school and spent the rest of the day preparing, cooking and eating 7 traditional Thai dishes. The best bit? Thai food is ridiculously free-from friendly.

And it is testament to the brilliant teachers and recipes that a) I can remember it so well (the rest of that year is quite the blur) and b) that we still make these dishes, five years on. My firm favourite is the Thai Green Curry – quick, easy and it always tastes like a pro made it.

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Ingredients:

  • 50 g boneless chicken breasts (or tofu), thick sliced
  • 30 g aubergine, cut into wedges
  • 30 g baby corn (or carrot), cut into slices
  • 2 kaffir lime leaves, torn in half
  • 6 sweet basil leaves
  • 1 tbsp green curry paste
  • 1 can coconut milk
  • 1 tbsp oil
  • 1 tsp sugar
  • 1 tbsp fish sauce (most shop-bought curry pastes already have fish sauce in them, so don’t worry too much if you can’t get hold of it)

Method:

  1. Put the oil in a pan, and on a low heat add the green curry paste. Bring it to a simmer, add some coconut milk to stop burning and stir until fragrant.
  2. Add the chicken and stir vigorously until it is cooked.
  3. Add the remaining coconut milk, aubergine, baby corn and kaffir lime leaves, stirring occasionally.
  4. Season with sugar and fish sauce to taste
  5.  Sprinkle sweet basil leaves and turn off the heat.
  6. Garnish with red chillies.

NB: If you really want to cheat, Loyd Grossman’s Thai Green Curry Sauce is a really good alternative. But don’t be lazy.

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Buying Free-From: Where to Start

This week, Style Parla featured my starter guide to buying free-from on the high street. You really should read it there, and keep clicking on through the fabulous mag – but if you are lazy, I have it here for you too!style parla

Speaking from experience, the first days and weeks of a free-from diet are the hardest. Way back when I first had to brave the supermarkets’ dietary offerings, they were dealing in cardboard pasta and inedible bread. Luckily for everyone, they’ve really started to get it right. And the choice is now comparatively vast. The sad, lone shelf has become an aisle, and a pretty attractive one at that.

Of course, we can’t forget the health food stores; places like Planet Organic and As Nature Intended literally make me feel like Ryan Gosling just perved on me. They cater specifically for different dietary requirements and the demand for good, clean food. But, they can be pricey and there just aren’t as many as we’d like. Which is why here I’m focussing on the high street (and by that I really mean the high/low/back/corner/every-street, where you are never at a loss for a supermarket of some shape or size for your every-need, every-hour.)

I’ve chosen these 4 stores specifically. Firstly because I live in London and don’t have a car, and these supermarkets (or their smaller versions are usually in walking distance of anywhere in the capital that I am. And secondly because they all – in their own ways – add value to the free-from market.

Sainsbury’s

I love Sainsbury’s. It was the first mainstream marketplace that made me feel that eating free-from was yes, slightly different, but not an issue. Quite nice, actually. And this is mainly due to one item (before I tell you, I just have to point out that they have a huge and excellent range of free-from products, this isn’t the only thing they sell) – FISH FINGERS. I don’t think I need to say anything more on the matter.

Best for: Freezer food, and own range

Worst for: Fresh soups

Highlight: Fish fingers. Always.

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Tesco

Tesco’s free-from range won’t let you down, but it won’t necessarily bring you what I’m now calling ‘Fish Finger Joy’. Its own-brand items are really fairly priced, but there is a bit too much emphasis on sweet treats and too little on balanced meals. Then again, if you’re after an alternative to cereal, bread, or cake you’ve found the place.

Best For: Your wallet

Worst For: Own-brand quality and variety

Highlight: Dairy-free chocolate buttons (in ‘milk’ and white)

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Waitrose

Waitrose is my favourite supermarket. Well, it was until Pippa came along and ruined everything, but whatever. Let’s forget about her for a minute. It’s my favourite because it makes me feel like buying free-from is buying quality. Not only is their range delicious across the board, it looks like it would taste great too (no lurid purple here, thanks). And what’s more, they stock a variety of other brands, regardless of them being competitors, because they just do free-from so well.

Best For: Variety and quality

Worst For: Your wallet

Highlight: LOVE Life Soups (almost all of them are allergen-free)

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Marks and Spencer

Marks and Spencer is the wildcard (yes, I did just use ‘M&S’ and ‘wild’ in the same sentence.) Unlike the other three, it doesn’t have a specific free-from range; which usually turns picking up a quick snack into a lesson in upside-down reading, whilst you get hungry and your mate just wants to eat her sandwich. And it’s a shame, because there are a couple of great on-the-go options that just happen to be totally free-from, and aren’t being shown off. They are sat there like Niall from One Direction, just waiting for someone to let him sing something. ANYTHING.

And it’s what M&S don’t show-off that is their strongest free-from offering. Forget their gluten-free bread (they actually should forget it, it’s not nice), they stock great-quality burgers and sausages with a gluten free crumb, and they are DELISH.

Best for: Food for the barbeque

Worst for: Labelling, and bread. Oh, the bread.

Highlight: Aberdeen Angus Quarter Pounder burgers, as seen here on Fancy Free From!

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Cheesecake, but not as you know it.

You may have spotted my feature in the wonderful Geeked Magazine’s Mini Mag a couple of weeks ago (pgs 26 – 29), but if you didn’t – here it is! In all it’s cheese-less glory.

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When I was first diagnosed as being wheat, gluten and dairy-intolerant, the first thing that went through my mind was cheesecake. This isn’t an exaggeration. It is the pudding epitome of everything that someone on a free-from diet shouldn’t eat – cheese, and cake. And it is my favourite pudding in the world.

So as you can imagine, life became pretty hard for me from that point (in my mind, violins start playing at this point). For a while, I truly didn’t care about all the other foods that had been swiped off the menu without so much as a goodbye. My bread and butter – a cake made of cheese – had been lost to me.  Since then, I have tried to ignore my cravings, but recently I have been feeling that something substantial has been missing from my life. Obviously it didn’t take long for me to work out what that was. I started scouring trusty websites for cheese(less) cakes but none of them sounded appealing enough. I’ll be honest; I don’t want to make a pudding out of tofu. Hey, give me soya cream-cheese on a cracker, but not in a cake. So yes, this ruled out essentially all the recipes out there.

Until this one, found here. I’ve adapted some of the ingredients and measurements, but the basics are all the same.

It’s more than just wheat, gluten and dairy-free. It’s also vegan, and there is no soya, eggs or grains involved either. This probably leaves you wondering what could possibly be left to make it from. Well, NUTS. A lot of them. Which doesn’t come cheap, but I promise you it’s worth it. Plus, depending on the size of your pan, you can easily reduce the mixture.

This creamy, zesty delight is a revelation. And what’s more, you can replace the lime with cocoa powder, or blueberries, or… well, whatever you like really, and you’ve got yourself faux cheesecake choices to last a lifetime!

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You will need a spring-form or silicone cake tin (mine was 9 in), and a food processor or blender.

Ingredients 

For the base:

  • 4oog ground almonds
  • 5 tablespoons agave nectar (or clear honey)

For the topping:

  • 500g macadamia/ cashew nuts (or both)
  • 3 tbsp coconut oil
  • 5 tbsp agave nectar
  • Juice of 6 limes
  • Zest of 2-3 limes, depending on taste
  • 130 ml water

Method

Soak your macadamias/cashews in a bowl of water for around 15/20 minutes to get them nice and soft.

Blend the ground almonds and agave nectar in a food processor until thoroughly combined. Press the mixture into the cake tin and set to the side.

NB If you want your crust more crumbly, throw a handful or two of whole almonds into the mix.

Blend all your nuts, agave nectar, lime juice, lime zest and water in the food processor, then add in the coconut oil. Keep going until the mixture is smooth – this may take some time!

Spoon the mixture on to the cheesecake base, and place in the freezer to set. This should only take around 1-2 hours.

Once set, remove from the freezer and top with lime zest to serve (it would go really well with some dark chocolate sauce, too). And if you’re not ready to eat it yet – pop it into the fridge to keep firm.

Enjoy!

Now, to buy some cocoa powder…

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Peanut Butter(less) Bite-Me’s

Last week, I included these little lovelies in my first feature for Style Pärla. The theme was ‘Easy Free From Baking’, so these were a no-brainer. And if you think the name sounds familiar you aren’t wrong (clever you!) – I’ve previously posted about Almond & Raspberry Bite-Me’s, which started the whole thing off.

So in case you missed it the first time round, or just want to read it again (I don’t know, you might) here is the super easy recipe.

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Ingredients:

  • 150g/6oz dairy-free margarine
  • 40g/1 ¾oz fruit sugar or caster sugar
  • 135g/ 1 ½oz gluten free flour
  • 70g/1 ¾oz corn flour
  • 1-2 tbsp smooth peanut butter
  • ½ tsp vanilla essence

Method:

Before you start, get your oven nice and hot at 180°C/350°F/Gas 4, and lay sheets of non-stick baking paper on a couple of baking trays.

Gently melt the margarine and sugar in a saucepan until the mixture is smooth. Bring it to the boil, then turn the heat down and simmer for around 5 minutes.

Thoroughly combine the flours into a mixing bowl (use a sieve to get rids of any lumps and bumps) and once the sugar mixture has cooled slightly, slowly add it to the flour – along with the vanilla essence – and mix together with a wooden spoon until you have a nice dough.

Now add in the peanut butter. Either stir it into the whole mixture, or add it in parts to your individual cookies to break up the peanuty flavour.

Mould the mixture into ball shapes using your hands (yes, it gets messy), and place them on the baking trays. Give them a good squish with your wooden spoon so they look a little more like cookies, and pop them in the oven for oven for around 10 – 15 minutes. They should be a light golden brown colour when ready.

Cool them on a wire rack, and then tuck in! They are best served still slightly warm from the oven, with a little bit of jam.

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Kat for Geeked Magazine

Today, I have mainly been feeling pretty proud. Because a few weeks ago the wonderful Sofia at Geeked Magazine asked if I would contribute to their second Mini Mag. I did, and it came out today.

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You can find all things me and FancyFree on pages 26-29, but the whole issue is brilliant, so don’t put it down until you’re done.

http://issuu.com/geekedmagazine/docs/mini_mag_2_-_a_few_of_our_favourite_things