Ceri Jones answers your burning "free from" questions
Lots of you had burning cooking questions for Ceri Jones in our recent Allergy Awareness Week competition! As promised, five have been picked at random:
“Can I just substitute rice flour for wheat flour in a recipe to make it gluten-free or are there other adjustments I will need to make?” M Steward
The answer entirely depends on the recipe itself, and how much flour is involved. If it’s a tablespoon to thicken a sauce or gravy or to bind some fishcakes for example then yes, but if for a pastry or cake then no. Reason being that wheat flour - as well as containing gluten which gives structure and stretch - has different properties to rice or other gluten free flours. For example they have different proportions of protein, starch (carbohydrate), fat and fibre. This is why gluten free flours are usually a blend of different grains to try and mimic wheat flour. Making good gluten free flour is akin to a mathematic equation.
“I am both gluten and lactose intolerant and I will be going to university this September. What cheap and quick meals would you recommend to a skint 18 year old student?” M Marsden
A favourite of mine is baked sweet potato - filled with whatever you fancy. A complex carb full of beta-carotene a sweet potato is more nou rishing than white potato, whilst it does take up to an hour to cook in the oven, you can use the waiting ti me to get back to your studies for another hour!
I'd also recommend making up batches or grains such as brown rice of buckwheat which are veryreasonably priced then chucking them in a salad with chickpeas, some roasted veg or some greens, and a lemon juice/olive oil dressing and they will stretch across lots of meals leaving you no cook quick meals for days on end. In the winter make hearty stews and curries!
“Have you any alternative foods for a sandwich filling to go on as I am not keen on gluten free bread.” J Bryan
Try Nori - a Japanese seaweed usually reserved for sushi making. Filled with tuna/brown rice/avocado/shredded veg and rolled up tight it makes a great alternative to a sandwich. There are some good gluten free crackers that have come on to the market recently that I would recommend (such as Free'd) and there are always gluten free oatcakes too!
“I used to love cauliflower cheese and always add sausage or bacon for my husband. However I now have a dairy intolerance, how can I still make a creamy cheesy sauce for the top of my cauli?!” A Fear
Absolutely. I actually recently made my own gluten and dairy free béchamel. You can easily use almond milk instead of cows milk in a standard recipe. Replacing the cheese is slightly tricky though. If you're after a cheese flavour you can add a sprinkling of nutritional yeast to the top of the cauliflower, or instead add some crushed nuts as these will give textural variety if not a cheesey flavour!
“How can I make a filo or puff 'pastry' without using wheat, egg, dairy, sesame, coconut and nuts?” D Bagley
Oh gosh this sounds tricky. I have to admit I have never made a gluten free puff pastry myself, because I just don't expect the results to be satisfactory - that's not to say it won't be possible at some point - and I think there are now some manufacturers trying.
In this situation what I would ask myself is what mouth feel and flavour am I trying to achieve with this craving. If for example its a pastry base for a tart filling is there something else you could use instead? Stuffed peppers, courgette, aubergine, butternut squash or sweet potato skins can carry a wide range of delicious toppings and are much better for you than pastry too!
More of Ceri’s tips arehere , thank you for your entries!