This, I am afraid , was the depressing view from the kitchen last Sunday just before our guests arrived for the FoodsMatter summer garden party!
However, never let it be said that a little bit of rain would get in the way of a FoodsMatter party and I am delighted to report that everyone shuffled around with a will and found themselves plenty of places to perch and chat. In fairness to the weather man, by 3pm the rain had more or less cleared and although the garden remained too soggy for more than the occasional visit, lots of people were able to sit out on the balcony and enjoy the view.
Among the guests were our webmaster (dairy allergic), Ruth of What Allergy? (anaphylactic to dairy, nuts and celery and severely intolerant of soya, tomatoes and wheat) and Catherine of Sweetcheeks and the Printworks Kitchen (who came bearing a bag of delicious Printworks Kitchen coffee bean) who is coeliac. Since I know how hard it is for Ruth, in particular, to go out to eat without stressing about which of her allergens might have crept into her food, I always try to ensure, when I feed any of them, that they can eat everything on the menu.
On this occasion I did not actually write recipes for any of the dishes that I made but I did make a note of the ingredients so that I could show Ruth on arrival. (If I were her I would be reluctant to trust even us to always offer her ‘safe’ food unless I could actually check what had gone into it.) But since most of the dishes were very simple I am giving the ingredients below with some rather vague instructions as to what you might do with them – which I am sure will be quite enough for all of you expert freefrom cooks out there!
This is an old favourite from my catering days hundreds of years ago. It is always a runaway success – and could not be simpler. We have always put out the beef on one side of the platter, the bread on the other and the horseradish in the middle and allowed guests to help themselves.
Get a nice piece of topside from your butcher and, if you can, sweet talk him into slicing it thinly for you once you have cooked it. Then cook it for no more than 30 minutes to the kilo with 15 minutes over for luck if it is a big piece. Make sure you do this the day before you want to use it so that it can spend the night in the fridge which will make it so much easier to slice. Get it sliced, or slice it, thinly.
Mix in a bowl until the flavour tastes right and it is a reasonable spreadable consistency:
mayonnaise – bought will do fine but check the ingredients for dairy although it should not have any.
Fresh horseradish root. You can grate fresh if you can find it or you can use ready grated but make sure that it is just grated horseradish (not sauce), usually preserved with vinegar and raapeseed oil. I use English Provender.
lemon juice, salt and pepper
When we did this dish for the catering company we used black rye bread, very finely sliced. On Sunday I had a delicious 80% rye/20%wheat bread from Euphorium Bakery for our dairy-free (and other) guests and for our wheat/gluten-free guests I had an amazingly collection of breads from the Incredible Bakery.
The Incredible Bakery is run by Valeria Munoz-Turner and her husband, inspired by a need to create food for their four year old son Leon who is gluten, dairy, egg, soya and peanut allergic. Two years ago they gave up their jobs in the city of London to open the Incredible Bakery in a tiny village in Northamptonshire, since when they have been going from strength to strength. Just this month their Incredible Onion Panini was named as a finalist in the Baking Industry Awards 2015!
Everything they bake is free of all of the 14 major allergens meaning that all of their breads and cakes are gluten, dairy, egg, soya and nut free. And just by chance, Valeria had sent me a huge box of their goodies for us to taste only last week! This included a gluten-free oat loaf; a golden linseed loaf; a mini red quinoa loaf; a goji berry, coconut and raisin loaf; a ginger, date and chocolate loaf; an onion and seeds loaf; a whole range of panini; some chocolate, lemon and ginger muffins and slices and some burger buns!!!!
Most of Valeria’s breads are based on gram flour and brown and white rice flour and however she does it, she manages to create a really soft loaf which holds together well, is delicious out of the packet (very slightly bitter if eaten totally its own but once ‘buttered’, ‘jammed’ or made into sandwich, just fine) and very tasty toasted. Cressida will be doing a full review of her products for the site in September but meanwhile, Catherine and Ruth were hopping up and down with excitement while everyone else was digging in with a will.
The Incredible Bakery does mail order from their website so just check in to Incredible Bakery Company and put in your order.
But, back to the home grown stuff….
Avocado and smoked salmon salad
Literally just chopped avocados, chopped smoked salmon (I use the cheap smoked salmon trimmings which you should be able to find on line. Mine came from Pinney’s of Orford via Farm Direct). Salt, black pepper, lemon juice and olive oil to taste – well mixed and served on a bed of watercress.
Also from Farm Direct I got the most wonderful tiny baby regular beetroots plus some slight larger golden beets which I quartered. I steamed them both, separately, and then just dressed them with a little salt, pepper and olive oil and served them warm/at room temperature.
Because the picture is of the ‘remains’ after the party was over, the red of the dark beets has bled into the yellow of the golden beets, but they looked really pretty when the gold were still gold!
Puy lentil casserole
On the right of the dish is one of what Alex calls my ‘ploughed field look lentils’!! I will leave you to work this one out for yourselves but I started with and fried together:
coconut oil and a dash of olive oil
red torpedo onions, sliced
several cloves of garlic, sliced
2-3 red chillis, chopped
2 red Romano peppers sliced
at least half a tin of anchovies, chopped, and their oil
Puy lentils – 300-400g
reasonably large pack of cavolo nero, spines removed and leaves chopped
large handful of dried mixed seaweed
around a glass of red wine
water (no stock because of Ruth’s celery allergy) – unspecified amount but until the lentils were cooked
salt and pepper
Simmered, lid on, till the lentils were done and then left overnight.
Serve at room temperature sprinkled with chopped parsley.
Bacon and sausage flan
Pastry case made with half and half teff flour and Doves Farm plain white flour – plus Stork!!
Fatty back bacon, diced – plenty of it!
Sausage meat – I think I used approx 300g
Make the pastry, line some flan dishes and bake blind.
Fry the bacon till crispy, then scatter it in the pastry cases. Break the sausage meat up and scatter over the bacon.
Peel and slice the apple and lay over the bacon and sausage meat. Brush with olive oil and bake for a further 20-30 minute stop cook the sausage meat and the apples.
I cooked them the day before and then served them at room temperature.
a head of radicchio, chopped
torpedo red (or other red) onions very thinly sliced
sprouted sunflower seeds
thinly sliced mini salami – but be careful to check the ingredients
cider vinegar to taste
Mix all together…..
We then, of course (I could never have a party without) had a huge platter of crudités with a delicious artichoke dip – which I am afraid that I bought…. It came from San Amvrosia Health Foods in Tottenham and is easy to find in North London but I am not sure how much further afield they go.
However, I did also make the most disgusting looking but delicious tasting aubergine dip (it really did look like ploughed field!) which we served with chicory leaves.
lots of olive oil
lots of ground cumin
LOTS of garlic, sliced
lots of red onions, finely sliced
handful of black cardamom pods (I happened to have them but I am sure something else would do as well)
2 medium aubergines, diced
salt & black pepper
Basically I just covered them and cooked them all together, very slowly, for a long, long time until they had all disintegrated into mush…..
Autumn fruit crumble
Crumble topping – a combination of the following – and I really have no idea how much of any!!
finely chopped dried apricots
small amount of muscovado sugar
Vitaquell sunflower spread
Pour fruit into suitable dishes, top with crumble mixture, well rubbed together and bake for 45 minutes! In fact I never got round to serving anything with it but it would have been great with Oatly cream or coconut yogurt.
And…. That’s it, folks!!