Intro

What's WIDE CIRCLE COOKING about?
I blog information, news and recipes about gluten-free, wheat-free, dairy-free, egg-free, alcohol-free and vegan cooking. Right now I've been working on an exciting project where I avoid refined sugar and create recipes using a range of healthier alternatives.

Happy cooking!

ps. ask all guests if they have an allergy (because the recipes use some unusual combinations and they may not expect to find citrus and soya in the chocolate cake, for example).
pps.if you are cooking for someone with an allergy, please read my allergy page first.

Vegan and gluten-free corgi gingerbreads for the Diamond Jubilee


Here's a fun way to celebrate the Queen's Diamond Jubilee – the biscuit colour is perfect, and currants make ideal eyes and noses. Sadly, I couldn’t use Royal icing (ho ho) because of the egg white, but plain white water icing is all you need anyway. Use my corgi template to make your own!

Makes about 10

75g gram (chickpea) flour
50g cornflour
50g non-dairy margarine (eg Pure)
50g Demerara sugar
1tbsp golden syrup
2tsp ground ginger
1tsp ground cinnamon
1tsp bicarbonate of soda
1tbsp water

To decorate
Icing sugar
Water
Currants

Oven at 150C. Mix all the ingredients (except the water) together in a food processor or by chopping at it finely with a knife until you get what looks like crumbs. Add the water and knead together by hand to form a dough. You may need a tiny bit more water or a little more cornflour to get the right consistency, which should be soft but not sticky or dry.
Print this page and cut out the corgi template. Roll the dougn out to 3mm (use cornflour to stop the dough sticking) and then place the paper corgi on the dough and cut round with a sharp knife. Place on an oiled baking tray and bake for 20–25 minutes until golden. Let them cool a little before attempting removal from the tray.
To decorate, make a very thick paste from icing sugar and water and pipe the detail using a fine nozzle (if you don’t have a proper icing bag, use a plastic food bag with a tiny hole in the corner). Also use this paste icing to ice the border of the large white areas as it stops the runnier icing going out of its boundary. Dip the currants in the icing and stick in place. For the large areas of white, make icing about the consistency of golden syrup and pour a bit on with a teaspoon before using the back of the spoon to spread it into place. Woof! 



It's a sticky situation with maple syrup this year


If you're a vegan who opts for maple syrup over honey to sweeten pancakes, home-made muesli and more, then the spring weather in the north of America may make this a sticky year for you! Apparently, a spell of hot dry weather in March has led to many trees 'drying up' - and if they didn't, they have produced a foul-tasting syrup instead. With production down by nearly 50 per cent, you'd think prices would rocket. In fact, this is the good news part of the story. Prices are only up 5 per cent at the moment. For the whole story, click here.

If you decide to switch to agave nectar instead, then it turns out that this seemingly innocent topping is in the middle of a wasps' nest of controversy about whether it is actually 'good' for you or not...

Maybe the lesson to take from all of this is to use sweeteners sparingly (but I think we all knew that anyway!)

Allergy and Free-from Show starts this Friday!


Just a quick reminder that it's the Allergy and Free-from Show in London this weekend, great if either you or a loved one has problems eating certain foods. I'll be there on the Friday and in case you'd forgotten, you can get free tickets by clicking here.

Go gluten-free for a week to help Coeliacs

Today marks the first day of Coeliac Awareness Week, which aims to bring understanding of this disease to a wider audience. With eating out the main headache for sufferers (many menus are completely unsuitable), the Gluten-free Challenge is all about addressing this problem. Among the many ideas are:
  • Challenge a friend to go gluten-free and get sponsored for their efforts
  • Ask friends or family to follow a completely gluten-free diet for a week
  • Get your office to go gluten-free at lunch
You could use some of the recipes from this blog (such as my chocolate traybake above) as a starting point - it's surprisingly easy to go gluten-free once you get your head round it and just improving understanding will go a long way to help sufferers.

Thousands lack recipe ideas for vegetarians and those with allergies

According to a story in yesterday's Daily Telegraph, more than one in 10 people would avoid asking loved ones to dinner parties, Christmas lunch and even weddings if they have different dietary needs. The research was done by Warburtons and studied 2,067 adults. Chris Hook (their 'free-from' business unit director)  said: "It's shocking that so many people consider not inviting friends and family with dietary requirements to social events."

Apparently two-thirds said guidance from their guests on how best to cater for their needs might give them enough confidence to prepare special meals for them - and that's where Wide Circle Cooking comes in!