The best gluten free chocolate brownies

GF brownies 009Well. These are extraordinarily good brownies. Chocolatey and deliciously damp but with just a trace of salty graininess.

I never want to make, eat or serve in my cafes a gluten-free or dairy-free or anythingelse-free dish that is less good than its conventional equivalent. However, we do get an increasing number of customers looking for gluten-free food and this had got me thinking. Then a few weeks ago I tried a gluten-free brownie in the café at the top of the Tate Modern that overlooks the Thames and the City and I thought this brownie was pretty good.

So I embarked on a voyage of experimentation in the world of gluten-free cooking. I don’t think I’ve ever tried quite so many different versions of, ostensibly, the same thing. And many of them I have to say were really quite nasty. So I felt like Einstein discovering relativity when after considerable tinkering I came up with what I think is a stunning and reliable recipe. You will create love and adoration amongst gluten-avoiding friends if you make these for them. Or better still come and buy them from us!

The only weird ingredient is Xanthan gum which is used to replace the gluing-together effect of gluten. Xanthan gum is a natural product but fairly potent. You can buy it in powdered form from health food shops or the ‘free from’ sections of supermarkets. Be careful of your measurements and use proper chefs’ measuring spoons. If you put in twice what you need it will make the brownies too solid. Use the correct amount and they’ll be perfect.

Salt might seem an odd addition, but it is the making of these brownies. The Americans know a thing or two about brownie cookery and a little salt is alway there in a classy American brownie.

 

Quantity ingredient preparation
500g good quality dark chocolate chopped into 2cm – 3cm chunks
325g salted butter cut into 2cm – 3cm pieces
6 eggs
400g light muscovado sugar
250g Dove’s gluten free flour
½ tsp Xantham gum powder
½ tsp salt

 

  1. Grease and line with baking parchment a straight sided baking tray 32cm x 25cm or similar
  2. Melt the chocolate and butter together in a saucepan over a very low heat. Put to one side to cool.
  3. Put the eggs and sugar in a large bowl and whisk until the mixture has tripled in volume and is much paler in colour and texture.  (Either use a handheld electric whisk or a Kenwood-type mixer with the K blade)
  4. Add the cooled chocolate mixture to the egg/sugar mixture and quickly mix. Then quickly mix in the flour/salt/Xantham gum
  5. Pour into the prepared baking tray and bake for 30 minutes at 150C in a fan oven (a bit hotter for a non-fan oven) until crusty on top but only just set. One of the world’s worst crimes is overcooked brownies….but they’re not nice when they’re not properly cooked either. They start to crack just a little on the surface when they’re ready.
  6. Leave to cool and then portion.

All Saints Fridays – for ever!

Great grub

Great grub!

There’s just 2 days to go until our first All Saints Friday. Crab, roast pork belly, roast squash salad, cranberry crème brulee. All sorts of delicious things and  incredibly reasonable prices complete with BYO (no corkage). Have a look at the full menu on http://www.cafeatallsaints.co.uk/wp-content/uploads/current-friday-eve-menu.jpg And if you don’t want to BYO we’ve got a short but delicious list of wine, beer and Herefordshire cider. We’re open from 6pm each Friday, so give us a call on 01432 370415 to book your table.

Hereford has suddenly become a city where people eat out in the evening. It used to be that you had to go to a country pub to get good grub in the evening but no longer. Rule of Tum (great burgers) Shack Revolution (superb British cocktails and pizza) and a couple of great tapas places – not to mention the vast number of chain places that have opened up at the Old Market. So we thought we’d join in the fun. The last couple of years we’ve opened on Friday and Saturday evenings in December and they look like being busier than ever this year. And so we feel the time is right to open permanently on Friday evenings at All Saints.

new table numbers by Holly

new table numbers by Holly

All Saints is a lovely place to come to in the evenings. Candles, a bit of music and really excellent simple food. And the table numbers – newly painted by my daughter Holly – add a note of brightness to each table!

This Friday Dean will be in the kitchen and I’ll be running the front of house – see you there!

Breast of lamb – the next big thing

Looks a bit messy, tastes fantastic

Looks a bit messy, tastes fantastic

You heard it here first. Breast of lamb is the next big thing. Nigella has re-christened it ‘lamb ribs’ and made it the centrepiece of the first programme in her voluptuous new series. So get to your butcher first before it goes the way of lamb shanks and belly pork, other once thrifty cuts which TV chefs have made sadly fashionable.

Anyway, we ate breast of lamb last night not in honour of Nigella but of Sarah’s Aunt Kate who has come to stay with us for a few days. Kate and I have had many long discussions about breast of lamb, which she was brought up on and which has been a staple of her family cookery for many years. Following our chats I’ve done various things with breast of lamb all of a casseroley nature. But yesterday I made a dish that made us all go – ‘Cor this is really delicious’ and made me think I should write this blog.

Breast of lamb is the sheep equivalent of belly pork, but smaller and in the case of the one we had last night, a lot smaller. So it’s a flat shallow cut, fatty, tough and bony. But don’t let that put you off. The starting point for me is always cooking it overnight on a very low heat and then using it for making a dish with the next day.

Breast of lamb with roast aubergines

serves 4-6 depending on how hungry you are. It’s somewhere between a casserole and a warm salad and is best served warm rather than piping hot. Although it doesn’t look very meaty in the picture the taste of lamb permeates the whole dish beautifully. We ate it with some cous cous with parsley, mint, olive oil and lemon juice.

1 breast of lamb – ours weighed about 700g but they vary considerably
water/wine for overnight cooking

2 largish aubergines, diced about 2cm
olive oil for roasting and frying
1 very large or 2 medium onion, quartered and thinly sliced
2 cloves garlic, crushed
1 tsp dried oregano
salt
300g tomatoes – either cherry tomatoes halved or plum tomatoes diced, whatever are the tastiest tomatoes you can find

  1. Put the breast of lamb in a lidded casserole dish and cover with water or a mixture of water and wine if you’ve got any leftovers. Bring to the boil, put the lid on and put in a very low oven (around 100C) overnight.
  2. In the morning take it out of the oven. Take the breast of lamb out of the liquid and put it on a plate to cool a bit. (Separately let the liquid cool and then put in the fridge so that it’s easy to take the hard fat off the top. You’ve then got some delicious lamb stock to make a simple tomato and lentil soup with)
  3. When the lamb is cool enough to handle, take off all the meat, leaving as much as possible of the solid fat and all the bones behind. This is best done with your hands as the meat comes in horizontal strips. The meat wants to end up in roughly bite-sized pieces. I only got a cereal bowl full of fairly lean meat from a whole breast, but it was some of the most delicious lamb I’ve ever tasted. (Discard the fat and bones). You can then leave the meat until you’re ready to make the finished dish.
  4. Toss the diced aubergine with a generous amount of olive oil and some salt and spread on a baking tray. Roast in a hot oven (200C or thereabouts) for about 30 minutes until very soft and browning at the edges. Depending on your oven you may want to turn them over part way through the cooking process.
  5. In the same dish you cooked the lamb in overnight, fry the onions in a generous slug of olive oil and some salt for about 20 to 30 minutes until they are very soft. Then add the garlic and oregano and cook for another couple of minutes. Once the garlic has cooked a little, stir in the chopped tomatoes and cook for about another minute and then take off the heat. Stir in the roast aubergine and the ‘pulled’ breast of lamb. If the lamb has been in the fridge then warm the dish gently until the lamb is warm but not piping hot. You can serve it straight away or re-warm later – just don’t continue to cook it any further once it’s all mixed together or the lamb will totally fall apart.

This dish could change your life – or at least the way you think about breast of lamb.