Pippa Kendrick (Harper Collins)
Let’s face it- who hasn’t got some kind of intolerance or allergy these days? Everywhere we look- from the green, vegan goddesses we follow religiously on Instagram to Starbucks offerings and even the menu at Pizza Express, the words ‘gluten-free’ and ‘dairy-free’ are becoming more and more synonymous with modern life with news out only today that 1 in 100 people in the UK suffer from celiac disease.
But if, like us, you think cutting out wheat, dairy, soya, eggs, yeast and gluten will make for some seriously dull eating then it’s time to think again. All hail Pippa Kendrick, aka The Intolerant Gourmet, who knows better than most how serious a food intolerance can be, having suffered life-threatening illness as a young girl as a consequence of her allergies. Always a keen writer, passionate food lover Pippa (and author of food blog The Intolerant Gourmet) soon began to explore the terrain of allergy-free cooking. The result? ‘Free-from’ is anything BUT boring- we can assure you! Pippa’s second cookbook, Free From Food For Families And Friends, was released earlier this month and is a real treasure trove of delicious, allergy-friendly recipes.
So, you can only imagine how excited we were to catch up with Pippa last week to talk all things free-from. Read on to discover the 6 things we learnt about Pippa...
She’s suffered from intolerances since she was 5
“I used to suffer from lots of tummy aches, itchy skin and chronic insomnia, but the cause wasn’t pinpointed until I was 20 – a severe intolerance to dairy. I went in for a small operation to repair the affects of 20 years of eating a food that my body was having a delayed allergic reaction to, only for it to go wrong. Sadly I ended up with a severely damaged digestive system and I could no longer tolerate eating wheat, dairy, eggs, soy and yeast.”
She explains that free-from isn’t actually that daunting
“If you cook from scratch, using a variety of fresh vegetables, fruit and meats, natural oils, pulses, grains, herbs and spices you will naturally be eating a free-from diet. Try using rice and other gluten free grains, quinoa instead of wheat, gram flour for pizza bases and breads, bake with rapeseed oil or coconut oil instead of butter, or ground flaxseed or apple puree for eggs.”
She’s always been a foodie
“My mum is an incredible cook and a massive inspiration for me. She was a vegetarian in a time when the vegetarian option tended to be bread and cheese, yet she cooked the most incredible and inventive food that tasted amazing. I’ve never been scared to experiment and create from scratch in the kitchen.”
She’s finds inspiration in her local deli
“I have a notebook that I jot ideas into- this is essential as I am always getting inspiration from looking in my local deli window or in food magazines. I always get inspired to make my own version of something.”
Free-from bread recipes are the trickiest to develop
“Although my approach is that there is no dish or recipe that cannot be developed, adapted, coerced and sometimes bettered by making it free-from, things like bread can be very tricky. It’s all because of the yeast, so things like bagels or cinnamon buns are incredibly challenging.”
Start small, trust your instincts and listen to your body
“This would be my advice to anyone trying to follow a gluten free diet. Replace breads and pastries with simple grains, crackers, and rice cakes to begin with, just to get started. Then experiment with making your own breads and pastries; a good way to begin is to adapt your favourite baking recipe that you know and love – use pre-mixed gluten free flour in place of the wheat. That way you’ll learn how gluten free baking works within a recipe that you are familiar with and you will end up with your favourite treats, too.”
CHICKEN, FENNEL & RAISIN RED RICE SALAD
This summertime salad is perfect for a light lunch or supper, or as part of a picnic spread. It’s a great way of using up leftover roast chicken, too. I’ve included a sweet-sharp honey mustard dressing, which adds a lovely tang, while toasted pumpkin seeds give crunch and extra nuttiness to the rice. Carmague red rice is available in most supermarkets, but if you can’t get hold of it then brown basmati or even quinoa is a good alternative.
(nut free gluten free dairy free egg free soya free)
175g Camargue red rice
500ml vegetable or chicken stock
50g pumpkin seeds
1 small fennel bulb
3 sticks of celery
350g cooked chicken
A small bunch of chives
For the honey mustard dressing:
1 tbsp English mustard
(1 heaped tbsp mustard powder mixed with 1 tbsp water) or homemade mustard
1 tbsp runny honey
5 tbsp extra-virgin olive oil
1 tsp lemon juice (optional)
Sea salt flakes and freshly ground black pepper
Place the rice in a large saucepan and pour over the stock, then cover with a lid and bring to the boil. Once the stock is boiling, reduce the heat and simmer gently for 30–35 minutes or until all of the liquid has been absorbed.
Set aside to cool completely. While the rice is cooling, make the dressing. Stir together the mustard and honey until combined. Pour in the olive oil, a little at a time, stirring or whisking continuously until emulsified. Season with salt and pepper to taste and add a little lemon juice if you think it needs it.
In a heavy-based frying pan, dry-fry the pumpkin seeds over a medium–high heat, shaking the pan regularly to ensure they don’t catch, for around 5 minutes or until lightly toasted.
Peel the cucumber, slice lengthways into quarters and then finely chop. Trim the ends from the fennel, cut into quarters lengthways and finely slice widthways.
Trim the celery and cut into thin rounds, then chop the chicken into 1cm dice and finely chop the chives.
Once the rice has cooled, fluff up with a fork and transfer to a large serving bowl. Add the chicken to the rice with the chives, cucumber, fennel, celery, raisins and toasted pumpkin seeds and mix together. Drizzle over the honey mustard dressing and toss lightly before serving.
This particular gingerbread has to be one of the easiest things in the world to prepare. In a matter of minutes you can have it in the oven, a bit of measuring and stirring your only chore, which makes it ideal for rustling up at short notice. It’s what you might call ‘rustic’ in appearance – I’ve yet to bake it without the top cracking a little – but this does nothing to diminish the gorgeous ginger flavour, with just a hint of citrus from the lemon juice and caramel sweetness from the soft brown sugar. And while it might look dense, the cake is actually very light in texture.
(nut free gluten free vegan soya free yeast free)
275g gluten-free self-raising flour (ideally Doves Farm)
1 tbsp ground ginger
1 tsp gluten-free baking powder
200g soft light brown sugar
100ml sunflower oil, plus extra for greasing
2 tbsp lemon juice
You will need a 900g (11cm x 22cm) loaf tin for this recipe
Preheat the oven to 200°C (400°F), gas mark 6, then lightly grease the loaf tin with sunflower oil and line with baking parchment.
Sift the flour, ginger and baking powder into a large mixing bowl, add the sugar and stir together until combined.
Pour in the sunflower oil, lemon juice and 170ml of water and stir together until you have a smooth batter.
Tip the mixture into the prepared loaf tin, levelling the top with the back of a spoon, and bake for 30–35 minutes or until golden and a cocktail stick or skewer inserted into the middle of the loaf comes out clean.
Leave to cool in the tin for 10 minutes and then transfer to a wire rack to cool down fully before cutting up to serve.
Free-From Food for Family and Friends by Pippa Kendrick is published by HarperCollins, £25.