Recipe #9: Gluten-free lemon olive oil cake

This is the recipe that convinced me ‘Cup4Cup’ flour is simply the best gluten-free flour around. Unfortunately, it’s only available in the US, but I’m hoping it will make it across the pond soon. Otherwise, I will have to continue bringing a bag back in my suitcase every time I visit family and friends back home …

I clipped this recipe from an American magazine so the measurements are not imperial. But cup measuring spoons are now readily available in cooking shops here. All the ingredients are easy to find. Just make sure to use cornmeal, as in polenta, rather than cornflour, the thickener.

These beautiful cakes come together very easily. Only ½ cup of cornmeal is required so the cakes do not have the gritty texture that some cornmeal-based recipes develop. The Cup4Cup flour helps the batter retain a very similar texture and consistency to that made with standard flour and does not require additional xantham gum for sponginess. I think the hardest thing about this recipe was greasing the mini bundt cake pan and making sure the cakes wouldn’t stick in the nooks and crannies. But you could easily use a loaf pan or mini loaf pans instead.

Mine didn’t brown as nicely as those pictured in the recipe, but perhaps I’ll leave them in the oven a little longer next time. And of course, the sprinkling of powdered sugar makes a lovely presentation.

If you’re looking for a gluten-free flour substitute, please try Cup4Cup if you can get hold of it. And if you can’t, please email the company and tell them how much you’d like to see it here in the UK and perhaps we’ll generate a groundswell of demand! Hungry Games verdict: this recipe stays in my kitchen, along with my precious bag of Cup4Cup flour.

lemon olive oil cake lemon olive oil cake results

Recipe #8: Egg and bacon stuffed tomatoes

Look at the gorgeous photo included with this recipe. The colours and textures convinced me to clip it from a Sunday supplement and I was excited to try cooking it. While it does include bacon, this recipe appealed to me because it’s light on the meat content. It’s positioned as a breakfast item, but we love this type of thing for dinner. So I tried it as a mid-week meal.

Starting with ingredients, the list was quite short and easy to acquire. Slightly annoying was the tomato item listed as topped and emptied. My feeling is that the instructions to slice off the lids and scoop out the contents should be part of the recipe; it’s not as if you can find tomatoes already prepared this way at the store. A minor offense, however, and not a problem if you read the recipe prior to starting to cook.

Hollowing out the tomatoes took a bit of patience and finesse, especially for the very ripe tomatoes. I suggest trying a grapefruit knife with a curved end to reach the bottoms of the tomatoes. Then scrambling the eggs was straightforward, though I probably let them cook a bit too long. Next time, I’ll watch the pan more closely, take the eggs off when they’re still runny as the recipe instructs so they pour into the tomato bowls more easily. I used cubed pancetta instead of chopping bacon and pre-cooked it a bit in a separate pan.

The filled tomatoes looked sweet going into the oven and the kitchen started to smell lovely as everything roasted together. My children added a bit of cheese on top of their tomatoes instead of dill and that was an easy way to tailor these treats. The resulting stuffed tomatoes were beautiful on the plate and tasted great too. Hungry Games verdict: this easy recipe can certainly stay in my kitchen!

egg and bacon stuffed tomatoes egg and bacon stuffed tomatoes cooked

Recipe #7: Moroccan lamb

Even though this recipe describes itself as a summer roast, I gave it a try recently and it went down a treat no matter the season. Right up top, alternative cooking instructions were given to cook the lamb in a slow cooker so I jumped at that opportunity. The ultimate in advance preparation, I looked forward to popping the joint into the slow cooker in the middle of the day, then coming home to dinner ready to eat in the evening.

Some typical ingredients went into the slow cooker with the lamb but also dried apricots and a lovely Moroccan-inspired paste to top the joint. I couldn’t find pomegranate molasses at the grocery store, which surprised me as this was a Sainsbury’s recipe. I had some treacle in the cupboard and guessed that this might be the right consistency so I added this to the paste instead.

All went well assembling the ingredients in the slow cooker. The recipe instructed me to use a ‘high’ setting on the slow cooker but mine only had one setting. I gave the dish an extra hour to cook so I hoped that would make up for the lower temperature.

Well, sadly, that was a false hope and I was disappointed to come home in the evening to find no warm aroma of lamb in the house and a barely cooked joint in the slow cooker. It’s hard for me to blame the recipe as my slow cooker probably wasn’t on a high enough temperature. But we were still disappointed when I had to throw together something else for dinner instead. I finished cooking this lamb dish the next night in the regular oven and I’m happy to report that it was delicious. Even the children voted it a keeper. So, despite the very mixed bag of good and bad results, The Hungry Games verdict for Moroccan lamb is that it can stay in my kitchen! Obviously, I’ll probably use the regular oven rather than the slow cooker next time.

Moroccan lamb