Sam Pidoux

Sam Pidoux

sampidoux

Sam Pidoux is a multi-award winning journalist and part-time lecturer at the University of Lincoln. Her passion for baking was nurtured by her grandma and since being diagnosed with a wheat intolerance in 2007, Sam loves experimenting in the kitchen and creating delicious gluten-free savoury dishes and cakes.


It seems opinions are split when it comes to BBQs here in the UK. I have no idea why, but I was under the impression from Facebook and tweets in recent years that we Brits love to BBQ. However it also turns out it’s more hassle than it’s worth, or we don’t trust ourselves or others to cook food over an open flame.

Having asked several friends what they love about BBQs, I was surprised to find out that this way of cooking is really not for them, and perhaps better left to the Australians.

I love a good BBQ, and I have so many fond memories as a child of my dad outside getting the coal hot, so that a selection of meats can be charcoaled to perfection. I think the smoke and open flames make food taste better.

To me, lighting my BBQ is a signal summer has arrived and associate lots of great tastes with them.

Even though opinions amongst my friends seem to be split I have always admired the enthusiasm British people can have if they have planned a bank holiday or summer day’s BBQ. How many of you have stood under an umbrella and not admitted defeat as you turn your rather scary looking sausages in the pouring rain? I have witnessed several BBQs under the sun umbrella.

Once you have managed to get your BBQ lit and the coals are glowing nicely, one challenge that you might have is what to cook.

Most people opt for burgers, sausages and chicken coated in some sort of BBQ or Chinese flavouring. Great options if you can eat wheat and you are not a vegetarian… What about the people who can’t eat this food?

Here are a couple of ideas for you, and some of my tips for a great BBQ.

Vegetarians

If you have vegetarians coming over, find out what types of food they like. Not all of them will enjoy vegetable skewers and quorn items. Maybe they might like some halloumi cheese cooked on the BBQ, or what about wrapping up a wedge of Camembert with some fresh thyme and bake that on the BBQ?

When cooking for vegetarians, try not to cook their food on the same part of the grill as the meat. This is cross contamination and while perhaps not harmful to a vegetarian it can be disrespectful to their beliefs.

Allergies

When it comes to people with food allergies, this can be a little bit trickier. Always ask them what they can eat and keep the food simple. BBQs are great because you can keep the menu easy and the food has loads of flavour.

My top tip would be to buy good quality meat and not opt for the ready made BBQ packs. Chicken wings are inexpensive and great to barbecue – marinate them in fresh thyme, olive oil garlic and lemon to make them more interesting.

If you want to cook sausages look for ones that are gluten free. These are 100% meat and they taste much better than the cheaper variety that are filled with bread to bulk them out.

Making your own beef burgers is always good and I bet they will taste much better than the frozen variety. I have come up with a hassle free turkey and quinoa burger that is perfect for anyone on a gluten free diet and works on the BBQ.

Cross contamination can be an issue, and this time it is more serious. Make sure your grill is clean before you start and cook their food first, then keep warm in an oven until other items are cooked.

Summer days are numbered here in the UK and when the sun shines I think you should all get outside and enjoy a BBQ with your family and friends, as they make great social occasions.

Sam Pidoux is a multi-award winning journalist and part-time lecturer at the University of Lincoln. Her passion for baking was nurtured by her grandma and since being diagnosed with a wheat intolerance in 2007, Sam loves experimenting in the kitchen and creating delicious gluten-free savoury dishes and cakes.

Last week in the news, we heard that a University College London team concluded that seven or more portions of fruit and veg was healthier than the government’s recommendation of five portions.

I like fruit and veg and I often eat my five portions on a daily basis, but some days it can be challenging to have the variety that is recommended. Perhaps like a lot of people, I can be a bit fussy about which fruit and veg I eat. Some days I don’t feel like eating very much at all.

I don’t love every type of fruit and vegetable and often stick to the same varieties and types. It’s easier a lot of the time when shopping to put what you know tastes nice and what you can incorporate into meals or have as a healthy snack.

Being slightly fussy about fruit more so that vegetables, I tend to eat fruit that is not always in season, and because of my fussiness I pay the price for it. Over the past six months I have tallied up what I have spent on fruit alone and it shocked me that I was spending about £30 a month.

Living in Lincolnshire should be a real privilege, because one of the best things about this county is that we live amongst some fantastic local producers, and that should be celebrated.

I might not be able to change my picky tastes on fruit, but I knew that I could eat more seasonable vegetables, and ones that are grown right here in this county. I am passionate about great Lincolnshire food, but I realised as much as I championed some of the great produce that this country produces, I was not necessarily eating as much as I could.

In order to change this and become a more seasoned vegetable eater I subscribed to Woodlands Organic Farm’s vegetable box (other providers are also available, depending where you live). Every other week I am supplied with some very tasty vegetables that ordinarily I would not buy. I am able to select what I really don’t like, but I am willing to try most vegetables at least once.

I love the fact that I am now not only eating produce that was dug up from the ground a matter of hours ago. I have unknowingly encouraged myself to eat more vegetables – this should please the researchers in London.

Sam's tasty veg fritata.

Sam’s tasty veg fritata.

I am also incorporating more vegetables into all my meals and have often gone without meat or fish because I have made tasty and interesting meals with humble ingredients. You can check out a recipe for a vegetable frittata on my blog here.

Andrew Dennis owns Woodlands Organic Farm in Kirton. In an interview for Siren FM’s Food for Thought programme, Andrew explained about how fertile the soil is in Lincolnshire to grow almost anything.

He said: “Lincolnshire is blessed with this wonderful soil and it is full of natural deposits and you can grow almost anything here.

“We grow a full range of organic and biodynamic vegetables at the farm. The veg we grow ranges from boridge for Pimms through to beans. We have a full range of roots, leaves and salads and fruit. We have an astonishing range.”

With great farm shops and farms around us here in Lincolnshire, perhaps you could visit one and see what interesting meals you can come up that might just please those researchers in London!

Sam Pidoux is a multi-award winning journalist and part-time lecturer at the University of Lincoln. Her passion for baking was nurtured by her grandma and since being diagnosed with a wheat intolerance in 2007, Sam loves experimenting in the kitchen and creating delicious gluten-free savoury dishes and cakes.

There is nothing better than a warm hot cross bun, fresh from the oven. This sweet, sticky and spicy baked bread that has a cross on top is traditionally eaten at Easter time in the UK and in other English speaking Christian countries.

Back in the day when I could eat wheat, there was nothing better than a toasted hot cross bun with a little bit of butter on. I used to love walking into shops and smelling the spices of the freshly baked hot cross buns. Sadly now, I am not a huge lover of the smell of freshly baked goods as I walk into supermarkets.

Having experimented with bread in the past, I thought it was about time I attempted a gluten-free version of this sweetbread. How hard could it be? It turned out to be much more of a challenge than I had originally anticipated.

After looking through my library of cookbooks, I found a simple hot cross bun recipe. I am normally full of confidence when it comes to baking and adapting recipes to be gluten-free. This might be because over the years I have gained both knowledge and perhaps a bit of luck. This week it felt that my first time luck had run out.

A quirkier take on Hot Cross Buns - hot cross cupcakes? Photo: Samantha Pidoux

A quirkier take on Hot Cross Buns – hot cross cupcakes? Photo: Samantha Pidoux

I knew early on, in the proving stage, that this gluten free version was going to be very different. The dough was not doubling in size and after prodding it, it felt tough and not very soft like dough should be. As my heart started to sink, I desperately hoped that they would turn out better than they were looking. They did not, and for the first in a very long time, they ended up in the bin.

After a restless night, I decided to have another go. Adding a little more liquid to the original recipe and a fresh packet of yeast the second attempt was looking better. In the proving stage there seemed to be a better rise and things were looking up.

After the bake I cut one open as I could not wait. The taste was good, sweet and spicy, but the texture of the bun was heavy and dense. However, they were slightly more edible than the first batch. After a day or so though, the texture was so dense that the only way I can describe them is like rocks. So you can guess where they ended up!

I am determined to come up with a recipe that will work and that has a good texture and crumb structure before Easter.

Even though my hot cross buns this time did not turn out the way I had expected them to, I have however been inspired and combined all of the ingredients into a cupcake, which is not a bad substitute for now.

You can find out how I made my version of the hot cross bun cupcake over on my gluten-free blog.

Sam Pidoux is a multi-award winning journalist and part-time lecturer at the University of Lincoln. Her passion for baking was nurtured by her grandma and since being diagnosed with a wheat intolerance in 2007, Sam loves experimenting in the kitchen and creating delicious gluten-free savoury dishes and cakes.

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