The Allergy Show London 2016

It’s been a while since I’ve blogged (thanks, life) so I thought I’d make my ‘comeback’ with a round up of my trip to this year’s Allergy Show in London, which was my 5th!

Here are some my favourite brands this year:

BFree

 

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These guys have taken the gluten free market by storm in recent years, with their bread, bagels, pittas and wraps. Now avaialble across the country in Tesco & Waitrose stores, they launched their brand new Sweet Potato wraps at the show this weekend. Not only this, they’ve also made their whole range vegan!

Nutri-Brex

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This range of Weetabix-like cereal launched last year as Nutribix and Coeliac’s everywhere rejoiced as they could once again enjoy their favourite wholewheat breakfast. They’ve recently rebranded to Nutri-Bre to coincide with the launch of their second product in the range, which they sampled at the Allergy Show. The Coconut & Cripsy Rice Nutri-Brex is seriously good, with the rice giving it another level of texture. Not only are they sampling & selling their products, but they even gave a box of the original type away in the show goody bag!

Perk!er

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I met Ann & Steve at my first Allergy Show, when they were just a small start-up selling their rocky road & tiffin. They’ve come a long way since then and are a household favourites for many Coeliacs. Sadly some products haven’t made it along the way (RIP Tiffin) but their current range is still so good. I live on their porridge pots throughout winter (great for early starts watching my boyfriend play hockey) so of course stocked up on those, but I also tried their new Quinoa bars, which I have to say are fab! A few of the Sprouted Oaty Cranberry & Cashew Bars made it home with me… keep up the good work guys!

Dean’s Shortbread

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This was a new discovery for me this year, but a welcome one! A household name across Scotland, Dean’s are a family company who have branched out with their gluten free range of shortbread (Butter, Choc Chip and Choc chip & Stem Ginger). I was so impressed with the Choc Chip variety that I bought three packets! Although Walker’s is a firm favourite for me, these definitely give them a run for their money. You can order directly from their online store.

MOMA

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Many of you may have seen MOMA’s range of breakfast cereals, especially if you’re from London where they’re prevalent in so many stations. They’ve now made their whole range of porridge gluten free- hurrah! Their flavours are what make them interesting, with their range boasting cranberry & raisin, super seeds and coconut & chia, alongside the golden syrup and plain/plain (no added sugar) classics. So far I haven’t been able to hunt them down in stores so this was a welcome find at the show.

Venice Bakery

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Venice Bakery are Allergy Show regulars and each year and each year I stock up on pizza bases. You have a choice of either plain or seasoned, and a range consisting of large bases, mini bases, flatbreads and tortilla wraps. Their products are all vegan, gluten free and nut free too! You can see my full review here.

Wellaby’s

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I first found Wellaby’s products at the 2014 Allergy Show, where they were sampling their range of pitta chips and dips. I picked a few up to pack into my suitcase for my upcoming holiday to Ibiza- glad I did as they were perfect for a poolside snack! This year they’re back with their new range, Simple Bakes, which are savoury baked snacks, both gluten free and vegan. I tried the spicy chilli flavour, which taste EXACTLY how I remember Walkers Sesnsations Thai Sweet Chili crisps to taste. Definitely check these out if you ever get the chance!

Rule of Crumb

Many of you probably first heard of these guys through their Dragon’s Den pitch. Sadly they weren’t successful, but their appearance on the show definitely helped spread the word throughout the gluten free community. Their range of products include frozen chicken goujons, frozen fish fingers, part-baked breads and cereals, and they also target the catering business as a safe product to stock in restaurants & hotels. I tried their Salted Caramel Profiteroles and Oh My GOD were they good! Had I had a chance to eat them this weekend I’d have snapped up a few packs!

There were many other brands that I can mention, including Free From Fairy, Smooze, Gratify Gluten Free, London Falafel, Isabel’s and Gosh, so if you can take your time to really check out everyone then it’s worth it! I wish I’d had more time this year, as I keep seeing people’s Tweets and thinking ‘Damn I wish I’d picked that up’. But I’m happy with my haul, as is my tiny kitchen, and I’m looking forward to 2017!

What were your favourite finds at the Allergy Show this year?

Walkers Scottish Shortbread

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Last year Walker’s announced they were going to be launching two gluten free versions of their shortbread, and promptly made Coeliac’s across the UK incredibly happy! A long-time family favourite for many, their all-butter shortbreads seemed to be a distant memory for gluten free folk, so this was welcome news.

I have to admit though, it’s taken until now for me to try them myself! At first you could only order online through their website (and stock didn’t last long), before I spotted them early summer in Whole Foods London. I resisted the temptation to buy them then, but on my first day back in the UK post-holiday, I found them by chance in Waitrose. No hesitation this time, I picked up a pack of both the chocolate chip and plain shortbread.

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These are amazing. Simply no other way to describe them, they taste exactly as I remember all-butter shortbread to taste! They taste rich and creamy, and surprisingly there’s hardly any crumble to them, which makes them fantastic for dipping in your tea! Looking at the ingredients, it’s clear to see why these taste so much like the real thing- there’s no fussy ingredients in here, instead just simple free from alternatives (list of ingredients can be found below). As they say themselves on their website:

‘The range contains no artificial flavourings or colourings, contains no genetically modified ingredients (GMOs)contains no hydrogenated fatsis suitable for vegetarians and is certified OUD Kosher.’

What’s more, these products are certified by Coeliac UK so there’s no question whether their production methods are safe or not. Great piece of mind for Coeliacs!

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The range is new to Waitrose, with an introductory price of £1.87 per pack (until 29/09/15), after which the price will be £2.50. Honestly, I think they’re worth this price!

The full range, including shortbread rounds, lemon & ginger and chocolate chip, can be found on Walker’s website: http://www.walkersshortbread.com/uk/about/gluten-free/ where you can also purchase them (same cost as Waitrose unless you bulk buy). You can also see their new gluten free snack packs, which I really hope will be picked up by retailers across the UK. These would be fantastic to find out & about, and even better if they could be offered by airlines as part of gluten free meals! We can only hope (and maybe hint a lot over on Twitter…..).

Thank you Walker’s, for making such a delicious product available for Coeliacs once more. I can only hope this range expands and is made widely available.

I’d love to know what you think of these products, and if you’ve found them available from any other retailers, please let me know!

Ingredients and Nutritional information:

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Easy Peasy Shepherd’s Pie

Now that we’re in the throes of January blues I need more than just my weekly roast to see me through! I’m currently working my way through a list of childhood homemade favourites to cook for my boyfriend (I’m a typical girlfriend who loves to spoil him with food!) and a couple of weeks ago it was the turn of Shepherd’s Pie.

There’s lots of different variations to this recipe and although it’s traditionally made with lamb mince, I grew up with it being made with beef mince, which is what I used here. It’s probably similar to many that you’ve seen before, but it’s one my Nan has passed on to me so clearly it’s a popular variation! I’ve also used this as a chance to try the new Knorr stock pots, which boast that they add a rich and intense flavour to any dish. As most of these are gluten free, and their stock cubes are the only ones I use for the same reason, I was excited to see how they worked in this dish!

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Ingredients

1 tbsp oil, for the pan (I avidly use Lucy Bee Coconut Oil for all cooking!)

2 medium carrots, peeled and chopped

1 medium onion, peeled and chopped

3tbsp tomato purée

1 can (400g) chopped tomatoes

500g beef mince

290ml beef stock (I used Knorr Beef Stock Pots)

1tsp dried Rosemary and Thyme

Season with salt & pepper as desired

850g potatoes, peeled and chopped

100g butter

75ml milk

25g grated cheese

1. Heat the oil in a large pan, add the onion and carrots and cook until they soften and brown.

2. Add the mince and cook until brown.

3. Add the tomato purée, chopped tomatoes, rosemary & thyme and stir in well. Add the stock a little at a time, stirring in well before adding the rest.

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4. Cover and simmer for around 30 minutes until the liquid has thickened. Add seasoning as desired.

5. Whilst the meat is simmering, make up the mashed potato topping. Boil the potatoes in a pan until they are soft and breaking up. Drain, return to the pan and mash until smooth.

6. Add the milk and butter a little at a time and mash/mix thoroughly into the mixture. To get a smooth mix, I first mash them into the potato and then give it a good stir, repeating until all the milk and butter has been added.

7. Pre-heat the oven to 190ºC. Once cooked, turn the meat mixture out into a large dish and spread evenly. Top with the mashed potato, smoothing the mixture evenly and into all of the corners.

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8. Using a fork, drag it in long lines across the potato to create the classic pattern. I like to sprinkle the grated cheese on the top for extra flavour, it’s delicious melted on to the mash!

9. Cook for around 30 minutes, until the potato is golden.

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Knorr Pots

 

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The little pots are just like jelly! To use, you turn them into a jug and make up with 500ml of boiling water, just like you would with a stock cube. Stir continuosly until the jelly dissolves and you have your stock. Personally, I don’t think they’re any more amazing than the stock cubes, but some people might find them easier to use or have a better flavour, particularly if you are only really using stock in your recipe for the liquid (unlike this, where I also had chopped tomatoes). They’re available in the shops now, at around £2.50 for 8 pots.

 

Festive GF Wrap from Starbucks

Earlier this week on Twitter,  Steph mentioned that along with those ridiculously awesome red cups, this winter Starbucks have launched a Festive wrap that’s also Gluten Free. One mention of the word ‘Turkey’ and I was determined hunt one down!

I didn’t have to look very far as fortunately there’s a little Starbucks outside my office in North West London. Venturing out for lunch I was delighted to spot one! Also in red packaging, this ‘Limited Edition’ wrap is described as a ‘Gluten Free Turkey and Bacon Wrap’. Look closely at the ingredients listed on the front, and you find it contains:

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Turkey breast, smoked bacon, spinach, cranberry sauce, black pepper mayo and pork, sage and onion stuffing. Sounds like Christmas dinner all wrapped up, right?

IT IS.

I asked for my wrap to be heated (no one likes cold Christmas dinner after all) but took it back to my office. I queried the staff around their cross contamination procedure with the grill, and was happy to hear that they place two new sheets of baking paper underneath and on top of the wrap to prevent it touching the grill. I watched them do this to be on the side, but no issues!

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Back at my desk, I tucked in. WOW. To me, this tastes exactly like Christmas dinner, all the flavour combinations work brilliantly together and they’re not overpowering. The wrap, a multi-seeded wrap from Newburn Bakehouse,  held together well and I had no issues with it falling apart or losing the filling.

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My one issue was when the cranberry sauce made a bid for freedom on my nice yellow jumper….. 😦

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I’d suggest using a napkin!

The eat-in price is £3.29 which is pretty much the same cost as they’re ‘normal’ offerings, so I don’t feel like it’s a gluten free rip off in any way. I’m happy with their cross contamination controls and frankly, I’m just really happy to have another delicious lunch option for when I’m on the go!

Well done Starbucks, thank you for not forgetting your Coeliac customers during the festive period!

GF Doughnuts!!! From Feel Free

In August I was contacted to see if I’d like to be one of the first people to try a new gluten free product by free from company,  Feel Free. I was delighted to be asked and of course said yes, only for my excitement to be multiplied by a thousand when they said this product would be gluten free doughnuts!

God, I cannot tell you how much I miss doughnuts. They were a real treat for me, whether it be for a team meeting at work, standing in the queue at Thorpe Park (you all know the ones I mean) or grabbing a sneaky Krispy Kreme whilst shopping. Now whenever we visit Tesco my boyfriend always has a couple as his treat, whilst I sulk well away from that delicious smell wishing I could have just one bite…

So you can see why I’m so excited to try these!

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Feel Free isn’t a new brand in the Free From market but has become better known over the last year or so. Starred in 2004 by a diagnosed Coeliac, they wanted to create gluten free products of a high standard that are suitable for everyone to eat, not just those following a gluten free lifestyle.

These doughnuts were first sampled at the Allergy and Free From Show in London back in July, and following the positive feedback from visitors Feel Free decided to go ahead and launch them as soon as possible. Made from potato and rice starch, these sugared ring doughnuts are free from gluten and wheat but do contain egg and milk. They are sold in packs of four and come frozen and can be kept up to six months, meaning they’re handy for when you fancy something sweet or have a guest visiting.

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Inside the box these are individually wrapped, making them easy to take out one at a time. They should be defrosted for up to an hour before eating and then it’s recommended to heat then in the microwave for thirty seconds to enjoy them warm. I let mine defrost but we don’t have a microwave, so I popped them in the oven on a low temperature for 5 minutes until they were nice and warm.

*Note* It’s a good idea to flip these over once they’re out of the oven/microwave or transfer them to a different plate. The heat from the plate I’d warmed them on cause the bottom to go a little wet and the sugar to stick to the plate!

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WOW. Just wow. It’s pretty hard to think of a better way to describe these, particularly as this is all I kept saying! I couldn’t believe the smell as I was heating them up- I could have easily been at the seaside or Thorpe Park as they smell exactly the same. That delicious warm, sugary, doughy smell that sets your mouth watering.

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But then we get on to the taste. As I took my first bite I was concerned that these would be dry, particularly as the outside is more crisp than I remember of a doughnut,  but I need not have worried. The dough inside is SO soft, it completely melts in your mouth, with a slight crunch from the sugar coating that is deliciously sweet. I couldn’t wait to take another bite!

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I tried to savour them as best I could, letting the doughy taste mix with the sugar on my tongue as I would as a kid, but it wasn’t long before the first doughnut had gone!

Thank god I’d had the sense to get two out if the freezer!

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Look, this one even has its own little doughnut face!

For my second doughnut I decided to revisit my childhood and paired them with some chocolate dessert sauce. I remember how I’d always get my doughnuts with a chocolate dipping sauce and wanted to recreate that. The combination of the two was fantastic and a nice trip down memory lane, but I have to say I preferred these on their own in the end.

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These Feel Free doughnuts are a real first for the free from market and I’m grateful to have been able to try them. The taste is exactly as a doughnut should be, and aside from the unconventional storage method (I don’t think I’ve ever seen frozen doughnuts before) you really couldn’t tell that these are gluten free,  especially not in the taste.

I’d love to see the range expanded, perhaps with an option with a jam centre. It would also be great to have a larger packet available or mini versions if you’re having a party ( I think these would be great for kids!). Otherwise, these are near perfection and I urge you all to get your hands on some…..you really won’t regret it!

You can purchase these doughnuts via Feel Free’s online store. They cost £3.99 for a pack of 4 and delivery costs up to £8.65 (for a frozen courier) but is free for orders over £40.

New delights from Mrs Crimbles

There’s been a lot of Twitter talk over the last week since Mrs Crimble’s announced the arrival of two brand new products to their range. I was in contact with their PR team who very kindly sent me some samples to try and review for the blog. Here they are…. Country Fruit Slices and Zesty Lemon Slices.

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Mrs Crimble’s is a long established gluten free company providing sweet and savoury foods that are perfect for lunch boxes,  picnics, parties or just to accompany a cup of tea. My Grandad (who isn’t Coeliac), absolutely loves their macaroons and often heads to their local farm shop to grab a pack, whether I’m visiting or not! I’ve found that their snacks are great nibbles and perfect to take to a party as gluten free nibbles,  or into the office so I’m not left out when it comes to cake in team meetings!

I’m also a life long fan of those delicious Mr Kipling cake slices of old, so these products are a really exciting addition to the range for me. Can they live up to the pre – Coeliac favourites though?

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I was super excited to receive this gorgeous package in the post. The slices looked even more tasty having been presented so well and I couldn’t wait to get home with GBBO and  cuppa to try them!

The main packaging as always is gorgeous. It’s fun and bright but doesn’t stand out like a sore thumb, nor does it have free from plastered on the front. Instead, it simply says in a small symbol ‘Deliciously gluten free’. I love this as it’s subtle but gets the message across well, without alienating non – Coeliacs.
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First of all I tried the Country Fruit Slice. I’ve never been the biggest fan of fruit cake, instead preferring to pick the icing off the top and leave the cake. But this cake is very different, in that although it’s filled with fruit pieces it’s still light and moist. It has thin pastry base which helps to give texture and prevent too much crumbling, and is topped with gorgeously sweet icing droplets to finish it off. I was really impressed with how much I enjoyed it!

The Zesty Lemon slices….wow! They taste exactly as I remember Mr Kipling slices to be, and they’re deliciously sweet and moist. The icing is finished the slice with a pretty finish, although it is harder than I expected which is possibly why mine fell apart so easily in the post. However, it’s a great accompaniment to the cake in both great taste and the overall look ( and I do love a bit of icing left over at the end of the cake). My only criticism is that they were almost too moist, making it hard to pick them out of the packaging without them breaking up. Having said that, I’d rather an over moist cake than a dry one so it’s only a small criticism. Oh, and I think they need to be bigger….you can never have enough of a lemon slice! 😉

Overall my favourite is the Zesty Lemon slice, as it was my absolute favourite growing up. But the Country Fruit Slice had totally changed my view on fruit cake and I’d be more than happy to enjoy this ad a little treat. It makes a damn nice change from chocolate brownies!

I would also suggest that like Mr Kipling have done, it would be great to have the slices packed into little packets of two inside the box. It’s rare that I would eat more than two slices of cake in one go or even in one week, so the separated packaging would help to keep the remaining slices fresh until I’m ready to eat them. Mini packets are also fantastic for breaking out when you have a friend over for a coffee, or they could even be sold in coffee shops! I understand that Mrs Crimble’s are planning individually packed slices as well as the packs of four, so fingers crossed we see these available soon.

I’m really delighted that Mrs Crimble’s have launched gluten free versions of our old favourites, and rather than being disappointed that yet more unnecessary sugary products are filling the supermarket shelves, I’m happy to say I will definitely be buying these in the future. You’ll find me curled up on the sofa with a cup of tea and a Zesty Lemon slice with #GBBO tonight…..

Both products are hitting shelves near you soon, as they have already been picked up and stocked by Nisa and other wholesalers have placed their orders. Available in packs of four, both products will retail for around £1.89 per pack.

Venice Bakery Pizza Bases

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Venice Bakery, I am in love. Seriously, seriously in love. I can say, hand on heart, that your seasoned pizza bases are the BEST gluten free bases I have ever tasted. EVER.

If you haven’t heard of Venice Bakery or tried their pizza bases before, I urge you to read on and then GO FIND THEM!

I first discovered Venice Bakery at the 2013 Allergy and Free From Show in London. Keen to see why the stall in front of me was so crowded, I hung around waiting for the crowd to disperse and edged forward to discover…..pizza. Beautifully presented with an amazing aroma, before I’d even tasted it I could see why they’d been popular. I waited for the fresh slices to be brought out and dived in.

The BEST gluten free pizza ever. So chewy and doughy with just the right amount of crispyness at the crust, I really was in heaven. These bases are not only gluten free, but they’re also free from dairy, egg, nuts, soy and corn. I promptly grabbed one of each large base (they offer a plain or seasoned base, in large and small sizes) and totted off home, eager to try.

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Try I did- first of all the plain base during an evening with my bestie and homemade pizza. Even she tried a bit and was impressed with how good it tasted. I have to say though, the plain base didn’t win me over as much as it’s counterpart. It’s nice, but I found the flavour and the texture of the seasoned base much more palatable.

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When the 2014 Allergy Show rolled around last month, I headed to Venice Bakery early on in the day and it was already crowded with hungry show-goers eager to taste their wares- always a positive sign! This year they teamed up with Vegan cheese producer MozzaRisella, who’s rice based ‘cheese’ mimics mozzarella and is perfect for any dairy-free eaters out there.  They make the perfect pairing with a Venice Bakery base, and of course I had to try another fresh slice to make sure it still tasted as good as the year before. I wasn’t disappointed, and with their fantastic show deal I picked up two large bases, a pack of MozzaRisella and a pack of the smaller bases. I decided not to go for the flat breads, but really wish I had picked up a packet now- they’re definitely on my list for when I place an order!

 

I made my first pizza with one of these bases in 2014 last week. I cannot tell you how much I enjoyed it, even the leftovers in my lunch box the next day tasted fantastic cold! I simply topped it with a homemade pizza sauce, made from a recipe suggested by Venice Bakery (see below), slices of the MozzaRisella, slices of courgette, pepper, red onion, halved cherry tomatoes and some pine nuts.

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This week it was the turn of their mini bases- a pack of three seasoned bases that are just mini versions of the large base. Equally as delicious, these would work perfectly if you were having friends over or on a buffet. For me they were great to have as I couldn’t decide which topping to have! My two options were:

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Sacla Firey Chilli pesto mixed with tomato puree and topped with MozzaRisella, sweetcorn, red onion and cherry tomatoes.

Sacla Basil pesto topped with MozzaRisella, sweetcorn, red onion and cherry tomatoes.

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These bases really are perfect, and the fact that they’re free from multiple allergens make them far more accessible to people than many other gluten free bases are. They taste fantastic, have a fantastic texture and paired with the MozzaRisella you really can’t go wrong!

 

Adam from Venice Bakery has very kindly shared his recipe for a classic pizza sauce with us. This is a great recipe and the one I used for my large base.

A Classic Recipe for Pizza Sauce

Makes approx. 400 ml sauce

45 ml (3 tbsp) olive oil
1 garlic clove, finely chopped
2 x 400g cans chopped tomatoes
2.5 ml (1/2 tbsp) salt
2.5 ml (1/2 tbsp) dried oregano

1.    To prepare the sauce, heat the olive oil in a large heavy frying pan
2.    Add the garlic & cook for 1 to 2 minutes
3.    Add the tomatoes and crush any large chunks with a wooden spoon
4.    Simmer for 15 to 20 minutes, until most liquid has evaporated & the sauce has thickened
5.    Blitz in a food blender for 5-10 seconds
6.    Add the salt & oregano to taste
7.    Freeze any leftover sauce into portion sized freezer bags for future use

 

For anyone who is gluten free and also dairy free, these bases are a godsend and paired with the cheese, you’re in pizza heaven. It’s fantastic to see a brand catering for multiple alleriges and also helping another free-from brand to get introduced to their key audience. I predict big things for both companies in the free from world, and hopefully the larger retailers and even restaurants will take notice and begin to use these products.

I can’t wait to make my first order with them and stock up on the bases. Pizza is my winter comfort food staple and I’ve got lots of topping ideas I’m eager to try. If you’d like to get your hands on some of these bases, then head to the Venice Bakery wesbite now.

Coeliac Delight readers can claim 15% off their first orders until 7th September 2014! Just enter code ‘coeliacme15’ at the checkout (only one use valid per customer).

For more information on where to buy MozzaRisella cheese, head to their website here.

Enjoy!