Category Archives: Life Without Gluten

Fish and Chips, Gluten Free

Tommy Ruffs and a good beer batter make for great fish and chips, but not for the gluten-intolerant.

Having not had and fish and chips since my wife went gluten-free, some months ago, I thought that we were long overdue for some.

Chips

These do not come out of packets, they are made from a type from the tuber of the potato plant. Washed, peeled (only if the skin is daggy), and cut into chips, these are fried in deep fat at 180°Celsius.

For those who buy their chips in packets, beware – there is a good chance that there is wheat/gluten in there. If you are going to have chips, do them properly!

Battered Fish

When using wheat, I would toss the fish fillets in a freezer bag of durum wheat semolina (pasta flour), prior to battering. As a gluten-free substitute, I used corn flour (maize starch). Another caveat: some things sold as corn flour actually contain wheat. The term corn is dangerously ambiguous, which is why I tend to use the term maize.

For the batter, I used one cup of rice flour, a heaped teaspoon of guar gum, an egg, a large pinch of salt and just over a cup and a half of chilled water. This produced somewhat more batter than required, so could be scaled back.

Cooking

Chips were cooked first, then popped in a bowl in the oven to keep hot.

Floured fish dipped into the (thick) batter and lowered slowly into the deep fat. This slow introduction stops the fish from sinking straight to the bottom and the batter from sticking to the basket. I did the fish in two batches, keeping the first batch in the oven until the second was complete and then combining the batches for a few seconds before taking out.

After the fish has been removed, back into the fryer with the chips for a few seconds.

Results

Rice batter lacks any particular flavour but has good adhesion, crispness and is quite light, and – of course – is gluten-free.

Important Footnote

If cooking for the gluten-intolerant, do not fry in fat that has previously been used for gluten-containing foods. Bear this in mind as well, when eating out; if something is deep-fried, has that fryer/fat been used to cook breaded or wheat-battered foods? If you cannot get a quick and positive answer, avoid like the plague, unless you want to spend the next day or so looking at the back of the lavatory door, or worse.

British Parliament Debates Coeliac Disease

British coeliac sufferers can take heart at this parliamentary debate, as reported by Hansard.

Gordon Banks, parliamentary member for Ochil and South Perthshire, himself a coeliac suffer did well to raise this debate, and I hope that we see this go somewhere.

Whilst Britain may be behind Italy (as would appear to be all other nations) in awareness of and facilities for coeliac disease/gluten intolerance, dialogues like this can only be seen as progress.

Gluten-Free Makeup – A Cautionary Tale

One would think that refraining from eating foods containing or contaminated with gluten would be sufficient to protect the gluten-allergic from harm. (That and avoiding working in flour mills.)

It seems, however, that gluten has more ways of getting into the body than by the obvious route – it can also get in through the skin.

Every time my wife traveled to the City, despite careful avoidance of any gluten-containing food, she came back with a reaction. For a while, we suspected poor food hygiene and cross-contamination (still a risk). It was then discovered that a cosmetic product that she had been using – only before these journeys – contained wheat derivatives. This was confirmed by the manufacturer, who also advised that the product in question had been withdrawn, although not stating that it was for that reason.

Since then, my wife has moved to using mineral-based cosmetics from JR Minerals who, it should be noted, provided a first-class service.

I have heard since of another story of someone who had to stop working in a bakery due to gluten absorption through the hands. Protective gloves may have been an option, although I would certainly not want to work dough whilst wearing gloves, due to losing the “feel”.

Conclusion – if you you have gluten intolerance, not only do you need to carefully read the ingredients of everything that you eat or drink, but also what comes into contact with the body by other means. You have been warned.

Gluten Free, With Gusto

Finding ourselves in Norwood, at lunchtime, and with the Parade Thai – our usual Norwood eatery – closed, we needed lunch.

As a diabetic, I have to eat (no skipping meals), and with my wife being gluten intolerant, it also has to be quality, gluten-free food with no cross-contamination.

When looking for a “safe” eatery, the reaction of staff to “do you serve gluten-free food?” is always a good indicator. Blank looks or having to ask the kitchen are always a bad sign. Having a plate of gluten-free cakes, handled with the same tongs as other food is also a bad sign.

Asking at Gusto Ristorante got an immediate and postitive “all our risottos are gluten-free”. That was a good sign.

We used to frequent Gusto some while back, when it was known as Sketches. After it was sold and went to the Gusto name, we felt that the quality suffered considerably and had not been back in some time. However, on this visit, we were pleasantly surprised. The food was really excellent.

Both my wife’s risotto and my home-made Ravioli ai Vitello were truly delightful.

Thus begins my documentation of “gluten-free dining in Adelaide”.

Gusto Ristorante
121 The Parade, Norwood
Telephone: 08 8364 6422

Life Without Gluten – Introduction

Life Without Gluten is the latest category of articles to be added to Smiffy’s Place. My wife has recently discovered that she has a gluten intolerance, which has made life somewhat complicated, not only for her, when buying food or eating out, but for me, as the cook.

Living in a country where wheat is one of the main staples, the provision of gluten-free foods goes beyond a health issue; it is, in fact, an issue of social inclusion, as is the provision of foods free of other staples that contain common allergens (dairy, eggs, soy, etc).

In my Life Without Gluten series of articles, I will be sharing our experiences trying to obtain gluten-free foods, both in the supermarket and in restaurants and also any gluten-free recipes that I have developed or tested and that I deem worthy of note.

If you have experiences in this subject that you would like to share, please send e-mails to the address at the
bottom of the page.

Name and Shame!

If you have a mobility impairment, and a permit to park in mobility/disability parking spaces, you have experienced the inability of using those spaces because someone who didn't have a permit parked there illegally. It happens, everyday, everywhere.

Thus begins the introduction to caughtya.org a new, international, initiative to name and shame those who park in disabled (handicapped) parking spaces who have no right (or need) to do so.

Whether the inconsiderate type of person that actually does this would respond to (or even notice) being stigmatised for their actions remains to be seen, but this blogger rather likes the idea.

UPDATE – I have added this to my new category, Accessibility Rogues Gallery, as this site is performing much the same task, to my mind. Name and shame! Heh, heh!