Gluten-free Girl Guide biscuits? Really?

GagasIt’s Girl Guide biscuit time again! I used to love this time of year and still can’t decide whether chocolate Girl Guide biscuits are the best invention known to mankind or an abomination. Plain Girl Guide biscuits make great cheesecake bases and a number of other things biscuits related. But sadly, Ga Ga biscuits as they’re known in my house are not gluten-free.

Except that I ran across this article the other day:

Girl Scout Cookies Gluten-free

So the Girl Scouts of America are trialling gluten-free cookies. Here’s hoping that it will be popular and move down to New Zealand! And soon!

Hector’s gluten-free high tea

HectorsContinuing the Gluten-free High Teas of Auckland series…

A number of people had recommended Hector’s to me as a great place for high tea. I had the opportunity to go there just before Christmas, so I set off with very high expectations!

The area where the high tea is served is in the Atrium of the Heritage Hotel – a nicely leafy, light area, so very nice ambiance and lovely and cool on a sweltering summer’s day. Our waitress was a little pushy – there wasn’t much time for us to sit and chat before she was asking for our tea orders. We wanted to wait for our entire party to arrive, but she was so insistent that we all got our teas at different times.

Much like many other high tea establishments now, you can have a second pot of tea for no additional charge. BUT it must be the same kind of tea as you had before. Makes you wonder if they are just re-using the leaves…at Hector’s, the tea list wasn’t extensive, so there wasn’t too much of an issue, but there were two I wanted to try. I wasn’t prepared to pay the extra however!

And what about the food I hear you ask? My platter looked nice and there were plenty of sandwiches. The bread was a little dry, but certainly edible, and the fillings were nice. Oddly, there were French macarons on the normal high teas, but on enquiry, these weren’t gluten-free (and actually weren’t very nice either!). There was a nice selection of little balls made of nuts, plus some fresh fruit as the top layer of the platter.

Overall, I’d place this at about the same level as the Stamford high tea we did a while ago – a solid 6/10, although I was impressed that they didn’t charge any extra for the gluten-free option. Again, I was disappointed by the lack of attempt at a scone, and the other high teas did look nice., although the reports were that it was a little average. I think that high teas are the “in” thing at the moment and everyone is having a go at them. I’ve heard that SkyCity Orbit is really good for normal high teas, so am going to investigate and see if they have a gluten-free option.

Frasers Mt Eden – an excellent place to lunch

On my birthday, my husband, daughter number two and I headed into Mt Eden for lunch. We wanted to buy some tea and books (for those interested, check out Chapter. Whilst I love their tea (I buy decaffeinated Earl Grey and cinnamon tea there) and the books are excellent, their food options are extremely limited for someone who can’t eaten gluten or eggs. So we thought we’d go for a  wander and  see what we could find in the area. Mt Eden is a FANTASTIC place to eat with a pile of cafes around. Eventually, we settled on Frasers, partly because when we looked at the menu board, this is what we saw:

Frasers 2Yes, that’s a menu board with gluten-free options clearly indicated! This is the dinner menu which has FOUR gluten-free options (including fish and chips, so I’ll have to go back!). The lunch menu has two gluten-free options, and a number of other items which can be made gluten-free. I’m not a fan of beetroot especially, but I am a fan of falafels, so I opted for the Falafel Salad with haloumi and roasted beetroot. Here’s what came out:

Frasers 5 Frasers 4The flavours were great, the beetroot surprisingly nice and I thoroughly enjoyed the meal. I followed this up (it was my birthday after all!) with a Mediterranean Orange Cake. Yum. There were also gluten-free friands for those who would like something a little smaller.

It was so good that I had started eating it before I remembered to take a photo!

It was so good that I had started eating it before I remembered to take a photo!

The “normal” meals were also delicious and the HUGE range of sweet treats (cheesecake etc) met with approval from my dining companions.

In the interests of my readers (I was only thinking of you!), my husband and I returned on one of our grown-ups’ days off over the long holidays. This time, I had the smoked fish croquettes with the homemade crisps. On the menu, it was served with an apple-radish salad, and apples are on my forbidden list. The staff were perfectly happy to take out the apples and just give me a radish salad, which is always nice.  Oh. My. Gosh. Delicate, rich, flavoursome. Delicious.

I may have dipped my finger into the remoulade before taking this photo...

I may have dipped my finger into the remoulade before taking this photo…

I may have had the orange cake again. There were no excuses this time, I just liked it and it went very well with my Harney’s tea. With both an excellent menu and a variety of cabinet food, I would highly recommend Frasers for both the gluten-intolerant and those who can eat anything. On the three occasions I’ve been there, they’ve been madly busy, but always pleasant with no feel of rush or bustle and with warm, efficient service. I caught up with a friend there last week and had the falafels again. The waitress noticed I hadn’t eaten much of my beetroot, and said “next time you come, ask for it with no beetroot – we can substitute something else for you!” This was lovely, and very nice that it was noticed and mentioned.

Frasers can be found at 434 Mt Eden Road, on the corner of Stokes Road.

Note: this is not a sponsored post, I just happened to rock along to Frasers on my birthday. Also, as with any Eating Out post, I have not examined their kitchen for cross-contamination, so if you are coeliac or especially sensitive to gluten, you need to give them a call and ask what they do in their kitchen.

Gluten-free Mexican Food suppliers

My husband is an excellent man in many ways, and one of these is that he is constantly on the lookout for new gluten-free things for me. Near his work, he came across a cafe called Mexican Specialities. As I have been on a quest for gluten-free tortillas for some time, he thought he’d see if they had any. Well, they do! And he bought a stack of about 50 of them for around $13.00. They are good fresh corn tortillas, very similar to the ones they use at Mexicali Fresh or Mad Mex. They do need to be heated, but can be shaped into a taco style shell or used as a soft tortilla for burritos, enchiladas and the like. They freeze well and separate easily.

You can find Mexican Specialities online here where they offer many imported Mexican items (including decorative items and Day of the Dead paraphernalia) or visit them at the cafe:

5/92 Marua Road

Ellerslie

Note that they are only open for lunch on Thursday, Friday and Saturday.

Edited to change the post title, as it sounded like I had found a supplier of gluten-free Mexicans which was not the case at all!

Zero-G Wholemeal Gluten-free bread mix

20140203-231832.jpgAnother new product has come across my desk! Well, across my oven! Zero-G Wheat & Gluten-free Wholemeal Bread Mix, which is  a product I hadn’t come across before.  Janelle McNeil has recently taken over this company and kindly sent me through a sample. The mix is gluten-free, dairy-free, egg free, soy free, wheat and potato free. I made a loaf at the weekend, and was very pleased with the result – for the most part!

The mixing is very straightforward and easy, and I left the bread to rise on the window sill. The dough looked like such a small amount, I was sure my big loaf tin would be fine. About 45 minutes into the rising, I happened to look at the window and here’s what I saw…

20140203-231843.jpgOops!!

However, the finished product came up very nicely. It has a nutty flavour, no aftertaste and made up into very nice ham and mustard sandwiches for our afternoon high tea. The only drawback was that I couldn’t slice the loaf very thinly, either the day it was cooked, or the next day. But having a doorstop of tasty bread as toast for my breakfast was lovely!

You can find Zero-G at their website or on their Facebook page (search for Zero-G NZ).

I was not paid in any way to write this review, apart from receiving a sample to try.

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Soft fish tacos

I have a new favourite summer dinner which is quick and easy and extraordinarily tasty! And it’s all due to two new products I’ve found. The first, I sampled at the Gluten-free Food and Allergy Show this year and it was the Sealord Gluten-free Crumbed Fish Fillets. At the time, couldn’t think of any way I would use them. Then I came across Gerry’s Go No Gluten Wraps at a reasonable price, and EUREKA! A yummy new dinner, and what’s more, it’s one the whole family can enjoy, although for them, they just eat the regular fish and wraps.

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Ingredients

  • Sealord Gluten-free Crumbed Fish Fillets (1 for each wrap)
  • Gerry’s Go No Gluten Wraps
  • Lettuce
  • Guacamole or avocado
  • Sour cream
  • Sweet chilli sauce
  • Salsa cruda (recipe below)
  • Grated cheese (optional)
  • Chopped tomato (optional)

Method

  • Prepare the salsa and guacamole a little before you are ready to serve the dinner.
  • Cook the fish according to the directions – about 25 minutes in a hot oven.
  • Heat the wraps in a cast iron frypan just before serving.
  • Either assemble the tacos before serving, or let everyone assemble their own with the ingredients that they want.

And this is the result:

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The fish is tasty and the crumb is light. The wraps are very nice, and I found that they stayed nice and fresh in the fridge for a week or so after opening the packet. They are best warmed through, either in a cast iron frypan or microwave or oven. Best of all, they’re readily available at my local Pak n Save!

Salsa Cruda

Ingredients

  • Half a red capsicum, finely chopped
  • Half a green or yellow capsicum, finely chopped
  • Half a red onion, finely chopped
  • 1 green chilli, finely chopped
  • 2 stalks celery, finely chopped
  • Half a tomato, finely chopped
  • Half a cup of fresh coriander, chopped
  • 1 tsp cumin seeds
  • 2 tbsp oil
  • 2 tbsp red wine vinegar
  • Salt and pepper to taste

Method

Combine all in a bowl. Cover and refrigerate until it is time to serve. Excellent in tacos, fajitas, with salad and even with eggs as a huevos rancheros.

Abe’s Bagels – gluten-free!

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I saw a Facebook ad just before Christmas for Abe’s Gluten-free Bagels, and thought “what a great idea!” So I very cheekily contacted Abe’s and asked if they would be prepared to send me a sample. They very kindly did so and a few days later, several packets of bagels arrived.

I took them home and my tasting panel and I immediately sampled them fresh. As they’re bagels, of course we toasted them. I had one with just butter, and a second with avocado. They were the prefect texture for bagels and the taste was fabulous, even with just butter. My tasting panel shared one bagel and pronounced them yummy, both with butter and jam.

My extra test for any bread-like product is how they are after being frozen. The reason for this is that I am the only gluten-intolerant person in my household, and I can’t go through, for instance, a loaf of bread or a packet of bagels in one sitting. So I freeze everything and just take out what I need. Accordingly, the bagels went into the freezer and I tried one a few days later. I defrosted it a little in the microwave, which is what I would do for a normal bagel, and then toasted it. Exactly the same result – delicious!

Abe’s have worked with Venerdi to produce these bagels, and the product is delicious. In theory, they should be at my local supermarket with the other gluten-free products. I have yet to find them at my Pak n Save, but have yet to check out New World and Countdown. I’ll keep you all posted on where I find them, and perhaps in the meantime, let me know if you come across them somewhere!