I must be the dinner party guest from hell. Any invitation to dine with friends is met with a list of foods I can't eat including; bread, pasta, noodles, english mustard, worcestershire sauce and soya sauce, to name a few. Add this to my husband's nut allergy and I'm amazed that anyone offers to cook for us! (We always suggest that we bring dessert to prevent our poor host suffering a melt-down before dinner has even started.)
Despite the long list of banned foods, it's actually pretty easy to cook for us "dietary impaired" people who can't eat wheat, barley, rye and oats. You don't have to buy any special ingredients or learn new cooking techniques, it's all in the menu. Risotto is a good choice - just make sure the stock is gluten free - and Hazel's salad risotto is bound to be a winner. I'd be equally delighted to be served a bean salad or a roast chicken (using cornflour to thicken the gravy means it's suitable for Coeliacs).
Polenta is cornmeal, so is naturally gluten free. I often use it as an easy alternative to mashed potatoes, which made me wonder if I could use it to make fishcakes. It turns out, you can and it works brilliantly. These fishcakes also happen to be dairy free and, since most of the work is done in advance, they're stress-free, too!
- 400ml water
- 100g quick-cook polenta, plus 2 tsbp extra for dusting
- 1/4 tsp salt
- 1/4 tsp ground black pepper
- 150g firm white fish, skin removed and cut into 1cm cubes (I use pollock, but any type will do)
- 50g pitted black olives, sliced
- 75g cherry tomatoes, deseeded and cut into eighths
- 1 tbsp capers (optional)
- 2 tbsp chopped fresh basil
- 1-2 tbsp light olive oil
- Heat the water in a saucepan until it starts to boil then trickle the polenta into the water, stirring constantly. Add the salt and pepper. The polenta will bubble and become thick, keep stirring for 3-4 minutes
- Add the fish, olives, tomatoes, caper and basil and stir for a further minute (it might hiss at you when you do this, don't panic!). Spread the mixture on an oiled chopping board, about 3cm thick and leave to cool.
- Once the polenta mixture had cooled it will be set firm. Cut out 8cm rounds, or cut into squares, brush with oil and dust with a little of the extra polenta. Place on a baking sheet and cook in a pre-heated oven at 200°C for 25 minutes, turning once.