I'm really pleased with this year's shortlist and there are definitely more than a few fantastic finds on it. But what about the everyday products that I depend on, ones that weren't entered into the contest? The thing is, although I can still eat all fruit, vegetables, meat, fish and dairy products and get my carb-fix from rice and potatoes, it's all a bit dull if I have nothing to perk them up with. Fuelled mostly by greediness (and a good amount of stubbornness), I have spent the past six years sourcing substitutes for all those things I once thought were lost.
When I do want to make gravy or sauces from scratch, I need something to thicken them. I used to use a lot of cornflour and it does the trick perfectly, but it makes the sauce cloudy, so I prefer to use arrowroot powder now, which leaves a cleaner looking sauce. If you want to make a roux for a white sauce, I'd recommend Dove's Farm rice flour, which gives a lovely smooth finish, whereas other gf flours can be a bit grainy.
Soya sauce is something I've covered before (if you don't do soya, try my suggestion for a good alternative for soya sauce in cooking), tamari, a Japanese variation of soya sauce is easily available. When recipes start specifying the use of light or dark soya sauce it gets tricky. I've found that Kikkoman gluten free tamari (the one you find in the freefrom aisle at Sainsbury's or at Sous Chef) makes the best alternative to light soya sauce, while Clearspring and Sanchi (found in Tesco, Waitrose and health food shops) can double as the dark stuff.
We've been asked about mustard quite a lot, some mustard use wheat flour in the recipes and others contain malt vinegar. Technically, malt vinegar is gluten free, but I know a lot of GF-ers who steer clear, just in case. English mustard is the biggest culprit and is definitely not suitable, but Colman's mustard powder is just mustard flour, so you can use that to make your own. Waitrose and Tracklements English mustards are gluten free, if you'd rather buy it already made up. In general, French mustard is gluten free because it's made to a different recipe, but do check the label to be sure.
I was lucky enough to judge the beer heat of the FreeFrom Food Awards last year and, although the judging comments on my last few beers were utterly incomprehensible, I was excited by the range of gluten free beer available. I absolutely love Daas Blond, and Estrella Damm Daura is (on sale in La Tasca) pretty great, too. When it comes to cooking with the stuff, Green's Dark Ale is a lovely addition to beef stew.
These lists are by no means definitive and I'd love to hear your suggestions for good gluten free substitutes, so please do share!