Chocolate brownie tart (FODMAP friendly, gluten free, dairy free)


DSC_0006Truth be told, I got pretty fed-up with the low FODMAP diet. I spent a week on holiday with my family and we like our food. On holiday particularly, we treat ourselves. Pretty much every day for the week, they would treat themselves to tea and cake, Cornish pasties, ice-cream, or pastries. Each time my mum would say, sympathetically “I don’t suppose there’s anything you can eat?”. Each time I would shake my head and she would give me a sad-but-encouraging smile then quickly tuck into whatever she was eating with relish and seem to forget I had to sit and watch. Even eating out was near impossible so I would sit each lunchtime in a cafe with my sad-and-soggy gluten free sandwich with the same filling I’d been eating all week.

It’s the monotony of eating the same thing each day which I struggle with. It feels as though so few ingredients are safe for me that I lose all enthusiasm to cook at all and, when my gut gets bad all I want is to forget about eating all together.

So there I was, feeling like I might as well give up with the blog, if not all hope of good food, when I check and found that new people had followed. I hadn’t even posted recently and still, people are finding this place! It was the reminder I needed that I’m not going through this alone. Around 10-15% of our population have IBS yet there is so little knowledge about it! Maybe it’s embarrassment that keeps people quiet. Still, this was the spur I needed to get back on the horse. So, guys…I’m back! And this time I’m armed with more determination and a low FODMAP cookbook. And to celebrate, I baked you the yummiest chocolate brownie tart, based on a recipe from the book. Enjoy…

For the crust:
140g gluten-free oat cookies (I used Nairn’s oat and ginger cookies because ginger makes everything better)
60g plain cook’s chocolate (no milk)
75g lactose free/dairy free margarine
For the filling:
225g plain cook’s chocolate (no milk)
150g lactose free/dairy free margarine
165g caster sugar
2 teaspoons vanilla extract
5 eggs

Preheat the oven to 150°C. Line a 23cm tart tin
Crush the biscuits (that’s right, let out all the anger about not being able to buy a normal godamn pack of biscuits) and pour into a bowl.
Finely chop the chocolate for the crust and add this to the biscuits. Melt the margarine and add this too. Mix everything together and press into the bottom and sides of the tart tin.
Set this aside in the fridge to set solid.
Chop the chocolate for the filling and place in a heatproof bowl. Set over a saucepan of simmering water and allow to melt, stirring occasionally. Set aside to cool slightly.
Combine the margarine, sugar, vanilla and one egg with a handheld beater until pale and creamy. Add the chocolate and beat well.
Clean the beaters and, in a clean bowl, beat the remaining 4 eggs until light and fluffy (about doubled in size).
Pour the chocolate mixture into the eggs and beat on low until combined.
Pour the filling over the base.
Bake for 50-60 minutes (Less if you want the filling gooey).
Allow to cool and set properly.

I made a few adjustments from the original, and mine was more cake-like that tart-like but if you want the original, or any other low fodmap inspiration, you can find the Low FODMAP cookbook here.

Pitt Rivers Museum, Oxford


I count myself lucky that I grew up in a family interested in museums, in a country where the major ones are free. I’ve seen a fair number around the south of England, but my favourite by a long way is Oxford’s Pitt Rivers collection. The first, large, open room is the natural history museum. A vast, pointed sperm whale jaw greets you at the entrance, pointing you onward.



Here we see Newton contemplating how the hell this this arrived at this feet…

Science old and new sit side-by-side. The room is sort of a jumble of different things, somehow encapsulating so much in relatively little space. The museum sent me back to the excitement I felt as a child again. Some exhibits made me want to head straight back to university to learn. Others made me lust to wander the world. But, lovely as this room is, follow it through to the back and you will find yourself in the original Pitt Rivers’ collection.


My sister compared it to the room of requirements. And speaking of Harry Potter, recognise this..?

The real head, alongside two…ummm…friends, can be found in cases among the farrago. The whole place makes my skin crawl with horror and delight simultaneously. Each case, cabinet and container is sorted by theme rather than time or place, illuminating cross-cultural links as well as differences. It is easy to think that horrors such as shrunken heads come from some primitive world but in a draw somewhere on the first floor I discovered a little box containing simply the tip of a human tongue. It was beautifully labelled with where it had been collected, that place just so happened to be my hometown in rural southern England…

The room is beauty and horror intermingled, with intricate ivory carvings, capes made of bird feathers or beads and a hundred other, unimaginable wonders alike. I cannot begin to guess at the lifetimes of work which produced all we saw.





Of course, all of this is set in the wonderful city of Oxford. The broad stone streets, spiraling with ivy, are pretty much an idealised English city. With the general buzz of students and tourists, the town seems to give off a contented hum of life, with something beautiful around every corner.


And my family being as we are, we had include food in our trip. We stopped by Greens, a wonderfully friendly little cafe, catering to vegan and gluten-free needs as well as the omnivores among us. We took a seat upstairs by an open window to watch the wind play with the leaves of the trees outside and marvel at the good English weather, while we tucked into roast beef and stilton, gluten free tofu-scramble sandwiches, and tomato and lentil soup, and the delectable array of home-baked goodies.


CSC_0073 A beautiful day in a beautiful city – well worth a visit. The Pitt Rivers is truly a unique experience but the city holds something for everyone.

Chocolate and coconut polenta cake (gluten and dairy free)


For all those in the UK, the Great British Bake off is back! It’s off with as much drama and scandal as a show about middle-class British people baking can have (I’m not knocking it, I love this show!) So, in celebration, I baked a cake that I could actually eat eat: enter the polenta cake…


300ml coconut milk (the sort you’ll find in a can – rich, creamy and solid at room temperature)
100g polenta (in granule form – not pre-cooked)
50g brown sugar
200g dark (milk free) chocolate
1 pinch of salt
1/2 tsp salt
1/2 tsp sugar
2 eggs
1 tsp bicarbonate of soda

For the icing:
100g coconut milk (same as above)
50g soft brown sugar
50g desiccated coconut


Preheat the oven to 180°C
Heat the coconut milk, sugar, and chocolate in a pan until they have melted and combined.
Add the polenta and cook gently, stirring, for 3-4 minutes until thick.
In a bowl, separate the eggs and add the yolks to the pan along with the vanilla and salt.
Beat the egg white until frothy. Add in the bicarb and continue to beat until it forms stiff peaks.
Once the polenta is cooked, set aside to cool slightly. Spoon a little of the egg white into the polenta mix and stir through to loosen it, then add everything from the pan into the egg white and fold through with a metal spoon.
Pour the batter into two 9 inch cake tins. Bake for 30 minutes until the outside is slightly crisp.

Once the cake is completely cool, beat together all of the icing ingredients and use this to fill and top the cake. Enjoy!

It’s a bit gooey and pudding-y, part cake, part chocolate brownie. But seriously, it is good!

The Grilled Cheese


DSC_0351Part grilled cheese, part croque madame, part rarebit, this is basically a humble love letter to all I cannot eat right now. If you’re looking for the ultimate brunch, or just a way to say I love you with food, this goes down pretty well. The ingredients are pretty traditional but the mix is novel but believe me, it’s right.



Two thick slices of soft white bread
50g mozzarella
20g spicy cheddar
1 tsp Worcester sauce
1 egg
salt and pepper
20g mozzarella for top

Pre-heat the grill/broiler to maximum
Butter 1 side of each bread slice. Heat a large frying pan and place each slice of bread in, butter-side down. Cover 1 slice with the first lot of mozzarella and the other with the cheddar. Allow the cheese to melt.
Pour the Worcester sauce over one slice and remove the pan from the heat.
Just a tip: when I first cracked the egg on top, I turned away and turned back moments later to discover the yolk had slipped straight off at sat sunnily beside the sandwich so before anything, grab a piece of tinfoil and make a little cradle for the sandwich.
Next put the sandwich together and crack the egg on top. Season with salt and pepper.
Sprinkle the remaining mozzarella on top and place under the grill for 2-3 minutes until the egg white has cooked and the topping has melted and begun to bubble and brown.

Foodie adventures in York (low FODMAP style)

IMG_20150724_123053 (1)

As I talked about in my last post, I’m now on a low FODMAP diet. This can make things difficult at the best of times, particularly when out and about. York is a very foodie city, which can be lovely but it’s more of a torment for me right now. Last week, I found myself alone at home with nothing to do but await my train the following day, so I took myself out into York’s cobbled streets to see where I would find myself. The city truely feels like home now and I was happy to wander aimlessly all day, but inevitably, my stomach rules and I knew I would need nourishment.

The Shambles – perhaps the oldest and loveliest part of the city – has a wonderful daily market with fresh fruit and vegetables, a butcher’s and a fishmonger’s, as well as stands selling burgers, sandwiches and all the lunchtime staples. The main issue for me on this diet is that gluten intolerance leaves me unable to grab a sandwich while out. There is a little deli I’ve passed so many times, tucked away in the market but what I had not noticed before was the menu outside; they sell salads and sandwiches to take away. I ordered a salad pot, which included basic salad topped with a choice of 2 side salads and a choice of main from anything in their stunning and extensive stunning counter, I chose – after much deliberation –IMG_20150724_131206 courgette and tomato salad, picorino peppers and their ‘famous’ crab pate (it deserves fame, I can tell you).


IMG_20150724_131644I wandered a little more and found myself inevitably craving something sweet. The problem with low FODMAP is that so many fruit and vegetables that are not normally problematic for people become inedible. For those looking for dairy free or vegan food, there are lots of options. A vegan friend of mine took me to a gorgeous little cafe called goji which serves an amazing menu of vegetarian and vegan food (including vegan milkshakes!!). Instead, I decided to explore La Cremeria, a cute little ice cream parlour which promised dairy-free sorbet options. They had 3 sorbets on offer and I ordered 2 scoops of lemon-earl grey. I went for 2 scoops since it was only 50p more and I thought I wouldn’t get much for my £2 just getting one scoop. As usual, I underestimated the generosity of northern portions and was handed a pot overflowing with creamy delicious-ness.


I found a bench in a relatively quiet spot behind the minster to sit and enjoy my sorbet and got into a conversation with a street sweeper on his break. I’ve been here 2 years and it still surprises me how friendly and open people in the north of England tend to be compared to those in the south. All in all, despite the clouds in the sky, I ended up having a wonderful day of good food and lovely people no further from home than my beautiful little city.

FODMAP-ing fun

Gluten free and dairy free dark chocolate macaroons!
Gluten free and dairy free dark chocolate macaroons!
Gluten free and dairy free dark chocolate macaroons!

Something I haven’t brought up here before is something I’ve been dealing with for a couple of years now, and from the sounds of it, I’m not alone. Anyone can suffer IBS, though it’s twice as common in women as in men. The causes and symptoms vary a lot, and as such, it can be very difficult to treat. So far, nothing has proven effective for helping me but most recently, I’ve been placed on a low FODMAP diet.

FODMAP: Fermentable Oligo-, Di-,Mono-saccharides And Polyols. These are short chain carbohydrates (oligosaccharides), disaccharides,monosaccharides and related alcohols that are poorly absorbed in the small intestine. I’ll spare you the details but it essentially leaves me with a very restricted diet, excluding lactose and gluten.

All in all, it’s not easy to find low FODMAP recipes so to help my fellow IBS sufferers, I am going to be posting some alongside the regular stuff. But don’t get put off! They’ll still be delicious, plus lactose and gluten free!

More exciting stuff…I have an instagram! Yes, this is totally just an excuse for gratuitous foodie photos but that’s fine, right? Check it out