Home Cooked 4 You – the best of gluten-free cooking
I have known Tina Knight from Home Cooked 4 You for a while now. We first met at Poringland Farmer’s Market – sorry Delicate Diners, she gave up that spot a long time ago – and was instantly intrigued by her offerings. Many just happened to be gluten-free, and that suited me now. Now, however, Tina has expanded her range considerably and I have loved being a guinea pig for her this summer as she’s tempted me with pasties, rolls, cake, eggs… And this is in addition to her already fabulous range!
Home Cooked 4 You – the original
I liked Tina from the moment I met her. Bright, bubbly, intelligent – and a bloody good cook! Like me, Tina has spent time in the Middle East and as such, she is very much into flavour. In fact, the biggest compliment I can pay Tina is that I would serve her own food at my own parties, it is that good, and the flavours that she uses are ones that I love.
For me, food has to have flavour and lots of it. Something bland and insipid that has you reaching for the seasoning pot just doesn’t cut it for me. From that very first time I met Tina in Poringland, the flavours – and inspiration from food around the world – was evident. That first day, I tried the two pates – smoked mackerel, and chicken liver – and the luxury mixed meat ragu. I was honest, I am not a fan of bolognese, so the thought of a ragu was not one I was enthusiastic about.
How wrong could I be?
The ragu was rich, deep, full of flavour. You could tell that it had been cooked for hours to get that level of intensity. Fill with a great range of meat, including chopped chicken livers, and a superb sauce, the ragu has become a family favourite and we just love it. We serve ours with gluten-free pasta, and if I have some veg that needs eating up – peppers, mushrooms, courgettes etc – I will add those in too.
Other delights of Tina’s that I enjoyed include a fabulous aubergine parmigiana. As you can imagine, it was full of flavour, the smokey aubergine and tomato marrying together perfectly to create a delicious dish.
Other gluten-free offerings available include cajun chicken gumbo, pork in cider with apples, Swedish-style pork meatballs, cottage pie, Thai green vegetable curry, mixed bean chill, roasted root vegetable crumble, potato Boulangeres, sweet potato and chipotle, butternut dauphinoise, and pork terrine. Phew! And we had better not forget the desserts – chocolate and orange roulade, and lemon meringue roulade.
I just had to try the lemon meringue roulade one day. Delicious! It serves four-to-six people, but I fear that we might have enjoyed it in just one day…!
All of the Home Cooked 4 You products are frozen, so it is easy to buy Tina’s food, take it home and put it in your own freezer. Just get out on the night before you want to cook it/morning of, and let it defrost slowly.
Home Cooked 4 You – the new range
One of my personal pet hates turns out to be one of Tina’s too: that people go to great lengths to show that their food is gluten-free – when it naturally is a gluten-free product anyway. I have news for you – if things like popcorn, for example, are not gluten-free, then what on earth are you doing to it and why would I then want to eat it?
Anyway, I digress… You may have noticed that this happens a lot with me, my Delicate Diners, for which I apologise. Back to Tina and her fabulous food.
Tina found that as her food was naturally gluten-free, she was being put into the ‘gluten free’ sections in stores. That, plus the fact that she is a huge supporter of Your Gluten Freedom, and has countless friends like me who just wish that they could get good, tasty gluten-free food that is not chucked full of fillers and additives etc, meant that she got to thinking. And from thinking came experimenting.
The first was a ‘Cornish’ pasty – yes, yes, I know we cannot call them that. They are made in Norfolk. So a beef and vegetable pasty it is. A quick call one morning and before I knew it, Tina was on my driveway with the prototype for said pasty – along with some ragu for the freezer.
Tina insisted that I try a bite there and then. Now, one of my ‘things’ is that I hate clagginess. You know what I mean – those days when we ate a gluten product, all those years ago when the world was a simpler place. There so many times that I would eat a pasty/sausage roll, and there would be ‘the clag’ – that lardy texture from the not altogether nice pasty, stuck to the roof of your mouth for hours. And woe-be-tide you if you had a cold drink to go with this ‘snack’. You would be scrubbing the roof of your mouth with a toothbrush to get rid of the taste, and still be claggy days later.
But this was Tina, and I know that Tina’s food is good. So I took a tentative bite – followed swiftly by another. Before I knew it, half the pasty had gone. It was so good! The pasty was crunchy and crumbly, full of texture and you honestly would not know that it is gluten-free. As for the filling… Well! The vegetables actually tasted like vegetables. The carrots and potatoes had flavour and texture. They weren’t just some mushed up afterthought, they were an integral part of the dish. As for the meat – superb. Tina sources hers from Harveys Butchers on Grove Road and you can tell the quality as soon as you taste it. Cooked perfectly, with added pepper and a hint of spice, this was the best gluten-free pasty. Ever. I even have to say that it is on a par with the best of the Cornish pasties that I enjoyed while holidaying down there many years ago.
Tina kindly gave me extra, so that my parents could try too. My mum is adverse to most shop-bought gluten-free items and understandably so. If I didn’t have to eat them, I wouldn’t. But they tried the pasties and loved them; in fact, dad wants me to put in for a regular order!
From there, encouraged by the early feedback from myself and others, Tina worked on developing her range. Knowing that I was off to the British National Championships in Malvern at the end of July, Tina put together a picnic for us to enjoy before I set up my magazine tradestand: beef and vegetable pasties, sausage rolls, Scotch eggs – bliss! – and a delicious Asian style slaw.
The verdict? Delicious. The pasties I have already waxed lyrical about. The Scotch eggs were just superb. A slight seeded texture to the breadcrumbs on the outside added an extra element, while the sausagemeat was great; not too dense, not too heavy, well seasoned, and with a perfect egg in the middle. The sausage rolls we saved for another day – light, crumbly, great flavour.
In addition, Tina has made spiced lamb pasties, vegetable ones – there really is no limit, or end to the options available.
Tina is continuing to expand her range – gluten-free pasta and vegetarian Scotch eggs are a just two things in the pipeline. And, in spite of her saying that she wanted to steer clear of baking, a visit last night has proved otherwise…
So yes, Tina is now expanding into gluten-free cakes and breads, too, as well as embracing the dairy-free side. Those slices above will be savoured tonight during The Great British Bake Off. I think I might be the first to suggest that Tina applies next year – with her deep insight into food, flavour palate, and skills, she would be perfect. And could even shut up Mr Hollywood as he would have to admit that gluten-free can be good!
So where can you find all these wonderful products? The good news is that they are scattered across Norfolk. The frozen gluten-free dishes are in Bakers and Larners of Holt and Roys of Wroxham. The full range can be found at City Farm Shop, Norwich. The Burnham Market Stores have a small range, and the good old The Norfolk Gluten Free Company Shop & Cafe on Timber Hill, Norwich, sells the new chiffon cakes – one coffee, one orange – as well as Scotch eggs, pasties, and a cheese and lentil bake.
The first Saturday of every month will find Tina at Creake Abbey Farmers Market. She launched her pasties and eggs there last month and she sold out quickly!
The best way to be sure that you get what you need is to order directly from Tina. Her website www.homecooked4you.com is being updated with her full range but if you use the form on the contact page, you can send a query or place an order and Tina will be in touch very soon.
I am so glad that I found Home Cooked 4 You. Not only is the food amazing, Tina has now also become a friend. That doesn’t mean that I will wax lyrical where praise is not due; I am very good at glossing over aspects that I don’t like. But I genuinely do like her food and the way she cooks. The emphasis on good quality produce, locally sourced where possible, shines through. What I love most is that Tina makes gluten-free products that ‘normal’ people want to eat. I think says it all.
So, happy shopping, my Delicate Diners! Tina will be at Creake on 1 October and then, somehow, at the Your Gluten Freedom Expo on 2 October. See here there, and make sure you tell her that The Delicate Diner sent you!