Gluten free-ers … and gluten free Fria!

I was at an informal and friendly gathering of gluten-free bloggers last week, which you can read all about at the Eat Like a Horse blog, written and nicely photographed by journalist and coeliac Eleanor Jones. Sian (Gluten Free Mrs D), Irene and Fiona (the Guerrillas), Annie of Supper Club and I joined Monika of Close Up and Fria, and Jonas of Scandinavian Kitchen for chat, Estrella Damm beer and Swedish nibbles and drinks – including an amazingly jaw-bracing blueberry drink - and a tasting of the exceptional Fria gluten free bread.

The token wheatie was me, but the assembled party was all pretty interested (I shan’t say obsessed – although that probably does apply to me…) in matters glutenous and gluten-free-ous in one way or another. It’s always fascinating for me to listen in on conversations between coeliacs – I always learn something new – and it’s amazing how much benefit they seem to derive from sharing ideas, moans, tips and general banter. I’m always grateful when I’m allowed in!

One of the things coeliacs appear to miss most is pizza, and some seem to have problems finding a gluten-free pizza base they like. Monika gave us some Fria frozen pizza bases and asked us to experiment at home with them. As an Italian, brought up on my mother’s made-from-scratch pizza, I’m always a bit uncertain about ready made bases – let alone gluten-free ones – but I was glad to give them a go.

My family hails from Parma in northern Italy – home to Parmesan cheese and Parma ham, two of the nation’s most well known food products. But there’s a third product our region is highly regarded for in Italy, and these are the cep mushrooms (porcini) which grow wild in the woods, and are said to be among the best in the country.

Eat at a pizzeria in the region, and on the menu you’ll probably find a number of pizza options offering these delights as toppings. I decided to abandon Mozzarella and go the whole hog: a ham, cheese and mushroom pizza made with our region’s holy trinity.

So, a Swedish base, Italian toppings and…. British style. I think the British way of pizza has become to have quite a lot of topping – a bit like the British way of pasta has become to have quite a lot of sauce. This is a bit un-Italian, but I think it can suit gluten-free options because with such an approach the base plays a less important role – so it matters a lot less if it isn’t ‘quite the same’ to your tastebuds.

Bluntly, then, I loaded it on. As you can see.

The mushrooms my father gathered in the woods and my mother preserved by boiling in vinegar, then drying, and preserving in olive oil. I chopped a generous drained spoonful atop. Underneath, the tomato sauce was made using fresh plum tomatoes simmered with garlic and herbs and some tomato paste to thicken it as I was losing patience with its wateriness. A few slices of Parma Ham and Parmesan shavings added further Parma flavour.

Ten minutes in the oven and I had a tasty pizza. The base is really very good. It remained a bit doughy in the centre, but that was probably due to my topping overloading. I really liked the way it crisped up around the edges and went a little flaky, almost like an ungreasy filo pastry. After a few bites, it just seemed like any other pizza. It really is worth getting hold of – although it does contain wheat starch, which some coeliacs avoid.

You can order Fria and Scandinavian goodies from the Scandinavian Kitchen direct. (Other stockists can be found on my previous post on Fria here. )

I shall of course be popping back to the Scandinavian Kitchen to pick up some Plopps in due course…

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