Monday, 22 December 2014

Mince pie and custard cupcakes

Christmas really is fast approaching and I am already in residence on my parents’ sofa, drinking copious amounts of tea/mulled cider/champagne and scoffing chocolates/biscuits/mince pies. And lets face it Christmas wouldn’t be Christmas without a good mince pie. I actually indulged in my first of the season back at the beginning of December after a visit to Betty’s in York, and it was deliciously light and full of festive flavour. Feeling that it may be hard to beat I decided to follow in the tradition of previous years (when I used mincemeat in Danish pastries and cookies) and came up with a slightly alternative Christmas treat. When deciding on what to do with the stash of mincemeat in the cupboards I was inspired by the obvious accompaniment of custard….and so the mince pie and custard cupcake was born.


INGREDIENTS
For the cake
200g caster sugar
225g butter
200g plain flour
3 tablespoons custard powder
Seeds from half a vanilla pod
2 teaspoons baking powder
4 eggs
2 tablespoons milk
½ jar (approx. 200g) mincemeat (or you could make your own!!)
For the icing
 200g icing sugar
3 tablespoons custard powder
1 tablespoon skimmed milk powder
200ml double cream
300 ml milk
Seeds from half a vanilla pod
50g butter

For the cakes set the oven to 180°C / 350°F / GM4. Line a cup cake tin with cupcake cases (this recipe makes approx. 15 medium sized cupcakes).

Beat the caster sugar and butter together until light and fluffy. Then add the eggs and the vanilla seeds. Finally gradually fold in all of the dry ingredients until well combined. If the mixture seems a little dry and stiff at this point stir in the milk.

Divide half of the mixture between the prepared cake cases. Then take the mincemeat and dollop a teaspoon full into the cake cases, on top of the sponge mixture already in the tins. 

Finally top the mincemeat with the remaining cake mixture so that the mincemeat is covered by cake mixture.

Transfer the cakes to the oven for twenty minutes until lightly golden in colour and firm to the touch.

Remove from the oven and allow to cool completely before icing.

In the mean time you can make the icing…mix half of the icing sugar with the custard powder, milk powder, vanilla seeds and 2 tablespoons of the milk in a heatproof jug. Stir together to make a smooth, thick paste.

Meanwhile heat the remaining milk and cream together in a large saucepan and place over a gentle heat until the mixture begins to simmer. Remove from the heat and pour the warm milk mixture into the jug, whisking as you do so until the custard paste in fully mixed into the milk.

Then pour the custard back into the pan and return to the heat. Continue whisking until the custard becomes thick and glossy. Remove from the heat, transfer to a plastic tub and cover the top with a layer on cling film. Transfer to the fridge and allow to cool completely.

Once cool remove the custard mix from the fridge. Transfer to a bowl, add the remaining icing sugar and butter and whisk until thick and creamy. And now the custard icing is ready to use to decorate your cakes.

Once the cakes have been piped/smothered in icing tuck in and enjoy as an alternative to your usual mince pie.




This recipe was inspired by this cake from Nigella Lawson and this cake from BBC Good Food.

Friday, 31 October 2014

Earl Grey Chocolate Torte and Spooky Poached Pears

I really enjoy getting creative in the kitchen at Halloween and have been churning out endless quantities of bat and pumpkin shaped gingerbread biscuits this year. I also love a good blood splattered cupcake or eyeball cocktail. Earlier this week, however, I produced a slightly more grown-up autumnal feast for a few friends and after serving up some delicious roasted pumpkin and feta alongside slow roasted lamb I rounded things off with this lovely chocolate torte.

By using ground almonds instead of flour this deliciously moist chocolate cake is naturally gluten free and a little injection of earl grey prevents the cake from getting too sickly. The original torte recipe came courtesy of BBC Good Food and I only tweaked it very slightly to make it dairy free too (but go check out the original too). I was then inspired by the latest in-store Tesco magazine to decorate this delectable treat with a few spooky poached pears to add to the Halloween spirit. And it proved to be a delectable desert for some semi-sophisticated adults….although I’m sure it would go down with your common spooks and ghouls pretty well too!!



TORTE

2 Earl Grey tea bags
100ml almond milk
250g dark chocolate
200g dairy free margarine
140g ground almonds
6 eggs (separated)
200g caster sugar

Heat the oven to 180°C / 360°F.

Line the bottom and sides of a 22cm diameter, loose-bottomed, cake tin with greaseproof paper ensuring the paper rises above the rim of the tin to allow the cake to rise right up.

Heat the almond milk in a heat proof jug in the microwave for approximately 30 seconds until warm. 

Split the teabags and empty the tea leaves into the milk. Set aside to infuse.

Place the chocolate and margarine in a heat proof bowl set over a pan of simmering water (ensuring the bottom of the bowl doesn’t come in contact with the water). Once melted and fully combined remove the bowl from the heat and add the almonds, egg yolks and cooled milky tea (along with the tea leaves. Stir until combined and set aside.

In a separate, clean bowl beat the egg whites using a hand blender until soft peaks begin to form. Then add the caster sugar and continue to beat until the mixture is thick and glossy and peaks of the mixture stand on end when you remove the mixer.

Add a large spoonful of the egg white mixture into the chocolate mixture and gently fold together. Repeat until all of the egg whites are combined with the chocolate mix, begin careful not to overwork the mixture.

Transfer to the cake tin and bake in the oven for 35 to 40 minutes until just firm (although there can still be a slight wobble in the middle of the cake). Remove from the oven and allow to cool completely before removing from the tin. This can easily be made the day before you want to eat this cake...although probably best to decorate it just prior to serving!

POACHED PEARS & DECORATION

5 Pears (I used conference)
400ml apple juice
200g caster sugar
150g dark chocolate

On the day you are planning to eat your torte place the apple juice and sugar in a pan and place over a medium to low heat, stirring occasionally until the sugar has dissolved.

Peel the pears and place into the simmering apple juice mixture, allow the pan to bubble away for 15 minutes before removing from the heat. All the pears to cool completely in the syrupy apple juice before you fish them out.

Meanwhile melt the chocolate in a bowl set over a pan of simmering water. Once melted spread the chocolate out on a greaseproof piece of paper laid out in a baking tray. With a little bit of the melted chocolate shape it into disks and small blobs for the scary pear eyes and mouths. Place somewhere cool and allow to set.

CONSTRUCTION

Place the torte on a plate.

Carefully pat the pears dry on a bit of kitchen roll to remove excess moisture. Using a little melted chocolate if necessary, decorate the pears with the discs of chocolate made for their mouths and eyes after removing these from the greaseproof paper.

Arrange the pears in the centre of the torte (using them all to support each other).


Using a large sharp knife slice the remaining chocolate into shards and arrange around the outside of the torte (again securing with a little melted chocolate is needed)…and voila, you are ready to impress your guests!

Saturday, 25 October 2014

Ginger and Blackberry Swirl Ice Cream

This blog post is going to follow a trend of recent (or as the case may be not so recent) posts, with me apologising for not blogging for months, listing excuses centred around life getting in the way of things, then presenting an ice cream recipe. Perhaps I should just change this to an ice cream blog, it is very apparent that I have more than a slight obsession with the frozen delightful creaminess.

This time around I have modified a basic recipe from the Guardian website injecting a little warming ginger punch and swirl of blackberries to the original recipe. And what is missing from this recipe you may ask…..well there is no cream in this ice cream recipe! A custard base is made just with milk and a little additional milk powder to apparently give ‘volume without weight’.

This ice cream is great served up with a warm autumnal apple crumble, or a fig tarte tatin as I did. You never know I might even get around to posting that recipe sooner rather than later….as long as life doesn’t get in the way too much!!

Oh and I’ve submitted this to Kavey over at Kavey Eats for her Bloggers Scream for Ice Cream challenge too.




INGREDIENTS

1 pint whole milk
50g skimmed milk powder
4 egg yolks
90 g caster sugar
Thumb sized piece fresh ginger

250g blackberries (I used fresh, picked from local hedgerows, but frozen will be fine)
50g sugar
1 tablespoon water
1 tablespoon vodka

For the ice cream base add the milk, milk powder and 2 teaspoons of the sugar to a large saucepan. Peel the ginger, slice into a couple of chunks and add to the milk. Place the saucepan over a medium heat and bring to the boil. Once bubbling reduce the heat and allow to simmer gently for 5 minutes before removing from the heat. Set the mixture aside for 30 minutes to allow the ginger to infuse.

Place the egg yolks (you can freeze the left over egg whites for later use or could try out one of these recipes straight away to use them up; choc chunk cookies, English muffins, chocolate hazelnut ice cream) and the rest of the sugar into a large mixing bowl, and using a hand mixer, whisk for about 10 minutes until the mixture if light and airy and has increased in volume.

Reheat the milk mixture until simmering and then slowly pour into the mixing bowl with the egg mixture, continually stirring as you do so. Then return all of the mixture to the saucepan and place over a low heat, again stirring continually until the mixture begins to thicken slightly.

Transfer the custard to an ice cream tub, cover the surface with cling film (this is to help prevent a skin forming) and allow to cool completely before transferring to the freezer.

After about half an hour remove from the freezer and whizz the mixture up with a hand blender, then return to the freezer. Repeat this process three more times at 30 minute intervals.

Whilst undertaking this freeze-whizz-freeze-whizz process place the blackberries, water and sugar into a small saucepan, place over a medium heat and simmer for about 15 minutes until the berries start to cook down. Remove from the heat and allow to cool before stirring through the vodka.


After the final ice cream churning swirl through the blackberry mix. Return to the freezer for a further hour before tucking in.


Sunday, 22 June 2014

Tart au citron frozen yoghurt

I can't believe how quickly June has been whizzing by, July is already encroaching and this is the first blog post of the month....oops! Well I will blame a lot of birthday celebrations getting in my way. I have been celebrating one of those birthdays where the age ends in a big fat zero and to be honest I have been milking it as much as possible. As well as many lovely bubble filled celebrations shared with lots of amazingly brilliant friends I also had a great little holiday in Paris with family. And it seems I brought a little bit of Parisian sunshine back to my little corner of Norther Ireland on my return so I have been distracted from blogging in the mean time by a lot of sitting on the patio time! But whilst the sun is still shining it seems appropriate to post (yet another) frozen pudding recipe.

As a warm up to my Paris trip I had a Parisian themed dinner party with friends and to finish off the meal I cooked up a big Tart Au Citron. Another of my friends made some delicious raspberry and strawberry tarts to add to the amazing spread so despite the general deliciousness of the puddings on offer there were a few leftovers. I hate anything going to waste and as I was about to dash off on my holidays I couldn't just leave the tarts in the fridge and continue to graze on them over the coming days so thought I had best bung them in the freezer for a later date. But then I decided to get a little more creative and turn my dessert into another form of dessert...and so was born the tart au citron frozen yoghurt. If you don't have a large quantity of left over tart to bung into this dessert the delicate lemon flavour of the yoghurt mix on its own is pretty delicious. Alternatively swap the lemon curd for maple syrup and stick in apple crumble, or add biscuit or cake crumbs instead....really the possibilities are endless for left over frozen yoghurt varieties.

And Kavey over at Kavey Eats is once again running her Bloggers Scream for Ice Cream this month with a fruity theme so this recipe fits in perfectly over there too.



INGREDIENTS

700g thick Greek yoghurt
100g lemon curd
50g icing sugar
250g tart au citron (chopped into small chunks) - I made mine following Michel Roux's recipe in this lovely book 

Beat the yoghurt, lemon curd and icing sugar together until fully combined. 

Transfer to a freezer proof container and freeze for 2 hours. After 2 hours remove from the freezer and beat the mixture again to brake up any ice crystals forming in the mix. Repeat this, freezing the mixture again for another 2 hours before beating to create a smooth mixture. (alternatively you can just bung the mixture into an ice cream maker).

After 2 rounds of freezing and beating fold the chinks of the lemon tart into the mixture until evenly distributed. Stick the mixture back int the freezer over night and then tuck in and enjoy.


Thursday, 22 May 2014

Dairy Free Malted Milk Ice Cream

The sun made an appearance earlier this week and for a brief fleeting moment it felt like summer had arrived and so I dug out my sandals and started eating copious amounts of ice cream (not that I really need the sun to shine to start tucking into ice cream!). The sun has now done a runner and the sandal wearing has been put on hold...the ice cream eating however continues! And after finishing off my beyond delicious Easter egg chocolate sorbet I needed to stock the freezer back up with something as equally yummy. Luckily at this moment I spotted that Kavey over at Kavey Eats has another round of Bloggers Scream for Ice Cream on the go. This month the theme is Hot Drink inspired frozen treats. Now it just also happens that last week while having a mega Master Chef catch up session I had seen a dish containing a rather delectable looking malted milk ice cream. And although I have never been a massive Horlicks drinker I am a bit of a fan of a malted milk (a.k.a moo cow) biscuit.

And so I set out to make a dairy free malted milk ice cream of my very own. Now this isn't as easy as it may sound as you can't simply mix some Horlicks powder with a dairy free milk alternative as the drinks powder contains dairy. So I had to get a little more creative and used malt extract along with a little cocoa powder to make this ice cream resulting in more of an Ovaltine-inspired concoction. I have to say I was rather pleased with the comfortingly malty end result....and now I have a great excuse to eat ice cream just before bedtime!!!



INGREDIENTS

500 ml almond milk
4 tablespoons malt extract
2 tablespoons cocoa powder
75 g caster sugar
4 egg yolks
1 tablespoon of corn flour

Place the almond milk, malt extract and cocoa powder into a saucepan, place over a medium heat and gradually bring the mixture up to the boil.

In the meantime mix together the sugar, egg yolks and corn flour in a heat proof jug.

Once the milk mixture has begun to bubble remove from the heat and allow to cool slightly. Then pour about a quarter of the mixture into the jug with the egg mixture beating thoroughly until a smooth mixture is formed. Then pour the egg mixture back into the saucepan, place over a medium heat and continue to whisk until the mixture begins to thicken, then remove from the heat.

Pour the ice cream into a freezer proof container, cover the surface with cling film to prevent a skin from forming and allow the mixture to cool to room temperature.

Once cooled down transfer the mixture to an ice cream maker...or if like me you don't own such fancy kitchen equipment transfer the container to the freezer. Remove the ice cream from the freezer every couple of hours and blitz with a hand blender to break down any ice crystals that might form and you end up with a scoopable end product. Repeat this three or four times and then leave in the freezer until you require a pre-bedtime ice cream treat.


Tuesday, 13 May 2014

Vegan and gluten free asparagus tart

It’s Spring and it is asparagus season. Those little stems of green joy are one of the wonders of the seasonal  vegetable calendar that I wait for with eager anticipation as icy and grey winter days turn to less icy (but often still pretty grey) spring days. After indulging in multiple bunches of fresh Kentish (a.k.a the homeland) asparagus last week I was perusing the internet for a little inspiration on how best to use the excessive quantity I had to consume. Usually I am more than happy just to gently steam the stems before seasoning with liberal quantities of salt and pepper and plunging the tips into vast vats of melted butter. But then I came across this divine looking dish over at The First Mess, and so I gave it a go (with a few little alterations as detailed below). The original recipe was described as a pizza, but my base was less doughy and more thin and crispy with a closer resemblance to pastry so I am going to describe this dish as more of a tart. But either way it is a great way to utilise some delicious spring veg and it is gluten free and vegan friendly. So whether you go for the original recipe or have a go at mine hopefully the results will be asparagus loaded and springingly fresh!



INGREDIENTS

200g millet (soaked overnight in water)
80ml water
1 tablespoon olive oil
Salt and pepper

Glug olive oil
1 medium white onion, sliced
1 garlic clove, crushed
Bunch fresh oregano and thyme, shredded
1 tablespoon cider vinegar
150ml coconut milk

1 large flat mushroom
5 asparagus stems, slice in half length ways
Large handful of curly kale
Fresh oregano
Chives

(A few generous shaving of parmesan if you want to go for a non-vegan option)

Serves 2

Pre-heat the oven to 220°C.

Place the drained millet, water, olive oil and salt and pepper into a food blender and whizz until a smooth batter is formed.

Take a 18 x 25 cm baking tray, pour on a glug of vegetable oil and place in the oven to allow the oil to heat up. Once heated remove the tray from the oven and pour over the batter, smoothing out with a spatula so that the mixture covers the tray. Return to the oven for approximately 10 minutes until the mixture has solidified and turned golden in colour. 

Using a spatula carefully flip the base over and return to the oven for another 5-10 minutes until the reverse side of the base is also golden in colour. At this point remove the base from the oven and place to one side and lower the oven temperature to 200°C.

Heat a large pan over a medium heat, add the olive oil and the onions and allow too soften and caramelize gently. Once the onion is softened add the garlic and herbs and continue cooking for a couple of minutes. Add the vinegar, and once it has been absorbed by the mixture add the coconut milk. Stir together thoroughly, increase the heat a little and let the mixture gently bubble until it has reduced and thickened slightly. 

Once thickened transfer the coconut mixture to the food processor (or use a stick blender) and whizz until a smooth paste is formed. Then spread the paste over the tart base so that it is evenly covered. 

Place the vegetables on top of the coconut cream (you can use any combination you like here but I added kale and mushrooms to my asparagus). Sprinkle over the fresh herbs, and if you are happy to have a non-vegan version of this dish top with a few shavings of Parmesan cheese.

Place the tart in the oven for 10-15 minutes until golden and bubbling then remove, serve and enjoy!




This recipe was adapted from the vegan and gluten free pizza recipe over at The First Mess.

Sunday, 27 April 2014

Left Over Easter Egg Chocolate Sorbet

After making multiple batches of creme egg brownies as Easter gifts I’m feeling well and truly chocolated out (too many incidents of spoon licking are to blame). So on returning home after visiting the family last weekend I brought back a few sweet treats and couldn’t face eating them all straight away. And so I thought I would use up some of my excess choccies in a batch of chocolate sorbet. The original recipe found over at Food 52 is a great vegan alternative to ice cream if you just use dark chocolate but I stuck in some milk chocolate too, the results were still delicious, and possibly a little too addictive…I think I am going to end up eating this sorbet quicker than I would have the original Easter Eggs!!!




INGREDIENTS

550ml water
200g golden caster sugar
75g cocoa
100g dark chocolate
100g milk chocolate
50ml golden rum

Place 375ml of the water in a saucepan along with the cocoa and sugar. Place over a medium heat and bring to the boil, then continue to simmer for another minute before removing from the heat.

Break the chocolate into chunks and add to the hot cocoa mixture, stirring until all of the chocolate is melted. Finally add the remaining water and the rum.

Transfer the mixture to an airtight container and stick it in the freezer. Remove every two hours and blitz with a stick blender  before returning to the freezer, continue this process until fully frozen (alternatively just stick the mixture in an ice cream machine).


Then tuck in and enjoy, just try not to eat it all at once!!!

Monday, 14 April 2014

Gluten free creme egg brownies

Spring is in the air and the Easter Bunny shall soon be leaving little egg shaped treats amongst the daffodils for us to stumble upon. My family Easter celebrations are stuffed full of slightly crazy traditions and on Good Friday I shall be eating a massive quantity of homemade hot cross buns in the idyllic surroundings of a Kentish trout farm!!! (for more details on that one check out my hot cross bun recipe from last year!) Then once the hot cross bun fest is finished and we feel like we can’t eat any more Easter treats we all get busy in the kitchen and serve up homemade chocolaty goodies on Easter Sunday. So here is a little sneak peak of what my family will be set to receive at the weekend…thanks to some wonderful inspiration from a recipe over at scarletscorchdroppers I shall be producing the ultimate concoction of all things Easter…..chocolate and creme eggs and some more chocolate and a little more creme egg, and all of this is gluten free!!



Ingredients

180g milk chocolate
120g butter
140g golden caster sugar
2 eggs
80g gluten free flour
20g corn flour
½ teaspoon bicarbonate of soda
½ teaspoon xanthum gum
2 tablespoons cocoa powder
12 mini crème eggs (frozen)

100g golden syrup
175g icing sugar
50g butter
2 tablespoons milk

150g milk chocolate

Makes 12 brownies

Grease and line a 25cm x 20cm tin and pre-heat the oven to 180°C.

Melt together the butter, chocolate and sugar in a large saucepan over a medium heat until well combined. Remove from the heat and allow to cool slightly before stirring in the eggs and beating all of the ingredients together.

Sift in the flour, cocoa, baking powder and xanthum gum into the chocolate mix and fold together until fully combined.

Pour the mixture into the prepared tin and smooth out. Take the mini eggs out of the freezer and push into the brownie mixture (by being frozen for a bit first it prevents the eggs from melting into the mixture and they hold their shape better). Then place the tin in the centre of the oven and bake for 25 minutes, at this point the brownie should be set but still a little gooey in the middle.

Leave the mixture to cool in the tin.

Whilst the brownie mixture is cooling mix the golden syrup and butter together and then stir in the icing sugar adding the milk a little at a time to loosen the mixture if needed.

Spread 2/3 of the icing over the mixture so that it is completely covered. Add a few drops of yellow food colouring to the remaining icing and blob small teaspoons of the mixture across the brownie to resemble the yolks normally found in a crème egg.

Finally break the remaining chocolate into a heat proof bowl and place over a bowl of lightly simmering water (ensuring the bottom of the bowl doesn’t touch the water in the pan). Once melted pour the chocolate over the brownie so that it is fully covered.

Allow to set before carefully lifting out of the tin and slicing into bite sized portions….then share with friends and family for Easter.


Wednesday, 26 March 2014

Cauliflower couscous

There are a lot of locally grown cauliflowers in the grocers and supermarkets around where I live at the moment and so I have been consuming quite a large number of these vegetables. My fail safe go to recipe for cauliflower is always a good spicy vegetable curry although I have been known to go a little more left field with the gluten free cauliflower pizza. Cauliflower also provides a great gluten free alternative to couscous and this recipe is so simple to make. It’s also great if you are just generally trying to keep your carb intake to a minimum.




INGREDIENTS

250g cauliflower
Zest of 1 lemon
1 teaspoon lemon juice
1 tablespoon fresh oregano, finely chopped
Salt and pepper to taste

Serves 2

Begin by breaking the cauliflower into small florets. Bring a pan of water to the boil and add the cauliflower, cooking for about 8 minutes until just tender. Drain the cauliflower and allow the steam to escape, letting the cauliflower cool down and dry a little.

Once cooled place the cauliflower in a food processor and whizz with a pulsing action so that cauliflower starts to resemble the little grains of couscous. Be careful not to over blend the mixture otherwise you will end up with more of a puree.


Transfer the cauliflower to a large bowl and add the lemon juice and zest, the oregano and salt and pepper. Mix the added extras through the couscous until evenly distributed throughout and then serve. 

Mine turned out to be a great accompaniment to a chicken and apricot tagine!

Monday, 10 March 2014

Salted caramel and honeycomb ‘egg white’ ice cream

So spring has arrived and daffodils are springing up on roundabouts and motorway embankments across the country. Across much of the land temperatures have also been soaring and barbeques and shorts have started to appear. I, however, live in Northern Ireland so am yet to experience balmy temperatures and sun soaked Sunday afternoons. In fact whilst working outside at the weekend I was wearing thermal base layers!! But hey whatever the weather it is never the wrong time to eat ice cream. So whether or not you are enjoying a tropical climate here is my first ice cream recipe of the year to enjoy. And even if I do say so myself I think this is possibly the most mouth wateringly delicious ice cream I have ever made…I can’t stop eating the stuff, it is divine.

This recipe is based on my original no-churn egg white ice cream recipe, but this time I made a simple vanilla base and then swirled in gallons of salted caramel sauce and honeycomb pieces. Making all of the various elements for this ice cream takes a little time but honestly it’s worth it (and making sugar bubble and froth like an erupting volcano whilst making the honeycomb is so much fun, I felt like a kid in a mad science lab making that). So if you have a little bit of spare time and can drag yourself away from the spring sunshine give this a go….just be warned the resultant ice cream is seriously addictive!!



INGREDIENTS

FOR THE CARAMEL SAUCE

I adapted the recipe from Add A Pinch for the caramel sauce

400g soft brown sugar
160g butter (chopped into chunks)
320ml double bream
1 teaspoon salt

Put the sugar into a large pan and place over a medium heat. Stir the sugar until it starts to melt and clump together.

Add the butter to the sugar and continue to stir until the sugar and butter have melted together and a smooth consistency is achieved.

Remove from the heat and then stir in the cream and salt until smooth and glossy and lightly golden in colour.

Place to one side and allow to cool.

FOR THE HONEYCOMB

I followed Nigella Lawson’s recipe to make this.

100g caster sugar
4 tablespoons golden syrup
1.5 teaspoons bicarbonate of soda

Place the sugar and golden syrup into a medium sized saucepan and mix together before placing over a medium heat (once on the heat do not stir) and allow the mixture to melt. Continue to heat until the mixture begins to bubble and turns golden in colour.

Remove from the heat and whisk in the bicarbonate of soda, stirring continually until the mixture froths and bubbles up. Then pour out onto a piece of non-.stick baking parchment.

Allow to cool and then bash into bite sized pieces with the use of a rolling pin.

FOR THE ICE CREAM

100g egg whites (approx. 3 egg whites)
¼ teaspoon cream of tartar
310g caster sugar
100ml water
Seeds scraped from ½ vanilla pod
320ml double cream

A sugar thermometer is also needed

To make the meringue;

Using an electric hand mixer or a stand mixer whisk the egg whites in a large, clean bowl until they start to look foamy. At this point add the cream of tartar and continue to whisk until the egg whites form stiff peaks (this means that if you lift the mixer out of the mixture a peak should form and it won’t collapse or ‘wilt’ once the mixer/whisk is removed….check out Delia for more info!)

Place the sugar and water into a large saucepan and place over a medium heat. Swirl the saucepan gently (but don’t actually stir the mixture) until the sugar is dissolved and the liquid is clear.

Stick your thermometer into the mixture, raise the heat and allow the mixture bubble rapidly until 112 °C / 234 °F is reached.

Remove the sugar syrup from the heat.

Begin beating the egg white mixture again and slowly (and very carefully) begin to pour the sugar syrup into the egg white mix, beating all of the time. Once all of the syrup is added continue to beat the mixture for another 10 minutes or so until the mixture has cooled and has a nice glossy finish.

Stop beating and set to one side (this is the Italian meringue done)

Scrape the seed from the vanilla pod and transfer to another large bowl along with the cream.

Beat the mixture with an electric hand mix until it has doubled in volume and is light and fluffy.

Add about a third of the cream to the Italian meringue and gently fold in until well combined. Continue adding the rest of the cream to the meringue bit by bit until well combined (but try not to over-mix the mixture at the point).

Fold through the smashed up honeycomb pieces until evenly distributed throughout the mixture and then transfer to a freezer proof container and bung in the freezer. Leave the mixture for about 4 hours until it is starting to firm up nicely and remove from the freezer. Drizzle the caramel sauce over the top of the ice cream and then using a skewer or a chopstick swirl the caramel into the ice cream to create a ripple effect throughout the mixture. Return to the freezer and leave over night to allow to set completely (there is no need for further churning…which is a bonus).

Then tuck in and enjoy….just try not to eat it all at once!





Tuesday, 4 March 2014

Vegan Banana Pancakes

Yes it’s Pancake Day (otherwise known as Shrove Tuesday) again and as you are reading this I am most probably tucking into my 5th or 6th or possibly 7th pancake of the day! I will also being doing the double and enjoying savoury stuffed pancakes (blue cheese and mushroom) followed by the traditional lemon and sugar topped pancakes for pudding. The essential ingredients for a classic pancake are simply flour, milk and eggs but if you are following a diary free or vegan diet then pancakes are a no go. But these American style pancakes are made with my tofu ‘buttermilk’ that I first used to make vegan soda bread, with the addition of a banana for a little extra bulk.



INGREDIENTS

150g silken tofu
200ml water
2 tablespoons lemon juice
1 medium banana
100g plain flour
30g sugar
1 teaspoon baking powder

Makes 10-12

Place the tofu, water, lemon juice and banana into a food processor and blitz until a smooth, thick liquid is formed.

Place the dry ingredients into a bowl and stir together before adding the tofu mixture. Beat together with a whisk until a lump free batter is produced.

Place a frying pan over a high heat and add a little vegetable oil to the pan. Once the oil is hot spoon large dollops of the mixture into the pan, flattening out a little with the back of the spoon. Once air bubbles begin to appear in the pancake use a spatula to flip the mixture over and cook until golden brown on both sides.


Serve with a generous drizzle of maple syrup and tuck in!

Thursday, 27 February 2014

Vegan chickpea and courgette kofta

Chickpeas are a great store cupboard essential. I normally have a few tins as well as a bag of dried chickpeas lurking somewhere at the back of my shelves. Hummus is an obvious way to use up the peas and I could quite happily munch my way through tubs of the sesame spiked paste. For a slightly more unusual use my blog founding chocolate chickpea cake recipe is great. But chickpeas are perfect to bulk out vegetarian and vegan food often giving a bit more substance meat free dishes. And this vegan curry recipe displays this quality of chickpeas perfectly, in fact you really wouldn’t notice that there was anything missing from this vegan feast.

This recipe is based on Isa Chandra Moskowitz’s chandra malai kofta recipe published over on the Guardian website. So go check out the original for a slightly more authentic recipe as I made a few tweaks (mainly substituting cashew nuts with peanut butter) to suit what I had in my cupboards at the time of cooking. Either way this is a truly tasty treat.



INGREDIENTS (Serves 2)

FOR THE KOFTA
½ tin of chickpeas (drained and rinsed)
1 teaspoon cumin seeds
100g courgette (grated)
1 tablespoon chopped fresh coriander
1 tablespoon of fresh ginger (grated)
1 clove of garlic (crushed)
½ teaspoon salt
2 tablespoons breadcrumbs
2 tablespoons corn flour

FOR THE SAUCE
1 tablespoon crunchy peanut butter
1 cup vegetable stock
1 medium onion (finely diced)
1 clove of garlic (crushed)
1 tablespoon fresh ginger (grated)
½ tablespoon curry powder
1 teaspoon garam masala
1 teaspoon ground cumin
½ tin of coconut milk
1 tablespoon tomato puree
½ cup frozen peas

Toast the cumin seeds in a pan over a medium heat for about 3 minutes until lightly brown and fragrant.

Mash the chickpeas in a bowl together with the toasted cumin seeds until well combined then add the courgette, coriander, ginger, garlic and salt. Then add the breadcrumbs and cornflour and use your hands to bring the mixture together onto a firm ball. Then wrap in cling film and place in the fridge for 30 minutes.

Meanwhile make the sauce by gently frying the onion in a saucepan until it begins to soften. Then add the garlic and ginger for about 1 minute before adding the curry powder, garam masala and cumin and stir for another minute until fragrant. Add the coconut milk, tomato puree, peanut butter and vegetable stock, bring to a gently simmer and cook for 15 minutes until reduced and thickened.

Place a large frying pan over a medium heat and add a little vegetable oil. Take a small handful of the kofta mix at a time and form into a fat sausage shape and add to the frying pan. Continue forming approximately 8 kofta. Fry the kofta for about 8 minutes rolling them about in the pan so that they cook evenly on all sides.


Finally add the peas to the curry sauce mix and warm through and then serve the curry sauce together with the kofta and some boiled rice (I used red rice), then tuck in and enjoy.

Tuesday, 11 February 2014

Banana Ginger Cake

I love a good cookbook, pretty glossy ones with lots of mouth-watering photos to match the recipes. And ones with recipes that are a little bit different or unusual but that ultimately always work, recipes that have been developed with love and thoroughly tested to avoid kitchen disappointments occurring for us at home. One of the best baking book purchases I have made in the last couple of years has to Dan Lepard’s Short and Sweet which is a beautiful book full of delectably delicious recipes for breads, cakes and pies. And so far everything I have made from the book has turned out perfectly, which is a bit of a miracle as since moving into a house with a Rayburn I do still at times struggle to get the perfectly risen cake or not overly crusty loaf of bread.

Dan Lepard also used to write for the Guardian and when on a recent trawl of the internet for recipes to use up some browning bananas I came across this dark banana ginger cake recipe. And so it was a complete no brainer to get stuck into this recipe rather than continuing my recipe search. Due to not having all of the appropriate ingredients in the original recipe I did make a few little adjustments, as well as adding a lemon syrup to the cake after baking to make it a little more moist but I would probably recommend going to try Dan’s original recipe first as in my opinion he is a true baking king!!

Oh and this recipe uses vegetable oil rather than butter so is dairy free, making it a great blog addition.



INGREDIENTS

200g banana
200g soft dark brown sugar
3 extra-large eggs (one of mine was a double yolker so not sure if that counts as 4)
125ml vegetable oil
50g glace ginger
½ teaspoon ground ginger
150g plain flour
50g rye flour
3 teaspoons baking powder
Juice of 1 lemon
2 tablespoons  of caster sugar

Pre-heat the oven to 170°C / 335°F and line a 24 x 18 cm baking tin with non-stick baking parchment.

Mash the sugar and bananas together in a large bowl before mixing in the oil, eggs and glace ginger. Finally fold in the ground ginger, baking powder and flours, stirring until fully combined.

Transfer the mixture into the prepared tin and bake in the oven for 50-60 minutes until golden in colour and springy to the touch.


Whilst the cake is in the oven put the lemon juice and caster sugar in a small pan and place over a low heat until the sugar has fully dissolved. When the cake is removed from the oven and whilst still in the tin use a skewer or sharp knife to make lots incisions in the cake. Drizzle the lemon syrup over the cake allowing it to seep into the holes made by the knife/skewer. Then once cooled transfer out of the tin and the cake is now ready to enjoy.

Sunday, 2 February 2014

Cheesy Popcorn Croutons

I really love popcorn. I’m more of a savoury than sweet fan (although I did make myself some of this dark and stormy caramel popcorn at the weekend which was amazingly good…and slightly addictive!!) and salty is definitely my first choice in a trip to the cinema. But popcorn isn’t just a cinema snack and as the proud owner of a popcorn machine I often fire up my slightly indulgent kitchen gadget and spray popcorn kernels all over my kitchen. And making popcorn at home provides the perfect opportunity to experiment with flavours a little more, a good sprinkling of smoked paprika a long with a pinch of salt for example is always a winner for me.

As well as just munching through bowls of the stuff whilst sitting in front of the TV popcorn can be added to other dishes and a few savoury flavoured pieces of popcorn can be used to top a bowl of soup, providing a great wheat free alternative to traditional croutons.

I recently made myself a bowl of roasted cauliflower and parsnip soup and topped it with these cheesy popcorn croutons….and it was really rather delicious.



INGREDIENTS

¼ cup unpopped corn kernels
¼ cup grated parmesan
½ teaspoon dried oregano
1 tablespoon olive oil
Salt and pepper to taste

Serves 4

Pre-heat an oven to 170°C / 335°F and line a large baking tray with non-stick baking parchment.

If you don’t have a popcorn machine to pop your corn you can follow these instructions to do it in a saucepan instead.

Once popped combine the popcorn with the cheese, oil, oregano and seasoning, tossing together in a large bowl until the corn is evenly coated. Transfer the mixture to the baking tray spreading out into a single layer and then put the baking tray into the oven for 15-20 minutes until the cheese has melted slightly, moving the popcorn around on the baking tray halfway during the baking time.


Allow to cool very slightly before using the popcorn ‘croutons’ to top a bowl of soup of your choice.

Thursday, 30 January 2014

Gluten Free Mincemeat Shortbreads

After all the of the Christmas baking I have found myself with a couple of half finished jars of mincemeat in the fridge to use up. I did contemplate just making another massive batch of my rather popular mince pie cookies but thought I should probably experiment and try something a little different instead. And so I pimped up my gluten free shortbread recipe and made these mincemeat shortbread sandwich biscuits instead. These rather buttery biscuits aren't going to help with those January detox diets but will free up a bit of fridge space by using up an leftover Christmas mincemeat.



INGREDIENTS

340g butter
175g caster sugar
50g icing sugar
200g rice flour
100g polenta
300g gluten free flour
200g mincemeat
zest from 1 lemon

Pre-heat the oven to 180 deg C and line a 24 x 18 cm baking tray with grease-proof paper.

Beat together the butter and caster sugar until light and fluffy.

Mix the flours, polenta icing sugar and lemon zest into the butter mixture until fully combined.

Take half of the mixture and push into the prepared tin until and even layer is covering the base. Spoon on the mincemeat and spread out before topping with the remaining biscuit mix (I took small lumps of the dough at a time and scattered on top of the mixture and then gently pressed the dough down so as not to squash the filling too much).

Transfer to the oven and bake for 30-35 minutes until lightly golden in colour. Remove from the oven and allow the mixture to cool completely before turning out...the biscuit mixture is really 'short' meaning it crumbles really easily so needs to cool fully before attempting to turn out and slice otherwise it may just turn into a big pile of crumbs. Then enjoy with a big cup of tea...and store the rest in an airtight container.

Tuesday, 7 January 2014

Vegan Tofu Quiches

I was lucky enough to receive the incredibly thoughtful present of a lot of magnetic spice pots from Santa this Christmas. These pots meant I could free up some cupboard space and stick a stash of my spices onto the side of the Rayburn. To achieve this however I had to begin the year with a massive kitchen cupboard clean up session to consolidate all of my spices and discover long forgotten ingredients lurking on shelves out of my usual reach. And as well as discovering a massive stash of kaffir lime leaves I also unearthed a few scrumpled up pieces of paper with barely legible scrawl on. But these little scribbles turned out to be a couple of recipes that I made months back that I thought had been lost to a local landfill site. And so at last I can share these little crust less and vegan alternatives to traditional quiches…a fairly healthy start to the new year.



INGREDIENTS

A little olive oil
1 red pepper, chopped into chunks
½ red onion, roughly chopped
300g firm silken tofu
60ml soymilk
2 tablespoons cornflour
1 teaspoon paprika
1 teaspoon dried oregano
A pinch of salt and pepper

Pre-heat the oven to 180°C

Lightly grease 6 large muffin cups in a muffin tin.

In a frying pan gently cook up the onion and pepper (you can add other vegetables such as mushrooms or add a little garlic at this point for a little extra kick). Once softened remove from the heat and place to one side.

Place the tofu, soymilk, cornflour, herbs and spices to a food processor and blitz until a smooth, lump-free mixture is formed.


Add the vegetables to the tofu mix and combine thoroughly before dividing the mixture evenly between the muffin cups. Transfer the muffin tin to the oven and bake for 25-30 minutes until golden and firm to the touch. Remove from the oven and allow to cool a little before turning the quiches out, then tuck in and enjoy (as I did with a little tomato salsa).