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.