Friday, 30 March 2012

Foodie Pen Pal Parcel – Carob and Goji Cookies

On a fairly recent trawl of the numerous food blogs that are out there in the world wide web I stumbled across which is great little blog with some inspiring recipes and ideas.  So I began following @thisisrocksalt on twitter and as an added bonus won some cupcake cases as a result. The arrival of the cake cases coincided with me moving into my new house and greeted me on my arrival…a perfect culinary housewarming present. 

Getting post is always fun but food related post is just that little bit better. So when the idea of setting up a foodie pen pal network was suggested on thisisrocksalt I signed up in eager anticipation of more foodie parcels arriving on my doorstep.

The idea was actually started in the states a little while back but the basic principles are as follows…

On the 5th of the month you get sent the contact details for some other culinary enthusiast to whom you will be sending a parcel.

You compile your parcel (with a value of no more than £10) full of foodie delights whether that be things to eat, bake with, use in the kitchen, shop bought or homemade.

You send of the parcel by the 20th of the month.

During this time some other foodie who has signed up to the pen pal scheme (not the person you are sending your parcel to) is compiling a parcel for you.

You receive your parcel, open it and revel in the delightful morsels it contains…and graciously thank your sendee for your goodies.

Then everyone who has received a parcel blogs about it and we all get a chance to be nosey and see what everyone else sent and received!

So pretty simple and stupidly exciting!!!!

And thanks to Lucy from I received the most wonderful box of delights this month.

I really had no idea what to expect (I knew what I had sent on to my FPP recipient) but was seriously not disappointed when this beautiful little box all tied up with a bow dropped through my letter box (although actually it didn’t drop through my letter box as it didn’t fit so had to be retrieved from the local postal office….which just made the situation even more suspenseful!!).  

And if the presentation wasn’t exciting enough look at what I got inside!

 The contents were as follows;

Durban Curry Mix…I am yet to use this but will be cooking up an amazing diner for me and my housemate at some point soon!

Dried pigs blood…well Lucy is eating a lot of offal this year in the aim to become an ethical carnivore…see for more details…and again I haven’t put this to use yet but as someone not averse to the odd slice of black pudding this will be added to a stew soon!

Violet creams…these worried me a little as I can’t stand parma violets, but the flavours are so much more subtle than those evil purple sugary discs I avoided as a child and I have been steadily munching my way through these!!!

Himalayan Salt

Goji berries

Chilli flavoured rock…I love anything with a kick and this is certainly firey :o)

Pukka Clean Greens

Kung Fu Panda Cases…think I am in need of a mass cupcake cooking session

Hollyhock seeds…not to be munched but planted, unfortunately I only currently have a patio an no real garden but I think I shall be getting involved in some guerilla gardening soon and dispersing these on a local roundabout! 

So thank you Lucy so much for this wonderful little parcel, I couldn’t have been more delighted with its varied and exciting content.

I also thought that I had better use a few of the ingredients provided to come up with a recipe that suits my blog. So I adapted a few ideas I found on-line to make Carob and Goji cookies. These little moreish monsters not only contain a superfood but are gluten free and vegan so what’s stopping you from creating some of these yourself…well you might need to find a pen pal called Lucy first to send you some yummy things but apart from that……


40g cup goji berries
60ml orange juice
120g rice flour
25g carob powder (can be replaced with cocoa)
80g gluten free oats
60g dark brown sugar
1 teaspoon gluten free baking powder
½ teaspoon of Himalayan salt (can use any kind of sea salt)
125ml rice milk
2 tablespoons on molasses

Pre-heat oven to 180 deg C and line a large baking tray with greaseproof paper or non-stick baking parchment

Put the orange juice into a small saucepan and bring to the boil. Once boiling add the goji berries, remove from the heat and allow to stand for 10-15 minutes to allow the berries to absorb some of the juice.

Mix all of the dry ingredients together in a mixing bowl.

Add the milk, molasses, berries and any extra juice that hasn’t been absorbed by the berries to the dry ingredients and mix until fully combined.

At this point the mixture will seem quite runny but don’t panic! Cover the bowl with cling film and stick it in the fridge to chill for an hour.

After an hour remove the bowl from the fridge and use a teaspoon to dollop heaped teaspoon sized blobs of the mixture to the baking tray, ensuring an inch or so is left between each blob to allow the cookie mixture to spread slightly during cooking.

Place the baking tray in the oven for 10 minutes, after this time the cookies should have firmed up nicely and have quite a glossy exterior. Remove from the oven and allow to cool then dig in!

This recipe should make approx. 20 cookies.

Thanks again to Lucy for the ingredients that inspired this creation and to My Vegan Cookbook  from which I adapted the above recipe!

Sunday, 25 March 2012

Vegan Cutter Bicuits

Well Spring is well and truly here with the daffodils in bloom and the lambs prancing around the fields. In fact it has felt a lot closer to being like summer this weekend, but it’s best not to get too far ahead of ourselves as we still have Easter to look forward to. In fact Easter is just around the corner so what better spring type treat to make than some ‘Vegan Easter Bunny’ Biscuits. I actually first made these for a rabbit obsessed friend on her birthday but I think they are perfect for this time of year!

2 ½ cups plain flour
1 cup caster sugar
175g margarine
1 tablespoon rice milk
1 teaspoon baking powder

Pre-heat the oven to 180 deg C.

Cream the margarine and sugar together in a bowl until light and fluffy.

Sift in the flour and baking powder and stir until well combined.

Finally add the milk and bring the ingredients together with your hands until a smooth dough is formed.

Wrap the dough in cling film and chill for an hour.

Dust a work surface and rolling pin with flour and roll the chilled dough out until about ½ cm thick. Then cut out shapes of your choice using your chosen biscuit cutter.

Use a palette knife to transfer the shapes to a baking tray lined with greaseproof paper.

Bake for 10-12 minutes until lightly brown and remove from the oven and allow to cool. Then decorate with icing as desired!!

To make chocolate biscuits reduce the flour to 2 cups and add 2 heaped tablespoons of cocoa powder.

Sunday, 18 March 2012

Tomato-less Sauce

If you have followed the blog over the last month or so you might have picked up on the fact that I have recently moved! And as well as having a new house I have a new house mate. Luckily we both share a love of all things ‘kitchen’ and are embarking on a joint journey of Rayburn baking experiments as we adjust to using an oil fired oven for the first time. But as well as becoming a baking compadre my new house mate has opened up a whole new avenue of ‘something missing’ recipes for me to experiment with because I am now living with someone who is allergic to tomatoes!

I find it nearly impossible to contemplate life without the wonders of the tomato. There is always a half squeezed tube of tomato puree lurking in my fridge, which I regard as an essential ingredient for most stews and sauces. And how I would have survived my student days without value tins of chopped tomatoes I just do not know! But apparently a tomato allergy isn’t that uncommon, possibly because these juicy little red delights are members of the nightshade family!

This discovery immediately made me set to work to create an alternative for one the other tomato products which I am never to be found without….tomato ketchup. To be honest the result of this experiment more closely resembles a spicy brown sauce than a traditional tomato sauce, but it still tastes great in a bacon butty and contains at least 3 of your 5 a day so isn’t a bad substitute for the red stuff!!


½ red onion – finely chopped
1 clove of garlic - crushed
2 medium carrots – grated
1 medium bramley apple – peeled, cored and chopped into medium chunks
1 420g tin of apricot halves in syrup
50ml white wine vinegar
50ml balsamic vinegar
2 bay leaves
½ teaspoon black pepper corns
¼ teaspoon of allspice
¼ teaspoon of mace
1 tablespoon soft brown sugar

Put the onion, garlic, carrot, apple and drained apricots into a large saucepan.

Add enough water to the syrup from the tin of apricots to make 1 cup or 240ml of liquid and add to the saucepan. Place the saucepan over a medium heat, bring to a simmer and cook all of the ingredients for 15 to 20 minutes until tender.

Meanwhile add both vinegars with the remaining spices to a smaller saucepan and simmer, again for about 15 to 20 minutes until slightly reduced.

Once cooked place the vegetable mixture from the larger saucepan into a liquidiser and blitz until fully combined and smooth.

Now add the contents from the vinegar saucepan to the vegetable mix and pass the mixture through a fine sieve to remove the bay leaves and pepper corns as well as any larger lumps from the vegetable mix.

Return the sieved mixture to a large saucepan, add the sugar and simmer quite rapidly for at least 30 minutes (although this stage could take quite a bit longer depending on the water content of your original vegetable mixture) until the mixture has reduced to a thick, sticky, ketchup like consistency.

Allow to cool and store in a sealable container in the fridge, this should keep for at least a week.

Wednesday, 7 March 2012

Apple and Blackberry Flapjacks

So I need to apologise for the lack of recent blog updates but I have been a little preoccupied with the process of moving house. A process that was made more complicated than necessary due to the location of the Irish Sea and my new house being on the opposite side of it from where I was previously living. But after carefully packing (stuffing) all of my wordly possesions into 2 cars I have successfully made it (via ferry) to a rather rural part of Northern Ireland and am starting to settle in pretty well. I now have a beautiful sea view, a Rayburn (which I am yet to get totally to grips with) and a five minute commute to work. It all sounds rather idylllic, but broadband providers don’t seem to acknowledge that people living in such idyllic locations may want to access the internet so it has taken longer than I would have liked to be connected to the world wide web and get active on the blog front. But I am back and ready to get cooking on the Rayburn to provide more delicious ‘Something Missing’ treats!

Whilst I perfect baking in my new oven however I thought I would dig out a recipe I made ages ago and have managed to miss off of the blog to date. But here is my apple and blackberry flapjack recipe, and unlike most flapjack recipes there is no golden syrup or treacle. Instead the golden syrup is replaced with blackberry jam (which I had quite a large glut of last year after a slightly over enthusiastic blackberrying session). The blackberry jam provides the sweetness that the syrup would normally contribute to a flapjack although these flapjacks turn out slightly softer than a syrup fuelled jack and lack the chew normally associated with these treats…but a delicious tea time treat none the less, oh and they are suitable for vegans!


250g porridge oats
150g margarine
100g blackberry jam
50g caster sugar
1 large eating apple (a crispy variety works best)

Pre-heat oven to 175 deg C / 350 deg F

Grease a 20cm square baking tray and line with greaseproof paper.

Put the margarine, jam and sugar into a saucepan and place over a medium heat. Occassionally stir the ingredients until melted and once well combined remove the saucepan from the heat.

Core the apple and dice into small chunks (I left the peel on, but you can always peel the apple first if you prefer). Then place the diced apple and oats into the saucepan and stir all of the ingredients together until well combined.

Spoon the mixture into the lined baking tray and press flat with the back of a spoon ensuring the mixture is evenly distributed in the tin.

Bake in the oven for 25 to 30 minutes until the top is golden brown in colour.

Remove from the oven and allow to cool before carefully turning the tin over onto a flat surface. Then remove the baking tray and greaseproof paper and slice into squares or fingers before serving.