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Christmas almond macaroons

We wanted to make a Christmas treat with similar flavours to stollen, lots of dried fruit, spices and yumminess. These really exceeded our expectations, they are moist, slightly chewy and full of Christmassy goodness!

The aquafaba and ground almond mix is a bit of a star, and can be made without any of the dried fruit and nuts to make a lovely soft cookie.

These almost didn’t last long enough to photograph…

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Christmas almond macaroons

makes 12 to 14


100 ml aquafaba (this should be half the amount you get from 1 400 g tin of chickpeas)
50 g caster sugar
1/4 tsp xanthan gum
a pinch of salt
1/4 tsp mixed spice
150 g ground almonds
50 g pistachios, roughly chopped
60 g glace cherries, quartered
30 g mixed peel
50 g raisins
2 tbsp icing sugar


Preheat the oven to 200 degrees c and line a tray with baking paper.
Using a hand or stand mixer beat the aqua faba until it forms soft peaks. As aquafaba varies in strength, this can take anywhere 4 to 8 minutes.
Beat in the sugar until mixture is glossy and forms stiff peaks. Next beat in the xanthan gum, salt and mixed spice.
Fold in the ground almonds, pistachios, cherries, mixed peel and raisins until well combined. The aquafaba meringue mixture will lose volume, this is correct.
Using two dessert spoons make quenelles of the mixture and drop them carefully onto the lined tray.
Bake for 20 minutes until attractively browned.
When cool, dust with the icing sugar.

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Christmas almond macaroons, just dusted with icing sugar


By A. and E.

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Glazed sesame chestnuts

Chestnuts make perfect pocket warmers for walks out in the frozen winter. No really, they do!
Cook them just before you set out, and then wrap a few in kitchen paper or a handkerchief and pop them into your pocket. They’ll stay warm for a while keeping your hands toasty, and when they’ve cooled you have a lovely snack to give you energy for the rest of the walk!
This recipe is a smoky, spicy, tasty thing to do with the leftovers.

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Glazed sesame chestnuts

serves 4


around 25 chestnuts in shells, or 150 g shelled
2 tsp tomato powder, or 1 tsp tomato puree
1/4 tsp freshly grated nutmeg, or 1/8 tsp ready ground
1/4 tsp salt
1 tbsp oil
2 tbsp tamari
1 tsp liquid smoke or smoked paprika
2 tbsp sesame seeds


Preheat the oven to 200 degrees c.
Cut a slit in each of the chestnut shells (you must do this or they’ll burst in the oven!) And roast for around 20 minutes until the shells have started to open a little. Cool just until you can handle them, and remove the shells and the papery covering inside the shells (if you’re lucky, it all comes off in one go!)
Putting them cut side down and pressing gently on the shell with your palm helps to loosen it.
If you’re using chestnuts that have been previously roasted and then cooled completely they can be rather hard to shell, so pop them back in a hot oven for 2 minutes before shelling. Don’t reheat them for too long or they’ll go hard when they’re baked in the glaze!
Mix together the tomato powder, nutmeg, salt, oil, tamari and liquid smoke and then toss the chestnuts in the resulting paste.
Spread them out on a baking sheet and sprinkle over the sesame seeds.
Bake for 10 minutes, and serve warm or cold.


By E.

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Flower sprout and tofu rice salad with dill and peas

So last year, flower sprouts were flower sprouts, a cross between a brussel sprout and kale and we’ve blogged quite a few recipes using them.
This year however, they appear to be called Kalettes… Which I think sounds like either a helpful 1950’s electrical kitchen implement, or a mysterious item of ladies underwear.
So I’m sticking with flower sprouts, it’s straightforward and my mind is less likely to disappear off on flights of fancy and am much more likely to get some cooking done.
So, to the recipe! The flower sprouts are slightly bitter, and so go beautifully with the sweet peas and pea shoots. With chewy savoury tofu and lovely fresh dill it all comes together very nicely.
I’m increasingly using the sachets of ready cooked rice as a base for lunch salads at the moment, mostly for speed to be honest, but there’s some lovely varieties around at the moment with all sorts of nice seeds and grains added.

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Flower sprout and tofu rice salad with peas and dill

makes 4 servings


200 g flower sprouts, washed and patted dry on kitchen paper
400 g firm tofu, cut into 2 cm ish cubes
2 tbsp oil
2 tsp dried ramsons or 1 clove chopped garlic
3 tbsp tamari
75 g frozen peas
100 g pea shoots
15 g fresh dill, chopped
2 tbsp white balsamic vinegar
500 g cooked rice, (I use 2 of the ready cooked sachets, this time the Tilda brand brown basmati with quinoa, pumpkin seeds and sunflower seeds)


Preheat the oven to 200 degrees c.
Toss the tofu in 1 tbsp of the oil in a roasting tin. Bake for 20 minutes, until starting to brown.
Move the tofu to one side of the tin, turning the cubes over as you go. Add the flower sprouts to the other side, drizzling the remaining 1 tbsp of oil over them. Sprinkle the ramsons or garlic, and tamari over the tofu and flower sprouts and then bake for a further 15 minutes.
The flower sprouts should be crisp in places and cooked through. Leave to cool.
Cook the rice according to the sachet instructions, and tip into a large bowl big enough to hold all the ingredients.
Stir through the frozen peas, and the vinegar. This helps to cool the rice quickly, but stir it around often too. When it’s stopped steaming pop it in the fridge to cool completely.
Mix the tofu, flower sprouts and dill into the rice and peas, and serve each portion on top of 1/4 of the pea shoots.


By E.

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Mushroom, pea and sun dried tomato oven baked risotto

I do like making a risotto in the oven, although I expect purists would say it isn’t a proper risotto if it isn’t stirred!
Either method works well with this recipe, and however soothing 20 minutes of stirring can be, sometimes chucking a pot in the oven while you get on with things is so very appealing!
I’ve used three types of mushroom here, large flat mushrooms which give great colour as well as flavour, mushrooms preserved in oil which have a lovely texture, and dried mushrooms for a deep savoury element.
It ended up being a gorgeous autumnal dish for a simple meal, with a nice salad of leaves and tomatoes as well.

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Mushroom, pea and sun dried tomato oven baked risotto

makes 4 servings


2 large flat mushrooms, chopped
90 g of jarred mushrooms in oil, drained, plus 1 tbsp of their oil (about half a jar, I used some from Lidl)
10 g mixed dried mushrooms
4 large sun dried tomatoes, chopped
50 ml vermouth
200 g arborio rice
2 tsp dried ramsons, or 1 clove of chopped garlic
450 ml boiling water, plus 100 ml to soak the mushrooms
75 g frozen peas
salt and pepper


Preheat the oven to 180 degrees c. Soak the dried mushrooms for 10 minutes in 100 ml hot water.
While the mushrooms are soaking, put the flat mushrooms, jar mushrooms, oil and sun dried tomatoes in an ovenproof pan (one that has a lid) on a medium heat.
Cook for a couple of minutes until the flat mushrooms are softening, and then add the vermouth and turn the heat up a bit.
Bubble for 5 minutes or so until the liquid has reduced by about half. Squeeze the liquid from the rehydrated mushrooms and roughly chop them. Add them to the pan along with the rice, and stir well until all the grains are coated with the oil/vermouth mixture.
Mix in the ramsons and water and cover the pan.
Cook in the oven for 20 minutes.
By this point the rice should be cooked through and the water absorbed.
Add the peas and pop back in the oven for 5 minutes to heat them through.
Season to taste with salt and pepper and serve with salad.


By E.

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Butternut squash, tofu and radish salad

Both Alex and I have been ridiculously busy with work recently, without much time for making a note of recipes. Which will never do!
However we did have this colourful, pretty salad for work lunches over a couple of days and it really helped to brighten the mood.
I baked the squash and tofu one after another, as there wasn’t quite room for them both in the same tin, the squash was quite large.
But if there’s space cook them both together to save time!

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butternut squash, radish and tofu salad

makes 4 servings


1 butternut squash, halved
1 tsp oil
6 – 8 radishes, sliced
4 small cucumbers, diced
4 handfuls rocket
juice of 1/2 to 1 lemon depending on size
salt and pepper
200 g cooked rice (I used a sachet of Tilda whole grain rice and quinoa)
1 400 g tin green lentils
for the tofu
1 400 g block of tofu, cut into cubes
2 tsp oil
2 tsp dried ramsons
2 tbsp tamari


Preheat the oven to 200 degrees c.
Rub the butternut squash halves with a little oil and put cut side up in a roasting tin. Bake for 45 minutes to 1 hour, turning half way through, until tender and cooked through.
Cool a little, and then scoop out the seeds and peel off the skin. Chop into chunks.
In the same roasting tin, toss the tofu with the oil and bake for 20 minutes until starting to brown.
Mix in the tamari and ramsons and cook for a further 10 minutes, cool. To assemble, mix the squash, radishes, cucumber, rocket, rice and lentils together with the lemon juice, and season with salt and pepper. Mix the tofu through at the end.


By E.

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Broccoli, butterbean and basil salad

I seem to have slipped into making pretty uninspired salads for work lunches recently, so this time I wanted something a little more coherent, with complementary flavours and textures.
Enter broccoli and basil!
I go through phases with broccoli, sometimes I can take it or leave it and other times I really crave it. It’s so nice in salads and paired with basil makes a lovely dish for the end of summer.
I’ve also added butterbeans for a creamy texture, olives and sun dried tomatoes to complement the basil, and cucumber for crunch. Lovely!

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Broccoli, butterbean and basil salad

serves 2


1 medium head of broccoli, cut into florets
1 400 g tin of butterbeans, drained
30 g fresh basil
3 tbsp water (save it from steaming the broccoli if possible)
1 tbsp white balsamic vinegar
4 sun dried tomatoes from a jar, and 1 tbsp of the oil
20 small olives
about 6 cm cucumber, diced
salt and pepper


Steam the broccoli until just cooked. I did mine for 3 minutes in the microwave, with a little water.
Pick and separate about 1/3 of the basil leaves and set aside.
Blitz the rest with the oil from the tomato jar, vinegar, water, and salt and pepper.
Mix together the drained broccoli, butterbeans, olives and dressing. Leave to cool completely and then fold through the cucumber and basil leaves.


By E.

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Spinach, kale and apple soup

Doesn’t green soup always feel ever so nutritious?
And this one is, being full of spinach and kale🙂
There are also apples for sweetness and acidity, sun dried tomatoes to add a little richness, and potato for a lovely texture.
All the flavours come together to make a very satisfying soup!
It’s so easy to make, everything just goes in the pot together. It could be cooked in the oven as most of our soups are but this time we used the hob. Add around 10 -15 minutes to the cooking time if you’re using the oven.
It’s pictured below with a sandwich made from our beetroot bread, which makes for a very pleasing colour palette!

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Spinach, kale and apple soup

serves 2 to 4


100 g kale, shredded
100 g baby spinach
2 small apples, chopped. We used braeburn
2 large sun dried tomatoes
1 medium potato, chopped
1 heaped tsp dried oregano
1/4 tsp dried thyme
600 ml hot water
salt and pepper


Put the spinach and kale into a large pot on a medium heat and pour over the hot water. This will start the spinach wilting and enable you to fit the rest of the ingredients in!
Add the apples, sun dried tomato, potato, oregano and thyme. Bring to a simmer, partially cover and cook with the heat on low for around 25 minutes until the potato is soft.
Blend the soup until smooth (we used an immersion blender), and season to taste with salt and pepper.


By A. and E.

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Chocolate chip and peanut oat flour biscuits

The first time we made this recipe we wrote it up with the title ‘the best of biscuits’, and they really are the nicest we’ve made so far! And we’ve made a lot of biscuits…
The oat flour adds a gorgeous toasty flavour, and adding whole oats too gives them a great texture. They’re a cookie type of biscuit, so crisp round the edges and chewy in the middle, and they’re perfect for dunking in tea!
You could omit the peanuts if you like, but they’re so good with the chocolate that it would be a shame to leave them out🙂

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Chocolate chip and peanut oat flour biscuits

makes 12


100 g gluten free oat flour
30 g cornflour (corn starch)
150 g vegan margarine
150 g dark brown sugar
40 g gluten free oats
1 tsp baking powder
large pinch salt
70 g small dark chocolate chips (we get them from Aldi)
30 g salted peanuts


Preheat the oven to 200 degrees c and line two trays with baking paper.
Sift together the oat flour, cornflour and baking powder and mix in the oats and salt.
Cream together the margarine and sugar. Add the flour and oat mixture and beat together until everything is well combined.
Lastly add the chocolate chips and peanuts and mix well to ensure they are evenly distributed. It should be a sticky dough.
Divide the mixture into 12 balls and lay 6 on each tray, with plenty of space around as they spread a lot while baking. Pat them down a little. You can do them in two batches if you only have one tray, the dough is fine to sit a while.
Bake for 12 to 15 minutes until the edges are browned.
Cool completely before eating to let them set.


By A. and E.

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Beetroot bread, gluten free and vegan

We actually didn’t expect this beetroot bread to turn out such an amazing colour!
The crust stays a beautiful bright pink and the inside, due to the yellow corn meal, turns a lovely soft orange colour.
And as well as looking spectacular, it tastes good too! The beetroot powder adds a slight sweetness and earthy flavour which is really delicious.
This is a loaf that gets better as it keeps, the texture is nicest after a couple of days. But it’s hard to keep it that long, and thankfully it’s yummy freshly baked too!

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Vegan gluten free beetroot bread

makes 1 small loaf


375 ml tepid water
7 g instant yeast
1 tsp sugar
65 ml oil, plus a tiny bit extra for the cling film which covers the dough while it’s proving
70 g tapioca flour
65 g millet flour
65 g rice flour
170 g fine corn meal
10 g beetroot powder
6 g xanthan gum
1 tsp salt


Whisk together the tepid water, yeast and sugar and leave for around 10 minutes until frothy.
Mix together the tapioca flour, millet flour, rice flour, corn meal, beetroot powder, xanthan gum and salt. Use a balloon whisk, it’s easier to get it all properly combined that way.
Tip the yeast mixture and oil into the flour and beat together until well combined. It should be a thick batter.
Tip into a non stick 750 ml loaf tin and smooth the top. Cover with oiled cling film and prove for around half an hour until the batter has risen just over the top of the tin. It’s important to oil the cling film or the batter will stick to it!

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Beetroot bread batter ready to be baked

Preheat the oven to 180 degrees c.
When the batter has proved bake for 40 – 45 minutes until the loaf has risen, formed a nice crust, and feels hollow when the bottom is tapped.

Let the loaf cool completely before slicing.

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Beetroot bread, the crust is such an amazing colour!

By A. and E.

6

Spice roasted whole cauliflower with beetroot and butternut squash

Doesn’t a whole roasted cauliflower look pretty! Even a little one, like in my photo.
I made this colourful roast to have as a work lunch with a little rice, but it would be great served warm too.
The slightly orangey notes of the coriander seed along with the caraway and thyme match very well with the flavours of each individual vegetable.
You could use a larger cauliflower, as it’s essentially cooked before roasting. You would need to make more of the spice mix though, perhaps double the spices, vinegar and oil.
And of course you can also use raw beetroot, just be sure to cook it a bit (steam or roast) before it goes in with the butternut squash as it takes substantially longer to cook through. I like the ready cooked kind for convenience though!

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Spice roasted whole cauliflower with beetroot and butternut squash

serves 2


1 small cauliflower, about 300 g after trimming
a few of the outer leaves of the cauliflower if they’re good
300 g butternut squash, diced
250 g cooked beetroot, diced (the sort you can buy in a vacuum pack in the supermarket, not pickled)
1 tbsp coriander seed
1 tsp caraway seed
1 tsp dried thyme
a large pinch of salt
1 tsp vinegar (I used sherry vinegar)
2 tbsp oil


Preheat the oven to 180 degrees c.
First steam the cauliflower until just tender, I did mine in the microwave for 5 minutes. I find that the texture of roasted cauliflower is more pleasing if it’s steamed first.
Toss in any larger cauliflower leaves for a couple of minutes too, the smaller ones shouldn’t need it.
Crush together the coriander seed, caraway seed, thyme and salt. They don’t need to be powder by any means, a bit of texture is good.
In the corner of a large roasting tin, mix together the spices, vinegar and oil.
Roll the cauliflower in the spice mix until nicely coated and then toss the rest of the vegetables in the remainder.
Arrange the cauliflower prettily in the centre of the tray with the butternut, leaves and beetroot around it.
Bake for 45 – 55 minutes until everything is cooked through and the cauliflower is lightly browned.
Cut the cauliflower into wedges or slices to serve.


By E.