Pitta breads, vegan and gluten free

We’ve been playing with different combinations of flours and consistencies of doughs recently, and this one has emerged as our definite favourite!
The millet flour gives the dough a really lovely flavour, like wholemeal bread, and as long as it’s rested after mixing is easy to work with.
It started off as a dough for potsticker dumplings, and it works very well in that capacity, but we found that it really comes into its own when baked. We’ve made pizza style garlic bread with it, and calzones, and pitta crisps (recipe to come for those…), all of which were great!
But the fact that the dough puffs up beautifully in the oven is most exciting, it means we can have pitta breads!
Also exciting, is the fact that the pittas can be frozen when when the dough is raw and baked straight from the freezer. Hooray!


Vegan, gluten free pitta breads!

makes 16

150 g cassava flour
200 g millet flour
100 g rice flour, plus extra for dusting the board
200 g potato starch
5.5 tsp xanthan gum
a large pinch of salt
400 ml cold water (you may need a bit less)
around 2 tbsp oil

To make the dough mix together the cassava, millet and rice flours with the potato starch, xanthan gum and salt in a large bowl using a balloon whisk. This ensures that all the flours are distributed evenly.
Add the water slowly and mix using a wooden spoon. You may not need all of the water, the dough should be fairly soft and slightly sticky. When the dough has come together, knead it briefly to ensure everything is mixed together well. Bring the dough into a ball, and cover with clingfilm to stop it drying out.
Leave to rest for at least 30 minutes. If you don’t rest it, the dough will be difficult to shape and liable to fall apart.
When the dough has rested turn the oven to 220 degrees c and pop a tray in to heat up. Divide the dough into 16 pieces and shape each one into a rough oval, patting them out using your hands on a board dusted with plenty of rice flour.
Each oval should be around 0.5 cm thick. Rub a very little oil on the top of each oval.
Cook the pittas in batches on the hot tray for 10 – 12 minutes, until puffed up nicely.

By A. and E.


Vegan, gluten free chocolate mallow teacakes!

The teacake is a beautiful thing. Soft biscuit, jam and airy mallow all encased in a chocolate dome. It’s such a treat!
We’ve been thinking about having a go at a vegan, gluten free version for a while, pretty much since we heard about aquafaba!
Aquafaba is the cooking liquid (or canning liquid) from legumes, often chickpeas, and can mimic egg whites. It whips up really well, so we’ve used it as the base of our mallow filling.
Rather than beat in lots of icing sugar as you would for a traditional meringue or marshmallow, we’ve used sugar syrup and a little xanthan gum which gives a lovely airy finish with very little sugar (comparatively!). It’s a long recipe, but none of the steps are difficult and they’re such a joyful thing to make!


Vegan, gluten free chocolate mallow teacakes!

makes 6

200 g dark chocolate
3 tsp raspberry jam
for the biscuits
50 g vegan margarine, we use vitalite
50 g dark muscovado sugar
50 g caster sugar
100 g rice flour
1/2 tsp xanthan gum
1/4 tsp baking powder
1/8 tsp salt
1/4 tsp vanilla extract
1 tbsp soy milk
for the vanilla mallow
100 ml aquafaba (around half the amount you get from a 400 g tin of chickpeas)
25 g sugar
25 ml water
1/2 tsp xanthan gum
1/8 tsp vanilla extract
you will also need..
a 6 x 6.5 cm silicon dome mold
a 6 cm round biscuit cutter
an electric hand mixer to make the mallow (it’s perfectly possible with a balloon whisk, but is much quicker this way)

Preheat the oven to 200 degrees c.
Melt 150 g of the chocolate, we use use the microwave in 15 second bursts. Put a tsp of chocolate into the first dome and smooth it out. Add more chocolate until the dome is covered with a thin layer.
Repeat with the other domes, you should have used about half of the chocolate. Refrigerate the domes for 10 minutes.
Give the chocolate a quick burst in the microwave if it has started to set, and add another layer to the domes. Pop them back into the fridge for at least 20 minutes.
While the domes are setting, make the biscuits. Cream together the margarine and sugars in a large bowl. Beat in the vanilla. Add the rice flour, baking powder xanthan gum and salt and mix well.
Add the soy milk if it feels a bit dry, it should come together as a soft dough. Pat the dough out on a lightly greased tray to about 3/4 cm thickness. The shape isn’t important as long as you make sure that you will be able to cut 6 biscuits out of it.
Bake for 15 minutes.
While the biscuit is still soft cut the rounds out, but leave them on the tray to cool and set.


The biscuit bases

Next make the vanilla mallow. Make simple syrup by dissolving 25 g sugar in 25 ml water over a medium heat. Leave to cool a little, although it still needs to be quite hot for the mallow.
Beat the aquafaba in a large bowl until it reaches the soft peak stage, around 5 minutes. While the beaters are still going, slowly pour in the hot sugar syrup. Sprinkle the xanthan gum over the top and add the vanilla. Beat again until well combined.


Light, airy vanilla mallow

Now to assemble the teacakes!
Carefully loosen the edges of the chocolate dome molds and remove the domes.


Chocolate domes

Place the domes back in the molds and then fill 2/3 full with vanilla mallow. Put 1/2 a tsp of jam in the middle of each biscuit and then place jam side down into the chocolate domes. Melt the last 50 g of chocolate and cover each biscuit, smoothing it around the edges to form a seal with the dome.
Return to the fridge for 30 minutes, and then carefully remove the finished teacakes from the molds.


Vegan, gluten free chocolate mallow teacakes!

By A. and E.


Ackee with lemony spiced vegetable and bean stew

I started off thinking along the lines of jerk seasoning today, the sun is out and allspice and citrus seemed very appealing!
But rather than making a very hot spice paste as jerk would be, I’ve gone for some of the same flavours, but with herbal and lemon notes to make a fragrant and fresh stew to go with creamy ackee.
I blogged an ackee recipe a while ago, and although I have cooked with it since then it’s always been a similar dish, with rice and assorted flavourings.
This makes a lovely change, and is a delicious, bright, springtime meal.


Ackee with lemony spiced vegetable and bean stew

makes 4 servings

for the spice paste
2 tsp coriander seed
6 to 10 allspice berries, depending on size
zest of 1 large lemon
juice of 1/2 large lemon
3 cm piece of fresh ginger, chopped
1 tbsp dried ramsons (wild garlic), or 2 cloves fresh garlic
1 small leek, the dark green tops minced and add the whites finely sliced to the stew (I ended up with 3 tbsp of the tops)
1/2 tsp dried thyme
a small bunch of fresh parsley (about 15 g), stalks chopped and leaves saved for the stew
a small bunch of fresh coriander (about 15 g), stalks chopped and leaves saved for the stew
1/4 tsp salt
2 tsp apple cider vinegar
1/8 tsp freshly grated nutmeg
1 tsp dark brown muscovado sugar
2 tbsp oil
for the stew
400 g tin of chopped tomatoes
2 sticks of celery, chopped
1 large carrot, chopped
200 g mushrooms, chopped
50 g frozen spinach
100 g green lentils, rinsed
300 ml water
400 g tin of black eye beans, drained (240 g drained)
1 540 g tin of ackee, drained (340 g drained)

Preheat the oven to 160 degrees c.
First make the paste. You can use a mini processor to whizz everything together (as long as it’s strong enough to cope with the allspice berries), but I like to use a pestle and mortar.
Start with the coriander seed and allspice and get it partially crushed. Next add the lemon zest, ginger, leek tops, thyme, ramsons, parsley stalks, coriander stalks, salt and vinegar. Smush together into a paste. Then the nutmeg and sugar goes in, and bash it a bit more. By this point there should be no large lumps of allspice berry or coriander seed. Stir in the lemon juice.
Now the stew. Heat the oil on a low heat in a large ovenproof casserole dish with a lid. Add the paste, and cook for 1 minute, stirring all the time. Add the leek whites, celery, carrot and mushrooms, along with the tin of tomatoes and 300 ml water. Bring to a simmer on the hob, cover and place in the oven for 30 minutes. After this time add the lentils and spinach and return to the oven for a further 30 minutes.
Then add the beans, parsley and ackee and give the stew a last 10 minutes, that’s 1 hr 10 minutes in total.
Stir coriander through at the end.

By E.


Leek and white bean soup with ginger sweetcorn cream

Although both this leek and white bean soup and the ginger sweetcorn cream are delicious on their own, it’s when they’re combined that the flavours really come alive!
The ginger sweetcorn cream almost tastes like dessert (now there’s an idea…), but together with the subtly flavoured soup it makes a really rather exciting combination.
It’s an unusual and very moreish addition to my soup library!


Leek and white bean soup with a rather clumsy swirl of ginger sweetcorn cream!

serves 4 to 6

for the soup
2 leeks, chopped
2 sticks celery, chopped
1 onion, chopped
1 bay leaf
a small bunch of parsley (around 15 g), roughly chopped
800 ml hot water
1 400 g tin of cannellini beans (240 g drained weight), drained
salt and white pepper
a small bunch of fresh coriander (around 15 g), chopped
for the ginger sweetcorn cream
150 g sweetcorn kernels, frozen or from a tin
2 cm piece of fresh ginger, peeled and roughly chopped
zest of 1/2 a lemon
juice of 1/2 a lemon (save 2 tsp for the soup)
salt to taste

Preheat the oven to 160 degrees c.
Put the leeks, celery, onion, bay leaf, parsley and hot water in a large ovenproof casserole dish with a lid.
Bring to a simmer on the hob and then transfer to the oven for 1 hour, adding the cannelini beans after 45 minutes.
Remove the bay leaf and blend the soup, adding salt and white pepper to taste.
Stir the coriander and reserved 2 tsp of lemon juice through the soup and reheat gently to serve.
While the soup is cooking make the ginger sweetcorn cream.
Put the sweetcorn, lemon juice, ginger and salt to taste in a blender. Blend until it’s as smooth as you can get it. If you want to be cheffy you can pass it through a fine sieve, but I didn’t bother.
Serve the soup with a swirl of the cream.

By E.


Dried tofu sticks with roasted vegetables, edamame, and coriander dressing

I find it all too easy to think of roasted vegetables as a Mediterranean dish, with basil and tomatoes and that sort of thing. But increasingly I’ve been pairing them with Chinese or Japanese style flavours (or more often a mixture of the two!). And it can make for some really delicious salads to eat for work lunches.
Here I’m serving the vegetables with a lovely gingery coriander dressing, and some fresh edamame beans. And also, dried tofu sticks which I’ve always meant to try but never got round to, they’re hard to get hold of round here. But lo and behold I found that you can buy them online from tesco!
The dried tofu sticks are actually rolls of very thin tofu sheet and are soaked in water until pliable and then sliced and added to the vegetables. And very good they are too, adding a great texture.
I’m serving this dish cold with rice for work lunches, but it would be lovely hot too.


Dried tofu sticks with roasted vegetables, edamame beans, and coriander ginger dressing

makes 4 servings

150 g edamame beans
100 g dried tofu sticks
150 g butternut squash and sweet potato (I used a mixed pack from the supermarket, but either one would be fine)
2 courgettes, cut into chunks
1 red pepper cut into chunks
140 g cabbage, shredded
40 g cashew nuts
1 1/2 tbsp oil
a pinch of salt
5 cm of fresh ginger, grated
3 tbsp coriander leaf, fresh or frozen
1 tbsp tamari
1 tbsp mirin
2 tsp apple cider vinegar
75 ml water
1/4 tsp xanthan gum, optional but gives the dressing a bit of body

Preheat the oven to 200 degrees c.
In a large roasting tin, mix the butternut squash, sweet potato, courgettes and red pepper with the oil and salt.
Roast for 1 hour total until the edges of the vegetables are starting to char. 30 minutes into the roasting time, add the cabbage and cashews and give it all a good mix, and then stir again after 45 minutes. This ensures the cabbage and cashews don’t catch and burn.
To make the dressing, put the ginger, tamari, mirin, vinegar and water in a small saucepan and heat until just about to simmer. Turn the heat off, whisk in the xanthan gum and then stir through the coriander.
Soak the dried tofu sticks in hot water for 3 -5 minutes. They will turn paler and opaque. Drain, squeeze the excess water out (carefully, it may be hot!), and snip into 1-2 cm pieces with scissors. If the very ends of the tofu sticks haven’t softened discard them.
Mix the edamame beans, tofu and dressing through the roasted vegetables to serve.

By E.


Kidney bean carob chilli with pickled cabbage, sweetcorn and mint salad

This whole meal actually only came about because I found a forgotten box of carob powder in the cupboard…
It was bought a couple of months ago with the intention of using it in some sort of cake, but as I tend to, I put it away and forgot about it. But yesterday I was wondering what to make for work lunches this week, and hit upon the idea of using the carob powder to add richness to a bean chilli, much as you can use cocoa powder. It really does work well, and combined with all the herbs and spices makes a gorgeous sauce for the beans and vegetables.
To go with such a lovely rich stew you need a fresh and zesty vegetable accompaniment. So here I’ve lightly pickled cabbage and sweetcorn kernels in vinegar and lime juice, adding mint leaves at the end.


Kidney bean carob chilli with pickled cabbage, sweetcorn and mint salad

serves 4 to 8 depending on whether you serve other accompaniments such as rice

for the kidney bean carob chilli
350 g kidney beans, soaked overnight
700 ml water
1 leek, chopped
1 red pepper, diced
2 carrots, diced
2 sticks of celery, diced
1 apple, cored and chopped
175 g mushrooms, sliced
500 g passata
1 tbsp liquid smoke or smoked paprika
1/2 tsp cumin seed
2 tsp coriander seed
1/2 tsp fennel seed
1 tbsp dried oregano
1/2 tsp dried thyme
1 bay leaf
1 tbsp dried wild garlic (ramsons), or 1 clove of garlic, minced
1 tbsp carob powder
2 fresh red chillies, chopped (or to taste)
salt and pepper
3 tbsp fresh coriander
for the pickled cabbage, sweetcorn and mint salad
130 g savoy cabbage, shredded
150 g sweetcorn (I used some from a tin)
2 tbsp apple cider vinegar
4 tbsp lime juice
1/4 tsp salt
1/4 tsp sugar
150 ml water
about 30 smallish mint leaves

Put the kidney beans and water in a large saucepan and bring to the boil. Boil for 10 minutes.
Meanwhile toast the cumin, coriander and fennel seeds in a dry pan, then grind using a pestle and mortar or electric grinder.
Add the spices and all the rest of the ingredients except the salt and pepper and fresh coriander to the kidney beans (save a little chilli for garnish if you like).
Bring to a simmer and then cook, partially covered for 45 minutes. Check the liquid levels after 30 minutes, you may need to add a little more water, but the sauce should end up nice and thick.
When the time is up the kidney beans should be tender, the vegetables cooked through, and the sauce thickened nicely.
To make the pickled cabbage salad, put all of the ingredients except the mint leaves in a small saucepan. Cover and bring to a simmer. The liquid will not cover the vegetables, but as the cabbage simmers it will cook down. Cook for 3 minutes. Turn the heat off and leave to cool (with the lid on)
Mix the coriander and some salt and pepper through the kidney bean carob chilli, and serve with a nice pile of salad on top and some chopped red chilli sprinkled over.

By E.


Miso mushroom and quinoa bake

Last week both Alex and I had a couple of days off work (yay!). And while doing a bit of gardening and spidery conservatory clearing (I am eternally grateful to Alex for his help with this!), we discovered the joy of miso mushrooms on toast for breakfast.
It was back to the office yesterday (boo!), So for lunches I made this lovely bake with the flavours we’d so enjoyed.
It’s hearty and healthy and full of good things, and tastes delicious too.
You could definitely vary the vegetables, I just used what I had in the fridge. But there must be mushrooms!


Miso mushroom and quinoa bake

makes 4 servings

375g mushrooms, sliced
1 small courgette, diced
1 celery stick, diced
stalk from a head of broccoli, sliced
2 tbsp oil
150 g quinoa, washed and dry toasted
50 g red lentils, washed
1 400 g tin of kidney beans (240 g drained weight)
2 tbsp tomato paste
1 tbsp brown rice miso
1 tsp dried oregano
500 ml hot water

Preheat the oven to 180 degrees c.
Put the courgette, celery and broccoli stalk in a large roasting dish with the oil and cook in the oven for 10 minutes.
Add the mushrooms, stir and cook for a further 5 minutes.
Next add the tomato paste, brown rice miso and oregano to a corner of the roasting dish and mix with a little of the hot water to loosen. Add the quinoa, red lentils, kidney beans and the rest of the water and mix together well.
Cover with foil and pop it in the oven for 20 minutes. Remove the foil and cook for a further 15 minutes.
By this point the liquid should have been absorbed and the lentils and quinoa cooked through.

By E.