2

basil and nasturtium sauce

It’s raining here on the Fylde coast at the moment, raining a lot!

But last weekend Alex and I went with the British bank holiday weekend tradition of barbecue, with the idea of making a gorgeous meal of smoky vegetables with pasta and nicely charred fruit for afters. However, the sauce we made to go with both was absolutely the star of the meal!

I’m growing nasturtiums this year, I love the flowers to look at but the fact that both flowers and leaves are edible (and delicious) makes it a properly multifunctional plant which appeals to me immensely.

The leaves are beautifully peppery, a little like rocket, and combined with basil and lemon make a lovely fresh sauce that goes equally well with sweet or savoury.

We dressed pasta with the sauce and then topped with barbecued mushrooms, green beans and asparagus for the savoury course. And then for afters we dipped lightly charred watermelon and nectarine in the peppery, herbal, lemony sauce. Both were delicious, and there’s something very pleasing about using the same sauce for the two courses!

 

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basil and nasturtium sauce with barbecued watermelon and nectarine for dipping

 

Serves two for either the sweet or savoury version, double it to try both


30 g bunch of basil, leaves only

10 g nasturtium leaves (stalks are fine too)

2 tbsp good oil, we used cold pressed rapeseed

Juice and zest of 1 small lemon

a small pinch of salt

2 tbsp water

 

This sauce is so simple it really doesn’t need a method!

Simply whizz together all the ingredients in a mini processor or use the attachment from an immersion blender as we did. Done!

 

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gluten free pasta with basil and nasturtium sauce and barbecued vegetables

 


By A. and E.

3

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.

6

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!

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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.

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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.

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Light, airy vanilla mallow

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

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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.


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Vegan, gluten free chocolate mallow teacakes!

By A. and E.

4

Christmas Dessert – Lapsang souchong and persimmon sticky toffee cake with tahini caramel sauce

For the dessert for our Christmas meal we’ve gone for an indulgent moist cake based on the traditional sticky toffee pudding recipe. Rather than use plain tea to soak the dates though, we’ve used beautiful smokey lapsang souchong tea, and added sweet persimmon with their subtle melon-like flavour to the mixture.

Rather like an upside down cake, the tin has a layer of muscovado sugar and persimmon slices added before the batter goes in, so that when the cake is turned out it has a beautiful design of caramelised persimmon on top.

And the caramel sauce is pretty special! We used tahini in it, to add an extra layer of toasty flavour which balances the sweetness.

All in all, it’s a delicious, different end to the festive meal!

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Lapsang souchong and persimmon sticky toffee cake, with tahini caramel sauce

makes 6 – 8 servings


 

for the date, tea and persimmon sauce

2 lapsang souchong tea bags

200 ml hot water

100 g stoneless dates, chopped

1 persimmon, chopped (remove the core if it is woody)

for the cake

225 g gluten free plain flour

225 g dark muscovado sugar

225 g vegan margarine

75 g plain soy yogurt

1 1/2 teaspoon gluten free baking powder

1/2 teaspoon xanthan gum

A pinch of salt

for the topping

5 thin slices of persimmon, about 2 mm each. Pick the slices with the attractive star shape in the middle, caused by the core.

2 tbsp dark muscovado sugar

for the tahini caramel sauce

100 g white sugar

4 tbsp tahini

100 ml soy milk


 

Preheat the oven to fan 180 degrees c and grease a 22 cm cake tin. Line the bottom of the cake tin.

Put the tea bags, water, dates and persimmon in a small saucepan on a medium low heat. Bring to a simmer and cook for 10 -15 minutes, until the persimmon is soft and the dates have broken down and thickened the sauce. Remove the tea bags and set the sauce aside to cool.

Spread the 2 tbsp of soft dark brown sugar over the bottom of the cake tin, and arrange the persimmon slices on top. They should not overlap.

In a large bowl mix together the sugar and margarine until well combined. Add the date, tea and persimmon sauce and mix well, then add the yoghurt and mix again. It will look lumpy at this stage.

Sift together the flour, baking powder, xanthan gum and salt and then add to the bowl.

Mix until everything has come together to make a smooth batter.

Pour the batter carefully into the cake tin and smooth the top. Bake for 40 minutes, until the cake doesn’t wobble when you carefully shake it.

To make the tahini caramel, put the remaining white sugar in a heavy based saucepan on a low heat and cook until it melts and turns lovely deep brown. Don’t stir the sugar, but if it’s melting unevenly swirl it around the pan. Remove from the heat, add the tahini and stir quickly, then add the soy milk mixing all the time. It will bubble up! Mix until the sauce is smooth and glossy.

To serve, turn the cake out onto a decorative plate so that the persimmon slices are on the top, and drizzle with some of the sauce. Serve the remaining sauce in a jug to add as you please.


 

By A. and E.

4

vegan, gluten free party cake!

Since we both started eating plant based, we haven’t made any wedding cakes or celebration cakes as we didn’t have a gluten free vegan cake recipe we thought could hold up to all the decorations. But with the advent of Alex’s gorgeous cake recipe that we published a few weeks ago, we were all go again!

It was my nephews 1st birthday party today, and my sister and brother in law had asked if we’d make the cake. We were so happy to be asked!

Designing cakes is really one of our favourite things. So we made a parade cake, with Jimmy’ s (and our…) favourite characters and toys. We had a great time with sugarpaste making the animals!

We’re so pleased with how it came out, and it tasted great too!

No recipe this time, but we really wanted to share the photos!

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We also made some rather sophisticated black forest cupcakes for the adults as a counterpoint to the rainbow bright birthday cake, we’ll post photos of them tomorrow…

By E and A

2

Baked apricots with caraway and maple syrup

I picked up a pack of apricots cheaply at the supermarket a few days ago, as usual assuming that an idea of what to do with them would occur to me later…

They were just so pretty!

Breakfast at work is usually a mixture of gluten free muesli and soy yoghurt, made the night before so that the oats and dried fruit soften beautifully.

I thought it would be such a treat to have baked apricots to add to it this week!

The apricots were a bit sharp, so I drizzled them with a little maple syrup, and added caraway for spice.

They’d be lovely with a bit of soy or rice cream too…

Baked apricots with caraway and maple syrup

Baked apricots with caraway and maple syrup

Continue reading

3

Cherry jam tarts with walnut fennel praline

I had visitors yesterday, so thought it would be lovely to make something sweet to offer round, and jam tarts gave me the opportunity to make our lovely pastry recipe again…

And also, I got to make caramel, which I always think is terribly exciting, all that molten sugar and having to work quickly!

The cherry jam is tart and flavoursome and goes beautifully with the sweet nutty topping. I wasn’t sure how much pastry I’d need and made twice the amount I’ve given the recipe for below, so I also made some tarts with apple sauce from a jar (as you can see in the photo). These are good too, but I think the sharper cherry jam works much better with the praline.

Cherry jam tarts with walnut fennel praline (and apple tarts too!)

Cherry jam tarts with walnut fennel praline (and apple tarts too!)

makes 12

for the pastry

175 g gluten free flour, this time I used the marks and spencer one

25 g almond milk powder

a pinch of salt

100 g vegetable fat

2 tbsp cold water (I found that this flour blend needed a lot less water than the Doves farm one I’ve used before)

for the jam

175 g frozen cherries

50 g sugar

juice of half a lime

for the praline

85 g walnuts

85 g sugar

a small pinch of fennel powder

First get the jam cooking. Put the ingredients into a saucepan and bring to the boil. Simmer for around 25 minutes until the mixture is thick and coats the back of a spoon. Leave to cool.

Next make the pastry, mix the dry ingredients together in a large bowl and then cut the fat in, in little pieces. Rub the flour mixture and fat together until is resembles breadcrumbs. Mix the water in, a tablespoon at a time until you have a soft dough.

Now make the praline, this recipe will make more than you need but it seems a shame to just make a tiny bit of praline! And it keeps very well. Line a tray with baking paper. Heat the sugar in a heavy bottomed pan. Don’t stir it, but swirl it around the pan as it starts to melt. When it’s a rich golden colour, add the nuts and fennel, stir quickly and tip it out onto the lined tray, spreading out as best you can. When cool either bash into pieces or whizz it in a food processor if you want a finer powder.

Preheat the oven to 180 degrees c. You’ll need a 12 hole muffin tray.

Roll the pastry out to around 3 mm thick and cut out 12 6 cm rounds. Push each pastry circle gently into a hole in the muffin tray. Not squashed all the way to the bottom, or the tarts may be difficult to get out.

Put a teaspoonful of cherry jam into each pastry case, and then bake for around 15 minutes. The edges of the tarts should be golden.

Let the tarts cool in the tin, then carefully remove them, and top with praline.

By E.

1

Gluten free chocolate cake/flan case

Its a cold, wet, afternoon … again. I’m a bit weary, and feel like I’m fighting off a cold. So now is the time to reach for those great piles of vegetables we vegans are always consuming .. Isn’t it?  … Nope!

I want cake.

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This was a quick, thrown together recipe, that came out nicely and reminds me very much of the pre-made flan cases … Which has to be usable at a future point .. Also there’s no added fat in the batter so it is slightly healthier .. Maybe .. Until the toppings anyway!

I’m presently lacking a full sized oven, so am using a toaster oven which is handling every challenge I throw at it!

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So, what do I need

200 ml almond milk

2 heaped teaspoons chia seeds

200g gluten free plain flour

1.5 teaspoons of gluten free baking powder

30g Cocoa powder

75g light muscovado sugar

Pinch of salt

9 inch sandwich cake tin or flan tin.

Toppings to serve, I used raspberry jam and vegan whipped cream.

Pre-heat the oven to 180 degrees Celsius.

Start by soaking the chia seed in the almond milk.

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Weigh out and mix together the flour, cocoa, sugar, baking powder and salt .. As you can see from my picture you could sieve them, but a decent stir will fix any lumps.

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Add the almond milk/chia seed mix to the dry ingredients and mix well. It gives a fairly sloppy mixture.

Pour into your cake tin and bake at 180 Celsius for about 20 minutes.

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I then microwaved some raspberry jam and spread it over the top, before piling vegan whipped cream and grated chocolate on the top.

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It certainly beat the blues!

2

Chocolate and sultana cookies – gluten free and vegan

There have be been no posts for a while for one reason or another, but we’ve still been cooking and writing down recipes! Hopefully there’ll be much more regular updates from now on…

And what better way to get back into the swing of things than with a recipe for delicious cookies!

I’ve also made the cookies using vegan margarine rather than coconut oil, but this made the mixture much looser, and the cookies were softer. Bear in mind that if you choose to do this you may need to add more flour to get the dough to a stiff enough consistency.

Delicious warm cookies

Delicious warm cookies

175g gluten free flour, I used Dove’s Farm

50g gluten free oatmeal, I used Bob’s Red Mill

100g soft brown sugar

2tsp gluten free baking powder

75g coconut oil

50g soy milk

Pinch salt

25g chocolate chips (dairy free)

40 g sultanas

Preheat the oven to 160 degrees fan.

Place all the ingredients in a large bowl and mix until well combined.

Divide into 16 balls, and lay them out evenly on a tray lined with baking paper.

Press each ball down gently with a fork.

Bake for 20 minutes.

By E.