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Peanut brownie biscuits

When I was growing up these crunchy, chocolatey, peanutty, biscuits were my sister’s favourite. She used to make them with our mum and they always filled the house with a gorgeous smell as they were cooking!

With her birthday approaching, I thought it would be lovely to make a batch as part of her present, but our mum is on holiday so I couldn’t check the recipe out with her… Internet to the rescue!

I was completely convinced that if I put peanut brownie biscuits into a search engine, it would return nothing but recipes for the cake style brownie… but how wrong I was! It turns out that they’re a well loved New Zealand biscuit, and the basic recipe seemed pretty standard. But, it used eggs, butter, and of course wheat flour. So I set about experimenting… the first batch was basically cake, due I think, to a heavy hand with the soy milk. They were also too pale and not chocolatey enough!

Maybe our family recipe came from somewhere else (to be honest, I’d assumed it was a be-ro one)…

The second batch had the correct colour and flavour, but I have it on good authority that one could be held in tea for an entire minute, with no discernible disintegration (thank you Alex…).

The third batch though, is pretty good if I do say so myself! I favour a crunchy biscuit, so I’m very fond of them, but I haven’t tried dipping them in tea yet…

Peanut brownie biscuits - yum!

Peanut brownie biscuits – yum!

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Butter Pie – a vegan version

Like the parched peas that I posted the recipe for here, butter pie is a very very
Lancashire dish. My grandad was a baker so I grew up with them,
but I do understand why it seems a strange idea!
It’s not as odd as it sounds though, being a potato and onion pie, flavoured with
butter.
When Alex and I started eating vegan it was one of the first things on our list to
rework, it’s taken us a while to get a recipe we’re happy with though!
Of course there’s no butter in our version, but to recreate the richness (after
much thought!) we’ve come up with this lovely recipe in which the
potatoes are cooked using the confit method, but at a slightly higher temperature.
The potatoes are submerged in oil with aromatics and then baked, the resulting
texture is, well, buttery!
The onions though, must be boiled….
We made tiny versions of these as canapes recently, and they went down an
absolute storm!

Butter Pie - a vegan version

Butter Pie – a vegan version


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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.

6

Ackee and pickled samphire with herby lentils and rice

When I was a kid growing up in Preston there was an amazing Caribbean cafe close to where my dad worked, and it was there that I was first introduced to the delights of rice and peas, and ackee, and dumplings, oh the dumplings… there was a stall selling them at the northern vegan fair in Blackpool last year so I had to buy one and it was as good as I remembered! The cafe closed (and became a polish one where I discovered perogi and zebra cake, but that’s a whole other post…) and for ages I only really ate that type of food once a year at the Preston Caribbean carnival.

But becoming vegan and the amount of recipes around which use ackee so creatively reminded me what I was missing! The last time I cooked with it I made a veganised saltfish and ackee recipe, which uses nori for the saltfish flavour which I thought was a stroke of genius!

This time however, I wanted to continue with the sea vegetable theme, and try it with samphire instead.

The ackee itself has a mild, very slightly bitter flavour and a wonderful silky texture. And it looks just like scrambled eggs, hence the classic vegan way of eating it, as a breakfast scramble!

I’ve paired the ackee and samphire with a delicious, savoury mixture of rice, lentils, leeks and tomatoes with plenty of fresh herbs stirred through at the end. It’s incredibly moreish, and a great treat as unfortunately ackee can be rather expensive… I got mine on offer from tesco a little while ago, but it was still £3 a tin!

ackee and pickled samphire with herby lentils and rice

ackee and pickled samphire with herby lentils and rice

makes 2 servings

for the herby lentils and rice

100 g brown basmati rice, rinsed

75 g red lentils, rinsed

1 large leek, chopped

2 tomatoes, chopped

1 clove garlic, chopped

250 ml vegetable stock, hot

1/2 tbsp oil

1 tbsp coriander, chopped

1 tbsp mint, chopped

1 tbsp dill, chopped

salt and pepper

for the pickled samphire

50 g samphire

1/4 tsp celery seed

1/4 tsp ground fennel seed

2 tbsp white balsamic vinegar

and the ackee…

1 540 g tin of ackee, drained (340 g when drained)

To make the herby lentils and rice, heat the oil in a saucepan on a medium low heat and cook the leeks partially covered, stirring often for 10 minutes, until softened. Add the rice, lentils and garlic and cook for a further 3 or so minutes stirring all the time, until the rice begins to look translucent. Add the stock and tomatoes, give it all mix and turn the heat to low. Cover the pan and leave to cook for 40 minutes. Turn the heat off and leave the pan covered for 5 minutes. Stir through the herbs, and salt and pepper to taste.

For the pickled samphire, simply mix all the ingredients together in a bowl. Set aside for 20 minutes.

To serve, stir the drained ackee gently through the rice mixture, and top with the pickled samphire.

By E.

6

Caramelised onion and courgette pasties

Alex and I have been wondering for a while whether our gluten free and vegan pastry recipe could be adapted to make flaky pastry. The sort where you freeze the fat and grate it into the flour to give a well, flakier pastry, which is perfect for pasties and rolls.

It turns out that it could! It’s not as flaky as I remember the traditional version to be, but it’s definitely lighter than shortcrust, and much better suited to a pastie.

It is a little more difficult to work with though, I rolled it out between sheets of floured baking paper which just about kept it under control… The filling is inspired by an oregano plant I bought today, it’s a lovely combination and would be yummy with pasta too.

Caramelised onion and courgette pasties, with oregano, capers and garlic

Caramelised onion and courgette pasties, with oregano, capers and garlic

makes 6 pasties

For the pastry

210 g gluten free flour, plus extra for rolling

30 g almond milk powder

120 g vegetable fat, frozen

small pinch of salt

55 ml water

For the filling

1 large onion, sliced

1 courgette, in small dice

1 clove garlic, sliced

1 tbsp oil

1 tsp capers

1 tbsp fresh oregano

salt and pepper

First make the pastry. Put the flour, almond milk powder and salt in a large bowl. Grate the frozen vegetable fat into the bowl and toss it around to coat in flour. Add the water and mix quickly to form a dough. Pop it into a plastic bag or wrap in cling film and leave in the fridge for a while to give the fat time to set again. Half an hour at least.

Meanwhile, make the filling. Heat the oil in a saucepan on a medium heat and saute the onions with a pinch of salt for around 10 minutes stirring often until softened and golden brown. If the onions start to catch and burn, take them off the heat, add a splash of water, stir well and continue cooking. Add the garlic and the courgette and cook for a further 5 minutes, still stirring regularly. The courgette should still be firm, we don’t want mushy.

Stir through the oregano and capers, and some black pepper. Leave to cool. Don’t put hot filling into cold pastry! It will end in soggy disaster.

Preheat the oven to 200 degrees c. Roll the pastry out to around 4 mm and cut it into 6 rectangles. Spoon 1/6 of the filling onto half of each rectangle. Don’t overfill the pasties, you may have a little mixture left but that’s okay, it’s the cooks perk! Fold the other half of the rectangle over the filling and either crimp or squash to seal. Bake for 20 minutes until golden.

I forgot to photograph the filling before I put the pasties together... but there was a spoonful left!

I forgot to photograph the filling before I put the pasties together… but there was a spoonful left!

By E.

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February’s The Vegan Kind box review

Hidden goodies

In this post I mentioned that I get a couple of vegan treat boxes delivered every month on a subscription. They are a great way of discovering new products, and ideas, and providing treats for the month ahead.

if you’ve read my other review then you’ve probably spotted that there is rather more in the Flowbox offering, that box is more expensive than this one, I think they both offer reasonable value for money.

Goodies Revealed!

There are a couple of items I’m particularly looking forward to trying in this box … See if you can guess from the picture … Got It? That’s right! The Mallow Chocolate dips and the organic banana powder! I didn’t realise it was possible to powder a banana, but it gives a fascinating way of getting the flavour into dishes without a bananas distinct texture. The other item .. It’s thick chocolate sauce and marshmallows.. I really can’t say more than that!

Let’s not give the other items short shrift though.

There is a pack of Eat Real Sour cream and chives Quinoa Chips, I’ve tried these before and they make for a tasty snack.

Next up is a Fit Bites Maca Mantra which is a mix of raisins, dates, prunes, almonds, figs, coconut, sunflower seeds and Macca powder. If you haven’t come across macca powder, it’s meant to have assorted health benefits, I found it similar to caffeine but without the associated headaches!

Last but not least there is a pot of White Rabbit Toning Eye Cream, this box regularly includes a beauty product and they are usually fun to try.

It’s a good mix again, and I’ll have to think what I can use the banana powder on!

by A

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Raspberry, Blackberry and Basil Jam Slice

Raspberry, Blackberry and Basil Jam Slice

Raspberry, Blackberry and Basil Jam Slice

The jam slice was a staple of bakeries in north west England while we were growing up, and indeed they are still to be found in old fashioned bakers. Jam (the red flavour) is sandwiched between layers of a sort of cross between biscuit and pastry, and the top sprinkled with sugar. They were sold in large rectangles, and, not involving any of the fancy decorations such as cream or icing, were also very cheap!

We did a little research online, and the vast majority of the jam slice recipes available involve a coconut topping. Although that sounds lovely, it the simple pastry – jam – pastry treat that we wanted when we fancied a jam slice.

We decided to try using our gluten free pastry recipe, and as blackberries and raspberries were cheap at the supermarket, a homemade jam seemed like a great idea too! Of course you could use jam from a jar if you didn’t want to make your own. We added basil to provide a herby balancing note to the sweet, tangy jam.

The jam slices turned out beautifully, and are a delicious update of a nostalgic favourite.

Makes 6 pieces

For the jam – 

150 g raspberries

150 g blackberries

100 g sugar

4 large basil leaves, shredded

peel from half a lemon, in strips

juice of half a lemon

For the pastry –

350g gluten free plain white flour mix plus extra for dusting, we used Dove’ s Farm

50g almond milk powder, we used Ecomil

200g vegetable fat, we used Trex

Pinch of salt

6 tbsp water

1 tsp caster sugar

First make the jam. Put the fruit, sugar, lemon juice and lemon peel in a saucepan over a medium heat. Make a note of how many pieces of lemon peel there are, as you will need to remove them all later. Bring to a simmer and cook for 15 minutes until the fruit has collapsed and released its juice. To test if it’s done, drip a little jam onto a saucer of cold water, it will hold together rather than spreading out into the water. Leave to cool a little. Remove the lemon peel, and then stir through the basil.

Starting the jam

Starting the jam

Make the pastry according to the method here.

Preheat the oven to fan 160 c, and line a tray with baking paper.

Divide the pastry into two, and roll each piece into a 18 cm round, about 5 mm thick.

Transfer one pastry round carefully to the tray, and spread the jam all over it, right to the edges. Carefully top with the other pastry round, prick the top all over with a fork and sprinkle with the sugar.

Bake for 30 minutes until golden around the edges.

Allow to cool (this is very difficult…), and cut into wedges to serve.

Lovely and golden around the edges

Lovely and golden around the edges

By A. and E.

2

Herby mushroom polenta pizza

A and I both have a couple of days off work (hooray!). So to celebrate, we thought we’d make an indulgent, delicious dish that just happens to be gluten free and vegan. It takes a little time to make, as the polenta does need to be baked and cooled before the topping goes on, the second baking is what turns it into a crispy edged base that can be sliced and picked up to eat. But it’s really very easy! And the waiting time… well it would be rude not to have a glass of wine…

Herby mushroom polenta pizza

Herby mushroom polenta pizza

makes 4 servings

For the polenta

175 g polenta, the quick cook sort

300 ml soy milk

300 ml cold water

1/4 tsp caraway seeds

1/2 tsp mustard powder

1/2 tsp stock powder

pinch of salt

For the mushrooms

400 g mushrooms, sliced

1/2 tsp dried oregano

1/4 tsp dried thyme

5 g basil, shredded (1 large sprig)

pinch of salt

splash of balsamic vinegar

1/2 tbsp oil

2 tbsp oil for the baking dish.

4 tbsp grated vegan cheese (optional), we used this one

Preheat the oven to fan 180 c.

Oil a 20 cm x 20 cm baking dish, I used a silicon one.

Put all of the polenta ingredients in a large saucepan on a medium heat. Whisk to combine. Cook, stirring infrequently at first, and then as the mixture gets hotter graduate to stirring constantly. It should take about 10 minutes to reach a good, thick (but still pourable), consistency. I find that starting the mixture off from cold means it’s much less likely to get lumpy, and it takes less stirring too.

Pour the polenta mixture into the oiled baking dish, and bake for around twenty minutes. This is to help the bottom to brown nicely, and start to crisp. Cool for ten minutes to set.

While the polenta is baking, make the mushroom topping. Heat the oil in a pan, and saute the mushrooms, with the dried herbs, for 7 – 10 minutes until the liquid has run out, and then reduced. Add the salt, balsamic vinegar and basil.

Top the cooled polenta with the mushrooms, sprinkle on the vegan cheese (if using), bake at fan 180 c for 20 minutes until heated through. Cut into wedges, and serve.

A delicious wedge of pizza

A delicious wedge of pizza

By E.

3

Review – February’s vegan Flowbox

It’s always a fun day when a box full of vegan treats turns up on the doorstep! I subscribe to two of them, Flowbox and The Vegan Kind. They tend to turn up within a couple of days of each other which makes for an exciting couple of days but does mean I have to try hard not to treat binge!

IMG_0381

its worth mentioning the presentation, the contents are wrapped in green tissue paper and tied with a bow, it feels like opening a surprise present every month!

Mystery present!

So.. What’s in the box…

All the things!

First out is a pack of yummy looking Nothing But beetroot and parsnip crisps, they are freeze dried slices, and look like they’ll be perfect for a work snack.

Next up was a Veggie-Go’s Sweet Potato Pie slice, and looking at the ingredients it is! Just apples, sweet potato and spices .. Off it goes to the work snack pile

A jar of Date & Sesame Spread by Savvy was next, it’s a combination I haven’t tried before and am really looking forward to it.

Then two teabags from Teatonics, one is Mind Awakening Yerba mate, the other Laid Back Botsnicals which is green rooibos, I’m a big fan of herbal teas so they also go on the work pile!

A Vego bar! If you’ve tried one before then you’ll know what a treat they are, if you haven’t then it’s a lovely creamy chocolate bar stuffed full of hazelnuts.

Something else I haven’t seen before Stur Liquid Water Enhancer, it looks to be a very concentrated cordial and is green apple flavour, I’ll try it later today.

Next up a Bar Fruit and Oat bar with Cranberrys, this style of bar always makes for a tasty treat… Work pile!

next is a big box containing 5 sachets of The Chia Co’s Oats +Chia in mixed berry flavour, I’m always a fan of anything porridge-like and use chia quite a lot in cooking so I’m really looking forward to trying these.

Last, but certainly not least, is a pack of The Raw Chocolate Co’s Organic Raw Mulberries. I’ve never seen sun dried mulberries before! The blurb on the back describes the flavour as sweet and tasty as toffee, that sounds like a win to me!

This months selection is mainly sweet, and is a good selection of products I’ve not seen before and should keep me in treats for a good while.

by A.