Cakes, Celebration Dishes, Gluten-Free, Vegan, Vegan Treats

Simnel Cake

Vegan and Gluten-Free Deliciousness….

According to Wikipedia, Simnel Cake is a fruit cake with two layers of marzipan, one in the middle and one on top.  It’s traditionally made at Easter time.  No-one seems to be quite sure what ‘simnel’ means.  Simnel cakes have been known since medieval times.  Different regions had their own version of Simnel Cake, and here’s a vegan and gluten-free one to add to the list.

I’ve flavoured mine with orange, cinnamon and ginger, and I’ve added grated carrot to help keep it moist and fragrant.

I bought ready-made, vegan, white marzipan, but feel free to make your own almond paste.

I hope you enjoy.

§

SIMNEL CAKE

 12-16 slices

Ingredients:   Continue reading “Simnel Cake”

Mediterranean Dishes, Preserving, Salads, Vegan, Vegan Treats

Preserving Lemons and Limes. Moroccan Style.

There’s just a hint of spring in the air here in the UK, and my thoughts are already turning to fresh salads and light ‘spring-like’ food!

There are wonderful citrus fruit in the shops at the moment, and this recipe brings all the intensity of citrus flavours to the fore, while in the meantime gentling the sharpness that can sometimes be too overpowering.

Preserving lemons takes about a month, and then, stored in the refrigerator, they will last for months… which is great, because you don’t need much to bring a zing to any dish.

Typically preserved lemons are used in Moroccan dishes such as Tagine, and Couscous, but with just a little imagination I think there are many possibilities to introduce this gorgeous flavour : salads, pasta,  curries, marinades for tofu and tempeh, side dishes such as french beans, asparagus or carrots, as well as sauces, dressings and even desserts. As well as Mediterranean  dishes such as hummus or olive tapenade.

lemony lemonyness

§

PRESERVED LEMONS

I litre jar : 8-10 lemons (and limes)

Cook’ notes: 

  • 1)The favoured choice of lemon for preserving is Meyer lemon, but other types of lemon work fine.  It’s important they’re unwaxed, as you will be eating the rind …. 
  • 2) I used Himalayan salt … which is the only salt I use in the kitchen these days.
  • The best jar to use is almost certainly a glass kilner jar with a good tight seal.  Don’t use metallic lids as they will react with the lemon juice.  

Ingredients:   Continue reading “Preserving Lemons and Limes. Moroccan Style.”

Desserts, Vegan, Vegan Treats

Tarte au Chocolat

Here’s a lovely little treat……for Valentine.💕

Tbh, this kind of thing is way out of my comfort zone; (give me a bag of beans and a cabbage any day!), as you can see from my pastry skills (or lack of),  but I was inexplicably moved the other day to buy a little set of heart-shaped baking tins, and I definitely had chocolate on my mind…..   maybe it seemed to me that the world needs some love these days, as there appears to be a lot of hate around, and we all can all make space for the occasional chocolate heart…no?! 💚

This tart can be made as one big one, or 4 little ones.

I used ready-made vegan shortcrust pastry, but of course you can use your favourite home-made pastry, and, with a little care, a gluten-free version.

The filling is light and velvety rich and hopelessly delicious.

I hope you enjoy!

§

TARTE AU CHOCOLAT

Serves 4

Ingredients:   Continue reading “Tarte au Chocolat”

Celebration Dishes, Desserts, Vegan, Vegan Cheese, Vegan Treats

Cranachan (made with Crowdie – the old-fashioned way)

 

A creamy Scottish dessert; the perfect end to a vegan Burns’ Night supper.

In my brief series of Scottish delights here on the blog, Cranachan is another a simple dish, using thoroughly Scottish ingredients: oatmeal, raspberries and whisky.

In order to veganise it, I’ve diverged from tradition by using coconut cream and maple syrup (instead of double cream and honey).

It comes out just as light and tastes just as good.

Originally, Crowdie (a simple curd cheese) was used in this dessert, and I’ve noticed that a lot of Cranachan recipes bypass this, but it’s so easy to do, I thought I’d go back to the very beginning and make some, because it’s actually very easy.

Crowdie is made by curdling milk and separating the curds from the whey.  Incidentally, you end up with a lovely soft cheese that resembles Ricotta and can be flavoured with salt, pepper and herbs such as chives or basil.

The whey can be used in soups and stews, so there’s no waste!

PS. Cranachan recipe with or without Crowdie follows below!

§

CROWDIE

makes between 220 – 275 gms.

Cook’s Note: a jam thermometer is useful here – but not absolutely essential.

Ingredients: Continue reading “Cranachan (made with Crowdie – the old-fashioned way)”

Breakfast, Cakes, Gluten-Free, Vegan, Vegan Treats

Spiced Banana Breakfast Loaf

Vegan, gluten-free, sugar free and very delicious!

Firstly, I would like to wish everyone a very happy new year.  Here in the UK the skies are decidedly grey and the air is damp and chill.  And everyone’s got the January blues.  No better reasons are needed to make a cake.  A wholesome comforting moreish sort of cake.

There were a few over ripe bananas sitting forlornly in the fruit bowl, so I thought: this is the moment to make a cake that’s good for breakfast.

Cake for breakfast: way to go 🙂 💕

It’s not too sweet, it’s very moist, it’s full of good things, and is fab. just plain with coffee, or vegan-buttered…or if you want to go sweeter then you can’t go wrong with oodles of strawberry jam.

For sweetener I’ve used a new ingredient (for me) : coconut sugar.  It’s not as sweet as sugar and it has a flavour to it that’s slightly musty.  For that reason, I wouldn’t use it as my absolute go-to sweetener, but in this cake it blends very well with the spices and the banana.  It’s now available in some UK supermarkets, which is why I’ve included it today.

I’ve also included another ingredient that makes gluten-free cooking easier: self-raising gluten-free flour.  Again, it’s available in some supermarkets and it certainly helped to give this loaf a nice rise.

Enjoy! 💚

§

SPICED BANANA BREAKFAST LOAF

Ingredients: Continue reading “Spiced Banana Breakfast Loaf”

Breakfast, Desserts, Gluten-Free, Growing things, Vegan, Vegan Treats

Strawberry + Pimm’s Fool

It’s been Wimbledon fortnight.  And now it’s over I’m in a brief period of mourning.  Being a tennis addict, this always happens.  I should be used to it by now.  But I can’t help it 😦  I  put as much aside as I can … all forms of cleaning, hoovering, shopping, and frankly, cooking.  It’s just so hard.  Sigh.  🙂

I call it ‘the beans on toast + daily avocado syndrome’.  I get it every single year.

So I haven’t blogged much…done much… been out much.  I’ve just watched tennis.

With a notable exception.

I made a strawberry fool….and I added Pimm’s No. 1 🙂

What better way to while away an afternoon, than watching my all-time favourite tennis player eventually demolish his extremely resilient opponent in a tense five-setter …… …..than with strawberries blended in an alcoholic coconut cream.

(The boozy bit in this recipe is entirely optional … but I’ll get to that later).

§

Federer finally begins to inch ahead in the quarter finals! 

§

It’s the last shout for my strawberry patch …and we’ve had strawberry tart, strawberry jam, strawberry smoothies and just plain strawberries………and I mourn them when they’re over too.  In fact, is life worth living without strawberries and Wimbledon?  I have to wonder….

But nature moves on, the raspberries and blueberries are coming next…and there’s tennis at the Olympics I believe …!

So.  Back to the fool:

I used Pimm’s No. 1 and maple syrup for this…which combined, give it a lovely, tawny, dusky flavour, but you could go another way by using a light sweetener (white sugar or light agave) and fresh mint and lemon juice… details below.

§

STRAWBERRY FOOL

FOR 6

Ingredients: Continue reading “Strawberry + Pimm’s Fool”

Preserving, Vegan, Vegan Treats

Fresh Strawberry Jam. (Reduced Sugar and Freezable).

My strawberry patch is in full swing.  We just picked 2 kg. in one go….and there’s more to come.  So it must be jamming time!

Today I’m sharing a recipe for a strawberry jam that uses only half the usual amount of sugar.  It will keep in the fridge for 2-3 weeks, or you can freeze it…..it will be fine for 3 months if not longer…. so, I include tips on how to freeze jam successfully.

This way you get real fresh strawberryness, a lot less sugar, and by leaving the strawberries largely whole, you can savour them in all their juiciness when strawberry season is long over.    And it really is delicious….

Making jam reminds me of my grandparents, who had a huge plum tree in the garden.  My grand-dad would get up a very high ladder, which invariably looked terrifyingly precarious, and collect all the plums, shaking some of them down as well, while I ran around underneath the tree picking up the ones that fell  …and then delivering them all to my nanna in the kitchen, who would set about the making of jam.  The whole house would fill with the fragrance of plum…it would last for days.  The next day rows of potted sealed jam would sit in the larder, gleaming purple.

Home-made jam is still just the best.  Worth the faff. Strawberries, for all their fabulousness, don’t last long, and jam still has to be probably the best way to preserve them. I think anyway.

And finally, before I get to the business in hand, a word for the WI (Women’s Institute), for which jam is just one trademark.  ‘Jam and Jerusalem!’

(Jerusalem is the anthem of the WI. btw) ….

To quote Wikipedia:

‘The British WI movement was formed in 1915 in Llanfairpwllgwyngyll, Anglesey Wales.  It had two clear aims: to revitalise rural communities and to encourage women to become more involved in producing food during the First World War. Since then the organisation’s aims have broadened and it is now the largest women’s voluntary organisation in the UK. The organisation celebrated its 95th anniversary in 2010 and currently has approximately 208,000 members in 7,000 WIs.

Amongst WI aims and activities are providing women with educational opportunities and the chance to build new skills, enabling them to take part in a wide variety of activities, campaigning on issues that matter to them and their communities.’

§

As I mentioned, I picked 2 kgs. of strawberries, which I graded into best, pretty good, and not much good.  Only put decent ones in the jam….

I ended up with 1.5 kg. strawberries for jam.  As this maybe an unreasonable amount of strawberries for most people, I have halved the quantities, so the recipe below should make 2 pots of jam.  One for the fridge and one for the freezer?

Hope you enjoy.

So here’s how to make the best strawberry jam you will ever taste! 🙂

 

§

STRAWBERRY JAM

reduced-sugar freezer jam

enough for 2 pots…(350-400gm. jars)

Ingredients: Continue reading “Fresh Strawberry Jam. (Reduced Sugar and Freezable).”

Bread, Breakfast, Vegan, Vegan Treats

Chinese Steamed Buns, filled with Sweet Adzuki Bean Paste.

A  recipe for a sweet comforting breakfast.  These buns are definitely best eaten straight away, while still warm …but I have discovered that they revive when lightly toasted.  🙂

A simple enough recipe, a bit of faff involved …particularly if you make your own adzuki bean paste (which is worth it I think…).

You can buy adzuki bean paste in a good oriental store…. but this recipe for Yokan includes the ingredients and method for adzuki bean paste if you want to try it out.

(click image for link)

There are many variations, plain sweet buns….or you could try using jam or a fruit compote instead of adzuki bean paste…. or else savoury buns (leaving out the sugar in the dough recipe and adding more salt), stuffed with something like a mushroom tapenade or crumbled tofu flavoured with miso…

But the adzuki bean paste has a lovely distinctive taste with a gentle sweetness….

§

CHINESE STEAMED BUNS FILLED WITH SWEET ADZUKI BEAN PASTE

makes 8-10

Ingredients: Continue reading “Chinese Steamed Buns, filled with Sweet Adzuki Bean Paste.”

Cakes, Vegan, Vegan Treats

Dorset Apple Cake.

A lovely moist fruity cake, close to my heart.  The sort of cake my grandmother used to make…and with origins not so very far from where I live… the apple orchards of England.

For a vegan version… I just replaced the eggs with ground soaked chia seeds + a little extra baking powder/soda …and I also added cinnamon and nutmeg (not sure I can cook anything without spices 🙂 )   …plus a few raisins.

I think I just need cake in the light of this chilly UK spring… that’s my excuse anyway…   ……hailstones clattering at my window as I write…

It’s delicious served warm, and equally good cold, possibly with a cup of cinnamon tea?  It’s great for me, as I need to get to the allotment, finish building the polytunnnel as soon as… and get planting… and that’s the sort of activity that requires cake!  So I need cake for all manner of reasons….  there are a few more…I forget… hey ho…

…so here’s how it goes…

DORSET APPLE CAKE

Should be 10-12 servings….?

Ingredients: Continue reading “Dorset Apple Cake.”

Cakes, Vegan, Vegan Treats

Lebanese Sfouf 2 (and a cup of green tea)

It’s my hundredth post …so I thought I’d bake a cake 🙂 …and what better… than another sfouf …sweetened this time with molasses and date syrup…. light and moist …and not overly sweet …with complex flavours: anise…molasses…dates…turmeric … cocoa  powder… roasted almonds and sesame…

§

SFOUF

A Lebanese semolina cake.

Sweetened with Molasses and Date Syrup

Ingredients: Continue reading “Lebanese Sfouf 2 (and a cup of green tea)”