Soy-braised cauliflower (gluten-free; dairy-free; vegan)

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Soy-braised cauliflower. Image: Kathryn Hawkins

Hello again. Here we are half-way through another month, and here I am not knowing where the time has gone since my last post. I hope you had a good Easter holiday. We had some glorious weather over the Easter weekend, but subsequently, we have had a return to winter with sub-zero temperatures at night, along with snow and hail showers. The fruit blossom had just started to open, and then along came Mr Jack Frost. I think I have managed to save the most delicate blooms, but sadly the rhododendrons got scorched.

With the weather being a little on the chilly side, I have been back in the kitchen cooking up some more heart-warming food. This week I’d like to share with you a very simple cauliflower dish, but it’s a tasty one and it uses up just about every part that this magnificent vegetable has to offer.

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The mighty cauliflower. Image: Kathryn Hawkins

You can adapt the recipe to suit how much cauliflower you have to cook. I had used half of this one in another recipe where just the curds were required, and was left with the other half plus all the leaves and stalks. There is plenty of room for adding your own flavourings to my simple mix of soy sauce, oil and maple syrup, so if you fancy something more spicy or herby, feel free to make your own additions.

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Reviving cauliflower leaves. Images: Kathryn Hawkins

Sometimes when you buy a cauliflower, the outer leaves can look a bit sad and wilted, but I have found that if you soak them in a bowl of cold water, it is quite possible to revive them and make them fresh enough to cook. Discard anything that is too damaged or brown, but the other leaves should perk up quite nicely after a good bath. After soaking, simply drain them and shake off the excess water.

Here’s the rest of the recipe.

Serves: 2 to 4 as a main or side

Ingredients

  • 1 medium cauliflower (approx. 300g curds plus leaves)
  • 1 onion
  • 2 garlic cloves
  • 1 tbsp gluten-free dark soy sauce
  • 1 tbsp vegetable oil
  • 1 tbsp maple syrup
  • 2 tsp sesame oil
  • Fresh coriander to serve

1. Remove the leaves from the cauliflower. Slice out the stalks and put the leafy bits to one side along with the curds. Cut the stalks into small pieces and place in a roasting tin. Peel and slice the onion, and peel and chop the garlic. Mix into the stalks.

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Preparing cauliflower leaves and stalks ready for braising. Images: Kathryn Hawkins

2. Mix the soy sauce, oil and syrup together and toss into the vegetables. Cover with foil and put in a cold oven. Set the thermostat to 200°C, 180°C fan oven, gas 6 and cook for 35 minutes.

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Cooking cauliflower stalks with soy and maple sauces. Images: Kathryn Hawkins

3. While the stalks are cooking, prepare the curds. Break them into even-sized florets, and cut any larger ones in half. Discard the stump. After 35 minutes cooking time, mix the leaves into the stalk mixture along with 3 tbsp water. Sit the curds on top and brush lightly with sesame oil. Cover the tin with foil again and bake for a further 25 minutes. Remove the foil and bake for 10 minutes, until tender.

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Adding the curds and leaves. Images: Kathryn Hawkins
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Soy-braised cauliflower curds, leaves and stalks. Image: Kathryn Hawkins

For an extra finishing touch and fresh flavour, sprinkle the cauliflower with fresh coriander.

I hope you have a good few days until my next post. As always, take care and keep safe 🙂

Chocolate cake with an unlikely ingredient (gluten-free; dairy-free; vegan)

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One serious chocolate cake. Image: Kathryn Hawkins

Happy Easter! I hope the sun is shining where you are this holiday weekend. I had intended to post this feature a little ahead of the weekend but time has run away with me this week. Actually, to be completely honest, I was ready to post it yesterday until I realised what the date was, and given the unusual ingredient, I thought that my recipe might not be taken seriously. So, here we are at the end of the week, and I’m ready to reveal all 🙂

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Easter on a plate. Image: Kathryn Hawkins

This is one of the easiest chocolate cake batter recipes you will come across, so even if you don’t have the time to make the chocolate ganache and other finishing touches, do keep the cake batter recipe for trying at a later date with your own icing and decorations. What makes this cake batter a bit alternative is the addition of plain vegan mayonnaise. But, it’s not that weird an addition when you think about it, mayonnaise is just an amalgam of fat and liquid which are 2 of the main ingredients in a cake batter.

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The unlikely cake ingredient. Image: Kathryn Hawkins

However, I must emphasise the word “plain”. Please do check the ingredient list for mustard and/or garlic or anything else highly flavoured i.e. choose a mayonnaise with the least amount of flavouring possible. Taste the mayonnaise before you add it to the other ingredients, just to make sure. If you’re not vegan, a plain egg-based mayonnaise will work as well. The same goes for anyone who is not gluten-free, you can use ordinary plain white wheat flour.

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A very chocolaty slice. Image: Kathryn Hawkins

Because it’s Easter and I love marzipan, I have added an additional layer of chocolate marzipan before the ganache gets poured over, and I used some more to make the decorations. If you don’t like marzipan just pour the ganache directly over the cake, and decorate with readymade chocolate decorations. Or you add cocoa powder to ready-to-roll (fondant) white icing in the same way as in the recipe below, and use this to make flowers and eggs instead.

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Chocolate marzipan eggs. Image: Kathryn Hawkins

The cake is deliciously rich, moist and flavoursome. It freezes well if you have any left. Once cut, it is best stored in the fridge or at a cool room temperature for up to 5 days. I hope you enjoy it.

Serves: 10-12

Ingredients

  • 140g gluten free plain flour blend
  • 65g cocoa powder plus extra for dusting
  • 17g gluten-free baking powder
  • ¼ tsp xanthan gum (optional but it does help hold the crumb together)
  • 65g ground almonds
  • 175g soft light brown sugar
  • 190g plain vegan mayonnaise
  • 2 tsp vanilla extract
  • 300g marzipan
  • 2 tbsp smooth apricot jam
  • 250g dairy free dark chocolate (I use 54% cocoa chocolate but use darker if preferred)
  • 125g plant-based block margarine

1. Grease and line a deep 20cm round tin. Put the flour, 50g cocoa, baking powder, xanthan gum and almonds in a bowl and mix together until well blended. Stir in the sugar, and crush any lumps.

2. Make a well in the centre, and add 175ml cold water and the mayonnaise, then beat everything together until smooth and thoroughly blended. Spoon into the tin, smooth the top and put the tin on a baking tray.

3. Bake for about 1hr to 1hr 10 minutes until risen and firm to the touch – test the centre with a skewer, if it comes out clean, the cake is cooked. Leave for 10 minutes before turning on to a wire rack to cool completely. The cake may sink slightly in the middle. When the cake is cold, turn it upside down and peel away the lining paper.

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Chocolate cake preparation. Images: Kathryn Hawkins

4. While the cake is cooling, make the marzipan. Knead the marzipan a few times to soften it. Flatten slightly then add 1tsp of the remaining cocoa powder. Fold the marzipan over the cocoa and keep kneading until the cocoa is distributed evenly in the marzipan. Repeat the process, adding the cocoa gradually, until it is used up.

5. Cut off a 75g piece and put to one side. Lightly dust the work top with more cocoa powder and roll out the remaining marzipan to fit the top of the cake. I use the tin base as a template to cut out a neat circle.

6. Brush the cake with apricot jam and sit the marzipan circle on top. Any marzipan trimmings can be added to the reserved piece and used to make decorations.

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Chocolate marzipan preparation. Images: Kathryn Hawkins

7. For the ganache, break up the chocolate and place in a saucepan with the margarine and 50ml water. Heat gently, stirring, until melted together. Remove from the heat, stir well, then leave to cool for about 20-30 minutes. You want the mixture to thicken sufficiently so that it doesn’t run straight off the cake when you pour it over.

8. Once thickened, sit the cake and wire rack over a tray or board. Slowly pour the ganache over the top of the cake from the middle, in a thin stream. If you want a completely smooth finish, continue pouring so that the ganache floods down the sides of the cake to coat them. Alternatively, pour and spread for a more textured appearance. Any ganache that sets on the tray underneath can be scooped up and remelted.

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Chocolate ganache preparation. Images: Kathryn Hawkins

Once the cake is covered, the ganache will set quite firmly if chilled, then you can prise the cake from the rack. If you have a cool kitchen, leave the cake to set naturally; the ganache will be slightly softer and it will be easier to remove it from the rack. Make the decorations while the cake is setting and then all you have to do is decorate the cake, serve it up and take in all the praise 🙂

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Covering the cake. Image: Kathryn Hawkins

Have a good Easter break and see you again soon.

March blues and blossoms

Hello again everyone. Here we are almost at the end of another month. There has been a big transformation in the garden since my last out-of-doors update at the beginning of the month. We had a lovely spell of warm, sunny weather last week and as a consequence there are flowers and plants in bloom everywhere. This time of year certainly lifts the spirits as everything comes to life with such vibrancy and splendor.

The beds, paths and borders are once again covered in a blue carpet of tiny Chionodoxa. I did a bit of reading on the species and their common name is Glory of the Snow. We had a lot of the white stuff lying in February so I am wondering whether this has had something to do with the fact that there are so many this year.

Whilst the Chionodoxa have done very well this year, I have lost a lot of Muscari (grape hyacinth). No idea why. This is the only patch left in the garden now. I will try to remember to plant more in the Autumn.

This is the last clump of crocus for another year. The bees were very busy making the most of the pollen-rich stamens before the petals curl up completely.

And now it’s time for my annual Hellebore fest. Just a couple of images this time. The reddish-burgundy varieties are looking exceptionally dramatic and bold this year. I couldn’t resist capturing them again.

From the bold and dynamic to the tiny and delicate, this little wood anemone appears in a crack on the stone steps leading up to the top garden every year. It blooms for a very few days and then disappears without trace.

More delicate petals, this time in the shadiest part of the garden, where the primroses grow. There are two new plants to add to the mix this year. This seems to be a good spot for the other primroses to multiply so hopefully the new plants will thrive in the same way.

The pink “candy-floss” rhododendron is just going over now and beginning to lose petals, but it has put on a good show this year and has had no frost to nip the blossoms.

My final image this week is set against a glorious blue-sky canvas from last week. The bell-shaped flowers of the Pieris are a sight to behold on a clear and sunny day as they sway gently in the breeze.

In a few days it will be Easter, so I am back in the kitchen again for my next post. Until then, enjoy the spring flowers and sunshine (if you have it), and see you again soon. Take care and best wishes 🙂

One Savoy cabbage, three recipes (gluten-free; dairy-free; vegan)

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Savoy cabbage. Images: Kathryn Hawkins

Hello again. I hope you are keeping well. Spring has sprung here, all be it in stops and starts. It is certainly looking and feeling a lot brighter as the days begin to draw out. I thought I’d reflect the main colour of the season in my choice of post this week. I am a huge fan of all green vegetables, especially cabbage, and this week’s recipe post is based around one of the grandest cabbages, the Savoy.

Last year I was fortunate enough to write recipes for a cookery book aimed at reducing food waste, and ever since then I have sharpened up my act in the kitchen and am trying to come up new ways to use up all the ingredients I prepare. This week, I have 3 recipes for you, showing how you can use up one whole cabbage in different ways and waste very little.

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Chilli and sesame baked cabbage. Image: Kathryn Hawkins

First up is a recipe that uses the bulk of the cabbage, and is my favourite of the 3. I’m always looking for an excuse to cook this one. The dish works well as a meal on it’s own with noodles and a sprinkling of roasted peanuts, or serve it up as a side dish to accompany a roast or other vegetables.

Chilli and sesame baked cabbage

Serves: 2-4

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Chilli and sesame marinade for baked cabbage. Images: Kathryn Hawkins

First make the sauce. Mix together 50ml gluten-free sweet chilli sauce with 2tbsp gluten-free light soy sauce, 2tsp sesame oil, 1tbsp sunflower oil and a finely chopped and peeled garlic clove.

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Preparing chilli and sesame baked cabbage. Images: Kathryn Hawkins

Preheat the oven to 200°C, 180°C fan oven, gas 6. Take 1 medium to large Savoy cabbage, strip off and reserve the darker outer, looser leaves (about 5 or 6), then cut the remaining cabbage ball into 8 equal wedges. Trim away any damaged stem from the stump end, and arrange the wedges snuggly in a roasting tin or baking dish. Spoon over the chilli and sesame sauce, cover with foil and bake for 20 minutes. Remove the foil and continue to bake for a further 15 minutes until tender. Serve sprinkled with freshly chopped red chilli and black or toasted sesame seeds.

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Freshly baked cabbage wedges. Images: Kathryn Hawkins

My second recipe uses the reserved outer leaves from the recipe preparation above. Again, I have been influenced by Asian flavours, this time using Chinese five spice in the seasoning.

Crispy five spice cabbage

Serves: 2

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Crispy five spice cabbage. Image: Kathryn Hawkins

Slice either side of the cabbage leaf stems and remove the stalks – keep them for the next recipe. Finely shred the leaves. Bring a saucepan of water to the boil and blanch the cabbage for 1 minute to soften slightly. Drain and cool under cold running water; shake well to remove the excess water, and blot dry using kitchen paper. You can keep the cabbage prepared like this for 24 hours in the fridge if you need to. Make sure the cabbage is thoroughly dry before deep-frying to keep the oil from spitting as much as possible.

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Preparing cabbage for deep frying. Images: Kathryn Hawkins

For the cabbage seasoning, mix together 1tsp caster sugar, 1tsp smoked or plain salt flakes, ½tsp Chinese five spice powder and ¼-½tsp dried chilli flakes.

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Sweet and chilli salt mix. Images: Kathryn Hawkins

When you are ready to cook the cabbage, heat vegetable oil for deep frying in a large saucepan to 160°C and deep fry the cabbage in batches (handfuls) for 2-3 minutes until crispy. Drain and keep warm while cooking the other batches.

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Deep frying Savoy cabbage. Images: Kathryn Hawkins

Serve the cabbage as soon after cooking as possible in order to enjoy crisp and sprinkle with the prepared five spice sugar and salt.

And so to the third recipe. This is a way to use up the odds and ends from the cabbage that I confess to having thrown away or composted in the past. Discard any part of the vegetable that is damaged or very tough, everything else can be eaten as part of this vegetable dish. I call this Leftover cabbage braise. You can eat it as a side dish, or tossed into pasta, or use it as a base for a soup or vegetable sauce. You can also add any cooked leftover cabbage to the mix for extra bulk, flavour and thriftiness.

Leftover cabbage braise

Serves: 2

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Cumin cabbage braise. Image: Kathryn Hawkins

Finely chop the reserved cabbage stalks and leftovers along with 1 celery stalk and 1 medium leek. Heat 1tbsp vegetable oil in a frying pan and stir fry the vegetables for 2-3 minutes. Add ½tsp ground cumin and season with salt and pepper. Cover with a lid, reduce the heat and cook the vegetables very gently in their own steam for about 15 minutes until tender.

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Leftover cabbage braise preparation. Images: Kathryn Hawkins

Serve sprinkled with freshly chopped coriander or parsley.

That’s me for another week. I hope you have a good few days. Until my next post, as always, take care and keep safe 🙂

Spring is in the air

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Early spring sunshine. Image: Kathryn Hawkins

Hello again. What a difference a couple of weeks has made to the weather here in central Scotland. February started off with snow and ice, and more followed. The temperatures plummeted. But as the month drew to a close, the skies cleared, the sun came out and at last the spring flowers have started to bloom.

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Icy windows in early February. Images: Kathryn Hawkins
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Mid February snowfall. Image: Kathryn Hawkins

This past week, the air temperature has increased by several degrees and there have been several “blue-sky” days. Great news for the spring flowers, the warmth and sunshine has brought a few into flower at long last. Looking back over past Februarys, I think the cold spell this year has put the garden back at least a couple of weeks. The snowdrops and Hellebores in particular seem late to open up this year.

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Scottish snowdrops. Images: Kathryn Hawkins
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The first of the Hellebores. Images: Kathryn Hawkins

In the sunshine, the crocuses are opening up and attracting bees which is good to see, and in the shady borders, there are primroses, one of my favourite spring flowers.

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Yellow crocus and primroses. Images: Kathryn Hawkins

The pink Rhododendron is gradually opening up. I love the colour of this variety, the blooms look like tufts of candyfloss.

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Pink Rhododendron. Image: Kathryn Hawkins

I was given 3 Hyacinth bulbs by a gardener friends for Christmas and as I type this post, I can smell their perfume wafting around the house. They are are tallest, most flowery Hyacinths I have ever seen, and the colours in the petals ranges from deep, vibrant blue, through to lilac with hints of pink. The perfume is intensely spicy and fragrant.

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Delft blue Hyacinths. Images: Kathryn Hawkins

To round off my post this week, another indoor image I captured at the weekend when the sun was shining into the conservatory. The rays hit one of my hanging crystals just at the right point and cast a rainbow on the wall. A very cheery sight.

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Spring sunshine rainbow. Image: Kathryn Hawkins

Until next time, I hope you are able to get outdoors and enjoy some spring sunshine and the very special flowers around at this time of year. Take care and keep safe 🙂

Crumpet-style pancakes with peanut filling and caramel coconut sauce (gluten-free; dairy-free; vegan)

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Wedges of pancakes topped with banana, coconut and caramel sauce. Image: Kathryn Hawkins

Hello again. I hope you are well. It’s nearly Shrove Tuesday or Pancake Day if you prefer. I often make pancakes, and at this time of year there is another excuse to make some more. I decided to venture into new territory this time, and have combined a plain pancake batter with a yeasted tea-time favourite, the crumpet. Very easy to make, you just need to get organised and make the batter up the day before so that the yeast can work away overnight in the fridge. I wish I could have come up with a more witty name for them but neither “pan-pet” nor “crump-cake” really did it for me 🙂

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Crumpet-pancake wedges. Image: Kathryn Hawkins

I used a chopped salted peanut and sugar mix to fill the pancake, but you can add whatever you fancy. Chopped chocolate and coconut would work well, or even small berry fruits and a little jam. I have also included a recipe for a caramel coconut sauce which you may want to try. Otherwise a chocolate or fruit sauce would be an equally delicious choice to serve with your pancake.

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Chopped salted roast peanuts and sugar. Image: Kathryn Hawkins

Time for the recipe. Just remember that you need to make the batter the day before you want to serve the pancakes.

Makes: 4 wedges

Ingredients

  • 125g gluten-free self raising flour
  • ½ tsp xanthan gum (I add this to give a more chewy texture; the pancake will be softer without it)
  • 1 tsp fast-action dried yeast (This is the yeast that requires no activation and is added to the dry ingredients before liquid is added.
  • 4 tbsp caster sugar
  • 250ml dairy-free milk (I use oat milk)
  • 1 flax egg (1 tbsp ground flax seeds mixed with 3 tbsp cold water)
  • 1 tbsp vegetable oil plus extra for frying
  • 75g chopped salted roasted peanuts + extra to serve

For the caramel coconut sauce:

  • 50g golden syrup
  • 50g light brown sugar
  • 20g dairy-free margarine
  • 90ml coconut milk (If you don’t want the coconut flavour, use a dairy-free pouring cream instead)
  • ½ tsp salt or 1 tsp vanilla extract

1. Sift the flour and xanthan gum into a bowl. Stir in the yeast and 2 tbsp sugar. Make a well in the centre and gradually blend in the milk, flax egg and 1 tbsp oil to make smooth, thick batter. Cover with film and put in the fridge overnight.

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Making the batter. Images: Kathryn Hawkins

2. The next day, remove the batter from the fridge and let it stand at room temperature for about an hour or until bubbles form on the surface.

3. Brush a 25cm base diameter frying pan lightly with a little oil and heat until hot. Stir the batter and then pour it into the hot pan. Reduce the heat to medium/low, spread the batter to the edge of the pan and a little up the sides, and cook gently for 6-7 minutes until bubbles appear and the top begins to set.

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Cooking the batter. Images: Kathryn Hawkins

4. Mix the peanuts with the remaining sugar and sprinkle over one half of the batter. Cover with a lid and cook for a further 5 minutes until the pancake is completely set and the bottom is crisp and richly golden.

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Filling and final cooking. Images: Kathryn Hawkins

5. Carefully flip the plain side of the pancake over the peanuts and slide on to a board. Slice into 4 wedges and serve while still warm with your chosen toppings and sauces. I served mine with sliced banana, toasted coconut flakes and extra chopped peanuts.

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Folded and ready to serve. Image: Kathryn Hawkins

If you fancy making your own caramel coconut sauce to go with the pancake. Put all the ingredients into a small saucepan. Heat gently, stirring, until everything has melted together, then raise the heat and simmer for 4-5 minutes until thick and slightly caramelised. Leave to cool. The sauce will thicken as it cools. Serve hot or cold, flavoured with salt or vanilla.

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Making caramel coconut sauce. Images: Kathryn Hawkins
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Salty-sweet, nutty and delicious. Image: Kathryn Hawkins

I hope you have a good few days ahead, and enjoy making and eating pancakes. Until then, take care and keep safe.

Winter whites

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Snow-covered apple tree. Image: Kathryn Hawkins

Greetings from snowy Scotland. I hope you are keeping well and warm. The weather hasn’t changed since my last post. Snow has been lying on the ground for a while and there have been intermittent snowy showers almost every day. Fortunately it’s not lying very deep and right now it is raining.

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Winter 2021, snowy garden. Image: Kathryn Hawkins

The garden is quiet at this time of year and having a bit of a rest, but I have found a few signs of life. I’ve been taking photos for the past couple of weeks but nothing has really changed. I was hoping that the snowdrops would have opened out by now but the petals are still clamped closed.

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Snowdrops still in bud. Images: Kathryn Hawkins

Usually the Cotoneaster hedge at the front of the house is untouched by the birds. It’s bright orange-red berries offer some colour when there is nothing much else around. This year the hedge has been stripped by pigeons. I did find a smaller plant that still has its berries. Perhaps it is too awkward for the birds to get to.

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Two Cotoneasters. Images: Kathryn Hawkins

Just round the corner from the now barren hedge is the white Hydrangea bush that flowered so abundantly last summer and autumn. I always leave the faded blooms on the plant until the weather warms up. This is believed to help preserve the new leaf buds. The dried blooms have caught a light dusting of snow which makes them look quite pretty.

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Snow-covered faded Hydrangea blooms. Images: Kathryn Hawkins

The Hellebores seem to be taking forever to show this year. I can see the flower buds forming at the bases of the plants but only one plant has produced stems so far. It’s been in bud for a couple of weeks now. I think it’s only going to be tempted into bloom if the weather warms up by several degrees 🙂

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My first Hellebore of 2021. Image: Kathryn Hawkins

Just a brief post from me this week. I’m heading into the kitchen again at the weekend, so there will be a recipe post from me next time. Until then, stay well and have a good few days.

Clootie dumpling (gluten-free; dairy-free; vegan)

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Clootie dumpling. Image: Kathryn Hawkins

Hello again. I hope you are keeping well and safe, and if you are in a cooler part of the world right now, I hope it’s not too cold at the moment. It’s certainly been chilly here in central Scotland. As I type, the garden is very snow-laden and there is not much sign of it melting for the time being.

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Snowy January 2021. Images: Kathryn Hawkins

I am, therefore, still feeling the need for comfort food. My recipe post this week is a traditional Scottish pudding that definitely falls into the aforementioned category. This coming Monday marks the annual celebration of Burns Night on the calendar, when the birth of Scotland’s national poet, Robert (Rabbie) Burns, is remembered. Usually a chance to meet up with friends and family and enjoy a dram of whisky or two, this year will inevitably be a much quieter affair.

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The serving of the pudding. Image: Kathryn Hawkins

The recipe gets its name from the way this pudding is cooked. The fruity, oaty mixture is wrapped in a floured cloth or cloot and boiled. The perfect dumpling should have a firm texture on the outside with a soft, fruity and mildly spiced interior, so when the pudding has been boiled, it is popped in the oven to dry out for a few minutes and thus a shiny coating or skin forms on the outside.

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Clootie dumpling with custard and a wee dram on the side. Image: Kathryn Hawkins

Serve the dumpling with custard and enjoy it hot with a wee nip of whisky or ginger wine to wash it down. Delicious. Here’s the recipe if you fancy giving it a go.

Serves: 6

Ingredients

  • 125g gluten-free self raising flour (such as Doves Farm) + extra for dusting
  • 75g vegetable suet
  • 50g oatmeal (do check that this is certified gluten-free if you are Coeliac)
  • 50g dark soft brown sugar
  • ¾ tsp ground ginger
  • ½ tsp ground cinnamon
  • Pinch of grated nutmeg
  • ½ tsp salt
  • 125g mixed dried fruit (currants, sultanas and raisins)
  • 1 tbsp treacle
  • 1 tbsp ground flax seed mixed with 45ml cold water (flax egg)
  • 90ml dairy-free milk (I used oat milk)

1. First prepare the cloth. You’ll need a large square of cheesecloth or muslin for this – or you could use a clean tea towel. My cloth is 42cm square. Bring a saucepan of water to the boil and scald the cloth in the water for a few seconds. Drain well – I use tongs and a colander to help with this – and when cool enough to handle, wring out the excess water.

2. Lay the damp cloth flat on a tray or directly on the work surface and lightly dust all over with flour – about 25g will be sufficient. Use a sieve to keep the flour evenly sprinkled in order to achieve a smooth finish on the dumpling. Cut a length of string to tie it up, and put to one side along with the prepared cloth.

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Preparing the cloth or cloot. Images: Kathryn Hawkins

3. Sift the flour into a bowl and add the suet, oatmeal, sugar, spices and salt, and mix together. Stir in the fruit and treacle, and then bind everything together with the flax egg and milk to make a softish batter mix.

4. Spoon the mixture on to the centre of the cloth. Draw up the sides and tie together securely with the string. Don’t tie the cloth too tightly around the mixture, keep it baggy to allow the dumpling to expand during cooking.

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Preparing and assembling the dumpling. Images: Kathryn Hawkins

5. Place an upturned saucer or trivet in the bottom of a saucepan – choose a pan that neatly fits the saucer or trivet so that the dumpling doesn’t move around too much during cooking. Sit the dumpling on top and fill the pan with boiling water to come about halfway up the sides of the dumpling. Bring to the boil, then cover with a tight fitting lid and simmer gently for 2 horrs. You may need to top up the water during cooking.

6. Towards the end of the cooking time, half fill a bowl with cold water, and preheat the oven to 180°C, 160°C fan oven, gas 4. When the dumpling is cooked, carefully lift it out and dip in the cold water for 10 seconds – this helps you to remove the cloth more cleanly.

7. Drain the dumpling in a colander and open out the cloth. Put a heatproof dish over the bowl and carefully flip the dumpling on to the dish. Gently peel away the cloth, keeping the outer edge intact, and bake for 15 minutes to dry off. Serve the dumpling as soon as possible after cooking, and accompany with custard. You can reheat any leftovers in the microwave, or leave to cool and then wrap and freeze.

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Cooking the dumpling. Images: Kathryn Hawkins
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Clootie dumpling close-up. Image: Kathryn Hawkins

That’s me for another week. Until my next post, enjoy Burns Night if you are celebrating. Take care and keep safe 🙂

Oat and seed squares (gluten-free; dairy-free, vegan)

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Oaty, seedy and packed full of flavour. Image: Kathryn Hawkins

Welcome to my first post of 2021. I hope you are all keeping well. Like so many, I have been doing quite a lot of baking over the past few months. I find it comforting and relaxing, as well as being rewarded with something delicious to eat at the end. This week I would like to share a favourite savoury bake with you. It’s my sugar-free version of a flapjack recipe I posted a few months ago – you can find that original recipe by clicking here. This version is also packed full of seeds and oats; it is wholesome as well as incredibly tasty. Good as a snack on its own or as an accompaniment to a bowl of soup.

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Crumbly and delicious. Image: Kathryn Hawkins

In a traditional flapjack recipe, the sugar and syrup help hold the mixture together by caramelising during baking; when the mixture cools the consistency of the bake becomes firm as the sugars set. My savoury version is much crumblier underneath but has a nice crunchy top. I bound the ingredients together using nut butter (I used peanut, but any nut butter will work) and flax egg.

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Making flax egg. Images: Kathryn Hawkins

The combination of seeds and oats you use is up to personal taste. I used pumpkin, sunflower and sesame seeds, along with jumbo oats and regular porridge oats. Other combinations including chopped nuts and oatmeal will also work. Toast seeds and nuts lightly before adding to the mixture for extra flavour.

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Oats and seeds. Image: Kathryn Hawkins

And finally, the extra flavourings. You could add vegan or dairy-based grated cheese to the recipe to achieve a tangy flavour, but I opted for cooked leek (or use spring onion or softly cooked onion or shallot) and yeast flakes which give the bake that extra “umami” flavour. If you don’t have yeast flakes, you could use some yeast extract to taste. For a sweet and savoury bake, replace the leek with grated carrot and add a handful of sultanas or raisins.

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Yeast flakes. Image: Kathryn Hawkins

On with the recipe. There’s a little bit of prep to do before you put the mixture together ready for baking, but once that’s done, it’s all very straightforward.

Makes: 16 squares

Ingredients

  • 125g mixed seeds
  • 150g dairy-free margarine
  • 75g nut butter
  • 1 large leek, trimmed and shredded
  • 2 tbsp ground flax seeds
  • 100g jumbo oats
  • 100g porridge oats
  • 50g gluten-free plain flour
  • 5 tbsp yeast flakes
  • 1 tsp salt (if you use yeast extract, you probably won’t need to add salt)
  • Toasted seeds to sprinkle, optional

1. Heat a small frying pan until hot. Add the seeds and cook, stirring, for 1-2 minutes until starting to toast or lightly brown. Remove from the heat, turn on to a place and leave to cool. Put 125g margarine in a saucepan with the nut butter and heat gently, stirring, until melted and smooth. Leave to cool.

2. Melt the remaining margarine in a frying pan and and gently cook the leek, stirring, for 3-4 minutes until softened but not browned. Drain and leave to cool.

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Getting organised before baking. Images: Kathryn Hawkins

3. Preheat the oven to 200°C, 180°C fan oven, gas 6. Line a 21cm square cake tin with baking parchment. Mix the flax seeds with 90ml cold water and set aside to thicken for 5 minutes.

4. Put the oats, flour, salt and seeds in a bowl. Add the leek and yeast flakes and mix together. Make a well in the centre and add the melted nut butter mixture. Mix everything together then add the flax egg and stir well until thoroughly combined.

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Assembling the oat and seed mixture. Images: Kathryn Hawkins

5. Spread evenly in the prepared tin and smooth the top. Stand the tin on a baking tray and cook for about 1 hour until golden and crunchy – cover the top with foil if the mixture begins to brown too quickly. Leave to cool for 30 minutes, then remove from the tin and cool on a wire rack.

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Before and after baking. Images: Kathryn Hawkins

6. When cool, transfer to a board, and cut into 16 squares using a sharp knife. Store in a cool place, in a sealed container for 4-5 days, or freeze. For extra crunch, sprinkle with toasted seeds to serve.

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Out of the tin and cut into squares. Image: Kathryn Hawkins
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Savoury oat squares with seeds and leeks. Image: Kathryn Hawkins

I hope you enjoy the recipe. I’ll be back posting in a couple of weeks or so, until then, keep well and stay safe 🙂

End of December garden

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First snowfall of Winter. Image: Kathryn Hawkins

Hello everyone. I hope you are well and have enjoyed whatever the festive season brought your way. Like so many, I had a quiet one at home, unable to travel to see my family. Hogmanay and New Year celebrations are also cancelled. There has been plenty of time to reflect on what has happened this year, and also to think about new projects for the year ahead.

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Three glorious morning views. Images: Kathryn Hawkins

We have been treated to some bright, crisp days here in central Scotland this year end, with some spectacular sunrises, and the first snow of the winter falling a couple of days after Christmas.

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Snow-covered seat. Image: Kathryn Hawkins

It seems like a long time ago since I was able to take a rest on my favourite seat and enjoy the peace, quiet and colours of a spring and summer garden, but even now there are some signs of new growth to gladden the soul. I took these images on Boxing Day of a primrose and one of my rhubarb plants. The poor things must have had a bit of a shock waking up the next day to a covering of snow.

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New shoots. Images: Kathryn Hawkins

Back in September, once the cucumbers had ceased fruiting, I cleared some space in one of the greenhouse beds and planted 6 seed potatoes. It was an experiment to see if I could harvest fresh new potatoes for Christmas. I’m delighted with the results. All 6 plants produced, and I was able to enjoy freshly dug Maris Peer potatoes over Christmas, with a second harvest for the new year. At the same time, I sowed some carrot seeds, but these are much slower to grow, and I am beginning to doubt that they will ever root properly, but you never know. I will report back if they do develop to an edible size.

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Christmas new potatoes. Images: Kathryn Hawkins
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Late planted greenhouse carrots. Images: Kathryn Hawkins

There were lots of berries in the garden over Autumn and early Winter this year, but by now, most of them have been eaten by the birds. However, our feathered friends never seems to dine out on Cotoneaster or Skimmia berries, so I am grateful to be left with these festive colours to admire.

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Festive berries. Images: Kathryn Hawkins

Like so many, I am looking forward to a fresh start in a brand new year. I am ever hopeful that we will be able to return to some semblance of normality in the not too distant future. Until then, thank you for following my blog for another year, and I send you my very best wishes for the year ahead. Stay safe and healthy, and a Happy New Year to you all 🙂

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Early flowering Rhododendron. Image: Kathryn Hawkins