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

Almond-topped, spiced mince pies (gluten-free; dairy-free; vegan)

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My almond-topped mince pies. Image: Kathryn Hawkins

So here we are, almost at the end of another year, and what a year! I hope you are all well and staying safe at this time. For my final post of the year, I thought it was high time for some festive cheer, and settled on a seasonal treat that I find utterly delicious and hope you will too.

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Sugar and spice and all things nice. Image: Kathryn Hawkins

I love mince pies, and if you make your own pastry, they taste even better. I use readymade mincemeat but you can put your own spin on the recipe by using your own or just a selection of minced dried fruit – soak in some booze or fruit juice so that it stays juicy during cooking. I like to add a little mixed spice or pudding spice to the mincemeat to give it a really Christmassy flavour. This year I used some homemade chai masala – recipe here – which works very well. The topping is an old favourite of mine, almond frangipane, a rich, crumbly sponge flavoured with almond extract. Delicious 🙂

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Pastry snowflake decoration. Image: Kathryn Hawkins

The pastry trimmings can be used to make a finishing touch decoration for the pies if you like, and my recipe allows for extra pastry to do this. If you want to make sufficient pastry to make the cases only, reduce the recipe by one third, or for convenience, use 300g readymade shortcrust pastry (450g if you want to make the decorations on top).

The pies will keep in a sealed container for 3-4 days (if you can leave them alone!), and they freeze well too.

Makes: 12

Ingredients

For the pastry:

  • 75g white vegetable fat, softened
  • 60g dairy-free margarine, softened
  • 60g caster sugar
  • 260g gluten-free plain flour blend such as Dove’s Farm
  • 1/4 tsp xanthan gum (not essential but it does make the pastry easier to work with and slightly crisper)
  • 1/4 tsp salt
  • 1 tsp vanilla extract

For the filling and topping:

  • 200g vegan mincemeat
  • 1 tsp chai masala or mixed spice
  • 80g dairy-free margarine, softened
  • 80g caster sugar
  • 80g ground almonds
  • 15g gluten-free plain flour
  • 1/2 tsp almond extract
  • 15g ground linseeds
  • Icing sugar to dust
  1. First make the pastry. Beat together the fats until smooth and creamy, then whisk in the sugar until well blended. Add the remaining pastry ingredients and carefully stir everything together to make a crumbly mixture.
  2. Bring the crumble together with your hands and knead gently to make a smooth, firm ball of dough. Wrap and chill for at least 1 hour. This pastry doesn’t firm up very much but it is easier to handle if you do refrigerate it before rolling out.
  3. Lightly dust the work surface with more flour and roll out the pastry to a thickness of 1/2 cm – any thinner and the pastry tears easily. Cut out 12 x 8cm rounds, re-rolling the dough as necessary.
  4. Lightly grease a 12-cup jam tart tin (approx. 7cm x 2cm cups), and gently press a circle of pastry into each, remoulding if it cracks. Chill for 30 minutes whilst making the filling and topping.
  5. Gather up the trimmings if you want to make the decoration, and roll out to the same thickness as the pastry cases. Use a 7cm diameter snowflake or star cutter to stamp out 12 decorations. Arrange on a lined baking tray and chill for 30 minutes.
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Making the pastry, cases and decorations. Images: Kathryn Hawkins

6. Mix the mincemeat and spice together. In another bowl, mix the margarine, sugar, almonds, flour and almond extract together until well blended. Mix the linseeds with 45ml cold water and stand for 5-10 minutes until thickened, then mix into the almond mixture.

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Making the almond topping. Images: Kathryn Hawkins

7. Preheat the oven to 190°C, 170°C fan oven, gas 5. Divide the mincemeat between the pastry cases and top with the almond mixture. Smooth the topping to seal in the mincemeat and bake for about 40 minutes until lightly golden and firm to the touch. Bake the pastry decorations for about 15 minutes and leave to cool on the baking tray.

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Assembling the pies. Images: Kathryn Hawkins

8. Leave the pies to cool in the tins for 10 minutes, then carefully loosen them. Leave them for a further 10-15 minutes to firm up before removing from the tins and placing on a wire rack to cool. Just before serving, dust with icing sugar and top with a sugar dusted pastry decoration.

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Crumbly and fruit-filled with a hint of spice. Image: Kathryn Hawkins

Thank you for following my blog for another year and for all your lovely comments. I send you my best wishes for a happy, healthy and safe Christmas, and I look forward to returning to my blog in the new year.

Mixed root “stovies” (gluten-free; dairy-free; vegan)

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Root veg cooked Stovie-style. Image: Kathryn Hawkins

Hello everyone. I hope you are all well and keeping safe. It has turned cold here these past few days and I have hastened towards the kitchen. I’ve been cooking cosy, warming dishes to help keep the chills away.

Until I moved to Scotland, I had never heard of the dish called Stovies. Traditionally, it is made simply with potatoes which are cooked down to a melting tenderness in water or stock with some onion, sometimes with a little meat or bacon added for flavour, and then dotted with butter. The name derives from the French étouffée which means to stew in a closed pot. It is the perfect dish to serve if you’re out of doors, sitting around a bonfire; it is guaranteed to warm you up.

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Potatoes, turnip, onions and carrots for Stovies. Image: Kathryn Hawkins

I like to use a selection of root vegetables. My stovie-selection consists of onion to flavour, then carrots, yellow turnip (Swede) and potatoes, but parsnip, white turnip, sweet potatoes and celeriac will also work well as part of the mix. The secret to success is to make sure everything is cooked thoroughly so that means cooking denser roots like carrot and turnip first before adding the potatoes. Also, use a potato that will cook very soft – a variety with a floury cooked texture works best or one suited for mashing.

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Freshly cooked Stovies. Images: Kathryn Hawkins

For extra flavour, I like to add a bundle of herbs tied up in some muslin. Using the muslin bag means that the coarser leaves don’t spoil the overall soft texture of the vegetables. Chopped chilli, garlic and curry spices can also be added if you fancy turning up the heat or adding more intense flavours.

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Fresh herbs (sage, thyme, rosemary and bay) tied in muslin. Images: Kathryn Hawkins

With one eye on waste, I am including a quick recipe using the potato and carrot peelings. Just make sure you wash the vegetables well before you start preparing the veg. The peelings make a lovely sprinkle to eat with the cooked vegetables, as does crispy kale – my recipe here.

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Preparing the veg and keeping the peelings. Images: Kathryn Hawkins

Serves: 6

Ingredients

  • 3 tbsp vegetable oil
  • 2 onions, peeled and sliced
  • 500g yellow turnip (swede), peeled and diced
  • 300g carrots, peeled (peelings reserved) and diced
  • A few herbs tied in muslin (I used bay, rosemary, thyme and sage)
  • 450g main crop potatoes such as Maris Piper or King Edward, peeled (peelings reserved) and diced
  • Salt and freshly ground black pepper
  • 300ml vegetable stock
  • 1 tsp smoked paprika
  • Chopped parsley to sprinkle

1. Heat 2 tbsp oil in a large lidded saucepan or flame-proof casserole until hot. Add the onions, turnip and carrot, and cook, stirring, for 2-3 minutes to coat in the oil.

2. Add the herbs, reduce the heat to low, cover and gently cook the vegetables in their own steam for 30 minutes.

3. Stir in the potatoes, season well and pour over the stock. Bring to the boil, cover and simmer gently for 30 minutes. Remove the lid and continue to simmer for about 10 more minutes, or until everything is well cooked and tender. Discard the herb bag.

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Cooking the veg. Images: Kathryn Hawkins

4. While the roots are cooking, preheat the oven to 200°C, 180°C fan oven, gas 6. Mix the carrot and potato peelings together with the remaining oil, and spread out over a lined baking tray. Season and sprinkle with smoked paprika. Bake for 25-30 minutes until crisp and golden. Drain well.

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Making potato and carrot peel crisps. Images: Kathryn Hawkins

Serve the stovies sprinkled with chopped parsley and accompanied with the crispy peelings and baked kale crisps. If you have any stovies leftover, use in soup or mash, or as a topping for a vegetable pie.

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Stovies, ready to eat with kale chips and crispy root veg skins . Image: Kathryn Hawkins

That’s all from me this week. Not so far away from the end of the year now. My next post will be something a little more festive, so until then, keep warm, stay safe and take care 🙂

Late Autumn in the garden

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A blue-sky November day. Image: Kathryn Hawkins

Hello again. I’m back in the garden this week. It’s been a topsy-turvy few days of weather. We have had a lot of rain, a few strong winds, and plenty of grey, gloomy skies. However, there have been one to two blue-sky days, one of which was today, and as well as being a great opportunity to get outside and do some tidying up, I have been able to take all my pictures in the glorious November sunshine.

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Flaming yellow Acer before and after the fall. Images: Kathryn Hawkins

The two images above capture the essence of Autumn for me. One day you can admire the brilliant colours of a tree in leaf, and then the next day, following a heavy downpour, the leaves are washed to the ground and the paths and beds are covered in a rich golden carpet.

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Beech hedge in the Autumn sunshine. Images: Kathryn Hawkins

The beech hedge is more robust than the Japanese Maple, and is still fully clad although the golden leaves have dried and browned this week. I love this hedge. It is quite tall and thick and is alive with the sound of bird-song – many sparrows live in this hedge and at times their chitter-chatter tweeting is quite something to hear. You never feel alone in this part of the garden.

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Sunlit Cotoneaster. Image: Kathryn Hawkins

There are several Cotoneaster shrubs growing around the garden. This one hangs over the front drive-way. It is rather spindly compared to others that grow up against walls, and to be honest, I rarely notice it. In the sunshine the other day, the tiny leaves were glowing red, it really caught my eye.

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Late-flowering Hebe. Image: Kathryn Hawkins

Just the other side of the Cotoneaster, this pale lilac Hebe has come into flower for the second time this year, and in the back garden a lonely, and tired-looking Foxglove is still clinging on to a few of its precious pink flower heads.

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Fading Foxglove. Image: Kathryn Hawkins
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Last greenhouse tomatoes of the year. Images: Kathryn Hawkins

I’m feeling a bit sad this week as I have finally harvested all my tomatoes. The plants were slowly withering away in the greenhouse due to a lack of light and warmth at this time of year, and with the prospect of some very chilly weather in the offing, I decided to pick off all the fruit and bring the tomatoes indoors. I am hoping some will ripen off a bit more, but the majority will be going in chutney. The greenhouse is looking pretty bare today now that I have taken down most of the vines.

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November Chamomile flowers. Image: Kathryn Hawkins

It seems slightly unseasonal to me to have so many Chamomile flowers in bloom. The rockery in the back garden has four large plants, all with several daisy-like heads. They certainly make a cheery feature in this part of the garden now most of the other plants are dying back.

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A flurry of snowberries. Image: Kathryn Hawkins

Before I started writing this post, I looked back at images I have taken of the garden in previous Novembers and I came across a picture of a small cluster of snowberries taken a couple of years ago. The same plant is now covered in berries after being given a new lease of life earlier in the year. It was given a lot more space to develop when an old shrub was taken out. I’m so glad it has made the most of its new found freedom.

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Japanese Anemone hybrid “Loreley”. Image: Kathryn Hawkins

My final image this week is of another new pink Japanese Anemone which wasn’t in flower in time for last month’s piece. This one is called Loreley. It has gone from strength to strength since it was planted, and still has flower buds yet to open. I wonder how long it will keep flowering given that we are heading for winter.

That’s all from me this time. I hope you are all keeping well and staying safe as we head into the winter months. Until next time, my best wishes to you. See again you next time.

Spiced spinach tattie scones (gluten-free; dairy-free; vegan)

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Lightly spiced spinach and potato scones served with mango chutney. Images: Kathryn Hawkins

Hello everyone. I hope all is well with you this week. With tighter restrictions entering many of our lives for the foreseeable future, I have turned to another comforting recipe this week. I am revisiting a Scottish classic, and also the most popular recipe on my blog to date, the humble tattie (or potato) scone.

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Freshly cooked and ready to serve. Image: Kathryn Hawkins

You can read my original recipe here but this time I have given the basic ingredients a spicy twist, inspired by one of my favourite Indian dishes, Saag aloo.

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Classic combination, spinach and potatoes. Image: Kathryn Hawkins

I have grown a lot of potatoes this year. At the beginning of lockdown back in March, I struggled to find any seed potatoes to buy, and ended up with a variety called Nicola which has turned out to be a very tasty and very high-yielding potato. I planted mostly in pots and the old barrel below. I am storing the leftover crop in dry soil in the greenhouse for winter use.

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Freshly dug Nicola potatoes. Images: Kathryn Hawkins

The recipe is very simple, with just a few ingredients. I have a couple of tips for guaranteed success: use a dry-textured potato for good results and also drain and dry off the cooked spinach as much as possible to avoid soggy scones. When you cook the scones, only brush the pan with oil so that you give them a little colour without making them crispy.

I use a garam masala spice blend for a mild, fragrant spiciness, but try using your favourite curry powder if you prefer something more defined.

Makes: 8

Ingredients

  • 425g potatoes, peeled and chopped
  • Salt
  • 5 tsp vegetable oil
  • 1 medium onion, peeled and chopped
  • 1 garlic clove, peeled and crushed
  • 4 tsp garam masala
  • 300g baby spinach
  • 60g gluten-free plain flour blend
  • 1 tsp gluten-free baking powder

1. Put the potatoes in a saucepan with a pinch of salt. Cover with water, bring to the boil and cook for 7-10 minutes until completely tender. Drain well; leave to air dry, then push through a ricer to make smooth. Leave to cool.

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Boiled potatoes put through a ricer. Images: Kathryn Hawkins

2. Heat 1 tbsp oil in a small frying pan and gently fry the onion, garlic and spices for 2-3 minutes. Cover with a lid, reduce the heat and leave to cook gently in its own steam for about 15 minutes until very soft. Leave to cool.

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Cooking down the onion and spices. Images: Kathryn Hawkins

3. Rinse the spinach and pack into a saucepan whilst wet. Heat until steaming, then cover with a lid, reduce the heat, and cook for about 5 minutes until wilted. Drain well, pressing against the sides of the colander or strainer to remove as much excess water as possible. Leave to cool.

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Preparing the spinach. Images: Kathryn Hawkins

4. Once the spinach is cold, chop it up and then blot well with kitchen paper to remove any excess water that remains in the mix.

5. To make the dough, put the potatoes, onion and spinach in a bowl. Add the flour, baking powder and some salt. Mix together to form a ball, and roll out on a lightly floured work top to a thickness of about 1cm. Use an 8-9cm round cutter to make 8 scones, re-rolling the dough as necessary. Cover and chill until required.

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Making the scone dough. Images: Kathryn Hawkins

6. When you are ready to cook, brush a frying pan lightly with oil, heat until hot then cook the scones gently for about 3 minutes on each side until lightly golden. Drain and keep warm. If you want to store them, cool them on a wire rack, then cover and chill. They will keep for about 5 days in the fridge and also freeze well.

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Cooking spiced spinach tattie scones. Images: Kathryn Hawkins

To reheat, either give them a quick blast in the microwave for a few seconds, or gently toast on a dry frying pan for a a couple of minutes on each side.

They make a delicious accompaniment to a bowl of soup just as they are, or spread with butter or margarine and topped with mango chutney 🙂

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Buttered-up and ready to eat. Image: Kathryn Hawkins

That’s all from me this week. Until next time, take care and keep safe.

Bright October colours

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Acer Palmatum in Autumn splendor. Image: Kathryn Hawkins

Hello again. I hope you are keeping well. As I sit down to compile this week’s post, it is very wet and dull outside. In fact it has been raining just about all week and there is very little end in sight. During the very few brief dry spells, I have been outside to capture some of the bright colours that are on show in the garden at the moment. One positive thing about the low light levels is that natural colours do seem to stand out all the more.

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Maple leaf ground cover. Image: Kathryn Hawkins

The rain rather than the wind has driven many leaves from the trees this year. The colour of the Japanese maple is stunning – so many shades of pink, orange and red from just one tree.

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3 Nerines. Images: Kathryn Hawkins

In the rockery in the back garden, the foliage is mostly fading green or dying back now, but the Nerines are standing proud, bright and bold.

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Second flowering of Rosa Felicia. Images: Kathryn Hawkins

Just along the border from the Nerines, is my old faithful rose bush and true to form, it is in flower once again. The heads are heavy and drooping with the weight of rain drops but the perfume is just as sweet and fragrant.

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October Runners. Images: Kathryn Hawkins

In between the rockery and the rose are my runner bean plants. Still going strong and still providing me with beans. This latest basketful weighed just under 500g. We have had neither very cold weather nor strong winds so far this autumn and these factors seem to have given the beans an extended lease of life.

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Late Autumn raspberries. Images: Kathryn Hawkins

The Autumn raspberry canes are still fruiting well. Another wee basket picked ready for my morning granola.

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Anemones still flowering. Images: Kathryn Hawkins

The white Japanese anemones are still going strong, and now the garden has a new addition to the collection, this pink hybrid anemone called Pamina. Lots of pointed pink petals. I hope it does well in its new home.

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Hypericum Rose of Sharon. Images: Kathryn Hawkins

I gave the Rose of Sharon Hypericum a big “hair-cut” early last month. It had flowered very well but had become too large for the flower-bed. I am amazed to see that it is flowering again already.

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Saffron crocus. Images: Kathryn Hawkins

As you can see, it wasn’t raining when I captured these delicate little saffron crocus. To be honest, is was over a week ago when I took the pictures. Sadly, they haven’t survived the rain battering this week. I love the shadows of the saffron-scented stamens just visible through the petals.

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Second time around Borage. Image: Kathryn Hawkins

It’s been a very good year for Borage and I have had a continuous supply of bold star-shaped flowers since early summer. Long may they continue adding their vibrant splash of electric blue colour.

Already decorated for Christmas. Image: Kathryn Hawkins

I’m returning to the Japanese Maple for my last image. As I was capturing the leading image for my post, I noticed that the small conifer next to the tree was covered in red leaves giving it a rather festive look 🙂

That’s all from me this week. I will be back in the kitchen and recipe posting again soon. Until then, take care and keep safe 🙂

Toffee apple upside-down cake (gluten-free; dairy-free; vegan)

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Toffee apple upside-down cake. Image: Kathryn Hawkins

Hello again. How are you? All well I hope. It feels very autumnal now, and with the world seemingly facing a lot of uncertainty again, it feels the right time to publish a heart-warming slice of comfort with this week’s post.

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First main harvest of apples. Image: Kathryn Hawkins

I’ve been picking a few cooking apples here and there from the tree in the garden for about a month now. This week, I decided it was time to gather as many as I could reach. The baskets above contain about half the amount the tree has produced this year – I need to call in the cavalry to get the rest!

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Solo apple. Image: Kathryn Hawkins

To be honest, the apple variety Lord Derby isn’t the greatest tasting apple out there, but the apples cook very well and reatian their texture if you want them too, so are ideal for baking. They also require little sugar, and can be eaten raw – they are similar to a Granny Smith eating apple.

This week’s recipe is a combination of a cake batter used for sticky toffee pudding along with the delicious sauce – you can find a festive version of the classic comfort pudding by clicking here – baked in a tin lined with fruit as you would for an upside-down cake.

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Apples, cake and toffee sauce. Image: Kathryn Hawkins

I hope you enjoy the cake, it really is good, and it is just as delicious served hot as a pudding or cold as a slice to go with a cup of coffee 🙂

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Apple cake and apple leaves. Image: Kathryn Hawkins

Serves: 10

Ingredients

  • 225g pitted dates, chopped
  • 25g golden or corn syrup
  • 450g cooking apples
  • 1 lemon
  • 150ml sunflower oil
  • 150g soft light brown sugar
  • 300g gluten-free self raising flour blend (such as Doves Farm)
  • 1 tsp vanilla extract
  • 180ml dairy-free milk (I use oat milk)

For the sauce

  • 100g golden or corn syrup
  • 40g dairy-free margarine
  • 100g soft light brown sugar
  • 100ml single dairy-free cream (such as oat or soya)
  • 1/2 tsp vanilla extract

1. Put the dates in a saucepan with 225ml cold water, bring to the boil and simmer gently for 5-6 minutes until soft and thick. Remove from the heat and beat until smooth – use a stick blender to obtain a very smooth paste. Leave to cool completely. Transfer to a mixing bowl.

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Making date paste. Images: Kathryn Hawkins

2. Grease and line a 23cm round spring-clip cake tin and drizzle the syrup over the base. Put to one side.

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Apple cake tin preparation. Image: Kathryn Hawkins

3. Next prepare the apples. Core the apples and peel them thinly. Extract the juice from the lemon, cut the juiced lemon in quarters and place both in a bowl with cold water. Slice the apples thinly into rings and submerge in the water to help prevent discoloration.

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Apple preparation. Images: Kathryn Hawkins

4. Preheat the oven to 180°C, 160°C, gas 4. Mix the oil and sugar into the date paste. Stir in the flour, vanilla and milk to make a thick batter.

5. Drain and pat dry the apple slices on kitchen paper, and arrange sufficient slices to cover the base of the tin. Spoon over half the cake batter. Smooth and then use the remaining apple slices to make a layer on top.

6. Cover with the remaining cake batter, smooth the top and stand the tin on a baking tray. Bake for about 1 1/4 hours until risen and firm to the touch – test with a wooden skewer inserted into the centre to make sure the cake is thoroughly cooked. Leave too cool for 15 minutes before releasing from the tin and turning out on to a serving plate, upside-down.

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Making the apple cake. Images: Kathryn Hawkins

7. While the cake is cooking, make the sauce. Put the syrup, margarine and sugar in a small saucepan and heat gently, stirring, until the sugar dissolves and the margarine melts.

8. Raise the heat and bring to the boil. Stop stirring and simmer the mixture for 3-4 minutes until richly golden – take care not too over-boil as the mixture will soon over-caramelise and burn. Turn off the heat and gradually stir in the cream and vanilla. Stir until well blended and leave to cool. Serve hot or cold.

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How to make gluten-free and vegan toffee sauce. Images: Kathryn Hawkins

And that’s it, the cake is now ready to eat hot as a dessert with the warm sauce poured over, or let it go cold and drizzle over the sauce to serve.

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Inside the cake. Images: Kathryn Hawkins

All my best wishes to you for the days ahead. Take care and keep safe. I look forward to posting again in a few days time.

September reflections

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Acer leaves in the Autumn sunshine. Image: Kathryn Hawkins

Hello again. I hope you are keeping well. It’s been a busy month for me which has meant that I haven’t had much spare time to put a post together. Now as the season feels like it is shifting, I thought I would take a look back on what’s been happening out of doors this past month.

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A cascade of Autumn crocus. Image: Kathryn Hawkins

The garden is showing signs of Autumn now with leaves changing colour and a crop of pale lilac crocus appearing in a shady border. Earlier in the month I went to visit my family in Sussex. The weather was very warm and we spent most of our time together out of doors. On one walk, I was delighted to find some blackberries untouched in a hedgerow and was able to carry my precious cargo of black jewels all the way back home to Scotland to make into a compote with apples from my tree. Delicious.

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Wild hedgerow blackberries. Images: Kathryn Hawkins
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My apple tree laden with fruit. Images: Kathryn Hawkins
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First pickings. Image: Kathryn Hawkins

As you can see, it’s another good year for apples. I’ve only picked a few so far, but I think with the weather turning cooler this weekend and a predicted frost,, I will be picking the remainder in the next few days. I’ve also harvested a lot of potatoes, and put many more in storage. I’m feeling pleased with myself, after years of giving up on carrot growing, I’ve had a fair crop this year. The variety was called “Rainbow” and I had high hopes of a multi-coloured batch, but in the end, they were mostly yellow. No matter, they tasted fresh and spicy, just as homegrown carrots should do.

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Freshly dug carrots. Images: Kathryn Hawkins
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Box of tatties. Image: Kathryn Hawkins

I’m over-run with tomatoes too. Dehydration for the small ones, and tomato sauce for the larger ones. I haven’t started my annual chutney making ritual, but once the apples are picked, the preserving with begin.

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First major haul of tomatoes. Images: Kathryn Hawkins

Back in the garden, my lovely scented rose bush is back in flower, and the orange lupin is flowering for the third time – I didn’t know this was possible! Another splash of orange in the garden comes from the carnations I planted a few years ago. Back in the spring, I moved them to a different spot, in a raised bed by a sunny wall, and they are thriving.

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Second-time-around rose, and lupin in third flowering. Images: Kathryn Hawkins
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September carnations. Image: Kathryn Hawkins

I’m pretty sure that I mentioned the Japanese anemones in my last garden post back in August. They have gone from strength to strength, and I think this year is the first time they have grown en masse to create such an impactful display under the apple tree.

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Japanese Anemones under apple tree. Image: Kathryn Hawkins

That’s me for another month. I wish you well over the coming days, and look forward to sharing a recipe with you next time around. Until then, my best wishes to you.