Burns Night 2023 – Clootie dumpling truffles (gluten-free; dairy-free; vegan)

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Burns night treats. Image: Kathryn Hawkins

It’s that time of year again when the Scottish nation gathers together to celebrate the birth of the poet Robert ‘Rabbie’ Burns. The celebration comes exactly one month after Christmas Day and it is a great way to help beat the January blues.

Over the years on my blog, I have posted several recipes which are traditionally served at this time of the year. Proper comfort food, guaranteed to warm you up on a cold day. This year, my recipe is very simple and combines a traditional Scottish pudding with a favourite sweet chocolate treat.

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Homemade clootie dumpling. Images: Kathryn Hawkins

Last year I posted a recipe for a homemade clootie dumpling which you can find here Clootie dumpling (gluten-free; dairy-free; vegan). My recipe this week uses this traditional Scottish pudding as a base. You can use a light fruit cake mixed with a little oatmeal instead if you prefer.

I flavoured my truffles with chopped stem ginger and ginger wine but ground spices and ginger syrup or orange juice will work fine as alternatives. The truffle mixture is simply wrapped in small rounds of marzipan or use a thin layer of ready-to-roll icing if you prefer.

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Clootie truffles and ginger wine. Image: Kathryn Hawkins

So here’s the recipe. You can also use the same mix to make small haggis-shaped truffles.

Makes: 8

Ingredients

  • 125g free-from clootie dumpling crumbs (or use 100g free-from light fruit cake crumbs combined with 25g toasted gluten-free oatmeal)
  • 25g stem ginger, finely chopped
  • 100g vegan dark chocolate, melted
  • 2tbsp ginger wine, ginger syrup or orange juice
  • 240g natural marzipan

1. Put the crumbs and ginger in a bowl and bind together with the melted chocolate and wine, syrup or juice. Form into 8 balls and chill for about 1hr until firm.

2. Divide the marzipan into 8 equal pieces and roll out thinly to make rounds large enough to encase each truffle. Scrunch together at the top to give the cloth effect. Tie with twine or ribbon if liked. Keep in a cool place or the fridge until ready to serve.

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Clootie dumpling truffle steps. Images: Kathryn Hawkins

To make haggis truffles instead, divide into 10 portions and shape into small sausage lengths. You’ll need 300g marzipan to roll out into rounds and wrap around each one. Scrunch the marzipan at each end to give the classic haggis shape.

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Same mixture, different shape. Images: Kathryn Hawkins

For easy reference, here are a few links to other recipe posts for traditional Scottish dishes with a free-from twist to serve up on January 25th:

Vegan haggis (dairy-free; gluten-free variation)

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

Rumbledethumps (gluten-free; dairy-free & vegan alternatives)

Tattie scones (gluten-free; dairy-free; vegan)For Burns Night,

Scottish shortbread (gluten-free; dairy-free; vegan)

Gingerbread cupcakes and cookies (gluten-free; dairy-free; vegan)

Chocolate Haggis for a Burns Night supper (gluten-free, dairy-free, vegan)

Gingerbread tablet for Burns Night 2022 (gluten-free; dairy-free; vegan)

That’s all from me this week. Until next time, thanks for stopping by and I hope you have a good few days ahead.

Fruit butter (naturally gluten-free; dairy-free, and vegan)

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Homemade fruit butter. Image: Kathryn Hawkins

Happy New Year! I hope you have had a good holiday. We find ourselves at the beginning of a brand new year, wondering what 2023 has instore for us all. Let’s hope it’s a good one.

It’s been a chilly, frosty and snowy end of year here in central Scotland. I didn’t venture very far. I have been in the kitchen keeping cosy and have been trying new ways of using up what remains of the stored fruit from last Autumn. This week’s post is the result of one of my experiments, slow-cooked fruit butter. It keeps for about a week in the fridge but can be frozen for use later in the year.

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In the jar. Images: Kathryn Hawkins

Fruit butter has nothing to do with dairy butter. In fact, it is completely fat free. I guess it gets its name from the fact that it is silky smooth in texture. It tastes delicious and is very easy (and moreish!) to eat. You can use it like jam, spread on toast, or as a filling for pancakes, pastry cases and sponge cakes, or as a dessert with yogurt. It is delicious served with rice pudding, granola, porridge or as a topping for a cheesecake.

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Fruit butter with coconut yogurt and on griddle scones. Images: Kathryn Hawkins

The sugar content is much lower than jam so you do need to keep it in the fridge. It freezes very well with no alteration in texture, colour or flavour. If you portion the butter up in small containers, it will defrost quickly and can be used up in a few days.

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Ripe fruit and flavourings. Images: Kathryn Hawkins

I used a combination of quince, cooking pears and small cooking apples, but you can use the same method for a single fruit butter, although you may need to adjust the sugar content. And when it comes to flavouring, you can use whatever you fancy. For speed, ground spices are the easiest option because it saves time at the end of cooking. You can simply blitz the fruit and store. I prefer whole spices along with lemon rind, and as long as you know how many pieces you have added, then you know how many bits you need to fish out before your start blending. Cinnamon, allspice, cloves, ginger and orange would all work very nicely, it’s just personal preference.

On with the recipe. All the work is in the preparation of the fruit, then it’s a case of letting the slow-cooker do the rest of the work.

Makes: approx. 1.6kg

Ingredients

  • 1 unwaxed lemon
  • 2kg quince, cooking or firm pears, and cooking apples (dessert apples will also work, just adjust the sugar quantity accordingly)
  • 125g caster sugar
  • 1 vanilla pod, split
  • 6 to 8 cadamom pods, split

1. Pare the lemon rind in thick strips using a vegetable peeler, and extract the juice. Put the spent lemon shells in a large bowl, pour over the juice and top up with cold water to half fill the bowl. Keep the pared rind for the slow cooker.

2. Peel and core all the fruit, and cut into pieces – apple and pear will cook more quickly than quince if you are using a combination. Simply cut the quince (or any firmer pieces of fruit) into small pieces for even cooking. As you prepare the fruit, put it in the lemony water to reduce the deterioration of colour.

3. When you have prepared all the fruit, use a draining spoon to ladle it into your slow cooker. There is no need to drain the fruit too much as a little of the lemony water will help create steam as the fruit cooks. Discard the lemon shells.

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Preparing fruit for slow cooking. Images: Kathryn Hawkins

4. Add the sugar, pared lemon rind and your other chosen flavourings and mix everything together, then cover with the lid and set the cooker to High for 5 to 6 hours, or Low for 10-12 hours. The exact cooking time will depend on how ripe the fruit is. After a couple of hours, give the fruit a stir then re-cover, and stir again after a further 2 hours. Continue cooking until the fruit is very soft.

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Before and after cooking. Images: Kathryn Hawkins

5. Switch off the cooker and leave the fruit, covered with the lid, to go cold. Remove the rind and whole spices if using and either use a stick blender to blitz the fruit or transfer to a standing blender. The fruit butter should be thick and beautifully smooth.

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The final step to perfect fruit butter. Images: Kathryn Hawkins

6. Once you have your butter, either spoon it into clean, sealable jars or containers for keeping in the fridge, or pack it into cartons for freezing.

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Ready for freezing. Image: Kathryn Hawkins

I hope you have enjoyed my post this week. I will be back with another recipe in a couple of weeks. Until then, take care and keep well. I will see you again soon 🙂

Happy Hogmanay 2022

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Scottish shortbread for Hogmanay 2022. Image: Kathryn Hawkins

It’s the last day of the year, and a time for reflection as well as looking ahead to whatever the coming year has instore. I am closing my blog for the year with a festive twist on Scotland’s most famous of bakes. No recipe as such this time but here are a couple of links to previous shortbread posts in case you do fancy making some for your own celebrations:

For Burns Night, Scottish shortbread (gluten-free; dairy-free; vegan)

Scottish Shortbread (gluten-free; dairy-free; vegan)

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Lining the shortbread mould. Images: Kathryn Hawkins

However you are celebrating the end of this year and the beginning of the next, I send you my best wishes for a happy, healthy and successful year ahead. Thank you for visiting my blog and I hope to see you again in 2023. Happy New Year!

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Happy New Year! Image: Kathryn Hawkins

Slow-cooked quince in mulled wine (naturally gluten-free; diary-free and vegan)

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Slow-cooked quince in mulled wine. Image: Kathryn Hawkins

One of the delights of Autumn for me is that it is the season of the quince. In recent years, I haven’t managed to find any but this October I got hold of a box of 9 of the tempting fruit. Like apples and cherries this year, quince trees have also provided a bumper harvest.

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Box of quince. Image: Kathryn Hawkins

Back in October the quinces were barely ripe. Very firm, pale yellowy-green in colour with little of their renown aroma. As the weeks passed, the skins turned waxy yellow and the spicy scent increased. Every time I opened the box, I inhaled a waft of their fruity smell. If you haven’t experienced the aroma, it is intensely appley with a hint of sweet aniseed.

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Perfectly ripe quince. Images: Kathryn Hawkins

To be honest, I don’t think the flavour of the fruit is that pronounced, more like pear than apple, but the texture makes it very different to other tree fruits. There is a slightly granular, rich texture to the flesh and a much firmer, almost chewy bite. Quince holds up exceptionally well to prolonged cooking, making them a winner for the slow-cooker.

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Perfectly cooked quince. Image: Kathryn Hawkins

Raw quince is too hard and dry to enjoy raw; it also discolours very quickly. If you peel and core the fruit and put it in a bowl of lemon juice and water this helps keep the discolouration to a minimum. However, if you want to enjoy the fruit “au natural”, hold back on the lemon and the fruit will take on a rich, rusty red colour as it cooks.

My recipe this week is simple but requires a little bit of preparation to start with. Once it’s all in the slow cooker you can sit back and enjoy the festive fruit and spice smells that are emitted as the quince cooks through. If you can’t get hold of quince, firm pears will work just fine.

Serves: 6

Ingredients

  • 1 unwaxed lemon
  • 1 unwaxed orange
  • 3 large quince (approx. 1.5kg)
  • 500ml fruity red wine
  • 150g caster sugar
  • 1 vanilla pod, split
  • 1 cinnamon stick, broken

1. Use a vegetable peeler to pare the rind from the lemon and orange. Put 3/4 of the rind to one side for flavouring the wine, and cut the remainder into thin strips for decoration – if you don’t want to do this, you can use all the rind in the mulled wine.

2. Extract the lemon juice and pour into a mixing bowl. Add the empty lemon halves. Fill the bowl with water to to 2/3 full and set aside ready for the quince. Extract the juice from the orange and set aside for the wine.

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Preparing quince and flavourings. Images: Kathryn Hawkins

3. Peel the quince thinly. Cut into quarters and slice out the core. As soon as you prepare each quarter, push down into the lemony water to help prevent discolouration.

4. Now prepare the mulled wine. Pour the wine and orange juice into a saucepan. Add the sugar and heat gently stirring until the sugar dissolves, then bring to the boil.

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Making mulled wine for the slow-cooker. Images: Kathryn Hawkins

5. Drain the quince very well and place in the slow cooker dish. Add the pared rind, vanilla and cinnamon and pour over the hot mulled wine. Cover with the lid, switch the cooker on to High and cook for 3 hours, turning the fruit every hour to ensure even cooking, until the quince is tender.

6. Use a slotted spoon to transfer the quince to a heatproof dish. Cover loosely with foil. Strain the wine into a saucepan, bring to the boil and simmer for 10-12 minutes until reduced by half and slightly syrupy. Pour over the quince, mix gently, and leave to cool completely, then cover and chill until ready to serve.

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Reducing mulled wine to syrup. Images: Kathryn Hawkins

7. While the quince is cooking or cooling, bring a small saucepan of water to the boil and cook the shreds of lemon and orange rind for 2-3 minutes to soften them. Drain well and leave to cool.

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Orange and lemon zest decoration. Images: Kathryn Hawkins

8. To serve, arrange the quince quarters in a serving dish and spoon over a little syrup. Sprinkle with citrus shreds if using and serve the quince with the remaining mulled wine syrup on the side. Delicious accompanied with vegan vanilla ice cream 🙂

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Finishing touch, orange and lemon shreds, Image: Kathryn Hawkins
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Quince served with vegan vanilla ice cream. Image: Kathryn Hawkins

I hope you have a very happy Christmas and I look forward to posting again for the new year. Seasonal best wishes to you and thank you for your interest in my blog.

Autumn into winter

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The first ground frost of Autumn 2022. Images: Kathryn Hawkins

As another month draws to a close, it’s been a rather wet and dreary end to the season of Autumn here in central Scotland. Photographically speaking, there have been very few blue-sky days to capture the warm, glowing colours of this time of the year. Nevertheless, I have a few images which I hope convey the natural glory of the month just passing.

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Late Autumn, River Earn, Perthshire, Scotland. Images: Kathryn Hawkins

I took these photos a couple of weeks ago whilst out on a walk along the local riverbank. Even though the sky was a dull grey and the waters looked cool and steely, the colours of the leaves still clinging to the trees looked spectacular.

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Golden leaf colour. Images: Kathryn Hawkins

Back home in the garden at the same time, the Japanese Maple (Acer) tree was ablaze with glowing yellow leaves. But following a few heavy downpours and some strong winds, the last of the leaves have fallen.

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November sun-rise and sun-up. Images: Kathryn Hawkins

Usually, the month of November brings with it glorious sunsets and sunrises, but I have only managed to capture one sunrise, and that was during the last week. You can see the same Maple tree now bereft of leaves in the early morning sunshine.

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A welcome splash of vibrant pink. Images: Kathryn Hawkins

Throughout the month, these Nerines have been giving a very welcome show of bright pink colour. They look so exotic and fragile but are incredibly hardy. Still going strong is the planter of Bidens and Astors I planted back in June. Such great value. Usually by now the planter is full of bulbs ready for spring but I can’t bring myself to dig these bedding plants up just yet.

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Still flowering in the Autumn sunshine. Images: Kathryn Hawkins

And so to a reminder that winter is just around the corner. The holly hedge is abundant with great clusters of berries this year, as is the snowberry bush in the back garden. I hope this isn’t a sign of a particularly cold winter ahead. It’s been a good year for blueberries as well. This late variety is still ripening at a rate of a small handful a week.

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Red, white and almost blue, late Autumn berries. Images: Kathryn Hawkins

Thanks for stopping by. Until my next post, take care and keep warm 🙂

Upside-down ginger apple cake (gluten-free; dairy-free; vegan)

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Upside-down ginger apple cake. Image: Kathryn Hawkins

Hello again. We’re well into the season of Autumn now, and it wouldn’t feel complete if I didn’t share an apple recipe with you. It has been a bumper year for apples in the UK. Back at the end of last month, the old apple tree in the garden was groaning with fruit, and on a dry, bright day, it was finally time to relieve the tree of all its fruit.

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Lord Derby apple harvest 2022. Images: Kathryn Hawkins

With the very sunny and warm summer we enjoyed here, the apple crop was much sweeter than ever before, so as well as being used in cooking, the apples make good eaters this year. There were far too many for one household to cope with, I am pleased to say that several local families in the town were able to enjoy a bag full this year.

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Ginger apple cake with ginger syrup. Images: Kathryn Hawkins

On with the recipe. The main preparation for the recipe is the apples, after that there is only a very simple cake batter to make. I picked out the smaller apples for my tin. If you have larger apples, you may want to slice them into quarters or thick rings rather than simply cutting them in half.

Make the cake the day before you want to serve it because it will benefit from a few hours keeping. The flavour and texture will improve greatly overnight. The recipe makes quite a large cake, but it freezes well so you’ll have plenty for another day. Serve warm as a pudding with custard, or cold as a comforting cake.

Serves: about 10

Ingredients

  • Finely grated rind and juice 1 lemon
  • approx. 9 small cooking or eating apples
  • 2tbsp stem ginger syrup (I used the syrup from the jar)
  • 125g plant butter
  • 125g treacle
  • 125g golden or corn syrup
  • 125g light soft brown sugar
  • 250g gluten free plain flour
  • 250g gluten free porridge oats
  • 1tsp bicarbonate of soda
  • 4tsp ground mixed spice
  • 75g chopped stem ginger
  • 175ml oat milk or other plant-based milk

1.Put the lemon rind to one side. Add the juice to a bowl of cold water. Peel and core the apples; cut in half and place in the lemony water to help prevent browning. Leave aside until ready to assemble the cake.

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Preparing the apples for cake making. Images: Kathryn Hawkins

2. Put the butter, treacle, golden syrup and sugar in a saucepan, and heat gently to melt. Mix well then leave to cool for 10 minutes.

3. Preheat the oven to 180°C, 160°C fan oven, gas 4. Line a 20 x 30cm tin with baking parchment and drizzle the base with ginger syrup. Drain the apples, pat dry with kitchen paper and arrange over the bottom of the tin – see above.

4. Put the flour, oats, baking soda and spice in a bowl. Mix together and make a well in the centre.

5. Pour in the melted ingredients and add the reserved lemon rind and chopped ginger. Carefully mix everything together along with the milk, then spoon over the apples making sure they are covered.

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Making the ginger cake batter. Images: Kathryn Hawkins

6. Stand the tin on a baking tray and bake for about 50 minutes until firm to the touch. Transfer the tin to a wire rack and leave to cool completely. Turn out on to a large sheet of baking parchment. Wrap carefully and store in an airtight container overnight to allow the flavours to develop.

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Just out of the oven. Images: Kathryn Hawkins

I mixed some of the ginger syrup from the jar of stem ginger with plain carob syrup and drizzled it over the cake to serve.

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Up close on ginger apple cake. Image: Kathryn Hawkins

That’s me for another week. Until next time, happy baking 🙂

Italian round aubergine baked in tomato and garlic sauce (gluten-free, with dairy-free and vegan alternative)

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A vision in violet, Italian round aubergine (eggplant). Image: Kathryn Hawkins

My post this week is inspired by this wonderful aubergine (eggplant) I bought recently from an Italian deli. The size of a small football, it weighed in at just over 700g. The variety is Italian round aubergine or Melanzane to give it its authentic Italian name.

Aubergine is one of my favourite vegetables – I love the way it cooks down to a rich, melting tenderness – and my number one recipe for serving it is simply baked in homemade tomato and garlic sauce.

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Halved and sliced, Italian round aubergine. Image: Kathryn Hawkins

Round aubergine can be prepared just as you would the standard black variety. I cut it in half and then sliced each half in half again and then into approx. 1cm thick slices. It looks like a giant purple bug don’t you think?

I always salt aubergine as I find it cooks more quickly and also cooks more tenderly. Simply lay the slices in layers in a large colander or strainer, sprinkling with salt as you go, and then leave to stand over a plate or bowl for 30 minutes. After this time, you should see water exuding from the slices. Rinse thoroughly and then pat dry with kitchen paper.

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Simple ingredients, wonderful flavours. Image: Kathryn Hawkins

The sauce is made with ripe tomatoes, garlic and a bunch of fresh herbs tied together for flavour. It is seasoned with salt, pepper, and a little sugar and enriched with a dash of olive oil. I have outlined the cooking stages below but for more details, take a look at this previous post for some more illustrations on tomato sauce-making Pesto pancake and tomato layer (gluten-free; dairy-free; vegan)

I topped mine with some grated Parmesan, but a non-dairy alternative works just as well. If you prefer not to use cheese at all, sprinkle the top with gluten-free dried breadcrumbs or polenta, or leave the bake untopped and cover the dish with foil when ready to bake.

Serves: 4

Ingredients

For the sauce:

  • 1.25kg ripe tomatoes, washed and roughly chopped
  • Large sprig each of fresh thyme and sage
  • 1 bay leaf
  • 2 cloves garlic, peeled
  • Salt and freshly ground black pepper
  • 1-2tsp caster sugar
  • 2tbsp good quality olive oil

For the aubergine:

  • 750g aubergine, sliced into 1cm thick slices
  • Salt
  • Approx. 150ml good quality olive oil
  • 50g freshly grated Parmesan or plant-based alternative, optional – or 3tbsp dry gluten-free breadcrumbs or polenta

1. Make the sauce first so that it is cold when you assemble the dish. You can make it up a day or two beforehand to save time on the day you want to serve it. Put the tomatoes in a deep frying pan or large saucepan and add the herbs and garlic. Season well. Cover with a lid and cook over a low/medium heat for about 40 minutes until soft and collapsed.

2. Discard the herbs, then push the tomatoes and garlic through a nylon sieve to extract as much tomato pulp as you can. Return the pulp to a clean pan and add sugar to taste; spoon in the oil. Bring to a gentle simmer and cook gently for 30-40 minutes until thickened and reduced – you will need about 450-500ml for this recipe. Leave to cool, then cover and chill until ready to use.

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Making tomato, garlic and herb sauce. Images: Kathryn Hawkins

3. For the aubergine, salt them as I described above, then rinse well and pat dry with kitchen paper. Heat 2-3tbsp oil in a large frying pan and fry a few slices at a time for 2-3 minutes on each side, until lightly golden. Drain well on kitchen paper. Repeat using more oil as needed to fry the remaining slices. Leave to cool, then cover and chill until ready to assemble the bake.

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Salted and fried aubergine (eggplant) slices. Image: Kathryn Hawkins

4. When ready to cook, preheat the oven to 180°C, 160°C fan oven, gas 4. Spread one third of the sauce over the bottom of a 1.5l baking dish and top with half the aubergine slices. Add half the remaining sauce and top with the remaining aubergine slices.

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Layering up the bake. Images: Kathryn Hawkins

5. Spoon the remaining sauce on top and sprinkle with cheese or crumbs. Stand the dish on a baking tray and bake for about 50 minutes until tender, golden and bubbling.

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Sprinkling the bake with dairy or plant-based cheese. Images: Kathryn Hawkins

Leave the bake to stand for 10 minutes before serving. I sprinkled the top with the last few leaves of homegrown basil from my greenhouse and accompanied it with a crisp salad and some freshly cooked rice. It was absolutely delicious 🙂

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Just out of the oven and sprinkled with fresh basil. Images: Kathryn Hawkins

I hope you have a good few days ahead. We will be into November the next time I post. I know I say this quite a lot but where does the time go? Until then, take care and best wishes to you. Thanks for stopping by 🙂

Apple and salal berry jelly preserve (naturally gluten-free, dairy-free, and vegan)

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Homemade apple and salal berry jelly. Image: Kathryn Hawkins

Hello there. I hope you are keeping well. It’s that time of year when I get the jam pan out and start making preserves and chutneys for the months ahead.

Back in August I harvested a lot of salal berries from the garden. I did compote a few but the rest went in the freezer for making preserves. There are still a few on the bushes now but I am leaving those for the garden birds to enjoy.

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August 2022 harvest of Salal berries. Images: Kathryn Hawkins

I haven’t picked all the apples yet, but I have been taking one or two as and when I need them for cooking. The old tree in the garden is looking heavy with fruit this year, so I think I will be gathering in the apples very soon.

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October 2022, cooking apples ready for picking. Image: Kathryn Hawkins

My recipe is a very simple jelly preserve. If you don’t have salal berries, blueberries or blackberries will work just as well. Salal berries can be quite challenging to pick as they are quite squishy when ripe so I usually pick short branches and then remove the berries when I get back into the kitchen. Have a look at this post from last year for an easy preparation technique Salal berries – jam and muffins (gluten-free; dairy-free; vegan)

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Single jar. Image: Kathryn Hawkins

The recipe below makes a small quantity of preserve and as such can be easily doubled or trebled should you have more berries and apples. Making a smaller amount means that you can strain the fruit through a sieve rather than in a jelly bag; it is quicker to strain, and it also cooks down in less time.

Makes: approx. 650g

Ingredients

  • 200g prepared salal berries, washed
  • 400g cooking apples, washed and chopped, but left unpeeled or cored
  • approx. 450g granulated or preserving sugar

1. Put the fruit in a large saucepan with 350ml water. Bring to the boil, cover and simmer for 10-15 minutes until soft and pulpy. Mash the fruit occasionally to help break it down.

2. Place a large sieve over a jug or bowl and line with clean muslin. Carefully ladle in the pulp and leave to strain for 3-4 hours.

3. Put the pulp back in a saucepan and the harvested juice in the fridge. Re-cook the pulp, this time with 200ml water, for about 5 minutes, and then strain again as above.

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Preparing and cooking the fruit for jelly making. Images: Kathryn Hawkins

4. Measure the juice and pour into a large clean saucepan. Add sugar to the ratio of 450g per 600ml juice – I had 575ml juice and added 430g sugar.

5. Heat, stirring, until the sugar is dissolved, then raise the heat and bring to the boil. Cook rapidly until the temperature reaches between 104°C and 105°C – this will probably take around 10 minutes.

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Making the jelly. Images: Kathryn Hawkins

6. Pour into small, clean, sterilised jars and seal immediately. When cold, label and store for 6-12 months, although the jelly is ready to eat immediately. Serve with cold cuts, cheeses or as a sweet spread on toast or crackers.

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Apple and salal berry jelly on oatcakes. Image: Kathryn Hawkins

Well that’s the end of my post for this week. I will be back in the kitchen again next time. Until then, I hope you have a good few days ahead 🙂

Autumn vibes

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Blue sky and autumn leaves. Image: Kathryn Hawkins

Hello again. It’s been a lovely weekend so far here in central Scotland. Lots of sunshine and blue sky which really shows off these Japanese maple leaves, slowly on the turn from green to gold, and finally to red before they fall. The temperature has dropped a few degrees, and the forecast is for a much cooler week ahead, so I think the new season has well and truly arrived.

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Scottish autumn-flowering heather. Images: Kathryn Hawkins

The garden is still looking quite flowery which is good news for the bees. It’s been a great year for all the heathers, with the autumn varieties looking particularly pretty and laden with tiny blooms.

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Fading white Hydrangea.. Images: Kathryn Hawkins

The well-established white Hydrangea shrub has been heavy with flowers this year. A victim of its own success, its thin stems and branches have bowed with the weight of all the flower-heads. Whilst most have a pinkish or brown tinge, there are still one or two perfectly white blooms visible with their pin-head-sized tiny blue centres.

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Late flowering Campanulas. Images: Kathryn Hawkins

The Campanulas have been out in flower for a while. I keep trimming away the spent flower-heads and new ones have been forming lower down the stems which is why they are still flowering so late in the year. The same goes for the deep-pink Verbascum which is now flowering for the third time this year.

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Deep pink Verbascum. Image: Kathryn Hawkins

When I was out in the garden today, I was happy to see so many bees and flying insects enjoying the flowers and sunshine as much as I was. All the lavender bushes in the garden have a few late sprigs of flowers which these insects particularly love.

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Autumn lavender flowers. Images: Kathryn Hawkins

It’s not all blue, purple and pink in the garden, the Rose of Sharon has produced a few more golden yellow flowers which have a waxy-look to the petals in the sunshine.

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Second flowers on Rose of Sharon (Hypericum). Images: Kathryn Hawkins

My final image is of my favourite Lupin which has broken my back garden record this year, with its third flowering of the year. It’s not fully open yet but it’s not far off. All the other Lupin bushes have died down completely yet this one has stayed lush and healthy. Alongside is one of my Borage flowers; these have only just decided to put in an appearance this week. Better late than never though 🙂

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Third flowering Lupin and the first Borage flowers of the season. Images: Kathryn Hawkins

I hope you have enjoyed my images this week. I will be back in the kitchen for my next post. Until then, take care and thanks, as always, for stopping by.

Pesto pancake and tomato layer (gluten-free; dairy-free; vegan)

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Pesto pancake and tomato layer. Image: Kathryn Hawkins

Hello again. What a mixed bag of weather there has been here since my last post. Plenty of rain to restore the water supplies with thundery downpours and a few sunny days here and there. The garden has bucked up again and the green grass has been restored.

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Homegrown orange tomatoes. Images: Kathryn Hawkins

My recipe post this week gives a little nod towards the change of month and season. The greenhouse tomatoes are ripening now. I planted only 3 plants this year, but I am enjoying a steady supply to eat in salads. The variety is called Golden Zlatava, orange on the outside with reddish flesh inside. Whilst I haven’t grown enough for cooking this year, there are plenty of delicious locally grown tomatoes around, like these fantastic small plum tomatoes, which are perfect for sauce-making.

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Fresh plum tomatoes. Image: Kathryn Hawkins

The greenhouse basil really enjoyed the hot weather we had last month and has grown very bushy and bold. I love the flowers as well. Plenty of leaves to make one of my most favourite savoury sauces, pesto, which seems to be the best way to preserve the flavour of the herb once it has been frozen.

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Greenhouse basil. Images: Kathryn Hawkins

There are 2 main components to the recipe this week: making the pancakes and making a tomato sauce. Both elements freeze well in case you want to make the recipe in stages. I made pesto in a previous post, so if you fancy having a go at that as well, here’s the link to the recipe Runner bean and pesto fritters (gluten-free; dairy-free; vegan)

Serves: 4

Ingredients

Tomato sauce

  • 1kg fresh tomatoes, washed and chopped
  • 6 garlic cloves, peeled
  • A selection of fresh herbs such as sage, bay, marjoram and oregano
  • 2tbsp olive oil
  • 1tsp caster sugar
  • 100g drained sundried tomatoes in oil, blotted on kitchen paper
  • Salt to taste

Pesto pancakes

  • 110g tapioca flour
  • 110g gram (chickpea or garbanzo) flour
  • 6g gluten-free baking powder
  • 1tsp salt
  • 65g fresh vegan pesto
  • 250ml plant-based milk (I used oat milk)
  • 160ml chickpea canning liquid (or other aqua fava)
  • Vegetable oil for brushing

1. First make the sauce. Put the tomatoes in a large pan with a lid and add the garlic and herbs. Heat until steaming, then cover, and simmer gently for about 45 minutes until very tender. Turn off the heat and leave to cool with the lid on.

2. Discard the herbs. Push the tomatoes and garlic through a nylon sieve, in batches, to remove the skins and seeds. Depending on the juiciness of your tomatoes, you should end up with around 700ml pulp.

3. Pour the pulp into a clean pan. Add the oil and sugar, heat gently, stirring, until boiling, then simmer for about 20 minutes until thickened and reduced to about 300ml. Leave to cool.

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Homemade plum tomato sauce preparation. Images: Kathryn Hawkins

4. Put the sundried tomatoes in a blender or food processor and blitz until smooth, then stir into the cold tomato sauce. Taste and season. Cover and chill until ready to use.

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Adding sundried tomato paste. Images: Kathryn Hawkins

5. For the pancakes, put the flours, baking powder and salt in a bowl and make a well in the centre. Add the pesto, and gradually blend in the milk to make a smooth batter.

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Making the pesto batter. Images: Kathryn Hawkins

6. In another bowl, whisk the chickpea water until very thick and foamy, then gently mix into the batter to make a bubbly mixture.

7. Brush a small frying pan (15-16cm base diameter) lightly with oil and heat until hot. Spoon in 4-5tbsp batter, tilting the pan to cover the base with batter. Cook over a medium/low heat for 2-3 minutes until set and bubbles appear on top. Flip over and cook for a further 2 minutes until cooked through.

8. Layer the cooked pancake on a sheet of baking parchment on a wire rack, and cover while you make another 7 pancakes. Stack the pancakes on top of each other, between sheets of parchment to help keep them from drying out. If you are making the pancakes in advance, leave them to cool, then wrap them well and keep in the fridge for up to 3 days or freeze for up to 6 months.

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Cooking the pancakes. Images: Kathryn Hawkins
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Pesto pancake stack. Image: Kathryn Hawkins

9. To assemble, spread a pancake with cold tomato sauce, almost to the edge of the pancake. Transfer to a lined baking tray and continue the spreading and layering with the remaining sauce and pancakes. If you have leftover sauce, keep it to serve with the pancakes.

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Layering before baking. Images: Kathryn Hawkins

10. Cover the pancake stack with foil and place in a preheated oven at 190°C, 170°C fan oven, gas 5. Heat through in the oven for about 45 minutes. Best served warm. Top with fresh chopped tomato and fresh basil to serve and accompany with wild rocket and any leftover tomato sauce.

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Tomato-filled pesto pancake layers. Images: Kathryn Hawkins

That’s all for this post. See you all again soon. Thanks for stopping by. Best wishes 🙂