Sweet and spicy mango chutney (naturally gluten-free; dairy-free and vegan)

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Homemade mango chutney. Image: Kathryn Hawkins

It’s the time of year when you might be thinking about making something edible for giving as a Christmas present so my post this week may be an idea for you. Last week I found large fresh mangoes for sale in the supermarket at a very reasonable price and decided to make mango chutney. This is a favourite preserve in our house; we get through lots of it, but I hardly ever get round to making it.

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Fresh mango fruit. Image: Kathryn Hawkins

Choose slightly under-ripe mangoes for chutney so that you end up with some texture in your preserve. Very ripe mango will go very soft and will also increase the sweetness of the final chutney.

An_array_of_whole_spices_and_seasonings_on_a_wooden_tra_ready_to_flavour_mango_chutney
Spice and seasoning tray. Image: Kathryn Hawkins

You can go one of two ways when you make mango chutney: the spicy route, whilst or the smooth, sweet and jam-like. If you prefer the latter, you don’t need to add the spice bag or the chillis and onion seeds from the recipe below, but I do recommend keeping the ginger, bay and garlic as well as salt and pepper . Blend or mash the mango finely before you start, and for a more vibrant colour, add some paprika.

Toasting_spices_then_grinding_in_a_pestle_and_mortar_and_tying_in_a_spice_bag
Toasting and grinding spices ready for a spice bag. Images: Kathryn Hawkins

For a spicy version, I prefer to keep the chutney as clear as possible so I avoid ground spices as these can give a murky result. Instead I opt for making a spice bag. It’s a bit of a faff but worth it to achieve a more “professional” appearance. Toast the cumin, coriander and black mustard seeds first in a dry frying pan for a couple of minutes. Cool and then grind them with the cardamom pods. Pile on to a small square of clean muslin and add the ground pepper. Tie up with a strip of muslin or clean cook’s string and you’re ready to go.

Homemade_mango_chutney_with_a_fstive_touch_ready_for_gifting
Ready for gifting. Image: Kathryn Hawkins

If you can bear to part with your preserve, it does make a lovely and impressive gift for any curry or Indian food lover. Make it now and it will be just about ready to eat at Christmas, but perfect for keeping into the new year. ¬†I haven’t decided what to do with my 3 jars yet – keep or gift? Probably the former ūüôā

Jar_of_homemade_mango_chutney_ready_for_storing
Homemade mango chutney ready for storage until Christmas. Image: Kathryn Hawkins

Makes: approx. 525g

Ingredients

  • ¬Ĺ tsp each cumin, coriander and black mustard seeds
  • 4 cardamom pods
  • ¬Ĺ tsp coarse ground black pepper
  • 2-3 large slightly under-ripe mangoes – see below
  • 2 garlic cloves, peeled and finely chopped
  • 20g piece root ginger, peeled and finely chopped
  • 2 bay leaves
  • 1 tsp dried chilli flakes
  • 150ml cider vinegar
  • 225g granulated sugar
  • 2 tbsp. fresh lemon juice
  • 1 tsp black onion seeds
  • ¬Ĺ tsp salt
  1. First make up the spice bag as described above and put to one side. Next prepare the mango. Slice down either side of the large smooth, flat central stone. Peel off the skin and chop the flesh, then slice off the remaining flesh from around the edge of the stone. You will need 600g prepared fruit for this recipe.

    2_images_showing_how_to_prepare_fresh_mango
    Fresh mango preparation. Images: Kathryn Hawkins
  2. Put the mango flesh in a large saucepan and add the spice bag, garlic, ginger, bay leaves and chilli. Pour over the vinegar, bring to the boil, cover and gently simmer for about 10 minutes until softened.
  3. Stir in the sugar until dissolved, then add the lemon juice. Bring to the boil and cook for about 15 minutes until thick and jam-like, stirring occasionally as it may start to stick on the bottom of the saucepan. Turn off the heat, stir in the onion seeds and salt, cover and stand for 10 minutes, then discard the bay leaves and spice bag.

    4_cooking_stages_in_making_mango_chutney
    The 4 stages of chutney. Images: Kathryn Hawkins
  4. Stir the mixture  before spooning into hot, sterilised jars and sealing immediately. Leave to cool, then label and store in a cool, dry cupboard for at least a month to mature before serving.

That’s all for this month. I wish you a good few days. I’ll see you again in December on the run up to Christmas ūüôā

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A spoonful of sweet and spicy homemade mango chutney. Image: Kathryn Hawkins

Sugar and spice fruit cake for Christmas (gluten-free; dairy-free; vegan)

Gluten-free_dairy-free_vegan_Christmas_cake
Getting ready for Christmas, gluten-free and vegan, this year’s Christmas fruit cake ready for wrapping and storing. Image: Kathryn Hawkins

In my kitchen, November marks the month that I bake a fruit cake for Christmas. I love the fragrant spicy and citrus aromas wafting from the oven as the cake bakes. Utterly delicious.

Making a rich fruit cake about 6 weeks before Christmas allows the spices chance to settle down, mellow and improve before serving up over the festive season.

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Christmas cake fruit and flavourings. Images: Kathryn Hawkins

When it comes to fruit, I usually go with a mixture of dried vine fruits, chopped apricots and glac√© cherries. Orange and lemon rind and juice add some zest and zing. I always use dark brown sugar and treacle for richness and colour. I usually vary the spices, one year I did mostly ginger and mixed spice for a classic “gingerbread” flavour, but this time around I’ve used cinnamon and¬†allspice together with a classic mixed spice blend. I had white rum to use up this year, but most often I use¬†the dark version.

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Tin protection for prolonged baking. Image: Kathryn Hawkins

Fruit cakes do take a long time to cook, so you need to make sure the outside edges of the cake don’t over-cook. Double-line the sides of the tin¬†inside with baking parchment¬†and then wrap the outside of the tin with a double layer of brown paper and secure with string. I also put a circle of brown paper in the bottom of the tin before adding a couple of circles of baking parchment on top.

It is worth checking the oven temperature manually before you start baking any cake but especially before one that needs long, slow cooking РI always pop an oven thermometer in the oven before preheating to check the temperature is correct. My cooking time of 3 hours will produce a very moist and dense cake, but if you prefer something drier and more crumbly, extend the cooking time by 30 minutes up to 1 hour.

On with the recipe. If you’ve never made a Christmas cake before I¬†understand that¬†the list of ingredients¬†will be¬†completely daunting, but this is a very straightforward recipe, so I hope I can tempt you to have a go.

Serves: 16

Ingredients

  • 900g mixed dried and glac√©¬†fruit such as raisins, sultanas, currants, chopped dried apricots, and cherries
  • Finely grated rind and juice 1 small lemon
  • Finely grated rind and juice 1 small orange
  • 100ml white or dark rum + 2 – 4 tbsp. extra for feeding
  • 225g coconut oil
  • 150g dark brown sugar
  • 2 tbsp black treacle
  • 40g chia seeds
  • 175g gluten-free plain flour blend
  • 100g ground almonds
  • 1 ¬Ĺ tsp gluten-free baking powder
  • 1 tbsp. ground mixed spice
  • 2 tsp ground allspice
  • 2 tsp ground cinnamon
  • 2 tsp natural almond extract
  • 1 tbsp. natural vanilla extract
  1. Prepare a deep, 18cm round cake tin by double lining with baking parchment and brown paper – see above. Place on a baking tray.
  2. Put the fruit in a large saucepan with the citrus rind and juice, rum, coconut oil, sugar and treacle. Heat gently, stirring occasionally, until melted, then bring to the boil and simmer gently for 2-3 minutes. Leave to cool for 30 minutes.

    Melting_ingredients_for_gluten-free_and_vegan_Christmas_cake
    Preparing the fruit mixture. Images: Kathryn Hawkins
  3. Preheat the oven to 150¬įC, 130¬įC fan oven, gas 2. Put the chia seeds in a bowl and add 125ml cold water. Stir and leave for 5 minutes to form a thick, gel-like mixture.

    Chia_seed_"egg"
    Making chia “egg”. Images: Kathryn Hawkins
  4. Transfer the fruit mixture to a large bowl and mix in the chia “egg”. Add the remaining ingredients and mix well to make sure that there are no pockets of flour. Transfer to the tin, smooth the top and bake for 3 hours – see notes above for longer cooking.
  5. Remove from the oven and skewer the top deeply all over. Spoon over 2 tbsp. rum, then leave the cake to cool completely in the tin.

    Skewering_hot_fruit_cake_and_spooning_over_rum
    Rum-soaked cake. Image: Kathryn Hawkins
  6. When the cake is completely cold, remove from the tin and discard all the wrappings. Wrap well in fresh baking parchment or greaseproof paper and then either wrap tightly in foil or store in an air-tight container.
    Fuit_cake_wrapped_in_paper_and_stored_in_air-tight_tin
    Wrapping and storing fruit cake for Christmas. Images: Kathryn Hawkins

    Keep the cake in a cool, dark, dry place for best results. If you want to give the cake a bit more of a kick you can feed it with more rum every 2 weeks. I find one more dose is fine for me. Avoid adding rum in the final few days before serving as it will not have time to mellow out and may spoil the overall flavour of the cake.

    Feeding_a_fruit_cake_with_rum_during_storing
    Feeding the cake. Image: Kathryn Hawkins

    To feed, simply unwrap the cake and spoon over another tablespoon of rum. Let it soak in completely before wrapping up again and ontinue storing until you are ready to ice the cake for Christmas. I’ll follow up this post next month with the unveiling of the finished cake.

Sweet potato steaks with sweetcorn salsa (gluten-free; dairy-free; vegan)

Griddled_sweetcorn_slices_with_barbecue_dressing_alongside_sweetcorn_salsa
Steaks, barbecue dressing and salsa. Images: Kathryn Hawkins

Now that there’s a bit of a nip in the air and the daylight hours are limited, I feel the need for¬†some comfort food.¬†Very soon¬†“bewitching” date in the calendar will be upon us, and the colours and flavours of¬†my recipe this week¬†make it a perfect dish to serve up on All Hallows Eve.

Platter_of_sweet_potato_steaks_sprinkled_with_sweetcorn_salsa
Salsa-sprinkled sweet potato steaks. Image: Kathryn Hawkins

There is a little heat in¬†my recipe coming from chilli oil to cook the steaks and sweetcorn; green chilli in the salsa, and some sweet chilli sauce¬†in the dressing. I’m a chilli wimp so the flavours are¬†relatively mild,¬† you can add more to bump up the intensity if you prefer. I make my own chilli oil by adding Mexican chipotle seasoning to sunflower oil, and brush it over the steaks and sweetcorn¬†just before cooking. Use plain oil if preferred.

Chilli_oil_and_griddle-cooked_sweet_potato_steaks
Home-made chilli oil for brushing over sweet potato steaks. Images: Kathryn Hawkins

The salsa salad is consists of fresh sweetcorn flavoured with green chilli (use red for more heat), some spring onions for sharpness. and for nuttiness, toasted sesame seeds and sesame oil. To finish, I add white balsamic vinegar for a little sweetness. You can experiment with the balance of flavours to suit your taste-buds.


Toasted_sesame_seeds_green_chillies_spring_onions_and_fresh_sweetcorn
Sweetcorn salsa basics. Image: Kathryn Hawkins

On with the recipe. I hope you enjoy it, and have a Happy Hallowe’en¬†ūüôā

Serves: 4 to 6

Ingredients

  • 900g medium-sized sweet potatoes, scrubbed
  • Chilli oil
  • Salt and freshly ground black pepper

For the salsa:

  • 4 sweetcorn cobs, hole or quartered
  • 4 spring onions, trimmed and chopped
  • 2 mild green chillies, deseeded and chopped
  • 3 tbsp. toasted sesame seeds
  • 1 tbsp. sesame oil
  • 2 tbsp. white balsamic vinegar

For the dressing:

  • 2 tbsp. tomato ketchup
  • 3 tbsp. sesame oil
  • 4 tbsp. Thai sweet chilli sauce
  • 2 tsp smoked paprika
  • Chilli flakes to sprinkle
  1. Leaving the¬†sweet potatoes unpeeled,¬†cut them into¬† ¬Ĺcm¬†thick slices. Bring a large shallow pan of water to a gentle boil and cook the slices for 3-4 minutes in simmering water¬†to soften them but not cook them completely. Drain well, pat dry with kitchen paper and leave them to air dry on a wire rack.

    Sliced_sweet_potato_softening_in_simmering_water_and_drying_on_a_wire_rack
    Preparing sweet potato steaks. Images: Kathryn Hawkins
  2. When ready to cook, heat a large griddle pan until hot. Brush the slices with chilli oil and season on both sides, then cook the slices a few at a time, for 3-4 minutes on each side, pressing them on to the griddle, until lightly charred. Drain, cover and keep warm until you have cooked all the slices.
  3. For the sweetcorn salsa, cook the cobs in boiling unsalted water (salt can toughen the kernels) for 4-5 minutes until tender. Drain well.
  4. Preheat the grill to a hot setting. Arrange the sweetcorn on  the grill rack and brush with chilli oil. Cook under the grill for about 5 minutes, turning frequently, until golden and lightly blistered. Drain well and leave to cool.

    Boiling_and_grilling_sweetcorn_ready_for_salsa
    Sweetcorn preparation. Images: Kathryn Hawkins
  5. Strip the sweetcorn kernels from the cobs using a sharp knife and mix with the remaining salsa ingredients. Cover and chill until required.
    Slicing_off_cooked_sweetcorn_kernels_from_the_cobs
    Stripping kernels from the cobs. Image: Kathryn Hawkins

    To serve, mix all the dressing ingredients together and place in a dipping bowl. Arrange the sweet potato steaks on a warm platter and serve with the salsa salad and the dressing. Sprinkle with chilli flakes if liked.

    Close-up_of_griddled_sweet_potato_steaks_with_sweetcorn_salsa
    Up close on sweet potato steaks. Image: Kathryn Hawkins

Apple and tomato tart tatin (gluten-free; dairy-free; vegan)

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Apple and tomato tart tatin. Image: Kathryn Hawkins

Here¬†we are¬†in the bewitching month of October already. Where does the time go? We’ve been enjoying some late season sunshine here in central Scotland which has been very welcome. Not only am I still able to garden and tidy up outside uninhibited by poor weather, the tomatoes are ripening off nicely in the greenhouse, and all the eating apples are ready for picking.

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Flamingo and Ildi tomatoes. Images: Kathryn Hawkins
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Miniature eating apple tree (variety unknown). Image: Kathryn Hawkins

This week’s recipe is my twist on¬†the well known French upside-down apple tart. So many tomato varieties¬†are sweet to eat these days,¬†they can easily be eaten as part of a dessert. However, I’ll leave it up to you to decide how you serve this recipe. The tart¬†goes well either served simply dressed with olive oil and balsamic vinegar, or is equally as delicious¬†served as¬†a dessert¬†with pouring cream or custard.

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Served warm with olive oil and balsamic vinegar to dress. Image: Kathryn Hawkins

I use freshly grated nutmeg and fresh thyme to flavour the tart as well as salt, pepper and a little¬†sugar. I use a crisp, layered pastry¬†as a base¬†so that it doesn’t crumble when you turn it out. Use readymade, chilled or frozen (gluten-free) puff¬†pastry for convenience,¬†but if you have the time,¬†try my own recipe for a¬†gluten-free rough puff¬†pastry

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Whole nutmeg and fresh thyme. Image: Kathryn Hawkins

I have made the tart with all tomatoes and,¬†of course, just¬†with apples, but mixing and matching¬†both fruit¬†is my favourite combination ūüôā I hope you¬†think so¬†too.

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My favourite combination. Image: Kathryn Hawkins

Serves: 2

Ingredients:

  • Gluten-free flour for dusting
  • 175g gluten-free puff or rough puff pastry
  • 35g vegan margarine
  • 1 tbsp. caster sugar
  • Freshly grated nutmeg, salt and freshly ground black pepper, to taste
  • A few fresh thyme leaves
  • 2 small eating apples
  • 4 large plum tomatoes
  • 6 cherry or other small variety of tomatoes
  • 2 tsp olive oil
  • Fresh thyme to garnish
  1. Preheat the oven to 200¬įC, 180¬įC fan oven, gas 6. Line a 20cm round cake tin with baking parchment and lightly grease the sides.
  2. Lightly flour the work top with gluten-free flour and roll out the pastry to a square slightly bigger than the tin. Using the tin as a template, cut a circle 1cm larger than the tin – keep the pastry trimmings for baking as croutons or use small tart bases – then chill the pastry circle until ready to use.
  3. Dot the margarine all over the bottom of the tin, and sprinkle with sugar, seasonings and thyme leaves.
  4. Peel, core and thickly slice the apples; halve the large tomatoes and leave the small ones whole. Arrange over the tin base in a decorative pattern.6_steps_for_making_apple_and_tomato_tart_tatin

    Prepration_of_apple_and_tomato_tart_tatin_in_9_steps
    9 steps to the perfect apple and tomato tart tatin. Images: Kathryn Hawkins
  5. Carefully arrange the pastry circle over the fruit and press the pastry edges to the side of the tin to seal. Brush with olive oil and place on a baking tray. Bake for about 25 minutes until crisp and golden. Leave to stand for 5 minutes before inverting on to a warm serving plate. Spoon over any juices that remain in the tin. Best served hot or warm, garnished with fresh thyme sprigs if liked.

    Overhead_image_of_apple_and_tomato_tart_tatin
    As pretty as a picture. Image: Kathryn Hawkins

 

Cucumber and quinoa tabbouleh (gluten-free; dairy-free; vegan)

Platter_of_home-made_quinoa_tabbouleh_with_cucumber_and_herbs
Gluten-free tabbouleh. Image: Kathryn Hawkins

I’ve had a great crop of¬†home-grown cucumbers this year, and have been enjoying them since July. I’ve been growing 2 varieties in the greenhouse,¬†a small green¬†one called Mini Munch, and a pale yellow, more¬†rounded variety, called Crystal Apple. The Mini Munch have almost finished now, but there are still a few more¬†Crystal Apple¬†come.

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Mini Munch and Crystal Apple cucumbers. Images: Kathryn Hawkins

So to celebrate my cucumber-filled summer, this week’s recipe is my very simple, gluten-free¬†version of¬†the classic Middle Eastern salad, tabbouleh, and for good measure, to go with it, my favourite accompaniment, a super-speedy hummus recipe. You can add any combination of soft-leaved herbs to flavour your grains.¬†The herb patch was looking a bit shabby at the weekend¬†and I needed to pick off a few stalks of mint and chives to help rejuvenate the plants again. I also added some of¬†the delicate zig-zag-edged herb salad burnet which has it’s own mild cucumber flavour, but parsley and coriander make good substitutes if you prefer.

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Salad Burnet close-up. Image: Kathryn Hawkins

There are no set rules to this recipe. It is very simple. I cheat and use a ready-cooked pack of red and white quinoa grains. Very convenient and a perfect quantity for a couple of hearty portions. If you like, add tomato for extra colour and moisture to the salad, and spring onions will add a tasty, oniony bite. I hope you enjoy the fresh flavours.

Mini_Munch_cucumbers_mint_leaves, fresh_chives_and_sprigs_of_salad_burnet_on_a_marble_chopping_board
Home-grown cucumber, mint chives and salad burnet. Images: Kathryn Hawkins

Serves: 2-3

Ingredients

Tabbouleh

  • 250g cucumber, washed
  • 250g cooked quinoa
  • ¬Ĺ tsp salt
  • 20g chives, chopped
  • 7g mint leaves, chopped
  • A handful of salad burnet leaves (parsley or coriander)
  • Lemon¬†wedges and extra virgin olive oil to taste
  • Male cucumber flowers to garnish

Hummus (serves 3-4)

  • 400g can chickpeas
  • 40g tahini
  • 1 garlic clove, peeled
  • ¬Ĺ tsp salt
  • 1 tbsp freshly squeezed lemon juice
  • 1 tbsp. extra virgin olive oil
  • Paprika to dust
  1. For the tabbouleh, cut the cucumber into small pieces. Put the quinoa in a bowl and mix in the cucumber, herbs and salt. Cover and chill for an hour to allow the flavours to mingle. Stand at room temperature for 30 minutes before serving.

    Cooked_quinoa_alongside_the_other_ingredients_for_tabbouleh_salad
    Making gluten-free tabbouleh. Images: Kathryn Hawkins
  2. For the hummus, open the can of chickpeas and drain the canning liquid into a jug. Pop the chickpeas in a blender or food processor along with the other ingredients and 3 tbsp. of the reserved liquid. Blitz for a few seconds until smooth. I like my hummus to have the consistency of thick porridge, but if you prefer something softer, just add a bit more canning liquid. Cover and chill until ready to serve. Don’t forget to keep the rest of the canning liquid for using as an egg white substitute – it freezes very well.
    Blending_the_ingredients_to_make_hummus
    Making hummus. Images: Kathryn Hawkins

    Serve the tabbouleh decorated with cucumber flowers; dress with¬†a squeeze of fresh lemon and extra virgin olive oil¬†to taste, and accompany with toasted seeds, home-made hummus (dusted with paprika if liked) ¬†and warm, gluten-free, toasted¬†pitta breads. Perfect ūüôā

    Overhead_view_of_home-made_cucumber_and_quinoa_salad
    A fresh and healthy salad. Image: Kathryn Hawkins

    Cucumber_and_quinoa_tabbouleh_served_on_warm_gluten-free_pitta_bread_with_hummus
    Ready to eat, quinoa tabbouleh with toasted seeds, home-made hummus and a squeeze of lemon. Image: Kathryn Hawkins

Aronia berry and apple jelly (naturally gluten-free; dairy-free; vegan)

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Garden berries and apples combined to make a delicious jelly preserve.                            Image: Kathryn Hawkins

I wasn’t planning another preserve recipe for my blog¬†so soon¬†after my “jam” post earlier in the month, but¬†last¬†weekend I¬†made up a new recipe and as the result was a success,¬†I am¬†sharing¬†it with you this week.

I inherited several established shrubs and bushes when I moved into my current house over 15 years ago. Many were familiar to me but a few were not. One of the curios was the Aronia Melanocarpa. This is an evergreen shrub with leathery green leaves. In the summer it produces arms of red berries which ripen and turn black. For a while, I assumed the shrub with its berries was purely ornamental, however after a wee bit of research I discovered that the berries are edible.

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Aronia Melanocarpa shrub and fruit. Images: Kathryn Hawkins

The shrub¬†is well known in the USA¬†and was introduced into Europe in the 1700’s, as an ornamental. The berries get their common name of chokeberry because the fruit is very astringent when eaten raw, however, I have decided not to test this out for myself! The berries¬†contain a large amount of vitamin C and looking on the web they are considered to be a bit of a “wonder-berry”.¬†Aronia berries are ripe when they are fully black, which happens from mid to late summer depending on where you live. I found the ripest fruit difficult to pick without squishing the berries, so snipped off the stalks as well (which is fine for jelly making). The juice is potent and stains a vibrant shade of blue, so you might want to wear gloves. I should imagine the berries¬†would freeze ok if you needed to harvest them in batches.

I could find little reference in terms of recipes, so I based¬†my mixture¬†on a cranberry jelly,¬†adding apple to temper the¬†astringency and to help with the set. The¬†final¬†jelly has set well and is dark red-purple in colour,¬†with a¬†taste that¬†is sweet and quite similar to a blueberry preserve. This¬†is a great result¬†for me because my blueberry bushes produced no fruit at all this year, so I’m glad I have¬†discovered the wonders of Aronia Melanocarpa ūüôā

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Scottish berry jelly with oatcakes. Image: Kathryn Hawkins

Makes: approx. 650g jelly preserve

Ingredients:

  • 200g aronia berries, washed (small stems are fine if it is difficult to pick the berries¬†without)
  • 400g whole cooking apples, washed
  • Approx. 430g granulated sugar – see method for exact quantities
  1. Put the berries in a large stainless steel saucepan. Chop the apples into small pieces, (skins, core and pips included) and add to the pan along with 350ml water. Bring to the boil, cover and simmer gently for about 10 minutes, mashing occasionally, until very soft and pulpy.
  2. Line a large nylon sieve with muslin and place over a large bowl. Choose a sieve that you’re not too precious about as it may stain blue with the juice. Carefully pour the pulp into the muslin and leave to cool.¬†Leave to strain for at least 3 hours.

    4_steps_to_cooking_aronia_berry_and_apple_jelly
    Preparing the fruit for jelly-making. Images: Kathryn Hawkins
  3. Pour the strained juice into a measuring jug, cover and chill until required. Tip the pulp back into a saucepan. Add another 200ml water, and heat, stirring, until back to the boil.
  4. Repeat the straining of the pulp as before, but this time, after cooling, put in the fridge and leave to strain overnight until the pulp is very dry.
  5. Discard the pulp and pour the juice into the jug. I achieved 375ml juice from the first straining, and 200ml from the second. The ratio of sugar to juice is 450g sugar to 600ml juice, so I used 430g for my 575ml.
  6. Pour the juice into a saucepan and heat until steaming. Add the sugar, and stir over a low heat until dissolved. Bring to the boil and boil rapidly for about 10 minutes. For jelly making, I use a sugar thermometer to gauge the setting point –¬†104¬į-105¬įC-¬†to give the best result.
    6_steps_to_cooking_aronia_berry_and_apple_juice_to_make_jelly_preserve
    Cooking the juice. Images: Kathryn Hawkins

     

  7. Pour into warm, sterilised jam jars and seal immediately. Leave to cool then label and store in the usual way. The jelly will keep fine for at least 6 months. Serve as a sweet preserve or with savoury dishes too.

    A_small_branch_of_ripe_Scottish_Aronia_berries
    Aronia berries, ripe and ready for picking. Image: Kathryn Hawkins

 

Reduced-sugar raspberry jam (naturally gluten-free; dairy-free; vegan)

Home-made_Scottish_raspberry_jam_made_with_50%_less_sugar
Home-made reduced sugar raspberry jam. Image: Kathryn Hawkins

It’s beginning to¬†feel like Summer is over already.¬†We have had a lot of¬†wet and windy weather¬†which makes it seem more¬†autumnal¬†than summery. I¬†picked the last of the raspberries a few days ago¬†which draws my home-grown soft fruit season to a close. The¬†canes have produced another bumper crop this year, and the freezer is stacked out with berries ready¬†to be used¬†in¬†the months ahead.

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The last harvest of summer raspberries. Images: Kathryn Hawkins

Earlier in the year, I was intrigued by a recipe posted by my fellow blogger Jo√ęlle who published a recipe for a reduced sugar orange jam. Her recipe inspired me to have a go at making a raspberry version. I am always looking for ways to reduce sugar in my diet and¬†her¬†use of one unusual jam¬†ingredient¬†seemed like too good an¬†opportunity to pass me by. So, thank-you very much Jo√ęlle.¬†So,¬†here¬†is¬†Jo√ęlle’s¬†sugar-replacing ingredient…

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Beetroot. Image: Kathryn Hawkins

Beetroot! I guess this revelation will put some of you off, but I can assure you, you really can’t taste it.¬†You do need to make sure the beetroot is cooked very well – it needs to be completely soft to blend it¬†into a pulp. I had some cooked beetroot in the freezer and found that the texture was much more silky-smooth¬†once it defrosted;¬†it blended¬†into a perfectly fine¬†pur√©e. You can use ready-cooked, vacuum-packed beetroot,¬†but please¬†make sure it’s packed in natural juices and not vinegar, as that really would give the game away!

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50% less sugar Scottish raspberry jam. Images: Kathryn Hawkins

I usually use equal quantities of raspberries to sugar in my jam recipes, but in this one, I replaced half of the sugar with beetroot purée. Sugar acts as a preservative which is why jams keep so long in  the store-cupboard. This jam needs to be kept in the refrigerator and eaten within a month, so is better made in small amounts. However, it freezes well, so instead of sealing it in jars in the traditional way, leave it to cool and spoon into small, sealable freezer containers; freeze down and then you can take out the quantity you need to avoid wasting any. The jam will keep well in the freezer for at least 6 months.

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Freezing reduced sugar raspberry jam. Image: Kathryn Hawkins

The texture of this jam is more pulpy than a traditional raspberry jam and it lacks the syrupy consistency that a full quantity of sugar gives, but the flavour is fruity and sweet and the colour unaffected by the beetroot. It spreads well and makes a deliciously fruity topping for pancakes and puddings. I hope you might be intrigued enough to give it a go.

Makes: approx. 575g jam

Ingredients

  • 400g fresh raspberries
  • 200g smooth, cooked¬†beetroot pur√©e
  • 200g granulated sugar
  • 2 tbsp. fresh lemon juice
  1. Put the raspberries and beetroot in a saucepan. Cook gently for a few minutes until the raspberry juices begin to exude.
  2. Stir in the sugar and lemon juice, and heat gently until the sugar dissolves. Bring to the boil and cook for about 10 minutes, stirring occasionally to avoid sticking on the bottom of the pan, until thick and pulpy Рlike stewed apple.
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    Making reduced sugar raspberry jam. Images: Kathryn Hawkins

     

  3. Transfer the hot jam into sterilised jam jars in the usual way, and seal immediately. Leave to cool, then date and keep in the fridge for 4 weeks unopened. Use within a week once opened.

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    Pancake topped with coconut yogurt, fresh berries and home-made reduced sugar jam. Image: Kathryn Hawkins

Mini lime pies (gluten-free; dairy-free; vegan)

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Zesty and zingy, mini lime pies. Image: Kathryn Hawkins

Limes are my favourite of all citrus fruit. I love the intense,¬†slightly perfumed flavour. A small fruit that packs a punch on the taste-buds. This week’s recipe is a simple dessert with a ginger gluten-free biscuit crust¬†but can be easily adapted¬†to use¬†other plain biscuits if you prefer. If you¬†like lemon, the filling will taste just as good¬†using lemon¬†on its own or as a mix with lime.

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Intensely citrusy. Image: Kathryn Hawkins

If you are making a gluten-free crust, it will be softer than if you use traditional biscuits, so pop the pies¬†out of the tins and onto¬†a serving plate at the last minute for best results.¬†The mini lime pies¬†make a¬†perfect light¬†summery dessert or tea-time treat¬†served with berry fruits. I hope you enjoy ūüôā

Makes: 12 pies

Ingredients

  • 250g gluten-free ginger biscuits (if you use non gluten-free biscuits, the crust will be firmer), finely crushed
  • 90g dairy-free margarine, coconut oil or vegan butter¬†(if you use the oil or vegan butter, the crust will hold together better; dairy-free margarine gives a more crumbly texture), melted
  • 20g cornflour
  • Finely grated rind and juice of 3 limes (if using lemon and lime, you want about 75ml juice and 7g zest for good flavour)
  • 90g caster sugar
  • 45ml diary-free single cream (such as soya or oat)
  • Natural green food colouring, optional
  • Lime zest, dairy-free white choc bar shavings and small berries to decorate
  1. Line a 12-cup jam tart tin with a double layer of cling film. Put the biscuit crumbs in a bowl and mix in the melted margarine, oil or butter until well mixed.
  2. Divide the mixture equally between the tins and press into each indent using the back of a teaspoon or small pastry case shaper. Chill for 30 minutes to set.
  3. For the filling, put the cornflour in a saucepan. Add the lime rind and gradually blend in the juice to make a smooth paste. Stir in 75ml cold water and the sugar.
  4. Heat gently, stirring, until the sugar dissolves, then slowly bring to the boil, stirring , and simmer gently for 1 minute until thickened. Remove from the heat, stir in the cream and a few drops food colouring if using. Cool for 10 minutes.
  5. Divide between the biscuit cases, tap the tin on the work top to level the filling and leave to cool. Chill for at least an hour before serving.

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    Making mini lime pies. Images: Kathryn Hawkins
  6. When ready to serve, carefully peel the pies from the cling film and place on a serving platter. Sprinkle with lime zest, white choc bar shavings and serve with mini berries such as wild strawberries.

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    Super citrusy mini lime pies. Images: Kathryn Hawkins

Banana and coconut bread (dairy-free; vegan)

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Banana and coconut bread. Image: Kathryn Hawkins

Summer has been slow to start here in central Scotland but it’s getting warmer at last, and we’ve had a beautiful blue sky day here today. With the increase in temperature, I find¬†it becomes difficult to keep fruit a room temperature and resort to putting things in the fridge which inevitably means loss of flavour. Bananas really don’t keep¬†for very long before they over-ripen and I prefer to eat them¬†a little on the under-ripe side so I seldom¬†want to eat them over the summer months. If the skin turns too yellow and brown-speckled then I know the texture is not going to be to my liking and¬†the banana is¬†destined for the baking bowl or a smoothie.

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Iced and coconut sprinkled. Image: Kathryn Hawkins

This week’s recipe is my turn-to bake for using up over-ripe bananas. Easy to make, it improves with keeping, and also freezes well. I call it “bread” because it has a lower fat content than a cake recipe,¬†although I usually serve it with an icing on top. Uniced, it is¬†delicious spread with your favourite margarine or nut butter. If you have a glut of ripe bananas, peel them and pop them in a freezer bag. They keep in the freezer for several months and,¬†once defrosted, will be easy to¬†mash up and add to cake mixes in the future.

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Just one slice. Image: Kathryn Hawkins

I found this lovely old loaf tin in a bric-a-brac sale recently. It’s been well used but I like the design on the metal-work. Lined with a paper tin liner, it bakes up a treat and has got many more years of baking life in it I’m sure.

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My new/old loaf tin. Image: Kathryn Hawkins

For the bread, I use a combination of coconut-based ingredients: yogurt, sugar and oil, but it works just as well using a plain dairy-free yogurt or a light soft brown sugar, and your favourite plant-based margarine or butter if you prefer things less nutty. I also use wholemeal spelt flour but traditional wheat flour would be fine too. Add some chocolate chips or chopped dried fruit for extra sweetness.

I¬†have been¬†working on a gluten-free version using coconut flour but I haven’t been able to get the right combination of other flours to give a moist crumb – coconut flour has a tendency to absorb a lot of moisture and can give bakes a dry texture. I’ll publish an update¬†when I¬†achieve something I’m happy with, so watch this space.

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Ripe bananas and coconut products. Images: Kathryn Hawkins

Ingredients

Serves: 8

  • 2-3 ripe bananas, peeled and mashed (you need about 250g mashed banana for good flavour and texture)
  • 100g dairy-free¬†coconut yogurt
  • 100ml dairy-free milk
  • 200g wholemeal spelt flour
  • 15g baking powder
  • 50g solid coconut oil
  • 100g coconut sugar

For the icing:

  • 125g icing sugar
  • ¬ľ tsp vanilla bean paste
  • 30g toasted raw coconut chips, to decorate
  1. Preheat the oven to 170¬įC, 150¬įC fan oven, gas 3. Line a 1kg loaf tin. Mix the banana with the yogurt and milk.
  2. Put the flour in a bowl and sift the baking powder on top. Mix well then rub in the coconut oil and stir in the sugar.
  3. Make a well in the centre and stir in the banana mixture to make a smooth, thick cake batter. Spoon into the loaf tin, smooth the top and bake for about 1 hour until firm to the touch and a skewer inserted into the centre comes out clean. Leave to cool for 10 minutes then transfer to a wire rack to cool completely.

    Banana_and_coconut_bread_mix_before_and_after_baking
    Before and after baking. Image: Kathryn Hawkins
  4. When cold, wrap and store for 24 hours before serving for better flavour and texture. To ice, sift the icing sugar into a bowl. Mix in 3-4 tsp warm water and the vanilla to make  smooth spreadable icing. Spread over the top of the loaf and sprinkle coconut chips.

    A_slice_of_iced_home-made_banana_and_coconut_bread
    Ready for the eating. Image: Kathryn Hawkins

Griddle cakes (gluten-free; dairy-free; vegan)

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Fresh out of the pan, a teatime treat. Image: Kathryn Hawkins

Every now and then I have a hankering for scones, but I have yet to bake a gluten-free version that makes the grade. However, this week’s recipe¬†is very similar in terms of ingredients to scones, but instead of the traditional oven baking, these “cakes”¬†are cooked in a frying pan. So good are they that¬†they have¬†now become¬†my gluten-free scone-alternative of choice and can be whipped up and cooked¬†in next to no time.

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Griddle cakes, a great alternative to gluten-free scones. Image: Kathryn Hawkins

For a few years, my family used to holiday in Wales, where I can remember enjoying  traditional Welsh cakes known as Cage Bach for the first time. Studded with currants, flavoured with the merest hint of spice, and served warm with butter, these were a very welcome and delicious teatime treat. Welsh cakes are traditionally cooked on a griddlestone, a heavy flat pan which sits directly on top of an open flame or stove top. They cook to a dense, but crumbly texture and are extremely moreish.

My recipe this week for griddle cakes  is an homage to my Welsh ancestry and yet another happy childhood foodie memory.

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My homage to the Welsh cake. Image: Kathryn Hawkins

Makes: 7-8

Ingredients

  • 175g gluten-free plain flour blend + extra for dusting (If you are not gluten-free, use traditional wheat plain flour for a more authentic texture)
  • 10g gluten-free baking powder
  • ¬Ĺ tsp ground cinnamon
  • ¬Ĺ tsp salt
  • 70g white vegetable fat or coconut oil + extra for greasing
  • 70g caster sugar
  • 70g currants
  • 60-70g plain unsweetened dairy-free yogurt
  1. Sift the flour, baking powder, cinnamon and salt into a bowl. Rub in the fat until well blended. Stir in the sugar and currants.
  2. Add sufficient yogurt to make a softish dough. Turn on to a lightly floured surface and knead gently until smooth and well blended.
  3. Either press or roll the dough to a thickness of 1cm. Using a 7cm round cookie cutter,¬†cut out 7 rounds, re-pressing or rolling the dough trimmings as necessary. I like¬†to cook the rounds at 1cm¬†thickness¬†so that¬†the cakes have a dense texture in the middle. If you roll out the dough¬†to ¬Ĺ-¬ĺ cm depth, you should make 8 cakes, and the resulting cakes¬†will be crisper all the way through.
  4. Very lightly grease a flat griddle pan or large frying pan with a little fat and heat until melted. Place the cakes in the pan, reduce the heat to low and cook the cakes for 8-10 minutes on each side, taking care not to burn the outside – lift up the edge of 1 or 2 to check, and lower the heat further as necessary.
  5. Transfer to a wire rack to cool a little. Best served warm, spread with dairy-free butter and your favourite jam. Yummy ūüôā
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    Preparing and cooking griddle cakes. Images: Kathryn Hawkins

    The cakes are best eaten on the day of cooking but they freeze well and defrost in next to no time. You can reheat them successfully by popping them in a low oven for a few minutes to heat through.

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    Griddle cake with butter and jam. Image: Kathryn Hawkins