Plum, sloe and apple cheese (naturally gluten-free and vegan)

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Homemade plum, sloe and apple cheese. Image: Kathryn Hawkins

Hello again. I have a very seasonal recipe to share with you this week. I have been out and about enjoying the autumnal colours. On one of my walks, I was fortunate enough to find some sloe berries still in situ on a wild blackthorn hedge. They were growing so thickly that they looked like bunches of grapes. I had a small bag with me and was able to fill it with a precious harvest of these dark blue-skinned fruits with their fine silvery bloom.

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Scottish sloe foraging. Images: Kathryn Hawkins

Finding the sloes coincided with the last few Victoria plums ripening in the garden, and the beginning of the apple season. What better way to use them all than to combine them in a delicious thick and fruity preserve, the perfect colour to match the season.

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End of the season Victoria plums and new season Lord Derby cooking apples. Images: Kathryn Hawkins

I have posted a similar recipe to this one, before using only plums. You can find the recipe here: Plum and bay membrillo (naturally gluten-free and vegan) This year’s version is very fruity and makes a delicious sweet treat on its own or with cream or yogurt. Serve it as an accompaniment to roasted, grilled or barbecued food, and if you eat cheese, it’s good served with just about any variety.

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Sugar-coating fruit cheeses. Image: Kathryn Hawkins

I set the fruit cheese in individual silicone moulds and dusted them with more sugar; the remaining cheese went into a ramekin dish. Choose anything heatproof like a tin or ovenproof dish; line the container and then once it is cold you can slice it or turn it out. Keep the cheese wrapped up in the fridge for up to a month or it can be frozen. Set in a pretty little dish, I think it would make a lovely edible gift – if you can bring yourself to hand it over to anyone else!

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Sugar-coated fruit cheese. Image: Kathryn Hawkins

Makes: approx. 750g

Ingredients

  • 275g plums, stones removed, chopped
  • 275g sloes, washed
  • 500g cooking apples, cored and chopped
  • approx. 550g granulated white sugar + extra for dusting (optional)

1. Put all the fruit in a large saucepan and pour over 200ml water. Bring to the boil, cover and then simmer for 15-20 minutes until very soft.

2. Mash the fruit and push through a nylon sieve positioned over a large bowl until you have only dry matter left in the sieve. Weigh the purée. My yield was around 850g of fruit purée.

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Cooking the fruit for cheese. Images: Kathryn Hawkins

3. Clean the saucepan and put the purée back inside. Bring to the boil and cook, stirring occasionally, for about 20 minutes to reduce the pulp by about one third – it should be thick enough to hold a “slice” in the bottom of the sauce.

4. To make the preserve, you need to stir in the same quantity of white sugar to the amount of thickened purée – I had 550g purée so I added 550g white sugar.

5. Stir the mixture until the sugar dissolves and then bring back to the boil and continue cooking for a further 20 minutes, stirring frequently to prevent the mix sticking on the bottom of the pan, until very thick. If you have a jam thermometer, cook the mixture to 105°C. I use a spatula for the stirring because it gets right into the edges of the pan which helps to prevent the mixture sticking and burning.

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Cooking the fruit purée. Images: Kathryn Hawkins

6. Working quickly, spoon the mixture into whatever you have chosen to set the cheese. As the mixture cools, it becomes thicker and more solidified making it more challenging to shape. However, you can reheat the mixture gently to soften it if you need to.

7. Allow the cheese to cool and set completely before attempting to turn it out or to slice it. I would suggest chilling it for an hour after cooling if you want to turn it out cleanly.

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Moulding and unmoulding the fruit cheese. Images: Kathryn Hawkins

If you are making individual cheeses, you will find that a sugar coating sticks easily to the surface. Simple sprinkle over or gently roll the cheeses in a pile of sugar. The sugar coating does make smaller pieces easier to wrap in waxed paper and helps prevent the cheese sticking to the wrapping.

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Fruit cheeses up close. Image: Kathryn Hawkins

I hope you have a good few days ahead and that you are able to get out and about to enjoy the beautiful shades of the season. Until next time, my best wishes to you 🙂

Just peachy: Peach and almond bake (gluten-free; dairy-free, vegan)

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Fresh out of the oven. Image: Kathryn Hawkins

Hello everyone. I hope life is treating you well. Time for a foodie post this week, and something to celebrate the fabulous fruit around at the moment. I picked Victoria plums from the garden last weekend and have been busy making compote and jam, and it won’t be long now until the apples and pears are ripe and ready. One of the most delicious fruits I have eaten recently have been fresh peaches (sadly not homegrown). As well as enjoying them just as they are in all their juicy-sweet deliciousness, I made this bake which I thought to share with you.

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Just peaches. Image: Kathryn Hawkins

The bake will work with other seasonal fruits like plums and greengages – you’ll just need to adjust the sweetness accordingly. As well as adding flaked almonds to the topping, I have added my beloved marzipan but this can be left out and sweeten the topping with sugar instead. If you’re not an almond fan, try pecans or toasted hazelnuts and maple syrup, and add finely grated orange rind or vanilla extract for extra flavour.

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Preparing fresh peaches. Images: Kathryn Hawkins

I did struggle a bit to remove the stones from the fruit as they were a little bit soft, so slightly less ripe work better for neat slices. I add lemon juice to the slices before sweetening as I find that peaches often discolour when cooked.

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Looking peachy. Image: Kathryn Hawkins

Serves: 6

Ingredients

  • 6 firm to ripe peaches
  • Juice of 1 lemon
  • 2 tbsp caster sugar
  • 1 tbsp cornflour (cornstarch)

For the topping:

  • 150g gluten-free plain flour blend
  • 75g dairy-free block margarine (or butter), cut into pieces
  • A pinch of salt
  • 75g marzipan, grated
  • 50g toasted flaked almonds
  • 15g chopped pistachios

1. Preheat the oven to 200°C, 180°C fan oven, gas 6. Wash and pat dry the peaches, then cut in half and remove the stones. Cut into thick slices and place in a baking dish. Toss in the lemon juice to help prevent browning. Set aside.

2. For the topping, put the flour in a bowl and add the margarine and salt. Rub the margarine into the flour until well blended. Stir in the marzipan making sure it is well distributed and then stir in the flaked almonds.

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Almond topping preparation. Images: Kathryn Hawkins

3. Mix the sugar and cornflour (cornstarch) into the peaches and sprinkle the topping over the fruit. Put the dish on a baking tray and bake for 30-35 minutes until lightly golden. Best served warm, sprinkled with pistachios.

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Peaches and almond topping. Images: Kathryn Hawkins
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Inside peach and almond bake. Images: Kathryn Hawkins

That’s all for another week. I hope enjoy the recipe and I look forward to posting again in a few days time. Until then, take care and stay safe 🙂

Salal berries – jam and muffins (gluten-free; dairy-free; vegan)

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Freshly picked Scottish Salal berries. Image: Kathryn Hawkins

Hello again. I hope you are keeping well and enjoying the summer. I have made an interesting discovery since my last post. The berries I thought I had growing in my garden (and have been cooking for a few years each Summer) are not Aronia berries after all, they are in fact Salal or Shallon berries. Fortunately for me, they are edible – thank goodness! The shrub, like the blueberry, is part of the heather (Ericaceae) family and is called Gaultheria; it hails from north-west America, and seems very much at home here in central Scotland.

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Gaultheria Shallon. Image: Kathryn Hawkins
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Starry Salal berries. Image: Kathryn Hawkins

Gaultheria Shallon is evergreen and likes acidic soil. It is pretty invasive and has a tendency to spread all over the place. It throws up suckers which can be quite challenging to restrain. This August the shrubs in my garden have produced a bumper crop of berries which I (and the blackbirds) have been able to enjoy safe in the knowledge that I actually know what I’m cooking this year (!). The berries are deep purple and fleshy when ripe and have a soft bristly skin. They are quite difficult to pick individually so I pick small bundles and then strip the berries off the stalks later on.

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Stripping the berries from the stalks. Images: Kathryn Hawkins

When ripe, Salal berries are very soft and squishy. They are attached to the main stalk by tiny woody ends. I have found that using scissors to pull the berries from the stalks is quite successful. If you don’t mind blue-stained fingers, then you can also gently pinch them off. To eat, the skin is very tender and the centre of the berry is very pulpy and full of tiny seeds. The flavour is much like a watery blueberry but without the slight acidity/tannins in the skin. Salal berries have a high Vitamin C content and the leaves have anti-inflammatory properties, although I have yet to try this out.

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Washing Salal berries. Image: Kathryn Hawkins

After stripping the berries from the stalks, I put them in a large colander (strainer) and dunk them a few times in a large bowl of cold water. This gets rid of dust and the little bits of leaf and stem which get through your fingers. To cook with them, I treat them as I would blueberries but they do benefit from adding a little acidity such as lemon juice, which gives them a little extra tanginess.

If you are able to find some Salal berries or if you have them growing in your garden and didn’t realise what they were, I have a couple of basic recipes to share with you. The first is a very basic jam recipe (naturally gluten-free and vegan), and the second a gluten-free and vegan sweet muffin recipe; both recipes have been adapted from blueberry versions.

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Homemade Salal berry jam. Image: Kathryn Hawkins

Makes about 650g jam

Ingredients

  • 500g washed and prepared ripe Salal berries
  • 450g granulated sugar
  • Juice of 1 lemon

1. Put the berries in a large saucepan, heat gently until steam rises then cover with a lid and cook for about 10-15 minutes to soften.

2. Add the sugar and lemon juice, and cook gently, stirring, until the sugar dissolves, then raise the heat and boil rapidly for 8-10 minutes until setting point is reached – between 104°C and 105°C.

3. Ladle into clean, hot jam jars and seal well. Cool and label.

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Making Salal berry jam. Images: Kathryn Hawkins
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Fresh out of the pot, Salal berry jam. Images: Kathryn Hawkins
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Salal berry muffins. Image: Kathryn Hawkins

Makes: 12

Ingredients

  • 175g gluten-free plain flour blend
  • 12g gluten-free baking powder
  • 100g ground almonds
  • 100g soft light brown sugar
  • 60g plain plant-based yogurt
  • 115g dairy-free margarine, melted
  • 150ml plant-based milk
  • 2 tsp vanilla extract
  • 165g washed and prepared Salal berries

1. Preheat the oven to 200°C, 180°C fan oven, gas 6. Line 12 muffin tins with paper cases.

2. Put all the dry ingredients in a bowl and mix well, pressing out any lumps in the flour and sugar. Make a well in the centre.

3. Add the yogurt, melted margarine, milk and vanilla and mix into the dry ingredients to make a thick smooth batter. Gently fold in the berries.

4. Divide between the muffin cases and bake for about 25 minutes until risen and lightly golden. Cool on a wire rack and store in an airtight container. They should keep for 3-4 days, and will freeze well.

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Making Salal berry muffins. Images: Kathryn Hawkins
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Muffins cooling. Image: Kathryn Hawkins
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Light, crumbly and very fruity. Image: Kathryn Hawkins

I hope you have a good few days ahead. I look forward to posting again soon. Until then, take care and stay well.

Seasonal vegetable salad (gluten-free; dairy-free; vegan)

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My homegrown seasonal vegetable salad. Image: Kathryn Hawkins

Hello again everyone. I hope you are keeping well and enjoying the summer. I’ve had a busy few days at work and in the garden. Everything is growing fast after several days of fine weather. The garden and greenhouse have reached “peak vegetable” with runner beans, courgettes, cucumbers and carrots all ready at the same time. It seemed a fitting choice for my post this week to make up a recipe using this selection of delicious homegrown vegetables.

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Full of fresh flavours, warm vegetable salad. Image: Kathryn Hawkins

This year, I have runner beans growing in 3 large pots this year in the garden; courgettes in the greenhouse along with a couple of mini cucumber plants, and deep containers of carrots which I’m pleased to say are thriving.

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Barrel-grown Scarlet Emperor runner beans. Images: Kathryn Hawkins
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Ridged courgettes. Images: Kathryn Hawkins
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Mini Munch cucumbers, July 2021. Images: Kathryn Hawkins
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Container-grown Purple Sun carrots. Image: Kathryn Hawkins

My salad this week is very simple. A selection of griddled vegetables mixed in a piquant caper and olive dressing served with fresh cucumber and a sprinkle of chopped carrot tops. Serve it warm or allow it to go cold. Enjoy it as a light meal with crusty bread or serve it as a main dish with freshly cooked grains. Sprinkle with toasted seeds or chopped roasted nuts for extra crunch. Lovely fresh flavours and a real taste of summer. Here’s the recipe.

Serves: 4

Ingredients

  • 225g runner beans
  • 325g small to medium-sized carrots
  • Salt
  • 1 large courgette
  • Vegetable oil for brushing griddle pan
  • 1 mini cucumber, sliced
  • 1 or 2 fresh carrot tops, washed and chopped (or use chopped parsley or coriander)

For the dressing:

  • 2 tbsp vegetable oil (I used cold pressed rapeseed oil)
  • 1 banana shallot, peeled and finely chopped
  • 1 garlic clove, peeled and crushed
  • 2 tbsp white balsamic vinegar plus extra to serve
  • 2 tsp maple syrup
  • 2 tbsp capers in brine, drained and chopped
  • Handful of pitted green olives, chopped

1. Peel the sides of the runner beans to remove any strings, and remove the stalk end. Cut into lengths about 6cm long. Peel and trim the carrots, cut in half or in pieces, making sure all the slices are about the same thickness.

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Runner bean and purple carrot preparations. Images: Kathryn Hawkins

2. Cook the beans in lightly salted boiling water for barely 2 minutes, to soften slightly, then drain, cool and pat dry. Cook the carrots the same way for 3-5 minutes depending on thickness. Drain, cool and pat dry. Slice the courgette into even thickness pieces.

3. Brush a griddle pan with a little oil and heat until very hot then arrange the vegetables in batches in a single layer on top. I use a potato masher to press the vegetables on to the griddle in order to achieve a good colour. Turn the vegetables over using tongs. The beans will take 1-2 minutes on each side, the carrots and courgettes 2-3 minutes. Brush the griddle with more oil as necessary. Arrange the cooked vegetables in a heatproof dish, cover and keep warm while you make the dressing.

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Griddling veg. Images: Kathryn Hawkins

4. Heat the oil in a small saucepan and stir fry the shallot and garlic for 2-3 minutes, then cover with the lid and cook gently for 5 minutes to soften. Turn off the heat and stir in the remaining ingredients. Pour the warm dressing over the vegetables and mix well. Leave to stand for 10 minutes if serving warm or leave to cool completely.

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Dressing the griddled vegetables. Images: Kathryn Hawkins

5. Pile the vegetables on to a serving platter and scatter with cucumber and carrot tops. Serve warm or cold with extra white balsamic vinegar.

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Seasonal salad close-up. Image: Kathryn Hawkins

Until my next post, I wish you fine weather and good health. I hope to see you again in a couple of weeks.

Raspberry and almond shorties (gluten-free; dairy-free; vegan)

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Freshly dusted shorties. Image: Kathryn Hawkins

Hello everyone. I hope you are enjoying some sunshine. It’s been incredibly hot here in the UK these past few days, lots of blue sky and high temperatures. I have been outside enjoying the warmth but also seeking the shadier parts of the garden to work in. I have lots of produce to water as well, so I am hoping for some (night-time) rain to refill the water butts again.

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Ripe and ready for picking, this year’s homegrown Scottish raspberries. Images: Kathryn Hawkins

My recipe post this week is inspired by one of the best and most successful home-grown Scottish fruits, the raspberry. I have been picking a bowlful a day for the past week or so, enjoying some for breakfast and putting the rest in the freezer, ready for jam making later in the year.

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Freshly picked July Scottish raspberries. Image: Kathryn Hawkins
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Berry nice shorties. Image: Kathryn Hawkins

This is a very simple recipe. The texture of these little fruity bakes lives up to their name, it is incredibly short, crumbly and melt-in-the-mouth. The Shorties are best eaten from the cases. You could try adding a little xanthan gum to the mixture for a firmer bite, but I love the crumbliness. They are also very moreish – you have been warned.

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Pretty pink cake cases. Images: Kathryn Hawkins

I use smaller cake cases for this recipe, so not the large muffin or cup-cake size. These are the cases you would use for fairy cakes or small buns. You can see from the image above that the cases don’t quite fit the depth of the muffin tins. However, I like to use the deeper tins to hold the cases as the deeper sides give support to the cases while the mixture bakes.

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Raspberry and beetroot jam. Image: Kathryn Hawkins

You can use any jam you like for the filling. I made some reduced sugar raspberry jam using a recipe I posted last year. It replaces some of the sugar with cooked beetroot. You can find the recipe here if you fancy trying some. One other thing to mention is that most of the jam added before baking will become buried once the mixture cooks, so you might want to add some more on top along with a few more almonds just before serving.

Makes: 12

Ingredients

  • 75g white vegetable fat (such as Trex) or coconut oil, softened
  • 75g dairy-free margarine, softened
  • 1 teasp good quality vanilla extract
  • 100g gluten-free plain flour blend (such as Doves Farm) + extra for dusting
  • 50g ground almonds
  • 25g cornflour (cornstarch)
  • 45g icing sugar + extra for dusting
  • 3g gluten-free baking powder
  • 150g your favourite jam
  • 40g toasted flaked almonds

1. Preheat the oven to 200°C, 180°C fan oven, gas 6. Line 12 muffin tins with paper cake cases (fairy cake size).

2. Mix together all the ingredients except the jam and flaked almonds until smooth and creamy. Spoon into a piping bag fitted with a 1.5cm diameter plain nozzle.

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Making the shortie batter. Images: Kathryn Hawkins

3. Pipe an approx. 3cm diameter mound in each paper case. If you don’t want to pipe the mixture, use a teaspoon to spoon the mixture into the cases instead and then smooth the tops.

4. Dust the end of a wooden spoon with more flour and use to make a neat pocket in the centre of each.

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Filling the cases. Images: Kathryn Hawkins

5. Spoon about 1 teaspoon of jam into each and sprinkle with a few flaked almonds. Bake for about 20 minutes until lightly golden. Leave to cool for about 20 minutes to firm up before transferring to a wire rack to cool completely.

6. Just before serving, top with a little more jam and a few more flaked almonds, then dust lightly with icing sugar and serve. The Shorties will keep in a sealed container for 4-5 days but the texture will soften.

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Shorties ready to eat. Image: Kathryn Hawkins
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Inside a shortie. Image: Kathryn Hawkins

That’s me for another week. I hope you enjoyed my post and I look forward to seeing you again in a couple of weeks. Until then, take care and keep safe.

Steamed sesame buns (gluten-free; dairy-free; vegan)

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Gluten-free sesame steamed buns. Image: Kathryn Hawkins

Hello again. I hope you are well. I’ve had a busy few days since my last post and been “enjoying” some unseasonal British summer weather (!) which has meant more time indoors that I would usually have at this time of year. No matter, I have a delicious recipe for you this week, and one which I have been working on for a while. I hope you will be tempted to give it a try. The texture of the buns is light, soft and chewy and has a slight sweetness as well as a savoury nuttiness from adding sesame oil and topping with seeds.

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Steamed sesame bun texture. Image: Kathryn Hawkins

This is one of the easiest gluten-free bread doughs to make and cook. The buns are very versatile and can be filled with anything you fancy – sweet or savoury. Leave the sesame oil and seeds out if you prefer – just replace the oil with your favourite vegetable oil instead. Enjoy them for a light lunch or supper, but eat them warm or hot as the fluffy, chewy texture is lost once the buns cool, although they can be quickly reheated in the microwave or steamer.

Makes: 4

Ingredients

  • 75g cornflour
  • 50g tapioca flour
  • 50g white rice flour
  • 50g glutinous rice flour
  • ¼ tsp salt
  • 2 tbsp caster sugar
  • ½ tsp baking powder
  • 1 tsp fast-action dried yeast
  • 1 ½ tsp sesame oil
  • 1 ½ tsp sunflower oil
  • 125ml + 1 tbsp plant-based milk, slightly warm
  • 2 tbsp toasted sesame seeds or combination of white and black seeds

To serve:

  • Teriyaki asparagus and sprouting broccoli, rainbow salad and sesame mayonnaise – see below

1. Put the flours in a bowl and mix in the salt, sugar and baking powder until well blended. Mix in the yeast thoroughly.

2. Make a well in the centre and add the oils and gradually mix in 125ml milk to form a soft, but not sticky, ball of dough.

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Basic steamed bun dough ingredients. Image: Kathryn Hawkins

3. Turn on to the work top and knead gently until smooth then put back in the bowl, cover with cling film or a clean, damp tea-towel and put in a warm place for 1 to 1½ hours until well risen.

4. Divide into 4 equal pieces and shape each into a smooth, approx. 7cm round.

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Shaping the dough. Images: Kathryn Hawkins

5. Cut a cross in the centre of each, about ½cm deep. Brush lightly with remaining milk and sprinkle the tops with seeds. Place on a lined tray, cover lightly with oiled cling film and leave in a warm place for about 40 minutes until risen.

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Finishing touches before steaming. Images: Kathryn Hawkins

6. Meanwhile, preheat your steamer or bring a saucepan of water to the boil and place a steaming compartment on top. Line the steamer with baking parchment or edible rice paper. Add the buns, cover and steam for about 25 minutes until risen and firm to the touch. The outside will be a little sticky Transfer to a wire rack to cool for about 10 minutes to firm up and dry before slicing with a serrated knife to fill. Best served warm.

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Cooking the buns. Images: Kathryn Hawkins

The filling I chose for these buns was thin asparagus and sprouting broccoli stems stir fried in a little oil for about 5 minutes, then turn off the heat, add 1 tbsp gluten-free teriyaki sauce or soy sauce, cover and stand for 5 minutes.

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Asparagus and sprouting broccoli flavoured with teriyaki. Image: Kathryn Hawkins

I also made a rainbow salad using my latest kitchen gadget which shreds vegetables into fine ribbon slices, but you can grate the vegetables just as easily. I combined carrot, radish and cucumber and added a few chopped home-grown chives.

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Rainbow salad vegetables. Image: Kathryn Hawkins

And, for a finishing touch, I flavoured readymade vegan mayonnaise with a few drops of sesame oil and some teriyaki sauce. Perfect 🙂

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Dressed and ready for eating. Image: Kathryn Hawkins

That’s me for another week. Until my next post, take care and keep safe.

Baked spiced golden carrots (gluten-free; dairy-free; vegan)

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Spiced golden carrots with carrot top and coriander dressing. Image: Kathryn Hawkins

Hello there. It’s another “golden” post from me this week, all be it a recipe-led one rather than one from my garden. To be honest, I had intended this to be a “rainbow carrot” feature but Mother Nature stepped in and things turned out a little different to what I was expecting. Let me explain.

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Rainbow carrot seeds. Image: Kathryn Hawkins

Back in September last year, I decided to experiment by sowing some carrots seeds as a late crop. All being well, I should end up with baby carrots in the early winter. I chose a rainbow mix, and planted them in 2 trench-style containers in the (unheated) greenhouse. I was delighted when they started growing, but as the daylight hours dwindled, and the temperature cooled, the seedlings, unsurprisingly, stopped growing.

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From December 2020 through to April and June 2021, overwintering carrots. Images: Kathryn Hawkins

I decided to leave them alone and allowed them to overwinter in the same spot in the greenhouse. Nothing much happened until the weather warmed up in March this year when the seedlings started growing again. By April they were thriving so I put the pots outside. With the benefit of hindsight, the carrots were probably ready for pulling about a month ago, but nevertheless, this month, I finally enjoyed a bunch of homegrown carrots with fine flavour, all be they with a distinct lack of rainbow 🙂

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Golden carrot harvest. Image: Kathryn Hawkins

Only white and yellow carrots grew, although there was one orange one which didn’t quite make the grade for this recipe. It had split and grown in a very strange shape, much like a crossed pair of legs. It went in a salad instead and tasted delicious.

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One wee wonky carrot. Image: Kathryn Hawkins

On with the carrot recipe which uses up all parts of the vegetable. I peeled the carrots because they were a little hairy, but ideally homegrown carrots are best left unpeeled. I also wanted an excuse to make crispy carrot peelings which I love. I used some of the carrot tops in a dressing and the rest I am working my way through as a sprinkling over salads and soups. I keep them in a jug of water in the fridge; they last for several days if you change the water regularly. If you have carrots without the tops, you can make the dressing with all coriander instead. Give all parts of the carrot a good wash to remove grit, dust and soil from the ground.

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Carrot preparation. Images: Kathryn Hawkins

Serves: 2-3

Ingredients

  • 350g carrots, washed and peeled if preferred (don’t forget to keep the peelings!)
  • 1 tsp each coriander and cumin seeds, toasted and ground
  • 1 tbsp maple syrup + a little extra if you are going to cook the peelings
  • 4 tbsp cold pressed rapeseed oil (I chose this for the nutty flavour and golden colour, but any vegetable oil is fine) + a little extra for cooking the peelings
  • Sea salt
  • 15g carrot top leaves, washed (use the leafy fronds rather than the stalks which can be tough) + a few extra for garnish
  • 15g coriander leaves, washed
  • 2 garlic cloves, peeled and roughly chopped
  • ¼ tsp ground fenugreek (use a mild curry powder if this is unavailable)

1. Preheat oven to 200°C, 180°C fan oven, gas 6. If the carrots are different sizes, cut them into even sized pieces. My carrots were about 10cm long, and I simply cut them in half. Put in a roasting tin and sprinkle with half the toasted seeds.

2. Mix the maple syrup and 1 tbsp oil together and toss into the carrots. Season with salt, cover with foil and bake for 30 minutes.

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Toasting and grinding spices for baking carrots with maple syrup and rapeseed oil. Images: Kathryn Hawkins

3. Remove the foil, mix the carrots in the pan juices and return to the oven for a further 15 minutes, this time uncovered, until tender and lightly golden.

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Baked carrots straight out of the oven. Image: Kathryn Hawkins

4. While the carrots are cooking, make the dressing. Put the remaining ingredients in a blender or food processor and with the remaining toasted seeds and oil, and blitz until well blended. Season with salt to taste. Cover and leave at room temperature for the best flavour.

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Making carrot top and coriander dressing. Images: Kathryn Hawkins

5. If you want to cook the peelings, mix them with a drizzle of maple syrup and oil, then spread them out on a baking tray, season and bake for 10-15 minutes until crisp and golden. Drain on kitchen paper.

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Roasting carrot peelings. Images: Kathryn Hawkins

6. To serve, drain the carrots and arrange on a warm serving plate. Sprinkle with chopped carrot tops and serve with the dressing and crispy peelings.

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Carrots with dressing and crispy sprinkles. Image: Kathryn Hawkins

I have chosen to grow a purple variety of carrot this year, and the first seedlings are quite well advanced already. If all goes to plan you may well see another carrot-led post from me in a few weeks.

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Carrot top and coriander dressing. Images: Kathryn Hawkins

I hope you have a good few days ahead. Until my next post, take care and keep safe 🙂

Cherry Bakewell tart (gluten-free; dairy-free; vegan)

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Cherry Bakewell tart. Image: Kathryn Hawkins

As I sit down to write my post this week, I am looking out on a sunny garden, with blue sky and fluffy white clouds. This has been a rare sight this month. Here we are in the third week of May and the season feels like it is hardly shifting forward. In fact, at times it has felt that things were moving in retrograde with chilly strong winds, rain and grey skies.

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Classic almond-topped Bakewell tart. Image: Kathryn Hawkins

Time to cheer myself up with a spot of baking, and a Bakewell tart always hits the spot. I was spurred on by the sight of newly set cherries on the espaliered Morello cherry tree in the garden. After another bumper blossoming, I was very happy to see lots of fruits forming. All my fussing around with fleece last month to protect the blossom from frost has paid off. Fingers crossed.

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This year’s blossom and newly formed fruit. Images: Kathryn Hawkins

I still have some of last year’s precious harvest in the freezer. Morello cherries have a tart, tangy flavour and make an ideal companion for the sweet, rich almondy sponge in a Bakewell tart. This time I kept the tart plain and simple with a classic topping of flaked almonds for a bit of crunch. A few weeks ago I made a slightly more indulgent version with extra cherries and pistachio nuts – options for either version below.

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2020 Morello harvest on ice. Images: Kathryn Hawkins

Use whatever cherries you have for this recipe; fresh, canned or frozen will work fine. Other berry fruits will work as well such as blueberries, blackberries or raspberries, or try a layer of cooked apple and pear. The classic version is to spread the pastry base with jam; I find this a little too sweet nowadays, but it’s down to personal taste. If you find almond extract too overpowering, replace it with vanilla for a more subtle flavour. If you don’t want the bother of making your own pastry, use 325g ready-made gluten-free shortcrust.

Serves: 8

Ingredients

For the pastry:

  • 60g white vegetable fat, softened
  • 55g dairy-free margarine, softened
  • 50g caster sugar
  • 230g 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
  • 1/2 tsp vanilla extract

For the filling and topping:

  • 30g ground linseeds (flax seeds)
  • 125g dairy-free margarine, softened
  • 125g caster sugar
  • 125g ground almonds
  • 25g gluten-free plain flour
  • 1 tsp almond extract (use vanilla for a less almondy flavour)
  • 225g – 300g pitted cherries, thawed if frozen (or other prepared berries)
  • Flaked almonds or chopped pistachios to sprinkle
  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. Transfer the pastry to a lightly greased 23cm loose-based fluted or plain flan tin, 3-4cm deep. You may find it easier to transfer the pastry in pieces and patch it together in the tin.
  4. Trim the edge to neaten the edge and then chill the pastry for 30 minutes.
  5. Preheat the oven to 190°C, 170°C fan, Gas 5. Line the pastry case with baking parchment and fill with baking beans or raw rice (or dry pulses). Bake for 15 minutes. Stand for 5 minutes, then carefully remove the beans and peel away the paper. Prick the base and return to the oven for a further 15 minutes to set the pastry all over. Reduce the oven temperature to 180°C, 160°C fan, Gas 4.
  6. While the pastry is cooking, make up the filling. Put the ground linseeds in a bowl and stir in 90ml cold water. Leave to stand for about 10 minutes until thickened. Mix together the margarine, sugar, almonds, flour and almond extract until well blended, then stir in the linseed paste, to make a smooth, creamy mixture.
  7. Spread 225g cherries over the base of the pastry case and smooth the almond mixture on top. For a very cherry version, gently push another 75g cherries into the almond mixture. Sprinkle with generously flaked almonds or pistachios and put the tin on a baking tray. Bake for about 1hr until golden and firm to the touch. Leave to cool in the tin before removing.
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Making Cherry Bakewell tart. Images: Kathryn Hawkins
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Bakewell tart with extra cherries and chopped pistachios. Images: Kathryn Hawkins
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Classic Bakewell tart topped with crispy flaked almonds. Image: Kathryn Hawkins

I prefer to serve the tart at room temperature because I think it has more flavour, but it can be served warm as a pudding with cream or custard. I made a cherry sauce with the juices from the thawed cherries and a little fruit juice. Simply heated and thickened with cornflour. Any which way, this is bake is in my top 10 all-time favourite sweet treats.

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Bakewell tart with cherry sauce. Image: Kathryn Hawkins

All the best for now. See you again in a couple of weeks. Take care and keep safe 🙂

April rhubarb – 2 easy recipes (gluten-free; dairy-free; vegan)

Hello again. I hope you have been enjoying some good weather these past few days. At last we are enjoying frost-free nights and blue-sky days. Long may it last!

I have been able to pick my first few stalks of rhubarb. I didn’t force any plants this year, so I was delighted to find 5 stems ready for picking so early on in the season.

The week before this rhubarb was ready, I used up my last bag of frozen rhubarb from last summer. I combined it with some frozen ripe bananas I keep in the freezer for making loaf cakes and made a compote. It’s not the best-looking mixture you’ll come across but it tasted great. The sweetness of the banana helped to reduce the sugar content.

I put 450g frozen rhubarb in a saucepan with 230g frozen very ripe banana and cooked them over a low heat with the lid on for about 30 minutes until they had thawed and become very soft. Mix together until well combined. I added 4 tbsp white sugar gradually. Taste and sweeten in small amounts to keep sugar content to a minimum. Best eaten cold for maximum flavour – it makes a lovely breakfast bowl with homemade coconut granola and coconut yogurt. You could make this with fresh rhubarb and ripe bananas, and simply reduce the cooking time.

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Rhubarb and banana compote breakfast bowl. Image: Kathryn Hawkins

My second recipe is something I cooked up using the new season’s rhubarb. It is made from a very simple combination of ingredients I had in the fridge and freezer, and is something I was able to put together quickly.

Roll out 300g gluten-free rough puff or puff pastry (or you can use shortcrust if you prefer) to an approximate 25cm square. Trim to neaten the edges, and then keep the trimmings for decoration. Knead and roll 150g natural marzipan to an oblong about 8cm wide and place down the middle of the pastry. Top with 200g chopped fresh rhubarb (cut into 3cm long pieces) and spoon over 100g raspberry jam.

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Rhubarb plait preparation. Images: Kathryn Hawkins

Cut about 10 strips either side of the rhubarb, brush with a little dairy-free milk and fold over the top of the fruit, pressing together gently to seal together. Press the pastry at both ends together in order to seal the marzipan and fruit within.

Transfer to a lined baking tray, brush all over with 1 tbsp dairy-free milk mixed with 1 tbsp maple syrup. Decorate with any trimmings and brush these before baking in a preheated oven at 200°C, 180°C fan oven, gas 6 for about 40 minutes until lightly golden and crisp. Best served warm. Serves: 6

That’s me for another week. I have a busy few days ahead of me now so it will next month before I get to post again. Until then, take care, keep safe, and enjoy the spring sunshine 🙂

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

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Soy-braised cauliflower. Image: Kathryn Hawkins

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

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

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The mighty cauliflower. Image: Kathryn Hawkins

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

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Reviving cauliflower leaves. Images: Kathryn Hawkins

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

Here’s the rest of the recipe.

Serves: 2 to 4 as a main or side

Ingredients

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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