Baked summer fruit (naturally gluten-free; dairy-free; vegan)

Baked_rhubarb_with_strawberries
Baked Summer fruit. Images: Kathryn Hawkins

Hello again. I hope you are keeping well and are having a good summer. Since my last post, the UK, like the rest of Europe, has been subject to some very hot weather. Fortunately here, not for a particularly long spell as the high temperatures were unprecedented for this part of the world. It has cooled down again now and the air feels fresher and the sun less strong.

I was worried that the soft fruit in the garden would suffer in the heat. The rhubarb in particular likes a good soaking as well as the sunshine. I was pleased to see that it bounced back once the temperature dipped and we had some very welcome rain.

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Just picked, homegrown rhubarb. Image: Kathryn Hawkins

My recipe this week is a very simple one. I try to avoid putting the oven on in the hot weather, but I did make an exception for one of my favourite fruity combinations. Strawberries and rhubarb go together especially well, and when cooked with vanilla, I find the aroma and flavours is irresistible.

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Scottish rhubarb and strawberries. Images: Kathryn Hawkins

It has been a good year for Scottish strawberries. They have been juicy and have tasted fragrant and sweet. I didn’t grow these myself, they came from the local farm shop. I chose larger fruit to cook with the rhubarb as they hold their shape better in the oven.

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Homemade vanilla sugar. Image: Kathryn Hawkins

I always have a jar of vanilla sugar in the cupboard. I chop up bits of vanilla pod that is past its prime or dried out too much and add it to caster sugar. I keep it in a glass jar with a screw-top lid. Every now and then I give the jar a shake to distribute the vanilla pieces. Sift the sugar as you use it to remove the pod pieces but keep the bits trapped in the sieve and put them back in the jar along with a top up of sugar ready for next time. You can replenish your supply more or less indefinitely.

On with the recipe. I allow the fruit to cool after baking as I prefer the flavours when they are cold and the fruit is more refreshing, but it’s personal preference. The fruit makes a deliciously light dessert or breakfast compote served with yogurt and toasted cereals.

Serves: 6

Ingredients

  • 450g rhubarb
  • 50g vanilla or plain caster sugar – white sugar helps retain the colour of the fruit, but you may prefer to use brown for a more caramely flavour
  • 300g large fresh strawberries

1. Preheat the oven to 190°C, 170°C fan oven, gas 5. Wash and trim the rhubarb. Cut into even-thickness and same-length pieces – this will help with even cooking.

2. Place in an oven-proof dish and sprinkle over the sugar. Cover the top with foil and bake for 40 minutes.

Trimming_and_slicing_homegrown_rhubarb_ready_for_baking
Preparing rhubarb for baking with vanilla sugar. Images: Kathryn Hawkins

3. Meanwhile, wash and hull the strawberries and cut in half. Uncover the rhubarb and add the strawberries. Bake, uncovered, for a further 10 minutes until the fruit is just tender.

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Preparing Strawberries for baking. Images: Kathryn Hawkins

Leave to cool, then chill until ready to serve. Remove from the fridge about 30 minutes before serving to allow the flavours to develop. Delicious served with coconut yogurt.

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Baked fruit served with coconut yogurt. Image: Kathryn Hawkins

That’s me for another week or so. I can hardly believe we’re just about to enter the month of August. Until next time, take care and my best wishes to you 🙂

Gin and tonic shortbread (gluten-free; diary-free; vegan)

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Shortbread bunting. Image: Kathryn Hawkins

It is with a happy heart that I publish my post this week. Here in the UK and other Commonwealth countries, we are celebrating the 70 year reign of our Queen Elizabeth II this weekend. For my part, I have been inspired to give one of my favourite bakes a bit of a Platinum Jubilee twist 🙂

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Patriotic shortbread. Image: Kathryn Hawkins

This bake has a great combination of flavours for the time of year: lemon, lime and juniper as well as gin and tonic water in the icing. Leave out the gin and tonic if you prefer, and replace them fresh lemon or lime juice instead. If you are Coeliac, make sure the gin you use is gluten-free.

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Shortbread flavourings fit for a queen. Image: Kathryn Hawkins

I baked the shortbread in a tin in order to achieve a good shape, but if you don’t have the right size tin, you can simply bake the shortbread round on a baking tray as it is. If it isn’t a jubilee occasion, I would usually decorate the shortbread with a few cake sprinkles or some fresh lemon and lime rind. I have captured a few images of how I made up the Union Jack flag design in case you ever want to make your own version for another occasion.

Makes: 8 pieces

Ingredients

  • 100g lightly salted plant (or dairy) butter, softened
  • 50g caster sugar
  • Pinch of salt
  • 1tsp each finely grated lemon and lime rind
  • 8-10 juniper berries, finely crushed
  • 175g gluten-free plain flour blend

Icing

  • 175g icing sugar
  • 25ml gin and/or tonic water, or fresh lemon or lime juice

1. Beat the butter and sugar together until well blended and creamy. Mix in the salt, citrus rinds and juniper.

2. Add the flour and gradually work into the creamy mixture, then bring together with your hands to make a firm dough.

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Making the shortbread dough. Images: Kathryn Hawkins

3. Lightly flour the work surface and knead the dough gently until smooth. Form into a thick round piece and roll into an approx. 20cm round. If you are not using a tin, roll the mixture to form a 23cm round and neaten the edges.

4. For the tin version, base line a shallow 23cm cake tin and transfer the shortbread round to the tin, then press the dough right to the edge. Prick all over with a fork and chill for 30 minutes. Without a tin, transfer the shortbread round to a baking tray, prick with a fork and chill.

5. Preheat the oven to 180°C, 160°C fan oven, gas 4. Score the top of the chilled shortbread (about 1/3 the way through the dough) into 8 equal segments and bake for about 30 minutes until lightly golden. Cool for 5 minutes then carefully cut the segments all the way through and leave to cool in the tin or on the tray. Transfer to a wire rack.

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Shaping a shortbread round. Images: Kathryn Hawkins

6. For the icing, sift the icing sugar into a bowl and gradually stir in sufficient gin and tonic or lemon juice to form a smooth, thick, spreading icing.

7. Carefully spread the icing all over the top of each shortbread segment to cover and place on a board. If you prefer a smoother finish, add a little more G&T or juice to the icing so that you can spoon it over and let it drip down the sides of each piece – keep the shortbread on the wire rack for best results.

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Gin and tonic icing. Images: Kathryn Hawkins

8. If you are decorating with sprinkles or citrus zest, add the decoration before the icing sets. If you are using ready-to-roll icing to decorate the tops, let the icing set before decorating. Below are a few images of how I created the flag effect on top of the shortbread.

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Making an icing Union Jack. Images: Kathryn Hawkins

Whether you are celebrating or not this weekend, I hope you have a good time. Thanks for stopping by and I will hope to see you with my next post later on in the month.

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Melt in the mouth homemade iced shortbread. Image: Kathryn Hawkins

Spring rhubarb with white chocolate and coconut mousse (gluten-free; dairy-free; vegan)

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Rhubarb topped mousse. Image: Kathryn Hawkins

Hello again. How lovely it is to be well and truly in the season of spring, my favourite time of year. It is a joy to be out of doors and in among all the new growth and activity in the garden.

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May 2022, fist rhubarb harvest. Images: Kathryn Hawkins

Earlier in the month, I picked my first rhubarb of the season. It was a good harvest of tender, thin, colourful stems with a tangy, fruity flavour. My recipe this week is not so much about the rhubarb but about an indulgently, rich recipe to serve with this tasty seasonal treat.

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Mousse ingredients. Image: Kathryn Hawkins

My very simple combination of vegan white chocolate, plant-based cream, coconut and vanilla, lightened with aquafaba foam makes a very delicious mousse to serve with any acidic fruit. If you’re not vegan, dairy-based products will work fine. Leave out the foam if you want a denser more custardy texture. If you don’t want to use cream, replace the creamed coconut and plant-based cream with full fat or reduced fat coconut milk.

The mousse is very rich and can easily spread to 6 portions if you use small serving glasses. Here’s the recipe.

Serves: 4-6

Ingredients

  • 350g prepared rhubarb, cut into short lengths
  • 2-3tbsp caster sugar
  • 40g creamed or block coconut
  • approx. 60ml plant-based double cream
  • 1tsp vanilla bean paste
  • 300g free-from white chocolate
  • 100ml aquafaba (I used canned cannellini bean liquid)

1. Put the rhubarb in a shallow pan with 2tbsp sugar and 3tbsp water. Heat until steaming, then cover with a lid and cook gently for 10-15 minutes until tender. Cool slightly, taste and add more sugar if required. Leave to cool completely, then chill until ready to serve.

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May rhubarb on the hob. Images: Kathryn Hawkins

2. Shave the creamed coconut into thin pieces using a small sharp knife or vegetable peeler and put into a measuring jug. Spoon over 3tbsp boiling water and stir until dissolved. Make up to 100ml by adding sufficient plant-based cream. Stir in the vanilla paste.

3. Melt the chocolate in the microwave or in a bowl over barely simmering water. Keep warm.

4. In a clean, grease-free bowl, whisk the aquafaba for 4-5 minutes until thick and foamy – you should be able to leave a trace of the whisk in the foam when it is sufficiently whipped.

5. Mix the coconut cream into the warm melted chocolate until well blended and then gently fold in the whisked foam in several batches. The chocolate mixture will begin to thicken quite quickly once it starts to cool.

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White chocolate and coconut mousse prep. Images: Kathryn Hawkins

6. Divide the mousse between 4 or 6 serving glasses and leave to cool completely before chilling until ready to serve.

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Ready to set. Image: Kathryn Hawkins

Spoon cooked rhubarb on top of each mousse just before serving. Delicious 🙂

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Fruity and creamy. Image: Kathryn Hawkins

That’s me for another week. I will be posting again at the end of the month. Until then, enjoy marvellous May!

My last minute Simnel Cake (gluten-free; dairy-free; vegan)

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Happy Easter 2022. Image: Kathryn Hawkins

Happy Easter everyone. I hope you have a good Easter holiday. I’ve had a busy few weeks so Easter has crept up on me and caught me ill-prepared this year. Even though I am having a quiet one at home, I still wanted to do something to mark the occasion. Having no time to bake afresh, I set to this afternoon and transformed my stored and completely forgotten Christmas cake into a Simnel cake, ready to serve this weekend. And very successful it was to.

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Last minute Easter cake. Image: Kathryn Hawkins

If you fancy having a go yourself, this is what I did.

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Transforming Christmas into Easter. Images: Kathryn Hawkins
  • Slice a 20cm gluten-free, dairy-free, vegan fruit cake in half and brush both sides with a little apricot jam. Roll out 200g marzipan to fit the cake and place on one half.
  • Sandwich together with the other piece of cake. Turn the cake upside down and brush with more jam. Roll out a further 200g marzipan to fit the top. I embossed the top using an engraved rolling pin before laying on top of the cake.
  • Roll 11 x 15g marzipan balls for the top of the cake and either brown lightly under the grill or with a kitchen blow torch. Arrange on top of the cake and serve decorated with mini eggs and fresh primroses.
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My Cheat’s Simnel cake close-up. Image: Kathryn Hawkins
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Easter in a slice. Image: Kathryn Hawkins

Until next time, enjoy the colours and flavours of this wonderful season. See you again soon 🙂

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Easter primroses from my garden. Image: Kathryn Hawkins

Sticky rice rolls (gluten-free; dairy-free; vegan)

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Vegan sticky rice rolls. Images: Kathryn Hawkins

I’ve been wanting to have a go at making my own sushi-style sticky rice rolls for some time, but have never quite got round to it. But having the right combination of ingredients at last, I have finally been able to experiment, and I am very pleased with the results. Sushi Master I am not, but hopefully good enough to tempt you into giving my easy recipe and method a try.

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Rainbow rice rolls. Image: Kathryn Hawkins

The basic “must-have” ingredients are sheets of dried seaweed called Sushi Nori – I used 19 x 21cm sheets made by Clearspring. They have a rougher-textured side and a shiny side. Shiny side faces down when you make up the rolls. The sheets are dry and fairly crisp until you put the rice and filling on them, and then they soften and form a tasty edible wrapping for the rolls.

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Dried nori seaweed sheets. Images: Kathryn Hawkins

For the filling, you need sushi rice or sticky rice. This is a short-grain variety which is very starchy so when it is cooked it clumps together. You can use other grains but they probably won’t cling together enough for neat slicing. I should imagine that Chinese glutinous rice and Arborio rice might also work but you’d need to do some experimenting with cooking times to make sure they don’t overcook and become mushy.

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Sushi rice in the raw. Images: Kathryn Hawkins

How you season the freshly cooked rice is up to personal taste. I do like the traditional subtle Japanese flavours of mirin and white rice vinegar. I also added a little sesame oil for some nuttiness, and of course a little salt and sugar for classic seasoning.

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Seasonings for sticky rice. Images: Kathryn Hawkins

And finally, the filling. This needs to be thinly sliced and quite flexible for easy rolling. The key to a good roll is not to overfill it and to keep the covering nice and even. I went for thin ribbons of vegetables which I prepared with a vegetable peeler. Grated vegetables would also work in a thin layer. Other things to try could be a sprinkling of toasted seeds; some thinly sliced or grated smoked tofu, or mashed avocado.

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Rainbow carrots. Images: Kathryn Hawkins

Makes: 12

Ingredients

  • 125g raw sushi rice
  • 1 tbsp mirin
  • 1 tsp white rice vinegar
  • 1 tsp caster sugar
  • ½ tsp sesame oil
  • ½ tsp sea salt
  • 2 sheets sushi nori
  • A few thin strips of rainbow carrots and cucumber (approx. 22 carrot and 8 cucumber)
  • Dipping sauce to serve – I mixed sesame oil with mirin, a little salt and sugar and freshly chopped chives
  1. First prepare the rice. Rinse the rice several times in cold water. Drain and put in a saucepan with 200ml cold water. Bring to the boil, cover and simmer gently for 10 minutes until the water is absorbed. Turn off the heat and leave to stand for 15 minutes.

2. Mix together the mirin, vinegar, sugar, oil and salt. Stir into the rice and leave to cool.

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Sticky rice preparation and cooking. Images: Kathryn Hawkins

3. Lay a piece of parchment just bigger than the nori sheet on a dry silicone mat or chopping board. Lay the nori, shiny-side down, on top and spoon over half the rice.

4. Carefully spread the rice over the seaweed, leaving 1cm clear at one end and at both sides. At the other end, leave a 2cm gap where the roll will finish. Make sure that the rice is evenly spread and flattened.

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Ready to roll. Images: Kathryn Hawkins

5. Lay the filling neatly on top. Using the parchment to help you, begin rolling from the near edge, keeping the filling in place with your fingers. Roll firmly without pressing to avoid squashing the filling. Once rolled, wrap the parchment around the roll completely and chill for at least an hour before slicing. Repeat with the remaining ingredients to make up another roll.

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Sticky rice roll filling and rolling. Images: Kathryn Hawkins

6. When ready to serve, unwrap the rolls and discard the parchment. Slice off any overhanging vegetables from each end to neaten, then ussing a sharp knife, cut each roll into 6 slices.

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Rolled rolls before and after trimming. Images: Kathryn Hawkins

Your sticky rice rolls are now ready to serve. I arranged mine on a serving platter with the dipping sauce in the middle. I cut out some flower shapes from thin carrot slices and added a few chives to garnish.

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Rice roll sliced in half. Image: Kathryn Hawkins

I love the colours of the rainbow carrot and cucumber combination, very cheery for the soul, healthy and delicious to eat on a spring day for or a picnic.

That’s me for another month. Until next time, take care and keep safe.

Cauliflower greens with creamy wild garlic sauce (Gluten-free; dairy-free; vegan)

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Cauliflower greens with creamy, wild garlic sauce. Image: Kathryn Hawkins

It really does feel like spring has sprung. This week, I have been out picking my first wild garlic of the season from the banks of the River Earn here in Perthshire. And what better way to use this wonderful natural freebie, than a thrifty recipe idea which helps you reduce food waste as well. If you are out picking wild garlic over the next few weeks, only pick 1 or 2 leaves from well established plants, and only in an area where there are plenty of plants growing.

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New season Scottish wild garlic. Images: Kathryn Hawkins

Since I realised how delicious cauliflower greens are, I have been choosing the vegetable untrimmed and with as much foliage as possible. The leaves often look a bit wilted and sad, but after popping them in a bowl of cold water, they plump up again in no time. Rinse and drain, and then they are ready to use just like spring greens or cabbage.

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Reviving cauliflower leaves. Images: Kathryn Hawkins

My recipe this week is based around the greenery and stalks of the cauliflower, so you can use the creamy curds for something else. If you want some inspiration, here are some links to other cauliflower recipe posts on my blog: Soy-braised cauliflower (gluten-free; dairy-free; vegan) and Cauliflower – the king of winter vegetables – 3 recipe ideas (gluten-free; dairy-free; vegan)

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Preparing cauliflower stalks and leaves. Images: Kathryn Hawkins

Once you have revived the cauliflower greens, slice or rip the leafy part from the stalks. Trim the stalks and get rid of any damaged bits, then chop finely. Shred up the leaves and set aside. I ended up with 270g leaves and stalks from one smallish cauliflower.

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Washing and prepping wild garlic leaves. Images: Kathryn Hawkins

Always wash wild garlic very well in plenty of cold water. Drain and shake dry – I find my salad spinner useful for this. Trim and shred the leaves for immediate use, or put whole washed leaves in a food bag or sealable container in the fridge for up to 4-5 days.

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Celery and leek for extra flavour. Images: Kathryn Hawkins

The other ingredients for the base of the sauce are some chopped celery stalks – you can see that this one had been in the bottom of my fridge for a while ! (By the way, I ate the celery leaves in a salad) Once trimmed and chopped, I had about 90g celery stalks. I also sliced up a large leek.

Here’s the very simple recipe method to make enough sauce for 3-4 portions:

  1. Melt 25g plant butter with 1tbsp olive oil or other vegetable oil until bubbling, then add the chopped cauliflower stems, celery and leek; season with salt and ground black pepper and stir for 1 minute until well mixed. Turn the heat down to low, cover and cook gently for 10 minutes to soften
  2. Mix in the cauliflower leaves, re-cover and cook gently for 5 more minutes.
  3. Finally, add about 40g chopped wild garlic leaves and 150ml plant-based double cream – add more if you want a looser consistency. Stir over a low heat for 3-4 minutes until wilted down, then cover, turn off the heat and let stand for 10 minutes before serving.
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Adding_cauliflower_leaves_and_wild_garlic_to_sauce_base
This 6 stages of sauce. Images: Kathryn Hawkins
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Creamy greens ready to serve. Image: Kathryn Hawkins

And that’s it. A delicious green sauce for serving over pasta or rice, or as an accompaniment to griddled cauliflower steaks or roast cauliflower florets. If you don’t have access to wild garlic, add a couple of crushed garlic cloves to the sauce base at the beginning.

Until next time, enjoy Spring, happy foraging, and take care 🙂

Freezer berry jam (naturally gluten-free; dairy-free; vegan)

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Freezer berry jam. Image: Kathryn Hawkins

Hello again. It’s the time of year for me when I try and use up as much from the freezer as I can, both for reasons of economy and also to make sure there is room for any new season produce that comes along. In the past few days, the freezer fruit drawer has attracted my attention; the jam pan came out of the cupboard and another cooking session began.

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Frozen Summer berries from 2021. Images: Kathryn Hawkins

I wasn’t that sure how the jam would taste if I put all the berries I had in one pot. I always have lots of raspberries from the garden but last year also produced some great hedgerow blackberries as well as homegrown salal berries and a few strawberries I decided to freeze down. I settled on 2 combinations: raspberry, strawberry and blackberry, and raspberry with salal berries. I made 2 separate batches of the recipe below.

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The vital ingredient. Image: Kathryn Hawkins

When raspberries are fresh they have a lot of the setting agent pectin present, and any jam made with the fresh berries sets very quickly. However, freezing fruit destroys some of the pectin, so it is important to add freshly squeezed, pectin-rich lemon juice to any frozen fruit mix to compensate for the loss – redcurrant juice will also work. Otherwise, jam-making with frozen fruit is exactly the same as with fresh.

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Jars ready for jam. Image: Kathryn Hawkins

Make sure your jars and lids are sound – no signs of corrosion on the lids if you are recycling – and thoroughly clean them in hot soapy water. This should mean that your jams, jellies and other preserves will store in perfect condition for many months ahead.

I have reduced the sugar content slightly in the recipe. Usually berry-based jam recipes suggest equal sugar to fruit, but I have found you can reduce the quantity slightly and still maintain a good set and a lengthy period of storage time.

Makes: approx. 1.2-1.4kg

Ingredients

  • 900g frozen berries – I used 300g each frozen raspberries, blackberries and strawberries, and then for the second batch, 450g each of raspberries and salal berries
  • 750g granulated white sugar
  • 2tbsp freshly squeezed lemon juice
  1. Put the berries in a large saucepan or preserving pan and allow them to semi-defrost so that the juices begin to run. When slushy, heat the fruit gently until steaming, cover with a lid and simmer for about 10 minutes or until very soft and pulpy.

2. Add the sugar and lemon juice, and stir over a low heat until the sugar dissolves.

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Cooking the fruit. Images: Kathryn Hawkins

3. Raise the heat, bring to the boil and cook the fruit uncovered until the temperature reaches 104 – 105°C on a sugar thermometer. If you don’t have a thermometer, check the jam after about 5 minutes of rapid boiling by spooning a small amount on to a cold plate. If you can push the jam with your finger and see wrinkles on the surface, the jam has reached setting point.

4. Turn off the heat and let the jam settle for 5 minutes. Stir and skim away any scum from the surface of the jam. Spoon into clean jars and seal with the lids while the jam is still very hot.

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Testing for setting point and spooning into jars. Images: Kathryn Hawkins

Homemade jam sealed properly and stored in a cool, dry cupboard should keep for many months. If you have insufficient jam to fill a jar completely, let the jam cool before putting the lid on and then keep in the fridge for up to 6 weeks. I had some jam leftover from both batches which meant I could taste the fruits of my jam-making labours instantly 🙂

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Ready to enjoy, three berry jam. Images: Kathryn Hawkins
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Homemade raspberry and salal berry jam. Images: Kathryn Hawkins

Great set, lovely rich colours, and above all else, delicious homegrown berry flavours in the depth of winter.

It looks like a wintry week ahead for this part of Scotland so I may just have to tuck into another jar to remind me of the summer just gone. All the best for now. Until next time, take care.

Aubergine (egg plant) in spicy tomato sauce (gluten-free; dairy-free; vegan)

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Aubergine in spicy tomato sauce with green chilli sprinkle. Image: Kathryn Hawkins

With a nod to the widely adopted new name for the first month of the year, Veganuary, I have for you this week a tasty, warming and comforting dish which fits the season very well. Aubergine (egg plant) is one of my favourite vegetables and I especially like eating it in a garlicky tomato or curried sauce. In this recipe, I combine these two flavours in one sauce to make a dish that can be served as a main meal or as a side to go with other spicy foods. It’s tasty cold as a salad as well.

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Up close on spiced aubergine (egg plant). Image: Kathryn Hawkins

November seems like a long time ago now, but that is when I harvested my homegrown aubergines (egg plants). I grew the variety Slim Jim in my greenhouse; just a couple of plants as a trial. They got off to a slow start but by the autumn both plants were doing well, and produced several small and neat, very pretty, lilac-coloured fruits.

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Home-grown Slim Jim aubergines (egg plant). Images: Kathryn Hawkins

You can use any variety of aubergine for this recipe. I always salt before cooking, regardless of variety. I find that drawing out some of the water before cooking helps to soften it so that it cooks to a melting tenderness. By the way, replace the mushrooms with more aubergine if you prefer. I hope you enjoy the recipe.

Serves: 2 as a main meal or 4 as a side dish

Ingredients

  • 1tsp each of cumin and coriander seeds
  • ½tsp ground fenugreek
  • ¼tsp ground black pepper
  • 5tbsp vegetable oil
  • 1 onion, peeled and chopped
  • 2 cloves garlic, peeled and finely chopped
  • 1tsp freshly grated root ginger
  • 1 bay leaf
  • 400g tomatoes, canned or fresh, chopped
  • 2tbsp tomato purée
  • Salt
  • 250g aubergines (egg plant), chopped or sliced
  • 200g brown (chestnut) mushrooms, wiped and quartered
  • 1tsp black onion seeds
  • Chopped green chilli and fresh mango to serve

1. Toast the spice seeds lightly in a small hot, dry frying pan for 2-3 minutes until lightly golden. Cool, then grind finely with the fenugreek and black pepper.

2. Heat 2tbsp oil in a frying pan and stir fry the onion, garlic, ginger and spices with the bay leaf for 1-2 minutes, then cover with a lid and cook gently for 20 minutes until soft.

3. Add the tomatoes, purée and a pinch of salt, bring to the boil, cover and simmer gently for about 15 minutes until soft. Leave aside.

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Preparing spiced tomato sauce. Images: Kathryn Hawkins

4. Meanwhile, stand a colander or strainer on a plate or over a bowl. Layer the aubergine, sprinkling generously with salt as you go, and leave to stand for 30 minutes. Drain and rinse very well, then pat dry with kitchen paper.

5. Heat 2tbsp oil in a frying pan until hot and stir fry the aubergine pieces for 2-3 minutes until lightly browned. Drain on kitchen paper. Heat the remaining oil and cook the mushrooms in the same way. Drain.

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Preparing aubergine (egg plant). Images: Kathryn Hawkins

6. Add the vegetables to the spiced tomato sauce, mix well and bring to the boil. Cover and simmer gently for 20-30 minutes until tender and cooked through. Turn off the heat, sprinkle with black onion seeds then cover and stand for 10 minutes. Discard the bay leaf.

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Cooking the vegetables in the sauce. Images: Kathryn Hawkins

Serve sprinkled with freshly chopped green chilli and accompanied with fresh mango. Delicious over rice or with naan breads with a sprinkling of roasted cashew nuts for crunch.

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A spicy feast. Image: Kathryn Hawkins

That’s all from me this week. I’ll be back towards the end of the month with something suitably Scottish to celebrate Burns Night. Until then, best wishes and keep safe.

Snowflake pies (gluten-free; dairy-free; vegan)

Very Christmassy, snowflake pies. Image: Kathryn Hawkins

Hello again. With the Christmas break just a few days away, my post this week is a very simple and very seasonal dessert recipe which is easy to make and pretty to look at. With little snow in the forecast for the UK this year so far, this sweet treat is probably the closest I will come to experiencing a White Christmas.

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Light and fluffy, snowflake pie. Image: Kathryn Hawkins

Assembled in paper cupcake cases, the pies have a biscuit crumb base, and a topping simply made from vegan marshmallows and plant-based double cream. All very straightforward. I flavoured the topping with vanilla extract but you could add some citrus zest or Christmas spice. As you can image, the pies are quite sweet, but I found they paired perfectly with cooked cranberries. I think orange, rhubarb or raspberries would also work very well – something with a bit of acidity is ideal. OK, on with the recipe…..

Makes: 8

Ingredients

  • 115g free-from Digestive biscuits
  • 65g plant-based butter
  • 175g white vegan marshmallows
  • 400ml plant-based double cream, at room temperature
  • 1tsp good quality vanilla extract
  • Icing snowflakes and edible silver glitter to decorate

1. Line 8 muffin tins with plain cupcake paper cases – you don’t need to use anything fancy; the cases are being used as tin liners to help you turn the pies out more easily. Put the biscuits in a clean bag and crush finely with a rolling pin.

2. Melt the butter, remove from the heat and stir in the crumbs until evenly coated. Divide the mixture between the cases; press down well and chill until required.

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Making the bases. Images: Kathryn Hawkins

3. For easier melting, cut the marshmallows into small pieces – kitchen scissors are good for this. Place in a saucepan and pour over 100ml of the cream and add the vanilla.

4. Heat very gently, stirring occasionally, until the marshmallows melt into the cream. This will take about 5-8 minutes. Keep the heat as low as possible to avoid boiling. Then whisk until smooth.

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Making the filling. Images: Kathryn Hawkins

5. While the marshmallows are melting, whip a further 225ml cream until just peaking.

6. Working quickly, scrape the molten marshmallows mixture on top of the cream and gently mix the 2 together to make a fluffy, light mixture. The marshmallows will start to set again as soon as they meet the cream, so make sure the cream isn’t too cold.

7. Divide between the cases and chill for about 2hr until completely set, then remove from the tins and peel away the paper cases.

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Assembling the pies. Images: Kathryn Hawkins.

8. To serve, whip the remaining cream and spoon a little on top of each pie. Decorate with snowflakes and glitter. Delicious accompanied with a cranberry, or other fruit, compote.

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Cranberry compote. Image: Kathryn Hawkins

This is my last recipe post of the year. Thank you for your continued interest in my blog. I hope you have a very happy and healthy Christmas and I look forward to returning to my blog in the new year.

Sweet chilli jelly (naturally gluten-free; dairy-free; vegan)

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Sweet chilli jelly. Image: Kathryn Hawkins

Hello again. I hope you are keeping well. Are you beginning to feel Christmassy yet? We’ve had some snowfall here, not very much but it certainly feels like winter is upon us.

I haven’t had much time for making preserves this year and most of my harvested garden produce is still buried deep in the freezer waiting for me to get cooking. However, I did find some time a few days ago to make one of my favourites. I love the combination of sweet and smoke with a hint of chilli spice in this savoury jelly. It’s one of those preserves that goes with lots of things and makes a great gift for a food lover. It’s also ready to eat immediately or will store for up to a year.

You might want to scale back the recipe to make a smaller quantity but I wanted a few jars for myself as well as a couple to give away. Add more chillies for a spicy-hot jelly or use hot smoked paprika instead.

Makes: approx. 1.4kg

Ingredients

  • Approx. 1.5kg cooking apples, washed and left whole
  • Approx. 750g red (bell) peppers or capsicum, washed and stalks removed
  • 50-100g red chillies, washed and stalks removed
  • 6-8 garlic cloves, peeled
  • 2 large sprigs of fresh sage
  • 5 bay leaves
  • approx. 1.1kg granulated white sugar
  • 175ml cider vinegar
  • 2tsp smoked paprika
  • 1½tsp salt
  • 1-2tsp dried chilli flakes

1. Chop the apples and place in a large preserving pan – seeds, core, skin, everything. Do the same with the peppers and chillies, then add to the pan along with the garlic, sage and bay leaves.

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Main ingredients: apples, peppers, chillies and garlic. Images: Kathryn Hawkins

2. Pour over 1.7l water, bring to the boil, cover and simmer for about 40 minutes, mashing with a spoon occasionally, until everything is soft and pulpy. Leave to cool for 30 minutes.

3. Carefully ladle the pulp into a jelly bag suspended over a bowl and leave in a cool place to drip over night. Discard the pulp and measure the juice.

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Making and straining the cooked fruit and veg. Images: Kathryn Hawkins

4. Pour the juice into a clean preserving pan and heat until hot. Add 450g sugar for every 650ml juice collected – I had 1.6l juice and added 1.1kg sugar. Pour in the vinegar and stir until the sugar dissolves, then raise the heat and boil rapidly until setting point is reached – 105°C on a sugar thermometer. Turn off the heat and stir in the salt, paprika and chillies. Leave to stand for 10 minutes.

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Cooking and flavouring the jelly. Images: Kathryn Hawkins

4. Stir the jelly mixture and ladle into sterilized jam jars. Seal tightly while hot, then leave to cool before labelling. Store in a cool, dry, dark cupboard for up to 1 year.

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Freshly cooked sweet chilli jelly in the jar and on the spoon. Images: Kathryn Hawkins

That’s me for another week. One more recipe post before the holidays. I’ll see you again in a few days. All the best until then 🙂