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

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

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

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

Halved_and_sliced_Italian_round_aubergine_(eggplant)_on_green_chopping_board
Halved and sliced, Italian round aubergine. Image: Kathryn Hawkins

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

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

Ingredients_for_aubergine_(eggplant)_and_tomato_bake
Simple ingredients, wonderful flavours. Image: Kathryn Hawkins

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

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

Serves: 4

Ingredients

For the sauce:

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

For the aubergine:

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

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

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

3_steps_to_making_fresh_tomato_garlic_and_herb_sauce
Making tomato, garlic and herb sauce. Images: Kathryn Hawkins

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

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

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

Layering_up_tomato_sauce_and_aubergine_(eggplant)_slices_in_a_baking_dish
Layering up the bake. Images: Kathryn Hawkins

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

Aubergine_(eggplant)_bake_ready_for_the_oven
Sprinkling the bake with dairy or plant-based cheese. Images: Kathryn Hawkins

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

Baked_aubergine_(eggplant)_in_tomato_sauce_just_out_of_the_oven
Just out of the oven and sprinkled with fresh basil. Images: Kathryn Hawkins

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

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

Pesto_pancakes_layered_with_homemade_tomato_sauce
Pesto pancake and tomato layer. Image: Kathryn Hawkins

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

Greenhouse_grown_orange_tomatoes_September_2022
Homegrown orange tomatoes. Images: Kathryn Hawkins

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

Plum_tomatoes_on_the_vine
Fresh plum tomatoes. Image: Kathryn Hawkins

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

Basil_plants_in_a_Scottish_unheated_greenhouse
Greenhouse basil. Images: Kathryn Hawkins

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

Serves: 4

Ingredients

Tomato sauce

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

Pesto pancakes

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

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

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

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

Steps_showing_the_stages_to_make_plum_tomato_sauce
Homemade plum tomato sauce preparation. Images: Kathryn Hawkins

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

Sundried_tomatoes_made_into_a_paste_to_enrich_plum_tomato_sauce
Adding sundried tomato paste. Images: Kathryn Hawkins

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

5_images_showing_the_making_of_pesto_pancake_batter
Making the pesto batter. Images: Kathryn Hawkins

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

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

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

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

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

Spreading_pesto_pancakes_with_tomato_sauce_before_layering
Layering before baking. Images: Kathryn Hawkins

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

Close-up_of_pesto_pancake_layers_with_tomato_sauce_in_between
Tomato-filled pesto pancake layers. Images: Kathryn Hawkins

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

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

12_homemade_vegan_sticky_rice_rolls_arranged_on_a_serving_platter
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.

Close-up_sticky_rice_rainbow_rolls_on_platter
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.

Sushi_nori_shiny_and_textured_sides_showing
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.

Small_bowl_of_uncooked_sushi_rice
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.

Sticky_rice_seasoning_ingredients
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.

3_colours_of_carrot
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.

Preparing_and_cooking_sticky_rice
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.

3_stages_to_preparing_sticky_rice_rolls
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.

Filling_and_rolling_sticky_rice_rolls
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.

Homemade_sticky_rice_roll_unsliced
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.

Homemade_sticky_rice_roll_sliced_in_half
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)

Cauliflower_greens_cooked_in_cream_with_wild_garlic
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.

Picking_wild_garlic_beside_the_river_Earn_in_Perthshire
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.

Reviving_cauliflower_leaves_in_cold_water
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)

Cauliflower_leaves_and_stalks_being_prepared
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.

Washing_drying_and_chopping_wild_garlic_leaves
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.

Chopped_celery_and_leek_for_sauce_base
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.
Preparing_the_caulifower_sauce_base
Adding_cauliflower_leaves_and_wild_garlic_to_sauce_base
This 6 stages of sauce. Images: Kathryn Hawkins
Freshly_cooked_creamy_garlic_greens
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 🙂

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

Serving_dish_of_freshly_cooked_aubergines_in_spiced_tomato_sauce
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.

Close-up_on_aubergines_in_spiced_tomato_sauce
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.

November_harvest_of_Slim_Jim_aubergines_(egg plant)
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.

Making_spiced_tomato_sauce
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.

Salting_aubergine_(egg_plant)_before_cooking
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.

Cooked_mushrooms_and_aubergine_in_spiced_tomato_sauce
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.

Overhead_image_of_aubergine_and_mushrooms_in_spiced_tomato_sauce
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.

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

Homemade_sweet_chilli_jelly_for_Christmas
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.

Prepared_fruit_and_veg_for_smoky_apple_jelly
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.

Jelly_bag_showing_straining_collected_juice_from_cooking_apples_and_vegetables
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.

Cooking_smoky_apple_jelly_and_flavouring_with_vinegar_smoked_paprika_and_chillies
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.

Small_kilner_jars_of_homemade_sweet_chilli_jelly
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 🙂

Sweet and sour red cabbage (naturally gluten-free and vegan)

China_serving_dish_with_sweet_and_sour_red_cabbage
Sweet and sour red cabbage. Image: Kathryn Hawkins

Hello there. I hope you are well and enjoying Autumn. With the days getting shorter and the temperature dropping a few degrees here in the UK, my thoughts have turned to comfort food. There are some deliciously leafy seasonal vegetables around just now which make an ideal accompaniment to an autumnal stew or roast. I have a tasty red cabbage dish to share with you this week which is perfect for batch cooking as it freezes very well.

Whole_and_halved_fresh_red_cabbage_
Fresh red cabbage. Images: Kathryn Hawkins

Most often, I braise red cabbage slowly with fresh apple or pear and some vinegar, sugar and cinnamon, but to ring the changes this time I have used a different combination of sweet and sour flavours.

Sumac_raspberry_vinegar_barberries_and_plum_cheese
Sweet and sour flavours: sumac, raspberry vinegar, barberries and plum cheese. Images: Kathryn Hawkins

For the sour flavours, I used sumac powder with its tart astringent flavour, reminiscent of lemon juice; dried barberries, another tartly flavoured ingredient which add a sharp tang to the dish (chopped dried unsweetened cranberries would also work), and homemade raspberry vinegar. For sweetness, I added some of the plum cheese I made about a month ago – Plum, sloe and apple cheese (naturally gluten-free and vegan) or you can use plum jam if you prefer. To add a splash of sparkle, juiciness and texture, I sprinkled over one of my favourite ingredients, fresh pomegranate seeds, to finish. All in all, a delicious flavour combination which tastes as good as it looks. I hope you enjoy the recipe.

Serves: 4

Ingredients

  • ½ red cabbage
  • 1 large red onion
  • 25g plant butter
  • 2tbsp raspberry vinegar (or balsamic if you prefer)
  • 2tbsp plum cheese or jam (or redcurrant jelly works well)
  • Salt and freshly ground black pepper
  • 1tbsp dried barberries (or finely chopped unsweetened cranberries
  • Sumac to taste
  • Pomegranate seeds to sprinkle

1. Cut out the cabbage stump, then finely shred or slice the remainder of the cabbage. If you slice everything finely, you can use up the tougher stems of the cabbage as well. I ended up with about 400g prepared cabbage. Peel and thinly slice the onion.

Preparing_red_cabbage_and_red_onion
Red cabbage and onion preparation. Images: Kathryn Hawkins

2. Melt the plant butter in a large deep frying pan or saucepan and gently fry the cabbage and onion, stirring, for about 5 minutes until well coated in the butter.

3. Add the vinegar, plum cheese or jam and plenty of seasoning. Mix well, lower the heat, then cover and simmer gently for 40-50 minutes, stirring occasionally, until very tender. Stir in the barberries and sumac to taste. Turn off the heat, cover and let stand for 10 minutes.

3_stages_to_cooking_sweet_and_sour_red_cabbage
Cooking sweet and sour red cabbage. Images: Kathryn Hawkins

4. To serve, spoon into a warm serving dish and sprinkle the top with extra sumac and pomegranate seeds if liked.

Close-up_on_freshly cooked_red_cabbage_with_pomegranate_seeds
Red cabbage close-up. Image: Kathryn Hawkins

It’s been a glorious day here in central Scotland today. Perfect weather for enjoying the autumnal colours. I hope you have a good few days until my next post. All the best for now 🙂

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

Endy_of_July_homegrown_vegetables_served_in_a_salad
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.

Seasonal_vegetable_salad_served_with_chopped_carrot_tops_and_white_balsamic_dressing
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.

Homegrown_Scarloet_Emperor_runner_beans_on_the_vine_and_picked
Barrel-grown Scarlet Emperor runner beans. Images: Kathryn Hawkins
Homegrown_ridged_courgettes_in_greenhouse_and_sliced_to_show_scalloped_edge
Ridged courgettes. Images: Kathryn Hawkins
Greenhouse-grown_Mini_Munch_cucumbers
Mini Munch cucumbers, July 2021. Images: Kathryn Hawkins
Purple_Sun_carrots_growing_in_a_deep_container
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.

Preparing_homegrown_runner_beans_and_small_purple_carrots
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.

On_the_griddle_courgette_runner_beans_and_carrots
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.

Dressing_ingredients_cooking_the_dressing_and_adding_to_the_cooked_vegetables
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.

Seasonal_homegrown_vegetable_salad_close-up
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.

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

Gluten-free_sesame_steamed_buns_filled_with_asparagus_broccoli_and_rainbow_salad
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.

Fluffy_texture_of_homemade_gluten_free_steamed_sesame_buns
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.

3_steps_showing_the_ingredients_for_gluten_free_steamed_sesame_buns
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.

6_steps_showing_shaping_gluten_free_steamed_sesame_buns
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.

Steamed_sesame_buns_ready_for_steaming
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.

Steaming_gluten_free_sesame_buns
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.

Stir-fried_asparagus_and_sprouting_broccoli_stems
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.

Preparation_of_rainbow_salad
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 🙂

Close-up_on_a_filled_steamed_sesame_bun
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)

Homegrown_golden_carrots_with_carrot_top_and_coriander_dressing
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.

Packet_of_opened_carrot_seeds
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.

Overwintering_carrots_in_3_stages
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 🙂

Homegrown_golden_carrots
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.

Homegrown_wonky-shaped_carrot_
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.

Preparing_carrots_tops_and_peelings_for_cooking
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.

Grouns_whole_toasted_spices_along_with_maple_syrup_and_cold_pressed_rapeseed_oil_for_flavouring_baked_carrots
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.

Roasting_tray_of_freshly_baked_golden_carrots
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.

Blitzing_the_ingredients_for_carrot_top_and_coriander_dressing
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.

Roasting_carrot_peelings
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.

Baked_golden_carrots_with_herby_green_dressing_and_crispy_carrot_skin_sprinkles
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.

Carrot_top_and_coriander_dressing
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 🙂