Rise and shine oatmeal porridge (gluten-free; dairy-free; vegan)

Bowl_of_oatmeal_porridge_with_blood_oranges_pecan_and_marmalade
A super sunny start to the day. Image: Kathryn Hawkins

Hello everyone! I have something bright and cheerful for you this week. Given all the doom and gloom in the news, this tasty and super-charged breakfast will get your day off to a bright and cheerful start. It’s a seasonal update on a recipe I posted a couple of years ago.

Skinless_blood_orange_slices
Blood orange slices. Image: Kathryn Hawkins

No sooner has the bitter marmalade orange season finished, the next citrus beauties are on the horizon, coming into the shops and markets in mid-February. Actually, the season is coming to an end but I’ve been enjoying the ruby-red fleshed oranges for a couple of weeks already. This orange seems to have had a name change, and is now, rather boringly, called red orange, but I will always think of them as the blood orange or Sanguinelli. The flavour is sweet and tart at the same time. They are very juicy and you never quite know how red the flesh will be until you start peeling.

4_steps_showing_how_to_peel_and_slice_oranges
Perfect peeling. Images: Kathryn Hawkins

For the past few days the weather has been decidedly chilly here; it’s been the kind of temperature that calls for porridge. My recipe for an overnight oatmeal porridge which cooks in the slow-cooker means it is ready for you to enjoy the next morning without any fuss. The oatmeal is cooked the traditional Scottish way in just water with some salt to season. Everything else is added afterwards. I posted the original recipe back in March 2018 – you can find it here.

Slow-cooker_oatmeal_porridge_ingredients_water_salt_and_pinhead_oatmeal
Slow-cooker + water + salt + oatmeal. Image: Kathryn Hawkins

To make 6 hearty servings, put 150g pinhead oatmeal in your slow-cooker. Add a generous pinch of salt and pour over 950ml cold water. Cover with the lid and switch on to the low setting. Leave for 8 hours (up to 10). After the cooking time, the surface of the porridge will form a light skin, but give it a good stir and the creaminess of the cooked oats will be appear. Once I’ve got my portion in my cereal bowl, I mix in oat milk (I love the Barista versions for extra richness) to loosen up the texture. Once the porridge has cooled it will solidify. It will keep in the fridge for up to a week, and reheats very well in the microwave – just mash with a fork, mix in some milk and reheat.

3_steps_showing_the_cooking_of_oatmeal_porridge_in_the_slow-cooker
Slow-cooker oatmeal porridge. Image: Kathryn Hawkins

So with the cooking taken care of, you just need to make up your mind what to eat with it. To prepare the orange slices, slice the top and bottom off an orange and then remove the peel by slicing downwards with a sharp knife, trying to take only the skin and white pith away. Slice into rounds or chop smaller.

Adding_a_generous_spoonful_of_homemade_Seville_orange_marmalade_to_oatmeal_porridge
Homemade marmalade for extra citrus flavour. Images: Kathryn Hawkins

Back in January, I posted my recipe for Seville orange marmalade. I’ve been putting my stocks to good use this week. It makes a great addition to a bowl of porridge, adding some sweetness and also more orange-flavour. All in all, this is a seriously citrusy and sunshiny breakfast bowl, with a few pecans sprinkled over for some crunch. I’m looking forward to my breakfast already ūüôā Until next time, I hope you have a good few days and stay healthy.

Close-up_on_oatmeal_porridge_with_marmalade_blood_oranges_and_pecan_nuts
A breakfast bowl of sunshine, Image: Kathryn Hawkins

My favourite nut loaf (gluten-free; dairy-free; vegan)

Whole_nutloaf_with_slice_on_board_with_roast_veg_and_gravy
Super-easy nut loaf. Image: Kathryn Hawkins

If you’re planning a meat-free Christmas menu for yourself or guests this year then my recipe this week maybe one to consider. Time to post my favourite nut loaf recipe. It is very easy to assemble, can be made in advance, and freezes well. What’s more, you can use any combination of nuts and seeds you fancy – it’s the perfect recipe to use up any nuts or seeds that you have already opened. And above all else, it’s very tasty ūüôā

Overhead_image_of_homemade_nut_loaf_with_a_bow_of_roast_vegetables_and_vegetable_gravy
Serve with roast veg and veggie gravy. Image: Kathryn Hawkins

I prefer to use roasted peanuts and cashews if I have them, but pecans and almonds are favourites too. The mixture is bound together with lentils, flax seed “egg” and nut butter – choose whichever cooked pulses or nut butter you fancy to suit your taste. If you fancy some extra crunch, toast a handful of your favourite seeds and add to the mixture when you bind everything together.

Food_processor_with_peanuts_and_cashew_nuts_being_ground
Ground peanuts and cashews. Image: Kathryn Hawkins

When grinding or chopping the nuts, I like to keep some bigger pieces amongst the finer grinds so that the loaf has some texture but you may prefer something smoother.

On with the recipe, and then on with the festive countdown.

Serves: 4 to 6

Ingredients

  • 2 tbsp. olive oil + extra to drizzle
  • 1 stick celery, trimmed and chopped
  • 1 small onion, peeled and chopped
  • 2 garlic cloves, peeled and chopped
  • 115g grated carrot
  • 115g cooked green lentils (cooked and mashed cannellini, butter or haricot beans work well too)
  • 200g roasted peanuts and cashews (or your favourite nut and seed combination)
  • 40g gluten-free sage and onion stuffing mix
  • 1 tsp dried sage
  • 1 tsp salt
  • 125g whole nut peanut or other nut butter, softened
  • 1 tbsp. flax seeds
  • Chopped parsley to garnish
  1. Heat the oil in a small frying pan and add the celery, onion and garlic, mix well, cover, and cook gently for 10 minutes until softened. Cool for 20 minutes.
  2. Preheat the oven to 200¬įC, 180¬įC fan oven, gas 6. Line a 1kg loaf tin with a paper liner or baking parchment. Put the remaining ingredients, except the flax seeds and parsley, in a bowl and stir in the softened mixture.
  3. Now make the flax egg. Grind the flax seeds until powdery – I use a coffee grinder. Put in a small bowl and mix in 3 tbsp. water. Leave for about 5 minutes to thicken then stir into the nutty vegetable mixture to bind everything together.

    6_Steps_to_making_a_flax_egg
    Making flax “egg”. Images: Kathryn Hawkins
  4. Spoon the loaf mixture into the prepared tin, smooth the top and drizzle with a little olive oil. Cover with foil and bake for 30 minutes, then remove the foil and bake for a further 25-30 minutes until lightly crusty on top.

    Home-made_nut_loaf_before_and_after_cooking
    Before and after baking. Images: Kathryn Hawkins
  5. To serve, carefully remove the loaf from the tin. Discard the lining paper and transfer to a warmed serving plate or serving board. Sprinkle with parsley and serve immediately, sliced thickly and accompanied with roasted vegetables and vegetable gravy or a fresh tomato sauce.
    Plate_of_homemade_nut_loaf_and_roast_vegetables
    Nut loaf serving suggestion. Image: Kathryn Hawkins

    I hope you have a good few days  and I look forward to seeing you again just before Christmas!

 

Tutti frutti semifreddo (gluten-free; dairy-free; vegan)

Tutti_frutti_semi_freddo_dairy-free_iced_dessert
Easter dessert. Image: Kathryn Hawkins

I’ve been back in the kitchen this week, making something deliciously sweet¬†and impressive¬†for the Easter holidays. I’ve come up with a ¬†dessert that¬†is very easy to make, inspired by the flavours of Italy,¬†and is everything you want to round off a celebratory Easter meal (but with¬†no¬†chocolate in sight – gasp, shock, horror!).

Tutti_frutti_semifreddo_iced_loaf_with_slice
Iced tutti frutti loaf. Image: Kathryn Hawkins

You can add your own choice of chopped dried or candied fruit and nuts – it’s a great recipe to use up the¬†bits and pieces you have leftover (and you could even¬†add chunks of chocolate if¬†you really want to!).¬†Flavoured with marzipan, mincemeat¬†and Marsala wine, it’s a dessert that would also be right at home on the Christmas table as well.

Italian_inspired_tutti_frutti_semifreddo_ingredients
Easter semifreddo ingredients. Images: Kathryn Hawkins
Up_close_on_tutti_frutti+semifreddo_spoonful
A spoonful of semifreddo. Image: Kathryn Hawkins

Here’s what to do:

Serves: 8

Ingredients

  • 115g golden marzipan (use plain if you prefer but the golden variety adds a little colour to the semifreddo), chopped
  • 600ml dairy-free single “cream” (I use oat cream, but soya cream or canned coconut milk would also work)
  • 150g vegan mincemeat
  • 100g glac√© cherries, chopped
  • 25g pistachio nuts, chopped
  • 3¬†tbsp. Marsala wine (or use sweet sherry or cherry brandy)
  • Extra cherries and pistachios to decorate
  1. Line a 1kg loaf tin with a double layer of cling film. Put the marzipan in a saucepan and pour over the dairy-free “cream”. Heat gently, stirring, until melted together.

    1kg_loaf_tin_lined_with_cling_film
    Cling film lined load tin. Image: Kathryn Hawkins
  2. Remove from the heat, mix well then stir in the remaining ingredients and leave to cool completely.
  3. Transfer to a freezer container at least 1.1l capacity, cover and freeze for 2 to 2¬Ĺ hours until starting to turn slushy. Mix well then freeze for a further hour or so until icy and stiffened. Mix well to distribute all the pieces and pack into the loaf tin. Freeze for at least¬†2 hours¬†to firm up enough to slice. For prolonged freezing, fold over the cling film and wrap in foil. Keep in the freezer for up to 3 months.

    4_steps_showing_freezing_process_of_tutti_frutti_semifreddo
    Freezing semifreddo. Images: Kathryn Hawkins
  4. To serve, gently ease the semifreddo from the tin using the cling film. Place¬†on a serving plate and discard the cling film. Scatter with more cherries and pistachios. Slice, serve and enjoy! Happy Easter everyone ūüôā

    Two_slices_tutti_frutti_semifreddo_ice_on_individual_serving_plates
    Sliced and ready for eating. Image: Kathryn Hawkins

Salame al cioccolato (Chocolate salami) (gluten-free; dairy-free; vegan)

Chocolate_salami
Chocolate and orange treat. Image: Kathryn Hawkins

I thought it was time¬†to deliver¬†a little treat.¬†This week, I’ve broken¬†into the chocolate¬†to make something deliciously decadent. Still feeling inspired by my culinary adventure with Sicilian red oranges¬†in last week’s post, I used some to flavour this rich Italian confection which is traditionally served at the end of a meal with coffee and liqueurs, or in my case, Marsala wine.

Slices_of_chocolate_salami
Sliced Italian chocolate salami with coffee and Marsala wine. Image: Kathryn Hawkins

I was watching a travel programme about Sicily¬†over the festive holidays. It really does seem like a food and drink paradise, and¬†I hope¬†to pay a visit some day. In the meantime, I tracked down some of the island’s Modica¬†chocolate which is so very different from any other chocolate I have eaten or cooked with. It is naturally vegan as it is made with just cocoa, sugar and vanilla. The texture is grainy and slightly crunchy,¬†with a¬†flavour that¬†is rich and intense.¬†Modica chocolate is very like the chocolate the Aztecs would have been familiar with; it¬†was introduced to Europe in the 16th century by the Spanish, and I’m delighted to have finally made its acquaintance.

Bar_of_Sicilian_Modica_chocolate
Sicilian Modica chocolate. Images: Kathryn Hawkins

You can add any flavourings you fancy¬†to the basic salami¬†recipe. I opted for all things Italian and went with pistachios, marzipan and the red orange. Candied peel is¬†often added but I’m not a huge fan. Because¬†I had the fresh red oranges to hand, I made my own non-candied¬†peel which is much softer and¬†much more¬†zesty than the preserved variety.¬†However, feel free to use the more traditional candied peel if you like it.

I put some red orange juice in the salami mixture as well. If you fancy something with more oomph, you can use 2 tbsp.  liqueur instead. I used a dairy-free margarine which has a lower fat content than a solid fat. The combination of the margarine and the added liquid gives a more fudgy texture to the salami. If you prefer a firmer set then leave out the liquid altogether and use something like coconut oil  (or unsalted butter if you eat it) which will give a much firmer set.

Red_orange_juice_and_rind_chopped_marzipan_and_shelled_pistachios
Italian flavours. Images: Kathryn Hawkins

Makes 16 slices

Ingredients

  • 2 medium oranges, red or other variety
  • 100g 50% cocoa¬†Modica or similar free-from plain chocolate
  • 75g dairy-free margarine
  • 150g free-from ginger biscuits, lightly crushed (or use your favourite variety)
  • 50g natural pistachio nuts, roughly chopped
  • 75g natural marzipan, finely chopped
  • 15g each ground almonds and icing sugar
  1. First prepare the orange rind. Using a vegetable peeler, pare off the orange rind thinly. You need about 40g rind to achieve a rich orange flavour.
  2. Slice the pared rind into thin strips. Bring a small saucepan of water to the boil and cook the strips for 4-5 minutes until soft. Drain and cool under cold running water, then drain well¬†and pat dry, before chopping finely. Extract 2 tbsp. juice from one of the oranges – and enjoy the rest of the juice¬†at your leisure ūüôā

    Steps_to_making_fresh_orange_peel
    Making fresh orange peel. Images: Kathryn Hawkins
  3. Break up the chocolate and place in a heatproof bowl. Add the dairy-free margarine and place the bowl over a saucepan of barely simmering water, and leave until melted. Remove from the water and allow to cool for 10 minutes.
  4. Put the biscuits, pistachios, marzipan, chopped orange rind and juice in a bowl and mix together, then stir in the melted chocolate. Leave in a cool place for about 30 minutes to firm up but not set completely.

    Mixing_up_the_chocolate_salami
    Chocolate salami mix. Images: Kathryn Hawkins
  5. Line the work top with a large double layer of cling film and pile the chocolate mixture in the centre to form a rough rectangular shape about 24cm long.
  6. Fold over the cling film and twist the ends closed to make a fat sausage-like shape with slightly tapering ends. Chill for at least 2 hours, preferably overnight until firm.

    Steps_t0_shaping_chocolate_salami
    Shaping chocolate salami. Images: Kathryn Hawkins
  7. To decorate, place a large sheet of baking parchment on the work top and sift the ground almonds and icing sugar down the centre to cover an area the same length as the salami.
  8. Carefully unwrap the salami and roll evenly in the sweet almond mixture to coat it lightly. Slice and serve. Store any remaining chocolate salami in the fridge – the sugary almond coating will start to dissolve in the fridge but this doesn’t affect the flavour or texture of the salami. Buon appetite!

    Close_up_of_chocolate_salami
    Delizioso. Image: Kathryn Hawkins

 

 

Pear, pecan and maple crostata (dairy-free and vegan)

 

Pear_and_pecan_crostata_with_maple_syrup
Pear, pecan and maple crostata. Image: Kathryn Hawkins

A few weeks ago, I promised a new pear recipe, and now I have harvested all the pears from the garden,¬†I have been back in the kitchen, cooking up something suitably¬†fruity¬†for this week’s post.

Close-up_of_pastry_leaves_on_a_crostata
Pastry leaf border. Image: Kathryn Hawkins

My small Concorde pear tree produced a bumper crop this year. I picked all the fruit at the end of last month, just before a cold snap. It was a beautiful warm and sunny Autumn day and the colours in the garden looked rich and golden.

Home-grown_Concorde_pears_in_wooden_crate_on_garden_seat
Autumn pear harvest. Image: Kathryn Hawkins

I put most of the pears in storage, apart from the few smaller ones¬†which were ready to eat. Unlike apples, pears don’t need to be wrapped for storing; just pack them, not touching, in a tray or crate, and keep them in a cool place.¬†When you want to ripen them off, bring them in to room temperature and, in about 3 days, they should be ripe and ready to eat – you can tell if a pear is ripe by¬†gently pressing the flesh¬†at the stalk end, if it gives a little, then it is ripe.

Home-grown_Concorde_pears_on_tree_and_in_wooden_crate
Just before and after picking on a sunny Autumn day. Images: Kathryn Hawkins

On with the recipe.¬†A crostata, one of the easiest forms of pie or tart¬†you can¬†make because you don’t need a tin and it doesn’t matter if you’re not very good at rolling pastry¬†to a neat edge. I made a vegan pastry using white spelt flour, but any short-crust pastry will work – you’ll need about 500g ready-made pastry if you don’t have time to make your own. Pecans and maple syrup give the¬†flavour and sweetness in my recipe¬†–¬†walnuts or hazelnuts would be good too – as would clear honey if you eat it. Choose pears that have some firmness to them for cooking – perfectly ripe pears are best for enjoying as they are ūüôā

Serves: 8

Ingredients

  • 450g small pears
  • 1 unwaxed lemon
  • 300g white spelt plain flour
  • ¬Ĺ tsp salt
  • 85g white vegetable fat (I use Trex), cut into small pieces
  • 100g dairy-free margarine, cut into small pieces
  • 6 tbsp. + 1 tsp¬†maple syrup + extra to serve
  • 4 tsp¬†dairy-free milk
  • 100g chopped pecan nuts + extra to decorate
  1. First cook the pears. Peel the pears, cut in half and remove the core. Pare a few strips of rind from the lemon using a vegetable peeler, and extract the juice. Brush the pears with lemon juice all over to help prevent discolouration.
  2. Put the pears in a shallow pan with the remaining lemon juice, pared rind and 2 tbsp. water. Bring to simmering point, cover and cook gently for 5 -10 minutes, depending on ripeness, until just tender. Leave to cool in the lemony liquid, then drain well and cut each pear half into 4 slices. Cover and chill until required.

    3_steps_to_cooking_fresh_pears
    Preparing fresh pears for crostata. Images: Kathryn Hawkins
  3. For the pastry, sieve the flour and salt into a bowl. Add the fat and 85g margarine, then rub the flour and fats together with your fingertips until well blended, and the mixture resembles a crumble topping.
  4. Make a well in the centre, and add 2 tbsp maple syrup and 1 tbsp dairy-free milk. Stir with a round bladed knife to bind together, then turn on to the work surface and bring together with your hands to make a smooth, firm dough. Leave to rest for 10 minutes on the work surface.

    Steps_1_to_6_preparing_shortcrust_pastry_for_pear_and_pecan_crostata
    Making vegan shortcrust pastry. Images: Kathryn Hawkins
  5. Meanwhile, put the pecan nuts in a blender or food processor and grind until fine. Mix in 2 tbsp. maple syrup to make a spreadable paste. Put to one side. Preheat the oven to 200¬įC, 180¬įC fan oven, gas 6.

    3_steps_to_preparing_pecan_and_maple_paste
    Pecan paste preparation
  6. Place a large sheet of baking parchment on the work surface and dust lightly with flour. Cut off a 100g piece of pastry and set aside, then roll out the remaining pastry to make a round approx. 30cm diameter.
  7. Spread over the pecan paste, leaving a 3cm space round the edge of the pastry circle. Arrange the pear slices on top of the pecan filling.
  8. Carefully fold up the pastry edge to cover the edge of the pears РI find a small palette knife useful to help flip the pastry over the fruit. Transfer the crostata on the parchment to a large baking tray, and trim the parchment as necessary to fit the tray. Roll out the reserved pastry on a lightly floured surface and cut out leaves to decorate the edge.
  9. Mix 1 tsp maple syrup with the remaining dairy-free milk and brush over the pastry edge. Arrange the leaves on top and brush with the maple/milk glaze. Dot the pears with the remaining margarine and drizzle with remaining maple syrup.

    Step_by_step_preparation_to_pear_and_pecan_crostata
    Assembling the crostata. Images: Kathryn Hawkins
  10. Bake for about 50 minutes until lightly golden and cooked through. Best served warm, sprinkled with chopped pecans and accompanied with extra maple syrup.

    Slice_of_pear_and_pecan_crostata_with_maple_syrup
    Sliced and ready to eat. Image: Kathryn Hawkins

 

 

Upside-down plum and marzipan cake (dairy-free; vegan, with gluten-free variation)

Vegan_upside-down_plum_and_marzipan_cake
Upside-down plum and marzipan cake. Image: Kathryn Hawkins

The garden’s taken a bit of a battering this week. It’s been very windy since the weekend and¬†yesterday the remnants of the recent US Hurricane blew through. Fortunately, there doesn’t seem to¬†have been¬†too much damage, but any¬†plums¬†that I left on the tree¬†are no longer.

Victoria_plum_tree_and_a_wooden_crate_of_picked_plums
This year’s Victoria plum harvest. Images: Kathryn Hawkins

I had been picking the Victoria plums¬† since the beginning of last week, and thankfully harvested the majority of what was left at the weekend. I’ve been busy making jam, and freezing a few in bags for later use. The tree is only small, but it has done very well this year in spite of the dry summer, although some of the plums are smaller than usual.

Close-up_of_fresh_Victoria_plums
Freshly picked ripe Victoria plums. Image: Kathryn Hawkins

Stoned fruit like plums, apricots and peaches go very well with the flavour of almond. If you crack the stones open, the inner part of the kernel has a strong almond aroma – I always add the kernels, in a muslin bag,¬†to jam as it cooks,¬†to give it more flavour. I realise marzipan isn’t to everyone’s taste, but is one of my favourite ingredients and in my mind, is perfect for eating with plums. This week’s¬†recipe will work fine without it, the cake will be lighter in texture and will cook slightly quicker.

Overhead_image_of upside-down_plum_and_marzipan_cake
Perfect flavour paring of plums and almonds. Image: Kathryn Hawkins

You can make this cake with most fruit, just be aware that if a fruit is very juicy, the bottom of the cake will be quite sticky and may not completely cook through. The cake also makes a great pudding served warm with custard. I use spelt flour, the white variety, for this cake, but use gluten-free plain if you’re intolerant to wheat, and ordinary plain white flour if you don’t have spelt.

Serves: 10

Ingredients

  • 300g golden caster sugar
  • 550g plums
  • 175g dairy-free margarine
  • 175g non-dairy yogurt (coconut or soya work well)
  • 175ml unsweetened non-dairy milk (I used soya)
  • 190g white spelt flour (or gluten-free plain flour)
  • 12g gluten-free baking powder
  • 175g ground almonds
  • 175g marzipan, cut into small pieces
  • 20g flaked almonds, toasted
  1. Preheat the oven to 180¬įC, 160¬įC fan oven, gas 4. Grease and line a deep, 23cm round cake tin. Sprinkle the base of the tin with 2 tbsp. sugar and put to one side.
  2. Halve the plums and remove the stones, then arrange in the bottom of the tin to cover it completely. If you have any plums left over, chop them and sprinkle them over the layer of plums.
  3. Put the margarine in a bowl with the remaining sugar and whisk together for 3-4 minutes until creamy and light in texture and colour. Gently whisk in the yogurt and dairy-free milk with half the flour until well blended. Sieve the remaining flour and baking powder on top; add the ground almonds and marzipan, and mix everything together until thoroughly blended.

    Step_by_step_images_for_making_upside_down_cake
    Preparing upside-down cake. Images: Kathryn Hawkins
  4. Spoon the cake¬†mixture on top of¬†the plums and smooth over the top. Put the tin on a baking tray and bake for about 1 ¬Ĺ hours until richly golden and firm to the touch. Leave to cool for at least 30 minutes in the tin before serving warm, or leave to cool completely in the tin¬†if serving as a cake.
  5. To serve, turn the cake out on to a serving plate and sprinkle with flaked almonds to serve.

    Upside_down_plum_and_marzipan_cake_sliced
    Sliced and ready to serve, plum and marzipan cake. Images: Kathryn Hawkins

 

 

Ribbon vegetable soba noodles with peanut dressing (gluten-free; dairy-free; vegan)

Runner_bean_and_peanut_soba_noodles_with_peanut_dressing
Runner bean and peanut soba noodles. Image: Kathryn Hawkins

Over the past week or so, I’ve picked more runner beans from my 3 plants than I can possibly eat. The beans do keep well for a few days in a container of water in the fridge, but even so, this year, I have resorted to freezing some down. Not ideal as they do lose some texture, but it’s a good way of eking them out a while longer.

Home-grown_runner_beans_on_the_vine_and_freshly_picked
My late summer harvest of runner beans. Images: Kathryn Hawkins

I like my runner beans cut thinly in fine ribbons. I inherited a tiny, wee gadget from my grandmother which is perfect for this. If the beans are very fresh, you can whip them through the fine, grill-like slicing plate in next to no time, and sliced this way, they take just a few minutes to cook.

Vintage_Zipp_runner_bean_slicer
Grannie’s Zipp runner bean slicer. Images: Kathryn Hawkins

For freezing, it helps preserve texture if you cut the runner beans into chunkier pieces, and that’s what I did with the majority of these beans. I blanched the prepared beans in rolling, boiling water for about 1 ¬Ĺ minutes, then drained them and cooled them completely in cold running water. Before bagging your prepared vegetables, shake off the excess water, pat dry with kitchen paper and then pack into freezer bags. Make sure the bag is free of as much air as possible. I do this by screwing the bag closed, and then sucking out the excess air via a straw inserted into the top. It’s very effective. Seal the bag tightly with a wire bag tie or clip, and don’t forget to label – remember how time flies! Blanched vegetables should keep perfectly fresh in the freezer for at least 6 months. If you don’t do the blanching, use them up in a couple of months.

Bag_of_home-grown_runner_beans_blanched_and_ready_for_the_freezer
Blanched and ready for the freezer. Image: Kathryn Hawkins

This week’s recipe is a tasty vegetable noodle dish that can be eaten hot but I usually enjoy the dish served cold as a light lunch. Try and cut all the vegetables thinly and evenly so that they cook to the same texture. If you don’t have a bean slicer, cut the beans into short lengths and then slice thinly lengthways. For the dressing, if peanuts aren’t to your taste, use cashews or almonds and the associated nut butters instead.

Plated_vegetable_noodles_with_peanut_dressing
Vegetable noodles served cold with peanut dressing. Image: Kathryn Hawkins

Serves: 4

Ingredients

  • 225g runner beans
  • 1 large carrot
  • 1 medium leek
  • 200g soba noodles (or use your favourite variety and cook accordingly)
  • 1 tsp sesame oil
  • 2 tbsp. toasted sesame seeds
  • 40g roasted peanuts, crushed

For the dressing:

  • 50g smooth peanut butter
  • 1 tsp sesame oil
  • 25ml gluten-free soy sauce
  • 1 tbsp. white rice vinegar
  • 15g light soft brown sugar
  1. Trim the beans. Peel the sides of the beans using a vegetable peeler and slice into thin shreds. Peel and trim the carrot; slice into thin ribbons using a vegetable peeler. Trim the leek. Slice down the centre and run under cold running water to flush out any trapped soil. Shake well to remove excess water, then cut in half, and slice into ribbon-like strips. Arrange all the vegetables in a steamer, colander or large sieve.

    Preparing_runner_beans_and_carrots_into_ribbons_for_steaming
    Preparing the ribbon vegetables. Images: Kathryn Hawkins
  2. Bring a saucepan of water to the boil (unsalted if you’re using soba noodles). Put the vegetables on top, cover and cook for 2 minutes. Add the noodles to the boiling water, bring back to the boil, put the vegetables back on top, and cook everything for a further 5 minutes, until the noodles are tender and the vegetables are just cooked through. Drain the noodles well, and return to the saucepan. Toss in the sesame oil and then the vegetables. Mix well and either leave to cool if serving as a salad, or cover to keep warm.

  3. For the dressing, put all the ingredients in a small screw-top jar. Seal and shake well to mix into a thick, dressing.

    Glass_jar_for_making_peanut_dressing
    Making peanut dressing. Images: Kathryn Hawkins
  4. To serve, pile the hot or cold vegetable noodles on to a serving platter and sprinkle with sesame seeds and peanuts. Serve with the peanut dressing.

    Forkful_of_ribbon_vegetables_and_soba_noodles_served_as_a_salad
    Ready to eat, ribbon vegetable and soba noodle salad. Image: Kathryn Hawkins

Spiced roast chana & dal (gluten-free; dairy-free; vegan)

Plate_of_home-made_roast_chana_dal_nuts_and_seeds
Spiced roast chana and dal. Image: Kathryn Hawkins

A mix of roast pulses, nuts and seeds flavoured with warming spice is a tempting snack, a delicious sprinkle for soups and salads, and a great diversion if, like me, you are forever fighting a battle against a sweet-tooth.

Group_of_all_the_ingredients_for_home-made_Bombay_mix
Ingredients ready for mixing and roasting. Image: Kathryn Hawkins

Easy to make, tasty and less fatty than the shop-bought mixes, this is my interpretation of¬†the Asian snack, Bombay Mix. The bulk of the mix is made up of cooked chickpeas (chana) and green split lentils (dal). You can add any nut or seed, but¬†choose the unsalted, natural varieties so that you can adjust the seasoning to suit your taste. I use Madras curry powder but garam masala is also a good blend to use. Here’s what to do:

Makes: 300g

Ingredients

  • 250g cooked chickpeas
  • 250g cooked green lentils
  • 2 tbsp. vegetable oil
  • 4 teasp Madras curry powder
  • 1 teasp salt
  • 65g pumpkin seeds
  • 65g sunflower seeds
  • 100g unsalted cashew nuts
  1. Preheat the oven to 150¬įC (130¬įC fan oven, gas 2) . Line a large baking tray with baking parchment. Dry the chickpeas and lentils thoroughly on kitchen paper.
  2. Transfer them to a large bowl and toss in the oil and curry powder. Spread evenly over the baking tray and bake for 1 hour, turning occasionally.
  3. Mix in the seeds and cashews, turning them well on the tray so that they become flavoured with the spices and oil. Spread out evenly again and put back in the oven to roast for a further 30 minutes, turning halfway through, until everything is golden and the pulses have dried out. Leave to cool on the tray.

    Drying_pulses;_roasting_pulses_and_roasting with nuts and seeds
    Drying, flavouring and roasting. Images: Kathryn Hawkins
  4. When the mix is completely cold,  pack into an airtight container or storage jar, and keep in a cool, dry place. The mix should stay fresh for about 2 weeks, after this time, the pulses may begin to soften.

    Open_kilner_jar_containing_home-made_Bombay_mix
    Storage jar of home-made “Bombay Mix”. Image: Kathryn Hawkins

 

Baked lemon and pistachio cheesecake (gluten-free; dairy-free; vegan)

Baked_lemon_and_pistachio_cheesecake_dairy-free_and_vegan
For Easter, baked lemon and pistachio cheesecake. Image: Kathryn Hawkins

How I love a good cheesecake. But,¬†with regret, ¬†it is a dessert that has been off my menu for quite a while due to my intolerance to most dairy products. Over the years, I have been experimenting with different combinations of ingredients but with little success. However,¬†¬†recently¬†I¬†revisited¬†a much-loved,¬†traditional cheesecake recipe,¬†and I think I¬†have achieved a¬†perfect balance¬†between flavour and texture. So at last, I am able to make¬†a cheesecake¬†entirely without cheese and eggs, and¬†this classic dessert is¬†very much back in my life ūüôā

My¬†culinary discovery is¬†perfect timing for the Easter holidays. I have¬†given my recipe a seasonal twist by adding lots of zesty lemon flavour and a subtle nuttiness from pistachios although almonds work just as well if you prefer. If nuts aren’t your thing, leave them out altogether and replace them with another 25g gluten-free flour.

Overhead_image_of_a_no_dairy_vegan_baked_cheesecake
My no dairy, no eggs baked cheesecake. Image: Kathryn Hawkins

You will need a deep tin for this recipe as there is a lot of mixture to start with. Once the cheesecake is baked, it does sink down, but you do need the initial volume of mixture¬†to make a deliciously, deep slice with a firm, dense texture. I prefer to use a spring-clip cake tin¬†because there is less chance of damaging¬†the bake as you take it out of the tin, but it isn’t essential.¬†It is more important to¬†make sure you have a depth of at least 7cm so that you can use all the mixture.

Greased_and_lined_spring-clip_cake_tin
Spring-clip cake tin ready for cheesecake mixture. Image: Kathryn Hawkins

Serves: 8-10

Ingredients

For the pistachio base:

  • 50g gluten-free plain flour blend (such as Dove’s Farm)
  • 5g gluten-free baking powder (such as Dr Oetker)
  • 50g dairy-free margarine, softened
  • 50g silken tofu
  • 50g caster sugar
  • 25g ground, shelled¬†pistachio nuts
  • ¬Ĺ¬†teasp good quality almond extract
  • Natural green food colour gel (optional)

For the lemon cheesecake:

  • 150g caster sugar
  • 60g silken tofu
  • 350g free-from vegan soft cheese
  • Finely grated rind and juice 1 unwaxed lemon
  • 35g cornflour (if you prefer a softer, more mousse-like¬†texture, use 25g)
  • Natural yellow food colour gel (optional)
  • Approx. 150ml white bean canning liquid (this is the approximate proportion of canning liquid in a standard sized can)
  • 50g sultanas

To decorate and serve:

  • 1 unwaxed lemon
  • 60g caster sugar
  • 25g chopped, shelled pistachio nuts
  1. Preheat the oven to 170¬įC (150¬įC fan oven, gas 3). Grease and line a 7cm deep, 18cm diameter spring-clip cake tin. Put all the ingredients for the pistachio base in a bowl and blend together using an electric whisk until smooth and creamy. Spread over the base of the tin and put to one side (you don’t need to cook this layer on its own).
  2. For the cheesecake, whisk the sugar and tofu together until smooth and creamy, then whisk in the vegan soft cheese, lemon rind and juice, and cornflour until smooth and well combined. Add a few drops of food colouring if using.
  3. In another bowl, whisk the canning liquid until thick and foamy, and then gradually fold into the cheese mixture until well combined but trying to retain as much of the airy-foam texture as possible.
  4. Gently stir in the sultanas and pour the cheesecake mixture over the uncooked pistachio base. The tin will be very full. Carefully transfer to a baking tray and bake for 1 to 1 hour 15 minutes until golden and crusty Рthe cheesecake should still wobble a bit in the middle.
  5. Turn off the oven, leave the door slightly ajar, and allow the cheesecake to cool completely Рit will shrink as it cools. Once the cheesecake is cold, carefully remove it from the tin and place on a  serving plate or cake stand. Chill for at least 2 hours before serving.

 

Slicing_pared_lemon_rind_and_making_lemon_syrup
Preparing the lemon decoration and syrup. Images: Kathryn Hawkins

For the decoration:

  • Thinly peel the rind from the¬†lemon using a vegetable peeler,¬†and cut into thin strips. Pour 150ml water into small saucepan, bring to the boil, add the lemon rind and cook for 1 minute. Drain, reserving the liquid, and leave the rind to cool.
  • Extract the juice from the peeled lemon. Return the cooking liquid to the saucepan, pour in the lemon juice and stir in the sugar. Heat gently until the sugar dissolves, then bring to the boil and simmer for about 10 minutes until reduced by half.
  • Transfer to a heatproof jug and leave to cool. When you are ready to serve the cheesecake, scatter the top with the cooked lemon rind and the pistachios. Serve the syrup as a pouring sauce.
Serving_of_baked_vegan_cheesecake_with_lemon_syrup
A slice of baked lemon and pistachio cheesecake with lemon syrup. Image: Kathryn Hawkins

I hope you all have a lovely Easter holiday, and that the sun shines for at least some of the time. See you next week as usual ūüôā

Happy_Easter_greeting

 

New year, new cake – Coffee and pecan loaf (gluten-free; dairy-free; vegan option)

G;uten-free_dairy-free_ coffee_and_pecan_loaf_cake
Coffee and pecan loaf cake. Image: Kathryn Hawkins

I had planned that my first recipe post of the year¬†would be a recipe bursting with¬†nutrition and¬†vitality¬†– new year, fresh start, etc. However, it’s been so cold these past few days, when it came to it, I¬†simply couldn’t¬†face anything too healthy. Instead, I’ve been in the kitchen keeping warm¬†by¬†baking, and thus,¬†my first recipe of 2018 is¬†one of my favourite¬†cakes.

Heavy_garden_frost_in_Scotland_in_early_January
Sun-up on a frosty January morning. Image: Kathryn Hawkins

I took this shot of the garden from an open window about 9am yesterday morning, just as the sun was rising. The image below is the window adjacent to the one I opened Рthe beautiful ice pattern is on the inside!

Ice_on_the_inside_of_the_window
Window pane iced-up on the inside. Image: Kathryn Hawkins

So, in my books,¬†cold weather¬†is¬†enough justification for cake, and I start my new year blog posts with one of my¬†“desert island” cakes: a¬†coffee one.

I’ve been using a heritage brand of coffee and chicory essence as a coffee flavouring in baking for as long as I can remember. It was our “turn to” flavouring long before decent barista-style¬†instant coffee and espresso shots came to¬†British shores. Sadly, the glass bottle packaging of old has been replaced by a plastic version (making it¬†look less authentic),¬†but the old-fashioned label¬†is practically¬†unchanged in design¬†and the product within tastes just as good as always. I haven’t found anything that comes close to the concentrated flavour it¬†offers in baking.¬†In summer,¬†I use it to¬†make a base for a deliciously smooth and well-rounded iced coffee, ice-creams and chilled custards.

Camp_coffee_essence_and_ground_pecan_nuts
My favourite coffee flavouring, and finely ground pecan nuts. Images: Kathryn Hawkins

The sweet, nutty flavour of pecans goes particularly well with coffee. You can use walnuts if you prefer, but I find them a bit overpowering if you really¬†want the taste¬†¬†of¬†coffee to dominate your bake. For this recipe,¬†grind up some of the pecans very finely to make a “flour” for a better formed cake crumb, and then add the remainder as finely chopped pieces for extra nutty texture. I add a little arrowroot to help bind the mixture but you can leave it out if you prefer. I hope you¬†enjoy the flavours as much as I do ūüôā

Serves: 10

Ingredients

  • 225g pecan halves
  • 125g gluten-free plain flour (such as Dove’s Farm)
  • 8g arrowroot
  • 2 level teaspoons gluten-free baking powder (such as Dr Oetker)
  • 175g light brown soft sugar
  • 3 large eggs (or, for a vegan cake, use¬†180g silken tofu)
  • 175ml sunflower oil
  • 4 tsp Camp coffee essence or similar
  • 50g Demerara sugar
  1. Preheat the oven to 180¬įC (160¬įC fan oven, gas 4). Grease and line a 1kg loaf tin. Put 125g pecans in a blender or food processor and¬†blitz until very finely ground. Chop the remaining pecan nuts finely.
  2. Sift the flour and arrowroot into a bowl and stir in both lots of pecans along with the sugar. Beat the eggs (or tofu) with the oil until well blended, and then thoroughly mix into the dry ingredients.
  3. Transfer to the prepared tin. Smooth the top and put the tin on a baking tray. Scatter the top of the cake with the Demerara sugar. Bake for about 1 hour 10 minutes until risen, lightly cracked, and firm to the touch. A skewer inserted into the centre will come out clean when the cake is cooked. Leave to cool in the tin for 30 minutes, then turn on to a wire rack to cool completely. Wrap and store for 24 hours for better flavour and texture.
    Freshly_baked_coffee_and_pecan_loaf_cake
    Dense, moist textured coffee and pecan loaf cake. Image: Kathryn Hawkins
    Overhead_sliced_coffee_and_pecan_loaf_cake
    Coffee and pecan loaf cake, ready to serve. Image: Kathryn Hawkins