Friday, 30 March 2012

The things I cook in the name of Random Recipes!

Confessions first of all - this is late! I only realised I had missed the deadline AFTER reading the lovely Random Recipes no.14 roundup post by Dom at Belleau Kitchen.

So that's not a great start.
What on earth is this... read on to find out!
Now for my excuses!

1) I've been baking like a woman possessed for a fund raising cake auction I'm organising for Sunday evening. My freezer is like an encyclopedia of frozen sponge cakes waiting to be iced... chocolate cherry cake, lemon and almond cake, Oreo cupcakes, raspberry and passion fruit fondant fancies, peanut butter layer cake, coffee loaf, and a good old Victoria sponge. In the oven as I type are some stunning looking (even if I do say so myself) pistachio and rose meringues.

So I've been in the kitchen every spare minute, just not cooking 'normal' stuff. You know. Like dinner.

2) I picked my recipe right at the start of the month, and knew it was going to be awful. We were asked to go to book number 17 on our shelf... which I duly did, with a certain sense of anticipation which quickly turned to foreboding when I discovered mine was "The Top 100 Traditional Remedies" by Sarah Merson. I suppose that's what I get for not corralling my books properly and letting them roam free around the bookcase - random intruders to the cookbook shelf!

3) The sun has been shining! That's enough distraction usually without the two above. And not only has the sun been shining, it has been warm sunshine, not the usual Scottish 'haha I am lulling you into a false sense of optimism' sun, that encourages you to go out without a coat, then disappears later in the day leaving you with mild hypothermia on the way home. So we have been mainly having picnics (in the park, on the balcony, both seemed as much fun to Mini-M, but one was a lot less logistically challenging!), going for lots of walks to feed the ducks, play on the swings and look at the boats in the docks, and generally not blogging.

I think three's enough.

Right ANYWAY... back to the random recipe.

I dutifully opened the book at a random page and discovered I would be making Pumpkin Seed Porridge. I am not a fan of pumpkin seeds. One or two sprinkled in things are OK. Lots, and definitely pretty much just pumpkin seeds, are not.

But in the spirit of the challenge, I made it anyway! And decided that since I had no intention of eating it - after all, isn't that the point of husbands - to sample dubious culinary creations - I didn't need to make it dairy free, which was good, since the other main ingredient is milk! 

And Mr E's verdict "You don't often cook things which make me question if they're actually foodstuffs".
Pretty much, don't make it unless you need to eat a lot of pumpkin seeds and don't like chewing. Otherwise he recommends you avoid it.

Pumpkin Seed Porridge (Serves 2, or I guess if you really like pumpkin seeds, 1!)
  • 150g pumpkin seeds
  • 300ml whole milk
  • Honey to taste
Blitz the pumpkin seeds with a magic wand or in a food processor until they are ground, then add the milk and blend again until well combined and starting to thicken up.
Put in a sauce pan and bring to the boil, then add honey to taste.

Oh look - it's almost the same dirty green colour as our carpet!
So on the plus side, it is a very easy recipe, and only took about 10 minutes start to finish. Which is good - I'd have struggled to spend hours creating something I knew from the start I wouldn't be eating!!!

Also, pumpkin seeds are very good for you - lots of zinc, iron, protein, fatty acids and B vitamins. (Jings, I really should try harder to like them). According to the information in the book, they fight fatigue, aid memory and their high zinc content has earned them a slightly Viagra-esque reputation. And are also useful in the treatment of intestinal parasites. So now you know!!!!!!

Here's hoping my random choice for next month turns up something more appealing...

Tuesday, 27 March 2012

The Daring Bakers' March 2012 Challenge: Tiger (Soda) Bread

Sara and Erica of Baking JDs were our March 2012 Daring Baker hostesses! Sara & Erica challenged us to make Dutch Crunch bread, a delicious sandwich bread with a unique, crunch topping. Sara and Erica also challenged us to create a one of a kind sandwich with our bread.

This has been a hectic month, and so the Daring Bakers was pushed to the bottom of my to do list, and suddenly it was today, the 27th, posting day and I hadn't even started! I didn't have time to bake 'proper' bread, with kneading and rising, but was keen to try the tiger Dutch Crunch topping, which forms a cracked pattern as it cooks, earning it the nickname tiger bread (or giraffe bread, as Sainsbury's recently rebranded theirs in the UK).

So what was I to do... make tiger soda bread!!! And it worked - it's always a relief when crazy last minute experiments come out OK.

Here's how I did it.

Dairy Free Soda Bread (makes 1 loaf)

  • 370g plain flour
  • 130g wholemeal flour
  • 1 tsp bicarbonate of soda
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 40g sunflower oil
  • 300ml almond milk
  • 1 tbsp lemon juice

Tiger Topping (enough for 1-2 loaves)

  • 1 tbsp dried active yeast
  • 120ml warm water
  • 1 tbsp sugar
  • 1 tbsp vegetable oil
  • generous pinch of salt
  • 120g brown rice flour

Preheat the oven to 190C (fan) and grease a baking sheet.
In a bowl, whisk together all of the topping ingredients and leave to sit for 15 minutes whilst you make the soda bread dough.
Mix the lemon juice into the almond milk ad leave to sit for a minute or two.
In a large mixing bowl, stir together the flours, salt and bicarbonate of soda until thoroughly combined.
Make a well in the centre, add the oil and about 250ml of the milk.
Mix until it forms a sticky dough, adding more of the milk as needed. If it gets too sticky you can always add a little bit extra flour.
Tip out onto a floured surface and knead for a minute then form into a short fat sausage.
Put it on your greased baking sheet and flatten off slightly.
Liberally smear the top in the Tiger Topping. Very liberally, otherwise it won't crack. You'll have some left over, but not too much!
Bake near the top of the oven for about 30 mins until cracked and browned, and the loaf sounds hollow when you turn it over and knock on the bottom.
Soda bread can sometimes be a bit doughy in the middle - to help solve this problem, you can tip it upside down and give it an extra few minutes that way.
Cool on a rack.

So what does it taste like...? I don't know! It's waiting to become tomorrow's breakfast, so no sandwich pictures. I'll update this tomorrow after we've tried it.

But it certainly looks the part...

Monday, 26 March 2012

When the sun shines, it's time to picnic!

We're having a warm snap. Not often something that can be said in Scotland, and particularly not in March. But for the past three days, it has been glorious. The pessimist in me is saying that this might be all the summer we get, and just in case that turns out to be true, we've been making the most of it.

In fact, since Saturday, we've eaten four meals outside, including both lunch and tea today. Mini-M has had her first ice lolly, and spent a long time running, jumping, climbing, shouting, laughing and generally getting very mucky like a little feral child.

For tea tonight we packed a picnic and headed to Victoria Park, where there were yet more swings, slides and bubbles. She is going to be heart broken when the weather returns to normal.

Whilst she napped, I made a picnic, and since it was for tea, felt that I had to try to make a bit more effort than sandwiches.

So I made a sausage, onion and spaghetti frittata, and some roasted cauliflower salad. They were both delicious - and more importantly for picnic food, quick and easy!

Sausage, Onion and Spaghetti Frittata (Serves 4)

  • 4 eggs,
  • 10 cooked cocktail sausages
  • 1/2 an onion
  • 2 tbsp sweet chilli sauce
  • 1 portion of cooked spaghetti
  • 2 tbsp sunflower oil
  • Pepper to season

Heat the oil in a frying pan, and in the meantime, chop the onion and sausages.
Fry gently until the onion has softened.
Beat the eggs and chilli sauce together, then season with pepper.
Separate the spaghetti so that it isn't too clumped together (if you are using leftovers like me), then add to the pan.
Pour over the egg mixture and turn the heat down.
Allow to cook on the hob for about 5 minutes, then put under a moderate grill for another 5, until it is set.
Cut into wedges to serve.

Roasted Cauliflower Salad (Serves 3) (inspired by this BBC Good Food recipe)

  • 1 medium head of cauliflower
  • 2 tbsp cold pressed rapeseed oil (or olive oil, but something with some flavour)
  • Pinch of chilli salt
  • Handful of raisins
  • Handful of almonds
  • 1 tbsp honey
  • 1 tbsp cider vinegar
  • 2 handfuls of peppery salad leaves

Preheat the oven to 200C.
Break the cauliflower into florets and toss in the oil and chilli salt, then roast in a casserole dish for about 30 minutes, until cooked but still quite crunchy, giving them a good shake about once, halfway through.
Whisk together the honey and vinegar.
Chop the salad leaves if they are large.
Once the cauliflower has cooled slightly, mix it all together in a tupperware box, snap the lid on, and you're ready to picnic.

I LOVE cauliflower. I always used to make cauliflower cheese, but since that would be pushing even my dairy free substitution boundaries a bit too far, I've been looking for exciting things to do with it, that taste delicious and don't just make me feel sad that the cheese sauce is missing. This definitely does the trick. And time for a confession - we get some fantastic salad leaves (as well as a very handsome cauliflower this week!) in our veg box from East Coast Organics, there are peppery ones, rocket (which is the only one I can identify), ones with pinkish tips, long thin ones, crunchy ones, - a plethora of salad greens that I have absolutely no idea what they are. For this I used some long thing ones, that are fairly peppery, but not quite as much as rocket... I think I need to do some googling to improve my salad identification!

Friday, 23 March 2012

Poorly Pikelets

Last week I had the lurgy, of the stuffed up head, weird wobbly falling over balance, poppy ears and wheezy chest variety. Yuck. (Better now though thank goodness).

So I spent a LOT of time steaming my head,  by which I mean inhaling hot steam to soothe and decongest all the stuffiness. I alternated steam with a few drops of decongestant oil blend and dried chamomile flowers, and it seemed to do the trick.

And never one to turn down a multitasking opportunity, I made sesame pikelets at the same time, steaming away whilst each pikelet was cooking, then stopping to come up for air and flip them over.

Sesame Pikelets (Makes 8-12 depending on size)

  • 1/2 cup plain flour
  • 1/2 cup wholemeal plain flour
  • 1 cup sesame milk (you could also use soya or real milk)
  • 1 egg
  • 1 tsp baking powder
  • 1 tbsp lemon juice
  • 1 tbsp raw cane sugar
  • 1/8 cup olive oil
  • 1 heaped tbsp sesame seeds
  • pinch of salt

Whisk all the ingredients together until well combined.
You can go for the sift dry ingredients, make a well add wet and gradually mix in the edges approach if you want, or the chuck it all in and beat it like crazy approach which I went for.
Heat a small non-stick frying pan over a medium heat and grease with a little melted margarine or oil, then cook small ladlefuls for about 2-3 minutes, before flipping over and cooking the other side for another 2.
Allow to cool wrapped in a tea towel.

I made one into a bear for Mini-M. Isn't it odd how eating the facial features of an animal doesn't seem to phase little kids one bit, but when you think about it is fairly sinister!

There was some serious deliberation involved over order - you could see her mentally ranking the fruit... a tough call since strawberry, grapes and apricots are all favourites - I'm a cruel parent creating such dilemmas!!!

Wednesday, 21 March 2012

It's Been A Masochistic Week...

... or so it would seem, on reflection! But a fun one.

Tonight, I spent the evening with the Edinburgh Cake Ladies at Mimi's Bakehouse, sharing and comparing some spectacular tarts. Just that I since I'm currently failing on the dairy re-introduction, I couldn't eat any of them. But mmmmmm they looked awesome. Chocolate, caramel, rhubarb, frangipane, pecan, custard, lemon, bergamot, raspberry, apple, onion - the list goes on. The table was literally groaning with tarty specimens - well done cake ladies! All set in the ever lovely and now bigger and better than ever Mimi's Bakehouse. (Next time you're in Leith, pop in for some seriously amazing cakes and yummy food, served with a touch of both elegance and mischief.)

And my tart... I made a Rum and Coconut Treacle Tart. I'm classing it as neither a success or failure - the jury remains out. Dairy free margarine doesn't make good pastry, but putting rum in anything makes it taste good, so the end result was kind of neutral. I'll post it soon, because for once I got some nice baking photos! Yey - natural daylight.

But back to the masochism... pretty much at the other end of the scale from an evening of cake feasting, on Saturday I ran the Mighty Deerstalker "5k" adventure race. "5k" turned out to be more like 8k, with a host of obstacles including scree climbs, bogs, river crossings, cargo nets and two 6ft high walls! But my partner in crime and I both completed it relatively unscathed - well done Mrs H!!!

Unglamorous - but I'm not sure there is a glamorous way to get a leg up over a 6ft wall! (Thankyou kind helping man!)
Starting from the grounds of Traquair House in the lovely Scottish Borders, participants are encouraged to get into the 'country' theme by dressing in tweed - hence the name, however we reckoned running in fancy dress was an additional challenge we didn't need. But on the other hand we were worried that by looking too serious about it, we might be mistaken for people that could actually run. Let's get this clear - we can't!
Watch out Bambi!
Mummy School goes Deerstalking
So I set to work customising some t-shirts... Mummy School Goes Deerstalking, complete with Bambi in the cross-hairs on the front. I used iron on flock transfer for the front picture, and squeeze fabric paint pens for the writing on the back, tracing over printed letters which I placed between the layers. They survived the race along with us, but even the best efforts of our washing machine couldn't get out the mud!

Tuesday, 20 March 2012

No Croutons Required - Spicy!

This Month's No Croutons Required theme is spicy - we were tasked with cooking up a spicy vegetarian soup or salad, and since it's is our lovely host Lisa's birthday, she has also challenged us to come up with a birthday menu from other recipes we've blogged about in the past.

I'm a big fan of soup with assorted nibbles as a main meal, leaving more room for pudding! So that's my menu.

For the challenge I made Spicy Tomato and Lentil Soup (recipe at the end of the post) which is delicious -  and some has gone with Mini-M to nursery today for lunch, so hopefully she thinks so too! She's currently a fan on all things tomato soup related, but the lentils, spilt peas and barley in this one make it a bit more substantial and nutritious than the tomato a basil variety she's been polishing of by the bowlful. Fingers crossed!

I'd serve it with some Marinated Feta flavoured with fresh herbs, honey, garlic and lemon

Some crusty Quick Cider Bread to mop up the bowl

Some zingy and crunchy Fennel, Chickpea and Chili Salad

And some vibrant and very very orange Roasted Carrot and Cumin Dip

Then for some decadent birthday afters, warm and gooey Upside Down Pear and Chocolate Cake

Happy Birthday Lisa!!!!

Spicy Tomato Soup (Serves 6-8)

  • 1 large onion
  • 3 medium carrots
  • 1 tin of plum tomatoes in juice
  • 1.5 litres of vegetable stock
  • 2 large handfuls of soup pulses - I have a jar in my cupboard containing a mix of red lentils, pearl barley, puy lentils and yellow split peas - but use whatever combination you like!
  • 1 tsp ground cumin
  • 1 tsp ground turmeric
  • 1/2 tsp chili powder (add more or less depending on how spicy you like it)
  • 2 tbsp olive oil

Heat the olive oil in a large pan.
Whilst it is warming, roughly peel and chop the onion and carrots.
Add to the hot oil and sauté for a minute or two, then add the spices and allow to cook, stirring frequently for a few minutes more.
Add the stock, pulses and tomatoes and then simmer over a very low heat for 2-3hours until the pulses are soft.
Blitz with a magic wand, or in a food processor, and season to taste.
Hot, hearty and healthy :o)

Monday, 19 March 2012

Al Fresco Birthday Cake

"Oh" said Mr E, coming into the kitchen "I didn't realise you were planning on making birthday cake"

"Well, I wasn't" I said "But the grapes in the fruit dish were needing used up"

There was a moment of silence, then Mr E said "You do know that most normal people would just eat the grapes, right, and not try to bake with them"

"Yes" I replied "And your point is...?"

So we had some grapes that were starting to look a little bit sad. Grapes are fairly near the top of the fruit pedestal in our house, and are generally reserved for Mini-M, so there was no chance of them being allowed to continue on their journey to past it wrinklyness. And yes, I know, we could have just eaten them, but where's the fun in that!

I'd seen grape cake recipes before, but most seemed to be for black grapes. One I found online claimed to be easy, then contained 17 ingredients (and I'm not exaggerating). So I went recipe off-roading on my own... and it turned out really well.

So if eating your bashy grapes seems too boring then I strongly encourage you to give this recipe a go!

Grape Cake (Serves 10)

  • 225g Self Raising Flour
  • 100g Rapadura (or sugar)
  • 50ml Ginger Cordial
  • 50g Ground Almonds
  • 175g Green Seedless Grapes
  • 200ml Oil (I used rapeseed)
  • Zest of 1 Orange

Preheat the oven to 180C (170C fan).
Grease and base line an 8 inch loose bottomed cake tin.
Wash and half the grapes.
Sieve the flour into a large mixing bowl, and stir in the ground almonds and rapadura.
Beat together the oil, eggs, orange zest and ginger cordial until well combined.
Add the wet ingredients to the dry.
Mix well and then stir in the grapes.
Tap to level and then bake for about 35 minutes, until a skewer inserted comes out clean.
Allow to cool in the tin for about 10 minutes before turning out onto a cooling rack to finish cooling, then dust with icing sugar.

This is a robust cake - it survived being transported at a 45 degree angle under Mini-M's buggy around the Botanic Gardens and emerged unscathed to be enjoyed with a hot cup of tea in one of the first 'picnics' of the year. Shame it was a little too windy for the kitsch dinosaur candles to light - thank you Poundland!

It went down well all round. Mini-M in particular was a fan. In fact as soon as cake was being handed around, she literally launched herself at a piece, then wolfed it down at top speed - she tends not to get 'real' cake and clearly was making the most of the opportunity! Since then, she's asked hopefully on several occasions about 'moar cick' (excuse my attempt at writing her pronunciation. Just imagine that more has 2 syllables, and cake has no vowels and you'll pretty much be there) but she'll have to wait until there's another birthday to celebrate!

Sunday, 18 March 2012

A Tale of Two Mueslis

Last weekend we all got together to celebrate Uncle P and Auntie L's birthdays.

Mini-M spent a happy half hour sprinkling the kitchen floor with oats and raisins helping me rustle up some birthday muesli mix.

I used a mix of gluten free oat flakes and rolled quinoa flakes as the base for both, then added some polar opposite extras...

To one jar I added dried dates, apricots, raisins, goji berries, prunes, cashews, almonds, sunflower seeds and pumpkin seeds. To the other I added mini marshmallows and crushed Oreos.

They may be twins, but they have different approaches to breakfast...

Friday, 16 March 2012

Mini-M Makes... Tropical Pirate Muffins

Right now Mini-M is into mixing, so I thought some muffin making might prove popular. It did, and it also lead to the discovery of possibly an even more fun kitchen job... sprinkling. It's on a par with mixing in terms of mess. Mini M's sprinkling is more enthusiastic than accurate, and her mixing has sudden catapulting tendencies when quite a lot of the contents which were up until that moment in the bowl end up very quickly out of the bowl. Thank goodness for vacuum cleaners!

Incidentally, we're now calling the vacuum the hoover, after she spent quite a long time standing shouting 'vacuum', just that it didn't quite sound like that! And I don't want to the the parent in charge some day when she randomly starts shouting it in her buggy as we're walking along the street. "Hoofer, hoofer, Mummy hoofer!" is slightly less embarrassing than the alternative! The usual "Broccoli" "Tortoise" "No Doggy" "Seagull" repertoire of buggy shouting gets us enough funny looks...

Anyway... back to the muffins!

Tropical Pirate Muffins (makes 12 small muffins)

  • 150g Self Raising Flour
  • 75g Plain Flour
  • 1/2 tsp Bicarbonate of Soda
  • 1/2 cup Coconut Sugar
  • 1 egg
  • 180ml Coconut Water
  • 90ml Oil (I used rapeseed)
  • Desiccated Coconut for sprinkling

Preheat the oven to 180C and line a 12 hole bun tin with paper cases.
Sieve the dry ingredients into a bowl (I have to confess I didn't sieve). If you have a little kitchen pixie helping you, then it is essential to stir it after every addition, including the first one. Vigorously. With a lot of spoon waving and many cries of 'keep the spoon in the bowl!'.
Add the wet ingredients and beat well to mix.
Spoon into the prepared cases - it worked out at about 1 tablespoon in each.
Sprinkle with the desiccated coconut.
Bake for about 20 minutes - waving good bye to them before putting them in the oven is also optional...

Walk away from the mess...
These tasted really lovely, which was a bonus! It's always a bit hit or miss with a 'fling some things together in a bowl' recipe, but there's generally not much time for anything more considered or careful when Mini-M is helping.
And the proof of the muffin is in the...
...sprinkling, of crumbs from on high!

Wednesday, 14 March 2012

Daring Cooks' Challenge March 2012: Brave the Braise

The March, 2012 Daring Cooks' Challenge was hosted by Carol a/k/a Poisonive - and she challenged us all to learn the art of Braising! Carol focused on Michael Ruhlman's technique and shared with us some of his expertise from his book "Ruhlman's Twenty".
My braising recipe choice was dictated by the veg box, and what needed using up: potatoes! After some searching, I came across a recipe for braised sausages and potatoes on the BBC website, by Rick Stein and originally from the Mediterranean Escapes Series, titled "Fennel Sausages Braised with Lemony Potatoes and Bay Leaves". I did have some sausages in the freezer, so it seemed like a winner!

After digging out the sausages, I discovered they were of the spicy pepper chorizo style variety, with no fennel in sight - oh, and as usual I didn't have a lemon!

So I went with what I had and used the same method, reducing the quantities a bit too, so that there weren't too many leftovers for tomorrow.

Braised Spicy Sausage and Potatoes (Serves 3)

  • 6 pork 'chorizo style' sausages (about 350-400g in total) - mine had a lot of red pepper and garlic in them, as well as spices
  • 1 medium onion
  • 1 tbsp olive oil
  • 500-600g waxy potatoes
  • 150ml water
  • 4 dried bay leaves
  • 1 tbsp bottled lemon juice
  • 1 tbsp fresh parsley chopped

Preheat the oven to 180C
In an oven and hob proof casserole dish with a lid, heat the oil and then brown the sausages for a few minutes.
Finely slice the onion and add it to the sausages and cook until translucent.
Peel and chunk the potatoes - mine we fairly small, so I left most in quarters. Don't cut them too small or they will get overcooked and soupy.
Add the potatoes, water, lemon juice and bay leaves.
Cover with the lid and pop in the oven for about 30-40 minutes.
Remove the lid and return to the oven for another 5 minutes to colour.
Stir through the fresh parsley just before serving.
Delicious! We ate ours with coleslaw.

Would I make it again - yes! It's a lower hassle variation on Bangers and Mash! If your sausages aren't garlicky, then add a clove of garlic along with the onion. You could chuck in some other veg too - turnip, swede, carrot, parsnip - they'd all be lovely.

Whilst searching for the sausage recipe, I stumbled across another one that took my fancy on the BBC website - this time a sweet braise - Aromatic Braised Apricots by Jane Sen. I was intrigued and had everything to hand, so we had a doubly braised dinner tonight - main course and dessert!

I had hoped that Mini-M would eat this - she absolutely adores dried apricots - but the melt down over main course meant that pudding didn't happen - so we'll have to wait until tomorrow to find out!

I've scaled back Jane's recipe to serve 2-3 and tweaked it a little to incorporate more of a braising element, rather than just simmering.

Spiced Braised Apricots with Cashew Cream (Serves 2-3)

  • 150gm dried apricots
  • 2 cardamom pods
  • a generous pinch of ground cinnamon
  • 1 heaped tsp of dairy free margarine
  • Water
  • 80g cashew nuts
  • 100ml apple juice

Melt the margarine in a small saucepan then add the apricots, cardamom and cinnamon and stir for a few minutes until they are just starting to colour.
Add boiling water to cover and allow to simmer for about 30 minutes until the apricots are plump and the water has thickened into syrup. Add a little more water from time to time if necessary.
To make the cream, put the cashews in a food processor and blitz until finely ground. The smaller you can get the meal the smoother your cream will be. Mine was still fairly 'bitty' but it didn't bother us!
Scrape down the sides of the processor bowl, then put it back on at a low speed and gradually pour in the apple juice. Once it is all incorporated, whizz it up for another minute then chill until you're ready.

This is a dessert that is sweet, creamy, delicious, and has no added sugar! I am a convert to cashew cream too - so easy and so tasty.

Thanks Carol for adding two new recipes to my arsenal!

Tuesday, 13 March 2012

Fruity Clafoutis

Here's another creation that is normally fairly dairy intense, which I've de-dairied. I was going to type 'so that we could enjoy it' but that's not strictly true... so that I could enjoy it! I'm sure Mr E would have enjoyed the regular version more, and even the lure of blueberries couldn't encourage Mini-M to try some.

It was lovely though - and a very good way to use up some fruit that was looking slightly worse for the wear after spending the day travelling around in a Tupperware box in the car for Mini-M's snacks!

Fruity Clafoutis (Serves 4-6)

  • Fruit of your choosing - I used about 100g blueberries, 6 strawberries and half a tin of crushed pineapple, minus the juice
  • 1tbsp dairy free margarine
  • 25g sugar

For the batter

  • 30g plain flour
  • 10g coconut flour
  • (Or 65g plain flour and no coconut flour)
  • 2 eggs
  • 25g sugar
  • 180ml Oatly Chocolate oat milk
  • 1/2 tsp vanilla extract

Melt the tbsp margarine in a small frying pan, then add the sugar an allow to melt. Chop the strawberries into chunks, and stir them and the blueberries into the melted butter an sugar. Allow to gently sauté for a few minutes, on a low heat, but don't stir too much otherwise the blueberries will break up. Take off the heat and stir in the pineapple.
Preheat the oven to 200C and lightly grease a flan dish.
Put the fruit in the bottom of the dish
Beat together the batter ingredients until smooth and pour over the fruit.
Bake for 20 minutes until it is lightly puffed up, set to the touch and golden.
Allow to cool slightly before serving otherwise you'll burn your mouth with boiling blueberries!

We also ate this cold the next day - and although that's not a conventional way to eat clafoutis, it was still delicious.

Monday, 12 March 2012

Chicken and Broccoli Bake - Tastes like being 8 again!

If there is one dish that reminds me of my childhood, it is this Chicken and Broccoli Bake. It's not that we had it that often, probably more the fact that we didn't, but I really liked it, so the times when we did stood out. And that sometimes Mum made it when we were having a house full of visitors, so it has a whole caboodle of associated happy memories of gaggles of children running riot around the house and garden, doing summersaults onto piles of sofa cushions over the chin-up bar which was fixed up at waist height, dressing up, performing 'plays', treasure hunts and general chaos.

Times that we were lucky to enjoy in abundance growing up (thanks Mum and Dad!!!). Which is why I thought I would submit it into The Pink Whisk Save the Children Recipe Challenge. Ruth at the Pink Whisk is creating a digital recipe book of 'family favourites' which will later be sold to raise money and awareness for the Name A Day campaign which urges the PM "to lead a big push to end hunger by naming a day when he'll host a global hunger summit".

Save the Children want to see changes made to the global food system so that it can be a positive force in ending the daily hunger that affects millions of children (and adults) worldwide every day.

I think the recipe came originally from an old St Michael Christmas recipe book, where it went under the title of "Turkey Hollandaise" but to me it has always been Chicken and Broccoli Bake. Made with that 1980s kitchen staple... a tin of condensed chicken soup. Which is most definitely not dairy free. But not to worry, I made some substitutions and there was actually no observable taste difference to what I remember growing up. But if you fancy making it, and are able to eat dairy, then I'd just go with the tin - it's a lot less hassle!

Chicken and Broccoli Bake (Serves 4)
  • 8oz Broccoli
  • 4 large cooked chicken drumsticks (or thighs)
  • 250ml dairy free 'condensed chicken soup' (see recipe below) or a 10oz can of actual condensed chicken soup
  • 2 tbsp lemon juice
  • 2-3 tbsp white wine
  • 4 tbsp mayonnaise
  • pepper
  • 1oz fresh breadcrumbs
  • a splash of olive oil (mine was infused with lemon - you don't need this if you're using cheese)
  • 1oz cheese (optional, if you're not trying to be dairy free)
Preheat the oven to 180C.
Take the meat off the cooked chicken drumsticks.
Cut the broccoli into florets and microwave it for a couple of minutes to soften it slightly, then place the pieces evenly over the bottom of a casserole dish.
Fill the gaps left by the broccoli with the chicken pieces.
In a bowl, whisk together the soup, mayo, lemon juice, wine and pepper, then pour it over the chicken and broccoli.
Mix the breadcrumbs with the oil (or cheese) and sprinkle over the top.
Bake for 30 minutes until the breadcrumbs turn golden and crispy.
Enjoy with salad and potatoes.

And if you're cooking the dairy free version, then you'll also need to make this recipe up first...

Dairy Free 'Condensed Chicken Soup' substitute (makes 500ml)
  • 2 tbsp oil (I used rapeseed)
  • 2 tbsp plain flour
  • 1 tbsp corn flour
  • 500ml chicken stock
Heat the oil in a saucepan, then add the flours and stir until well combined, then cook over a low heat for a few minutes.
Add the stock a little by little, whisking after each addition, then simmer until it thickens to the desired consistency - it took me about 5 mins, bearing in mind it thickens more when it cools.

This makes twice as much as you need for the recipe, but was the amount of stock I had - if you're just needing it for this recipe, feel free to half it!

So there you go - a taste of my childhood!

Creamy... but dairy free!


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