Thursday, 30 September 2010

Mini-Banoffee Pies

So a while ago I was complaining how my SD card was acting up...I take it all back, I'm simply to stupid to look in all the different subfolders on it (why my camera has decided to create different subfolders is not that clear to me though) so guess what, I found loads of photos that I had already given up on :) (today is gonna be a good day! I can feel it!)
Anyhow, so instead of a pretty amazing apple sauce (which you'll probably get this weekend) you are now getting the amazingly amazing mini-banoffee pies I made for Anna's birthday.
They are pretty similar to the Strawboffee Pie recipe I posted a while back.
A random bit of information - 100% of people who have come here via a search engine at some point since the beginning of August searched for a strawboffee pie recipe...not quite sure whether that's supposed to make me happy or sad.
Right, back to the pies, the main difference is that they don't use cream so they are a non-dairy-lover's dream :)

Mini-Banoffee Pies
1 Hobnob per person
Bananas (1 for 2-3 portions tends to work well)
Plain soy cream cheese (I like the tofutti)
Soy cream
1-2 tbsp Sugar
Vanilla extract
Caramel (this is the deciding ingredient if you want to make this recipe vegan, if you use the normal stuff in the tin from someone like Carnation or Dairy Maid it will obviously have milk in, but if you  make it yourself you can make it without dairy which will make the recipe properly vegan)

Whip the cream cheese and the soy cream together, add some sugar (you're not aiming for properly sweet, don't forget it's gonna go on top of the caramel, so try after you've added the first spoonful).
Mix in the vanilla extract and set the mixture aside.
Slice the banana into 1 pound coin thick slices.
Put a hobnob onto each plate, top with 2-3tsp caramel, add some banana slices and then finish it off with a dollop of the soy-cream mix.
Now, since it was Anna's birthday we obviously had to add sprinkles (and you have other people to thank that they weren't the full on Barbie sprinkles or the Scooby Doo ones)
They are amazing after a light dinner but I must admit they were also amazing for breakfast the next morning (I made a fresh one) when I realized that I didn't have any actual food in the fridge.
So while I think they would be amazing with some desert wine, they are also quite amazing with a cup of tea :)

Monday, 27 September 2010

Orange Kanten

Before you ask, Kanten is the Japanese name for Agar-Agar so basically, todays recipe is a vegan jelly :)
But you have to admit, Kanten sounds like 10 times more exciting.
I had the idea for this recipe a couple of years ago around lent. Verena had gone on her usual 'no sweets' whereas I was on my usual 'let's go vegan for 40 days' and we were trying to have dinner together. So the search led me down the sugar-free things route because if it doesn't have any added sugar it's obviously ok, right ;) 
The original version was pretty much just blood orange juice and Agar flakes but I've since experimented and while the colour is not as pretty I actually prefer the taste of the Tropicana Ruby Breakfast mix (yes, I am a total slave to my brands where orange juice is concerned, don't judge me) with a hint of agave syrup.

Orange Kanten
1l Orange juice
5 tbsp Agar flakes
2 tbsp Agave syrup

Mix the Agar flakes and 2 cups of the orange juice in a pot, heat until it starts to boil and keep it bubbling for about 5 minutes while stirring it regularly (no running off to read that trashy novel just now!) until the agar flakes have dissolved.
Take off the heat, stir in the agar syrup and the rest of the orange juice. I don't heat up all the orange juice in the hope that whatever vitamins  are in the non-concentrate awesomeness won't all die, I'm not quite sure how much that actually helps though (but I can always hope).
Pour everything into a pretty bowl or glasses, chill for at least 4 hours and then serve after a fabulous meal (or for breakfast) :)

Thursday, 23 September 2010

Vegetarian Chilli

I'm sorry I've been so bad with my posts lately, but I'm drowning a bit on the work-front - so bear with me, I'm telling myself it will get better soon :)
Recently everyone and their grandma seems to have been writing about chillis. I have been quite taken by Jenna's creamy chicken chilli on Eat, Live, Run which just looks gorgeous, but I've been shying away from making it because it would involve me having to cook actual chicken (so we'll save that until I feel slightly more adventurous) but with everyone talking about their mum's chilli I started thinking about my dad's chilli (he's the god of the chilli in our family) which is based on Jamie Oliver's chilli recipe from one of the first books.
So on Saturday I decided to improvise and make my own chilli con fake-carne.
I was in the flat hiding from all the freshers that have descended upon town with their parents in tow. It was nice and sunny outside but I was snuggled up in my favourite armchair with a cup of tea, this month's issue of Monocle and I had a simulation running for my current study. Good times!

Vegetarian Chilli
1cup Cannellini beans
1cup Black eyed beans
500g Vegetarian mince (I like Quorn but just use whatever you like/can find, just keep in mind that you'll want to use less if you're using dry stuff)
Olive oil
2 Onions
5 Garlic cloves (I would have used more but I ran out)
1 tbsp Chilli flakes
1 tbsp Cumin (ground, not the whole stuff)
1 tsp Oregano
3 tbsp Brown sugar
50g Dark chocolate
200g Tomato puree (the concentrated stuff)
4 cans Peeled plum tomatoes (or chopped if you're feeling particularly lazy)
250ml Red wine

Some pasta and cheese

All right, in the morning soak the beans in two separate bowls (if you're planning to make the chilli for dinner, not sure why they always tell you to soak stuff overnight, it's not like you'll be making it first thing in the least I hope you won't).
The cannellini beans will take a bit over an hour to cook, the black eyed beans will only take half an hour. I normally cook the first ones for 35-40 minutes before adding the later ones (ok, sometimes that goes a bit wrong, but hey, it's a chilli, nobody will notice some overcooked beans).
While the beans are boiling away, chop the onions and garlic, fry the onions until they're glassy, then add the garlic and wait until you can smell the amazingess of the garlic in your kitchen.
Add the mince and give it a couple of minutes.
Add the chilli flakes, cumin, oregano and brown sugar and stir.
After a minute or something add the tomato puree, stir and give it another minute.
Add the red wine and then after yet another minute add the tomatoes.
Now it's time to relax (don't forget the beans though if they're still boiling away). Give the chilli an hour or so, stirring occasionally. You'll want to add the chocolate about halfway through (i.e. whenever you remember).
After an hour or so add the drained beans and give the whole thing another 10 or 15 minutes. This is just enough time to make some pasta and to grate some cheese (normally I would have chilli with some bread but I thought I should mix it up for a change).
Season the chilli with some salt and pepper or potentially even with some marmite or vegetable stock if you feel it needs it.
Serve some pasta with a big helping of chilli and lots of unhealthy cheese.
Enjoy in the company of lovely people with a good bottle of wine :)

Saturday, 18 September 2010


Today's recipe is one that turned out to be rather fabulous for a road trip as well.
With plum season in full swing I had a couple of handfuls of damsons, victoria plums and green gages kicking about and I was looking for something nice and sweet to make a not-so-fabulous afternoon a bit better (and believe me, it worked incredibly well) so along came idea of making a cobbler.
Cobblers and I go way back :) I used to make them potentially a bit too often (with apples and mixed berries) when I was involved in organizing a UN simulation with friends but then I pretty much stopped when I went to uni (don't ask me why, I can't think of a particular reason other than not really liking the mixed berries at our supermarket in St Andrews, which is the lamest excuse I have ever come up with) but Nadine reminded me of the good old cobbler times so when I was thinking of what to do with the plums I thought this would be a fabulous opportunity to try a slightly more grown-up version.

Just under 2 pounds of plums (damsons for colour, victoria plums for the fun of it and green gages for the sweetness), already pitted and chopped into bite-size pieces
100g Sugar
200g Flour (I used Kamut this time so it would be nice and autumnal but plain flour works just as well)
2tsp Baking powder
75g Butter (leave it in the fridge until you need it and the quickly dice it)
A pinch of salt
1tsp Cinnamon
80ml Buttermilk
1 Egg

Preheat your oven to 180 degrees.
Put the plums and 50g of the sugar into a baking dish and set them aside.
Mix the remaining dry ingredients in a bowl, add the butter and mix until the whole thing resembles breadcrumbs. I think this is always my favourite part because depending on the spices you use this smells just amazing and I love the texture you get here.
Anyway, back to the cobbler, mix in the egg and the buttermilk and once things are nicely combined put teaspoon-size bits all over. See how it goes, depending on the shape of your baking dish you might not need all of it. You'll still want to see some bits where there's plums sticking out.
Stick everything into the oven and give it somewhere between 30 and 50 minutes (depending on how brown your want the topping bits) before you take it out again and stare at it in adoration.
Enjoy with some cream or some ice-cream or without anything (as we did on the way down south).

Monday, 13 September 2010

Tuna Sandwich Filling

I made my way down to Oxford yesterday and while I have now decided that 6 hours is my absolute limit for enjoying anything car-related I got to make a packed lunch (ok, probably closer to enough food to feed a large family for 2 weeks) and it made me realize again how much I love making packed lunch (not on a regular basis, don't even get any ideas revolving around me making a packed lunch for more than one day in a row). So I got slightly carried away :)
Today's recipe is a sandwich filling which I found in one of the Asterix cookbooks (yes, you're thinking about the right thing when you're thinking comic books) which my mum got for me when I was 10 or so. They have lots of fun easy recipes in them that they related to scenes in the different books. If I remember correct this one was related to the fishmonger beating up whoever he always used to beat up...was that the ironsmith?
Anyhow, lots of fun recipes that actually made it into my repertoire. This filling is easy to make and works nicely on it's own or with sweetcorn or cucumber or pretty much anything else you might want to put on your sandwich.
So to celebrate both the little Gaul's amazingness and me not killing anyone on the drive down here we go:

Tuna Sandwich Filling
1 tin Tuna
3/4 of a tub of Cream cheese (I think they're 200g here but I'll check)
1tbsp Lemon juice
Smoked paprika
Chives (I didn't have any this time but they make it 10 times better!)

Attack the cream cheese with a fork so it gets a bit softer, mix in the tuna (mix until it's well incorporated), then add the lemon juice.
Season (i.e. don't just dump in the stuff but add small amounts and try as you go along :) crazy idea, I know).
Chop some chives and add them to the mix (1-2 tbsp should be enough for this).
Oh the joy :)

Friday, 10 September 2010

Sandra's Moving Cinnamon-Nut Loaf

Yesterday was a gorgeous day. It was warm enough to wear flip-flops, there was the smell of fall in the air, I finally got some work done (thank you Mr Sun for making me happy enough to work and not mind!) and my swimming times moved from 'too embarrassing to talk about' to 'ok...I can work with this'. So what more could I want you ask :) well.....
In order to celebrate my friend Sandra moving I had made a cinnamon-nut loaf which was waiting for me when I got back from the pool. Believe me, very few things have hit the spot that well in a while on the post-workout front. I had thought I hit the jackpot with a tofu and tinned peach concoction but this was in a completely different league. And when I took half the loaf over to Sandra's in the evening it tasted just as good :)
I got the idea from Ree Drummond's post a couple of weeks ago but then decided to use a dough more similar to the Challah dough in Kim Boyce's Good to the Grain.
The second 'rise' happens in the fridge so start the night before and you'll get a fabulous mid-morning treat.
So here we go:

Cinnamon-Nut Loaf
250ml Milk or milk substitute (I used 150ml rice milk and 100ml soy cream), lukewarm
42g Fresh yeast
1 tbsp Agave syrup
250g Kamut flour
150g Spelt flour
50g Corn meal
2 tsp Salt
2 Eggs (at room temperature)
150g + 3 tbsp Butter + some for the tin (also at room temperature)
75g Sugar
1 tbsp Cinnamon
75g Chopped nuts (e.g. walnuts or hazelnuts or pecans)

Make a sponge using the milk, yeast, syrup and a couple of tablespoons of the flour. Give the sponge around 30 minutes then mix it with the rest of the flour, salt, eggs and 150g of the butter.
Knead the dough forever. Nah, just kidding but give it 10 minutes (your arms will thank you). If the dough is still sticky add some more flour (add small amounts at a time) until it's still very buttery and slightly sticky (but not the kinda sticky that sticks to your hands and not to itself). A lot of people make the dough and add the butter at the end but I can never be bothered to wait for that. It does help but if you're doing the kneading by hand that adds at least another 5 minutes to your ordeal so for me the laziness wins :)
Put the dough into a bowl, cover it and allow it to rise until it's doubled in size (that normally takes 2 hrs).
When you come back knock back the dough, put it back into the bowl, cover it and stick it into the fridge overnight.
The next morning, get your bowl, knead the dough for a couple of minutes (cursing because your hands feel like they're freezing off - this is an essential part of making this loaf :) ) and then roll it out into a rectangle (Ree suggests putting your baking tin in front of you so you know what maximum width to aim for). Aim for the dough to be definitely less than a cm thick.
Now you get to relive all those childhood memories, mix the 3 tbsp butter with the sugar and cinnamon and spread the mix over the rectangle (you might not need all of it, just see how it goes). Sprinkle the nuts on top and then roll everything into a sausage (you'll want to roll it tightly, and just to be sure, roll it up so you end up with a roll the width of your baking tin, not the other way around).
Butter the tin and stick the dough roll in. Now you get to wait again (I know! But it's gonna be worth it!). Cover the tin and let the dough rise for another 2 hours or so (it should double in size again, though I always find that hard to judge when you're looking a a dough roll).
Heat your oven to 180 degrees, brush the top of the loaf with some milk or some egg-wash and bake it for 40-50 minutes.
Allow the loaf to cool slightly before you take it out of the tin.
Let it cool completely before you enjoy it with some coffee or a glass of milk.
Oh, and it's especially tasty if you have it in Sandra's new room after helping her move her stuff :)

Wednesday, 8 September 2010

Autumnal Pasta

I've made today's recipe twice over the last week. I originally made it on Anna's birthday aiming for something that would make you feel all warm and comfortable both when you look at it and when you eat it. Since my camera was doing funky things the photos for that version went missing and I made it again for a dinner with Sandra and Ashley (thank you for being my guinea-pigs every time I invite you over!) with some minor changes. You get the second version because the pasta ends up slightly pink which I think is super cool :)
Back to the warmth - I added cinnamon and nutmeg. I was originally looking for pumpkin spice mix but mine has disappeared so I went for a more christmasy theme (but if you have pumpkin spice mix or can be bothered to mix your own I would go for that, I have a feeling that would make it even better!).
I also added some chilli flakes for a tiny bit of heat which plays really nicely with the cinnamon.
Anyhow, part of why I love the recipe is because once you're done with the peeling and chopping all you have to do is boil the pasta and wait and chat to your friends or your cat or call your mum....
Also, since you're basically making roast veg, just see how it goes for quantities, you can always have some leftovers for lunch tomorrow :)

Autumnal Pasta
Beetroot, uncooked
Sweet potato
Some kind of pumpkin or squash
Pine nuts
Olive oil
Brown sugar
Chilli flakes

Some kind of pasta, e.g. linguine

Heat your oven to 220 degrees or if you have put it on the combination-fan-grill setting.
Peel the vegetables and chop them into bite-size chunks. Slice the onion into 3mm wide slices and mince the garlic.
Mix the beetroot and pumpkin with about a tablespoon of olive oil (if you're trying to save oil I would use some low calorie spray here and use actual olive oil later on) and some sugar (1 tbsp for a large baking tray is more than enough). Sprinkle with some chilli flakes (a bit less than 1tsp), cinnamon (about 1tsp) and nutmeg (no clue how much I used, I just grated away for a bit). Mix again and put everything onto a baking tray.
Bake/grill for about 10 minutes, then add the sweet potato (I don't like them when they go really soft) and the onion.
Give the veg another 15 to 20 minutes (check from time to time) and boil the kettle while you go and relax for a bit (this is the perfect time to catch up on some gossip or to prepare dessert.
About 10-15 minutes into you waiting for the veg (you want the veg to start looking soft and slightly browned, like it will need just under 10 more minutes), pour the hot water into a pot, bring it back to the boil and cook some pasta.
Once the veg is ready (which should hopefully be before the pasta is ready), take it out of the oven and put it on the side.
Heat some oil in a pan and fry the garlic until it goes all crispy. Once the garlic is ready put it on the side, clean the pan and toast some pine nuts in it (alternatively put them into an oven-proof dish and toast them in the still-warm oven).
Don't forget the pasta while you're doing all this. When the pasta is ready you'll want to be ready to drain it and, while it's still steaming, mix it with the roast veg. Grate in some parmesan cheese and toss in the garlic and pine nuts.
What I do then is allow people to season their own dish with some salt and pepper and add some olive oil if they want to (even if you've been using low calorie spray earlier on I would use actual olive oil here. Measure it out if you like, you won't need much 1/2 will be enough for one portion, but the extra oil will help carry the flavour).
 I don't know what it is about adding the oil at the end but it is just amazingly amazing.
All right, I am off for tonight, lots of travelling to plan and sort out :)

Saturday, 4 September 2010

Marzipan Pancakes

We had a girly brunch today for which I made these darlings.
I know I'm gonna sound like a bad imitation of Karl Lagerfeld's story of how he thought of this year's Spring collection, but basically I was drifting off last night when I suddenly had this one clear though of how amazingly awesome marzipan flavoured pancakes would be with an orange yoghurt cream. So off I went to the shop this morning to find some marzipan.
I'm not quite convinced by the orange yoghurt thing but I'm just gonna tell you what I did (and you get to do the improving, it might just need some whipped cream but I couldn't be bothered to make a second batch today - it's the weekend and I'm feeling decidedly lazy).

Marzipan Pancakes
11/3 cups Plain flour
1 cup Ground Almonds
11/2 tsp Baking powder
3/4 cup Marzipan, coarsely grated
3 Eggs, separated
1/3 cup Sugar
2 cups Buttermilk
1 pinch Salt

Beat the egg-whites until you have soft peaks forming, then put them aside until later.
Mix the flour, almonds, baking powder, egg-yolks, sugar, buttermilk, and salt. Then mix in 1/4 of the egg-whites and once they're properly mixed in, fold in the rest of the egg-whites and the marzipan.
Heat some butter in a pan and watch them turn into sheer amazingness while they're frying away :)

Orange Yoghurt Cream
Zest of 1 orange
4 tbsp Yoghurt
2 tsp Cointreau
2 tsp Agave syrup
Some whipped cream (I didn't add any but I think that might just do the job so add about 3 tbsp)

Mix everything together. If you're using the whipped cream I would fold it into the mix at the end.

Enjoy the pancakes in the company of some lovely people and with some awesome coffee :)

Thursday, 2 September 2010


You were actually supposed to get a recipe for autumnal pasta today but my camera decided to delete all my photos overnight. If that is the first sign of my memory-card dying I might have to cry.
Anyhow, so it's going to be a potato gratin I made a while ago. And before you ask, it DOES taste nice, I just never had the time to post it before it got warm.
Oh, and before I forget, what does the new design look like in people's browsers? Yes, the page is still not quite finished (give me another month and lots of sleep) but I only ever heard back from people who are using safari and who have the same screen resolution like me (and even though I appreciated you getting back to me that was the only combination I wasn't that interested in ;) )
So if anything looks funky PLEASE drop me a line! I might even dedicate you a recipe to return the favour :)
Back to the gratin. It was part of a series of experimental recipes I made in the spring using different starchy vegetables (they're vegetables, right?) So after a not so successful cassava experiment I decided to play with the colours of potatoes and sweet potatoes.

I know that a lot of you like to measure things but I really don't see a point in doing that for a gratin. Just fill  a dish and if there's leftovers just have them the next day! I tend to use 1 large sweet potato and a handful of normal potatoes for 2-3 people and that fits perfectly into one of those square gratin dishes (I think they're 20x20cm)
You'll need some cream, some butter, some parmesan cheese, a clove of garlic, some salt, pepper and nutmeg and that's it :)

Preheat your oven to 200 degrees.
Peel the potatoes and slice them thinly (think of the thickness of a 1 Euro coin as an upper limit)
Butter the gratin dish, half the garlic and rub it over the butter (you want it to get that hint of garlic-flavour not much more).
Then get creative when you lay out the slices. Season after each layer and add some parmesan before you start the next layer (don't overdo it on the cheese-front). Once you've used up all the potatoes or once your dish is full, season again, add some more cheese.
 Pour some cream over  the whole thing and add a few bits of butter (again, no need to overdo it).
Pop the potatoes into the oven and bake for an hour until the top is nicely browned and the potatoes are cooked through (check with a sharp knife, if the top gets too brown too quickly put some tinfoil over the top).
Enjoy your gratin with steamed vegetables or some green beans in a tomato sauce and it gets even better in good company :)
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