I love food! Not just eating it, but creating it. What beats an afternoon in the kitchen, making a mess as well as scrumptious treats? But when a friend had to alter her diet due to food intolerances I realised not everyone can carelessly indulge. So I set out to make a cake she could eat, and when I achieved a flourless, vegan chocolate cake that tasted pretty good I wondered what else was possible. And so my journey begins into a world of baking where there is always something missing...
foodie pen pal time again and as another month of exciting gourmet post passes
I find myself getting increasingly excited about the whole process. This month
I had a bit of a challenge sending a gluten free vegan parcel to Nicky at kabochafashionista,
but the challenge suited my blog perfectly and I had great fun sourcing
suitable snacks for Nicky as well as making some spiced ginger biscuits she
could enjoy (recipe to follow shortly). I then received my parcel from another
Nikki and look at the delights I received….
A Mauritian Curry Kit – well
I love a curry, but haven’t tried a Mauritian variety before so am looking
forward to trying this one.
Peppersmith fresh mints –
Nikki chose these because the unusual but refreshing lemon and mint combination
and I have to agree that they really are amazingly refreshing (and come in such
a cute box too!).
Dried mango – One of my
favourite fruits and fair trade too so a great choice with this one.
Corn Snacks – Nikki had
tried something similar in Ecuador and I have certainly enjoyed munching on
Sweet ‘n’ Salty popcorn – I
have to admit that I am normally a salty popcorn fan and avoid the sweet stuff
but this provided the perfect balance of the two flavours and was seriously
Rainbow Drops – This
was a proper throw back to my childhood, I used to love these things…woot for
the crazy colours.
Dried chillies –
These were actually bought in by Nikki in Spain last year, so super exciting to
get a continental addition to the parcel!
So thanks Nikki for all of the
exciting goodies….I have a feeling I may have developed a new addiction to
sweet ‘n’ salty popcorn!!
took some inspiration from the chillies and decided to make a flourless
chocolate chilli cake. Although flour isn’t directly used in this recipe it
isn’t actually wheat or gluten free because it does contain breadcrumbs!! But
using breadcrumbs does provide a slightly different texture from a normal
sponge cake and the very slight chilli flavour combines perfectly with the dark
chocolate in this recipe.
1 dried chilli
½ teaspoon cayenne pepper
1 tablespoon warm water
100g dark chocolate 4 large eggs 100g caster sugar Pinch of sea salt 30g cocoa powder 40ml crème fraiche
80g white bread crumbs
Pre-heat the oven to 180 deg C / 350 deg F
small loaf tin with lightly buttered greaseproof paper.
Split the chilli in half
and remove the seeds. Then chop finely and blitz in a food processor along with
the cayenne pepper and a tablespoon of warm water to form a paste. Pass the
paste through a fine sieve to remove any large bits of the chilli and put to
Break the chocolate into
a heat proof bowl and place the bowl over a pan of simmering water, making sure
that the bottom of the bowl does not touch the water in the pan. When the
chocolate begins to melt stir occasionally until lump free and glossy.
Once melted remove the chocolate from the heat,
allow to cool slightly and then mix in the chilli paste and crème fraiche until
Separate the eggs into 2 bowls.
Whisk 50g of the sugar with the egg
yolks until thick and creamy, then fold in the melted chocolate and chilli mix,
salt, cocoa powder and breadcrumbs.
In a separate bowl whisk the egg
whites until stiff and then gradually whisk in the remaining 50g sugar until
Then gradually add the egg whites
to the chocolate mix gently folding the two mixtures together. When folding the egg whites into the chocolate
mixture add a spoonful at a time gently turning the mixture over so that the
two sets of ingredients become combined without losing all of the air from the
Spoon the mixture into the cake tin
and cook in the centre of the oven for 35-40 minutes until a skewer inserted
into the centre comes out clean.
Remove from the oven and leave in
the tin to cool before loosening the edges with a knife and turn out the cake.
Dust liberally in cocoa powder
before serving, great served with a dollop of any crème fraiche you may have left over!
I think I firstly need to
apologise for my lack of blog activity lately. I seem to have been distracted
by the sudden appearance of the sun and also by my mum coming to visit…so yes I
might just blame my absence from the blogging world on my mum!!! But whilst she
was visiting we were out enjoying eating food prepared by other people rather
than spending time in the kitchen ourselves.
We enjoyed a particularly
delightful dinner at the bistro at Balloo House, a pub and restaurant to the
west of Strangford Lough in Northern Ireland. Whilst my mum enjoyed a triple
helping of duck for her main, a duck breast served with duck egg and gorgeously
light and crispy chips fried in duck fat (well it was her birthday), I tucked
into Dexter beef served on a wonderfully smooth truffle mash which definitely
beats my best efforts despite the my recent investment of a potato ricer. I
then enjoyed a buttermilk panna cotta which displayed the perfect amount of
wobble and sat plumply on the plate next to gingerbread ice cream and rhubarb…mmmmm.
All the food was beautiful and the service and atmosphere were great but I
think both myself and my mum had the greatest pleasure eating the petit fours
we ordered to accompany our coffee. There was a wonderfully light melt in the
mouth shortbread, a delicate and zesty mini wee lemon tart, a chewy bite of chocolate
brownie and then a perfect cube of glossy, smooth and rich chocolate truffle
with a delectably devine gooey centre!! I think I might be starting to get a
little bit carried away and am at serious risk of drooling on my keyboard so
now onto some of my own food (but if you get the chance I would highly
recommend a visit to Balloo).
I thought now that I have been
living in Northern Ireland for 3 months it was about time that I posted an
Irish themed recipe…with a twist of course. Potato farls are a staple over here
and an obligatory part of any respectable Ulster fry. Affectionately referred
to as ‘tatty bread’ by my dad this classic Irish recipe is a great way to use up
any leftover mash. But rather than using the traditional potato I decided to
use mashed celeriac instead…possibly a little controversial but a great excuse
to use my potato ricer again!!!
200g mashed celeriac
100g plain flour
Makes 2 farls
Take 200g of cooled mashed
To make the mash peel and chop
roughly half of a medium celeriac and boil in water until tender. Drain the
celeriac and leave it for a few minutes to allow excess moisture to steam off
before passing it through a potato ricer. Then stir in a good knob of butter
and add a generous pinch of salt and pepper.
Mix the mash together with the
Take half of the mash mixture,
form it into a rough ball shape and place on a work surface that has been
generously dusted with flour. Don’t worry if the mixture seems a bit sticky and
wet at this point.
Dust the top of the ball with
more flour and use a rolling pin to roll it out into a circular shape.
Place a frying pan on a medium
heat and add a little cooking oil to lightly grease the pan. Transfer the farl
to the pan and cook for 2-3 minutes before carefully flipping over the cook the
other side for another 2-3 minutes. If a little more colour is needed cook for
another minute or two on each side.
Turn the farl out of the pan and
cut into quarters and then repeat the above process with the remaining mixture.
The farls are best eaten warm
although they can be frozen and then popped into a toaster to heat up when
I mentioned a little while back
that my current housemate is allergic to tomatoes. I still can’t get my head
around how anyone can live without this wondrous fruit/vegetable. After a quick
audit of the contents of my cupboards and fridge I discovered I had at least 5
varieties of tomato based products (in case you are interested this included
fresh tomatoes, tinned tomatoes, sundried tomatoes, tomato puree and tomato
ketchup). And that doesn’t even include the things that contain a bit of
tomato. It was at this point that I realised that baked beans contain tomatoes.
Now I don’t eat loads of baked beans but sometimes the simple meal of beans on
toast just can’t be beaten, I think it has to be counted as one of life’s
little pleasures (small things and all that). But this got me thinking on how I
could create a tomoatoless baked bean recipe that myself and my housemate could
both enjoy. After a bit of interweb surfing I discovered that a traditional
Boston baked bean recipe is already tomatoless. And so I went about creating a
recipe based on this American classic (although I did deviate slightly from the
traditional recipe by adding some chorizo that needed to be used up, but I
think this helped to enhance the smoky flavour of this campfire classic)!
Also I cooked this recipe in a
slow cooker but it could just be cooked in a casserole dish in an oven at a low
temperature to achieve the same results.
Serves 4 hungry people
300g dried cannellini beans
150g streaky bacon
½ red onion
35g soft brown sugar
1 tablespoon English mustard
2 bay leaves
Soak the beans in water overnight
Chop the bacon and chorizo into
small chunks and finely dice the red onion.
Place half of the bacon, chorizo
and onion in the bottom of the slow cooker, drain the beans and put these on
top of the bacon mixture and then sprinkle the rest of the meat and onion on
Mix the molasses, mustard and
brown sugar together with 200ml of hot water and stir until the sugar has
dissolved and a thick syrupy liquid has formed. Pour this over the bean mix.
Depending on the size of your
slow cooker you will probably need to add more water to the mix to ensure the
beans are completely covered in liquid, so add more hot water as necessary.
Add the bay leaves and then put
the lid on the slow cooker, set to a medium heat and leave to slowly bubble
away for the next 8 hours.
After 8 hours give the mixture a
good stir. If the sauce seems a little runny at this point remove the lid from
the slow cooker and allow the mixture to reduce a little.
Then serve simply on toast or as
a jacket potato filling.
Following up from my last 'foodie pen pal parcel post' I thought I would post the recipe that I made to send to
my pen pal Kathryn last month. I wanted to include something home made in my
parcel but wanted something that would survive a journey across the Irish Sea courtesy
of Royal Mail. Of course it had to be a recipe in keeping with my blog and have
something missing. Biscuits seemed the obvious choice for something that might survive
the trip and as a mad fan of a good old cup of tea I had been wanting to try
adding earl grey to a baked treat for a while. And so gluten free earl grey tea
biscuits seemed the obvious choice!
140g icing sugar
150g brown rice flour
75g potato flour
120g wheat-free flour blend
2 earl grey tea bags
½ vanilla pod
½ teaspoon cream of tartar
Pre-heat the oven to 190 deg C / 370 deg F
Beat the sugar and butter together until light and fluffy.
Add the egg and beat until well combined.
Add the flours, the contents of the 2 tea bags, the cream of
tartar and the seeds scrapped out of the vanilla pod and mix until combined.
Turn the mixture out onto a (gluten-free) floured surface
and roll into a log shape approximately
5cm in diameter (don’t worry if it still seems a little bit sticky and lose at
this stage), wrap in cling film and refrigerate for an hour.
After an hour remove from the fridge and using a sharp knife
slice the dough into 1cm thick discs.
Arrange the biscuits on a lined baking sheet leaving a small
gap between each and bake for 10-12 minutes until lightly golden in colour.
Allow to cool and enjoy…or as I did melt 50g of milk and
white chocolate in 2 small bowls in the microwave (I started zapping them for
30 seconds then for another 10 seconds as necessary to avoid over melting and
cooking the chocolate) then dip the biscuits into the melted chocolate,
transfer to a wire cooling rack and allow to set before tucking in!