Tuesday, 30 April 2013

Foodie Pen Pals – Almost flour free cashew biscuits

The end of the month (and the beginning of spring) can mean only one thing. And this month I received a parcel from the continent, the Netherlands to be precise, so I got a lovely mixture of foreign treats from Cynni.

There was;
Caramel and Vanilla Tea – This is a lovely, slightly sweet tea that I am already regularly tucking into at work.

Stroopwafels – I’ve had these caramel filled waffles before and these are some of the best I have tried.

Pumpernickle Bread – I am also a fan of all things rye and this bread is light but malty.

Fruit bars – A selection of fruity snack bars that will provide a bit of variety from the normal fruity treats you can buy here

Hazelnut chocolate – Chocolate + Hazelnut = yum!

So thanks Cynni for the lovely parcel, I look forward to munching my way through all of these treats!

I sent my parcel to Kari, and after making my own Cashew NutButter the other day I thought I had better find a use for it (rather than just eating out of the jar with a spoon). A little internet research and I found numerous recipes using peanut butter to make biscuits without any flour and so I would attempt a cashew version. I was slightly dubious that eggs, nut and sugar would form a stable biscuit and after dolloping the first batch mixture onto the baking tray and watching it endlessly spread out I started panicking that the recipe wouldn’t work. So in the midst of panic I added some gluten free flour to the mix. The results – two successful batches of biscuits! So if you have the nerve it is possible to make flourless biscuits!


250g cashew nut butter (find out how to make your own here)
150g caster sugar
2 eggs
Optional ingredient – 100g gluten free flour mix

Pre-heat the oven to 180°C/350°C.

Line a baking tray with non-stick baking parchment.

In a large bowl combine the cashew nut butter, sugar and eggs and beat until well combined and smooth.

(If you don’t have the nerve for flourless biscuits fold the flour into the mixture at this point).

Dollop teaspoon sized portions of the mixture onto the baking tray, leave a lot of space between the biscuits as the mixture will spread (especially if you don’t use flour).

Bake for 15 minutes until golden brown.

Remove from the oven and allow to cool.

Monday, 29 April 2013

Cashew Nut Butter

I have a fairly unhealthy addiction to peanut butter. As long as it is of the crunchy variety (I really don’t understand why you would choose smooth when you could get added chunks of peanut goodness) I can eat the stuff out of the jar with a spoon and I can be regularly found dunking celery sticks into the peanut butter jar in an attempt to convince myself I am indulging in a healthy snack! There is a whole world of alternative nut butters out there thought and I made a decision to not restrain myself to the peanut variety alone. When browsing the ‘alternative’ shelves at my local supermarket I came across a giant bag of cashew nuts at a majorly reduced price. So rather than just buying a bar of a non-peanut butter I thought I would make my own…how hard can it be? Well not hard at all, as it turns out, it really couldn’t be much simpler.


350g cashew nuts

Place the cashew nuts on a bowl and cover with water, set aside for a couple of hours to allow the nuts to soften. (I decided to soften my nuts first as my food processor is starting to look a little worse for wear and I was worried I would start seeing smoke if I confronted it with unsoaked nuts!)

Drain the nuts and pat dry with kitchen towel. Place into a food processor and blend (you may need to do this in batches). And keep blending….at first the nuts crumble into small pieces but keep going and eventually the natural oils in the nuts start to be released and a thick paste is formed. Keep going a little bit further and voila….cashew nut butter.

Store in a clean, sterilised jar and use as you would with any other nut butter (spread on toast, in milkshakes, on celery, eaten straight from the spoon…….)

Monday, 15 April 2013

Chestnut and Spelt Bread

On a recent rummage through my freezer I came across a tub of chestnut puree that had been lingering there since last autumn. Rather than let it dwell in the freezer any longer I thought I had better dig it out and find a use for it. On a further rummage through my cupboard I discovered a packet of spelt flour that I had bought a while back as it is an ingredient I haven’t used in baking before but was keen to try.

Spelt is an ancient relative of modern wheat and is most similar to whole wheat flour. The gluten in spelt flour however breaks down a lot more readily compared with traditional wheat flour so it doesn’t require quite as much kneading or proving time when making bread.

And so I decided to combine these two forgotten ingredients into one lovely recipe and set about making chestnut and spelt bread.


1 tablespoon of molasses
1 tablespoon of malt extract
7g dried yeast
2 tablespoons warm water
300g spelt flour
75g rye flour
Pinch of salt
175g chestnut puree (see here for a method to make your own)
200ml water

Pre-heat the oven to 220°C / 430°F

Mix the molasses, malt extract, yeast and warm water together in a small bowl and set aside for 10 minutes.

Meanwhile sift both of the flours and the salt into a large mixing bowl.

After 10 minutes add the remaining water and the chestnut puree to the yeast mixture and stir until well combined. Once mixed together add to the flour. Then use you hands to bring the wet and dry ingredients together until a firm dough is formed.

Turn the dough out onto a floured surface and knead for 10 minutes until smooth and slightly springy to the touch.

Return the dough to the bowl and cover with cling film, leave in a warm spot until the dough has 
doubled in size.

Turn the dough out onto the work surface again and shape into a round loaf and transfer to a baking tray. Leave the dough for another 30 minutes.

Finally slash the top of the loaf with a sharp knife before transferring to the oven and baking for 25 minutes until nicely browned and crusty.

Monday, 1 April 2013

Foodie Pan Pals – Miso and Sesame Gluten Free Crackers

I’m a little bit late with my Foodie Pen Pals post this month, but I blame Easter for getting in the way. And as they say good things come to those who wait and this month I really do have an amazingly good box of goodies thanks to Anna over at Lemony loves Baking.

So in no particular order I got;

Zero Noodles – These are gluten and wheat free ‘Konnyaku’ noodles. Apparently Konnyaku is a perennial plant and the root from this is edible and used to make these noodles. It certainly isn’t an ingredient I had ever heard of before but am looking forward to trying this unusual ingredient.

Garlic and Black Sea Salt – These are really cute little pots of salt and I’m really intrigued by the black salt as it isn’t something I have come across before.

Edible flowers – These are so cute and will certainly suit some spring time cup cakes (I just need the weather to match before I start some baking!)

Umami PasteThis is something I have been meaning to invest in for ages but Foodie Pen Pal intuition has kindly provided this for me, a great addition to my ever bulging store cupboard.

Caramel, Lemon and Poppy Seed popcornI love popcorn so tucked into this straight away. As first it has a really sweet, toffee kick but a little more munching and the subtle savoury lemony flavours burst through….delicious.

Tea – I love tea and I love tea pigs tea even more so this was a perfect addition to the parcel.

TimTams – Last but not least a packet of TimTams. These are an Australian biscuit (I think a little like a penguin) that should be eaten by performing a ‘TimTam Slam’. Luckily Anna provided me with instructions on how to perform a ‘Slam’ and although I haven’t had a chance to do this yet I am looking forward to sitting down with a cup of Tea Pigs tea and one of these later to give a TimTam Slam a go.   

So thanks Anna, this was a really gorgeous parcel with so many exciting things that I haven’t tried before and look forward to munching my way through all of the lovely treats….thanks!

I then sent a parcel to Rose this month. As well as some dried rose petals which she used in this delightful looking recipe I made some gluten free miso and sesame crackers using my home made cannellini bean flour and thought I would share this recipe with you all.


400g dried cannellini beans

300g homemade bean flour
100g rice flour
50g sesame seeds
1 tsp gluten free baking powder
3 tblspns melted butter
2 tblspns red miso paste
1 tblspn soy sauce
1 egg
120ml water

To make the bean flour pre-heat the oven to 200°C/390°F. Place the beans on a large baking tray and place in the oven for 30 minutes, shaking occasionally to ensure none of the beans brown to much.

Remove the beans from the oven and allow to cool before transferring in batched into a food processor. Blitz each batch of beans to produce a fine flour and sieve into a large mixing bowl, returning any larger pieces of bean to the food processor for a second blitzing. Repeat until all of the beans have been transferred into flour.

Lower the oven temperature to 100°C/225°F.

Place the bean flour, rice flour, sesame seeds and baking powder into a large mixing bowl. Add the remaining wet ingredients to the bowl and mix until fully combined. As the ingredients come together use your hands to form a ball of dough.

Line a large baking tray with greaseproof paper. Place the ball of dough onto the centre of the baking tray and use a rolling pin to roll out the dough until it spread evenly over the tray. Take a sharp knife and score the dough into equal sized rectangles.

Place the baking tray into the oven and bake for an hour (checking every now and again to ensure the mixture doesn’t brown too much around the edges). Then remove from the oven and allow the mixture 
to cool before carefully breaking into the rectangles and previously scored out.

These crackers are quite salty but go really well with cream cheese and cucumber or smoked fish.