Sunday, 31 March 2013

Happy Easter! Gluten Free Chocolate and Almond Cupcakes

HAPPY EASTER!!! I wanted to make some Easter cupcakes to get in the festive spirit - seeing as the Easter Bunny didn't come this year! I searched desperately for a recipe for ground almonds and chocolate, and found this. I changed a few things, but can't really claim this as my own recipe.

Ingredients (makes 24 cupcakes)

140g dark chocolate, broken into pieces
85g butter
1/2 tsp almond essence (what I used), or 1 tsp vanilla essence
55g ground almonds
30g ground mixed nuts
3 eggs, separated
85g caster sugar

1. Heat the oven to 180°C.

2. Put the chocolate and butter into a bowl over a saucepan with simmering water. Heat gentle until it has all melted, and set aside to cool. Fold in the nuts and essence when the mix is cool.

3. With an electric whisk, whisk the egg whites until peaks form. Then whisk in half the sugar until glossy.

4. In another large bowl, whisk the egg yolks with the rest of the sugar until it becomes dense. Pour in the chocolate mixture using a metal spoon.

5. Finally, fold in the egg whites to form a reasonably runny cupcake mixture. Don't worry, once cooked, they will be moist and delicious. Spoon the mixture into cupcake cases and bake for 10-12 minutes, regularly checking so that they don't get burnt.

You can then decorate them how you wish, with icing or icing sugar and cocoa powder, but they are lovely and moist, so I do not think they need much topping.

Wednesday, 27 March 2013

Maple Syrup Granola - Vegan free, Granola and Yogurt Puddings

Ingredients (for the granola - serves 5)

300g plain oats
75g almonds (or flaked almonds), roughly chopped
                                                                            45g sunflower seeds
                                                                            45g pumpkin seeds
                                                                         1 tsp ground cinnamon
                                                                                   1/4 tsp salt
                                                                             2 tbsp rapeseed oil
                                                                             120ml maple syrup

1. Set the oven to 165°C and cover a large flat oven dish with greaseproof paper.

2. Mix all the dry ingredients in a bowl and then add the rapeseed oil. Stir thoroughly, and pour in the maple syrup.

3. Once the ingredients are evenly coated in the syrup and oil, transfer the mix into the oven dish and spread equally.

4. Place in the oven for 40 minutes, stirring the contents every 10 minutes. The browner the granola gets, the crunchier it will be, so remove it from the oven when it suits your taste.

Ingredients (for the granola and yoghurt puddings - serves 2)

yoghurt or soya yoghurt
blueberries or other fruit (pomegranate seeds are great too)

1. Decide on a suitable, beautiful glass to use.

2. Place 1 tbsp of granola in eat glass and top up with 1 tbsp yoghurt. Continue this twice.

3. Decorate the top with fruit and drizzle it with honey or jam.

These can be left in the fridge for a few hours before serving, so they are great for dinner parties or feeding for the family.

Tuesday, 26 March 2013

Tuna, Ginger and Sun-dried Tomato Sandwich Filling

This is a great recipe to use if you've got some leftover ginger, from a curry you made a few days previous for example, as most of the other ingredients are either tinned or from a jar. The ginger definitely adds something special to the filling, but the recipe if perfected delicious without it. 

Ingredients (for one)

130g tinned tuna, drained
1 tbsp mayonnaise
1 tsp lemon juice 
1cm thumb of ginger, pealed and grated
a few dashes of Worcester sauce, about 1/2 tsp
3 pieces of sun-dried tomato, chopped roughly
1/8 of a whole pepper, chopped into small pieces
a pinch of chilli flakes (optional)

1. Mix all the ingredients together to form a good consistency. 

2. Then toast some pitta bread and chop up a few vegetables to dip into the tuna.

This recipe would also work on top of a salad or as a sauce for pasta, it makes a change from boring tuna and sweetcorn. 

Yesterday's Pesto

I smothered a piece of salmon with the homemade pesto for supper last night and it was delicious. 

Monday, 25 March 2013

Walnut and Parmesan Pesto

Pesto has never looked so romantic! This is a bit reverted from the common homemade pesto, but it gives a change to using pine nuts.

Ingredients (makes 300g)

3 big bunches of basil (roughly 160g), stalks removed
a handful of mixed walnuts and cashew nuts
2 garlic cloves
90g parmesan, grated
juice of half a lemon
2 tbsp good quality olive oil
salt and pepper

1. Firstly, lightly toast the nuts in a frying pan with no oil, until they start to turn golden. Then blend them up in a food processor for about 20 seconds. 

2. Take the nuts out of the food processor and put in the basil, whole garlic cloves, oil and lemon juice. Blend for a minute of so. 

3. Finally, add the grated parmesan and nuts, and continue to blend. If the pesto appears to be dry, you might need to add more oil. I tend not to add too much of the oil at the start as you can always add more at the end. 

Pesto can be used for anything! I like to eat it on pasta, on top of pizza, or smothered on salmon.

Wednesday, 20 March 2013

An Alternative Tomato Chicken Curry

Making curries are easy if you have a lot of spices in your cupboard! This is a great recipe if you're feeding a house or family, as you can adopt a "shove it all in" technique. You can pretty much use any vegetables or meat, I often put peas in if I have no vegetables. Any leftovers can be eaten hot or cold the following day in a pitta or wrap.

Ingredients (serves 6)

for the curry -

5 chicken breasts, chopped into similar sized pieces
2 courgettes, chopped
2 large peppers, chopped
1 onion, sliced
6 large tomatoes, chopped into four
1 large knob of ginger, grated
4 garlic cloves, grated or crushed
half a deseeded chilli (or chilli flakes), more if you like it spicy!
1 tbsp korma paste, or other curry paste
juice of half a lemon
2 tbsp tomato puree
2 tsp garlic infused oil or any oil
1 tbsp mango chutney
1 tsp curry powder
1 tsp turmeric
1 tsp coriander powder
1/2 tsp paprika
3 cardamon pods, seeds crushed in a pestle and mortar
large bunch of fresh coriander with stalks, roughly chopped

for the rice -

600ml chicken stock (200ml is for the curry and 400ml for the rice)
2 mugs basmati rice
2 tsp turmeric
4 cardamon pods, whole

1. Start by putting all the ingredients for the curry into a large bowl (without the stock and fresh coriander) and mix well. You can do this in advance and place the curry in the fridge to marinade, or simply cook straight after mixing. 

2. You will need a large wok or deep pan to cook the curry. Pour all the curry mix into the pan and cook on a medium heat, continually stirring for 10 minutes. Then add 200ml of stock as well as the fresh coriander, and cook for a further 10 minutes, until the chicken is fully cooked.

3. The rice should take roughly the same time as the curry. Put the rice into a large frying pan, stir in the turmeric and cardamon pods and then pour over the stock until it just covers the rice. Place a clear lid on top and cook on a high heat until it starts boiling. Then turn down the heat to very low and simmer for 15 minutes without removing the lid.

4. I like to serve my curries with naan bread, yoghurt, chopped banana and mango chutney.

So easy, delicious and healthy.

Monday, 18 March 2013

Gluten Free Lemon and Almond Cake

This cake is absolutely delicious and doesn't require any flour! 

Ingredients (serves 8-10)

6oz ground almonds 
5oz butter
5oz sugar
3 large eggs
zest of two lemons
1/2 tsp almond essence

3oz icing sugar
juice of half a lemon

1. Heat the oven to 170°C.

2. Blend up the butter and the sugar in a food processor and then add the eggs. 

3. Finally, add the almonds, lemon zest and essence to form a good cake consistency.

4. Pour the mix into a cake tin and bake in the oven at 180 degrees for 25-30 minutes, until it is cooked right through.

5. When the cake is cooked, take it out of the oven and leave it to cool for a few minutes. Place it onto a large plate, or straight into a cake tin and pour on the icing (juice of half a lemon added to the icing sugar) while the cake it still warm. 

6. Wait for the cake to cool before serving. 

Wednesday, 6 March 2013

Best Banana Bread!

This is a recipe that my mum and I have been using for years, and it never fails!

Ingredients (makes 12 slices)

2 large very ripe bananas, mashed well
4oz margarine or unsalted cooking butter
6oz caster sugar
8oz plain flour
2 large eggs
1tsp baking powder
2 tbsp milk
1 tsp vanilla extract
any desired chocolate, for grating (optional)
a few walnuts to garnish (optional)

1. Firstly, heat the oven to 170°C and grease a bread tin with butter or line it with baking paper.

2. Cream or mix the butter and the sugar together. Then add the eggs, milk and vanilla extract to form a runny mixture, and then sift in the flour and baking powder. Finally add the mashed bananas and mix well.

3. Pour the banana mix into the greased tin and if you're using chocolate, grate as much as you like on top and then decorate with some walnuts. Bake the cake for 40/50 minutes until golden on top and cooked right through. If it is still slightly squidgy in the middle after 45/50 minutes, remove it from the oven and wrap it in some tin foil or kitchen towels so that it carries on slowly cooking.

I like to serve the bread with ice cream, or with a simple cup of tea.

Overnight Oats!

Ingredients (rough estimates for one jam jar)

1/3 porridge oats
1 tbsp flax seed (optional)
1 tbsp ground almonds
1 tsp linseeds
a sprinkle of flaked almonds
1/3 milk (any milk is fine)
2 tsp natural yoghurt (natural or flavoured)
5 raspberries
6 blueberries
2 tsp honey or jam

1. Put everything in a jam jar and stir or shake the contents of the jar until everything is mixed well.

2. Place the jar in the fridge overnight, ready to eat with a spoon in the morning. I chopped banana on top while I was spooning the porridge out. You can also put banana straight into the mix before refrigerating. 

Be inventive! 

Most Delicious Apple Porridge

Ingredients (for one)

50g plain porridge oats
1 apple, cored and chopped (with or without skin)
a large knob of butter
1 1/2 tsp brown demerara sugar
1/2-1 tsp ground cinnamon
a sprinkle of all spice
enough milk to just cover the oats and apple
walnuts or raisins to garnish

1. Melt the butter in a saucepan and then add the chopped apple. Stir for a minute and then add the sugar and cinnamon. Cook on a medium heat until the apples start to get soft, roughly 5 minutes.

2. Once the apples are soft, put the porridge in the pan and just cover with milk. Keep stirring until the porridge is at the right consistency and cooked. Add more milk if you like your porridge to be runny.

3. Pour the porridge into a bowl and sprinkle some walnuts, other nuts, or raisins on top.

Saturday, 2 March 2013

Making Sushi

*sushi nori *sushi rolling mat *white rice vinegar *large glass or wooden dish *fanning implement such as a magazine or fan

 Ingredients (makes 5 large rolls)

300g sushi rice
600ml water

100ml rice vinegar
3 tbsp sugar
1 1/2 tsp coarse salt

5 sheets of suchi nori seaweed
any fillings you so desire - 
finely sliced carrot
finely sliced cucumber
seafood sticks

marie rose sauce
finely sliced spring onion
smoked salmon
grated ginger
the list is endless!

1. Start by washing the rice in a sieve until the water runs clear. Then pour the rice and cold water into a saucepan (nothing non stick) with a clear lid on (do not remove the lid). Cook the rice on a high heat until the water is boiling and bubbling, then turn down the heat to very low and simmer for 20 minutes. 

2. While the rice is cooking, you can cut up all the vegetables and prepare for the sushi. The vinegar, sugar and salt mix can be heated while the rice is cooking, and left to cool once it has all dissolved. 

3. When the rice is ready (do not remove the lid), take it off the heat and leave to stand with the lid on for 10 minutes. 

4. Now take the lid off and pour the rice into a large glass or wooden flat dish, if some has stuck to the bottom of the pan, do not scrape it off as it might be burnt. Chop and fold the rice using a flat spatula or flat wooden spoon and gradually add the vinegar mix evenly; fanning the rice as you go so that it cools down quickly. Keep fanning until the rice is cool.

5. Ready to roll! Place one of the seaweed squares onto the sushi rolling mat and start to apply thin layers of rice in a smaller square in the middle. You can do this using a wooden spoon, or your hands dipped in water and vinegar so that the rice doesn't stick to them. Leave a 3cm gap on the top and bottom. Next, put your fillings a little below the half way point (not too much or it will overflow) and start to fold the seaweed over the fillings. The first roll needs to be nice and tight, so push down on the mat and make sure its all tucked in. Once you get near to finishing, dap the seaweed end with water so that it sticks together when you finish the roll. 

6. Get a sharp knife and cut the sushi roll into segments. Eat with soy sauce, pickled ginger or wasabi! DELICIOUS!