Herby potato salad

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Easter is over, so it’s definitely time to move away from the chocolate and towards fresh spring flavours. Our herbs are growing profusely and the Jersey royals are just wonderful at the moment, so my first post easter foray had to be a fresh potato salad.

I always wonder why potato salad is often so heavy on the mayonnaise. Most commercially available versions seem to consust of either over or under cooked cubes of potato smothered with piles of mayo and far too much spring onion, with no thought given to flavour combinations or pleasing textures. In my opinion those dressed lightly or with a tangy dressing are far superior. This version uses both parsley and tarragon. Go fairly easy on the tarragon unless you really love the aniseed flavour as it does pack a punch and a little goes a long way. If you’d rather stick with a milder more conventional salad, just use parsley instead.

Herby Potato Salad (dairy-free, egg-free, nut-free, soya-free, sesame-free, gluten-free, vegetarian and vegan)

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serves 4 as a side dish

  • 250g (half a pack) new potatoes, halved if quite large
  • 1 tbsp wine vinegar
  • 3 tbsp light olive oil
  • 2 tsp Dijon mustard
  • 1/tsp sugar
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 2 gherkins, finely chopped
  • 2 spring onions, finely sliced
  • 1 small bunch tarragon, finely shredded (about 1tbsp)
  • 1 large bunch parsley, finely chopped
  • Salt and pepper, to taste

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Cinnamon Syrup Crinkles

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It was one of those busy days – a jam packed morning, followed by a picnic and afternoon out. So there was no time to shop, but still a need for something safe to take on the picnic. If any of you have limited diets you will recognise the fact that you can never go anywhere unprepared. There is, if any, limited choice (think some flavours of crisps, possibly a plain baked potato, chips (maybe) and fruit) – not exactly enough to keep you happy and healthy. Besides, there always remains the possibility of not being able to find anything suitable.

So here’s a quick, simple and extremely tasty and versatile biscuit recipe using just basic store cupboard ingredients – the kind of things you find when you rummage in the larder!

Cinnamon Syrup Crinkles (dairy-free, egg-free, nut-free, sesame-free, soya-free, vegetarian and vegan)

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  • 110g(1/2 cup) self-raising flour
  • 1 tsp bicarbonate of soda
  • 1/4 tsp salt
  • 40g (1/4 cup) dairy-free spread
  • 3 tbsps golden or maple syrup
  • 1 tbsp oat milk
  • 1 tsp cinnamon

- Preheat the oven to 180 degrees centigrade/gas mark 4
- Grease 2 cookie sheets
- Sift together the self-raising, cinnamon and bicarbonate and salt
- Rub in the spread with your fingertips until the mix resembles breadcrumbs
- Combine the syrup and milk. Pour into the dry mix and combine to form a soft but not sticky dough
- Roll out and cut any shape you like
- Place on the greased cookie sheets and bake for 10-15 minutes until golden.
- Cool on a wire rack.

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Chocolate Chip Hot Cross Buns

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It’s a few days until Easter, so definitely time for some seasonal baking, and Easter is not Easter without hot cross buns. I made some friendly hot cross buns when I first started blogging and they’ve become a firm favourite. But with my children’s aversion to dried fruit, I concocted this variation that appeals more to them. This recipe also leaves out the flax seed egg-replacer – I seem to have moved away from replacers and prefer to adjust recipes so they don’t need them instead.

The addition of chopped chocolate may be slightly unconventional, but the resulting buns are delightfully aromatic and tasty with the bonus prize of the chocolate going oozy and gooey when the buns are toasted.

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Chocolate Chip Hot Cross Buns (dairy-free, egg-free, nut-free, soya-free, sesame-free, vegetarian and vegan)

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makes 9-12

  • 500g strong bread flour
  • 1 tsp dried yeast
  • 3 tbsp sugar
  • 1 tsp salt
  • 1 tsp mixed spice
  • 1 tsp cinnamon
  • 2 cups warm oat milk
  • 2 tbsps melted dairy-free spread
  • 100g dairy-free chocolate, chopped

for the crosses:

  • 2 tbsp flour
  • 3 tbsp water

for the glaze:

  • 2 tbsp sugar
  • 2 tbsp water

- In a large bowl mix together the flour, yeast, sugar, salt and spices.
- Make a well in the centre and pour in the oat milk and dairy-free spread, bring together to form a dough (adding more flour if too wet, or more liquid if too dry)
- Knead for about 5 mins until the dough is smooth
- Place in a bowl and cover, leave in a warm place to double in size
- Knock back, knead again and then form into 9-12 even sized balls. Place well spaced on a baking sheet lined with grease proof paper
- Mix together the water and flour to make a paste and pipe onto the top of the buns in crosses
- Leave to rise again for 10-20 minutes
- Bake at 190 degrees/Gas Mark 5 for 20 minutes until risen and the buns sound hollow
- Make the glaze by dissolving the sugar in the water and boiling briefly. Brush over the hot buns.
- Leave to cool on a wire rack.
- These buns are best kept loosely covered or the glaze will make them go a bit soggy.

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Lemon Scented White Chocolate Truffles

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I had intended to make these truffles to stand in as the little chocolate eggs found on chocolate cornflake nests for the girls to take in for their classes as an Easter treat. As it turned out, little S’s class was well catered for on the chocolate nest front, and I didn’t want to step on any toes by making basically the same thing. Also, with our recent house move it’s been hard to find time to do much other than unpacking boxes!

So in the end these turned into conventional truffles rather than egg-shaped mini ones. They’re so pretty rolled in icing sugar, like little snowballs of sweet deliciousness! I scented mine with a hint of lemon by using 1tsp of lemon essence, which worked well to cut through the intense sweetness of the white chocolate.

Lemon Scented White Chocolate Truffles (dairy-free, egg-free, nut-free, sesame-free, gluten-free, vegetarian and vegan)

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makes about 24

  • 150g white chocolate (I used Sweet William)
  • 2 tbsp dairy- free cream, I used Oatly
  • 1 tbsp dairy-free spread
  • 1 tsp lemon extract (optional)
  • 1/3 cup icing sugar, for coating

- Melt together the white chocolate, cream and spread either in a Bain Marie or using short bursts of heat in the microwave. Be sure not to overheat the mixture or it may become grainy
- Stir in the lemon extract, if using
- Cover and leave to cool at room temperature.
- Make your hands as cold as possible (run under the cold tap), roll the mix into even sized balls.
- Roll each one in icing sugar to give a good even coating.

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Mango and Lime Sorbet

IMG_7625 You might have noticed my constant search for suitable allergen-free puddings. As a family we love Swedish Glace ice cream, but I find sorbet to be far more refreshing. Most store bought sorbets available to us may contain nuts or milk, so it was obviously time to make a version at home. I’d always thought you needed an ice cream maker to turn out a smooth grain-free sorbet, but with the mangoes being so tempting at the moment I thought I’d give it a try with just a hand held blender and a freezer to help. Boy, was it simple! Why haven’t I been making homemade sorbets for years? The basic method is a sugar syrup combined with fruit puree, partially frozen then blended and then re-frozen. It may take a few hours to end up with the perfect result, but the finished sorbet is AMAZING and with so little effort. Maybe I don’t need that long dreamed for ice cream machine after all. This variation combines mangoes with lime, surely a killer combination, and perfect for these first signs of spring.

Mango and Lime Sorbet (dairy-free, egg-free, nut-free, soya-free, sesame-free, gluten-free, vegetarian and vegan) IMG_7627 serves 4

  • 2 ripe mangoes, peeled, stoned and pureed
  • juice of 1 lime
  • 150g caster sugar
  • 200ml water

- In a saucepan, dissolve the sugar into the water to make a sugar syrup. – Whisk in the mango puree and lime juice. – Pour into a container, place a lid on top and partially freeze (about 1 hour) – Whizz up the half-frozen mixture with a hand held blender or a food processor. – Place back in the freezer until fully set (at least a couple of hours) – Remove from the freezer a few minutes before serving. IMG_7629

Balsamic Fudgies

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When I first saw this concept of pairing balsamic with chocolate I was totally intrigued. I love both flavours – but would they work together? Surely balsamic in a cookie would just be weird! This idea has been on my ‘to do’ list for well over a year but somehow the oddness of the ingredients has made me put it to the back of the list on numerous occasions. Finally braved it this weekend. The result is actually quite subtle – a vague tang which enhances the dark bitter cocoa flavour to give a lift to a simple chocolate cookie. Not weird at all in fact.

Balsamic Fudgies (dairy-free, egg-free, nut-free, soya-free, sesame-free, vegetarian and vegan)

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makes about 18

  • 1 1/4 cups plain flour
  • 3 tbsp cocoa powder
  • 2 tbsp soft brown sugar
  • 1/4 cup golden or maple syrup
  • 1 tsp baking powder
  • 1/4 tsp salt
  • 1/4 cup sunflower oil
  • 2 tbsp oat milk
  • 2 tbsp balsamic vinegar

- Preheat the oven to 180 degrees centigrade/Gas mark 4

- Sift together the flour, baking powder and cocoa powder, stir in the sugar and salt

- In a separate bowl or jug, combine the syrup, oil, oat milk and balsamic

- Pour into the dry ingredients and mix to form a firm dough ( i added a drizzle of super reduced balsamic too, but don’t feel it added anything to the cookies)

- Form into 18 even sized balls and place well apart on a greased baking sheet. Flatten slightly with the back of a fork to give a pattern on top.

- Bake for 10-12 minutes.

- Cool briefly on the baking trays before moving to a wire rack.

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Reverse Chocolate Chip Cookies

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I don’t often come across dairy-free white chocolate so I was just delighted to find this creamy white bar from Sweet William. So many ideas, but so little chocolate, I might just have to buy another bar! Having a coffee in a branch of ‘Gail’s Bakery‘ the other day I spied some rather lovely looking ‘back to front’ chocolate chip cookies – by which I mean dark cocoa flavoured biscuit with white chocolate chips shining out like treasure in a piece of coal. So here’s my friendly version which Little S took into school for their Friday treat and they went down a real storm – could these be chocolate chip cookies, but better? I’d better put in that order for some more white chocolate very soon!

Reverse Chocolate Chip Cookies (dairy-free, egg-free, nut-free, soya-free, sesame-free, vegetarian and vegan)

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makes about 18

  • 2/3rds cup soft brown sugar
  • 1/4 cup granulated sugar
  • 2/3rds cup sunflower oil
  • 1/4 cup oat milk
  • 1 tbsp cornflour
  • 1 tsp vanilla essence
  • 1 1/2 cups plain flour
  • 1/4 cup cocoa powder
  • 1/2 tsp bicarbonate of soda
  • 1/4 tsp salt
  • 1/2 cup dairy-free white chocolate, chopped

- Preheat the oven to 160 Degrees Centigrade/Gas mark 3

- Lightly grease two baking sheets

- Whisk together the oil, oat milk, sugars, vanilla and cornflour. It will combine to form a smooth caramel.

- Sift in the flour, cocoa, bicarb and salt. Mix well.

- Fold in the chopped chocolate

- Roll into walnut sized balls, place slightly apart on the baking sheets and flatten a little.

- Bake for 12 minutes

- Let cool on the baking sheets for a few minutes before moving to a wire rack.

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Banh Mi

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I’m trying to revolutionise my lunches – no more buying sandwiches if I can help it. When I went back to work it seemed quite exciting being in London and being able to buy lunch from countless food outlets, but I’m well and truly over that now – it’s expensive and boring. The other day I went into 5 different shops and couldn’t even see one thing I wanted to eat! So as a result, I’m experimenting with some more unusual sandwich options. Banh Mi is a Vietnamese special and features a crispy baguette filled with chicken/pork, mayo, chilli sauce, salad and pickled veg. Here’s my veggie version with avocado and chargrilled red pepper, and rather delicious it was too. The homemade radish and carrot pickle only takes minutes to make but is essential to the overall flavour.

Banh Mi

For the pickle:

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  • 1 carrot, shaved with a peeler
  • 4 radish, finely chopped
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 1 tsp sugar
  • 2 tbsp vinegar
  • 1 tbsp sugar
  • 2 tbsp water

- Massage the salt and 1 tsp sugar into the shredded veg, then rinse and drain
- Place the sugar, vinegar and water in a bowl. Stir until the sugar has dissolved
- Add the veg and leave to marinade for about half an hour.

For the sandwich:

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  • 1 ready to bake baguette
  • 1 tbsp mayonnaise (dairy and egg-free if required)
  • 4 pieces roasted red pepper antipasti
  • 6 slices cucumber
  • 1/4 avocado, sliced
  • 1 spring onion, shredded
  • 1/2 the carrot and radish pickle
  • 4 dashes hot sauce
  • Coriander leaves

- Assemble as desired

Key Lime Pie

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We move house today; after far too long in a not perfect house we’re at last moving into our new home. So I had to mark the occasion with a rather lovely celebratory recipe and this one not only looks wow, but also tastes double wow!

I found a tin of soya condensed milk in my favourite health food shop – it’s not often you come across dairy-free condensed milk in the UK so I just had to buy it, without really having a plan for its use. This tin comes all the way from Brasil, so it seems like a real rare treasure!Sure I could make a banoffi pie but I haven’t had any dairy-free whipping cream in for a while, so that wouldn’t work.

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(Btw does anyone else have this experience, as gluten-free become more popular, and dare I say it, more profitable the big supermarkets sell less and less products which are free from other ingredients? It drives me mad – the few and far between staples are suddenly no longer on the shelves and you have to hunt far and wide to replace them.)

So having shelved the idea of banoffi pie (for the time being) I came across key lime pie – perfect! Big S loves citrus and cheesecakes are always a big hit, so surely the combination of the two is a sure fire win. I appreciate that soya condensed milk is hard to come by (apparently you can make your own, check out this recipe) but if possible you MUST MUST MUST make this recipe – it is absolutely divine. There is no overpowering soya taste, just a zesty, creamy unctuous ness which is utterly satisfying and comforting. I easily fooled the non dairy-free with this one (Result ;-))

My version adds a chocolate base as I think chocolate and lime works pretty well, but ginger would be just as nice. Since key limes aren’t readily available in the UK I used usual organic unwaxed variety

Key Lime Pie (dairy-free, egg-free, nut-free, sesame-free, vegetarian and vegan)

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  • 150g Bourbon biscuits, crushed
  • 50g dairy- free spread, melted
  • 1/2 can condensed soya milk
  • 1 pack soya cream cheese (I used tofutti)
  • Juice of 1 and 1/2 limes
  • Zest of 1 lime

- Mix together the crushed biscuits and melted spread and press firmly into a loose bottomed flan tin
– Place in the fridge for at least 15 minutes to firm up
– In a food processor or with a hand whisk, combine the condensed milk, cream cheese and lime juice and zest. Make sure it is super smooth.
– Pour over the biscuit base and place in the fridge for a couple of hours to set
– Remove from the tin and decorate with lime slices

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Moroccan Spiced Chickpea and Aubergine Salad

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Spring has sprung! Time to dust off some salad recipes and replace the comfort foods with more fresh vibrancy. When my mother in law went to Morocco last year she bought us back heaps of spices which need using up. They came freshly ground straight from the souq – wonderful, but are losing potency by the day. I had intended to use some ras el hanout in this recipe but really didnt enjoy my first batch of dressing – maybe this particular blend wasn’t quite to my taste, or maybe the batch had already gone off? Anyway, batch number two was, in my opinion, far more enjoyable – probably not terribly authentic but I combined cumin, coriander and sweet paprika and I found it worked beautifully with the chickpeas and aubergines.

I’ve always said aubergine is a tricky vegetable to get right, but again here it comes into its own.

Moroccan Spiced Chickpea and Aubergine Salad (dairy-free, egg-free, nut-free, soya-free, sesame-free, gluten-free, vegetarian and vegan)

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serves at least 4

  • 1 aubergine, cubed
  • 1 tsp salt
  • 2 tbsp olive oil
  • 1 tin chickpeas, drained
  • 3 spring onions, sliced
  • 1 large handful fresh coriander, leaves picked
  • 1 tbsp lemon juice
  • 3 tbsp sunflower oil
  • 1/2 tsp sweet paprika
  • 1/2 tsp cumin
  • 1/4 tsp ground coriander
  • 1/2 tsp vinegar
  • 1/2 tsp salt

- Salt the aubergine cubes for 1/2 an hour to remove any bitter juices. Rinse and dry.
- Fry the aubergine in the olive oil until golden on all sides.
- Drain on kitchen paper
- Meanwhile, make the dressing: whisk together the lemon, sunflower oil, paprika, cumin, ground coriander, vinegar and salt.
- Place the chickpeas, spring onions and aubergine in a bowl.
- Pour over the dressing and combine well.
- Leave to marinade at room temperature for at least half an hour
- Before serving toss through the fresh coriander leaves

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