Pan Bagnat

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Pan Bagnat literally translates as ‘wet bread’ in the Occitan Language of the area surrounding Nice. It’s often misspelt ‘pain’ Bagnat, as in the usual term for bread in French which is how i thought the spelling should be, but I assure you ‘pan’ is the correct version. As Provençal as you like, the flavours and textures will add a touch of rustic French charm to your picnic platters.This is definitely my kind of sandwich – marinated and fresh vegetables with added tang squished between crusty bread and let chill overnight.

Generally a pan Bagnat will feature a sort of salade Nicoise in sandwich form, or cured meats and cheeses. But I reckon this all veggie version detracts little from the traditional options -

Pan Bagnat (dairy-free, egg-free, nut-free, sesame-free, vegetarian and vegan)

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Serves 2

  • 1 ciabatta (as crispy as possible)
  • 2 tbsp fresh green tapenade
  • A variety of antipasti vegetables – peppers, courgettes, mushrooms, aubergine or artichokes
  • 1 ripe tomato, sliced
  • Basil leaves, roughly torn
  • Freshly ground pepper
  • Sprinkle of wine vinegar

- Split the ciabatta in half lengthwise
– Rip out some of the doughy middle, but do leave a little behind
– Spread the tapenade over both sides
– Layer on the antipasti vegetables (make sure they’ve been a little drained)

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– Next layer on the tomato slices and basil leaves
– Sprinkle with the vinegar and black pepper.
– Press on the top, wrap tightly in foil and leave in the fridge over night
– Cut in half and enjoy!

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Green olive tapenade

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I seem to always veer towards Mediterranean flavours, but particularly so when the sun is shining – must be all those holidays over the years to various regions of France with my lovely other half that has equated sunshine with the flavours of the Med.

I have to say that it took me some time to come round to olives – I couldn’t bear them when I was younger, so much so I’d pick off an individual one on a pizza and leave it looking forlorn on the side of the plate! To me they just seemed so very salty and unappetising! Then, I’m not sure why, but in my mid twenties I was brave and gave an olive a chance – maybe my taste buds had matured, or perhaps it was a particularly good olive, but there has been no turning back, I now love olives (except bad quality, over salty ones!)

Tapenade is a wonderful savoury spread/dip but is so often fishy with anchovies, or contains traces of nuts – besides anything freshly homemade has to be far tastier – right? This simple green olive tapenade makes a wonderful addition to any sandwich, would be great to stuff vegetables such as mushrooms or simply to dip breadsticks. I have given 2 variations, one using capers which gives the most authentic flavour, or one using white wine vinegar for a more subtle kick.

Green Olive Tapenade (dairy-free, egg-free, nut-free, soya-free, sesame-free, gluten-free, vegetarian and vegan)

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Makes 1 small bowlful

  • 1 cup green olives (rinsed if kept in brine)
  • 1 clove garlic, minced
  • 1/2 tbsp capers, roughly chopped OR 1 tsp white wine vinegar
  • 1 tbsp Dijon mustard (optional)
  • Sprig of fresh thyme, finely chopped (about 1 tbsp)
  • Extra virgin olive oil
  • salt to taste

- In a food processor, whizz together the olives, garlic, mustard, capers/vinegar and thyme until well chopped.
– With the motor running drizzle in the oil until it makes the desired consistency. It should be firm enough to spread (ie not liquid) but soft enough to dip in. Like the consistency of tomato purée. Taste and season if necessary.

 

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Chewy Double Chocolate Chip Cookies

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Sometimes you want a crunch and sometimes you want a chew! This recipe is for those chewy days, days when you want to linger over a cookie whilst mulling over an interesting concept. I’d like to think of this as the intellectual cookie, the one to hand out during a deep discussion. Well, maybe that’s overdoing it a bit, but its a cookie that will make everything seem right with the world and give you a great bit bear hug of comfort! They also keep and travel well, so are perfect for this current picnic season and some will definitely be coming along to sports day with us.

Chewy Double Chocolate Chip Cookies (dairy-free, egg-free, nut-free, can be soya-free, sesame-free, vegetarian and vegan)

20140719-075731.jpgmakes 18

  • 2/3 cup caster sugar
  • 1/4 cup soft brown sugar
  • 2/3 cup sunflower oil
  • 1/4 cup oat milk
  • 1 tbsp cornflour
  • 1/4 cup cocoa powder
  • 1 tsp vanilla essence
  • 1 1/2 cups plain flour
  • 1/2 tsp bicarbonate of soda
  • 1/4 tsp salt
  • 1/2 cup chocolate chips- grease 2 cookie sheets

- Preheat the oven to 160 degrees centigrade/gas mark 3
– Whisk together the sugars, oil, milk, cornflour and vanilla.
– Sift in the flour, cocoa, bicarbonate and salt and combine to a soft dough
– Stir in the chocolate chips
– Roll into walnut sized balls, place well apart on the baking sheets and press down slightly.
– Bake for 10 minutes
– Leave to cool briefly on the sheets (they will firm up quickly) before transferring to wire racks.
– Store in an airtight container for up to 1 week.

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Lemon and Raspberry Swirl Scones

 

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I don’t know where it came from, but I suddenly had a brainwave. I was going to make scones to add to our picnic whilst watching a wonderful outdoor production by the Illyria theatre group, but was having some trouble deciding how to transport the jam. Then it came to me, a little flash of inspiration – why not have the jam already swirled into the scone? Why don’t people do this? It makes so much sense – scone and jam in one neat and rather pretty little parcel – I’m telling you this is the way to go!

Raspberry and Lemon Swirl Scones (dairy-free, egg-free, nut-free, soya-free, sesame-free, vegetarian and vegan)

20140719-074930.jpgmakes 12

  • 450g plain flour
  • 3 tsps baking powder
  • 75g dairy-free spread, such as Pure
  • 70g caster sugar
  • 300ml oat milk
  • zest of 1/2 a lemon
  • 2-4 tbsps raspberry jam
  • 2 tbsps Demerara sugar, to sprinkle

- Preheat the oven to 200 degrees Centigrade/Gas mark 6

- Sift the flour and baking powder into a large bowl.

- Stir in the sugar and lemon zest.

- With your fingertips, gently rub in the dairy-free spread until the mixture looks like breadcrumbs.

- Make a well in the centre and pour in the oat milk.

- Bring together to a soft, sticky dough.

- Turn onto a floured surface and very gently bring together to a soft, smooth dough.

- Pat out with your fingers until 2 cm thick.

- Spread the jam all over the surface and roll up into a thick sausage.

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- Cut 3cm/1 inch slices

- Place on an oiled and floured baking sheet.

- Brush the tops with oat milk and sprinkle with sugar.

- Bake for 20-25 minutes, until golden on top.

- Cool on a wire rack.

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Strawberries and Cream Pie

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The fruity theme continues! This recipe evolved from a total experiment – I was going to make a traditional strawberry cheesecake for pudding, but wondered how it would work if the strawberries were combined with the cheesecake mix rather than as a topping.

Truth be told, this was also an attempt at being cunning! Little S isn’t the greatest berry fan, and she’s be known to scrape off any recognisable berry, so I reckoned in combining them with the cream cheese mixture she wouldn’t have the option! Good plan it was too! By adding the strawberry purée to the cream cheese mix the filling becomes more mousse like, the flavour is spot on ‘strawberries and cream’, and it looks rather elegant too!

Strawberries and Cream Pie (dairy-free, egg-free, nut-free, sesame-free, vegetarian and vegan)

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  • 1/2 pack Bourbon biscuits, crushed
  • 1 tbsp dairy-free spread, melted
  • 1 tub tofutti cream cheese
  • 1 cup chopped strawberries
  • 1 tsp vanilla
  • 1/4-1/2 cup icing sugar, depending on taste

- Mix together the crushed biscuits and melted spread and press into the bottom of a loose leaf cake tin
– Place in the fridge to set
– Meanwhile, whizz up the strawberries in a food processor until they become a smooth purée
– Add the cream cheese, vanilla and 1/4 cup of icing sugar
– Pulse until it has formed a smooth mixture that’s well combined
– Taste and add more icing sugar if desired
– Pour over the biscuit base and leave to set in the fridge for a couple of hours

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Brilliant barbecue sauce

20140626-190337.jpg The weather has been glorious (never a given in the UK, even in the summer!) – perfect for picnics and barbecues. I think a barbecue needs more than the grill and a few salad sides, it also needs a great sauce! Used to marinate, baste or as a condiment this sauce delivers all the punch and power required. In my mind a barbecue sauce needs to be sweet, salty, sour, tangy, spicy with tons of umami – this sauce certainly has that flavour profile! It also keeps well for a few weeks in the fridge – perfect! So fire up that barbecue and enjoy! Barbecue Sauce (dairy-free, egg-free, nut-free, can be soya-free, sesame-free, vegetarian, vegan) 20140626-190316.jpgMakes a small jar ful, multiply as necessary

  • 1/2 red onion
  • 1 clove garlic, crushed
  • 1/2 tbsp olive oil
  • 2 tsp brown sugar
  • 1 tbsp soy sauce (or use 1 tsp marmite if avoiding soya)
  • 3 tbsp tomato ketchup
  • 1 tsp English mustard powder (leave out if mustard a problem)
  • 1 tsp vegetarian Worcester sauce
  • 1 tsp sherry vinegar
  • 1 tbsp balsamic vinegar
  • Squeeze of lemon juice
  • Dried herbs of choice, I used herbs de Provence
  • Chilli (optional)

- Sweat off the onion in the oil until soft but not coloured – Add the garlic and continue to cook until fragrant. –  Add all the other ingredients and cook for a few minutes. – Taste and adjust as desired. – Store in a sterilised jar in the fridge 20140626-190251.jpg

Italian flavoured polenta burgers

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You can’t beat a tasty veggie burger, far superior to any meat offering (well I would say that wouldn’t I!!). But they do need careful thought and preparation – so often they can seriously underwhelm. Not just in terms of flavour – there is nothing more disappointing than a bland veggie burger than melds into a pappy bun. You definitely need a powerful flavour punch to withstand being ‘sandwichified’. But they also so often disappoint in terms of texture, especially with no egg or dairy in the mix to hold them together. Bean burgers tend to work well, but other varieties can crumble at the first bite, leaving a seriously un-satisfying burger experience. Some people bridge this gap with vegetable protein or fake mince but I have a bit of an aversion to anything resembling meat, so I needed another binder to give a great bite, but this time I didn’t feel like beans.

I had settled on Italian flavours (olives, sun-dried tomatoes, pine nuts and basil) to give the flavour, and then it seemed obvious to try polenta. It easily forms patties that hold together, is a great carrier of flavour and gets a lovely crispy coating. As it happens it was a very good choice – these veggie burgers delivered on all fronts and somewhat to my surprise worked beautifully in a bun. They’d also be rather successful just served in patty form. I have yet to give them a go on the barbecue, but I reckon they’d work just fine.

Italian Style Polenta Burgers (dairy-free, egg-free, nut-free, soya-free, sesame-free, gluten-free, vegetarian and vegan)

20140613-134555.jpgServes 4

  • 1/3 cup sun blush or sundries tomatoes
  • 1/4 cup olives (I used green as its all I had in, but black would be more suitable)
  • 1/4 cup pine nuts or sunflower seeds, toasted
  • Small bunch of basil, shredded
  • 1 spring onion, finely sliced
  • 6 tbsp quick cook polenta
  • 2 cups water
  • 1 tbsp nutritional yeast (or 2 of hard cheese if you use dairy)
  • 1 tbsp balsamic vinegar
  • 1 tbsp extra virgin olive oil
  • Salt
  • 1/4 cup dry polenta to coat the burgers

- Bring the water to the boil
– Pour in the 6 tbsp of polenta and whisk until its cooked through and forms one lump
– Stir in all the other ingredients, taste and adjust seasoning as necessary
– Dollop it into a cling film lined baking tin and press down firmly to make an even rectangle
– Place in the fridge for at least 30 mins to cool and firm up
– Cut into desired shapes, dust with the dry polenta and set aside.
– When ready to cook, fry each side in oil until golden, then transfer to a medium oven for 10 minutes to finish cooking though.

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Peach Melba galette

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The combination of peaches and raspberries is one made in heaven. Who could resist this time honoured pairing of nectar sweet peaches and acidic raspberries – I certainly cannot!

A galette is the ideal friendly tart to finish a stunning summer meal. Thrown together in minutes, with minimal ingredients and suitable for all (use gluten-free pastry if you need). The rustic appearance only enhances the whole look – I can just picture one sitting on a table in an orchard in Provence. Dreaming again…

Peach Melba Galette (dairy-free, egg-free, nut-free, sesame-free, vegetarian and vegan)

20140706-135240.jpgmakes 1 tart

  • 3 peaches, skinned and sliced
  • 1 tsp lemon juice
  • 1 tbsp caster sugar
  • 1/2 cinnamon stick, broken in half (optional)
  • 1/2 cup raspberries
  • 1/2 pack ready made short crust pastry (JusRol original is dairyfree)
  • 1 tbsp Demerara sugar (or whatever sugar you have to hand)

- Mix together the peach slices, caster sugar and lemon juice and set aside
– Preheat the oven to 220 degrees centigrade/425 Fahrenheit
– Roll out the pastry into a rough circle
– Pile the peaches into the middle (leaving a 5cm/2 inch border), reserving the juice
– Dot over half the raspberries and scatter on the broken cinnamon stick (if using)
– Fold the edges of the pastry, up and over the filling, crimping any excesses
– Brush the pastry with the fruit juices from the peaches, then pour the rest onto the fruit
– Sprinkle over the Demerara sugar
– Bake for 25 minutes, then turn the oven down to 190 degrees centigrade/375 Fahrenheit and continue to bake for another 25 minutes. Scatter over the rest of the raspberries and serve at room temperature with dairyfree ice cream.

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Red, Gold and Green Rice Salad

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My packed lunch/picnic struggle continues. We have our staples of my vegetarian sausage rolls, crudités, cookies or muffins and usually resort to sandwiches and crisps. Standard picnic fare but oh so yawn-worthy! Sometimes the girls like a pasta salad but they’re more likely to enjoy the salad veg when not combined into a satisfying bowlful.

This rice salad is unchallenging to the young palate and contains none of the odd ingredients adults can be fond of, but also transports well and fills up tummies without resorting to yet more sandwiches!

It may seem like a lot of vinegar to oil, but the rice sucks up flavour so readily that you need as much tang as possible.

Red, Gold and Green Rice Salad (dairy-free, egg-free, nut-free, soya-free, sesame-free, gluten-free, vegetarian and vegan)

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makes 1 bowlful

  • 1 cup uncooked rice
  • 2 tbsp red wine vinegar
  • 3 tbsp extra virgin olive oil
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 1 clove garlic, minced (or 1/2 tsp garlic powder)
  • 1/2 red pepper, chopped
  • 1/2 tin sweetcorn, drained
  • 1 spring onion, finely sliced
  • 1 small handful of parsley

- Cook the rice
– Meanwhile, whisk together the oil, vinegar, salt and garlic in the serving bowl
– Tip in the hot cooked rice and mix well to coat the grains in the dressing
– Cover and leave to cool
– Once at room temperature add the other ingredients and mix well
– Keep refrigerated until ready to eat.

 

 

 

American Style Fluffy Pancakes

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Happy 4th July! I may not be American but any chance of a celebration has to be a good thing! What could be more American than a pile of light, fluffy pancakes drenched in maple syrup and adorned with some red and blue berries? I guarantee you won’t miss the milk and eggs in these, they are as light as you like thanks to raising agents which are made even more potent by the addition of dairy-free yogurt. The yogurt also gives it an authentic buttermilk note. Serve for a weekend breakfast, a good hearty start to the day.

American Style Fluffy Pancakes (dairy-free, egg-free, nut-free, can be soya-free, sesame-free, vegetarian and vegan)

20140704-171241-61961160.jpgMakes about 8

  • 1 cup plain flour
  • 2 tbsp caster sugar
  • 1 tbsp baking powder (and yes I do mean 1 tbsp)
  • 1 tsp bicarbonate of soda
  • Pinch of salt
  • 1 tbsp dairy-free spread, melted
  • 2/3rds cup dairy-free milk
  • 1/3 cup dairy-free yogurt

- Sift the flour, baking powder, bicarb and salt into a bowl. Stir in the sugar.
– Whisk in the wee ingredients to make a thick batter.
– Heat a frying pan and smear with a little oil.
– Fry a ladleful at a time on one side until puffed up and golden (bubbles will start to appear on the uncooked top, then it’s time to flip)
– Flip the pancake and cook the other side until golden.
– Keep warm until the others and made, then serve drizzled with maple syrup and garnished with berries.
– They also reheat really well either in a warm oven or after 30 seconds or so in the microwave

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