Curried parsnip soup

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It’s time to get the roots out! The first frost has been and gone and it’s time to indulge in some serious warming food. In my opinion, you can’t get much more wintery than parsnips – well maybe Brussels, but they are more controversial (for the record – I like them when they’re done right).

The toasty, spicy curry flavour works so wonderfully with sweet, rooty parsnips and you end up with the smoothest, silkiest soup ever, no cream needed to achieve this. What could make a better wintery lunch or light supper with some fresh warm bread? Any one dimensional dish is made better with additions of garnish / texture, and I’ve used some vegetable crisps here for a bit of crunch.

Curried Parsnip Soup (dairy-free, egg-free, nut-free, soya-free, sesame-free, gluten-free, vegetarian and vegan)

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Serves 3-4

  • 1 onion, roughly chopped
  • 1 clove of garlic, minced
  • 1 tbsp oil
  • 5-6 medium sized parsnips, peeled and roughly chopped
  • 1/2 an apple, peeled and chopped
  • 2 tsp curry powder of choice
  • 750ml vegetable stock
  • Squeeze of lemon juice
  • Salt and pepper
  • handful of vegetable crisps

- Sweat the onion in the oil until just starting to get a hint of colour
– Add the garlic and cook until fragrant
– Add the curry powder and ‘cook out’ for a few minutes to remove any raw spice flavour
– Add the parsnips and apple and stir well to coat evenly with the spices
– Pour in the stock
– Simmer for about 15 minutes, until the parsnips are soft and well cooked
– Blitz with a hand blender or in a liquidizer for an even smoother soup
– Add the lemon juice and seasoning, taste and add more if required.
– Serve topped with vegetable crisps

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Parkin

 

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Ever heard of a Parkin? Well you probably have in the UK, and most certainly if you’re from Yorkshire. It’s a sticky ginger, syrup, oat and molasses flavoured sponge that is traditional at this time of year. It’s most commonly served around bonfire night, when the sweet spicy sponge is likely to warm the cockles after a bracing evening standing in the cold. Sorry I didn’t get to write up the recipe until after the big night, but it’s well worth making for any wintery occasion!

I’d read about Parkin more than eaten it, and it seems that in its most authentic and traditional forms, it’s egg-free – hooray! But try as I might, no egg-free recipe could be found. Maybe most people think they might as well add eggs to a sponge mix to make it ‘better’? It’s funny because people make such presumptions – cake can only be nice if its made with eggs and milk/butter – but having eaten both varieties, I can safely say that I prefer the ones without. They are lighter, more delicate, with no discernible eggy-flavour. I reckon others would also think the same, if only they opened their eyes and gave them a go!

Despite being resolutely egg-free, I can’t say this Parkin is truly authentic – it’s devised to suit my taste with far less treacle than usual as I find the flavour hugely over-powering. Sorry to any Yorkshire folk out there, I apologise for messing around with your traditions! Feel free to up the molasses and reduce the syrup for a ‘darker’ flavour and do let me know how it turns out, maybe I’m missing a trick in being a molasses scaredy-cat!?

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

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  • 2 cups plain flour
  • 1 cup soft brown sugar
  • 1 large handful of oats
  • 2 tsp ground ginger
  • 2/3 cup dairy-free spread, melted
  • 1 cup golden syrup
  • 1 tbsp treacle or molasses
  • 1 tsp bicarbonate of soda
  • 2 tsp vinegar
  • 1/4 pint dairy-free milk, I used Oatly

- Preheat the oven to 170 degrees centigrade/Gas Mark 3
– Line a square baking tin with parchment and grease the paper or it will stick!
– Mix together the flour, sugar, oats and ginger in a bowl and make a well in the centre
– Gently melt together the spread, syrup and treacle (do not let it boil) and pour into the well
– Sprinkle the bicarbonate onto the syrup mix and then sprinkle the vinegar over that. The bicarbonate will fizz and bubble.
– Pour the milk over the top and mix to form a very wet and sloppy batter
– Pour into the prepared tin and bake for up to 1 hour, until golden, risen and a knife cones out clean
– Once cool, cut into cubes.

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Maple and spice muffins

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It’s suddenly got cold! After an incredibly mild October in the UK, November has really kickstarted late Autumn with the temperature plummeting. Just in time for Bonfire Night when tradition says it  has to be freezing cold and a bit wet as you stand watching fireworks in the dark.

I don’t know about you, but as soon as it gets cold my whole food repertoire changes – suddenly I crave spiced comfort food. This combination of sweet maple syrup with a warming hint of cinnamon seems ultimately cosy and comforting. These muffins are best enjoyed by the fire and stroking a warm furry pet (guinea pigs in our case).

Maple and Spice Muffins (dairy-free, egg-free, nut-free, soya-free, sesame-free, vegetarian and vegan)

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Makes 6 big muffins

  • 1 1/2 cups self-raising flour
  • 1/2 tsp bicarbonate of soda
  • 1/4 tsp cinnamon
  • 1/3 cup sugar
  • Pinch of salt
  • 1/2 cup dairy-free milk, I used Oatly
  • 1/4 cup maple syrup
  • 1/3 cup sunflower oil
  • 2 tbsp Demerara sugar

- Preheat the oven to 200 degrees centigrade/Gas Mark 6
– Line muffin tins
– Mix together the wet ingredients and set aside
– Sift the dry ingredients into a bowl and make a well in the centre
– Pour in the wet ingredients and gently mix to form a lumpy (but no blobs of raw flour remaining) batter
– Spoon into the muffin cases
– Sprinkle the tops with Demerara sugar
– Bake for 18-20 minutes until golden, risen and a knife ones out clean
– Cool on a wire rack

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Almost Instant Chocolate Doughnuts

 

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This recipe was inspired by a vegan donut recipe by Jamie Oliver. Some people are really down on Jamie, but I think he’s great – when he came along he was totally unique and makes such accessible and delicious food without fuss. I also applaud the fact that he has recently started producing egg/dairy-free/vegan recipes. There is perhaps a bit of ‘brand Jamie’ overload but it’s hard not to like the guy.

Anyway, his recipe inspired me to whip up a batch of these little cocoa scented doughnuts for a Friday after-school treat. I wouldn’t say they’re a patch on ‘proper’ yeast-risen doughnuts but for an almost instant version they’re a pretty good alternative. It’s really of prime importance that the oil is the right temperature exactly: 375 degrees F or 180 degrees C, or the little fried balls of dough will be either greasy, or bullet-hard with raw centres – really not nice!

Almost Instant Chocolate Doughnuts (dairy-free, egg-free, nut-free, soya-free, sesame-free, vegetarian and vegan)

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makes about 18

  • 50g or 1/4 cup dairy-free spread
  • 120 ml or 3/4 cup dairy-free milk
  • 220g or 1 3/4 cups plain flour
  • 2 tsp baking powder
  • Pinch of salt
  • 50g/1/4 cup caster sugar
  • 2 tsp cocoa powder
  • 1/4 cup granulated sugar

- Combine the dry ingredients
– Melt together the spread and milk
– Pour into the dry and mix to form a soft but fairly dry dough
– Roll into walnut sized balls
– Heat the oil
– Then fry the balls for about 1.5 minutes on each side until good through
– Remove with a slotted spoon and immediately roll in the sugar

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Tabasco sauces and marinades review

I’ve started being sent products to review which is a welcome little bonus to writing a blog! I haven’t been paid to write this article and only received the free products I mention. All the opinions are my own, based on tasting the products.

Most products offered just aren’t suitable – I’m talking to you Mr PR person who asked me to feature a poster of how to best cook eggs! I don’t think he’d even looked at my blog, in fact I know he hadn’t. I just happened to appear on some list of foodie bloggers. How lazy. And this happens a lot. It’s very much one-way product featuring from the companies’ marketing departments on the whole, and while I may accept their product, I often don’t write about it.

Anyway, I was delighted with this offering – 4 spicy marinades/sauces from the Tabasco brand – or should I say D was especially happy as he loves spicy sauces and is always looking to grow the collection. All four are free from any ingredients that would cause us difficulty and we took great delight in having a taste testing session.

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Starting at the mild end of the scale:

Sweet chipotle and cola – this was a sauce to appeal to the whole family. Predominantly sweet with smokey undertones, I would say this is reminiscent of barbecue sauce. Pretty similar really. The heat factor is mild and I would happily use it as a sauce as well as a marinade – in fact a dollop on beans on toast was a rather nice addition.

Next up: chipotle and smokey bourbon – again this is a mild sauce but definitely one for the grown ups. The bourbon flavour is quite pronounced and the smokeyness is a little more intense. I see this one as working more as a marinade for a barbecue.

Moving onto the medium spicy peppery Deep South creole – the heat has been cranked up a notch, but it’s a pleasant and fresh chilli flavour that shines through. Fresh, fruity and spicy is how we rated this one and it worked equally well as a sauce or a marinade. It was too hot for my children though!

Finally at the hot end I’d the scale was fruity and fiery habenero – wow this was hot! Or should I say hot, hot, hot! Far too hot for me I’m afraid. I found it fruity but with the bitter twang you can get from very spicy foods. I can see it appealing to real heat fans, but still probably best as a marinade. But maybe Tabasco should have one that’s up there in the heat scale, as that is their roots. It’s going to last a while.

Are they worth buying? Well, I’d say yes, they have really tried to evolve the spicy flavours and I can see a lot of uses. I’m not sure I’d buy all 4 but it would be well worth having one in the fridge to enliven a plain dish.Perhaps one of the two more mild ones would be enough and one of the hotter ones.

 

 

Very berry granola

 

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Cereal can be so dull. When you have restrictions on your diet the choices aren’t so great, despite being faced with entire aisles of boxes! Having to avoid milk, nuts and seeds we’ve found Nestlé brands are a no-go, so it has to be Kellogg’s every time, but even then only certain varieties. Rice Krispies and Cornflakes are good staples, Coco Pops are also fine but bizarrely Frosties are not an option! You might have imagined the opposite would be true. Sugar Puffs and Honey Pops can go down well but that’s about it. Dull huh?

That’s where granola comes in ( homemade, as most varieties contain nuts in some form) – working perfectly with any type of yogurt, this is a breakfast to appeal to both adults and children. I’d opt for dried fruits that aren’t sticky as the whole mix goes a bit cleggy – so with this one, I used a mixture of dried blueberries and freeze-dried strawberries. A colourful, healthy, tasty breakfast of champions!

Very Berry Granola (dairy-free, nut-free, egg-free, can-be gluten-free, vegan, vegetarian, soya-free)

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makes a 500ml jarful

  • 1 1/2 cups of oats
  • 1/2 tsp cinnamon
  • 1/4 tsp salt
  • 2 tbsps sugar
  • 2 tbsps sunflower oil
  • 2 tbsps maple syrup/golden syrup (honey for non-vegan option)
  • 1 tsp vanilla extract
  • 1/2 cup dried berries of choice
  • 1/4 freeze-dried berries of choice

- Pre-heat the oven to 180 degrees centigrade

- In a bowl mix together all the ingredients, except the dried fruit.

- Spread evenly over a baking tray lined with foil

- Bake for 20-30 minutes (stirring every 10 minutes) until very lightly golden.

- Cool, then stir in the dried fruits.

- Serve for breakfast topped with soya yogurt and maple syrup

 

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Egg-free Yorkshire Puddings

 

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Yorkshire puddings are surely an iconic feature of the British menu and the ideal way to pep up a roast dinner for the long suffering ‘you can just have the veg’ vegetarian. I have tried so many approaches but all my previous attempts at Yorkshire puddings have been a total failure – greasy little doughy things with no noticeable rise – just not nice. Some people swear by a recipe that uses grated potato, but it didn’t work for me and I’m a bit baffled by Yorkshire puddings containing grated potato!

This recipe I devised is as true to the original ingredients as possible (if you leave out the main ingredients of milk and eggs of course!). The puddings you end up with are crisp but also light and fluffy with an airy centre, just perfect as a vehicle for some rich red wine gravy. I didn’t get the sunken in the middle effect, but am going to try egg-free vegetarian ‘toad in the hole’ and see if the puddings get the sunken thing going on when made on a bigger scale.

Egg-free Yorkshire Puddings (egg-free, nut-free, sesame-free, dairy-free, vegetarian and vegan)

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Makes about 18 small ones

  • 2 cups self-raising flour
  • 1 cup dairy-free yogurt
  • 1 cup dairy-free milk
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 1 tsp baking powder
  • 1 tsp lemon juice

- Mix together all the ingredients and set aside for at least half an hour
– Preheat the oven to 180 degrees centigrade/Gas Mark 4 (or there abouts if already have it a bit higher for some roast potatoes in the oven)
– Pour 1/2-1 tsp sunflower oil into each cup in a cupcake tray
– Heat in the oven for 10 minutes
– Carefully remove the pan from the oven and half fill each cup with the batter
– Place back in the oven for 15-20 minutes, until risen and golden

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Pain au Chocolat Palmiers

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This recipe is genius, even if I do say so myself! Delicate little pastries, whipped up with no fuss in minutes, that taste just like pain au chocolat. I’ve made authentic method free-from viennoiserie before, but wow is it hard work! Definitely not something to attempt when you’re in a rush. This recipe, on the other hand, enables you to whip up a batch of pastries in a flash, perfect when catering for those who don’t do dairy.

Like an authentic pain au chocolat, these are not too sweet, with the dark chocolate centre encased in flaky layers. They certainly won’t be hanging around for long in the cookie tin.

Pain au Chocolat Palmiers (dairy-free, egg-free, nut-free, vegetarian, vegan, soya-free, sesame-free)

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makes loads!

  • 1 pack puff-pastry, ensure its not the butter type
  • 2 tbsp dairy-free spread
  • 2 tbsp cocoa powder
  • Caster sugar, probably less than 1/2 a cup

- Preheat the oven to 200 degrees centigrade/Gas Mark 6
– Line a baking sheet with parchment
– Mix together the dairy-free spread and cocoa powder and set aside
– Roll out the pastry, using caster sugar rather than flour, until it forms a nice large rectangle. Odd I know, but this is what gives the sweet palmier effect.
– Spread the cocoa mix evenly over the pastry and sprinkle with a fine layer of caster sugar
– Fold up by bringing the short sides to meet in the middle.
– Repeat, until you have done the same 3 times.
– Cut 1 cm slices and place well spaced on the baking sheet
– Bake for 15 minutes, or until golden and crisp.

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Mexican spicy polenta and corn cakes

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I think there is a perception that Mexican food is on the whole quite humble and not refined. This is a delicate, elegant dish that could make a small starter or larger main. This is another one inspired by The Gate Restaurant – a trip to a good veggie restaurant always fires up my imagination. These polenta and corn cakes are really flavourful, crispy and went fabulously with my black bean salsa, chipotle infused sweet potatoes and shallots, and a good dose of avocado and coriander mayonnaise.

We also found the left over corn cakes made wonderful crispy polenta fries that we served with a salad the next day.

Mexican Polenta Corn Cakes (dairy-free, egg-free, nut-free, sesame-free, soya-free, gluten-free, vegetarian and vegan)

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serves 4

  • 100g quick cook polenta
  • 400ml water
  • 1 tbsp fresh thyme, finely chopped
  • 1/2 tin of sweetcorn
  • 1/2-1 red chilli, finely sliced (I left it out of the children’s half as our chillies were hot hot HOT)
  • Salt

- Bring the water to the boil
– Pour in the polenta in a fine stream, then whisk over a medium heat for about 5 minutes until the polenta has thickened and no longer sticks to the side of the pan but forms a large ball around the whisk
– Stir in the sweetcorn and thyme and salt to taste. As its essentially very bland you may need to add more than you’d think
– Pour onto a flat baking tray that has been lined with cling film
– Cover the top with more cling film and form into an even square or rectangle
– Place in the fridge to firm up, at least 30 mins
– Cut into desired shapes – squares, circles or fries work well
– Pan fry til golden, then transfer to a medium oven for 10 minutes to completely warm through
– Serve with the black bean salsa, roasted sweet potatoes and this wonderful avocado mayonnaise for a veritable mexican feast

Avocado and Coriander Mayonnaise (dairy-free, egg-free, nut-free, soya-free, sesame-free, gluten-free, vegetarian and vegan)

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  • 1 avocado
  • Juice of 1 lime (use less for a non-Mexican mayonnaise)
  • 1 tsp vinegar
  • salt and pepper
  • 3 tbsps extra virgin olive oil
  • 3 tbsps sunflower oil
  • 1 tsp Dijon mustard
  • 1 tbsp tomato ketchup
  • 1 small handful coriander, chopped

- Whiz together the avocado, lime and vinegar in a food processor.

- Season.

- Add the other ingredients and whiz until smooth.

- Taste and adjust the seasoning.

- Add a little more sunflower oil if too thick.

- Keeps well in the fridge for a couple of days

Chocolate and vanilla pinwheel biscuits

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It was the termly school cake sale last week, giving the perfect excuse to bake like crazy! I always make two types of baked offerings so that my girls get to choose, it seems a bit sad to have a vast array of cakes before you and you can only go for one type. Obviously it would be far better if there were more options for them, but I do what I can. Also, I always make a point of trying to make them as pretty and tempting as possible – I want my daughters to see other children choose and enjoy their ‘funny’ cakes. Whereas often people will say ‘ oh it’s got no dairy in it? No, I’m fine thank you’ – such closed minds!

Anyway, I made a massive batch of vanilla cupcakes with chocolate buttercream, which are always a favourite. For the second type I was going to make chocolate chip cookies, but in the end I decided they’re weren’t special enough. What I needed were some real WOW biscuits, some that were pretty, irresistible and yummy. While that may be quite a tall order, these chocolate and vanilla pinwheels fit the bill perfectly – they’re really tasty, nice and crunchy so will travel well, oh so pretty with the contrasting swirl, and well, who can resist some sprinkles! I’m pleased to say they flew out of the tin – Big S wasn’t too impressed as she wanted to bring lots home!

Chocolate and Vanilla Pinwheel Biscuits

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makes at least 20 cookies

  • 2 1/3 cups of plain flour
  • 1 tbsp cornflour
  • 1/4 tsp salt
  • 1/4 tsp baking powder
  • 1/4 cup vegetable fat (I used Trex)
  • 3/4 cup dairy-free spread (Pure)
  • 1 cup caster sugar
  • 1 tsp vanilla essence
  • 2 tbsps oat milk (Oatly)
  • 1tbsp cocoa powder
  • 2-3 tbsps sprinkles

- Sift together the flour, cornflour, salt and baking powder.

- In another bowl whisk together the fat, spread and sugar until light and fluffy. Add the extracts and oat milk and whisk again.

- Add the flour mix and carefully combine.

- Split the dough into two equal sized portions. Add the cocoa to one and mix to thoroughly combine. If its too dry add a splash of dairy-free milk

- Roll out one dough. Then roll out the other and sandwich together. Tightly roll into a sausage shape.

- Place a sheet of cling-film onto the work surface. Put the dough cylinder on one side, liberally sprinkle the decorations next to it, then roll over to coat the whole log.

- Wrap in the cling-film and then place in the fridge for at least half an hour.

- Cut 1/4 inch slices with a sharp non-serrated knife.

- Place on a lined baking sheet and bake at 180 degrees for 10 minutes, or until lightly golden round the edges

- Cool on the sheet before moving to a wire rack.

 

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