3 Bean Salad

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3 or 4,5,6 – whatever number of bean varieties you like! In my opinion bean salads benefit from either simplicity or variety and this version wins on the variety front. The sweet, sticky and tangy marinade transports these simple beans to the realms of yummy salad – 1000 miles away from those tins of bean salad that are available in supermarkets, the type of bean salad to make you wish you’d never encounter a cold bean ever again! I tend to add celery but in retrospect I think I’ll leave it out next time – it’s such a strong flavour that it overpowers the delicate sweetness of the beans.

3 Bean Salad (dairy-free, egg-free, nut-free, soya-free, sesame-free, gluten-free, vegetarian and vegan)

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makes 1 big bowlful

  • Equivalent to 3 tins of 3 varieties of beans (or how ever many varieties you fancy!)
  • 1/4 cup balsamic vinegar
  • 1/4 cup oil
  • 2 tbsps caster sugar
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 1 tsp sherry vinegar or other sharp vinegar
  • 1/2 red onion, finely chopped
  • 1 stick of celery, peeled and sliced (optional)
  • 1/2 red pepper, chopped
  • Large handful parsley, chopped

- Plunge the red onion in icy cold water and leave for 20 or so minutes to remove some of the onion ‘bite’
– In the serving bowl, whisk together the vinegars, oil, sugar and salt.
– Drain the onions and mix into the dressing with all the other ingredients
– Leave to marinade for a few hours, or preferably overnight.

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Courgette (zucchini) soup

 

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If you grow vegetables or know anyone who does, then you might well be facing a glut of certain varieties right now (well in the Northern hemisphere anyway). Everyone I know who grows veg always seem to grow courgettes and runner beans in abundance. I have to say I’m a bit stumped over ways to make runner beans tempting and delicious, rather than tasteless, woody and stringy! But courgettes are another matter – cooked badly they’re the stuff of nightmares (watery, tasteless), but treated with the respect they deserve they can be wondrous.

This soup is perfect for a big harvest of courgettes, particularly less than perfect specimens, as it is really a recipe comprised of just courgettes and flavouring. You may think that there is no way you could enjoy a dish solely made from courgettes, but I promise you, as long as you treat them right you’ll end up with a wonderfully flavourful, silky smooth and unctuous soup. So next time you see that glut of courgettes, don’t sigh, think ‘mmmm, courgette soup for lunch’ instead!

Courgette (Zucchini) Soup (dairy-free, egg-free, nut-free, soya-free, sesame-free, gluten-free, vegetarian and vegan)

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Serves 4

  • 3 tbsp olive oil (or 1 tbsp per courgette used)
  • 3 courgettes, cut into fairly chunky slices
  • 1 clove garlic, finely chopped
  • 3 sprigs of basil
  • 600ml vegetable stock
  • Seasoning

- Sauté the courgette slices in the oil until nicely browned
– Add the garlic and basil and continue to cook until fragrant but the garlic hasn’t browned too much
– Pour in the stock and simmer for 10 minutes
– Blitz then taste.
– Season to taste
– Serve garnished with a drizzle of extra virgin olive oil and basil leaves.

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Plum tart

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This is such a simple, stunningly pretty tart you’ll wonder why you ever thought a tart needed anything more than fruit and pastry. And it was a great way of using up a pile of slightly over-ripe plums from Clive’s Fruit Farm.

You could just use the soft stone fruit and pastry which works impressively enough, but a few grinds of black pepper and drizzles of honey (or maple syrup) give this simple dish a much more special feel. I have to admit that the concept behind this recipe isn’t my own, I came across the idea online (somewhere) a while back, but only with the divine Opal plums from Clive’s did the idea resurface.

Plum Tart (dairy-free, egg-free, nut-free, soya-free, sesame-free, vegetarian and vegan if use maple syrup)

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Serves 4-6

  • 1/2 sheet puff pastry
  • Plums, halved to cover the pastry
  • 1 tbsp caster sugar
  • A few grinds of black pepper
  • Honey or maple syrup to drizzle

- Preheat the oven to 200 degrees centigrade/Gas Mark 4
– Roll the pastry out to an even rectangle (or whatever shape you like)
– Score a frame around the edge, about 1 cm in.
– Fill the centre with the plum halves, some facing up and some down, then sprinkle over the caster sugar

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– Grind over the black pepper
– Bake for 20 minutes or until the edges are browned and all the pastry is cooked through
– Drizzle with the honey or syrup
– Serve at room temperature with a scoop of dairy-free ice cream

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Plum Streusel Muffins

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We’ve been glamping. I’m a rather reluctant camper (much to the rest of the family’s dismay) – it can be lovely if the weather’s good and granted, you do ‘get away from it all’. But we live in the UK, so, quite often the weather isn’t perfect and to be honest I find it all rather hard work! Maybe it’s because we don’t have all the kit – all we have are airbeds, the tent, sleeping bags and a single ring gas burner. No luxury seats for us, no table, no heater. My main problem is the cooking – we can’t easily just eat in a local pub, well, we can manage a meal or two but there’s only so many ‘something and chips’ meals you can consume without a sense of doom. As you can imagine, we normally cook for ourselves on holiday but catering for 1omnivore, one vegetarian and 2 with various food allergies on a 1 ring gas burner isn’t easy! (With me, the vegetarian being the annoyingly difficult one). How do you cope with food when camping? I’d be interested to hear your tips and failsafe camping meals.

Anyway, this time we made a compromise and went glamping. Here’s our rather attractive bell tent with rugs, duvets, wood burner stove inside, barbecue outside and a camp fire! It was a thoroughly lovely experience, the weather was perfect for it and it was so unlike normal life that it felt like a real break. BUT, 2 nights was definitely enough for me!

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The site was handily on a stunning fruit farm in Herefordshire so we did plenty of picking our own – perfect late strawberries and some wonderful fragrant opal plums (I bought back so many they’ll be a few more recipes to come!) but my first recipe is these rather delightful fruity, crunchy topped and spiced plum streusel muffins. Bookmark this one for autumn when plums are everywhere.

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Plum Streusel Muffins (dairy-free, egg-free, nut-free, can be soya-free, sesame-free, vegetarian and vegan)

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For the streusel topping:

  • 1/4 cup flour
  • 1/4 cup soft brown sugar
  • 1 tsp ground cinnamon
  • 3 tbsp cold dairy-free spread

For the muffins:

  • 1 1/2 cups self raising flour
  • 1/2 tsp bicarbonate of soda
  • 1/2 tsp cinnamon
  • 1/3 cup caster sugar
  • 3/4 cup dairy-free yogurt
  • 3/4 cup dairy-free milk, I use Oatly
  • 1/3 cup sunflower oil
  • 2 tsp vanilla extract
  • 3 plums, chopped

- Preheat the oven to 200 degrees centigrade/Gas mark 6
– Line a muffin pan with paper liners
– Rub the cold spread into the flour, sugar and cinnamon until it resembles a crumble topping. Set aside.
– Sift the flour, bicarbonate and cinnamon into a bowl
– Stir in the plum pieces so they are covered in flour (this will prevent them sinking to the bottom)
– Stir in the sugar
– Whisk together the yogurt, non- dairy milk, oil and vanilla.
– Pour into a well in the centre of the flour mix and gently combine so its just combined, but no lumps of raw flour remain
– 2/3rds fill each liner and sprinkle over the streusel topping
– Bake for 18-20 minutes until golden and a knife comes out clean.
– Cool on a wire rack.

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Classic Victoria Sponge Cake (without the eggs or dairy)

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The Great British Bake Off is back on TV – yippee! It’s such great light-hearted escapism, perfect after a long day at work.

The Victoria sponge has to be the true classic British bake – just the kind contestants are challenged to make on the Great British Bake Off. You’ll find versions of this cake at any fete, tea room, WI meeting or farm shop up and down the land. And elderly ladies up and down the land are sure to be having it at tea time. But strangely enough you rarely see an egg and dairy-free Victoria Sponge recipe. In vegan baking I think often a good rise is achieved with the use of baking powder and vinegar and that cocoa is so often added to mask any residual flavour. Since this version doesn’t rely on vinegar, but rather the acidity in dairy-free yogurt, it stands up well and keeps hold of the delicate vanilla flavour.

You may question my making a classic cake and then filling it with chocolate buttercream rather than raspberry jam? Well, I wanted to use the jam which I personally like, and I thought the photos would look stunning with the traditional jam filling shining berry bright between the delicate yellow layers, but in the end thrift won over. I know my children well and for some reason they will not go near a cake filled with jam – little S still remembers with horror her 3rd birthday cake which had jam in!! So I filled mine with fluffy chocolate buttercream to ensure it didn’t get wasted. Please fill yours with jam and let me know how it tastes – maybe send me a photo?

Victoria Sponge Cake (dairy-free. egg-free, nut-free, sesame-free, can be soya-free, vegetarian and vegan)

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makes 1 cake

  • 1 cup dairy-free spread
  • 1 cup caster sugar
  • 500ml dairy-free yogurt, I used Alpro vanilla for added vanilla flavour
  • 2 cups self-raising flour
  • 2 tsp baking powder
  • Pinch of salt
  • 1 tsp vanilla extract
  • 2 tbsp icing sugar
  • jam or buttercream to fill

- Preheat the oven to  180 degrees Centigrade/Gas Mark 4
– Grease and line the bottom of a cake tin
– Melt together the dairy-free spread and caster sugar
– Whisk in the yogurt and vanilla
– In a separate bowl sift together the flour, baking powder and salt
– Pour the yogurt mix into the dry and carefully fold together until no lumps remain
– Pour into the prepared tin
– Bake for 30-40 minutes until a skewer comes out clean
– Leave to cool in the tin, then remove the tin and finish the cooling on a wire rack.
– Split in half and fill the centre with jam or buttercream

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– Place the top back on and liberally sprinkle icing sugar all over the top

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Slow roast tomato and gnocchi salad

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I’m not sure where the idea came from but I figured why not make a salad out of gnocchi. Not flabby boiled gnocchi, but crispy pan fried gnocchi ready to soak up flavour. The whole idea seemed quite exciting – a salad out of an ingredient I’d never used in a salad before. The slow roast tomatoes are the perfect partner to the crispy little fluffy dumplings – adding hits of flavour and effectively a sauce to the whole dish. Basil and olives keep it fresh feeling.

One word of warning though, this is a make-and-eat-now dish. Leftovers won’t keep until the next day as the gnocchi really firm up and seem overly dense if kept. Successful experiment though.

Slow Roast Tomato and Gnocchi Salad (dairy-free, egg-free, nut-free, soya-free, sesame-free, vegetarian and vegan)

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  • 1 pack ready made potato gnocchi (I used de cecco which is free from egg, dairy and nuts)
  • 2 tbsp olive oil
  • 1 small punnett/ cup cherry tomatoes, halved
  • 2 garlic cloves, in their papery skins
  • 1 tbsp olive oil
  • Salt and pepper
  • 3 spring onions
  • Handful olives, sliced
  • Handful basil leaves, roughly torn
  • 1 tbsp balsamic vinegar
  • 2 1/2 tbsp extra virgin olive oil
  • Seasoning.

- Place the halved cherry tomatoes, whole unpeeled cloves of garlic, seasoning and 1 tbsp of oil in a roasting dish. Toss well and roast in a hot oven for 45 minutes, until the tomatoes and soft, wrinkly and sticky and oozing a little juice.
– Meanwhile, pan fry the gnocchi in the 2 tbsp of oil until crispy and golden all over.
– In a large bowl mash the roasted garlic cloves (slipped out of the skins) into the balsamic, whisk in the oil and some seasoning
– Add the tomatoes and juice.
– Tip in the hot crispy gnocchi and mix to coat with the dressing and tomatoes.
– Stir in the onions and olives and leave to cool to room temperature
– Just before serving, stir in the basil leaves. Taste and adjust the seasoning if required.
– I added 2 tsp of these Belazu balsamic pearls for added tang

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Doughnut muffins

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Doughnuts (or donuts) – probably the ultimate non-healthy comfort food. Not many people can resist the allure of a fresh sugar and cinnamon sprinkled donut. How about a healthier, simpler baked muffin version? Just as irresistible but not quite so naughty? Now, that is a good idea!

Donut muffins may not be a new concept to you, but they are to me! These easy to make little beauties are light and fluffy but all the sugary sweet spice of a good donut. I can think of many scenarios where these would be just right – breakfast, lunch, tea, snack or supper. I reckon these will become a bit of a regular staple in this household.

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Donut Muffins (dairy-free, egg-free, nut-free, sesame-free, vegetarian and vegan)

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  • 1 – 2 tsp cinnamon, depending on taste
  • 2 tbsp soft brown sugar
  • 2 cups plain flour
  • 1/4 cup cornflour
  • 2 1/2 tsp baking powder
  • 1 tsp cinnamon
  • 1/2 cup dairy-free spread
  • 1 cup caster sugar
  • 3/4 cup dairy-free yogurt
  • 1 1/2 tsps vanilla essence
  • 1 tsp lemon juice
  • 3/4 cup dairy-free milk, I use Oatly oat milk

 

- Preheat the oven to 180 degrees centigrade/Gas Mark 4
– Fill a cupcake tray with liners
– In a small bowl, mix together the 2 tsp cinnamon and 2 tbsp caster sugar
– Sift together the flour, cornflour, baking powder and 1 tsp cinnamon
– Mix together the yogurt, vanilla, lemon juice and oat milk. Set aside.
– Cream together the dairy free spread and caster sugar until light and fluffy
– Alternately add some of the dry and wet ingredients until they’re all used up and you have a nice smooth, silky batter
– Fill the muffins liners, 2/3rds full
– Sprinkle the sugar and cinnamon mix over the top of the muffins
– Bake for 18-20 minutes until the muffins have risen nicely and are cooked through (a knife/skewer comes out clean)
– Cool on a wire rack.

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Broccoli Fritters

20140803-080614-29174016.jpgFritters are such a useful recipe, an easy, tasty and filling meal that can be whipped up in seconds. You may have come across my egg and dairy-free sweetcorn fritter recipe, indeed it is still the recipe or post of mine that attracts the most interest worldwide.

But since my girls eat rather a lot of sweetcorn anyway (they seem to love those sweet little yellow kernels) I thought how about a change? We also seem to consume shed loads of broccoli, and since there was already some sitting in the fridge, it’s what I went with. I didn’t add chilli as my girls only like minimal spice, but if you’re a heat fan, a good dose of finely chopped red chilli would be a wonderful addition.

The key to these little tasty green beauties is to pack them full to overflowing with broccoli – definitely more broccoli than fritter, so you get that wonderful colour and goodness.

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

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Makes about 8-10

  • 1/2 head of broccoli, cooked to taste and fairly finely chopped (about 1 cup once chopped)
  • 80g plain flour
  • a pinch of salt
  • 1 tbsp baking powder
  • 105ml water (7 tbsps)
  • 1 red chilli, finely chopped (optional)

 

 

- Sift the dry ingredients into a bowl, stir in the water to make a smooth but thick paste

- Stir in the chopped broccoli and chilli (if using)

- Fry spoonfuls in hot sunflower oil, until golden on both sides.

- Serve whilst piping hot!

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Pan Bagnat

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Pan Bagnat literally means ‘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 no, ‘pan’ is correct. As Provençal it gets, 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.’Wet bread’ doesn’t sound too nice does it, but don’t be put off.

Generally a pan Bagnat will feature a sort of salade Nicoise in sandwich form, or cured meats and cheeses, probably tuna. But I reckon this all veggie version is tasty and traditional enough without. You can get super creative too – make a very large one, layer it up carefully inside, and then cut slices of it like a cake. it’s definitely got some ‘wow’.

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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