Cakes

Elderflower & Pistachio Muffins with Lemon Curd

Elderflower & Pistachio Muffins with Lemon Curd and loads of Vegan Buttercream

It was Jane’s birthday recently and she loves elderflowers, lemon, mashed potato (that is not a typo) and CAKE, so I thought I’d combine them all. The cake was lovely but I liked the idea of making the recipe into muffins filled with the curd.  So you cut into them and get a nice surprise.  For me, elderflower is one of the tastes of summer in the UK and it’s been a bumper year. We’ve been making many vats of cordial and can’t wait for the elderberry bonza!

You know I rarely bake a ‘normal’ cake, I just can’t handle the sugar overload, but this was a birthday so I let rip.  You know the BHK, we live on the edge!!!  I tend to freestyle with baking which freaks many people out.  I see how it goes.  Sometimes it doesn’t work, but generally, sticking to some rules and with a little experience, things turn out well.  It also leads to new ideas/ creation.  Which is what fuels me in the kitchen.  After all, go back a few years and tell people you’re putting mashed potato in a cake and a few bushy eyebrows would have been raised I’m sure.  In fact, they probably still are.  I like to befriend these bushy eyebrows and I know that when they taste these muffins, they’ll be smiling

I used seived spelt flour here which worked well and had read about mashed potato as a binder years ago. Someone told me about a mashed potato cake and I thought, thats the kind of creative twist that gets me going.  I finally got to try it out and it worked a treat.  Jane’s parents really loved them, so baking with mashed potato will be played with even more in the BHK.  It is light and does help bind the cake together.

Us vegans use a lot of mashed things in our cakes, squash, pumpkin, apple, sweet potato, bananas, I think potato is as good as any and the flavour is suitably bland for a binding agent.  Some people have challenged me about using such binders and saying it will make the cake taste bizarre, I would think about it this way.  A non-vegan cake is normally filled with a load of scrambled egg!  That seems like it will mess with flavour more than a little mashed spud.  It’s just something new, thats all.

Can you guess what the secret filling is?

Vegan lemon curd is nice.  It’s not exactly, bang on, like the other stuff, but it’s getting there and benefits from being so easy to make.  Adding the elderflower cordial to it makes it better for me.  You can keep any leftovers in the fridge and it’s, of course, pretty dang good on toast.

The buttercream was a birthday pressie to Jane really (not the only one I might add!)  Icing sugar and me don’t see eye to eye.  It reminds me of church fares as a child and the cakes were always sickly sweet bits of icing with some sponge hanging off.  Or those flapjacks made with buckets of golden syrup and hard raisins.  I think my favourites were top hats made with marshmallows and chocolate with a smartie on top, but you didn’t need to bake them.  Or rice crispies, they were great.

Basically, this buttercream is old school and no one would be able to tell the difference.  There are some decent new margarine type things coming out, Pure is a good staple choice, plus Suma and Biona always deliver good products.  I just read that ‘I Can’t Belive It’s Not Butter’ have just released a ‘ICBINB It’s Vegan!’ brand, which is slightly confusing but raised a smile.  It is made with ‘real’ ingredients.  One thing that has shocked me in a nice way is the range of vegan ingredients and products in the supermarkets, what a difference a year makes (we’ve been travelling here, there and everywhere fyi).

This recipe over at Wall Flower Kitchen was a particular inspiration. Judging by this experiment, I would use seived spelt flour again, we know that its a good option from a health point of view but I love the flavour.

Our new newsletter comes out on Friday, the first one in nearly six years so don’t miss it!!  We’ll be celebrating summer with hand-picked recipes, light, simple and full of sun.  Sign up HERE.

Filled with lovely vegan lemon curd

Recipe Notes

I have toned down the sugar here, but I think it’s a perfect quantity. Not too sweet.  The icing makes up for that.  We tried the muffins without the icing and they’re ok with a cuppa, but you’re not going to fool any birthday person that they’re not lacking something.

All elderflower cordials are not made equal, especially if you are making your own.  The cordial we used was quite strong.  See recipe at the bottom.

You can use chopped almonds as a topping here, I just like the colour of the pistachios.

Best check that your lemon is unwaxed before using the zest.  If it’s waxed, and you’re just juicing, don’t worry, it will still be nice and lemony.

As you know, all ovens are different.  If your oven is fierce, check them after 16 minutes.

 

Elderflower & Pistachio Muffins

The Bits – For 12 muffins

Dry 

300g spelt flour (sieved)

100g ground almonds

2 teas baking powder

1 teas bicarb of soda

 

Wet

200g sugar

200ml almond milk

150g mashed potato

2 teas vanilla extract

3 tbs elderflower cordial

80ml sunflower oil

 

12 large muffin cases

 

Vanilla Buttercream

15g vegan margarine/ butter

150g icing sugar

1/2 teas vanilla extract

2 tbs plant based milk

2 tbs elderflower cordial

 

Vegan Lemon & Elderflower Curd

1 large lemon (zest and juice)

4 tbsp corn flour(starch)

40ml plant-based milk

3 tbsp brown rice syrup or sweetner of choice

1 teas turmeric powder

3 tbsp elderflower cordial

 

1 handful pistachios (finely chopped or pulsed in a blender a couple of times)

 

Fresh elderflowers (for nice decoration)

Eat in gardens, with sunshine and tea;)

Do It

Vegan Lemon Curd

Make the curd in advance, 1 hour before is ideal.  Place all ingredients into a blender and blitz until smooth.  In a small saucepan, bring the curd to a gentle boil, whisking as it warms.   When it reaches boiling, take off the heat and whisk well until smooth.  If you leave it, expect the curd to go clumpy.  Once it is nice and smooth, decant into a container and leave to cool.

Muffin Mix

Add the ground almonds to a large mixing bowl, sift in the flour, bicarb and baking powder.

In another bowl, combine the wet ingredients, including the sugar.

Stir the wet into the dry mix with a wooden spoon until just combined.

Line your muffin tray with muffin cases.

Using a dessert spoon, spoon enough mix into the muffin cases to fill around 2/3 of the case.  Using a teaspoon, spoon roughly 1 1/2 tbs of curd into the centre of the case.  Making the curd into a round shape before doing this helps.  Now top the muffins off with the rest of the muffin mix.  Don’t overfill the cases, they will rise when baked, fill them until a few millimetres from the top.

Bake 18-20 mins 180oC fan oven. Test with a skewer and look for any wet dough, the curd inside will make it slightly more difficult to tell.

Buttercream

Place the margarine/ butter in a bowl and whisk until creamy,  gradually add the icing sugar, whisking together until you have a thick consistency.  Add the elderflower and milk, whisk again, adding more icing sugar if needed, until fluffy.  It should be thick and spreadable and takes a little work.  If you’re not into whisking, you can use a food processor.  Place in the fridge to thicken up even more.

Allow the muffins to cool on a wire rack and then spoon on the buttecream, spread with the back of a spoon, sprinkle over pistachios, top with elderflowers.

Foodie Fact

Edible Flowers

We don’t eat enough flowers do we!?  Flowers make any bowl, plate and especially salads even more beautiful.

Summer flowers that we can eat include nasturtium, calendula, borage, broad bean flowers, chicory, chives, snap dragon, sunflower, tulip, viola, violets, wild primrose, wild garlic, coriander, cornflower, dahlia, gladioli, daisy, chives, honeysuckle, pansy, rose, sage, courgette flowers.  Quite a list and that’s nowhere near all of them.  Flowers are on the menu!

Flowers like this generally have a light flavour, it’s more about the vibrant look really.  Don’t just wander out and eat any flower though, many are not good for us, some poisonous.

Elderflower

Elderflower is said to have anti-septic, anti-viral, anti-bacterial and anti-inflammatory properties, it is also said to lower blood sugar and boosts the immune system.  You can also gargle (not coridal) with elderflower, which is quite nice.

Find out how to make our favourite Elderflower Cordial and Elderflower Champagne.  Elderflowers are so abundant at this time of year its a shame not to;)  One thing I haven’t tried is Elderflower Tempura which sounds delicious.  Anyone tasted it?

As ever, if you bake these muffins, we’d love to hear your comments and chat below.

PS – We very rarely get any freebies and have no sponsorship etc, we do this because we love it!  If we mention products, it’s only because we like them and want to share.  If we get free stuff etc, we would tell you.    

Categories: Baking, Cakes, healthy, photography, plant-based, Recipes, Summer, Vegan | Tags: , , , , | 7 Comments

Mango and Cashew Cake

Mango and Cashew Cake

Mango and Cashew Cake

With one eye on a lovely summer, here’s a quick and easy cake filled with some delicious tropical flavas! Served warm with whipped coconut cream and we’re talking something quite heavenly. I’ve added a few bananas meaning only a little sugar is needed, each slice is sweet in a naturally good way. The mango keeps the cake moist and there’s a little ginger there to give it all a kick.

This could quite easily be called a Keralan cake, a part of the world I love.  Any diet that is high in mangoes, cashews, coconuts etc I know I’m going to like.  A vegans paradise!!

ON THE ROAD

Even though I have now flown the Beach House, I’m going to try and keep the tasty recipes flowing. I love sharing what we’re cooking with you guys. I always manage to find a kitchen no matter where I end up.  Right now I’m in a little fishing man’s social club and men are playing dominos and quaffing brandy.

I don’t think I told you guys what we’re up to…….Jane is over in the States at the minute, having a wonderful time and I am in Murcia, Spain. Its a long story, but basically my U.S. visa didn’t work out so I’ll be travelling around the Med (Italy, the Balkans, Greece) and then joining Jane in Asia for some time travelling around Indonesia and beyond. We’ve got some freedom and we’re diving into it!!

Unfortunately, my new gadget has the worst camera imaginable attached to it, making every plate of food look like it’s made from limp cardboard. I’ll therefore not be on instagram for a while, but check out twitter and facebook (see side bars) for more regular updates and photos of our meanderings.  We’re both working on exciting projects and look forward to sharing news about them soon.

Back to the old school with Mum's scales - whats an ounce again!!????!

Back to the old school with Mum’s scales – whats an ounce again!!????!

Recipe Notes

The texture will be improved by 2 tbs aquafaba which is the liquid in a tin of chickpeas or leftover chickpea cooking broth (cooled). Most beans will also work well. This aquafaba works a little like an egg in that it helps to hold things together.

You don’t have to use a heart based baking tin. This is the only cake tin that I could find in Mum’s kitchen. How cool is that!!!

Fresh out of the oven

Fresh out of the oven

The BitsFor 10-12 slices
Dry
175g self raising flour
2 tsp baking powder
1/2 tsp bicarbonate of soda
1 tsp ground ginger
75g soft brown sugar

Wet
3 bananas
100g sunflower/ vegan spread (melted)
1 tsp vanilla extract

125g or half a medium-sized mango (finely diced)
2 handfuls cashews (roughly chopped)

A little more cashews or coconut for topping

Whipped Coconut Cream – For 4

1 tin coconut milk (chilled in the fridge)

Do It
Preheat oven 180oC, grab a 2lb loaf tin or 10 inch cake tin, lightly oil and line with baking parchment.

Sift all the dry ingredients into a bowl.

Beat the banana, melted margarine and vanilla extract together.

Add the banana mix to the dry ingredients and then fold in the mango until all is combined.

Pour into your waiting tin and top with sprinkles of cashews or coconut. Make sure to press any nuts sticking out down. They will catch the heat and burn.

Bake 45 – 50 minutes or until a skewer comes out clean. Turn out onto a wire cooling rack and leave to cool for 20 minutes before tucking in.

For the coconut cream – it’s oh so simple!! Grab the tin from the fridge, turn upside down and open.

Pour out the coconut water, this makes a nice drink (I’m thinking a mocktail) or base for a soup or stew. Scoop out the coconut cream and whip with a whisk of fork for a couple of minutes. You may like to add a little sweetener to it or even some lime juice and zest can be amazing.

Serve the cream straight away or put back into the freezer and give a quick whip before serving, it will go soft and floppy at most room temperatures.

Mango and Cashew Cake

Mango and Cashew Cake

Categories: Baking, Cakes, Recipes, Summer, Treats, Vegan | Tags: , , , , , , | 8 Comments

Decadent Double Chocolate Cake

Decadent Double Chocolate Cake

Decadent Double Chocolate Cake

A really decadent vegan chocolate cake!  This is one we find any excuse to make.  Its a lovely light and rich cake smothered in a very silky, chocolaty icing.  I think you’re going to love it!!

Nigella Lawson certainly knows her way around a cake and this recipe is based on one from her new book. Thanks Nigella! Jane found it somewhere and is such a fan of sweet things, knew it would be a wonder.  It’s one of those recipes that any non-vegan would be amazed to find out had no eggs or dairy in. The texture is wonderful and the icing is a knockout.  I don’t always tell people things are vegan anyway.  It’s just shining, delicious food.  ‘Nuff said!

THE UK COOKING CREW

People like Nigella, Hugh Fearnley Whittingstall, Jamie Oliver and Rick Stein really kept me interested in cooking in my mid 20’s.  Mum normally had Rick and Nigella’s knocking around the house and Hugh was one of my favs. I remember him cooking things on open fires with antique looking pots dangling off his land rover and belting out ‘Baba O Riley’ by The Who with some proper chops. He seemed to be having a great time and it was infectious.  I loved the idea of grabbing a bunch of tomatoes from the green house and popping them straight into a pot.  That definitely sounded like the good life.

SIR JAMIE

A lady bought me Jamie’s first book in a hotel I used to work at, she knew I liked cooking and felt that a cheeky chap on a scooter would appeal.  I loved Jamie’s energy, skill and passion.  He didn’t go down stairs, he slid down bannister’s.  He tore stuff up, threw things, chopped things with his bare hands….  His carefree approach triggered something in me, I’d worked in a kitchen that was classically French, with big hats and all.  Simple, fresh and tasty food was where it was at and Jamie made it all accessible and fun.  That was one of the main things, it was FUN!  You didn’t have to take yourself or food seriously and this was surprisingly quite revolutionary.  Well done Sir Jamie (it can’t be long now lets face it with the sugar thing and all!!!)  Just one little question mate. When are you going fully vegan again????!  Jamie recently talked to Tim Shieff and came straight out and said that the future of food is plant-based.  Which was a really bold thing to say for a celeb chef but unfortunately, in his new book, there is not one vegan recipe.  Maybe the next one will be charged with plant power.  Fingers crossed.   I know that he loves vegan food and there are loads of vegan recipes over on Jamie’s site.

I used to try out loads of this crews recipes whenever I wasn’t working, which was quite a bit back then as I was a restaurant manager.  Cooking has always been a way for me to unwind and be creative.  I remember baking loads of Nigella cakes, there was one chocolate orange cake, oh! and who could forget the chocolate and guiness one.  I used to have it routinely for birthdays.  I just made some chocolate and stout cupcakes that I think you’ll like….coming soon.

Being a vegan chef now, I get the same feeling of inspiration that I did back in my early 20’s when I discovered the real joy of playing with pots and pans.  I can now check out these guy’s recipes and take them in a whole new direction.  The world of vegan cooking seems so vibrant and creative at the minute, I feel so lucky to be part of it.  It’s also great to see Nigella taking a step into the world of vegan baking.  There is an almost unlimited scope for brilliant baking without all that other, unnecessary stuff.  All you need is plants!!

THE MAIN EVENT

I make this Decadent Double Chocolate Cake recipe at least once a week in the kitchen and sometimes opt for a slightly less luxurious icing, a standard chocolate butter cream icing made using plant-based spread goes down very well (see below) and is a reasonable economy style option.  The team I work with in the retreat centre get quite excited when they see this on the menu, which cannot be a bad thing (as long as there’s leftovers that is!)

If you try this recipe out, please let us know.  We’ll be over the moon to hear that you’re in a happy chocolate place.

Recipe Notes

The batter is wet here, don’t fret.  Use a tight fitting tin and line it well.  This will mean that the batter doesn’t sneak through.

Please, please (please), please…..do not open the oven door, no matter how curious you get, when baking.  Leave it for 45 minutes before peaking.  This cake is a good sinker, the bicarb makes it shoot up, but until its almost baked, will quite happily sag back down making it a bit on the heavy side.

Ovens vary and this batter takes a long time to bake but thats what gives the lovely crust and gooey middle.  A winner of a cake combo!  It may need another 10 minutes.

Unless its a special occasion, we normally substitute the coconut oil in the cake and icing for vegan sunflower or olive spread.  This works well, but lacks the ultimate richness and shine that coco oil gives.  We’d recommend treating yourself to a nice big jar of coconut oil.  Early Christmas present.

You can see that I also make a version of the cake in a rectangular tin, whatever you’ve got really.  A rectangular cake is easier to portion, but in this instance, is much wider than a circular cake tin.  This means less time in the oven as the mix is thinner.  Go with your cake instincts!

The economy version with a more everyday icing

The economy version with a more everyday icing

Have some fun with this one!!!!!

Decadent Double Chocolate Cake

The Bits – 1 large cake (10-12 slices)

225g white flour

2 tbs chickpea flour

1½ teaspoons instant coffee powder

80g cocoa

300g soft light brown sugar

1½ teaspoons bicarbonate of soda

½ teaspoon sea salt

375ml hot water

75g non-dairy spread or solid coconut oil

1½ teaspoons apple cider vinegar or white wine vinegar

Chocolate Icing

150g dark chocolate (finely chopped)

75g coconut oil

50g light brown sugar

60ml cold water

1½ tablespoons cocoa

Decoration (optional)

1 tbs edible rose petals or flowers

2 tbs chopped pistachios or almonds

1 tbs orange zest

Do It

Preheat oven 180oC and pop in a baking tray.

For the icing – Put all of the icing ingredients except the chopped chocolate into a heavy-based saucepan and bring to a gentle boil.  Stirring and ensuring all is dissolve. Then turn off the heat and add the chocolate, stir until melted and the icing is glossy. Leave to cool, stirring occasionally.

Line the bottom of a 20cm round springform/ loose bottomed cake tin (you will need a leak proof one, this is a wet batter) with baking parchment.

Place the flour, bicarb, salt, instant coffee, chickpea flour and cocoa in a bowl and mix together.

In a separate bowl, mix together the sugar, hot (not warm) water, non-dairy spread/ coconut oil and vinegar until all has melted and is combined. Stir gradually into the dry ingredients, adding a little liquid at a time, then pour into the prepared tin and bake for 45-55 minutes.

Check after 45 minutes. When done, the cake will be coming away from the edges of the tin and a cake tester will come out clean, apart from a few crumbs. This is a fudgey style cake and you don’t want to overdo it.

Transfer the tin to a wire rack and let the cake cool in its tin.

Give the icing a good stir and check it is nice and thick, yet runny enough to spread on the cake. Pour over the cake and use a spatula to ease the icing to the edges.

A lovely light cake

A lovely light cake

Decorate the cake with scattering of pistachios, orange zest and edible flowers if you have them. Leave to stand for 30 minutes for the icing to set before slicing into the cake.

Store in an airtight container for up to 5 days.

This cake freezes well, without the icing. Wrap the fully cooled cake in a double layer of cling film and a layer of foil. Freeze for up to 3 months. To defrost, unwrap and place on a serving plate at room temperature for 3-4 hours. 

Pop some flowers on your cake - you won't regret it

Pop some flowers on your cake – you won’t regret it

Foodie Fact

For loads of information and nutritional facts about chocolate, or more specifically, cacao, head over to our previous post.  We had an almighty chocolate tasting recently and sampled all the wonders of cacao.

 

Categories: Baking, Cakes, Desserts, photography, Recipes, Vegan | Tags: , , , , | 17 Comments

Coconut Scones

Coconut Scones (Vegan)

Coconut Scones (Vegan)

Mum’s here!!!! (and Dad)  When Mum visits we get stuck into loads of cooking.  We always have done and I’ve had these scones in mind for a while.  I knew Mum would love ’em!  Coconut + scones = genius.

This is a light, rich and crispy scone recipe especially for all those Mum’s out there. It’s MOTHERS DAY!! (Well it was yesterday when we made them!)  This will make any afternoon tea a little bit special.  Just add your favourite jam or Mum just had one with chocolate spread.  Yowzah!

These little beauties are based on the awesome recipe sent across to us by Janice at Nourished by Nature.  A place we visit regularly for nutritious, delicious, healthy recipes.  Janice is so passionate and creative and we love the way she cooks!  These scones even scooped the ‘Sweet Treat’ award at our last cookbook giveaway.  We just had to share our version of the recipe.

I love making scones and must admit, that at the moment I make more savoury scones.  Rosemary scones being my favourite.  They work so well with a nice hearty vegetable broth in these chilly winter months.  I have some great memories of Mum’s baking as a child.  Mum’s walnut and date scones were always amazing!  They were at least three times the thickness of these little guys.  I must remember to ask very nicely for a recipe…..

I have never used a food processor to make scones before, but I will again.  If used with care, i.e. not over working the mixture, the resulting scones are light with a delicious crispy crust.  I do not have a massive sweet tooth but these are right up my street!  A brilliant twist on a classic, just what we’d expect from Janice.

Mum busy with scones.  Always amazing to see Mum in the kitchen!

Mum busy with scones. Always amazing to see Mum in the kitchen!

Recipe Notes

I use the coconut oil here in solid form. This works best.

Feel free to use vegan spread instead of coconut oil, which I realise is quite expensive.  I must admit, I prefer the coconut oil ones.  Richer, lighter and with a crispier crust.

These scones can be made thicker, but I find thin scones great because there is less leftover mixture at the end and that means more lighter scones.  Once we start to reform the leftover straggly bits, the scones become heavier (although still very tasty).  Try weighing them in your hands, you’ll see what I mean.

Remember when baking scones, cookies etc they will seem a little underdone when removing them from the oven, they tend to firm up on the cooling rack.  This is perfectly normal and its best to take them out slightly undone than slightly overdone I feel.  Check the tops and bottoms, if they are beginning to brown, you’re there.

The Bits – Makes 8 medium-sized scones

225g self raising white flour

2 level teaspoons baking powder

50g unrefined white sugar (unprocessed)

100g coconut oil or vegan spread (olive, sunflower etc)

55g desiccated coconut

4-5 tablespoons plant based milk (soya milks works well)

2 tbs soya milk (for brushing)

2 tbs desscated coconut (for topping

Do It

Preheat an oven to 200oC (180oC Fan Oven)

In a food processor, add all the dry ingrdients and pulse a few times until a loose crumb forms. Add the soya milk gradually whilst pulsing until the mixture just starts coming together.

If you are not using a food processor, place all the dry ingredients into a mixing bowl and crumble the mixture using your fingers and thumbs (think breadcrumbs). After a while it will form a fine crumb, add the milk gradually, mixing with a spoon.

Fresh out of the oven

Fresh out of the oven

Pop the mixture onto a floured surface and bring it together with your hands. Do not over handle at this stage or your scones will be dense. Light scones will come about from very little handling.

Roll out the mixture using a rolling pin to a depth of 1 – 1/2 inches and cut out the scones using a cutter of your choice (Janice using a very cool heart shaped one). These ones will be the lightest, gather together the straggly bits of pasty and make into extra scones.  

Place on a baking tray lined with parchment and bake on a middle shelf in the oven for 12-14 minutes until the tops are have browned.

Coconut Scones - one ain't enough!;)

Coconut Scones with Rhubarb and Blueberry Jam – one ain’t enough!;)

Serve

You know how you love ’em!  A scone eaten still warm from the oven is a thing of rare beauty (blazing fire and purring cat on lap optional).

Foodie Fact

Coconut is an incredibly good thing in so many ways.  It is high in fat, giving it that gorgeous richness.  The fat in coconut is no ordinary fat however, a large portion of it is known as lauric acid.  A fat which has been shown to heighten our good cholesterol levels.  A medium coconut covers all of our energetic, mineral and vitamin needs for a whole day!   If you are ever in a tropical country and feeling the heat, reach for coconut water.  It is excellent at rehydrating the body

Categories: Baking, Cakes, Nutrition, photography, Recipes, Treats, Vegan, Wales | Tags: , , , , , | 11 Comments

Fancy a healthy start to 2016? Peace & Parsnips Recipes featured by Veganuary

Big thanks to the wonderful folk at Veganuary for featuring recipes from Peace & Parsnips.  Are you taking part in Veganuary?  How’s it all going?  I’m sure you’re shining away and if you need a little tasty inspiration, check out the feast below!

You’ll find these recipes and many, many more in the ‘recipes’ section of the awesome Veganuary website.

timthumb (3)Chocolate & Maple Ice Cream

timthumb (2)

Lazy Lahmacun

timthumb0YKYRAB0

Charred Fig and Rocket Salad with Lemon Tofu Feta

timthumbH53SPY76

Raw Apple and Date Pie

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Charred Fig and Rocket Salad with Lemon Tofu Feta

I’m busy in the kitchen at the minute and finding little time to blog.  Soz about that.  I also just completed my taxes for the year which was a very painful experience.  Why so many numbers and brackets?  I needed some light relief, I needed some bloggin time with you lovely lot!!!

Check out our facebook and twitter pages for more BHK shenanigans.

I’m off to check on my onions……….X

Categories: Cakes, Desserts, Dinner, gluten-free, Healthy Eating, Peace and Parsnips, Recipes, Salads, Vegan | Tags: , , , , | 10 Comments

Banana, Buckwheat and Walnut Slices (Yummy, easy and don’t cost the earth!)

Banana, Buckwheat and Walnut Slices

Banana, Buckwheat and Walnut Slices

A nice slice of proper, old fashioned cake here. I love baking these traditional style cakes, you can’t go wrong with them.  Its so quick and easy to get together and it is also very cheap.  I doubt you’ll be able to cobble a cake together for much less.  This recipe is a request from one of our lovely guests at Trigonos, Debbie. It is a Trigonos classic and a variation on Ed’s (long serving chef and all around superhero) recipe that has been served to many thousands of artists, meditators, yoga students etc over the years. One of the best things about it, is its ease in preparation. Never a bad thing when working in a busy kitchen!

I was going to make Jack Monroe’s awesome looking Extra-Wholesome Banana Loaf and will be soon as I am always open to adding coconut oil to cakes.  I think its the closest we vegans can get to butter in baking and certainly adds richness and a fuller texture to your favourite slab of sweet happiness.  The extra-wholesome element in this cake is the buckwheat.  Adding great nutrition and a depth to the flavour of the cake.

PLEASE EAT MORE CAKE:)

Afternoon tea at Trigonos is always a highlight for most of our guests. It seems that this tradition is fast disappearing, maybe Great British Bake Off is reversing the trend a little, but a nice sit down with a cup of tea is a British institution that is dwindling due to our now fast paced lifestyles.  I think eating cake is essential to a balance, healthy, blissed out existence.  A little sweetness brings a smile.  Even if its a piece of fruit or one of the vast array of healthy cakes out there now; no sugar, gluten free etc.  We’re making one today actually, something revolving around polenta, garden blackberries and gram flour.  Watch this space (idea pinched from the brilliant Laura at Whole Ingredient blog!)

THE LUCKIEST CHEF ALIVE!

Trigonos is rocking at the minute with local produce.  I’m the luckiest chef living to be able to cook everyday with glorious organic produce.  Its all thanks to Judy and Owain who work their socks off year round to make the conditions right for these summer gluts.  The team have just podded over 200lb of peas alone, the sun has been out a little recently meaning the tomatoes are finally going red and we’ve a whole poly tunnel of them to munch, roast and/ or jar up.

Lovely to see the Ruby Chard back on the Trigonos Menu

Lovely to see the Ruby Chard back on the Trigonos Menu

As a cook, its a busy time of year, but a wonderfully satisfying one.  Our freezers are beginning to burst at the seams with blanched and fresh veggies, prepared for the more leaner months.  Our guests at the retreat centre really appreciate the fact that a lot of the food they eat was grown on the land, it certainly adds to the dining experience.  You can’t beat the flavour and vibrancy!

The courgettes are just taking off and that’s always interesting, overnight they can turn into something resembling a canoe crossed with a marrow.  They just blow up!  Sometimes these are great stuffed, as a real centre piece.  Basil has also ran wild this year, meaning many pesto/ pistou’s.  An abundance of basil is always a rare gift.  I’ve been loving Toasted Cashew and Sun Dried Tomato Pesto, hopefully I’ll get the recipe on the BHK soon.  Jane and I are also doing a few house renovations and working on plenty of Beach House/ Peace & Parsnips based projects.  More news of those to follow soon.

Overall, I’m consistently amazed at how the Trigo guys eek out such abundant harvests from what is quite a damp and overcast part of the world with fairly dodgy volcanic soil. Its taken 17 years to get it to this stage.  I think that is the main lesson with organic farming/ veg growing.  Patience.

Gorgeous summer peas - post pod

Gorgeous summer peas – post pod

This recipe makes roughly 24 slices. It comes directly from my Trigonos recipe book (a cluster of precious, undecipherable scrap paper) where recipes are normally fit to serve 20-30.  Please feel free to scale it down a little.  I’ve also made this with added tahini and sesame seeds (no walnuts) and it becomes even richer with a nice chewy texture.  You may also like to add seasonal berries to the cake.  Raspberries and blackberries, for example, work beautifully.  As ever, use this recipe as a base and go wild!  Feel ever free to experiment…………  Use any oil you like, of course unrefined is much better, preferably with a neutral flavour.  If you don’t have buckwheat flour, you can use all wholemeal.

IDEAS FOR REPLACING EGGS

The bananas here act as a egg replacer.  Other vegan options for helping to bind things together when baking are apple sauce (cooked apples), silken tofu, mashed sweet potato/ squash, ground flax seeds……there are loads of healthy and effective plant based options.

This one’s for you Debbie!!!!!!!x

Trigonos farm - looking a bit misty yesterday.  We're having a pretty good year with produce, but unfortunately, much less sunshine than last year.

Trigonos farm – looking a bit misty yesterday. We’re having a pretty good year with produce, but much less sunshine than last year.

The Bits – 24 Slices

Do It

11 oz (310g) self raising wholemeal flour

5 oz (140g) buckwheat flour

10 oz (285g) unrefined brown sugar

 

1/2 pint (285ml) sunflower oil

1/2 pint (285ml) soya/ rice milk

4 ripe bananas

3 oz (85g) crushed walnuts

 

Do It

Oil and line a 10 inch x 14 inch (roughly) pan with baking parchment.  Preheat an oven to 375oF (190oC).

Sieve the flour and sugar into a large mixing bowl.   Mash your bananas in a seperate bowl with a fork, until smooth.  Make a well in the flour and sugar, gradually pour in your oil and milk followed by your bananas.  Stir until all is nicely combined (not too much).

Pour into the baking pan and pop in the oven for 40-45 mins.  Until your trusty skewer comes out clean when pressed into the centre of the cake.

Turn out onto a wire rack (removing the baking parchment) and leave to cool for 20 minutes.  Devour at will.

Banana. Buckwheat and Walnut Slices - This recipe makes a load, but don't worry, it freezes well!

Banana. Buckwheat and Walnut Slices – This recipe makes a load, but don’t worry, it freezes well!

Serve

Big cups of tea with your neighbour or granny.   Cats are also nice to have around when eating good cake.

Foodie Fact

Buckwheat is a great, gluten free alternative when used as a flour or grain.  Buckwheat is classed as a whole grain but is actually a fruit and is related to sorrel and rhubarb.  Buckwheat is a good source of magnesium and has other properties that promote good cardiovascular health.   Fibre is so important in a well balanced diet and buckwheat, being a whole wholegrain, is full of it.

I use buckwheat, both flour and grain, loads in Peace & Parsnips, things like Buckwheat Pancakes, Toasted Almond Buckwheat Crumble, Kasha with Rosemary, Apricots and Walnuts…….  It’s such a nutritious and tasty thang.

Categories: Baking, Cakes, Local food, photography, Recipes, Wales | Tags: , , , , , , , | 2 Comments

Blueberry and Macadamia Cheesecake (Vegan & Gluten free) – ‘Peace and Parsnips’ recipe featured in Hello! Magazine

Raw-cheesecake-

Raw Blueberry and Macadamia Cheesecake taken from Peace and Parsnips

‘Eat like Beyonce for a day’ with four recipes from Peace and Parsnips.  I have to say that I never thought I’d be feeding Beyonce!!!!  Beyonce is going vegan again for better energy levels, firmer skin and weight loss.  I’m sure she is loving the food also!

This cheesecake is completely raw, simple and gorgeous and this, and three other Peace and Parsnip recipes, have just been featured in Hello! Magazine.  Raw desserts are a real surprise and incredibly decadent and rich.  If you haven’t tried a vegan/ gluten free cheesecake like this before, now is definitely the time!

Randomly it also seems that Adam Richman, the ‘Man vs Food’ guy is also trying out a vegan lifestyle.  That is a huge surprise for a man I last saw eating a steak bigger than three peoples heads!  He’s finding that its the healthiest and most natural way to lose weight.  It seems like loads of celebs are getting into veganism, Jennifer Lopez is another one.  This can only be a good thing as the positive message and delicious food spreads far and wide.

‘Love more, judge less’.  Here’s Marco Borges and Beyonce talking about a plant-based lifestyle and the health benefits of a vegan diet.  It’s caused quite a stir Stateside!

Jane and I Are getting a load of dates in our diary for talks, cooking demos, pop up kitchens, book signings etc across the UK.  Check out the Recent Press and Contact Us page for regular updates.  It’s going to be an awesome summer on the road!  Looking forward to meeting some of you then hopefully!!!!

Here’s an excerpt from Peace and Parsnips:   ‘If you are yet to enter the magical world of raw desserts, this macadamia cheesecake is a sensational place to start. It’s so very rich and surprisingly healthy. If you try one recipe in this book, this is the one. I have yet to meet anybody who can resist it! I like to use cashews in the filling purely because of the price difference -macadamias are expensive – but for a special occasion, go for it! Depending on the season, any berry can be used for this recipe. Blackberries are a personal favourite – I love their bitter edge with the sweet creaminess of the cheesecake – although blueberries are delicious too.’

The Bits – For 8 slices For the crust

300g raw macadamia nuts

A handful of pumpkin seeds

90g dates (soaked for 1 hour, then pitted)

20g freshly grated coconut (desiccated is fine)

For the filling

360g raw cashews or macadamias (soaked for at least 3 hours)

120ml lemon juice

120ml Brown rice syrup (or other sweetener of your choice)

180ml coconut oil

A large pinch of sea salt

1 teaspoon vanilla extract

120ml water

For the sauce

400g blueberries

45g dates (soaked for 1 hour), pitted

Do It

To make the crust, put the macadamias, pumpkin seeds and dates into a food processor and pulse together until a rough crumble is formed. Add more dates if it’s a little dry or more nuts if it’s wet. The mixture should be able to be rolled into balls and not be overly sticky. Scatter a layer of coconut on the base of a cake tin (one of those with a pushy-out bottom). You can use a normal pie/quiche dish -it just makes it harder to extract the cake. Try lining your tins with a snug layer of clingfilm. Using your hands, press the macadamia crust on to the coconut covering the base. Press the edges down with your fingers, forming an even layer.

To make the filling, blitz all the ingredients in the now magically clean food processor (bless those kitchen elves) until you have a smooth cream-like texture. You may need a few goes to get it all incorporated, scraping the sides down with a spatula. Scrape out your filling mixture into the pie dish, bang it gently a few times on a work surface (to get rid of air bubbles) and smooth the filling down using a spatula.

Place in the freezer and freeze -for best results; eat on the day of freezing, or soon after.Remove from the pie dish using a thin cake slice around the edge and gently pushing the base out. Take it easy and slowly. Pop it into the fridge and allow it to defrost -a couple of hours will do. Place the blueberries and dates into your food processor (now miraculously clean again) and blitz well. Add a little water to thin the sauce out if needed. Pour over the cheesecake before serving, and if there is any excess sauce, serve it in a bowl as a berry bonus.

Categories: Cakes, Desserts, Peace and Parsnips, Recipes | Tags: , , , , , , , , | 7 Comments

Gertrude’s Chocolate Cake filled with Dark Cherry Jam

Gertrude's Chocolate Cake filled with Dark Cherry Jam

Gertrude’s Chocolate Cake filled with Dark Cherry Jam

A quick one here that goes out to the Tasmania crew, Fran and Steve of The Road to Serendipity fame.  Fran has requested Gertrude’s (Jane’s Nan) recipe ever since seeing it on a previous post.  Well Fran, here it is, better late than later.  Soz…….

Just to rave about Fran and Steve for a moment, their blog is a massive slice of living off grid (with two cool dogs Bezial and the mighty Earl and bags of awesome looking food, nature, ideas, good livin’, love and plenty of peaceful vibrations).  They really are shining examples of living close to nature and Tasmania looks incredibly beautiful judging by their photos.  There can be few more dedicated and prolific bloggers than our Fran and we always appreciate her enthused feedback.  It is people like Fran who keep this little old blog rocking!  Cheers guys for your constant stream of inspiration and kindness.  You make the blog world a brighter place to be.

This recipe is taken from a scrap of paper written by Gertrude, who is no longer with us.  Gertrude lived to the ripe old age of 96 and dictated this recipe as Jane made it and Keith (Jane’s Dad) scribbled it all down word for word, quaint little sayings and all.  Goodness knows how many times this cake was made, Jane was brought up on it.  All of this means that this is a recipe we hold very dear and even closer to our hearts.  It also makes a lovely light chocolate cake and is ever so easy to make.

This will make one small sandwich cake, double the mix for a big ‘un.

The Bits

4oz margarine (good stuff), 4oz caster sugar, 1/2 teas vanilla essence, 2 eggs (beaten), 4 oz self raising flour (sieved), 1 heaped tbs cocoa (sieved), pinch salt, 1 teas milk (if needed)

Do It

Preheat oven to 190oC (360F)

In a mixing bowl, paste the margarine and caster sugar together with a wooden spoon.

Slowly add the eggs to the paste, stirring nicely.

Gently add the the flour and cocoa, fold into mix.

Add salt and milk if mixture is too dry, should be thick batter texture (that plops off a spoon).

Pour into two small round baking tins (6 inch) with marg rubbed on sides and bottom.  Use baking parchment if you don’t trust the non-stickness of your tin.

Clean out bowl with finger, give to Jane.

Get Nan to smooth it over.

Slam tins on table twice each.

Place in oven, 2/3 the way up.

Check in 1/4 hour with a wooden chopstick or skewer.  It should be clean when retracted.

Serve

We filled our with a fine dark cherry jam and grated dark chocolate on top. Although I hear Gertrude was quite partial to a little butter icing.

We Love It!

‘Cause Gertrude made it.

Foodie Fact

Eating cake makes you happy.

 

Categories: Baking, Budget, Cakes, Recipes | Tags: , , , , , , , , , | 16 Comments

Strawberry Tofu Ice Cream Cake with Fig and Poppy Base (Raw/Vegan/Gluten-Free) + The Best Way To Wash Your Veggies

Strawberry Tofu Cheesecake with Fig and Poppy Seed Base (Raw/ Vegan/ Gluten Free)

Strawberry Tofu Cheesecake with Fig and Poppy Seed Base (Raw/ Vegan/ Gluten Free)

Please don’t be put off by the sound of tofu in a dessert, it is a truly wonderful addition.  Vegans wouldn’t get very far without it!!!!  Tofu has a bad rep, this cake will change it all…..Tofu is a real hero and if bought organic, is a nutritional wonder to boot with a smooth as silk texture.

It really is amazing what you can do with a blender.  This is a light, refreshing take on a cheesecake, only frozen and with the added interest of being made with tofu.  It takes minutes to prepare and sits happily in the freezer.  This has to be one of the healthiest desserts we’ve made at the BHK with bags of strawberries and only a small amount of figs in the base.

Raw desserts are amazing, but some hide huge quantities of sugar, normally in the form of dried fruits (primarily dates).  It is natural sugar, but it is still sugar.  This dessert is lower in sugar than most, the strawberries go a long way to sweetening the cake.  Raw desserts are not always healthier than other desserts, its worth bearing in mind.

Silken tofu is a vegan staple for dessert, baking and all sort of textural fun.  Tofu is high in protein and is a wonderful vehicle for flavours, of course by itself it is bland, its like a blank canvas for a creative cook.  We have used it in cakes to substitute eggs and it does an admirable job.

The base of this cake goes all seedy.  We have found that going raw can cost alot more, a main contributor is nuts.  You can get through alot of them, especially when making desserts.  Instead of flour, you use cashews.  In fact, many of our staples ie rice, cous cous, pasta etc go out of the window on raw and are replaced by fruit and veg.  Certainly not a bad thing for the body, but it can hit you in the wallet/ purse/ piggy bank.  Seeds are the answer and almost equally as flavourful.  For a crunch base like this, they are perfect.  We have also been making butters with them and they are just as tasty as their nutty compadres.  Go seed!

8 REASONS TO LOVE STRAWBERRIES (EVEN MORE)

–  Big C, very big C.  Super packed with Vitamin C (8 strawbs =150% rda)

–  High in fibre (meaning that even though they are beautifully sweet, they have a low GI index)

–  Member of the rose family (how romantic!)

–  Virtually fat free (for those who think that matters. Fat doesn’t make you fat, to be covered in a later post.  Fat is actually very cool.)

–  Full of manganese=great for bones and growth.

–  They fight the big C (Cancer) with something called anthocyanin.

–  Some scientists have said that strawberries are actually anti-aging.

–  Super high in the vitamin B’s, which help metabolism.

Beauty Strawbssss!

Beauty Strawbssss!

CLEANING YOUR FRUIT AND VEG

We’d always recommend that you give strawberries a good wash.  They can attract all sorts of wonderful creep crawlies and dusty dirt.  Here are some top tips for cleaning fruit and vegetables, especially those bought in supermarkets (i.e. not particularly fresh and probably covered with chemicals and pesticides)  This makes a HUGE difference:

This cake is not made with an ice cream maker, so expect a few ice crystals if eaten frozen.  We find it best semi-thawed.  Take it out the freezer an hour before serving and it should soften up nicely.

Makes one large tart, enough for six slices.

The Bits

Topping: 1 punnet strawberries, 1 box silken tofu (350g), 2 tablespoons of sweetener of choice (we used a cane sugar syrup), 1 teaspoon vanilla extract, ½ cup of soaked cashews

Base: 1 cup of dried figs (soaked), ½ cup ground flaxseeds, ½ cup sunflower seeds, ¼ cup of pumpkin seeds, 2 tablespoons poppy seeds

Fresh from the freezer

Fresh from the freezer

Do It

Easy as pie (cake)!

Put all the filling bits in a blender and blend so that you get a thick double cream texture.

Put all the base ingredients into a blender and blend so you get a sticky clumpy mixture that can be rolled into balls.  This will take a few goes, make sure you scrape down the side to incorporate the chunks.

Press the base into a 9” dish circular tart dish lined with cling film.  Pour in the filling and pop in the freezer.  We decided to make two small fat ones, so we could eat one who cake between the two of us.  Some call this greed, we call this the good life!!!!!

Strawberry Tofu Ice Cream Cake

Strawberry Tofu Ice Cream Cake

Serve

Take it out of the freezer before service and it will have a soft scoop ice cream feel with a nice crunchy base.  You will no doubt have some strawberries or other berries lurking around your fruit bowl, this cake is great with them.

We Love It!

The closest we’ve come to a really healthy dessert that doesn’t taste healthy (you know what we mean here).  This is the perfect summer cooler and has a nice richness even though dairy has not entered the building.

Foodie Fact

(Yawn)  Where do you get your protein in a vegan diet? (Yawn again)  The question on the tip of most carnivores tongue could be simply answered with TOFU.   Tofu is an amazing plant based source of protein and is now readily available in most parts of the world.  It has no cholesterol, is low in fat and contains a similar amount of protein to dairy and meat.  Firm tofu is also high in calcium.  As I mentioned above, just make sure it’s organic and not GMO.

Categories: Cakes, Desserts, gluten-free, Raw Food, Recipes, Vegan | Tags: , , , , , , , , | 6 Comments

Dark Chocolate, Ginger and Beetroot Cake with Orange Cream

Dark Chocolate, Beetroot and Ginger Cake with Orange Cream

Dark Chocolate, Beetroot and Ginger Cake with Orange Cream

This was Jane’s birthday cake this year and quite a treat it turned out to be.  I was trying to combine J’s favourite things into a delicious lump of sweet goodness.  It’s a turned into a flavour explosion!  I think it worked out rather well and has been gobbled up in double quick time.

Everytime I make a cake, Jane and I say the same thing; ‘we’ll never eat all of this’.  Two days later we have an empty cake tin and smiles on our faces!  This is our last blast of cake for a while as Raw Earth Month approaches, we’re going raw again but taking it to another level, more to info will follow.  What a way to go out though!

Jane’s birthday was spent wandering around a beautiful local estate with champagne and a picnic under some redwoods, we then had coffee up at the local vineyard, Pant Du, and even managed to wander across to Beaumaris on Anglesey for a slap up feast with free flowing wine.  Not bad for a couple of country bumpkins!

This makes a large cake (probably enough for ten slices) in the Beach House that means a day’s worth of cake!  This recipe is supposed to be light, but I found it to be quite heavy, like a brownie texture.  I’m sure I did something wrong, but I’m not sure what?  I made it in a hectic blur of birthday preparation and was wrapping presents and whipping eggs at the same time, multi-tasking has never been a strong point of mine.  Let us know if yours turns out all light a fluffy.

I served the cake with whipped cream, I thought about a chocolate ganache, but that seemed like chocolate overkill.  The orange cream works out nicely, adding a touch of citrus to what is a slice of real richness.

I am not a huge fan of following elaborate baking recipes, but this was lovely J’s bday, so extra effort and focus was required.  The thing about baking like this is that you end up using every bowl and utensil in the kitchen and cover every work surface with globs of ingredients and flour ends up in the strangest of places.  I did enjoy making this, I loved the ingredients and got some extra special chocolate and cocoa in, working with good ingredients is always special.

Kitchen carnage - the caking making process in full swing

Kitchen carnage – the caking making process in full swing

I’ve used ounces here as that what the original recipe was in and I don’t have any prejudice regarding metric units etc.  An ounce is an ounce, a cup a cup, a whatever a whatever.  Hope it doesn’t cause any hassle.

Use any excuse to make this cake, a distant cousins birthday, the anniversary of your local post office, whatever it takes…BAKE IT!

The Bits

8 ounces fresh beets, 7 ounces fine dark chocolate (70%) 125g, 2 tbs coffee liquer, 3/4 cup + 2 tablespoons butter, 1 cup + 2 tablespoons all-purpose flour, 1 1/4 teaspoons baking powder, 1 1/2 cup good quality cocoa powder, 1/2 cup finely diced crystallised ginger, 5 eggs, 1 cup caster sugar

To Serve – 2 cups whipped cream, 1 tbs orange zest

Do It

Lightly butter an 8-inch cake tin (spring form is good). Heat the oven to 350 degrees F.  Line base with baking parchment if you prefer.

Cook the beets, whole and unpeeled, in boiling unsalted water. Depending on their size, they will be tender within 30 to 40 minutes. Young ones may take slightly less. Drain them, let them cool under running water, then peel them, slice off their stem and root, and process in a blender or food processor until a coarse purée.

Melt the chocolate, broken into small pieces, in a small bowl set over a pot of simmering water. Don’t stir.  When the chocolate looks almost melted, cut the butter into small pieces and add to the melted chocolate, leave to soften.

Sift together the flour, baking powder and cocoa. Separate the eggs, putting the whites in a large mixing bowl. Stir the yolks together.

Now, working quickly but gently, remove the bowl of chocolate from the heat and stir until the butter has melted into the chocolate. Let sit for a few minutes, then stir in the egg yolks and coffee liqueur. Fold in the beetroot.

Whisk the egg whites until stiff, then fold in the sugar. Firmly but gently, fold the beaten egg whites and sugar into the chocolate mixture. A large metal spoon is what you want here; work in a deep, figure-eight movement but take care not to over-mix. Lastly, fold in the flour and cocoa.

Transfer quickly to the prepared cake pan and put in the oven, decreasing the heat immediately to 325 degrees F. Bake for 40 minutes. The rim of the cake will feel spongy, the inner part should still wobble a little when gently shaken. Test with a toothpick , if it is still gooey in the center, continue baking just until moist crumbs cling to the tester.

Chocolate and Beetroot Cake

Chocolate and Beetroot Cake

Set the cake aside to cool (it will sink a tad in the center), loosening it around the edges with a thin icing spatula after half an hour or so. It is not a good idea to remove the cake from its pan until it is completely cold.

Whip up some cream until getting thick and stiff, mix in orange zest and combine well.

Serve

In very thick slices, with lashings of whipped orange cream and poppy seeds (if you have them, we didn’t!).  The more whipped cream, the better.

Dark Chocolate, Ginger and Beetroot Cake

Dark Chocolate, Ginger and Beetroot Cake

We Love It!

This is a dark, rich cake and has a pleasing full texture.  It is dense, but still moist and certainly beats your average chocolate sponge.  The beetroot adds a little earthiness and the peices of ginger are a pleasant surprise.

Foodie Fact

This is a cake with added healthy benefits, yes you’ve got your sugar and all but there is also ginger, beetroot and some wickedly dark chocolate.

Dark chocolate is just a wonderful thing, much, much better than milk or white it also boasts bags of nutritional extras.  Good for the heart and brain, full of vitamins, antioxidants and minerals, it even packs a mild stimulant similar to caffeine to give you a little bump in the right direction.  Eaten in moderation, dark chocolate is a real super food hero.

Jane and I heading out for a birthday dinner bonanza

Jane and I heading out for a birthday dinner bonanza

 

Categories: Baking, Cakes, Desserts, Recipes | Tags: , , , , , , , , , | 3 Comments

Little Bird Raw Food Cafe, Auckland

No I have never been to the Little Bird, but it may be worth the flight.  I am as close to Auckland as I am to Windhoek, but my friend Ang lives in Auckland.  Ang emailed this morning and as usual, got some inspiration twanging.  This is such a magic idea, a raw food non-bakery.  The range of non-baked goodies look like a delight and Im assured that the macadamia macaroons are awesome (they chuffing well sound it).

The Little Bird is definitely a place that reflects our belief about super food and feeding ourselves (and loved ones) only the ‘good stuff’.  The folks at Little Bird offer some great info on their ingredients, many of which you will see used in the BHK regularly.

Non-baked goodies

So heres a link to the Beach House Kitchens new favourite bakery, which we’ll hopefully visit one day.  Until then, I’m sure Ang will help us sample the menu.  If you’re in Auckland, or passing through, heres the address – 385 New North Rd, Kingsland. Ph 550-7377, let us know about those white chocolate truffle things.  Wow!

I feel a raw tart coming on.

Shiny Megan, founder of the Little Bird Non-Bakery

 

Categories: Cakes, Raw Food, Treats | Tags: , , , , , , , , , | 7 Comments

Raw Chocolate and Black Olive Torte

Raw Chocolate and Black Olive Torte

Now this one really blew us away.  An unusual sounding combo that works out in the most fantastic way.  The dark and rich cacao blends perfectly with the fruity flavour of the olive; which of course adds a beautiful, pureed texture.  This torte is moist and decadent and will convince any raw food sceptic, that raw food is not just about carrot sticks!  You can most definitely indulge.

One of the most surprising aspects of raw food has been the desserts.  They are a real knockout!  So full of goodness, you need to eat them in moderation.  The usual base ingredients of nuts and dried fruits means that  they are high in fats and sugars, but remember, they are all good fats and sugars.  Non of that processed and refined rubbish that is alien to our bodies.  These desserts are very, very good sources of energy.

The preparation of this torte is simple, but does take a little time.  We love using fresh coconut, but it can be a job getting into one (see the recent ‘How to dispatch a coconut’ post).  Once the coconut is sorted out, the rest is just an easy exercise in blending and enjoyment.

Psyllium husks are not your average larder stock, you may need to visit your local health food store.  They do make the whole mix set well.  I am sure it will be delicious without them, just a little soft around the edges.

This torte keeps well, even the banana in the crust seems to keep its colour and flavour.  We took it down to Pembrokeshire on tour and enjoyed slices of it whilst sheltering from the wind in our little orange tent.  These raw desserts are hardy.

This recipe comes from the brilliant ‘Eat Smart, Eat Raw‘ book by Kate Wood.   The recipe makes around 12 servings.

The Bits

Base – 200g fresh coconut, 125g ground cashews, 1 banana

Filling – 300g plain black olives (drained and pitted), 450g dates, 30g carob powder (or cacao powder), 1 tbsp grain/ instant coffee, 1 tbsp ground cinnamon, 1 tbsp vanilla extract, 180ml water, 2 tbsp powdered psyllium husks.

Do It

Base – chop coconut in a food processor, add the ground cashews and process both until well mixed, put the banana in a chunk at a time until it binds together nicely (you may not need the whole banana).  Line the mix in a cake tin (around 9in).

Filling –  break down the olives in the food processor, add the dates and process until a paste is formed.  Then add the carob, grain coffee, cinnamon and vanilla and blend again.  Keep it running and add the water gradually, finally add the psyllium and after a minute turn off and immediately spoon onto the base before the psyllium starts to set.  Spread out evenly and leave in the fridge to firm for a few hours.

We Love It!

Yet another gourmet raw dessert.  At this rate we will be gaining weight on this raw diet (with big chocolaty grins on our faces).

Foodie Fact

Psyllium husks are portions of the seed of a plant.  They are mucilaginous, which basically means that  they thicken things up.  They are great for the colon and better blood circulation.  They can be used in vegan baking and help to bind mixtures together.   These husks are also used in a popular detox drink that involves clay, Bentonite clay that is volcanic and has many detoxing properties.

Raw Chocolate and Black Olive Torte

Categories: Cakes, Detox, gluten-free, Recipes, Vegan | Tags: , , , , , , | 16 Comments

Spiced Pear and Flax Seed Scones

Indian Scones

It’s fair to say, I’m not a traditionalist.  I like to keep things interesting.  I reckon the ‘good old days’ can always be bettered, especially when baking.

This is another fusion/experiment from the Beach House Kitchen.  Which worked quite nicely.  You need to try these things, the first guy to make carrot cake probably raised a few stuffy eyebrows.

The scones is a British classic, my favourite Mum recipe was Walnut and Date, but I’ve decided to take it to India.  The inspiration to have a mess with the humble scone came after a day of scone making at work, I found it all quite therapeutic.  Combining the butter with the flour is a very earthy activity.

White flour, sugar and butter is not my kind of nutritional mix, so I’ve changed it to be gentler and better to the body and I think it adds flavour also.  I have added ghee instead of butter, mainly because I have some delicious Pukka ghee at the minute, that graces all it touches.  Ghee also has many health attributes.  There are also soaked flax seeds here, that are super for our digestive system.  Then the spices, conjuring up an Indian chai stall, star anise and cinnamon…..  All in all, not your average scone experience.

All that's missing is a scone

Scones are super easy to make and as with most cakes, gentle handling is a must.  The less hands, the lighter the cake.  I made one large scone, then cut it up into slightly abstract shapes.  This saves on waste dough and a bit of messing around.  It also keeps the scones lighter (although with brown flour, they are heavier than their white cousins).

The weights don’t have to be exact, but do your best.  This recipe will make one large scones, approx. 8 when cut up.

Because we have used ghee here, this recipe is suitable for lactose intolerant munchers also.

These are a robust scone, with lovely spiced fruit and the rich flavour of ghee.

The Bits

250g Wholemeal flour, 75g good  Ghee, 2 big tbs of honey (more if you are a sweet heart), 2 teas baking powder, 3 teas flax seeds (soaked overnight in water and well-drained), 2 pears chopped into small cubes, 2 tbs of water, 1 star anise, 1/2 teas cinnamon, 1/2 teas all spice, 1 clove, 1 teas finely chopped ginger, 1 teas good vanilla extract (worth spending here!), 2 organic beaten eggs, heavy pinch of salt.

Do It

Preheat oven to 200oC

Heat a pan, medium heat, add a little ghee, fry your pears gently for a few minutes, then add all spices to the pan and the splash of water, stir in.  Cover and cook pears on low until tender, letting the spices infuse.  The cooking time will depend of the ripeness and type of pear.  They should nicely soft when ready.  Turn off heat and stir in your honey, it should melt and form a sticky sauce.  Remove the star anise and clove.  Leave to cool.

In a large bowl, add flour, baking powder, salt and drop small lumps of ghee in, coat the lumps in the flour and work in rubbing ghee between thumb and finger tips.  This will take a few minutes to combine and form a breadcrumb-like texture.

Add vanilla extract to the flour, mix your flax seeds into the pears and add, then your eggs, fold into mix (gently).  Using a table knife to mix is advised here.  It should be soft and sticky, if it’s too dry add a touch of milk (we used soya).  Form the mix into a large ball and turn out onto a floured, cool surface.  Dust your hands with flour and get involved, with tenderness.  Gently massage the mix into a large flat round, approx 1 inch tall.  This should rise a little.  Dust the top with a little flour and transfer (easiest to move with two flat spatulas) onto a grease baking tray (greased with Ghee that is).

Flax seeds after a good soaking.

(I have tried brushing on melted honey and ghee with a pinch of cinnamon at this stage, which worked a treat.)

Bake, without opening the door, for around 15 minutes, until the top is nice and golden.  Remove and place on a wire rack to cool.

One big scone, a giant leap forward for all scone makers.

Serve

We had ours hot (hot is best) with Greek yoghurt, some homemade rhubarb compote and hazelnuts.  Rather nice.  They will compliment a nice Indian chai or like any good scone, your cuppa of choice.

Smothered in good things.

We Love It!

This is another, almost guilt free desert.  It is healthier and I think tastes better for it!  What you lose in lightness of the scone, you gain in a sense of well-being in the belly.

Foodie Fact 

Honey is quite incredible.  Especially when you think of the process involved in acquiring it from our friends, the bees.  Honey is my preferred sweetener, not only due to its wonderful flavour, but there are many health benefits to honey.  Caster sugar is a little limp in comparison.

Honey is full of good sugars, mainly fructose.  It’s fat-free and cholesterol free.  It also contains many amino acids and minerals.  The higher the mineral content, the better quality honey.  This can be measured through conductivity.  Manuka Honey is the best (yet another reasons to go to New Zealand) with the best conductivity.

Honey also has antiseptic qualities, meaning that in many ancient civilizations, honey was used on wounds and to treat many ailments.  This makes a mockery of the ‘consume by’ dates on jars bought from supermarkets.  As we know, most of these dates are ridiculous and lead to a large amount of needless food wastage.

If you have a little spare cash, try to buy good quality honey.  Gales and other large honey producers actually feed their bees processed sugars and burn them when they have produced!  It is quite a startling image, the bee equivalent of battery farm hens.

Here are 11 interesting facts about Honey:

http://www.benefits-of-honey.com/honey-benefits.html

Categories: Baking, Cakes, Desserts, Healthy Eating, Low G.I. (glycemic index), Recipes, Snacks and Inbetweens, Treats | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Abigail’s Apple and Pumpkin Vegan Loaf

The heavyweight cake

This is cake in loaf shape.

If you’re looking for something that goes well with a cup of tea, tastes amazing and does your body some good, this fruity loaf’s for you.

I took this recipe from Abigail’s blog http://tofuandflowers.blogspot.com/ which has a lot better pictures than mine and importantly, the loaf seemed to have turned out well.  Although I did change and add to the original.  As you can see, my didn’t rise particularly well, I put it down to not having baking powder!  Otherwise, this is a very simple cake recipe and very tasty.

This loaf really packs a punch!  It’s a heavyweight and really feels like ‘food’, not just a dessert.  Its packed full of fruit and nutrition, no dairy and only has a little added sweetness.

I used honey instead of agave, which I prefer.

With this amount of mixture, I made one big loaf and six small muffins, although Abigail seemed to have fed the five thousand!!!

The Bits

Dry Ingredients: 1 c. oatmeal (plus more to sprinkle on top), 1 1/2 c. whole wheat flour, 1/2 c. white flour, 2 tsp. baking powder, 1/2  tsp. baking soda, 1 tsp. salt, 1/2 tsp. nutmeg, 1/4 tsp. allspice, 1 1/2 tsp. cinnamon, 1/2 c. chopped apple (about 1/3 of a large apple; use the rest with the wet ingredients), 1 c. chopped walnuts (or hazelnuts)
Wet Ingredients: 1 1/2 c. roasted pumpkin, 1 banana, 1 1/2 tsp. fresh grated ginger, 1 c. chopped apple (about 2/3 of a large apple, what you have left over from the wet ingredients), 1/2 c. agave (or 2 tbs honey), 3/4 c. coconut milk (half of a can), 1 1/2 tsp. almond extract, 1 1/2 tsp. vanilla extract.

Do It

Get your pumpkin nicely soft and coloured in a pan and set aside, then:

1. Preheat oven to 200oC. Oil and flour a large loaf tin and muffin tray.
2. In a large bowl, stir together all dry ingredients except the nuts and 1/2 c. chopped apple.
3. In a blender, blend together all wet ingredients (including the 1 c. chopped apple).
4. Mix the pumpkin into the dry ingredients. Once almost completely combined, add the chopped walnuts and apples. Mix up with a nice wooden spoon.
5. Divide the batter evenly between the loaf pan and muffin tray. Sprinkle oatmeal on top of the batter and press the oats into the batter a little.
6. Bake for about 30 minutes, or until a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean.  The loaf will take longer than the muffins.
7. Remove from oven, and cover loaves (still inside their pans) tightly with foil. Allow to steam for 10 minutes. Remove foil, and turn out onto a cooling rack. Cool completely.

Serve

With a dollop of creamy yoghurt.

We Love It

This is a lovely moist spiced nibble at this time of year.  Its pretty much guilt free (if you get guilty about eating food) and is almost a meal in itself.

Foodie Fact

Cinnamon, originally from Sri Lanka, is a wonder bark.  It  has the highest levels of anti-oxidant strength of all foods.  Cinnamon is also anti-inflammatory, anti-septic, rich in minerals and is proven to be soothing.  In Ayurveda, Cinnamon is used to treat diabetes, colds and indigestion.

Categories: Baking, Cakes, Low G.I. (glycemic index), Recipes, Snacks and Inbetweens, Treats, Vegan | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 3 Comments

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