Desserts

Almond and Orange Biscotti – Vegan, Gluten-free

Almond and Orange Biscotti – Gluten-free and vegan

Delicious crunchy biscuits with toasted almonds and a touch of orange.  I love biscotti on their own, but they are so versatile and seem to go perfectly with ice cream.  Not sure why?  Something about that crunch!  They keep well and make lovely gifts, when nicely wrapped.  Early Christmas presents!!?

I’ve been working on a gluten-free version for a while and I’ve cracked it!  Sometimes recipes happen quickly and they’re great, sometimes they takes years to develop and seem to improve naturally each time, a tweak here, a few minutes more in the oven there.  I love this biscotti base recipe and play around with the flavourings and nuts regularly.  I like them spiced up of course, a little cinnamon and cardamom with the orange works really well.  I recently made some coconut and lime biscotti, which whilst not being very Italian, went down a treat

I know, quite well, what it’s like cooking for people with dietary requirements.  It seems like most of us do nowadays.  I love recipes that tick most of the boxes like this one.  Vegan.  Tick.  Gluten-free.  Tick.  Yum.  Big tick.  Because let’s face it, just because we’re baking gluten-free we still want awesome results.  It’s a brilliant challenge and I don’t think anyone will tell the difference with these biscotti.  If anything, I prefer them to the other, wheat ones.

There’s a magic combo here of gram (chickpea) flour and corn flour which I use quite a bit in vegan baking.  The cornflour really helps to bind things together and gram flour is just one of my favourite things.  People can’t believe it when you tell them it’s got chickpeas in.  The shock can lead to dropped biscuits!  But just to confirm, when baked, gram flour has no chickpea flavour.  No worries.

As with all my baking, I try to keep the sugar to a minimum.  I do some ‘sugar-free’ baking, but generally I find that can mean substituting one sugar for another sugar (maybe in liquid form).  I like coconut sugar, but I’m not a fan of it’s price tag.  I try to use good quality brown sugar in baking.  Mostly labeled as light brown sugar.  Some cakes may not be as light, textures do change, but I rarely bake with white sugar.

Biscotti and a brew – Yes please!!

We’ve been talking soup over on the Facebook page, the autumn is settling in nicely up here in Snowdonia.  A nice nip in the air and the nights are creeping in.  The blackberries are going wild!  I love winter but I’m loving getting together our Viva Vegan!  Spain Holiday with the sensational Aine Carlin.  We’re even running an Awesome Autumn offer, £70 off. All the details are here.  We are good to you!!  I’m planning my menus this week and really getting into Mediterranean mode.  Moroccan today.  I love cooking global dishes in Wales, we’ve got such amazing produce to play with.  Especially at this time of the year.  It is strange sometimes thinking about Tangiers and looking at the Snowdonia hills.  They’re pretty different places.  It may seem a little early to be thinking of a winter sun break, but November is just around the corner.  Winter’s coming!  So come with us to Spain and we’ll do all the cooking!!  Can’t wait.

I know you can buy biscotti easily in the shops, but homemade is the way forward right!?  So much better than shop bought and simple to bake.

If you try out the recipe, please let us know  in the comments below, or just say a quick, ‘Hello!!’   We love hearing from you, especially when you’ve just eaten a warm biscotti!

If you’re on Facebook, why not pop over to out Beach House Kitchen Vegan Cooking Group.  You’d be very welcome and we post all kinds of food pictures and chat over there.

PS – Who likes the Campervan mug?

 

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Recipe Notes

If you don’t have gram flour, you can use a gluten-free flour mix instead.  Don’t substitute the polenta, it gives the biscotti a nice bite.

Like I said, use hazelnuts or cashews if you like and any citrus you fancy.

I mentioned in the recipe, but do keep your eye on the biscotti when you’re getting to the end of baking.  There is a fine line between bang on and overdone with biscotti, I think it’s because we bake them for so long.  If your oven is a strong, fan oven, maybe drop the heat 20oC when you go for the second bake.

 

Almond and Orange Biscotti – Vegan and Gluten-free

 

The Bits – For 24-ish

 

Dry

200g gram flour

25g cornflour

75g polenta

1 ½ teas baking powder

¼ teas salt

 

1 handful toasted almonds (roughly chopped)

 

Wet

125g coconut oil (melted)

150g light brown sugar

½ tbs well ground chia seeds (mixed with 3 tbs water)

1 tsp vanilla extract

1 tbs orange zest

 

Do It

Preheat fan oven to 180°C.

Mix the wet ingredients in one bowl, and the dry ingredients in another bowl, then pour the wet into the dry and mix well with a spoon. Don’t worry about over stirring; this is gluten-free.

Line a baking tray / sheet with baking parchment. With wet hands form the dough into two even balls, then fashion into two long flat sausages / logs. The biscotti will rise and spread out a little when baked, but not much.

Place the two logs / sausages onto the baking tray and into the oven for 30 minutes. Turn your tray 90o once if your oven is hotter at one end than the other.

Remove from the oven and leave to cool slightly on the tray. When cool enough to handle, place the two sausages / logs on a chopping board and with a sharp knife cut into biscotti sized slices, roughly ¾ inch in width. Grab the baking tray and flip the individual biscottis on their sides and bake again for 10 more minutes each side. Keep you’re eye on them after the last flip so that they don’t burn. Once there are very crunchy place on a wire rack to cool.

Enjoy with ice cream or a nice coffee (or both!)  We just had them with roasted peaches and coconut ice cream with raspberries on the side.  Must take a picture next time.

 

Foodie Fact

Almonds not only taste amazing, they’re really good for us too.  They’re really high in anti-oxidants, which are in the skin, so try and eat almonds skin-on.  They’re high in Vitamin E, and minerals like manganese and magnesium, plus plenty of fibre and good fats.  Of course, they’re nuts!  Loads of protein there.

Categories: Baking, Desserts, gluten-free, Nutrition, photography, plant-based, Recipes, Vegan | Tags: , , , , | 2 Comments

Top 10 Cooling Summer Recipes – Healthy, Plant-based, Delicious!

Here’s some of our favourite recipes to go with this heatwave.  We spend plenty of time in tropical and steamy places, so we know how to keep things cool when the thermometer starts to rocket.  There are even rumours right now of people in North Wales wearing shorts!

Chill Out!

Focusing on cooling ingredients, especially things like cucumber and watermelon for example, will help keep you chilled.  Also, hot drinks.  Sip some tea like the desert bedouins do, they know it works!  Although a nice long drink, with ice and all the trimmings is the perfect treat.

Try freezing fruits like watermelon, any melon actually, berries, mango, pineapple etc and simply blend them.  Very refreshing, the healthiest slush puppy you’ll ever try!

Also, you can freeze fruit like gooseberries and pop them in a drink, fruit ice cubes.  We also love juicing vegetables and fruits and pouring it into an ice cube tray, or even better, lollipop moulds.  Just add sticks (cocktail sticks are fine for the ice cube tray) and you’ve got gorgeous, healthy coolers waiting for you in the freezer.  Try freezing one layer of juice first, then adding another, and another, until you get a very cool rainbow effect.  Looks amazing!

Here’s our top 10 summer cooler recipes:

Cooling Watermelon, Tofu & Mint Salad

This is the perfect salad for a sweltering day.

Gado Gado – Indonesian Seasonal Salad with Kickin’ Zesty Peanut Sauce

Use whatever mix of veggies you like here, its the dressing that’s the superstar!

Moxarella – Homemade Vegan Mozzarella

The perfect centre piece for a summer ploughmans or salad platter, of course, goes amazingly well with basil and ripe tomatoes.

Watermelon Gazpacho – Cooling, Raw

Very chilled, very simple.  Plus, lots of vibrant colours and flavours.

Charred Fig & Rocket Salad with Lemon Tofu Feta

I love chargrilling or barbecuing figs at this time of year.  Perfect!

Coconut Pad Thai Salad with Almond Dressing

A taste of Thailand.  Light, but packed with nutrition, ideal at this time of year.

Summer Berry & Chocolate Cheesecake – Vegan, Gluten and Sugar-free

When eaten not long out of the freezer, these mini cheesecakes are cooling and so delicious.

Lebanese Halva Choc Ices – Tahini, Rose, Almonds & Figs (Sugar-free)

Our favourite choc ices, a must try and sugar free!

Chocolate & Peanut Butter Ice Cream (Sugar free)

This recipe comes all the way from India, Tamil Nadu, where it reaches nearly 50oC in the summer.

Mango & Coconut Lassi

Coconut + Mango can only = one thing.  YUM!

 

If you like these recipes, please feel free to comment below and share with friends and curious cooks!

Join our private plant-based cooking group here, for exclusive recipes, updates and meet like minded people, share pictures and generally celebrate and get inspired by awesome vegan food and a healthy lifestyle.

Stay cool!

Categories: Desserts, Detox, gluten-free, healthy, Healthy Eating, Lunch, photography, plant-based, Recipes, Salads, Summer, Superfoods, Vegan | Tags: | Leave a comment

Summer Berry & Chocolate Cheesecake – Vegan, Gluten and Sugar-free

Crack it! Grab a spoon;) Frozen chocolate layer then intense berries followed by creamy cashews and wait for it……secret chocolate base! Yow:)

This is the dessert for chilling and enjoying on sunny days.  Once we tasted it, we knew we’d be making these little cheesecakes all summer!  It’s a dessert that looks like a million euros and tastes much better!!

A tantaslising, layered cheesecake, rich, light and fruity all at the same time with a (quite) secret chocolate base and chocolate sauce that freezes and then cracks when cut into!  Plus, it’s simple to make.  They’re vegan, gluten and sugar-free.  It’s an all-round keeper, we had to share it with you all.

We’re still pretty blissed and floating around Spain, what stunning place!  Everytime we visit we love it more.  Finding new places to adore and a pace of life that tickles us.  Manana!  Hoooray!!  We’re heading off next week to some national parks down near Granada, lots of camping and snorkelling.

It’s birthday season here, it was mine (40 years and feelin’ gooood), Mum’s (age unprintable) and Jane’s (40 too in a few days!!)  We celebrated our 80th (40+40) birthday with a few friends down at a perfect spot, under some palm trees facing the beach.  There were top tunes and a full power vegan bbq, which Dad and I cooked.  We sat under a full-ish moon and watched the sparkling waves until sun was about to poke it’s head up.  What a day!

Barbecue is something very special for me and if you’re coming to any of our holidays or events this year, there will no doubt be some bbq action.  Cooking outside is such a treat, with all those smoky aromas.  Love it!!

Summer Berry & Chocolate Cheesecake – Vegan, Gluten and Sugar-free

Birthdays, of course, mean desserts.  With a big ‘D’.  Lots of them.  Constantly.  So, I’ve been making a load recently and have really enjoyed all that sweetness, I’ll post as many as possible.

The fruit layer is flexible, you can try out other fruits.  We’ve made it with just strawberries and the results were delicious. The great thing about these little cheesecakes is they just sit in the freezer until you desire them.  Make a good amount and you’ll have cheesecakes on demand 24/7!  What a thing!!

Birthday BBQ duty in full flow…(with Dad)

You might be thinking that soaking nuts is to make them soft, which it is, easier to blend to a lovely smooth filling.  But, there are also some real health benefits to soaking nuts, read more below in the ‘Foodie Fact’.

Put these cheesecakes in front of your favourite people this summer and I promise you’ll get only full smiles and load yums.  Cheesecake makes the world happy!

Feel free to share this recipe far and wide, the more the merrier!  For other recipes and BHK news and updates, why not like our Facebook page or our private Vegan Cooking group.  You’re defintely invited!

Happy cooking and please let us know if you make these cheesecakes below, hearing from you brings a load of sunshine to our days.

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Recipe Notes

If your dates are not soft to the touch, soak in warm water for 1 hour and drain well.

If you’re in a hurry, pour hot water (from a just boiled kettle) over your cashews, this softens them quicker.  If you have a powerful blender, you don’t need to soak them at all.

I have tried these cheesecakes with other neutrally flavoured oils and it does work, but coconut oil is best, when the cheescake it cool, it helps to give a good and creamy texture.

Use any frozen berries, but I prefer a mix.  Things like strawberries, raspberries, redcurrants, blackcurrants, blackberries etc.  Bags of frozen berries can be bought, normally well priced, in most supermarkets.

This recipe will make 7 reasonably sized cheesecakes, or 6 big ones.  See how you get on.

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Summer Berry & Chocolate Cheesecake

The Bits – For 6-7 mini cheesecakes 

Crust

125g walnuts/ hazelnuts 

45g soft dates (pitted, roughly 14 dates) 

3 tbs cacao/ cocoa powder

 

Filling

175 g frozen berries (2 big handsful)

125g cashews (soaked for 5 hours in cold water)

50ml lemon juice (1 large lemon)

40ml brown rice syrup or other sweetener of your choice

70ml coconut oil (melted)

Pinch of sea salt

1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract

75ml water 

 

Topping

Crushed pistachios

Rose petals

Or more berries

 

Chocolate Sauce or see our 2-Minute Chocolate Sauce Recipe

2 tbs coconut oil (melted)

2 tbs cocoa/ cacao powder

1 tbs maple syrup/ liquid sweetener

Little pinch of salt

 

Do It

You’ll need a standard, 12 cup muffin tray (or maybe you call them Yorkshire Pudding trays?).  The deeper sort, ideally the non-stick, silicone type which is flexible.  This gives a much better finish to the cheesecake as we don’t need to line the individual cups.

Crust – place the walnuts into a food processor and pulse until a rough crumb forms.  Add the other ingredients and pulse until a dough forms, which should stick together when pressed between finger and thumb. 

If you do not have a silicone, non-stick muffin tray, line 6-7 cups with cling film. Now, spoon roughly two heaped tablespoons of the base mix into each cup.  Press the dough down with the back of the spoon or your fingers to make a neat layer that snugly meets the edges.

Filling – blitz all the ingredients, except the berries, 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.  Keep going, get it really nice and smooth, it makes all the difference.  Taste the mix, adding more sweetener or lemon juice if needed.  I like mine with a good zing of lemon.  You should be left with 500ml of filling.

Scoop out half the filling mix and set aside, add the berries to the food processor and blend again until smooth. 

Pour or spoon an even quantity of the white filling onto the bases, followed by an even quantity of the berry filling.  Tap the tray on kitchen surface a few times to get rid of any air bubbles and place carefully in the freezer, making sure the cheesecakes are level. 

It will take a few hours for them to freeze, you can, of course, make these cheesecakes well in advance.  Just cover them with cling film, or pop each cheesecake out and gather the excess cling film around them. The last way is nice and easy.  

Sauce – Combine the ingredients in a bowl and stir together until well combined. Taste and adjust as you like it, more sweetener or a little more bitterness from the cacao/ cocoa.

Depending on the ambient temperature, leave the cheesecakes on your dessert plates for 20 minutes out of the fridge.  We left these for around 10 minutes, but we’re in Spain and its a wee bit hotter than Wales and maybe where you are.  We quite like them when they’re still a bit frozen, especially on a hot day.  You may also find placing the cheesecakes in a fridge and leaving them for a couple of hours to help control the defrosting.

While the cheescakes are defrosting, drizzle over the chocolate sauce and, just before serving, top them with crushed pistachios and rose petals, also grated white chocolate or extra berries is equally as delicious.

Some of you will recognise this beach and Moorish Watchtower;)  Our venue for A Taste of Bliss – Vegan Cooking and Yoga Holiday ’19

Foodie Fact

Soaking nuts?  What’s that all about?  Nuts are packed with nutrition and things that do us good, but they also contain things called phytates and enzyme inhibitors, which decrease the nutritional value of nuts, grains and seeds, plus they make them harder on the digestion.

Soaking nuts activates helpful enzymes, mimicking nature really, the nut transforms, thinks it’s time to sprout.  Many nutrients will also become more bio-available (easier to use by the body).

Another way to aid digestions of nuts with skins, ie almonds, is to remove the skins.  By soaking your nuts, it makes this job super easy. Also, soaking the nuts, and rinsing, gives them a good wash, which is never a bad thing.

The best way to soak nuts is by covering them in fresh water, add a little salt (until it tastes as salty as sea water), then leave overnight or for 8 hours-ish (almonds more like 12, macadamisa 4).  The salt is optional, but is said to improve results.  Be sure to throw away the soaking water and rinse them well.  You could then dry and roast gently in a low oven to make them extra delicious or dehydrate them, if you have a dehydrator handy.

Categories: Cakes, Desserts, gluten-free, healthy, Healthy Eating, Nutrition, photography, plant-based, Recipes, Summer, Vegan | Tags: , , | 6 Comments

Lebanese Halva Choc Ices – Tahini, Rose, Almonds & Figs (Vegan and Sugar-free)

Lebanese Choc Ices with tahini, rose, almond and fig, plus lots of chocolate!

Summer’s here, the sun is out and we all need more choc ices in our lives.  These are a delicious version with a Middle Eastern twist.  Something a little different and a little familiar.  Kids love them and they are actually very healthy.  Hah!  I know that might put some of you off but please come back, give them a go, I promise you’ll be hmmmmming soon.

I love Lebanon!  I also love choc ices!!  And here we are.  This is a recipe I make regularly and most people seem to love.  Rich, creamy (from the tahini and coconut oil), sweet with a little crunch (maple syrup and toasted almonds) and coated in dark and crunchy chocolate.  Who’s into that then!!?

Plus, so easy to make and just sits in the freezer demanding to be munched with smiles.  It’s a sugar free dessert recipe, plus vegan and gluten-free so the vast majority of people are invited to this chocolate coated party.

I’ve had a few requests recently for this recipe, especially from the Taste of Bliss group.  The recipe can and does change regularly, the fillings can be anything you like.  It is delicious without the almonds and figs for example, or you can add more chocolate (never a bad idea), pistachios, top with rose petals…..

Recipe Notes

It may sound strange, but salt is important in desserts, especially here.  Please don’t skip it, a little pinch of salt transforms the flavours in these choc ices.

Not keen on rose?  Many people aren’t.  I’d recommend omitting it or adding a little orange blossom water instead.

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Lebanese Halva Choc Ices – 12-14 slices

3 tbs coconut oil

60ml maple syrup or other liquid sweetener

1 teas vanilla extract

2 large pinches sea salt

340g light tahini (normally 1 jar)

1 handful roasted almonds

2 dried figs (chopped into small chunks)

1 teas rose extract

 

Chocolate

2 tbs cacao / cocoa powder

2 coconut oil (melted)

1 tbs sweetener (maple syrup, brown rice syrup etc)

Pinch sea salt

 

Do It

Halva – Melt the coconut oil, you can warm it gently in a saucepan or place the jar in boiling water, then allow to cool to room temperature. 

Mix the coconut oil with all the other ingredients together in a bowl.  Told you it was easy!!  Taste the mix now, make sure it is sweet enough for you, or has enough rose. 

Line a 9 inch-ish by 6 inch-ish rectangular container with cling film. Pour in the halva mix, smoothing over the top with the back of a spoon. Freeze for 1-2 hours or more.

Chocolate – Stir together the chocolate ingredients in a bowl until well combined.

Now, cut the halva into 12-14 small bars, and place on baking parchment in a large tuppperware style container, suitable for the freezer. Using a fork or toothpick, dip each halva into the chocolate, coat well, and place back in the container.

Cover the container and freeze.  Leave to sit outside of the freezer 10 minutes before serving.

Or, like the photo here, cut the choc ices and then simply drizzle over the chocolate sauce which will set very soon after.   This technique looks nicer.

 

Foodie Fact

Hard to know where to start with these desserts.  Tahini, cacao, coconut oil, almonds, figs….they definitely sit in a very sweet spot between decadent and healthy eats.

Tahini is very high in calcium, almost three times more than milk for example.  Cacao is very high in anti-oxidants and almonds are tops for protein, magnesium and potassium.  Figs are full of beneficial minerals and vitamins and a healthy dose of fibre.

Overall, this is probably the healthiest dessert I’ve ever made this side of a fruit salad!

Categories: Desserts, gluten-free, healthy, Healthy Eating, Nutrition, photography, plant-based, Recipes, Summer, Vegan | Tags: , , , | 5 Comments

Dark Chocolate & Chilli Brownies – Vegan & Gluten-free

Chocolate & Chilli Brownies – Gluten-free and Vegan

An interesting twist on a classic chocolate brownie, made with black beans and given a lift with a little chilli and coffee kick!

Please don’t be put off by the whole bean thing, give them a go.  You would never be able to tell and these brownies have a lovely rich texture and all the benefits of black beans, meaning that they’re healthy and gluten-free.

They’re also pretty fuss-free creations, pop all the bits in your trusty blender, blitz, bake, enjoy!  Dessert sorted!!  I don’t know who originally started to make cakes with beans, but I hope you’re very proud of your genius.

Rich and very chocolaty, they’re a real favourite of ours at the minute.  We normally served them with our Dulce de Leche, it compliments the dark chocolate perfectly with its sweet caramel.  If the Dulce de Leche is warmed, even better, then, a nice bit of vanilla ice cream.  That’s some kind of perfection right there disguised as a gorgeous dessert!

Mexican Style Chocolate Brownies – Quick, healthy and very chocolaty

I feel these brownies have a hint of Mexico about them, with the cinnamon and chilli.  I just like a little chilli tickle, but I know some of you are chilli heads, so add as much as you fancy.  A friend recently tried these with chipotle chilli flakes and enjoyed them, a little smokiness that could be interesting, but I’m not convinced.  I’m going to try it soon, but smokiness in desserts seems like a taste bud twister to me.

There is a lot of cocoa/ cacao in these brownies, which gives them a lovely deep and rich chocolate flavour, with a nice bitterness.  We prefer dark chocolate, this is definitely one for the dark chocolate lovers and when served with dulce de leche, you’ve got the whole sweet and bitter chocolate combo going on, which is a sensation! (So good, I mentioned it twice;)

The best black beans yet! Straight from Mexico City.

Black beans are one of the most incredible plant based foods based nutrition wise, and they taste mighty fine too.  Some people call them ‘turtle beans’ because of their hard shells.

I talk about their nutrition properties below in the ‘Foodie Fact’ bit, but they trample all over beef for example in almost every conceivable nutritional way.  All we need are beans!   We use a load of black beans in the Beach House, you can see by the recipes at the bottom of the page.

Chocolate & Chilli Blender Brownies

What’s your favourite bean?  That’s a tough one I know.  I’m definitely going through a black bean phase, with occasional butter bean relapses and a week rarely goes by when I don’t fall for a kidney bean.  The world of beans are diverse and, in my eyes, there is no downside to beans.

I was once on BBC Radio Wales with Eleri Sion, how lucky am I!  One of the first questions about us vegans was if we fart all the time!!  Due to the bean thing.  I don’t really get windy with beans, but I think the presenter was a little sensitive to pulses.  I wasn’t expecting this question on national radio, it was a laugh and led to a chuckle of an interview.

Some of you will recognise these brownies, we’ve been making them at some of our recent events in Manchester and London.  Check out all of our upcoming events and retreats in Spain, Cornwall and Wales here.

Recipe Notes

These brownies are delicious without the chilli, if you’re not a big fan.  The nuts and chocolate are luxury touches really, again, without them, the brownies still rock!

I think pecans are my favourite nuts for these brownies, but really, most nuts would love this brownie.

Because they’re just made of beans, you can dare to slightly under bake these brownies.  Much better that than over baking them.

EAT ME

Dark Chocolate & Chilli Brownies – Vegan & Gluten-Free

 

The Bits – Makes 12 Brownies

235g or 1 tin black beans (rinsed and drained)

2 tbs ground flax (mixed with 5 tbs water)

3 tbs coconut oil or vegan spread

75g dark brown sugar

75g cocoa/ cacao powder

¼ teas sea salt

1 teas vanilla extract

2 teas instant coffee

1 teas cinnamon

1/6-1 teas chilli powder

1 teas baking powder

½ teas bicarb soda

35g dark chocolate (chopped into small chunks)

35g chopped pecans/ cashews/ peanuts 

 

Do It

Preheat fan oven to 180°C. Oil and line a small oven tray with baking parchment.

Mix your flax seeds with the water and leave for 5 minutes to thicken.  

Add all the ingredients to a food processor (except chocolate and peanuts), blitz for a minute. Scrape the sides of the blender down and repeat blending until a smoothish mix is formed.   

Now add the chocolate and nuts, pulsing a few times to combine. Pour/ scrape the batter into your lined tray and press down flat, around 2/3 inch thick.

Bake for 20-25 minutes or until the tops and edges are just crisping up. Test with a toothpick or skewer; the insides should be a little sticky still. That’s what brownies are all about!  Leave to cool in the tray and they will firm up. 

Serve topped with dulce de leche, vanilla ice cream and a sprinkle of nuts.  Or as they are with a nice cuppa or if you fancy, serve with some whipped coconut cream for a real treat.  

 

Foodie Fact

This is the low down and figures on the super charged hero that is the humble black bean.  They’re full of healthy surprises!

Black beans contain calcium, magnesium, potassium, copper and zinc and can help to maintain strong bones and lower blood pressure.  They are very high in fibre and protein, with much more protein and iron than beef, and they also contain selenium which is a quite rare in the plant world and very, very good for us.    Eat beans, be merry!!

 

 

Categories: Baking, Cakes, Desserts, gluten-free, healthy, Nutrition, photography, plant-based, Recipes, Superfoods, Vegan, Wales | Tags: | 4 Comments

2-Minute Vegan Chocolate Sauce – Only 3 ingredients!

Quick and easy vegan chocolate sauce – good on anything!

We love this one!  3 words, easy, rich and delicious, plus 3 ingredients (and a wee twist of salt).  On our fantasy dessert island, this sauce would be the ocean.

We make this all the time and put it on most things really.  Sometimes though, if you’re going wild, the only accompaniment needed is a big ol’ spoon.  Of course, there is officially over a million ways to make chocolate sauce (no, more!!) but this is the easiest, apart from opening a packetbottlejar-thing.

February seems to be one of those months.  Most people are feeling the winter pinch right now, we’re bang in the middle of Feb (sort of) and I think we all need as much sweetness as possible to get by at this time of year.  This is not food, this is survival!!  Cacao is really high in anti-oxidants so you could kind of say that this is a flu remedy.

RETRO MAGIC

This sauce will also solidify when poured over cold things like ice cream, or those ice cream sandwiches made out of cookies which are just awesome.  Pouring over very cold things will result in a really nice crack and crunch, like the retro chocolate sauce we both had as kids (although Jane is querying the brand here).  I think it was called Birds Ice Magic (see below).  The mint flavour was my favourite, Jane’s was chocolate flavour.  Which is no surprise.  Ice Magic was some kind of revolution.  Anyone remember it?

Ideas for this sauce are of course, ice cream, drizzle over your favourite biscuit/ cake/ pancake/ toast/ fruit/ you get the idea.  This sauce rocks on anything!!

The great thing here is that with three ingredients, you can balance the chocolate sauce how you like it.  Some like it really dark (more cacao/ cocoa), some are sweeties (more sweetener).  You may also like to flavour this sauce with things like ginger, cinnamon, mint, orange, vanilla, butterscotch, brandy (just a dash;) this list goes on.   Let us know if you try it out.

Cacao is unprocessed, well, cacao, which eventually makes chocolate.  Cacao powder is a little more expensive but has loads more nutrients and we think the taste is better.

 

Recipe Notes

We prefer to use coconut oil in this sauce, you can get coconut oil that is low on coconut flavour, if you’re not into that.  At a push, you can use other lightly flavoured oils, but we haven’t tried this extensively.

Maple syrup is our favourite but any liquid sweetener, like brown rice syrup, agave etc will work nicely.

This sauce will keep nicely in the fridge, but its so easy to make and eat, there will be little need for leftovers;)

The coconut oil should be melted, liquid, but not really hot.  Let it chill a bit.

 

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2-Minute Vegan Chocolate Sauce

The Bits – One small bowlful 

2 tbs cacao / cocoa powder

2 tbs coconut oil (melted and cooled a little)

1 tbs sweetener (maple syrup, brown rice syrup etc)

Pinch sea salt

 

Do It

Stir together the ingredients in a bowl until a smooth sauce forms.  That’s it!!

 

Foodie Fact 

You may know how much we love chocolate, we’ve written about it loads before, we’ve also hosted chocolate tastings.  Here’s what we’ve said about the incredible health benefits of cacao (aka chocolate, unprocessed, just the cacao bean really…)

THE HEALTH BENEFITS OF REAL CACAO
Cacao has been known as the ‘Food of the Gods’ for centuries in the Americas and it’s easy to see why. The cacao tree produces big pods, where the cacao beans hide and grow. Inside each cacao bean there is a cacao nib (for chocolate) and cacao butter (for chocolate, cosmetics etc). Most chocolates are made with extra cacao butter, or things like soya lecithin, added to make the bar smooth.

Cacao is very high in antioxidants and essential nutrients although many of these can be lost when processed into chocolate or cocoa. Some of the apparent health benefits of eating cacao are lowering high blood pressure, high cholesterol, heart disease, asthma, diarrhea, preventing wrinkles, liver, bladder and kidney disorders and many more.

The cacao bean is packed full of antioxidants, good fats, carbohydrates, protein, minerals like calcium, magnesium, sulfur, copper, iron, zinc and potassium. They also contain oleic acid which is a heart-healthy essential monounsaturated fat, fiber and vitamins E, B2, B1, B5, B3 and B9 as well as small quantities of vitamin A and C. We think it’s incredible that something as decadent as chocolate, especially raw chocolate, is so wonderfully healthy.

 

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Categories: Desserts, gluten-free, healthy, Nutrition, plant-based, Recipes, Sauces, Superfoods, Vegan, veganism | Tags: , , | 2 Comments

Spiced Orange & Almond Upside Down Cake – Vegan and Gluten-free

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Spiced Orange & Almond Polenta Cake – Vegan, Gluten-free

This is just the kind of deliciousness I like at Christmas, something light and rich.  Makes a nice change at this time of year!  One of the highlights for me is the intense spiced marmalade glaze (with or without whiskey;)  This cake can be served as festive dessert with some vegan creme fraiche or cream.

I do enjoy Christmas cake and pud, but they can get a little heavy.  This one is so easy to make and looks lovely, it’s also gluten-free, so it ticks many dietary boxes.  I know that we can be cooking for friends and family at this time of year and catering for dietary requirements.  I love recipes like this, that everyone can enjoy, vegan, gluten-freers and the rest!  It’s just a straight up delicious cake.

You’ll probably get a better, caramelised look in your oven.  I was using a big old oven (looks like an ancient steam train) which is a temperamental creature, ideally, we’re looking for loads of gorgeous caramel all over your oranges.  But either way, it’s a lovely cake.

The only problem I can see with your average polenta cake is that it can be a little dry.  You won’t have that issue with this recipe as the oranges sit on top and keep the cake nice and moist.  You can also use blood oranges (which I couldn’t get hold of), pears, apples, pineapple, plums, in fact most fruit will be great on top of this almond and polenta base.   The polenta means that you get a nice crust on this cake, soft in the middle, crisp on the outside is always a good combo in my book.

I’ve had a really nice couple of weeks, whizzing all over the UK cooking and enjoying.  One of the highlights was walking along the tip of Cornwall, near Land’s End.  There were rainbows out at sea, the waves were huge and ferocious and the coastline jagged and epic.  The wind was incredible and it seemed like I had the whole coastline to myself.  Afterwards, I enjoyed the obligatory pastie, I was amazed to see how many vegan options there are in Cornwall.  I also managed to check out some cool locations for cooking retreats in ’18.  More info to come soon……

Cape Cornwall – Stunning!!

If you’re looking for some Christmas recipes, here’s a few we think you’ll like:

 

maple roasted parsnip, walnut & mushroom roulade with cashew cream sauce

boozy snowball truffles

roast winter vegetable salad

parsnip, cranberry & chestnut roast

oven baked squash gnocchi with sun-dried tomatoes, fennel & spinach pesto

festive pear & cranberry chutney

cauliflower hearts, hazelnut, creamy asparagus sauce

decadent double chocolate cake 

braised cauliflower & puy lentil tabouleh

ginger & chocolate treats (simple festive fun)

 

This will be my last post before Christmas ’18, I’m just leaving to Spain, so I must scoot.  Thanks to everyone for the support, inspiration and love in 2017!  You really make the BHK a very special place to be!!  Have a peaceful and chilled Christmas filled with tasty nibbles.  Let us know what’s cookin’ in the comments below?

Love and Happiness, Lee & JaneX

Recipe Notes

This cake is not a big riser, but it should still be light.

The texture of this cake is moist, when checking it during baking, bare this in mind.  There is a difference between moist and sticky/ raw.  You can tell when you check it with a skewer, there should be nothing that looks like raw cake batter on the skewer.   I hope that makes sense;)

If you are using other fruit, feel free to freestyle with the glaze.  Using other jams for example is a really nice idea to compliment the fruit.

Because of the fresh fruit, this cake does not keep well.   I guess you’ll just need to polish it off quickly (don’t worry, this is easily done:)

 

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Spiced Orange & Almond Upside Down Cake

The Bits – For 8-10 slices

4 mandarins

125ml light rapeseed/ olive oil

100g light brown sugar

150g ground almonds

80g polenta

1 lime or ½ lemon (juice)

1 teas baking powder

½ teas turmeric

1 teas vanilla extract

2 tbs ground flax/ chia seeds (mixed with 5 tbs water)

 

A little light brown sugar (for dusting)

 

Glaze

5 tbs marmalade

2 star anise

4 cloves

2 green cardamom pods (cracked)

2 tbs whiskey (optional but nice)

 

Do It

Line and oil the base and sides of a 8 inch cake tin with baking parchment.  Lightly dust the base and side of your cake tin with sugar.  Preheat oven to 180oC.

 

Zest one of the mandarins, neatly peel the rest and slice across into ⅔ cm slices.  Pick out any seeds.   Lay the slices over the bottom of the tin and fill in the gaps with segments if needed.  Beat together the oil and sugar and add the orange zest, lime juice, almonds, polenta, baking powder, turmeric, vanilla extract and flax seeds.  Mix until combined well.  Pour the batter into your cake tin.  Smooth the top.    

 

Bake on a middle shelf for 25-30 minutes, until the cakes top is golden brown and springy.  Test with a skewer and remember this is a moist cake, so there will be more stickiness than a normal cake when testing.

 

While it’s baking, warm the marmalade and spices in a small pan, boil for a minute and then set aside.   

 

Leave the cake to cool and turn out of the pan onto a serving plate/ platter.  Brush with the marmalade (easiest to do when warm).  Decorate with the spices if you like and serve with vegan creme fraiche or ice cream.  

Categories: Baking, Cakes, Desserts, gluten-free, photography, plant-based, Recipes, Vegan | Tags: , , | 1 Comment

Drunken Cherries – Autumnal Livener!

Drunken Cherries

Surely one of the most delicious ways to warm up!  A fruity little livener!!  This is a simple method to preserve berries and produce some wonderful flavoured spirits to make winter cocktails.

It’s Halloween and we’re having a big fire and welcoming in the darker, wintery times with some luxury hot chocolate spiked with cherry brandy and some rich chocolate mousse (see recipe here) and drunken cherries.  There’s a theme there!!  Cherries and chocolate are a match made somewhere very, very nice.

I love an open fire at Halloween, staring into the flames I feel inspired and a real connection to the festival; from light to dark.  It’s also just great to be outside at night in the winter, especially with a clear sky overhead and maybe a glass of cherry brandy warming your cockles!!  Lighting fires at Halloween (or Samhain in Celtic Traditions) especially on higher ground is said to aid a souls way to heaven.

Samhain was a day set aside for fasting and reflection, but things have changed a little.  Halloween is now a big party of course, all about feasting and treats.  We’re well stocked for trick or treaters and I’m enjoying Rye flour at the minute, so loaves and cakes are on the way for tonight as well as plenty of squash/ pumpkin in a variety of forms.   I might go for a good old school Soul Cake (like a spiced scone really)?  We’ll see….

Beautiful Snowdonia – October is a spectacular month over here

North Wales has been sparkling of late in Autumn sunshine and crystal clear skies.  I love this time of year up here, probably my favourite time in these hills.  We’ve been out walking, exploring new corners of Snowdonia, there seems to be endless trails and paths that lead to new vistas, lakes and terrain.  Soon it will be a bog-fest, many paths transformed into marshes.  The walking is still incredible, but you need to get a little more semi-aquatic, and definitely, a whole lot muddier and chilled.

I’m not a huge fan of the dark, long nights, so tonight is a chance for me to celebrate the brighter times of year.  October has been so beautiful and November is the turning point where the wet and grey rise up and take control.  I’m always reminded of the villages I’ve visited in the high Himalayas, where they are snowed in for many months a year and spend the days with friends and family, drinking local chang (like a watered down moonshine), singing, dancing and telling stories.  That’s their approach to living through a really arduous winter.  I think we all need more singing, dancing and story telling in winter and lets face it, homemade cherry brandy is way better than chang (trust me)!!

You can use this method (technically it’s called ‘macerating’) to preserve and transform any berries really into something warming and delicious in the winter months.  We love to make things like Sloe Gin, Blackberry Whiskey and whatever soft fruits we can get our hands on.  I managed to get some tasty cherries a couple of months ago and now we are reaping the rewards!  I love preserving the bounty of summer/ autumn and enjoying it in the depths of winter, it seems like such a gift to pop open a jar of jam or pickle and share in the joys of the brighter months.  It makes winter slip by a little easier, some summertime sweetness.

Macerating cherries brings out some surprising flavours

Recipe Notes

Berries/ fruits like blackberries, strawberries, loganberries, sloe, plums, damsons, mulberries, blueberries will all be very nice in this recipe.

The longer you leave the fruit to macerate, the more the flavours will develop and change.  Taste it regularly and drink it when you like it!  It’s a fascinating process!!

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Drunken Cherries

 

The Bits – Makes enough for one medium kilner jar

700g cherries (pitted and cut in half)

½ bottle brandy

2 handfuls sugar (to taste)

 

Do It

Place the cherries in medium sized kilner jar, if you’re keeping for awhile, or any large sealable container if otherwise.  Pour over the brandy and sprinkle the sugar over.  Place a lid on and gently shake to combine the sugar.  Now taste.  If you like it sweeter, add more sugar.  Seal and store in a cupboard.

These can be enjoyed after a few days but are better when left for a few weeks or longer.  If there are any cherries sticking above the brandy, either add more brandy or a splash of water.  

Use the cherries in desserts and drink the brandy as you like it.  It’s nice when served warm, especially in hot chocolate.  

Hiking in Snowdonia near Moel Siabod

  Come join us in North Wales for a retreat or cooking workshop soon

Check out our events page here or join our Facebook vegan cooking page

 

Categories: Autumn, Desserts, gluten-free, photography, plant-based, Recipes, Vegan, Wales | Tags: , , | Leave a comment

Vegan Chocolate Mousse Cups

This deep and rich chocolate mousse recipe is simple and decadent, always a good mix!  This is a go to recipe for a quick and stunning dessert that no one can resist.  Top with your favourite, colourful things and serve in cups/ glasses and you have a lovely looking dessert with minimum fuss.

We made a dessert, very much like this, in London at the weekend at our Global Vegan event and cooking demo at Vegfest.  We had a blast and one thing I’ve noticed with this dessert is very clean glasses.  There is rarely any leftovers and you know its good when people are carefully scraping their glasses out with their spoons.  Good food can really transport us to a happy place, we switch off from the outside world and all we really care about is dessert!   We become consumed by chocolate, we are lost in mousse!!

A food processor is fine here, but a blender is probably better to get the mousse really smooth and shiny.  I’ve been playing for a while with my vegan/ gluten-free biscotti recipe and it is getting there.  I may well share it soon, I need another few more tasting sessions first!  A bit of crunch is perfect with the mousse, scooping up the mousse with a biscotti is something outrageous!

Recipe Notes

You can also use silken tofu (drained) to make this mousse.  Replace a similar quantity for the avocadoes or use a mixture of the two.  Both will give a lovely plant-based creaminess.

I don’t like my mousse too sweet, you may need a little more sweetness, give it a taste before serving and add more maple syrup as needed.  Use any sweetener you like, but I love the combo of maple syrup and dark chocolate.

Vegan Chocolate Mousse

To make sure you don’t waste a drop of your mousse, use a rubber spatula to scrape out your food processor/ blender.

Adding a large pinch of chilli powder is a nice idea here, takes it in a slightly Mexican direction which I love.

For your topping, think about contrasting colours and textures.  Pistachios are perfect because they’re delicious, bright and GREEN.  They always look great.

Don’t forget the little twist of salt, it really deepens the chocolate flavour.

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Rich Chocolate Mousse

The Bits – For 4-6

4 ripe avocados
1/2 cup cacao/ cocoa
3/4 cup almond/ other plant milk (unsweetened)
1/4 cup maple syrup
1 tsp vanilla essence
Large pinch sea salt
1/8 tsp cinnamon
3 tbs coconut oil (melted, but cooled to room temperature)

Topping
Scattering of berries and toasted flaked almonds, sliced strawberry, amaretti biscuit, almond biscotti, pomegranate and pistachio…..whatever your favourite toppings are or what is to hand.

Do It

Place all ingredients into a blender and blitz until smooth.  This may take a few attempts of stopping the blender and scraping down the sides with a blender.

Refrigerate for a few hours to thicken or can be enjoyed straight away.

The dark chocolate mousse goes perfectly with something crispy and sweet, like a biscotti, wafer or amaretti biscuit.

Foodie Fact 

Cacao is unrefined chocolate.  Simple and stunningly healthy.  It comes normally in powder form, but can also be found in cacao ‘nibs’.  Cacao is full of anti-oxidants and as you may know, eating chocolate releases endorphins, makings us more happy, shiny people:)

If you like this recipe and want to see more BHK cooking and tips, join our Facebook cooking group here

Categories: Desserts, gluten-free, healthy, Nutrition, photography, plant-based, Recipes, Vegan, veganism | Tags: , , , , | 5 Comments

Banana & Peanut Butter Muffins with Date Caramel

Banana & Peanut Butter Muffins with Date Caramel

Most of the time, the simple things are the best.  Like these muffins.  They take a few minutes to make and I love the combination of banana, peanut and dates.  It’s like these flavours were created for a muffin!  This is a recipe that I keep going back to again and again, I’m really chuffed that I’ve finally got around to sharing it.

These muffins are loved by kids especially, I’ve seen some amazing reactions from kids when faced with these.  They disappear quickly and I think the caramel is a real favourite.   They are also pretty healthy, but kids are in no way put off by that, they just love them because they’re yum.  Kids are a good jury for food, they are perfectly honest and normally have an interesting point or two to make.

I have used a little white flour here, but you could go fully wholemeal if you’re feeling that.  Also, buckwheat flour is a lovely addition to these muffins, adds a real depth.  The key here it to not over bake them, they will go dry quickly.  Get them out when they are still soft in the middle, but a skewer comes out clean (a little stickiness is fine) and they will firm up when cooled.

The date caramel is so, so easy and can be used on all kinds of desserts and as a go to icing and filling, it’s just a superstar recipe with three ingredients only!!  These muffins also make for a great, super quick breakfast option.

We cooked these at the Home Cooked Happiness Vegan Cooking Retreat recently and I’ve noticed out of the big handbook of recipes we worked through, a couple of people have already made these muffins.  The sign of a winning recipe for me is if people feel like making it when they get home.  These muffins use such simple ingredients that almost anyone can jump in their kitchen right now and give them a go!

Recipe Notes

Get some nice big muffins cases here.  Little cup cake cases won’t do.  Preferably without frilly patterns on.  I’m against frilly patterns in this case.  I like plain brown or white, however Jane has talked me into a pink muffin case in the past.  These muffins are fun enough without additional frilliness.

If you’re feeling chocolaty, add a few tbs of cocoa/ cacao to the mix, the results are amazing!!

I like coconut oil, but normal vegetable oil is also fine.

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Banana & Peanut Butter Muffins with Date Caramel

The Bits – 10 muffins
3 ripe bananas
70ml coconut oil (melted)
65g light brown sugar
100g self raising flour
120g wholemeal flour
1 teas bicarb
1 teas cinnamon
3 tbs peanut butter

Date Caramel

175g dates
3 tbs peanut butter
3-4 tbs water

Topping

1 handful toasted peanuts (roughly chopped)
10 pieces dried banana/ banana chips

Do It
Preheat oven to 180oC, place 10 muffin cases in your muffin tin.

Mash the bananas in a mixing bowl, mix in peanut butter, oil and sugar, then the flour, bicarb, cinnamon. Mix well until a lumpy batter form.

Spoon the mix into your muffin cases, so they’re ¾ full. Pop in the oven and bake for 20 minutes.  Leave the muffins to cool in the tin.

Caramel – Place all in a blender and blitz until smooth. This will take a few goes. Drizzle in more water to thin out to a spreadable consistency.

Spread your caramel over cooled muffins, sprinkle with peanuts and stick a banana chip on top for a final flourish!

Foodie Fact 

Peanuts are nutritional powerhouses, like most nuts.  A handle full a day is a great idea.  Packed with minerals, antioxidants and protein, they are the ideal snack, rich in good fats and fibre.  Peanut butter is a great way of adding peanut power to smoothies, dressings, curries/soups/stews.  The hype is that nuts are fattening, but it has been shown that adding nuts to our diets can actually help us loss weight.

Jane and I have been enjoying them boiled, something we’d not tried until we went to China.  Great added to a stir fry or tossed with a Chinese Style dressing in a salad.

 

We’re off to Spain in May ’18 to host ‘A Taste of Bliss’ with the wonderful Complete Unity Yoga.

Come and join us!  Click here for more information and bookings.

Categories: Baking, Cakes, Desserts, healthy, Nutrition, photography, plant-based, Recipes, Vegan | Tags: , , , | 6 Comments

Dulce de Leche de Coco – Vegan Dulce de Leche

Vegan Dulce de Leche

This is a very simple recipe for vegan dulce de leche. I love the coconut flavour here, it adds something to the classic recipe. It’s a treat that keeps well in the fridge and is really versatile. I hear that in Puerto Rico they make DDL with coconut milk, so this might even be a traditional-ish recipe. Who knew!?  I think this is very coconuty, so I’ve swapped the name to reflect this.

Up here in the North lands (UK) we need a touch of sweetness. The skies are dark grey and its one long drizzle-fest. Some call it summertime in these parts. Jane and I are creatures of the sunshine, it’s a bit of shock to the system really, but we know how it goes. Moving on from weather, how about something sticky, sweet and gorgeous. This recipe only has a few of ingredients and requires a long, slow simmer which transforms it into something incredible.

SWEET TRAVELS

I always associate Dulce de Leche with my travels in Central America many years ago, it was a regular source of sweetness and when things were limited menu wise, you always knew dessert was looking good!

I remember going camping in the volcanoes of Guatemala (may sound a bit Joseph Conrad, but there are loads of people doing it). Our guides were lovely guys and we had an incredible time watching the sun rise over a strip of active volcanoes as they blew ash, boulders and toxic gas up into the ether. For dinner, we had beans. Then came dessert.  I peered into the pan bubbling over the fire to see a tin being boiled. I was intrigued and a bit uninspired by its potential tastiness. Turns out it was Dulce de Leche.  A tin of condensed milk boiled for a while produces old school Dulce de Leche.  But this recipe is easily as rich and moreish.

Like any much loved food, Dulce de Leche has quite a few variations and regional this and thats. In many parts of Latin America, its cooked right down, like a crumbly fudge. In Cuba they used curdled milk (which I’d like to veganize soon) and in Mexico they add vanilla to the mix. In Chile they make ‘manajar’ which has cannabis added, sure to liven up your morning toast. Variations are also traditionally made in France, Norway. Poland, Russia……it’s a worldwide craze!

Dulce de Leche is just milk slowly cooked with lots of sugar, the longer you cook it the more it caramelizes and gets more funky and deep in colour, sticky and lovely. It can do anything; on toast, as a filling or topping for cakes, stirred into smoothies, porridge or rice pudding. Really though, I’m a purist, straight out of the jar, onto a spoon.

There are a raft of recipes on line for vegan dulce de leche, I like the idea of using dates cooked with the coconut milk, but the results were not anywhere near as good as this recipe.  I’m going to keep looking into that one though.

Recipe Notes

A thick bottomed sauce pan here is ideal. Otherwise, keep stirring and ensuring your bottom doesn’t burn.

Remember, the longer you cook it. the deeper the colour. I like this lighter version, but cook it longer if you fancy something deep. dark and super rich.

I add much less sugar than your average dulce de leche, I find it easily sweet enough to satisfy my sweet tooth. Add more if you fancy.

If you feel like going a little Mexican, why not try adding 1/2 teas vanilla extract?

The Bits – One medium jarful

1 cans coconut milk

125g sugar

Large pinch sea salt

 

Leche Dulce de Coco

Do It

Place the bits in heavy bottomed sauce pan, heat on medium and whisk until the sugar is dissolved.  Allow the milk to boil and bubble gently until reduced to roughly 250ml stirring often and the colour has darken to a deeper brown.  This takes around 40-50 minutes.  Take this as far as you like.  The longer you cook, the sweeter and thicker it will become.  

Pour into sterilised jars and leave to cool.  Pop a lid on and keep in the fridge.  Will keep for a month quite happily.  If it separates, simply stir it.   

Still a chance to book onto one of our vegan cooking retreats:

One World Vegan 29th Aug -2nd Sep 17 or

Home Cooked Happiness 16th-20th Sep 17  

There are a few spaces left on each.  Bit last minute I know, but I find the best things are;)  

Hope to see you in North Wales soon!! 

Categories: Breakfast, Desserts, photography, plant-based, Recipes, Travel, Vegan | Tags: , , , , | 2 Comments

Summer Rose Syrup

IMG_0501.JPGSummer roses…

This recipe captures the scent, fragrance and wild essence from your garden rose into a syrup so gorgeous and simple you’ll want to keep making it over and over.

In the UK we’re blessed with many herbs and flowers that give food such an extra special unique taste. Elderflower season has come and gone, and this year’s cordial is now frozen into ice cubes for coolers dressings and cakes to be enjoyed well into the summer.

Over the years I’ve been fascinated by cooking with wild-plants that I find in the hedgerows and gardens near wherever I’m living. For some people it is a way of life and the ultimate expression of seasonality.

In America last year I was fortunate enough to meet a herbalist who made her own herbal vinegars, flower coolers, infusions and tinctures. When I tasted for the first time in my life a vinegar made of yellow dock that was so punchy fragrant and utterly indescribably bittersweet, it added such an unique flavour to our roasted vegetable dish, and added so many health benefits I vowed I would make it some day… but right now the roses are in bloom.

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This recipe is so utterly simple and delicious it will put the magic of summer into whatever piece of toast, pancake, yoghurt or waffle you drizzle it over. It makes a lovely icing for a cake.  Full of sugar, just like jam, this doesn’t pretend to be healthy. But as a vegan sweetener or jam equivalent, rose petal syrup can be used in moderation, made in small quantities and appreciated for what it is. I feel it’s a valuable and gorgeous addition to your cupboard.

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CHINESE ROSE

Recently when we were in China, travelling in the South in Yunnan, we came across a rose delicacy that blew me away and got me very interested in learning more about cooking with roses. It was a Moon Cake, a ceremonial and local delicacy, made with a flaking light pastry filled with chunky rose jam. Served warm and fresh out of a linen-lined basket by a crinkly faced apple-cheeked local. We stood there blissfully at the stall (despite it being close to a main road for passing trade) immersed in rose-heaven…a taste so blissful I want to go all the way back to China just to taste it again, it blew my mind!

P1020903

Rose sweeties…

Ever since Lee and I volunteered on an organic lavender and rose farm in Turkey in 2014, I became fascinated with the colossal copper vats where literally tons of freshly harvested rose petals would be made into essential oil. All around Turkey, roses featured highly in every market place in the form of soaps, tea, jams, sweets, and as rose-water, traditionally used by woman and men as a hand spray to lightly scent the skin after a meal.

rose sultan

“What is the scent of the Rose? The breath of reason and intelligence, a sweet guide on the way to the eternal kingdom.” Rumi

The Damask rose is as revered in Turkish society today as it was in the Ottoman times for it’s edible petals and delicious scent. Imagine a scene at Topkapi Palace, Istanbul in the Ottoman times where sultans sip rose sherbet in their thrones, Ottoman woman laze around in rose-scented baths applying oils and creams to their skins. Roses, known as ‘The flower of Heaven’ were a symbol of divine beauty and were used extensively in spiritual ceremonies. Medicines, syrups and sweets made from roses were and still are used every day. It’s all very romantic.

If it’s good enough for a sultan it’s good enough for us too, right?

This recipe was requested by a friend of the BHK, super Simon over at the Heart Kitchen.

Here’s the recipe!

Enjoy, Jane:)

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The bits

1 cup of caster sugar

Half a cup of water

1 tablespoon of lemon juice

2 cups of freshly picked rose petals

IMG_0528

Do it

Shake the rose petals well outside after picking to free the tiny insects. Warm the sugar, water and lemon juice on a low heat until it’s dissolved into a thick syrup. Add the rose petals and stir them in the sugar solution for about 5 minutes or so, then take off the heat and keep stirring for another ten, until the rose petals have gone see-through and the syrup has changed colour.

Strain the syrup through muslin into a jar.

IMG_0542

Serve

This is one of the world’s most delicious drizzles to be enjoyed with pancakes, toast, waffles, ice creams, cocktails, in tea and even in salad dressings!

Articles referenced in this post are here and here

Photograph of Sultan was originally taken by Nurhan Atasoy.
Categories: Desserts, Foraging, Infusions, Local food, photography, Recipes, Sauces, Summer, Vegan | Tags: , , , , | 2 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: , , , , | 20 Comments

Blender Banana and Pecan Pancakes with Chocolate Sauce (Gluten-free)

Blender Banana and Pecan Pancakes (Gluten-free)

Blender Banana and Pecan Pancakes (Gluten-free)

There is only one pancake night so lets do it in style!!!!  Why is there only one pancake night actually?  I feel like we need at least a weekly or bi-weekly pancake night.  Pancakes are better than that.

So I felt like joining in on the pancake party but with a busy week ahead, I wasn’t going to have much time to play with pancakes.  I needed something super quick and tasty.  I know that a lot of you are avoiding or taking it easy on gluten and I wanted to give you a brilliant option.  I love making food accessible to all and no one will feel like they’re missing out with these pancakes.  Impossible!

They’ll make for a great breakfast or dessert any time of year, maybe add some berries or chopped fruit, a little dusting of cocoa…..

I like pecans any way they come......

What is it about pecans, maple syrup and pancakes?!

I’m going to have to write this quickly before I eat all of these!  I am actually multi-tasking here, typing with a mouthful of pancake.  It is possible after all!!  This recipes is hot out of the pan.  I always said that the precious time that I get out of the kitchen I would not spend in the kitchen (does that make sense!!) taking 56 pictures of a pile of pancakes.  Tonight…..I have. There is surely no better way to spend an evening.

This is easy.  Pop all the ingredients in a blender, blitz, fry and enjoy!  I love the way some talk about pancakes ‘behaving well’ in the pan!?  A well behaved pancake sounds so bland.  Make these small and you’ll have no problems at all flipping them and kids absolutely love a mini pancake (mini most things really).

THE GHOSTS OF PANCAKE DAY PAST

Pancakes have come a long way since my family launching them at the ceiling and redecorating the walls with flour and eggs.  It always seems a very messy night with loads of fuss for a little, thin thing that normally had the consistency of a supple frisbee.   It was always fun though and we laughed at our attempts and devastation.  Everyone had a go at flipping and it was always very exciting and quite nerve wracking as an 8 year old.  You always remembered your technique from last year, after four failed and mangled attempts!

One of my heroes...as an 8 year old. Banana Man!

Do you remember this man? One of my heroes…as an 8 year old. Banana Man!!!!

I still love the classic lemon and sugar crepe, but lets face it, we’ve all become a bit more Americanized with our pancake habits.  Hotcakes are big, light and fluffy (like some Americans I know) you eat two and feel like you’re about to explode.  Quite filling they are.  Sets you up for the day or an early return to bed!!!  Sleep off breakfast.

This is the later, light and fluffy, but without that heavy feeling.  We use gluten-free flour and the delights of banana paired with pecans.

SAUCY IDEAS

There are so many!  I had mine with a simple chocolate sauce (melted chocolate with a little coconut oil mixed in) or try warming peanut butter in a pan and stirring in some maple syrup, or tahini in the same way, in fact any nut butter is sensational warmed with some sweetness stirred in. Another option is warming the peanut butter, sweetening it and then stirring in a little coconut cream (the thick stuff in a tin of coconut milk).  Wow!  That is a sensation.

Something fruity, how about marmalade or cherry jam, warmed in a pan with a dash of whiskey or dark rum stirred in.  Why not toss some apples, dates and orange zest in a pan and warm them through.  Once the apple has broken down you have a lovely apple compote to use liberally on pancakes and more.

Although, having said all of that and being a purist in the department, just maple syrup is enough for me.

Recipe Note

Not everyone likes the full taste of buckwheat, I do.  These pancakes are awesome with just buckwheat flour.

I like these pancakes small, you can eat more of them and they are fresher when you do.  In a large frying pan you should be able to fry three at a time.  Use a spatula to flip them.  If you can flip three pancakes by tossing them in the air…..well done.

If you’ve no pecans, walnuts will be fine.  If you have no walnuts…cashews will do.

You can experiment with your favourite mix of gluten-free flour.  If you’re using normal flour, I’d mash up the banana, chop up the pecans and stir it all togther.  The blender may get the gluten going in the flour and you’ll be left with weird pancakes.

These pancakes are easy flippers, no messing about for you this pancake night.

These pancakes are easy flippers, no messing about for you this pancake night.

The Bits – 12 mini pancakes (serves 2)
2 ripe bananas
1/2 teas bicarb of soda
1 handful pecans
4 tbs white gluten-free flour mix
3 tbs buckwheat flour
150ml soya milk (or plant milk of choice)
1/2 teas vanilla extract
Pinch salt

Dark chocolate

Coconut oil

Do It

Make your sauce first.  Place a glass bowl over a pan of gently simmering water.  Add your chocolate and melt.  Stir in a little oil, the sauce will be shiny and super rich.  Its best serve warm.

In a blender, add all the pancake ingredients and blitz until all is combined.  There will be chunks of nuts left, that is cool.  You may need to get a spoon in there and mix things up, making sure all in smooth and batter-like.

Lightly oil a frying pan and warm on medium heat.  Add 2-3 tbs of mix per pancake.  Fry 2-3 minutes one side, flip and fry for 1-2 minutes on the other.  I normally reduce the heat of my pan as I go through the batches of pancakes.  It can get carried away.  Keep your eye on it.

Keep the pancakes warm in an oven, or wrap them in a clean kitchen cloth until you’re ready to serve.

Serve

Enjoy with your favourite sauce or topping.  You know the one……

Get them while they're hot!

Get them while they’re hot!

Foodie Fact

Pecans are so intensely brilliant in many ways.  They are packed with good fats and fatty acids, keeping your heart healthy.  They are full of fibre which helps our digestion out, anti-oxidants and they are powerhouses of minerals, helping things like our bones, skin and immune systems.  A handful of nuts a day, keeps the grim reaper at bay!

Categories: Breakfast, Desserts, gluten-free, Healthy Eating, Nutrition, Recipes, Vegan | Tags: , , , , , | 2 Comments

Cookbook Competition Winners & Happy Birthday Beach House Kitchen!!!

What a way to celebrate a birthday!  So many amazing recipes have hit our blog inbox over the past couple of weeks. Our minds are boggled now by sheer deliciousness…..!  Its been so hard to pick winners so we’ve changed the rules a little, we’re giving away two more books!!  You are all winners really and we will be cooking as many of your amazing recipes as possible.

Here are the lucky three who will be getting a copy of ‘Peace & Parsnips’ very soon (plus two we just had to include for being extra amazing…..):

Cucumber Rolls with Harissa Cream by Katharina

Winner!  Little Plate – Cucumber Rolls with Harissa Cream by Katharina

Little Plate – Cucumber Rolls with Harissa Cream
Katharina loves drawing, eating and cooking….sometimes all at the same time!!!  Instead of a taking a photo, Katharina sent in a painting.  We thing its wonderful!  Anybody this talented with a paintbrush is bound to be a hit in the kitchen!  We think these will look incredible, rolled into a beautiful rose and stuffed with a harissa cashew cream.  Woah!  The kick of the Harissa makes Katarina happy and we are sure this dish is going to make us smile.  This cream will also go well on bread, with salads or dip a falafel in.  YUM!
You need
1 cup cashews, soaked
3 tbs nooch, aka the nutritional yeast:)
2 tbs olive oil, extra virgin of course
3 tbs water or some more if needed
3 ts smoky paprika
1 ts jeera/ cumin
1 ts caraway seeds
1 ts coriander seeds
1 ts salt (Himalayan Rose)
to serve
1 long cucumber
iceberg salad or frillice
Blend cashews with water and  nutritional yeast and grind the spices in a pestle and mortar.  Add the spice mix to the cashew cream and give it a short final blend.
Slice cucumber lengthways with vegetable peeler into thin long strips. Spread the cream onto the strips and roll them into roses.

 

Big Plate Winner! Greek Butter Bean Pie by Laura

Winner! Big Plate Winner – Greek Butter Bean Pie by Laura

Big Plate – Greek Butter Bean Pie
We love the cooking style of the Med so much and Laura is such a talented cook and blogger.
“A hearty baked version of a Greek meze classic. This Butter Bean Pie is simple to make, full of delicious savoury flavour and packed with wholesome ingredients.”
You’ll find more delicious recipes like this on Laura’s blog ‘The Whole Ingredient’.
Serves: 2-4
Ingredients
  • 200g dried butter beans, soaked overnight (or 3 tins of pre-cooked butter beans)
  • 2 tsp olive oil
  • 1 white onion
  • 1 carrot
  • 2 celery stalks
  • 4-6 garlic cloves
  • 1 tin chopped tomatoes
  • 2 tbsp tomato purée
  • 1 tbsp lemon juice
  • 1 tbsp + 2 tsp dried oregano
  • 1 tsp cinnamon
  • Salt & pepper, to taste
  • 30g fresh dill
  • 200g fresh spinach
Method
  1. Heat the oven to 180°C / 350°F / Gas Mark 4.
  2. If you haven’t already pre-cooked the butter beans, put them on to boil in a large pan of water. Leave to simmer for 20-30 minutes – about the same time it takes to prepare the sauce.
  3. While the beans are cooking, make the sauce. Chop the onion, carrot and celery small, all to a similar size.
  4. Heat 1 tsp of olive oil in a large frying pan and add these to the pan.
  5. Cook for 5-10 minutes, or until the onion is translucent. Slice the garlic and add this to the pan, giving it all a good stir.
  6. Now stir in the chopped tomatoes, tomato purée, lemon juice, 1 tbsp of oregano, cinnamon, salt and pepper. Chop the dill (discarding any thick or tough stalks) and stir this in too.
  7. Leave the sauce to simmer for 10 minutes.
  8. While this is cooking, wilt the spinach in a separate pan until there is no water remaining from the leaves.
  9. You can now assemble the pie. Line the bottom of an oven dish or pie tin with the spinach. Drain the butter beans and stir these into the tomato sauce. Gently pour this over the spinach and level it out. Sprinkle on the rest of the oregano and olive oil.
  10. Cook on a middle shelf for 30 minutes.
Coconut Scones by Janice

Winner! Sweet Treat – Coconut Scones by Janice

Sweet Treat – Coconut Scones

Janice says: “The most delicious scones ever!” These are low in sugar but sweetened with the super healthy coconut.  A ingredient Janice and ourselves can’t get enough of. Janice recommends cutting these scones thick, as they should be (otherwise they’re biscuits) and enjoying them straight from the oven with plenty of coconut oil and home chia seed jam!  Sounds truly amazeballs!!!

Find plant-based delights and natural health magic over at Janice’s blog ‘Nourished by Nature’.

Ingredients

8oz/225g self raising flour, preferably organic

2 level teaspoons baking powder

1 ½ oz/40g caster sugar

4 oz /110g soya or sunflower spread

2 oz/55g desiccated coconut

3 or 4 tablespoons plant based milk

Method

1. Heat the oven to 220C/425F/ Gas 7 and lightly grease a baking sheet.

2. The easiest way to make these scones is to add all the dry ingredients to
a food processor and pulse for a few minutes, then add the milk a little at
a time until the mixture comes together,

3. If you don’t have a food processor then put the flour and baking powder into a large bowl. Using your fingertips rub the spread into the flour until it resembles breadcrumbs. Vegan spreads are really soft so run your hands under a cold tap before you start and work quickly to keep the mixture from clumping.

4. Stir in the sugar and coconut then add the milk gradually and mix with a
wooden spoon until the mixture comes together.

5. Turn out onto a floured work surface and pat into a round ¾ inch or 2 cm thick.

6. Cut out 10 scones, I use a heart shaped cookie cutter since I reckon
we could all do with more love in our lives!

7. Brush the tops of the scones with milk and liberally sprinkle coconut on
the top.

8. Bake in the oven for 12 to 15 minutes until well risen and nicely browned

EXTRA AMAZING SPECIAL MENTIONS:
Copies of ‘Peace & Parsnips’ will also be heading to Victoria and Amy who both sent in three course vegan banquets to make even the most hardy meat-eater drool!  Delicious!!  We’ve included a picture of some of the dishes below:
Stuffed Peppers

A couple of Victoria’s beautiful dishes. Stuffed Peppers with Cauliflower Rice.  We love cauliflower rice and everything tastes amazing when stuffed in a pepper;)

 

Baked Apples -

Stuffed Baked Apples with Cashew Vanilla Cream by Victoria.  Love the blackberries in this and the cashew cream sounds delicious!!!

Amy is 17!  What a rock n roll star!!!!  Amy is studying cooking at college and is interested and passionate about cooking all foods.  Amy loved trying out vegan food and it shows.  We especially like Amy’s specially printed menu.  Vegan<3

Amy cooked up a wonderful three course feast!

Amy cooked up a wonderful three course feast!  Can’t wait to try the chocolate brownie recipe and curries are always welcome in the BHK.

 

We loved Amy's specially printed menu. So cool:)

We loved Amy’s specially printed menu. So cool:)

We’d also like send big thanks to (recipes that we loved and will be cooking soon):

Sharon’s – Seaside Pasta with Samphire
Rebecca’s – Parsnip and Chickpea Loaf with Lemon and Thyme AKA Not Roast and Chocolate Tiffin
Cora’s – Unbaked Banana Bread Balls
V’s – Spiced Coconutty Butternut Squash Soup
Thank you so much to everyone who has taken part, we loved reading your emails and recipes, the response has really touched us.  You’ve made our 4th birthday party extra special.  Its been a real celebration of home cooked happiness!
Happy Cooking,
Lee & JaneX
Categories: competition, Desserts, Dinner, Healthy Eating, Peace and Parsnips, photography, Recipes, Vegan | Tags: , , , , , | 8 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

tablee_s0x500_q80_noupscale

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

Boozy Snowball Truffles

Boozy Christmas Snowflakes

Boozy Christmas Snowflakes – Vegan, sugar-free, healthy, all that jazz……

These snowflakes taste just like Christmas pudding but are waaaaaayyyyy easier and packed with natural sugars and gorgeous plant power!  When combined with our warm Cashew Brandy Sauce, this makes for the perfect Xmas sweet thang.

I always loved snowballs, normally chucking them at my sister. Also snowmen (or women) maybe one day we’ll make a boozy snow human! YUM!  We are visiting Jane’s Ma and Pa in sensational Stafford and it’s 14oC!  These sweeties will probably be as close as we get to snowflakes this year.

Here we have little explosions of tastiness, super rich and with a massive kick of brandy, chocolate and pecans to get you right into that festive cheer.  Everyone will LOVE them (guaranteed).  They can be made well in advance and keep nicely.

The warm sauce elevates these into the realms of dessert.  Quantity wise, have a play.  Thin out with water and add a touch of vanilla extract.  Make to your taste.  Its a little like custard but dare I say it…..even better (contentious behaviour there).  Having said that, custard would be lovely with these.

They are part of our lighter, nutritious, simple Christmas this year. These little snowflakes are easily made gluten-free, technically they are ‘sugar-free’ (refined that is) and are of course, full power plant-based, vegan happy.

MERRY CHRISTMAS Y”ALL!!!!!XXXxxxxxxxx

Festive sweet thangs....

Festive sweet thangs….

Recipe Notes
Use any combo of dried fruits, all welcome. We are not massive fans of that ‘dried mixed fruit’ stuff you can buy, they’re a little too dry.  We used whole dried fruits that are relatively inexpensive.

Not into the booze aspect. That’s very cool. Just up the juice quantity.

You don’t necessarily need a blender for this.  You can mash the fruit mix up with a potato masher. Jane’s Mum’s blender wasn’t doing it for us here, so we mashed it up.

The Bits - Maple syrup, soaked boozy fruit and pecans.  Woooah!

The Bits – Maple syrup, soaked boozy fruit and pecans. Woooah!

The Bits – Makes 15 little snowflakes
1 handful of each, dried apricot, dried pear/ apple, dried dates, dried figs (all roughly chopped)
2 handfuls raisins
4 tbs brandy
3 tbs apple juice or orange juice
1 orange (zest)
1 1/2 inch fresh ginger (finely grated)
1 teas ground cinnamon
2 teas mixed spice
1/4 teas ground cloves
2 teas vanilla extract

4 handfuls oats
4 handfuls pecans (broken up with hands)

125g dark vegan chocolate

2-3 tbs maple syrup (optional)

Snow
2 handfuls desiccated or grated fresh coconut

Cashew Brandy Sauce (varies depending on numbers)

Cashew butter

Maple Syrup

Brandy

Vanilla extract

 

Do It
Soak the dried fruit, spices, vanilla and orange zest for at least two hours in the brandy and juice. Longer is better.

Melt the chocolate in a glass bowl above gently simmering water. Leave to cool for 15 minutes.

In a food processor/ blender, add the oats and blitz until they resemble a coarse flour. Add the dried fruit mix and pulse until the mix is broken down but still chunky.

Scrape out into a large bowl, add the chocolate and pecans. Combine well with a trusty wooden spoon/ spatula.  Taste and stir in maple syrup if you’d like it sweeter.

Scatter the coconut over a plate and with slighty wet hands (prevents too much sticking) grab a squash ball sized lump of the mix and roll between your hands into nice even balls.

Place in the coconut and roll gently. Now pop them onto your display plate.

These snowflakes will keep well in a sealed container, but look best when freshly rolled.

For an extra special dessert, gently warm up enough cashew butter in a small saucepan and add maple syrup, vanilla extract and brandy until you love it!  One tablespoon at a time is best.  Thin with a touch of water or soya milk if needed.

Just like Christmas pudding, but wee.

Just like Christmas pudding, but wee.

Serve

Spoon your sauce onto a plate and pop two or three snowflakes on top.  They are also amazing as they are.

Foodie Fact

A word on ‘sugarfree’-ness.  Not all sugar is the same!  Sugar in dried fruits like these are in a natural solution of all kinds of things; anti-oxidants, minerals, micro-nutrients most of which are beneficial to the body and really help out the immune system.  Dried fruit is packed with goodness and the ideal winter snack and fruit sugar should not be lumbered in there with refined, cane, beet, corn sugars etc.  Fruit sugars (not loads of course) are way cool with us.

PS – Dried fruit is also very high in fibre, which is an all-time superhero for our bodies.

Categories: Desserts, Recipes, Vegan | Tags: , , , , , , , , , | 7 Comments

Krishna’s Chocolate & Peanut Ice Cream (Sugar free) – A gift from Solitude Farm

Peanut & Chocolate Ice Cream (Vegan & Sugar-free)

Peanut & Chocolate Ice Cream (Vegan & Sugar-free)

100% sugar free ice cream!  Yowzah!

I love Christmas for many reasons, it gets me thinking about all the shining, beautiful people I’ve met all around the world.  I sometimes wonder how they will be spending Christmas or are they celebrating at all.  In many cultures its just another day.  I have spent Christmas in Cambodia and that was blast!  I hung out with some tuk tuk drivers and we sang and played guitar until the sun made us have breakfast.  There is no such thing as a normal Christmas in my eyes and I like ice cream.  So I’m having ice cream this Christmas day.  What about you?

Here’s a purely vegan, super creamy and rich chocolate ice cream recipe all the way from Krishna and the gang at Solitude Farm & Organic Kitchen, Tamil Nadu, India.  I know if Krishna recommends it, it will be a tasty treat!  I have made ice creams in his kitchen; always vegan, always sugar free, always amazing!  Its a magical thing to be re-creating it back in the BHK, Wales.  A real Christmas treat!

I have played with the recipe just a tad, added some festive flava with the cinnamon, generally making it more Western friendly.  We are not so used to grinding our own peanuts or cacao beans and probably don’t have access to the delights of Basil Seeds!

If you like this recipe, there is a similar Chocolate & Maple Ice Cream recipe in Peace & Parsnips.  Its the type of thing you try and get the technique under your belt and then BOOM!  You’re off on a massive ice cream making odyssey and the random, bizarre and truly awe-inspiring thing is…….its healthy!  Good healthy.  Happy healthy.  Vibrant healthy.

Check out more from Krishna here, they have an amazing project going on PEOPLEFOODMUSIC at the minute to raise awareness about local food and sustainable farming practices, in fact its a multi-faceted thing of wonder and positivity, best checking it out below.

CONTRIBUTE, LEARN AND BE HAPPY:)

We’re going to be making gallons of this ice cream over the festive window.  I’ll be adding raisins and maybe dried cherries instead of dates (soaking them in a little brandy no doubt!) and some ground ginger.  Taking in the direction of a Christmas Pudding Ice Cream.  Finished with some ginger biscuits……YUM!  I’ll let you know how it goes.

The Bits – Makes 1 big tubful

90g cacao powder (or cocoa powder)

10 frozen bananas

3 tbs chunky peanut butter (or other nut butter)

1 tin coconut milk

1 tbs ground cinnamon

3 big handfuls dates (soaked in water for 2 hours to soften, add more if you have a sweet tooth)

1 tbs Basil seeds (Sabja) – optional

Brown Rice Syrup (sweetener of choice) – optional

Do It

Soak basil seeds in water (if ya got ’em!)

In a food processor, add the bananas, 1/2 the coco milk, peanut butter…..in fact, pop it all in there.  Press the blitz button, scrape the fp down and start again, repeat until its nice and smooooooooth.  Drizzle in the coco milk whilst blending until you get a good, thick texture.

Taste the ice cream and get the flavour just how you love it.  We are not that sweet of the tooth (well Jane is a little).  Sweeten as desired.

Freeze for around 2-3 hours, until its just frozen and then blend it again.  This may take slightly defrosting it first, and blitzing in the trusty fp or blender.  Put back into the freezer and it’s now ready and waiting to be enjoyed!

Foodie Fact

Cacao is one of the healthiest things that will touch your lips.  It is different from cocoa in the fact that it has not been processed, maintaining its amazing nutritional properties.

Cooking at Solitude Farm, India

Cooking at Solitude Farm, India — Old school style, wood fires in a hut

Lunch is legendary at Solitude - celebrating the produce from the farm

Lunch is legendary at Solitude – celebrating the fresh and organic produce from the farm

 

Categories: Desserts, Healthy Eating, Recipes, Summer, Superfoods, Travel, Vegan | Tags: , , , , , | 3 Comments

Windfall Apple and Oat Crumble – Simple Autumn Classic

Windfall Apple and Oat Crumble

Windfall Apple and Oat Crumble

So the leaves are all turning burnt gold, auburn, crimson and the morning are crisp with deep powder blue skies.  I love this time of year, wandering through dried leaves, staring into fires, wrapping up, rediscovering the delights of sloe gin and big, bombastic bakes!

Desserts or otherwise, its time to wake the oven up,  it tends to be underused in the summer months and dust off our oven dishes.  Autumn and winter mean we need warm hugs and serious sustenance in our bowls/ plates.  It’s something of a survival mechanism and certainly leads to oodles of well-being.  Cosy soul food!

Nothing says autumn more than the first crumble of the year.  Your body knows what’s coming, the dark and windy time when we crave large plates of stodgy happiness to warm our wintery bones.  We are enjoying a beautiful September up here on Tiger Mountain, but the  nights are getting a bit chilly and crumble is the perfect antidote.  Easing us into this time of year in the tastiest of ways.

Crumble’s beauty lie in their simplicity and the way they gobble up our autumn fruity abundance.  This recipe is beautifully basic and can be taken in so many directions with addition of other fruits (think blackberries, damsons, mulberries, dried fruits etc) or flavourings (like elderflower, orange blossom, I’ve even tried a tahini and apple crumble which was a treat).  Adding chocolate to a crumble has been tried and works like a dream.  This recipe is a lovely foundation to add to as you see fit.

ORCHARD DREAMS

We are setting out a little orchard in the garden.  The trees are young (bar our ancient looking plum tree and windswept crab apple) and normally offer scant fruit.  My Snowdonia Pear Tree, a juvenile, was unceremoniously beheaded by a storm recently.  Its tough going for saplings in these parts!  Our little Bardsey Apple tree however is a rugged super star, branches laden every year with tart and juicy, vivid green apples.  Not such great eaters (too much of a twang) but perfect when cooked.  These apples were actually all windfall, saved from the fate of an army of slugs that camp out and descend like slimy vultures on any fruit that hits the deck.

Windfall Bardsey apples in the garden

Windfall Bardsey Apples in the garden

APPLE ABUNDANCE

What to do with all those apples?  If your, family members, neighbours, avid scrumpers know of an apple tree, I’m sure you’re asking yourself the same thing.  Here are few little ideas for all those surplus apples:

  • Make a Tart Tatin (see below)
  • Cook into apple sauce and use on desserts and breakfast bowls.  Apple sauce is also wonderful in baking, it helps to bind cakes etc together.
  • Make your own Apple Cider Vinegar or Apple and Mint Vinegar
  • Make Apple Vodka, Whiskey or Gin by steeping the apples in alcohol.
  • Try a Apple and Ginger Smoothie or Apple and Kale Juice
  • Add slices to pancakes and bread (works brilliantly with rye or spelt flours)
  • They make a great Raita
  • Chop them up and mix them into your muesli/ granola/ sprouted grains etc for breakfast.
  • Make Apple and Plum Chutney
  • Make Beetroot and Apple Sauerkraut or add to your favourite Kimchi recipe (there’s a nice one in Peace and Parsnips
  • Add them to stews, salads or soups
  • Spread them out somewhere, preferably on cardboard and keep them for as long as possible.  Crunch and yum!
  • Make cider.
Discovery Apple and Apricot Tart Tatin

Discovery Apple and Apricot Tart Tatin

ALL APPLES ARE NOT CREATED EQUAL

When cooking with apples its worth tasting one first.  They can be so varied and this is what I love about them.  They are surely one of the finest things we grow in the UK and our traditional varieties offer up a fascinating and varied palate of flavours and textures to play with in the kitchen; some are flowery in texture and sweet, some crisp and tangy, we just need to find them the right home.  I have to say that the best way to eat a good apple is to give it a little polish on our trousers or jumper (why do we do that?) and crunch into it.  I like to eat the core and seeds as well.

Making this pud into a pure plant-based pleasure is a cinch, you’re really just substituting the butter in the traditional crumble with oil and some flax seeds, which offer a lovely nutty flavour and help to give the crumble a little bite and oodles of nutrition.  I am also not great at using large scoops of sugar, I need gentle persuasion.  You can probably make this with other sweeteners, but for once in the BHK, we’re going (almost) traditional.

Crumble is oh so simple but surprisingly many are still not great.  Being too sweet or having a dry, floury crumble are two cardinal sins of crumble-hood.  I like a nutty, crisp crumble.  This is why crumble is always enjoyed best straight out of the oven.  The longer its left, the more time for the crumble to loose its magic crunch.  I like to add nuts and flax seeds to add even more flavour and bite.  To avoid just a mouthful of floury sweetness, I like oats bound with a little flour.  Simple pleasures are always the best!

So grab a fireplace, a large spoon and a nice crisp autumn night and enjoy this true British classic.

Recipe Notes

You can use buckwheat flour and gluten free oats to side step gluten here.  I love the flavour of buckwheat; its fuller and deeper than wholemeal.

The amount of sugar you will need depends on your apples.  Ours are very sharp, so we went for 90g.  Jane has a sweet tooth (see above) and was very pleased with the sweetness level with that amount.

Crumble is amazingly adaptable, make it well in advance or make a large batch of apple sauce and use for other purposes (see above).  Crumbles also freeze brilliantly.

I don’t like going ott with cinnamon, I just like it somewhere in the background.  Not a main player in a crumble.  Add more if your a spicy crumbler.

Enough frivolity, lets crumble!!!!!!

The Bits

Apples

950g apples

60-100g light brown sugar (unrefined)

3 tbs water

1/2 – 1 teas cinnamon

 

Crumble

100g oats

20g flax seeds (ground)

75g mixed nuts (roughly chopped)

30g light brown sugar (unrefined)

70ml rapeseed/ olive oil

1 teas cinnamon

20g buckwheat/ wholemeal flour

 

Do It

In a saucepan, add all of the ingredients for the apples.  Bring to a gentle boil and cook for 20 mins with a lid on or until the apples are tender and just falling apart.

Mix all of the crumble ingredients together in a bowl.  Preheat oven to 200oC.

In a baking dish (approx 10″ by 8″), spoon in the apple sauce and sprinkle over the crumble mix until there is a nice thick layer.

Place in the oven and bake for 30 minutes, until the crumble is a dark golden colour and the apple sauce is bubbling away.

Before.....

Beginning…..

Middle......

Middle……

End!

End!

The Prequel (?)  - Windfall Apple and Oat Crumble with lashings of custard

The Prequel (?) – Windfall Apple and Oat Crumble with lashings of custard

Serve

We had ours with custard.  Mainly because we don’t have any ice cream in the freezer.  If we had ice cream, I am sure there would have been a long debate about which way to go.  Which way do you go?  The timeless question.  I think it depends on how the stars are aligned (or something).  PS – It must be vanilla ice cream.  Of course.  Anything else would be utterly ridiculous.

Beach walking off all that crumble - Dinas Dinlle, near Anglesey

Beach walking off all that crumble – Dinas Dinlle, near Anglesey

Foodie Fact

Crumble is food of the Gods and makes you happy:)

Dinas Dinlle Beach

Dinas Dinlle Beach

rsz_p1240351

Happy Autumn to you all!!!!!!!!!!!!

 

Categories: Desserts, Foraging, gluten-free, Recipes, Vegan, Wales | Tags: , , , , , , , | 7 Comments

Nutty Apricot and Sesame Energy Balls plus the benefits of soaking nuts and seeds

Nutty Apricot and Sesame Energy Balls

Nutty Apricot and Sesame Energy Balls

I love these little energetic things. The perfect way of cramming loads of nutrition and energy into the smallest possible area. These little balls are packed with protein power and full-on flavour and are highly portable! They went down a treat yesterday, I had to share them with you.

Nuts and dried fruits are nutritional power houses and contain vast amounts of good stuff; sugars and fats. The last two should of course be enjoyed in moderation and these little balls are perfectly portion controlled. Unless you make them the size of a cricket ball ( I prefer more of a squash ball size and smaller) then you’ll be getting the optimum levels of everything you need from a revitalising, healthy between meal booster.

PLAY BALL!
I have kept these very simple and natural. No added flavours, just the nuts, seeds and fruit. I like to use seeds primarily because they taste amazing, but they are also less expensive and work just as well as nuts. I used a good mixture of nuts, but you can mix and match with whatever you have handy. Nuts like walnuts, cashews and almonds blend smooth, it is more tough to get a Brazil nut to play ball! This is great when mixed with other nuts, adds a crunchy texture. The same can be said for sunflower seeds, once soaked they blend up nicely, unlike pumpkin seeds which take a little more blitzing action. If you have a high powered blender, non of this really applies, as they will take care of anything you put into them. They’d quite happily blend a bean tin I’m sure (this is an untested theory).

BENEFITS OF SOAKING YOUR NUTS
I mention nut soaking quite a lot in Peace & Parsnips, I think its important to know about and can really accentuate the flavour, texture and nutritional properties of nuts and seeds. It takes a little forward planning but is very much worth it. Nutrients are tucked away in our food and in some occasions, are missed by our bodies. They are not available to the body, so we miss out on all the goodness. This is known as the ‘bio-availability’ of nutrients and soaking nuts in water before using them opens up the nutrients to be absorbed by the body. They have known this for thousands of years in India and soaked almonds are promoted within the Ayurvedic diet for a number of health boosting reasons.

Soaking nuts in water, preferably overnight, inhibits the potentially harmful effects of enzymes inhibitors, tannins and toxins in nuts.  Nature doesn’t want seeds and nuts to germinate until the right conditions are present, by soaking nuts and seeds we are creating these conditions.  They literally come to life!  Enzymes are essential to good health, just as important as minerals and vitamins.  Soaking releases more beneficial enzymes that our bodies love.  Most nuts also taste better after they have been soaked, they plump up nicely and become crisp.  We normally soak to order, but you can soak in bulk.  This just means that your nuts need to be dried out a little.  You can do this in a dehydrator or in a low oven.  The nuts can then be stored in a air tight container and used on cereals and salads.

TOP FIVE REASONS TO SOAK NUTS, SEEDS (AND LEGUMES)

1 – Increase the amount of vitamins, especially B vitamins

2 – Produce greater levels of beneficial enzymes

3 – To make digestion easier

4 – Allows easier absorption of protein

5 – To limit enzyme inhibitors, tannins and potentially harmful toxins

We soak nuts in warm water and some people add a little salt.  Cover the nuts and leave them overnight, between 7 – 24 hours is best.  That’s it!

REASONS TO LOVE TAHINI (AND SESAME SEEDS)

Tahini is a paste made from ground sesame seeds and is one of our favourite ingredients.  A wonderful source of vegan creaminess that creeps into dressings, sauces, stews/ curry’s or mixed with jam/ molasses/ maple syrup and lathered on toast and crackers.  Tahini normally comes in light and dark varieties, dark has a much more toasted, full flavour.  Its not only the delicious aspects of tahini that are attractive, nutritionally its a proper superstar, its is actually one of the best sources of calcium found in nature and also keeps your skin vibrant and muscles toned.  It contains 20% protein which is higher than most nuts and is high in very good fats of the unsaturated variety.   See our Foodie Fact below for more nutritional bits and pieces.

Feel free to sweeten them as you see fit (taste the mix before rolling up) but I think they are mighty fine with just the apricots.  Good dried apricots will not be bright orange.  Try and get some un-sulphured apricots, they are out there and well worth the effort and slightly higher expense.  Hunza apricots especially (from Afghanistan) are really interesting.  If you are living in an area where loads of apricots grow, you could dry your own and even use the kernels instead of nuts or seeds.  Apricot kernels are delicious and becoming quite popular in the UK.

We love to play around with combinations of nuts, seeds and flavourings. The possibilities are huge and its much more satisfying and cheaper to make these at home. The main thing is having a dried fruit to bind everything together, normally soaked so that they break down nicely into a sticky paste. Then add nuts and seeds to the equation, any type that takes your fancy and flavour with things like citrus zest, cocoa/ cacao, rose water, orange blossom water, vanilla extract, pomegranate molasses, spices……etc.  Energy balls are a medium for a healthy snack charged with all the nutrition we need when leading an active and healthy life.

Nice sticky mix

Nice sticky mix

The Bits – For 12-15 energy balls

300g mixed nuts and seeds (soaked in water for at least 7 hours beforehand.  I used cashew, walnuts, brazils and sunflower seeds)

150g dried apricots (soaked in water for at least 1 hour before hand)

4 tbs toasted sesame seeds

2-3 tbs light tahini

2-4 tbs sweetener (maple syrup, brown rice syrup etc)

Do It

Drain your nuts and place in your blender/ food processor.  Blend them for a minute of so, scraping down the sides of the blender a few times.  Add the drained apricots and continue to blend until a chunky paste is formed.  You can keep the apricot soaking water, its lovely and sweet.  The mix should be sticky, you will be able to form small balls with  it between our fingers.  Stir in the tahini and sweetener (if using).

Pour the sesame seeds onto a plate and spread out.  With damp hands (stops the balls sticking to your fingers) take a roughly squash ball sized amount of mix (3-4 tbsp) and roll in your palms into a ball.  Pop it onto the plate and roll in the sesame seeds.  Apply a little pressure when doing this to make them stick.  Place the finished ball onto a serving plate.  Repeat until all the mix is used up.

These energy balls will firm up in the fridge and keep well in a plastic container out of the fridge.   Of course, they will not be lasting that long…..!

Serve

These type of energy balls are designed to be portable and travel perfectly.  They are especially good sustenance when exercising, down the gym or hiking.  They are a boost anytime and sometimes I like to nibble one before a busy day in the kitchen.  Intensely nutritious and easy to roll.

Chocolate and Coconut Energy Balls

Chocolate and Coconut Energy Balls – a simple variation with walnuts, sunflower seeds, cacao, coconut and vanilla extract

Foodie Fact

Tahini is a great friend of the BHK.  Very high in many vitamin B’s and vitamin E.  It also contains lot of minerals like iron and potassium and contains chemicals that help our liver detox.  Tahini is alkaline which makes it easy to digest and helps with weight loss.  As mentioned above it is very high in protein and even higher in calcium.  Try a scoop of tahini in the morning instead of dairy products and you are covering yourself for calcium and a healthy raft of other things.

—————–

Have you met Cosmos yet? He’s our new garden cat.  You may remember our dear Buster who has moved on…….where to we are not sure>  Cosmos is a character and it’s good to have him hanging out, lying down and occasionally purring.  Cats are great teachers in so many ways.

Cosmos - The new cat on the scene

Cosmos – The new cat on the scene

Categories: Desserts, gluten-free, Healthy Eating, Nutrition, Recipes, Vegan | Tags: , , , , , , , | 7 Comments

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