Desserts

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: , , , , , , , | 9 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

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

Raw-cheesecake-

Raw Blueberry and Macadamia Cheesecake taken from Peace and Parsnips

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

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

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

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

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

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

The Bits – For 8 slices For the crust

300g raw macadamia nuts

A handful of pumpkin seeds

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

20g freshly grated coconut (desiccated is fine)

For the filling

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

120ml lemon juice

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

180ml coconut oil

A large pinch of sea salt

1 teaspoon vanilla extract

120ml water

For the sauce

400g blueberries

45g dates (soaked for 1 hour), pitted

Do It

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

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

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

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

Gooey Choco Nut Cookies (Gluten Free and Vegan)

 

Choco Nut Cookies (Gluten free)

 

Here’s my best attempt yet at gluten free cookies.  There are many gluten free folk attending retreats at Trigonos (where I cook).  The people attending last weeks mindfulness course loved these cookies and to be honest, there was very little difference in texture between the normal cookies that I made. Chewy and gooey in the middle, with plenty of chunks of melted chocolate.  Quite a treat!

I use trail mix in these cookies, but you can substitute any dried fruits and nuts you like.  Xantham gum is something that most gluten free cooks will have around, it really helps to bind GF baked goods together. I don’t normally use it in the BHK, as it is like gluten in being hard to digest.  The difference in texture though is pronounced.  I never thought I’d say this, but Xantham has changed the way I cookie!

Simple, crispy, gooey (gluten free) cookies, we salute you!!!

Based on the recipe ‘Brazil Nut and Chocolate Spelt Cookies’ taken from ‘Peace and Parsnips’.  I made these cookies for Steve Wright on BBC2 Radio and he loved ’em!  Hear my full interview with Steve here.

Brazil Nut and Chocolate Spelt Cookies (from Peace and Parsnips)

Brazil Nut and Chocolate Spelt Cookies (Original recipe from Peace and Parsnips)

The Bits – Makes 8 cookies

Dry

1oog gluten free white flour mix (Doves Farm do a good one)

30g brown rice flour

1/2 teas ground cinnamon

100g unrefined brown sugar

1/2 teas bicarb of soda

3/4 teas baking powder

Large pinch salt

2/3 teas xantham gum

 

Wet

90ml vegetable  oil

1/2 teas vanilla extract

30ml water (splash more if needed)

 

1 big handful vegan dark chocolate (roughly chopped into chunks)

1 big handful of trail mix (or mixed dried fruits and nuts of your choice)

 

Do It

Preheat an oven to 180oc/ Gas Mark 4.

Sift all the dry bits into a large bowl.  Mix all the wet together in a measuring jug, make a well in the centre of the dry bits and pour in the wet, stirring as you go.  Mix in the chocolate and trail mix.  Things should come together, but still be a touch powdery (nothing like a cake mix for example).  Add a splash more water if needed to bind things together.

Make small balls, smaller than a squash ball, in your hands.  Press in some of the goodies (choc and nut) and place on a lightly oiled baking tray.  Press them down a little with your fingers to form a fat disc, they’ll expand in the oven, bear this in mind when spacing them out.  Leave a 5cm gap around each cookie.

Pop in the oven and bake for 11-13 minutes.  Ovens vary, if its a fan oven, check after 11, otherwise 13 minutes is good.  A little overbaking will make them crispier, but I like them gooey in the middle.  Remember, cookies are done when they have a crisp coat around them, they will be soft, but firm up on the cooling rack.

Leave the cookies to cool on the tray for a couple of minutes and them transfer carefully to a wire cooling rack.  Eat as soon as cool enough to scoff!

Serve 

Have you ever made a cookie ice cream sandwich?  Go for it, especially when they’re hot.  Place on cookie into a bowl, spoon over some ice cream and place the other cookie on top.  WOW!

Foodie Fact

Eating small quantities of dark chocolate daily can help the heart, assisting blood flow.  It also contains several compounds that make you feel good, even the chemical that is released when we fall in love!  Flavanoids are also present that help to regulate blood sugar and it is packed with anti oxidants.  These are just a scattering of the incredible benefits of our favourite sweet nibble.

Working on the land yesterday at Trigonos.  Planting some Crown Prince Squash, one of my favourite varities.

Working on the land yesterday at Trigonos. Planting some Crown Prince Squash, one of my favourite varities.

 

Categories: Baking, Desserts, gluten-free, photography, Recipes, Snacks and Inbetweens | Tags: , , , , , | 6 Comments

Quick Blackberry and Rowan Jelly Tart

 

Quick Blackberry and Rowan Tart

Quick Blackberry and Rowan Tart

Following on from the ‘Simple Blackberry Compote‘, we take the next reasonably logical step, the ‘Quick Blackberry Tart’.  The Beach House is beginning to resemble mound of blackberries at the minute, our garden and the neighbouring horse fields are a sea of green with many purple patches.  Forgive us for our bramble based indulgence, but they’re so tasty.  It seems that horse muck is the ideal breeding ground for giant blackberries, although horse manure seems to benefit all plant life, our tomatoes definitely appreciate it.  Even though our neighbouring horses are a little wild and aloof, we thank them for producing their fertile goods.

As with the compote, cooking rarely gets easier than this.  Three ingredients and minimal fuss make this the perfect last minute/ lazy moment dessert.  It is of course, greater than the sum of its parts and is one of those recipes that punches well above its weight (not sure if that analogy is particularly Beach House-ified!)  I use frozen puff pastry for very obvious reasons, any brave soul who attempts to make their own puff pastry cannot be described as ‘lazy’ in anyway.  Its quite a labour intensive process involving advanced folding and rolling techniques.  I have made a type of parantha that is similar, but a parantha is a very forgiving format (like a fat flaky chappati).  Puff pastry is something we have in the freezer and use when our folsk visit, they all seem to love a bit of crumbly dough.  Dad is here at the minute and he approved of this tart, eating the leftovers for lunch which is not a bad sign.

The rowan jelly has been kicking around our fridge for a while and this tart is the perfect home for it.  We have plenty of rowan berries and elderberries loitering around the Beach House and we are planning on a mass harvest very soon.  Hopefully next year we’ll have homemade rowan berry jams to sample and probably whack in a cake/ tart.

There are so many differing ways that you can take this tart.  The astringent rowan here works well with the sweet blackberries, our berries were very sweet and you may like to add a little more sweet jam/ jelly if you have a batch of more tart fruits.  Once you’ve made the base, you choose the toppings.  Something like a pizza desert.  This recipe is simply what was to hand, seasonal and looking good. We’ve had it with apples and marmalade, strawberries and cashew cream, plums and star anise, pear and cinnamon, banana and custard……the list goes on.  All of them simple and very quick to get together.

The pastry base is best blind baked, depending on the tart filling, the pastry may seem ever so slightly soggy in the very middle.  It is cooked and is just a result of the liquid wetting the pastry and having something like a steaming effect.  Think a Chinese dumpling as opposed to a pasty (like a Jamaican Pattie).  The combination of soft middle and flaky outside only adds to the textural fun.

The Beach House Potato Patch (looking a little sorry for itself after a serious blight infestation, theres always next year!)

The Beach House Potato Patch (looking a little sorry for itself after a serious blight infestation, theres always next year!)

The Bits – For 4

250g block of puff pastry (frozen is much easier)

6 big handfuls of blackberries (or as needed)

4 tbs rowan jelly (or other fruit jam)

 

1-2 teas vegetable oil

 

Do It

On a lightly oiled surface, using a rolling pin, roll out your pastry in a roughly rectangular shape.  Flipping it over a few times, whilst rolling, giving the  pastry a good even thickness and light coating of oil.

Place on a baking parchment and give it another few rolls.  Score a 1 inch border around the edge of the pastry by running the tip of a knife around.  Cut roughly 1/2 way through the pastry with a sharp knife.  Poke the base (not the border) a few times with a fork, this will lessen the rising.

Preheat an oven to 180oC and when warm, pop in the tart base bake for 12 minutes.  Until lightly golden and well risen.   Press the base of the tart down, leaving the border slightly raised.  Spoon in and spread the jelly/ jam and scatter over a good layer of berries, packing them in tightly.  Place back in the oven and bake for a further 15-20 minutes, until the border is dark and golden and the fruit is soft.  Leave to cool for 10 minutes and serve warm.  You know your oven, if its not a boss fan oven, then flip the tart around halfway through cooking to balance the bake.

The tart fresh out of the oven

The tart fresh out of the oven

Serve

Dad is here, we had custard!!!  There is hardly any difference between normal custard and vegan custard, try making custard with almond milk, its extra yum!

Jane and Dad getting stuck in!

Jane and Dad getting stuck in!

Foodie Fact

Rowan berries grow all over the UK and can be seen a mile off due to their vivid red colour.  These berries have long been regarded as fantastic for health; they boost the immune system, help the digestive system, prevent certain cancers and reduce bacteria infections.   They also make a very tasty jam.

These little red suckers are packed full of vitamin C and fibre and also contain a very powerful blend of antioxidants (aka disease fighters).

Do not eat rowan berries without cooking or freezing them for a decent period of time, they are quite toxic.  They contain what is called parasorbic acid, which is no good, but when heated or frozen this acid transforms into sorbic acid, which the body loves.  Rowan berries are technically a ‘superfood’ that lives on our doorstep.  They can also make for a potent and eye popping liqueur!  (Isn’t that what they call the best of both worlds!!!?)

Rowan berries are one of the many hedgrerow goodies that seem to be overlooked.  I don’t think it will be long until many more folk are out there at this time of year, harvesting the bounty of fruits and leaves that are springing out of our hedgrerows, many boasting fabulous health giving properties and a diversity of flavours and textures.

Categories: Baking, Desserts, Recipes, Vegan | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , | 5 Comments

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

8 REASONS TO LOVE STRAWBERRIES (EVEN MORE)

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

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

–  Member of the rose family (how romantic!)

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

–  Full of manganese=great for bones and growth.

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

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

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

Beauty Strawbssss!

Beauty Strawbssss!

CLEANING YOUR FRUIT AND VEG

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

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

Makes one large tart, enough for six slices.

The Bits

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

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

Fresh from the freezer

Fresh from the freezer

Do It

Easy as pie (cake)!

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

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

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

Strawberry Tofu Ice Cream Cake

Strawberry Tofu Ice Cream Cake

Serve

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

We Love It!

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

Foodie Fact

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

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

Sweet Thai Mango, Basil & Coconut Rice

p1190867

Thai Mango and Coconut Forbidden Purple Rice with Basil (Vegan)…..quite a mouthful this wonder dessert, in more than just the name!

If you love this magical dessert, you have been to Thailand and probably savoured it in a hectic street scene with a plastic spoon and big smile on your face.  It’s one of those experiences that etches itself on your memory, your first taste of sticky coconut rice is not easily forgotten.

The very mention of this desert and I’m weak at the knee; one foot in dessert heaven, its full of unspeakably good sweet stuff and awesome flavour combos. As you may gather, I quite like this dish, it’s up there with my top desserts of all time (ever) in the world.

I’m not a huge dessert fella, but sweet coconut rice topped with mango is something I’d swim to Thailand to try again.  Jane brought it all the way to the Beach House and it was a very pleasant surprise.

Jane made this ‘Forbidden Rice’ for one of our date nights (in). We are some of the luckiest folks you’ll ever meet and get much good luck/ news/ people crossing our paths and we felt like celebrating it all. I opened something fizzy and Jane disappeared into the bowels of the Beach House Kitchen to work her culinary magic spatulas, and what a feast we had. The Corn and Coconut Korma (recipe coming soon) was something to write home about (even though we were already home) but the dessert…………..I do a lot of the cooking in the B.H.K. and I also work in a kitchen for my sins, so to have a dinner presented to you with such care is a recipe for a magic night.

Purple rice (sometimes called black rice) was deemed so special, fragrant and nutty, it was only served to emperors in ancient China, hence the ‘forbidden’ moniker.  It was also popular in the fascinating Indian region of Manipur, where it is still served on very special occasions to much fanfare.  It is believed that all of the strains of this rice lead back to the Manipur region.  It is a glutinous rice and is grown in many different countries now, it is exceptionally nutritious (see the Foodie Fact) and has a distinct, full flavour.  This rice also makes for a very funky porridge.

The only problem is getting hold of the stuff, the real deal is hard to find.  Jane picked some up in Glastonbury, which is the heart of all things obscure and nutritious foodstuffs within the UK.  I imagine if you live in certain pockets of California it grows on trees there!  But generally, it may take a while to track down.  Our advise, persevere and bring this dessert into your life.   Of you can’t get black, go white jasmine instead.

This is an easy dessert to make and is perfect for when you fancy adding something a little exotic to proceedings; mango and coconut are a legendary pair and the coconut pouring sauce, quite literally, tops it off.

We had some pouring sauce left over and its been making cheeky appearances on all sorts of things, mainly bowls of muesli.

You may like to add a little jasmine thai rice to the mix, it turns a wonderful purple colour when combined with the purple/black rice.

A word on coconut milk: there is some real rubbish out there.  We have managed to find a little sustainable Sri Lankan project that makes the finest coco milk, it cannot be compared with the stuff you’ll find clogging most supermarket shelves.

MORE BEACH HOUSE DESSERTS TO TICKLE YOUR FANCY:

Raw Coconut Lime Cheesecake

Moist Almond and Olive Cake

Raw Chocolate Brownies

Raw Strawberry Tartlets

Sweet Coconuts and Happy Days to you allXXXXX

 

————-

Sweet Thai Mango, Basil & Coconut Rice (Gluten-free, vegan)

Makes enough for two very lucky folk

The Bits – For 2

1/2 cup black rice (or any rice you prefer really)

1 big handful of jasmine rice

1 can sustainable coconut milk

1/2 cup sugar (we used unrefined brown)

1/2 teas sea salt

1 ripe/ fragrant mango

 

Garnish

2 tbs toasted dried coconut (desiccated coconut will do)

Several leaves of basil (we forgot the first one, but it would be amazing)

 

Do It

Soak black rice for four hours or overnight to get nice and tender.

Cook all rice in a saucepan, cover with plenty of water and bring to a boil, simmer for 30 – 40 minutes or until tender but still with a little bite.  Drain, keep warm.

Pour coco milk (make sure you get all the cream from the bottom of the can), sugar and salt into saucepan and bring to boil, simmer for 5 minutes, stirring almost constantly.  Reserve a cup for pouring at this stage.

Add your rice to the saucepan, heat again gently to a boil, then simmer for 10 mins until it thickens.  Check sweetness.

Cut mangoes, this can be quite a fiddle, so heres a little example of how its best done by Peggy Trowbridge Filippone (we loved the name).   This will give you cubes, for the thin slices, just take off the skin at  the cubing stage and slice thinly.  Any questions, we are here to help on the mango hotline, Wales.

Next up toast your coconut in a small frying pan, medium heat for 5-8 minutes will do and this can be done well in advance, although warm is better.

Stay in touch!  Join our newsletter to receive exclusive recipes, special offers and news from the Beach House Kitchen.  Click here (takes a few seconds only)

Forbidden Purple Rice gets a drizzle

Forbidden Purple Rice gets a drizzle

Serve

In lovely shallow bowls (small servings are best as this is a very rich dessert), spoon in your purple rice, lay on your slices of mango (fan shapes look brilliant here) and offer the pouring sauce in a small jug.  The general sweetness of the dish will be enough for most.

Sprinkle on your coconut and basil leaves and serve warm and immediately.

 

We Love It!

You’ve seen the pictures, you’ve heard me get all excited, you imagine the flavours……..you know you’ll love it!

 

Foodie Fact

Purple/ black rice contains all of the 18 amino acids, which means that technically you can live on the stuff.  Great for dessert islands (small joke there)!  It is also high in iron, zinc, copper, caroten and several great vitamins.

It also contains anthocyanins, which make it black and are also found in blueberries and peppers.  This chemical mops up bad molecules and is a poweful anti-oxidant.

Purple/ black rice has also be touted as  the new superfood against the big C (cancer).

 

Tunes

Because music and food are the same thing, one in your ear, one in your mouth……

Two tunes this time from Beach House radio and both relevant to this incredible dessert.  Deep Purple ‘Child in Time’ for the deep purple of the rice and because it reminds me of the dawning or rock music in my world (I was around 10 years old in the back seat of a car when it hit me like bolt, you can wail and not be told off! IT’S ONLY ROCK AND ROLL.  If I could sing like Ian Gillan, I’d happily forgo my forbidden rice.

and a shaky clip from one of my favourite music bars in the world, the Adhere Blues Bar (just of the infamous and rubbish Khaosan Road) in Thailand (queue more wailing with a Thai accent).

Categories: Desserts, Recipes, Vegan | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , | 15 Comments

Monkey Puzzle Nut and Jaggery Muffins (Vegan)

The Beach House Kitchen (and a box of carrots)

We’re on the road in France and Spain at the minute, but here’s one we did earlier…….

We have some lovely friends of the Beach House Kitchen to thank for these nuts, Rachel and Axel over on Anglesey, who somehow man-handled their monkey puzzle tree into letting go of its precious nuts.  Not an easy task, these trees are seriously covered in sharp spines.

We saw this technique being executed by the British wild food guru Hugh Fearnley-Whittingstall on his TV programme ‘Veg Everyday’ recently and he needed the help of a tree expert and a hydraulic lift.  From what Rach tells me Axel simply shimmied up a neighbouring tree and shook the hell out of the top, using only a snake catching pole (Axel is an expert in all things snakes and adders) and net.  Unconventional harvesting techniques demand an unconventional recipe me thought.  Hugh made a tasty looking summer cous cous salad out of his puzzle nuts, but we were on a different page all together.

Monkey Puzzle Nuts

So I had a bowl of these beauties, I roasted them and tried one, tastes a little like a chestnut merged with a pine nut.  They are probably best just eaten as they are, but I couldn’t resist sticking them in this vegan muffin recipe that I’ve been sitting on for a while.  A word of gentle warning, these nuts do go a bit dry after roasting and when baked.  CRUNCH!

Jane has been fantasising about cake now for a few days and I have finally got around to making my poor, long suffering lady something resembling a sweet thing.  This is as close as I get really, all that white flower, butter and sugar makes me feel a little queasy.  These muffins are packed with the good stuff and still taste mighty fine.

Monkey Puzzle Tree

What on earth is a Monkey Puzzle Nut?

The monkey puzzle tree (or Araucaria araucana if you’re Latin speaker) is an evergreen that can grow up to 40 metres tall with a trunk of two metres wide!  The tree is covered with sharp, blade-like, ‘reptilian’ leaves or spines that make the monkey puzzle nut one of natures toughest morsels to harvest.  The tree is native to the low Andean slopes of Chile and Argentina but seems to do well on this little grey island.  It is a hardy conifer and you regularly see them sticking out of gardens and stately home driveways.  I don’t think there is a more incongruous tree on this island than the monkey puzzle.

What on earth is Jaggery?

Jaggery is an unrefined sugar used in many parts of the world, known as Gud in India.  It  has an amazing toffee-like texture and can be made with palm, coconut or date tree sap.  Jaggery has a powerful, caramelised flavour that sets it apart from any sugar I have come across.  It is high is sucrose and can be used as a healthier alternative to refined sugar.  Great in a chai.  I like to bake with it because it flavours and sweetens.

You could use a good unrefined brown sugar as a substitute, or even something like molasses, as jaggery can be a little hard to track down.

These muffins make for a great breakfast (they are nice and dense) and are best served warmed through.  A cold muffin has an air of austerity to it that a baked good should not possess.  If you are storing them, make sure they are in a well sealed container or well cling filmed, they can get a little dry these vegan sorts.

I used polenta and oats here as they were in the cupboard, another flour like spelt, rye or tapioca will work really well.  Polenta isn’t quite fine enough to bind and bake as well as other flours.  The oats add alot of ballast and ‘feel’ to these wonder muffs.

Monkey Puzzle Muffins in the mix

Makes for six hearty muffs.

The Bits

2 cups polenta, 2 cups oats, 1 teas cinnamon, 1 teas baking powder, 1/2 teas bicarb,  1/4 teas sea salt, 2 mashed bananas, 1/2 cup coconut oil, 1 grated carrot, 1/2 cup jaggery, 8 finely diced dates (finely chopped), 1 teas vanilla extract, 2/3 cup monkey puzzle nuts (or pine nuts/ your favourite nut), 1/3 cup chopped dark chocolate (finely chopped), 1/3 cup roasted pumpkin seeds, 1/2 cup soya milk (or your favoured milk)

Do It

Preheat your oven to 375ºF and grease six muffin cups (or use silicon muffin cups).  In a bowl, mix with vigour the polenta, oats, cinnamon, baking powder, baking soda, and salt.  In a food processor, blitz together the banana, coco oil, jaggery and vanilla until relatively smooth with just some small banana lumps remaining.  Add wet mix to dry and add carrot, chocolate, seeds and milk.  Fold and stir together nicely until just combine.

Muffins pre-mix

Divide the batter up between the six muffin cups, and bake for 25 to 30 minutes, or until slightly browned on top and a thin knife inserted into the center of a muffin comes out clean.

Ready to bake

Serve

With a cup of fine tea.  Best warm from the oven, but great in a packed lunch too.

Lovely looking muffs

We Love It!

Simply put, we know of no cooler muff.

Foodie Fact

Jaggery is unrefined and a more complex carbohydrate than normal white sugar.  It contains magnesium and salts and good levels of the antioxidant selenium.  Jaggery also contains iron, which helps ease tension.

Monkey Puzzle and Jaggery Muffin

Categories: Baking, Desserts, gluten-free, Recipes, Vegan | Tags: , , , , , , , , , | 12 Comments

Raw Power Balls

Apricot Sesame and Tahini – Raw Power Balls

These are real super fuels, if you need power and energy, look no further.  These Raw Power Balls are like duracell batteries for the body.

We love a good raw bar.  Nutty or seedy.  Carob or crunch.  Nak’d and Nine Bar are just a couple on sale in the UK which are perfect when you fancy a treat but don’t want to eat a load of junk.  Making them yourself however is a lot more fun and allows your creative side to get busy.

These little balls pack a serious punch, tasty and like rocket fuel, your energy levels and vitality will leap when you try them.  We experiment with this recipe all the time and they are the perfect snack for a long day walking up steep hills (and then down again).  I eat them at work and they keep me rocking all day.  The measurements are rough here, they don’t need to be exact, handfuls are accurate enough.  This is a simple, quick snack that serves as a tasty last minute treat.

Packed with nuts and date, you need to take it easy with this type of snack.  They are very filling and packed full of sugar, hence the power.  Too many and you’ll negate any benefit gained from all that raw goodness (by getting fat!).

They don’t need any preparation, but the dates and nuts will be better for a soak.  They swell up and even taste better. They become softer and easier to blend.  Soaking will also release many of the useful enzymes and nutrients that are otherwise closed off to the body.  If you do decide to soak your bits, keep the juice, date juice is lovely and sweet and the nut juice is packed with nutrients.  We add it to juices, stews or soups.

You may also like to make these into a truffle.  Heat up some chocolate (in a bowl above a pan of steaming water) and roll you power balls in them until well coated.  Place on a tray, covered with baking parchment and stick them in the fridge.  Once the chocolate has hardened, they are ready to be enjoyed.  That’s surely a treat worthy of a special birthday walk or even a dessert in its own right (just make the balls slightly bigger).

On a wander, seeing some flowers.

Here are a few of our favourite Power Ball flavour combos:

The Bits

Makes six decent power balls

Basic recipe:

1 handful of good dates (we like medjool, soaked for 2 hours), 1 handful of almonds (soaked overnight), 1/2 handful of cashews (soaked overnight)

Dark Chocolate Orange

2 heaped teas cacao powder, 3 teas orange blossom water or 2 teas orange zest, 1/2 handful of raisin (soaked) 

Apricot, Sesame and Tahini

3 teas sesame seeds, 2 teas tahini, 1/2 handful of dried apricots (soaked and chopped)

Walnut Apple Pie

1 handful dried apples (soaked), 1 handful of walnuts (replace almonds), 1/2 teas cinnamon

Lemon Cardamom

2 teas lemon zest, 2 teas crushed cardamom seeds

Coco Choco Mint

1/2 handful of fresh coconut (blend first), 2 teas cacao powder, 2 teas finely chopped mint leaves

Vanilla Cashew

1 teas vanilla extract, use only cashew nuts

Very Berry 

1 handful of dried cranberry, 1/2 handful of dried blueberry, 1/2 handful dried cherries, 1 teas vanilla extract

Seedy Wonder

1/2 handful sunflower seeds, 1/2 handful pumpkin seeds, 1/4 handful sesame seeds, 1/4 handful poppy seeds

Ginger Bread

1/2 teas all spice, 1/2 teas dried ginger, 1 handful of pecans (replace almonds)

Maple Fig and Lavender (CAUTION – very sweet!)

1 teas maple syrup, 1/2 teas dried lavender, 1/2 handful dried figs (soaked and chopped)

Peanut Butter 

2 teas peanut butter, 1 handful of raw peanuts

The list goes on…………..like kids in a sweet shop……

Do It

The technique is always the same.  Put it all into a food processor, blitz until smooth (or chunky, you decide).  Get your hands in there and roll out a decent sized ball between your palms.  That’s it!

Place in the fridge for a while to make them firmer and a little less sticky.  They last for a long time in a sealed container in the fridge and can even be frozen and munched at a later date.

Chocolate Orange – Raw Power Balls

Serve

Preferably on top of a peak or in a forest somewhere far away from anywhere.

We Love Them!

Better than a biscuit and full of only raw goodness.

Foodie Fact

Dates give you a hefty dose of protein and fibre.  They are also high in calories, essential when wandering around the countryside (or city for that matter).  They are also a good source of Vitamin B and you’ll even get a splash of C thrown in as well.

Sun on flowers, taken on a walk in the woods

Categories: Desserts, Raw Food, Recipes, Snacks and Inbetweens | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , | 4 Comments

Avocado, Coconut & Lime Cheesecake

p1170814

This is just one of those recipes that comes along, out of the great blue yonder, that catches the eye and demands to be made.  This floated by via a recommendation from Yolanda at the wonderful Byzantine Flowers blog.  There are millions of recipes hovering around out there, but only a small minority grab me and really get my creative juices flowing.  I like something a little bit different, something challenging and new.  When I saw that this cheesecake had either kale, beetroot leaves or spinach in it, I knew I’d discovered a new dessert for me to play with.  I’m strange like that!!

MERCI CHEF!

We are in veggie heaven at the moment after helping chef strim his garden.  To be honest it was more of a wild field than a garden and due to our combined efforts in helping tame his jungle, chef gifted us a serious glut of amazing vegetables from his pristine veg garden (you can see where his priorities lie!).

Chef lives way up in the hills and has a fantastic garden that he and his Zimbabwean wife, Estele, take magnificent care of.  Estele is a natural with the good earth and can grow things that just shouldn’t grow in these temperate parts.  Chef is a proud frenchman and quite handy with a strimmer and mandolin.  Thanks to them we are now the proud owners of literally bin bags full of incredibly sweet spinach, fiery mint, intense chives, vibrant cabbage and some of the most vivid carrots.  You may be seeing more of these ingredients soon (maybe in desserts?!)  I have never tasted spinach this sweet (see below), the seeds came from chefs sister in the Loire Valley in France.  Ideal dessert spinach I’d say.

Raw desserts normally have a lot of components, but they are easy to get together and require a lot less messing around than normal baking (its not going to sink, burn, crumble, split……etc), it just sits there on the plate looking sexy.  I’ve never used pumpkin seeds in a base before and I think they taste even better than nuts.  Less fat, more flavour.  Seed bases are a winner.  The filling is rich and bright green (the spinach doing its thing) and you won’t believe that cream cheese wasn’t added.  It’s so smooth and creamy.

Who needs flowers

In the bright, green future, we’ll all be eating these!

Here’s the recipe with a few Beach House additions.  I stuck with handfuls, rather than exact measuring, here because its so straightforward and we love getting our mitts involved in cooking!!!

———

p1170823

Avocado, Coconut & Lime Cheesecake (raw, gluten-free, vegan, yum!)

Avocado, Coconut & Lime Cheesecake

The Bits – 6 little cheesecakes or one large one

Crust

4 big handfuls pumpkin seeds

2 big handfuls dates (pitted and soaked in warm water for an hour)

1/2 tsp vanilla extract

2 teas tahini

Pinch sea salt

 

Filling

2 avocadoes (peeled and stoned)

3 big handfuls spinach leaves (washed)

2 handfuls dates (pitted and soaked n warm water an hour)

125ml (1/2 cup) water/ water from date soaking

3 tbs lime juice

2 tbs coconut flakes/ desiccated

1 tbs coconut oil (melted)

1 tbs maple syrup

1 tsp lime zest

Pinch of sea salt

The pumpkin seed bases

Do It

Using a food processor, pulse the pumpkin seeds, dates, vanilla, tahini and salt together until they start to clump into a ball.  Place in the fridge for an hour to firm up.

On a chopping board, using your hands, press the ball down into a flattish sheet (approx 1.5cm thick).  Then take a cake/cookie cutter and cut circles.  Roll up the leftovers and make another smaller sheet, repeat this until most of the base mix is used (eat the rest.  Yum!)

In the mix

Get all of your filling ingredients in your food processor/ blender and blitz up until nice and smooth.  Place you cake/ cookie cutter over your bases and spoon in a good layer of mix, using the spoon, even out the mix and make sure it meets the edges (giving you a nice looking, clean edge).  Gently pull off the cutter, your cheesecake should look splendid.  If not, be more careful with the next one!  Repeat until your mix runs out.

As I mentioned, the base can be rolled up into little balls and snacked on at a later date, so no waste here.

Please feel free to play with sizes and shapes.  We used this cutter as it makes for a decent dessert size and was handy.  The original recipe was more of a cupcake size.

Serve

They don’t last long, for many reasons, the avocado doesn’t help (so creamy!)  Serve them immediately with thin slices of lime, bits of coconut or as we did, a sprinkle of coconut flakes and a few pumpkin seeds.

We Love It!

People look quite disgusted when we tell them we’ve been making desserts with spinach in.  Hopefully they’ll read this post and have their minds changed, even better, they’ll actually try it for themselves.  Vegan desserts are the future, next week, garlic beer! (joking)

Foodie Fact

Coconut oil is an excellent substitute to cooking oils and especially butter.  It has been heralded as a ‘superfood’ and it certainly is.  The benefits of coco oil are many, for example, it can even be rubbed into your hair and skin giving amazing nutrition to both. Coconut oil is high in saturated fats, but they are mainly lauric acid, which actually helps repair the heart and arteries.  These fats also contain micro-biological qualities that fight bad bacteria and fungi in your guts, they also help you absorb many vitamins and minerals.  I could go on here……..I’m sure you get the idea.  Eat more cocos!

Categories: Desserts, Raw Food, Recipes, Vegan | Tags: , , , , , , , , , | 9 Comments

Raw Strawberry Tartlets

P1170517

Raw Strawberry Tartlets

This is a variation on our Raw Summer Berry Cheesecake that was SOOOOO GOOD we thought we would do it again… only adding some different ingredients to make it tastier and a little more interesting (and smaller!).  One for the sweet tooth and can be eaten on a raw food diet too.  Try it, it’s amazing!

It was a beautiful sunny day so I put on my shorts, went in the garden, felt super-summery, and then decided to surprise Lee with a beautiful treat for when he got home from work.  The strawberries were farm-fresh, juicy, and looked oh so irresistible in the fridge, and the result was a delightful delicate mix of this rich nutty sticky base with it’s thick creamy sweet fruity topping. Such sunny decadence!!!

I just love raw food preparation and cooking. It’s quick, there is very little mess or washing up, and I really feel like I am learning so much about how to combine the ingredients and flavours. It’s so incredible how tasty these blends of foods can be and how versatile these ingredients are – the topping in this recipe is unbelievable!  Tahini never tasted so good.

p1170518

Raw Strawberry Tartlets

The Bits

Base

200g dates

200g soaked almonds

Large handful sultanas

Large handful cashew nuts

A shake of cinnamon

A shake of ground (or chopped ginger)

 

The delicious creamy topping

1 large banana

Juice of one lemon

3 tablespoons tahini

8 dates

 

Topping

Chopped strawberries

 

Do It

So here’s how it’s done!

Base – Blend the ingredients for the base in a food processor. Make little balls with the mixture and squash flat to make little round mini-bases. This took the longest out of everything because the mixture gets so sticky. Make as many bases as you want, any size or shape you want! Worth persevering with your sticky fingers for the end result 🙂

Topping – Blend everything together and smooth the lovely thick mixture on to your bases. Throw on some chopped strawberries, or any other fruit you may have that looks beautiful; and serve straight away.

You can keep the base and topping separate in the fridge and they will keep well for a few days.

Only add the fruit just before serving for the freshest taste imaginable!

 

Serve

We like it all left out of the fridge, at room temperature.  Served in the garden and eaten with teaspoons (to prolong the happiness).  Normally with a nice cup of Rooi-al (Rooibos tea with almond milk) or Rooi-soy (with soya milk).  The perfect little summer treat.

 

We Love It!

This is so simple.  The most delicious dessert and minimal effort…leaving more time for eating!!!

 

Foodie Fact

Strawberries are actually native to Europe, and technically a ‘creeper’.  Nothing evokes summertime in Britain more than the coming of the strawberry.  Strawberries are very high in vitamin C, our anti-oxidant friend and vitamin B. They also contain plenty of vitamin B and E and have good levels of mineral content.  They are also full of phyto-nutrients that are brilliant for the body, they fight diseases and other nasty things.  Oh, and they are low in calories.

Enjoy!!

Jane x

Categories: Desserts, Raw Food, Recipes, Summer, Vegan | Tags: , , , , , , , , , | 13 Comments

Vegan Chocolate and Almond Ice Cream

One big pile of Vegan Chocolate Nut Ice Cream

The Beach House Kitchen is definitely rustic.  Not in the manufactured ‘rustic’ sense of the word, I mean we have sheep invading our front garden and no coffee shop within a half hour drive.  The wind howls and we regularly have horses looking into our bathroom window (which can be quite a shock when you’re getting out of the shower!).  We live out here and it’s beautiful!

I try and convey this country feel in our pictures, I just don’t have the gadgets (and time) to make our food look so polished.  I am in awe of many blogs that manage to make any dish look like food of the Gods.  When it’s so grey outside, taking photographs of food just doesn’t do the dish justice.  One blog who constantly dazzles with its photographs and gorgeous food is 84th&3rd.  This recipe is inspired by their Vegan Chocolate Ice Cream recipe.   This is one of those food blogs that is so delicious and sexy, you just want to try out all of the recipes.

This is an amazing recipe that will blow anybody away.  Vegan or otherwise.  Even the hardest of hardcore Ben and Jerry lovers will be impressed with this ice cream.  It is a wonder, with purely natural and healthy ingredients.  Good fats and sugars ahoy!

The Beach House additions to this recipe were mainly nutty.  Almonds to be exact, although pecan and cashews would be lovely also.  We used soaked almonds here, the soaking brings out the nutrients and also makes them nice and plump and soft, ready for blending.  Soak your nuts!  It helps.

Cacao powder is a great investment, a little costly, but a small spoonful goes a long way.  It is surprisingly chocolaty and opens a doorway into much sweet experimentation.  Contrary to popular misconception, vegan ice cream can be rich and we’ve turned to the old favourite, avocado, to give things that creamy richness that diary normally would.

Cacao Beans

Cacao or Cocoa?

Cacao is not cocoa, cocoa is not cacao. They are very similar in every way, which can be confusing, but one way they differ greatly is nutritionally. Cacao is raw, meaning not heated to an extent that fragile enzymes and nutrients are destroyed, cocoa is heated (although still very tasty).  Raw chocolate is brilliant for the body (in moderation) and big slab of Cadbury’s just ain’t so great.

Try to buy organic with your cacao, they use a load of pesticides and bad things in cacao growing.  There’s no point going healthy and opting for a chemical cocktail, it will probably be the matter of a few pennies more.

Bananas (not ripe yet)

Bananas

The bananas here, and in general, should be getting towards brown.  Some brown spots and a nice soft banana is important.  They will be alot sweeter and better for you (I won’t bore you with the science of it this time, see the ‘Foodie Fact’ for that).  Most places sell bananas way to early, meaning we eat them far too early.  We try and buy bananas a week in advance so they are nicely ripened when we get around to them.  Bananas are an essential part of any healthy foodies diet.  They are so packed with sugar and can add super sweetness to all kinds of things.  No added sugar required when a banana is in town.  It  is a nice idea to keep some bananas (and fruit in general) chopped and ready in the freezer.  It keeps them fresh and is perfect for making smoothies etc.

This recipe is so easy to prepare, no need for an ice cream blender (which is surely a dust trap/ counter clutterer waiting to happen).  It just needs a little stirring and a freezer and you have a gorgeous, very chocolaty ice cream.

You may like to add even more chocolate to this recipe, just bash up a bar of your favourite dark chocolate or add cacao nibs for the healthier touch.  This adds some nice crunchy bits, as does the almonds.  If you like a smoother ice cream, just blend for longer.

Jane sneaks in

The Bits

1 cup soaked almonds (overnight), 1 ripe avocado, 2 large frozen bananas (chopped up), 1/4 cup cacao powder, pinch good sea salt (we use halen mon tahitian vanilla sea salt), 1 tsp maple syrup/ honey, 3 tbsp bashed up dark chocolate or cacao nibs (for serious chocolate fiends only)

Do It

Blend up the almonds first for a minute then add your banana, avocado and salt using a food processor until smooth.  Chop up the rest of the almonds into rough looking pieces and stir them through with cacao powder until well combined.  Add maple syrup/ honey. Stir through chocolate chunks/ cacao chips if using.

Pour into an old ice cream container, or something of those dimensions. Stir every 30 minutes or so, breaking up frozen bits and mixing until smooth. Do this approximately four times if you can.  You may also like to dust off and put into use your ice cream maker here.

Set out for 15 or 20 minutes to soften slightly before using, it is easier to scoop this way. Sharing is optional.

Serve

We had ours with blueberries and chopped banana, with a little more chopped almonds on top.

We Love It!

The texture of this ice cream is so rich and has a lovely smooth nuttiness.  We cannot believe how healthy and delicious it is, we will be making more of this.  Alot more.

Foodie Fact

When bananas ripen proto-pectin is converted into digestible, soluble pectin and starch is also converted into sugars of which 20% is glucose, 14% is fructose and the remaining 66% is sucrose.

Bananas give off a large amount of ethylene, which helps fruits ripen.  If you have any fruits  that need ripening, pop them in a bowl with the bananas and wait a day.  They use this ethylene to turn green oranges orange.  Many people don’t like the look of a green orange, even though they are ripe.  We do funny things with our food!

Bananas also contain our happy friend trytophan, that converts to serotonin and makes us shine.  See our ‘Mood Foods….’ post for more info on happy veggie foods.

Categories: Desserts, Recipes, Summer, Vegan | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , | 17 Comments

Rich & Raw Chocolate Brownie with Chocolate Icing

Raw Chocolate Brownie with Chocolate Sauce

This rich slice of brownie goodness just made my DAY!! Thank you to The Rawtarian for the idea!  After seemingly forever without any chocolate (it feels like a very long time ago since we did the Willies Cacao and Chocolate tastings – our favourite chocolate in the world!) Lee treated me to this yummy dessert. After all we couldn’t go on a raw diet without experimenting with a broad range of food including LUXURY puddings could we? J Hehehe!

Whilst munching our way through half a slab last night we concluded the only possible drawback is the amount of sugar it contains (from the dates) and fats (from the coconut oil and the nuts…)  But then you’re not supposed to eat 1/2 slabs at one sitting!!  It is unbelievable to think there is no butter, cream or chocolate in this recipe; it tastes just so rich.

But because it’s all healthy ingredients; it is still no major crime to while the evening away with a delicious huge slab and a tasty cup of sweet vanilla rooibush tea to accompany it! And that’s exactly why I love this recipe – it’s naughty tasting healthy food!! Woo-hoo!

In the bits, we used soaked almonds instead of pecans and it worked out very nicely.  We were lucky to have a few coconuts hanging around, so we were privileged to used fresh coconut and shredded it in our coffee grinder.  The star of this recipe though is the salt (it is not often you say that!), Halen Mon Tahitian Sea Salt.  We’ve been waiting to use this since we tried it in a ‘Dark Chocolate Ricotta’ recipe a few months ago.  It really brings out the flavour of the chocolate and adds subtle hint of vanilla.

This recipe makes a great base for other desserts and can also be easily rolled up into dark chocolate truffles.

This is so packed full of energy, with the dates and nuts alone, if you planing on  running any marathons in the near future, we highly recommend this for dessert the night before.  You will break records!

The Bits

Brownie

1 cup pecans (you can use walnuts/ almonds in a pinch, but pecans are much better)

1 cup dates (stoned)

5 tablespoons raw cacao (cocoa) powder

4 tablespoons shredded unsweetened coconut (dessicated will do)

2 tablespoons maple syrup

1/2 teas Halen Mon Tahitian vanilla sea salt (normal sea salt is of course cool too)

 

Chocolate Icing

1 cup dates (soften in water for 1 hour)

1/4 cup raw cacao (cocoa) powder

1/4 cup cold-pressed coconut oil

3/4 cup water (or a tiny bit more if needed)

 

Do It

Brownie

Add the nuts to your blender and whizz until broken down, then add dates and blend for a minute, add all other ingredients and continue to whizz away until the mixture turns a lovely shiny dark brown, not too buttery (you should still be able to see bits of nuts).  You may need scrape the mixture from the side of the blender to ensure that all is blended nicely.

Press down into a suitably rectangular container (cake tin will do) and press down evenly so the mixture evenly covers the base.

Cover and refrigerate, this mix keeps its shape well and even looks like a brownie!

Chocolate Icing

Could not be easier, soften your dates in the water for an hour before blending.  This makes them softer and easier going.  Then add all ingredients to the blender and whizz up. Start slowly and build up the speed, blend for a while, until the icing begins the shine and no dates can be seen (roughly 5 minutes).   If needed, turn off the blender and scrape the icing down from the sides.

Voila!! A rich icing that would grace any dessert!

Raw Chocolate Brownie

Serve

We keep the chocolate sauce separate, in a sealed container, and spread onto the chunks of brownie when cut.  Both the brownie and the sauce keep well in the fridge for a while.   Otherwise, this needs no additions, just a few sweet teeth and a nice cuppa!

We Love It!

Deep, rich and velvety.  This is a stunning recipe that keeps well and gets better with age (i.e. a couple of days).  It is incredibly dense and a little goes a long way, meaning more days of decadent brownie time, which is never a bad thing.  The icing is also very versatile and has an almost mousse-like texture that melts in the mouth.

Foodie Fact

To the Aztecs, the cacao bean was the food of the Gods.  Raw cacao is bitter ad is normally sweetened, it is the main ingredient of chocolate and boasts many health benefits.

Cacao produces much the same effect as caffeine, yet milder and non-addictive.  It stimulates the brain to produce a gentle euphoria via a release of endorphins.  It also contains very high levels of antioxidants.

Like much of the research on foods, the science is ever changing and the cacao bean seems to be a contentious topic.  The general opinion though is that it’s a superfood and dark chocolate, even when processed, contains many health benefits.

Categories: Desserts, Raw Food, Recipes, Vegan | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , | 21 Comments

Raw Apple & Peach Crumble

Raw Apple and Peach Crumble

Jane is out at ukulele club, so I thought I’d whip up a dessert for when she gets back.

This is a sweet thing that I didn’t imagine I’d be eating this month.  Apple Crumble was a winter special in my house, smothered with custard. Custard is also possible on a raw diet, but I thought it was step too far, it required more cashew nuts (plus dates, banana and vanilla extract, I may make it soon).

This is a rich and hearty dessert and the oats provide the crumble with some serious substance, add to that the nuts and you have a hearty topping fit for any fruity base.  The tantalising combinations are almost endless….

Many of these raw food recipes will be staying in our diets and this is one of them, we are both learning new techniques of cooking (or non-cooking) and of course, we are now ace salad makers!  This will be a key skill with the summer allegedly on its way/here.

We soaked our almonds and raisins overnight to make them softer and easier to blend, we then used the juice of the raisins to sweeten the crumble.  Walnuts or pecans would also be a great addition to this crumble.

Below is a picture of the kind of nutters we are!  Our nut selection of nuts and seeds is comprehensive, but essential for our playtime with this new lifestyle.  Jane and I both lost a little weight when we started the diet, but with all these gorgeous desserts filled with nuts and dates, we are filling out again in all the right places.

This recipe is a doddle as most of the measurements are the same, you can use any vessel (or hand) and just keep things consistent.  A great one to just throw together for a quick dessert.

The nut stash

The Bits
Makes enough for eight people (or four hungry folk)
Crumble – 125g almonds, 125g cashews (or walnuts), 125g oat groats (soaked overnight) or rolled oats with a glug of hot water added (if you aren’t a raw-er), 80ml of raisin juice (the soaking water)
Filling – 125g raisins, 1 kg apple, 2 peaches (de-stoned and chopped), 2 teas cinnamon

Crumble in the mix

Do It

Add all of your filling ingredients to a good blender and give it a whizz, we like chunks, leave a few in if you prefer.  Set aside in your serving dish.

Give the blender a quick wipe out and then add all of the ingredients for the crumble.  Blend until it has all come together and is nice and thick.  It should be a little damp, it will set when spread out.

Using a trusty spatula, spread out the crumble onto the fruit filling.  Be gentle here, it can get messy!

This will keep overnight in a fridge, but is best eaten on the day.  It won’t last long!

Serve

We had ours with a little soya yoghurt, vegan creme fraiche would be awesome too.

We Love It!

These amazing raw dessert recipes are coming thick and fast, I’ve just made some chocolate brownies that are a real knockout.  Whoever said that raw food was boring and one big lettuce-fest!

Foodie Fact

An apple a day keeps the dentist away.  Apples won’t replace your toothbrush, but biting and chewing apples stimulates the production of saliva in your mouth, reducing tooth decay by lowering the levels of bacteria.

 

Categories: Desserts, gluten-free, Healthy Eating, Low G.I. (glycemic index), Raw Food, Recipes, Vegan | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 10 Comments

Berry Cheesecake with Avocado and Banana Cream (raw)

Berries

This sweet tasty little dessert only took about 20mins to make; a wonder!  Any fruit combination is good; summer fruits, tropical, and I’m imagining it tastes just as lovely with the good old British apple or pear come autumn.
We used a tasty selection of mixed berry fruits; strawberries, raspberries, blueberries and cherries for this special weekend treat.  I decided to make it to surprise Lee because he deserves a treat!

We have really splashed out on fruit and veg at this time of rawness and our nut reserves are well topped up and we’re brimming over with seeds.  We have invested in a diverse range of ingredients in order to treat ourselves (primarily our bodies).   Some of these treats are not seasonal or local, which is a shame.  Next time we may try 100% raw in August/ September when the berries more abundant.  We hope that wherever you are in the world, your berries are ripe for the picking!

If you are a raw one, this is the rich, sumptuous dessert that you have been dreaming of.  It will also impress any guest, at any dinner party in the world!

You may like to half the filling, this will make more of a tart to a full on cheesecake.

The Bits

For crust
185g almonds (soaked 12-14 hours), 185g dried dates, 1 tsp ground cinnamon
a few drops of vanilla extract

For filling
2 avocado, 2 large banana, 8 dates, 4 tbsp tahini (light), juice of a lemon, berries (enough to cover, we used cherries, strawberries, blueberries and raspberries).

Do It

Whizz up your almonds in a food processor until they are as small as they will go, and until they are starting to stick together.  Add the dates and blend again so that the crust mixture goes all sticky.  Add the vanilla essence.  If you think it needs to be even stickier add a couple of drops of water.  But not too much in case of sogginess.

Put it in a cake tin or bowl; something flat-bottomed and press it down lightly round the edges. Looking like a cheesecake base?  Mmmmmm!!

Then it’s time to make the filling. (It’s best made fresh because of the banana).
Blend the banana, avocado, dates, tahini and lemon together until you have a smooth non-lumpy sauce.  Should be nice a thick.  Spread onto base.

Chop up your fresh fruit and scatter it on, giving a good even covering.

Cover and leave in the fridge for an hour to set.  Then serve with big smiles and spoons.

Raw Berry Cheesecake – deconstructed and good to go….

Serve

You can deconstruct the cheesecake if you want to keep it over night, it saves the crust getting too moist.  Then you just tip the filling onto your own portion like a hearty custard.
I’m quite keen on the custardy option, especially since the sauce is much better eaten fresh and the crust looks like it will keep over night. If there’s any left…

We Love It!

It’s a fruity sweet treat, a healthy equivalent of feasting on a massive bar of chocolate!!!

Foodie Fact

Fruit (and lots of it) is bursting with goodness! Less is known about the almond – think of them like protector nuts – giving you supplies of all the protective minerals like calcium and magnesium for strong bones. They have vitamin E and many phytochemicals in them, which can protect our bodies from the big C. Dates have all kinds of minerals in them – quite unbelievable.  They are not just sugary, they also have a lot of fibre in them too and make for healthy bowels 🙂

This was the soundtrack to raw berry cheesecake times in the BHK, ‘Man on Fire’ by Edward Sharpe and the Magnetic Zeros:

Categories: Desserts, Raw Food, Recipes | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , | 2 Comments

Apricot, Avocado and Kiwi Smoothie

Apricots

Today’s smooth one came out rather nice. The richness of avocado and the zing of kiwi, with the touch of sweetness from the apricot. A well-balanced cup of goodness.

Jane and I had just taken a long walk down to Trigonos Organic Farm in the nearby Nantlle valley.  It has been an absolutely stunning day in the hills.  We popped down to see Pete and the gang and also managed to pick up some delicious little onions, carrots and potatoes.  Pete grows some really interesting, rare varieties.

Down on the farm, Trigonos (taken in April with snow on the hills)

It is all go down there at this time of year, as it is in our own garden and we are picking up many tips from the wise bunch at Trigonos.  Today we learnt to always water your seedlings at night, especially when sunny.  There seems so many do’s and dont’s when it comes to gardening, I have just been sticking seeds in pots and the earth and hope for a bloom.  We shall see…

Nantlle Valley and a black pony

So smoothies.  We needed something filling, I was shooting off to work , so this is a nice thick one, reminiscent of a milkshake with its creaminess, but without all that fat.  Avocados are excellent for this, creaminess without the cow.  I’m sure all vegans will agree!

Happy blending!

The Bits

Makes enough for two cups:

1 avocado (seeded and scooped out), 4 apricots (de-stoned), 2 kiwis (peeled and quartered), 1 cup of soya milk (or milk of your choice)

Do It

In the blender, blitz for a short time until smooth.

Serve

In the nicest glasses available, will also make a delicious smooth topping for a fruit salad or dessert (ie CAKE!), you may need to add a little something sweet to the mix, maybe honey or dates would be nice.

Foodie Fact 

Avocados are technically berries and are sometimes called alligator pears.  They contain a wide range of vitamins and fat (good fats, they’re full of fibre), which is actually a good thing for raw foodist.  We will be needing alot of avocados in a few days (see raw June)!  Avocados actually help your nutrition absorption by up to 300-400%.

Apricot, Avocado and Kiwi Smoothie

Categories: Desserts, Garden, gluten-free, Healthy Eating, Local food, Raw Food, Recipes, Smoothies | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Spiced Pear and Flax Seed Scones

Indian Scones

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

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

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

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

All that's missing is a scone

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

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

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

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

The Bits

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

Do It

Preheat oven to 200oC

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

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

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

Flax seeds after a good soaking.

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

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

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

Serve

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

Smothered in good things.

We Love It!

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

Foodie Fact 

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

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

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

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

Here are 11 interesting facts about Honey:

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

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

Bitter Chocolate Ricotta

We had this on Valentines, in tea cups.  It’s rich and velvety.

The pinch of salt really brought out the bitterness of the chocolate.  Jane and I aren’t really into very sweet desserts, so this was near perfection.  It’s not a choc pud for those with a super sweet tooth.  Try something new!

With few ingredients, you can’t skimp on quality here.  Use good chocolate and a nice ricotta.

I used ‘Halen Mon’ salt (http://www.halenmon.com/) with Taitian Vanilla.  They are a local salt company, based on Anglesey, who produce some stunning salts.  We don’t use much, so the little we use is important.

As usual with the B.H.K is easy to get together, with very little washing up!

Use 1/2 tub of ricotta and 2/3 bar of chocolate for two people.

The Bits

1 bar of quality dark chocolate (at least 70% cocoa), 1 tub of ricotta cheese or vegan cream cheese, 2 pinches of Halen Mon Vanilla Salt (or good sea salt), dried fruits

Do It

Melt the chocolate in a bowl over a saucepan with boiled water.  Stir.  Scrap out into a bowl with ricotta cheese, add a couple of pinches of salt, fold in until blended.  The chocolate should be enough to balance the flavour with sweetness, if you add too much salt add a little sugar or honey until its right.

Serve

We topped ours with some dried strawberries and Physalis (see GRAZE article), most dried fruits would be fine or some Amoretti biscuits would go nicely.

We Love It

A quick dessert, minimum fuss and maximum enjoyment!  The Vanilla Salt is a real star here, it adds so much.

Foodie Fact

Chocolate is packed with flavonoids, helping our cells and good monounsaturated fats that can lower cholesterol (if you only eat a few chunks!)

Categories: Desserts, gluten-free, Recipes, Special Occasion, Treats | Tags: , , , | 3 Comments

Blog at WordPress.com.

%d bloggers like this: