Posts Tagged With: baking

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

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

 

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

Happy Birthday Blueberry Spelt Slices (and brownies and cookies…)

Hi everyone it’s Jane here!

I have snuck into the beach house kitchen blog to post this in complete secret…

So without further ado, a Big Beach House-y Happy Birthday to you Lee!

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I made some chocolate brownies, blueberry slices and some of Lee’s brazil nut and spelt chocolate chip cookies from ‘Peace and Parsnips’ for the special day! Lee is working today so they had to be gorgeous but transportable and that’s why I opted for the kind you can cut into squares and share around…. Roll on the 10 o’clock tea break down at the Retreat Centre!

Spelt chocolate chip cookies from 'Peace and Parsnips'

brazil nut choc chip cookies from ‘Peace and Parsnips’

Cooking these cakes was so much fun, and I had such a great time covering the kitchen in flour(!) while sieving and grooving to a very cool album… not so much fun clearing up, but I felt compelled to share with you the experience anyway and post some pictures so that you can be with us from afar!

I love baking, and I tend to start with a recipe from a cookbook and see what happens…. Sometimes I go way off-piste and create something totally new, other times I stick to the recipe religiously. Both are interesting and produce unexpected results…!

The blueberry slices recipe originally came from ‘The Vegan Baker’ by Dunja Gulin and I changed it in a couple of places, but gosh I recommend you try it! I munched on a quick slice with a cup of tea this afternoon (pure research you know, checking to see if they were cooked properly..!) and they were delicious!

Lee’s birthday blueberry spelt slices

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The bits

260g/2 cups unbleached spelt flour

65g/ ½ cup plain wholemeal / wholewheat flour

1 teaspoon bicarbonate of soda

1 ½ teaspoons baking powder

¼ teaspoon salt

¼ teaspoon vanilla powder

¼ teaspoon ground cinnamon

a few pinches of ground turmeric

250ml plain soya yoghurt

30ml soya milk

170g / 2/3 cup maple syrup

100g coconut oil

freshly squeezed juice and zest from one lemon

1 teaspoon apple cider vinegar

2 cups blueberries

Do it!

Sift the dry ingredients into a bowl and mix together (that’s the flours, bicarbonate of soda, baking powder, salt, vanilla powder, cinnamon and turmeric).

Combine the wet ingredients in a separate bowl (that’s everything apart from the fruit, because that goes on top). You may need to mash the coconut oil with a fork a little to get it to mix.

Mix them together really gently keeping the air inside the mixture, if it looks a little dry here you can add a tiny more soya milk.

Gently spoon into a baking pan (23cm x 30cm is best) and get it fairly level without squashing the mixture down (the aim is to keep the air in the mixture). Scatter the fresh blueberries over the top making sure there are gaps between to stop the cake going soggy.

Put the cake into pre-heated oven (180 degrees, gas 4 or 375 farenheit) for 30-35 minutes and when it comes out it should be golden on top.

Allow it to cool in the pan and once it is nearly cold gently lift onto a wire rack. When it has cooled completely you can cut it into squares. Mine were nice big squares and I got 16.

serve

Drizzled in maple syrup…Yummm!

Enjoy the pictures, and if you have a chance and would like to leave Lee a message that would be fabulous!

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Have a great Day,

Love Jane Xx

Ps Thanks Dunja for great recipe idea from your book 🙂 Love it!

Categories: Recipes, Special Occasion, Treats, Uncategorized, Vegan | 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

What is a Flax Egg? and Other Vegan Egg Substitutes

This is!  (Flax Egg)

This is! (Flax Egg)

THE VEGAN EGG

A flax egg is basically 1 tbs of ground flax seeds mixed with 2-3 tbs of water. Left to sit for around 15 minutes, it becomes gloopy and a little egg-like. Ideal for binding vegan baked fare and highly excellent from a nutritional point of view.

The flax seeds should be as well ground as possible, depending on the equipment you have to hand.  It is best to use something like a high powered food processor or coffee grinder.  We use the later after a good rinse (old coffee grinders smell a little like ashtrays, have you noticed?)  We also try to use a pestle and mortar and after lots of elbow grease and caveman grunting; pounding and crushing, we were left with the consistency above. Namely, not very ground up at all. They are hardy little suckers, maybe it’s because they are so full of good things.  Even when only semi-bashed, they still work well.

OMEGA 3 POWER!

Flax seeds are full, full, full of healthy Omega 3 fatty acids, one of the highest sources in nature.  In fact, flax, chia and hemp seeds contain more Omega 3’s than any type of fish, which may also contain heavy metal contaminants.  Recent studies show that baking or cooking these fats is no problem, these amazing polyunsaturated fats will not wilt in the heat.

One of their main uses for the Omega fats in the body is to aid and stimulate metabolism.  Omega 3 fatty acids have been shown, in tests (by people wearing white coats clutching clipboards) to help with cumulative conditions such as heart disease, high blood pressure and strokes and can also assist with inflammation and may potentially help with cancer and mental health.  None of these ‘white coat’ tests seem conclusive but we can be sure that Omega-3’s (and their sibling linolenic fat, Omega 6) help with the healthy development of brains, eyes and nerves.  Other fatty acids in flax seeds give us shiny hair, strong nails and keep our cells firing on all cylinders.  Do I need to go on……………….!!!!  They’re great!

Glorious flaxseed (or is it a linseed?)

Omega 3 fatty acids come in different lengths, and without getting too scientific (because I am a cook), the longer the chains (called EPA and DPA), the easier it is for the body to synthesize these glorious fats.  Plants provide our bodies with short chain fatty acids (ALA), which can be converted into longer chain fatty acids (with more bonds open for chemical reactions) but the conversion rate depends on whether you are male or female, your age and on your diet.  Flax seeds contain roughly 10 times more omega 3 fats per serving than fish, so there is a pretty good chance you will be getting a good dose of the finest EPA’a and DPA’s if you use things like flax eggs, to regularly add flax seeds to foods; cereals, stews, baking, vegan/ veggie burgers, breads and pizza dough etc.  Once you make the decision to give up animal products, you are definitely not saying goodbye to our Omega 3 friends.

LIGNANS AND FIBRE

Flax seeds are also by far the highest source of lignans in nature (some say 800 times the amount of their nearest rivals!!!!), which basically translates as a whole bunch of anti-oxidant benefits. In fact, most people think that anti-oxidants rich foods are normally berries and brightly coloured foods, but flax seeds are well up there in the anti-ox states. Not bad for a grass. Flax seeds are almost 70% fat, but will not make you pile on the pounds. These fats are all beneficial to the body and are essential to a healthy, well balanced diet.

Flax is packed with fibre, which helps, especially in baking, when you are adding sugar to the mix. Flax seeds will help to put the brakes on sugar leaping into our systems and creating metabolic havoc and subsequent weight gain. These little seeds actually help to kickstart the metabolism, perfect morning food.  Flax seeds are widely used to help the bowels, they are cleansing and maintain ‘regularity’.  Especially good for I.B.S., diarrhea and constipation.  Try taking a tablespoon of flax seeds before a meal and you may feel fuller, reduce hunger and stimulate your digestive system.  Healthy bowels also have the knock on effect of you losing a little weight.

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1 tbs of flax seeds contains a similar amount of vitamins, minerals, antioxidants and lignans as 30 cups of Broccoli. 

Fibre wise, 1 tbs flax seeds = 30 slices of wholewheat bread 

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Wow!  What a thing.  See this great site, Healthelicious, for more in depth info.

FLAX OR LIN-SEED?  WHAT’S THE DIFFERENCE?

There is no difference, its all in a name.  Just be aware that boiled linseed oil is best for your shed or garden furniture and not for eating.  Things bought in DIY shops are normally not great on the plate!  Linseed oil is actually a brilliant wood preservative and perfectly natural, unlike the horribly toxic alternatives (creosote et al).  Golden linseeds and flax seeds (a dark reddish brown colour) are very similar things and both can be utilised in the same way.

OTHER VEGAN EGGS (!?)

There are many options out there for vegan egg-subsitutes, most come in packets and plastic wrapping. There are powders you can buy, but I have always found ground flax eggs to do the trick, they are like ‘an egg with benefits’.  As I’ve already harped on about, they are proper nutritional powerhouses.  Baking recipes with lots of eggs in are normally out of bounds for vegans, but if its something like a quiche or dished with boiled eggs in, tofu or tempeh will make for a perfect substititute.  I have used plain silken or firm tofu, blended together with gluten free flours like tapioca, potato or gram, this also works well in cakes and vegan burgers/ sausages.  It is always best to blend tofu first, as it may leave chunks in your lovely cake.  I have also used mashed sweet potato as a very funky binder.

Vital wheat gluten (or ‘Seitan’ as its called when formed into chunks) is a great addition to breads and burgers.  It  is basically flour, washed until only the gluten remains.  It acts as a string binding agent when added to things like vegan burgers or sausages.  It is, of course, highly non-gluten free and I like to enjoy it in moderation.

Chia seeds, when ground and soaked in a similar way to flax seeds, offer a decent gloopy texture and as you may know, wondrous health benefits.  Bananas and stewed apples/ fruit can also be used to replace eggs in some recipes, but non of these option offer the ‘fluffiness’ that eggs, especially egg whites can give to baked goods.

Here are some top tips from PETA on egg replacement options:

• 1 egg = 2 Tbsp. potato starch

• 1 egg = 1/4 cup mashed potatoes

• 1 egg = 1/4 cup canned pumpkin or squash

• 1 egg = 1/4 cup puréed prunes

• 1 egg = 2 Tbsp. water + 1 Tbsp. oil + 2 tsp. baking powder

• 1 egg = 1 Tbsp. ground flax seed simmered in 3 Tbsp. water

• 1 egg white = 1 Tbsp. plain agar powder dissolved in 1 Tbsp. water, whipped, chilled, and whipped again

Read more: http://www.peta.org/living/food/egg-replacements/#ixzz3BmJLmnW5

The egg-options mentioned here are a reasonable solution to the vegan baking egg dilemma with the added bonus of being amazing for the heart (and all parts of the body for that matter). See our Juicer Pulp Muffins with Pecans, Fig and Turmeric for flax seed eggs in full effect.  It is fascinating what you can do when baking vegan, and although some recipes will be slightly denser than those with eggs, the obvious health and ethical advantages far out weigh the textural differences.

And flax eggs make these, Juice Pulp Muffins

And flax eggs make these, Juice Pulp Muffins with Pecan, Fig and Turmeric

Categories: Baking, Healthy Eating, Nutrition, Vegan | Tags: , , , , , , , , | 5 Comments

Pecan and Fig Muffins (Vegan, Gluten Free, Sugar Free)

Juice Pulp Muffins with Pecan and Fig

Juice Pulp Muffins with Pecan and Fig

GLUTEN FREE, VEGAN, SUGAR FREE, LOW GI, HIGH FIBRE, …….whatever you want to call them, these muffs are very cool.

The worlds healthiest muffin?  Almost, possibly not.  The worlds strangest muffin?  Quite possibly.  The worlds tastiest muffin?  (Probably) YES!

These are muffins if Doctor Parnassus made them in his Imaginarium (any Terry Gilliam fans out there?)  Containing what can only be described as pscycedelic pulp (great name for a surfer rock band).  This is what you could call a classic Beach House post, we woke up and all of a sudden made some pink-ish muffins with turmeric in them, then thought we’d write about the experience.  I trust you don’t think any of these posts are planned or orchestrated in anyway.  This is adventure is all the food we are eating right NOW.  Steaming on the plate/ wire rack.  You can probably tell by the rushed looking photo’s, a hungry camera man is a complacent camera man.  Thankfully these freakish muffs are totally delicious, have an almost succulent texture and are happily brimming over with health giving properties and the main thing (that we almost forgot) is that they are a pleasing receptacle for your leftover juice pulp.

Yes,these sweet thangs are ‘sugar free’, although I don’t quite get this new movement.  The whole sugar free thing seems mystifying; you can’t eat one type of sugar but can eat other types of sugar.  Its like being vegan, but you can eat goats cheese because its lower in fat????  Can someone please explain the ‘Sugar-free’ craze?  Anyway, these are sugar free as they only contain dried fruit and maple syrup, which are not classed as ‘sugar’ by some.   They are of course, much better than processed, bleached, alien sugars, meaning all white sugar (which isn’t even vegetarian as it can contain bone meal!!!!).  Low GI seems the way forward, or eating fructose with fibre (like a banana) which naturally slows he absorption of sugar into the blood stream.

PULP (NON)FICTION

Jane and I would be nowhere without juice.  Our lives have changed since we got our first juice machine and we are now a happier shade of orange (too many carrot and ginger juices, you have been warned!).  We have been curious about juice pulp muffins for ages.  How can we use up all of this wonderful looking chaff.  Its almost pure fibre and we’re not eating it?  Quite a conundrum!  How can we utilise this excellent commodity, other than adding to the ever grateful compost bin.  What better way that baking with it!  We discover a great webpage that gives ‘20 smart uses for using up leftover juice pulp’ from making ‘pulpsicles’ to a face mask, there are so many creative ways of putting pulp to work.  Check it out!  We also like to add it as balast ie replacing, rice, lentils etc, to vegan burgers and patties (falafels, sausages, frisbee…….or whatever shape is being moulded), it can also be incorporated into a wholesome and frugal soup.  No doubt, more pulp-based Beach House posts are coming this way….watch this space for Pulp Gazpacho.

A bucket full of pulp derserves a home

A bucket full of pulp derserves a home

PULP NUTRIENTS VS JUICE NUTRIENTS

The leftover pulp from juicing is primarily fibre, although there are some other good things in it as no matter how good your juicer, dry pulp is virtually impossible to extract.  Too much pulp is not great for the system as the high fibre content may lead to ‘blockages’.  Some would say, and this makes perfect sense, that juicing inundates the body with concentrated nutrients that it may not be quite ready for and eating whole foods is the way forward.  We’d agree with this.  The enzymes needed to extract the nutrients of most foods can be found in the food you’re eating.  How cool is that!!!!  When we juice, we seperate the ‘whole’ food, so eating the pulp later means that all of the nutrients are not necessarily available to the body.

Another theory is that the nutrients from vegetables is in the juice and the nutrients from fruit is in the pulp.  Meaning, juice your veggies and eat your fruits.  This is due to the flavanoid content in the skins of especially citrus fruits.

This is not in anyway us angling against juicing, just give some differing opinions.  Juice is the finest way to start any day and we’d whole heartedly recommend it to anybody.  For us, it is the cornerstone of healthy, vibrant diet.  Juicing is a truly awesome way to offer our bodies potent nutrients and is a sublime wake up call to our system first thing.  How often would we normally eat 4 carrots, 2 apples, 1/2 beetroot, 2 inches of ginger and loads of kale (our juice ingredients this morning) in one sitting, especially one glassful!  You can just imagine what good that is doing our bodies and it shows the effect of bags of energy and a sense of ‘fullness’.  Normally after a breakfast juice, I won’t eat again until at least lunchtime.

These here psyco muffins are beautifully moist due to the high pulp content, we baked ours for between 35-40 minutes (37 1/2 minutes to be exact!) any more and you’d loose some of that ‘gooey in the middle, crispy on the outside texture’ that is so drop, dead gorgeous.  Also, under baking vegan/ gluten free goods will not mean that you catch anything or have dodgy digestion for the rest of the day, so there is no risk going for gooey.

Maple syrup is so precious on this hill, we did a half/ half mix between malted rice syrup and the glory sap (maple syrup).  Anything is better with more maple syrup, so go wild accordingly.  You could use any combo of dried fruits and nuts in this recipe.  With the bright purple beetroot content of these muffs, I thought at one stage that pecan and fig just didn’t go.  For some reason, they didn’t seem fun enough for pink!?  Peanut and cranberry seemed better, and still sounds nice.  Hazelnut and dried apricot, walnut and date, almond and prune……..The dried fruit used will alter the sweetness, especially if you’re going for dried dates.  I’d say this recipe is moderately sweet and would make the perfect, post juice, mid morning nibble.

If you’re not very keen on spice, omit the cardamom and turmeric (adding 1/2 teas more cinnamon), although the latter especially is one of the finest things you could ever wish to consume (health wise).  Turmeric also gives these muffins a very funky colour, especially when combined with beetroot pulp (although the raw mix hue does tame slightly when baked).  You can use most juice pulp here, but things like celery will take things in a more savoury, eclectic direction.  Things like carrot, beetroot, greens (maybe not cabbage), any fruit, ginger are all fine pulp fodder for baking sweet things.

So if you try one muffin this morning, fill it with psychedelic pulp.  Don’t worry, I’ve ate four of them whilst typing this with no obvious side effect (other than a goon like grin and a misty/ vacant look in my eyes, “Parnassus you rogue, is that you!!!!!??????”,,,,,,,,,,@).  All is well in the BHK!

Dr Parnassus himself would be proud of such a mound of goodness

Dr Parnassus himself would be proud of such a mound of goodness

The Bits

2-3 cups juice pulp (ours was beetroot, carrot, apple)

1 1/2 cups gluten-free flour (we used 1 cup rice flour, 1/2 cup cornmeal/ fine polenta)

1/2 cup vegetable oil (coconut oil is also wonderful)

1/3 cup whole bean, organic soya milk (any non-dairy milk will do)

1/2 cup maple syrup (brown rice syrup or liquid sweetener of your choice.  Adds to the crispy exterior)

3 tbs flax seeds (ground well and mixed with 6 tbs water.  Leave for 15 minutes to become gloopy)

3/4 cup dried figs (roughly sliced)

1/2 cup pecans (roughly chopped)

1/2 tbs vanilla extract

2/3 tbs bicarb of soda

1 teas ground cinnamon

1/3 teas ground cardamom and 1/2 teas turmeric (optional but awesome)

For additional oomph! and new flavour directions (especially if you’re making a breakfast style muffin):

Add 1 heaped teaspoon of ground coffee/ wheatgrass or spirulina/ lemon or orange zest – and let us know how these go……we are trying the wheatgrass version next week.

Do It

Simple as.

Mix all ingredients together in a large bowl with a trusty wooden spoon.  Form into big balls with your hands and pop into a muffin tray.  You don’t need a special muffin tray for this recipe, you can form big balls with your hand and place them on a lined and oiled baking tray and then fashioned them into a muffin shape.

Preheat an oven to 180oC (fan oven) and bake for 35-40 minutes, turning the tray/ trays after 20 minutes.  Our oven is a beast and can burn the items closest to the fan (do you have that problem?).

Leave to cool for 10 minutes on a wire rack before nobbling one or two.  Best served warm and slightly steaming.

The psychedelic interior (dampened slightly by baking)

The psychedelic muffin interior (dampened slightly by baking)

Serve

As quickly as possible.  We ate ours with some homemade blackberry and apple compote, just because it was on the hob.  I’d imagine some cashew cream or soya yoghurt would be pleasant.  You will of course need your favourite brew (that means a cuppa tea, not a beer in these parts, we are drinking alot of ‘Iron Buddha’ tea at the minute.  From China.) to hand.

Foodie Fact

Pecans.  These little beauties are members of the hickory family and like all nuts, are packed with the things we need and thrive upon.  Full of very good and useful fats, huge amounts of energy, good cholesterol and dietary fibre.  They are also rich in anti-oxidants, especially an excellent source of vitamin E which protects our cells and skin from free radicals.

Categories: Baking, gluten-free, Recipes, Vegan | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , | 24 Comments

Jane’s Easy Seeded Wholemeal Loaf

Jane on the beach this morning (Dinas Dinlle)

Jane on the beach this morning (Dinas Dinlle)

Jane has been running wild with the bread vibe recently, all kinds of doughy goodness has been rising and getting crusty around the BHK. The most impressive is the most simple recipe, which is just the way things should be.

Jane has taken a few steps out of your average bread making venture and the result is a light and crispy loaf, with decent density. It makes a great base for regular bread making and avoidance of all that strange stuff made by big supermarkets etc masquerading as bread (when we really know that some strange practices have happened behind the scenes). When you taste good quality, homemade bread, you will not be hurrying back to buy some ‘fly away’ seeded loaf from a luminous aisle. This is the real deal.  You also know what goes into your loaf, there can be some strange things done with wheat, bits taken out then added later, all kinds of additive and preservative action.

Whenever we turn the oven on, we pop a loaf in. It makes sense. Turning the oven on is a real event for us, not only does it heat our kitchen (where we have no heating!!!) it also gets our minds tuned into baked goods. What can we rustle up? Rustling things up is very prevalent in the way we do things over here on Tiger Mountain.

Last year we posted something like a ‘Simple Loaf’ recipe, but this takes things even further in the simplicity stakes. If you know of an easier way to make a decent loaf, please let us know.

Jane and I have both decided that bread is cool. We have tried going off it for lengthy periods, but in moderation, toast is a wonderful thing (especially with loads of Marmite lathered on). I don’t think either of us are gluten intolerant (although we all probably are to one degree or another). I am yet to find a decent gluten free recipe for homemade bread, I’ve tried a few, but many of them contain eggs and there is a limit to the way that silken tofu can substitute the richness and binding properties of an egg. I will keep trying though.

Serving suggestions. You have to love the way that companies incorporate a serving suggestion on most of their processed products. I was looking at a can of beans the other day and it was just a picture of a load of beans, underneath stating ‘serving suggestions’. Serve beans, as beans! Who knew!!!! Serving suggestions here are bowls of soup, try this one, or here’s another beauty or maybe a raw soup would be nice?  You can of course go old school and just toast it up and spread on some bramble jelly of even make a little crostini, with chopped tomatoes, balsamic vinegar and fresh basil or oregano.

Have you tried spelt? This is my new favourite loaf and I will be posting a recipe for my ‘Roman Loaf’ very soon. Spelt has an awesome toasty taste and is filled with nutrition and relaxed gluten. Also barley is ridiculously high in fibre, natures highest in fact and makes for a magic crusty lump.

WHOLEWHEAT OR WHOLEMEAL?

When buying flour, try to get whole meal/ wheat.  Stoneground seems to the the most traditional way of doing things.  Sometimes ‘whole meal’ is not actually ‘whole wheat’ and this can mean a decrease in the nutritional value of your loaf.  These terms change from country to country, but we are looking for wheat with all the bran and germ etc intact and certainly not removed. Some brown looking flours can be mixed with other grains, so its worth checking the ingredients.  Also look for unbleached white flour, as bleach and food just don’t mix.  In fact, bleach and life just don’t mix!  You can easily make this loaf 100% whole wheat and experiment with different types of flour (see above).  The white flour is only really there to make it lighter and tighter (if you catch my drift).  As you all probably know by now, I’m the rough, crusty flapjack side of the ‘Beach House Bakery’ and Jane is the more frilly scone and tinsel approach.  This loaf is a compromise of sorts…..

Over to Jane for the simplicity masterclass:

For one average sized loaf (you know that bread tin shape)

The Bits

500g flour (roughly 300g whole wheat, 200g white)

7g fast action yeast (roughly one sachet)

2 tbsp olive oil

1 tbsp brown rice extract or barley malt extract

1 big handful of seeds (sunflower, hemp, pumpkin, poppy…….mixture of these?)

1 1/4 teas salt

 

Do It

Mix the flour, salt and yeast in a large bowl with your hands.

Dissolve the oil and sweetener into 300ml luke warm water.  Stir this mixture into the dough.

Bring it together and turn out onto a lightly floured or oiled surface.  Knead well for 5 minutes until the dough is mixed, add the seeds now.  The dough should not be dry, and should still be sticky to the touch.  Roll dough into a fat oval shape.

Pop into a pre-oiled loaf tin and press down into the edges.  Leave in a warm place covered with cling film of a kitchen towel.  After 1 hour the dough should have doubled in size.  Make deep slashed on the top of the loaf with a very sharp knife.

Pre heat oven to 190oC and bake for 30-35 minutes, until dark golden and risen.  Loosen the edges with a spatula or pallet knife and turn out onto a wire rack.  If it is sticking, leave for a few minutes and have a go after its rested.  It will come out!  Tap the bottom of the loaf with your fingers, it will sound pretty much hollow when it is ready.  If it still feels solid and dough-filled, pop it back in for 5-10 minutes.

Leave to cool for 15 minutes before diving in.

Easy Seeded Loaf

Easy Seeded Loaf

Serve

See the ‘serving suggestions’ above.  Bread is of course best munched fresh out of the oven.  We tend to slice up old bread for croutons or crostini and freeze them.  You can do the same with breadcrumbs, which can come in very handy when making vegan bangers or burgers.

Foodie Fact

Wheat actually originates from South Western Asia and humans have been enjoying it for at least 12,000 years (and counting).   We only got it in the West when Columbus came back from his pilfering missions.

When wheat is processed, at least half of the minerals and vitamins are lost.  If we are eating pasta, breads, flours etc that are processed, we are normally getting very little of the good stuff that is present in natural whole wheat.

Wheat in its natural state is a very nutritious grain indeed, with bags of minerals like manganese and magnesium and barrel loads of fibre.   Sourdough breads are normally a better choice if you feel a gluten intolerant, they also boast better nutrition.  Interestingly, even though wheat is one of the fibre powerhouses of nature, raspberries still contain more fibre!!!!  How cool is that!  Maybe we’ll make a raspberry loaf next time……

And finally.....Buster in a box

And finally…..Buster in a box

Categories: Baking, Recipes, Vegan | Tags: , , , , , , , , , | 10 Comments

Gertrude’s Chocolate Cake filled with Dark Cherry Jam

Gertrude's Chocolate Cake filled with Dark Cherry Jam

Gertrude’s Chocolate Cake filled with Dark Cherry Jam

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

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

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

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

The Bits

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

Do It

Preheat oven to 190oC (360F)

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

Slowly add the eggs to the paste, stirring nicely.

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

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

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

Clean out bowl with finger, give to Jane.

Get Nan to smooth it over.

Slam tins on table twice each.

Place in oven, 2/3 the way up.

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

Serve

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

We Love It!

‘Cause Gertrude made it.

Foodie Fact

Eating cake makes you happy.

 

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

Dark Chocolate, Ginger and Beetroot Cake with Orange Cream

Dark Chocolate, Beetroot and Ginger Cake with Orange Cream

Dark Chocolate, Beetroot and Ginger Cake with Orange Cream

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

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

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

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

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

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

Kitchen carnage - the caking making process in full swing

Kitchen carnage – the caking making process in full swing

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

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

The Bits

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

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

Do It

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Chocolate and Beetroot Cake

Chocolate and Beetroot Cake

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

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

Serve

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

Dark Chocolate, Ginger and Beetroot Cake

Dark Chocolate, Ginger and Beetroot Cake

We Love It!

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

Foodie Fact

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

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

Jane and I heading out for a birthday dinner bonanza

Jane and I heading out for a birthday dinner bonanza

 

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

Welsh Leek, Feta and Herb Pie

PIE!

PIE!

A fine pie with influence from Jerusalem (via the Caernarfon Library) and our local hero’s; the mighty leek (a symbol of Wales-ness and great taste), our neighbour’s eggs and the humble spud.  My friend Mandy also makes a pie not to dissimilar to this one, so its a tasty mix of all these things and more!  Surely with all that input, this pie can only be amazing!

We have been getting a few leeks out of the garden, but these are proper Welsh farm leeks (the home of the mighty leek, spiritual at least).  Great leeks are a good place to start most dishes, but especially pies.  I like to put leeks centre stage, they deserve it and should not be wasted in a stock pot.

LEGENDARY LEEKS

Legend would have it that St David (the patron saint of Wales) had the Welsh army wear leeks on their helmets to differentiate themselves from some pesky Saxon invaders.  The impact of this fashion accessory stuck and it is still worn on March 1st, St Davids day.

“MR OTTOLENGHI I PRESUME”

Yotam Ottolenghi’s cooking style also makes an appearance here.  He is a real food superstar, most things he touches come to life with flavour and texture. I popped down to Caernarfon Library and picked up a few books, one of them being Yotam’s ‘Jerusalem‘, a fascinating place and a fascinating book. Brilliantly written and photographed, the dishes seem intrinsic to the melting pot of Jerusalem, with its many cultures in one little place. I particularly liked the ‘Herb Pie‘ recipe and immediately went about corrupting it to suit my cupboards and fridge. This little pie popped up and we’re glad it did. It is full of YUM, gorgeous richness of cheese, herbs, sweet leeks and onion

Lovely local spuds, getting golden

Lovely local spuds, getting golden

I was half asleep at the shop yesterday and bought puff pastry instead of filo, I think filo would have been better, but the puff sufficed!  I would like to think one day I will make my own puff pastry and my own filo pastry, I would also like to think one day I’ll play guitar like Neil Young and write poetry like T.S. Elliot.  Stranger things have happened!!!!!

Mandy puts Goats Cheese in her ‘Leek and Walnut Pie’, but I prefer the tang of the feta here that stands up nicely to the other flavours and has the perfect crumbly texture for this filling.

Really get your leeks, onions, potatoes etc nice and golden and sweet, this will make a great contrast with the lemon, olive and feta.  Expect a multi-cultural party in your mouth here!

CRAZY CHEESE

You can really go crazy with the cheese here and Yotam put three cheeses into his pie (he seems to put three cheeses into alot of things).  Obviously we are working on a different level to Yotam and felt that one was more than enough, with a couple of blobs of good creamy Greek yoghurt to add a creamier feel.

LITTLE TIP – LEEK CLEANING

I find the easiest way is to cut off the very tops of the green leaves and check for any dodgy looking wilted leaves.  Then chop the leek, discarding the root end and loosing the hard outer leaves, you’ll be able to feel what I mean when you do it.  Then place in standing cold water and give them a good wash.  Sieve out and double check that no grit or dirt remains.

Cleaning and chopping a leek this way allows you to get the most out of the green bit, which is packed with flavour and all to often shown the bin.

MORE BEACH HOUSE FLAVOUR HERE:

Radio Tarifa Tagine

Murcian Sweet Potato and Manchengo Burger

Kumato, Piquillo, Butter Bean and Coriander Salad

This is the tastiest pie I’ve ever made, try it!

Welsh Leek, Feta and Herb Pie

Welsh Leek, Feta and Herb Pie

Makes one large pie, a dish approx. 8″ by 10″ or there abouts.  Enough for four.

The Bits

8 new potatoes (cut into small cubes), 2 large leeks, 1 red onion, 5 mushrooms (most varieties will be fine), 2 sticks celery, 2 handfuls spinach leaves, 10 pitted green olives, 3 large cloves garlic. All finely chopped.

Pie filling, looking good

Pie filling, looking good already

75g fresh dill (1 1/2 teas dried dill), 75g fresh mint (1 1/2 teas dried mint), 2 free range eggs, 150g good Greek feta, 2 tbs thick creamy yoghurt, 1 lemon zest, 1 teas honey, sea salt and plenty of cracked black pepper

1 pack of puff pastry (one roll or however you buy it).   1 tbs oil (for brushing)

Leeks, softening

Welsh Leeks, softening

Do It

Get some colour on your potatoes, in a large frying pan, add 1 tbs of your cooking oil (your choice here!) and fry off your potatoes for 10 minutes, getting some nice golden brown tints. Set aside.

The filling getting together

The filling getting together

In the same pan, add 2 teas more oil and get your onions softened, 3 minutes cooking, then add your leeks, celery, mushrooms, garlic, cook for a further 3 minutes until all is getting soft.

Then add your olives, spinach and cooked potatoes and then all your filling bits.  Stir in and warm through for 10 minutes on a low heat.  Cover and cool, now sort the pastry.

Pre-heat fan oven to 180oC

Roll out your pastry sheet to fit your pie dish, we just used a pastry lid, but you may like to add a base.  We are not huge fans of loads of pastry in a pie, the more filling the better!

Place your warm filling in the dish and spread evenly, then throw on your pie lid (delicately!) and brush the pie dish edges with oil.  Now press down around the edges with gentle force, sealing the pie.  I used my thumb, you may like to use a fork.  Trim off any excess pastry and make three slices in the centre of the pastry to release cooking steam.  Now give the pie a loving brush with some olive oil and pop in the oven for 20-25 minutes.

The pastry should be nicely golden and the pie filling steaming hot.

Welsh Leek, Feta and Herb Pie

Welsh Leek, Feta and Herb Pie

Serve

With a steamed green vegetables or a nice green leaf salad with a light, sweet dressing.  The pie has a lovely lemon-ness that will go nicely with a honey/ sweet dressing.  Its a heavy pie, flavour and texture, so keep the accompaniments light.

We Love It!

We  really do you know.  Love It!  Especially this pie, which had us both ‘Mmmmming’ in unison at its sheer deliciousness and flavour combinations.   Not your average pie and all the better for it.

Foodie Fact

Leeks are alliums, basically tall thin onions with a green head of leaves, they are used all over the world and don’t just feature in Welsh pies!  Leeks contain many vital vitamins and allicin that actually reduces cholesterol, they also contain high levels of vitamin A.

 

Categories: Dinner, Recipes, Vegetarian, Welsh produce | Tags: , , , , , , , , , | 8 Comments

Rough Whole Grain Loaf – Our Daily Bread

Rough Brown Loaf

Rough Whole Grain Loaf – Simple, simple, simple

Our favourite loaf is so very simple, we thought it worth sharing.  There are an infinite number of bread making additions and methods, but this is the simplest we’ve found and the results are consistently great.  Most shop bought bread is nowhere near up to scratch and expensive by comparison.  We buy a great organic flour that makes around five loaves for the price of one decent loaf in the shop.

It is a very easy to get a loaf baking, a great cooking technique to have in the locker.  Bread making is a rewarding corner of the cooking world, with most bakers get up before the crack of dawn and are kneading and proofing alone in the dark.  I always imagine that they enjoy what they do and the peace and quiet of this time.  The smell of fresh bread wafting around is always priceless!

The kneading is the tough-ish bit, but is quite therapeutic and leads to well toned forearms and bulging biceps!  We call it the ‘100 hand knead’ stage, in a honour of our vintage martial arts film collection.  Its a real bread bashing workout and a great thing when approached in that way.   After kneading you will find any previous worries or concerns have evaporated.  Ahhhh, kneading is very relaxing and a little like giving your dough a good massage.  I do love making bread, there is something very primal about the whole process.

I think, therefore I bake.  Baking in general is a more cerebral approach and one that jars with me. I was never a fan of chemistry at school, all that fiddling around with pipettes and test tubes. Baking reminds me of that really, its a little precise for my liking. I do enjoy it however, once I get around to it and my experiments are rarely predictable!  Bread making is quite different from frilly cup cakes though.

Jane and I don’t eat alot of bread, we tend to save it for a special treat and today we are celebrating Sunday. We’re both off work and ready for some home baked foods.  Bread is  so simple, there is no use scrimping on ingredients.  Get great, organic flour if you can and a good live yeast.

Our main problem at this time of year on the Beach House is heat.  We don’t have much!  It can be difficult to get our bread rising in warm place, beside the fire can be too hot, we’ve tried the oven on the lowest setting and that half baked the dough.  We are now trying the airing cupboard, seems like a logical place to put food!

Whole brown flour loaves can be a little on the heavy side, we use very strong flour.  It makes for great, dense toast.  If you want to lighten things up, add a quantity of white flour (depending on how light you like it).  If you’d like to make it richer, add a tbsp of butter or good oil.

The important thing here is the whole grain wheat element.  If you buy flour or bread that claims to be wholewheat, it isn’t always whole grain and that is where most of the good nutrition within flour is.

Regarding gluten-free-ness, well this isn’t, but can easily be adapted to using spelt and other flours.  Jane and I have found a little wheat does us no harm at all and we feel great after munching our homemade loaves.

So here’s one of our favourite loaves, simple and lacking finesse, but you’d expect nothing more!

This recipe makes on big loaf, although we normally double the quantity and make two (one for the freezer).

The Bits

500 g strong malted whole grain wheat flour, 1 teas live yeast, 2 teas honey, 1 teas salt, 1 tbs sunflower oil, 350ml warm water

Dough rising by the fire

Dough rising by the Beach House fire

Do It

We don’t have a suitable mixer for getting the dough together, so we use our hands, old school style.

Add your flour, yeast, salt, oil and honey to a large bowl.  With one hand gradually pour the water into the bowl, with the other mix it in.

Get  the dough out onto a floured surface, now carry out the ‘100 hand knead’ which is basically kneading the dough 100 times or for around 10 minutes.  You may like to use the fist technique or the base of the palm.  Whichever suits your mood.  When the dough has a good bit of elasticity, form a ball and place in a bowl and cover with a tea towel.  Leave in a warm place for an hour, until the dough has doubled in size.

Then knead the dough again a few times , taking out the big air bubbles and then cover again for another 15 minutes.  The more handling, the heavier the dough, so be gentle.

The hundred hand knead, bulging biceps just out of shot

The legendary ‘100 hand knead’, bulging biceps just out of shot

Now pop into a tin lined with parchment or as we do, roll into a log-like shape, the odder looking the better. Make it round for a ‘cottage loaf’, each shape has a name, why not make up a new one!  Leave for another 1/2 hour to get nice and springy and light.

Pre-heat an oven to 220oc and place on a baking tray, we oil the tray if not using a tin.  Bake for around 20 minutes, check after 10 and cover with foil if the top is getting too dark.

Serve

You know how you like it!

We Love It!

Better than the vast majority of baked cotton wool that you find in shops and economical and nutritious to boot.

Foodie Fact

I see bread as a powerhouse for carbs and energy.  What a great idea someone had, grind wheat up into tiny particles and packing it into a tasty loaf, for workers and people lacking quantities of food, this was the ideal bite!

If  you are eating whole grain wheat bread then you are getting a good dose of fibre and minerals in your loaf and not just a load of refined sugars.  Whole grain bread has 4 times the amount of fibre as white.  Whole grains also release sugar into your system slower, meaning less cravings for sweet foods and other blood sugar madness.

The wheat germ also contains good amounts of vitamin E, folates and even omega fats that help the brain.

If you are not a fan of brown bread, you can buy albino grains that have all the nutrition and non of the the brown.

BUY WHOLE GRAIN!

Tunes

Heres some Rodriguez ‘Sugar Man’ to play when you’re kneading:

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

Little Bird Raw Food Cafe, Auckland

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

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

Non-baked goodies

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

I feel a raw tart coming on.

Shiny Megan, founder of the Little Bird Non-Bakery

 

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

Sun & Oat Loaf

Oat Loaf

So while the baking of the ‘Almond and Olive Oil’ cake was going on, I decided to fill the oven. Why waste all that heat.  I whipped up our staple of ‘Sun and Oat Loaf’.

Normally I would just use oats, we are limiting the amount of gluten we eat, but this one was for Mary’s birthday meal and I know that Mary likes her bread.  So this is a compromise.

This little loaf is really easy to get together and toasts up a treat, an ideal substitute for other loaves.

You can add anything to this loaf to flavour it, we have tried beetroot (of course!), dried fruits and nuts, apple and cinnamon, spices etcetc……..

If you are gluten-free, this works well with polenta replacing the flour.  Even gram flour is ok, but it can get a little dry (although still very tasty).

If you are not using an oven, you can cook this in a pan.  Just get a good-sized frying pan with a nice glug of oil, heat on medium, add mix and spread well, cook for 15 mins on one side and the go for a mighty flip (which is tricky!) or just stick under a grill (low heat) and cook until golden.

The Nantlle Valley, our back garden view

Here goes the oven variety…..

The Bits

It really depends on how big you’d like it.  We use a standard sized loaf tin and this recipe half fills it for a decent small loaf.

2 1/2 cups of oats, 1 1/2 cup of wholewheat flour, 1/4 cup of olive oil, 1 teas bicarb of soda, 1/2 cup of sunflower seeds, 1 cup of soya milk (or your preferred milk for richness, just water is fine), s+p, extra water as needed.

Do It

Put all ingredients into a bowl and mix up with a wooden spoon. Give it a good few twists of black pepper and some real elbow love (that’s a good stir).

Add warm water as the mix stiffens, you should be left with something resembling dry, sticky porridge.

Well oil your favourite loaf pan, or cake tin, depending on your preferred bread shape. Spoon in mix and push well into all corners of the tin. Scatter a few sunflower seeds on top and press them in.

Cook at 180oC for around 30 minutes. The middle should still be slightly underdone and the outside nice and crisp and golden.

Leave on a wire rack to cool.

Serve

As you wish. We recommend it warmed in the toaster with a large bowl of homemade veg soup.  The crumbly texture of the bread means that sandwiches are not easy, but can be achieved with great balancing skills and care.

We Love It!

Oat bread seems to compliment our rough, mountainous landscape perfectly. Warmed with a little honey, it is a heavenly thing!

Foodie Fact

Oats actually lower cholesterol and are a brilliant fuel for our bodies.  They also act as central heating for our bodies on cold days.

Beetroot Oat Loaf

Categories: Baking, Dairy/ Lactose Free, gluten-free, Healthy Eating, Recipes, Snacks and Inbetweens, Vegan, Vegetarian | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Moist Almond and Olive Oil Cake

Mary at her tiger pool in the jungles near the Ganges

Yesterday was Mary’s birthday.  A special day for great cake, wine and song (isn’t everyday!).

Mary is my dear friend who I met on the old Hindustan-Tibetan Highway, somewhere in the Himalayas, India.  She now lives in a cosy log cabin close to the end of Llyn Peninsula, Wales.

This cake went down a treat after a veggie banquet of salad, roast things and Mary’s ace chickpea stew.  We hardly had room for cake, but we soldiered on anyway and ate until we could hardly stand.  Hoorah for birthday excess!

People who know me, know that I am not into my frilly little cup cakes.  I like a dense cake that has some substance and is not packed full of white stuff and butter.  This fits this bill and then some….

I had been sitting on this recipe for a while, looking for an excuse to whip it up.  I liked the sound of almonds and olive oil (although the original had pistachios instead, see link below), the polenta is also an interesting addition.  I have made many changes to the original, no sugar, but honey and dates, brown flour instead of white (we didn’t have white in), cardamom added…..etc.

I also managed to use our goose eggs from Ernie (see ‘Ernie’s eggs’ article from Easter).  It was a beast, breaking into it required a lumberjack hack with my knife and the yolk was truly something to behold.  Vivid yellow.

Ernie's giant goose egg

The olive oil here keeps the cake moist and gives it a lovely fruity flavour.  It is quite a dense cake with a subtle orange tang.  I would recommend white flour here, as it will make the cake lighter.

This will make a large-ish cake, fit for around 12 good slices.

The Bits

1 cup polenta, 1 cup of white flour (sieved), 2 cups of almonds (ground), 1 goose egg (or 3 hens eggs), 1 teas baking powder (sieved), 2 cups of olive oil (mild), 100g unsalted butter, 1 cup dates (well chopped), 1 big teas good honey, 1 orange (cut into segments, little pith) and juice of 1 lemon, 2 cardamom pods (optional) zest of lemon, spare almonds, dried fruit and sunflower seeds for decoration.

I added cardamom to the recipe, because I love it with orange.

Do It

We ground our almonds in our little coffee grinder.  This is preferable as there are some nice lumps of nut left.

In a pan, melt butter in warm olive oil, take off heat, add your orange segments and cardamom.  Allow to cool and infuse for a while (outside on the step with a lid on works).

Gently mix polenta, almonds, flour and b.p. in a bowl.

Whisk egg, date and honey in a blender.  Add flavoured butter (remove cardamom pods) and oil slowly as you blend.

Empty wet ingredients into a large bowl and gradually add dry mix, stirring and folding in, then the zest and juice of lemon.

The mix should be quite wet and shiny with all that lovely oil.

Put into your favourite baking tin, preferably quite a flat one and grease well (I used more olive oil for this job).  Decorate in an ostentatious way using nuts, dried berries and seeds.

Bake at 160oC for 40 mins.

The cake should be a little underdone in the middle, it finishes off on the cooling rack.  Leave to cool for 10 mins in tin, before removing to the rack.

Serve

Preferably warm, we had ours with a rhubarb ice cream.  Then another time with local Welsh yoghurt and some of Mary’s spiced apple compote.

We Love It!

Definitely not your average Victoria Sponge.  The olive oil and almonds work a treat and the sweetness of the dates with the tang of the citrus makes this a very interesting, rich little number.  One for the cool Auntie Ji in your life.

Foodie Fact

Almonds are low in saturated fats and full of calcium and magnesium, good for the bones.  They are also an intense source of phytochemicals which battle against the big ‘C’ and keep your heart ticking nicely.

Almond and Olive Oil Cake (I lost the better picture, apologise)

This is a link for the original pistachio recipe on the ‘Welsh Rarebits’ site:

http://www.rarebits.co.uk/recipes-moist-pistachio-and-olive-oil-cake

Categories: Baking, Cakes, Desserts, Recipes, Special Occasion, Travel, Vegetarian, Wales | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 6 Comments

Carrot and Beetroot Tatin, Green Lentil Stew, Orange and Mint Dressing

My Dad is visiting, he likes his food meaty, hearty and tasty. This dish seemed to fit the bill (even though it had no pork chops in it!)
We had a thorough Purple Moose beer tasting before dinner, sampling the full range (belatedly trying the Merry X-Moose Ale). This got my inspiration well oiled for cooking dinner. Like almost all of the BHK food, this required little thought, preparation and execution.
The tatin works a treat with the sweetness of carrot, onion and beetroot being lifted by the touch of balsamic and orange. You can do the tatins individually, but one large one is easier and much more impressive when you flip it out (queue a few ‘ooohhhhhhsss!)
The green lentil stew would be better with puy lentils, but they were expensive. Your humble green lentils still have a nice bite with some earthy flavour. The stew is rich with butter and a the interesting addition of coriander.
The orange and mint dressing is an added dimension of flavour that balances the sweetness of the tatin.
I’m not a huge pastry fan at the minute, but this was a real treat. Dad happy munched away, without mentioning sausages of chops for at least half an hour. A major breakthrough!

We are so lucky that all of these veggies come from Hootons, the organic farm down the road.

This makes enough to sate three hungry souls……and a purple moose.

This dish will be amazing without the butter, for our vegan brothers and sisters.

Dad and I lost in a sunset and Purple Moose haze.

The Bits

Tatin
Puff Pastry (we bought ours, make your own if you prefer, enough to adequately cover your dish, needs to be snug), 1 chopped carrot, red onion and 2 beetroots (veg should fit snuggly in your dish after cooking, so add around a 1/3 more initially and allow for shrinkage), small glug of balsamic vinegar, glug of cooking oil (we use sunflower), knob of butter, 2 teas of fresh thyme, zest of 1/2 orange, juice of half an orange, 2 teas light brown sugar.

Lentil Stew
3 cups of green lentils, 1 finely chopped onion, 2 garlic cloves, big handful of chopped cherry tomatoes, 1 carrot, zest and juice of half a lemon, handful chopped coriander, 1 bay leaf, 1 knob butter, 1 teas thyme, 1 teas chilli flakes, good veg stock.

Dressing
Zest and juice of half a orange, 1/2 cup of good olive oil, handful of finely chopped mint, 1/2 teas dijon mustard, touch of honey (to just slightly sweeten), a little lemon juice (if your orange is super sweet, needs a little sourness in the dressing), s+p.

Do It

Preheat an oven, 200oC.

Lentils should be soaked for at least 6 hours in cold water.  Then bring to a simmer, add stock, bay leaf, herbs (not coriander), veggies (except toms), chilli (monitor chilli level depending on whos eating!).  Cook for half and hour, or until tender with a bit of bite to them.  5 minutes before serving, add toms, butter and lemon, stir well and just before serving stir in the coriander.

Roughly roll out and measure you pastry, should be slightly larger than the dish you are using, prick well with a fork, keep in fridge until needed. We used a heavy bottomed oval casserole dish.

Tatin Pre-bake

Heat dish for a few minutes, then take out and add your oil, butter, veggies, sugar, vinegar, thyme and season.  Mix well and bake in the oven for half an hour or until caramelised.  Then take out dish, squeeze on orange juice and a splash more oil.  Stir the veggies around to loosen and coat with the oil, make sure the veggies are packed in nice and tight (and flat), then carefully lay on your pastry case (brush top side with some olive oil), tuck in at edges, should fit nice and snug.  Put back in oven for 20 mins, or until nicely golden brown…..

Prepare dressing.  Add all ingredients to a bowl (small blender would be good for this) and mix vigorously together.  Check for seasoning and make sure its nicely citrus, to balance the sweetness of the tart.  Perfect when drizzled on all over the tart.

This is a good time to throw a green salad together.

The Voila! Moment

Take tatin out of oven and grab a serving plate that fits over the dish, place on top and skillfully using your oven gloves/ cloth, hold plate and dish together and flip over.  There should be a nice gentle thud, your tart is turned! Take off dish and viola!  A steaming, beautifully caramelised tatin in all its sticky glory.

Green Lentil Stew

Serve 

We chopped the tart up and served everything family style on the table with a nice glass of Purple Moose (flavoured with elderflowers!) and a green salad (rocket, romaine lettuce, cucumber and mint).

We Love It!

This was a proper feast for St Georges Day.  The patron saint of England (I am English) and countless other countries, including Syria, Serbia and the isle of Gozo.  Strange day really, celebrating the slaying of a dragon?!

Foodie Fact

You know we love our beet!  The greens of beetroots contain more nutrition than the roots and a higher iron content than spinach.  Beetroot is a great blood cleanser and builder for the blood.

Boozie Bit

Purple Moose all the way here!  Dad is now their newest no. 1 fan and he knows his way around an ale.  The Dark Side of the Moose was is my favourite and Dad is a fan of the Bog Myrtle Ale (a unique little number).  These beers seem to compliment anything!

 

Categories: Baking, Dinner, Dressings, Local food, Organic, Recipes, Special Occasion, Vegetarian, Welsh produce, Wine and Booze | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 7 Comments

Baked Sweet Potato Falafel with Aioli


I am so inspired by you all, fellow food bloggers and good people of blog world.
I was just reading a brilliant veg blog (www.impeccabletasty.blogspot.co.uk) and came across an old friend.  An orange, falafel shaped friend.
This is a favourite from my days with Leon down in old London town. A great substitute to the fried and sometimes dry chickpea versions of falafel.  The sweet potato makes the falafels moist and hopefully slightly caramelised and gooey in the middle. Delicious!
With a creamy aioli, a little green salad (adding avocado here is a nice touch) and warm bread of your choice (we used to wrap it in a wholemeal pitta with some gherkin slices) and you have a form of food perfection on your hands. Yum.
For the source of this inspired bit of meddling, see the Leon Cookbook (www.leonrestaurants.co.uk), it’s packed with all sorts of deliciousness.
One thing, this is not really falafel and the aioli is not really aioli. They are healthier versions and I dare say, even tastier!

Do It

Lifted straight from the Leon Cookbook

2 medium sweet potatoes (orange inside), around 700g or 1 1/2 pounds in total

1 1/2 teaspoons ground cumin, 2 small cloves of garlic, chopped, 1 1/2 teaspoons ground coriander, 2 big handfuls of fresh cilantro/coriander, chopped, Juice of half a lemon, a scant cup (120g) gram /chickpea flour, a splash of olive oil, a sprinkling of sesame seeds, salt and pepper

Preheat the oven to 425F degrees (220C) and roast the sweet potatoes whole until just tender – 45 minutes to 1 hour. Turn off the oven, leave the potatoes to cool, then peel.

Put the sweet potatoes, cumin, garlic, ground and fresh coriander, lemon juice and gram/chickpea flour into a large bowl. Season well, and mash until smooth with no large chunks. Stick in the fridge to firm up for an hour, or the freezer for 20-30 minutes. When you take it out, your mix should be sticky rather than really wet. You can add a tablespoon or so more of chickpea flour if necessary (the water content of sweet potatoes varies enormously).

Reheat the oven to 400F/200C. Using a couple of soup spoons (put a well-heaped spoonful of mix in one spoon and use the concave side of the other to shape the sides) or a falafel scoop if you have one, make the mixture into falafelly looking things and put them on an oiled tray. Sprinkle sesame seeds on top and bake in the oven for around 15 minutes, until the bases are golden brown.

Makes about 18 falafel, enough for 4 – 6.

Aioli……simple as……greek yoghurt (soya yoghurt will do nicely for vegans), dash of water to thin out (double cream style), squeeze of lemon, cracked pepper and salt, 1 tbsp minced garlic, 1/2 tsp of dijon mustard, splash of olive oil, mix well with spoon, preferably leave in the fridge overnight.

Serve

See above.

We Love It!

Leon are lovely people with even lovelier food.  These falafels are a modern classic.  This recipe can also be made with purple sweet potatoes (if you can your hands on them).  Keeps things interesting!

Foodie Fact

Sweet potato are ace sources of beta carotene.  When eaten with a little fat, our bodies are much better at absorbing this vital nutrient.  Although they are potatoes (although a totally different family from your average spud) the sugar in sweet pots absorbs slowly into our blood, giving them a surprisingly low G.I. (Glycemic Index) Rating.

Sweet Pots are one of the vegetable worlds finest Vitamin A providers.  Sweet!

Falafel kisses to you allX

(PS – Thanks to the good folk at Impeccable Taste blog for the above falafel photo, which is far better than any photo I could have taken.)

Categories: Baking, Dinner, gluten-free, Healthy Eating, Low G.I. (glycemic index), Lunch, photography, Recipes, Snacks and Inbetweens, Vegan, Vegetarian | 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, Dairy/ Lactose Free, Desserts, Healthy Eating, Low G.I. (glycemic index), Recipes, Snacks and Inbetweens, Treats, Vegetarian | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Abigail’s Apple and Pumpkin Vegan Loaf

The heavyweight cake

This is cake in loaf shape.

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

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

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

I used honey instead of agave, which I prefer.

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

The Bits

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

Do It

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

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

Serve

With a dollop of creamy yoghurt.

We Love It

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

Foodie Fact

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

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

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