Orange & Blueberry Cake

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b 01/02/2019

This is an all-in-one method of making a cake. It is so so easy. You literally bung all the ingredients in together and mix well and you are left with the most light and airy cake without the need to cream butter and sugar or add eggs one at a time and worry about curdling. Just stick it in, mix it up, bake it, apply to face!

The blueberries keep the cake lovely and moist and the orange zest adds loads of flavour but go crazy with whatever you have and prefer.

Ingredients:

  • 100 g (4oz) margarine
  • 100 g (4oz) caster sugar
  • 2 large eggs
  • 1tsp vanilla extract
  • 100 g (4oz) self-raising flour
  • 1 level tsp baking powder
  • zest of 1 orange
  • 150g blueberries

bb

Method:

  1. Grease and base line a 20cm (8in) sandwich tin.
  2. Pre-heat the oven to 180°C.
  3. Place the eggs in a large bowl and stir. Measure the margarine, sugar, flour, baking powder and orange zest into the egg mix and beat until thoroughly blended.
  4. Mix in the blueberries then spread the mixture evenly into the tin.
  5. Bake in the pre-heated oven for about 25 minutes or until well risen and the tops of the cake springs back when lightly pressed with a finger. Leave to cool in the tin for a few minutes then turn out, peel off the parchment and finish cooling on a wire rack.
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Chocolate & Peanut Butter Chickpea Cookie Bars

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v 10/01/2019

After too much cycling with my brother (yes, that is a thing), we decided to take a break however, our idea of a restful day somewhat differs so after failing miserably to survive in Fortnight and somehow managing to cause a glitch in the game, I decided to leave my brothers to carry on with that while I knocked up some goodies in the kitchen – a far more relaxing experience. In an attempt to satisfy everyone’s tastebuds and avoid braving the cold, it had to be something vegan, tasty and using only basic store-cupboard ingredients. Introducing chocolatey, gooey, fudgy blondies made of, wait for it… chickpeas.

This recipe is so easy. You just bung everything in a blender then let the oven work its magic. The timings in the recipe are not a typo. You really do leave the mix in the oven for an hour. The idea is the low heat and slow bake result in a fudgy dense consistency. The peanut butter and chickpeas give the cookie bars an unsurprisingly but extremely welcome nuttiness. Studded with dark chocolate chips, this bake is totally vegan and totally luxurious too.

Ingredients:

  • 1 can chickpeas, rinsed and drained
  • ½ cup peanut butter (I used a natural chunky variety)
  • ½ cup maple syrup
  • 2 tsp vanilla
  • ¼ teaspoon baking powder
  • ¼ teaspoon baking soda
  • 1 pack dark chocolate chips (reserve ¼ pack for the top)
  • pinch of sea salt

Instructions:

  1. Preheat oven to 170C/160C fan and line a loaf pan with parchment paper
  2. In a food processor (or high speed blender), add all ingredients except chocolate chips and process until the batter is a smooth consistency similar to hummus
  3. Stir in ¾ of the pack of dark chocolate chips
  4. Scoop the batter into the lined pan and smooth it out evenly. Lightly press the remaining chocolate chips over top
  5. Bake for 60 minutes or until a toothpick comes out clean. This will vary with ovens so be patient and wait until the edges are beginning to brown.
  6. Cool for 10 minutes in the pan then transfer to a rack for another 30 minutes for them to set
  7. Cut into squares.

Chocolate Salami

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salami 21/12/2018

No I haven’t gone crazy; there is no meat in here. The salami is really just a fancy name for what is essentially a boozy log-shaped refrigerator cake. This is a rich, decadent treat full of different textures and flavours. I recommend toasting the nuts lightly in the oven or in a dry frying pan before adding to the mixture for extra depth of flavour. As with many of my recipes, change the ingredients to your taste. Why not try a snickers peanut flavour, salted caramel, honeycombe, oreos and marshmallows or mincemeat even!

Ingredients

  • 250g/9oz dark chocolate (minimum 70% cocoa solids)
  • 250g/9oz amaretti (crunchy ones) or shortbread biscuits
  • 100g/3½oz salted butter, softened
  • 150g/5½oz caster sugar
  • 3 free-range eggs
  • 2 tbsp amaretto liqueur
  • 2 tbsp cocoa powder
  • 75g/2½oz toasted almonds, roughly chopped
  • 75g/2½oz toasted hazelnuts, roughly chopped
  • 50g/2oz walnuts, roughly chopped
  • 1 tbsp icing sugar, to decorate

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Method:

  1. In the microwave or in a heatproof bowl suspended over a saucepan of simmering water (but not touching the water), melt the chocolate until smooth. While the chocolate’s melting, put the biscuits into a large freezer bag, seal and bash them with a rolling pin until you have a bag of rubble – not dust. When the chocolate’s melted, remove it to a cold place (not the fridge) and set aside to cool.
  2. Cream the butter and sugar together in a large bowl and make sure the mixture is soft and fluffy.
  3. Gradually, and one by one, beat in the eggs. Don’t worry if the mixture looks curdled at this stage: all manner of ills will be righted once the chocolate is added later. Then beat in the amaretto liqueur.
  4. Push the cocoa powder through a little sieve or tea strainer into the cooled chocolate, and, with a small rubber spatula, stir till combined and then beat this into the egg mixture too.
  5. When you have a smooth chocolate mixture, tip in the chopped nuts and crushed biscuits. Fold these in firmly but patiently to make sure everything is chocolate-covered. Transfer this mixture, still in its bowl, to the fridge to firm up a bit for 20-30 minutes. Don’t leave it for much longer than this or it will be difficult to get out of the bowl to shape.
  6. Unroll and slice off two large pieces of cling film, overlapping them, so that you have a large cling-covered surface to roll the chocolate salami out on. Tip the chocolate mixture out in the middle of this and, using your hands, mould the mixture into a fat salami-like log approximately 30cm/12in long.
  7. Cover the chocolate log completely with the cling film, and then firmly roll it, as if it were a rolling pin, to create a smooth, rounded cylinder from the rough log you started with. Twist the ends by grasping both ends of the cling film and rolling the sausage-log towards you several times. Then put it in the fridge for at least six hours – though preferably overnight – to set.
  8. To serve, unwrap the cling film and dust the outside with icing sugar. Cut into slices. Best served fridge cold. Keeps for several days in the fridge dependent on will power.

Butternut Coconut Curry

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butter 20/11/2018

I made this curry when my brother, who is vegan, cycled 200 miles to visit me. It can be easily made from store-cupboard ingredients and you can add whatever vegetables and spices you prefer (broccoli works well). The creamy coconut milk is soothing against the spices and the passata makes the sauce velvety and rich. I recommend roasting and grinding whole spices if you have time but for convenience sake, ground spice is lovely too.

Serves 4 (or 1 hungry cyclist)

Ingredients:

  • 600g-1KG butternut squash, peeled and cut into equal size cubes
  • 2 tbsp rapeseed oil
  • 1 tsp black mustard seeds
  • 1 small red onion, finely chopped
  • 4 garlic cloves, finely chopped
  • 4 tsp finely grated ginger
  • 1 tsp ground cumin
  • 1 red chilli, sliced
  • ¼ tsp chilli powder
  • 1½ tsp each garam masala, ground coriander, ground cumin
  • 1 tsp each turmeric, cinnamon
  • 1 tin full-fat coconut milk
  • 1 carton passata
  • about 1¼ tsp fine sea salt
  • lime wedges, to serve
  • handful of cashews, lightly toasted (to serve)
  • a handful of coriander leaves for serving

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Method:

  1. I prefer my pumpkin caramelised so instead of cooking it in the curry sauce, I roasted it in the oven. Drizzle lightly with olive oil, sprinkled with some salt and bake on a baking tray in a 200° C oven for about 30 mins.
  2. Heat up oil on a medium heat, in a heavy bottom pan. Once the oil is hot, add mustard seeds and wait until they start popping, stirring from time to time. Wait another minute before adding onion.
  3. Add chopped onion, sweat it gently, stirring from time to time until it gets almost soft.
  4. Add garlic, ginger and fresh chilli. Cook for 2 minutes stirring frequently so that ginger does not stick to the pan.
  5. Now add all the ground spices and 1 tsp of salt. Reduce the heat to low and coat everything in the pot in spices. Stir frequently, cook for 1-2 minutes until all spices are fragrant.
  6. Add passata and 60 ml of water. Cook for 2 minutes.
  7. Add coconut milk and the roasted butternut squash. Let everything come to a gentle boil and simmer the sauce for about 10 minutes.
  8. Garnish with coriander leaves and chopped cashews. Serve with basmati rice or a roti.

Sticky Toffee Date Cake

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stick 26/10/2018

A fantastically easy and delicious recipe for a sticky toffee date cake here. This can be enjoyed hot or cold and keeps incredibly well for up to 5 days if you can resist it for that long. The dates turn into fudgy little nuggets in a moist caramel sponge for ultimate comfort. Great served with caramel sauce, custard, ice cream, yoghurt or even eaten on its own with a brew.

Ingredients:

  • 200g of dried dates, roughly chopped
  • 275ml of boiling water
  • 1 tsp bicarbonate of soda
  • 175g soft light brown sugar
  • 150g baking margarine, room temperature
  • 3 eggs, beaten
  • 175g self-raising flour
  • A pinch of salt

Method:

  1. Pour the boiling water over three quarters of the dates
  2. Leave to soak for 30 minutes
  3. Preheat the oven to 160C fan/180C conventional
  4. Blending together the butter , sugar and the soaked dates (including the soaking water)
  5. Add the eggs and finally stir in the self-raising flour, salt and bicarbonate of soda
  6. Finally stir in the remaining unsoaked dates
  7. Pour into a 30cm square cake tin lined with greaseproof paper
  8. Bake for 30-40 minutes or until firm to the touch
  9. Allow to cool , cut into squares and serve

Caribbean Fish Curry

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fsh 05/10/2018

You can use any firm white fish for this – cod, haddock and hake all work well. Look for Dunn’s River Mild Caribbean Curry Powder in the spice aisle, or use a mild Indian curry powder instead. Such a simple dish and a welcome change from your regular curries.  

Ingredients: 

  • 4 large skinless white fish fillets  
  • ½ lemon, juiced 
  • 2 tbsp mild Caribbean curry powder  
  • 1 tbsp groundnut oil 
  • 1 bunch spring onions, sliced 
  • ginger a small chunk, finely grated 
  • 2 garlic cloves, crushed 
  • 1 scotch bonnet chilli, finely chopped [omit if a wimp] 
  • 1 red bell pepper, chopped into chunks 
  • 1 tsp of thyme leaves, chopped, plus extra to serve 
  • 400g tin coconut milk 
  • cooked rice to serve 

 Serves 2-4

Method: 

  1. Rub the fish with the lemon juice, 1 tsp of the curry powder and some seasoning and leave to sit while you make the sauce. Heat the oil in a shallow casserole or deep frying pan with a lid. Cook the spring onions, ginger, garlic, chilli and pepper for 5 minutes, then stir in the remaining curry powder and thyme and cook for 1 minute. Add the coconut milk and simmer, uncovered, for 10 minutes until the sauce has thickened. 
  1. Add the fish, pushing down into the sauce, then cover with a lid and simmer gently for 8-10 minutes or until the fish flakes easily. Scatter with a little fresh thyme and serve with rice. 

Chickpea Dumplings in Curried Tomato Sauce

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ch 13/09/2018

Think of this as an Indian-curry version of stew and dumplings. Except the sauce plays a much more flavorful part than in a traditional comforting stew. The dumplings end up gooey and steaming them in the sauce means the dumplings soak up the flavors around them.

Ingredients:

CURRY TOMATO SAUCE:

  • 2 Tbsp vegetable oil
  • 2 tsp coriander seeds
  • 1 tsp mustard seeds
  • 1 tsp cumin seeds
  • 1 serrano pepper, grated
  • 1/2 onion, grated
  • 1 1/2 Tbsp curry powder
  • 1  tin whole tomatoes crushed
  • 1 cup water
  • 1/2 tsp turmeric powder
  • 1 tsp ground ginger
  • 1 tsp peanut butter

CHICKPEA DUMPLINGS:

  • 1 cup chickpea flour
  • 1 serrano chilli minced
  • 1/2 onion grated
  • 1/2 fresh coriander, chopped
  • 1/4 cup vegetable oil
  • 1/3 cup yogurt [dairy or non-dairy if vegan]
  • 1 tsp salt
  • 1 tsp peanut butter [optional but recommended]
  • a pinch of baking powder

Instructions:

  1. CURRY TOMATO SAUCE: Heat 2 Tbsp vegetable oil in a pan over medium-high heat. Add coriander, mustard and cumin seeds, and cook until seeds pop, about 1 minute.
  2. Add one serrano pepper, 1/2 the onion and curry powder and saute until softened.
  3. Add crushed tomatoes together with juice, water, turmeric powder and ginger powder. Cook until it has thickened up, about 10 minutes.
  4. CHICKPEA DUMPLINGS: Combine all ingredients. Form into walnut-size balls.
  5. Add chickpea dumplings to the sauce, cover and simmer for about 10 minutes or until dumplings are cooked through.