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.
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
Preheat oven to 170C/160C fan and line a loaf pan with parchment paper
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
Stir in ¾ of the pack of dark chocolate chips
Scoop the batter into the lined pan and smooth it out evenly. Lightly press the remaining chocolate chips over top
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.
Cool for 10 minutes in the pan then transfer to a rack for another 30 minutes for them to set
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!
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
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.
Cream the butter and sugar together in a large bowl and make sure the mixture is soft and fluffy.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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)
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
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.
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.
Add chopped onion, sweat it gently, stirring from time to time until it gets almost soft.
Add garlic, ginger and fresh chilli. Cook for 2 minutes stirring frequently so that ginger does not stick to the pan.
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.
Add passata and 60 ml of water. Cook for 2 minutes.
Add coconut milk and the roasted butternut squash. Let everything come to a gentle boil and simmer the sauce for about 10 minutes.
Garnish with coriander leaves and chopped cashews. Serve with basmati rice or a roti.
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.
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
Pour the boiling water over three quarters of the dates
Leave to soak for 30 minutes
Preheat the oven to 160C fan/180C conventional
Blending together the butter , sugar and the soaked dates (including the soaking water)
Add the eggs and finally stir in the self-raising flour, salt and bicarbonate of soda
Finally stir in the remaining unsoaked dates
Pour into a 30cm square cake tin lined with greaseproof paper
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.
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
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.
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.
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.
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
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
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.
Add one serrano pepper, 1/2 the onion and curry powder and saute until softened.
Add crushed tomatoes together with juice, water, turmeric powder and ginger powder. Cook until it has thickened up, about 10 minutes.
CHICKPEA DUMPLINGS: Combine all ingredients. Form into walnut-size balls.
Add chickpea dumplings to the sauce, cover and simmer for about 10 minutes or until dumplings are cooked through.
Here’s how to make authentic-tasting Chicago deep dish pizza. Complete with the buttery crust, slightly sweet tomato sauce, and a thick layer of cheese.
Pizza Crust (makes 2):
For the pizza dough:
450g strong white bread flour
1 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon garlic powder
1 teaspoon dried thyme
1 teaspoon caster sugar
2 x 7g sachets fast action dried yeast
300ml warm water
2 Tablespoons good olive oil
Tomato Sauce for Both Pizzas:
2 Tablespoons unsalted butter
1 small onion, grated (about 1/3 cup)1
3/4 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon dried oregano
1/2 teaspoon crushed red pepper flakes (optional, but recommended)
3 garlic cloves, minced
one 28-ounce can crushed tomatoes1
1/4 teaspoon granulated sugar
Toppings for Both Pizzas:
4 cups coarsely grated smoked Scamorza cheese (or mozzarella if you can’t find it)
1/2 cup finely grated parmesan cheese
optional and what I use:handful of pepperoni or chorizo per pizza,
additional optional toppings, add enough to suit your tastes:cooked and crumbled ham, thinly sliced green peppers and/or onions, sliced mushrooms
You will need two deep dish 9×2 inch round cake pans if you are making both pizzas at the same time. You can also use 9 inch spring-form pans.
For the crust: Place salt, garlic powder, dried thyme and flour into a large bowl. Add the sugar and yeast but do not let the yeast directly contact the salt.
Pour in the water and olive oil. Mix together with your fingers.
Work the dough into a soft warm ball then slap it onto a lightly floured surface and knead for 10 minutes until soft and elastic.
Place the dough in a lightly oiled, large bowl and lightly oil the dough itself so a crust does not form. Cover the bowl with foil and leave in a warm place for about an hour until the dough has doubled in size.
For the sauce: Place butter in a medium saucepan over medium heat and allow it to melt. Once melted, add the grated onion, salt, oregano, and red pepper flakes. Once the onion has slightly browned after about 5 minutes, add the garlic, tomatoes, and sugar. Turn the heat down to low-medium and allow it to simmer until it’s hearty, fragrant and thick- about 30 minutes. You’ll have about 2 and 1/2 cups of sauce at this point. If you have more than that, keep simmering until the amount has reduced. Remove from heat and set aside until ready to be used. You may store the sauce in a tightly covered container in the refrigerator for up to 2 days if planning to make the pizza another day. You may freeze this sauce for up to 2 months as well.
Preheat oven to 200C degrees.
Assemble the pizzas: After the dough has risen, divide it into two halves. Keep one ball of dough in the refrigerator as you work with the first one. Roll it out on a lightly floured work surface, working it into a 12-inch circle. Using your rolling pin as a guide, place over a 9×2 inch deep dish cake pan. Using your fingers, press the dough into the cake pan. Make sure it is nice and tight fitting inside the pan. Trim any excess dough off the edges with a small knife. Repeat with 2nd dough. Brush the top edges of the dough with a little olive oil, which gives the crust a beautiful sheen. Fill each pizza with 1/2 of the cheese (about 2 cups per pizza), then your toppings which I’ve listed as optional in the recipe ingredients. On top of those optional toppings is the sauce. Pour about 1 and 1/4 cups of sauce on top of each. Sprinkle each with 1/4 cup of grated Parmesan cheese.
Place the cake pans on top of a large baking sheet, which will catch anything potentially spilling over the sides of the pans. Bake for 20-28 minutes or until the crust is golden brown. Feel free to loosely cover the pizzas with foil after the 15 minute mark to prevent any heavy browning and uneven baking. Remove the pizzas from the oven and allow to cool in the pans placed on a wire rack for 10 minutes. After 10 minutes, slice, serve, and enjoy.