Chestnut Truffles

Chestnut Truffles

What do you do when you have a mysterious can of chestnut puree in the back of the cupboard? Invent some chocolate chestnut- truffles of course! These are very simple to make and will please even the hardiest of vegan-vilifiers.

Ingredients

1 can unsweetened Chestnut Puree (about 2 cups)
3 tbsp + 1 tsp Cocoa Powder
1/2 cup Icing- Sugar
a few drops vanilla extract
extra Icing Sugar and Cocoa for dusting

How To Make

Put all the ingredients in a large mixing bowl (except for the extra icing- sugar and cocoa for dusting).

Using a wooden spoon or spatula, mix all the ingredients together until well combined.

Truffle Mixture

Now, cover the mixture in cling film (cellophane, saran wrap) and leave for at least half an hour to firm up. You can do this either in the fridge or (if where you live is cold enough), out on the counter.

When it’s time, sieve some cocoa powder and a small amount of icing- sugar onto a plate ( I used more cocoa than icing-sugar to dust with which gave a good bitter contrast to the sweet centre of the truffle). Using your fingers, break off a small lump of the truffle mix and roll it into a ball-ish shape in your hands. Finally, roll the ball in the cocoa/icing-sugar mix on the plate and now you have your very own Chestnut truffle!

Rolling a Truffle in Cocoa and Icing Sugar

Repeat until all the mixture is used up, I made about twenty or so, but I’m not sure exactly, as I ate a few along the way.  The truffles can keep in the fridge for a couple days if necessary.

14/08/2009 at 18:23 5 comments

Date Me Dumplings!

Delicious Date Dumplings

Oh the happiness such tiny things can bring! I have completely surrendered myself to these gooey-chewy balls of sweet deliciousness. Yum. If you like dates, and as far as i’m concerned you’d be mad not to, then you cannot fail to love these. There used to be an amazing South African Deli by the name of Ndbele, (in Edinburgh, Scotland). The first time I went there I was extremely happy to find a beautiful vegan sweet-potato cake, which tasted so good, that I phoned them a few days later and begged them for their recipe, but to no avail! They also made fantastic date balls, and so it is to them I owe  my inspiration (and happiness) for the recipe below.

Ingredients

20 whole Dates ( I think Sun Dates are the best- they are gungy and taste like fudgy-toffee)
Seebe Sorkh Sun Dates from Tehran
4 gluten-free plain Biscuits
vegan Margarine (if necessary)

(N.B. When I say ‘Biscuits’ I mean British biscuits, not American ones which are similar to English scones. I used some dry and crumbly gluten-free ‘Golden Crunch Biscuits’ that I bought in a moment of biscuit-needing desperation from a supermarket, and which turned out to be less than exciting on their own, but they worked perfectly for this recipe.)

How To Make

Remove the stones from the dates and chop the flesh and skins finely.

Mash lightly with a fork, until all the fruit has combined to a sort of sticky blob.

In a bowl, break up the biscuits and crumble to remove any large pieces.

Add the date mass to the crumbled biscuits and mix thoroughly.

Biscuits and Dates

At this point, depending on the type of dates you are using, the mixture may be too dry so you may want to add a small amount of melted vegan margarine to help the mixture stick together. (The final ‘dough’ should be squidgy and sticky to touch, but still firm.)

Date Ball 'Dough'

Once the ingredients are properly mixed in and there are no visible biscuity crumbs to be seen, cover a chopping board or other surface in grease proof paper. Tear off small amounts of the ‘dough’ mix and roll in your hand to form a small ball, about the size of a large marble. Place your dumpling on the chopping board or surface, and repeat until all the mixture is used up. ( I made about 16 dumplings).

Date Dumplings

Now, you can either EAT THEM ALL straight away, or if you are more restrained, wrap in grease proof paper and put in the fridge. They can last well for a few days like this, becoming firmer over time.

05/08/2009 at 17:58 Leave a comment

Egyptian Broad Bean and Fresh Mint Falafel

Broad Bean Falafel with Spicy Yoghurt Sauce and Salad

The best falafel I ever ate, came from a small Middle Eastern cafe in Berlin. These hot and crispy chickpea patties, full of delicious herbs and spices, were served with a huge array of sauces and salads. In particular, I remember an amazing taboule, made completely from fresh herbs and diced tomato. All this wrapped up inside a soft, freshly made flat bread (N.B.: this was well before my gluten-free days!). Most people when they think of falafel probably think of something made with chickpeas, similar to what I just described. In fact, they originate in Egypt, where they are made using raw, soaked and ground up broad beans (Foul Medammes) mixed with herbs and spices, and then deep fried. I have stepped away from tradition slightly in my recipe below. The broad beans are first boiled, and the falafel are then later baked, for a healthier twist.

Serve with a simple diced tomato, cucumber and fresh herb salad, and this spicy yoghurt sauce with coriander and lime.

Ingredients

4 cups Broad Beans ( measured after soaking, boiling and removing skins)
3 medium Carrots
1 medium Courgette
1 medium Onion (diced)
4 or 5 Spring Onions
4 Garlic Cloves (finely chopped)
3 tbsp Tamari
2 to 3 tsp Ground Coriander
juice of 2 Lemons
handful Fresh Mint
2 tbsp Tahini
about a 1/4 cup Olive Oil (for drizzling)

Preheat oven to 200ºc

How To Make

Soak the dried broad beans for two days in a bowl of water, rinse and refresh with clean water every now and again. Once the beans are fully re-hydrated, boil on a low heat until tender. Drain and rinse in cold water to stop cooking. Next, remove the outer skins (these should pop off easily if the beans are cooked enough), and discard. The broad beans are now ready to be used.

Into a large bowl grate 2 of the carrots and courgette. Peel and finely slice the spring onions, and add to the  bowl along with the onion and garlic.

Grated Carrot, Courgette and Spring Onion

Add the ground coriander, lemon juice and tamari to the mixture, and throw in the fresh mint.

Using a hand blender, blitz the mixture until it is homogenised. Finally, grate in the remaining carrot, and set the mixture aside. (If you have a large blender you can use that instead, I just happen to have a hand-held one.)

Put the broad beans in a separate bowl and blitz to a smooth paste.

Add the vegetable mixture to the bean paste, dollop the tahini on top and stir till completely mixed through.

The resulting batter should be firm enough to hold its shape on a spoon, but still moist. If it is too dry, the falafel will turn out very crumbly;  if it is too wet, they will not hold their shape or cook through properly. (If it is too wet, add extra broad bean paste (if there is any spare), or more tahini. If it is too dry, try adding an extra carrot or lemon juice.)

Falafel 'Batter'

Now, cover the falafel ‘batter’ and place in the fridge for at least an hour.

How To Cook

Cover an oven pan with tin foil ( you can first spray it with water if necessary, to help it stick in place). Drizzle on a small amount of olive oil, making sure all the foil is covered.

Using a dessert spoon, scoop up some of the falafel mix. Take a second spoon and cup it over the first. From back to front, scrape the mix onto the second spoon in one movement. Repeat this a few times until the falafel becomes something like the shape of a brazil nut: oval, with three flattened sides.

How To Shape Falafel

Place the falafel into the prepared oven pan. Repeat this until you have as many falafel as you need.

Bake in the oven for around 20-30 minutes, or until they are fairly firm and golden brown. Remove from the pan with a spatula. (For a crispier but less healthy version you could  deep fry these, dropping the shaped batter into very hot oil, until golden brown.)

Falafel Ready for Baking

06/07/2009 at 20:01 Leave a comment

Spicy Yoghurt Sauce with Coriander and Lime

Spicy Yoghurt Sauce with Corainder and Lime

Ingredients

about 1 cup Plain Soya Yoghurt
juice of half a Lime
heaped 1/2 tsp Ground Coriander
1/4 cup Fresh Chives (finely chopped)
1/4 cup Fresh Parsley (finely chopped)
2 Garlic Cloves (finely chopped)

How To Make

Pour the yoghurt into a bowl, add the chopped garlic, fresh herbs and coriander.

Squeeze in the lime juice and stir until all the ingredients are mixed together.

Done!

Try with these Egyptian broad bean and fresh mint falafels,  as a dip with carrots or even as a healthy sour cream alternative with chilli nachos.

05/07/2009 at 22:33 Leave a comment

Banana Bread

Banana Bread

Is it sweet or is it savoury? Who cares! I don’t, not when it tastes this good anyway. I’ve been thinking longingly about banana bread for quite some time now, but having those perfectly ripe, slightly gooey bananas just hanging around never seems to happen in my life. Until yesterday that is, when I came across a pile of them in my local shop, just begging to be baked into a scrumptious golden loaf. And so, I set about creating a recipe. It is fairly low in sugar and fat so is leaning on the more savoury rather than sweet side of things. However, if you want your banana bread to be oozing and sticky-sweet then adding double the sugar and margarine would be fine too…

Ingredients

3 medium very ripe Bananas
2 cups Gluten-free Plain Flour
1/4 cup Vegan Margarine
1/2 cup Muscavado Sugar
1 tsp Baking Soda
2 tsp Xanthum Gum
pinch Salt
1 tsp Cinnamon
1 tsp Vanilla Extract
1 tsp Cider Vinegar
1/2 cup Soya Milk (or water)

(N.B.: If the flour mix that you are using DOES NOT contain tapioca flour, I suggest adding 1/2 cup tapioca flour and scaling down the other flour appropriately.)

Preheat oven to 175ºc

How To Make

Put the flour, salt, baking soda, cinnamon and xanthum gum into a bowl and mix thoroughly.

In a separate bowl, mash the bananas till they become sloppy. Next, add the sugar and vanilla extract and stir till all the sugar has dissolved into the banana and there are no lumps left. Pour in the soya milk along with the cider vinegar and mix again.

Heat the margarine in a pan over the stove, then when completely melted, pour over the banana mixture and stir through quickly.

Now add the banana mix to the flour mix and stir until well combined. At this stage, if you feel the batter/dough is too sloppy, add a little extra flour. Alternatively, if you find it to be too dry add a little more soya milk or water till you get the right consistency.

What you are aiming for is somewhere between a very thick cake batter and a fairly gloopy bread dough; not runny but not firm and dry either.

Lightly oil a bread tin and dollop the mixture into it, make sure it’s evenly spread about. Break up the pecans and sprinkle them on the surface then stick the tin in the middle of the oven for about 60 minutes, or until a knife inserted comes out clean.

Turn out onto a wire rack and allow to completely cool before slicing. This helps retain the moisture in the bread so it will stay fresher for longer.

Delicious!

Banana Bread Fresh from the Oven

04/07/2009 at 18:34 Leave a comment

Chilled Butter Bean and Grilled Vegetable ‘Moussaka’

grilledvegmousaka

For the last few days it has been absolutely sweltering where I live, which by the way is very unusual indeed! So, along with searching through my clothes for something that won’t stick to me as soon as I get outside, and lathering myself in suncream constantly, I have been eating a lot of cold food.  Salads of course are brilliant, but now and then I want something a bit more substantial, so here it is. This dish is good for making a day ahead as all the flavours infuse over time. Makes delicious leftovers too!

Ingredients

3 medium Courgettes
4 Peppers (red, yellow or orange)
1 medium Aubergine
3 or 4 small Sweet Potatoes
bunch of French Green Beans
2 tins of Butter Beans
2 tins chopped Tomatoes
1/2 cup Black Olives (roughly chopped)
2 Onions
4 Garlic Cloves
2 tbsp Tomato Puree
1 heaped tsp Muscovado Sugar (or Agave Nectar if you prefer)
handful fresh Basil
heaped tsp dried Oregano
1/2 cup Red Wine
1/2 cup Olive Oil
juice of half a Lemon
Salt and Pepper

How To Make
This recipe is very simple to follow but has several parts to it, so I’m going to begin with the preparation. Once you have that out the way, the rest will be easy. I should also point out that because this dish will be served cold, there is no need to stress out about doing everything at once, and keeping it all warm.

Preparation

Start by peeling the sweet potatoes and chopping them into chunks, ready for boiling.

Next, remove stem from the top of the aubergine and slice length-ways as thinly as you can. Rub the slices in salt and place in a water filled bowl for about 20 minutes. (This is a general tip when cooking aubergines as it helps to remove the bitterness and stops the sponge-like flesh absorbing too much oil during cooking.)

Now slice the courgettes and peppers, again length-ways and as finely as you can.

With the green beans you want to slice them length-ways down the middle (I know this is a bit fiddly but if you follow the natural ‘seam’ they have, I think it makes it less tricky).

Finally, dice the onion and and garlic, and roughly chop the olives.

How To Cook

Begin by putting the sweet potatoes on to boil in salted water; once they are tender, drain and mash them. Don’t add any liquid or oil. You may want to add salt and pepper at this point though. Once done set aside to cool.

As for the green beans, plunge them into a boiling pot of water for about 2 or 3 minutes, then drain and rinse under cold water to stop them cooking. Set aside.

Place the peppers and courgettes on a baking tray and stick under the grill. When they have started to brown you will need to turn them over and do the same to the other side, so make sure to keep an eye on them while you get on with the next part.

Sliced Vegetables for Grilling

When it’s time to drain the aubergine, rinse the slices under cold running water, layer them on top of each other and give them a squeeze to remove any excess liquid. Next place on a baking tray and do as you did with the peppers and courgettes. If you like, you could drizzle olive oil over the vegetables before they are grilled.

Drain and rinse the butter beans, place in a mixing bowl and squeeze over the lemon juice, a drizzle of olive oil and a pinch of salt. Mash lightly, you don’t want the beans to end up being a paste, just nicely crumbled and burst out of their skins.

Once you have everything else ready, it’s time to make the sauce. Drizzle some olive oil into a medium sized saucepan, add in the onion and fry until translucent and starting to brown. Add the garlic and cook for a minute.

Now throw in the tomatoes, puree, and muscovado, along with the wine and stir, ensuring the onions and garlic are well dispersed.

Add the oregano, and season to taste.

Cook this down for around 20 to 30 minutes until slightly reduced, stirring frequently.

Finally stir in the roughly chopped olives and fresh basil and heat through for a minute.

Putting It All Together

Spoon the butter beans into a deep-sided, rectangular dish and spread evenly. Follow with a layer of the sauce. Using about half of what you have, make sure it is evenly spread.

Now make a layer with the grilled courgettes, followed by the peppers, and then the aubergine, layering them in opposite directions to create a cross-hatch pattern.

Layering the Grilled Vegetables

Using the last of the sauce, make another layer and smooth it over with a spatula.

Dollop the sweet potato on top, being careful not to disrupt the layers underneath, then smooth over again.

To finish off, lay the sliced beans on top of the mash to make a pattern; I chose stripes but whatever takes your fancy!

Making a Pattern with the French Green Beans

When all is complete, leave to cool, cover in foil or cling film and place in the fridge until you’re ready to eat.

03/07/2009 at 11:29 Leave a comment

Irish Soda Bread

breadnjam

Baking bread makes me happy. Eating a slice of delicious, crumbly bread however, is a rare and special treat. There are many trials and tribulations to be crossed when attempting to bake a perfect gluten-free and vegan loaf. Seeing yet another rock hard, un-risen disaster appear from the oven can be heart breaking.

But fear not, there is salvation in the form of my Irish soda bread recipe. It’s very simple, tastes amazing (raspberry jam for breakfast, hummus and avocado sandwiches for lunch mmmm.) and has a lovely texture. It got big thumbs up from the wheat eating community too, which isn’t necessarily a bonus as I want it all to myself!

This bread will keep well for a day or so at room temperature.

Ingredients
2 cups Gluten-free Brown Bread Flour
1/2 cup  Gluten-free Plain Flour
1/4 cup Millet Flakes
pinch Salt
1 tsp Baking Soda
2 1/2 tsps Xanthum Gum
1 tsp Cider Vinegar
1 cup Soya Yoghurt
1/2 cup Water
extra Flour for baking

(N.B.: If the flour mixes that you are using DO NOT contain tapioca flour, I suggest adding 1/2 cup tapioca flour and scaling down the other flours appropriately.)

Preheat oven to 200°C

How to make

Measure flours and millet flakes into a mixing bowl. Add salt, baking soda and
xanthum gum and mix well.

Add in the cider vinegar and stir.

Pour the yoghurt into the flour mixture and stir until a dry crumbly dough forms.
At this point you will need to start adding water, a little at a time until you have a
firm and not too sticky dough. Half a Cup of water should be enough.

soda bread dough

Once the dough is ready, form into a ball and place on a  floured baking tray.
Press the dough with your hand to make a flattish round.

Using a large knife score deep into the dough to form a cross section. Sprinkle
some extra flour over the dough and place in the middle of the oven. Bake for
about 30 minutes until it makes a hollow sound when tapped on the bottom.

soda bread dough with cross section

Finally, cover with a clean tea towel and leave on a rack until cool. I know it’s hell
not to eat it hot from the oven but cutting the bread straight away will remove
the moisture leaving the rest of it hard and tough.

soda bread

27/06/2009 at 14:47 Leave a comment

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