Tuesday, 31 August 2010

Lentil soup with chickpea dumplings

Sometimes you've just got to have dumplings.  Yes, another day and another craving for comfort food - at least today I can admit the cause of the cravings is that I am 12 weeks pregnant :)  So yes, that's why the diet has been abandoned and my creativity in the kitchen took a bit of a dip whilst I was in the throes of morning sickness!  I'm now coming out the other side, but craving the stodgy stuff that would do nothing but pile on the weight.  So I decided to see if I could come up with a lower carb, wheat free equivalent to dumplings.  I was slightly hampered by not having any veggie suet in the house but it worked fine with regular margerine.

The soup is my 'whatevers in the fridge that needs eating + lentils' recipe; today we had two bunches of salad onions, carrots, celery and a green pepper which were fried in olive oil with a little garlic.  When they're starting to brown add a cup of red lentils and cover with stock then simmer for 20 minutes or so until the veggies are tender and the lentils are mushed.

Chickpea Dumplings
4 ounces of gram flour
2 ounces of veggie margerine
1/4 cup of rice milk
1/2 tsp of baking powder

Put the gram flour, baking powder and marg into a bowl and mix with your fingers until you get a breadcrumby texture.  Add enough of the rice milk to make a soft dough.  Spoon this onto the top of your cooked stew, cover with a lid and let simmer for another 20 minutes or so until the dumplings are puffy and solid.


Friday, 27 August 2010

Gluten Free, Vegetarian Toad in the Hole

Because of my dietry quirks, I sometimes end up making a dish with ingredients that are so far removed from the original that you wonder if you can really call it the same thing.  But tonight I really wanted to eat toad in the hole.  I craved the soft stodginess of the middle and crisp edges of the outside.  The salty flavours in the egginess of the batter.  Now I have made veggetarian toad in the hall quite succesfuly with Quorn sausages before, but that wasn't what I wanted tonight.  No.  Tonight I wanted roasted veggies.

I started with a past its best aubergine, half a butternut squash, some almost at the end of their useful life mushrooms, a few cherry tomatoes and a couple of onions that were chopped into small pieces, tossed in rosemary infused olive oil and then roasted for 30-40 minutes at GM7.  Whilst that was cooking I whipped up a batch of this Gluten Free Popover (US term for Yorkshire puddings) batter which I've used in the past.  Combined the two in a large baking dish, back in the oven at GM8 for 15 minutes, and then down to GM4 for another 10.  Meantime I whipped up a little batch of onion gravy to go with it - although my SO declared that the toad was better without as you got the full flavours of the veggies.

Sunday, 22 August 2010

Blackberry bounty

The boys had been out blackberrying, and come back with a container full of the glistening, beautifully ripe and sweet fruit.  We still have some of last years epic Blackberry & Apple Jam so didn't need to make any more of that, and I've had a hankering to try making my own cordial for a while, so I looked for a recipe to do just that.  Most of the recipes I found asked you to soak the blackberries in vinegar for a week before making the cordial and I wasn't patient enough for that, so I used this one from the Independant although I'm not sure it shouldn't have been blackcurrant rather than blackberry!  It was simplicity itself to make, just simmering up the blackberries with sugar and water, and then straining it.  The resulting cordial was full of blackberry flavour and has gone down really well with everyone I shared it with.  I made 2 litres, and we're almost through that in just over a week!

There were a few blackberries left and I had a real hankering for a cupcake that captured that blackberry crumble and custard flavour.  In my mind I could envision soft yellow vanilla fragranced sponge swirled with blackberry goodness and after a little thinking I decided that my best shot at creating the effect was to use piping bags to swirl the two mixtures together in the muffin cases.

In practice this didn't quite work out how I'd hoped, and I could have got the same effect by adding alternate spoonfuls of mixture like a chocolate marble cake.  The end result were beautiful looking, amazingly fragranced and really delicious.  The balance of vanilla and blackberry created that perfect 'crumble and custard' flavour that I was aiming for.

Blackberry & Vanilla Cupcakes (makes 6)
4 ounces of butter
4 ounces of self-raising flour
3 ounces of sugar (I used light muscovado)
2 eggs
1 tsp vanilla extract
About handful of blackberries, pureed and strained.

Cream the butter and sugar in a bowl, then add the flour and eggs and beat until well mixed.  Divide the mixture into to parts, add the vanilla extract to one half and the blackberries to the other half.  Combine in the cake cases, then bake at Gas Mark 4 until golden.  Enjoy!

Monday, 2 August 2010

Cupcakes, cupcakes, cupcakes.

I promise, I do bake other things than cupcakes.  It's just that for a variety of reasons I haven't been too creative in the kitchen lately when it comes to the savouries and I've been reserving my creative juices for baking for events which generally means cupcakes.

First up, here are some vanilla cupcakes, topped with a white chocolate buttercream and Yorkshire Roses made from modelling chocolate that I whipped up for Yorkshire Day at our village hall.

The recipe for the buttercream was 280g each of butter and icing sugar combined, then 200g of melted white chocolate poured in.  I found this was a bit thin, and would have thickened it up a bit with some more sugar if I wasn't out of time.  The flavour was great though, very creamy!

Next up is a scarecrow cupcake cake.  My mother in law has bought Hello, Cupcake! and What's New, Cupcake?  and I think I found this design in the latter of the two and decided I wanted to try it out for Lammas.  We made it a family affair, my 3 year old baked the cakes, and we all decorated them together.  Lovely to be able to cook together and make something in honour of the harvest.

We made a slight adaptation in that I didn't use shredded wheat or crackers to mae the 'straw' and hate but instead used the modelling chocolate again.  I pushed it through a sieve to get the straw effect and used old fashioned modelling techniques to make the rest.