Friday, 27 September 2013

Amazing chocolate discovery

I'm late to the party most likely but I thought it was worth a mention! I have discovered some amazing dark chocolate with no nasty ingredients, from Willie's Cacao. My favourite at the moment is Lime and Ginger but that may change, I got a pack of several flavours, a very welcome gift.

Friday, 20 September 2013

Secret Ingredient Banana & Toffee Cake

Another delightful recipe from Red Velvet & Chocolate Heartache; banana and toffee with a twist... this time the secret ingredient is butternut squash. Warm and comforting on a rain day, or any other excuse you may want, not that you really need one, its the same yumminess you know but with less sugar.

Banana & Toffee Cake
Makes 9 servings (not necessarily for 9 people!).

The ingredients
The cake
3 medium free range eggs
160g xylitol
250g peeled and grated butternut squash
1 tbsp vanilla
50g rice flour
100g ground almond
2 tsp baking powder
1/4tsp salt
80g chopped pecans
150g peeled and finely sliced banana

For syrup
50g unsalted butter
100g honey
3 tbsp boiling water

Bake in a 22cm x 5cm square tin

The method - cake
Preheat oven to 180C. Line the base of the tin with baking parchment. Grease the parchment and the sides of the tine with a little butter.

Whisk together the eggs and xylitol for about 5 minutes on full blast on an electric hand whisk.

Beat in the grated butternut squash and vanilla extract until well combined.

Whisk in the the flour, ground almonds, baking powder and salt until smooth.

With a spatula mix in the nuts banana (save a few slices of banana for the top).

Tip the mixture into the tin and the slices on banana on top.

Place in the oven and bake for 35 minutes.

Once baked, allow to cool in the tin while you make the toffee syrup.

Once the syrup has done (see below for instructions) pour the hot liquid on the cake quickly. Tilt the tin so the syrup overs the surface. It should seep in a bit, but I'm stayed on the top and became a sticky toffee layer and the cake is moist enough itself, so it was all good.

The method -syrup
In a medium saucepan melt the butter with honey, and water on a low heat until the butter is liquid.

Turn up the heat, and once at boiling point (the surface is covered with small bubbles), continue to boil hard for 3 minutes exactly (you'll need a timer).

When the 3 minutes are up, take the saucepan off the heat immediately and beat out the bubble (about 30 seconds).

Pour immediately!

Best eaten warm with vanilla ice cream or custard.

Friday, 13 September 2013

Putting pieces of the puzzle together - gluten free Mexican again

One of my favourite recipes is Chicken Fajitas - from Jamie's Ministry of Food. But its not always easy to get a gluten free holder of mexican goodness; shops sometimes stop stocking your favourite products. Ocado no longer have gluten free tacos and you don't want to trudge around loads of shops in the hope that someone somewhere will have some gluten free tortillas. So it was time to once again attempt making my own. My previous attempts had been unsuccessful, but this time was different, because I can now make Galettes. Purest will revolt as this not strictly a tortillas and a makes a french-mexican hybrid, but it works! Now we have....

Chicken Fajita Galettes! 

Note of the method: I prepared all the fajita ingredients first and left them marinating in the fridge while I made the galettes. The fajita are quick to cook. Of course, those who a skilled in multi-task cooking could do both at the same time :-) 

The Ingredients 
Makes (roughly 8 pancakes)
100g buckwheat flour
pinch of salt
300ml of water
Melted organic butter or other spread for frying

The Method 
Mix the flour and salt together.

Make a  well in the centre and gradually mix in the water. It should have the consistency of double cream by the end.

Put it in the fridge overnight, and you'll be ready to go in the morning.

Before making the galettes, whisk the batter again (add a little water if necessary).

Heat a small frying pan (15-18cm), brush with a little melted butter.

Pour 50-60ml of the batter into the pan and quickly swirl it around so it covers the bottom of the pan.

Cook for a minute, loosen the edges with a spatula and then the galette over, cook  for another minute.

Slide the galette out and add a little more butter to start all over again.

To keep the galettes warm put them on a baking tray covered with tin foil in an oven at 120C.

The ingredients
Chicken Fajita
Makes enough for 2 people
1 red peppers
1 medium red onion 
2 skinless chicken breasts
1 teaspoon smoked paprika
Small pinch of cumin
1 lime
Olive oil
Salt & pepper 
Soya Yoghurt 
Tub of guacamole
100g grated (lactose-free) cheese

For the salsa 
1/2 fresh red chilli 
15 ripe cherry tomatoes 
Small bunch of coriander
Salt & pepper 
1 lime
Extra virgin olive oil   

The method
Halve and deseed the pepper and cut into thin strips.

Peel, halve and finely slice the onion. 

Slice the chicken into thin strips. 

Put the peppers, onion and chicken into a bowl with the cumin, paprika juice of the lime, a big lug of olive oil, salt and pepper. Mix them altogether really well. Let them marinate for 5 minutes. 

For the salsa, finely chop the chilli.

Roughly chop the tomatoes and coriander.

Put all this into another bowl with salt, pepper and the juice of 1 lime. Add good lug of the extra virgin olive oil, mix well.  

Put a griddle pan on a high heat and let it heat up for a minute.

Put the pepper, onion and chicken into the griddle pan. Use a pair of tongs to keep everything moving. It will take 6-8 minutes, and then its done. 

Put a serving of the yoghurt, guacamole and cheese on each plate with half the contents from the griddle pan. 

It may seem simple but it feel good to apply new skills to old favourites and make cooking-life easier for myself. 

Friday, 6 September 2013

Cashew, Sultana & Chocolate Muffins

This recipe has been adapted from a new healthy food blog I have recently discovered, Daily Bites. This is the first recipe I have tried from this blog and I was very pleased with the results. It makes me happy when new recipes turn out well first time around. 

The original recipe says that the chocolate is optional, but for me chocolate is not an option its a requirement. Easy to make, moist and tasty muffins, yay! 

The feedback I got for these muffins, was that they don't taste healthy, praise indeed. Generally as muffins go, you can't get that much healthier, surely? 

Makes 6 muffins. 

The Ingredient
1/4 cup cashew butter (I used Meridian, you can also use almond butter)
1/4 cup virgin coconut oil (melted) 
1/4 cup honey
1 large egg
3 tablespoons coconut flour (I used Tiana Fair Trade Organic Coconut Baking Flour)
1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1/8 teaspoon sea salt
1/4 cup Sultanas
1/4 cup chocolate roughly chopped (I used 70% dark Green and Blacks, or any other good quality chocolate)

The method
Preheat the oven to 180ÂșC. 

Line the muffin tray with 6 muffin cases.

With an electric mixer, beat together the cashew butter, coconut oil, and honey until smooth. 

Add the egg and beat until smooth. 

In a bowl, mix together the coconut flour, cinnamon, baking soda, and salt. 

Add the dry ingredients to the nut butter mixture and beat to combine. 

Stir in the raisins and chocolate.

Divide the mix even among the lined muffin cups. 

Bake for about 15 minutes until golden brown and a knife inserted, comes out clean. 

Cool completely before storing or serving. 

The original recipe says you can store in an airtight container at room temperature for up to 2 days, or refrigerate or freeze for longer storage. This is good advice, but these days I like to make just the amount I need for that day and then eat them as fresh as possible!