Sugarfree Vegan Lemon Poppy Seed Muffins

First off and before we get all hot and bothered about the ‘sugarfree’ claim, there are natural sweeteners included in this recipe. Yes, some might argue that these are technically still sugar but I’m not getting into that right now. I’m only interested at this point in the fact there is no cane sugar used and that in itself is a minor triumph. All I do know is that many people cannot consume cane sugar or wish not to, so that is where I’m coming from – I hope you’ll understand and cut me a wee bit of slack. Cheers.

These muffins were made in a baking haste – the haste being I wanted something quick. And sweet(ish). And lemony. And whilst I briefly toyed with idea of making a lemon drizzle cake (I loves me some drizzle cake) I finally settled on these. They are not my greatest baking achievement but that’s what happens when you act before you think. That’s not to say they weren’t perfectly light (they were) and palatable (my husband ate four of them) but for my tastes they definitely could have been a bit sweeter.

Now, I don’t think that was anything to do with the lack of cane sugar and more to do with my conservative use of sweeteners – I was trying to use as little as possible. Of course, that aspect of the recipe can be easily ammended, as can the choice of flour…..

I’ve always had issues with spelt flour so why I insist on trying to include it is beyond me – as soon as this bag is finished I’m done. No more spelt – laters! I think it gives a very dry floury taste and even though I only used a quarter cup it still negatively affected the texture. Wholewheat would’ve been a much better choice and that’s what I’ll use next time.

Now, in my haste I forgot to stir in the frozen cranberries (doh!) hence why I popped one on the top. I’m glad I did now because it makes them look super cute – like little dipples.

I was really pleased with the appearance of these muffins and like I said they were extremely light and fluffy. With a few minor tweaks these could be a really fantastic treat. Cooking is all about trial and error and we learn from everything we make even when it doesn’t turn out as we’d hoped – especially when it doesn’t turn out as we’d hoped.

sugarfree vegan lemon poppy seed muffins

1/2 cup plain flour

1/4 cup spelt flour (sub wholewheat or even brown rice flour)

1/4 tsp bicarbonate of soda

3/4 tbsp baking soda

1/2 tsp malt syrup (I would up it to 1 tsp in future)

1/2 tsp sweet freedom or agave (again, up it to 1 tsp for a sweeter muffin)

zest 2 lemons

juice 1 1/2 lemons

1 tbsp poppy seeds

1/4 unsweetened apple sauce

1 tbsp lemon oil (or olive oil plus juice of an extra 1/2 lemon)

Pre-heat the oven the 175 degrees celsius/350 fahrenheit.

Combine all the dry ingredients in a large bowl and thoroughly combine with a spatula. Stir in the lemon zest.

Whisk together the apple sauce, lemon juice, sweeteners and oil in a separate bowl. The sweetener can be quite sticky so persevere until it dissolves.

Pour the wet ingredients into the dry and gently fold in using a spatula. Be careful not to over mix.

Divide the mixture between six silicon muffin cases and bake for 20-25mins. Check at 20 by inserting a toothpick into the centre – or thereabouts, as the cranberry might be in the way. If it comes out clean they are done. If not leave them in for a further five or so minutes. Remember every oven is different – I recommend getting a separate oven thermometer.

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And the winner is…..

Karolina! Congrats – the beautiful Nyan Nyan candle will be winging its way to you very shortly my dear.

The winner was chosen at random – I used one of those random number pickers (these things are all very new to me).

Thanks to everyone who entered. There’ll be plenty more chances to win something delightful in the future so please do keep checking back.

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Weekend Vegan Pancakes

Weekends are about chillin’ with my Hubbie (I know it should be ‘y’ on the end but I think ‘ie’ is so much cuter – just like my Hubbie). We don’t really lie in anymore, maybe it’s an age thing but we don’t seem to be able to sleep any later than 9.30. Mind you we end chatting in bed until 11 sometimes!

Getting up early at the weekends has its advantages though because we can linger longer over breakfast. Sometimes we indulge in a Full English Breakfast (vegan style, of course) or a garlic mushroom baguette (delish!) but what we love more than anything is pancakes.

I can safely say I used to be the pancake queen. Before I became vegan pancakes were always on our weekend menu and I used to love nothing better than experimenting with flours, flavours and toppings. Then I had a run of bad pancake luck, which manifested itself in many pancakes becoming glued to the bottom of the frying pan. Now, I’ll admit the aforementioned pans were pretty awful and shouldn’t really have been used for such tasks but the other, more obvious thing to blame was the new vegan pancake recipes.

Not one to be defeated easily (and quite a few disasters later) I’ve finally cracked it and I’m happy to say I’m back on pancake track. Since the new year all my pancakes have been turning out pretty great (remember my vegan banana pancakes?) and my confidence is growing again – not quite where it was but I’ll get there.

This recent lot were definitely my best vegan pancakes to date. Light, fluffy, moist and really good cold smothered in peanut butter with a skim of no sugar jam – oh yeah! For the morning though I went with a great fruity combo; slithers of mango and dainty fresh blueberries – you can’t beat it. I then topped it off with a dollop of plain soy yoghurt, a sprinkling of seeds and a drizzle of maple syrup – you’ll need very little maple syrup for these, which is another bonus.

Weekend pancakes are back!

weekend vegan pancakes

3/4 cup plain white flour

1/4 cup wholewheat flour

2 tbsp baking powder

pinch sea salt

1/4 cup apple sauce

3/4 cup coconut milk (from a carton)

1 tbsp malt syrup (rice)

1 tsp vanilla extract

1 tbsp heated oil (optional) and more for the pan

Pre-heat the oven to 150 degrees celsius/300 degrees fahrenheit.

Mix together the flours, baking powder and sea salt in a large bowl.

Whisk the apple sauce, coconut milk, malt syrup and vanilla extract and set aside.

Heat the oil in a pan. Combine the wet and dry ingredients using a whisk. Add the heated oil to the mixture.

Using a pastry brush coat the whole pan in oil and ensure it is heated well before adding any batter.

Ladle or pour a small amount of batter into the centre of the pan. When bubbles appear on top, flip the pan over using a palate knife (my preference) and cook for a further minute.

Transfer the pancake to the oven and repeat. I like to do them one at a time but I find they turn out more consistent this way.

Serve with fruit, seeds, soy yoghurt, maple syrup or anything else that takes your fancy. Definitely do try one cold too!

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Sweet Pepper and Greens Pasta Bake

I haven’t posted a pasta dish for quite a while now. I guess it’s because I think people are bored of ’em – there are literally thousands of pasta recipes on the net so why would you make mine over someone else’s?

Admittedly, I don’t make pasta half as much as I used to – my weekly menu has been somewhat paired down of late and only the very best and most delicious dishes have made the grade. You’ll be happy to know this is one them!

I first discovered this recipe on the back of a Waitrose recipe card – that was years ago now, possibly going on for a decade, which is pretty bloody scary if you ask me. The original recipe included a heap load of cheese and jar of ready made sauce. Y’see these recipes cards, whilst being very helpful sometimes, are really just a marketing ploy to try and get you to buy a certain product. I realise I’m probably stating the obvious.

I defiantly refuse to take the bait and always make (as far as I can and is possible) everything from scratch. For this particular recipe it meant ignoring the inclusion of a Sacla tomato sauce and rustling up my own version, which not only saved me money but also tasted fresher and tastier. Shop bought can never compete with homemade. Fact.

I added the kale and, of course, eliminated the cheese. I can’t even remember what cheese was supposed to be on it – probably parmesan or maybe even cheddar. Why would you want to smother all those lovely ingredients in goo? It did look a bit bare, however, so I tried topping it with various things before settling on the breadcrumbs, which is far superior and complimentary than cheese, in my opinion. My second favourite topping was sliced tomatoes so if you want to go down that route feel free, it works incredibly well also.

I also lessened the spiciness, which is an unusual move for me but again, I felt it overpowered and masked the ingredients rather than enhancing them. I’m all about the spice, by the way, so I really wouldn’t do this without good reason. If you do want to add a little extra heat though, toss in an extra minced red chilli (large) and good shake of chilli flakes – it’s your call.

I love this dish and so does my Husband and I especially like the fact I’ve been making it for him ever since we first met – it has history. Food is very evocative and a powerful memory maker. I have a feeling I’ll be making this dish for years to come and I hope you’ll now make room for it in your menu too.

sweet pepper and greens pasta bake

2 sweet romano peppers

1 bunch kale

3 cups baby leaf spinach

1 can chopped tomatoes

3 garlic cloves

1 large red chilli pepper

250g penne pasta (approx 2 cups)

for the breadcrumbs

1 cup breadcrumbs (approx 3 slices of bread pref. wholewheat)

1/4 cup pine nuts (toasted – optional)

1 tbsp dried oregano

salt and pepper

Pre-heat the oven to 200 degrees celsius/400 degrees fahrenheit and bring a large pan of water to the boil.

Heat a little olive oil in a pan/skillet. Chop the peppers into large pieces and add to pan. Season generously and allow to soften for a few minutes ensuring to stir often.

Mince the garlic and chilli pepper and add to the pan. Gently fry for a further 5 minutes until it exudes that lovely garlicky aroma. Add the canned tomatoes, season and bring to a very gentle simmer. When the tomatoes have softened sufficiently break them up with the back of a wooden spoon until the sauce is almost completely smooth. Season and continue to simmer until the peppers are soft but not soggy.

Meanwhile blanch the kale briefly in the boiling water. Remove with a slotted spoon. The water will now contain all that gorgeous kale liquer, which you’ll now cook the pasta in. Salt the water and add the pasta. You want to under cook the pasta by about 4 minutes otherwise it will disintegrate when baked and become mushy and not al dente – not good!

Add the spinach to the tomato and pepper sauce and allow to wilt. Roughly chop the kale and also add to the sauce. Season.

Blitz your bread to a fine breadcrumb. Toast your pine nuts either in a dry pan or in the oven. Keep an eye on them so they don’t burn. Keep them moving – you want them lightly coloured. You can skip this stage altogther and just add them as they are. Mix the breadcrumbs, pine nuts and oregano together. Season with salt and pepper and set aside.

Drain the pasta and add to the pan along with the sauce. Thoroughly mix before transferring to a casserole dish. Taste and season if necessary. Sprinkle over the breadcrumbs and bake in oven for 25-30mins.

Serve by itself or with a large salad. Delicioso!

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Mixed Berry Vegan Soft Serve

Just a wee one. The recipe that is – this bit will be as rambling as ever.

Let me start by telling you about the really lovely morning I’ve just had. I took myself to the local leisure centre and joined a fitness class (‘totally toning’ – here’s hoping!). This is something I’ve been putting off for waaaaay too long – I am the master of excuses. Even though I’m very active in my job (when I’m working anyway) and consider myself to be pretty fit, I was a bit worried I wasn’t going to be able to cope with the demands of an hour long class.

I seriously loathe the gym – I sure I’m not the only one – so joining a fitness class is the only way you’ll get me to a health club. I think I like to be led in my exercising, which is why I’ve always used workout videos (dvd’s! whatever – I must be old, sigh.). A few of my all time favourites include the Claudia Schiffer Lower Body Workout (I’m bottom heavy and this one is not for the faint hearted), Elle McPherson – The Body (I wish! It’s challenging but enjoyable), Rachel Hunter Kickboxing Cardio Workout (remember her? I loved this one for letting out all my aggression) and Barbara Currie 1o Minute Yoga Workouts (I know the yoga purists amongst you will be hanging your head in dismay but she’s alright is our Barbara). I’ve been through a few others like Davina McCall’s Three Thirty Minute Workouts (this one got me in shape for my wedding) and last but not least The New York City Ballet Workout, which is tough but brilliant and really improves balance – that reminds me, I must dig that out again…….

Where am I going with all this? No, it’s not the fear of getting squeezing into a bikini in the next few months – or in my case wetsuit (we’re taking on the mammoth task of learning how to surf!) .Vanity has kinda become secondary whilst I’ve embarked on my vegan journey. Of course, I still present myself well and I’m sure I’ll never stop loving clothes and make-up but how I feel internally is of much more importance to me now.

I’ve gotten to know myself a lot better over the past year. I’m more in tune with my body and its needs and most of the time I listen. Most of the time. What has changed for us is our increased consumption of sweet foods; cakes, muffins, brownies, ice-cream, chocolate, you get the picture. This is so weird because when we were omni we barely touched the stuff. I never baked – like never. Not because I couldn’t but because I had virtually no inclination to do so. Just didn’t appeal. The only dessert I would ever order at a restaurant would be ice-cream. In fact ice-cream would be at the tip tip tippety top of my list of sweet treats – I love the stuff. I say love because I have been able to continue that love affair, as there are so many great vegan ice-creams on the market – dang it.

We’ve been so curious and excited about everything we can eat, we’ve been hoovering it up likes there’s no tomorrow. I’ve been baking like a mad woman – I seemingly turned into Betty Crocker overnight and ever since there’s been an endless stream of cookies, cupcakes, brownies, etc, etc.

Enough is enough. I’m listening to my body and cutting out the crap, starting now. We’re making roads to incorporating a lot more raw foods into our diet (I even succumbed to buying Kristin Carr’s Crazy Sexy Diet book) and we’ve taken to juicing – although I don’t know how that will last given the complaints from our neighbours (I’m not joking!).

I’m realistic though and I know I’m still gonna want to eat something sweet now and again so I’ve been seeking out healthier (but still super tasty) alternatives to the desserts and snacks we love to eat. Obviously an ice-cream option was a must and this soft serve could not be better or more delicious. To be fair, it ain’t even a recipe as such but for me that makes it all the better – it requires mere moments to transform from a bunch of frozen fruit into a wicked (yet guilt free) ice-cream. Aside from having to freeze the fruit beforehand this really is fast work – soft serve in a jiffy! Enjoy x

mixed berry vegan soft serve

2 frozen bananas

1/2 cup frozen mixed berries

optional: tablespoon of agave or sweetener of your choice

The only thing I will say is remember to peel your banana and cut it into pieces before freezing – I put the pieces into a plastic sandwich bag (which I re-use) but you could use a tupperware container.

Put all the ingredients into a blender/food processor and blend until completely smooth and the consistency of, well, um, soft serve.

Serve that softy! I even enjoy it for breakfast. What’s that? Oh yeah, I eat ice-cream for breakfast – no biggie.

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Super Duper Green Smoothie

I swore to myself I would not turn into one of those kale smoothie drinking vegans that espouses the virtues of clean living and green drinks that look like something you’d find on a street corner after a busy Saturday night – too much? Anyhoo, here I am, espousing the virtues of kale smoothies and attempting to convince those amongst you who are more than a little dubious of my proclamation that they can actually taste nice.

Let’s forget for a minute how completely amazing these drinks are for your insides. Lets gloss over the fact that they’re nutrition in a glass (blah, blah, hand me coke) and unfortunately possess a particularly off putting colour – yes, I agree it resembles swamp water and seeing as we eat/drink with our eyes that may be an obstacle too far for some. None of that matters though when something tastes nice and this does – taste nice.

I’ll be the first to admit kale smoothies scared the bejeezus out of me. I didn’t want to like them because then I’d be well and truly converted to the dark side – the dark side being the murky drink that be the kale smoothie. Yet here I am, sitting very comfortably on the dark side, kale smoothie in hand and a large grin on my face. These taste nice! Have I said that enough yet?

To be perfectly honest, apart from the crazy colour, you’d never know there was a whole bunch of leaves in this drink. Seriously. The kale isn’t overpowering in flavour either – again, you’d hardly know what was in it. When blended it gives a gorgeous texture too, the perfect smoothie texture – and you know how I feel about smoothie gloop. This is not gloop, I repeat, this is not gloop.

It’s got tang, sweetness, a hint of sourness and the cinnamon stick just adds a beautiful roundedness. In short, it all works. Now, if that doesn’t convince you to give them a shot I don’t know what will. If you are convinced and I’ve managed to somewhat twist your arm then brilliant and…….welcome to the dark side!

super duper green smoothie

small bunch of kale (approx 2 cups)

1 kiwi

handful of frozen mixed berries

juice 1/2 lemon

juice 1 lime

1/2 cup acai berry juice

1/2 cup filtered water

1 tbsp sweet freedom or agave nectar (or any vegan sweetener)

1/2 cinnamon quill

Wash and chop the kale, removing any hard stalks. Put into blender.

Peel and chop the kiwi and also add to blender along with the frozen berries.

Juice the lemon and lime and pour into blender. Add the acai berry juice, water and sweetener.

Break up the cinnamon and add to blender.

Blend, blend and blend until the smoothie is as smooth as you can get it. If you’d like to thin it out a bit add some more water.

Blend some more and serve. It’s kinda impossible to make this drink look pretty – I tried and failed. Good thing it tastes nice!

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Rocket Soup and Vegan Garlic Bread

I am a soup fanatic. I can’t go a week without having it at least once but I usually eat (drink? slurp?) it for lunch because I guess I feel it isn’t substantial enough for a dinner dish. Now and again though it can be nice to have something a little lighter for an evening meal and it certainly helps that homemade soups are super quick and easy. The bonus being they also happen to be much tastier and healthier than shop bought soups, which tend to be full of additives, preservatives and salt – too much of which can play havoc with my water retention, NOT good. Ah, the joys of turning 30. Did I mention I was rapidly leaving behind my twenties? Well I am – 3 weeks left and then it’s hello thirties! I’m not sad, just more despairing and confused as to where the time actually went. If you have any ideas, do let me know.

I kinda defeated the purpose of this soup by pairing it with a large garlic baguette but, y’know, I ain’t perfect. I mentioned the amazing garlic bulb I roasted in a previous thread so I had a lot of garlic to use up and I hadn’t had garlic bread in forever so eating it was heavenly, if not hugely calorific – hey ho.

I adore peppery rocket but I’m always disappointed that it’s mostly used as a salad leaf. There are dozens of ways these potent greens can be integrated into your cooking and I especially like it in hot dishes – like this soup. There’s nothing to it really so even though rocket can be a bit pricey, if you think about it, it’s forming the main part of the dish, which means it’s actually quite reasonable.

I reckon this would make for a really impressive but simple starter to a dinner party. If you’re anything like me you’ll like to do as much prep in advance so you can spend the maximum amount of time with your guests – there’s nothing worse than being invited over to someone’s house for dinner and they spend the entire time stressing over a stove. I like to be relaxed at my dinner parties and soup is a great way to ensure I can greet my guests properly without worrying about pulling lots of different complex elements together for the starter.

Or……just do what we did and enjoy it as your main meal in the evening. Simples.

rocket soup

6 shallots

10 salad potatoes

6 heaped cups of rocket (arugula)

1 vegan vegetable stock cube

olive oil

salt and pepper

Thinly slice the shallots. Heat a little oil in a large saucepan, add shallots, season and gently soften for 5-10 minutes. Stir occasionally ensuring the shallots don’t brown.

Wash, peel and slice the potatoes. Add to the pan, season and stir. Add the stock cube and top with 4 cups of freshly boiled water. Simmer for 15 minutes until the potatoes have softened.

Add the rocket (reserving a few leaves for garnish) and allow to wilt. Transfer to a blender, food processor or use a hand blender. Blend well until completely smooths. Return liquid to pan and gently heat – do not allow to boil.

Taste, season if necessary and serve.

garlic bread

1 small wholemeal baguette

1/2 cup vegan butter/spread

1 small bunch flat leaf parsley

3 very large roasted garlic cloves or 6-8  normal sized ones

salt and pepper

Pre-heat the oven to 200 degrees celsius/390 fahrenheit.

Partially slice the baguette, i.e. leaving it attached at the bottom with enough room to stuff the butter in the crevices.

Finely chop the garlic and the flat leaf parsley. In a bowl mix the butter, minced garlic and parsley. Season to taste, ensuring it is thoroughly combined.

Divide the mixture and stuff/spread it between each of the crevices. Bake for 20-25 minutes. Cut and serve alongside the soup.

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Vegan Chocolate Pudding in Seconds

I’ve been trying to curb my sugar intake lately – just because I’m vegan doesn’t mean my life is devoid of temptation, far from it in fact. Even though I can’t indulge in ‘normal’ confectionery or baked goods there is plenty available to me that I can eat and eat I do! For this reason I’m always searching for treats that are big on taste and low on the guilt factor.

Sugar tastes good. I know that, you know that but we also know that too much is not a good thing. The question is how much is too much? I include my fruit as part of my daily sugar fix because whether we want to admit it or not fruit contains a whole heap of sugar. Now don’t get me wrong, fruit is definitely good for you and we all need a bit of sugar but it’s the refined kind that concerns me – that’s the stuff that’ll send your sugar levels spiking.

Some people say sugar is sugar but I beg to differ. I’m well aware this is risky territory so I’m not going into the in’s and out’s of sugars and sweeteners. What I will say is that I’ve heard enough conflicting information about agave nectar to make me want to use it less frequently – I’ll still use it but more sparingly. I’m from the school of thought that everything in moderation is the way to go – does that sound crazy coming from a vegan?

I’m pretty taken with Sweet Freedom anyway so that kinda solves my ‘what to use in place of agave’ problems – well until I discover something dubious about that. For now though I’m happy to take part in a little maple syrup action coupled with small doses of date syrup,  scant amounts of malt syrup and molasses with a reasonable reliance on the aforementioned sweet freedom, which is basically fruit syrup.

I now find I rarely use refined sugar except for perhaps in pancakes and baked goods but even then I’m always finding ways of substituting. My problem is I will not sacrifice taste and in some cases only ‘real’ sugar will do. Not here though – this pudding is perfectly sweet with the small amount of sweet freedom, dash of almond extract and cacao powder that is included. It helps that cacao powder has a lovely natural sweetness to it. Cacao is less bitter than cocoa powder with a smoother result yielded in the overall flavour. It is expensive, however, so feel free to use cocoa powder – just make sure it’s fairtrade.

Oooof! That was very long winded post for what is actually a very simple recipe. Literally made in seconds with just enough sweetness to satisfy that nagging tooth.

vegan chocolate pudding in minutes

1 cup silken tofu

1 1/2 tbsp sweet freedom

1 tbsp cacao powder

1/4 tsp or dash of almond extract (or a cheeky splash of Disaronno)

Put all the ingredients in a hand blender and blitz.

Divide between two ramekins and eat immediately or for a firmer pudding refrigerate for a few hours.

Serve on its own or with some whipped sweetened coconut cream.

That’s it!

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Vegan Irish Soda Bread

I’m usually pretty late on the uptake with these holiday posts so I thought for once I’d get one in on time – sorta. It’s probably better to post a St.Patrick’s Day recipe several days before thus giving people time to gather in the ingredients for the event itself. Makes sense right? That’s were the joy of this recipe comes in because I guarantee you’ll have all the ingredients already in your kitchen.

I was so tempted to do something more involved but laziness got the better of me. Being Irish myself I thought of the quickest, simplest recipe I know, which is how I came to soda bread. Only a few ingredients and no yeast needed. The key here is the cider vinegar. You see, in the absence of buttermilk (this being a vegan version and all) I needed something that would imitate the same sourness that it provides. The cider vinegar makes the soya milk curdle and truthfully I think the taste is  absolutely spot on – I’d be surprised if some people could tell the difference – perhaps not my Nanny but some, less Irish people anyway.

I’m pretty pleased with my St.Paddy’s Day effort – although admittedly more pleased that I got it in before the 17th.

vegan irish soda bread

2 cups plain white flour

1/2 tsp salt

1/2 tsp sugar

1/2 tsp bicarbonate of soda

1 cup soya milk

1 tsp cider vinegar

Pre-heat the oven to 220 degress celsius/430 fahrenheit.

In a bowl combine the soya milk and cider vinegar. Set aside and allow it to curdle.

Sift the flour, salt, sugar and bicarb into a large bowl. Mix thoroughly and, whilst it may seem silly, grab handfuls of it and allow it to fall back into the bowl – this aerates the mixture.

Add most of the soya milk and using a spatula or your hand turn into a soft doughball – it will be a little sticky, that’s fine. You may or may not need the rest of the liquid.

Flour a clean surface and turn the doughball out onto it. Lightly knead – be sure not to overwork it. Shape into a ball.

Flour a baking sheet and transfer the doughball. Flour a knife and mark a cross in the top of the bread. Bake for 30minutes until the bottom sounds hollow when tapped.

Wrap in a clean tea towel to ensure the crust doesn’t harden too much. Eat warm or allow to cool, it’s your call. It goes with well with sweet or savoury – I even had it with avocado.

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Roasted Garlic Hummous

Hummous. Hummus. Humous. However you spell it, this dip, spread, chickpea wonder has become more and more popular over the years with its prevalence not showing any chance of waning in the near future.

Being vegan it may come as no surprise whatsoever to discover I consume bucketloads of the stuff. It’s such an easy and tasty way of getting my protein. I spread it on crackers, toast, bagels, scoop it up with carrot, cucumber, tortilla chips – I’ve even been known to eat it by the spoonful. In short, I might have a mild obsession with this middle eastern triumph.

Now I know no hummous can compare to what you find in places like Jerusalem. I mention Jerusalem because I’ve heard the hummous there is out of this world amazing.

There are several establishments I’ve read about in various different articles that apparently serve the best hummous you’re likely to ever taste –  Abu Shukri is one such place that crops up time and again and I could kick myself for being such a doughnut, as would you believe I’ve been to Jerusalem twice in my life and neither time did I sample any of this magical, creamy, dreamy, could probably and would probably slather myself in it, hummous. Ugh – nevermind eh? There’ll always be a next time – I hope.

In reality I might be waiting a very long time before I travel all the way back to Israel to taste, what would seem to be, the holy grail of hummous, so in the meantime I’ll have to (attempt to) recreate it in my own kitchen. Well I never said I wasn’t ambitious. Okay, so I know I’ll never be able to compete with the hummous masters of Jerusalem yet I can but try and with this slight twist I think I may be as close as I’ll ever get to the perfect homemade hummous.

Who would’ve thought that all my already perfectly nice hummous needed was one giant roasted clove of garlic, and when I say giant I mean giant! There happens to be a fantastic deli called Yasmins near to where my Husband works in the lovely little Cornish village of St.Just. The deli sells all sorts of yummy eats including some incredible bulbs of garlic intended for roasting. These things are huge. My eyes nearly popped out of my head when Hubbie landed home with one – I was a wee bit intimidated I must admit. It sat on my kitchen surface for a couple of weeks before I had the nerve or inclination to tackle it but I needn’t have worried because roasting the bugger couldn’t have been simpler.

In the end I just wrapped that sucker up in some greaseproof paper and roasted it in a low(ish) oven for about an hour and the result was perfectly soft and squidgy garlic cloves that could be used in an endless amount of recipes. Mine ended up in a herby garlic butter, which I spread between the crevices of semi sliced baguette and baked for the ultimate vegan garlic bread; minced to a pulp for a super tasty enchillada sauce and, of course, popped into a blender for this gorgeously creamy hummous.

I recently read David Lebovitz’s tips for being a better blogger. I pretty much take what that man says for gospel but I’ll be darned if I can’t keep my waffling to a minimum. To add to my list of blogging crimes, I have no clue what my niche is (vegan isn’t necessarily a niche esp. when there are hundreds more out there), I don’t have a cute pet name for my Husband (well I do but I might be a very young divorcee if I divulge it on the net), I’m pretty sure my titles suck (Roasted Garlic Hummous? Um, kinda does what it says on the tin) and I can only hope that I’m saying something others might be interested in but originality is a tall order these days.

What I am sure of is that this roasted garlic hummous is the best hummous I’ve ever made and that makes me very happy. Oh yes, and David(like he’s ever read my blog), you’ve helped me reign in my excessive exclamation mark usage so thanks! Ah, poo.

roasted garlic hummous

1 can of chickpeas/garbanzo beans

1 tsp dark tahini

juice of half lemon

1 very large roasted garlic clove (equivalent to 4 normal sized ones)*

2/3 tbsp extra virgin olive oil

salt and pepper

1/4 cup reserved liquid from the chickpeas

Drain and rinse the chickpeas ensuring to reserve some of the liquid. Put them in a blender or food processor along with the garlic clove, tahini, lemon juice, oil, salt and pepper and half of the reserved liquid. Blitz until smooth.

Taste and adjust seasoning if necessary. If it is still a little thick add the remainder of the liquid and blitz again. You want the hummous creamy so keep blitz’n until you achieve that consistency.

Serve in a bowl drizzled with a little more extra virgin olive oil and a sprinkling of sesame seeds.

*roasted garlic

Pre-heat the oven to 150 degrees celsius/300 degress fahrenheit.

Cut the bottom off the garlic so it can stand flat. Rub the exposed bit with a little oil.

Wrap the giant garlic (if you can find one, if not use a normal sized one or the largest bulb you can get your hands on) in greaseproof paper and tie it tightly with some cooking string.

Roast for at least an hour until the cloves are very soft – so soft they slide easily out of their skins. Use.

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