Pumpkin & Orange Pancakes

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So, I promised to upload this recipe on Friday and it’s taken until now (Monday ruddy morning) to get my act together and actually process the photos and write the damn thing. I guess you could say I’m well and truly out of the blogging groove and I’m finding it increasingly more difficult to put my energies back into it. Because I’m channeling all my foodie creativity into other work, this space remains a bit of a ‘relegated to the back of my brain’ dead zone, which is not what I want but at present I can’t fully see a way forward. Part of me thinks I should be diversifying a bit and including more lifestyle posts (beauty, fashion, homeware) but I’m not sure if you agree – do you want to see those type of posts or should I just stick to food? Leave me a comment and let me know. I’m taking your lead on this one.

 

Instagram is proving to be a wonderful outlet for me at present. As long as you follow wisely it can be a really terrific, supportive community to be a part of. I’ve done many’s a cull, which means my feed is full of charming, positive people that have similar interests to me – yes, there’s lots of food but also plenty of performance art, floral displays (I love blooms) and style … I’m a sucker for a great outfit. I highly recommend @personalpractice (dancer extraordinaire) @latonyayvette (supermum and general babe) @ellenfisher (aka mango island mamma) @jennymustard (swedish vegan minimalist living in Berlin) and @carolinedemaigret (sophisticated french model who happens to be hilarious) … do you have any recommendations of your own? Who inspires you on a daily instagram feed basis? Also, I am so, so close to reaching my 10k target – if you’re not following me already (and you like lots of photos of food and Cornwall) then head over to my personal feed (@ainecarlin) and click follow! I would be very much obliged. High fives in advance.

 

And then there’s the small matter of it being October. October. My favourite month because, y’know … harvest, autumn, halloween, all that jazz. We’ve already decorated our living-room with dancing skeletons (see twitter for proof) and other ghostly bunting, as well as seasonal spooky candles – and lots and lots of PUMPKINS! Well, a variety of squash, if I’m being perfectly honest. But still. PUMPKINS!! Truth be told I used canned pumpkin for these pancakes but if you do want to make your own (it’s super easy, promise!) then I have a quick ‘How to’ that will help. This stack were so light and fluffy I was tempted to call them ‘Perfectly Pillowy Pumpkin & Orange Pancakes’ but decided to keep it simple instead. However, they most definitely are ‘perfectly pillowy’ and totally delicious to boot. I made an addictive palm sugar salted caramel to accompany them (can I get a ‘yum’?), which will test your restraint when it comes to bowl licking because this stuff is 100% uh-mazing. The pumpkin, orange yoghurt was a bit of an afterthought that actually really brought the whole dish together … but not as crucial as the caramel, so if you’re going to forgo something, forgo this.

 

Recipe time. You ready? Time to get get jiggy with some pumpkin puree.

 

what you’ll need

150g spelt flour

1 1/2 tsp. baking powder

1 tsp. bicarbonate of soda

pinch of salt

1 tsp. cinnamon

1/2 tsp. ground ginger

1/4 tsp. allspice

1/4 tsp. nutmeg

240ml soya (or other plant) milk

1/3 cup pumpkin puree

juice and zest of 1/2 orange

3 tbsp. maple syrup

1/2 tbsp. melted coconut oil

 

what you’ll do

place the flour, baking powder, bicarbonate of soda, salt, spices and orange zest in a large bowl and whisk to combine.

 

in a separate bowl whisk the soya milk, puree, maple syrup and orange juice together until smooth.

 

make a well in the centre of the flour, pour in the wet mixture and whisk to combine.

 

heat a crepe or frying pan and melt the coconut before pouring into the pancake batter. whisk to combine and set aside for a minute or two.

 

return the pan to the stove, brush with a little more coconut oil and bring to a medium-high heat. Using a 1/4 cup measuring cup (or an ice-cream scoop) ladle in the pumpkin batter, cooking one at a time for best results. cook for around 4-5 minutes or until bubbles begin to appear on top and the sides look dry before flipping. cook for a further minute or so before transferring to a plate. cover with a clean tea-towel to keep them warm. repeat until all the mixture is used … you should get approximately 10-12 pancakes out of the batter mix.

 

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for the salted caramel

1/2 cup palm sugar

1/2 cup water

1/2 cup coconut milk (from a can)

1 tsp. vanilla extract

pinch of sea salt

 

place the sugar and water in a small saucepan and bring to a boil for around 5-10minutes or until the mixture reduces and thickens, and the sugar is completely dissolved. swirl to ensure the sugar is evenly dispersed but do not stir.

 

once the mixture has thickened, whisk in the coconut milk (coconut cream will also work) and gently boil for a further 10 or so minutes. once it takes on a caramel appearance, test the thickness using the back of a spoon … simply dip it into the caramel and set it aside for a minute to determine how well it sets – remember, as it cools, it will continue to thicken.

 

at the very end whisk in the extract and sea salt and transfer to a bowl. refrigerate until needed.

 

for the pumpkin yoghurt

4 tbsp. dairy free yoghurt

1 heaped tbsp. pumpkin puree

1 tbsp. orange juice

1 tbsp. maple syrup

1/4 tsp. freshly grated nutmeg

 

whisk all the ingredients together until smooth and refrigerate until needed.

 
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Coffee Cacao Cake

 

What a week! Moving whilst juggling deadlines and dealing with leaks, a new flat (that needs a lot of TLC) is not for the faint hearted I can tell you. But! We made it in one piece and I’m feeling pretty good – no, make that great. In fact, to be perfectly honest with you I feel ruddy awesome … hallelujah, stop the press, she’s actually (wait. what’s that?) happy! Shifting our lives back into a bustling little town has seriously been the best thing we could’ve done. I usually get to Friday having not stepped foot outside the door … yes, there was glorious scenery but a mere dander away (and I did enjoy my afternoon walks during the summer months) however, my anxious nature did not fare well in a teeny tiny village. More on that another time when I’ve had time to properly process it all. Anyway, suffice to say, I’m much better programmed to function in a larger town surrounded by lots of people – must be all those years living in cities. I actually don’t fear big cities or towns in the slightest but put me on my own in the countryside and I’m a cowering wreck. Anyway, to celebrate my super productive week I decided to get a bakin’ … mainly because I had half a cafetiere of coffee staring at me and my first though was ‘cake’! Coffee and chocolate is an obvious but delicious combo – leftover coffee makes for a seriously awesome addition too … delicate yet moist (that word makes me shudder but I can think of no other) and utterly, utterly moreish. I even plan on having it for breakfast tomorrow smeared (make that smothered) in peanut butter and handed to me by my Husband. No shame.

 

what you’ll need

200g spelt flour

2 tbsp raw cacao or cocoa powder

1 tsp baking powder

1/2 tsp bicarbonate of soda

pinch of fine salt

1 x banana

100g dark brown sugar

1 tbsp maple syrup (molasses would also be awesome!)

3 tbsp olive oil

200ml leftover coffee

 

what you’ll do

pre-heat your oven to 180 degrees celsius

 

whisk the dry ingredients together. in a separate bowl, mash the banana and whisk in the sugar, maple syrup and oil until combined.

 

make a well in the centre of the flour and add the banana mixture. gently fold, add the coffee a little at a time until combined.

 

grease a tin and pour in the batter. tap it firmly on the kitchen surface to get rid of any air bubbles. bake for 30 mins before cooling on a cake rack.

 

gently ease the cake from the tin. whisk together 1 tbsp of icing sugar with a splash of coffee and brush over the cake whilst it’s still warm. let the cake cool completely before slicing.

 

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Pudla Pizza


 
Sometimes I don’t know where to begin a post – particularly if I haven’t blogged in a while. Y’see, occasionally I need a bit of a time-out … mostly, and for some inexplicable reason, these ‘time-outs’ seem to always chose their own time, rather than the other way around. I guess it mostly depends on my mood, and I’ve got to be brutally honest here, but my mood has been somewhat all over the joint these last few weeks. Feelings of guilt for not being with my family at a time when they need me most torment me a lot, and occasionally render me useless. Unfortunately my Husband is the one who has to deal with these emotional meltdowns, which I know can be tiresome and wearing – especially when coupled with a crazy workload. Bad wife.

 

And even though there’s so much great stuff happening, hanging (or should that be clinging for dear life) onto the good stuff can still be difficult. I try to relish these moments but we humans are strange bunch – no matter how much we seemingly have, we always want more. I’m totally working on this flaw, by the way, but it ain’t easy.

 

In the meantime, there’s always pudla. There’s a similar recipe in my book ‘Keep it Vegan’ but this is a new and equally yummy version … the batter is much thinner and technically speaking, it’s probably more of a socca than the former. Fried until crisp and then whacked under a grill, it renders the perfect base to make a pizza – of sorts. Truthfully, I couldn’t be bothered to get into making a full-on sauce so all the toppings are raw – carrot ribbons, roughly chopped tomato, diced avocado, rocket and a whole other array of tidbits that make up this moreish dish. Whilst it makes for a perfect lunch option (you could totally eat it cold at work), I think it would be nice served as a ‘nibble’ at a dinner party – just make sure to quarter them for ease of eating. Plus, they are so wonderfully vibrant, they’re sure to be a little talking point – and a certain mood lifter … just what I happen to be in the market for, ahem. What else can I say – the time to up your pudla game is now!

 

what you’ll need

80g gram (chickpea) flour

1/4 tsp baking powder

pinch of salt

1/4 tsp cumin

1/4 tsp paprika

pinch of cayenne

juice of 1/2 lemon

100ml water

30ml extra virgin olive

2 tbsp olive oil

 

pizza toppings

1 x carrot

2 cherry tomatoes

1/2 avocado

large handful of rocket

3 tbsp hummus

juice 1/2 lemon or lime

pinch of chilli flakes

sriracha

nutritional yeast

 

what you’ll do

sieve the flour, baking powder, salt and spices into a bowl. whisk in the water and lemon juice before drizzling in the extra virgin olive oil until you achieve a silky smooth batter. cover and set aside for at least 1hr.

 

meanwhile, prep your toppings – cut the carrots into ribbons, roughly chop the tomatoes and season generously. dice the avocado, squeeze with a little lemon juice to avoid browning. toss the rocket with some evoo and balsamic vinegar and make the hummus sauce by stirring in the juice of 1/2 lemon until smooth.

 

pre-heat the grill. heat a tablespoon of oil in a skillet and ladle in half the batter, spreading to edges with the back of the spoon. cook until the edges begin to curve in and the bottom is perfectly golden (I use a palette knife to lift up the sides and peek) before finishing it off under the grill.

 

layer up the topping, starting with the rocket and followed by the carrots, tomatoes and avocado. dollop over the hummus sauce and finish with a smidge of sriracha, smattering of nutritional yeast and a few chilli flakes. lightly season and serve.

 

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Barmbrack Bundt

 

{singing} ‘It’s the most wonderful time of the yeeeeeeeaaaaaarrr’ … or spookiest, or something. Anyway, long story short, I am a Halloween fruitcake – which, is just as well, seeing as I made one to celebrate. Getting back to my Irish roots I opted for a spiced Barmbrack of sorts – this is my version and it’s half way between a bread and cake. The bundt tin wasn’t just a frivolous decision either. It’s actually a bit of a nod to the ‘ring’ that is usually secreted inside the bread. I’m not a big fan of putting choke-inducing items in my food (even if they are wrapped in baking parchment) so the ring shape will have to suffice.

 

If you didn’t already know most of those awesome Halloweeny traditions we love so much originated in Eire – yup, even pumpkin carving, although we apparently used gourds/turnips back in the day. The celts seem to share a lot of the same folklore, which probably goes some way to explain why I feel so at home here in Cornwall … they too were a fan of the old turnip head around this time of year. Also, if you think America has the monopoly on Halloween, my home-town of Derry topped a recent USA Today poll for ‘Best Halloween Destination’ ahead of Salem and Transylvania no less – I actually feel pretty lucky to have grown up in a place with such a rich Halloween heritage and have so many fond memories of dressing-up and trick or treating as a kid. Side note; if you want to be truly terrified google ‘Irish Jack-o’-lantern’ – not for the faint hearted but would definitely have done a great job warding off those evil spirits. Me? I’ll be sticking to my usual goofy face.

 

Back to the Barmbrack. Typically a yeasted bread, I honestly couldn’t be bothered to faff about with kneading yesterday – I was still exhausted from my trip back to Cornwall, and needed something to ease me back into the kitchen. I did, however, opt for a spelt/strong white flour mix, which resulted in a wonderfully bready texture … perfect for slathering in dairy-free butter and serving alongside a hot cuppa. I soaked the raisins in cold tea leftover from breakfast (yes, I do use a teapot – such is my tea addiction) and once drained I poured the reserved liquid into my bread batter for extra oomph. It might not be the most authentic barmbrack in the world but by golly does it taste good. In fact, I’m going to treat myself to another slice, right … about … now.

 

what you’ll need

130g raisins

100ml cold black tea

250g spelt flour

200g strong white flour

100g plus 1 tbsp light brown sugar

1 tsp baking powder

1/2 tsp bicarbonate of soda

pinch of salt

1 tsp ground cinnamon

1/4 tsp ground ginger, allspice and nutmeg

250ml almond milk

3 tbsp vegan margarine

1 tsp molasses

 

for the glaze

3 tbsp light brown sugar

 1 tbsp water

 

what you’ll do

place the raisins in a bowl and pour over the cold tea. set aside to soak for about an hour. drain and reserve the cold tea liquid.

 

pre-heat the oven to 180 degrees celsius.

 

sift the flours, sugar, baking powder, bicarbonate of soda and salt into a large bowl.

 

gently heat the almond milk, margarine, molasses and 1 tbsp of light brown sugar in a milk-pan. once the margarine has melted, whisk the mixture until frothy and combined.

 

make a well in the centre of the flour mix and pour in the warm almond milk mixture along with the reserved tea. fold gently until combined before stirring through the soaked raisins.

 

transfer the batter to a greased bundt tin and bake for 45-50 mins or until a skewer comes out clean. let the bread cool slighty before gently tipping out onto a cooling rack.

 

whilst it cools, make the glaze by placing the sugar and water into a small saucepan. simmer until it reduces before brushing over the warm bread. let the bread cool completely before slicing. serve with a generous smear of vegan butter and a hot cup of tea.

 

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Mini Spelt Cinnamon Rolls


 
I have so much to say in this post, I almost don’t know where to begin but seeing as we need to start somewhere let me open with this. Learning. We never stop. As a food lover, recipe writer, blogger and general human being I never stop learning new and interesting things. Sometimes these are things I chance upon and other times I actively seek out this new info, like the hungry hippo I am … gobble, gobble, chomp, chomp. At the moment, I’m in the midst of a YouTube cookery show binge (anything and everything but especially Nigella) and also reacquainting myself with a few blogs that I used to religiously follow … Joy The Baker and The Pioneer Woman being just two. These are the originals, to my mind, and the sages of the blogging world from which we can learn a great deal – the first and most important lesson being … never take yourself too seriously. And, if you’ve ever read either one of these ladies witty, smart (and downright hilarious) posts you’ll know what I mean. This isn’t just about food – this is about life!

 

Okay, so you might be thinking, why would a vegan gal such as myself read meat ‘n’ dairy heavy blogs like these – or indeed indulge (an unhealthy amount) in the televised works of arguably the greatest kitchen goddess to ever walk this green earth, Nigella Lawson. The answer is simple really. I learn SO much. Whilst I know I’ll never recreate these dishes verbatim in my own domain, I can at least imbue (or at least try to, ahem) a little Lawson magic in my food or all too infrequent soirees. Same goes for Ree and Joy … I just adore their enthusiasm, sarcasm and, of course, the way they seem to effortlessly throw a dish together.

 

Like I said, this isn’t just about food, it’s about how people connect with it, handle it and ultimately create something great from it. Meat ‘n’ dairy aside, these gals have one other thing in common … magnificent palettes – I don’t need to make their food or eat it to know this. Also, I’m pretty adept at compartmentalising so I can watch, read, immerse with ease – I try not to block myself off from inspiration, whatever form it comes in, and sometimes this is where I derive some of my best ideas and recipes. What can I say, it’s my process and it works for me. I honestly couldn’t fathom shunning a whole world of cookery books, writers, blogs and shows just because they’re not vegan – case in point, I am mildly obsessed with Nigel Slater who is neither vegetarian nor a vegan but boy does that man know how to make vegetables shine. It truly is a gift.

 

This brings me neatly onto another current obsession of mine … bread. Yup, whilst the whole world is running away from gluten and all things wheat based screaming, I am sprinting full pelt towards it with both arms open hollering ‘gimme, gimme’! Spelt is featuring heavily in this fascination, in all its ancient wholegrain glory. I use it in breads, muffins, cakes and now cinnamon rolls … although I will confess that I think a mix (i.e. 2/3 spelt, 1/3 plain white flour) in this instance would probably be beneficial – just a little heads up for you for you there, if you’re after a slightly lighter bun. With that said, I really did adore these miniature treats. Nutty, satisfying and full of cinnamony goodness – they’re such a delight and one even the most cautious of bread-makers can tackle.

 

I made them a couple of times and tested out two varying methods to figure out which one I preferred. Needless to say my Husband’s opinion differed from mine, which only made things a tad more confusing, so I packed him off to work with his favoured batch and I’ve kept these mini ones for myself. The main points of difference were the point at which I added the yeast and when I chose to knead the dough. For the mini rolls, I added the quick acting yeast to the dry ingredients before gradually pouring in the almond milk and oil. After bringing it together into a rough dough, I then tipped it out onto a floured surface before kneading for around 10mins until it was reasonably smooth and elastic … oil it, place it back in the bowl, cover with cling and set aside in a warm place (tip! I put it beside my pre-heating oven) for around 30mins. So far, nothing unusual there. The dough will expand, not massively, but it will be noticeably bigger and at this stage I rolled it out very thinly (less than 1/4 inch), brushed over my oil and generously sprinkled it with ground cinnamon and light brown sugar. Roll it tightly into a long but even sausage shape before slicing into rolls (about 2cm thick). Line a round oven-proof tray and arrange the rolls with the coil facing upwards – it might be a squeeze but that’s fine. Set aside for a further 20mins before baking in a hot oven for 10-15mins. They won’t rise a huge amount but will have a beautifully crispy yet light texture – almost like the central piece to their regularly sized counterparts, which, let’s face is usually the best bit anyway. This is probably why I liked them so much! As soon as they come out of the oven, brush them generously with maple syrup and sprinkle over some crushed nuts or seeds – et voila, mini spelt cinnamon rolls ready to eat.

 

Now for the second method. This will render a much larger bun, much more ‘bread-like’ and infinitely more substantial than the little morsels seen here. For this you will need to activate the yeast in the warm almond milk and once it froths pour it, along with the oil, into the dry ingredients. Mix as usual until it’s fully incorporated and forms a rough but reasonably smooth dough ball – tip! hands are your friend here. Still in the bowl, lightly coat the dough with a little oil to prevent sticking, cover with cling and set aside in a warm place to rise, as per usual. You’ll notice here, that I didn’t knead the dough immediately and this is the crucial difference – mini rolls, knead first, larger rolls, knead later. After 30mins, tip the dough out onto a floured surface and knead for around 10-15 mins until smooth and pliable. Roll it out but this time ensure the dough is about double the thickness (1/2 inch) before brushing with oil (or melted margarine), cinnamon and  sugar. Slice into much thicker rounds, place coil-side up on a lined tray (about 2cm apart) and lightly brush with oil. Cover with cling and set aside to rise for a second time (this should take about 30mins) before baking in a hot oven for 8-10mins … yes, the mini ones do take a little longer to bake, which is confusing but accurate. As per the mini rolls, brush with maple syrup whilst they are still warm and sprinkle over some crushed pecans or seeds.

 

So, the rest is up to you. By all means, experiment yourself – not only with the dough but also with the add-in’s (I’m tempted to do a pb&j next and I may or may not add a little bicarb to the mix) but above all don’t shut yourself off from a good learning opportunity when there’s one to be had. In my humble opinion, the best vegan recipes come from the most unexpected of places – well, that’s my excuse anyway.

 

Mini Spelt Cinnamon Rolls

adapted from Nourish Atelier

 

what you’ll need

190g spelt flour

pinch of fine salt

7g (or 1 1/2 tsp) quick acting yeast

120ml hand-hot almond milk

1 tbsp agave or maple syrup

4 cardamon pods

2 tbsp olive oil plus more for brushing

1 heaped tbsp ground cinnamon

2 tbsp light brown sugar (or palm sugar)

 

to serve

maple syrup

crushed seeds or nuts

 

what you’ll do

 

Pre-heat your oven to 220 degrees celsius.

Gently heat a little almond milk, agave (or maple syrup) and cardamon on a hob until it’s hand hot … test it on the back of your wrist for temperature, ensuring it is not too hot – if it is, set it aside until it cools a little and don’t forget to remove the cardamon pods. Side note: If it is too hot it may interfere with the yeast activating.

 

Whisk the flour, yeast and salt together in a large bowl and make a well in the centre. Gradually add the almond milk and oil (if it makes it easier you can add the oil to the almond milk but I prefer to do it separately) working it slowly into the flour – the wetter the better. Once you have formed a rough dough ball, turn it out onto a floured surface and knead for around 10mins until reasonably smooth and elastic … remember this is spelt so it won’t be quite as pliable as plain white flour. Lightly oil the dough, return to the bowl, cover with cling film and set aside in a warm places to rise for around 30mins.

 

Turn the dough out onto a floured surface and roll into a thin rectangular shape, about 1/4 inch thick. Brush over some olive oil, followed by a generous sprinkling of cinnamon and sugar before rolling tightly into a sausage shape. Slice into 2cm rounds and arrange neatly in a lined dish, coil side up. Lightly brush the tops with oil, cover with cling and set aside for around 20mins to allow the dough to expand and rise a little more.

 

Bake in the pre-heated oven for 10-15mins – every oven is different so just keep an eye on them.

 

Remove from oven and whilst they are still warm, brush over a little maple syrup and sprinkle over some crushed seeds. Serve immediately or store in a container until needed … in fact, I just keep them in the dish and cover with foil.

 

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Raspberry & Chocolate Muffins


I don’t do a huge amount of baking … if I make it, I’ll eat it, so muffins, breads, cakes and cookies are invariably now and again affairs. These heavenly morsels are borderline healthy, however, so they make an appearance more frequently than most – I use the easy batter as my base and add whatever I have to hand; this time it just so happened to be raspberries and chocolate. They also work wonderfully with berries (strawberries, blackberries and blueberries) and nuts (walnuts and pecans are particularly great options) although I really do love this crushed raspberry, chocolate chip mix … lush with a capital ‘L’. Not only are they are a terrific breakfast option, especially if you’re in a hurry first thing, but also act as the perfect mid-afternoon pick-me-up with only a fraction of the usual ‘muffin induced’ guilt.

 

Refined-sugar free and containing wholesome spelt flour, they are filling without being stodgy – I don’t know about you but baked goods often leave me feeling a tad bloated … not so with these beauties! Sure, there’s a little plain flour in there but if you wanted to round off the spelt flour instead then by all means go ahead. I personally like the lightness the plain flour brings to proceedings but it’s not a crucial addition. My other ‘health’ concession is the fact the mixture will only stretch to six (medium) muffins – I find that portion control is much more effective than abstinence and baked goods are always better fresh anyway, so this way you won’t have any lingering around for days. Obviously if you’re baking for a brood then simply double the ingredients … and don’t forget to get creative with the ‘add-ins’.

what you’ll need

100g spelt flour

50g plain flour

25g ground linseed (flaxseed)

1 tsp baking powder

1/2 tsp bicarbonate of soda

pinch of salt

1 ripe banana

120ml plant milk

1/2 tsp vanilla extract

60ml agave

40ml maple syrup

50g dark chocolate chips

80g raspberries

 

what you’ll do

Pre-heat the oven to 180 degrees celsius. Line a muffin tin with 6 muffin cases.

 

Lightly whisk the flours, flaxseed, baking powder, bicarbonate of soda and salt together until combined.

 

Mash the banana to a smooth puree and transfer to a large bowl. Add the plant milk, vanilla extract, agave and maple syrup, and whisk vigorously until thoroughly combined.

 

Make a well in the flour mix and pour in the banana/plant milk mixture. Fold gently until combined. Roughly mash the raspberries and add to batter along with the chocolate chips. Stir through until distributed ensuring not to overwork the mixture.

 

Divide the batter between the muffin cases and bake for 20-25 minutes. Remove from oven and allow the muffins to cool completely on a cooling rack.

 

Serve with a cup of hot coffee.

 

 

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Gluten Free Banana Bread


 
Oh hai! Suffice to say this book writing business is overtaking everything at the mo, hence the lack of recipes on the blog – it seems every time I have a good idea I feel compelled to save it for the publication. I can’t even claim this one was intended for this space, as it was originally created for the current issue of WED Mag (go buy it!), along with two other equally delightful dishes. Call it laziness or just my eagerness to share but this borrowed (from, er, myself) recipe is all I have to offer right now … although I have two blog posts lined up for the very near future (you loving that vagueness?) that I hope will make up for my persistent peasoupeats neglect.

 

This particular Banana Bread recipe is (no lie) an absolute lifesaver thanks to its gluten and (refined) sugar-free status … in fact, you could go as far as to say, it’s good for you – disclaimer; it’s probably not ‘good for you’. Moist, crumbly and ridiculously delicious, it flies in the face of everything you have ever thought about gluten free goods, which, let’s face it, are often bemoaned for their dense, stodgy texture that taste more like sand than cake – not appealing, not now, not ever. So, even if you think gluten free isn’t your thing, I urge you let this banana bread change your mind because healthy eating or not, this recipe officially ‘rules’.

 

what you’ll need

130g Gram Flour
70g Ground Almonds
1 tsp Gluten Free Baking Powder
½ tsp Bicarbonate of Soda
Pinch Salt
2 Ripe Bananas
3 Medjool Dates
1 tbsp Maple Syrup
1 tbsp Coconut oil
70g Raisins
30g Flaked Almonds

 

what you’ll do

Pre-heat the oven to 180 degrees Celsius and prepare a medium-sized loaf tin by greasing it with a little coconut oil.

 

Place the flour, ground almonds, baking powder, bicarb and salt in a bowl and whisk together.

 

Soak the medjool dates for 10 minutes in warm water.

 

Meanwhile, mash the bananas with the back of a fork to form a smooth puree.

 

Remove the stone from the dates and place in a small chopper or hand blender along with the maple syrup and blitz to form a thick, sticky paste.

 

Melt the coconut oil in a small pan on the hob … this will take mere seconds, be sure not to let it boil.

 

Whisk the pureed banana, date paste and melted coconut oil together, along with two tablespoons of water, until thoroughly combined.

 

Stir the raisins into the flour, ensuring they are evenly dispersed. Make a well in the centre of the flour and pour in the banana mixture. Fold gently until everything is combined before transferring to the loaf tin. The batter will be quite thick so spread it out using a spatula before sprinkling over the flaked almonds.

 

Bake for 30-35 minutes. Let it cool for 10 minutes before removing from the tin. Place on a cooling rack for a further 30 minutes. Cut into thick slices and serve.

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The Fresh Vegan Kitchen … Corn Chowder


 

I can’t tell you how refreshing it is to be able to follow a recipe instead of creating one. In the midst of this book writing business, receiving this gorgeous offering in the post was a welcome relief and meant I could forget about my own creations for at least one meal. Although they probably don’t know it, the writers of this heavenly vegan cookbook were the first ‘real-life’ vegan cooks I ever encountered. Four years almost to the day, I was booked into a raw cookery class at Saf in Shoreditch (sadly now closed), which was led by the magnificent David Bailey who was accompanied by his lovely wife Charlotte. A newbie vegan at the time (I was about a year into my journey ) this was a real eye opener for me and I learnt so much… and tasted some pretty incredible food in the process – so you could say I’m already a bit of fan girl when it comes to this duo. Since then they’ve gone on to win awards for their scrumptious street food (keep an eye out for their WholefoodHeaven van at festivals) and, of course, release a wonderful cookbook.
 

Not only is it a stunning book to simply browse through but offers a range of dishes from the very basic (dips, dressings and soups) through to more adventurous fare that all have something of an Asian twist. I went for something moderately easy to begin with in the form of the New England inspired Corn Chowder … mainly because my fridge and cupboards are pretty bare right now so it was a bit of a make-do situation. I’m rather ashamed to say I had to use (don’t judge!) canned (cough) sweetcorn and I didn’t have any coconut milk (or stock) to hand either, however, despite my embarrassing modifications it was still a resounding success.
 

What I’m most excited about getting my chops around next is the Hot Aubergine Salad, which looks sensational, with the Churros a very close second. Hot, crispy, sugary goodness – you’re talking my language! What I love most about this book is the balance it strikes between uber-healthy recipes and more indulgent dishes that don’t shy away from things like flour. There’s something for everyone whether you’re raw, gluten-free or, like-me, dabble in a little bit of everything. It’s easy-going flair is its biggest selling point … I predict it’ll be a book I’ll come back to again and again. In a nutshell, it’s fuss-free food, full of flavour that will inevitably put a smile on your face.

 

Corn Chowder

adapted from The Fresh Vegan Kitchen

 

1 tbsp coconut oil

1/2 onion, chopped

2 garlic cloves, minced

1 small carrot, chopped

200g sweetcorn kernels

4 salad potatoes, roughly chopped

1 tsp hot sauce

juice 1/2 lemon

1/4 cup soya yoghurt plus more for serving

salt and pepper

 

for the herby croutons

1 slice of bread, cut into 1cm squares

1 tbsp olive oil

1 sprig of rosemary, finely chopped

 

Method

1. Heat the coconut oil in a large pan and saute the onion until translucent. Add the garlic and continue to sautee for 3-4 mins, then add the carrot and sweetcorn, season and saute for another minute or so.

 

2. Cover the saute mix with water (about 1ltr) and add the potatoes. Season generously, bring to the boil and then reduce to a simmer for 15-20mins, until all the vegetables are tender.

 

3. While the soup is simmering make the croutons. Pre-heat the oven to 200 degrees celsius. Put the bread in a bowl and toss with the olive oil and rosemary. Transfer to a baking sheet and bake for 10 mins until lightly golden, moving the croutons around every couple of minutes. Set aside.

 

4. When the soup is ready transfer to a blender and pulse until smooth. Return the soup to the pan, stir in the yogurt (or coconut milk), lemon juice, generously season and reheat for 10-15 minutes over a very low heat.

 

5. Divide into bowls and garnish with a few reserved sweetcorn kernels, sliced radish, spring onion and not forgetting the croutons, which I served alongside .

 

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Easter Chocolate Orange Loaf

 

I am in such a blogging rut right now. Any good ideas I have are being poured into the book, which leaves very little to spare in terms of blog posts. I know things will settle down after my deadline but I can’t help but feel this space needs some much needed (and long overdue) TLC. I’m in the mood for a Spring clean – a yearly spruce up, if you will, although I can’t guarantee it’s all going to happen overnight. An image overhaul is definitely in order and I really want to make it easier for you guys to navigate your way around the site… I am fully aware my categories are confusing and totally outta control – seriously though, have you seen how many I have listed on the sidebar? Talking of control, I need to find a way of letting go of my daily control-freak ways a little, as it’s not only hindering my work but also my happiness. Truth be told, I poured over these images for an hour and half, tweaking this and that, and I’m still not satisfied with them. It was my first time using a DSLR for a while and I’d practically forgotten how to effectively use the settings – not to mention the light was piss poor, hence their ‘intentionally’ moody demeanour, ahem. I’m not sure how often bloggers talk about their photography woes but when you’re bombarded with brilliant images on an hourly basis, one can’t help but feel like any offerings I might be contributing to the internet’s growing library of incredible food shots fall somewhat short of the mark.

 

Or course, great food photographs aren’t the be all and end all of a good blog – I hope! I like to think the recipes and occasional (read negligible) witty repartee also go some way to making a blog, erm, ‘good’. Personally, I return to blogs that are open and honest, and don’t try to be something they’re not. I’m no professional photographer (heck, I’m not even sure I qualify as an amateur one) so recipes are where I can make up for bad lighting, poor composition and anything else that makes an image just okay. This Chocolate Orange Loaf is what I’ll be chowing down on over the next few days … and f.y.i. the frosting is not optional. Yup, it’s a total, unashamed sugar-fest because hey, it’s Easter and I don’t ‘eat clean’ all the time anyway. Frankly, I think we’re all becoming a wee bit obsessive about every (single, itty-ibtty)  morsel that passes our lips, so take this recipe as a defiant stand against the ‘nutritionalistas’ of the world that have left us feeling ashamed for even thinking about a slice of the good stuff – or bad, as the case may be. Besides, I think portion control is much more effective than shunning all these so-called ‘naughty’ foods, which is why you’ll notice this is baked in a pretty small loaf tin and contains about the half the ingredients of a similar recipe. I figure this way I can have my cake and eat it, innit.

 

Look, I’m as guilty as the next person of using the ‘clean eats’ hash tag when promoting my wares on places like instagram and twitter, so you could say I’m perpetuating this fixation we have with ensuring everything we consume has some nutritional value – heads up, this loaf has none. Whilst I’m all for making healthy choices, I really don’t see the harm in having an all singing, all dancing chocolate loaf now and then… yes, I know there are great alternatives out there, and I partake in those too, but sometimes only cake (this kinda ‘hooray for cake’ cake) will do. If you’re of the same mindset, then read on for the recipe. If not, then there are plenty of raw/gluten-free/sugar-free recipes on the blog too. Either way I wish you all a very HAPPY EASTER – here’s to occasional, but necessary, full-fat, gluten-filled, sugar-laden treats.

 

Oh, and if you’re wondering where those gorgeous printed napkins are from, head over to the Tori Murphy website to oggle (perchance to buy) more of her incredible designs – I’m officially obsessed!

 

Ingredients

120g plain flour

70g sugar

30g cocoa powder

1 tsp baking powder

1/2 tsp bicarbonate of soda

1 banana

45ml olive oil

120ml plant milk (I used homemade hazelnut milk)

1 tsp orange extract

 

for the frosting

3 tbsp vegan margarine

100g icing sugar

1 heaped tbsp cocoa powder

1 tsp orange extract

 

Method

Pre-heat the oven to 175 degrees celsius.

Whisk the flour, sugar, cocoa, baking powder and bicarb together in a large bowl.

Mash the banana and whisk together with the oil, plant milk and orange extract until smooth.

Make a well in the centre of the flour mix and pour in the wet ingredients. Gently fold until everything has fully combined.

Transfer to a greased 71/2 inch loaf tin, tap it firmly on your worktop to get rid of any air bubbles. Bake for 30-35minutes.

Whilst the loaf is baking make your frosting by whisking together the margarine, icing sugar, cocoa and extract until smooth. Refrigerate until needed.

Once baked, allow the loaf to cool on a rack before removing it from the tin. Let is cool completely before adoring it with the chocolate frosting … I like to roughly spread it over the top of the cake using a spatula.

HAPPY EASTER!!

 

 

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PANCAKE TUESDAY… Vegan ‘Buttermilk’ Pancakes


Photo Credit: ALI ALLEN

 

It’s Pancake Tuesday, which can only mean one thing… er, well, pancakes. As a self-confessed pancake crazed loon I have about a gazillion variations up my sleeve for such occasions but none really top my ultimate “Summer Berry ‘Buttermilk’ Pancake” recipe from my cookbook Keep it Vegan. It’s not too late to grab a ‘nana and some flour on your way home and whip up a storm in your kitchen after work – I know my Husband will be expecting a batch as soon as he walks through the door and I shall gladly oblige. The candied walnuts are my favourite pancake topping too. I just love the added bit of crunch they lend to the dish, particularly alongside the uber-soft pancakes… I’m a texture gal, through and through. Of course, seeing as it’s not summer, I’ll forgive you for opting for a more seasonal fruit although supermarkets seem to stock berries year round these days so you shouldn’t have a problem getting hold of them. What really sets these pancakes apart from the rest is the ‘buttermilk’ element, which is simply soya milk that has been mixed with cider vinegar and set aside to curdle – sounds horrendous, tastes incredible. It really gives this dish depth of flavour and renders them slightly fluffier too… whatever chemical reaction it instigates, I ain’t complain’ – just eatin’ ’em up and makin’ some more. Happy Pancake Day!!
 

Summer Berry ‘Buttermilk’ Pancakes

Makes 8-10 pancakes/serves 2-4

 

Pancakes are perfect brunch time fodder and a sure-fire way to get your weekend off to a good start as well as impressing guests. This basic mixture can be tweaked and added to as desired (blueberries, choc chips or raisins work wonderfully too), but I just love this candied walnut and nutmeg combo.

 

Ingredients:

For the pancakes

150g plain white flour

40g caster sugar

11/2 teaspoons baking powder

1 teaspoon bicarbonate of soda

pinch of sea salt

1/2 teaspoon freshly grated nutmeg

240ml soya milk

1 teaspoon cider vinegar

1 banana, peeled and mashed

15g soya butter

1 tablespoon sunflower oil plus extra for cooking

 

For the candied walnuts

100g walnut pieces

1 tablespoon agave nectar

 

To serve

fresh berries

freshly grated nutmeg

agave nectar or maple syrup

 

Method:

1) In a large bowl thoroughly combine the dry pancake ingredients. Mix together the soya milk and cider vinegar in a jug, set aside for several minutes and allow to curdle – this will be the ‘buttermilk’ element.

 

2) Whisk the banana into the soya milk mixture. Make a well in the dry ingredients and add the milk mixture, folding gently until incorporated.

 

3) Melt the butter with the oil in a medium, non-stick frying pan and pour into the bowl, ensuring everything is fully incorporated – I use a whisk. Allow the pancake mix to sit for a while – the pancakes will puff up better.

 

4) Preheat the oven to 100°C/gas mark ¼. Heat a little more oil in the frying pan and add a small ladleful of mixture to form a pancake. Don’t overcrowd the pan – only cook one or two pancakes at a time. They should come to about 8cm in diameter. Cook until bubbles appear on the surface before flipping over and cooking for a further few minutes on the other side. Transfer to a plate and keep the pancakes warm in the oven – try not to stack them or they may go soggy.

 

5) Wipe the pan with kitchen paper, add the walnuts and toast on a medium heat for a few minutes before adding the agave. Allow the walnuts to become sticky and then slightly hard – stir constantly so they don’t stick to the pan.

 

6) Serve the pancakes with fresh berries, the candied walnuts, a good grating of nutmeg and lashings of agave or maple syrup. Brunch time!

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