‘This is a paid advertorial with Tesco’
February is a month of two halves for me. Coming off the back of January (which arguably hold the dullest days of the year) February feels like a welcome relief – even more so as we nudge our way towards Spring. After Valentines it’s like we’ve somehow hit our stride again and I can’t tell you how much I’m enjoying these brighter, longer days. Cornwall (and Penzance in particular) is especially beautiful at this time of year, so our evening walks along the prom are back on the rota and our menu gets a slight tweaking too. Once that sun begins to make an appearance my mind turns eagerly towards lighter dishes that take very little time to prep … really, what I’m after is a simple ‘construct & go’ affair, which is where this spiralized squash spaghetti recipe with rocket pesto comes into play.
I might make my living as a cookbook author but sometimes there’s nothing nicer than letting someone else do all the hard work for you. Like most people I often turn to the internet for inspiration and Tesco’s ever expanding catalogue of plant based recipes is a super place to start. It’s so incredible to see the interest that vegan food is garnering at present and I am really heartened when a brand like Tesco not only embrace it but also endeavour to make plant based eating that little bit easier.
I’ll always be drawn to savoury dishes first but for those of you with a sweeter tooth than myself there’s everything from triple layered Birthday Cake to moreish Cinnamon & Pecan Pastries to satisfy those cravings … both of which look seriously tempting and, more importantly, seem an absolute cinch to make. Because I’m always pushed for time when it comes to dinner though (heck, who isn’t?) this nifty noodle recipe immediately grabbed my attention. I whipped it up in mere minutes and as it only uses six basic ingredients, it’s incredibly budget friendly too. It went down such a storm with my Husband, he requested I siphon off a little for his lunch the next day, which I promptly popped in a handy weck jar.
It’s funny how sometimes the simpler the meal, the better it’s received. When there’s less stress involved, you can spend more time chatting at the table rather than slaving over the stove – and if you think I’m exaggerating, I have been known to lavish several precious hours over a midweek evening meal, ahem. Because food is my life (and my work) having something tasty on the table in record time is a real treat. I’m pretty sure my Husband appreciates it too – he might not say it but I suspect he’d much rather I was conversing with him than fretting in the kitchen, so recipes like these quickly become go-to’s when I’d rather labour over the socialising than the actual cooking.
And whilst it might not exactly be picnic weather yet (close though, so close!), I’ve already earmarked this dish for taking to the beach or park. I’m getting into the habit of prepping dishes on a Sunday evening (well, trying to) and this is going to make for a delicious addition to my weekly repertoire. I reckon it would make for a wonderful topping to any buddha bowl – grain, greans, beans, you know the drill.
If you fancy giving it a go yourself then follow this link to the recipe page or for more ideas head over to the Real Food Vegan Hub. For this dish you will need a spiralizer, or at the very least, a vegetable peeler, which can be used to make ribbons. I opted for a fine spiral but if you’d like it more ‘spaghetti’ like I’d advise using the slightly larger attachment – both equally delicious, just a slightly different texture. If you can’t get your hands on already toasted hazelnuts then you can simply pop them in a pre-heated oven at 180c for 5-7 mins before transferring them to a clean tea towel. Rub vigorously until the skins are removed an et voila, perfect toasted hazelnuts for your pesto!
I’m always striving to make dinner time easy. I love (adore, am obsessed with) cooking but sometimes I do like recipes that require minimal effort … and I know you guys are into these too, so here’s one I really think you’ll enjoy. Not any old ‘Mash & Beans’ (although my penchant for spuds and a spoonful or two of Heinz’s finest will never diminish) but a rather more upgraded version in the form of sweet potato mash and pesto coated cannellini beans – de.lish. And whilst I always have one eye on the ‘balanced meal’ meter, the ingredients here are merely a happy accident because it’s basically what I happened to have in the fridge. In my opinion the best meals are often borne out of necessity anyway.
I would eek this post out further having just watched the first episode of Michael Pollan’s ‘Cooked’ series on Netflix but I think I’ll let my thoughts simmer for a while longer on that – although, what is with the whole ‘let’s break the veggie and get the evidence on camera’ melarkey? Always such a low, disappointing blow especially from someone I actually really admire. Hey ho.
We’re also in the midst of moving and even though we’re actually pretty organised this time (and only have a miniscule distance to travel – major novelty) I’m still feeling a wee bit (read massively) stressed – particularly now that I’ve learnt our soon-to-be landlord went against our wishes and painted the living room grey, meaning we’ll be spending the first few days with paint brushes in our hands. Wonderful. Seriously, the sooner we own our place the better – I’m getting too old for this nonsense. Anywho. Mash ‘n’ Beans. Here’s the recipe.
what you’ll need
for the mash
1 sweet potato
extra virgin olive oil
for the beans
1 small white onion
1 x 400g can cannellini beans, drained and rinsed
1 large garlic clove
juice 1 x lemon
pinch of oregano
2 tbsp vegan pesto
handful of roughly chopped spinach
sea salt and pepper
flat leaf parsley
griddled cherry tomatoes
what you’ll do
peel and slice the sweet potato and carrots, season with salt, cover with water, bring to a boil and then simmer until soft … about 15-20 minutes. drain, season, drizzle over some evoo and roughly mash … it really doesn’t matter if some lumps remain. keep warm on a low heat until needed.
heat a little olive oil in a pan. finely chop the onion and add to pan. season with salt and sweat until translucent. finely slice the garlic and add to pan. gently cook until its aromas begin to exude (and ensuring it doesn’t brown) before squeezing over the lemon juice. saute gently until completely soft.
add the drained and rinsed beans to the pan, season with salt and pepper and sprinkle over the oregano and gently heat through. add the pesto and about a 1/4 cup of water and gently heat. add the spinach to the pan, cover and allow it to wilt. check for seasoning before serving.
divide the mash and beans between two bowls and top with a few lightly griddled cherry tomatoes. finish with a smattering of finely chopped flat leaf parsley and a final drizzle of olive oil and/or spritz of lemon juice.
I almost didn’t post this recipe … not because it’s not delicious but because I often play around in the kitchen with similarly yummy results but for whatever many and varied reasons never get around to blogging about it. However, with that ‘New Year, New Me’ mantra still swirling around my head I’m determined to change that pattern, and even though (again) I’m not entirely happy with the images, they’re passable enough to warrant a post. I definitely deserve the ‘over-thinkers achievement award’, don’t you agree?
Brasil nuts are a new fav of mine when it comes to raw (or almost raw) desserts, particularly (especially!) for the base. The texture is almost sponge-like when ground and their wonderfully mild flavour ensures the chocolate ganache remains the star of the show – sprinkled with a little cinnamon, it is sure to blow yer socks off. In fact, I’ve been making a conscious effort to buy less and less processed food (yes, even us vegans fall into the convenience trap) and this is where raw desserts really come into their own. For me, there’s nothing more satisfying than a bliss ball or raw slice – it satiates that nagging sweet tooth and gnawing pre-dinner hunger in one fell swoop, with the added bonus that your blood sugar levels don’t sky rocket meaning you’re less likely to falter before your evening meal. Our usual routine usually involves a cup of tea with a slice of something at around 6pm because we don’t eat until 9pm, which I know sounds crazy to some people but it’s just normality to us – basically, we are night owls and we eek out every second of our evenings together.
I say this is ‘almost raw’ because I’ve added a heaped tablespoon of coconut milk/water (the canned variety) but if you want to skip that part and swap out the agave addition for something else then feel free – any kind of vegan syrup would also work but I do like the lift it gives the ganache in addition to the palm sugar. Just my preference but you may want to ‘rawify’ it a little further – totally up to you.
My urge to purge the last few ‘processed’ items currently in my cupboards and fridge has arisen again after taking a bit of hiatus. Like most people, this miserable Winter weather had me reaching for comfort foods like cookies and whatnot but with Spring (almost) in the air, my body is already telling me to ditch the oreos and replace them with something a little less toxic. Don’t get me wrong, when Ben & Jerry’s finally release their dairy ice-creams I’ll be the first in line to sample the delights but until then I’ll be dining out on slightly healthier desserts like this. I hope you’ll join me too!
what you’ll need
for the crust
1 cup brazil nuts
3 medjool dates
1/2 tbsp coconut oil
pinch of pink himalayan salt
for the topping
1 tbsp coconut oil
1 heaped tbsp coconut palm sugar
1 heaped tbsp raw cacao
1 tbsp coconut cream
1 tbsp coconut water
1 tbsp agave or other vegan sweetener
generous pinch of cinnamon salt (available from the Cornish Sea Salt Co.)
or a pinch of regular sea salt mixed with grated or ground cinnamon
what you’ll do
place the brazil nuts in the blender and blitz to a fine meal. stone the dates and add to the processor along with the coconut oil and pink himalayan salt. blitz until it form a fine rubble before transferring to a lined tin. press firmly with the back of a spoon or spatula and refrigerate for at least an hour.
melt the coconut oil in a small saucepan and add the palm sugar. allow it to slowly dissolve before adding the cacao. whisk vigorously until combined … don’t worry if it still looks a bit grainy at this stage. add the coconut cream, coconut water, agave and salt, and whisk again until smooth – you can do this over a very low heat to loosen the mixture.
pour over the brazil nut crust and spread out using a spatula. garnish with a generous sprinkling of cinnamon salt.
refrigerate for several hours (or ideally overnight) until set. slice and serve … this dessert is quite rich so a small serving will suffice.
I am going good guns with this YouTube melarkey, I tell ya. I set myself the task of uploading one a week and so far that’s what I’ve done (click here for the video) … although I won’t deny I’ve had a wee bit of help in the process, ahem. This week I opted for a sweetened cashew cream recipe served with hot griddled oranges – simple but so delicious. You’ll also notice I’ve donned a 70s lurex vest (hey, lurex is ‘in’ again … apparently!) and cut my fringe myself (er, maybe I got a bit scissor happy) … shall we say, double fail? Anywho, something that didn’t fail me was my blender. Since ‘The Boss’ came into my life my cashew creams have never been better; silky smooth, whipped to perfection and scarily akin to the real thing. Yup. Totally obsessed.
Truthfully, I don’t have many go-to appliances in my kitchen (I’m pretty hard to please) but I honestly couldn’t live without a blender – I’m sure most seasoned vegans would agree it’s a crucial piece of kit. Personally, I’ve been through a number of ’em (and definitely put them through their paces in the process) so I like to think I know what separates the good from the great – and ‘The Boss’ is without a doubt ‘great’. Not only does it have a setting for ‘green smoothies’ (I know!) but it also (and crucially, for me) makes mincemeat of nuts … and that’s exactly why it’s ideal for this recipe.
Because I like to add as little liquid as possible when making creams and cheeses, it’s been quite tricky in the past for me to get the desired consistency without relenting and adding that extra bit of water or juice. You’ll see here that I recommend adding 75ml maximum to the cashews but in reality I didn’t even use the full amount (more like 50ml) and it still rendered it utterly flawless – in a nutshell, my nutbased creams have been revolutionised. Enough blathering though and onto the recipe – the weekend beckons:
what you’ll need
200g soaked cashews
75ml filtered water
2 tbsp agave (or maple syrup)
pinch of salt
1 tbsp orange juice
1/2 tsp orange extract
2 x oranges
finely grated dark chocolate
what you’ll do
Soak the cashews overnight in filtered water. Drain, rinse and add to your blender along with 50ml water, 1 tbsp agave and a pinch of salt. Blend until smooth, scraping down the sides occasionally and adding a touch more water if necessary. It will go through several stages so persevere until you achieve the desired silky smooth consistency.
Once smooth add the orange juice, remaining agave and orange extract and blitz to combine. Transfer to a bowl and chill for at least an hour.
Heat a griddle pan on a medium/high heat. Slice the skin off the oranges and cut into thickish rounds (otherwise they will disintegrate on the pan) and place on the pre-heated griddle pan. Sear the orange slices for a minute or so on each side before transferring to a large platter or dish.
Spoon the chilled cashew cream in tothe centre and finish with a little grated chocolate and/or orange zest.
Summer has officially hit Cornwall and I’m about to vacate the county for Ireland. Typical. Not that I don’t love a jaunt ‘home’ but the temperature there never quite reaches the heights it does here and I always feel a slight chill even on the balmiest of days – who am I kidding, Ireland doesn’t do ‘balmy’. Of course, it’ll be great to see the folks, spend time with my Dad who has just finished his third round of chemo, and celebrate their ruby wedding anniversary … quite a milestone by anyone’s standards! Being the creature of habit that I am though, I always find it difficult settling into a new routine – that adjustment period shows me what a home bird I really am. I crave structure and being a writer means I can construct my own timetable – a luxury that is thankfully not lost on me. There’s nothing I love more than splitting my day into palatable little sections … most of which revolve around tea/snack/lunch/coffee breaks – in a way it’s bliss. Unless I’m working to a tight deadline.
Now that the book is ‘done’ (I’ve put it in inverted commas because I don’t think a book is ever really done but at some point you have to move on … plus there’s always bits and bobs that need tweaking) I now find myself in a weird limbo scenario and so my inclination is to return my attention to ‘Keep it Vegan’. To that end I’ll be doing a few little promo things here and there (another IrelandAM appearance is on the cards for the 7th July), as well as continuing to promote my more summery recipes – perfect for the coming months! Keep an eye on my twitter and instagram accounts for details.
And then there’s this blog. The place and vehicle that started this whole ball rolling. I already am feeling a lot more connected to this space than I have done in a long time … so much so, I’ve even dusted off the DSLR in a bid to regain my confidence behind the camera. Slowly does it though because it really would seem that I’ve forgotten how to use the damn thing – settings, schmettings.
Today was a salad day (nothing special but still… ) and so I thought it would be good practice to shoot something that didn’t have any time constraints or pressures. The focus still ain’t perfect but I think I’ve been able to achieve a slightly nicer quality to these shots than I have done in a very long while. Like I said, they’re a long way from being perfect but I won’t go down without a fight. And now for the recipe … creamy avocado, tart blackberries and not forgetting that gingery dill dressing, it really is a wonderfully simple seasonal salad with a difference.
what you’ll need
large handful of mixed lettuce leaves
1/4 yellow pepper, finely sliced
1 spring onion, finely sliced
1/2 avocado, sliced
for the dressing
1 heaped tbsp dijon
1 garlic clove, grated
1 thumb-size piece of ginger, grated
1 tbsp red wine vinegar
1 tbsp hazelnut oil or evoo
1/2 tbsp agave
juice x 2 clementines
pinch of salt and pepper
15g freshly chopped dill
what you’ll do
Arrange the salad leaves in a shallow bowl. Scatter the sliced pepper around over the leaves, sprinkle over the spring onion and dot the blackberries about the bowl.
Separate the sliced avocado into a fan shape and place in the centre of the bowl.
Place all the dressing ingredients (apart from the dill) into a bowl and whisk vigorously until it emulsifies. Add the chopped dill and whisk to combine. Spoon generously over the salad, paying particular attention to the avocado.
Finish with a final scattering of roughly chopped dill. Serve.
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
2 Ripe Bananas
3 Medjool Dates
1 tbsp Maple Syrup
1 tbsp Coconut oil
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.
Work is now well underway with the new book, which means I’m up to my ears and elbows in ingredients whilst I recipe test this and that. Some recipes are ones I stored (not literally) from the last book (we just couldn’t fit everything in) but most are brand spanking new, and everyday there seems to be more – aaarrgghh! The hard task is deciding what ones to use so I’ll be filtering a few out from time to time here on the blog.
This raw tart is one such recipe. I absolutely loved it (and so did my Hubby) so I wanted to share it now rather than wait. Now, I know I was ranting on about stews and casseroles not so long along but I feel Christmas is far enough behind us that we can properly contemplate Spring and get our systems officially prepped and ready.
Raw food is a bit of a passion of mine and as the months become warmer I try to include more dishes like this in my diet. It’s not so much a cleanse but I can’t deny eating this way makes me feel kinda amazing and maybe a wee bit smug… although I know 100% raw is out of the question for me – I just love my stove/oven too much. In saying that,when summer hits I’ll be back to eating my two raw meals a day and one cooked (usually in the evening – I’m a sucker for a summer bbq), which I’ve discovered is a good balance for me.
This triple layered tart (pie, slice, whatever you want to call it) is a great combination of tangy, herby and subtly sweet – that’ll be the carrots for ya – and makes for an impressive little starter or lunch option. The trick here (and with all raw food really) is selecting/using the correct equipment – that is, knowing when to utilise the blender, food processor or, as is often the case with me, my trusty Delia mini chopper. That thing never fails me.
I sometimes get messages regarding raw cheesecakes or cashew cheeses saying the texture wasn’t quite as smooth as they had hoped, and usually this can be directly attributed to what equipment was used. That is, for crusts and cheeses, I will always use a processor or mini chopper (depending on the quantities) and for creams I rely on my blender. Now, this doesn’t have to be a fancy high-speed blender but I can’t deny my Froothie does help in getting those creams and cheesecakes especially smooth.
For the pesto part, it can go either way but my preference here is to go down the mini chopper route because you’ll want to retain a little coarseness to aid the overall texture – crucial with raw food, in my humble opinion. You might need to scrape down the sides a few times with a spatula but that’s no great hardship in the grand scheme of things.
You could achieve a firmer consistency overall by popping each layer into the freezer in between but seeing as I currently don’t possess one (although hopefully that will soon be rectified) I made do with the fridge and it turned out pretty great. To ensure the layers don’t bleed into one another, do make sure each one is fairly well set (it will never be solid) before adding the next – the coconut oil addition definitely helps.
I love serving tarts like this on a rustic wooden board in the centre of the table and let everyone help themselves. The vibrant colours go a long way to dispelling those longheld myths that raw food is all ‘rabbit food and deprivation’ and gives it more of an inclusive, accessible feel – not some holier than thou cuisine that serves to alienate half your guests. Not my style. I’m all about winning people over through delicious, wholesome, attractive food… and, thankfully, I’ve not had any complaints yet.
So, what are you waiting for? Your raw food future is just a slice away – you might be surprised how good it actually tastes.
what you’ll need
for the crust
2 small carrots
1 tbsp mixed seeds
1 heaped tbsp cumin
1/2 tsp paprika
1/2 tbsp coconut oil
salt & pepper
finely grate the carrots and squeeze out any excess juice into a bowl – reserve this juice for the sauce.
place everything into a processor or mini chopper and blitz until it forms a fine rubble. taste for seasoning and add a little more salt & pepper if necessary.
line a small tray or loaf tin with baking parchment and press the crust evenly into the bottom.
freeze or refrigerate for half an hour.
for the cream
130g soaked cashews
juice 1/2 lemon
1/2 tbsp coconut oil
salt & pepper
place everything into a blender and blitz until completely smooth, scraping down the sides as you go.
check for seasoning and then pour over the carrot crust, reserving one heaped tablespoon for the carrot sauce. Smooth out with a spatula.
freeze or refrigerate for around an hour.
for the pesto
30g basil Leaves
2 tbsp mixed nuts (walnuts and pecans work best)
juice ½ lemon
1 small garlic clove
3 tbsp extra virgin olive oil
3 tbsp flaxseed oil
salt and pepper
place the pesto ingredients into a small food processor or chopper and blend until coarse but spreadable. taste for seasoning and add a touch more salt and pepper if necessary.
refrigerate for 20 minutes.
for the carrot serving sauce
reserved carrot juice
1 tbsp cashew cream
1/2 medjool date
place the reserved carrot juice into a blender, add the cashew cream and date and blitz until completely smooth.
assembling the tart
carefully lift the tart out of the tin and ease it onto a serving board. spoon over the pesto and carefully spread out using a spatula.
drizzle over the carrot sauce and adorn with crushed hazelnuts
et voila, your raw vegan tart is served!
PHOTO CREDIT – ALI ALLEN
Okay, so January isn’t exactly whizzing by but maybe that’s not such a bad thing … after all it gives us time to really adjust to those resolutions. If you’ve decided to give Veganuary a whirl or are just looking to tweak your diet for the better then why not join me for a full day of vegan cooking at the Waitrose Cookery School in Finchley on Saturday 24th January between 9.30am and 4pm. There are still some spots left on the course (but you best hurry before they sell-out!) where I’ll be taking you through some specially selected recipes from my book ‘Keep it Vegan’.
The price for the full day is 150pounds, which will supply you with all your ingredients and equipment plus wine with lunch. The course is not aimed directly at vegans either – everybody is welcome at my table and I am so excited to connect with you all in reality. So, even if you’re just a teeny bit curious or simply want to expand your vegan/veggie menu (especially handy when you have vegan guests!) I have endeavored to tailor the day to be as expansive and inclusive as possible.
Here’s what you can expect…
When you arrive you will be met with freshly prepared Gluten-Free Blueberry Muffins and Bircher Muesli, which you will then learn to make yourself.
Afterwards we will begin preparing our lunch, which will include my Macaro-no Cheese followed by one of my personal favs from the book – the Indian Spiced Tacos. Next up I’ll be offering some tofu tips before taking you through my Sweet ‘n’ Sour Tofu dish step by step. This will be accompanied by my Green Bean Salad with Lemon, Garlic & Chilli as well as the ever-popular Cumin Spiced Carrots – because, in my opinion, side dishes are equally important as the main!
Dessert dishes will include my easy-peasy Carrot Cake Bites (for the health conscious amongst us) as well as my super-rich Fudgy Brownies (for those of us who don’t mind a little sugar in our lives). Yikes, I don’t know about you but I’m full already, haha!
To cap the day off I decided to go with my No-knead Carrot & Courgette Bread alongside my Balsamic and Black Peppercorn Cashew Cheese because they’re great ones to have up your sleeve. And that’s that!
I will, of course, be available to answer any questions you have so feel free to ask away on the day – look forward to seeing you there!
I may be vegan but for me the queen of Christmas is, and will always be, the incomparable Nigella. No-one oozes festive cheer in quite the same way as the lovely Ms.Lawson and whilst I would love for her to promptly board the vegan bandwagon (Jamie and Hugh are both enthusiasts) and give us some plant-based recipes already I’m quite happy to veganize her already existing ones myself in the meantime.
I’m not ashamed to admit that leafing through ‘Nigella Christmas’ is undoubtedly one of my guilty pleasures at this time of year and I have a few firm favourites that I rely on regularly to help me out of any impromptu visitor fix – with her oh-so-easy ‘Easily Scaled Mont Blanc’ dessert being just one of them. I probably don’t need to tell you that this is one of the simplest veganisations (is that even a word?) ever. Simply swap out the whipped cream for sweetened whipped coconut cream or a dollop vanilla infused cashew cream (or even some soyawhip… I won’t judge if you wont!) and et voila you have yourself an awesome vegan alternative pronto.
But (but, but, but!) having done this several years on the trot I thought I’d go one step further and switch it up with my own (slightly healthier) version that still has the chocolately ‘soil’ bottom, unctuous chestnut filling and luscious ‘snow capped’ cashew cream peak… somebody has clearly been reading too much la Lawson lately, ahem.
In all honesty though, I was delighted with the richness of this (almost but not quite ‘raw’) dessert and despite being refined sugar-free (all hail the mighty medjool date) it felt decidedly indulgent – perfect for an alternative Christmas pud. Dont’ panic though, I’m still obsessed with these little French tins of sweetened ‘marron’ joy and you’ll probably find me spoon in hand eating it directly from said receptacle with gusto over the festive period. However, should I find myself in another chestnut bind (these things happen) I’ll know exactly what to do, safe in the knowledge the results will be equally decadent and impressive. Hurrah!
what you’ll need
for the chestnut puree
1 cup cooked chestnuts
3/4 medjool dates
1 tsp vanilla extract
for the base
1 heaped tbsp chesnut puree
1 heaped tablespoon cocoa powder
1/2 cup chopped almonds
for the cream topping
1 cup cashews
1 tbsp agave
1 tsp orange extract
what you’ll do
soak the cashews overnight. drain, rinse and blend with the agave and about 1/4 cup water until smooth, adding a little more water as and when needed. once completely smooth and creamy add the orange extract and blend until incorporated. chill.
blend the chestnuts with the dates, vanilla extract, salt and a splash of water until smooth. you may need to scrape down the sides of your processor several times. chill.
blend 1 tbsp of the chestnut puree together with the cocoa powder and almonds until it form into a putty. press about a tablespoon’s worth into 4 muffin moulds and chill in the freezer for about an hour.
remove the chocolate bases from the moulds and fill each one with chestnut puree. top with the orange infused cashew cream and finish with a little grated chocolate and grated orange zest. chill until needed or eat immediately.
Well it looks like the Summer is well and truly behind us and we are now being fast forwarded into all things autumnal. Whilst I’m still rocking around in cotton skirts my thoughts have suddenly turned to stews and baked goods… and yes, maybe even pumpkins. This cake (as with most of my recipes) is a concoction of ingredients I happened to have around but I think it’s already become a firm favourite – i.e. it has the Husband stamp of approval.
I knew I wanted to keep it refined sugar-free. Not because I’m anti-sugar (I’m happy to consume a little of the hard stuff now and again) but because the recent feedback I’ve been getting regarding the book is that you all love the recipes that are refined-sugar and gluten free. And so, being the helpful gal I am, I thought I’d endeavour to keep this cake as ‘healthy’ as possible – although let’s face it, no cake will ever be entirely healthy.
You might have noticed by now that I’m a wee bit obsessed with gram flour. I just love the texture (once cooked!) because holy heck that chickpea batter tastes somethin’ funky raw. Warning!!! Never, EVER be tempted to lick that bowl – trust me, i’ve tried and regretted it one too many times. Once baked though it magically transforms into the most gloriously moist cake with the perfect amount of crumb. The coconut glaze is the perfect compliment to the tangy redcurrants and is the first time I’ve been able to achieve the desired consistency without resorting to refined sugar. Yup, this one will definitely be getting made again.
what you’ll need
2 cups gram flour
1/2 cup ground almonds
2 tsp baking powder
1/2 tsp. bicarbonate of soda
2 tbsp coconut oil, melted
1/3 cup plain soya (or coconut) yoghurt
1/3 cup coconut milk
2/3 cup maple syrup
1/4 cup agave
1 tsp vanilla extract
2 cups red currants
for the glaze
1 heaped tbsp coconut oil
1/4 cup coconut milk
1/4 cup desiccated coconut
2 tbsp agave
1 tbsp cornflour
what you’ll do
pre-heat the oven to 180 degrees celcius/350 degress fahrenheit.
combine the flour, ground almonds, baking powder and bicarbonate of soda in a bowl.
whisk together the yoghurt, milk, coconut oil, vanilla extract and sweeteners.
make a well in the flour and pour in the wet ingredients. fold gently until the ingredients are thoroughly combined before stirring through around half of the redcurrants – leaving the remainder on the stalk for presentation purposes.
grease your bundt tin with a little coconut oil. pour the batter into the tin and bake for around 30mins.
allow it to cool for around 10mins before removing from the tin and transferring to a cooling rack.
meanwhile, whisk all the glaze ingredients together in a pan and simmer until reduced and reasonably thick. let it cool a little before spooning around the top of the cake, allowing some of it to strategically run down the sides. leave it to cool further for around 5-10minutes before adorning with the remaining red currants.