Stuffed Courgettes Rolls

I love food that not only tastes great but is packed full of nutrients. These  stuffed courgette rolls are a great recipe that does just that. Great party food to share with friends or as a light lunch with salad and dips. I also like these served  for dinner with a large green salad.

These great tasting stuffed courgettes are delicious served hot or cold. If you do not like courgettes this recipe works equally well using sliced aubergine or thin slices of sweet potato. Any left over filling can be used as a stuffing for roasted peppers or rolled in to balls and baked, making delicious little falafel bites.

Makes 12-16 depending on size

Ingredients

2-3 x courgettes sliced lengthways

A little rapeseed oil for brushing

Filling

1 red onions, finely chopped

1 clove garlic, crushed

Small handful chopped fresh Kale (stalks removed) or spinach

400g tin/carton chickpeas drained

215g tin/carton kidney beans drained

215g tin /carton butterbeans drained

1tsp onion granules/powder

2 tsp dried harissa spices (use more or less depending on taste and strength of your spice-but 2 tsp is good place to start)

Handful of fresh coriander chopped

zest of 1 small lime, juice ½ lime

1 tbsp tomato puree

1 tsp black onion seeds

2tbsp chickpea flour (often called gram or Besan flour)

Method

Firstly, make the filling. Place all the ingredients into a food processor apart from the chickpea flour and pulse to make a chunky rough mixture. Transfer to a large bowl then add the chickpea flour, stir to combine. Leave to one side while you prepare the wraps.

Bring the water to the boil in a steamer, steam the thin slices of courgette for 3-5 minutes so soft enough to roll without breaking. Remove and place on some kitchen roll to cool a little.

Pre-heat the oven to 180oc. Prepare a baking tray by lining with baking parchment and using some of the oil brush lightly. When the courgettes are cool enough to handle lay out and spread on the filling mixture the full length of the slices of courgette, then roll up. Place on the prepared baking sheet with the rolled end facing down so it doesnt unravel while cooking.

 

Repeat this until you have used all the mixture.

*Chefs tip any leftover filling can be rolled into balls and baked as falafels.

Brush a little of the oil over the top of the stuffed courgettes and bake in the middle of the oven for 15-20 minutes until lightly browned. Delicious served with spinach pesto or vegan mayo.

 

 

 

 

Meringue nests with baked plums

 

This is a fabulous dessert, gorgeous sweetness from the meringues and lovely tartness from the plums, easy to make and can be prepared in advance. A perfect finale to a romantic meal for two, or stunning dessert for any meal. What great is its totally vegan and uses the juice from a can of chickpeas in place of the eggs in a traditional meringue recipe.   You can add the sugar raw and cold but if you are doing this add a little at a time. I like to add it as a sugar syrup as i have found this makes the meringue more stable. Plus if you are making a lemon meringue pie you can use this mix and finish the cooking with a blow torch. The great thing about using aquafaba is that you cant over mix it like egg whites and the final mix can be made in advance and stored in the fridge in the piping bag for a couple of days.  Great if you are making individual meringue pies and have some mix left over.

Makes 12- 14 medium nests, 1 or 2 large pavlova bases

Ingredients

12 tsp aquafaba (juice from a can chickpeas) = the water from 1x400g tin

225g caster sugar

6 tbsp water

½ tsp cream of tartar

Pinch salt

½ tsp vanilla extract

Method.

This recipe is Italian meringue as I find it more stable when using aquafaba if you are wanting to pipe it into nests.

Pre-heat the oven to 100oc / gas ¼

Place your aquafaba into a large mixing bowl along with the cream of tartar and salt. Whisk until stiff soft peaks form. (A stand mixer may be easier however you can do it with an electric hand whisk.) This can take a good five minutes. You can not over mix the aquafaba unlike egg whites so you can leave this to do in a stand mix.

 

When this is done leave to one side while you prepare your sugar syrup. In a pan add your sugar and water bring to the boil and rapid boil until it reaches 120oc in temperature, remove from the heat.

Start to whisk your meringue mix again and gently pour in the sugar syrup. Be careful not to pour it onto the actual whisk or you will splatter hot sugar everywhere including yourself. Once combined add your vanilla extract then keep whisking for a further 4-5 minutes. This allows the mix to disperse the heat and  cool a little as you do not want it too hot before you put it in your piping bag.

 

Transfer the mix into a piping bag and pipe your nests on parchment covered baking sheets. Bake in the oven for 2- 2 ,1/4  hours. Once cooked turn off the oven and leave your nests in there to dry out for and hour, or leave in the oven over night. These nests can be made in advance and kept in an airtight container for several days.

 

Baked plums

Ingredients

4 large purple or red plums halved and pitted

2 tsp maple syrup

Juice of 2 large oranges (about 1/3 cup)

Method

Pre-heat the oven to 200oc / gas mark 6

 

In a baking dish add the orange juice, maple syrup and stir to combine. Place the plums cut side down in the liquid. Bake in the oven until tender and juicy. Turn the plums over 2/3rd’s of the way through and spoon over the juice.

 

 

Once cooked allow to cool then serve on top of the meringue nest with a little of the juices. If you place the plums on the meringues hot the nests will dissolve.

 

Chestnut roast with pine nuts, mushrooms and cranberries.

 

This is a delicious twist on a rut roast peppered with little red jewels of sweetness from the cranberries. Fabulous served hot with Christmas dinner or served cold as part of a Boxing day lunch if there is any left! It can be made in advance and reheated in the oven on the day.

 

 

 

Ingredients

4 slices of gluten free bread (If you want this recipe to be egg free too check the bread you are using does not contain egg as many gluten free breads do, I used Bfreed brown seeded as this also adds to the texture and flavour)

1 tbsp rape seed oil

1 large onion, finely chopped

100g chestnut mushrooms, finely chopped

2 cloves garlic, crushed

400g tin butter beans, drained and rinsed

180g roasted chestnuts, chopped. (I used fresh roasted but you can use prepacked, Merchant Gourmet whole chestnut which are found in most supermarkets as they just need chopping and no roasting required.)

60g dried cranberries

2 heaped tbsp pine nuts roughly chopped

1 tbsp chopped fresh thyme

1 tbsp chopped fresh rosemary

2 tbsp plain soya yogurt

150 ml vegetable stock

Salt and pepper to taste

 Method

Pre-heat the oven to 180oc gas mk 4

Grease a loaf tin. In a frying pan heat the oil and add the onion and mushrooms and cook on a low heat to soften for 5 minutes, then add the crushed garlic and cook for a further 2-3 minutes.

In a food processor pulse the bread to make fine breadcrumbs , then add the pine nuts and pulse again to break them up. Make the vegetable stock and add the cranberries and set aside for a few minutes to allow the cranberries to pump up a little.

In a large bowl mash the drained butter beans, then add the chopped chestnuts, breadcrumbs, herbs, yogurt, stock with cranberries and mix, add the mushroom mixture and stir to combine. Season to taste. Transfer the mixture to your prepared loaf tin and press down and smooth the top. Cover with foil and bake in pre-heated oven for 1 ¼ hours, remove from oven, remove foil and bake for a further 10 minutes. When cooked leave to stand for 10- 15 minutes before serving.

 

 

 

Mince Pies

 

 

Like I have said before my family love anything that contains sweet mincemeat. Once I had decided to go completely plant based I found pastry to be the most difficult to convert because it is also gluten free. My go to recipe for pastry was fantastic, so good that people did not know the difference. However, I used an egg to enrich the flavour and help bind the pastry keeping it light and crumbly as any good pastry should be. My attempt as gluten free plant-based pastry were not the greatest unlike pastry made with flour containing gluten, you cannot just rely on the flour. It becomes too hard. I do not like using xanthan gum to bind as I do not like the texture it creates. So more experimenting. I have several recipes for pastry using gluten free oat flour and almond flour, also a shortbread biscuit style but for a mince pie you need a pastry. I decided to replace the egg I would normally use with a flax-seed egg and added some baking powder. This seemed to work well but it’s a work in progress as I strive to make it better. Much of this pastry recipe in in the technique and temperature. For now, here is my mince pie recipe using my homemade mincemeat recipe.

Ingredients

280g gluten free plain flour

120g vegan butter or hard spread (I used stork block)

2-6 depending on humidity very cold water

½ tsp baking powder

1 flax seed egg- 1tbsp ground flax seeds mixed with 3 tbsp water

Pinch of Himalayan sea salt

Homemade mincemeat

A little plant based milk for glazing

2 tsp coconut sugar

 

Method

Firstly, place a fork knife and your water in the fridge, trust me this will become clear later. Mix your flax-seed egg, place the flax-seed and water in a small cup or bowl and stir to combine, set aside.

In a food processor measure your flour and baking powder. With you cold knife cut the hard butter in to small chunks and add to the food processor. This is to keep the butter as cold as possible. I have bags of butter already measured in the freezer, so I just remove from the freezer and put straight into the processor. Using the pulse setting pulse until the mix resembles wet sand. Be careful not to over process so it begins to stick together. Tip this into a mixing bowl. The reason for doing it in the food processor is to keep the mix as cold as possible and to avoid touching it. If you do not have a food processor lightly rub the butter and flour until you get the desired wet sand / breadcrumb look. I would suggest you wash your hands in cold water and dry to keep your hands nice and cold.  With your cold fork stir and mix in your flax seed egg, your mix will not come together yet. Gradually 1 tbsp at a time add your water mix with the fork or the tips of your fingers. You want it to just come together, it will look a bit crumbly at this point. Do not overhandle. One it has come together tip out onto your work surface. Kneed 3 or 4 rolls just to combine, literally a couple of seconds! Do not over handle or kneed your dough or it will become hard and greasy when cooked. Wrap in cling film flatten slightly to make rolling easier and pop in the fridge for about 30 minutes.

When you are ready to make your mince pies remove your pastry from the fridge and allow to sit for about 5 minutes. Grease the holes of a bun tin and pre-heat your oven to 180oc/gas mk 4.

Lay a sheet of cling film on your work surface and dust lightly with gf plain flour. Remove your pastry from its cling film (Do not kneed) and place on the dusted cling film, lightly dust the top of the pastry and cover with another sheet of film. Roll your pastry between the two sheets of cling film. This pastry can be quite sticky and the temptation if rolling on a board is to add more flour which changes the pastry, the pastry absorbs the flour and you become tempted to do it again. By rolling between two sheets of film it allows you to roll without sticking.  Once you have the desired thickness remove the top layer and with a round cutter dipped in flour to stop it from sticking, cut disks big enough to cover the indent of each hole in your bun tin. Fill each pastry case with a spoonful of your mincemeat. Cut either another round or a shape to cover each mince pie. With a brush wet the edges of your base with the plant milk to stick the lid to the base. Brush the tops with a little plant milk to glaze and sprinkle with coconut sugar for colour and sweet crunch.  Bake in the oven for 15-18 minutes, until the top starts to brown. Allow to cool on a wire rack. These are lovely served hot or cold.

Store in airtight tin.

 

 

 

Homemade mincemeat.

 

 

My family and especially my other half love mince pies, well, anything that contains mincemeat to be honest and last year my mincemeat crumble slice was a huge hit. To the point I was making it on request a couple of times a week, it became my gift as we attended friends and family over the festive season. But for those with restricted diets finding good shop bought mincemeat can be a challenge.

Traditionally mince pies contained meat and not the best meat, so spices and fruit were added along with spirits to add flavour and the dish became more of a sweet rather than savoury dish. Now-a-days the shop bought mincemeat uses vegetable shortening rather than beef suet, but I wanted to make a version that doesn’t use as much fat or added refined sugars it also needed to be totally plant based. I decided to make my own with the fruit that I liked, as I am not keen on candied fruit peel and almost every jar of mincemeat I picked up in the store contained it. So, thinking cap on a little research and to the kitchen to have a play and see what I could come up with. Because I wasn’t going to be using the suet I needed to make sure the mincemeat stayed nice and moist, so I decided to use chopped apples in its place which would break down whilst cooking and medjool dates. After a few attempts I have a mincemeat I love, we can all eat and best of all got a thumb’s up from the family. The recipe is below, feel free like myself to change the ratio or choices of dried fruits.

Makes 2 x 500 ml jars

Ingredients

3 red apples chopped in to chunk about 1cm

2 large oranges zest and juice

2 tbsp maple syrup

Zest unwaxed lemon

5 medjool dates ( you can use other dates but these are the best as they are still beautiful and soft and full of flavour)

400g mixed fruit of your choice I used

80g raisins

      80g currants

      80g sultanas

     80g dried cranberries- to add a sharpness and festive flavour

     80g dried apricots chopped

Spices

1 ½ tsp cinnamon

½ tsp ginger

½ tsp nutmeg

1 ½ tsp mixed spice

¼ tsp ground cloves

2 tbsp Brandy

Method

Place all the ingredients into a large pan and heat on a low heat until apples are soft, the fruit has plumped and the liquid has almost been absorbed by the fruit. Stir occasionally. Remove from the heat and allow to cool a little. Transfer the mix to a food processor and pulse until you have your desired consistency. Decant into clean jars. This can be used immediately or stored until needed. If you make this in advance and store the flavours infuse more and become more intense. Decanted in pretty jars along with a recipe for mince pies or mincemeat crumble slice make a fabulous ‘homemade with love’ Christmas gift for a budding baker in the family.

 

 

Yorkshire Puddings

I love Yorkshire puddings!For many years I went without. First I had the horrors of mastering the gluten free Yorkshire which was hit and miss until one day it happened and from then on fabulous Yorkshires….then I went totally plant-based, no eggs, Oh No! roast dinners will never be the same again, for a few years now I have tried many recipes with little or no luck and to be honest I am not a fan of egg replacer so have never tried with that. But, when I’m feeling lucky and in the mood to experiment I tweek the recipe some more, in a vain hope they will work. My poor family has been subjected to many of my trial and errors,  almost having to visit the dentist for broken teeth as many Yorkshires resembled biscuits made from steel. But at last a Yorkshire that worked, was it fluke? I tried again and Huzzah! success, so below I share my triumph with you. These little beauties are great straight out of the oven but if like me you have to sometimes do dinner in relays as they all come home at different times they are still fab heated in the microwave. In-fact my other half loves them like that. So enjoy. x

Ingredients

120g gluten free plain flour

1 heaped tsp gram flour (chickpea flour found in most supermarkets sometimes called Besan)

285ml soya milk, however if you can’t have soya other plant milks work ok.

1/2 tsp gluten free baking powder

rapeseed oil for the pan, olive oil is too strong in flavour for this recipe however if you prefer you can use coconut oil.

Method

Pre-heat your oven to 230oc / gas mk 8 Very Hot Oven!

Pour a little oil into each hole of your pudding tray and place in the oven to get hot.

In a mixing bowl or large measuring jug add the flours baking powder, whisk to combine then add the milk, whisk till mix is combined and fluffy with bubbles.

Remove the tin from the oven the oil must be hot and smoking , if the oil is not hot the puddings will not work. Make sure you shut the oven door to keep the oven at a high temperature. Quickly fill your holes of the pudding tray, they should bubble as you pour it in. Fill to just over half way. Return them to the oven and bake for 20 minutes until risen and golden brown. DO NOT OPEN THE OVEN until they are ready or they will sink and you will have biscuits. Remember the oil MUST be smoking hot for them to work , just like standard Yorkshires.

 

Spiced Pumpkin Bread

 

What a treat as Halloween gets closer. All those beautiful pumpkins waiting to be turned into delightful yummy bakes. This is a great way to get vegetables into the family without them knowing, a loaf that contains one of your 5-a-day and easy to make.

 

The smell in my kitchen whilst I was making this was just awesome. and also brought the family to the kitchen to investigate what was cooking. Delicious, moist tasty Pumpkin bread.

Great with a dollop of apple and ginger conserve.

Serves 8-10

Gluten free, dairy free, egg free, soya free, nut free, plant-based

Dry Ingredients

260g gluten free plain flour

140g coconut sugar (you can use caster sugar if you have no coconut sugar but coconut sugar adds a beautiful caramel flavour)

1 tsp bicarbonate of soda

½ tsp baking powder

½ tsp salt

½ tsp nutmeg

1 tsp mixed spice

1 tsp cinnamon

1 tsp ground ginger

1 tsp ground flax seeds

2 tbsp pumpkin seeds

 

Wet ingredients

340g pumpkin puree (from 1 small squash – acorn, butternut, queen)

3 tbsp maple syrup

3 tbsp plant based milk (I used coconut but any plant based milk will do)

Method

Peel and dice your squash and place in pan with water, bring to boil, then simmer until squash soft. Drain the squash and place in blender and blitz till paste or use stick blender.

Pre-heat the oven to 180oc. Line a loaf tin with baking parchment.

In a mixing bowl add all the dry ingredients and stir to mix. In another bowl add the wet ingredients including the squash puree and stir to combine. Add the wet ingredients to the dry, mix till combined. This batter can be very thick. Transfer to your prepared loaf tin. Bake in the oven for 40-50 minutes until a skewer inserted comes out clean. Leave to cool in the tin for ten minutes before you remove to cool on a wire rack. Wait till completely cool before slicing.

Serve warm with a dollop of ginger and apple jam. This loaf keeps well in an airtight tin for about 4-5 days.

 

 

Raspberry & Chocolate Cake

 

 

Not over sweet, delicious flavour combo and beautifully light fluffy and moist, this is my go to chocolate cake recipe. Always a great hit in our house and never lasts long. You can replace the raspberry ingredients with strawberry if you prefer. Without the topping this cake also freezes well.

 

Makes 10-12 slices

Ingredients

For the cake

300g plain gluten free flour

50g raw cacao powder (you can use cocoa powder)

1 tsp baking powder

1 tsp bicarbonate of soda

½ tsp salt

280g coconut sugar

375ml soya milk. (if preferred you can use other plant milk)

125ml rape seed oil

7 tbsp seedless raspberry jam

1 tsp vanilla extract

For the topping

40ml soya milk

85g dark dairy free chocolate broken into small pieces

60g icing sugar

1 Tbsp maple syrup

Fresh raspberries to decorate.

 

Method

Pre-heat the oven to 180oc /gas mk 4. Grease and line 22cm square or round cake tin. Sift the flour, cacao, baking powder and bicarbonate of soda into a large bowl then stir in the sugar and salt. In a medium saucepan heat the milk, oil, raspberry jam and vanilla extract whisk slowly to combine until the jam has melted. Add the wet ingredients to the dry and stir to combine. Transfer to the prepared cake tin and bake in the pre-heated oven for 45 minutes or until a skewer inserted comes out clean. Allow to cool completely before you add the topping.

To make the topping, heat the soya milk in a saucepan until boiling, remove from heat add the chocolate and stir until melted. With a spatula or large spoon beat in the sugar and maple syrup until smooth and combined. Allow to cool for a couple of minutes then spread over the top of the cake. Top with the fresh raspberries.

 

Pumpkin & Oat Choc chip cookies

 

We all love a sweet treat every now and then and what is better than a cookie with your cuppa while reading a book curled up on the sofa on a windy Autumn day. Heavenly! Alternatively these are great for Halloween for trick or treater’s to your door as they are allergen friendly. These little gems are Gluten free, plant-based and refined sugar free, nut free and soya free if you pick the right chocolate chips. I like to use coconut sugar to give that wonderful caramel flavour however you could replace with soft brown sugar if you wish. Pumpkin seed butter and pumpkin seeds provide the protein and their base is oats . These cookies are perfect for this time of year, spicy, sweet and comforting like a little hug, with the added bonus they are full of all the good stuff, nutrition and protein. They take no time at all to make and the children will love them, that’s if you are prepared to share…Well, that’s me sold…put the kettle on lets have a cookies and a cuppa!

Recipe makes 12-15 cookies depending on size.

 Ingredients

110g Gluten free plain flour

80g gluten free oats

85g coconut sugar

80 g gluten free vegan chocolate chips I used Moo Free which are also soya free)

3 Tbsp pumpkin seed butter (I used Meridian)

1/2 mashed ripe banana

1 heaped tbsp pumpkin seeds

1 heaped tsp pumpkin spice

1/4 heaped tsp bicarbonate of soda

1/4 heaped tsp gluten free baking powder

4 tbsp rape seed or low flavour oil.

 

Method

Pre-heat the oven to 180oc / gas mark 4 . Line a large baking sheet with parchment.

Mix all the ingredients in a bowl until combined, roll into 12 small balls, place on prepared baking sheet, flatten to make cookie shapes, bake in pre-heated oven for 8-10 minutes. Remove from oven, allow to cool a little then transfer to wire rack to cool completely. Store in airtight container in secret location so there are some when you return.

 

Pumpkin Mac & Cheese

 

After a lovely break in the sun the return to England sees me feeling rather cold after being spoilt with Caribbean sun. Autumn has truly arrived in England, the trees are now turning beautiful reds and oranges, there is a brisk sharpness in the morning air and one of my favourite vegetables, the squash, is available at all farmers markets as we approach Halloween.

So, to keep it seasonal and to quash my craving of hearty warming soul food I have decided to make Pumpkin Mac & cheese.  This dish is great served hot or cold. Full of nutrients, anti-oxidants and plenty of protein.  The dried nutritional yeast not only adds Vitamin B12 but a wonderful nutty cheese flavour. If you do not want the crusty topping, or do not want to use the vegan cheese,as i know not everyone is a fan, this recipe works well without the crust but lovely if you still use the tomatoes or just omit the cheese from the crumb and oven bake.

 Pumpkin Mac & Cheese

Serves 4-6

Ingredients

1 Medium butternut squash or small pumpkin, peeled, deseeded and chopped into small pieces.

1 large onion, roughly chopped into large pieces

2 tbsp rapeseed oil

600ml vegetable stock (I used kallo organic veg stock cubes)

small handful chopped sage leaves- about 10

250 g dried gluten free macaroni (I used Orgran rice & corn macaroni, it comes in a 250g packet but if the packet you have is 300g use it all, I only say 250g as this is the bag size I buy. The sauce will cover it)

200 g cherry tomatoes, halved

100g vegan cheese ( I used a mix of Violife mozzarella and cheddar, this is also soya free)

2 small slices or 1 large slice day old gluten free vegan bread, blitzed in the food processor to make bread crumbs. about 80-100g

50 g pumpkin seeds roughly chopped

1 tbsp dried nutritional yeast

1 heaped tsp onion granules

1 tsp paprika

Torn basil leaves to garnish

Salt and Pepper to taste

Method

Pre-heat the oven to 200oc / gas mk 6

In a large roasting tin add the chopped squash and onion, drizzle with oil, season with salt and pepper  then place in the pre-heated oven and roast for 30 minutes until the squash is soft.

In a bowl add the breadcrumbs, cheese, chopped sage, chopped pumpkin seeds and onion granules. Stir to combine and set to one side.

Cook your macaroni according to the instructions on the packet but not for the full amount of time. Normally this small pasta takes as per instructions 8 minutes i boil for 4 till just softening as it will absorb liquid while in the oven. Drain your pasta and rinse to remove all the starch liquid, set to one side.

Make your vegetable stock and set to one side.

Once cooked place the squash, onion, nutritional yeast, paprika, and half the stock in a food processor and blitz then add the rest of the stock and blend until smooth. Taste and season with salt and pepper to taste. Place your macaroni in a baking dish, pour over the sauce and mix until all the macaroni is coated, being careful not to break up the macaroni. Scatter over the halved cherry tomatoes reserving a couple back, then cover with the sage and breadcrumb mix, top with the remaining tomatoes. Return to the oven and bake for 15-20 minutes until the topping turns golden. Scatter over torn basil leaves and serve.

Enjoy!