Creamy tomato soup

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Adapted from Poppy’s Patisserie | Bunny Kitchen’s Tomato and Coconut Soup

I’m sure I’d like you to all think that I’m 200 recipes ahead of my publishing schedule and I’m planning weeks of meals way in advance with a tightly controlled, recipe led, shopping list in hand.  It is true I’ve got a lot of draft posts in the bag, but I can’t publish things until I’m sure they’re going to work, and anyway I really am at the mercy of the weekly veg box for much of the time.  I know I could just ditch it and go completely with organisation and certainty, but I know I’d miss that vegetable lottery.  I genuinely revel in the challenge of planning meals around what turns up.  My life is that exciting!!  It’s like living in a game show based on constant rounds of Ready Steady Cook.  So, I found myself with some rapidly collapsing giant tomatoes and a heat wave.  I ate this soup chilled, but I tasted it hot and both ways it was lovely.  I’ve robbed the method directly from Poppy’s Patisserie and her Tomato and Coconut Soup, rather shamelessly!  But I wasn’t in the mood for coconut – I may have overdosed after making dairy-free ice cream last week (recipe to follow) – hard as that is to believe!  If you like a very smooth soup then you may want to sieve this after blending, but I liked the texture as it was.  Super tasty from roasting the ingredients.  It has no dairy in it, but it still tastes creamy – that’ll be the little bit of almond milk in there.  Delicious.

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Fancy flapjacks

Fancy flapjack

Adapted from Kids’ Baking by Sara Lewis

Why are these flapjacks fancy I hear you all cry?!  Because you will need TWO saucepans people to make these.  Not just the one you might be expecting, but two whole saucepans.  Fancy, right??  (Note: if you only have one saucepan, do not despair!  There is nothing to say you can’t just wash up your one saucepan in between making the two bits of this.  I’m just lazy.)  The reason you will need two is because they have a special layer of apple and date goo and it makes them fabulous.  I like flapjacks well enough but sometimes I can find them a bit dry.  No chance of that with these.  The extra layer makes them moist and moreish!  I think the book they came from is out of print, and I came by it when the book van came to our office.  It feels like a million years since I worked out there in the big real world (actually it’s been getting on for 5 years) but I can’t imagine the book van isn’t still a common thing.  I think the premise is books that have been published for a while are sold at discount prices because the stock has been bought wholesale.  Anyway, as soon as I saw this book I knew I had to have it.  I didn’t have a child then so I didn’t buy this so a youngster could make the recipes, it was entirely for me!  What I liked was how easy the recipes seemed, no unnecessary faffing about, and no fancy ingredients you’d never use again.  A solid workhorse of a cookbook.  I even bought a copy for my mum after she ate the banana gingerbread (another recipe that is really good).  If you happen to come across a copy you should pick it up as it won’t disappoint.

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Mushroom and spinach risotto

Mushroom and spinach risotto

Continuing my cunning plan to get more mushrooms into C without her noticing, I attempted a mushroom risotto.  She’ll never spot them right?!  Ha, ha, ha…. Actually I billed this as “cheesy rice” and indeed she exclaimed it was “very cheesy mummy” and ate half the bowl before she followed that up with “yuck mushrooms!”  I think I got away with it for a while there because I did dice them up small, but you should feel free to chop them up in any way you find attractive, or less obvious, as per your own situation.  I went for an entirely vegan risotto, using oil instead of butter, almond cream instead of crème fraîche, vegetable stock instead of bone stock, and nutritional yeast instead of cheese.  But I’ve made this many times using any combination of the above depending on what is in the fridge and cupboards, and every time it is delicious.  Don’t let my three-year-old’s aversion to mushrooms put you off!  Unless you don’t like mushrooms either, in which case fair enough.  I often change-up the serving size on this to suit just me and C but also, if you cool and refrigerate any leftover risotto quickly, it can be used to make very tasty arancini for lunch the following day.

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Gingerbread cake cookies

Gingerbread cake cookies

Adapted from The Go Lightly Gourmet’s Vegan Ginger Cookies

Is it a cake?  Is it a cookie?  Is it a bread?  Hell, this recipe doesn’t know what it is!  These little treats are too dense to be a cake, too puffy to be a cookie and too fluffy to be a bread.  I guess the best way for you to know what they are is to make them.  Answers on a postcard!  What I like about them is how they are reminiscent of the gingerbread men I used to get from the bakers when I was a child.  They are not quite as sturdy on the outer edge as I remember, but the inside is the same fluffy texture I’ve been craving.  Fashioning this super soft dough into a man shape feels like an impossible dream.  But I feel happy to have found this recipe as I’ve tested quite a few gingerbreads and none have cut it until now.  See chocolate-covered gingerbread bites if you don’t believe me!  It did need some help in the gluten-free department and I know there are other recipes out there that suggest just subbing out a gluten-free flour mix, that you buy ready mixed, would work fine.  But I liked the look of this one and I’ve added a few tweaks to make it work.  I hope this transports you back to a childhood memory as it did for me.

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Roasted red pepper and sweet potato soup

Roasted pepper and sweet potato soup

For the record, I’d just like to make absolutely clear, this soup is red, ok?  It is not orange.  it is red.  And I’m sticking to that story.  Of course, it is yet another soup recipe and that’s because although it is nearly June it has still been raining and cold here in good old England.  I’m not surprised because I’ve lived here all my life.  I am just resigned to it.  However, this soup is as lovely chilled as it is warm so take that weather!  I don’t care what you do, this soup will conquer all.  I’m actually in a little bit of a flap because this weekend it is the annual street party in our road.  We started having them for the last royal wedding, then last year it was the Queen’s Jubilee and this year, well, there is just another one.  Bunting at the ready!  Of course this year I won’t eat anyone else’s food, because this year is the first year of being gluten-free.  We are supposed to bring one savoury and one sweet dish but I might do more, just to give myself some variety.  I don’t feel up to quizzing the neighbours about what’s in their offerings.  I foresee a lot of pasta salad, sausage rolls and cake!

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Jerusalem artichoke and carrot soup

Jerusalem artichoke and carrot soup

Jerusalem artichokes are an ugly beast.  That is the joy of getting a veg box.  One week you get dirty sticks (salsify), then aliens (kholrabi), and now possibly the trickiest vegetable to peel known to man.  Anyway, they really are very good for you, with lots of vitamins and minerals.  Lots of iron, which is very good for me as I’ll take any iron I can get, and also a prebiotic called inulin.  This promotes bacteria production, obviously as a prebiotic, and is why this vegetable is renowned for its effect on the human body.  The best description I ever saw??  Fartichokes.  Genius.  But then I have a nearly 3-year-old and all bodily functions are hilarious in this house.  I’m hoping that because I got a girl this will wear off, but I do like a puerile joke even now, so perhaps this is an unrealistic dream.  The soup itself is deliciously sweet with fresh flavours.  The artichokes make it seem creamy by adding a velvet texture without the need for dairy or potato.  Although sophisticated enough to serve to guests, you’d have to pick them carefully.  The very young and the very old (who don’t care or find it hysterical) would be fine.  Your best friend the first time you meet her new boyfriend, perhaps not.  Since I sleep alone I’ve got no one to offend, so if you’re in the same position I’d recommend a cold night when the extra warm air keeping your duvet nice and toasty would be welcome. 😉  By the way, this was going to be artichoke and mushroom soup (equally fabulous) but life got in the way, the mushrooms went in some pasta, and the carrots went bendy until all they were good for was soup.  Isn’t that just the way it goes sometimes?

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Strawberry, banana and chocolate milkshake

Chocolate, strawberry and banana milkshake

Here in the UK it is National Vegetarian Week (today until the 26th) so in honour of that I will not be posting any meat recipes this week.  Veggie all the way baby!  To that end here is the first of this week’s treats.  I’ll try and mix it up a bit and not just give you all cakes and biscuits, I promise.  It is also school half-term next week (in this bit of the country at least) and there’s a long weekend coming up.  I feel everything has aligned for the purpose of milkshake!  We’ve gone back to gloomy weather but I’m going to do my absolute best to force out the sunshine with recipes designed for better weather.  Sunny indoors if nothing else.  This recipe is also so easy it is barely a recipe at all!  But if you’ve suddenly got marauding kids to deal with, a relatively healthy drink that is also a treat might be just the thing.  I’m using chocolate coconut milk drink here because I was curious to know what it was like really.  I regularly buy the plain version but I wondered how the chocolate one (it has cocoa and a little extra sugar in it) compared.  It is quite nice and not at all coconuty but quite thin, like skim cow’s milk.  Nice enough on its own but better as an ingredient in my opinion.  I’ve also used frozen banana chunks as they thicken up when blended so you get a luscious milkshake without resorting to fake thickeners which I can’t bear, or ice-cream which will be quite sugary.  Remember to pop some ripe bananas, chopped into chunks, into the freezer the night before you need to make this unless you keep some around anyway.  I find if I’ve got a glut of over-ripening bananas and I’m all done with banana bread, then I can still avoid waste by freezing the bananas in chunks for using in milkshakes, or just on their own whizzed up in the blender as soft ice cream.  I’ve therefore usually already got some in the freezer ready to go.  As for the strawberries, well I just can’t tell you how excited I am that the British strawberry season has started!  I have noticed that the punnet sizes are smaller (227g not 250g as they used to be) and I bet the price hasn’t changed.  Price rises by stealth are a big thing at the moment.  Anyway, I digress.  I got 3 packs for the price of 2 today, which would be no bargain if any went to waste.  Not likely in this house though!

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