Leek and butternut squash soup

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Adpated from Delia Smith’s Leek and Butternut Squash Soup

I eat a lot of soup.  Most days this is what I have for lunch and there a few reasons for this.  Firstly, if you make a big batch of soup it’ll last you 3 days (assuming you don’t mind eating the same thing several days in a row).  When you’re pressed for time there is great value in this, and if you vary the toppings and/or accompaniments (bread, breadsticks, cheese shavings, garlic croutons, chives, yogurt swirls, chilli oil, olive tapenade… the list is pretty much as endless as you want it to be), then you are almost eating a different soup every day.  Secondly, I’m feeding a pre-schooler and you can get all sorts of veggies in them via soup.  Not that C has a problem with vegetables in their original format, but there’s limits to how much she will eat and you know, every little helps.  Lastly, you can do a lot more damage to your calorie intake eating a cheese sandwich every day, so soup is often a more sensible option, especially if you also bake as much as I do.  This soup has a delicate flavour and the almond milk gives it a comforting texture akin to a cream of soup.

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Banana butterscotch fudge muffins

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Adapted from Nigella’s Banana Butterscotch Muffins

We’re all about banana at the moment.  This is the third recipe in a row containing this most useful of ingredients but it’s just how things have shaken out recently.  After torturing my guinea pigs (hello long-suffering friends!) with all sorts of trial bakes in a variety of sorry states I owed them something good.  Step in the banana muffin.  I usually do these with a chocolate chip (and you can certainly substitute those if you’d rather) but I thought I’d go a slightly different direction with these.  Pottering around the internet I found that Nigella has a recipe, but her butterscotch morsels are, I think, those found in the US which have the consistency of white chocolate chips.  (I’ve seen peanut butter morsels too – am very jealous).  I thought briefly about using a chopped Caramac bar, as I figure this is the most likely UK equivalent.  But further online delving suggests the Caramac is laced with gluten.  Delicious!  Not.  So I went to the ‘ole faithful’ that is Waitrose.  Here you have a choice of butterscotch pieces, which are hard, not soft, and bubble up crazily creating molten hot streaks of sweet crunch in the muffin, or fudge chunks, all soft and melty.  Neither are quite like the butterscotch pieces originally used in all likelihood, but both will create a very satisfying muffin.  You could try mixing the two in one muffin, or splitting the batch and doing half and half.  Any way you decide to go you will not be disappointed.  Please note though that both the butterscotch pieces and fudge chunks I’ve used contain condensed milk, and so this recipe is not dairy-free.  Since the proportion of lactose in the final portions is likely to be very small I’ve gone with it.  Also, both are made using glucose from wheat syrup, which Coeliac UK states is suitable for those avoiding gluten but will not be for those with a wheat allergy.

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Hale & Hearty banana brownies: product review

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I’ve not posted a product review on this blog yet – mostly because that’s not what I’m here to do, by my choosing, and people don’t send me free stuff!  And I’m more of a fan of making things from scratch, because taking a ‘normal’ recipe and removing the gluten, or finding something delicious that is naturally gluten-free is just more interesting to me.  This is therefore likely to be one of very few indeed.  But I have recently been away a little bit, (term has now started so normal service will shortly be resumed), pretty much for the first time since going gluten-free and where “self-catering” has been the order of the day.  Although I think I’ve found a flour blend that works for most cakes, and a different one that works for most cookies, I still find myself dipping into various jars when I’m testing out how to convert a recipe.  No one would take 10 different flours on holiday, would they?  So what should you do when you’re not familiar with an area, and are not sure what the local shops will sell you, but being gluten-free means you’re unlikely to just find brown rice flour at the nearest corner shop?  I also think this sort of box mix might be the middle ground answer for anyone catering for someone gluten-free who doesn’t want to buy something ready made, but doesn’t want to spend money on a ton of different flours they’ll likely not use again.  Usual disclaimer stuff – I didn’t get the product free, I’m not being paid, and I don’t know anyone who works for the company.

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Date, honey and walnut cake

Date, honey and walnut cake

Adapted from Walnut, date & honey cake by Mary Cadogan at BBC Good Food

I’ve adapted this recipe primarily to test out for the next camping trip to the Isle of Wight.  Upon arrival a nice cup of tea and a restorative slice of cake is required to ensure the smooth erection of a tent!  Chocolate cake does not go down well with this audience so I’ve been investigating other options, and in this case something with dates and walnuts, which should meet with approval.  It is also super easy so I should be able to whip it up, get it in the oven, cooled and spread with a little honey topping before I set off for our afternoon sailing.  Then we can have a nice fresh slice on arrival.  Yum, yum.  This cake, as with many other gluten-free cakes I’ve found, looks a little like it is curdling after you’ve whisked it up.  Don’t panic!  If you find you’ve left it in the bowl a bit too long before tipping it into the tin, just give it another quick whisk before pouring it in.  It’ll be fine – just trust me!  You should wait until this loaf is completely cold before spreading the honey on top or it’ll just slide right off AND before cutting it so you get the best texture.  I bet you don’t hold out long enough… 🙂  This cake also doesn’t keep terribly well so you’ll have to just eat it all.  Such a shame!!

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Quinoa moussaka

Quinoa moussaka

Adapted from Quinoa moussaka with garlic cashew bechamel by Spabettie and Vegetarian quinoa moussaka by An Edible Mosaic

This was very nearly vegan.  And then I sprinkled some parmesan on it and then it wasn’t even vegetarian.  This bothers me a fair bit but sometimes that’s just how it goes.  Now, if you are a veggie then go get yourself some of that Italian hard cheese made without animal rennet.  If you’re vegan then get yourself some Redwood Parmy or similar (not that I’ve ever tried it but I’ve heard it’s THE vegan parmesan substitute).  You could just leave it off and I’m sure you’d like this well enough.  But, although the moussaka was lovely without cheese it was OUTSTANDING with it.  When I first tasted it from the oven I thought, “this is nice but it could do with something” and that something was parmesan. Also, if you’re vegetarian, why would you make a dairy-free bechamel?  You don’t have to after all.  Well, you know I’m avoiding lactose, so the dairy-free bechamel was almost a given for me (I could have used lactofree milk but I planned for this to be vegan, and then I went parmesan crazy – sighs).  There’s miniscule amounts of lactose in parmesan, due to the method used to make it, so I can just bung it on.  It is a mixed up, crazy world when I cook.  Whatever you decide to use you should make a version of this.  I received some lovely graffiti aubergines in the veg box, and I wanted something that when cooked would show off the pretty stripes.  That didn’t work out so well, but it still looked good I think.  I’m also going to share my top tip for reducing the fat in a dish like this.  Steam your aubergine slices.  It is true you won’t get the pretty charred bands you get with griddling but you do get lovely soft aubergine for layering that hasn’t soaked up a pint of oil.  Also, as this recipe calls for making a cashew cream it is probably worth mentioning that I’ve managed to achieve a very smooth cream using a combination of a food processor followed by a stick blender.  Until I win the lottery and get that Vitamix, it’ll do me.

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Marbled banana and chocolate buns

Marbled banana and chocolate buns

Adapted from Post Punk Kitchen’s Marbled Banana Bread

I’ve called these little treats buns, although they are not yeasted.  I derived the recipe from one for a banana bread, and they don’t rise as much as a muffin and retain a heavier texture than a regular sponge.  So I’m going with buns and you can’t stop me!  I’ve also left these nut-free so it would be safe to feed a herd of kiddy-winks over the summer holidays without fear of anyone whipping out their epi-pen.  I’m starting to get pre-school nut fear.  Not because C is allergic, but because almond milk is my go-to non-dairy milk and I just don’t think about it being ‘nutty’.  I know people can be allergic to pretty much anything so it’d be difficult to avoid everything that might set someone off.  They play with salt dough made with wheat at pre-school so I’m thinking of sheep dipping C at the front door on her return every day!  We’ve been told though to avoid nuts and kiwi fruit.  I should be able to do this very easily, but I still have the fear that I’ll send C off one day with some fairly boring leftovers to consume and then be running back down the street some minutes later shouting, “Nooooooooooooooooo”, because I’ve put almond milk in a biscuit I made four days ago and just forgot.  Maybe I’ll have to tape a note to the front door.  Perhaps it should just say, “NUTS”, because some days that could help me on a number of levels.

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Potato and egg bake, with sausage (soysage) and avocado

Baked breakfast hash with avocado

One of the things I love most about leftovers is how it opens up a world of cuisine fusion possibilities.  Nothing too radical, but the putting together of things in a less than traditional way that is tasty and has some links back to a classic.  So here are the things I needed to use up today (it was also a Monday and I do try to be meatless first thing in a week, so if I don’t manage it again I know I started it in the right vein!): cold roasted potatoes, soysages, eggs, cavolo nero, avocado.  The things that popped into my head were – breakfast hash (potato, eggs, soysages) and huevos rancheros (eggs, cavolo nero, avocado).  Why not a combination of the two?  A sort of spicy and tomatoey potato bake, with the cavolo nero in there and a egg baked in, topped with crispy soysage crumb, and slices of avocado.  It sounded pretty good in my head, and I have to say it was delicious.  I’d say no need for tortilla because of the potato (although if you’ve got some, dipping in the egg is lush), unless you’ve only got a little cooked potato and you want to bulk out the carbs.  You could easily have this for breakfast if you wanted.  We had it for dinner because it is substantial enough, and who doesn’t like having breakfast at dinnertime?

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