Vichyssoise (leek and potato soup)

Brrr, it’s suddenly really really cold. A good excuse to make some soup, the perfect comforting winter warmer lunch option …

In my eyes, Vichyssoise is a French classic, although I understand there is some debate over whether it is French or American in origin. It is normally served cold but January isn’t really the season for cold soups and it’s also divine served hot. The classic recipe calls for plenty of butter and a ‘vat’ of cream, but I guarantee you won’t even notice that these ingredients are missing. You really don’t need them. The softly cooked leeks and potato give a natural luxurious velvety smoothness so why add butter or cream? Plus, who wouldn’t love a fantastic flavoured soup with just 4 ingredients as its base? It really is one to file under ‘simple’.

IMG_3860

You’ll notice the different colours in the photos, the greener soup has some of the green part of the leeks added, the cream one has just the white part of the leeks. The greener soup has more of a ‘leek-y’ taste, the white is milder – just go for whichever you prefer the look and taste of.

 

Vichyssoise

(dairy-free, egg-free, nut-free, soya-free, sesame-free, gluten-free, vegetarian and vegan)

serves 2 hungry people or 4 as a starter

4 leeks, whites only, finely sliced

1 tbsp sunflower oil

1 large or 2 medium potatoes, peeled and cut into large chunks

600ml vegetable stock

salt and ground white pepper, to taste

  1. Gently sweat the leeks in the sunflower oil until they’re unctuous and soft but not browned. Add the potatoes. Stir.
  2. Pour over the hot stock. Bring to the boil, then reduce to a simmer.
  3. Simmer (covered) for 20-30 minutes, until the potatoes are well cooked.
  4. Liquidise. Taste and add seasoning as required.
  5. Serve with fresh bread or savoury scones.

IMG_3856

Mini Chocolate Chip Cookies

In response to my cookie loving Instagram followers, here is the keenly awaited mini chocolate chip cookie recipe. 🙂

I have many many cookie recipes on my blog, but I haven’t created a new one for a while. I seem to keep going back to old favourites such as my amazingly delicious chocolate sable cookies, which unfailing get requested every few weeks. Even though those sables are hard to beat, sometimes a slightly less intense chocolate cookie is required, and this inspired me to get creative with a standard chocolate chip mix.

There are so many finishes to a chocolate chip cookie; some like them chewy, soft, crunchy, or crispy that it’s hard to know what makes a perfect variety. However, these mini chocolate chip cookies are pretty awesome with a deliciously more-ish soft and chewy texture with a crispy edge, almost hitting all the requirements of a an ideal chocolate chip recipe in one biscuit. My top tip is that the key is caster sugar for crisp and soft brown for chewy – combine the two and you have perfection!

I’ve made these mini, because it immediately makes them cuter, more desirable and well you can just eat more mini cookies which can only be a good thing when they’re this good 😉

Perfect mini chocolate chip cookies

(dairy-free, egg-free, nut-free, can be soya-free, sesame-free, vegetarian and vegan)

 

makes about 30 or so

100g soft brown sugar

75g caster sugar

125g dairy-free margarine

1/2 tbsp vanilla essence

225g self-raising flour

pinch of salt

80g chocolate chips

1 tbsp dairy-free milk

  1. Cream together the margarine and sugars until light and fluffy
  2. Add the vanilla, flour and salt and mix well to form a soft dough. Stir in the milk and chocolate chips.
  3. Wrap and place in the fridge to firm up
  4. Preheat the oven to 180 degrees centigrade/gas mark 4. Line two baking sheets with parchment.
  5. roll the dough into olive sized balls and place a little apart on the lined baking sheets.
  6. Bake for 8-10 minutes until puffed up and golden.
  7. Cool on a wire rack.

 

Biscoff Spiced and Stuffed Muffins

What’s better than a wonderful Biscoff spiced muffin? Well obviously a Biscoff spiced AND stuffed muffin! 😋

This muffin recipe is a real winner, it lends itself to many flavours and produces the exact authentic muffin texture of bouncy sponge and an exterior that stands up to being packed in a lunch box and lasting til midday. As you might have noticed, I’m still on a packed lunch vibe, and these muffins will definitely feature in Little S’s lunch this week. (That is if they don’t all disappear before!)

Biscoff Spiced and Filled Muffins

(dairy-free, egg-free, nut-free, sesame-free, vegetarian and vegan)

makes 12

50g caster sugar

35g soft brown sugar

1 tbsp baking powder

250g plain flour

1/4 tsp salt

1 tsp speculaas spice (or sub 1/2 tsp cinnamon, 1/4 tsp ginger and 1/4 tsp ground cloves)

115g dairy-free margarine, melted

150ml dairy-free milk

150ml dairy-free yogurt

75ml golden or maple syrup

6 tsp Lotus spread

  1. Heat the oven to 190 degrees Centigrade. Fill a muffin tray with liners.
  2. Mix all the dry ingredients together. Pour in the wet ingredients and combine. You want not clumps of raw flour but do not over-mix, lumpy is good.
  3. 1/4 fill the liners and then dollop 1/2 tsp of Lotus spread on top. Cover with the remaining muffin mix.
  4. I topped mine with some pearl sugar, but it’s not necessary
  5. Bake for 20 minutes, or until risen and golden and a knife comes out clean.
  6. Cool on a wire rack.
  7. Drizzle with water icing before serving if you like.

Noodle Salad

Happy New Year! I wish you and your loved ones a very happy and healthy 2019 🙂

To kickstart a fresh new start, here’s a delightfully tasty noodle salad which is perfect for a tasty lunch as it works equally at home or in a lunch box – even better it keeps for a good few days and so is perfect for making on a Sunday and tossing on a plate or in a Tupperware for the following fews days.

After ‘putting up with’ school lunches Little S has decided to try out packed lunches as we realised that although her school tries really hard and gives her a proper cooked safe lunch every day, she just wasn’t eating it as it often wasn’t to her taste. So we’re embarking on a packed lunch journey which will make life even busier but will also provide a new opportunity for creating interesting and tasty safe lunches. Expect lots of salads, snacks and lunchbox friendly baked goodies in the next few months!

Noodle Salad

(dairy-free, egg-free, nut-free, sesame-free, vegetarian and vegan)

serves 4

175g spaghetti, cooked and refreshed in cold water

3 tbsp extra virgin olive oil

3 tbsp soy sauce

1 and 1/2 tbsp balsamic vinegar

1 and 1/2 tbsp sugar

1 tsp salt

1/2 tsp chilli paste or fresh finely chopped chilli

Veg to taste: I used cucumber and carrot ribbons and sweetcorn as they’re little S favourites. But roasted aubergine cubes, peppers (roasted or raw), spring onions, coriander and baby corn all work well too.

  1. Mix together the oil, soy sauce, balsamic, sugar, salt and chilli.
  2. Add the cooked, cooled spaghetti and toss well.
  3. Add the veg just before serving and toss again.

Roasted Parsnip and Garlic Gnocchi

Where do you stand with parsnips? They seem to divide people, but for me they’re an essential part of Christmas and I absolutely love the sweet taste of a roasted crispy parsnip. In an attempt to win over the parsnip haters I’ve been experimenting with parsnip based dishes. I came across a recipe online for parsnip gnocchi and thought it sounded like a fabulous idea. All the bouncy pillowyness of gnocchi with a sweet parsnip and roasted garlic flavour – yum!

I’m also currently looking for a veggie addition to my Christmas lunch and I think these gnocchi could be what I’m looking for. We’re going to the in-laws for Christmas Day and as the only veggie in the family I end up with some vegetables or I have to sort myself out. It’s not a problem as I love to cook but it does give me yet another thing to think about as I also have to provide all safe snacks, chocolates, puddings and sauces.

I’m always keen that my veggie dish is something the whole family can dip into, as I really hate being the solitary ‘odd’ vegetarian who has their own solo meal whilst everyone else enjoys a communal eating experience (which is what Christmas lunch is all about after all). So my intention is for a veggie addition that everyone can enjoy; however, from experience everyone else will probably stick with their turkey and give my invention a wide berth! What’s your experience? Do you have a family who just want the usual traditional dishes, or one which is happy to try new additions?

The beauty of these gnocchi is that they have the flavours of Christmas in an interesting format, they’re easily reheated and they also make a pretty good nibble when bunked in a dip. They also went down well with the parsnip hating younger members of the family, and that’s no mean feat!

Roasted Parsnip and Garlic Gnocchi

(dairy-free, egg-free, nut-free, soya-free, sesame-free, vegetarian and vegan)

serves 2 as a main course, or 4 as an addition to a roast meal

1 baking potato

4 medium parsnips

3 cloves garlic

1 tbsp extra virgin olive oil

Salt and pepper

75g OO flour

1 tbsp nutritional yeast (optional)

A sprinkle of Herbs de Provence or thyme

  1. Preheat the oven to 220 degrees centigrade
  2. Peel and Chop the potatoes and parsnips into even sizes large pieces
  3. Place in a roasting tin with the unpeeled garlic. Drizzle with oil and season. Roast for 30-40 minutes until soft and starting to turn golden. Squeeze the garlic out of the skins and add to the roasted veg.
  4. Cool and then blitz the veg and garlic in a food processor. Add the flour, nutritional yeast, herbs  and seasoning and pulse until it becomes a dough. Wrap in cling film and leave to relax for a while.
  5. Roll into 4 sausages, each about 1cm thick. Cut into 2 cm slices, gently squeezing to give a pillowy shape
  6. Bring a pan of water to the boil and in batches cook the gnocchi for 2-3 minutes until they rise to the surface. Remove with a slotted spoon and drain on kitchen paper.
  7. Heat another 1tbsp oil in a frying pan and fry the gnocchi until golden and crispy on all sides.
  8. Serve drizzled with oil.
  9. To reheat just pop in a hot pan to warm through.

Christmas Spice Pancakes

I’ve decided that we’re going to do a full on Christmas this year, with festive flavours dominating our menu. After all, why do half measures when you can go the whole hog!!

That got me thinking about breakfast, our only non festive meal of the day. Surely Christmas day needs to start with a bang to set the right tone for the festivities.

I love the spices that fill the air at Christmas and that inspired these delightfully spiced Christmas pancakes. Pancakes are not only a luxurious celebratory breakfast but are quick and simple to make and light enough to leave room for the epic Christmas lunch. I think that hit’s all the requirements for a Christmas breakfast! Don’t forget though that pancakes also make a fantastic pudding too.

The spice mix used in this recipe is the epitome of the taste of Christmas and is perfect for adding to any recipe at this time of year. I’ve added it to soya lattes, pastry, apple pie and of course these pancakes.

Serve with a dusting of glittery icing sugar or a glug of maple syrup 🙂

 

Christmas Spice Mix

1 tsp ground cinnamon

1/2 tsp ground ginger

1/2 tsp mixed spice

zest of 1 clementine

Christmas Spice Pancakes

(dairy-free, egg-free, nut-free, soya-free, sesame-free, vegetarian and vegan)

Serves 2

1/2 cup self-raising flour

1 tbsp caster sugar

1 tbsp soft brown sugar

1 tsp baking powder

1 tsp Christmas spice mix

1/4 tsp salt

1 tbsp flavourless oil, I used sunflower

1/2 cup dairy-free milk, I used oat milk.

  1. Sift the flour, spice, salt and baking powder into a bowl and stir in the sugar.
  2. Whisk in the oil and milk to form a smooth, fairly thin batter. Set aside to start bubbling
  3. Heat a frying pan and swipe with a little oil. Cook the pancakes on both sides until starting to colour and slightly puffed up
  4. Keep warm until ready to serve
  5. Serve with maple syrup or icing sugar