Salt and Pepper Oven Fries

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Who doesn’t love a bowl of fries? The ultimate junk food with their fried, crispy, savoury moreish-ness.

This healthier oven-cooked version gives perfect results – crispy and light with only a tiny amount of oil. Add some salt and pepper and they’re ready with little fuss, in no time at all. Whilst it may seem a faff to soak and thoroughly dry the potato batons prior to cooking, it’s quite essential if you want a perfect fluffy inside and crisp outer. Never need your table be disgraced by soggy frozen chips again!

Salt and Pepper Oven Fries (dairy-free, egg-free, nut-free, soya-free, sesame-free, gluten-free, vegetarian and vegan)

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Serves 2, multiply as necessary

  • 2 medium to large potatoes
  • 1 tsp oil of choice
  • Salt and pepper

– Leaving the skin in, chop the potatoes into chip sized batons.
– Soak in cold water for at least half an hour.
– Thoroughly pat dry
– Toss with the oil and seasoning
– Scatter on a baking sheet in a single layer, use more than one baking sheet if you have lots of fries
– Bake for 30-40 minutes at 220 degrees centigrade/Gas Mark 6, tossing once or twice during the cooking

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Chocolate cake with Fudgy lotus/biscoff glaze

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This recipe is the result of a total experiment involving an ignored jar of Lotus caramelised Biscoff spread that was sitting in the larder, looking all lonely and sorry for itself. I’ve used it before to great success in these little stuffed chocolate pillows of biscuits, but although it would seem like a great substitute for peanut butter, however, we find it far too sweet to use as a spread. So the jar has been sitting there for many months, looking less and less loved. While it may be on the sweet side for a spread – which is only our opinion, some people can’t get enough of the stuff – I reckoned it could have some other interesting uses.

The above mentioned cookies paired the sweet caramel flavour with chocolate to great success, and this is a repeat of that combination. This is basically a riff on a chocolate fudge cake – the sponge is supremely moist and delicious, not at all dry and crumbly like some dairy and egg-free cakes can be. The Fudgy lotus topping gives a wonderful sweet glaze and compliments the deep chocolate flavour rather perfectly.

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

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makes 1 2lb loaf

  • 1 cup plus 2tbsp plain flour
  • 1/4 cup cocoa powder
  • 1/2 tsp bicarbonate of soda
  • 1/2 tsp baking powder
  • Pinch of salt
  • 1/3 cup soft brown sugar
  • 1/3 cup caster sugar
  • 1 cup dairy-free yogurt
  • 1/3 cup sunflower oil

– Preheat the oven to 180 degrees centigrade/Gas Mark 4
– Line a loaf tin
– Sift together the flour, cocoa, bicarbonate, baking powder and salt into a mixing bowl
– Stir in the sugars
– In a separate bowl, mix together the yogurt and oil
– Pour the wet ingredients into the dry and gently mix until thoroughly combined
– Pour into the lined loaf tin and bake for 40-45 minutes, until a knife comes out clean and the top of the cake is springy to the touch
– Cool in the tin before transferring to a wire rack

Fudgy Caramelised Icing Glaze (dairy-free, egg-free, nut-free, soya-free, sesame-free, vegetarian and vegan)

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  • 1/4 cup lotus spread (I used crunchy but smooth would work even better)
  • 1 cup icing sugar
  • 1 tbsp golden or maple syrup
  • 2 tbsp dairy-free milk, I used Oatly
  • 1 tbsp dairy-free spread, such as Pure

– Melt together all the ingredients
– Bring up to a boil and simmer for a couple of minutes to thicken
– Cool slightly then pour over the cake
– Decorate if you wish, then leave to set.

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Plum tart

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This is such a simple, stunningly pretty tart you’ll wonder why you ever thought a tart needed anything more than fruit and pastry. And it was a great way of using up a pile of slightly over-ripe plums from Clive’s Fruit Farm.

You could just use the soft stone fruit and pastry which works impressively enough, but a few grinds of black pepper and drizzles of honey (or maple syrup) give this simple dish a much more special feel. I have to admit that the concept behind this recipe isn’t my own, I came across the idea online (somewhere) a while back, but only with the divine Opal plums from Clive’s did the idea resurface.

Plum Tart (dairy-free, egg-free, nut-free, soya-free, sesame-free, vegetarian and vegan if use maple syrup)

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Serves 4-6

  • 1/2 sheet puff pastry
  • Plums, halved to cover the pastry
  • 1 tbsp caster sugar
  • A few grinds of black pepper
  • Honey or maple syrup to drizzle

– Preheat the oven to 200 degrees centigrade/Gas Mark 4
– Roll the pastry out to an even rectangle (or whatever shape you like)
– Score a frame around the edge, about 1 cm in.
– Fill the centre with the plum halves, some facing up and some down, then sprinkle over the caster sugar

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– Grind over the black pepper
– Bake for 20 minutes or until the edges are browned and all the pastry is cooked through
– Drizzle with the honey or syrup
– Serve at room temperature with a scoop of dairy-free ice cream

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Classic Victoria Sponge Cake (without the eggs or dairy)

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The Great British Bake Off is back on TV – yippee! It’s such great light-hearted escapism, perfect after a long day at work.

The Victoria sponge has to be the true classic British bake – just the kind contestants are challenged to make on the Great British Bake Off. You’ll find versions of this cake at any fete, tea room, WI meeting or farm shop up and down the land. And elderly ladies up and down the land are sure to be having it at tea time. But strangely enough you rarely see an egg and dairy-free Victoria Sponge recipe. In vegan baking I think often a good rise is achieved with the use of baking powder and vinegar and that cocoa is so often added to mask any residual flavour. Since this version doesn’t rely on vinegar, but rather the acidity in dairy-free yogurt, it stands up well and keeps hold of the delicate vanilla flavour.

You may question my making a classic cake and then filling it with chocolate buttercream rather than raspberry jam? Well, I wanted to use the jam which I personally like, and I thought the photos would look stunning with the traditional jam filling shining berry bright between the delicate yellow layers, but in the end thrift won over. I know my children well and for some reason they will not go near a cake filled with jam – little S still remembers with horror her 3rd birthday cake which had jam in!! So I filled mine with fluffy chocolate buttercream to ensure it didn’t get wasted. Please fill yours with jam and let me know how it tastes – maybe send me a photo?

Victoria Sponge Cake (dairy-free. egg-free, nut-free, sesame-free, can be soya-free, vegetarian and vegan)

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makes 1 cake

  • 1 cup dairy-free spread
  • 1 cup caster sugar
  • 500ml dairy-free yogurt, I used Alpro vanilla for added vanilla flavour
  • 2 cups self-raising flour
  • 2 tsp baking powder
  • Pinch of salt
  • 1 tsp vanilla extract
  • 2 tbsp icing sugar
  • jam or buttercream to fill

– Preheat the oven to  180 degrees Centigrade/Gas Mark 4
– Grease and line the bottom of a cake tin
– Melt together the dairy-free spread and caster sugar
– Whisk in the yogurt and vanilla
– In a separate bowl sift together the flour, baking powder and salt
– Pour the yogurt mix into the dry and carefully fold together until no lumps remain
– Pour into the prepared tin
– Bake for 30-40 minutes until a skewer comes out clean
– Leave to cool in the tin, then remove the tin and finish the cooling on a wire rack.
– Split in half and fill the centre with jam or buttercream

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– Place the top back on and liberally sprinkle icing sugar all over the top

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Banh Mi

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I’m trying to revolutionise my lunches – no more buying sandwiches if I can help it. When I went back to work it seemed quite exciting being in London and being able to buy lunch from countless food outlets, but I’m well and truly over that now – it’s expensive and boring. The other day I went into 5 different shops and couldn’t even see one thing I wanted to eat! So as a result, I’m experimenting with some more unusual sandwich options. Banh Mi is a Vietnamese special and features a crispy baguette filled with chicken/pork, mayo, chilli sauce, salad and pickled veg. Here’s my veggie version with avocado and chargrilled red pepper, and rather delicious it was too. The homemade radish and carrot pickle only takes minutes to make but is essential to the overall flavour.

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For the pickle:

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  • 1 carrot, shaved with a peeler
  • 4 radish, finely chopped
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 1 tsp sugar
  • 2 tbsp vinegar
  • 1 tbsp sugar
  • 2 tbsp water

– Massage the salt and 1 tsp sugar into the shredded veg, then rinse and drain
– Place the sugar, vinegar and water in a bowl. Stir until the sugar has dissolved
– Add the veg and leave to marinade for about half an hour.

For the sandwich:

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  • 1 ready to bake baguette
  • 1 tbsp mayonnaise (dairy and egg-free if required)
  • 4 pieces roasted red pepper antipasti
  • 6 slices cucumber
  • 1/4 avocado, sliced
  • 1 spring onion, shredded
  • 1/2 the carrot and radish pickle
  • 4 dashes hot sauce
  • Coriander leaves

– Assemble as desired

Goody Good Stuff Taste Testers at work!

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We’re pretty excited to have been chosen as part of the Koalaty taste team for Goody Good Stuff, we thought we’d take the role seriously and host a proper taste testing session. The girls are delighted to be part of this experiment, and while it involves only occasionally taste testing some sweets, for the girls it’s so exciting and important to be able to take part in such an experience. With many sweets and treats that their friends enjoy out of bounds to them, it makes it even more important.

We received a pack of 2 new flavours to taste: Sour Cheery Cherries and Sour Gummy Bears. So with our table set with notepads and pens, glasses of water to clear our palettes, we started tasting. The 4 of us gave some pretty positive responses.

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We first tried the Sour Cheery Cherries and boy are they sour! Our responses varied between super sour and extremely sour! But we liked them like that – I’ve never eaten Haribo (as I’m veggie and avoid gelatine) but apparently they’re on a similar sour scale to Tangfastics. We found them much chewier than the usual big bags of Cheery Cherries, but that’s no bad thing – with a sweet this sour I think you really do need a bit of chew.

Next up were the Sour Gummy Bears – we were expecting a similar sourness, but in fact we all noted that they were more tangy than sour, a kind of sherbet tang which really suited the tropical orange and pineapple flavours. Again these had just the right amount of chew to give them enough ‘bite’ to carry off the tang.

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Following the suggested questions we had a little ‘brainstorm’ over future flavours (are we taking this too seriously?) – Sour Cola Breeze was a very popular idea, as were sour tropical fruits and summer peaches. Little S thought sour mangoes would be rather nice – to which we all replied ‘mmmm’ so it must have been a good idea!

So, all in all a resounding success for Goody Good Stuff Sours and we had such fun – the only question to come from the girls was: When can we do it again? (p.s. if any other freefrom brands need some serious product testing, get in touch!)