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.

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

Marmite Scones

Are you a Marmite lover or a Marmite hater? There seems to be no in-between and we’re a family that contains both, so it’s always a quandary as to whether to use it as a flavouring or not. Although to be fair there are far more Marmite lovers, so the savoury yeasty spread often wins.

I find that savoury snacks are lacking for Little S – there are so many things she can’t have when out people would reach for a savoury option. That’s where the marmite comes in. Little S really doesn’t like marmite but she loves these deeply savoury scones, somehow the marmite-y flavour turns into a more appealing savoury taste when it’s added to a bake. Savoury scones make a perfect tasty snack or side to a big bowl of soup, or just a speedily made change from a bread roll. The beauty of scones is that they take little time to make and bake, so once you feel confident you can whip up a batch in no time at all. Serve with extra marmite if you’re on the fan side!

I’d heard that adding cream of tartar made scones extra light and fluffy and I was desperate to try the idea out, and my it’s a great addition, the texture of these scones will blow your mind. Look at that craggy delicate texture, no heavy stodgy scones here!

Marmite Scones

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

makes about 8 large scones

250g plain flour

1/4tsp salt

1 tsp bicarbonate of soda

2 and 1/4 tsp cream of tartar

25g dairyfree margarine

15g vegetable fat (or use 15g extra margarine)

150ml dairy free milk

2 tsp marmite

  1. Preheat oven to 220 degrees Centigrade
  2. In a bowl, combine the flour, salt, bicarbonate of soda and cream of tartar. Rub the fats into the flour until it looks like fine breadcrumbs.
  3. Stir the marmite into the milk and pour into the flour mix. Very gently bring together to form a rough dough. Be very gentle, do not knead, otherwise you’ll get tough scones and no-one wants that!
  4. Stamp out circles and place on a baking sheet. Brush the tops with a little milk mixed with marmite.
  5. Bake for 12-14 minutes until golden and risen. 

Trail Mix

 

I’ve always found the concept of ‘trail mix’ rather intriguing and tempting. It’s not something you come across often in the UK but I’ve read about it so many times that I really wanted to recreate a friendly version for the family to enjoy. The concept is a pick and mix type snack to delve into a long walk or day out.

Trail mix is usually a mix of cereal, dried fruit, often nuts and sometimes chocolate, all combining to make it a nice portable energy giver on long hikes. It sounds yummy but certainly not ideal for us with all those nuts. The photos I’ve seen often contain Smarties, and whilst some dairy-free versions do exist they have never been completely trace-free therefore not safe enough for us. But colourful chocolates make such a cheery addition to the dry mix that they needed representation so I’ve replaced them with homemade ‘Jazzies’ (chocolate drops coated in colourful sprinkles) and they generally do make the mix look a lot more tempting and fun. Rather than using dried cereal I’ve added salty pretzels to balance out the sweetness of the chocolate and dried fruit. I’ve also added mini spiced cookies even more variety and added energy, and well, they look rather cute too.

For some reason, dried fruits are unpopular in this household; I don’t really know why as I really like them but the girls will avoid them at all costs. So this recipe included freeze-dried berries to please the troops, but raisins, dried mango or any other dried fruit would work just as well.

Mini Spiced Cookies

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

1/2 cup dairy-free margarine

1/4 cup caster sugar

1 tbsp soft brown sugar

1/2 tsp vanilla essence

1 tsp cinnamon

1/4-1/2 tsp ground ginger

1/4 tsp salt

1/4 tsp bicarbonate of soda

1 1/2 cups plain flour

1 tbsp oat milk

  1. Cream together the dairy-free spread, caster sugar and brown sugar until light and fluffy. Stir in the vanilla.
  2. Sift in the cinnamon, ginger, salt, bicarb and plain flour and mix to a soft dough, adding the oat milk to make the mixing easier. Wrap in cling film and rest in the fridge for half an hour.
  3. Heat the oven to 180 degrees centigrade/ gas mark 4 and line a cookie sheet with parchment
  4. Remove the dough from the fridge and roll out. Cut out cute little shapes and place on the lined baking tray and cook for 6 minutesCool on a wire rack

Jazzies

These are simply melted dairy-free chocolate with hundreds and thousands sprinkled on top! Nothing could be much easier 🙂

Cappuccino Coffee Cake

A coffee cake is certainly one of the absolute classics, and this cappuccino inspired coffee cake adds an elegant and grown up touch to any coffee morning. It’s also pretty good as a cheeky pud 😉

It’s been a funny old week for me. Little S, who is our energy-filled whirlwind, has been away on a residential trip. The centre seemed well prepared for allergies, but it’s always a little nerve-wracking handing over to an unknown party. She is also a home loving type and was really nervous about going away for a whole week, so the build up was long and painful, and probably not helped by the fact that I’m useless at goodbyes and end up crying (embarrassing!). So it’s definitely been a week to keep as busy and occupied as possible, so it would pass quickly. A perfect week for some baking experiments, and ones that may be more to Big S’s tastes!

I’ve had the idea of a coffee cake, surely one the absolute classics, on the back burner for a while. Previously it seemed odd to cook a coffee cake for young children, but now Big S has developed a taste for an occasional coffee. I used decaffeinated coffee and I really don’t think it made any difference to the flavour. I know that walnuts are a customary addition to a coffee cake, but mine is nut free (as you might expect!). If you wished to add walnuts, add a handful of chopped nuts to the cake batter and decorate the top with a few walnut halves.

Personally I’m a black coffee drinker, but cappuccinos or flat whites always look rather pretty and have provided the inspiration for this loaf cake. The sponge represents the coffee with a rich deep coffee flavour, and the icing is the creamy coffee scented top, all finished off with an obligatory dusting of cocoa.

Cappuccino Coffee cake

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

200g self-raising flour

1/2 tsp bicarbonate of soda

100g caster sugar

pinch of salt

100ml sunflower oil

130ml dairy-free milk

20ml strong coffee

1/2 tsp lemon juice

  1. Preheat the oven to 180 degrees/Gas mark 4. Line a loaf tin.
  2. Mix together the oil, milk, coffee and lemon and set aside
  3. Combine the flour, salt, bicarb,  and sugar.
  4. Pour the wet ingredients into the dry and gently mix until well combined
  5. Pour into the lined loaf tin and bake for 40-50 minutes until a knife comes out clean. Cool on a wire rack.

for the icing:

2 tbsp vegetable fat (such as Trex)

1/2 cup dairy-free margarine (such as Pure)

1 to 2 cups icing sugar, sifted

1 tbsp strong black coffee

1/2 tsp coffee essence (optional)

  1. Whisk together the spread and vegetable fat.
  2. Add the icing sugar, 1/2 cup at a time with a splash of the coffee, until fully combined and nice and fluffy.
  3. Spread or pipe onto the cake.

Strawberry Scones

The sun’s out and I feel inspired and buzzing with fresh ideas. There really isn’t anything like the end of Winter to make me feel ready to attack the spring and summer with gusto – it’s amazing what a bit of warmth and sunlight can do!

We had a lovely trip to see the sea of bluebells last weekend, which is a bit of a yearly tradition in my part of the country, which culminated with cool drinks in a National Trust cafe. All the other customers seemed to be tucking into cream teas (obviously it was drinks or nothing for us!), which got me thinking about making a batch of scones. Scones, with their association with cream teas and strawberry jam always seem rather summery to me, so perfect for my current vibe. So here is a cracking combination of scones and strawberries  so we can tuck into a cream tea at home.

I’d really recommend using freeze-dried berries in sweet recipes, as you get all the flavour and none of the ‘sog factor’, so there’s no need to adjust the indigents to factor in extra moisture.

 

Strawberry Scones

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

Makes about 20

450g plain flour

3 tsp baking powder

75g dairy-free margarine

75g caster sugar

300 ml dairy-free milk, I used Oatly

1 tsp berry essence, if you have it

1/2 cup freeze dried strawberries , roughly chopped

To top: 2 tbsp oat milk 2 tbsp granulated sugar

  1. Preheat the oven to 200 degrees centigrade/gas mark 6. Grease and flour 2 baking sheets.
  2. Rub the margarine into the flour, sugar and baking powder until it resembles breadcrumbs. 
  3. Pour in the essence and dairy-free milk and very gently bring together to a soft dough. It’s very important not to work scone dough. Add the freeze dried berries.
  4. Gently pat out the dough until its about 1 inch thick. Using a 2inch cookie cutter, cut out rounds and place on the baking sheets Continue, gently bringing the dough back into a ball and cutting out, until all the dough has been used up.
  5. Brush the top of each with dairy-free milk and sprinkle with sugar Bake for about 20-25 minutes until starting to turn golden. Cool on a wire rack.