Berry crumble bars

img_1483It’s suddenly got to that time of year -Winter is most certainly here but it’s not quite Christmas! It may be the craziest year ever with days of lockdown merging into months, ever more depressing news and stress everywhere, but there is still something joyful and comforting in the seasons. I’ve always felt so lucky to live somewhere where years are marked by definite seasons, I think I’d really miss them if I lived somewhere with wet and dry instead.

Winter has its downsides (I’m mainly talking about the dark and the annoying habit of house spiders to scuttle about) but the beauty of the colourful leaves, the bounty of the harvest and the delight of a beautiful chilly morning easily out way them.

It’s time to get cosy, to eat comfort food and delight in the low sun and long shadows. These berry crumble bars are the perfect early Winter treat; comforting but with the remains of summer in the form of the berry jam filling. By all means use a different jam, but I find a berry jam adds a beautiful red band as well as a fresh tartness that brings the shortbread and crumble alive. Although it would be a travesty to only eat them in the Winter – big S has pronounced these her favourite sweet thing I’ve ever baked! That must be saying something as I bake new things all the time!

I’ve made these with both a simple crumble topping, or a fancier crumble and candied seed topping. Both are delicious, just pick the variety you’d prefer.

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Berry Crmble Bars with Candied Seeds
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Berry crumble bars with just the crumble topping

This recipe is inspired and adapted from one in the original Ottolenghi cookbook. I don’t mind admitting that I’m a bit obsessed with Ottolenghi and his amazing flavour filled food, so I was dleighted to be able to adapt one of his delicious recipes to cater for us as a family. I have a few others up my sleeve, so keep watching 🙂

I like to serve these in packed lunches wrapped in paper, for a teatime treat or even warmed slightly and served with custard for an autumnal pudding. They’d even work for a breakfast if you were inclined!

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Berry Crumble Bars (with optional candied seed topping)

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

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makes 12 good sized bars

120g plain flour

1/2 tsp baking powder

60g caster sugar

pinch of salt

75g oats

100g dairy-free margarine

5 or 6 tbsp jam (about half a jar)

for a crumble top:

60g plain flour

40g oats

10g pumpkin seeds (optional)

30g dairy-free margarine

25g demarara sugar

for the candied seeds:

30g 0ats

30g pumpkin seeds

30g sunflower seeds

30g caster sugar

30g dairy-free margarine

20ml dairy free milk

  1. Pre-heat the oven to 170 degrees Centigrade. Line a square baking tin with non-stick baking paper
  2. Pour the flour, baking owder, salt, caster sugar and oats into a bowl. Cut the margarine into small cubes and add to the bowl. Rub in the margarine with your fingertips until it ressembles fine breadcrumbs
  3. Lightly press the mix into the base of the lined tin and bake for 20-25 minutes until lightly golden around the edges. Remove from the oven and let cool.
  4. Whilst the base is cooking make the crumble top: place the flour, oats, seeds (if using) and demarara sugar into a bowl. Again rub in the margarine until you have a craggy crumble. Set aside.
  5. To make the candied seeds (if using): melt together the margarine, milk and sugar until the sugar has dissolved. Stir in the oats and seeds.
  6. Once the base has cooled a little, spread over the jam in an even layer.
  7. (if using candied seeds) Spead the seeds over the jam.
  8. Sprinkle over the crumble topping.
  9. Bake for 20-30 minutes, until the top is golden brown. 
  10. Let cool fully befre cutting into square.
  11. These bars keep for a good week in an airtight container.img_1481

Peanut-free Satay

 

vegan peanut-free, nut-free satay

My recipes so often tend to veer towards the sweet; I do love baking more than any other kind of cooking. So I’m on a drive to be more inventive and friendly in a savoury way, especially after the sweet excess of Easter weekend!

I’ve had in mind to create a peanut-free satay for quite some time, but as you might have noticed I shy away from Asian food – I think the reliance on fish sauce has put me off somewhat, and often when I’ve eaten veggie versions in restaurants there’s definitely been an unmistakeable fishy undertone. Not what I’m looking for!

Anyway, I thought satay skewers or brochettes with rice and chilli pickled cucumber salad would make a nice friendly family meal. The marinade and sauce works equally well on chicken or veggie skewers, keeping all members of our household happy in one go – by no means an easy task! The use of Wowbutter as a peanut butter replacement works perfectly, or you could use a seed better instead if you preferred.

The satay is deeply savoury with a ‘nutty’ dimension that pushes all the buttons of a South East Asian dish. We’ll definitely be repeating this one!

Peanut-free Satay

(dairy-free, egg-free, nut-free, sesame-free, peanut-free, vegetarian and vegan. Warning: Wowbutter contains soya)

nut-free dairy-free satay

Serves 4

For the skewers: (per skewer -I served two or three per person)

3 mushroom halves

4 chunks of green pepper

4 chunks of spring onion

For the marinade:

1 clove of garlic, minced

1/2 thumb sized piece of ginger, peeled and grated

Zest and juice of one lime

1 tsp honey or syrup

2 tsp mild curry powder

1-2 tbsp Wowbutter

2 tsp soy sauce.

  1. Mix all the marinade ingredients together.
  2. Use one third to marinate the vegetables and/or chicken ( obviously in separate bowls if doing both!!)
  3. After an hour or two, thread onto wooden skewers

For the sauce:

1/3 tin coconut milk

Left over 2/3rds of the marinade

  1. Combine the left over marinade with the coconut milk. Bring to a simmer and thicken slightly.
  2. When you are ready to cook, paint a little of the sauce on the marinated veg skewers and bake for 20 minutes at 180 degrees centigrade

For the cucumber salad:

1/2 cucumber

2 tsp wine vinegar

2tsp caster sugar

1 or 2 tsp sweet chilli sauce

Small handful coriander leaves

  1. Shave the cucumber with a veg peeler into fine ribbons, combine with the other ingredients. chilli cucumber salad

To serve:

  1. Place the brochettes on a bed of rice, drizzle over a little sauce.
  2. Serve with an extra bowl of sauce and the cucumber salad on the side.

peanut-free satay

 

Strawberry Torte

June is peak British strawberry season, and it’s easy to over-buy, they are so sweet, perfumed and tempting! This often results in bowlfuls of slightly tired, past their best berries unless you use them up fast. So the challenge was on to find a recipe that could use up loads of possibly overripe strawberries. I didn’t fancy making jam as no-one else in the house will eat it, and I can’t get through more than a little amount. During my research I came across this gorgeous sounding recipe on the Good Food website for a strawberry and almond torte. Here’s my ‘friendly’ version (apologies to those who can’t have them,  it does contain almonds which we are OK with) and I have to say it was a big hit all round. But do make sure you get through it fast as it will go a bit soggy after a day or so…

Strawberry Torte (dairy-free, egg-free, peanut-free, sesame-free, soya-free, vegetarian and vegan) N.B. contains almonds

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makes 1 large torte

  • 175g ground almonds
  • 175g dairy-free spread (such as Pure)
  • 175g caster sugar
  • 175g self-raising flour
  • 1 tsp cinnamon
  • 2 tbsps apple puree
  • 500g strawberries, sliced

– Grease and line a spring-form cake tin

– In a food processor blitz together the almonds, spread, sugar, flour, cinnamon and apple puree until well combined.

– Spread 2/3rds of the cake mix on the bottom of the tin

– Top with the sliced strawberries

– Dollop the rest of the mix on top

– Bake at 180 degrees Centigrade/Gas Mark 4 for 1 hour, until golden and a knife comes out clean.

– Cool and remove from the tin.

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Gorgeous Fluffy Green Couscous

This recipe is a bit of an amalgamation between Yotam Ottolenghi‘s Green Couscous and my Guaranteed Fluffy Couscous Salad. I think the mix works perfectly, with the slight tang from my ‘basic’ couscous enhancing the herby, nutty edge given by Yotam’s recipe.

This couscous is wonderful as a salad or a side dish – if pistachios are a problem for you, use seeds instead

Gorgeous Fluffy Green Couscous (dairy-free, egg-free, peanut-free, sesame-free, soya-free, gluten-free, vegetarian and vegan)

serves 4 -6

  • 1 cup of couscous
  • 1 cup of water
  • 2 tbsps lemon juice
  • 1 tbsp vinegar
  • 3 tbsps extra virgin olive oil
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • pepper, to taste
  • 1 onion, finely sliced and sauteed until browned
  • 1 cup pistachios, toasted and roughly chopped (or use seeds)
  • 2 spring onions, sliced
  • 1 large handful parsley, finely chopped
  • 1 large handful coriander, finely chopped
  • 1 large handful rocket, roughly torn
  • 2 tbsps extra virgin oil oil
  • 1 tbsp lemon juice

– Pour the couscous into a flat-ish bowl

– Place water, lemon juice, vinegar, olive oil, salt and pepper into a saucepan and bring to the boil.

– Once boiling, pour over the couscous. Cover and let stand for 20 minutes.

– Meanwhile, make a herb paste from the chopped parsley, coriander and olive oil.

– Fluff up the couscous with a fork and add the herb paste, onions and pistachios.

– Taste and add the extra lemon juice and more salt if required. Stir in the rocket.

– Serve

Double Chocolate Chip Muffins

It’s Sunday which means getting ready for the busy, early part of the week whilst still enjoying what remains of the weekend. This week our Sunday fun involves swimming and ‘play cooking’ (girls mixing up any ingredients they fancy), and the getting ready part will include uniform sorting, homework, hair washing, paying bills and cooking! Hence, there just isn’t much time to bake lots of goodies, so I opted for these fail-safe yummy muffins, easily made in just over half an hour for the girls to have after school.

I like to think of this as my go-to winning muffin recipe… This time flavoured with cocoa and bursting with rich (and if served warm, oozing) chocolate chips. These keep and travel really well, so are perfect to make at the weekend for the children to eat after school or to tuck into their lunch boxes as a fairly healthy snack 🙂

Double Chocolate Chip Muffins (dairy-free, egg-free, peanut-free, nut-free, sesame-free, vegetarian and vegan)

Makes 12

  • 1 cup of plain flour
  • 1 cup self raising flour
  • 2/3rds cup sugar
  • 1 dessert sp baking powder
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 2 tbsps cocoa powder
  • 1/2 cup melted dairy-free spread
  • 1/2 cup plus 1tbsp oat milk
  • 1 cup soya yogurt (or use 2 small pots of chocolate yogurt)
  • 1 tsp vanilla extract
  • 1/2 cup dairy-free chocolate chips

– preheat the oven to 180 degrees centigrade/gas mark 4
– line a muffin tin
– mix together the yogurt, oat milk, vanilla and melted spread. Set aside.
– in a large bowl, sift together the flour, baking powder and cocoa. Stir in the sugar.
– add the wet ingredients to the dry and stir gently until fully combined.
– fill the muffin cases 2/3rds full
– bake for 20-25 minutes until well risen and I knife comes out clean, bar a bit of oozy chocolate!
– remove from the tin and cool on a wire rack

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