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.

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. 

Biscoff Caramel Crispy Bites

Wow, this summer has been such a proper heatwave it’s be a struggle to do much baking. You’ll have noticed a distinct lack of new recipes in recent weeks; somehow even turning the oven on is the last thing I want to do when the temperature is in the 30s. Don’t worry though, there are plenty (and I mean plenty!) of recipes in the pipeline 🙂

As an allergy family always looking for something new and interesting, I still make goodies in a heatwave, preferably without turning the oven on. Step forward the magic no-bake recipe, an absolute winner in a midsummer heatwave, and perfect for getting the children involved.

These Biscoff caramel crispy bites were inspired by a current craze for Lotus Biscoff spread at Little S’s school and a need to avoid chocolate due to the unfortunate habit it has of melting in the heat! Sadly, chocolates and heatwaves just don’t mix.

These mini bites are sweet, crunchy, crispy and terribly moorish. You could make them bigger but they’re seriously sweet treats and so I think small is good. Be prepared to dive in for another though 😉

Not only do they not melt, they travel well making them perfect for picnics and keep for up to a week in the fridge. Pretty ideal if you have a summer holiday jam packed full of activities and not a moment to bake!

 

Biscoff Caramel Crispy Bites

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

makes about 30 mini bites

200g golden syrup

100g caster sugar

100g Biscoff spread

2 tsp caramel essence

100g rice Krispies

  1. Line a baking tray with non-stick parchment
  2. In a saucepan, mix together the syrup, sugar, Biscoff and essence. Gently heat until the sugar has dissolved and you have a smooth thick mixture.
  3. Stir in the rice krispies and mix well
  4. Pour into the lined tray and level off. Leave to set in the fridge for at least half an hour.
  5. Cut into cubes

Lime and Ginger Cheesecake

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Cheesecakes have always been one of my favourite puddings, and that remains the case since cooking dairy and egg-free. I’ve tried many, many truly awful recipes, but this ‘no bake’ recipe works an absolute treat.

Tofutti is the only dairy-free cream cheese that I rate, but this particular recipe can use any brand of vegan cream cheese to great effect. I find most dairy-free cream cheeses unpleasant and often rather pasty, but this recipe transforms even a disappointing ‘cheesy’ spread into a luxurious, zingy, creamy cheesecake. It’s luscious, cheesy, zesty and sings with flavour. A great way to end a rich or spicy meal. The combination of ginger and lime works really well and if you didn’t mention it to them, I’m fairly certain not many people would call it as a vegan cheesecake.

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Lime and Ginger Cheesecake 

(dairy-free, egg-free, nut-free, sesame-free, vegetarian and vegan) N.B. contains soya

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This recipe makes 1 small cheesecake (enough for 4 small portions or 2 large)

100g ginger biscuits, crushed

1 tbsp dairy-free spread, melted

5 tbsps soya cream cheese

2-3 tbsps soya yogurt

Juice and zest of 1 lime

2-3 tbsps icing sugar

  1. Mix the crushed biscuits with the melted spread. Press into the bottom of the pie tin, or into individual ramekins. Place in the fridge to set.
  2. Whisk together the other ingredients until they are smooth. Taste and add more lime juice or icing sugar according to taste.
  3. Pour onto the biscuit base, and level off the top.
  4. Leave to set in the fridge for at least a couple of hours.
  5. Remove the tin prior to serving and garnish the top with a little more zest.

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Tiramisu

Tiramisu has been on my list of ‘must recreate’ dishes for a really long time. I always really liked the coffee creaminess of tiramisu and it’s a pudding that I miss, although I think it fell slightly out of fashion in general.

I’ve been mulling over how to recreate the mascarpone and cream combo for ages. Cashews seem a popular choice to create a ‘cheesy’ alternative but we’re really not great fans. Even though Little S can now eat cashew nuts, I think soaked and blended cashews seem to only make a creamy nutty paste, which just isn’t quite right in my book. So I definitely wasn’t going to go down the cashew route. In my opinion coconut is similar in that it leaves behind an overpowering coconutty flavour and I didn’t want my tiramisu to have any unexpected coconutty taste. I was aiming for as authentic as possible a recreation, and I think this version is it.

Out of everyone who tasted my tiramisu the only comments that could improve it were that it needed more intense coffee flavour and some masala heat. I actually left out the masala as I was making it for the entire family (use vanilla if you don’t wish to use alcohol) and I used decaffeinated coffee and not quite enough of it. I know where I went wrong, but the recipe below has the mistakes corrected, but you may wish to add a splash more masala or soak the sponge for longer in stronger coffee to get an extra coffee and alcohol hit. The creaminess needs those strong flavours.

Rather than recreating the ladies fingers I baked a vanilla sponge and sliced it before dunking in the coffee. The resulting effect is spot on for tiramisu. The mascarpone and cream filling is a combination of sweetened soya cream cheese and soya whipping cream. This produces a cream which is both light and airy but with an extra richness and a greater stability. Once set in the fridge this Tiramisu lasts up to 3 or 4 days which is perfect as it does make a substantial quantity.

Tiramisu

(dairy-free, egg-free, nut-free, sesame-free, vegetarian and vegan. N.B. contains soya)

serves 10-12

for the sponge:

200g self-raising flour

100g caster sugar

pinch of salt

100ml sunflower oil

150ml dairy-free milk

1/2 tsp bicarbonate of soda

1/2 tsp lemon juice

1 tsp vanilla

  1. Preheat the oven to 180 degrees Centigrade/Gas mark 5
  2. Line a shallow baking tin with parchment
  3. Sift the flour and salt into a bowl. Stir in the sugar.
  4. In a separate bowl, mix together the dairy-free milk, bicarb, lemon, vanilla and oil.
  5. Pour the wet ingredients into the dry and gently mix, until well combines.
  6. Pour into the lined tin and level off and bake for 12-15 minutes, until lightly golden and a knife comes out clean. Cool on a wire rack.

for the cream filling:

200ml dairy-free whipping cream

100ml dairy-free cream cheese

4 tbsp caster sugar

1 tsp vanilla extract or 1 tbsp masala wine (more if you wish)

  1. Whip the cream until light and fluffy, then add the cream cheese and sugar and whip until fully incorporated. Add the flavouring and whip again.

To assemble:

 1/2 cup freshly brewed espresso or very strong instant coffee

1-2 tbsp cocoa powder

  1. Slice the sponge into fingers and dunk in some freshly brewed strong coffee. The longer it’s absorbing, the stronger the coffee flavour
  2. Layer the ingredients into decorative bowls or a large rectangular serving dish.
  3. Start with soaked sponge, then a layer of the creamy cheese mixture and then a layer of cocoa powder. Repeat twice and finish with a heavy dusting of cocoa powder.
  4. Leave to set in the fridge and when ready to serve, slice into neat squares.