Cinnamon Sugar Pretzels – (with a savoury variation too)

I’ve always meant to make pretzels but never got round to it, until now! I’m doing a lockdown cookbook challenge lockdowncookbookchallenge on Instagram whereby one of us picks a random cookbook from the shelves and I have to cook at least two recipes from it. Why don’t you join? it’s really fun, a great way to get inspiration and the nudge you need to dip into some of those less used cookbooks.

One of the recent picks was Scandilicious by Signe Johansen, its a cookbook I really like but one that I haven’t picked up in years. By dipping in I can immediately remember recipes I’ve tried and see the ones I’ve page marked but never got round to trying. It’s a great way to fire up that imagination. Pretzels was just one of those and so here is my adapted recipe, made into a sweet sugar and cinnamon coated creation to bring a smile to everyone’s face. Think the taste of a doughnut but in a healthier, slightly chewier format – delicious!

I’ve added a tip at the end to make savoury pretzels too – I made a batch of 12 and had 4 sweet, 4 salty and 4 coated in poppy seeds – combining a sweet treat with some lovely fresh rolls and freeze brilliantly – win win! 🙂

Cinnamon Sugar Pretzels

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

makes 12

500g strong bread flour

1 tsp salt

1 tbsp fast action dried yeast

2 tbsp maple syrup or golden syrup

1 tbsp oil

250-300ml water

2 tbsp bicarbonate of soda

2 tbsp dairy-free margarine, melted

3 tbsp caster sugar

2 tsp cinnamon

(for savoury, generous sprinkling of crystal sea salt or a  handful of poppy seeds)

  1. Pour the flour and salt into a bowl, add the yeast.
  2. Pour in the syrup, oil and 250-300ml water, bring together to a soft but not sticky dough and then knead until silky smooth and bouncy. This will take up to 10 minutes. Cover and leave to prove. You want the dough to double in size and this will take 1-2 hours.
  3. Preheat the oven to 200 degrees Centigrade fan/220 degrees non fan
  4. Divide the dough into 12 even pieces roll into loose balls, cover and leave to rest for 10 minutes.
  5. Take each ball, roll into a sausage shape and then twist into a pretzel knot. Keep the made knots covered with a tea towel.
  6. Bring a saucepan of water to the boil, pour in the bicarb and then add the pretzel knots in threes cooking for 30 seconds on each side. Remove from the pan with a slotted spoon and place on a baking sheet. Continue until all the knots have been boiled in the bicarb mix.
  7. For savoury pretzels sprinkle them whilst they are still damp with the salt and/or poppy seeds. For sweet leave ungarnished.
  8. Bake for 12-15 minutes until they have risen and have a lovely burnished bronzed appearance.
  9. Remove from the oven and cool on a wire rack.
  10. To make the sweet pretzels: mix together the sugar and cinnamon. Brush each cooled pretzel with melted margarine and then roll in the cinnamon suagr until they are completely coated. Eat as soon as possible and try not to lick your lips!

 

Katsu Curry

I’ve got a fair few recipes to write up and asked my FaceBook followers for help to decide which to post first – the Katsu curry won by far! So here it is, my take on a Katsu.

Wagamama is a real favourite of ours, they offer such great service for the allergy family and we always have a fantastic experience, plus they’ve recently removed peanuts from the premises which is such a reassurance. Before lockdown we were regular Wagamama visitors, but even so we also had our own version at home. Everyone loves a Katsu in this house! So much so we had Wagamama at home last Friday, featuring paper table mats for the order to be scribbled on!

The other week Wagamama very kindly started posting their own recipes on Instagram so their fans don’t have to miss out too badly and we’ve been hungrily waiting for the bang bang cauliflower and to see if my Katsu is anything like the real thing. The bang bang cauliflower is really banging, delicious but super spicy with the chilli flakes in tablespoons!! Funnily the Katsu is quite similar to mine but has coconut and a different combination of spices, we actually prefer our usual home version! So here’s my Katsu, probably the least authentic recipe ever but one that is delicious and is definitely worth a go. Let me know what you think? If you eat chicken then you can always simply replace the sweet potato with breadcrumbed chicken.

Katsu Curry my way

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

serves 4

1 or 2 sweet potatoes, sliced 2-3mm thick

4 tbsp plain flour

1 cup panko breadcrumbs

for the sauce:

2 tbsp flavourless oil

1 onion, chopped

1 clove of garlic, minced

3cm piece of ginger, minced

2 tbsp mild curry powder

1 tsp turmeric

2 tbsp plain flour

450ml or 2 cups of vegetable stock

1 to 2 tsp honey or maple syrup

1 to 2 tsp soy sauce

salt to taste

  1. First prepare the sweet potato but blanching the slices in boiling water for 2 minutes. Set aside to cool.
  2. To make the sauce: heat the oil and fry off the onion until soft (cut finely if you like a chunky sauce, we like smooth so i sieve the bits out and so roughly chopped is fine)
  3. add the garlic and ginger and cook until fragrant. stir int he curry powder and turmeric and cook out for a minute
  4. Next add the flour and again cook for a few minutes to get rid of any raw flour taste. Gradually add the stock a bit by bit and keep stirring until the sauce has thickened nicely.
  5. Add the soy sauce and honey/syrup. Taste and add more of either, plus salt if required. Sieve to remove the onion (if you like) and then set aside to keep warm whilst sweet potato is cooked
  6. Place 2 tbsp flour in one bowl, 2 tbsp flour mixed with 2 tbsp water (to make a thin batter) in another bowl and the panko in a third bowl.
  7. Dip each sweet potato slice into the flour, then the batter, then the breadcrumbs.
  8. Once they are all coated add a generous amount of oil to a frying pan (to cover the base) and heat. Fry the sweet potato slices until golden on both sides and then keep warm in a low oven (160 degrees Centigrade) until they all are cooked through
  9. Serve with rice and salad

 

Mini Chocolate Chip Muffins

Here’s yet another great recipe for lockdown, and one that is easy and perfect to make with your children. This is a recreation of those mini choc chip muffins you see in boxes in the bakery section of the supermarket that always look so appealing but are out of bounds if you have a restricted diet. They make the perfect little sweet treat to get you through these long days at home. They also only use a small amount of flour so are ideal if your stocks are running low.

I use chocolate chips because I know they’re unfailingly popular in this household, but blueberries or dried fruit would work just as well. If you want more detailed instructions check out my first ever video on YouTube 🙂                  Vegan Mini Muffins               

The beauty of this recipe is not only bite sized tasty treats but also ones that freeze brilliantly. I make a batch, freeze and then pop a couple frozen into a packed lunch and they defrost in time for lunch!

Mini Chocolate Chip Muffins

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

Makes 24 mini or 6 large

120g or 1 cup plain flour

75g or 1/3rds cup sugar

1/2 tbsp baking powder

large pinch salt

55g or 1/4 cup dairy-free margarine, melted

75ml or 1/3rd cup dairy-free milk

125g or 1/2 cup dairy-free yogurt

1/2 tsp vanilla

75g dairy-free chocolate chips

  1. Preheat the oven to 190 Degrees Centigrade/Gas Mark 5. Line a muffin pan
  2. In a bowl mix together the milk, yogurt, vanilla and melted dairy-free margarine. Set aside.
  3. Sift together the flour, baking powder and salt. Stir in the sugar.
  4. Make a well in the centre and pour in the wet ingredients. Mix until combined (make sure you don’t over mix).
  5. Gently stir in the chocolate chips
  6. 2/3rds fill each muffin liner.
  7. Bake for 12-14 minutes for mini muffins or 20-25 minutes for large ones, until golden on top and a knife comes out clean.
  8. Cool on a wire rack.

 

Incredible Triple Chocolate Brownies

At times like this where everything is so odd and uncertain, there is one thing for sure and that’s that we need comfort, joy and chocolate!

These triple chocolate brownies really are incredible. Made with only a little flour so you can eek out your supplies and just a few cupboard essentials, meaning that you should be able to create this chocolatey hug without having to venture to the supermarket . Really the supermarket is a mission that I really wouldn’t recommended right now, not only does it take twice as long due to quests to get in and also pay but why are there so many people who seem to think they’re immune to social distancing. I seriously feel stressed out and a little traumatised by my visit this week!

So my advice is; stay in, stay safe and make these brownies and for a little while everything might feel right with the world 🙂

Incredible Triple Chocolate Brownies

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

makes 9 large brownies

4 tbsp cocoa powder

150g self-raising flour

110g caster sugar

1/2 tsp salt

1 tsp vanilla extract

5 tbsp flavourless oil, I use sunflower

250ml dairy-free milk

70g dairy-free chocolate, melted

50g dairy-free chocolate chips, or equal amount of chopped chocolate

  1. Preheat the oven to 180 degrees centigrade. Line a brownie tin with parchment
  2. In a bowl, mix together the cocoa, self-raising flour, caster sugar and salt.
  3. Pour in the oil, milk and vanilla and mix to form a smooth batter
  4. Stir in the melted chocolate (this will make the batter much stiffer and far richer)
  5. Stir in 2/3rds of the chocolate chips
  6. Transfer to the lined brownie tin and level off.
  7. Sprinkle over the remaining chocolate chips
  8. Bake for 20-25 minutes. It should be a bit gooey looking in the middle. Cool fully in the tin before cutting into portions.

Trail Mix Picnic Bars (aka Trail Mix Stay at Home Bars)

When I originally created this recipe for trail mix picnic bars it was for those days when you’re getting ready to head outside for a  weekend full of adventures; these days, it’s more a case of trying to make days at home seem fun, interesting and different!

Whatever the scenario, these bars  are always perfect. They’re bursting with all the energy giving goodness (and fun) of trail mix packed into gooey chocolate crispy bars, perfect for sustenance at home or on the go. I’m thinking of serving these after a good hour or so in the garden to make it feel like we’re having an outdoors adventure!

The pretzels add a salty, savoury note to the biscuits and cereal. You could almost say these along with a large drink of water could replace the sugars and salts lost during strenuous exercise (which right now might just be the daily Joe Wicks morning PE class!) – then again you could just say they’re yummy!

The great feature of this recipe is that the bars are fun and exciting, don’t need any flour (as that’s currently like gold dust round here), and the recipe can basically be adapted to use up the contents of those half bags and packs of biscuits, cereal and pretzels that are lying around in the larder! Perfect when you can’t leave the house 🙂

Ideally made the day before, these bars can also be made at the last minute as long as they have some setting time in the fridge or freezer.

Trail Mix Picnic Bars (aka Trail Mix stay at home bars!)

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

makes 16 small but perfectly sized bars

40g salted pretzels, roughly crushed

30g biscuits, roughly crushed (I used Lotus Biscoff)

60g cereal of choice

30g dried fruit of choice (optional)

100g golden syrup

50g Lotus Biscoff spread

25g sugar

85g dairy-free dark chocolate

Handful of sprinkles

  1. Line a 2lb loaf tin
  2. Melt together the syrup, sugar and biscoff spread until it’s a smooth caramel consistency
  3. Mix in the crushed biscuits, 30g of the crushed pretzels, the cereal and any dried fruit
  4. Tip into the lined loaf tin and press down, making the mixture nice and level. Place in the fridge to set.
  5. Melt the chocolate and spread over the set mix. Sprinkle on the extra pretzels and a handful of sprinkles. Return to the fridge. When the chocolate has fully set, cut into 16 even sized bars.

Cucumber and Rice Noodle Salad

I don’t know about you, but when we’re all at home (and obviously thanks to Covid-19 that is ALL the time right now) I struggle with lunch ideas the most. The other meals and snacks I find I can think up ideas, be creative and non-repetitive, but for some reason lunches often stump me. I guess it’s just one meal too many each day.

However, as I now have plenty of time to get creative with the contents of my fridge and pantry I’m trying to have at least part of each lunch as an exciting, fresh, healthy new idea.

This rice noodle salad is loosely inspired by an Ottolenghi dish; it’s fresh, tasty, easy to make with mainly store cupboard ingredients. Perfect for these days when popping to the shops is a dim and distant memory.

Cucumber Rice Noodle Salad

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

serves 2 as a main, 4 as a side

100g rice noodles

1 tbsp olive oil

30ml vinegar

15g caster sugar

1/2 shallot, finely chopped

thumb size piece of ginger, julienned

3 mint leaves, finely shredded

1/4 red chilli, finely chopped

small bunch of coriander, roughly chopped

1 tbsp poppy seeds (optional)

1/4 cucumber, sliced in half, seeds removed and cut into half moons

  1. Place the noodles in a bowl, pour over boiling water and leave to sit for about 15 minutes
  2. In another bowl combine the sugar, vinegar and shallot. Stir to dissolve the sugar.
  3. Add the julienned ginger and finely sliced shallot to the vinegar mix and leave to infuse
  4. Drain the noodles once soft and mix with the olive oil so they don’t clump
  5. Add the chilli, cucumber and noodles to the vinegar mix, stir well and leave for 10 minutes for the flavours to mix
  6. Add the herbs and poppy seeds if using, toss and serve