Chocolate Sablé Biscuits – best chocolate cookies ever.

 

the best ever vegan chocolate biscuit

Sometimes there is nothing like a chocolate cookie, it can be the ultimate sweet treat, but so often they’re not quite right, more average than awesome. These are in the realms of awesome. They’re the kind of biscuit that you take a bite of and immediately sigh saying ‘wow, these are good’. Deeply chocolatey, just the right kind of chewy… yep, they’re up there with the best. The fact I’ve made them three times in the past two weeks says something!

the best every dairy-free chocolate cookie

The origins of this biscuit comes from a Pierre Hermé recipe which I’ve tweaked and adapted to our requirements and tastes. But as one would expect from a master chocolatier these biscuits are a chocolate lover’s dream – they’re dark, rich, chocolatey, sweet but a little bit salty all at the same time, .

These tend not to last the day round here as hands swipe them straight off the tray.

the best ever egg-free dairy-free chocolate cookies

Chocolate Sablé Biscuits

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

chocolate sable, egg-free

makes about 12-15

90-100g chocolate, chopped (I use a mixture of dark and ‘milk’)

85g plain flour

15g good quality cocoa

pinch of bicarbonate of soda

75g dairyfree margarine

60g soft brown sugar

25g caster sugar

1/2 tsp good quality flaky salt, such as fleur de sel

  1. Cream together the margarine, sugars and salt. Stir in the chocolate pieces
  2. Gently mix in the flour, bicarbonate and cocoa and combine to form a soft dough.
  3. Form into a sausage shape and wrap in cling film. Place in the fridge to chill, you want it to be as cold as possible
  4. Preheat the oven to 170 degrees centigrade
  5. Line two baking sheets with parchment. Slice the cookie dough into 1cm slices and place well apart on the baking sheets
  6. Bake for 11-12 minutes. They should have spread out nicely.
  7. Cool briefly on the sheets so they are stiff enough to move and then transfer to a wire rack.

nut-free chocolate sable cookies

 

Bahn Mi Salad

 

vegan bahn mi salad bowl

I’ve had this idea of turning Classic Bahn Mi baguette filling flavours into a salad for quite a while, and now the weather has turned super hot (albeit briefly!) it’s the perfect opportunity for exciting salad eating.

In my day job, I work in two different locations, so I spend rather too much time walking the streets of the City or sitting on London buses. It does give a lot of looking out the window and contemplating opportunities, and time to draw inspiration for my recipes. Just off one of my regular bus route there are two Bahn Mi shops within meters of each other (crazy, huh!), hence my thoughts turned to recreating the classic Vietnamese hot spicy, pickled, herby flavours of  a Bahn Mi baguette into a salad.

free-from vietnamese salad, no milk, no nuts, no eggs

In this salad bowl I have marinated noodles which are topped with Sriracha roasted beans, quick pickled red cabbage, cucumber and carrot ribbons, tomatoes and plenty of coriander. It makes for a delicious and very moreish bowlful. The noodles are best prepared in advance and cope very nicely with a couple of days in the fridge if need be. Same with the red cabbage. Just make sure you put all the topping on at the last minute to retain freshness and crunch.

Bahn Mi Salad

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

dairy-free, nut-free, egg-free vietnamese noodle salad

serves at least 4 (multiple the veg for more people as there will be plenty of noodles and cabbage)

 For the quick pickled red cabbage:

1/4 red cabbage

1 tsp sugar

1/2 tsp salt

2 tbsp vinegar

2 tbsp water

1/2 tbsp salt

  1. Massage the cabbage with the 1tsp sugar and 1/2 tsp salt. Set aside for at least half an hour. Pour away any juice which have seeped out.
  2. Combine the water, vinegar and rest of the salt. Pour over the cabbage. Cover and leave to pickle for at least half an hour.

For the Sriracha roasted beans:

1/2 tin white beans or chickpeas

1 tsp smoked paprika

1 tsp olive oil

A few good squirts of Sriracha

  1. Toss the beans in the paprika,oil and chilli sauce and roast in a medium oven (180 degrees) for 15-20 minutes.

For the marinated noodles:

4 tbsps extra virgin olive oil

5 tbsps soy sauce

3 tbsps balsamic vinegar

3 tbsps sugar

1 tsp salt

1 pack of wheat noodles (250g) or equal amount of spaghetti

6 spring onions, finely sliced

  1. Mix together the oil, balsamic, soy sauce, sugar and salt until the sugar has dissolved. Set aside
  2. Cook the noodles or spaghetti according to the pack instructions. Make sure they are slightly undercooked and then drain and run under cold water to halt the cooking process.
  3. Mix the noodles into the marinade. Add the spring onions and set aside. Marinate for as long as possible for really tasty noodles.

For the veg:

2 spring onions, sliced

1 carrot, shaved into ribbons

1/2 cucumber, shaved into ribbons

1/2 red pepper, finely sliced

Large handful cherry tomatoes, halved

Coriander

To assemble:

  1. In a bowl, cover the bottom of the dish with a layer of marinated noodles
  2. Top with strips of pickled cabbage, roasted Sriracha beans and veg
  3. Add carrot and cucumber ribbons around the edge
  4. Top with a scattering of coriander and a few squirts of Sriracha
  5. Eat straight away

vegetarian noodle salad, Bahn Mi style

Coronation Rice Salad

dairy-free, egg-free coronation rice salad

I don’t know about you, but for us June and early July heralds peak picnic and barbecue season. It’s a quick succession of one outdoor event after another, fingers crossed for good weather (always the bane of outdoor plans in England) for Sport’s day this Friday which would be unusual for this summer!

So, I’m on a mission to perk up our picnics with some exciting additions, as I find picnics can be particularly challenging with a restricted diet. There’s none of that ‘oh I just pop into M&S and get a whole picnic spread to take to sports day!’ it’s more a case of what can I cobble together at 7am with minimal fuss and which will happily sit around in a sweaty picnic basket until lunch time – quite a tall order there!

Salads are obviously a good way of pepping up your picnic, but clearly it has to be robust and not based on delicate and easily wiltable leaves. This rather moreish coronation rice salad is based upon one I learnt at Le Cordon Bleu but with all the excessive calories and cream transformed into a light but creamy spiced dairy-free rice salad. Call it a rice based riff on the classic and ever popular coronation chicken salad.

Feel free to add in suitable extras to make more of a meal of it – blanched almonds work really well if you can tolerate them, and I particularly like mini raw cauliflower florets for an added bit of interest. If you eat chicken, some freshly shredded roast chicken would work extremely well with the rice and curry flavours.

vegan curried rice salad

Coronation Rice Salad

(Dairy-free, egg-free, nut-free, sesame-free, gluten-free, vegetarian and vegan)

egg-free, dairy-free curried rice salad

serves 4

1/3 cup egg-free mayo such as Veganaise or mayola

1/4 cup mango chutney

1 tsp mild curry powder

squeeze of lemon juice

seasoning, to taste

1 cup cooked basmati rice

1/4 cup raisins

2 spring onions, finely sliced

1/2 cup frozen peas, cooked through and then cooled

1/4 cup blanched almonds [optional]

handful of parsley, finely chopped

  1. Mix together the mayo, mango chutney, curry powder and lemon juice. Taste and season as desired.
  2. Stir in the other ingredients and garnish with the parsley.
  3. Serve.

vegan coronation rice salad

 

Antipasti Jewelled Couscous

 

antipasti jewelled couscous

Fluffy couscous salad, studded with rich antipasti and pistachios (if you can tolerate them) is a wonderful, wonderful thing. But it seriously has to be fluffy, there is nothing more disappointing than stodgy, clergy, water laden couscous!

You may be wondering about the sudden introduction of nuts on my site – well Little S passed a supervised food challenge and we’ve been ordered to introduce these nuts into her diet – scary stuff when you’ve lived in a nut-free house for a few years. Well, to be fair it shouldn’t be that scary, as the challenge was to nuts she’s never been allergic to, but we avoided due to cross contamination and, to be honest, a bit of fear. So the ‘challenge’ was really just an exercise to give us confidence with a few nuts. All good, and an important step forward, but not without problems. Where on earth do you buy pistachios, cashews and almonds which are totally free-from peanuts and sesame seeds?? Any pointers gratefully received!

So, we’re proceeding with caution, adding a few nuts here and there whilst at home (and trying to persuade her to like them, which is a whole other story…..). Hence, the couscous with added pistachios!

Best eaten at room temperature, this couscous salad/side is a perfect picnic or barbecue dish, just right at this time of year.

Antipasti Jewelled Couscous

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

vegan tomato and pepper couscous

makes one big bowlful, serves about 4

 1 cup couscous

1 cup water

1 tbsp olive oil

1 tbsp lemon juice

1 tbsp vinegar

1 tsp salt

4 sundried tomato halves, roughly chopped

1/2 jar roasted pepper antipasti, roughly chopped

3 spring onions, sliced

Large handful pistachio nuts (if can tolerate them, otherwise omit or use sunflower seeds)

  1. Pour the couscous into a flat-ish bowl
  2. Place water, lemon juice, vinegar, olive oil, salt and pepper into a saucepan and bring to the boil.
  3. Once boiling, pour over the couscous. Cover and let stand for 20 minutes.
  4. Fluff up the couscous with a fork and add the other ingredients.
  5. Serve

dairy-free couscous

Marmite Bagels

dairy-free marmite bagel

I love making bagels; ok it’s a slightly convoluted process but they make me feel like a real, proper baker! When I saw a picture of some marmite bagels on the cover of Olive Magazine, I just knew I had to make my own version. Big S loves bagels and marmite and isn’t so keen on sweet breakfast options – these bagels could have been made exclusively for her!

They really are a delicious savoury bagel variation – certainly not too ‘marmity’ but with add oomph and umami flavours, these certainly aren’t a bland plain bagel! Don’t worry though, if you’re not a marmite fan you will still enjoy these, they’re more savoury and moorish than overpoweringly marmite flavoured.

dairy-free bagels

We had them warm from the oven with Tofutti better than cream cheese, served with carrot soup – a complete winner of a lunch!

But make sure you leave some for breakfast, toasted and with added marmite if you’re a real marmite addict!

Marmite Bagels

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

egg-free nut-free bagels, marmite flavour

Makes 10

500g strong bread flour

1 tbsp caster sugar

1/2 tsp salt

1 tbsp dried yeast

1 tbsp extra virgin olive oil

1 and 1/2 tbsp marmite and 1 tbsp syrup dissolved in 300ml water

1 tbsp bicarbonate of soda

1 tbsp marmite

1 tsp marmite dissolved in 1 tbsp dairy-free milk, for brushing

A few flakes of sea salt to sprinkle

  1. Sift the flour into bowl; add the salt, sugar and yeast.
  2. Pour in the water (with marmite and syrup dissolved in) and oil and and mix until you have a nice smooth, pliable dough (if you have a mixer with a dough hook use that)
  3. Knead until the dough is silky smooth and bounces back when you make an indentation (probably 5-10 minutes)
  4. Place in a lightly oiled bowl, cover and leave to rise for about an hour, or until doubled in size.
  5. Bring a pan of water to the boil. Cut the dough into ten equal sized pieces, weigh them if you want them to be exact.
  6. Shape each into a ball, then insert a wooden spoon handle in the middle to make a hole. Twizzle about until the hole is at least 2cm/1 inch across. (Or leave as balls if making burger buns)
  7. Stir in the 1 tbsp marmite into the boiling water. Once all the bagels are shaped, tip the bicarbonate into the water.  Place each bagel in the boiling water for about 30 seconds, turning over once. Lift out, drain off the excess water by placing on a clean tea towel. Then place on the baking sheet. Leave to rise again for 30 minutes, covered with cling film bagel making, freefrom
  8. Heat the oven to 220 degrees centigrade/gas mark 7. Oil a baking sheet.
  9. Brush with the marmite infused dairy-free milk and sprinkle with the salt.
  10. Bake for 15-18 minutes until golden
  11. Cool on a wire rack.

marmite bagels, vegan

Perfect Sesame-free Hummus

 

sesame-free hummus

Hummus is everywhere, over the past twenty years or so it’s become a mainstream classic, one everyone eats and can be found in any store. All commercially found hummus contains sesame in the form of tahini and so is out of bounds for Little S. In fact hummus gave me the Heebie jeebies when Little S was smaller as we’d often come across other hummus eating children at parties and picnics and they’d invariably get the hummus everywhere, all over their hands and everything they touched. Not a fun situation when you’re worried about allergens. There were many uncomfortable moments trying to keep the hummus away from Little S!

I’ve tried just so many times to make a good hummus without using tahini but somehow the results are often just a bit bleurgh – it loses a lot of the moreish umami when the tahini is removed, as well as some of the silky smoothness. Whilst browsing the ‘vegan meringues hits and misses’ Facebook page, I came across the apparently traditional idea of using some of the chickpea water from the tin or cooking (the aquafaba) to give a creamy texture. Boy does it work well! The texture is spot on. By making sure the hummus is well seasoned you can make a pretty delicious sesame-free dip.

Perfect Sesame-free Hummus

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

perfect hummus, no sesame

makes 1 small bowlful

1/2 tin chickpeas

1 tbsp lemon juice

1/4 clove garlic, crushed

Salt to taste (probably a bit more than you think!)

2 tbsp aquafaba

1 tbsp plus 1 tsp extra virgin olive oil

1/2 tsp ground cumin

To drizzle: extra virgin olive oil and paprika

  1. Whizz together all the ingredients in a food processor until you have a smooth, creamy mixture. taste and adjust the salt, lemon and cumin to taste.
  2. Serve drizzled with extra virgin olive oil and paprika

hummus, no tahini