Homemade Twiglets

You’ve gotta love Twiglets! Those gnarly little marmite flavoured sticks that are the perfect accompaniment to pre-dinner drinks. Probably a very British snack (they are flavoured with divisive marmite after all), I reckon anyone would have a hard time not enjoying these little savoury sticks.

Problem is they’re not safe for us, as they may contain milk, eggs and sesame. We’ve always bemoaned this as Big S loves marmite and they would have been the perfect non crisp snack for her. I just know she would love Twiglets.

So, I started thinking, could I recreate Twiglets just in time for Christmas? I wasn’t sure, but I did some research and came across a few recipes online. Good start, but these didn’t ring true to me – Twiglets are essentially very crunchy so simply baking a dough as these recipes opted for was not going to work, in my opinion. Then my mind turned to the little crunchy tomato taralli biscuits I made last year. They were super crunchy and moreish so maybe the same technique would work? Wow, it really did work! By adding the boiling stage before baking you get wonderfully crunchy little sticks that keep well and have just the right Twiglet crunch! It is essential to use the wholemeal flour as Twiglets have a wheaty taste as well as the marmite flavour. Even D, who is a true Twiglet expert said these little marmite sticks are incredibly authentic and delicious 🙂

It may be a faff to make your own Twiglets, but if you’ve missed them as much as us, it’s well worth the extra effort

Homemade Twiglets

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

makes about 80

125g wholemeal flour

1/2 tsp salt

40ml water

40ml extra virgin olive oil

2 tsp marmite

to glaze: 1 tsp marmite mixed with 1 tsp dairy-free milk, flaky salt crystals

  1. Stir in the salt into the flour. Add the marmite, olive oil and water and bring together to a soft dough.
  2. Knead until silky and smooth.
  3. Wrap and rest in the fridge for at least an hour
  4. Preheat the oven to 180 degrees Centigrade Fan, 190 degrees non-fan
  5. Grab small grape sized pieces of the dough and then roll into half cm wide sausages. Cut into stick lengths and try and make them uneven and gnarly. Place on the lined baking tray while you shape the rest.Bring a pan of water to the boil. Drop in the Twiglets, ten or so at a time and boil until the rise to the surface. This will take a minute or two.
  6. Place back on the lined baking sheet.
  7. Brush with the glaze and sprinkle with the salt. 
  8. Bake for 20-25 minutes until golden brown and crispy. 
  9. Cool on wire rack. These will get more crunchy as they cool. Store in an airtight container for up to a week (if they last that long!)

Pizza Breadsticks

For us lockdown has been a lot about food! Either desperately searching for items that have been of stock, suddenly changing my shopping habits to a once weekly shop without the tops ups and visits to various other supermarkets to get the items we need, making what seems like constant meals and snacks or making fun from a cookbook challenge or Friday evening restaurant at home nights.

I probably think about food more than most in having to cook for a variety of different diets, writing a blog and generally being obsessed with cooking, but that seems to have increased in lockdown! I had intended to write up more recipes, but have ended up making the dishes but not having the time to write them up…. there’s now a backlog so I’ll try and post more in the next few weeks 🙂

One thing I’m constantly searching for new snack recipes to make for the family. By avoiding milk, eggs, nuts and seeds our snack options always seem limited, but everyone needs a good snack, right? These pizza breadsticks are a really good addition, and I’d recommend them to take on a picnic or snack on with an aperitif – we had them with our ‘mocktails’ before our French bistro restaurant at home night and they went down a treat. You can either make 12 bigger softer breadsticks, or 24 smaller, crispier ones, simply make smaller and twice as many from the dough for the crunchier versions – the choice is yours!

Pizza Breadsticks

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

Makes 12 or 24 sticks

250g strong white bread flour

1 tsp salt

1/2 tbsp fast action dried yeast

1 tbsp extra virgin olive oil

150ml tepid water

2 tbsps extra virgin olive oil

2 tbsps tomato puree (if you can find sun-dried tomato puree all the better)

1 tbsp extra virgin olive oil

1 tsp dried oregano

1/2 tsp garlic powder

1 tsp salt

  1. Sift the flour into a large bowl. Stir in the yeast and salt.
  2. Make a ‘well’ in the middle and pour in the water and 1 tbsp oil.
  3. Mix until it comes together to form a dough. Then knead until smooth and the dough springs back when you press it.
  4. Place in a bowl, cover with cling film and leave to rise for about 1 hour.
  5. Line 2 baking sheets with parchment and turn the oven on to 200 degrees Centigrade/Gas Mark 6
  6. In a small bowl mix together the tomato puree, oil, garlic powder, oregano and additional salt, set aside.
  7. Once the dough has risen, take it out of the bowl and knock back the dough. Knead for a couple of minutes.
  8. Divide into 12 (or 24) even sized pieces.
  9. Roll each out into a long thin (or short thin for the smaller sticks) sausage shape and place on the parchment lined baking sheet. They don’t have to be perfect.
  10. Brush with the tomato puree mix.
  11. Cover lightly with a clean tea-towel and leave to rise for about half an hour.
  12. Bake for 10-15 minutes until they’re turning golden and sound hollow when tapped.
  13. Cool on a wire rack.
  14. Best eaten fresh.

Pizza Swirls and Savoury Swirls

These little swirls are the answer to your snack dreams! Easy, moreish and worthy of any occasion. I serve them instead of crisps, with an aperitif or as a tasty addition to packed lunches. These bites are one of my ‘go to’ recipes when the girls are hungry and only a savoury option will do. To be honest, it’s not much of a recipe, nothing complicated here, but sometimes it’s the inspiration that’s needed rather than the instructions.

Puff pastry has a miriade of uses, and these little bitesized snacks are a great example of a super quick puff based recipe. This recipe if for either pizza flavoured bites (cheese, tomato and oregano), or the ultimate umami taste of cheese and marmite. I know Marmite totally divides people, so go for your favoured choice, or maybe even a combination of the two.

Most puff pastry is dairy-free if it isn’t the ‘all butter’ version (but do check) and is certainly a great freezer staple. I don’t often use dairy-free cheese as i find most of it pretty unpalatable, but it really does work in this recipe as it’s paired with such strong flavours any unpleasant flavour is overpowered and you are left with a pleasing savoury umami taste.

 

Pizza and Savoury Swirls

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

makes 10-15

1/2 pack of puff-pastry

1 tbsp tomato puree or 1 tbsp marmite

about 3 tbsp grated dairy-free cheese (enough to lightly sprinkle over)

1/2 tsp oregano if making pizza swirls (optional)

  1. Preheat the oven to 180 degrees Centigrade, Line a baking sheet with parchment.
  2. Roll out the puff pastry to an even rectangle (or be really lazy and use pre-rolled!)
  3. For pizza swirls: Spread the tomato puree evenly all over the puff. For savoury swirls do the same with the marmite. Sprinkle over the cheese and oregano if using.
  4. Roll up into a Swiss roll shape. Cut 1cm slices and place onto the baking sheet, with room to spread.
  5. Bake for 15-20 minutes until risen and golden.

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 🙂

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

Quick Savoury Straws

Now it’s December we can officially get all Christmassy, which is really exciting as I have an ever expanding list of Christmas themed ideas which I need to get on with. Some of these have been on the back burner for some time, because if they don’t get posted before Christmas then they have to be kept til the following year. This is very frustrating when they’re fantastic recipes that need sharing! As you may have guessed, I have some knock-out sweet recipes lined up for the next few weeks, but here’s an easy savoury snack for the party season.

With so much festive time spent at home or visiting friends and family, the savoury snack has a crucial place for filling gaps between meals or to nibble on with drinks. In my view there’s nothing quite like something with a crispy crunch when you feel like a savoury snack. Having to avoid certain food stuffs really restricts the choices of savoury snacks available – of course no Christmas nuts in this house, no cheese based treats, indeed no Twiglets either – sad times!

Ok there is a choice of certain flavours and brands of crisps which we rely upon (we’re all big crisp fans in this household) and some popcorn brands are a good option but after that the choices get a little dull or difficult. So, the brief is a savoury snack which is easy to make, savoury and tempting too. Something that’s a little reminiscent of a cheese straw – light, crispy and oh so tangy? Welcome then  savoury stars which are irresistible savoury nibbles that are made in a flash. You may say, ‘oh I don’t like marmite so I’ll hate these’. Fair enough, but in my experience even marmite haters tend to enjoy these savoury crispy batons – it’s just a way of giving them a salty tang. I don’t tend to use ‘dairy-free’ cheese often, but on this occasion it does lift the taste to a new level. Make them any length/width you like – the photos show some that are long and elegant, some short and kind of chubby; all equally delicious.

 

Quick Savoury Straws

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

makes 20+

1/2 pack ready made puff pastry

1 tbsp marmite

a few drops of water

a sprinkle of dairy-free grated cheese

  1. Preheat the oven to 220 degreesC/gas mark 7
  2. Roll out the pastry, trying to make a nice even rectangle
  3. Thin the marmite with a few drops of water and spread over the pastry. Sprinkle with the dairy-free cheese. A couple of tbsp should be plenty.
  4. Fold the pastry in half and roll it out a little more.
  5. Cut 1cm thick strips and then twist a few times. Place on a lined baking sheet.
  6. Bake for 10-15 minutes until golden and puffed up.
  7. They will keep for a couple of days in an airtight container.

Pizza Straws

dairy-free pizza straws

How about a savoury snack that can be whizzed up in a flash and packs a punch of flavour, without having to resort to opening a bag of crisps? ( although I do love a crisp now and then!) These straws are crispy, flaky, savoury and as the name suggests: pizza flavoured. Sounds tempting, and they are. 

 By twirling the strips of tomato and herb coated puff pastry you create a pretty twist and a nice light feel to them. Those who are dairy- free may have to avoid cheese straws but theses are a great alternative to hand out to all those impromptu festive visitors.

Pizza Straws

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

vegan pizza flavoured 'cheese straws'

makes plenty for 4 – 6 people

1/2 pack dairy- free puff pastry (Jus-roll non-butter version is dairy-free)

1 or 2 tbsps Tomato purée (preferably sun-dried)

A sprinkle of Oregano

A small handful dairy free cheese ( optional)

  1. Roll out the puff pastry to a thin even square
  2. Spread over a thin layer of the tomato purée
  3. Sprinkle over the oregano ( and cheese if using)
  4. Cut into even sized strips and twist each one a few times before placing on a baking sheet
  5. Bake at 190 degrees centigrade for 10 minutes until puffed up, golden and crispy

dairy-free pizza flavoured 'cheese straws'

Mini cheddars, dairy free!

dairy-free mini cheddars

Savoury snacks which aren’t crisps can be hard to find on a restricted diet,  as so many are cheesy or nutty etc. And you can’t have crisps all the time. Mini cheddars are big (I should probably say popular as obviously they’re mini and not big!) in the UK and if you see people eating a savoury snack it’s most often crisps, nuts or mini cheddars – those bags of mini cheesy crackers are everywhere! They’re clearly out of the question for us (and looking at the pack that might be a good thing as they certainly aren’t in any way healthy) but my girls have often remarked that mini cheddars look tempting. Now that’s the kind of challenge I like!

So here is my dairy-free version of mini cheddars – cheerless cheddars if you like. They are pretty delicious, not as cheesy as the original but definitely with a cheesy savoury twang – perfect as a little salty nibble.

Mini cheddars – dairy-free!

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

egg-free, nut-free homemade mini cheddars

1 cup plus 1 tbsp plain flour

3 tbsps nutritional yeast

1 tsp English mustard powder

1/4-1/2 tsp salt

Large pinch of cayenne pepper

5 tbsp dairyfree margarine

2 tbsp cold water

  1. Preheat the oven to 190 degrees centigrade
  2. In a food processor, pulse together the flour, yeast, spices and margarine. Add the water and continue to pulse until you have formed a soft but not sticky dough ( if it is sticky add a touch more flour)
  3. Roll out to 3 mm thick, stamp out small circles ( about 3 cm diameter) place onto a baking sheet and prick the centres with a fork to give the correct ‘ mini cheddar’ look making vegan mini cheddars
  4. Bake for 10-12 minutes until golden brown
  5. Cool on a wire rack

homemade dairy-free mini cheddars

Herby and smokey straws/breadsticks

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Breadsticks and savoury straws – such a handy savoury snack aren’t they? Particularly for children, they provide that little something to fill rumbly tummies without an extra dose of sugar or resorting to fried snacks like a bag of crisps. We, however, have great difficulty finding breadsticks which don’t have traces of sesame and most straws are laden with butter and/or cheese.

These fine crunchy sticks are the perfect vehicle for carrying dips from bowl to mouth and would fit either as a snack to accompany an elegant aperitif or a savoury addition to a children’s tea party.

Have I given enough reasons why you should make these herby straws? Well, if those reasons aren’t enough – the recipe is a doddle and you can add any flavouring you like. Lots of variations possible… more spice, different herbs, cheese if you aren’t avoiding it.

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

20140913-080120.jpg

makes about 24

  • 300g plain flour
  • 1 tsp baking powder
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 1-2 tsp sweet smoked paprika (depending on how much you like that smoky flavour)
  • 2 tsp dried oregano
  • 100g dairy-free spread, such as Pure
  • 80-100ml water

– Preheat the oven to 160 degrees Centigrade/ Gas Mark 3/ 325 degrees Fahrenheit 
– Line 2 cookie sheets with parchment
– Either rub the spread into the flour, baking powder and flavourings/seasonings with your fingertips, or whizz all those ingredients together in a food processor until the mixture resembles breadcrumbs.
– Gradually add the water until you form a soft, but not sticky dough. You may not need all the water.
– Roll out to a thickness of about 3mm, they need to be fairly thin as you want really crisp and crunchy sticks
– Cut into straw shapes and place on the baking sheet
– Bake for 25-30 minutes until golden and cooked through
– Cool on a wire rack
– These straws keep well for a few days.

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Salt and Vinegar Crackers

Those with limited diets have so few options for savoury snacks – for us nuts are out of the question, most savoury options are cheesy and you can definitely have too many crisps. These little salt and vinegar crackers are super-tangy and savoury, and equally moreish and tempting – a little something to bridge the gap until meal time. This recipe uses nutritional yeast, which although doesn’t sound very attractive is such a useful weapon for giving dishes some savoury depth.

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

IMG_7190makes about 30-60 (depending on size!)

  • 1 cup plain flour
  • 1 tbsp nutritional yeast
  • 2 tbsps balsamic vinegar
  • 1 tsp herbes de Provence
  • 1/4-1/2 tsp salt
  • 1 tsp oregano
  • 5 tbsps dairy-free spread
  • rock salt to sprinkle
  • oat milk to brush

– Preheat the oven to 190 degrees centigrade/gas mark 5
– In a food processor, pulse together all the ingredients except the balsamic until it resembles fine breadcrumbs (or rub the spread into the dry ingredients by hand)
– Add the balsamic vinegar to make a dough
– On a floured surface roll out the dough to 1/2 cm thick and cut out shapes with mini cookie cutters
– Place on an cookie sheet, rush tops with oat milk and sprinkle with rock salt
– Bake for 10-15 minutes until starting to turn golden
– Cool
– These will keep well for a few days in a sealed container

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