Spicy Cauliflower-Cashew Bites with Wild Garlic Sauce and American ‘Buffalo’ Sauce (vegan/g-f)

creole cauliflower bitesThis past week or so has been a funny one, food-wise. Normally I am a bit of a texture-head, loving a bit of crunch, a bit of snap (if not quite crackle and pop). But unfortunately a spring cold rapidly escalated into sinusitis, and all that entails.

I feel a few of you recoiling – sorry.

Fond of the old self-remedy thing I have been fighting fever and aches with infusions of golden turmeric milk and doses of assorted green smoothies (this and this are on heavy rotation) and my beetroot zinger juice. Noodles have also featured highly. And soup. All in quite small amounts for me. Mr A knows it’s serious when I am off my grub!  Continue reading

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Soft and Chewy Molasses Crinkle Cookies (grain-free)

soft molasses cookie (grain free)If you see me today you will notice that I am unusually pale, my eyes a bit squinting and cautious. For that matter my voice is a little on the crackly side. I sound like an old tape recording and look like a ghost. Not a good look. Continue reading

Seven-Seed Spelt Bread

spelt breadDo you fancy a little weekend baking?

Despite my main oven literally blowing up this past week (cue catering panic), I had a strong urge to bake. Luckily I know that my tiny conventional ‘top’ oven is a pretty efficient baker. While my workhorse fan oven gets (got) the cast iron pots of slow-cooked stews and sheets of vegetables to roast, the dinky top oven gets the oh-ah stuff, the baking. So despite jet lag, and the energy levels of a particularly lazy sloth, I gathered my baking ingredients and got stuck in. I could’ve opted for these crunchy, delicate Cashew and Three-Ginger Biscuits (store cupboard ingredients). And I knew my daughter would love me forever if I made Marbled Peanut Butter and Jam Banana Bread (alas, no bananas). But I knew it had to be bread bread.

For me travelling solo is quite a chore. Even familiar airports I find confusing, and the security stressful. Add to this weather delays and cancellations at either end – polar vortex (again) and a tornado watch – and by the time I open my front door I am ready to collapse in a messy puddle of hormones, airline food and stale clothing. If I only I weren’t so dehydrated. As I said, solo travelling is a chore. Continue reading

Savoury Chelsea Buns – Two Ways

savoury Chelsea buns“Give her a Chelsea bun, miss! That’s what most young ladies like best!” The voice was rich and musical, and the speaker dexterously whipped back the snowy cloth that covered his basket, and disclosed a tempting array of the familiar square buns, joined together in rows, richly egged and browned and glistening in the sun.” — Lewis Carroll, A Tangled Tale

Sticky, swirly, raisiny. What’s not to love about a Chelsea bun? Continue reading

Fudgy Aduki Bean Brownies (grain-free + vegan option)

black bean browniesIt doesn’t happen often, but I have just rendered my daughter speechless. Not that she’s particularly loquacious, but she will speak her mind as necessary. And pass honest judgement on her old Mum’s cooking. More particularly my modest attempts at baking. Ouch.

When my Rachel was young I would make a good effort at donning a ‘pinny’ and doing a spot of after-school baking with her. But even then it was mostly breadsticks, flatbreads, or making something for a bake sale: we would lick the spoon and tidy the edges of course. Continue reading

Parsnip, Pear and Rosemary Muffins + A Giveaway

parsnip and pear muffinsI’ve just realised that I haven’t posted anything to tempt the sweet of tooth lately. Not a morsel. By now I really should be posting something in honour of poor, executed St Valentine. A saint with only the most tenuous links to pleasure, romantic love, and chocolate. So tenuous as to be non-existent, an invention of Chaucer, and the English.

I digress. And possibly depress. But still, I should post something chocolately. And soon.

It won’t be grand. It won’t be clever. But it will fulfil my self-imposed brief, “do no (culinary) harm.” Kind of like my own Hippocratic Oath. But with calories.  Continue reading

Cranberry and Pear Upside-Down Muffins

cranberry-and-pear-upside-down-muffinsThese probably aren’t going to be the prettiest muffins you will see in the run up to Christmas. If you want pretty – and I’m sure extremely tasty – festive baking, have a look at the world of wonder and fantasy that is Pinterest.  I’m crushing on this page in particular. I practically weep at the skill and creativity contained within those rolling pixels of perfection. Maybe I have even wailed and gnashed my teeth over your dainty treats.  To restore sanity and a sense of perspective I have recently adopted a habit of going over to Damn You Autocorrect. I find it is just the thing to cheer myself up after going on my increasingly regular Pinterest benders. True. Continue reading

Chocolate-Walnut Pumpkin Pie

chocolate-walnut-pumpkin-pie-imageConfession time: I’m not a big fan of pumpkin pie. There. I said it. However, I’m not proud of this declaration. For an American it is rather like saying you hate baseball, or Disney World. Might as well burn your passport and be done with it.

I have to admit I haven’t tried very hard with the whole pumpkin pie liking thing. I’ve  attempted a few slices in my day but they were always too bland, too soft, or too aggressively spiced: Goldilocks and the three pumpkin pies… Continue reading

Chocolate Frosting with a Whole Food Twist

chocolate-black-bean-frostingIt is not very often that I go a bit crazy with my own cooking. Like most cooks and food bloggers I will make stuff, serve it, write about it, but gosh don’t I get embarrassed when people like it. Do you do that too?

It is not that we aren’t grateful for adulation – not at all, please don’t stop – but we can be a bit awkward and weirdly shy. My schtick is that I hem and haw and say something like “oh, it doesn’t have enough salt in it,” or “it was in the oven about five minutes too long” (that was yesterday’s rebuttal to the lemon polenta cake I brought to a class). To some this may smack of false modesty, but I am sure that the majority of the time most of us praise-rebuffers are not fishing for compliments: we genuinely don’t think our offering is worthy of special mention. We’ve made it, we hope it is edible. End of.

But for today and today only, I will retract my inner self-critic and say that I really quite like this frosting AND I will smile politely and say “thank you very much” to anyone who likes it too. I’m quite chuffed with it because, to my knowledge, it is original and, crucially, tastes pretty much like chocolate frosting should taste – creamy, chocolatey, lickable. And the whole food twist? Black beans. Yup, black beans.chocolate-black-bean-frosting

Some of you will have made avocado frosting – and that’s really tasty stuff – but recently while cooking some black beans up for a savoury dish I just thought, why not? Why not indeed. They are awesome in black bean brownies (I’ll post my own version soon), so why wouldn’t they be good in something else in the chocolate-cocoa canon?

I knew it would need a wee help with the texture – a bit ‘floury’ on its own – so I added a little peanut butter (although cashew would be even better as it is milder). Melted good quality chocolate in place of the nut butter would be divine, but I wanted to see how ‘pure’ I could get it. I was totally shocked that I didn’t have to immediately stick it in the bin (we have no dog). None of it made it into the bin. My very truthful family helped out with the ‘cleaning up’. If they hadn’t given their thumbs up – or rather fingers in – I would’ve gone no further with this cranky idea.

If you dare to make this up do have more patience than have I: blend the heck out of the frosting. I blended as best as my tiny attention span would allow, but dark flecks are visible. The bold among you could pass them off as chocolate chips (?). Maybe pushing the beans through a sieve or food mill would be even better. You would also be more patient with the spreading and decorating.

It IS a bit nutty, and I wouldn’t recommend whacking it on anything too healthy (date-sweetened oat & chia cookies need not apply), but I think it would be a fun frosting on homemade chocolate cake, fairy cakes, anything with a nut or coffee flavour in need of frosting, even a dip for fresh fruit (it was nice with banana slices). I frosted up chocolate and beetroot muffins for a few nutrition groups and no one guessed the surprise healthy ingredient. The closest anyone got was avocado. Good guess. My next go with this will be to add malt syrup for a Horlick’s/Ovaltine vibe. That might be pushing it…

What weird stuff have you concocted lately?

chocolate-black-bean-frostingChocolate-Black Bean Frosting

Last year: Spinach and Walnut Dip (Spinach Pkhali)

Two years ago: Kale-Berry Smoothie

Unusual? Yes. A pretty good doppelganger for the real thing? I think so. If you have had black bean brownies (my recipe soon) you will know that somehow this ingredient works with chocolate and cocoa. I’ve just taken it in a slightly different direction: on top.

This black bean frosting was taste-tested on over 30 people: all thought it was chocolate frosting. With ingredients mainly of the store cupboard variety I hope you try it and give your verdict. Spread it on a decadent cake for a kind of calorie and fat balancing act, or do what we do and use it on my beetroot chocolate cake/muffins.

The following is just a guide – start with these amounts, blend, taste and adjust as you like. Makes enough to spread on one small cake or 9 muffins.

60g (slightly heaped 1/3 cup) cooked and rinsed black beans or adzuki beans

1 ½ tbsp cocoa or cacao powder

1 very heaped tbsp smooth nut butter (cashew would be mildest but I used peanut butter with good results)

2 tbsp (+) runny acacia honey or maple syrup

Pinch of fine salt

¼ tsp vanilla powder or paste (extract is to strong here – you taste the alcohol)

Enough warm water to get a smooth frosting (I used about 1 teaspoon)

METHOD: Pop everything into a blender and blend like mad. Keeps for four days, refrigerated in a covered container.

I’ve given the recipe sharing a break for a couple of weeks but this week I would like to include this unusual sweet over at Mark of Javelin Warrior’s Cookin’ W/ Luv Made With Love Mondays, and to Heather for her Sweet Wednesday Link Party. Please go and visit their great sites for ideas and more.

chocolate-black-bean-frostingchocolate-black-bean-frosting

Quick Pear and Tahini-Honey Tart + A Sweet Little Giveaway

easy pear tartHello, hello! Just back from seeing my lovely Dad and sister in Florida. It was a super visit, with too much food, lots of sun (and sunscreen) and loads of cheering for my star-pitcher nephew. Going to Tripp’s baseball games are always a highlight, even if any mosquito in a 20 mile radius always finds us…

It is funny to think that this young man, with a 90 mile an hour pitch (he is only just 14), used to throw so wildly that even the spectators ducked – from behind a 25-foot mesh fence. Perhaps I exaggerate. A tad. :D Continue reading