Saturday, 17 November 2018

Butternut Squash, Ginger and Orange Cake (Gluten Free)

***Unfinished blog - no photos etc. - published temporarily so I can read it on my phone in the kitchen while I make it again!!!***

A delicious, spiced squash and ginger cake with fragrant orange notes

When you end up with four butternut squashes (primarily from your veg box delivery), you need to be a bit creative to use them all up!

Having already made a tasty squash and tomato soup, curry, and some buttery squash and swede mash for the freezer, it seemed like I could turn towards the dark side (cake!), and come up with something new.

This cake is made with gluten free flour, as one of us in the family can't have gluten (hence the majority of my cakes and bakes are gluten free), but you could make it with normal flour if you prefer. Also, the cake is naturally dairy free, so if you wanted to, you could use dairy / lacto free substitutes in the topping to make the whole think dairy / lacto free.

Ingredients
  • 500g butternut squash flesh, peeled and coarsely grated (a 1kg squash will yield this from chopping it in half from side to side, and using the top half - the thinner part without seeds in it)
  • 275g self-raising gluten free flour (e.g. Doves Farm brand)
  • 2 tsp bicarbonate of soda
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 2 x 15ml tbsp ground ginger
  • 2 tsp ground cinnamon
  • 1 tsp ground mixed spice
  • 150g light brown soft sugar (e.g. muscovado)
  • 150g dark brown soft sugar
  • 4 eggs, beaten (215-220g)
  • 250g neutral flavoured oil (e.g. sunflower, groundnut, vegetable etc.)
  • 2 heaped teaspoons black treacle (30g)
  • 175g sultanas (or your preferred form of dried fruit)
  • Zest and juice of 1 orange (reserve 1 tbsp juice for frosting)

Frosting
  • 235g cream cheese (preferably full fat) or lactose/dairy free equivalent
  • 100g butter (or lactose/dairy free equivalent)
  • Zest of 1 orange, plus 1 tbsp of orange juice from above
  • 115g (golden) icing sugar

Equipment
1 x 9" square baking tin (if using a silicone tin, as I do, place on a baking tray)

Method
1. Remove the cream cheese and butter from the fridge, weigh out, and set aside to come to room temperature. Coarsely grate the butternut squash, then zest and juice one of the oranges, and reserve 1 tbsp of juice for the frosting.

2. Pre-heat the oven to gas mark 4 and lightly grease the cake tin and line with greaseproof baking paper.

3. Mix together the flour, bicarbonate of soda, salt, ground spices and sugar in a large bowl, making sure there are no lumps of sugar.


4. Beat the eggs together, and then beat in the oil, the black treacle, 1 tbsp of the orange juice (reserve the rest), and then mix in the grated squash and the sultanas.

5. Add the egg/oil/squash mixture to the flour/spice/sugar mixture and combine thoroughly, then pour the mixture into the lined cake tin. (If using a silicone tin, place on a baking tray first). It's quite a wet batter.

6. Place into the middle of the oven and cook for approximately 50 to 60 minutes, or until cooked through - where a skewer inserted into the middle of the cake comes out hot and clean. Remove from the oven, poke holes with a skewer all over the top while it's still warm, and evenly sprinkle over the remaining orange juice (excluding the reserved tbsp for the icing), then allow to cool in the tin for about an hour or until completely cool to the touch.


7. To make the frosting, ensure the cream cheese has come to room temperature, and beat together with the softened butter, then add in the reserved tbsp orange juice, grate in the zest of the other orange, and the icing sugar (if the cream cheese is chilled, the butter will not mix with it properly, and be lumpy - if this happens, just set aside until the mixture has come up to room temperature, and mix again until smooth). I find it easiest to use a hand-held electric beater/mixer for this.

8. When the cake is completely cool, spread with the topping and enjoy with a nice cuppa tea or coffee!



Saturday, 10 November 2018

Masala Chai Cake with Vanilla Cinnamon Frosting (Gluten Free)

A deliciously spiced, moist and light cake that no-one will guess the secret ingredient to!


I am always trying to think up new and exciting flavours for cakes to make that everyone can enjoy, and I thought my idea for a masala chai cake was inspired!


As it is autumn, I thought something with warming spices would be delicious, which made me think of masala chai - an Indian take on tea, simmered with whole spices - namely cinnamon, cardamom, ginger, cloves and black peppercorns - with a cinnamon and vanilla cream cheese frosting to complement the flavours.

Tuesday, 16 October 2018

Easy Battered Fish in a Tasty Lemon and Parsley Batter - Gluten Free (or normal)

Delicious, crispy, battered fish, in a gluten free batter that packs a flavour punch!


Once you've tasted this, you won't want to go back to 'normal' batter - the lemon zest and parsley give it a delicious lift, and the cornflour and sparkling water make the batter lovely and crispy and light.

When you like the crispy bits and drizzle over a bit more batter after the first turn...

What's more, you can have battered fish without the mess and inconvenience of having to fill up a deep fat fryer with litres of oil - this has been simply shallow fried with only 1/2cm of oil in a non-stick frying pan - so it's quick and easy to do too (and you can filter and re-use the oil afterwards if you like).

Well, what more do you need to have a go - just get a couple of fillets of your favourite white fish, and if you like curry sauce on the side, have a go at my delicious and easy (gluten free) curry sauce - it's better that the chip shop's too - not that we're biased!!

The quick version with dried parsley and oven chips to keep everyone happy!

Serves two, easily doubled. Let's not talk about calories, because a small minority of my recipes are just never going to have them, OK? This is for a day when you just don't care!!

Better-Than Chip Shop Curry Sauce - naturally Gluten Free

Craving a really, REALLY good curry sauce to have with your chips?


Then, as the cliche goes - look no further! This is based on the flavours of one of the tastiest curry sauces I've had in recent years with fish and chips, at The Fish and The Chip in Leicester which does a fairly priced and very tasty plate of gluten free fish and chips at lunchtimes, should you be looking for anywhere coeliac-friendly!


Curry sauce is by nature, not the most photogenic of condiments, however what it lacks in aesthetic appeal, it certainly makes up for in flavour, and it's not at all complicated to make, and you've probably already got most of the ingredients to hand - so do give this a go! Plus, you can freeze it in portions for the next time you need some with your (fish and) chips! And of course, I've got a delicious and easy recipe for gluten free battered fish, that you can make in a frying pan!

Sunday, 23 September 2018

Crisp and Spicy Onion Bhajis (naturally gluten free)

These are hand-on-heart the best onion bhajis I've ever tasted!


Crispy, with a moist fluffy middle and absolutely packed full of flavour, they are absolutely unbeatable when home-made!


We're fortunate to live not too far from a very multicultural city where there are some excellent Indian restaurants, and delis that you can buy wonderful treats from, so trying to nail a tasty, crispy onion bhaji was actually quite fun after many years of eating all kinds!

I rarely cook deep fried foods - in fact, I seem to buy a deep fat fryer maybe once a decade for a special occasion, and then it languishes unused for many years in a cupboard. However, since my daughter was diagnosed with coeliac disease, I have a new reason to develop recipes for things which
are difficult to acquire gluten free and/or free from cross contamination (so for example, onion bhajis are naturally gluten free, being made from gram flour, however they sometimes contain wheat flour, or even trickier to spot, if you buy them, they're often a 'may contain', or more often than not may have been fried in oil that has had other things fried in it containing wheat - so a bit of a no-no when you can't risk even a crumb of something containing gluten!).

Makes 16 to 20 - easily doubled. Warning - VERY more-ish! And no, we're not mentioning calories for this recipe...!

Saturday, 22 September 2018

Zigni - Spicy Eritrean Beef Stew with Instant Pot Pressure Cooker and Slow Cooker method

Love spicy food? Fancy trying something new? Then why not have a go at this delicious Eritrean beef stew.


In our house at the moment, shin of beef is currently enjoying a period of popularity, as it is one of the most delicious, tasty and tender cuts of beef to cook slowly and also relatively economical.


Aside from a handful of staples, I've always enjoyed cooking new dishes on a regular basis, and re-creating food that I've enjoyed out and about. Finding new ways to slow-cook beef is always good fun, as there are so many different ways from so many different countries.
This is not a difficult dish to cook, it's extremely tasty and it's well worth making your own berbere spice mix to make it with, as that is also a simple thing to do once you've assembled the ingredients. 
Serves 8 to 10, or more as part of a selection of dishes. You can easily half this quantity if you wish to, and it freezes really well.

394 to 492 calories per serving (depending on whether a tenth or an eighth of the whole quantity - if you want to knock off around 30 calories a portion you can use pure oil spray for browning the beef and cooking the peppers, but you will need the keep the oil as stated for browning the onions).

Berbere - Ethiopian / Eritrean Spice Mix

A spicy mix predominately made of chilli, used to flavour many Ethiopian and Eritrean dishes.


One of the fundamental cornerstones of Ethiopian and Eritrean cooking is berbere - families have their own recipes for it, passed down from generation to generation - a bit like Italian families might pass down the recipes for a basic tomato sauce.


You can buy it ready made, but I think you might be disappointed with what is offered by generic spice manufacturers - much better to have a go at blending your own for a bit more authenticity.

Sunday, 16 September 2018

Easy Sri Lankan Cauliflower Curry

This curry is so easy and quick to make, and it tastes that good you can eat it all by itself, or with the simplest of accompaniments!

I've been going a bit mad for Sri Lankan food at the moment (yes, it probably shows in my blog posts!), and I love to share the things that I love the most!

*** Post in progress, awaiting photos! ***

This cauliflower curry is my adaptation of one I found in a magazine, which I suspected used a variety of spices to replace Sri Lankan roasted curry powder.... so it seemed much simpler to do a bit of tweaking and use Sri Lankan curry powder instead, as it can be used in a variety of other dishes. 

Serves four as a main, or more as a side dish. 265 calories per main portion (with full fat coconut milk), or 214 calories if using light coconut milk.

If you don't want to make your own Sri Lankan curry powder, you can purchase it from Sri Lankan or Asian grocers, or online - I have a Sri Lankan friend who also makes the most delicious roasted curry powder too - see the notes below for more details (and a recipe to make it yourself). Alternatively, if you just want a simple, tasty curry you could use a medium madras curry powder as a substitute.

Ingredients
[Calories in square brackets]
  • 1 whole cauliflower, cut into bite-size pieces including tender leaves (or 600g cauliflower florets) [228]
  • 2 onions, finely diced [82]
  • 1 sprig curry leaves, picked (about 20) [3]
  • 1 tbsp oil e.g. coconut oil (for vegan/dairy free) or ghee [279]
  • 4 garlic cloves, crushed [24]
  • 2 inches ginger, grated or finely chopped [7]
  • 2 small green (finger) chillies, finely sliced [2]
  • 1.5 x tbsp Sri Lankan (Ceylon) roasted curry powder (see notes - check gluten free if not home made) [19]
  • 1/2 tsp turmeric [4]
  • 2 large ripe tomatoes, skinned and roughly chopped [16]
  • 250ml coconut milk [385, or 183 for light]
  • 1/2 lime (juice of) [9]
  • Salt

Method
1. Fry the onions and curry leaves in the oil over a low to medium heat, until just starting to turn golden - a non-stick wok is easiest.

2. Add the garlic, ginger and chillies and toss together for half a minute, then add the curry powder, turmeric and a teaspoon of salt and cook out for a couple of minutes.

3. Add the cauliflower, turn the heat up a bit, and stir/toss for about five minutes until the cauliflower has coloured a little and is coated by some of the spices (but still isn't cooked).

4. Add the chopped tomatoes, and cook for another 3 minutes or so, stirring, until starting to break down.

5. Stir in the coconut milk, and simmer until the cauliflower is just tender and cooked to your liking (about 8 minutes or so). Add the juice of half the lime, taste for seasoning, and add further salt if necessary to taste (I add another 1/2 tsp). Enjoy!

Delicious in a dish in its own right, served with rice or hoppers and sambal, or good served as a side, or a selection of curries.

Notes
For the roasted Sri Lankan curry powder - to make your own:
[379 calories in total, approximately 19 calories per tbsp/6g]
  • 25g cumin seeds [94]
  • 50g coriander seeds [149]
  • 25g fennel seeds [86]
  • 1 cinammon stick (about 3 inches, or if you won’t be able to grind it use 1 tbsp cinnamon powder) [15]
  • 1 tsp fenugreek seeds [7]
  • ½ tsp cloves [1]
  • Seeds from 10 green cardamom pods (discard the pods) – about ½ tsp [3]
  • 1 tsp black mustard seeds [9]
  • 1 tsp black peppercorns [5]
  • 4 dried long red chillies (shake out the seeds first, if you want a milder curry powder) [10]
If you’re not using pre-made curry powder, then make this first. Gently roast all of the whole spices, by putting them in a dry frying pan, over a low to medium heat and keeping them moving until they have darkened a little and become fragrant. Once you can smell the spices roasting it’s time to remove them elsewhere (out of the frying pan) to cool down. You may wish to do this in batches, and do the dried chillies on their own. Once the spices are roasted and cooled, grind them to a powder (easiest done in an electric spice grinder - you can pick one of these up for about £15, e.g. I use this Andrew James Coffee, Nut and Spice Grinder* which I've had for a few years now, and I've found it very reliable and brilliant for small amounts). This will store for at least three months in an airtight container.
If you're cooking gluten free, and you buy curry powder rather than making your own, make sure you check it's gluten free.
 
If anyone (in the UK) is interested in buying some Sri Lankan curry powder rather than making their own, I can recommend  the hot version from a lovely Sri Lankan lady I know, called Gayani - you can contact her here for more information about purchasing it (it's called Gold Dust) - sales@gayaniskitchenhq.co.uk

*Affiliate link

Sunday, 9 September 2018

Korean Beef Kimchi Jjigae (stew) in the Instant Pot Pressure Cooker or Slow Cooker

A deliciously spicy and comforting stew that's quite simple to make.


Bored of your traditional beef stew or beef curries? Fancy trying something a bit different for a change, that's easy to make and really tasty? Oh, and pretty healthy too, especially if you serve it with fresh kimchi which is full of probiotics and low in calories (my recipe is 48 calories per 100g, so no need to be shy!)


You can either cook this in the pressure cooker to save time, or leave it to languish in a slow cooker overnight or during the day. If you're not into gadgets, you could just simmer it on the stove top for a couple of hours instead, before the final hour's simmer.

Whichever way you cook it, it's incredibly tasty, and although it is a spicy dish, despite the different forms of chilli, I really don't think it's too spicy - I'd call it medium. Delicious served with kimchi (especially if fresh), and steamed or boiled rice on the side. Fast day? Serve yours with cauliflower 'rice' at only 38 calories per 100g.

Makes 12 servings, easily halved, or perfect for freezing in portions for future easy meals in minutes.

364 calories per serving.

Sunday, 20 May 2018

Steak with Chimichurri Sauce

This has to be one of THE tastiest ways to serve steak!


This deliciously punchy sauce which originates from Argentina and Uruguay is the perfect condiment for barbecued, griddled or grilled meats - especially steaks.


We've recently got into the thin-cut sirloin steaks (more economical for a family of four, and a modest portion of red meat), which need only seconds on each side on a really hot pre-heated griddle for a nice char on the outside, and a pink and juicy inside, and are perfect then sliced into thick strips and drizzled with the chimichurri sauce.

This amount of sauce generously serves 8 when having a moderate amount of steak (such as the afore-mentioned thin-cut sirloin steak - which is around 160g / 6 oz), however I appreciate that some people like a big hunk o' meat, so the quantity of sauce reflects this, as if you're having 4 large steaks, then this would be enough to go between 4 to 6 people. You can easily halve the quantity of sauce if needs be. It also keeps well in the fridge for a few days, and you can make it the night before if you want the flavours to develop - otherwise just make it an hour or two in advance (or more if you have time).

Tuesday, 15 May 2018

Black Bean and Butternut Squash Chilli

This is a really delicious meat-free alternative to a chilli con carne, absolutely packed with flavour and texture, and really versatile too!


With a fortnightly (wonky) veg box having become a regular occurence in our lives, I'm finding myself coming up with lots of new things to cook to use up the vegetables that we're sent (which are pretty much a surprise on the day we receive them), which is a great way to stop yourself from falling into a culinary rut!


I'd really got into roasting sweet potatoes with cumin seeds for a bit of crunch, and had sweet potato and butternut squash to use up, and thought it would be nice to stick them in the oven to roast while prepping the rest of dinner, and thought they would be really nice to add into a bean chilli, along with some peppers (which I quite like to add into my ordinary chilli con carne from time to time, to give it a bit of a twist).

So this was the end result, cooked with my usual blend of spices for a chilli, and one that's definitely going onto the meat free regulars - it's so tasty and filling!

Served with my spicy cornbread, rice, grated cheese, sour cream and coriander


You can decide whether to use squash or sweet potato or a mixture, depending on what you've got in, and also use your favourite beans - you'll get a tasty result at the end whatever you use!

Served in tortillas with sour cream, fresh tomato, avocado, lightly pickled onions
and some sour cream mixed with lime juice, topped with coriander and chillies


Serves 10-12 portions (recipe easily halved) from 155-187 calories a portion using butternut squash (depending on whether a tenth or a twelfth) to 190-229 calories a portion using sweet potato. Why not have a wedge of homemade spicy cornbread on the side - it's quite easy to make, and also very filling! My recipe is here, from 116 calories for a wedge.

Sunday, 13 May 2018

Spicy Cornbread - Naturally Gluten Free

This is delicious served as a side dish to a good chilli con carne, or veggie chilli, especially fresh from the oven!


It's also very easy and quick to make - you just need to soak the toasted corn for a few hours or overnight / during the day first, then a quick mix and pop it into the oven for 15 to 20 minutes!



It's a lovely, tasty accompaniment to chilli, crusty on the outside and soft and moist on the inside - if you don't want it especially spicy you could just use half a red chilli and skip the jalepenos, or cut all the chilli out altogether if you prefer.

I haven't tried making this with any dairy free substitutes, as yet, as the reaction between the buttermilk and the bicarb is part if what makes it light and fluffy - so if any of my dairy-free or vegan friends or followers do make it with a dairy free substitute, I'd love to hear what you used and how you got on. Buttermilk essentially tastes like yoghurt, but is a bit thinner, and has a very low fat content - so if you can't get hold of it, then you could just use regular plain low fat yoghurt and thin it down a little with water.

Cuts into 8 or 12 wedges, serves 8 to 12 as a side to a main meal. 116 calories for a twelfth wedge, 173 calories for an eighth, if you're counting.

Thursday, 3 May 2018

Luxury Potato Salad

 A delicious, creamy potato salad full of flavour


This potato salad is delicious both warm or cold, depending on what you're serving it with.


Great as an accompaniment to cold meats, smoked fish, cured meats, barbecues, salads, leftover roast chicken and almost anything you can think of!

If you want to lower the calories, use fat free Greek yoghurt, light mayonnaise and half fat creme fraiche (or just extra yoghurt. Will keep happily in the fridge for a few days. Serves 8 to 10 comfortably, easily halved.

Monday, 16 April 2018

Squash, Sweet Potato and Spinach Dhansak

A delicious and healthy way to get your authentic curry fix using vegetables which just happen to be packed full of nutrients!


I always think there's nothing better than when you can eat a really tasty dinner, that you really enjoy, and BONUS - it's actually full of wonderfully healthy ingredients and good for you!


Even better if your children love it too and it's getting loads of healthy fresh vegetables down them and there are no complaints!

Well, what more can you ask? Well, I suppose you could want it to be vegetarian or vegan, gluten, dairy and nut free... well, it just so happens to be those things too - and good for a fast day as well, if you're looking for something low calorie...

,,,so what are you waiting for? Get in!!!

Serves four at 259 calories a portion. You could split into six more modest portions (e.g. as a side dish, or a lighter lunch, for 173 calories a portion). For a delicious fresh twist, why not serve with a helping of cachumber (Indian tomato, cucumber and onion salad with lime, spices and fresh coriander) for only 43 calories a portion - see here for my recipe. Serve with your choice of rice and/or flatbreads, or for a low calorie, low carb alternative, cauliflower 'rice'.


Sunday, 8 April 2018

Spiced Snozzcumber Cake (gluten free and lacto/dairy free - or not!)

A seriously delicious and moist cake that no-one will guess the secret ingredient to!


OK, don't worry, you don't have to get hold of 'snozzcumbers' to make this - large courgettes or marrow will do the job! Why 'Snozzcumber Cake'? Well, it was World Book Day and I went to work dressed as the BFG (complete with big ears, cape, dream blower, a bottle of Frobscottle, and of course some 'snozzcumbers' - which were extremely large courgettes) and decided to make a cake from said snozzcumbers to take into work for the rest of the staff to enjoy.


If you like carrot cake, I think you'll love this, as I use similar spicing to that I use in my carrot cakes, but use pecan nuts instead of walnuts, and a maple flavoured cream cheese frosting to complement the flavours. As my daughter has to have a gluten free diet, it is gluten free - but you'd never know as it is so delicious and moist! If you're not on a gluten free diet, feel free to use normal plain flour instead. Either way it will be seriously delicious!


Makes a 9 inch square cake (so up to 16 portions depending on how you want to cut it!). 

Related Recipes

If you liked this recipe, you may also like these...