What’s Your Favourite Cake

I love baking and try to make time each weekend to get something baked and then frozen so I can pretend to be a good mummy by putting something homebaked into my son’s lunch box.

But I am running out of inspiration… We usually rotate Nigella’s flourless brownies (which is *bad* cos they contain almonds and the school has a no nuts policy); Nigella’s ‘proper’ brownies (but they’re a bit rich), cherry and almond slice (ditto nut issues), courgette cake, carrot cake, ginger cake, flapjacks and parkin.

So in an attempt to change our routine, please suggest your favourite cakes (preferably with a recipe!) and pep up our lunches (and expand our waistlines…!).

Apricot and Ginger Loaf

A cake, yummy. A healthy cake??! Not too sure about that! I didn’t realise when I set out to make this that it was fat free, but it is and also contains loads of dried fruit so it’s positively like eating healthy food, even though it’s cake.

Adapted from Rose Elliott’s Vegetarian Express cos I didn’t have any prunes to make into a puree, only apricots.

You need:
About 10 dried apricots
Couple of tbsp of water
200g soft brown sugar
50g stem ginger in syrup
2 tsp ground ginger
grated rind of 1 lemon
2 eggs
150g flour
1/2 tsp baking powder
125g mixed dried fruit (I love Waitrose mixed vine fruit, very succulent and no manky currants, just big juicy sultanas, raisins and cherries)
3 tbsp boiling water

Begin by putting the apricots into a pan with a couple of tbsp water and heat gently. Leave simmering for about 15 mins, then blitz to a puree with a stick blender.

Mix everything else into the apricot puree, slob into a lined loaf tin and then bake at 160 degrees for 30-45 mins.

Scoff but feel healthy cos it’s fat free and full of fruit innit 🙂

Red Lentil Dhal

Can’t believe I haven’t blogged this recipe yet – it’s a staple in our house and a regular request from Lex. It’s thicker than restaurant dhals but I like it like this and it can act as a sandwich filler the next day too…

8oz red lentils
1 pint veggie stock
1 small bay leaf
1 onion chopped
1 green pepper chopped (don’t always use this)
1 garlic clove crushed (we always use 4 or 5 lol)
½ tsp ground cumin
½ tsp tumeric
½ tsp chilli powder
½ tsp ground corriander
Fresh chopped corriander to serve (optional)
Crispy fried onion rings to serve (optional)

1. Place lentils, stock and bay leaf in a pan and bring to the boil. Reduce heat and simmer for 20 mins or so till cooked. Remove the bayleaf and beat lentils till smooth.

2. Meanwhile saute the onion and garlic in a pan in a little oil/ghee/butter. When soft add the pepper and the spices. Gently fry for 10 mins or so.

3. Add onion mix to the lentils, mix thoroughly and serve 🙂

Yummy yummy!!

Vegetarian (or vegan!) Kedgeree

Fancied something different tonight to use up the dhal we had last night, and am in an I Love Lentils phase at the moment, so rustled up an inauthentic but very tasty veggie kedgeree. Leftovers will go down nicely for lunch tomorrow methinks.

You need:
1 onion, chopped
2 tbsp curry powder (or you can use individual spices, but hey I said it was inauthentic!)
Leftover cooked rice – about 3-4 cups
Cooked green lentils – 2 tins worth, or again about 2-3 cups
Oil/butter for frying
Hard boiled eggs (1 per person) if you don’t want to keep it vegan
Chopped corriander to serve

Saute the onion in the fat gently till it’s caramelised. Then add the curry powder and cook for a further few minutes to take out the raw taste. Add the rice and stir thoroughly. Cook for 10 mins or so until the rice is heated through. Then add the lentils and cook for a further 5 mins or so. Serve with chopped corriander to garnish it and the hardboiled eggs (if using) cut in half on the top. If you leave the yolks a little soft/runny it’s even nicer imho.

Quinoa and Lentil Burgers

I love veggie burgers (see earlier post from today!) and decided to try something different today and base a burger recipe on some delicious steamed red lentils and quinoa we had in Spain in Feb. The results were delicious and eaten by us all (unheard of) though Lex did say he preferred the raw mix to the cooked burger… The recipe has a few stages, but it makes about 12 burgers so you can freeze half for a quick weekeday supper.

Ingredients
1 cup red lentils
1 cup quinoa
2 cups water
2 tsp vegan stock powder
1 onion
2 tsp dried herbs
2 slices bread
1/2 cup oats (maybe a few more, depends on how wet the mix is)
1 tbsp soya sauce
ground pepper
1/4 cup toasted sunflower seeds
1/4 cup toasted sesame seeds

Begin by steam cooking the lentils and quinoa. Place in a lidded pan with the water and stock. Gently bring to the boil and then simmer on a very low heat for about 15 mins. Stir frequently to make sure they don’t stick to the pan. After about 15 mins the quinoa should be cooked and the lentils al dente. Turn off the heat and leave the lid on for a further 15 mins. This will finish off the cooking process.

Meanwhile blitz the onion in a food processor till pureed. Do the same to the bread. Place the breadcrumbs, onion, herbs, soya sauce, sunflower seeds and pepper into a mixing bowl along with the lentils and quinoa. Mix thoroughly. Add the oats and mix till it comes together into a dough like consistency. Add some more oats if you think it needs it. If you didn’t want the burgers to be vegan you could also add an egg here but I don’t really think it needs it tbh…

Once the burgers have been mixed, place the sesame seeds on to a shallow plate/bowl. Wet your hands and take a small handful of the mixture and shape into a burger shape. Place in the sesame seeds to cover both sides and then put on a baking sheet. Repeat with the rest of the mixture. If you want to freeze them, place in the freezer at this stage to open freeze. Otherwise place the baking sheet into a hot oven for 15 mins or so, turning over half way until toasted and warmed through.

Serve in the traditional manner – in a burger bun with ketchup, mustard and salad. We had cucumber, onions and alfafa seed mix (alfafa, radish and fenugreek). Very yummy and disgustingly healthy!

Veggie Tofu Burgers

I wanted a nice veggie burger for lunch. None of that pre-brought frozen stuff today, but rather the 1970’s in a bun – all lentils and tofu and earnest-ness so I can pretend that burgers are good for you.

The recipe I came up with was based on something posted on an internet forum:
Ingredients:
100g oats
75g flour
250g tofu
3 carrots grated
1 small onion finely chopped
1 tbsp soy sauce
1 tsp dried mixed herbs
1 tbsp sesame seeds, toasted
1 tbsp mushroom ketchup
1 tbsp hendersons relish
1 egg, beaten

Directions:

Lob everything apart from the egg into a food processor. Blitz until it’s the consistency you want (I like mine smooth to hide the scary bits from Lex!). Add the egg and mix till the mixture comes together. Sometimes you can omit the egg if it’s moist enough (or you want a vegan version)

To cook place on a lightly oiled baking tray and bake in the oven at 180C till cooked (approx 10 mins).

Serve in a bun with salad (I feel that alfafa and cucumber and raw onion are obligatory here!) and relish and sweet potato wedges on the side. Sit back in a smug haze of healthy eating induced glow…

Swede, carrot and chard curry

This is one NOT to make… I am not that keen on chard, but figure that pretty much everything tastes better when curried. Not in this case! Actually I’m diselling my curry a little. It was edible, just not that great, and certainly not something I’d want to make again. However, if you like chard maybe you’ll like this…

For the curry paste you need:
1 tsp each of:
black onion seeds
corriander seeds
mustard seeds
cumin seeds
2tsp each of:
ground corriander
tumeric
ground cumin
3 cloves garlic
1 onion, roughly chopped
1 inch fresh ginger, roughly chopped

Lightly toast the whole spices in 1 tbsp of oil until they begin to pop. Put all of the above into a mini food processor and blend till smooth. Add some water/oil if it’s not wet enough.

For the curry:
Peel and chop 1 small-ish swede into bite sized pieces
Peel and chop 3 medium carrots
Wash and destalk a packet of chard.

Heat the curry paste in a pan, and then add the swede and carrot. Sweat for a bit then add 1 tin chopped toms and about 200ml water along with 2-3 whole dried chillis (tear in half if you want the curry hotter). Bring to the boil and simmer till the veggies are al dente. Add the chard and cook for another 5 mins or so. Serve with roti and rice.

Tiramisu

I love tiramisu and have tried lots of different recipes. This one, adapted from Jamie Oliver, is my current fave and is also very quick to make.

You need:
500g mascapone (last time I made it I used 250g mascaopne and 250g quark)
2 tbsp sugar
3 tbsp khalua or other liqueur
1/2 packet sponge fingers
1/2 pint strong coffee
1/4 cup kalhua or other liqueur
2 tbsp sugar
1 tsp vanilla bean paste
cocoa powder/grated plain chocolate

Begin by making the coffee. Add 2 tbsp sugar to it and the 1/4 cup kaluha. Pour this over the sponge fingers which you have placed into a serving dish. Leave to soak into the fingers.
Mix the mascaopne with the remaining sugar, kalhua and vanilla. Beat till smooth. Spread over the sponge fingers and then top with some cocoa/grated choc. Chill till needed.

Beware making this with low fat mascaopne. It turns into tirama-soup rather than tiramisu. Tastes OK but looks pretty grim!!

Vegetable and Cheese Gratin

A winter staple, also know as “what the heck do I do with all the root veggies that were in the veg box rather than use them to make compost again?!”…

This reminds me of Sunday lunches at home when I was a child – mum would often use up the left over veg in a delicious gratin like this.

What we had:
1 cabbage
6 large carrots, roughly chopped into bite sized pieces
1 head broccoli

Steam the veggies to make them tender. Meanwhile make a mornay sauce from:
1 pint milk (I use soya milk)
2oz plain flour
2oz butter

Either make the sauce using the all in one method (lob it all into a pan and wait for the butter to melt) or use the traditional roux method. Once the sauce has thickened, add:
2 tsp english mustard powder
2 tsp french mustard
100g grated cheddar.

Add a drained can of butter beans to the mornay sauce then layer the veggies into a gratin dish. Pour over the sauce and beans and top with a little more grated cheddar and some Parmesan. You can add some breadcrumbs to it too to make it more crunchy.

Bake in a moderate oven (180 degrees) for about 20-30 mins till browned and bubbling. Serve on it’s own or with veggie sausages or just some crusty bread.

Vegetable curry, tandoori paneer and sweet lassi

OK that might sound like a veritable feast for a weeknight, but I guarantee you can make it all in 30 mins and then sit down and eat like a king!

Curry
1 tbsp oil
2 large carrots, sliced
2 onions, chopped
3 tbsp curry paste (home made or from a jar)
1 tin toms
175 ml water
2 tbsp veggie stock powder
good handful new potatoes, chopped roughly into bite sized chunks
1 head cauliflower

Start by sauteeing the onions in the oil till tender. Then lob in the curry paste, carrots and potatoes and fry for a few mins. Add the tin of toms, water and stock powder. Bring to the boil and then simmer for about 25 mins till the carrots and potatoes are cooked. Add the cauliflower after 10 mins.

Tandoori Paneer

Half a tub of natural yogurt (the runny kind!)
3 tbsp tandoori spice powder
1 packet paneer, diced.

Mix the tandoori powder with the yogurt and then add the paneer. Leave to marinate for a few mins (you can do this the night before if you want). The spread out onto a nin stick baking tray. Roast in a hot oven (200 degrees) for 20 mins.

Serve the curry and paneer with roti or rice. Wash down with sweet lassi

Sweet lassi
Half tub runny yogurt
Equivilent amount of water
Good couple of handfuls of ice
2 cardomon pods, seeds removed
4 tbsp sugar

Put everything into a blender and blend till smooth. Check for sweetness and serve 🙂