Salted Vanilla Fudge

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The introduction of condensed coconut milk is a game changer. This fudge tastes delicious but not of coconut.

For about 24 squares you need

  • 397g tin of condensed coconut milk
  • 150ml soya milk
  • 115g vegan butter
  • 450g light soft brown sugar
  • 1 tsp vanilla bean paste
  • 1-2 tsp salt flakes (to taste)
  1. Place everything apart from the salt and vanilla in a heavy based pan and heat slowly and gently. Stirring all the time to prevent it from catching you want to bring it to the soft ball stage, about 118 degrees. This will take about 45 mins. Don’t rush it!
  2. Once it has reached temperature remove the pan from the heat and add 1 tsp salt and the vanilla. Beat the fudge until it’s cooled and thickened.
  3. Scrape into a lined tin and sprinkle over the remaining salt. Leave to cool then cut into squares.
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Peppermint Creams (v)

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The usual way to make peppermint creams is to use a raw egg white. This recipe replaces that with 1 tablespoon of glycerine. They are tricky little buggers to roll out so I recommend using two sheets of baking paper to stop them from sticking. Only roll a small section at a time and cut a few at a time to help with them keeping their shape. Once they have been left to air dry for a few hours you can dip in chocolate for a more luxurious finish if you want. It is Christmas after all and these taste just like After Eights 🙂

For about 30 trees you need

  • 200g sifted icing sugar
  • 1 tbsp glycerine
  • 1 tsp peppermint extract
  • 1-2 tbsp water
  • A LITTLE green dye. Don’t use as much as I did!!!
  • 75g melted dark chocolate (optional)
  1. Place all the ingredients apart from the water in a bowl. Add enough water to make a firm but pliable dough.
  2. Roll out between sheets of baking paper and cut into shapes.
  3. Leave to dry on parchment paper and dip in chocolate if you wish.

Boozy Chocolate Christmas Pudding Truffles (v)

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Another quick and easy gift idea here. These are a little sticky to roll so don’t be afraid to just dollop them into cases if you can’t make them into round balls.

For about 30 truffles you need

  • 454g christmas pudding
  • 125g dark chocolate, melted
  • 65ml brandy
  • 40g sifted icing sugar with a little extra for dusting
  1. Crumble the pudding into a bowl and mix in the brandy. Add the melted chocolate and icing sugar and mix into a sticky dough.
  2. Leave for 5-10 mins to let the chocolate begin to set a little then with cold hands and working quickly take teaspoons of the mix and roll into balls in the palms of your hands. Place into petit four cases.
  3. Dust with icing sugar and edible glitter and leave to set. These are boozy so best not to let the kids scoff them! Father Christmas would appreciate one though I am sure!

Rose Coconut Ice (v)

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Nothing says Happy Christmas more than something homemade, so the next few posts are some simple sweet ideas that are easy to produce but will guarantee smiles from your recipient.

For about 20 squares you need

  • 250g condensed coconut milk
  • 250g sifted icing sugar
  • 1 tbsp rose water
  • 200g desiccated coconut
  1. Place everything in a bowl and mix until well combined. It will get very stiff towards the end.
  2. Press into a small (6″ x 4″) tin lined with baking paper and leave to set over night.
  3. Cut into squares and gift away or keep to yourself and scoff…

 

Lentil Roast (v)

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I love a good veggie roast. You can keep your soggy filo pastry wrapped monstrosities. Give me a nut or a lentil roast any day of the week, but especially so on a Sunday.

I’m in festive planning mode at the moment and have tweaked this recipe to deliver a tasty and satisfying addition to our planned festive platefuls on the big day. It’s also nice cold in sandwiches with cranberry sauce, leftover stuffing and chestnuts.

For 6-8 portions you need

  • 225g split red lentils
  • 425ml veg stock
  • 1 tsp dried oregano
  • 1 tsp marmite
  • 1 onion, finely diced
  • garlic pepper
  • 1 tsp dried garlic granules
  • 2 slices brown bread processed into breadcrumbs
  • juice of 1 lemon
  1. Place everything apart from the lemon juice and breadcrumbs into a pan. A non stick one is best to prevent the lentils from sticking but it’s not essential.
  2. Bring to a gentle simmer and cook for 15-20 mins until the lentils have broken down and gone lovely and soft.
  3. Add the lemon juice and breadcrumbs and mix well. Leave to cool slightly.
  4. Scrape out into a lined 1lb loaf tin and smooth the surface. Bake in a hot (180 degree) oven for 20-25 mins until lightly golden on top. Serve at once with all the usual trimmings.

Vegetable Biryani with Chapatis (v)

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I’ve been craving this for a while now, but have been reluctant to make it as I never end up with perfect rice. Determined to succeed this time, I dug deep into google and came up with two recipes that looked promising. I liked the idea of soaking the rice from this Instant Pot recipe but not the soggy veggies you usually get from pressure cooking. I also liked the idea of roasting the vegetables and cashews first to char them a little in this BBC recipe. So I combined the two and the end result was very pleasing. Woohoo.

For 4-6 portions you need

Biryani

  • 1 sweet potato, peeled and cut into small dice
  • 1 medium carrot, peeled and cut into small dice
  • 3-4 broccoli florets, cut into small pieces
  • 8 sprouts, peeled and cut in half
  • Handful cashews (about 1/2 cup)
  • 2 tbsp oil
  • salt and pepper
  • 1 onion finely chopped
  • 2 tbsp oil
  • 2″ piece of ginger, grated
  • 4 cloves garlic, chopped
  • 1 tsp each:
    • garam masala
    • ground cardamom
    • ground allspice
    • ground cumin
    • ground coriander
    • ground turmeric
    • chilli flakes
  • 1 cup basmati rice, rinsed until the water runs clear then soaked in 2 cups of water for 20 mins
  • 1.5 cups water

Chapatis

Makes 4 small chapatis

  • 70g wholemeal flour
  • 70g plain flour
  • pinch salt
  • 2 tsp olive oil
  • 90ml (or thereabouts) of warm water
  1. Begin by placing the vegetables, cashews, seasoning and oil into a large oven proof pan and roasting on 180 degrees for about 20 mins. Stir a few times but you want to let the cashews, broccoli and sprouts begin to char a little.
  2. Meanwhile, prep the rice and leave to one side.
  3. Heat the remaining oil in a pan and add the dry spices. Cook for 15-20 secs then add the onions. Sautee for 5 mins until softened. Add the ginger and garlic and cook for a further 2-3 mins.
  4. Add everything to the ovenproof pan and mix well. Cover with foil or a close fitting lid and cook for a further 20-30 mins. Once the rice is done, remove from the oven and allow to steam gently whilst you cook the chapatis.
  5. Combine all the chapati ingredients and knead into a smooth dough (about 7 mins). Be careful not to add too much water!
  6. Divide into 4 balls and roll each out on a floured surface
  7. Heat a pan until smoking hot, add a little oil and fry each chapati until cooked. You can tell when your pan is hot enough as the chapati will puff up like this when it hits the pan. Make sure you have your windows open as it will smoke a lot! We served ours with some dhal from the freezer. Delicious.

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Gnocchi (v)

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I have never made gnocchi from scratch before, only ever purchased those pre-made packages from the supermarket. I’d wrongly assumed that they would take forever and be messy and not worth the effort. How wrong I was. These took a few minutes to make, and cooked just like shop bought ones in a few mins in a pan of boiling water. The texture was lovely – really light and fluffy, not dense, heavy and disappointing like every other gnocchi I’ve eaten has been. Recipes online say use an egg, but I subbed that for 4 tbsp soya milk.

For 4-5 portions you need

  • 400g mashed potato (mine was a mix of potato and swede)
  • 200g plain flour
  • 2-3 tbsp soya milk or 1 egg if you eat them
  • salt and pepper
  • extra flour for dusting or some semolina/polenta
  1. Mix all the ingredients together to form a dough. Don’t over knead.
  2. Break into 4 tennis ball sized portions and roll each out into long sausages on a floured work surface.
  3. Cut into equal sized pieces and push the back of a fork lightly in to each piece (to help the sauce cling apparently). Dust with polenta to prevent them from sticking.
  4. I left mine to chill for 45 mins in the fridge because they took less time that I thought they would! They should be fine to cook straight away however.
  5. Bring a pan of water to the boil and then add the gnocchi one piece at a time to prevent them from sticking together. Allow to simmer and once they start to float to the surface, remove and scoff. We had ours with a quick and easy to make rich tomato and vegetable olive sauce. Really delicious!

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Lentil and Pearl Barley Root Vegetable Casserole (v)

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Every year I get a bit depressed about the end of Summer and the beginning of Autumn. But then I remember warming stews and casseroles and honking geese and I feel a bit less dejected. This casserole is a variation on one I make a lot, but for the first time I cooked it in the oven in the hope that the pearl barley and lentils wouldn’t stick to the bottom of the pan. They didn’t! I served with mashed potatoes and steamed spring greens.

For six portions you need

Casserole

  • 1 leek, sliced into 0.5″ slices
  • 2 onions, roughly chopped
  • 2 sticks celery, sliced
  • 2 carrots, cut into bite sized chunks
  • 1 small swede cut into bite sized chunks
  • 1 tbsp oil
  • 1.25l vegetable stock
  • 1/2 cup pearly barley, rinsed
  • 1/2 cup red lentils
  • 1/2 cauliflower cut into bite sized florets
  • salt and pepper to taste

Dumplings

  • 100g self raising flour
  • 50g vegetable suet
  • dried herbs
  • salt and pepper
  • cold water to mix to a dough
  1. Place all the chopped veg apart from the cauli into an oven proof casserole pan with the oil and saute, covered, for about 8 mins until the veg are starting to soften.
  2. Add the stock, lentils and pearl barley. Mix well and bring to the boil.
  3. Cover with a lid and place in a 160 degree oven for 30 mins.
  4. Make the dumplings by adding enough cold water to the mix to form a soft dough. Shape into 8 dumplings.
  5. After 30 mins, remove the pan from the oven and add the cauliflower and dumplings to the casserole. Mix the cauli in well to ensure it cooks, and place the dumplings on top of the casserole. Cover with the lid and return to the oven for a further 25 mins.
  6. Season to taste and serve with veg of your choice and pickled red cabbage if you’re feeling particularly northern!

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Cashew and Vegetable Stir Fry with Miso Sauce (v)

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We’ve been on holiday for a week and eaten out every night. Whilst that was lovely, my body was craving something not deep fried and actual vegetables now we are home. I have an open jar of miso paste in the fridge that needed using up so this stir fry was created. Savoury, filling and nutritious it certainly hit the spot.

For three portions you need

Vegetables

  • 1 tbsp oil
  • Small handful cashews
  • 1 carrot, peeled and sliced
  • Handful broccoli cut into small florets
  • Handful cauliflower cut into small florets
  • 1 leek, trimmed and sliced into 0.5cm slices
  • A little water
  • Rice/quinoa to serve with the stir fry

Sauce

  • 3 tsp miso paste
  • 3 tbsp soya sauce
  • 2 tbsp mirin
  • 2 tbsp rice vinegar
  • 2 cloves garlic, finely chopped
  • A little water
  1. Heat the oil in a wok and toast the cashews, ensuring they don’t burn.
  2. Add the carrots, broccoli, cauli and a splash of water. Cover with a lid to help them steam. Cook for 2-3 mins.
  3. Meanwhile cook the rice/quinoa and make the sauce by combining all the sauce ingredients in a jar, stirring well to mix in the miso paste.
  4. Add the leeks and miso sauce. Keep covered and cook for a further 5 mins or so until the vegetables are done to your liking (I like mine quite al dente).
  5. Serve and feel super smug.

Thai Sweet Potato Soup (v)

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I like soup. We eat a lot of soup. The teen will still eat things as soup he wouldn’t eat as separate components, and this soup is a good example of that. He won’t eat Thai red curry or coconut milk. But he will eat this, go figure…

For 6 portions you need

  • 1 tbsp sunflower oil
  • 2 onions, roughly chopped
  • 2 cloves garlic, roughly chopped
  • 1″ piece of ginger, roughly chopped
  • 3 tsp red curry paste (make sure it has no fish sauce in it if you’re veggie/vegan)
  • 750g peeled and diced sweet potatoes
  • If you want to increase the heat, then add a couple of extra thai chillies, roughly chopped
  • 750ml veg stock
  • 400ml can coconut milk
  • Juice of two limes
  • Small bunch of fresh coriander
  1. Begin by frying the onion in the oil for about 5 mins till softened.
  2. Add the garlic, ginger and curry paste. Stir for 2-3 mins.
  3. Add the potatoes and cover in the spice paste for 1-2 mins.
  4. Add the coconut milk, stock, chillies and bring to the boil. Reduce to a gentle simmer and cook for about 10 mins until the potatoes are soft.
  5. Add the coriander and the blitz the soup using a stick blender until smooth.
  6. Stir through the lime juice and adjust the seasoning to taste. Serve.