Scallion Soda Bread (Gluten Free)

Happy St Patrick’s Day! or ‘Lá Fhéile Pádraig Sona Daoibh!’

So a traditional Irish recipe is in order I think.  This soda bread is gluten free (of course) and flavoured with spring onions, or scallions as I keep being corrected. I didn’t have any buttermilk for this recipe so I’ve made my own version combining yoghurt and milk which works just as well and may even be a bit thriftier.

If you are looking for other Irish food inspiration then you could try these delicious gluten free potato farls here, otherwise…

Ingredients:

  • 1lb of Doves Gluten Free White Bread Flour
  • 2 eggs, topped up to 12fl oz with half yoghurt and half whole milk
  • 6 spring onions scallion, sliced finely
  • 1 teaspoon of salt
  • 1/2 oz of sugar
  •  1 oz of bicarbonate soda
  • 2 oz of butter

Method:

Pre-heat the oven to 200 degrees (fan) and oil a baking tray.

Mix all the dry ingredients in a large bowl and rub in the butter. Add the spring onions and mix.   Whisk up the egg, yoghurt and milk mixture then stir into the dry ingredients.  Turn out the dough onto a well floured board, the mix will be quite sticky so be generous with your dusting.  Knead the mix for a couple of minutes then form in to a large ball and plop onto the oiled tray.  Cut a deep (over half way) cross through the centre, brush with milk and dust with flour.

Bake in the oven for about 30/40 minutes, until golden and hollow sounding when you knock its bottom.

Serve with butter, cheese and chutney for tea or toasted the next day for breakfast.

‘Tabhair dom an rud céanna mar atá ag an fhear ar an t-úrlar!’ – translations sourced here.

Sultana Scones (Gluten Free)

One of my earliest memories of cooking is making scones at nursery in Scotland, my memory is pretty hazy as the recollection seems to have me measure and mix these little cream tea beauties with no help at all, what I do remember is planning to make sweet scones and ending up with cheese but whatevs, it’s the thought that counts.  I’ve been thinking a lot about scones and Welsh cakes recently, I think I was inspired by LondonEats recipe here.  It made me remember another episode from childhood when visiting my grandparents in Cardigan, watching my Step Gran making them on the  griddle and  serving them up warm with butter and jam mmmmm, just thinking about them is making me dribble so I’ll definitely have to make a gluten free version soon.  Anyways onto the scones, I think I’d forgotten how easy these are to whip up, but simple they are and best eaten on the day or frozen to keep fresh.  These gluten free ones are quite crumbly but just as delicious and can easily be adapted to make plain scones or cheese ones by swapping in and out some ingredients (I don’t need to spell it out to you do I?)

Makes about 6

Ingredients:

  • 8oz of gluten free self raising flour
  • 2 oz of butter
  • 2 oz sugar
  • 1 egg
  • milk (I explain the measurement below)
  • A big handful of sultanas

Method:

Pre-heat the oven to 200 degrees (fan).

Rub the butter into the flour in a large bowl.  Mix in the sultanas. Crack an egg into a measuring jug add the sugar and then top up with milk until it reaches the 5 fluid oz mark.  Whip the egg and milk mixture together then add to the dry ingredients.  Stir together then get your hands in to form into a ball.  Flour a board and plop out and flatten so that your mixture is about 2/3 cm thick.  Cut out rounds with a cutter (in an ideal world) or in my world a small mug.  Place on a baking tray lined with parchment, brush with egg wash (not essential) and bake in the oven for about 15 min until golden.

Serve warm with lashings (love that word) of butter, jam and, go on then, a big fat dollop of cream.

Chai Kheer with Spiced Plum Compote

I’ve made Kheer before and posted it here but this time I wanted to add another element.  I’m a big fan of Chai, I drink it every morning and somehow feel a little short changed when I have to settle for regular tea at work.  I drink it sweetened with milk and love that early morning cuddle it provides as I blearily get my self ready for the day ahead.   I’ve even got my 3 year old hooked on the stuff, I’m not saying I dole it out in beakers or anything but she always, always asks to have a sip and by that she means finish the mug, so I’ve learnt to share, or at least put the kettle on for another.

If you didn’t already know, Kheer is an Indian rice pudding made with basmati rice and flavoured with cardamom, more likely to be served cold it makes a lovely sweet creamy ending to meal, or whenever, in fact the last lot I made got gobbled up eagerly for breakfast one morning.

I bought some beautiful British purpley pink Oval plums in the greengrocer the other day and that settled it, as delicious as they were raw they made a lipsmacking compote that cuts through the creamy sweetness of the Kheer and makes a perfect companion.

Serves 2/3

Ingredients:

  • 1 pint of whole milk
  • 1 tablespoon of basmati rice
  • 1 tablespoon of sugar
  • 3 cardamom pods, lightly crushed
  • 2 Chai teabags

For the compote:

  • 8 Oval plums (or plums of your choice)

    Spiced Plum Compote

  • 1/4 teaspoon of cinnamon
  • 1 dessert spoonful of agave syrup (or sugar/honey)

Method:

Heat the milk in a sauce pan until just coming up to simmer.  Add cardamom, teabags and rice.  Simmer gently for about 45 min until the milk has reduced by half.

Whilst the rice is cooking make the compote.  Slice the plums into quarters, add to a small hot sauce pan with the cinnamon and syrup and cook until the plums soften slightly.

Once the Kheer is ready leave to cool.  It is at it’s best served luke warm or room temperature with a dollop of compote in the middle.

The Chai Kheer also works well on it’s own or with a garnish of chopped pistachios and the compote is a great instant pudding mixed with yoghurt, cream or served warm on ice cream, mmm I’m hungry now, are you?

Iced Banana Espresso Pick Me Up

Hello there, I’ve been a bit slack lately haven’t I? It was my last week at work last week before the summer holidays (yay!) and, typically, I suddenly realised as it kicked in on Monday that I had shed loads still to do so I ws busy getting stuff together and packing for my 3rd office move in 2 1/2 years(!). At the weekend I attended a very interesting conference come residential training course and have since been pottering about and trying to entertain my 3 year old daughter. We went to Brighton yesterday, I really love it there and they have the best play area by the beach so the little lady was more than entertained with that, the beach and running down the promenade at top speed. Here a few pictures of the day:

Priya and Megan throwing stones into the sea

The old pier

Forget Zumba try walking up and down these for an hour, thighs of steel I tell you!

After getting back we were cream crackered, there is something about the sea air and trekking round and up and down the hills and pebbly beaches of Brighton that makes you realise how incredibly unfit you are, my thighs are literally aching today after dragging the push chair through the pebbles and pushing it arduously up the hill back to the station. Anyway we were a bit unlucky with our choices of food and drink that day and towards the end of the afternoon I really fancied a proper milkshake, so we went into what looked like a reputable establishment amongst the Lanes and ordered said milkshake. After reading the claims of ‘mixed with homemade ice cream’ I had somewhat got my hopes up that this would be a thick flavoursome affair but unfortunately I was sadly disappointed by the syrup based, watery, sweet milk drink that arrived. But I was not deterred, I would, by the end of the day, find or make my ultimate milk pick me up and that I did! I became a little obsessed last summer with those frozen mocha coffee drinks all the big chains do but after realising they were practically the sum total of my expected calorie intake of a day and then getting that post caffeine sugar slump I decided it was best I cut back on these icy delights. So to compensate and as a little treat (this can be naughty) I concocted my own rather healthier and far, far tastier iced coffee drink. If you’ve been with me for a while you will have read one of my first very simple recipes for an ice cream like banana milkshake (the secret – frozen banana) so this is an extension of that technique with or without the optional (perhaps depending on the time of day you wish to drink this) slosh of Kahlua.

mmmm...

Serves 2

Ingredients:

2 frozen bananas (this is a great way to use up bananas that are starting to brown, chop them up into chunky slices, bag and chuck in the freezer then next time you fancy a rather virtuous treat, you have the main ingredient to hand and no waste!)

Half a pint of milk (you choose your fat level, skimmed works and is healthy but if you fancy a more full on creamy sensation then whack up the fat content and go full fat)

2 espressos, I use Percol, it’s instant but very good

A squirt, or maybe 2 of agave syrup, failing that golden, honey or sugar – I like the idea that I’m being semi healthy with the agave (plus this is the stuff they make tequila from!)

A capful of vanilla extract

A couple of measures of Kahlua (optional)

Method:

Whizz all the ingredients in a blender. Serve in glasses of your choice or a mug like I used this afternoon in my non alcoholic version ( no ones looking you know). Grate some chocolate on top if you are feeling fancy and drink or spoon down your throat whilst smugly thinking how fantastically good this is for you. This drink not only gives you one of your five a day, it gives you a good caffeine kick, has calcium in it, the banana adds fibre and prevents that post caffeine slump AND if you use agave its sugar free. What more could you want? Make one NOW!!!

p.s. if you want to halve the recipe and make enough for one, go on you’re worth it, then it might be advisable to let the espresso cool for while so that it doesn’t melt your drink too much, I found with 2 bananas it is fine but with one you can end up losing the ice cream finish so just wait a little while yeah?

Cardamom and Cinnamon Kulfi Lollies

As promised, here is that lovely Kulfi recipe I mentioned a few days ago.  This recipe was very kindly donated to me by my friend Reshma’s mother.  I used some pretty nifty little rocket lolly moulds from the legendary Poundland! This amount of mixture made enough to make 12 mini lollies.

Ingredients:

1 small tub of double cream

1/2 tin of evaporated milk

1/2 pint of milk

6 cardamom pods, crushed

1 stick of cinnamon

Sugar to taste

Method:

Heat the milk and cream together in a saucepan with the spices.  When it comes up to the simmer, take off the heat and add sugar, probably about 3 tablespoons.  Stir and leave to cool.  Then pour into lolly moulds and freeze.

Chocolate and Cardamon Custard Pots

This is a combination I spotted in my new purchase the ‘Flavour Thesaurus’ by Niki Segnit, my current bedtime read, I hope to blog more about it soon.  I had once tried some delicious cardamon milk chocolate and wanted to make something custard based as a dessert so I had a go at experimenting and out came this.  The result adds a gently fragranced characteristic to a smooth chocolate custard which forms a very pleasant end to a meal. 

This makes about 2 and half little ramekins worth so double the quantities if you need more.

Ingredients:

1/2 Pint of whole milk

4 cardamon pods

50g of dark chocolate

2 dessert spoons of sugar

a teaspoon of cornflour

2 egg yolks

Method:

Mix the egg yolks, cornflour and sugar in a bowl.  Heat the milk with the crushed (or split) cardamon pods gently until hot, you don’t want it to boil.  Add the hot milk to the egg yolk mix and whisk together then return to the pan and heat very gently stirring continually.  Keep going, be very gentle with the heat as you don’t want scrambled eggs, then take off the heat once thickened.  Add broken up chocolate and stir.  Pour into little bowls or ramekins and then chill thoroughly in the fridge.  Clearly any wastage is up to you to dispose of as you will, but lets just say there is plenty of opportunity for licking the spoon and scraping the pot!

Rhubarb Rhubarb

I love rhubarb, I love the word rhubarb, I love the colour of rhubarb, I love the taste of rhubarb.

"rhubarb, rhubarb, rhubarb, rhubarb"

In memory of my one of my favourite childhood cartoons I was going to make Rhubarb and Custard but in the end I just made a compote.  However, this would work really well with custard, cream, panacotta, all sorts of things really.  I ate some last night with some pan fried mackerel fillets and some sauteed potatoes.  I also then snaffled some up warm with ice cream and today I think i might make a little fool out of the remaining compote, some cream, vanilla and a little sugar.

This compote is super easy to make and as you can see from above goes with lots and lots of different things.

Rhubarb and Ginger Compote:

Rhubarb, cut into short sticks

Sugar

Stem ginger, about one nugget chopped finely and a slurp of the syrup from the jar

Juice of an orange, I used a very lovely blood orange from my local green grocers but any will do

Method:

Pop all the ingredients in a pan and cook gently until Rhubarb is tender but not completely collapsed.   Sugar wise, I shook some in from the jar, rhubarb can take quite a lot so taste as you go, you can add more at the end so keep trying and you’ll find your perfect balance.

Serve warm as a dessert with custard, french toast, cold with panacotta, mixed with youghurt, cream or as a sweet and sour element to a nice bit of mackerel as described above.