potato samosa with spicy mango chutney

24th March 2024

I grew up in a small town in North Queensland called Home Hill. Home Hill is a sugar cane growing area; the surrounding sugar cane fields were our playground. In the burning season, when the farmers would light up the fires at dusk, the flames would reach meters high – there was something very entrancing and beautiful about it! Your first sight of a sugar cane fire is hard to forget; it’s a sight, and the smell is intrinsically North Queensland. As the cane burns, ash gets blown throughout the towns of the Burdekin. It is known as ‘black snow’, and as children, we would run around trying to catch the long black strands before they fell to the ground, keeping them intact to see who could catch the longest strand. My dad grew up cutting cane as a young man, it was very demanding work, but the pay was good, ultimately enabling him to marry and purchase his shop. 

To cross over from Home Hill to the bigger town of Ayr, we had to cross the Burdekin Bridge, a long bridge running over the Burdekin River. The Burdekin Bridge, also known as the Silver Link – is one of the longest multi-span bridges in Australia. As a child, I remember how the river would overflow in the rainy season, flooding the shops and the main street of Home Hill. The river would flow fast and wild, swirling below when you drove over it. At a later stage, a dam was built. I spent my childhood swimming in that river with my school friends despite having more than one crocodile sighting!

Ayr, in all honesty, wasn’t much more extensive than Home Hill, but its main street was more prominent and had much more exciting shops. When my mother had to run errands that could not be fulfilled in Home Hill, we would drive over that bridge into Ayr. For a young child, this was always an adventure! Despite the boring shopping part, I would happily tag along to stay behind in the car with a freshly baked savoury pastie from the local bakery.

This brings me to this recipe!

Each time I make these samosas, my whole being is whisked away to that moment of biting into one of those warm, flaky, buttery-filled, savoury pasties. 

I often crave savoury pastries, which are impossible to find without meat, onion, or garlic. These samosa always satisfy that craving and are a perfect entertaining food, receiving lots of ohs and ahs when bringing them out. They are very quick and easy to make. Once baked, the crackling layers of pastry contrast with the tender potato filling, and the spicy mango chutney is a match made in heaven.

potato samosa

preparation 1 hour ~ baking 30-40 minutes ~ makes 16 pieces

ingredients 

1 packet/250g rectangular-store-bought puff pastry

filling

360g/ 5 medium potatoes, peeled and cut in half

3 Tbsp/30g melted ghee

½ heaped tsp cumin seeds

¼ heaped tsp curry powder

3 Tbsp frozen green peas

¼ heaped tsp fine rock salt

vegan eggwash

1 Tbsp non-dairy milk

2 tsp maple syrup

3 Tbsp sesame seeds, for garnish

to serve

mango chutney (recipe follows)

preparation

1. Place water and potatoes in a saucepan; bring to a boil and simmer until soft—approximately 15 minutes. Drain and set aside.

2.  Heat the ghee in a skillet, add the cumin seeds and fry for a few seconds. Add the curry powder and peas and fry for one minute, then add the potatoes, season with salt, mix well, turn off the heat, and mash with a potato masher until smooth. Allow the mixture to cool for 15 minutes.

vegan eggwash

3. Mix the non-dairy milk and maple syrup in a small bowl. Set aside.

assemble

4.  Roll out the puff pastry and divide it into two parts by slicing it down the centre – parallel to the longer side. Lift and separate each piece. 

5.  Divide the potato filling and arrange it in a sausage-like shape on the bottom of each of the pieces of pastry, leaving a 2 cm space at the near edge. Brush the near pastry edge with vegan eggwash, then roll the pastry over to encase the filling tightly, pressing with your finger and rolling the edge up again to seal with the tines of a fork.

6. Place the rolls on a prepared baking sheet and refrigerate or freeze for 10 minutes to firm up, then move them back to the work surface. Brush the rolls with vegan egg wash, sprinkle with sesame seeds, and cut each roll into eight portions, slashing decoratively (optional). Arrange the pieces on the baking sheet with a bit of room in between. Refrigerate until ready to bake.

7.  Preheat the oven to 200C/400F oven and bake for 30 minutes, until deeply golden. Eat straight away with the mango chutney.

mango chutney

I make this quick and easy chutney when I see green mangoes in the stores. It can also be made with barely ripe mangoes also. The greener the fruit, the sourer the taste will be. Balance the amount of sugar accordingly.

preparation 15 minutes

makes about 1 cup

ingredients 

1 medium-large/350g green mangoes (half-ripe, green outside and light yellow inside)

1 Tbsp peanut or coconut oil

¼ tsp mustard seeds

tsp asafoetida powder

¼ tsp turmeric powder

1 heaped tsp rasam powder (moderately spiced)

½ tsp fine rock salt

2 heaped tsp jaggery/brown sugar (depending on the sweetness of your mangos)

preparation 

1.  Peel the mango and cut into tiny cubes. Set aside.

2.  In a heavy-based saucepan, add oil and mustard seeds; when they turn grey and pop, add the asafoetida – fry for 20 seconds, then add the turmeric and mango, and saute until the mango becomes soft, adding water when it starts to stick – cover and simmer for about 8-10 minutes.

3.  Turn off the heat and add salt, jaggery, and rasam powder. Taste and add more jaggery or salt if necessary. Puree half the mixture with a hand-immersion blender, if necessary.

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porridge sourdough & raisin rye variation

4th October 2023

A sourdough journey…

I am just starting on this path of bread making, so my knowledge is basic, and with each loaf of bread, I am still learning and experimenting. The joy and accomplishment felt when you pull a freshly baked loaf of bread out of the oven to feed your loved ones is immense.

This recipe takes into account that you have a sourdough starter already sitting in your fridge waiting to feed and bloom. If you don’t, many wonderful books and blogs will take you through this process. You can also ask around; you probably know someone who has one, or if you live in Portugal, I am delighted to offer you some of my own.

This is my favourite bread recipe; the porridge mixture gives the bread a custardy crumb, which is exceptional! The recipe evolved from the porridge bread served at the ‘Spring’ restaurant in London and has been baked and baked until I successfully achieved a loaf similar to theirs.

Here are a few tools and tips before starting your loaf of bread:

tools

  • Necessary – a big mixing bowl, tea towels, electronic scale, Dutch oven (size 22), sharp knife or razor blade, sturdy oven mitts.
  • Ideal but unnecessary – I use a round 20cm x 8cm proofing basket. (You can use a colander lined with a tea towel inside, but a proofing basket has a special shape and material that allows more air in), dough scraper (handy when shaping the dough.)

ingredients

  • Bread flour or baker’s flour – you can bake with pizza flour, wholemeal flour, spelt, rye flour – any flour with at least 10g of protein per 100g; you can check by looking at the bag.
  • Sourdough leaven (starter), sometimes called sourdough, is a form of natural yeast that you have to keep alive in liquid form (as opposed to dry yeast, which you can keep in powdered form.) It makes your bread rise and gives it its nice sourdough flavour. The starter is the most important part of the bread. See below as to how to maintain it. Test the starter by adding a spoon to a cup of warm, tepid water – if it floats, it is ready to go.
  • Rice flour is an excellent non-stick flour for shaping and dusting the basket. It doesn’t become sticky like regular flour, making it easy to work with, and it doesn’t turn black in the oven.
  • Different types of flours to bake with – you can start with just your regular bread flour, but it’s gratifying to try out baking with different types of flours, e.g. wholemeal, rye, and spelt and see how the bread changes which ones you like the flavour of. I love spelt because it tastes better and is a flavourful grain! It’s a good idea to start using a majority (at least 60%) of baker’s flour and then add other types.
  • Salt – I use rock salt in all my baking, based on Ayurvedic principles. It’s important not to add salt until after an auto-lapsed/hydrated period (this is the first step when you add the water, leaven and flour.)

feeding your starter:

I keep my starter in the fridge. I do this as a security measure if I forget to save some aside. The day before I bake, I take what I need from the starter, feed it and place the remaining back in the fridge. I don’t bake bread daily, so I don’t want to feed it constantly, and there is much less waste. Because my starter has been in the fridge, I try to give it two feeds before I use it. I usually take it out the night before, discard some and feed it again for bread-making below.

Above, left is the starter just feed, next is after 2 hours, then 4 hours and lastly, 6 hours, bubbly and ready to use. I have also used it after 4 hours. The bread isn’t as good as a starter after 6, but it still makes a great loaf.

Drop a spoonful into a bowl of room-temperature water to test the starter’s readiness. If it sinks, it is not ready and needs more ripening time. When it floats on the surface or close to it, it’s ready to make the dough.

If you see that the starter has risen and has started to go back down, it has fermented too long and reached its peak, then started to deflate. I don’t suggest using it; instead, discard leaving 10-20g, then feed it 50g flour and 50g water. I live in a relatively cool climate, even in Summer, so these times could be different in your place.

This is my routine that works well. I make a loaf once a week (these times could change in the summer season.)

  • I take my starter (sourdough leaven) from the fridge in the evening, just before bed, around 9.00 pm, the day before I intend to bake. Measure out 40g (Important – feed the leftover starter, replace it in the fridge); feed the measured starter – 1:3:3 (40g+120g flour+120g water.) Allow it to sit overnight; the 1:3:3 ratio gives it a good feed for that period, and it doesn’t run out of food and collapse.
  • Usually, by the morning 7.00 am, it is active and ready to go. With this active starter (even if it has deflated), I make a lemon sourdough pound cake or the most delicious savoury pancakes, keeping aside 10-25g or whatever is left in the jar (for making a loaf of bread), which I then feed – 1:2:2 (25g+50g flour+50g water.) Set aside and ferment for another four – six hours or until doubled or tripled in size. Usually, by 1.00 pm, it’s ready to use.
porridge sourdough 

Makes one medium loaf

preparing the dough – approx 4 – 7 hours

overnight in the fridge – 12 – 16 hours

baking – 40 minutes

dough

300g warm water

100g sourdough starter, well-fed, bubbly and ready to use

1 Tbsp/10g olive or rapeseed oil

80g wholegrain spelt flour

420g white spelt flour

12g fine rock salt

porridge mixture

40g rolled oats or barley flakes + 10g linseeds + 200g boiling water

~

a sprinkling of sesame seeds or oats, optional 

rice flour for dusting

porridge

1. Add the oats and linseed in a small saucepan, then pour in the hot water and allow to sit for 15-30 minutes. Cook over medium heat for 5 – 10 mins, remove from heat and allow to cool down.* 

sourdough

2. Weigh 300g of warm water into a large bowl. Add 100g of your starter. Stir briefly to combine, and add the oil and flour. Give it a good stir until no dry patches remain, then cover it with a plastic bag or a damp cloth and leave for 40 minutes to autolyse/hydrate.

3. Add the salt; use your hand to thoroughly scrunch and mix the dough until everything is evenly distributed.

4.  Bulk rise: Cover the bowl again and let the dough rise in a warm place for around 3-4 hours until doubled in size. During this time, with wet hands, every 30 minutes, turn and fold – reach down, lift up one side and then stretch it up and over the ball of dough to reach the other side, where you can press the end down gently so it stays put. Repeat all the way around the dough.

*Add 190g of the cooled porridge mixture after the first two series of turns, about 1 hour into the bulk rise.

As time progresses, the dough should become puffier, lighter, smoother, stronger and easier to handle.

5. After the dough has risen sufficiently, turn it out onto a lightly oiled/floured work surface and shape it into a boule by making a series of folds (same as before, using as little flour as possible) to create a smooth, taut surface on the underside. Sometimes, my dough is a gooey mess, and I fold the best I can. This is why I usually use an oiled surface; even though it is a gooey dough, the result still bakes up into exceptional bread.

6. Heavily flour (rice flour), a large round proving basket (or large colander, or bowl lined with a tea towel.) Optional: Sprinkle sesame seeds or oats on the counter and gently roll the dough into them before transferring to the basket, seam-side up. If the seams are gaping, pinch them closed. The dough should fill half the basket.

7. Cover again and let prove in the fridge for 12 – 16 hours. It could rise to more or less fill the basket. If it hasn’t quite done that, don’t worry – it will rise further in the oven.

8. Bring the dough out of the fridge, and set aside on the counter. Put your empty lidded casserole in the oven and heat the oven to 250C/480F (or as hot as it will go.) Wait 40 minutes for the pot to get really hot. Then, carefully tip the dough into the hot pot with its round, smooth side on top. Slash the top a few times with a sharp blade. Immediately replace the lid and return the pot to the oven.

9. Bake for 35 minutes. Then remove the lid, turn down the heat to 230C/446F and continue baking for a further 8 minutes or until the crust is a rich brown. Cool completely (this is important!) on a wire rack before cutting. The loaf will keep for three days in linen or paper bags. Using plastic makes the crust soft.

raisin rye variation

Follow the recipe above; replace the oats with 40g rye flakes + 10g linseed. Soak 1 cup/125g raisins for 30 minutes, drain and set aside. Add the raisins and rye-porridge mix, plus 1/4 tsp cinnamon powder and 1/8 tsp cardamom powder (optional), after the first two series of turns, about an hour into the bulk rise.

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early autumn zucchini and bean soup

22nd September 2023

As the summer ends and we move into Autumn, the beans get bigger, and the last of the zucchini need to be used. It is at this stage in the garden I make soups.

I add the podded white beans to dal, kichadi, rasam and bisi bele bath; they give warmth and heartiness to the body in the cooler weather. The pesto is optional; it adds an interesting depth to the soup.

Note to self, next time cut the zucchini into rounds!

Early Autumn Zucchini and Bean Soup

serves 2 – 3

preparation 1 hour plus 15 mins

ingredients

2 Tbsp ghee

½ cup/70g chopped celery

1 bay leaf

1 Tbsp finely chopped fresh rosemary

1 large twig of thyme

1 medium/145g zucchini, chopped into rounds 

1 cup/150g white bean pods (picked from the garden )

2 medium/180g potatoes, chopped

finely grated zest of one lemon

5 cups water

1 tsp fine rock salt

½ tsp freshly ground pepper

to serve, steamed kale leaves and basil and dill pesto

preparation

1.  Place a large pan over medium heat and add the ghee. When it is hot, add the celery, bay leaf, thyme and rosemary. Allow to sizzle for a few minutes; add the zucchini, beans, potatoes and zest.

2.  Bring up to a boil, turn down the heat, simmer uncovered for 20 minutes, then cover and simmer for another 30 minutes, stirring occasionally, to help the zucchinis break down.

3. Once soft, use a potato masher to crush some of the beans and zucchini. This gives the soup a beautiful texture.

4. Continue to cook for 5 mins, then season with salt and pepper.

5. Place steamed kale and a dollop of pesto in the bottom of a bowl, drizzle with ghee, and then spoon in some soup. Serve with warm sourdough buttered bread.

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exceptional lime cheesecake (vegan)

28th July 2023

As requested!

This recipe is satisfyingly creamy but ever so light and refreshing. It has a crunchy biscuit base, the softest, creamiest vanilla lime filling and is topped with a perfect balance of sweet and tangy lime curd.

The original recipe can be found here, where you can find step-by-step photos, tips and more inspiration.

This cheesecake is exceptional!

I altered it slightly by increasing the biscuit quantity and adding ginger powder to the base (my biscuits were not so gingery). I increased the maple syrup, bringing it up to 1/4 cup. 

notes

  • First step: Soak your cashews before making the lime curd.
  • Zest before you juice. Avoid zesting the white pith, as this can taste bitter.  I used 12 – 14 small key limes; if using Persian Limes, you only need 5 – 6.
  • Bump up the vibrance in the lime curd by adding a pinch of matcha powder and turmeric powder.
  • Vegan butter: Make sure you use vegan block-style butter, not spreadable. I use the VioLife brand for both the butter and cream cheese.

.

Easy Lime Curd

The lime curd makes more than the required amount. The remaining can be stored in the fridge for up to five days or freezer for five months. For a runner consistency, warm over low heat while stirring.

Necessary: Use fresh limes ONLY; store-bought bottled juice will not work in this recipe.

ingredients

300g/ 1½ cups lime juice, freshly squeezed (approx. 12 small key limes)
2 Tbsp lime zest
110g non-dairy milk, e.g. oat or almond milk
180g granulated sugar
40g cornstarch
45g vegan butter, stick butter (not margarine)

preparation

1.  Zest and juice the limes.

2.  Add the sugar and cornstarch to a saucepan and whisk out any lumps. Add the non-dairy milk and whisk until you have a smooth, thin paste. Then add the lime juice and zest and whisk again to combine.

3. Place the saucepan on medium heat and bring to a gentle simmer. Turn down the heat to low and cook for 8 minutes while stirring to prevent the mixture from sticking to the pan. The mixture will thicken and should coat the back of the spatula/spoon.

4.  Remove the saucepan from the heat and stir in the vegan butter until completely melted and a smooth curd. Pass the mixture through a fine-mesh sieve to remove any lumps and zest, then set aside to cool while you make the cheesecake.

If you prepare a day in advance, transfer the curd to an airtight jar and refrigerate until ready. The curd will thicken in the fridge, so you can gently heat and melt it in a saucepan anytime you need a runnier curd consistency.

no bake vegan lime cheesecake

makes one 9-inch loaf pan

serves 8 portions

equipment – high-speed blender 

preparation time 30 mins – chilling time 5 hours 30 mins

.

make-ahead

1 batch vegan lime curd

biscuit crust

170g ginger or digestive biscuits

50g unsalted vegan butter (block-style)

1 tsp ground ginger powder

½ tsp fine rock salt

cream cheese filling

120g/⅓ cup lime curd

150g/ approx. 1 cup plus 2 Tbsp cashews, soaked in hot water for 30 mins

200g vegan cream cheese (VioLife)

80g vegan Greek-style yoghurt or vegan Skyr

30g coconut oil

12g/1 Tbsp lime zest, freshly grated

26g/2 Tbsp lime juice, freshly squeezed

1 tsp vanilla bean paste or 1 Tbsp vanilla extract

70g/¼ cup agave or maple syrup

pre-preparation

1.  Quick-soak the cashews in boiling water for 30 mins – 1 hour. Line the base and sides of a 9-inch loaf pan with parchment paper. Leave some overhang to help lift the set cheesecake out of the tin.

biscuit crust

2.  Add the cookies, salt and ginger powder to a food processor and blitz for 1 minute. (If you don’t have a food processor, place the biscuits in a plastic bag and bash them into crumbs). Add the butter and blend until the mixture sticks between your fingers.

3.  Press the crust into the base of the pan and smooth it down with your fingers or spoon – make sure it is compact. Place in the fridge while you make the filling.

cream cheese filling

4.  Add the filling ingredients to a high-speed blender. Blitz until smooth and creamy and without lumps. Pour the filling into the pan and refrigerate for 2 – 3 hours until set.

lime curd topping

5.   Add the cooled lime curd on top of the set cheesecake, smoothing it out with the back of a spoon. Refrigerate for 2 – 3 hours (or overnight) until set.

Serving and storage: Once set, run your knife under boiling water and wipe after every cut with a paper towel. This will give you sharp, professional-looking slices.

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a soothing broth and vegetable palya in one dish

15th May 2022

The liquid from the cooked dal is used as a soothing broth, while the drained and cooked dal is seasoned into a vibrant green palya. The broth is a soothing treat, with the addition of lemon juice and pepper. If you are feeling slightly under the weather, this broth is heavenly.

tips

  • Toor dal can be found in any Indian supermarket. I use a brand which I buy in Portugal, it is smaller and more polished with a quick cooking time. The toor dal variety purchased from the Indian store takes a much longer time to soften. With this in mind, you may need to experiment and cook the dals separately until you are familiar with each of their individual cooking times, or pre-soak the toor dal and cook together for 30 minutes, adding more water as needed. You don’t want the dal to be mushy, but rather hold its shape.
  • For quick preparation, the vegetables can be added to the simmering dal. I like to cook them separately to keep the vegetables vibrant.

a soothing broth and vegetable palya from one dish

preparation – 40 minutes

palya serves – 3 persons

broth serves – 2 cups

Recipe adapted from ‘Mysore Style Cooking’ by V. Sandhya

ingredients

¼ cup/50g whole moong dal

¼ cup/50g toor dal 

5 cups/1.4 litres water

1 flat tsp fine rock salt

voggarane

1 Tbsp ghee/peanut oil

½ heaped tsp black mustard seeds

⅛ tsp asafoetida

1 heaped tsp cumin seeds

1 fresh red/ green chilli, seeds removed, roughly chopped

8-10 fresh curry leaves

⅛ heaped tsp turmeric powder

1 ½ cups/200g green beans, finely chopped 

¼ cup/50g water, more as needed

1 bunch /50g dill, finely chopped stems and all

2 Tbsp dried/freshly grated coconut

2 Tbsp lemon juice, plus more for the broth

preparation 

1.  Cook the dal: In a pot, place the rinsed moong dal and water, bring to boil, turn down the heat, then simmer rapidly, uncovered for 18 minutes, add the rinsed toor dal and simmer for a further 10 mins, or until they just become soft, but still hold their shape. As mentioned above depending on the variety of toor dal, you may need to cook both dals together for 30 minutes or experiment separately until you are familiar with each of their individual cooking times.

2.  Add salt to taste, then drain the broth from the cooked dals and set both broth and dal aside.

3.  Prepare the voggarane: Heat ghee in a pan, add the mustard seeds; when the seeds start to pop and splutter, add asafoetida, cumin and chilli – fry until fragrant, then add the curry leaves and turmeric – fry few seconds. Add the beans, stir to combine with the spices. Pour in the water and simmer until the beans are cooked and the water has evaporated –  approx 4 – 5 minutes, you may need to add more water 1 tablespoon at a time.

4.  Turn off the heat, add the dill – mix well until combined with the spices and slightly wilted, add the cooked dal, coconut and lemon juice. Stir to combine, taste adding more salt and lemon, then transfer to a serving bowl. Serve with rice and drizzle with ghee.

5. To the remaining broth, add ⅛ tsp freshly ground pepper and 1 Tbsp lemon juice, taste adding more salt and lemon, as needed.

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raspberry crumb sourdough muffins (vegan & GF)

15th April 2022

Streusel crumb topping is a wonderful way to elevate any cake or pastry by adding a layer of crunch. I love adding it to muffins, tarts, or any cake. This streusel recipe is from Aran Goyoaga’s new book ‘Cannelle et Vanille BAKES SIMPLE.’

The streusel recipe makes much more than you need. Freeze the remaining; Sprinkle it on a baking sheet lined with baking paper. Freeze the pan for 15 minutes, then transfer the streusel to a ziplock bag or airtight container and store it in the freezer for up to 3 months. There’s no need to thaw the streusel before baking; sprinkle it frozen on a cake, muffins or tart and bake as directed.

tips

  • *I take my starter (sourdough leaven) from the fridge in the evening, just before bed, and measure out 40g, and then feed it – 100g flour + 100g water. Allow it to sit overnight, by the morning, it may be fully active, or even if it has deflated already or hasn’t quite reached its full potential, no matter. With this starter, I make this raspberry crumb sourdough cake.
  • If you don’t have a sourdough starter, replace it with ½ cup/70g rice flour, and ⅓ cup/80g of water/buttermilk, and increase the baking powder to 1 ½ teaspoon.
  • Important! Let the muffins cool completely. This will allow the crumb to set nicely and not fall apart.
  • If you don’t want to make the streusel topping, omit and sprinkle the top with flaked almonds instead.

raspberry crumb sourdough muffins

Preparation 15 minutes

Baking 30-35 minutes

Makes 12-14 muffins or one pound cake (11 x 25cm loaf pan bake for 50 minutes) 

streusel crumb topping

1 cup/100g almond flour

¾ cup/100g superfine brown rice flour

½ cup/100g light brown sugar

¼ tsp fine rock salt

7 Tbsp/100g cold dairy-free butter or regular butter, cut into ½-inch pieces

cake ingredients

3 Tbsp/22g ground flaxseed + ½ cup/100g hot water (allow to sit for 10 mins as below)

¾ cup/150g light brown sugar

3 Tbsp finely grated orange zest (zest from 3 oranges)

2 Tbsp/50g maple syrup

½ cup + 2 Tbsp/200g sourdough starter

½ cup/110g extra virgin olive oil or neutral-tasting oil

¼ cup/55g orange juice (1 very juicy orange)

1 cup/140g brown rice flour

1 cup/100g almond flour

¼ cup/30g tapioca starch 

¾ tsp fine rock salt

¾ tsp baking soda

1 tsp baking powder

125g fresh raspberries (Toss the raspberries in tapioca flour before adding them to your batter. This will stop them from sinking to the bottom.)

preparation

1. Preheat your oven to 180C/350F. Line your muffin tray with 12 baking cups. (I use these ones)

2. Make the streusel; In a medium bowl, toss together both flours, sugar, and salt. Add the butter and work it into the flour until the mixture is sandy and crumbly.  Place in the fridge until ready to use.

3. Make the cake; Into a large bowl, add the flax with water and allow to sit for 10 minutes, then add sugar, zest, maple syrup, sourdough starter, oil and orange juice – whisk until smooth.

4. In a small bowl measure out the brown rice flour, almond flour, tapioca starch, salt, baking soda and powder.

5. Add the dry ingredients to the wet and whisk until smooth, fold in the raspberries. Spoon the batter into the prepared muffin cups, distributing it evenly among them (they should be full). Generously cover with the streusel to form small domes over the batter, it’s optional to dot with a few extra raspberries. Bake for 25 – 30 minutes, or until golden. Let cool in the tin for about 10 minutes, then transfer to a wire rack to cool. 

I hope that you have a wonderful festive weekend, here are some photos taken in the garden this week.

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date-caramel and carob shortbread squares (V, GF)

4th March 2022

These date-caramel shortbread squares are from Aran Goyoaga new book ‘Cannelle et Vanille BAKES SIMPLE.’

‘Here, pecan shortbread is topped with date caramel and a thin layer of chocolate, nuts and seeds.  The date caramel is more of a paste than a traditional caramel, but it smells and taste just like the classic, with the benefit of being naturally sweet.’ – Aran Goyoaga 

The changes which were made to the original recipe:

  • Toasting the pecan nuts in the crust
  • Swapping the chocolate for a carob glaze
  • Mixing the toasted nuts and seeds with maple syrup over heat to make them extra sweet and crunchy on top.

date-caramel and carob shortbread squares

(If you don’t have carob pieces, you could use this carob glaze.)

makes 18 squares

preparation 20 mins

baking 25 mins

cooling and setting time 3 hours

date-nut crust

⅔ cup/100g pecans

115g (about 7) plump pitted Medjool dates 

¾ cup/105g superfine brown rice flour

¼ cup/30g tapioca starch

¼ tsp fine rock salt

6 Tbsp/85g cold vegan butter or coconut oil, cut into ½-inch pieces

date caramel

⅓ cup/90g canned full-fat coconut milk

⅓ cup/90g melted virgin coconut oil

1 tsp vanilla extract

⅛ tsp fine rock salt

240g (about 13) plump pitted Medjool dates 

carob/chocolate glaze

150g finely chopped unsweetened carob or chocolate pieces (70%)

1 tsp coconut oil

nut topping

½ cup + 2 Tbsp/60g toasted pecans, pistachios, coarsely chopped

1 Tbsp raw sesame seeds

1 Tbsp maple syrup

1 tsp dried rose petals (optional)

preparation

1. Preheat the oven to 180C/350F. Place the pecans in one pan, and the topping mix of pecans and pistachios in another pan, and toast for 10 minutes. Remove from oven and allow to cool. Meanwhile, grease the inside of an 8-inch square pan with coconut oil and line with baking paper, letting some hang over thes sides. Set aside. 

2. To make the date-nut crust, combine the pecans, dates, brown rice flour, nuts, tapioca starch, and salt in a food processor and pulse ten times until the dates and nuts are pulverized. Add the butter and pulse 5 times, until the dough becomes a dry crumble, and sticks together when pressed. If it feels dry, add a tsp of ice cold water.

3. Firmly press the crust into the bottom of the prepared pan, making sure it is evenly spread. *Use an extra square piece of baking paper to place over the top, run a flat bottomed cup over to even out. Use the edges of the baking paper, to fold over and run your finger along to create level sides and corners.

4. Bake for 22-25 minutes, until golden. Remove, and allow to cool while you prepare the rest of the layers.

5. To make the date caramel, in a medium saucepan, combine the coconut milk, coconut oil, vanilla, salt and dates. Bring to a simmer, and simmer for 1 minute, then remove from heat.

6. Let the dates steep in the coconut milk for 10 minutes, then purree in a food processor. Be patient- it will take 3 – 5 minutes to puree to a fine and creamy texture. Scrape the date caramel onto the cooled crust and spread evenly. See above*.

7. To make the carob glaze, in a medium heatproof bowl, add the carob/chocolate pieces and coconut oil. Fill a small saucepan with one-quarter full with water and bring to a simmer. Place the bowl on top and stir until melted. Pour over the date caramel and spread evenly.

8. To make the nut topping, oven medium heat, place the toasted nuts and sesame seeds in a small pan, add the maple syrup and stir until all are coated and maple syrup is absorbed, 1 – 2 minutes. Turn off the heat and allow to cool.

9. Sprinkle the nuts and seeds, rose petals over the top of the carob. Transfer the pan to the refrigerator for 2 hours, or until the carob and caramel hardens. This is important, otherwise it will be difficult to cut.

10. Lift the shortbread from the pan using the baking paper, and cut it lengthwise into 4 equal pieces, then cut each piece into quarters. See below for cutting tips. Once cut, store them in the refrigerator.

notes

  • Leftover coconut milk can be measured in seperate 90g bags and frozen for future use!

tips for cutting 

  • Make sure the shortbread have been refrigerated for at least 2 hours and the carob and caramel has fully hardened. Otherwise, the middle will collaspe when cutting.
  • Use a ruler for the most precise results, measure the squares with a ruler and use the tip of a knife to make small marks where you’ll slice. 
  • A chef’s knife is the best tool for slicing. Before you cut, dip the knife in hot water and wipe with a dry kitchen towel, or coat the blade with cooking spray and wipe it clean with a paper towel, before making each cut. Repeat this process between slices.
  • When it’s time to cut, press the blade of the knife down firmly, and then drag it back in a single motion. 
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steamed & braised cabbage wedges with herby coriander goodness

25th February 2022

In the late Autumn, I planted a bed of cabbages, placing them about 40cm apart; in between, I grew a variety of lettuce seedlings. By the time the lettuce was ready to be picked, the cabbages were beginning to spread out and to require more room. The ground that once nourished the lettuce began to nourish the cabbages. It’s a great way to use the space efficiently. 

I also planted a bed of coriander and now have lots of lush leafy leaves – perfect for this herby green sauce.

The sauce can be used on almost anything, giving this plain old cabbage a lift. You can swap the coriander and mint for dill or parsley.

Note

  • Green cabbage is best for this dish. I like to use the Savoy variety. When buying the cabbage heads, make sure they are fresh and crisp. Look for tight and compact cabbages with few loose leaves, and feel heavy for size.

steamed & braised cabbage wedges with herby coriander goodness

serves 4

preparation 15 minutes

ingredients

1 small head cabbage

2 Tbsp ghee

herby coriander goodness

¼ cup/35g pine nuts, or nuts or seeds of choice

1 tsp coriander seeds, toasted

¼ cup/50g olive oil

1 bunch/40g fresh coriander

½ bunch/20g mint leaves

1 Tbsp grated ginger

1 Tbsp sweet white miso

½ tsp fine rock salt

freshly ground pepper

prepare the cabbage

1. Cut the stem off the cabbage head, remove any loose outer leaves, and cut into quarters. Place the cabbage wedges in a steamer. Steam the cabbages for 8 minutes or until tender. Finish in a lightly ghee hot pan, BBQ, or under the grill of your oven. Baste with ghee, turmeric and chilli powder to add some spice.

prepare the sauce

2. Toast the pinenuts and coriander seeds until golden and fragrant.  Place all the sauce ingredients into a blender and grind until smooth. Brush, drizzle or spoon the sauce over the cabbage wedges.

Serve

  • With other grains. Brown rice, white basmati, millet and barley are just a few options. I especially love it with pongal & tamarind gojju or saffron rice.
  • With pasta. Enjoy alongside your favourite pasta and fold this herby coriander goodness sauce through the pasta.
  • Alongside any creamy dal or spicy rasam.
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how to make an avocado rose

23rd January 2022

These avocado roses may look difficult, but it is only a few simple steps. I like to use them when I need a simple but impressive salad. Sometimes, I thinly slice fennel or cucumber, add a few small bitter leaves from the garden, a few cubes of feta and place a few of these avocado roses on top with a squeeze of lemon to keep it nice and bright, a few rounds of salt, pepper, a sprinkle of za’atar, lemon zest and toasted seeds and you have a glorious salad to accompany your other dishes.

note

  • Use an avocado that is not too ripe; otherwise, it will be soft and squishy but must be firm enough that the skin peels away easily.
  • Sprinkle lemon juice to keep the avocado from changing colour.
  • Here’s an easy how-to video: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=YJGu9EcNu2Q

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how to make an avocado rose

ingredients

1 ripe and firm medium avocado

preparation

1. Cut the avocado in half lengthwise. Remove the pit by using the knife to pierce the seed with a good amount of force. The seed should easily lift out with a wiggle or two.

2. Remove the skin. If the avocado is a good balance of not too ripe and not too firm, the skin should lift up easily.

3. Slice across. Lay the avocado halves flat side down, and make thin slices across the avocado, repeating down the entire fruit from end to end. Aim for each piece to be between 2-3 mm thick.

4. Fan the slices out. Keeping the pieces touching each other, gently move the slices diagonally until the slices form a thin line.

5. Roll into a spiral. Start curling the fruit inwards on itself at one end. Continue rolling the slices until your avocado flower begins to take shape. Ensure it is neatly twisted around itself in a compact circle.

6. Douse the avocado rose in lemon or lime juice. As the avocado sits in the open air, it oxidizes and develops brown spots. The acid in the lemon juice will prevent this from happening until you are ready to eat it.

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orange saffron cake (GF & vegan)

19th December 2021

This Orange Saffron Cake is slightly adapted from Aran Goyoaga’s new book Cannelle et Vanille BAKES SIMPLE. I baked it for a special treat to serve at our end-of-year Sadvidya meeting, and it was a true treat! It is incredibly moist, with a deeply fragrant orange flavour, and the saffron gives it a hint of earthiness. I made it vegan by replacing the two eggs with a flaxseed mixture and increasing baking powder.

NOTES

  • The flaxseeds must be ground as finely as possible to absorb water well.
  • Use superfine brown rice flour; I use this brand of flour for all my baking.
  • Orange-flower water, or agua de azahar, as it is called in Spanish, can be found in speciality and middle eastern markets. I did not use it in this recipe, as I didn’t have it in my pantry. Even without it, it was incredibly fragrant.
  • This cake is very delicate, so handle it gently and allow the cake to cool completely and for the crumb to set. 
  • The vegan cream can be replaced with regular cream – folding in the icing sugar and vanilla after whipping.

orange saffron cake (Aran Goyoaga)

Preparation 15 minutes

Baking 40-45 minutes

Assembling 2-3 hours for the cream to thicken and the cake to cool completely.

Makes one 8-inch layer cake

ingredients

3 Tbsp/18g ground flaxseed + 6 Tbsp/60g hot water (allow to sit for 10 mins as below)

½ cup/110g warm oat milk

⅛ tsp saffron threads

¾ cup/150g blond sugar

2 Tbsp finely grated orange zest (zest from 2 oranges), plus more for garnishing

3 Tbsp freshly squeezed orange juice

1 Tbsp orange-flower water (optional)

½ cup/110g extra virgin olive oil 

1 cup/140g brown rice flour

1 cup/100g almond flour

¾ tsp fine rock salt

1 Tbsp baking powder

½ tsp baking soda

¼ cup/35g sliced almonds

powdered sugar for dusting

cream

cup/60g vegan/regular butter (softened to room temperature)

1 tub (200g) Vegan Violife Cream Cheese, (available from Celeiro – out of the fridge for an hour)

cup/40g icing sugar

2 tsp vanilla extract or scrape 1 vanilla bean (halved lengthways and seeds scraped out)

preparation

1. Preheat your oven to 180C/350F. Generously oil the inside of an 8-inch cake pan and line the bottom with baking paper.

2. Into a large bowl, add the flaxseed with water and allow to sit for 10 minutes.

3. Combine the milk and saffron in a small pan and warm over low heat for 2 minutes. Do not boil. Remove from heat and steep for 5 minutes, then add to the flaxseed mixture.

4.  In a small bowl, combine the sugar and orange zest. Rub the mixture between your fingers so the zest releases its natural oils and becomes fragrant. Whisk into the flaxseed mixture along with the orange juice, orange-flower water (if using), and olive oil – whisk until smooth.

5. In a small bowl, combine the brown rice flour, almond flour, baking powder, salt and baking soda. Add to the wet ingredients and whisk until well incorporated. Pour into the prepared pan and sprinkle over the sliced almonds.

6. Bake for 40 – 45 minutes until golden brown and a toothpick inserted in the middle of the cake comes out clean. Let the cake cool completely in the pan; 3 – 4 hours is ideal.

7. Meanwhile, make the cream: Beat the butter with a hand mixer until soft. Add the violife cream cheese and beat again until well mixed (don’t overmix.) Sift over icing sugar and add the vanilla extract – beat again. Cover and refrigerate until ready to use – 2 hours. 

8. Place the cake on a cake stand. Using a serrated knife, cut the cake in half crosswise. I press one hand on the top center of the cake and cut with the other hand as you turn the cake, which helps in even cutting. The cake is delicate, so be gentle.

9. Spread the cream over the bottom cake layer. Place the top layer on the cream, sprinkle with orange zest and dust the cake with powdered sugar. 

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