Friday, 24 December 2010

Christmas Cake Bites (gluten free and/or vegan)

I was going to write you a little ditty about Christmas time. You know, the perfect homes, the happy, laughing families who are just loving spending 24/7 with each other. Then I was going to recount an amusing anecdote and sign off happily.

But I went shopping yesterday and something rather upsetting happened.

Like lots of Mums there is a list burning a hole in the back pocket of my jeans and as I pushed my trolley towards the supermarket I was braced for the task ahead.

I was about to go in when I saw the man begging. Actually, I saw the man shivering uncontrollably.

Years ago, on a first date my soon-to-be-boyfriend refused to give money to a man begging. Instead he took him to a cafe, bought him a mug of tea and a bacon sarnie and then walked me home. It was the best possible seduction plan for a soft-hearted girl like me.

The shivering man of yesterday nodded when I asked if he wanted something to eat. It was simple to nip in and get him croissants and a coffee, although he had difficulty holding the cup straight because of the shivering.

I went into the supermarket with the trolley I was about to fill and suddenly none of it seemed right. The bright lights, the festive cheer and all that money we spend on gorging ourselves at Christmas.

I decided not to cry in public because it’s never a good look, but my brains were in rack mode wondering what I could do to lessen the man’s misery and that bloody shivering.

I looked carefully, but they were not selling small, flat-packed houses filled with warmth and cheer for the homeless. I personally think they have missed a trick there. No, the best I could do was chocolate, a hat, scarf and gloves.

The shivering man thanked me and told me that no, he had nowhere to sleep. I suggested one of the homeless shelters they open up during the winter, but he said because he has no papers to be in France he can only sleep in a shelter one night a month. I urged him to go to one of the soup kitchens but he told me that being sans papers, he’s not entitled to any food. He said he would sleep in the station at which I was lost for words and then told him I was sorry. He nodded and as I walked away he shouted ‘Merry Christmas!’ after me.

Good look or not, that bit made me cry in public.

I cried even more as I drove out of the car park and saw that he was already wearing the hat that we all know will not really make any difference to his plight.

Maybe there are some braying types reading this and snorting at the computer. ‘He probably survives on benefits, has a council house, 51 children and huge plasma screen telly.’

You know what? I really, really hope he has all of that (maybe not the 51 kids.) I hope he has so many hats, scarves and gloves that he is selling them on a market stall somewhere and making a tidy profit.

But something - oh I dunno call it feminine intuition – tells me that when there is ice and snow on the pavement, not many people would choose to sit on the ground unless they were desperate.

I came home to my lovely, warm house and my loving family. I made myself a hot drink and stoked the fire because it’s bloody cold out there. My husband listened about the man and then talked about Maslow’s Hierarchy of Needs. He added that I’d touched someone at the bottom of the hierarchy which is always going to feel uncomfortable when we are so much further up it. (Please look at the graphic so you know what I’m talking about. Otherwise I just sound fascist...)

Look, I know it’s Christmas and I’m supposed to be full of festive cheer and I am, really I am. My children are hopping around in excitement and I can’t wait to see their faces tomorrow when they open all their loot.

But I kissed my son last night as he slept in his warm bed and I couldn’t help thinking of my supermarket man. Maybe somewhere that man’s mother is wondering how he’s doing and hoping that he’s got a warm bed for the night. I wish someone had good news for her.

Right, no more maudlinity! (yes, that’s a word). I’m really here to wish you lots of yummy goodness for Christmas and more champagne than your liver can cope with.

Thanks for all your brilliant comments and emails during the year, please eat, drink and be merry darlings!

But spare a thought for my supermarket man and if you see him at a shop near you, please buy him a hot drink and something to eat.

Merry Christmas!

Christmas Cake Bites

I know these are just a festive re-hash of Cake Balls for E and I had high hopes of bringing you a new recipe. But if you haven’t worked it out, I’m really disorganised and I’m afraid this is the best I can do.

Cake Bites (makes about 40)

All versions will need:

130g dairy free spread/margarine

120g sugar

110g golden syrup or honey

60g GF, DF cocoa powder

150 ml rice milk / dairy milk (for GF versions, remember liquid measurements are approximate. Always add liquid gradually, using less or more as you see fit)

1 tsp bicarbonate of soda

GF version:

50g cornflour

100g brown rice flour

25g chickpea flour/quinoa flour/tapioca flour
¾ tsp xanthan gum

1½ tsp GF baking powder

Egg version / Egg free version

1 egg OR:

1 heaped tsp of Orgran no egg Egg Replacer

1 heaped tbsp ground linseeds

⅛ tsp xanthan gum (that’s half a ¼ if you’re as thick as me...)

2 tbsps vegetable oil

4 tbsps rice milk/dairy milk/

To make these with wheat flour:

Use 175g wholemeal, self-raising flour

To bind the cake balls:

3-4 tbsps gluten free apple sauce (a GF apple sauce for weaning babies would do)

(If you can’t find a jar of apple sauce, use 2 eating apples, 2-3 tbsps sugar, squeeze of lemon juice. Peel, core, chop apples and put them in a saucepan, add sugar, lemon juice and a tbsp of water. Cover and simmer until apple is cooked. Blend with a hand blender, add a tsp of cornflour to bind it all together, blend again to remove any lumps)

To coat:

150-200g dark DF chocolate but couverture best

GF pretty decorations, like Carnival Sprinkelz or gold powder

About 12 Bamboo skewers/metal skewers for applying the chocolate (you’ll see)


• For egg free versions: mix the Orgran no egg powder, ground linseeds, xanthan gum, oil and rice milk together using a mini whisk. Set aside

• Grease and line two 18cm sandwich tins with baking parchment

• Pre-heat oven to 170˚celsius

• Put the fat and sugar into a large mixing bowl and beat together
• Add either the egg or the egg replacing mixture and beat again

• Add the flour (GF or wheat), baking powder, xanthan gum (GF versions) and cocoa powder to the bowl and beat until incorporated

• Mix the bicarbonate of soda with the warmed 150ml of rice milk/dairy milk and gradually stir in to the mixture. For GF versions you may need to add more milk to get a soft, dropping consistency

• Divide the mixture evenly between the two cake tins and bake for about 20-25 minutes until risen and springy. Remove and leave to cool completely

• When the cakes are cool, crumble them into a large mixing bowl. Add the apple sauce and combine until you are able to squidge the mixture into balls, you may need more apple sauce

• Lovingly roll little balls of cake in your hands and set them onto a baking tray lined with baking parchment. Repeat until all the mixture is used up. Place the baking tray in the fridge for up to four hours

• When you are ready to coat your cake bites, place them in the freezer on the baking tray (for 20 minutes maximum). Then melt the chocolate or couverture over a very low heat in a bain marie. When it has just melted, turn off the heat

• Skewer one of the cake balls and holding it over the bain marie, use a spoon to drop the chocolate onto the ball. Rotate the ball until covered in chocolate. Keep rotating to allow excess chocolate to drip off. Then place the skewer into a jug/tall thing so that the cake bite is upright. If you have some oasis for flower arranging, put them in that, it works a treat. Put baking parchment over the work surface to catch any dripping chocolate. Decorate with pretty things if you wish

• Continue coating the cake bites. When you run out of skewers, use a fork to gently remove the first cake bite you covered and place it onto baking parchment to dry fully. Repeat until all the cake balls are coated and drying on the baking parchment. I do hope that makes sense. They can be chilled in the fridge to finish them off.

• These can be stored in an airtight container in the fridge for ages, at least a week

• You could even package these up and take them to a nearby Supermarket Man. I’m sure he’d thank you...
© Pig in the Kitchen All Rights Reserved

Friday, 10 December 2010

Iced Christmas Biscuits (Gluten free and/or vegan)

gluten free recipes

Ever since Michael J Fox appeared diminutively on our screens in Back to the Future, I’ve been dubious about that whole time travel thing.

For example, imagine being transported back to Victorian times and then they discover you’re wearing a thong. That’s not going to end well is it?

Ms Pankhurst would be horrified that you are wearing a tool of male oppression* and you might make her do something drastic. Like not chain herself to railings and win us the vote.  You see? Time travel is dangerous; it messes with the mind and has potentially catastrophic consequences. 
*Note: anyone querying this description of a thong is either a) male, b) pert, toned and under 25, c) or has never tried wearing cheese wire between their buns.

Yet, despite my misgivings, we recently gave time travel a go.

A bit of background for you:

Husband and I met in a small town in north-eastern France many moons ago. It was a time of decadent, possibly illegal behaviour and many a regretful hangover. But it was lots of fun and like Humphrey and Ingrid ‘We’ll always have Paris / a small town in north-eastern France.'

So what on earth were we thinking going back there 15 years later with our 4 kids? Well, in our defence, we thought it would be good to show them this beautiful part of France.

What we hadn’t banked on were those blurry, wavy lines undulating through our vision transporting us back in time. Doo dooo dooo dooo dooo dooo dooo dooo...

‘Oh look! There’s our favourite pizza place!’, ‘Do you remember the time we drank too many Kir Royales/skiied down the road/slept in the car on the mountain?’

But the wavy lines faded and we found ourselves making constant comparisons to the crazy, loved-up couple we were and the crazed, middle-aged, occasionally-in-love couple we are now. It was very unsettling.

During our visit we went back to the gorgeous town of Riquewihr. My pre-children memories of this place involve mulled wine, gazing at the prettiness and well I think that’s about it. I wasn’t sure how a post-children trip would go.We wandered around, had some lunch and then because the kids were nagging, took the tourist train.

What fun! We would never have done that 15 years ago!

We trundled out of the town waving at onlookers (eldest daughter dying of shame), up into the vineyards and beheld the beauty of Riquewihr from on high. Then came back down and went to visit the prison and the torture chamber. The kids were entranced, although one of those torture implements made me feel a little queasy.

As we left there was just enough time to race into a wine cellar, déguste for a bit and then fill the car with yummy Alsace wine. We wouldn’t have done that 15 years ago; we were too young and our palates were definitely too crass.

Our four day trip was thought-provoking. On the one hand; four amazing children that we didn’t have back then. On the other; we are no longer young, carefree and reckless.

Ugh! The pain of middle-age.

Anyway, in Riquewihr we went into this cool gingerbread shop selling all manner of gingerbread things. I bought a mould for a gingerbread house and a sachet of pain d’épices spice.

I wish I could say I have made you a gluten free, egg free, dairy free gingerbread house. But I tried (twice), it collapsed, I cried and let’s say no more about it.

But what I have made for you are iced, spiced Christmas biscuits! So, actually, that short trip back in time was worth it after all.  

 

Iced Christmas Biscuits
As I type this I am tucking into some 3 day old Iced Christmas Biscuits and dipping them into my mulled wine. It's shocking, decadent behaviour but hey, it's Friday night and after the snowbound week I've had (how many kids? All at home for days on end?) I feel entitled.  And they are yum by the way, even when stale.  Result.

(The snowmen freak me out a bit)

To date I've only made these gluten free, egg free and dairy free not all my usual combinations.  But if you want to use real eggs, replace the apple sauce and pinch of xanthan gum with 2 real eggs.  You may have to gradually add extra flour at the end if the mixture is too wet to roll out.

175g dairy free margarine
200g sugar
90g apple sauce (I used one of those purees for babies)
A pinch of xanthan gum
1 tsp vanilla extract (not essential)
400g Doves Farm Gluten Free plain white flour
3-4 tsps pain d'epice spice from Riquewihr OR:
3-4 tsps mixed spice Or:
a mix of cinnamon, ginger, nutmeg, ground star anis (does that exist? Mulled wine is taking its toll...)
Rice milk  to moisten dough if necessary
Extra GF flour for rolling out

For the icing:
300g icing sugar (approximately, more may be needed)
Food colouring of your choice (use paste colourings instead of liquid, much better. Here's a site)
Lemon juice to mix
Piping bags and smooth piping nozzle (I mean one that isn't crinkly at the end, but can't find the right words.  Will try again when the wine has worn off)
  • Feeling a bit squiffy now, (damn you mulled wine) but shquinting owlisshly at the screen and conshentrating very hard, so let's hope I don't make any mistakes
  • Line some baking trays with baking parchment and pre-heat the oven to 170˚ degrees celsius
  • Put the margarine and sugar into a large mixing bowl and cream together
  • Add the apple sauce and the pinch of xanthan gum (or two eggs if you wish) and vanilla extract and mix to combine
  • Add the flour and spices and mix again.  If the dough seems too dry add rice milk gradually until you have a soft, workable dough.  If using eggs, you might want to add a bit more flour
  • Break off a good chunk of the dough and roll it out to a thickness of 2-3mm
  • Cut out pretty festive shapes and place them onto your lined baking trays
  • Repeat until you've used up all the dough and are getting really fed up of these damned Christmas biscuits
  • Bake in the oven for about 10-12 minutes, you can get them out when they're a bit soft.  They don't really go brown, so don't leave them in there too long
  • Remove from oven and cool and then to the icing
  • Seive the icing sugar into as many bowls as you want colours.  Does that make sense? If you want 3 colours, use 3 bowls and split the icing sugar between them.  (That made more sense didn't it?)
  • Add a scrape of food colouring paste and a squirt of lemon juice and then watch in alarm as you mix it all together and that tiny scrape of colouring paste turns your icing a violent shade of whatever colour you added. (Moral: go easy on the colouring paste)
  • You are aiming for a very thick icing that you can pipe, but not one that is so thick that it is grainy. Smooth is what we want.  Add more icing sugar if need be - or more lemon - and keep alternating until you've got the right consistency
  • Pipe prettiness onto your biscuits and leave it to set.  Decorate with GF, EF, DF goodies (These are good)
  • Serve to your happy children and pour yourshelf a good glassh of mulled wine.  You desherve it
(Warning: small children may steal these biscuits before the end of your photo shoot)


© Pig in the Kitchen All Rights Reserved

Monday, 6 December 2010

Mincemeat for allergy sufferers (gluten free and/or vegan)



We live in worrying times.


Wikileaks has it that the Saudis want the Americans to bomb the Iranians. 

And that Berlusconi is sex mad.

And that Sarkozy is short.

Or maybe it was something else about Sarko. (I’m sure it’s not important.) But that bit about Iran is worrying isn't it?

I’m afraid I can do little to alleviate the worry and worse, I have to add to it. Because I am duty-bound to use the C and the F word.

Ready?

Christmas and the ‘Festive season’ are only 2 weeks away.

You still ok? Hyperventilating is a normal response to this time of year, so don’t be embarrassed.

Now, hopefully, you took my advice and made your cake in October. And according to my mother-in-law, you could even ice it now.

But that would be way too organised for me, I shall be icing mine at about 1am on Christmas morning. That’s so that I can wake up sleep-deprived and snarling when my poppets trip in at 5am with their stockings. Why change the habit of a lifetime just because it’s Christmas?

Anyway, this cheering little missive is to remind you to make your mincemeat. There’s nothing like a good, alcoholic mincemeat to soothe away the worries of the festive season. 

And you DO, still have time. We should of course have made it about a month ago, but the healing power of Brandy and Cointreau solves that particular problem. If you make it in the next few days and then make your mince pies just before Dec 25th, it will all be fine. (Good luck.)

And actually, I do have a little something to cheer you up. Take a look at this inelegant, giant dancing egg yolk. It makes me giggle every time.


Mincemeat
I got carried away this year and made this new recipe for mincemeat, completely forgetting that I already had one on here.  But now you have choice, that's always good isn't it?!  Making mincemeat sounds horribly super yummymummy doesn't it?  It's actually very therapeutic and well, essential, if you want to be sure it's free from allergy nasties.  Go on, give it a whirl, it's much better than the stuff you buy!

2 clementines,
2 tbsps orange juice
2-3 tbsps Cointreau (or more depending on your stress levels)
2 large eating apples, grated
200g dried cranberries
250g golden sultanas
250g raisins
450g dark muscovado
3 tsps pain d’épice spice/mixed spice/cinnamon/nutmeg
Add a grating of nutmeg for good measure
100ml brandy
2 tbsps black treacle (optional)

  • Halve the clementines, remove any pips, then blend in blender with 2 tbsps of orange juice. Place in a large mixing bowl
  • Add the Cointreau to the Clementine mix and stir
  • Grate the apple and add to the clementines, stir
  • Add the sultanas, cranberries and raisins and stir
  • Add all the remaining ingredients and mix well to combine
  • Leave in a cool, dark place so it can do its alcohol-y absorbing thang for about 2 days (I think given our proximity to Christmas, we can just spoon it straight into the jars...)  
  • Wash and dry your storage jars (I only use Bonne Maman jam jars, gorgeous!) and place them in a warmed oven for, oh I dunno, 15 minutes?
  • Remove from oven and fill with your lovely mincemeat. Turn them upside down for a day and then store them in a cool, dark place (right side up)
  • Put to one side until the time comes for you to make your mince pies
  • Be thankful that you are not Ann Widdecombe

© Pig in the Kitchen All Rights Reserved

Friday, 26 November 2010

Chocolate & Clementine Brownies (gluten free and/or vegan)

There are some days when if a youf in a hoodie pulled a gun on me in the street I would cry out in relief and say ‘Yes! Do it quick!’


Do you have days like that? When you wake up in the morning with a dark, black cloud where your brain should be? 
Rubbish, isn’t it?

Last week I had one of those days. I was supposed to be up and at ‘em, giving my latest assignment hell (I’m doing a journalism course), biking in the forest with my dog and generally being pro-active, positive and perfect.

Hmm, yes.

I just about managed to walk the dog. And the waves of gloom coming off me must have been extremely repellent because even the dog ran away. Although that might have been something to do with the bunny she saw and that killer hunting-dog thing she’s got going on.

As I waited for her to come back I pondered my melancholy mood.

I suspect it is a mini mid-life crisis, of the kind that many women experience. The children are getting older. I’m not getting any younger. Why did I do a degree when all I do is the washing? What can I do to earn money and still be at the school gate at 4pm without selling my (sagging) body for illegal purposes?

And you’ll be pleased to know I came up with a solution.

Cake.

Thick, chocolatey, gooey, squidgy, comforting cake.

That, I thought, will solve all my problems.

So I came home, made it, photographed it and ate it.

I can confirm that it did not solve all my problems, but it was bloody gorgeous.

So if your mood is in need of a lift, I urge you to make these brownies today.

Anyway, can’t stop, just digging out my Agent Provacateur lingerie. Maybe selling my body isn’t such a bad idea after all? Hours to suit and all that...

Chocolate & Clementine Brownies

Well it turns out that it was either a very short-lived mid-life crisis, or bad PMS. Why do I always forget about PMS? Feeling much better now and I have PMS to thank for this lovely recipe  :-)

All Versions:
250g DF, GF dark chocolate
150g dairy free margarine (or butter/other margarine)
250g sugar
60ml golden syrup
4 clementines
1-3 tbsps orange juice
½ tsp bicarbonate of soda
4-7 tbsps rice milk (or other milk)

Egg free, Dairy Free, Gluten free version:
The 7 ingredients for ‘all versions’ (see above) plus:
3 heaped tsps egg replacer (I used Orgran ‘no egg’)
2 tbsps ground linseeds
¼ tsp xanthan gum
6 tbsps sunflower oil
7-9 tbsps rice milk
140g rice flour
40g sorghum flour
(Or you can use 180g Doves Farm GF plain flour and omit xanthan gum below)
½ tsp xanthan gum

Gluten free with eggs

The 7 ingredients for ‘all versions’ (see above) plus:
Use 3 eggs
140g rice flour
40g sorghum flour
(Or you can use 180g Doves Farm GF plain flour and omit xanthan gum below)
½ tsp xanthan gum

Egg free with wheat flour :
See ingredients for the Egg free, dairy free, gluten free version and replace the 180g of flour with 180g of wheat flour and omit the ½ tsp xanthan gum

Method:
  • Heat the oven to 170˚ Celsius
  • Grease and line a 31x18 cm brownie tin with baking parchment
  • Cut the clementines into quarters – don’t remove the peel - remove any pips and blend in a blender until smooth. Add the orange juice if needed to make a thick paste (but the blender should still be able to turn it, no turgid movements please)
  • If using an egg free version, mix the egg replacer, ground linseeds, xanthan gum, oil and rice milk in a small bowl using a mini whisk. If it’s very thick, add a bit more rice milk, you want a good, bulky consistency, not too sloppy
  • For all versions place the dark chocolate, margarine/butter and syrup into a saucepan and heat over a low heat until melted. Add the sugar and stir
  • If using eggs, beat them in a small bowl and add them to the chocolate-filled saucepan, stir. Or, add the egg replacing mix to the chocolate-filled saucepan and stir
  • Add the bicarbonate of soda to the Clementine mix, stir and then add to the saucepan. Stir to combine. Inhale the vibe of chocolate and Clementine, oh yeh, sista’
  • Add the flour and xanthan gum/wheat flour and stir to combine. Add enough rice milk / other milk until you have a thick, glossy mix which will drop languidly from your wooden spoon. Ooo, I went all poetic then
  • Scrape the mix into the brownie tin, level off a bit and put into the oven. Brownies are a curious beast, they don’t need too long, they don’t need too short, so watch them carefully. When the mix has risen and is firm, but still a bit gooey in the middle, then remove them. They should go a bit waxy on the top, but I’ve never really got mine waxalicious; they always seem a bit inferior to the brownies of our Atlantic cousins
  • Leave the brownies to cool and then – golden rule coming up – place them in the fridge before you slice them
  • Slice them up and then get ‘em down you. Feel your worries ooze away
  • Place your online order for Agent Provocateur lingerie. Use it to your best advantage


© Pig in the Kitchen All Rights Reserved

Friday, 12 November 2010

Mushroom Soup for Sleepovers (gluten free and/or vegan)



Teenage sleepovers always perplexed me because the rules were never really clear. Should we be smoking like Rizzo in Grease? Or being all virginal like Sandy and singing plaintively on the veranda? Was raucous laughter acceptable and what if I wet the bed? (Joke). I don’t remember enjoying myself that much because I thought that if we didn’t laugh hysterically enough, or look cool enough, (like on TV) we weren’t quite doing it right.


I went for another sleepover recently. Kathie and I escaped to Normandy for the weekend because our husbands were either quaffing beer in Munich or camping in England in late (rainy) September. I know. The beer bit I get, but camping? In England? In the rain? All wrong.

The first night we committed the schoolgirl error of weekends with friends; we went in too hard and fast with the alcohol and excited chat and woke up feeling a little delicate the next day. But the second night, with the kids in bed, it all flowed. A bit of wine, a bit of mushroom soup and then we watched Gavin and Stacey and painted our toe nails. We may have had some chocolate and Kathie definitely refilled her wine (I was being restrained for once).

It turns out there isn’t a rulebook for sleepovers after all. The only ingredients you need are girls, food and feeling at ease in each other’s company. Maybe that’s why sleepovers work so much better in middle age rather than teenage? There’s none of that angst and competitiveness and you can treat yourself to Chanel nail varnish.

So hurrah for middle-aged sleepovers and hurrah for Kathie because she brought this mushroom soup with her! So very simple and deliciously mushroomy. It is the perfect sleepover meal.

Mushroom Soup (serves at least 4)
 In these days of lashing rain, blustery wind and mushroom abundance, this soup is bang on trend.  It is probably your duty to make some today.  Measurements are approximate, reduce or increase as you wish.  The oyster mushrooms and chestnut mushrooms are a luxury, you can just use button mush if you prefer (just don't tell Kathie...)

400g button mushrooms
50g oyster mushrooms
100g chestnut mushrooms
1 clove of garlic
1 medium potato
olive oil to fry
2 gluten free, vegan stock cubes
1 litre of water (you may need to add more or less)
Salt and black pepper to taste
Green leaf to garnish
  • Roughly chop all the mushrooms, the garlic and the potato and place into a large saucepan.  Add a dash of olive oil and heat the pan until the mushrooms are sizzling and juicy
  • Add enough water to cover the ingredients, this might be more or less than 1 litre
  • Crumble in the stock cubes and stir.  Is 2 cubes too many do you think?  You can just add one if you prefer, but I do abhor a flavourless soup *shudders*
  • Cover the pan and leave to simmer for about 20 minutes or until the potato is cooked
  • Use a hand blender to blitz until it is smooth
  • Season to taste with salt and black pepper
  • You could serve with Archimedes' GF rolls or Swan Lake GF loaf, or add a spoonful of basmati rice (I love rice in soup)
  • Now quick! Take your soup to the lounge, Gavin and Stacey is just starting...
© Pig in the Kitchen All Rights Reserved

Thursday, 21 October 2010

Christmas cake (gluten free and/or vegan)


Readers of a sensitive disposition should look away now because I’m going to use the C word.

Seriously, go now if you don’t want to read that most offensive of words.
.
.
.
.

Christmas.

There, I’ve said it.

You know I nearly did write the C word just to see the look on your face, but I managed to refrain. There’s something about truly awful words that makes me giggle, because some words are so offensive they actually become funny, don’t you find?

Anyway, back to Christmas. *wince*

It’s ok because it is ages away and we don’t need to do any hyperventilating into a bag or rabid list-making just yet.

But if you’re serious about this whole Christmas thing, may I suggest making your cake now? I know it seems preposterously early, but there’s a very good reason for getting it done before Halloween.

It’s because my friend Ali told me to.

You see she’s a very clever lady who runs her own cake business and does impressive catering type things and has a very savvy husband who does her marketing and all sorts of other finger-on-the-pulse stuff. And when I saw Ali in September – September I say! – she was about to make her Christmas cakes for her customers.

I think the phrase was, ‘So I can really feed them well and get them perfect in time for Christmas.’

I liked that word, ‘perfect’, it really sucked me in. 'Maybe' I thought, 'if I bake my cake now like Ali, I will have a perfect Christmas.'

So mine is done and stares accusingly at me every day, ‘What’s going on? You’re supposed to be feeding me!’ It actually causes me to hyperventilate a little (not into a bag, that will come later) and I have to quickly add ‘Feed Christmas Cake’ to my list of things to do.

But apart from that I think it was a good thing to have done.

It meant that for one day only in late September, my kitchen smelt of Brandy and I permitted myself to play Christmas tunes as I baked. (If you need some good Christmas toons, please rush out and buy this CD, your festive period will be transformed forever.) There was none of the Christmas stress generally associated with Christmas music or cake baking (‘I should have made this weeks ago!’) and it was all very calming.

And if, after baking your cake this early, your Christmas still ends up being a time of stress, inebriation, hangovers, misery and please-let-it-all-be-over, you can do what I plan to do.

Which is blame my friend Ali.

Christmas Cake

You can find my Christmas cake recipe by clicking HERE. It really is a very tweakable recipe, so please substitute, add and subtract whichever ingredients take your fancy. But I can’t be held responsible for abject cake failures (but you could blame Ali...). This year my fancy was very much taken by these candied fruits.

Aren’t they lovely?! And badda-bing they weren’t candied using a wheat-derived sugar. They did cost me an arm and a leg, but that is what Christmas is all about n’est-ce pas? Anyway, off you go and do your cake and I’ll leave this photo montage for your delectation.

First you do this:
Then a bit of this and this:

Then after a bit you end up with this:
  Then you kind of do this:
 And well, sort of this: (I made - and ate this - for you in August, I call that devotion...)  And then that's it, finished.


Happy Christmas Cake-making mes anges.  Sleigh bells ring, are you listening?

© Pig in the Kitchen All Rights Reserved

Friday, 15 October 2010

Apples in Calvados (gluten free, egg free, dairy free)


I swear that some malevolent force gets to work in gardens in autumn.


All through winter, spring and summer, it’s ok. The garden is either doing nothing, prancing around showing off colours and new buds or lazing around in the sun asking for water every now and then.

But come autumn, some hideous bad temper seizes that garden and it all turns nasty. Those flowers that looked beautiful just a few weeks ago now look awful. The grass is sodden and full of worm casts. And the apple trees? Well, seriously, they are the worst.

Mine are nothing short of ASBO trees.

‘You want effin’ apples? I’ll give you soddin’ apples’ (the language! From a tree!)

And off they go, whirling around in the wind and chucking apples every which way. And it’s not just one apple tree, oh no. Once one starts, they all get in on the act, effing and blinding and lobbing apples. Honestly, sometimes I can’t let the kids in the garden the language is so bad.

As is so often the case with anti-social behaviour, I had to take the matter into my own hands; the gendarmes just didn’t want to know. I started with the ringleader and – showing no mercy – I laid into him with a blade. Don’t be shocked, these trees don’t understand softly-softly, you have to play them at their own game.

Reader, I hacked it back.

No nonsense, a proper good cutting down to size, and then I picked all the apples from the branches and from off the grass.

I tell you, that shut the other trees up almost immediately. It’s always the same with these troublemakers, they are cowards at heart. The odd one or two threw down an apple, but the game was up and I had won.

I am a bit concerned about reprisals, but I’ll deal with that next autumn. For now, I just have this huge stash of apples to get through.

To the victor go the spoils.

Apples in Calvados

There is this gem of a vegetarian restaurant and B&B in Normandy called La Maison du Vert.

I’m going to say that again. A vegetarian restaurant. In France.

Possibly the most enormous oxymoron of all time. (And they'll do vegan and gluten-free too.  Astonishing.)

Anyway, this wonderful place run by Daniel and Debbie (from the UK) does a wicked pudding of apples served in a buttery Calvados sauce with a dollop of crème fraîche. This is a poor copy of their fragrant dessert, but still a great way to use up surplus apples. Measurements are very approximate.

300g apples

100g dairy free margarine (or butter if you can eat it)

100g dark muscovado sugar

3 tbsps Calvados

A pinch of Maldon sea salt

To Serve: Crème fraîche/oat cream/coconut cream/soya cream if desired

• Peel core and thickly slice the apples

• Put the dairy free margarine (or butter) and muscovado sugar into a large, heavy based frying pan and melt together over a very low heat, do not stir

• When the fat and sugar have melted together leave to simmer gently – without stirring – for a few minutes until they have thickened slightly. Be vigilant, you don’t want any burning

• Add the apples and stir to coat with the sugary syrup

• Add the Calvados 1 tablespoon at a time, you don’t want it too runny

• Leave to simmer, stirring occasionally for approximately 5 minutes until apples are slightly tender but not mushy.  Add more sugar, dairy free marg and calvados as you see fit.  (I always see fit to add more of all of them)

• Serve with a cream of your choice or just sprinkle over more muscovado sugar

• Take your bowl outside, choose the most chav of your apple trees and sit beneath it to eat, savouring every mouthful

• Yum


© Pig in the Kitchen All Rights Reserved

Monday, 11 October 2010

Waiting for Apples in Calvados...


Can you see her?  That's my alter ego, Mel. 

She's very busy isn't she?  Look how fast those fingers are typing. 

That's because she's typing her latest article for Powder Room Graffiti. 

It's all about how damn hard it is to start studying again when you're fast approaching a very significant birthday and the last time you did any meaningful study you were for the most part drunk, or hungover - permanently - and your room was full of traffic cones that you stole the night before...

By the time you read this Mel will have finished typing her article and if you want to read it, just click HERE.

Perhaps after that she'll get her arse back over here and post that recipe for Apples in Calvados that she assures me is coming very soon.

Until then, keep well darlings!

Mwah,

Pig x

© Pig in the Kitchen All Rights Reserved

Wednesday, 29 September 2010

Warm, Spiced Apple Cake (gluten free, egg free, dairy free)

Warm, spicy, deliciously calorific



Ask an average stay-at-home Mum what she thinks of Twitter and you’ll probably get a dismissive answer. ‘Why would I want to know what someone is having for lunch?’ she might say. Ask that same Mum whether she gets insanely bored doing her tedious, daily chores and she’ll answer in the affirmative.

If only she could see her need for Twitter! Slightly dissatisfied, stay-at-home Mums are the perfect candidates for developing a Twitter habit. With its short, snappy nuggets of information, it is a very suitable distraction from the mind-numbing grind of stay-at-home life.

To get the best out of Twitter, you need Tweetdeck. A dark, slightly baffling screen will appear on your laptop.

It has 'Columns.'

It has ‘Mentions.

It has ‘Direct Messages.’

It is very confusing, in a dark and mysterious way.

It makes me feel like a spy. I know - mental - but see me in this cyber military ops room making world-changing decisions and issuing orders (in 140 characters or less). Very soon the camera will cut to a close up on my furrowed (yet still sexy) brow. And watch me give controversial orders to unilaterally disarm...

You see how Twitter can transport you?

The best bit about Tweetdeck is that every time someone I’m ‘following’ ‘tweets’, a small rectangle appears very briefly in the top right hand corner of my screen. It makes a little chirruping noise and gives me a tiny snippet of information that I can read, or follow a suggested link, or just ignore and think, ‘why would I want to know what you are having for lunch?’

That regular tweeting on my screen reminds me that I’m connected to the vast outside world as I sit contemplating chores in my small, stay-at-home Mum world. And it’s also a perfect excuse to abandon jobs, rush to my laptop and see what’s going on...

A few days ago, I heard the chirrup, saw the rectangle and quickly read the snippet.

What’s this?

Mum's the Blog has thrown down the baking gauntlet, aka 'Pudding Carnival?  They are challenging bakers to produce, to-die-for Autumn puddings? Now that sounds more fun than folding the washing!

With some flicking through recipe books here, lots of tweaking there and plenty of tasting, well, all the time, I quickly came up with a satisfying dish to help you pile on the pounds as we head towards the hibernation season.

I give you, warm, spiced apple cake. It sends my older daughters into paroxysms of delight and makes them beg for more. Oh yeh!

Now.  Time to bang out a tweet.

Enjoying my lunch of watercress and avocado salad. Yum.

Come tweet with me at: http://twitter.com/@piginthekitchen

Warm, Spiced Apple Cake (This recipe is based on Clotilde Dusoulier's 'Le Gâteau de Mamy' from Chocolate and Zucchini.  All hail Clotilde...)


I swear I have gained 3 kilos in the last week of trying out this recipe; I think I’m pretending it’s healthy because of the apple bit. Each different variation differs in consistency, but they all have deliciousness in common. I do urge you to include the pinch of Maldon sea salt, it is a gorgeous match with the buttery, appley, sweetness of the cake. Oh that does it, I’m making another one...

All versions:

450g peeled and cored apples (approx 4 large apples)

A squeeze of lemon juice

1-2 tbsps of honey

2 tsps cinnamon

½ tsp Maldon sea salt

1tbsp melted dairy free margarine

250g dairy free margarine (or butter) + extra for dotting the base of the tin

1 tsp vanilla essence

300g sugar

Egg free, dairy free, gluten free

190g Doves Farm Gluten & Wheat Free Self-Raising Flour
3 heaped tsps Orgran ‘no egg’ Egg Replacer

2 tbsps apple sauce/apple purée (I used one for weaning babies)

⅛ tsp xanthan gum

6 tbsps rice milk

Egg free, dairy free with wheat flour

As per the Egg free, dairy free, gluten free version, but replace the 190g gluten free flour with self-raising wholemeal flour

Gluten free with eggs:

190g Doves Farm Gluten & Wheat Free Self-Raising Flour
4 eggs

  • Grease a 23cm x 6cm round cake tin and line the base with baking parchment. Dot the base with dots of dairy free margarine. Now line the outside of the tin with tin foil / aluminium in case any juicy apple stuff tries to escape
  • Pre-heat the oven to 180˚C
  • Thinly slice the peeled and cored apples (use a Boysenberry KitchenAid if you have one) and place into a large mixing bowl
  • Add the cinnamon, squeeze of lemon juice, honey and sea salt.  Stir to make sure the apples are coated. Line the base of the cake tin with the sliced apples
  • If making this cake without eggs, put the egg replacer, apple sauce, xanthan gum and 6tbsps of rice milk into a bowl and whisk with a mini whisk. Set aside
  • Melt the dairy free margarine (or butter)
  • In a large mixing bowl whisk the sugar and eggs or egg replacer mixture. Add the vanilla essence
  • Add the flour and stir to combine. Add the melted butter and stir again
  • Pour the batter into the cake tin and place in the oven. Bake for about 20-30 minutes until risen and golden, but the inside will be runny. Then cover the cake loosely with tin foil/aluminium to prevent the top burning. Continue baking until a skewer inserted into the cake comes out clean. You might need to raise the oven temperature to cook the middle if it seems to be just sitting under its foil tent doing nothing
  • Remove the cake from the oven and leave to cool for about five minutes. Then place an upturned plate onto the top of the cake tin. Very carefully upend the cake tin so that your cake slides elegantly out of the tin onto the plate. Lean over and inhale the warm, spicy, appley fumes
  • Serve this with dairy cream/coconut cream/rice cream/oat cream
  • Have more
  • Rush to laptop and tweet: ‘Just made perfect apple cake, I rock, you suck.’
  • Actually don’t tweet that or everyone will hate you.



© Pig in the Kitchen All Rights Reserved

Tuesday, 28 September 2010

The Curious Tale of the Eraser in the Flour...

So I know this is random, but...

There I was trying out an apple and cherry loaf, when a child's eraser, fell right into the flour. 


Was it a sign? 

That perhaps my efforts were misguided and I should erase what I was doing? 
Or does it just mean that I should tidy the shelves above my work surface? 

It was definitely a surreal, Chicken Licken sort of a moment. 

Anyway, it didn't seem to affect the final mix too much, although I'm a bit worried there'll be high notes of 'grubby WhSmith eraser' in this loaf rather than tangy apple and sweet cherry.

BEFORE:
AFTER:


I know this post smacks of 'wasting-time-when-should-be-either-posting-a-real-recipe-or-doing-the-reading-for-the-journalism-course-which-starts-again-in-2-weeks', but I thought I would share that with you all. 

And I solemnly promise to post a recipe by Thursday 30th September.  (2010, not 2011.)

In the meantime if you would like to learn about my state of mind now that all my children are in full-time education, wander over to Powder Room Graffiti and have a read of THIS.

© Pig in the Kitchen All Rights Reserved

Wednesday, 22 September 2010

Pig masquerades as restaurant reviewer...


Ahh, Paris.  Elle est belle.  Especially when you are sipping a ballon of rouge in the Autumn sun and watching the sparkles and twinkles of ripples on the Seine...

Where was I? Oh yes, in Paris, in a restaurant.  And I've reviewed that restaurant for fellow blogger Baby Dines Out.

You can read my elegant, kind, non-francophobic review by clicking HERE.

Alas, the restaurant I reviewed isn't as beautiful as the one above which I shot whilst wandering the streets of Paris...

Anyway, can't stop, working on my warm spicy apple cake.  Oh yeh baby! 

Pig x

© Pig in the Kitchen All Rights Reserved

Monday, 20 September 2010

Cake Balls for E (egg free, dairy free, gluten free)


The more you ignore a ticking biological clock, the louder it gets. Six years ago mine went something like this.

TICK! I want another baby.

TOCK! Ridiculous! No-one has four.

TICK! But I really want one.

TOCK! How would you fit it in the car?

TICK! babybabybabybabybaby

TOCK! Ugh! You’d have to drive a people carrier...

In the end I bored myself shitless. It got to the point where either we had to do it, or I had to shut up about it.

A year later, my fourth child – my third girl – was born.

With four children, maternal guilt goes into overdrive. I didn’t have to wonder whether I had enough time for her, it was clear that I didn’t.

But I made some interesting discoveries.

Like, it is possible to make breakfast for three young children and breastfeed a fourth at the same time.

Or, by parking a baby on the knees of her TV-watching siblings and telling them not to move, you can get an awful lot done.

And, if your 4 year old goes to nursery with no knickers and is word perfect to Nickelback, (“Everybody’s got a drug dealer on speed dial...”) it really isn’t the end of the world.

You won’t find that in a parenting manual, will you? Consider it a Pig in the Kitchen exclusive.

But here’s the thing; my youngest girl has not suffered. She is the most chilled, independent, confident child I own. From day one she has been cherished, loved, adored and had plenty of ‘me time’ (some might call it benign neglect). No wonder she’s happy.

But it hasn’t all been smiles. Chest infections, eczema and ‘failing to thrive’ were hallmarks of her early months. When her allergies to eggs, cow’s milk, nuts, mustard and about a million pollens were diagnosed, I wasn’t really surprised. It’s often the parents that work it out long before the doctors will agree, don’t you find?

She’s been on a strict exclusion diet ever since.

We moved to France four years ago and the specialists told me that if her allergies hadn’t improved by the time she was three that was it; they were ‘set’. I ignored them because an English specialist told me that she would almost certainly grow out of them by the time she was five.

By the time you read this, my girlie will be five years old. She’s still on an exclusion diet, still having horrible reactions to milk and eggs if she ingests them by mistake and, well, still allergic.

But it’s not the end of the world, is it? We’ve never let her be defined by her allergies; they are just a small part of who she is. Life drops plenty of crap on us and the trick is working out which crap is serious and which crap is just inconvenient.

For my girl’s first birthday, I had no idea how I would bake her a cake. Four years on, she has choice.

She thought long and hard about the cake she wanted. In the end she opted for these –omigod-those-are-good - cake bites rather than one large cake.

Once I’d made them, she changed her mind and wanted a giant-sized cupcake with yellow butter cream icing and pretty sprinkles. Being a soft touch, I obliged. Well, when you have allergies, you can never have enough cake, right?

Sweet E - with your infectious giggle and your ability to light up a room - these bad boys are for you. Without you, this blog and those cake bites wouldn’t exist.

Happy egg free, dairy free, nut free (and gluten free because, why not?) birthday!

You are fab x

Cake Bites (makes about 40)

You remember those Cosmo blog awards in the summer when I asked you to vote for me? Well, thanks if you did, but I didn’t win. Not even a snifter at the shortlist. However, every cloud and all that, because Bakerella did make it onto the shortlist.

I stared jealously at her perfect creations, her perfect recipe book and all sorts of other things more perfect than mine.  Seriously, the women takes amazing photos and makes beautiful, beautiful cakes and she writes well and she...*Pig reaches for Stanley knife to apply to veins...*

 Then I gave myself a little beating with a mini whisk and thought, ‘You know what? I reckon I can make those to suit my allergic lovelies.’ And so I did. But without the - er - finesse of Bakerella.  I think that makes me more, um, approachable.  It means I don't overwhelm you with my brilliance and you secretly think 'yeh well, I can make them look better than Pig's...' (it's ok, I don't mind).

 Enjoy dahlings!

All versions will need:

130g dairy free spread/margarine

120g sugar

110g golden syrup or honey

60g GF, DF cocoa powder

150 ml rice milk / dairy milk (for GF versions, remember liquid measurements are approximate. Always add liquid gradually, using less or more as you see fit)

1 tsp bicarbonate of soda

GF version:

50g cornflour

100g brown rice flour

25g chickpea / gram flour
¾ tsp xanthan gum

1½ tsp GF baking powder

Egg version / Egg free version

1 egg OR:

1 heaped tsp of Orgran no egg Egg Replacer

1 heaped tbsp ground linseeds

⅛ tsp xanthan gum (that’s half a ¼ if you’re as thick as me...)

2 tbsps vegetable oil

4 tbsps rice milk/dairy milk/

To make these with wheat flour:

Use 175g wholemeal, self-raising flour

To bind the cake balls:

3-4 tbsps gluten free apple sauce (a GF apple sauce for weaning babies would do)

(If you can’t find a jar of apple sauce, use 2 eating apples, 2-3 tbsps sugar, squeeze of lemon juice. Peel, core, chop apples and put them in a saucepan, add sugar, lemon juice and a tbsp of water. Cover and simmer until apple is cooked. Blend with a hand blender, add a tsp of cornflour to bind it all together, blend again to remove any lumps)

To coat:

150-200g dark DF chocolate or couverture (but couverture is the best)

GF pretty decorations, like Carnival Sprinkelz, or yay! The Jelly Bean Factory gourmet beans, gelatine, gluten & nut free. Love it, love it!
About 12 Bamboo skewers/metal skewers for applying the chocolate (you’ll see)


  • For egg free versions: mix the Orgran no egg powder, ground linseeds, xanthan gum, oil and rice milk together using a mini whisk. Set aside

  • Grease and line two 20cm sandwich tins with baking parchment

  • Pre-heat oven to 170˚celsius

  • Put the fat and sugar into a large mixing bowl and beat together (use your boysenberry KitchenAid if you have one)

  • Add either the egg or the egg replacing mixture and beat again

  • Add the flour (GF or wheat), baking powder, xanthan gum (GF versions) and cocoa powder to the bowl and beat until incorporated

  • Mix the bicarbonate of soda with the warmed 150ml of rice milk/dairy milk and gradually stir in to the mixture. For GF versions you may need to add more milk to get a soft, dropping consistency

  • Divide the mixture evenly between the two cake tins and bake for about 20-25 minutes until risen and springy. Remove and leave to cool completely

  • When the cakes are cool, crumble them into a large mixing bowl. Add the apple sauce and combine until you are able to squidge the mixture into balls, you may need more apple sauce

  • Lovingly roll little balls of cake in your hands and set them onto a baking tray lined with baking parchment. Repeat until all the mixture is used up. Place the baking tray in the fridge for up to four hours, or at least 30 minutes (or you could whack them in the freezer to speed things along)

  • When you are ready to coat your cake bites, place them in the freezer on the baking tray (for 20 minutes maximum). Then melt the chocolate or couverture over a very low heat in a bain marie. When it has just melted, turn off the heat

  • Skewer one of the cake balls and holding it over the bain marie, use a spoon to drop the chocolate onto the ball. Rotate the ball until covered in chocolate. Keep rotating to allow excess chocolate to drip off. Then place the skewer into a jug/tall thing so that the cake bite is upright. If you have some oasis for flower arranging, put them in that, it works a treat. Put baking parchment over the work surface to catch any dripping chocolate. Decorate with pretty things if you wish

  • Continue coating the cake bites. When you run out of skewers, use a fork to gently remove the first cake bite you covered and place it onto baking parchment to dry fully. Repeat until all the cake balls are coated and drying on the baking parchment. I do hope that makes sense. They can be chilled in the fridge to finish them off

  • These can be stored in an airtight container in the fridge for ages, at least a week. But really, why wait a week? These babies are good, get them down you!


© Pig in the Kitchen All Rights Reserved

Friday, 13 August 2010

Glenda Bannington-Blythe and the Black Bean Soup (egg free, dairy free, gluten free)


(If you missed what happened at The Christmas Party, catch up by clicking here.)

 ********************************************************************************
Roger wasn’t really looking forward to the dinner with Gus Hetherington and his tedious, braying wife, but Glenda had been insistent.


We haven’t had them over for months darling’ she had said, ‘he is your boss after all!
‘Well, not really my boss' scowled Roger, 'just slightly senior to me, that’s all. Oh all right then. Get Cook to do something American, his dreadful wife is from somewhere down south. But for God’s sake not a steak, apparently she’s vege-bloody-tarian.’ Roger had almost gagged at the word.

*******************************************************************************

The meal was going well. Roger noted that Glenda was on fine form, flirting appropriately with Gus and looking very interested in what his wife, Cristal, had to say. Roger was relieved at the change in Glenda. After the Christmas party débâcle, he had endured months of marital silence. Even though he’d fired Chandra immediately and sworn never to see her again, Glenda had remained unconvinced. Still, she seemed to have forgotten all about it this evening.

Rosa entered the dining room bearing a large silver tureen. She placed it carefully in the middle of the table and removed the lid with a flourish.

‘Eees blacka bean soupa wheeze rai-si!’ she announced triumphantly.

Pardon?’ asked Glenda ‘I thought Cook was preparing Black Bean Soup with rice.’

Rosa beamed ‘¡Si! Is what I say! Blacka Bean Soupa Wheeze Rai-si!’

Before Glenda could reply, Cristal squealed with delight making everyone jump.

Oh Rose-a, that is divine! How’d’y’all know that’s my favourite?’

Rosa looked from Cristal to Glenda and back again, trying to comprehend. Her brain was not really equipped to deal with long sentences in English, let alone English spoken with a southern American lilt.

It’s all right Rosa’ said Glenda, ‘Mrs Hetherington is very pleased with the soup.’

Rosa nodded and scurried from the room.

They were just starting their soup when Rosa reappeared, looking nervous.

Meester, you m-must please to come t-to Drawing Room’ she stammered. Roger was irritated, ‘Rosa, don’t be ridiculous! We have company.’

Rosa squirmed and looked at Glenda pleadingly. Glenda gave an almost imperceptible nod. ‘I sorry, but Mees Chandra is in there.’

Glenda had to stifle a laugh as she watched Roger struggle to maintain composure in front of the Hetheringtons, who had also been at the Christmas party. He excused himself from the room and could be heard running down the hall. Glenda counted to 20 and excused herself as well, leaving the Hetheringtons to their black bean soup.

********************************************************************************

Roger arrived at the Drawing Room, panting. He almost had a coronary on the spot when he saw Chandra sitting naked on the Chesterfield chair.

What the bloody hell do you think you are doing?’ he puffed. Chandra stood up, tall and slender, clad only in her Louboutins. His favourite Louboutins, he remembered, with a slight stirring of passion.

Chandra pouted and walked slowly towards him. ‘Come on’ she purred ‘once more for old times’ sake.’ Before Roger really knew what was happening Chandra was undressing him whilst leading him towards the chair. She pushed him down roughly and pulled his arms behind the back of the chair. He heard a click as a pair of handcuffs tightened around his wrist. ‘Chandra!’ panted Roger, ‘I can’t, the Hetheringtons are here!’ He tried to get up, but his arms were wedged firmly behind the chair. ‘It’s ok honey’ Chandra whispered in his ear, ‘I don’t really want to either’ and she bit him hard on the ear lobe.

Roger’s squeal masked the sound of Glenda entering the room. She retched slightly at the sight of her naked, handcuffed husband, relieved that his enormous overhanging gut afforded him at least a modicum of decency. ‘Right, thank-you very much Chandra’ said Glenda briskly, ‘I can take it from here. Oh, don’t forget this’ and Glenda handed over a pile of used £50 notes. ‘Thanks Glen!’ said Chandra brightly, pulling on her dress and blowing Roger a kiss as she left the room, ‘See you Rog!

Roger began to jibber, ‘I didn’t arrange this Glenda, of course I didn’t! I promised you...’ Glenda held a finger to her lips, ‘Shhh darling, I know you didn’t arrange it. I arranged it. You see, I wanted you to be really, really listening.’ She reached behind a chair and picked up Roger’s favourite 9 iron. His eyes widened ‘My club! What are you going to do with that?’

Glenda patted the head of the club onto her palm, ‘Don’t worry Roger. Much as I’d like to mash your tiny little brain into a pulp of grey matter, I don’t want to be guilty of murder. No, in a short while your DB9 is going to feel the weight of this, I reckon one good crack should shatter the windscreen, what do you think?’ Roger jumped as though he’d been stung, ‘Glenda, no! Not the DB9!’

She giggled. ‘And then, Roger, I’ve got a tin of paint stripper for your E-type! Roger groaned, struggling to free his arms. ‘I’ve already cut up the Jermyn Street suits’ she continued, ‘and finally, I think the people in the village would all like a few bottles of your fine wine on the doorstep with their milk tomorrow morning, don’t you? Harry the milkman thought it was a fabulous idea; he came and took it all yesterday. He told me to thank you and complimented you on your philanthropic nature!’ Glenda pealed with laughter, she’d waited a long time for this moment.

You do know why I’m doing this, don’t you?’ she asked, suddenly serious. ‘It’s because I’ve finally had enough. When I’m finished with the cars, I’m leaving. I’ve appointed a solicitor and I will take you to the cleaners my darling. 'Unreasonable behaviour' doesn’t even begin to cover it!’ Glenda grinned as she left the room, she was enjoying this unaccustomed feeling of power.

She went back to the dining room where the Hetheringtons were sitting in silence. They gaped at the sight of Glenda holding a golf club. ‘I’m terribly sorry about that’ she said with an apologetic smile. ‘You’ve finished your soup I see, marvellous. Would you mind awfully coming to the Drawing Room for dessert? We think it’s such fun to have a different course in different rooms, it really livens up the evening, I’m sure you’ll find it very entertaining!’ She brandished the 9 iron impatiently, ‘Come on! Hurry up!’

Roger’s cries were clearly audible as Gus, Cristal and Glenda reached the Drawing Room. At the door Glenda paused, ‘You go on in, there’s just something I have to attend to first. I’ll eat my dessert later.’ She beamed at them, ‘Anyway, I do think there are some dishes that are best served cold, don’t you?’

And with that Glenda strode in the direction of the garages, swinging the 9 iron, her spirits soaring and a whole new chapter of her life about to begin.

Glenda’s Black Bean Soup (serves 4)

Well. I am almost speechless. I had no idea Glenda had it in her and you should see the mess she made of Roger’s beloved cars. Astonishing behaviour. I wonder what on earth she’ll do next?

When this soup is served in New Orleans, I’m told (by the delightful Erin) that you can dollop on sour cream and cheese to up the fat content and general deliciousness factor. If you can eat dairy, then you go right ahead and do so. Erin also told me that you can add a chunk of ham or bacon if you wish and cook it ‘The real N'Orlins Way.’ I’m sure Roger would approve.

2 medium red onions

5 cloves of garlic

Olive oil for frying

1 red pepper

1-2 tbsps of herbes de provence / mixed herbs

4 x 400g tins of black beans in their brine (or if using dried beans, approximately 400g of dried beans, before soaking, reserve the cooking water)

The liquid measurements are very fluid (¡ha!), be prepared to add more.  But approximately:

150ml vegetable stock (check stock cubes are gluten free)

100 ml of orange juice

100ml red wine

Salt and black pepper to taste

Lashings of Tabasco sauce

200g (ish) Basmati rice to serve

Toppings:

4-6 spring onions, finely chopped

4-6 vine tomatoes finely chopped

Optional Toppings:

Sour cream, grated cheddar cheese or grated ‘Sheese’ if you prefer

If you are using dried black beans, soak them overnight prior to making the soup and then cook them according to the packet instructions. Reserve the cooking water.

  • Finely chop the onions and garlic and place in a large, heavy based saucepan. Add the olive oil and fry gently over a medium heat for a minute or so

  • Chop the red pepper and add to the pan. Add the mixed herbs and stir. Fry for another couple of minutes
  • Add the black beans and the brine from the tins. If you are using dried beans, add the beans and half the cooking water (you can always add more later)
  • Add the vegetable stock, orange juice and wine. Bring to the boil, then reduce the heat and settle yourself down for the long, simmering haul. This is the sort of soup that needs to boil down, be topped up a little with flavourings, then boil down again. Fab

  • Stir the soup from time to time (perhaps in between smashing up your husband’s car?) adding more stock, orange juice and wine where necessary. You want to retain quite a lot of liquid, so don’t let the beans go dry

  • Finely chop the spring onions and tomatoes and cook the rice according to the packet instructions

  • Add salt, black pepper and Tabasco sauce to taste

  • Call your guests to the table and load up their plates with this rice and black bean feast

  • And raise a toast to Glenda. To her courage, her determination and her uncertain future


© Pig in the Kitchen All Rights Reserved