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


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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...
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