Wednesday, 24 August 2011

Ginger and Chocolate Brownies (gluten free and/or vegan)

It is probably my Mum’s fault that I have an asbestos tongue.  I have vivid memories of covering homemade chips in Season All when I was little.  That stuff was absolutely delicious, full of salt, paprika, chilli powder and other loveliness.  It was a perfect match for the chips which I drowned in vinegar.  If food made my lips white and shrivelled then it was all good in my book.  Mum told me not to, she said I would have a 'jaded palate' (love that phrase) but who listens to their Mum?

I wish I could say that my palate has refined with age.  That the subtle taste of avocado is sublime and steamed asparagus is a joy.  Well, no.  Avocado is best with salt, black pepper and splashed liberally with hot sauce.  And asparagus...well, salt, black pepper and hot sauce.  I often think that all I really want from food is texture to go with hot sauce.  I'm such a sophisticated foodie.

Curry?  If it’s not making me sweat then it’s not worth it.  If it makes me cry and I can’t feel my lips, then it’s a winner.

Then there was the stem ginger covered in dark chocolate that we used to eat at Christmas when I was little.   It was so good, on the limit of being bearable, but a real kick.  When I taste it now it evokes happy Christmas memories where life was simple and it was all about the fun.  Unfortunately that part does change with age doesn’t it?  (Sighs, pauses on edge of maudlin precipice...steps back.)

Anyway, it was the ginger and chocolate thing I was trying to re-create with these brownies.  Which is why the first batch sizzled my children’s tender young palates.  Perhaps adding nearly a teaspoon of chilli powder to that first attempt wasn't such a good idea? It didn’t stop them asking for more though and when the scores were averaged out, I was at seven and a half.  Which I think is pretty good. 

I love that my darling girl with allergies told me ‘It’s on the limit of my spiciness range, but I love it!’  How does she form sentences like that when she’s five? (I think that was bragging by the back door, but it’s OK, I’m allowed to do that because she’s amazing.)

This is my last post for a few weeks because of moving back to the UK (have I mentioned that?!) and my internet service provider telling me I can’t get online until September 10th.  Seriously?!  For a minute there I thought I was moving to Tajikistan...

Ginger and Chocolate Brownies
I’m not sure if these really are brownies.  I’m tempted to call them slices.  They are very moist and squidgy like brownies, but they don’t do that waxy, crunchy thing on the top like real brownies.  It’s a dilemma.  I don’t know how I’ll sleep tonight.

For all versions:
250g dark chocolate (dairy and gluten free)
150g dairy free margarine
250-275g agave syrup/honey or 250g sugar (I used 275g agave syrup, I have a sweet tooth)
60g fresh ginger, grated (freeze it beforehand)
½ tsp chilli powder (optional)
8-15tbsps rice milk depending on which version you are following

For egg free version:
3 heaped tsps Orgran ‘no egg’ Egg Replacer
2 tbsps ground linseeds
¼ tsp xanthan gum
6 tbsps oil
8 tbsps rice milk

To use eggs:
2 eggs, beaten

For gluten free version:
140g rice flour
½ tsp xanthan gum

To use wheat flour:
Use 180g wheat flour and omit the ½ tsp xanthan gum used with the gluten free flour

For the icing/frosting
100g dark chocolate (dairy and gluten free)
2 tbsps dairy free margarine
2 tbsps agave syrup/honey or golden syrup
2 cm cube of fresh ginger, grated
  •  Line a 24cm x 24cm tin with baking parchment and pre-heat the oven to 180˚Celsius
  • If using the egg replacing mix put all the ingredients into a bowl and whisk with a mini whisk until there are no lumps.  Set aside
  • Peel and grate the 60g fresh ginger (it’s easier to grate if you have frozen it beforehand, but it’s a faff to peel it)
  • Place the chocolate and dairy free margarine into a large saucepan and heat gently until melted.  Add the agave syrup/sugar, grated ginger and either the egg replacing mix or the two fresh eggs.  Stir until combined
  • Add either the gluten free flours and xanthan gum or the wheat flour and the chilli powder (optional).  Stir until combined
  • Add between 8 and 15tbsps of rice milk.  If you are using real eggs you will need to add less, about 8 tbsps.  If using egg replacer, go ahead and add up to 15tbsps.  If using wheat flour, add between 8 and 10 tbsps.  You are aiming for a soft dropping consistency.  The thing with gluten free flour and xanthan gum is that they just keep absorbing...don’t worry too much about it, but err on the side of too wet rather than too dry, but it must all hold together like a ‘real’ cake mix, don’t let it get too sloppy. Oh god, now you’re worried aren’t you...?
  • Pour your brownie mix into the tin and bake for 20 minutes or until it has set and risen slightly (it won’t rise much)
  • Remove from oven and let it cool in the tin
  • For the icing/frosting: Grate the 2cm cube of ginger, set aside.  Melt the chocolate in a bain marie (bowl balanced on saucepan with boiling water in it. Don’t let the bowl touch the water).  
  • Off the heat add the dairy free margarine, agave syrup/honey (or golden syrup) and grated ginger.  Stir until the margarine has melted
  • Spread it over the brownies and leave to set
  • Yum. Get your kids to give you scores out of 10, but ignore what they say, we know these are lovely

© Pig in the Kitchen All Rights Reserved

Tuesday, 23 August 2011

Pig in the Kitchen is on

This is a bit weird.  But do you think fancies me?  Why else would they put so many of my recipes on their website?

Oh.  Or do you think it's because I'm a super-talented allergy food blogger who is quietly transforming the face of allergy cooking but no-one has really realised?

Hmmm.  I think the 'Channel 4 fancies me' option might be more credible.

Well, whatever the reason, thank-you, thank-you to the lovely Celia Plender and the equally lovely Nancy Whiting.  All very exciting indeed.

So why don't you head on over to the site and have a look?  

And, ahem, if you wanted to, you know, 'rate' my recipes, or simply write a 300 word comment about my general amazingness, I would have no problem with that at all.


© Pig in the Kitchen All Rights Reserved

Monday, 22 August 2011

Pear Crumble (Gluten free, vegan)

I suspect that I’m missing a gene.  The ‘real woman’ gene. 

No, I’m not talking lady parts, but that part of real women that is organised and grown up.  Most of my friends are real women.  They’ve got their shit together, they remember to pay the house insurance and are generally in control of their lives.

Whereas I float around in varying degrees of chaos, a bazillion plans half formed in my head and crucial life skills have passed me by.  I really should know where the deeds to the house are, shouldn’t I?

I was thinking about this a few days ago because our extended holiday in France was coming to an end. (It’s OK, soon I’m going to shut up about leaving France.)  For real women this would signal some general clearing up around the house, perhaps a few more loads of washing per day and I reckon there would be some dusting involved.

I did try to get organised. ‘I must defrost the freezer’ I said.  But then I found all this ginger in the freezer and I didn’t want it to go to waste.  (Always keep your ginger in the freezer; it makes it so much easier to grate.)  So I decided to work on a ginger and chocolate brownie recipe rather than carry on with defrosting the freezer.  Look, it makes sense in my head.

And then I noticed the pear tree.  Well of course it’s been there for the last five weeks, but now they’re really ripe and it would be criminal to let them rot.  So I worked on a crumble recipe.

And you know what?  Somewhere in this random universe, my baking-not-tidying plan paid off.

Because this morning my husband drove back to the UK to start his new job.  Only thing is, he took my passport with him. 

So that was a bit of a balls up wasn’t it?  And it’s going to be a real pain sorting out a courier to get it back to me in time for my own trip back with the kids.  But tee hee, it means I am legitimately stranded in France for another four days and the cleaning up can wait!

It’s official: the universe wants me to bake and it doesn’t matter that I’m missing the real woman gene. 

Pear crumble anyone?

Pear Crumble
Very excited by the topping for this.  It’s a variation of my Apple Crumble, but I don’t remember it being so good!  The topping was really crunchy and has got me thinking about all sorts of crunchy cookies and other recipes I might work on.  I opted to use sugar in this, but I’m wondering if agave syrup could work?  Will report back if I make another one.

50g ground golden linseeds + extra whole linseeds for sprinkling
50g ground sunflower seeds
140g dairy free margarine + extra for dotting over the pears
150g sugar
2-3 tsps mixed spice
4-6 large pears
  • Preheat the oven to 180˚ Celsius
  • Peel, core and slice the pears and arrange them in the bottom of your ovenproof dish.  Sprinkle with a teaspoon of mixed spice and mix.  Dot the surface of the pears with some extra dairy free margarine
  • Put the ground linseeds, ground sunflower seeds, two types of flour and two teaspoons of mixed spice into a large mixing bowl
  • Add the margarine and rub it into the flour and seed mix.  It won’t end up looking like breadcrumbs, it will sort of clump together into a fatty mess.  That’s ok
  • Add the sugar to the fatty mess and stir (try to break up the lumps as you do so, but really, don’t worry about it)
  • Crumble the topping over the pears and sprinkle with the extra linseeds
  • Place in the oven and bake for 20-30 mins or until topping is golden
  • Yumptious! Enjoy with soya cream/regular cream or my latest favourite: coconut milk

© Pig in the Kitchen All Rights Reserved

Monday, 8 August 2011

Vegan Chocolate Pots (gluten free and sugar free)

There were perhaps three holidays to France when I was young.  I remember camping in a pine forest (ugh, who camps?), swimming in lakes, sun, Nutella and baguettes.   But something happened during that time.  Was it the sweet smell of the boulangérie where the air was heavy with the promise of flaky pastry, butter and soft, white bread?  Or was it the strange language with its guttural rasping and hand-waving? 

Whatever the reason, France got under my skin.  I mastered the language and took every opportunity to get back there.  A French exchange to Paris at 13, a three week archaeological dig in Lille at 17, six months near Besançon during my degree, until finally I was living and working in Nantes at 22.

Somewhere along the line I decided I didn’t really want to marry a long-haired Frenchman with a roving eye, a pink sweater slung over his shoulders and garlic breath.  My blind love for all things French waned a little, but I still love la belle France.

Can this sort of love be transmitted through the umbilical cord?  Because my eldest daughter is in love with France.  And horse-riding. 

Somehow the two have become intertwined and she cannot wait to spend week after week in the summer, rolling in horse manure (by the look of her jodhpurs) and gabbling away in French.  In fact she knows words in French that I have never learnt.  Of course the obscure horse vocabulary doesn’t count, but how did she know the word for splinter and I didn’t?

I watched the other week as she and a French friend baked cakes in our kitchen.  The air was heavy with the promise of sweet delicacies and there was lots of guttural rasping and hand-waving.  My daughter did the ‘bah ouah’ thing perfectly, she shrugged in a Gallic manner and may even have said ‘Bof!’ 

It’s weird to think that in a convoluted way my childhood experiences may have led to my daughter falling in love with France.  Just goes to show that we can never know the consequences of our actions when our children are young. 

And here’s a thought.  What if she decides to marry a long-haired Frenchman with a roving eye, a pink sweater slung over his shoulders and garlic breath?  It’s probably a good thing that we’re moving back to England.

Anyway, while the girls were bustling around the kitchen waving their arms around and saying ‘Ooh là là’, I was poring over the French recipe book that the friend had bought.  I found a recipe that I’ve been trying to make allergy-friendly for years.  It was simple, elegant (très French) and could easily be adapted.

Donc voilà! Grâce à la recette de Manon, je vous présente mes ‘Chocolate Pots’!  Régalez-vous! 

Chocolate Pots (makes 9 small espresso cups)

I served these to my fab (French) friends Sam and Katia recently.  They hummed and harred (with slight guttural rasping) and declared that they are more of a ‘crème’ than an ‘entremet’.  As we don’t have a word for either in English, I’ve gone for the less-sexy ‘chocolate pot’.  But you get the gist, right?   

125g dark chocolate
400ml rice milk / cow's milk
50g honey
25g cornflour (corn starch)

For the egg/egg replacer:
1 egg   OR
4 tbsps rice milk

30g dairy free margarine / butter
1 tsp vanilla essence
  •  If using the egg replacing mix, put the custard powder, Orgran egg replacer and 4 tbsps rice milk into a small bowl and whisk together until smooth.  Set aside  
  • Put the honey and cornflour / corn starch into a large mixing bowl and whisk together (might be a bit tricky if using thick honey, but persevere, you'll get there)
  • Add the egg or egg replacer to the mixing bowl and whisk together
  •  Slightly heat the 400ml of rice milk
  • Melt the chocolate in a bain marie (a glass bowl on top of a saucepan full of bubbling water) and add to the rice milk, whisking well
  • Add the chocolate rice milk to the mixing bowl and whisk until all ingredients are incorporated
  •   Pour the chocolate liquid into a saucepan and heat very gently whisking continuously.  When the mixture thickens and is looking deliciously smooth and glossy (don’t let it boil), remove from the heat and add the margarine/butter and vanilla essence.  Whisk until the marg/butter has melted  
  • Pour into individual ramekins or cute coffee cups and leave in the refrigerator for at least 4 hours, preferably overnight
  • Enjoy at your leisure, en français if you wish

And here’s my verdict:

© Pig in the Kitchen All Rights Reserved

Saturday, 6 August 2011

Vegan Chocolate Pots (gluten free)

I'm so bad unless I have deadlines. 

By posting this pic of my next recipe, it sort of gives me a deadline doesn't it?  Especially as one of my lovely ladies is nagging , politely requesting it over on Facebook.  (Just kidding lovely lady ;-) 

So let's fix this deadline for, well in a few days or so?  Barring international incidents, unexpected appearances by the sun and um, Acts of God.  

Ciao tutti.

Pig x 

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