Wednesday, 26 October 2011

Halloween Cake Bites (gluten free, vegan)

Halloween and I don’t get on because it involves people knocking repeatedly at my door.  I am fairly welcoming, but only by appointment.  People dropping by unannounced give me hives.

When we lived in London I almost never answered my doorbell.  It was London.  It could only be a murderer or rapist at my door, or worse, one of those tedious people conducting a Mori poll.  I only made that mistake once and forced the guy to do the survey on the doorstep.  I couldn’t let him in because of the London-murderer-rapist thing.

Then we moved to the suburbs and it was worse.  Neighbours actually wanted to speak to us and appeared willy nilly at my door.

It all reached a peak one Halloween night.  Kids in rubbish costumes came and chanted “Trick or Treat” in a bored, lacklustre way.  It was only because their anxious Mums were loitering at the end of my drive that I didn’t make them do it all over again and this time with feeling.

By the third or fourth round of kids, it was getting late and I had reached my limit.  So had my son who had done a spectacular crap in his nappy and needed to be in bed.   I opted for changing him in the hall and my poppet started his usual nappy change routine of full throttle screaming and kicking.

Right in the middle of it, the doorbell started to ring.  My daughters pranced around in crazed excitement, “Ooo Mummy!  Answer the door! Give them sweets!”  My son screamed repeatedly, kicking and splattering shit everywhere.

And still the door kept coming.

Up to my elbows in child dung, I looked up from the nappy and gave the primal scream of a woman giving birth to triplets in breech position.

“GOOO AWWAAAYYYY!!!  I WILL NOT OPEN THE DOOORRRRRRR!”  I held the final note for a long, satisfying time, until my voice cracked.


I waited for the dog turd to come through my letter box or the brick to shatter my window.  Nothing.  These Trick or Treaters are all face paint and no action.

And miraculously the doorbell did not ring again.  For years.

This Halloween will of course be different.  We have just moved to a teeny village and I’m all jazz hands and smiles with the neighbours.  Although I did decline an invitation to a two course lunch with the vicar.

So I will open the door and hand out sweeties.  I’m really hoping the costumes have gone up a gear now that we are importing cheap tat from Bangladesh.

And if I’m feeling generous, I may hand over one of these Halloween Cake Bites.  But I suspect I shall keep them all for me.   I will need something to help me recover after hours of smiling fixedly while crappy kids repeatedly ring my arsing doorbell. 

Happy Halloween to you all.

Halloween Cake Bites 

These are riffing off my Christmas cake bites, you can see how the inside looks by clicking here.

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 more or less as you see fit)

1 tsp bicarbonate of soda

GF version:

50g cornflour
100g brown rice flour

25g buckwheat/quinoa/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:

Sugarpaste in halloween colours

• 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

Roll out your sugarpaste and decorate your cake balls.  As you can see, not much skill is involved and you can pretty much do what you want.  For the ghosts I covered their nether regions with a small circle of sugarpaste, then laid a 'cloak' of icing over the top and squidged it all together.  It does help to have some confectioner's glue to stick eyes, hats and noses, etc.  At a pinch you might get away with apricot jam

If you make a real mess of it all, don't worry, the kids will love them (these ghosts were demolished within minutes of the photo shoot) and once you've eaten one and got the sugar rush, well you really won't care 
Good luck, with the decorating and Halloween...

© Pig in the Kitchen All Rights Reserved

Sunday, 23 October 2011

Halloween Cake Bites (gluten free, vegan)


Are you scared?

These are coming soon.

Mwah haa haa  haaaa.

Creeeeaaaakkkk (that was a ghostly door being pushed open slowly. And creaking.)

© Pig in the Kitchen All Rights Reserved

Tuesday, 18 October 2011

Gluten free and vegan Teabread

My dear friend Katia recently asked me which drugs I am on.   It turns out she was referring to my manic demeanour and inability to relax.

Although I’m not pin thin and twitchy à la overactive thyroid, inside my head it buzzes and I’m not too good at sitting still.  Which is why I was baking a cake for Katia after going for a walk in the woods with six kids and just before I cooked a vegetable chilli over the fire in a pot.

In my defence I’m much better than I used to be, because when I had three kids under the age of three and a half, I still thought I could be a lovely Mummy.  Oh novice error.

One memorable morning I think there was painting with sunflower pollen and blackberry juice.  Does that make you want to vomit?  And one year I made my Christmas decorations.  To avoid the housework there were outings to the beach, the park, the zoo, the playground...

Be. Quiet. White. Noise.

I’m wiser now because I know that benign neglect is the way forward.  If my fourth child wants to paint with blackberry juice, well she knows where the bush is.

But one thing I learnt from the ‘Crazy Years’ is the art of making cake on the hoof and sort of in my sleep.  Impressive, no? 

Teabread is the manic mum’s best friend.  Weigh the ingredients the night before, let the fruit soak in tea overnight and if you get up at 5am you can have it baked in time for the school run.  I should call it Mental Manic Teabread.  And very good it is too with a slick of vegan margarine.  I made this for Katia in the summer and she approved.

So go forth and bake like revved up ecstasy heads my lovelies, relaxing is for the afterlife and teabread is for today.

It is so satisfying to have teabread in your life.  It works for breakfast, for lunch, for an afternoon snack... it just works.  And it can be made without refined sugar if that is your thing. 

All versions
175g raisins
125g sultanas
50g dried cranberries/chopped dates/chopped apricots
175g soft brown sugar OR 150g honey
300ml tea (black tea, green tea, camomile tea)
1 tsp mixed spice
2½ tsp baking powder
½ tsp bicarbonate of soda
100 - 150ml Rice milk/other milk

Egg free, dairy free, gluten free
Egg replacing mix:
1 heaped tbsp ground linseeds
2 tbsps oil
¼ tsp xanthan or guar gum
3 tbsps rice milk
Either: 225g Doves Farm Plain Flour
Or: 125g rice flour + 50g potato flour + 50g tapioca flour

Gluten free with eggs
Use 1 egg in place of the egg-replacing mix

With wheat flour
Use 225g of plain wheat flour

Sugar to sprinkle on top

  • Make 300ml of tea and squeeze out the teabags so that you have a strong brew.  Place the fruit and sugar/honey into a large mixing bowl and add the tea.  Mix to combine, cover and leave overnight
  • If using the egg replacing mix, combine all the ingredients and whisk until there are no lumps, set aside
  • Grease and line a medium loaf tin (1 litre/ 2 pint ish) with baking parchment and heat oven to 170˚celsius
  • Add either the egg or the egg-replacing mix to the bowl of fruit, sugar and tea and stir
  • Add the flour(s), bicarbonate of soda, baking powder and mixed spice and stir.  Add enough rice milk/milk to give a loose cake mix.  Pretty vague description I know, but not really stiff, quite soft, will drop relatively quickly from the spoon.  This would be so much easier to describe if I had my own TV show
  • Sprinkle the surface of the cake with extra sugar if you wish and place in the oven and bake for 45 mins to an hour.  Or it may take longer and you may have to cover the tin with aluminium foil to prevent the top from burning and to make sure the middle is cooked.  Ovens are weird, aren’t they?  It is cooked when a skewer inserted into the middle comes out clean
  • Is my grammar lapsing? I might have been drinking red wine
  • Leave cake to cool in the tin and then eat great big wedges of it as you try and do five things at once
  • But don’t do painting with blackberry juice and sunflower pollen.  That will make me heave

© Pig in the Kitchen All Rights Reserved

Sunday, 16 October 2011

'Don't Kill The Birthday Girl' - The winners are...

The list randomizer has spoken and the winners of the 'Don't Kill the Birthday Girl' giveaway are...





Please email me at:, with PITK in the subject line, giving me your full postal address and the good people in NYC will send the book straight to you.


And for those who are genuinely interested in what I was wearing when I made the draw?  Some slightly shabby Cath Kidston pyjamas and - ahem - a blanket.  Look it's early and I'm cold!

Thanks for participating and if you didn't win, well the next thing you should do is head over to Amazon!

The Teabread recipe is coming next.

Wednesday 26th October 2011
Because Jan is now lost forever (it seems) in cyberspace, I have drawn again and the winner is Kylie! Please email your address to me at:  Thank-you!
© Pig in the Kitchen All Rights Reserved

Wednesday, 12 October 2011

Boob Cakes for Breast Cancer Awareness Month (gluten free and/or vegan)

Don't forget to enter the fabioso giveaway to win a copy of Sandra Beasley's book "Don't kill the birthday girl" but while we're waiting for that to finish, let's talk boobs.




And yuck I hate this one: Funbags.

Big, small, pert or droopy, they have the capacity to annoy us, get us noticed, give us pleasure, feed our children.

Oh and kill us.  Bastard boobs, why do they do that?  Anyway, I'm only mentioning boobs and breast cancer because it is Breast Cancer Awareness Month.

Ladies and - this is weird - gentlemen, you should all be checking for lumps, every month, month in, month out, for the rest of your boob-bearing life.  (Actually guys, you probably don't need to do it each month, but you know, just be vigilant.)

And so, because it's Breast Cancer Awareness Month and because I am a shameless self-promoter who will use any vaguely relevant hook to link to some old content...why don't you go and take a look at my Boob Cakes?  

Here's the link:

The recipe is fab, but the story that goes with it, is better.  You'll see why when you read it.

Results of the giveaway will be announced over the weekend!  Squeeee!

© Pig in the Kitchen All Rights Reserved

Friday, 7 October 2011

Win a copy of 'Don't Kill the Birthday Girl' by Sandra Beasley

“Those with food allergies aren’t victims.  We’re people who – for better or for worse – experience the world in a slightly different way.  This is not a story of how we die.  These are the stories of how we live.”

And with those goose-bump inducing words Sandra Beasley launches into her book about living with allergies.

What do you get from this kind of book?  Just page after page of poor little me?  A bit of brave-faced ‘It’s tough, but I manage’ overlaid with a weak smile?

No.  You get a book that you can’t put down. 

Because here is a book telling you what it’s really like living with multiple allergies.  In addition to the anecdotes about her life, there is historical information about how allergies have developed, a discussion of how allergies are diagnosed, a chapter on peanut allergy, a rousing tirade against the portrayal of food allergies in the media and more, lots more. It is part information manual, part autobiography, very good read.

Oh and can you really be allergic to weddings?  Apparently so.  

I didn’t expect a book that recounts repeated anaphylactic episodes to make me smile, but it did.  And I wasn’t expecting to cry, but she got me there too. 

Her descriptions of how it feels to be the child who is different were hard to read.  I realised that it’s what my daughter feels.  My breezy assertions of ‘No, my daughter never misses out on cake, I just bake her a special one!’ don’t really make it all OK.  Of course my daughter misses out on ‘real’ cake and of course she notices that everyone tiptoes around her, sort of freaked out by what might happen.

Sandra's book doesn't sugar coat the problems of living with food allergies, it just tells it how it is.  With humour, eloquence and plenty of attitude.  It is 226 pages of fascinating, compelling read.

"My job is to center on staying safe in this world, but my job is also never to assume the world should revolve around keeping me safe.  We have more important things to worry about.  Don't kill the birthday girl.  The gifts are wrapped and the piñata is waiting.  We have a party to get to."

Sandra has agreed to give away three copies of her book on my blog. I know!  I’m trying to look cool and grown up but I’m wagging like a weeing little puppy.

All you have to do is leave a comment to be entered into the – drum roll please - first ever Pig in the Kitchen giveaway (I may buy a new outfit). 

The competition is open for a week from the date of posting and I’ll announce the winners very soon afterwards.  You then send me your address by email and the books will magically arrive at your house. 

It’s that simple.  

The books can be posted worldwide, so you readers in the Perhentian Islands, don’t hold back.

Leave your comment now!

© Pig in the Kitchen All Rights Reserved

Tuesday, 4 October 2011

Chocolate Chip Cookies (gluten free and/or vegan)

Just putting the final touches to the exciting giveaway coming VERY soon, but in the meantime, here's the choc chip recipe and a little ditty about my Wake.  What? I think it's totally fine to talk about funerals on a recipe blog!  What is wrong with you?!

The weather did crazy things in the UK last week and people North of London saw the sun.  This usually only happens between 3 and 4pm on August the 12th every other year.  And it was proper hot sun: “UK warmer than Portugal!” screamed the headlines.

As I hustled my kids out of school on Friday afternoon - it was definitely rosé O’clock – a black stretch limo drove into the village.  A sight almost as rare as the sun in these parts.

It was the funeral cortège for a young local man killed in a car accident last week.  I ached for the mourners as they gathered outside the village hall for the Wake.  What a cruel contrast for them; the glorious day mocking their black, heavy grief.  I hate death.

On the way home the kids quizzed me about the limo and the accident and we chatted about the crazy concept of a Wake where people feel depressed, eat sandwiches and drink bad wine.   

I know about Wakes because my Mum died when I was 14.  Teenage angst coupled with enormous grief did not a happy Wake make.  And Aunt Olivia got drunk and cackled loudly.  She is so off my list.

So last Friday I laid down some ground rules for my Wake and I scared the kids into agreeing.

I’m going to share them with you in case the kids weren't really listening.  Ready?

At my Wake, black is forbidden.

For my Wake everyone must buy a new item of clothing.  It must fall into the ‘I love it but I can’t really justify it’ category.  It must be brightly coloured and make you feel happy.

You must toast me with champagne while laughing through your tears at the brilliance that was my life. 

You must drink enough alcohol to wake up with a massive hangover and then you can curse me for a week.

And the sun must shine as brightly as it shone last Friday. 

So, those are my Wake rules done, just another thing ticked off the list.  What about you?  Got any rules for your Wake or are you going for the laid back ‘I won’t care because I’ll be dead’ approach?

You’re right.  This is a weird thing to be talking about.

Why don’t you just eat the choc chip cookies and ignore me.  That's what my children did :-)

Chocolate Chip Cookies  (makes about 15, probably more)
No egg replacer or eggs required for these. Yippee!!

For all versions:
280g dairy free chocolate chips (you could also just chop up some dairy free chocolate)
100g ground sunflower seeds
100g ground linseeds
280g dairy free margarine (butter if you wish)
250g sugar

For gluten free:
150g rice flour
50g potato flour
½ tsp xanthan gum or guar gum
(or use 200g of Doves Farm plain flour and omit the xanthan gum)

To make with wheat flour:
Use 200g plain wheat flour and omit the xanthan gum

  • Heat the oven to 180˚Celsius and line a couple of baking trays with greaseproof paper
  • Put the ground sunflower seeds and linseeds into a large mixing bowl.  Add the sugar and either the gluten free flours and xanthan gum or the wheat flour.  Stir to combine
  • Add the dairy free margarine and chocolate chips and mix it all together until it is a sticky mass.  Using your Kitchen Aid makes this a whole lot easier!
  • You can now refrigerate this for up to 24 hours (although probably more, give it a go!) and I reckon you could freeze it, although I’ve never tried
  • Ideally chill the dough in the refrigerator for about an hour, but if you’re up against it move straight onto the next point...
  • Using a large spoon or an ice cream scoop, place dollops of the cookie dough onto a baking tray lined with greaseproof paper.  Flatten the cookies and shape them to make them look cookie-esque.  Remember, they won’t rise when they’re cooking
  • Repeat until all the dough is used up
  • Place in the oven for about 15 minutes or until the cookies are looking golden.  Remove and leave to cool on the baking tray
  • Yummy, now go shopping for that Wake outfit I talked about!

© Pig in the Kitchen All Rights Reserved

Saturday, 1 October 2011

Chocolate Chip Cookies (gluten free and/or vegan)

I asked the readers and the readers spoke.  Not unanimously - and some tried some sneaky repetitive voting (don't worry, I saw straight through it) - but creeping into the lead by just 1 point...the cookies have it!

They are coming very soon...but before that I have something a little different and very exciting!

I'll give you a clue...

It might involve you winning a copy (or 3) of Sandra Beasley's fabulous, funny book!    

"Sandra Beasley suffers from food allergies. Her allergies—severe and lifelong—include dairy, egg, soy, beef, shrimp, pine nuts, cucumbers, cantaloupe, honeydew, mango, macadamias, pistachios, cashews, swordfish, and mustard. Add to that mold, dust, grass and tree pollen, cigarette smoke, dogs, rabbits, horses, and wool, and it’s no wonder Sandra felt she had to live her life as “Allergy Girl.” When butter is deadly and eggs can make your throat swell shut, cupcakes and other treats of childhood are out of the question—and so Sandra’s mother used to warn guests against a toxic, frosting-tinged kiss with “Don’t kill the birthday girl!”

Come back next week to find out more :-)

© Pig in the Kitchen All Rights Reserved