Lemon and Lavender Shortbread

Lemon is one of my favourite flavours of all time, I’m currently obsessed with all things lemony which is weird because as a child it was my least favourite but as I’ve got older I do love the fresh, zingyness of lemon, especially in the summer.
I have a small pot of lavender growing in my garden and had picked the flowers, and left them to dry. There wasn’t enough to make a lavender bag for my wardrobe but enough to use flavour some sugar. 

To make lavender sugar just sprinkle a teaspoon or two or dried lavender into a tub of sugar, shake to distribute evenly and leave for a few days.
Ingredients
175g of butter
260g of all purpose gluten free flour
1 tsp of xantham gum
80g of lavender sugar
1 tbs of lemon juice or lemon zest if you prefer
Cream the sugar and butter together using an electric whisk, stir in the lemon. Add the flour through a sift and combine until you a thick dough, knead for a few minutes by hand before transferring to some greaseproof paper. Roll dough out to about 1cm thick and cut using a cookie cutter of choice. I got about 12 biscuits using a 7cm wide cutter.

Bake for about 25 minutes at 160 Celsius, mine is a fan oven so a 180 if using a gas or no fan, until golden brown. Leave to cool, as an optional extra you can sprinkle with golden caster sugar whilst they are cooling.
Your biscuits should be light and crumbly with a hint of lemon and lavender, if you prefer a stronger flavour then add an extra teaspoon of lemon or lavender or both to the creamed sugar. Alternatively you can use lemon or lavender essence in place of fresh ingredients.

 Enjoy with some rose flavoured tea .

Chicken and Mango Corn Couscous Salad

It’s been a while since I’ve done a recipe, so I decided to raid the kitchen cupboard and test run some new to me gluten free products I’ve been meaning to try for ages. I missed couscous mainly because it’s so easy to make and also as either a side or a main. So the weather has been quite warm recently, so I decided to make a refreshing and healthy salad, that is perfect for summer.

Ingredients

Corn Couscous
Mango peeled and cubed
Chicken Breast (1 per a person)
Yuzu  Marinade
Cucumber, peeled and chopped
Salad leaves
Fresh Mint
1 Small Pomegranate

Dressing

Salt pepper
Olive Oil
Juice of one lemon.

Prep and cooking time: Approx 30mins

Method

Fry the chicken breasts in a griddle pan lightly coated with oil until cooked, when cooked, take out, chop in to cubes coat with a few tablespoon of Yuzu seasoning and return to the pan for a few minutes.

Whilst the chicken breast is cooking, line the plate with a bed of salad leaves and prepare the corn couscous as per the instructions.

Once the couscous is cooked place in the centre of the the plate. Add the mango, cucumber and cooked chicken, sprinkle with a some pomegranate seeds, chopped mint and marinade. This dish also works just as well with papaya. To make the marinade, add a tablespoon of olive oil to the juice of one lemon and some salt and pepper and whisk until mixed.

I have to say corn couscous is a very good substitute for regular couscous which is usually made from semolina or durum wheat, it has a slightly more crunchy texture but I quite like that.

Enjoy!

Heart Beet Cake!

heart beet cake 3//embedr.flickr.com/assets/client-code.js

Heart beet geddit? I will never apologise for my love of play on words and puns but your probably used to that by now. So I’m not a big celebrator of Valentines day, I didn;t even really do a collection for the shop this year but any excuse to bake a cake. As I’m doing lent again this year, mainly to curb my sugar habit and also use up some ingredients in the cupboard I decided to make a beetroot and chocolate cake. This recipe is an amalgamation of several I found on the internet and adapted to use ingredients in my cupboard and to make it dairy and gluten free. This recipe is not egg free but can probably easily be made vegan with a substitute.

heart beet cake ingredients//embedr.flickr.com/assets/client-code.js

Ingredients
250g of Grated beetroot, use beetroot that is freshly boiled or if buying precooked one that is kept in natural juices and not vinegar. Drain off the natural juice for the frosting.
3 eggs (or a substitute)
100g of ground almonds
100g of gluten free self raising flour
85g of vegan dark chocolate
2 tsp of gluten free baking powder
4tbsp of date syrup or agave.
pinch of salt
100ml of coconut oil or low taste veg oil
Method
Pre heat oven to 180 C or 150 if using a fan oven. Melt your chocolate and leave to one side to cool. Beat eggs in a bowl, add date syrup and mix, add oil and mix, finally add chocolate and whisk till blended. Add sifted flour, salt and baking powder and mix, add almonds and beetroot and combine.
Transfer to an oiled baking pan and cook for 30 minutes or until the skewer comes out clean, let cool and serve with fresh fruit and dairy free cream, I use Alpro soya cream.

heart beet cake by natasha de vil//embedr.flickr.com/assets/client-code.js
gluten free heart beet cake served with fruit by natasha de vil//embedr.flickr.com/assets/client-code.js
heart beet cake with fresh fruit//embedr.flickr.com/assets/client-code.js
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An indulgent yet guilt free cake.

Friday Favourites: Chorizo and Puy Lentil Stew

Slow cookers are great, mainly because despite cooking on a high heat, you can still forget about for several hours and it hasn’t disintegrated your dinner into a pile of ash! Also as there is only two if us, it generally means there are leftovers for the next day and we all know the magic of leaving a stew over night makes it taste way better the next day! Working from home means I get to use my slow cooker more which means I can prepare dinner at lunchtime and we don;t have to worry about what to cook when The Goth gets home. It’s also a great way to use up tired looking vegetables or leftover meats from the weekend. I try not to waste food as a rule anyway but this year I’m determined to keep all my waste to a minimum level and re-establish some good thrifty habits.
 

My favourite slow cooker stew is Chorizo and Bean, I usually use black eyed beans but as I want to use up some staples in my cupboards before they go out of date I changed this to a puy lentil stew. I also sometimes use a can of baked beans. Last week I discovered that Red lentils are one of my trigger foods and now have to avoid them but I prefer puy lentils for taste and texture anyway, so I’m not sure what my point is.

When cooking I don’t tend to measure out of weigh my ingredients, so you will find most of my recipes are more of a guideline than an actual recipe! Besides with a stew, specified amounts aren’t really required and it’s all down to matter of taste and preference. As always this recipe is made using gluten free ingredients.

Base:

Two cloves of Garlic sliced
Lentils/beans of choice (precooked)
Tablespoon of mixed herbs
Pinch of salt and pepper
1 pint stock using a gluten free veg stock cube
You can also add onions but they are a trigger food for me.
Two table spoons of tomato paste or a small jar of tomato sauce
Mushroom
Chorizo, I use a quite spicy chorizo so no extra spice needed unless you like it very spicy! To make a vegan version, substitute the chorizo with a tablespoon of chipotle paste.

Vegetables

Basically you can use what you like but I always use at least one root vegetable like a turnip or parsnip but here’s what I generally use.

One small turnip or parsnips
Two medium carrots
Orange or yellow pepper
Aubergine

 Add everything to the pot and cook on high for about six hours, stir occasionally to mix up the flavours.

Serve with corn bread or as we did on National Cheese day, grilled cheese toasties!!

Friday Favourites: Spicy Bubble and Squeak

So on Sunday I fancied a massive chicken roast dinner with all the vegetables! We bought a reduced price corn fed chicken, so a bargain but rather massive but so many leftover options. Having come down with a cold and cough I been trying to blast it out of my system with hot spices, so on Monday I used up some of the chicken and vegetables and added a jar of Jalfrezi sauce (totally lazy I know). With the left over potatoes, carrots and parsnips, I mashed them up and mixed them with leftover broccoli and cauliflower to make bubble and squeak. I added some gluten free flour as the vegetables were steamed and made the mixture a little wet. I also added a tablespoon of Caribbean everyday spice mix to give them a little kick!
Made them into patties, rolled in flour and fried in some oil for a few minutes on each side until golden brown.
 Serve with Gluten Free Naan Bread.

So a bit of a short post this Friday but a new firm favourite in this household, not only cuts down on waste but also a perfect dish for winter.
How do you use up your leftovers?