Vegan brownies that don’t suck

Posted on June 6, 2021 at 12:41 pm in

A daring title, but I have cracked it. I can also make them keto friendly. Oh, and by the way? It’s gluten free, too!

  • 4 tablespoons ground flax
  • 1/2 cup / 120ml water
  • 1 tablespoon vanilla
  • 4oz / 112g cocoa butter
  • 1 cup / 200g allulose or similar keto friendly sugar
  • 1 cup / 220g brown sugar or keto friendly substitute
  • 1 and 1/3 cups / 125g almond flour
  • 2/3 teaspoon xanthan gum
  • 2/3 teaspoon psyllium husk powder
  • 85g cocoa powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1 tsp baking powder
  • Blend the ground flax with the water and vanilla and set to one side.

    Cream the sugars with the cocoa butter. Add the flax and vanilla mix.

    Sift the remaining dry ingredients together. Slowly add the dry ingredients into the creamed ingredients until fully incorporated.

    Pour your batter into a well greased square baking pan, and only then start preheating your oven to 350F / 180C. By waiting till now to heat the oven you give the binder time to activate, which will contribute to the lift.

    Bake for 35 to 40 minutes, remove from oven, allow to cool for 10 minutes before turning out. Cut a slice and enjoy.

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    Pickled Eggs

    Posted on June 6, 2021 at 12:15 pm in

    Pickled eggs. Easy, right? Eggs, vinegar, how hard can it be?

    That’s a fair point. It’s pretty much that easy. But as always, there are some details that can help to know.

    Pickle brine ingredients for 12 large eggs.

  • 1 cup / 240ml water
  • 1 cup / 240ml vinegar
  • 1 tablespoon pickling spice
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • Put all ingredients together in a saucepan. Bring to a boil, cut the heat, and let the brine steep overnight while your 12 hard boiled eggs are chilling out in the fridge.

    Next day, peel the eggs and place in a suitable container. Pour the brine over via sieve to remove the spices. Allow the eggs to steep in the brine for between 1 and 7 days. The longer they steep, the deeper into the egg the brine flavour will penetrate. Eat out of hand, chopped into a salad, or turn it into pickled egg salad.

    Simple, right? Hah! Hold on a minute. Which vinegar do you use?

    Unsurprisingly the vinegar you use directly affects the flavour. Here’s the ones I tested with:

    white vinegar: sharply tangy, the gold standard of vinegar, but no real flavour
    white wine vinegar: a touch more flavour than white vinegar, but not a lot more
    red wine vinegar: more flavour than either the above, also stains the eggs a fetching red
    malt vinegar: richer than red wine, stains the eggs a rather nice brown (NOTE: NOT GLUTEN FREE)
    balsamic vinegar: oh, so much going on here! Caramel flavours as well as staining the egg white an astonishing black! Also astonishing is what happens to the vinegar: it goes transparent as the eggs absorb almost all of the colour from the vinegar

    Over to you. What vinegar do you prefer?

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    Keto friendly British sponge pudding

    Posted on March 25, 2021 at 2:25 pm in

    What I’m writing here is an incomplete recipe. This is because the sheer diversity of British sponge puddings is ridiculous, so I’d rather give you the basic recipe that you can tweak with any of the eleventy zillion different options.

    Chocolate sponge, jam sponge, chocolate, and did I mention chocolate? Yum yum. All tweaks from this base recipe.

    And yes, it’s keto friendly and gluten free, not that you can tell once it’s cooked. It’s just delicious.

  • 1 stick of butter – 4oz, 112g
  • 4oz / 112g monkfruit, erithrytol, or other keto sweetener
  • 4oz / 112g almond flour
  • 2 tablespoons coconut flour
  • 1 teaspoon baking powder
  • Optional add-ins such as chocolate chips, cocoa powder, etc
  • 1/2 teaspoon xanthan gum
  • 1/2 teaspoon psyllium husk powder
  • 1/4 tsp salt
  • 2 large eggs
  • Cream the butter and sweetener together. Add all the dry ingredients and blend until fully incorporated. Add the eggs at a time and blend until fully incorporated.

    Place the sponge into a suitable pudding basin – plastic or glass – that you have lightly buttered. If you’re adding extras such as jam, place it in the bottom of the pudding basin.

    Allow the batter to rest for 20 minutes before you move to the next step. This will allow the binders to activate.

    Microwave on full power (based on 700 Watt microwave) for 6 minutes. Allow to rest for 5 minutes while you whip up a batch of fresh custard.

    Enjoy!

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    Keto friendly chocolate sponge pudding

    Posted on March 8, 2021 at 10:24 am in

    Look, America, you are responsible for lots of good stuff.

    But your understanding of “pudding” is desperately bad. It’s not just yellow flavour or brown flavour. It’s so much more.

    And here’s an example. It’s rich, decadent, chocolatey goodness. It’s keto friendly, so low carb. And it’s … well, it’s brown. Shut up!

  • 6oz / 170g unsalted butter
  • 6oz / 170g erithrytol or other keto friendly sweetener, or sugar
  • 3 large eggs, beaten
  • 140g / 1.5 cups almond flour
  • 1 tsp baking powder
  • 1/2 tsp xanthan gum, or equivalent
  • 1.25oz / 35g cocoa powder
  • 1 tsp vanilla (optional)
  • heavy pinch salt (optional)
  • cream the butter and sugar together. Beat in the eggs. Stir the next 3 ingredients together and beat into the butter and eggs. Add a little milk, cream, or water if the mix doesn’t come together or if it seems dry.

    Allow the batter to sit for 15 minutes before cooking to allow the xanthan gum to activate.

    Place in a greased bowl, pudding bowl, or basin that can accommodate at least 1 litre / 1 quart, to allow room for any expansion. Steam for 1 hour, or microwave for 5 to 10 minutes or until the top is just set.

    Allow the pudding to sit in its cooking container for 10 minutes while you whip up some cream or custard to serve it with.

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    Cheese pie

    Posted on March 2, 2021 at 9:02 am in

    What kind of filling should you put into your lovely keto friendly pie crust? A keto frendly filling, such as cheese pie.

    To pre-empt a possible question, “what is the difference between cheese pie and quiche?” Simply the ratio of ingredients and the intention. With quiche the intention is to showcase and enhance the custard. With cheese pie it’s all about the cheese, with the other ingredients being there to support the cheese.

    This is a non-recipe. Ingredients are very much played by ear. Allow yourself to go with what feels good, rather than sweating precision – just like quiche and frittata, cheese pie is fridge velcro.

    SHREDDED CHEESE
    You want a bunch of it, at least a half pound / quarter kilo. What cheese? Up to you. I usually have young Cheddar, aged Cheddar, and bulk parmesan. Want to make it with cream cheese and blue cheese? Go for it! Just make sure the cream cheese is softened and beaten so that it will integrate properly with the rest of the ingredients.

    EGGS
    You’ll want 3 or 4 large eggs. Beat them with a little milk, cream, or water. Season lightly with salt and pepper.

    OTHER INGREDIENTS
    You can bulk out the ingredients by addition of pantry staples such as dried potato flakes, cooked crumbled bacon, or any fresh or cooked veggies you have lying around the fridge. Only add herbs and spices where they will enhance the cheese. Spicy chili peppers will drown out most cheeses, so this is not the recipe for them.

    ASSEMBLY
    Assemble your cheese in your crust in reverse order of strength, from weakest flavour to strongest. I put the bulk orange Cheddar in first, followed by parmesan, then the strong mature Cheddar on top. You might want to keep a little of the strong cheese back to sprinkle artistically on top of the eggs.

    Pour the eggs over the cheese. The eggs are here to provide support for the cheese, not to be the feature ingredient.

    COOKING TIME
    You want to cook this hotter and longer than a quiche, because you have a lot of cheese to melt. I generally go with a 375f / 190c oven for 30 to 40 minutes, or until the cheese topping has picked up some nice colour. The custard should be firm set.

    SERVING YOUR CHEESE PIE
    Serve it hot or cold. Feel free to put on whatever fancy toppings you like such as chopped parsley, crumbled bacon, or even more cheese. I won’t judge you!

    CONCLUSION
    Cheese pie is all about making a lot of food dirt cheap for those times when there is a bit too much month left before payday. Play around with the ratios and the cheese blends, but always bear in mind this is cheese pie. Allow the cheese to stand front and centre.

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    Keto friendly pie crust

    Posted on March 2, 2021 at 8:36 am in

    Low carb, flaky pie crust. Just what you need!

    This recipe makes one 9 inch pie crust.

  • 1.5 cups / 144 grams almond flour
  • 4 tablespoons / 56 grams butter, cubed
  • 1 oz / 28 g cream cheese
  • 1 tsp apple cider vinegar
  • 1 large egg
  • 1/4 tsp salt (optional)
  • Add the first 3 ingredients to your food processor or mixer. Mix until they form something that looks like coarse wet sand. Add the rest of the ingredients and blend until they come together.

    No food processor or mixer? No problem, use a pastry knife or a couple of table knives to chop everything together into a lovely mess.

    Roll the dough into a ball and cover with plastic wrap. Chill in the fridge for a couple of hours to allow the butter and the cheese to get completely chilled.

    To make your pie crust, form it into your pie pan with your hands. Rolling it out is a spectacularly messy process, so go for the more rustic look of hand shaping it in place.

    Preheat your oven to 350f / 180c and blind bake the crust for 15 minutes – place baking parchment or foil over the crust and fill the parchment with weights such as baking beads, dry beans, or dry rice. After 15 minutes pull the parchment / foil and weights off the crust and bake for another 5 to 10 minutes or until your crust is golden brown and delicious looking.

    Fill and bake as normal with your preferred fillings.

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    Paggis – pork haggis

    Posted on February 18, 2021 at 8:02 pm in

    Shh, don’t tell anyone in Scotland but… I made haggis from pork instead of lamb. I know, it’s probably sacrilege, but pork is a fraction of the price of lamb, and simple economics dictate that if I want delicious haggisness, it needs to be in a reasonable price bracket. So… paggis! (And thank you to kiddo for naming it – good job, kiddo)

    The strangest thing about making this was that as soon as I added the spices to the oats, I knew it was haggis. Some dishes are defined by their spice mix, and haggis is definitely one of them.

  • 2 lb / 900 g coarse ground pork
  • 1/2 large onion, chopped however you prefer
  • 2 tbsp butter
  • 1/2 lb / 225 g oats
  • 1 tsp ground allspice
  • 1 tbsp coarse salt
  • 1.5 tsp ground black pepper
  • 1.5 tsp mustard powder
  • Cook the onion in the butter until it is softened and slightly translucent. Add the spices, seasonings, and oats. Add a little water to wet the oats very slightly, a couple of tablespoons or so, then set to one side to cool.

    Grind the pork coarsely. Add the oats and spices mix and blend with your hands until it comes together into a sticky mess.

    Place the sticky mess into a zip top bag, or seal into a sous vide vacuum bag. If you aren’t going to cook it immediately, place it in your fridge until you’re ready to cook.

    Set your sous vide to 180F / 82C, or set a large pan on medium-low heat. Cook for 3 hours. Let it rest for 10 to 20 minutes while you get the side dishes sorted. Traditional haggis is served with neeps and tatties (turnips and mashed potatoes), but this is paggis. I served it with mixed veg and braised cabbage, but you should serve whatever side dishes you prefer!

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    Keto friendly chocolate syrup

    Posted on February 18, 2021 at 1:54 pm in
  • 1 cup / 240ml water
  • 1/2 cup / 120ml cocoa powder
  • 1/3 cup / 80ml no sugar granular sweetener of your choice
  • pinch salt
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla
  • Add the first 4 ingredients to a small saucepan. Bring to a boil, then simmer for 5 minutes or until thickened. Add vanilla and stir to incorporate.

    MOCHA COFFEE
    Add 2 to 4 tablespoons of this syrup to your coffee and top with foamed milk of your choice.

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    Liver pate

    Posted on February 17, 2021 at 4:54 pm in
  • 8 rashers long streaky bacon
  • 1 pound of calves liver
  • 3 or 4 tablespoons cream or evaporated milk
  • 1 egg (beaten)
  • garlic to taste
  • seasoning to taste
  • Butter a loaf tin and arrange about 5 of the rashers of bacon on the bottom.

    Put the liver and the remainder of the bacon through a mincer twice or until very fine and smooth. Blend with the cream and beaten egg. Season well and put into the tin over the bacon. Cover with foil or buttered paper and stand in a bain-marie (dish of boiling water).

    Cook in the centre of a moderate oven (gas mark 3 / 325F / 170C) for about 45 minutes (check with a skewer to see if cooked through). Allow it to cool to room temperature then turn out of the loaf pan.

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    Nougat

    Posted on February 16, 2021 at 5:50 am in

    Nougat is something I always associated with a sickly sweet, weirdly papery, somewhat stale confection. Freshly home made nougat is far from that, and well worth making at home.

    A couple of warnings. You will be handling sugar syrup, also known as culinary napalm. Please handle with extreme care, you don’t want 3rd degree burns. The second warning is that this stuff is horribly addictive, so beware your waistline!

    2 egg whites, room temperature
    2 3/4 cups granulated sugar (500 g), plus 2 tablespoons
    1 cup / 12 ounces (by weight) honey
    1/3 cup / 80 ml water
    2 tablespoons light corn syrup (optional)
    1 vanilla bean, seeds scraped from inside (optional)
    1 teaspoon vanilla extract
    2 cups add-ins (toasted nuts, seeds, dried fruit, etc)
    special equipment: candy thermometer, pastry brush

    Line a baking sheet with parchment paper, and set aside.

    Use a clean, dry stand mixer to whip the egg whites to stiff peaks with 2 tablespoons of the sugar. In the mean time, in a small saucepan, over medium heat, bring the honey to 250F on a candy thermometer. Also, at the same time, in a medium saucepan, combine the remaining 2 3/4 cups sugar, water, and corn syrup (if using). Over medium heat, bring this mixture to 300F on a candy thermometer. Carefully and gently swirl the mixtures in their pans now and then, use a pastry brush dipped in water to brush any sugar from the sides of the pan. You want the honey to hit its temp first, followed by the sugar shortly thereafter.

    With the mixer running, slowly pour the 250F honey down the side of the bowl into the egg whites. Let the mixer keep running, and as soon as your sugar mixture hits 300F, slowly pour the sugar mixture into the bowl as well, using the same technique (down the side of the bowl). Continue mixing for five minutes or so, until the temperature of the nougat is no longer hot. At this point, stir in the vanilla bean seeds and extract. Remove the bowl from the mixer, and fold in the nuts and seeds by hand.
    Transfer the nougat onto the parchment-line baking sheet, cover with another sheet of parchment and allow to cool completely. Cut into desired shapes (the cleaner you can keep your knife the cleaner your cuts will be), and wrap in squares of parchment paper, or candy wrappers. Store in an air-tight container.

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