Easy Lemon and Elderflower Curd. 

It’s that time of the year, the weather is supposedly getting better, and every thing is starting to burst into life.  This means elderflowers are everywhere in the countryside and gardens alike.  Now I’m all for foraging and free food so what better than gather some of these highly scented little flowers and incorporate them into a recipe. 
Elderflower works well with lemon as a flavour combination, think national trust tea rooms, there’s always a lemon and elderflower sponge (  or there was 17 yrs ago when I worked in one). So this got me thinking why not put them together in a curd. 

  
I love lemon curd, the tartness and zing being my favourite, and my broody bum chickens have now snapped out of their recent nest box hogging so we are back up to full egg supplies – boom, curd here we come. ( it’s very easy to make as well). 

Ingredients 

  • 200g caster sugar
  • Juice and zest of 2 unwaxed lemons
  • 55g butter
  • 2 elderflower heads 
  • 2 eggs beaten ( free range are best due to better coloured yolks). 

Method 

  • In a pan over a gentle heat put the butter, sugar, lemon juice, zest and snip off the elderflowers into the pan as well. Try not to use the stalks as they can be bitter. 
  • Melt the butter and let the sugar dissolve
  • Remove from the heat and let seep for about 5 minutes
  • Strain the mixture into a bowl and discard the flowers
  • Have a pan of simmering water and place your bowl on top
  • Stir in the eggs, then keep gently stirring until the mixture thickens ( it should coat the back of a spoon) 
  • Take off the heat and pour into sterilised jars

  
So there you have it, super easy and delicious, all I can add is that the delicate flavour of the elderflowers adds a summery twist to an old classic,  so relax and enjoy some on some toast or crumpets ( or anything else that takes your fancy). 

Easter Brownie Cheesecake- Guest Post

With Easter fast approaching what better excuse for chocolate? I hasten to add that is my excuse, and I’m sticking to it. I admit before children Easter wasn’t a grand affair in our household, we rejoiced about a 4 day weekend, had a family roast and chocolate eggs ( obviously). However now mini me is a bit older we tend to make a bit more of a day of it ( wish me luck this year is our first Easter bonnet parade). 

So I’ve digressed but my point is that Easter Sunday will come, I’ve got a houseful and for those that has given up their favourites for lent, then a special dessert is in order, and a make ahead, easy chocolate cheesecake is one of my favourite. 

The base is a rich, gooey brownie, the top a baked cheesecake. The result is amazing- the best of both worlds in one satisfying dessert.  The added bonus is you can adapt this to suit your requirements. Mine is nut and gluten free, but you can make it cleaner and vegan ( use sweet potato brownie and raw cheesecake topping)  or easier ( use packet mix brownie) it is up to you, there really is no right or wrong. 

 

Gluten Free Brownie Cheesecake

  • Servings: 8-10
  • Time: 6hours
  • Difficulty: moderate
  • Print

A perfect dessert for an Easter gathering.

 

Ingredients

-packet of brownie mix or
-110g unsalted butter
-110g chocolate
-1/2 tsp salt
-180g caster sugar
-60g  gluten free plain flour
-40 g teff flour
-2 eggs 
-50 ml milk

For the cheesecake 

-700g  full fat cream cheese

-3 eggs

-250g caster sugar

-1tsp vanilla extract 

-120ml  Greek yoghurt or creme fraiche 

Directions 

  1. Preheat the oven to 180 and line a 9 inch spring form case. 
  2. Melt the butter and chocolate in a bowl over a pan of simmering water, when almost melted give a good stir and set aside for about 5 minutes
  3. With an electric whisk beat the eggs, sugar and milk into the chocolate.
  4. Stir in the flour until just combined
  5. Pour into your tin and cook for 20-25 minutes. Don’t worry if it’s not completely cooked as your cake will have phase to in the oven
  6. Turn the oven down to 160 and mix together all the cheesecake ingredients. 
  7. Pour the cheesecake mixture on top of the brownie and return to the oven. 
  8. Cook for a further 35-40 minutes. The top will give a firm wobble 
  9. Leave to cool for 2 hours in the oven
  10. Leave in the tin and then cool put in the fridge for 4 hrs or over night before you decorate. 

 

    Et voila there you have it. Thank you for reading my post, and have an egg-cellent ( sorry) Easter. 

    This is my guest post for Natreco a really great site that sells a host of free from, vegan and natural products. Pop over and have a look if you have time. 

    Strawberry and Vanilla Cheesecake Gluten Free

    I admit I’ve had strawberries on the brain this last week.  In my efforts on embracing the good life the vegetable plot is growing, and strawberries are one of this years projects.  My new plants are in, and we are waiting for them to grow.  However in the mean time, what better excuse for a free from cheesecake? Oh and we had a houseful for Mother’s Day and cheesecake is always a winner. Plus this is a no bake cheesecake so it’s easy to make as well. 

    My error with this was that I personally think it would be better in an 8 inch tin, but I misplaced mine so the 9 inch had to be the tin of choice ( I don’t  think my guests noticed anyway). 

      

    Ingredients 

    Base

    • 250g biscuit I used gullon as they are nut free. You can click Here to buy them. 
    • 80g melted butter

    Filling

    • 600g  full fat cream cheese
    • Juice of 1/2 lemon
    • 100 g icing sugar
    • 200ml double cream 
    • 1/2 tsp vanilla essence. 

    Method

    • Crush the biscuits either in a bag with a rolling pin, or in a food processor
    • Add the melted butter and pulse until you have a damp rubble.
    • Press into the base of a spring closing cake tin and leave to set in the fridge for 30 minutes. 

      

    • For the filling whisk the cream cheese, sugar, lemon juice and vanilla together. 
    • I whisk the double cream separately until it forms stiff peaks. Then gently combine this with the cream cheese mixture. 
    • Put this on top of your biscuit base and leave to set in the fridge ideally overnight. 
    • I decorated with fresh strawberries and mini meringue kisses. 

      

      

    Gluten Free Tiger Cake. 

    As you may, or may not know, I have a three year old.  Those of you with kids will ( probably) tell you how, at times, the toddler years can be challenging, and I’m not just talking about allergies. 

    I’ll paint you a picture, currently the obsession of LR is Thomas The Tank, Dinosaurs, Paw Patrol ( the theme tune makes my ears bleed) and animals. Which leads us on to the fact my birthday is this week and she thought it would be great if I have a birthday cake. Only Thing was madam thought a tiger cake would be great. Now if it’s anything like the dinosaur I attempted the other week, the cake was going to be a car crash- trying to explain that to a head strong tot was even worse.   The stropometer reached a level I think we have never seen before, and quite frankly I’ve no desire to see again.

    So why am I babbling about my cake decorating disasters? Well the compromise was a tiger cake in the form of stripes ( sort of ) with chocolate and vanilla layers to look ( sort of) like a tiger,  and LO was promised to be able to like the bowl so the actual cooking could commence. 

      
     Don’t worry about the vanilla sponge looking a rather odd colour, yours will look great, ours had the addition of orange food colouring to add to the tiger theme. 

    Ingredients 

    • 4 eggs
    •  100ml milk ( of choice) 
    • 250 ml oil I have used either coconut or sunflower
    • 250g caster sugar 
    • 1tsp vanilla extract 
    • 475g self raising flour ( I use Doves farm Gluten free) as a side note you can sub 75g of flour for ground almond which helps make the cake moist we don’t due to nut allergies. 
    • 25g Cocoa or raw cacao powder. 
    • 1tsp baking powder

    Method 

    • Preheat oven to 180C /Gas Mark 4 
    • Line a 23cm cake tin 
    • Lightly beat the eggs then mix with the milk, oil and vanilla extract. Add 175 g of flour and whisk until smooth
    • Get 2 bowls pour half this mixture in 1 along with 1/2 tsp baking powder and another 175g of flour
    • In the other pour the rest, add the cocoa powder, 1/2 tsp baking powder and the remaining flower. 
    • In the centre of your tin put 2 large spoonfuls of white mixture, then the same of chocolate directly on top. Keep doing this until the tin is full

      

    • Don’t worry if it’s not perfect circles I had to improvise a bit at the side but it adds to the effect of the cake. 
    • Put in the oven and cook for 40-50 minutes or until an inserted skewer comes out clean. 
    • I let it cool for 10 mins in the tin before transferring to a wire rack to cool completely. 

      

    Et voila there you have your marble ( I mean tiger) cake. My only notes to add would be that I think it would look great decorated as a chocolate drippy edge cake with the full works in terms of a mountain of chocolates on top.  

    It’s better eaten fairly quickly as well, I find the gluten free version has a tendency to go dry quite quickly, but it goes wonderfully with a cup of tea, and I fact the dry sponge I made into a chocolate and orange trifle….. Buts that’s another post. 

    Bircher ( Overnight Oats) Bowl 

    Hmmm so how’s 2017 going for everyone? Not bad for us this end, although losing a dear friend has been a blow.  However this is not a post intended on depressing you all, on the contrary the year is still young, opportunities are a plenty and my popcorn machine is on standby for me to pull up my chair and watch the comedy/ horror/ disaster movie that is Trump ( I’m childish and still snigger at his name) going into the Oval Office. 

    I’m sorry, I’m sorry I’m supposed to be keeping you all uplifted, well you will need energy to do this…..and this breakfast is perfect for that. I love ( gluten free) oats, they are filling, good for you, and versatile. What’s not to like? 

      

      The best thing about over night oats is that there is no right or wrong way to eat them, any flavour or combination work, they can be as clean ( or dirty??) as you want them to be, and can be made the night before. This is the real winner for me, as it saves precious time on that early morning rush….

    Ingredients 

    • 1/2 cup rolled oats ( or gluten free oats) 
    • 1/2 cup milk of choice
    • 1/2 cup of yoghurt or choice 
    • 1-2 tsp chia seeds ( optional) 
    • I dessert spoon raisins 
    • Sweeten with honey or maple syrup or Apple juice ( to suit your palate ) 
    • Topping of choice 

    Mix the oats, milk, yoghurt, chia and sweetner together and leave for 6-8 hours in the fridge. 

    In the morning add to a jar ( or bowl) and have fun with your toppings. 

      

    Have you tried over night oats? What’s your favourite flavour combinations? Let me know in the comments below. 

    Allergy Friendly Cupcakes 

    Welcome one and all ( old English christmas speak ) to Blogmas day five. I hope the new week brings you some more festive cheer, me on the other hand have a beauty of a cold and a three year old to entertain. It wasn’t fairing too well but we hit on a winner with baking cupcakes. 

    They are easy to make and if your kids are like mine then the decorating will keep them entertained for a bit, then you get another 5-10 minutes for eating their creations – result. I take no credit for the recipe either, it’s adapted from your traditional sponge recipe just made allergy friendly. 

    I’ll reiterate that mini me did a lot of the decorating, but to add on a more serious note Waitrose Christmas cake decorations are largely free of gluten, nuts and soya. B&M have gluten free cupcake toppers to. 

      

    Ingredients 

    • 125g self raising flour
    • 125g caster sugar
    • 125g butter ( or dairy free alternative) 
    • 2 eggs
    • 1tsp vanilla extract 

    Method

    • Preheat oven to 180 degrees
    • Cream together butter and sugar
    • Add the eggs one at a time. 
    • Add vanilla extract
    • Sift in flour and stir until well combined. 
    • Put in cupcake cakes and bake in the oven until well risen and firm to touch. (15 minutes roughly) 
    • Cool on a wire rack and decorate to your hearts content. 

    After all that hard work, have a well earned 5 minutes eating one of these creations until your kids utter the dreaded words “I’m bored!!!” 

    That’s it from me for now. Have a great evening and I’ll be back tomorrow x 

    My November Favourites 

    Happy 1st of December, excited yet? Yes I am to, also very selfishly I cannot wait to open my advent calendar ( M&S beauty one in case you were wondering). I love Christmas so I’ve decided ( foolishly probably) to do Blogmas as well. You can expect recipes, ideas, reviews and a giveaway to. 

     

    I digress this is about November, or my favourite finds anyway. 

    First up Aldi, or their new free from section anyway.  Christmas wise they have mince pies, Christmas puddings and cakes all gluten free. The free from range in my local store is growing, and includes Newburn BakeHouse and Nairns. The prices are amazing  £1.29 for flour ( although I’ve not tried it yet) seems a great buy. The downside is that not all stores have the range yet, as some of my followers have sadly told me. Fingers crossed it will continue to be rolled out. 

     Next up is a new company Angels and Cookies they offer allergy friendly cookie dough free from the top 14 allergens, and what’s more they are delicious so if you fancy a treat for Christmas Eve grab some and get baking. 

      
    Next up is Moma Bircher muesli. I found via Ocado but they sell direct to. It’s great add your juice and yoghurt leave for minimum of 5-10 minutes and eat. No added sugar either. My only down side is it has a may  contain with nuts but in fairness I keep mine at work so not a problem. 

    A few more things to add, Sainsburys have both gluten free, dairy free and nut free Christmas puddings and cake ( I’ll add a picture when I get them) and keep an eye open at M&S their party food is coming in and a lot is gluten free. My personal favourites are the mini chicken Kiev and Asian belly pork. 

    That’s it from me today, I’m back to the hell of trying to find a Hatchimal and de icing the car. See you tomorrow. 

    Review- Angels & Cookies Cookie Dough 

      
      The name is romantic, the logo vintage, the products are super and free from the top 14 allergens. Say hello to Angels and Cookies a new company on the free from scene.  

      Their product is raw cookie doughs in 3 flavours Chocolate Fudge, Chocolate Chip and Ginger & Spice. All come ready to bake and each pot can make roughly 6 large or 12 small cookies ( £7.99 a pot).   The lovely people from Angels and Cookies sent me some goodies to try and get creative with- so here are my thoughts. 

    They are extremely easy to bake, preheat your oven to 180c. I took the dough out of the fridge 15 minutes before using it. You then divide it into however many cookies you want. Roll into a ball and then flatten.  You can also roll the dough between baking parchment to get a thinner biscuit, which is ideal for then cutting with a cookie cutter. 

     

    Cook for 12-15 minutes. Leave to cool on a cooling rack before tucking in. 

      
    So how do they taste? In short delicious. My particular favourite is the ginger, if you go for large and soft baked it’s wonderful with a cup of coffee. If you go for a thinner, crispy biscuit you then have a perfect ginger snap ( which dunked really well). The smell whilst cooking was amazing, just perfect for the Christmas season. 

    Mini me favoured the chocolate fudge, it’s satisfying for a chocolate hit, but not overly sweet or full of sugar like shop bought ones can be. I made sandwhich cookies with a chocolate buttercream filling, and they were exceptional ( my take on an Oreo if you will). 

    Lastly Choc chip, well what’s not to like? They taste better than supermarket cookies I’ve tried in the past- no artificial aftertaste in your mouth.  The chocolate is dark, the dough is plain, mixed together they are a match made in heaven.  I’ve not yet tried, but I can see this working well in a home made ice cream. It’s up there on my to try list- I cannot remember the last time I had cookie dough ice cream. 
       

     
       I throughly recommend this cookie dough, as does the biggest critic of them all – my 3 year old. I have to  say she also enjoyed the baking element of the process to, and I can feel better knowing  that most of the ingredients are ( where possible) organic and free of nasties. 

    Have you tried this cookie dough yet? If so let me know about your creations in the comments below.     

    Green Banana Flour

    Am I going bananas? It this a thing? Well ( some would argue yes to both if they know me) green banana flour is the latest grain free flour to hit the ever growing “free from” market.  I can hear health fashionistas jumping for joy from here.  However my burning question was what is it exactly, and do I need to try it/ incorporate it into our allergen riddled lifestyle? 

    I’m interested both personally, and professionally, I’m often asked about diet and lifestyle and giving advice to patients, so I was keen to find out. That and by nature I’m quite inquisitive so one no show the other afternoon had me looking at the research. 

    In the green phase banana has a high starch/ resistant starch content. This type of carbohydrate isn’t as quickly absorbed by the body- keeping us feeling fuller for longer, and helping to regulate insulin levels ( Bras et al 2013).  Also by nature it is high in potassium and gluten, dairy and nut free. 

      
    Natural Evolution kindly sent me some flour to experiment with, and I’ve had great fun with some creations. It is a difficult flour to get to grips with in baking, you need less than conventional flour and a fair amount of liquid. Bear with it though. It gives a lovely almost nutty taste and a fairly light fluffy texture.   My tip ( as advised by Natural Evolution ) was to start out trying a spoonful in your smoothie, it provides  a thicker texture and I swear I felt more satisfied after, which is a bonus in a morning if you are In a rush. 
    So my next trial was a cake, and being autumn, coupled with the fact we grew a lot of apples I decided on a spiced apple cake.  This works well either on its own ( with a coffee obviously) or as a pudding with custard. The nutty taste of the flour also lends itself well to spices like cinnamon and mixed spice. 

    Ingredients 

    • 140g banana flour
    • 50g brown rice flour
    • 150 g sugar of choice (caster, stevia etc) 
    • 1tsp gf baking powder 
    • 1/2 tsp xanthum gum
    • 1tsp cinnamon
    • 1/2 tsp mixed spice 
    • 3 eggs
    • 1 cup of oil eg, coconut, vegetable or grape seed ( I used coconut) 
    • 1/2 cup of milk of choice
    • 1-2 sweet apples. 

    Method 

    • Preheat your oven to 180 and line a cake tin. 
    • Melt your oil if using coconut. 
    • Mix dry ingredients together. 
    • Beat the eggs and add to the oil. 
    • Mix wet and dry together. 
    • The mixture goes like a crumbly dough- add your milk at this point and mix well. 
    • If it’s still a bit dry add some more milk a splash at a time until a smooth batter is achieved
    • Pour half into a tin and add a layer of Apple. 
    • Cover with the rest of the mixture
    • Bake for 35-40 minutes or until a skewer comes out clean. 
    • Leave to cool in the tin for ten minutes then transfer to a rack. 

      

    Serve and enjoy.

      

    Have you tried green banana flour yet? What are your thoughts or tips? Let me know in the comments below. 

    Easy Slow Cooker Rice Pudding 

     
      Hello to you all, apologies to being a bit quiet, I got married on Sunday so the last week or so has been a whirlwind of flowers, organising catering, hair, makeup and celebrations.  All went well, we are very happy, but when the new week started my head was still sore, my feet hurt, and we had visitors – cooking wasn’t  top of the list.  

    However all was not lost, it’s autumn ( or Fall for my American readers) which for me means slow cooker season. Now I love my slow cooker, and don’t be deceived that they are just for stews- oh no, and I shall show you here. 

    Rice pudding, in 4 hours with no effect ( or skin, I hate the skin). It’s thick and creamy, perfect for the cooler evenings ( and hangovers). 

      

    Serves 4-6 

    Ingredients

    • 100g pudding rice
    • 3 pints of milk of choice ( dairy or almond work well) 
    • 4tbs of sugar
    • 1 tsp of vanilla extract 
    • 1 generous  knob of butter 

    Method,

    This couldn’t be easier, place everything in your slow cooker, turn on high and leave for 3-4 hours until thick and creamy. 

    Serve and eat straight away.