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). 

Barley Cup Review and Recipe Ideas

What is this I hear you ask?  Well I was intrigued to, and therefore very excited when the lovelies at  Barleycup offered me some to try out. With Barley in the name I was a little skeptical to whether it was gluten free, but guess what ( and rejoice ) it is.     

  
In fact this is what Barley Cup say on their website about the products. 

Barleycup is a delicious range of instant gluten-free drinks made from roasted cereals and chicory root. All Barleycup beverages are gluten-free and have been certified by Coeliac UK. A special process is used to separate the gluten and the products are regularly tested by an accredited laboratory to ensure that the gluten levels do not exceed 10mg/kg**.

 To start off I thought I’d try It as a drink, 2 teaspoons of Barleycup mixed with just off boiling water, and I added a splash of milk. The verdict is I liked it, the organic and original both taste like a very mild coffee, but without the caffeine. Probably my favourite was the barley cup with dandelion. There is the extra, slightly sweeter flavour that adds to the drink as a whole. Incidently all versions work wonderfully as a latte, and the even bigger news was that the product has not aggravated my coeliac disease what do ever. 

I’ve also been experimenting with recipes using Barleycup. Below is my first attempt at a ( sort of) gluten free, nut free and dairy free malt loaf. Now it’s been years since I’ve had soreen, I can’t really remember the taste but I do remember the ‘squidge’. I’ve got to play one more time to go for the squidge factor but the taste is amazing ( sorry slight blow of own trumpet ). I promise as soon as its perfected the recipe will be up on this post. 

  

Other ideas I’ve had are mocha type smoothie and chia seed pudding. I’ll keep you posted on how they go. 

So would I recommend Barleycup? You bet I would, it’s a gluten free, caffeine free drink that tastes delicious and is proving to be versatile in its uses as well. Thumbs up all round. 

  
Disclaimer: Barleycup sent me these products to try, all thoughts and ideas are entirely my own. 

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. 

    Chocolate (Green) Smoothie

    Hello, hello, hello I’m back ( or BT has finally fixed our phone line). anyway now normal service can be resumed and I’ve got loads of posts to share with you all, so I best get started. 

      
    This here Is a green smoothie in disguise. It’s perfect for a chocolate fix but has less sugar than some of the other smoothie combinations out there. I’m not going to say  it’s clean, or sugar free etc, sugar is sugar whichever way you look at it, and this has some fruit in. 

    Ingredients 

    • Handful of spinach 
    • Small piece of cucumber
    • 1/2 frozen banana 
    • A few chunks of mango
    • 1tsp of cacao powder 
    • 1/2 tsp maca powder
    • Milk of choice 

    Place all ingredients into your blender/ nutribullet etc and voila there you have your smoothie

      
    Right back to it I’m experimenting with photo backdrops and have some pictures to take. ( it’s one of my aims this year to improve my photography skills). 

    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. 

    Cranberry Sauce 

    Boring title I know, but personally I don’t think you can have a Christmas dinner without cranberry sauce. I know as well that it is easy to open a jar, but I find something deeply satisfying in making it myself. Oh and did I mention it is almost effortless to boot. 

     

    Ingredients 

    • 1 pack of fresh cranberries ( roughly 250g) 
    • 100ml Orange juice and zest if 1 orange
    • 100g caster sugar
    • Optional- a good slug of port. 

    Method

    • Pour the juice,  zest, port and sugar into a pan, heat gently until the sugar has dissolved. 
    • Pour in the cranberries 
    •  Stir in the cranberries and start to simmer. 
    • The cranberries will start to burst when ready. You can either give them a vigorous stir to break them down, or leave them in their glorious half burst textures. 
    • As the sauce cools it will thicken. 

    Serve as part of your Christmas dinner or with Brie in a toasted sandwhich. 

    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 

    Eggnog Smoothie

    Welcome to day 2 of my Blogmas posts. I thought a recipe would go down well for today.  I say a recipe, but that makes this super easy smoothie sound harder yo make than it is.  Fear not it’s incredibly easy and tastes fantastic. 

     Edit   
    To me there is nothing more satisfying that the festive taste of an eggnog, it’s rich and oh so moreish and contains all the right spices that just scream christmas. However I can appreciate as much as the next that A) not everyone likes the idea of eggs in a drink and B) it’s fairly  calorific as a drink, but hey it is christmas so a treat is ok.  With all this in mind this version has all the taste but without the egg or refined sugar. I can’t (and won’t) be jumping on the clean wagon with this. There is still sugar in it- so you know every thing in moderation, but this can be vegan friendly, it’s all down to your choice of milk used. 

    Ingredients

    • 1 frozen banana
    • 2 dates or a dash of maple syrup
    • 1/2 tsp vanilla extract
    • 1/2 tsp ground nutmeg
    • 1/2 tsp ground cinnamon 
    • Top up with milk of your choice ( almond works brilliantly) 

    Put all ingredients into your blender and blitz until well combined.

     Edit   
    Enjoy in between wrapping, putting up decorations or, in my case, as a reward from stopping the cat from wrecking the Christmas tree. Cheers