Wheat Free Elevenses - Chocolate dipped florentines, coconut & lime macaroons
Wheat messes with a lot of people these days, but that shouldn’t mean you have to go without your biscuity/ cakey elevenses, or that you have to settle for a packet of dusty gluten-free digestives.
These two recipes can be whipped up in no time and last for several days (if you don’t scoff them all before they’ve cooled). They don’t even have to be shared with your pals under the premise of being wheat-free - just make them, eat them and feel smug about your happier tummy.
This recipe is adapted from a David Lebovitz adaptation of an Ottolenghi recipe.
1 large egg white
40g icing sugar
One hearty glug maple syrup
130g of a mixture of mainly sliced almonds, pistachios and hazelnuts (or any other oily nuts)
30g cranberries or sour cherries (optional)
Pinch of sea salt
50g chocolate (it’s up to you whether you prefer dark or milk)
Preheat your oven to 150°C and line a baking tray with baking parchment. Pour a little vegetable oil onto the parchment and spread it around.
In a glass or metal bowl mix together all of your ingredients except for the chocolate. If the mixture is a bit runny, add more nuts else you’ll get a weird meringue like situation in the oven.
Using wet hands place the mixture into blobs on your baking tray. Push the blobs into flatter shapes using a wet fork. Try to make sure there are no holes in your flattened blobs.
Pop the florentines into the oven for 15-20mins under they’re golden all over and all of the nuts seem to be fixed to each other.
Leave until cool then remove from the tray.
Now you can melt your chocolate. I like to use dark chocolate if the florentines are sweet and have berries in, and milk chocolate if they’re salty and nutty. If you don’t want your chocolate to ‘bloom’ then David Lebovitz suggests tempering the chocolate, but to be honest they’ll probably get eaten before that happens so it’s not a necessity.
Once the chocolate has melted, spread some on the base of the florentines using a spatula, then pop them in the fridge to set. Gobble with a big mug of tea.
Coconut and lime macaroons (pictured at the top of the page)
This recipe is adapted slightly from a BBC recipe by Jill Dupliex
2 egg whites
100g caster sugar
140g desiccated coconut
Zest of 2 limes
Juice of 1 lime
As with the florentines, preheat your oven to 150°C and line a baking tray with baking parchment. Pour a little vegetable oil onto the parchment and spread it around.
Mix all of your ingredients together in a glass or metal bowl then shape into evenly sized piles on your baking tray. Try to keep their shape fairly rough so you get nice caramelised edges.
Bake until they are golden all over (20-25mins). If they feel wobbly or that they’re not properly stuck together then turn the heat down a smidge and give them a bit longer.
Leave them to cool, then remove from the tray (they feel a bit firmer after they’ve cooled). Again, gobble with a big mug of tea. Tea goes with everything.
Courgette, artichoke and spelt salad
Just a quick post today with a recipe for a nice spelt salad, which is what I just ate for my lunch. Spelt is lovely - chewy, versatile and much faster to cook than barley. I know barley is cheaper, but I resent standing around boiling it for the entire evening. I have some very important telly-watching to do.
4 baby courgettes (trimmed and sliced in half lengthways)
A handful of pinenuts (toasted)
A handful of spelt
A few semi-dried tomatoes
5 artichoke hearts
Extra virgin olive oil
A handful of basil leaves
Sea salt and black pepper
If you’re using artichoke hearts from a jar, rinse the oil and herbs off first as these can be a bit dull tasting. It’s better to soak them in your own dressing as I think artichokes really work best with a bit of a sharp flavour. In a bowl, mix your artichokes with a bit of extra virgin olive oil, some salt and pepper and the juice of half a lemon (a bit of garlic is good here too). If your hearts are big enough, slice them lengthways into smaller pieces so they’ll go a bit further. Leave them to sit in the dressing whilst you prepare the rest of your salad.
Boil your spelt for about 15-20 minutes then rinse in cold water. Leave to stand in a sieve for a while.
Place your courgettes in a griddle pan with a little oil and heat until you have lovely stripes across them. Turn them over to cook the skin side then remove from the heat.
When all of your ingredients are cool, in a bowl mix together the spelt, the courgettes, the artichokes (save the dressing though) and the semi-dried tomatoes.
For the dressing, finely chop your basil and add it to the olive oil and lemon mixture that you had your artichokes in. Season a little more if needed, them mix into the salad. Finally add your toasted pine nuts and mix.
If you’re having this for tea instead of lunch, serve with some torn up mozzarella and some crusty bread and pretend you’re somewhere sunnier than you are.
(the salad when it was freshly made last night, struggling not to be eaten)
Little Hanoi, Sheffield
Little Hanoi is a brand new Vietnamese restaurant that just opened on London Road in Sheffield. I went along to the ‘soft’ opening on Sunday, and left with a belly full of well cooked, tasty, meat-free food.
Some points that will make vegetarians happy about going to Little Hanoi:
Lots of choice
I’ve been told there are 18 veggie options on the Little Hanoi menu, and although I didn’t count, there are definitely plenty. I think vegetarians should be as spoilt for choice as much as the next person. That’s half the fun of eating out.
Lots of Tofu
I love tofu. It’s totally unappreciated and has earned a bad reputation from hippies and that crap they sell in supermarkets. Proper tofu is brilliant, and Little Hanoi has plenty of it, cooked well - crispy on the outside and custardy in the middle.
The veggie stuff is actually properly labelled
Little Hanoi’s menu clearly shows which dishes use fish sauce, and don’t put a (v) against them even if they are a non-meat dish. This is a mistake a lot of restaurants make. It’s nice to feel confident that you’re not getting some sneaky shrimp in your meal.
New, authentic dishes
It’s boring getting offered the same vegetarian options from restaurant to restaurant, but Little Hanoi has some interesting dishes that I’ve never tried before. For main course I ordered Hot Clay Pot Stew with Aubergine and Tofu (without the peanuts), which is a delicious lemongrass curry, thick with coconut and full of silky aubergine and lots of tofu. I was pretty happy with it, but there’s enough on the menu that I don’t have to have the same thing next time I go.
Little Hanoi looks to be a great addition to the London Road restaurants that welcome vegetarians (I’ve loved Zeugma and Dim Sum for years). It’s also staffed by some very helpful people, so don’t be afraid to ask questions and ask for substitutions (the vegetarian diner’s secret weapon). I’d say Little Hanoi is place a veggie can feel confident and full of good food, which is my favourite state to be in.
Ssam - Tofu Lettuce Wraps
This isn’t an authentic, bang-on recipe for Ssam (the Korean term for wrapping food up in lettuce - usually pork) but is a completely delicious recipe for a tofu version, resembling ‘lettuce wrapped’ which is a starter you can sometimes get at Chinese restaurants. It’s completely delicious, fairly healthy and fast to make, providing you get all of your chopping out of the way before you start to cook.
The key to this dish is plenty of tofu, not being stingy with the garlic, ginger and chilli, and buying a really good Hoisin. I used the Flying Goose brand. If Hoisin isn’t your thing, try Sriracha and prepare for your socks to be blown off.
1 pack firm tofu (pressed then diced)
Veg oil (to fry the tofu)
Light soy (1 teaspoon)
Dark Soy (1 teaspoon)
Sherry vinegar (1/4 teaspoon)
Rice vinegar (1/2 teaspoon)
A pinch of sugar
A big chunk of ginger (about the same quantity as your garlic when finely chopped)
3 garlic cloves (finely chopped)
3 red chillies (finely chopped)
1 carrot (diced)
1 onion (diced)
1 green pepper (diced)
4-6 chestnut mushrooms (depending on size)
1 iceberg lettuce (peeled into cups)
½ cucumber (cut into matchsticks)
A handful of crushed cashews
Press the tofu under a plate for about 15-30mins. If you’re pushed for time this is not essential, but squeezing out any excess water between your flattened hands will help.
Dice the tofu into 1cm pieces and shallow fry in hot vegetable oil until you have golden cubes that are crispy on the outside and custardy on the inside. Set to one side and try not to eat them all.
Finely chop the ginger, garlic and chillies then dice the onions, carrot, green pepper and chestnut mushrooms. You’re looking for uniformity of size in this dish, so try to chop them to a similar size as your tofu pieces.
Slice your cucumber in strips and peel your lettuce so that you have large leafy cups.
Mix together the wet ingredients (the two soy sauces and the two vinegars) and season with black pepper.
Now you’ve done all the prep you’re ready to cook.
In a large pan, fry the garlic, ginger and chillies in some oil until they have softened and smell brilliant.
Add in the onion and saute until softened. Add in the carrot, mushrooms and green pepper and stir until everything is cooked and looks good. Add in the fried tofu cubes and stir to mix in.
Sprinkle over the pinch of sugar and then add in your soy mixture bit by bit until you have a good covering (no need to use it all, you don’t want to swamp your mixture). If it still looks pale add in some more dark soy.
Serve the mixture in your lettuce wraps topped with the cucumber, cashews and a good drizzle of hoisin. Wrap up and eat messily.
(the filling mixture)
(Fresh Cucumber Kimchi being made)
I wrote about vegetarian kimchi a few weeks ago, but I thought it might be helpful to give a more detailed version of what substitutes can be made so that you can avoid fish sauce.
Cucumber Kimchi is probably the easiest and cheapest kimchi to make, and you can eat it after 15 minutes, instead of waiting for several days like you need to with cabbage kimchi. It’s also a really handy pickle to have in the fridge for lunches and side dishes, and goes a surprisingly long way. This recipe is an adapted version of David Chang’s.
Light Soy Sauce
Dark Soy Sauce
Thinly slice 1 large cucumber and place in a bowl. Stir in 1½ teaspoons of sugar and ½ teaspoon of coarse sea salt. Leave for 15 minutes and then drain off any excess water that the cucumbers let out.
Meanwhile, mix together 2 tablespoons of sugar, 1¼ teaspoon of coarse sea salt, 1½ tablespoons of chilli flakes, a big chunk of ginger (cut into matchsticks), 4 gloves of garlic (thinly sliced), 1 tablespoon light soy sauce, 1 tablespoon rice vinegar and a dash of dark soy (these are the replacement ingredients).
Combine the cucumbers and the mixture, adding in 1 spring onion (cut into matchsticks), ¼ normal onion (thinly sliced or mandolined) and a handful of thinly sliced radish.
Mix again and leave for 15 minutes before eating or store in an airtight container for up to 2 weeks.
You can adapt this recipe to your own preferences - up the amount of ginger for something more fragrant or cut down on chilli if you’re having wimpy guests over for tea.
Serve over rice or noodles, as a side dish or just eat whilst standing next to the open fridge.
(a much milder version we made recently)
Baked Eggs Florentine
The day after our wedding reception in Liverpool all I could think about was gorging on eggs, bread and fat (it was a very good party). Luckily, we were staying at the London Carriage Works where their Eggs Florentine comes in a big ramekin and smothered with what I think is Mrs. Kirkham’s Lancashire cheese. Nom.
I’ve been playing around with making my own version at home, but sadly poaching eggs seems to come with a good deal of risk in our house. I’ve eventually found that soft boiled eggs work just as well and mine always turn out perfectly thanks to Delia http://www.deliaonline.com/how-to-cook/eggs/how-to-boil-an-egg.html.
She really knows her eggs.
Bring a large pan of water to a rolling boil. Pierce the bottoms of two medium-large free range eggs with a clean pin. Have a timer ready and place the eggs into the saucepan using a ladle. After 1 minute (or 1.15 if you have large eggs) turn off the heat and place a lid on the pan. Leave for 6 minutes for a runny yolk/ set white. If you have very large eggs leave for another 30 seconds.
Whilst the eggs are cooking, wilt a large handful of spinach in a pan. Add a big knob of butter and season with salt and pepper. Place the spinach in a good sized, ovenproof individual ramekin.
Once the eggs are ready, take them from the pan and place into a bowl of cold water. Peel the eggs (it’s easier if you do this under the water and start at the rounded end that you pierced earlier).
Place the eggs into the ramekin on top of the spinach. Cover the whole dish in a good cheese of your choice - anything strong and melty will do the job. Place under a hot grill until the cheese is golden and bubbly. Serve immediately with crusty bread.
This is what my version of baked eggs florentine looks like, served with a homemade lemon roll.
The perfect hangover breakfast.
It’s been a funny year for asparagus. Bad weather delayed the British season by two weeks, which had me tearing my hair out back at the start of May. Happily though, this means that the season is only just ending and you can still grab a bunch if you’re quick. Most shops are starting to run out of it now, but yesterday I hunted some down in M&S - a British purple variety, which I’d never seen before.
Apparently, purple asparagus is higher in sugar and lower in fibre than the green or white stuff - but it looked pretty, so I bought it. Only the skin is purple, so I shaved mine down to get a nice contrast. Asparagus doesn’t normally need to be shaved, but it helps if you’ve got a particular woody batch.
Disappointingly, the purple hue washed out in the boil a little, even though I like to almost undercook my asparagus. It wasn’t a sweet as I expected either, but it was fresh and tasty. I put my spears with an avocado salad and silently sobbed my way through mouthfuls. I’ll miss you British Asparagus season.
A few weeks ago I made these little beauties - mini loaves made with Västerbottensost, which is a lovely Swedish cheese. I followed Bertinet’s standard bread recipe from Dough, and worked in about 100grams of the cheese, which tastes a bit like a tangier, but softer parmesan. There’s a lot of resting and proving in this recipe, but it’s worth the wait.
To make the standard white bread dough:
500 grams of strong white bread flour
350 grams of water (it needn’t be warm, and is best weighed rather than measured in a jug)
5 grams of dried yeast (10 grams if you’ve been lucky enough to find fresh)
10 grams of sea salt
Mix all the ingredients together in a bowl (no need to soak your yeast or any faff like that). You might worry that it’s too watery, but trust me, it’s absolutely fine.
Once mixed, tip the dough out onto a clean work surface. DON’T flour the surface - this adds too much flour to the recipe and your dough will become stodgy. I used to make this mistake all the time.
Start to work the dough. Bertinet uses the french fold technique and it works for me. It’s easy and quite fun and consists of slapping the dough onto your surface and stretching it back.
Here’s a video of @topfife using the French Fold: http://kneadbymouth.posterous.com/baguette
Or just watch Bertinet do it a bit faster on Saturday Kitchen: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=xHQSNuy9krk&feature=player_detailpage#t=209s
You’re looking to make the bread quite elastic-y and stretchy. It should take about 6 minutes.
Now put the dough into a bowl (you can lightly flour the bowl if you like at this stage, but semolina is better), cover with clingfilm and leave in a warm place to prove. I use our kitchen window if it’s sunny. If it’s not I stick on the radiator underneath. Leave for 1 hour.
Turn the dough out onto a surface and flatten out. Work in the grated cheese by rolling and folding. Ensure it’s evenly distributed and leave to rest for a further 30mins
Divide the dough into equal pieces, fold and shape into balls and place into mini-loaf tins (or shape into buns/rolls). Leave for about 60-90mins, or until the dough has doubled in volume.
Preheat your oven to 210°C (gas mark 6). Bake the loaves for 15-20mins until golden brown. They should make a hollow noise when you tap them.
Leave to cool on a rack and eat up.
**At this stage, you can make a Fougasse pretty quickly by splitting your dough in half and shaping into two leaves. Dust with semolina and bake on an oven tray or pizza stone for 15 minutes. You’ll end up with something deceptively impressive looking: