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Recently Panasonic asked me if I would like to try their breadmaker for their Ideas Kitchen. I’ve never used a breadmaker before, so I was really excited – especially when the delivery guy turned up with a beautiful, shiny machine the following day. In truth, it’s very, very simple, and it saves you having to do the hard-work-mixing (ie whisking the water into the dry ingredients to aerate the dough) – either by hand or in a stand mixer/food processor – and cleaning the messy bowl. Just mix together the dry ingredients, pour the water into the machine, and then the dry mix. And leave the breadmaker making little noises every now and then (much to Zoë’s delight) and creating delicious aromas.
I made an Easter loaf – with chopped apricots, ground mixed spice and lemon zest. It’s sweet from the small amount of sugar and the apricots, and the flavours sing through. It came out wonderfully moist, with a good rise and a fantastic crust.
gluten-free, dairy-free, soya-free, egg-free, nut-free, seed-free
Makes 1 loaf Preparation time 10 minutes Cooking time 1 hour 50 minutes
- 60g potato starch
- 60g cornstarch
- 150g brown rice flour
- 50g maize flour
- 50g gram flour
- ½ tsp salt
- 2 tsp sugar
- 1 tsp ground mixed spice
- 1 tsp xanthan gum
- zest of ½ lemon
- 150g unsulphured dried apricots, chopped into small pieces
- 1 tbsp dried active yeast
- Remove the bread pan and set the kneading blade.
- Sift the flours into a large mixing bowl, add the salt, sugar, spice, xanthan gum and lemon zest and, using a metal whisk, mix thoroughly.
- Pour 350ml tepid water into the bread pan.
- Add the flour mixture, then add the chopped apricots. Wipe the outside of the bread pan to remove any flour or liquid.
- Put the bread pan into the Bread Maker, turn slightly clockwise and close the lid.
- Place the dry yeast in the yeast dispenser.
- Select the bake menu number 12 by pressing the Menu pad.
- Press the Start pad to start the machine.
- When the machine has finished, press the Stop pad, remove the bread and leave to cool on a wire rack.
*If your Panasonic breadmaker does not have a yeast dispenser, then add the yeast with the flour as per point 4.
Please note, when I tested this I found that the paddle remained in the loaf which may be caused by the gluten free flour used.
If you’ve been watching What’s Cooking on Channel 4, you may have seen Jo Pratt cooking up a storm during the first week. I first met Jo a few years’ ago, when she was planning her first (gorgeous-looking and hugely successful) book In the Mood for Food. She wrote another after that, went off and had two beautiful babies and has returned to the world of TV, books and other foodie things with her new book Madhouse Cookbook, which I’ve been working on with her.
The premise of the book is really simple. It’s billed as a life-transforming collection of recipes for busy parents – for surviving the stressful week, coping with hectic weekends and enabling you to cling onto your social life. All of the dishes have been devised to make life easy – with shortened preparation and cooking times, brilliant plan-ahead tips and ‘Lifesaver’ and ‘Leftover’ mini-recipes to make those precious moments you spend cooking go further.
I made her Baked Seafood Paella yesterday. As Jo says, this is a “real-life recipe”. You don’t need a special paella pan and, instead of having to stir and continually do things, you simply prep it then put it in the oven and let it cook itself. It really is spectacularly easy – and it’s a great recipe if you’re having friends round for dinner, as well as a lovely one for the whole family.
gluten-free, dairy-free, soya-free, egg-free, nut-free, seed-free,
Makes: 4 adult portions Preparation time: 20 minutes Cooking time: 30 minutes
- 3 tbsp olive oil
- 1 onion, chopped
- 2 garlic cloves, crushed
- 1 red pepper, deseeded and sliced
- 300g/10½oz/1⅓ cups paella rice
- 250ml/9fl oz/1 cup dry white wine
- a large pinch of saffron strands
- 1 tsp smoked Spanish paprika or standard sweet paprika
- 750ml/26fl oz/3 cups hot gluten-free and dairy-free fish or chicken stock
- 500g/1lb 2oz shellfish, such as mussels and/or clams
- 2 medium squid tubes, cut into rings
- 150g/5½oz/scant 1 cup frozen peas, defrosted, or fresh green beans, chopped
- 8–12 raw, whole king prawns
- ½ small bunch flat-leaf parsley, chopped
- 1 lemon, cut into wedges
- sea salt and freshly ground black pepper
- Scrub the mussels thoroughly with a stiff brush under cold running water to remove all traces of grit, then remove any barnacles or other debris attached to the shells and pull off and discard any beards. Rinse again and discard any mussels that stay open.
- Preheat the oven to 220°C/425°F/gas 7.
- Heat the oil in a large flameproof casserole over a medium heat, add the onion, garlic and red pepper and fry for about 5 minutes until the onion has softened. Stir in the rice for a minute or so until it is coated in the oil, then add the wine, saffron, paprika and stock. Stir well and bring to the boil, then bake, uncovered, for 15 minutes.
- Stir in the mussels and/or clams, squid and peas and season lightly with salt and pepper. Nestle the prawns into the surface. Return to the oven and cook for a further 10 minutes until the rice is tender and the seafood is cooked through. Make sure all the prawns are pink and discard any mussel or clam shells that haven’t opened.
- Sprinkle over the parsley and serve with lemon wedges. Provide empty bowls for the shells, and a few finger bowls of warm water and plenty of napkins for messy fingers.
If your friends aren’t massively into seafood, then make your paella with chicken and chorizo. Add 150g/5½oz thickly sliced or chopped chorizo and 4 roughly chopped chicken thighs to the fried onion and cook until the chicken is golden. Add the rice and follow the recipe as above, but just using prawns and not the mussels or squid.
Rice dishes are very common in Italy, especially in the northern areas, because rice was so plentiful (rice has been grown in Italy since the 15th century). Traditionally Torta di Riso was served as a celebration cake – for weddings, baptisms, Christmas and Easter. A particular favourite in Tuscany, apparently, it’s a flourless cake that uses risotto rice instead of flour, and can also be eaten as a dessert.
It’s lovely to make a cake without the usual flour-combination-method. Not for those on a low-carb diet(!), this cake is mouthful after mouthful of sweet, substantial comfort. The risotto rice is simmered in flavoured milk (I’ve used dairy-free, of course) until soft and creamy, then mixed with lots of beaten eggs and the remaining ingredients, before being baked in the oven. The vanilla and cinnamon imbue the cake with sweet tones, and the lemon zest gives a citrusy kick. Make sure you don’t overcook the rice in the first stage (take it off the hob while it still has some bite) and use really good quality eggs, preferably organic.
gluten-free, dairy-free, yeast-free, seed-free
Serves 4 Preparation time 15 minutes plus cooling time Cooking time 1 hour 35 minutes
- 50g/1¾oz dairy-free margarine, plus extra for greasing
- 150g/5½oz/⅔ cup fruit sugar or caster sugar
- 1 vanilla pod, split
- 1.25l/44 fl oz/5 cups dairy-free milk
- 250g/9oz/heaped 1 cup arborio or risotto rice
- ½ tsp ground cinnamon
- grated zest of ½ lemon
- 2 large eggs, plus 5 large egg yolks
- 25g/1oz/scant ¼ cup ground almonds
- 1 tsp gluten-free baking powder
- ½ tsp xanthan gum
- icing sugar, to serve
- Preheat the oven to 180°C/350°F/gas 4 and lightly grease a deep, springform 20cm/8in cake tin with dairy-free margarine and line the base with baking parchment.
- Put the margarine, sugar, vanilla pod and milk in a large, heavy-based saucepan and bring to a gentle boil over a medium heat. Add the rice and turn the heat down to medium-low. Simmer for about 30 minutes, until all of the liquid has been absorbed and the rice is creamy and soft, but still has a slight bite. Remove from the heat and scrape the seeds from the vanilla pod and add, then add the cinnamon and lemon zest and stir in thoroughly. Transfer to a large mixing bowl and leave to cool completely.
- Using an electric mixer, beat the eggs and egg yolks until pale and thick. Fold the ground almonds, gluten-free baking powder and xanthan gum into the mixture. Make sure the mixture is well mixed but take care not to overmix it.
- Remove the vanilla pod from the rice mixture. Pour the egg mixture into the rice and stir gently until combined. Spoon the mixture into the tin and level the surface with the back of a spoon.
- Bake for about 60 minutes until firm to the touch and cooked through. Remove the cake from the oven and leave to cool for 5 minutes, then remove from the tin, transfer to a wire rack and leave to cool completely. Once cooled, sprinkle icing sugar over and serve.
I’ve had a bag of amaranth sitting in my kitchen cupboard for a while now, so I thought it was time to use it. Like quinoa, amaranth is a true superfood, but unlike quinoa, it hasn’t started to become mainstream – people generally haven’t heard of it and don’t know how to use it. Amaranth dates back about 8,000 years and was a staple part of the diet for the Aztecs in Mexico. Although it’s a grain, it’s a fantastic source of non-meat, complete protein (it is about 15% protein), along with complex carbs and fibre. Packed with nutrients, too, especially calcium and iron, as well as vitamins A, B6, C, folate and riboflavin, and phytochemicals that are great for boosting the immune system and reducing blood pressure and high cholesterol.
You can cook amaranth exactly like quinoa (simmer in boiling water or stock until tender and the water has been absorbed, or toast the grains and then simmer). And, just like quinoa, it’s incredibly easy to incorporate into your diet – use it instead of couscous or rice and add fruit, nuts, herbs or spices to flavour it. Here I’ve used it to make the stuffing for the aubergines – and I’ve made a dish with layers of flavours. You can take it back by leaving out the fruity bit (the sultanas) and/or the cheesy bit, leaving just the harissa, lemon and herbs, or you can add the whole caboodle. Either way, it’s delicious!
gluten-free, dairy-free, egg-free, nut-free, seed-free
Serves 4 Preparation time 15 minutes Cooking time 50 minutes
- 4 aubergines, halved lengthways
- 2 tbsp harissa paste
- 300g/10½oz/1½ cups amaranth
- 100g/3½oz/heaped ¾ cup sultanas (optional)
- 600ml/21fl oz/scant 2½ cups gluten-free and dairy-free vegetable stock
- juice of 2 lemons
- 2 handfuls finely chopped mint leaves
- 2 large handfuls finely chopped coriander leaves
- 8 spring onions, white part finely sliced
- 200g/7oz dairy-free cheese, crumbled or grated (optional)
- sea salt and freshly ground black pepper
- salad, to serve
- Preheat the oven to 180°C/350°F/Gas 4. Using a sharp knife, score the flesh of the aubergines with a diagonal crisscross pattern, making sure not to pierce the skin. Put the aubergine halves on baking trays and spread the harissa paste evenly over. Bake for 40 minutes until tender.
- Meanwhile, put the amaranth in a fine sieve and rinse well under cold running water. Transfer to a saucepan, add the sultanas, if using, and pour over the stock. Bring to the boil, then turn the heat down, cover with a lid and leave to simmer for 15–20 minutes until the amaranth is tender and the water has been absorbed.
- Transfer to a large mixing bowl and add the lemon juice, herbs, spring onions, and add the dairy-free cheese, if using. Mix together thoroughly and season lightly with salt and pepper.
- When the aubergines have cooked, remove from the oven and carefully scoop most of the flesh out of the aubergines, leaving a layer of flesh next to the skins. Mash the flesh, then add to the amaranth mixture, and mix in thoroughly. Spoon the mixture into the aubergine cases and bake for a further 10 minutes. Serve hot with salad, if you like.
This soup came about because of a pile of root veggies sitting in my veggie box. When I have beetroot, I usually bake it and make a salad with avocado, nuts, seeds, that sort of thing. Or steam it and serve it as a veggie. But I wanted to do something different, and this was the result.
This is a really delicious soup – and fantastically good for you, too. A combination of sweet, earthy beetroot and carrot, with the creamy cannellini beans and herby parsley make a great flavour combination. What’s more, this soup is great for cleansing and boosting your immune system. Beetroot has powerful detoxing qualities (mainly from the antioxidant betacyanin) as well as being rich in iron and folic acid (which help prevent anaemia and fatigue). The humble carrot is one of the richest sources of beta-carotene which helps fight infection and colds, as well as enhancing vision, skin and digestive function. Carrots and beetroots are also fantastic sources of fibre – as cannellini beans are, too. And this is a great example of how you don’t need to spend tons of money on ingredients to eat nutrient-dense food. Excellent!
gluten-free, dairy-free, egg-free, nut-free, seed-free
Serves 4 Preparation time 10 minutes, plus soaking the beans Cooking time 1½ hours
- 200g/7oz/1 cup dried cannellini beans
- ½ tbsp lemon juice
- 2 tbsp olive oil
- 1 onion, chopped
- 2 garlic cloves, crushed
- 1 celery stick, chopped
- 4 beetroots, peeled and diced
- 4 carrots, peeled and diced
- 1.25l/44fl oz/5 cups gluten-free and dairy-free vegetable Stock, boiling, plus extra if needed
- 1 handful parsley leaves
- salt and freshly ground black pepper
- dairy-free yogurt, to serve (optional)
- coriander leaves, to serve (optional)
- Put the cannellini beans in a large bowl. Add the lemon juice, cover with warm water and leave to soak, covered, for 12 hours or overnight.
- Drain and rinse the beans and put in a large saucepan. Cover with 1.2l/40fl oz/4¾ cups water and bring to the boil over a high heat. Boil vigorously for 10 minutes, skimming any scum that rises to the surface, then turn the heat down to low and leave to simmer for 1 hour, until the beans are tender. Drain and leave to one side.
- When the beans are nearly cooked, heat the oil in a heavy-based saucepan over a medium heat until hot. Add the onion and fry for 2–3 minutes, stirring occasionally, until starting to turn golden, then stir in the garlic. Add the celery and cook, stirring occasionally, for 2–3 minutes, then add the carrots and beetroot. Pour in the stock and season lightly with salt. Bring to the boil, then turn the heat down to low and simmer, covered, for 15–20 minutes until the carrots and beetroot are soft.
- Add the cooked beans and parsley, then blend the soup until smooth and add more salt, to taste, and pepper. Serve hot with a spoonful of yogurt drizzled over and some coriander leaves sprinkled on top, if you like.
If, like me, you’re keen to clean up your diet a bit, following on from a cake-filled Christmas holiday (!), you might like The S Factor Diet, by Lowri Turner. You probably know Lowri from TV but she’s also a nutritionist who writes for, among others Grazia, Now Diet and Mother & Baby. According to Lowri, this is “a diet that can put a smile on your face!”. Apparently certain hormones, such as serotonin, dopamine, leptin and adrenals, can increase your appetite, send cravings sky-high, make you feel depressed and demotivated, and cause your body’s natural fat-burning process to dwindle. You can rebalance those hormones in your body easily with certain foods like chicken, avocados, bananas, fish, nuts and seeds, and dark green and brightly coloured veggies. And Lowri’s book shows you how to work out which hormones are out of kilter, and which foods you need to eat to rebalance them – and gives you lovely recipes, too.
I tried this recipe yesterday for lunch. And, although Zoë insisted on a version without chopped herbs (“yuk, green bits”), it was really good. I have been wanting to try cauliflower ‘couscous’ for a while and it was great. Super-easy to make (you just whizz cauliflower florets in a food processor) and, with the lemon juice, sweet paprika and herbs, it had a lovely taste. And the prawns were gorgeous – really tender, with loads of garlic.
Prawns are a good source of lean protein, which is great for all your S Factor hormones, especially dopamine. And, by swapping normal wheat couscous for cauliflower ‘couscous’ you immediately reduce the starch and calorie content, which helps rebalance all of these hormones – and, of course, it’s gluten-free!
gluten-free, wheat-free, dairy-free, yeast-free, soya-free, egg-free, nut-free, seed-free
Preparation time 15 minutes, plus 3 hours marinating Cooking time 6 minutes Serves 4
- 400g/14oz raw tiger prawns, peeled and deveined
- fine sea salt and freshly ground black pepper
- lemon wedges, to serve (optional)
For the marinade:
- 5 garlic cloves, crushed
- 2 tbsp chopped tarragon leaves
- 1 tbsp chopped dill
- 1 tbsp extra virgin olive oil
For the couscous:
- 1 head of cauliflower, broken into florets
- 1 handful of finely chopped mint leaves
- 1 handful of finely chopped parsley leaves, plus extra to serve
- ½ red onion, finely sliced
- juice of ½ lemon
- 1 large handful of cherry tomatoes, quartered
- 1 tsp sweet paprika
- If using wooden skewers, soak them in cold water for at least 30 minutes before grilling. To make the marinade, put all of the ingredients in a non-metallic bowl, season with salt and pepper and mix well. Add the prawns to the marinade and toss well, making sure the prawns are covered in the marinade. Cover and chill in the fridge for 3 hours.
- Meanwhile, make the “couscous”. Put the cauliflower in a food processor and pulse until it resembles couscous grains. Transfer to a bowl, stir in all of the remaining ingredients and season with salt and pepper. Leave to one side.
- Use a slotted spoon to remove the prawns from the marinade, reserving the marinade. Thread about 6 prawns onto each of 4 skewers. Heat a griddle pan over a medium-high heat and cook the prawns, brushing with the reserved marinade, for about 2–3 minutes on each side until they are pink and cooked through. Remove the skewers and divide the prawns and “couscous” into 4 equal portions. Sprinkle with parsley and serve with lemon wedges for squeezing over, if you like.
Nutritional analysis per serving: Calories 148kcal Protein 21.3g Carbohydrates 4.3g Fat 5.6g
Most people think of buckwheat pancakes when they think of buckwheat – made with buckwheat flour. But the grain itself (totally gluten-free) is a fantastic addition to your storecupboard. It is highly nutritious (full of magnesium, B-vitamins, rutin which helps circulation and all eight essential amino acids) and in particular it’s great in terms of your blood-sugar balance. Don’t be put off by the nutty taste of buckwheat, though. As this recipe shows, it can be delicious if you mix it with strong, fresh flavours. Here I’ve added sweet roasted veggies, and fresh, tangy lemon and mint. Serve this as a main course, with a salad, for a delicious dinner – and it makes a brilliant meal for your lunchbox, too.
gluten-free, wheat-free, dairy-free, yeast-free, nut-free, seed-free, egg-free
Serves 4 Preparation time 10 minutes Cooking time 20 minutes
- 6 tbsp olive oil
- 2 aubergines, diced
- 2 red peppers, deseeded and cut into strips
- 1 onion, cut into 16 pieces
- 200g/7oz buckwheat
- 240g/8½oz/scant 2¼ cups tinned butter beans, drained and rinsed
- juice of 1 lemon
- 1 large handful chopped mint leaves
- sea salt and freshly ground black pepper
- Preheat the oven to 180°C/350°F/Gas 4. Put the aubergine and peppers onto 3 separate baking trays and drizzle 2½ tablespoons of oil over. Bake for 10 minutes, then add the onion and drizzle ½ tablespoon of oil over. Bake for a further 10 minutes until tender and slightly browned. Remove from the oven and transfer to a large serving dish.
- Meanwhile, wash the buckwheat thoroughly, put in a saucepan and pour over 400ml/14fl oz/scant 1⅔ cups cold water. Bring to the boil over a high heat then turn the heat down to low and leave to simmer for about 6 minutes until softened, scimming off the scum with a flat metal spoon. Remove the pan from the heat and leave to stand for 10–15 minutes until all the water has been absorbed and the buckwheat is soft, but not mushy. Rinse thoroughly with boiling water and transfer to the serving dish with the roasted vegetables.
- In a small jug, mix together the lemon juice and the remaining 3 tablespoons of oil and season lightly. Add the butter beans to the serving dish and pour over the dressing. Mix thoroughly, then add the mint leaves and mix gently. Serve either warm or cold.
This one is a super easy version of a risotto. Forget standing at the hob stirring – all you do is fry the leeks and garlic, steam the beans, add all the ingredients and put it in the oven to cook. Brilliant! The creaminess of the risotto comes not from patient, methodical stirring but from adding soya cream cheese in at the end. This makes a deliciously fresh yet comforting meal that makes the most of summer veggies and also stars the superfood, edamame.
Edamame beans are young soya beans (which grow in pods.) They are a fantastic source of protein and also of iron and fibre, and they also contain vitamins A and C, folic acid, calcium and omega-3. In this recipe there’s also mint, which is well known for its soothing effects on the gut. It is particularly good for relieving wind, calming indigestion and regulating bowel movements, which will help many people with food intolerances, and can also help to ease muscle spasms that are associated with IBS.
gluten-free, dairy-free, egg-free, nut-free, seed-free
Serves 4 Preparation time 15 minutes Cooking time 35 minutes
- 2 tbsp olive oil
- 2 leeks, finely chopped
- 1 large garlic clove, crushed
- 350g/12oz/1⅔ cup risotto rice
- 800ml/28fl oz/scant 3¼ cups gluten-free and dairy-free vegetable stock
- 300ml/10½fl oz/scant1¼ cups dry white wine
- grated zest of 1 lemon
- 200g/7oz frozen edamame beans
- 600g/1lb 5oz broad beans in their pods, or 150g/5½oz frozen broad beans
- 1 small handful mint leaves, finely chopped, plus a few sprigs for cooking
- 2 tbsp lemon juice
- 5–6 tbsp soya cream cheese, to taste
- Preheat the oven to 200˚C/400°F/Gas 6. Heat the oil in a heavy-based saucepan over a medium heat and fry the leeks for 2–3 minutes until soft. Stir in the garlic and cook for about 30 seconds then add the rice and stir well, covering the grains of rice with oil.
- Transfer the rice mixture to a large ovenproof dish and add the stock, wine and lemon zest. Stir well, cover with greaseproof paper or foil and bake for 30 minutes.
- Meanwhile, put the edamame and broad beans in a steamer, add the mint sprigs and steam, covered, over a high heat for 4–5 minutes until tender. Remove and discard the mint. Rinse the beans under cold running water, then drain well and leave to cool. If you’re using fresh broad beans, remove and discard the skins from the beans by squeezing them until the beans pop out of the skins. (Of course, you don’t have to do this if you don’t have the time – but they will taste better, if you do.)
- When the risotto has baked for 30 minutes, remove from the oven, stir thoroughly, add the beans and bake for a further 10 minutes.
- Stir in the lemon juice, mint and soya cream cheese and mix well until smooth and creamy. Serve hot.
This weekend I visited Bethany Kehdy, a food writer and blogger (dirtykitchensecrets.com) who also leads culinary tours across Lebanon and organises Food Blogger Connect, a conference and forum for food bloggers. Peter, Zoë and I had some wonderful meals and ate some beautiful ingredients that Bethany has brought back from her father’s farm in Lebanon, including gorgeous olives and some incredible preserved sheep fat (the brown topping on the hummus on the right) that tasted really delicious. Thank you so much, Bethany, for a wonderful time!
I’ve come back from Bethany’s knowing much, much more about hummus, one of her favourite dishes. What I didn’t know is that hummus actually means in Arabic is chickpea, and that what we usually call hummus is called hummus b’tahini, meaning ‘with tahini’ in Lebanon and the Middle East. This is the one that’s creamy and smooth and Bethany’s was truly delicious. Unlike shop-bought ones it had a velvety texture and a very clean taste. We had it with eggs, olives, M’tabbal (smokey aubergine dip) and (gluten-free) flatbread. There are other types of hummus, including hummus balila (with cumin and toasted pine nuts), hummus Beiruti (a spicier version, usually with chilli, and herbs such as parsley) and also hummus b’awarma (hummus b’tahini with preserved meat – minced meat that is preserved with the rendered fat from the tail of Fat Tail Sheep, plus salt) which also we had.
The other thing that I learnt is that you must never add oil to your hummus as you’re mixing it. You can drizzle a little olive oil over the top at the end but if you mix oil in when you’re blitzing the hummus, it will muddle the taste. (I never knew that – and now I know why Bethany’s tasted so clear!) As Bethany will tell you, you also need to soak dried chickpeas and boil them, rather than using tinned chickpeas, as it will taste much better. And if you take the time to skin them, you’ll enjoy a wonderfully smooth textured-hummus.
I have a pot of Bethany’s hummus sitting in my fridge right now. I’m hoping to have some when I get home…. if Peter or Zoë haven’t got there first!
Bethany’s recipe for hummus b’tahini (many thanks, Bethany, for letting me use it) from her website is here –
gluten-free, dairy-free, yeast-free, egg-free, soya-free
Makes: about a 300g/10½oz tub Preparation time: 15 minutes, plus 12 hours soaking time and resting time Cooking time:1½–2hours
- 250g/9 oz/scant 1 cup dry chickpeas (soaked will make 500g/1lb 2oz)
- ¼ tsp baking soda (optional)
- 150ml/5fl oz/scant ⅔ cups tahini
- 2 garlic cloves, peeled
- ½ tsp dry cumin, allspice, or 7-spices
- 2 lemons, plus more to taste
- olive oil, for drizzling
- salt to taste
- paprika, finely chopped coriander and (gluten-free) pitta bread, to serve.
- Begin by sorting thru the chickpeas and getting rid of any rotted chickpeas. Rinse them well under cold water. Put in a large bowl and fill with twice the amount of water. Be sure to use a big enough bowl as the chickpeas will expand. Let it sit overnight. Now, if your thinking: “What a waste of time and energy! I’ll just get canned chickpeas and save time and energy!” Well, yes you could, but you’ll just be wasting the TASTE! C’mon it’s not that bad! You can sort thru the chickpeas while watching your favorite TV show… don’t get too distracted though!
- The next day, rinse the soaked chickpeas really well under running water, add the chickpeas to a deep pot (I recommend a pressure cooker which will drastically reduce the cooking time, follow manual instructions) and fill the pot with water to cover the chickpeas. Now double the water. If you’re not using a pressure cooker you may need to use baking soda to help soften the chickpeas and reduce cooking time, though I prefer not to as it lends a soapy taste. Place pot on medium heat and bring to a boil, stirring occasionally. Reduce heat to low and simmer for about 1.5 hours- 2 hours, depending on the age of the chickpeas. Remove any of the white foam with a slotted spoon. Chickpeas are ready when they smash between two fingers with the gentlest pressure applied. Drain chickpeas. If you’re feeling so inclined, then I do recommend shocking the cooked chickpeas under cold running water, then cover them with cold water and swish them a few times with your hands. Discard the skins that have loosened. This helps in achieving a smoother, less grainy, velvety smooth hummus.
- Throw the garlic cloves and a little bit of salt in the food processor and pulse a couple of times. Add the chickpeas (reserve a handful for garnish, if you’d like), pulse a few more times (maybe add a little water here to get the blades moving), then add tahini, lemon juice and spice of choice (allspice traditional to Lebanon) and process until a creamy consistency is reached. You may find that you need to add some more water to loosen the mixture, drizzle it in little by little, till you reach the texture you’re after.
- If you like your hummus more zesty, then feel free to add more at this point. I like to leave my hummus to rest for an hour or two, and then taste. This allows all the flavors to sit and you can then better gauge if you will need more lemon to your taste. Hummus will tend to thicken overnight and you can loosen the mixture by adding water or more lemon, to taste. Hummus tastes the best when made fresh but that doesn’t mean it doesn’t taste good days after it’s made. It’s incredibly convenient and necessary to have hummus in your fridge throughout the week. Home-made hummus can keep up to 7 days, if it is not consumed before then.
- To serve the hummus: Transfer to a shallow serving bowl and create a shallow well in the center of the hummus. Into the well, drizzle olive oil, sprinklings of paprika, reserved chickpeas, if using and finely chopped coriander. Serve with warm (gluten-free) Arabic bread.
These cupcakes are full of wonderful Italian flavours. The slightly crunchy texture of polenta, along with the ground almonds and the tangy lemon make these cupcakes delicious. And they’re incredibly quick and easy to make. This recipe is taken from Masterchef finalist Caroline Brewster’s book, Yummy, which gives you wonderful desserts you can make in 5, 10, 15, 20, 25 or 30 minutes. These are from the 20 minute chapter, and you really can make these in under 20 minutes – and even do the washing up while you’re waiting for the cakes to bake!
I’ve adapted them slightly, using dairy-free margarine instead of butter, fruit sugar instead of the sugar or icing sugar, and I used less of the syrup topping.
- 115g/4oz dairy-free margarine
- 115g/4oz/1/2½cup fruit sugar, plus 4 tbsp for the topping
- 115g/4oz/heaped 1 cup ground almonds
- 55g/2oz/⅓ cup quick-cook polenta
- ½ tsp gluten-free baking powder
- 1 tsp vanilla extract
- 1 egg, plus 1 egg yolk
- a large pinch of salt
- juice and finely grated zest of 1 lemon
- P reheat the oven to 200°C/400°F/Gas 6 and line a muffin tin with 8 paper cupcake cases. Put the margarine, sugar, ground almonds, polenta, baking powder, vanilla extract, egg, egg yolk and salt in a food processor and blend for 1 minute until combined. Add the lemon zest and 1 tablespoon of the lemon juice and pulse 2 or 3 times to mix.
- Spoon the mixture evenly into the cupcake cases and bake for 12–14 minutes until the tops are browned and firm. Rotate the tin halfway through baking.
- While the cupcakes are baking, put the remaining sugar for the topping in a mini food processor or spice mile and pulse until very fine and resembles icing sugar. Mix with 1 tablespoon of the remaining lemon juice to make a syrup.
- Carefully lift the warm cupcakes from the muffin tin, using a palette knife, and peel off the paper cases. Spoon over as much of the syrup as you want and serve.