Monday 27 June 2011

Blackcurrant Muffins

With less sugar content than traditional cupcakes, these American style muffins are delicious and couldn't be easier to make.  They are entirely free of eggs and dairy too!

Made with sunflower oil instead of vegetable fat, all you do is weigh out your dry ingredients into one bowl, combine your liquid ones in a measuring jug, then mix the whole lot together and throw in some blackcurrants and, hey presto, beautiful fresh fruit muffins!

Thanks to a couple of productive bushes in my garden, I always have plenty of blackcurrants in my freezer.  Raspberries, diced strawberries or blueberries would do just as well, fresh or frozen. 

Ingredients      Makes about 12

250g plain flour
3 tsp baking powder
1/2 tsp fine sea salt
50g golden castor sugar
3 fl.oz sunflower oil
9 fl oz soya milk
1 tsp natural vanilla extract
(e.g. Nielsen-Massey Madagascan)
120g fresh or frozen blackcurrants

25g golden castor sugar
1 tsp mixed spice


First prepare your muffin tin.

If you have paper cases for muffins, place in the tin. Otherwise, grease the muffin tin well.

Pre-heat the oven to 200C/180C fan/Gas Mark 6.

Sift the flour, baking powder, salt and sugar together into a large mixing bowl.

Measure the soya milk and sunflower oil in a measuring jug. Whisk together with a fork and stir in the vanilla essence.

Pour the liquid ingredients into the dry ones and combine well but don't overbeat the mixture if you want super light cakes.   I generally use a fork to incorporate everything and press out any lumps!

Carefully fold in the blackcurrants.

Using a spoon, divide the mixture into the 12 muffin cases or tin.   

Mix the sugar and mixed spice in a small bowl or empty margarine container box.

Using a teaspoon or the corner of the container as a pourer, sprinkle over the top of the muffins.

Bake in the oven for about 25 minutes until well-risen, springy and golden.

If using paper cases, transfer the muffins immediately to a wire rack to cool. If not, leave in the tin for about 5 minutes before turning out.

Monday 13 June 2011

Roasted Pepper Rolls

Eating pastry may not be everybody's idea of healthy living but these delicious Roasted Pepper Rolls are packed full of fresh vegetables and, unlike sausage rolls, contain no meat, dairy or animal fat.

When you eat as much fresh produce as I do, most of which is organic and freshly picked from my garden, having the occasional pastry treat is not such a bad thing in my book!   Eaten together with a generous plateful of salad,  these Italian style "sausage" rolls make a wonderful lunch and always seem to go down well with everyone I know!

The combination of red, yellow and green peppers looks really attractive too. You could also substitute an aubergine for a couple of the peppers, cooked the same way just cut into 1cm cubes before baking.

Whilst I always make my own shortcrust pastry, I do buy puff pastry as long as it's dairy and animal free, such as Jus-Rol pastry. 

Ingredients                Makes about 12

4 peppers, any colour
3 red onions
3 tbsp olive oil
500g Jus-Rol Puff pastry
Salt and Pepper


Preheat the oven to 220C/200C fan/Gas Mark 7.

Cut the peppers in half and remove the seeds.  Cut into pieces and spread out on a very large baking sheet (or 2 smaller ones) 

Peel the onions and cut each one into about 8 wedges. Place on the tray with the peppers and drizzle with olive oil.

Bake for about 20 minutes until soft but not brown.

When the cooked vegetables have cooled down a little, transfer to a chopping board, season with salt and pepper and chop finely.

Roll the pastry out fairly thin on a lightly floured surface to form an oblong shape.  Cut in half lengthways.

Spoon the chopped vegetables equally along each strip, slightly off centre. Then, using a knife or your fingers, pile into a rounded sausage shape.

Fold the pastry edge nearest to you over the top of the vegetables.  Brush the other edge with a little cold water and roll the sausage away from you to overlap and seal the pastry.

With the sealed edge underneath, cut diagonally into 5 or 6 individual rolls.  Make 2 or 3 diagonal cuts on the top of each roll either with scissors or a knife and place on a baking sheet.

Brush the top of each roll with water then bake in the oven for about 20 minutes until well-risen and golden.

Delicious served hot straight from the oven. 

Store the pepper rolls in the fridge and, if possible, reheat slightly before serving.

Thursday 2 June 2011

Almond Tuiles

These little almond biscuits are as light as a feather and are the perfect accompaniment to a simple fruit dessert such as poached pears or plums, raspberry or blackcurrant coulis and icecream or a compote of summer fruits.   They look fabulous and are really fun to make and very quick too.


Ingredients         Makes 18

70g Pure sunflower dairy free margarine
50g golden castor sugar
45g plain flour
45g flaked almonds


Preheat the oven to 180C/160C fan/Gas Mark 4.

Place the margarine and sugar in a bowl and blend together with a hand-whisk or a wooden spoon until light and creamy.

Using a knife or spatula, fold in the sifted flour and flaked almonds until well blended.

With a teaspoon, place small blobs of the mixture, spacing them well apart, on two greased baking trays.  I usually put 9 blobs on each tray.

Then carefully flatten the mixture with a fork to make a rough circle shape.

Bake in the oven for about 9 -10 minutes until the biscuits have turned a pale golden colour in the middle and brown at the edges.

As soon as they come out of the oven,  take a palette knife and carefully run it underneath the biscuit and lift onto a rolling pin.   Gently press the biscuit into a curved shape taking care as the biscuits are very brittle!

Leave for a few moments to harden then transfer to a cooling rack.

Stored in an airtight tin, they will keep crisp and fresh for a few days  (if they last that long!)