Friday, 24 May 2013

Rhubarb and Ginger Jam

This jam is delicious on home made wholemeal soda bread
It's well known that rhubarb and ginger go really well together- I mean really well: it's a match made in heaven, in fact. Something about the warmth of ginger makes a perfect foil for the sour and tangy rhubarb, so combining rhubarb and ginger in a preserve has to be a winner! Rhubarb is at its best this time of year so if you happen to have plenty of it in your garden try making this simple spread:

This recipe makes a couple of standard-sized jars:
600g fresh rhubarb
20ml water
50g peeled and grated fresh ginger
300g gour
300g demerara sugar
  • Wash and slice the rhubarb stems and simmer gently with the water.
  • Add the grated ginger.
  • Stir in the gour and sugar and boil for 20-30 minutes, stirring to prevent it burning on the bottom of the pan. 
  • Test for setting by dropping a little of the jam either into a glass of very cold water or onto a cold metal spoon. If it clumps together the jam has reached setting point and you can remove it from the heat and put it in sterilised jars.
  • Try it with soda bread; recipes here and here.

Wednesday, 22 May 2013

Flaxjacks- vegan flax and chia seed flapjacks/ energy bars

The different seeds in this flapjack create an interesting texture.
This flapjack is a joint invention between me and my husband: he set out most of the ingredients, suggested we get more flax into our cooking and I made them. The addition of flax, chia and sunflower seeds to the basic vegan flapjack recipe really takes them into another league nutritionally; they are higher in protein, calcium, antioxidants and omega oils and one of these bars, with or without the chocolate coating is extremely sustaining. This recipe makes 16:

400g porridge oats
100g flax seeds (golden linseed)
50g sunflower seeds
50g chia seeds
100g desiccated coconut
300g gour or rapadura
250ml olive oil
50ml water 200g vegan dark chocolate (optional)

  • Melt the gour and oil together in a large sturdy pan until smooth.
  • Stir in the oats, seeds and coconut.
  • Press into an oiled baking tin/ swiss roll tin and bake for about 25 minutes in an oven preheated to 180C. Do not overbrown.
  • If adding chocolate, break it into squares on top of the flaxjack and spread evenly when melted. Leave to set, marking it out into16 flaxjacks before the chocolate is completely solid- this helps you cut it neatly.
...And a big thank you to all readers, as we reached 100,000 pageviews yesterday! :)

Monday, 20 May 2013

Asparagus Tart- vegan

Celebrate Spring with the season's delicacies...

We couldn't resist getting a bunch of asparagus from the market this week; it's a luxury, but now it's peak season and it's at it's succulent best- so tempting! But decent asparagus is not cheap so how to make the one bunch go round 6 or 7 people? - Make a vegan twist on the traditional asparagus tart, that's how! Attractive and simple to make with either puff or shortcrust pastry, this tart makes a great picnic or lunchbox addition, or you could make it a main course like we did and serve it with minted steamed new potatoes and steamed or braised veg such as purple sprouting. I've never seen a dinner so quickly eaten up with no fuss :)

I couldn't resist adding some cherry tomatoes and olives.
This recipe made 2 tarts; just halve the amounts if there are less of you. You could even make a gluten-free version using the pizza base recipe here. (Or even omit the pastry altogether.)
200g asparagus, trimmed
about 80g cherry tomatoes, halved
a few olives
about 500g pastry- see here
one quantity of "aumlette" batter- see here
a couple of spoonfuls of almond parmesan- see here
some fresh herbs like sage, thyme, marjoram or oregano (optional)- but don't let their flavours overwhelm the delicate asparagus.
  • Prepare and steam the asparagus, reserving any liquid to add to the batter in place of plain water(you get more vits that way).
  • Make the pastry, line oiled flan tins/ dishes and blind- bake for 10 minutes or so at 200C.
  • Meanwhile, whisk together the batter (adding chopped fresh herbs of you like) and make the almond parmesan.
  • To assemble the tart, fill the cases with the batter then arrange the asparagus, tomatoes and olives as shown on the pictures. Add a liberal sprinkling of almond parmesan.
  • Bake for about 15-20 mins in an oven preheated to 200C, until the filling has set.

The almond parmesan sprinkles add extra flavour and texture.