Sunday, 29 December 2013

Excellent Rice Pudding.

If your memory of rice pudding is of the crispy brown-topped version done in the oven, and you like that, stick with it.

If however your memory of rice pud involves burn-anxiety, fear of crispy bits, drying out or wasted rice fused to the side of the pot, and you long for the utopian creamy smoothness of vanillagasms oozing forth from gently-cooked individual Arborio rice grains, do this.

If you think you can cope with the port-baked plums on top, go for it, but don't say we didn't warn you.

This recipe was not originally vegan, but was made so with such ease it makes me wonder why anyone even goes to the trouble of digesting milk, to be honest.

Here goes.

Get these together:

For the baked fruit -
• 200ml port
• 200ml red wine
• 1 cinnamon stick
• 1 star anise
• 100g agave or maple syrup (but use the real deal or not at all)
• zest and juice 2 oranges
• 500g plums and/or damsons, halved and pitted

For the rice pudding -
• 1 litre soya milk (you can use rice milk but you'll need to decrease the amount of sugar if you do. Nut milks work well too, but taste as you go along for sweetness)
• 250ml soya or oat cream
• 1 vanilla pod, split
• 1 cinnamon stick
• 100g caster sugar
• 200g pudding / Arborio rice
• 50g vegan marge (we're into Vitalite Dairy Free right now; in the US, use Earth Balance but not the really salty one)

Then do this:

Heat oven to 140C/120C fan/gas 1. Bring the Port and wine to the boil in a pan, with the cinnamon and star anise. Reduce by half, then add your choice of syrup, orange zest and juice.

(Home-grown plums these are!)

Pour the reduced liquid over plum halves in a roasting tin, cover with wet baking parchment (we didn't bother with this and it was fine) and very gently poach in the oven for 30 mins until soft but not exploding. Allow to cool in the liquid. Leave the skins on - they're full of flavour.

Meanwhile, make the rice pudding.  

Rinse the rice VERY thoroughly till the water runs clear. This can take a good few minutes, so be patient - it makes for a cleaner, more defined pudding.

Put the soya milk, vanilla pod, cinnamon stick and sugar in a pan. Simmer for 40 minutes, stirring frequently, until the rice is soft. Keep checking - you don't want mush. Remove from heat when the rice grains are still distinct but not 'bitty'. Keep it warm till serving time.

When you're ready to serve, remove the vanilla pod and cinnamon. Stir in the marge and soya cream. Spoon into large coffee cups or bowls and pour over some of the stewed plums. 

Let the superlatives commence.

Wednesday, 18 December 2013

Mole's Christmas Nut Roast

Here's my recipe for nut roast. I made it from a combination of a recipe I found and one of our own with suggestions from a chef friend. It's worked every time!

All ingredient measurements are 'ish'.

250g mixed nuts - nice oily ones, don't be a cheapskate.
Invest in some cashews, macadamias, hazelnuts, walnuts, almonds, pine nuts if you can...plenty, and a good mix.
100g shallots, finely diced
A couple of carrots, also finely diced
Bread crumbs
400g tinned tomatoes (DRAIN OFF the juice - keep it for something else)
Sage, thyme, rosemary, lovage, any other savoury herbs you fancy
Parsley is optional - is quite a distinctive taste (I don't use it because I'm allergic to it)
Tablespoon of yeast extract blended with 1tsp boiling water
Black pepper, salt to taste (add at the end)
A little oil for greasing the pan

Toast all the nuts gently and carefully till browned, in a dry frying pan on medium heat. Leave to cool.

Cook down the onions and carrots in a little oil with there herbs till nice and soft (onions should be transparent).

While these are cooking, blitz the cooled nuts in a blender till they're broken up nicely, pretty ground up, but not powdered - you need texture.

Preheat the oven to 190 degrees C. Prepare a loaf tin by lining with greaseproof paper.

Put the nuts and cooked veg into a bowl and combine with the tomatoes, bread crumbs, the boiling water and yeast extract mixture and any further seasoning. Mix well.

Test the mixture for dryness - if it feels dry, add a little of the tomato juice at a time or boiled water (oil will come out of the nuts, so there's no need to add this).

When scoopy and a good stiff texture, put into the loaf tin and bake for at least 40 mins. Keep testing - it'll firm up but won't go too hard. If the top starts to burn, cover with foil and continue baking.

The loaf should be allowed to cool before attempting to slice. If you want it hot on the day, you can either gently re-heat the loaf or cut some slices (easier when cool) and warm those up. It's good fresh from the oven, but don't expect picture-perfect slices if you serve it this way! It'll come out a little more...idiosyncratic.


Monday, 9 September 2013

Not Ready.

I was very unsure about the nearness of it, as with it comes feelings of 'but I haven't done enough', 'but I've only just got used to wearing summer clothes', and 'so much to do before...'

But this year I feel strangely calm about it. This is not to say I am in any way more prepared - everything comes together in time, it always does, but I am Ethelred The Unready when it comes to plotting ahead for things like...Christmas.

But the crispy sour apples are in. The rhubarb is crumbled. The first batch of damsons is giving me their usual joyful bellyache, bought from an unmanned roadside stall for 50p a hundredweight (I put the money into the postbox as instructed).

The Smedley jumper is washed, ironed and on. I'm even wearing a jacket. And the woodburner is lit. 

I'm not panicking, so it must be all right. 

Hello Autumn!

Saturday, 31 August 2013


It's early, but start practising: the best Christmas or any time of year 'I Need Cake' recipe, handed down from my Mum.
Sticky but sweet, sugarless and, if you use the right flour, gluten free.
Leave out the almonds and nutmeg (substitute vanilla and cinnamon) and it's nut free too! 
Good grief how perfect IS this recipe?

Do NOT be tempted to leave out the fat. It's essential to the recipe.
If you are considering doing that, then you shouldn't be eating cake. Harsh but fair.

Here we go.

You will need:

300gm vegan marge / marge /unsalted butter (choose according to dietary needs - but the fat is essential so don't skip it)
500ml apple juice
300g dates
350g raisins
325g sultanas (measurements not exact)
1 teaspoon bicarbonate of soda
150g plain flour
150g ground almonds
half a teaspoon of nutmeg
zest of oranges and lemons

Set oven to 160º C. (140º WITH A FAN OVEN).
Line a large cake tin with greaseproof paper.

Melt butter and apple juice.
Stir in dates, raisins and sultanas.
Bring to the boil and boil for 5 minutes.
Transfer to a mixing bowl.
Add bicarbonate of soda.
Cover for 10 minutes with a clean tea towel.
Stir ground almonds and nutmeg into the mix.
Fold in the zest.
Pour the lot into a big cake tin, which you've pre-lined!
Cover the surface with greased baking paper; leave a hole in the middle for checking it's cooked.

Bang in the oven for 2.5 hours, or till cooked.
Keep checking it; it should be a little sticky, but firm, and not runny.
Remove and leave to cool completely before attempting to remove from the tin.

Slice and stuff in face, repeat ad nauseum, or till the bells stop jingling.

Monday, 19 August 2013


Leigh is asked over and over again for his bread recipe. It's so easy it makes me want to cry. 

With this simple loving act of me putting this recipe in your holster, I am surgically and deftly removing any miserable excuse that you have left for you not to bake bread for your loved ones.

Bake this, and enjoy the guaranteed poontang.

Warning: I type it exactly as it was told, verbatim, to the last person who asked for it. Don't read on if sweary things are too much for you.

Right are you ready for my motherfucking bread that'll knock your cock off?

Right, you need:
3 cups of 'plain' (not bread!) flour - white or wholemeal works well, wholemeal doesn't rise as much, same with spelty monkey, white or wholemeal.

1 teaspoon of yeast 

1 and 1/2 teaspoons of salt

Some seeds or similar if you like dumped in the mix.

Mix together in a big bowl with your (clean) hand until thoroughly mixed.

Then add 1.5 cups of tepid/warm water and mix again using your hand for around 30-60 seconds, absolute maximum!

Now, it'll look like a sloppy mess and you'll have dough all over your hand!!
This is good...wash your hand.

Next, cover with a damp tea towel or cling film which ever you prefer, then leave in a warm, draught free place for 12 hours!! Yup, that's right 12 hours.

When you're roughly at 12 hours, turn your oven on to maximum (250 C) and put your tasty crock pot and lid in to heat up until they're definitely fkn hot!! The light has to go out on your cooker.

If you try to rush this bit, you will ruin your bread!

Get your pot out of the oven and be fucking careful, generally I never cook anything else on maximum heat and it doesn't half make a difference, so Be Careful!

Put it on a heat proof thing, pour the dough out and plop it into your pot (you'll be getting a sticky hand again at this point), put the lid on and put it in the oven for 30 minutes.
After 30 minutes take the lid off and carry on baking for between 5 and 20 minutes depending on how thick and crunchy you want your crust, obviously 20 minutes is some fkn crunchy crust slicing your gums action.

I've made this bread loads and loads of times, sometimes it looks like it'll never become bread but it always fucking works...the one time it didn't, I used old yeast...sometime getting it into the pot can be a trauma as it's so sloppy, but don't worry about it, just get it in there, pronto!

There's no kneading required, no fucking around at all.

Once you've got it mastered, you'll probably only take between 20 and 30 mins actually making the bread, including washing up.

Feel free to add herbs or seeds to the process to help make it even tastier. I usually add some sesame seeds to the dough to get a fuller flavour.

But, I warn you, it won't last very long, probably only 2 days, though it's good for croutons on soup by the 3rd day. Having said that, it probably won't last a day in your house as it's so fucking tasty! YAY!

Go forth and bake. It IS YOUR DUTY.

Hot-Ass Marrow Soup

Hello again. It's marrow time!

As you will know, I don't usually stick to recipes except for basics like cake and pastry, but here is what I do to use up these delicious swollen green members.
For the Bread Recipe...see the next post.

- Clean and chop a well-endowed marrow into good inch cubes, ish.

- Fry in bottom of big-ish saucepan in plenty of olive oil till browned

- When browned gently add boiled water, and a stacked tablespoon of vegetable bouillon.
Add chopped herbs to your taste - sage, a little thyme and oregano are good.
Add fresh black pepper.

- For my own recipe, fresh fine chopped lovage is essential!

- Add any other greens you've got lying around - chopped green beans, that bit of cabbage that's gone a bit manky.
Cook till real soft, topping up with water as you need to (but the vegetables will chuck out plenty of their own).

- Stir in a good cupful of Engevita (delicious yeast-flakes). This adds thickness and creaminess with neither the tyranny of dairy nor the gluten-bulge of flour.

- Taste, and add more salt/bouillon and black pepper if required.

- At this stage, stir in the garlic paste and chilli - to taste, but we tend to be generous!

- Continue cooking for a bit. When all vegetables are cooked right through and a bit mushy, turn off and leave to chill.

- When cold, put through blender and leave some chunks if you like.

- Put some in Tupperware for freezing and scoff the rest once re-heated! Especially good on the second and third days.

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