Same Old, Same New: Dark And Bitter, Not Me!, Biscuits

Despite being a while it’s always the same brand available.


The Bouquet rose is blooming all over.


Rhubarb and Orange Jam and Rhubarb and Ginger Jam.


There have been many harvests and I keep forgetting to take a photo. Golden Acre are a great small variety.

Yo, Dear Reader, there hasn’t been much to do with food recently, bar fresh produce, mostly because I have long since hit a limit on what I can eat and what I can do with what ingredients I can use. I did buy some carob powder and promptly forgot about it. No, I’m not joking, I just decided to make some cookies and went with the Buckwheat Peanut Butter Biscuits, no I’m not being confusing on purpose, this my natural state, when I say cookies, and I will, Dear Reader, I mean biscuits…though they are more of a cookie in the version. They turned out well, they’re fast and I sped things up a bit, I’ll elaborate on that in a moment, but I am reminded that most people really dislike carob, for various reasons, and I have struggled to find the best use for it and I had a moment when I first tasted these. They’re strongly flavoured with carob, it cuts through everything else, thankfully it doesn’t dry them out much, that’s one unfortunate downside of carob, it’ll dry out anything and won’t take on moisture to counter that fact. I realised that even with a good bit of sugar it did nothing to the carob’s bitterness, but it’s similar to coffee’s bitter notes, taken on it’s own merit it has value, you could dump sugar into it and it would only increase the bitterness, whereas like an espresso, I’ve had a few in my time, a few in the last hour, the bitterness as the main flavour note allows the other flavours to recede a little and you can just enjoy it as it’s own taste. It paired super well with coffee and I wish I had had some kind of coffee powder to complement it. Peanut butter has also always worked well with carob in my opinion.

With more “Bouquet” roses starting I may need new names.


You should’ve seen the smile on my face, Dear Reader.

So, if you take carob as a dry and bitter flavour, don’t try to tamp it down, I always find sugared coffee just feels off, that’s my taste so take all of this as the same, you might have much better luck. I’d like to try it as a drier biscuit with some kind of coffee flavour, be it a glaze or just as an additional dry ingredient. Won’t happen right now, Dear Reader, but I think carob is an underrated ingredient. I’ve done a lot with it and it isn’t the best, but it has some uses and does add a lot of goodness to whatever you add it to. I do warn again about the idea of the healthy dessert, there are the obvious issues that even if you reduce sugar and try to replace ingredients with healthier choices that you might still have something that would still struggle to be called healthy, it’s why there are so many of those protein based fruit bars, they seem better than the yare, which is mushy nuts and dried fruit, but what I think is the bigger issue is that by trying to recreate something that is based in sweetness and unhealthy choices you lose the joy inherent in that choice and also you tend to think less of completely new recipes and dietary replacements. Which is why so much terrible gluten free food is so popular, I’ve talked about it in the past and I still feel taking these new ingredients, well, newer to some of us still, and using them on their own merits is much better than using them as substitutes. They aren’t perfect, but I really think so much can be done with them if we just start from scratch, check out the carob tag to see what I have done. Yes, I am still a food blogger, I’ve just put in years of work and hit a good point, anyone can ask for a recipe or help, but I have my own life to live and my own health to consider and experimenting with sweet isn’t as viable as it once was.


They’re a beautiful rose.


A little pink has appeared on the white hydrangea.


More lilies. A little later this year I think.

So, that was Jack The Food Blogger, Dear Reader, it’s like a switch clicking in my head, so many considerations, so many diets, so much responsibility, but that’s why I mostly go with the chill garden posts these days. I’ve more than paid my dues to all the blogs that helped me and I hope that I have been a help to others over the years. The knowledge is always there, Dear Reader, but I do need to put myself first and these days it is getting harder to get the usual pantry staples never mind new ingredients to play around with. I do often think that I could just repost old recipes, try to build a userbase and then I just laugh and laugh and realise that’s the lie we’re all sold online, that we too can be a success. The people selling us these sites and lies surely make money, but the average blogger will likely fade into obscurity long before they see any indication of fame. For me I found friends here, I found loyal Dear Readers who have stuck with me, whom I hope enjoy these posts as much as I do writing them, for me that’s success enough. As long as I have all of that then I feel the blog is a success. I’ll be back again soon, Dear Reader, until then stay safe and take care.

The mystery rose that always shoots up after the yellow dies back, this is the chunk I took off and planted last year.


Can’t even tell if they’re early or late anymore.


Somehow tomatoes got into the back and are flowering outside?! Wait…I did this? I think.

Same Old Same New: Mild To The Max

Mix it all up and just slather it everywhere.

I never actually run out of much because, Dear Reader, I write the shopping list, do the shopping and that will never happen. I don’t like hunger and outside of the set things I eat daily and weekly there isn’t anything I can just grab so I never let it happen. I do occasionally run low, I buy a lot of fruit and vegetables that wouldn’t stay fresh if I buy too many, so sometimes I’m left wondering what I’ll make with what I have. Today I wanted something mild tasting, not to be mistaken for bland, something warm, since the weather is miserable, filling and just gentle. So I took this and this and smashed them together.

I found a shallot, so add shallots.

The carob chicken is intense due to the prevalence of aniseed flavours, I mitigated that by using garam masala as the spice instead of the Five Spice, just a rough teaspoon this all rough, Dear Reader, I used a tablespoon of honey and carob syrup, surprisingly this isn’t noticeably sweet, the honey cuts the tahini’s sharp taste, I mixed all that with a little salt, pepper and garlic granules, it’s just a thick paste, but I rubbed it all onto the chicken anyway, you’ll have to scoop it all into the pan when frying, but it cooks better when mixed first.

I’m sparing this carob syrup, so much that I forget to use it.

I used an onion, garlic, I love garlic, and a shallot, fried in olive oil this time, rather than butter. Tossed the chicken into the pan on a low heat, keeping it from caramelising too much, again: mild, left that to cook for a while, this was being cooked alongside the rice so times vary, I love this post format as this is how I often cook, Dear Reader, rather than he methodical posts you often see accompanying recipes, I do that for my Dear Reader who wants to learn, but you can lean here too, just in a less structured way.

Coconut cream because it’s all I had.

I tossed in the coconut cream, which was thickened by the tahini and peanut butter, about half a tablespoon each. There can be an issue getting the sauce to reduce when using nut or seed butters, you’re better to let the coconut cream or milk residue first and then add them, otherwise you’ll have to crank up the heat and potentially spilt the cream, which isn’t bad, but it can be very oily and might not be that pleasant. The whole thing just simmered away, I occasionally tossed the chicken about, more for something to do than for any real purpose, though flip it at least once to ensure and even cook.

Anything like this ends up either Golden Brown or Sunny Orange.

As for the taste? It was just a gentle, warming dish.It is funny how you can add too much to a dish and destroy the balance and here there was a very simple flavour, that tasted just right, if there wasn’t enough it’d be noticeable, but it isn’t so strong that you notice the flavour all that much either. I’m no great expert on spices, Dear Reader, I’ve learned a lot over the years, but I still add too much, forget to taste. There are so many useful spices and I try to vary it, there are many health benefits to everything I use, it’s why I eat what I eat, I just no longer think of that as I cook, I just do it and enjoy it. Hopefully I’ll have something new soon, Dear Reader, I did make scones and quinoa bread, I used teff and buckwheat and it is very tasty as a combo. Worth thinking of for future recipes. Until later, take care.

Carob Syrup Chicken

The meagre sun kept hitting the pan.

I often say that the garden holds a very great influence when in its apogee, blame crosswords,  over my cooking as I’ll often have to find uses for ingredients that I find myself with a great surplus of. Now, Dear Reader, you know by now that I might be Jack of limitless possibilities in the garden, but in the kitchen I’m greatly hampered, not that you’d know it with the sheer volume of available recipes to be found here, infinitely modest too. I’ve often found myself with odd ingredients, not just strange, but out of place on their lonesome, usually the’re best paired with other foods I can’t eat and other recipes that are out of my dietary reach. Other times the ingredients are there but the recipes aren’t forthcoming or even existent. Carob Syrup, Asafoetida  and Chinese Five Spice, the last at least is more useful than the first two, but all three have been combined with the garden’s produce to make something a little bit different, what here isn’t?, and really delicious in a different way.

Sometimes I forget that spatula tastes of garlic and spoil desserts with it.

I’ve actually made this about three times already, I just never measured anything, it was just pure curiosity rather than inspiration. I wanted to see what the five spice, a mild version according to the spice pot, would taste like in different recipe so I’be been sprinkling it here and there. I think what works here is that the star anise and the carob both have a distinct liquorice flavour, the carob’s is very pronounced and the onions, garlic and asafoetida  naturally match each other’s flavour profiles, the Asafoetida is mostly used to boost allium’s flavours in curries from what I’ve read. It at times reminds me of the flavouring in Sour Cream and Onion Crisps, but that could be me misremembering, it has been a long time after all, Dear Reader. All in there is a lot of convenient taste pairing here, but it’s nothing very complex, just luck, you can play with the amounts to suit yourself.

Browned, hard to get the right shot with the dim light. When I need sun where is it?!

As for taste, aside from the aniseed notes, there’s a pleasant warmness, and a dark flavour, it’s the only way I can describe the carob’s other taste notes. I can’t tolerate soy or fermented products so it can be hard to get an aged flavour in food, it’s why I like playing around with Dark Roast Coffee, the carob has a slight bitterness, cut by the honey which also adds the slight stickiness, you could play with intermittently increasing and decreasing the heat to get a different texture, but be careful of burning the honey. The onions and garlic just melt into the chicken, coating and keeping it moist. It’s what I think of a “Shovel In” kind of dish, you just keep eating and eating and then it’s gone. I had it with rice and squash, getting low on squash sadly, and it works really well with a plain side.
An entire squash. Eat good food and you’ll do fine is my motto.

On the whole it’s just a little different from what I’m used to, which when you’re as restricted as I am you’re really grateful for, I’m sure I have no need to tell you, Dear Reader. I’d buy more carob syrup as it’s just all round easier to utilise than the powder and has a stronger, more intense flavour. If I were to play with the recipe I’d add some shallot, maybe some Sichuan Flower Pepper for some additional kick. You can use it as a guide or just go to town and create something completely different from this. I had deliberated with myself as to its worth as a recipe, but when I realised that savoury carob syrup recipes are scarce, strongly flavour recipes that aren’t high in histamine are too, well, I thought why not? My Dear Readers aren’t finicky and might find it interesting if nothing else. I’ll be back again later, Dear Readers.

Ingredients

2 Chicken Breasts, Chopped
1 Small Onion, Diced
4 Cloves Garlic, More or Less to Taste, Cut into Strips
1 Tbsp Butter
1 Tbsp Carob Syrup
1 Tbsp Honey
1 Tsp Chinese 5 Spice
1/4 Tsp Asafoetida Powder
Salt and Black Pepper to Taste

Method

1. Mix Carob Syrup, Honey, Five Spice, Asafoetida, Salt and Pepper together in a bowl and then add Chicken and stir until completely coated. Set aside.

1. Add Butter to a frying pan and when Butter has melted add the Onion and Garlic. Cook Onion and Garlic on a medium-high heat until browned, about 20 minutes, then add Chicken. Reduce heat to a medium and cook until chicken is cooked through and slightly sticky.

Carob Syrup Curry

Looks more like a stew, huh?

Sadly the original recipe this is heavily based on hasn’t ever gotten much views, Carob Curry, I’m not complaining or anything, it’s just that there can only ever be so many views and the most popular recipes will naturally take precedent, still, I have a soft spot in my heart for the all too often maligned carob. It has a very rich flavour profile, I can’t type that with a straight face, how pretentious, eh, Dear Reader? But carob powder has a few drawbacks, the inherent dryness coupled with its inability to dissolve properly can make it less than ideal. Now I’ve done my part creating my share of carob recipes, breads, soba, desserts, when chocolate went I had to try with what I had. Still the flaws tended to stand out and I just fell out of the habit of using it. Now, I have a bottle of pure carob syrup, not pods cooked in sugar, rather sugary syrup derived from the pods themselves, the pods make the flour, and it has the same flavour, more of a black liquorice in syrup form, but can be stirred into anything and it will melt away. I would say it’s slightly milder, but then again it’s been a while since I had the powder and this recipe just uses a tablespoon’s worth.

This is obviously a simple variation of my many curries, you need variation on a restricted diet and any change, however small is welcome. It’s one of he more involved with the spices, the blend leans towards a warming style, not hot or spicy, think mulled wines and Winter stews, not that it’s very complex, but coupled with the natural sweetness of the carob, boosted by the bit of sugar, and the slightly stronger notes  of liquorice present in the syrup the whole dish has a flavour that you can’t get anywhere else. The peanut butter works wonderfully with the carob, it thickens the sauce and adds a velvety richness. If I had to describe it it’d be complex but subdued, you don’t want too strong a taste here so I think the syrup works better than the powder did. This might not be for everyone, but I love making recipes like these because they’re what I needed when nothing was suitable. I’ll be back with at least another big post, it’s the one year anniversary of my surgery too so I’ll talk a bit about that. Take it easy, Dear Reader.

 

Ingredients

1 Chicken Breast, Chopped
160ml Coconut Milk
1/2 Yellow Onion, Chopped Fine
2 Cloves Garlic, Minced
1 Tbsp Olive Oil
1 Tbsp Smooth Natural Peanut Butter
1 Tbsp Carob Syrup
1/2 Tsp Ground Ginger
1/2 Tsp Sugar
1/4 Tsp Cumin
1/4 Tsp Ground Cardamom
1/8 Tsp Ground Coriander
1/8 Tsp Black Pepper
1/8 Tsp Ground Cloves
1/8 Tsp Ground Cinnamon
1/8 Tsp Sea Salt

Method

1. Heat Olive Oil in a large non-stick pan and when warm add Onion and Garlic mix and let cook for 5-10 minutes, on a medium heat, or until soft.

2. Add Spices, Peanut Butter and Chicken stir together and cook for 5 minutes.

3. Turn heat to medium and add Coconut Milk and mix together. Then add Carob Syrup and stir until combined. Turn to medium and cook for 20 minutes. Increase heat if sauce needs to thicken more, but don’t let the Coconut Milk boil.

Have You Tried Thumb Twiddling?

Wasn’t there an essay by Tolstoy wherein he suggested thumb twiddling as a replacement for smoking? Maybe you could take it up to fill in the void my absences leave. Fear not and remove the thumb from your mouth because yet again here I am, reader. Hmmm? What happened to the dear? It got to costly to continue with, geddit? No? Okay, you’ll remain dear reader, but what does that make me? Brilliant Blogger? Jocund Jack? Wondrous Writer? Special Scribe? That odd young man that makes the weird recipes?! Quiet! I’m still young. I can’t get old yet, I haven’t accomplished enough yet. I mean, I look at all these people younger than I am, with their achievements and accomplishments and I think to myself: I should start buying seeds soon. Mind like a steel trap, that’s me, I never get distracted. So, what was I saying? Carob right.

 photo WP_20161218_001_e_zpsyyji3tnt.jpgThey might look disgusting. No. That’s all.

Carob marks the seventh variations for my Buckwheat Tortillas, not much to say. It tastes strongly of carob. You can make silly “pretzels” with the dough, goes well with peanut butter. I’m a tad distracted, I’m just now a few days past the two year mark waiting for my excess skin removal surgery. Whatever you call it. I’ve been thinking, a terrible habit, stick to the thumb twiddling, and it’s funny that we use the euphemism: “Struggling with their weight” to comment on someone’s weight. Or the over-abundance of same. Just a quick note, if ever you feel compelled to comment on someone’s weight to them or others regarding them, unless you’ve been through it and are still able to sympathize then don’t, you’ll feel better sure, they’ll feel worse and it’s ever more complicated than tell them to lose it. Even if you have the perfect plan, the ideal solution, just no. No. If you have any buts to address to me, please post them anywhere else, I’m not getting into this. Yes, it needs discussion, but the large, bad joke, majority go about it in the most horrifying way. So, if we’re not talking about being overweight, aka: “struggling with our weight” then what in blue blazes was the point of this? Language! There are dear readers present! Well, the struggle doesn’t necessarily end at the point the weight goes. Goes where? Quietly into the good night. Although my weight has been stable for over four years I still struggle. If I don’t watch what I eat, if I decide to binge or indulge too often it could all start to slip back on. Maybe not to the extreme it was before, when I look at old photos my heart breaks for the person I was then, but I could still edge back into bad health. If I didn’t fight with my struggle, if I didn’t overcome my struggles every day then I wouldn’t be where I am now. So, yes, even “thin” people can struggle with their weight. It’s one of the reasons I only bake once a week. I’d love to try recipe after recipe, but I can’t. My health is more important than blog posts, even more important than my readership, though you are treasured, it’s all consuming in its importance. So, if ever I’m at a lost what to post, I won’t worry. I’ll just be the best I can.

I just wanted that out of my head. I want this surgery so badly, every day I wake up and every night I go to sleep wanting it, needing it. I just wish they’d told me it’d take years, not the months they implied. It was a cruel kind of hope they gave me. Sorry, dearest darling readers, you beacons of better days, this has been mopey. You’ll forgive me right? If not then you’re no longer eggs in my coffee! Hah! Okay, back to blissful idiocy! What? Putting it on? Me? No, I’m really an idiot, I have the papers and everything. Until we meet again…dear reader.

Carob Oreos

 photo WP_20160914_002_e_zpspljlv3j8.jpgIt looks like a failed cooking experiment in a cartoon.

It’s me again, Dearest reader, with a new recipe. Aren’t you…THESE ARE DOG BISCUITS. I’M SORRY! *Cough* Now, now, hear me out. Don’t give me those Puppy Dog eyes! I’m sorry, I’ll be serious. Yeah, okay, this is a dog biscuit, but the ingredients are suitable, and really they’re used everywhere, for humans. They’re a healthy dog biscuit. What interested me was the lack of sugar. That and it uses carob, which insultingly is now considered for dogs rather than people. What a waste of good ingredient. It should be for us and our furry friends. I for one like carob, as does Naru, who ate hers plain. She doesn’t get too much carob as it makes her drink too much. So, where are we? Well, we’re eating dog biscuits. I used the carob dough from the above recipe, which when made up and baked is plain, but edible. So I thought I’d fill it with some buttercream and you know, it really worked. I was surprised. I suppose whenever I use buttercream it’s in an already sweet recipe and you lose the sweetness of it. Here it works as a contrast to the dry, unsweetened biscuit.

 photo WP_20160914_004_e_zps3pxage85.jpgI forget how many it made. About twenty. I think.

So, we get a carob oreo. Which are absurdly dark. Black as pitch as the saying goes. I did vacillate in whether to call them that or Vanilla Buttercream centred Carob Buckwheat Biscuits (A mouthful, eh?). A bit of cheekiness in the naming, but they bare some similarities to that ubiquitous cookie. A somewhat hard biscuit with a strong taste, carob is no chocolate sure, but it has a flavour profile that changes with coupled ingredients. No sugar means a taste more like dark chocolate. Just less bitter. Now, you and me, informed reader, know that copycat recipes rarely work as well unless they use similar ingredients, chances are they work because they change so much. This isn’t an oreo, don’t think that for a moment. I actually don’t, didn’t I guess, like oreos. This is a carob oreo, so if anyone has made this before, well, then I’m sunk, but as it stands I assume I’m the only one. So, if anyone make this and it doesn’t taste like this then they’re wrong. That’s just the way it is. Joking of course. This is just a biscuit with a lot less sugar than I could’ve used normally. A but of fun that turned out much better than I’d have thought it would’ve. It dunked well in a cup of rooibos tea.

 photo WP_20160914_006_e_zpsbjzyqujv.jpgI baked them in two batches, no need to chill the second batch.

I’m going backwards here. The dough is a hodgepodge of ingredients. It comes together fast, it’s basic, but easy to roll. I have better recipes for this kind of thing, but if you want a no sugar recipe, well there’s honey, oh, that sugar free bit confuses me, if you want a “low sugar”, a “no refined sugar”, a recipe without cane sugar is what I’m saying, then here we go. One caveat, this is really filling, deceptively so. That’s one of the reasons it caught my eye, there’s a lot of good stuff, that’s a technical term, packed in. You won’t feel quite so guilty when eating these, not that you should ever feel guilty eating. Stop lecturing? Got it! So if you want you could take the biscuit and eat it plain or you could find a healthier filling. Do share if you have any suggestions. Until next time.

 photo WP_20160914_007_e_zpsegcqmgbk.jpgDouble stuff them if you’d like.

Jack Update: (I feel as if I should dash out of the room and dash back) I grew chillies! I can’t eat them, but I grew them. The butternut squash experiment failed as the person who started the seeds left them too long in small pots. I’m not humorously referring to myself, I got them from someone else. I don’t do that to my pal the squash. There was one setting, but it died in the cold. They’ve been shoved, pummelled and compressed into the compost bins. Yeah, bins plural, there were a lot of vines. The good thing is the teepees held perfectly so if I wanted to try again next year with my own seeds I could grow them vertically again. As it is now there’s little growth, but a huge task in front of your old pal Jack. I need to dig out and lay down plastic in two huge areas. Then one gets sunken pots, wooden edging. Another gets the same, minus the pots and an additional grassy area for growing next year. I foresee pots in the rough areas when nothing can grow. Once the plastic is down it should make the weeds manageable. Another planter, the last thankfully, needs to be prepared. I also want to move a rain-barrel so more fiddling with guttering. I hope this means all next year will be devoted to growing and this will have all been worthwhile. Spare a thought for Dear Jack, will you kindest of readers, he has high hopes and not much else. Until we meet again.

Ingredients

Biscuits

200g Buckwheat Flour
75g Natural Peanut Butter
1 Medium Egg (65g in Shell)
1/2 Ripe Banana (About 35g), Mashed
35g Carob Powder
1 Tbsp Coconut Oil, Room Temperature
1 Tbsp Honey
1/4 Tsp Baking Powder
Dash Vanilla Extract

Filling

150g Icing Sugar
35g Butter, Room Temperature
Dash Vanilla Extract
Milk as Needed

Method

Biscuits

1. Preheat oven to 150c (Fan) and line a baking tray with greaseproof paper.

2. Mix together all the wet ingredients until smooth. Then stir in rest with a fork until a crumbly dough has started to form. Start to knead together, wet hands if dough is too dry and still crumbly, until a firm dough has been formed.

3. Roll out the dough to about 1/4 inch thickness, dough might crack and crumble slightly just rework it as needed, and cut out rounds, place them on the prepared tray and prick gently with a fork. Bake for 10-12 minutes until hard. Transfer to a wire-rack to cool completely.

Filling

1. Beat everything together with an electric mixer, adding Milk if too dry, until a fluffy white Buttercream has been achieved. A firmer buttercream works best. Add more Icing Sugar if too runny.

2. Pipe a dollop of Buttercream onto a biscuit and place another on top, pressing down until filling reaches the edge.

Microwave Caramel Sauce

Story time. I woke to to a confusing scene. Two dogs, a terrier and a big German Shepard standing atop our oil tank. Yeah, oh, it gets better. The small dog fell off and yours truly had to to pick him up, a relatively strange dog, and pass him back to my friend the German Shepard, who kissed me because I’m the dog whisperer now. That was my day. I tell you, babies and dogs have a strange grá (So that’s how you spell that) for me. That’s it for the story of me. I have a recipe that I wasn’t sure would work and yet another that’s just a tweak, but I’ll list it in full here too.

 photo WP_20160622_024_e_zpsziue1ing.jpgI keep meaning to take better photos, but I just don’t have the skill.

Original recipe here. A really simple microwave sauce. It really makes a nice caramel sauce, handy if you have the ingredients to hand, but if you had to buy them you might be better going with a traditional sauce. This one was really hot coming out so I let it cool and it started to thicken really well. There’s not a lot to say, this is a really handy recipe, but the double cream does stop it for being a handy throw together, at least for me, I don’t often have double cream to hand. It makes quite a bit of sauce. I just poured it over pancakes with peanut butter. Microwave recipes can be really great, I’m often surprised. I’m not a snob, it’s just I grew up on rubbery scrambled eggs from the microwave and never knew you could make them in a pan until I was much older. We live and learn, eh?

Ingredients

2 Tbsp Brown Sugar
1 Tbsp Butter
1 Tbsp Double Cream
Pinch Salt

Method

1. Heat the Butter in a jug for 30 seconds and stir.

2. Add everything else and whisk together with a fork. Heat for another 30 seconds.

3. Heat for a further 15 seconds. Either serve warm or let cool for a thicker sauce.


 photo WP_20160622_022_e_zpsgi1q8mxw.jpgIt looks like it’s chocolate, but it’s not. Hah! I gave up chocolate years ago and I’m still bitter…

Ever wonder what happened to the other beet? Well, here we are. Carob and Beetroot Buckwheat Muffins, naturally a tweak on my own recipe. Listed there too. I was just going to do beetroot, but I wanted to mask the flavour somewhat. It does help, you can’t taste the beetroot as much, but you do end up with a browner muffin. The vegetable purée does help the muffins stay moist which is always a problem when it comes to carob. The beet helps to avoid that grey look carob sometimes gets when baked. This was pretty nice on the whole, I made them a bit sweeter, but you could adjust to suit your own tastes. I actually blended the wet ingredients in a blender as my food processor was too large for such a small bit of beetroot. Do whatever suits, as long as the beetroot is blended you’re golden.

 photo WP_20160622_023_e_zpsstcjvwgt.jpgThey were a bit flatter than usual.

Ingredients

100g Buckwheat Flour
1/2 Tbsp Baking Powder
1/2 Tbsp Butter/Coconut Oil, Melted/Olive Oil
1 Medium Egg
75g Roast Beetroot Purée 
50g Brown Sugar
15g Carob Powder
1/2 Tsp Vanilla Extract

Makes 6 Muffins. Can be frozen.

Method

1. Pre-heat the oven to 175c (Fan). Grease and Flour (Use Brown Rice Flour) a Muffin tin with Butter.

2. Add Buckwheat Flour, Carob and Baking Powder to a large bowl and set aside.

3. Add the Egg, Vanilla Extract, Sugar, Roast Beetroot Purée and Butter to a jug and whisk until Sugar has dissolved then add that to the Flour mixture and stir together until fully incorporated. Add Water until a gooey, stirrable Batter has been formed.

4. Pour Batter into Muffin tins, about 2/3rds full and bake for 15 minutes, turning half way if needed. Then remove from oven and cool for 10 minutes and let cool completely on a wire-rack.

Chia Egg and Buckwheat Flour Five Months In

Give or take. Just a quick post, this is one of those failure posts. Well, it’s only a slight failure. I was making a triple batch of Carob Soba Noodles and everything was fine and dandy, the noodles all held wonderfully, lovely long strands with no breaking. Then after I made them and was packing them they broke. I’m so ashamed, nah, not really, but it’s a shame. I of course tossed them away in disgust, by which I mean I swore at them, bagged them and popped them in the freezer. Pasta is pasta dear reader of mine, regardless of the shape it all tastes pretty similar. So, you might want to know what this is about. I don’t blame you.

Oh, you’re still here? Okay, then it’s actually something I noticed before when using chia egg as a binder in soba noodles: It tends to dry out fast and makes them brittle. So make them fresh. That’s it, Yup. But here’s the thing: I had to learn this from noting as this is my own creation. That’s a strange thing to say and it’s not out of a desire to be a braggart, more out of the desire to inform. I’m learning as I go and it can take a while to really tell why something goes awry. I don’t often make these noodles so it has taken me a long time to see the slight flaw in them. Cook them fresh and you’ll never have any trouble. Let’s face it, any free-from baking has a lot of stipulations attached to it, but having to make fresh noodles, which is better anyway, isn’t so bad.

So, what about the chia egg and the passage of time? Well, it’s been five months or so and this is still an amazing combination. The dough I made was re-worked five times and was perfect until it started to dry out. Now one warning is that it will take a lot of work kneading and smashing the dough when making soba with it. Say a good ten to fifteen minutes. With the pastry you have more moisture and that will make it vastly easier to work and re-work. Still, watching it form into a stretchy dough that could be rolled out wafer thin and cut into thin fold-able strips was a real joy. It’s so simple, but it works so well. Sure, today I ended up with broken strands but they’ll taste fine and I’ll have learned a little more about this technique. That’s what this is all about: Learning. You start from nothing when you enter the free-from scene and you’ll have plenty of opportunities to create new ideas as there’s a lot out there waiting to be created and discovered. Maybe chia egg and buckwheat flour isn’t a huge discovery, but being able to knead dough for Pastry, Soba and Tortillas that can be reworked, won’t crumble and will stretch and roll out super-thin is still marvellous to me. Maybe when I’m an even older hand at all this I’ll be slightly more jaded, but for now this is still really neat. Let’s hope I can do even more in the future. With all your support I know I’ll have the drive to keep at this. Thank you everyone who has checked out the site. It means a lot.

Bonus!

I wanted a wide slice of my Buckwheat and Flax Bread and thought I’d try an old trick. I split the batter into three 4 /12 spring-form pans and baked it as normal, alongside a full sized loaf, and it worked just great. You get about four slices worth in each, which for sandwiches is just ideal. It’s a simple idea, but not something I’ve done in a long time. You could make one whole loaf this way too, but I just wanted a couple of large thin slices for a sandwich. I’ll leave one out and freeze the others, then cut up the loaf and freeze that too. It freezes really well. Okay, that’s it for today. Until later.

 photo WP_20160425_008_e_zpsu9nbexbn.jpgOh, buckwheat. You do me good.

O Carob! My Carob!

 photo IMGP4050_e_zpsazjjtqiq.jpgClumsily displayed, but packed with goodness.

You know what’s a real shame? That carob is so underutilized in savoury cooking and baking. I know there’s this strange stigma against carob, the whole “It’s the poor man’s chocolate” is an unfair argument. Yes, it makes a terrible chocolate substitute, but then again chocolate makes for a terrible carob substitute. Oh, yes, I’m going there. They aren’t interchangeable, at least as flavour goes, as a cocoa substitute it’s functional at least, but this little ingredient deserves better than to be used in dog biscuits.  I’ve used it in Curry and now I present to you, what I’ve started thinking of as the poor man’s matcha noodles: Carob Soba Noodles! I can feel the stares starting already. That’s why I made these and took a chance, I’m tired of looking for carob recipes and only finding reiterated benefits and cookies. I’ve used it in a few ways myself, breads and sweets mostly, but I’m going to take on the challenge of changing our idea of how carob should be used. I don’t know how many recipes I’ll manage to create or if there’ll be many at all. I’m just going to look at what I have and see where carob could be used. It’s too good a food to let it languish in the cupboard. These may be unique, I’ve never seen anything like then, but you never know. I think this time that tradition has been firmly defenestrated. But let’s talk noodles today.

 photo 2016-01-17-801_e_zpsh29ccyv5.jpgRoll it out. Flatter! Flatter!!

 photo 2016-01-17-802_e_zpsyevcnpdk.jpgAh, Chia Egg my ever wonderful binder.

Now I’ve already expounded the virtues of chia egg and buckwheat working with one another. So I’ll stick to the carob side of these noodles, as always the recipe is on the main recipe page linked above. Firstly: The inspiration or, What the heck are you doing!?! I was actually looking for a savoury tahini and carob sauce for pasta, naturally finding no luck in my searches, but I did see a site selling wheat and carob pasta and stubborn fool that I am I decided that if they could make it work I could too. Yeah, big factory manufacturing pasta by the ton versus, well, me. One problem instantly appeared, carob can make baked goods drier if used in excess. So I had to decide how much to use and when I was doing it I also read the ingredients to the pasta, which made me think of using carob to replace some of the flour instead of as an addition. I won’t keep you in suspense, it did work wonderfully that way. The noodles came together the same way, faster since I’m getting to be a practised hand at this, and they cooked just perfectly. The chia egg gives them a bit of bite and the carob gave them a wonderful aroma and a subtle taste.

 photo 2016-01-17-804_e_zpslx9quezd.jpgFold them if you like, they won’t stick or break when using chia.

So, what did carob do for the noodles? Well in conjunction with my Sweet Almond Tahini Sauce it gave the whole meal a sweetness that really popped. You see what I find with carob is that when combined with sugar the inherent sweetness of carob is brought out and when left with little to no added sweetness it has a much milder savoury flavour. I’d describe carob as a sweet dark chocolate, contradictory unless you consider what I just typed. It’s duality is interesting. It’s what you use it with that changes the carob. I also find it pairs well well with nut butters, especially peanut butter hence the sauce (Though I do have a Peanut Butter Dressing too). I’m no great shakes when it comes to combining flavours, I know what I know well, but when it comes to flavours and matching foods I do struggle. Carob is something I feel that in the right hands could blow us all away. There’s a flavour profile there that’s very complex, but it’d take better than me to figure out all the intricacies. I’m just me, eating brown noodles because I got pig-headed about it late last night. I’d re-visit these noodles though, mark my words, these are something unique and worth trying if you can. So, where does that leave us? I’m not sure, I may have to try carob in place of flour instead of as an addition in my baking to see if the breads can be made less dry, though it may be the fault of the buckwheat in some recipes. A vegetable or fruit purée is probably the answer in those cases. As for carob, well, maybe there’ll be a clever soul who can figure out other savoury uses, I’ll keep trying too, but help is always appreciated. For now I leave you with this, my knock against the unfair dislike of carob. We who do not eat chocolate salute your efforts carob, but it’s time to shine on your own merits. Until later!

 photo IMGP4049_e_zpsanzkwn2g.jpgThey look like some kind of strange alien chocolate.

Oh! A PS if you will. I made these last night and left them in the fridge in a container and they were just fine. I gave them a toss in flour before I put them away and there was no sticking or breaking at all. I will try freezing them eventually.

Festive Recipe Round Up

2016

You’ve caught me, dear reader, I’m updating this on the Q.T. I’ll reblog it nearer the season, there are enough people bring the festivities out too soon already so I won’t add to the misery, or mayhem. The fun? Don’t be silly. Same idea, probably not a huge number of recipes to add. But there are still all the originals to choose from so it’ll all turn out good in the end. Same as before, a bit of fun and recipes collect by similarity. You ain’t seen me, right?

 photo WP_20160731_002_e_zpsyzoxqqty.jpgSadly I don’t have any Harlequin squash left *Sniff*

Toasty and Roasty

I’m running out of title gags, cut me some slack, dear reader. Now though I’ve mentioned a few vegetable sides I’d be remiss to neglect the duo of Roast Cauliflower and Roast Broccoli. Now, prepping vegetables can be a pain. Here’s where this comes in so handy: You can blanch and freeze your own vegetables. Both these work well from frozen and all you need do is drizzle some oil, season and roast. Simple, a crispy crunchy side. Speaking of crispy, perhaps better as a snack, but I’m never fussy when it comes to crunch. We have Roasted Julienned Sweet Potatoes. With nightshade intolerance a lot of vegetables, especially the ones I love, are forever out of my scope of eatables, but as you can see there are a variety of options when it comes to vegetables. Even the ones you might not like become better when roasted.

 photo WP_20160922_005_e_zps4wdvatds.jpgServe your caviar on pigweed crackers!

Giftables and Guest-ables

You, dearest reader, might be playing host. Sometimes the simple things are best. There are two options for crackers, Buckwheat and Amaranth. For canopies if you’re posh, or have delusions of grandeur or if you’re common as your pal, then for smearing cream-cheese on. If you’re really lazy just make the tortillas instead of baking them and pile everything on, I won’t judge. They both cover a lot of diets so that a bonus. On the other hand say you’re playing guest, you could pack up some Honeycomb, Brittle, Fancy Brittle What? It’s French. Therefore it’s fancy. Oh! And Sesame Seed Brittle for the nut-free. I imagine home-made candy makes a great gift, I saw it on TV once. Naturally most baked goods make great gifts. It’s just that candy feels special.

 photo WP_20160821_001_e_zpsznvqrh68.jpgThis nightshade free stuffing is worth getting the ingredients.

Harlequin? I Assure You I’m Not Joking

What are the odds of you having harlequin squash to hand, probably not good, but hope springs eternal and as far as potato replacements go it’s the best I’ve found. So for nightshade free roast potatoes we have Faux ones made with Harlequin squash. Not to be outdone I also have Stuffing for you, a traditional family recipe. You can’t beat a simple sage and sausage stuffing. You might be lucky enough to have fresh sage still growing. Even if you just sauté them, harlequin squashes are a wonderful side and delicious all year round.

 photo WP_20160503_003_e_zpsfhqbkbwk.jpgWith or without pastry lemon curd and meringue is a match made in heaven.

Spreading Sweetness and Light

I don’t know how traditional a Lemon Meringue Tart is, but in our house it was mandatory. You’ll need to assemble it from other recipes, three to be precise, but it isn’t as daunting as it sounds. You’ll want your Pastry, use the chia egg for easy rolling out, then make some Lemon Curd, with an option to just use the egg yolks so you can save the whites for your Meringue Topping. You could make little Meringues if you’d rather, maybe as little snowmen or women. At any holiday that involves food you’ll find everything is fair game, so why don’t I go all out go all out and mention this Strawberry Mousse.

If you’ve stumbled across this page then you might want to pop back nearer the holidays as it might see some more additions. I’m not big on holidays, which is a very polite way of saying I have on occasion abhorred them. I’m getting better at indifference. This is just a little help for those who do love them, but struggle when looking for suitable recipes. I like to think it will help someone out there.


2015

Now I’ll be the first to admit that I’m not big on the holidays, but I realise that there are plenty of people out there who love this time of year, so rather than being a Scrooge, or a Grinch, I’ll instead be compiling a list of my recipes that could be said to fit into the festive theme. They really just fall into desserts and sides, but I’ll try to lump them together in a slightly more fun and creative way. All recipes will be hyper-linked so just follow them to their respective pages. This is going to be more of a pain thanks to WordPress changing the way links work, but I’ll persevere, for the children, the poor little babbies! *Picks up baby* Look at it…poor little guy *Tosses it over shoulder* So, this list is just my meagre contribution. I will say one thing, lord knows you can’t shut me up even if you try, do remember that it’s just one day, it’s not the end all and be all of everything, if you can’t eat all you want then it’s no big deal and remember waiting until New Year to start the journey to a “new” you is useless if you precede it with a huge binge. I started when I first thought of it, I didn’t wait for a specific date and it’s worked for me. If you start anything start at that very moment of decision and steel your resolve. I’m just being pre-emptively cranky, tis the season, but really, I hope this helps make the season more fun/a little easier. Onwards an upwards! To the recipes.

Keep an eye on this throughout the month, I may have more recipes to add as time rolls on.

 photo IMGP3826_e_zps8yvvzrmv.jpg

Flah La Flah…etc

Roll-out Biscuits that hold their shape. An original recipe made especially for this time of year. For the young and the young at heart. Check out the page for details. I may look into these again soon, a really enjoyable recipe.

Tis the Season for Giving.

 photo IMGP3807 - Copy_e_zpseoketrtk.jpg

Okay, back again with a new recipe. Another gingerbread cookies, this time a Buckwheat one. Hit the page up for the full recipe. I used half an egg rather than a flax egg because I feel you need the rise an egg provides. You can do half or just follow the recipe for a full 22 cookies, it can vary depending on the sugar, but only by a cookie or two. I was going to try these with treacle as it goes really well with the spice blend, but I’d be weary on the stability, thankfully dark muscovado sugar gives them enough of that treacly taste to compliment the warming spices of the blend. A crunchy exterior and fluffy interior make for a lovely cookie. A few lines of simple icing would finish these off a treat.

 photo 2015-11-03 23.53.23_e_zpsvusmfkrg.jpgSautéed Sweet Potato with Butternut Squash Gravy.

Sweet Potatoes, Not Just for Thanksgiving

Go nightshade free and you’ll hear nothing but sweet potatoes. I honestly hated them at first, but I’ve grown to love them. Sadly it’s a love kept in check by moderation, they don’t love me quite as much. Sweet potatoes make a handy side dish so you can have them a few different ways. Sautéed Sweet Potato with SP Seasoning (Two ways) is time consuming, but not as daunting as it sounds. Squash works here too, maybe try both for a real variety of flavour. How about Muffins? Sure it’s an unusual choice, they’re better with a blob of butter, but nothing says you have to have them as a dessert. They’re on the Buckwheat Muffin Page. If all else a nice SP Mash can’t be a bad option either. The muffin and Mash cane be prepared ahead of time and frozen. I’ll be mentioning what can be frozen as it really helps to plan ahead.

No Potatoes? No Problem!

My nightshade intolerance is showing up a lot, huh? I have no idea how common it is, but it’s plagued me all my life. At times where potato dishes are ubiquitous it becomes a real pain, but mash isn’t out of the question! You could opt for a Chickpea Mash, which really makes a great substitute for potato. Butternut makes a lovely mash, a dash of salt and pepper and you’re all set, a better variety for a potato like experience is a Harlequin squash, but a butternut will be just as good. Now onto the odder side of things it’s: Cashew Butter Amaranth! Thick and delicious, it’s a shame I can’t get it here any more. Even plain, or maybe stock cooked, amaranth would make a great side. Quinoa is a nice option too. Remember you can use anything here in conjunction with another recipe, mix it all up and see what you can create. The butternut would be the best for freezing, the chickpeas are a maybe, but I never tried them. Quinoa can be frozen and reheated.

Good Gravy!

Do remember to check out the respective pages to see what allergies are accounted for, a lot of recipes have a lot of accommodating options. Just two this time the ever wonderful Cashew Butter Gravy and the Nut Free Butternut Squash Gravy. The cashew gravy was born from a mistake and was made a few Christmases ago. As far as freezing goes I’d say you should try making them fresh, but they both should be freezable, the BNS suffers a bit in the colour department after freezing. Remember you can use any stock you like so they can be vegan as well.

 photo WP_20161121_007_e_zpsgltza8dd.jpgFor my best pastry yet check here.

An Empty Shell is like a Blank Canvas

You know my Buckwheat Flour Pastry, best with a chia egg. Imagine the possibilities here, a Curd, maybe an easier version of my Bakewell from last year, fill them with gluten free mincemeat and you’re set. Maybe individual Cheesecakes, no bake. I don’t recall ever having tried freezing the pastry, I imagine it could work, but you’d be best to test it out first with something small. It’s worked so easily and can be rolled so thin it’s really versatile, I imagine baking for a large crowd would open up a lot of options.

Gingerbread: The Taste of Christmas

You have to love Gingerbread, whether it be in Cookies, or Muffins, as a separate Blend, for hot drinks, baking or maybe just as a gift, a decadent Loaf, whatever you decide it’s important to remember you’re not limited to these recipes, take the spice blend and run wild. All but the cookies can be frozen in advance. I love the blend when combined with treacle and muscovado sugar. A decorative cake tin might really make the loaf stand out, a little frosting or just a dusting of icing sugar and you’d have a great centre piece.

Drink up!

I’m afraid this is a short one, I don’t drink alcohol or eat chocolate. So this is just an old recipe in the Nutella Hot Chocolate and a simple one in the Hot Carob Drink. It can be a pain when you can’t have what others are having, but try not to let it bother you. If they persist, just throw a baby at them. That’s socially acceptable, right? (Don’t do that. Just ignore them and find something you can enjoy, not throwing babies though)

The Odds and Ends Round Up

If you’re having guests, or you’d just like a cheeky slice of something sweet try my Flourless Nut Cake, they’re a bit of work in the preparation, but worth every second. They present lovely, but only keep a few days so eat up. For a freezable option, no one need know, try my Treacle and Tea Bread or perhaps a Fruit Loaf, a slightly more traditional option, but much faster to prepare. Thankfully the latter two are pretty low in sugar so you can have quite a bit without worrying over-much. Lastly we have some Rice Stuffing and Mixed Spice, the stuffing freezes well, it’s best enjoyed in small portions as it is very strong. The spice blend is a common one, but add it to cakes and loafs for a festive kick.

So that’s it from me. I’ll add any new recipes that pop up so do check back over time. You could do anything you like from my hundreds of recipes I just thought I’d put together a few that really fit in with the season. As for me it’d be a quick dinner and maybe a dessert, this is the day I take a lazy day. It’s a 365 job, no eating out and no breaks so I don’t make a big fuss over this day. I’ll just make a curry, double it, freeze it and have it Christmas day and have  a cold turkey dinner the next day. Like I say it’s just one day, but if you are making a celebration of it I hope this list helped somewhat. Take care.