Morning Oatmeal pancakes with Sweet Potato hash

Oh Delia, oh trusty crackle-covered paper-back Delia.

Pancake day has always had an accidental structure in our house. We’d never remember the day, but when reminded, there was an autopilot plan-of-action. After digging out ye olde faithful Delia, the batter would be made, there would be some jaw-dropping pancake flipping demonstrations, and in turn we would take it in turns to have the freshly made crepes with our go to dressing, butter/sugar/ribena.

Much has changed since these days. For one, there are no longer classmates to remind us of the day-we now wait for a mention on the radio or an overheard conversation. We now use a regular spatula to flip the pancakes and the prized batter-making baton has been passed down to me,and sadly that means Delia just doesnt cut in anymore. I have rather a rotating collection of pancake recipes now, one for all sorts of occasions, however somehow a whole load of butter, milk, flour and sugar just doesnt seem to strike me as a real option anymore.

INGREDIENTS   –  1 medium banana   –  3/4 Cup of Oats   –   1Tbsp Peanut Butter (optional)   –   pinch of salt   –  1/2 medium sweet potato   –  olive oil

METHOD

1) grate the sweet potato and begin to brown in a pan drizzled with oil. Add some water to the pan if you wish to avoid using much oil, i find this helps make the potato soft.

2) mash the banana throughly and add the peanut butter. When combined add the salt and oats and stir through.

3) in a lightly greased pan, dollop some of the oat mixture and press down into a flat circle with a spatula. adjusting the thickness of the pancake will alter how chewy the centre is.

4) Flip the pancake, when the underside is browned. I then topped with marmite and the sweet potato hash.

Raspberry and Marzipan-stuffed Lemon Cupcakes with Lemon Buttercream frosting

Over analysing the number of kisses, the mysterious handwriting, the elusive postage stamp. As I was growing up, February 14th fascinated me as each year it added yet another piece to the puzzle. Who had been sending me cards for as long as I could remember? I can still remember the disappointment at finding out that it was in fact my dad, and not my very own secret admirer.

Somehow I think I missed the point of Valentines.

A hallmark-sponsored mess of rosy tones shimmering and feathery, commercialized in an excuse to demand material gifts…wherever your for or against the holiday, one shouldn’t refuse the opportunity to let the people in your life know that you appreciate them.

INGREDIENTS    -   1 1/2 Cup A.P flour   –   1 tsp baking powder   –   1/4 tsp baking soda   –  pinch of salt   –  3/4 Cup brown sugar   –  1/3 Cup sunflower oil   –   1 Cup coconut milk   –   2 tsp vanilla extract   –   1 tsp finely grated lemon zest   –  1 tsp lemon juice   –    1/3 Cup chopped marzipan (vegan)

PREHEAT OVEN TO 180°C (360°F)

1.  Sift the flour, b.powder, b.soda and salt together into a large roomy mixing bowl.

2.  In a separate bowl, stir the sugar, oil, coconut milk, vanilla and lemony things together. Add the wet to the dry, and thoroughly combine being careful not to overmix.

3. Carefully fold in the chopped marzipan, and spoon into 12 cupcake cases, 2/3 full.

4. Bake for 20 minutes, or until they pass the skewer test.

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FILLING INGREDIENTS

-   3/4 Cup Raspberry Jam   –  squeeze of lemon zest   –  sprinkle of almond essence

5. When your cakes are cooled, use a knife to take a pyramid-shaped cone out. Remove the cone, eat the cone, and fill with jammy filling.

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FROSTING INGREDIENTS

-  1/2 Cup  vegan butter  -  3 Cup icing sugar   –  2 tbsp lemon juice

6. My frosting is completely taste-guided, therefore add more or less of the lemon/sugar as you see fit. Load into a piping twizzler and twirl on the top of the cupcake. Sprinkle a few flaked almonds or sprinkles for the piece de resistance.

Lime and Avocado Cookies

I could probably spend a whole day perusing food blogs … in fact, im pretty sure that i have spent a whole day perusing food blogs. The photos draw me in, then i quickly scan the ingredients list. Here im looking whether or not my pantry will allow for immediate creation and then next I’m checking that there’s a reasonably low-level of fat in the ingredients most of the time. If they pass this test, they go in to a favourites folder marked “baking bucket”. On rainy days when I lack craving-based inspiration, the folder gets opened up and it’s time for edit-mode.

I was originally drawn to this recipe because of the use of cream cheese. Having overestimated the requirements for my first ever vegan cheesecake experiment, I was left with two spare pots of Toffuti, and no real way of using it. Alas my relief at finding the original recipe in my foodie-folder. The combination of cream cheese and avocado allows for a creamy texture with a level of fat that doesn’t come from straight butter. mixed with sugar and lime zest and I could literally eat this batter all day long. It makes for a cookie with a smooth but crisp exterior, and chewy dense inside that enhances the delicate hints of flavour that sit so well next to a cup of tea.

INGREDIENT   –   1/2 Cup Toffuti cream cheese    - 1 medium avocado   –  1/2 Cup vegan butter    -  1 Cup sugar   –  zest and juice of one lime   –  1 tsp vanilla essence   –  2 Cups all-purpose flour

PREHEAT OVEN TO 180°C (360°F)

1. Cream the cream cheese, avocado and butter together. I’d suggest using a handheld mixer here as you don’t want big chunks of guacamole in your cookies.

2. Add the sugar, vanilla essence and lime zest & juice, and beat together until it is all consistently distributed. Taste – you wont regret it.

3. Bit by bit, sift the flour in to the mix and fold in carefully.

4. By now you’ll notice that the dough is too sticky to roll but too thick to be melted down in the oven. Here yu can either use wet hands to roll and flatten into little patty-shaped rounds, or for a prettier effect, feed into a piping tube and twizzle into little swirls. Almost like vienesse whirls hey.

5. Bake for about 10 minutes, or until golden brown with golden bases.

Blissful Banana-Chocolate Brownies

A lot of my memories of recurring family traditions revolve in some way around food. While I’d rather not think too much about the friday night trip for Happy Meals (god bless my insides), there’s something unique about sharing food with loved ones that makes memory-making inevitable.

There was a period of time when i was about 10, that we used to have family outings to the cinema. We’d choose something that we wanted to see, and go for a bite to eat before hand.They weren’t all that regular, maybe once every month or so, and whilst i struggle to remember the film titles, i significantly remember the food before hand. We were never a big starter family, but dessert was something that we all enjoyed. A specific dessert in particular-The Godfather.  As with all chocolate sharing desserts, there was more cream than substance, but the base was essentially chocolate and vanilla ice cream, pockets of hot chocolate sauce, and crumbled-up brownies. Over the big glass bowl with four teaspoons, it was a race to see who could uncover the fudgey cakes first, and a race that i was always too eager to win.

While these brownies aren’t made in the traditional all-american, egg-heavy manner, they certainly ‘ taste any bit less chocolate-fudgey than the originals, and the banana seems to add more to the texture than it does the flavour. Definitely hard to control oneself around.

INGREDIENTS    -  2 1/4 cup all-purpose flour  –   2tsp baking soda    -  1tsp salt   – 2 cups light brown sugar   –  1/4 cup cocoa powder  –   1/4 cup chocolate chips   –  1/4 chopped chocolate chunks   –  1 small banana pureed   – 1 1/2 cup water   –  4tsp apple cider vinegar   –  1/2 cup sunflower oil

PREHEAT OVEN TO 170°C  (340°F)

1. Sieve the flour, baking soda, salt, sugar and cocoa powder into a large mixing bowl. Stir in the chocolate chips coating evenly with flour.

2. In a smaller bowl puree the banana, ensuring a smooth lump-free result. Add the water, oil and vinegar to this, and mix thoroughly.

3. Add the small bowl of wet mixture to the dry ingredients, stirring until both are completely combined. The batter should be smooth and glossy apart from the obvious chocolate chip chunks.

4. Pour into a bake-pan, I used a 9 inch tin and the batter filled about 3/4 of the depth.

5. Bake completely depending on your brownie preferences. 15 minutes will give you a very fudgey undercooked result, whereas 25/30 will give you a much more cake-like brownie. I opted for around 22 and mine came out with a crackled glossy top, cake-like with pockets of fudgey chocolatey joy.

PLEASE NOTE: adapted from recipe on Love Food Eat (see here)

Tomato “Ketchup” soup (for grown ups)

When I was younger, I held an unequivocal love for ketchup. Admittedly i was in no way under the illusion that i was alone in this allegiance, nor was i hardcore enough to create condiment-cornflake concoctions, but I definitely did like to slather my food in the stuff. Sausage and Mash, spaghetti Bolognese, cheese sandwiches, even sunday lunch much to the horror of my brother. It wasn’t so much the combination that was alarming, it was the sheer necessity, and even now i do often feel the need to add a quick squirl over my dinner. Looking back it’s easy to recognise that it’s purely down to the high sugar levels and my sneaky-but-in-no-way-secret sweet tooth, however there’s also a whole heap of other stuff on the ingredient list (amidst the junk) that captured my imagination.

Vinegar, celery, onion, garlic…

I like to make soup. And i like to make soup on cold wintery days. Today was a cold wintery day…

You see where im going with this whole list thing. With a fridge full of cherry tomatoes teetering on the edge of “best before” I decided to play the master at its own game and tackle Heinzless ketchup soup. Upon reflection it doesn’t taste too much like ketchup, but that isn’t necessarily a bad thing considering it contains only natural sugars and a high hit of vitamin A, C and K (thats healthy sight, cells and blood to you and me).

INGREDIENTS  -  500g halved Cherry tomatoes (plum or beef would work too)   –  1 small onion    -  1/2 leek   – 2 sticks of celery   –  1/2 red pepper   –   a few sundried tomatoes   –  dash of olive oil   –  a dash of balsamic   – 2 cloves of garlic   –  salt & pepper   –  3 cups of water

Preheat your oven to 180°C (360°F)

1. Place your halved tomatoes in a medium-sized bake-tray and drizzle with oil and balsamic and seasoning with salt and pepper. Chop the garlic in half and stud around the tomatoes. After giving it all a good shake around, put in the oven for around 25-30 minutes depending on the size of tomatoes used.

2. Chop all the remaining vegetables into small squares, rings or chunks depending on your creative persuasion, and begin to heat some oil in a large saucepan. When the oil is hot enough, add the onion. After a 5 minute headstart, add the rest of the vegetables and stir occasionally over a low heat, until they are soft and browned.

3. By now your tomatoes should look shrivelled, and be swimming in a pan of tomato juice and vinegar. Add all of this to the pan of vegetables, and add the 3 cups of water. Cover and simmer for about 10 minutes.

4. Nearly there, using a handheld food blender, whizz up the soup until there are no lumps. For a silkier soup you can use a sieve, but then you miss out on all the goodness of the tomato skins. Serve and enjoy.

Vanilla Cupcakes with Peach and Raspberry Jam Frosting

The most restorative things about spending time at my grandparent’s house is the ease and simplicity of familiar routine. Without errands to run, and very few  social obligations timetabled, the time can be spent studying crossword puzzles in front of the fire with thesaurus’ and encyclopedias scattered across collective laps.

Another reason i find it so refreshing, is that 80% of the time is spent focused around food; picking the seasonal crops from the allotment, washing and slicing the vegetables for the roast lunch, kneading homemade bread to rise and bake for breakfast the following day and even using the infamous “crumb collector” to clean away the remnants of freshly enjoyed toast.

One of my favourite moments, synonymous with every trip to date, is the silent scramble to lick the jam spoon after the last dollop has been used in the lull of the post-breakfast haze. Coupling the use of jam as flavouring for the frosting in this recipe, with recollections of the fantastic homemade jam my gran makes in the late summer, these cakes bring about a only warm satisfaction that only happy food and fond memories can create.

INGREDIENTS – 200g all-purpose flour  - 150g golden caster sugar  - 40g vegetable oil  - 1tsp vanilla essence  - 200ml soy milk  - 1tsp apple cider vinegar   - 3/4tsp baking powder  - 1/2 tsp baking soda  - 1/4 tsp salt

Preheat the oven to 175°C (350°F)

1. Mix the vinegar and the milk in a small bowl and allow to curdle. In a larger bowl, combine the oil, sugar and vanilla essence, adding the curdled milk once thick.

2. Gently sift the flour, b.powder, b.soda and salt into the liquid mixture, and beat together until smooth. You can use an electric mixer if you want to ensure a smoother result, with slightly less effort.

3. Carefully spoon the mixture into cake cases. Note that the batter will be runny, so expect drizzly trails on your bake tray. Bake for around 20-25 minutes, or until they appear golden and pass the toothpick test.

FROSTING

INGREDIENTS  - 180g icing sugar  - 1Tbsp flour   - 80g margarine  - 1.5Tbsp peach & raspberry jam - a drop of red food colouring - sprinkle of coconut/glitter/sprinkles

4. Soften the butter in a medium bowl, and slowly sieve in the sugar and flour. Next mix in the jam and colouring, and set in the fridge while the cakes cool.

5. When cooled you can use either a piping gun (or just a spoon and a knife) to ice the tops of the cakes, and decorate with your sprinkle of choice.

Nostalgia until the last bite.