Category Archives: Dairy Free

Moroccan spiced carrots, chickpeas and spelt…

It’s no secret that I love autumn, I love everything about it: the cooler temperatures, the beautiful colours, the changing leaves, the abundance of root vegetables…I didn’t mean to make something that almost epitomises autumn in a bowl, but that’s how it ended up! Maybe it’s just in my soul?!

In the beginning it was going to be a soup, but I can’t always bring myself to blend up the vegetables, they look too good whole, so this morphed into something else, not really a stew because it’s not very liquid, maybe a warm salad, or just as the title of the post says: ‘Moroccan spiced carrots, chickpeas and spelt’. I just kept adding things until I thought it was perfect!

I didn’t measure anything but I do remember how I made it so hopefully I can still share the process and it might be interesting…

In a large saucepan I heated some coconut oil, and added some chopped red onions over a medium heat; after several minutes and once the onions looked liked they were starting to brown, I added chopped garlic, cooked for a minute, then added liberal amounts of a Moroccan spice mix that I made previously. 

Again I cooked this for no more than a minute then added water to stop the spices from burning. I then added a great pile of peeled and chopped carrots, topped up the water until it covered them, added salt and pepper, then brought it to the boil. As the carrots cooked, I added some spelt, then later some chickpeas and chunks of butternut squash that I’d already roasted, chopped coriander (leaves and stalks) and finally some dried barberries for the colour and little surprise shots of their tart sweetness. 

And pretty much left it to bubble away until the carrots were cooked, but not mushy, and the spelt was cooked, adding water when necessary. 

Eating some with some tahini, as I did when it was just made above, you can still see the lovely colours of the individual ingredients. 

By the next day, the flavour had developed even more but the colours had all merged together and become one autumnal palette..

It’s the kind of dish that just gets better and better, and one I’ll be making again and again, and no doubt evolving as I do!

Happy Autumn everyone 🙂

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An update on my fruit yeast water bread…

Further to my previous post about generating wild yeast from fruit and water, I have continued to make more loaves and experiment with different fruits and would like to share some more ideas and tips…

This loaf was made with yeast water derived from an apple

I have now made yeast water from apples, dates, dried figs and a fresh fig. They have all worked well, but so far my favourites are the dates and apples. 

This bubbly water was generated from dates 

I have observed a few things that I feel may be of use in case you are trying this method, or would like to experiment yourself. I have continued to follow the method for making the yeast waters, and for then making the bread from my previous post and they have continued to be a success…

Bread made with yeast water cultivated from a fig

I can now tell you that different fruits result in different shaped loaves; I’ve had rounded loaves from apples and peaked loaves from figs – just like the shape of the fruits! And the apple water generates the most wonderful aroma in the final loaf.

The second time that I made fruit yeast water from an apple, it didn’t generate any bubbles, but when I opened the jar it gave an audible puff of air several days in a row, and it smelt strongly, so I chanced it and it worked well – so maybe bubbles aren’t always necessary. (I know that one person who made apple yeast water tried drinking it and likened it to cider!) 

When I made date yeast water, I used up nearly all of it for a couple of loaves, then I topped the jar up with a bit more water and it generated more yeast water from the same dates. I do think that each fruit can generate enough water for several loaves – I’ve ended up with water for 2 or 3 loaves at a time so I’ve made them and frozen the loaves that I didn’t immediately need and they feeeze and defrost well. 

Following my posts on here and Instagram, I know that several people around the world have been experimenting with fruit yeast water with varying results. I do think that different fruits in different countries generate different results, and flour from different countries DEFINITELY behaves differently. Only you will know from your own experience whether the flour in your part of the world requires more or less water than mine. 

​​Making the starter with the yeast water and flour works best when made with strong bread flour. Other flours will generate a starter but it will not be as strong and could then result in less rise in the bake. A bubbly gluten free starter can be made with buckwheat flour and fruit yeast water but I’ve only seen it in use in a cake so far. 

Likewise with ovens, and this goes for any baking and cooking, all ovens behave differently, even ovens that are the same make and model! Therefore, you may need to amend my temperatures and timings based on knowledge of your own oven.

I hope these tips are helpful and that you have fun if you do try the fruit yeast water…check out Suzanne’s experience so far…

Fruit yeast water bread…

This loaf of bread was created with yeast cultivated from an apple and a jar of water…

…and so was this one…how cool is that???

I saw a mention of yeast water on Instagram so set about investigating it and discovered it’s all about capturing the natural yeast in fruit, and literally, all you need is fruit and water. I didn’t find any hard and fast rules, just people talking about what they’d done, so I took the ideas and had a go myself. 

I washed an apple (to remove any nasties), cut it up, then put it in a jar with water. The jar was clean, but I didn’t sterilise it; I used water from the tap because I know that our tap water is okay for my sourdough starter, so I assumed it would be okay for this. You might need to boil and cool some water if yours is heavily chlorinated. 

And then I left it, for a week. Initially I thought nothing was happening, I gave it the odd shake, and left it to brew, then the water got cloudy and bubbles began to appear, and eventually the water looked as ready as it might be to my untrained eye…

I then mixed equal parts of water with strong bread flour and left it overnight and this is what happened…

Lovely bubbly starter! I guess you could call it a starter or a biga or a poolish, it’s basically flour and water and yeast to create the base of a dough, but in this situation the yeast is wild yeast from fruit. It smells sour like sourdough starter, and acts in pretty much the same way. 

Having read about raisin water, halfway through the week I also filled another pot with a handful of dates and some more tap water and this also yielded some lovely yeasted water after 5 days, with which I created this starter…

You can literally see the strength of the yeast!

To create loaves I have followed guidelines that I use for my sourdough loaves. So once you’ve cultivated the yeast water, this is my suggestion for then making a loaf like this…


Day one

Strain 150g of yeast water from the jar and mix well with 150g strong white bread flour

Cover the bowl with a plastic bag and leave on the counter for 12-18 hours

Day two

Your ‘starter’ should be lovely and bubbly; add 500g strong white bread flour, 280g water and 1 tsp salt 

Squidge it all together roughly so that the flour is all covered, then cover the bowl with the plastic bag again and leave it for an hour

After an hour, perform a series of folds and turns in the bowl; you don’t need to take the dough out and knead it on a surface, just lift a handful of dough from one side and fold it in, turn the bowl, lift and fold, turn the bowl and repeat until you have a lovely smooth ball of dough 

Cover again with the plastic bag and repeat two or three more times over the next few hours 

After the last folding, place the dough in a banneton sprinkled with rice flour

Cover with a plastic bag and place in the fridge overnight 

Day three

Remove the dough from the fridge and leave on the counter for a few hours to come up to room temperature – if your kitchen is very warm maybe only leave it for an hour or so 

Preheat the oven to 250C 

When it’s ready, turn the dough out into a roaster with a lid, with a layer of baking parchment underneath the dough 

Slash the dough

Put the lid on the pan, place it in the oven, turn the temperature down to 220C and bake for 25 mins

Remove the lid, turn the oven down to 180C and bake for 20 mins

Remove and check that if you tap the base of the bread it sounds hollow, and that it doesn’t have any soft areas that look uncooked; if you think it needs a couple more minutes, place it directly on an oven rack to finish off 

Cool on a rack for a few hours before slicing – if you slice into it too soon, steam can fill the loaf and render it gummy 

And enjoy!

I have used the water in batches and it continues to be bubbly. I then discarded the apple but next time I would add more water and see if it maintains some strength to use it again. I am also drying out some of the prepared starter to see how it goes, and I’ve saved some bubbly starter to see if it can be re fed like sourdough starter, I’ll let you know about these.

What I can tell you is that my sourdough connoisseur is loving the bread, it’s basically a sourdough if you ask me. It smells and behaves the same way. When the dough went in the oven, you could really smell the apple, but the smell and flavour didn’t continue into the baked loaf. Apparently some people add more of the fruit water to the dough in place of water to add more flavour to the dough, but I haven’t done that yet. 

PLEASE NOTE: flours around the world act differently, some require more water, some less. If you know how your flour behaves, keep this in mind. Otherwise, go by feel. 

Enjoy!

I hope that everyone at this week’s Fiesta Friday enjoys my fruit yeast water bread, especially co hosts Liz and Jenny

Shatta inspired meals…

It all began when I saw someone talking about ‘shatta’ sauce on Instagram; I, of course, immediately looked it up, and discovered that it’s a middle eastern chilli sauce. I had never heard of it before; I read various recipes and versions of it, then had a play at making a version. 

And boy it was hot! In fact I made two versions, one with red jalapeños (from a jar), and one with milder long red fresh chillies; the one with the jalapeños was the killer! So I added a few other ingredients to flesh it out and take down the rawness of the flavour. In fact I played with both versions and this is what I got…

This one is red jalapeño chillies, fresh parsley & coriander, roasted pumpkin seeds, garlic, dried tomato flakes, cumin, salt, pepper, tomato puree, olive oil & lemon juice.

And this is chopped parsley & coriander, garlic, long red chillies, cumin, salt, pepper, apple cider vinegar and olive oil, which I added to mashed white beans.

As the week has gone on, the flavours have developed nicely, and I’ve used both concoctions in various ways…

This was a salad of chopped parsley & coriander, bulgur wheat cooked in goats whey, chopped spring onions & chillies, and mixed roasted seeds, with the red jalapeño sauce stirred through it. And serviced with some of the sauce mixed with my red pepper ajvar sauce.

Let’s talk SERIOUS leftovers! This is bulghur wheat, cooked in the whey from making goats curd, and mixed with leftovers of 3 sauces: the red jalapeño sauce; a sauce made by mixing the red jalapeño sauce mixed with some of my red pepper ajvar sauce; and a roasted tomato and chilli ajvar sauce; all stirred together and left to develop lots of flavour. So good heated the next day.

And this was roasted butternut squash wedges filled with a mixture of leftovers of the mashed bean salad mixed together with leftover zaalouk.

So you can see how one idea can lead to so many outcomes, especially in my hands! I know I’ve said it before but I do love chucking stuff together 😉 

Happy Fiesta Friday everyone, and happy weekend x

Ajvar sauce and friends…

It’s not news that I like making and eating sauces and dips and pastes, there is currently 10 jars of different ones in my fridge right now, and this week I’ve made a few new concoctions to my collection. As one lead to the development of another, then another, and so on, I thought I’d share them all at once. I’m also co hosting the weekly Fiesta Friday blog party this week with my lovely friend, and her great blog, Jhuls, so please do join us and see what everyone is bringing to the table this week..

So my saucy week all began with ‘ajvar’. Ajvar is historically a Serbian ‘salad’ made with roasted red peppers and aubergines, garlic and sometimes chilli; I realised I’ve virtually made this previously without realising that I was making somehing that exists with a name, I was just chucking things together one day…like you do! Then I saw this on Instagram and looked it up and decided to make my version of it.

The inclusion of the aubergine flesh to the sauce adds more texture than flavour – I have found this in some of my experiments, roasted aubergine flesh often adds a ‘whipped’ lightness to a sauce or dip, and of course adds a healthy fresh addition too 🙂 the sauce therefore tastes more of the lovely sweetness of the red peppers, and the finished texture is quite thick so can be used in a variety of ways: on toast topped with goats cheese screams out to me! 

Also, all of the recipes I read called for roasting and peeling the red peppers, which I did here, but next time I make it I will leave the skins on; I have found that the skins often add an almost emulsifying effect to sauces that I like. 

Ingredients 

4 red peppers (i used 2 long red and 2 red bell peppers because that’s what I had!)

2 small/medium aubergines

3 large cloves garlic, peeled and finely chopped

Olive oil (some recipes have said 1/3 cup, I just poured a decent amount in, but probably not as much as that)

Apple cider vinegar or white vinegar 

Salt to taste

Chilli flakes (optional)

Method 

Heat oven to 200C

Place the peppers and aubergines (prick the skins first) on a baking tray and roast until the skins of the peppers are charred and the aubergines are completely soft to the touch

Place the peppers in a plastic bag to cool and sweat, this makes it easier to remove the skin

Once the aubergine and peppers are cool enough to handle, remove the skins and stalks of all of them, and the seeds of the peppers

Add them to a blender with the garlic, a good amount of olive oil, a couple of tablespoons of vinegar and a pinch of salt, and blend until smooth

Transfer to a saucepan and simmer over a very low heat for 20-30 minutes until thickened

Add salt to your taste. 

Add chilli flakes/powder as it cooks if you choose 

Either use it warm as a sauce, or transfer to a jar and allow to cool

NOTE: Mine definitely benefitted from developing its flavour more overnight and being used the next day

Of course, making ajvar started a range of ideas bubbling in my mind, and as I had a lot of carrots that needed using, I peeled and roasted them all, ate some with my dinner, and used the rest in some sauce ideas. Like this one, above, which basically followed the ajvar idea and quantities, just with carrots instead of peppers.

It is made of roasted carrots, roasted aubergine, garlic, olive oil, lemon juice, Aleppo chilli flakes & a pinch of salt, again left overnight to develop the flavour, and it worked very well! The aubergine flesh really lightens up the density of the root vegetables, and a squeeze of lemon juice is always good with carrots. I keep dipping a spoon into it quite happily 🙂 

As I had so many roasted carrots, I also created this sauce by blending roasted carrot, roasted red onion, roasted garlic, olive oil and some of my own harissa. 

And this one, which is made up of roasted carrots, roasted red onions, passata, olive oil, garlic, chilli flakes, and a spice mix of ground roasted cumin seeds, roasted caraway seeds and roasted coriander seeds. 

I blended this with some added water but still kept it quite thick and ate some heated and topped with goats cheese, alongside some sweet potato wedges. I aim to use it as a sauce or spread, I’m sure it would make a tasty soup with added liquid. 

And so ends my collection of sauces from this week, I hope you have found one or some of them interesting. It’s just a case of chucking things together and seei what emerges really! 

Happy Friday and happy weekend 🙂 

Right, I’m heading over to Fiesta Friday to start reading as soon as it kicks off…

The sourdough files…

I haven’t talked about my bread making on my blog for a while, although I share loaves regularly on Instagram, so I thought I’d post an update. I now make 3 loaves of sourdough bread every week for my son, Ben, plus 2 regular loaves for my husband, who doesn’t like sourdough. I now have my method for producing sourdough loaves pretty fixed, and as Ben raves about the bread on a regular basis, I can only assume that I’m getting it right – for his tastes anyway! 

I’ve also been playing with scoring the loaves, as you might notice! 

It’s great fun! Let’s be honest, Ben doesn’t care about how it looks, that bits just for me 🙂

The basis of my standard loaf is formed from the overnight loaf recipes created and shared by Celia and Selma, with tweaks for my requirements. I’ve played around with various methods and flours and recipes in the past couple of years, but I always come back to this method, this is my failsafe, and when you need to produce bread regularly for breakfasts and school lunches, you need to know it works!

A key element for me is that I need a closer crumb than typical sourdough. Artisan holes are great, but not for making sandwiches for school dinners. To achieve this, I have found that replacing some of the water with olive oil creates a softer tighter crumb and softer bread. 


I keep my starter, Star, in the fridge, and every couple of days, I bring her up to room temperature, feed her equal amounts of flour and water, and once she’s bubbly and happy, I make up two lots of dough. 

I follow the quantities in Selma’s recipe, linked above, but I replace 30g of the water with olive oil.

In two bowls I squidge two lots all of the ingredients together to a rough mix, so that the flour is completely mixed, cover the bowl with a plastic bag, and leave it for an hour.

After the hour, I fold and knead the dough in the bowl for a minute or so until it comes together and forms a smooth ball. 

I then place the dough in bannetons sprinkled with rice flour to prevent sticking. 

I cover the bannetons with plastic bags, and place them both in the fridge. 

Sometimes they’re in the fridge for a night, sometimes for 4 days – the longer proving develops more flavour. 

When I’m ready to bake one, I remove it from the fridge and allow it to come up to room temperature and prove for another couple of hours. 

I heat the oven to 220c fan, and only when I’m ready to bake, I turn the dough out onto an baking tray, lined with parchment paper. If you turn the dough out too soon, it can spread. 

I quickly slash the dough then bake. 

I put the loaf in the oven, turn the temperature down to 200C fan, and bake for 20 minutes, then turn the oven down to 180C fan for another 25 minutes.

Then remove the loaf and cool completely on a rack before slicing. I usually bake my loaves the day before I need them to ensure that they are completely and utterly cooled.

Each of my loaves covers Ben’s breakfast and lunch for two days. He loves it so much, I even made him a special loaf for his birthday earlier this month 🙂 

And that’s my sourdough conveyor belt! I hope it’s useful. 

I hope you’ve had a great week, enjoy your Friday and a visit to Fiesta Friday with Sarah and Liz

Spiced coconut chips..

I’ve been play in my kitchen…nothing new there, I know…;)

This time it’s been with coconut chips. 

I don’t eat crisps or chips (whatever you call them in your part of the globe) but if you’d like an alternative option to those fried potato morsels, give this a go, if you get the flavouring right, I’d challenge you to miss your usual crisps, and you’ll have a healthier version.

It all started with a big bag of raw coconut chips, which I toasted in the oven:

I laid the chips out in a single layer on my oven tray then put it in the oven at 180C. To be honest, the oven could be set a bit lower and I think it would still have been fine. You really need to watch them, they toast very quickly so you need to stay on hand to take the tray out, move the chips around, then put the tray back in the oven and keep doing this until they’re all toasted how you want..

Whilst they’re warm, they remain soft. As they cool, they get nice and crispy, and they’re good just like that. 

However, whilst they’re warm is the perfect time to toss them with your chosen flavouring, then leave them to crisp up and take on the spices. 

I mixed some of the chips with my chai spice mix…

…some with my rose harissa spice mix…

…and (no individual photo) some with my barbecue spice mix from my previous post (which I’m very proud to say has been featured on this week’s Fiesta Friday picks).

They work REALLY well, if you like barbecue spiced crisps, this combination is a winner, the harissa ones are good too, and the chai spiced ones are a great addition to your breakfast. And if you don’t like coconut, don’t be put off, to be honest, you don’t really taste it! 

I hope you like my creations, happy Friday and happy weekend!