Tag: recipes

Fruit Mince Pies

fruit mince pies (1 of 1)

fruit mince with holly (1 of 1)

Image above: Fruit Mince Pies photographed near our Australian native Holly Shrub (only one red berry on the whole tree!)

I love discovering new recipes, and found a great one for Fruit Mince Pies in the local newspaper, you can find it here. Unfortunately because of the dairy and egg allergies  in our house I could only use this recipe as an inspiration to tweak my version of this Christmas treat.

I also thought I’d try out my new Vegan Shortening recipe – this is very easy to make and does improve your pastry markedly; it’s all about the food chemistry and the incorporation of air.   A must ‘go to’ site is Vegan Baking and the Vegan Butter and Vegan Shortening pages.  I used my mini cup-cake silicone baking tray to set my shortening in the freezer – you can also use an ice cube tray.

I added jam and black strap molasses to the fruit mince and dutch pressed cocoa to the pastry. It turned out very well!

shortening (1 of 1)

Image above: Vegan Shortening (home made)

Fruit Mince Pies
Short Crust Pastry Recipe
1 cup Atta Flour
1/2 plain flour
3 tbsp of chickpea flour (besan flour)
1 tbsp of coconut flour
2 tbsp of dutch pressed cocoa powder
2 tbsp of icing sugar
1 pinch of salt
1 teaspoon of baking powder
150 grams of Vegan Shortening
2-3 tbsp of iced cold water

In a food processor, pulse the dry ingredients until uniform in appearance, add the shortening and pulse until the mixture starts to look like breadcrumbs, slowly add the cold water and continue to pulse until the mixture forms a dough ball.  Remove from food processor and roll into a ball and wrap in cling film, allow to rest in fridge for at least 1 hour.  After an hour roll out the dough between two sheets of baking paper, cut out base of each pie and stars for tops.  I used a mini cup cake baking tin, but you can make whatever size you prefer.

Fruit Mince

  • 200g raisins chopped
  • 200g currants
  • 200g sultanas
  • juice of one orange
  • 1 tsp mixed spices
  • 2 tbsp of black strap molasses brown sugar
  • 1 apple, peeled and grated
  • zest of 1 lemon
  • 40g coconut oil melted
  • 50g jam – strawberry

Mix all the ingredients together and place in an air tight container, best to do this first thing in the morning to give the fruit a chance to absorb the liquid.

To make up the fruit mince pies, cut out the base from the pastry, place a spoonful of mince in each pie, garnish with a pastry star and bake in a moderate/hot over around 180’C for around 10 minutes.

If you have any fruit mince over, you can place it in an airtight jar in the fridge for about a week or so.


Sausage Rolls

sausage rolls (1 of 1)
Once in a while back in the day when I was at school, we were allowed to order our lunch, for 50 cents I would by a blue disc, which included a sausage roll, a fruit, a small drink and a cake!  You can’t get that value for 50 cents these days!  Needless to say, I still have a fondness for sausage rolls, and now make them for my son when he goes to birthday parties.

To simplify the process I use sausages from the store and just wrap them in a homemade blanket of pastry. My pastry is very simple and is similar to other short crust pastry recipes just without dairy, you just have to roll it to the thickness you like, I roll mine quite thin.

Short Crust Pastry Dough Recipe

  • 3/4 cup of plain flour
  • 1/2 cup of Atta Flour
  • 2 tablespoons of chickpea flour
  • 1 tablespoon of coconut flour
  • pinch of salt
  • 1/2 cup of cold non dairy margarine
  • 60 mls of cold water

Just a note you can use the flour you prefer, I like to mix it up a bit and amp up the fibre…but whatever works for you is good!

Place all dry ingredients in a food processor and pulse to blend for 10 secs.  Add non-dairy margarine and pulse until the mix resembles bread crumbs, slowly add cold water until a dough ball is formed.

Wrap the dough ball in cling film and rest into the fridge for 1 hour.  Whilst the pastry is resting cook your sausages and allow to cool.

Roll out the dough into 2mm thickness (see below).

sausage rolls dough (1 of 1)

Place the sausage in the pastry and wrap gently, brush with a little olive oil and place in a moderate to hot oven around 200’C for 10-15 minutes.

Once out of the oven, you can cool and enjoy with your favourite ketchup.  If you make a big batch you can freeze them, I tend to not cook the pastry, I just roll the sausage in the uncooked pastry and place it in an air tight bag or container.  I then just defrost the sausage roll and bake in the oven and it is ready to eat.


Strawberry Tart


I needed to make up a party plate for my son’s end of year celebration at school (yes they have already finished….two months of summer holidays!), out of the blue I thought about making a strawberry tart.

I used a sweet short crust pastry for the base (you can find the recipe below) and a shot of custard for the filling; Vegan Custard from JeenasKitchen.

The little details in the tart, included a brushed chocolate tart shell and the garnish was fresh strawberries lightly brushed with some warmed strawberry jam.  Although it may  seem like many elements to this sweet delight, it is pretty easy and I quite enjoyed creating something new.

Vegan Custard

For a change I followed the recipe – no alterations!

Jeena’s recipe is easy to follow, one suggestion is to use a silicone spatula to ensure you get all the lumpy bits out the sides of the saucepan.  I am thinking that next time I will swap the vanilla for cocoa…my son loves chocolate!

To start the process off, you dry mix the sugar and corn flour then you add 100ml of soy and mix well to remove lumps, place over the cook top over a medium heat and stir continuously until it starts to simmer, add the rest of the soy and vanilla, keep over heat and once it starts to thicken, remove the pot from the heat, add the arrowroot and soy milk slurry.   You need to keep stirring, then place into a bowl, and pop the bowl into a water bath to gently and quickly cool it (see below).  Once cooled (but not too much!) cover in cling wrap and place in fridge.

Sweet Shortcrust Pastry

  • 3/4 cup of plain flour
  • 1/2 cup of Atta Flour
  • 2 tablespoons of chickpea flour
  • 1 tablespoon of coconut flour
  • 3 tablespoons of caster sugar
  • pinch of salt
  • 1/2 cup of cold non dairy margarine
  • 60 mls of cold water

Place all dry ingredients in a food processor and pulse to blend for 10 secs.  Add non-dairy margarine and pulse until the mix resembles bread crumbs, slowly add cold water until a dough ball is formed; see below.

Wrap the dough ball in cling film and rest into the fridge for 1 hour.  Roll out the dough into 2mm thickness (see below)

Cut the dough using a sharp knife, trace an outline slightly bigger than the tart shells you are using (see below)

Gently press the dough into the base of the tart shell and trim of excess with a sharp knife, if you want to avoid shrinkage you could place the tart shells back into the fridge for 30 minutes and then trim.  Because you will be blind baking the shell, just place a few strategic fork punctures here and there in the base.  Cook in a moderate to hot oven – 200’C for 10-15 minutes.  Mine came out golden and a little bit crisp on the ends, you can adjust the cooking time to get the right look for you.

Now you have the pastry shells and custard ready to go.  All that is left is to brush the pastry shells with chocolate, I used Sweet William – non dairy chocolate.  I used the double boiler method to melt the chocolate and then the back of a teaspoon to paint the shells.

The last element is to wash, dry and trim your strawberries and gently brush them with some warmed strawberry jam.

The party bento box looked pretty awesome…I also did some sausage rolls (next post!), some lolly snakes and Orgran chips…needless to say my little man was pretty pleased with his box of party food!

The bento box is by Nude Food Movers – great for food on the go.


Christmas Cake

I have never attempted a dairy and egg free Christmas Cake, but it was inevitable that I would give this traditional sweet treat a try.  Of course I did my usual google search and I found this wonderful blog by The Hungry Vegan and a delicious recipe for Xmas cake.

For a special, personal present to my son’s teachers this year I made this recipe into little Xmas cakes and boxed them. They looked very ‘Martha Stewart’ like and I have to say I was pretty pleased with them.

The cake is delicious, you wouldn’t know that it was dairy and egg free.  The Teacher’s received the adult’s version, each mini cake, gently infused with a teaspoon of brandy.

I have modified The Hungry Vegan’s recipe to avoid nuts (because of allergies) and I have added a few other personal favourites to the mix, I hope you give this cake a try, it is certainly one that I will be making again.

Allergy Free Christmas Cake

  • 150g Atta flour (wholemeal flour)
  • 100g Plain Flour
  • 50g Chickpea Flour
  • 50g Coconut Flour
  • 1 teaspoon of salt
  • 175g Refined Coconut Oil (liquid form)
  • 175g Sucranet (or light moscavodo sugar)
  • 1 tsp mixed spice
  • 150g sultanas
  • 200g raisins
  • 150g dates
  • 1 tblsp black strap molasses (or treacle)
  • 100g glacé cherries, halved
  • grated zest of an orange
  • juice of one orange
  • 1 ripe banana mashed
  • 120ml soya milk
  • 2 tblsps apple cider vinegar
  • 1 tblsp of vanilla extract
  • ¾ tsp bicarbonate of soda
  • 6 tblsps (90ml) brandy


Preheat the oven to 150’C, grease a 8″ round tin and double line it with grease proof paper on the bottom.  I used large Xmas muffin cases that were already pre-greased (these were only used for the presents not for my son’s cakes).

Place the dried fruits (use what ever combination you would like – just try to match the total quantity of fruit) in a bowl and add the orange juice, orange zest and vanilla extract; mix through and break apart any clumped fruit, set aside.

Warm half of the soy milk and add the vinegar, set aside.  In a separate bowl, place the rest of the soy milk and whisk in the bicarbonate of soda.

Sift all the flours, and salt into one bowl; please note, you don’t have to use my combination of flours – whatever you prefer is fine.

Place the mashed banana and coconut oil into your mixer bowl, mix until uniform.  Add the molasses and sucranet and beat until smooth and uniform. Fold in the flour mixture and add both soy mixtures, gently fold in the fruit mixture, mix into a uniform consistency.

Gently place the mixture into your baking dish or muffin pans and place in the oven.  Bake for 2 hours if using the tin or 50 minutes for the muffin pans – keep a close eye on them – you don’t want a burned cake top!  You can test if the cake is cooked by piercing its middle with a toothpick or wooden skewer, it should come out clean.

To garnish you can use glacé cherries or whatever you fancy.

Happy Baking!


Morning Tea Cookie with ‘tude

I have been hunting around for a morning tea snack for my son, it needed to be high in fibre, low in sugar and fats…and I found a recipe that I loved instantly!  Intro… Nutrition Australia, a great place to find some interesting recipes that are healthy and tasty too!  They had a delicious looking Sultana and Cocoa Cookie Recipe. it looked very nice, two of my son’s favourite ingredients,  surely this would have to be a winner.

As is my way, I have modified the recipe and it was a huge success, we even sent some to school for the Teachers and they gobbled them up and inquired if they could perhaps have 100 more (they are working on numeracy…clearly!).  The best part of this recipe was that it was a lovely ‘hands on’ experience for my son, he loves baking; there is always a reward- just wait 15 minutes!

Sultana and Cocoa Heavenly Cookies

  • Weet-bix crushed
  • 1/2 cup of organic sugar
  • 1/2 cup of chickpea flour
  • 1/2 cup of Atta flour (Indian wholemeal flour)
  • 1 teaspoon of baking powder
  • 2 tablespoons of Valrhona Cocoa (if not using dutch pressed cocoa – then up the amount to  4 tablespoons)
  • 1 pinch of salt (iodised)
  • 1 cup of sultanas
  • 50 grams of refined coconut oil
  • 60 ml of hot water
  • 1 tablespoon of vanilla extract

Place the Weet-bix in a food processor or blender and blitz until its fine in appearance.  Pop the decimated Weet-bix into a mixing bowl, add all the dry ingredients (excluding the sultanas) and mix well, finally, mix through the sultanas.

Mix the wet ingredients, use only half of the hot water and add to the dry mix in the mixing bowl.  Mix the wet and dry ingredients until a dough ball forms, add more hot water to reach a glossy dough ball consistency; too dry and it will be impossible to roll into walnut size pieces – just add more hot water…slowly please, too wet and you won’t be able to do much with it – don’t despair just add more flour.

Take a spoon full of the mix roll into balls, pop onto a parchment lined baking tray, flatten each cookie gently with a fork.

Bake in a 180’C oven for about 10-15 minutes.

The cookies are delightful, robust in flavour and satisfyingly indulgent….and what’s more they are good for you!  Needless to say I will be making them again and again…


Nanna Bread made with a Tortilla Press = marriage made in heaven!

I do a lot of cooking and I love labour saving devices, that do exactly what they promise…cue the Tortilla Press by Norpro; love at first sight! Awesome Gadget

Indian flat bread dough also known as ‘Nanna Bread’ in our home

Roll the dough into approximately 2.5cm or 1 inch balls and place into the Tortilla Press, then press down on the lever

You have now got a beautiful round flat bread ready to cook (note the use of parchment paper this stops the bread from sticking to the Press)

Nanna Bread on the rise – I use a crepe pan – see tips below

I make a lot of Indian flat bread, lots, believe me.  The Tortilla Press, saves me washing up  time,  all I do is make the dough, roll the balls, pop them into the tortilla press, and ta-da!  Perfect, round-shaped bread ready to cook. Where is the labour-saving? No pastry mat, rolling-pin or lashings of flour to smooth the process (therefore you don’t have to wash or have a huge clean up effort!).

Once you get the feel for creating the perfect sized dough ball, it is so easy!  Parchment paper is a necessity when using the Press – this stops the bread from sticking.  The added benefit – all you have to do after cooking is to clean the press with warm soapy water, and it is ready to go again.  I do realise I sound like an advertisement for the Tortilla Press, I assure you I am not being paid in any way to do this post (or this blog for that matter!).   I am very happy with my new gadget and it has been promoted to ‘favourite’ status in our home.

You may be interested in my latest recipe for Indian Flat Bread affectionately known as ‘Nanna Bread’ (my son named this delicious bread, after he ate it at my Mother’s house, it was the first food he ate outside my kitchen, given his allergies, this was a big thing!):

New Recipe for Nanna Bread

  • 2 cups of Atta flour (Indian Flour or Wholemeal flour)
  • 3 tablespoons of chickpea flour or besan (Hindi word for chickpea)
  • 1 pinch of salt
  • 1 tablespoon of canola oil
  • warm water to bring the dough together

Mix all the dry ingredients together and add the oil and warm water stirring until a dough is formed (you can do this in a food processor).  You don’t want your dough to be too wet, if it is wet or sticky, just add some flour until you get the dough into a non-sticky ball.

Allow the dough a little rest, 30 minutes or so, and then roll into balls about 2.5cm or 1 inch, in diameter.  Once you have a bowl full of dough balls, line your Tortilla Press with parchment paper (to stop the flat bread from sticking), place the dough ball in the middle, press down with the lever, lift the lid and you should see a lovely round flat bread ready for cooking.

Cook the flat bread in a crepe pan, on a medium heat with just a smear of oil, cook on both sides and then return to the first side and watch your bread swell and puff, this is your cue to take it off the stove.  Just a note, if you are not getting the ‘puff’ happening, you might not have your pan hot enough, or your flat bread might be too thin.  Don’t be disheartened if you don’t get it ‘just so’ on your first try – it took me a while to get to ‘flat bread Nirvana’!

Do you have some favourite accompaniments with your flat bread?  Please share…I would love to get some new ideas!

By the way here is my first version of Nanna Bread, if you would like to read where it all began.


Run, run, as fast as you can

 You can’t catch me, I’m the gingerbread man
I’m the gingerbread man and I’m out of the pan!

Got him!

It’s always fun to bake gingerbread, and as you can see my son loves them!  He couldn’t wait to take a bite out of this one, albeit he was competing with a blow-up crocodile!

Gingerbread Recipe

125 grams (4 ounces) of non dairy margarine or coconut oil

1/2 – 3/4 cup of brown sugar

1/4 of molasses or golden syrup

2 1/2 cups of plain flour sifted

2 teaspoons of powdered ginger

1 teaspoon of bicarbonate of soda

Mix the non dairy margarine/coconut oil with the sugar until creamy, add the molasses, flour, ginger and bicarbonate of soda.  Mix until a smooth dough is formed.  Let it rest in the fridge for about 15 minutes.  Roll out the dough – you can do this between sheets of non stick paper, if you are a bit anxious about rolling this will make it a snap.  Roll out to about 5mm or a 1/4 inch thick, cut out your shapes with a cookie cutter and bake in a preheated oven of about 190’C (or 375’F) for 8-10 minutes until cooked.

To ice you can be as precise or rustic (see my gingerbread!) as you like!  I used organic raw sugar milled in my Thermomix to a fine powder and just added a tiny bit of water, and for the final touch we added currants.


Slice of (icy) Heaven

Think double choc-chip, a crispy molten indulgence, teamed with creamy vanilla infused strawberry ice-cream, then to finish the experience a layer of fresh strawberries…heaven in a mouthful?  Definitely!

This adventure into icy treats has been a challenge, I don’t do cookies!  But, luckily for me the stars must have aligned and the cookies turned out beautifully.

Next stop was making the ice cream, no sweat, we make strawberry ice cream all the time; you can find it here.

To form the sandwich/slice I used food preparation rings, they are quite tall so you could do several layers: what a wicked indulgence that would be!  Just put them in the freezer, for a few hours, pop out the ice-cream sandwich from the ring, and you are ready to enjoy!

This treat was made for the little muse in my life, my son, so it is dairy and egg free;  a new food sensation for him – the joy of ice-cream sandwiches!

My son misses out on quite a few things because of his allergies, my mission is to convert recipes, think outside of the box and come up with alternatives that are tasty, delicious and importantly provide him with wonderful memories of (home-made) childhood treats.

By the way, the cookie recipe is from one of my favourite Bakers – Erin McKenna, her book titled “Babycakes” is a must have.


Twice Cooked Beef Stock

Over coffee the other day, my friend told me about an awesome broccoli soup, this recipe has her (carnivore loving) husband asking for refills!  I was intrigued until she explained that she amps up the flavour with beef stock,  ah ha – there it is, the silent but key secret ingredient.  So stay tuned for the soup recipe, but for now I am going to work on the secret ingredient, the beef stock.

I have never ventured into the world of making beef stock, but figured that I would need to get some beef bones.  After a bit of research, it appears that you need several beef bones to make a rich beef stock; which means lots of fat.  I have to say I loathe skimming off fat, it is a necessary by-product when you make stock, it just makes my stomach churn.

Never being one to go with convention, and to decrease my stomach churn, I thought I’d reduce the amount of saturated fat in the stock,  and just use the t-bone steak I had in the fridge. (instead of several beef bones).

Below is my recipe, of course adjust to suit your to your taste buds, more beef bones, more salt, but just one thing you must do, please caramelise the beef bones/steak, it adds a lovely depth and richness of flavour; I use the oven to do this job, and you get the added benefit of the kitchen filling with a gorgeous, tantalising aroma.

Twice Cooked Beef Stock:


Line a shallow oven tray with parchment paper, into this add:

  • 1 t-bone steak – trim off excess fat
  • 1 carrot
  • 1 leek
  • 1 bulb of garlic cloves (washed with skin on), cut horizontally through
  • 1 quartered onion
  • 2 sprigs of rosemary
  • 1 tablespoon of olive oil and
  • good pinch of salt

Lightly massage all of the ingredients (with oil and salt) and place into a pre-heated oven at about 180′ for 40 minutes.

Stove Top

When the timer goes off, take the entire contents of the baking tray including pan juices and place it in a large pot, add:

  •  1 teaspoon of salt
  • 4 roughly chopped celery sticks
  • 1 leak
  • 1 onion roughly chopped
  • 1 roughly chopped carrot
  • handful of  green beans
  • 1 cm of ginger
  • 2 bay leaves
  • 5 peppercorns
  • 3 cloves

Cover the ingredients with water, place lid on pot, bring the stock to boil and simmer for an hour.  Strain through the contents of the pot and place stock (liquid)  into the fridge.  Discard the vegetable slurry, but keep the meat from the T-Bone Steak for some delicious beef and mustard sandwiches.  My stock is quite cloudy because I push through each delicious drop from the vegetables, you can make yours clear if you avoid doing this, and of course you can get all sophisticated and use a muslin cloth.

The next day when you check on your stock (in the fridge) you should notice a miniscule oil slick on top (as opposed to a thick oil slick!) gently and carefully remove this and place on to some kitchen paper and put in the bin (don’t put it down your sink you may clog the drain).

Congratulations! You now have a flavourful, low-fat, home-made beef stock ready to use!  You can keep it in your fridge for two or three days or freeze it in ice-cube trays, ready to add flavour to your meals.


Pasta Tales

Have you ever tried to make pasta?  Have you seen your favourite TV chef just easily and effortlessly produce angel hair or fettucine pasta?


Several years ago we received a pasta maker for a wedding present, it seems like eons ago, since this time we have moved house, changed jobs, started a business and had a beautiful child.

Sadly the couple who gave us this fabulous present, will never get to try my pasta delights together, they have recently divorced.  It’s ironic that as I hold their gift, celebrating the start of our married life,  I am wishing them happiness in their separate lives.

Curiously, with all this time passing,  our pasta maker is still state-of-the-art, it seems good design lasts,  and perhaps it might be something we might (gladly – more of this later) hand on to our son.

So with all this reminiscing, I removed our mint-in-the-box pasta maker (from its box) and read the instructions, it seemed relatively simple, not too much information, one small A5 page and that was all!

First step was to make the dough, easy enough, 3 cups of wholemeal flour, pinch of salt, 1 tablespoon of olive oil, 1 cup of water, and a tablespoon of tomato sauce (my son’s touch –  not mine), mix together, knead for 5 minutes and leave it to rest for 30 minutes.

The next steps are fraught with danger, here are my warnings:

Warning 1: do not attempt to make pasta if you have just cleaned your kitchen or wearing your favourite black outfit,  you need lots of flour and it can (and will) get everywhere (especially if you Sous Chef is a 5-year-old – ‘Ninja’ role playing boy…).

Warning 2:  The pasta machine is a beautiful piece of gadget, a nightmare to clean, you can’t immerse it in water and you can’t put anything through the rollers to clean it, so lots of time spent picking out wet pasta.

Warning 3: Please make sure your pasta is on the dry side (see Warning 2).

Warning 4:  Don’t take the roller dial – past 6, the dough won’t hold up (well mine didn’t!) .  Let me re-iterate Warning # 2!

Warning 5:  After all this effort, beware your critics mights say “It tastes funny Mummy” (see pasta with the 1 basil leaf rating above), be prepared to abandon the dish and just give him the Bolognese sauce with bread.

Warning 6:  Did I mention there is an awful lot of cleaning – post the excitement of making your first batch of pasta?

Warning 7:  When you pack the pasta maker away, you may not bring it out again – maybe your sister, Mum, Aunty, Mother-In-Law would like to try it out?

I manged three pasta attempts: you can see the results in the images above:

  • Bowl 1 ~  with the 1 basil leaf rating:  organic shaped fettucine, that was sticky and wet – this is the pasta that my son judged as “tasting funny”.
  • Bowl 2 – with the 2 basil leaf rating: I thought I’d try the spaghetti press, dough was still too sticky, so more organic shaped pasta, more cleaning.
  • Bowl 3 – with the 3 basil leaf rating: Finally something resembling spaghetti, and it didn’t taste too bad either!

So like Goldilocks, I finally got some semblance of ‘just right’ spaghetti but was it worth the effort?

In the short-term, it’s manufactured pasta for me, sometimes you have to love the ease of prepared food!

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