Dairy-free Peanut Butter and Dark Chocolate Biscuits

These Peanut Butter Biscuits are dairy free, delicious, and pretty healthy as biscuits go.

As you may be aware I have given up supermarket shopping for Lent. This has in general been a positive experience so far; however, right now when I haven’t been shopping for a few days it it is a bit of a pain because I have run out of what I usually consider to be a ‘basic’ baking ingredient – butter. Biscuits are required this evening because I have people coming over for a meeting, and having nothing to offer would be plain rude! However, every challenge is an opportunity and having successfully baked using olive oil in little cakes a few days ago I decided to trawl through my recipe books to find something I could easily adapt.

I used groundnut oil for this recipe because I happened to have some in the cupboard and I thought it made sense with the peanut butter, you can substitute in different oil if you like. Whilst on the subject of substitutions, the recipe which I (loosely) based these biscuits on asked for brown bread flour whereas I used Rye flour, again, because that is what I happened to have in the storecupboard.
wp-1456763136978.jpeg
Ingredients

Makes about 20.

  • 3 tablespoons Peanut Butter
  • 140 ml Groundnut Oil
  • a few drops of Vanilla Essence
  • 1 Egg
  • 125 g / 4 oz demerara sugar
  • 125 g / 4 oz White Bread Flour
  • a pinch of Salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon Bicarbonate of Soda
  • 125 g / 4 oz Rye Flour (or wholemeal)
  • 100 g Dark Chocolate, chopped

Method

Preheat the oven to 180oC.

Whisk together the peanut butter, oil and vanilla essence and then beat in the sugar. Add the egg plus a teaspoon of flour and beat well.

Sift in the white bread flour, salt and bicarbonate of soda and fold in.

Mix in the chocolate followed by the rye flour and knead until the dough holds together.

Roll small pieces of the dough into balls and place on oiled baking tray, leaving room for spreading. Flatten with a fork in a criss-cross pattern and bake for 20 minutes. Cool on a wire rack.

peanut butter cookies
peanut butter cookies

Banana and Chocolate Fairy-cakes

These are yummy and a good use of squidgy bananas. The recipe is based on Nigel Slayers recipe for a banana loaf with dark chocolate and dark Muscavado sugar, but doctored to make nice light little ‘fairy cakes’.
image
Makes 24 little cakes.

Ingredients.
65 g butter
65 g olive oil
235 g light Muscavado sugar
400g ripe bananas  (approximately 4)
2 eggs, beaten
250 g plain flour
2 teaspoons baking powder
100 g dark chocolate
image
Method
Preheat the oven to 180oC. Put paper cases into a  patty tin.

Cream the butter, olive oil and sugar. Mash the bananas and then beat them into the fat and sugar, followed by the eggs a little at a time.

Sift the flour and baking powder onto the above mixture and fold in.

Chop the chocolate and fold in.

Divide the mixture between the cake cases and bake in the centre of the oven for 12 – 15 minutes.

Lent 2016

Hi ladies and gents,

It is a week since pancake day and I have yet to share my Lent Challenge with you which is rather remiss of me, sorry. I was a bit torn as to what to do this year, not least because in some ways fasting for Lent is quite a personal thing, and I wanted to make sure that I wasn’t choosing something just because it would be interesting to write about!

In the past I have given up various things; I have had a dairy-free Lent, gluten-free, vegetarian  (much to my mother’s annoyance when I was living at home and she was cooking!), caffeine free and last year I gave up coffee and wine. These have all been challenging in different ways, in some cases forcing me to broaden my repertoire of recipes and giving me an appreciation of other people’s food allergies and intolerances.

So, back to 2016. As some of you will know I am pretty passionate about sharing food, not wasting food and about being mindful about where food has come from. I wanted my Lent challenge to build on the discipline which my £5 a week challenge had instilled in me, and in addition to heighten my awareness as to the origin of  the food that I eat. I had a few ideas and a few suggestions from people including a vegan diet, something food-miles related, abstaining from alcohol, following the strict Greek Orthodox Lenten fast (effectively vegan plus wine-free with a couple of full fast days thrown in for good measure), cooking without the contents of my storecupboard, a zero food-waste Lent, cooking something new every day, and a complaining-free Lent (I like that idea and might try to do it anyway!).

I really liked the idea of having a ‘Local Lent’ based around food-miles, however, I found it rather difficult to get my head around what food-mile parameters I should set myself. Would it be just Gloucestershire, England, the UK, Europe? Or should I set myself a number of miles per week, so that if I had a cup of coffee I would be restricted in what else I could have?  If things weren’t labelled with country of origin would I have to make the assumption that I couldn’t have it? All a bit complicated!  Given all of the above what I finally decided upon is to have a Supermarket-Free Lent; so still a ‘Local Lent’ but with less maths! In addition I want to continue to be mindful about the quantity of food that I buy, making sure that I only have as much as I need, so I am giving myself the slightly less ridiculous budget of £10 a week for food and drink.

So what can you expect in the next few weeks? Probably lots of drooling over the delicious Pippin Doughnuts at the wonderful and award-winning Stroud Farmers Market – it’s a good job that I have given myself the £10 budget! There will also be some pretty amazing recipes coming your way; I have no idea yet what they well be, we will all have to wait and see what inspiration my local shopping gives me!

Ta’ra for now!

Kitty

image
Stroud Farmer's Market

Seabass with Icelandic Kelp Salt

Source: Seabass with Icelandic Kelp Salt

Get me – I’m a ‘guest blogger’! Take a look at my yummy fish recipe, written for the lovely Engineering and Scientist ladies  (and gents) who follow A Hedy Journey.

Kitty’s Shrove Tuesday Feast

I hadn’t planned on writing a Pancake Day blog post; but then I don’t think that I have planned any of my blog posts so far so nothing new there! My impromptu three-course pancake feast was so spectacular though that I just had to share it with you.

wp-1455049718599.jpeg

The problem with not having intended to write this up is that it is rather difficult to communicate the batter proportions to you because I did it by eye. I added a little bit of Rye Flour (~ 1/4), which was a first for me and was rather nice. I tend to use half milk half water. For the savoury pancakes I made the batter rather thicker than I would usually, and then added more liquid when I got to the sweet pancakes.

The First Course

  • pancake batter
  • lemon thyme from the garden
  • smoked salmon
  • plain yoghurt
  • ground black pepper

Heat some high smoke-point oil (Rapeseed is good) in a non-stick pan. When the oil is hot add the batter and sprinkle the lemon thyme leaves on top. Flip the pancake after about a minute, then flip again so that both sides are cooked.

Put the pancake onto a plate and top with the salmon, yogurt and black pepper.

The Second Course

For this course I made a larger pancake in the same way as above, but instead of the thyme I used chilli flakes and some mixed herbs.

wp-1455049809039.jpeg

 

For the filling I used meatballs and tomato sauce which I had made earlier in the day and re-heated; very similar to the meatball pasta sauce which I have shared with you previously.

Pudding!

So I said that I added more liquid when I made the sweet pancakes, what I didn’t tell you is that the liquid was gin and tonic! I decided that G&T pancakes required only lemon and sugar as a topping. This was a little experiment which definitely worked – yum!

2016-02-09-20.32.45.jpg.jpeg

And finally, Shrove Tuesday today means Ash Wednesday tomorrow. I am in the process of deciding on the details of an interesting challenge for Lent, I’ll keep you posted.

 

Making Stock

Caution: not for veggies or vegans!

Those of you who have been following my £5 a week January challenge will know that I make a habit of pulling various types of stock out of the freezer in order to liven up my cooking. Some of the stocks which I freeze are incidental leftovers, usually liquid from my slow-cooker, and are therefore never the same twice. However I do sometimes make stock in the traditional ‘boil a bird carcass to death with herbs and onion’ way, which I thought I would share with you as a nice example of frugal cooking.

You probably don’t need much more instruction than ‘boil a bird carcass to death with herbs and onion’ but I will elaborate a little below. wp-1454599578095.jpeg

Ingredients

  • the leftover carcass of a roasted bird (the one pictured above was a duck, which my mother cooked last time I visited for a meal)
  • an onion, quartered
  • a couple of sprigs of rosemary
  • a couple of bay leaves
  • a dried chilli
  • a teaspoon of mustard seeds
  • a generous grind of black pepper
  • a teaspoon of salt

The rosemary and bay leaves are from my garden; they are both good winter herbs which are useable all year round and are not difficult to grow.

Method

Take any remaining easily accessible meat from the bone (good for sandwiches!) and then place the carcass into a big pan. Add the onion, fresh herbs, dried chilli, mustard seeds and black pepper and cover the whole lot with boiling water from the kettle.

Simmer for about 3 hours. Add the salt towards the end.

Put a colander or sieve over a large bowl and carefully tip in the contents of the pan. Dispose of the bones and herbs.

When the liquid is cool divide it between pots for the freezer or, even better, pour into a silicone muffin tray to make big stock ‘ice-cubes’. You may find that with fatty birds such as duck you have a layer of fat on top of the cooled liquid; this can be skimmed off first and is rather good for roast vegetables.

2016-02-04-15.55.56.jpg.jpeg

Done!

 

January Challenge ‘de-brief’

I am almost exactly a month into my life as a food blogger, and I have to say that this is definitely the most difficult post that I have written so far. Those of you who have been following me for the last month will know that I set myself a challenge at the beginning of January to ‘cook using only what I already have in my cupboards and freezer, plus what I can buy for £5 a week’;  you will also know that I like to communicate what I have been cooking with minimal ‘waffle’. Now that February has arrived it is time to reflect on my January Challenge and I really hope that I can do so in a concise and interesting way. Please leave me a message if you make it all the way to bottom!

Most importantly, I must say that I have really enjoyed giving myself a ridiculous budget for a month; it reminded me of how much fun it is to be creative with my cooking, and in addition it ‘reset’ my shopping habits and prevented me from producing any food waste.

What I would really like to get across to you is how well you can eat on a small weekly budget if you keep a few ‘core’ things in your storecupboard. If you are not used to this style of food shopping and cooking then there will be some upfront expenditure (but not much, see below how much I spent on topping-up my cupboards at the end of the month); but once you have initially stocked up there will just be a small ‘rolling cost’ as you replace things.

So here goes a short retrospective on my January Challenge:

What did I buy with my £5 a week?

My first £5 was spent on onions, carrots, mushrooms, some good British sausages, a lime & soda from my local pub, and some reduced bread for my freezer.

Lesson #1 – lime & soda is totally pointless and a waste of money!

During the second week I spent the princely sum of £4.88 on free range eggs, carrots, new potatoes, frozen peas and a British lamb shank.

Lesson #2 – a box of mixed-sized eggs is considerably cheaper than buying a box of identical eggs, and unless you are doing high-precision baking they are just as good.

For the last couple of weeks of the challenge I was more ‘bitty’ in my shopping (I didn’t have time for a ‘big’ £5 shopping trip!) and I was not quite so disciplined in writing up what I had bought; in summary I topped up the onions, potatoes, mushrooms and carrots, and I had a cup of tea at a church coffee morning for a whole 80p – decadent!

wp-1454531206143.jpeg

What are my new favourite recipes?

As I mentioned above, one of the best things about giving myself a ridiculous budget was re-discovering my creative ‘make-it-up-as-you-go-along’ cooking flair! I think that my favourite was probably the Roasties with Garlic & Coconut Dip – this was a very spur of the moment ‘snack’ using some coconut yoghurt that a friend had left in my fridge, I will certainly be making it again.

If I had to choose another top creation it would be a difficult choice between the vegetable curry and spaghetti with tomatoes and poached egg.

Lesson #3 – if you don’t allow yourself to ‘pop to the shops’ for additional ingredients you will discover new and exciting (or sometimes just ‘interesting’) recipes!

Please do let me know what your favourite recipe has been so far, and do do do give them a try and let me know how easy or otherwise they are to follow!

What did I run out of?

Early Grey tea – disaster! Tonic water – disaster! Garlic – disaster! Cheese, milk, almond milk, vegetable stock, pasta…

2016-02-01-20.11.28.jpg.jpeg

… and, as the observant amongst you will note, cheap gin! Don’t worry, I haven’t yet stooped to cheap gin; the reason I require it is to make Cranberry Gin… a recipe for another day. (Retrospectively, here is the Cranberry Gin recipe)

Despite making a show of being organised, I actually managed to forget the shopping list when I went for my ‘top-up shop’ – so in the end I forgot a few things, got a few extra things, and spent about £30 (including the gin). Not bad.

What is in Kitty’s Storecupboard?

Having set myself a ridiculous budget for a month I have concluded that the following constitute the ‘core’ storecupoard ingredients which I would be hard-pressed to do without (although I’m sure I’d cope!); I hope that I have demonstrated over the last month that very little is needed in addition to these things to cook some rather delicious meals.

‘Dry Goods’

  • Lentils (Puy and Red-split lentils)
  • Rice (brown and white)
  • Pasta
  • Couscous
  • Oats

Tins / jars / cartons

  • Tinned tomatoes
  • Tomato purée
  • Chickpeas
  • Butter beans
  • Pesto
  • Milk (‘cow’ or otherwise – I am rather fond of Almond Milk)

Baking ingredients

  • Plain flour
  • Self-raising flour
  • Margarine
  • Sugar
  • Golden syrup
  • Baking powder
  • Bicarbonate of Soda
  • A selection of nuts and dried fruit

Freezer

  • Peas
  • Stock
  • Cooked vegetables for soup (from when I got portion sizes wrong!)
  • a bit of meat and/or fish, usually from the reduced section of the supermarket

Spices

2016-02-03-20.47.59.jpg.jpeg

What can I say? A picture says a thousand words!

However, I would say that the ‘core’ herbs and spices for me are:

  • black pepper;
  • chilli flakes;
  • mustard seeds;
  • cumin seeds;
  • ground coriander;
  • mustard powder;
  • cayenne pepper; and
  • oregano, or some kind of mixed green herbs.

Garlic and onions are also very important!

and for my next challenge? I’ll keep you posted. In the mean time I have a number of January recipes to share with you which I ran out of time to write last month.

Well done for getting to the bottom of the page!

‘over and out!

Kitty