My gluten free, vegan tiramisu

I am quite pleased with how the tiramisu worked out.  It definitely tasted good.  Everyone had seconds.  I would like my sponge to be a bit less crumbly though – which could be a challenge with no eggs and no gluten, but I’ll persevere.  

 I started out by using this recipe, which I bet is pretty awesome if you can eat gluten.  But, as always, I made a few adjustments.


INGREDIENTS FOR LAYERS 1 & 3 (these quantities for each layer)

about 1/3 of my gluten free vegan sponge – sliced thinly

Liquid Ingredients :

150ml strong espresso coffee

3 Tbsp Brandy



Carefully line your bowl (I used a 1L pyrex dish) with a tight layer of sponge.  Mix the strong coffee with the brandy and drizzle carefully over the layer of sponge so it all gets a good soaking.

For layers 2 & 4, I followed Mouthwatering vegan’s instructions…mostly:


1 350g pack silken tofu, drained.

125g vegan dark chocolate, melted – I used Green & Blacks 70% cocoa.

2 Tbsp brandy

1½ Tbsp maple syrup 


  1. Place the tofu and the remaining ingredients in a food processor, and process until very thick and creamy.  Then spoon this on to the coffee biscuit base, spreading out carefully with a spatula as it’s quite delicate.  This layer is delicious so don’t scrape your bowl out too well as you’ll want to taste test it.
  2. Place in the freezer for a half hour before attempting the 3rd layer. 
  3. Layer 3 is identical to the 1st layer, so repeat it here and gently flatten with a back of a teaspoon.
  4. Pop it in the fridge while you get on with layer 4.



200g raw cashew nuts,  soaked in boiling water for at least half an hour

1 tsp nutritional yeast (this stuff is delicious – I’d never had it before)

2 tsp vanilla extract

2 Tbsp maple syrup 

½ cup (125 mL) cold water


1½ tsp agar flakes mixed with ½ cup boiling water and boiled until dissolved



  1. Place the mascarpone ingredients (not the thickener ingredients yet) in your food processor…after you’ve licked out all the chocolate layer… and process until totally smooth – this will take quite a while, so be patient, and scrape down the inside of the bowl regularly.  
  2. Add the thickener to this mixture, and process for a further minute.
  3. The mixture should be ready for pouring, but first bring out the base ingredients from your fridge.
  4. Now carefully spoon the cashew cream mixture from your blender on to the 3rd sponge layer, and once again even out with the back of a spoon.
  5. Place in the fridge overnight, or until set.
  6. Dust with cocoa powder before serving, and enjoy!


A gluten free vegan sponge

My first attempt at a gluten free AND vegan sponge cake seems to have worked out pretty well.  I am making this because I needed a sponge base for a vegan tiramisu I am attempting because I have a very sweet-toothed vegan coming for dinner tomorrow night.  Oh, and I like making dessert.

This really was very easy, and all of the ingredients were already in my cupboard.

110 g Rice flour
55g Corn flour
110g Icing sugar
1 tsp Baking powder (gf)
1/2 tsp Bicarbonate of Soda / Baking soda
100 ml soy milk
55ml Rice bran oil (or other flavourless oil)
1 tsp vanilla essence
2 Tbsp golden flax seed
4 Tbsp hot water


Combine the dry ingredients (excluding the flax seed) in a bowl.

Combine the wet ingredients (excluding the water).

Add the wet ingredients to the dry slowly, whisking them in until fully combined.

Grind the flax seeds to a powder and mix well with the hot water. I have an old, but working, coffee grinder that I used for this.

Add the flax seed mix to the cake batter and combine well.

Pour into a prepared tin.  I used oil and rice flour to prepare my tin.  I also used a 20cm square tin because I wanted a flat-ish cake to use for the tiramisu.  I’m trying to get something like sponge fingers really, only this will be more moist.  If you wanted this as a taller cake, then I would probably use something smaller. Or make two and sandwich them together with jam etc.

Bake at 180C/gas 4 for 20-30 minutes until golden and springy to the touch.

Once cooked, leave the cake in the tin for at least 20 minutes or until cool before turning out.

I’ve taken a poke at the edges of my cake, since I will be cutting it up anyway.  I am pretty pleased with the appearance and taste.

Tomorrow, I hope I can share my tiramisu with you too.

Rice noodle cakes

I love this dinner for many reasons.  It’s much more suited to summer, I suppose, but I felt like something quite light and almost healthy for dinner tonight.  It would be a good recipe for my family back home, because it’s gluten free, dairy free AND allium free, which is something my dad is sensitive to.

The basic recipe comes from one of my little Australian Women’s Weekly cookbooks – they’re great wee books, with super & simple recipes.  I’ve, of course, fiddled with the recipe a bit myself because it’s what I do.

The rice noodles are something that are readily available in your average New Zealand supermarket, where Asian ingredients are very mainstream.  Here in the UK, I have to make regular special trips to my reasonably local Thai supermarket to stock up.

200g rice vermicelli noodles
1 carrot, coarsely grated
1 courgette, coarsely grated
a big handful of coriander, chopped*
2 spring onions, shredded (optional)
1 small hot green (or red) chilli (optional)
1 x 215g bag frozen cold water prawns (optional)
4 eggs, lightly beaten**

to serve:
sweet chilli sauce
gluten free soy sauce

*If you’re  not a fan of coriander, you could always try thai basil or similar for a punchy herby flavour.  I’ve not done this, as I love coriander, but I know not everyone does

** If you don’t add all the extra ingredients, you can probably get away with 3 eggs.

Put the noodles in a heatproof bowl and cover with boiling water.  Leave for about 5 minutes, or until tender.  Drain and then snip coarsely with scissors.

I tend to do all my grating and chopping of everything else while the noodles soak.

Combine the noodles with all other ingredients in a bowl.

Heat a little oil in a frying pan over a medium-high heat, and fry spoonfuls of the mix until browned on each side.

I like to serve these with a mixture of sweet chilli & soy sauce, stirred together to taste.

Pumpkin Ice-cream and Pecan Shortbread

For my birthday this year, I received a book called ‘Small Plates & Sweet Treats: My family’s journey to gluten-free cooking‘ by Aran Goyoaga, creator of cannelle et vanille.  It all looks absolutely beautiful – so many recipes I want to try, but a recipe which caught my eye from the opening of the book was Roasted Pumpkin ice cream sundae.

I’ve invited friends around for dinner this evening, so thought it was the perfect time to give it a go.  It’s turned out to be quite a good challenge in some respects, so I’ve shrunk the recipe to roasted pumpkin ice-cream with pecan shortbread.  Stuff making more mess with caramel sauce and candied pecans, besides it’s sweet enough as it is, and because it’s January, we’re trying to avoid sugar – I’m making an exception for this one though.

Roasted Pumpkin Ice Cream
1 large sugar pumpkin, red kuri or butternut squash (1.25kg)
1 cup (250ml) double cream
1 cup (250ml) whole milk (I used soya)
3/4 cup (150g) light brown sugar
1 tsp finely grated root ginger
5 egg yolks
1 tsp cinnamon
1/4 tsp salt
1/8 tsp nutmeg

Preheat the oven to 200C (gas 6).  Peel, deseed and cut the squash into large chunks.  Bake the squash on a baking sheet in the oven for 45 minutes to an hour, until the squash is cooked and the edges start to caramelise.

Once the squash is cooked, whiz in a food processor until smooth.  You want one cup (250g) of roasted pumpkin purée   The recipe suggests that one squash will yield 2 1/2 cups, but that seemed like a load of codswallop to me as I got a cup out of my squash.

Combine the double cream, milk, 1/2 cup (100g) of the light brown sugar and the ginger in a medium saucepan and bring to a simmer over a medium heat.

Meanwhile, in a separate bowl, whisk the egg yolks together with the remaining 1/4 cup (50g) light brown sugar, cinnamon, salt and nutmeg until its frothy.

When the cream mixture reaches a simmer, pour it slowly into the egg mixture while whisking.  Be careful not to scramble the eggs.  Pour this back into the pan and cook over a medium heat, stirring constantly, while it thickens to a custard-like consistency.

Remove the ice cream base from the heat and whisk in the pumpkin purée.  Strain through a sieve into a clean bowl (I used the one I’d done the egg mix in – no point making MORE dishes).  Cool and chill this mixture for at least two hours, or overnight.

The next morning, my mix was quite set – not the nice thick unctuous custard I’d hoped for, so I let the mix out with some more cream and milk until it was the consistency I wanted.  This then got put in the ice cream maker to churn until frozen. I then turned it into a plastic container and it’s in the freezer ready to eat.

I’ll get it out of the freezer about an hour before eating and pop it in the fridge.

Pecan Shortbread
1 cup (240g) brown rice flour – I ended up using more than this, but I’ll come back to that!
1/2 cup (80g) potato flour
1/2 cup + 2Tbsp (70g) gluten free oat flour – I didn’t have oat flour, so weighed out that much of gluten free oats and whacked them in the food processor for a good spin.
1/4 cup (30g) tapioca flour
1 tsp salt
1/2 cup (80g) pecans
225g butter from fridge
3/4 cup (90g) icing sugar
1 tsp vanilla extract

Whiz the oats until fine (f using).  Add the pecans and whiz again until the pecans are well chopped.  Add the rest of the flours and salt and give it a good blend together.  Add the butter, cubed, the icing sugar, and while the whiz is going, dribble in the vanilla.

Once it all comes together, turn it out into a bowl.  You want a quite ‘short’ mixture.  Mine felt too greasy so I added more rice flour until I was happy with the texture.  Roll the mix into a nice sausage shape, wrapping in greaseproof baking paper to get it all nice and smooth and round.

Pop the whole roll in the fridge for at least an hour.

Preheat your oven to 180C (gas 4).

Take your shortbread sausage out of the fridge and cut into rounds, about 1 1/2 cm thick.  Place these nicely spaced apart on greaseproof paper on a baking tray and bake for 15-20 minutes.  They need to be cooked all the way through, but not too browned otherwise they’ll get too dry.  Leave them to cool and firm up on the tray, then dust with more icing sugar.

Falafel burgers

Sometimes Binks likes to cook… so long as it involves chickpeas.  I’m not complaining, I am a fan of chickpeas. Today he’s trying his hand at something new, after various iterations of hummus that we’ve had in the past few months (roasted pepper, chilli, spinach etc).  Today, he wanted to make falafel.  Falafel burgers to be more exact. Including the gluten free burger buns to go with them.  Heck, I am all for encouraging that kind of cooking.

I’ve got a falafel recipe that I’ve used a few times before.  It’s really easy, and tastes great, so we decided to use that, but instead of deep frying the falafel, we’re going to bake the burger-sized patties.  I hope it works. Baked falafel has worked before, and it’s so much more healthy than deep fried (besides, my deep fryer went on the fritz last time we used it for falafel and I haven’t got a replacement yet).
250g chickpeas, soaked overnight
1 small red onion, chopped
2 cloves garlic, chopped
2 tsp ground corriander*
2 tsp ground cumin*
1/2 tsp cayenne pepper
1 tsp salt
1/2 tsp baking powder
3 Tbsp chopped fresh coriander or parsley
Drain the chickpeas and whiz in the food processor until they’re a fairly fine paste. Add the onion and garlic and process again to finely chop and disperse through the chickpeas. Add the spices, salt, baking powder and coriander.  Process again.  It’s important to get the chickpeas into a fine paste so that they cook quickly and don’t taste too bitty.
Shape into falafel or burger patties (!) and either deep fry in hot oil for a few minutes until browned, or bake in a fairly hot oven for about half an hour.
* A note on the spices: I only have whole coriander and cumin seeds in the house, and I have a spice grinder, so I just bung in the spices I need when I need them and grind them.  The flavour of freshly ground spices is far superior to anything that’s been sitting around for a while in a jar or tub. 

Carrot cake with cream cheese icing

We saw Miranda Hart on Room 101 this week, and one of the things she wanted to put in there was ‘Fruit and vegetables out of context’.  She went on to explain that pineapple on pizza and carrot in cake was what she meant.  Cake and vegetables shouldn’t be combined.  Under any circumstances. Carrots shouldn’t go anywhere that you can’t pour gravy on them, and you wouldn’t pour gravy on a cake. Agreed, but I wonder what she thinks about apple sauce with roast pork?

Personally, I think she’s right about the pineapple on pizza thing, but I do like a bit of pineapple in my kiwi-burger, along with beetroot, a proper beef pattie and a fried egg.  Yummo.  I am also partial to vegetables in cakes, and have been known to use quite an assortment including squash, courgette, parsnip and beetroot.

However, today it was carrot cake that was on the menu. It’s been specially requested by a colleague at work to celebrate her birthday, and I love the recipe that I’ve used for years, so was only too happy to oblige.

Carrot cake
2 eggs
1C / 230g sugar
3/4 C / 190 ml vegetable oil
1/2 tsp vanilla extract
1C flour (I use Doves Farm gluten free)
1/2 tsp mixed spice
1 tsp baking soda
1/2 tsp salt
1 1/2 C / 240g coarsely grated carrot
1/2 C / 75g chopped walnuts
1/2 C / 90g sultanas

Preheat the oven to 150C / Gas 2.  Grease a ring tin thoroughly.  I recommend using a ring tin to ensure the mixture bakes evenly and doesn’t dry at the sides while remaining undercooked in the middle.

Put the eggs, sugar, oil and vanilla into a medium sized mixing bowl and whisk together until light and fluffy.  This can take quite a while, so be patient.  You’re dissolving the sugar and getting some air into the mixture.

Once the mixture is fluffy, sift in the dry ingredients (flour, mixed spice, baking soda & salt) and mix to combine.  Add the grated carrot, chopped walnuts and sultanas.  Mix again to combine thoroughly.

Pour the mixture into the prepared tin and bake in the preheated oven for 50-60 minutes until a skewer comes out clean when inserted in the cake.

Cool on a wire rack in the tin, and turn out carefully once it’s cooled.

Cream cheese icing
25g butter, softened
50g cream cheese
grated rind of 1 lemon
1 tsp lemon juice
1 1/2 C / 250g icing sugar

Beat the butter and cream cheese together in a bowl until smooth and creamy.  Beat in the lemon juice and lemon rind.  Sift in the icing sugar and beat until smooth.  If it’s too runny, add a bit more sifted icing sugar.

Once the cake is completely cooled, ice with the cream cheese icing.  Share with friends… if you must!

Sweet potato, chilli & coriander soup

The weekend is a time in our house when wonderful smells abound.  It’s when we both have time to cook because we’re at home, and it’s when we try new things or whip up something for during the week.

One of our goals this year is to take lunch to work more often rather than buying it.  Home made food tastes better, costs less, and you know what you’re getting!  Today I’ve made a batch of sweet potato, chilli & coriander soup, which I’ll decant into soup bags for the freezer.  We can then grab a bag out and take it for lunch, along with a home-made roll or two.

This is a recipe that I’ve been making for a while.  Sweet potato is known as kumara in New Zealand, and it tends to come in two varieties: the orange skinned, orange fleshed variety; and the red skinned, yellow fleshed variety.  For this soup, you want the orange-skinned version – it makes a wonderful creamy soup.  The red skinned ones make amazing chips.

100g fresh coriander, roots attached if possible
1 Tbsp vegetable oil
1 large onion, coarsely chopped
2 cloves garlic, crushed
1 Tbsp sambal oelek (less if you like it less spicy)
1.2kg sweet potato, peeled and chopped into chunks
1 litre water
500 ml vegetable stock (gluten free)
160ml coconut milk

Don’t worry too much if you can’t get coriander with roots – I find it’s hard to track down over here.  If you do want to use the roots, then try your local Middle Eastern grocers, as that seems to be the best place to get it.

Sambal Oelek is an Indonesian preserved chilli that you’ll find in jars in either a speciality supermarket or perhaps in the international aisle at your local supermarket.  It keeps for a long time in the fridge once opened.

Wash the coriander roots carefully to remove all traces of dirt, sand and soil.  Finely chop enough of the root, or stems if you don’t have roots, to make 2 tsp.

Heat the oil in a large saucepan.  Add the coriander root, onion, garlic and sambal oelek.  Cook over a low heat until the onion is soft and translucent.  You don’t want to brown the onion, just cook it through to soften it. This will take about 10 minutes.

Add the sweet potato, water and stock and bring to the boil.  Leave to simmer, uncovered, until the sweet potato is soft, around 15-20 minutes.

Remove from the heat and blend to a smooth consistency.  Add the coconut milk and stir through well.

Serve sprinkled with freshly chopped coriander leaves.

Steak pie with gluten free shortcrust pastry

We had a small amount of stew left over the other day.  More than enough for one person, not quite enough for two (because a certain someone ate so much of it!), so I decided to make a couple of pies with the leftovers.  This is the first time I have forayed into unsweetened gluten free shortcrust pastry, but it turned out brilliantly.  I am really pleased with the result.  The pastry was short, perfectly cooked, and tasted great.  The pie also managed to beat Binks, who couldn’t finish all of his (even though I put little love hearts on the top for him).

100g rice flour
100g fine cornmeal
100g potato flour
1 heaped tsp xantham gum
pinch of salt
150g cold butter, cubed
1 egg, beaten and mixed with 2 Tbsp cold water

Put the flours, xantham gum and salt in the bowl of the food processor and blitz to mix the flours together.  Add the cubed butter and blitz again until the mixture resembles breadcrumbs. With the food processor still running, add a tablespoon at a time of the egg and water mixture until the pastry just starts to come together.

Tip the pastry into a bowl and work together with your hands, adding a bit more egg mixture if needed.  The amount of egg mixture you need to add will be a bit more if you’ve put a lot of xantham gum in, and a bit less if you have less gum – don’t stress about it too much, it should still turn out fine.

Once you’ve got your pastry together in a ball, and not too wet, wrap in cling film and leave to rest in the fridge for at least half an hour.  Once you’re ready to use it, roll it out to the desired thickness.  I do this between two pieces of greaseproof paper – it saves on drying the pastry out with added flour, and is easy to use off the paper.

Once it’s rolled out, cut to fit your pie dish.  It actually doesn’t matter too much if it rips, tears or splits as you line your pie tin, just squish it back together with another piece of pastry.  Fill with the desired filling (leftover beef stew, in my case), and pop the lid on, sealing the edges with a bit of water and squashing the pastry together.  Pop a couple of holes in the top to let any steam escape and bake in a moderate oven (about 180C, gas mark 4) for about half an hour or until the pastry is golden brown and the filling is piping hot.

I hope you enjoy it as much as we did.

Lemon curd frozen yoghurt

I was treated to an ice-cream maker for Christmas from Binks.  Probably because he likes ice-cream…and he knows I like to cook.  So… I decided to see what I could make out of what I had in the fridge.

First up was an orange sorbet.  I’m not so pleased with it because it is too sweet, but it’s otherwise nice.  Orange juice, water, sugar, orange rind, and a splash of cointrau…not too much though as I still wanted it to freeze.  If I did it again, I’d use less sugar and make it a lot sharper.

Next up…something lemony.  I scoured my books and the interweb for something good, and came across the perfect recipe in my Leith’s Cookery Bible.  I had everything I needed already.

Leith’s calls it icecream, but it’s made from yoghurt…so it’s frozen yoghurt to me. Sounds healthier too.

3 eggs, beaten
grated zest & juice of 2 (& a half) lemons (I like things lemony & had a half lemon in the fridge to use up)
225g caster sugar
85g unsalted butter, at room temperature, cut into small pieces
570ml (1 pint) plain yoghurt

Put the eggs, lemon juice, sugar and butter into a small saucepan. Stir over a low heat with a wooden spoon until the curd is thick enough to coat the back of the spoon – this takes a while and requires some patience, but it’s worth it.
Remove from the heat and allow to cool.  Stir in the yoghurt and churn in the ice cream maker until it’s the right consistency.  Serve immediately, or freeze until required.  It needs a wee while in the fridge before serving if you’ve kept it in the freezer.

This makes a wonderful sharp and refreshing lemon ice cream, and we shared it with friends after our big beef stew.  Yummo.

A beef stew with friends

I’ve been a bit slack on the old blogging.  So many recipes I want to share, never any time to sit and type.  I hope I can change that, maybe get Binks to do more of the cleaning etc…

I decided I wanted to make something simple for a midwinter supper with friends.  I didn’t want to spend hours in the kitchen, but it was OK if the food did.  I also discovered Binks had bought a bag of frozen stewing vegetables, and I had no idea what else to do with them than make a stew…after I’d fished a bunch of the carrots out.  What is it with carrots?  They’re in everything, loads of them.  I don’t mind a few carrots, but carrot overload?  No thank you.

a good dollop of beef dripping
800g stewing steak, cut into bite size pieces
a couple of Tbsp flour (I use Doves farm gluten free)
4 garlic cloves, crushed
either a bag of frozen stewing vegetables (!) or…
200g chopped onions
150g celery, cut into chunks
150g carrots, cut into chunks
2 leeks, chopped
200g swede or turnip, or a mix
a large glass of red wine (250ml)
500 ml beef stock
4 fresh bay leaves
a handful of fresh thyme leaves
a handful of chopped flat leaf parsley
a good glug of worcestershire sauce (I have a gluten free one)
a good glug of balsamic vinegar (to taste)
salt & freshly ground black pepper.

Preheat the oven to about gas mark 2-3, 150-160C.
Shake the beef and flour together in a bag.
Heat the beef dripping in an oven-proof casserole dish.
Brown the meat on all sides, in batches if necessary.  Once it’s all browned, tip in any remaining flour to cook for a couple of minutes.
Add all the vegetables and garlic.
Add the wine, stock, herbs, worcestershire sauce and balsamic vinegar.  Season with salt and pepper.
Bring the mixture to the boil, cover with the lid and then bung in the oven for about 3 hours.

Serve the scrumptious stew with mashed potatoes.  I also had steamed savoy cabbage too. We definitely got our five-a-day yesterday.

This amount of stew will easily serve six, and probably serve eight, if they’re not as greedy as Binks, who ate at least two portions.