Thursday, 28 August 2014

Suma Bloggers Network : Raspberry Coconut Macaroons

This post is a bittersweet treat in conjunction with Suma Wholefoods. As a member of their Bloggers Network I always look forward to whipping up a recipe bi-monthly using a selection of their great products. When I received their last catalogue I was thrilled to see a number of new Suma own-brand coconut-based products on offer. They're all organic too which ticks another box! Brilliant! These are the products I chose:

(Suma Organic Coconut Sugar, Suma Organic Cacao Nibs, Suma Organic Coconut Flour & Divine 85% Dark Chocolate)

I've made Raspberry Coconut Macaroons before but I wanted to spruce them up a little bit. Dark Chocolate and Cacao Nibs are great additions - I love the bitterness, especially when balanced with something fruity and sweet. The cacao nibs are also full of goodness, jam-packed with antioxidants, plus magnesium, fibre and iron! 

Having never used Coconut Sugar before I was extremely impressed. It's a deep brown colour with a Demerera-like depth of flavour. Unlike normal sugar it retains more natural nutrients during processing and while I'm not suggesting it's a health food I'd definitely say it was the lesser of two evils! I did not use the Coconut Flour in this recipe but I'm experimenting and will hopefully have a recipe up on my blog soon including this.

To make approximately 16 macaroons you will need:

150g Raspberries
170g Desiccated Coconut
2 tbsp Suma Organic Cacao Nibs
3 tbsp / 60g Suma Organic Coconut Sugar
1 tsp Baking Powder
3 eggs equivalent of Orgran Egg Replacer
100g Divine 85% Dark Chocolate
Couple of pinches of Salt
Dried Rose Petals (optional)

Firstly set your oven to 190°c and line a baking sheet with baking paper.

In a large bowl bash up your raspberries lightly with the side of a spoon so that the chunks vary in size. Try not to over do it otherwise you'll end up with more of a raspberry paste. Add the coconut to the raspberries with the coconut sugar, baking powder, cacao nibs and a pinch of salt. 

In a measuring jug mix together your egg replacer with the required amount of water and whisk well. You can of course use eggs here - I'm sure 2 whisked would do the trick. Fold the egg replacer into the mixture gently until everything is combined. Now time to get your hands dirty - get stuck in with around a tablespoons worth of mixture per macaroon. Gently roll the mixture in the palms of your hands to create balls. These can be as neat or as messy as you like. If they are squeezed together too hard they will come out too dense. The aim is to create a macaroon which is slightly crunchy on the outside and deliciously soft within, so be gentle.

Lay the macaroons onto the baking sheet. They will not rise so don't worry too much about spacing. Put into the preheated oven and cook for 15-20 minutes until they have an even browning on the outside.

Remove from the oven once the outside is fully toasted. Try to remove them gently from the baking sheet as soon as you can, to prevent them from sticking as they cool, and lay out on a cooling rack.

Once they have cooled fully lay them out onto a plate or another suitable surface. Heat a small saucepan of water on the hob. Break up the Dark Chocolate into a glass bowl with a pinch of salt then sit this on top of the saucepan. Keeping the hob at a low-medium heat melt the chocolate slowly. Once you have a bowl of molten chocolate remove the bowl from the heat and use a spoon to drizzle it over the macaroons. Nice opportunity for a spoon-lick or two here!

If you're using them rip up some dried rose petals and scatter over the macaroons while the chocolate is still wet. Then pop the macaroons into the fridge for 30 minutes or so to let the chocolate set. You can keep them in tupperware for a few days at room temperature, I don't like to keep them in the fridge as they become too hard. 

Head to Suma Bloggers Network to see the other brilliant bloggers who are part of the network! There's some amazing vegetarian and vegan recipes available!


Friday, 15 August 2014

Fennel, Courgette & Chilli Risotto

As it was my birthday on Monday I had a long weekend of celebrations. It was an excellent time with excellent friends. I ate terribly, drunk wayyy too much and felt pretty shoddy by the end... but that's what birthdays are for, right??? This week I have needed good old comfort food to get me back on top. Lots of fruit, veggies and plenty of hydration. The temperature has also dropped which has meant a good chance to indulge in cold-weather favourites including soups, broths and risottos. Happy days!

This Fennel, Courgette & Chilli Risotto was thrown together with random bits left in the fridge and is just so satisfying. Also, I managed to keep my inner chilli fiend locked up and so it's warmth is manageable for most. Well done me. 

I adore Risotto and the key is to keep it moist and keep everything moving. Don't rush the process, just take it easy. I also really love al dente rice, so it is 'just' cooked and therefore not at all stodgy, but you can cook it whichever way you like it!

To serve 2, you will need:

1 tbsp Dairy Free Spread (feel free to use Butter if you are not dairy-free)
1 large Fennel bulb, finely sliced (reserve Fennel tops for decoration)
1 medium Courgette, roughly diced
1 large Red Chilli (medium heat), finely chopped
180g Arborio Risotto Rice
Juice of 1 Lemon
500ml Organic Vegetable Stock
1 tsp Fennel Seeds
½ tsp Black Peppercorns
Salt flakes
Small handful of Parsley

In a heavy-based deep-sided frying pan, heat the Dairy Free Spread until melted then add the sliced fennel. Cook at a medium heat for 10 minutes, stirring throughout, to soften. Turn the heat up to full for 2 minutes following this to get a little browning on the fennel.

Turn the hob back down to medium heat then add the diced Courgette. Cook for 5 minutes then add the chilli. Mix together well then cook for a further 5 minutes. In the meantime crush the fennel seeds with the black peppercorns and add to the pan, then make up 500ml vegetable stock in a jug.

Add the rice to the pan and coat fully by mixing well, then squeeze over the lemon juice. Let this sizzle away for a minute or two, keeping everything moving, then add the first 100ml of your stock. The aim is to let each bit of liquid get absorbed fully before pouring in the next. So gradually add the stock bit by bit over the course of 20-30 minutes until the rice is cooked to your liking. If you need more liquid add more stock or even water straight from the kettle.

Once the risotto rice is cooked to your liking remove from the heat. Taste and then season with salt accordingly. Finely chop a small handful of Parsley leaves and mix through. Then serve ripping up the Fennel tops to use as a garnish for the top. 

The great thing about the use of courgette in this recipe is that some pieces stay whole and even relatively firm. Whilst other pieces soften and get mixed through to create an almost creaminess. Overall the Risotto is really fresh-tasting, with a lovely aniseed warmth from the fennel and a definite zing from the lemon and chilli. I hope you enjoy!

Watch this space for my next blog post for Suma Wholefoods coming soon! It's a fruity delight!

Friday, 1 August 2014

Aubergine & Courgette Tagine

One thing that my husband has really missed since going meat-free at home is those long, slow-cooked meaty dishes. The boeuf bourguignons and Sunday casseroles. This rich veggie tagine is a great meat-free alternative to those dishes. And we just adore the sour kicks you get from those lush Moroccan flavours! 

In our house we can't manage particularly large portions but dishes were practically licked clean after this. After I posted a photo of the meal on Instagram, a friend asked for the recipe and so I thought I may as well share it here too! It's a corker. 

To serve 2, you will need:

5 baby Courgettes, sliced
2-3 baby Aubergines, sliced
1 large White Onion, roughly chopped
10 Cherry Tomatoes, quartered
500ml Veg Stock
1 Cinnamon Stick
Bulb of Garlic, separated into cloves
1/4 tsp Cayenne Pepper
1 tsp Cumin Seeds
1 tsp Coriander Seeds, ground
1 tsp ground Turmeric
1-2 Preserved Lemons, finely chopped
10 Kalamata Olives (stone in)
Handful of fresh Coriander, finely chopped
Salt & Pepper

Heat oven to 190°c. In a large deep pan (or casserole dish you can put on the hob) heat a glug of olive oil and sweat onions for 7 minutes. 

Keeping on a low-medium heat, add all the spices, cinnamon stick and whole garlic cloves. Mix well then add the Courgette and Aubergine slices, followed by the Preserved Lemons and Olives. Coat everything well in the spices then throw in the Tomatoes. Cook for 2-3 minutes then add the stock and season with salt and pepper.

Mix well, bring to the boil then decant into a casserole dish (no need to decant if you used casserole dish from the beginning). I used a tagine but I don't like to use it on the hob. Put in the oven and cook for at least 90 -100 minutes, stirring a couple of times during. Cook for longer to thicken sauce, I tend to remove the lid for the last 20-30 minutes of cooking to do this.

Once ready check the seasoning, remove cinnamon stick and mix through fresh coriander. I served with couscous with black pepper and coriander mixed through - lovely jubbly!