Monthly Archives: September 2015

Lemon Meringue Pie

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Sweet, tangy Lemon Meringue Pie. Impress your family and friends with this completely homemade dessert; You don’t have to tell them it is a lot simpler than it looks! 

Lemon Meringue Pie is really quite self explanatory, but just incase you’ve never eaten one… Imagine thin, crisp, just sweet pastry, with a generous filling of tart lemon curd which makes your house smell Amazing (capital letter definitely justified!) as it bakes, and then topped with soft, pillowy meringue, with a crisp, sugary meringue-crust on the top. Sounds great, right! Now imagine just how good it tastes…

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Lemon Meringue Pie is such a classic dessert for a very good reason. The combination of the sweet meringue and pastry, heightened by the sharp lemon curd filling just makes it the perfect way to end a meal. Although sometimes it can be on the sweet side, this recipe provides just the right balance of sweet and tart flavours, giving it an appeal to all the family.

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You can make the making of Lemon Meringue Pie as complicated as you like… or we can use a few cheats to really speed it up! The first thing that will be your friend if you are in a hurry is shop bought pastry. Although perhaps not as satisfying as making your own, it sure does speed it up if you need to do this quickly. And, most of them are dairy free! It is very surprising, but read through the ingredients and often they don’t contain any milk… Just avoid the ones that shout about being ‘all butter pastry’ obviously!

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The other way to speed this up is to make your lemon curd in advance. OK – so that’s not really ‘saving’ time, as you’ve still got to make it – but Lemon Meringue Pie does not keep very well, so if you’re short on time the day you want to eat it, taking it straight from a jar you’ve previously made is a great time saver. If you do need to make some just for this pie, then take my Lemon Curd recipe and only make 1/2 the recipe (which is a generous amount for this dessert). By making it right before you bake the pie, you save time not faffing around with sterilising jars and worrying about everything being squeaky clean – we do this normally because we want to be able to keep it mould free in the fridge for some time, but here it’s going to eaten that day so we don’t need to worry!

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So give this classic dessert a go, and you’ll find this will become a family favourite to go back to time and time again.

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Filed under dessert, Fruit, Meringue, Pastry

How to… line a tin with pastry!

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So as I mentioned quite a while ago, my New Year’s resolution for this year was to crack making perfect pastry.  I wouldn’t say I’m quite there yet, but I definitely think I’ve learnt a lot along the way and so I wanted to share some tips and tricks with you.

You can use these tips for any pastry recipe; it would work perfectly for my Lemon Meringue or Apple Pie, or this delicious Apple and Blueberry Frangipane Tart.

One thing that used to fill me with dread was lining a tin with pastry – especially homemade pastry, which tends to be lovely and short (read: a nightmare to transfer from your work surface to the tin!!!). So, where to start…

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Filed under Reviews & Other Things, Savoury

Double Chocolate Cookies

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Chewy, all-American double chocolate cookies. The perfect texture with a very chocolatey flavour, these are my new go-to cookies when I fancy a quick treat. The perfect accompaniment for lazy afternoons pouring over recipes and cookery books!

So these cookies came about in a bit of a funny way. I really wasn’t looking for a blogging recipe at all – but turns out these were just too good not to post! After a baking fail (yes, they do happen!) I just really fancied a cookie, and as I stumbled across this recipe and had all the ingredients in the cupboard, it was a bit of an ‘oh why not’ situation. And they were perfect. And dangerously quick to make…

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These are very chocolatey. And even though they are a chocolate biscuit, with lots of chocolate in, they are the perfect balance of sweet and bitter, which makes them dangerously moreish. They also have just the right texture; you know how some cookies can be a tad cake-y, and others can be too hard and crunchy? Well these are neither; they are the classic American cookie texture – slightly soft in the middle, crisp and sweet at the edges and chewy all over.

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This recipe didn’t need to be changed at all; only tweaked to use a dairy free butter and dark chocolate. Although the original recipe used a mixture of milk and dark chocolate, I think these worked brilliantly with just dark – it stops them getting too sweet, and it made it a more grown-up flavour, making it feel like a decadent treat. You could of course still use half and half if preferred, using a dairy free ‘milk’ chocolate. Whichever you choose, just try to resist eating them all at once!

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Filed under Biscuits & Cookies, Chocolate

Vegan Coconut and Blueberry ‘Cheesecake’

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A vegan dessert that has convinced even me it is possible to replace cheesecake. Although not cheese-y in the slightest, this is a soft, creamy and fruity dessert sure to fill that cheesecake gap in your life!

OK… Let’s be honest…It can’t really be a cheesecake without cheese. So I’ve named it ‘cheesecake’ as I just couldn’t think of a more apt name for this creamy, fruity, delightful dessert. The filling is soft and light, which surprisingly comes from cashew nuts, coconut milk and coconut oil. Sometimes I think coconut can be an over-used flavour in dairy-free baking, however I loved it paired with blueberries. It is certainly a favour combination I would like to try with other things – pancakes or french toast perhaps?!

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One thing that really attracted me to this recipe was that it used what I would call proper ingredients – sometimes I find that dairy-free and vegan recipes can have all sorts of weird ingredients in them and you have no idea what they are or where to buy them from. The creaminess in this ‘cheesecake’ comes from cashew nuts and coconut milk; together, when blended, they produce the most delightful, soft and creamy textured thick paste (sounds delightful, I know, but bear with me), which when chilled has almost the same texture as cream cheese. And because cashew nuts have such a gentle flavour, it leaves room for the coconut and blueberries to stand out.

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The other thing I have to admit is that I cheated slightly for the aesthetics of the dessert. This is very unlike me, but I have to admit I added a few drops of purple food colouring into the mix. Perhaps we have different varieties of blueberries here; whereas the blueberries from the original recipe turned the ‘cheesecake’ a brilliant hue of violet, mine turned it a distinct shade of grey… So I cheated and added a tiny bit of food colouring. Let’s be honest – it’s hardly the worst crime in the world and aesthetics of a dessert are important!

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As someone who has not eaten a real cheesecake for a very long time, this ‘cheesecake’ was delicious. It really hit the spot for a sweet creamy dessert, and the buttery biscuit base reminded me of the childhood cheesecakes my mum used to make. The dessert was also surprisingly easy and didn’t require baking. Really, apart from melting butter, this was more of an assembly job! The base is frozen, and, once chilled, the blended mixture is poured on top, and then the ‘cheesecake’ is frozen. Thawed thoroughly before eating, it looses any frozen texture and tastes deliciously like a chilled dessert. It may not be a real cheesecake, but it certainly came close!

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Filed under dessert, Frozen Treats, Fruit, vegan

Naan Breads

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Soft and chewy Indian flat breads, traditionally made with yoghurt and butter and served alongside dishes from the north of India. With a few substitutions and a simple cooking method, you can now enjoy these at home whenever you please!

I often get a bit of a surprised look from people when I tell them the things I miss most. Cheese, Naan breads and Twixs. I admit, it is a strange list, but the one thing they have all had in common is that you just can’t make them yourself at home and get the same results. People are often surprised at Naan breads not being dairy free – however they almost always contain yoghurt, which gives it it’s chewy texture, and are then slathered in butter.

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Well, it turns out that it is possible to make perfect Naan breads at home. And it is really simple. And it doesn’t require any special equipment at all! Who’d have thought?! And, even better, I can genuinely promise you that you would never know there have been any substitutions. Now, when I say simple… You do have to make a bread dough, which I know strikes fear in some people! But I promise it isn’t hard, and as this is quite a wet and sticky dough it is very hard to go wrong. You can’t over or under knead – just play with it for about 5 minutes and you can’t go wrong.

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The other reason that I had thought Naan bread would not be possible to make at home is because they are traditionally cooked in a Tandoor – a very hot and dry clay oven which gives them a subtly smokey and charred flavour. The very high temperatures also mean the bread cooks quickly, creating the big air bubbles which give the bread it’s traditional look. To replicate this type of cooking at home is actually, surprisingly, really easy and requires no special equipment at all. All you need is a good non-stick frying pan. Ideally a heavy bottomed pan as this will retain the very high heat better – but any frying pan will work.

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Now I’ll admit that you can’t have these without working and waiting for them. However, they freeze and reheat excellently and you can easily double the amount you make. And so that’s it. The secret of making dairy free Naan breads at home is revealed – let us rejoice, as we all know that no curry is complete without a humble and yet majestic Naan bread on the side.

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