Category Archives: Food

Almond pancakes- low carb, high protein

low carb high protein gluten free diabetic pancakesWhile I’ve complained to everyone I know, I don’t think that I’ve mentioned here that I was diagnosed with gestational diabetes a few weeks ago and have to test my blood glucose six times a day, so no biscuits for me. I’ve been fortunate enough to be able to control it with exercise and diet so far, but I have been really borderline for medication as any carbs (even the plain porridge and bran flakes the NHS diet sheets recommended) have sent my blood sugar soaring- especially first thing in the morning.

This means that for the past few weeks I’ve been stuck in some kind of Atkins/Paleo diet hell. I exaggerate, lunch and dinner aren’t too bad, but pretty much the only thing I’ve been able to eat for breakfast which hasn’t upset my blood sugar is eggs- with or without a side serving of a different type of protein. And yesterday I’d had enough. I know how important it is to keep my blood glucose controlled because of the side effects for the baby, but I was so sick of eggs I spent the day searching for high protein, low carb breakfasts and while they were mostly Paleo focused, I did find these little gems on PopSugar that I just had to try today.

I adapted the recipe slightly to reduce quantities, account for what I had in the house, take into consideration some of the comments on the article and to make sure that the toppings weren’t going to trigger a blood sugar spike (no maple syrup for me!). I was actually really pleased with how they turned out. I’d definitely make them again and they are a god send for anyone who wants a “fun” breakfast that is a healthy option at the same time.

PLEASE NOTE THAT I AM NOT A MEDIC AND THIS IN NO WAY CONSTITUTES MEDICAL OR DIETARY ADVICE! IT’S JUST A COMMENTARY ON THE EFFECT THESE PANCAKES HAD ON MY BLOOD SUGAR ON A GIVEN DAY. 

Ingredients for 3 pancakes

  • 1 cup ground almonds (see notes)
  • Pinch of salt
  • 1/8 teaspoon baking powder
  • 1 large egg
  • 1/4 cup semi-skimmed milk
  • Half teaspoon vanilla essence
  • Coconut oil to grease the pan, but any vegetable oil would do really (see notes)

Topping

I used Yeo Valley natural yogurt because it’s the lowest in sugar that I’ve been able to find. I mashed up six raspberries to make them go further, but if you don’t have sugar issues you could probably go wild with these.

Method

Because of the small quantities I was making, I added all the ingredients at the same time and whisked them up with an electric mixer. If you are making a larger batch, I would combine the eggs and dry ingredients before gradually adding the milk.

Heat the oil in a frying pan so that it’s hot and add about a quarter of a cup of the mixture to make each pancake, turning when the base is brown and the mixture set.

Notes

The ground almonds worked well for me, but some people have said they found the texture grainy. You can buy almond flour, but I think the price of this is extortionate. In the past when making macarons, I’ve used the grinder feature on a food processor to turn the almonds into dust which might work well here.

The biscuity smell of the coconut oil made the pancakes seem sweeter to me without actually adding any sugar, but you could probably use any vegetable oil depending on your plans for topping eg. something like sunflower oil would be fine if you were going to add a savoury topping like creamed cheese and smoked salmon.

If you do decide to go for a savoury topping- omit the vanilla essence!

Effect on blood glucose

Before breakfast I had a reading of 3.7 which was below my fasting limit of 6.0. An hour after eating these I had a blood glucose of 4.8 which is well below the threshold 7.8 after food that my diabetes nurse has set. I feel like I could have afforded a few more raspberries now!

Frothy Coffee Sponge Cake

frothy coffee cappuccino cakeI hate coffee, but I couldn’t help but be impressed with this Frothy Coffee Cappuccino Cake my boyfriend made as his second ever cake for Mother’s Day (he made his first cake last year).

He adjusted this recipe from Good Food magazine to skip the walnuts for extra froth and used Tesco Finest Costa Rican coffee because of the chocolate and spice notes of the blend. The Good Food recipe calls for light soft brown sugar, but in future I’d be tempted to mix this with muscovado for a richer coffee colour on the cake. The recipe as Jon made it is below:

Ingredients

  • 250g pack butter, softened
  • 250g soft brown sugar plus 5 tbsp extra for drizzle and icing
  • 300g self-raising flour
  • 4 eggs
  • 200ml strong cold coffee (Tesco Finest Costa Rican worked well)
  • 500g tub mascarpone
  • cocoa powder or drinking chocolate to decorate

 Method

  1. Pre-heat the fan oven to 160c
  2. Cream together the butter and 250g of sugar before adding the eggs, flour and half the coffee. Divide this evenly between two greased and lined sandwich tins and bake for 25 mins.
  3. Mix the left over coffee with 3 tbsp of sugar and when the cake has cooled, drizzle 2 tbsp of the mixture on each half of the cake.
  4. Cream together the marscapone, left over coffee and 2 tbsps of sugar, using half the mixture to sandwich the sponge layers and half to top the cake before dusting with the cocoa powder for a frothy coffee look.

 

IMAG0250

Almond and Pistachio Biscuits #SundaySnack

Almond and pistachio biscuits with chocolate sauce and pistachio ice cream- a delicious but grown up summer sundaeI am a bit obsessed with pistachio nuts- served straight, in ice cream, souffles, macarons… I can’t get enough of them. These almond and pistachio biscuits are a grown up choice which is great for a coffee morning without being excessively sweet, though like my rose petal biscuits from last week, though dough can be tricky to handle if you want to make a decorative shape. I like to use them in ice cream sundaes in place of wafers- I can highly recommend these with some pistachio ice cream and dark chocolate sauce.

Ingredients

  • 225g salted butter
  • 140g caster sugar
  • 225g plain flour
  • 60g ground almonds
  • 1 egg yolk
  • 2 teaspoons almond extract

Decoration

50g finely chopped pistachio kernels

Method

Cream together the butter and sugar using an electric whisk then mix in the yolk and almond extract.

Once these are combined, stir in the flour and ground almonds until everything is evenly stirred in.

As with the rose petal biscuits, this dough can be quite tricky to handle, especially if you’re making it on a warm day or in a warm room. The easiest way to manage it is to make circular biscuits by shaping the dough into a sausage and chilling it in the fridge or freezer until it’s fairly solid before cutting thin slices (about 3mm thick) from the sausage. If you want to use a biscuit cutter for a heart shape as I have here, I would chill the dough until solid, roll out to 3mm thick between sheets of greaseproof paper and then freeze that before cutting the shapes out and placing quickly onto your baking sheet.

When the biscuits are safely on the sheet in your desired shape, lightly sprinkle over the chopped pistachio kernels and press these gently into the dough. I wouldn’t add them before as it makes everything trickier if something goes wrong and you need to reshape.

Bake the biscuits for 10-12 minutes in an oven which has been preheated to 190°C until they are a light golden colour, then allow to cool on a cooling rack or fresh greaseproof paper.

 

Rose Petal Biscuits #SundaySnack

rose biscuits rose flavoured cookiesI made these rose petal biscuits for midsummer’s evening last week using the crystallised rose petals that I made at the same time because I thought they had a very Midsummer Nights Dream vibe- I could easily believe that they are fairy food. They are really pretty and perfect for a fairy themed or romantic look, though you could just as easily leave the rose petals off or use another decoration.

Ingredients

Biscuits

  • 225g salted butter
  • 225g caster sugar
  • 1 large egg
  • 1 tablespoon rosewater
  • 280g plain flour
  • 1 tsp baking powder

Decorations

 

Method

Cream together the butter and sugar using an electric whisk then mix in the other wet ingredients.

Once these are fairly smoothly combined, stir in the flour and baking powder until everything is evenly stirred in.

This dough is quite tricky to handle, especially if you’re making it on a warm day as I was. The easiest way to manage it is to shape it into a sausage and chill in the fridge or freezer until it’s fairly solid and then cut thin slices (about 3mm thick) from the sausage which will bake into the biscuits shown. If you want to use a biscuit cutter for a heart shape or similar, I would chill the dough until solid, roll out to 3mm thick between sheets of greaseproof paper and then freeze that before cutting the shapes out. This dough makes a lovely biscuit but is very difficult to handle.

Bake the biscuits for 10-12 minutes in an oven which has been preheated to 190°C until they are a light golden colour, then allow to cool on a cooling rack or fresh greaseproof paper.

When the biscuits are completely cool, beat the egg white with the water or rosewater (this depends on your individual preference, I find that the additional rosewater in the icing makes the biscuits a bit too perfumey, but if you like them strong add it to the icing in place of the water) before using an electric whisk to mix in the icing sugar so that it has a light, fluffy texture. Add in food colour very gradually until you’re happy with your shade. Then spread on the cool biscuits and sprinkle with crystallised rose petals.

As the icing contains uncooked egg whites, be careful feeding to people with weakened immune systems and store in an airtight container in the fridge.

Crystallised Rose Petals

crystallised rose petals

This weekend I spent a lot of time hanging out in my garden, chilling out with my guinea pigs, weeding the borders and checking out how my crops were coming along. I decided to make some rose petal biscuits to celebrate midsummer, and thought that crystallised rose petals would make a lovely decoration. If you’re an organic gardener, they are really easy to rustle up. All you need is a rose, some greaseproof paper, an egg, a paint brush and some caster sugar.crystalised roses step by step

 

 

Pick your rose, and gently pull off the petals, abandoning any that are torn or spotted.

 

 

 

 

 

Gently paint each petal with some lightly beaten egg white, I add a tablespoon of water to my egg whites for a thinner and a finer glaze.

 

 

 

 

 

Gently sprinkle caster sugar all over the rose petal, shake off the excess and then lay on a sheet of greaseproof paper to dry for a few hours.

 

 

 

 

Boyfriend’s First Ever Cake

Victoria Sponge with a twistThis weekend, at the age of 28, my boyfriend made his first ever cake for Mothers’ Day. He used this easy Classic Victoria Sponge recipe, but switched the butter cream filling for a cream cheese icing on my recommendation as butter cream can be a little sickly and his mother doesn’t have a very sweet tooth.

To make a cream cheese icing whisk together 300g of Philadelphia with 125ml of double cream, then whisk in 150g icing sugar. Obviously it’s much easier to make this simple twist on a Victoria Sponge with an electric whisk. He made this without any physical help from me, clearly his obsessive tendencies have paid off.

Victoria Sponge

Cheat’s Cheese Danish

20140223_162709When I was in New York in September, I got a taste for cheese Danish pastries. I love cream cheese in everything, so in a crumbly pastry wasn’t a difficult sell but when I got back to the UK I couldn’t find them anywhere. Necessity being the mother of invention, I found some recipes online and with a bit of experimentation I can now share with you my easy peasy cheat’s cream cheese Danish recipe which doesn’t require a few hours rolling out butter and flour.

You will need:

220g full fat Philadelphia cream cheese

50g icing sugar

2 egg yolks

Zest of 1 lemon

2 tablespoons ricotta cheese

1 tablespoon vanilla extract

2 sheets of just roll puff pastry

Raspberry seedless jam (optional)

 

What to do:

1)      Take the pastry out of the fridge and pre-heat the oven to 200 degrees Celsius.

2)      Cream together the cream cheese and icing sugar until smooth, then stir through the egg yolk, lemon zest, vanilla and ricotta.

3)      Roll out the pastry sheet and cut into your preferred shape. Just Roll puff pastry can be cut into six even squares per sheet, or you can use a circle biscuit cutter to cut out circles of a similar size.

4)      Spoon the cream cheese mix onto the pastry, about two tablespoons per piece. If you like, add 1-2 teaspoons of raspberry jam to each one. It’s delicious.

5)      If you’re using squares, bring two opposite corners together, add a dab of beaten egg and pinch hard to seal.

6)      Paint the bare pastry with a little milk or egg to give it a brown glaze in the oven, then pop in and bake for 15-20 mins until pastry is puffed up and golden.

 

This makes an easy but impressive looking breakfast or a delicious alternative to biscuits with a good book and a cup of coffee or tea.

Seville Orange Marmalade (complete with literary influences…)

Seville orange marmaladeOranges are not the only fruit, unless you’re making marmalade in which case, sorry Jeanette, but they pretty much are. I know that you can technically add tangerine, ginger, grapefruit and whatnot, but for me, the Seville orange reigns supreme because of its distinctive, tangy marmalade taste, though not before sugar has been added. I don’t know if you’ve ever accidentally eaten a  bit of Seville orange thinking it was something other than a bitter cooking orange, but if you have you’ll understand the quote from Much Ado About Nothing:

The count is neither sad, nor sick, nor merry, nor
well; but civil count, civil as an orange, and
something of that jealous complexion.

If you want to make your own marmalade, and eat your sandwiches as Paddington Bear, intended, it’s pretty easy following this handy how to make marmalade guide from the BBC. Geeky literary quotes about Seville oranges and marmalade on the label are optional, but great fun.

Pimm’s Drizzle Cake

This Pimm’s Drizzle cake is the perfect treat to serve at a picnic or barbecue on a sunny day. It just smells of summer and looks absolutely beautiful.

 Pimms Drizzle Cake

Ingredients

225g unsalted butter
200g caster sugar
4 eggs
225g self-raising flour, sifted
zest and freshly squeezed juice of 1 orange
zest and freshly squeezed juice of 1 lemon
Handful of mint, finely chopped
150ml Pimm’s no1
Strawberries, lemon and mint to decorate.

 

Method

1)      Preheat your oven to 160 ºC  for a fan oven,  180ºC or gas mark 4 for standard ovens.

2)      Cream together butter and sugar until smooth and pale, then whisk in the eggs one at a time.

3)      Fold in the flour until smooth then stir in zest, chopped mint and 50ml of Pimm’s.

4)      Put into loaf tin and bake for about 50 mins.

Mix the juice of the orange and lemon with the 100mils of Pimm’s you have left and when cake is baked, prick it over the top and slowly pour the juice on while it is still hot allowing it to soak in.

Allow to cool, decorate and eat.

Welsh Cakes for St Dwynwen’s Day

pice ar y maen heart shaped Welsh cakes st david saint dwynwenIt’s St Dwynwen’s Day tomorrow  so how better to show some love than by baking someone some Welsh cakes, or pice ar y maen. This recipe makes the best Welsh cakes, it’s a traditional recipe which couldn’t be easier to make but which always goes down a treat in my house. I’ve made some to take into work with me tomorrow- along with a ginger cake which I just fancied trying out- because we’re holding a joint celebration with Burns’ Night.

To make Welsh cakes you need a heavy, flat griddle (I use one which belonged to my great-grandmother) though a bakestone or heavy bottomed frying pan will do the same job.

Ingredients for Traditional Welsh Cakes

  • 225g self-raising flour (or 225g plain with half a tsp of baking powder)
  • 110g butter
  • 85g caster sugar
  • A handful of raisins (more or less according to taste)
  • 1 large egg
  • Milk (in case the mixture needs some help binding)
  • Extra butter for greasing

Method

  1. In a mixing bowl, rub together the flour and fat until you have something that looks like crumbs with no lumps of fat showing then stir in the sugar and raisins. Beat your egg then mix it with the dry ingredients to form dough. At this stage, my dough sometimes isn’t doughy enough, so I add in a tiny bit of milk at a time until I can bind it into a dough that I can roll and work with.

2.  Roll your dough out on a floured surface until it’s about half a centimetre thick and then cut circles out using a cutter. Welsh cakes normally have a frilly edge and though I normally use a cutter which is about  4inches in diameter, but for St Dwynwen’s day I’ve used a heart shaped cutter.

3. When your dough is made and your cakes are cut, grease your griddle and fry each cake for two or three minutes on each side until they are golden brown, though they taste fine if they go a little darker. Flipping a circle is easy, but go very gently with a non traditional shape or they will fall apart.

Storage

I like my cakes pretty much straight off the griddle with a cup of tea while they are still hot and buttery, but they will last a few days in an airtight tin. In university, my housemate’s Mamgu made us enough to fill a 5kg cake tin and we lived off those for weeks. They got a little stale but they were fine washed down with tea!

Welsh cakes with St Dwynwen's Valentine's Day Message