Monthly Archives: October 2013

socca lasagne; gluten free, vegan version

Since I stopped eating wheat I miss lasagne.  I haven’t found a wholemeal version of lasagne sheets.  I have a good 100% brown rice or buckwheat substitute for noodles or spaghetti.  A good buckwheat substitute for pasta shapes – they are fusilli, but that’s ok by me.

So I was pondering the idea, and then it came to me… You know how much I am loving socca lately.  I’ve used the basic recipe in sweet and savoury dishes.  It’s served me as a pancake, ‘omelette’, as a bread substitute for sandwiches and a side for soup.  If you want to know a secret: I’ve even used it as a dumpling – but more of that to come soon!

I wondered if it would work as a lasagne…

socca, lasagne, gluten free, pancake,Ok, so it could have been better.  I learned some lessons – like make the pancakes first, don’t be clever and pour the mixture over the filling, or keep the batter thin so you get a thin layer of pancake between your filling.  But yes – it was still good!

lasagne, socca, chickpea, gram flour, mince, gluten free

Socca lasagne

  • Simply make your savoury socca.  50g of chickpea flour and a pinch of bicarbonate of soda should do the trick for 3 mini layers/sheets, use more if you want bigger pancakes.
  • Meanwhile make your filling – you could do a traditional mince beef ragu, a vegetarian/vegan lentil filling, or change it up with a creamy chicken or ham version.
  • Starting with socca on the bottom, pour over half the filling.
  • Repeat and finish with a socca.  Top with a sprinkle of mozarella cheese or vegan alternative.
  • Bake in the oven until the filling is bubbling, and the mozzarella is melted and golden.
  • Serve with a side of green vegetables

If you are gluten free, what do you use for a lasagne noodle alternative?  What is your favourite lasagne filling?


WIAW: Halloween party

what i ate wednesday october breast cancer awareness halloween button

Today is the last October Halloween themed What I ate Wednesday from Peas and Crayons.  And because its Halloween tomorrow today’s theme is the food I served at my Halloween parties at the weekend.

It’s not a full documentation of what I ate, so I hope you will forgive me, but here is a selection of what we ate 🙂

WIAW, What I ate Wednesday, Halloween, party

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Amaranth porridge: vegan, gluten free

amaranth, porridge, cacao, cinnamon,

amaranth porridge

The weather has been terrible here.  We’ve had 80mph winds and heavy rain.

I’ve needed something warm to get me going in the morning.  Most mornings I have porridge, or oats with an egg white omelette on the side.  But when I made my oat scone I decided to have something other than oats.

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Spiced pumpkin cake with Matcha green tea icing

matcha, green tea, cinnamon, ginger, cake, Halloween

Halloween pumpkin cakes

I tempted you over the weekend with my delicious Famous Spiced Pumpkin cake.  I say it’s famous because I’ve made it every year since 2002 when the recipe came in a free magazine.

I remember the first time I made it.  In those days my sister and I went line dancing with my Nanny and Grampy once a month.  We were the ‘stars of the show’ – particularly my younger sister.  You should have seen the way she taught the grannies to gyrate!

We had a bring and share supper, and I tried out this pumpkin cake recipe.  It went down so well!  Everyone kept asking for the recipe.

I kept the magazine, and the rest is history J

I’ve made the cake and taken to work, I’ve made it for my church housegroup, I take it round to friends and now I’ve served it at my party.

Over the years I’ve tried different combinations, I’ve used plain flour, wholemeal flour, rye and spelt flour.  I’ve made it with treacle, golden syrup or a combination of the two. I mix up the spices and quantities  Over the years I’ve tried adding whole eggs or separating and whisking the whites to add separately.  I’ve made cupcakes or one large square cake. I’ve iced it or served plain with a dusting of icing sugar.

pumpkin cake, cinnamon, spiceIt’s a great cake for parties because it gets better with keeping.  After a couple of days the cake goes gooey and moist and the flavours develop.  It’s also great warm and fresh out of the oven.

This weekend I made a couple of cakes; I sliced up one and served the pieces in cupcake cakes, and the other I served whole.  Of course I decorated Halloween style with matcha cheese icing and a dusting of crumbled oreo cookies and some jelly ghosts.

matcha, green tea, pumpkin, cake, iced, Halloween

Halloween pumpkin cake

Halloween Pumpkin Cake

  1. Preheat oven to 180C/350F/gas 4.  Grease and line a 20cm square tin
  2. Sift into a large bowl 250g (9oz) plain flour (or a combination of flours as above), 1tsp bicarbonate of soda, 1½ tsp mixed spice, ½ tsp cinnamon and ½ tsp ground nutmeg  (the recipe calls for 1tsp ground ginger, 1tsp ground mixed spice, and 1tsp ground cinnamon, but I‘ve used many variations)
  3. In a separate bowl, pour 125ml (4floz) boiling water and 125ml (4floz) treacle.
  4. Scoop and cube 150g (5.5 oz) pumpkin.  Place in a saucepan with 1tbsp water, cover and cook until soft, puree and cool.  (keep an eye on the pumpkin when cooking, they can vary in water content and while some cook really quickly, others need topping up with water)
  5. Beat 55g (2oz) softened butter (or cooking margarine) with 175g (6oz) caster sugar until light and fluffy.  Add one large egg (I have done it both by separating the egg, and whisking the white separately, and by just whisking in an egg – haven’t decided which produces a better result)
  6. Fold spoonfuls of the egg mixture into the flour with the treacle/syrup and pumpkin, stir until well combined
  7. Pour into the tin and cook for 45-50 mins until a skewer comes out clean (when I made it in cupcake cases it took 13 mins in Mum’s fan oven 15-20 in mine)
  8. Cool and cut into squares.  Sprinkle with icing sugar (you can be elaborate and do halloween shapes) or ice with matcha green tea icing.
  9. For the matcha green tea icing, add 1g of matcha powder to 125g cream cheese and 250g icing sugar and stir to combine.

Do you have any recipes that you come back to time and again?

An extra hour

For anyone who is UK based this is a public service announcement to remind you to put your clocks back an hour 🙂

What are you going to do with your extra hour?

I’m going to be recovering from two Halloween houseparties.  But when I get up I might be making a batch of these:

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A week of … pumpkin

We don’t celebrate Halloween as much in the UK as over the border.  That may be a sweeping statement and times are changing.  You can tell just by the amount of stuff in the shops at the moment.

I went out and bought a selection of squashes from the Farmer’s Market.

pumpkins, uchiki kuri, squash, kabocha, I know we have a pumpkin, uchiki kuri (or red kuri), kabocha, but I can’t remember what the other one is.  Can anyone tell me?

I’ve got a couple of Halloween parties this weekend so I’ve been preparing some pumpkin goodies, practicing my carving and all manner of pumpkin related things.  So I thought I would show you a selection of pumpkin goodies.

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Polenta quiche; vegetarian, gluten free

I didn’t really know what to call this.  I decided in the end that it is a quiche with a polenta crust.  It could have been a frittata, an eggy pizza, or half a tamale pie though 🙂

quiche, egg, pea, frittata, tamale, pie, gluten free

Especially as I read the Thug Kitchen Breakfast Tamale Pie while I ate my lunch.  I promise I made mine before I read the blog!

The great thing about using the polenta crust is that it is gluten free, and it is quick and easy to make the dough.

I flavoured my polenta crust with nutritional yeast, and filled it with peas and mozzarella before coating with the egg.

You could, of course, fill the quiche with whatever you choose.  My sister’s favourite quiche was tuna and sweetcorn.  Or, cheese and onion is a firm favourite.

quiche, polenta, bite, gluten free

apologies for the nasty nail varnish

I was out at an 80s night at the weekend, I painted my nails but we haven’t unpacked my nail varnish remover yet – sorry.

Polenta Quiche
Serves 1

  • 40g polenta
  • 10g nutritional yeast
  • 1 medium egg
  • 65g egg white
  • 50g frozen peas
  • 25g low fat mozzarella
  1. Combine the polenta and nutritional yeast and cook according to the packet instructions.
  2. Pour into round waterproof pan (I used a loose bottomed pan and ended up with egg in my oven – yay!)
  3. Place in an oven at 190C for 20-25 minutes until set and starting to go crispy on top
  4. Add your vegetables – I used frozen peas but you could use peppers, carrots, beans – anything you happen to have really
  5. Beat the egg and egg white and pour over the vegetables, top with the shredded mozarella and bake in the oven for 20 minutes or until the egg is set and the cheese is going golden.
  6. Slice and serve wedges hot or cold with a salad

What is your favourite quiche filling?  If you are a vegan, what would you use to replace the egg?

Boozy pumpkin chelsea buns

rum, pumpkin, chelsea bun, cinnamon bun, bun,

My colleague recently came back from holiday and was telling me about these amazing Chelsea buns that she had.  Full of fruit with a drizzle of icing.  If you follow my facebook page you might have seen that I was in a dilemma whether to use my last yeast for making Chelsea buns or pretzels.

Well, in the end the Chelsea buns won out.

I decided to give them a twist by putting some roasted pumpkin in the filling, and adding some spiced rum to make them extra decadent.

It was the first effort baking in my new oven. I don’t think it gets so hot as my last oven though – things seem to take a bit longer.  I need to get an oven thermometer to give it a try.

I set aside a full day to get these done.  I made the dough in the morning, and then went out while it proved for the first time.  I enjoyed giving the dough a good knead until it went from sticky, wet and lumpy to a smooth dough.

cheslea, dough, bun, proving


The perspective is a bit off so you can’t really see the difference in size.  The kitchen was quite warm as I had been using the oven in the morning, so I did get some rise.  I’m not sure if it rose enough though.

I let the fruit soak in the rum and sugar while the dough proved.  Then I knocked back the dough and rolled it out to cover it in a layer of butter and the fruit.

filling, chelsea, bun, raisin, rum, cherry

chelsea bun filling

I rolled it up – my second favourite part after the kneading. Sliced and placed the buns in a cake tin for the second proving.

chelsea bun, proving,

second proving

I think this is where it cake unstuck, you can see that they have risen a little, but I think the kitchen had cooled down and I didn’t get enough rise out of them the second time.  They were nice, but not as good as the perfectionist in me would have liked.

They still went down a treat at work though 🙂

Boozy Pumpkin Chelsea Buns

  • 500g white bread flour
  • 100ml semi skimmed milk
  • 40g unsalted butter
  • 7g fast action yeast
  • 1 medium egg
  • 50g glace cherries
  • 75g sultanas
  • 2tbsp spiced rum (optional)
  • 40g soft brown sugar
  • 1 tsp cinnamon
  • 50g cooked pumpkin flesh
  1. Combine the bread flour with the yeast.  Make a well in the centre of the ingredients.
  2. Gently heat the milk and half the butter until melted.  Allow to cool to lukewarm.
  3. Beat the egg into the milk mixture.  Pour into the flour.
  4. Vigorously combine.  If the mixture won’t come together (mine wouldn’t) add more liquid, I added a bit more milk and some warm water. You want it all to come together to produce a soft dough.  I would err on the side of sticky over too dry.
  5. Knead the dough on a floured surface for 5 minutes until the dough is smooth and no longer sticky.
  6. Place the dough in a clean, oiled bowl and cover loosely with oiled cling film. Leave in a warm place for 1 hour until the dough has doubled in size.
  7. Meanwhile combine the pumpkin, sultanas, cinnamon, rum, and brown sugar and leave to one side.
  8. Once the dough has risen, knock it back and roll out on a lightly floured surface to a rectangle 1/2 cm thick.
  9. Melt the remaining butter and brush over the dough.  Spread the filling over the surface and roll up tightly from the long edge.
  10. Cut into 8 pieces and place in a circular pan.  Cover with a tea towel and leave in a warm place for 45 minutes to allow for a second rise.
  11. Cook in an oven preaheated to 190C for 20-25 minutes until golden and risen.
  12. Remove from the oven and leave to cool.  Drizzle with honey or royal icing.

What would your favourite filling be in your ideal Chelsea bun?

“The squirrels …

“The squirrels are going nuts”

Did that really come out of my mouth no pun intended???

WIAW: keeping busy

what i ate wednesday october breast cancer awareness halloween button

Thank you to Jenn for hosting again this week.

The theme for this weeks What I Ate Wednesday is what I ate on a busy day.  Yep, this is a sample of my eats on one of my days off last week. It just happens that it was a vegetarian day, and there are vegan and gluten free options if that floats your boat.

But first I’ll start with a spooky snack.

spooky snack, Halloween, WIAW, avocado, tuna

spooky snack

I was inspired by Peas and Crayons last week to make this avocado face on pumpernickel bread with tinned tuna for hair.  So cute.  I could have added sriracha or ketchup blood 🙂

I used the pumpernickel bread I brought back from Germany.  It needed using, but as I try to avoid gluten I’ve been keeping it.  It will feature again on this blog – it was a different day though.

WIAW, breakfast, socca, egg, tomatoI was up early (as ever) so I made myself a chickpea pancake with gram flour, and topped it with a poached egg, and cooked tomatoes on the side.  Served with my peppermint and liquorice cocoa and a glass of water. This started my day right!

I then walked over to the flat – about 1 mile away – to do some cleaning.  Hoovering, scrubbing etc awaited me.

I was booked into a morning combat class so I had a protein ‘mocha’ as I walked to the gym.

WIAW, snack, mocha, protein, coffee, chocolateI wondered what would happen if I made my usual protein shake with filter coffee instead of water.  I made a cafetiere of filter coffee in the morning, cooled it and separated into portions.  I chose a chocolate sachet so it would create a mocha. It was really good, and definitely woke me up before my class.

After combat, I mooched around town getting a few bits and pieces, and then went home for lunch.

soup, sandwich, lunch, bean, squash, cottage cheeseI shared this lunch as part of my Week of post.  The soup was made with cannellini beans, uchiki kuri squash and onion, and the sandwich was pumpernickel bread, cottage cheese with a drizzle of tahini paste and slices of beetroot.

Germany, pumpernickelI used to enjoy rye bread, so when I saw this little packed of authentic pumpernickel in Germany I just had to buy it.  But because I don’t eat gluten I have been putting off eating it.  How did I feel?  As a one off I was ok – but as you saw earlier I had a slice for a snack the next day, and another couple of slices the day after that.  I’ve kept away from the gluten since.  Some people are ok with Rye and other glutens, but have a problem with wheat gluten.  I’m not sure how much of it is psychosomatic with me…?

Ben came home from Uni so we went shopping in the afternoon for some bits and pieces for the house.  We picked out a new (bigger) bed and a new sofa as ours has been on borrowed time for a while now.

I had a yoga class in the evening so I made a snack of yogurt, banana and a sprinkle of oats to take with us.

WIAW, yogurt, yoghurt, snack, bananaCan you tell I’m taking the photo in the car?

After yoga it was late so I made a quick stir fry

WIAW, stir fry, tofu, noodlesI served previously frozen tofu (it makes it firmer) with carrots, peas and sliced red pepper over buckwheat noodles, with a sauce made from peanut butter and tamari sauce.  Quick and yummy!

So that kept me going all day.  What do you have to keep you going when you have a busy day ahead?