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Dairy-Free Cream Tea…

Being dairy-free is a pain in the arse at the best of times (because cheese), especially if you love cake (and cheese). Unfortunately, most cheese alternatives seem pretty awful (I’m sure they’re not as bad as I’m imagining, but cashew cheese just doesn’t do it for me on a theoretical level…I’m not going to waste my time making it just to find out that it is, in fact, terrible) but DF baked goods can be just as good as their buttery, milky counterparts. In fact, most cakes you buy from shops are made with margarine or oil, but they invariably have milk based stabilisers or use soya products (and George is intolerant to them too).

We’ve recently become the proud owners of a kitchen mixer, so I decided to start some baking experiments. I have an awful lot of weight to lose, but I like to bake so sod it. I’m going to bake!

One of the things I’ve been missing the most is cream teas, so this is where I started!…

THE CREAM…

You might be thinking that a “cream” tea is pretty hard to do without cream, yes? Well no, not really…not when there’s such a thing as coconut milk (and therefore, coconut cream).

I’m not talking about the “coconut milk drink” that you can buy to put in tea/over cereal here, I’m talking about the canned stuff that settles into two layers (cream and water) if you leave it to stand. I got mine from Aldi because it’s quite inexpensive and I already knew it settles into two layers.

Some websites suggest that you chill your cans of coconut milk overnight but I hadn’t realised this til 5 minutes before I wanted to make it. Whoops.

First I opened two cans and scooped out the cream…

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…saving the water (and a few splotches of cream) for porridge (oats and coconut water are supposed to be great for breastfeeding mothers to increase milk supply).

I added two tablespoons of sifted icing sugar and about a tsp of vanilla extract before beating it with the mixer’s whisk attachment.

I had visions of it turning into softly peaking clouds of cream, but no…it just crumbled up and looked like cottage cheese in the bowl. Sad face.

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I switched to the beater attachment and had a little more luck, but it started to separate a bit and I now had semi-fluffy clouds amidst an off-white puddle. Nice.

On the verge of admitting defeat, I popped the bowl into the fridge to chill it all while I regrouped and thought about making scones.

DAIRY-FREE SCONES…

I found a recipe that called for:

250g plain flour
40g caster sugar
2tsp baking powder
45g butter
1 medium egg (beaten)
75ml whole milk
100g sultanas

…and I substituted Tesco baking fat in place of butter and Koko Dairy-Free instead of the cow’s milk. I always have Koko around because I drink it in tea, but I went with it (over other type of alt milks that I have) because my friend, Sarah (who does lots of vegan cooking) says that, in her experience, it behaves similarly to cow’s milk in cooking and baking.

I put all the dry ingredients in the mixing bowl along with the (cold and cubed) baking fat before trying to mix it.

I got flour everywhere.

I soon gave up and rubbed the fat in with my fingers like I should have done to start with, chiding myself for being lazy.

Then I added the sultanas, egg and milk, beat it until it turned to dough, rolled it out and cut it into squares before baking at 220°c. The recipe said to bake for 15-20 minutes but after 12 I noticed that they were burning (golden brown scones with black sultanas)…it was then I realised that the temperature was for regular ovens and not fan assisted. Whoops.

They were also a little dry and crumbly…possibly because the omission of full fat milk meant that they were lacking in fat content. Next time I make them I’ll use a little more baking fat and a drop more “milk”. I’ll also only cook them at about 200° to try and avoid the charcoal-tanas.

I then left them – in all their black-studded and crumbly glory – to cool…

BACK TO THE CREAM…

I got the cream back out of the fridge (it had hardened off now) and set about whipping the life out of it with the beater. Even though the beater had worked the first time I just got cottage cheese again (no matter how long or fast I had the mixer working). In frustration I switched back to the whisk head, just to see what would happen, and BOOM! Whipped cream. Ish.

It took a while and it was still a little separated, but I poured the watery stuff into another bowl (again, saved for porridge) and was left with something that didn’t look too dissimilar to whipped cream…and it tasted bloody fantastic!

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It was sweet and rich with a hint of vanilla and it was AMAZING with raspberry jam, even though the scones were exceedingly crappy.

It was a cream tea!

I haven’t had anything even vaguely like clotted cream in over 10 weeks so I wasn’t sure if my taste buds were lying to me, but my sister (who had been all “I’ll just have a small scone” skeptical-face about it) asked for a second helping, and Luke (who had been all “I’m not eating that” mocking-face) was lured into joining us. They both agreed that coconut cream is a lovely alternative to clotted cream, and that it more than made up for the rubbish quality of my scones.

Note…I stored the leftover cream in the fridge overnight and it hardened off quite a bit. I had scones again yesterday and had to scrape the cream and kind of modge it onto the scone. It still tasted just as good but it wasn’t as spreadable as it had been the day before.

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…apparently it softens up after being re-whipped but I wasn’t going to get the mixer out for just that so I settled for modging.

RESULT!…

Dairy-free scones were NOT a win on this occasion, but with a bit of tweaking (or a better recipe) I’m sure that they could be great. I’d like to have a go at an egg-free version too so that I can see if a vegan cream tea is within my capabilities.

Whipped coconut cream TASTED great, but was a bit of a challenge to make. I think I need to work on this part too.

…my next challenge is going to be a dairy-free chocolate torte. I’m planning on using amaretti biscuits for the base, so it’s going to be quite an involved make! Watch this space.

 
 

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My Cornmeal Porridge Recipe…

Luke and I like to trawl the supermarket looking for “interesting” things. Being a huge fan of Caribbean food (we both are), and a massive lover of porridge, I recently picked a pot of this up from Tesco…

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…and I LOVED it. It’s amazing.

It’s also pretty expensive to eat on a day to day basis when you consider that you can get 1.5kg of cornmeal for £1.79 from the same aisle in Tesco. When I realised this, I put back the 6 pots of ready made porridge that I’d piled into our trolley, picked up the plain cornmeal and then started Googling recipes like mad.

There’s a lot of recipes to choose from, and a few different ways to prepare it. I tried a couple and ended up disliking them (not stodgy enough) and finding most of them too fraught with difficulty (adding cold cornmeal paste to hot liquid is just asking for lumpy porridge).

In the end I decided to follow my instincts and devised my own recipe, which turned out to be better than the Pronto Pot (even if I do say so myself)…and I wanted to share it with you! This makes enough for two bowls. You could say it makes enough for two people but I love it so much that I always eat it all to myself…

You will need:-

1/2 cup of cornmeal
1/2 cup of water
2 cups of milk
1/4 cup of condensed milk
1 tsp vanilla extract
Cinnamon (about 1/2 tsp according to taste)
Nutmeg (a small sprinkle)

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To make it you…

mix the cornmeal with the water in a small bowl to make a smooth paste

set the milk on the stove in a pan and stir in the cornmeal paste (I used cows milk but I’m sure coconut or almond milk would make a delicious alternative)

bring to the boil, stirring all the time

reduce the heat and add the condensed milk, vanilla, cinnamon and nutmeg

simmer for 5 minutes whilst stir stir stiring!

It will thicken on the hob, and then get even thicker as it cools.

And enjoy!!

Note:- It almost seems a shame to open a whole can of condensed milk just to use a 1/4 cup of it, but don’t be tempted to leave it out – it is VERY important to achieve the right taste. I omitted it entirely in my first attempt and used maple syrup to sweeten instead. It was not right at all.

My top tip is to make yourself a luxurious coffee with the condensed milk…maybe have a go at a Guinness Punch (it’s like a fizzy milkshake of joy) and then freeze the rest of the milk in an ice cube tray for later use in coffee/more cornmeal porridge. It doesn’t freeze hard (mine hasn’t anyway) but you can scoop it out of the tray very easily with a tiny teaspoon or a knife.

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Posted by on October 25, 2015 in Food, Life

 

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Camping Food – Chilli…

The awesome thing about something like chilli is that you can prepare it all while your camping and cook it (and rice) on your little two-burner stove, or you can cook it at home and take it with you for an instant meal. Even more awesome than that?…you can freeze it so it keeps your fridge/coolbox cold, and it’ll be defrosted after a day or so.

This is my recipe for chilli con carne. It’s pretty good…even if I do say so myself.

You will need…

– A pretty big cooking pot
– 500g minced beef/lamb
– 1 or 2 crushed and chopped garlic cloves
– 1 heaped tsp of cumin powder
– 1 heaped tsp of coriander powder
– 1 heaped tsp of paprika
– 1/2 tsp of cayenne pepper
– 3 pickled green chillies, chopped (seeds and all)
– 1/2 teaspoon of chopped red chillies (I use Really Lazy Chilies)
– a chopped onion
– two chopped bell peppers (I use red and yellow, for colour as well as taste)
– a beef stock cube dissolved in about 200ml of boiling water
– 1 tbsp of tomato puree
– can of chopped tomatoes, drained
– can of beans (kidney, or haricot, or butterbeans, or bean salad…I use mixed)
– salt and pepper
– juice of half a lime (ish…we use the other half of the lime to do tequila shots while waiting for the chilli to cook. Waste not, want not!)
– coriander leaves to garnish

You’ll also need…something to serve it with, like rice, bread, tortilla chips, potatoes, BBQed hotdogs (chilli dogs…mmmmm), or anything else you can think of…and some sour cream…and guacamole if you want…

To cook…(it’s so easy…)

– fry the garlic, onions, peppers and chillies until they’re soft…
– add meat and spices then fry until the meat has browned…
– stir in stock,  tomatoes, beans and tomato puree…
– season with salt and pepper, and add lime juice to taste…
– simmer until the stock has reduced down…the longer the better!
– sprinkle with coriander leaves and plonk the pot on the table for everyone to help themselves.

You could serve salsa on the side too, but Pico de Gallo is also awesome…and very easy to make…

Deseed and finely chop three or four tomatoes, and mix with a chopped red onion and some finely chopped jalapenos (I use about three or four slices of the pickled kind). Add a handful of torn/chopped coriander leaves and season with salt, pepper and lime juice to taste…et voila!

 
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Posted by on November 1, 2012 in Camping, Food

 

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