Can you make a mince pie using Pease Pudding Pastry?

A comment from Nicola, who had found my previous post on Pease Pudding Pastry, has inspired an experiment today. She asked if I had tried make a sweet version to make mince pies.

Now a sweet version is not a problem. The problem really lies in the consistency of the pastry which can make a great crust but as it is couldn’t be guaranteed to make a tart case that can be lifted whole from a mould.

I had thought on this issue previously and had considered adding gram flour to form up the mix. However I had not tried this yet but a recent investment in a bag of gram flour made this an option to try today.

The benefit of gram flour is that is gluten free although it does have a calorific hit to take.

Today I have tried an experimental bake with standard pease pudding pastry and with a batch with gram flour added. I will repeat the main recipe at the end and for now will focus on the success or otherwise of each option.

For ease I made a savoury quiche filling using eggs, cottage cheese, ham and chilli flakes.

Half the tray (6 tarts) were made using with the regular mix and half with gram flour so that both sets were baked under the same conditions.

Both batches looked similar when they came out of the oven.the four on the right and the lower two on the middle row used the standard mix. However lifting them out quickly showed that the batch with gram flour included could be lifted more easily and retained their shape completely.

These ones used the regular recipe and as you can see from the images the base has crumbled and fallen apart when lifted.

The batch that used gram flour lifted with a little teasing and made a tart that had a firm base and top and worked very well. I would cook them for longer next time just to firm up the base even further.

I will try again in the coming week to perfect the timing and to make a sweet version but for now clearly this is a great addition to the available menu. I will also try chilling the mix as you would with regular pastry

The Recipe:

  • 1 tin of pease pudding (410g)
  • 1 egg
  • 75g of gram flour

Mix the pease pudding and egg into a smooth mix and then stir in the gram flour until a pastry ball has been made.

Spray the muffin tin with fri-light oil.

Without chilling shape a lump of dough into a ball and then flatten into a patty.

Gently press the pastry into a mould until there is a thin and even covering over the area. Make sure it is thick enough so that the dark of the tin cannot be seen through it but not too thick leaving no room for filling.

Fill each base with filling and then repeat the exercise with a smaller amount of dough to create a top, gently pushing it against the filling and edges of the tart.

Bake in a medium oven (Gas mark 6/7 180-200c) until golden brown on top with browning edges.

Put on a wire rack to cool and then gently lift each tart from the tin. You may have to use a knife to gently loosen the edges.

If you have a try and perfect the recipe please share you success here for others to see.

Tom Collins – a cocktail that won’t break the calorie bank.

I had the pleasure of a Zoom based gin master class with the Bombay Sapphire team and in this I discovered a drink called a Tom Collins.

This is a proper cocktail that can be no syns up to 6 syns (for those SW followers like me). To have no syns you would need to use no alcoholic gin and sweetener / no sugar syrups but this recipe will use gin (but refer to alternatives)

You can personalise your drink though the choice of fruit you use, what type of sweetened substance you choose (even honey or posh cordial can be used). You can also add spices like cinnamon and fennel seeds. This drink can be different every time you make it.

Ingredients:

  • 35 ml gin (replace for no-alcohol gin if you wish)
  • Juice of 1/2 lemon, 30-50ml (or lime/pink grapefruit)
  • 2 tsps of caster sugar/flavoured syrups (including sugar free)/honey/posh cordial
  • Soft fruit of you choice
  • 100ml chilled soda water
  • Lots of ice

Method:

2 tsps of sugar /sweetener/flavoured/syrup/honey/posh cordial.
Add 50ml of citric juice (approx half a lemon). You can also lime, pink grapefruit etc. Stir the mix throughly.
Add 35ml of gin. You can also use no-alcohol gin. And again stir throughly you can also add spices like cinnamon and fennel seeds as well as fresh herbs like mint, basil and rosemary.
Add your soft fruit of choice.
Crush the fruit and then stir the mix thoroughly.
Fill the glass with glass ice until sitting above the edge of the glass. Don’t be timid at this point.
Fill the glass with soda water. Pouring it down the spiralled spoon keeps the fizz in your drink better but is not essential.
Stir thoroughly, add a slice and enjoy.

Baked Oats – The Gift That Keeps on Giving

Baked oats are proving to be a very versatile addition to a varied and healthy menu. Today’s version is baked oats breakfast waffles. However this could equally be a dessert or a savoury option with additions of things like cheese/ham and topped with sautéed vegetables.

These ones are banana waffles. This gives you a naturally sweet waffle with no need for sugar or syrup. I did sweeten the yoghurt with a tsp of sweetener and of course piled on fresh fruit to finish off. If you regime allows feel free to add some maple syrup or other sauces (within moderation).

You could use other chopped or grated fruit as an alternative to bananas. I wouldn’t use whole fruit, even is small like blueberries as the waffles are thinner than a baked oats muffin and this might weaken the structure,

The nice waffle brown surface of these is from the bottom of the mould. The cooked top colour will be lighter than this.

I am repeating the recipe to save you scrolling through other posts. The only additional equipment was a silicon waffle mould. As an aside the yoghurt is my homemade yoghurt made from skimmed milk.

Ingredients (to serve 1)

  • 40g porridge oats
  • 1 egg
  • 100g fat free yoghurt
  • 1 banana (chopped into small pieces)

Method:

  • Mix together the yoghurt, oats and egg into an even mix.
  • Stir in the chopped bananas.
  • Spoon into the waffle mould.
  • Put onto a baking tray and into an oven at about gas Mark 6 (180C).
  • Bake for 20 minutes or until golden brown.
  • Remove from the oven and gently tease the edges of the mould loose.
  • Turn upside down onto a plate and gently lift the mould allowing the wedges to drop down.
  • Add yoghurt and fruit on top.

Variety is the spice of life, Bacon and Cheese Baked Oats.

Effectively losing weight has to come with changes and these changes must be manageable. Without these changes sustained weight loss is a fantasy.

Making changes is not however, a deficit option or a negative option. I am a firm believer in finding ways to eat what you like (this is where core comfort comes from) , usually by cooking it in a different way.

This still allows for the adventurous to experiment with the completely new as well, I am one of those but today’s post is a new version of an old favourite.

I have shared recipes for baked oats in the past, with more recent versions being cooked in muffin cases which has become my new norm. However my food loving self also yearns for old favourites like croissant stuffed with bacon and cheese.

If we are truly honest the real flavour of this treat comes from the cheese and the bacon, the croissant is just the transport device to your stomach. This recipe provides a better transport device for the same flavours which sits well in a more balance food menu. It also provides an easy savoury version of baked oats.

Cheese and Bacon Baked Oats Muffins

Ingredients:

  • 2 slices of chopped back bacon (all fat removed)
  • 30g cheddar cheese, grated
  • 40g porridge oats
  • 100-150ml thick 0% pain yoghurt
  • 1 egg

Method

  • Cook the bacon pieces in a non-stick pan using fri-light. Ideally cook until they have browned a bit, this improves the flavour. Put to one side to cool a little.
  • Mix together all the other ingredients and season with a little black pepper.
  • Stir in the bacon.
  • Spoon the mix into two silicon muffin cases.
  • Put on a baking tray in an oven (Gas Mark 6 / 180 degrees Celsius
  • Cook for twenty minutes or until golden brown on top and springy when tapped.
  • Eat hot ideally but also good cold.

Why not try your own versions of baked oats. I have thought I might try adding a tsp of ketchup or HP sauce to the middle of each (or homemade BBQ sauce). Why not cook onions with the bacon or chopped tomatoes and/or mushrooms.

Your food is as interesting as you want to make it but none of us gain weight because we don’t like food, we are either food lovers or comfort eaters (or both). When food is boring or the same, you don’t get comfort or enjoyment and then you look for the alternatives (the snacks and nibbles that really do the damage).

Too busy to cook in the morning or not a breakfast person?

I often observe that for some the challenge of meal management is made much harder by busy working lives.

I don’t work any more but when I was working my eating habits were dreadful. I rarely had breakfast, would snack on the rubbish available in the staff room and grabbed food on the way home (even if an evening meal was the norm).

There are great breakfast options that can be prepared before hand, like overnight oats, but if you are the grazer and snacker that I was these might not fit the bill.

I have been playing around with recipes for baked oats and have turned it into a muffin like breakfast and the great news is that one portion of baked oats will make two large muffins which means you can take a couple of pre-made muffins to work and graze on them in the morning if that is your way. The ones in the images are apple muffins.

Ingredients (for one portion / 2 muffins):

  • 40g oats
  • 2 eggs
  • 150g thick Greek yoghurt (no fat)
  • 2 tsps of sweetener (if you have a sweet-tooth like me)
  • 100g of fresh fruit (chopped apple, chopped banana, blueberries, raspberries, chopped strawberries even fruit purée if you allow for the concentrated sugar).
  • Add any spice that might go with the fruit such as cinnamon if you like that flavour.
  • Instead of fruit you could include a small quantity of dark chocolate drops, nuts etc if your food plan allows).

Method:

  • Mix together all the ingredients (apart from the fruit) in a bowl until a smooth mix.
  • Stir in your fruit.
  • Spoon into muffin cases. Silicone ones are really good here and reusable.
  • Bake in the oven for 20- 30 minutes (Gas Mark 6/180 degrees Celsius) or until golden brown or dark brown (depending on your taste).
  • Eat when warm or cool and store.
  • If you want to plan ahead you can make a bigger batch and make several days worth for an easier week all round.

What do with a courgette (zucchini for those from across the pond and some bits of Europe)?

My Slimming World consultant set us all the challenge of sharing our best recipes using courgette.

Now I use Courgette regularly but must be honest and say I do tend to use it in the same old ways and my sons certainly spurn it when offered. It was clearly time to use any generic search engine ( yes, I know , it was Google. What can I say?) to find some more creative uses.

Many if the options were on a theme of grilled, kebabs etc. There were some interesting stuffed options but I finally settled on a fritter option.

Credit should always be given to the source, even with a little adaptation on my part. This came from Host The Toast – A Kitchen Kapers Blog.

Now before we get into the details a little detail of what the making really involved. Firstly you do need some time so this is not one for an evening after a busy day at work. However it can all be prepared before hand and can be reheated.

My youngest son, Reuben, came in mid cook to find out what was for tea. He is quite Yorkshire in his taste and doesn’t like anything too new-fangled and turned his nose up at the thought of vegetarian pulled chicken. I did persuade him to try a spoonful and the initial snarl became “That’s alright actually’ and so defrosting chicken was returned to the fridge and my life became a little easier.

He returned later responding to the very loud smoke detector alarm that insists on going off even when windows are open, extractor fan is on and the front door is open but I dare cook something that produces a little cloud. On hearing the list of ingredients he curled his lip, but then followed this with ‘Well what do they taste like?’ After a quick sample however, he decided he liked them although he would prefer more cheese.

If a truculent 18 year old can get over the list of ingredients why not give this a go.

So here we go with Courgette, Spinach and Feta Fritters with Pulled Jerk Vegtarian Chicken and Yoghurt (with some extra bits).

Fritter Ingredients:

  • 2 courgettes (grated)
  • 3 handfuls of spinach (chopped).
  • A small pile of Basil (chopped finely)
  • Another small pile, Dill this time (chopped finely)
  • And there is another pile, Mint this time (chopped finely)
  • 3 spring onions (chopped finely)
  • 2 cloves garlic (finely chopped/crushed).
  • 90g feta cheese (crumbled)
  • 3 eggs (beaten)
  • 75g of plain flour
  • 1/2 tsp baking powder
  • Seasoning to your taste
  • Low calorie spray oil for cooking

Vegetarian Pulled Jerk Chicken Ingredients

  • 300g Linda McCartney Vegetarian Pulled Chicken
  • One red pepper (sliced)
  • One red onion (halved and sliced)
  • One large red chilli (deseeded and sliced)
  • 400ml Passata
  • A spoof he of tomato purée
  • A good sprinkling of jerk seasoning (for your taste buds)
  • Low calorie spray oil for cooking

Lazy Tzatziki Ingredients:

  • No fat natural or Greek yoghurt (half fill a small bowl)
  • Mint (tsp dried or handful fresh chopped finely )
  • Lemon juice (a good glug to your taste)
  • Low calorie garlic spray oil

Method:

  • Put the grated courgette in a sieve, sprinkle with salt and leave for ten minutes.
  • Hand squeeze the courgette over a bowl to get rid of as much water as possible.
  • Mix together all the ‘leaves’, spring onions , garlic and courgette.
  • Add the crumbled feta and mix in well.
  • Stir in the beaten egg.
  • Add flour and baking powder, stirring small sprinkles at a time.
  • Put to one side.

Making the Tzatziki. This should have included cucumber, garlic and olive oil etc but I hit a lazy point here, Therefore I haven’t used cucumber and I replaced garlic and olive oil with a few squirts of low calorie garlic oil spray. You can off course choose to use real garlic and olive oil as well as the cucumber.

  • Mix all the ingredients together.
  • Put in the fridge to chill.

Now it’s time to make the Jerk Chicken.

  • Spray a large frying pan or wok with your low calorie spray oil of choice and cook until softened.
  • Add the vegetarian pulled chicken (still frozen) and stir in, also until softened.
  • Sprinkle on the jerk seasoning stir in.
  • Add the sliced peppers and cook until starting to soften.
  • Stir in the Passata and tomato purée , cook for twenty minutes and then turn down to a low heat to simmer.
  • Season to your taste.

Fritter Cooking Time.

  • Spray a large frying pan with spray oil.
  • Dollop 3 large spoonfuls to make three Fritters.
  • Cook for two or three minutes on each side.
  • Remove to a warm dish and then cook another batch of three.
  • Repeat until the mix is finished.

Why not eat the chicken skin, it tastes sooo good!?

The answer to the question is very personal but should be informed. Managing weight loss long term is about making informed choices and understanding the consequences of a choice.

If chicken skin is a red line for you, a price too far, then go for it but also identify what you are willing to give up to balance it out. I personally love cooked chicken skin but not enough to make it my red line. I would rather have a nice pudding, a gin and tonic or the odd curly wurly.

However I have always wondered what was so bad about chicken skin. It is not like other meats where you can clearly see the fat and can cut it off before or after cooking. Despite this for the last three years I have always removed the skin, usually from chicken as I have done with the thighs in this picture.

The answer was recently shown to me after I followed a tip from my aunt, cooking the chicken thigh skins in the oven making a ‘treat’ for my dog. What was revealed after cooking made me realise that chicken skin would never been something I wanted so much that I was happy to consume the fat that comes with it.

When baked in the oven you get great the crispy skins you would expect but in the tray below is left a pool of fat. Now knowing there is still a layer of fat left on the still shiny skins you can see that even the skins , once cooked, carry their own fat count and must be a periodic treat for the dog rather than a regular one.

Even with some left on the skins look what was left behind and would have been part of your carefully planned meal. If you are watching your cholesterol, let alone trying to lose weight, is this a treat too far?

Would you drink this?

Perfected light Limoncello Tiramisu.

My previous post included a recipe for full fat and a lighter version of Limoncello Tiramisu. I have adjusted the recipe a little to make it even lighter but tastes just as good. For those doing SW it is now down to six syns per portion and feels like a full fat dessert.

You will need to refer to the main recipe shown in the desserts section but use these specific quantity changes for a two person portion. I also made the mistake of listing icing sugar in the recipe which I have amended to caster sugar (with a tusk tusk from Maggie at this point).

  • 8 sponge fingers
  • 20ml Limincello mixed with 20ml water (decant from a larger quantity mix if you are making a full fat version as well).
  • 1 tbsp sweetener (granulated sugar) mixed with quark or no fat Fromage Frais.

The picture shows my two person portion in the smaller dish with a full fat version for everyone else.

Limoncello Tiramisu

I had a full on taste of this recently and then adapted the recipe for a more waistline friendly version and I can honestly say that if you hadn’t had the full on version you would be more than happy with the adapted one. However both are delicious and nothing like normal tiramisu. I forgot to photograph it so this picture is slightly different to the recipe below.

I made no attempt to replace the limoncello or the sponge fingers so a 100g portion comes out at 8 syns for those of you who are SW. This is 200 kc if that helps.

I am going to include the full on recipe and the adaptations next to it so that you can make both versions if you need/want. The recipe is also for a 6 portion version in one dish. You could probably reduced the hit even further if you make a portion in a glass and then just reduce the number of sponge fingers.

Ingredients:

  • 2 eggs
  • 85g caster sugar (swap for 4 tbsp sweetener)
  • 26Og marscapone cheese (swap for quark)
  • 2 punnets strawberries
  • 120ml Limoncello
  • 120ml cold water
  • 200g savoiardi cookies ( swap for sponge fingers x 20)

Method:

  • Put eggs and sweetener in a bowl and whisk until thick and creamy (pale yellow).
  • Fold in quark.
  • Hull and dice half the strawberries, halve they remaining strawberries.
  • Combine water and limoncello in a bowl and dip sponge fingers in one at a time and lay half across serving dish.
  • Cover with half the quark mix.
  • Lay over the diced strawberries.
  • Lay over remaining sponge fingers and quark.
  • Decorate with the remaining strawberries.
  • Chill in the fridge.

Home made Rhubarb Cordial – Dead Easy

If, like us, you have a rhubarb plant growing like mad at the moment you will be looking for things to do with it. This is an adapted BBC Food recipe for cordial that comes in at 1/2 a Syn per 25ml and that is rounded up. Best of all it takes no more than 30 minutes to make.

Use for a soft drink treat or maybe with gin for a Rhubarb G and T.

The only thing you will need that you might not have in is something like muslin to filter it through. I used the filter from my yoghurt maker.

Ingredients:

  • 400g chopped rhubarb
  • 15 tbsp sweetener
  • Juice and zest of one orange
  • Juice and zest of one lemon
  • 1cm on fresh ginger sliced
  • 300ml water

Method:

  • Add all the ingredients to a large saucepan.
  • Cook over a medium heat until the rhubarb is falling apart.
  • Strain through a sieve lined with muslin (or an alternative).
  • Pour into sterilised jars/pots.
  • Chill.

This should make at least 600ml of cordial (24 portions) and I have kept the cooked rhubarb to use on a dessert (minus ginger pieces).