When it comes to baking, less is often more.
When you’re whipping up a tasty little something, you can add chocolate or cream or icing or cinnamon or caramel or more cream ’til the cows come home, and sure, it’ll be some sort of delicious sensory overload in the end (maybe) – but the true test of a good baker is making something with simple ingredients that ends up being perfection. Lemon drizzle cake is that thing.
The origins of this cake aren’t clear, although it is often referred to as a French tea time favourite (of course it is; the French have wonderful taste in desserts) and us Brits absolutely adore it too. The combination of the sweet sugar and the tart lemon within the fluffy, light sponge is the very definition of subtlety, and there’s nothing better to enjoy on a light afternoon with a good bit of gossip from a friend.
You may have noticed that I’ve been on something of a soba noodle kick lately. This is because I’ve suddenly found a place to buy them in Panama, and this is a huge deal for me; I LOVE soba noodles. Not only are they ridiculously healthy for you, they’re also ridiculously tasty and ridiculously easy to cook.
Sometimes, you need something with a hell of a lot of energy. Sometimes, it’s because you’re planning to hike up Ben Lomond (even if rain and fog stops you halfway up and you end up going for a pint and some chips). Sometimes, you need it to be super delicious too.
For those times, you need these No-Bake Raspberry Coconut Energy Bars. They’re frozen, meaning that they’re a nice kick of cold when you’re hot from hiking, and it also means that they’re super easy to make as you don’t need to do any baking or any cooking at all.
I’ve been in love with soba noodles since the first time I had them in Toronto several years ago. Any Torontonians that frequent the incredible Fresh restaurant know the pure joy of getting one of their Buddha Bowls on top of soba noodles, but the truth is that they are far more versatile than that.
Soba noodles are made from buckwheat, which as well as being fantastic for you is very easy to cook. Dried soba noodles take just a couple of minutes to cook in boiling water, meaning that they’re a great inclusion for a quick lunch or dinner like this one. There’s nothing I love more than quickly whipping together something stunning, because it makes people think you’re the culinary version of Mary Poppins (I am English, after all).
As you might know if you’re a regular reader of this website, I’ve spent the past 3 months travelling around the UK, my home country, and the rest of Europe. As of today, I’m back!
It’s been a great summer – not least of all for the food. I’d defy anyone to say that the UK isn’t at the forefront of amazing cooking these days, and of course, continental Europe is a food-lover’s dream; from the fruit we bought at farmer’s markets at the side of the road in France to the cheeseless pizza we got from the local pizza window in Duino, absolutely everything was phenomenal.
As I’m back home in the motherland, it seems only right that I should be baking some British classics – albeit with a bit of a twist!
Flapjack is, for me, a reminder of home. My mum makes the best flapjack in the world (IN THE WORLD I tell you!) and there’s always a cake tin full of it whenever anyone’s coming over. It’s all butter, sugar and golden syrup usually, although she has taken to making a vegan version because Putin and I love it so much (thanks, Mum!).
However, you know me. I can’t leave anything alone; everything needs to be spiced up a little! I’m currently in Edinburgh housesitting for my newlywed friends, and I noticed that I still had some almond butter and coconut butter left over in the fridge. These two seemed to be the perfect companion for oats and a little sweetener – and why not throw in the rest of the cherries that are sitting in the fruit bowl?
When I come back to the UK, I always tend to go back to more traditional recipes – mostly because my mum and dad’s kitchen is a lot more traditional than mine!
I still can’t help playing around with flavours, however, and this soup was made when I had a bunch of mint that I needed to use up. The peas – well, I would put peas in everything if I could. Peas are the miniature kings and queens of food.
It sounds strange at first but the subtle taste of the mint and the extra heartiness of the peas add a little more to this already fantastic soup. A new favourite in my house and a 30-minute week night dinner!
Before I was vegan, I used to love fish. I mean, I still do love fish – the smell of the sea, the freshness of the food – but I choose not to eat it for many reasons, a huge one being that the overfishing of our oceans is catastrophic, and many species of fish soon simply won’t exist.
However, it is true that I miss both the texture and the taste of flaked tuna. I ate a lot of it when I was younger, and I loved it. I’ve been lucky in that Putin has been making a lot of The Post Punk Kitchen’s faux-tuna salad a lot as he thinks that it’s wonderful, but for me, there’s not enough of a fishy taste in the recipe, and I hate vegan mayo.
So I did what I had to do: I made my own recipe.
You might never have heard of cranachan before. That’s okay; this is a uniquely Scottish dessert, and despite being from the north of England I’m not even sure that I pronounce the name of this correctly. Is it cran-a-chan? Cra-nacken? Who knows.
Anyway, the name doesn’t matter. What does matter is the content: thick, airy whipped cream with whisky and tart fruit. A stream of sweetener running throughout. The subtle crunch of toasted oats, and a general sense that this dessert embodies the true spirit of Scotland.
Of course, I can’t leave anything alone, and in veganizing this it has, of course, changed a little. The whipped cream is whipped coconut cream in this version. The honey is replaced by agave. My oats are toasted with ground cinnamon and ginger, and instead of the traditional raspberries, I’ve used strawberries – although, to be honest, this is because I simply couldn’t get raspberries in Panama. I would probably use raspberries given the chance.