Sunday, 24 November 2013

Baobab Super-Fruit Powder - A review plus WIN a family ticket to the Eden Project

Baobab fruit powder
When I was asked to try out Baobab Fruit Powder in the Baobab Breakfast Challenge, I was intrigued to find out more, as it wasn't a product I knew anything about. I was challenged to come up with an original and delicious breakfast recipe which included baobab...

Baobab is an African super-fruit, which contains six times more vitamin C than an orange and more calcium (gram for gram) than a glass of milk. Baobab is also rich in iron, vitamin B2 and potassium and contains more than three times as many antioxidants as blueberries! As vitamin C aids the absorption of iron, the powder is a great addition to a vegetarian/vegan diet especially if you're concerned about your iron intake.

Not only is it good for you, but baobab is ethically sourced and every purchase helps fund Project Baobab (set up by the Eden Project and Phytotrade Africa) which aims to educate people on the importance of sustainability in harvesting the fruit to ensure there’s a positive impact on poor families in Africa.

We tried the baobab powder out in various recipes, including breakfast muffins, fruit juice, homemade bread and the cereal/flapjack bars below. The powder gave a sweet, fruity flavour to each food it was added to (something like a peach/mango/apricot flavour), so would be suitable for adding to children's foods if you want to boost their vitamin/mineral uptake, especially through the winter or after they've been ill, without resorting to artificial food supplements. 
Baobab products can be purchased online at www.edenprojectshop.comBaobab is also available from Holland & Barrett, Planet Organic and all good health food shops. Priced from £14.99 for a 250g tub of superfruit powder. £19.99 for 90 1000mg tablets. Or order online from www.minvita.co.uk.
Apricot Breakfast Bars and Baobab Enriched Orange Juice

fruity vegan cereal barsAlthough these vegan cereal bars are relatively high in sugar, they're a tasty alternative to cereal and could be served for a weekend breakfast treat. They also make a good, energy-rich after school or lunch-box snack.

For the juice, simply stir 1 teaspoon of baobab powder into a little orange juice and mix well. Top up the glass with more juice and stir again before serving.

Makes 12-16 bars/squares.
  • 150g/6oz dairy-free margarine/spread 
  • 100g/4oz dark soft brown sugar
  • 2 tbsp golden syrup/corn syrup
  • 25g/1oz boabab powder 
  • 50g/2oz chopped dried apricots (or other dried fruit)
  • 200g/8oz porridge oats  
Pre-heat the oven to 170C/160C Fan/Gas 3/325F.
Melt the spread with the sugar and syrup (in a pan or in the microwave) and simmer for 1 minute.
Mix in the oats, apricots and baobab until coated in the syrup.
Pour into a greased and lined baking tin (15cm x 20cm approx) and flatten with a fork or spoon.
Bake for around 25-30 minutes, or until golden brown at the edges.
Cool in the tin for 10 minutes before marking into squares/bars.
Turn out when cold - not before, or they'll fall apart!

These bars are soft and chewy. For a crisper flapjack-type bar, increase the oven temperature to 180C/170C Fan/Gas 4/350F.

Suitable for freezing.
Eden Project logoSo, onto the competition...
The lovely people at the Eden Project in Cornwall, UK have generously offered me a family ticket (valid for 2 adults and 3 children - worth up to £78.50) to give away to one lucky reader...a fab prize, eh?

Described as the eighth wonder of the world, the Eden Project is a global garden which lets people discover plants that have changed the world and plants that could change the future.
People can explore the sights, smells and sheer scale of the Rainforest Biome, take a journey through the fragrant Mediterranean Biome and zig-zag their way through the 30 acres of outdoor gardens. There are also world-class art installations, unique sculptures and exciting events to be found across the site.

To enter, simply add your details to the Rafflecopter widget and follow the instructions. Competition closes midnight Tuesday 3rd December. The winner will be drawn at random and published here. UK only. COMPETITION NOW CLOSED - Winner Allan Smith.

Integrity Statement
I received a packet of baobab powder and a bar of chocolate to review, plus a family ticket to the Eden Project to giveaway. I did not receive payment, and the views expressed are genuinely those of myself and my family.
a Rafflecopter giveaway
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Thursday, 21 November 2013

Mint Chocolate Dragon Cake

Mint chocolate dragon cake
This cake was made as an entry to a competition on Mumsnet, which sadly didn't win, but I thought it was too good, not to blog! Miss Kahonie came up with the design for the cake after being inspired by a similar one in Kids' Party Ideas (which used After Eights for the spines), and helped me to make and decorate it.

Before anyone else mentions it, this is the exception to the rule about not eating anything with a face!!!

For the cake
First we made a 3-egg chocolate sponge cake and baked it in the top half of my giant cupcake tin. You could also bake this in a greased and cocoa-dusted heat-proof bowl.
  • 150g/6oz butter/spread
  • 150g/6oz sugar
  • 3 medium eggs
  • 150g/6oz SR flour
  • 50g/2oz cocoa powder
  • ½ tsp baking powder
Cream the butter and sugar, beat in the eggs then stir in the remaining ingredients.
Pour into a well greased tin/bowl which has been sprinkled with a little sieved cocoa.
Bake for around an hour in a pre-heated oven at 150C/140C Fan/Gas 2/300F
Allow to cool in the tin/bowl for about 10 minutes before turning out.
Slice in half once cold.

For the icing
We then crumb-coated and iced the cake with peppermint butter-icing, and added fondant icing details.

  • 100g/4oz butter/spread, softened
  • 250g/10oz icing sugar
  • 1-2 tsp peppermint extract
  • green food colouring
  • 2-4 tbsp boiling water
  • 500g/1lb pack of fondant icing
  • 1 bag of chocolate pebbles, giant chocolate buttons or similar
Cream the icing sugar and butter together, adding enough boiling water to make a soft, spreadable icing. Add the flavouring to taste and enough food colouring to get a good, strong, green colour.

Spread a couple of tablespoonfuls of the icing on one half of the cake and sandwich the two halves together. Crumb coat the whole cake (spread thinly with about half of the remaining icing and chill to set). Rough-ice the cake with the remaining butter icing, making peaks in the icing to look a little like dragon scales!

Colour ¾ of a block of fondant icing with food colouring (the gel/paste type is best) and divide into 4 pieces:
  • Roll one piece into a long sausage shape for the tail.
  • Make 2 flattened circles for the legs.
  • Remove a little of the icing from the last piece and make the triangular point for the tail plus an ear and an eyebrow; make a flattened oval for the head from the rest of this piece, making one end of the oval more narrow, for the snout.
Push the legs and head into place onto the butter icing.
Attach the tail to the back of the cake and wrap around the front of the cake over the legs.
Add the ear and eyebrow to the head, sticking down with a little water if needed.

Using the end of a teaspoon or icing nozzle, make semi-circular imprints into the fondant icing to represent more scales.

On white card, draw and cut out: a puff of smoke, 2 wings, an eye and some sharp teeth. Poke these into the icing in the appropriate places! 

Finally, poke the chocolate sweets into the icing along the dragon's back and tail for the spines.
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Monday, 18 November 2013

The Best New Vegetarian Cookbooks: Review & Gift Guide

As Christmas is just around the corner, I thought I'd post a round-up of some of my favourite new(ish) vegetarian cookbooks. I've included books which I think would make great presents for foodie friends or family. So, if you're stuck for gift ideas, take a look...

World Food Cafe: Quick and easy recipes from a vegetarian journey by Chris and Carolyn Caldicott 

This beautifully illustrated book tells a story of a journey through many different countries, bringing the best vegetarian recipes from each region together. Recipes include delicious breakfasts, soups and main courses, with the odd cocktail thrown in! Although the recipes mainly use easy-to-find ingredients, this book may be suited to slightly more adventurous cooks, as a wide range of herbs, spices and condiments are used, which would be expensive to buy if you didn't have any to start with.

"After twenty years of squeezing in trips abroad at the same time as running the World Food Café, Chris and Carolyn Caldicott decided to take a sabbatical so that they could go on longer journeys in search of new recipes. This book brings together the recipes they collected from home kitchens, street stalls, restaurants and roadside cafes, alongside atmospheric photographs and travellers’ tales."

I loved the recipes from the more exotic countries such as Cuba, Bhutan and Laos, as I had very little idea on the cuisines from these regions. This would make an ideal gift as the anecdotes about each country make it a great read and not just a recipe book.

DISCOUNT CODE: To order World Food Cafe: Quick and Easy: Recipes from a Vegetarian Journey pub by Frances Lincoln at the discounted price of £16.00 including p&p* (RRP: £20.00), telephone 01903 828503 or email mailorders@lbsltd.co.uk and quote the offer code APG43. *UK ONLY - Please add £2.50 if ordering from overseas.



The Adventurous Vegetarian: Around the World in 30 Meals by Jane Hughes

Coincidentally, I was sent a copy of this book to review soon after the previous book. Like the World Food Cafe, this book takes the reader on a culinary journey around the world and also includes a narrative about each country's traditional foods. The Adventurous Vegetarian differs by presenting the recipes from each region as a menu, so there is at least one starter, main course and dessert for each country.

It also includes a wide range of recipes which have been adapted from traditional meat-based recipes, such as a vegan recipe for Australian Lamingtons, a Vegetable Rendeng from Malaysia and a Vegetable Oil Down from Grenada. This book contains a large number of vegan recipes, so would be ideal for aspiring vegans, or for those who only eat egg/dairy products occasionally.

"Working with vegetarian groups and societies from around the globe in order to discover their most popular and delicious dishes, this beautifully illustrated book provides the reader not only with tried-and-tested, step-by-step instructions on how to cook up thirty complete meals from thirty different countries across the world but also with a brief history of vegetarianism in that country..."

DISCOUNT CODE: Save £10 off the RRP of The Adventurous Vegetarian by visiting http://shop.newint.org/uk/the-adventurous-vegetarian.html and entering the code VEGGIE at the checkout.

The Vegetarian Pantry: Fresh and modern meat-free recipes by Chloe Cocker and Jane Montgomery

I reviewed this book earlier in the year and have enjoyed cooking a variety of recipes from it. As I mentioned before, this book contains a lovely mix of Mediterranean and Asian inspired vegetarian recipes, which are fairly quick easy to prepare and would go down well with all the family. I particularly like the breakfast section, as not many vegetarian cookbooks seem to include breakfast recipes.

Veggiestan: A Vegetable Lover's Tour of the Middle East by Sally Butcher

I received this book last Christmas and have cooked many different recipes from it throughout the year, as I love Middle Eastern food. The book includes a wide range of breads, meze dishes and main courses, flavoured with fragrant herbs and spices. Each chapter starts with an introduction about the main ingredients, the history of the dishes included and an explanation of the cooking methods used, which is very useful for those who are not familiar with cooking Middle Eastern dishes.

The Great British Bake Off: Learn to Bake by Linda Collister

OK, this book is a bit of a wild card, as it's not specifically a vegetarian cookbook. However, as it mainly features cakes and bake recipes, it is, by it's nature, mainly vegetarian. I've added this book as Miss Kahonie was bought it for her 12th birthday this year, and has successfully baked several recipes unaided...my favourite being the most delicious chocolate brownies I have ever tasted!

While this is not a children's cookbook, its step-by-step recipes with cooking tips and clear illustrations are great for young, inexperienced or novice bakers, who will be able to produce some great results with little time and effort. Those recipes which do include meat (eg: toad in the hole) can be easily adapted for vegetarians, however due to the use of dairy products and/or eggs in most recipes, this isn't a book I would recommend to vegan bakers.

Integrity Statement
I received a copy of the first three books to review, the other two books were gifts which I was not asked to review. I did not receive payment, and the views expressed are genuinely those of myself and my family.


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Thursday, 7 November 2013

Cheddar Cheese Fondue

©
It might be a little retro for some, but the Onykahonie household love a cheese fondue; in fact we love anything cheesy, including Eurovision,  X Factor and Abba! 

In this recipe, I added a British twists by swapping the traditional Emmental cheese for Cheddar, as I find the combination of Gruyère and Emmental is just too cheesy, even for a cheese lover like me! I also used dry British cider instead of wine and I prefer the flavour with the Cheddar...

Serves 2-4 - double this recipe to share with more people
  • 1 clove of garlic
  • 225 ml/1 cup dry/hard cider (or dry white wine) 
  • 150g/6oz medium or mature Cheddar cheese, grated
  • 150g/6oz vegetarian Gruyère cheese, grated
  • 2 tsp cornflour
  • 1 tbsp apple brandy/kirsch (optional)
  • A little grated nutmeg
  • toasted ciabatta/pitta, bread-sticks, crudites, potato wedges, breaded mushrooms, onion rings etc, for dipping
Cut the clove of garlic in half and rub around the inside of the pan/fondue pan.
Mix the brandy/kirsch or a little of the cider/wine with the cornflour, in a cup.
Heat the cider/wine (add the halved garlic clove too, if you like) in the pan until warm.

Remove from the heat and stir in the cornflour mixture and season with nutmeg.
Return to the heat and bring to the boil, stirring regularly. 
As soon as the mixture starts to bubble, add the cheese a little at a time, whisking all the time, until the cheese has melted and you have a smooth mixture.

Keep warm and serve with baked/toasted chunks of ciabatta, crudites, bread-sticks etc.


©
Alternative: For a quick and easy cheese fondue without all the faff, just take a whole Camembert, remove any plastic packaging and wrap in a layer of grease-proof paper (or original wrapping) and foil.

Bake for 20 minutes at 180C/170C Fan/Gas4/350F or on the barbecue. 

When melted, score around the top and remove the 'skin'.


To flavour the cheese, score little cuts into the top of the cheese before cooking and insert slices of garlic and/or springs of rosemary. Remove these before serving.

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Friday, 1 November 2013

Cherry & Almond Microwave Fudge

With Christmas looming, I thought I'd blog an old family favourite recipe for traditional fudge, which makes a great homemade gift. I've adapted the cooking method, so it's made in the microwave, but you could make it on the hob in a large pan if you prefer. I would suggest that you have a trial run first as recognising the right consistency and colour can be a bit trial and error, unless you have a sugar thermometer.

Top tips: Do use a LARGE Pyrex (oven-proof glass) bowl for this...a plastic bowl will melt at the temperature the sugar reaches, and the mixture will bubble up a lot as it boils. The glass bowl and fudge mixture will be EXTREMELY HOT, so please do use oven gloves when you take the bowl in an out of the microwave. 
  • 1 tin sweetened condensed milk
  • 8oz/200g caster sugar
  • 4oz/100g butter, softened
  • 2 tbsp golden syrup
  • 1 tsp vanilla extract
  • 1oz/25g flaked almonds
  • 3oz/75g glace cherries, halved
Put the condensed milk, sugar, butter and syrup in an large oven-proof bowl, stir.
Microwave for 2 minutes on medium. Stir and repeat, until the butter has melted and the sugar has dissolved.

Heat on high for approximately 10 minutes, stirring every minute or so, until the mixture changes to a dark golden-brown colour, thickens and starts setting a little at the sides of the bowl (see the middle image below).

If you have a sugar thermometer, you need to reach 120C/235F, alternatively, drop a little of the hot mixture into a cold cup of water. It should form a soft ball.

Remove from the microwave and allow to cool, without stirring for 5 minutes.
Mix in the vanilla and beat with a wooden spoon until you can feel the mixture starting to thicken and set. If you find that the fudge isn't setting at all, reboil for a further couple of minutes.
Add the cherries and almonds and stir in.
Pour into a greased and lined 7"/20cm square tray and smooth out with the back of a spoon. Allow to cool for an hour or so, before marking into pieces. 
Cool fully before removing from the tin.
Store layered between sheets of grease-proof paper, in an air-tight box (in the fridge), until you are ready to bag it up for gifts.

Keeps for 2-3 weeks (if you haven't eaten it all within a couple of days!).

Alternatives: Omit the vanilla, cherries and almonds and change the flavourings to make different fudges: try rum & raisin or coffee & walnut for example. 

To make hot fudge sauce for ice cream or profiteroles, add 125 ml/½ cup of evaporated milk to the above ingredients. Melt as above and then boil the mixture for around 5 minutes, stirring occasionally, until you have a smooth, golden sauce. Add the vanilla but omit the cherries and almonds. Pour into sterilised jam jars, seal and refrigerate for up to 3 weeks. Re-heat to serve.

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