Citrus Cupcakes (makes 12)

Citrus Cupcakes by The Fat Foodie

Sometimes I bake cakes purely because a pretty cupcake case has caught my eye that begs to be filled with something delicious. This was the case (excuse the pun) when I saw some beautiful, bright, sunshine-coloured cupcake cases in Flying Tiger the other day. (I tried to find a link to their website so you could buy them yourself, but they don’t have them listed on their site unfortunately.)

Ordinarily I’m a real chocolate cake fan, loving the deep, moist fudginess that is inherent within all decent chocolate cakes, but I recognise that sometimes there’s nothing nicer than a light fruit-flavoured cake and these cupcake cases were ideal for making gluten-free citrus cupcakes in.

As the days are getting sunnier and warmer it’s nice to move away from the heavy puddings and crumbles of winter and embrace lighter flavours, such as those found in citrus fruits. Although I made my citrus cupcakes flavoured with lemon and orange you could choose to flavour them with lime or even grapefruit if you had a mind to. All you’re looking for are the strong oils in the fruit’s zest to impart a citrus note into the cake’s sponge.

These citrus cupcakes are light, but moist (even though they’re made with gluten-free flour) and keep for a good few days in an airtight tin. Although if your family’s anything like mine it’s highly unlikely that these delicious bakes will last that long. I might need to make another batch…

Ingredients:

220g caster sugar
120g fine polenta
50g gluten-free flour
90g ground almonds
60g dessicated coconut
A pinch of salt
The zest of 1 lemon and 1 orange
2 tsps baking powder
1/2 tsp of bicarbonate of soda
120g dairy-free butter
100g coconut oil (melted)
4 eggs
60ml rice milk
For the buttercream icing:
100g dairy-free butter
240g icing sugar
1 tbsp rice milk

Method:

Preheat your oven to 180C/160C Fan/350F/Gas mark 4.

Lay out your cupcake cases onto a flat baking tray.

Measure all of the wet ingredients into a mixing bowl.

Measure all of the dry ingredients into another bowl.

Add the dry ingredients into the wet ingredients and mix well.

Pour equal amounts of the cake mix into each of the cupcake cases, lay them on the baking trays and bake in the oven for around 25 mins. (They’re cooked if a skewer pushed into the middle of a couple of the cakes comes out entirely clean.)

Leave to cool on a cooling rack.

Make the buttercream icing by placing all of the buttercream ingredients into a jug and whisking until a smooth icing is produced.

Once the citrus cupcakes are cool, decorate them with the buttercream icing.

Citrus Cupcakes by The Fat Foodie

Citrus Cupcakes by The Fat Foodie

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Thai Green Curry (serves 4)

Thai Green Curry by The Fat Foodie

When I was at work yesterday I found myself pondering over what I was going to make for dinner. I knew I had a pack of chicken breasts in the fridge, but I was a bit fed up of making the same chicken dishes over and over again. However, I remembered that I had a thick chunk of fresh root ginger in the fridge as well as a jar of minced lemongrass in the cupboard, so I found myself thinking about making a Thai curry.

I’ve never made a Thai green curry from scratch before because I’ve always thought that they require ridiculous amounts of individual ingredients and, let’s be honest here, sometimes after a long day at work you can’t be bothered with all of that faff-on, can you? However, after a brief mootch in the Thai cookbook section at work (one of the benefits of working in a bookshop!) I actually realised that it doesn’t really take that much to make a Thai green curry after all and that, with the exception of having to buy fish sauce and a packet of mangetout on my way home, I was all set.

Now, I’m going to offer a word of advice here and I really hope you take it. I’ve never cooked with fish sauce before so I added it after sweating off my spices, ginger and lemongrass, but this was a huge mistake. IT FREAKIN’ STINKS!!! I’m not kidding, this was an ‘open all of the doors and windows’ job. This was a ‘thank God the living room door was closed so the smell didn’t meander up into any of the bedrooms’ jobs. It was horrific. So my advice is: only add the fish sauce after you’ve already added the coconut milk so that it blends into the curry sauce without releasing its infernal pungent aroma into your kitchen.

After I’d added the coconut milk and allowed my nasal passages to dissipate the strong stench of the fish sauce I steeled myself and tasted the curry sauce and… it was delicious. You couldn’t taste any aspect of the fish sauce whatsoever, but it had definitely added a richness to the Thai green curry that it would have sorely lacked had I omitted it. Please trust me and use the fish sauce, just don’t smell it. Ever.

I loved this Thai green curry and so did my family. It’s rich, multi-flavoured and very satisfying and it makes a nice change from the usual Indian curries I tend to make a lot. Its coconut milk base carries the delicate notes of root ginger and lemongrass without overpowering the chicken and making it taste too sweet. I don’t think it’ll be long before I’m making this for dinner again, but you can be damn sure I’ll be adding the fish sauce AFTER I’ve added the coconut milk. I won’t make that mistake again!

Ingredients:

2 tbsp sesame oil

2 tbsps minced fresh root ginger

1 tbsp minced lemongrass (or 2 crushed lemongrass stalks)

1 mild red chilli (finely chopped)

1 tsp ground cumin

1 tsp asafoetida

1/2 a bunch of fresh coriander (chopped)

1/2 a bunch of basil (chopped)

2 tbsps fish sauce

2 tbsps lime juice (or the juice of 2 limes)

1 tin of coconut milk

1/3 of a block of coconut cream (around 75g)

4 chicken breasts (cut into bite-sized pieces)

200g mangetout (cut into bite-sized pieces)

Rice

Method:

In a large saucepan heat the sesame oil and once hot add the ginger, lemongrass, chopped chilli, cumin and asafoetida.

Add the chicken pieces, tin of coconut milk, lime juice and fish sauce and leave to simmer for 10-15 mins.

Start your rice cooking.

Add the mangetout, basil, coriander and coconut cream and cook for another couple of minutes.

Drain your rice.

If you used whole lemongrass stalks then just before serving remove them from the Thai green curry.

Serve on top of the rice with fresh basil (and a bit more chopped chilli if you like).

Thai Green Curry by The Fat Foodie

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Aloo Palak (Potato and Spinach Curry) (serves 4)

Aloo Palak (Potato and Spinach Curry) by The Fat Foodie

I love aloos, potato-based Indian dishes, because they’re so hearty and flavoursome and they make a lovely light alternative to heavy dairy and meat-based curries. I’m particularly a fan of aloo palak, a potato and spinach curry, because the addition of spinach leaves makes the dish very fresh tasting and brings out the natural sweetness of the potatoes.

I know a lot of people who would never dream about making a curry from scratch because they think it’s too hard or that it involves too many ingredients, an attitude I can understand because some curries are pretty labour and ingredient intensive. However, this aloo palak is really easy to make and its ingredients list isn’t that extensive either.

The beauty of making a curry yourself lies in the fact that you can use fresh flavours that really pack a wallop, such as minced ginger root and fresh coriander leaf. Accordingly, you’re rewarded with an aloo palak that tastes much nicer than a curry sauce that comes from a jar. As an added bonus there’s no onion or garlic in this recipe because asafoetida powder is used to impart those flavours instead, so it’s FODMAP friendly.

Although this aloo palak is vegetarian, it’s substantial, requiring little more than some crisp and crunchy poppadums to accompany it, but even though there’s no meat in it it’s rich and stuffed full of a variety of flavours. It’s a vegetarian curry that’s well worth making.

Ingredients:

800g potatoes cut into small cubes (peeled weight)

3 tbsps vegetable oil

1 tsp salt

1 tbsp garam masala

1 tbsp fresh minced ginger

1 tsp asafoetida powder

1 tsp hot madras powder

1 tsp ground turmeric

2 tbsps sesame seeds

2 tbsps dessicated coconut

200g fresh washed spinach

Fresh coriander and poppadums for serving

Method:

Parboil the potatoes in generously salted boiling water until just soft and then drain.

Heat the vegetable oil in a large pan and add all of your spices and cook for a minute.

Add the potatoes and desiccated coconut and cook for a couple of minutes before adding the spinach.

Cook until the spinach has wilted down and add a little water if you’d prefer the curry to be a bit saucier. Taste for seasoning (it might require a generous seasoning of salt at this point).

Serve with freshly chopped coriander and crisp poppadums. (It’s also lovely with fresh chopped chilli and a cucumber and mint raita.)

Aloo Palak (Potato and Spinach Curry) by The Fat Foodie

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Chocolate Bundt Cakes (makes 12)

Chocolate Bundt Cakes by The Fat Foodie

The 13th of May was the 1 year anniversary of my blog and today is my 100th blog post, so I thought I’d follow in the footsteps of The Great British Bake Off and bake a ‘Showstopper’ to mark the occasion. I originally started my blog (which turned into The Fat Foodie website) as a way to showcase my writing skills in order to try to get a particular job that I really wanted at the time. Sadly, I wasn’t successful in getting the job and although as a result, I did think about calling it a day with the blog (I think at that point there was only a couple of months worth of blog posts on it), I’m really pleased I didn’t.

My website has become an extremely enjoyable activity for me. This might sound odd, but prior to starting the blog I never thought in a million years that I would have my own website. I wasn’t (and still am not) a ‘computery’ ‘techie’ type of person, so to find myself regularly contributing to the internet still thrills me every Sunday and Wednesday morning when I boost my blog posts through my social media channels.

I guess the experience of starting and maintaining my own website has taught me that we shouldn’t hold on to a rigid view of our own sense of who we think are because we can change over time to become something other than what we believe to be true. We can adapt and develop skills that we never knew existed within us and this can help us to contribute to the world in ways that we never considered possible before. That’s what my website has done for me.

So all I’ve got left to say is thanks very much for visiting my website and reading my posts. I hope to continue for a good while yet! Now on to the showstopper!

The other day I was in Lidl and a box of six silicone bundt cases caught my eye, particularly because they were only £1.99. Silicone baking cases are renowned for being pricey so I didn’t hesitate to pick up two boxes. I’ve been mulling over what I was going to bake in them for a while now, but I eventually decided to go with chocolate bundt cakes because I don’t think you can beat a decent chocolate cake in terms of both visual impact and taste.

These chocolate bundt cakes have a hefty whack of good quality dark chocolate in them due to the inclusion of cocoa powder and the dark chocolate drizzled over them. These two forms of pure dark chocolate are further enhanced by the dark brown sugar, which creates a deep, fudgy flavour. In terms of difficulty, these chocolate bundt cakes are really simple to make, involving nothing more taxing than measuring out your wet and dry ingredients into separate bowls and then just blending them together to create your cake mix.

Other than the beautiful taste of the chocolate sponge, I think the real impact of these cakes comes from whatever you decide to bake them in, such as the silicone bundt cases, but you could just as easily use plain old cupcake cases. You certainly don’t need to dust them with edible gold glitter either. It’s just I’ve got the stunning visual impact of my website to take into consideration, you know?  😉

Ingredients:

220g dark brown sugar
120g fine polenta
50g gluten-free flour
90g ground almonds
80g cocoa powder
A pinch of salt
2 tsps baking powder
1/2 tsp of bicarbonate of soda
120g dairy-free butter
100g coconut oil (melted)
4 eggs
60ml rice milk
100g dark chocolate (for decoration)

Method:

Preheat your oven to 180C/160C Fan/350F/Gas mark 4.

Lay out your silicone bundt cases or cupcake cases onto a flat baking tray.

Measure all of the wet ingredients into a mixing bowl.

Measure all of the dry ingredients into another bowl.

Add the dry ingredients into the wet ingredients and mix well.

Pour equal amounts of the cake mix into the silicone bundt cases and lay them on the baking tray.

Tap them firmly on a work surface a few times (to help prevent bubbles in the base of the bundts) and bake in the oven for around 25 mins. (They’re cooked if a skewer pushed into the middle of a couple of the cakes comes out entirely clean.)

Leave to cool on a cooling rack before taking the bundts out of their cases.

Once cool, melt the dark chocolate in the microwave and drizzle it over the chocolate bundt cakes.

Feel free to dust the bundts with completely unnecessary edible gold glitter if you like.

Chocolate Bundt Cakes by The Fat Foodie

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Free-From Custard Creams

Free-From Custard Creams

When I first went gluten-free and dairy-free one of the free-from products that astonished me at their cost was biscuits. I mean, £3 for a Genius gluten-free loaf from Sainsbury’s is ridiculous, but £1.80 for 8 chocolate chip biscuits from the Sainsbury’s free-from range is just obscene. I know you’re paying for the convenience factor, but fresh biscuits cost next to nothing to make at home so I felt really cheated and ripped off at the cost of free-from versions from a number of shops.

These free-from custard creams are so cheap to make (I’d estimate that a batch of around 12 custard creams cost considerably less than £1 to produce) and they’re really easy to whip up in a hurry. I just measure all of my ingredients into a plastic jug and use an electric whisk to blend it together into a biscuit dough. You don’t even need to roll out the dough and cut them out because you just roll them up in your palms and flatten them out on the baking tray. You can’t get any easier, can you?

I normally sandwich my custard creams with buttercream icing, but these have a little bit more caster sugar in them than my standard custard cream recipe so they’re really nice plain without a filling, but by all means sandwich them if you like. My buttercream recipe can be found here and you can just use dairy-free butter to keep the mix free-from. Equally, you could drizzle melted chocolate over the top of them or icing sugar.

Whether you decide to use the filling or use a sweet drizzle over the top of the biscuits, they’ll still save you a huge amount of money compared to buying them ready made in a shop.

Ingredients:

70g dairy-free butter

30g coconut oil

80g gluten-free flour (I use Dove’s Farm G/F Plain Flour)

20g cornflour

50g custard powder

70g caster sugar

1/2 tsp vanilla extract

1 tsp xanthan gum

Method:

Preheat your oven to 200C/180C Fan/400F/Gas mark 6.

Measure all of your ingredients into a plastic jug and then mix it all together with an electric whisk.

Lay greaseproof paper out onto two baking trays.

Take small handfulls of custard cream dough and roll into a ball before flattening between your palms and placing them on the baking trays. Continue until the mix is all used up.

Press the tines of a fork onto the top of each biscuit to create the distinctive mark of a custard cream and bake in the oven for 12 to 15 mins or until they are golden brown.

Free-From Custard Creams About to be Baked

Remove from the oven and leave to cool on a cooling rack.

Once cold you can sandwich them with buttercream icing or drizzle with a topping if you like.

Freshly Baked Free-From Custard Creams

Free-From Custard Creams

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