Dark Chocolate Gingers

Dark Chocolate Gingers by The Fat Foodie

I love ginger. I think it’s such a variable spice. It adds a gorgeous fragrant, warming note to curries and noodle bowls while providing a delicious-tasting background heat. However, although I more than appreciate the merits of ginger in savoury recipes, I think ginger really comes into its own when used in sweet dishes. What would an autumnal bonfire night be without thick slabs of sticky gingerbread that are topped with a creamy spreading of real butter? Or a rainy October afternoon stuck inside the house while you watch black and white old movies with a steaming hot cup of builder’s tea and a couple of gingernut biscuits lying at its side? Sheer bliss.

For all that I love a biscuit that’s solely flavoured with ginger, I think the spice is really elevated when paired with dark chocolate. There’s something about the spicy heat of the ginger being tempered by the creamy bitterness of dark chocolate that makes me appreciate the humble dark chocolate ginger biscuit. I’ve also added a little bit of lemon extract to the biscuit dough which helps to keep the flavour fresh and not too heavy. (You could use the zest of a lemon if you don’t have lemon extract.)

These dark chocolate gingers are crisp, buttery rounds of crumbly biscuit that are infused with the background heat of ginger and are generously slathered in a coating of thick, creamy dark chocolate. They’re very quick to make and are ideal for accompanying a cuppa on a rainy afternoon.

Ingredients:

100g cornflour

150g gluten-free flour

95g icing sugar

125g salted butter (or a non-dairy version)

1 tsp lemon extract

2 tbsps rice milk

1 tsp ground ginger

100g dark chocolate (for coating the biscuits)

Method:

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

Lay greaseproof paper out onto two baking trays.

Measure all of your ingredients into a plastic jug or mixing bowl and then mix it all together with an electric whisk. (If you want to make it by hand then just rub the butter into the dry ingredients before adding the liquid ingredients and mixing together.)

Add more rice milk if you feel the dough is too dry. (Gluten-free flour can be notoriously absorbent.)

Take small handfuls of biscuit 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.

Bake the ginger biscuits in the oven until they are golden brown and then place them on a cooling rack to cool down.

Once cold, melt the dark chocolate and spread a thick layer over the top of the biscuits. Leave to cool until the chocolate has solidified and then serve.

Dark Chocolate Gingers by The Fat Foodie

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Financiers (makes 16)

Financiers by The Fat Foodie

A couple of months ago I had the pleasure of meeting the talented Kirsten Gilmour, the owner of The Mountain Cafe in Aviemore and the author of The Mountain Cafe Cookbook, and her lovely publisher at Kitchen Press, Emily Dewhurst. Although Kirsten had generously brought along a veritable buffet of delicious baked sweet treats to her book signing, I couldn’t eat any of it because days before, I’d eaten a meal which included onion rings, had a horrible IBS reaction that evening, and then after some research that night I began the low FODMAP diet exclusion period the day after. However, I had a great chat with Kirsten and Emily about trying to live gluten-free and Emily very kindly emailed me a cracking recipe for gluten-free almond financiers the following day. She’s so nice!

I’ve never had a financier before, but I’m astonished at how tasty they are and how easy they are to make. Financiers are small French cakes that are based on ground almonds and are normally baked in small rectangular cake tins which make them resemble bars of gold. Hence the French name ‘financier’. They are light and airy, but remain moist upon cooking and last for quite a while in the biscuit tin. I don’t have a cake tin that resembles anything like a gold bar so I just baked mine in a mini muffin tray and they turned out brilliantly.

Now, I’m going to ‘fess up here. I screwed up the first batch I made. It was such a simple mistake, but one that could have been avoided if I’d been focusing more on double checking the ingredients. Basically, I used salted butter instead of unsalted, but this meant that when it was added to the 1/2 tsp of salt the original recipe required they were massively over-salted, to the extent that when I first tasted the financiers I spat them back out because they were far too salty.

The thing is, I always use salted butter (even in my cakes) because salt adds seasoning and contributes a fantastic dual taste component to sweet dishes. In fact, most American cake recipes state that you should add some salt because they understand very well how the sweet/salty combination works. Sadly, in the case of my first batch of financiers however, it was simply salt overload and didn’t work. That’s why I’ve removed the added salt and just stipulated that you should use salted butter instead. It takes away the possibility of you making the same mistake as me. You’re welcome.  😉

Joking aside, if you enjoy a sweet treat, particularly one that’s packed with almond flavour, then this is the recipe for you. Although they’re based around ground almonds, one financier contains just enough almond to keep the cakes low FODMAP. After baking, the financiers turn out as sweet, rich little almond-scented cakes that are enriched with browned butter and dark cocoa powder. They’re not dairy-free because I really think you need the flavour of the browned butter to be true to a traditional financier, but they are gluten-free. However, if you’re dairy intolerant you could certainly have a bash at making them with dairy-free butter. You’ll still get a tasty almond cake, but it will lack the butter flavour. Whatever way you decide to make them, I’ll bet you give them a thumbs-up.

Ingredients:

85g of salted butter (or dairy-free or coconut oil)

2 large egg whites

130g ground almonds

100g icing sugar

4 tbsps cocoa powder

1/4 tsp almond extract

Method:

Preheat your oven to 190C/170C Fan/375F/Gas mark 5.

Grease and flour your mini muffin tray so the financiers don’t get stuck inside upon baking.

Melt the butter in a saucepan until is goes slightly brown and smells caramelly and then let it cool down slightly. (If you’re using non-dairy butter then just melt it and leave it to cool. You don’t need to brown it before using it, it just needs to be liquid.)

Place all of the ingredients into a mixing bowl and add the browned butter.

Lightly beat the egg whites and then fold them into the mixture.

Place a heaped tablespoon of mixture in each mini muffin tray section and bake for 10-15 mins.

Leave to cool slightly before eating.

Financiers by The Fat Foodie

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Quiche Lorraine

Quiche Lorraine by The Fat Foodie

I’d made plans the other day to meet my friend in town for lunch after I’d finished my morning shift at work, but unfortunately she had to cancel, so I invited her to my house for lunch the next day instead. When I got home I was wracking my brains trying to think of something to make for our lunch and I eventually decided to go with a rich quiche lorraine.

Quiches are a brilliant tasty meal option to make for lunch or dinner because they require very few ingredients, particularly if you have a block of pastry in your freezer. And even if you don’t have pastry on-hand it’s really easy to knock one up in no time at all. Quiches are also ideal because you can fill them with any number of ingredients and they are a great vegetarian choice as they are delicious when made with vegetables like courgettes, tomatoes and broccoli, to name but a few.

Although I love vegetable quiches, such as my Mediterranean Vegetable Quiche and Broccoli and Parmesan Quiche,  I also enjoy meats like leftover roast chicken or bacon in them, so I decided to make a traditional quiche lorraine for our lunch that day. Quiche Lorraine originates from the Lorraine region of France and the traditional version consists of a rich, savoury shortcrust pastry shell that’s filled to the brim with fresh eggs, double cream, grated cheese and bacon lardons.

Now, my version of quiche lorraine isn’t quite as decadent as the standard full-fat French version, but it’s still very tasty. It’s made with whipped eggs and a dash of rice milk which is mixed with grated cheddar and a generous quantity of smoked bacon strips and it’s then poured into a thyme-infused pastry shell and baked until just the slightest wobble remains after baking. It’s lovely simply served with a green salad and a long natter with a good friend.

Ingredients:

175g gluten-free plain flour

100g butter (cold and cut into cubes) or a non-dairy version

1 egg yolk

2 tbsps cold water

2 sprigs of fresh thyme (or 1 tsp dried)

4 medium eggs

150g grated mature cheddar (or non-dairy equivalent)

100ml rice milk (or normal, if preferred)

150g smoked bacon (chopped)

1/2 tsp ground black pepper

2 tomatoes (sliced – for decoration)

Method:

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

Get a 23cm or 9″ quiche tin and line it with greaseproof paper.

If you’re using ready-rolled shortcrust pastry then roll it out, place it in the quiche tin and cut it to size.

If you’re making your own pastry then measure the flour, butter and thyme into a mixing bowl and rub the butter into the flour until it looks like fine sand. Add the egg yolk and 2 tbsps of cold water to the mixture and bring it together until it forms a dough. Roll it out on a floured worksurface and cut it to size so it fits inside your quiche tin and overlaps the edges slightly. Lightly prick the bottom of the pastry case with a fork. (This helps release air and prevents the bottom from rising.)

If you have baking beans, then line the inside of the pastry shell with greaseproof paper and add the baking beans. If not, don’t worry about it.

Bake the pastry shell for 15-20 mins or until the pastry is golden brown.

While the shell is cooking mix all of the other ingredients together.

When the pastry shell is golden brown take it out of the oven and pour the filling mixture into it. Top with the sliced tomatoes (and more cheese, if you like) and bake it in the oven for about 25 mins or until it only slightly wobbles in the middle when jiggled.

Freshly Baked Quiche Lorraine by The Fat Foodie

Leave the quiche to cool slightly and then serve it with a fresh salad.

Quiche Lorraine by The Fat Foodie

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Lemon and Coconut Cookies

Lemon and Coconut Cookies by The Fat Foodie

I love lemon in cookies because I think the fruity flavour lifts the rich, buttery biscuit and makes it taste really fresh and light. It’s also particularly good when combined with the exotic flavour of coconut because the two tastes working together really sing, so these lemon and coconut cookies are the ideal combination then!

This is a dairy-free and gluten-free cookie recipe. However, for all of you sceptics out there, I tested it on my Dad and his workmates and they couldn’t tell the difference between these cookies and a ‘normal’ biscuit, which testifies to its tastiness. (If you’re not dairy or gluten sensitive you can just make them with normal flour and butter though, if you like.)

These lemon and coconut cookies are so easy to make. In fact, rather than standing rubbing the butter into the flour and whatnot like a traditional biscuit normally requires, I just made the cookie dough in a jug by whisking all of the ingredients together with an electric whisk. The most time-consuming part of this bake is simply waiting for the cookie dough to chill in the fridge before you bake it and even that’s not entirely essential either!

If you fancy a fresh and light dairy-free and gluten-free biscuit then these lemon and coconut cookies are for you. They’re delicately flavoured with zingy, zesty lemon extract and are enhanced by the exotic tropical taste of coconut. They’re practically begging to be eaten with a cuppa!

Ingredients for the cookies:

200g plain flour (I used gluten-free)

50g cornflour

1 tsp baking powder

1 tsp lemon extract

125g white sugar

125g butter (I used dairy-free)

For decorating:

Icing sugar

Water

Desiccated coconut

Method:

Measure the cookie ingredients into a large plastic jug and use an electric whisk to mix it all together. (You can add a little water if you feel it needs it to combine properly into a dough, but don’t add a lot.)

Once it’s fully combined, place the dough on a sheet of cling film, roll it into a sausage shape and chill it in the fridge for at least an hour. (This makes it easier to slice.)

Preheat your oven to 180°C/170°C Fan/350°F/Gas Mark 4 and line two baking trays with greaseproof paper.

Unroll the cookie dough from the cling film and cut it into 1 cm thick slices, before placing them on the baking tray with a gap between each.

Bake for 15 to 20 mins or until golden brown.

Leave to cool on a cooling rack. Make your icing by mixing the icing sugar with a tiny bit of water at a time until it’s the thickness to coat the back of a spoon.

Once the cookies are cold, drizzle the icing over the lemon and coconut cookies and then scatter the desiccated coconut over them. Serve.

Lemon and Coconut Cookies by The Fat Foodie

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Salt-Crusted Baked Potatoes

Salt-Crusted Baked Potatoes by The Fat Foodie

I think we can all agree that potatoes are a staple of the low FODMAP diet. Their wonderfully low FODMAP status means that they’re a great carbohydrate to be able to fall back on when you need a relatively quick meal. I tend to get fed up of eating bread all the time, even if it’s my gorgeous gluten-free soda bread, so it’s nice to know that I can have a baked potato instead.

When I was at uni doing my Masters I’d often go for a baked potato for lunch because they were huge, well-baked beauties that were perfect specimens of the potato family. Although many baked potatoes can be dry, these ones always had lovely moist interiors and were encased within a delicious-tasting natural shell. (I always eat the baked potato skin because it’s packed full of nutrients.)

Now, I’m going to tell you how to make the perfect baked potatoes and this advice is gold, my friends. On one of those days when I was buying lunch from the uni canteen I asked the lady who was serving the lunches why their baked potatoes tasted so good and she smiled and replied that, although they weren’t supposed to add salt without good reason, she coated the freshly washed raw potatoes in a very thin layer of granulated salt before she baked them so that the salt dried in the oven and created a crust on the outside which prevented the moisture within the potatoes from evaporating while simultaneously seasoning the potatoes beautifully. (I’m paraphrasing here.)

This was a revelation to me. I’d never have dreamed of putting salt on my baked potatoes, but sure enough, when I tried it at home (and every time I’ve made them since) it produces wonderfully tasty and beautifully seasoned baked potatoes.

Another trick to ensuring you get the perfect salt-crusted baked potatoes is to use a four-pronged potato baker. When my partner and I tied the knot, my Aunt and Uncle in Canada very generously sent over a Debenhams gift voucher for us. I bought a number of things with it, including a large bale of white towels which have long gone to grey bath towel heaven. However, one thing which remains from their wedding gift, and is used on a very regular basis, is a pair of potato bakers. These potato bakers are brilliant because they ensure your potatoes cook evenly by piercing them through the middle and radiating the heat through their centre. They’re truly a genius invention!

If you enjoy a good baked potato I’d really encourage you to try these salt-crusted baked potatoes some time. They’re a lovely way to treat what is a pretty plain vegetable and they really coax the natural sweetness out of the potato. The only hard part is deciding what you’re going to top them with.

Ingredients:

As many large potatoes as you need (washed and any eyes removed)

Granulated salt

Any toppings you fancy

Method:

Preheat your oven to 220C/200C Fan/425F/Gas Mark 7.

Wash your large potatoes and remove any eyes from them.

Scatter salt over the wet potatoes (I use around 1/3 to 1/2 a teaspoon of salt per potato) and then skewer them on the potato bakers and place on a baking tray.

Salt-Crusted Baked Potatoes About to be Baked by The Fat Foodie

Bake them in the oven for around 45 to 55 minutes. (You can’t really tell when they’re ready from looking at them so I tend to check they’re cooked by removing one of them from the potato baker and cutting it open. If it’s soft in the middle, they’re done. If not, pop it back on the potato baker and put them back in for a bit longer.)

Once your potatoes are ready remove them from the potato bakers and serve with your desired toppings.

Salt-Crusted Baked Potatoes by The Fat Foodie

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