Vegetable Lasagne (serves 8)

Vegetable Lasagne by The Fat Foodie

As much as I enjoy a good beef lasagne, I often look forward to one that’s made solely by layering vegetables in a casserole dish between a rich cheese sauce. Purely using vegetables makes the lasagne a light meal as opposed to the heaviness that accompanies a dish that’s based around meat. So, the other day when I looked in the fridge and saw a butternut squash, carrots and some courgettes that needed to be used up I figured they’d go very well together in a vegetable lasagne.

I inadvertently made this vegetable lasagne a vegan one because I don’t get on well with dairy and I wanted to use lots of grated Violife non-dairy mozzarella cheese to create a golden brown cheese crust to crown the lasagne. However, if you have no problem with dairy you can use a couple of sachets of cheese sauce mix to layer your lasagne instead and top it with grated cheddar or parmesan. Also, to keep this recipe low FODMAP don’t use any more than 30g of butternut squash per serve (240g in total).

This vegetable lasagne is a very easy to make and simple dish which consists of thinly sliced layers of butternut squash, courgette, baby spinach and carrot ribbons stacked together which are complemented by a cheesey sauce and sprinkled with sliced black olives and grated cheese. And if you need further testimony to its tastiness, even my carnivorous step-son enjoyed it so much he went back for seconds.

Ingredients:

1 small butternut squash (peeled and sliced into thin discs)

2 courgettes (cut lengthwise into thin slices)

3 large carrots (peeled and cut lengthwise into thin slices using a vegetable peeler)

8 cherry tomatoes (halved)

100g spinach

80g sliced black olives

200g grated cheese (I used Violife non-dairy mozzarella)

For the white sauce:

25g dairy-free butter

25g gluten-free flour

1/2 tsp ground black pepper

2 tbsps Engevita

200ml rice milk

2 tsps dried oregano

1/2 tsp ground pepper

Method:

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

Get a lasagne pan or large casserole dish at hand.

Because butternut squash is more robust and requires cooking for longer than the other vegetables, cook your butternut squash discs in a microwave until they are just soft to the touch and keep them to one side while you make the sauce.

To make the white sauce: melt the butter in a saucepan over a medium heat before whisking in the flour, pepper, oregano and Engevita.

Slowly add a little rice milk at a time, stirring continuously, so that eventually a thick sauce is created. (Don’t panic if it looks really lumpy, just keep stirring and adding more milk and it’ll come together.)

Once the white sauce is thick, season to taste and then take it off the heat.

Take your rectangular casserole dish and put a layer of courgettes on the bottom and top it with a little bit of sauce (you want to keep a fair amount for the topping) and then baby spinach leaves, carrot ribbons and butternut squash. Repeat until you’ve used up all of the vegetables.

Vegetable Lasagne by The Fat Foodie

Hopefully you’ve still got some sauce left, so pour the last of it over the lasagne and then add the sliced olives, halved cherry tomatoes and mozzarella.

Vegetable Lasagne by The Fat Foodie

Bake the vegetable lasagne in the oven for 35-40 mins or until the cheesy top is golden brown.

You could serve it with a side salad, crusty baguette or chips, but we just had bowls of it on its own and it was delicious!

Vegetable Lasagne by The Fat Foodie

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Lemon and Poppy Seed Pound Cake (makes 12 slices)

Lemon and Poppy Seed Pound Cake by The Fat Foodie

Pound cakes are so called because they are an American type of cake that uses a pound each of butter, sugar, flour and eggs to create the cake. They are normally baked in a loaf tin and drizzled with icing sugar or a sugar glaze and then served in slices. This lemon and poppy seed pound cake has a base of gluten-free flour and ground almonds, but although almonds become high FODMAP at servings of over 12g, this cake yields a total of 12 slices which keeps the FODMAP quota low.

I’ve fancied making a lemon cake for quite a while because I think it’s a lovely fresh summer cake, but I hadn’t really found the time to do so. However, the other day I discovered some beautiful flowers in the garden that I knew would look stunning on top of a lemon and poppy seed pound cake.

Now, I know we shouldn’t pick wildflowers, but when I saw that I had some cornflowers growing in my garden as a result of a bee-friendly wildflower seed mix I’d optimistically thrown down at the start of the summer I couldn’t resist picking a few flower heads to scatter their beautiful azure blue petals over the top of this cake. I’d also picked a handful of plump, ripe blue-black blackberries as I was walking home the other day which I thought would be a lovely taste contrast to add to the cake. (Exercise caution when using edible flowers and only use them if you’re absolutely certain about the variety you’re using. A comprehensive list of flowers which are safe to eat can be found here.)

After I’d taken the lemon and poppy seed pound cake out of the oven and let it cool down I drizzled it with icing sugar, scattered the cornflower petals over the top and plonked the blackberries on. Needless to say, that evening after dinner we enjoyed a generous slice of the lemon-infused cake that married wonderfully with the sweet, tart blackberries. Long live summer!

Ingredients:

140g ground almonds

1 tbsp poppyseeds

100g gluten-free flour

2 tsps baking powder

1/2 tsp bicarbonate of soda

1 tsp xanthan gum

150g sugar

120ml vegetable oil

2 eggs

2 tsps lemon extract

120ml rice milk

2 tsps lemon juice

For decoration:

Icing sugar

Dried cornflowers

Method:

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

Line a two pound loaf tin with greaseproof paper. (I buy these greaseproof loaf tin liners and they make life so much easier!)

In a large mixing bowl, mix all of your wet ingredients together and then mix in the dry ingredients.

Once it’s all combined, pour your cake batter into the loaf tin, smooth it out and bake it in the oven for around 50 mins to an hour. Don’t worry if it needs a little longer. (You’ll know it’s baked when a skewer pushed into the middle comes out clean.)

Once it’s baked, let it cool on a cooling rack.

Make some icing by mixing icing sugar with a little water at a time until it just coats the back of a spoon. Once your cake is cool, drizzle it with some icing sugar and add any decoration you like. Serve.

Lemon and Poppy Seed Pound Cake by The Fat Foodie

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Chicken and Feta Filo Bake

Chicken and Feta Filo Bake by The Fat Foodie

I always enjoy pastry, particularly when it’s used in savoury dishes, so when I recently started playing with filo pastry in my recipes it really opened my eyes to future meals I could make, such as this chicken and feta filo bake.

Filo pastry is, quite frankly, a weird type of pastry. It’s composed of a very simple pastry dough which is rolled and stretched until it creates sheets of pastry which are so thin they feel like a sheet of paper and you can almost see through them, but when filo pastry is baked it takes on a beautifully crisp texture which wraps your chosen filling in a thin parcel. I’d roasted a chicken on Sunday and had loads of meat left over so I decided to use it along with feta, cheddar and spinach in this filo bake.

I’ve yet to find anywhere that sells gluten-free filo pastry, so this isn’t a gluten-free recipe and it contains feta cheese and cheddar so it’s not dairy-free either, but it’s important to remember that the FODMAP-friendly diet isn’t necessarily a gluten-free or dairy-free diet. You only need to avoid those triggers during the initial exclusion phase and then, after that, only if they specifically cause you issues or you’re allergic to them. Also, I used a harissa paste which was free of garlic, but many pre-made harissas contain it so exercise caution. It’s quite easy to make harissa yourself though, but you could easily use chilli paste or red pesto instead.

I guess if I was being totally honest, I’d have to admit that this recipe came about because I had a number of things which needed used up in the fridge, such as cooked meat, cheeses and vegetables, but it is such a tasty meal I can guarantee I’ll deliberately make this again pretty soon because the whole family really enjoyed it. Also, the beauty of this filo bake is that you can make this yourself with any fillings you fancy too.

I made my chicken and feta filo bake with leftover pieces of tender roast chicken, cubes of sandwich ham, some grated cheddar, cubes of tart feta cheese and diced baby tomatoes, fresh spinach leaves and a generous topping of chopped chives, all of which was complemented by a spread of spicy, hot harissa paste over the filo before baking. It came out of the oven hot and crispy and bubbling with melted cheese. I served it simply with sliced, dressed cucumber slices and I’d have to describe it as divine.

Ingredients:

270g filo pastry (my Jus-Rol pack contained 7 sheets)

200g feta (cubed)

350g cooked chicken (sliced)

80g diced ham

130g cherry tomatoes (diced)

120g spinach leaves

90g jar of harissa spice paste

60g chopped chives

150g grated cheddar

Vegetable oil (for brushing)

Method:

Preheat your oven to to 180°C/160C Fan/350F/Gas Mark 4 and have a large non-stick casserole dish at hand.

Lay out your sheet of filo pastry so the longest edge is beside you and spread a thin layer of harissa (or chilli paste or red pesto) on it.

Add your toppings, but remember that you have to fill 7 sheets of filo so you’ll need to try to fill them equally.

Filling the Chicken and Feta Filo Bake by The Fat Foodie

Roll up your filo sheet into a sausage shape before lightly brushing it with vegetable oil and forming it into the shape of a snail-like spiral and placing it in the casserole dish. (Don’t worry if the pastry splits. It won’t affect the taste.)

Repeat with the rest of the filo sheets.

Bake in the oven for around 25 mins or until the filo is golden brown and crispy. Serve with a fresh salad.

Chicken and Feta Filo Bake by The Fat Foodie

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Palmiers

Palmiers by The Fat Foodie

My friend came for lunch the other day and in advance I’d taken some ready-rolled puff pastry out of the freezer to make us a quiche lorraine. However, after it had defrosted I unrolled it and, upon getting a lovely waft of butter scent, I remembered that it was actually a sheet of Marks and Spencer’s all-butter puff pastry. Now, as much as I like my friend who was coming for lunch, I couldn’t bear to waste this beautiful pastry on a simple quiche. As a result, I made the quiche lorraine with a homemade thyme pastry crust and devoted the all-butter puff pastry to making a batch of palmiers instead.

If you don’t already know, palmiers are French pastries that are made from sheets of butter-enriched puff pastry and coated in sugar before being folded (or rolled) from each side into the middle to create the distinctive shape of a palmier. A popular variant of palmiers are arlettes, which are essentially the same thing, but have cinnamon added to their sugar topping and are rolled into flat discs before baking.

Palmiers have to be one of the easiest biscuits I’ve ever made, mainly because if you buy a batch of all-butter puff pastry then most of the work is done for you. It’s literally just a case of rolling out the pastry, scattering it with a little water and sugar (and cinnamon, if you fancy) and then rolling it up before cutting it into slices. You can’t get any easier than that!

I made these palmiers with normal puff pastry (i.e. not gluten-free or dairy-free) because I knew that by only having one I wouldn’t suffer any ill-consequences, but you could make them with gluten-free puff pastry if you like. I’ve never seen an all-butter gluten-free puff pastry before though, so if you’re going to use the gluten-free pastry you might need to add a bit more sugar and cinnamon to help add flavour to the palmiers. If you do that and find they still don’t hit the spot I’d drizzle them with melted dark chocolate. They’d be awesome!

If you make these palmiers you’ll be rewarded with a batch of flaky, butter-enriched pastries which crumble and fracture into sweet shards of butteriness in your mouth while infusing it with a delicious blend of crisp, caramelised sugar and warm cinnamon flavours. These went down a treat in my house. I wonder how long they’ll last in yours?

Ingredients:

1 block of all-butter puff pastry (mine weighed 320g)

80g caster sugar (plus a little extra)

1 tsp ground cinnamon (optional)

Method:

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

Line two baking trays with greaseproof paper.

If you’re using the cinnamon, mix it into the sugar.

Roll out your puff pastry until it’s a large rectangle and lightly wet it with a little cold water.

Scatter half of the sugar over the pastry and spread it until it’s even.

Turn the pastry over, wet it again, and scatter the other half of the sugar over it and spread it until it’s even.

Take the left and right sides of the pastry and fold them into the centre of the pastry so the two sides meet in the middle. Repeat once again and then fold the two sides together so that a large sausage shape is formed.

Turn the pastry horizontally and cut it into 1 cm thick slices before lying them on the baking trays with a generous gap between each palmier.

Scatter them with a little more caster sugar and then bake them in the oven for 12-15 mins or until puffed up and golden brown.

Leave on a cooling rack to cool slightly before eating.

Palmiers by The Fat Foodie

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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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