Fruit Custard Tarts (makes 4)

Fruit Custard Tarts by The Fat Foodie

Now that we’re starting to see a bit more sun on a daily basis thanks to the arrival of spring I’m finding myself more inclined to make desserts that incorporate lighter flavours, such as these fruit custard tarts. When I started eating dairy-free one of my best revelations to come from the vegan community was finding out that Bird’s Custard Powder doesn’t contain dairy. I found this really surprising, but I suppose it’s just because you expect such a sweet vanilla-based substance to be already creamy even before you add anything to it. Regardless, I’m grateful!

It feels a bit cheeky to be posting the recipe for these fruit custard tarts because they’re so easy to make, especially when I haven’t made my own custard, but they are really delicious so I figured I’d share it anyway. The pastry is very light and a bit crumbly, but I think that works very well with the sweet custard and berries.

It makes life so much easier if you bake the pastry in tart tins which have a removable base, but it’s not absolutely essential and you can just use a piece of greaseproof paper in the base to help take the pastry cases out of the tins instead. Also, don’t try to take the pastry cases out of the tins until they’re completely cold otherwise they’re more likely to break.

You can use any fruit you like in these tarts. I’d bought some raspberries and blueberries that were reduced to a ridiculously cheap price and that’s what I used, but you could make them more exotic by using coconut oil instead of butter for the pastry tarts and topping them with chunks of fresh pineapple. Whatever you choose to top them with, these fruit custard tarts are light, creamy and filled with flavour, perfect for dessert on a warm summer’s evening (or an optimistic Scottish spring night).

Ingredients for the tart cases:

70g gluten-free plain flour (I use Dove’s Farm G/F Plain Flour)

30g ground almonds

1 tsp xanthan gum

20g caster sugar

3 tbsps rice milk

40g dairy-free butter

1 tsp vanilla extract

Ingredients for the custard filling:

80g Bird’s Custard Powder

40g sugar

1 pint (580ml) rice milk

Method:

Make the custard in accordance with the instructions on the pack and set it aside to cool.

To make the pastry for the tarts, put everything except the milk into a mixing bowl and rub the butter into the dry ingredients with your fingers until it looks like fine sand.

Preparing the Dough for the Fruit Custard Tarts

Add the milk a little at a time, stirring all the while, until it forms a dough. (You might not need to use all of the milk. It can depend on the individual batch of flour you’re using.)

Preparing the Dough for the Fruit Custard Tarts

Set your tart tins out on a large baking tray and cut out two little squares of greaseproof paper for each tart that are big enough to line the base of your tart tins. (See the photo below if necessary.)

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

Put a piece of greaseproof paper in the bottom of each tart tin. Divide your dough into four and place a small lump of dough in each tart tin and mould to fit the tart tin.

Put another piece of greaseproof paper on top of the pastry and put baking beans on top.

Putting the Dough in the Tart Tins

Bake in the oven for 15 mins and then remove the baking beans and bake for another 10 mins (or until the pastry cases are golden brown). Leave the tarts to cool on a cooling rack.

Baked Tart Cases

When the tarts and custard are cold, fill each tart case with custard and top with fresh fruit. Dust with icing sugar just before serving.

Freshly Filled Fruit Custard Tarts by The Fat Foodie

Freshly Filled Fruit Custard Tarts by The Fat Foodie

Freshly Filled Fruit Custard Tarts by The Fat Foodie

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Potato Wedges

Potato Wedges by The Fat Foodie

Potato Wedges by The Fat Foodie

Fact: There’s nothing better than a homemade chip.

Second fact: Fried chips have been sold in Britain since 1854, but they’ve actually been eaten in British homes for centuries.

Third fact: Homemade chips taste way better than a frozen ready-prepared chip ever could.

Fourth fact: Homemade potato wedges are unbelievably easy to make. So, let me show you how…

I made my family lentil ragù the other night, but because I’m following the FODMAP diet (to help manage my IBS better) it wasn’t suitable for me to eat. I was then faced with the decision about what I was going to make for my own dinner. I had a bag of potatoes in the fridge (which are fine to eat for FODMAP followers) so I figured that a plate of potato wedges would go down nicely while also serving as a nice side to go with the lentil ragù the family were having.

Potatoes are packed full of vitamins and minerals. In terms of vitamins, you’re talking about getting a healthy portion of vitamin C, E and K, B6, and folate. Their minerals include calcium, iron, magnesium, phosphorus, potassium and zinc. That’s better for you than a plateful of starchy wheat-based pasta any day, isn’t it really?

I had two varieties of potato in the fridge, not for a particularly exciting reason, it was just that they were left over from two separate bags of potatoes. My point is that the blend of two varieties lent a nice variation in texture and flavour to the potato wedges because some of them were really sweet and firm whereas others were dry and floury. For such a plain plate of food, it truly was a celebration of the humble potato.

I cut my potato wedges by hand with paring knife, but you can buy really clever potato chip makers produced by companies like Lakeland which make it really easy to make perfect chips. Equally, you could use a tool such as an Easy Grip Potato Slicer which is much cheaper and would give you uniformly cut potato wedges. I’m happy with oddly shaped, non-uniform potato wedges personally though, so I’ll just stick to using a plain old knife.

You don’t need me to tell you what to serve potato wedges with, but I had mine with a tin of mackerel in spicy tomato sauce and it was a delicious meal. The potato wedges had far more flavour to them than any frozen chips I’ve ever had (even the expensive upmarket ones). If you fancy more exciting potato wedges you could add a teaspoon of smoked paprika to your seasoning before you pop them in the oven which will give them a smokey, BBQ sort of flavour. Whether you pep up their seasoning or not, these potato wedges were sweet and crunchy around the edges, but soft and fluffy in the middle, just like any good potato wedges should be.

Ingredients:

Enough potatoes for the number of people you’re going to be feeding (I normally go with around 2 medium sized potatoes each)

Sunflower oil

Salt and pepper

Method:

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

Peel your potatoes and cut them through the middle into halves and then into wedges. I normally get around 8 wedges from a medium sized potato.

Place on a non-stick baking tray and coat them lightly with sunflower oil. (Only use enough so that they’re just lightly coated because you don’t want them swimming in oil.)

Season generously with salt and pepper and place in the oven.

Raw Potato Wedges About to be Baked by The Fat Foodie

Raw Potato Wedges About to be Baked by The Fat Foodie

Once your wedges are golden brown and soft when pierced with a fork, remove from the oven and serve.

Freshly Cooked Potato Wedges by The Fat Foodie

Freshly Cooked Potato Wedges by The Fat Foodie

Potato Wedges by The Fat Foodie

Potato Wedges by The Fat Foodie

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Vietnamese Sweet Almond Curry (Serves 6)

Vietnamese Sweet Almond Curry by The Fat Foodie

Vietnamese Sweet Almond Curry by The Fat Foodie

Last night’s dinner was a variation of another helping from The Happy Pear cookbook, mainly because I still had loads of vegetables left in the fridge from the last ‘big’ shop I did and I didn’t want them to go to waste.

It was only when I was doing the dishes afterwards that I realised that I hadn’t eaten any meat at all that day and was surprised at how satisfied I felt after eating what was actually a completely vegan dinner. I think it’s easy to become brainwashed into thinking that a ‘proper’ meal can only be the ol’ meat-and-two-veg combination when, in actual fact, dishes based on beans, lentils and starchy vegetables can be just as satisfying and tasty.

Although I’m normally a fan of heavier Indian curries, such as kormas, tikka masalas and dansacs, this makes a gorgeous curry that’s got a lovely zingy fresh flavour to it, curtesy of the addition of lime juice and a couple of lemongrass stalks. The addition of almond butter was a taste revelation too. I’d never have thought of using a nut butter in a curry before, but man does it work well, adding a creamy savoury nuttiness that makes the curry more satisfying. Perhaps it replaces the tongue-pleasing fattiness that a meat, such as beef, would usually provide?

Like many other recipes in The Happy Pear lads’ cookbook you can adapt the ingredients according to what you’ve got at hand. In my case I left out the aubergine and leek they recommend and used onion and sweet potato instead.

It made a very generous quantity so we’ll be having this again for dinner tonight, although I’m sure it’ll be even tastier seeing as the flavours will have been marinating together in the fridge overnight. I’ll also be making some stuffed flatbreads to go with it, the (very entertaining) video for which can be found here.

Ingredients:

1 small butternut squash (peeled and cut into bite-size pieces)

1 sweet potato (peeled and cut into bite-size pieces)

1 red pepper (deseeded and cut into bite-size pieces)

1 onion (diced)

3 cloves of garlic (finely chopped)

1 cm piece of fresh ginger (finely chopped)

¼ tsp of chilli flakes (adjust to taste)

2 lemongrass stalks (bash them a bit with a rolling pin to release the aromatic oils)

4 tbsps. of oil

6 tbsps. soy sauce

4 tbsps. almond butter

1 400ml tin of coconut milk

1 400g tin of black beans (you could use any type of bean you fancy though)

Juice of 2 limes

2 tbsps. honey

2 tsps. ground turmeric

2 tsps. paprika

2 tsps. ground coriander

1 tbsp. ground cumin

2 tsps. salt (adjust to taste though)

½ tsp black pepper

To serve:

Boiled rice

4 spring onions (finely sliced)

Flaked almonds

Method:

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

Prepare your vegetables as per the ingredients list.

Put your squash, sweet potato and red pepper on a baking tray and sprinkle over the soy sauce and 2 tbsps. of the oil. Mix so the veg is evenly coated and spread out on the tray. Put in the oven for about 25 mins until the veg is cooked.

Put the remaining oil in a large saucepan and put on a medium heat. Add the onion, garlic, chilli, ginger and lemongrass and cook for about 10 mins, stirring every so often.

Add the coconut milk, almond butter, lime juice, honey, spices and salt and pepper and mix well before simmering it gently for 10-15 mins. Add a bit of water if you think it’s too thick.

Start to boil your rice (if you’re having it as an accompaniment to the curry).

Add the black beans and roasted vegetables (and any cooking liquor left behind in the tray) to the pan and cook for 3-5 mins more.

Drain your rice and portion out into serving bowls, top with the curry, spring onions and flaked almonds.

Vietnamese Sweet Almond Curry by The Fat Foodie

Vietnamese Sweet Almond Curry by The Fat Foodie