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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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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Chocolate Orange Biscuits

Chocolate Orange Biscuits by The Fat Foodie

After giving it a great deal of thought I feel ready to announce that I’ve came to the conclusion that I definitely prefer biscuits over cake. I know it’s bold and don’t get me wrong, I love a slice of good cake, but there’s that lovely unbeatable crunch that is present in a decent biscuit that is lacking in cake (unless it’s a terribly baked one!).

One of my standby baking ingredients at the moment is dark chocolate because it’s naturally dairy-free and FODMAP friendly. I think it lends itself to being used as a biscuit topping because it’s really easy to use and the flavour complements so many different types of biscuit. In my mind, one of the best partnerships in the sweet area of the culinary world is that of chocolate and orange, with the dark, rich silkiness of the chocolate providing a wonderful counterfoil to the fresh zestiness of the orange oil. Divine.

This chocolate orange biscuit recipe is really quick and easy to make and produces little crispy biscuits that are a doddle to top with melted chocolate. The inclusion of custard powder and a little bit of cornflour ensures that they have a good crunch, but still have a bit of crumble to them. I used a triangular cookie cutter which gave great results, but you can cut them out into any shape you like.

The real struggle lies in waiting for the dark chocolate to cool and harden on the biscuits before you eat them. I’ll bet you can’t.

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

The grated zest of 1 orange

1/2 tsp vanilla extract

1 tsp orange flavouring

1 tsp orange juice

1 tsp xanthan gum

1/2 tsp baking powder

200g dairy-free dark chocolate (for the topping)

Method:

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

Line two baking trays with greaseproof paper.

Melt the coconut oil and butter in a microwavable bowl.

Add all of the other ingredients and mix until a smooth dough is formed.

Chocolate Orange Biscuit Dough

Roll out the dough onto a floured work surface and use the triangular cookie cutter to cut your biscuits out and place them on the baking trays.

Chocolate Orange Biscuit Dough

Chocolate Orange Biscuits About to be Baked by The Fat Foodie

Bake the biscuits in the oven for 12 to 15 mins, or until they are golden brown.

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

Freshly Baked Chocolate Orange Biscuits by The Fat Foodie

Once the cookies are cold, melt the dark chocolate in a bowl in the microwave (stirring very frequently so that the chocolate doesn’t burn).

Generously spread the chocolate over the cookies and leave to harden before serving. Or dive right in and get your chin and fingers covered in melted chocolate. It didn’t happen to me, you understand, it was a friend one time…

Chocolate Orange Biscuits by The Fat Foodie

Chocolate Orange Biscuits by The Fat Foodie

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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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Dark Chocolate and Ginger Oaties

Dark Chocolate and Ginger Oaties by The Fat Foodie

Dark Chocolate and Ginger Oaties by The Fat Foodie

I made Anzac Biscuits a wee while ago and, although they were lovely, they were the thickness of a flapjack and I wanted to make these dark chocolate and ginger oaties thinner so that they were more like a biscuit. Oats are very FODMAP friendly and most people love baked oats, so it made sense to me to base a biscuit recipe on them.

Oats are really good for the body. They’re a great source of protein and fibre and are full of vitamins and minerals, such as iron, B vitamins, calcium, magnesium and zinc. Oats are also excellent for helping to lower levels of bad cholesterol in the blood due to their soluble fibre content, thus reducing the risk of heart disease. They’re all round good guys, really.

Although I’ve just written about how healthy oats are, I must confess that aside from my morning bowl of porridge, I really love oats baked as biscuits. There’s something about the flavour of a toasted oat that lends itself well to being incorporated within a crunchy little sweet biscuit. They also have the wonderful ability to complement the flavour of certain spices, such as cinnamon and cardamon, but none more so than within these dark chocolate and ginger oaties.

These dark chocolate and ginger oaties are crisp and sweet, but with the added deep flavour profile of the dark chocolate drizzle on top. They’re unbelievably easy and quick to make and keep in the biscuit tin for at least a week, if not more. It all depends on how much you can resist their tempting call.

Ingredients:

1 1/2 cups of gluten-free oats

1/2 cup of desiccated coconut

1/2 cup gluten-free flour (I use Dove’s Farm Gluten Free Plain White Flour)

1/2 cup coconut oil (melted)

1 tsp vanilla extract

1/4 cup sunflower seeds

1/4 cup pumpkin seeds

1 tsp xantham gum

1 chia egg (1 tbsp chia seeds mixed with 3 tbsp cold water and soaked for 1/2 an hour)

1/2 cup dark brown sugar

1/2 tsp salt

2 tsps ground ginger

100g dark chocolate

Method:

Soak 1 tbsp of chia seeds in 3 tbsps of cold water for half an hour.

Preheat your oven to 170C/150C Fan/350F/ Gas mark 4.

Line a baking tray (if you’re making individual biscuits) or a baking tin (if you’re making one large bake and then cutting it into squares, like I did) with greaseproof paper.

Melt the coconut oil and then put all of the ingredients into a large bowl and mix to combine.

Form into individual balls (about golf ball size) and then place on the baking tray and press them down slightly so they form a little patty, or if you’re baking it as a whole, tip the mixture into the baking tin and press it down.

Dark Chocolate and Ginger Oaties About to be Baked by The Fat Foodie

Dark Chocolate and Ginger Oaties About to be Baked by The Fat Foodie

Bake in the oven for 25-30 minutes until the biscuits are golden brown.

Remove from the oven and, in the case of the individual biscuits, leave to cool. If you’ve made one large bake, then leave it in the baking tray, but cut it into squares while it’s still warm.

Once your oaties have cooled down a bit, melt the dark chocolate (I just do this in the microwave, but I stir it very frequently so that the chocolate doesn’t burn). Drizzle over the oaties and leave to set.

Dark Chocolate and Ginger Oaties by The Fat Foodie

A Tray of Dark Chocolate and Ginger Oaties by The Fat Foodie

Wait until the biscuits are totally cold before removing from the baking tray.

Dark Chocolate and Ginger Oaties by The Fat Foodie

Dark Chocolate and Ginger Oaties by The Fat Foodie

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