Chocolate Orange Carrot Muffins (makes 12)

Chocolate Orange Carrot Muffins by The Fat Foodie

I like taking cakes into work. I think it’s nice to bring something tasty into the staff room for everyone to be able to enjoy when they’re on their tea breaks and lunch. I always think that there’s something warming and cosy about having some cake available for everyone to partake in, should they choose. Let’s be honest, very few people turn their nose up at a nice bit of cake.

I bought some pretty muffin cases the other day that I wanted to test and after some consideration I settled upon the idea of making carrot cake muffins, but it didn’t sound very exciting to me so I went back to the drawing board and decided to add more flavours to the cakes and so I made chocolate orange carrot muffins instead. I’m so glad I did because they are divine!

If you want a moist cake that’s not going to dry out in a hot environment, such as a very warm staff room, then I’d heartily recommend incorporating two components: a good oil and some sort of fruit or vegetable. You can never go wrong with basing a cake around carrots or courgette because their water content works fantastically to introduce and retain moisture in cake sponge. It’s also a bonus that you can’t even taste the vegetables in the cake once they’ve been baked.

Also, although most cakes tend to add fat to the sponge base by using butter, sadly as it cooks a lot of the water from the butter will evaporate. It will also continue to evaporate the longer the cake sits waiting to be eaten too, whereas using sunflower or vegetable oil (which does not evaporate) will ensure that the fat content (and therefore, moisture) remains present even after it’s been baked in a hot oven. It’s science, innit?

Although these chocolate orange carrot muffins are gluten-free you can easily make them standard muffins by using the same quantity of normal self-raising flour and omitting the xanthan gum and bicarbonate of soda, and only using 1 tsp of baking powder. Although why not give the gluten-free version a go? They’re really tasty and you honestly cannot tell the difference!

These chocolate orange carrot muffins are gorgeous. They’ve got an incredibly soft and bouncy texture, are infused with rich, deep cocoa and have a lovely fresh zing from the orange zest. Their whipped chocolate orange buttercream frosting also does the entire flavour combination justice. Quite frankly I think I’ve outdone myself. Now, I wonder if the boss will like them enough to give me a paid day off…

Chocolate Orange Carrot Muffins by The Fat Foodie

Ingredients:

250g of grated carrots

250g brown sugar

250g gluten-free flour (I use Dove’s Farm G/F Plain Flour)

1 tsp xantham gum

50g cocoa powder

2 tsps baking powder

1/2 tsp bicarbonate of soda

250ml vegetable oil

1/2 tsp salt

3 eggs

The zest and juice of 1 orange (keep 2 tbsps of orange juice aside for the buttercream icing)

1 tsp vanilla extract

1 heaped tsp ground cinnamon

For the buttercream icing:

175g icing sugar

25g cocoa powder

50g butter (use dairy-free, if necessary)

2 tbsps orange juice

Method:

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

Lay 12 muffin cases out into a muffin tray.

Measure all of your ingredients into a large mixing bowl.

Quickly mix all of the ingredients together using an electric whisk and spoon the mixture equally into the muffin cases.

Bake in the oven for about 30 minutes or until a skewer pushed into the middle of a muffin comes out clean.

Freshly Baked Chocolate Orange Carrot Muffins by The Fat Foodie

Leave to cool and make the buttercream by placing all of the icing ingredients into a jug and whisking until light and whipped.

Once the cakes are completely cold decorate with the buttercream icing and enjoy.

Chocolate Orange Carrot Muffins by The Fat Foodie

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Mushroom Stroganoff (Serves 4-6)

Mushroom Stroganoff by The Fat Foodie

I love mushroom stroganoff because it’s a lovely light meal, but it’s also really filling and satisfying at the same time. However, every time I’ve made mushroom stroganoff in the past it’s been a traditional cream-based version and now that I’m a little wiser when it comes to avoiding high FODMAP foods I know that dairy-based stroganoffs don’t work for me. As a result, I went back to the drawing board (well, it’s more like a kitchen worktop, but the intention’s the same) and I formulated a version that’s much more tummy-friendly.

Now, the Monash app lists button, portobello and shiitake mushrooms as being a high FODMAP food if you’re sensitive to polyols-mannitol, but thankfully oyster mushroom are a low FODMAP food so that’s the type you need to use if you’re making this mushroom stroganoff. However, if you are sensitive to mushrooms in general I’d suggest either substituting the mushrooms for a vegetable that you can happily digest (such as green beans, bell peppers or courgette) or simply giving this recipe a miss. Better safe than sorry. However, if like me, you have no problem with eating small servings of oyster mushrooms then a joyous dinner awaits you!

Although this recipe for mushroom stroganoff is dairy-free it is still beautifully creamy thanks to the use of oat cream. It produces a mushroom stroganoff that is well-seasoned with sweet paprika, fresh thyme leaves and a dash of grated nutmeg, is rich and deeply flavoured with the woodland taste of oyster mushrooms, but still manages to remain light due to the inclusion of the chunks of plum tomatoes. The fresh lemon juice added at the end of the cooking process also lifts the stroganoff to make the whole dish taste fresh and vibrant. It’s a perfect quick-cook mid-week meal when simply served over a bed of fluffy long grain rice.

The Ingredients Needed to Make Mushroom Stroganoff by The Fat Foodie

Ingredients:

1 tbsp vegetable oil

100g oyster mushrooms

1 tbsp paprika (not smoked)

1 tsp fresh thyme leaves

1 tsp asafoetida powder

1/5 tsp grated nutmeg

1 tin of plum tomatoes (drained of their juice and chopped)

1 tbsp Worcestershire Sauce

1 Oxo vegetable stock pot melted into 200ml boiling water

250ml oat cream

A handful of chopped fresh parsley

The juice of 1 lemon

1 tbsp cornflour mixed with 2 tbsp cold water

400g long grain rice

Method:

Place a saucepan filled with water and 1 tsp of salt over a high heat and bring to the boil. (This pot is for cooking the rice.)

Meanwhile, place another large saucepan over a medium heat and add the oil. Once hot add the mushrooms and spices. Cook until the mushrooms are soft.

Put your rice into the pot of boiling water and cook until soft.

While the rice is cooking add the parsley, chopped tomatoes, vegetable stock, oat cream, lemon juice and Worcestershire Sauce to your stroganoff and cook until hot.

Stir the cornflour mixture into the stroganoff and allow to thicken.

Once the rice is soft, drain it and serve in bowls topped with the mushroom stroganoff.

Mushroom Stroganoff by The Fat Foodie

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Chicken Enchiladas (Serves 4-6)

Chicken Enchiladas by The Fat Foodie

I love Mexican food, but I must admit that I do tend to stick to making the same meals all the time simply because they’re so tasty. I don’t think it’s necessarily a bad thing though because it means that you can perfect your own version until the seasoning mix is just right. That’s the case with these chicken enchiladas.

I didn’t realise until I started reading into Mexican food that the word ‘enchilada’ simply means ‘to season with chilli’ and that, traditionally, enchiladas are quite simple  snacks, involving little more than a fried tortilla that’s wrapped around a plain, spiceless filling of meat, beans or vegetables (or a combination of the three).

According to Mexican food expert Diana Kennedy’s quintessential book on the subject of Mexican cookery The Essential Cuisines of Mexico, traditional enchiladas served on the streets of Mexico tend to see their tortillas fried in oil before being stuffed, but I don’t really think that’s necessary when you’re cooking at home. I don’t really like oily food so I’m quite happy to skip that step towards authenticity. Plus you’ve got a grated cheese topping that’s going to add oil to the enchiladas anyway.

Although a traditional enchilada doesn’t contain any spices other than freshly chopped chilli, I like to flavour mine with cumin, oregano and smoked paprika because it makes the whole dish much tastier. As a result, this chicken enchilada recipe yields a large casserole dish filled to the brim with soft tortillas that are stuffed full of delicately spiced tender chicken strips and slices of sweet bell peppers and is topped with a tangy tomato sauce and encrusted with golden grilled cheese. It’s simply the perfect Mexican meal.

Ingredients for the enchilada filling:

8 corn tortillas (use gluten-free if necessary)

1 tbsp of vegetable oil

1 tin of chopped tomatoes

4 chicken breasts (cut into thin slices)

1 green pepper (cut into thin slices)

1 red pepper (cut into thin slices)

2 tsps ground cumin

2 tsps dried oregano

2 tsps smoked paprika

1 tsp asafoetida powder

Ingredients for the enchilada topping:

1 tin of chopped tomatoes

1 tsp asafoetida powder

1 tsp dried oregano

150g grated cheese (or non-dairy alternative)

Method:

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

Get a large rectangular casserole dish out to cook the enchiladas in and keep it to one side.

Place a saucepan over a medium heat and add the oil, sliced chicken breasts and spices. Fry until the chicken is almost cooked.

Add the sliced peppers and continue to cook until the chicken is fully cooked.

Add a tin of chopped tomatoes and cook until hot.

Pour the other tin of chopped tomatoes into a jug and add the sauce spices and stir.

Lay a tortilla out on a chopping board and place some enchilada filling inside it before wrapping it up and laying it in a large rectangular casserole dish. (Bear in mind you’ve got 8 tortillas to fill so try to distribute the filling evenly between them.)

Chicken Enchiladas Being Filled by The Fat Foodie

Chicken Enchiladas Awaiting Their Topping

Once you’ve filled all the tortillas and they’re in the casserole dish, pour the enchilada sauce over them and top with the grated cheese.

Chicken Enchiladas by The Fat Foodie About to be Baked

Bake in the oven for about 30-40 mins or until the cheese is crisp and golden brown.

Serve with a fresh green salad.

Chicken Enchiladas by The Fat Foodie

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Slow Cooker Whole Chicken

Slow Cooker Whole Chicken by The Fat Foodie

The last time I went shopping I bought a reduced whole chicken, but when I got home I realised that I’d forgotten that I was working the following day and wouldn’t have time to cook it. Now, I’ve read before that you can cook a whole chicken in a slow cooker, but I’ve never tried it because I wasn’t sure what the results would be like. So, I figured it’d be as good a time as any to try it!

I decided to make a base layer trivet of new potatoes and carrots so that the bottom of the chicken would be protected from the heat of the slow cooker and this worked out well because the cooked potatoes and carrots went really nicely with the cooked chicken. In terms of size, my slow cooker is a 3.5 litre one and it fitted the chicken perfectly, but it wouldn’t be a problem if you had a larger slow cooker. I was a bit of a scaredy cat and added a bit of hot water into the slow cooker in case it ran dry, but to be honest I don’t think it was necessary because the chicken naturally released enough liquid and oil throughout the cooking process that it would not have been in danger of drying out at all.

The slow cooker whole chicken was a triumph and is an experiment that I’ll happily remake soon in the future. Although it didn’t have that flavour that is unique to a roast chicken, when I went to take the chicken out of the slow cooker the meat was so tender that it simply fell off the bone and it was complemented by the lovely soft new potatoes and sweet carrots. I had intended on serving it with gravy, but we ended up just having it with sharp, vinegary pickles, salty capers and sinus-burningly hot creamed horseradish. All in all, it was a delicious dinner to greet me after a long day at work and I’ll definitely be making this slow cooker whole chicken again.

Ingredients:

1 whole chicken

New potatoes (enough for however many people you’re feeding)

Carrots (enough for however many people you’re feeding and peeled & cut into large pieces)

Method:

Put your slow cooker on low and put your carrots and potatoes in the bottom.

The Base Vegetables For Slow Cooker Whole Chicken by The Fat Foodie

Place the whole chicken on top and let the slow cooker cook throughout the day.

Slow Cooker Whole Chicken Ready to be Baked by The Fat Foodie

Remove from the slow cooker and serve.

Slow Cooker Whole Chicken by The Fat Foodie

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Marrow Praline Cake

Marrow Praline Cake by The Fat Foodie

Marrows are undoubtedly the bland cousin of the courgette family. Their fairly plain taste, firm outer flesh and strange cotton wool core (which is discarded before cooking) leaves it decidedly lagging behind in the Vegetable Of The Year contest. However, for all that I’ve just disparaged the poor marrow, it acts extremely well as a carrier vegetable which can be stuffed with strong, well-flavoured fillings, allowing the flavours of your chosen stuffing to sing very loudly indeed.

I’ve always asserted that the manifesto of my website is to share my adventures in food therefore, when I spotted a small marrow for the reduced price of 15p in the supermarket the other day I thought I’d attempt to have a small adventure with the humble marrow. After looking on the internet for some advice as to how to approach cooking marrows to get the best results from them I decided to make two things with it. The first experiment was this marrow praline cake and the second is savoury stuffed marrow (a recipe which will be posted on the website soon).

Much like when I first made courgette cake, I was pretty unsure how the marrow praline cake would turn out. Would it have a strong flavour? Would the marrow flesh be too dry or even too wet for the cake batter to cook properly? And how would it work with the gluten-free flours I tend to bake with nowadays?

When I was preparing the marrow I was struck by the fact that it had a lovely fresh, grassy, peanut sort of smell and wasn’t overpowering at all. As a result, the grated marrow worked just like courgette does, adding no real vegetable flavour to the cake sponge, but still infusing it with a fantastic amount of moisture and texture. (I only used about half of my marrow for the cake. I reserved the other half to make stuffed marrow slices for dinner that night, so you probably won’t need to use the whole thing.)

This marrow praline cake is a delightfully moist chocolatey cake that’s dotted throughout with crunchy pieces of hazelnut and sandwiched and topped with a maple syrup-infused hazelnut buttercream. It’s a delight to serve, a pleasure to eat and most certainly elevates the Vegetable of the Year status of the plain old marrow.

A Marrow!

The Inside of a Marrow

 

Ingredients:

300g grated marrow

2 large eggs

80ml vegetable oil

60ml coconut oil (melted)

2 tsps vanilla extract

80 ml rice milk

200g brown sugar

150g gluten-free flour (I use Dove’s Farm G/F Plain Flour)

50g cocoa

200g chopped hazelnuts (put 150g into the cake mix, but keep 50g aside to decorate the cake)

1 tsp baking powder

1/2 tsp bicarbonate of soda

1 tsp xanthan gum

1/2 tsp salt

For the buttercream icing:

150g icing sugar

75g butter (or dairy-free butter)

1 tbsp maple syrup

1 tbsp of rice milk

Method:

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

Line two cake tins with greaseproof paper.

Prepare your marrow by washing it, cutting off the two ends, slicing it down the middle, removing the inner core with a spoon, and grating the remaining flesh. (I used my food processor for this job which made it a lot easier to grate the large amount of marrow.)

Measure all of your wet ingredients into a mixing bowl (the grated marrow, eggs, oils, vanilla and milk).

Measure all of the dry ingredients into another bowl and stir until combined.

Add the wet ingredients to the dry and mix well.

Divide the cake mix between the two cake tins equally and bake for 45 to 50 mins or until a skewer pushed into the middle of the cake comes out fairly clean. (It’s quite a moist cake anyway, so don’t worry too much if the skewer has a little moisture on it.)

Remove from the oven and leave to cool.

Once cool, blend the maple buttercream ingredients together and sandwich the cake together with half of the buttercream before topping the cake with the other half of the buttercream icing.

Decorate with the leftover chopped hazelnuts and serve.

Marrow Praline Cake by The Fat Foodie

Marrow Praline Cake by The Fat Foodie

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