Coconut & date vegan frosting

Gavin WrenBaking, Basic Ingredients, Dairy free baking, Desserts, No Added Sugar, Recipes, Vegan

coconut date vegan frosting
I often make cakes that are either dairy free, with no refined sugar, or both, then finish them and think, oh, that would really benefit from something on top. What can I use? Whipped cream? No. Buttercream frosting? No. It becomes a whole new juggling act trying to create dairy free and refined sugar free frosting ideas which will sit on top and stay there, without it being utterly contrived. I could, of course, just refer to the internet, with it’s myriad answers to everything, which all vary enormously in quality and credibility. Some are good, some not so good, but you’ll inevitably find an answer that fits for you. I once found a coconut cream frosting recipe on the internet which looked fabulous on the blogs which I’ve seen it published, but was actually awful. The reason was that you need to serve it super-chilled and they omitted to…

Wholemeal Fresh Spelt Pasta

Gavin WrenBasic Ingredients, Food Techniques, Recipes, Spelt & ancient grains, The World of Food

wholemeal spelt pasta tagliatelle
I’ve made homemade pasta previously, from silky whisps of fine tagliatelle to carefully manipulated, pillowy ravioli. It’s one of those things that’s a domestic indulgence, because shop bought, dried pasta is so good and easy to cook that it’s hard to justify the time and effort required in making your own. But, in the true spirit of indulgence, it is also incredibly satisfying to make this simple ingredient and if we always chose the quickest, easiest, ready-prepared method, we might all turn into mindless zombies. Despite this previous experience of homemade pasta and the fact that pasta contains so few ingredients, it ended up quite a tricky recipe to develop. Balls of pasta, eggs shells and flour very nearly adorned the kitchen window as I tried to rationalise dryness, stickiness, toughness and splitting, so that I could explain it to you. The end result really is quite a rough (rustic?)…

Sun dried tomato pesto – pesto rosso

Gavin WrenBasic Ingredients, Recipes, Spreads & Dips, Vegan, Vegetarian

sun dried tomato pesto rosso serving ideas
A few weeks ago I posted a traditional pesto recipe and spent some time ruminating on the bastardisation of recipes. This week, I’m going to continue the pesto theme with a recipe for a delicious sun dried tomato pesto, or pesto rosso. I would love to say this is a traditional Italian recipe adhering to the specific ingredients handed down through generations by all Italian chefs, however I’m not sure that’s not entirely possible. Whilst the traditional, green basil pesto has a fairly consistent set of ingredients that are in attendance in all recipes, pesto rosso seems to be a little bit more vague and open to the whimsical tastes of the creator. There are wild variations in content and ingredients from recipe to recipe, and as they say, beauty is in the eye of the beholder, which is undoubtedly applicable to food as well, leaving a lot of room…

How to make peanut or any nut butter

Gavin WrenBasic Ingredients, Breakfast, Food Techniques, Recipes, Spreads & Dips, The World of Food

Homemade peanut butter
Peanut, or in fact any nut butter is so incredibly simple to make, it’s a joke. It’s one of those things that when you discover how it all works, you feel like letting out a Machiavellian cackle, akin to some kind of heinous villain plotting to take over the world, due to it’s fiendishly simplicity. The main ingredient of any nut butter is nuts, something I’m sure you could have guessed. However, there are no other requisite ingredients, nothing else is required to make this work. And the process? You simply blitz it all up in a food processor and you’re done. It’s also utterly non specific regarding quantity or type of nut. They all work the same and can be whizzed up into a smooth and creamy or rough and chunky peanut butter. You could make almond butter, hazelnut butter, mixed nut butter, or add spices, seeds, chocolate, salt.…

Traditional Italian pesto

Gavin WrenBasic Ingredients, Recipes, Spreads & Dips, Vegetarian

Traditional Italian pesto
There are many, many recipes on the internet going under traditional names which can only be described as bastardised. This comes in various guises, such as dairy, gluten, sugar free examples that I confess to having created on occasion, where you could argue the essence of a dish is compromised by the very removal of that element. Alternatively, people take a traditional recipe and affect some kind of alternative, contemporary slant on it, whilst retaining the hallowed name to describe it. “For instance, on the planet Earth, man had always assumed that he was more intelligent than dolphins because he had achieved so much—the wheel, New York, wars and so on—whilst all the dolphins had ever done was muck about in the water having a good time. But conversely, the dolphins had always believed that they were far more intelligent than man—for precisely the same reasons.” Douglas Adams Of course,…

How to make great labneh and avoid the mistakes I made!

Gavin WrenBasic Ingredients, Food Techniques, Recipes, The World of Food

Mango, labneh and pistachio on a plate
Do you get food obsessions as well? Mine are so whimsical that I can rapidly shift between favourites regularly, not hanging around too long before a new gastronomic sensation passes my nose and sucks me in. It’s like fashion, how quickly foods or flavours can become the next big thing, yet before you know it, they’re gone again. Labneh was a ‘thing’ that I’d come across in the past, so you might ask why my interest wasn’t piqued already? I’ll hold my hands up and admit the reason for this was because I had been doing it wrong. The process of making labneh is incredibly easy, you merely take a pot of normal yoghurt and strain it. Simple, non? But how you strain it is important and has a big impact on the final product. I had put my faith in the internet, but sometimes, the internet lets you down.…