Dumpling Month Part 4 – Pumpkin and Beetroot Dumplings

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Are you guys ready for the next instalment of dumpling month? Because it’s pretty darn exciting. I swear each new flavour I’ve tried has been better than the last ones. These are possibly, *dare I say it* the best so far!

They kind of happened by accident. The other day I was roasting a pan of vegetables with vague plans of eating them for lunch/dinner/as a random morning snack, and I had a lightbulb moment. How good would these be in a dumpling?! Maybe dumpling month has got to me and sent me a little bit crazy. Maybe you’ll see me trying to squeeze all kinds of terrible things in dumplings from now on (is it just me or is nutella a fantastic idea) but luckily this time I was right!

I made a little soy dipping sauce to go along with them and they were so perfect. I had a pack of wonton wrappers in the fridge as I am still experimenting with different brands, but you could easily make your own dumpling dough from my first post.
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These are super easy to make even for dumpling amateurs like me. As long as you can use an oven and do some simple folding you’re sweet. When I was making these I had a little realisation that so many cuisines have some form of dumpling. If you rolled the dough slightly thicker and replaced the ginger and chilli with ricotta, these would be undeniably Italian tortellini. I guess great minds just think alike!

You can mix up the vegetables you put in there, and even just use pumpkin. I made these planning on putting them in a miso soup but ended up eating them all prematurely. If you wanted to do that though I bet they would be delicious! Have a great week everyone 🙂

One Year AgoCinnamon, Dark Chocolate and Berry Ice Cream Cake
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Roast Vegetable Dumplings (vegan)
1 shallot, finely minced
1 tsp ginger, finely minced
1/2 red chilli, finely chopped
1 sweet potato, peeled and chopped into big pieces
2 beetroots, peeled and chopped
1 cup pumpkin, chopped
1 carrot, peeled and chopped
salt and pepper
olive oil, to drizzle

1 packet wonton wrappers (30-40)
soy sauce
1/2 red chilli
1 shallot, chopped
ponzu vinegar
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Preheat the oven to 180C (350F). Put the chopped vegetables on a roasting tray and season with salt and pepper. Drizzle with olive oil and bake for 40 minutes, until the vegetables are soft. Mash them with the ginger, shallot and chilli and allot to cool.

Put a small spoonful of the mashed vegetables on a wonton wrapper and lightly wet the edges. Pull the top half over the bottom half like you’re folding a piece of paper, and seal all the way around. Pull one side over the other side and slightly wetting one edge, crimp it closed in a circle to make a round shape. Repeat with the rest of the dumplings.

Mix the soy, chilli, shallots and vinegar to make a dipping sauce. Steam the dumplings from fresh for about 8 minutes, or from frozen for about 15-20 minutes, until cooked through. Makes about 35 dumplings.
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Wholemeal Cinnamon and Rhubarb Muffins

optional Vegan and Sugar Free

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 I made a chocolate birthday cake for my friend recently, and I was so impressed with myself. It was a fudge layer cake with chocolate ganache and I decorated the top and everything! With little edible sugar flowers and silver drops spelling out HAPPY BIRTHDAY! I took a photo of it and snapchatted basically every single person I knew, claiming I was Lord of the Cakes and they must bow down to me. 

And then I looked at the photo more closely, and realised I’d written HAPPY BIRTHAY. Birthay. Wow. I really set myself up there. The worst part is, it’s not even the first time I’ve spelt birthday wrong on a cake. Last time I forgot the H! But last time, I was smart, and didn’t send a picture of it bragging to everyone on my contacts list. THE SHAME!

ImageI kind of made these muffins to comfort myself that I can, indeed, create something worthy of photographing and sharing with everyone. I wanted to use the last few sticks of rhubarb leftover in the fridge. They were getting quite sad and floppy in there (that’s what she said hehehehe…) and I kept picturing the delicious pairing of cinnamon and poached rhubarb I have on cereal every morning, but in muffin form. 

I looked up a basic muffin ratio on the internet, pre-sugar and add-ins like buttermilk and fruit, and decided I’d adapt it myself. I was nervous because the recipe didn’t have any sweetness in it or fruit measurements yet, and the batter came out looking clumpy and strange. But they turned out absolutely perfectly. 

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You can see from the photos how perfectly they rose and how crunchy the top layer became. I’ve adjusted the recipe I used slightly to give more rhubarb in the centre and a slightly sweeter batter, because I used almost no sweetener at all. The spices in the batter came out really sweetly and perfumed my house while they were baking. Soo good fresh from the oven. 

I talked about that amazing moment you get when you produce the perfect muffin when I made the Best Banana Muffins, and the Chocolate Fudge Vegan Orange Cupcakes. Well these are my favourite fruit filling muffins. You don’t have to fill it with fruit, you could put nutella, a chocolate ball, anything really. The muffin mix is strong enough to hold anything!

There’s no refined sugar or butter in these muffins, and the addition of wholemeal flour makes them a little healthier than the usual muffin affair. They’re still rich and a little bit naughty though! Perfect for weekend mornings 🙂 

ImageRhubarb and Cinnamon Muffins: 

200g (1.5 cups + 1 tbsp) plain flour

130g (1 cup) wholemeal flour

3 tsp baking powder

1/2 tsp baking soda

1 tsp cinnamon

1/2 tsp nutmeg

1 tsp vanilla extract

125g (1/3 cup) runny maple syrup or honey

3 eggs (or flax eggs for vegan)

125ml (1/2 cup) olive oil

120ml (1/2 cup) natural or coconut yogurt

450g (1 pound) rhubarb, cut into chunks + 2 tbsp maple syrup

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 Preheat the oven to 165C (330F) and line 10 muffin holes with papers. In a small saucepan, stir the rhubarb and honey together with a splash of water. Cover with a lid and stew until soft for 10-15 minutes, stirring occasionally.

 In a large bowl, whisk together all the dry ingredients. In a separate bowl, whisk the eggs and add in the oil and yogurt. Combine the wet and dry together, add a splash of milk if the batter is too dry. Spoon half the batter in to the muffin cups. Make a depression in the centre and put in a few pieces of rhubarb. Add the other half of batter and press down to cover the rhubarb completely. 

Bake for 25 minutes, until risen and golden on top. Eat them warm! 

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Banana Spice Cupcakes with Chai Yogurt Cream (gluten and sugar free)

 Gluten, Refined Sugar, and Optional Dairy Free

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I really want to like chai! I don’t drink coffee and this makes it slightly awkward every time someone suggests we get coffee. I feel like saying “well, ok. But I’m probably not going to get a coffee. Or pay 3.50 for a tea bag. So lets just go get ice cream instead?” But that just doesn’t fly in the real world. Chai would be the perfect solution to this! You drink your skim cap, I drink my chai latte. Everyone is happy and we are all being trendy and maybe we should make it soy. 

But when I was little I poured a huge mug of it down my shirt and had to rip it off on a busy street in India. Now the smell of it reminds me of burning skin, green polo shirts and blushing humiliation. There isn’t a particular element that I don’t like. It’s not the cinnamon, ginger, or milk, it’s the actual combination together. It just makes my skin crawl. 

Last week I was at an ice cream shop with friends and one of them ordered a scoop of chai gelato. I had the tiniest bite to see what it was like, and a strange thing happened. It wasn’t that bad. I wouldn’t have eaten the whole scoop but the coldness of the ice cream meant it was different enough from the drink that my brain didn’t go into its usual panic mode of chai? CHAI! RUN!. 

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 I thought maybe if the elements were taken far enough from the original I could actually like it. Thinking about it, each part of chai is actually really awesome. Spices like cinnamon, ginger, I use them all the time in so many things. And steamy and warm too? Yes please. 

So these chai cupcakes were born. The cupcakes themselves are gently spiced banana cupcakes that are gluten and refined sugar free, but so moist and flavoursome! The texture is so soft it’s almost like a steamed pudding, and you get the slightest hint of coconut from the flour. For those that are dairy free these cupcakes are good enough on their own without the icing, especially warmed up for breakfast. 

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But the yogurt cream! Oh my goodness. I’ve been thinking about something like this for ages and finally got around to trying it. Strained yogurt, called labneh, looks like ricotta cheese and tastes like cream cheese, but it’s way better for you. As well as this it is full of probiotics and often the level of lactose is low enough for intolerant people to enjoy as well. Here the labneh is flavoured with honey and chai spices to top the cupcakes. It is so delicious. You could eat it over fruit, as a cream on a sponge, on its own with berries, nuts, granola, anything! It’s rich and smooth and creamy and perfect. The longer you drain it the thicker it will be, but I wouldn’t go much longer than eight hours or it will get very strong in flavour. 

Once iced, it’s best to keep these cupcakes in the fridge because of the yogurt topping. However the texture of the base won’t suffer! They taste great cold too. 

If you want to try some more gluten free or healthy muffins, here are some I’ve been reading recently and getting inspiration from:

Pumpkin Coconut Muffins

Chocolate Cupcakes with Cashew Cream

Oatmeal Muffins

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Banana Cupcakes with Yogurt Cream: Adapted from Green Kitchen Stories 

70g (heaping 1/3 cup) almond flour

65g (1/2 cup) coconut flour

60g (1/2 cup) buckwheat flour

1 tsp baking powder + 1/2 tsp baking soda

1.5 tsp cinnamon

1 pinch each ginger, cloves and nutmeg ground

180g (3/4 cup) mashed banana (about 2 to 3 bananas)

2 large eggs, lightly beaten

80ml (1/3 cup) olive oil

100ml (1/3 cup) honey or maple syrup

250ml (1 cup) soy, almond or coconut milk

Preheat oven to 180C. Line 12 muffin tins with cases. Sift together the dry ingredients and spices in a bowl. Separately, mix together the wet ingredients in a large bowl. Sift over the dry ingredients and mix until well combined. Bake for 15-20 minutes, until crunchy on the outside and risen. 

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For the icing:

450g (1.5 cups) natural greek yogurt (reduced fat ok)

80ml (1/4 cup) runny honey

1/2 tsp cinnamon

1/4 tsp each nutmeg, ginger, cloves, star anise ground

optional: pinch of ground black pepper, 2 tsp raw sugar for sprinkling

In a medium sized strainer, place a clean tea towel or cheese cloth and spoon in the yogurt. Tie the tea towel around the yogurt in a bundle with a plastic rubber band. Place in the fridge over a deep bowl and drain for at least six hours, until thick. 

Mix in the other ingredients and chill until ready to use. Ice over the cupcakes evenly and either eat straight away or put back in the fridge. Sprinkle with the sugar just before serving. 

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Healthy Pear and Walnut Muffins

Gluten Free, Sugar Free, Dairy Free and Low Fat

IMG_5132The sun came out today for the first time in TWOOOO WEEEEKS!!! Dance with me friends. I took my chubby dog Louis for a walk and tried to get him to jog. He went at a great shuffling pace for about ten minutes, then just sat down in the middle of the road and wouldn’t move until I kicked him in the bum. (Gently). 

 On the way home we saw the saddest sight! In the middle of the path there was a dead possum. He was all wet from the rain and his fur was all muddy, and his face looked so peaceful! Like he was sleeping. Pour little guy. Hopefully he died of old age and is up in possum heaven now. 

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 I made these muffins here when I got home, for my mum who can’t eat gluten, dairy, peanuts, cashews, berries, or oranges. This makes baking something she can eat quite a challenge. These are made with almond flour and sweetened with big chunks of pear and honey. The only fat is olive oil, which is very good for you. They are sticky and crunchy but still light, despite being gluten free. You could experiment with apples or different spices if you want, and even maple syrup in place of some of the honey. This is a good starting recipe for a lighter type of muffin. 

IMG_5083 Pear and Walnut Muffins: Adapted from these muffins./p>

270g (2.5 cups) almond flour

1 tsp baking powder

1 pinch salt

1 tsp each cinnamon, ginger and nutmeg plus a pinch of cardamon and clove powder

3 eggs

225ml (1 cup) olive oil

225ml (1 cup) honey

2 medium-large pears, skinned and cut into chunks

a big handful of chopped walnuts (or pecans, hazelnuts or almonds)

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Preheat oven to 170C (340F). Line 12 cupcake cases with cupcake papers. In one bowl whisk together your dry ingredients. In the other whisk the wet ingredients. Stir in the walnuts and pear and spoon 2/3 full into each muffin cup. Bake for about 20 minutes. These last well for up to 4 days. 

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