leannecookingforthefamily

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No cows allowed

My husband has just drawn my attention to something I’ve forgotten to mention so far in my recipe posts … none of them contain ‘actual’ milk.  So I thought that might be worth writing about.

I suffer from various food intolerance and my husband’s stomach can’t seem to tolerate any dairy products so we use alternatives in our every day lives: soya milk and vitalite are the main ones.

Most people turn their noses up at soya milk, but it’s usually because they’ve had the sweetened type rather than the non-sweetened.  We like any supermarket branded value/smart price ‘Unsweetened Soya’ at 59p a litre.  You can stock pile it in your cupboards and never run out!  And it has plenty of calcium and vitamin D so your bones will be happy too 🙂

Don’t get me wrong, I do love my Dolce Gusto coffee machine which uses cow’s milk, and a hot piece of toast with real butter on top is delicious (even if it gives me a rash!), but for cooking purposes – whether it’s for cakes or white sauce for lasagne – vitalite or dairy free sunflower spread works just as well.  I use it to grease the cake tins and for the ingredients themselves.  I guess butter icing should be called ‘vitalite icing’ in our house!

So if you look back at my 5 recipes so far, whenever I’ve listed milk or butter, I’ve always substituted them for the soya or sunflower alternative and the results are just as delicious.

When I’ve made birthday cakes for friends and I know we are going to be eating some of the cake with them, I don’t tell them it’s dairy free until they’ve eaten a slice – they always say they never would have known as there’s no difference at all in the flavour or texture of the cake.

When we first started using soya milk I was frightened that I’d never be able to have my favourite yorkshire puddings any more as I didn’t think soya milk would work the same magic as cow’s milk – making them rise and go crispy on the top yet be nice and stodgy at the bottom.  How wrong I was: just look at this picture of when I made us a roast dinner last Sunday:

A trick I learned from a friend of mine is to use a deep muffin tray.  This seems to keep them stodgy.  And they rose really well – always have a very hot oven and use very hot oil my husband’s always telling me.  I’d better not put the rest of my husband’s Yorkshire pudding tips or he’ll tell me off for giving away his family secrets!  I don’t think generations in the past would ever have used soya milk but it really works if you can’t tolerate milk.

I hope this post is useful both to those who struggle with dairy products like us; and for those who are lucky enough to eat everything with no problems, this may be helpful if you have any ‘dairy intolerant’ friends or family if you never know what to make for them when they come over for dinner.  The answer is to make exactly the same as you, just with a couple of alternative ingredients, safe in the knowledge they’ll work the same way as the real thing.

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‘5 a day’ burger

If your children (or grown ups!) are not keen on vegetables  – or even if they are – this is a winner of a recipe.

The burgers taste a little like falafels, which A and my husband love – so you could even adapt the recipe and make them in ball shapes as well as burger shapes.  A very versatile set of ingredients!

To me, when I see  the vegetables cooking in the pan (see pic below), I feel a bit sad that they’re going to be blended up and lose their vegetable-good-looks, but their delicious flavours are all still there, just mixed with other yummy ingredients.

This is based on a recipe from BBC Good Food website, here are the ingredients:

2 tbsp olive oil

2 leeks, sliced

200g mushrooms, sliced

2 large carrots, peeled and coarsely grated

1 tbsp cajun spices (or any spices you particularly like)

1 tbsp soy sauce

300g can kidney beans, drained and rinsed

200g (about 4 slices) granary bread, torn into pieces

burger buns, lettuce, tomato and other burger favourites

 

Instructions:

1) Heat 1 tbsp oil in shallow saucepan/large frying pan on medium heat.

2) Tip in all vegetables, seasoning and soy sauce.  Cook, stirring occasionally for 10 mins until soft.

3) Tip into food processor with the kidney beans and bread, season, and blend to a thick paste.

4) With wet hands (otherwise you get sooooo sticky!), mould the mixture into burgers approx. 1.5cm (half an inch) thick and 6cm (2 inches).  If  you’re not cooking them straight away or have too many (as I always do!), they will keep in the fridge for 2 days or in the freezer stacked between greaseproof paper for 2 months.

5) To cook, heat oil in a frying pan and fry for 2-3 mins on each side until crispy.

The photo really doesn’t do them justice, but as I’m not a photographer for any well known burger selling establishments, I think I can get away with it.

I currently have a stack of these sitting in the freezer waiting for a day where I haven’t had time to prepare a meal from scratch, or just a lazy day!

They go well with potato wedges and taste great with some sweet chilli sauce on the burger.  This is one of the few meals A will eat every last morsel of and then try to finish off ours too if we’re not quick enough!

 

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A few words about me …

Hello, I’m Leanne.  I’m married with a beautiful 20 month old daughter.  I work 2 days a week and during the rest of the week I enjoy cooking, baking, stewing, steaming … any kind of ‘food-ing’ to be honest!

I wanted to create a space where I could make a note of the best recipes I’ve used, put photos of any particularly aesthetically pleasing creations and inspire other mums or anyone needing ideas for good, healthy, fresh meals or cakes (the cakes may not be so healthy mind you!).

When my husband and I both worked full time we just prepared whatever food we could be bothered to make when we got home from work and only made fresh, made-from-scratch meals when we had friends or family over or at weekends.  This has all changed since having a little daughter to feed – making sure she has all the nutrients she needs to grow up strong and healthy is very important to me and my husband.

As well as nourishing my daughter, there are other reasons I have started enjoying preparing food more and more at this stage of my life …

Being at home 3 days a week I am sure I am not alone in feeling I want to show my husband how much I appreciate him going to work all week so I can be at home with A, so I love preparing fresh, tasty dishes I know he’ll love to tuck into when he gets home from work.  I get a real sense of satisfaction when he raves about what I’ve cooked for him!  This makes me want to make more and more different dishes for him.

I also love baking cakes for friends’ and relatives’ birthdays.  Last year I made several cakes for people’s birthdays – the main one being a fairy toadstool cake for my daughter’s first birthday.  My mum used to make brilliant birthday cakes for me as a child and I really appreciated the effort she went to, so I want to do the same for my daughter.  I’m not too good at decorating yet but hope to get better as time goes on!  This year I have decided to make a cake for all my close family and friends (well, those we’ll see around their birthdays anyway – don’t think Royal Mail can be trusted with posting a cake!).

The food I cook is not usually of my own creation I have to admit.  I use recipes from the various celebrity chef books we’ve collected over the years or from online recipe websites or television programmes.  So whenever I’ve used other people’s recipes I’ll be sure to quote the book/website/tv show used.

I hope people find this blog useful and please let me know if you try any of the recipes – and post photos too! :o)

I would also really like to get any new recipes, so please let me know any great ideas of recipes you have tried and have worked well (bearing in mind I’m allergic to cheese and chocolate – yes I know, awful things to be allergic to!).

Right, I’m off to make some veggie burgers and potato wedges for dinner, one of my husband and daughter’s favourite meals!

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