Cooking for my  family’s ‘special needs’

As I write this Easter Monday storm Katy is raging outside bringing wind rain & even snow!

We have a large extended family & at all major holidays & birthdays we always have a big family dinner with myself & my sister in law sharing the cooking duties. We have always had to consider food intolerances as my brother in law suffers from cheese & chocolate induced migraines,  recently my husband has been diagnosed with gluten & dairy intolerance & one of our boys has become vegan!

For Easter Sunday I was on dessert duty & As you can imagine thinking of desserts that cover all needs has been tricky, gluten free flour is ok but I find it too dry so often use flourless cake recipes – a favourite being the whole orange & almond cake see Here – there are lots of variations, it’s very simple to make & is gluten & dairy free. Another favourite is Nigella’s Lemon polenta cake also gluten & dairy free.

Finding vegan desserts is a little more difficult – fruit salad being the obvious choice but a little boring. Yesterday I tried something amazing, vegan meringues made from the waste liquid in a can of chick peas!

OMG it actually works – whisked, it has enough protein & starch to become a direct replacement for egg whites. It is a total revelation & I can’t wait to try making mousses & cakes without eggs!

My first attempt – a little flat – I probably should have added the sugar more slowly but I will be experimenting with this a bit more to make the perfect vegan pavlova. I also made a lovely vegan lemon cream/curd using coconut cream to go with these meringues – both recipes from Vegan Lass – hers look much better than mine! No one could believe they were made without eggs.

We make homemade hummus all the time so chickpea water is in abundance here- lots of experimentation to come:)

I need to continue to add more vegan dessert recipes into my repertoire so that I don’t make ‘special’ desserts just yummy ones that everyone wants to eat!


Autumn Means Chutneys & Pickles


 I love homemade chutneys & pickles, & have just made a couple of different ones.

I used up the last of the courgettes in a picallili style  mustard relish, & as we all love spicy food I made a tomato, red pepper & chilli chutney. These are both quite easy – if a little messy & it is much easier if you have a food processor for all the grating. The quantities are approximate as I just used what I had leftover to use up.

Sterilise jars & lids by washing in dishwasher – or v hot water – then place on a tray in a warm oven for 10 minutes. Fill while both jars & chutney are still warm, put lids on, & as the chutney cools it forms a vacuum which creates an airtight seal.

Courgette Relish

I used 2 Large courgettes & summer squash (patty pan) – about 1.5 kg before preparation.

One onion & one pepper (I used red for a bit of colour).

500ml white wine or cider vinegar

200g sugar

1 .5 teaspoon dry mustard powder

1 teaspoon crushed mustard seeds

1/2 teaspoon turmeric

1/2 teaspoon ground black pepper

1/4 teaspoon chilli flakes (optional)


Deseed the squash & grate or thinly slice (no need to peel)- mix together with the onion & pepper, sugar, vinegar & spices in a large saucepan.

Bring to the boil & cook until veg is just cooked but still a little crunchy.

Mix a tablespoon of cornflour with a little cold water into a paste & stir into the pan & cook for a minute or two more to thicken the sauce.

Spoon into clean sterilised jars while still warm, put lids on & store in a cool place for a couple of months before eating.

Red Pepper & Chilli Chutney.

This is a bit of a cheat – using a large jar of roasted red peppers.

1 lge jar of roast red peppers.

1 onion

1 eating apple

A courgette or marrow

Some fresh tomatoes – I used whatever I had leftover  but you could use tinned tomatoes if necessary.

(You need about a kilo & a half of veg to 500mls vinegar so add whatever you like to make up the weight)

500 mls white vinegar (I used cider)

125g sugar

Either fresh or dried chilli to taste – I used 3 jalapeño red chillis, seeds & all, but a teaspoon of dried would be ok.

Chop up all the veg fairly small & add to a pan with all other ingredients , bring to the boil & simmer until thickened & reduced, this can take a while so keep stirring occasionally to stop the chutney burning or catching on the bottom of the pan. You could use a slow cooker without the lid for this bit. 

When nice & thick (remember it will thicken more on cooling) spoon into sterilised jars & store for 2-3 months.

Both of these are delicious with cold meats & cheese & make perfect homemade Xmas gifts.