Thursday, 18 December 2014

Festive Goodies 2: Cherry Vanilla Vegan Fudge

An i-pad is not the only kind of tablet you can give at Christmas.., no-one will most people will not be disappointed if you make this easy, tablet-like* vegan fudge; it would make a great home made Christmas gift or addition to your festive spread! Sweet and crumbly, it is more-ish and probably won't last long, so make sure you hide some for later...

*Tablet is a traditional Scottish sweet that is cooked to be more brittle and grainy than fudge.
320g soft light brown sugar
300ml soya milk
50g coconut oil
50g cacao butter
2-3 tsps vanilla essence
1/3 cup glace cherries, chopped
  • Melt all the ingredients except the vanilla and cherries in a large and sturdy pan, over a gentle heat.
  • When the sugar has dissolved, bring to a rolling boil. Stir constantly to avoid burning the mixture for about 15-20 minutes, until the fudge has darkened and seems to be pulling away from the sides of the pan. Test that it has reached the "soft ball stage" by dropping some into iced water. If it holds together in a soft ball, the fudge is done. Cook slightly longer than this for tablet.
  • If you want a more fudge-y and less tablet-like sweet, stop boiling it sooner. But make sure it still holds together in the iced water, or you'll end up with caramel sauce. (Too long, however, and you'll get chewy toffee.)
  • Remove the pan from the heat and beat for 3-5 minutes. Then stir in the cherries and vanilla and spread the mixture out into a dish lined with oiled baking parchment.
  • Now this is the hardest part: waiting for it to set before you cut it up and eat it!

Thursday, 4 December 2014

Ingredient of the Month: Brussels Sprouts

Bright green and fresh, Brussels sprouts resemble miniature cabbages!
This month Brussels Sprouts are in season in the Northern Hemisphere and all over the UK people are racking their brains to make them more appealing to serve up on Christmas Day, so what better time to feature them here? Love them or hate them, you have to admit the nutritional profile of these leafy green little beauties is pretty impressive so it makes sense to eat them regularly while they're available. We were blessed with kids who actually like Brussels sprouts, but I remember disliking them myself until I reached my teens so I do understand the need to disguise their slight bitterness somewhat. Personally, though, I think if you choose smallish, fresh-looking bright green sprouts ideally sold still attached to their stalk and use them as soon as possible after buying, they taste a whole lot better. (But forget frozen sprouts. Let's not even go there, please. Yuck!)
The Brussels sprout has been grown in Europe in some form or other since Roman times, and the first modern sprouts were recorded in the 13th century in what is now Belgium, hence their name. They belong to the family of cruciferous vegetables, which also includes the super-nutritious kales, cabbages, broccoli and collards. During the 18th century French settlers took them to the USA, but the main growers these days remain Holland, Germany and the UK.
Health and Nutrition:
Like all the cruciferous vegetables, Brussels sprouts are really, really good for you: they contain sulphoraphane, a potent anti-carcinogen. Steaming and stir-frying does not destroy this, but boiling does. Amongst many other vitamins and minerals, Brussels sprouts are particularly rich in Vitamin K, Vitamin C and iron. Look here for some more info on this amazing family of vegetables. 

We posted a recipe for Brussels sprouts with a maple syrup glaze a couple of years back- check it out here. What's your family-friendly, go-to way of cooking them?