Twelve months ago, I attempted to shift my treat addiction into the sugar and dairy free category. I concluded that the best Paleo pudding was a sliced apple or square of dark chocolate. Pretty dull huh? I had yet to discover anything as amazing as these sweet potato brownies. Then out of the blue we got pregnant. Yay! Suddenly, we were able to justify brownies with extra ice cream, lemon tart and any other goodies. Wait! What was that you said about butter and sugar? Okay, sure, I had a little bit. I mean, I’ve got to support Anna during the pregnancy right? Well, now the little fella is here I’m bang out of excuses. Time to get back on the sugar and dairy free bandwagon.
Now I know I’m not the first food blogger to post about these magical Ella Woodward sweet potato brownies. But when you want to unlock sweetness’s hold on richness, oh friends, please do make these brownie wonders. Those eagle eyed readers may have noticed I’ve slightly adapted the recipe. Firstly, because sourcing Medjool dates probably calls for a camel trek in Morocco. They’re pretty hard to source, so I’ve substituted them for Tunisian dates. You can get them in most health food shops. Secondly, I like my brownies to have a little bit of texture. The sweet potato makes these very creamy and adding the walnuts gives them that little bit of extra brownie like texture.
Makes 10 – 12 brownies
600g sweet potatoes
16 Tunisian dates
80g ground almonds
100g buckwheat flour
20g walnut pieces
4 tbsp raw cacao powder
3 tbsp maple syrup
Pre-heat your oven to 180°C. Peel and cut the sweet potatoes into chunks. Place in a glass bowl with a tablespoon of water, cover with clingfilm and microwave for 12 minutes. Until they’re soft and fall apart.
Add the cooked sweet potato and pitted dates to a food processor. Blend until smooth and creamy. Pre-mix the remaining ingredients and stir into the creamy mixture. Stir well.
Place the mixture into a lined baking dish and cook for about 20 – 30 minutes, until you can pierce the brownie mix with a fork and it comes out dry. Remove the tray and leave to cool for 10 minutes.
This is getting out of hand. I’m frankly becoming a little obsessed with an old copy of a Yotam Ottolenghi cookbook. I really should be out on the BBQ slow cooking some ribs and deciding if hickory or cherry wood makes it taste better. No, not me. I’m indoors gently roasting an aubergine and wondering if it’s burnt enough for the tahini yet.
The only thing is that a lot of the recipes call for preserved lemons. Now if you’ve ever tried to find a jar of this lemony goodness you’ll know you’ll need small mortgage just to purchase them. Luckily, I received an empty Kilner jar in the post for the Jam J-Art challenge and have been stuck with something to fill it with. Using a few lemons and some store cupboard essentials I found they’re fairly easy to do on your own. The only thing you’ll need to do it wait. It takes a while, but it’s well worth it.
Ingredients (makes 6)
6 unwaxed lemons
6 tbsp coarse sea salt
2 rosemary sprigs
1 large red chilli
juice of 6 lemons
Sterilize a large jar by filling it with boiling water and leaving for a few minutes. Drain and leave it to air dry, don’t be tempted to use a tea towel to dry it. Wash the lemons and cut a deep cross about halfway down each lemon. Stuff sea salt into each lemon cross and place the lemons in the jar. Make sure they’re tightly packed together. Seal the jar and then leave for one week.
Open the lid and with a wooden spoon squash the lemons down as hard as you can to squeeze out all the lemon juice. Add the rosemary, chilli and squeeze in the juice of six lemons. Then cover with a thin layer of olive oil. Make sure the lemons are covered and if needed just add more lemon juice, but not more olive oil. Seal the jar and leave for at least 4 weeks.
I had to make these a couple of times to get them just right. You either need to go with smaller lemons at the start or more lemon juice to cover them in week 2. They almost need to be swimming in lemon juice so they don’t go mouldy, which mine did. Stick with it though as they’re great for giving any recipe a little extra flavour punch.
I won’t lie. I generally feel that breakfast without some form of grain is nigh impossible. Cereal? Nope. Bagels, toast or porridge? All a big no. Growing up, our breakfast was a rotation of all of these, so it’s not like I have a deep love of all things wheat free. It’s just that I’m trying to discover a wheat free breakfast that’s still the ‘big fella’ meal of day, but doesn’t feel like I’m only consuming a glass of pulverised fruit.
This recipe is nothing new, but in my breakfast arsenal this is dish I’ve made the most that doesn’t deliver a furrowed brow. Freshly scrambled eggs with a spicy tomato salsa and crumble of feta cheese. These taco free huevos rancheros are awesome on their own, but even more magic with a couple of rashers of bacon.
Mexican Breakfast Eggs 3 large free-range eggs 1 medium ripe tomato
3 slices of pickled jalapeños (normally in a jar)
tsp of butter (optional)
tsp of feta
Make a quick salsa by roughly chopping the tomato, coriander leaves and pickled jalapeños. Season and set aside. Heat up a large frying pan with a couple of glugs of olive oil. While the pan is warming up whisk up three eggs in a bowl and pour into the pan with a teaspoon of butter. You want the eggs to be light and fluffy, so avoid scrambling and instead gently fold the eggs in from the sides. Rotate the pan as you go until you get a folded pile of fluffy eggs in the middle of the pan. Spoon the eggs onto a warm plate and sprinkle the salsa and feta over the top. Season and eat it right away.
Yes I know, where are the DIY stories? What a let down, right? Well, what can I say except that I’ve been stuck indoors wishing the rain would sod off so I can get stuck into the garden. The good news? Well it’s finally gone and I’m out of excuses.
Building our garden has taught me three important things. Firstly, if you order a skip then it becomes a beacon for any of your neighbours that you’ve never met to pop over and say ‘hello’ quickly followed by ‘do you mind if I pop this enormous item that I can’t be arsed driving to tip in there’? I’ve also discovered phantom skip dumpers, who wait until we’ve gone to bed, then ever so quietly drop in un-needed bikes, boxes and even the odd frying pan in the dead of the night.
Secondly, I’ve learnt that when visiting a timber yard it’s best not to turn up in your smart work attire. They’ll quickly figure out you’re an imposter and bamboozle you with enough timber jargon to make a lumberjack uncomfortable. Also, if they say talk to ‘Dave’ in the yard with the measuring tape, don’t assume the security guard who also has a measuring tape is called Dave….he’s not and doesn’t take kindly to being called Dave.
Finally, when navigating a trolley full of heavy plants through a nursery, beware of the Yankee candle display. It’s likely to be hidden from view, but just at the right level for you to knock it over.
Having learnt those important lessons I am pleased to say we’re done. Well almost, but at least we can now sit outside without feeling like we’re in a car park.