Garlic soup

Garlic – in my opinion, humankind’s greatest culinary discovery. The unassuming little bulb is the start of so many wonderful dishes, or in this case, the star ingredient.

garlic soup

Garlic soup takes many forms, particularly in European cuisine. This version is loosely based on the Spanish sopa de ajo, but with the garlic roasted to bring out its sweetness, and the addition of wine to add depth to the flavour. It’s so warming and comforting on a cold winter night.

We had this soup once with eggs added and once without, and it’s just as good either way. And of course, without eggs it’s vegan. Most recipes of this type also remove the crusts from the bread, but if you use a nice sourdough or other artisan bread it does add incredible umami flavour if they’re left on. You’ll be puréeing it and the crusts will make it thicker than without, so you can adjust the consistency to your liking with more stock.

Serves 4 as a meal, 6 to 8 as an appetiser
Preparation: 1 hour for the roasted garlic;
30 minutes for the soup


1 head garlic
4 Tbsp olive oil + extra for roasting garlic
200g (about 3 cups packed) cubed stale bread
1 tsp sweet paprika
1/2 tsp hot paprika
salt and freshly ground black pepper
125ml (1/2 cup) dry white wine
1 litre (4 cups) vegetable stock
2 large eggs, lightly beaten (optional)
1 Tbsp chopped flat leaf parsley


Preheat oven to 190°C / 375°F / Gas Mark 5.

Roasting garlic method 1

Without separating the cloves from the head, pull off as much of the papery skin from the garlic as possible. Trim the top off the garlic head with a serrated knife just enough so the tops of all the cloves are exposed, place on a double layer of foil and drizzle with olive oil, about a teaspoon. Wrap the foil tightly in a pouch and put it in the oven for an hour. Let cool enough to handle, then gently squeeze the cloves out of the papery skins into a bowl and mash with a fork.

Roasting garlic method 2

Separate and peel the garlic cloves, place them in a ramekin, drizzle with oil, cover the ramekin with foil and roast for about 45 minutes. Allow to cool a little then mash with a fork.

The soup

Heat oil in a medium-large saucepan over medium heat, add bread and cook stirring occasionally until bread is coated with oil and just starting to toast, about 3 minutes. Remove some of the bread for croutons, as desired.

Add mashed garlic and both types of paprika, season well with salt and pepper and stir to combine.

Add wine and cook until absorbed, about 1 minute.

Add stock and simmer on low heat for about 15 minutes.

Use a hand blender to purée the soup until smooth. Adjust the consistency with more stock, if desired.

Optional: while stirring, slowly drizzle in the beaten eggs, then cook the soup for a further 2 – 3 minutes.

Ladle into bowls and garnish with croutons and parsley before serving.

Posted in appetizer, lunch, soup, vegan | 2 Comments

Seitan roast

Vegan, healthy, easy and ever so tasty seitan roast.

seitan roast

I seem to be amazingly late onto the roasted seitan bandwagon… We used to make seitan all the time many years ago, but it was only ever the boiled version because it never occurred to me that it could be cooked any other way! Then I spotted this recipe and the veil was lifted from my jaded boiled seitan eyes. I adapted Evi’s recipe to make a simple loaf, which we’ll be serving for Christmas dinner with gravy and roast veggies.

Serves 6-8
Preparation: 10 minutes
Roasting: 1 hour 20 minutes


1 x 400g (14oz) can cannellini beans
3 cloves garlic
1 medium onion
1 Tbsp dried marjoram
1 tsp sweet paprika
250g (2 cups) wheat gluten
1 Tbsp nutritional yeast + pinch salt OR 1 tsp yeast extract (vegemite, marmite…)
2 Tbsp tomato paste
Freshly ground black pepper
250ml (1 cup) vegetable broth
Vegetable oil for greasing


Preheat oven to 190°C / 375°F / Gas Mark 5, and oil a large sheet of aluminium foil – I folded two together.

Drain the cannellini beans and roughly chop the garlic and onion, then use a food processor to purée them together to a paste.

In a large bowl, combine the bean paste with the marjoram, paprika, nutritional yeast and salt or yeast extract, and tomato paste, and season generously with pepper. Add the wheat gluten and use your hands to combine everything, then add the vegetable broth and knead the mixture together into a soft, pliable dough.

Shape the dough into a log about 30cm (12″) long, and wrap tightly in foil, ensuring it is well sealed.

Place on a baking tray and roast in centre of oven for 80 minutes. To test, prod it with a wooden spoon – it should be firm but not hard.

Slice with a serrated knife and serve warm with roast vegetables and the gravy or sauce of your choice.

Can be made up to 3 days ahead, kept wrapped in the fridge and reheated in the oven at 175°C / 350°F / Gas Mark 4 for about 20 minutes.

The leftovers are excellent sliced for sandwiches.

Posted in burgers&patties, vegan | 2 Comments

Laufabrauð – Icelandic leaf bread

This decorative fried bread is a staple in Icelandic homes at Christmas, with families gathering together for the day they prepare it.

Laufabrauð - Icelandic leaf bread

This recipe was adapted from a few I found online, here and here and a video recipe here. There are loads of recipes and videos online. Mine are far from perfect to look at, they were a lot of fun to make!

Laufabrauð is eaten, slathered in butter, with Christmas dinner. Apparently, you are absolutely not allowed to eat them before Christmas eve, but you absolutely should fry up the offcuts (they are too dry for re-rolling) and eat them immediately as your reward for all that effort. Those offcuts were our first taste of laufabrauð and we felt supremely rewarded! 🙂

Makes 20 – 30, depending on size
Preparation: Several hours. Many pairs of hands makes for both a fun day and a lighter workload!
Note that I have reduced the baking powder in the recipe here, because mine puffed up too much – turns out when I halved the recipe I forgot to halve that bit.


500g (4 cups, spooned & scraped) all-purpose (plain) flour
15g (1 Tbsp) sugar
1/2 tsp baking powder
1 tsp salt
300ml (1 1/4 cups) whole milk
60g (4 Tbsp) butter

vegetable oil for frying


In a large mixing bowl, whisk together the dry ingredients.

Heat the milk and butter over low heat just until small bubbles appear around the edge, and allow to cool for a few minutes.

Pour into the dry ingredients and mix to combine, then turn it out and knead by hand to a dense dough.

Roll into a thick sausage and let rest for about 30 minutes wrapped in plastic or under a damp cloth.

Cut off portions – mine were about the size of a ping pong ball, but you’ll need bigger pieces for bigger rounds – and roll them out on a lightly floured surface – they should be very thin and 15 – 20cm (6 – 8″) in diameter. Trim the edges with a sharp knife or wavy pastry cutter, using a plate as a guide (I used a 15cm / 6″ saucer). Stack them between sheets of baking paper.

Decorate by cutting out patterns with a small, sharp knife. The traditional chevron design is made by cutting rows of parallel pointed cuts, folding back every second one and adhering it to the one behind.

Heat about 2cm / 1″ oil in a pan to 180°C / 355°F.

Prick the rounds with a fork to avoid blistering too much, and slide one carefully into the oil. It will sink then float up, at which point you should flip it over with a fork or something similar. They are ready when golden – it takes about 30 seconds for each one.

As you remove them from the oil, let the excess drip off then lay them on a piece of paper towel, cover with another piece and use a saucepan or wooden board to gently press it flat for a few seconds.

Continue cooking until they are all done, and stack in a cookie tin or airtight container when completely cool.

Stored in a cool, dry place, leaf bread should keep for months.

Posted in bread, icelandic | 1 Comment

Baked apples with brandy ice cream

Apples stuffed with mincemeat (fruit mince), served with a scoop of brandy spiked no-churn ice cream – all the flavours of Christmas, but lighter and naturally gluten free. And because this is such a busy time of year, the stuffing and ice cream can be prepared well ahead of time, to make your special day so much simpler.

Baked apples with brandy ice cream

After first making mincemeat (fruit mince) a couple of years ago, it quickly became something I love to do for holiday baking! Of course, you can use store bought for these apples, but I really enjoy the fact that it can be personalised by making your own. The batch I made this year varies a bit from the first batch, so I’ll include the new recipe here, to inspire you. Obviously, this recipe will make waaaaay more than you need (unless you’re stuffing enough apples to feed an army), but it makes a great gift!

Ingredients per serving

1 apple (I used Golden Delicious)
1 heaping Tbsp mincemeat (fruit mince)
1-2 tsp dark brown (muscovado) sugar
1 small cube butter, about 1cm / 1/3″

Preheat oven to 180°C / 350°F / Gas Mark 4.

Use a sharp knife to core the apples, leaving a cone-shaped well in them but keeping the base intact.

Arrange the apples snugly in a baking dish, stuff each one with a heaping tablespoon of mincemeat (fruit mince), then top with a little brown sugar and a cube of butter.

Bake in centre of oven for 20 – 25 minutes, until soft and starting to wrinkle.

Serve warm with the juice from the baking dish spooned over the top, and a scoop of ice cream on the side.

Fruit mince
Males about 1kg / 4 cups

100g (2/3 cup) diced dried figs
100g (3/4 cup) diced prunes
100g (1 cup) dried cranberries
150g (1 cup) golden sultanas
100g (2/3 cup) raisins
50g (1/3 cup) diced candied peel
1 large (approx. 200g or 7 oz) cooking apple
juice and finely grated zest of 1 medium orange
juice and finely grated zest of 1 medium lemon
150g (3/4 cup, packed) dark brown (muscovado) sugar
1/2 tsp ground cinnamon
1/4 tsp ground nutmeg
pinch ground mace
pinch ground cloves
pinch ground cardamom
100g (7 Tbsp) unsalted butter
75ml (5 Tbsp) brandy

Combine all ingredients except the brandy in a medium, heavy-based saucepan, and cook, covered, over very low heat for 30 minutes, stirring occasionally.

Remove from heat and set aside to cool completely, stirring occasionally.

Add the brandy and stir well, cover and let rest at room temperature overnight – about 12 hours.

Transfer to an airtight container and refrigerate for up to a week.

Can be processed in jars to keep in a cool, dark place for a year.

Brandy ice cream
Makes about 1 litre / 1 quart

500ml (2 cups) whole cream
1 x 397g (14 oz) can sweetened condensed milk, chilled
60ml (4 Tbsp) brandy, or to taste

In a large mixing bowl, beat the cream on medium-high speed until thick and fluffy, but not to the texture of whipped cream, 3 – 4 minutes on medium.

Add the condensed milk and brandy, and beat just until very soft peaks form when the whisk is lifted – it should have a thick, mousse-like consistency.

Pour mixture into a container, seal tightly and freeze for at least 8 hours or overnight. Keeps for three months in the freezer.

Posted in dessert, ice cream, preserves, sweet | 2 Comments

Vegan White Christmas

White Christmas is a traditional Australian treat enjoyed throughout the festive season.

vegan white christmas

The recipe usually includes powdered milk, and often includes white chocolate, and I was originally going to make the family recipe that we were treated to each year as children, but that recipe seems to have been lost. So, as I try to include at least one vegan recipe in my holiday baking routine, I decided to have a go at veganising various recipes that I found online – I have to say, this works just as well and tastes just as good!

Makes: about 60 small pieces
Preparation: 20 minutes
Chilling: about 2 hours
Note on sugar: The advantage of living in Europe is that our locally produced sugar comes from beets, and, unlike cane sugar, is not bone char filtered. If you’re not vegan or vegetarian it’s not an issue, but if you are, you need to be careful about brands. Alternatively, you can substitute coconut sugar.


125g (1 cup unsifted) powdered sugar
100g (about 2 1/2 cups) puffed rice cereal
75g (1 cup) desiccated coconut
100g (1/2 cup) glacé cherries, halved
100g (3/4 cup) candied fruit
75g (1 cup) sliced almonds
1 x 13g envelope (1 heaping Tbsp) vanilla sugar
200g (7 oz) cacao butter
200g (7 oz) coconut oil


Line a brownie pan (about 20 x 26cm / 8 x 10″) with plastic wrap and set aside.

Combine the dry ingredients in a large mixing bowl.

Using a double boiler or a bowl set over a pan of simmering water, gently melt the cacao butter. It’s slower to melt than chocolate, so just be patient.

Add the coconut oil and stir until melted.

Pour the melted ingredients into the dry ingredients and mix to combine well.

Press the mixture into the prepared pan and chill for about 2 hours, until firm.

Turn out of the pan, peel off the plastic wrap and cut into squares.

Store in an airtight container in the fridge for up to a month.

Posted in candy, dessert, snack, sweet, vegan | Leave a comment

Jólakaka – Icelandic Yule cake

This traditional Icelandic Christmas cake is super simple to make, and a thick slice (or two) is just perfect smeared with butter or jam and served with a steaming hot cup of tea.

Jólakaka - Icelandic Yule cake

Makes 1 medium loaf cake
Preparation: 10 minutes
Baking: 1 hour


115g (1/2 cup) unsalted butter, room temperature
150g (3/4 cup) granulated sugar
2 large eggs
125ml (1/2 cup + 2 tsp) milk
1 tsp lemon juice
250g (2 cups, spooned & scraped) all-purpose (plain) flour
2 1/2 tsp baking powder
1/2 tsp fine salt
100g (2/3 cup) raisins


Preheat oven to 175°C / 350°F / Gas mark 4, and grease a medium loaf pan.

Using a hand-held electric mixer, or in the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with a paddle attachment, beat together the butter and sugar until light and fluffy, about 3 minutes.

Add the eggs, one at a time and beating well after each one, then add the milk and lemon juice and beat well to combine.

Whisk together the flour, baking powder and salt, add to the butter mixture and stir until just combined.

Add the raisins and stir in gently.

Scrape the batter into the loaf pan, smooth the top and bake in centre of oven for one hour.

Cool for ten minutes in the pan, then turn out onto a wire rack to cool completely.

Store wrapped in foil or plastic, or in an airtight container, for up to one week.

Posted in breakfast, cake, dessert, icelandic, snack, sweet | 4 Comments

Christmas macaroons

Light and fluffy coconut macaroons, studded with candied fruit and enrobed in white chocolate.

christmas macaroons

French-style coconut macaroons (congolais) are made with just coconut, sugar and egg whites and flavoured with a touch of lemon zest, and are much lighter than their condensed milk counterparts. With candied fruit added to them, they are an extra delicious treat. Covered in white chocolate, they are an indulgent holiday favour!

Makes about 36
Preparation time: about 4 hours, most of which is inactive


150g (3/4 cup) granulated white sugar
200g (2 cups) desiccated coconut
100g (3/4 cup) finely diced candied fruit (reserve enough pieces for decorating)
finely grated zest of 1 small lemon
100g (3 large or 4 small) egg whites

You need to use desiccated, finely grated coconut for the macaroons, because the long strands of shredded coconut won’t shape as well. If you can only get shredded coconut, try pulsing it a couple of times in the food processor, but be careful not to overdo it or you’ll end up with flour.


In a large bowl, thoroughly mix together the sugar, coconut, lemon zest and candied fruit. I use my hands, so that I can be sure the lemon zest and candied fruit don’t clump.

In another bowl, beat the egg whites to firm peaks.

Gently fold the egg whites into the dry ingredients with a spatula until just incorporated.

Cover the bowl with plastic wrap and refrigerate for at least one hour.

Preheat oven to 150°C / 300°F / Gas Mark 2 (bottom-only heat, if possible, to prevent them browning on top) with the shelf in the middle position, and line a baking sheet with parchment.

Gently press the mixture into walnut-sized balls. This part is messy and can be frustrating if they don’t hold together, but persevere gently or you’ll crush all the air from the mix.

Place on the sheet and bake for 20 minutes.

Cool completely on the sheet – they will be too delicate to handle while hot.

White chocolate coating

300g (10 ounces) white couverture chocolate (or candy melts)

* If you’re using candy melts, there’s no need to seed, so you can melt it all at once.
* If you’re melting the chocolate in a bowl over a pan of simmering water, make sure that the bowl doesn’t touch the water, or the chocolate may scorch.
* Do not get any water in the chocolate – just a drop with make it seize beyond repair. The bottom of the bowl or double boiler will be wet with condensation, so I recommend laying out a kitchen towel on the work bench to put it on, so you don’t end up with a puddle.


Using a double boiler, or a bowl set over a pan of simmering water, or a microwave on medium power in 20 second increments, melt about 2/3 of the couverture. Remove from heat and add the remaining couverture by handfuls, stirring gently until completely melted by the residual heat of the melted couverture, and it reaches body temperature.

Using two forks to hold and manipulate them (without stabbing them), gently roll the macaroons one at a time in the melted couverture to coat completely, shake off the excess, then put them on a sheet of wax paper, top with a piece of candied fruit, then allow to set completely. If you live in a very hot or humid climate, you might need to pop them in the fridge for a few minutes to set.

If the couverture cools and thickens too much while you’re working, reheat it gently back to body temperature.

If they have large feet, you can trim them with a paring knife.

Store in an airtight container in a cool, dry place, separated by layers of parchment if not wrapped.

Posted in biscuit, candy, cookie, dessert, french, snack, sweet | Leave a comment