Black Bean Chocolate Brownie

This is an interesting recipe for deliciously moist and chocolatey brownies which uses a can of black beans instead of flour and eggs.

It’s gluten-free and, if you want to cut down on the sugar, use a sugar-free fake maple syrup, stevia or another artificial sweetener. I used honey. You could leave the chocolate chips out.

1 can black beans, drained
3 Tbs cocoa powder
½ cup nut meal (ground almonds, walnuts or whatever)
1/3 cup olive or coconut oil
½ cup honey or maple syrup
2 tsp vanilla essence
1 tsp baking powder
¾ cup chocolate chips (optional)
Extra: ¼ cup chocolate chips (optional)

Preheat oven to 180°C. Place all ingredients except chocolate chips in food processor. Process until smooth, stopping to scrape down the sides. Add chocolate chips if using, then scrape into a small square cake pan. Mine was 7 inches or 18cm. You will need to grease and line a metal pan with baking paper. I used a silicone pan which doesn’t need lining.

Sprinkle the extra chocolate chips over the top then bake for 25 minutes, or until firm to the touch in the middle. Cool then cut into squares. If preferred, make the brownies in muffin pans – it will make about 6 big ones.

Nice served as dessert with a blob of cream and some berries.

Makes 9-12 pieces

Substitutes and variations: use rolled oats instead of ground nuts; add some chopped nuts such as walnuts instead of or as well as the chocolate chips. Use 1½ cups cooked mashed sweet potato instead of the black beans.

Salmon with Green Mango Salad

You can’t buy green mangoes in the two local supermarkets I frequent. When I go to a Middle Eastern shop a bit further afield which sells them I always buy a few when they are in season. Green mangoes are a particular variety, smaller and thinner than the sweet ones. If you can’t find green mangoes, buy some very underripe ordinary ones. You don’t want soft mushy flesh, it needs to have a bite to it.

This salad is perfect without the salmon as part of a buffet. If you don’t like things too hot, leave out the chilli or use less.

Tamari is gluten-free, so it’s a good option for celiacs.

3 Tbs fish sauce
¼ cup lime or lemon juice
1 or 2 Tbs brown sugar, honey or maple syrup, to taste
2 tsp Thai sweet chilli sauce
¼ cup dry unsweetened coconut flakes
2-3 firm green mangoes
2-3 cups beansprouts
½ cup coarsely chopped coriander
1/3 cup coarsely chopped basil
3-4 spring onions, thinly sliced on the diagonal
1 small red chilli, thinly sliced (optional)
¼ cup peanuts or coarsely chopped cashews
4 salmon pieces
2 Tbs finely chopped or grated fresh ginger
2 Tbs tamari or sweet chilli sauce

Place all ingredients for dressing in a jar with a lid and shake vigorously.

Place coconut in a dry frying pan and stir fry for 2-3 minutes or until light golden. Cool. In the same pan stir fry the nuts until starting to colour ,then cool.

Peel the mangoes, cut the flesh into thin slices, then cut these into long thin julienne strips. I used a vegetable peeler to make the strips you can see in the photo. Place in a large bowl with the beansprouts, fresh herbs (saving a few of each to garnish), spring onions and half the coconut. Add enough dressing to moisten, then tip onto a serving plate. Garnish with the reserved herbs and coconut and sprinkle with the nuts.

Meanwhile, arrange salmon pieces on a shallow baking tray lined with baking paper. Preheat oven to 200°C. Mix ginger with tamari or sweet chilli sauce and spread over the top of each piece of salmon. Bake for 8-10 minutes or until cooked to your liking. I like it pink in the middle, but if you like it well done cook for 15 minutes.

Serve the salmon with the salad on the side.

Serves 4

Gluten Free Dairy Free Apple Crumble

It’s a challenge when my gluten-free, dairy-free friend comes for dinner, but I always manage to rustle up something tasty.

Everyone loves apple crumble, so if you can’t eat gluten or dairy, this one’s for you.

1 kg apples, peeled and sliced (I used cooking apples)
2 Tbs fruity olive oil
2-3 Tbs maple syrup (or honey, or sugar to taste)
1 cup almonds, blanched or with skin on, whatever you have
1 cup desiccated coconut
¼ to ½ cup sugar, maple syrup or honey, to taste
1/3 cup fruity olive oil
To serve:
Coconut yoghurt, cream or ice cream

Preheat oven to 180°C. Arrange apple slices in a large shallow baking dish. Mix in the olive oil and maple syrup.

Place topping ingredients in food processor and process until you have coarse crumbs. Sprinkle evenly over the apples. Bake for 30-40 minutes or until apples are tender and crumbs are golden.

Serve with coconut yoghurt (photo shows cream which the rest of us had!)

Serves 8

Apricot and Almond Cake

Suzanne, a fellow-subscriber to a Facebook cooking site for fans of Yotam Ottolenghi, kindly sent me this recipe.

With a dollop of thick cream it doubled as a 90th birthday cake and dessert at a celebration lunch I hosted recently. The original recipe was made in a 7 inch square cake tin and as I used a 9 inch one, I increased all the ingredients. It worked out perfectly.

The recipe uses canned apricot halves (or peaches), but I am pretty sure you could use fresh apricots, peaches or plums. As the fruit contains quite a bit of moisture I would tend towards overcooking this cake, rather than undercooking. The more cooked edges were chewy and tastier than the middle of the cake.

This cake is gluten-free and if you want to make it dairy-free use margarine instead of a dairy spread.

250g icing sugar
5 eggs
250g soft spreadable butter (or margarine)
250g shelled almonds (blanched or un-blanched)
2 x 400g cans apricot (or peach) halves (or one 800g can)
½ cup flaked or slivered almonds
1 Tbs sugar
To serve:
Icing sugar (optional)
Thick cream or whipped cream

Preheat oven to 180°C. Grease and line a 9 inch (22cm) square cake pan. Place one piece of baking paper one way, covering opposite sides and the bottom and leaving a bit extending above the cake pan to make it easier to lift the cake out after cooking. Then use another rectangle of baking paper to cover the other two sides and the base. So the base will have two layers. Spray or brush with a little oil.

In a stand mixer or using electric hand held beaters whisk the eggs and sugar until thick, creamy and doubled in volume. Add the butter and continue mixing until combined. Place shelled almonds in food processor and process until fairly fine. Add almonds to the egg, sugar and butter mixture and carefully combine. Scrape batter into cake pan and smooth the top.

Thoroughly drain the apricots and pat them dry with paper towels then arrange over the top of the cake, pushing them in slightly. Mine were small and I used 5 halves each way, 25 in total, with 3-4 left over. Sprinkle flaked or slivered almonds over the cake and lastly the sugar.

Bake for 40-50 minutes or until well risen and golden brown. Test with a skewer in the middle – when cooked it should come out clean. Cook the cake for a bit longer rather than risk undercooking it in the middle.

When completely cool lift cake from the pan onto a serving plate using the paper, then carefully peel or cut it off. You may have to leave the paper on the bottom. If liked, dust a little icing sugar over the top. Serve as it is or with cream. This cake is best served the same day.

Serves about 12

Note: if. you want to make a smaller cake using a 7 inch (18-20cm) cake pan, use 4 eggs and 200g of icing sugar, spreadable butter and almonds instead of 250g.

Potato Cakes with Smoked Salmon

Our potato crop has just started so I put these delicious potato cakes on the menu for a light lunch last weekend. They originate in Scandinavia and when we were living in Copenhagen we ordered them quite often in restaurants.

They don’t contain any flour making them gluten free, which is good news for readers who avoid eating wheat and other grains.

500g potatoes
1 small onion, grated (optional)
1 egg
Salt and freshly ground black pepper
Olive or vegetable oil to fry
To serve:
Smoked Salmon or Trout
Sour Cream
Snipped chives

Peel potatoes and coarsely grate by hand or using a 0.5cm attachment on your food processor, transferring to a large bowl of cold water as grated. Soak potatoes for a couple of minutes then drain well in a colander. Spread potatoes on a tea towel and roll up. Twist towel tightly over the sink, to remove as much liquid as possible.

Transfer grated potato to a bowl and mix in the grated onion (if using), egg, salt and pepper. Heat ¼ cup oil in a large nonstick frying pan over moderately high heat until hot but not smoking. Working in batches of four, spoon 2 tablespoons potato mixture per potato cake into frying pan, spreading into 3-inch rounds with a fork. Reduce heat to moderate and cook for 4-5 minutes, until undersides are browned. Turn over and cook for 4-5 minutes more. Transfer to paper towels to drain and season lightly with salt. Add more oil to pan as needed. Keep potato cakes warm on a wire rack over a shallow baking pan in a low oven. Leftovers can be reheated in a low oven.

Serve potato cakes with smoked salmon or trout, sour cream and chives and cracked pepper.

Makes 6-8 cakes serving 3-4