GLUTEN-FREE FLAX PANCAKES WITH BLACKBERRY CASHEW CREAM

I’m a bit pancake-crazy. I just love whipping up different kinds of batters, and experimenting with toppings. Having tried almost every kind of gluten-free mix on the market, it’s a toss up between Pamela’s and The Pure Pantry. The latter does a wonderful buckwheat pancake mix, which is nutty and brown. My family, however, prefer Pamela’s because it gives them more of a traditional “yellow” pancake. I always customize my mixes with healthy little additions.

So, for this week’s recipe, I used good old Pamela’s.

I’m also obsessed with cashew cream. It’s the perfect vegan alternative to cheese and cream. So, you’ll be seeing me using it in a lot of recipes.

Blackberry Cashew Cream:

2 cups of whole raw cashews (they must be raw)

Filtered water

1/2 cup frozen blackberries

1tbsp agave nectar or Xylitol

Cover the nuts with the filtered water and soak overnight. In the morning, rinse them well and place them in a high-speed blender (a Vitamix is ideal). Now, the amount of water you add will depend on how thick you want your cream to be. I think it’s best to experiment. So, first try adding about 3/4 cup water and blend really well (until thick and creamy). If it’s too thick, add a little water. You really want your cream to be the consistency of regular whipped cream. When it has reached the desired consistency, add the berries and the agave/xylitol. Blend for a further 30 seconds, or until the cream has turned purple.

Scoop the cream out into a glass container. Cover and chill for about 1 hour or longer.

Fruit Topping: 

I like to add warm fruit to winter pancakes, so in this case I added warm apples and raisins.

2 large Granny Smith apples, peeled, cored and cubed.

1tbsp water

1/2 cup raisins.

Place all the ingredients in a heavy saucepan over a low heat. Continue to stir and the apples simmer. You want them to be tender, so don’t overcook them into a mush.

The Pancakes: 

To serve 4 – 6

Pamela’s Gluten-free mix

Additions: I added 3 tbsp ground flax seed, 2 tbsp melted coconut oil, 1tbsp almond milk.

To Fry:

I always fry pancakes in raw coconut oil because it gives them a wonderful taste, and is super-healthy.

I heat about 2 tbsp of the oil in my cast iron frying pan, and when it’s bubbling away, I add the batter.

To Serve:

Make sure your pancakes are piping hot before serving. It helps to warm the plates. Serve with a good dollop of cashew cream and and spoon of the warm fruit.

BTW: The cream will stay good for 2 days in a sealed container in your fridge.

 

PEAR & BLACKBERRY CRISP

My farm box arrived last week with loads of sweet potatoes and pears. The lazy part of me was annoyed as I had to use them all up (can’t bear to waste anything,) and the creative part of me was thrilled because I had to figure out a way to make use of them that will knock-the-socks off my somewhat spoiled (food-wise,) family.

I spied some beautiful blackberries in the farmer’s market, so decided to create a really healthy crisp. I had eaten the most incredible crisp the week before when a friend took me to dinner at The Ivy in Beverly Hills – I’m quite convinced that it must have had cups – in the plural, of butter and sugar in it though – so I created a healthier version.

Blackberries and pears are a wonderful marriage and remind me of being back in England when both fruits are in season.

Pear & Blackberry Crisp

5 large organic pears, peeled, cored and cut into large cubes

2 baskets of organic blackberries

4 tbsp agave nectar

1/4 cup water

1 cup wholewheat flour

1 cup rolled oats

4tbsp Earthbound coconut spread or equivalent of vegan marge or butter

1/2 cup ground flax seeds

1/2cup unsweetened shredded coconut.

1/2 tsp salt

1 cup packed brown sugar

1 cup applesauce

1tbsp brown sugar

Pre-heat oven to 375 F

Place the fruit, water and agave in a heavy saucepan and simmer on a low heat for 15 minutes or until the pear is tender. Transfer fruit to a deep baking dish.

Combine the flour, oats and salt in a large bowl. Rub in the coconut spread or butter until you have a crumbly breadcrumb texture. Mix in the sugar, flaxseeds and coconut. Finally stir in the applesauce making sure everything is well combined.

 

Add the topping to the fruit. Sprinkle the remaining brown sugar on top and place in the oven for 35-40 minutes or until the fruit is bubbling and the top is lightly browned.

BLACKBERRY & SOUR CREAM SCONES

My second favorite berry in the world is the blackberry – raspberry takes 1st place for sure, but I’ve cooked so much with raspberries in the past 14 days, that I want to give the lowly blackberry a whirl.

Blackberries remind me of growing up in the bucolic English countryside. Late August, the “bramble “ bushes lining the country lanes are loaded with these little gems. As little kids, we’d take off “brambling,” which is basically blackberry picking, and we’d come back stained from head to toe with nothing for mom to cook with. Oh by the way, my mom makes and exquisite Bramble Jelly, which spread generously on an English muffin is heavenly – I’ll get the recipe from her and give it a go when I get back from the UK late August.

Anyway, I managed to find a large basket of organic blackberries at the grocery store and since I had a pot of sour cream that needed using up, I knew just the recipe.

You’re going to get to realize that I’m sort of obsessed with flours and love to combine all kinds of flours in just one recipe. I reined myself in with these scones as I want my daughter to love them, and too much whole wheat, or other fancy grains don’t do it for her.

She likes things to look white! She had a friend over for a sleepover last night and the friend asked if I could make pancakes this morning. Lola (my daughter,) almost have a fit – “NOT my mom’s pancakes peleeeeze..they’re all brown and heavy and sometimes she puts this yucky green stuff (that would be hemp powder,) in them!!” Well that was a bit humiliating in front of the friend, and so I marched into the kitchen determined to make the most brilliant white and processed –looking pancake I could. I used unbleached flour, lots of sugar (don’t own white sugar or that would have gone in,) a ton of baking soda to make them rise high, and finally I packed them with chocolate chips. My husband took one look in the pan and was appalled, “you’re not going to let them have maple syrup with that are you?”, he enquired.

“You bet,” I replied, stacking them high as I could. I wasn’t going to be the mom who makes “gross” pancakes! Needless to say, they went down very easily and Lola turned around on her way out of the kitchen, “wow mom, you can make a normal pancake, who would have known!” Grrrrgh – little madam.

Anyway, I digress – the flours I choose for these scones were Spouted wheat (nutty,) and unbleached – so they wouldn’t be too heavy for madam.

They turned out delicious – so delicious, especially served with a dab of unsalted butter while still warm. Unlike a coffee shop style of scone, which is heavy and way too large, I used my husband’s late grandma’s wonderful old cookie cutter to create dainty little scones.

Blackberry & Sour Cream Scones

1 1/2 cups unbleached flour
1 ½ cups whole wheat or spouted whole wheat flour (if you want a really white scone, just use all unbleached flour.)
1 tbsp baking soda
1/2tsp salt
8 tbsp cold, unsalted butter
¾ cup of raw sugar
1cup blackberries
1cup sour cream

Pre-heat oven to 325 F

Place the flours, salt and baking soda in a medium bowl and combine well.

Add the butter and use your fingers to “rub” it into the flour until the mixture resembles large crumbs.

Mix in the sugar. Roughly chop the blackberries and use a potato masher to smoosh them into the mixture. Add the sour cream

This is where it can get messy. You need to use your hands to squish the mixture into a sticky ball of dough and sticky it will be! Do add a little more flour if it’s too sticky.

Roll it out on a floured surface and use a glass or a cookie cutter to cut out your scones.

Place the scones on a baking sheet covered with parchment paper and place in the oven for 15 minutes or until lightly browned on top.

The best time to eat them is when they are still warm. Split in half and dab with a little butter. They are also great at room temperature. They will keep in a sealed container for up to 4 days.

 

 

3 Berry Pastie

My grandmother used to live in the Lake District in Northern England (AKA Cumbria.) Her cottage was in a tiny hamlet called Applethwaite, which was nestled at the foot of a beautiful heather-covered mountain called Skidaw – the 4th highest in the British Isles.

We’d get a lot of mileage out of this little -known fact as kids, because how many of our friends in my school back in the South of England had climbed the 4th highest mountain in England in less than 1 hour!! (total exaggeration.)

Her little white cottage smelled of old books, beeswax furniture polish, and lilacs. Granny would go down to the basement with her coal scuttle every morning and haul it back upstairs piled with shiny, black lumps of coal. I can just see her kneeling down on an old towel as she brushed out the powdery ash from the night before into a large piece of newspaper, and re-set a fresh fire for the day.

Granny made everything from scratch – everybody did. There was no such thing as a supermarket or convenience food. She lived opposite a sheep farm and next door to a cow farm – so she was more than sorted for meat and dairy. She grew many of her own fruits and veggies, including raspberries, blackcurrants, redcurrants and even rhubarb.

We’d go stay with granny for two glorious Summer weeks annually. Everyday was spent poking around in shallow, icy brooks, climbing mountains, swimming in deep, green lakes. We’d come home exhausted to granny’s comfort food. She cooked the simplest of dishes, but perfectly: salty boiled ham with buttery mash, and creamy parsley sauce; and Shepherd’s Pie with bright green peas fresh from her garden. The most memorable dessert was one of granny’s “pasties”. In Cumbria they didn’t call them pies or pastries – they called them “pasties” (Pah-stee) Granny’s pastie was made with either rhubarb, gooseberries, blackcurrants or a mix of raspberries and redcurrants. Unlike many of the deep dish fruit pies we are used to nowadays, with their sickly/too sweet filling, Granny’s pasties were the perfect mouthful of light buttery pastry and slightly tart fruit. She always served it with thick double cream – which is like a thicker version of heavy whipping cream. This cream was unadulterated (raw,) as it came from the Ray’s farm next door.

Cut to Los Angeles!! Our farmer’s markets are overflowing with the most gorgeous stone fruits and organic berries right now, so I thought I’d have a go at Granny’s Pastie. My mom remembers exactly how she made it – no recipe of course. I made it yesterday ostensibly to take to a dinner party, but I was so greedy that I couldn’t let it out of the house, and had to rustle something totally different up for the party. Late last night when we came home, we all sat around the kitchen table late and ate an enormous slice of pastie each, covered with whipped cream. Actually, as I like to avoid too much dairy, I ate mine with a fake cream product (vegan,) called Mimiccreme. Not as sublime as whipped cream I have to admit, but a good nutty-tasting substitute.

Granny’s 3 Berry Pastie

Flaky Pie Crust

1cup whole wheat flour

1cup pastry or unbleached all-pupose flour

1/2tsp salt

1tsp sugar

1 ½ sticks of unsalted butter, cut into chunks

About 4 tbsp ice cold water

I like to “rub” the butter into the flour by hand. So place the flour and butter in a medium bowl and set to work. It’ll only take 5 minutes and is really therapeutic.

 

When you have a mixture, which sort of resembles “crumbles”, mix in the salt and sugar.

Then add the water and with your hands smoosh the mixture into a smooth round ball/disk. Pop it in a sealable plastic bag and place in the fridge as least one hour prior to using.

Flour a surface or large wooden board and roll out the pastry. As you are using a whole wheat flour, it may crack a bit at the edges as you roll it out, but no worries because you’ll be cutting the edges off. When you’ll rolled it out to a size that is clearly bigger than the round baking tin, carefully roll it around rolling pin to help transfer it to tin and unroll over the tin. Push the pastry into the tin and use excess around the edges to patch up holes.

The Filling

4cups mixed berries ( I used raspberries, blackberries and blueberries)

1/4 cup all purpose flour

3/4cup brown sugar (I used Coconut Palm Sugar, which I love – from Whole Foods.)

Mix all the filling ingredients in a bowl, making sure flour doesn’t clump. Transfer this mixture into the pie dish.

Roll out the remaining dough for the top of the pie. Cut two slits in the top and glaze the pie with a milk or egg wash.

Place in the oven for 45 minutes or until golden brown.

You can either eat it hot, room temperature or cold – all 3 work. I recommend keeping it out of the fridge if you are eating it the next day, as the pastry will stay light and buttery.