Rhubarb & Apple Traybake (Gluten Free, Vegan, Dairy Free, Egg Free)

If you hadn’t noticed from all my tweeting and nudging and hinting...I’ve got a new book out!!  I’m so enormously proud of this (as I was my first) and I really, really hope you all love it too.  The emails, comments and messages I’ve had over the last few years have been incredibly inspiring and touching too.  I really hope that if I have done just a little to make living life with food intolerances just that bit easier, then I have done something of some value and if you can cook my recipes and then share them with your friends and family then I have achieved what I set out to.  Truly, thank you if you bought the first book and (ahem) thank you too for buying the second!  If you need any further incentive, then here’s a little bit about it...

Free-from Food for Family and Friends is cookbook dedicated to delicious gluten, dairy, egg, soy and yeast free recipes, and I when I say free-from I mean that every single recipe in this book is free from all of those foods.  For those that are new to my work I aim to show you how delicious free-from food can be.  I believe that embracing your food intolerances is the best thing you can do for both your mind and body.  Once you have moved past the struggle of feeling unwell and adjusting your diet, you will begin to feel healthier, happier and to realise the abundance of foods you can eat.  I promise you that there is not one recipe, dish or meal that cannot be adapted, created or bettered by making it intolerance friendly and this book aims to show you how.

My first book was divided into seasons, to show the natural and fresh abundance of foods available to us.  I still firmly believe in cooking by the seasons and cannot encourage you enough to look in your local markets and greengrocers to see what’s fresh and plentiful, but I also understand that day-to-day life is not always so simple and that family, work and increasingly fast pace of live can leave you with less and less time to cook.  But I also believe that cooking and eating is a bonding experience – a time for friends and family to come together which is why Free-from Food for Family & Friends is about food for all of the family, to enjoy at any time of the day, any day of the week and every day of the year.  From lazy breakfasts to quick lunches, al fresco summery food, fireside suppers, weeknight eating, family favourites, decadent and proper puddings and then celebratory food for the weekend, this book has it all! 

To get your taste buds going here’s a little treat from the book; I’m yet to make this without it disappearing almost straight from the oven, the roasted rhubarb lends a fragrant tang that balances out the almost caramel crust sweetness of the cake, made light and fresh from the apple puree baked within it.  It makes a wonderful afternoon indulgence with a pot of tea and friends and family, but you could also happily serve it as a homely pudding, a pouring of custard or a scoop of slightly tart coconut yoghurt (as seen here) to accompany it.  I shall leave that up to you but I promise both book and bake are a delight to behold!


Makes 12 squares

You will need a 8 inch square baking tin for this recipe


200g golden caster sugar, plus 2 tbsp extra for roasting the rhubarb

100g apple puree

125ml sunflower oil

1 tsp vanilla extract

225g gluten free self-raising flour

1 tsp baking powder

400g rhubarb

 Preheat the oven to 180c and line the baking tin.

Trim the ends from the rhubarb and cut into 1 inch pieces.  Place on a roasting tray, scatter over the sugar and roast for 15 minutes until tender but still holding their shape.

Place the apple puree, sugar, oil and vanilla extract in a large mixing bowl and beat together until smooth and combined.  Sift in the flour and baking powder and fold into the mixture until you have a smooth and thick batter.

Spoon the batter into the baking tin and smooth into the corners, levelling the top with the back of a spoon.  Scatter the rhubarb evenly over the surface of the bake and, using your fingertips, gently press the pieces down into the batter a little.  Bake for 45 minutes until golden and fragrant.

Remove from the oven and either serve warm with coconut yoghurt or custard, or leave to cool completely in the tin before cutting into squares.







Spiced Carrot Rice with Creamy Almond 'Yoghurt' (Gluten Free, Vegan, Dairy Free, Egg Free)

Carrot and rice really doesn’t sound like the most inspiring of combinations yet this simple and fragrant dish really does pack a glorious punch.  Like so many recipes it is not the main staples (the carrot and rice) that make it per se, but actually what lies beneath them: the harmonious and fluid fusion of flavours and spices.  There rests the beauty of herbs and spices; a pinch of something here, a scattering there and you can transform a nice dish into a gorgeous dish with no effort on your part at all.  Plus, I’m a firm believer in eating a varied and vibrant colour palate and that goes for spices too; the mellow yellow of turmeric, the mahogany sheen of mustard seeds, the burnt gold of saffron, the terracotta red of cayenne pepper and the ruby red of paprika all give a clue as to the intensity of flavour and power that makes up their sensation. 

Blending spices is an art form and I would never claim to be an expert, but like any enthusiastic amateur I love having a crack at it.  I like to think that making a spice blend is similar to making a dressing – you need a base of flavour, something to give it body and an earthy note, then you need something slightly sweet to make it round and mellow, then find something slightly acidic, with tang to balance it out, perhaps something with a bit of kick or intense fragrance to give it a little excitement and then finally you need something that will make it smooth and creamy, to bring all of the flavours together as one.  In this case the base flavour comes from the cumin and coriander, the acidic note is found in the mustard seeds while the punch and fragrance is from the cardamom, finally the warmth and creaminess are both brought by the garam masala.  Mix that with the fried garlic, onion and ginger and you’re on to a winner.

I was lucky enough to have recently been sent a mini spice kit from the lovely people at Spice Kitchen (@SpiceKitchen) – I would implore you to buy your spices from somewhere like this rather than the supermarket, I literally cannot tell you how much difference it makes to flavour of your dishes and one teaspoon of a fresh spice is worth a whole jar of the other stuff.  I especially loved the garam masala and cardamom, they were beautifully fragrant, which is handy as carrots LOVE spice; it brings them to life, drawing out their natural sweetness and acting as a wonderful foil to their mellow, earthy tones.  This dish is a beauty and makes a glorious vegan supper; the almond ‘yoghurt’ is a lovely creamy accompaniment with a nice sharp, lemon back note to balance out the spiced carrot.  Though I should tell you I’ve made it again since and added grilled chicken thighs marinated in lime, honey, cumin, coriander and a little pinch of chilli – it works brilliantly.  This is a spring time kind of dish, still warming enough to give you energy but full of the bright, zesty notes of sunshine and warmth.  Lovely.


Serves 4

4 medium sized carrots

175g brown basmati rice

250ml coconut milk – the carton variety for drinking rather than the tinned version

250ml water

1 ½ tsp garam masala

1 tsp cumin seeds

1 tsp mustard seeds

The seeds from 4 cardamom pods

1 inch piece of root ginger

1 large onion

2 cloves of garlic

2 tbsp coconut or rapeseed or olive oil

A large handful of raisins

A small bunch of coriander


For the Almond ‘Yoghurt’

100g blanched almonds – for really creamy ‘yoghurt’ go for the Marcona variety

The juice of 1 lemon

125ml water

Place the almonds in a bowl, cover with water and leave to soak for at least 3 hours, but preferably overnight.

Roughly chop the onion and crush the garlic cloves.  Peel and grate the carrots and ginger – I recommend doing this by hand as it stops the carrots getting too soggy.  Heat the oil in a large saucepan with a lid.  Fry the onion over a medium-low heat until soft – about 15 minutes – add the crushed garlic, all of the spices, a pinch of sea salt and black pepper and the grated ginger and carrots.  Fry gently until the carrots start to soften and become glossy.

Stir the rice into the spiced carrot mixture.  Pour over the coconut milk and water, cover and bring to the boil.  Once at a boil reduce the heat to the lowest it will go and leave it to cook gently for 30-35 minutes or until the rice has absorbed all of the liquid.  Leave to rest while you make the almond ‘yoghurt’.

Place the soaked almonds, lemon juice and water into a high-powered blender and blitz, pulsing if necessary and scraping down the sides when needed, until you have a smooth and fluffy ‘yoghurt’. 

Fluff up the spiced carrot rice with a fork, roughly chop the coriander and mix it into the rice along with the raisins.  Serve the carrot rice piled high with a dollop of almond ‘yoghurt’ and a scattering of ripe and sweet, chopped tomatoes or as you please.