Vegan savoury strudel, gf and df

This recipe was inspired by Elke’s Austrian take on a Greek spanakopita (spinach pie).  Instead of the usual triangle slices of a traditional spanakopita, she opted for the strudel “log” shape, and added loads more delicious spinach than one normally finds in these pies.
I’ve tweaked the recipe yet again by adding more vegetables to the spinach.  So it’s no longer a spanakopita but a roasted sweet potato, spinach and leek ‘strudel’!  And with a gluten-free puff pastry and dairy-free fetta; a vegan version to see how it works.
Worked a treat!

The store-bought ‘Jus-roll’ gluten-free puff pastry makes it all so very easy and quick.  And Violife’s vegan Greek fetta is delicious and a great option for anyone going vegan, or with a casein (dairy protein) or lactose intolerance.
You can steam the sweet potato cubes, definitely the healthy option, but as I was roasting a lunch the day before I decided to add the sweet potato cubes to the oven; also the pine nuts right at the end.  Less work the following day when I was playing with this recipe.


For six slices

1 packet Jus-roll gluten free puff pastry (or regular Jus-roll puff; or filo.. shortcrust, whatever you like)
400g packet spinach, roughly chopped
green part of one leek, finely sliced
3 cloves garlic, squeezed (two at the start, one added near the end)
1 large sweet potato, about 250g, cubed, then either roasted or steamed before you start your log
dollop of olive oil for a light fry and to lightly brush onto the log before baking
80g toasted pine nuts
100g Violife ‘Greek white’ (or non vegan, regular Greek fetta)


If you haven’t roasted your pine nuts, nor your cubed sweet potato, do this first.  When done put aside where no one will be tempted to have a nibble.

For the filling, pour a couple of tablespoons of olive oil in a pan on a medium heat then add the sliced leek and 2 of the pressed garlic.  Gently fry until the leek’s transparent.
Toss in the roughly chopped spinach and wilt.  Hover near the pan otherwise your delicious leafy spinach pile will vanish to an overwilted green sludge.  The same goes for the pine nuts, keep close, for if you leave the kitchen even for a moment they are bound to burn.  Hover.  Keep watch.

Add the roasted/steamed sweet potato cubes to the pan of spinach to warm through, then that last garlic clove.  Stir in the roasted pine nuts.

Wait for everything to cool before adding the crumbled fetta.

With ‘Jus-roll’ you can literally unravel it from the box and start filling it with your cooked veg, so easy.
However, if it’s too thick for your taste roll it thinner and larger.  Whatever you decide, ensure you have parchment underneath it (the paper it comes wrapped in its box), so you can easily lift the filled roll onto the oven tray.

Spoon the filling along the long side of half the pastry, leaving a clear 2-3 cms edge all around so you can seal it without the filling oozing out.  To make your log just fold over the pastry and, with water-wet fingers, press the edges closed then go over them with a fork to create a neater, tighter finish.  Brush with oil and prick the pastry, to stop a gap forming inside as it cooks.

Bake in a moderate fan oven, about 180 C degrees (c350 F), until light golden brown, approx 30 – 45 mins (depending on everyone’s unique oven.  Like us, they have personalities and might decide to take longer to colour your strudel).

Slice and serve with a leafy colourful salad, or as part of a delicious summer garden spread.

Kali oreksi! Bon appetit x


Gluten free choc-cherry celebration cake

I’ve baked this cake a number of times since the summer.  The original recipe, a single chocolate ‘Luscious’ cake, is from Naomi Devlin and it stands deliciously alone, as do all her recipes.  The list of ingredients may look busy but it’s easy, quick and delicious, three important words for anyone whisking in the kitchen.

My recipe below is a swerve from the original as I’ve been wanting to recreate a gluten-free version of a deeply chocolate-cherry cake my mum used to bake.  I also wanted a cake with stilettos for birthdays or Christmas, a two layer cake with a cherry jammy centre and/or whipped cream (here I’ve used Oatly’s dairy-free whippable).  Use two 23cm cake tins – or bake one after another if needs must.

This cake still works beautifully without the height.  The recipe below is for a single cake so just double the ingredients as per instructions for the stiletto version.  You can also do your own swerve and decide on a jam-only centre or jam and cream, up to you.
Most supermarkets sell jars or cans of pitted cherries like morello, so you don’t have to fiddle with removing the pips from fresh ones.  Saying that, I did a version with fresh cherries on top and it was scrummy, but do warn guests.

Add sprinkles of something over the chocolate topping, either sieved icing sugar or rose petals or some sugared mini holly and berries which I spied in the cake-baking section of the supermarket.  This cake is definitely going to be on our festive menu this year.

An aside about oat cream:  even though oat milk/cream contains beta glucans, which helps maintain healthy cholesterol,  Oatly cream has a similar saturated fat content to normal dairy whipping cream despite some online info saying otherwise.  Also, some blogs state the calories per 100ml are 150, however the Oatly box small print is telling me 253 calories per 100 ml.  Is it me needing glasses??

Ingredients for one cake.

Note: Double these if baking a stilletto version

120g white rice flour (brown is fine but a bit heavier)
125g plant milk – I used semi oat
55g diced butter or 45g olive oil
150g light muscovado or caster sugar
60g cocoa powder
3 tsp gf baking powder
1/2 tsp ground psyllium husk
1 tsp sea salt
1 tsp vanilla extract or 2 tsp ground cardamom
1 large egg (Naomi’s original Luscious cake suggests an egg-free version I’ve not tried, hence not here)
125g hot boiled water
One can of pitted cherries (you want to drop about 15 in each cake which leaves some over to add to porridge the next morn, or to the next cake you bake the following week.  Refrigerate and store in tight container)
Any cherry (or berry, if you will) jam for the centre
100-125 ml whipped Oatley or dairy cream

Chocolate topping:

100g dark chocolate
3 tsp butter or olive oil


Line a 23cm cake tin or two 23 cm tins if you’re baking a double with jammy/cream filling.  You can also use the same tin and bake one cake after another, not energy friendly but it works, and not everyone has two 23 cm tins!
The batter is quite runny so make sure you use tight-fitting tins and line well with baking paper.

Boil the kettle as you’ll need 125g hot water for this cake, plus a cup of your fave tea whilst you’re baking.

Place the rice flour in a heat-proof bowl whilst you heat your plant or regular mylk to almost boiling.  Pour the mylk/milk into a jug and add to it 125g boiling water from the kettle.
Pour the hot liquid into the bowl of rice flour and whisk with intention until it’s velvety smooth (Naomi D explains that by doing this you’re ‘precooking the rice to get rid of the rice grittiness.’ )

Add the butter to your hot rice mix and let it gently melt it (or gently stir in the oil) whilst you take another bowl and sieve the dry ingredients: muscovado sugar, cocao, baking powder. Add your salt and ground psyllium husks.  Now the smooth rice mixture goes into the dry ingredients then whisk in the egg and vanilla.

Pour the batter into your tin(s) and let them stand whilst you heat the oven to 180C or 350F (fan) or 200C/400F (no fan).  Whilst standing the baking powder is apparently beginning to work its wonder.

Bake for approx 35 minutes.  To see if it’s done check the edges have pulled slightly away from the tins, and a wooden skewer comes out clean.
If not leave another five or ten minutes.
My cake timings often change depending on whether two cakes are baking at the same time.  I’m also convinced seasons play a role in the making, even though the oven temperature is what it is in the baking!

With the stiletto cake, ie. double the above ingredients, and two tins, ensure your jam is spoonable by giving it a short whisk beforehand.  Spoon about 4-6 tbsp (very individual) onto one half then use a spatula to gently add the whipped cream.

For the topping, put the broken up dark choc into a bain marie with the butter or oil.  Let melt and give a gentle stir to mix – don’t overstir or it may congeal, in which case add a little more butter and briskly whisk.

I use a tablespoon to dollop it onto the top then the back of the spoon to smooth it out on top.  I do let some drips of chocolate slide down the sides… but this topping is exactly what the name says and not a siding as well 🙂

Add your sprinkles or sieved icing sugar when the topping is set – and enjoy with your favourite beverage.

Have a merry one!

Vegetable wraps

As wonderful and tasty as they are, not to mention a blessing for anyone who’s gluten sensitive or coeliac, the array of gluten free flours can at times be overwhelming.  Especially if you haven’t planned ahead and stocked up on the ones you need.  I love cooking with a variety of gf flours, have shared recipes here, but sometimes I just want to open the fridge and find an instant solution rather than start baking.  Something fresh, not ready-bought, which I can fill with salad, or delicious protein whether lentils, salmon, tofu, chicken or scrambled egg.  Quick, delicious and easy.

Cos or Romaine lettuce:

Filled lettuce leaves aren’t new in cooking but they may not be on your radar.  I love Cos or Romaine because it holds its form and therefore the contents, plus it has a delicious crunch which adds to the whole eating experience.

Here in the photo I cooked a filet of wild salmon in a fish broth, removed it, let it cool then flaked it, adding 3″ of cubed cucumber, 5 chopped cherry tomatos & radishes.  The dressing could be olive oil with lemon or a dash of apple cider vinegar but I wanted an Asian flavour, so I used juice of a lime, finely chopped lime leaf (easy to keep in the freezer),  1/2 finely chopped crushed stalk lemon grass (outer tough leaves removed), 1 heaped tsp tamarind paste, sesame oil, splash of water).
Easy to spoon into the Cos leaves and serve at room temperature.

Another time I filled the Romaine with a Greek-type salad and served it alongside the following…

Eggy Portabellino mushrooms:

We love scrambled egg with fried mushrooms, so when I saw these perfectly formed portabellino ‘cups’ in the photo below it seemed worth a try.

I filled the small ‘shroom cups with a beaten raw egg + salt,pepper,tumeric + spring onion.  A bit of a fiddle since these four tiny ‘shrooms didn’t even take a single beaten egg.

The trick to filling the ‘shrooms turned out to be filling them ‘en place’.  Put the empty portabellinos on an oiled oven tray, or matt (no heat yet of couse) then use a small jug to gently pour in the mixture.  A steady hand required, but a rewarding result.  I’ve been eyeing up lots of different mushrooms since then, looking for bigger ‘cups’!

In the end, two raw beaten eggs filled 10 small portabellinos.  Added to the plate of Cos leaves filled with a Greek-ish salad it was lunch AND dinner.
Cooking time for the shrooms with eggs was about 12-15 mins in a medium oven.  Just ‘tap test’ to ensure the egg has set.

The salad I served alongside was what I had at hand.  More chopped tomatoes, cucumber, chopped radish, avocado, cubed fetta (Violife vegan, or regular), chopped fresh fennel.  The dressing was our olive oil, lemon juice mixed with a dash of water, pepper and pressed garlic.

Wilted white pointed cabbage leaves:

Another easy wrap is to wilt cabbage leaves.  I made a very simple lentil-rice mixture to fill them.

Cook about two cups of mixed rice (black, red basmati – great texture, good fibre) in boiling water, then place a steamer attachment on top with one large cabbage leaf per person.  I usually cut away the thick end of the central vein before steaming if the cabbage seems especially tough.  You could use Savoy or Purple cabbage, any firm cabbage, although the latter has a more distinctive taste (which may improve your meal, so go for it!)  However, as the latter always reminds me of Christmas I tend to stick to Pointed or Savoy.

The leaves only need about 5-8 minutes to wilt.  Keep an eye on them as you don’t want them to overcook and tear. Remove and cool.

For speedy meals I buy Merchant cooked and vacuum packed lentils.  I mixed half the packet in the pot for the last few minutes of cooking time, to heat through. Then I added chopped fried onion, finely chopped coriander, roasted pine nuts, freshly ground pepper or a dash of dried chilli, for heat lovers.  If you have left overs it’ll keep in the fridge for a couple of days and add it to soups, to salads –  or put a few spoonfuls in some Cos lettuce leaves.