While there are still a few weeks to go – at the very least – under some form of  lockdown due to the Covid-19 pandemic, it’s high time we shared a few recipes with everyone.  So here we have three CAST Café classics.  None of which should prove too tricky, and all of which we hope might bring a little extra pleasure into your homes, as well as inducing a little anticipation for a first visit back to us once we’re able to reopen!

Chickpea pancake
Inspired by Farinata, which originated in Genoa and is a common snack along the Ligurian coast from Nice to Elba, this versatile savoury pancake is ever-popular when we serve it in the café. Serve with curry, a hearty ragout or, as pictured, griddled asparagus, fried egg, confit tomato, goat’s cheese sauce and wild garlic pesto. Or anything else that comes to mind!  The key is to make the batter the day before and leave to ferment overnight, which will add bubbles, and enhance the cheesy, umami flavour.

Ingredients (to make approx. 5 pancakes)
150g chickpea or gram flour
500ml water
2 tbsp extra virgin olive oil
1/2 tbsp salt
1 tbsp oil per pancake to fry (your choice of frying oil – we tend to use pomace olive oil)

Add the flour, water, salt and two tablespoons of oil to a medium mixing bowl and whisk together, not worrying too much to get rid of all the lumps – the flour will absorb the water over time and the lumps dissipate.
Cover the bowl with a lid or clingfilm and leave to stand at room temperature overnight, or for at least 12 hours before cooking.
Just before frying, whisk thoroughly to create an even batter.  Heat one tablespoon cooking oil in a medium sized frying pan and add approximately 120ml of batter per pancake (about two thirds of a standard soup ladle).
Fry on a medium heat for 4 to 5 minutes on each side.
Be patient and don’t try and flip the pancake too soon – they take longer than you might think to cook through and become stable.

Mushroom & cashew nut loaf
This recipe comes from an old Cranks recipe via Dom’s mum, tweaked only slightly to make it vegan, and it forms the basis of our meat-free Sunday roast option (pictured above), served with braised red cabbage, cumin-roast carrots, garlic & chilli-sautéed sprouting broccoli and sun dried tomato salsa.  You can serve the loaf however, and whenever, you like, and it can be happily snacked on cold, served like a mushroom terrine, for example.

Ingredients (to make one loaf baked in a one and half pound loaf tin)
250g finely diced onion
250g finely chopped mushrooms (portabella or chestnut work well)
2 tbsp cooking oil (you can use 30g butter here instead if you don’t need to make it vegan – and you like butter!)
1 tsp dried thyme
1 heaped tbsp yeast extract
250g ground cashews (use a food processor to work whole cashews or cashew pieces to a fine crumb)
125g breadcrumbs (you can use gluten free breadcrumbs here without the loaf becoming noticeably more crumbly)
1 vegan egg (1 tbsp ground linseed – use a spice grinder or pestle & mortar – mixed with 3 tbsp water and left to stand for a few minutes), or 1 egg if you don’t need to make it vegan
salt and pepper to taste

Grease and line a one and a half pound loaf tin with baking parchment.
Fry the onions and mushrooms in the cooking oil or butter in a medium to large pan, reduce to a gentle heat, add the thyme and cover, leaving to soften for 15 to 20 minutes, stirring occasionally.
Take off the heat and stir in the yeast extract, followed by the breadcrumbs and cashews, until all is well combined.
Taste and then adjust the seasoning to your preference.
Add the linseed egg, or hen egg, and work the mixture well.
Spoon the mixture into the prepared loaf tin and pack down firmly.
Cover with foil and bake in a preheated fan oven at 190 degrees C / Gas mark 5  for 60 to 75 mins, or until the top and edges are beginning to darken.
Leave to firm up in the tin for 10 minutes before serving, or you can reheat individual slices in the oven for approximately 10 minutes if serving from cold.

Orange, ginger and chocolate cookies
These deliciously chewy cookies are a mainstay of our countertop sweets. Based on a Ruby Tandoh recipe, they’re pretty easy to make, and vegan.  The pieces of ginger add a nice fiery hit.  You’ll find a few different brands of crystallised ginger on the market, each with its own level of fieriness, so you can make these a few times to find the ginger that suits you!

Ingredients (to make 16 cookies)
150g light brown soft sugar
50g syrup – agave, maple or date can all be used here, or just plain old golden syrup
60ml oat milk (or any other milk you care to add)
90ml olive oil (hemp, rapeseed, sunflower or vegetable oil all fine as substitutes)
1 tsp vanilla essence
210g wholemeal spelt four (plain white or wholemeal wheat both fine as substitutes, but any wholemeal is preferable for flavour, texture and nutritional reasons!)
1/4 tsp bicarbonate of soda
100g dark chocolate chips (do check for any dairy content if you need to make these vegan)
100g crystallised ginger, chopped into small pieces
grated zest of 1 orange

Grease and line two standard baking trays (370x270mm) with baking parchment, preheat oven to 180 degrees C / Gas mark 4
In a medium mixing bowl, whisk together the sugar, syrup, milk, oil and vanilla essence until well combined.
Sift the flour and bicarb into the wet mixture and work together until just combined (overworking will result in a less chewy biscuit)
Fold in the chocolate chips, crystallised ginger and the orange zest, again being careful not to overwork the mixture.
Spoon out the mixture in even, golfball-sized amounts onto the baking trays, with two rows of four on each tray.
Bake in the preheated oven for 13 to 15 minutes, switching the two trays between shelves half way through to help ensure an even bake.
Allow to cool for at least an hour if you can, as the chocolate chips can remain molten for longer than you might think…