Saturday, 25 April 2009

Afternoon tea      
Hot cross buns, or I could call them raisin buns, since Easter has passed. Anyway, they are delicious. I've never made bread until a few weeks ago, but I'm gradually gaining confidence. This recipe is based on one from the Waitrose site. The weirdly shaped bun in the picture is because I tried cutting a cross in the top just before baking. However, the knife wasn't sharp enough, and it just deflated the poor thing.

Hot Cross buns

450g strong bread flour
1 tsp salt
3 tsp  spices e.g. a mixture of cinnamon, grated nutmeg, ginger, ground cloves, ground allspice
30g caster sugar 
9g Allisons dried yeast 
250g Dried Mixed Fruit
50g butter
250ml milk
1 medium egg, beaten

2tbsp milk
2tbsp water
2tbsp sugar

Heat the milk until tepid, sprinkle in 5mls sugar and the yeast. Leave 10-15 minutes until the yeast froths, then add the melted butter.
Sift the strong flour, salt and 3 tsp mixed spice into a large bowl to lightly combine the ingredients. Add 50g sugar, the yeast mixture, and the beaten egg to the flour mixture. Stir thoroughly to form a soft dough.Turn out onto a lightly-floured work surface and knead for about 10 minutes until smooth and elastic. (I do the mixing in a Kenwood, then use the dough hook to knead for 7-8 minutes.)Turn the dough out onto lightly floured work top. Gently knead in the dried fruit. Weigh out 95g dough for each bun and shape each piece into a ball.
 Then place onto the lightly greased, large baking sheets, making sure that there is space between each of the buns. Cover with clean, damp tea towel or lightly-oiled clingfilm. Leave to prove in a warm place for about 1-1½ hours, until doubled in size.
Preheat oven to 190°C, gas mark 5. Bake in the oven for 15-20 minutes until golden brown in colour.
Meanwhile, prepare the glaze. Place the milk, cold water, and sugar in a small pan and heat gently for 2-3 minutes, stirring until the sugar has dissolved. When the buns are cooked, transfer them onto a cooling rack and brush the glaze over each one twice. Allow to cool.

Vegetarian tonight

Croustade which is breadcrumbs and nuts with flavourings made into a base and baked. The topping was cauliflower in a nutmeg flavoured white sauce. The topping was quite delicate in flavour. When I've made croustade before, the topping has been a robust flavoured ratatouille, or courgette bake.

from Vegetarian Kitchen by Sarah Brown

110g flaked almonds
110g grated cheddar
175g fresh wholemeal breadcrumbs
1tbsp chopped parsley
1 clove garlic, crushed
2tbsp olive oil

Mix all the ingredients and press into a lightly oiled baking tin 28x13cm. Bake for 15 minutes at 180 degC.

For the cauliflower topping I made a basic bechemel sauce flavoured with nutmeg, a spoonful of mustard and grated parmesan. Like a lot of my cooking, I don't measure the quantities. So, I put about 30g butter into a pottery bowl. I put the bowl in the microwave for 2 minutes to melt the butter, I then mixed in enough flour to make a stiff paste and dried this for 1 minute in the microwave. I then whisked in some milk, heated for 2 minutes and whisked again. I continue this process adding enough milk to make a thickish sauce. all this is done in the microwave. Towards the end I add the mustard and cheese. The cauliflower had been separated into florets meanwhile and cooked in boiling water. The cooked cauliflower was mixed with the sauce and put on top of the croustade.

Sunday, 19 April 2009

Veal curry, carrots and peppers, boiled rice

450g cubed veal
1 large onion, chopped
2tsp mild curry powder
2 tsp chicken stock powder
1tbsp tomato puree

Brown the cubes of veal in olive oil. Take out of pan, then put the onion in and allow to soften. Stir in the curry powder. After a minute, put the meat back in and add water to cover. Add the stock powder, bring to a simmer and cook for 60-90 minutes. Serve on a bed of rice.

Friday, 17 April 2009

Filled omelette, potatoes in curried tomato sauce

This omelette is another good way to use up small amounts of leftover vegetables such as cabbage, broccoli or potatoes. Today I had some mushrooms that needed to be used.


5 eggs, lightly beaten with salt and pepper
mushrooms, sliced then sauteed in a little corn oil
handful leftover cabbage, chopped
1 onion, chopped then sauteed
grated parmesan or cheddar cheese

In a large frying pan cook the onion. While this is cooking turn on your grill unit. Add the mushrooms and cabbage to the frying  pan. Turn the heat up and pour in the beaten egg and the cheese. Stir all well together, turn the heat down to medium and cook for about 3 minutes. The mixture is too thick to cook through without burning the bottom, so I finish it off under the grill. It is ready when it is set and the top golden.

Potatoes in curried tomato sauce

1 onion, chopped
14oz tin chopped tomatoes
1tsp curry powder
potatoes cut into about 1" cubes
2 ice cubes double cream (I pour cream into ice trays and freeze)
greek yoghurt

Soften the onion in a little oil. Stir in the curry powder then the tomatoes. Bring to a simmer and add the potatoes. Cover pan and cook for about 17-25 minutes, depending on the variety of the potato. When potatoes are cooked stir in the cream and yoghurt to taste.

Wednesday, 8 April 2009

Pork in tomato sauce with gremolata, risotto

A lot of my cooking I look at what we've got, then plan the meal. Today we have lots of parmesan; so risotto. But what to have with it? No chicken thighs in the freezer. Along the road at the butcher I settle for cubes of pork leg. There is also tomato sauce left over from last night.

Pork in tomato sauce

500g cubed pork leg
medium sized onion
2 sticks celery
2 medium carrots
4 tbsp dry cider
200mls tomato sauce

Dry the cubes of pork and brown in a little olive oil. Remove from the pan. Cut up the vegetables and reduce almost to a puree in a food processor.  Put the puree in the same pan and cook gently for 10 minutes. Put the pork back in, turn up the heat. When the meat is sizzling pour in the cider and let evaporate. Add the tomato sauce, turn down to a simmer, and cook for about an hour. For serving, sprinkle over the gremolata. This really perks up the flavours.


6 sprigs parsley, chopped very finely
2 cloves garlic, crushed
Finely grated zest half a lemon

Mix all together.

Simple tomato sauce

1-1/2 tins chopped plum tomatoes, (14oz size tin)
1 medium onion, peeled
30g butter

Put all ingredients in large pan. Put the onion in whole. Bring to the boil, turn right down and simmer for about an hour. Discard the onion before serving.


200g arborio rice
1 small onion chopped
1 tsp chicken stock powder
2 tbsp dry cider
grated parmesan

Use  a large frying pan. Soften the chopped onion in a little olive oil, the add the rice and saute for a couple of minutes. Add the cider and let evaporate. Add the stock powder and enough hot water to cover the rice. Stir, keep the rice mix at a simmer, and as the water is absorbed add more water. It will take 15-20 minutes and is cooked when there is just a slight bite left in the rice grains. Take off the heat and stir in parmesan to taste.

Monday, 6 April 2009

Homemade pizza tonight, green salad.

Delicious pizza, not cooked by me; green salad which I thought I'd liven up with soy sauce and balsamic vinegar. But; a bit too much soy sauce, too salty.

The gaps in this blog are either we've been away, or, more commonly where we've not felt like cooking and have cobbled together leftovers or something from the freezer. Even so, very little of our food is bought in ready prepared.

Sunday, 5 April 2009

High tea today, Banana loaf and cheese scones

My brother and his family round for tea today. This is always a challenge in producing something nice but not too familiar. I decided to use up some over ripe bananas and adapted a recipe from the Waitrose site. The recipe was fruity banana loaf, but I decided not to use any fruit or lemon. Instead, I mixed in pieces of milk chocolate.

Banana loaf

200g self-raising flour
3 large bananas, very ripe
2 large eggs
125g caster sugar
100g unsalted butter, softened
100g milk chocolate(I used the co-operative Fairtrade Milk chocolate) 

   Preheat the oven to 170°C. Line the base and sides of a 13cm x 23cm x 7cm (900g) loaf tin with baking parchment. Cream the butter and sugar until they're well blended. Break in an egg and beat it into the mixture completely, then beat in the other egg. Mash the bananas and add them to the mixture. Stir well. Sift the flour into the bowl and carefully fold in. Mix in the milk chocolate cut into small pieces. Scrape the mixture into the prepared tin and gently level the top with the back of a spoon. I decorated it with more rounds of banana.   Bake for about 1 hour, but check the cake after 50 minutes. It's ready when you can insert a knife into the middle and it comes out completely clean. Leave the cake in its tin to cool on a wire rack for 15 minutes, then turn it out of the tin and peel away the paper. 

Cheese scones 
from Waitrose site

Scones are very simple and quick to make using store cupboard ingredients. You can have a batch of warm scones on the table within half an hour. The main thing to remember is that the dough needs very light mixing and it should be soft, much softer than pastry. In fact it is better to have the dough a little too soft rather than too dry. Also, it is important to place scones into a hot oven to cook so that they can start rising straight away. Preheat your oven for a good 15 minutes. Scones are best served the day they are made, ideally warm from the oven, but can be reheated for a few minutes, if necessary. Alternatively, freeze in an airtight container for up to three months.

Cheese scones Makes: 8 to 10

300g self raising flour ( 1.5 tsp baking powder if only plain flour)
75g butter 
75g grated mature cheddar cheese
150ml milk
1tsp mustard
ground pepper

Preheat the oven to 200°C. Sift the flour into a mixing bowl. Cut the butter into small squares and add it to the flour. Mix the butter into the flour until all the pieces are coated, then rub in, using your fingertips, until the mixture resembles fine breadcrumbs. Lift the mixture to incorporate air and keep it light. Stir in the grated cheddar and ground pepper.
Pour in the milk and mix with a round-bladed knife to make a soft dough. When the mixture forms a rough ball, put on a work surface that has been lightly dusted with flour.
Knead the dough briefly to smooth out the cracks, taking care not to overwork it or your scones will not rise so well. Press or roll out to 1.5cm thickness and cut into rounds with a 6cm pastry cutter. Gather up the scraps of dough, knead briefly, roll out again and cut out further scones. Brush the scones with milk and scatter with grated cheese. Transfer the scones, spacing them a little apart, to the baking sheet. Bake for 10-12 minutes, until they are risen and golden brown. Transfer to a cooling rack and leave to cool. Serve warm or cold. Split the scones, spread with butter .

I printed the original instructions as I only make scones occasionally. Despite the instructions I rolled them out too thinly, so the rise wasn't too impressive. I almost forgot to add baking powder as I don't have self raising flour. The rise would have been even worse without the baking powder! But they did taste very good! This time I doubled the amounts (fortunately as this allowed people to have seconds and even thirds!). 


Saturday, 4 April 2009

Lamb chops, simply grilled, bulgar with vegetables, spring greens

Bulgar with vegetables
Another of my favourites tonight- bulgar wheat with vegetables, very simple to make. First, put bulgar in a bowl and pour enough hot water to cover by about an inch and a half. (200g of dried bulgar is more than enough for 2 people.) Let soak for about half an hour, adding more water if necessary. Meanwhile soften a chopped onion, diced carrot and strips of red pepper. Add chopped garlic and cook another couple of minutes. Put in 1 tsp smoked paprika then tip in the bulgar, some salt and half a tin chopped tomatoes. Stir well, cover and cook over low heat for 20 minutes.
I tend to use onion, carrot and red pepper as the basic flavourings. Sometimes I add different flavourings such as harissa paste, or oregano, or sundried tomatoes.

Wednesday, 1 April 2009

Lamb meat loaf

I looked at several meat loaf recipes, then made this up with the ingredients I had.

500g lamb mince
1 large onion, chopped
3 cloves garlic chopped
4 mushrooms finely chopped
1 piece wholemeal bread, crusts removed
1/2 jar Waitrose mixed sliced peppers
1 tsp ground cumin
1tsp ground coriander
1/2 tsp ground black pepper
scant tsp salt

Crumble bread in a bowl, add enough milk to just cover. Soften chopped onion in a little oil, adding garlic after a few minutes and allowing this to cook for another 2-3 minutes. Put ground spices in. After 30 seconds add chopped mushrooms. Cook until  soft. 
Put lamb into large bowl. Add contents of onion pan, salt, softened bread, and the peppers. Mix well. Have ready a 1lb loaf tin lined with baking parchment. Tip the meat mixture in and level. Fold baking parchment over. Cook for 45 minutes in oven at 180C.
Pour off the liquid from around the loaf, let rest for 15 minutes before eating. 
This would serve 6 people
We also ate mashed potatoes and broccoli.

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