Cinnamon Buns

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cinn 15/10/2017

The house smells incredible as these bake and there’s not much that comes close to enjoying them warm out of the oven. The buns keep for 3-4 days and if they last that long, you can microwave them for a few seconds to warm them through and it’s as if you’ve cooked a fresh batch all over again. Win!

Makes 12

Ingredients:

Dough:

  • 7g active dry yeast
  • 1 cup milk warm
  • 1/3 cup granulated sugar
  • 1/4 cup melted butter
  • 1 tsp salt
  • 1tsp baking powder
  • 1 egg
  • 4 cups (500g) plain flour

Filling:

  • 1/3 cup soft brown or demerara sugar, packed
  • 3 Tbsp ground cinnamon
  • 1/4 cup butter

Cream cheese icing:

  • 6 tbsp margarine
  • 1 1/2 cups icing sugar
  • 1/4 cup cream cheese
  • 1/2 tsp vanilla extract
  • 1/8 tsp salt

Instructions:

  1. For the rolls, dissolve the yeast in the warm milk in a large bowl. Let it sit for about 5 minutes. The yeast should start to froth up slightly.
  2. Add sugar, butter, salt, egg, baking powder and flour to a mixing bowl and mix well.
  3. Pour the milk/yeast mixture in the bowl and mix well until well incorporated.
  4. Place dough into an oiled bowl, cover and let rise in a warm place about 1 hour or until the dough has doubled in size.
  5. Roll the dough out on a lightly floured surface, until it is approx 16 inches long by 12 inches wide. It should be approx 1/4 inch thick.
  6. Preheat oven to 180C degrees. Grease a 9×13 inch baking tin with butter.
  7. To make filling, combine the butter or margarine, brown sugar and cinnamon in a bowl.
  8. Spread the mixture evenly over the surface of the dough. Alternatively you can spread the butter first on the dough and then the brown sugar and cinnamon mixture.
  9. Working carefully, from the long edge, roll the dough down to the bottom edge. The roll should be about 18 inches in length. Cut the roll into 1 ½ inch slices.
  10. Place the cut rolls in the prepared pan. Cover them with a damp towel. Let them rise again for another 30 minutes until they double in size.
  11. Bake for 20 minutes or until light golden brown. Cooking time can vary greatly! If the tops brown too quickly before the dough is cooked, cover loosely with foil to prevent burning.
  12. While the rolls are baking make the icing by mixing all ingredients and beat well until fluffy.
  13. When the rolls are done, spread generously with icing.

cinna

You could leave them plain at this point as the icing is very sweet and I’m not normally a fan of overly sweet thing but this icing is amazing and melts beautifully into the warm buns giving them a sweet, sticky glaze that works perfectly with the pillowy soft dough and cinnamon.

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Camembert Garlic Bread

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Capturel 06/10/2017

Sometimes you just want something quick and simple for dinner but that shouldn’t mean boring. This camembert garlic bread is quick, easy flippin’ amazing too. I mean it’s cheese and bread and garlic so it’s hard to go wrong really.

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You could try experimenting with this bread by stuffing different ingredients in the bread such as tomato sauce, chorizo, mozzarella, basil, pesto, bacon, whatever you want really.

Ingredients:

  • 1 whole camembert
  • 2 garlic cloves, grated
  • 3 Tbsp butter
  • ½ tsp dried rosemary
  • 1 loaf of crusty bread
  • Sea salt to taste

Method:

  1. Preheat the oven to 180C.
  2. Remove all the packaging from the camembert and use the outer box as a stencil to cut a circular hole in the centre of the crusty loaf. Do not cut all the way through. Remove just enough bread so the camembert can sit snuggly in the centre of the bread.
  3. Remove the top rind of the camembert and place the cheese in the hole you just cut into the bread, cut side up.
  4. With a serrated knife, score the bread several times lengthways and then widthways to achieve a checkerboard effect.
  5. Add the garlic, butter, rosemary and a pinch of salt to a bowl and microwave for a few seconds to melt the butter. Spread this mixture between the scored lines you just made in the bread.
  6. Sprinkle the whole thing with a little salt and set on a baking tray. Bake in the lower part of the oven for 20-25 minutes until the cheese is oozing, the bread is crusty and the garlic is fragrant.
  7. Rip squares of the buttery garlic bread and dunk them into the gooey cheese. Shake your head in amazement.

Methi Muthia

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Capture 03/10/2017

Methi Muthia is a Gujurati breakfast or snack that is full of flavour and goodness. The main ingredient is fresh fenugreek leaves which I strongly advise seeking out as they are wonderfully aromatic and slightly bitter and warming.

Ingredients:

  • 1 bunch fresh methi (fenugreek) leaves
  • 4-5 tbsp atta (or 2 tbsp each of plain and wholemeal flour)
  • 2 tbsp gram flour
  • 2 tbsp semolina
  • 1 green chilli, very finely chopped
  • 1 garlic clove, crushed
  • 2 tbsp coriander leaves, finely chopped
  • ½ tsp baking powder
  • ½ tsp white pepper powder
  • 1 tsp cumin seeds
  • 1 tbsp oil plus some for greasing your hand and for pan frying
  • Salt to taste

Method:

  1. Chop the methi leaves and place them in a colander with 1 tsp salt. After 5 minutes, squeeze the bitter juice from the leaves and discard it.
  2. Add the methi leaves to the remaining ingredients and knead to a soft dough by adding a little water. The consistency of the dough should be a little softer and wetter than a chapatti dough but not sticky. You don’t need much water so add sparingly.
  3. Divide the dough into 6 equal portions and grease your hands slightly so you can shape each portion into little logs easily.
  4. Place each little portion into a steamer and be sure to space them apart as they expand when steaming. Steam for 20 minutes then remove and cut each log into 1 inch slices.
  5. You can serve them just like this or heat a teaspoon of oil in a frying pan and place the slices in a single layer. Cook for a minute until the sides begin to crisp and turn golden then flip them and cook for another minute. Add a pinch of asafoetida and some sesame seeds for crunch and sizzle until they turn golden brown. Stir gently to mix the tempered spices then serve warm as is or with a fresh chutney or raita.

Capturel

Gujarati Stuffed Aubergines (Bharela Ringan)

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aubs 21/09/2017

I made this as part of a vegan Indian feast for my brother who has an insatiable appetite and a shit recipe repertoire. This results in some gigantic mounds of instant mash  flavoured with various dehydrated soup sachets or if you’re lucky, gravy granules. The fact that he was sat tucking into something I’d rather grout tiles with didn’t sit right with me so I took over his kitchen one day to show him how easy and delicious actual cooking can be. This recipe was by far both of our favourites and if you try it, I’m sure it will be yours too.

Baby aubergines are stuffed with a coconut and peanut spice mix and simmered slowly in a velvety sauce in a pan until meltingly soft. It is worth making the effort to seek out baby aubergines from an Indian grocers as they take less time to cook and you get a good ratio of filling to aubergine.

Serves 4

Ingredients:

  • 10-12 baby aubergines
  • 60g desiccated or freshly grated coconut
  • 120g roasted unsalted peanuts
  • 40g fresh coriander
  • 8 cloves garlic
  • 1 green chili
  • 2 tbsp tomato puree
  • 2 tsp coriander seeds, roasted and ground
  • 1 tsp ground turmeric
  • 1 tsp salt
  • 3 tbsp oil
  • 1 large onion, chopped
  • ½ – 1 carton passata

aub

Instructions:

  1. Cut each aubergine in half lengthways, but don’t cut through the stem. Roll each one over and cut lengthways again, still keeping the stem intact.
  2. Put a large lidded frying pan over a medium heat and, when hot, toast the coconut and peanuts for 2-3 minutes, until the coconut is starting to brown. Tip into a bowl and leave to cool. Put the coriander, garlic, green chilli, tomato puree, coriander, turmeric and salt into a food processor, along with the cooled peanuts and coconut. Pulse until coarsely ground to a grainy paste. Add a little peanut butter to help it bind if you need but not too much.
  3. Open each aubergine out like a flower and fill with the coconut mixture, using your hands. Roll the aubergine over, open and stuff again then press closed. Save any leftover stuffing to add it to the pan later when you cook the aubergines.
  4. Next, put the oil into the frying pan over a medium heat. When hot, add the onion and fry until golden and soft. Add the remaining filling and ½ a carton of passata. Stir to combine and allow the sauce to bubble for a few minutes. Add the aubergines and a splash of water, turn the heat up high and cook for a couple of minutes, then put the lid on and turn the heat down. Cook for 10 minutes, then gently turn the aubergines and add a splash of water if they’re looking dry. Cook for a further 20 minutes, or until nice and tender. Serve with cucumber and mint raita, or with a salad, some yogurt and chapattis.

Balinese Fish & Potato Curry (Kari Ikan)

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Capture 04/09/2017

Vibrant and flavourful and full of healthy ingredients, this dish will take you to a warm and sunny place. Once you have the ingredients in order, it’s surprisingly quick. The flavours that set this dish apart are kefir lime leaves and fresh turmeric root, blended right into the curry paste. I really recommend tracking down these ingredients from an Asian supermarket as the flavours are so fresh and full. Once you have the flavourful base made, you can use whatever fish you like. The Balinese commonly use swordfish but I used cod loin with fantastic results.

Ingredients:

For the paste:

  • 2 tablespoons thinly sliced ginger (skin on)
  • 1 shallot, roughly chopped
  • 1 tablespoon fresh turmeric – thinly sliced – skin on ( or sub 2 teaspoons ground)
  • 2 x 5 inch sticks lemongrass, thinly sliced into disks
  • 3 garlic cloves
  • 1 green chilli (this will be mild)
  • 5 kefir lime leaves

For the curry:

  • 2 tablespoons coconut oil
  • 2 cups water
  • 8-10 ounces baby potatoes, cut in half
  • 1 can coconut milk
  • ½ teaspoon salt
  • 1 tablespoon fish sauce
  • 1 lime- juice
  • sambal oelek, or chili paste or chili flakes for additional heat
  • 10 -12 ounces white fish – (I used cod loin. You could use tilapia, halibut, sword fish)
  • 1 cup peas, sugarsnap peas, green beans, pak choy ( veggies that can cook in 1-2 minutes)
  • Garnish with lime wedge,  crispy shallots, fresh mint, basil, spring onions and/or fresh coriander
  • Serve over Thai jasmine rice (it’s nice to toss a couple of kefir lime leaves in with the cooking rice for a beautiful aroma)

Method:

  1. Set the rice to cook.
  2. Place the thinly sliced ginger, lemongrass, shallot and turmeric in the food processor. Add the jalapeño, garlic, and lime leaves. Pulse until it becomes a paste, scraping down sides if necessary.
  3. Heat coconut oil in a large skillet, over medium high heat. When hot, add fragrant paste and stir constantly until it browns lightly, about 3-4 minutes. Add 2 cups water, give a stir, bring to a boil. Add potatoes, cover and simmer 15 minutes or until potatoes are fork tender.
  4. Remove the lid, and reduce the liquid just a little, letting it simmer uncovered for a few minutes. Add coconut milk, salt, fish sauce and the juice from one small lime. Taste. Remember this will go over the rice, so the flavours will mellow. Add chili paste or flakes for more heat.
  5. Place the fish into the coconut sauce and simmer gently for 5 more minutes. Toss in the spring peas, snap peas or green beans and cook for just a minute or two, keeping them vibrant and snappy.
    Serve over rice with a lime wedge, crispy shallots, fresh mint, basil, coriander and/or spring onions.

Plum & Almond Pudding

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plum 30/08/2017

So as I have already mentioned, I recently returned from a holiday in France and upon leaving the little gite, I was presented with a huge bag of plums from the hosts who had been busy harvesting the variety of wonderful trees in their garden. I have never really been overly fussed about plums but being one not to let anything go to waste, I thought I’d try my hand at baking something with them and this pudding is the result.

Sharp plums are topped with a light sponge flavoured with almonds and scented with zesty lemons for a really satisfying treat.

Ingredients:

  • 8 ripe plums, quartered and stoned
  • pinch cinnamon
  • zest 2 lemons
  • 4 tbsp brandy (optional)
  • 100g soft butter
  • 100g light brown sugar
  • 2 eggs
  • 100g self-raising flour
  • 1 tsp almond extract
  • 50g ground almonds
  • 3 tbsp flaked almond
  • Custard/cream/icecream, to serve

Method:

  1. Heat oven to 180C/160C fan. Toss the plums, cinnamon, lemon zest and brandy together in a bowl, then leave to macerate while you make the batter.
  2. Cream the butter and sugar with an electric whisk until pale and fluffy, add the eggs one at a time then tip in the flour, almond extract and ground almonds. Mix until completely combined.
  3. Tip the fruit into a buttered shallow baking dish, spoon over the cake batter, then sprinkle over the flaked almonds. Bake for 35-40 mins until browned and cooked through. Test if the pudding is ready by inserting a skewer. If it comes out clean, the pudding is ready. If there is some batter on the skewer then give it a few minutes more. Remove from the oven and serve warm with custard.

Flan Patissier

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Capture 29/08/2017

Flan patissier is the French equivalent of the custard tart. The delicious dessert is filled with simple, vanilla infused cream. It is the tart that you see in patisseries all over France. It is often made in a long slab that can be sliced as a treat at any time of the day.

I have provided a really in-depth method for making the pastry as this is so important to creating the final flan. The crumbly, buttery base is perfect with the thick, creamy custard filling.

Ingredients:

For the sweet pastry:

  • 350g plain flour
  • 125g butter
  • 125g caster sugar
  • 2 eggs, plus one yolk
  • pinch of salt
  • A little butter or baking spray, for greasing the tin
  • A little flour, for rolling

For the filling:

  • 200ml full-fat milk
  • 200ml double cream
  • 1 vanilla pod
  • 1 medium egg, plus 1 medium yolk
  • 100g caster sugar
  • 40g cornflour
  • 20g butter, melted

Essential kit You will need a 20cm loose-bottomed tart tin.

Capturei

Method:

  1. First, make the sweet pastry. You will need half the quantity given here. To make the pastry: Measure out all your ingredients before you start, and break your 2 eggs into a small bowl– there is no need to beat them. Separate the remaining egg. Put the flour and salt into a mixing bowl.
  2. Now for the cold butter. What I do is take it straight from the fridge and put it between two pieces of greaseproof paper or butter wrappers (I always keep butter wrappers to use for this, as well as for greasing tins and rings), then bash it firmly with a rolling pin.
  3. The idea is to soften it while still keeping it cold. I end up with a thin, cold slab about a centimetre thick that bends like plasticine. Put the whole slab into the bowl of flour – there is no need to chop it up.
  4. Cover the butter well with flour and tear it into large pieces.
  5. Now it’s time to flake the flour and butter together – this is where you want a really light touch. With both hands, scoop up the flour-covered butter and flick your thumbs over the surface, pushing away from you, as if you are dealing a pack of cards.
  6. You need just a soft, skimming motion – no pressing or squeezing – and the butter will quickly start to break into smaller pieces. Keep plunging your hands into the bowl, and continue with the light flicking action, making sure all the pieces of butter remain coated with flour so they don’t become sticky.
  7. The important thing now is to stop mixing when the shards of butter are the size of your little fingernail. There is an idea that you have to keep rubbing in the butter until the mixture looks like breadcrumbs, but you don’t need to take it that far. When people come to my classes, I find they can’t resist putting their hands back into the bowl to rub it just a little bit more, but if you want a light pastry, it is really important not to overwork it. If the mixture starts to get sticky now, imagine how much worse it will be when you start to add the liquid at the next stage. Add the sugar at this point, mixing it in evenly.
  8. Tip the eggs, and the extra yolk, into the flour mixture and mix everything together.
  9. You can mix with a spoon, but I prefer to use one of the little plastic scrapers that I use for bread-making. Because it is bendy, it’s very easy to scrape around the sides of the bowl and pull the mixture into the centre until it forms a very rough dough that shouldn’t be at all sticky.
  10. While it is still in the bowl, press down on the dough with both thumbs, then turn the dough clockwise a few degrees and press down and turn again. Repeat this a few times.
  11. With the help of your spoon or scraper, turn the pastry onto a work surface.
  12. Work the dough as you did when it was in the bowl: holding the dough with both hands, press down gently with your thumbs, then turn the dough clockwise a few degrees, press down with your thumbs again and turn. Repeat this about four or five times in all.
  13. Now fold the pastry over itself and press down with your fingertips. Provided the dough isn’t sticky, you shouldn’t need to flour the surface, but if you do, make sure you give it only a really light dusting, not handfuls, as this extra flour will all go into your pastry and make it heavier.
  14. When you flour your work surface, you need to do this as if you are skimming a stone over water, just paying out a light spray of flour. (Funny as it seems, people in my classes actually practise this, like a new sport.) You need just enough to create a filmy barrier so that you can glide the pastry around the work surface without it sticking.
  15. Repeat the folding and pressing down with your fingertips a couple of times until the dough is like plasticine, and looks homogeneous.
  16. Your pastry is now ready to roll out and bake. Store in the fridge until ready to use.
  17. Preheat the oven to 190°C/gas 5.
  18. Lightly grease a 20cm loose-bottomed tart tin with butter or baking spray
  19. Lightly dust your work surface with flour, then roll out the pastry into a circle 5mm thick and large enough to fit into the tin, leaving an overhang of about 2.5cm.
  20. Roll the pastry around your rolling pin so that you can lift it up without stretching it, then drape it over the tin and let it fall inside.
  21. Ease the pastry carefully into the base and sides of the tin without stretching it, and leave it overhanging the edges. Tap the tin lightly against your work surface to settle it in. Prick the base of the pastry all over with a fork to stop it from trying to rise up when in the oven (even though it will be held down by baking beans, it can sometimes lift a little).
  22. You can use a large sheet of baking paper for lining your tart case, however I prefer to use clingfilm (the kind that is safe for use in the oven or microwave) as it is softer than paper and won’t leave indents in the pastry. Place three sheets of clingfilm (or one sheet of baking paper) over the top of the pastry case, then tip in your baking beans and spread them out so they completely cover the base. Don’t trim the pastry yet. Put the case into the fridge for at least one hour (or the freezer for 15 minutes) to relax it.
  23. Pre-heat the oven to 190C / gas 5.
  24. Remove the pastry case from the fridge and put in the pre-heated oven for about 20 minutes until the base has dried out and is very lightly coloured, like parchment.
  25. Remove from the oven and lift out the clingfilm (or baking paper) and beans. Don’t worry if the overhanging edges are quite brown, as you will be trimming these away after you have finished baking your tart.
  26. Brush the inside of the pastry case with the beaten egg and put it back into the oven for another ten minutes. The inside of the pastry, and particularly the base, will now be quite golden brown and shiny from the egg glaze, which will act as a barrier so that the pastry will stay crisp when you put in the filling.
  27. Let the pastry case cool down then you can trim away the overhanging edges.
  28. Turn down the oven to 180°C/gas 4.
  29. To make the filling, put the milk, cream and vanilla pod (split and seeds scraped in) in a pan, bring to a simmer (be careful not to let the mixture boil), then take off the heat and leave to infuse for at least an hour. Remove the vanilla pod.
  30. In a bowl, mix the egg, yolk and sugar until pale and creamy, and then whisk in the cornflour. Stir in the melted butter.
  31. Put the pan containing the milk and cream mixture back on the heat and bring slowly to the boil, whisking all the time, then turn down to a simmer for 1 minute, still whisking all the time. Take off the heat and pour onto the egg and sugar mixture, stirring well.
  32. Pour the mixture into the tart case and bake for around 45 minutes, until the filling is firm to the touch and a deep, dark golden on top — like the top of a crème brûlée. Take out of the oven, slide off the tin, and cool completely on a wire rack before serving.