Cheese & Pesto Whirls

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IMG_20150729_184149[1] 30/07/2015

If you like pesto, this one’s for you. I always find I have a jar of pesto hanging around in the fridge and apart from stirring it through a bit of pasta, I never really use it that much but it is full of fresh flavours and teamed with salty sun dried tomatoes and tangy cheese that are swirled through a fresh bread dough, this recipe results in a fantastic roll perfect for taking to a picnic or dunking in a big bowl of soup.

Makes 12

Ingredients:

  • 450g strong white bread flour, plus a little for dusting
  • 7g sachet fast-action dried yeast
  • 1 tsp golden caster sugar
  • 2 tbsp olive oil, plus a drizzle
  • 3 Tbsp pesto
  • 75g semi-dried tomatoes, roughly chopped
  • 100g mature cheddar, grated
  • 50g Parmesan, grated
  • handful basil leaves

Method:

  1. Combine the flour, yeast, sugar and 1 1/2 tsp fine salt in a large mixing bowl. When adding the salt, make sure it does not directly come into contact with the yeast. Measure out 300ml warm water and add roughly 280ml to the flour, along with the olive oil, and start mixing until the ingredients start to clump together as a dough. If the dough seems a little dry, add the remaining water. Once combined, knead for 10 minutes by hand on your work surface. The dough is ready when it feels soft, springy and elastic. Clean the bowl, drizzle in a little oil, then pop the dough back in, turning it over and coating the sides of the bowl in oil. Cover with some oiled cling film and set aside in a warm place to double in size – this will take 1-3 hrs, depending on the temperature of the room.

2. Line a baking tray with parchment. Uncover the dough and punch it down a couple of times with your fist, knocking out all the air bubbles. Tip out onto a floured work surface and dust the top with a little flour too, if it is sticky. Roll the dough out to a rectangle, roughly 40 x 30cm. Spread the pesto over the dough, then scatter over the tomatoes, both cheeses and the basil. Roll the dough up from one of the longer sides, into a long sausage.

IMG_20150729_184335[1] IMG_20150729_184258[1]3. Use a sharp knife to cut the dough into 12 even pieces. Place on the baking tray, cut-side up, in a 3-by-4 formation, making sure the open end of each roll is tucked in towards the centre on the arrangement – this will prevent them from uncoiling during cooking. Leave a little space between each roll as they will grow and touch as they prove. Loosely cover with oiled cling film and leave to prove for 30 mins–1 hr until almost doubled in size again. Heat the oven to 180C.

4. Uncover the bread when it is puffed up. Bake on the middle shelf in the oven for 35-40 minutes until golden brown and the centre looks dry and not doughy. Remove from the oven and leave to cool for at least 10 minutes.

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Store in an airtight container or bread bin for a couple of days. The rolls can be frozen. Defrost thoroughly and warm through in a warm oven for 5 minutes to refresh before serving.

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Chocolate Crackle Tops

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IMG_20150727_173248[1] 28/07/2015

Can’t decide between a brownie, a cookie and a cake? Make these! They’re a combination of the three. A real chocolate hit in a little ball of rich cakey goodness.

The chocolate mix is rolled into balls then coated in icing sugar before baking which produces a contrasting crackle across the surface of each cookie as they bake and the sweetness of the sugar is lovely with the bitter chocolate.

Makes 32 (approx)

Ingredients:

  • 200g plain chocolate, 85% cocoa, chopped
  • 90g unsalted butter
  • 115g caster sugar
  • 3 eggs
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 215g plain flour
  • 25g unsweetened cocoa powder
  • ½ teaspoon baking powder
  • Pinch of salt
  • 100g icing sugar, for coating

Method:

  1. In a medium saucepan over a low heat, melt the chocolate and butter together until smooth, stirring frequently.
  2. Remove from the heat. Stir in the sugar and continue stirring for 2-3 minutes until the sugar dissolves. Add the eggs one at a time, beating well after each addition and stir in the vanilla.
  3. Into a bowl, sift together the flour, cocoa, baking powder and salt. Gradually stir into the chocolate mixture in batches until just blended.
  4. Cover the dough and refrigerate for at least 1 hour until the dough is cold and holds its shape.
  5. Preheat the oven to 160C. Grease 2 or more large baking sheets. Place the icing sugar in a small, deep Using a round teaspoon, scoop cold dough into small balls and, between the palms of your hands, roll into 1 ½ inch balls.
  6. Drop each ball into the icing sugar and roll until heavily coated. Remove with a slotted spoon and tap against the side of the bowl to remove excess sugar. Place on the prepared baking sheets 1 ½ inches apart.
  7. Bake the cookies for 10-15 minutes until they feel slightly firm when touched. Remove and allow to cool for a couple of minutes then transfer to a wire rack with a palette knife to cool completely.

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These are best on the day of making but freeze well if you manage not to eat them all at once.

Chicken Dhansak

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IMG_20150723_230332[1] 25/07/2015

Another Indian recipe for your perusal because you can never have enough Indian food. I’m not talking about takeaways here where every dish comes from a base sauce and is covered in oil but fresh ingredients and subtle spice combinations packed full of flavour and texture.

Chicken Dhansak is made with lentils to thicken the sauce. The combination of spices, freshly ground, add depth, heat and bucketfuls of taste!

Serves 4-6

Ingredients:

  • 1kg chicken joints, skinned
  • 1 tsp salt or to taste
  • 1 inch cube ginger, peeled and coarsely chopped
  • 4-6 garlic cloves, peeled and chopped

Grind the following 10 ingredients in a coffee grinder:

  • 1 tsp coriander seeds
  • 1 tsp cumin seeds
  • 1 tsp fennel seeds
  • 4 green cardamons
  • 1 cinnamon stick
  • 4-6 dried red chillies
  • 10 black peppercorns
  • 2 bay leaves
  • ¼ tsp fenugreek seeds
  • ½ tsp black mustard seeds
  • 2 Tbsp ghee or unsalted butter
  • 125ml/4fl oz warm water

For the dhal:

  • 3oz toor dhal (yellow split peas)
  • 3oz masoor dhal (red split lentils)
  • 5 Tbsp cooking oil
  • 1 large onion, finely chopped
  • 1 tsp turmeric
  • 1 tsp garam masala
  • 600ml/20fl oz warm water
  • 1tsp salt or to taste
  • 1 tsp tamarind concentrate or 1 ½ Tbsp lemon juice
  • 1 Tbsp chopped coriander leaves

Method:

  1. Wash and dry the chicken portions and cut each portion into two.
  2. Add the salt to the ginger and garlic and crush to a pulp.
  3. Make a paste of the ground ingredients and the ginger/garlic pulp by adding 6 Tbsp water. Pour the mixture over the chicken and mix to coat thoroughly. Cover and set aside for 4-6 hours or overnight in the fridge.
  4. Melt the ghee or butter over medium heat and fry chicken for 6-8 minutes, stirring frequently. Add the water, bring to the boil, cover and simmer for 20 minutes. Stir several times.
  5. Meanwhile, mix together the dhals, wash and drain well.
  6. Heat the oil over medium flame and fry onions for 5 minutes, stirring frequently. Add turmeric and garam masala, stir and fry for 1 minute. Add the dhal, adjust heat to low and fry for 5 minutes, stirring frequently. Add the water and salt, bring to the boil, cover and simmer for 30 minutes until soft, stirring occasionally. Remove from heat.
  7. Using a metal spoon, push some of the cooked dhal through a sieve until there is a very dry and coarse mixture left. Discard the coarse mixture and sieve the rest of the dhal the same way.
  8. Pour the sieved dhal over the chicken, cover and place the pan over medium heat. Bring to the boil, reduce heat and simmer for 20-25 minutes. Stir occasionally during the first half of cooking time but more frequently during the latter half, to ensure that the mix does not stick.
  9. Add the tamarind concentrate or lemon juice to the dhal and mix thoroughly. Cover and simmer for 5 minutes. Stir in the coriander leaves and remove from heat.

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Beef Kofta Curry

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IMG_20150719_082236[1] 19/07/2015

It tastes and looks like you’ve spent hours slaving away making this curry but actually, it is very simple to put together and there is a lot of flavour going on too.

I have suggested using a curry paste in the recipe. It doesn’t have to be Rogan Josh. Try Balti, Tikka Massala, Korma etc based on your taste but make sure you buy paste and not sauce. Ready made curry sauce is not authentic and not very tasty either.

Ingredients:

For the Kofta

  • 1 heaped teaspoon garam masala
  • 2 cloves garlic, finely chopped
  • 1 inch piece ginger, finely chopped
  • 400g quality lean beef mince
  • 100g breadcrumbs
  • A splash of milk to combine

For the curry:

  • olive oil
  • 3 ripe tomatoes
  • 1 thumb-sized piece of ginger
  • 2 spring onions
  • 1 fresh red chilli
  • 1 bunch fresh coriander
  • 1 teaspoon turmeric
  • 1 teaspoon runny honey
  • 2 heaped teaspoons Patak’s rogan josh curry paste
  • ½ x 400 g tin of coconut milk
  • 4 tablespoons fat-free natural yoghurt, to serve
  • 1 lemon 

Method:

  1. Put the mince into a bowl with salt, pepper, breadcrumbs, ginger and garlic and garam masala. Add a splash of milk then mix and scrunch together with clean hands. Divide the mixture in half, then with wet hands quickly squeeze and mould each half into 6 fat fingers. Put them into the frying pan with 1 tablespoon of oil, turning until golden.

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2. Squash the tomatoes into the liquidizer, add the peeled ginger, trimmed spring onions, half the chilli, the coriander stalks, turmeric, honey, curry paste and coconut milk then blitz until combined. Pour into the kofta pan, bring to the boil then simmer for 10 minutes and season to taste.

3. Finely slice the remaining chilli and the coriander leaves and scatter them over the curry, dollop with yoghurt, then serve with lemon wedges, poppadoms and rice.

Apple & Blackberry Crumble

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IMG_20150712_210250[1] 15/07/2015

I recently visited my family in Nottingham. Nottingham is home of the Bramley apple so it seemed a great idea to finish off a big Sunday lunch with a local produce, great English pud’ for everyone to dig into!

Tart, sharp softened fruit is topped with crunchy, buttery, sweet crumble mix. Hot out of the oven with a scoop of melting ice cream… Yum!

You could use whatever fruit you have and like for a crumble filling; peaches, rhubarb, strawberries, raspberries, plums etc. Just cut and cook them down like you do the apples.

The crumble recipe provided is for a classic and basic topping too but again, experiment to your heart’s content. Oats are great, spices and mixed nuts add variation too.

Fruit Filling

Ingredients:

  • 2-3 large Bramley apples
  • 500g Blackberries
  • 2 Tbsp demerara sugar
  • 1/2 tsp mixed spice

Method:

  1. Peel and core the apples then slice and add to a pan with a splash of water. Place over a medium heat and gently cook the apple until it begins to soften and break down.
  2. Add the blackberries and continue cooking until they release their wonderful juices and turn the mixture a wonderful deep purple colour.
  3. Add the sugar and taste for sweetness. Apples and berries can vary in tartness so adjust accordingly. Add the mixed spice and remove from the heat.
  4. Spoon the mix into an ovenproof dish.

Basic Crumble Topping

Ingredients:

  • 8oz plain flour (or whole wheat)
  • 5oz soft brown sugar
  • A pinch of salt
  • 1/2 tsp mixed spice (optional)
  • 3oz butter at room temperature
  • 1 level teaspoon baking powder

Method:

  1. Pre-heat the oven to 180C
  2. Place the flour in a large mixing bowl, sprinkle in the baking powder, salt and mixed spice then add the butter and rub it into the flour lightly using your fingertips. Then when it looks all crumbly, add the sugar and combine well.
  3. Now sprinkle the crumble mix all over your fruit in the pie dish. Place the crumble on a medium-high shelf in the oven and bake it for 30-40 minutes or until the top is golden brown.

Variations:

  1. Instead of flour use 4oz whole wheat flour and 4oz porridge oats
  2. For a nutty topping, try 6oz whole wheat flour, 3oz chopped nuts and cut the sugar to 3oz.

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Serve with ice cream, custard or double cream. So good.

Lamb Rogan Josh

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IMG_20150708_101331[1] 09/07/2015

This could probably be the recipe that sparked my interest in cookery. Once every fortnight when I was in my teens, me and my dad would take over the kitchen and set to work on a big Indian meal for the family that usually consisted of a big pot of meat curry, a lentil dish, fresh naan, rice and lots of poppadoms and dips. I have particularly fond memories of trips to the meat van to pick up the lamb before spending ages learning my knife skills and de-boning the meat while dancing around the kitchen as a family to cheesy music at the same time. That and the fact that the lamb is so tasty and the sauce is rich and tasteful make this one of my favourites!

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mmmmmmmmmmmmm meaty

Ingredients:

  • 2 Tbsp ghee or unsalted butter
  • 1kg leg of lamb, boned and cut into 1 ½ inch cubes
  • 1 Tbsp ground cumin
  • 1 Tbsp ground coriander
  • 1 tsp turmeric
  • 1 tsp chilli powder
  • 1 inch cube ginger, peeled and grated
  • 2-4 garlic cloves, peeled and crushed
  • 8-10oz onions, finely sliced
  • 400g tin of tomatoes
  • 1 Tbsp tomato purée
  • 125ml/4fl oz warm water
  • 1 tsp salt or to taste
  • 90ml/3fl oz double cream
  • 2 tsp garam masala
  • 2 Tbsp chopped coriander leaves

Method:

  1. Melt 2 Tbsp ghee or butter over medium heat and fry the meat in 2-3 batches until it changes colour. Remove each batch with a slotted spoon and keep aside.
  2. Lower heat to minimum and add the cumin, coriander, turmeric, chilli powder, ginger and garlic. Stir and fry for 30 seconds.
  3. Adjust heat to medium and add the meat along with all the ghee and juice in the bowl. Stir and fry for 3-4 minutes and add the onions. Fry for 5-6 minutes stirring frequently.
  4. Now add the tomatoes and tomato purée. Stir and cook for 2-3 minutes.
  5. Add the water and salt, bring to the boil, cover and simmer until the meat is tender (about 60 minutes).
  6. Stir in the cream and remove from heat.
  7. Add the garam masala and mix in well.
  8. Stir in the coriander leaves.

Tandoori Chicken with Bombay Potatoes

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IMG_20150705_215636[1] 06/07/2015

You can make this in advance and leave it to marinate in the fridge. It will only taste better the longer you leave it. The mix of spices permeate and tenderise the chicken resulting in a massive flavour punch in each bite.

The chicken can be served hot with naan and rice or cold with salad. As you can see from the picture, I served mine with Bombay potatoes (recipe included) and garlic and coriander flatbreads (see earlier post). Unfortunately my salad options were vastly limited hence the random two tomatoes you see. I also made a quick raita with cucumber and mint as the freshness is lovely against the other bold flavours on the plate.

Tandoori Chicken (serves 2)

Ingredients:

  • 1 pack of chicken joints (I used drumsticks)
  • 1 tsp salt
  • Juice of half a lemon
  • ½ inch cube of ginger, peeled and coarsely chopped
  • 3 cloves of garlic, peeled and coarsely chopped
  • 1 fresh green chilli, coarsely chopped
  • 2 Tbsp chopped coriander leaves
  • 75g/3oz thick set natural yoghurt
  • 1 tsp ground coriander
  • ½ tsp ground cumin
  • 1 tsp garam masala
  • ¼ tsp fresh ground black pepper
  • 1 Tbsp tomato purée

Method:

  1. Remove skin from the chicken and cut each piece into two. With a sharp knife, make 2-3 slits in each piece. Rub salt and lemon juice into the chicken pieces and set aside for half an hour.
  2. Meanwhile, put the ginger, garlic, green chillies, coriander leaves and the yoghurt into a blender and blend until smooth. Add the rest of the ingredients and blend again.
  3. Pour and spread the marinade all over the chicken and in the slits. Cover and leave to marinade for 6-8 hours or overnight in the fridge.
  4. Preheat the oven to 240C. Line a roasting tin with foil and arrange the chicken pieces in it. Place the tin in the centre of the oven and bake for 25-30 minutes, turning the pieces over carefully as they brown and basting with juice in the roasting tin.
  5. Remove from the oven and serve hot or cold.

Bombay Potatoes (serves 2)

Ingredients:

  • approx 8 Charlotte potatoes
  • 1 tsp Turmeric
  • 1 Tbsp oil
  • 1 green chilli, finely sliced
  • 1 clove of garlic, finely chopped
  • Small bunch of spring onions, sliced
  • ½ tsp Garam Masala
  • 1 tsp Onion Seeds
  • 1 tsp Ground Coriander
  • ½ tsp Fennel Seeds
  • 3 Tbsp Lemon Juice
  • Salt and pepper to taste
  • Handful of fresh coriander, roughly chopped
  • Fresh or tinned tomatoes (optional)

Method:

  1. Boil the potatoes in water until tender. Drain well.
  2. Heat the oil in a pan over a medium high heat. When really hot add chilli and cook for 30 seconds until brown.
  3. Add the garlic, the spring onions, garam masala, ground coriander, fennel seeds, turmeric and onion seeds, and cook until the spring onions go slightly tender.
  4. Now add the potatoes and cook for a further 5-7 minutes on a medium low heat. If using tomato, add it at this point. Slightly crush the potatoes in the pan so they take on all the lovely spices. Add a drop of water if it looks too dry.
  5. Add Lemon juice, fresh coriander and salt and pepper to taste and serve.