Potato Scones

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IMG_20160223_133921[1] 23/02/2016

Another classic case of leftovers being better than the original dish! This particular batch of scones was made using a leftover baked potato from which I scooped out the insides and discarded (ate) the skin. I’ve also made the scones with leftover mash which gives equally light, fluffy and comforting results.

Makes 8-12

Ingredients:

  • 6oz plain flour
  • 3 teaspoons baking powder
  • 2 oz margarine
  • ½ teaspoon salt
  • 4 oz leftover mashed potato
  • About 3 tablespoons milk
  • Spring onions, cheese (optional)

Method:

  1. Preheat the oven to 220/200C. Lightly grease a baking tray.
  2. Measure the flour and baking powder into a bowl, add the margarine and run in with your fingertips until the mix resembles fine breadcrumbs. Add spring onions and cheese at this point for flavour if you wish. Stir in the salt and mash, mixing with a fork to prevent lumps. Add enough milk to form a soft but not sticky dough.
  3. Turn the mixture out on to a lightly floured work surface and knead very lightly. Roll out to a thickness of about ½ inch and cut into rounds using a 2 inch cutter. Alternatively, cut the dough into triangular wedges, as pictured.
  4. Place on the prepared baking trays and bake in the oven for 12-15 minutes or until well risen and golden brown. Best served warm and buttered.
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Bacon, feta & leek filo pie

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IMG_20160216_000625[1] 19/02/2016

This Balkan classic makes an impressive centrepiece for any table – a golden spiral of crisp filo pastry, holding a rich filling of vegetables, feta and bacon. This pie recipe includes a guide on how to make filo pastry from scratch, but if short on time you can also use ready-made, rather than homemade filo pastry. One thing I would say is USE REAL BUTTER! It provides a rich crisp pastry with a beautiful taste.

All pie is good in my book, but this pie is extra special. Not only is it the shape of a Cumberland sausage, but it also boasts numerous layers of homemade filo pastry. Yes, that’s right, HOMEMADE filo pastry.

You would be forgiven for thinking life’s too short for such painstaking tasks, but bear with me. I’ll admit, it would probably be fair to say you have too much time on your hands if you can afford to make homemade filo a weekly staple, but it’s sometimes nice to spend longer than 20 minutes knocking up something quickly in the kitchen. It can be therapeutic to take your time. In fact, it’s the perfect activity to take on while indulging in guilty pleasures like watching telly or singing along to your favourite LP in the daytime. And the flavour really is worth the effort. Homemade filo is never going to be quite as thin as shop bought, but the difference in texture from a more rustic roll feels right for this roly-poly pie.

You can, of course, buy ready-made filo, if you must, but I think you ought to try making it yourself at least once first. As for the filling, you can sing your own tune. It’s delicious with a simple concoction of sautéed onion, garlic and spinach with a few lumps of feta crumbled in for good measure. Minced lamb or pork with cabbage makes for a filling and robust pie and you can even add potatoes or rice for extra and economical bulk. As far as I’m concerned, you can never go wrong with bacon and leeks as a base and I love to serve it with a simple salad. It’s best to leave the pie for 15–20 minutes after it’s come out of the oven, as the flavours are best when it’s not piping hot.

Filo pastry:

  • 1kg flour, plus extra for dusting
  • 2 large eggs, beaten
  • 1 tsp vinegar
  • 1 tbsp of oil
  • 1 tsp salt
  • 400ml of water
  • 200ml of butter, melted

Pie filling:

  • 1 large red onion, chopped
  • 2 leeks, trimmed and chopped
  • 4 garlic cloves, minced
  • 8 bacon rashers, smoked, chopped
  • 200g of feta, crumbled
  • 1 handful of flat-leaf parsley, roughly chopped
  • 1 small handful of mint, finely chopped
  • 1 dash of oil, for frying
  • salt and fresh ground black pepper

Method:

  1. To begin, sift the flour into a large bowl and make a well in the centre. Add the vinegar, salt, oil and half of the water and mix together with a fork until it starts to come together. Add as much of the remaining water as you need to make a dough and turn it out onto a lightly floured work surface
  2. Knead for a few minutes until you have a soft, but not sticky dough. Wrap in cling film and leave to rest for at least 20 minutes.
  3. In the meantime, make the filling. In a pan over a medium heat, sweat the onion, leeks, garlic and bacon in a little oil (or butter) until soft and slightly golden. Stir in the feta and parsley and season generously with pepper. There is already plenty of salt from the feta and bacon. Transfer to a bowl and leave to cool.
  4. Use your hands to roll the dough into a sausage and cut into 10 pieces. Take a piece of dough and cover the remaining 9 pieces with cling film to prevent them from drying out.
  5. Roll the dough as thinly as you possibly can into a large rectangular shape, then gently stretch it further using your hands. Ideally the dough should be thin enough to be able to see your hand through it.
  6. Once the dough is as thin as you can make it, brush the filo sheet with melted butter/oil and cover with cling film. Roll out the next piece in the same way, remove the cling film from the first sheet and place the second over the top.
  7. Brush liberally with more melted butter and place the sheet of cling film back on. Continue until all the dough has been rolled and brushed with melted butter, giving you 10 layers.
  8. Preheat the oven to 220°C.
  9. Place the layered filo in front of you, horizontally, and trim off the edges of the pastry to make a neat rectangle. Spoon the filling into a line a few inches in from the edge of the filo closest to you. Now for the fun bit!
  10. Roll the whole thing up tightly into a long sausage and, with the seam underneath, coil the sausage into a tight ring. Butter a round ovenproof dish, big enough for the pie to snugly fit into the dish. Use a couple of fish slices, or any other long flat implement to hand, to carefully transfer the pie to the dish.
  11. Brush the top of the pie with more melted butter and sprinkle over a little salt and pepper. Place the pie in the oven and bake for 20 minutes.
  12. Reduce the oven temperature to 180°C and continue to bake for another 20 minutes. Leave to cool for 15–20 minutes before carefully transferring the pie to a serving plate. Slice into wedges to serve.

IMG_20160216_001218[1] IMG_20160215_235938[1]

Patrani Macchi

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IMG_20160214_215045[1] 17/02/2016

Yes, another fish dish. That’ll teach me to buy a whole side of salmon when it’s on offer.

From the western shores of India, this delicious baked fish dish looks very impressive when you serve it wrapped in banana leaves. As you unwrap it, release some mouth-watering aromas. If you can’t get banana leaves then you can use lightly oiled foil or baking parchment instead.

Ingredients:

  • 2 thick salmon fillets, skinned
  • 1 tsp ground turmeric
  • Fresh banana leaves (or oiled foil)

For the spice paste:

  • 1 tsp ground cumin
  • 1 tsp ground coriander
  • 50g creamed coconut
  • 50g freshly grated coconut
  • 2 fresh chillies, deseeded and chopped
  • 50g fresh coriander, chopped
  • 10g fresh mint, chopped
  • 1 tsp crushed garlic
  • 1tsp grated fresh ginger
  • Juice of 1 lemon
  • 1 tsp salt

Method:

  1. Preheat the oven to 180C.
  2. Make the spice paste by placing all the paste ingredients in a food processor and blending until fairly smooth.
  3. Place the fish fillets on a plate. Sprinkle with turmeric, rubbing it into the fish, and keep to one side.
  4. Cut the banana leaves into approx. 24cm squares and soften by dipping into a pan of hot water for a few seconds. Wipe dry and arrange on a work surface.
  5. Spread the spice paste on both the fish pieces.
  6. Place a piece of fish on each square and wrap it up like a parcel securing with bamboo skewers. If using foil, simply scrunch up to seal.
  7. Place the parcels on a baking sheet and bake in the oven to 12 minutes or until cooked through.
  8. Serve immediately with basmati rice, lemon wedges and maybe some minty yoghurt dip and poppadoms.

IMG_20160214_215904[1] IMG_20160214_215441[1]

Tandoori Swordfish Skewers

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IMG_20160215_103227[1] 15/02/2016

Swordfish is so meaty when cooked. It is extremely versatile and can stand being grilled, baked, barbequed as steaks, stewed or whatever you decide. It can take on lots of flavours and is ideal for marinading as I have here. The use of cashews gives the recipe a satay sort of taste combined with the creamy yoghurt, fresh lemon and exciting spice blend to create huge flavour.

Ingredients:

For the fish:

  • Juice of ½ lemon
  • 1 tsp Kashmiri chilli powder
  • 1 tsp turmeric powder
  • ½ tsp salt
  • 500g swordfish steak, cut into 5cm chunks

For the tandoori paste:

  • 1 tsp fennel seeds
  • 1 tsp caraway seeds
  • ½ tsp Kashmiri chilli powder
  • ½ tsp salt
  • 50g natural yoghurt
  • 30g cashew nuts
  • 3cm fresh ginger, roughly chopped
  • 2 garlic cloves, roughly chopped

Method:

  1. Preheat the oven to its highest setting. Mix together the lemon juice, chilli powder, turmeric and salt. Rub all over the fish pieces and set aside for 5 minutes.
  2. For the tandoori paste, put the fennel seeds, caraway seeds, chilli powder and salt into a spice grinder and blend to a powder. Transfer the ground spices to a mini food processor with the yoghurt, cashew nuts, ginger and garlic and blend to a paste.
  3. Rub the paste all over the marinated fish then skewer the fish on metal skewers and set over a roasting tin. Place on the top shelf of the oven. Cook for 5 minutes or until just cooked through. Serve with naan breads and salad.

 

Sushi

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IMG_20160118_165803[1] 14/02/2016

Sushi is so easy to make, tastes way better than the poxy, expensive stuff you buy in shops and you can tailor make it to include your favourite fillings or whatever you have to hand.

Ingredients:

For the rice

  • 300g sushi rice
  • 100ml rice wine vinegar
  • 2 tbsp golden caster sugar

For the Japanese mayonnaise

  • 3 tbsp mayonnaise
  • 1 tbsp rice wine vinegar
  • 1 tsp sauce

For the sushi

  • 25g bag nori (seaweed) sheets
  • choose from the following fillings: cucumber strips, smoked salmon, white crabmeat, canned tuna, avocado, spring onion

To serve with all styles of sushi

  • wasabi (optional – and fiery!)
  • pickled ginger
  • soy sauce

Method:

  1. TO MAKE THE SUSHI RICE: Rinse the sushi rice in cold water until the water runs clear, then soak roughly two parts rice to three parts cold water in a saucepan for 30 minutes.
  2. Next, bring the rice to the boil, cover and cook for 10 minutes or until the rice has absorbed all the water and is tender. Check the packet instructions for exact timings.
  3. Stir through the rice vinegar and sugar.
  4. Cool the rice down as quickly as you can by spreading it onto a baking tray and covering with a slightly damp tea towel.
  5. Dampen your hands to prevent sticking when handling the rice.
  6. Brush your knife with rice vinegar to prevent sticking and cut the roll into neat rounds.

 

  1. TO MAKE SUSHI ROLLS:Pat out some rice. Lay a nori sheet on the mat, shiny-side down. Dip your hands in the vinegar water then pat handfuls of rice on top in a 1cm thick layer, leaving the furthest edge from you clear.
  2. Spread over some Japanese mayonnaise.Use a spoon to spread out a thin layer of mayonnaise down the middle of the rice.
  3. Add the filling.Top the mayonnaise with a line of your favourite fillings – here I’ve used smoked salmon and cucumber.
  4. Roll it up.Lift the edge of the mat over the rice, applying a little pressure to keep everything in a tight roll.
  5. Stick down the sides like a stamp.When you get to the edge without any rice, brush with a little water and continue to roll into a tight roll.
  6. Wrap in cling film.Remove the mat and roll tightly in cling film before cutting the sushi into thick slices then unravel the cling film.

IMG_20160118_165726[1] IMG_20160118_165658[1]

  1. TO MAKE PRESSED SUSHI:Layer over some smoked salmon. Line a loaf tin with cling film then place a thin layer of smoked salmon inside on top of the cling film.
  2. Cover with rice and press down.Press about 3cm of rice over the fish, fold the cling film over and press down as much as you can, using another tin if you have one.
  3. Tip it out like a sandcastle.Turn block of sushi onto a chopping board.  Cut into fingers, then remove the cling film.

 

  1. TO MAKE SUSHI BALLS:Choose your topping. Get a small square of cling film and place a topping, like half a prawn or a small piece of smoked salmon, on it. Use damp hands to roll walnut-sized balls of rice and place on the topping.
  2. Make into tight balls.Bring the corners of the cling film together and tighten into balls by twisting it up then unwrap and serve.