Moussaka

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moussaka 18/05/2017

A good moussaka is a joy to behold with cinnamon spiced lamb mingling with aubergines and a delicious creamy sauce. It is something I’ve always wanted to make but never have until my friends and I decided to have a Greek night. Perfect chance. I don’t know why I’ve not made one before. It’s extremely comforting and flavourful and well worth the effort.

Serves 6

Ingredients:

Aubergine:

  • 2 large aubergines, cut into ¼” / ¾ cm thick slices
  • 1 Tbsp olive oil

Filling:

  • 1 Tbsp olive oil
  • 1 onion, chopped
  • 3 cloves garlic, grated
  • 500 g lamb mince
  • 1 cinnamon stick
  • 1 Tbsp plain flour
  • 400g tinned plum tomatoes
  • 3 tbsp tomato puree
  • 1 cup chicken or lamb broth/stock, or water + 1 stock cube
  • 1 tsp dried mint
  • 2 tsp dried oregano
  • ¾ tsp salt
  • ½ tsp allspice (optional)
  • Lemon zest and juice (optional)

Béchamel Sauce:

  • 4 tbsp butter
  • 5 tbsp plain flour
  • 3 cups milk
  • ¼ tsp nutmeg, freshly grated
  • ½ cup grated parmesan cheese
  • 1 egg
  • Salt and pepper
  • Topping:
  • ⅓ cup panko or fresh breadcrumbs

moussakassmoussakas

Method:

Aubergine:

  1. Sprinkle the aubergines with salt and place them (stacked) in a large colander. Leave to sweat for 30 minutes, then brush off excess salt and pat dry with a paper towel.
  2. Preheat oven to 200C. Lay the aubergine onto 2 large baking trays, brush with olive oil and bake for 10 minutes or until just softened. Remove and set aside to cool.

Filling:

  1. Heat olive oil in a pan over medium high heat then cook the garlic and onion for 3 minutes. Add the lamb and cook, using the wooden spoon to break up the mince as you go. Add the flour and herbs and stir. Add remaining ingredients and bring to a simmer, then cover, lower heat to medium low and cook for 15 minutes.

Béchamel Sauce:

  1. Melt butter in a pan over medium heat. Add flour and cook for 1 minute, using a whisk to keep it moving.
  2. Add 1 cup of milk and whisk to combine. It will thicken quite quickly. Add the remaining milk. Whisk until smooth then cook for 3 to 5 minutes or until it thickens so that it thickly coats the back of a wooden spoon.
  3. Remove from the stove and whisk in cheese. Allow to cool for 5 minutes then whisk the eggs in.
  4. Add salt and pepper to taste.

Assemble:

  1. Preheat oven to 180C.
  2. Place half the filling in the bottom of a baking dish then half of the aubergine in a layer on top. Repeat the process with the remaining filling and aubergine.
  3. Pour over the béchamel sauce, sprinkle with breadcrumbs and a little extra grated cheese and bake for 30 – 40 minutes or until golden brown.
  4. Allow to stand for at least 10 minutes before serving.

Palestinian Cheese Buns

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Palestinian cheese buns 15/05/2017

An authentic Palestinian bread from Jaffa that is served as a main meal along with a bowl of soup or a salad, this “Yafawi Sfeeha”, also known as “Milwayeh” which means twisted, is crispy yet fluffy and full of flavour.

The dough is a sort of un-yeasted bread dough that needs to be stretched out really thin, to the point where you can see through it, before adding the filling and rolling it up. The shaping technique takes a bit of practice to get right but you get the hang of it after you have done a couple.

The filling is traditionally meat based but I have chosen to make a cheese version using halloumi as that is what I had available. Feta would be great too.

Makes: 8

Ingredients:

Dough:

  • 210g (1 + ¾ cups) plain flour
  • ½ tsp salt
  • ½ tbsp sugar
  • 1½ tbsp powdered milk
  • 1½ tbsp vegetable oil
  • 130ml (1/2 cup + 1 tbsp) water
  • olive oil or ghee for shaping

Filling:

  • 250g (9 oz) halloumi cheese, grated (or feta, crumbled)
  • 1 medium egg, beaten
  • small handful of fresh flat leaf parsley, finely chopped
  • fresh ground black pepper

Palestinian cheese buns2

Method:

  1. Place the flour, salt, sugar, powdered milk and vegetable oil in a bowl and gradually add the water until you have a soft, slightly sticky dough. Turn out onto a work surface and knead for about 10 minutes.
  2. Divide the dough into 8 even pieces and shape into balls, place on a greased tray and cover with oiled clingfilm, leave to rest for at least a couple of hours and up to overnight.
  3. Once the dough has rested make the filling, simply mix together the grated cheese, beaten egg and chopped parsley in a bowl with some freshly ground black pepper. Preheat the oven to 200C.
  4. Grease a work surface and your hands well with olive oil or ghee; take one ball of dough and use your hands to gently spread it out on the oiled surface into a large, thin circle. You should be able to spread it out to about 25cm (10in) wide and it should be thin enough to see through.
  5. Fold one side of the circle over the middle, then the other, so that the dough is almost folded into thirds.
  6. Spread some of the filling along one edge of the dough, fold the closest side over the top of the filling then roll it up into a tight sausage; coil the sausage up in a spiral shape, place the bun on a baking tray.
  7. Re-grease the work surface and your hands and repeat with the remaining balls of dough.
  8. Bake for about 20 minutes until golden brown. Serve warm.

Khachapuri

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kachapori 14/05/2017

The recipe is very loosely adapted from traditional Georgian versions but makes use of what I had in at the time. First, for a lack of Georgian cheese supplies, I used a more generic assortment of cheeses including parmesan and mozzarella, which yielded a satisfactory gooey-ness and savoury flavour.  Instead of mixing them with egg before baking, as is traditional, I used a thick bechamel sauce because I thought it would be a nice change and provide a creamier filling. You can substitute the sauce for egg if you like or even crack one on top when baking! The added tapenade really gave the bread another depth of savouriness and flavour. Rip off the crust and dunk it into the gooey centre for ultimate yum!

Makes 4 large breads.

Ingredients:

Dough:

  • 450g strong white bread flour
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1 teaspoon caster sugar
  • 2 x 7g sachets fast action dried yeast
  • 300ml warm water
  • 2 Tablespoons good olive oil

Filling:

  • 2 tbsp unsalted butter
  • 2 tbsp plain flour
  • ¾ cup milk, cold
  • ¼ tsp freshly grated nutmeg, plus more to top
  • Salt and freshly ground black pepper to taste
  • 320g of equal parts of grated mozzarella and parmesan cheese
  • 4-6 tbsp black olive tapenade (recipe in instructions)

 

Method:

  1. For the dough: Place salt and flour into a large bowl. Add the sugar and yeast but do not let the yeast directly contact the salt.
  2. Pour in the water and olive oil. Mix together with your fingers.
  3. Work the dough into a soft warm ball then slap it onto a lightly floured surface and knead for 10 minutes until soft and elastic.
  4. Place the dough in a lightly oiled, large bowl and lightly oil the dough itself so a crust does not form. Cover the bowl with a plastic bag and leave in a warm place for about an hour until the dough has doubled in size.
  5. For the filling: While the dough is proofing, cook/stir butter and flour in a pan over medium heat for 1 min. Add the cold milk and whisk the mixture continuously until it starts to simmer and thicken. The consistency should be like mayonnaise. Add the grated nutmeg then season with a bit of salt and black pepper. Let the sauce COOL COMPLETELY then evenly mix in the grated cheese (the cheese should not melt). Set aside.
  6. If you’re making your own tapenade: In a food-processor, combine 155g pitted black olives, 6 tbsp extra virgin olive oil, 3 cloves of garlic, 3 anchovy fillets, 3/4 tsp white wine vinegar and 1/2 tsp freshly ground black pepper. Puree the mixture as smoothly as you can. Set aside.
  7. To bake the bread:Preheat the oven on 250C, with a pizza-stone or large inverted cast-iron pan in the middle.
  8. On a lightly floured surface, roll the dough into a large oval with pointy tips then transfer to a piece of parchment paper. Rub 1-2 tbsp of tapenade over the dough, then pile ¼ of the cheese-mixture across the middle. Fold the dough over to partially cover the cheese, then bring the 2 ends together and tuck the tips underneath itself, then pinch at the bottom so it sticks. Repeat with the others.
  9. Slide the parchment with the bread on top, onto the pizza-stone or inverted cast-iron pan. Bake for 10 min until golden browned on all sides.

Bacon Roly Polies

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bacon (2) 22/04/2017

Yes, you read that correctly – wheels of cheesy bacon! Simple to make, yet deliciously moreish to eat, these bacon rolls make a great savoury snack, picnic staple, or side for soups and stews. A tasty filling of bacon, cheddar and cream cheese is rolled in an easy pastry, and then these little rolls only take 15 minutes to bake.

Ingredients:

Bacon filling:

  • 8 bacon rashers
  • 1 medium onion, finely chopped
  • 100g of soft cheese
  • 100g of cheddar, grated
  • 1/2 bunch of flat-leaf parsley, chopped
  • 1 garlic clove, crushed

Pastry:

  • 250g of plain flour
  • 3 tsp baking powder
  • 75g of unsalted butter, diced and cold
  • 225ml of milk
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 20g of butter, melted

Method:

  1. Preheat the oven to 180°C. Line a baking tray with parchment paper.
  2. Place the flour, baking powder and salt in a bowl. Crumb the butter into the flour using your thumbs and forefingers. Mix in the milk until just combined.
  3. Place onto a floured work surface and roll into a 1cm thick rectangle, trimming the edges of the dough if desired.
  4. Brush the dough with some of the melted butter then layer the bacon on top to cover the pastry, making sure to leave a 2cm edge free on one of the long sides of the dough,
  5. Mix the onion, cheeses, parsley and garlic together and spread over the bacon.
  6. Brush the gap at the edge of the dough with water then roll into a spiral, sealing the edge brushed with water to the body of the roll.
  7. Wrap the roll in cling film and refrigerate for 20 minutes
  8. Slice the roll into 1.5cm slices and place, spiral side up, onto the baking tray. Bake for 15 minutes, or until golden. Serve warm.

Cheese & Wild Garlic Scones

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wild-garlic-and-cheese-scones 12/02/2017

I’ve been wanting to try wild garlic for ages but have never been able to find it… until now. I came across some at a local market and in my excitement, bought way more than one person could possibly eat. I have now stocked up the freezer with a variety of garlicky infused meals and baked goods. It’s going to be a good week.

These scones are wonderfully fluffy, and cheesy. The wild garlic is quite different to using garlic cloves. It has a more subtle onion flavour, very similar to chives but more… well, garlicky.

Makes about 6 whoppers

Ingredients:

  • 220g self-raising flour
  • ½ teaspoon fine sea salt
  • 50g butter
  • 1 egg beaten
  • Milk
  • 120g grated cheddar cheese
  • a generous handful of wild garlic, finely chopped (if you haven’t got any wild garlic snipped chives work well instead)
  • a pinch of cayenne pepper
  • a good pinch of English mustard powder

Method:

  1. Preheat the oven to 200°C
  2. Sift the flour and salt into a large bowl
  3. Rub the butter in until it resembles fine breadcrumbs
  4. Stir in the grated cheese and finely chopped wild garlic or chives
  5. Add the pepper and mustard and mix
  6. Add enough milk to the beaten egg to make it up to 150ml of liquid
  7. Make a well in the centre of the flour mixture and pour in the egg/milk mixture
  8. Mix to a soft dough with a metal knife
  9. Turn onto a floured surface and knead gently and lightly until it is just smooth
  10. Press out to about 2½cm deep and cut out rounds with a 7cm pastry cutter gathering the scraps together each time, re-rolling and stamping until you have 6 or 7 scones
  11. Pop the scones onto a lightly oiled baking sheet, brush the tops with a little milk and bake them for 15 – 20 minutes until well risen and golden brown and your kitchen smells divine
  12. Leave to cool on a wire rack or scoff straight from the oven!

Vegan Queso Nacho Stack

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nacho-cheese 30/11/2016

A cheese sauce that’s vegan, dairy free, tastes amazing and is good for you. Stuff of dreams, right? Wrong! This vegan queso dip is actually made from aubergines that have been grilled and finely blended with spice and garlic for a silky sauce that is great for dunking, spreading and pouring on all things Mexican.

I made this for a dinner night with my friends and yes, there’s always one who can’t eat anything but I presented her with this and she absolutely loved it. So did all the meat eating, dairy tolerant girls too!

Ingredients:

  • 1 medium aubergine, sliced into ¼ inch thick rounds
  • Olive oil
  • Sea salt
  • 5-2 cups oat milk (or other vegan milk)
  • 1 clove finely minced fresh garlic
  • ¼ tsp cumin
  • ¼ tsp chili powder
  • 1 tsp corn flour (optional for thickening)
  • OPTIONAL: Smoked paprika and hot sauce for added colour and flavour upon serving.

Instructions:

  1. Sprinkle both sides of the aubergine slices with a little sea salt and arrange in a colander to help draw out some of the moisture and bitterness. Let set for 10-15 minutes then rinse with cool water and thoroughly pat dry between two clean towels.
  2. Preheat grill to high and place an oven rack near the top of the oven. Arrange the dried aubergine rounds on a baking sheet lightly spritzed with non-stick spray. Sprinkle with a very small amount of salt.
  3. Grill on high for 4-5 minutes on each side, watching carefully as to not let them burn. Flip at the halfway point to ensure even cooking. Once the aubergine appears tender and both sides have golden brown colour, remove from the oven and wrap loosely in foil to steam.
  4. After a few minutes, unwrap and peel the aubergine skin away. It should come right off.
  5. Place aubergine in a blender with the 1.5 cups (to start) oat milk, minced garlic, cumin, chili powder and corn flour and blend on high until smooth and creamy. Taste and adjust seasonings as needed. To thin, add more oat milk.
  6. Transfer to a small saucepan and warm over medium to medium heat until slightly thickened and bubbly – about 5 minutes. The longer you go the thicker it will become.
  7. NOTE: If it isn’t looking as thick as you want, thicken with a slurry of corn flour by adding an additional 1 tsp corn flour to a small bowl with a little oat milk. Whisk to combine and then stir back into the pan. This should thicken it right up.
  8. Serve with nachos, salsa, crackers or veggie sticks.
  9. Refrigerate and cover leftovers. Reheats extremely well in the microwave or in a saucepan. This will keep for up to a few days but is best when fresh. It can be enjoyed hot or cold. I like mine on a massive nacho stack!

Cypriot Flaounes

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screenshot_2016-10-16-17-09-30-11 16/10/2016

Traditionally, this is a celebratory cheese- and egg-stuffed pastry served up during Ramadan and Easter in Cyprus. These delicious snacks also make a hearty breakfast when served with olives, tomato and punchy Cypriot coffee.

Outside of Cyprus, these cheese breads are commonly called flaounes in Greek or pilavuna in Turkish. In BallisticBaker they are called heaven!

You need to make the bread dough first, that acts as a ‘bread pastry’ casing for the filling, of cheese, eggs and mint. Traditionally you would use Cypriot cheeses in the filling such as flaouna cheese and halloumi, but as it is hard to get flaouna cheese outside of Cyprus, I have offered alternatives of punchy parmesan and mature cheddar to deliver a big savoury flavour.

I hope you enjoy these little Cypriot pastries if you make them (which you need to). If you have a sweet tooth, you can also add sultanas to the filling but I prefer them completely savoury.

Makes 3-4

Ingredients:

Dough:

  • 375g of strong white bread flour
  • 7g of fast-action dried yeast
  • 1 tsp salt
  • 1 tsp sugar
  • 2 tbsp of olive oil
  • 150-200ml of water, tepid, to mix

Filling:

  • 75g of cheddar, grated
  • 75g of halloumi, grated
  • 25g of Parmesan, grated
  • 1 tsp of plain flour
  • ½ tsp baking powder
  • 1 tbsp of dried mint or half bunch fresh mint, chopped finely
  • 1 large egg, beaten
  • 25g of sultanas, optional

Glaze:

  • 1 egg, beaten
  • sesame seeds

screenshot_2016-10-16-16-53-20-11 screenshot_2016-10-16-16-54-29-11

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Method:

  1. Preheat the oven to 200°C. Line a baking tray with greaseproof paper.
  2. Sift the flour into a large bowl and add the remaining ingredients, adding more water if the mixture is too dry. Knead for 10 minutes by hand on a lightly oiled work surface. Place the dough into a large bowl and cover with an oiled piece of cling film. Leave in warm place to rise for 1 hour.
  3. To make the filling, mix the egg with the remaining ingredients. Add a little of the egg you will be using for the glaze if needed – you don’t want the final mixture to be too runny. If you add the egg and it gets too runny, add more cheese and flour to compensate. The mixture should be stiff enough to roll into balls.
  4. Roll out the dough and cut into 3 or 4 pieces. Roll out each piece to a square or a round and place a ball of filling in the middle. Bring the corners up to almost cover the filling
  5. Brush the pastries with the beaten egg all over and sprinkle sesame seeds over the top and sides.
  6. Place the pastries on the baking tray and bake in the oven for 15–20 minutes, or until the pastries are well risen, dark golden brown and the filling has puffed up.
  7. Serve warm or cold; perfect for breakfast, brunch or lunch when sliced and served with olives, cheese and sliced tomatoes… and coffee!

I think these are best eaten about an hour after you’ve removed them from the oven. The bread is so fluffy and fresh and the filling is still slightly oozy. You can eat them cold or reheat in a warm oven for 10 minutes to refresh.