Category Archives: Snacks

Coconut, Coriander, Chilli & Ginger Flatbread

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The perfect, light airy flatbread to soak up a curry. Taken from the Real Food cookbook, with added coconut and spring onions. This makes one pretty enormous flatbread

Ingredients

400g strong white bread flour
320ml water
1½ tsp fast action yeast
1 tsp salt
3 tbsp dessicated coconut
2.5cm piece fresh root ginger
1 medium red chilli, deseeded & finely chopped
handful fresh coriander, ripped into pieces
2 spring onions, cut into thin rounds
olive oil

Method

Place a sheet of baking parchment on a baking tray and lightly flour a surface ready for your dough.

Sift the flour into a large bowl, add the salt to one side and the yeast to the other. Add half the chilli and coriander, 2 tbsp coconut and and most of the water. Use your hand to mix it all together, adding the remaining water a little at a time until you have a well-mixed, slightly wet dough. Tip out the dough and knead for 10 minutes.

Roll into a ball then squash down into a round – make sure to put more flour down to stop it sticking. Pick up and place on the baking parchment and squash out further until approximately 1cm thick. Dimple the surface with your fingers, add the remaining chilli, coriander, ginger, coconut and spring onions and give a healthy drizzle of olive oil. Cover with cling film and stick in a warm place to prove until doubled in size.

Preheat the oven to 190oC/375oC/gas mark 5. Remove the clingfilm and put the bread on the middle shelf for 25 minutes or until golden brown. Tap to check whether it’s cooked, it will sound hollow if it has, if not stick back in for 5 minutes. Either serve with a soggy curry or drizzle with oil and serve on its own.

J&W

not so flat flatbread

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Mary Berry’s Hot Cross Buns

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To celebrate Easter (not that I am a huge fan of Easter) I got my Mary Berry on baking these delicious hot cross buns from the latest edition of the Great British Bake Off Masterclass. Despite having watched the programme twice and having the recipe written down in front of me, I somehow still managed to get them wrong. However they turned out fantastic anyway, proving that even the most haphazard baker doesn’t have an excuse for not making a batch of these.

Ingredients

dough
500g strong white bread flour
50g caster sugar
7g salt
10g fast action yeast
40g butter
2 eggs
150ml whole milk
150ml water

filling
250g dried fruit of your choice (sultanas, raisins, mixed peel, Mary Berry suggests 180g dried fruit, 50g mixed peel)
zest of 1 orange (plus about half the juice)
1 apple, diced into small chunks
2 tsp cinnamon
1 tsp ginger
½ tsp nutmeg

crosses
75g plain flour
75ml approx. cold water

glaze
2 tsp apricot or ginger jam (whatever you have in the cupboard)
2 tsp warm water

Method

Weigh out all of the dry dough ingredients into a large mixing bowl, remembering to keep the salt and the yeast on opposite sides of the bowl. Add the eggs and the milk and mix with your hands to ensure the butter is mixed thoroughly and there are no large chunks. By now you should have a vaguely dough-like substance that needs a bit of water to help it come together. Add the water bit by bit until you reach a slightly sticky dough.

Turn out onto the worktop and knead away for 5-10 minutes, stretching the dough and knocking it back. Throw the dough back into the bowl, cover with clingfilm and leave to prove for around an hour.

When the dough has about doubled in size, throw in the fruit and spices. Knead gently to ensure it is evenly distributed throughout the dough. Cut the dough into 12 evenly sized pieces and roughly shape them into balls. Place on a baking tray 3 x 4 with about an inch between each. Leave to prove, covered in cling film, for another hour until the balls are just about touching. Heat your oven to 200 degrees.

Mix the flour with around 50 mls of water to form a thick paste. Add more water slowly to form more of a battery consistency that will be pipe-able. You may not need the whole 75 mls, though you may need a little more. Spoon the batter into a piping bag and pipe over all of the buns on the baking tray – you needn’t do each individually, one long sweep across all 3-4 will give a more professional look.

Bake in the oven for 15-20 mins until dark golden brown. As soon as they come out of the oven, mix up your glaze and brush over the hot buns to give the shiny, sticky finish that make hot cross buns oh so tasty.

Enjoy warm, toasted or cold with lashings of butter or jam.

YUM.

Hot Cross Buns

Ficelles [Thin Baguettes]

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Ficelles are thin baguettes. They are absolutely gorgeous, extremely light and a wonderful accompaniment to soup! This recipe comes from Paul Hollywood’s excellent How To Bake, a book well worth investing in – there are so many recipes Whale & I want to make from it, everything is so tempting.

Mr Hollywood suggests using a mixer for this dough, however I used my hands and found it to be a very enjoyable dough to work with, even for a fairly novice breadmaker as myself! They’re relatively quick and painless to make (and even quicker to eat!)

Ingredients

250g strong white flour
200ml tepid water
5g fast-action yeast
5g salt
1 tbsp olive oil

Suggested toppings

Rosemary & Basil
Chilli Flakes & Cracked Black Pepper
Simple Sea Salt

Method

Line a square/rectangular 2-3 litre plastic tub with oil – a standard Tupperware lunch-sized box will do the trick!

Sieve the flour into a bowl – I find using a heavy bottomed bowl makes working the dough easier – if it sticks it doesn’t tend to pick the bowl up so readily. Add the salt to one side of the flour and the yeast to the other.

Add the water approximately 30-40mls at a time. Use your hand as a dough hook, mixing the dough together. Once each 30/40ml of liquid has been absorbed, knead for a few minutes before adding the next amount of water. This process took me approximately 20-25 minutes, but the dough was quite flexible (if a little sticky at times) and easily workable. Alternatively use a dough hook at medium speed for 8-10 minutes.

Once all the water is incorporated you should have a soft, stretchy dough. Add the olive oil and incorporate as before, using your hand like a dough hook. I found I was able to knead entirely with one hand, whilst using the other to steady the bowl and I’m only little! This gives you the advantage of having at least one clean hand if you ever need to do something urgent, like answering the phone!

After 5 or so minutes working in the oil tip the dough into the oiled container, add the lid (though don’t press it shut) and leave for at least an hour. I left mine for approximately 2 hours, just on a work surface and it quadrupled in size!

Meanwhile line two baking trays with parchment. Once your dough has at least doubled, tip out onto a floured work surface but don’t knock back – you want to treat it as gently as possible to keep its airy texture. Add a little flour to the top of the dough too.

Pull out into a rough rectangle approximately 10cm by 20-25cm. Mr Hollywood suggests cutting along the long edge, however, from experience, I think it would be easier to cut along the short edge as the dough has a tendency to adhere to itself. Cut each strip at approximately 2-3cm width and gently stretch out each strip lengthways a little before placing on the baking trays. Make slight indentations all along with your finger, drizzle over a little olive oil and add your topping of choice.

Once all on the trays, cover with clingfilm and leave for a further half hour. Meanwhile preheat the over to 220oC/425oF/Gas Mark 7. Place the ficelles in the middle and cook for 10-15 minutes until golden brown. Like I said, serve with soup and try not to scoff the whole batch in one go!

J

Stilton, Apple & Walnut Flatbreads

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I decided (rather belatedly) that it should be my new year’s resolution to make sure I a) cook and b) blog a recipe once a week. So, I’m kicking off the year by using up the leftovers from our Christmas cheeseboard. We actually had so much cheese this year that we had a designated shelf in the fridge assigned to cheese.

I would probably serve these with salad, chutney and maybe some more Granny smith apples if you have any left.

Makes 6

Ingredients

250g strong white bread flour
5g yeast
5g salt
15g softened butter
25-40g stilton (depending on taste)
1 Granny smith apple (one large or two small)
12 walnut halves, approx
1 tsp lemon juice
salt and pepper

Method

Make the dough by mixing the flour, butter, salt and yeast in a bowl with around 160ml cool water. The dough should be slightly stickier than you would usually work with. Work the dough in the bowl for a few minutes to stretch the gluten and when it is less sticky, turn it out onto a lightly floured surface and work for 5-10 minutes until soft and elastic.

Leave to prove for 2-3 hours until doubled in size. Meanwhile, crumble the stilton, roughly chop the walnuts and chop the apple into very small cubes for the flatbread filling. Drizzle with a teaspoon of lemon juice to stop the apple from discolouring, add a pinch of salt and pepper.

Knock back the dough and divide into 6 portions. Shape each into a ball and roughly flatten. Place a spoonful of mixture into the centre of each disc and pull the edges over the top to seal in the filling. Roll out to around 15cm diameter.

Fry in a lightly oiled pan on a medium heat for 3 minutes on each side. Serve with salad and more apple.

Yum.

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23rd December is the New Boxing Day: Christmas Entertaining.

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One day, when I am grown up, I will have my own house, my own kitchen and I will learn how to use my own oven. I can’t wait for the time I will be able to host my own Christmas dinner for friends and family. I have had a couple of practice runs, making Christmas roasts and all the trimmings with my housemates each December, but it won’t quite be on par with a grown-up roast until we are able to eat round a dining table. Sadly our student house is too small for a dining table, so we eat around the coffee table or on our laps.

At home, my mum is in charge of the Christmas dinner. That’s not to say she doesn’t appreciate a little help, but she runs the show, meaning I am stuck as the sous-chef, peeling 1000 spuds and chopping 2 tonnes of veg. There is not much room for my creativity, which means I get bored and often hand over my duties to our commis-chef (my dad).

This weekend I am cooking for a birthday party, which is conveniently placed very close to Christmas, so that I can stretch my legs and make something Christmassy of my own. I have long been deliberating what I should cook and have so far narrowed it down to a few favourite party recipes that I will adapt:

Paul Hollywood’s Turkey and Stuffing Chelsea Buns

Turkey, Stuffing and Cranberry Pies

Mini Vol-au-Vents with a Turkey and Stuffing Filling

Can you spot a theme?

These recipes would be great for using up leftovers and impressing people on Boxing Day. In fact, I know that is probably what they were intended for. But a birthday gathering on 23rd December is the new Boxing Day. So they say.

Home-Made Christmas Mincemeat

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My recent mincemeat swirl recipe has been a huge success in our house. Not only have me and my house-mates now made around 5 batches between us, it has spread beyond – to family, friends, tutors…! We now consumed over 6 jars of mincemeat this year so I thought it was about time I branched out and came up with a recipe for my own.

This recipe has been adapted from lots of individual recipes online and from family and friends to get the best of both when it comes to taste and cost. All in all, this recipe comes in at around £5-7 (based on Morrison’s own brand ingredients, Dec 2012) but it makes a tonne of beautiful, home-made mincemeat, perfect for presents or just for your own personal (never-ending) stash of mince pies. Compared to other mincemeat recipes that use brandy or whisky to soak the fruit, this one not only gets bonus points for value, but the flavour of the mulled wine adds so much more to the mix too.

Unlike some recipes, this does not require any cooking, like jams or chutneys. However, for a more sticky, jam-like mincemeat, heating the soaked fruit and juices with 3 tbsp water, in a saucepan on a low heat for 20 minutes. This could be done before putting it into jars or using in your recipe. I would advise doing this if making open tarts or the mincemeat swirl recipe.

Makes approx 3-4lb.

Ingredients

1kg mixed fruit and peel (stuff from the value range is fine, we won’t tell)
180g vegetable suet
1 orange, zested and juiced
1 lemon, zested and juiced
500ml mulled wine (or red wine plus extra ground spices)
2-3 apples, chopped (bramley or eating – whatever you have around)
1-2 tsp ground ginger
1-2 tsp ground cinnamon
1 tsp nutmeg
pinch of mixed spice

Optional:
150g brown sugar (will make it sweeter but will probably help it keep for longer)
75g almonds (or other similar nuts), chopped

Method

Chop the apple into small chunks. Throw everything but the suet into a large bowl and cover with clingfilm -alternatively, use a large saucepan with a lid. Leave in your kitchen overnight, at room temperature, stirring regularly to allow the fruit to soak up all the juice. In the morning, add the suet before spooning into jars.

Keep in a cool dark place. If you have time, your mincemeat will appreciate 2 weeks to allow the flavours to enhance, but if not, it tastes pretty good the same day!

In the unlikely event that you have any of this mincemeat left over after Christmas, it will probably keep for a few months, unopened. However I would be reluctant to keep it for more than 6 months due to the lower alcohol content in this recipe compared to standard ones using brandy or whisky without adding the extra sugar. But, your choice.

Peanut Butter Cupcakes

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There’s something really nice about how peanut butter cupcakes sounds as it rolls off the tongue. I think it might be the combination of Nuh-Buh-Cuh, if you get what I mean? No…well, I don’t blame you.

I made these a while ago and unfortunately, as tends to happen, life got in the way of me uploading the recipe. They were for my housemate’s birthday and I had to make them, wash up and tidy away in under an hour to keep them a surprise! I ended up icing them in my bedroom just in case she came into the kitchen…

They are relatively “mild” on the peanut butter front. Or at least I think so. Feel free to use substitute more of the butter for peanut butter. God knows I would, but not everyone likes peanut butter as much as I do…

Makes approx 12-14

Ingredients

75g butter
110g peanut butter
200g brown sugar
1 egg
1 tsp vanilla extract
260g plain flour
½ tsp salt
½ tsp baking powder
½ tsp bicarbonate of soda
1tsp cinnamon
1 tsp ginger
180ml milk

Icing

75g butter
165g icing sugar
3 tsp water
1 tsp cinnamon

Method

Preheat the oven to 180oC/350oF/gas mark 4 and line a muffin tray with muffin cases.

In a large bowl, cream together the butter, peanut butter and brown sugar. It helps if your butter is soft to begin with, so either take it out the fridge and stick it in your warming oven for a few minutes. Careful not to let it melt though. Once “fluffy and light” or once your arms get too achey to cream anymore, beat in the egg and vanilla extract.

In a separate bowl, sieve together the flour, salt, baking powder, bicarb and spices. Add about a quarter to the butter/sugar/egg mix, stir in, add a quarter of the milk, stir in and then repeat until you have no flour or milk left. Fill the cupcake cases ¾ full and stick in the oven for approximately 20 minutes.

While they’re baking, cream all the icing ingredients together in a bowl. Again, soft butter helps here (though I wouldn’t put it in the oven this time). Try not to “over” cream it as it will start to separate, for reasons unbeknownst to me!

Check the cakes in the usual manner by inserting a knife or skewer into the middle of one of the cakes to see if it comes out clean – if not put back in for a couple of minutes and check again/repeat until done.

Leave to cool before icing, otherwise the butter will melt and you’ll have some fairly disgusting looking cupcakes. I topped mine with a dollop of peanut butter and various nuts to make them as birthday-tastic as I could.

SOMUCHNUTTINESS