Radish tzatziki

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This is lovely for summer salads and BBQs.

Radish tzatziki

100g very finely chopped radishes
1/2 small red onion, finely chopped
Splash of red wine vinegar
1 tsp caster sugar
100ml Greek style yoghurt

1. Mix all the ingredients together. Season with salt and pepper if required. Refrigerate for at least 30 mins and served chilled. Can be made the night before it’s eaten.

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Try something different … Brussels Sprouts

I decided to set myself a challenge for May to cook recipes using ingredients that I don’t normally cook with. I like pretty much all vegetables, but I do know that there are some I gravitate towards, particularly in the kitchen, so I’ve drawn up a list of some fruit and veg that I want to experiment with this month.

Try something different ... Colour Notes

The first recipe I’m posting uses Brussels Sprouts and is based on a recipe in Thomasina Mier’s Book ‘Home Cook’. The original recipe uses Rosetta sprouts and anchovies.

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Sprout, marscapone and pine nut pasta (serves 2)

200g pasta
50g pine nuts
200g finely shredded Brussels Sprouts
1 tbsp olive oil
1 garlic clove
A generous pinch of chilli flakes
The needles from one Rosemary sprig, finely chopped
75ml white wine
50g marscapone
30g finely grated vegetarian Parmesan
Zest of half a lemon

1. Cook the pasta in a large pan of boiling water.

2. While the pasta is cooking, toast the pine nuts in a dry pan until they develop a golden brown colour and then set to one side.

3. Heat the oil in a pan and add the garlic, chilli flakes and rosemary. After 1 minute, add the finely shredded Brussels Sprouts and stir well to combine. Pour in the wine and cook over a medium heat until most of the liquid has evaporated. Stir in the marscapone cheese, vegetarian Parmesan cheese and lemon zest.

4. Once the pasta is cooked, drain well and mix into the sauce, adding half of the toasted pine nuts. Stir well to coat the pasta in the sauce. Serve with the remaining pine nuts sprinkled on top, also no with extra vegetarian Parmesan, if desired.

Apple and thyme scones

I was very lucky to be taken on a trip to the Lake District for my birthday.  We ate out at Fellinis in Ambleside and the restaurant was lovely.  I ate Potato, leek and applewood smoked cheddar pastry with leek butter sauce to start and then pecan and beetroot salad, followed by brioche pudding.

When it came to dessert I was torn, and Apple and Thyme Crumble came in at a close second place. Intrigued by the idea of apple and thyme together, I decided to have a go at making apple and thyme scones.

Apple and thyme scones

Apple and Thyme Scones (Makes about 10 scones) 

1 medium Granny Smith apple
1/2 tbsp lemon juice
225g plain flour
3 level tsp baking powder
a pinch of salt
50g butter, diced
50g caster sugar
150ml milk
1/2 tbsp fresh thyme, finely chopped

1. Preheat the oven to 220°C.

2. Peel and core the apple and cut into small cubes.  Put them into a bowl and cover with the lemon juice to stop the apple discolouring while you prepare the rest of the ingredients.

3. Sift the flour, baking powder and salt into another large bowl. Add the butter and rub into the flour.  Mix in the sugar, thyme and the apple. Add the milk into the dry mixture, reserving about 1 tbsp for glazing the top.

3. Mix everything together using a knife.  The dough will be soft but shouldn’t be sticky.  Roll out on a floured surface.  Use a cutter to cut the scones out.

4. Place on a lightly greased baking tray.  Brush the tops of the scones with the rest of the milk.

5. Bake for about 12 minutes until the tops are golden brown and the scones are nicely risen.

Other ideas for flavourings for scones:

Orange and dried cranberries
Apple and glace ginger or Apple and cinnamon
Cherry and ground almonds
Blueberries

Chocolate Orange Rock Buns

When it comes to food and eating out, I often like to try something different, but I am  prepared to admit that sometimes the classics shouldn’t be messed with. I don’t think there’s much that needs changing when it comes to Rock Buns; they’re one of my favourite easy recipes when you want something comforting to eat alongside a nice cup of tea. However, I’ve recently been tempted to try something a bit different and it did make a nice change, so here’s my suggestion for Chocolate Orange Rock Buns

Chocolate Orange Rock Buns (makes 12)

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200g self raising flour
25g cocoa
1 tsp baking powder
125g butter
50g granulated sugar
115g sultanas
1 egg
Finely grated zest of ½ an orange
3 tbsp Orange juice
Demerara sugar for sprinkling

 

1. Preheat the oven to 200°C and lightly oil two baking trays.

2. Soak the sultanas in 2 tbsp of the orange juice.

3. Add the flour, cocoa powder and baking powder to a bowl. Cut the butter into small cubes and rub the butter into the dry ingredients using your fingers until the mixture resembles breadcrumbs.

4. Add the sugar, egg, sultanas and any remaining juice and orange zest and mix well. The mixture needs to be stiff, but not too dry. Add a splash more orange juice if needed, only adding a little at a time.

5. Use two teaspoons to dollop the mixture in 12 rough heaps on the baking sheets, remember they are meant to look rugged! Sprinkle the Demerara sugar over the top. Bake in the oven for 15 minutes.

These are best eaten soon after baking.

It’s easy to make vegan rock cakes too. I just substitute vegan vegetable spread for the butter and 3 tbsp non-dairy milk for the egg.

Cheddar biscuits

These tasty morsels were made with Irish Cheddar to take to my friend’s St Patrick Day party.

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100g finely grated cheddar cheese
150g plain flour, plus extra for dusting when rolling out the pastry
1 tsp baking powder
A pinch of salt
1/4 tsp paprika
75g Butter, cubed
2 free range egg yolks

1. Add the dry ingredients, including the cheese, to a large mixing bowl. Rub the butter in, using your fingers until the mixture is a sandy texture.

2. Add the egg yolks and mix in well to form a dough. Chill the mixture in the fridge for at least 30 minutes.

3. Preheat oven to 200°C and prepare 2 large baking trays. I usually use a silicone liner.

4. Roll out the dough, you need to get it quite thin as these will rise a little when baked. Aim for 2-3mm. Cut out small shapes using a cookie cutter and place on the baking tray. Bake for 7-9 minutes until golden. Allow to cool.

Holy mole – Mexican Sauce

This Mexican sauce recipe is loosely based on mole poblano, but this is a store cupboard version that’s quick and easy.

Mole

1 onion, finely chopped
1 chilli, preferably a dried chipotle chilli that was been reconstituted in hot water and finely chopped, but I’ve also made this with a finely chopped fresh red chilli.
2 garlic cloves, finely chopped
1 tbsp olive oil
2 tbsp toasted sesame seeds, 1 tbsp for the sauce, 1 tbsp for garnish
1 tbsp chopped almonds (I use flaked almonds and chop them into small pieces using a mezzaluna. I would use ground almonds if that was what I had in the cupboards)
½ tsp ground cinnamon
½ tsp ground cloves
½ tsp ground cumin
3 tbsp tomato purée (you could alternatively use 3 tomatoes, peeled and chopped, but I don’t always have fresh tomatoes in the house)
1 tbsp peanut butter
25g plain chocolate
350ml vegetable stock

(An authentic mole poblano would also have a handful of raisins in, add them if you want, but I prefer this without.)

1. Heat the oil in a large saucepan and cook the onions, garlic and chillis gently until soft.

2. Add the sesame seeds, almonds, ground cinnamon, cloves and cumin and cook for 2 minutes, stirring well.

3. Add the tomato purée, stock, peanut butter and chocolate and stir well. Cook at a simmer for 10 minutes.

While the sauce is simmering, I would usually throw in a selection of vegetables and legumes to cook.

If you would prefer to make a more traditional mole poblano sauce, there are recipes on the BBC website that you could adapt.

Chocolate Caramel Cake

This started out life as a Mint Chocolate Cake from the Jamie Oliver magazine. I had such a lot of complements for my version of that cake, that I wanted to adapt it for my friend’s birthday cake, by trying a different flavour combination.

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Cake

175ml vegetable oil
425g caster sugar
3 large free range eggs
1 tbsp vanilla extract
375g plain flour
100g cocoa powder
1 tsp fine sea salt
1 tbsp baking powder
2 tsp Bicarbonate of soda
500ml milk

Icing

300g caramel sauce from a jar or tin
250g butter, softened
500g icing sugar
At least 1 tbsp milk

1. Preheat the oven to 180°C. Grease a line three 20cm round cake tins.

2. Mix together the oil and sugar using an electric mixer. Mix for at least one minute, until smooth.

3. Add the eggs and vanilla and whisk for a further 3 minutes until the mixture is pale.

4. In a separate bowl, mix together the flour, cocoa, salt, baking powder and Bicarbonate of soda. Mix the dry ingredients into the oil and sugar, along with the milk. Be careful as the mixture is quite sloppy – I’ve found it has a tendency to slosh out of the bowl!

5. Once the mixture is well combined, divide between the 3 cake tins. Bake in the oven for 40 – 45 minutes. Test to see if 5he Cake is ready by inserting a skewer into the centre of the cake. If the skewer comes out clean, then it’s cooked. Allow the cakes to cool.

6. To make the icing, in an electric mixer thoroughly mix 200g caramel sauce and the butter until completely smooth. Add a splash of milk and half the icing sugar and mix together for 3 minutes. Continue to add the icing sugar as needed until you get the right spreadable consistency. If you add too much icing sugar, you can add a splash more milk.

7. Construct the cake by sandwiching the layers of cake together using a dollop of the remaining caramel and a generous amount of the icing. Use the remaining icing to cover the top and sides in your desired style. I also added some Caramac, cake crumbs and some crushed Werther’s Originals as extra decoration.

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Here’s a picture of the mint chocolate version.