I already have an overflowing herb and spice cupboard, so I’m usually reluctant to add new jars if I think I can recreate the flavours using things I’ve already got. This is my attempt at a Harissa style spice mix. The picture shows the layers of ingredients and makes me smile as it reminds me of a childhood holiday to the Isle of White where my sister and I made souvenirs by layering the 7 different coloured sands in various glass containers. Before using, the layers will need muddling together by stirring, shaking, or ideally grinding in a pestle and mortar. Harissa paste is made with red peppers but I had to substitute that for dried tomato powder as that was what I had in the cupboard!
4 tsp dried tomato powder
2 tsp coriander seeds
1 tsp dried coriander
2 tsp cumin seeds
2 tsp smoked paprika
1 tsp garlic powder
4 tsp chilli flakes
Pinch of salt, pepper and dried mint
Stir all the ingredients together.
This is great used as a flavouring for roasted potatoes.
These are great for a party snack or for a side dish to accompany your lunch or breakfast. You can experiment with adding different things in place of the asparagus.
Cheesy Potato and Asparagus Puffs (makes 12)
500g potatoes, peeled and chopped into chunks
8 asparagus spears
2 medium free range eggs
50g grated cheddar cheese
3 tbsp milk
1. Preheat the oven to 200°C.
2. Grease a 12 hole muffin tin. Make sure you do it really well, these ones take a bit of manuoevering to get them out of the tin!
3. Bring the potatoes to the boil and simmer for around 15 minutes until soft.
4. Meanwhile cook the asparagus anyway you choose, I usually steam or cook it in a skillet on the hob. Cut the asparagus into 1 cm long pieces.
5. Seperate two eggs. Whip the whites until fluffy and set to one side.
6. When they are cooked, drain the potatoes well and mash thoroughly.
7. Mix the cheese, asparagus, milk, butter and egg yolks into the potato until thoroughly combined. Gently fold in the whisked egg whites.
8. Spoon the mixture into the muffin tins. Bake in the oven for 15 minutes.
9. On removing the tray from the oven, run a knife around the edge of each puff to ease it away from the tin, but wait until they have cooled before extracting them.
Stick marzipan and cherry buns (makes 12)
150g caster sugar
2 large free range eggs
150g self raising flour
1 tsp almond extract
75g glacé cherries, washed and halved
50g marzipan, cut into 5mm cubes
1. Preheat oven to 180°C. Prepare a bun tray by lining with bun cases.
2. Cream the butter and caster sugar together until pale and fluffy.
3. Add the eggs, one at a time, alternating with mixing in some of the flour. Once all the flour is stirred in, add the almond extract.
4. Stir in the cherries and the marzipan pieces.
5. Divide the mixture between the bun cases. Bake for 20 mins until golden and risen.
6. If you want to ice the buns, I would suggest starting with this recipe here. I made a wet style icing, but you can make something firmer and good for piping if you want by playing around with the volumes of ingredients.
My new favourite way to enjoy gin – with slimline tonic, fresh ginger and a cube of brown sugar. In this case the gin was Jawbox.
This recipe is somewhere between a soup and a stew – a stoup maybe?!
It’s very easy to make and really healthy.
Spicy Potato and Cabbage Stew (serves 4)
1 large white onion, peeled and finely chopped
Splash of olive oil or vegetable oil
2 garlic cloves, peeled and minced
1 red chilli, deseeded and cut into very small pieces
1 heaped tsp Nigella seeds
1/2 tsp tumeric
2 heaped tsp medium curry powder
1 litre vegetable stock
800g potatoes, peeled and cut into squares
150g shredded cabbage
1. Cook the onion, garlic, chilli, Nigella seeds, turmeric and curry powder in a large saucepan with a splash of oil, until the onion has softened.
2. Stir in the vegetable stock and the potatoes. Bring to the boil and simmer for 15 minutes.
3. Add the cabbage and cook for another 2 minutes. Add seasoning if required before serving.
I think it was 2016 that I first come across the concept of the Creme Egg “Scotch Egg”. As a vegetarian, I often find myself adapting traditionally meat-based dishes into something using different ingredients, but I loved the idea of taking something savoury and making it sweet too.
I found lots of recipes online, but I wanted to do things slightly differently as I wanted to achieve a crumb coating, rather than a chocolate based coating. The steps below are less of a recipe, more construction suggestions.
Creme Egg Scotch Eggs
- I used 2 packets of mini Creme Eggs. A lot of the recipes I looked at online used full size Creme Eggs, but for me the smaller size was perfect.
- For the covering, I went for a cake pop style mixture, I crumbled 200g chocolate cake and mixed in 150g of chocolate icing. This creates a mixture that is easy to mould around the eggs. After coating the eggs I put them in the fridge for a couple of hours to let the mixture firm up.
- For the outside coating I went for a biscuit base. I crumbled 75g of shortbread biscuits, getting the crumbs as fine as I could. I melted 75g milk chocolate. I dipped each covered egg in the chocolate and rolled this in the biscuit crumb to fully coat. I would recommend using one hand to get the egg coated in chocolate and the other hand for the biscuit mixture. Let the chocolate set before serving the eggs.
You don’t need to use fancy fizz for this dessert as the addition of the rose water impacts on the taste.
Sparkling raspberry and rose jelly (Serves 4)
1. Divide a small punnet of raspberries between 4 nice glasses, such as champagne glasses.
2. Pour 500ml of sparkling wine into a pan. Add 2-3 drops of rose water – be cautious as it’s a very strong flavour and you don’t want it to be overpowering.
3. Sprinkle over 1 packet of Asda Vegetarian Gel. Turn the heat on under the pan and then thoroughly whisk the powder into the liquid. Heat for 3 minutes.
4. Pour the liquid into the glasses over the raspberries. Allow the jelly to set (you can do this at room temperature, they don’t need to go into the fridge).