Harissa style spice blend

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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.

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Cheesy Potato and Aspragus Puffs

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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
25g butter
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.

Sticky marzipan and cherry buns

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Stick marzipan and cherry buns (makes 12)

150g butter
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.