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.

Sweetcorn fritters

This is one of those recipes we make quite a lot.  For us, it’s a recipe we can throw together from ingredients we have in the cupboards.

Sweetcorn fritters

Sweetcorn pancakes (Serves 4)

125g self-raising flour
1 egg
125ml milk
400g can of sweetcorn, drained
Salt and pepper
Oil for frying

1. Mix the flour, egg and milk in a food processor until smooth.  Add half the sweetcorn and pulse again.

2. Fold in the remaining sweetcorn and season as required.

3. Brush the frying pan lightly with oil and heat up the pan.  Cook tablespoonfuls of the batter at a time.  When the mixture has set, flip over and cook the second side until golden.  Repeat until all the mixture has been used.

Serve with a tomato chutney.

Seasoned Polenta Chips

Polenta Chips

Not the healthiest treat, but yummy none the less!

Polenta Chips (serves 4)

500g block of ready-cooked polenta
2tbsp plain flour
2 tsp chilli powder
Pinch of salt and pepper
Oil for frying

  1. Cut the block of polenta into 1cm wide chips
  2. Mix the flour, chilli powder, salt and pepper together and use to coat the polenta chips
  3. Heat a 1 cm depth of oil in a frying pana dn shallow fry the chips, a handful at a time for about 10 minutes until golden.
  4. Drain the chips on kitchen paper and keep warm