Monday, 30 March 2015

Tea Bread

This cake keeps for days and if you ask me is actually improved by giving it a couple of days (in an airtight container) to mature after baking.

Ingredients:

  • 4 tea bags, I used English Breakfast
  • 300ml boiling water
  • 500g mixed dried fruit, choose your favourite, but I had 200g currants, 100g dried pineapple 100g dried papaya and 100g dried cranberries
  • 125g unrefined caster sugar
  • 250g self-raising flour
  • 1/2 tsp mixed spice
  • 1 egg

Method:

  • Pour the boiling water onto the tea bags and leave to brew for 15 minutes before removing the tea bags.
  • Put the dried fruit in a large bowl and pour the tea over it.
  • Leave the fruit overnight to soak up the tea.
  • Pre-heat the oven to 170 degrees.
  • Mix the sugar, flour, spice and egg into the fruit and stir until it's well mixed.
  • Put a loaf tin liner into a 2lb loaf tin and then pour the mixture into that.
  • Bake for 70 minutes in the oven.
  • Remove and leave to cool in the tin.

  • Makes a 1kg loaf.

    Thursday, 19 March 2015

    Caraway Seed Loaf Cake

    The taste of caraway has a slightly anise-like taste, but is also unique on it's own. As a flavour for a cake which it is a little unusual to see these days, but it's worth tracking down some caraway seeds.

    Ingredients:

    • 175g spreadable butter (vegetable fat blended with buttermilk or butter)
    • 175g caster sugar
    • 175g self-raising flour
    • 50g ground almonds
    • 3 tsp caraway seeds
    • 60ml milk
    • 3 eggs
    • 2 tbsp of unrefined granulated sugar
    • 10g (about 1 tbsp) flaked almonds

    Method:

    1. Preheat the oven to 180 degrees Celsius.
    2. Put the butter and caster sugar in a bowl and cream together.
    3. Add the flour, ground almonds, caraway seeds, milk and eggs and mix together until a smooth batter is formed.
    4. Pour the batter into a lined 2lb loaf tin. It's easiest to get some of the pre-made liners rather than trying to cut greaseproof paper to fit.
    5. Use the back of a spoon to level off the batter. Sprinkle the granulated sugar followed by the flaked almonds over the top of the mixture.
    6. Place in the oven for an hour.
    7. Use a skewer to test that the cake is cooked in the centre (it should come out clean). You might need an extra 10 minutes, depending on how powerful your oven is.
    8. Remove from the oven and leave for 20 minutes in the tin.
    9. Lift the cake out of the tin and leave to cool on a rack.
    10. Once fully cool, store the cake in an airtight container and enjoy.

    Makes a 2lb loaf shaped cake.

    Monday, 9 March 2015

    Bacon Cauliflower

    This is so very simple but leads to a great tasting vegetable.

    Ingredients:

    • 1 medium sized cauliflower, all leaves removed
    • 16 slices of streaky bacon

    Method:

    1. Preheat the oven to 170 degrees celsius.
    2. Carefully wrap the bacon around the cauliflower, starting at the top and tucking the edges in under it.
    3. Place into a large roasting tin.
    4. Bake in the oven for an hour and a half.
    5. Remove from the roasting tin and serve whole, slicing it at the table.

    Serves 6.

    Friday, 6 March 2015

    Slow Roasted Pork Belly

    The meat in this goes wonderfully soft and is self-basted by the fat of the belly. Serve it with some moist vegetables and an apple sauce, I prefer the softness of mashed potato to roast potatoes for this.

    Ingredients:

    • 5 large garlic bulbs, the tops sliced off
    • approx 1kg pork belly
    • 3 sprigs of fresh thyme
    • 1/2 tsp salt

    Method:

    1. Preheat the oven to 220 degrees celsius.
    2. If using a butcher to buy the pork belly, ask them to score the skin on the top. If not then get your sharpest knife and score parallel lines in it, under 1cm apart.
    3. Place the garlic bulbs in a large roasting tin and then prop the pork belly, skin side up, on top of them.
    4. Rub the thyme over the top of the pork and then sprinkle the salt over it.
    5. Leave to rest for 15 minutes so that the salt can draw out some of the moisture.
    6. Put in the oven and roast for 25 minutes.
    7. Reduce the temperature to 160 and continue to cook for an hour.
    8. Finally reduce the temperature to 120 and cook for another four hours.
    9. Remove from the oven and leave to rest for at least 15 minutes before serving.

    Serves 4.

    Wednesday, 4 March 2015

    Eggy Bread

    Also called French toast, this is a quick snack which only takes minutes to make. Personally I love to spread a thin layer of Marmite on it before biting into it, but each to their own.

    Ingredients:

    • 2 tbsp sunflower oil
    • 2 eggs, lightly beaten
    • 4 slices of bread

    Method:

    1. Heat the oil in a frying pan on a medium heat.
    2. Put the eggs into a wide bowl and season to taste.
    3. Coat a couple of slices of the bread in the beaten egg and then into the hot frying pan.
    4. Cook for a couple of minutes and then turn over.
    5. Once the second side is done, remove from the pan and repeat for the remaining slices.
    6. Serve immediately, possibly with a little butter or a dusting of icing sugar.

    Makes 4 slices.

    Monday, 23 February 2015

    Lazy Fondant Potatoes

    This is a lazy form of fondant potatoes which doesn't even require the potatoes to be peeled.

    Ingredients:

    • 3 large potatoes, washed and any bad bits cut out
    • 25g butter
    • 1 chicken or vegetable stock cube
    • 200ml boiling water
    • 2 cloves of garlic, peeled and chopped in half

    Method:

    1. Cut the potatoes into slices about an inch or an inch and a half in width.
    2. Melt the butter in a pan large enough to hold all the potatoes over a medium-high heat.
    3. When the butter starts to bubble, place the potatoes into the pan.
    4. Sear the first side of the potatoes for 3 or 4 minutes and then turn them over.
    5. Give the other side a further 3 or 4 minutes.
    6. Dissolve the stock cube in the boiling water.
    7. Pour the stock water into the pan and add the garlic.
    8. Reduce the heat and simmer for 20 minutes.
    9. Turn the potatoes again and give another 5 to 10 minutes. If the pan is starting to get dry add a bit more liquid, but remember that you want it to all be reduced down before serving.
    10. Remove the potatoes from the pan, serve as a side dish and drizzle any remaining liquid in the pan over the potatoes.

    Serves 2.

    Monday, 22 December 2014

    Slow Cooker Beef Curry

    This is a quick and easy curry to make in a slow cooker. If you like a spicy curry then increase the number of chillis that you blend into the mixture.

    Ingredients:

    • 2 tbsp sunflower oil
    • 900g beef braising/stewing steak, cut into 1 inch pieces
    • 2 tbsp sunflower oil
    • 2 onions, peeled and roughly chopped
    • 6 garlic cloves, peeled
    • 1 chilli pepper, roughly chopped
    • 1 inch piece of root ginger, peeled and roughly chopped
    • 4 tsp ground coriander
    • 3 tsp ground cumin
    • 3 tsp ground turmeric
    • 2 tins of chopped tomatoes
    • 1 chilli pepper, whole but pricked all over with the tip of a knife
    • 2 tsp garam masala
    • 150g natural yoghurt
    • 50g fresh coriander, roughly chopped

    Method:

    1. Brown the meat in a large frying pan with two tablespoons of oil. Turn it after a couple of minutes so that all sides are browned. Unless you have a crazily large frying pan, you'll need to do this in two or three batches. Put the meat straight into the slow cooker when it's done.
    2. Put the remaining oil, onions, garlic, one chilli pepper, root ginger, ground coriander, cumin and turmeric into a blender and blend into a smooth paste.
    3. Fry the onion paste in the same pan as the beef for 10 minutes, stirring well every couple of minutes.
    4. Place in the slow cooker and add the tins of tomatoes and the whole chilli pepper before mixing well.
    5. Cook on low for 8 hours.
    6. 30 minutes before the end, stir in the garam masala and yoghurt into the curry.
    7. Just before serving, stir in the fresh coriander and then serve with rice.

    Serves six.