Tuesday, 30 November 2010

Christmas recipes

I'm very excited because it's almost December and for the first time I have a wonderful big kitchen to do lots of Christmas cooking. We're also only heading North for a couple of nights this year so we'll be spending more of the festive period at home.

There are so many Christmassy recipes that I want to try. I know I won't have time to make even half of these, but at least I can look back at this blog when the festive season comes round again.

Savoury recipes:
Pomegranate stuffing
Carrot and cashew crisp with hot lentil salad
Clementine, feta and leaf salad
Aubergine and goat's cheese parcels with cranberry sauce
Canape crackers
Pine nut and carrot roast
Citrus and pomegranate salad with chilli-honey dressing
Leek and cranberry caerphilly strudel

Sweet recipes:
Stollen wreath
Candied walnuts
Tropical Christmas pudding

Gingerbread cookies

Snow-topped cupcakes
Yule slice
Lime and cranberry bread and butter pudding
Gingerbread cupcakes with clementine buttercream
Winter fruit salad
Sparkling cranberries
Snowy clementine cakes
Meringue roulade
Minty chocolate cookies
Gingerbread house
Mulled wine

Sunday, 28 November 2010

Pitta bread with bean, pepper and corn filling (3 colours)

Pitta breads - 3
Olive oil - 1 tbsp
Onion - 1 small, chopped
Green pepper - 1, chopped
Chopped tomatoes - 1 small (200 g) can
Kidney beans - 1 small can, drained and rinsed
Sweetcorn - 1 small can, drained

1) Heat the oil in a saucepan. Add the onion and pepper, cover and cook for 10 minutes until tender.
2) Add the tomatoes and their juice and stir well. Cook for a further 10 minutes and then add the sweetcorn and kidney beans. Cook for 5 minutes until all the vegetables are hot.
3) Grill or toast the pitta breads. Cut in two lengthways and then fill with the bean mixture. Serve at once. Serves 2.

Saturday, 27 November 2010

Lemon drizzle cake (2 colours)

These taste very similar to Kipling's lemon slices, but slightly softer and yet crunchier because of the polenta. This recipe also makes a lot more than you get in a box and I'll definitely be making them again soon.


For the cake:
Self-raising flour - 140 g
Polenta - 100 g
Golden caster sugar - 200 g
Lemons - 3, grated zest only
Butter - 200 g, well softened
Eggs - 4
Lemon curd - 4 tbsp

For the syrup:
Golden caster sugar - 4 tbsp
Lemon - 1, juice and grated zest

1) Grease and line a 20x30 cm roasting tin (I didn't have any grease-proof paper so didn't line the tin. Although the cake came out easy enough it did break into 4 or 5 pieces). Preheat the oven to 180°C.
2) Sieve the dry ingredients into a large bowl. Add the butter, lemon zest and eggs. Beat until creamy - I did this in a food processor, but if the butter is soft enough I'm sure this could be done by hand.
3) Pour the mixture into the cake tin. Using a dessert spoon, spoon the lemon curd in thick stripes along the top of the cake mixture. I found this to be a little difficult as the curd was quite cold and not very runny. Once you've used all the curd use the spoon to swirl it into a pattern of your choice (but don't stir it in too deep). Place in the oven for 30-35 minutes - the cake should be spongey and have come away from the edge of the tin slightly.
4) Leave the cake to cool for 10 minutes. Mix the sugar and lemon juice together and then drizzle over the cake. Sprinkle over the lemon zest and then carefully remove from the tin and leave to cool on a wire rack. Cut into fingers or squares. Makes around 20-30 fingers.

Monday, 22 November 2010

Sweetcorn loaf (1 colour)

I think this loaf would go well with many things and could be eaten at pretty much any time of day. It's best eaten warm, but can be reheated and you can even fry slices if you like.
Frozen sweetcorn - 450 g
Butter - 2 tbsp, melted
Plain Flour - 2 tbsp
Baking powder - 2 tsp
Salt - 1 tsp
Sugar - 2 tbsp
Eggs - 3
Butter / margarine for greasing the tin

1) Grease the loaf tin and preheat the oven to 190°C.
2) Put the sweetcorn in a pyrex bowl and pour over enough boiling water to cover. Stir and drain after a few seconds, once the sweetcorn has defrosted.
3) Place the sweetcorn in a blender and blend to a coarse puree. Add all the other ingredients to the blender and blend until well mixed.
4) Pour the mixture into the tin and cover with foil. Place in a roasting tin filled with water so that the water reaches half-way up the loaf tin. Cook for 1-2 hours until the top looks like the crust of a loaf of bread and a skewer comes out clean. Serves 4.

Black bean stew (2 colours)

Black beans - 225 g, soaked overnight
Olive oil - 1 tbsp
Onions - 2 small, finely chopped
Garlic - 4 cloves, finely chopped
Plum tomatoes - 400 g tin, juice + tomatoes finely chopped
Green chilli - 1, finely chopped

1) Cook the black beans as per the instructions on the pack. Drain and place half the beans in a blender. Blend until smooth and then return to the pan with the whole beans. Mix well.
2) Heat the olive oil in a frying pan and fry the onions and garlic until softened. Add the tomatoes, tomato juice and chilli and simmer for 10 minutes.
3) Add the tomato mixture to the pan with the black beans and stir well. Heat for a few minutes until hot. Serve with tortillas, rice or vegetables. Serves 4.

Tuesday, 16 November 2010

Cranberry Upside-Down Cake (2 colours)

A couple of things went wrong during the making of this cake, but it was definitely worth it. I'm not sure what quantities to suggest for the syrup because most (literally most) of mine leaked out, despite wrapping the tin up in foil. To be honest I'm pleased with the result so would suggest only using a little syrup and not trying to contain it as I did.

Despite doing the usual skewer test, when we finally came to eating the cake the middle turned out to be undercooked. Not really a problem as the cake is supposed to be eaten warm so we simply heated it for longer in the microwave and the mixture set well.

I shall probably blog a perfected recipe in the future, but this is how I made it this time:

Light brown sugar - 140 g
Butter - 55 g
Molasses - 1 tbsp
Cranberries - 200-400 g (you can use fresh, but frozen should be much less expensive)

Cake mixture:
Plain flour - 240 g
Caster sugar - 200 g
Baking powder - 2 tsp
Salt - 1 tsp
Eggs - 3, large
Soured cream - 240 g
Butter - 115 g
Orange - juice and a little grated rind

1) Melt all the butter in a small pan.
2) Heat the sugar, molasses and 4 tbsp of the melted butter together with 60 ml of water in a small pan. Bring to the boil and then leave to cool for a few minutes before pouring the syrup into the bottom of a 9 inch round cake pan. Layer the cranberries on top. I made one layer, but will make 2 layers next time (which would still only require a single bag of frozen cranberries in total).
3) Sieve the flour, sugar, baking powder and salt into a large bowl.
4) Using an electric whisk, mix the eggs and soured cream together until smooth. Add the rest of the melted butter, the orange juice and rind and mix again until well combined.
5) Add the dry ingredients to the mixture and beat until smooth. Pour the cake mixture on top of the cranberries and smooth the top gently (avoiding disturbing the cranberries). If you're using a loose-bottomed tin then here is where you can wrap it in foil, but my foil just leaked anyway and I'd recommend simply using less syrup.
6) Bake in the oven at 180 °C for at least an hour, but use your judgement to tell when it's done. Eat warm. Serves 8.

Friday, 12 November 2010

Butternut squash and ricotta cannelloni (3 colours)

Roasted, mashed butternut squash - 4 tbsp
Olive oil - 1 tbsp
Onion - 1 small, chopped
Garlic - 2 cloves, finely chopped
Fresh rosemary - 1 tsp, finely chopped
Passata - 400 ml
Ricotta cheese - 200 g
Cannelloni tubes - 14
Mozzarella or parmesan for the topping

1) Heat half the olive oil in a small frying pan and fry the onion for 5 minutes until soft. Add half the garlic and half the rosemary to the pan and fry for another couple of minutes. Add the mashed butternut squash, stir to combine and cook for 5 minutes.
2) Meanwhile heat the remaining olive oil in a small saucepan. Add the rest of the garlic and rosemary and cook for a couple of minutes. Stir in the passata and cook for 15 minutes until reduced.
3) Pour the squash mixture into a small pyrex bowl and set aside to cool. When cooled combine with the ricotta cheese and stuff the mixture into the cannelloni shells with your fingers.
4) Pour a little of the tomato sauce into a baking dish. Layer the cannelloni shells in the dish and then pour the remaining sauce on top. Grate some parmesan or place some pieces of mozzarella on top. Bake in the oven at 200°C for 15 minutes. Serves 3.

Saturday, 6 November 2010

Courgette and feta fritters (2 colours)

Courgette - 1 large
Olive oil - 2 tbsp
Onion - 1 small
Egg - 1 large
Pine nuts - 1 tbsp
Dried mint - 0.5 tsp
Feta cheese - 100 g, cut into small dice
Plain flour - 3-4 tbsp

1) Cut the ends of the courgette and coarsely grate it into a sieve over a bowl. Sprinkle with a pinch of salt and mix well. Set aside for 10 minutes and then squeeze the courgettes to press out any excess water.
2) Heat half the olive oil in a large frying pan and fry the onion for 5-10 minutes until softened.
3) Combine the courgette, onion, pine nuts, mint and feta cheese in a bowl. Add the egg and mix well. Add as much flour as is necessary to make the mixture stick together.
4) Fry spoonfuls of the mixture in the remaining olive oil until golden brown on both sides. Remove any excess oil with kitchen paper and serve hot. Serves 2 (makes 6-8 fritters)

Kenyan mashed potatoes (1 colour)

Potatoes - 4 large, peeled and quartered
Canned kidney beans - 220 g can, drained and rinsed
Frozen sweetcorn - 100 g
Butter or margarine - for mashing
Parsley or watercress - 1 tbsp, chopped

1) Place the potatoes in a medium-sized saucepan, cover with cold water and bring to the boil. Simmer for 15 minutes.
2) Add the kidney beans and sweetcorn to the potatoes and cook for a further 5-10 minutes.
3) Drain the vegetables and then mash with the butter and parsley or watercress. Serves 2.