Baking, Edible gifts, Something fruity, Something sweet

Blackberry & apple pie

This is a classic pudding that is remember from my childhood along with blackberry & apple crumble. I made two pies while I was at it a small one above to give away, which served two or three people, and a larger one below which served five. If you just want to make one large pie use 2/3 of the quantities, but it’s great to give someone a pie.

Start by making your pastry I used 600g of sifted plain (all purpose) flour and 220g of cold unsalted butter and a pinch of salt. I mixed these together in my food processor until they became breadcrumb-like then I added about 3 or 4 tbs of cold water and mixed again until the pastry became a firm malleable dough. I put this in a plastic bag in the fridge for about 20 mins while I made the filling. At this stage you can pre-heat your oven to 220 degrees C / 425F.

We don’t have fresh blackberries in Thailand so I used 200g of frozen blackberries (we do have mulberries and I use these when they are in season) which I put in a pan with about 150g sugar and the juice of half a lime (lemon is fine) and warmed until the sugar dissolved in the blackberry juice and then turned off the heat. Then I peeled, cored and sliced 600g of apples. I used Granny Smiths as we can’t get cooking apples here. As I sliced them I put them into the blackberry pan and stirred them into the juice. Then I grease two pie dishes one about 26 cm across and the other about 20cms. I took the pastry out of time fridge I used over a quarter to roll out to line my larger pie dish, and about a quarter to one the smaller dish. The pastry doesn’t have to be perfect you can fix any tears but squeezing it back together. Then I put the cooled fruit and juices in the lined pie tins and used half the remaining pastry to cover the smaller pie. I brushed the edge of the lining pastry with milk and sealed the top on and made a air vent in the middle, by cutting a small slit with a knife.

For the larger pie I rolled out the remaining pastry and cut it in strips and made a latticed top. You can use any left over pastry to decorate the top of the fully covered pie. Then I brushed the top of the pies with milk and sprinkled on a little sugar and put them in the oven. After about 10 mins I turned the oven down to 200 degrees C / 400 F and cooked them for another 25-30 mins until the pastry was golden brown and the filling was bubbling. Serve hot with custard or warm with cream, or vanilla ice cream. Yummy!

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Soups

Spiced pumpkin soup

This is a soup I make a lot especially when I want something easy and hearty to feed a big group. It has quite a kick so go easy on the chilli unless you like it spicy! Usually I roast the pumpkin first with spices, as this intensifies the flavours, but if I am in a hurry I fry it with the onion, garlic and spices first. The quanties here will make 4-6 servings (depending on whether this is your main meal or a starter) multiply to whatever number you need to feed!Start by pre-heating your oven to 200 degrees C / 400 F. I begin with just over a kilo of pumpkin which I peel and deseed it to leave about 800g of flesh which I cut into large chunks. I put them in a roasting tin with a little (coconut) oil. The I then pound half a tsp of each of the following: coriander seeds, cumin seeds, cinnamon, black pepper corns and a tsp of sea salt with a pestle and mortar. I sprinkle this and a tsp of turmeric over the pumpkin and mix it up and add 1 or 2 dried chillies. I put this in the oven for about 15 mins to start to cook then I add a large red onion cut into chunks and a few cloves of garlic and cook for another 15 -20 minutes, until the onion had softened and the pumpkin has shrunk in size.Then I put this in a blender with a handful of chopped fresh coriander and about 800ml of water and blend it until it’s smooth. I put it in a saucepan and add 150ml of coconut milk (you can use regular milk instead if you prefer) and heat it through, taste and season if necessary. Garnish with some coconut milk, chilli oil or plain yoghurt and some coriander leaves. I served mine with homemade, rye & pumpkin seed sourdough.

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Thai Food, Veggie sides

Stir-fried tofu & bean sprouts 

This makes a quick and easy lunch or can become part of a larger Thai feast depending on your mood.

For one dish, that can be part of a larger meal, or a simple lunch for two start by chopping a block of firm tofu into rectangular pieces and shallow fry this in a wok until golden and remove from the oil and set aside. Then fry a couple of cloves of crushed garlic until it begins to cook and add about a dessert / cereal bowlful of bean sprouts and a couple of sliced spring onions. You can also add some fine slivers of a large red chilli “Prik chii fah” (non-spicy kind) if you like. Stir-fry these until they begin to start to soften then add the tofu back into the wok and add a good splash of light soy sauce and some vegetarian mushroom “oyster” sauce and some ground white pepper. Fry for a minute or two making sure there is still crunch in the bean sprouts and serve. As a one plate dish serve with organic rice and a fried egg for a simple and nutritious meal.

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Veggie mains

Baked portobello mushrooms, stewed lentils & roast potatoes

I’ve made meals on long this theme several times, sometimes I make mashed potatoes, sometimes I stuff the mushrooms with blue cheese.  It’s quite a good meal for meat eaters as the baked mushrooms are quite meaty.

I started by turning the oven on to 200 degrees C / 400 F and boiling some water to start the potatoes in. I chopped the potatoes into thirds and then boiled them for about 10 mins. Then I put them in a pre- heated roasting tray with oil in it.

Meanwhile I started the lentils, which will serve 3-4 people. First I fried a chopped onion in olive oil and the added a couple of cloves of garlic and then a chopped bulb of fennel (you can use some celery instead if you prefer). I added a good pinch of (celery) salt and fried until they were softened. Then I added a carrot chopped into small cubes and added a glass of red wine (optional) some hot water and about cup of brown lentils and some ground pepper, mixed herbs and bay leaves and covered the pan and simmered for about 25 mins. If you prefer you can use a can of cooked lentils but add these at the next stage. When the carrots are tender I added some chopped green beans and cooked for 5 more minutes.

While they were cooking I made some garlic and herb butter (use garlic, mixed herbs, a little salt and olive oil for a vegan version) which I smeared in the mushrooms. I put them on a baking sheet and when the potatoes had been in the oven about  20 mins I put the mushrooms in the oven too. The mushrooms will take about 40 mins to cook. Once the potatoes start to turn golden turn them a couple of times.

Just before the potatoes and mushrooms are done taste the lentil mixture and season as necessary and then thicken with some gravy powder, if you like a thickened gravy. Plate up your meal and enjoy!

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Baking, Something sweet

Lime drizzle cake

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My friend gave me some limes from her garden so I decided to make a lime drizzle cake and have a little afternoon tea party with some friends. This is an all time classic English cake normally made with lemons rather than limes, which are a lot easier to come by here in Thailand.

So what do you need?

  • 200g butter (softened)
  • 250g sugar
  • 3 large free range eggs
  • 3 tbsp of natural yogurt
  • 250g plain (all purpose) flour
  • 2tsp baking powder
  • 2 limes (or 1 lemon)

So what do you do?

Pre-heat your oven to 175 degrees F / 350 F. In a food processor (or in a bowl with a wooden spoon) beat together the butter and 180g of the sugar then add the eggs and the yoghurt and mix together well. Grate the zest of one lime into the mixture and sift and add the flour an baking powder. Mix together into a thick batter and then pour into a greased and lined loaf tin. It’s a good idea to make sure the parchment paper lines the sides of the tin too as then you can use it to lift the cake out of the tin after you have drizzled the sugar lime icing over it. Bake for about 50 – 60 mins until a skewer comes out clean. (Check the cake after about 30 minutes and if the top is growing too fast cover with foil.)

Meanwhile in a bowl mix together the remains 70g suar and the zest of the other lime and the juice of both limes. Once the cake is done take it out of the oven and allow it to stand in the tin for about 15 mins. While it is still warm, prick the top of the cake with a skewer and drizzle over the lime sugar mixture and allow the cake to cool. Then lift it out of the tin using the parchment paper and peel the paper way. Serve with a cup of tea.

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Veggie mains

Mushroom & butter bean casserole with garlic and dill dumplings

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This makes a wholesome veggie meal for four all in one pot. I remember in France as a young child having a casserole with butter beans in it, I think it also had lamb but is the beans that I remember soft and creamy.

For this casserole I used about 500g of mixed fresh mushrooms, 20g of dried porcini mushrooms, a can of butter beans and about 1 kilo or more of other veg. I used a red onion, a carrot, some daikon radish (which gives a nice sweet flavor to the gravy) other root veg such as turnip or swede would work well too, a small cauliflower and some green beans, courgettes work well too added with the cauliflower.

I started by frying the onion in some olive oil, then I added the fresh mushrooms, chopped into chunks and several coves of crushed garlic and some celery salt, and fried them for a while until the mushrooms strafed to release their juices and reduce down. Then I added a glass of white wine, the porcini mushrooms and a bouquet garnis and the chopped carrot and radish and covered the veg with boiling water and put the lid on the casserole and simmered for about 10 minutes. Meanwhile I turned my oven on to about 180 degrees C / 350 F. and made the dumplings. I crushed a couple of cloves of garlic and added them to about 120g of plain (all purpose) flour and 1/2 tsp of baking powder and seasoned it with salt and pepper and added some chopped fresh dill. Then I mixed in 60g of butter with my fingers to form breadcrumbs and added a little milk to bring the mixture together (keeping it quite dry) and formed these into little balls.

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Then I added the chopped cauliflower, green beans and butter beans to the casserole along with about a third of a cup of cream (you can add half a cup of cream if you want it creamier) and a teaspoon of Dijon mustard, some ground black pepper and some chopped fresh dill. I mixed everything together and ensured that the liquid still covered all the veg and put the casserole in the oven with the lid on for about 20-25 mins. Then I took the casserole out and placed the dumplings on the top and put the casserole back in the oven for about 10 mins with the lid on and then turned the oven onto grill and removed the lid and cooked it for another 10 mins to brown the dumplings a little. I served it straight from the dish with a garnish of fresh dill.

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Brunch, Something sweet

Welsh cakes

If you’ve never tried Welsh cakes you really should. They are so simple to make a cross between a scone and a biscuit cooked on a griddle and best eaten warm, they melt in your mouth. I remember having them at my Nain’s house near Colwyn Bay. She had previously had a tea house so I’m sure she’d had plenty of practice making them, hers really did melt in the mouth! They are great with tea in the morning or afternoon and sometimes I make them for breakfast too instead of pancakes, when I fancy something sweet.

 

So what do you need?

  • 225g plain (all purpose) flour
  • 100g butter
  • 50g sugar (and extra to sprinkle on top)
  • 60g raisins 
  • ½tsp baking powder
  • 1 tsp mixed spice / ground cinnamon
  • 1 egg
  • A pinch salt
  • A little milk to bind

So what do you do?

Sift the flour, spice and salt into a bowl then add the butter, cut into cubes, then rub the butter into the flour with your fingers to make a breadcrumb like mix. Then add the sugar and raisins and mix them in. Finally beat an egg and add it to the mixture and stir in. It will combine into a thick dough, if necessary add a little milk to bring it together.

 

Then lightly grease an heat up a flat griddle of a thick based frying pan at a medium heat and roll out the dough to about the thickness of a biscuit and with a cookie cutter cut out rounds. place these on the griddle and slowly cook until golden on each side.

They will take a couple of minutes on each side. If the griddle is too hot they will not cook through. To serve sprinkle with some sugar and eat while warm. Delicious!

 

 

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