Thai Food, Veggie mains

Spicy pumpkin wontons with beetroot purée 

I adapted and simplified a recipe from Pure Vegetarian by Paul Hayer to make a Halloween Devil’s Dinner. It’s good to have anytime and you can make a carrot purée instead if you don’t want the blood look! This recipe will feed 4 people.

Start by tossing 350g of peeled pumpkin flesh in a little oil and some spicies, I crushed together half a tsp of salt, peppercorns, cumin, coriander seeds and turmeric powder. Then roast for about 20-25 mins until soft in a hot oven (200 degrees C / 400 F). While this is cooking chop a red onion and fry it add a couple of gloves of crushed garlic and some chopped celery (about 1 stick) and a tsp of Thai red curry paste and a couple of good pinches of salt and fry for a couple of minutes.Then grate about 250g of raw beetroot and add this to the pan and cover with hot water. Bring to a boil and simmer for 20 mins while the pumpkin cooks.

Once the pumpkin is cooked put its in a bowl and mash it with a fork add a good tsp of Thai red curry paste, a finely chopped spring onion or two and some chopped coriander leaves and mix together. Then take a wonton wrapper and put about a tsp of pumpkin mixture in it and then with a pastry brush wet two sides from one corner then fold the wrapper over into a triangle and seal the edges. Then put your finger in the middle and wrap the longer sides round and seal the ends together. Put it on a floured tray and keep going you will be able to make about 40 wontons. Allow them to dry for a about 20 mins so the joins seal.

Next purée the beetroot mixture and steam some green veggies. Then put about a cup of oil in a wok and fry 8 dry chillis in it so they go crisp, drain them and put them to one side. Then fry your wontons about 10 at a time, truanting them in the oil until they are golden brown. Plate up by putting some greens on the plate then pour on some of the beetroot purée and arrange 6 – 10 wontons on  the plate then add two chilli horns. Enjoy!

Thai Food

‘Kai toon’

This is a great, simple and healthy way to cook eggs for a change. These savoury steamed eggs are silky smooth, a bit like a baked egg custard, and make a great accompaniment to a Thai meal that’s more typical of home cooking than restaurant dining.

First heat up some water in the base of a steamer. For two people beat two large free-range eggs in a bowl and then add a measuring cup of water and about 1 1/2 tsp of light soy sauce and beat that in. Finely chop a spring onion and a couple of mushrooms (I used a handful of golden needle mushrooms) and add this to the mixture and pour it into a dessert bowl so it’s about 3/4 full then sprinkle some ground white pepper on top. Cover the bowl with foil of cling film and steam for 15-20 mins until the eggs are set through to the middle. Covering with cling film makes it easier to see if they are cooked or not. While the eggs are steaming chop up a couple of cloves of garlic and fry them in a tbsp. of (sesame) oil in a wok until golden brown. When the eggs are cooked pour the garlic and oil on top and garnish with some coriander leaves. It while it’s hot with rice and any other Thai dishes you like, it’s a good counterbalance to spicier dishes.

Baking, Edible gifts, Something sweet

Fairy cakes

A little girl’s first birthday party isn’t complete without some fairy cakes.

So what do you need?

  • 125g unsalted butter (softened)
  • 125g sugar
  • 2 free-range eggs
  • 1 tsp vanilla essence
  • 175g plain (all purpose) flour
  • 1/2 tsp baking powder
  • 200g icing sugar
  • 2 tsp rose water
  • About 3 tbsp roselle water
  • Hundreds and thousands

So what do you do?

Pre-heat your oven to 190 degrees C / 380 F. Then in a bowl or a blender beat the butter and the sugar together then add the eggs and vanilla essence and beat these in. Then sift the flour and the baking powder and mix them in with the other ingredients to form a thick batter. If it seems too thick and not smooth add a little milk. Put paper cases in a 12 hole muffin tray and divide the cake mixture between them and then put them in the oven and bake for 12-15 minutes until they are golden and spring back when touched. Leave them in the tray for about 5 mins then put them on a wire rack to cool.

Once the cakes are cool make the icing. Sift the icing sugar into a bowl and then add the rose water and mix it in. Then add hot roselle tea (I made this with a couple of dried flowers and about a quarter of a cup of water and simmered it for a couple of minutes to get a nice strong pink colour.) little by little and mix it in until the icing becomes a smooth thick paste and then spoon some 1 or 2 tsp on each of the cup cakes. Then sprinkle them with hundreds and thousands and leave them for the icing to set.

Baking, Something sweet

Melting moments with coconut, cashews & chocolate

I remember making / eating a plain version of these as a child and loved the way they melted in your mouth. These are a little more grown up but I am sure kids would love them too.

So what do you need?

  • 200g unsalted butter (softened)
  • 70g icing sugar
  • 200g plain (all purpose) flour
  • 70g corn flour
  • 1tsp. baking powder
  • a pinch of salt
  • 100g grated coconut flesh
  • 80g cashew nuts
  • 80g plain chocolate
  • a little cream or milk

So what do you do?

Start by pre-heating your oven to 175 degrees C / 350 F. The in a bowl or a blender mix the butter and sugar together until soft and then add a pinch of salt. Then sift the flours and the baking powder and add them to the butter mixture and mix them in. Next add the cococount and about half of the cashews, saving about 30 cashew halves to put on the top of the cookies. Mix everything together then put a heaped tsp of mixture on a baking tray, covered with baking parchment, squash it down a bit and form it into a round with the back of a fork. Keeping doing this leaving a little space between each one. You should be able to make about 30 or so buiscuits. If you like large biscuits use a dessert spoonful for each. Then put half a cashew on top of each and put them in the oven for 15 mins until they just start to go golden brown in parts. Put them on a wire rack to cool. Then melt about 80g of plain chocolate and add about 3tbsp of milk or cream to make it runny then drizzle this over the buiscuits. If you can’t be bothered with the chocolate just dust them with some icing sugar instead. Yummy!

Salads, Something fruity

Pomelo and avocado ‘retro’ salad

This is a salad I used to make quite often a few years ago and somehow I stopped making it until I saw pink pomelos being sold along with avocados at the stall at the end of my road. It’s a kind of retro salad that reminds me of prawn cocktails and avocado salads from the ’70s, but it’s really delicious with a good balance of flavours and textures. If you can’t get pomelo you could try making it with garprefruit or orange depending on how sour you like things. The recipe below made one big portion, which I had for lunch, it could easily be divided into two as a starter.

I took the flesh from 4 juicy segments of pomelo (you would probably need 6 segments if you used grapefruit and probably a whole orange) and broke it into pieces in a bowl. (I reserved a little pomelo to use as a garnish as it was so pretty and pink.) Then into the bowl I added a heaped tbsp of mayonnaise and just over half a tsp of curry powder and mixed it together. Then I added a chopped medium tomato (you could also use a few cherry tomatoes), about 5cms or so of cucumber chopped into pieces, some sliced red onion (or a spring onion or two), a few coriander leaves, and the flesh of a ripe avocado in chunks. I mixed it all together and then served it on / in a bed / nest of lettuce and garnished it with some more coriander and a few lightly roasted sesame seeds. I have also garnished it before with roasted grated coconut flesh or crispy fried shallots all work well. I had it for lunch with some sweet potato chips which nicely counterbalanced the sourness of the pomelo.

Brunch, Snacks, The Basics

Quesadillas (& homomade flour tortillas)

These make a great brunch / lunch full of healthy ingredients and really yummy. I find them easier to ‘handle’ when eating than wraps, which seem to unwrap, or the contents squish out, as I try to eat them.

To make two quesadillas, which should serve two people, you will need to make 4 flour tortillas. Put 1 cup of plain flour (I use bread flour but I am sure any plain flour is okay and you can mix in some wholemeal flour if you like) in a bowl and add a couple of tbsp of vegtable oil a good pinch of salt a scant 1/2 tsp of baking powder and some warm water, about a third of a cup, and mix together to form a dough, add a little more water or flour if necessary. Then kneed the dough either in the bowl, with a little flour or on a floured work surface. Work it for a minute or so until it becomes mailable. Then divide it into four balls about the size of golf balls and in the bowl cover with some cling film, or a plastic bag, with a little oil on it an leave it to rest for about 20 mins. Then roll each ball out on a floured work surface to about 20 cms in diameter. Heat a heavy based frying pan at least the size of your tortillas and place one in the dry hot pan and cook for a minute or less on each side until these are some golden spots on it. Do this for the other tortillas. These are great with veggie chilli too or to make any wraps you like.

To make the quesadillas heat an oven and once you have two tortillas cooked sprinkle them with some grated cheese and put them in the oven while you cook the top tortillas. You will need an advocado and a tomato (both ripe, large and sliced) some sliced red onion or spring onions, some coriander leaves and some plain youghurt (or sour cream) you can also add some chilli sauce like Tabasco. Once the top tortillas are done take the cheesey ones out of the oven and then assemble the other fillings on them and grind some pepper on them. Then just put the top tortillas on and cut them into quarters and enjoy! You can vary the fillings melted cheese and garlic mushrooms is very good too.

Baking, Something fruity, Something sweet

Coconut and lemon curd cake


This based on a recipe of Dan Lepard’s for a coconut layer cake but I’ve adapted it slightly and used lemon curd as a filling. It’s a very impressive and delicious cake and create for a celebration.

So what do you need?

For the cake:

  • 250g softend unsalted butter
  • 200g sugar
  • 3 large eggs
  • 150ml coconut mil
  • 60g coconut milk powder (or desiccated coconut)
  • 300g plain flour
  • 3 tsp baking powder

For the filling / topping:

  • 1 pot of lemon curd
  • about 6tbsp rum
  • the flesh of half a large coconut, grated

For the meringue butter cream:

  • 2 egg whites
  • 100g sugar
  • 200g unsalted butter
  • 1tsp vanilla extract

Pre-heat your oven to 175 degrees C / 350 F. In my food processor I blended together the butter and sugar until soft and fluffy then I added the eggs one at a time and blended them in, then the coconut milt.. Next I sifted the dry ingredients and added them to the blender and mixed everything together. You can either divide this between 3 non-stick loosed bottomed cake tins, or as I did use just 2 tins then cut each cake in half to give four layers. Put these in the oven for about 30 mins until they are golden grown and a skewer comes out clean when inserted in the cake. Take them out of the oven and allow to cool in the tins for about 5 minutes then turn them out onto wire racks and allow to cool.

Next make the meringue buttercream. In a thick bottomed saucepan heat up the egg whites and the sugar stirring constantly until it is hot and all the sugar has dissolved. Then pout this into a mixing bowl and whisk with an electric whisk for about 5 minutes, it will become thick and fluffy a bit like meringue mixture and will also cool down. Next add the butter a bit at a time and beat it in, then add the vanilla extract. Keep going until all the butter is mixed in well. Now it’s time to assemble the cake. If you have just made two cakes cut each in half horizontally. Place one layer of the cake on the plate you plan to serve it on. To lift the layers of cake you might need to use a couple of palette knifes, or long wide knives. then drizzle a couple of tbsps. of rum over the cake and then spread a third of your lemon curd on it. repeat this with the other layers. Don’t put any rum or lemon curd on the top.

IMG_5535Next spread your buttercream icing on the top and the sides of the cake, it doesn’t have to be too neat you won’t be able to see it. Next sprinkle the grated coconut flesh on the top of the cake and press some on the sides so that all the cake is covered. Clean the edge of the plate and put it in the fridge until you are ready to serve it. This will give you 12 delicious slices.