Baking, Something sweet, Tarts

Treacle tart

This is a classic English pudding. It’s not something you’d want to eat too often but as a special treat you once in a while. I made this for my dad who has a sweet tooth and loves traditional pies and puddings.

So what do you need?

  • 350-400g shortcrust pastry
  • 450g golden syrup
  • 60g butter
  • a good pinch of salt
  • a lemon
  • 1tbsp. grated fresh ginger
  • 3tbsp. cream
  • 130g fresh white breadcrumbs
  • 1 free-range egg
  • 1 tbsp. milk

So what do you do?

Pre-heat your oven to 175degrees C / 350 F. Then out your pastry and line a greased flan dish about 25cms across and put it in the fridge. Also put keep any leftover pastry trimmings and roll them into a ball and put them in the fridge. Once the oven is hot blind bake the pastry case for about 15 mins. then take it out and turn the oven down to 160 degrees C /  320 F. Next beat your egg and add a tbsp. milk and paint the pastry case with it and pop it back in the oven for a couple of minutes. And the allow it to cool down. In a saucepan melt the syrup, salt and the butter over a low heat and add the ginger, the grated zest of the lemon, and the juice from half the lemon. Once this is runny add the cream and stir in the breadcrumbs. I also added most of the egg mix to this too, reserving about a tablespoon to glaze my pastry lattices. Then roll out the extra pastry and cut it into strips about a cm wide. Put the filling in the tart case and then lay the pastry strips over the top to form a lattice effect. Glaze the pastry strips with the remaining egg wash and put the tart with n the oven for about 35-40 minutes until the top is golden brown. Serve warm with custard, cream or vanilla ice cream.

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Veggie mains

Teazle Wood wild garlic risotto 

This is a great dish to make in spring if you can forage wild garlic, or ramsons, which grows prolifically  in woodlands in the UK in spring. It’s best picked just before it flowers when the leaves are a vibrant green colour. I picked this in Teazle Wood an  ancient woodland in Leatherhead in Surrey saved from development by a group of people lead by my friend Lucy a few years ago. As a child, before the M25 was built, I used to play and ride my pony in these woods and remebered an old hermit who lived in the middle of the woods. Despite being right next to a motorway the woods are an oasis for plants and wildlife and are not safe for future generations to enjoy. This recipe will serve six with seasonal veggies on the side.

So what do you need?

  • 4 tbsp olive oil
  • 2 large leeks
  • 600g risotto rice
  • A glass of dry white wine
  • 2 litres of vegetable stock
  • a large handheld bunch of wild garlic
  • 50g butter
  • 50g Parmesan cheese (grated)
  • 120g goats’ cheese
  • Salt & pepper

So what do you do?

Start by making your stock I used the green ends of the leeks the lower stems of the wild garlic and asparagus and some salt and pepper which I simmered for about 45 minutes while I prepped the other ingredients for the meal.

I sliced the leeks and steam them for a few minutes over the stock as it was cooking, then I fried them in about 3 tbsp. of olive oil in a large thick based frying pan for a minute before adding the rice which I fried until it started to go translucent. I added the wine and some salt and pepper and the began adding the stock a couple of ladlefuls at a time and cooked the risotto, stirring it and adding more stock as it was absorbed by the rice. Meanwhile I thoroughly washed the wild garlic and reserved the stems with buds on, I chopped up about 80% of the wild garlic leaves and then belended them with a tablespoon of olive oil and a pinch of salt to make a pesto style paste.

After about 20 minutes or so when the rice was almost cooked I stopped adding stock and kept cooking the risotto until most of the liquid evaporated then add the butter, wild garlic paste, the remaining garlic leaves and stirred this through the risotto until the butter was melted and the galic leaves wilted and then I turned off the heat and stirred in the Parmesan. I then tasted the risotto and seasoned it with salt and pepper. I dished it up and put a slice of goats’ cheese on top and decorated it with the wild garlic buds. I served it with mushrooms fried with wild garlic leaves, asparagus and green beans. Spring on a plate!

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Baking, Something fruity, Something sweet

Rhubarb & ginger crumble

 

A classic pudding, perfect for Sunday lunch. The ginger works well with the rhubarb. This will serve 6 – 8 people.

So what do you need?

  • 800g rhubarb
  • 2 tsp. fresh ginger (grated)
  • 4 tbsp sugar
  • 200g plain (all purpose) flour
  • 100g butter
  • 100g sugar + 1 tbsp.
  • 75g oats
  • 30g almonds

So what do you do?

Preheat your oven to 175 degrees C / 350 F.

Start by chopping the rhubarb into pieces 3 – 5 cms long and put them in an ovenproof dish. Sprinkle over the ginger and the sugar.

The put the flour and butter in a mixing bowl and rub them together with your fingers until they for a breadcrumb like mixture. Then add 100g sugar and the oats and mix them in. Sprinkle the crumble mid over the rhubarb and sprinkle the almonds and a tablespoon of sugar over the top. Put the crumble in the oven and bake for about an hour until golden brown on top. Serve with cream, custard or vanilla ice-cream.

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Veggie mains

Batsai Kichdi

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This is a delicious recipe from the Prashad cookbook and is a meal / feast in itself, layers of rice and lentils, aubergine curry and yoghurt and cooked onions and peppers. It’s perfect for a party and will serve at least 8 people, more if you decide to make any other side dishes to go with it.

So what do you need?

Rice & lentils

  • 2 large green chillis
  • 3 cloves of garlic
  • 3 cm fresh ginger
  • 1 tsp salt
  • 50ml vegetable oil
  • 300g basmati rice
  • 200g red lentils
  • 1/4 tsp turmeric
  • 1 liter of boiling water
  • 90g unsalted butter (softened)

Fried vegetables

  • 2 large red onions ( cut into rings)
  • 3 bell peppers (red, yellow & green cut into chunks)
  • Vegetable oil for frying

Aubergine curry

  • 3 large green chillis
  • 5 cm fresh ginger
  • 11/2 tsp salt
  • 100ml vegetable oil
  • 1tsp mustard seeds
  • 1tsp cumin seeds
  • 2 large aubergines (cut into 3cm cubes)
  • 2 medium waxy potatoes (cut into 2cm cubes)
  • 1tsp turmeric
  • 2tsp ground coriander seeds
  • 1/2 tsp ground cumin
  • 1/2 tsp chilli powder (optional)
  • 3 tomatoes chopped
  • 1 handful chopped coriander leaves
  • 500ml plain live yoghurt

So what do you do?

Start by pounding the chillis, garlic, ginger and salt into a paste with a mortar and pestle. Rinse and drain the rice and lentils. In a pan heat up the oil and fry the rice and lentils for about a minute then add the chilli paste and turmeric and pour over the boiling hater and boil for about 8 minutes until most of the water is evaporated and then cover the pan and turn down the heat and cook for about 8 more minutes and turn off the heat and leave the pan covered for another 10 minutes or so then take the lid off and allow to cool. Next fry the onions for about 5 minutes until they start to brown then add the peppers and fry for about 10 more minutes until the onions are caramelized. Put them in a bowl.

Now make the curry, start by pounding the chillis, ginger and salt into a paste with a mortar and pestle. Then heat the oil in a frying pan and add the mustard and cumin seeds once the mustard seeds start to pop add the aubergine, potatoes and add the chilli paste, turmeric, ground coriander seeds as cumin and fry for a few minutes until they are all coated in the the spices and starting to cook then add about a cup of hot water (cover the pan if you have a lid for it) cook for about 10 minutes stirring occasionally then add the chopped tomatoes and coriander. Taste the curry and add the chilli powder if you want it spicier.

Next whisk the yoghurt for about a minute to make it runny. Then stir the butter through the rice. Oil a large thick bottomed pan and then spread about a third of the rice into the bottom of the pan. Spoon on half the aubergine curry and spread it evenly over the rice and the spread over half the yoghurt and sprinkle over a third of the onions and peppers add another third of the rice, followed by the rest of the yoghurt and half the remaining onions and peppers, then spread over the final layer of rice and sprinkle over the remaining vegetables. Then cover the top of the pan with foil and wrap fold it round the edge to seal it and then put the lid on the pan. Then put the pan on a high heat for about a minute and then turn it down to the lowest heat and cook for 25 minutes. Turn off the heat and leave it to stand for 10 minutes sprinkle over a few chopped coriander leaves and serve.

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Salads, Snacks, Thai Food

Fresh spring rolls


These make a great, healthy snack, light lunch or appetizer and go really well with a light tamarind based sauce. Play around with the veggies you put in them. This will make about 24 spring rolls.

So what do you need?

  • 1 bock of tofu (150-200g)
  • 2 tbsp. sesame oil
  • 200g bean sprouts
  • 150g golden needle mushrooms
  • 50 g rice vermicelli noodles
  • half a carrot
  • 4-5 spring onions
  • a small bunch of Thai (small) celery
  • fresh ginger
  • 3 cloves garlic
  • 1 tsp black peppercorns
  • 3-4 tbsp. (light soy sauce)
  • 3 cloves garlic
  • 2 tbsp. (black) sesame seeds
  • handful coriander leaves
  • handful mint leaves
  • handful sweet basil leaves
  • 1 large red chilli
  • 24 dried rice paper discs
  • 24 small lettuce leaves
  • extra fresh herbs / sprouts for garnish

Dipping sauce

  • 2 tbsp. tamarind paste
  • 1 tbsp. palm sugar
  • 2 tbsp. light soy sauce
  • 1/2 tsp chilli powder
  • 1/4 cup water
  • 3 tbsp. plain peanuts

So what do you do?

Start by making the dipping sauce mixt the tamarind paste with hot water and stir in the palm sugar until it dissolves add the soy sauce and chill and taste and adjust the flavor. Then in a dry frying pan roast the peanuts and allow to cool. Meanwhile roast the sesame seeds.

Next pound the garlic and a roughly equal quantity of ginger and the peppercorns in a mortar. Put these in a bowl with a couple of tbsp. of soy sauce and then chop the tofu into small oblongs and marinate them for a while. Meanwhile blanch the beansprouts,  mushrooms and noodles for a minute in boiling water and then drain them and allow to cool. Then fry the tofu in sesame oil until golden and crisp, drain and allow to cool. Grate the carrot into a mixing bowl. Chop up the spring onions, and celery and add them. Deseed the chilli and cut it finely and add it to the bowl along with all the herbs and the sesame seeds. You can add some finely grated fresh ginger to the bowl too if you like a couple of tsp. is fine. Then add the mushrooms, beansprouts and noodles to the mixing bowl along with a tablespoon or two of soy sauce. Mix everything together thoroughly give it a mix occasionally while you are making the spring rolls too to make sure everything is evenly distributed.

Then fill a shallow container that’s bigger than the spring roll papers with warm water. Put a paper in the water for about 5 seconds until it softens and then put it on a board or plate and place a lettuce leaf in the centre close to one end. Then with your hand lift enough filling from the bow probably about 3 heaped tablespoons worth and put it on the lettuce leaf then start rolling the spring roll as you get towards the widest part fold in the sides and roll it up it will stick together itself. Place it on a tray and do the next one. Once you get the hang of it you should be able to roll each one as the next paper is soaking. Leave a bit of space between each one on the tray so they don’t stick. Once they are all done you can put them in the fridge until you want to serve them. Crush the peanuts, pour the dipping sauce in a bowl and sprinkle the peanuts on top along with a few coriander leaves. Cut the spring rolls in halves and put them in a bowl standing up and decorate with herbs or sprouts (I used sunflower sprouts) and serve with the dipping sauce.

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