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Masala papad 6 February 2012

Posted by cath in mildly spicy, Recipes, shopping notes.
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Everyone loves poppadums… don’t they?
When I was young, living with my family in Hong Kong, we used to eat a lot of Indian meals out at a restaurant called ‘The Tandoor’ if i remember correctly. They had a dish there which we all loved called masala papad and although i don’t know their recipe, this is inspired by memories of that place.

Basically, it’s a poppadum topped with fresh tomato, onion and herbs. You have to add the topping at the last minute, but it looks and tastes great.

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A picture of tonight’s starter of masala papad.

Here’s how you make it…

Finely chop a small onion, a few ripe tomatoes, a clove of garlic, some fresh chili and coriander leaf. Mix together with a generous squeeze of lemon juice. Leave to let the flavours mix.

Then cook some poppadums. I use the hotplate on the aga but you can also cook them in the microwave. I love the flavoured ones you can buy from Asian shops, like these:

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Once cooked, the poppadums can be topped with a sprinkle of the tomato mixture, try to drain each spoonful on the side as too much liquid will make the poppadums soggy! Eat right away.

Of course you can just have poppadums with a range of chutneys instead, but either way i would definitely recommend cooking your own. Try it and see!

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Scones 4 February 2012

Posted by cath in cakes and treats, comfort food, easy, Recipes, variations.
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Quick and easy, the secret seems to be: don’t try too hard! Instead of rolling the dough, just pat down with cool hands. Also, don’t cut them too thin, 2 cm or a bit thicker is best.

Here’s the full recipe, makes 8 or 9 small scones (6 cm size cutter):

250g self-raising flour
Pinch salt
1 level tsp baking powder
25g caster sugar
50g butter, fridge cold
125ml full fat milk
1 large egg, beaten

Pre-heat the oven to 200 degC, grease a baking sheet.

Sieve the flour, salt and baking powder into a bowl. Cut the cold butter into cubes and either rub in by hand or process very quickly.

Now add the sugar and mix briefly again. Add about half the beaten egg and process again adding the milk pouring it in slowly, or do this using a knife mixing until a sticky dough is formed. In the processor, keep going until a ball is formed. You should have a splash of milk leftover. By hand a little kneading in the bowl helps, but don’t handle the dough to much and keep those hands cool!

Lightly flour a board, using s-r flour again. Don’t use too much extra flour, you won’t need it. Turn out the dough ball and quickly flatten it to about 2 cm thick, no thinner!

Cut using a 6 cm round, press down evenly and then remove the excess dough from around the first scones. You need to very quickly press the dough back into a ball and push down again. Repeat until its all cut.

Place cut scones on the baking sheet. Add any remaining milk to the beaten egg leftover, mix and brush onto the top of the scones.

Bake in the oven for 8-10 minutes until golden and hollow when tapped on the base.

Remove and place on a rack to cool, best served warm.

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This makes a basic, white, plain scone, perfect for cream tea…but anything can be added before mixing to a dough, so experiment away with savory and sweet additions. My favourite has to be cheese, a strong grated cheddar is good… and although you can add as much as you want, for this quantity about 50g of cheese/ dried fruit/ nuts etc. should be about right.

I’ve been eating my scones with raspberry jam and clotted cream – yum, and perfect with a nice cup of tea. Hope you enjoy making scones of all sorts.

More with Haggis 26 January 2012

Posted by cath in leftovers, Recipes, specials, variations.
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Just got too much haggis leftover from last night’s Burns supper? How about gravy (yes I like gravy with haggis, neeps and tatties), got any noodles? If so, try my noodles in gravy with haggis. A Chinese style leftovers dish.

Cook some large, flat noodles, drain and set aside.
Heat up some gravy in a shallow frying pan, crumble in some leftover cooked haggis, heat through. Pour over noodles and serve.

Any gravy will do, but here’s a quick recipe to get you started:

Water from boiling potato and neeps, red wine, lamb stock, tomato puree, garlic or better roasted garlic, bay leaf, herbs, mustard.

Boil up the liquid ingredients, add herbs, garlic, tomato and mustard, boil again. Leave until needed then reheat and strain before serving. Thicken if you prefer, with cornflour and cold water mixed to a paste, or butter and flour mixed together. Add the thickener and boil up again.

More ideas?
Haggis can be used much like mince so I’ve heard of and tried a few haggis alternatives. Haggis samosas, pakoras, wontons are quite common in Scotland. A few years ago some friends also brought haggis burritos to Edinburgh, so if you’ve got no leftovers at home and are in the area… try them at Los Cardos, Leith Walk. They sell their haggis all the time, not just Burns night, and their other options are also great.

Another fine combo found in a pub in the highlands was baked potato, Haggis, topped with melted cheese and whisky… 

Mmmm. Enjoy your burns night leftovers.

Haggis, neeps and tatties cakes 26 January 2012

Posted by cath in comfort food, freeze-friendly, Recipes, specials, variations.
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Leftover Haggis and the works from Burns night? Make sure to make the most of your leftovers. Here’s an idea for eating up leftover Burns supper ingredients.
Just like fish and potato cakes, similar Haggis, neeps and tatties cakes are great.
If you have plenty of leftover mash, here’s what to do:

Haggis cakes

Add crumbled haggis to leftover mash, I think it helps the binding to keep the mixture at least 50% potato, but any leftover neeps or other root mash can also be added. You shouldn’t need seasoning as the leftovers will have been made with salt and pepper already. Mix everything well.
Shape the mixture into small, flat cakes. Pat each side with white plain flour. Leave, shaped and floured, in the fridge for at least an hour to firm up making them easier to fry.

I’m making these tonight so the finished dish photo will come later, here are the haggis cakes ready to go in the fridge.

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To cook, shallow fry in a little oil (haggis and mash are already fatty so you don’t need a lot) until browned on both sides. Flip just once if you can, by giving the first side a good 5 minute sizzle. Flip over carefully as they can break up… this is where a rest in patty form can help.

Serve up with some fresh rocket leaves for a fancy supper or just some ketchup or brown sauce for real comfort food!

Here, the finished dish

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Easy Cakes > Anything Goes Fairy Cakes 4 January 2009

Posted by cath in cakes and treats, comfort food, easy, Recipes.
5 comments

Fairy Cakes

These are basic sponge cakes, and the best thing is that you can use pretty much any flavouring you like – it’s a really versatile recipe. Anyone can make these simple little cakes, they are easy and quick. The basic recipe here makes 12 cakes – but can be scaled up as required. In fact, the basic mix can also be divided and flavoured in different ways to bake a selection of cakes. You will need small paper cases to bake them in.

I use a food processor to make the mix, it’s done in a few simple steps and does not take long. They are made by the creaming method which involves beating butter and sugar together and incorporating lots of air, similarly with the eggs. Sieved self-raising flour is then added along with flavouring. Care is needed to keep the mixture light, so it rises – this is not a dense, gooey brownie!

Coffee and Walnut Fairy Cakes

Coffee and Walnut Fairy Cakes

There are some tricks to getting it right and here are my top tips:

  1. Don’t use fridge cold eggs, these tend to curdle the mixture more easily than room-temperature eggs. I also take the precaution of lightly beating the eggs with a whisk prior to adding.
  2. It’s also best to soften the butter so its a good idea to leave the butter out of the fridge as well.
  3. Pre-heat the oven, it needs to be hot, and you must put the cakes in to cook straight away, this is not a mix that can be prepared in advance (but the finished cakes will last for a few days if kept in an airtight tin).
  4. In fact beating the soft butter as a first step adds lightness to the cake mix – and is definitely worthwhile if your butter is at all cold – so if you haven’t followed tip 2 you can recover somewhat here :)
  5. Don’t underestimate the amount of time it takes to cream the butter and sugar, I would suggest at least 5 minutes of beating on the highest setting, if not more, depending on the type of mixer you are using. Keep scraping down the bowl to ensure even mixing
  6. Once the butter and sugar are light and fluffy, it is time to add the eggs. Add them in bit by bit (e.g. add 2 beaten eggs in at least 3 additions), beat well each time. The mixture will be come quite liquid, but will still be thick and creamy looking. For extra security against curdling the mix, you can add a teaspoon of ground almonds with each addition of egg (up to 3 teaspoons).
  7. Adding the flour and any dried ingredients (nuts, cocoa, dried fruit etc.) must be done with care, quickly and without excess mixing. I use the pulse button on the processor – add 1/3 of the flour and press for a single pulse, perhaps 2 then scrape down and add the next 1/3. Add this similarly, and continue to the last addition of flour, scraping down the sides and pulsing once or twice more to ensure the flour and other dry ingredients are mixed – but only just.
  8. The mixture should be thick, and reluctantly drop from a spoon – it shouldn’t pour or be too stiff. If it falls, it is too thin and you should add a tablespoon more sieved flour to stiffen it. Or you can add a teaspoon of milk to adjust the mixture to be more fluid. Try out the recipes suggested here first and get used to the consistency of the mixture first, then experiment with your own flavours. Be careful making these additions – don’t over mix the cake now, it will reduce the air incorporates so far. Also be measured in your additions, cakes require careful balance of quantities – you won’t need to adjust these quantities much for different mixtures.
  9. When you’re done, quickly spoon the mixture into paper cases – you want to roughly half-fill them, 1 rounded tablespoon is roughly enough. Bake them straight away, in a fairly hot oven (180 deg C in a fan oven) for 12-15 minutes. Don’t take them out too early, or the sponge will not have fixed, and they may sink again. However, after 12 minutes you can safely test the middle of a cake with a skewer – it should come out clean, if not, return for 2-3 minutes and try again. Of course, if you use bigger paper cases, or overfill them, the cakes will take longer to cook.
  10. Remove the cakes from the tin straight away and leave to cool completely in their paper cases on a wire rack. You will see some condensation under the cases as you remove them from the tin – if you don’t remove them to cool on a rack, they will sweat and the cases and cakes will get damp and soggy – so don’t forget this step!

Flavouring

Now for the variety of flavouring you can add. There are basically three types of flavourings that can be added. Using liquid flavourings such as coffee, vanilla extract etc. demands a little more flour in the recipe to keep the mixture together. Adding dry, powdery ingredients such as cocoa powder, grated chocolate, drinking chocolate or ground nuts requires that the flour content be reduced by the equivalent weight. Chopped nuts, dried fruit etc. are easily added as an extra, without need to adjust the main quantities.

So with minimal tweaks the basic mixture can be combined to make any combination of flavours. Add icing for a sweet treat or keep them plain for a healthier snack.

The Recipe

Here are two versions of the basic recipe – this one uses added dry cocoa, and thus slightly less flour.

Cocoa Fairy Cakes

Ingredients

125 g softened butter

125 g caster sugar

2 large eggs

some ground almonds (3 tsp max)

110 g self-raising flour

1 small pinch table salt

15 g cocoa powder – I’ve been experimenting with using finely grated Venezuelan Black 100% cocoa bar (http://williescacao.com/) but you can use any good cocoa powder.

Method

1. Preheat the oven to 180 deg C (Fan oven).

2. Beat the butter well until smooth, then add the caster sugar and beat until the mixture lightens and gets fluffy (5-10 minutes).

3. Lightly beat the 2 eggs together then add a bit at a time to the mixture, beating well between additions and adding 1 or 2 tsp of ground almonds with the egg (see tip 6 above).

4. Sieve the flour and cocoa together with the salt. Add 1/3 at a time to the mixture and fold in (pulse in 2 or 3 short bursts) until everything is combined.

5. The mixture should drop slowly from a spoon, divide the mixture into the 12 paper cases in a patty tin.

6. Bake in the oven immediately, for 12-15 minutes. Check they are done using a skewer, which should come out clean. Turn out onto a wire rack to cool.

Use this basic recipe if you want to add dry flavourings to your cakes, or try this one which uses coffee and vanilla extract as liquids for flavouring, and thus slightly more flour. This one also contains chopped walnuts.

Coffee, Walnut and Vanilla Fairy Cakes

Ingredients

125 g softened butter

125 g caster sugar

2 large eggs

some ground almonds (4 tsp approx.)

140 g self-raising flour

1 small pinch table salt

4 tsp strong made coffee

2 tsp vanilla extract

70g chopped walnuts – reserve some for decorating.

Method

1. Follow the directions 1-3 above.

2. Add the coffee and vanilla extracts along with a teaspoon or 2 of ground almonds. Beat together.

3. Sieve the flour with the salt. Add 1/3 at a time to the mixture and fold in (pulse in 2 or 3 short bursts) until everything is combined.

4. Quickly mix in the walnuts using a few pulses.

5. The mixture should drop slowly from a spoon, add another spoon of coffee or vanilla if required to loosen it.

6. Divide the mixture into the 12 paper cases in a patty tin and bake in the oven immediately, for 12-15 minutes. When done, turn out onto a wire rack to cool.

Use this basic recipe if you want to add liquid flavourings to your cakes.

Finishing Touches

For a sweet treat, icing the top of the cakes is easy to make. Try these basic quantities and adapt the flavours to suit your cakes.

Chocolate Icing

120g icing sugar

60 g softened butter

2 tbsp cocoa powder

Beat together all the ingredients until light and fluffy. If you use a processor, the mixture may first turn into a large ball, but persistent beating will smooth the mix into a spreadable topping. Add 1-2 tsp of strong made coffee, or milk, to loosen the mixture to an easier spreadable consistency (if required). Decorate with a sprinkle of cocoa powder or icing sugar.

Cappuccino Icing

4 tsp strong made coffee

1 tsp vanilla extract

120g icing sugar

60 g softened butter

2 tbsp finely grated chocolate or cocoa

Beat all the ingredients together into a soft, fluffy, spreadable icing. Decorate with chopped nuts, flaked almonds or grated chocolate.

Other toppings to try:

Melted chocolate – 55g cooking chocolate, broken into chunks, melted then spread on the cakes and left to solidify.

Chocolate and hazelnut spread makes a quick and easy topping.

Simpler water icing (100 g icing sugar plus a few drops of water at a time added and mixed well – be careful not to make the icing to thin, it will run! You can always add more icing sugar to thicken it again).

Many, many more…

So, experiment with your favourite flavours in small cake form – and let us know what combinations you like best!

Print the basic fairycakes recipe (opens pdf).

Mexican Dips > Guacamole 5 June 2008

Posted by cath in easy, mildly spicy, Recipes.
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Yes its more Thai-style Mexican food with this rustic guacamole. It’s more of a chunky avocado salad than a traditional creamy guacamole, but I really like it.

When you’re making salsa, double the quantities of garlic, spring onion, chilli and coriander, juice another lime and do a couple of extra fresh tomatoes, then you can easily make both dips.

Ingredients

2-3 Avocados

2 fresh tomatoes – chopped finely

Chilli (red is best), garlic, spring onion, coriander – all chopped finely

Lime juice

Method

Scoop out the flesh of 2-3 ripe avocados and roughly chop into smallish cubes. Do this quickly, put it in a bowl and add a splash of lime juice to stop it browning.

Add the chopped chilli garlic, spring onions, tomatoes, coriander and a splash more lime juice (reserve some).

Mix well.

Press down to make the surface flat, then cover with a thin layer of lime juice. This keeps the guacamole from going brown.

Cover with cling film and keep in the fridge until needed. Before serving mix up again and add a garnish of fresh coriander leaves and/or chilli slices.

Mexican Dips > Salsa 26 May 2008

Posted by cath in easy, herbs, ingredients, mildly spicy, Recipes, shopping notes, variations, very spicy.
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Simple, spicy, tasty – try this salsa to go with all kinds of foods – not just mexican! I use leftovers in cheese sandwiches, with cold meats and salads, and of course as a relish for home-made burgers…

Ingredients

Tomatoes – 8-10 fresh tomatoes, roughly chopped*

2 Spring onions – finely chopped

Garlic – 2-3 cloves (to taste) crushed and chopped fine

Coriander leaf and stalk – small bunch, chop stalks finely, leaves roughly

Red/green chillies – 2-5 (to taste) chopped finely

1 tsp dried oregano

salt/pepper

tequila – 1 tbsp

lime juice – 1-2 tbsp (to taste).

Preparation

Combine everything in a bowl. Keeps in the fridge until needed.

If you’re pressed for time you can even chop everything roughly and blitz it in a hand blender or similar.  I prefer it more rustic, but you can also blend it until it’s smooth if you prefer.

* Out of season, you can use tinned tomatoes, although I recommend draining them well first or the salsa will be very runny (use the juice in the chilli con carne, or reserve for pasta sauce, stews etc. – it keeps well in the fridge).

For something a little different try a tin of green tomatoes – again drain before use and substitute for the red tomatoes. You can buy green tomatoes in tins from Lupe Pintos in Edinburgh.

Basic Recipes > Chilli with Beans 4 April 2008

Posted by cath in mildly spicy, Recipes, variations, vegetables, very spicy.
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My recipe for chilli is slightly inspired by Thai cuisine as I used to eat these very hot chilli con carnes out in Thailand. The recipe is quite spicy, with lots of fresh chillies, coriander and lime. Its nickname is “Tom Yum” Chilli because my Thai friend thought that it tasted like the hot and spicy Thai soup. Of course you should adjust the amount of chilli to your tastes.

This recipe below is actually a fantastic vegetarian chilli san carne, or you could try a variation with meat if you prefer.

Add guacamole and salsa, some tortilla wraps or chips to accompany the dish. You can use the basic stew recipe to make a variety of different Mexican inspired dishes…like this toasted chilli wrap.

 

Toasted Tortilla

Toasted Tortilla with Chilli, Sour cream, Salsa and Guacamole

Ingredients

1 tin Aduki beans, rinsed and drained then slightly crushed

1 tin Black-eyed beans, rinsed and drained then slightly crushed

1 tin Kidney beans, rinsed and drained

1 small handful of each red split lentils and puy lentils – rinsed (uncooked)

1 large onion – chopped

1 leek – sliced finely

2-3 sticks celery – finely chopped or grated

1/2 golden beetroot – grated (If you want to use purple beetroot, use sparingly as they will bleed purple into everything!)

1 small carrot – grated

6-8 cloves garlic – crushed and finely chopped

1 large handful of coriander (leaf, stalk & roots, if available)

4 large red or green chillies – finely chopped (or to taste, remove the seeds for less heat)

1 large red chilli sliced for garnish

1 Bay leaf

1-2 heaped tsp cumin powder (to taste)

1 tsp sweet paprika

1 pinch smoked paprika

1-2 tsp chilli powder (cayenne pepper)

2 tbsp dried oregano (use fresh instead or as well if you can get it)

salt and pepper

1 large glass red wine (or a small glass of port)

2 tins tomatoes (or use fresh chopped tomatoes)

A selection of vegetables like mushrooms, peppers, spinach – diced/chopped as appropriate

Juice of 1 lime

Method

  1. Heat a large pan, add a few tablespoons of oil (like Oleifera), you may need more as you cook all the vegetables.
  2. Fry the onion on low-medium heat, stirring occasionally. Just start to soften the onion, not brown it (about 5 minutes).
  3. Add the celery, leek and again fry off gently until they begin to soften (about 3 minutes), stirring gently.
  4. Then add the grated carrot and beetroot, fry, stirring gently – add a spoon more oil as required but don’t make it too greasy.
  5. Add the garlic, and taking the stalks and root from the coriander (save the leaf for later), chop finely and add to the pan. Stir again.
  6. [If you are using mince pork or beef, add it here and brown gently, stirring.]
  7. Now add the spices to the pan, the bay leaf and the dried oregano, a sprinkle of salt and pepper. Mix well and let fry gently for a minute.
  8. Get the crushed aduki and black eye beans, and the lentils and stir them into the pan with the spiced ingredients. Mix everything well.
  9. Add the wine, stir and let the alcohol evaporate.
  10. Add the tomatoes, break up the tinned tomatoes with the spoon. Stir well to combine. Add a large glass of water, and keep some at the side to add as required to loosen the mixture.
  11. Bring to a gentle simmer.
  12. Add the chopped mushrooms and fresh oregano if you have it.
  13. Simmer the dish with the lid partially on for 45-50 minutes, stirring occasionally, adding extra cold water if required (particularly if you are cooking lentils).
  14. With 10-15 minutes to go before you serve, add the peppers, check the seasoning and add more fresh chilli if required to taste.
  15. Add the drained kidney beans to heat through.
  16. With 5 minutes to go, stir in the spinach to wilt.
  17. Then remove from the heat, finish off with chopped coriander leaf and lime juice.

Serve with rice and sour cream.

Tips and Variations

Chilli is lovely with just mixed beans and vegetables as in the ingredients shown here, but you could also make it with pork or beef mince. Just substitute the meat for some or all of the beans and lentils. Add meat at the frying stage.

You can make chilli in advance as well. Remember that any beans in the dish will have continued absorbing liquid and flavour, which means you will need loosen the sauce with some extra cold water as you reheat it.

You can use any type of bean, or a mixture of different beans and lentils as I’ve used here. To save time, I usually use tins of pre-cooked beans, which will disintegrate more into the dish, but I also add some uncooked lentils to balance the different textures. Simmering the tinned beans gently in the sauce allows them to soak up the flavours. If you have time you could use dried beans and make everything from scratch – that way they will absorb even more flavour.

You can add any root vegetables you like – just grate and sweat them off in the base – they stew and melt into the sauce adding lots of flavour.

Chunks of mushrooms and peppers make a good addition to the dish, although you could use other vegetables – just put them in the sauce at the appropriate time to cook them through.

If you have any, you can also add some chopped fresh tomatoes at for a minute or two at the end of cooking for a fresher flavour (in season). Or try a tin of Mexican green tomatillos.

Cakes and Treats > The Best Chocolate Brownies 14 March 2008

Posted by cath in cakes and treats, comfort food, desserts, easy, Recipes, specials.
7 comments

This is the ultimate in easy, comfort food. A treat with a cup of tea, or a delicious dessert with a scoop of vanilla ice cream, or cream. My brownie recipe has been a long search. I’ve done much researching of many different ideas and recipes. A lot of trials, tests and tweaks later, its a very good thing for my belly (and that of my chief tasters) that the quest is over, and perfection has been reached!

 

Chocolate and Walnut Brownie

Chocolate Brownie

Now, here are the three things that I’ve discovered are the key to making the perfect brownie:

1. Undercooking!

Don’t be tempted to cook the brownie mix as you would a normal cake. Test it with a knife and the middle should still be quite wet. The trick is to also gently press the top of the cake to check that it has firmed up slightly, but still has some give. This should give the crisp top and gooey centre typical of the perfect brownie.

Be careful – it may take a few goes to get the timing perfect with an individual cooker – once you’ve got it right, remember to write it down so you know for the next time!

2. Icing Sugar (or confectioners sugar)

This definitely makes the best consistency of brownie. I have tried several combinations of sugars, from caster to muscovado. But it is fine icing sugar which definitely gives the best texture, its thanks to a recipe by Marcus Wareing (author of How to Cook the Perfect...) that I tried it.

Remember, a brownie mix is dense and fudgy, unlike cake mix that is typically beaten and aerated. Also, you don’t cook brownies for very long. So there isn’t much mixing or cooking time for the grains of other sugars to dissolve and blend properly. Go for the confectioners sugar! This recipe also adds some golden syrup helps the gooeyness along.

3. Nuts

Although they are not in all the recipes, I’m sorry, but for me a brownie is not a brownie without some walnuts (or you could use pecans). After trying a recipe by Pierre Hermé, I am also a convert to toasted walnuts. This is a very quick and simple first step and really makes a difference to the flavour, please try it! Also, as I tend to avoid scoffing all my brownies in one go, adding nuts improves the keeping time of cakes and biscuits, so I also add a few spoons of ground almonds with the flour as well to aid moistness.

OK, those are my top tips, now here is the recipe…

This makes enough to fill one round cake tin (18-20 cm wide). Which gives you at least 10-12 brownie slices, depending on greediness. I know brownies are traditionally square, but I use my favourite loose-bottom cake tin and treat it more like an un-iced cake. Also, this way every slice has some crispy outside and gooey centre – it’s the taste and texture that make these brownies the best!

(Of course, if you want square brownies, just use a square or rectangular tin. Remember to double the quantity I’ve used if you have a large rectangular tin (30×20 cm) – and you’ll also need to cook it for 5-8 minutes more.)

 

Ingredients

100g walnut quarters or pieces

150g good quality dark chocolate (I recommend Valrhona manjari, but any good quality, high cocoa content chocolate will do) – chopped/broken into similar sized pieces (aids even melting)

90g unsalted butter – diced (to help even melting)

2 tbsp golden syrup

150g icing sugar

75g plain white flour

15g ground almonds

20g cocoa powder (I recommend Divine)

2 large organic/free range eggs

1 tsp vanilla extract (optional, try Ndali or make sure you use an extract, not a synthetic vanilla flavour)

Method

  1. Heat the oven to 130 degC (fan)
  2. Spread the walnuts on a flat baking sheet and place in the low oven for 10-15 minutes until toasted. Put the timer on, you must not burn them! (When they are ready – they will be lightly browned and mellowed in flavour, just take them out of the oven, pour onto a clean tea cloth, wrap up and bash them against the worktop to slightly crush into smaller pieces, then open up the cloth to let them cool).
  3. Whilst the walnuts are cooking, weigh out the rest of the ingredients. Place the chocolate pieces, diced butter and golden syrup together in a medium-large glass bowl. This will be the bowl you mix everything together in, so make sure it’s big enough.
  4. Place the bowl over a saucepan of simmering water. (Make sure the bowl does not touch the water, you just need a small amount in the bottom of the pan to provide some steam). Stir occasionally with a large metal spoon to melt and combine. (See my post on chocolate crispy cakes for chocolate melting tips).
  5. Whilst the chocolate mixture is melting, sieve together the icing sugar, flour, ground almonds and cocoa powder into another bowl.
  6. When the chocolate mixture is nearly smooth and melted, remove from the heat and stir until completely smooth. Then leave to cool whilst you prepare the cake tin.
  7. Grease the cake tine and then line the base and sides with baking parchment (if you are using a loose-bottomed tin then just line the bottom). Then grease the lined base and sides carefully with some extra butter.
  8. The walnuts should be done by now, once they are out of the oven, turn it up to 180 degC (fan).
  9. Break the eggs into a small bowl and beat together with the vanilla extract (if using). Just do this by hand as well, you don’t need to worry about making the mixture airy and light – you want a stodgy mix!
  10. When the chocolate mixture has cooled to room temperature (takes at least 5-10 minutes, test it if you are unsure, it can’t be hot as it will scramble the eggs – but don’t wait too long or it will be too stiff to combine with other ingredients) add the beaten eggs and stir vigorously to combine. The mixture will begin to thicken up quite quickly.
  11. Then add half of the dry ingredients and mix together vigorously until smooth, continue adding the other half, then the walnuts, beating each time until smooth. The final mixture will be thick, dark and gooey.
  12. Pour the mixture into the cake tin. If you like, you can smooth the top a little using a knife – place a metal knife in a cup of hot water until warm, remove and wipe off the water, and use to smooth the top of the mixture.
  13. Once the oven is heated up, place the brownies in for 13-15 minutes.
  14. To check they are done, the top will be dry looking and slightly cracked – carefully and gently press on the top, which should be beginning to firm but not solid. A knife inserted into the centre should come out moist. Be careful not to overcook the mixture.
  15. Leave them to cool in the tin – don’t be tempted to remove them yet! Once cool, carefully remove them from the tin – peeling off the parchment paper. Sieve the top with a little icing sugar.

Serve with cream or ice cream for a delicious dessert, or just with a cup of tea or coffee for a decadent snack.

Yum!

Brownie

The Finished Brownie Cake

 

Moroccan Tagine with Lemon, Olives and Potatoes 31 January 2008

Posted by cath in Fish, freeze-friendly, ingredients, mildly spicy, Recipes.
5 comments

This is a recipe I made a few times, and each time I forget to photograph it. Oops. I’ve now made it with some monkfish, and with chicken (thighs/legs – skin, bones and all), lamb or mutton works a treat, and is definitely my favourite. I also tried mutton and aubergines and it worked really well.

I have never been to Morocco, but apparently this tastes authentic (and of course really delicious!).

I tend to add plenty of vegetable to my meals, and this tagine can also have other ingredients added to it. Try adding spinach (just stir in plenty at the last minute and heat until wilted) or baby carrots (added for the last 8-10 minutes of cooking). Try other seasonal vegetables as well.

For the charmoula I borrowed a recipe from Rick Stein’s Seafood and made some amendments, particularly to the amount of chilli – but this is still a mild dish. For those of you who like it hot, I’ve also added a cheating harrissa style sauce which is easy and quick to make. Use it to add some extra chilli flavour to your dish and/or plate – it also makes a great dip for bread or pita.

Serve the tagine with some couscous, one idea for that is at the bottom of the page.

Here’s my latest picture – this was the left overs, nicely stored away for later in the week – and it tasted great a few days later. Mutton and Aubergine Tagine:

Mutton and Aubergine Tagine
Tagine, topped with Harrissa and Toasted Almonds

Couscous and Pita Bread

Couscous and Homemade Pita Bread

Ingredients

Stew base:

1-2 large onions (red or white), sliced finely
3-4 garlic cloves, crushed
2 inch piece of ginger, finely shredded or grated
1-2 sticks celery, finely sliced (optional)
1 stick cinnamon
6-10 good quality tomatoes, roughly chopped (or use 1 tin of plum tomatoes)
1 handful of dried fruit (prunes, apricots or whatever you prefer), finely chopped
1 pint of fresh stock
1 glass dry white wine
Lemon rind from 1 lemon, finely shredded
6-8 queen green olives (stoned), roughly chopped (plus a few extra to serve with the dish)
8 new potatoes, or small waxy potatoes – washed but left whole (if possible)
1/2 can chickpeas (optional)
bunch of coriander, roughly chopped
handful toasted flaked almonds (make extra for the couscous too)
1 lemon, cut into wedges to serve

Charmoula:

3-4 tbsp roughly chopped fresh coriander
3 garlic cloves, roughly chopped
2 tsp ground cumin
1 red finger chilli, roughly chopped
4 tbsp extra virgin olive oil
Juice of 1 lemon (remove rind and reserve)
1½ tsp paprika
pinch saffron strands (optional, but will give a good colour)
pinch salt

Harrissa:

(should make you enough to have some left over as a dip!)

4 red finger chillies, roughly chopped
4 garlic cloves, roughly chopped
Juice of 1-2 lemons (reserve the rind for couscous)
4 tbps extra virgin olive oil

Meat or Fish

This makes a large stew, good for 6-8 people. You will need about 600g fish, or 1-2 chicken thigh (or leg) per person or about 1kg of lamb or mutton (shoulder cut into large chunks) – up to you!

Method

  1. Sweat the onion, celery, garlic and ginger in some olive oil, long and slow until very soft but not browned.
  2. While the base is cooking slowly, make the pastes. Blend all the ingredients for the harrissa in a mini-processor or similar. It should be a thin paste. Taste and adjust seasoning if required. Set aside.
  3. Then blend together all the ingredients for the charmoula – use the same processor, no need to wash out. Again this will be a thin paste. Taste, adjust seasoning and set aside.
  4. Add all the charmoula paste to the pan with the cinnamon stick and a few spoonfuls of harrissa (to taste, adding heat, garlic and lemon). Stir well and let fry for a minute.
  5. Add the raw meat (chicken or lamb) now and stir round in the charmoula to cover. (For fish, just add the fish later to gently cook through before serving).
  6. Add the tomatoes, stock, wine, lemon rind, dried fruit and half of the chopped olives bring to the boil and simmer gently with the lid on.
  7. Add the potatoes and simmer for the final 40 minutes.
  8. You will need to simmer the dish for at least 40 minutes to get the flavours to blend and cook the potatoes. Then add the chickpeas and heat through.

You will need to adjust the total cooking time depending on your choice of meat or fish: chicken thighs or legs on the bone (approx. 40mins-1 hour); stewing lamb or mutton (3 hours or more); large chunks of monkfish (10-15 minutes at the end after the potatoes are cooked).

After the meat or fish is cooked, remove from the heat.

Sprinkle over the other half of the olives, coriander leaf. Serve with a wedge of lemon, the harrissa, olives, pita or other fresh bread and some couscous.

Couscous:

A very simple, tasty and gorgeous looking couscous dish:

350 ml chicken stock
300g couscous
rind from 1 lemon, finely chopped or grated
3 tbsp extra virgin olive oil
20-30g toasted flaked almonds (toast in a dry frying pan and be careful not to burn them)
Chopped dried fruit, e.g. apricots, prunes, sultanas etc.
handful chopped mint
handful chopped coriander
rest of the can of chickpeas (optional)

Method

  1. Heat the stock until boiling then pour in the couscous and the lemon rind. Stir and remove from heat, covering with a lid or foil. Leave for 5 minutes.
  2. Remove the lid, fluff up the grains with a fork.
  3. Return the couscous to the heat, drizzle over olive oil and chickpeas. Cook gently for 2-3 minutes. Fold in almonds, fruit, herbs and season with some harrissa to taste.

You can reheat the prepared couscous again in the microwave or in the oven, but it’s best to add some fresh herbs at the end to liven up the flavours again.

Pita Bread:

A very simple, quick and tasty pita bread:

1/2 tsp dried yeast
150g white (strong bread) flour
100g wholemeal (strong bread) flour
1/2 tsp sugar
1/2 tsp salt
150 ml water

Method

  1. Place all the ingredients together. I use the pizza dough setting on the breadmaker (this is a 45 minute program consisting a 10-15 min knead, 10-15 min rise, then another 10 min knead and 10 min rise – so probably easy enough by hand for those who want to try that).
  2. Divide the dough up into 4-6 balls, roll them out into oval shapes of about 5 mm thickness. I’ve been told the secret is to make sure you roll them out on both sides – this ensures they puff up to create the classic pocket.
  3. Prove for 8-10 minutes (I have also left them longer and that’s been fine, or put the dough balls in the fridge overnight to use the next day).
  4. Bake in a very hot oven (220 degC or higher if you can) for about 6-8 minutes and serve immediately.

You can reheat them, but they can easily crisp up a bit too much, which is why I prefer to reserve some dough in the fridge to freshly bake with any leftovers.

Hope you enjoy my Moroccan feast! If you have a breadmaker, check out the pita bread, or flatbread recipes. They are very quick an easy and go really well with this dish.

P.S. comments as usual are welcome – particularly any mistakes, or anything you don’t understand.

Preparing the Charmoula

Making the Charmoula

Bowl of Harrissa

Bowl of freshly made Harrissa

(chilli, garlic, lemon and olive oil)

A quick snap of my chicken tagine – unfortunately not a particularly well presented dish that time – and I’d already started tucking in…

Quick Snap of the Tagine - before it was all gone!

Chicken, Vegetable and Olive Tagine, with Couscous and Pita Bread

**NEW**

Print the text of the ingredients and recipe: Moroccan Tagine (Opens a .doc file).