Orange and Raisin Soda Bread

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My 5 year old son and I love Nadia Hussain – former Bake Off Winner and all round loveable mum – so we made the delicious, slightly sweet soda bread from her World Book Day book Bake Me A Story.   The great thing about soda bread is that you don’t have to knead it, it is just a matter of mixing the ingredients and patting the dough in to a rough ball.  It was easy and we all loved it with a spread of butter! We replaced the dried blueberries with raisins as we had them at home already.

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My son tends to help a little then run off, then help a little more and run off, before declaring he is tired.  Which is fine, because every second helping out counts.  He helped tipping in and mixing the ingredients, cutting a cross in the loaf before baking, and tapping on the bottom of the loaf to check it was cooked (it should make a hollow sound).

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Here is the recipe!

Orange and Raisin Soda Bread (makes one loaf)

400g plain flour

2 tsp baking powder

1/2 tsp salt

50g caster sugar

2 tbsp olive or vegetable oil

100g raisins/dried cranberries/dried blueberries

Grated zest of 2 oranges

1 large egg

185ml buttermilk (if you don’t have buttermilk you can easily make it by mixing milk with lemon juice – mostly milk topped up with lemon juice to 185ml – it might curdle and that’s fine)

Preheat the oven to 180 degrees/gas mark 6.  Line a baking tray with greaseproof paper.

In a large bowl mix the flour, baking powder, salt, sugar, oil, raisins and orange zest until combined.  Separately beat the egg with the buttermilk then pour in to the bowl with the other ingredients, and mix with a spatula.  Gently bring the dough together to form a ball, but don’t overwork it (you may need to use your hands at the end).

Place the dough on the lined tray and make two deep cuts in the top in a cross shape, nearly all the way through.  Bake for 30-40 minutes, until the loaf is golden and sounds hollow when taped on the base.

Leave to cool then enjoy with butter!  Should last 2-3 days and can be toasted.

 

 

One-Pot Gnocchi Bake

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I am very excited to share this 20 minute, one-pot gnocchi recipe that went down great at tonight’s family dinner!  Gnocchi is a sort of bite-sized Italian potato dumpling that you can buy fresh from most supermarkets.  To make the bake, simply fry an onion, pepper and garlic for a few minutes, add a tin of chopped tomatoes, olives and the gnocchi and simmer for a further 10 minutes.  Stir in some torn basil, top with mozzarella and grill until golden!  It would be nice with salad on the side too.  And I might add spinach to the bake for extra goodness next time.   Brilliant!

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One-Pot Gnocchi Bake (serves 2-4 people)

Olive or vegetable oil

1 onion, chopped small

1 red pepper, chopped small

2 cloves garlic, crushed

400g can chopped tomatoes

Large handful of black olives, roughly chopped

500g pack of gnocchi (available at most large supermarkets)

Handful of basil leaves, roughly torn

Ball of mozzarella, sliced

Heat the oil in a pan and add the onion, pepper and garlic.  Cook for a few minutes, stirring regularly.  Add the tomatoes, olives and gnocchi and simmer gently for 10-12 minutes, until the gnocchi is tender and cooked (it doesn’t take much to cook it), stirring regularly.  Stir in the basil leaves, top with the torn mozzarella and grill until golden.  Eat straightway!

Caramelised Apple Cake

 

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This Caramelised Apple Cake is my second favourite cake.  I have made it a few times now, so I am confident that it is delicious, moist and hard to get wrong!  To get the caramelised effect you sprinkle sugar on the bottom of a cake tin, top with sliced apples and then the cake mixture. It’s a lovely touch and looks super pretty.  We all love it!

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Allow about 15 minutes to prepare the cake and 50 minutes to bake it.  And make sure you have greaseproof paper.  Serve with ice cream.  And tea!

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Caramelised Apple Cake (serves 12)

5 medium apples

Juice of ½ a lemon

275g (9oz) light brown sugar

5 medium eggs

100g (3½oz) butter, melted

Pinch of salt

1 tsp vanilla extract

215g (7½oz) plain flour

¾ tsp baking powder

100g (3½oz) ground almonds

 

Preheat oven to gas 4, 180°C, fan 160°C. Grease a cake tin and line the base and sides with nonstick baking/greaseproof paper.  Peel, halve and core the apples and slice (as in the above picture). Sprinkle with the lemon juice and 50g (2oz) of the sugar and set aside.

Scatter a further 50g (2oz) of sugar over the base of the tin. Cover with a layer of apple slices, overlapping them slightly so they sit in concentric circles.

Beat the eggs, melted butter, remaining sugar, salt and vanilla extract together until combined. Add the flour and baking powder, followed by the ground almonds. Add the remaining apple slices (chopped smaller if you like), including any liquid, and fold together quickly. Pour into the tin and bake for 50 minutes, until the cake has risen and is golden brown. (At around 30 minutes into the baking time, check the cake. If the top is golden brown by that point, cover with a layer of foil for the remainder of the baking time.)

Carefully turn out onto a serving plate so that the base is uppermost.  Eat!!

Recipe from Tesco

Cooking With Kids – Salmon and Green Bean Curry

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This is a gently spiced Salmon and Green Bean Curry recipe from the lovely Nadiya Hussain’s free kids cookbook for World Book Day.  It is all made in one pan so nice and simple.

My youngest son Robin (5) helped me make the curry using his new proper grown up chopping knife (the knife brand is ‘kitchen devil’, so obviously he was sold).  Luckily he is naturally cautious so I wasn’t scared for long!  I just had to make sure there was no loud music on and he and his brother were in different rooms and not distracting each other.  He helped me cut the green beans and salmon, holding one end with one hand (fingers curled in) and cutting slowly with the other.

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He also helped me put the ingredients in the pan and stir.  Great job Robin!  Hopefully Freddy will cook with me soon too.  Freddy and us adults loved the dish with some brown rice.  Robin wasn’t keen on the green beans but enjoyed the rest of it and we agreed to try it with peas next time.  Canned chickpeas would make a great alternative to the salmon.  Allow about 30 minutes to make everything!

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Salmon and green bean curry (serves 4 with brown rice)

Glug of oil

2 garlic cloves, crushed

Thumb of ginger, grated very small

1 small onion, chopped small

1 tsp tomato puree or 1 tomato, chopped small

1/2 tsp turmeric

1 1/2 tsp garam masala

Water

170g green beans, chopped

450g salmon, skin removed and chopped in to chunks

Handful of fresh coriander, roughly chopped

Heat the oil, garlic, ginger and onion in a pan for 5 minutes, until the onions have softened.  Add the tomato puree or tomatoes, turmeric and garam masala and cook for another minute.  Add a 2 tbsp water and then the green beans.  Cook for 5 minutes, adding a little more water if need be, to just cover them.

Add the salmon and cook for another 5-7 minutes, adding a little more water to help them cook if necessary.  Take off the pan and stir in the coriander.  Eat with brown rice!

Spiced Bread Pudding

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I’m not sure if you’ve ever tried bread pudding, but I absolutely love it, as does my 7 year old son!   Apparently in the 11th Century it was known as ‘poor mans pudding’ but don’t let that put you off – it is basically a delicious, springy cake made from chopped bread, cinnamon and nutmeg.  It is finished off with a lovely crunchy sprinkle of brown sugar.  Oh, and since it contains wholemeal bread it also happens to be high in fibre.

I always choose bread pudding when I visit Gregg’s bakery, but didn’t realise how easy it would be to make it at home!   Thank you to my sister-in-law’s mum for sharing the recipe from Sinless Snacks cookbook (which I have slightly adapted).

Bread pudding (makes around 12-14 slices)

300g wholemeal bread, cut in to 1 inch slices

300ml semi-skimmed milk

1 egg, beaten

75g butter/margarine

150g raisins

110g brown sugar

1 tsp ground cinnamom

1/2 tsp nutmeg

Preheat the oven to 190 degrees/gas mark 5.  Grease a cake or sandwich tin.

Place the chopped bread and milk in a large bowl and mix together well, helping the milk get absorbed.  Leave for at least 5 minutes, then add all the remaining ingredients, except for 1 tbsp of the sugar.  Stir well and press the mixture in to the cake or sandwich tin.  Sprinkle the top with the remaining sugar.

Bake for 35-45 minutes, until golden brown (don’t worry if it feels springy).  Remove from the oven, leave to cool, then turn out and cut in to slices.

 

Brazilian Fish Stew (Moqueca)

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This is a really hearty, beautifully flavoured fish stew that hails from Brazil (they call it Moqueca).  The fish is simmered in a lovely tomato, coconut, pepper and garlic sauce and the whole dish is topped with fresh coriander, chilli and a squeeze of lime.  I have simplified it slightly so it only takes 25 minutes to make.  Next time I will eat the stew with a hunk of baguette to soak up the flavours!  Wonderful.

Brazilian Fish Stew (Moqueca) – serves 2

Oil, for frying

1 onion, sliced thin

1 red pepper, sliced thin

2 cloves garlic, crushed

Tin chopped tomatoes

Carton of coconut cream (160ml)

Salt and pepper

2 fillets white fish, chopped in to large chunks (I chose pollack as it is good value!)

Handful coriander, roughly chopped

1 red chilli, chopped small

2 lime quarters, for serving

Heat the oil on a medium heat and fry the onion and pepper for about 7 minutes, stirring regularly, until softening.  Add the garlic and 1/2 the chopped chilli and heat for a minute, then add the tin of chopped tomatoes, coconut cream, salt and pepper.   Heat for 2 minutes then add the fish on top.  Make sure it is mostly covered by the sauce.  Simmer for around 12-15 minutes, until cooked through, turning over halfway.  Spoon in to bowls then top with the remaining chilli, coriander, and a wedge of lime for squeezing.  Enjoy with crusty bread and a cold drink!

Family-Fun Asian Buddha Bowl

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You may have seen Buddha Bowls before – they are basically bowls filled with little mounds of different foods, usually vegan.  I decided to mix it up and put together a quick, non-vegan, family-friendly Asian Buddha Bowl: sushi (shop-bought of course!); edamame beans in their pods (just defrost them and cut off the ends for easy popping); chocolate covered rice cake; fruit; prawn crackers and salted peanuts.  Us adults also had kimchi (a sort of spicy, fermented Korean coleslaw – not sure what I make of this yet!)

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The kids loved having all the different bits of food in their bowl and especially enjoyed the sushi (they stuck with the more familiar rice and salmon option rather than the more complex filling).  They didn’t finish every single thing and I didn’t pressure them to, as I think the fun of experimental eating makes the little rascals more likely to be adventurous in the long-term anyway.

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I’m going to try some other Non-Orthodox Buddha Bowls in the future – the options are endless.  Suggestions are very welcome!

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Cracking Creamy Prawn and Spinach Pasta

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I recently had possibly the best pasta dish of my life at  Vapiano restaurant in London – a big, silky, comforting bowl of spaghetti, prawns, cream, pesto, onion, garlic, chilli and spinach.  The best thing about this experience was that the dish was cooked in front of me (you order your food then the chefs cook it behind a long counter).  I therefore realised that this AMAZINGLY delicious dish is easy to cook and only takes 15 minutes!

Within days my boyfriend cooked the dish himself at home and it was every bit as good.  The kids loved it too.  It makes a great family meal but would also impress friends.  Here is the recipe.

Cracking Creamy Prawn and Spinach Pasta (serves 2)

Approx 200g pasta

A little olive or vegetable oil

1 large clove of garlic, crushed/chopped small

1/2 onion or a shallot, finely chopped

Approx 150g large prawns

1/2 fresh chilli, chopped small (seeds included!)

1 tbsp double cream

1 tbsp basil pesto

Large handful of parmesan

Large handful of spinach, roughly chopped

Cook the pasta as per the packet instructions.  Meanwhile heat the oil separately in a pan, add the garlic, onion and prawns and fry on a medium heat for a few minutes, stirring regularly.  Add the chilli, double cream, pesto and most of the parmesan.  Heat for a few more minutes then add the spinach.  Continue to heat for at least two more minutes, stirring regularly, until the spinach has wilted.

Drain the pasta and add it to the sauce mix.  Mix well and divide between two bowls.  Top with the remaining parmesan.  Enjoy every second of eating it.

 

 

Tiramisu (Pure Italian Indulgence)

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Tiramisu is an outrageously gorgeous and creamy Italian dessert, traditionally made using eggs, mascarpone cheese and biscuits soaked in coffee (and sometimes alcohol too).  This is my boyfriend’s colleague, Amandine Gutierrez’s, recipe.  She made it for everyone at work and he hasn’t stopped talking about it!  He has a seriously sweet tooth so you know if he particularly likes something then it is going to be an indulgent treat.

Although the recipe looks a bit intimidating it is actually pretty straightforward to make, particularly if you use an electric whisk for the egg.  Allow at least 6 hours for the Tiramisu to set in the fridge before you delve in!

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Tiramisu (impossible to say how many it serves – 4 greedy people/more less greedy people)

3 eggs

50g granulated sugar

250g mascarpone cheese

Pinch of salt

Coffee (instant is fine)

Cocoa powder

Pack of Lotus Biscoff biscuits (or sponge finger biscuits)

Prepare 3 espresso-sized cups of coffee and pour it in to a dish where you will dip the biscuits.  Let it cool while you prepare everything else.

Separate the egg whites from the yolks in two different bowls.  In the bowl with the egg yolks, add the sugar and mix well.  Add the mascarpone cheese, little by little and keep on whisking until it is smooth.  Try to remove any lumps by whisking energetically.

In the bowl with the egg whites, add a pinch of salt and beat them by hand or with an electric whisk until they are firm (you should be able to hold the bowl upside down without the whites falling – normally takes a few minutes).  Add the beaten egg whites very slowly (bit by bit) to your egg yolk mixture, mixing slowly with a spatula, so you don’t break the beaten egg whites.

Once the mixture is smooth, it’s time to dip your biscuits in to the coffee.  Dip each side fairly quickly so they soak up with coffee without falling apart and make a first layer of biscuits in the bottom of the container you will use to make the Tiramisu (there will be two layers in total).  Pour over a little more coffee if it needs it, so the biscuits are well soaked but not swimming in coffee, and there is enough coffee left for the second layer of biscuits.  Once done add 1/2 the eggs mixture on top, then do another layer of coffee dipped biscuits.  Finish with a final layer of the eggs mixture.  Finish it all off by carefully shaking a little cocoa powder over it all using a sieve.

Put the Tiramisu in the fridge for atleast 6 hours to set, or until the next day.  Eat!

 

Veggie Tortilla Soup (20 mins)

We love this Veggie Tortilla Soup!  It is hearty, tasty and perfect to slurp on a cold day.  The soup is Mexican and traditionally made with chicken but there is plenty of flavour and texture without it, plus a hit of protein in the black beans.  Allow 20 minutes to make it.

If you are making this for kids too then you could leave out the chilli in the cooking and have it on the table instead.

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Veggie Tortilla Soup (serves 2)

1 tortilla, cut in to thick strips

Oil

1 large clove garlic, crushed

1/2 green or red chilli, chopped small

1/2 red onion, sliced

Can of chopped tomatoes

1 tsp cumin seeds/ground cumin

Tin of black beans, drained

Salt and pepper

2 lime quarters

1/2 avocado, sliced

1/3 block of feta, to crumble

Small handful of coriander

Heat the oven to 20 degrees/gas mark 6.  Put the tortilla strips on to a baking tray and bake them for a few minutes on each side, until golden and crispy.

Separately heat some oil in a saucepan and add the garlic, chilli and red onion and fry for 5 minutes, until the onion is soft.  Add the canned tomatoes, cumin, black beans and a little salt and pepper.  Simmer for 5-10 minutes, stirring occasionally.

Spoon the mixture in to bowls then top each bowl with a lime quarter, avocado, feta, the coriander and the tortilla strips.  Slurp!