Thursday, 22 October 2015

Vegetarian sausage pasta bake

Now the nights are getting darker and colder we felt like a quick, warming stew one evening. My eldest helped me make this,.

Begin by gently frying some frozen vegetarian sausages (either in spray oil, coconut oil or some olive oil). We used Quorn cumberland sausages. Allow about 2.5-3 per person. If you prefer to use normal sausages that is fine but you may want to drain off some of the fat that comes out of the sausages as you cook them.

Then add some chunkily chopped up red onions and stir and then a handful of chopped basil. Allow to cook for about 10 minutes over a gentle heat. You can add a bit of water if the pan is getting too dry. Then add a drained tin of chick peas and stir.

At this point add in a jar of passatta and 2 tsps of smoked paprika. Give everything a good stir.

Leave to simmer while you make up some pasta- I used wholewheat but you can use white if you prefer. You can then add some half fat creme fraiche or low fat garlic and herb cream cheese to the sausage mix- about 3 tbsp. Mix this through so it is fully incorporated. Remove the sausages at this point and chop into smaller chunks and then put back in the tomato sauce.

Once the pasta is cooked, drain and add to an over proof dish together with the sausage stew.

Cover with grated cheese (mozzerella and cheddar are a good mix).

Put under a hot grill until the top is bubbling and golden. If you want to make this in advance it can be reheated in a 180 degree oven for about 30 minutes until it is hot and the topping is bubbling and golden. Serve with a green salad.

Raspberry curd self-saucing pudding

We brought back a jar of raspberry curd from a foody market at a horse show in Pitlochry. It is delicious on toast and in victoria sponges but I wanted to try using it in a pudding.

Begin by greasing a shallow pyrex dish and then cover the base with a good few tablespoons of the curd.

Next make the batter- mix together 225g of self-raising flour and a pinch of salt then add 115g of caster sugar and 1 tsp of grated lemon rind. Melt 2 tbps of butter and add to this 1/2 tsp of vanilla extract and 1/2 cup of milk and add this milk mix to the flour until well blended.

Pour this over the curd mix and smooth it over the top.

Then make the lemon sauce- combine 1/3 cup of sugar with another tsp of lemon rind and sprinkle this over the top of the cake.

Then mix together a cup of boiling water and the juice of the lemon and spoon this over the batter and sugar topping.

Bake at 180 degrees for about 40 mins until the top is golden and set and then allow to stand for 5-10 mins which allows the sauce to thicken underneath- serve it too quick and it is runny. Serve with cream or ice-cream.

If you don't have any curd in this will still work very well omitting that stage.

Caramelised apple cake with a toffee topping

We brought back a load of apples from a holiday in France. Some of these I cooked in a sugar solution and decided to use some of these to bake an apple cake.

Begin making a batter. Mix together 225g of self-raising flour together with 2 tsp of ground cinnamon. Add 115g of unsalted butter and rub this into the flour. Add 115g light brown sugar and beat in 1 large egg and about 8 tbsp milk.

Then take around 225g of apples (you can use fresh just core and peel them and cut into chunks) and add these to the batter. If you like you can also add sultanas at this point (around 100g).

Pour into a lined 20cm loose bottomed cake tin and bake for around 30-40 minutes in a 180 degree C oven.

The cake should be golden and a skewer comes out clean when cooked.

Before cooking you can either sprinkle with a couple of tablespoons of demerara sugar which will give a crunchy topping. Or you can add a toffee sauce afterwards. Make this by combining 300ml double cream, 85g butter and 100g light brown sugar in a pan.

Heat gently until it is a smooth sauce.

Pour over enough to cover the top. Any remaining sauce can be kept in a container in the fridge for a week.

Friday, 14 March 2014

Doggie treats

This year brought a new arrival- a labrador puppy. She loves her food but treats are costly and also she is a typical lab and so we need to watch her waist line.

I've made her some sweet potato chews which are very easy and cheap (not don't allow too many at once since they can upset their tummy).

Take a few large sweet potatoes and wash and slice fairly thickly. Bake on the lowest setting for about three hours (turning half way through). They will come out soft but they will toughen on cooling.

These biscuits are also very easy to make and cheap.

Begin by combining 2 cups of wholewheat flour and 1 cup of oats. Add to this half  cup of vegetable oil, 1.5 cups of water 1 tsp vanilla, 1 tbsp honey, 1 beaten egg, 3 tbsp crunchy peanut butter and 1 mashed banana.

Combine until you have a fairly even dough- add more water or flour as required.

When you have a workable dough, line and grease a baking sheet. It is quite a sticky dough so to save your sanity, rather than rolling it out and cutting out shapes which can get messy, oil your cutter and then press the mix directly into the mould on the sheet. You should be able to then just push out shaped quantities of the dough.

I made these quite large since they cook better I feel and I can then break them up as required (or give her a whole one for special treats!)

Bake at the lowest setting for 6-8 hours until they are really dry and hard. You can store them in an air tight container for a week or so.

Friday, 7 March 2014

Double Orange Cake

A very light and moist sponge so really needs to be eaten within 24 hours of making. It is not a stodgy cake at all and you can really taste the orange.

Cake couldn't be easier. Combine 175g butter (or stork works just as well and doesn't need softening), 175g caster sugar, 175g self-raising flour, 3 eggs, 1.5 tsps baking powder and the grated rind and juice of one orange. You really do taste the orange so choose a nice juicy one. The thickness of the skin also makes a difference- those with a lot of pith tend to have a more bitter taste.

Once it is all combined pour into a 20cm deep round cake tin that has been greased and lined. Bake at about 170 degrees for about 40 minutes until it is golden and risen and springs back to touch.

Leave to cool on a rack. When it is cool brush the top with warmed apricot jam to create a crumb coating (stops the icing mixing into the cake to give a smoother finish).

Then combine 100g icing sugar with the juice of about half an orange until it is a coating consistency. Pour this over the cake and smooth with a palette knife. Then decorate with some grated orange (use the one that you took the juice for the topping from).

Saturday, 1 February 2014

steamed chocolate pudding

To make the sauce- melt together 100g butter, 50g light sugar, 100g dark chocolate, 1 tbsp golden syrup and 2 tbsp milk  and 2 tbsp cream in a bowl over a pan until smooth. 

Pour 8 tbsps into a greased pudding basin and keep the rest in a jug for later. 

To make the pudding melt together 100g butter, 85g light or dark brown sugar and 2tbps golden syrup and then combine this with 225 g self-raising flour, 2 large eggs, 50g cocoa, 150ml milk, pinch salt, 1 tsp ground cinammon and zest of an orange into a food mixer and blend together.

Put this mix on top of the sauce and put a greased lid on the basin.

Put in a large pan and put in enough water to come three quarters of the way up the side and then simmer or one and a quarter hours. 

Turn out onto a plate and serve with the extra (warmed) chocolate sauce and custard or ice cream.

Saturday, 16 November 2013

Chicken filo pastry pie

A lighter alternative to a normal chicken pie.

Begin cooking the filling. Fry 500-750g cubed chicken til cooked through but don't brown it. Remove from the pan and then cook 3 shredded leeks and about 500g sliced mushrooms.

When these have wilted stir through 1 tbsp plain flour and cook for a couple of minutes.

Then add 125 ml of white wine (or sherry works well too) and 200ml of chicken stock and cook for about 5 mins allowing to thicken.

Then add about 150g of cream cheese with garlic and herbs and mix in until this melts. Then return the chicken and a good handful of chopped parsely and stir together.

This can be kept in the fridge overnight if needed. Then put in a pie dish and cover with buttered filo strips rippled over the top (I used about 5 this time).

Bake at 200 degrees for about 35 minutes until the top becomes golden brown. Serve with new potatoes and a green salad.