Mostly healthy eating!

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Couscous salad with mixed beans, feta cheese and olives

Couscous salad with mixed beans, feta cheese and olives

As the heat wave continues light, tasty food is the order of the day. This recipe is inspired by Greek flavours and includes feta cheese and olives. As both of these ingredients can be quite salty, do check the seasoning carefully before adding extra salt. […]

Chickpea and chorizo salad

Chickpea and chorizo salad

We are having a bit of a heatwave here in the UK with temperatures consistently reaching the high 20s, and this is having a profound effect on my appetite and motivation to get into the kitchen! This chickpea and chorizo dish is light, tasty and […]

Cinnamon Snails

Cinnamon Snails

Whenever we go on a city break we always book ourselves onto a food tour. It’s a fun and informative way to learn about a city and it’s food culture. We recently visited Berlin and spent a great afternoon with Sam, who runs Bite Berlin Food Tour, sampling pretzel, Cuurywurst, Bouletten and Rotkappchen amongst other foodie delights, but the highlight for me was the Zimtschnecke (cinnamon snails) at Zeit für Brot.

We were accosted by the aroma of cinnamon as we approached this little bakery, and the buns were fresh out of the oven.

 

 

These snails were the lightest buns I have ever tasted and just melted in the mouth. The flavour of cinnamon was simply sublime. I was hooked and knew I had to try to replicate these once back home in the UK.

After a considerable amount of research I knew that an enriched dough, incorporating milk, butter and eggs, was required. A lot of recipes used plain flour, which gives a softer crumb, and I decided to give this a go. The resultant bun did indeed have a soft crumb but was exceedingly difficult to work with, due to the lack of gluten in the flour. So much patience and time was required that I decided that it really wasn’t worth all the effort, and for a less experienced baker the dough could well end up in the bin!

My second attempt used strong white bread flour, much easier to work with and still gave pleasing results. I admit they are inferior to the ones we sampled in Berlin but they are still tasty and moreish. Do give them a go and let me know your results.

Happy baking x

 

Cinnamon Snails

 

Ingredients

  • 75g unsalted butter, cubed
  • 200ml milk
  • 10 cardamom pods, bashed with the back of a knife
  • 500g strong white bread flour
  • 7g fast action yeast
  • 1 teasp salt
  • 50g caster sugar
  • 2 eggs

For the filling;

  • 75g unsalted butter, softened
  • 50g dark muscovado sugar
  • 1 tbsp ground cinnamon

To glaze;

  • 1 egg, beaten

 

Put the butter into a small saucepan with the milk. Add the cardamom pods and heat on low until the butter has completely melted. Remove from the heat and allow the mixture to cool slightly. It should feel slightly warm when you stick a finger into it. Strain into a jug to remove the cardamom.

Put the flour into a large bowl and add the yeast, salt and sugar.

Beat the eggs into the milk mixture. Gradually add this into the dry ingredients, stirring all the time, until a sticky, but not wet dough forms.

Turn the dough out onto a lightly oiled work surface and knead for 10-15 minutes or until the dough has become smooth and elastic. Put into an oiled bowl, cover with clingfilm and leave in a warm place for 1-2 hours, or until doubled in size.

Meanwhile prepare the filling. Combine the butter, sugar and cinnamon together in a small bowl until a soft and spreadable paste is formed. Set aside.

Once the dough has risen, turn it out onto a lightly oiled work surface and fold it in on itself several times to knock out any of the larger bubbles. Roll the dough out into a rectangle about 40cm long and as wide as you can make it.

Spread the filling evenly over the dough. Roll the dough tightly starting from the longest (40cm) edge. Cut off the ends of the roll to neaten them up, and slice the roll into 12 even pieces. Arrange the pieces in a lightly greased roasting tin, spiral side uppermost, with enough space for them to double in size. Cover with oiled clingfilm and leave for 45 minutes to an hour, until double in size.

Preheat oven to 200°C/Fan 180°C/Gas 6.

Brush the dough with the beaten egg and bake for 15-20 minutes, or until golden brown.

Leave to cool slightly, then serve warm. Any uneaten buns can be frozen to enjoy another day.

 

Makes 12

 

 

 

Emergency cake!

Emergency cake!

This fruity tray bake is my go to cake when I have run out of sweet treats. Particularly useful for those unexpected visits as it uses store cupboard ingredients and is quick to prepare. I also freeze slices ready for any occasion. Served with custard […]

Courgette pasta

Courgette pasta

It’s the start of the courgette season and this recipe is for all of you allotment owners. These green gems come thick and fast in the summer and it can be a bit daunting to find new ways of using them. This recipe heroes the […]

Rhubarb and orange cake

Rhubarb and orange cake

I love rhubarb and ginger crumble but sometimes it can be a bit boring and that’s where this recipe steps in. Originally a Waitrose recipe, first published in 2006, it also made an appearance on Masterchef, in 2009, when Rachel Thompson, a quarter finalist, made it. I don’t recall what the verdict was but it can’t have been too bad as the recipe then found its way into a Masterchef cookbook!

It’s a lovely way to use rhubarb, and the orange also shines through. Serve with cream, ice cream or custard. I also find it freezes well.

Enjoy x

 

Rhubarb and Orange Cake

 

Ingredients

  • 400g rhubarb, trimmed and cut into 2cm pieces
  • 200g golden caster sugar
  • 150g butter, softened
  • 2 large eggs, lightly beaten
  • 75g self raising flour
  • ½ teasp baking powder
  • 100g ground almonds
  • grated zest of 1 small orange, plus 2 tbsp juice
  • 25g flaked almonds

 

Preheat oven to 190ºC/Fan 170ºC/Gas 5. Grease a round 23cm springform cake tin and line its base with baking parchment. Place the rhubarb in a bowl and cover with 50g of the sugar. Leave for 30 minutes while you prepare the rest of the cake.

With an electric whisk, beat together the remaining sugar (150g) and the butter, then whisk in the eggs. Using a metal spoon, gently fold in the flour, baking powder and ground almonds, then stir in the orange zest and juice.

Stir the rhubarb and its sugary juices into the cake mixture and spoon into the prepared tin. Place on a baking tray, sprinkle over the flaked almonds and bake for 25 minutes. Reduce the temperature to 180ºC/Fan 160ºC/Gas 4 and cook for a further 20-25 minutes, or until firm. Allow to cool in the tin for 10 minutes.

Serve warm or cold.

 

Serves 8

 

Orzo and pesto salad

Orzo and pesto salad

I love the long summer days when our thoughts turn to lighter foods and escaping outdoors. Suppers become much simpler but nonetheless  tasty. This week we are enjoying this nice simple salad, quick to prepare and great with cold roast meats or some simply grilled […]

Chicken in oyster sauce with braised pak choy

Chicken in oyster sauce with braised pak choy

This is another quick and easy supper dish which takes advantage of store cupboard ingredients. A tasty and satisfying meal, ready to serve in around 30 minutes. Enjoy x   Chicken in Oyster Sauce with Braised Pak Choy   Ingredients   4 tbsp oyster sauce 1 […]

Leek and pancetta quiche

Leek and pancetta quiche

We are doing a fair amount of entertaining in the coming weeks and I like to get ahead, enabling me to spend more time with our guests. This is a really tasty quiche which can be made in advance, and popped in the freezer ready for any occasion.

I prefer to make my shortcrust pastry in a food processor, which gives me good results every time. Just blend the flour, butter and salt together first, then add the cold water and pulse until combined. Tip the dough out onto a floured surface and briefly knead to bring it together in a smooth ball.

Enjoy x

 

Leek and Pancetta Quiche

 

Ingredients

 

  • 200g plain flour
  • pinch of salt
  • 100g unsalted butter, chilled and cubed
  • 130g smoked pancetta lardons
  • 2 leeks, trimmed and finely sliced
  • 4 large eggs
  • 4 tbsp double cream
  • 100g gruyere cheese, finely grated
  • 2 tbsp chopped flat leaf parsley
  • sea salt and freshly ground black pepper

 

First make the pastry. Sift the flour and salt into a large mixing bowl. Rub the butter into the flour, using your fingertips, until the mixture resembles fine breadcrumbs. Mix in 3-4 tbsp of cold water. Bring the pastry together and knead gently until you have a smooth ball. Wrap in clingfilm and chill for 20 minutes.

Preheat oven to 200ºC/Fan 180ºC/Gas 6. Grease a 25cm loose-bottomed tart tin.

Roll out the pastry thinly on a lightly floured work surface and use it to line the prepared tin. Prick the base with a fork and chill for 10 minutes.

Line the chilled pastry with greaseproof paper and fill with ceramic baking beans or uncooked rice. Bake in the oven for 15 minutes. Remove the paper and beans, then bake for a further 5-8 minutes, until golden. Remove from the oven and set aside.

Meanwhile, fry the pancetta in a large frying pan over a medium heat for 3-4 minutes until crisp, there is no need to add any oil. Add the leek to the pan and cook for 4-5 minutes until soft. Remove pan from the heat and use a kitchen towel to mop up any excess oil.

Mix the eggs and cream together in a bowl, then season with a pinch of salt and pepper. Add two thirds of the cheese and stir in the leeks and pancetta. Mix well then add the parsley. Pour the mixture into the prepared pastry case and sprinkle over the remaining cheese. Bake in the oven for 20 minutes, until golden and set.

Remove from oven and cool slightly before serving with a green salad.

 

Serves 4-6

 

 

 

Spicy bean wraps

Spicy bean wraps

This is a quick and easy supper dish using store cupboard ingredients. I used to make this with a fajita packet mix but wasn’t overawed by the flavours and I found the resulting texture a bit too powdery. After much experimentation, with different herbs and […]