Mustard Sausage and Potato Bake

I was fortunate enough to have some days of holiday to use up in finishing my current job but I had to take them toute seule so I decided to go to France to simultaneously see friends and also check if my language classes were serving their purpose. As I would leave my husband on his own and he is too lazy to cook I tried to make something with a few portions before I left to ensure that he wasn’t just eating fish fingers everyday. There was a recipe in my slow cooker recipe book which I fiddled about with and I came up with this lovely mustardy sausage bake which I can see myself making many times in the future. It’s also nice to have a good British recipe which isn’t just pie (as much as I love pie). There’s not much green in this recipe so it might be nice with a side of broccoli or the traditional British accompaniment – peas.

Serves 4

Ingredients

  • 750g potatoes
  • 25g butter
  • 2 onions
  • 1 pack fake bacon
  • 1 cooking apple
  • 2 tbsp plain flour
  • 200ml stock (I used Massel chicken flavour)
  • 2 tsp English mustard (i.e. the bright yellow stuff)
  • 2 bay leaves
  • 50g cheddar cheese
  • 8 veggie sausages
  • salt and pepper

Method

1.) Preheat the oven to 200 degrees C

2.) Peel the potatoes and finely slice them

3.) Oil a baking tray and spread out the potatoes on it so they slightly overlap. Season with salt and spray with some oil.

4.) Bake for 30 minutes.

5.) Peel the onion and finely chop. Heat some oil in a frying pan and fry the onion until starting to soften.

6.) Chop up the ‘bacon’ and add to the pan to crisp up.

7.) Peel and chop up the apple and add it to the pan. Fry for a couple more minutes.

8.) Make up the stock, mix with the mustard and pour over the onion. Add the flour and stir through. Add the sausages and the bay leaf.

9.) Cook for 5 minutes or so until the mixture has thickened. Remove the bay leaf and take off the heat.

10.) Pour the mixture over the potatoes and put back in the oven for 10 minutes.

11.) Grate the cheese.

12.) Sprinkle the cheese over the baking tray and cook for a couple of minutes until the cheese is melted.

Patatas Bravas Traybake

I looove Spanish food. It’s probably my favourite of the European cuisines though I don’t tend to make Spanish food too often as the food I mostly know is Tapas which are a bit of a pain to try and put together as a whole meal. This great idea from BBC Good Food resolves this as it’s one traybake of potatoes, topped with smoked paprika enriched tomato sauce and (veggie) meatballs. I mixed in also some squid rings as I didn’t have enough meatballs for four portions which tasted nice but they don’t reheat very well. Serve with drizzles of aioli and you have a complete dinner.

Serves 4

Ingredients

  • olive oil
  • 3 cloves garlic
  • 2 tsp smoked paprika
  • 400g passata
  • 2 tsp sugar
  • 100g pitted black olives
  • enough frozen veggie meatballs for 4 people
  • 10g parsley
  • 1kg potatoes
  • aioli to serve

Method

1.) Preheat the oven to 200 degrees C fan

2.) Peel the potatoes and chop into cubes

3.) Add them to a baking tray and toss with 1 1/2 tbsp olive oil

4.) Sprinkle with salt, roast for 20 minutes, turn over then roast for another 20 minutes.

5.) In the meantime, peel and finely dice the garlic and onion

6.) Heat some oil in a pan and cook the meatballs until defrosted. Set aside on a plate.

7.) Heat some more oil in a pan and fry the onion until soft, add the garlic and cook for another couple of minutes.

8.) Stir in the tomatoes and the sugar and cook on a low heat until the sauce thickens slightly.

9.) Dice the parsley finely and set to one side.

10.) Put the meatballs in the baking tray with the potatoes and spoon over the tomato sauce.

11.) Bake for another 10 minutes.

12.) Top with the parsley and lashings of aioli.

Chocolate Hazelnut Cake

Living a relatively solitary life having started a new job working at home for the past year I don’t tend to make cakes all that often too more. Eating a whole cake between two people is just a bit too much. So when I heard a colleague of my husband’s brought a cake they’d made into work, I saw my opportunity and decided to make one myself. Unfortunately for my waistline (not so much for my taste buds) the majority of the cake came home as my husband’s colleagues are health freaks that don’t eat carbs. At my old company in London, everyone would bring treats in and we even had a baking competition (which I won twice). I can only hope that my colleagues at the new job I’m starting are more in this vein.

For my first cake in a while, I decided to choose a recipe from Nigel Slater’s ‘Notes from the Larder’. He is the king of cakes in my opinion. I’d made another hazelnut cake from one of his books in the past but I think that one didn’t have icing. The icing in this one uses hazelnut spread. You can use Nutella but I used Baci because I’ve seen a picture of the make-up of Nutella and I don’t think I can eat it anymore. At least with Baci I can claim ignorance even if it is made by Nestle and the less said about that company – the better! I’d try to avoid putting the cake in the fridge so put on the icing at the last minute.

Ingredients

  • 250g hazelnuts
  • 90g + 6 tbsp sugar
  • 200g dark chocolate
  • 250g butter
  • 2 eggs
  • 120g self-raising flour
  • 2 tbsp cocoa powder
  • 150g icing sugar
  • 2 tbsp double cream or sour cream
  • 200g chocolate hazelnut spread

Method

1.) Preheat the oven to 160 degrees C

2.) Line a 7 inch square tin (or round tin with 10 inch diameter)

3.) Oil a baking tray

4.) Put a frying pan on low-medium heat and add the hazelnuts to toast

5.) Once toasted, add the 6 tbsp sugar and let it melt to a golden caramel. It’s ok to move the sugar a little but don’t stir too much.

6.) Pour the mixture onto the baking sheet and allow it to cool until cool enough to be able to put into a food processor.

7.) Blitz the praline in the food processor to coarse crumbs

8.) Now, make the cake. Break the chocolate into pieces and melt in a bain-marie.

9.) Measure out 100g of the butter and add in chunks to the chocolate and melt with the chocolate. Remove from the heat and add the 90g sugar and the praline crumbs.

10.) Beat the eggs in a bowl and add to the mix.

11.) Measure out the flour and the cocoa powder and fold into the cake mixture. It will be quite thick.

12.) Bake for 35 – 40 minutes (mine was done after 35)

13.) In the meantime, make the buttercream, beat the hazelnut spread, softened 150g butter (microwaving it helps) and the icing sugar until it’s not lumpy. Loosen with the cream/sour cream.

14.) When the cake is cooled and removed from the tin, spread the buttercream liberally over the top.

Za’atar Scones & Spring Onion Soup

As a British person, scones are very close to my heart but basically being just a mixture of butter and flour, I don’t eat them as often as I would like. I tend to eat scones as a sweet treat with jam and clotted cream (always jam first! – everyone has an opinion on this in the U.K – it’s a great conversation point.). If you’re a tourist to England and you’d like to try the best scones, you need to go to the teahouse at the Jane Austen museum in the beautiful city of Bath. I saw these savoury scones in the book ‘Palestine on a Plate’ and decided to serve them with Ottolenghi’s spring onion soup. I managed to slice my thumb open in the process of chopping up the immense quantity of 900g spring onions but fortunately it was just as I’d pretty much finished so I’m happy that this soup turned out well considering that I can no longer practice the guitar.

Serves 4 (with 8 scones)

Ingredients

Scones

  • 340g plain flour (plus one handful) and extra for dusting
  • salt
  • 3/8 tsp bicarbonate of soda
  • 3/4 tbsp baking powder
  • 125g butter
  • 240ml milk
  • 1 tbsp white vinegar
  • 2 tbsp za’atar
  • 1 egg

Soup

  • 900g spring onions (or salad onions if possible)
  • 40g butter
  • 1 bulb garlic
  • 3 bay leaves
  • 300g peas (I used frozen)
  • 1 courgette
  • 1 litre vegetable stock
  • 80g parsley
  • 40g crème fraiche
  • 20g parmesan
  • 20g mint leaves
  • salt and pepper
  • 1 lemon

Method

1.) Preheat the oven to 190 degrees C

2.) Add the flour, baking powder, baking soda into a bowl. (I found that the flour in the recipe was not enough so ended up adding one more handful at the end)

3.) Chop up the butter into cubes

4.) Rub the butter into the flour but like breadcrumbs as if you were doing a crumble, so you can still see bits of butter

5.) Measure out the milk and add the vinegar (this is my sub for buttermilk), Stir very briefly to combine.

6.) Flour a work surface, tip out the mixture, flour your hands and push it together. Try to work the dough as little as possible.

7.) Sprinkle the za’atar over the dough.

8.) Line a baking tray, cut up the dough into 8 pieces and place on top. You could make these a bit prettier by using a cutter but you’ll just be left with the edges that you’ll need to mix together again at the end and I would rather have light, fluffy scones that look a mess.

9.) Crack the egg into a bowl and beat. Brush the scones with the egg.

10.) Bake for 18 minutes until golden.

11.) For the soup, peel and chop up the garlic. Chop up the white parts of the spring onion.

12.) Melt the butter in a large saucepan, add the whites of the spring onions and the garlic. Add some pepper and cook for about 15 minutes.

13.) In the meantime, slice up the green parts of the onion and chop up the courgette. Make up the litre of stock.

14.) Add the bay leaves and the green parts of the onion to the pan and cook for 10 more minutes.

15.) Add the peas and courgette and cook for another 5 minutes.

16.) Take out half the veggies from the saucepan and put to one side. Adding them back later will give the soup a nice texture.

17.) Chop up the mint and set to one side.

19.) Cover the vegetables with stock and simmer for 5 minutes.

20.) Grate the parmesan and measure out the crème fraiche. Zest the lemon.

21.) When the soup is done, remove the bay leaf, add the parsley and blitz with an immersion blender.

21.) Add back the set aside vegetables, warm up, then stir in the crème fraiche and parmesan

22.) Serve and garnish with lemon zest and mint leaves.

Kippers with spicy potatoes

Probably shouldn’t be posting this recipe now during working hours but my manager’s out of office and I’m saving my motivation for my new job. Half of tomorrow will be spent planning my mini-trip to Paris and Reims which may result in some rose biscuits on this blog, just in time for the new series of the Great British Bake off which starts in under a week now! I found this recipe in ‘Palestine on a Plate’ and was fairly surprised that there was no Ras al Hanout or Harissa used and I might give that a go next time I make it or maybe even some pesto or some other spicesg mixed with the oil used. The oil in the recipe was 175ml which was a bit too much in my opinion, probably you’re better off with about 110ml but I very much liked this recipe, it was so quick to put together and obviously as a Brit I love potatoes. As you may expect, the original recipe did not contain kippers and rather halibut but when I did the online food shopping, searching for halibut just gave me options for the coconut rum – Malibu! I thought that kippers would be more appropriate but feel free to use any kind of fish.

Ingredients

  • 2 large potatoes
  • 3 garlic cloves
  • 1 red chilli
  • 110ml olive oil
  • 2 plum tomatoes (or 10 mini plum tomatoes)
  • 10g parsley
  • 100g green beans
  • 1 lemon
  • salt
  • 4 fish fillets

Method

1.) Preheat the oven to 200 degrees C

2.) Slice up the potatoes thinly (no need to peel). Layer them on a baking tray so they’re slightly overlapping.

3.) Chop up the tomatoes, add them to a mixing bowl, peel and chop up the garlic and finely dice the chilli and add that too.

4.) Pour in the olive oil, chop up the parsley and add that, slice the lemon in half and squeeze in the juice. Add some salt and mix.

5.) Pour 3/4 of this mixture over the potatoes and bake for 20 minutes.

6.) Trim the green beans.

7.) Put the kippers in the middle of the tray, arrange the beans around the outside. Pour over the remainder of the oil mixture.

8.) Bake for another 10 – 12 minutes and serve.

Mexican stuffed peppers

Looking for another recipe from Rick Stein’s ‘Road to Mexico’, I stumbled upon this stuffed chilli recipe which I was able to adapt for an English kitchen. I served the chillis with some couscous (rice would probably work too but I hadn’t thought about sides and couscous takes 10 minutes) and stale tortillas crisped up in the oven. I used 1 tsp chilli flakes, I would like it a bit spicier so I’d go for 1.5 tsp. Ancho chilli flakes and chipotle chilli flakes are both readily available in Sainsburys as opposed to the guajillo chills Rick Stein suggests. I also used pointed red peppers in the absence of poblanos and brownie points for you if you’ve ever heard of epazote – I subbed with oregano.

Serves 6

Ingredients

  • 300g goat cheese
  • 250g ricotta
  • salt
  • pepper
  • olive oil
  • 1 bulb garlic
  • 6 pointed red peppers
  • 3 jalapenos
  • 2 bay leaves
  • 1 1/2 tsp oregano
  • 2 tsp brown sugar
  • coriander leaves
  • 6 plum tomatoes
  • 1 large onion
  • 1 tsp tomato puree
  • 3/4 tsp ancho chilli flakes
  • 3/4 tsp chipotle chilli flakes

Method

  1. ) Preheat the oven to 180 degrees C (160 degrees C fan)
  2. ) Peel and finely chop the garlic and the onion. Measure out 350ml water.
  3. ) Place half the garlic, half the onion, the tomatoes, the tomato puree, the water, the chilli flakes and 1/2 tsp oregano, salt and pepper in a large pan and simmer for 20 minutes.
  4. ) In a frying pan, heat some olive oil then add the onion. Cook for 5 minutes or so then add the garlic and cook for a further couple of minutes.
  5. ) Add the bay leaves, the sugar and the rest of the oregano then place in the pointed peppers. Add some water and cook for 15 minutes, enough to cover or if not, turn the chillis over halfway through.
  6. ) In a bowl, mix the ricotta and goat cheese. Chop up the jalapenos and mix with the cheese.
  7. ) Take the tomato sauce and whizz it in the blender until smooth.
  8. ) Heat some oil and add the tomato sauce back in the pan to thicken for about 10 minutes.
  9. ) Chop up some coriander leaves for the garnish and set aside.
  10. ) When the chillis are cooked through, remove from the heat and leave them to cool until they’re cool enough to handle.
  11. ) Slit one side with a sharp knife, stuff the chillis with the cheese, seal them up by poking through toothpicks and set them aside.
  12. ) When the sauce has thickened, pour some of it into an oven proof dish, place on the chillis, pour the rest of the sauce around the sides.
  13. ) Serve by removing the toothpicks and garnishing with coriander leaves.