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.

Gnocchi Puttanesca

I love the idea of gnocchi but I always feel like it’s cheating to not make my own even though I’ll happily use pre-made pasta. I got over my reservations to put this quick to prep meal together on my language class night. At 8.30pm I can’t be bothered with anything too labour intensive. Using spinach gnocchi allowed me also to get some greens in there. Puttanesca is my favourite pasta recipe (maybe excluding Spaghetti Vongole) and when I saw the recipe on BBC Good Food, it was an instant winner. I did add a tin of tuna to it which I think was a bit too much but my husband liked it so I’ll leave it to your discretion.

Serves 4

Ingredients

  • 500g gnocchi of your choice
  • 500g passata (I went for passata with veggies)
  • 1 onion
  • 1 tsp chilli flakes
  • 60g kalamata olives
  • 1 tin anchovies
  • 1 tin tuna
  • 1 tbsp capers
  • 250g mozzarella
  • olive oil

Method

1.) Peel the onion and finely chop

2.) Heat some oil in a frying pan and add the onion. Fry on a low heat for 5 minutes or so until starting to soften.

3.) In the meantime, chop up the olives then add to the pan with the anchovies and the capers and and fry for a couple of minutes until the anchovies breakdown.

4.) Drain the tinned tuna and add to the pan, stir for a couple of minutes.

5.) Add in the passata and the gnocchi and cook for about 5 minutes. Chop up the mozzarella.

6.) Pour the mixture into a oven-proof casserole dish then dot the mozzarella over the top.

7.) Cook under a grill for 5 minutes or so, until the mozzarella is melted and golden brown.

Potato Taquitos

I always ask my husband if there’s any kind of food he wants when I do my weekly shopping but getting a response is like getting blood out of a stone. However, this time, I did get an answer of Mexican so I planned a couple of Mexican dishes. This potato taquitos was one of them from ‘Wahaca’ by Thomasina Myers. Thomasina Myers won Masterchef a while back and now has a chain of Mexican restaurants in the UK called Wahaca. I’ve only been once but I have the cookbook. It’s a little less heavy on all the very specific Mexican chillis in the ingredients list than the Rick Stein book I’ve mentioned in a previous post. However, I still sometimes struggle to find some of the ingredients, it is ridiculous how hard it is to get adobo chillis in this country especially considering it’s tinned. I don’t have that problem with this recipe, these are all fairly standard ingredients. The recipe does deep fry the taquitos but due to the fact that I grew up watching a BBC show called 999 (the emergency phone number in the UK) which featured a chip pan fire on every single episode, I am now terrified of deep frying anything. However, I find pan frying gives you nice crispy browned tortillas anyway and without all the oil waste. I served with salsa, tomatoes and sour cream on the side.

Makes 5 taquitos

Ingredients

  • 650g potatoes
  • salt and pepper
  • 1 onion
  • 3 jalapenos
  • 200g lancashire cheese (or another mild flavoured crumbly cheese)
  • 1 lime
  • sunflower oil
  • 5 tortillas

Method

1.) Peel the potatoes and cut them into cubes.

2.) Throw them into a pan with some boiling water and cook them until they’re tender.

3.) While these are cooking, peel and finely chop the onion and chop up the jalapenos. Halve the lime and crumble up the cheese

4.) Heat some oil in a frying pan and add the onion. Cook for about 7 minutes.

5.) Add the drained potatoes to the pan with the onions and add the jalapenos and fry for a couple of minutes.

6.) Tip the mixture into a bowl and add the cheese and some salt and pepper and squeeze in the juice of the lime. Give it all a stir.

7.) Add enough oil to the pan to cover the pan and then add a tortilla. Fry for a minute or so or until gone stiff and lightly browned.

8.) Add 1/5 of the potato mixture to one half of the tortilla and fold over

9.) Brown for a couple of minutes, then flip over and brown the other side. (You could lightly brown both sides, stick toothpicks through to seal then deep fry if you want to do it the book-way)

10.) Repeat with the rest of the tortillas and potato mixture.

11.) Serve!

Cheese & Potato Nests

A little behind on the posting yet again but I did have three interviews for two jobs this last week. I did end up with two job offers so at least it was time well spent. I have a good feeling about the job I picked as my new employer has at least one cat who nearly made an appearance on Microsoft Teams during our interview. I find that having a cat is always a sign of good character! This is my last French recipe for the time being as I can’t realistically pretend I’m on holiday anymore even with a mini-two day heatwave in Manchester. Cheese and potato is a big crowd pleaser and I served these with some pan fried fish. Again, this was from Rachel Khoo’s ‘Little Paris Kitchen’ as it’s the only French cookbook I own. Weirdly, this is a recipe made up by the Reblochon company to try to sell their cheese.

Serves 6

Ingredients

  • 1 tbsp butter
  • 500g waxy potatoes (Maris Peer or Charlotte are recommended)
  • 1 onion
  • 1 clove garlic
  • 1 bay leaf
  • 1 pack quorn bacon
  • 100ml white wine/stock
  • 250g Reblochon (or 250g of a mix of Reblochon and brie as I used)
  • 1 tbsp olive oil

Method

  1. ) Preheat the oven to 180 degrees C
  2. ) Melt the butter in a microwave for 10 seconds
  3. ) Brush a 12 space cupcake tin or a 6 space muffin tin with the butter
  4. ) Peel the potatoes and chop into matchsticks. Then set aside. You could use a mandolin but I’ve abandoned these after cutting my fingers to shreds.

5.) Peel and finely chop the onion.

6.) Heat the oil in a frying pan and add the onion and the bay leaf. Fry for about 5 minutes until starting to soften. In the meantime, chop up the quorn bacon into cubes. Then add to the pan and fry for another couple of minutes.

7.) Break up the cheese into blobs.

8.) Add the wine or stock and cook down until there’s just a couple of tablespoons left.

9.) Remove the bay leaf and tip the mixture into the bowl with the potatoes.

10.) Add the cheese and give it all a stir.

11.) Divide it between the 12 cupcake places or 6 muffin places.

12.) Bake for 15 – 20 minutes. I’m not sure you can really overdo these. If the potato sticks are a bit burnt at the top, all the better.

13.) Serve by scooping out with a spoon.