Shakshouka with Pitta Bread

Whilst staying in Paris, our friend cooked us a delicious shakshouka so as I had some eggs to use up I thought of this and decided to make it for myself with some pitta bread. I’ve tried making pitta before but this time using the BBC Good Food recipe it came out really well. I made enough for three people to have some leftovers and I halved the pitta recipe to make four pitta breads. Pitta is a flat bread, in English we use the Greek word pitta but in the Middle East, i.e. the home of shakshouka, it’s called ‘fatteh’.

Serves 3

Ingredients

  • 10g parsley
  • 500g passata
  • 1 tbsp cumin powder
  • 3/4 tbsp smoked paprika
  • 1 onion
  • 1 red pepper
  • 4 cloves garlic
  • 6 eggs
  • 1 tsp yeast
  • 250g bread flour
  • 1 tsp salt
  • 1/2 tbsp olive oil + extra for oiling the bowl.

Method

1.) Make the dough for the bread by adding the yeast to 150ml tepid water and leaving it to brew for 10 minutes.

2.) Add the salt to a bowl and then pour on the flour. Pour on the yeasty water and the olive oil. Mix in a stand mixer with a dough hook or knead by hand for 5 minutes until the dough is soft and smelling yeasty.

3.) Oil a large bowl, place in the dough then cover with a tea towel or cling film. Leave to rise for one hour.

4.) After 30 minutes, start on the shakshouka. Preheat the oven to 250 degrees C. Peel and chop up the onion.

5.) Cook the onion in some oil until soft. In the meantime, peel and chop up the garlic and the pepper and finely chop up the parsley.

6.) Cook the garlic and pepper for a couple of minutes then add the spices and cook for 1 more minute.

7.) Add the passata and turn to a low heat. Make some holes in the passata and crack the eggs in them.

8.) Flour a large baking tray and when the bread dough is ready, divide into four and roll into thin oval shapes.

9.) Place the dough on the baking tray, you may need to do two batches.

10.) Bake in the oven for 5 minutes. They will puff up and brown as below.

11.) Move the pittas to a cooling tray and bake the other 2 if need be. Set to one side to cool down a bit. Continue to cook the shakshouka until the eggs are set – about 8 minutes. Sprinkle over the parsley and serve.

Smoked Salmon Souffles

I’ve just been on holiday in Paris and so whilst I was there I found this recipe called Le Souffle that I wanted to visit. Unfortunately, it was full and we couldn’t go but the idea to eat a souffle stuck in my head so it was the first thing I made after I came back from holiday. When I’ve made souffles in the past I tend to go for the cheese ones but this smoked salmon souffle recipe on the BBC Good Food website was lovely and light. I made these in a haphazard way, using the random collection of ramekins I have in my cupboard and they turned out ok. Serve as a starter or a light dinner with salad.

Makes 6

Ingredients

  • 40g butter (plus extra to butter the ramekins)
  • 25g plain flour
  • 300ml milk
  • 85g cream cheese
  • 2 tsp dill (actually I didn’t have any and they were still good)
  • 3 large eggs
  • 85g smoked salmon (plus extra to serve)
  • 1 lemon

Method

1.) Preheat the oven to 200 degrees C

2.) Butter 6 ramekins

3.) Chop up the dill and measure out the cream cheese. Zest half the lemon.

4.) Separate the eggs, put the egg whites into a large bowl.

5.) Melt the butter in a saucepan and once it’s melted add the flour. Stir into a paste and cook for 1 minute to cook off the flour taste,

6.) Gradually add the milk and whisk after each addition to get rid of all the lumps. Once all the milk is added, cook for another couple of minutes to thicken the sauce.

7.) Take off the heat and add the cream cheese and dill. Beat to incorporate.

8.) Move the mixture to a bowl to cool quicker.

9.) Whisk up the egg whites into stiff peaks.

10.) Chop up the salmon and add to the cream cheese mix. Add the egg yolks and lemon zest and mix everything.

11.) Half-fill a roasting tin with water.

12.) Fold the egg whites into the cream cheese mix.

13.) Spoon the mixture into the ramekins, just below the top. Place the ramekins in the roasting tin.

14.) Bake for 25 minutes or so, until they’ve risen over the top, the egg is set and the top is brown.

15.) Serve with some extra salmon and maybe a dollop of creme fraiche.

Cherry & Rose Cupcakes

Rose might not be a flavour to everyone’s taste but I think the people that like it really love it. I definitely fall into that camp and actually rose was a very traditional flavour in the UK until it was usurped by vanilla. If you love the rose flavour too I highly recommend Zymurgorium Turkish Delight gin liqueur. Despite the name, it’s made in my hometown Manchester as symbolised by the bee on the label – the worker bee is the symbol of Manchester and can be seen all over the city. This recipe I found in Lola’s cookbook was actually for cherry blossom cupcakes but I thought that if rose pairs well with raspberry it can also pair well with cherry and I was happy with the result.

Makes 9 larger cakes or 12 smaller

Ingredients

  • 100g self raising flour
  • 70g plain flour
  • 1/4 tsp baking powder
  • salt
  • 95g butter + 125g butter
  • 150g caster sugar
  • vanilla extract
  • 2 eggs
  • Morello cherry jam
  • 2 tbsp almonds
  • 500g icing sugar
  • rose water

Method

1.) Preheat the oven to 190 degrees C

2.) Melt the 95g butter in a bowl in the microwave for 20 seconds.

3.) Sift the flours, baking powder and salt into a large mixing bowl.

4.) In a stand mixer (or by hand with a wooden spoon), beat the vanilla, butter and sugar until light and fluffy. Add the eggs, one by one and beat afterwards.

5.) Add the flours to the mixture, 1/4 tsp vanilla extract and 1/2 tsp rose water and beat until fully mixed.

6.) Heat up 90g morello cherry jam in the microwave for 20 seconds to make it a bit runnier. Stir the jam through the batter but leave swirls.

7.) Put the cupcake cases in the cupcake tin. Divide the batter between the cupcake cases.

8.) Sprinkle the cakes with the almonds and bake for 20 minutes until a skewer comes out clean.

9.) Whilst the cupcakes are baking, make up the icing.

10.) Melt 125g butter in the microwave for 20 seconds to soften. Add to the bowl of the stand mixer, beat with 1 tsp vanilla extract and 3/4 tsp rose water.

11.) Warm up 75g Morello cherry jam for 20 seconds in the microwave and add to the butter.

12.) Sift in half of the icing sugar and beat until fully combined. Sift in the rest of the icing sugar and beat again until fully combined.

13.) Set up an icing bag with a nozzle and add the icing sugar. Chill in the fridge until the cupcakes have cooled.

14.) Once the cupcakes have cooled, ice the cupcakes by starting on the outside of the cupcake, following the outside then spiralling inward to a point.

Mushroom Peanut Butter Bao

It’s been a while since I made this and I had a bit of a struggle to find the recipe I’d used. I eventually got there – it’s from Meera Sodha’s ‘East’ – lots of great things in this book but because I already have a shelf full of cookbooks I bought this one on Kindle and I generally forget about the books I have on there. The struggle with bao (the only one), it’s not really a meal in itself. So I paired it up with asparagus and mangetout topped with chilli breadcrumbs. What would you serve with a bao? Since stopping eating meat, pork is probably the meat I miss the most, a large part because of the pulled pork baos that you get. This peanut butter mushroom sauce is a pretty good vegetarian alternative though. I do have a rice cooker which I used to steam the buns but it’s pretty small so I could only fit in two at a time which is something you may want to factor in when making them. This is definitely more of a weekend dinner.

Serves 5

Ingredients

  • 375g plain flour
  • 1 tsp dried yeast
  • 2 tbsp caster sugar
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 1 1/4 tsp baking powder
  • 225ml water
  • 6 tbsp soy sauce
  • 4 tbsp peanut butter
  • 8 tsp rice wine vinegar
  • 4 cloves garlic
  • 4 tsp sesame oil
  • 2 tbsp oil
  • 600g mushrooms
  • 50g peanuts
  • 2 cloves garlic
  • 1 chilli
  • 50g breadcrumbs
  • 1 1/2 tbsp lemon juice
  • salt
  • 350g asparagus
  • 250g mangetout

Method

1.) Make the bao dough. Measure out the water, it should be tepid. Add the yeast and set aside for 10 minutes.

2.) To a large bowl, add the salt, the baking powder, then the flour, and the sugar. Once the yeast is done, add the water to the flour and mix into a dough.

3.) Knead for 5 minutes until the dough is soft. Oil a bowl and put the dough in. Cover and leave to rise for 1.5 hours.

4.) Take out the dough, punch it to knock it back. Divide into 10 pieces. Roll the piece into a ball then flatten into a disc. Brush with oil and fold in half.

5.) Cover with a tea towel and leave to rise for 30 more minutes.

6.) For the filling, Wash and slice up the mushrooms. Peel and dice the garlic.

7.) Fry the mushrooms in a pan and whilst these are cooking, mix the soy sauce, peanut butter, rice vinegar, garlic and sesame oil in a bowl.

8.) After 6 minutes, add the mixture to the mushrooms and cook until the sauce has thickened.

9.) Start steaming the bao, they need to steam for 8 minutes. I did 10 as it was the lowest time setting on my rice cooker.

10.) Whilst these are going, make up the vegetable side dish.

11.) Peel and dice the garlic and chilli. Bash up the peanuts. Heat up some oil in a frying pan and add the peanuts and chilli. Toast for a minute then add the breadcrumbs. Once they’re brown, Stir in the lemon juice and set aside.

12.) Boil a pan of water and cook the veg for 5 minutes. Plate up the veg, top with the breadcrumb mix. Fill the baos with the mushrooms.

Sausage Rolls

These little babies are the last part of my Apprentice ‘party’ as you can’t have a party in Britain without these things. I used Richmond’s vegetarian sausages which are the closest I’ve found to the real deal. Rough puff pastry as used in this recipe gives you a lovely flaky pastry, you can see the layers on the photo above, but is pretty fool proof compared to normal puff pastry. I got the pastry recipe from Paul Hollywood’s ‘How to Bake’ then just wrapped it round the sausages. Serve with some ketchup or even better – Piccalilli which is a British spin on Indian chutneys.

Makes about 32 rolls

Ingredients

  • 8 vegetarian sausages
  • 225g plain flour (and more for dusting)
  • 200g butter
  • 150ml cold water
  • 1 egg

Method

1.) Chop up the butter into small cubes and add to a big bowl with the flour.

2.) Rub the butter into the flour. You want a few chunks of butter. (You could do this bit in a food processor but don’t tell Paul Hollywood!)

3.) Add the water and form a ball with your hands.

4.) Dust a surface with flour and roll out the dough to a large rectangle, about 1cm thick. (I can never get this into a perfect rectangle but to be honest – it doesn’t really matter).

5.) Fold over the two sides into three, like folding up a letter.

6.) Wrap in clingfilm and put in the fridge for 20 minutes.

7.) Roll out the pastry again into a rectangle and again fold into thirds, cover with cling film and refrigerate for 20 minutes.

8.) Repeat this twice.

9.) Preheat the oven to 200 degrees C. Roll out the pastry again. Line a large baking tray with parchment paper.

10.) Place sausages along the width of the pastry and roll up until the pastry meets. Cut across with a knife. Repeat until all the pastry is used up.

11.) Cut the spaces between the sausages then cut each sausage into 4 pieces.

12.) Line them all up on the baking tray with a little space in between.

13.) Separate the egg and whisk up the egg yolk with a fork.

14.) Wash the knife and put slices across the rolls with a sharp knife. Not enough to go through the pastry.

15.) Brush the rolls with some egg.

16.) Bake the rolls for 30 minutes until golden brown.

Salmon & Leek Quiche

This is another dish I made for my Apprentice viewing ‘party’. There’s a lot of great TV on at the moment and I’ve even got into The Masked Singer. I was absolutely shocked to discover that any of the guys from the band Westlife actually had any talent to the point where I thought they were actually Adam Lambert! Westlife were the scourge of my teenage years being at a girls school. I just used a food processor to do the pastry as I did the pastry on a lunch break and added the filling in later on.

Ingredients

  • 150g butter (block of butter – very cold)
  • 200g plain flour
  • 7 eggs
  • 2 tbsp ice cold water
  • 2 fillets of salmon
  • 1 leek
  • 10g chives
  • 300g crème fraiche
  • seasoning

Method

1.) Make the pastry by chopping up the butter into small chunks.

2.) Add the butter to the food processor and then the flour. Blitz until breadcrumbs are formed.

3.) Separate the egg and tip in the egg yolk and the water.

4.) Blitz a little more until the pastry has become a ball in the food processor.

5.) Dust a surface with flour and a rolling pin.

6.) Roll out the pastry to about 0.7mm thickness. Roll the pastry up on the rolling pin and transfer over to a 25cm tart tin.

7.) Use a bit of the extra pastry that’s overhanging and roll into a ball. Push the pastry down into the tart tin so it fills all the corners. The pastry will shrink down when baked so this is important.

8.) Roll the rolling pin across the top to cut off the excess pastry.

9.) Cover in cling film and refrigerate.

10.) For the filling, wash and slice up the leeks and cook in a frying pan with a tablespoon of butter until completely soft.

11.) While this is cooking, dice the chives and add to a measuring jug. Pull the skin off the salmon and chop into chunks.

12.) Add the salmon to the pan with the leek and cook, turning around until all sides are pink.

13.) Turn off the heat and leave to cool to room temperature.

14.) Preheat the oven to 200 degrees C.

15.) Put some parchment paper over the quiche and weigh down with baking beads (you can use rice if you don’t do so much baking)

16.) Bake for 10 minutes then remove the parchment paper and baking beads and bake for another 10 minutes. Turn the oven temperature down to 180 degrees C.

17.) In the measuring jug, add the crème fraiche, 4 of the eggs, separate the other two eggs and add the yolks to the measuring jug. Season and give it a good whisk.

18.) Spoon the salmon and leeks over the quiche base.

19.) Pour over the egg mix but not over the top of the pastry.

20.) Bake for about 30 minutes until the quiche is golden brown and set in the middle.