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.

Date & Goat Cheese quiche

In the UK we do love a quiche, it’s great picnic food along with a scotch egg, pork pie and some Pimms. I make these on a regular basis so expect to see some more on the blog in future. On the Great British Bake Off, there seems to be a snobbery towards having super fine pastry but personally I like a nice thick pastry as long as it’s cooked properly and no ‘soggy bottom’ as they say in the show. When I complained to a colleague about no longer being able to eat pork pie as I don’t eat meat but I love the pastry he said ‘You are so Northern’ so maybe it’s a Northern thing. I went a bit overboard on making the pastry as my tin is quite deep (5cm) and I had some leftovers. I would go for 250g flour to 125g butter if I was doing it again which I will put below. Typically with pastry you want to go with half fat to flour. Goat and date cheese is my own combination. That’s the beauty of quiches – you can pretty much put whatever you want in them.

Serves 8 – 12

Ingredients

  • 125g unsalted butter
  • 250g plain flour
  • 2 egg yolks
  • cold water – about 30ml
  • pinch salt
  • 150g goat cheese
  • 130g stoned dates
  • 4 eggs plus 2 egg yolks
  • 300g crème fraiche

Method

1.) Chop up the butter into cubes and add to a mixing bowl. Measure in the flour and add a pinch of salt.

2.) Rub the butter into the flour with your fingers until it turns into breadcrumbs.

3.) Crack the two egg yolks into a bowl and beat with a fork then add the egg to the pastry,

4.) Mix a little with a wooden spoon then gradually add the water. Mix with a spoon until it looks like it will hold together then bring it together into a ball with your hands. Only add the water you need to bring it together. Squash the ball of pastry into a disc, wrap with clingfilm and put in the fridge. Refrigerate for at least 1 hour.

5.) Preheat the oven to 180 degrees C.

6.) Lightly dust a surface and a rolling pin with flour. Roll out the pastry and line a 20cm tart tin. Use a bit of pastry to push the pastry into all the corners. This will help it to not shrink down the side as it bakes. Put parchment paper over the pastry and drop in some baking beads.

7.) Bake for 15 minutes. Take out the oven and remove the baking beads and paper. Bake for another 10 minutes.

8.) While the pastry is baking, make up the filling, beat the eggs and add the crème fraiche. Slice up the goat cheese and chop up the dates. Dot the sliced goat cheese around the pastry and sprinkle over the dates. The pastry does tend to puff up a bit in the middle and I got a bit impatient and pushed it down to put the filling in. Pour in the egg/crème fraiche combination.

9.) Bake for about 40 minutes until the middle is set and golden brown. You should be able to test it with a fork and it will come out clean.

Pretzels

I wanted a few bites from a few different countries for my Eurovision party (lets not talk about the UK’s result) and decided to make some tasty German pretzels with a beer cheese dip. I found the pretzel recipe on the blog ‘Sally’s Baking Addiction’ but I halved it as the pretzels were part of a melee of things. Pretzels are a nice bread choice to make as you only need to let the dough rest for 10 minutes before you can crack on with making them. I didn’t sprinkle them with salt – I’ve never been too keen on the crunching into large salt rocks but feel free to do so before you bake.

Makes 10

Ingredients

  • 180ml tepid water
  • 5g yeast
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 1/2 tbsp sugar
  • 1/2 tbsp soft butter
  • 250g plain flour
  • 120g baking soda
  • 2,000ml water (or how much fits into your pan)

Method

1.) Preheat the oven to 200 degrees C

2.) Measure out the flour into a large bowl and add the salt and sugar. Mix around with a fork as you don’t want the yeast to hit the salt.

3.) Sprinkle the yeast into the tepid water and let it brew for 10 minutes.

4.) Pour the yeasty water into the flour and mix with your hand to form a ball. Tip out onto the counter top and knead for about 7 minutes until the dough is smooth.

5.) Let it sit for 10 minutes

6.) Boil the 2000ml of water and once boiling, add the baking soda. Line a baking tray.

7.) Cut the dough into 10 equal pieces

8.) Roll each piece into a rope (probably a bit longer and thinner than mine if you want really neat pretzels).

9.) Shape the dough into pretzels.

10.) Add the pretzels to the baking soda bath – I did two at a time but you can judge based on the size of your pan. Leave for 15 seconds, flip over and leave for 15 more. Then remove to a baking tray with a slotted spoon. (This step gives the distinctive pretzel taste).

11.) Once all the pretzels have been dunked in the baking soda mix (they look a bit puffy after this) and are all on the baking tray, bake for 12 – 15 minutes until golden brown.

Haggis Part 2 – Haggis Pasties

To make the most of the veggie haggis you can buy around Burns’ Night, I bought another pack but did something a little different with it. In Britain, we like our pies and they’re usually savoury. A pasty is generally in the form of a folded circle containing the filling and the most famous pasty is the Cornish pasty. The Cornish pasty has a protected status in Europe so Cornish pasties must contain beef, swede, potato and onion. My version isn’t too different ingredients-wise though I didn’t manage to get the traditional 20 crimps to hold the pastry together.

For my pastry I used whole-wheat flour and learnt why you don’t often see people using it on the Bake-off. I did manage to cobble it together but I gave up on the presentation. The end result was light and flaky though and well-suited the spiced haggis is contained. I’ve seen recipes which put the swede and potato in raw but when I’ve tried that the filling hasn’t been quite as soft as I’d like and I find simmering in a bit of stock adds some flavour. The pasties freeze really well – stick them in the freezer at the point before the egg-wash.

Serves 8 (with a bit of filling left over)

Ingredients

For the filling:

1 pack Simon Howe vegetarian haggis

2/3 swede

1 large potato

2 leeks

300ml beef flavour stock

spray oil

For the pastry:

250g unsalted block of butter

250g strong flour

6 tbsp very cold water

1 egg

Method

1.) Boil a kettle full of water. Take the haggis out of the packet, wrap it in foil. Put in the pan, completely cover with the water and simmer for 40 minutes.

2.) Clean and chop the leeks. Fry in a frying pan.

4.) Peel and chop up the potato and swede. Add to the leeks when they’re soft. Cook down for 5 minutes.

5.) Make up the stock and add to the potato and swede and cook on a medium-low heat until the stock has cooked off.

6.) Remove the haggis from the water and unwrap. Cut off the plastic casing and add the haggis to the potato and mix.

7.) Whilst the haggis and potatoes are cooking, start to make the pastry.

8.) Add the flour to a food processor with 1/2 tsp salt. Cut the butter into small cubes and add to the flour.

9.) Blitz until it becomes breadcrumbs. I just pulse it pressing on and off the button to not overheat the mixture.

10.) Pour into a large bowl and add the water. Use your hands to shape into a ball but work the dough as little as as possible.

11.) Stick in the fridge for 30 minutes.

12.) After thirty minutes, lightly dust your surface and rolling pin with flour. Roll out the ball into a large rectangle. Mine was a bit dry due to the flour and crumbled a bit at the edges but I pushed them together.

13.) Fold 1/3 over and then the other third, like a letter.

14.) Turn the dough around and roll out back into a rectangle.

15.) Fold and roll out twice more then fold again, wrap up and put in the fridge for another half hour. (I put it on the fridge on a baking tray to make it easier). After about 15 minutes, preheat the oven to 180 degrees C.

16.) Once more, roll out the pastry and divide into 8 pieces.

17.) Spoon over about 4 tbsp filling (it should be room-temperature by now otherwise it will ruin the pastry)

18.) Fold the two sides over the filling and crimp them together.

19.) Separate the egg yolk into a bowl and mix with a tbsp milk. (I didn’t add the milk and the egg yolk is showing up on the whole-wheat pastry)

20.) Line a baking tray with baking paper

21.) Put the pasties on the tray and brush with the egg wash.

22.) Bake for 40 minutes.