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This recipe is cheeky because it involves minimal scone faffing ie rolling and cutting. And it’s cheekily zingy with strong cheese and a dose of spice. It’s also cheeky because it’s not that square, but I liked the alliteration for the title.

Ingredients

  • 1lb/450g self-raising flour
  • 2tspns baking powder
  • 1tspn salt
  • 1tspn smoked paprika (or paprika, or 1/2tspn chilli powder)
  • 4oz/100g butter
  • 7oz/200g grated cheddar (preferably mature) or other strong hard cheese
  • 2 eggs
  • Milk

Place flour, baking powder, salt and paprika in a mixing bowl. Add chopped butter and rub in until butter chunks are the size of smallish gravel. Stir in grated cheddar. Break eggs into a measuring jug and whisk, then add milk to make up 10floz/300ml of liquid. Add to the flour and stir in to make a soft dough.

Place dough in lined or greased small roasting tin (around 12″x9″/30cmx23cm). I just press it in lightly and it doesn’t always become a perfect rectangle and is often square-ish (hence the recipe title). Cook in a preheated oven at 230ºC (Gas 8, Fan 220ºC) for 15-20mins until the scone is golden, well risen and no longer doughy. It sometimes looks a little crisp on top but that’s fine. Turn out to cool on a wire rack then cut off squares or rectangles to eat as you like.

Didn't manage to get a pic of this before most was consumed!

This scone is fabulous on its own as a snack, but is also delicious served with soup or cold meats. It keeps 4-5 days in an air tight tin and is also very good toasted (which is how we ate up the remainder yesterday). It’s extremely fast to make so is a very useful recipe to have up your sleeve if you have only half an hour’s notice before lunch guests show up.

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This is a brilliantly quick and easy cookie recipe given to me by Mrs Rev Ted, whose husband was the Vicar’s boss when he did his curacy. So she was my training incumbent, and this recipe was an essential part of my vicar’s wife training. It’s speedy, just like Failsafe Flapjack and is also flexible so you can fill them with whatever you have to hand – chocolate chips, raisins, cranberries etc.

Ingredients

  • 3oz butter or margarine (soft is fine)
  • 3oz soft brown sugar (or caster sugar if you don’t have brown)
  • 3oz demerera sugar (or granulated)
  • 1/2 tspn vanilla extract
  • 1 egg
  • 6oz self raising flour (or 5oz self raising flour, 1oz cocoa, 1/4 tspn baking powder)
  • 4oz chocolate chips, raisins, cranberries, or whatever you fancy

Cream the butter and sugars, then beat in the vanilla extract and egg. Finally add the flour (or flour, cocoa powder and baking powder for chocolate cookies) and your chocolate chips or raisins.

To bake them I line 3 baking trays with reusable silicone liners (you can use baking paper or grease your trays well) and use two teaspoons to make walnut-sized blobs of mixture. I can make about 40 standard biscuit-sized cookies from a single batch of this mixture. Bake them for 12-15 minutes at 180ºC (Gas 4, Fan 170ºC), until they have turned golden (you can only see this when they don’t have cocoa in them!) and have risen. They will flatten out again and harden a little whilst cooling – wait a few moments before transferring to cooling racks with a palette knife. If you slightly undercook them you can get a chewy cookie texture, or leave a little longer for a crunchier bite.

Options I have tried successfully for these cookies include double choc chip (cocoa in the mix with white choc chips) and cranberry and choc chip with a plain mix.

Double Choc Chip Can Do Cookies

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Someone asked me recently for a low-fat traybake. Most of my cooking isn’t terribly healthy – I prefer to have a small slice of something delicious rather than a large wedge of something worthy. However, sometimes deliciousness and worthiness can combine, as is the case with these fantastic Date and Coconut Chews.

I was given this recipe by my friend Summer after we spent a very happy day off on a walk with her and her Vicar husband. We took a picnic lunch with us. I brought soup and Summer brought various treats including these. I’m not normally a fan of dates, but these slices are wonderful – chewy and sweet but full of fruit and coconut, which I think cancels out the butter and golden syrup.

Ingredients

  • 6oz/170g plain flour
  • 3 oz/85g dessicated coconut
  • 6oz/170g stoned dates, chopped
  • 6oz/170g caster sugar
  • 3oz/85g butter (you could use hard marg, but butter is tastier, isn’t it?)
  • 2 teaspoonfuls (1 dessertspoonful) golden syrup
  • 1 egg, beaten

Melt the butter, sugar and golden syrup (I always do this in the microwave, but you can do it on the stove aswell). Stir the dry ingredients together then add the hot butter mixture and the egg. Mix everything well and then spread out in a lined 9″x11″ (23cmx28cm) tin. Bake for 15-20 minutes at 180ºC (Gas 4, Fan 170ºC).

When cooled a little, cut into 24 slices. I did a little maths and reckon that each slice has about 3.5g of fat. This isn’t quite low enough to classify as ‘Low Fat’ in the US , but I think it’ll do.

[Late Edit: A Twitter pal tells me he’s tried this recipe using prunes instead of dates and rice flour in the place of plain and that it worked really well. Good for those on a gluten-free diet then.]

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Last night we ate one of our favourite Malaysian dishes for tea at the Vicarage. I love to cook this reminder of our 51/2 years in South-East Asia. And to provide ginger warmth in a chilly kitchen. It’s easy, delicious and only uses a single dish (tho’ you might want to use a wok for some greens on the side aswell). It’s expandable for lots of people and is not too foreign for most visitors. Anyone who occasionally eats takeaway Chinese will love this.

Claypot chicken rice and bok choi

Ingredients

  • Chicken pieces (preferably skinned dark meat on the bone, chopped into bite size pieces by your local Indian butcher – but otherwise skinned thigh pieces are probably easiest or thigh fillets if you have bone-haters dining) – 1 to 2 thigh or drumstick pieces per person
  • Rice (we love Thai fragrant jasmine, but any will do) – about 120ml per adult and 60ml per child (dry measure)
  • Big chunk of fresh ginger (2-3″ here)
  • Soy sauces, light and dark (1-2 tbspns of each)
  • Oyster sauce (1-2 tbspns)
  • Sugar (1 tbspn)
  • Oil – sesame (1 tbpn if you have it) and vegetable (2 tbspns)
  • Extra treat for authenticity – pickled green chillis (chopped) on the side, marinaded in soy sauce

Ready to serve

You need about an hour from preparation to serving for this dish. But there’s time to supervise piano practice and maybe do some laundry in that hour. Or even drink a cup of tea. Or blog a recipe. You don’t need a clay pot to cook it either – I use a casserole dish. Mine has a glass lid which makes it easier to tell if stuff is cooked, but a cast iron casserole or a good sized saucepan would be fine. It’s rather easier with a non-stick pan because of the crunchy ricey bits (see below).

First pop the rice on. I have a rice cooker which has a cup sized at 160ml. For three adults and three fairly hungry children I used 4 cups. I cheated and used the rice cooker to measure the water to the right level, but the Malaysian way, which works just fine, is to put water in so that your forefinger, laid flat on the top of the (pre-rinsed) rice, is covered by the water. Put the cover on the pan and cook the rice until all the water is absorbed. This should take about 15 minutes.

Whilst the rice is cooking prepare the chicken and let it marinate in its sauce. You can quickly drizzle on the soy sauces, the oyster sauce, the sesame oil and add the sugar before mixing the pieces about to ensure that the marinade is coated over the chicken. Then you want to get the ginger’s juice without the pulp. The best way to do this is to first peel your piece of ginger and then grate or blend it. Pop the chewed up ginger pieces in a sieve and press down with a spoon to get the ginger juice out over your chicken portions. I used my chopper attachment from my stick blender to whizz the ginger first and a small plastic sieve.

Once all the water is absorbed into the rice, pop the chicken pieces and the marinade on top, together with the vegetable oil. Cover the pot again and leave it to cook on a low heat for 20 minutes. Don’t open the lid, as this will prevent the chicken from cooking thoroughly, as it steams on top of the rice.

After 20 minutes, open the lid and get a spoon and mix the chicken into the rice. You should find that some of the rice at the bottom of the pan has gone all crispy. Mmmm. Replace the lid and cook for a further 15 minutes on a low heat. Whilst this is going on, you might want to cook some veg.  It was Bok choi (with garlic, soy sauce and a little sugar) for us last night.

At the end of the 15 minutes, mix the rice and chicken up again to extract some more lovely crunchy ricey bits and serve with the veg and a side of chopped pickled green chillis in soy sauce for added zing. Warming, filling and family friendly.

Pickled chillis - ingredients and finished condiment

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