Monday, 28 September 2009

Jamaican Veggie Patties

I had a few odds and ends of vegetables in the fridge, a carrot here, the end of a cabbage there and a handful of new potatoes. I've been making a lot of soup recently so I decided to give this recipe from 101cookbooks a go. Sweet little vegetable patties with a little spice and coconut milk. You'll have to excuse the pastry as I didn't go all out and make the traditional patty pastry flavoured with turmeric giving it an orange hue. But even without this, these are dangerously moreish. what started the afternoon as a pile of patties, quickly disappeared as everytime I ventured near the kitchen, I took another bite. Hot pepper sauce is obligatory here. Don't worry, the pastry dilutes the fire and you're left with a tang that is perfect with the spiced filling. It also goes without saying that you can use whatever combination of vegetables you have on hand.



Saturday, 26 September 2009

Carrot and Pecan Cake

This cake was inspired by the delicious Gails in Hampstead. We went there for a post lunch cake and coffee (and promptly spent £10!). I decided on the carrot cake, a big blousy affair covered in cream cheese icing, moist and absolutely delicious.

It inspired me to make my own, especially as there are usually a few carrots lingering at the bottom of the fridge. This cake is a mish mash of flavours, yoghurt and oil for moistness, chopped dates reduce the amount of sugar needed and add a touch of caramel, a hint of orange and plenty of chopped pecans.

Is it as good as Gails? I think so and I don't have to pay 4 quid for a slice...


75g yoghurt
125ml sunflower oil
zest 1 orange and juice of 1/2
150g sugar
100g dates, finely chopped into a paste
3 eggs
175g plain flour
2 1/2tsp baking powder
2tsp cinnamon
3 carrots, peeled and finely grated
100g pecans, chopped

Whisk the sugar, oil, zest and yoghurt in a large mixing bowl.
Add the eggs one at a time and whisk in thoroughly followed by the orange juice and dates.
Sift in the flour, baking powder and cinnamon and mix well.
Stir in the carrots and pecans.
Transfer to 2 lined sandwich tins and bake at 180C for 30mins until golden and a cake tester comes out clean.

For the icing, beat a 200g tub of cream cheese cheese with 200g icing sugar and a squeeze of orange.

Monday, 21 September 2009

Potato Bread

I've written about potato bread before (here), but that was almost a year ago and I was inspired to mention it again after baking some this weekend. Since last year, we have (on and off) had a pretty much continuous supply of potato bread, sometimes we use a little rye or spelt flour to give it more character, sometimes we bake it in different shapes. What stays the same is the sourdough like tang and the unbelievable toast it makes. Shop brought bread just doesn't cut it in comparison.

The idea of making bread yourself can often seem a daunting task. Whilst it does invariably take time, it's certainly not difficult and it is so satisfying to remove a delicious looking loaf of bread from the oven and the smell is incredible. I usually boil a couple of extra potatoes when I'm making mash or roast potatoes. If I have lots, then I cook enough to make 2 loaves as it freezes excellently.

Then all you do is reserve some of the starchy water the potatoes are cooked in and mash some potatoes into a large bowl containing, flour, salt, yoghurt and yeast; roll your sleeves up and get kneading. Let it rise in a warm place for an hour or two, punch out all the air and let it rise again before baking in a hot oven until golden and the bottom sounds hollow when tapped.

As long as your water isn't too hot (this will kill the yeast and stop it working), and you give it a good knead, there's not much that go wrong.

Also, check out these tips from baking god Dan Lepard.


Saturday, 19 September 2009

Sweetcorn Fritters

Can you spot the pattern here? At certain times of the year, we seem to be inundated with the vegetable du jour, so after I've made my usual recipe, I'm forced to consult my cookery shelf for inspiration. Don't get me wrong, this is why I love my veg box, it forces me to constantly try new recipes.

At the moment, it's sweetcorn and tomatoes and rocket from our garden (well, plant pots). Last weeks salsa was definitely a success, but I wanted something new. I found this recipe in Bill's Sydney Food by Bill Granger. While he is almost unbearably smug on TV, I love the sunny, bright styling of his book and the simplicity of his recipes.

These are fairly simple to make and are bound to impress, sweet and crisy sweetcorn in a batter full of coriander and chilli. I had them for a simple lunch with avocado, rocket and tomatoes and a the obligatory dollop of yoghurt. But, I have a sneaky feeling that they'd work perfectly with a fried egg and beans for brunch. Bill suggests serving them with roasted tomatoes and bacon. If you're making these for a lots of people, you can cook them in advance and just warm through in the oven.


Serves 4

2 corn cobs, kernals removed
1 red chilli, finely chopped
1 small bunch coriander, chopped
1 small bunch spring onions, sliced
250g plain flour
1 tsp baking powder
1/2tsp paprika
1tbsp sugar
2 eggs
250ml milk

  • Sift the flour and baking powder into a bowl and mix with the paprika. Whisk in the egg and milk with plenty of salt and pepper until you have a smooth batter.
  • Mix the sweetcorn, chilli, coriander and spring onions in a bowl and stir in the batter until combined.
  • Heat a large frying with a large glug of oil. Once hot, place a tablespoon of mixture into the pan and press on it lightly to spread it out into a fritter.
  • Cook for a few mins on both sides until golden and remove to a plate lined with kitchen paper while you cook the rest of the fritters.


Wednesday, 16 September 2009

Toasted Sweetcorn Salsa

This salsa makes the best of late summer ingredients. Fresh sweetcorn, crispy and sweet, flavoursome tomatoes and fruity chillis from our (very small) kitchen garden finished off with some lime and coriander. Try it spooned over nachos complete with plenty of guacamole and soured cream.

We used it in a mexican inspired (I make no claims of authenticity) brunch. Spoon some salsa onto a warm tortilla, top with some sliced avocado, a dollop of yoghurt and plenty of grated cheese and finish off with a fried egg. Wrap it up and prepare to make a mess as you eat it. I like this kind of brunch as I get the satisfaction of a fried egg (I'm all about eggs at the weekend) while shoe-horning in some vegetables at the same time, especially useful if I overindulged the night before. Eating something a little lighter than a full english also helps me fight the urge to go back to bed and no emerge again for the rest of the day...


1 red onion ( or a small bunch spring onions)
1 red chilli
2 cloves garlic
100g tomatoes
all finely chopped
1 sweetcorn cob
handful roughly chopped coriander
juice 1/2 lime

  • Peel the skin from the sweetcorn cob and run a knife down the edge to remove the kernels.
  • Heat a large frying pan, add a slug of oil and soften the onion, garlic and chilli for a few minutes.
  • Add the sweetcorn and continue to fry for a few more minutes until the sweetcorn is cooked, but still with a little bite.
  • Add the lime juice, tomatoes and coriander and season well.


Saturday, 12 September 2009

Carrot and Lentil Soup

As I've mentioned before, I'm loving soup at the moment. With the weather on the turn, its the perfect comforting bowl and as I'm discovering, so easy. It's just a case of chopping and then sweating down some onion with whatever vegetables you have to hand; try adding lentils or beans to make it into a meal. This Cabbage and Bacon soup is a favourite from last year, or how about a zesty Courgette, Chickpea and spinach soup that makes the most of the last of the courgette glut.

This carrot soup is lovely and simple. Sweet carrots and lentils are simmered into a thick and warming soup and a hint of chilli and cumin add background warmth. Great for using up any limp carrots lurking in the bottom of the fridge (I always seem to have a few) and equally good (perhaps better) with brand new sweet and crisp carrots.

As usual, I would reccommend making lots for dinner, lunchboxes, afternoon snacks and finally the freezer - if you're going to make soup, you may as well make a big pot.

I blended this until chunkily smooth, but my mum (from whom I got recipe inspiration) simply simmers the soup for an age until the vegetables and lentils literally disintegrate. Try serving with a drizzle of olive oil, a dollop of yoghurt or a handful of shredded spinach for greenery.


serves 4

1 onion
2 cloves garlic
1 red chilli
4 medium carrots
-all roughly chopped
1tbsp cumin seeds
100g red lentils
1l vegetable stock

  • Heat a large saucepan pan and add a knob of butter with a little oil to stop it burning.
  • Add the onions, garlic, chilli and carrots and cook for 5 or so mins until softeneded.
  • Add the cumin seeds and cook for a few mins more.
  • Add the lentils and stir until coated in fragrant oil.
  • Pour in the stock, bring to the boil and simmer for 30mins.
  • If you want to, blend the soup until smooth.