Apple and mincemeat crumble

Apple and mincemeat crumble

Apple and mincemeat crumble

Mincemeat is definitely an underrated ingredient. If you’re bored with traditional mince pies, try this crumble, which offers a new take on an old festive favourite. Delicious served with a generous spoon of custard or ice cream.

Preparation time: 10 mins

Cooking time: 30 mins

Serves: 4

Ingredients:

  • 400g apples
  • 450g mincemeat
  • Juice of an orange
  • 100g plain flour
  • 75g butter
  • 50g demerara sugar
  • 1tsp cinnamon

Method:

  1. Pre-heat the oven to 200˚C.
  2. Slice the apples thinly and lay them in an overproof dish.
  3. Stir in the mincemeat and orange juice.
  4. In a separate bowl, rub in the flour, butter, sugar and cinnamon to make the crumble.
  5. Sprinkle the crumble mixture over the apples and mincemeat.
  6. Bake for about 30 minutes or until crisp on top.

Merry Christmas!

Photo: raspberri cupcakes

Perfect porridge

Porridge

Porridge

On those cold, clear autumn mornings, you can’t beat a bowl of porridge. It’s so warming and comforting, yet so simple to make. Here’s a tried and tested recipe with a few suggestions for toppings.

Preparation time: 2 mins

Cooking time: 5 mins

Serves: 2

Ingredients:

  • 1 cup of rolled oats
  • 2 cups of milk (use part water for a less creamy texture)

Method:

  1. Put the oats into a large saucepan.
  2. Pour the milk (and water) over the oats and stir well.
  3. Bring to the boil, stirring to make sure the oats don’t stick to the bottom of the pan.
  4. Simmer for five minutes until thickened.
  5. Pour into bowls to serve and add the topping of your choice.

Why not try some of the following toppings: brown sugar, banana and cinnamon, honey and yoghurt, maple syrup, a handful of dried fruit (sultanas, apricots, cranberries), or fresh fruit (blueberries, raspberries, strawberries). Get creative!

If you have any other favourites, please feel free to share them below.

Photo: Elana’s Pantry

Mango lassi

Mango lassi

Mango lassi

I’ve tried mango lassi at several Indian restaurants, but never realised how incredibly easy it is to make. Traditionally found in India and Pakistan, but gaining in popularity worldwide, this sweet yoghurt-based drink is perfect for summer.

Preparation time: 5 mins

Serves: 2

Ingredients:

  • 100ml single cream
  • 200ml milk
  • 400ml natural yoghurt
  • 400ml mango pulp
  • 4 tsps caster sugar

Method:

Blend the ingredients together and serve with ice. It’s that easy! Here’s an alternative vegan version, which is made with coconut milk and vanilla.

Photo: Jeannie

Mexican bean burgers

Mexican bean burgers

Mexican bean burgers

This summer may be proving a bit of a washout, but you can still manage the odd barbecue between the inevitable cloud bursts! After last week’s post about vegetarian barbecues, I thought I’d share this recipe for tasty Mexican bean burgers.

Preparation time: 10 mins

Cooking time:10 mins

Serves: 3

Ingredients:

  • 2 cans kidney beans, rinsed and drained
  • 100g breadcrumbs
  • 2 tsp chilli powder
  • small bunch coriander, stalks and leaves chopped
  • 1 egg
  • 2 tbsp fresh salsa
  • salt and pepper

Method:

  1. Tip the beans into a large bowl, then crush roughly with a fork.
  2. Add the breadcrumbs, chilli powder, coriander, egg and salsa.
  3. Season to taste, then mix together with a fork.
  4. Divide the mixture into six and shape into burgers.
  5. Now they’re ready to stick on the barbecue. They should take about 5 minutes on each side until golden and crisp.

I like to serve these in fresh granary rolls with corn on the cob and a couple of vegetable kebabs. Just spear slices of courgette, pepper, mushroom and halloumi, sprinkle with paprika, drizzle with olive oil and grill on the barbecue for five minutes. Yum!

Photo: Cowomally

Red lentil and aubergine mousakka

Vegetarian mousakka

Vegetarian mousakka

After a delicious meal at Ezo’s Turkish Restaurant last weekend, I decided to have a go at making mousakka myself. This new take on the classic recipe uses red lentils and aubergines. In total, it takes about an hour, but it’s well worth it!

Preparation time: 30 mins

Cooking time: 30 mins

Serves: 4

Ingredients:

For the filling:

  • 1 aubergine, sliced into thin circles
  • 1 red onion, finely chopped
  • 1 red pepper, finely chopped
  • 1 garlic clove, crushed
  • 1 tsp tomato purée
  • 1 tin chopped tomatoes
  • 1 cinnamon stick
  • 100g red lentils, cooked according to packet instructions
  • 2 tbsp chopped fresh parsley
  •  Salt and freshly ground black pepper

For the topping:

  • 125g ricotta
  • 125g Greek yoghurt
  • 3 eggs
  • freshly grated nutmeg
  • 50g freshly grated parmesan

Method:

  1. Preheat the oven to 180C.
  2. Toss the aubergine slices in olive oil, then drain and season to taste.
  3. Fry the aubergine slices until golden-brown on both sides.
  4. Add the onion, pepper and garlic to the pan and fry until softened.
  5. Stir in the tomato purée and continue to fry for a further 5 minutes.
  6. Add the chopped tomatoes and cinnamon stick and simmer for 5 minutes.
  7. Add the lentils and fried aubergines to the mixture. Simmer until warmed through.
  8. Transfer the mixture to an ovenproof dish and sprinkle with chopped parsley.
  9. For the topping, beat together the ricotta, Greek yoghurt, eggs and grated nutmeg in a bowl. Season, to taste.
  10. Pour the topping mixture into the ovenproof dish on top of the filling. Sprinkle over the grated parmesan.
  11. Bake for 25-30 minutes, or until the topping is golden-brown. Serve immediately.

Yummy!

Photo: Candice Eisner

Polenta with grilled vegetables

Polenta and grilled vegetables

Polenta and grilled vegetables

This is a brilliantly simple summery dish. Just slice the polenta and vegetables, stick everything under the grill and voila – easy! You can even adapt this recipe to use on the barbecue for those sunny summer evenings.

Preparation time: 10 mins

Cooking time: 10 mins

Serves: 4

Ingredients:

  • 1 packet of polenta
  • 1 courgette
  • 1 red pepper
  • 1 pack of cherry tomatoes
  • A handful of mushrooms
  • A handful of black olives
  • 1 packet of halloumi
  • 1 tin of chopped tomatoes
  • 3 tsps of pesto
  • Fresh basil leaves

Method:

  1. Cut the polenta into slices, so that each slice is about 1cm thick.
  2. Lay the polenta slices on a baking tray, then brush with olive oil and sprinkle with salt and black pepper.
  3. Put the polenta under the grill on a low heat and grill until it starts to turn golden. Turn the slices over when they start to brown.
  4. While watching the polenta, cut the vegetables and halloumi into bite-sized pieces.
  5. Toss the vegetables and halloumi in olive oil and season well.
  6. Remove the polenta from the grill and keep warm in the oven.
  7. Spread the vegetables and halloumi on a baking tray and grill until the vegetables have softened.
  8. Mix the tomatoes and pesto in a saucepan over a gentle heat and season well.
  9. Lay the warm polenta slices on to plates and arrange the vegetables and halloumi over the top.
  10. Finish by spooning over the tomato and pesto sauce and garnish with the basil leaves.

Lovely with a chilled glass of rosé…

Photo: Harald Walker

Banana and pineapple cake

Banana and pineapple cake

Banana and pineapple cake

This has to be my favourite cake of all time! It’s wonderfully simple and fruity, with a soft, moist texture and hints of cinnamon. Ideal if you have a bunch of bananas which are starting to go soft.

Ingredients:

  • 3 cups plain flour
  • 1 tsp baking soda
  • 1 tsp cinnamon
  • 2 cups sugar
  • 1 tsp salt
  • 1 1/2 cups vegetable oil
  • 1 can crushed pineapple
  • 1 1/2 tsps vanilla
  • 3 eggs
  • 2 medium bananas, chopped

Method:

  1. Preheat the oven to 180C.
  2. Sift together the flour, baking soda, cinnamon, sugar, and salt into a large mixing bowl.
  3. Stir in the oil, pineapple, vanilla, eggs, and banana.
  4. Mix by hand until well blended.
  5. Pour into a greased and floured tin.
  6. Bake for 1hr 30. Set aside to cool.
  7. When cooled, dust with a light layer of icing sugar.

Treat yourself…!

Photo: Jen Steele

Baked spinach and ricotta pancakes

Baked pancakes

Baked pancakes

Pancake Day very much ignited my enthusiasm for pancakes and crepes! Here’s a savoury pancake recipe, which uses spinach and ricotta. Delicious served with salad, or boiled new potatoes and green beans.

Preparation time: 20 mins

Cooking time: 25 mins

Serves: 4

Ingredients:

  • 110g plain flour, sifted
  • 1 egg, beaten
  • 250ml milk
  • 1 onion, sliced
  • 1 garlic clove, crushed
  • 250g spinach
  • 250g ricotta
  • 1 lemon, zested
  • 50g Parmesan, grated
  • 1 tin chopped tomatoes

 Method:

  1. Pre-heat the oven to 200C.
  2. To make the pancakes, sift the flour into a bowl. Make a well in the centre and pour in the beaten egg. Beat the egg into the flour with a fork and add the milk gradually. Heat a knob of butter in a frying pan and pour in the pancake mixture until it covers the bottom of the pan. When the underside is golden, flip the pancake. Repeat to make eight pancakes.
  3. Fry the onions in a knob of butter in a large pan until soft.
  4. Add the garlic and spinach and cook until the spinach is completely wilted. Leave to cool.
  5. Mix in the ricotta, lemon zest and half the Parmesan and season.
  6. Spread one-third of the sauce on the bottom of a baking dish.
  7. Divide another third of the mixture between eight pancakes and roll each one up to make an evenly filled tube.
  8. Sit the pancakes side by side in the dish (like cannelloni). Pour the remaining third of the sauce over the pancakes.
  9. Sprinkle over the rest of the Parmesan.
  10. Bake for 25-30 minutes until the cheese is golden.

Enjoy…

Photo: Fahara F

Pancake day

Pancakes

Pancakes

Lent is supposed to be a time of abstinence. A time when we give up luxury and over-indulgence for a simpler, more meagre way of life.

Unfortunately, instead of encouraging me to empty my cupboards of all sugary and fatty foods, Shrove Tuesday just reminds me of how much I like pancakes..!

Every year, when tucking into sugar-sprinkled, lemon-drizzled pancakes, I ponder why I only make them on this one, isolated day of the calendar.

The Americans enjoy piles of syrup-coated pancakes for breakfast. The French tuck into freshly made crepes on the streets on Paris. So this Lent, I plan to give up not eating pancakes…

Here are a few of my favourite pancake fillings:

1. Raspberries and blueberries

Feel better about yourself by offsetting the fat and grease with some healthy, fresh fruit! Just sprinkle the berries over the pancake and dust with icing sugar.

2. Banana and honey

A naturally sweet combination. Fold chopped banana into the pancake and drizzle with some runny honey. Tasty with a spoon of Greek yoghurt.

3. Pear and chocolate

Caramelise the pear in red wine and sugar and fold into the pancake before grating dark chocolate over the top. Deliciously self-indulgent.

4. Strawberries and maple syrup

Sweet and fruity. Chop fresh strawberries on to the pancake and drizzle with maple syrup. Enjoy with a spoon of vanilla ice cream.

5. Lemon and sugar

The original and the best. It just can’t be beaten. And believe me, I’ve experimented. I’ve gone through the crazy days of banana and nutella, but I always come crawling back to the old favourite. Although controversially, I do quite like to add a squeeze of orange to the lemon juice.

Photo: Jessica Spengler

Welsh rarebit

Welsh Rarebit

Welsh Rarebit

Welsh rarebit is quick and easy to make and is perfect as a snack or a light lunch. This traditional Welsh dish is delicious served with some crispy salad leaves and a tasty dressing.

Preparation time: 10 mins

Cooking time: 10 mins

Serves: 4

Ingredients:

  • 50g flour
  • 50g butter
  • 250ml beer or ale, warmed
  • 250g cheddar cheese, grated
  • 2 tsp English mustard
  • Black pepper
  • 4 large slices granary bread

Method:

  1. In a small saucepan, melt the butter and make a roux with the flour. Cook for a couple of minutes, stirring to prevent the roux from burning.
  2. Stir in the warm beer gradually, until you have a thick, smooth sauce.
  3. Add the grated cheese and stir until melted. You should now have a thick paste.
  4. Mix in the mustard and season well with black pepper.
  5. Lightly toast and butter the bread, then pile up the cheesy mixture on each slice.
  6. Cook under a hot grill for a few minutes, until browned and bubbling.

Delicious…

Photo: Tristan Kenney