Sunday, 9 September 2012

A blondie moment

Remembering the initial premise of this blog, it's time to share a much requested recipe for peanut butter and white chocolate blondies. It's from Rachel Allen's Bake and I'll give you the option of the printed recipe or a video version with Rachel herself.
(Something to note on the consistency of the mixture - it's not as runny as brownie batter, but more like a cookie dough. The video will reassure you that you're on the right track.)

Saturday, 8 September 2012

Veggie chilli to feed the world...

... or Nigella over-caters once again.

A common problem with vegetarian versions of established meat dishes is that of texture. Meat substitutes in particular attempt to emulate the texture of meat and it is not something I can truthfully say that I miss (particularly the squeak of mince between the teeth).* However, straight substitutions of pulses or legumes for mince in dishes such as chilli often result in a dish that is too liquid or two lumpy. So, I am happy to present you with a Nigella offering from Feast that circumvents that issue by retaining the traditional red kidney beans and adding in lentils that are cooked without ending up mushy or sloppy. The cornbread topping adds a satisfying crunch and acts as a tasty sop for the juices.

Add chilli to taste when making up this recipe - and remember you can always add more once the chilli has cooked down and before you add the topping. The lack of salt/pepper is surprising but intentional - judge it for yourself, but I found that extra seasoning was unnecessary.

I've halved the original recipe to create something that serves 5-6. I cook it in a shallow casserole that can go from stove to oven and fits everything in neatly (a 25cm Le Creuset buffet casserole dish). You need a relatively big pan for cooking the chilli and then quite a wide (but adequately deep) pan/dish for baking the complete dish.

I'd recommend an accompanying salad of crisp lettuce, spring onion and chopped avocado dressed with lime juice, salt and pepper.

*That said, it's been so long since I've eaten meat that I might now be misremembering the sensation.

Vegetable chilli with a cornbread topping

For the chilli:
1 tbsp olive oil
1 medium onion, minced
1 clove garlic, minced
1 large red pepper, finely diced
1 tsp dried chilli flakes
0.5 tsp ground coriander
0.5 tsp ground cumin
2 small cardamom pods, crushed
150g red lentils
1 400g can chopped tomatoes
375ml water
1 400g can red kidney beans
2 tbsps tomato ketchup
2 tbsps tomato puree
0.5 tbsps cocoa

In a large pan, heat the oil and fry the onion, garlic and red pepper until soft. Add the chilli, coriander, cumin, and cardamom and stir. Add the lentils and stir again. Add the remainder of the ingredients, stir, and bring to the boil. Simmer the chilli covered for about 30 minutes, stirring frequently. If the mixture looks too liquid, uncover and cook further.

The chilli can be cooked in advance and kept in the fridge. The cornbread mixture should be made when you are ready to cook it.

For the cornbread:
160g cornmeal
pinch salt
1 tbsp plain flour
1.5 tsp baking powder
0.5 tsp ground cinnamon
185ml buttermilk
1 egg
0.5 tsp honey
1 tbsp corn oil
40g cheddar cheese, grated

Preheat the oven to GM7/220°C. If you have made the chilli in advance, warm it through to ensure it cooks evenly with the topping.
Mix the dried ingredients in a bowl. Whisk together the wet ingredients in a jug. Add the wet to the dry ingredients and mix to a batter. Pour/spoon the batter over the chilli. Sprinkle the top with cheese. Bake in the oven for 20-25 minutes or until the cornbread topping is golden brown. Allow the chilli to stand for 5 minutes, then serve.

Saturday, 23 June 2012

Sunshine cake for midsummer

 I love Diana Henry's books - to read as much as to cook from. Here is an apricot and almond upside-down cake that tastes as good as it looks, as good as it smells, good enough that I keep my patience making the caramel. The recipe is from Food from Plenty, but is handily enough also available online.

Sweet, tart, fragrant, nutty cake, sunshine, fruit, and a good book and even another birthday can be bearable...