Archive of ‘Recipe’ category

Nankhatai – Indian Spiced Biscuits

photo by Ozzy

One of my favourite recipes from my Indian Afternoon Tea last weekend was Nankhatai – they are the perfect cup of tea biscuits and are very easy to make. You can customise them with different spices and once they are baked, different toppings.

Nankhatai can be found in most Indian bakeries and sweetmarts, but they are much more delicious if made fresh – and so quick to make that a trip to the shop takes more time!

Nankhatai are eggless biscuits, a lot of Indians don’t eat eggs for religious reasons which is why they are such a popular biscuit in India. They contain a pleasingly large amount of butter, which gives them their melting soft texture and makes them very moreish.

My biscuits are flavoured with cardamom and saffron and I topped them with chopped pistachios (bound with a little runny honey to stop them falling out), and some of them cumin seeds, which I love with sweet things.

Nankhatai – makes about 30 biscuits (easily halved)

100g softened butter
100g icing sugar
1/2 teaspoon baking powder
Pinch of saffron
3 pods worth of black cardamom seeds – ground finely
250g plain flour
20g gram flour / chickpea flour
30g coarse semolina
Pistachios or other nuts to decorate.

  • Preheat your oven 160c / gas mark 4 and line two baking trays with baking parchment.
  • Cream together the butter and sugar til smooth.
  • Add in your spices and baking powder and stir briefly
  • Sift in the flours, mix with a wooden spoon first and then as it comes together use your hands to form a dough – it will be quite soft.
  • Roll into 1 inch balls and place on your baking tray.
  • Pop a little dent in the top, the tip of a wooden spoon works well, don’t flatten the biscuits though, otherwise you’ll lose that lovely domed shape.
  • Bake for 15 minutes until slightly golden around the edges.
  • Fill the holes with pistachio nuts and serve.

They keep very well for a few days in an airtight tin stored at room temperature. I recommend you have them with a cup of masala chai!

Tomato Bruschetta

So who else, whilst watching Celebrity Masterchef this week, thought – who boils tomatoes for bruschetta and removes the skins? I always thought the idea was to use fresh tomatoes?

Anyway, despite that, I really fancied some nice basil and olive oil spiked tomatoes after watching it. Here is a confession – my tomatoes which should have been some locally grown fresh summer tomatoes were actually from Tesco. Sorry, are my blogger credentials ruined?

Anyway, I used some cherry tomatoes which are sweeter than the normal sized ones and gave them some help with decent olive oil and basil from my garden. So I think I win a bit more because I grew the basil myself? I finely chopped and then crushed into a paste with the knife some garlic and added that, with plenty of seasoning.

Instead of the traditional ciabatta I used some pizza dough I had in the fridge to make pizza fritta. This is a pretty unhealthy but awesome way of making pizza, I got the recipe from Jamie Oliver’s ‘Jamie at Home’ book. Basically you fry it in olive oil on both sides til it fluffs up – then add toppings and grill to melt the cheese. For this I just topped with tomatoes and served it up.

This was a perfect indulgent but light lunch and the extra flavourings from basil and garlic pimped up (sorry been reading too much Joliver) some ordinary tomatoes. I will try it with some ‘proper’ local tomatoes soon, I’m sure it will be amazing!

Oat & Peanut Butter Sandwich Cookies

I think this recipe is the fastest read to bake ratio on the blog yet. Joy the Baker blogged this lovely recipe on Thursday and I was in the kitchen making them on Sunday. I think I would have been quicker had my car not broken down on Friday (I’ll save moaning about that for my Twitter account!).

I’ve been searching out the Peanut Butter Co. peanut butter for a while. They are based in New York and make natural peanut butter without all the scary preservatives and palm oil that most producers use (even brands made in the UK which doesn’t use as much palm oil as the States).
Sainsbury’s stocks the smooth peanut butter, they have lots of different flavours (cinnamon raisin swirl! dark chocolate dreams!) so I am hoping they get more popular here and start stocking more.

These cookies are so great, I always have success making oaty cookies and these were no exception. They have tons of flavour, lots of crunch from hazelnuts and that amazing peanut butter filling. I used a touch less sugar in both the cookie mixture (2/3 cup) and added icing sugar to taste, I don’t like cookies too sweet as I like to taste the rest of the ingredients.

I made up the whole batch of dough according to the recipe, but only baked half, I saved the rest and froze them in little balls in the freezer – ready for future cookie cravings! I do this a lot with cookies as we can’t eat such big batches ourselves, and it is nice having cookie dough in the freezer. I made half the icing for my half batch of cookies.

Oatmeal & Peanut Butter filled Sandwich Cookies
From Joy The Baker, makes about 24 cookies.
100g / 4oz unsalted butter, softened
2/3 cup of brown sugar
1 large egg
1 teaspoon of vanilla extract
1 1/4 cups of porridge oats
1 cup of plain flour
1 1/2 teaspoon of baking powder
1/2 teaspoon of salt
1/2 teaspoon of cinnamon
few grinds of black pepper (Mr doesn’t like nutmeg so I gave this a go and it worked!)
1/2 cup of chopped hazelnuts

Peanut Butter Filling (this is the whole batch, half if you are freezer stashing your dough!)
3 tablespoons of butter, softened
1/2 cup of good quality smooth peanut butter
1 cup of icing sugar
1 teaspoon of vanilla extract
3/4 tablespoons of milk

Preheat the oven to gas mark 4 / 180c.

Cream the butter and sugar in a large bowl or mixer, add in the egg and mix to combine, add in the vanilla extract and combine.

Mix the oats, flour, baking powder, salt and spices in a separate bowl. Then adding a bit at a time fold in the dry ingredients with the butter mixture. Be careful not to overmix. When it is all incorporated stir in the nuts.

Prepare a flat baking sheet by lining it with baking parchment. Scoop out teaspoon size bits of dough, roll into a ball and place on the sheet 1.5 inches apart. Bake for 10 minutes for soft chewy cookies and 13 minutes for crispier cookies. Bake in batches if you don’t have room.

For the filling:
Put the butter, peanut butter and vanilla in a bowl and cream together. Add the icing sugar in batches. I added in half first and mixed, tasted for sweetness and added more to taste. To get a creamier icing that is spreadable add in splashes of milk to the icing.

When the cookies are cool enough (leave in the tray for 5 minutes and then cool on a wire rack for 10 – 15 minutes) spread the icing over each underside of the cookie and then sandwich. Place in mouth. Place another one in your mouth. Make a cup of tea and dunk that cookie in it!

I’m really quite smug that I have another 12 cookies to be in my freezer.

Slow Cooked Chipotle and Ancho Pork

These days my diet is mostly vegetarian, but every now and again I do get cravings of the carnivorous variety that just won’t go away. This slow cooked pork is fragrant with cumin and coriander with some gentle heat from chipotles in adobo and powdered ancho chilli, brought together by a thick tomato and onion based sauce. I made various sides to go with this – onions pickled in vinegar, guacamole, grated cheese and also black beans to please the vegetarian in our household – and then piled it on to little tacos.

A word about tacos and tortillas here. I find the majority of tortilla wraps just awful, they are kind of plasticky and don’t really taste of anything at all, proper Mexican tortillas they ain’t. If you can pick up some better quality tortillas or have time to make your own then everything will taste all the better. I’ve been using the square wraps Warburtons bought out recently, they are more bready and less plasticky and just taste a bit more real. For the tacos I just used a cookie cutter to make little rounds.

Slow Cooked Chipotle & Ancho Pork
based on a recipe from Food 52, with different chillies.
serves 2  (or one greedy person with leftovers)

1 tsp of cumin seeds
1 tsp of coriander seeds
350g of pork shoulder, cubed
1/2 onion, diced
1/2 red chilli, diced
2 cloves of garlic
about 1 inch piece of dried ancho chilli, finely chopped or blitzed in a food processor
1/2 chipotle in adobo plus a bit of adobo sauce
2 tsp of dried oregano
1/2 can of peeled plum tomatoes
1 pint chicken or vegetable stock
oil for frying
fresh coriander

Heat up a large casserole dish on the hob. Toast the cumin and coriander seeds for a few minutes, keep them moving so they don’t burn. Transfer to a pestle and mortar and crush the seeds. Heat some groundnut or sunflower oil in the dish and brown the pork on all sides, do this in batches if it doesn’t fit. Season the pork whilst it is browning. Put the pork in a bowl and set aside.

Fry the onions next til softened, then add in the chilli and garlic and fry for a minute. Add in your ground spices, dried oregano, ancho and chipotle in adobo. Then add your pork back in and stir everything together, fry for a minute before adding your tomatoes and stock along with salt and pepper. The meat needs to be totally covered with stock, top up with boiling water if it isn’t.

Bring to the boil, then cover and reduce to the lowest temperature. Bubble away for at least 2 hours, maximum about 4. When the meat is falling apart and tender it is ready to eat.

Remove the pork from the sauce. Blend up the sauce to help thicken it and then turn the heat up high to reduce the sauce, it should take about 5-10 minutes. Once it is nice and thick add in some fresh coriander and shred the pork and mix into the sauce. I removed the fat when I added the pork back in, I don’t like the texture of it when it is cooked like this, and once the pork has slow cooked the fat has done its job to help add flavour to the meat.

Get all your sides ready whilst the sauce is thickening and then pile onto tacos and go!
I’ll be having the rest of this pork tomorrow in a burrito and I can’t wait.

More and more little delis and farm shops are stocking interesting dried chillies now, and you can find chipotles in adobo in a few places too (Cambridge people – the Cheese Shop sells them). If not you can find all of them at Mex Grocer, including proper tortillas.

Pesto Pull Apart Bread

This Pesto Pull Apart Bread is a real crowd pleaser, I think tearing big chunks of freshly baked bread slathered in pesto is just about anyones favourite thing to do. I took this bread along to The Secluded Tea Party Unbirthday this weekend as part of the pot luck spread, along with some sundried tomato palmiers (more on that soon). It looks kind of awesome, all big and gnarly on the table and tastes even more awesome.

This bread takes time time to make but if you are confident enough making a normal bread dough then you’ll be fine here. It is quite a nice bank holiday activity, something you potter in and out of the kitchen at regular intervals to do the necessary stages.

I’ve seen this as a sweet filling before too, filled with cinnamon sugar, and also in other savoury ways – sun dried tomato, cheddar & mustard. 

Pesto Pull Apart Bread
based on the recipe from Miss Igs

For the dough
1 cup of warm water
1 packet (7g) of fast action yeast
2 tablespoons of olive oil
2 cups of strong white bread flour
2 tablespoon of sugar
1 teaspoon salt
1 egg

For the pesto
Large handful of fresh basil
2 cloves of garlic
1/4 cup of toasted pine nuts (toasted in a dry pan)
approx 1/8 cup of grated parmesan or hard cheese
extra virgin olive oil

Mix together the warm water, yeast and oil in a large bowl. Leave for 5 minutes til the yeast starts to bubble.
Then add the bread flour, sugar and salt to the yeast mixture. Mix well with a wooden spoon (or a mixer if you have one, I have one on my wish list!) until all incorporated in to a dough, add the egg in and mix to incorporate again. Your dough might be a bit wet here so add in some more flour to form into more of a kneadable dough. Knead lightly in the bowl for just a couple of minutes. You’ll not need to worry so much about kneading if you are using a mixer with a dough hook.

Cover the bowl with a tea towel and leave in a warm, dry place for at least an hour to prove. It should double in size.
You need to make your pesto now. Just blitz all the ingredients in a food processor or mini blender. Add some oil to begin with and then add more as you need to loosen the mixture.

After proving knock back the dough, flour a board well and roll out thinly in a rough rounded square. Spread the pesto over the dough.

Cut the dough into 4 long strips. Then pile the strips on top of each other, then cut into little square stacks. Then stack the little squares into a oiled and floured loaf tin. Leave to prove for another 30-40 minutes.

Preheat your oven to 170c / gas mark 3. When it is proved bake in the oven for 30 – 35 minutes until golden brown and cooked through. Keep an eye on it in case it starts to brown too much, you may need to turn your oven down, mine went quite brown in the end.

Remove from the tin about 5 minutes after it has come out of the oven. Cool on a wire rack. Tear into it when it is still slightly warm / as long as you can bear without eating it.

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