Category Extras

Seeded Pitta Bread

This recipe was courtesy of Paul Hollywood and was also extremely simple which was a welcome attribute considering it was my first attempt at homemade pittas! There are many homemade recipes which the supermarkets just cannot beat and this is certainly one of them. After making these I’m pretty confident in my suspicions that the shop bought pittas are in fact made from recycled cardboard…….

Serves 6

  • 250g strong white bread flour
  • 15g nigella seeds (or any other seed of choice e.g. cumin, caraway)
  • 7g yeast sachet
  • 120-140ml water
  • Salt
  • Olive oil
  1. Mix the flour, salt, yeast and seeds in a large bowl. Add a splash of oil and about 120ml of water.
  2. Use your fingers or a fork and bring it all together to form a dough. I didn’t need to add much more water but it will vary depending on your flour. Combine to form a dough that is sticky-ish but not too wet.
  3. Tip onto a floured surface and knead for 5-10 minutes until the dough is elastic, smooth and soft.
  4. Place in an oiled bowl, cover with cling film and leave somewhere warm to double in size.
  5. Preheat the oven to 250°C and place a baking tray or hot stone inside to warm through. Once doubled in size, knock back the air from the dough and divide into 6 pieces.
  6. Roll thinly into an oval shape. Remove the hot tray from the oven and quickly sprinkle it with flour before placing as many pittas on top as will fit and bake for about 5-7 minutes until they have puffed and are golden but not too crisp. Check after 5 minutes and turn over if they are still too soft on the underside.
  7. Repeat with the remaining dough and when cooked wrap in a tea towel to soften and cool a little. Slice open and fill with a filling of your choice….in this case pulled pork. These are also fantastic dipped into hummus or baba ganoush!

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Almond Milk

 

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I’m not a religious soya milk/nut milk drinker but I prefer it on my granola or porridge etc. However, with its aura as a ‘healthy’ ingredient I was horrified to realise that your generic ‘Alpro Soya’ is sweetened and full of, not only sugar, but other additives too. Even the unsweetened version has a lengthy list of ingredients. Whats natural about that? Normal milk does get a beating from health freaks but at least there is no ingredients list on the label. Its like a lot of vegan and vegetarian food in that they get a reputation for being ‘healthier’. Sure tofu may have less fat than a sirloin steak, but its made with unnatural ingredients that won’t provide you with any health benefits unlike a steak.

So long story short, I thought I’d have a go at making my own nut milk which it turns out is painfully easy. This is a fantastic alternative to milk for your vegan buddies and takes two simple natural ingredients.

  • 200g whole almonds
  • 650ml cold water

1. Soak the almonds in the water overnight.

2. The next morning drain and add to a food processor. Coarsely chop with a pinch of salt and then add another 650ml of cold water, splash by splash until creamy.

3. Once all the water is added, blend until combined

4. Pour into a bowl lined with some muslin cloth and strain the ‘milk’ from the solid almond pulp. Bring the sides of the cloth up and squeeze out as much liquid as you can.

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image5. Add half a cinnamon stick if you like and then leave to infuse and chill in the fridge.

6. Store in a sterilised jar and keep in the fridge for about 3 days.

Note: I dried out the pulp almonds a little and used them in a cake as a ground almond/flour alternative. It was fairly successful but it added a huge amount of moisture. So I suggest really wringing out the pulp in the  muslin or drying them a little before use.

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Cheese Straws

I made cheese straws for a Christmas party at uni one year and they became an infamous crowd pleaser specifically with my favourite girlies on Tyndell’s Park Road! So exam time called for supplies to fuel everyone on!

This batch included simple mature cheddar with a kick of cayenne but I also made a sage, cheddar and cumin seed variety so feel free to add whatever you like. Thyme, rosemary, Dijon mustard or marmite. I’ve left quantities out as they can literally be made with any leftover puff pastry scraps and any lonely cuts of cheese!

  • A block/leftover puff pastry (see here if you want to make your own)
  • Mature cheddar cheese (or any other strong hard cheese)
  • Parmesan cheese (optional)
  • Pinch of cayenne pepper
  • 1 egg, beaten
  1. Preheat the oven to 220°C and line a large baking tray with greaseproof paper.
  2. Simply roll out your puff pastry into a rectangle to a few millimetres thick. (If using marmite, mustard, pesto or any type of spread, brush the sheet with a very thin layer at this point). Brush the sheet with beaten egg.
  3. Grate over a thin layer of cheese making sure you don’t leave the edges bare. Season with a little salt and black pepper and sprinkle with cayenne if you like (At this point add any other herbs, seasonings, spices etc)
  4. Use your rolling pin to gently press the cheese onto the pastry to keep it stuck down and cut the pastry into strips about 1.5cm wide.
  5. Take the strips at both ends and twist into a spiral and place on the tray, squashing the ends onto the tray to help them stick and hold their shape. Brush any exposed pastry with beaten egg and bake for about 15minutes checking now and again until golden.

Avoid the urge to devour the lot alone. Best eaten warm but also amazing dipped into any spicy dips or spreads or served as a canape in mini form. Their greasy buttery taste goes particularly well with a glass of Champagne and Prosecco so any excuse for a glass of fizz naturally calls for these. Try this Biancavigna, Prosecco Spumante Brut NV available at Armit Wines

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Cornbread

 

I love this American derived cornbread as it has a really deep rich flavour. Our family loves a good bowl of spicy chilli and rice when the colder months hit but sometimes rice gets a bit dull and this makes a really hearty change. Cornbread is a traditional Southern American staple which I love! I’ve added popular ingredients like cheese, chilli and sweetcorn but the usual cornbread is actually fairly plain, made with polenta (cornmeal) and baking powder which makes it rise.

  • 140g plain flour
  • 2 tsp baking powder
  • 1/2tsp bicarbonate of soda
  • 1 tbsp caster sugar
  • 1 tsp salt
  • 125g polenta/cornmeal
  • 1/2tsp chilli flakes
  • 75g mature cheddar, grated
  • 4 spring onions, chopped including the green tops
  • 25g melted butter
  • 2 eggs
  • 150ml whole milk
  • 150ml buttermilk
  • 150g sweetcorn
  1. Preheat the oven to 220°C.
  2. Traditionally made in a skillet, I made mine in a flat square brownie tin (23cm x 23cm and 4cm deep) but also feel free to use a loaf tin. Grease and line with baking parchment.
  3. Combine the first 9, dry, ingredients in a large bowl.
  4. Whisk the eggs and milk together in a jug.
  5. Make a well in the centre of the dry ingredients and, working quickly as the bicarbonate will begin to react with the buttermilk for the rising effect, whisk in the melted butter followed by the egg and milk. Stir in the sweetcorn, and transfer quickly to the prepared tin.
  6. Bake in the centre of the oven for about 20 minutes until golden and cooked.
  7. This is best served warm with salty butter and a bowl of steaming chilli, soured cream and guacamole smothered all over the top like there’s no tomorrow.

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Palmiers

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almiers. Crispy, buttery, puff pastry filled with delicious filling and a perfect savoury nibble to follow a glass of Champagne at New Year or for a dinner party! I made these with a collection of leftover ingredients that were cluttering up the fridge but as usual whenever I assume ingredients a write-off, they turn into something much more sophisticated than anticipated. You can put anything inside these, sweet with sugar and cinnamon or savoury cheeses, meats or spreads. For these two variations I made a red pesto, basil and Parma ham version and a black olive, feta and rosemary alternative!

(Makes about 40)

  • 2 x ready rolled puff pastry sheets (or buy a block and roll it out into a long rectangle about 35cm about 1 pound coin thickness)
  • 1 pack Parma ham slices
  • 2 tbsp red pesto
  • Handful basil leaves
  • Handful of crumbled feta cheese
  • 1 sprig of rosemary, leaves picked, chopped finely
  • 2 tbsp black olive spread
  • 1 egg, beaten
  1. Roll the first pastry sheet out onto a floured surface with the short edge of the rectangle facing you.
  2. Spread with the red pesto evenly over the entire sheet
  3. Sprinkle with the torn basil leaves
  4. Now line up the Parma ham slices down the rectangle
  5. Brush some beaten egg down the two outermost long edges and then starting on one side, tightly roll into the centre. Do the same on the other side, keeping the pastry tight until it meets in the centre with the other side.
  6. Brush a little beaten egg between the touching rolls, wrap tightly in cling film and chill in the fridge for 30 minutes.
  7. Repeat this process with the feta, olive spread and rosemary following the same principle or with whatever ingredients you like
  8. Preheat the oven to 200°C
  9. Once both ‘log’ have rested for 30 minutes, remove from the fridge and line a baking tray with parchment. Cut the puff pastry logs into about 1.5cm slices with a sharp knife (or thicker if you like) and line on the baking tray
  10. Bake in the oven for 12-15 minutes until golden, crispy and cooked through
  11. Leave to cool a little and serve warm with some bubbly!

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Red pesto, basil and Parma ham palmiers
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Feta, black olive and rosemary palters.

WINE: Of should I say something sparkling? Try with a crisp dry Champagne, English sparkling wine or a Prosecco. Try Biancavigna, Prosecco Spumante available at Armit Wines.

Jess - Prosecco

Green Chutney

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This green chutney is undoubtedly packed full of herby flavour and is the PERFECT addition to the Indian marinated lamb (or chicken) we scoffed…

  • About 35g coriander, stalks included (or a big bunch)
  • 35g mint leaves
  • 1 garlic clove
  • 2.5cm ginger, grated or chopped
  • ½ small onion
  • 1 green chilli, seeds removed
  • 15-20 pistachio nuts
  • 2 tbsp lemon juice, grated zest of half a lemon
  • salt
  • 3 tbsp water
  • 1-2 tbsp yoghurt
  1. Place all the ingredients in the bowl of a food processor.

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  2. Process until thoroughly chopped. I added a couple of heaped tablespoon of natural yoghurt just to make it more ‘spoonable’ but feel free to add lots more if you’re after a more cooling chutney! Toasted coconut is also a nice addition!image

Cornbread Fritters with Soured Cream and Guacamole

These little cornbread inspired fritters/pancakes were made with the leftover pulp from the sweetcorn soup I made. I hate waste and this way, the delicious wholesome leftovers were put to good use. You could alternatively use tinned corn which you can blend, the texture may be slightly different so just add more flour/milk to adjust for a drier/wetter batter. The polenta adds a crispy texture, the cheese melts everywhere and the chilli provides that familiar cornbread kick.

  • 300g leftover pureed corn from your Creamy Sweetcorn Soup– see recipe (or tinned sweetcorn, pureed)
  • 3 spring onions, finely chopped including green tops
  • ½ large red chilli, finely chopped
  • 40g grated mature cheddar cheese
  • 40g plain flour
  • 40g polenta/cornmeal
  • ½ tsp baking powder
  • 2 large eggs, beaten
  1. In a large bowl, combine the pureed corn, spring onions, chilli, cheese and season.image
  2. Whisk in the eggs and then stir in the flour, baking powder and polenta until you have a thick batter. If the batter is too runny add a little more flour. It should be fairly thick but will set once cooked.image
  3. Heat a thin layer of sunflower oil in a frying pan over a medium-high heat. Fry spoonfuls of the mixture for 1-2 minutes each side or until golden and crusty from the polenta. The mixture can be a little wet but adding too much flour I’ve found makes them taste a bit ‘floury’ whereas here they will taste solely of sweetcorn.image
  4. Drain on kitchen paper and leave to cool slightly before serving warm with soured cream and guacamole!

Mixed Seed Pesto

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One thing I love about being a student is the necessity to be resourceful with whatever food is to hand. With a need to budget, being economical with your weekly shop is an art, and I am forever searching for ways to make my food go further without EVER skimping on flavour or going hungry. So, today I knocked up a satisfying, tasty and fresh salad which my taste buds were certainly thankful for, after noting the anorexic looking shelves of my dying fridge. I seem to be using pumpkin seeds a lot at the moment in this Autumnal weather, so I decided to use a handful of mixed seeds to create a pesto dressing for the last of my sweet, ripe tomatoes and pessimistic salad leaves. Homemade pesto is always more wholesome and scrumptious than the jarred equivalent in the shops and this one certainly didn’t let me down……

  • 2 tbsp of mixed seeds (I used pumpkin, sesame and sunflower)
  • Small bunch of coriander and flat leaf parsley
  • Small handful of grated parmesan
  • 1 small garlic glove
  • ½ small lemon
  • Salt and pepper
  • Extra virgin olive oil
  1. Start by grinding the garlic to a paste with some coarse salt in a pestle and mortar.
  2. Toast the seeds in a dry frying pan until they release their flavour and begin to crackle.
  3. Add to the pestle and mortar and grind to a chunky paste with the garlic. You can grind it as much as you like. I like to keep the seeds a bit chunky to add a bit of texture
  4. Now add the herbs and parmesan and grind to a green paste.
  5. Add a splash of oil and a squeeze of lemon juice to make a thick pesto or to your desired consistency.
  6. Taste and adjust using salt and pepper and more lemon if you like.

I added a large tablespoon of my pesto to a mix of bitter cos lettuce, sweet tomatoes and some cress for a lovely salad. This would be delicious topped with some salty, fried halloumi cheese…..but, sadly my fridge didn’t deliver on that one.image

Pumpkin Butter (Jam)

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I’ve been seasonally experimenting with pumpkins recently. They’re versatility and texture mean they are great in sweet recipes and desserts. This recipe is titled ‘butter’ but it doesn’t actually contain any……its more of a sweet, spicy, rich, deep jam that is great with pancakes, my pumpkin muffins, smeared on a toasted bagel or in a compote with yoghurt and granola for breakfast.

  • 1 can pumpkin puree [or you can roast and use the flesh from a pumpkin but this recipe called for the packed canned type….]
  • Approx 90ml apple juice
  • 1 tsp ground ginger
  • 1 tsp mixed spice
  • ½ tbsp cinnamon
  • Grating of nutmeg
  • 140g dark brown sugar
  1. Combine all the ingredients in a heavy based pan and heat. You may need to add a little more apple juice to make it thinner in order to heat it. Bring to the boil and simmer gently for 30 minutes until thick.
  2. Store in an airtight container in the fridge until needed.

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For the breakfast pots, I layered some pumpkin puree on the bottom, some Greek yoghurt mixed with a splash of vanilla extract and topped with blueberries and my granola!

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I saw the recipe called for pumpkin puree in a can and have always wanted to try this…..I slightly felt like I was cheating but it was good!

Pumpkin Seed Anti Anxiety Butter

 

As a perpetual worrier and a passionate nutrition enthusiast, I love pumpkin seeds for their fabulous anti-anxiety properties. This bountiful jar of bottle-green ‘butter’ is like my own personal and bespoke prescription without the price tag. However, also unlike your prescription (unless you’re 10 years old and drinking the dreamy sugary Calpol) this one has a vanilla-like, sweet and indescribable aroma and taste.

After my endless and compulsory regurgitation of the principle amino acids for my university biochemistry modules,  I know that they are vital and guess what? Pumpkin seeds are a good source! They have a heap of both tryptophan and glutamate, two important amino acids in the body. While tryptophan is converted to serotonin to help sleep, glutamate is converted to GABA neurotransmitter in the brain that can allow us to deal with stress and anxiety. Therefore, my nights of endless worried sleep are over. If anxiety kicks in….take a large dreamy spoonful and be on your merry way. In addition, these pictures would without doubt be much more appreciated on my revision wall than the chemical structures currently residing….

  • 200g pumpkin seeds
  • ½ tsp salt
  • ½ tsp thick set honey
  • 1 tsp sunflower oil
  1. Begin by heating a dry frying pan until hot and toast the seeds until they begin to pop and crackle (you will hear it) and the skins start to split. This helps release flavour and smell. The popping happens quickly so just get them going and then remove from the heat to prevent burning.
  2. Add to the bowl of a food processor and blitz. Keep the motor running continuously, stopping now and again to scrape the build up from around the sides. The whole process (I carelessly forgot to time it…) takes about 10 minutes so don’t worry if it doesn’t look very ‘buttery’ to start, just continue to process for about 10minutes until the mixture begins to release though lovely oils and it becomes like thick paste.imageimage
  3. As this happens, add the rest of the ingredients and continue until you have a texture you like. I like it thick so it can be spread on toast or oat cakes nice and smoothly.
  4. Jar and keep in the fridge, ready for those moments of anxiety, or for a wholesome boost!

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