Monthly Archives: April 2017

Hot Cross Buns

I’ve been making these for several years now at Easter, managing to avoid the temptation to buy them in the supermarkets (from February onwards)!  Seems to get earlier every year but I like special occasion foods to be just that and so only make these once a year and they are so much nicer – and oil free – and wholemeal – and no preservatives – that its really worth it.  I usually am cooking them for a crowd so I want to impress and therefore don’t do 100% wholemeal flour as they are much heavier and take longer to make as the rising time has to be longer.  Feel free to go that way if you wish and in that case add a splash more liquid to the dough and allow an extra 30 minutes or more rising time

You will need: A large mixing bowl, a whisk or fork, measuring spoons, a clean work surface, a large rectangular baking tray, baking paper, digital scales (not essential unless you’re particular about bun size like me!), tiny zip lock bags, small bowl (1/2-1 cup size), teaspoon, cling film, oil spray, pastry brush.


Hot Cross Buns
 
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Note the cook and prep times do not include rising times; allow 2-3 hours in addition.
Author:
Serves: 12
Ingredients
  • 230g wholemeal flour
  • 220g plain flour
  • 1 tsp cinnamon
  • 1 tsp mixed spice
  • pinch of freshly ground nutmeg
  • 50g raw brown sugar
  • 7g instant yeast
  • 270ml warm water
  • 150g mixed dried fruit & peel - any combination you like
  • extra: plain flour rolling, for making crosses; & sugar for glazing
Instructions
  1. [Dough can also be mixed in a breadmaker or with a dough hook attachment in a food processor or hand mixer - just mix all ingredients from flour to water together then mix in the fruit]
  2. In a very large bowl whisk the dry ingredients all together then slowly stir in the water. It will suck up the water very quickly and seem quite dry but keep mixing until all the flour is incorporated and then add a splash more (tablespoon at a time) until the dough is soft and a little sticky. It should be a little wetter than a regular bread dough. Tip it onto a floured working surface and knead in the dried fruit. Knead for 10 minutes until the dough becomes springy and elastic and all the fruit is incorporated.
  3. Wash out the bowl and place the dough inside, cover with cling wrap and leave in a warm place for an hour or so or until doubled in size.
  4. Tip the dough back onto a floured work surface.
  5. Line a large baking tray (as wide as a regular oven) with baking paper.
  6. Here is where digital scales are very useful. If you're at all like me, you want 12 buns exactly the same size. The only way to achieve this is to weigh each ball of dough. 🙂 So weigh the entire amount, divide by 12 and then pull off balls of dough that weight, roll in to a neat ball between your lightly floured palms and place on the tray. Repeat! You want 3 x 4 on the tray, even spaced. They will grow as they rise so allow a good 3-5 cm between each bun.
  7. Spray a piece of cling wrap with oil (otherwise they will stick and deflate when you pull off the wrap). and place over the buns and return to their warm spot until they have risen sufficiently to be stuck to each other.
  8. Preheat the oven to 200 degrees Centigrade.
  9. Make the cross paste: Mix 2-3 tablespoons of flour in a little bowl with enough water to make a thick but runny paste (like single cream). Pour it into a little ziplock bag.
  10. Remove carefully the cling wrap and take your bag of flour and water paste. Snip off a tiny corner off of the bag and carefully drizzle in long lines across the middle of the buns, then back the other way. It's easier to do this in one continuous motion rather than individually. Plan your route before you set off! 🙂
  11. Once you've finished, place in the hot oven for 15-20 minutes or until golden brown.
  12. Make the glaze: Mix 2-3 teaspoons of sugar in a small bowl with boiling water and stir until it dissolves.
  13. Once the timer goes off check that they're cooked by cutting one open (use tongues!), it should be firm and not wet inside.
  14. Brush the glaze over the hot buns and leave to cool - if you can. 🙂

 

Sweet & Sour Tofu

I had a craving for this dish which I used to love as a child when we would very occasionally go to a Chinese restaurant.  Of course it wasn’t tofu back then, was probably chicken or pork but it was the way that sweet tangy sauce soaked into the rice that I loved so this satisfies that completely!  After trying a few recipes I found on the net, I combined the best of them plus a few variations to make this version.  We usually enjoy it with some steamed bok choi or broccoli on the side. You can also add other vegetables such as snow peas or bamboo shoots / beansprouts at the end if you like.


Sweet & Sour Tofu
 
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Cooking time may be extended depending on how long it takes to cook your rice. I use a rice cooker and ours takes around 30 minutes.
Author:
Recipe type: Dinner
Cuisine: Chinese
Serves: 4
Ingredients
  • 1 300g pack of firm tofu (we like to use smoked but plain is fine)
  • 2 tablespoons brown rice vinegar
  • 3 tablespoons tomato ketchup
  • 2 tablespoons low sodium soy sauce or tamari
  • 1 tablespoon lime juice
  • Juice from 1 400g can pineapple pieces
  • ½ cup water
  • Pineapple pieces from the can
  • 2 tablespoons brown unrefined sugar
  • 2 heaped teaspoons corn flour
  • 2 cloves garlic, minced / microplaned
  • 1 tablespoon fresh ginger, grated
  • 1 large red capsicum cut into strips
  • 1 large green or yellow capsicum, cut into strips
  • 1 large red onion, sliced into strips
  • 1 small can water chestnuts, drained - optional
  • 4 tablespoons roasted cashews - optional
Instructions
  1. Put your brown ride on to cook
  2. Mix together the pineapple juice, vinegar, tomato ketchup, soy sauce and lime juice in a small bowl, whisk in the corn flour and water and mix thoroughly until smooth with no lumps. Put the tofu in to a shallow dish and pour the sauce over and leave to marinade.
  3. When then rice is almost ready heat a large non stick frying pan over a medium heat and saute the onion and peppers until softened. Add the garlic and ginger and stir around for 5 minutes, adding a tiny splash of water if any sticking is occurring. Put on the lid and allow to cook on a low heat for a further few minutes until peppers are tender.
  4. Add the tofu and sauce to the pan, along with the pineapple, water chestnuts and cashews. Stir consistently until the sauce thickens and becomes transparent. Add a splash more water as needed to create as much sauce as you'd like.
  5. Serve with the rice and accompanying vegetables as desired.

 

Spicy Spinach & Mushroom Rice Bowl

This is based on a thing I’d kind of throw together for myself for lunch when I was a stay-at-home-mum and one day when I was marvelling at the deliciousness of it I realised I was being selfish to keep it to myself so I made it into a proper family meal and everyone loved it. Better still this is a quick and easy weeknight dinner, whilst not skimping on plenty of veg.  It’s kind of like a risotto so should be soupy and not a dry pilaf-type thing. If you like it hot spicy feel free to add chopped chillies or chilli powder at the start.  Otherwise this is totally kid friendly. 🙂


Spicy Spinach & Mushroom Rice Bowl
 
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Author:
Serves: 4-6
Ingredients
  • 1 red onion, diced
  • 1 red capsicum, diced
  • 4 field mushrooms, diced or a bag ready sliced
  • 2 tsp turmeric
  • 2 tsp coriander
  • 2 tablespoons salt reduced soy sauce
  • 2 tsp smoked (or regular if you're' not a fan) paprika
  • 1 bag baby spinach, 2-300g, chopped
  • 1 cup frozen sweetcorn and / or peas
  • 3 cups ready cooked medium grain brown rice
  • 2 cups vegetable stock
  • 2-3 tablespoons tahini (or ½ cup fat free hummus)
  • 1.5 cups tomato pasta sauce
  • Juice of a (juicy) lime
  • Freshly chopped parsley
Instructions
  1. Prep all your vegetables.
  2. Heat a large, deep non stick pan (which has a lid preferably)
  3. Saute the onion, capsicum and mushrooms with the spices and cook for 5 minutes until the capsicums are softened a little then add handfuls at a time of the chopped spinach, stirring until it wilts in to the mixture - should take around 5 minutes.
  4. Add in the cooked rice, frozen corn / peas, the stock, the tahini (or hummus) and pasta sauce and stir well. Once it starts to bubble put on the lid and turn down to gentle simmer. After 5 minutes check the vegetables are all done to your liking. Stir in the lime juice, scatter with the parsley and serve!

 

Potato, Chickpea & Veggie Cakes

These were a bit of an experiment which turned into a huge success!  We had them for dinner topped with hummus and salsa (or hot sauce or tomato sauce depending on your age!) with some steamed broccoli.  Also were a great breakfast the next day sandwiched into some sourdough with avocado and tomato.


Potato, Chickpea & Veggie Cakes
 
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Creamy mash and chickpeas blended together with gently sautéed veggies and spices, formed into patties and coated with breadcrumbs. A delicious light lunch with salad or for dinner with steamed vegetables.
Author:
Recipe type: Patties & Burgers
Serves: 14
Ingredients
  • 700g potatoes (peeled weight)
  • 1-2 cups dry breadcrumbs (I used a sourdough crust, pulsed in food processor, toasted in oven, then pulsed again into a fine crumb)
  • 1 can chickpeas, drained and rinsed
  • 2 T tahini
  • 1 brown onion, finely chopped
  • 1 leek, halved lengthways, washed and finely sliced
  • 2 cups finely chopped cabbage
  • 100g chopped mushrooms
  • 1 medium carrot grated
  • ½ cup frozen baby peas
  • ½ cup frozen sweet corn
  • 1 tsp mixed dried herbs
  • ½ t paprika
  • ½ t turmeric
  • ½ t coriander
  • 1 T soy sauce
  • 5 cubes frozen spinach defrosted and squeezed dry
Instructions
  1. Peel your potatoes and put into a pan of cold water and bring to the boil.
  2. Meanwhile, prepare your other vegetables (and breadcrumbs if necessary.)
  3. Blend the chickpeas with the tahini in a food processor until mostly smooth, a few chunks is ok.
  4. Put the onion, leek, cabbage, mushrooms, carrot into a large nonstick frying pan and cook over a medium heat, stirring frequently until softened, adding a splash or two of water if starting to stick. Stir in the herbs and spices and soy sauce and cook until very soft and most moisture evaporated. Turn off the heat.
  5. Preheat the oven to 170 degrees and line a large baking tray with paper and place inside.
  6. When your potatoes are just tender, drain well and mash until smooth.
  7. In a large bowl combine the potato, chickpeas, the cooked veggies, frozen peas and corn, and the spinach. The mixture should be very thick and quite difficult to stir. Hands are easier if it's too hard! Can be refrigerated at this stage until you're ready to cook them.
  8. Take large spoonfuls and shape into patties, then coat in breadcrumbs.
  9. Cook a batch at a time in a dry frying pan over a moderate heat for a few minutes until crispy on both sides, then transfer to your baking sheet in the oven whilst you cook the rest. Bake them in the oven for a further 15 minutes. I managed to get 14 cakes.

 

Italian Cabbage & Beans

This recipe has been a surprising favourite for many years, having been adapted from a recipe in BBC Vegetarian Good Food magazine circa 1999! It’s a rustic Italian inspired dish.  More vegetables have been included, oil eliminated and wholewheat sourdough toast substituted.  Interestingly it features cumin which I thought was very unusual for in Italian cuisine, however after researching I find it used to be more popular and was even called Roman Caraway! 🙂

Even my kids love this dish; it’s both simple in terms of ingredients and yet complex in flavour. You WILL go back for a second bowl!

Italian Cabbage & Beans
 
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Author:
Recipe type: Casserole / Soup
Cuisine: Italian
Serves: 4-6
Ingredients
  • 1 large leek, sliced
  • 1 large red onion, sliced
  • 1 garlic clove, crushed
  • 1 garlic clove, cut in half
  • 1 teaspoon cumin seeds (or try fennel or caraway for interesting variations)
  • 2 large potatoes, peeled and diced
  • 1 litre vegetable stock
  • 2 bay leaves
  • 1 small savoy cabbage, roughy shredded / and / or kale, shredded
  • 1 can cannellini beans, drained & rinsed
  • wholewheat sourdough bread, toasted
  • flatleaf parsley, finely chopped
Instructions
  1. In a large deep casserole pot, saute the leek, onion, cumin seeds & crushed garlic for 3 minutes until softened, stirring occasionally and adding a small splash of the stock to stop it sticking
  2. Add all of the stock, and bring to the boil.
  3. Add the bay leaves, cabbage beans potatoes and return to the boil.
  4. Turn down to a simmer and put on the lid.
  5. Simmer for 15 minutes or until the potatoes are tender.
  6. Turn off the heat and allow to sit for 10 minutes whilst you toast the bread and rub them with the cut garlic cloves.
  7. Serve the cabbage and beans scattered with the parsley alongside the garlic toast