Thursday, 22 December 2016

Yogurt Cake

This cake can be made two ways; my Mum adds dried fruit to her yogurt cake, but I usually make this as a plain cake rather than a fruit cake, although it is very good with fruit.  Plain, Greek or fruit yogurt can be used and the flavour will change accordingly.  If using a 5oz pot of yogurt, the pot can be rinsed and used as a cup measure for the remaining ingredients.  To simplify this recipe I am listing the plain cake ingredients as I make it and enclosing a photo of my Mum's recipe.
150g/5oz Plain Yogurt
150ml/0.25pint sunflower oil
225g/8oz/1 cup Caster Sugar
225g/8oz/2 cups SR Flour
10ml/2tsps Baking Powder
2 Medium Eggs, beaten

1.  Preheat oven to 160'C.
2.  Grease and line a round cake tin, 18cm/7" or 20cm/8".
3.  Place all ingredients together in a large bowl and mix until smooth.
4.  Bake in a preheated oven until lightly golden and springy to the touch.  Test with a skewer, which will stay clean when cake is cooked through.  In my fan oven the cake is cooked after 45 minutes, but it may take longer in another oven.
5.  Leave to cool in the tin.
6.  I usually leave this cake undecorated, but it can be iced when cool.

Thursday, 29 September 2016

Spinach & Chickpea Quenelles

This is another of those recipes that I don't measure the ingredients for!  I am posting it here as a reminder to myself that this worked because I once made some of these quenelles using garden peas and now I can't remember how I made them!! :)

For this recipe I used ... approximately
250g baby leaves of spinach
3 large homegrown, blow-your-socks-off spring onions
2 cloves of garlic
a handful of mixed nuts
a 400g tin of chickpeas, drained
1 heaped tbsp crunchy peanut butter
3 slices of white bread
100g mature cheddar, grated
1 large egg

1.  Preheat oven to 190'C.
2.  Fill a food processor bowl with the spinach, chickpeas, nuts and peanut butter.  Dot the latter around the mixture so help distribute it.  Blitz until roughly chopped.  Just enough to that the mixture will hold together in the quenelles, but with a few lumps left for texture.  Place mixture in a large bowl.
3.  Finely slice the onions and chop the garlic.  Add to the mixture in the bowl.
4.  Place bread in processor and turn into breadcrumbs.  Add the dried spices and seasoning to the crumbs as this helps to distribute them evenly.  This time I used turmeric, smoked paprika, ground cumin and chilli flakes.
5.  Add crumbs and spices to the spinach and mix well.
6.  Add the beaten egg and mix.  The ingredients should start to hold together and shaping them will complete the task.
7.  Using two dessertspoons, shape the mixture into quenelles.  I find it is less messy than using my hands to make them into balls! :)
8.  Place on a lined baking tray and bake for approximately 12 minutes.

Any leftovers can be chilled and frozen.  To use, I bake from frozen covered with foil, at 190'C for 10-12 minutes.

Vegetarian Lasagna

I make my lasagna with either Puy lentils or vegetables; mainly a mixture of whatever is to hand!  I have been asked for the recipe, but as I don't usually measure the ingredients I feel that this is a little too rudimentary to be called a recipe.  All amounts are guesstimates as I go by the feel of the mixture rather than measuring everything.  This makes four servings.  
For the Puy lentil version you will need 250g of lentils pre-cooked as per the instructions on the packet.  I often cook the whole box full and then use the other half for a shepherdess-style pie.
For the vegetable version you will need one of the following:- courgettes, butternut squash, mushrooms or anything that you fancy.  Broccoli also works in this recipe. Chop to bite-sized pieces.
For both versions you will need:-

For the Base
Olive Oil
1 large onion, sliced
1 sweet pepper - red, orange or yellow, chopped
3 cloves of garlic, chopped or crushed
herbs - de Provence, Italian or your own mix
500g passata

For the Sauce
1 heaped tbsp butter
2 heaped tbsps plain flour
0.5l milk
80g mature Cheddar, grated
optional - 0.5 tsp mustard powder or a few drops of Worcestershire sauce

Lasagna sheets that don't need pre-cooking
50g mature Cheddar, grated for the topping

Frying-pan.  Pyrex basin.  Oven-proof dish.

1.  Pre-heat oven to 190'C (if you have roasted your vegetables the oven will already be hot).
2. For the lentil version - Drain your pre-cooked Puy lentils.
For the vegetable version - Either roast your vegetable of choose or add to the pan to fry in stage 2.
3.  In a pan, heat oil and gently shallow fry the onions and pepper until soft.  Add the herbs.  If using courgettes or mushrooms I also add these to the pan.  Butternut squash I tend to roast.  As vegetables soften add the garlic.  Season when cooked and remove from the heat.
4. For the lentil version - Add the pre-cooked lentils to the onion mixture.
For the vegetable version - add any roasted vegetables to the onion mixture.  If vegetables are already in with the onions then you are ready for the next stage! :)  It may seem that there is a lot of passata, but the mixture dries up a little in the oven.
Both versions are now the same.
5.  Stir the passata into the lentil/vegetable mixture and set aside.
6.  We like cheese sauce in our lasagna!  You could omit the cheese and make a white sauce if you prefer.  I make my sauce in the microwave - 800w on high.  In a Pyrex bowl, melt the butter for approx. 10 seconds.  Stir in the flour and mustard powder if using.  Cook for 10 seconds.  Very gradually, stir in the milk.  Once you have a smooth paste, swap your spoon for a whisk and continue to add the remainder of the milk.  Cook for 1 minute, then stir.  Repeat this until the mixture is thickened.  The aim is for a thick sauce, thicker than usual so that it doesn't run in the lasagna.  Add the cheese and cook for a further minute or two.  Season with pepper.  If using Worcestershire sauce add it now.
7.  You now have all the ingredients ready and can begin assembling the lasagna.  Lightly oil your ovenproof dish (I bake mine in two dishes simply because that is what I have).
8.  Starting with a layer of the lentil/vegetable mixture, spread a thin layer at the bottom of the dish.  Place lasagna sheets on the mixture and spread a thin layer of cheese sauce over the pasta sheet.  Continue building up the layers and finish with a layer of the cheese sauce and the grated cheese reserved for the topping. 
9.  Bake at 190'C for approximately 20 minutes.