Saturday, 17 November 2012

Gigantes plaki (BBC version)

Recipe from BBC good food magazine sept 2009.

400g dried butter beans
3 tbsp Greek extra virgin olive oil , plus more to serve
1 Spanish onion , finely chopped
2 garlic cloves , finely chopped
2 tbsp tomato purée
800g ripe tomatoes , skins removed, roughly chopped (or use 2 tins of tomatoes)
1 tsp sugar
1 tsp dried oregano
pinch ground cinnamon
2 tbsp chopped flat-leaf parsley , plus extra to serve

  1. Soak the beans overnight in plenty of water. Drain, rinse, then place in a pan covered with water. Bring to the boil, reduce the heat, then simmer for approx 50 mins until slightly tender but not soft. Drain, then set aside.
  2. Heat oven to 180C/160C fan/gas 4. Heat the olive oil in a large frying pan, tip in the onion and garlic, then cook over a medium heat for 10 mins until softened but not browned. Add the tomato purée, cook for a further min, add remaining ingredients, then simmer for 2-3 mins. Season generously, then stir in the beans. Tip into a large ovenproof dish, then bake for approximately 1 hr, uncovered and without stirring, until the beans are tender. The beans will absorb all the fabulous flavours and the sauce will thicken. Allow to cool, then scatter with parsley and drizzle with a little more olive oil to serve.

Rybízová buchta s drobenkou

"Buchta" is a traditional czech cake. It can be made with any fruit, therefore simply substitute the redcurrants in this recipe for whatever fruit you happen to have. You can also leave out the fruit and put something else in to liven up the cake. It comes out something like apricot slice & similar.

For the buchta base:

150 g butter
2 cups plain (polohrubá) flour (this is slightly coarse milled: use half strong flour if you have it, half normal)
1 cup caster sugar (vanilla if poss)
1 sachet vanilla sugar OR few drops vanilla essence (or just use vanilla sugar) 
2 eggs 
1.5 cups plain yogurt
1 sachet / 2 tsp baking powder

For the topping:
Some fruit (in this case, around 1/2 lb redcurrants, but any fruit will do, peeled/chopped if necessary)
Some "drobenka" (crumble) created as follows: 
  • Mix 2 -3 tablespoons icing sugar (caster sugar is ok too if you haven't got icing sugar. Vanilla sugar ideal, or add a little vanilla essence) together with 3-4 tablespoons plain (hrubá) flour (use strong flour if you have it, or semolina). 
  • Melt 1 - 2 tablespoons butter and add this to the flour/sugar mix. With a spoon or your fingers work butter into the flour to create crumble effect. 
  • You might need more than this - increase in the same relative quantities. 
  1. Prepare the fruit (wash & drain, peel/chop or detach berries from their stalks). Prepare the crumble topping as above. 
  2. Preheat the oven to 170C and grease a fairly shallow cake tin (square is best) approx 8 inches across.
  3. Mix together butter, flour, sugar and vanilla sugar, then add the yogurt, eggs and baking powder, and mix well. 
  4. Spread the mixture evenly in the tin, then add a good layer of fruit on the top, and finally sprinkle liberally with the "crumble" topping. 
  5. Bake until golden. Cool in the tin for a few minutes, then cut into squares.

Honey and walnut cookies (can be dairy free)

adapted from a recipe at

It is ok if quantities are a bit approximate, as long as proportions are roughly the same.

1 cup plain flour
1 tsp baking powder
1/2 tsp bicarb of soda
1/4 tsp salt
1/4 cup light brown sugar
1/4 cup vegetable/sunflower oil (I think melted butter would do, too)
1/3 cup honey
1 tsp vanilla extract (or just use vanilla sugar)
1/3 cup chopped walnuts

Preheat the oven to 180C and grease a large baking sheet.

Mix together flour, baking powder, baking soda, salt and sugar.
In a separate small bowl, whisk together the oil (or butter), honey and vanilla extract (if applicable). Pour this into the flour mixture and stir. Add the walnuts and stir briefly so that the walnuts are well distributed in the cookie dough.
Using your fingers, shape the dough into 12 balls (approx 1-inch diameter) and place onto the baking sheet, well apart because they will spread. Flatten the top of the balls slightly.

Bake for 10 minutes, until cookies are lightly browned around the edges.
Cool on the baking sheet for 2-3 minutes, then transfer to a rack.

Eat within a few days otherwise they will go a bit chewy.

Walnut shortbread

Recipe from Delia online

2 oz (50 g) walnut pieces
4 oz (110 g) salted butter, at room temperature
2 oz (50 g) caster sugar
6 oz (175 g) plain flour, sifted, plus a little extra for dusting
2 oz (50 g) rice flour
a little icing sugar for dusting

The first thing you need to do is grind the walnuts, which you can do very carefully using the 'pulse' switch on a food processor (if this is overdone, the nuts go pasty and oily). Otherwise, a hand-held nut grinder will do the job.

To make the shortbread, place the butter and sugar in a large mixing bowl and cream them together until pale and fluffy. Then mix the sifted flour and rice flour together and gradually work this into the creamed mixture, a tablespoonful at a time. Next, add the ground walnuts and use your hands to form the mixture into a smooth dough. Leave the dough to rest in a plastic food bag in the fridge for 30 minutes, then roll it out on a lightly floured work surface to a round approximately 8 inches (20 cm) in diameter.

Now, using the 1¾ inch (4.5 cm) cutter, cut out approximately 20 rounds, re-rolling the trimmings. Place them on the lightly greased baking sheet and bake in the oven for 45 minutes. Cool them for 5 minutes before transferring to a wire rack. When completely cool, dust them with icing sugar and store in an airtight container.

Winnie the Pooh's chocolate pudding (=blancmange)

(For chocolate sauce for puddings, reduce the amount of cornflour to one tbsp per half pint. You may prefer that proportion for the blancmange too.)

Serves 4


3 rounded tablespoons of cornflour (One tbsp = 1/2 oz)
2 rounded tbsp cocoa powder (One tbsp = 1/2 oz)
3 rounded tbsp granulated sugar (One tbsp = 1/2 oz)
1 pt (or half a litre) of milk
A few drops of real vanilla essence (or use vanilla sugar)
Chopped walnuts etc for decoration (optional)
  1. Put the cornflour and cocoa in the bottom of a measuring jug.
  2. Add a little of the milk and create a thick paste. Stir till the dry ingredients are smooth and thick, with no dry bits.
  3. Add a bit more of the milk and stir again till there are no lumps.
  4. Add about half the milk, so that you have a good wet mixture to pour.
  5. Pour the mixture into a 2 pt non-stick saucepan. 
  6. Add the rest of the milk.
  7. Put over a low to moderate heat and start heating it up.
  8. Add all the sugar.
  9. Stir carefully to keep it from sticking on the bottom. If it's sticking or turning too quickly for you to keep up, turn down the heat. If it's doing nothing turn up the heat.
  10. It will thicken and then boil. Allow it to boil for about three minutes or so.
  11. Draw the pan off the heat and stir in the vanilla essence.
  12. Pour the mixture into a large bowl, or small glass dishes, or a lightly oiled jelly mould.
  13. If serving in dishes, decorate the top with walnuts or other sprinkles.
  14. If using a jelly mould, allow to cool until it is firm. Then gently pull the edges away from the mould with your fingers at the top surface; place a large plate upside down over the mould; invert the whole thing, without dropping either the plate or the pudding. Put the plate down on a table. If the pudding doesn't drop out of the mould, lift the mould a bit and coax the pudding out with your fingers, by letting the air in at one side till it flops out.

Thursday, 15 November 2012

Gluten free parsnip apple and orange pecan cake

Recipe from the Open University.

For the cake:
175g butter
200g light soft brown sugar
100g golden syrup
3 eggs
250g gluten free self raising flour
2 tsp gluten free baking powder
2 tsp mixed spice
250g parsnips
125g eating apples
50g pecan nuts (or walnuts)
1 orange, zest and juice

For the Maple mascarpone frosting
250g mascarpone cheese
2 tbsp maple syrup
3-4 tbsp milk

Heat the oven to 180ºC/gas mark 4.

Grease and line two 20cm sandwich tins.

Melt the butter, sugar and golden syrup together in a large pan over low heat, stirring occasionally until the sugar has dissolved. Set aside to cool for 10 minutes.
Place the mascarpone in a bowl and leave for 15 minutes to warm to room temperature. Add the maple syrup and beat together until well incorporated. Add enough milk so that you achieve a thick, yet spreadable consistency. Place one cake layer on a serving plate and place spoonfuls of the frosting over the surface. Use a knife to spread the frosting out into an even layer, right to the edges of the cake. Top with the second cake layer and dust the top lightly with icing sugar.
Serve in generous slices. Even better the next day...

Meanwhile, peel the parsnips and coarsely grate them along with the apple (you can leave the skin on but remove the core). Roughly chop the pecans and finely grate the zest from the orange. Using a large spatula, whisk the eggs into the melted sugar mixture, then stir in the flour, baking powder and mixed spice. Add the parsnip, apple, pecans and orange zest. Squeeze in the juice from the zested orange and mix well. Divide the batter between the tins (they will be quite full) and bake for 25-30 minutes until golden brown and the tops spring back when pressed lightly. Allow to cool in the tins for 10 minutes before turning out onto wire racks to cool completely.

Saturday, 3 November 2012

Cocoa and oatmeal crunchy biscuits

These are scrumptious and quick to make.

4oz /100g butter
3oz /75g sugar (vanilla sugar is good)
4oz/100g plain flour
1oz/25g cocoa powder
Vanilla essence (if not using vanilla sugar)
1oz/25g medium oatmeal (if you don't have oatmeal, you can use rolled oats chopped finely in a whizzy machine)

Cream butter and sugar, add flour, cocoa, oatmeal and vanilla and mix well with wooden spoon until you get a smooth, stiff dough.

Roll it out on a floured surface to about 1/4 inch thick, and cut out small/medium size shapes (approx 1 to 2 inch diameter). Put these on a greased baking sheet and bake at 180ºC / mark 4, for 10 mins. When out of the oven leave for a minute or two on the baking sheet and once they've hardened up a bit transfer to cooling rack.