As I chopped these ingredients to make a soup I decided they would make a delicious pastie instead! Serve with some Persian feta and leafy green salad.

Makes 4-6 pasties

Ingredients:

for the pastry –

250g plain flour
1 1/2 teaspoons baking powder
1/2 teaspoon bicarbonate of soda
125g cold butter, cubed
iced water

for the filling –

1/2 teaspoon cumin seeds
1/2 teaspoon fennel seeds
extra virgin olive oil
1 brown onion, finely chopped
2 cloves garlic, crushed
1 carrot, finely chopped
500g butternut pumpkin, peeled, seeded and cut into 1.5cm cubes
250g dried small green lentils
1 sprig thyme
1 bay leaf

Method:

To make the pastry, Place the cumin and fennel seeds in a small frying pan and stir over a low heat until fragrant. Cool and finely chop with a knife.

To make the filling, rinse the lentils and put in a saucepan covered with water. Simmer for 20 minutes, or until lentils are cooked (make sure they aren’t too soft). Drain and set aside.

Heat oil in a large sauce pan over a medium heat. Add onion, carrot, garlic, bay leaf, thyme and pumpkin and the spice mixture and cook, stirring frequently, until the vegetables soften slightly.

Remove the thyme stalks and bay leaf. Add the lentils to the vegetables and mix gently to combine. Season to taste.

Divide the pastry into 4-6 round discs and roll our roughly. Put a good few spoonfuls of the vegetable and lentil mixture into one half of the pastry. Brush the edge with a little beaten egg and fold the pastry over so you encase the filling. Crimp the rimmed edge by pinching it together. Repeat the process with the remaining pastry discs and filling.

Put the pasties on a tray lined with baking paper. Brush with beaten egg and cook in the oven for 20 minutes.

Drizzle with Persian feta or home made chutney and serve with a green salad.

Incredibly easy these Masterchef cupcakes are light and fluffy. The orange flavour is subtle and delicate so even the children will like them!

Makes 12 cupcakes

Ingredients:

1 1/2 cups self-raising flour, sifted
1 cup caster sugar
125g unsalted butter, softened and chopped
2 tsp vanilla extract
1 orange, zested
2 eggs
2 tbsp milk
Silver balls and Smarties (optional), to decorate

for the cream cheese icing –

125g unsalted butter, softened and chopped
250g cream cheese, softened and chopped
1 orange, zested
2 cups icing sugar, sifted

Method:

Preheat oven to 180C. Line a 12-hole muffin pan with 12 paper cases.

Using an electric mixer, beat flour, sugar, butter, vanilla, orange zest, eggs and milk on low speed until combined.

Increase speed to medium-high and beat for a further 5 minutes or until light and fluffy.

Divide batter among paper cases and bake for 20 minutes or until golden and a skewer inserted into the centre comes out clean.

Stand for 5 minutes, then transfer to a wire rack to cool completely.

To make cream cheese icing –

Using an electric mixer, beat butter, cheese and orange zest until pale and doubled in volume, then, while beating, gradually add sugar.

If icing is a little soft, refrigerate for 15 minutes to firm. Spread on icing; decorate with balls and Smarties.

A cross between a tart and a pie, another Susie Theodorou recipe. The lemon curd filling can be made the 2-3 days before and stored in the fridge until ready to use.

Serves 8

Ingredients:

for the filling –

finely grated rind and juice of 4 lemons
9 medium eggs
350g (1 1/2 cups) caster sugar
250ml (1 cup) double (thick) cream

for the pastry –

300g (2 3/4 cups) plain flour
1 teaspoon baking powder
100g (1/2 cup) unsalted butter
115g (1/2 cup) caster sugar
25g (2 tablspoons) vanilla sugar
2 small eggs, beaten
2 tablespoons water

to finish –

1 large egg yolk
2 tablespoons milk
3 tablespoons pine nuts
icing sugar to dust

Method:

Preheat the oven to 180C.

Start by making the filling. Put all the ingredients in a large heatproof bowl set over a pan of simmering water. Cook for 1 hour, stirring frequently until thick. Remove the bowl from the pan and allow to cool. (Nb. you can strain the curd if a little lumpy or stringy)

For the pastry, sift the flour, and baking powder into a bowl. Rub in the butter (or use a food processor) until the mixture resembles fine breadcrumbs. Stir in the caster sugar and vanilla sugar.  Mix the eggs with the water, then combine them with the dry ingredients until large clumps form. Bring the mixture together with your hand, to form a dough. Knead gently for 1-2 minutes on a lightly floured surface until smooth. Press to a thick disc, cover with cling film, and chill for 30 minutes.

Roll out two-thirds of the pastry and use to line a lightly greased 23cm fluted, loose-based tart tin 3.5cm deep. Spoon in and spread the filling. Roll out the remaining pastry and use to cover the filling, pressing the edges to seal.

Beat the egg yolk with the milk and brush over the pastry top. Sprinkle over the pine nuts. Bake for 40 minutes until well risen and golden brown. Dust with icing sugar and leave to cool completely for the filling to set.

A Susie Theodorou recipe, these muffins are perfect for brunch or lunch with a green salad. Or mini muffins topped with marinated goats cheese make yummy nibbles for a party.

Makes 10 muffins (or about 30 mini muffins)

Ingredients:

2 tablespoons olive oil
1 teaspoon black and white (yellow) mustard seeds
3 large Spanish onions, peeled and sliced into fine wedges
knob of butter
salt and freshly ground black pepper
250g (2 1/4 cups) plain flour
2 teaspoons baking powder
1/2 teaspoon bicarbonate of soda
a pinch of salt
2 tablespoons clear honey
1 large egg, lightly beaten
200ml (3/4 cup) buttermilk

Method:

Preheat the oven to 180C.

Heat the oil in a large frying pan, then add the mustard seeds and cook for 30 seconds until the seeds start to pop.

Quickly stir in the onions, then reduce the heat and allow the onions to cook gently for about 25-30 minutes, stirring every now and again until caramelised.  Away from the heat, stir in the butter and season to taste. Set aside the onions to cool.

Put paper muffin cases in 10 holes of a standard-sized muffin tray.

Sift the flour, baking powder, bicarbonate of soda and pinch of salt into a large bowl. Reserve 2 tablespoons of the onions. Stir the remaining onions and honey into the flour mixture, followed by the egg and buttermilk – the batter should still be quite lumpy.

Spoon into the prepared cases (only about two-thirds of the way up). Top with the reserved caramelised onions.

Bake for 20-25 minutes until the muffins are well risen and golden. Cool slightly before serving.

Spaghetti puttanesca

April 25, 2011

Another ’30 Minute Meal’ from Jamie Oliver, this puttanesca sauce is great because you can vary it to your liking or if you haven’t certain ingredients in your store cupboard.

Serves 4

Ingredients:

500g dried spaghetti
1 x 225g tin of tuna in olive oil
1 x 30g tin of anchovies in olive oil
2 cloves of garlic
1 tbs capers, drained
1-2 fresh red chillies
1 700g jar of passata or 2 400g tins of tomatoes
a small bunch of fresh flat leaf parsley
handful of pitted black olives
ground cinnamon
1 lemon

Method:

Place a large frying pan on a low heat and fill a saucepan with the boiled water and a pinch of salt.

Put the spaghetti into the saucepan and cook it according to the instructions on the packet. Pour the oil from the tuna into the frying pan, keeping the tuna in the tin. Crush in 2 unpeeled cloves of garlic and add the capers, anchovies and their oil.

Finely chop the chillies and parsley stalks and add them to the pan.

Roughly chop the parsley leaves and put them to one side. Cook for 2 minutes, stirring well, then add the tuna, breaking it up as you go and the black olives. Stir in a large pinch of ground cinnamon and the passata or tinned tomatoes.

Once the pasta is cooked, drain it and reserve some of the water. Add the pasta to the frying pan, then squeeze over the juice of a lemon, drizzle with extra virgin olive oil and add most of the parsley, mixing well. If the sauce feels very thick add some of the reserved spaghetti water to loosen it up. Pour the spaghetti into a large bowl and finish with the remaining parsley.

Sausage rolls

April 25, 2011

Yummy for a cool Autumn lunch or perfect party food, this Masterchef recipe is delicious, even with the ‘hidden’ vegetables!

Ingredients:

1 tbs unsalted butter
1 large carrot, peeled, grated
1 tbs olive oil
1 small brown onion, finely chopped
4 thyme sprigs
1 bay leaf
2 garlic cloves, crushed
350g beef mince
350g pork mince
1 tbs wild oregano
2 cups fresh breadcrumbs
2 x 375g packers Careme frozen puff pastry, thawed, halved
3 egg yolks, lightly whisked
Poppy and sesame seeds, to garnish
tomato or BBQ sauce, to serve

Method:

Preheat oven to 180°C.

Heat butter in a saucepan over medium heat, add grated carrot and cook for until carrot starts to soften. Cover with a lid and cook for 4-5 minutes until very soft. Puree carrot mixture in a blender until smooth (or mash with a fork for slightly lumpier version). Season to taste. Set aside to cool completely.

Heat oil in frying pan over medium-high heat, then add onion, thyme, bay leaf, garlic and a pinch of salt. Cook for 4-6 minutes or until onion has softened. Remove thyme sprigs and bay leaf and set aside to cool completely.

Combine minces, ¼ cup of the carrot puree, oregano, onion mixture and breadcrumbs in a large bowl. Season with salt. Divide the mince mixture into 4 portions and shape into a 25cm log. Place pastry sheet onto a floured work surface and roll to about 4mm thick. Slice each pastry sheet in half lengthways. Place the sausage log across the closest edge of a pastry sheet. Roll to enclose mixture until the two edges of the pastry meet, trim and discard excess pastry. Brush a little egg wash on the join to secure.

Place sausage rolls on a lined baking rack, brush with egg wash and sprinkle evenly with seeds. Repeat with remaining pastry. Cook in the oven for about 20 minutes or until golden and cooked through.

Slice rolls on an angle, about 2cm wide. Serve with either tomato or BBQ sauce.

Apple and quince pie

April 24, 2011

My adaptation of Nigel Slater’s apple pie with blackberries. Quince adds a delicious depth of flavour. You will need a traditional oval 2-litre pie dish that measures about 32cm in length.

Serves 6-8.

Ingredients:

250g plain flour
150g butter, cold from the fridge
ice-cold water

For the filling:

6 large Granny Smith or other apples
1 quince
sugar to taste

double cream to serve

Put the flour into a large mixing bowl with a small pinch of salt. Cut the butter into small chunks and rub into the flour with your thumbs and fingertips (or you could do it in the food processor).  To bring the mixture to a rollable dough, add a little ice-cold water. Start with a tablespoonful, adding it gingerly (too much is difficult to correct) and draw the dough in from the sides to form a ball. You may need a couple. You are looking for a dough that is firm enough to roll but soft enough to demand careful lifting. Wrap in cling film and set aside in the fridge for 30 minutes.

Set the oven at 200 C. Peel, core and quarter the apples, cutting them into thick slices or chunks, then put them into the pie dish. Peel, core and slice the quince and add to the apples. Sprinkle with sugar to taste.

Roll the pastry out to fit the top of the dish. You want enough extra pastry around the edge to be able to cut off and cover the rim of the dish. The simplest way to do this is to turn the dish upside down on the pastry and score around the top, then score a second line around the outside as wide as the rim.

Wet the rim of the pie dish – water will do – then fix the outer rim of pastry to it, cutting and pasting to fit. Wet it with water or egg. Lift the pastry on to the pie, pressing the edge firmly on to the pastry rim. Crimp it to seal with your thumb and first finger, or by pressing down with the prongs of a fork.

Cut two or three short slits in the centre of the pastry to let out any steam. Brush with a little milk and dust with caster sugar.

Bake the pie for 40-50 minutes, until the pastry is crisp and pale gold, covering it as needs be to stop it browning.