Blueberry muffin cakes

This recipe was adapted from a recipe in A Taste of Oregon. It went down well with my new housemates! To stop the mixture from curdling, make sure that all your ingredients are at room temperature before you start cooking.

Beat together 1/4 cup margerine and 1/3 cup sugar until well combined and fluffy-looking. Beat in 1 egg until well combined. Sift together 1 1/4 cup flour, 1 1/4 tsp baking powder, 1/4 tsp salt, 1/4 tsp nutmeg and 1/2 tsp cinnamon, then add to the wet mixture and combine. Slowly mix in 1/3 cup milk then fold in 1 200g pack of blueberries. If using paper cupcake cases, grease them with a little margerine (silicone cases won’t need greasing) and fill almost to the top with the mixture. Bake at 220°C for 5 minutes to create a rounded muffin-top, then turn the oven down to 180°C and bake for a further 15-20 minutes, or until a knife comes out of the centre of a muffin clean. The muffins will keep for several days in an airtight container.

 

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Sautéed potatoes with celeriac and kale

This is based on a Nigel Slater recipe, with some of the fancier ingredients taken out and whatever I had leftover from my veg bag thrown in. Serves 1 as a main or 2 as a side and is best eaten straight from the pan.

Slice 1 medium onion into strips. Very finely slice (as thin as you possibly can) 1-2 cloves garlic, 2-3 small potatoes and a fist-sized chunk of celeriac. Heat a generous spoonful of oil in a non-stick frying pan over a high heat; when a haze begins to form over the oil, drop in the onion. Fry for ~5 minutes, then add the potato, celeriac and garlic. Continue to fry, turning regularly, for another 10 minutes or so, allowing the onion to caramelise and the potato and celeriac to brown on both sides. Add a large handful of roughly chopped kale (I used curly kale, about 3-4 leaves), 1 tbsp soy sauce or 1tsp miso paste mixed with a little hot water, a heaped tbsp of peanut butter, and a sprinkle of powdered ginger (or you can use fresh grated ginger). Mix thoroughly, continuing to cook until the kale has cooked down, the other vegetables are well browned and the potato is easily cut with a knife. Serve immediately.

Variations:

  • The celeriac can be replaced by any other root vegetable and the kale with any other leafy green, although spinach or chard will probably take less time to cook down.

Sweet chickpea tagine

How much this constitutes a tagine I’m not sure given how many ingredients I substituted from the original recipe, which was for a fish tagine. Serves 3 with bulgar wheat or naan, or 2 alone; reheats well the next day.

Melt ~1 tbsp butter in a heavy bottomed saucepan and caramelise 3-4 stalks celery, diced, and 3 cloves garlic, finely chopped. Add 1 tsp curry powder, 1 tsp garam masala, 1 tsp turmeric, 1/2 tsp cumin seeds, 1/2 tsp coriander seeds, 1/2 tsp ground ginger and a pinch of chilli flakes to taste, coating the celery and garlic thoroughly. Add 1/2 plantain, 1 apple, 1/2 courgette and 1/2 mango, all diced into 1 cm cubes and cook, stirring continuously, until the pan begins to smoke. Add 1 400g can chopped tomatoes, 1/2 can water and 1 tsp stock powder. Bring to the boil, then reduce to a low heat, cover, and leave for 20-30 minutes, stirring occasionally, until most of the liquid has reduced. If the tagine is still a little sour, add 1 tsp brown sugar. Stir in 1 400g can chickpeas and cook for another 5 minutes, then serve.

Soda Dumplings

Traditionally dumplings are made with suet, but since I didn’t have any I modified a soda bread recipe to make these, which I can make with cupboard ingredients I always have to hand.

Sift about 150g plain flour, 3/4 tsp baking powder and 1/2 tsp salt into a bowl; add generous black pepper and herbs of your choice (I use about 1/2 tsp each of sage and rosemary). Thoroughly mix in 2 tbsp oil or melted butter, until the mixture resembles breadcrumbs. Slowly pour in about 150 ml milk, stirring thoroughly, until the dough holds together and comes away from the side of the bowl, but before it gets too wet. Add more sifted flour if it’s very sticky. Break off palm-sized pieces of dough and roll them into balls – depending on the size of the dumplings you can get between 6 and 8 from this recipe. Drop into a covered casserole or soup 15-20 minutes before the end of its cooking time.

Quick potato curry

Any mixture of vegetables could be used in place of cabbage and broccoli here. If you want to add meat, it’s best to cook it through first, then remove it from the pan to make up the rest of the curry, adding the meat back in at the very end – this helps to avoid having under or overcooked meat. Vary the amount and strength of the curry powder to your personal taste.

Fry 1/2 onion, diced, and 2 cloves garlic, finely sliced, in a little oil until golden brown. Add 1 small potato, peeled and chopped into 1cm cubes, a handful of red cabbage, finely sliced, and a handful of purple sprouting broccoli, roughly chopped along the stem; fry over a medium heat until the broccoli leaves have wilted. Coat in 1/2 tsp coriander seed (ground or whole), 1/2 tsp cumin seed (ground or whole), 1 heaped tsp curry powder, then add 2 heaped tbsp gram (chickpea) flour and 2 heaped tbsp peanut butter. Fry for a few minutes, then slowly add approx. 1 cup of water, stirring into the mixture as you go, until the potato cubes are covered by liquid. Cook on a low heat for about 10 minutes, or until the potato is cooked through and the liquid has reduced to a thick sauce. Serves 1 alone or 2 with naan.

Chinese style fried cabbage

Adapted from an old book of Chinese recipes a friend found for me in a charity shop. Any kind of cabbage can be used; I’d recommend at least two types for the variety. Hard cabbage like white or red should be added with the onion; soft leaves such as savoy, Chinese leaves or pak choi should be added later. Like a lot of hot-and-fast cooking, this can get smoky, so open a window or turn on the extractor fan if you have one.

In a small bowl, mix together 1/2 tbsp brown sugar, 1 tbsp white wine vinegar, 1/2 tsp soy sauce and a pinch of cayenne pepper. Finely slice 1 onion, 1/2 small red cabbage and 1/2 small savoy cabbage. Heat a spoonful of oil in a non-stick pan over a high heat until a haze develops over the oil. Add the onion and red cabbage to the pan and fry, stirring continuously, until the onion becomes translucent. Add the savoy cabbage and fry for 2-3 minutes, again stirring continuously, until the savoy cabbage begins to brown. Stir in the sauce mixture, stir to coat, and take off the heat. Serve with rice and a protein component of your choice.

Serves 2 generously.

Poached Asian Pear

In a saucepan, mix together 1 cup water, 1/2 cup brown sugar, 1 tsp lemon or lime juice, 1 1/2 tsp ground ginger (or 1 tsp grated fresh ginger), 1/2 tsp cinnamon and 5 cardamom pods. Bring to the boil and add 1 Asian pear, halved, cored and cut into ~2 mm thick slices. Simmer for 5-10 minutes, or until the pear slices have softened. Strain and serve alone or with ice cream.

This recipe could easily be used for ordinary apples or pears – apples will need a little longer to cook, pears will need a little less time. Two apples or pears would probably be equivalent to one Asian pear in size.

Mushroom “stroganoff”

Probably a stroganoff by name only; adapted from an old recipe card that I think came out of a magazine. I wanted to make a creamy dish without actually using cream, because I can never get through an entire carton before it goes off.

Boil 1/3 cup bulgar wheat in ample water with a pinch of salt for 10 minutes, or until light and fluffy, then drain. Meanwhile, sauté 1/2 an onion, finely diced, and 1-2 cloves garlic, sliced thinly, in about 1 tbsp oil until translucent. Add 6 medium mushrooms, thinly sliced, and 1/3 cup frozen or canned sweetcorn. Fry for 1-2 minutes or until the mushroom is beginning to brown, stir in 1 tbsp plain flour, then add 1/3 cup strong vegetable stock and 1/2 tbsp light tahini. Bring to the boil, stirring, then simmer until the sauce is thick (this shouldn’t take more than 2-3 minutes). Season with generous black pepper and serve over the bulgar wheat.

Serves 1

 

Mother’s potato cake

Adapted from a recipe in an Oregon cookbook given to me by my friend Rebecca. There’s no explanation given as to why it’s “mother’s” potato cake…

Preheat the oven to 180°C. Peel and dice 1 medium potato and boil in lightly salted water for 15 minutes or until well cooked. Drain, rinse with cold water, and mash thoroughly. Pack 1 cup with the mashed potato and eat the rest while you make the cake. Cream together 2/3 cup sugar and 75g (1/3 cup) butter, then mix in 2 eggs. Having all the ingredients at room temperature helps to prevent curdling. Add the mashed potato, 1/4 cup cocoa powder and 1/4 cup milk, stirring thoroughly. Sift into another bowl 1 cup flour, 1 tsp baking powder, 1 tsp cinnamon, 1 tsp nutmeg and 1/4 tsp salt. Gently blend the wet and dry ingredients, then pour into a greased cake pan and bake for 40 minutes to an hour, until cooked through but still slightly squidgy.

Keeps in an airtight container for a few days. You can also use instant mashed potato.

Kidney bean and soya chilli

Soya (TVP) chunks aren’t particularly cheap or easy to get hold of, which is a shame because they’re a fantastic ingredient – shelf stable, adaptable, and really easy to cook (I’m lucky enough to have a cheap supply  close to home). If you don’t have access to soya chunks you can use a meat of your choice, quorn, or firm tofu.

I owe it to my friend Sam for revealing the secret ingredients of a really good chilli – instant coffee and cocoa powder.

Thoroughly rinse 1 400g can kidney beans (you can soak them in water with a few spoonfuls of baking soda to reduce problems with wind). Preheat the oven to 180°C. If you have an oven safe saucepan or stovetop safe casserole dish, use that for cooking – if not, cook in a saucepan and transfer to a casserole dish. Fry 1/2 onion, sliced, and 2 large cloves garlic, sliced, in a spoonful of oil until golden. While the onion is cooking, rehydrate half a cup of soya chunks using boiling water, leaving to soak while you cook the vegetables. Add to the dish 1 small sweet potato, diced into 1cm chunks, and 1/4 red cabbage, also diced. Once the sweet potato is beginning to brown, drain off the soya chunks and kidney beans and add them to the dish with 1 400g can chopped tomatoes, 1 tbsp smoked paprika, 1 tsp instant coffee powder, 1 tsp cocoa powder and a pinch of chilli flakes. Refill the tomato can with hot water and stir in 1 tsp stock powder; pour about half into the chilli and leave the rest aside in case you need it later. Cover the casserole dish (use foil if you don’t have a lid) and cook in the oven for 30-40 minutes, adding more stock if needed, until the liquid has reduced to a thick sauce and the soya chunks are soft to the bite. Five minutes before the end of the cooking time, stir in half a cup of sweetcorn.

Makes 3 portions, keeps in the fridge for a few days. Can be eaten hot or cold.