Welcome to my blog! I am a fourth year sciences student who loves to cook but if you wanted to know about me, you would have visited the about tag!
This blog is designed for students and those who are less comfortable in the kitchen. It will be linked to the British academic year of September through to July and will consist of weekly updates of recipes. The content will be split into two halves, there will be “Cooking From Basics” as well as a Baking section.
Cooking From Basics will follow the academic year and aims to teach skills in the kitchen. It will start off with simple meals requiring little effort and will progress to teaching new techniques as the year goes on. As it is aimed at students, I will be providing a cost estimate per portion (based on my local shop’s prices) and also, where possible, I will explain how to make the recipe both vegetarian and possibly vegan!
Baking has been a passion of mine for a long time now. I love the creativity and freedom that comes with it and I always spend far too much time baking than I really should. The baking section of this blog will follow the things that I have been making and will provide recipes and if possible, troubleshooting for them.
I will aim to alternate between the Cooking From Basics and Baking posts but some recipes may just fall into both!
I hope you enjoy the blog and I will be back with your first instalment next week!
Curry powder is a wonderful thing. It makes life a lot easier when you can buy a premixed spice blend to make dinner with but sometimes it just isn’t quite the right ratios for what you are looking for and you have to make it yourself.
Unlike most curry powders, the spice mix I’ve used in this recipe doesn’t contain either pepper or ginger but instead replaces them with tamarind paste giving a slight tang to the curry which goes perfectly with mango chutney. Tamarind paste is one of my favourite ingredients in cooking. It gives sourness to dishes which provides a depth of flavour otherwise lost if you replace the tamarind with lemon or lime juice.
Tamarind grows in pods with a fleshy interior and large flat seeds. The young fruit are very sour and are used in savoury dishes and as a pickling agent owing to the high concentration of tartaric acid in the flesh. As the fruits age and ripen, they become significantly sweeter and start to be used in jam and desserts instead. One of the most eaten dishes which uses tamarind as a primary flavouring is Pad Thai. The sauce uses both tamarind and sugar along with several other seasonings and this mixture of sour and sweet is almost impossible to stop eating.
The recipe below doesn’t use tamarind as a primary ingredient but the addition of it gives the curry sauce a hot and sour flavour which pairs beautifully with a slightly sweeter accompaniment like dahl. The coconut milk gives a creamy, velvety mouth feel to the sauce helping offset the aggressive flavours in the curry without taking away from the taste. Of course depending on how spicy you like your curry, you can add more dried chilli or even fresh chillies during cooking to take your meal from a gentle warming feeling to melt your face off hot. One of the best things about this dish is how quick it is to prepare. The whole thing can be done in about ten minutes. I use a rice cooker at home and I tend to let it finish cooking the rice before I start cooking the salmon for this. The speed of this dish makes it perfect for a weeknight dinner especially if you are getting home late and don’t want to spend ages slaving away over a hot hob.
As always with this kind of meal, you can exchange the salmon for chicken or another choice of meat or fish or even make a tofu or vegetable curry. Just make sure to cook everything first before you add the curry sauce as the sauce cooks very quickly. If you want to cut time even further, you can make up a large batch of curry powder by premixing the spices and just taking a tablespoon as and when you want to make this dish.
Prep time: 5 minutes
Cook time: 10 minutes
Cost per serving: around £2
½ tsp turmeric
½ tsp chilli powder (or more if you like it spicy)
1 tsp tamarind paste
1 tsp ground cumin
1 tsp ground coriander
3 large cloves of garlic – minced
½ tsp salt
200ml coconut milk
2 salmon fillets with the skin removed cut in half width-wise
2 tbsp vegetable oil
Mix the turmeric, chilli powder, cumin, coriander, garlic, salt and tamarind in a bowl with 160ml water (2/3 cup).
Heat the vegetable oil in a large non-stick frying pan until it starts to glisten.
Place the salmon fillets into the pan careful not to get splashed by hot oil. Place the fillets with the side that the skin was on upwards.
Sear the salmon for around four minutes until the underside starts to go golden.
Flip the pieces of salmon and pour in the spice mix. This will bubble a lot so be prepared for a large quantity of steam.
Let the mixture bubble for about two minutes to cook the spices and then add the coconut milk into the pan and stir this through.
Allow the salmon to cook for another few minutes until it is your desired doneness. This takes around three minutes for softer, flakier fish or five minutes for fish that is a little drier.
Serve with rice and your choice of sides. I like to have this with dahl and mango chutney.
I hope you enjoyed the recipe. Salmon is my favourite fish and the more ways I learn how to cook it, the more often I can eat it without getting bored. If you aren’t a fan of curry, my pan seared salmon with lemon cous-cous is also a super quick dish and is probably slightly healthier than this one as it doesn’t have coconut milk in it. It you are looking for something a little bit more on the sweet side, check out how to make yourself a peach galette. It’s a sweet pastry covered which doesn’t require any tins – all you need is a baking tray!
Have a good one and I will be back next week with a recipe filled with chocolatey goodness.
Sometimes you don’t have a dish in which to cook a pie. In situations like this, the galette is a perfect solution. As a freeform pie, it isn’t cooked in a dish or a tart tin giving it a unique and rustic shape. There is no designated pastry for galette but the ones most often used are puff pastry or a pastry made with a mix of plain and whole wheat flour (as given below). Galette can also be used when referring to a large, savoury buckwheat pancake. These originated from the French region of Brittany where they became popular after the discovery that buckwheat would grow well in the poor soil conditions there. These are also known as Breton galette to distinguish them from their pastry counterpart.
One of the problems with an open galette is finding a filling which is sturdy enough to hold up under a long cooking time in a hot oven. This is more of an issue with sweet galettes than savoury. Most berries, as well as apples and other fruits, start to turn to mush when in the oven for too long but peaches are strong enough to hold their shape during the cooking. An open top allows liquids to evaporate but even then, a galette with too much filling can overflow in the oven and the juices can burn. Tomatoes are a popular filling for savoury galettes as they hold their shape during cooking and also come in several colours so you can give your pie a beautiful appearance.
When you come to make a galette, you are presented with two choices with regards to the edges. You can fold and crimp or you can pinch. I am a big fan of folding as I feel that it is less likely to open up in the oven and spill the filling everywhere. Folding requires you to go around the edge folding the excess pastry up towards the centre until the filling is pushing at the outer edges of the tart. You have to be careful not to make the pastry too tight as it can split and you must ensure that the folds overlap to create a barrier to hold in the juices during cooking. The pinching technique involves creating a vertical barrier around the outside of the tart. The pinching itself reduces the length of the pastry to that it is pulled upwards. The finished barrier is created by selecting an area of pastry around the edge and taking a section around two centimetres long and pinching it together. You then proceed to move around the outside of the galette pinching as you go until the barrier is formed.
The recipe below will give you a galette about a foot in diameter or if you would like to make a smaller one, just half the recipe and that will make a galette about eight inches across. This is a particularly good recipe if you like circular patterns – I find them very satisfying to create and I hope that, after this, you will too.
Peach and Blueberry galette
Prep time: 1 hour
Rest time: 1 hour
Cook time: 1 hour
185g plain flour
90g whole wheat flour
225g cold unsalted butter
2 tbsp sugar
¼ tsp salt
2 eggs for the pastry and 1 egg for an egg wash (optional)
1 tbsp milk
40g plain flour
400g caster sugar
1 tsp ground cinnamon
To make the pastry:
Cube the butter and add it to the flour.
Rub the butter into the flour until the mixture starts to resemble breadcrumbs and starts to stick together.
Stir through the salt and the sugar.
In a jug, beat the eggs with the milk until the mix is homogeneous.
Make a well in the centre of the flour mix, pour in the eggs and stir with a blunt knife until combined. The knife will prevent you overworking the dough.
Once the dough starts to come together, pour it out onto a work surface and squeeze it together to form it into a ball. You want to avoid handling the dough more than necessary.
Wrap in clingfilm and place in the fridge for at least an hour.
ALTERNATIVE METHOD – FOOD PROCESSOR
Place the dry ingredients into a food processor and pulse to combine.
Cube the butter and add it in.
Pulse the mix until it resembles fine breadcrumbs
Add the milk and eggs and pulse again until everything starts to come together.
Pour out onto a work surface and quickly knead the mix together until it has combined. The moment it has come together fully, wrap in clingfilm and place in the fridge.
To make the filling:
Quarter the peaches and remove the stones.
Cut each quarter into three wedges and place the cut peaches in a large bowl.
In another bowl, combine the flour, sugar and cinnamon.
Sprinkle half of this over the peaches and gently stir them around.
Toss the peaches in the remaining flour and sugar mix until everything is coated evenly.
Preheat the oven to gas mark 5 (190°C).
Take the pastry out of the fridge.
Roll it out to a 15 inch circle. I find that it is best to place the pastry onto the baking parchment it will be cooked on before rolling it out as that way you don’t have to try and move a very large, fragile dessert.
Starting an inch and a half from the edge, lay the slices of peach in a circle around the pie overlapping them very slightly.
Once the first circle is complete, continue to lay out more slices of peaches inside the first circle and repeat this until the galette is filled. If there is juice left at the bottom of the bowl, do not pour this over the tart as it can cause it to overflow.
Fold up one edge of the pastry over the outside peaches.
Continue to fold up the outside pastry until all the edges are folded in and the galette is ready.
Sprinkle half of the blueberries over the top of the galette.
Slide the baking parchment from your work surface and onto a baking tray.
Brush the outer edges of the galette with the egg wash and sprinkle with a little granulated sugar.
Bake the galette for one hour turning halfway through.
While the galette is baking, make the blueberry coulis.
Place the remaining blueberries into a small pan with a tablespoon of water and cook with the lid on for 5 minutes.
Liquidise the blueberries and pass the resulting mix through a fine sieve to strain out the skins.
Allow the galette to cool for 10 minutes before sliding it onto the serving plate to cool completely.
Serve with whipped cream and the blueberry coulis.
I hope you enjoyed the recipe. If you are looking for a more savoury pastry, check out how to make this hot water crust chicken pie or if you fancy something a little less fruity, why not treat yourself to some chequerboard biscuits.
Have a good one and I will be back next week with a recipe for a delicious fish curry. It’s not too spicy but it’s absolutely packed with flavour.
Golden brown; solid; filled with a tasty meat interior; the hot water crust pie is a British classic. Traditionally stuffed with layers of minced meat surrounded by jelly, hot water crust pies are filling, delicious and, above all else, really simple to make.
Hot water crust is a fantastic gateway into baking pastry as you do not need to worry about overworking the dough. Unlike with shortcrust, where too much handling can lead to a rock-hard result, hot water crust pastry requires kneading to build up the gluten and strengthen the final pie. The hot water partially cooks the flour giving the dough a more rubbery and pliable texture.
The most well-known use for hot water crust pastry is the pork pie. These are normally hand raised – baked without a tin – and packed full of minced pork and seasonings. Hand raising the pies gives an irregular finish and the sides buckle during cooking. The resulting pie has bowed edges and a unique shape. The recipe I am using today is quite different. Whilst it also makes use of the hot water crust’s ability to hold heavy fillings, it is both baked in a tin and not primarily meat based. In fact, the filling is made up of lots of vegetables with a little chicken and instead of pouring gelatine enriched stock into the finished pie, the filling is bound together with a gravy thickened with cornflour.
I like to take slices of this pie for lunch as it is strong enough to not break whilst it is carried around and it also tastes great cold as well as hot. I hope you enjoy the pie and this introduction to hot water crust inspires you to try other meat pies.
Hot Water Crust Chicken Pie
Cook time: 20 minutes for filling, 1 hour for baking
Prep time: 30 minutes
Cost per portion: around 90p (for the pure chicken pie)
For the pastry:
250g butter (or lard if you prefer)
600g plain flour
120g strong white flour (bread flour)
1 tsp salt
½ tsp cayenne pepper
¼ bunch parsley finely chopped
1 tsp garlic powder
1 tsp onion powder
For the filling:
2 chicken breasts – thinly sliced
500g onion – finely diced
4 large cloves garlic – minced
2 large carrots – cut into ½ cm thick semicircles
300ml chicken stock
¼ cup cornflour mixed with ¼ cup water
Salt and pepper to taste
2 tbsp oil
½ tsp smoked paprika
½ tsp cayenne pepper
¼ bunch of parsley finely chopped
125g choritzo/150g bacon
To make the filling, heat the oil in a large pan and add the onion.
Fry until the onion turns translucent and then add both the garlic and the carrots.
Continue to fry for another five minutes and then push the vegetables to the edge of the pan to create a well in the middle.
Add the chicken into the well and fry, stirring regularly until the outside is white and the chicken is sealed.
Pour in the stock and stir it through.
Once the stock is boiling, cook for two minutes and then quickly stir through the cornflour mixture. This will immediately turn very viscous as the cornflour cook but the mix will slacken as you mix in the stock in the pan.
Stir in the parsley, remove from the heat and leave the filling to cool.
Once the filling has mostly cooled (it can still be a little warm), it is time to start the pastry.
Preheat the oven to gas mark 6 (200°C). You can keep the pie uncooked for a few hours if you wish to make it ahead of time.
If you wish to add bacon or choritzo to the pie, chop the choritzo into half centimetre thick half moons or slice the bacon to the desired size.
Place one tablespoon of unflavoured oil into a heavy based saucepan and add the meat.
Fry the meat until most of the fat has rendered out and the choritzo/bacon is starting to go crispy.
Remove the meat from the pan (reserving the fat) and stir it into the filling.
Measure how much fat you have got left.
To make the pastry, place the butter and water into a heavy based pan and heat until the water is boiling. If you have used choritzo or bacon, take the volume of fat in ml away from the weight of the butter in grams and use the fat instead of some of the butter. This will help flavour the pastry.
Stir together the dry ingredients in a large bowl, make a well in the centre and pour in the boiling water.
Using a spoon, mix the dough as much as you can and when it becomes too stiff to mix with a spoon, pour it out onto a surface and kneed the dough together. Don’t worry about overworking it, just be careful not to burn yourself if the pastry is still very hot. A good way to work the dough is to roll it out to about one centimetre thick, fold it into three and repeat this three or four times.
Once the dough has come together, place it to one side and lightly grease a 10” springform tin.
Place a third of dough to one side and roll out the rest to about three quarters of a centimetre thickness. Use this to line the tin ensuring some of the dough is hanging over every edge. If you need to squish down some folds to get a flat outer edge, that is absolutely fine!
Put the filling in the pie and spread it into all the corners. Be careful not to push it through the pastry walls.
Roll out the remaining dough and top the pie with it making sure to seal the edges to the pastry on the sides. Using fingers can give a lovely crimping effect.
Beat the egg and brush a thin layer over the top of the pie. Use any off-cuts to decorate the top and egg wash those too before you bake the pie.
Bake the pie for an hour or until the top is golden brown and the base is cooked through.
Serve with fresh vegetables. You don’t really need potatoes as there should be a decent portion of pie crust in every slice.
This pie keeps really well and can be eaten both hot and cold. It also freezes very well which is perfect if you are cooking it for yourself as it makes a lot of portions.
I hope you enjoyed the recipe. If you fancy a slightly lighter dinner, try treating yourself to some smoked salmon risotto or if you are looking to try out a dessert instead, chequerboard biscuits are an impressive (but surprisingly easy) snack to try.
Have a good one and I will be back next week with a recipe for a fruity dessert.
Biscuits are my Achilles heel when it comes to baking. They always seem to come out too soft or absolutely rock solid. Luckily, this recipe turns out well almost every time; you just have to be patient when letting the dough rest in the fridge – something I struggle with.
Having been around since the Roman era in one form or another, I feel that it is safe to say that biscuits are one of the oldest types of confectionary out there. Because they kept so well without going off, biscuits were very popular on long distance travels both by horse and on ships. These biscuits were made of just water and flour (sometimes with a little salt) and would be baked several times to ensure they were completely dry – the name biscuit arising from the Latin words bis and coquere meaning twice cooked. Often, they would have to be dunked in brine or tea to make them soft enough to eat! This level of dryness always strikes me as impressive because biscuits soften as they get older so the method of storage would have had to be pretty airtight to prevent the food spoiling over a long voyage which is quite an achievement over 2000 years ago.
One of the most interesting things about biscuits is how they age. This is also one of the main differences between a biscuit and a cake: stale cake goes hard but stale biscuits go soft. This distinction was one of the major factors in the McVitie’s vs HMRC case in 1991 in which the nature of the Jaffa cake was discussed in court to determine whether it was a cake or a biscuit. The argument arose because chocolate covered biscuits are charged at 20% VAT while chocolate covered cakes are not. After a lengthy case – in which McVitie’s baked a giant Jaffa cake to try and prove their point – the court ruled in their favour meaning, for tax purposes, Jaffa cakes are considered cakes.
The premise for chequerboard biscuits can be applied to many different designs. This gives you the chance to get creative. Pinwheels, where you place two rolled out colours of dough on top of each other and roll them up, are a classic. I even made music notes a few years ago. The trick is building the design out of one colour before packing around it in another colour and then slicing the dough to reveal the pattern on each biscuit.
Makes: around 30
Prep time: 45 mins
Rest Time: 2hr 30 mins
Cook time: 10 mins
Vanilla Biscuit Dough:
250g butter (room temperature)
125g icing sugar
1 egg (separated)
1 tbsp vanilla extract
Pinch of salt
Chocolate Biscuit Dough:
250g butter (room temperature)
125g icing sugar
1 egg (separated)
1 tbsp vanilla extract
Pinch of salt
To make the vanilla dough:
Beat the butter until it is soft and pale.
Add the icing sugar and the salt and beat until the mix is light and fluffy.
Mix through the vanilla extract and the egg yolk. Reserve the white for later when you are going to assemble the biscuits.
Add the flour in two additions and beat until just combined.
Form into a ball, wrap in cling film and place in the fridge for an hour or until firm.
To make the chocolate dough:
Repeat the instructions above but add the cocoa at the same time as the vanilla and egg to ensure it is fully combined.
Once the doughs have hardened, roll each one out into a rectangle 12 x 6 inches (30 x 15 cm) and leave them for another half hour in the fridge.
Remove the dough from the ridge and divide each one up lengthwise into 9 even strips.
To assemble the biscuits, place a strip of cholate dough onto a piece of cling film.
Brush one side of it with the reserved egg white to help the different pieces stick together.
Align a piece of vanilla dough with the chocolate one and press them lightly together (we will press harder later to fully stick the biscuits together but you don’t want to deform the dough at this point).
Brush the vanilla dough with egg white and add another strip of chocolate next to this.
Once the base layer is complete, brush the top with egg white and repeat with more strips of dough, alternating the colours, until you get a three by three block.
Tightly wrap this in cling film and then use a flat tray to lightly press down on the top to seal the dough strips together. Rotate the dough onto a different side and repeat. This will also help get sharp edges.
Repeat the above steps with the remaining dough (five strips of vanilla and four of chocolate) to get another log with alternating colours to the first.
Place both of these into the fridge for an hour to firm up fully before slicing.
Preheat the oven to gas mark 3 (1600C).
Line two baking trays with parchment paper.
Remove one log from the fridge and slice it into quarter inch pieces (around 7 mm).
Place these onto a baking tray leaving about an inch and a half (around 4 cm) between them for the biscuits to spread in the oven.
Bake for ten minutes.
Remove the biscuits from the oven. They will still be soft so slide the parchment off the baking tray and leave the biscuits to cool for five minutes to firm up a little before moving them onto a cooling rack to cool completely.
If you only have two baking trays like I do, slice up the dough and place it onto baking parchment on the counter top so when the tray comes out of the oven, you can slide the baked biscuits off it, run the tray under cold water to cool it down, slide the raw biscuits onto it and then bung it back into the oven.
If the chequerboard design doesn’t turn out well or everything falls apart as sometimes can happen, you can always squish the two doughs together and make marbled biscuits. Just make sure to squeeze them into a long round log and cool it before you start to slice the biscuits so you don’t deform them!
I hope you enjoyed the recipe. If you fancy something of the more cakey variety, check out how to make a delicious, moist carrot cake or if you want a meal instead of a sweet treat, why not make yourself a luxurious smoked salmon risotto.
Have a good one and I will be back next week with a recipe involving hot water crust pastry.
Smoked salmon is definitely a delicacy. It’s relatively expensive which isn’t ideal because I can easily sit down and eat an entire packet in one go. The trick with smoked salmon is making it go further and putting it into a risotto is a fantastic way to flavour a large amount of food without needing too much of the fish itself.
Smoking food became popular as a good way of preserving it. Upping the salt content and decreasing the moisture makes it very hard for bacteria to grow in the food helping it keep longer before spoiling. The process of smoking food has probably been around since humans evolved. Food would be stored off the ground to keep it away from pests but the lack of ventilation in the dwellings led to the build up of smoke at the top of the houses – where the food was stored – and thus the food was smoked. Once people realised that smoked foods lasted far longer than those which were unsmoked, smoking became a widely used preservation method. As it was functional rather than for flavour, large amounts of salt were used to draw out the moisture and the smoking time was often days long. As infrastructure improved, food could be stored in fridges and cold houses. As a result, the quantity of smoke and salt used to preserve foods declined leading to what we have today.
There are several different methods of smoking; the most common types being hot and cold smoking. The process of cold smoking does not cook the meat and because of that, brining and curing must be done before the food is smoked. This is what gives us the classic smoked salmon that you see in a supermarket, thinly sliced and still a bright pink colour. In contrast to this, hot smoking cooks the fish. This means that the food is safe to eat without further cooking as may sometimes be necessary with cold smoking.
The first time I tried this recipe, I was having dinner at a friend’s house and we ended up cooking together. I must admit I was a bit dubious as the idea of placing smoked salmon into a hot saucepan of rice worried me greatly; surely the salmon would just go hard and leathery and lose its flavour? That is the beauty of this recipe. If done right, the latent heat in the risotto should cook the chopped salmon just enough to change its colour whilst still allowing it to remain soft. The remaining salmon is served on top of the risotto keeping it from the heat and therefore preventing it cooking.
This dish really is a treat so I hope you enjoy it.
Smoked Salmon Risotto
Prep time: 10 minutes
Cook time: 20 minutes
Cost per portion: around £2.40
1 small onion finely diced
1 clove of garlic minced
175g risotto rice (I like to use Arborio risotto rice)
750ml vegetable stock
Zest of one lemon
Juice of half a lemon
1 tbsp chopped parsley
100g smoked salmon
1 tbsp oil
Sautee the onion in the oil for five minutes until it starts to soften and goes translucent.
Add the garlic and rice and fry for another minute.
Pour in half of the stock and stir everything together. Wait for the rice to absorb the stock stirring regularly.
Once the stock is all absorbed, add half of the remaining liquid and stir it through.
Repeat with the remaining stock.
If the rice isn’t fully cooked at this point, add another tablespoon of water and continue to cook over a medium heat stirring regularly to ensure that all the rice is cooked evenly.
Once the rice is almost cooked through, add the mascarpone, lemon juice, zest and the parsley and stir through. Cook for another minute.
Remove the risotto from the heat and cover.
Chop about three quarters of the smoked salmon into small pieces.
Stir these through the risotto, the remaining heat should cook the salmon but not make it leathery.
Serve the risotto immediately and top with the remaining salmon.
If you so wish, garnish the risotto with parsley and lemon zest.
I hope you enjoyed this recipe. It’s a luxurious meal yet still quite light and doesn’t leave you feeling bloated. If you fancy a bit of a more fiery dinner, check out how to make my spicy enchiladas or if you are looking for something a little sweeter, why not make a carrot cake? It’s big, moist and packed full of flavour.
Have a good one and I will be back next week with a slightly more basic recipe for some delicious biscuits!
Although carrot cake came to popularity in England during the second world war, its origins stretch back several hundred years to the carrot puddings eaten in the middle ages. Carrot cake is a bit of a marmite food with people either loving or hating it; I have never met anyone who was ambivalent about it.
The emergence of carrot cake in the second world war came about because of sugar rationing. This led to people looking for an easy alternative and carrots were perfect as people could grow them in their back gardens. Luckily, you can’t taste the carrot in carrot cake but it gives a lovely colour and along with the use of oil instead of butter, helps the cake remain moist for a long time. I actually made the mistake of leaving the cakes on top of an Aga for about two hours as I took them out of the oven in a hurry and when I got back the cakes had not dried out at all!
Of course, you can’t have carrot cake without cream cheese frosting. Here in England the only readily available cream cheese is the spreadable version in tubs not the block cream cheese that you really need to make a good frosting. Spreadable cream cheese has a far higher water content and this water can cause the icing to turn into a runny soup. The best way to avoid this is to use butter as a base for the icing. This gives a rich flavour and also causes the icing to firm up in the fridge leaving it nice and smooth. The frankly obscene amount of icing sugar also helps prevent the collapse of the frosting.
I hope you enjoy the recipe.
For the cake:
450ml vegetable oil
450g plain flour
2 tsp bicarbonate of soda
3 tsp cinnamon
Pinch of salt
530g grated carrot
150g chopped walnuts
Cream Cheese Frosting:
150g unsalted butter
240g cream cheese
840g sifted icing sugar
To make the cake:
Preheat the oven to gas mark 4 (1800C).
Oil and line four eight inch baking tins and place a circle of parchment on the base of each one.
In a large bowl, whisk together the oil and sugar.
Add the eggs one at a time and whisk together after each addition.
Mix in the flour, bicarbonate of soda, salt and cinnamon in three batches.
Gently whisk in the carrot – you don’t want it to get shredded in the mixer so use the lowest speed setting.
Divide the cake mix between the tins and bake for 25-30 minutes until a skewer inserted into the cake comes out clean.
Leave to cool for ten minutes and then remove the cakes from the tins and leave on a wire rack to cool completely.
To make the icing, beat the butter until it is light and fluffy.
Add the cream cheese and beat again.
Mix in the icing sugar in three batches and start your mixer on slow each time to avoid the icing sugar going everywhere!
The moment the icing has come together, stop mixing it.
Place the base of the cake onto a serving plate and spread a layer of cream cheese frosting over this.
Add another layer of cake and frosting and continue until all the layers have been used up.
Spread a thick layer of frosting on the top of the cake. You can decorate this with little sugar carrots (normally available in the supermarket baking aisle) or sprinkles. Just bear in mind that cream cheese frosting is very soft and won’t hold its shape well.
I hope you enjoyed the recipe and your cream cheese frosting doesn’t turn to liquid. If you fancy a Mexican treat, check out how to make some spicy Enchiladas or if you are looking a different dessert, why not treat yourself to the bestapple crumble you will eat.
Have a good one and I will be back next week with a delicious risotto recipe.
The etymology of food names is a vast and fascinating subject. Some foods are named after the person who invented them, others after an area and some have their names directly lifted from the language of their country of origin.
One example of this is the enchilada. With a name deriving from the Spanish word ‘enchilar’ meaning ‘to season with chilli’ the name of the dish is a direct description of how it is made. In a similar vein, empanadas (a type of pasty) have a name derived from ‘empanar’ meaning ‘to coat in bread’.
Enchiladas were originally eaten as a street food and were unfilled tortillas dipped in a chilli sauce. Since then, they have evolved and been combined with other stuffed foods to created the dish that is known today. There are no strict rules as to what you can fill an enchilada with as long as it is spicy and, as a result, there are many different versions. Enchiladas suizas are topped with creamy sauces like béchamel and were created by Swiss migrants to Mexico who set up dairies to produce milk and cream. Enchiladas Verdes are topped with salsa verde instead of chilli sauce and are filled with poached chicken. Enmoladas are served with mole (a dark spicy sauce) instead of chilli and Enfrijoladas are topped with re-fried beans (the name deriving from the Spanish word for bean ‘frijol’).
The recipes I give below are very simple to make and are easily adaptable. I have found that using large tortillas means one enchilada can be served per person – especially if you serve them with sour cream and other toppings. I am very partial to coriander however, for those of you who do not like it, removing this does not detract from the recipe at all. Both fillings make a decent number of enchiladas and obviously, you can bulk them out more by adding more vegetables to make the meat go further. If you don’t eat meat, it can be excluded from the recipe or replaced by a meat substitute such as tofu or Quorn.
As anyone following this blog for some time may have realised, I love bulk cooking and the fillings for this can be frozen which is ideal because you can get several meals out of these recipes. You can also use them as standard fajita fillings too if you don’t want to go through the hassle of adding extra sauce and baking.
I hope you enjoy the recipe!
Makes: 6-9 enchiladas
Prep time: 30 mins
Rest time: 10 mins
Cook time: 20 mins
2 large onions – finely sliced
2 large cloves of garlic – minced
1 large bell pepper – thinly sliced
2 chicken breasts – cubed
2 tablespoons tomato paste
1 packet fajita seasoning
½ tsp chilli flakes
2 tbsp oil
2 large onions – finely diced
2 large cloves of garlic – minced
1 packet of beef mince
2 tablespoons tomato paste
1 packet fajita seasoning
½ tsp chilli flakes
2 tbsp oil
Large tortilla wraps
1 can re-fried beans
200g grated cheese (100g for filling and 100g for topping)
2 tbsp chopped coriander
1 jar enchilada sauce
4 tbsp tomato paste
4 tbsp water
½ tsp garlic powder
½ tsp onion powder
1 tsp vegetable oil
Salt and pepper
Pinch of sugar
1 tsp dried chilli flakes
For the filling:
Place the oil, onions and garlic into a large pan over a medium heat and fry until the onion starts going soft.
Make a well in the centre and add the meat and fry until the meat is cooked on the outside (about three minutes)
Add the peppers if you are using them.
Sprinkle on the chilli flakes and the fajita seasoning (I love the BBQ one but there are loads of different flavours you can choose). If you like your food on the spicier side, you can always add more chilli and visa versa for a more mild flavour.
Add the tomato paste and stir through. If the paste won’t spread out, add a tablespoon of water to help thin it down a little.
Remove from the heat and leave the filling to cool a little before using (it doesn’t have to be stone cold, just make sure it won’t burn your fingers)
Preheat the oven to gas mark 6 (2000C).
If you are making your own enchilada sauce, whisk all the ingredients together in a bowl and add salt and pepper to taste.
Take a large baking dish and spread a little of the enchilada sauce over the bottom.
Place a wrap on a flat surface and spread a line of re-fried beans about a quarter of the way up.
Add a line of meat filling on top of this and sprinkle a little grated cheese over it all.
Roll up the tortilla making sure to fold in the ends to stop the filling from escaping. Seal the end with a little water and place seam side down in the baking dish.
Repeat with the rest of the tortillas.
Pour the remaining sauce over the top and sprinkle the rest of the grated cheese over the enchiladas.
Sprinkle the coriander over the top and bake for fifteen to twenty minutes until the cheese on top is bubbly and starting to crisp up.
Serve with a selection of sour cream, lime wedges, jalapenos, chopped coriander, guacamole or salsa.
These also keep very well if covered in the fridge.
I hope you enjoyed the recipe. If you fancy something a little sweeter, check out how to make my delicious apple crumble or for a lighter meal, why not make yourself a vibrant bowl of pea soup.
Have a good one and I will be back next week with an amazing recipe for carrot cake. For all of you guys who have had issues making cream cheese icing in the UK because it always turns to soup, this is one not to be missed!