Christmas orange and cinnamon baked mini doughnuts

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If you regularly follow this blog then you will have noticed that baking is something of a novelty as my recipes tend to be main meals however, when the festive spirit strikes, sometimes the oven needs to be cranked up and sweet treats are involved. These Christmas orange and cinnamon baked doughnuts are going to win you a lot of fans; family, friends and colleagues will be fighting over them so may I advise that you make more than you think you will need!

The recipe is simple, quick and perfect to involve children with as well. Cast your mind back a few years and, in the UK at least, something called ‘cake pops’ were all the rage; this recipe calls for you to dust down the cake pop mould and get cooking! If you don’t own one of these then you can always make these in mini muffin tins instead; they obviously won’t be the same shape but they will taste just as fabulous. These are best eaten warm from the oven but they also keep for a day or so in a dry, well sealed tin but I doubt they will last long enough for that! Feel free to dip them in melted chocolate to make them extra decadent… it is the festive season after all!

Ingredients- makes 24
For the batter
275g plain flour
40g granulated sugar
2 tsps baking powder
Pinch of salt
180mls milk
60mls vegetable oil
1 large beaten egg
1 tbsp vanilla essence
1 tbsp orange essence

For the sugar coating
50g unsalted butter
100g caster sugar
Ground cinnamon- to taste
Orange zest- optional

1.Preheat the oven to 200c/ 180 fan whilst you prepare the batter. Simply add all the dry ingredients together in a bowl and add the wet ingredients together in another bowl; tip one into the other and stir to combine until the batter is smooth.

2. Take the cake pop pan and lightly grease it with oil. Use a tablespoon measure and add a tablespoon to each of the cake pop holes. Try to avoid the batter dripping over the edges and neaten it up as you go if needed to make them easier to remove from the pan later on. Repeat until all the holes are filled; secure the other half of the tray and bake for 10 minutes. Carefully remove them from the oven and set aside to cool for a few minutes.

3. Meanwhile, melt the butter in a small pan over a low heat on the hob and transfer to a small bowl. Add the caster sugar into another bowl and add cinnamon (plus the orange zest if using) to taste. Stir so the cinnamon is evenly distributed through the sugar.

4. Gently remove the doughnuts from the cake pop pan and take one at a time and dunk it in the melted butter before rolling in the cinnamon sugar. When each has been evenly coated, place on a wire rack and allow to cool slightly (if you can! They are delicious straight from the oven!). Repeat until all the doughnuts are sugared. You will now have enough doughnut batter left now to make another dozen in the tray; I  suggest rinsing the pan before re-greasing it to make sure they come out cleanly.

Christmas orange and cinnamon baked mini doughnuts- irresistibly light bites of festive heaven!

 

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Spiced delicata squash salad

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At this time of year I become borderline obsessive about squashes in all their beautiful guises and tend to become overexcited when new varieties come into the shops. Through the season I tend to use as many types as I can and come up with new ways to enjoy them and this recipe is no exception. The sweetness of delicate squash lends itself to being paired with the heady aromatic spices of the Middle East and all it needs is a drizzle of a simple dressing to bring it to life. Here is the recipe for the warm squash salad and it can be served either as the main meal or an accompaniment. It is delicious with pan friend lamb cutlets if you fancy.

Ingredients- serves 2-3
For the salad

1 delicate squash
1 large red onion
4 garlic cloves
2 tbsp pomegranate molasses
2 tbsp olive oil
1 tbsp honey
Seasoning
Handful of pine nuts
100g feta
Fresh coriander

For the za’atar mix- makes plenty to use and to keep
5 tsp sesame seeds
5 tbsp finely chopped fresh oregano
5 tsp dried marjoram
5 tsp ground sumac
1 1/2 tsp sea salt
5 tsp ground cumin

1.Firstly I would make the za’atar mix so then it is ready and on standby for later. Simply take a small dry frying pan and toast the sesame seeds until golden and realising their flavour. Allow to cool and combine with the other ingredients; use a pestle and mortar or food processor to whizz them up and that’s all there is to it!

2. Preheat the oven to 180c/ 160 fan. Prepare the squash by peeling the skin using a speed peeler, cutting it in half lengthways and scooping out the seeds. Cut the squash into crescents and place in a deep baking tray. Peel the red onion and cut into wedges and add to the tray along with the garlic cloves (still in their papery skins).

3. Season the vegetables well. Combine the pomegranate molasses, oil and honey and drizzle over the vegetables; toss well to combine. Roast in the oven for around 15-20 minutes or until tender. While it roasts use a dry frying pan and toast the pine nuts.

4. Remove the squash from the oven and toss through the pine nuts and crumble in the feta. Sprinkle around a tablespoon of the za’atar spice mix and finish off with some freshly chopped coriander if you like. Serve immediately.

Spiced delicate squash salad- bring the soft glow of autumn to the dinner table!

Korean chicken wings with slaw

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Spicy Korean chicken really is a thing of beauty and indulgence but it can often be heavy as, more often than not, it’s deep-fried which does nothing for the waistline so this version is still just as moreish but a little better on the health front! Gochujang and gochugaru are Korean ingredients are becoming more accessible in the UK so it’s time to raid your local Asian supermarket to source the best ingredients that you can. The chilli paste, gochujang, and the chilli powder, gochugaru, are spicy but full of flavour. I have paired the chicken with a simple, light slaw. This really is the perfect meal to share with friends or to make for a lazy weekend dinner. On the off chance that there are any leftovers the chicken wings are also delicious cold the next day for a quick snack.

Ingredients- serves 4
For the chicken
Approx. 700g chicken wings
3 tbsps gochujang
1 tsp gochugaru
3 garlic cloves
2 tbsps soy
1/2 tbsp rice wine vinegar
1 tbsp sugar
2 tbsps water
1 tbsp toasted sesame seeds
Spring onion

For the slaw
1/2 head each of red and white cabbage
1 large carrot
3 spring onions
2 tbsps gochugaru
2 tbsps fish sauce
1 tbsp sugar
Juice from 1/2 a lime
2 garlic cloves- grated
1 tbsp toasted sesame seeds
1 tbsp sesame oil

1. Get going with the chicken marinade in advance of when you want to cook them so the chicken takes on as much flavour from the marinade as possible. Simply combine all the ingredients apart from the toasted sesame seeds and spring onion. Place in a large bowl with the chicken wings, cover, pop in the fridge and set aside- ideally overnight but for at least an hour.

2. In the meantime the slaw can be made. Use a mandolin or sharp knife and finely shred the red and white cabbage. Grate the carrot and finely slice the spring onion. Add all the other ingredients together in a bowl and stir well to combine before pouring over the vegetable mix; toss well so it all gets an even coating.

3. When you are ready to cook the chicken, preheat the oven to 200c/ 180 fan. Place the marinated chicken in a large baking tray and cook for around 20 minutes or until the chicken is cooked through and the juices run clear.

4. To assemble, take a large serving platter and arrange the slaw. Top with the cooked wings, sprinkle over the toasted sesame seeds and spring onion and let everyone dig in! An extra squeeze of lime juice is also a welcome addition to give an added layer of zing.

Spicy Korean chicken wings and slaw- a large stack of napkins is a must!

Spiced halloumi tacos

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Tacos and all things Mexican seem to be having a bit of a moment but they are often meat laden parcels of goodness however sometimes a lighter take on a recipe is much needed so this is where the halloumi taco recipe comes in. Halloumi is one of my favourite cheeses so I’ll use any opportunity to use it in my cooking, Not only is it versatile but is takes on flavour well, so marinade it ahead of time for maximum effect. I served the tacos with a cooling fresh salsa and a warm red pepper and chilli sauce which you can make more of and then use later in the week or freeze for another time. I used smoked chipotle morita chillies but feel free to experiment with different varieties of Mexican chillies to see what you prefer. If using dried chillies then remember to soak them in water in advance before using.

Ingredients- serves 2-3
For the sauce
3 red peppers
Chipotle chilli
1 small red onion
3 garlic cloves
Seasoning

For the salsa
2 small avocados
1 small red onion
Handful of baby plum or plum tomatoes
Lime
Fresh coriander
Seasoning

For the rest
2 blocks of halloumi
1/2 tbsp each of ground cumin, coriander and smoked paprika
1 tbsp olive oil
Soft tacos

1. Start by preheating the oven to 220c/ 200 fan. Lightly brush the red peppers with a little oil and place on a baking tray or rack. Cook until lightly charred and soft. Remove from the oven and set aside until cool enough to handle. Carefully peel the skin and roughly chop the flesh. In a small pan, add a little glug of oil and fry the onion and garlic. Place the peppers and onion mixture into a food processor along with the chilli and whizz into a sauce. Season to taste and set aside.

2. Next you can sort out the halloumi. Simply cut each block into thick finger shapes so they hold together when fried. Combine the ground cumin, coriander and paprika with the oil and toss well to coat the halloumi.

3. For the fresh salsa, simply chop the avocado, onion and tomatoes. Combine and season well. Add a squeeze of lime juice to taste and the fresh coriander. Set aside.

4. Take a non- stick frying pan and heat a glug of oil over a medium heat. When hot, add the halloumi fingers and turn during cooking so each side is golden. Remove from the pan and blot onto kitchen paper to remove any excess oil. Then it is all a matter of assembly! Warm the tacos and arrange them on a serving platter along with the halloumi, salsa and roasted pepper sauce so everyone can help themselves. Serve with some freshly sliced jalapeno chilli and lettuce leaves if you like with a little soured cream on the side.

Halloumi tacos- a lighter take on a Mexican classic!

 

Halloween pepperkins

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That time of the year is upon us once more- when children go trick or treating and adults hide in their homes pretending nobody is in! It also sees the carving of magnificent pumpkins but if you think that pumpkins are the only thing that can be carved for Halloween then think again! When walking around the local market I came across orange and yellow striped peppers and I thought they would be perfect for stuffing. Now stuffed peppers tend to be thought of as a vegetarian cliché however these are packed with Indian style spiced rice which can be spiced up as much or as little as you want. I have kept them vegetarian however you could also add some minced meat or similar if you like.

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Ingredients- serves 4
8 bell peppers
250g long grain white rice
1 tsp turmeric
Vegetable oil
1 tbsp black mustard seeds
1 large onion- finely chopped
3 garlic cloves- crushed
2 tsp each of ground cumin, ground coriander, ground fenugreek and garam masala
1 green chilli- finely chopped
4 vine tomatoes- finely chopped
1 small aubergine- finely chopped
100g paneer

1. Make the rice mix first by heating a glug of oil in a large pan. Add the mustard seeds and heat until they start to pop before then adding the onion and garlic to the pan; cook the onions until turning golden.

2. Meanwhile you can cook the rice. Add the rice into a pan along with a teaspoon of turmeric and cover with boiling water; bring to the boil before lowering the heat, covering with a lid and simmering for 10 minutes. Do not remove the lid! When the 10 minutes is up, remove the pan from the heat and allow to stand (still covered) for another 10 minutes so the rice steams and fluffs up. Use a fork of carefully work through the rice to make sure the grains are separate.

3. By now the onions should be a lovely golden colour so add in the remaining spices. Stir well to combine and coat the onion. Add in the chilli, tomatoes and aubergine and simmer for around 10 minutes until the vegetables are breaking down and the tomatoes are starting to reduce. Stir through the rice and make sure it is all well mixed. Remove from the heat and grate through the paneer; allow to cool.

4. Now for the carving! Get creative and think of the designs you would like to use. Use a craft knife to carefully carve the pattern. Cut the top of the pepper and reserve this. Scoop out the seeds and pop out the carved areas. Repeat for all the peppers. When they are all ready, spoon in the rice mixture and replace the lids on the peppers.

5. Preheat the oven to 180c/ 160 fan. Carefully transfer the peppers to a baking tray. Give a quick drizzle of oil and a sprinkling of salt and roast for 20-30 minutes until tender. Serve as part of an Indian feast and enjoy!

Halloween pepperkins- it’s not only pumpkins that get a look in this year!

 

Zingy chermoula cod

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Chermoula is a Middle Eastern paste that is used in a range of dishes to add tang and spice to a range of fish, meat and vegetable dishes. You can buy it ready made if you are pressed for time but it really is speedy and straightforward to do yourself; you can make it in advance and keep it in the fridge until you need it. If it is covered then it will last for a few days if you want to make a larger amount and then use it for a couple of meals.

 

Ingredients
For the chermoula

Small bunch of coriander
1 mild to medium red chilli2 garlic cloves
50ml olive oil
1 tbsp tomato puree
1 tsp each of smoked paprika, ground cumin and ground coriander
1 tsp runny honey
1 tbsp red wine vinegar

For the rest
2 cod fillets or loins
1 red onion- finely chopped
2 garlic cloves-crushed or finely sliced
Handful of baby plum or vine tomatoes- halved
2-3 jarred roasted red pepper- finely sliced
Handful of pitted mixed olives- roughly chopped
Chilli flakes
Fresh coriander- chopped

1. Get started by making the chermoula by simply combining all the ingredients either by hand using a pestle and mortar or a food blender to whizz it into a paste. Coat each of the pieces of cod and set aside to marinate.

2. To make the tomato and pepper base that the cod is going to be served on, add a good glug of olive oil to a large non- stick pan. Cook the onions until softened and then add in the garlic cloves along with a pinch of chilli flakes and continue to cook for an additional minute. Add the tomatoes, red peppers and olives into the pan and simmer until the sauce is thickening and reducing but so the olives still retain their shape. Sprinkle in some freshly chopped coriander to finish and lower the heat whilst you cook the cod.

3. Heat the oven to 200c/ 180 fan. Place the cod on a lined or lightly oiled baking tray and cook until the cod is cooked through. Serve on top of the tomato sauce and enjoy immediately.

Chermoula cod- brighten up your day with zingy, fesh flavours!

Aubergine, paneer and pepper curry

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There’s an endless world of curries out there but sometime time is short but the need for a spice kick remains so this is where this speedy midweek curry comes in handy. I often prefer a vegetarian curry so this uses some of my favourite vegetables whilst being packed with flavour; you never know, it may even convert the most diehard carnivore! I have chosen vegetables that have distinctive flavours that can stand up to the spices so you can taste each element of the curry. Feel free to play around with different vegetable combinations- a potato based curry is always delicious!

Ingredients- serves 2
Block of paneer approx. 200g
2 tbsp corn flour
Vegetable oil
1 red onion- finely chopped
1 large garlic clove or 1 tsp garlic puree
1 tsp black onion seeds
1/2 tbsp. each of the ground cumin, coriander, fenugreek, chilli powder,
1 small aubergine- cubed
1 red or yellow pepper- chopped
Small bag of baby spinach- shredded
100ml passata

1.Cut the paneer into equal sized cubes- you usually get around 12-14 cubes from an average block of paneer. Toss them in the corn flour. Heat a good glug of oil over a medium- high heat and fry the cubes until golden and turning crisp. Remove from the pan with a slotted spoon and blot onto kitchen roll to remove any excess oil.

2. Choose a large wide brimmed pan that is big enough to fit all the paneer and vegetables in. Heat another glug of oil over a low to medium heat. Fry the red onion until softening and turning a deep golden; don’t rush this as this will help the overall flavour. Add the onion seeds and fry for another minute.

3. Add the aubergine and pepper and continue to cook until the vegetables are softened and tender. Meanwhile, combine the spices plus the garlic, or garlic puree if you are using this instead, in a small dish with a splash of water to form a paste. Add to the pan with the vegetables and cook for a few minutes until the vegetables are well coated and the flavours of the spices are being released. Pour in the passata, stir well to combine and add the paneer chunks back into the pan. Simmer until the sauce is reducing slightly and clinging onto the vegetables. If the sauce looks too thick at any point, simply add a splash of water and carry on simmering. When it looks nearly ready, add the shredded spinach and cook for a couple of minutes until wilted. Serve with your choice of Indian bread such as naan or chapatti and a sprinkling of freshly chopped coriander if you like.

Aubergine, paneer and pepper curry- a speedy curry for people in a hurry!