Eggless Welsh Cakes

The first Easter following our move to England happened to coincide with the Queen’s Diamond Jubilee celebrations. This only meant one thing to us – extra holidays! So we set off on a camping trip to Wales where we encountered these yummy things called Welsh cakes. We also encountered some other interesting things like the guy who was into dressing up like Elvis and going to gatherings with other “Elvises” but that’s a story for another day.

What are “Welsh cakes” ? Really, they are a pancake more than a cake – made with flour, raisins/sultanas, spices such as cinnamon, butter,eggs and sugar. There isn’t really any baking time involved as you cook them on the stove in a fry pan. They are a lovely accompaniment to tea and go with any sort of fruit jam/preserve.

Do give it a go as it is incredibly easy to make and takes barely any time to put together. In addition, you can make it gluten-free, dairy-free, egg-free and sugar-free if you’d like.

The inside of a Welsh cake

The inside of a Welsh cake

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Turkish cornbread (Misir Ekmegi)

I have a Turkish colleague and a few weeks ago, she was relishing some cornbread that her mother had made for her and couldn’t stop raving about it. As is my reaction in these situations, I set out to make some for myself.

Upon surveying the internet for some recipes, I came across one at Binnur’s Turkish Cookbook which looked simple enough  and so I decided to give it a go. Of course, I added a few of my own touches like fresh chives and chilli flakes to flavour the bread and really loved the end result. It was soft yet had a crunch to it, and tasted good warm and cold. Slather some butter on it or eat it with a dip or chutney. It’s absolutely delicious and what’s even better is that it is a one-pot dish and preparation time is less than 15 minutes !

I did go back to my Turkish friend and give her some of my cornbread to try. She liked the taste of it but said it was quite different to her mum’s. She said her mum’s version was made of  only cornmeal, corn oil and salt as corn grew abundantly in the region of Turkey where she came from. However, she did also say that in regions where wheat was available, people did add standard flour to the cornbread and so my recipe was also genuinely Turkish. Woo hoo!

Yellow corn meal
Yellow corn meal

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Veggie and halloumi fritters with yoghurt, mint and coriander dip

Our new year commitment to light dinners and heavier lunches means that I cook the following day’s lunch after we have had our evening meal. It was one such weeknight and around 9pm in the evening. I was tired and knew that we were going to have a heavy dinner the following day so I was looking for a light lunch recipe. I’d come across this recipe on taste.com.au and had stocked up on halloumi and zucchini/courgette earlier in the week. However, on that night I decided to jazz it up a bit and I don’t regret it at all! In fact, I declare it the ultimate savoury snack made with fridge leftovers – particularly veggies that are starting to look a bit sad. I’m sorry I didn’t take more pictures of the earlier steps. Hope you will give it a go and let me know what you think at canwehavesomerasam@gmail.com

 

Halloumi-veggie-fritters with a mint, coriander and yoghurt dip

Halloumi-veggie-fritters with a mint, coriander and yoghurt dip

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Bread, berry and cherry pudding

I seem to have taken a rather long summer holiday from my blog. In my defence, the English summer until 2 Thursdays ago was glorious. So glorious that we spent most of our time outdoors walking, running, kayaking and even swimming. While the weather was still wonderful (yes, that’s right, it is a think of the past now), our friends took us on a foraging expedition which turned up several boxes of blackberries (bramble) and cherries (small, wild, juicy and amazingly sweet).

Blackberries and cherries

Hand-picked blackberries and cherries : Juicy and delicious

We ate as many berries and cherries as we could on the day and the day after but we couldn’t eat them all. I then asked Mr Google what I could do with a whole lot of berries and cherries. Unsurprisingly, several options were presented to me. Of these, I chose two  – (1) a berry, cherry and almond milk smoothie (2) A blackberry and cherry, bread and butter (yup, a mouthful to say) pudding. This post is on the latter and is somewhat reminiscent of my one of my older recipes on Bread and Butter pudding.

Bread and butter pudding enthusiasts and connoisseurs beware – this recipe violates several basic principles. However, I can guarantee that the taste of the fresh berries and cherries made for quite a delightful dessert while we watched our current favourite TV show Treme.

Do try it and tell me what you think of it at canwehavesomerasam@gmail.com.

Bread, berry and cherry pudding

Bread, berry and cherry pudding

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Jerusalem, Moro and Ottolenghi and inspired dinner

I have recently become addicted to three cookbooks I acquired from Amazon and our local library. They are, in order of favouritism,

1. Jerusalem by Yotam Ottolenghi and Sami Tamimi

2. Moro by Samuel and Samantha Clark

3. Ottolenghi also by Yotam Ottolenghi and Sami Tamimi

Why the addiction – well these books respect vegetables like I have been taught to respect them as a life time vegetarian. Growing up in a South Indian household, my mother and grandma had endless ways of making vegetables exciting and I try and continue this tradition till today. However, I’m also a little more adventurous that mum and grandma and I cannot eat the same/similar things day in and day out. This is something I did quite gladly did when I was still dependent on my parents, but ever since I’ve moved out on my own, my kitchen has been a bit of a playground, as is this blog I host.

Jerusalem, Moro and Ottolenghi, while laden with meat-based recipes are also quite generous with their coverage of vegetable/vegetarian dishes from Eastern Mediterranean regions, Israel, Palestine with influences from Italy, Spain and Northern Africa. Overall, these vegetables are prepared quite differently (most of the time) to how I’d prepare them as a person of South Indian upbringing and I find that really really exciting. Sometimes, I find some similarities and start thinking about the origins of certain food and how recipes might have travelled from one region to another in ancient time.

To summarize it is food, vegetarian food, exciting vegetarian food and I love it! Food to me is most satisfying when I’ve made it and others are enjoying it 🙂 An opportunity presented itself when we decided to host a dinner and board games evening at our place. While I usually cook Indian food, I decided that I’d try recipes from my recently acquired books instead. There was a deathly silence as everyone sat eating until one of our friends spoke up and said , “You know the food is good when everyone is too busy eating and cannot stop to speak”. I’m going to call it a successful experiment based on this !

My menu and links to the recipes are presented below. I managed to take a lot of pictures for the first few dishes and then ran out of time and my guests arrived so I couldn’t keep clicking any more. Hope you try some of the recipes and like them !

Menu for board games night

Menu for board games night

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Brie and chilli jam parcels

I made this little gem of a dish a while ago and thought it was about time that I posted it. A lovely friend of our who is very creative with artwork and in the kitchen gave us a bottle of home-made chilli jam at Christmas time. This jam is lovely – sweet at first but definitely with a bite and just my kind of things. We have had it with cheese and biscuits and the combination works really well.

The evening that I made these parcels, I thought I’d be a little more creative with the chilli jam. It was on a night that I go to pottery class which meant I had about a 30min window between when I returned from work to prepare for this dish. I decided I’d have the parcels on a bed of roast vegetables so I chopped and prepared them.  I also made the parcels ready to bake. The cooking of the dish I left in the hands of my darling husband. I trust him a lot more than myself not to burn stuff in the oven and sure enough, he delivered and they were the most delicious roast vegetables I’ve ever had. The parcels, of course, were the icing on top of the roast vegetable cake. As an added bonus, I didn’t have to scrape any black bits off my food – hooray !

I was so hungry when I returned from pottery that I didn’t stop to take a picture of the finished item when it was nicely plated. Instead, I have one of the lunch I took to work the next day. Do try it and let me know what you think at canwehavesomerasam@gmail.com

Chilli jam and brie parcels on roast vegetables

Chilli jam and brie parcels on roast vegetables: Lunch box version

Ingredients:

For the parcels

375gm (1 pack) of ready-rolled puff-patry sheet (use “light” sheets if you can find them, they are not as greasy)

4 tablespoons of chilli jam

50-80 gms of brie  or more if you like it (I used a French brie I got from the deli counter at Sainsbury’s)

 

For the roast veggies

2 medium sized potatoes, chopped into 2.5 cms chunks

1 sweet potato, chopped into 2.5 cm chunks

2 medium carrots, chopped into 2.5 cms chunks

1 large zucchini/courgette, chopped into 2.5 cms chunks

1 yellow pepper/capsicum, chopped into 2.5 cms chunks

1 red capsicum, chopped into 2.5 cms chunks

1 large red onion, chopped into 2.5 cms chunks

springs of fresh rosemary

3-4 cloves of garlic, still in their skins

4 tablespoons of oil

 

To serve

handful of salad leaves (I used baby spinach)

cracked pepper

feta (optional)

 

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Instructions that still remain on the kitchen board

Method:

1. It says it all in the picture above ;). Start by preheating the oven to 180ºC.

2. Toss the root vegetables – potatoes, carrots and sweet potatoes and garlic cloves in 2 tablespoons of oil. Place them on a tray and bake for 20mins until they start to sweat. Turn the vegetables so that their undersides are now facing up.

3. Add the soft vegetables – capsicum/peppers, onions, zucchini/courgettes to the vegetable mix along with the rosemary and remaining oil to the tray in step 2. Cook for 35-45 mins until the root vegetables have gone brown and the soft veggies are sweating.

4. While the veggies are cooking, prepare the pastry. Cut the ready rolled puff pastry sheet into 4. Spread a tablespoon of chilli jam across the pastry sheet so it reaches all the edges (Picture 1 below).

5. In the centre of each rectangles, place 3-4 pieces of brie (or more if you like it – Picture 1 below).

6. Fold each parcel like an envelope using the steps shown in pictures 2 & 3 below. If it is easier, place the rectangle in front of you such that one of the corners is pointing at your belly button. Start with that corner and fold it upwards and away from you. Then, fold in the left and right hand corners over the first fold. Finally, tuck the remaining corner into the centre to form and envelope like shape (Picture 4). I think I even cut some leaf-shaped bits of pastry and stuck them on top as decoration though the baking process hid them in the rest of the layers of puff pastry (they are just about visible in pictures 4 & 5 below).

7. Place the parcels on a separate tray in the oven while the vegetables are about 15 mins from being done. This will ensure that the veggies and pastry are ready at the same time.

8. To serve, place salad leaves on your dinner plate. On the leaves, plate a generous serving of roast veggies and grind some black pepper onto them. If you like feta, you can add this to the roast veggies too. Place one or two chilli and brie parcels on top of the veggies and dive right in.

Well that’s what I did!

Tips:If you’d like to make a gluten free version of this dish, try toasting brie and chilli jam  (until bubbly and melting) between some gluten-free English muffins or gluten-free tortillas and serve them on top of the roast vegetables!

Pictures :

Brie-chilli-jam-method_mod

Brie and chilli jam parcels – method

Everyone needs a bit of Herman

THIS RECIPE IS NOT MY OWN!!!

Have just been through the Jubilee Weekend here in England, I have come to realise that there is something else other than soccer that the English are crazy about. The craze for growing and making Herman doesn’t quite compare to the Jubilee Celebrations but there are enough starters around England being passed from friend to friend. Go Herman!

It was a sleepy Sunday evening when friends of ours dropped in to give me a box of Herman and instructions as to what to do. All this might sound a bit kinky but I promise you it was the starter for a harmless sourdough cake. The instructions had a website  and Herman the German friendship cake seemed quite a fun thing to do, it was right up my alley and so I got started right away. as can the recipe for the basic apple and cinnamon cake and several other cake recipes.

 

Source:  http://www.hermanthegermanfriendshipcake.com/

 

Changes:

The first Herman I made was a double-Herman and took it into work. My team has nearly 80 members and Herman sure got devoured. The changes I made to the recipe are as follows.

1. I used two portions of sourdough to bake it and baked in a large lasagne dish.

2. I used gluten-free flour instead of standard flour as one of my colleagues is gluten-intolerant. If using gluten-free flour in England, I recommend the Doves Farm brand and make sure you add an extra half cup of milk to make the cake more moist.

3. I didn’t melt butter and sugar and pour it over the top – given my silly oven, I thought it would guarantee a burnt top if I did so.

4. However, I did make a simple crumble topping using 1 and 1/2 cups of gluten-free flour, 100 gms cold butter and 3/4 cup of Demerera (coffee) sugar. To make the crumble, rub the butter into the flour with your fingers using a pinching action. The crumble is ready when the flour and butter resemble breadcrumbs. At this stage, add the sugar and mix it in.

5. I used 3 large Bramley apples instead of 4 and left the skins on for extra nutrition.

6. I used 2 teaspoons of cinnamon and 2 teaspoons of nutmeg instead of cinnamon alone.

7. I cooked the double-Herman for 1 hour at 180ºC . The cake was rising like a volcano in the centre but still wobbly. At this point, I covered the cake with crumble and baked it for another hour. The crumble and cake were perfectly cooked by then.

8. I made a single Herman more recently and I really think one of us should take it into work lest we eat it all.

 

Tips:

1. The 45 minutes at 170-180º does not work if you have a dinky oven like I do. I placed the baking dish on one of the lower shelves of the oven and cooked it for nearly 2 hours. As the website says, if you find the top going a bit brown, cover it with silver foil and put it back in the oven.

2. If you don’t want your apples and raisins/sultanas to sink to the bottom, toss them in flour before adding them to the batter. The flour soaks up the moisture making the fruit lighter and more evenly distributed throughout the cake. Use the same trick for bits of chocolate or nuts.

3. If you are vegan, then use egg-substitute and leave the crumble out or use margarine instead of butter to make the crumble topping.

4. If you are really allergic to gluten, make Herman using gluten-free flour. My double-Herman was 1/7th gluten and 6/7th gluten-free flour.

 

Pictures:

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