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We all know about the joy of leftovers. I delight in this breakfast which makes perhaps some radical use of a somewhat worthy supper. Here’s a rather back-to-front recipe which puts the leftovers first.

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For the rather lovely breakfast:

  • toast and butter (I use the absolutely fantastic bread that I buy at http://www.thecakestore.co.uk/ they call it their low GI bread)
  • roasted tomatoes with garlic, virgin olive oil and balsamic vinegar
  • kale pesto

For the rather worthy supper: photo[1]

  • wholemeal pasta
  • kale pesto
  • roast tomatoes
  • grated cheese

For the kale pesto:

  • kale – parboiled
  • salted butter
  • chopped red onion
  • chopped leek
  • chopped garlic
  • butter

Parboil the kale, drain. Gently heat the onion, leek and garlic in some (salted) butter. Do not allow to brown. Throw the cooked kale, leek, onion and garlic into a food processor. Add a couple of anchovy  fillets, some parsley and rocket. Whizz it through. Mix in with the pasta. Enjoy. Enjoy even more the next day on some buttered toast. Make some excuses for your garlic breath. Or, serve pasta, pesto, with some lightly fried fish fillet on top. I found inspiration for the kale pesto recipe in Diana Henry’s marvellous A Change of Appetite, but have made some serious modifications. Looking forward to trying out some recipes from A Bird in the Hand.

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A perfect pudding for a wintery day. Comfort food at it’s stodgiest, this is a really traditional British pud that we all remember from our school dinners.

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Ingredients

  • 8-10 slices of day-old white bread
  • spread with butter – about 50g in total
  • 350ml milk
  • 50ml double cream
  • 2 eggs
  • 50g sultanas
  • 40g granulated sugar
  • cinnamon and nutmeg

Set the oven to 200C.

Butter a small baking dish.

Cut the crusts off the bread. Spread butter on one side of each slice.

Arrange a layer of bread, butter-side up on the bottom of the dish. Add a sprinkling of sultanas, and a sprinkling of cinnamon.

Cut the rest of the bread slices into triangles. Arrange beautifully on top of the sultanas/spices. Put sultanas and spices between each layer.

Then, put about half of the sugar into a large bowl. Whisk the eggs into the sugar.

Heat the milk and cream together in a small pan, until just under boiling point. Pour it onto the eggy sugary mix and whisk it well.

Pour the custard over the bread, grate a little nutmeg and sprinkle the remaining sugar over the top and leave it to sit and soak for about half an hour.

Bake for 30-40 minutes.

Serve hot with cream, or cold from the ‘fridge the next day.

Serves 6

Feed the crusts to the birds.

P1030375

It occurred to me recently that blini are the twenty-first-century equivalent of vol-au-vents. I love them anyway. To me they are the perfect party nibble. I like them with taramasalata and caviar, or sour cream with horseradish and smoked salmon.

I would definitely advise you to make these in advance and freeze. They can be a little smokey to cook, and quite time consuming, so you want them done well before guests arrive. They keep very well in the freezer and take just five minutes to heat in the oven.

Before you start, make sure that you are not in a hurry – you will need plenty of time for the batter to rest, and the blini need to be cooked in batches.

Ingredients:

  • 165g plain flour
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 5g easy-blend dried yeast
  • 150ml creme fraiche
  • 175ml milk
  • 2 eggs, separated

Sieve the flour, salt and yeast into a large bowl.

Heat the milk and creme fraiche in a small pan. Do not allow it to get too hot. It needs to be luke-warm/blood temperature – any hotter, you kill the yeast.

Whisk the milk into the dry ingredients. Add the egg yolks and whisk again. Cover with a tea-towel. Put the bowl in a warm place for about an hour.

After an hour, the mixture should have started to bubble up.

Whisk the egg whites until they form stiff peaks, and fold into your batter. Cover with a tea towel. Put the bowl in a warm place for about an hour.

Now you are ready to cook the blini. If you have a good thick-bottomed, non-stick frying pan you should need hardly any butter. Indeed, after my first batch I didn’t use any butter at all. Fry up the blini, about a teaspoon at a time. You might need to experiment a little, but I find it helps not to have the hob at it’s highest temperature.

I freeze these on trays overnight, wrapped in cling-film. Then throw them into a ziplock bag.

Hint: To serve, put the blini on a baking tray in the oven at 200C for just five minutes.

Hint: For the sour cream and horseradish topping, I find that 250ml sour cream to 2 tsp horseradish sauce is just about perfect. Don’t forget lots of black pepper.

MAKES ABOUT 80

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P1030642

I probably make banana bread once a fortnight, and I’ve posted some fancy schmantzy pansty banana breads here. But the recipe I turn to over and over again is this one: simple, basic, no booze, no nuts, no figs, no frosting. You can adapt it as you wish, add choc chips, cocoa, nuts or alcohol. We like this one just as it comes.

Ingredients

  • 3-5 ripe bananas
  • 50g melted butter
  • 150g golden caster sugar
  • 2 eggs
  • 1 tsp vanilla essence
  • 125g self-raising flour

Pre-heat the oven to 170C/150C fan.

Line a baking tray with tin-foil. Lay the bananas out on the prepared baking sheet. Make pricks with a fork, about 1 inch apart. Bake for twenty minutes. The skin of the banana will turn black and a lot of liquid will come out of the bananas. The idea is that this will intensify the flavour and sweetness of the banana. Allow to cool.

Meanwhile grease and line a loaf-tin.

Melt the butter in a large mixing bowl. Add the sugar and whisk through.

Add the eggs, one at a time, whisking constantly, then add the vanilla.

Whisk in the bananas.

Fold the flour into the mixture.

Once all the ingredients have been fully mixed together, spoon into your loaf tin.

Bake for 45 minutes to 1 hour (at 150C), depending on the skewer test.

Allow to cool and enjoy each slice with or without butter. (Butter’s better.) Great for school lunchboxes.

My favorite banana bread is this one, with figs and ginger. You might also like this one with rum and walnuts, but my children definitely prefer it plain.

P1030637

This is a quick and easy supper I put together for myself the other evening when my husband was out. I had some left-over quinoa from the previous evening and just wanted to scramble something together fast.

Ingredients

  • quinoa, about two cups (cooked)
  • a splash of olive oil, some salt and pepper
  • 1 courgette, roughly chopped
  • 1/2 red pepper (capsicum)
  • a handful of cherry tomatoes
  • 3 cloves of garlic
  • 1 small red onion, sliced
  • 1/2 leek
  • 4-5  leaves of cavolo nero
  • a good handful of parsley, chopped

Pre-heat the oven to 200C

My  quinoa was pre-cooked. But here is what to do if you don’t have the luxury of leftovers:

Cook the quinoa on the hob over a low temperature. In general with quinoa, you use double the amount of water to grain. In this recipe I used 1 cup of quinoa, to two cups of water, adding a little vegetable bouillon for flavour. Cook for about twenty minutes until the kernels begin to separate.

Put the chopped courgette, red pepper,  tomatoes and garlic in a small oven-proof dish. Drizzle with a little olive oil, salt and pepper. Roast for around fifteen-twenty minutes.

In the meantime, very gently fry the onion and leek together in a non-stick frying pan. Add the cavolo nero and chopped parsley. Add the quinoa, and finally the roasted vegetables.

You could serve with some grated cheese on top. Delicious.

SERVES 1.

 

 

 

P1030629

I was in my local fishmonger‘s a couple of weeks ago, and my eyes were caught by some skate cheeks. These are something I have never cooked with. They look a little like scallops, and I have learnt since that you can treat them in the same way. But the fishmonger recommended a fish curry. I turned to Nigella as my inspiration, and this is what I came up with:

Ingredients

  • Skate cheeks (I’m not sure what the weight was, I asked the fishmonger for enough for two people, she gave me perhaps 10-12 pieces)
  • a little salt
  • 2 teaspoons turmeric
  • 1 red onion, finely sliced
  • 3 cloves of garlic, finely sliced
  • chilli
  • 1 inch or so of fresh ginger
  • 1 teaspoon ground cumin
  • 1 400ml can of coconut milk
  • 3 tsp tamarind paste
  • 1 fish-stock cube
  • chopped coriander

As instructed by Nigella, sprinkle the fish with a little salt, and a teaspoon of turmeric. Return it to the ‘fridge whilst you get on with the sauce.

Gently fry the onion, garlic, chilli, and garlic until softened. Add the cumin and remaining turmeric.

Add the coconut milk, tamarind paste, fish stock cube and a little boiling water to the mix.

Allow to simmer for ten minutes or so.

Cool slightly. Then, using a hand-blender, whizz the sauce to a smooth consistency.

If you are making the sauce ahead of time, this is a good time to stop.

Otherwise, if you are just about ready to eat, add the fish to the sauce and simmer for five minutes or so. Skate cheeks have a single bone, which you can (in a very sophisticated manner) spit out whilst eating.

Serve with rice, and a sprinkling of coriander.

SERVES 2.

P1030321

I was going to do this with sardines, but the fishmonger didn’t have any. Anyway, the herring worked out perfectly, and I felt less awkward about asking for them to be filleted.

Ingredients

  • 6 cherry tomatoes
  • 3-4 cloves of garlic
  • olive oil
  • linguine
  • 1/2 bulb of fennel, sliced
  • 3 herring fillets, chopped into bitesize chunks
  • 1/2 lemon – zest and juice
  • parsley, finely chopped
  • rocket

Optional extras

  • a splash of white wine
  • red chilli, finely chopped, or some chilli flakes
  • toasted pine nuts
  • anchovies

First of all, roast the tomatoes and garlic with a little olive oil. This takes about 20 minutes and can be done in advance, if you’re using the oven for something else.

Cook the linguine according to the instructions on the packet.

Meanwhile slice the fennel, and fry it in a little olive oil. One it has started to caramelise, add the herring.

Add the cooked, drained linguine to the pan.

Stir in the roast tomatoes and garlic, lemon zest and juice, parsley and rocket.

I served with samphire.

SERVES 2.

P1030124

New year, old bananas. I have a freezer full of bananas, as usual. So when I needed to make something for the school lunch boxes, it had to be something banana-based. This tray-bake is very, (very) loosely based on my staple banana cake recipe, but I have added some orange and a dark chocolate drizzle, and omitted the cream cheese topping, among other things.

Incidentally, in addition to the banana cake, Sam is getting a fresh banana in his lunch box tomorrow.

Ingredients

  • 125g softened butter
  • 100g caster sugar
  • 2 tbsp runny honey
  • grated zest of one orange
  • 2 eggs
  • 2 bananas
  • juice of one orange
  • 250g self-raising flour
  • 25g dark chocolate for drizzling
  • You could, if you like, add chocolate chips to the above ingredients

Pre-heat the oven to 180C.

Grease and line a baking tray (mine is 28cm x 18cm).

Whisk the butter and sugar together, add the honey and orange zest. Beat in two eggs, and then two bananas.

Add the juice of the orange, whisk again.

Add the self-raising flour (and if including, now would be a good time for the chocolate chips). Mix until the flour is fully incorporated into the batter.

Pour the mixture into your baking tray.

Bake for around 20 minutes, or until a skewer comes out clean.

Once the cake has fully cooled, drizzle some melted dark chocolate over the top.

If you want to be really adventurous, you could use melted Terry’s Chocolate Orange instead of normal dark chocolate.

Makes about 12 squares.

Here's one I made earlier

Here's one I made earlier

Hi, my name's Helen and I live in London with my husband and two children. When I started piping the potato on my shepherd's pies, my husband suggested that it might be a good idea for me to find an outlet for my creativity, so here we are. I spend a lot of time in the kitchen, the extra twist is that I don't eat meat (I do eat fish though) and Jim, who loves meat, is always on a diet. Here are a few recipes that I have enjoyed making for my family.

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