Pasta e fagioli – One New Recipe A Week

I’ve had a miserable cold this week so was hankering after soup today, whilst ask my 4-year old what she wants for tea and she inevitably says ‘pasta’ so this hearty pasta and bean soup from the Italian Puglia region totally hits the spot. This recipe replaces beans (and i’ve made similar soups before with Borlotti beans which work really well) with chickpeas which my daughter refers to as simply ‘yummy scrummy’. The recipe states that the pasta shapes traditionally used are ‘orecchiette’ or ‘little ears’ but any small-ish pasta shape works well. I actually only had fusilli (twists) in which were fine too.

The recipe is taken from ‘Easy Vegetarian one-pot’ – which is a very handy book including over 100 salads, frittatas, stews, tagines and so on. I amended the amounts from serves 4 down to 3 – it was just me and the 4 year-old this evening so there some left over for my work lunch tomorrow. The chilli flakes give this a lovely warmth and i’d probably add more if it was just for me and my OH. A tasty, filling, healthy and quick to make soup.

Ingredients:

250g/9oz dried chickpeas (i just used about 3/4 of a tin of chickpeas)
2 tablespoons olive oil
1 onion, finely chopped (i used half a medium sized onion)
2 garlic cloves, finely chopped (i just used one)
a sprig of fresh rosemary (didn’t have this so just used dried mixed herbs)
1/4 teaspoon dried chilli/hot pepper flakes
400g/14oz can chopped tomatoes
1 tablespoon tomato puree/paste
1.5 litres/6 cups vegetable stock (i cut this down to about half a litre but i like quite thick soups)
100g/3.5oz small pasta shapes such as orecchiete or conchigliette
sea salt and freshly ground pepper
freshly grated parmesan cheese to serve (or veggie alternative. i used a Pecorino cheese)
extra virgin olive oil, to serve

(If not just using a tin of chickpeas…) Soak the chickpeas in cold water overnight. Drain and put in a large saucepan with sufficient cold water to cover. Bring to the boil, reduce the heat to medium and cook, uncovered, for 45 minutes, until very tender. Drain and set asaide.

Heat the oil in a large, heavy-based saucepan set over medium heat. Add the onion, garlic, rosemary and chilli/hot pepper flakes along with a pinch of salt and cook for 8-10 minutes, stirring often, until the onoin has softened.

Increase the heat to high. Stir in the tomatoes, tomato puree/paste, stock and the chickpeas and bring to the boil. Add the pasta, reduce the heat to a medium simmer and cook for about 20 minutes, until the pasta is tender. Season to taste with salt and pepper.

Serve sprinkled with cheese and drizzled with olive oil.

Banana Tea Bread (or Banana and Walnut Loaf) – One New Recipe a Week

With only 2 out of the 3 members of our household eating bananas, we regularly end up some weeks with some pretty sorry-looking speckled black-skinned bananas. Hating the idea of chucking them in the bin, over the last year i’ve regularly made banana-related muffins and cakes (a favourite being Nigel Slater’s Black Banana Cake).

I know there are a million different versions of banana bread but i didn’t fancy making it with chocolate and i’ve never actually made one with walnuts so i turned to the Baking Bible – ie: the Be Ro Home Recipes book which has a recipe for Banana Tea Bread (or Banana and Walnut loaf). I picked up the 40th edition last year but the 41st edition is the most recent release and it’s available on Amazon too, which is chock-full of basic and traditional cakes and pastries but just can’t be beat. I’ve made a few things out of here which have all been excellent. This was my first attempt at baking with my new oven so had to adjust a bit (and covered the loaf for the last 15 mins or so baking time so as not to overcook the top) but am really pleased – it’s delicious (and made great use of a handful of manky bananas).

Banana Tea Bread

225g (8ox) Be-Ro Self Raising Flour
1/4 teaspoon Bicarbonate of Soda
pinch Salt
75g (3oz) butter (i used Bertolli butter-like spread)
175g (6oz) caster sugar
2 medium eggs, beaten
450g (1lb) bananas, weighed with skin, peeled, mashed (i had just under this – about 4 large bananas)
100g (4oz) walnuts, chopped

1) Heat Oven to 180C/350F/Gas Mark 4. Grease and line the base of a 1kg (2lb) loaf tin
2) Mix together flour, bicarbonate of soda and salt
3) Cream the butter and sugar until pale and fluffy, add the eggs a little at a time alternately with the flour.
4) Stir in the bananas and walnuts and place in prepared tin. Bake for about 1 1/4 hours. (i checked after an hour and turned the heat down to 160C for the last 15mins- i have a fan oven – and covered the top of the loaf with parchment so it didn’t burn).
5) Cool on a wire rack

 

Channa aur simla mirch and Matar Paneer – One New Recipe A Week

Or Fried Chick Peas and Peppers and Peas and Cheese in Tomato Sauce…

Have to be honest – this is i suppose another guest post by my OH who made these dishes for dinner a couple of weeks after we moved into our new house (5 weeks ago now!) and have either been unpacking/knackered/watching the Olympics in recent weeks (Team GB has 22 Golds at time of writing this – Amazing!) so haven’t got round to adding it. Which is remiss of me because both dishes were absolutely gorgeous and were again from rediscovered favourite The Hare Krishna Book of Vegetarian Cooking. It took only half an hour or so to make both dishes and were served with plain white basmati rice.

So both recipes just taken from the book and any comments in italics:

Channa aur simla mirch (Fried Chick peas and peppers)
1 1/2 cups (250g) chick-peas (we used a tin of chick peas)
1 1/2 tsp salt
2 tbs ghee or vegetable oil
2 tsp cumin seeds
1 or 2 fresh chillies, minced (these were just chopped up)
1 tsp grated fresh ginger (dried is fine)
1/2 tsp tumeric
1/2 tsp asafetida
1 green bell pepper, cut into 1/2-inch (1.5cm) pieces
1 medium-sized tomato, washed and chopped (optional)
2 medium-sized tomatoes, washed and cut into 8 wedges each

Soak the chick-peas overnight in water to double their volume (or just use tinned chick peas). Drain them and put them into a pot. Add enough water to cover them by about 3 inches (7.5cm) and add 1/2 teaspoon of salt. Boil for 10 minutes. Remove any froth that has collected on top, cover and gently simmer over medium-low het for 40 minutes to 1 hour, until chick peas are tender. Then drain off the water (save 1/2 cup – 125ml – if you plan to make a sauce) (IGNORE all this if you’re using tinned chick peas instead).
Over medium heat, heath the ghee or vegetable oil in a frying pan and fry the cumin seeds. Then add the minced chilli and ginger. Add the turmeric and asafetida and then follow immediately with the cut pepper. Turn the pieces of pepper with a spoon. When they appear soft and browned, add the drained chick-peas and stir for 3 minutes. Then add the remaining salt. If you would like a sauce, add the water you saved or 1 chopped tomato and cook 5 minutes more. (The 2 medium-szed tomatoes are to be served as garnish)

Matar Paneer (Peas and cheese in tomato sauce)

(You can adjust the thickness of the sauce to your taste by varying the amount of water. Thin, it goes well with rice, thick with chapatis).

8oz (225g) Paneer (Indian cheese now widely available in supermarkets- though you could use any decent hard cheese like cheddar)
ghee or vegetable oil for deep frying (sort-of optional)
4 tsp salt
2 1/2 tsp turmeric
2 tbs ghee
1/2 tsp cumin seeds
1 or 2 fresh chillies, seeded and minced
1 tsp grated fresh ginger
1/4 tsp asafetida
1lb (450g) fresh peas shelled (we used frozen peas)
2/3 cup (150ml) water
6 tomatoes, chopped
1 1/2 tbs lemon juice
1 tsp garam masala

Knead the paneer well until it is smooth and soft. Then, form it into grape sized balls and deep fry them in ghee or vegetable oil until they are crisp and golden-brown. (NB – if using supermarket bought paneer, you don’t need to do this – OH just cuts the block of paneer – see pic – and just frys in a little ghee rather than deep fry). Remove them from the ghee with a slotted spoon and drop them into a solution of 3 teaspoons of salt, 2 teaspoons of turmeric and 2 cups of warm water or whey. Let them soak while you go on to the next step (NB – you don’t really need to do this either…)
In a medium sized saucepan, heath the 2 tablespoons of ghee over medium heat. Then add the cumin seeds, followed by the minced chillies and grated giner. When the cumin seeds are browned (in about 30 to 45 seconds) toss in the asafetida, the remaining turmeric and a few seconds later the peas. Now add the water, cover the pan, and cook the peas until they are tender. Add the tomatoes and cheese balls (paneer chunks). Cook over the same medium heat for 5 more minutes. Just before serving, add a generous squeeze of lemon, and season with the remaining teaspoon of salt and the garam masala.

Fried chick-peas and peppers and Peas and cheese in tomato sauce

Alu phul gobhi ki bhaji – One New Recipe a Week

Wasn’t sure i’d get this posted this week but i have – Alu phul gobhi ki bhaji is Cauliflower and potatoes in yogurt sauce from The Hare Krishna Book of Vegetarian Cooking by Adiraja Dasa. Now, before you run away screaming, i am not part of the Hare Krishna religion (or any, come to that) but some years ago this was about the only decent vegetarian Indian cookbook you could get and my OtherHalf was browsing at the weekend trying to see how we could use up some frozen veg before moving house, specifically a load of frozen Cauliflower, and came across this recipe.

So, i absolutely can’t take any credit for making this at all but it was so delicious i couldn’t not share it. My OH also said it was ridiculously easy and took less than half an hour. He also made a quick red lentil dahl to go with it too. One thing to note about Hare Krishna Indian cooking is that they don’t use Onion (goes against Vedic principles). The book actually has some really intesting chapters on Vegetarianism (bear in mind i’m not vegetarian – still an interesting read though) aswell as useful information on the kinds of Utensils used in Indian cooking as well as some handy suggested menus and has sections on Spices and Herbs, Milk products, Rice, Dals and Soups, Breads and Pancakes, Vegetables, Savories, Chutneys and Raitas, Sweets and Beverages. Definately worth hunting down if you want to try some authentic Indian vegetarian dishes, and simply skip past the Hare Krishna stuff if it’s not your bag.

Recipe copied from the book:

This technique of frying vegetables first in a masala, then steaming them, can be applied to other types of vegetables as well. People sometimes refer to this method as “curried” vegetables.

1 medium-sized cauliflower (we used few handfuls of frozen veg which we defrosted first)
5 tbs ghee or vegetable oil
2 tsp cumin seeds
1 or 2 dried chillies, crushed
2 tsp ground coriander
1 tsp turmeric
1/2 tsp asafetida
4 medium-sized potatoes, peeled and cubed
4 tbs water
1 1/2 tsp salt
1 cup (250ml) plain yogurt
3/4 tsp garam masala
2 firm ripe tomatoes, washed and sliced
1 lemon or lime (we used a bit of lemon juice)

Trim the cauliflower and cut it into flowerets 1 1/2 inches (4cm) long by 1 inch (2.5cm) thick. Rinse them in a colander and let drain.
Heat the ghee or oil in a heavy saucepan over medium heat. Drop in the cumin seeds and crushed chillies and fry them for 30 to 45 seconds, until the cumin seeds turn golden brown. Add the powdered spices, fry for a few seconds longer, then immediately add the cubed potatoes. Turn the potatoes for 2 or 3 minutes, letting them brown in spots, Now stir in the cauliflower and stir-fry for another 2-3 minutes. Then add the water and salt and put the lid on the pan to trap the steam. Cook over medium heat, shaking the pan occasionally, for about 15 minutes, until the vegetables are tender but still firm.
Finally, stir in the yogurt and simmer for a few minutes until the sauce is thick. Sprinkle with garam masala and stir gently to mix. Garnish each serving with slices of tomato and a twist of lemon or lime.

Preparation and cooking time: 25 min
(above recipe for 4 people – we reduced amount of potato and cauliflower by roughly half for 2 people).

Oaty Rhubarb and Ginger Crumble – One new recipe a week

It was Fathers Day in the UK yesterday so i’d planned to use the Rhubarb from Father-in-laws’ garden plus some i’d picked up from the supermarket to do a crumble. I’ve made crumbles before and love them, so had planned to try a new Nigella Lawson recipe which is in her book Feast but, thanks to TheYoungLady having a protracted tantrum which meant i didn’t start preparing the rhubarb until over an hour later than planned, so reverted back to a Delia Smith recipe i’ve made before. I know – so, not strictly one new recipe this week but it was the most successful crumble i think i’ve ever made (of the handful i’ve done!) and i was really pleased with it. TheYoungLady helped make the crumble mix and even ate some too (though decided she didn’t like the custard…what?). If you’ve never come across Delia Smith before, she is basically your mum, but with every recipe under the sun. Her cooking is pretty failsafe, not overly complicated and accessible. My mum bought me the Complete Cookery Course when i went away to University. I never used it then of course but find myself going back to it regularly (even for basic things like white sauce) now all the time.

Recipe for Basic Crumble Topping and Rhubarb and Ginger Crumble taken from Delia Smith’s classic Complete Cookery Course (Classic edition). I used the topping variation with oats but have included the basic and variations here. Serve with your choice of custard, ice cream, yoghurt etc (we went with custard this time). After baking, i left mine in the top oven for the afternoon and the crumble topping settled to a lovely oaty, crisp crust. Delicious. My comments in italics.

Basic Crumble Topping (Serves 6 people – ahemor fewer people who just happen to love crumble)

8oz plain or wholewheat flour (225g)
3oz butter (75g) at room temperature – i used half fat butter-like spread (Flora)
3-4oz soft brown sugar (75-110g), according to taste – i used 2oz soft brown sugar and 2oz demerera

Pre-hear the oven to gas mark 4, 350F (180C).
Place the flour in a large mixing bowl, then add the butter and rub it into the flour lightly, using your fingertips. Then when it all lookscrumbly and the fat has been dispersed firly evenly, add the sugar and combine that well with the rest. (i combined it all at the same time but thats because i don’t read recipes properly)
Now sprinkle the crumble mixture all over the fruit in a pie-dish or shallow gratin dish, spreading it out with a fork. Place the crumble on a high shelf in the oven and bake it for 30-40 minutes or until the top is tinged with brown.

Variations on the crumble topping
1) Instead of all flour use 4oz (110g) wholewheat flour and 4oz (110g) jumbo or porridge oats (i used half plain flour and half porridge oats).
2) Instead of all flour use 4oz (110g) wholewhat flour and 4oz (110g) unsweetened muesli
3) For a nut crumble topping, use 6oz (175g) wholewheat flour and 3oz (75g) chopped nuts. You will need to use only 3oz (75g) of soft brown sugar with the 3oz (75g) of butter.

Rhubarb and ginger crumble
Use 2lb (900g) rhubarb (i had about 800g and added an apple and a half to get up to 900g), 3oz (75g) soft brown sugar and 1 level teaspoon ground ginger.
Cut the rhubarb into chunks, then place in a saucepan together with the sugar and the ginger. Cook over a gentle heat (covered) for about 15 minutes (mine was done in a about 8 minutes but i was on a high heat – duh!) stirring to get the uncooked pieces at the top down into the heat. Try not to overcook it though – it should be chuncky, not mushy. When it’s cooked, drain off about half the juice (i kept this syrup – well what was left after daughter kept eating it – to drizzle over yoghurt) then transfer the fruit to a pie-dish, sprinkle with a crumble topping and bake for 30-40 minutes.

The chocolate chilli cake volcanic eruption – One new recipe a week

So, with the prospect of the French Open Mens tennis final and footy in the form of the European Championships taking up most of my Sunday, i made the most of my OH taking TheYoungLady swimming to bake a cake – for sustainance during all this sport-watching obviously!

It had been some time since i’d baked just by myself and i’d forgotten how much i enjoyed it. Whilst i love baking with my daughter, it can be less than relaxing at times and i decided i needed to bake solitary. I have some rhubarb (from father in law’s garden) so a crumble is on the cards but i fancied chocolate and thought i’d dip into a book i haven’t yet cooked from. Viewers in the UK will be aware of the TV amateur baking competition phenomenon that is The Great British Bake Off and the firm guidance of renowned cookery writer and baker, Mary Berry and Master Baker Paul Hollywood. The book i have (The Great British Bake Off: How to Bake – recipes by Linda Collister) is from the second series and does include some scary technical challenges but also some great ideas for baking with kids and baked goods that aren’t too complicated (ahem – see below).I however made a couple of mistakes which proved to be quite dramatic.

Chocolate Chilli Cake (described as ‘A plain and fairly simple chocolate loaf cake..with a kick)

Makes 1 large loaf cake

250ml semi-skimmed or full-fat milk
100g dark chocolate (70% cocoa solids) broken up
1/4 teaspoon ground ginger
1/4 teaspoon Tabasco sauce (or to taste)
250g plain flour
1 tablespoon cocoa powder
2 teaspoons baking powder
1/2 teaspoon bicarbonate of soda
150g unsalted butter, softened
300g light brown muscovado sugar (i just used normal light brown sugar)
1 tablespoon black treacle
3 large free-range eggs at room temperature
cocoa powder or icing sugar, for dusting

1 900g loaf tin, about 26 x 12.5 x 7.5cm greased and the base lined with baking paper

1) Preheat the oven to 180C/350F/gas 4. Heat the milk in a small pan until scalding hot but not boiling. Remove from the heat and add the chocolate, ginger and Tabasco (for some reason i must have misread the recipe and added the treacle here too – DON’T). Stir or whisk gently until melted and smooth. Leave to cool. Meanwhile, sift the flour, cocoa powder, baking powder and bicarbonate of soda into a bowl. Set aside until needed.

2) Put the soft butter into a mixing bowl and beat with a wooden spoon or an electric mixer until creamy. Make sure the sugar is free of lumps then gradually beat it into the butter, followed by the treacle. Beat thoroughly for 4 to 5 minutes or until the mixture looks much paler and fluffier in texture.

3) Beat the eggs with a fork just to mix, then gradually add to the mixture, beating well after each addition. Using a large metal spoon, stir in the flour mixture in 3 batches, alternately with the cold chocolate milk (Book tip – Make sure the chocolate milk is cold before mixing it into the creamed mixture or it will melt the butter). When thoroughly combined pour into the prepared tin and spread evenly.

4) Bake for 55 to 60 minutes or until form and a skewer inserted into the centre comes out clean. Leave to cool in the tin for 5 minutes – the cake will shrink slightly – then turn out onto a wire rack and cool completely. For the best flavour, wrap the bake in foil and keep for a day before cutting. Dust with cocoa powder or icing sugar before serving.

The two mistakes i made were: putting the treacle into the chocolate milk and not cooling the chocolate milk enough. So what happened in the over was a Vesuvius-like eruption of cake mixture when in the oven:

Chocolate Chilli cake batter erupting in oven

So, i was panicking a bit at this point and was might glad i’d put the loaf tin on a huge baking tray. I was thinking i’d put too much baking powder/bicarb in, but i’d definately stuck to the recipe. It soon settled though and so ended up looking like this when cooked:

So, the bonus here (thanks to my OH:-) is that i ended up with a loaf cake plus extra bits! However, am not too despondent and have learned from my mistakes. Next time, i’ll definately make sure my chocolate milk is cool enough and not add the treacle to it. It tastes great though next time i’d also add more ground ginger and Tabasco for heat (i can’t really taste the Chilli). Next day it tasted even better, was still ridiculously moist and even my daughter wolfed a wedge of it down (she loves baking but normally doesn’t eat cake!).

 

Nigella’s Spaghetti with Marmite (or Vegemite) – One New Recipe A Week

Not only have we had unseasonably good weather in Glasgow (meaning salads rather than heavy meals being the order of the day), we’ve also had an extended bank holiday weekend thanks to Queen Elizabeth 2 being on the throne for 60 years. I care not for the Jubilee celebrations particularly but re-quainted myself with the delights of Gin and Tonic; introduced TheYoungLady to lunch at Jamie’s (as in Jamie Oliver) Italian restaurant in Glasgow and had a lovely long weekend seeing family and friends.

So, you’ll forgive the slight cheat here as i actually made this dish for the first time a few weeks ago (before the idea of One New Recipe A Week) but it is just so quick, easy and tasty (though i guess, not so much if you don’t like Marmite…) that i wanted to log it here too. I also tweeted about how much i loved it and how i never wanted to eat anything else ever again and Nigella Lawson DM’d me to say how pleased she was. I like to think it was her rather than someone who just works for her, and given that she tweets pictures of her meals (really!), i think it is but follow her @Nigella_Lawson and see for yourself.

You can find a prettier picture of the dish as well as Nigella explaining more about how the dish originated on her website but if you love Spaghetti and you love Marmite then you can’t go wrong here. My 3 year old loved it too, as did my OH, who is not so much of a Marmite devourer, but the marmite with butter and pasta water is just too moreish and it has become not only a quick-tea staple but a favourite comfort-food too.

Recipe taken from Nigella Lawson Kitchen and Nigella website and any comments of mine in italics.

  • 375g dried spaghetti (i have one of those Spaghetti measurers – they have different hole sizes for 1, 2, 3, 4 people)
  • 50g unsalted butter
  • 1 teaspoon Marmite or more, to taste (i always use more than a teaspoon but you may wish to stick to this for your first attempt)
  • freshly grated Parmesan cheese to serve

    Serves: 4 -6

    1. Cook the spaghetti in plenty of boiling salted water, according to the packet instructions.
    2. When the pasta is almost cooked, melt the butter in a small saucepan and add the Marmite and 1 tablespoon of the pasta water, mixing thoroughly to dissolve.  Reserve 1/2 a cup of pasta water; then drain the pasta and pour the Marmite/Vegemite mixture over the drained spaghetti, adding a little reserved pasta water to amalgamate if required. Serve with plenty of grated Parmesan cheese. (i tend to just use whatever cheese i have in…cheddar is fine)
    3. For vegetarians replace the Parmesan cheese with a vegetarian alternative.

Cheat’s Easy Onion, Tomato, Spinach and Cheese Tart – One new recipe a week

After the near-disaster of the Blueberry Muffins i decided to try and redeem myself a bit and bake something else immediately afterwards. I’d picked up some pre-made shortcrust pastry (which was reduced in the supermarket – i normally make my own and yes, home-made always tastes better but sometimes it’s just handy to have some in the fridge!) and on the back of the packet there was a recipe for an Easy Bacon, Tomato and Cheese Tart which i decided to adapt and omit the bacon and add some onion and spinach instead (both of which we have loads of at the moment). If you want to make your own pastry then an easy recipe is here on the BBC Good Food website. My comments in italics.

500g JUS-ROL shortcrust pastry (or your own-made pastry)
5-6 Spring onions (i just chopped up one normal onion and softened them in a pan)
4-5 rashers bacon chopped (i omitted this but you could also use Quorn or similar veggie bacon)
3 eggs
250ml milk (i used semi-skimmed)
seasoning
2 tomatoes
3 heaped tbsp Cheddar Cheese – grated
A few basil leaves (optional)
(i also included a couple of handfuls of spinach wilted in a pan)

Follow pastry preparation instructions. Preheat oven to 200c (180c for fan-assisted ovens)/Gas Mark 6.

1) Roll out pastry and line a 20cm flan tin (i blind baked mine for about 15 minutes or so but you don’t have to do this – my OH’s mum never does and her tarts/quiches are always excellent and not soggy at all – and i’m not just saying that:-)
2) Gently fry the bacon until just cooked and allow to cool (instead i had my chopped onion on a low heat to soften in one pan and had wilted my spinach in another and laid it on a bit of kitchen towel to saok up any excess liquid). Meanwhile beat together then eggs and milk and add seasoning.
3) Scatter the bacon in the base of the pastry case with the (spring) onions and cheese. Add tomato slices on top (i also added the spinach here) then pour in the egg mixture. (I don’t know about you but i always seem to have some mixture seep a bit through my case here and either have to do a bit of damage limitation if its over the tops by added a bit of spare pastry or mopping up any thats spilled onto the baking tray then getting it into the oven as quickly as possible! – i think i may just need a new flan tin…)
4) Bake for approx. 20 minutes until filling is set and pastry is golden. If desired, scatter with basil leaves.

Was really pleased with this (despite TYL refusing to eat any *sigh*) and it was great cold next day for lunch too.

 

 

The almost Blueberry Muffin disaster – One new recipe a week

One of the perils of baking with children is that you can be so distracted by making sure that bag of flour/box of eggs doesn’t end up on the floor or that half the batter doesn’t mysteriously disappear (into said child) while you’re back’s turned that you can make mistakes. That’s my excuse anyway and i’m sticking to it!

I have made Blueberry Muffins before with TheYoungLady but hadn’t tried this recipe (below) so it is a genuinely new recipe for me. All was going well and TYL was having great fun mixing the dry ingredients, whilst i was mixing the wet. I realised however, only as soon as the muffins that i’d forgotten to put the oil in (which i had sitting out too!) – DOH! Luckily this is a milk-based muffin recipe so it was moist enough and they still taste pretty good. They’ll taste even better next time when i remember all the ingredients…..

Recipe for Blueberry Muffins (recipe 651) from 1001 Cupcakes, Cookies and other tempting treats by Susanna Tee which was a gift a couple of Christmases ago. My comments in italics.

6 tbsp sunflower oil or 85g/3 oz butter, melted and cooled plus extra for greasing (i was just going to use Vegetable Oil, which i’ve used before in a couple of Nigella Lawson muffin recipes)
280g/10oz plain flour
1 tbsp baking powder
pinch of salt
115g/4oz soft light brown sugar
150g/5 1/2oz frozen blueberries (i used fresh)
2 eggs
250ml/9fl oz milk (i used semi-skimmed as that’s what’s always in our fridge)
1 tsp vanilla extract
finely grated rind of 1 lemon (i just added a splash of lemon juice)

Preheat oven to 200C/400F/Gas Mark 6. Grease a 12 hole muffin tin (or just use paper cases). Sift together the flour, baking powder and salt into a large bowl. Stir in the sugar and blueberries.

Place the eggs in a large jug or bowl and beat lightly, then beat in the milk, oil, vanilla extract and lemon rind. Make a well in the centre of the dry ingredients and pour in the beaten liquid ingredients. Stir until just combined. Do not overmix. Spoon the mixture into the muffin tin.

Bake in the preheated oven for 20 minutes or until well risen, golden brown and firm to the touch. Leave to cool in the tin for 5 minutes then serve warm or transfer to a wire rack to cool completely.

Summer Spaghetti with Avocado – One new recipe a week

I have been waiting for over a week for these Avocado’s to ripen which i bought from Asda (serves me right i know..) and after flicking through Rose Elliot’s Vegetarian Meals in Minutes, just had to make this dish. Combining two of my favourite things to eat; the aforementioned Avocado and Spaghetti – both of which I could eat daily and never tire of either.

Rose suggests eating this with hot garlic bread and a leafy salad – we just had big bowls of it which were just as delicious without any accompaniements. The amounts here serve 2, so just adjust accordingly if feeding a family. I didn’t try it on TheYoungLady today (she was a bit of a grumpus today so not really in a mood to try anything new…) but certainly will in future. Its quick, taking only as long as the spaghetti takes to cook, healthy and is a lovely light spaghetti dish. My comments are in italics (apologies for rubbish pics – my Blackberry phone camer is starting to show its age – i must use my camera next time!).

450g/1lb tomatoes (I cheated here and just used a 400g tin of Italian plum tomatoes)
175g/6oz spaghetti
2tbls olive oil (i may have added a tad more.…)
1 garlic clove, crushed
salt and freshly ground black pepper (i used sea salt after having acquired a free tube of it from a colleague this week who’d been given two by mistake in her online Waitrose food delivery order..delicious)
1 avocado
lemon juice
6-8 large basil leaves (i used some frozen chopped basil leaves here)
freshly grated Parmesan cheese – optional (or whatever cheese you have handy)

1) First fill a saucepan with 2 litres/3.5 pints of water and bring to the boil for the pasta
2) Put the tomatoes into a bowl, cover with boiling water and leave for a few seconds until the skins split. Drain, cover with cold water and slip off the skins with a sharp knife. Chop the tomatoes roughly, removing any hard bits of core. (Or you can skip this bit and use a tin of tomatoes like i did – you will have more sauce but thats ok).
3) When the water boils, add the spaghetti and cook, uncovered for about 8 mijutes until al dente.
4) Heat the oil in a large saucepan, add the garlic and cook over a moderate heat for 1-2 minutes. Add the chopped tomatoes and salt and pepper to taste and heat gently, just to warm through. Peel, stone and chop the avocado (or scoop/gouge out the flesh as best you can – i find the idea of peeling an avocado messy) and toss it in a little lemon juice.
5) Drain the pasta and return it to the still-warm saucepan. Add the tomato misxture and the avocado and toss well to mix, the tear in the basil (as i was using frozen, i put the basil into the chopped tomatoes at stage 4), check the seasoning and serve. Hand round Parmesan cheese separately, if you like.