Monthly Archives: January 2015

Quick Loaf



How many times have you wanted to make a loaf, looked at the clock and thought ‘No not enough time’. Or thought yes I would like the loaf but I haven’t time to do all that kneading., and bread machine loaves are sort of OK, but they are the wrong shape and have a hole in their bottom. Well your problems are over as this recipe for quick bread, courtesy of Leonie from Traisa near Darmstadt.

It takes about 10 minutes to mix and 1 hour to cook, no kneading and straight forward, and yields a loaf weighing 1 .5 kg/3 lb 5 oz


800 gm/ 1 lb 12 oz/ 7 cups strong bread flour/white or wholemeal etc

2 packets of quick acting yeast

2 level teaspoons of salt

750 ml/ 25 fl oz/3 cups water

4 teaspoons of vinegar


Put all the dry ingredients in a large mixing bowl and stir well to disperse the yeast and salt.


Add the water and vinegar and stir very well.


Pour and scrape in to a loaf tin


Place in the middle of a COLD oven.

Switch it on and set the temperature to 220 C/425 F/Gas 7/Hot.

Set your timer for 60 minutes

When the time is complete, just check the loaf with a skewer or thin knife, as you would for a cake, to check that it is done. It might need 5 or 10 minutes more. There is likely to be some variation depending on the flour that you use.














Leave a comment

Filed under ALL Recipes, All Year, Bread

Mejadara – Lebanese Onions, Lentils and Rice


OK  I have entitled it Lebanese, but strictly speaking it is Middle Eastern and depending which area you happen upon, so the recipe and the name will be slightly different. Mejadara is ubiquitous and like pizza, all areas claim it as theirs, well now it can be yours.

It is very tasty and distinctly moreish. It is also very easy to produce and makes full use of the store cupboard and only needs fresh onions to put a meal on the table in about 40 minutes.

This a dish that cries out to be brought to the table on a serving dish, and you could enhance the appearance by sprinkling roughly torn coriander or parsley leaves across the top just before serving.

If you like this and start to make this on a frequent basis you could make a batch of Mejadara Spice and bottle it for future use.

Serves 4. Total time 40 minutes.


250 gm/ 8 oz/ 1 cup  green or brown lentils

2 cloves of garlic crushed

2 teaspoons ground coriander

2 teaspoons ground cumin

2 teaspoons ground turmeric

2 teaspoon ground allspice

2 teaspoons cinnamon

4 tablespoons olive oil

1 or 2 teaspoons of sugar

200 gm/ 7 oz/ 1 scant cup  basmati rice ( NB – cooking time in this recipe is for 15 minute rice)

350 ml/11 fl oz/1  1/4 cups hot water



Start off with the lentils as they will need the longest to cook. So put 2 tablespoons of oil in a 2 litre/ 3 pint saucepan, and gently saute the garlic for about 4 minutes.

Add the spices and stir them thoroughly for 2 or 3 minutes.

Add the lentils and cover well with hot water. Bring to the boil and simmer with a lid on for 12 minutes.


Meanwhile finely slice the onions. In a large frying pan heat the remaining 2 tablespoons of oil and the gently saute the onions for about 15 to 20 minutes until they are caramelizing and turning golden brown.  add more oil if needed. Sprinkle with enough salt to make them slightly salty to your taste.

Back to the lentils. Add 1 teaspoon of sugar and taste. It should be slightly sweet to the taste. Add more if you prefer.

Add the rice and the rest of the water to the lentil mixture, bring to the boil and then simmer for 15 minutes. After 10 minutes check to ensure that there is sufficient water covering the rice. The idea is to complete the rice and reduce the water to almost nothing. Finish cooking without the lid on if necessary.

Stir half the onions into the rice and lentils. Serve onto the middle of hot plates. Serve the rest of the onions on top of the rice and lentil mixture.

You could also top it with several dessertspoons of yoghurt.



Leave a comment

Filed under ALL Recipes, All Year, Main Meal, Pulses, Beans and Nuts, Rice, Spicy, Student Food

Soy Bean Pate


I do like to spread a pate on sandwiches at teatime, but shop bought pates do seem to me to be expensive, and it is so easy to make your own. Of course making your own means that you can adjust ingredients and or quantities to suit your taste.

What follows is a basic recipe that you can tinker with, adding chili, spices, mushrooms, or vegetables such as red and yellow peppers, as it takes your fancy.


1 tin/can 454 gm/1 lb of cooked soy beans or any other beans to hand (in fact I used a tin of kidney beans as I did not have soy beans).

1 small onion sliced finely

25 gm/1 oz/ 1/4 cup butter or oil

2 tablespoons tomato puree

2 tablespoons of chopped olives, green or black

1 tablespoon of sesame seeds

2 or 3 tablespoons of breadcrumbs for thickening.

1 dessert spoon of dried parsley

1 dessert spoon dried oregano

salt and pepper


In a small pan soften the onion in the butter or oil for 5 minutes or so.

Drain the beans and put them in a small mixing basin. add the onions, tomato puree, olives, sesame seeds and herbs and using a processor or stick blender reduce to a smooth paste.


Taste and adjust the seasoning to your requirements.

Now add 2 tablespoons of breadcrumbs, blending them into the mixture, adding more to reach a desired consistency.

Put into small jars pushing well down into the corners.

Keep one jar in the fridge and this should be eaten within a week. The other jars should be put into the freezer where they will keep for 6 months or so.

1 Comment

Filed under ALL Recipes, All Year, Antipasti, Christmas, Pulses, Beans and Nuts, Spicy

Red and Green Pesto



Red  and Green pesto is so easy and quick to make and so full of flavour, you will never want to buy another jar of the factory made stuff again. Either pesto can of course be combined with pasta, rice and as a topping for polenta cubes or other types of finger food.

In the Red, equal quantities of cheese, nuts and sun dried tomatoes go together with garlic, oil, salt and pepper and in the Green, it is equal quantities of cheese, nuts and either basil, sage or even carrot tops go together with garlic,oil,salt and pepper. As easy as that.

In most shop bought pesto, pine nuts are used, however I use walnuts and to my mind they are perfectly acceptable and also much cheaper.


50 gm/2 oz/ 1/4 cup parmesan

50 gm/2 oz/  1/4 cup walnuts shelled

50 gm/2 oz/  1/4 cup (Red) sun dried tomatoes or (Green) fresh basil, fresh sage or fresh green carrot tops

50 ml/2 fl oz / 1/4 cup or so of olive oil

1 or 2 cloves of garlic

a good grind of salt and pepper


Using a stick blender mince up the ingredients with the oil until you have a homogeneous mixture, adding more oil if it is needed.

In the photo I used sage for my green pesto so it does not have the bright green appearance of basil or carrot tops.

Put into a clean jar and keep in the fridge. If you are not going to use it within a week or so then add extra oil to cover the surface to exclude air and then it will keep a couple of months. It is not worth making anymore than this amount at a time as it is so easy to make a fresh batch.


Filed under ALL Recipes, All Year, Antipasti, Cheese, Main Meal

Cheese and Onion Party Loaf


This is a fun, pleasant and tasty way to start off an evening with friends or family, and is straightforward to make. Although you might need an extra pair of hands to keep the bread still while you are cutting it and loading it with cheese. Straightforward to make it will be a hit with everyone, and of course you can always change the cheese and the topping to experiment with the final flavours.

Serves from 6 to 8. Preparation about 15 minutes. Cooking about 35 minutes. Total 50 minutes.


1 Bloomer Loaf, fresh. Approximately 1.5 kg

400 gm/12 oz/2 cups Cheddar/Gouda/Parmesan

125 gm/4 oz/ ½ cup of Butter

3 Cloves of Garlic minced

1 bunch/125 gm/4 oz/ ½ cup Spring Onions/Scallions/Green Onions

2 Teaspoons of Poppy Seeds


Using a very sharp bread knife, cut the loaf down the length and across the width, down to the bottom crust but not through it. The cuts need to be about 2 cm/1 inch apart or there about.


Place the loaf on cooking foil, and on a baking tray

Put slices of cheese into the cuts. An extra pair of hands can be useful here, because once the loaf has been cut it takes on a life of its own.

Melt the butter in a frying pan and add the spring onions and the garlic, and saute gently until they have softened. Season well.

Spoon the onion and garlic mixture all over the top of the loaf. Sprinkle the poppy seeds over the top.

Fold up the foil around the loaf and seal it by folding over the edges.

Bake for 25 minutes in a pre – heated oven set to 180 C/350 F/Gas 4/Moderate for about 20 minutes.

Unseal the foil and fold it back and put the loaf back into the oven to allow the cheese to melt for about 15 minutes.

Serve immediately.


Finally you could add chopped red and/or yellow pepper to bring a little extra colour to the topping.

1 Comment

Filed under ALL Recipes, All Year, Antipasti, Bread, Cheese, Student Food

Braised Red Cabbage


This dish is very popular in Germany and Austria where it is consumed throughout the year, but of course in Britain, red cabbage is used almost exclusively for Pickled Red Cabbage, and rarely for serving hot, which is a pity really. It provides a sweet counterpoint to stronger flavoured items on the plate such as Brussels Sprouts, Parsnips, Swede or Game in much the same way that Cranberry Sauce does, and at a fraction of the cost.

It is simplicity to make, freezes well and the flavour improves if made the day before it is wanted, and just heated up prior to serving. For vegetarians and vegans it could be served with plain boiled potatoes as a main course.



1 small red cabbage

25 gm/1 0z/ butter

1 large onion finely sliced

1 level teaspoon ground allspice

1/2 level teaspoon grated nutmeg

1 Bramley or cooking apple peeled,cored and grated

100 ml red wine vinegar

100 ml cold water

2 tablespoons brown sugar

2 tablespoons of redcurrant jelly or similar


Melt the butter in a suitably large saucepan and gently saute the onion for 5 minutes


Finely slice the cabbage discarding the core, then add to the onion.

Stir in the spices, apple, sugar, red wine vinegar and water. Season well.

Stir until the sugar is dissolved, fit the lid, bring to the boil and the simmer with a lid on for about 1 hour, stirring occasionally.

Check near the hour and make sure the cabbage is tender and also to ensure that the liquid has nearly evaporated. If it has not then cook for a further 10 minutes with the lid off.

Stir in the redcurrant jelly and serve. I used grape jelly the last time I made it, and it was just as nice.


If you do want to make this ahead then when you reheat it just a add a very little water so that it does not catch on the bottom of the pan. Warm it through for about 10 minutes and serve hot.

Leave a comment

Filed under ALL Recipes, Autumn/Winter, Main Meal, Side Dishes, Spring, Vegetables

Grape Jelly

I have taken the last of our grapes from the vine to make into jelly. This time of year (mid September) it is a bit of a race for the grapes between me and hornets. We have a large patio and when we moved in just over 9 years ago, we planted 2 vines and trained them over the patio to give some cover from the summer sun, and very well it works too. But when I am standing on a stepladder picking bunches of grapes it is a little unnerving to have hornets buzzing around. They look mighty impressive and they do command my respect, but I have to say that they are not as aggressive as ordinary little wasps, and generally as long as you don’t wave at them they seem to go past you. But there are a lot of hornets around here. More so than ordinary wasps. And we also have what I call dangley-leg wasps, that dangle their legs when flying, but again they seem quite benign, not at all aggressive.

Anyway – Grape Jelly, an easy clear jam to make that has, in my case with our black grapes, a deep purple hue.

This is a recipe using 1kg (2 1/4lbs) of grapes, although the weight of grapes is not important, it is the volume of juice that you yield. So for this quantity of grapes you will get approximately 800gms (1 3/4lb) of finished jelly.

This will keep for a year in a cool place, although we recently had a jar of jam that was 4 years old, and it was very nice too.


1kg (2.2lbs) of black grapes

For every 500ml/16 fl. oz/2 cups of grape juice, you need

675gm/1 1/2lb/3 1/4 cups sugar

100gm/3 1/2 fl. oz/1/2 cup of liquid pectin or equivalent dry pectin

Juice of freshly squeezed lemon


In a large pan crush the grapes and then bring to the boil, then simmer for 15 minutes until soft.

Use a stick blender to turn them into a fine slurry.

Spoon into a jelly bag and allow to drip overnight for at least 12 hours.

Measure the juice into a large pan, calculate how much of the other ingredients you need and add the lemon and sugar.

If you are using dry pectin you should add it at this stage.

If using liquid pectin add it when you have heated up the mixture and all the sugar is dissolved.

Boil vigorously for 5 minutes and test for a set on a saucer kept in the freezer for 5 minutes.

When you have achieved a set, bottle up in clean dry hot screw lid jars.

Leave a comment

Filed under ALL Recipes, Fruit, Jams, Jellies and Preserves, Recipes