Roast Butternut Squash Mujadara

This is from ‘Cook for Syria’ recipe book, from the club of the same name. The food is great, as is the idea behind the project. This recipe looks quite long, with lots of ingredients, but it didn’t involve anything complicated, and many of the steps can be done while other bits are cooking.

INGREDIENTS:

  • 1 dessert-spoonful of olive oil
  • 100g shredded cabbage, kale or brussel sprouts
  • 1 tbsp sumac powder (from seasoned pioneers)
  • 1 tsp red chilli flakes or powder
  • 1 tbsp white sesame seeds
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 1 butternut squash, peeled, seeded and cut into wedges
  • 2 tbsp olive oil
  • 1 tbsp fresh thyme leaves
  • 1 tbsp runny honey
  • salt and pepper
  • 2 onions, finely sliced
  • Olive oil
  • 160g puy lentils or other green lentils
  • a bay leaf
  • salt
  • 160g basmati rice
  • juice of 2 lemons
  • 1 tsp cumin seeds
  • 1 tsp ground cumin
  • olive oil
  • 1 tbsp tahini
  • 6 tbsp greek yoghurt
  • Coriander leaves, chopped.

METHOD:

  • To make the cabbage/kale layer, chop the leaves and mix with the sumac, chilli, sesame seeds, 1/2 tbsp olive oil and 1/2 tsp salt, and put it into a roasting dish. Roast for 15 minutes at 150C
  • To make the butternut squash layer, mix the squash with 2 tbsp olive oil, thyme leaves, honey, salt and pepper. Put this into another roasting dish and roast for 30 minutes at 180C
  • The rice layer has more steps. First of all, slice the onions finely, and fry gently in olive oil until beginning to brown and caramelise. Set aside.
  • Rinse the green lentils in cold water, then cook in plenty of boiling water with the bay leaf and a pinch of salt. Bring to the boil and then simmer for 20 minutes. Drain and set aside.
  • Rinse the rice in cold water, then cook in plenty of boiling water for around 6 minutes, drain and rinse with cold water, and return to the pan. Leave the pan in a warm place for 15 minutes.
  • Mix the lentils with the rice, the fried onions, and add the lemon juice.
  • Make the yoghurt dressing: heat 1 tbsp olive oil in a small pan, then add the cumin seeds. After a minute, add the ground cumin, stir, and then beat into the yoghurt, with the tahini.
  • Take 1 large platter, and put the rice and lentil mix at the bottom, then the squash, and top with the cabbage, garnish with coriander leaves.
  • Guests should help themselves, adding as much of the tahini/yoghurt dressing as they wish.

Teacakes

These large teacakes make several portions each. To serve, I split them across, and then cut each half in half. They can also be started in the bread-maker; instructions below.

INGREDIENTS:

  • 2 tsp dried yeast
  • 1 tsp caster sugar
  • 300ml warmed milk
  • 25g brown sugar
  • 450g strong white bread flour
  • 1 tsp salt
  • 25g lard
  • 50g currants
  • 50g mixed peel (optional)
  • Milk for glazing

METHOD:

  • Grease a couple of baking sheets, and warm the oven to 220C
  • Stir the yeast into the warm milk with the sugar, and leave in a warm place until starting to ferment and frothing.
  • Mix the sugar, flour and salt, and rub in the lard.
  • Add the currents, peel and the yeast/milk mixture, and kneed on a floured surface to make a soft dough.
  • Set aside to rise for around 1 hour 15 minutes
  • Divide the dough into six equal pieces, and roll to around 15 cm across, 1 cm thick. Put these onto the baking sheets, and cover while they prove. This will take around 40 minutes.
  • Brush the tops with milk and bake for around 20 minutes.
  • Cool on a wire rack.

If you are going to make the dough in a breadmaker, follow the method below:

Put the ingredients into the breadmaker in the order below:

Yeast, flour, sugar, salt, lard, milk (or water and milk powder). Set the bread machine to ‘basic dough’. Once the dough is ready, kneed in the dried fruit before dividing into buns and leaving to prove.

Honey digestives

These are fantastic with goat’s cheese and a little sliver of dried fig.

INGREDIENTS:

  • 225g wholewheat flour
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 125g butter
  • 2 tbsp clear honey

METHOD:

  • Mix the flour and salt, and rub in the butter – fine breadcrumb texture
  • Mix in the honey to make a stiff dough.
  • Roll out thinly on a floured board, and cut into rounds with a 5cm cutter.
  • Bake at 150C for 20 minutes.

Cheese Straws

A big hit at the recent coffee morning. I think the helpers had quite a few.

INGREDIENTS:

  • 175g plain flour
  • 1/4 tsp salt
  • a pinch of cayenne pepper
  • 75g butter
  • 75g grated cheese, mixture of cheddar and parmesan
  • 1 egg yolk
  • 1/2 tsp dijon mustard
  • 3 tsp milk

METHOD:

  • Sieve the flour, cayenne pepper and salt into a bowl.
  • Rub in the butter, then stir in the grated cheese.
  • Mix the mustard, egg yolk and water together.
  • Make a stiff dough by adding the egg yolk mixture to the dry ingredients.
  • Roll out to about 1cm thick, and then cut into fingers, about 1cm by 5cm.
  • Place on a lightly greased baking tray, and bake at 220C for 12 minutes.
  • Lift onto a wire rack to cool.

Grantham Ginger Biscuits

I was baking for a coffee morning for the Uist Coastal Rowing Club. We are raising funds to build a new skiff, and we raised over £700, which is amazing. I made quite a lot of biscuits as they are easy to serve.

INGREDIENTS;

  • 125g butter
  • 125g caster sugar
  • 2 tsp ground ginger
  • 125g self-raising flour

METHOD:

  • Cream the butter and sugar together
  • Add the ginger and flour and work into a stiff dough.
  • Divide into 24 small balls, and space out onto ungreased baking trays.
  • Bake at 130C for 45 minutes
  • Lift onto a wire cooling rack when they are done.

Dutch Moppen

These biscuits are very easy to make.

INGREDIENTS:

  • 100g butter
  • 75g caster sugar
  • 125g self-raising flour, sifted
  • flaked almonds
  • 1 egg, beaten

METHOD:

  • Cream the butter and sugar together until smooth.
  • Work in the flour to make a stiff dough.
  • Roll the mixture into small balls, around 16 altogether
  • Place the balls of mixture on a greased baking sheet, at least 5cm apart. Flatten the balls slightly
  • In the centre of each biscuit, put a couple of flaked almonds, and brush each biscuit with beaten egg.
  • Bake at 190C for 10 minutes.
  • Once out of the oven, lift the biscuits off the baking sheet onto a cooling rack.

Chocolate Chilli Cookies

These are spicy and delicious.

INGREDIENTS:

  • 200g plain flour
  • 1 tbsp cocoa powder
  • 1 tsp baking powder
  • 1/2 tsp bicarbonate of soda
  • 1/2 tsp ground cinnamon
  • 50g muscovado sugar
  • 50g butter
  • 1/4 tsp mild fresh red chilli, or chilli flakes
  • 2 tbsp golden syrup
  • 75g dark chocolate, cut into small chips

METHOD:

  • Stir the flour, cocoa, baking powder, bicarbonate of soda, cinnamon, chilli and sugar.
  • Rub in the butter to achieve a fine breadcrumb texture.
  • Add the syrup and mix into a dough. Squeeze the mixture into a dough.
  • Kneed in the chocolate chops
  • Divide into 12 balls, and space evenly onto a greased baking sheet.
  • Bake at 180C for 8 to 10 minutes.
  • When they are out of the oven, lift them off the baking sheet onto a cooling rack as soon as possible.

St Emilion au Chocolat

I made this last night. We ate quite a lot of it today. It is very rich and most delicious. If you don’t have ratafia biscuits, you could use amaretti, or any other small almond biscuit.

INGREDIENTS:

  • 125g butter
  • 125g caster sugar
  • 1 egg yolk
  • 250g plain chocolate
  • 125g ratafia or amaretti biscuits
  • brandy
  • 150ml milk

METHOD:

  • cream the butter and the sugar together
  • beat the milk and egg-yolk together
  • melt the chocolate with a spoonful of water
  • Stir the melted chocolate into the mil mixture, and then beat this into the creamed butter and sugar.
  • In ramekins, put a layer of the chocolate mixture, then a biscuit and a teaspoon of brandy, and then another layer of chocolate.
  • Allow to set; store in the fridge.

The number of dishes is dependent on the size and number of ramekins – this is so rich that the smallest ramekins work the best.

Kabab-e kubideh – Minced meat kebab

When I was much younger, I lived in Teheran, and we used to have barbecues when we were out and about – often my dad would barbecue chicken, but we’ve had some amazing meals. We had a sort of portable barbecue, and some rush fans to get the charcoal glowing hot.

I made these kebabs under the electric grill at home, but they would taste so much better cooked under an open sky, the sun throbbing in the sky, with mountains on the horizon and an icy river flowing through the rocks below.

INGREDIENTS:

  • 1 large onion
  • 1 clove of garlic
  • 1kg beef mince, or 50/50 beef and lamb
  • 2 tsp salt
  • 1 tsp ground black pepper
  • 1 tbsp fresh lime juice (about half a lime)
  • A pinch of saffron, ground in a pestle and mortar and dissolved in a tsp of hot water
  • 1/2 tsp baking soda
  • 2 tbsp butter
  • 1/2 tsp lime juice
  • 1/4 tsp salt

METHOD:

  • Chop the onion and garlic, and put it in the blender with the lime juice and blitz it.
  • Put the meat, onion/garlic/lime, salt, pepper, saffron and baking soda in a large bowl. Kneed the mixture with your hands for 15 minutes to make a paste
  • Divide the meat into eight or so lumps, and press this around the skewers. The skewers should be flat, so that the kebab doesn’t spin round. We used some stainless steel strips cut into 18 inch lengths. Mold the meat around the skewers. Once they are ready, set aside in a cool place.
  • If you are using a barbecue, this should be lit and burning for around half an hour before cooking, so that the charcoal is glowing hot. We had the grill set to high.
  • In a small pan, melt the butter and combine with a dash of lime and a pinch of salt. A little cayenne pepper could also be added here.
  • Brown the kebabs quickly on each side, so that the outer layer is firm; this is to stop the kebabs falling apart.
  • Baste with the butter and lime, and cook for 3 to 4 minutes on each side.
  • Serve with flat bread, and salad. The kebab can be garnished with lime juice or sumac powder. The best salad would be yoghurt, spring onions, herbs and garlic, perhaps with some walnuts.