Friday, 30 November 2012

sweet potato, banana and hazelnut bread

A lovely moist spiced loaf made with bananas, sweet potato and hazelnuts. Sort of like banana bread but with added goodies!  This is great for breakfast and also for an afternoon snack.  Another way of using up over ripe bananas. 
preparation time:  15-45 minutes (depending on whether you are cooking the sweet potato first)
cooking time:  30-40 minutes

2 medium sweet potatoes (leftover cooked sweet potato would be great here but I cooked from fresh for this recipe)
2 over ripe bananas
2 eggs
1/4 cup sunflower/vegetable oil
1/2 cup whole hazelnuts
1/2 cup brown sugar
1 cup plain flour
1 tsp baking soda
11/2 tsp baking powder
1 tsp cinnamon
1/2 tsp nutmeg
1/2 tsp allspice (pimento)
  • preheat oven to 190C and grease a loaf tin
  • if you are cooking the sweet potato, wash and either bake in the oven for about 30 minutes or in the microwave for 5-10 minutes until soft.
  • when cool enough to handle scoop out sweet potato, mash and leave to cool for about 5-10 minutes.
  • when the the potato is cool add to a bowl with the bananas, sugar, oil, eggs and mix together with a wooden spoon or an electric whisk for a few minutes until well combined

  • sift in the flour, baking powder and soda, and spices and mix briefly until combined

  • stir in the hazelnuts and then pour mixture into the prepared tin


  • bake for 30-40 minutes - the bread is cooked when a skewer comes out clean.
  • leave to cool in the tin for a few minutes before leaving on a rack to cool. 
  • leave until completetly cool before cutting into slices - I hope you enjoy :)


Monday, 26 November 2012

za'atar roast potatoes



I have been intending to cook with za'atar for sometime now, but wasn't sure where to start.  This is a really simple but effective recipe with loads of flavour. This can be served with your usual Sunday roast to spice it up, or with a stew or casserole. I served it recently with my tomato and coconut lentil dhal curry which worked really well. 

Za'atar is a Middle Eastern spice mixture.  Although there are many variations it will usually contain sumac (a citrussy red berry), sesame seeds and herbs.  The mix I use in this recipe contains sesame seeds, sumac, thyme, cumin, coriander, fennel and salt.

serves 2-3 as a side dish
preparation time:  5 minutes
cooking time:  30-45 minutes


500g potatoes
2 tbs za'atar
3-4 whole garlic cloves peeled
3 tbs oil

  • preheat oven to 200C

  • clean and chop potatoes into wedges

  • add oil, potato wedges and garlic cloves to a roasting tin and stir until well coated


  • add to preheated oven.

  • about half way through (about 15-20 minutes) remove the potatoes from the oven and add the za'atar to the potatoes.  Mix thoroughly and continue cooking.


  • the potatoes are done when cooked through and nice and crispy on the outside.




Polish honey and spice gingerbread (piernik)


Here is my version of the traditional Polish piernik - a gingerbread flavoured with honey and spices- perfect for Thanksgiving and Christmas. This gingerbread lasts for at least a week and also seems to improve in flavour over time when the spices have had chance to mix and mingle. This would also makes a great food gift during this festive season. I hope you enjoy!
1 cup honey
1 cup black coffee
8 oz butter
1 cup brown sugar
3 eggs
3 tsp baking powder
4 cups plain (all purpose) flour
1 lemon zested
1 tsp all spice (pimento)
1 tsp ground ginger
1 tsp ground cinnamon
preparation time: 20 minutes
cooking time: 30-40 minutes 

  • preheat oven to 190C and grease/line a baking pan. I used a 9x12 pan, but you can also make this in a loaf tin.

  • add honey, coffee, sugar, butter and spices to a saucepan and mix over a gentle heat until the sugar has dissolved and the butter melted. Leave to cool for a while you prepare the other ingredients.


  • break eggs into a bowl and add the lemon zest and whisk for a few minutes until bubbly

  • slowly pour in the melted butter, sugar and honey mixture onto the whisked eggs and keep beating for a few minutes until fully incorporated. Be careful not to add the melted mixture too quickly as this may curdle the eggs



  • add sifted flour and baking powder to the wet mixture and stir well to incorporate - pour into greased baking tin

  • bake for 30-40 minutes - it is ready when a skewer/tooth pick comes out clean.

  • leave to cool completely before cutting into squares


  • eat and share with your nearest and dearest :)

tomato and coconut lentil dhal curry

Recipe:  tomato and coconut lentil dhal curry



This is a healthy, comforting dish that you just know is doing you good when you eat it .  Flavoured with immune boosting ginger, garlic and chilli this curry is great for a cold winter evening.  Inspired by an Indian dhal (also spelt dal, daal, dahl) a lentil stew which is a staple of the Indian diet.  Packed with protein - this makes a great vegetarian main dish. 

I love curries and chilli and get a bit distracted if I don't get my daily chilli fix in at least one of my meals.  I have heard there is such a thing as chilli addiction.......
You can obviously add more or less chillies depending on their strength and your preference. 

preparation time:  10 minutes
cooking time:  1 hour
serves 4
author:  chip butties and noodle soup


2 cup green lentils (or lentil of choice - but remember to follow your packet cooking instructions as it may be different from mine)
2 tin chopped tomatoes
6 tbs dessicated coconut
1 chopped onion
2 tsp fennel seed
2 tsp coriander seed
2 tsp cumin seed
2 tsp mustard seed
2 tsp turmeric
2 bay leaves
4-5 cloves garlic crushed
4-5 chillies
3 inches grated ginger
1 tbs oil
1 litre boiling water or veg stock
salt and pepper to taste

  • wash lentils thoroughly in cold water then add to a pan with cold water and the turmeric and boil uncovered for 15 minutes
  • while this is happening add the oil to another pan and when hot add the chopped onion.  Fry until golden brown and caramelised. 
  • when the onions are browned add the spice seeds and bay leaves and fry for a few minutes to release the flavour.

  • then add the ginger, garlic and chillies and continue to fry for a few minutes before adding the  tomatoes and dessicated coconut.

  • stir this together and top up with about 1 litre of boiling water or stock
  • simmer for about an hour - until the lentils are soft.

  • add salt and pepper to taste
  • this can be served with rice, flat bread or potatoes.  I served this with simple boiled white rice and my za'atar roast potatoes

I have just updated this from an earlier post as a recipe to be shared as part of The Ordinary Cook's food poverty challenge for May 2013.  The aim is to create a family meal for 4 for less than £3.   This recipe comes in on budget and is really healthy and tasty too. 

The Ordinary Cook Food Poverty Challenge
For more information about food poverty and current initiatives to raise awareness check out live below the line and

I hope you enjoy the recipe and let me know how you get on...

Saturday, 17 November 2012

easy flat breads

This is a really quick and easy recipe for a flat bread or chapati made with gram flour (besan). This flour is made from chick peas so is also high in protein and also gluten free.  I had these to accompany a potato curry the other night - but they would be great with any stew, dips or even on their own - they are quite 'moreish'.  They really are very easy and only take a few moments to put together.  You can substitute the gram flour for plain/all purpose flour if you would prefer and they would work just as well, but I like the interesting 'nutty' taste of the gram flour.  

1 cup gram flour (or plain flour/all purpose flour would also work well - either plain or wholemeal)
1/2 cup warm water
1 tbs oil 
1 tsp salt (or to taste) 

additional optional extras:
1 tsp kalonji (onion) seeds
1 tsp cumin seeds
1 tsp fennel seeds

The above recipe makes 4 flat breads - but can easily be multiplied to make more according to what you want. 

preparation time: 5 minutes
cooking time:  approx 2 minutes per flat bread 


  • add gram flour and salt to a bowl


  • add the warm water and oil gradually and mix to a dough with your hands.  You may need a little less or more water - don't worry as you can always add more flour if it gets too sticky.  

  • divide the dough into equal balls about the size of a golf ball and roll out thinly on a well floured surface (the gram flour is quite sticky so do make sure you have plenty of flour on your rolling pin and surface to prevent sticking)

  • fry the flat breads in a hot un oiled pan for about 1 minute a side - they are ready to turn when bubbles appear on the top side of the flat bread
  • keep warm in a clean tea towel as you prepare the others.

  • serve warm with dish of your choice - let me know how you get on - Enjoy :)