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This recipe is a regular at my table, especially in the Summer.  I think it deserves a place on this site even though it seems almost too easy to be worth posting, but the simplest recipes are often the best.  I don’t know how many types of tomato you are able to find locally.  Most weeks just the round red type are available on our market, with unusual varieties a rarety.  In the Summer there are often the small sweet ones, useful for skewering, plus vine tomatoes and sometimes the oval Italian plum type.  One week last Autumn, therefore, I was surprised and pleased to see a number of varieties I had not come across before.  I knew, though, that if I bought several types of tomatoes I would also need to have a plan for them.  No problem: our favourite warm tomato dish, flavoured with olive oil, balsamic vinegar and basil – perfect!  It would be extra pretty, multi-hued rather than the usual plain red.  I decided on some medium sized pale yellow tomatoes and some enormous crinkly orange/red ones, plus the ordinary red type I had already bought at an earlier stall.  Later on I saw dark tomatoes too, a combination of maroon and olive green: my heart said yes … but my head said that I had bought enough already!  A pity as the splash of extra colour would have made the dish particularly attractive.

Although I am sure that there are many similar versions of this Mediterranean style dish in recipe books this recipe is my own.  I have not specified amounts – use as many tomatoes as you would like to serve, but be generous as this is moreish. The other ingredients should be according to taste.  Since I made (and photographed) this recipe I have discovered the existence of white balsamic vinegar, though have not yet bought a bottle.   It would be useful as the tomatoes would not have the usual dark staining associated with ordinary balsamic vinegar.  I usually serve this as a warm side dish as part of a main meal or as a warm or cold salad.  It also makes a good light lunch spooned onto a slice of crusty toast or a delicious starter, either cold or a warm, served on its own, or on crusty bread drizzled with additional olive oil, or topped with a slice of flash grilled melted goats cheese.

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Roasted Mixed Tomatoes

Tomatoes – one variety or mixed varieties and colours if available
Olive oil
Balsamic vinegar, dark or white
Fresh basil leaves, torn – plus a few to garnish
Sugar (a small sprinkle for added sweetness)
Sea salt
Black pepper, freshly ground
Slices of French baguette loaf – optional
Slices of goat’s cheese roll – optional

1.  Cut the tomatoes into ¼inch/½cm slices and layer in an ovenproof dish.

2.  Sprinkle generously with olive oil and balsamic vinegar. Add sugar, torn basil, sea salt and freshly ground black pepper.

3.  Put the dish uncovered into a preheated oven at around 170oC/325oF/Gas 3 for about 15 minutes.  (The temperature and cooking time can be a little higher or lower as this recipe is often cooked at the same time and heat as another dish for the meal.)
OR
Cook uncovered on medium in the microwave so the tomatoes heat through relatively gently.

4.  Whichever method of cooking is used the tomatoes need to be warmed through, retaining their shape, rather than dried up (although they are still delicious if they have shrivelled a little!)

5.  Serve drizzled with a little extra olive oil and some more torn green basil, as the original leaves will have darkened and have lost their attractive colour.

6.  If adding goats cheese then, before finishing with extra olive oil and basil, lay slices of a goat’s cheese log on the top and gently flash grill to melt and colour. Alternatively toast a slice of French baguette loaf on one side, then turn over and lay a slice or two of goats cheese on the other side.  Flash cook cheesy side under the grill.   Serve laid on a bed of warm or cold cooked tomatoes.

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This basic Hummous (or Hummus, there are various spellings) mixture can be served as a snack, a starter or appetiser or as part of a buffet.  Traditionally Hummous contains tahini, a sesame seed based based paste, but as long as the sesame flavour is present the finished Hummous is, I find, indistinguishable.  I add the flavour by either adding ground toasted sesame seeds or, more usually (because it is easier) sesame oil, which is always in my cupboard.  Hummous is a vegetarian dish, but much loved by the members of our household, who are all non-vegetarians.  It is a quick and easy recipe and very useful as it can be made in under 10 minutes.

The original recipe for Red Pesto Hummous was pulled from a magazine advertising Flora products, but this is my own variation of what seemed a very good idea!  The pesto Hummous is equally as delicious made with green pesto and both could be put on a buffet table side by side: just add half of each colour of pesto to each half of the blended chickpea mixture.  For extra flavour I added 2tbsp toasted crushed (or ground) sesame seeds to the original recipe (sesame is a traditional ingredient in Hummous), plus a pinch of salt, although these could be omitted.  Alternatively the mixture could be blended with sesame oil in place of the half fat spread, in which case the seeds can be omitted.

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Hummous
(Serves 4 – more at a buffet)

400g/14oz tin chickpeas, drained
1tsp lemon
1 small clove garlic
2tbsp sesame oil or low fat olive spread
2 tbsp plain yoghurt
2tbsp toasted ground sesame seeds (microwave or grill until toasted) – omit if using sesame oil
Seasoning
To serve:
Drizzle over Olive or Sesame oil (optional)
Sprinkle sumak or paprika or cumin (optional)

1.  Put all the ingredients, apart from those added when serving, together in a food processor and blend.  The texture can be either chunky or smoother depending on the length of processing time.

2.  Serve with toast or pieces of warm pitta bread.  It can also be used as a dip at a buffet with a selection of crudities: sticks of carrot, cucumber & peppers plus bread sticks.

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Red or Green Pesto Hummous
(Serves 4 – more at a buffet)

400g/14oz tin chickpeas, drained
1tsp lemon
1 small clove garlic
1tbsp low fat olive spread or sesame oil
1 tbsp plain yoghurt
1 tbsp red or green pesto
2tbsp toasted ground sesame seeds  – omit if
using oil
To serve:
Drizzle over Olive or Sesame oil (optional)
Red – Sprinkle sumak or paprika (optional)
Green – torn/chopped basil (optional)

(Adjust the proportion of spread/sesame oil, yoghurt and pesto to personal taste.  Ready made pesto can be strong so use just 1tbsp first time.)

1.  If making two different colours put all the ingredients, apart from those added when serving and the pesto, together in a food processor and blend.

2.  Divide the mixture in half and add ½tbsp of each colour to each half of the basic mixture.

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Sometimes a recipe that I just have to try pops into my Inbox from one of the sites that sends me regular updates.  A trip to the supermarket shortly after I first saw this recipe and I had a attractive jar full of feta cheese waiting for me to try.  I had to be patient and do as the recipe suggested, but as soon as the week was up I ‘dived in’ – and was not disappointed!

So, thank you to my UK Food Bloggers fellow member, Nic at Cherrapeno for her recipe: Make your own Marinated Feta.   Of course, we all adapt and amend recipes to suit our own tastes.  The ingredients below are for my own version, adjusted to complement the size of block of feta cheese available locally, but with some other ‘tweaks’ too.  I love olives so added some to the second jar I made and will definitely add them again.  I halved the number of chillis as I did not want to spicy a flavour.  The oil is delicious too so don’t forget to mop up the puddle on your plate with some of the crusty bread you serve alongside.  I would definitely serve this as a starter, along with some other marinaded items, such as mixed peppers.  I have tried making this with the cheaper feta type cheese you can buy, which is usually called something like ‘Greek style salad cheese’ and it is fine, though for entertaining I would definitely splash out and buy real Feta.  Only problem with this recipe is that the jar doesn’t last long enough!

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Marinaded Feta

200g packet Feta cheese
½tbsp dried oregano
½tsp coriander seeds, ground – ¼tsp ready ground powder if seeds unavailable
½tablespoon cracked black pepper
2 or 3 sun-dried tomatoes in oil, depending on size
1 small fresh red chilli (2 if you wish) – split lengthways, remove seeds for a milder taste
3-4 small sprigs fresh rosemary
25g/1oz green or black pitted olives, or a mixture (optional)
Olive oil

1.  Drain the whey from the packet of feta and pat dry with a paper towel to remove the maximum amount of liquid. 

2.  Cut into cubes: I cut the block into four long pieces lengthways and then crossways into cubes – around 36-40 pieces.  (Make the pieces larger if you wish by making 3 strips and then crossways into larger cubes.) 

3.  Place the cubes in a bowl.  Sprinkle with oregano, crushed coriander seeds and black pepper.

4.  Cut the tomatoes into three our four pieces each.

5.   Sterilise a jar (about 500-600ml) that is big enough to take all the ingredients by pouring in water from a boiling kettle, draining and filling immediately.  (Make sure the lid is sterlised in a similar way.)

6.  Gradually fill the jar with the cubes of cheese, the pieces of tomato and the olives, poking in the chilli and sprigs of rosemary from time to time so all the ingredients are fairly evenly spaced through the jar.  Make sure that all the herbs in the bowl are included as well.

7.  Pour in a little oil from the sun dried tomatoes (about 2-3tbsp) and top up with extra olive oil as needed.  The ingredients need to be fairly tightly packed with the oil filled to the brim.

8.  Seal the jar tightly.  Refrigerate for 1 week before using. (The marinaded feta will keep for 6-8 weeks in the fridge).

9.  Serve at room temperature for lunch or as an starter. This would also make a good culinary gift.  I have used the excess oil and chilli as a starter for the next jar and I think this could be done two or three times, before needing to start again from scratch.

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Welsh Rarebit is a traditional British dish.  It was recorded in an eighteenth century recipe book having been served as a supper or of snack food in taverns and alehouses. It is not clear why it has the name Welsh, which was  first recorded in 1725.  However it has been suggested that cheese was cheaper than the meat which the impoverished Welsh people of that time could not afford to eat.  Some traditional versions add a splash of Worcester Sauce, ale or mustard to the mixture as it is mixed for extra flavour.  Also a pinch of cayenne can be sprinkled on top.  I have a Welsh Recipe Tea Towel, which includes one for Welsh Rarebit (called Caws-Wedi-Pobi in the Welsh language).  The ingredients are 8ozs/225g cheese, 1tsp butter, 1tsp dry mustard, 2tsp Worcester Sauce and 2tsp flour mixed with 4tbsp milk or beer which are melted together in a saucepan before being spread onto 4 slices of toast and finished under the grill – a parsley garnish is suggested: so a much more complicated and highly flavoured version than mine below.  Buck Rarebit has a poached egg served on top. 

This is the way Welsh Rarebit is cooked by my mother but I think the recipe is a fairly standard one.  It is one of the simplest cooked lunch dishes I know and very popular with my family. In some ways it reminds me of a very simple version of Nigella Lawson’s Triple Cheese & Onion Strata, especially if I put a little more effort in when making it and add some fried onions, which make it delicious.  I have tried to give an idea of the quantities of ingredients, but mostly I do not weight what I use.  It is a good way to finish up the remains of a block of cheese and different types of cheese can be combined although it is usual to use hard rather than soft cheese.  Mostly a fairly strong cheddar or similar is recommended, but a milder flavour is fine if it is preferred.  A delicious addition is to spread the bread with some home made Tomato Relish or another relish or chutney – or even a scrape of Marmite (love it or hate it?) before grilling.  My family have been known to add a dollop of tomato sauce onto the finished rarebit, though I prefer it without.  However, the recipe given below is for my usual everyday version with no frills, apart from those I am likely to include. The mixture can be made a little in advance and stored in the fridge. It is usually eaten hot, but there is no reason why it could not be eaten cold.  Cheese on Toast is an even simpler version of this recipe and too simple to be a stand alone post.  It is quite literally cheese-on-toast: sliced (or grated) cheese, arranged on the untoasted side of a slice of bread and then gently grilled until golden and bubbling.

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 Welsh Rarebit
(Serves 4)

4 thick slices of bread (for toasting so 1 or 2 days old is fine)
2 eggs
8ozs/225g Cheddar or similar hard cheese, or a mixture of cheeses (aprox)
Seasoning
1 onion, finely chopped & fried (optional) or
1 tbsp tomato or other relish (optional)
Pinch of cayenne pepper (optional)

1.  Break the eggs into a bowl and stir with a fork.

2.  Stir in the grated cheese.  Add the pre-fried onions at this point if using.  Season and mix together well.

3.  Toast the slices of bread on one side only.  If using relish, spread this over the untoasted side of the bread.

4.  Share the egg and cheese mixture equally between the four slices of bread, piling onto the untoasted side (on top of any relish if it has been spread on).  Gently spread over the slice but not quite to the edges as the mixture will melt and spread out slightly.  It can be gently spread more with a  knife while cooking if necessary.

5.  Sprinkle over the cayenne, if using.  Cook under a gentle grill until the mixture has melted and browned.  Do not cook too high or the crust will burn before the centre is cooked.

6.  Cut into half, or slices and serve with a small side salad while still hot.

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The soft cream, beige, brown and maroon colours of a mixed bean salad is attractive and delicious addition as part of a summer salad meal and a useful dish to serve on a buffet table.  I tend to make a large potful and keep it in the fridge to eat over several days – but I find it rather ‘moreish’ and it is very difficult not to help myself to a quick spoonful every time I open the door! 

These recipes come from Vegetarian Kitchen by Sarah Brown, the book of her BBC TV series from the 1980s.  I first made these marinade recipes not long after seeing the series and buying the book and I find it difficult to decide which is my favourite, so I have posted both.  Mixed dried beans can be bought and cook them in advance, in which case about an hour needs to be added to the preparation time.  I find, however, that the beans often end up looking a similar colour, losing the individual shades which go to make the salad rather pretty.  The best way to avoid this is to use tins of pre-cooked beans, gently warming them through first to help soak up the flavours of the chosen marinade.  It used to be much more economical to buy and cook dried beans, but tinned beans are much less expensive now, especially if bought from the ethnic food aisle or from the supermarket’s ‘economy’ range.  Both marinades look virtually the same: as for flavour, the ‘Dark & Spicy’ is actually not very hot (increase the proportions if you wish after you have given it a try) the ‘Light & Sharp’ is a fragrant mixture of lemon, garlic and ginger.  I usually make this second one for entertaining.  Any leftovers keep well in the fridge and can be eaten over two or three days if necessary – if there is any left.

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Marinaded Mixed Bean Salad
(Serves 8 – more as part of a buffet)

For the Bean Mixture use either:
4-5 400g tins of ready cooked beans
red kidney, borlotti, haricot/cannellini, black eye peas & chick peas – choose varied colours (empty the beans into a saucepan and gently warm through before dressing with chosen marinade – be careful not to cook as they are often already very soft
     or
Mixed dried beans about 1kg
 – half the weight of the eventual amount of cooked beans. (Cover with water, do not add any salt, bring to the boil and boil for 10 mins.  This is important as Red Kidney beans contain a toxin which can cause stomach upsets unless they are boiled in this way – and Red Kidney beans are needed for their colour. Continue to cook on low heat, still without adding any salt, until softened – around 1 hour in total.  Drain well and dress with chosen marinade.  The liquid can be used as a stock to enrich other recipes.) 

Dark & Spicy Marinade
6fl ozs/175ml olive oil
3fl ozs/75ml red wine vinegar
½ tsp salt
½ tsp freshly ground coriander
1 tsp freshly ground cumin
½ tsp chilli powder
1 clove garlic, crushed

Light & Sharp Marinade
6fl ozs/17ml sunflower oil
3fl ozs/75ml lemon juice
½tsp salt
freshly ground black pepper
½tsp dry mustard powder (Colemans English is ideal)
½tsp freshly grated root ginger
1 clove garlic, crushed

1.  Mix together the ingredients for the chosen marinade.

2.  Prepare the bean mixture (either by using tins or by pre-cooking dried beans – see above).

3.  While the beans are warm, pour the marinade over and gently stir to combine. 

4.  Cover and leave in a cool place, transferring to the fridge if possible once cold, to allow the flavours to permeate the beans.  Ideally do this overnight or at least for severall hours.

5.  Just before serving chopped parsley can be sprinkled over the salad to add extra colour – for the Dark & Spicy marinaded beans chopped fresh coriander can be substituted.

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Following on from my original post about Pizza Bases last year, here is a good idea for a speedy pizza and one I will be using regularly.  It substitutes ready bought pitta breads as pizza bases.  The original recipe suggested that the pittas could be divided in two for an extra crispy pizza, layering toppings on rough side.  I found this proved too difficult.  I ended up with two halves of different thicknesses, one of which was far too thin.  An uncut pitta is perfectly adequate as a base.   The suggestion was that round pittas could be used if available, but I could not track any down: oval was fine.  Some supermarkets sell very small pitta breads which would be idea served at a buffet.

The original recipe came from Red magazine, August 2008 issue, in an article giving suggestions for picnic food.  It is ideal as a light snack, either cold as they suggest, or hot straight from the oven with salad for a summer light meal.  I used a simple mozzarella and tomato topping, adding slices of mushroom and red pepper, but any other favourite toppings could be used: fresh tomato, ham, tuna, prawns are all popular.  The original recipe first spread on a layer of tomato puree but I used my home made Tomato Relish – recipe to follow very soon.

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Pitta Pizzas
(Makes 6)

Olive oil, a little to brush over and to pour on top of each pitta pizza
6 pitta breads, white or brown
½tsp Tomato puree, evenly smeared, per pitta
   or
2tsp Tomato Relish (or similar) per pitta
Two pinches of Italian mixed herbs/pizza herbs per pizza
2 x 125g Mozzarella Balls cut into thin slices
Black pepper
Torn fresh Basil leaves
Slices of Mushroom, 2-4 per pitta pizza (optional)
Thin slices of Red Pepper, about 2 per pitta pizza (optional)

1.  Pre-heat the oven to 180oC/350oF/Gas 4.

2.  Place the breads on a baking tray and smear lightly with a little olive oil, going right to the edges.

3.  Smear on a layer of tomato puree (do not go right to the edge as it will blacken if not covered).  Alternatively spread on tomato relish.  Sprinkle lightly with Italian or pizza herbs.

4.  If using mushroom, red pepper or other ingredients equally divide these between the bases.

5.  Drain the cheese well and blot with some kitchen towel to remove excess moisture.  Cut into thin slices.

6.  Sprinkle lightly with more Italian or pizza herbs and a little black pepper.

7.  Drizzle with olive oil.

8.  Bake in the oven for 10mins and serve with salad

Alternative toppings:

Potato, Fontina & fresh Thyme
120g waxy new potato, cooked & sliced
80g fontina or taleggio cheese, thinly sliced
1tbsp fresh thyme leaves
Sea salt

Onion Chutney, Goat’s Cheese & Rosemary
2tbsp onion chutney
80g goat’s cheese, crumbled
1tbsp freshly chopped fresh rosemary leaves
Sea salt

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Crisp outside, spicy and soft inside, Onion Bhajis are delicious: fried onions with a twist.  When we visit an Indian restaurant it is not unusual for all of us to order them as a starter or to accompany the main course.  I have seen packets of ready mix in supermarkets and local ethnic shops, but I hadn’t realised just how easy they were to make until I found this recipe: simply spoonfuls of fried, spicy diced onion and chick pea (besan/gram) flour batter mixture. I shall definitely be making these now when I serve Indian style food to friends.

The recipe comes from a library book Curry: Easy Recipes for all your favourites by Sunil Vijayakar, which has a good selection of uncomplicated sounding recipes. It is better if the onion is chopped fairly finely (but not very finely) and the batter quite thick so that the mixture does not easily fall apart when being cooked. I also found that putting the mixture in the fridge to chill for a while helped them to hold together, a bit like Salt Fish Cakes. In fact the method is not dissimilar.  The original recipe calls for deep frying (in sunflower oil heated to 180oC for 1-2 minutes) but I found that they could be shallow fried just as easily, which is a (slightly) healthier option. Make them fairly close to serving to keep their crispness, but they could be kept warm for a short while. Serve either as a first course accompanied with Lime Pickle and/or Mango Chutney or as one of the vegetable options in a mixed Indian style menu.

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Onion Bhajis
(Makes about 16)

250g gram flour/besan/chick pea flour
1tsp chilli powder (mild/medium/hot, depending on taste
1tsp ground turmeric
1tbsp crushed coriander seeds
3 large onions, chopped fairly finely
6 curry leaves, fresh if possible
Sunflower oil for frying (deep or shallow)
Salt
Chopped fresh coriander to serve, if available.

1. Mix the gram flour, chilli powder, turmeric, coriander seeds and a pinch of salt together in a bowl.

2. Add water to make a thick batter, which will hold the onion together.

3. Stir in the onions and curry leaves. If necessary add a little more flour.

4. Form the mixture into balls, using a little flour on the hands and surface to stop them sticking too much. Put them in the fridge to chill for at least 10minutes.

5. Shallow fry in sunflower oil until golden brown.

6. Serve garnished with some chopped fresh coriander if available and Lime Pickle and/or Mango chutney for a first course.

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A little extra something for the Christmas or New Year party table!  Following the example of the original recipe I made these little cheesy biscuits bite sized using a variety of shapes from my collection of mini cutters.  They would be just as good made larger and used as canapes with a selection of toppings. Each of my cheese biscuits – I made six shapes – had a different topping: poppy seeds, sesame seeds, black onion seeds (often known as Nigella or Kalonji, though I am not sure if the English garden Nigella or ‘Love in a Mist’ as an edible variety), cumin seeds, smoked (or ordinary) paprika, pinch of finely grated parmesan. Another recipe for cheese biscuits I found suggested using fennel seeds and if you like heat then you could use cayenne pepper. You could also leave some of the biscuits plain.  (Be warned that the high heat of the cooking combined with the high fat content of the biscuits could cause a liquid topping such as tomato or pesto sauce to blacken. Although I have not tried it, I think it would be sensible to add these toppings once the biscuits are cooked, returning them to the oven for 3-5 minutes maximum so the topping can set.)  The mixture could, I am sure, also be made into cheese straws.  I found rolling the soft pastry between pieces of cling film was very successful, as was using a thoroughly chilled lump of dough and re-chilling the baking trays full of biscuits before cooking.  From memory, I think my cutters were original from a children’s cookery set.  One warning these biscuits are very rich and contain a large amount of butter as well as cheese, so are not very good for weight watchers.  Definitely naughty but nice!  My small cutters made around 170 biscuits, so be warned that it is a rather time consuming job, but don’t they all look pretty!

The recipe for Crunchy Cheese Biscuits came from the ASDA instore free magazine, December 2009 issue and was suggested they could be give as an edible Christmas gift: a good idea if you have the time!  It is recommended that they will keep for two weeks in the fridge, stored in an airtight container, or alternatively frozen for up to six weeks.  The recipe is almost identical to the original with very few alterations.

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Crunchy Cheese Biscuits
(Number depends on cutter size.  I made about 170 – original says 50!)

200g plain flour
¼ level tsp dry mustard powder
¼ level tsp cayenne
150g butter, cut into cubes
75g extra mature Cheddar, grated
25g Parmesan, grated
1 medium egg, separated
Toppings to decorate – Choose from pinches of: poppy seeds, sesame seeds, black onion seeds, cumin seeds, smoked (or ordinary) paprika, finely grated parmesan, fennel seeds – or anything else that you feel might be suitable.

1.  Grease two or three baking trays or line them with baking paper (the trays may have to be reused). 

2.  Sift the flour, mustard powder, cayenne and a good pinch of salt into a large bowl.

3.  Rub in the butter.  Stir in the cheeses.  Add the egg yolk and 2tsp cold water.  Stir until the mixture starts to clump together and then mix it by hand shaping it into a slab about 2cm thick.  Wrap in clingfilm and place in the fridge for at least 30 minutes.

4.  Roll out a third of the dough between two sheets of clingfilm until it is 3mm thick (using clingfilm means you do not need flour each time to re-roll the dough.  This keeps the biscuits crisp). Remove the top sheet of film and cut the dough into small shapes with a cutter. Place the shapes on a baking tray. Repeat with the rest of the dough. Try to get roughly an equal number of each shape.

5.  Preheat the oven to 180oC/160oC Fan/Gas 4. Lightly beat the egg white and brush some on each biscuit. Sprinkle some with the toppings.  You may like to leave some plain.  (See notes on toppings in the introduction above.)  If you have time, re-chill the biscuits in the fridge for 20-30minutes before baking.

6.  Bake biscuits for 12-14 minutes, removing them carefully from the baking tray as they are fragile and leave them to cool on a wire rack. 

7.  If giving as a gift they can be packed into a decorative box with tissue paper and decorated with pretty paper and ribbon.  Remember to provide a ‘menu’ (as in a box of chocolates) so the recipient knows which flavour toppings you have used and to give storage instructions if appropriate.

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This recipe evolved from some experimentation when I wanted to make some corn fritters to serve with Chicken Gumbo, although it was not difficult to work out a satisfactory recipe.  I wanted a fritter that involved shallow frying using a minimum of oil, rather than a calorie laden deep fried version.  (I do not own a deep fat fryer.)  After a little experimentation, this is the recipe I came up with, using my basic batter recipe as used for Yorkshire puddings.  It is very simple to make and can be eaten in place of, or as well as, rice.  Cayenne pepper, adjusted to suit your taste, gives a spicy ‘kick’ to the fritter.  If you want something hotter, try using de-seeded and finely diced chilli peppers in place of the Cayenne.

Sweetcorn pancakes/fritters can be found in both Caribbean and Southern USA cuisine, so I often serve the pancake fritters as a side dish with Chicken Gumbo or Hyacinth’s Salt Fish Cakes and alongside Fried Plantain, which is added towards the end of the cooking time using the same pan. Alternatively the plantain could be diced and added to the fritter mixture. More ideas on how to vary the dish to eat at other meals are given after the recipe. 

100_4136 Sweetcorn Pancake Fritters

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Sweetcorn Pancake Fritters
(Makes 8-12 fritters, depending on size)

A 1 egg quantity of batter mixture, as used for Yorkshire pudding
1 or 2 finely chopped spring onions, both white and green parts
1 400g tin of sweetcorn, drained
Salt, black pepper & cayenne pepper to taste
Sunflower oil to shallow fry

1.  Make the batter mixture and beat well.  If made ahead of time store in the fridge without adding the other ingredients.

2.  When you are ready to cook the fritters, beat the mixture well again and add the spring onions, corn and seasonings.

3.  Heat the oil and spoon in 1½ to 2 tbsp per fritter, cooking several fritters at one time, depending on the size of your pan. It is better to have thinner smaller fritters which cook through to the centre. Use a medium heat, flattening each with a spatula. Avoid turning the fritters over too quickly, but when a fritter is golden on one side flip it and brown the second side. Watch carefully as they can burn quickly.

4. Absorb excess oil by placing each batch between layers of kitchen paper and keep warm until needed.

5. Serve as an accompaniment to a Southern USA or Caribbean Style dish, alongside rice and shallow fried plantain, or with a boiled ham or gammon joint. 

They would also be good served alongside some crispy bacon and/or eggs and grilled tomato as part of a brunch breakfast. 

Vegetarian Variation: Add grated cheese and pre-cooked potato, parsnip or sweet potato and eat these fritters as part of a vegetarian lunch.

They could also be eaten cold as part of a picnic in the original or cheesy vegetarian version.

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I learned how to make fried plantain by following instructions given by a friend from the Caribbean.  It’s such an easy recipe you might wonder why it is here, nevertheless I think it is worth recording.  Plantain is still fairly new and may be unfamiliar to some people: I had to find out how to cook it!  Although they are the same family, Plantain differ from the yellow dessert bananas usually found in the fruit bowl.  

Plantain can be bought from Caribbean food stockists and can also be found in larger supermarkets.  They are usually best bought while still green, without too many brown spots, so they can be stored in the fridge for a few days if necessary.  The skins can be a little difficult to remove. When you are about to cook them, using a sharp knife carefull slit the skin lengthwise and then carefully peel away the skin.

'Meanderings through my Cookbook' http://www.hopeeternalcookbook.wordpress.com

Fried Plantain
(Serves 4)

2 large plantain
A knob of butter
Sunflower oil

1. Cut the plantain into 1cm/½ inch pieces, either straight or diagonally.

2. Heat the butter and oil together in a frying pan.

3. Reduce temperature and gently cook pieces of plantain in batches, turning as necessary until golden brown on both sides. Be careful as the sugar content will make the plantain pieces caramelise and burn quickly.

4. As each piece is browned lift out and place on kitchen paper to remove excess oil. Keep warm until all pieces are cooked.

5. Serve as a side dish for Caribbean dishes.  A parsley garnish looks pretty!

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