Cauliflower & Pea Fritters

Cauliflower and Pea Fritter with scallions and creme freche.I’m a little distracted by ‘fritter’ imagery and word play. Unfortunately, I’ve only just realised how obvious it all is. But the fritter itself? The plain and humble fritter? Speckled with greatness.

Fritter illustration from cauliflower & pea recipe from onehandedtoast.com

I love this fritter incarnation. It’s spring! A spring fritter! And because fritters are so child friendly, they offer up vegetable opportunities for captive mouths.

Cauliflower works really well. Nutty, with edges frazzled by the pan. Cooked briefly, with a little bite left, they offer structure and lightness to the fritter. Spring onions add a fresh spike complemented by a scatter of cheese. These fritters are more than the sum of their parts.

Light and succulent cauliflower & pea fritters with scallions

Light and succulent cauliflower & pea fritters with scallions

Light and succulent cauliflower & pea fritters with scallions

I’m a bit of a cauliflower nut and an evangelist for using the whole veg – heart, leaves, stalks, etc. It’s all great stuff! But for this recipe I recommend just the tips of the florets, crumbled into small marble sized pieces. You could sauté the rest of the cauliflower in butter and toasted cumin seeds.

I’m with other fritterers in advocating baking powder to offer a slight lift – so that they emerge like sweet little knitted buttons rather than a hard, old, flat coin.

Cauliflower & Pea fritters wirh scallions

The humble fritter …

The humble fritterer …

fritter illustration from onhandedtoast.com

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Cauliflower & Pea Fritters

Ingredients

(makes 4 large fritters)
A glug of [olive] oil and a knob of butter.
120 gms (US – 4oz) cauliflower florets
60 gms (2oz) frozen peas
1 large egg
2 tbsp crème fresh
60 gms (2oz) flour
30 gms (1oz) grated full flavoured cheese, e.g. cheddar
1 level tsp baking powder
25 grams (1oz) finely sliced spring onions (scallions)
Salt and pepper
Crème Fresh and chopped herbs to serve. Flat leaf parsley or chives perhaps.

Method

Put a medium sized pan of water on to boil.

Crumble the tips of cauliflower florets in your fingers, so that they become dinky little marbles. Just roughly. Don’t be too fastidious (note to self!).

Add the peas and cauliflower to the pan. When back to the boil, cook for four minutes. Then drain and plunge into cold water.

Put a sauté pan onto a medium heat and add the oil and butter.

Break the egg into a large-ish bowl - and beat.

Mix in grated cheese, spring onions and crème fresh.

Combine the flour and baking powder. Stir into the mix. Once the baking powder is added, you should use the mix within twenty minutes to maximise its levitational qualities.

Season.

Then gently fold in the vegetables. You should now have a thick set batter

When your pan is hot, spoon in two heaped tablespoons for each fritter.

If you want to be neat (pointless but I do it myself sometimes) you could use metal cooking rings. Depending on the size, two heaped spoonfuls is again about right. Fill to approx ½ to ¾ inch. Remember to grease the rings first. Also, loosen and lift away the ring after 2-3 minutes, so that the mixture doesn’t stick to the metal.

Cook the fritters for 5-10 minutes without moving. More importantly, they’re ready to turn when the first couple of small crumpet-like bubbles open up on the uncooked surface.

Flip over and cook for a few minutes less. Just until you have a good colour on both sides. You may need to add a drop more oil at the flip stage.

Serve straight away with sour cream and chopped herbs.

Smokey Brunch with Sour Cream

 

Smoked chilli, paprika and chorizo ragu on french toast, with sour cream, scallions and fresh corianderThere’s a momentary vogue for skilleted eggs baked in variations of tomato and chilli.

Illustration from onehandedtoast.com for smokey ragu on french toast with sour cream

What could be more delicious? But I’ve been playing around with the idea. Inverting and toying.  Adding in a French Toast element. And eating …

Smoked paprika and chorizo ragu on french toast, with sour cream

 

Sour cream is, of course, a lover of all things tomato and chilli. But here, it also acts as compensation for an eggy kind of sacrifice. That’s what ‘French Toast’ is. I see its merits. I do. And the fact that kids tend to love French Toast – I see that too. But up until now I’ve been ambivalent!

 

Illustration from onehandedtoast.com for Smoked paprika and chorizo ragu on french toast, with sour cream

Because it’s painful to say goodbye to a runny yolk. Watching it acquiesce to the pan when it should be spilling its glossy golden crown all over your toast …

French toast with scallions and cracked pepper. Ready for a generous dollop of smokey chorizo ragu and sour cream.

But you can get used to sacrifice. It throws up all kids of discovery.

French toast with scallions and cracked pepper. Ready for a generous dollop of smokey chorizo ragu and sour cream.

Like sour cream and a rich, smokey, garlicky chorizo ragu …

Smoked paprika and chorizo ragu - ready for french toast and scallions, with sour cream

An egg reborn into a fluffy Galic breakfast crumpet!

French toast with scallions and black pepper - and a smokey chorizo ragu with sour cream

 

So I’m now sold on this breakfast. And with a sprinkle of spring onions, and a scatter of cracked pepper, the french toast element to this dish becomes a luscious, pillowy bed. Perfect  for a silky, smokey ragut, with a dribble of sour cream.

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Smokey Brunch with Sour Cream

Ingredients

(Serves 4)
The ragu and sour cream
A few good slugs of olive oil
1 large or two medium sized onions
2 cloves of chopped garlic
100g chorizo (US: 3.5 oz)
1 tsp smoked sweet paprika (you could also opt for the chilli hit of regular smoked paprika)
1 400ml tin of chopped tomatoes (US: 14oz can)
Salt and pepper
150ml sour cream (US: 5oz)
Or thick double cream with 1 – 2 tbsp squeezed lemon juice mixed through
I tbsp. chopped coriander
The French Toast
4 slices of stale-ish white bread (about 2cm thick)
3 large eggs
4 spring onions (scallions in US)
1 tbsp black peppercorns
3tbsp thick double Cream
Flaky salt
4tbsp ghee or clarified butter (you could use oil instead)

Method

The ragu and sour cream

Finely chop the onion

Dice the chorizo into small chunks.

Heat olive oil in a frying pan and add the onions. Use a little more heat than normal. Some bronzing – even a touch of charring – won’t go amiss as the starting point for this very robust sauce.

Work the onions for a good ten minutes to bring out their sticky, sweet intensity.

Add chopped garlic towards the end and fry with the onions for a couple of minutes.

Push the onion and garlic to the edge of the pan and move this side of the pan off the heat source.

Add the chorizo to the heated size of the pan. Cook for a couple of minutes on a high-ish heat, just to release the fats.

Bring the whole pan back onto the heat and mix the paprika through. Heat for thirty seconds.

Add the chopped tomatoes. Watch the sauce roar and gurgle.

Cook through for 5-10 minutes.

Add fresh pepper and flakey salt to taste.

Turn off the heat and put a lid on the pan. Set to one side.

Open or prepare your sour cream for later.

Chop the coriander, also for later.

The French Toast

You can see from pics, that I've triangled my bread into dainty pieces. It's just for a prettier pic. You can do this but I wouldn't bother. Throw them in as slabs.

If you don’t have ghee, clarifying butter only takes a few minutes in a pan. I’ve also used a microwave to do this. There are plenty of quick guides on the web for reference. You could use oil but plain butter will burn if not clarified first.

Break the eggs into a shallow bowl and whisk/beat thoroughly.

Add the cream and agitate/stir through till dispersed.

Add 2tbsps of melted ghee/clarified butter.

Add a large sprinkle of salt.

Slice the spring onions to include a good bit of the green. Set to one side.

Loosely crush the black pepper. Set to one side.

Heat the pan with the ghee, almost on maximum heat.

Drop the bread in the egg, moving it to make sure it’s free to soak up. After thirty seconds, when it's soft but not soggy, gently flip over in the egg and liberally sprinkle spring onions and black pepper onto the exposed eggy surface.

After another thirty seconds, drop this side into the hot pan.

Whilst in the pan, sprinkle on more spring onions and pepper to the unadorned side.

Don’t move the bread whilst cooking but you can give the bread a gentle press for a few seconds with the flat of a slice, just to make sure the egg cooks all over.

After two minutes of cooking the pan should be starting to smoke. Gently flip over. Cook for one more minute.

Serve each slice with a generous spoonful of the ragu and a goodly dollop of sour cream. Sprinkle with freshly chopped coriander

Eat.

Sleep some more.

Have the same again for lunch and dinner.

Wedges with Summer Mayo

Chunky potato wedges with herb mayonnaise

Or with ketchup. Easy squeezy ketchup. So much easier!

Because the potato has to be the star. Has to be!

illustration from potato wedge recipe by onehandedtoast.com

But when I do bother making mayonnaise, I think I should do it all the time. Five minutes of healthy bicep ache. Holding my patience with the oil. Remembering there’s a jar of the stuff in the fridge …

Pouring oil for mayonnaise

The sweat of my brow – a momentary ruddiness. I’m so much more Mediterranean than Anglo-Saxon.  And for that pathetic fantasy alone it is usually worth it.

blending mayo from onehandedtoast.com

I can’t think of any food circumstance when 100% olive olive oil would work for mayonnaise. But with roughly a third olive oil, you get all the flavoursome richness, with none of the bitter intensity. I’ve used groundnut oil for the rest but rapeseed or a mix of oils are worth trying.

Or just use ketchup.

If you have an electric whisk (unlike me) you’re probably making your own mayonnaise every week. In which case, I’m probably wasting your time with this post. I hope you like the pics!

As for the wedges, cold baked potatoes are the key to success. Nothing more. And a bit of bravado in the pan. I’m always tempted to remove them lightly golden but holding my nerve and skirting with carbonisation yields flavour and crunch.

cooking potato wedges from onehandedtoast.com

These should be bronzed marvels of crispness that wouldn’t be out of place if they were set down on Venice beach sporting roller blades.

Potato wedge with herby summer mayo from onehandedtoast.com

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Wedges with Summer Mayo

Ingredients

The Mayonnaise
2 egg yolks
1tsp Dijon mustard
200ml [US - 1 cup] groundnut/rapeseed/vegetable oil, etc.
75ml [1/3 cup] olive oil
1-2 tbsp cider vinegar
Juice of ½ lemon
Dill or mint or a generous mix of herbs.
A large pinch of good flaky salt.
The Wedges
4 large-ish floury cooled baked potatoes (about 750 gms worth/or just under a pound)
Olive/veg/rapeseed oil to hand – a good few tbsps.
Salt

Method

The Mayonnaise

You’ll need a dense, fine meshed balloon whisk for this. Or an electric whisk!

Gather all the mayonnaise ingredients together.

Add the separated egg yolks to a largish bowl. A glass bowl is helpful for visibility. Place the bowl on your lap or another surface where it won’t slip and slide.

Stir in the mustard.

Add the groundnut oil with the tiniest of drizzles – particularly at the start. Attaching a pourer to a bottle will help. Keep going (‘slowly slowly catchy monkey’) with all the 200ml [1 cup]. This should take about ten minutes

Add the vinegar and watch the mayonnaise lighten.

Then add the olive oil.

After this: lemon juice, salt, and a generous mix of herbs. A little more than I used in my photo. I was a tad short!

The Wedges

The essentials are some cooled baked potatoes. Leftovers, maybe.

Cut into wedges – 6 to 8 for each potato. Be gentle, so they don’t break up.

On med-high heat (with the emphasis on high) add a generous few tbsps. of oil in a large, heavy bottomed pan.

Gently add your wedges. They’ll become more robust once the heat has done its work.

Cook for 3-4 minutes on one side. Don’t tamper during this time. It’s hard to over frazzle wedges.

Do the same on the two other sides (inc. skin side).

You’ll probably want to go back and repeat the process, so that they crinkle and crack and toughen up into truly rugged specimens.

Empty out onto tissue paper and sprinkle with salt.

Ready for the ketchup … !

Chocolate Ginger Tiffin

Chocolate ginger tiffin recipe with dates and walnuts. Illustration by Joe Hammond of onehandedtoast.comIt is possible to refuse a chocolate brownie. Still warm, chewy, gooey, endless. Or devil’s food cake, chocolate fudge cake, chocolate torte, chocolate truffles. It is possible.

But chocolate tiffin? I’m afraid not.

Cocolate ginger tiffin with dates and walnutsCocolate ginger tiffin with dates and walnutsCocolate ginger tiffin with dates and walnuts

Cocolate ginger tiffin with dates and walnuts

Tiffin magnet illustration from onehandedtoast.com

There’s a school of tiffin making that wants to put a layer of chocolate on top. But crocuses, blue-bells, daffodils – are they not beautiful enough already? Would anyone go out in spring with a can of spray paint and add a little flourish?

Instead, go all out with the actual tiffin and marvel at the tiffin maker’s creation. It’s hard to go wrong with the basic setting ingredients of butter and chocolate.

Choc & butter before becoming tiffin

choc-&-butter-on the way to becoming tiffin If you don’t like ginger, use the usual digestive biscuits instead. Nuts aren’t essential here. I happen to love dates but any dried fruit is fine.

Dates being chopped to make chocolate ginger tiffinThis being a fridge cake, there’s no baking involved. So it’s not a waste if you want to gloss your creation with quality chocolate. It’s all very relaxed in tiffin world. Fashion this luxury chocolate item in your own sweet image. As long as you don’t add marshmallow, you’ll find Tiffin the loveliest and most accommodating of sweet treats.

Chocolate ginger tiffin right out of the fridgeHigh grade, premium, no messing , bullion-bar chocolatyness.

Ginger chocolate tiffin with walnuts and dates

Lovely to have such huge interest in my new blog. Thanks for finding me!

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facebook-pic-2_edited-1-miniRecipe to follow. You could also try these other recent posts …

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Chocolate Ginger Tiffin

Ingredients

130 grams Slightly Salted butter
100 grams dark chocolate
100 grams milk chocolate
200 grams ginger nut biscuits
100 grams dates (or raisins, sultanas, etc.)
50 grams crystalised or preserved ginger
75 grams walnuts
Zest of one orange
1tbsp cocoa powder
2 tbsp golden syrup

Method

Half fill a saucepan with boiling water and place a large bowl on top, so that the base is slightly immersed in the water. Once the water is boiled, turn the heat to low.

Break the chocolate up and add to the bowl, along with the butter. When nearly melted, turn the hob off and do this other stuff …

Put the biscuits into a tea towel and take up the corners into your fist. Be your worst and smash the smithereens out of those biscuits on any inanimate kitchen surface. Aim for mostly crumbs but with a good amount of biscuit bits too. Add these to the bowl.

Chop the dates comprehensively (see above image) and add these to the bowl. If using raisins or sultanas, you can keep them whole.

Similarly chop and add the ginger.

Lightly crush the walnuts, so that you have decent small chunks. Add to the bowl.

Grate the zest of the orange into the bowl.

Add the golden syrup and cocoa powder too.

Stir the mixture thoroughly then open your mouth as wide as possible and dunk your entire head, face first, into the chocolaty bowl.

Test possible dishes/containers by adding 600ml of water to some likely candidates. If the depth of the water is about 4 or 5 cm, then it’s perfect. Butter the dish and then line it with foil (the butter is just to help keep the foil in place).

Add the mixture, then leave it to set in the fridge for a couple of hours. You could give it a thirty minute start in the freezer to speed things up.

Depends how desperate you are ...

Orange and Cumin Paneer

A healthy homemade snack of Orange and Cumin paneerNutty, fragrant, pillowy. Great with a chilled beer. Equally great for  weaning a baby. I’m officially launching the latest misguided superfood craze!

Paneer only ever gets shared billing.illustration from One Handed Toast paneer recipe The Oscar  for ‘best supporting ingredient’. In Palak paneer , the spinach is the star. It’s delicious. It’s one of my freezer staples. I’ll include the recipe at some point. But right now I want to celebrate paneer as a virtuoso solo act.

I feel all ‘artisan’ and bucolic when I make paneer. I’m suddenly a cheese-maker from the days of yore. I wish my son was a little older than two. I’d take him in as my apprentice. I’d teach him how embarrassingly simple it is to separate curds from whey with nothing but a litre of milk and a lemon.

illustration from the 'One Handed Toast' recipe for making paneer

Okay, the practicalities are this: hold your nerve when adding lemon juice to the boiling milk. With early efforts I’ve strained the curd too early and yielded a pitiful amount of curd. You’re looking for the curd to separate and for the liquid whey to colour a faintly ghoulish green. I’ve included all the steps in my recipe below. You can buy paneer from some supermarkets. It’s not bad and generally made without the addition of horrible stuff. I sometimes use it. But it’s worth having a go yourself to get  the fresh, plump texture of homemade paneer. And with older kids, making this could be a lot of fun.

Straining curds to make paneer from the 'One Handed Toast' recipe

 

Straining curds to make paneer from the 'One Handed Toast' recipe

This spherical object is the base of my table. Hard to eat lunch off a table when one of the legs is being used as a cheese-press!

Pressing curds to make paneer from the 'One Handed Toast' recipe

Without the cumin and orange, raw paneer is just milk curds that have set. It’s a perfect solid for early weaning. Later on it can be added to soups, vegetable stews, sauces, etc. as a healthy source of protein for toddlers.

But flavouring paneer through sautéing is where it becomes delicious in its own right. Some recipes advocate mixing flavourings into the wet curds. I like to keep the paneer pure. Just like me. But also, adding heat to the surface flavours helps their own qualities to develop.

orange and cumin paneer ready for snacking on from 'One Handed Toast' recipe

Salt flakes bring out the flavour of the scented orange and nutty cumin.You could also try coriander seeds, lemon, juniper – or wherever else your thoughts take you …

orange and cumin paneer sauted from 'One Handed Toast' recipe

No, I don’t think this going to be a craze. But I would have said that about knitting. I really hope you give this a go. Happy cheese-making!

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Orange and Cumin Paneer

Ingredients

N.B. You’ll need muslin or cheese-cloth. A large enough piece to enclose the paneer and to tie it into a knot.
For the raw paneer (To make 150 grams of paneer):
1 litre of whole milk
2-3 tbsp of lemon juice (you could substitute with citric acid if you are chemically inclined)
To flavour the paneer:
A dash or two of oil – vegetable, olive or similar …
The grated zest of 2 large oranges
2 tbsp of cumin
A couple of generous pinches of good flaked salt (such as Maldon)

Method

For the raw paneer:

In large pan – the chunkiest you have – bring all the milk to the boil.

Whilst the milk heats, put a colander in the sink and line with muslin, so that the excess drapes over the sides. Meanwhile, go all dreamy in the head and pretend that you’re living in a bygone cheese-making age.

Snap out of that when you notice the milk bubbling vigorously. Add 1 tbsp of lemon juice and stir. Almost straight away, some cottage-cheese-like lumps of curd should appear. Stir for only a handful of seconds and add another teaspoon of lemon juice. Continue to do this until large clumps of curd appear and the whey goes from milky and opaque to green-tinged and watery.

Carefully strain the mixture through your muslin lined colander.

Pull up the edges of the muslin and lift out of the colander to drain most of the water away (see the picture above). Compress the enclosed cheese with your hands to squeeze more water out.

Tie the top of the muslin round the tap or a pan handle and let the paneer drain for half an hour or so.

After this, press the paneer with a heavy weight to compact the mixture and drain out more water. You’ll see my own cobbled together set-up above. It’s just a matter of finding a suitable space in your home for this. A table leg is ideal. Put the muslin package on a folded over towel and place this on a tray to protect the floor. Then place another tray or board on the muslin package, so that it presses flat. A paneer club sandwich! Leave this for two to three hours. Then put the muslin lined paneer in the fridge overnight.

The next day, the paneer will be firm and ready to eat or cook with. If you’re using paneer in its raw state, I suggest cutting it into 1 cm square chunks.

Raw paneer is great as a weaning food or as a finger-food snack when babies become more confident eaters.

To flavour the paneer:

Grate the orange zest and pat dry with kitchen paper. Mix with the cumin on a side-plate with the salt.

Cut paneer into slightly larger cubes (almost 2cm square)

Add oil to a non-stick sauce pan.

Roll the cubed paneer in the oil to moisten. Then roll the paneer in the orange, cumin and salt mixture.

Heat pan on medium-high with just a thin covering of oil. Add the paneer when the pan is hot. Cook for a minute or two on each side. Crisp edges, toasty cumin, fragrant orange – the contents will become very snackable very quickly.

Share with guests, your household, or pour yourself a beer and eat paneer watching football/a film/QVC/re-runs of Mork & Mindy on a wet Sunday in May.

Caramelised Banana

caramelised banana caramelised banana: a tasty and healthy butter toffee treatFound some neglected bananas in a cupboard last week. Brown and fragrant and sweet sweet sweet. I googled banana bread and found 167000 recipes. Decided not to gift the world one more.illustration of an alternative to banana bread

We can all go to terrible lengths – or expense – with salted caramel and other sticky treats but caramelising bananas couldn’t be easier or cheaper. And it yields distinctively delicious results. The browner the banana the deeper the caramelisation. A dark toffeeness penetrating each gooey morsel. Rolling the bananas in sugar adds that little bit of stuck-in-the-teeth toffeeness. All part of the meltingly fragrant toffeetastic experience.

Of course, you can add bells and whistles to this: vanilla sugar, warm spices, rum – you could even flambé! But after gobbling up a few stray ones straight from the pan, I rather like them with peanut butter on toast.

Caramelised banana, pure and simple and yummycaramelised banana on toast with peanut butter Or just make sure you have extra thick cream or ice-cream to transform this simple desert into something so special you can forever consign banana bread to the banana bread bin.

Marlon Banana from One Handed Toast's imagining of the classic film, 'On the Watrefront'

Actually, banana bread is lovely. I’ll be posting recipe number 167001 in the very near future …

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Caramelised Banana

Ingredients

A knob of butter
A teaspoon or two of vegetable oil
(Alternatively, use clarified butter instead of the above two)
A couple of very ripe, brown bananas.
A handful of sugar

Method

Cut the bananas into chunks that match the diameter of your bananas (I sound like Delia!).

Put a heavy, non-stick pan on a medium heat and melt the fat.

Roll the bananas in sugar.

Add the pieces to the pan.

Allow the banana to cook without bothering or jiggling them.

After a minute or two, turn the bananas carefully – perhaps shaking the pan beforehand to loosen their terrified grip on the metal. The idea is to keep the gooey caramelisation intact. Where would this recipe be without that? Warm, sludgy banana!

Turn each piece when a molasses-like in colour. Do this till caramelised all over.

Serve with ice cream or thick cream, and maybe something crunchy like a brandy snap. Very nice with peanut butter on toast

Minestrone

A picturesque Italianate Classic.: minestrone soup. A complete meal with one pot simplicity.Once upon a time, soup only came in cans. A few eccentrics would make it. Mad people mostly.  The rest of us ate minestrone.

Or we thought we were eating minestrone. The second half of the twentieth century hoodwinked us. Forget Watergate! What about minestronegate

Retro soup can from 'One Handed Soup's minestrone recipe

So here it is – the real thing. A spoonful of perfectly balanced wholesome yumminess to set the record straight. A classic soup that is a complete meal in itself. If you’re serving this to kids as well, it’s such an inconspicuous way to consume veggies that neither you nor they will have to admit that it’s happened.

A soon of 'One Handed Toast's' minestroneA spoon of 'One Handed Toast's' minestrone

If you can possibly bear it, chop the veg up nice and small. The merest hint of work required for this one pot dish.

Chopping carrots for 'One Handed Toast's' minestrone recipeIt makes for a pretty spoonful. For those who may be offended by the presence of vegetables, it takes the emphasis away – so that they meld into a lucky dip of goodies on a spoon.

A ladleful of One Handed Toast's minestrone

Use what’s in your fridge or larder for this. Smoked bacon instead of pancetta is fine. Green beans are good. Other small shaped pasta works okay. Of course, it’s delightful if you are superhuman and have home-made stock but a good quality instant chicken or beef version is more than fine. 

Give the dish some deeply yummy oomph. Use a quality tin of tomatoes. And chop the rind off some parmesan or other hard Italian cheese and add it to the soup while it’s cooking. You can fish it out later.

All that’s needed to finish off is some freshly chopped parsley and grated parmesan. Because of the pulses, potato and pasta, there’s no need for bread. The soup is big enough to go it alone.

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 Recipe to follow … and/or here are a few recent recipes to try:

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Minestrone

Serves eight very hungry people.

Ingredients

1tbsp olive oil
200 grams pancetta, cubed
1 onion
2 cloves garlic
2 large carrots
2 sticks of celery
300 grams potatoes
2 bay leaves
100 grams savoy cabbage
1 tin tomatoes
2 tbsp tomato puree
400 gram tin of canelini beans
1.5 ltrs chicken or beef stock
100 grams macaroni or, even better, tubetti.
The rind of a slice of parmesan
3 tbsp chopped flat-leaf parsley
Salt and pepper (check whether your stock is salted. Remember that pancetta is already salty)
Parmesan for grating at the table

Method

Peel and chop the potatoes into half inch cubes. Dice the onion, carrot and celery as small as patience allows. Finely chop the garlic.

Add only a drop or two of oil to a large, heavy bottomed pan. Get the pan nice and hot. Brown the pancetta for 2-3 minutes.

Use a slotted spoon to remove the pancetta and set to one side, leaving the rendered pancetta fat in the pan.

Reduce the heat a touch and cook the onions for five minutes.

Add the garlic and sauté for a minute more.

Add the celery and carrot and cook for a further 2-3 minutes.

Throw in the cabbage, potato and bay leaves.

After 2-3 minutes add the tomato, stock and parmesan rind. Bring to a simmer and keep it there for half an hour.

Add the pasta and beans and simmer for a further twenty minutes.

More stock or water might be needed if you lose all soupiness. Some liquid is needed to allow the pasts to absorb liquid and cook. Also, some pasta can be denser than others. Sometimes just putting the lid back on the pan after cooking – and leaving it to its own devices for a few minutes - will enable the pasta to reach its destination.

Stir in freshly chopped parsley and serve.

Add parmesan at the table (or something like it).

Great for leftovers ...

Almond porridge

A nutritious and warming breakfast porridge with bananas, almonds and oatsI have two little fingers the shape of crescent moons. It’s the Scot in me. My Scottish heritage. My Campbell genes. I’m rather fond of the crooked little things. But there’s nothing very Campbell about this porridge. illustration from onehandedtoast.com Rolled oats, almonds, milk and nutmeg. No soaking overnight. No salt. No water. My purebred Scottish cousins – avert your wee eyes now.

I’m brazenly suggesting rolled oats. Just enough bite and texture after a few minutes of gentle simmering. I add a little banana at the start. The amount depends on how ripe and sweet. Almonds also offer their own floral sweetness. illustration from onehandedtoast.com

Nutmeg and almonds. Even the words themselves feel like perfect forms. Wars have been fought over these ingredients.

Almost everything you’re adding provides slow releasing energy. Almonds too. But almonds are doing so much more besides. Almonds couldn’t be more healthy if they were clad in lycra.

I’d love to have a cow to hand when making this porridge. Unfortunately, I don’t keep one in our second floor flat. It just feels like these princely ingredients deserve the full cream experience. And with the cold snap back, this surely has to be the breakfast of the moment …

A warming winter breakfast porridge

A spoonful of luxury almond porridge

A trick with an egg …

My twenty-one month old son won’t eat eggs. I’ve tried the theatre of the dippy egg. Then I hit on a porridge solution. This is a little over the top for adults but it’s great toddlers …

a trick with an egg for adding to porridge for toddlersA trick with an egg from supercharged Almond Porridge recipe

A hard boiled egg yolk and a dash of milk. All mixed up into a handy custard. Add this little mixture to your child’s porridge. Hoodwinked! Great stuff for a developing brain.

Feel free to use the comments box at the end of the post if you’ve any questions or comments. It would be great to hear from you.

Happy breakfasting!scratch-n-sniff-1

Before the recipe … here are a few links to recent posts:

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Almond porridge

Serves four

Ingredients

800 ml milk
200 grams rolled porridge oats
2 bananas
3 tbsp ground almonds
A few grates from a whole nutmeg

Method

Roughly mash the bananas in your saucepan. Add the oats. Then add 3/4 of the milk and heat on medium low.

All the following timings completely depend on the heat you add. Try it slower if you have the time. At the other extreme, you could adapt this to microwave cooking to make it truly instant.

After three or four minutes the odd bubble will plop and burble. Keep an eye on the pan and give it the odd stir. It should only take another three or four minutes. You'll need to add more milk from time to time as it thickens.

When the porridge is creamy and bubbly, add the almonds and grate in your nutmeg.

Serve as soon as you can. It will thicken as it cools, the starches in the oats behaving much as they do in risotto rice. So add more milk as needed. I often keep a bit for the next day and quite a bit more milk is needed.

***

If you want to add the egg custard for egg resistant kids, first boil an egg. Add a few teaspoons of milk to the egg yolk and stir to a custard consistency. Just add this to a serving of porridge.

 

 

Fish Fingers

Fish homemade finger recipe. Ideal in a sandwich and as finger food for kids.A multi-sensory box of fish fingers. Rattling in their box. Spilling out like some forgotten winter Olympics flotsam. Kids food. Hangover food. Spur-of-the-moment food.Illustration of Captain Joe's fish fingers from the One Handed Toast site

But the tactile offerings of cardboard aside, there’s an easeful pleasure to be had from occasionally tackling them yourself. A  transformative pleasure. Making something apparently mundane into a treat that skirts the edges of the sublime (Okay, I’ve overdone it!). The key is to make them with frozen fish, so that the dish also becomes a relatively thrifty option. I use readily available blocks of frozen Pollock. Alaskan Pollock also happens to be a fairly well managed and sustainable fish stock.

Frozen fish keeps its moisture while the breadcrumb colours and crisps at a high temperature.

Frozen fish from Fish finger recipeThe coating seems to seal in the frozen fish, steaming it perfectly. Crack open the finished article and a miniature puff of steam balloons upwards.

I love breadcrumbing. I’d happily breadcrumb anything. I’d breadcrumb toast. The aforementioned combination of succulence and crispness can work beautifully with many foods (but not toast). I think, for me, there’s also an OCD delight in the flour to egg to breadcrumb conveyor-belt process.

flour is the first step when breadcrumbing fishAfter flour, dipping in egg will help breadcrumbs stick to your fishPerfectly crumbed fish finger from the recipe by One Handed Toast

Of course, there’s a kiddy food connotation with fish fingers. Associations of baked beans and turkey dinosaurs. They occupy a particular space in our culinary imagination. But in this blog I really want to focus on food that is appealing and delicious for all ages and tastes. And these delicate, crispy morsels will be an unexpected treat. If it bothers your diners, don’t call them fingers, call them croquettes, breaded cod. It’s all in the branding!

Also important is to shallow fry at a high heat. The sealed in fish takes a surprisingly short time to cook. It’s important that you give your breadcrumb a chance to colour into a range of buttery, golden terracotta hues.

Fish fingers made from cod or other white fish - in crispy breadcrumb. Just add ketchup for a perfect sandwich.Moist, succulent fish fingers from 'One Handed Toast'

Nothing this good can spill from a cardboard box. 

plaice your finger-1

Thanks for reading my second ever post. I’m plotting and dreaming up lots of exciting stuff. I’d love for you to add a comment below. And check out this lovely fresh ‘plaice’ so that I can email you my next post.

Before the recipe, here are some links to recent posts:

 Chocolate ginger tiffin recipe with dates and walnuts.

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Paneer-thumbnail-big-2-2-1

Fish Fingers

Ingredients

250 grams of frozen white fish
150 grams plain flour
2 eggs
150 grams breadcrumbs
2 tbsp grapeseed, veg or olive oil (more if your pan is large)

Method

Use a blender to make your breadcrumbs. Stale is much easier to blitz. Or leave a few slices out overnight.

Take your fish out of the freezer and leave for 10 minutes to soften slightly.

In the meantime, put flour, beaten egg and breadcrumbs into three separate shallow bowls.

Use a sharp, heavy blade and the palm of your hand to make chunky fingers from your frozen fish. Keep your real fingers as far away from the blade as possible. They will become eggy and breadcrumby from the following process but they really must stay connected to your hand.

Turn gently in the production line of your flour, egg and breadcrumbs and set briefly to one side.

Heat oil on a high heat in the heaviest shallow pan you have.

Gently place your fishfingers in the pan. The fingers will absorb oil, so don't let the pan dry out until they're nearly cooked. A dry pan at the end is fine but, for the most part, a thin layer of oil on a high heat will ensure that your fingers become crisp and golden.

After 2 minutes on one side, turn and cook for a similar time. Do this on all four sides until the fingers are a burnished copper colour and speckled with extra dark, extra crisp edges.

Great for a luxury version of the classic fishfinger sandwich. Lovely with a salad too.

 

Chana Dal

Chana Dal with fresh coriander and tomato

Back when  I was a teenager, if I had been asked to sum up everything that was wrong in one word, that word would have been lentils.  We drove a 2 CV. My Mum grew weed. And that kind of scarring takes years to heal. The sad result was years depriving myself of  lentil based dishes.  But when I think back, my Mum’s lentil rissoles with garlic yoghurt now sound quite lovely.

illustration from chana dal recipe in onehandedtoast.com

Of all lentil dishes, dal is what pulses would be if they had the right to choose. And the ones clamouring loudest would make it into a rich, deep, nutty, ochre bowl of chana dal. Actually, chana being a type of chick pea, this isn’t technically a lentil dish at all. That’s just how aloof this dal recipe is . 

Apart from chili, I’ve realised there’s no reason to go too light with the spices. If babies could complain, I think one of the first first culinary whinges would be for blandness  waved at them from a spoon.
illustration from chana dal recipe in onehandedtoast.com For babies, as for us all, some mealtimes must be ever so disappointing. But actually, carefully introducing chili fairly on is a good idea. You’ll see chili in the ingredients below but don’t be alarmed. The green chilis are pierced with a knife, so that they impart a piquant freshness before being removed and the chili powder is of the mild Kashmiri kind. The resultant dish has the mildest of kicks and my nineteen month old loves it.

dal-ingredients-ed-comp

This is the kind of cooking that I would never ever do in small amounts. In fact, I would almost always do double the already vast amount suggested here. Dal is perfect for freezing in small portions. If you think you’d find all these spices a bit fiddly, bulk cooking may make it worth your while.

Red lentils break down within twenty minutes or so but chana holds its own for a bit longer. Simmer and soften for an hour or so until the lentils have plenty of give. When they feel soft they still might need a vigorous whisk or light pummeling with a masher to bring a little smoothness to the gloriously toothy chana.  

And from that point on – with your lentils put to one side – the work is all about drawing  out the  flavours  of the spices till the fragrance leaves you questioning why you don’t use these ingredients for every single dish you make. As for all Indian dishes,  time invested in slow cooking onions offers a rich dividend.illustration from onehandedtoast.com demonstrating the virtues of long slow cooking of onions How low can your hob go? How much time do you have to spend on other things?

Particularly if you’re cooking in large amounts, it’s a time-saver to use a blender at every available opportunity. Roughly blitz the tomatoes. Blitz the garlic and ginger. Some little apparatus that can blend small amounts is really useful here – and everywhere else for that matter.  A  second tip is to use fresh tomatoes, despite tinned ones  offering better quality at this time of year. Even anemic, polytunel tomatoes will give off a tart green freshness that perfecty cuts through the earthy depths of the chana.

So adding the cooked chana is one of the last steps. Towards the end of the process, you will have two mixtures – the chana and the spice infused onion and tomato mixture.

Spices in chana dal recipe from One Handed Toast ladle-full of chana in dal recipe from onehandedtoast.comFresh coriander being added to chana dal This is the point to gauge the consistency you want.sign up illustration for onehandedtoast.com If your chana is on the watery side, cook your spice mix to reduce it a little (or vice versa by adding water). It’s a tactile pleasure to combine the two elements – and then to stir through fieldfuls of chopped coriander. Add to this the aroma and colours. The dish is a treat. And that’s just the preparation.

Thanks for reading my very first post. I hope you enjoy the recipe that now follows. If you’ve any thoughts or feedback, please do leave a comment. I’m excited about plans for the blog and hope I can tempt you back for more …

Chana Dal

Serves: A family of four again and again and again.

Ingredients

400grams chana dal
1.5 litres water
5 tbsp veg oil
2 tbsp cumin seeds
2 onions (1 if you don't have time to cook down)
4 green chillis (pierced with a knife)
4cm piece of fresh ginger (grated, blended or chopped finely)
5 garlic cloves
5 tomatoes
1/2 tsp chilli powder (more if mild)
1 heaped tsp ground turmeric
1 heaped tsp garam masala
3 tbsp methi/fenugreek (optional)
3tsp ground coriander
Pinch of asafoetida
zero to 1 tsp salt (subject to scruples and taste)
Large boquet of fresh coriander - stalks and all.

Method

Rinse the chana till it loses much of its cloudiness. Immersion in several large bowlfuls of water is the only real way to achieve this.

Then bring to the boil with the 1.5 litres. Reduce to a simmer and skim any froth from the surface. Cook for up to an hour until the chana starts to soften.

Set to one side and - when you have a moment later on - break down a little with a sturdy whisk or dainty masher.

Slice the onions as thinly as patience allows and cook slowly with similar levels of endurance.

Whilst the onions colour, blend, chop or pulverise the garlic and ginger. When you've reached the end of your tether with the onions, add the garlic and ginger to the pan and stir for five minutes or so.

Push your mixture back to the edges of your pan and add cumin to the little clearing you've created. Cook in the oil for up to a minute till the fragrance makes you smile.

Add the green chillis and the rest of the dry spices to the whole pan and stir on the heat for a minute or two.

Add the roughly blitzed or grated tomatoes, along with the seasoning, and cook on a low heat for 15-20 mins until your mixture melds and some of the oil separates. Remove the green chillis.

Stir your chana into the spicy tomatoey, oniony mix until the union is properly consummated. Cook for five minutes or so, checking for seasoning and loosen with a splash water if needed.

Before serving, stir in plentiful fresh green coriander.

Perfect with plain rice and chutney or as an accompaniment to any other curry dish.