Friday, 29 August 2014

Summer Berry Salad

One late Saturday morning, I ended up in the kitchen about half an hour before lunchtime, filling a bowl with delicious fruits, taking them back to my bedroom with me, sitting on my bed in my denim shortalls, and eating them while reading an old Lizzie McGuire book. I think I then filled my plate with a rainbow-coloured assortment of fruits for my lunch – more strawberries, oranges, slices of Golden Delicious apple, green grapes, more blueberries, and purple grapes. The salad below is bliss. Quantities of ingredients are not given because I just wash however much fruit I want without measuring it out – just eat however much you want!  This was several weeks ago now, and I'm dreading having to give up these fruits for the winter again ... why can't they be available at a good price all year round?




  1. Remove stalks from strawberries and cherries, wash all fruit (it may be a bit easier to do this using a sieve and running water over the fruit) and dry.
  2. Cut the strawberries into halves.
  3. Throw all the fruits into a bowl and enjoy!

Friday, 22 August 2014

Bread Rolls

For my birthday this year, I received The Great British Bake Off Learn to Bake as a present from my family, possibly in an attempt to persuade me to start learning to cook. I took the book on holiday with me to see if I could try a few of the recipes out. The one that jumped out at me to be the first to try to bake was this bread roll recipe, which needs nothing but flour, salt, yeast and water to make. It took me the majority of a morning (with breaks inbetween while waiting for the dough to expand), however, so this is probably something that would be better to make on weekends when more time is available.


500g strong white bread flour, plus extra for sprinkling
1 teaspoon salt
1 x 7g sachet fast-action dried yeast


  1. Gently warm 300ml water until it is lukewarm. Put the flour, salt and yeast into the mixing bowl and mix with your hands.
  2. Pour in the lukewarm water. Press and squeeze everything together to make a soft but not sticky dough. If the dough feels sticky, and sticks to the sides of the bowl, sprinkle over more flour a tablespoon at a time and mix it in; if there are dry crumbs in the bottom of the bowl and the dough won’t stick together, sprinkle over more water a tablespoon at a time and mix in.
  3. Sprinkle the worktop and your hands with a little flour, then scoop out the dough. Now start to knead it using both hands one to hold down one edge of the dough, and the other hand to stretch out the other end and then gather it all back into a ball again. Alternatively, a dough hook may be useful for if available.
  4. Turn the ball around and stretch the dough out again, then gather back into a ball and turn it around. Carry on kneading like this for 4 minutes set the timer.
  5. Cover the dough with an upside-down bowl (so it doesn’t get dry and hard) and leave it for 10 minutes. Uncover the dough and knead for at least another 4 minutes. This time, the dough will feel much smoother and more stretchy.
  6. Put the ball of dough back into the bowl and cover the top with clingfilm so the dough keeps warm and moist while the yeast produces lots of tiny bubbles of air that will make the dough expand to double its original size (this is called "proving"). Leave it for about an hour during this process.
  7. Sprinkle the worktop and your hands with flour again, and scoop out the ball of dough. As you touch it, it will start to collapse this is not a problem as you want to have millions of very small gas bubbles instead of a few bigger ones (this is called "knocking back").
  8. Divide the dough into 12 equal portions. You can do this by rolling it into a sausage, then cutting across into 12 equal slices with a tables knife. Or you can weigh the ball of dough, then divide it by 12 (this would be easy if using digital scales).
  9. Roll each piece into a neat ball in your hands (you could also make sausage shapes). Put them on the lined baking sheet, spacing them about 3cm apart.
  10. Cover the sheet loosely with clingfilm, then leave for about 45 minutes they will expand again to double the size. Towards the end of this time, preheat the oven to 220 degrees Celsius / 425 degrees Fahrenheit / gas mark 7.
  11. Uncover the rolls and place in the heated oven. Bake for 15-20 minutes until golden brown. Wearing oven gloves, remove the sheet from the oven and set it on a heatproof surface. Transfer the rolls to a wire rack and leave to cool. Store in a covered container in a cool spot. Best eaten the same day, or split in half and toasted the next day.

Sunday, 17 August 2014

Vegan Marshmallows

Here's a quick post, although it's on a Sunday - I've been away for a couple of weeks, so there's now more recipes to share.  While I was on holiday, I bought Home Sweet Home, a publication from The Hummingbird Bakery, to experiment with recipes and find new things to make. I found recipes for both vanilla and chocolate fudge, a sparkling array of different cupcakes, and yet another chocolate brownie recipe, this particular one having a toasted marshmallow topping. I also found a recipe for marshmallows. Unfortunately, this is not the recipe that I will share with you because as well as wanting to experiment with using a vegetarian alternative to gelatine and wanting to know how to make vegan marshmallows, it was recommended to me to avoid this recipe’s use of uncooked eggs. Therefore, the following recipe is from a relative’s collection of recipes, but using a vegetarian alternative instead of normal gelatine. Remember that the recipe below is just a guide and to follow packet instructions. In addition, I am yet to perfect making this – the first time I made this, it ended up having the consistency and taste of some kind of fudge. So even if I failed at making a vegan marshmallow, here’s a passable recipe for making vegan fudge.


1 lb caster sugar
2-3 6.5g sachets of vegetarian alternative to gelatine, i.e. powdered Vege-Gel
1 pint cold water
(for 1 ½ times recipe) – add ¾ teaspoon vanilla and 1 ¼ dessert spoons lemon juice


  1. Put ½ water into a bowl and sprinkle gelatine alternative.
  2. Put ½ water and sugar in saucepan and heat until sugar is dissolved.
  3. Add water/powder mixture and boil until the whole mixture reaches a sticky, honey-like consistency, in which droplets will form when dripped from a wooden spoon.
  4. Beat the mixture. Add lemon juice and vanilla and continue to beat.
  5. Leave to set in a baking tray for at least two hours.
  6. Cut marshmallows into pieces and roll in icing sugar to serve.

Friday, 1 August 2014

Polenta Chips

A couple of weeks ago, I was having a quick catch-up meal with one of my friends.  Following a visit to this restaurant last year with a party group, I chose Pesto in a Pub, an Italian restaurant down a country lane in Wilsden, Bradford.  As we were eating before 7pm and there was only two of us, we were still able to use the lunchtime menu, which was £7.95 for any three dishes listed.  As someone who can eat just about anything (within reason), I decided to do something different and go for three of the vegetarian dishes on the menu - tagliatelle pasta, mushrooms, and polenta chips.  While tagliatelle and mushrooms are things that I eat at home often (with mushrooms often in curries), I don't think I'd ever had polenta before.  It was delicious.  It had the crispy outside and soft inside texture of normal potato chips, but much healthier.  Better still, it would be suitable to make for vegans (or even just friends with lactose and gluten intolerances, polenta being naturally gluten free).  I found this recipe for polenta chips at, and I hope to use it quite a bit in the future.

Ingredients (to make 4 servings)
Olive oil, to grease
2 litres (8 cups) vegetable stock
1 x 500g pkt instant polenta (cornmeal)
Vegetable oil, to deep-fry
1 tablespoon finely chopped fresh rosemary
Sea salt flakes & freshly ground black pepper

  1. Lightly grease two 22 x 30cm baking pans with olive oil with a brush.
  2. Bring the stock to the boil in a large heavy-based saucepan over medium-high heat. Use a balloon whisk to stir the stock. Gradually add the polenta in a thin steady stream, whisking constantly until all the polenta is incorporated into the stock. Reduce heat to medium and cook, stirring constantly with a wooden spoon, for 2 minutes or until mixture thickens and polenta is soft. Remove from heat.
  3. Pour the polenta mixture evenly over the bases of the prepared pans and use the back of a spoon to smooth the surface. Cover with non-stick baking paper and set aside to cool. Place in the fridge for 4 hours or overnight to set.
  4. Turn polenta onto a clean work surface. Use a sharp knife to cut off the curved edges. Cut lengthways into 2cm strips. Cut each strip into 8cm-long pieces.
  5. Add enough oil to a large heavy-based saucepan to reach a depth of 6cm. Heat to 180°C over high heat (when oil is ready a cube of bread will turn golden brown in 15 seconds). Add one-sixth of the polenta chips and deep-fry for 5 minutes or until golden brown. Use a slotted spoon to transfer chips to a plate lined with paper towel. Repeat, in 5 more batches, with the remaining polenta chips, reheating oil between batches.
  6. Sprinkle polenta chips with rosemary and season with sea salt flakes and pepper, and serve immediately.