Broad Bean and Pea Dip

Broad Bean and Pea Hummus

I’ve made this twice now for parties, and both times people have mistaken it for stupid guacamole – it’s not guacamole, it’s much nicer and fresher and won’t turn brown or be unexpectedly spicy. It also doesn’t require hideously expensive avocados which are never ripe when you need them to be, just lovely frozen veggies from Iceland or similar. Also very nice when warm, as a side dish! So versatile. Love it. Just make sure you label it.

This is for Olivia, who likes dips.

250g (or thereabouts) frozen broad beans

250g (or thereabouts) frozen peas

1/2 onion

2 cloves garlic

2 tbsp creme fraiche

Juice of half a lemon

Handful of mint leaves, shredded

1. Boil the broad beans until tender (5-10 minutes), then run until cold water until cool enough to handle. Pop them all out of their shells whilst the peas are boiling (3-5 minutes). Drain the peas, reserving a little of the water, and set aside.

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2. Dice the onions and fry in butter until soft, adding the finely chopped garlic for the last minute or two.

3. Blend the peas, shelled broad beans and onions with the creme fraiche, adding enough lemon juice, mint and seasoning to taste. If the mixture needs loosening up, add some of the reserved cooking water. Transfer to a serving bowl and cover until needed.

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Lemon & Poppyseed Bundt

Lemon & Poppyseed Bundt (20)

So, what to do with the leftover sack of poppy seeds from these bad boys?  I thought a lemon and poppyseed cake would be the perfect excuse to use my latest purchases from Lidl’s mystery aisle, a medium bundt tin and mini bundt tray. (If you don’t have a bundt tin, this should fill an ordinary loaf tin.) The warm cake is brushed with lemon syrup to make it extra moist, which means it only needs a drizzle of icing that won’t mask the mouldings. This one’s for Harriet, who doesn’t like butter.

Vaguely based on this

For the cake:

190g flour

2 tsp baking powder

1/2 tsp salt

1 cup/235ml  plain yoghurt

200g sugar

3 very large or 4 medium eggs (Add an extra spoon of flour if the latter)

Zest of 2 lemons

1/2 tsp vanilla

1/2 cup/120ml vegetable oil

1/3 cup/80ml poppy seeds

For the glaze:

Juice of 1 lemon

1 tbsp sugar

For the icing:

Juice of 1 lemon

2 tbsp sour cream

Icing sugar

1. Whisk together the yoghurt, sugar, eggs, lemon zest, vanilla and oil. Sift in the flour, salt and baking powder, and slowly whisk to combine. Gently mix in the poppy seeds. Pour into a greased and floured tin, and bake at 180C for anywhere between 30-50 minutes, depending on the size of your tin.

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2. Whilst the cake is baking, heat the lemon juice and sugar in a small saucepan until the sugar dissolves. Turn the cooked cake out onto a wire rack and brush with the syrup. Leave to cool completely.

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3. Mix the lemon juice and sour cream with enough icing sugar to make an opaque but still runny icing, and drizzle over the cake.

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Pumpkin Cupcakes with Maple Syrup Icing

Pumpkin Cupcakes (15)

I’d never encountered a tin of pumpkin before moving to London (country bumpkin in the big city etc.) but obviously it’s the sort of thing that Whole Foods stocks by the lorry load. I like it because a) it’s autumnal! and b) it’s orange! These turned out a lot nicer then expected – they’re very moist, the spices work really well with the pumpkin and the icing is delicious. Recipe from Smitten Kitchen, make them for Halloween if you need an excuse.

Makes 18-20

115g butter

220g dark brown sugar

65g caster sugar

220g flour

40g cornflour

2 tsp baking powder

1 tsp baking soda

1 tsp ground cinnamon

1 tsp ground ginger

1/2 tsp ground nutmeg

1/8 tsp ground cloves

1/2 tsp salt

1/4 tsp freshly ground black pepper

2 eggs

120ml buttermilk mixed with 1 tsp vanilla

3/4 can pumpkin

For the icing:

250g cream cheese

115g softened butter

260g icing sugar

60ml maple syrup

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1. Beat together the butter and sugars until fluffy. Add the eggs one by one.

2. In a separate bowl, sift together the flour, baking powder, baking soda and spices. Add this to the butter mixture in thirds, alternating with the buttermilk and vanilla. Beat in the pumpkin until smooth.

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3. Transfer the batter to cupcake liners till 3/4 full, then bake at 175C for 20-25 minutes. Leave to cool completely on a wire rack.

4. To make the icing, beat together the ingredients with an electric whisk until thick and fluffy. Chill for half an hour before using.



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Bake Along with Bake Off: Pretzels


It’s always embarrassing when the Waitrose man asks why you’re the third person looking for malt extract that day and you have to reply that it’s ‘for a Bake Off thing’. (You can get it in Holland and Barrett, who knew?) I thought I’d not come across it before but actually, of course I have – Kanga gave it to Tigger and Roo as their strengthening medicine. Anyhoo, hurrah, the last ever technical bake! And quite an enjoyable one at that, using a grand total of zero eggs. Not too tricky either (once you know how long to boil them for), although it seems that I misread Paul’s instructions and did mine upside down, with the tails sticking up in the air. Oh well, they look pretzel-y enough for me. George Bush would be quaking in his boots.

Makes 12

For the dough:

500g strong white bread flour

10g salt

7g yeast

40g butter, softened

280ml milk

1tbsp malt extract

Zest of 2 oranges

50g poppy seeds

3 tsp bicarbonate of soda

To finish:

20g rock salt

50g sesame seeds

Juice of 3 oranges, zest of 1

125g sugar

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Let’s take a moment to appreciate the beauty of this set.

1. Tip the flour into a large bowl and put the yeast on one side and the salt on the other. Add the butter on top. Dissolve the malt extract in the milk then gradually pour into the flour, mixing to form a dry dough.

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2. Knead on a clean work surface (you won’t need any extra flour) until soft and smooth, 10-20 minutes. Divide into two equal balls and add the poppy seeds and orange zest to one, kneading until the seeds are evenly dispersed. Place each ball of dough in a separate, oiled bowl, cover and leave to prove in a warm place for 45 minutes to 1 hour.

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3. Preheat the oven to 200C and put a large pan of water on to boil. Paul says 7 litres, but my largest took 4 litres and that seemed to work just fine.

4. Divde each ball of dough into six equal pieces, and roll each one into a 40-50cm long sausage with a slight bulge in the middle. You might need to revisit each one, as they do spring back slightly.

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5. Shape your pretzels either by flipping them around in the air or, if you’re not a show off, just cross the ends over each other twice before sealing them either side of the central bulge.

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6. Add the bicarbonate of soda to the boiling water. Using a slotted spoon, lower each pretzel in the water one at a time for 5 seconds, then remove to a large baking sheet. Whilst the plain pretzels are still wet, sprinkle with the rock salt and sesame seeds. Slash the bulge of each pretzel with a sharp knife before baking for 20-25 minutes until well browned.

7. Meanwhile, make the orange glaze. Finely shred the orange zest and heat in a small saucepan with the juice and 100g sugar. Boil for 1 minute, then remove the zest and coat with the remaining sugar. Boil the rest of the mixture over a high heat until thick and sticky.

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8. Place the pretzels on wire racks and top the sweet ones with the glaze and candied orange.

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Moussaka (14)

Eagle eyed readers (Nana?) may have noticed that I’ve not made a Charlotte Royale this week. Partly because there’s only room for one Charlotte in this house, but also because: over a KILO of fresh berries? fourteen eggs? for something that looks like a brain? Are you MAD, Mary?!

Have a mousakka instead, lovely comforting moussaka. We had this pretty much every day in Kefalonia (along with at least two saganaki) and five months later I felt ready to face it again. This is from the lovely Felicity Cloake, who tries all the other recipes out so you don’t have to.

Serves 4

3 medium aubergines
1 onion, diced
4 cloves garlic, finely chopped
1 1/2 tsp cinnamon
1 tsp oregano
500g minced lamb
2 tbsp tomato purée, mixed with 150ml water
150ml red wine
Small bunch parsley, roughly chopped

500ml milk
60g butter
60g flour
50g pecorino cheese, grated
2 eggs

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1.  Cut the aubergine lengthways into thick slices, about 3/4 centimetre. Brush with olive oil on both sides and season. Spread out onto a baking sheet and bake at 180C for 20-25 minutes until soft and golden.

2. Meanwhile, soften the onion in a large frying pan. Add the spices and garlic, and cook for another couple of minutes before adding the lamb. Cook over a high heat until the lamb is browned and any liquid has almost gone. Add the wine and tomato mixture, then simmer over a low heat for 30-40 minutes. Season and stir in the parsley.

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3. To make the bechamel sauce, gently heat the milk. In another saucepan, melt the butter then stir in the flour. Cook for a couple of minutes, then gradually whisk in the hot milk. When the sauce is quite thick, stir in the cheese to melt. Remove from the heat and allow to cool slightly before beating in the eggs, salt and pepper, and plenty of nutmeg.

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4. Layer the meat and aubergines in an oven dish, starting and finishing with the meat. Top with the bechamel and bake for around 45 minutes until the top is puffed up and golden brown. If you can, wait around half an hour before serving.

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