DIY Garlic Baguette

I know what you’re all thinking – “Ayesha, please just go and buy a readymade garlic baguette, it costs like 90p”, BUT LISTEN. LISTEN. This is dead easy and if you can whip up a fresh batch every time you fancied it, why on earth would you pay to have one that’s been sitting around in the freezer for who even knows how long???

Ingredients:

  • 60g butter, softened
  • 2 garlic cloves, crushed
  • 1 part-baked white baguette

Method:

  1. Put the butter in a bowl, add the garlic and mix well. Spoon the butter out onto a sheet of cling film and roll up to make a sausage-shaped log. Chill for 10 mins.
  2. Heat oven to 200C/180C fan/gas 6. Slice the baguette into about 12 slices but not all the way through, leaving the base intact to hold it together.
  3. Remove the cling film from the butter and thinly slice on a chopping board. Press each butter slice between the slices of bread.
  4. Wrap the baguette in foil, place on a tray and bake for 5–6 mins, then peel back the foil. Cook for a further 4–5 mins to crisp up.

Garlic bread is one of my favourite sides in life so it’s safe to say that this is a well rehearsed recipe that is pretty foolproof – even for an amateur like myself. Let me know if you make it with different variations, I’d love to try them too!

[This recipe was originally taken from BBC Good Food.]

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Grilled Chicken Platter

This was originally from my Ramadan series that I was supposed to update on here regularly and never did, but let’s not dwell on bygones, else my entire blog would be a series of apologies. Considering the sister-in-law and I were cooking for approx 9-10 people each day of Ramadan, it was incredibly difficult and frankly, exhausting, to be able to throw in some variety with the meals. But, we tried, and that’s all that matters in my books.

The platter actually came about by accident if I’m completely honest with you. I actually made my (favourite) Haleem the day before, but for some reason completely forgot about 3 fillets of chicken that I’d left in the fridge and of course, you’ll know that left in the fridge for too long, chicken definitely starts to give off an unflattering whiff – definitely not a nice thing when you’re fasting. So, my only way of salvaging these poor babies was to coat it in a super quick marinade made up of classic curry spices and slap it onto the George Foreman grill and hope for the best really!

Ingredients:

  • 3 chicken breasts
  • 1 tsp ground cumin
  • 1/2 tsp ground coriander
  • 1/2 tsp smoked paprika
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 1/4 tsp ground black pepper
  • 2 tbsp oil
  • 1 tbsp lemon juice
  • 1 tsp dried oregano

Method:

  1. Preheat grill.
  2. In a small bowl, mix all the ingredients until combined, rubbing over both sides of the chicken fillets.
  3. Place chicken on grill and grill each side for 4-6 minutes depending on thickness.
  4. Cut into strips and serve on a sharing platter (optional: with a handful of freshly chopped coriander and small wedges of lime).

Let me know if you get around to making this because I’d love to see everyone’s little twists to this super simple sharing platter!

Hasselback Potatoes

Potatoes, in all its shapes and forms, are one of my favourite vegetables ever. They’re so versatile and can be used as the perfect staple to almost every meal (except maybe a dessert dish, but who knows eh…). Of course, I am no stranger to trying to cook potatoes in a million and one ways, but I can definitely say that Hasselback Potatoes are my new favourite way! 

They were super simple to cook and honestly, I made them because my best friend loves potatoes almost more than I do (which I really didn’t think was possible!) and I needed the perfect accompaniment to my veggie lasagna. 

Ingredients: 

  • Potatoes (I used a mix of baby and new potatoes)
  • 2 tbsp extra virgin olive oil 
  • 30g butter
  • A tbsp dried oregano (optional)
  • A tbsp harissa spices (optional)
  • Salt, to taste 
  • Handful of coriander 

Method: 

  1. Preheat the oven to 180°C.
  2. Place a potato on a wooden spoon and slice, leaving a bit at each end – the edges of the spoon will ensure the potato doesn’t slice through completely. Repeat for all potatoes. 
  3. In a baking dish/tray, add the oil and butter and place in the oven for a few minutes to melt. 
  4. Remove from the oven, add the sliced potatoes and toss to coat well with oil-butter mixture. 
  5. Add the remaining ingredients, toss and coat well.
  6. Place in the oven for 45-55 minutes or until edges are crispy and the inner potato is soft. 

I’ve been dying to make these for so long but it’s looked so difficult that I’ve been terrified to make it – BUT I’M SO GLAD I’VE FINALLY MADE IT. It tastes amazing and was a lot faster to make than I anticipated, and I hope you’ll all enjoy it as much as I do! 

Shan’s Bombay Biryani

Though I’m not an incredible fan of the spices used in the Bombay Biryani, I do have to say that it tastes almost amazing enough to change my mind about it. It’s one of those super complex-looking but dead easy to make dishes and I am so glad I came across this Shan mix because it made my life like a gazillion times easier than trying to look for all the right spices and measuring them out. For my UK readers, you can find it in Tesco or any South Asian supermarket, and for those reading internationally, it’s available to purchase via Amazon!

Ingredients:

  • 1.1kg meat on bones
  • 750g basmati rice, washed and soaked
  • 3 onions, thinly sliced
  • 3-4 tomatoes, diced
  • 2 medium potatoes, peeled and quartered
  • 2 tbsp garlic paste
  • 2 tbsp ginger paste
  • 200g natural yoghurt
  • 1 cup cooking oil
  • Shan Special Bombay Biryani Mix, 1 packet mixed in 1/2 cup water

Method:

  1. Fry onions in hot oil until golden – keep 1/2 aside to garnish later. Add tomatoes and fry until oil separates.
  2. Add meat, garlic paste, ginger paste, yogurt, potatoes and Shan Special Bombay Biryani Mix. Stir fry for 10 minutes. Add water (for beef/lamb 4 cups or chicken 2 cups). Cover and cook on low heat until meat is tender. Then increase heat and stir fry until oil separates from gravy.
  3. Separately: In 15 cups/3 litres of boiling water, stir in 1 tablespoon of salt and soaked rice. Boil rice until ¾ cooked. Remove and drain thoroughly.
  4. Spread half rice in pot and pour meat curry. Top with remaining rice. Cover pot and cook on low heat until rice is fully cooked (5-10 minutes). Mix and garnish with fried onions before serving.

Shredded Chicken

So I did originally just want to put up a recipe for chicken samosas because that was what I was making in this picture, but the more I thought about it, the harder it became to describe how exactly to fold the pastry to make the triangle shape because honestly mates, it’s all a bit touch and go here, ya girl can just about make these samosas edible, let alone look pretty. What I’ll do instead is just give you guys my foolproof shredded chicken filling recipe that I always use and you can then figure the rest of it out using the pictures at the back of pastry packets like me.

Ingredients:

  • Chicken breasts (as much as you need for the number of samosas)*
  • 1 tbsp oil
  • 2 onions, thinly sliced
  • 3/4 tbsp salt
  • 1/2 tsp turmeric
  • 1/4 tsp curry powder

Method:

  1. Boil the chicken breasts in a saucepan of water and simmer until it is no longer pinkish in colour.
  2. Drain, allow to cool, and then shred using two forks – almost like picking the chicken apart using the forks.
  3. In a large saucepan, heat the oil and saute the onions. When soft, add the salt and spices, mixing well – add any vegetables at this stage if you wish.
  4. Add the shredded chicken, mix well, and leave to cook for a few more minutes. Garnish with coriander, and leave to cool for an hour or so before making your samosas.

The shredded chicken filling is probably one of the easiest samosa fillings I know and to be honest, the homelier the food, the better (most of the time anyway). Let me know if any of you get round to making any samosas and if you do, what helped you understand the folding instructions??

*I haven’t specified a number here because I cannot for the life of me remember how many I needed to make my 120 samosas at the time.

Chicken and Mushroom Pie

Who doesn’t love a good pie?? Especially when it’s absolutely adorable with cute hearts all over it and a hearty chicken and mushroom filling!

Ingredients:

  • 1 packet of shortcrust pastry
  • 2 chicken fillets, cut into chunks
  • 1 onion, chopped
  • 500g sliced mushrooms
  • 1 vegetable stock cube dissolved in 1 cup of water
  • 1/2 cup milk
  • 30g plain flour
  • 15g butter and a little oil (vegetable or olive)

Method:

  1. Saute onion and mushrooms in the butter and oil. When soft, add the chicken and let cook through.
  2. When chicken is cooked through, add flour.
  3. Add stock, stirring continuously then add the milk so that the sauce is rich and creamy and coats the chicken well. If the sauce is a little thick, add more liquid.
  4. Line the pie dish with the rolled out short crust pastry before putting in the filling.
  5. Add the filling, cover with pastry, and make a vent in the pie top. (Add any extra embellishments and decorations at this stage using leftover pastry) Brush with milk.
  6. Bake in oven at 200ºC for around 25mins or until golden.

As the pie was already quite heavy, we didn’t want to have a meal that was too moreish and so we went pretty easy on the sides by whipping up a quick Creamy Coriander Mash and my Staple Salad. We also had a small amount of gravy because ya know, who doesn’t love gravy?! Having been a very successful first attempt at a savoury pie, I think it’s pretty safe to say that it is only the beginning of so many more to come!

Bread and Butter Pudding

Who doesn’t love a bit of bread and butter?? Better yet, who doesn’t love these combined in a rich dessert??? Basically, the story behind bread and butter pudding is always the same in our house – too many loaves of bread with a short expiration date! It’s a quick and easy dessert that is loved by all with ingredients that can be easily substituted.

Ingredients:

  • 25g butter, and a little extra for greasing
  • 8 slices of bread, with the crusts cut off
  • 50g sultanas
  • 2 tsp cinnamon powder
  • 350ml milk
  • 50ml double cream
  • 2 eggs
  • 25g sugar
    • optional: grated nutmeg

Method:

  1. Grease a pie dish with butter.

  2. Spread each slice of bread on one side with butter, then cut into triangles.

  3. Arrange a layer of bread, buttered-side up, in the bottom of the dish, then add a layer of sultanas. Sprinkle with a little cinnamon, then repeat the layers of bread and sultanas, sprinkling with cinnamon, until you have used up all of the bread. Finish with a layer of bread, then set aside.

  4. Gently warm the milk and cream in a pan over a low heat to scalding point. Don’t let it boil.

  5. Crack the eggs into a bowl, add three quarters of the sugar and lightly whisk until pale.

  6. Add the warm milk and cream mixture and stir well, then strain the custard into a bowl.

  7. Pour the custard over the prepared bread layers (optional: and sprinkle with nutmeg) and the remaining sugar and leave to stand for 30 minutes.

  8. Preheat the oven to 180C/355F/Gas 4.

  9. Place the dish into the oven and bake for 30-40 minutes, or until the custard has set and the top is golden-brown.

I hope you all enjoy this recipe as much as I do, it’s one of those family favourites we never get bored of!

p.s. I’m so sorry for how long I’ve been away, life has been busy as usual and instead of prioritising time, I misused it! But, I’m back now, and hopefully with regular posts!

Date Night

We’re nearly at the end of Ramadan and while I have been trying to step outside my comfort zone in terms of cooking, the reality is that I’ve just been far too tired to do anything that requires any kind of effort. But, date night with the best friend is always the exception. On the menu for the night was: creamy coriander mash, potato wedges, chicken steak, salad, and creamy peppercorn sauce.

Creamy Coriander Mash

Ingredients:

  • 55g instant mashed potato
  • 250ml boiling water
  • Handful of coriander, roughly chopped
  • 1 tsp butter

Method:

  1. Combine all the ingredients until the mashed potato is of a creamy consistency – add a bit of milk or cream if you want a richer flavour.

Potato Wedges

Ingredients:

  • 3 potatoes, washed and cut into 8 wedges each
  • 1 tbsp oil
  • Salt
  • Pepper

Method:

  1. In a deep pan of boiling water, add salt and potato wedges and boil for five minutes.
  2. Preheat the oven to 180ºC.
  3. Drain in a colander and place on a baking tray – I add some greaseproof paper to the bottom of my tray to avoid any sticking!
  4. Coat with oil, salt, and pepper (and any other spices if you want flavoured wedges) and cook in the oven for 20-30 minutes or until golden and crispy.

Chicken Steak

Ingredients:

  • 2 chicken fillets, pounded lightly to flatten
  • 1 tbsp oil
  • 1 tbsp soy sauce
  • 1/4 tsp turmeric powder
  • 1/4 tsp tandoori masala
  • 1/2 tsp red chilli powder
  • 3 tbsp lemon juice

Method:

  1. Marinate the steaks and leave for a minimum of 2 hours.
  2. Heat a griddle pan on a high flame and when sizzling hot, place the steaks on the pan for 5-10 minutes on each side and serve hot.

Creamy Peppercorn Sauce

Ingredients: 

  • 75ml Worcestershire sauce
  • 3 tsp crushed peppercorns
  • 100ml single cream

Method:

  1. Heat the Worcestershire sauce over a medium to high heat and slowly add in the cream.
  2. Stir continuously and add the crushed peppercorns – leave for a few minutes to thicken before serving.

The recipe for my staple salad can be found here.

Wining and dining aside, I have realised the hard way that the time I spend with the loves of my life is far more important than anything else. No matter how many things I’m feeling or going through, they keep me grounded and remind me daily that family is not at all exclusive to blood relations. I hope that you all have people in your life who love you (and your cooking!) unconditionally.

Spiced Lamb Burgers

Okay so Ramadan is really putting a dampener on my cooking spirit, but I am definitely trying to power on with trying new things and/or reinventing the old. We don’t really eat outside foods during the month (idk why tbh, I’d love to not have to cook for at least one day of the week), so we try and make them ourselves to satisfy those junk cravings – earlier this week, it was lamb burgers!

Ingredients:

  • 1 small onion, quartered
  • 4cm/1½ in piece fresh ginger
  • 4 large garlic cloves
  • 20g/¾oz fresh coriander, stalks and leaves
  • 2-3 green chillies, chopped or ½-1 tsp red chilli powder
  • 450g/1lb lamb mince
  • ¾ tsp ground cumin
  • 1½ tsp garam masala
  • 1 tsp salt, or to taste
  • 1 large free-range egg
  • 2 slices thick-cut white bread, processed to crumbs in a food processor
  • 2 tbsp oil, for greasing

Method:

  1. For the burgers, using a hand blender, roughly chop the onion, ginger, garlic, coriander and green chillies by pulsing, or chop them all by hand. Place into a bowl with the lamb mince, add the cumin, garam masala, salt, egg and breadcrumbs and mix well.
  2. Shape into six burgers and chill in the fridge for 20 minutes, or until you are ready to cook them. Take them out of the fridge 30 minutes before you start cooking.
  3. On the George Foreman grill: oil and preheat the grill and cook the burgers well on both sides.
  4. While the burgers are cooking, heat the buns in the oven for the last 3-4 minutes of the cooking time.
  5. To serve, split the buns in two. Place a burger onto one half of each bun on a bed of lettuce and top with items of your choice – we went for cheese slices, tomato slices, sauces, and coleslaw.

Let me know how you get on with making them yourself!

Lentil Bolognese

I think this is one of those things I made during veganuary and just forgot to update my blog with the recipe for it. Either way, this was one of the nicest things to make because the recipe has so much scope for substitutions in terms of core ingredients and that’s always nice because let’s be honest, not everyone eats the exact same thing all the time.

Ingredients:

  • 1 Tbsp olive oil
  • 1 shallot, minced
  • 4 cloves garlic, minced
  • 2-3 carrots, finely shredded
  • Pinch sea salt, plus more to taste
  • 1/2 jar of tomato sauce
  • Pinch red pepper flake
  • 1 tsp dried basil
  • 1 tsp dried oregano
  • 1 Tbsp coconut sugar for sweetness, plus more to taste
  • 1/2 cup water
  • 3/4 cup red lentils, rinsed and drained

Method: 

  1. Heat a large rimmed skillet over medium heat. Once hot, add oil, shallot, and garlic. Sauté for 2-3 minutes, stirring frequently, until slightly softened and fragrant. Turn down heat if browning.
  2. Add carrots and a pinch of salt and stir. Cook for 3-4 minutes more, then add tomato sauce and stir to coat.
  3. Add red pepper flake, basil, oregano, coconut sugar, water, and lentils. Increase heat slightly and bring mixture to a simmer, then reduce heat to low/medium-low and continue cooking until lentils are tender – stirring occasionally – about 17-20 minutes. Add a bit more water if mixture gets too thick.
  4. Once lentils are cooked, taste and adjust seasonings as needed, adding more salt to taste, coconut sugar for sweetness, red pepper flake for heat, or herbs for flavour balance.
  5. Serve the bolognese over noodles of choice (I opted for plain old spaghetti).
  6. Sauce will keep in the refrigerator up to 3 days or in the freezer 1 month.

This is honestly a great alternative to the heavier meats we often use in bolognese and it means that we don’t have to keep making vegan meals an afterthought. As always, let me know how you get on with making this, I would love to see what kind of modifications you make to it and bring your own kinds of flavours to it!

Recipe adjusted from Minimalist Baker.