Slowing Down for the Summer

I am slowing down with the hot weather and the summer being here, or at least here for the next 5 minutes. I got very excited with the possibility to write on the BBCgoodfood blog but though I was shortlisted among thousand of entries, I did not make it. So I need to recharge, I will be away for a month. When I come back you can look forward to new categories: I have signed in to be a member of the "Daring bakers" and since the office has been redecorated and the computer back where it should be, I have access to the sound system so postswith music will be back on the menu. I also decided to post the book reviews I write for Paper Palate and as it is I will leave you with one to savour.

Already, I hear you say. It will be no time before they leave home again to their respective universities and colleges, resuming their busy students' lives; the question is "WHAT WILL THEY EAT THEN?" here is a book which title is a bit of a mouthful but will ease parents' worries. "The Really Useful Ultimate Student Vegetarian Cook Book" by Helen Aitken.

2 categories of recipes easy and very easy, the blurbs around the recipes are comprehensive and informative, the recipes themselves are easy to follow though some of them are not particularly on the cheap side on a student's budget as we are talking cooking and not throwing lentils in a pot. They are all accurate and will provide a myriad of variations a meal time, the recipes are suitable for beginners, tried and tested so success is assured.
I put the book to the test, asked around me, quickly realising that very little cooking was going on among young adults or if cooking was taking place it was mostly the old favorite such as pasta, so with 40 pages of pasta recipes it will hit the target. On the other end, the most enthusiastic cooks often googled the ingredients available in the fridge or cupboard so will they use a cook book? the answer remains a mystery but if they did "The Really Useful Ultimate Student Vegetarian Cook Book" would be a good choice?
I put it to the taste, there are 6 chapiters: soups, pastas and noodles, rice, grains and pulses, casseroles, curries and bakes, stir fires, salads and vegetables, breakfast, snacks and standbys. I cooked Chickpeas Patties with Caramelised Onions, it will not reach my top 10 but I realised that I hardly ever cook my onions that way and that I should they were delicious.
½ tablespoon olive oil
1 egg, lightly beaten
15g of fresh coriander , roughly chopped
310g can chickpeas , drained and rinsed
35g besan flour
1 small red onion , finely chopped
1 garlic clove, crushed
½ tsp ground cumin
2 tbsp plain flour
oil, for shallow-frying
15g sunflower seeds
caramelised onion
20g butter
1red onion, thinly sliced
1½ teaspoons soft brown sugar
plain yogurt, to serve
Besan flour is also known as chickpea flour
Heat the oil in a frying pan, add the onion and cook over medium heat for 3 minutes, or until soft. Add the garlic and cumin and cook for 1 minute. Allow to cool slightly.
Blend the drained chickpeas, sunflower seeds, coriander, eff and onion mixture in a food processor until smooth. Fold in the besan lour and season. Divide the mixture into four portions and, using floured hands, form into patties. Heat 1 cm oil in a frying pan and cook the patties in two batches over medium heat for 2-3 minutes each side, or until firm. Drain on paper towels. Keep warm.
to make the caramelised onion, melt the butter in a small frying pan and cook the onion over medium heat for 10 minutes, stirring occasionally. Add the sugar and cook for 1 minute, or until caramelised. Spoon over the patties with a dollop of yogurt.
50 minutes
serves 2 .

Vanilla Currant Loaf

Yum Yummy, I love new bread recipes, this one has a very smooth texture which is the trademark of "quickbreads". Quickbreads differ from cakes which are made creaming butter/sugar/eggs or from breads made with yeast. Quickbreads are often associated with "Afternoon tea" a tradition started by the Duchess of Bedford in the mid 19th century. It is said that the Duchess could not wait from lunch till dinner, don't we know the feeling, so she requested to have a pot of tea with bread and small cakes. Very likely, finding it boring to eat and drink on her own, she started to invite her "aristo-mates" and started a trend.
In the quickbreads family card pack you will find scones, muffins, sodabreads, teacakes and other fruit or veg loaves such as pumpkin. So your pack of cards is virtually endless. Dead-easy to make, perfect for beginners, can't really go wrong, remember to sift the flour and make sure that the oven is preheated to 180C (350F/Gas 4) that is all. Ah! and mix the ingredients in the order the recipe tells you, quick breads allow neither anarchy nor cosmic order allowed.

Vanilla Currant Loaf

250g plain (9z/ 2cup) (all purpose) flour
1 tablespoon baking powder
¼ teaspoon salt
60g (2 ½ oz) cold unsalted butter, chopped
115g (4oz/ ½ cup) caster (superfine) sugar
75g (2 ½ oz/ ½ cup) currants
1 large egg
170ml (5 ½ fl oz/ 2/3 cup) milk
2 teaspoons natural vanilla extract
sifted icing (confectioners') sugar, for dusting, optional
butter or cream cheese, to serve

Preheat the oven to 180C (350F/Gas 4). Grease a 21 X 7 X 8 cm loaf (bar) tin and line the base and sides with baking paper.
Sift the flour, baking powder and salt into a large bowl. Using your fingertips, lightly rub in the butter until the mixture resembles coarse breadcrumbs.
Stir in the sugar and currants, then make a well in the centre.
In another bowl mix together the egg, milk and vanilla, then pour into the well in the flour mixture> Using a wooden spoon, stir until just combined.
Spoon into the prepared tin, smoothing the top. Bake for 45 minutes or until a cake tester inserted into the center of the loaf comes out clean. Remove from the oven and leave to cool in the tin for 10 minutes, before turning out onto a wire rack to cool.
Just before serving, dust with icing sugar if desired.
Slice and serve with butter or cream cheese.

Vanilla currant loaf is best eaten on the day it is made, but can be frozen in an airtight container for up to 8 weeks
recipe from Leanne Kitchen's "the Baker"


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