Gujerati Snacks

From Prashad's in Bradford, we had samosas, some kind of battered fried sandwich with a garlicky pureed veg filling, round dumplings filled with spiced mashed potato. Dhokla, patra, snacks. I made a lassi with fresh coriander, garlic, fresh green chilli and a pinch of salt. Fresh baby tomato, and a little raita sauce.

I also made a quick trashy hot chaat:

Fry:
1 tin new potatoes, drained and cut into small lumps
1 tin pinto beans, or chickpeas, drained
2 cloves garlic, chopped

Sprinkle with powdered hing and fenugreek.
After about 5 minutes add half a tin of chopped tomatoes, cook til thickened.
Stir well and add 2 handfuls Bombay Mix or your favourite Indian crispy snack.
Heat through, take off the heat and stir in 2 tablespoons natural yoghourt.
Put in serving dish and top with dollop of tamarind sauce.

Served with warm rotis.

With a selection of sweets to finish, I am absolutely podged.

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Savoury Cornbread

I said when I made this regular plain cornbread that it would be good with extra stuff in it, and I was right. I followed the recipe exactly the other night, except …

When I greased the baking dish, I scattered on the bottom:

  • 4 sundried tomatoes snipped into small strips
  • 2 oz chorizo / paprika salami, cut into slices and then in half again
  • A handful of chopped coriander leaves
  • 3 oz strong cheddar cheese, in little cubes
  • A handful of dried black pitted olives

Wow. That was amazing served warm with chilli, and has been wonderful cold for breakfast, snacks and lunches since. If I were to do it and again (and believe me, I will, it’s an excellent thing to take to a bbq), I would:

  • put less salt in the bread, with the olives and cheese you don’t need it
  • cut up the olives, they were a bit big
  • put the cheese on top? or stir the lumps into the mix rather than onto the bottom of the dish? it came out warm like an upside down pizza with minimal topping, which did make it easy to handle, but cold it could have done with a little bit more oomph
  • think about other things like bits of fresh chilli or onion or fresh pepper, it was a good side dish but if it were a feature it needs a bit more texture and hidden surprises
  • look at the sort of things you top polenta with, after all, it’s the same thing really, just made into a cake
  • cut down the sugar a little bit but not too much, it balanced the salty stuff nicely – it’s too much for the plain bread, though
  • think about a sweet version with dried apricots and other fruit that you could serve with cold thick cream and warm honey

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Celery Stuffing

I meant to make cornbread dressing to go with the Christmas goose, but I didn’t have time to make the cornbread. So I riffed it:

  • 4 slices bacon, cut into small strips
  • some sunflower oil
  • 2 oz butter
  • 1 massive rib green celery, very leafy, chopped
  • 1 big onion, finely chopped
  • 3 slices crumbled stollen (to replace the cornbread sweetness)
  • 6 slices sourdough bread, lightly toasted and cut into rough cubes
  • 1/2 tsp ground black pepper
  • 1.5 tsp dried sage
  • About 2/3 pint well-seasoned chicken stock (2 coffee mugs)

Fry the bacon in the oil until brown and crisp. Scoop the bacon out, add the butter to the oil and fry the onion and celery, with the leaves, until soft and the onion is browning at the edges. Take off the heat, add the bacon and the dry ingredients. Stir well, tip into a baking dish. Sprinkle with half the stock, and bake on the bottom of the oven. This had an hour at gas mark 6, under the goose and potatoes. If it starts to toast and dry out too much, add the second mug of stock about half way through.

Great cold, too. It was very green, if the celery wasn’t leafy, or was blanched, I’d be tempted to bung in a bunch of roughly chopped parsley.

Good cold.

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Cornbread Dressing

There was something about this that really reminded me of Stovetop Dressing, it was comforting and plain. John liked it and is hinting that it would be a good addition to the Christmas canon. This from someone who usually doesn’t bother with bread stuffing at all. The recipe below is what I actually did, although unless I’ve got a vegetarian on the premises again I’ll use real bacon and bacon fat next time, which the original recipe suggested.

4 slices quorn bacon, cut into shreds
4 oz butter, in two batches
2 ribs celery, finely chopped
1 big onion, finely chopped
2 cups crumbled cornbread
3 medium slices wholemeal bread, lightly toasted and cut into small squares (maybe about 1.5 cms?)
1/4 tsp ground black pepper
1 tsp dried sage
About 1/3 pint well-seasoned warm stock (veggie in this case, chicken would be more usual)

Fry the bacon in one lot of butter, tip it into a big bowl and fry the veggies in the next lot. Add to the bowl with all the dry ingredients, mix up well. Pile into a baking dish (I used a heavy crockery pie dish), pour on the stock to moisten and bake at Gas Mark 5 for half an hour (into the oven once the turkey’s come out would be fine).

As there’s no egg or other binding it doesn’t need cooking so much as warming through, the longer you cook it the more the bottom will get soft and the top crisp. If you’re enough of a veggie not to want the quorn bacon, it will need more salt and possibly some fake/liquid smoke of some kind. If you’re setting the oven high once the turkey’s done, for roasting potatoes, you could heat this in a heavy-bottom frying pan on the hob, or if you can fit it in, put it low down in the oven and keep an eye on it. You could, of course, actually stuff the turkey with it.

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Standard Cornbread

Mmm, says John, it's just like cake. Which of course, it is really. Now that I've done it I'll mess around with it, take out a lot of the sugar, for a start. Even for a sweet bread it doesn't need it. You could add dried fruit or veg (tomatoes, for instance), herbs, chillies, a cheese topping, chopped meat, to make it savoury. Recipe from 1976 edition.

  • 1 cup plain flour
  • 1/4 cup sugar
  • 4 tsps baking powder
  • 3/4 tsp salt
  • 1 cup polenta (yellow cornmeal)
  • 2 eggs
  • 1 cup milk
  • 1/4 cup marge

Preheat oven to Gas Mark 7. Grease a 9" square pan or dish.

Sift together the flour, sugar, baking powder and salt. Stir in the cornmeal, then beat in everything else with an electric whisk. Don't overbeat it, just until it's smooth. Pour into the dish and bake for 20 – 25 minutes.

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Ultra Spiced Christmas Bread

Oops. I misread teaspoons and tablespoons again, this might be a bit much. Then again, it might not, so I thought I'd better write it down. From the bread machine recipe book, with extras:

Basic White, Bake Raisin, Extra Large, 4 hours

  • 1.25 tsps yeast
  • 1 lb 5 oz strong white flour
  • 1.5  tbsps sugar
  • 1 oz butter
  • 2 tbsps milk powder
  • 1.5 tsps salt
  • 400 ml water
  • In the raisin dispenser – 5 oz mixed dried fruit – today we have cranberries, blueberries, and cherries – and 3 tbsps (should be 3 tsps cinnamon) mixed spice – 1 tbsp ground cardamom, 1.5 tbsps speculaas spice, 0.5 tbsps cinnamon.

It's in the machine now, we'll see what happens …

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23rd Dec

The eve of Christmas Eve – lunch, salad with clementine slices, shallots, lime-dressed beetroot, and prawns. With sesame crispbreads.

Dinner, braising steak cooked a long slow time in the oven with red wine, thyme, allspice, garlic, shallots, leek, celery, carrot and parsnip. With stir-fried broccoli in garlic sauce and granary bread fresh out of the machine.

Pudding – bought-in coconut and lime tart, with fresh blueberries and cream.

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