Bread and Better

Bread and Better

Tuesday, 21 February 2017

Meals To Have With Bread: Chilli, Veggie and Meat Versions

I always love having a loaf with my dinner. Whether it be mopping up some runny pasta sauce with a slice of warm garlic bread, or dunking a cheese sandwich into a bowl of tomato soup, bread always plays a big part in my dining experience. In an increasingly carb/gluten phobic world, I think that its important to remember that bread was a big part of our ancestors' diet, being the main component of a meal for many people, and it is only in recent years that it seems to have got such a bad name for itself.  Delicious bread should be celebrated by taking centre stage on our dining room tables. In this series I thought I would share some of my go-to week night recipes, and a suggestion of loaves that I would pair with them.
This chilli can be made meat free by replacing the beef mince with Quorn (I don't eat meat and this is the version that I would have). Now I know that a lot of veggies would prefer that a little more imagination went into preparing their meal, rather that just using a meat replacement, but the thought of adding lentils/other pulses to this bean heavy dish just seemed a bit too much. This recipe is about quick and convenient food, and Quorn works as a great sponge, soaking up all the delicious flavours around it.

Serves 2-3.

1 400g tin kidney beans
1 400g tin chopped tomatoes
1 red onion, finely chopped
1 tablespoon smoked paprika
1 teaspoon hot chilli powder
1 teaspoon mustard
Pinch of salt
1 tablespoon olive oil
200g beef mince/150g Quorn mince

Place the oil into a large saucepan on a medium heat.
Wait a minute or so, for it to heat up, and then add in the chopped onion.
Cook the onion for a couple of minutes, stirring occasionally, until it starts to soften.
Add the chilli powder, mustard and smoked paprika and continue to cook the mixture for a couple of minutes, stirring every so often.
When the onions have softened and turned slightly opaque, turn the heat up to high and then add in the beef/Quorn mince.
Cook the mince (stirring regularly) until it has evenly browned.
When the mince has browned, turn the heat down and add in the tin of chopped tomatoes. Once the tin is empty, fill it up with cold water, and then pour this into the pan too. Add the salt and give everything a good stir.
Drain the beans into a colander, give them a good rinse with some cold water, and then add them to the pan, giving everything a good stir.
Cook the mixture for a couple of minutes, or until it starts to bubble.
When the mixture starts to bubble, turn it down to a low heat, and then cover the pan with a lid.
Leave the mixture simmering for 30 minutes, stirring occasionally, to make sure nothing has stuck to the bottom of the pan.

Breads that would go really well with this dish:

Really easy garlic flatbreads, click here for the recipe.

Sweet Potato Focaccia, click here for the recipe.

Spelt, onion and herb focaccia, click here for the recipe. 

Thursday, 16 February 2017

Chocolate Brownie Pots

Makes 6 pots.

For the pots:
30g plain flour
40g coco powder
1 teaspoon baking powder
3 large eggs
200g sugar
150g unsalted butter
100g dark chocolate

Pre-heat the oven to 170 degrees c.
Melt the butter and dark chocolate together, either in the microwave or over a pan of simmering water. When melted, leave to one side to cool slightly.
In a large bowl mix together the flour, baking powder, coco powder, sugar and eggs until the mixture turns into a thick and glossy batter.
Stir the slightly cooled chocolate and butter into the batter, mixing well until everything is combined.
Once combined, spoon the brownie batter into 6 ramekins (filling them about 3/4 of the way up).
Place the ramekins onto a baking tray and then bake them in the oven, for about 15 minutes, or until the edges have started to firm up, but the middle is still a little wobbly.
Leave the brownie pots to cool for a couple of minutes before serving (preferably with a big dollop of ice cream).
These delicious puddings will keep well for a few days, wrapped up in tin foil and stored in the fridge (simply reheat in the oven for 5 minutes before serving).

Friday, 10 February 2017

Oat, Granola and Date Cookies

Perfect for a bit of weekend baking, these cookies are soft, crunchy and deliciously melt in the mouth. Feel free to add 50g of chocolate chips to the dough, if you need something a little naughtier.

Makes 12 cookies.

For the cookies:
140g unsalted butter, softened
250g caster sugar
1 large egg
1 teaspoon vanilla paste
200g plain flour
1 teaspoon baking powder
50g oats
50g chopped dates
50g granola

Place the butter and sugar into the bowl of a freestanding mixer and beat using the paddle attachment,  for a couple of minutes, or until the mixture has turned light and fluffy (you could use a hand-held electric whisk instead).
Add the egg and vanilla and beat again, until everything is well combined.
Add the flour, baking powder, oats, granola and dates and beat until the mixture comes together (you might need to add a little milk if the cookie dough feels a bit stiff).
Tip the cookie dough out onto a large sheet of clingfilm, and then wrap it up so that it looks like a large fat sausage.
Place the cookie dough sausage in to the freezer for about 20 minutes, or until it has firmed up.
Pre-heat the oven to 160 degrees c.
When the dough has firmed up, cut it into 12 discs and place the discs onto a couple of lined baking trays (making sure you leave a decent gap between each one, as they will spread a little).
Bake the cookies for around 20 minutes, or until they have firmed up around the edges, but are still soft in the middle.
Leave the cookies to cool completely on the baking trays, before digging in.

Thursday, 2 February 2017

Really Easy Garlic Flatbreads

These flat breads are absolutely perfect for novice bread bakers because they require no kneading, rising and very little shaping. I suggest that you make double the quality of garlic butter, so that you have a stash in the freezer for when you get the urge to bake again.

Makes 4 small flatbreads.

For the flatbreads:
300g self raising flour
2 tablespoons olive oil, plus a little more for greasing
1 teaspoon salt
170ml water

For the garlic butter:
75g unsalted butter, softened
2 garlic cloves, crushed
2 teaspoons dried basil
1 teaspoon dried chilli flakes
1 teaspoon dried thyme

Make the garlic butter by mixing together the softened butter, garlic, thyme, basil and chilli until everything is well combined.
Spoon the butter onto a large sheet of clingfilm and roll it up into a fat sausage shape.
Place the sausage into the freezer for around 20 minutes, or until it has firmed up.
Pre-heat the oven to 180 degrees c.
Place the flour, oil, salt and water into a large bowl and combine until the mixture forms a dough (you may need to add a little more water if your mixture feels a bit dry).
Place the dough onto a lightly oiled surface and knead for around 30 seconds, or until it feels a little softer.
Split the dough into 4 pieces and, using a rolling pin, roll each piece into a circle (around 15cm in diameter).
Place the circles onto a couple of lined baking trays.
Cut up the hardened butter into thin slices, and place a few slices onto each flatbread.
Bake the breads for around 15 minutes, or until the butter has melted and the dough has turned a light golden colour.
Serve the garlic flatbreads straight away, whilst they are still warm from the oven.