Really Awesome Garlic Pizza Bread

I’m not one for blowing my own trumpet, but this really awesome garlic pizza bread is actually quite awesome. It’s also pretty quick and easy to make compared to most other bready things. It’s great served up with some cold meats and salads, as a starter or snack, but we like it best with spaghetti and meatballs (these ones or these ones) or lasagne, as you can use them to mop up the sauce and things your fork can’t quite manage.

The dough is easiest made if you have a stand mixer, but you can make it by hand too, you just need to dedicate some time to kneading the dough.

If you don’t like garlic (really though?!) It’s delicious with just the herbs and butter, but you could get creative with paprika butter, pesto or sun blushed tomatoes. It’s your pizza bread. If you don’t eat it all in the first sitting, it can be reheated in the oven or in the toaster in slices.

This recipe will make two large relatively deep pan pizza breads, or possibly three, thinner smaller ones if you prefer it thinner and crisper. I make it with one pizza stone and one large round tray, but use whatever you’ve got. Small ones would work really well in sandwich tins, or you could make them rectangular in baking trays. Remember, we’re all about making things as easy as possible and working around what you’ve got. You do you. (Ooh, it’s just occurred to me that these would be awesome with melted cheese on top too…)

Really Awesome Garlic Pizza Bread

Really Awesome Garlic Pizza Bread

Ingredients

  • 500g strong white bred flour
  • 1 sachet (7g) fast acting yeast
  • 10g salt
  • 1 tbsp golden caster sugar
  • 2 tbsp olive oil
  • 325ml lukewarm water
  • Butter (as much as you'd like)
  • 2 cloves garlic
  • Dried parsley
  • Dried oregano

Instructions

  1. Weigh out the flour into a large bowl then add the yeast and salt at opposite sides of the bowl. Add the sugar.
  2. Add the olive oil and water and mix together.
  3. The mixing can be done in a stand mixer from this point on with the dough hook set up, or by spoon or hand if you're hand kneading. If you're using the mixer, leave on a low to medium speed mixing for at least 20 minutes. Or turn out onto a floured surface and hand knead for 25 to 30 minutes.
  4. Once kneaded, leave to rise in the bowl, covered with cling film, for at least half an hour but it doesn't need to have quite as much time as a loaf or something.
  5. Preheat the oven to 200c fan. Once risen, turn out onto a floured worktop and turnover a few times until not too sticky, Split into two (or however many pieces you're using).
  6. Lightly oil the trays/pizza stones and slap the dough onto them, spreading it out to the edges. If it's too stiff, just given it 10 minutes or so to rise a bit then it can be respread.
  7. As long as the butter is relatively soft, it can be mixed easily with the grated garlic. Spread over the dough being careful not to rip it, then sprinkle with the dried herbs.
  8. Stick in the oven for 15-20 minutes, or until slightly golden at the edges and looking like it's cooked through.
  9. Slice up and enjoy!
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Banana Bread

This banana bread will not only take care of those extra bananas you have in the fruit bowl that are too far brown to eat, but it will also give you a delicious, moist cake that can be eaten alone or with a cup of tea. It doesn’t even need any butter or icing.

With bananas, there are three types of people in the world: those who like them a bit too ripe, those who’ll only eat them when they’re still a little green on the outside but firm and slightly sour on the inside, and those who don’t like bananas at all. Whichever type you are (I’m in the first camp), most people like banana bread, so it’s a great bake to have in the tin in case someone pops round for a cup of tea. It’s best eaten fresh on the first day, but will keep well for a few days before it starts to go stale.

This banana loaf is has a slightly caramel top, which is my favourite part, and it can be slightly gooey or firm in the middle, depending how long you cook it. It does contain eggs, so I’d errr on the side of more well baked if you’re feeding the elderly, young or pregnant. Baking anything in a loaf tin can be a bit tricky if you’re not used to your oven, so you’re at less risk of underbaking it if you leave it in the oven closer to the full hour and a quarter than the minimum hour suggested in the recipe.

Anything with bananas in it can give a false reading if you use the old skewer test* to check if it’s done, as the mashed banana can look very like raw cake batter and vice versa. I’ve always been more of a fan of the ‘prod test’ where you gently poke the cake with your fingertip at its deepest point – if it’s slightly firm and springy it should be ready, and if you leave it in the tin until completely cool the residual heat will keep it cooking a little.

Banana Bread

Banana Bread

Ingredients

  • 100g salted butter
  • 150g caster sugar
  • 2 eggs
  • 1/2 tsp vanila bean paste
  • Pinch salt
  • 3 bananas (or 4 if they're particularly small)
  • 1 tsp baking powder
  • 250g self-raising flour

Instructions

  1. Grab a loaf tin, butter it and line with greaseproof paper. If you don't have a loaf tin, you can use a couple of cake tins, but it should only need 20 minutes or so in the oven if you use shallower tins. Preheat the oven to 160c fan or 170c conventional.
  2. Weigh out the butter, which should ideally be at room temperature so it will combine better with the other ingredients. To the same bowl, add the caster sugar.
  3. Using an electric hand mixer if you have one or a good wooden spoon if you don't, mix the butter and sugar together for at least a few minutes, until they are well combined, soft and fluffy.
  4. Add the eggs and whisk up again, but keep going until the mixture is very airy, pale and mousse. It's the best way of getting lots of air in to give you a nice light cake.
  5. Mash up the bananas and add them to the mixture along with the vanilla and salt.
  6. Mix well.
  7. Finally, add the flour and mis this in, but this time you only want to mix for as long as it takes for the ingredients to be just combined.
  8. If you over mix, the cake will come out heavy and stodgy as you'll start to develop the gluten in the flour.
  9. Using a silicone spatula or wooden spoon, scoop the mixture into the prepared tin or tins. Make sure there is a relatively even amount of cake batter across the tin, but don't worry about levelling it - the oven will sort that out.
  10. Now slide the filled tin into the middle of the oven and leave to bake for at least an hour, to an hour and a quarter until rise, brown and cooked through.
  11. When it's cool, slice up and enjoy!
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If you like baking with bananas, why not try our Chocolate Banana Muffins, Chocolate Chip Banana Bread or Flourless Banana Pancakes?

*The skewer test is where you use a skewer or cake tester (or very thin, sharp knife) to test if a cake is baked all the way through by pushing said skewer into the deepest part of the cake, all the way to the bottom of the tin, then pulling it out again. If there’s batter on the skewer when you pull it out, it needs more time in the oven,but if it comes out clean it should be ok. With banana bread, the banana pulp can look like cake batter on the skewer even when the cake is ready.

 

Tandoori Chicken

This tandoori chicken recipe a really simple but yummy chicken dish for when you fancy a curry but can’t really be bothered to make a paste and a sauce and so on and so forth. It’s what you might call a ‘dry curry’ in that it doesn’t have lashings of sauce to go with it, but it’s lighter as a result. Because it is on the drier side, I like to serve it up with some flavourful rice, such as our nutty lemon rice, as well as flatbreads or yoghurt-free wholemeal flatbreads if you’re feeling a bit healthier and maybe even a yoghurt dip just to make it into a tasty meal. It would also be great as part of a barbecue. It’s delicious cold.

If you don’t have very much time to prepare it, you don’t need to bother with the spice toasting and grinding. I think it adds a fresher flavour,  but it’s still tasty if you use pre-ground spices. You can make up the marinade ahead of time and leave the chicken marinating for a day or so if needed. Make your cooking fit around you.

Tandoori isn’t a flavour but rather a style of cooking, and unless you have a tandoor (a type of pot-like, exceedingly hot oven used in Indian cookery) you’re going to have to substitute another source of very hot, intense heat, either by turning your oven as high as it gets, or using a barbecue. There are a number of recipes which suggest using a very hot grill, but I’m not convinced that’s a safe way of cooking chicken with the bone in, so I just used the oven.

If you want this to look more like ‘traditional’ tandoori chicken, with a deep red colour, you’ll need to add some food colouring (or use a ready made tandoori paste) but didn’t do that as it wouldn’t add anything to the flavour and I’d rather eat food that’s the colour it’s supposed to be (unless we’re talking novelty cakes that is!).

Tandoori Chicken

Tandoori Chicken

Ingredients

  • 3-4 garlic gloves
  • Thumb sized piece of fresh ginger
  • 10 cardamom pods (or ground)
  • 2 tsp cumin seeds (or ground)
  • 2 tsp coriander seeds (or ground)
  • 1 tsp ground turmeric
  • 1/2 tsp ground cinnamon
  • 1/2 tsp cloves (or ground)
  • Grating of nutmeg (or 1/4 tsp ground)
  • 2 tsp hot chilli powder
  • 1/4 tsp cayenne pepper
  • Good pinch salt
  • 5 tbsp (or around 150g) or low fat (or full fat) yoghurt
  • 2 tsp lemon juice
  • Chicken thighs, thighs and drumsticks or bone in chicken pieces with the skin on

Instructions

  1. Toast the whole spices, if you're using them, in a small frying pan over a low heat, tossing frequently. Keep an eye on them so they don't burn.
  2. Bash and then remove the seeds from the cardamom pods. Now tip the toasted spices into a pestle and mortar.
  3. Grind them up as finely as you can manage and tip them into a nice big bowl.
  4. Add the other spices and the salt.
  5. Grate the ginger and garlic and add to the bowl and then mix together. Now add the yoghurt and lemon juice and mix everything together.
  6. Add the chicken to the marinade and cover. Allow to marinate for at least an hour or overnight in the fridge if you would prefer.
  7. Take out of the fridge at least half an hour before you cook it - longer if it's winter and it's cold in your kitchen. Ideally it should be at room temperature when it goes in the oven.
  8. Turn the oven up to its highest temperature with the fan on (for us that's 240c). Just be very careful when going in and out of the oven. Once it's nice and hot, put the chicken on a good nonstick tray and slide it into the oven on the top shelf.
  9. It should take around 25 to 30 minutes to cook through with crispy skin. Don't panic if it's blackened when it comes out of the oven - it just adds to the authenticity.
  10. Enjoy with rice and bread and maybe a nice yoghurt dip and some mango chutney, as well as some fresh lemon slices on the side.
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Nutty Lemon Rice

This nutty lemon rice recipe is so simple, yet delicious. Rice (especially basmati rice) is notoriously difficult to cook well. Sometimes it’s claggy, sometimes it’s underdone, and it never seems to take the same amount of time to cook, which can be frustrating when you have lots of other elements to get ready for the same time. Sticky, overdone rice is not pleasant, and it takes no time at all to get from perfect rice to ruined rice.

This method allows you to err on the side of underdone, and prepare ahead. by the time it comes to serving up, it only takes a couple of minutes to finish off.

One of the key ingredients is asafoetida  – a savoury, pale yellow spice which you don’t come across very often. It has quite an aromatic flavour, and a very strong and quite strange smell, but bear with it and use a light hand until you’re used to it. Of course, you can use whatever spices you like.

The rice measurement I’ve given is quite approximate, as my best rice cooking trip is to use a little ramekin to measure the rice out as it means you can get the ratio of two parts water to one part rice spot on.

This is especially good served with kebabs or a dry curry, like our chicken satay, but would work great with something saucier too like our beef rendang. Play with the spices to make it taste right with what you’re serving up, and have fun. It’s always going to be better than plain rice, right? Oh, remember to warn people about the cardamom pods unless you want to pick them out before you plate up.

Nutty Lemon Rice

Nutty Lemon Rice

Ingredients

  • 50g basmati rice per person
  • Big pinch salt
  • One chicken stock cube
  • 4 cardamom pods
  • 1 tbsp oil
  • One onion
  • 2 cloves garlic
  • 3cm piece of fresh ginger
  • 1/2 teaspoon asafoetida
  • 1 tsp hot curry powder
  • A handful of cashew nuts and peanuts
  • A few slices of lemon

Instructions

  1. Slice the onion and grate the garlic and ginger.
  2. Heat the oil gently in a large pan or wok and add in the onion, garlic and ginger when it's come up to temperature.
  3. Fry until softened. Add the spices and through.
  4. Add the nuts and fry through again, then switch off until you're ready for a final heat through before serving.
  5. Either before or after the above process, get the rice going. Tip one ramekin of basmati rice per person into a saucepan, add a good pinch of salt then add two ramekins of boiled water for every ramekin of rice.
  6. Chuck in the cardamon pods and stock cube (it'll dissolve itself so don't worry about stirring), as well as a couple of slices of fresh lemon if you want it especially lemony. Set the hob to a medium simmer. Leave to cook for ten minutes or so and test with a fork. You don't need to rinse it beforehand, and you should definitely not stir it when it's on the go. You want to be almost cooked through but still with bit of bite as it'll keep cooking even once you switch off the hob and it's going to get recooked in the pan.
  7. As soon as it's ready, pour it into a sieve and rinse it with plenty of fresh cold water until cool. Stick it back in the saucepan and leave it until you're ready to reheat it.
  8. When the rest of your meal is about two or three minutes away, switch on the heat under the pan and pour the rice into the pan, mixing it with all the other ingredients until piping hot all the way through.
  9. Serve with some more fresh lemon slices on the side and enjoy!
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