theordinarycook

The Ordinary Cook loves to cook. If I am not cooking or baking then the chances are I am thinking about cooking and baking. I love sharing recipes and ideas and my website is my space to do this.

Fruity Flapjacks

Fruity Flapjacks 2

Flapjacks are one of the first things I learned to cook.  We had a new microwave (back in the eighties when they cost the same as a small house!) and the recipe book that came with it had a recipe for flapjacks and my sister and I used to make them regularly.  If I remember right back then you had to finish them off in the oven, the microwave simply melted the butter, sugar and syrup. Ever since then I have tried various versions and I think this one is great, not too sweet but chewy all the same.   The addition of orange juice to soak the sultanas was inspired by Nicola’s Zesty Flapjacks in one of my favourite recipe books, The River Cottage Family Cookbook (you can tell it’s one of my favourites as I have only had it for three years and the spine is broken from over use).

250g oats
100g sugar
150g butter
2 tbsps golden syrup
Juice of 1 orange
50g sultanas or dried sour cherries
Method
Lightly grease a baking dish.  I use a rectangular dish that measures 22cm x 30cm.

Squeeze the orange juice into a small pan and add the sultanas/ cherries.  Heat gently over a low heat, as soon as it begins to simmer take off the heat and put to one side so that the sultanas/ cherries can soak up the orange juice.

In a large pan, melt the butter, sugar and syrup together over a gentle heat.  As soon as they are melted stir to combine and take off the heat.  Add the oats and the sultanas/cherries and orange juice and stir to combine well.

Tip the mixture into the baking dish and press down well with the back of a spoon.

Bake in the oven at 180° c (350°f, Gas Mark 4) for 20-25 mins until golden brown.  Mark into squares with a knife whilst the flapjack is still warm because if you don’t you won’t get your knife through later.

Chicken Bombe

chicken bombe

This recipe is one that my mum often makes.  I will be making it this weekend for my daughter’s fifth birthday party.  Her birthday parties offer us a chance to gather both adults and children and this year we are expecting the usual 60 odd people.  I keep promising myself that I will one year do a birthday tea for her and five friends, but any excuse for a party…
(The pic above is the one I cooked for the party, using twelve rashers of bacon, six sausages and six chicken breasts – 4 on the bottom and 2 on top.  I cooked it for 2¼ hours)
Mum’s Chicken Bombe
This is a really delicious combination. It makes a lovely sunday roast and any left over slices beautifully when cold for sandwiches in the week. It’s chicken, stuffed with sausage meat and sage and onion stuffing and then wrapped in bacon.
4 chicken breasts
4 sausages
6-8 rashers of middle bacon
Stuffing:
Breadcrumbs (2-3 thick slices)
1 onion
1 dessertspoon dried sage or about 8 fresh leaves
1 egg
salt and pepper

Kitchen string 4 long lengths
Method
Make the stuffing by placing all of the stuffing ingredients in a food processor and process until combined.
Lay the string horizontally on a board and lay the bacon rashers vertically on top of the string.  Place two chicken breasts on top of the bacon.  Squeeze the sausage meat out of the skins and spread evenly over the chicken and spread the stuffing evenly on top of the sausage meat.  Place the remaining two chicken breasts on top and then bring the bacon rashers up over the chicken trying to cover it all and secure by wrapping the string over and tying securely.

Place onto a roasting tray and sprinkle with olive oil.  Roast in a preheated oven at 180°c (350°f, Gas Mark 4) for 1½hour.  Check that the chicken is thoroughly cooked by piercing with a skewer and if the juices run clear then it’s cooked.

Leave to rest for 15 mins before slicing if serving hot and if serving cold then leave to cool and refrigerate until ready to slice.  You can make it a day ahead.

Curry Night

Curry Night

Despite endless experiments I have failed to find a recipe that beats a jar of Patak’s curry paste.  I do play around with the method though perhaps adding a chopped onion, a red pepper, a cubed and roasted aubergine, some par boiled potatoes or a few cubes of frozen spinach (not usually all in the same curry, unless there are lots of mouths to feed).  I make spiced coconut rice and chapatis to go with it.  The girls will tuck into the rice and chapati’s but have so far refused to entertain the idea of eating the curry – maybe one day soon.  Have a look at the recipes for cumin spiced chapatis and spiced coconut rice on these pages


Spiced Coconut Rice

Spiced Coconut Rice (serves 4)
300 ml Basmati rice (measured in a pint jug)
300 ml coconut milk
150 ml water
25g butter
1 tsp cumin seeds
1 piece cinnamon stick
4 cloves
6 cardamom pods
1 bay leaf
1/2 – 1 tsp salt
Method
Measure the rice in the measuring jug and rinse under running water several times until the water runs clear and then soak the rice in 500 mls water for 30 minutes.  Drain the rice into a sieve. Measure the coconut milk and water into the measuring jug.

Melt the butter into a medium sized pan, when it’s foaming add the spices and cook gently for a minute or so until they release their delicious smells. Add the rice and stir carefully until the rice is coated in the spicy butter.  Add the coconut milk and water mixture and the salt to taste. Stir once to make sure the rice is all covered.  Bring to the boil. Cover the pan tightly with foil. Turn the heat to low and cook the rice for 25 mins.  Remove from the heat and take off the foil and cover with a clean tea cloth and leave to stand for 5 mins before serving.

Tip: If you would prefer to make this without the coconut milk just omit and use 45o ml of water.  It is just as delicious.

Chapati

chapati

I add cumin seed to the chapati which gives a lovely hint of spice to these delicious flatbreads.
Chapati (makes 6)
125g wholemeal flour
80 ml water
1 tsp cumin seed

Melted butter or ghee for brushing the chapati when cooked
Method
Heat a pan over a medium heat and add the cumin seed dry-frying until it begins to release its smell. Lightly grind the seed with the back of a spoon.
Put flour and cumin seeds in a large bowl and slowly add water combining the mixture with your hands until a soft dough is formed.
Knead the dough for 5-7 mins until smooth.  Put the dough back in the bowl, cover with a damp cloth and leave for 30 mins. 
Heat a griddle or heavy pan until its very hot ( I use a tortilla pan which is perfect for the job).
Separate the dough into six balls and roll out each ball on a lightly floured surface into a thin round. Cook each chapati for 1 minute on the first side, turn and cook for 30 secs on the other side.  If the pan is hot enough they should puff up.
Brush each chapati with melted butter as soon as it is cooked and keep warm until you are ready to serve.

Pumpkin and Apple Soup

We planted some pumpkin seeds earlier this year which have turned into monsters and taken over our veg patch.  Not wanting to waste them I came up with this soup, which was delicious.  I have a feeling we will be eating a lot of it…

Pumpkin & Apple Soup

Pumpkins in our garden

1kg Pumpkin/squash
300g apple, peeled, cored and chopped
(I used eating apples as this is what I had available)
1 onion, peeled and chopped
2 cloves garlic, peeled and chopped
1 heaped tsp curry powder
1 tsp cumin seed
1 pint vegetable stock
Olive oil
Salt & pepper

Method
Preheat the oven to 200c (400f/ gas mark 6)Cut the pumpkin into slices, removing the seeds.  Place onto a baking tray, season and sprinkle with olive oil.  Roast for 20 mins until soft.  Leave until cool enough to handle and remove skin.  Chop into cubes.

In a large pan, sweat the onions in a small amount of olive oil over a medium heat for five mins. Add garlic and apples and cook for a further five mins on a low heat, making sure that they don’t start to brown. Add curry powder and cumin seeds and fry for 2 mins, stirring. Add the roasted pumpkin and stir well so that it all gets covered in the spices.  Add the vegetable stock and simmer gently for 20 mins.  Do not boil as this will ruin the flavour of the soup.

Take the pan off the heat and blend or sieve the soup.  Serve in warmed bowls with croutons or crispy bread and a few sage leaves that have been fried in olive oil until crisp.