It’s a tough balance at the moment between writing posts that are relatively timeless and acknowledging that the reason we’re cooking and baking so much at the moment is because of a pandemic that’s forcing people all over the world to stay home. One of the things we’ve really been missing is eating out, so we’ve been trying to bring some of our favourite dishes into the home, resorting one weekend to actually having an NYC themed weekend complete with homemade pizza, bagels and a DIY dive bar in the living room.
One of the dishes that’s been missed, but relatively simply to replicate at home, was the jalapeño cornbread from Caravan in London. It’s a versatile cornbread, perfect as a side, a snack or as we served it, for brunch; fried, covered in chipotle butter, spring onions and fried egg.
A good cornbread recipe shouldn’t be difficult. It’s a simple mixture of polenta/corn flour (not cornflour, that’s a whole different thing), sweetcorn and jalapeño peppers. The main recipe simply calls for spring onions (scallions) mixed through, but if you replace some of that with chopped jalapeño peppers it gives an excellent spicy kick.
We serve this with a simple chipotle butter, just like the one they do at Caravan. You can find the recipe for both in their cookbook, but we only had chipotle paste to hand rather than chipotle chillis themselves, and it worked just as well with that.
Lockdown is still going. We’ve stocked up on dried goods but we’re avoiding going to supermarkets, opting mainly for a veg box delivery and buying dried goods like flour, nuts and seeds from specialised online stores or smaller local independent shops. We’ve been finding places like this to be well stocked and quieter. As such, access to normal cereal has been minimal, but access to the components to make granola has been significantly easier. So we finally felt it was time to try and make a homemade granola recipe.
I’ll keep this pretty simple. The key ingredients in this recipe are as follows, and you can mix and match some of the other bits.
Oil – we used butter
Syrup – we used a split of 50/50 split of honey and golden syrup, but different ratios and different syrups will work
Nuts – we used a mixture of different nuts but you can mix and match. Opt for a cheaper nut for the bulk like a walnut unless you’re feeling particularly flush. We also used some seeds.
The key is the oil and sugars as they’ll get the granola nice and crunchy and help it cling together. The types of nuts you use are less essential and more come down to flavour combinations, what you can get hold of and what you can afford to use. For clarity, we used almonds walnuts, pistachios, flaked almonds and pumpkin seeds. The main nuts being almonds and walnuts.
This recipe will make about 1kg of granola, you can multiply it to make more.
Simple Nut Granola Recipe
A simple granola with mixed nuts and desiccated coconut.
195gsyrup(we used a mixture of honey and golden syrup)
100gmixed seeds & flaked almonds(we used flaked almonds and pumpkin seeds)
150gMixed nuts(we used walnuts, almonds and pistachios)
Preheat your oven to 150°C (130°C fan assisted) and line a couple of large baking trays with greaseproof paper.
In a medium sized pan, melt the butter with the sugar, syrup and zest. You want the butter to have melted and combined but you don’t want the mixture to boil.
Mix together all of the dry ingredients in a large mixing bowl.
Pour the syrup and butter mixture over the dry ingredients, mixing well until all of the dry ingredients are coated.
Transfer the mixture to the prepared baking trays, making sure they’re well spread out and in one single layer on each tray.
Place the trays in the oven, baking for 10 minutes undisturbed.
Remove from the oven and turn the mixture in each tray. Return to the oven and keep checking every 5 minutes.
The granola will be done when the mixture has turned a golden brown colour. Be very careful not to overcook. It will likely still seem a bit soggy when you take it out, but it will crisp up as it cools.
Allow to cool completely in the trays and transfer to an air-tight container once cooled.
Like every single other white man in his 30s the pandemic has got me making sourdough. It’s about time really. I’ve had a couple of day classes on it in the past but always fell at the first hurdle when I got home; remembering to keep the starter alive. But here I am 3 loaves deep and with a pretty healthy starter stored away. I’m not here to talk you through bread baking though, I’m actually going to suggest something to do with leftover starter; spelt sourdough pancakes.
So many recipes for alternative uses for sourdough starter seem to involve hundreds of grams of the stuff. If you’re not keeping a huge starter then that can make it very awkward. A large number of sourdough pancake recipes also call for numerous other ingredients, making them both more expensive, complex and time consuming. The beauty of this recipe is that it’s simply 5 simple ingredients:
This spelt sourdough pancake recipe makes a pretty huge stack of light & fluffy pancakes. We’ve actually frozen a few to have in the future when we’re not so time rich. We topped ours with yoghurt, homemade rhubarb curds, nuts and some syrup, but these pancakes would work pretty well with whatever you wanted to top them with, even something savoury.
What do you use your leftover sourdough starter for?
Spelt Vegan Sourdough Pancakes
Deliciously light and fluffy pancakes made from discarded sourdough starter.
25gSourdough starter(I use my discarded starter that’s 100% hydration and ripe)
300mlOat milk(any vegan or dairy milk would work here)
2tbspGolden caster sugar
Combine the starter with the flour into a bit of a paste in a large mixing bowl.
Mix in the spelt flour, milk and golden caster sugar. Whisk until everything is properly incorporated.
Cover the mixing bowl with a damp tea towel and leave in a warm place for at least 4 hours. I usually leave mine overnight so I can make them for breakfast. See notes for additional suggestions. It should be slightly bubbly when it’s ready to use.
Heat a frying pan or skillet over a medium heat.
While the pan is heating up, mix the baking powder through the batter
Lightly oil the pan, making sure it coats the surface.
Add a small ladleful of batter to the hot pan, spreading it to about a 10cm circle.
This is quite a bubbly mixture, so the usual trick of watching for bubbles may not work, but keep an eye on the middle of the pancake and check the underside. Once it’s browned you should be able to flip it. In a hot pan I was getting around 1 minute per side.
Flip and cook the other side. Transfer to a pancake and keep warm while you make up the others.
Top with whatever you wish. Freeze any leftovers for another time.
I use a 100% hydration starter that’s completely ripe and bubbling.
I tend to bake this recipe by using starter discarded in the evening so that the batter can sit overnight and ferment. You could do it from the morning’s discard if you wanted to have them for lunch or dinner.
So I finally cracked and bought a waffle iron in January. I’ve wanted one since I was born (well, the last couple of years anyway) and there are a couple of fancy ones I’d had an eye on. As someone that can’t justify spending £100 on a waffle iron though I finally had to bite the bullet and get one down the bottom end of the range. I now don’t know why I waited so long. Yeah it only cost £27 and it doesn’t latch close but now I get waffles whenever the hell I want them, and I warn you, that means there’s going to be an inordinate amount of waffles pictures of instagram for the next few months (and years).
I’m 90% sure that we’ve reached what the guardian would call ‘Peak Avocado’. It happened before people started doing those ridiculous Avocado flowers, even before Queen Nigella did a ‘recipe’ for sticking them on toast. I’m unashamed in saying that I absolutely love the stuff. It takes a matter of minutes to get one mushed up with some chilli and pepper on toast to make a quick breakfast, or blended with pine nuts, basil and lemon to make a very quick avo-pesto for your weeknight dinner. They’re versatile, healthy (to an extent) and go with a lot of great fresh flavours. More importantly, they go with Mexican food, and I love Mexican food. These oven baked avocado ‘fries’ are great to munch on but go even better as a filling in a taco, alongside pretty much any other taco filling of your choice.