Chilli paneer

Chilli paneer
Ok, so this is clearly not a baking effort, but I made this chilli paneer for the first time last week and was rather chuffed with how it turned out, and a friend asked me to post the recipe, so here it is!

If you’re not familiar with paneer, it’s one of the few cheeses that originate in India and is similar to halloumi in firmness and texture, but with a milder taste. I believe chilli paneer is actually based on Chinese cooking, which is quite an intriguing fusion! It’s a hugely popular dish where the paneer is cubed and cooked with tomatoes, peppers, copious amounts of chilli and the not-so-secret ingredient of tomato ketchup.

I’m a big fan of my mum’s chilli paneer, but as she doesn’t do recipes, I had to make it up as I went along. I found a recipe online that I used a couple of ideas from, but the rest is based on my own instincts as a now-experienced maker of Gujarati curries. It turned out pretty much the same as my mum’s chilli paneer, which I’m very pleased about! Be warned, though – my recipe is very spicy!

There’s not a lot of sauce with this curry, so it’s best eaten with naan bread or chapatis (see my recipe for chapatis and chickpea curry, which you could also serve as part of an Indian feast) rather than rice. Paneer is now widely available in supermarkets (I get mine from Tesco) and also from Indian grocers/cash and carries, so you should hopefully be able to find it pretty easily – or you can make your own.

Enjoy!

Chilli paneer recipe

Vegetarian
Serves 2; easily doubled

  • 2 tbsp sunflower or vegetable oil
  • 200g paneer, cubed
  • 4 tbsp cornflour
  • 0.5 tsp cumin seeds
  • 0.5 tsp black mustard seeds
  • 1 onion, finely chopped
  • 2 thin green chillies, finely chopped (use less if you don’t want it very spicy – 1 chilli will still be quite hot)
  • 1 garlic clove, crushed or finely chopped
  • 1 tsp grated ginger
  • 1 tsp red chilli powder
  • 0.5 tsp turmeric
  • 1 pepper, chopped (I like to use a mixture of colours)
  • 2 large fresh tomatoes, chopped
  • 1 tbsp tomato ketchup
  • splash of soy sauce
  • 1 tsp garam masala
  • 0.5 tsp ground cumin
  • handful of fresh coriander, chopped
  • salt, to taste
  • naan or chapatis (recipe), to serve

Method:

  1. Toss the paneer in the cornflour and half a teaspoon of the red chilli powder.
  2. Heat 1 tbsp of the oil in a large frying pan. Cook the coated paneer over a medium heat until brown, stirring occasionally. This should take 5-10 minutes. Set the cooked paneer aside.
  3. In a large saucepan, heat the remaining 1 tbsp of oil. Add the cumin seeds and black mustard seeds and cook over a low to medium heat until the mustard seeds start to pop. Add the onion and peppers and cook until softened.
  4. Add the chillies, garlic, ginger, remaining half a teaspoon of red chilli powder and turmeric. Cook for a couple of minutes, stirring frequently.
  5. Add the tomatoes and cook for a further 5 minutes, stirring occasionally.
  6. Add the cooked paneer and stir. Cook for 10 minutes.
  7. Stir in the tomato ketchup, soy sauce, garam masala and ground cumin, then mix in the coriander and take off the heat. Season with salt to taste and serve.
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Death by chocolate muffins

Death by chocolate muffinsQuestion: how do you make the most decadent, chocolaty muffins ever even more tempting? Answer: by filling the middles with a dollop of chocolate fudge cream cheese! Or so I found out when I adapted a recipe I use quite a lot to make these ‘death by chocolate’ muffins for the office charity sale.

I’ve had a tub of Asda Chocolate Fudge soft cheese in the fridge for a while. I bought it on a whim when doing my online grocery shop, but couldn’t decide what to do with it until I was trying to choose what to bake for work. My triple chocolate muffins (technically quadruple chocolate, because there’s cocoa powder as well as milk, dark and white chocolate) always go down a treat, and I’ve previously adapted the recipe to incorporate a caramel filling.

So, I thought the other day, why not do the same with this oh-so-lovely soft cheese?

Asda Chocolate Fudge Soft CheeseI made the muffins by whipping up the dry and wet mixes separately, then folding the wet mix into the dry one until just incorporated. Then I half filled the muffin cases with the mix, added a spoonful of the chocolate fudge cheese to the middles, and spooned the rest of the muffin mix on top, making sure that it covered the cheese entirely to prevent leakage.

Death by chocolate muffins

Death by chocolate muffins, halfway through assembly

Then it was just a case of baking them for 20 minutes. You have to be careful when taking the muffins out of the oven, as the chocolate chunks in the mix melt and sometimes ooze out of the muffin cases, so it’s best to leave them to cool in the tin for a while before attempting to transfer them to a wire rack.

Death by chocolate muffinsEt voila! A batch of muffins that will surely satiate appetite of the most ardent chocoholic (which I most certainly am). They went down extremely well in the office – I’m glad I managed to save one for myself beforehand, otherwise I wouldn’t have got a look in!

Death by chocolate muffinsSome people warmed the muffins for a few seconds in the microwave to re-gooey-fy (that’s a technical term) the chocolate, which is a nice idea – especially if you want to serve them as dessert with cream or similar.

Death by chocolate muffinsHowever, the cheese centre is more than enough in terms of gooey loveliness, so the muffins are absolutely great cold. I will definitely make these again soon, but perhaps not for the office… :o)

Death by chocolate muffins

The recipe

Adapted from a recipe for triple chocolate muffins in BBC Good Food 101 Cakes & Bakes

Makes 12 muffins

  • 250g plain flour
  • 25g cocoa powder
  • 2 tsp baking powder
  • 0.5 tsp bicarbonate of soda
  • 100g dark chocolate chunks
  • 100g milk chocolate chunks
  • 100g white chocolate chunks
  • 2 eggs, beaten
  • 300ml soured cream
  • 85g golden caster sugar
  • 85g butter, melted
  • 200g tub chocolate fudge soft cheese (I got mine from Asda, but you can also use Philadelphia’s chocolate cream cheese or similar)

Method:

  1. Preheat the oven to 200C/gas 6/180C fan. Place 12 muffin cases into a muffin tin.
  2. Mix together the flour, cocoa, baking powder, bicarbonate of soda and chocolate in a large bowl.
  3. In another bowl, mix together the eggs, soured cream, sugar and butter.
  4. Fold the wet mix into the dry mix until just combined (don’t over-stir!).
  5. Divide half of the mix between the 12 muffin cases.
  6. Place a teaspoon of the soft cheese on top of the mix in each of the cases, placing it squarely in the middle.
  7. Spoon the rest of the muffin mix over the top of the cheese, making sure that it covers the cheese completely.
  8. Bake the muffins for 20 minutes, until well risen. Remove them from the oven and leave them to cool in the tin for about 20 minutes, then transfer to a wire rack to cool completely (or eat them warm!).

Mozzarella and sundried tomato muffins

Mozzarella and sundried tomato muffins

I fully intended to make some of my favourite courgette and mozzarella muffins for my baking turn for work recently, but had to change my plans slightly when I discovered that the courgettes I had in the fridge were in a less than pleasant condition. After rooting around on the internet, I found a similar courgette-less recipe that adapted to make these mozzarella and sundried tomato muffins.

Mozzarella and sundried tomato muffins

I kept some of the ingredients the same as the courgette version of the muffins, but also added sundried tomatoes and took out some of the ingredients in the recipe I found on the web.

Mozzarella and sundried tomato muffins

The muffins were pretty easy to make and baked to perfection within the stated time. With muffins, the hardest bit is really just making sure you don’t over-stir the mix, otherwise you’ll end up with some hard, dry baked goods!

I found that the amount of sugar stated in the original recipe was way too much, so my recipe below reduces this to just 1 tablespoon. I’ve also upped the amount of chilli and paprika as I couldn’t really taste them (but that may have been due to the sugar!). Overall, though, these were some excellent muffins that I’d make again if I have a craving for savoury muffins but no courgettes to hand.

Mozzarella and sundried tomato muffins

The recipe

Adapted from this recipe

Makes 12

  • 250g plain flour
  • 1 tbsp caster sugar
  • 0.5 tsp salt
  • 1 tbsp baking powder
  • 1 tbsp dried chilli flakes
  • 1 tsp smoked paprika
  • handful of chopped flat leaf parsley
  • 250g mozzarella, diced
  • 1 small red onion, finely chopped
  • 1 egg, beaten
  • 50g butter, melted
  • 240ml milk

 

Method:

  1. Preheat the oven to gas 6/200C. Place paper cases in a 12-hole muffin tin.
  2. In a large bowl, stir together the flour, sugar, salt, baking powder, chilli flakes, paprika and parsley.
  3. Gently stir in the mozzarella and onion.
  4. In a separate bowl/jug, whisk together the egg and butter, then beat this into the milk.
  5. Stir the milk mixture into the flour mix, being careful not to overmix to prevent the muffins from becoming dry and dense. There should still be some lumps and bits of flour.
  6. Spoon the mixture into the cases in the muffin tin and bake for 25 minutes until risen and golden.
  7. Cool the muffins in the tin for 10 minutes, before removing them and placing them on a wire rack to completely cool.

First bake: cheddar and leek muffins

Cheddar and leek muffins

I made these savoury cheddar and leek muffins for work last month along with the rum and mint brownies I blogged about last time. I do like a good savoury bake, with my all-time favourite being Dan Lepard’s courgette and mozzarella muffins. So, how did these compare?

They were pretty damn good, truth be told! The method was as you would expect – mix together the dry ingredients, mix together the wet ingredients, combine the two and bake. I used a large leek and it looked like a LOT, but it turned out to the right amount for the muffin cases. I also did my usual thing of adding more cheese than specified whenever a recipe calls for it, but that’s pretty much the law for any cheese lover.

The recipe rather intriguingly calls for mustard powder. I didn’t have any so just used some actual mustard instead. I can’t say I could actually taste it, but maybe that’s because of all the extra cheese I threw in…

Cheddar and leek muffins

Taste-wise, the muffins were very similar to the courgette and mozzarella ones, but without the chilli kick. I think I still prefer the latter but these were still very nice indeed – I just can’t shake off my chilli-saturated upbringing! I’d quite like to try making these again with different kinds of cheese (and maybe some chilli) – I can imagine them being lovely with smoked or flavoured cheese.

The recipe

Can be found online here: http://www.thecheesewarehouse.co.uk/cheddar-leek-savoury-muffins/

First bake: savoury witches’ hat pasties

Witches' hatsWe had a Halloween bake sale in our office the other week, and I decided to go savoury with my offering. After much faffing, I settled upon these puff pastry pasties in the shape of witches’ hats.

I cheated and bought the puff pastry, as I didn’t have the time or confidence to make my own! I bought it in those massive blocks, though, and with hindsight I probably should have got the pre-rolled version to save more time… ah well.

I decided to make two fillings – cheese and onion, and spicy chickpea and potato, both my own inventions. For the cheese and onion filling, I gently fried some chopped onion until soft (but not browned) then mixed it with a big pile of grated mature cheddar, a little milk and seasoning.

Witches' hats

Filling for witches’ hats – cheese and onion (left) and spicy chickpea and potato (right)

The chickpea filling was a bit more complicated due to it being based on a chickpea curry recipe handed down by my mum, but basically involved cooking lightly mashed tinned chickpeas and chopped potato in a variety of spices. I held back on the chilli to begin with, but then worried that it wasn’t spicy enough and added a load more towards the end. Oops.

To fill the pasties, I painstakingly rolled out the pastry, cut it into diamond shapes, brushed them with beaten egg, added a spoonful of filling to the middle then folded the diamonds over to create triangles. I then attached a strip of pastry to the bottom edge to make them look like hats, although as you can see from the pictures, some of these managed to unattach themselves from the triangles during baking. Tsk.

Witches' hatsThe main issue I had, though, was the pasties opening up in the oven. This wasn’t a huge issue for the chickpea pasties, as the filling was quite dry, but the cheese filling melted and seeped onto the baking tray, resulting in a couple of pasties not having any filling at all! Not all of them were lost, though, which was a relief! I probably didn’t seal the edges quite as well as I should, which is certainly a lesson learnt.

Overall, the pasties turned out well and sold out remarkably quickly at the sale. If I ever make these again, I might try some different fillings, but they were delicious enough as they were!

The recipe

Based on this BBC Good Food recipe for wizards’ hats. Follow the method for the pastry and baking (double the quantities if you want to make two types of pasties), and see below for my filling recipes:

Cheese and onion

  • 100g grated mature cheddar
  • 1 onion, chopped
  • butter, for frying
  • 2 tbsp milk
  • Salt and pepper, to season
  1. Melt the butter in a frying pan and slowly cook the onions over a low heat until soft (about 15-20 mins).
  2. In a bowl, mix the onions with the cheddar, milk and seasoning.

Chickpea and potato

  • 1 x 400g tin cooked chickpeas, drained and rinsed
  • 150g potato, peeled and chopped into small chunks
  • Half a small onion, finely chopped
  • 1 tbsp sunflower oil
  • 0.5 tsp cumin seeds
  • 0.5 tsp black mustard seeds
  • 0.5 tsp green chilli, finely chopped
  • 1 tsp salt
  • 1 garlic clove, finely chopped
  • 1 tbsp grated ginger
  • 0.5 tsp red chilli powder
  • 0.5 tsp turmeric
  • 1 tsp ground cumin
  • 1 tsp garam masala
  • handful of chopped coriander
  1. Lightly mash the chickpeas in a bowl with a potato masher or fork.
  2. In a frying pan, heat the oil and add the mustard and cumin seeds. Fry over a medium heat until you hear the mustard seeds start to pop. Add the onion and cook for 5 minutes.
  3. Add the green chilli, garlic, ginger, red chilli powder, turmeric and salt, and cook for 3 minutes more. Stir in the chickpeas and potato, and cook until the potatoes are soft.
  4. Add the ground cumin, garam masala and coriander, stir and turn off the heat to let the filling cool.

First bake: goat’s cheese, hazelnut and raisin cake

Goat's cheese, hazelnut and raisin cake

Savoury bakes seem to be controversial for certain people, for some reason. I can’t understand why – if you want a sweet cake, go and have one, but don’t carp on at those of us who like to have something different every now and then!

My favorite savoury baking recipe to date is Dan Lepard’s courgette and mozzarella muffins, but this goat’s cheese, hazelnut and raisin cake recipe by Hugh Fearnley-Whittingstall could give those trusty muffins a run for their money. I recently acquired a proper loaf tin and quite fancied baking something new in it – and being an avid fan of all things cheese-related, I quickly settled on this recipe.

The recipe has quite a long list of ingredients, but the cake is surprisingly easy to make in spite of this. It uses the method of adding wet ingredients to dry, and the important thing is to not over mix it, much like with muffins.

Goat's cheese, hazelnut and raisin cake mix

Goat’s cheese, hazelnut and raisin cake mix

The resulting mixture is very thick, and I had to push it into the corners of the tin. It baked in 45 minutes as specified in the recipe, which is always nice! (I tend to get fairly distressed when my baking time differs from the recipe).

The first thing that hit me when I opened the oven was the delicious smell of two kinds of goat’s cheese (hard and soft) cooking away. Goat’s cheese is generally very mild, but it seems to become much stronger in flavour after cooking. The texure of the cake is more akin to that of a tealoaf than an actual cake, in my opinion, which is probably down to the lack of butter.

Taste-wise, it’s a bit of a sensation – you can certainly taste the cheese, but the hazelnut chips in before that becomes too overwhelming, and both are nicely complemented by the delicate sweetness of the raisins (which are the big olive-like things you can see in the first picture – they swelled up massively in the oven!).

Goat's cheese, hazelnut and raisin cake

This was a definite hit and something I would make again. My boyfriend suggested that it would be a nice alternative to bread with soup, and I also think that would work well. I can’t wait to try more savoury cakes – HFW’s recipe for carrot and feta cake will probably be next on my hitlist!

The recipe

From Hugh Fearnley-Whittingstall’s Guardian column here.

Re-bake: courgette and mozzarella muffins

Courgette and mozzarella muffins

As you may have gathered, I do a lot of baking. Among the things I’ve baked the most are these delicious courgette and mozzarella savoury muffins from a recipe by the baking genius that is Dan Lepard.

This recipe has many of my favourite ingredients – with courgette, chilli, cheese and parsley all in there, this is a dream bake for me! It’s also super easy to make, employing one of my favourite methods: throw it all in a bowl, then mix and bake. So simple!

Some notes on the ingredients: courgettes are widely available now, as they’re a summer vegetable that seems to keep growing whether gardeners would like it to or not! So they’re pretty cheap at the moment. Mozzarella can be expensive, but I recently discovered that Morrisons has included the cheese in its new ‘Savers’ range, which is the equivalent of Asda Smartprice and Tesco Value. At 44p for 125g, it’s definitely the cheapest I’ve come across in all the time I’ve been making this recipe, and it tastes fine, so I would recommend finding your nearest Morrisons if you’re on a budget.

Back to the muffins, then. Being a pescetarian, I make the vegetarian version of this recipe, which replaces the smoked ham with smoked paprika. Add to this the generous helping of chilli flakes, and you have some wonderfully spicy muffins! The spice level is perfect, in my opinion, but if you don’t get on with chilli it’s probably a good idea to reduce the amount you put in by one or two teaspoons. I had to use red onion instead of white this time, and I only had frozen parsley as opposed to fresh, but that didn’t make much of a difference to the overall flavour.

As with most muffin recipes, the key is to not overdo it when stirring the mix. I always mix until the ingredients have just come together (for me, it’s when it’s mostly combined, but I can still see some bits of unmixed flour in the bowl). Overmixing can result in hard, dense muffins that fail to rise, so keep an eye on what you’re doing!

You can eat these while they’re still warm, but they’ll most likely still be a little soft in the middle, so try to resist temptation until they’re completely cool and you’ll find them easier to eat. I also think they’re tastier when cold, but then I’m the sort of freak who likes cold cheesy pasta and pizza!

Courgette and mozzarella muffins

The recipe

Get the recipe from Dan Lepard’s Guardian column here: http://www.guardian.co.uk/lifeandstyle/2010/apr/10/courgette-mozzarella-muffin-recipe