Rosemary crackers

Hello, it’s March already. Where did February go? It’s not like I’ve been doing anything other than working and staying home. Hope you are safe and well.

This new recipe produces crackers that are so tasty, just the right level of crispy (that is, they don’t dislodge your fillings) and are deceptively quick and easy to make.

It is easiest to make them with a pasta machine, but you can prepare them with a rolling pin, so don’t worry if you haven’t got a pasta sheeting gadget.

One last thing to add, I know not everyone likes mustard (I’m not a huge fan myself) but do try them with the mustard in as it adds a real umami pep to the flavour which doesn’t come across that ‘mustardy’ if you know what I’m trying to say. If you can’t bring yourself to add the mustard powder substitute a hot paprika instead.

Equipment

  • Two large baking trays, lined with parchment/baking paper
  • Large bowl
  • Pasta machine or rolling pin
  • Sharp knife
  • Wire cooling rack

Ingredients

  • 250g plain flour (spelt can be used instead of wheat if you prefer)
  • 2 sprigs of fresh rosemary (each about 6-7cm long)
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon of mustard powder
  • 1 teaspoon of freshly milled black pepper
  • 90ml water
  • 35ml extra virgin olive oil
  • Extra flour for dusting

Method

  1. Wash and dry the rosemary (if you think it needs it) and strip the leaves off the stalks
  2. Turn the oven on to 180C fan/ 200C conventional oven
  3. Mix all the dry ingredients together (flour, salt, mustard, pepper) and the rosemary leaves
  4. Make a well in the middle and pour in the oil and water and start combining. You may want to use a fork or a Dutch dough whisk for this, but hands are good!
  5. Bring it together and try not to overwork it – knead just enough to combine it so it forms a ball
  6. Set up your pasta machine or roll out by hand. You’ll probably need a little extra flour for dusting your work surface if you’re rolling by hand, but I’ve found this dough goes through the pasta machine quite well without extra flour. If you think it needs it though as it’s sticking, use a little.
  7. Roll out (either method) to about 1.5mm thickness – with these crackers you are limited by the thickness of the rosemary leaves and the height of the cracked pepper. Basically, roll out as thin as you can
  1. Cut into rectangular strips, about 4cm x 20cm
  1. Lay them on the prepared baking sheets. They don’t need much space between them as they don’t expand much
  2. Bake for 13-15 minutes. The crackers should be starting to turn brown and will have bubbled up in places
  3. Transfer to a wire rack to cool
  4. Great eaten with dips (such as Pesto and roasted butternut squash dip) or olive oil or as a main meal accompaniment

Apple madeleines with white chocolate

Always at this time of year I neglect my website. Not on purpose you understand; it just seems to happen year on year. I’m no late starter when it comes to anything else, its just… January. So, despite it almost being February this is my first 2021 post. Happy New Year!

I’ve written before that I eschew resolutions at this time of year. The spring equinox has me thinking about changes, new starts and determination rather than a grey and bleary 1st Jan. January (and February come to think of it) does not work for me for new starts, but it is good timing for gathering yourself together, looking after you and yours and starting to think about spring and those new shoots, literal or metaphorical.

So, while I’m in R&R mode, these little madeleines fit nicely. They are a twist on a traditional patisserie recipe, but incorporate winter fruit and indulgent chocolate. I’ve coloured my white chocolate to match the Pink Lady apples I used, but you don’t have to colour the chocolate at all, and if you don’t like white chocolate, then feel free to dip them in your favourite milk or dark instead.

Notes

I’ve included the little step that gets the chocolate finish looking like its sculpted! Once you get the hang of turning them out without breaking the chocolate (this depends on the trickiness of the mould you own) you’ll be making them perfect all the time.

Equipment

  • Small saucepan
  • Madeleine moulds (any mould will do but silicone ones are easier for this recipe)
  • Spoon, flexible spatula, scales, knife and cutting board, pastry brush
  • Medium bowl
  • Small heatproof bowl
  • Cooling rack

Ingredients

  • 125g unsalted butter
  • 1 sweet eating apple – I used a Pink Lady apple
  • 2 medium – large eggs
  • 150g plain flour
  • 145g caster sugar
  • Pinch of salt
  • 1/4 teaspoon of lemon juice
  • 300g of white chocolate
  • Food colouring
  • Plus – extra butter, about 30 g, for the moulds

Method

  • Melt the extra butter and paint the madeleine moulds with it using the pastry brush. Place the moulds in the freezer
  • Melt the 125g of butter in the saucepan over a medium heat and then immediately take off the heat
  • Whisk the eggs and sugar until they turn light and fluffy and have increased in volume
  • Folding gently with a spatula, now add the flour, salt, lemon juice and melted butter until combined. be careful not to over mix
  • Chop the apple (removing the core but keeping the skin) into small dice and immediately add to the mix
  • Chill the mix in the fridge for 30-60 minutes. This is an important step for madeleines
  • Warm the oven to 180C fan / 200C conventional oven
  • Spoon the mixture into the moulds, filling each to about two-thirds full
  • Bake the madeleines for about 12-14 minutes. They should be really springy to the touch
  • Leave to cool completely and remove from the moulds
  • Clean the moulds and dry thoroughly
  • Now melt the chocolate, adding a few drops of food colouring if you wish
  • Spoon a teaspoon of melted chocolate into one of the madeleine cavities in the mould and press back in one of the madeleines, so it squeezes the chocolate around it. Repeat with all the madeleines
  • Try not to jog the madeleines now and leave them to cool – you can speed up the process by putting them in the fridge
  • When the chocolate is fully cold, they should slip out fairly well from the mould
  • Enjoy!

Orange nußkuchen

Follow my blog with Bloglovin

Nusstorte recipe - ink sugar spice

A simple yet delicious cake that uses a minimal amount of flour. In fact, if you’re used to baking you may think there’s not enough flour compared to the ratio of fat and sugar, but believe me it definitely works!

Nußkuchen (or nusskuchen) is a very traditional chocolate and almond cake, here I’ve revved it up a little with orange and caraway.

Notes

Don’t have caraway seeds? They can be omitted.

After zesting the oranges, they can lose moisture quickly and dry out. Keep them fresh until being eaten by popping in a beeswax wrap, cling film or a plastic food bag and keep in your vegetable crisper drawer in the fridge.

Equipment

  • 1 litre / roughly a 25cm x 13 cm loaf tin (it doesn’t have to be these exact dimensions, just don’t go much larger or smaller or your cake will be very shallow or overspill)
  • Large bowl (if not using a stand mixer)
  • Spatula/scraper
  • Electric whisk, stand mixer or large balloon whisk
  • Scales, measuring spoons
  • Baking paper/parchment
  • Zester/plane and skewer
  • Extra butter or cake release spray/mix
  • Pastry brush
  • Wire cooling rack

Ingredients

  • 100g unsalted butter – at room temperature
  • 125g caster sugar
  • 90g plain flour
  • 3 medium eggs
  • Pinch of fine salt
  • 100g flaked or chopped almonds or hazelnuts
  • 60g chopped chocolate (your choice or dark or milk to match your preference)
  • 3/4 teaspoon baking powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • 1 teaspoon of caraway seeds
  • zest of two large (or three small oranges)

Method

  1. Preheat your oven to 180 C fan / 200 C conventional oven or 350 F
  2. Cut a piece of the baking paper to the width of the tin base and long enough to lay in the tin with a few centimetres overlap each side. You do not need to line the tin fully – it is only to help you lift the cake out, it is unlikely to stick
  3. Lay the paper in the tin and either brush some warmed butter over the paper and tin ends or spray/brush with cake release
  4. Cream the butter and sugar vigorously together until pale in a large bowl with a spatula (or use your stand mixer)
  5. Add in the eggs, flour and salt, then mix in, at a gentler speed
  6. Grate the oranges over the bowl and sprinkle over the caraway seeds and ground cinnamon
  7. Add in the chopped nuts and chocolate chunks, and give a light mix
  8. Now, as a last stage (so the efficacy isn’t reduced) add in the baking powder and mix gently again until all the ingredients are dispersed
  9. Immediately pour or spoon into your prepared tin and smooth the top flat
  10. Place in the centre of the oven and bake for 45-50 mins
  11. Test by poking a skewer into the centre of the cake – it should come out clean with no sticky cake mix on it. If there is cake mix, place back in the oven for another 7-10 minutes
  12. When done, leave to cool in the tin until you can handle it, then lift the cake out using the baking paper and place on a wire rack to cool thoroughly
  13. A gorgeous cake to slice and serve with a coffee or orange juice. You can add a finishing touch of a dusting of icing sugar. It also is sublime with a dollop of fresh cream as a dessert

Thanks! If you’ve enjoyed this recipe please leave a comment or ‘like’.

Gnocchi

gnocchi

Gnocchi are gorgeous, pillowy-soft little morsels. They’re made with potato and flour so are the carbohydrate part of your dish. You can make them without the egg (then making them vegan) but in my trials I do think they benefit from the addition of the protein for their structure.

For me gnocchi are a great additional to your cooking repertoire, as they are another carbohydrate type for your meal and provide yet another choice in cooking potatoes.

Some say these are pasta. They’re certainly a pasta shape and there are some regional pastas, such as rascatielli from Puglia, that have potato in them but potato in a pasta shape is usually just a proportion in comparison with the flour. In gnocchi the potato is the majority ingredient. Whatever your thinking on this (could this be the next jam or cream on scones first debate!?) they’re certainly an excellent source of carbohydrate and a real change from other methods of cooking potatoes or using pasta in a dish.

During this time of lockdown cooking and being frugal with what you have, it may seem wasteful that you are using additional flour and egg, rather than just cooking baked potatoes. However, it does make the potatoes go much further as not only does it add to the whole ingredients, it also helps the potatoes fluff up a little. Nutritionally, it adds protein and further carbohydrate too. Also consider that baked potatoes are rarely eaten without butter and mash can have butter, milk or cream and/or cheese added to it.

Notes

Enough for four people.

It’s difficult to halve this recipe as it has an entire egg in it, but you can make all the gnocchi and then freeze half:

❄️ Freezing tips – Freeze the gnocchi in one layer on a tray, not bunched up together. when frozen they can then be placed in a bag or tub together. Do not thaw – just use them straight from the freezer (if you thaw them first they will go mushy)

Cooking time: Takes about 1 hour 40 minutes, however there’s only about 30 minutes of activity! 1 hr 10 of this is just the potatoes baking in the oven

Serve with any sauce or ragu that you would make for pasta. Goes particularly well with cheese or rich tomato sauces. Also you can just fry them off in herbed oil as a cicchetto (Italian tapa).

gnocchi making ink sugar spice

Equipment list

  • Baking tray
  • A large bowl
  • Sharp small knife
  • Cutting board
  • A couple of clean tea towels
  • Butter pats, garganelli board or a fork with long tynes (not essential but used to give the ridges)
  • Baking tray
  • Pastry cutter, sharp large knife or a sturdy fork (Don’t use a masher)

To cook – either:

  • Large frying pan (skillet) and olive oil, with a slotted spatula or;
  • Large saucepan with boiling salted water and a sieve/scoop

Ingredients – gnocchi

  • 1 kg of Maris piper or similar potatoes
  • 1 medium egg
  • 200g flour (ideally 00 type but normal plain flour will do, and you can substitute cornflour or other gluten free flour if you prefer)
  • 5 g Salt
  • Extra flour for dusting

Method

  1. Turn your oven on to 180C fan / 200C conventional (this is about gas mark 3)
  2. Finely dice the shallots, garlic and celery and fry gently in a little oil in the casserole dish or sauté pan. Put the lid on and leave at a low heat for about 10 minutes
  3. Put the potatoes on a baking tray and put them in the oven. Pierce the skin once or twice on each potato. It is crucial that you do oil the potatoes – you need to dry them out. Set the timer for one hour
  4. After an hour has elapsed since you put the potatoes in the oven, it is now time to get them out: they should be nice and crispy
  5. Cut each potato in half and allow the steam to escape for a few minutes
  6. Scoop the potato flesh out from each skin into a bowl – you might find it helpful to hold them with a tea towel as they’ll still be hot
  7. Once you’ve got all the flesh, chop the potatoes up with a knife or pastry cutter. You can also use a fork. Stay away from using a potato masher as it’s easy to over use and the starch in the potatoes can get over worked and become very glutinous – this will ruin the gnocchi
  8. Add in the flour and the salt and ‘chop’ it into the dough
  9. Add in the egg now, and cut it in to the dough immediately (or you may get pieces of cooked egg)
  10. Bring it all together now with your hands – it should be firm but yielding. If it’s very sticky work in a little more dough (again ‘cut’ the flour into it, rather than kneading)
  11. Dust some flour on the counter and cut off a handful-sized piece of dough. Roll it out into a sausage about 15 mm or roughly the same thickness as your thumb. Doesn’t need to be exact
  12. Cut discs off the roll that are also around 15mm long with a sharp, small knife
  13. Roll these pieces of dough over the flour (on your board) as you cut them to coat them a little. Repeat with all of the potato dough until you have made gnocchi with all of it
  14. You can now leave them as they are (see note below about placing them apart) or, if you have a garganelli board or a butter pat, you can roll the gnocchi down it to create ridges. You can also roll them down the tunes of a fork. Ridging the gnocchi does take extra time and your gnocchi will be fine plain, the ridges are there to help hold on to the sauce
  15. To ridge a gnocco, place it on the board and place your fingers on top of it, about where your top knuckle is. Drag the gnocco towards you down the board with medium pressure until it reaches your fingertips. It will have rolled along, getting marked with the ridges

When you have made each gnocco place it down on a clean tea towel or a lightly floured board and try not to let the gnocchi touch each other as you continue to use all the dougCooking

I’m going to instruct you in both ways I cook my gnocchi – you can chose to fry/sauté them or boil them.

Frying makes them slightly crispier and you can cook them in advance and keep them warm while you cook the sauce.

Boiling is more typical, it’s quicker and results in fluffy gnocchi but your sauce needs to be ready when your gnocchi are

Frying:

  1. Heat a generous amount of olive oil in a large frying pan (skillet). Place batches of the gnocchi in the oil, gently and try to make sure they don’t stick together (separate any that are stuck with your spatula)
  2. Toss or flip the gnocchi in the oil until lightly browned and transfer to an oven proof dish. Keep warm in the oven until time to use

Boiling

  1. Bring salted water in your largest saucepan to the boil. You may need to do this in two or three batches so you can get the gnocchi out quick enough before they go mushy
  2. Let the gnocchi roll around in the boiling water for a couple of minutes: they don’t take long. The gnocchi will have sunk to the bottom when you first put them in: when they are ready they pop up to the surface and float (self timing food: what’s not to love!)

Blood orange pain d’epices

Blood orange pain d'spices cake, with star anise and cinnamon sticks. recipe by Ink Sugar Spice

It may be January, and sure, I’m off to a slow start but there are many things to love about this time of year. Days are already getting longer and there are buds stirring on trees and shoots pushing their way eagerly through the ground. There are even some early daffodils brightening up hedgerows and verges.

Once of the joys of January is the glut of blood oranges imported from sunnier climes. Of course, I’d prefer to use fruit and veg that hadn’t had its share of air miles, however that intense colour and flavour is truly a gift in grey January. I’m very thankful that these lovely citrus fruits are around at this time – I hope you find something to make this time of year enjoyable.

Notes

If it is out of the season for blood oranges, other good quality orange varieties such as Jaffa or navel can be replacements.

This recipe uses heart healthy olive oil rather than butter.

Equipment

  • Saucepan
  • Large bowl
  • Small loaf tin
  • Greaseproof paper/parchment or cake liner
  • Sieve
  • Grater/microplane
  • Juicer/citrus reamer

Ingredients

  • Milk – 60g (don’t used skimmed milk)
  • Pinch salt
  • Star anise – 2
  • Cinnamon sticks – 2
  • Soft brown sugar – 150g
  • Plain flour – 275g
  • Baking powder – 1 1/2 teaspoons
  • Eggs, large – 2
  • Light olive oil – 70g (I used Filippo Berio Light and Mild)
  • Ground cinnamon – 1 teaspoon
  • Mixed spice – 2 teaspoons
  • Mixed candied peel – 60g
  • Blood oranges – 3:
    • Blood orange juice – juice of 1 blood orange
    • Blood orange zest – zest of 2 blood oranges
    • Additionally, some slices of orange for decoration from one of the zested blood oranges

Method

  1. First of all, pour the milk into the saucepan and add in the salt, cinnamon sticks and star anise
  2. Warm the milk over a mid-heat, ensuring it does not come to the boil, and then leave to infuse for 15 minutes
  3. While the milk is infusing, turn on your oven to 180 *C fan / 200*C conventional
  4. Grease and line your loaf tin
  5. Slice one of the zested blood oranges and select 4-5 of the nicest slices and set aside
  6. Weigh out the remaining dry ingredients into the mixing bowl
  7. Sieve the cinnamon sticks and star anise from the milk, and add the milk into the bowl and lightly mix in
  8. Now mix in the eggs, oil, peel, orange juice and zest
  9. It will take a little gentle mixing to incorporate the oil and juice fully
  10. Pour into the prepared loaf tin and place the slices of orange on top, arranging them as you wish
  11. Place the prepared cake in the centre of the oven
  12. Bake for 45-50 minutes. The top will be well risen, and a skewer will come out clean when inserted for testing
  13. This is a lovely cake on its own, but it is especially delicious with a little softly whipped cream or a vanilla ice cream (and even spread with a little marmalade first!)

Chocolate-hazelnut spread sandwich biscuits

Gorgeous and deceptively easy to make sandwich biscuits. I normally waffle on for ages before my recipes, but there’s little to say except go make these! They only take about 20 mins of actual preparation (ignoring the rest-in-the-fridge time and cooling) and bake even quicker.

Use any gianduja, Nutella or similar spread for this. It’s unlike me to not make everything from scratch, but I needed a quick show-stopper cookie and a jar of pre-made saved a lot of time.

Notes

  • These biscuits get a little extra ‘snap’ with the addition of semola/semolina flour (made from hard durum wheat). However, you can just use ALL plain flour instead (so use 270g plain flour) or you can substitute rice flour for the semola
  • I cut out the little shaped holes in the biscuits before baking, but I also re-cut them after they had just been baked (when still warm) to give a sharp definition as these biscuits do spread a little
  • If you don’t have a tiny cutter for the centres on the top halves, then you can use the large end of a piping nozzle.
  • Makes about 13-14 finalised sandwiches (about 26-28 actual single biscuit shapes)
Ink Sugar Spice blog https://inksugarspice.wordpress.com/

Equipment

  • 2 large baking sheets, prepared with baking parchment/greaseproof paper or silicon sheets
  • Rolling pin
  • Small palette knife (or use the back of a spoon) for spreading
  • Large palette knife or fish slice (for lifting)
  • Large biscuit/cookie cutter – mine is 2.5 cm x 7.5 cm (3 Inch x 1 Inch), but use what you have available
  • Smaller cutter for the middle cut-out (I used a small flower shape but any small cutter, approximately 1.5 cm in diameter will do, or substitute a piping nozzle)
  • Wire cooling rack

Ingredients

  • Unsalted butter – 200g
  • Caster sugar – 100g
  • Plain flour or Tipo 00 flour – 220g – plus extra for dusting
  • Fine semolina flour (semola) – 50g (see notes above: can use all plain flour or substitute rice flour)
  • Salt 1/2 tsp
  • Vanilla bean paste or vanilla extract – 1 tsp

Plus:

  • Choc-hazelnut spread (gianduja or Nutella or similar) – about 200 – 250g

Method

  1. Mix all the ingredients for the biscuit dough together (all but the choc-hazelnut spread). Aim for a smooth dough but don’t overwork it
  2. You’ll need to dust both your work surface and your rolling pin quite liberally with flour for these biscuits (due to the high quality of butter in them)
  3. Roll out the dough to about 4mm thick and cut out the biscuit shapes with your cutter
  4. Make the biscuits in pairs: one solid biscuit and one biscuit with a little cut-out, using the smaller cutter (or piping nozzle tip)
  5. Re-roll any scraps (including those produced by little cutter) and cut out more shapes until you’ve used all your dough.
  6. You need to have an even number of biscuits to make the sandwiches, but don’t worry if there’s one rogue one, it can be eaten on its own or replace one that may have snapped!
  7. Make sure that for every complete biscuit there is a biscuit with a little shape stamped out
  8. Using the large spatula/fish slice gently place them on the prepared baking trays
  9. They will spread a little (especially if you miss out the next step of chilling) so leave some space between them
  10. Chill for 15 minutes, and while they’re chilling put your oven on – fan oven at 180˚C, or 200˚C conventional or 400˚F
  11. Bake in the bottom or centre of the oven for about 14 minutes. They should just be starting to brown at the edges
  12. Leave to cool for one minute – no more – and while they are still in the trays, use your small cutter to go over the cut-out shapes to sharpen them up. Leave tidying up these trimmed bits until the biscuits are fully cooled or you may risk denting the biscuits
  13. Leave to cool in the trays for a further 15 minutes and then transfer to the wire rack. Ensure they’re fully cooled before filling so they won’t melt the spread

To assemble

  1. Firstly, gently poke out any bits of biscuit within the cut-out areas to smarten them up
  2. Spread a thick layer of the chocolate-hazelnut spread over the bottom half biscuit (ie a biscuit with no hole in it) with a small palette knife or the back of a spoon
  3. Gently place one of the tops (a biscuit with a shape cut out) onto the biscuit base you’ve just covered
  4. Repeat for all of the biscuits and place on a baking tray or in any container and chill in your fridge for at least 10 minutes (this stops the spread melting into the biscuit and making it soggy, and helps with storage)
  5. You can keep them in the fridge, but they’ll also keep in an airtight container well providing it’s not in too warm an environment (otherwise the spread will start to melt)
Ink Sugar Spice blog https://inksugarspice.wordpress.com/

Chilli salt grissini

Grissini - inksugarspice

I have written a previous recipe for grissini (flavoured with olives, parmesan or seeds) which is a good, reliable recipe. It may seem odd to be writing a second grissini recipe but I believe it differs enough to warrant a write-up: these grissini are taper-thin and have an exceptional crunch to them. I’ve also rolled them in a chilli salt mix. They’re awesome on their own as a light snack but are wonderful with a melted cheese dip or something rich and tomato-y.

As I mentioned in the original grissini recipe, homemade breadsticks are simply miles ahead of the hideous pre-packed ones. I’ll repeat what I said in the original: once you’ve made your own grissini you can’t go back. The bonus is that they are one of the simplest yeasted bread recipes to make and are very impressive (especially when you know they’re pretty easy).

Notes

Makes about 30-40 breadsticks, dependent on the length you’ve rolled the dough out to.

Equipment

  • Large bowl
  • *Stand mixer with dough hook attachment (if not kneading by hand)
  • Pizza cutter or long sharp knife (non-serrated)
  • Two large baking trays, lined with parchment
  • Rolling pin
  • Pastry brush
  • Clean linen tea towel or cling film

Ingredients

  • Tipo 00 or plain white flour – 150g
  • Strong white bread flour – 150g (plus a little extra for dusting)
  • Fast acting yeast – 1 level teaspoon/5g
  • Salt – 1 teaspoon
  • Extra virgin olive oil – 1 and 1/4 tablespoons (I used Filippo Berio’s)
  • Water, just tepid – 200 ml
  • Added ingredients:
    • An egg, whisked lightly for brushing
    • either 3 tablespoons of my fiery chilli salt mix
    • or
    • 3 tablespoons rock salt + 1 tablespoon of chilli flakes

Method

  1. Mix all the ingredients for the bread dough together (tipo 00 flour, bread flour, yeast, salt olive oil and water) into a scruffy mess
  2. Leave for 10 minutes to autolyse (this period helps the gluten develop initially before kneading)
  3. Tip out and knead for 8 – 10 minutes until the dough is smooth and glossy (or mix in your stand mixer if you prefer not to knead by hand)
  4. Lightly oil the bowl you were using and pop the dough back in, and cover it with a tea towel or cling film until it has risen by about half as much again (it won’t ‘double in size’). This could be anything between 30 – 90 minutes depending on the ambient temperature
  5. When the dough is ready, lightly flour your working surface and tip out your dough onto it
  6. Flour your rolling pin and roll the dough out in as precise a rectangle as possible to about 0.5 cm / 1/4 inch thick (or as near as you can get it – don’t worry too much)
  7. Leave to rest covered with a tea towel for about 20 minutes
  8. Set the oven on to 200C fan / 220C conventional
  9. When rested (and risen a little) use a sharp knife or pizza cutter to cut as many 0.75cm / 1/3 inch strips as you can from your dough rectangle

    Grissini - inksugarspice
  10. Scatter the chilli salt mix in a spread out pile on your working surface
  11. Using a pastry brush, spread the beaten egg lightly over the dough strips, turning them over to coat both sides
  12. Taking a strip of dough at a time, roll it gently in the salt and chilli, trying not to press too hard as you only want to roll the dough into a more rounded shape rather than lengthen it – the salt and chilli should stick on
  13. Carefully transfer the dough strip to your lined baking tray
  14. Repeat with all the dough strips, so they are all covered in the chilli and salt

    Grissini - inksugarspice
  15. Make sure there is a little space between all the dough strips on the baking trays and aim to line them up straight
  16. Set the oven on to 200C fan / 220C conventional
  17. Bake for about 14-16 minutes until a nice golden colour
  18. Leave to cool in the trays
  19. They should be crisp with a nice ‘snap’ when fully cooled
Grissini - inksugarspice
Ink Sugar Spice blog https://inksugarspice.wordpress.com/

Pikelets with balsamic strawberries

img_0397-1

This feeds four or a very greedy two for breakfast or for a Pancake Day (Shrove Tuesday) treat.

At home growing up we always referred to these as pikelets. You may know them as drop scones or American-style pancakes too. They fluff up in the pan due to the addition of a leavening agent: not something you’d add to a traditional British pancake or a crepe.

Notes

  • Takes 10 minutes to prepare, about 20 minutes to cook
  • Makes about 20 small pancakes that are roughly 10-12cm in size (not that I actually measure them!)
  • If you have buttermilk in your fridge, replace it for half of the milk for even richer pancakes
  • To add even more fruit, throw in a handful of sultanas or some chopped bananas or apple slices into the batter before frying
  • Don’t be gentle when flipping over the pancakes, or wait too long to turn them. They need to ‘splat’ down on the frying pan when they are turned on to their second side, so that the whole of that side is in contact with the heated surface. If you don’t do this or leave the first side cooking too long, the edges start to dry and you’ll get a mound in the middle rather than an even, flat side
  • Unlike other flat pancakes and crepes, this batter is best used straight away rahter than having been rested first

Equipment

  • Bowls – one large, one small
  • Fine sieve
  • Small ladle (volume capacity will be around 60 – 75ml, roughly equivalent to five tablespoons)
  • Frying pan/skillet
  • Flat spatula or fish slice for turning

Ingredients

  • Eggs – 3
  • Baking powder – 1 teaspoon
  • Salt – a pinch
  • Plain or Italian Tipo 00 flour – 250 g
  • Milk – about 200 ml (you may need a little more depending on your chosen flour)
  • Oil spray

To serve:

  • Strawberries – a small punnet/about 200 g
  • Caster sugar – two tablespoons
  • Balsamic vinegar (I’ve used Filippo Berio Gran Cru Balsamic Vinegar here)

Method

  1. Crack the eggs into the large bowl
  2. Sieve the flour in (to ensure there are no clumps of flour) and then add in the salt and the milk
  3. Whisk to combine: you’ll need some elbow grease to ensure there are no lumps of flour
  4. You are aiming for the consistency of custard (not too thin, not too thick: it needs to be ladled into circles but keep its shape in the pan)
  5. Now add in the baking powder and give a final whisk (as leaveners start working straight away, it’s best to add them in as the very final ingredient or their strength will peter out before frying)
  6. Put the frying pan on over a medium heat and spray a little oil into the pan
  7. Test the heat is ready by dropping a tiny amount of the batter into the pan – it should brown on the underside in about 30 seconds Strawberries and herbs - Ink Sugar Spice
  8. Take a ladleful of the batter and drop into the pan, smoothing out the batter with the underside of the ladle until it makes a circle, something like about 10 – 12cm across
  9. If you have a large enough pan, you can cook two or three at the same time
  10. Each pikelet will start to bubble after about 20 seconds. After the batter starts to change colour a little and the edge of the pikelet can be lifted with a spatula without it sticking to the frying pan, it’s ready to flip over. The top of the pikelet at this stage will still be raw, so will spread a little when flipped – this gives it its typical finish
  11. After another 20 – 30 seconds, check the pikelet by lifting an edge and checking
  12. Flip the pikelet on to a plate, and cover with a clean tea towel while you cook the others
  13. You will most likely need to spray a little more oil in the frying pan before each batch of batter
  14. Warm some plates for serving
  15. When the pikelets are all cooked, roughly chop the strawberries
  16. Place the chopped strawberries in a small bowl and sprinkle them with the caster sugar
  17. Drizzle some balsamic vinegar over the strawberries (depending on the strength of taste you prefer – start with a small drizzle and taste test)
  18. Allow the strawberries to macerate in the balsamic vinegar for two to three minutes, while you portion out the pikelets on to the warmed plates

To serve

  1. Pile a few of the pikelets up on each plate and spoon over some of the macerated strawberries, not forgetting a little of the delicious juice that’s gathered in the bottom of the bowl
  2. Extra delicious served with a spoonful of vanilla ice cream, mascarpone or clotted cream

Pikelets and balsamic strawberries recipe on Ink Sugar Spice

Ink Sugar Spice blog https://inksugarspice.wordpress.com/

Flavoured salts – part two

salts2-7

[Updated]

In the first part of this series on flavoured salt mixes, I explained a little about the types of salts available, where they come from, how they’re harvested, what gives tinted salts their colours and how to select salts for different uses. So, if you missed that post I do encourage you to read it first before continuing here as it gives the full background and a much better understanding. You can access flavoured salt mixes part one here.

In this second part I’ve included a couple of absolute classics – Italian and French herbs. However, the Italian mix does include the optional addition of adding dried tomato paste. This kicks the mix up a couple of notches if you can be bothered to try drying tomato paste – I recommend you do try. It’s also a great way of elongating the shelf life of an opened can, tube or jar of tomato paste as it can just be sprinkled into foods while cooking.

On a slightly madder theme I’ve included a “recipe” that involved DRIED MARMITE! Yes, I actually spent one afternoon inventing the perfect dried Marmite. I wanted to include that ultimate umami taste in a salt mix, but of course I couldn’t include it in its normal gooey state. This is an AWESOME mix – I use on tons of things. You’d never know that it is entirely vegetarian! It’s particularly great to give an intense BBQ flavour to vegetarian foods and it brings out an incredible flavour on chicken and steak in particular. There is a BBQ mix on the part one post, which is entirely lovely, but this one knocks your socks off.

Almost equally mad, but not because of an individual ingredient, rather the whole mix is the English Summer Sweet mix. Sweet and salt is not a new flavour combination, but it’s still rather unusual in this form and takes some getting used to. This is a beautiful looking mix, full of pinks, blues and yellows. The trick is to use it for taste but not waste it’s good looks buried inside a dish. It is lovely in a short pastry tart, sprinkled over the top of a pavlova or meringue kisses before they go in the oven or in an ice cream. It also goes nicely sprinkled on the top of a pasta ripiena/pasta in brodo dish or on tapas or similar.

Do you have any salt mixes that you have created yourself, or is there any that you think you’d like to see? Perhaps you use sme pre-made ones, such as those from the Cornish Salt Co, but are itching to have a go at creating your own. Please let me know in the comments below 💙

Notes

  • Anything you add to a salt needs to be dry – very dry! Although that comes with a caveat – in my English Summer Sweet mix below I’ve found that both calendula petals and lavender flowers are perfectly fine putting into a salt mix fresh – the only other thing I’ve found so far that will work fresh is chopped up rosemary leaves. Everything else needs to be dried. Either start with pre-dried herbs or dry out your own ingredients in your oven or de-humidifier. I’ve given the timings and temps for ingredients I use where I can
  • Buy a high quality base salt for these, as cheaper salts do tend to have added extra ingredients (mostly to enable the salt to stay free flowing) and are more processed, thus taking out or negating any beneficial additional minerals
  • I’ve given ingredients and ratios for a typical flavoured salt, but if you’re aiming to use a lot less salt in your cooking then don’t add quite so much as I’ve given
  • Think what you’ll use the flavoured salt for – most typically these will be as a last garnish to a dish. For most of these it will be best to buy a rock or crystal salt, but if you’re using the flavouring within the early stages of a recipe there’s less need for an expensive crystal salt as it will dissolve
  • You can store these in anything that will keep moisture out, such as a click lock plastic tub but they do look really gorgeous in tiny Kilner jars. However, if you’re leaving a salt out on the dining table as a pinch pot, then it really doesn’t matter what you store it in (an old cleaned out jam jar for instance), just present it in a nice little bowl on your table

Equipment

For each ‘recipe’ you’ll need measuring spoons or a digital scale, a small bowl and a sterilised jam jar or Kilner jar. Most will need a pestle and mortar and some other ‘recipes’ need an extra item which will be explained in each method.

Sterilising glass jars

Put pre-washed clean glass jars in the oven at about 130˚C for 20 minutes or put them through a dishwasher cycle on your hottest setting

Be careful handling the hot jars out when done

NB:  don’t put any rubber seal in the oven; it’ll just melt. Wash these in hand-hot water and leave to dry on a kitchen towel or clean tea towel

Drying the herbs

Dried herbs are easy to get hold of and it’s likely that a keen cook will have most of these in their cupboard already. For the unusual herbs that you’ve grown yourself, it’s best to let herbs dry naturally in a sunny, dry spot (I hang mine in my little green house or my kitchen window). However, you can dry them out in your oven enough for these salt mixes. Place a single layer of the herbs you need on a baking tray: that is, don’t overlap them and it doesn’t matter if there are different types of herbs in one go. Bake on the lowest setting for an hour and test to see how dry the herbs are – herbs will dry out at different rates. Leave any in for another hour that have not dried yet. Crush in a pestle and mortar or a quick whizz in a blender (both before adding to the salt).

Tip: if any herbs are proving difficult to crush, add a little of the rock salt or salt crystals to the pestle and mortar. The salt acts as an additional surface to tear the herbs more effectively. Don’t tip all the salt in though, or you will pound this to a fine dust along with the herbs, and you want to keep the integrity of the salt (otherwise you may as well use fine table salt).

“Recipes” – all are vegetarian

salts2-6

Italian herbs

Ingredients are:

  • Rock salt or crystal sea salt – 2 tablespoons
  • oregano – 1 teaspoon
  • rosemary – 1 teaspoon
  • fennel or fennel seeds – 1/4 teaspoon
  • basil – 1 teaspoon
  • thyme – 1 teaspoon
  • lemon balm – 1/2 teaspoon
  • black pepper (freshly ground) – several turns of the grinder to taste
  • dried tomato puree – 1 teaspoon (optional but well worth the effort)

Method: Smooth two tablespoons of tomato puree as thinly as possible on a sheet of greaseproof paper and place on a baking tray. Bake in the oven at 70C for 1 hour. If after this time there are still some ‘rubbery’ bits of tomato puree then put it back in the oven for another 30 minutes and try again. The tomato puree with crisp up and go almost black. When fully baked, leave to cool and then crush or chop finely.

When the herbs and the tomato puree are dried, mix them with the salt and place in your container.

Some uses: in bread baking, for savoury pastry, pasta dishes, risotto and its also a nice addition to most meats and casserole-style meals.

salts2-9

Umami / intense BBQ

Notes: There is a BBQ salt recipe on the part one post, but though that is good, this one is awesome, highly unusual and includes my unique mad-kitchen-scientist dried Marmite powder. It tastes very meaty and rich, but it’s entirely vegetarian (and as such I throw it copiously on any appropriate veggie meals I make).

Ingredients are:

  • smoked sea salt – 2 tablespoons
  • vegetable bouillon – 1 teaspoon
  • garlic granules – 1 teaspoon
  • onion granules – 1 teaspoon
  • smoked paprika – 1 teaspoon
  • soft brown sugar – 1 teaspoon
  • parsley – 1 teaspoon
  • dried Marmite – 1 teaspoon
  • smokey chipotle powder (optional) – 1 teaspoon

Method: spread two tablespoons of Marmite on to a sheet of baking paper and then place on a tray in the oven. Bake at 70ºC fan / 90ºC conventional for about 25 minutes. It will puff up and it’ll really smell (fine if you love Marmite!) – don’t panic: it’s fine! Leave to cool then crumble (with dry fingers) before mixing with the other herbs and spices and the stock cube in a pestle and mortar.

NB: With this salt mix it is better to have finer salt particles that match the other particles of the mix ingredients. I ground the smoked salt with a pestle and mortar. If you don’t have smoked salt, you may as well use normal table salt here, then you don’t have to grind or crush anyway.

Some uses: great as a dry rub, or with a little oil as a wet rub. Also lovely in a chilli, in jambalaya etc, for other Cajun dishes (especially those with prawns) or to brush over meats (mixed into oil) for the barbecue. Just on almost anything savoury and great for livening up vegetarian dishes… this is my total favourite salt mix.

Also – this one is fabulous when mixed in with cornmeal or polenta (ration about 10:1) and used as a crispy coating on chicken or for wedges!

salts2-8

French herbs

Ingredients are:

  • Sea salt flakes/crystals or sel gris – 1 tablespoon
  • tarragon – 1/2 teaspoon
  • rosemary – 1 teaspoon
  • parsley – 1 teaspoon
  • thyme – 1 teaspoon
  • bay – 1/2 teaspoon
  • chives – 1 teaspoon

Method: Chop a dried bay leaf into tiny pieces (it won’t crush with a pestle and mortar well). The other dried herbs need crushing together (take the leaves off the woody stalks of the rosemary and thyme first) before adding to the salt. If you need to dry your herbs quickly see the note above.

Some uses: use in place of bouquet garni or Herbes de Provence. Also useful for fish, lamb and beef (especially steak) dishes.

English summer salt mix recipe e- Lynn Clark / Inksugarspice

English Summer Sweet

Notes: I’ve purposely kept the salt low in ratio as compared to the other ingredients, because of the uses of this mix. Dried borage flowers and rose petals are easily obtained from a Turkish or Middle-Eastern supermarket or online, if you don’t grow them yourself (they are also more tricky to dry successfully in an oven than other herbal ingredients – if you have a dehydrator this would not be an issue. If you don’t have much luck drying these yourself as they’re so tricky, do buy pre-dried).

Ingredients are:

  • Himalayan pink salt, fine sea salt flakes or a good quality table salt – 1 teaspoon
  • calendula petals (edible marigolds) (need not be dried first – see method) – 1 teaspoon
  • dried rose petals – 1 teaspoon
  • dried borage flowers – 1 teaspoon
  • lemon zest (need not be dried fully first – see method) – 1 teaspoon
  • lavender flowers (need not be dried first – see method) – 1/2 teaspoon

Method: the calendula petals and lavender flowers do not need to be dried in an oven, as they are dried by the salt in the pot. The lemon zest can be dried in a 50C oven for 30 minutes at least or just leave it overnight between two sheets of kitchen paper which you have weighed down with a book or other weight. The rose petals and borage flowers need to be oven dried as per the lemon zest (or bought pre-dried) as they are more delicate and are prone to either making the other ingredients wet or looking very dishevelled if you don’t dry them first. Mix all lightly together so as not to crush the delicate ingredients before potting up.

NB:  This is another salt where it is better to have finer salt particles (the hit of crunching into a large piece of salt would be too overpowering in a sweet mix). I actually have a salt grinder with Himalayan salt in, so I just ground the right amount. Also you can use a pestle and mortar. Alternatively, use normal free-running table salt here.

Some uses: sparingly in things like ice cream or meringue. Sprinkle a little on fruit or desserts or use in sweet pastry baking, such as tart cases or shortbreads. Gives a twist to savoury dishes nd particularly good with pasta and fish or sprinkled over salads or tapas for a pretty finish.


You are welcome to use these recipes for your home cooking (that’s why I write these things up online so others can try!)


However, please do not recreate them as a recipe anywhere or pass them off as your own (specially relevant for commercial use eg chefs, cooks, Home Eds, food stylists, restaurants etc). If you show them anywhere on social media you must credit me @inksugarspice.


salts2-5