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There are thousands of different varieties of rice but my favourite is Basmati. It is grown in the foothills of the Himalayas and is known as the King of rice for very good reasons. The aroma is unique and it tastes fantastic. Cooking rice is not difficult but it is important to buy a good quality rice such as Tilda. The cheaper varieties contain broken grains which leach starch into the cooking water and make the rice sticky. There are two main ways of cooking rice (a) the Open Pan Method and (b) the Absorption Method. I prefer the first method as it is more reliable when working with different hobs and pans. The most important things to remember when cooking Basmati rice is (a) rinse (b) cook in lots of boiling water (c) don’t stir (d) don’t overcook

This is the recipe which we made at Croydon High School for Girls. We used a small foil baking tray 20 x 16 x 3 cms lined with baking paper.

50g block butter
85g caster sugar
35g soft brown sugar
60g Bourneville chocolate
1 tablespoon cocoa powder
2 teaspoons golden syrup
50g plain flour
¼ teaspoon baking powder
1 egg
50g white chocolate drops/walnuts or Oreos

Preheat oven to 180C/Fan 160C/Gas Mark 4

Grease the Baking Tray with a little butter and line with paper

Put the chocolate on a chopping board and chop finely with a cook’s knife

Put the butter, sugar, chopped chocolate and syrup in a saucepan. Melt gently over low heat stirring with a wooden spoon. Take off the heat and cool a little

Crack the egg into a measuring jug and loosen with a fork

Measure the flour, baking powder and cocoa powder into an ingredient bowl and mix together with your fingers

Pour the egg into the mixture in the pan and mix.

Sieve the flour mixture into the pan and fold in

Pour mixture into the tray and sprinkle with white chocolate drops, walnuts or broken up bits of Oreos. Bake for about 20 minutes until risen and firm around the edges

It should be a little moist in the middle – it will firm up on cooling

Cool in the tin. The top will crack and sink a little – don’t worry, this is normal

This quantity will generously ice 12 cupcakes. If you want just a single star of icing in the middle you will be able to reduce it.

The proportions are easy to remember 150g butter and 300g icing sugar + flavouring of choice. Unsalted block butter is essential here (but you don’t need the expensive stuff – we use Sainsbury’s basics). It needs to be really soft (not melted) so dice it and leave at room temperature for a few hours. Put into a large mixing bowl and whisk (with an electric whisk for ease) until pale in colour. Whisk in the icing sugar and keep whisking for a good 5 minutes until it is almost white. . Don’t skip this bit! Then whisk in the flavouring. For this amount we use about 2 teaspoons vanilla extract.

To stop the icing sugar flying everywhere, use a wooden spoon to mix it with the butter before using the whisk. Alternatively drape a clean tea-towel over your hand and the whisk.

There are dozens of recipes for cupcakes but we use the basic sponge mixture of 120g butter, 120g caster sugar, 120g self-raising flour and 2 eggs. This will produce 12 cakes that don’t overfill the cases leaving room for the icing.

We make the sponge in the “traditional” way rather than by the “all-in-one method”. We feel that the process of making a cake should be as enjoyable as the end product so why rush it. In any case we think that the sponge is lighter in texture when made by the traditional way.

So….cream the butter (we use Stork Margarine) and sugar until it is pale in colour and fluffy. A wooden spoon is just fine for this small amount. Crack the eggs into a jug and loosen with a fork. Add the eggs SLOWLY to the creamed mixture, beating well after each addition. If the mixture looks as though it might curdle (or split) add a teaspoon of the flour. Now, lose the wooden spoon and pick up a large metal spoon or a flexible spatula. Sieve the flour over the mixture and FOLD in until you cannot see any dry bits of flour. Folding means cutting through the mixture and lifting it over on top of itself. If you beat instead of folding you will develop the gluten in the flour which will make the cake chewy.

Divide equally between the cases (an ice-cream scoop makes the job really easy) and bake for about 15-20 minutes or until the cakes are risen and golden brown. Pop a cocktail stick into the centre of one and, if it comes out clean, they are done! Remove from the tin and cool on a rack before icing.

Here is a recipe for home-made “pot noodles” that are popular in class. The recipe is only a guide as you can use any mix of vegetables available. If you keep a bag of mixed diced vegetables in the freezer and noodles in the cupboard you can make these at any time! Be cautious with the curry powder or paste – you only want a hint of spice.

1 spring onion
1 small diced carrot
2/3 mushrooms
Handful each of frozen sweetcorn & peas
½ teaspoon curry powder or paste
60g medium egg noodles
Sunflower oil

1. Trim the spring onion and cut into fine discs.

2. Wipe the mushrooms and cut into small pieces

3. Peel the carrot and cut into dice (about the same size as the peas)

4. Bring a pan of water to the boil and tip in the noodles. Cook for about 4 minutes and then drain.

5. Wipe out the pan and add the oil. When it shimmers, add the onion and carrot. Cook for a few minutes to soften. Then add the mushrooms and curry powder/paste. Cook, stirring, for a few minutes until the curry powder smells fragrant.

6. Add the peas, sweetcorn and noodles and a splash of water to moisten.

7. Heat through for a few minutes and then serve.

Sticky Tips

Any kind of noodle works well although we prefer Sharwoods Medium Egg
Noodles. If you have a stock cube then dissolve this in the water before
cooking the noodles (for extra flavour).

Don’t cook the noodles too far ahead as they will stick together if allowed to
go cold.

This recipe is adapted from one by Lindsay Bareham who writes for the Times Newspaper. It is great when you want the comfort of a slow cooked meal but haven’t the time to cook the really slow cuts of meat such as chuck or shin of beef. If you use frying steak the meat may cook in as little as 20 minutes. In class we used Skirt of Beef. This is a rather neglected cut of meat these days and not easy to come by. We can only buy it locally from Morrisons in Sutton. It is very lean and has an open grain. Perfect for this recipe and also for Cornish Pasties.


Sunflower oil
3 rashers streaky bacon
1 large onion
2 large field mushrooms
250g tender, lean frying steak
1 bay leaf
1 tablespoon flour
1 wine glass red wine
½ chicken stock cube dissolved in 350ml hot water
1 teaspoon redcurrant jelly
3 medium carrots
½ tbsp freshly chopped parsley
salt and freshly milled black pepper

1. Peel and halve the onion. Dice one half and slice the other.

2. Trim the meat and slice it across the grain in thin diagonal strips and toss in the flour.

3. Heat the oil in the sauté pan and soften the onion without colouring. This will take about 10-15 minutes.

4. While this is happening peel the carrots and cut into chunks. Wipe the mushrooms and slice or cut in half. Dice the bacon.

5. When the onions are soft remove to a plate. Fry the bacon until it starts to colour and then add to the onions.

6. Add more oil to the pan if necessary and turn up the heat. Brown the meat, a few pieces at a time, and remove to the plate.

7. Pour in the wine and let it bubble and reduce for a few minutes. Then pour in the water and add the rest of the ingredients except the parsley, salt and pepper.

8. Bring the sauce to a simmer and cook for about 20-40 minutes or until the meat is tender, the carrots are cooked and the sauce has thickened. DON’T ALLOW IT TO BOIL AS THIS WILL ONLY TOUGHEN THE MEAT!!

9. Taste and adjust seasoning by adding a little more salt, pepper or redcurrant jelly. Finish by adding the chopped parsley.

Sticky Tips

If the sauce has not thickened enough at the end of the cooking time:-

1. Transfer the meat and vegetables to a warm serving dish and boil the liquid rapidly to reduce or
2. Thicken the sauce with “roux” (equal quantities of butter and plain flour mixed to a paste). Just add pea sizes pieces at a time, whisking hard to prevent lumps forming. Roux will keep for a long time in the fridge.

Serve with creamy mash and a green vegetable.

Ingredients Special Utensils

125g plain white flour* Baking tray lined with baking paper
125g wholemeal flour* Fork
7g bicarbonate of soda (1 teaspoon)
5g salt (1 teaspoon)
250g buttermilk
55g sunflower seeds
55g Feta cheese
55g sundried tomatoes in oil
1 teaspoon dried oregano

Plus a handful of extra flour shaping the dough

1. Set oven to 220c FAN 200c GAS 7

2. Place the flour, salt and bicarbonate of soda into a Mixing Bowl and
mix gently with your fingertips

3. Cut the Feta cheese and tomatoes into tiny dice and add to the bowl together with the sunflower seeds and oregano. Mix again.

4. Put a handful of dry flour on the worktop ready to turn the dough out
onto it.

5. Pour the buttermilk into the mixing bowl (all in one go!) and mix quickly
and gently with a Fork.

6. Finish mixing the dough by hand in the bowl (DON’T KNEAD). Scoop
it out and roll it around in the flour to make it easier to handle. Be careful not to work the dry flour into the dough.

7. Form into a rough disc and place on the baking tray. Cut into 4 (almost
down to the tray)

8. Bake immediately! It will take about 20 minutes.

* You don’t have to use strong “bread” flour.

Buttermilk substitutes

Buttermilk is sometimes hard to come by
Alternative (1) Sour milk
Alternative (2) 50% plain yoghurt and 50% milk (full fat is always best)
Alternative (3) Fresh milk soured with 1 teaspoon lemon juice (you will also need 1 teaspoon crème of tartar added to the dry mix – this is essential, so don’t skip it!)

The reason for the cross

Folklore has it that it releases the fairies but actually it just helps the bread to cook right through

To make buttermilk
Fill a clean jar with milk, almost to the top. Stir in the dregs of your last lot of buttermilk. Leave at room temperature until it has slightly solidified. Then pop in fridge. Should last about 10 days before smelling sharp. Refresh the culture once a week to keep it fresh.

2 chicken breasts
50g rice
50g balti curry paste
1 small onion
1 clove garlic
75g coconut milk
50g crunchy peanut butter
Sunflower oil
Fresh coriander (optional)

Soak 4 wooden skewers in water for at least 30 minutes.

Cut the chicken into large cubes and rub with oil and curry paste. Leave to marinate while you prepare the rest of the ingredients.

Heat the sauté pan and add some oil. Soften the onion and then the garlic. Don’t allow them to take on any colour! Spoon off any excess oil. Add the peanut butter and coconut milk and mix everything together to make a sauce. (Keep the heat low and stir all the time, or the sauce may split)

Thread the chicken onto the skewers and cook under a pre-heated grill.

Add any leftover marinade to the sauce and simmer for about 5 minutes to thicken.

Serve with boiled rice. Sprinkle with coriander if wished.

Sticky Tips
If the sauce splits mix in a paste of cornflour and simmer, stirring, until it comes together again. (About ½ teaspoon of cornflour mixed to a paste with a little cold water should be enough)

Ingredients Utensils

4 good quality pork sausages Small roasting pan (metal is best)
Sunflower oil
60g plain flour
150ml milk (whole or semi-skimmed)
1 egg
¼ teaspoon salt
Freshly ground pepper
Few thyme leaves, dried or fresh (optional)

1. Preheat oven to 220C/Fan 200C/Gas Mark 7

2. Put the sausages in the roasting pan and drizzle with oil. Roast for about 20 minutes or until golden brown.

3. Make the batter – put the flour, salt and a few grinds of pepper into a Mixing Bowl. Make a well in the middle and crack the egg into this. Add half the milk and mix with a balloon whisk until smooth, then whisk in the rest of the milk.

4. When the sausages are brown, add a little more oil (just enough to cover the base of the pan. Heat in the oven until almost smoking.

5. Pour the batter in the pan as quickly as possible and return the pan to the oven.

6. Bake for about 20 minutes or until the batter has risen, is golden brown and crisp around the edges.

½ onion, peeled and sliced, 2 teaspoons soft brown sugar, 1 tablespoon plain flour, 150ml water, ½ chicken stock cube, ½ teaspoon wholegrain mustard, ½ teaspoon Worcestershire sauce, a few thyme leaves.

Soften the onion in oil for about 15 minutes. Stir in sugar and cook for another 5 minutes. Add the flour, then gradually add the water, stirring continuously. Bring to a simmer, then add the stock cube, mustard, Worcestershire sauce and thyme leaves. Simmer for about 5-10 minutes, stirring occasionally.


Ingredients Utensils

Base Baking sheet
250g strong (bread) white flour Mixing bowl
150g tepid water Spatula/wooden spoon
½ teaspoon instant (fast action) yeast 30 cm pizza pan
1 teaspoon salt
1 tablespoon olive oil + extra for drizzling

75g Passata
1 teaspoon dried oregano + extra for sprinkling
1 clove garlic
125g ball Mozzarella
Handful of cherry tomatoes
Parmesan cheese
Salt and pepper
Few leaves of fresh basil (optional)

Measure the water and olive oil into a mixing bowl. Then add the flour, yeast and salt. Mix quickly with a spatula or wooden spoon.
Smear a little olive oil onto the worktop and tip out the dough. Knead for about 5 minutes until smooth and elastic. Form into a ball. Cover and leave to rest while you make the topping.
Put the Passata into a bowl and add the crushed garlic and oregano. Season with salt and pepper
Drain the mozzarella cheese and dry with paper towel. Either slice or break up into chunks
Wash and dry the cherry tomatoes. Cut into halves
Grate the Parmesan cheese
Put an upturned baking sheet into the oven to heat up

Lightly oil the worktop and roll out the pizza very thinly (about 25cms across). Lift onto the pizza pan.
Spread the tomato sauce over the pizza with the back of a spoon. Top with mozzarella and cherry tomatoes. Sprinkle with some more oregano and drizzle with olive oil.
Put the baking tray/pizza pan on top of the preheated oven tray and bake for 15-20 minutes or until the topping is bubbling and golden brown and the base looks crispy.
Sticky Tips
1. This is a recipe for a quick pizza. Because the base is really thin you don’t need to leave the bread dough to rise. If the dough is too wet then just add a bit more flour.

2. You need to be quite firm when rolling the dough out as the “gluten” in the dough makes it elastic. If you have difficulty in rolling out, just let the dough rest on the worktop for 10 minutes and try again. It should have relaxed quite a bit in this time.

3. Only use a little sauce and topping so that the pizza base doesn’t get too wet.

4. Instead of Passata try a small can of tomatoes blitzed in a food processor or tomato paste mixed with a little olive oil. (Use sun-dried tomato paste as regular tomato paste tastes bitter).

5. To see this pizza being made watch the video


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