Self-isolation can wear anyone down, especially since it looks like we’re in this for the long haul. Therefore it becomes extra-important to find activities that not only distract, but also make life a bit better for yourself and those around you - so let’s do some cooking!
In this article I’ve included 3 recipes that aren’t difficult to make, use fairly standard ingredients and (most importantly) taste really good! Enjoy - may they make this period of quarantine just a little bit easier!
This is an old family recipe - not to be confused with flatbread, it makes a wide, flat loaf perfect for dipping in soup. It is easy to make using a breadmaker, but I’ve included a traditional version if you don’t have access to one right now.
Makes one 30x20cm loaf
- 5g dried yeast (instant)
- 150g strong white bread flour
- 150g wholemeal bread flour
- 1 ½ tsp salt
- 1 tbsp oil, plus extra for oiling
- 215ml water (room temperature)
- 2 tbsp paprika
- 25g hard cheese, grated very finely (Parmesan is perfect, strong cheddar works fine too)
Method - Breadmaker
1. Add the yeast, flours, salt, oil and water to the breadmaker, following the manufacturer’s instructions.
2. Set for the ‘pizza’ setting - this should take about 45 minutes to work through the cycle.
3. When the breadmaker is done, tip the dough onto an oiled work surface, and knead lightly for 5 minutes.
4. Lightly roll out the dough to a rectangle 30cm x 20cm.
5. Cover the dough with a damp tea towel and leave in a warm place for 15-20 minutes to rise.
6. Preheat oven to 220C.
7. Sprinkle the paprika and cheese over the top of the dough.
8. Bake for 15 minutes until golden, then place on a wire rack to cool.
Method - Traditional
1. Mix the yeast, flours and salt in a large bowl. Make a hollow in the centre and pour in the oil and water.
2. Using a large spoon stir firmly until all the ingredients are incorporated into a wet dough.
3. Put some oil onto your hands and tip the dough onto an oiled work surface. Knead the dough vigorously for 8-10 minutes until it forms a strong, elastic dough that is far less sticky.
4. Cover the dough with a damp tea towel and leave in a warm place for 30 minutes to rise.
5. Tip the dough onto an oiled work surface, and knead lightly for 5 minutes.
6. Lightly roll out the dough to a rectangle 30cm x 20cm.
7. Cover the dough with a damp tea towel and leave in a warm place for 15-20 minutes to rise.
8. Preheat oven to 220C.
9. Sprinkle the paprika and cheese over the top of the dough.
10. Bake for 15 minutes until golden, then place on a wire rack to cool.
Boston Baked Beans
This is a personal favourite of mine - I’ve been tinkering with this recipe for years, and it’s the best thing when you need some comfort food! If you want to make the dish veggie-friendly you can replace the Worcestershire Sauce with some soy or fish sauce, and substitute the bacon with halloumi. If you do that, keep a close eye on the pot and stir frequently, since the halloumi likes to stick to the bottom of the pan, and it’s a real pain to remove! This recipe is easy to double - or even triple - depending on the amount of people you have to feed.
- 1 red onion, chopped
- 200g bacon, chopped
- 2 garlic cloves, crushed
- 1 1/2 tsp smoked paprika
- 1 tsp ground cumin
- 1/4 tsp cayenne pepper
- Good dash Worcestershire sauce
- 1 tbsp tomato puree
- 1 tin chopped tomatoes (400g)
- 1 vegetable stock cube, crumbled into powder
- 1 tin haricot beans (400g), drained and rinsed
1. Heat a pan with a spray of oil, and cook the onion over a medium heat for 6-8 mins, until soft.
2. Add the bacon and fry for 3-4 minutes.
3. Add the garlic, spices and Worcestershire Sauce, and cook for a further minute.
4. Add the tomato purée, stirring the mixture for a minute to coat evenly.
5. Add the tomatoes and crumbled stock cube, salt and pepper.
6. Simmer for 20-25 mins, stirring occasionally, until the If too dry, add a splash of water.
7. Add the beans, stir to evenly coat, and leave to cook for a final 5 minutes.
8. Serve the beans over baked potatoes with a dollop of sour cream, or on toast. Enjoy!
Chocolate Chip Hazelnut Cookies
These cookies are just the thing to give your coffee break a boost, or to make the children happy - lots of chocolate and nuts and a great crunch! They require a mixer to make - since the quantities aren’t enormous a good hand mixer should suffice, or a stand mixer allows you to just press a button and let it do the work for you. Use whatever type of chocolate chips you like: milk, dark, white or a mixture!
Makes approximately 30
- 115g plain flour
- 1 tsp baking powder
- Pinch of salt
- 75g butter, softened
- 115g caster sugar
- 50g light brown sugar
- 1 egg
- 1 tsp vanilla essence
- 125g chocolate chips
- 50g chopped hazelnuts
1. Preheat oven to 180C. Grease 2 or 3 baking sheets with a little bit of oil and set aside.
2. Use a fine sieve to sift the flour, baking powder and salt into a small bowl and mix well.
3. Put the butter and both sugars into a larger bowl and cream together using an electric mixer. Beat in the egg and vanilla essence.
4. Add the flour mixture to the bowl and mix well on a low speed until fully blended together.
5. Stir in the chocolate chips and half of the chopped hazelnuts. Mix well so they are evenly spaced through the dough.
6. Drop teaspoons of the mixture onto the baking sheets, spacing well apart. Each cookie should be about 2cm big - you will probably need multiple baking sheets to fit all the dough.
7. Flatten the cookies lightly with a wet fork, then sprinkle the rest of the hazelnuts over the top. Press them lightly into the surface.
8. Bake in batches for 10-12 minutes each, until golden. Transfer to a wire rack with a spatula, and leave to cool.