Tuesday, 29 March 2011

Mocha Coconut Clusters - Random Recipes and new Kenco Millicano

Whilst I had this months Random Recipe challenge somewhere in the back of my mind, Dom kindly reminded me over twitter the other night that it was due soon. As promised, I went immediately to the bookshelves, and with his advice on which shelf to choose (five to choose from, excluding the two magazine shelves!), plus the guidance that it must be book number 18 – I pulled out a book titled Sweet Treats: 30 minutes or Less that I had picked up several years back cheaply but I had never made anything from it before. Though I got off lightly, book number 19 was an awful book involving pre-packaged crap from the 1980’s!

The first recipe I flicked too was titled ‘Mexican glazed Pumpkin. Erm yeah no, sorry, I am cheating, its not exactly pumpkin season and in general it was never going to happen! I decided to re-flick at random and fortunately the book opened at Mocha Coconut Clusters! Far more to my taste! Also I had everything in the cupboards which sealed the deal!

Makes 30 (ish)

Ingredients – see notes after!

115g milk chocolate
2 tbsp butter -
1tsp instant coffee granules
55g desiccated coconut

Notes: –

a) I used Tesco’s 33% cocoa Ecuador milk chocolate, despite being more of a plain chocolate girl I rather liked this one, was smooth and creamy.

b) 2 tbsp butter – what an awkward measurement?! Nearly broke my plastic measuring spoon trying to carve
it! Roughly weighed in at 25g.

c) Coffee – I used new Kenco Millicano, which is also my new favourite instant coffee, though it tastes more like filter coffee! Please see the bottom of this post for more information about it.

d) 55g coconut is a lie! I made the recipe up as per the instructions, tried to spoon onto the baking tray but it spread out rather than 'clustered'. I scraped the mixture back in the pan, added about 4 heaped dessert spoons more of coconut until it was more solidified and able to form into clusters, rather than smoosh!

So after all that, if you still fancy having a go, they are actually very quick and easy to make, and more importantly I rather like them! The initial taste is the chocolate, then comes the crispy coconut and its texture, then a gorgeous coffee flavour hits you gently, yet firmly. Yum! Though strictly for coffee lovers only!

1) Gently melt the butter and chocolate together. The recipe suggests doing this in a bowl over simmering water; however I use Meyer Analon saucepans which have some fancy coating and never bother with this stage!

2) Remove from the heat and stir in the coffee until its dissolved

3) Stir in the coconut, referring to above guidance, use a teaspoon (and fingers!) to spoon small heaps onto a tray lined with baking paper.

4) Place in the fridge to set – this doesn’t take very long. Transfer into petit four cases and bring to stand at room temperature briefly before serving. The clusters will keep for several days refrigerated.

With thanks also to Sophie at Golin Harris and Kenco for sending me the lovely goody bag that brightened up a very dull afternoon during my recent bout of illness. I had regrettably been unable to attend an event launching the new Kenco Millicano instant coffee, which is made from a combination of instant coffee and finely-milled beans and is available now in the shops.

Amongst other things, I had been unable to tolerate coffee during the last few months and I had been missing it terribly, so the coffee arrived with perfect timing as better health thankfully returned! I celebrated my return to coffee with a welcome cup of coffee made using the Kenco Millicano, along with the lovely Helen from Fuss Free Flavours who braved our local bus service and very kindly visited me for lunch.

As I've gotten older, I have become quite fussy with my coffee, I like it strong, black and a little sugar to sweeten, (or tar as my dearest likes to refer to it as!) Unfortunately in my first cup I added too much water and it was a little weak for my liking, though on my second cup I perfected it and used my favourite small bunny mug instead, a heaped teaspoon of Millicano and a spoonful of sugar. Bliss! The coffee has all the convenience of an instant yet has the smooth taste of filter coffee, particularly handy as I am currently cafetiere-less and it saves me buying a replacement!

Sunday, 27 March 2011

Fresh From the Oven - Olive and Herb bread

This months Fresh From The Oven challenge was set by the lovely Helen from Fuss Free Flavours and was ‘To bake something yeasted, using flour where you know either where it was grown or where it was milled’.

I did try to find a local supplier of flour but unfortunately didn’t manage to get very far, but then luckily I remembered I had bought some lovely flours bought at a food show from Gilchester Organics. They are based in Northumberland, and both grow and mill their own grains and produce fantastic, flavoursome flours! I remember talking in depth with them about dough and they really were both lovely and helpful to deal with, advising on what would suit my baking style best. Though lugging 3 bags of flour home after on the tube was not so good!

I used a mixture of 4 parts Pizza and ciabatta flour and 1 part Farmhouse flour to make a sort of focaccia style bread; made with basil infused extra virgin olive oil and stuffed with green olives and finished with a little grated Parmesan, sprinkling of Maldon sea salt and a generous pinch of dried Italian herbs.

320 ml warm water
½ tsp sugar
2 tbsp basil infused extra virgin olive oil + extra for finishing
8 green olives, roughly chopped
1 tbsp grated Parmesan
500g bread flour – see above for my combination
1/2 tsp fine sea salt
Good pinch salt flakes for finishing
7g fast action yeast

Combine the water, yeast, sugar and oil, set to one side

Sift together the flour and salt, make a well and stir in nearly all of the liquid, leave a little back as you don’t want the dough too wet but I find different flours can be thirstier than others, you can always add more if needed

Turn out onto the counter and knead*, you shouldn’t need any extra flour; the dough should be pliable, springy and soft, without being sticky. Add a little extra liquid if its too dry. You can either knead by hand for 10 minutes or in a mixer for about 5 minutes, though I do prefer to knead by hand, I find it relaxing!

Form the kneaded dough into a ball, cover and allow to rest somewhere warm for 1-2 hours or until at least doubled in size. I find the airing cupboard most useful for this part!

Knock out the air, you can now shape and garnish with the oil, herbs olives and cheese as desired, leave to rest for up to a further hour or until it has puffed up a little further.

Bake for about 18-22 minutes at 170 fan/ 190o, depending on size of bread, check its cooked through by carefully tapping on the bottom of the bread, it should sound hollow.

Allow to cool on a wire rack and serve with salted butter if desired. Is very good for dipping into the sauces left from dinner! Best eaten on the day of making.

Saturday, 26 March 2011

Hotel Chocolat Easter Giveaway - WINNER

Well after a whopping 70 entries into my delicious Hotel Chocolat competition to win a Serious Dark Fix Easter Egg, I am very pleased to announce the lucky winner is comment number 14 - JACQUELINE!!!

I used random.org to generate the winning comment number.

Jacqueline - please can you e-mail me at anneskitchen1 AT yahoo DOT co.uk with your address so I can arrange delivery of your egg!

Many thanks for all your entries, sorry there could only be one winner!

Thursday, 24 March 2011

Baci Di Ricotta - Forever Nigella #3 “Ciao Italia”

After making several Nigella recipes this month, though none remotely Italian in theme or ingredient, I thought I may have to forgo this months Forever Nigella challenge over at Maison Cupcake…but I ended up making two Nigella recipes on the same day, both involving Italian ingredients! Typical hey!

Then came the challenge of deciding which one to post! Both were good…but the winner had to be the Baci di Ricotta, taken from Nigella's book Feast. (which roughly translate as Ricotta Kisses! How adorable is that!) Over the previous weekend me and D had made Spinach and Ricotta cannelloni together (post to follow shortly), and were left with just over half a tub of ricotta to use up; admittedly not something I use very often and it had been banished it to the back of the fridge, promising myself to turn it into pasta sauce of some kind….However, following a sunny Monday afternoon spent perusing various cook books on the chance of a recipe using up the ricotta, Feast came up trumps with this tempting dessert recipe. Whilst the original recipe called for 200g ricotta, I roughly scaled it down to the leftover quantity and took it from there! Fortunately my rough calculations worked a treat and made myself very popular with D, especially after serving up a meatless dinner that evening!

The Baci di Ricotta puff up so beautifully, do not be tempted to put any more than a teaspoon of mixture into the hot oil! Once cooked and a short rest on kitchen paper, give them a thorough shaking with plenty of icing sugar and serve warm, then watch them disappear! They take no longer to prepare than it takes than to heat the oil, and I will be definitely making them again. They are so light, puffy, sweet and yet not too sweet at the same time. Though I do admit part of me was thinking a little chocolate sauce to dip into next time would not be a bad thing! 

Baci di Ricotta recipe can be found over on the Nigella website, I am not posting here, as per the Forever Nigella rules.

Tuesday, 22 March 2011

Annes Kitchen is four years old today!

276 posts and four whole years later - where has the time gone?! Yep, Annes Kitchen is 4 years old today! Over the past few years I’ve changed and moved things around a fair amount but I am constantly amazed just how many other food blogs there are out there now! Initially it seemed only a handful of us floating around the internet but there is a whole host of you guys n gals now!! I’ve discovered some wonderful recipes from you all, and I am proud to be part of the food blogging community.

Technology has also changed so much in such a short space of time too; I can now even blog directly from my mobile phone! Where would I also be without twitter or even facebook?! I suppose they are a bit like Marmite, you either love them or you hate them; for me personally I find they are a great way of bringing together lots of like-minded people. I’ve met some fantastic people via blogging, attended some inspiring events and also made good friends all over the world – makes Earth seem very small sometimes!

I really do love to write about food (and the occasional drink!) -and it makes me so happy to ramble away about food on here, plus it also helps to ease the burden on friends and family! Most of our conversations nowadays seem to involve food in some form, as I’m sure many other food bloggers do! We always seem to be either planning the next meal or talking about the one we just had!

Blogging has also helped me through both good and bad times in my life and provides me with a constant source of both comfort and inspiration. I’ve shared highs, lows and most importantly, some great recipes! (Well mostly anyway!)

I am at my most happiness pottering away in the kitchen and it gives me so much pleasure to be able to feed my friends and family, they’ve put up with a lot of interesting dishes over the years and have been very patient whilst I’ve learned to cook! Am also sorry to D mostly for ever serving that special fish curry, I promise to never, ever repeat that one!

Food can be simple, complex, fun, challenging and more, but above all it brings people together through both happy and sad times – meal times should be enjoyed, never rushed, and shared with those we love.

And so to end my ramble, we must always remember to Eat, drink (in moderation), to love and be Happy! The last six months have shown me how short life is, don’t put off today for tomorrow, as you never know what it will bring.


Saturday, 19 March 2011

Chocolate and Cranberry Crunchies

I spotted these biscuits recently over at a great baking blog called Cake, Crumbs and Cooking, and after seeing that I had all the ingredients for once in the kitchen, I promptly made them the next morning!

The texture is halfway between a crunchy biscotti and flapjack, and despite thinking I’d made a hash of making them as I had melted butter seemingly everywhere, they came out very successful! I have a fan assisted oven, which normally likes to cinder-ise small bakes so I reduced the temperature to 150o and gave them exactly 16 minutes – they definitely didn’t need any longer!

They are crunchy, chocolatey and fruity, and just perfect for dunking in a good cuppa with falling apart (am currently hooked on new Kenco Millicano)! I used a combination of dark chocolate chips (though didn't manage to put 40g worth in...some might have been, erm gone missing..) and my favourite Craisins  (which are my favourite dried cranberries, as they are so plump and juicy!) though you can play around with the additions...I fancy trying white chocolate chips next time..

These biscuits were very popular and only hung around a short while, even with D who claims to dislike dried cranberries! I can see these being a very regular bake in our home!

You can find the recipe over at Cake, Crumbs and Cooking on this link

You can also see them over at Sweets for a Saturday along with a whole host of delicious sweet treats!

**Also my Hotel Chocolat Giveaway is still open - you have until 25th March to enter!**

Wednesday, 16 March 2011

Hotel Chocolat Easter Giveaway - **COMPETITION HAS CLOSED**

Like I’m sure most people do, I love chocolate, and in particular good, dark chocolate. A day is not complete without chocolate in some form! You can now imagine my glee when this beautiful ‘The Serious Dark Fix’ Easter Egg from Hotel Chocolat arrived, it certainly beats getting hospital letters in the post!!

My dad also shares my taste in chocolate, and so after a sneaky peek in to the box (and several sniffs!!) I then very patiently waited for him to come over for dinner and help me try them out, aren't I a good daughter! Universal decision was that we are now addicted to Hotel Chocolat’s dark chocolate! I also know now what to get Dad for his birthday for once!

The Serious Dark Fix’ consists of two extra thick, dark chocolate shells which hide a selection of dark chocolates, including my all time favourite ‘House Praline’. The chocolate is deliciously dark, silky smooth and just melts in the mouth, the praline leaving a lasting nutty, chocolaty impression on your tastebuds, a real chocolatey treat!

It would be very greedy though for me to keep all this deliciousness to myself, and I rather excitingly have another one to give away to one lucky UK based winner! The competition closes on the 25th March, so enter now to be in with a chance of winning!

To enter the competition, all you have to do is leave me a comment below letting me know your favourite Hotel Chocolat Easter treat, you can see their full Easter range here. (If you are leaving an anonymous comment please leave a contact e-mail incase you win!)

Additionally, to maximise your chance of winning, you can gain an additional three entries by either:

Re-Tweeting this competition, using the T button at the bottom of this post
Following me on twitter @anneskitchen
And by liking my facebook page

Please leave me a separate comment below for each entry you make, if you already ‘like’ or follow me, you can also leave a comment notifying and it will count as an entry.

A winner will be picked using an online randomiser and notified by email, and also here on my blog when the competition closes on the 25th March, so don’t forget to come back and check if you have won!

With thanks to Anurag and Hotel Chocolat

Good luck!

Monday, 14 March 2011

Trifle Trouble for Comic Relief!

Red nose day is on Friday 18th March, and this year Sainsbury's staff have been very busy getting silly, to help raise money for Comic Relief and capturing it all on film. The more Red Noses that Sainsbury's sell, the more silly films they will release. So don't forget to buy your Red Nose now and see what further silliness they get up to!

You can see a very messy Customer Services Manager Brenda on the video below, attempting to make the worlds fastest trifle, whilst being driven around in racing track in a high speed car! I think I would be scared enough just being in the car, yet alone attempting to make a trifle!

Red Nose day helps to raise funds to support those living in difficult circumstances both in the UK and Africa.  You can see the difference that it has made to peoples lives on this link

If you want to help raise money for Comic Relief 2011, you can find lots of funny ideas to help you along, including several food related ones - why not try holding a scrumptious bake sale for your colleagues or even having a baked bean bath! 

This is a sponsored posting on Annes Kitchen

Saturday, 12 March 2011

Thai Spicy Red Bean and Baby corn Curry

The Thai New Year is coming up soon, 13th to 15th April and to help celebrate, Thai Taste sent me a pot of their Red curry paste. A few years back when I first started getting into cooking I completed a cookery course on Thai cookery at a local college, and whilst some of the Thai dishes were just not for me, I did find a few favourites, including this recipe, that I have made some minor tweaks to. This recipe also converted me into liking green beans!

I really love the slight creaminess, and gentle spiciness of this curry and hope you enjoy it too! Be careful with your pastes though, as I find brands do vary greatly in spice levels, it is always easier to add than to takeaway! Thai Tastes paste was quite mild, so you can use a teaspoon quite safely!

Some ingredients can be hard to track down depending where you live and so good quality, ready made curry pastes are very handy. Thai Tastes’ paste contains no nasties and made of all natural ingredients, just how you would make at home. D is not keen on spicy food either so having the paste on standby is ideal for when I want to whip up something just for me to feast upon!

Easy – 10 minutes
Serves 2-4 as a side dish

400g mix of green beans, trimmed and baby corn, halved (you can use just green beans if preferred)
1 tsp red curry paste (see above guidance)
1 garlic clove
100ml coconut milk
4 spring onions, thinly sliced and roughly split between whiter and green parts
2 tsp Nam pla (also known as Fish sauce)
1 tbsp ground roasted peanut, optional
1 stick lemongrass or 2 tsp dried, soaked in hot water
S&P to taste (Nam Pla is quite salty tasting, so best to taste before adding any salt)
1 tbsp sunflower oil
1 tbsp mint and coriander leaves

Blitz together the curry paste, garlic, lemongrass, fish sauce and coconut to make a smooth paste

Blanch the vegetables, refresh in cold water and drain

Heat the oil in a wok, add the whiter spring onion parts and fry for 2 minutes, add the paste and reduce by half, add the vegetables and simmer for 3 minutes, stirring occasionally.

Serve immediately, garnish with peanuts if using, remaining spring onions and a scattering of fresh mint and coriander leaves.

Alongside our curry, I roasted cod fillets, with a topping of finely grated ginger, garlic, lime juice and zest, red chilli, spring onions and a bit of s&p:

And some red pepper and aubergine tempura. Whilst they were nice, and all were eaten, the batter was not as light as I’d hoped. Not sure if it was the recipe or me though! I did manage to accidentally forget to put the first batch actually into the batter after flouring and only realised when I wondered why they looked so pale!

Can you spot my chilli flower in the picture? This has also been entered over this months Create and Carve event, this month being held over at Fuss Free Flavours, don't forget to check back there at the end of the month for the the round-up!

To end our mini Thai feast, I also made these Thai Coconut custards. Whilst the recipe was successful, I am not entirely sure I would make them again, can’t decide if I liked them or not! Neither could my Dad!

Thanks to Clementine at Storm Communications.

Wednesday, 9 March 2011

Mingle Muffins

After setting out to make some sort of cake for dessert with the new bag of sour cherries I randomly picked up last week, I then stumbled by accident across this recipe on the Good to Know website and decided to make muffins instead! Still need to use those cherries though…

These are amongst the easiest muffins I have made and they taste great too! The top of them reminds me a little of that lovely crackle you get on good brownies! They are soft textured and smell so delicious when baking, I could barely wait long enough for them to cool down, just so I could test one of course….the remaining muffins didn’t hang around long!

I was also happy in that I finally got to use my beautiful new gingham muffin cases that I picked up recently from Sainsbury's:

The original recipe calls for plain chocolate chunks but after eating our way through far too many Mingles (mint chocolates) since Christmas, we were left with lots of the dark red ones, which are fondant filled and I decided to use them instead. They worked a treat in the muffins, adding a delicious minty twist and I am now looking at the tub of Celebrations with a curious mind….


250g self-raising flour
25g cocoa powder (I use extra dark Polish cocoa)
2tsp baking powder
125g caster sugar
50g light muscavado sugar
175ml milk
2 large eggs, beaten
100ml sunflower oil
12 Mingles, roughly chopped into small chunks
1tsp vanilla extract

Preheat the oven to 170ºC/ 150o fan (375ºF, gas mark 5).
Makes 12

Line a 12-hole deep muffin tray with paper muffin cases.

Sift together the flour, cocoa and baking powder; stir in the sugar. Add the remaining ingredients and mix lightly together - do not over beat the mixture

Spoon the mixture into the prepared cases. Bake for approximately 20 mins or until golden and springy to the touch. Leave for 10 minutes in the tray and then transfer to a wire rack to cool down.

I’ve also submitted this recipe to the Bake Off over at the Versatile Vegetarian Kitchen, you can see the full round up here on the 11th March.

You can also see my muffins over at Sweets for a Saturday along with a whole host of delicious sweet treats.

Monday, 7 March 2011

Bulghar Wheat with pesto

This was my delicious easy lunch today, firstly cover 75g bulghar wheat with boiling water, cover and allow to 'cook'.

Meanwhile quickly pan fry in olive oil 4 sliced white mushrooms with a little diced onion until golden, stir in a heaped tbsp of your favourite pesto (I used a roasted vegetable one) and some sliced green olives, add the cooked wheat, stir through fresh coriander leaves and season with black pepper, decant into your favourite bowl and grab a fork :)

I had planned to finally use a jar of roasted aubergines with it but on opening, and tasting I quickly abandoned the idea! Have popped it in the fridge but think they will be going in the bin unless someone has a better suggestion?! They are kind of smokey and very soft...

I am also testing my new phones Blogger function so no idea how this will appear!

Wednesday, 2 March 2011

Apple and Blackberry cake

Every week that passes, I am getting more stronger and last week I felt like doing some baking again, I still had a small tub of blackberries stashed in the freezer which I'd picked last summer and after a quick google, I made slight adaptations to this recipe from the National Trust.

This makes a large cake, perfect for partnering with lots of lovely custard or cream! The cake has a really lovely texture and perfect for afternoon tea or for pudding. I thought I'd taken a picture of it dusted all nicely with icing sugar but can't find it..My pictures are also a bit small at the moment, I've just switched mobile phones and not worked out how to upload them in a better size yet!

The original recipe states a 20cm loose bottomed tin, though when I looked at my finished mixture and my 20cm tin it didn't look right, so used a 23cm instead. I wonder if its meant to be a deeper tin, as there is no way it would fit a sandwich tin! 

Firstly, line the tin, I recently picked up a tip from watching Jamie's 30 Minute meals - scrunch up the baking paper under a running tap, then use it to line the tin. It feels so wrong to do but it really works a treat, getting into all the corners and certainly cheaper than me buying the ready made liners!


2 eating apples, peeled, cored and grated + 1 for decoration
Big handful frozen blackberries
250g butter (I used Stork)
250g Self raising flour
1/2 tsp baking powder
4 eggs
1 tsp vanilla extract
150g caster sugar
100g light soft brown sugar + 1 tsp for finishing (recipe states golden caster sugar but had run out)
1 tsp ground cinnamon - optional
Icing sugar to dust

Pre-heat oven 160 fan/ 180o/ Gas 4

Cream together the butter, sugars baking powder, cinnamon and flour, beat in the eggs and vanilla, stir in the apple.

Spoon roughly a third of the mixture into your pan, add a scatter of blackberries, repeat and top with remaining mixture

Take the remaining apple, cored but unpeeled, carefully cut thin slices and use to decorate the top of the cake, placing any remaining blackberries in the middle and sprinkle over a little of the brown sugar and a little dust of cinnamon

Bake for 30 minutes, or until golden, cover tightly with foil and bake for a further 35-40 minutes. Dust with icing sugar and cool in the tin

Cut into 12 slices and serve, preferably still slightly warm from the oven
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