Friday, 31 October 2008

Halloween Cupcakes

This month I finally decided and actually remembered to take part in a blogging event, held over on Sweet and Simple bakes: for Halloween Cupcakes.

I used their base recipe and here are the results, now please don't giggle too much as icing is not a gift of mine and I have not used fondant icing in ages but they don't look too bad!:

Also a group photo:

And my pumpkin!

And I just have to add, though not strictly about food - I am super dooper excited today - not only have we got our Halloween party tonight - lots of lovely food on the menu - I just managed to get tickets to see Take That next year at Wembley!!!!!

Friday, 24 October 2008

Chocolate Custard Muffins

This morning I have to thank the lovely Nic over at for posting recently the recipe from Dan Lepard for Chocolate Custard Muffins - the picture and description were hard to resist and I finally succumbed and made these yesterday, as we had family over for dinner and they went down VERY well!

I'm not sure whether to take this as a compliment or not but one guest actually asked (despite the fact they were still slightly warm and on a cooling rack) whether I had actually made them as they were so good, so good she had two! The proof however was definately all the bowls all the washing-up rack!

The only slight adjustments were a) I have fan oven so reduced to 160o and was spot on (for once!), b) I had run out of dark soft brown sugar so improvised with 60g molasses sugar mixed well with 40g golden caster sugar which seems to have worked very well!

Here is the link if you wish to enjoy them as much as us:

And here is the picture of my batch:

Tuesday, 21 October 2008

Lemon Drizzle cake

After reading about Tana Ramsey's Lemon drizzle cake over on: I feel I should finally share with you all the much loved recipe that I always use and also at the same time write up a recipe from one of my many cookery books! It is really lemony, light and fluffy and will keep around 4 days.

I have made this so many times I have lost count now and after taking it to family a while back I am now blamed for weekend baking duties everytime my cousin comes home with an empty tin from Uni! Sorry Auntie!

This originally appears in Baking: Step by Step, published by Starfire, however this is no longer in print and is republished under another similar guise...we found this out when trying to get another copy for another family member! I have slightly re-written the method as the first 3 times making this recipe from the book I got confused and added things at the wrong time!

Step One:
175g sr flour
125g butter / hard margarine
175g caster sugar
2 pref unwaxed lemons
2 large f/r eggs
Step Two:
2 x 25g gran sugar1) Pre-heat oven to 180o (160o for fan assisted). Beat the butter and caster sugar until fluffy (I use my Kenwood chef as easier)
2) Beat the eggs in a seperate bowl and slowly add, followed by a little of the flour each time until all incorporated
3) Take the first lemon, finely grate the peel (I recommend Microplane) and add to the mix, then juice the lemon and add to the mix, pour into a greased 7 inch square or round tin and smooth over (the original says square but I find it just as good in round tin). Bake for 25 minutes or until a skewer comes away clean, it should be a lovely golden colour
4) Now take 25g of the remaining sugar and place in a small saucepan, grate the rind of the 2nd lemon and reserve, juice the lemon and mix with the sugar and heat until dissolved and starting to go slightly syrupy. Mix the reserved lemon peel with the other 25g of sugar and sprinkle over the cake, prick some holes using a skewer and carefully pour over the syrup - be careful it will be hot! Allow to coool fully and slice as required.

Notes: This is a sticky recipe when you add the topping so is best to use baking parchment, I cheat with Lakelands pre-cut liners!

Monday, 20 October 2008

Pea and Potato soup

This soup wasn't planned but with the weather getting colder all the time and a phone call from the other-half stuck at work it gave me an hour to play with! It also came about as in a time of skint-ness last month I bought a bag of value frozen peas, which just were not tasty enough to serve in normal fashion!

Makes 4-5 bowls
25 minutes

1200ml boiling water
1 vegetable kallo bouillon cube
1/2 onion diced
460g frozen peas
450g baby new potatoes - preferably slightly old, diced
2 tbsp Parmesan
1 tbsp olive oil

1) Mix the stock cube with the boiling water, heat the oil in a large saucepan

2) Add the onion, fry for 3 minutes to give a little colour, add the potatoes and stock and simmer for 20 minutes

3) Add the peas and bring to boil, remove from heat, blitz with a stick blender or processor, stir in the Parmesan, season to taste and serve


This can be frozen in portions - it will look very peculiar but once heated it all 'comes together again' :-) It does lose a little of its vividness but is still acceptable!

The Weekends over and back to the grind

There is always something slightly sad about Monday for me, it means the weekends over and back to cooking quick, albeit normally tasty dinners after work. Half of my weekend I was in my element, pots, pans and flour everywhere, including me despite wearing an apron! The half was boring usual stuff and a naughty but nice hot sausage roll out shopping! Well it was cold outside!

I started off yesterday by making another batch of Italian bread rolls, using a roughly translated recipe from the in-law's and some lovely fresh yeast I was brought back from a friend's holiday (people must hate me when I hear they are going away as I always ask for foodie stuff!) Now I still am tweaking the slightly measurement less recipe but when I get there I will post it on here! This time round I did a mixture of plain and stone ground wholemeal and used EVOO instead of plain olive oil and was really pleased with the results as had a bit more 'bite' compared to using just plain bread flour and even better they were not rock hard this morning!
I used my new silicon 'tin' but think will stick to lining with paper as it was a pain to get out and didn't look as presentable after its upside-down wrestle!

Whilst they were 'proving' in the airing cupboard (note: this is not a good way to surprise your other half when he is looking for tea towels!) I found two un-waxed lemons in the fridge that needed using up so made my favourite lemon drizzle cake recipe, half which has already vanished! Several pieces admittedly were eaten with chocolate custard (birds + nutella = interesting chocolate custard...)

Now for some reason I have never been much of a pork eater but rather oddly in the last year I have really started enjoying it and trying new cuts, the plan for Sunday lunch yesterday was a roast chicken but there were no free-rangers left on Saturday night when I was shopping (yes I do have the most exciting weekends!) and so I ended up with an organic boneless pork shoulder joint and it tasted great, took longer than it said on the front (might have misread!) but the meat was still really tender and relatively easy to carve (not something I am gifted with!) am planning to use the leftover meat tonight but have only come up with gently reheating in gravy so far! Whatever it will be its being eaten with mash and savoy cabbage!

Hope everyone else had great foodie weekends :-)

Wednesday, 15 October 2008

Summer Feta and pesto Pasta salad

Following on from my earlier post in connection to this Friday's Child Poverty Day - 17/10/2008, this is one of my first suggestions for your packed lunch, which features quite often as my lunch:

Makes one lunch bowl, serve fresh and hot or allow to chill

50g conchigilette or similar baby pasta shapes (about 6 tbsp)
30g appx feta cheese, crumbled up
1 tbsp green pesto
1 inch chunk cucumber, diced

Cook the pasta as per instructions, normally around 8 minutes, drain well and mix in the pesto, followed by the cucumber and feta and eat

Tuesday, 14 October 2008

Creamy Mushrooms with Gorganzola on toast

Now I love most vegetables but mushrooms are a favourite of mine, sadly the beloved hates them even being in the house, so tonight I had a girlfriend over and he was packed off to his mums whilst we had our mushroom fest!

No piccies due to greed taking 1st priorty I am sorry! This is our re-creation / amalgamation of two favourite past dishes from Baroosh and Pizza Express!

Creamy Mushrooms with Gorganzola on toast
20 minutes

Serves two, possibly four as a starter ;-)

50ml double cream
45g wild rocket
150g button mushrooms, quartered
250g chestnut mushrooms, thickly sliced
Sea salt
2 cloves garlic minced
1 very small onion diced
Freshly ground black pepper
1 tbsp olive oil
1tsbp nice EVOO (for drizzling)
10ml apx balsamica de modena - use the good stuff! (apx 2 tbsp)
90g apx gorganzola, sliced and diced
2 tbsp grated parmesan
2 tbsp Vermouth
1 half size french stick / baguette
1 tbsp butter

1) Pre-heat the grill to medium, slice the baguette in half, then half again (into four pieces!) Heat the butter and olive oil in a large frying / saute pan

2) Depending how fiery your grill is, place the bread under and keep an eye on it, add the onion and garlic to the pan and gently fry, add the mushrroms and cook for about 4 mins, turning now and then - don't let them burn you want them just going golden! Add the vermouth and simmer for 2 mins (check the bread - you want it very lightly toasted)

3) Season the mushrooms and remove the bread from the grill, sprinkle over the parmesan and 2/3 of the gorganzola, add the remaining gorganzola to the mushrooms and place the bread back under the grill until just melting

4) Turn the heat down on the mushrooms and stir in the cream and drizzle 1/2 the balsamic vinegar in and mix gently, remove from the heat

5) Remove the bread from the grill and place on plates as required, spoon over all the mushrooms and sauce, top with the rocket and drizzle lightly with the good EVOO and remaining balsamic vinegar

Enjoy - we certainly did! :)

(I have entered this in the OFM reader recipe awards so crossed fingers!!)

Thursday, 9 October 2008

Jelly without the wobble!

I don't normally post my disasters/ mishaps / nightmares etc due to embarrassment but yesterday my jelly didn't set and this is the second time in two weeks a dessert has gone wrong, of course both times when guests are over! Maybe I should just stick to the savoury side of life!

Luckily I had my stash of cookies so offered them out but the sad coconut lime jelly is in the it even 'safe' to eat un-set jelly? It is halfway between liquid and set and to be honest looks pretty unappetizing...I think I measured it all out correctly (not exactly rocket science!) and its never happened before; I am wondering if its to do with our slightly antequated fridge, as noticed once again it was not as cold as it should be, either the beloved is trying to confuse me and is turning the setting down or its developed its own little mind and is turning itself down...might be time to contact the landlord...again!

Friday, 3 October 2008

Are your cupboards fit to bursting like mine?

I have been a very bad girl again this week, despite making promises to the beloved not to buy anymore kitcheneilia I found myself alone in Tesco the other night and quite accidentally buying a very large and shiny blue terracotta oven-proof casserole. This is on top of my Dad also very kindly bringing me over a very nice cream souffle dish this week...

Trying to justify to myself, I have indeed been looking to buy a proper 'casserole' for a very long time and looked at many, even buying at one point only to return it after realising the product description was wrong and was not actually suitable for putting in the oven at a decent temperature (thanks Amazon!) Deep down inside I still am coveting a Le Creuset one but they are just that bit too heavy for me to lift, not that my new terracotta one is light by any means but I can at least lift it with food in! I christened the aforesaid pan last night by making split pea and ham soup, which was lovely if a little thick!

So now I have a dilema as despite moving into a much larger home with a much larger kitchen last year, my cupboards are full and the new pan has taken up residence on the hob, not ideal. The trouble is I just can't quite bear to part with any other dishes, despite the fact this does replace what several of they do...
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