30 Apr 2012

Mini Carrot Cakes

I think it is a given that I love kitchen kit and gadgets. A new addition to my bakeware collection is my 12 cup loose-based mini sandwich tin from Lakeland. I had only just purchased it at full price when I saw them advertising it in the sale - just my luck. The tin has push out bases and you can remove the cakes easily without damaging them.  If you grease the tin with Cake Release the cakes will come out very easily. 

You can make lots of mini sweet treats in this tin, and in one of their mini brochures that come with a million other brochures inside my Sunday magazine, I saw this recipe for mini carrot cakes. I adapted the recipe and used only half the walnuts suggested and replaced them with raisins. The cakes get lovely and sticky after a day or so and although mine didn't make the freezer, I can't see any reason why they shouldn't freeze successfully.

You will need:  150g plain flour, 1 tsp bicarbonate of soda, 1 tsp baking powder, 1/2 tsp all spice, 150g light brown sugar, 250 grated carrots, 50g finely chopped dried apricots, 50g finely chopped walnuts, 50g raisins, 150ml vegetable oil, 2 beaten eggs, 1/2 tsp vanilla extract.  

Lemon cream cheese icing:  50g butter, 75g full-fat cream cheese, ¼ tsp vanilla extract, 100g sifted icing sugar, 1 tsp lemon curd.

1.   Preheat the oven to 180°C and grease the tin, preferably with Cake Release.
2.   Sieve - flour, bicarbonate of soda, baking powder and all spice.
3.   Add to a mixing bowl.
4.   Stir in the sugar, carrots, apricots, walnuts and raisins.
5.   Pour in the vegetable oil.
6.   Add the eggs and vanilla extract.
7.   Beat until combined.
8.   Scoop into the tin.
9.   Bake for 30 minutes until risen and set.
10. Leave in the tin for 5 minutes.
11. Turn out onto a wire rack to cool.
12.  Make the filling:
13.  Beat the butter.
14.  Add the cream cheese, lemon curd and vanilla extract.
15.  Stir in the icing sugar and mix.
16.  Slice the cakes in half.
17.  Spread with the cream cheese filling.
18.  Dust with icing sugar.

23 Apr 2012

Roasted Tomato, Basil and Parmesan Quiche

We have had a lovely outing to Liverpool to see a beautiful new born baby girl and her proud mummy and daddy.

I enjoy wandering around Liverpool and didn't need any persuading to revisit Delifonseca in Stanley Street for lunch.  There is a wonderful deli downstairs and upstairs they serve freshly made food. It is close to The Cavern and if you are nearby and need lunch/dinner which is made to a high standard, you can't go wrong, they also have a restaurant at Dockside, Liverpool. When I go out for lunch, I mostly choose the vegetarian option, and Delifonseca served me a fabulous quiche.  I hadn't made a quiche for some time and found this delicious recipe on the BBC GoodFood website.

   To go along side the quiche I made this crunchy rice salad.

20 Apr 2012

Cauliflower Cheese Soup with Parmesan Wafers

This is the second cauliflower cheese soup recipe on my blog. To be truthful I only made the soup so that I could eat the Parmesan wafers and they are so easy to make, you will never look back. My other recipe was by Jamie Oliver and if you look at my previous posting you will see why his soup is so delicious.

The recipe comes from Woman&Home Dinner Tonight and is a really good quarterly magazine for recipe ideas, unfortunately I haven't seen it on the magazine racks in the shops recently.

The weather seems to be a little crazy, sun, wind, rain and hailstones, so perhaps I can be forgiven for posting yet another cauliflower cheese soup recipe.

Serves: 4

You will need: 25g butter, 1 chopped onion, 1 chopped leek (reserve some of the green part to garnish), 1 chopped cauliflower, 700ml vegetable stock, 600ml milk, 75g grated Cheddar cheese

1. Add the butter to a pan and melt, add the chopped leek and onion. Cover with a lid and cook over a gentle heat for 5 minutes until soft.
2. Add the cauliflower, stock and milk. Bring to the boil and simmer for 35 minutes, covered until the cauliflower is tender. Season.
3. Cool the soup and pour into a food processor or liquidizer and blitz until smooth.
4. Add the Cheddar cheese, reheat, pour into bowls and garnish with chopped green leek.

Parmesan Wafers

Line a baking sheet with parchment. Sprinkle heaped tablespoons of freshly grated Parmesan in little piles on top and bake for 5 minutes at 200°C/Fan 180°C/Gas 6 until melted. Lift off the paper and cool.

15 Apr 2012

Leek, Broccoli and Stilton Soup - National Stilton Week 15 - 21 April 2012

Leek, Broccoli and Stilton cheese are a match made in heaven. The recipe is by food writer Tamasin Day-Lewis and is from her book Tamasin's Kitchen Bible.
Whilst I was growing up Stilton cheese always seemed to be in the house. I must admit though it wasn't to my taste, it was a cheese the grownups ate, and mostly with celery, another one for the grownups. I never appreciated this magnificent cheese when I lived in the shires, for me it has been an acquired taste.

Long Clawson Dairy or Tuxford & Tebbutt Stilton cheese were the ones favoured by my family because these were our local cheese makers, but when I eventually discovered Stilton cheese it was Colston Bassett for me, I think this is because it is creamier than some of the others. A digestive biscuit with a slab of Stilton on top is heavenly, my husband says I make him want to weep, and it's a waste of good cheese.

Recipe: Leek, Broccoli and Stilton Soup
Serves: 4

1 small chopped onion, 2 tbsp olive oil, 30g butter, 3 finely chopped leeks, head of broccoli chopped, 1.2 litres chicken stock, 150ml milk or cream, up to 55g Stilton to garnish, black pepper.

1. Add the oil and butter to the pan and cook the onion for a few minutes.
2. Add the leeks and broccoli to the onion, cook for five minutes.
3. Add the hot stock to the pan and bring to a simmer, cook until the broccoli is just tender. When cooked add the cream. Allow the soup to cool.
4. Return the soup to the pan and reheat gently.
5. Pour into dishes and garnish with Stilton cheese and a grinding of black pepper.

A couple more postings on my blog using Stilton Cheese - Long Clawson Dairy, Cooking Creatively with Cheese and Broccoli and Stilton Soup with Stilton Croutons.

11 Apr 2012

Chocolate Chip and Banana Cupcakes

I've made this recipe so many times now, there are always over-ripe bananas in my fruit bowl. The blacker the banana, the lighter the sponge will be. My favourite cupcakes are always going to be the ones topped with chocolate flake, even though some of them were decorated with chocolate eggs. The puddle of chocolate on top of the cupcakes is a mixture of dark chocolate and unsalted butter gently melted together.

The recipe is from one of my favourite food writers Annie Bell who is the principal cookery writer for YOU Magazine. I always tear out the recipe section from the magazine and tuck them away in my Annie Bell cookery books for future use.

1 Apr 2012

Hot Cross Buns: Easter Baking

Hot Cross Buns are a favourite of mine. Unfortunately, the ones we buy aren't very big and I love a Hot Cross Bun with a bit of attitude!

I made my dough in the bread machine, it never lets me down. The recipe is from one of my favourite books - The Bread Book by Sara Lewis. There are instructions for making by hand or using a bread machine. Also, comprehensive step by step instructions to guide you, if you have never made a loaf with a bread machine. Shaping techniques and baking know-how are also included in the book.

The crosses are easy to pipe, but the flour and water paste is pretty unpleasant. My husband had to try his best to get the stuff into a disposable piping bag for me, it's a two man job, one holding the piping bag and the other trying to get the paste from the bowl into the bag. Don't even be tempted to use a reusable bag because you will regret it! I think it's best if I draw a veil over what the paste looks like, it tastes good though.

My buns were light and spicy, the glaze was lovely and sticky. They don't contain the dreaded peel, but I think I would grind some peel with granulated sugar next time, they could have done with a hint of citrus and a few more raisins would have been good too.

They are perfect fresh, freeze well and are fabulous toasted. Now I have a freezer of very sticky Hot Cross Buns.