30 Dec 2014

Carrot and Leek Soup - Recipe

Carrot and Leek Soup
After all the eating over Christmas a bowl of freshly made soup is perfect.  I made mine in the soup maker I was kindly sent for review a few weeks ago.

Lets be honest some gadgets we purchase aren't going to get used as much as we would like but hubby and I love this soup maker.  From thinking about making soup to serving up takes all of 30 minutes and my new kitchen toy is definitely one of the best gadgets I have in my kitchen.

Hubby needs to lose some weight, I don't believe in diets, and making bowls of warm, comforting soup will be a great way to eat loads of veg, it will be filling and low in calories too.

I love this soup and if you are fed up with the usual Carrot and Coriander then why not give this recipe a try.

Conventional Recipe but can be made in a soup maker
450g leeks
450g carrots
1 medium onion
25g vegetable oil
1.5 litres stock
Seasoning

Clean and wash the leeks, chop, place them into a colander and wash under running  Peel the carrots and cut them into smallish pieces, chop the onion.

Add the oil to a large saucepan, add the vegetables. Stir, cover and ‘sweat’ them for 10 minutes on a low heat, shake the pan from time to time.

Pour in the stock, add seasoning, bring to a simmer, cover and simmer gently for 10 minutes until the carrot is tender.  Liquidise the soup.

Any leftover soup can be frozen either in zip lock bags or by filling the holes in a silicone muffin tray with soup, freezing and then removing the muffin size portions of soup, as a rule of thumb a couple of these make one serving.  If you have an induction hob it's easy to defrost the portions in a pan on a low heat or defrost in the microwave.

Frozen portions of soup

More recipes:
Spicy Tomato and Red Pepper Soup
Mushroom Soup
Cauliflower Cheese Soup

24 Dec 2014

Seeded Bread with Melting Camembert - Breadmaker Recipe


I've absolutely no idea why I decided to line my Camembert Baker with baking paper, it seemed like a good idea at the time.  Afterwards I realised it was a rubbish idea.....I couldn't take a decent photograph of the bread because of the paper and we had  to fight to get the Camembert off the baking parchment because the molten cheese had glued itself well and truly on.

The baker serves two purposes, it helps to keep the risen dough in shape and when the bread is nearly baked the cheese can be placed in the baker to cook into a molten lava.

The dough was made in my new and amazing Panasonic SD-ZB2502 breadmaker and it's all so easy to do.......this recipe however isn't from the book supplied with the machine but from my previous Panasonic breadmaker recipe book.

Breadmaker Recipe
500g strong white bread flour (I used Carr's)
1tsp fast action dried yeast
1½ tsp salt
1 tbsp sugar
25g butter
2tbsp milk powder
300ml water
To decorate:
1 egg beaten
4 tsp mixed seeds
Box Camembert
White Vermouth

1. Add the ingredients to the bread pan in the order recommended for your bread machine. Set to dough.
2. When dough is ready remove from the bread machine.  Divide the dough into three equal pieces and roll each piece into a sausage shape 60cm long.  Press the three rolls together at the end and plait the dough together.
3. Grease a large baking tray and place the Camembert baker into the centre of the tray, grease the outside of the baker.  Wrap the plait around the outside of the baker and join the ends up to make a continuous plait.
4. Cover with oiled baking parchment and prove for 20 minutes.
5. Preheat the oven to 180oC Fan.
6. Brush the dough with beaten egg and sprinkle the seeds over, bake for 25 minutes. Remove the bread from the oven, place the cheese in the baker, cut a cross in the middle of the cheese and pour over the Vermouth.  Return the bread to the oven for 10 minutes or until the cheese has melted.


Back soon!



17 Dec 2014

Mini Gingerbread Cupcakes - Recipe


For some unknown reason I've got a mountain of gold mini cupcake cases, this recipe uses 18 cases and I've still got a whole heap left. These cute sticky gingerbread mini bakes are easy to make and a favourite of ours.  They keep for a few days and get stickier by the day but I doubt they'll last that long.

4 tbsp apple and ginger juice (I used Cawston Press) or ginger ale
90g dark muscovado sugar
⅛ tsp bicarbonate of soda
70g self-raising flour
1 level tsp ground ginger
1 medium egg
3 tbsp vegetable oil
White icing to decorate

You will need: 18 mini muffin cases - two mini muffin cake tins

1. Preheat the oven to 160°C fan.
2. Place the apple and ginger juice and the muscovado sugar in a small saucepan and bring to the boil. Take a wooden spoon and break down any lumps of sugar. Remove the pan from the heat, stir in the bicarbonate of soda.
3. Sift the flour and ginger into a bowl. Whisk the egg and oil together in another bowl, then slowly add this to the flour, whilst stirring continuously. Add the apple and ginger juice or ginger ale to the mixture in two goes whilst gently mixing it in.
4. Three-quarters fill each muffin case and bake for about 15 minutes until risen and firm. Remove from the tins and leave to cool.
5. Decorate with white icing.

One year ago:
                          Individual Raspberry Trifles
                          Last Minute Christmas Puddings
                          Meringue Topped Mince Pies
                          Mini Stollen

14 Dec 2014

Baileys Chocolate Truffles - Christmas Recipe

Now look what's happened, I've forgotten my words and everything!
I love Christmas bling and edible gold leaf is a must at this time of the year, just take a deep breath and forget how ridiculously expensive it is. It's a pain to use and sticks to everything except what you want it to stick to. My truffles are so delicious and melt in the mouth that they are worthy of a little adornment.

The recipe is Baileys, coffee, chocolate, butter and cream - yum, yum yum!  Easy to make and far nicer than most truffles you can buy.

Makes: 12
300g plain chocolate
2 tbsp whipping cream
1 tbsp cold strong fresh espresso coffee
2 tbsp Baileys
55g softened salted butter
To decorate:
edible gold leaf
sifted cocoa powder
sifted icing sugar

You will need:  12 sweet cases, baking trays and clingfilm!

Method:
1. Add 100g of the chocolate and the cream to a bowl set over a saucepan of warm water.  Leave until melted.  Remove the bowl from the pan and add the espresso, Baileys and butter, whisk together until smooth and thickened. Cool, cover with clingfilm and chill until firm.
2. Line a baking tray with cling film. Remove the mixture from the fridge and when the mixture becomes pliable roll teaspoons of the mixture into balls using the palms of your hands. Place the truffles onto the tray.  Cover with more clingfilm and place in the freezer.
3. Remove the tray from the freezer.
4. Take a fresh tray and cover with clingfilm. Melt the remaining 200g of dark chocolate. Dip the truffles into the chocolate to coat. Place on the tray. When the chocolate is set place a tiny piece of gold leaf on top of the truffle to decorate.  Roll the remaining truffles in either the cocoa or icing sugar.

11 Dec 2014

Judge Cookware Non-Stick Roast Tin & V Rack - Review

Is there anything more glorious than a roast chicken?  
My chicken was a purchase from a very popular butchers in a small market town in Shropshire. People queue down the street in all weathers waiting their turn to be served.  We all love a roast dinner but I've yet to meet anyone who loves cleaning up the roasting pan afterwards.

We're on the countdown to Christmas Day, cooking the traditional turkey and making sure we have a sturdy roasting tin. This Judge Cookware non-stick roasting tin is perfect, it oozes quality, cooks evenly and looks great in the kitchen too. The rack is elevated from the roasting tin and allows air circulation for a crispier skin whilst the fat drains away into the pan below.

Using the rack made a huge difference to the chicken it was succulent and moist with a fabulous crispy skin.  A turkey or chicken can be cooked upside down on the rack to ensure the breast meat doesn't overcook and dry out.  Half way through the cooking time turn the turkey the right way up.

Tried and Tested:
Can be placed in the dishwasher but it's so easy to clean by hand I found it's not worth taking up valuable dishwasher space.
Not suitable for hob use.
The 'V' rack is non-stick but to make even easier cleaning, simply spray the rack with oil.
The tin doesn't warp or buckle


Suitable for ovens to temperatures of 240°C

Judge TC192 Non-Stick Roast Tin & V Rack

Measures: 35cm x 27cm x 7cm


Price: £37.98

Disclaimer: The product was sent to me for review purposes,all thoughts are my own.



6 Dec 2014

Christmas Panettone Pudding - Recipe


Panettone pudding isn't just for Christmas, it's so delicious and luxurious given the chance I would eat it all year. So here we have a luxurious but quick and easy pudding.
Cut two slices of panettone
Break into cubes
Pour over a mixture of sugar, eggs and double cream
Serves: 4
You will need:  300ml double cream, 1 tsp vanilla extract, 2 eggs, 1 tbsp sugar, 2 large slices of panettone cut into cubes.

Method:
1. Preheat the oven to 180°C. Butter an ovenproof dish.
2. Whisk the eggs, single cream, milk, vanilla extract and sugar.
3. Add the cubes of panettone into a large dish and pour over the egg mixture. Leave to stand for 30 minutes.
4. Place the dish into a large roasting pan, fill half way with hot water. Bake for 30 minutes or until softly set.
5. Dust the panettone with icing sugar.

30 Nov 2014

Raspberry and White Chocolate Brioche Pudding - Recipe


I love this pudding, it's easy to make, you don't need to spend loads of time in the kitchen and it's perfect for this time of the year when we are all beginning to feel festive. It's lightweight to eat compared to panettone pudding and I've substituted some of the cream for semi-skimmed milk to cut down on calories.I bought a pack of 8 brioche rolls from the shop that sells everything for a £1, they are really light and perfect for this pudding, I only used four of the rolls and popped the remaining four into the freezer for another day.

White buttons are best or white chocolate chips because the chocolate needs to melt quickly.When I came to make the pudding I found I had ran out of buttons and used chunks of chocolate.


I used frozen raspberries, which have a good amount of tang to them compared with fresh and for some Christmas spirit I marinated the frozen raspberries in brandy for a few minutes!

Serves: 4

You will need:  150ml semi-skimmed milk, 150ml whipping cream, 1 teaspoon vanilla extract, 2 eggs, 4 brioche rolls sliced horizontally into two, 100g frozen raspberries, 1 tbsp brandy, 25g white chocolate buttons

Method:
1. Preheat the oven to 170°C.  Butter a dish which is large enough to take four brioche rolls.
2. Whisk the eggs, milk, cream and vanilla extract together.
3. Tip the frozen raspberries into a small bowl and stir in the brandy.
4. Place the cut brioche into the dish and pour the egg mixture over. Sprinkle over the raspberries and chocolate.
5. Place the dish in a roasting pan. Pour in enough boiling water to come halfway up the sides of the dish. Bake for 30 to 40 minutes or until just set.
6. Dust with icing sugar.


20 Nov 2014

Potato Boulangère - Cooked in a Steam Combination Oven


I've made this Jamie Oliver recipe numerous times, it's quick, easy and a healthier option to the usual potato dauphinoise.  Potato Boulangère is simply thinly sliced potatoes, onions and stock layered up in a dish.  I like Delia's recipe too......

When I chose my new kitchen the purchase of a steam combination oven was an indulgence, especially as I had no idea if I was going to be happy with it but now I don't know how I managed without it. The advantage of cooking in this type of oven using the fan/steam mode is food doesn't dry out and also cooks quicker, I cooked this dish in just over 30 minutes at 200°C Fan/Steam.

Steam ovens have to be used with caution, when I first used mine I had one or two nasty burns and I learnt very quickly that my best friend was going to be a set of of double oven gloves that have an extra long cuff, a protective steam layer and don't let the heat through.  I'd recommend C'est Ca because they never let me down.


Adapted Recipe:
750g maincrop potatoes
1 onion, sliced
sage leaves
200ml vegetable stock
Parmesan cheese
butter

Conventional Method:
1. Preheat the oven to 180°C.
2. Peel and thinly slice the potatoes, add a layer over the base followed by a layer of onions, season. Build up the layers finishing with a layer of potatoes.
3. Pour the stock over the potatoes, season. Grate the Parmesan over the potatoes, top with a few fresh sage leaves. Top with a few pieces of butter. Cook for an hour until golden and the potatoes are cooked through.

The original recipe is on the Jamie Oliver website.

14 Nov 2014

Plum Slice is Always Nice!

Amazing Plum Cake with Ice Cream
Last September I was sent an email inviting me to attend the Range Leisure Autumn Feast with Uyen Luu who is a blogger, cookery book writer and supperclub owner.  Sadly I was unable to attend and reluctantly/happily! passed the invitation onto @PaulFoodie who is the London Reporter for our blog.

I've been told on many an occasion that the food, wine, event, the company, including Jeanne of Cook Sister, made a truly memorable evening for all.

I love dessert and whenever I go out for a meal I mostly start by looking at the dessert menu first. I thought I'd replicate the Plum Cake with Ice Cream that Uyen Luu cooked on the evening of the event........
Deliciously tender and buttery
I'd recommend getting the best plums possible because the 'ripen at home' ones from the supermarket tend to go mouldy before they ripen and the fruit needs to be as tasty as possible.

30 Oct 2014

Judge Cookware Soup Maker Recipe and Review - It's Surprising What You Can Make in a Soup Maker

Low Fat Banana Milkshake
Surprisingly, including soup, you can make eggs soft or hard boiled, milk shakes, smoothies and cafe style hot chocolate drinks.  At the end of the posting there's a video showing how I made the hot chocolate.

It's hot chocolate time
The Judge Cookware Soup Maker is a versatile kitchen appliance.  I've made some easy soups from scratch, they took 10 minutes prep and 20 minutes to cook. Now I'm making milkshakes and hot drinks in next to no time at all.

For a low fat banana milkshake:
Slice a ripe banana, place into a freezer bag, pop into the freezer until solid
200ml cold semi-skimmed milk
1/2 tsp vanilla extract

All you have to do is place all the ingredients into the jug, press the on button and juice.  The ingredients will whizz for 3 minutes to make a smooth and frothy banana milkshake.


Sliced Frozen Banana 
Milk, Frozen Slices of  Banana and Vanilla Extract
Whizzes for 3 minutes
All the ingredients frothed for a milkshake
Nothing wrong with using squirty cream!
How to make a delicious hot chocolate drink...........



It takes about 10 minutes to produce a lovely frothy hot chocolate.

My review of the soup maker can be seen in a previous post.

Disclaimer: I was sent the product for review, all thoughts are my own.


24 Oct 2014

Judge Cookware Soup Maker - Review and Recipe


I've been sent this amazing soup maker by Judge Cookware to review. It's a great multi-tasker, will make either smooth or chunky soup, reheat, cook boiled eggs, make hot milky drinks, and cold drinks including smoothies and milkshakes.

If you invest in kitchen gadgets they need to work for you and not the other way round - having used this product quite a few times, I can definitely say it's a gadget worth investing in, it's really easy to use and you don't have to precook any ingredients before adding them to the jug.

My usual soup making method is to cook everything in a saucepan and then use a stick blender to make a smooth puree.  Using the soup maker, from adding the ingredients to producing a smooth soup takes only 20 minutes - amazing.

I make lot's of soup in the colder months and freeze some too for a rainy day.  Soup is a great way to eat those veggies and there is nothing quite like a warm comforting bowl of soup with a chunk of home made bread.

I'll talk you through, with photographs, showing how to make a very easy low fat cauliflower cheese soup.....

        Cauliflower Cheese Soup with Parmesan Wafers

Add the cauliflower florets, chopped leeks and onion to the jug
Pour in water to the Soup Maximum level to cover the vegetables,
 add vegetable stock powder and freshly ground black pepper
The lid locks securely in place onto the jug

Press On and then 'Soup Smooth'
 

The vegetables are chopped, cooked and blended at the same time
Part way through the cooking and blending process
Cooking is now complete

I've now poured in enough semi-skimmed milk to come half way between the Soup Maximum and Maximum levels - I've also added a good handful of grated cheese to the jug
Pulse a few times to mix in the added ingredients
Low Fat Cauliflower Cheese Soup
Half a small cauliflower, broken into florets
1 white onion chopped
1 leek chopped (use mainly the white part)
3 tsp bouillon vegetable powder
Few grinds of black pepper
200ml semi skimmed milk
75g low fat mature cheddar cheese, grated

1. Add the cauliflower, onion and leek to the jug.  Cover the vegetables with water to come up to the Soup Maximum level.  Sprinkle over the bouillon vegetable powder.
2. Place the lid on to the jug, as per the Instruction Manual, now place onto the base.  Press the On button, select Soup Smooth.
3. At the end of the cooking time, carefully remove the 'Fill Cap' and pour in the milk and add the cheddar cheese.  Pulse a few times to mix.
4. If the soup seems a little thin, sprinkle over a teaspoon of Thickening Granules(available from most supermarkets) and pulse again to thicken.

Now on to a three ingredient vegetable soup........

To challenge the soup maker I added some chunks of carrot, celery and red onion to the jug.


Cover the vegetables with water and a few teaspoons of vegetable stock powder 
The soup maker made light work of those chunky vegetables
   and after 20 minutes I had a lovely cup of warming soup..........


Boiled Eggs - the Instruction Manual recommends a cooking time of 6 minutes for soft and 10 minutes for hard boiled.  Hubby carried out the boiled egg test and our medium eggs took 6 minutes for soft, but if they are larger then it may take up to 8 minutes. Our medium size eggs for hard boiled took 10 minutes but here again if they are larger they may take up to12 minutes to cook.  Steamed eggs take longer to cook than if you are boiling them using the conventional pan method.  The great thing about steaming eggs is that he didn't experience any cracked shells as they were cooking.

A few details about the soup maker:
  •   Programmes: 
  •   Reheat - 10 minutes
  •   Juice(for making milkshakes and smoothies) - 3 minutes
  •   Steam/Boiling - 15 minutes
  •   Soup Smooth - 20 minutes
  •   Soup Chunky - 30 minutes
Supplied with: Instruction Manual, Recipes, egg basket and a double ended brush.
Capacity: 1.5 litres
Power: Motor 300w - Heater 800w
To clean: Pour some warm water and a drop of washing up liquid into the jug and pulse a few times. A double ended brush is supplied to clean the base and around the blades.

Disclaimer:  Thank you to Judge Cookware for sending me the Soup Maker to review, all thoughts are my own.


21 Oct 2014

The Technical Challenge: Ciabatta by Paul Hollywood - Recipe


Why didn't I try this easy recipe before?  My inspiration came from seeing Paul Hollywood on TV demonstrating this technical challenge from The Great British Bake Off.  He made it look easy enough, but with his skills, he makes everything look easy.

This is one occasion when you need a mixer with a dough hook, the mixture is so sticky I'd lose patience if I tried to make it by hand. If you don't have a mixer with a dough hook, but haven't used your bread machine for ages, let the dough setting do all the hard work for you.


I'm not in possession of a square plastic container to rise the dough, mine is deep and oblong, it was still okay and sometimes you just have to compromise.  After all, Paul Hollywood isn't about to knock on my front door any time soon to make sure I use a square container.

The dough is really easy to work with and I was more than a bit chuffed with my baked loaves of ciabatta, they don't have to look bakery perfect, but hubby thought I'd bought them!

Fresh from the oven
The bread doesn't take long to make, the kitchen is filled with the heady aroma of bread, it freezes well, can be warmed briefly in the microwave (don't tell Paul), and you can find the recipe on the BBC Food website.

I hope you too will have a go at this challenge!

Back soon with some fab product reviews........including making soup to go with my bread.....

12 Oct 2014

The Perfect Raspberry and Almond Cake - Recipe

Why triple almond? Ground almonds, almond extract and flaked almonds
Hooray! My raspberries didn't sink - joy of joys.  This cake has been very kind to me, it was moist, has a tender crumb, is full of lovely flavours and I used the last of the autumn raspberries.

It's an all in one cake mix, which means less time spent in the kitchen if you have limited time on your hands, and it's a wonderful cake-cum-dessert. For dessert pop a slice into the microwave on a low setting to heat through.

The cake is also delicious dusted with icing sugar and served with either a dollop of cream or creme fraiche.

We liked the cake with a dusting of icing sugar
Recipe:
115g self-raising flour
½ tsp baking powder
2 large eggs beaten
115g softened butter
115g caster sugar
1tsp almond extract
40g ground almonds
175g fresh raspberries
2 tbsp flaked almonds

You will need:  20cm base lined round cake tin, greased with butter and floured.

1. Preheat the oven to 150ºC Fan.
2. Sift the flour and baking powder into a large mixing bowl, add the beaten eggs, almond extract, butter and sugar.  Beat together with an electric whisk for 2 minutes.  Fold in the ground almonds.
3. Dollop the cake batter into the tin.  Level the mixture, scatter over the raspberries and flaked almonds.

All it needs now is a scattering of flaked almonds 
4. Bake for 45 minutes until golden.  Leave the cake in the tin for 10 minutes.  Remove the cake from the tin and cool on a wire rack.
5. The cake can be cut into slices and frozen.

3 Oct 2014

Easy Strawberry Jam - Kenwood Cooking Chef Recipe


There is something special about homemade strawberry jam which makes it all seem so worthwhile, and you definitely can't beat your own jam slathered on a scone. I used to buy Strawberry Preserve with Champagne at the Good Food Show in Birmingham, but unfortunately they don't exhibit there anymore. Their jam is on another level to mine and I only wish my jam had champagne added to it. 

Strawberries with the sugar and lemon added.
Photographs of my jam being made in the Kenwood Cooking Chef.

Just a few minutes to dissolve the sugar
I made my jam the easy way with my kitchen toy, I find the hardest part of jam making is ensuring the sugar is completely dissolved - the machine does this quickly and efficiently.

Finished jam!
You may think I top my jam with cute cloth hats and put fancy labels on them, how wrong you would be.  It's wash, sterilise, pour jam into jars, top with waxed disc, cellophane held in place with an elastic band and a reused jam jar lid!  I know the jars look fabulous when they are dressed up, and I have seen some lovely photographs on blogs, but somehow I never seem to get past putting a lid on my jars.

The recipe came from Delicious Magazine and here is a link to a previous posting when I made the jam by hand.