28 Aug 2014

Sparkling Redcurrant Cupcakes - Recipe

I revealed on Facebook that I had for no apparent reason gone into blogger meltdown.  It didn't matter what I cooked it just seemed to fail. Cherries falling to the bottom of my cake, rocky roads that didn't quite rock and on and on it went.  I even made hubby a bacon sandwich that you definitely wouldn't pay for!  Although he did remind me he had already paid and that it tasted good all the same:)

My cupcakes may look a little like Christmas with the frosted redcurrants but I love redcurrants coated in sugar, the combination of sweet and tart is amazing, second only to dipping a stick of rhubarb into a bag of sugar.

I've got three redcurrant bushes in my fruit garden and they reward me with lots and lots of bright red bead like jewels that glisten in the sun.  The fruits can be eaten raw, cooked or can be frozen.  They fruit from July through to the middle of August and give us that all important vitamin C.  Unfortunately ants seem to enjoy my fruits too but there isn't much I can do about that!

Redcurrants cost a ridiculous amount of money in the shops and they are sold in minute quantities, I've no idea why because they grow so easily in this country.

At Christmas time we see recipes and images of redcurrants, where do we buy them from at Christmas and where do they come from?

These lovely cupcakes can be made using raspberries or a combination of redcurrants and raspberries. Yes, the fruits are inclined to sink to the bottom of the cupcake cases..........I've got that sinking feeling again!

Makes: 9
110g caster sugar
110g softened butter
110g self raising flour
1 tsp baking powder
2 eggs
1 tsp vanilla extract
100g redcurrants

1. Preheat the oven to 180ºC/Fan 160ºC.
2. Place 9 cupcake cases in a muffin tin.
3. Add all the ingredients, except the redcurrants, to a bowl and mix together for 4 minutes until soft and fluffy.
4. Fold in half the redcurrants.  Place scoops of the mixture into the cupcake cases. Sprinkle the remaining redcurrants on top of the cake batter.
5. Bake for 30 minutes until cooked through. Place onto a cooling rack.
6. To make the icing: Add 100g icing sugar to a medium size bowl and stir in enough lemon juice to make a pouring consistency.  Colour the icing with a few drops of pink colouring.  Pour into a plastic bag, cut a tiny corner off the bag and decorate the tops of the cooled cupcakes. Take a few sprigs of redcurrants and brush with lightly whisked egg white, spoon over caster sugar to frost.  Place onto a tray lined with wax paper to dry.

17 Aug 2014

Mini Lemon Cheesecakes - Recipe

The inspiration for these mini desserts - yellow diamonds!
The way to a man's heart..........in my case my hubby loves jelly! He went to a posher school than me, they had an amazing school cook who made wonderful nursery puddings. He would happily eat nursery puddings and jelly and ice cream every week if I let him.

This lemon cheesecake is my hubby's favourite, it's a little retro using jelly instead of gelatine as a setting agent, but in this recipe it works really well, although to make the cheesecake layer less sweet simply cut down on the amount of sugar. I mostly make this dessert in a 20cm loose base sandwich tin for a low faff dessert but mini desserts always look really pretty.

You will need:  silicone cupcake tray

Makes: 8

170g Hobnob biscuits crushed
100g butter
Half a 1 pint lemon jelly
225g full fat cream cheese (not low fat)
55g caster sugar
grated zest of a lemon
juice of a lemon
1-½ to 2 tsp arrowroot
30g caster sugar
yellow food colouring (optional)
For the decoration:
Half a 1 pint lemon jelly

1. Place the biscuits into a bowl and crush using the end of a rolling pin(no fancy kitchen equipment needed here). Melt the butter.  Add the melted butter to the crushed biscuits.
2. Put the silicone tray onto a sturdy metal tray.  Divide the biscuit crumb mixture between the cavities. Press down with a spoon. Place in the fridge for a couple of hours to chill.
3. Boil the kettle, add half the jelly tablet to a jug and make up to ¼ pint with hot water.  Stir to dissolve the jelly.  Cool and then place the jug in the fridge to chill until it is the consistency of unbeaten egg white.
4. Beat the cream cheese with the caster sugar and lemon rind.  Gradually whisk in the chilled jelly.  It will go lumpy but keep on beating with a hand whisk and it will become smooth.  Remove the cupcake tray from the fridge and fill the cavities nearly to the top with the cream cheese/jelly mixture making sure there is a space for the topping. There will be some cream cheese mixture left over when you make individual cheesecakes.  If making the 20cm cheesecake all the mixture will be used up.  Place the silicone tray back in the fridge to chill until the filling is set.
5. To make the topping: Make the lemon juice up to ¼ pint with water.  Place the arrowroot into a basin and mix with some of the liquid to make a smooth paste, add the rest of the liquid and the sugar. Pour into a small saucepan, bring to the boil whilst stirring to prevent lumps.  Boil to produce a clear mixture.  Remove from the heat, add the butter and a little yellow food colouring.  Let the mixture cool.
6. Take the cheesecakes from the fridge.  Spoon the sauce over the top.
7. Place the cheesecakes into the freezer to partially freeze, this will make it easier to remove them from the moulds.
8. In the meantime, make up the other half of the lemon jelly to ¼ pint as before.  Pour into heart shaped silicone moulds.  Chill down and then place in the freezer.  Remove from the freezer and take the hearts out of the mould.
9. Take the cheesecakes out of the freezer and remove from the moulds, place on individual plates to return to room temperature.  Place a heart on each plate.
10. Decoration: Half a lemon jelly dissolved in ¼ pint of hot water. Place on a tray and chill in the fridge until set, remove from the fridge and chop to make 'diamonds'.

10 Aug 2014

Stellar Stainless Steel Stick Blender - Review

The Stellar stick blender not only looks cool in brushed stainless steel, it feels sturdy in the hand, whizzes, chops and blends, has an adjustable illuminated speed dial including a turbo button and there's more......The blending unit with cutter can be detached from the motor unit and easily washed in the dishwasher or by holding the blender unit stick and using a washing up brush, the cutter can be safely cleaned in washing up water.

I quickly assembled the blender, there are just two main pieces, the motor unit and the blending unit. The product has been designed with safety first, to assemble you take the motor unit and place this into the blending unit, rotate clockwise and they lock together - there is an unlock/lock sign on the unit and it is reassuring to know they have safely locked together ready to use.

Hubby likes the fact the blender is sturdy and has a hand grip which prevents slipping.  Stick blenders are serious pieces of kitchen equipment and both usage and storage are important safety issues.

I love kitchen gadgets but they have to work for me and not the other way round, I've whizzed and whirred testing the stick blender and it is certainly a great piece of kitchen equipment.

Pea, watercress and mint soup
Turn the variable illuminated speed dial to adjust the power 

It's possible to blend soup in the same saucepan it is made providing the pan isn't too wide and fairly high. Place the stick blender onto the base of the pan, start blending at low speed and increase the speed as necessary.  The turbo button can be used in short bursts for high speed blending.

Making Yorkshire Pudding is a breeze.....

To blend small amounts of liquid a tall narrow jug is best.
 I placed all the ingredients into the jug........a few whizzes on low speed produces a lump free batter.
The batter is stored in a kilner jar and place into the fridge to stand overnight,
it's then fridge cold and ready to use the next day

We've all got our own favourite recipe and way of making Yorkshire Pudding but this is the one I've always used.

The recipe makes 4 small Yorkshire Puddings:

75g plain flour
2 eggs
75ml semi skimmed milk
55ml water
Salt and Pepper

1. Place all the ingredients into a jug, it's best to place the flour in the base and then add the liquids. A pinch of salt and freshly ground pepper.  Whizz together until the batter is smooth.  Place in the fridge until needed.
2. Heat the oven to fan 200oC. Place the silicone tray onto a metal tray. Add a small piece of lard to four of the cavities. Place into the oven until the fat is really hot about 10 minutes.
3. Pour the batter into the hot fat and return to the oven for approximately 30 minutes.

Model No SEA33
2 year guarantee
750w maximum
Typical In store Price £45 and can be purchased online or in stores nationwide.

Please visit Stellar Cookware for more details.

Disclaimer:  I was sent the stick blender for review, all thoughts are my own - thank you for the review sample.