19 Dec 2015

Making Frangipane Mince Pies With a Thermomix TM5

Frangipane Mince Pie Cut in Half

The Thermomix is new in my kitchen and an early Christmas present from hubby. I love kitchen gadgets and whilst I don't believe for one moment they make you a better cook, for me they're fun.
I'm not going to say it will replace all my other stuff or that it's going to save me money (I wish), how can I make sweeping statements when I've only used it for a few weeks.

I went for this brand because they have a history of making a well engineered product, are the best on the market and I didn't want to have buyers regret. There are no sharp edges on the jug, the blades are fearsome, there is an integrated digital scale, it whizzes at unbelievable speeds, it will even steam and every piece can be washed either by hand or will go into the dishwasher but not the main part obviously, and the product is totally awesome (if I'm allowed to say that).

This new model is digital and has a recipe chip on the side with ingredients and method and it's extremely user friendly.

There's lots of online help with forums where people are passionate, freely give their time and expertise to answer questions and importantly the Thermie community are friendly too.

When the machine arrived I hoped and longed that we would bond and I'm pleased to say that it's a little helper and I'm in awe of this magnificent piece of kitchen equipment, little wonder it's used in professional kitchens.

Sadly the cost is eye watering........

Thermomix TM5

I went a little off piste and didn't use the Thermomix recipe on the recipe chip and used a favourite pastry recipe for the mince pies. To make the pies all you have to do is weigh in the ingredients, yes it's got built in digital scales which I think is very cool.

The dough takes 25 seconds at Speed 4........

Pastry Dough

Nothing wrong with this pastry, although it does take a while to understand how you can throw everything in and hey presto pastry!

Block of Sweet Pastry

I was really happy with my block of pastry and all I had to do was wrap it in cling wrap and pop it into the fridge for half an hour.

The pastry rolled out a dream.....

Pastry being rolled out for mince pies

Now for the frangipane......

Ingredients in the TM5 jug

Weigh in all the ingredients, butter, egg, ground almonds, flour and caster sugar. 1 minute/Speed 3

Frangipane being made in a Thermomix TM5

A few seconds later frangipane!

Uncooked Frangipane Mince Pies

Pastry, mincemeat and a dollop of frangipane topped with a few flaked almonds.

Cooked mince pies
The baked mince pies
Conventional Recipe

Makes: approx 18

Pastry
175g plain flour
75g butter, cut into cubes
25g icing sugar
1 large egg, beaten

Frangipane
100g butter, softened
100g caster sugar
2 large eggs
100g ground almonds
1 level tbsp plain flour
1⁄2 tsp almond extract, or to taste

Filling and Topping
Jar mincemeat, homemade is best!
a few flaked almonds

Method:
1. Preheat the oven to 200ºC.
2. Add the flour, butter and icing sugar into the bowl of a food processor, whiz until the mixture is the consistency of breadcrumbs. Add the beaten egg and pulse until the dough starts to come together. Knead lightly, Wrap in clingwrap and chill for approximately 30 minutes.
3. Now make the frangipane, place the butter and sugar into the food processor and blend until soft. Add the eggs and whiz again. Add the ground almonds, flour and almond extract and mix briefly.
4. Roll the pastry out thinly preferably on a silicone mat and cut out 18 x 6.5cm circles. Now line the tins with the pastry rounds. Place a teaspoon of mincemeat into each pastry circle and top with the frangipane mixture.  Sprinkle over a few flaked.
5. Bake for 20 minutes. Remove the tins from the oven and cool for a while on a wire rack.

Note: This is a private purchase and there isn't any brand involvement.

6 Dec 2015

Bread Maker Recipe

Bread Maker Crusty Loaf
Crusty bread fresh from the oven
I know bread makers are a bit 'Marmite' but I wouldn't be without mine and it doesn't matter whether the bread is being made from start to finish or it is simply being used to make dough, the results are always foolproof.  It's easy peasy adding a load of ingredients into the pan, set the menu, leave it for a couple of hours knowing that it's working for you and return to a pan of glorious dough that only needs shaping, proving and baking. It always works for me.......

This crusty bread has a light crumb and texture, it is ideal for sandwiches, eat with cheese or place on the griddle pan.

Bread Maker Crusty Loaf

The recipe can be made in a food mixer or by hand but the amount of water may need adjusting. Also if using organic flour this can take more water.

To ensure a crusty loaf - place an old tray close to the base of the oven, preheat the oven, place the risen loaf on a tray on the middle shelf, pour cold water into the tray below and this will create steam. Close the oven door and voila a crusty loaf of bread.

Recipe:
1 tsp Easy Bake yeast
500g strong white bread flour
1 tsp salt
3 tbsp extra virgin olive oil
350ml water

You will need: A large baking tray sprinkled with flour and semolina

1. Add the ingredients to the bread pan in the order as outlined in your manufacturers instructions.
2. Set the dough setting.
3. When the machine has finished tip the dough from the pan carefully onto a floured baking tray.
4. Flour your fingers and gently shape the dough trying not to knock the air out, Flour the top of the dough and leave to prove uncovered until doubled in size. Sprinkle semolina over the bread and slash the dough several times with a sharp knife being careful not to deflate the dough.
5. Preheat the oven to 220ºC.
6. Bake for 30-40 minutes until golden brown.
7. Leave to cool on a wire rack.

You may like:
Tomato and Caramelised Onion Focaccia
Goat's Cheese and Rosemary Buns
Apple and Ginger Buns




14 Nov 2015

Traybake Chicken Dinner - Steam Combination Oven

Traybake Chicken Dinner

After a visit to Bridgnorth market there's nothing to beat a one tray roast chicken dinner and cooked in the steam combination oven it saves time and a load of washing up, the whole meal took approximately one hour to cook.

The potatoes take the longest and from freshly peeled they are tossed in oil, seasoned and added to the tray.  After 15 minutes I added the chicken legs, and then for the final 15 minutes the onions and carrots.  I cooked the sprouts in a pan before adding to the tray because to date I haven't experimented cooking these on the steam combination setting, these were also added to the tray for the last 15 minutes of cooking at 200ºC.

One Tray Chicken Dinner

The Good Food Show Winter in Birmingham is just around the corner, I don't know if there will be any demo's using these ovens but I wouldn't be without mine.

More steam combination recipes:
Potato Boulangere
Traybake Vegetables


3 Nov 2015

Review: Wünderlust @ The Big Red, London

Wonderlust @ The Big Red, London

The London reporter gets all Austrian on a big red London bus......

We love a good pop up restaurant here at Kitchen Delights and London is awash with them. It was with a lot of excitement that we recently checked out London's most exciting pop up of the moment - Wünderlust!

Set under the Docklands Light Railway in Deptford, there is a stationary big red London bus which until recently has been dishing out pizzas.

But as times change, so does the cuisine on the bus! Now the big red bus is showcasing British-Austrian cuisine - and what a combination it is.

As you enter the bus you’ll soon see a large area of undercover seating with heating so you can sit on the bus or under the wooden roof.

Inside @ The Big Red, London

After a really warm welcome, we kicked off with some cocktails and fizz. We enjoyed a lovely gin & honey cocktail which was very sweet and trendy. Our host told us the bar staff are working towards serving frozen style cocktails in which the honey will freeze on top and these will be a great talking point I'm sure.

Opening the menu
The menu is exciting and intriguing. Starters include beetroot and vodka-cured salmon, fennel and apple salad, Mersea Oysters and Mussels with cider and celery. We chose to share a whole baked Camembert, hot buttered toast (wow!) with a good smattering of chutney on the side. Absolutely fantastic.

Whole Baked Camembert

Then came out the wine. You can be really adventurous and choose an Austrian wine at thirty quid but we played it safe with a 2014 Ciello Bianco - an organic white wine at £20 which was okay but nothing to blow you away!

For mains we ordered a 49 day-aged flat iron steak with chard and triple cooked chips. I asked for medium rare and it was cooked to perfection. My vegetarian friend who was a little nervous that Austrian cuisine was equal to big slabs of meat was pleasantly surprised to see a veggie dog from the street food section which hit the spot.

Flat Iron Steak

What was so fantastic about the menu is that you can either choose from the more formal menu or go for street food style dishes in which you can order 3 for £15 which is a nice middle ground if you just fancy drinks and nibbles.

And for those with a sweet tooth
For pudding, they did really well again. A spiced autumn fruit crumble and custard as well as a chocolate brownie with vanilla ice cream.

We wish this place the best of luck and will definitely be recommending them as a destination for those looking to settle their Wünderlust (at least for a while).

Address: @ The Big Red. 30 Deptford Church St, London SE8 4RZ

Disclaimer: We were guests of Wünderlust, all thoughts are our own.

22 Oct 2015

Banana Cake with Salted Caramel Icing

Banana Cake with Salted Caramel Icing

I've just arrived back from a Western Mediterranean cruise on the fabulous Celebrity Eclipse. If you'd like to take a peek, my instagram has a few photographs of the food and drink you can expect on this amazing ship. I'm still full to the brim with food, so this cake was one I made before I went away on my holiday.

Anyway, back to normality and a posting I wrote a few weeks ago but never posted..........

I've always loved cake and am definitely not one of the converted through watching #GBBO - it's been a lifelong love.

So onto the recipe, I've adapted Mary Berry's banana and lemon drizzle cake, messed about with it (sorry Mary) and came up with this delicious cake!

To achieve a light banana cake the only way is Stork SB (or alternative brand) and blackened bananas.  I've tried using all butter, or half butter and half Stork SB but it's still too heavy. I'm a fan of any one bowl mix and you can have this recipe in the tins in super quick time.

My filling may appear to be a little skinny but hubby doesn't like too much buttercream and as soon as dulce de leche meets buttercream it's very rich.

Banana Cake

You will need: 2 x 20cm round cake tins base and sides lined

For the cake:
175g Stork SB
175g Caster Sugar
3 eggs
300g self-raising flour
2 level teaspoons baking powder
2 very ripe bananas, mashed
2 tablespoons milk at room temperature
1 tsp vanilla extract

For the Icing:
175g unsalted butter, softened
350g sifted icing sugar
2 tsp dulce de leche

To decorate:
Dulce de leche
pinch of seasalt

1. Preheat the oven to 180°C.
2. Sift the flour and baking powder into a large bowl. Add the remaining ingredients to the bowl and mix for a couple of minutes with an electric mixer.
3. Divide the cake batter evenly between the two tins and level the top.
4. Bake for approximately 35 minutes until golden and risen.
5. Place the cake tins on a cooling rack and leave to cool for 10 minutes.
6. Remove the tins and place on the rack.
7. For the icing: Sift the icing sugar into the bowl of a mixer, add the softened butter, 2 teaspoons of Dulce de leche and a pinch of seasalt. Mix for 6 minutes until soft and fluffy.
8. Coat one of the sponges with half the buttercream, top with the other sponge. Spread the remaining buttercream evenly over the top sponge.
9. To decorate: Take a small icing nozzle and place into a piping bag. Place a couple of tablespoons of Dulce de leche into the icing bag and pipe thin lines evenly across the buttercream.
10.Can be frozen to stage 7.

4 Oct 2015

Summer Berries Pavlova Recipe

The finished summer berry pavlova

It's been a wonderful sunny weekend here in the West Midlands and on Saturday I went to Bridgnorth in Shropshire to buy what will possibly be the last of the late summer berries. We had a barbecue today and pavlova makes the perfect end to any meal.

There are quite a few meringue recipes on Kitchen Delights blog which is mainly because I use up any egg whites that I've frozen for a rainy day and more importantly meringue is one of our favourite desserts.

Summer Berries Pavlova

My favourite recipe for pavlova is by the super talented Alastair Hendy. His isn't a conventional method but gives a no fail meringue, on cooling the case cracks beautifully to give loads of character to the meringue. You will also be rewarded with a wonderful deep soft marshmallow layer within, the outer is delicately crisp. Should none of this appeal and if you must have the perfect meringue just leave in the oven overnight to cool but it won't have the soft marshmallow centre....

You will need:  either a hand whisk or a stand mixer and a large baking tray lined with parchment paper. Draw a 20cm circle on one side of the baking paper then turn the paper over.

4 large egg whites
120g caster sugar
110g icing sugar, sifted
½ tsp vanilla extract
1 tsp cornflour
1 tsp vinegar

To decorate:
150ml whipping cream
4 tbsp natural yogurt
½ tsp vanilla extract
selection of berries

1. Preheat the oven to 150°C or 130°C Fan.
2. Add the egg whites and caster sugar to the bowl of a mixer. Whisk until thickened and firm this can take some time but keep on going. Add the remaining ingredients and whisk until thick and shiny, about 4 minutes.

Whisking egg whites and caster sugar

3. Blob the mixture inside the circle on the baking tray.  Shape making a dip in the centre for the filling.

Shaped pavlova ready for the oven

4. Reduce the oven temperature to 140°C or Fan 120°C. Bake for 70 minutes. Remove the tray from the oven and leave the pavlova to cool on the baking paper.

The finished pavlova case

5. Whip the cream until soft peaks, add the yogurt and whisk again.
6. Remove the cooled meringue carefully to a large serving plate. Decorate with fresh and frozen berries.

A snapshot of a decorated pavlova

More meringue ideas:
Strawberry and Redcurrant Pavlova
Chocolate and Vanilla Berry Pavlova
Traybake  Meringue with Pears, Chocolate and Cream
Meringue Roulade with Elderflower Infused Strawberries


20 Sep 2015

Fougasse Recipe

Fougasse

I've overdosed on holidays this year and have just come back from a lovely motoring holiday taking in the Lake District and Scotland where I came across some amazing independent bakery shops.

Now back home and refreshed I rolled up my sleeves and made Fougasse which is crisp on the outside, light within and is lovely for tearing up and eating with a bowl of soup. I've also been making tiger/giraffe bread recently but the crust can be a bit stubborn to achieve the perfect look and as yet mine still isn't blog worthy.

This is my first attempt at shaping a Fougasse and I found a pizza cutter really useful for cutting the slits of the leaves. My shaped bread isn't perfect but nevertheless it was fun to make and tastes great. I love the way the fan in my oven has moved the flour and semolina around the tray and created it's own unique pattern.

I'd definitely recommend using a stand mixer for this because it's an extremely wet mixture, I know many bakers like to make bread by hand and this one will keep you occupied for ages!

As much as I love my breadmaker this mixture won't form a successful dough because this is a very wet mixture.

Makes: 4 large or 6 small

500g strong white flour
350ml warm water
1 sachet easy blend yeast
10g salt
Fine semolina for shaping and dusting

1. Tip the flour into the bowl of a mixer. Add the salt to one side and the yeast to the other side. Using the dough hook and on a slow speed, gradually add the water to form a soft wet dough.  Knead in a stand mixer for 10 minutes.
2. Oil a large bowl and place the dough into the bowl, cover with a shower cap and leave to rise for an hour until double in size.
3. Preheat the oven to 220°C.
4. Place the risen dough gently onto a lightly floured board and cut the dough into six.
5. Dust a large tray with semolina and flour. Take one of the pieces of dough, place onto the tray and dust with semolina and flour. Shape gently into a leaf shape. Using a pizza cutter make a series of cuts to form a leaf design. Stretch out the holes to help prevent them closing up whilst baking.
6. Leave to rise for 20 minutes covered with a tea towel.
7. Bake for approximately 15 minutes until crisp and golden.
8. The remaining pieces of dough can be wrapped individually in clingfilm and frozen.  Defrost in the fridge, shape and bake as above.


4 Sep 2015

Orange Drizzle Cake with Caramelised Zest

Iced Orange Drizzle Cake with Caramelised Zest
Iced Orange Drizzle Cake
I love mini cakes, it saves ploughing through a large cake and I like that one cake can be drizzled with icing and eaten on the day it's made, the others I place into the freezer. These days the cakeometer dictates that I can no longer eat as many slices of cake all on one day as I did in my teenage years.

Interestingly the majority of cakes improve whilst they're in the freezer because it gives them a chance to take in moisture, so if you ever make a cake and it seems on the dry side either leave it in a container (not airtight) for a few days, or pop it in the freezer.

Orange Drizzle Mini Loaf Cake Topped with Caramelised Zest
The cakes can be successfully frozen at this stage
Makes: 4 Mini Loaf Cakes 15cm x 8cm approx - I bought my loaf tins from Lakeland.

For the cake:
100g caster sugar
115g softened butter
115g self raising flour
2 large eggs beaten
2 tbsp sour cream

For the caramelised orange zest:
100g caster sugar
rind of 1 orange removed with a citrus zester
Juice of 1 orange

1. Preheat the oven to 180°C.
2. Line the mini loaf tins with baking parchment.
3. Tip 100g caster sugar into a small saucepan, add the orange juice and rind of the orange which has been removed using a citrus zester.  Heat gently to dissolve the sugar, then simmer rapidly for a minute, being careful that the liquid doesn't evaporate.  Leave on one side whilst you make the cakes.
4. For the cake. Add the butter and caster sugar to a large bowl and whisk until light and fluffy. Add the eggs gradually to the batter whilst continuously beating. Fold the flour and sour cream into the batter.
5. Dollop the mixture equally between the tins and bake for 20-25 minutes until golden and cooked through. A wooden cocktail stick inserted into the cake should come out clean when they are baked.
6. Remove the tins from the oven, poke the cakes all over with a skewer, pour over the syrup and zest.
7. Leave the cakes to cool in the tins, remove and leave as they are (they can be frozen at this stage) or drizzle icing over.

17 Aug 2015

Stellar Hard Anodised Bakeware Review

Mini Salted Peanut Crunch Biscuits
Mini Salted Peanut Crunch Biscuits
The Great British Bake Off frenzy has started and every Wednesday I'll be glued to the TV watching all the twists and turns and trying to figure out who I think will be the eventual winner.

Last week on GBBO it was biscuit week where the bakers turned their hands to making biscotti. I'm not making biscotti to test the bakeware I've been sent for review but I've made these delicious Mini Salted Peanut Crunch Biscuits which whilst they take a fair amount of time to make are well worthwhile because eat one and you'll find you want to eat the lot!  This week on GBBO it's bread and this tray will be invaluable for rising and baking bread products.
Butter Biscuits straight from the oven
Even heat distribution.
No warping or sticking with this tray 
This professional ovenware is part of a new 24 piece collection by trusted brand Stellar Cookware and you can safely use them in the knowledge that they will neither stick or warp and metal utensils can be used. Designed for use on the hob, under the grill or in the oven up to 240°C. I always like to wash bakeware by hand to keep mine in pristine condition, Bakeware doesn't really like dishwashers and these are handwash only. The ovenware comes with a Stellar Lifetime Guarantee.

Stellar Hard Anodised Bakeware
A selection of bakeware and ovenware from the collection
If you want your biscuits to look perfect in true #GBBO style then a measuring rule will be required but for a comfy homemade look I like to see them in different sizes.

Recipe - Makes 20 mini bites
Peanut Crunch
40g caster sugar
40g salted peanuts

Biscuits
150g plain flour
50g caster sugar
100g butter

Chocolate Coating
100g dark chocolate

1. Line a baking tray with baking paper.  Add the sugar to a frying pan and scatter over the peanuts. Place the pan on a medium heat, no stirring but swirl the pan every now and again to evenly caramalise the sugar until it has melted and turns a golden colour. Swirl again to coat the peanuts in the caramel.
2. Tip the nuts onto the lined baking tray to cool.  Once cool, whiz in a food processor to chop coarsely.
3. Preheat the oven to 180oC.
4. Place the flour, sugar and softened butter into a food processor and whiz until combined.  Tip the dough out onto clingwrap, bring the dough together and form into a log 30cm long and 4cm diameter. Wrap in the clingwrap, place onto a baking tray and chill in the fridge for an hour. Remove from the fridge, divide the log into four and cut five biscuits from each log.
5. Take the baking tray and line with parchment or butter the tray lightly.  Place half of the biscuits onto the baking tray and bake for 8-12 minutes until light golden brown.  Cool slightly on the tray and then remove to a cooling rack.
6. Melt the chocolate in a bowl over a pan of gently simmering water. Once melted remove from the heat.  Dip each biscuit into the chocolate, scatter over the peanut crunch and leave on a lined tray to set.

Tried and Tested:  This is a versatile tray which can be used for roasting vegetables or meat, baking biscuits, swiss rolls or bread.  The tray is sturdy without being heavy.  The product gives excellent results and will withstand high temperatures.
Price: RRP £20
Size:   36x26x1.9cm
Available: High Street or online stores

Disclaimer:  I was sent the product for review purposes.




8 Aug 2015

Rhubarb and Custard with Apricot Granola Topping

Rhubarb and Custard with a Granola Topping

I didn't buy into the expensive pink rhubarb at the beginning of the season, we've got a perfectly good rhubarb patch at the end of the garden and if you pick the stalks that are streaked with pink and resist peeling them you'll end up with some pink fruit juices.  Whilst I lingered over the pretty pink stalks in the shops with a hefty price tag and thought of all the bakes I could make with them, commonsense has to prevail and I think about my everyday rhubarb that I planted and the fact it rewards me with free homegrown fruit.

A cheat way to turn everyday rhubarb pink is to cook it with red fruits such as strawberries, raspberries or plums and this will definitely make old rhubarb look far more attractive.

Recipe serves 6 people:
450g rhubarb, trimmed (if necessary)
cut into chunks
85g caster sugar
500g tub ready-made custard
or make up the same of Birds Custard
½ quantity honey crunch granola (recipe below

Apricot, Honey and Nut Granola

Apricot, Honey and Nut Granola

200g clear honey
4 tbsp sunflower oil
300g rolled oats
100g flaked almonds
1 tsp ground cinnamon
140g dried apricots roughly chopped

1. Preheat the oven to 180°C.
2. In a large pan gently heat the  honey and oil together until the mixture is bubbling, then add in the oats, almonds and cinnamon. Stir well until the oats are well coated, then tip onto a large baking tray, spread the mixture out on the tray. Bake for ­25 minutes, stirring halfway, until  golden.
3. Remove from the oven and immediately stir in the apricots.  Spread out again and press down
with a spatula to cool. Any leftover will keep in an  airtight container for 3 weeks.
4. To cook the rhubarb. Turn the oven down to 150°C. Place the rhubarb in a roasting tin in a single layer, scatter with the sugar and cover with foil. Bake for 15-20 minutes until just tender, cool in the tin.
5. Spoon some of the rhubarb into the base of 6 small glasses, top with a couple of tablespoons of custard, repeating the layers.  Cover with clingwrap and chill in the fridge. Remove from the fridge and just before serving sprinkle with granola.
6. Serve either at Brunch or for Dessert.

More rhubarb recipes:
Strawberry and Rhubarb Crumble
Plum, Rhubarb and Apple Crumble

25 Jul 2015

Melting Goat's Cheese Salad

Melting Goat's Cheese Salad

I've been having a great time recently, I've just returned from a holiday in beautiful Rovinj where it was amazingly hot. Only this last week I attended the 25th Anniversary of The Hyatt Birmingham where the party, food and drink can only be described as amazing, I love the Hyatt.

I'm out and about for the next three weeks and for the majority of the time I'll be away from home. Today I'm in Beckenham and tomorrow I'll be trying to avoid the rain on the southbank in London where I'm reviewing a restaurant with Paul my London based blog partner. This next week is going to be a mix of culture, food, the odd glass of fizz, visiting a few independent coffee shops and shopping.

We're then going home for a few days and moving on to The Wirral for culture, food, and so on and so on.....then we're off to the Lake District, Scotland and the Peak District.

The blog is going to be a bit erratic but both Paul and I have some fabulous posts coming up:

The limited edition luxury trout that costs £300!
Christmas in July with Waitrose
Zwilling Press Event
The Hyatt Birmingham 25th Anniversary Party
Microplane Review
Stellar Cookware Review
Restaurant Reviews
Camp Bestival
Recipes

And that's just for starters!  So please bear with us whilst we battle our way through the blog posts.

After indulging over the last few weeks we needed a few lighter meals, although true to say there is cheese and pasta involved in this meal which is no bad thing.

You will need:
Bag of washed prepared mixed leaves
Vine cherry tomatoes
Sundried Tomatoes
Cucumber sliced
Red grapes
cooked crispy smoked streaky bacon
2 small rounds of goats cheese

Dressing:
3 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
1 tablespoon balsamic vinegar
Freshly ground pepper
Sea Salt

For the farfalle salad
110g farfalle pasta
Small handful of pine nuts
Small amount of washed spinach leaves
Extra Virgin Olive Oil to drizzle
Freshly ground pepper
Sea Salt

1.  Arrange the salad ingredients onto a plate.
2.  Grill the goats cheese gently until starting to melt.
3.  Place the grilled goats cheese onto the salad.
4.  For the dressing:  Add the ingredients to a small bowl and whisk until mixed together. Pour over the salad immediately before serving.
5.  For the farfalle salad: Fill a pan three quarters full with water, bring to the boil, add a sprinkle of salt.  Add the pasta to the pan and cook on a gentle boil for 10 minutes or until cooked.
6.  Drain the cooked pasta and rinse under cold water.
7.  Place the cooled pasta to a bowl, add the spinach leaves and toss.
8.  Place the pine nuts into a small frying pan and toast on the hob until lightly browned.  Remove from the pan and cool.
9.  Add the pine nuts to the salad.
10. Drizzle over the extra virgin olive oil.

19 Jul 2015

Mixed Berry and White Chocolate Cheesecake Slice

Mixed Berry and White Chocolate Cheesecake Slice

My strawberries were at their best when I left for my holiday a few weeks ago and now they are struggling to produce any fruit.  Next year I'm definitely not going away during strawberry season and missing one of my favourite fruits.

The raspberries are being a bit temperamental this year and the berries aren't anything to get excited about.  However, my redcurrant bushes are producing amazing crops of fruit and I'm looking forward to filling bag after bag to pop into the freezer for a rainy day.

I'm not the biggest fan of a baked cheesecake but because the cooked layer is quite thin I was more than happy with my dessert. If you have a go at making this you'll find that there is a quantity of cheesecake batter left over but you can easily make a couple of individual cheesecakes with some extra biscuits.

Cut Mixed Berry and White Chocolate Cheesecake Slice

You will need:  12.5cm x 35cm loose based tin.

Ingredients:
250g Hobnobs
80g butter, melted
120g white chocolate
1 vanilla bean or 1tsp vanilla extract
125g cream cheese, softened
55g caster sugar
2 medium eggs
125ml whipping cream

To decorate:
60g white chocolate
250g small strawberries
125g raspberries

1. Add the Hobnobs to a food processor and whizz until fine.  Add the melted butter and process until all combined.
2. Pour the biscuit mixture into the tin and press over the base and sides of the tin.  Place in the fridge for 30 minutes.
3. Preheat the oven to 180°C.
4. Break the chocolate into pieces and add to a small bowl.  Place a pan of water on the hob to a gentle simmer and place the bowl with the chocolate over the pan to melt the chocolate.  Cool.  Or if you have an induction hob the chocolate can be placed in a small saucepan and the chocolate melted on the lowest setting.
5. If using, take the vanilla bean and split it lengthways, scrape out the seeds.
6. Place the cream cheese, sugar, eggs and vanilla seeds or vanilla extract into a mixing bowl.  Beat with an electric whisk until the mixture thickens and becomes smooth - if the mixture seems a little thin don't worry it will still be okay.  Now add the cooled chocolate and cream and whisk until the mixture thickens slightly.
7. Remove the tin from the fridge, place onto a large baking tray, and pour in the filling taking care not to overfill.
8. Bake for 30 minutes.  Leave the baked cheesecake in the oven for a couple of hours.  Remove from the oven, cool and place in the fridge for approx 2 hours to chill down.
9. Carefully remove the flan tin and place onto a suitable plate, decorate with the fruit, melt the chocolate and drizzle over the top of the berries.



11 Jul 2015

Cappuccino Cake

Cappuccino Cake

I made this cake just before my holiday, it's quick and easy to make using the never fail all-in-one method. It was hastily photographed and my photograph doesn't really do this delicious cake justice....I'm playing catchup now with the blog posts and with a safety net of only a few in draft to fall back on, I may have to resort to sharing my holiday snaps with you!

This is basically a moist coffee cake with the addition of cocoa powder, the topping is white chocolate, butter, milk and icing sugar. I gave my two cake testers a slice each without telling them what the cake was called or the ingredients I'd used and they both thought it tasted of hazelnut. Interestingly the coffee/chocolate combo appears to confuse the taste buds!

If you own an induction hob the icing ingredients can be melted gently in a pan on the hob instead of over a pan of water.

You will need:  28cm x 18cm tin fully lined to come above the edges of the tin.

225g Stork SB
225g self raising flour
1 tsp baking powder
1 tsp cocoa powder
225g caster sugar
4 eggs
3tbsp coffee granules,
dissolved in 2 tbsp hot water

For the icing:
115g white chocolate (I use Menier because it melts easily)
55g softened butter
3tbsp milk
175g icing sugar

1. Preheat the oven to 180°C.
2. Sift the dry ingredients into a large bowl, add the butter, caster sugar, eggs and coffee mix.  Whisk for 2 minutes.
3. Pour the cake batter into the lined tin.
4. Bake for 35 minutes or until cooked.
5. For the icing: Add the chocolate, butter and milk to a bowl set over a saucepan of simmering water, stir until the chocolate has melted.
6. Remove the pan from the heat and sift in the icing sugar.  Beat until smooth. Spread over the cake quickly.
7. Dust with cocoa powder and when the icing is set cut into squares.
8. Freezes superbly.
9. Eat with a fabulous cup of coffee.



26 Jun 2015

Raspberry, Almond and Custard Cake Recipe

Raspberry, Almond and Custard Cake fresh from the oven

The custard layer for this cake is made from Birds Custard Powder, in this house we love it. Posh custard out of a carton isn't suitable, neither is low fat, out of a can, ready made or a fancy version of home made.........it's just got to be yellow custard powder made with milk and cooked without any lumps!

Last time I made this cake I used frozen raspberries and they all sank to the bottom of the cake, so let's forget the fact that I ruined a perfectly good bake.  This time round I used fresh and they stayed on top of the cake.  I also baked the cake on a conventional setting rather than the fan setting and this allowed the cake to rise gently without the cake batter rising and burying the raspberries.

So, if you are looking for a large cake that's easy to make and love the bright yellow stuff, then maybe this recipe will be perfect for you too.

A slice of raspberry, almond and custard cake

It's best to make the custard the day before you make the cake.

You will need:  22cm deep springform tin greased and lined sides and base

250g salted butter, softened
2 tablespoons finely grated orange rind
330g caster sugar
4 eggs
225g self-raising flour
75g plain flour
2 tablespoons fresh orange juice or from a carton
60g ground almonds
150g fresh
20g flaked almonds

For the Custard:
2 tablespoons custard powder
55g caster sugar
250ml milk
20g butter, chopped
1 teaspoon vanilla extract

1. To make the custard: Place the custard powder and sugar in a small saucepan, gradually stir in the milk. Cook, stirring, until the mixture boils and thickens. Remove from heat, stir in the butter and vanilla extract. Wet a  piece of clingwrap and press over the surface of the custard to prevent a skin forming. Place in the fridge until cold.
2. Preheat oven to 170°C.
3. Place the butter, orange rind and sugar in a large bowl and mix until light and fluffy. Beat in the eggs one at a time. Gradually fold in the flours, orange juice and ground almonds.
4. Spread two-thirds of the cake mixture into the prepared cake tin. Dollop small spoonfuls of custard over the cake batter. Spoon the remaining cake mixture over custard, carefully spread with a small spatula to completely cover the custard. Sprinkle over the raspberries followed by the flaked almonds.
5. Bake for about 1 hour 25 minutes or until cooked, if it shows signs of getting too brown cover the tin loosely with a piece of foil and bake for a few minutes longer until cooked.  Cool the cake in the tin.
6. Serve the cake with whipped cream just as it is.
7. Store in the fridge.
Adapted from an Australian Women's Weekly recipe.

Are you yay or nay when it comes to Birds Custard?

Bird's Custard is an egg free alternative to custard and The Black Country Bugle tells the story about the famous brand.

For more raspberry inspiration:
Raspberry, Chocolate and Almond Cake
The Perfect Raspberry and Almond Cake
Mini Raspberry Cream Brownies


21 Jun 2015

Raspberry and Coconut Scones Recipe

Raspberry and Coconut Scones Fresh from the Oven

I came across this scone recipe on the BBC Good Food website and they looked so temptingly delicious I thought I'd get the pinny on and see how they turned out.

Coconut and raspberries are a delightful combo, these light and fluffy scones are amazing and all you need is a dollop of whipped cream for the perfect mouthful!

Raspberry and Coconut Scones Recipe

Raspberries are one of my favourite berries and I love the sweet/sharp flavour. They are the cooks friend, you can use them fresh or frozen and they liven up even the humblest of bakes.

Slightly adapted recipe:

200g self-raising flour
25g desiccated coconut, plus 1 tbsp for sprinkling
50g cold salted butter, cut into small cubes
25g golden caster sugar
100ml buttermilk
1-2 tbsp full-fat milk
50g frozen raspberries
1 egg, beaten

You will need: Large baking tray dusted with flour.

1. Preheat the oven to 220ºC.
2. Place the flour in a bowl with the coconut and salt. Add the butter and rub in with your fingertips until the mixture resembles breadcrumbs. Add the sugar and mix in. Pour in the buttermilk and milk. Mix with a knife until the mixture has almost come together,add the raspberries and mix again, trying not to break up the fruit too much.
3. Tip the dough onto a work surface and knead a little to bring it togetherv– don’t overwork or the scones will be heavy. Pat the dough into a square about 4-5cm deep.
4. Cut into 4 pieces, shape them back into squares.
5. Place onto a baking tray, brush with egg, sprinkle with a little coconut.

Raspberry and Coconut Scones Ready for the Oven

6. Bake for 15 minutes until golden and risen. Leave to cool on a wire rack.
7. Either eat on the same day or freeze the cooked scones.

For more scone inspiration you may also like:
In Search of the Perfect Scone Recipe
Fresh Berry Scones
Blueberry Breakfast Scones



13 Jun 2015

Little Apple and Almond Cakes Recipe

Little Apple and Almond Cakes with Creme Fraiche

These little cakes remind me in taste and texture of almond macaroons which I ate as a child.  They are easy to make and taste delicious.

My tins (in the photograph below) have removable bases and were given to me by an elderly lady who had been an avid baker but found she was baking less and less. The tins are old, well used and I love them. I'm sure you too have baking tins that have been passed onto you.

If you need a dessertcumcake recipe that is inexpensive to make then look no further......

Slightly adapted recipe from Mary Berry's Absolute Favourites.

Makes: 6

You will need:  six tins with removable bases measuring approximately 7cm or a muffin tin

75g butter, melted
100g self-raising flour
100g caster sugar
1 large egg, beaten
½ tsp almond extract
1 x Braeburn apple, peeled and thinly sliced
15g flaked almonds

1. Preheat the oven to 180ºC.
2. Grease the inside of the tins with butter and dust with flour. Place the tins on a baking tray.
3. Pour the melted butter into a bowl. Add the sugar, flour, egg and almond extract and mix until smooth.
4. Spoon a little of the mixture into the base of each tin, arrange a few apple slices over the cake batter and spoon the remaining cake mixture on top, level with the back of a teaspoon.
5. Scatter the flaked almonds over the cake mixture. Bake for 25–30 minutes, or until risen and golden.

The baked apple and almond cakes

6. Place on a cooling rack for 10 minutes, remove the cakes from the tins. Serve warm (reheat in a microwave) with crème fraîche or ice cream.

Mini Apple and Almond Cakes


7 Jun 2015

Cheese and Spring Onion Quiche Recipe

Cheese and Spring Onion Quiche

Do you remember the quiche I made a while back?  I've taken the same pastry recipe because it works every time and the same savoury custard filling because it's delicious.  This time, however, I've used a combination of spring onions which saves cooking onions, Leicester cheese for colour and because I grew up in Leicestershire and miss the local Leicester cheese, and cheddar cheese because it's always in the fridge. This time though I've used a 20cm deep tin instead of the 23cm tin I used in the last recipe.

My chive flowers are just for fun.  When I picked them they were in a tight bud and all you have to do is gently rub the bud between your fingers and they will gradually open. Place your fingers on top of the flower and gently stroke the bud open to reveal the flowers. Carnation buds sometimes refuse to open and you can use this trick with them too.

This is a fairly quick and easy recipe and after all who wants to spend loads of time in the kitchen when the sun is shining.

225g plain flour, plus extra for dusting
140g cold butter, diced
1 tsp icing sugar
1 egg yolk

For the filling:
1 bunch spring onions, sliced
75g Red Leicester cheese, grated
75g Mature Cheddar cheese, grated
2 eggs
300ml double cream

You will need: 20cm loose base fluted tin 2.5cm deep

1. Add the flour, pinch of salt and the butter into the bowl of a food processor and whiz until it resembles breadcrumbs. Now add the icing sugar, egg yolk and 3 tbsp cold water, to form a firm dough. Wrap in cling film and rest for 20 minutes in the fridge.
2. Preheat the oven to 200ºC. Roll out the pastry and line the tart tin. Cover the tin with crumpled baking parchment and fill with baking beans. Cook for 20 minutes, remove the paper and beans. Brush the pastry base with beaten egg and cook for 5-10 minutes more until the tart case is pale.
3. Turn the oven down to 160ºC.  Scatter over the spring onions and cheeses over the base of the tart case. Whisk together the eggs and cream, season. Pour into the tart case and cook for 40-45 minutes or until just set. Remove from the oven and cool on a wire rack.

If you like this post you may like these recipes too:
Cherry Tomato, Cheese and Red Onion Marmalade Quiche
Cheese, Onion and Potato Quiche with Wild Rice Salad
Roasted Tomato, Basil and Parmesan Quiche




1 Jun 2015

Black Forest Muffins Recipe

Black Forest Muffins Recipe

I remember Mum buying frozen Black Forest Gateau, it was considered posh and definitely not an everyday cakecumdessert, we always ate this on high days and holidays. I love a bit of 70's nostalgia, but looking back, I'm not quite sure what the gateau was actually made from!

Fast forward and today we still love the magical combination of chocolate and cherries, hence these delicious muffins.

Tinned cherries can sometimes lack in flavour and I added a few drops of cherry flavouring (purchased from Lakeland) to the cake batter.

You will need: 12 hole muffin tin lined with 12 muffin/tulip cases

Makes: 12
250g self-raising flour
25g cocoa powder
2tsp baking powder
175g caster sugar
pinch of salt
175ml milk
2 large eggs
100ml sunflower or vegetable oil
1 tsp vanilla extract
few drops of cherry flavouring (I used Lakeland)
425g can pitted black cherries, drained

Buttercream:
140g unsalted butter, softened
280g icing sugar,sieved
1 tbsp milk
grated chocolate and fresh cherries to decorate

Optional: Kirsch to brush over the cooked muffins

1. Preheat the oven to 170ºC.
2.Sift together the flour, cocoa and baking powder and stir in the sugar. Add the remaining ingredients, with the exception of the cherries, and mix gently together. Now add the cherries and fold in carefully trying not to break up the fruit.
3.Using an ice cream scoop place the mixture into the cases.
4. Bake for 20 mins or cooked. Cool for 10 mins, brush with kirsch, then transfer to a wire rack and leave until cold.

To make the buttercream:
1. Place the sieved icing sugar into a large bowl followed by the softened butter and milk.  Using either a handwhisk or stand mixer beat together for a good 5 minutes until the mixture is white and a light texture.
2. Using a piping bag and large plain nozzle pipe swirls on top of the cooled muffins.
3. Decorate with a whole cherry and grated chocolate.

Black Forest Cake
Jamie Oliver's Chocolate Love Cake
Cherry Jubilee Queen of Puddings

25 May 2015

Crème Brûlée with Shortbread Spoons Recipe

Creme Brulee with Shortbread Spoons

Whilst we were in Paris I couldn't resist ordering crème brûlée for dessert but sadly it didn't live up to my expectations and when I returned home I decided to make my own.  I chose a recipe by Delia Smith which isn't the usual oven cooked version but a quick method where everything is cooked in one pan and produces a rich and creamy dessert.

Delia makes a caramel and pours this over the chilled desserts but I always like to top mine with demerara sugar and then use a blow torch to brown and caramelise the sugar.

I love breaking into the topping with a spoon and if the shortbread spoon breaks then this just adds to the fun!

Having made this version I still prefer the oven cooked version which I find is lighter and not quite so rich.

If you prefer more custard than topping then narrow deep ramekins are best but if you, like me, love the topping and prefer a shallow custard layer, then these shallow gratin dishes are ideal.

570ml double cream
6 large egg yolks
4 teaspoons cornflour
2 tablespoons golden caster sugar
a few drops pure vanilla extract
demerara sugar

You will need: 6 small ramekins or 4 large ramekins - the dessert requires making a day in advance to give the custard a chance to chill down and set.

1.  Mix the egg yolks, cornflour, caster sugar and vanilla extract together.
2. Heat the cream in a saucepan until it reaches boiling point and then pour it over the egg yolks whilst beating with a whisk. Return the mixture to the saucepan.
3. Place the saucepan back onto a medium heat. Whisk until the sauce has thickened - which should only take a minute or two.
4.  Pour the custard into the ramekins and leave to cool. Cover each ramekin with cling film and place in the fridge overnight.
5. Remove the ramekins from the fridge and cover each one with 1½ teaspoons of demerara sugar. Spray with a little water and then using a blow torch caramelise the sugar by moving the flame around until the sugar is caramelised.

If you fancy making the shortbread spoons........

Shortbread Spoons

You will need: a silicone spoon mould that is suitable for oven use
175g plain flour
75g caster sugar
175g salted butter, at room temperature
75g fine semolina
extra caster sugar

1. Preheat the oven to 150°C.
2. Place all the ingredients into a mixing bowl and rub together until it resembles large breadcrumbs. Bring together to form a dough.
3. Take small pieces of the dough and press into the spoon moulds.  Place the mould on a metal tray.
4. Bake for approximately 1 hour until pale golden.
5. Place the mould onto a wire rack to cool. Remove the spoons carefully, any that break are the cooks treat.


11 May 2015

Malted and White Bread Rolls

Salmon and Rocket Bread Roll
Salmon and Rocket Bread Roll
I'm in bread making mode at the moment and for me it doesn't matter a jot whether the dough is made in my breadmaker or in the food mixer, there's one thing for sure it won't be me kneading the dough for 10 minutes my arms just aren't strong enough!

I bought an artisan malted wheat flour from one of the discount stores, it was an amazing find, a bag of artisan 'OO' flour found it's way into my trolley too and I'm feeling pretty chuffed with my supermarket finds.

Baked Malted and White Bread Rolls
The baked rolls
The recipe I've used is for a breadmaker but it can be followed and adapted for a mixer using the dough hook. Just be sure to give the dough a first rise until doubled in size before shaping the bread rolls.

A reusable non-stick tray liner, also a find at the discount supermarket, is really useful it saves greasing an oven tray and then the dreaded washing up.

Makes: 12
1 tsp easy blend yeast
350g strong white bread flour
150g strong malted bread flour
1 tsp sea salt
15g butter
300ml water

1. Place the ingredients into the bread pan as per the instructions for your breadmaker.
2. Select the white dough option.
3. When the dough is ready turn out onto a silicone mat and knead to knock out the air.
4. Cut the dough into 12 pieces and shape into rolls.
5. Place them onto either a greased, floured or lined baking tray to prove.  I like to place mine fairly close together so they join up when they bake.

Dough rolls ready for rising

6. Cover the rolls with oiled clingwrap and leave to rise until double in size.
7. Preheat the oven to 220oC.
8. Remove the clingwrap and sprinkle some malted flour over each roll.

The risen bread rolls dough

  9. Bake for 15 minutes until golden brown.
10. Place the rolls onto a wire rack to cool.

Malted and White Bread Rolls cooling

More bread inspiration:
Sunburst Rolls
Feta, Tomato and Rosemary Flowerpot Breads
Italian Style Bread