Monday, 30 June 2008

Cooking up Some Barefoot Contessa!

I’ve visited a few of Ina Garten’s cookbooks before on my blog, but Ina’s books could never be a one recipe wonder, well not in my house anyway. We have eaten many great meals courtesy of Ina, and although I sometimes drift away from the Barefoot Contessa books, I always find my way back again.

UKTV Food channel in the UK has been showing Ina’s TV programmes for a while now, and I do like to watch her shows. I know from comments I’ve read on foodie forums that I frequent that Ina is either a like her or loathe her kind of woman, I like her a lot!

The most frequent question I get in relation to Ina is which book should I buy first? It’s a hard question, and one that I can’t really answer as I like them all; but this is not very helpful, so what I tend to say is I started with the first cookbook – The Barefoot Contessa Cookbook and followed with the second Barefoot Contessa Parties! And have pre-ordered the rest as they came out. She has a new one out later this year – Barefoot Contessa Back to Basics for anyone interested.

Here is a selection of the most recent Ina recipes I’ve tried - all delicious.

Ina’s Creme Brulee from Barefoot in Paris, I’ve made this a couple of times and I played around with it a bit, half milk and half double (heavy) cream is my preferance. Recipe Here.

This is an absolute must try! Curried Couscous from The Barefoot Contessa Cookbook. I found it hard to stop eating this – and believe me I never thought I’d say that about couscous =) Recipe Here.

Lemon Chicken

Lemon Chicken with Satay Sauce both from The Barefoot Contessa Cookbook, a terrific combination, her satay sauce is lovely, a bit thicker than many I’ve made before but packed full of flavour. Recipe Here.

A family supper, Mac and Cheese from Barefoot Contessa Family Style, makes a huge amount! Recipe Here.

Asian Salmon, Vegetable tian and sauteed sweetcorn from Barefoot Contessa Parties! (salmon and Corn) and vegetable tian from Barefoot in Paris, a really great Summer supper. Recipe Here, and Here and Here.

Pear, Apple and Cranberry Crisp a gorgeous crisp from Ina’s most recent book – Barefoot Contessa at Home. There is plenty fruit and loads of topping, mmmm. Recipe Here.

Sunday, 29 June 2008

No Daring Baker Challenge

Sorry I just didn't manage it this month, but do click on my Daring Baker blogroll link, and see many lovely Danish braids.

Wednesday, 11 June 2008

Apple Blondies with Brown Sugar Frosting

I saw these blondies on a blog, and just had to buy the book… It’s an Canadian baking book called Bars & Squares by Jill Snider. This book is choc-a-bloc with delicious sounding and great looking baked goods, like blueberry cheesecake bars, coconut chocolate caramel squares and amazing Amaretto brownies.

It was really the frosting that had propelled me kitchen ward, but after I made them it was the fabulous apple blondies that were the star. The frosting gilded the lily, but the brownies could easily stand alone, the apple-y taste was just wonderful! They were even better second day, the frosting settled down and blended with the blondies better, well in my view anyway =)

Thank you to Maria of The Goddesses Kitchen for making the blondies first - see here - and putting me in touch with a new book!

My notes are that I just sifted the icing sugar straight into the pan, see method and I got 24 good sized squares.
Apple Blondies with Brown Sugar Frosting
From Bars & Squares by Jill Snider

2/3 cup butter, softened
2 cups brown sugar, packed
2 eggs
1 teaspoon vanilla
2 cups all purpose flour
2 teaspoons baking powder
Pinch salt
1 cup peeled chopped apples
3/4 cup chopped walnuts

Brown Sugar Frosting:
4 oz ½ cup butter
1 cup brown sugar, packed
¼ cup milk
2 cups icing (confectioner's) sugar, sifted

Lina a 13 x 9 inch baking tin with baking parchment. Set oven to180oC / 350oF.
In a large bowl, using an electric mixer on medium speed, beat butter, brown sugar, eggs and vanilla until thick and smooth, about 3 minutes. Combine flour, baking powder and salt. Add to butter mixture on low speed, mixing until blended. Stir in apples and nuts, mixing well. Spread evenly in the prepared tin and bake until set and golden, 25-30 minutes. Let cool completely in pan on rack.
Brown Sugar Frosting:
In a small saucepan over low heat, melt butter. Stir in brown sugar and milk. Bring mixture just to a boil then remove from heat and let cool to lukewarm. Sift in the confectioner's sugar, mixing until smooth. Spread evenly over bar. Let stand until frosting is firm enough to cut. Cut into bars or squares.

Thursday, 5 June 2008

More Nigella Express

57 Chocolate Peanut Butter Fudge Sundae Sauce

I haven’t done a Nigella Express post for a while, but I’m still cooking, often repeat recipes that I’ve already blogeged about, but here is the next round up.

As always (for anybody new) this is a sort of mini project I gave myself to cook a good number of dishes from Nigella Express by Nigella Lawson. The numbers in front of the recipe titles represent their number as I've posted about them (I've cooked more than this!), and again as always I don’t post the recipes, because I couldn’t post so many recipes from any one book! Hope you enjoy!

48 Avocado & Tomato Bruchetta
A breakfast this was meant to be in the book, but I made it quickly one day for my solitary lunch, it was good, actually surprising in its simplicity, but none the worse for it. The tomato and avocado flavours just jumped!

49 Festive Fusilli
A little pasta recipe from the Holiday Snaps chapter, we liked this a lot, slightly warming with a little vodka, creamy with mascarpone and vibrant with sun blush tomatoes.

50 Pineapple upside Down Cake
It was this recipe that prompted me to make my other (Wanda) upside down cake. I made this pretty cake with a view to having some leftovers, but sadly it was all gone =)

51 Quesadillas
Or hot tortilla sandwiches, thin mouthfuls of ham and cheese and tortilla, yum!

52 Mirn Glazed Salmon
It has taken me so long to make this salmon, and so many of my Nigella friends have raved over it! In served it with noodles and greenery, lovely. I used sherry in place of the mirn, just because this is my preferance – mirn makes me so thirsty for ages afterwards!

53 Aromatic Crispy Duck
When I made this I couldn’t help thinking to myself that it would be nothing like the fantastic restaurant duck of the same name, but it was really very good! Duck, Chinese wheat pancakes, hoisin sauce, cucumber and spring onions.

54 Scallops and Chorizo
This was very quick, very tasty and very colourful.

55 Chickpeas and Rocket
The scallops above went with this dish of warmed chick peas and wilted rocket, this part wasn’t quite my thing.

56 Puy Lentil Salad
Made with tinned puy lentils, a product hitherto unknown in my kitchen, but it made a fast good salad! Serve not long after making, as it went a bit unpleasent kept in the fridge overnight, fortunately I only kept a spoonful.

57. Chocolate Peanut Butter Fudge Sundae
This recipe is so simple an older child could easily make it, I didn’t let mine do it, as although she gets to help Mummy, I don’t let her near the actual cooker yet. It is a great little sauce for ice cream, Nigella suggests vanilla, chocolate and caramel ice creams for a full on ice cream sundae. We tried vanilla and caramel. Although I liked the vanilla, I’d just serve it with caramel ice cream next time. As the flavour sensation between the caramel and the sauce was really very very good! I even managed to use my new little jug! This is one of the recipes that I’d say if you have the book make make it soon!

Sunday, 1 June 2008

Sweet and Simple Bakes June 2008 - Cranberry and White Chocolate Flapjacks

Sweet and Simple Bakes is a new baking group that I’ve joined, and this is their first month. Its founders are Maria and Rosie, both fabulous bakers in their own right. It’s about a group baking of something lovely to have in the tins or under the cake dome in my case (!) for a weekend nibble or to give to family and friends.
This first months bake is something that we are very partial to in our house – flapjacks. Now this isn’t the US flapjack, but an oaty, buttery sweet bar; and here is it embellished with dried cranberries and drizzled with a little melted white chocolate when cooled. They were ever so delicious!

Thanks to Rosie and Maria for choosing such a great first recipe! Click here for the blog, blogroll and also the second months recipe.

Cranberry and White Chocolate Flapjacks

Makes 12

250g butter
100g demerara sugar
200g golden syrup
250g rolled oats
75g plain flour
100g dried cranberries
100g white chocolate, chopped

1.Preheat the oven to 170C/ Gas 3. Line a 23cm square tin with baking paper (please do not use greaseproof).
2.Melt the butter, sugar and golden syrup in a large pan over a low heat (stirring occasionally), until the butter and sugar have completely melted. Add the rolled oats, flour and cranberries to the pan, and stir together well.

3.Spread the mixture evenly into the prepared tin. Bake for 30 to 35 minutes until golden brown. Leave to cool for a few minutes, then mark into 12 squares – but don’t cut all the way through. Allow to cool in the tin completely.

4. Melt the white chocolate and drizzle over each bar. (When melting chocolate you use a heatproof bowl over a low simmering saucepan of hot water but making sure the water is not hitting the bottom of the bowl.)