Saturday 29 September 2007

Daring Bakers September - Cinnamon & Sticky Buns

It’s that time of month again, and five months on the Daring Baker Challenge has lost none of its charm. If you would like to read some background on the Daring Bakers link at the end of this post, or in my 'Places I Like To Visit' on the right.

It’s a fun thing to do - dedicate a special time to sharing a baking experience and maybe making something that you might not otherwise have done. This months challenge is Cinnamon and / or Sticky Buns, the recipe comes from Peter Reinhart’s The Bread Baker’s Apprentice. I chose to do the recipe half and half – half cinnamon and half sticky.
I have wanted to make sticky buns for quite a number of years now, and can think of a couple I have earmarked to try, Tessa Kiros has a recipe in one of her books that I’ve heard rave reviews about. The thing that has stopped me is thinking that I might end up with a burned caramel and buns that were stuck like glue to the tin. Never let it be said I’m not a positive thinker =) I came very close to chickening out of the sticky bun part, but thankfully I gave it a go, and you know what? They came out fine!

The recipe can be broken down into component parts, the (1)sweet yeasted dough, (2) cinnamon sugar, (3) white fondant glaze and (4) caramel glaze plus fruit and nuts.

Like many multi-stepped recipes, as a whole they seem like a lot but break it down and what you have is quite manageable. The cinnamon sugar was just a stir together job, and the recipe allows you to use any spices you like, I thought about using mixed spice to go down the hot-cross-bun style route, but stuck with cinnamon because we all like it, and as I’ve not made this type of bun before I wanted it to be echt. The caramel glaze was made in the food mixer, and only a light bit of chopping for the fruit and nuts. The sweet yeasted dough flavoured with a little lemon zest was easy too, although I needed to add a few spoons more of flour than in the ingredients to make a dough.

I used the food mixer to knead the dough, something I've not done before – but will definitely do again, as it made such light work of it! When I think of the hard work kneading the bagels of a previous challenge… but I guess you have to do it by hand a number of times to know what it should look / feel like when the equipment has help out. The dough had a first rising of 2 hours, some fellow Daring Bakers had issues with slow rising dough, so I left it for 3 hours (having gone out) and it looked fine when I came back.

I used dried cranberries, apricots and pecans for my fruit and nuts.

The dough was rolled out, sprinkled with sugar, rolled up and cut into slices then set upon the baking sheet and the prepared pan with the caramel glaze with fruit and nuts for it’s final proving. Then into the oven, while I mixed up the fondant glaze (it taste so good on its own, cooks perk you know!).

My cinnamon bun whilst being in no way burned came out a lot darker than I would have expected, although I don’t have a lot of yeast and bread experience, so I’m really not sure it this is right or not. I had a vision in my mind of a kind of Danish pastry, which I suppose was a bit off track. The cinnamon buns came out first and were very pretty in their towering spiral circles. Once they cooled they were drizzled with the glaze, I did enjoy the drizzling a lot.

The sticky buns were inverted to turn them out, and what a sight to behold they were! Glistening caramel and bejewelled fruit, with a really golden bun dough in there somewhere.

We liked them both, my favourite was the cinnamon buns, probably for the lemon-cinnamon flavour combination which I really liked, that and the fact that they somehow reminded me of the bakery iced buns I can remember from childhood. Though the sticky buns were great too. I could hardly believe that I had made the results of this challenge, I’m really pleased with them.

Thank you to Marce of Pip in the City for choosing this months challenge. Click away at the Daring Bakers site to see how everyone else got on with them.

Wednesday 26 September 2007

Nigella Express Project Continued…

Another lot from Nigella Express by Nigella Lawson! I’m enjoying cooking from this book, it fits in so well with daily life, and of course I’m getting the joy of trying some new Nigella recipes. Any good suggestions for different ways to say the title of this post will be used soon!

13. Macaroni Cheese
This is a quick take on the original, the sauce is cheese, evaporated milk egg and seasonings blitzed in a food processor, then mixed with newly cooked macaroni and given a short spell in the oven. It tasted good, it didn’t knock my own version off it’s perch, but as the quick fix it is, it’s still worth making.

14. Mini Meatloaves
This we loved! Mince, sausage meat, A1 sauce (I used HP), oats, and seasonings. Formed into little loaves and baked. Nigella says they are not pretty, and they aren’t but the taste more than makes up for this! They are supposed to be served cold, but I would have to say I really liked them out of the oven too! I sliced mine up for the next nights tea, we were lucky there was enough left!

15. Chicken alla Cacciatora
This was a very speedy recipe, notwithstanding having to skin and bone the chicken thighs! Even so, I did this bit the night before, so when tea time came it was a quick job. This a dertainly better first day in my opinion, the gutsy-ness of the rosemary and bacon instead of developing, were lost second day. Keith suggested that some olives and capers would be good additions, and he is right… next time! I served this with rice. This one was on TV, so it’s been published on the BBC site already, so tah dah – a recipe!

Chicken alla Cacciatora
From Nigella Express by Nigella Lawson.

1 tbsp garlic oil
75g/2½oz pancetta cubes
6 spring onions, finely sliced
1 tsp finely chopped fresh rosemary
500g/1lb boneless chicken thighs, cut into bite-sized pieces
½ tsp celery salt
125ml/4½fl oz white wine
1 x 400g/14oz can chopped tomatoes
2 bay leaves
½ tsp sugar
1 x 400g/14oz can cannellini beans, rinsed and drained (optional)
1. Heat the garlic oil in a pan and fry the pancetta, spring onions and chopped rosemary for 2-3 minutes.2. Add the chicken pieces, sprinkle in the celery salt and stir well.3. Pour in the wine and bring to a simmer, then add the tomatoes, bay leaves and sugar. Cover with a lid and leave to simmer for 20 minutes.4. Add the drained cannellini beans, if using, and simmer until the beans are warmed through and the chicken is completely cooked through.5. To serve, divide among four serving dishes.

16. Amaretto Syllabub
If anyone has made the Turkish Syllabub from Nigella Bites, you’ll see where this recipe has evolved from. We love a creamy pudding, and I have made the Turkish one often, with many a liqueur, mainly fruit ones. This one has Amaretto in it, and I couldn’t help thinking: why didn’t I try that one? It’s gorgeous, and a sprinkling of amaretti biscuits both on the bottom of the glasses and on top before serving make it trifle-esque. Our little one (who I had made a different pudding for) was very keen on this! But I wasn’t so keen to give her it seeing as it has a reasonable amount of Amaretto in it! Nigella uses soft amaretti biscuits, but I could only get the hard ones so just gave then a good bash instead of a light crumble. My picture isn’t that inspiring, but it’s a delightful dessert.

Amaretto Syllabub
From Nigella Express by Nigella Lawson

80ml amaretto
25g caster sugar
1 x 15ml tablespoon lemon juice
10 fl oz Double Cream
Soft Amaretti Biscuits
Pour the amaretto into a bowl with the sugar and lemon juice, whick at mix.
Whisk in the double cream and whisk until thickened but still soft and billowy.
Crumble 2 amaretti biscuits each into the base of 4 glasses.
Divide the syllabub between the glasses and crumble another biscuit on top of each.

Saturday 22 September 2007

Salmon, Noodles and take the Rocky Road...

Here is some more from The Project on Nigella Express by Nigella Lawson. I’m going to aim for 2 or 3 recipes a week. I feel a bit badly about not posting recipes, so have emailed Admin on the Nigella website to ask if I can post some. Once the TV show (currently about to show episode 4 of 13) has aired there will be more available online, which I’m sure would be safe to post or hyperlink to. In the meantime though, here are some more.

10. Seared Salmon and 11. Singapore Noodles
This is from the Workday Winners chapter of the book, and the salmon which is coated with a mixture of curry powder, salt and sugar then seared in a pertty hot pan. It was a really quick and very tasty way to cook salmon. The sugar caramelised nicely with the spice and left a crispy edge, of course salmon stands up really well to spicy flavours anyway.

The noodles are rice noodles with prawns, greenery, baby corn and beansprouts. They were in turn flavoured with stock, Chinese cooking wine (I used sherry) soy and garlic oil. They look a bit messy, but they were also good and went well with the salmon (the suggested pairing).

12. Rocky Road Crunch Bars
Although I am a keen baker, I also have a very soft spot for uncooked bars too. These are a sort of fridge cake, melted chocolate and butter, mixed with golden syrup and then crumbs and pieces of Rich Tea biscuits and marshmallows were folded in. I made these with the white mini marshmallows, to look like the picture in the book, but I’d use the pink and yellow ones next time for some extra colour. The dusting of icing sugar in top has a double use: to make them look pretty with the contrast in colour and also to cover the tops which are a bit haphazard, or at least mine were anyway!

These are not overtly sweet, probably due to the 300g of 70% cocoa dark chocolate used. I often use half dark and half milk chocolate in recipes, but didn’t here as I thought the marshmallows would have been sweeter, but I could have done my usual 50 / 50 with no problems. Having said that they were a good little bar, which fairly scratched the post lunch / mid afternoon chocolate itch, and would be a lovely addition for a lunch box, which is their intended suggested use by Nigella.

Tuesday 18 September 2007

Broccoli & Stilton Soup, Coq Au Riesling and Breakfast Bars

This is the next batch of the Project, from Nigella Express by Nigella Lawson.

7. Broccoli & Stilton Soup
I made this one for Hubby as he absolutely loves soup, and he is pretty keen on blue cheese as well. This fast soup used 1kg of frozen broccoli, and is basically a simmered soup but with Stilton (blue cheese) added in while simmering, as opposed to at the end. Nigella also added in dried thyme. It blended into a smooth soup and made a vat of it. It was a bit strong for me, and I wasn’t convinced about the thyme, but I didn’t make it for me (just felt I should give it a go!) and Hubby liked it a lot, strong and gutsy and the blue cheese taste was strong.

8. Coq Au Riesling
I sort of de-expressed this one a bit, because I can’t get boneless skinless chicken thighs where I live, so had to do a bit of DIY boning and skinning. I’ve done it before, and although I hadn’t forgotten how to do it, it did take me a little while to do. I had about 14 thighs, and the first 6 took me about 20 minutes, but the other 8 took only about 5 minutes – once I established a routine for doing them it became quite fast.

The chicken is simmered in a whole bottle of Riesling along with bacon, mushrooms, leek, garlic oil and bay leaves. At the end of the recipe Nigella says this is best the day after it’s made, so I planned for this and made the stew one night ready for reheating the next night. I liked this a lot, and didn’t add cream in this time, but I will try it next time just to see what it’s like. I served it with buttered noodles, and the sprinkling of dill in the recipe, and the dill went really well. I don’t think I’ve ever made anything with dill and chicken together (lots of dill and fish though!), and it worked well with the wine-y chicken and mushrooms. I re-heated the stew and cooked the noodles after a day out and it provided a lovely comforting supper, for what was a cold Autumn evening. Will do this one again for sure.

9. Breakfast Bars
These are a quick measure and stir then bake job. They make a sort of dry flapjack, or granola in bar form. I replaced the peanuts in the recipe with chopped pecans, there was also coconut, dried cranberries, pumpkin seeds and sunflower seeds – the liquid part being a tin of condensed milk. Nigella said in the book that these get better and better as they sit, and it’s true, they seem to have matured over a couple of days into a deeper taste than on the day they were made. They are really fruity, oaty, nutty and filling, my kind of breakfast on the run, mmm.

Saturday 15 September 2007

Nigella Express – The Project

I’ve read to the end of Nigella Express now, and have marked 129 recipes! There are 4 drinks and a couple of salad dressings but the rest are all full recipes. I was thinking can I seriously blog so much from one book? So I’ve thought and thought some more, and what I’ve come up with is to blog the 129 recipes as a kind of project, these are not ALL the recipes in the book, just the ones I’ve chosen.

I’ll still do other things, you can’t have a cook book habit like me and only cook from one book - and of course there has to be space for cakes and also the escapades of the lovely Daring Bakers too =) I hope you all think this sounds like a good idea! What do you think?

So I’ve numbered the recipes in my previous Express post and will number them from here on in as I post pictures and blog my Express ventures casually, two or three recipes at a time. I feel a bit bemused / amused with myself going down the fast food avenue. Mind you Nigella herself draws the distinction of Nigella Express being real food fast for people who love food. I begin my journey in earnest. Please come and join me =)

So here is the next instalment, Quick Chilli, Chef’s Salad and Instant Chocolate Mousse.

4. Quick Chilli brought to things to my kitchen that have never made their way in before – bought tomato and vegetable pasta sauce from a jar and spicy beans from a tin! What these did along with minced beef, chorizo sausage and spices was make a chilli in 20-30 minutes, on the table and ready to warm you up. Now don’t get me wrong I love real slow simmered chilli and chilli con carne, but when I want comfort food on a weeknight it’s this type of dish I crave or lasagne that’s the other one, oh and Shepherd’s pie… but I’m drifting away here. You get the picture a slow cooked nurturing and feeding savoury dish, but no real time to cook it in. This quick version didn’t have the depth of a long simmered one, but it did have a good flavour and a comforting and somehow less heavy feeling to it, which was really what I was asking of it. I think Hubby was pretty surprised that he got chilli for his supper, on a night when I was really just about beyond making supper of any kind! One thing I will change though is to halve the cinnamon in the spices from ½ teaspoon to a quarter as it was a little strong for me, but tinkering of this sort is what makes a recipe your own.

5. Chef’s Salad is an iceberg lettuce salad with cheese, ham, avocado and sweetcorn kernels, dressed with a red wine vinegar and olive oil dressing. I thought it was good, but I shaved the cheese instead of grating it and I do think this was a mistake, every forkful would have had cheese if I’d have grated it as Nigella suggested. I’m not sure about the iceberg lettuce here, I like iceberg, but I wasn’t so keen on it with the red wine dressing, I’ll do this again, and maybe try white balsamic vinegar instead. I forgot to defrost ham to cube, so I just piled up some slices deli ham and sort of cubed it but it seemed to work quite well, I guess it all tastes the same anyhow…

6. Instant Chocolate Mousse. I am a girl for chocolate mousse, and when I saw Nigella make this on TV it looked so luscious that I had to try it. Now the will I won’t I factor came about because what makes this ‘ instant’ is some marshmallows melted with the butter and chocolate. I mean marshmallows in a 70% chocolate mousse? Well it does seem to work, it seems to give the mousse more substance, and indeed it does only need a few minutes in the fridge. If it’s left in the fridge over night it’s too solid for my tastes, but left out to have the chill taken off it again and it was fine again. I’m not saying I’ll abandon all my other mousses that I like, but if someone turns up for supper unexpectedly this could easily be whipped up in 10 minutes for a deeply chocolate-y dessert. Or maybe just if the craving for a full on chocolate pudding strikes! Nigella says 4-6 servings, I would go 6-8 as it was really intense, and no-one would suspect the marshmallows!

Thursday 13 September 2007

Cuban Cure Black Bean Soup

This comforting and delicious soup was shown on Nigella Lawson’s Christmas Special (UK - BBC 2006). It’s not in any of her books, although I would have thought it’d have fitted right in with Nigella Express, but who am I to say what should go in and what shouldn’t.

Anyhow, I can remember Nigella making it in a darkish kitchen as a pick-me-up-and-feed-me after a night on the razzle dazzle! I thought at the time that it looked good, and have a thing for chorizo sausage generally, but it must have become lost and forgotten in the midst of the Christmas celebrations last year. Recently I saw my friend Lisa raving about how good it was and thought I really must make it. Particularly since I managed to find some black beans a little while ago.

It tastes like so much more than its ingredients, a really truly comforting soup, delicious with the sausage, slightly spicy with the cumin, and zingy with the lime and coriander (cilantro) – and then there’s the beans. Perhaps because black beans are new-ish to me, I discovered then 12 years ago, they seem so non-pedestrian and special. I even like the name black turtle beans, although for no particular food based reason, just that I am very fond of turtles (live turtles that is!).

I served this for lunch, and will be making this one again for sure. It’s also quite light, energising but not jading. Thanks Lisa for prompting me into making it, I’d have been missing a great fast soup! My little one ate this as well, which was an added surprise bonus! More Nigella Express next time.

Cuban Cure Black Bean Soup
By Nigella Lawson recipe from here.

150g/5oz chorizo cooking sausage
2 spring onions
½ tsp ground cumin
425g/15oz tin black beans, rinsed and drained
1 fresh tomato, roughly chopped
500ml/17fl oz chicken stock (from fresh or concentrate)
1 lime, juice only
2-4 tbsp chopped, fresh coriander

1. Slice the chorizo sausage into slices about the size of one-pound coins. Slice each of the chorizo discs in half.

2. Place the chorizo pieces into a large saucepan over a medium heat and cook over a medium heat for five minutes, or until they start to become crisp. Remove the chorizo with a slotted spoon and drain on kitchen paper.

3. Slice off the green parts of the spring onions and finely slice them. Set the green parts of the spring onions aside.

4. Finely slice the white part of the spring onions and add the pieces to the frying pan the chorizo was cooked in. Add the ground cumin to the pan, and cook over a gentle heat for two minutes, stirring the mixture.

5. Add the black beans, tomato and the chicken stock. Stir the mixture in the pan and simmer for ten minutes.

6. To serve, ladle the soup into two clean bowls. Add the chorizo pieces and the finely chopped green spring onion to the bowls. Add some lime juice, to taste, to each bowl and sprinkle the chopped coriander on top.

Tuesday 11 September 2007

Nigella Express Is Here!

Nigella Lawson’s long awaited new book has been published in the UK – Nigella Express. As a huge Nigella fan I’m so pleased to have a new book, and this one is easily as good as her others. It’s done on a different theme, being mostly fast cooking or fast action in the kitchen followed by a non-hands on spell in the oven for example. Most recipes have pictures too, so it’s very bright and colourful.

When Feast (her last book) was published it didn’t leave my cooking pile for about a year (the pile I cook from as opposed to read), and I’m expecting this new one to be no different! For this reason I’m not going to post all the recipes, as really I’m not sure how I’d stand posting half a book (indeed maybe more..) on my blog. So what I’ve decided to do is post recipes that are already out there either in magazines or online.

I think this book will fit in with my lifestyle well, because often I want something for my supper that tastes like I’ve had an afternoon in the kitchen, when in reality I can only get to cook that way once or maybe twice a week. I’m definitely not too busy too cook; but I don’t have the time to have a leisurely potter round the kitchen everyday, and really who does?

I’ve cooked three recipes from Nigella Express so far Caramel Croissant Pudding, Mustard Pork Chops with Gnocchi and Cherry Cheesecake.

1. The caramel croissant pudding was easy (as long as you are comfortable with making a caramel) and delivered in the comfort stakes with the lovely flavours of caramel and bourbon in this spin on a regular bread pudding. Nigella said it would serve 2 as supper in its entirety, but my portion was about a sixth, which was enough to feel that I’d had something very yummy for pudding. Everyone else liked it too.

2. The next one I might not have made haad I not seen Nigella cook it on the first eposide of her TV series to accompany the book. It’s pork chops flash fried then the pan deglazed with cider and mustard and cream is added to for the sauce. I tossed in optional gnocchi as after it had floated to the top of the water it had cooked in. I didn’t add any vegetables, but next time will just do a pan of green (French) beans as well, as I did miss a bit of veg! The taste was easily the best sauce of this kind that I’ve tried – and I’ve tried a few. The gnocchi was also the best tasting gnocchi I’ve ever made at home, the little potato dumpling were delicious in the creamy-cider- mustard sauce, how they love that cream! It’s a revelation to realise that once you’ve done this recipe you are just 15 minutes away from a really delicious comforting supper that tastes like you’ve slaved over a hot stove for ages!

3. Finally to the cheesecake, I would admit straight off that I prefer uncooked cheesecake to cooked, it’s not that there is anything wrong with a cooked one, and I do do one cooked cheesecake that is really fabulous, but it is often a bit more dense than I want it to be. This one is a processor base, then a whisked topping with cream folder through it, left in the fridge to set, and finally spread some Dalfour black cherry fruit as the topping just before serving. It wasn’t too sweet, and I liked it, in all it’s retro beauty. In the book Nigella has it pictured on one of her LK black cake stands and very pretty it looks too. Me? I’m a pink girl!……………More Nigella Express coming soon!
Caramel Croissant Pudding
From Nigella Express by Nigella Lawson
Serves 2 greedy people
2 stale croissants
100g caster sugar
2 x 15ml tbsp water
125ml double cream
125ml full-fat milk
2 x 15ml tbsp bourbon
2 eggs, beaten
1 Preheat the oven to 180C/Gas 4.
2 Tear the croissants into pieces and put in a small gratin dish; I use a cast iron oval one with a capacity of about 500ml.
3 Put the caster sugar and water into a saucepan, and swirl around to help dissolve the sugar before putting the saucepan on the hob over a medium to high heat.
4 Caramelize the sugar and water mixture by letting it bubble away, without stirring, until it all turns a deep amber colour; this will take 3 to 5 minutes. Keep looking but don’t be too timid.
5 Turn the heat down to low and add the cream – ignoring all spluttering – and, whisking away, the milk and bourbon. Any solid toffee that forms in the pan will dissolve easily if you keep whisking over a low heat. Take off the heat and, still whisking, add the beaten eggs. Pour the caramel bourbon custard over the croissants and leave to steep for 10 minutes if the croissants are very stale.
6 Place in the oven for 20 minutes and prepare to swoon.

Friday 7 September 2007

Cook Yourself Thin

This is a TV series that is running currently on Channel 4. It’s about 4 girls who all love food passing on their tips and recipes for losing weight. ‘Drop a Dress Size in 6 Weeks’ is their sort of slogan. I bought this book because I’m terrible at thinking of skinny meals, so it was with a positive attitude that I began cooking from this book, which is half the battle really!

I’ve made 4 main courses, a couple of veggie sides and a quick pudding from the book so far - Cook Yourself Thin by Harry Eastwood, Gizzi Erskine, Sal Hanley and Sophie Michell. Here are the main dishes, we liked them all, but my favourite was the Chicken Tikka, it was really so good.
Here they are:

Ceasar Salad with Chicken
Here the dressing is made with zero fat Greek yoghurt, and it works - the Parmesan cheese comes through more strongly than in the regular dressing, and made a delicious skinny dressing. The croutons should have been done as melba toast, but I lost calories from not using all the anchovies, so added back in a little oil and reinstated the croutons.

Egg Fried Rice with Chicken and Prawns
This was good, a little difficult to stir fry with so little oil, but worth it all the same. I liked it with a splodge of sweet chilli sauce. Mmmm.

This was good too, although I think I’d make a soup to have with it next time, as we felt a little under fed. Mind you this is probably because we over eat our pasta portions normally!

Chicken Tikka
This is a lovely curry with plenty of sauce, and the rice is very fragrant and full of flavour. This is the kind of dish that you might first off make with good intentions, but continue to make because it’s really delicious. I used full fat coconut milk, because ½ fat was no where to be seen. There isn’t much of it in the recipe though, so even so it’s still light. I also used parsley as a garnish as no fresh coriander in the house.

Click here to be linked to Channel 4's website and the recipes for Ceaser Salad, Egg Fried Rice and Carbonara.

Chicken Tikka Masala with Fragrant Rice

For the marinade
1 tablespoon tikka masala Curry paste
150g 0% fat Greek yoghurt
2 free-range chicken breasts each cut into 5-6 large chunks

For the sauce
1 rounded tablespoon tikka masala curry paste
1 onion, finely chopped
200g passatta
200ml tin reduced-fat or light coconut milk
1 tablespoon 0% fat Greek yoghurt
A handful of coriander, chopped

For the fragrant rice
100g basmati rice
5 curry leaves
1/2 teaspoon black mustard seeds
1 cinnamon stick
A pinch of saffron (optional)

How to make low-fat chicken tikka masala with fragrant rice
To make the marinade, mix the curry paste, yoghurt, chicken and salt together, cover and leave overnight in the fridge to absorb all the delicious flavours.
Preheat a conventional oven to 220ºC or a fan-assisted one to 200ºC.
Wipe the marinade off the chicken and place, piece by piece, onto a baking tray. Bake for 10 minutes or until slightly charred, but not cooked through.
You are just trying to get some colour here because the chicken will finish cooking in the curry sauce. Set the tikka chicken aside while you make the sauce.
Heat the curry paste in a saucepan. Add the onion and sweat slowly over a low heat for five to eight minutes or until the onion is translucent and soft.
It is important to take the time to do this slowly because the onion will then release its natural sugars, producing a sweeter dish, but be careful not to do this over too high a heat because the curry paste will burn.
Add the passatta and coconut milk and bring to the boil. Turn down the heat and add the tikka chicken.
Cook over a low heat for five minutes or until the chicken is cooked through. Finish by stirring through the yoghurt and coriander.
To make the fragrant rice, add the rice, a pinch of salt and the aromatics to a pan and cover with enough water to come 1cm over the top of the rice.
Bring to the boil and simmer for eight minutes, covered.
The rice should have absorbed almost all of the water, but still be a bit wet.
Remove from the heat and leave to absorb the remaining water for 10 minutes, covered. Remove the cinnamon stick before serving with the curry. Serves 2.

Tuesday 4 September 2007

Mint Chocolate Mousse

Here is another mousse from Nigella Lawson’s Forever Summer, it’s not full of mousses, I just seem to be in mousse mode at the moment! Nigella says the mint makes it a Summery dessert and you know she is right.

I spent ages looking for mint chocolate when Nigella Lawson’s Forever Summer came out, but to now avail, although I would add that I was not au fait with the internet then. I know some criticize Nigella for including ingredients that are hard to find, but I know I’m not alone in enjoying the challenge of foodie hunting - finding different ingredients. Last week I spotted it though, and had to buy it of course.

Fortunately because I’ve been re-reading the book again recently I actually managed to remember what I wanted it for! For this is the downside of hunting for ingredients, by the time you find them you can’t remember what it was you wanted them for in the first place. I used to be able to remember, but once you get beyond a certain number of cookbooks it becomes harder, well that and life’s general requirements.

I bought Lindt mint chocolate, and it was smooth and minty without being too dark. I’m not advertising here, just saying what I bought!

I got 12 small cups of mousse, and they were rich, so this was fine by me. There were a couple leftover, and they came to no harm in the fridge overnight. They set to a good texture as well, not to as far gone as to be cakey , but firm enough to hold, and no cream so the chocolate taste was undiluted minty and pure. Mint leaf decoration optional!

Saturday 1 September 2007

Strawberries and Cream with A Difference

This is the pink piggy! (I've not lost the plot, honest)

This one comes from Jo Pratt’s In The Mood For Food, which I had a phase of cooking from earlier in the year. I haven’t forgotten about it and will be returning to it again! Anyhow when I saw Meeta’s Monthly Mingle this time I knew what I’d make. The theme is for drinks of all kinds, and this is a sort of smoothie, made in the blender. It’s a very simple blend and I would like to think it healthy even though there is a little bit of single cream in it.

It’s called pink piggy smoothie in our house, because it’s the same colour as my little one’s cute cuddly toy who she aptly named ‘Pink Piggy’! Missy seemed to think her piggy should be in the picture too, and who am I to argue =) It’s an excellent way to get fruit into little tummies, and even better I’ve been asked to make a purple smoothie to match another toy, so I guess it’ll be blueberry smoothie next time!

I used activia yoghurt, as it’s what I keep in the fridge, I needed just short of 2 small pots. I’ve made this a few times and the easiest way, and the way of least washing up is to put the blender goblet on your scales and weigh everything in before blending.

What I must say though is it’s a gorgeous smoothie, and it’s good as is or even as a liquid pudding.
My little one thought the red ribbon would be perfect for the picture, I think my blogging is having its effect on her!
Strawberries and Cream with A Difference
From In The Mood For Food by Jo Pratt. I’ve fiddled a little and added in some fructose to sweeten it up a little without losing it’s healthy feel, also I omitted the splash of strawberry liqueur in Jo’s original.

200g ripe strawberries, hulled
150ml strawberry yoghurt
100ml single cream
1 heaped tablespoon fructose

Blend everything together!