Tuesday 1 December 2009

Snow Flecked Brownies Sweet & Simple Bakes December 2009

A very short post from me this month, have had a flu-y thing for a few weeks now.
This month saw a chocolate brownie with chopped white chocolate chips. They were dark and gooey, and pretty with the icing sugar dusting.

I’d not tried this particular variation on a brownie before and would have to say it wasn’t one of my favourites. That didn’t stop them being eaten but others fast enough though!

Thank you to Maria and Rosie for hosting and do click on here tomorrow for the snow flecked brownies round up form all the other Sweet & Simple bakers =)

Snow Flecked Brownies
375g best quality dark chocolate
375g unsalted butter at room temperature
1 tablespoon real vanilla extract
6 eggs (large)
350g caster sugar (superfine)
1 teaspoon salt
225g plain flour
250g white chocolate, chopped into chunks
2 tsp icing sugar, for dusting
Tin measuring approx 33cm x 23cm x 5.5cm
(1)Preheat the oven to 180C/Gas 4/350F.Line the sides and base of a 33 x 23 x 5.5com baking tin with foil or baking parchment.
(2)Melt the butter and dark chocolate together in a large heavy based pan.In a bowl or wide mouthed large measuring jug, beat the eggs together with the caster sugar and vanilla extract.Allow the chocolate mixture to cool a little, then add the egg and sugar mixture and beat well. Fold in the flour and salt. Then stir in the chopped white chocolate. Beat to combine then scrape and pour the brownie mixture into the prepared tin.Bake for 25 minutes.
(3)You can see when the brownies are ready because the top dries to a slightly paler brown speckle, while the middle remains dark, dense and gooey. Even with such a big batch you do need to keep checking on it: the difference between gooey brownies and dry ones is only a few minutes. Remember, too, that they will continue to cook as they cool. Cut into squares and dust with icing sugar.

Friday 27 November 2009

Cannoli – November 2009 Daring Bakers

It’s with much pleasure that I can tell you I’ve re-joined the Daring Bakers group! I have missed taking part in their monthly baking events, and am happy that my timetable hopefully now means that I can take part once again.

This months event was chosen by by Lisa Michele of Parsley, Sage, Desserts and Line Drives. She chose the Italian Pastry Cannolo (or cannoli if there is more than one). I have heard of them before in some of my Italian and American cookbooks. They are a deep fried dough shell filled with something creamy. I couldn’t help thinking of brandy snaps when I saw the pictures, or even my own when they were made. They are nothing like brandy snaps though, the dough being flavoured with cinnamon and Marsala wine.

The dough is pretty hard to work with, horrible to knead and getting it through the pasta machine the first few times was not east at all! If you persevere though it does become something more pliant and manageable, that can indeed be formed into cannoli. There was several stages to the making of this months challenge, the dough, rolling and shaping the dough, deep frying the shells, chocolate and nut dipping the ends, then the filling of the otherwise ready shells before being ready to eat them.

Lisa Michelle gave up the options of forming them into the traditional cylinder shells by using forms or just cutting out shapes from the dough. Not one to pass up the opportunity to buy a little bit of kitchen kit I purchased a couple of forms online =) So here you have then Cannoli. I filled mine with whipped cream flavoured with Amaretto liqueur and a little icing (confectioners) sugar, which reflected the chopped almonds in the chocolate shells. I did like them, they were very pretty, I’m not sure I’d make them again though, as I hardly ever deep fry anything, last time I used my machine would be about 10 years ago! I’m glad I did give them a go though, once the naughty dough was behaving it was a fun challenge. Thanks to Lisa Michelle for choosing. Please click here for the recipe if you fancy giving them a go.

Wednesday 25 November 2009

And The Winner Is

The winner of the double cookbook giveaway from Hachette for How To Roast a Lamb: New Greek Classic Cooking by Michael Psilakis and Chocolate: A Love Story: 65 Chocolate Dessert Recipes from Max Brenner's Private Collection by Max Brenner is Joyful of New Horizon Reviews.

Well done to you Joyful, I’ll email you for your details. Thank you to everyone who entered.
Many thanks to the lovely people at Hachette for donating the books for the giveaway.

Wednesday 18 November 2009

Cookbook Giveaway!!!

The kind people at Hachette publishers contacted me about doing a competition to win one set of two of their newly released cookbooks. They are How To Roast a Lamb: New Greek Classic Cooking by Michael Psilakis and Chocolate: A Love Story: 65 Chocolate Dessert Recipes from Max Brenner's Private Collection by Max Brenner. They both look like great books. Click on the titles to read more.

If you would like to enter into the draw to win the set of two books please just leave a comment to this post saying why you’d like to win them. This giveaway is open to readers in the US and Canada only as per the publishers request, apologies to my other readers. Entries to be in by midday on 24th November 2009. The draw will take place out of a hat on 25th November, and I will post to say who the lucky winner is. Good Luck!!

Tuesday 3 November 2009

Home Cooking!

Red Wine and Chorizo Risotto with Peas
Home Cooking by Rachel Allen was published this Autumn. It won’t be any surprise to regular readers that I’m a Rachel Allen fan. Have all her books, and have cooked from them all extensively. As much as a fan as I am I did wonder if she could come up with another good cookbook so soon after the magnificent Bake of last year. However, she has done it again, another lovely book jam packed with the kind of recipes you can easily slot into your weekly cooking. It’s her sixth and biggest book to date, nicely presented in a feminine fashion, with good pictures. It has a TV series on Good Food channel to go with it, but there is a lot more in the book than the recipes that appeared on TV.
It covers: Breakfast, Lunch, Sunday Lunch, Supper and Desserts plus some savoury and sweet treats . There is even a chapter on Baby Purees.

I don’t know about you but I sometimes draw a blank for inspiration midweek, when I’m tired but still want something good to eat for my family. I’ve been inspired though with Home Cooking, and the recipes I’ve made have produced comforting, homely, good home cooked food. Here is a taster of some of the things I’ve made. Have an amazing sounding orange and date syrup pudding on the cards next.

Roast Chicken
Easy and delicious roasted chicken.

Buttered Cabbage
Something I used to do a lot and then it fell by the wayside in favour of newer things. It’s back on the menu again now though.

Tarragon Cream Gravy
Creamy and just a little different from the norm. There are several variations for gravies and sauces to go with your chicken in the books.

Smoked Bacon Stuffing
Delicious! The stock I made with the leftover bits and pieces was all the better for a little of this stuffing. There are also several stuffings to choose from in the book.

Macaroni Cheese with Ham
I have a couple of macaroni cheese recipes that I make, but this was the one that got the little people cleaning their plates and asking for more!

Alphabet Soup
A lovely tomato soup to warm the soul. Could be veggie without the bacon. I found the pasta alphabet shapes in the baby aisle at the supermarket.

Chicken Curry
This is a cream and coconut milk free curry. It must be ages wince I’ve made a plain curry like this! It actually reminded me of a packaged curry that came in black boxes, when homemade curry was not the in thing yet. I added a few sultanas to make it more so. A gripe with this recipe, it only served two of us, and it would not have stretched any further!

A must in your repertoire.

Tartare Sauce
This version of this fish accompaniment has chopped hard boiled egg in it, which is a new one on me. It was a lovely tartare sauce though, given a little more body with the egg.

Red Wine and Chorizo Risotto with Peas (Picture at top of post)
I adore risotto and chorizo, if this hadn’t been good I’ve have been extremely surprised! It was a very pretty colour when cooked too, the purple rice and vibrant green peas with the drizzle of orange chorizo oil.

Mild Lamb Curry
I saw Rachel make this one on Market Kitchen. I did the very mild version with no chilli, and my non spicy little people ate it up. The novelty of poppadums and nan probably helped. We liked it too, you could always serve a spicy chitnry or pickle with it if you like it hot. I liked the aromatic gentleness of it.

Aromatic Crispy Duck
A really moist take on the Chinese recipe. You poach duck breasts and oven bake the skin = moist meat and crispy skin!

Strawberry and White Chocolate Tiramisu
This was soooooo good! Scarily addictive!!

Pork Meatballs with Tomato Sauce
A filling nice supper. I usually make meatballs with beef, so this was a little change.

Stir Fried Rice
Lovely! Sometimes I used leftover rice and sometimes cook and cool rice and keep it in the fridge till evening. A good stir fried rice like this is worth cooking extra for.

Cauliflower Cheese
A family home cooked classic, or it should be anyhow!

Here a link to Rachel Allen’s website for the White Chocolate and Strawberry Tiramisu recipe – scroll down and it’s there.

Sunday 1 November 2009

White Chocolate and Orange Cookies - Sweet & Simple Bakes November 2009

This one really lives up to the baking group name as they were indeed very sweet and simple little cookies, but with lovely taste and aroma. A cookie dough laced with vanilla extract, orange zest and chunks of white chocolate. Yum! I brought these to a meeting I went to last week, and they disappeared so quickly.
I used bars of good quality white chocolate and chopped them myself, as I’m not too keen on the white choc chips that I can get readily here.Thanks as always to Maria and Rosie for hosting. Hope you get better soon Rosie. Do check here for other cookies after the 2nd of November.

White Chocolate and Orange Cookies
Makes 2 dozen
115g unsalted butter, softened
200g caster sugar (superfine)
1 egg
Grated zest of 1 orange (2 to 3 tsp)
1 tsp vanilla extract
200g plain flour
½ tsp bicarbonate of soda
¼ baking powder
¼ tsp salt
225g white chocolate chips
(1)Preheat the oven to 190oC/170oC fan oven/375oF/Gas mark 5.
(2)Beat the butter and sugar. Add the egg, orange zest and vanilla extract.
(3)Sift together the dry ingredients. Stir the dry ingredients and chocolate chips into the butter mixture and combine. Roll into balls. Use your fingers to flatten onto a non-stick baking sheet 5cm/2in apart. Bake for 8-10 minutes.
(4)Cool for five minutes and transfer to a cooling rack. When cool, store in an airtight container for up to four to five days.

Wednesday 14 October 2009


When Feast by Nigella Lawson was published a few years ago, I was absolutely besotted by it, absolutely loved it, obsessed was probably nearer the mark. Yet when you find a new cookbook that delivers in such a fabulous way – can you blame me? I know from some of the foodie forums I belong to that I’m in no way alone here, and that is a bit of a relief I can tell you!

Joking aside Feast is my very favourite Nigella book to date. Don’t get me wrong I love all the others too, but Feast is my sort of comfort book, a go to book, and the Christmas chapter makes up a good bit of my Christmas repertoire (although many are now in Nigella Christmas, as they should be, too). I’ve cooked more recipes from Feast than any of the others I own, a good 130+ .

Maybe you are thinking why is there not more on my blog about it? Well, my obsession came to an end just before I began blogging, and I sort of cooked myself out of it. However, I’m very happy to report that it’s back in my reading and cooking pile and, because I’ve cooked many of the recipes I’m making before, it’s like greeting old friends, maybe not seen for some time, but so good to say hello to and meet again.

I bought Feast the DVD from Ebay a while ago. It’s from the TV series done for the US, and our all region DVD player happily plays it. I was watching the curry episode, and was inspired to cook the savoury dishes that I’ve cooked before, but not recently or together for that matter, as Nigella did them. Lovely spread of Indian food. A real treat, and the work load was spread out a bit, so it wasn’t to manic in the kitchen at the last minute either.

Here is a selection of the most recent of my cooking from Feast, with a new start to add to my recipe collection – Chocohotopots, I think of them of pot bound hot brownies, if ever you are in need of a quick chocolate fix, this is it! I am a chocoholic (and I don’t use that term lightly, it’s an extremely double edged sword), so it’s no surprise I like them, little one likes them, and even my Hubby, who doesn’t have a big thing for chocolate, thought they were the business. They only take 5 to 10 minutes to go in the oven too, such sweet chocolate-y reward for so little time and energy.

St Tropez Chicken
Wine-y, fragrant, a little sweet, and really delicious. Excellent with the smashed potato gratin and peas from the book. The first savoury dish I made from Feast, and still on I make for my family.

Petit Pois a La Francaise
This is a beautiful recipe, it tastes wonderful – the pea taken to a new gastronomic height! Again, something I’ve cooked often.

Nursery Fish Pie
Just what it says it is, a no frills comforting fish pie. My little one liked it too.

Chocolate Rice Pudding
Now, it’s not often I have a Nigella bomb recipe, but this was one for us, it wasn’t creamy enough or sweet enough for us. It could be tweaked a bit, but Hubby declared chocolate rice pudding as just wrong, so I’ll not play about with this one for them. I’ve eaten chocolate rice pudding in a restaurant on cold December lunch time after a morning Christmas shopping, and I did like it. If you do too I’d add more sugar and substitute some for the milk for double / heavy cream. Will stick with the devine chocohotopots for my lot though.

Mugali Chicken, Rice Pilaff and Muttar Paneer
I’ve made this a few times, I did it initially with chicken breasts, and they didn’t play anything like as well as the skinless, boneless thighs that Nigella suggests. It’s a really gorgeous curry, a teeny bit of fire from some chilli flakes, but other than that just glorious aromatic spices, and creamy / yoghurt sauce. Good as is, or if you like loads of sauce cut the chicken down to 1kg, both are good. You make it the day before too, so perfect for giving to friends too.
Rice pilaff is aromatic and softly satisfying rice, just what a curry feast needs.
Muttar paneer
I like this one, with or without the paneer. I’ve only made this one a couple of times, but frying the paneer is a dangerous activity. Both times I’ve had hot fat sparked onto my hands, I’m not willing to suffer that kind of pain for some fried cheese, so next time I’ll just to the peas on their own, Hubby thinks the paneer is a bit too like tofu for his liking =)

White chocolate, cranberry and pecan cookies
Oooh the beloved cookies, a lovely recipe, to cheer up, sweeten up and comfort, yum.

Raspberry Oatmeal Swirls
I make these for breakfast for us a few times each year. They are really lovely. Little one likes to mix all the layers together to make a pale pink glassful. They are almost like eating a pudding for breakfast, but my sweet tooth and I are very happy with this!

Thursday 1 October 2009

Sweet & Simple Bakes October 2009 St Clement’s Drizzle Cake

When I checked to see this months bake I was pleased to see the St Clement’s Drizzle cake – one I have made so many times since I found the recipe earlier in the year. It is just so good. Buttery, fruity with the lemon and orange, and so moist and delicious.
It’s (food writer Jo Pratt’s) a spin on the more usual lemon drizzle cake, made with just lemon juice and zest. St Clement’s is a mixture of orange and lemon, there is a drink of the same name here in the UK.
It’s an easy cake, just creaming , zesting and mixing. I use my stand mixer as it takes about a tenth of the time it would take me to cream butter really well; but if I didn’t have the machinery I’d do it by hand held mixer or by hand. It’d be such a shame to miss out on this great cake. Then for the sweet and crunchy topping a little reduction of orange and lemon juice mixed with sugar to drizzle over the top. The hardenst bit about this cake is waiting for it to cool!
It’s my turn to be a hostess for a group I’m a member of later this year – and this is one of the sweet things I’m making. Do give it a go, you’ll find the recipe here.

Many thanks as usual to Maria and Rosie for hosting and choosing this lovely cake. Visit the Sweet & Simple site to see more drizzle cakes from the 2nd of October.

Tuesday 1 September 2009

Sweet & Simple Bakes September 2009 – Jammy Doughnut Muffins

August has been pretty frantic the whole month, apologies for the lack of posting, there are a few new book posts I’m cooking towards, but have just not had the time to write them up and blog them yet. I did manage the Sweet and Simple Bakes bake for this month though,

My write up is short and sweet this month. Jammy Doughnut Muffins. - jammy, cake-y sweet little muffins with sugared tops. My jam sunk to the bottom third of the cooked cakes, perhaps I was a bit generous with the jam! Many thanks to Rosie and Maria for hosting. If you fancy giving them a go you’ll find the recipe here.

Saturday 1 August 2009

Sweet & Simple Bakes August 2009 - Carrot Cake

I’ve been an exceptionally errant member of Sweet & Simple Bakes, and I do apologise for that. I have managed to do this months bake though – hurray! It’s a sweet carrot loaf cake with a simple but scrumptious cream cheese icing.
Big cake, little cake

The recipe makes for an incredibly moist carrot cake. The icing is simply gorgeous! A lovely carrot cake to add to your repertoire.

My little helper was very keen to help, so a certain amount of stirring and beating of eggs was allowed. This was followed up by the appearance of one of her own baking tins, a small metal heart tin. I said we’d see how much mixture there was, and there was enough to fill up her little tin too. It baked with the big cake, but came it out of the oven much sooner. She was very pleased with her little heart carrot cake, and decorated it herself with pride. =) I was thrilled for her! Here is the link for the Sweet & Simple Bakes recipe with many thanks to Rosie and Maria for all their hard work =)