Sunday 28 February 2010

Daring Baker February 2010

This months Daring Baker is Tiramisu. It was chosen by Aparna of My Diverse Kitchen and Deeba of Passionate about Baking, thank you both for hosting. Now I love tiramisu and have made probably about 10 versions over the years, but last year I found one of Gino D’Acampo’s that everyone that tried it just swooned for. Now, maybe that put this months challenge at a big disadvantage from the outset, and I wouldn’t have tried another after Gino’s had it not been the chosen challenge.

The challenge was in three parts: mascarpone, saviordi biscuits and the tiramisu, including pastry cream and zabaglione. I started with the mascarpone, which came out like a brick, I’m sure I could have broken something with it had I dropped it, ice puck anyone?! The taste, well it was vile sour cream and lemon. Here is the picture of it out of the fridge, but it was too awful to put in a dessert even if I’d managed to get it to soften a bit, so in the end although I tried it I bought the mascarpone that went into the tiramisu.

The sponges were lovely, would make them again, as was the zabaglione and lemony pastry cream. I duly assembled the tiramisu and set it in the fridge overnight. It tasted good, not light as I was expecting, but still respectable. Gino has not lost his Tiramisu crown though!

More Daring Baker posts through the blogroll. Recipe here.

Wednesday 17 February 2010

In the Mood for Entertaining, still cooking

Maple, pecan and sultana swirls, ready for the oven
I’ve continued cooking from Jo Pratt’s In the Mood for Entertaining, and still loving this book. Doing more of the cold weather food now. I think mostly everything I’ve made from this book has been good, and lots more planned. If you are new to my blog do go to the books title in the ‘Books Cooked from so Far’ column on the right hand side and see other things I’ve cooked from this book.

Chocolate and Hazelnut Macaroons
I’ve developed a real passion for macaroons, they are just so delicious. These were hazelnut ones sandwished together with a little Nutella. Lovely.

Sweet Potato Hash Browns with Sausage and Tomatoes
This is more cooking than I can cope with of a morning, so we had this for supper one night instead.
Harissa Salmon with Minted Bulgar Wheat Salad
This was really good, not sure which bit was best, the salmon or the bulgar wheat. Either way they were fabulous together.

Chocolate Cookies
If you are anything like me you’ve probably tried a lot of chocolate cookies (and cakes too, but that’s another story) looking for the ‘perfect’ one. These cooled a bit but still warm and gooey from the oven are really perfect. Easy too!

Pork, Stilton and Port Pie with Root Vegetable and Mustard Mash
I made this for the gorgeous Hubby, because as Jo says boys do love their pies. It was a glorious pie, I liked it just as much as Hubby, the root mash complemented it very well, leaving only a little green vegetable to think about for a great meal.

Pimm’s and Strawberry Ripple Creams
I made these loads of times last Summer, we loved them. Very easy to leave the alcohol out of if you like, and for a portion of it I did so, so Missy wouldn’t get any booze! I topped hers with a little grated chocolate so I could tell the difference.

Lazy Tray Baked Chicken
Good Mediterranean inspired chicken bake, peppers, rosemary, garlic. Also has potatoes and carrots in it with a little honey to sweeten it up at the end. Yum.

Plum, Apple and Almond Crumble with Amaretto Cream
This one was lovely too. More complex flavour wise than you might expect, orange zest with the fruit, cinnamon in the topping and then the Amaretto cream. I added a bit of sugar to the cream to soften the alcohol, as is my wont.

Creamy Sausage and Mustard Casserole
I really wanted to make this when this book came out last Summer, but this was just to hot for the warm days of that time of year. Just perfect though for when there is snow on the ground and a nip in the air. Very good, so well complemented buy the salad.

Winter Salad Bowl
One of the things I really like about Jo’s food is she gives you treat food, but she usually also incorparates lots of vegetables as well, and this salad is a case in point. Five a day is easy with this sort of salad. It has a little chilli in it, but it’s easy to take out the little peoples portions before adding it.

Maple, pecan and Sultana Swirls
These are very easy indeed, primarily because they use bought puff pastry. You cut the puff pastry sheet into strips, then top with the filling mixture, roll up and bake. Easy as that. They were good hot but I actually liked them best cold, had a real Danish pastry feel to them like that.

Feta, Pea and Mint Tortilla
I didn’t plan to make this one, but happened to have the bits needed so went with it, really yummy, more so that the list of ingredients would suggest.

We are especially enjoying my take on Jo’s granola just now (recipe below). It’s so fruity, nutty and oaty with a lovely honey taste. This is the first granola I’ve tried without extra added sugar in it – just the honey here, and although I sort of missed it on first tasting, I’ve come to love it for what it is, a gorgeous breakfast, that is actually sweet enough. Our favourite way with it is atop Greek yoghurt, but I tell you it is good even just by the spoonful, both hubby and I might just be addicted to it!

Cranberry, Pistachio and Honey Granola
My spin of Jo Pratt’s recipe from In The Mood For Entertaining

175g runny honey
100g unsalted butter
325g rolled oats
100g flaked almonds
50g pumpkin seeds
50g sunflower seeds
25g desiccated coconut, unsweetened
200g dried cranberries
125g pistachio nuts
(1) Put the oven on and preheat it to 160oC /140oC fan / gas 2-3.
(2) In a big pan melt the honey and butter together, take off the heat.
(3) Add the oats, almonds, pumpkin seeds, sunflower seeds and coconut. Mix well and spread out on a big (non stick is easiest) baking tray. Cook in the oven for 30 to 40 minutes, stirring up every 10 minutes ( I use a non stick fish slice here) for even browning.
(4) Once cold place in a bowl and add the cranberries and pistachios. Will keep for up to a month in an airtight container.

Monday 1 February 2010

Hairy Bikers’ Family Cookbook – Mums Know Best

Well, Si King and Dave Myers aka the Hairy Bikers have a new book and TV series of the same name: Hairy Bikers’ Family Cookbook – Mums Know Best! The TV series started before the book was out, and it's a good one, Mums, families and their recipes, plus recipe fairs, it’s great to watch.

I’ve always been interested in other peoples’ food, and their family recipes, you know the ones that will pass from generation to generation. Si and Dave are the perfect pair to go on this journey of discovery, they have stuck to their guns and been true to the family recipes, instead of trying to jazz them up. I like that, something that was good fifty years ago should still be good now. Some are Dave and Si’s family recipes and some are from families that they have visited on the show. It’s not all British either, of course there are British recipes, but also from further afield, families from other countries, with different foods that are now cooked as family food here. I can’t wait to try Yasmeen’s Spinach, Carrot and Potato Pakoras, they look like the real deal, and so good.

The book is divided up into six chapters: Family Favourites, Show-off Food, Good Simple suppers, Birthday Treats, Sunday Dinner and Picnics. I’ve always liked the hairy bikers, and have enjoyed all their books, but this is the one I’ve cooked from. I’m enjoying the book a lot, and I was given it as a belated Christmas present from my own little one, she has been watching the programmes with me, and has been very interested herself!

Anyhow down to business, here’s the first batch of what I’ve been cooking from this book. I’m sure there will be a second post from this book in the future!

Cheese Pie
I couldn’t believe how much cheese was in this! It was soooo rich. It’s a good idea though, and since I made the one in the book I’ve brought life to leftover mash by adding some grated mature white cheddar cheese and baking it in the oven. I used considerably less cheese though!

Traditional Rice Pudding
We as a family love rice pudding, and this one made a huge dish of it. It was good, although I’ll add a bit more sugar next time as I have a big sweet tooth!

Mushroom Risotto
A milder mushroom risotto, where the chicken stock is paramount to the end result. Lovely.

Cottage Pie with Cheesy Mash
This was gorgeous, just the thing for the cold January night I made it on.

Rocky Road
These are not rocky road as I know them, but sort of mars bar crispies with crumbled shortbread and marshmallows added in for the bumpy effect. The shortbread was really good here, unexpected buttery, almost creaminess it added to the bars. Quite compulsive, I could have eaten a lot more than was good for me!
EDIT: I've made this a few times since, and now make it in a 7 inch aquare tin and top with 200g melted milk chocolate.

Sweet and Sour Pork Hong Kong Style
This was good, mine didn’t look like the picture in the book, but the pork was tender and the batter crispy, mmm. I added in some skinned peppers for a veggie element.

Key Lime Pie
We didn’t like this one that much, the filling was way too sour, the sweet base and meringue topping just couldn’t cope with the sour middle for us.

Millionaires Shortbread
A classic. I cooked the shortbread a bit too long, so it is darker than normal, but still very good.

Pork BBQ Ribs
At last a BBQ sauce that doesn’t have chilli in it! These were lovely, I’ll try the sauce with chicken too.

Steak and Ale Pie
This was really delicious. Loved by all.

Empire Biscuits
I so wanted to make these the minute I saw the picture in the book. We used to have these when I was little, I know them as Sailors’ Hats. I’m not sure why they were called sailors hats though! Anyway they were beautiful little biscuits, both to look at and to eat, yum!