Tuesday, 26 April 2011
120g plain flour
140g caster sugar
1 1/2 tsp baking powder
A pinch of salt
45g unsalted butter (at room temperature)
120ml milk (semi-skimmed is fine, but use whole for extra indulgence!)
1/4 tsp vanilla extract
12 medium marshmallows
12 cupcake cases and 12 hole tin
For the frosting:
250g icing sugar
80g unsalted butter
A splash of vanilla extract
Mini (mini!) marshamllows
Preheat the oven to 170C. Beat the flour, sugar, baking powder, salt and butter together with an electric whisk until the mixture reaches a sand consistency. Pour in half the mix and beat until the milk is just incorporated. Combine the rest of the milk, egg and vanilla extract then add into the flour mixture and mix everything together until smooth.
Spoon the mixture evenly into the paper cases and bake in the pre-heated oven for 20-25 minutes, or until golden brown. Leave to cool then scoop out a small section from the middle of the cupcake.
In a bain marie, leave the medium marshmallows to melt over a gentle heat. Once they are smoothly, fill each cupcake-hole with the melted marshmallow.
To make the vanilla frosting, beat the icing sugar and butter together until combined. Add in the milk and vanilla extract and beat for another 5+ minutes (the longer you beat it for, the lighter it will be!).
Ice the cupcakes and then decorate with the mini mini marshamllows and glitter.
Another sterling recipe from The Hummingbird Bakery Cookbook, these have to be some of the best cupcakes i've made. Despite having concerns over the amount of mixture there was (the recipe suggests filling the cases 2/3 full but i could barely reach the half way mark with mine!) they generally rose very well and, more importantly for me, stayed lovely and flat on top. The actual sponge was light and moist too, which can sometimes be difficult to maintain with individual buns. For 'fuller' cupcakes it might be worth making enough mixture for 24 and then just using 18 cases.
Melting the marshmallow was an absolute pain though! Tip 1: don't let the water underneath the bowl get too hot...the marshmallow around the sides will begin to crisp up á la toasted marshmallows! Although it tastes fine, it is quite chewy which in a delicate little cupcake isn't ideal! If it does happen, you can avoid it by not scraping the side of the bowl to get marshmallow goo. Tip 2: whether you are using your fingers or two spoons to coax the melted marshmallow into the cupcakes, have a cup of water on hand to moisten your chosen implement before each one. The mixture is ridiculously sticky and very unforgiving! It is definitely worth it though, as it sets beautifully in the cupcake and is a lovely little surprise to find.
As per Hummingbird cupcakes, they are quite heavy on the icing so the amount of mixture might need to be decreased if you wanted a slightly healthier finished product. I just left it the same though!
I think the fact that i made them two nights ago and they're already all gone vouches for how delicious they are!
Thursday, 21 April 2011
When some quails eggs were up for grabs, the first thing that sprung to mind was scotch eggs! I've often mused at the idea of making them, but this time i just went for it and used Heston's Recipe from the Times website.
Overall, it's quite a simple recipe with just a few fiddly bits (see below!). Aside from adding the seasoning into the sausage meat, all of the flavour comes from the ingredients rather than needing a professional palate (good for me!) so just make sure you use good quality stuff. My sausage meat was straight from the Food Hall...Broxtead Breakfast Sausage!
The fiddliest bit has to be peeling the boiled quails eggs- Heston's recipe leads to a soft-yolked finish, so at the peeling stage the eggs are quite soft and delicate. We had a few split whites which were salvagable with careful handling but unfortunately lost one egg completely! Following this, wrapping the eggs in the sausage meat (especially any that are slightly damagaed) is quite tricky. I found it a bit easier to flatten the meat into a rectangle then take a strip off the bottom (leaving a square) and lay the strip across the egg. Then, you're bringing the sides up to meat the top strip, rather than trying to squeeze the edges together around it. Plus i found it much faster to churn oil-ready eggs out!
The cooking was fairly undaunting, despite being nervous about dealing with the hot oil, and then it's just a case of holding back long enough to allow them to cool before cracking into one!
I was fairly chuffed with how they turned out for a first attempt; quite uniform looking, well cooked and generally pretty damn tasty!
Wednesday, 20 April 2011
All tea ideas for tonight were ditched in favour of a mini cheese plate! Bath Soft Cheese (which i bought today), Shropshire Blue, Cooleeney and Aleppo Chilli Cheddar served with some homemade pickles (red cabbage, cucumber slices and picalilli)...quite a treat! Of particular note was the Shropshire Blue and pickled red cabbage combo.
I was given this by a friend at work today; very exciting, especially considering how many chilli seeds you can see in it! Recommended uses are in stir-frys, pasta and cheese sandwiches! Perhaps a bit of this with the Aleppo Chilli Cheddar in a sandwich?!
Got a few more bits for the kitchen today...very excited to try the popcorns! Caramel with either salt, chili or chocolate? Cor! Unforunately, i found the Wheaten Mill chocolate crunch very disappointing- heading towards 'soggy' and a bit too greasy without packing much punch in terms of flavour...not what i've come to expect from The Wheaten Mill. However, the Peri-Peri sauce from The Chilli Company was everything that i was hoping and wanting! I've had their Smoky Chipotle Sauce before which is delicious and carries quite a bit of heat; the Peri-Peri sauce was not disimilar! Will definitely have to get their chilli mayo in the near future.
Tuesday, 19 April 2011
You always know it's going to be a good day when you get to work and there's a little present waiting for you! I got the sweetest selection of easter presents from a friend at work including a homemade card (finished with my lovely nickname 'lardy bum') and knitted creme-egg-hiding chicken! Alongside that, Thursday Cottage and Adnams were doing tasters and the 'Mad Hatter' was was wandering around for half of the afternoon. All in all a very fun day!
Monday, 18 April 2011
For easter present i thought i'd try my hand at a bit of chocolate 'making'. I was quite pleased with the end result of my eggs, although not perfect given the rush i had to finish them in! They generally look quite good and fit together well, although their finish has been blemished with the odd finger print due to not having enough time to fully set in the fridge. But i am pleased, particularly with the dark chocolate striped egg and least so with the dotty dark chocolate egg!
Aside from just having to take the time to keep an eye on temperatures, it was quite a simple process which didn't require much specialist equipment; i made use of the jam thermometer we had anyway, bought a mould cheaply off Ebay and got the belgian couverture chocolate reasonably priced off the internet (although this could be substituted with a cheaper chocolate. The quality affects the visual and audio finish so if making chocolates with children, for example, then a bog-standard chocolate would be fine and slightly less work as it wouldn't require tempering).
Couverture chocolate has a higher cocoa butter content which, when tempered, gives the chocolate more shine, a better snap and a creamier flavour all of which i can vouch for! I bought mine from Cakes, Cookies and Crafts and it arrived promptly a few days later...i can see myself using the website quite a bit! The instructions for tempering on the packet were for using the microwave method, which i didn't feel really comfortable with, so decided to use the traditional hob-method for which instructions arrived with the egg mould. Will get round to typing it up when i've got the booklet with me.
I made hollow shells and filled each one with something praline-based...it's always nice to find a little treat inside an easter egg! With the left over melted chocolate i made a few simple chocolates in some rubber shell moulds we have. I filled each hole about 2/3 with chocolate then put a small dollop of salted caramel in the middle before flattening the top off with a bit more chocolate. Nothing special looking, but they are rather tasty and a good little way to use up left overs!
I put the eggs in a little 4-hole egg box which was saved from an easter present a few years ago- simple and quaint, i rather like it with the nice ribbon tied around it. I'd definitely make my own chocolate things again as it's not an expensive undertaking and, although slighty time consuming, is fun and carries the satisfaction of being homemade. However, i will definintely make sure that any chocolate has the full time in the fridge to make sure it's fully set before handling...i don't want anymore fingerprints!
Hot cross buns have been flowing out of the bread ovens at work of late and it's just making me want to make mine all the sooner, although that may now have to be post-dissertation. One of the most exciting things i brought home was a chocolate panettone due to it's great taste and texture but also the prospect of making a rather fancy bread and butter pudding out of it! I know it could be considered a shame to use panettone for such thing, but i can't resist...i think it's going to be delicious.
Friday, 15 April 2011
I made some sticky, chewy, yummy chocolate brownies the other day...i've had a few types of really soft, fudgie brownies recently (which i do love!) so just wanted to choose something out of my brownie-arsenal that was a bit different.
They were, unfortunately, over-baked by about two minutes but still stayed nice and soft in the middle with chewier edges and a lovely 'crisp' top that cracked as it was sliced. Oo, i can't wait for the next couple of weeks to be over so i can get stuck into the kitchen!
In a stark contrast to the opening of this post, i am trying to have a bit of a detox and health push, mainly consisting of large amounts of soups and smoothies! Loads of New Covent Garden was on offer, so i stocked up on some old faithfuls and new ones to try.
But, when you do some baking to take into work, you have to try a brownie or two, just to make sure they're good enough for other people to consume! And when there's spelt bread and hot cross buns going at work, you have to have indulge a little, while it's fresh...!
Friday, 8 April 2011
I made some lovely gooey flapjacks this evening to; 1) use up some stuff in the cupboards and 2) give myself a bit of entertainment! I used the basic flapjack recipe from The Great British Book of Baking although any other would suffice (but this is particularly yummy for what i look for in a flapjack!). Then, if i can remember correctly, i added in...some dessicated coconut, cherry infused raisins, almonds, dates, figs and a simple seed mix. Almost inappropriately sticky and entirely bad-for-you feeling, i was very pleased with how my mish-mash of ingredients worked together!
I brought home a rhubarb pie from work today, although it was slightly odd and i can't quite put my finger on why or what it was. The pastry was possibly at fault...a bit too savoury and greasy for what should have been such a fresh, light tart. Otherwise, a nice idea...frangipan-ish base with the finely sliced rhubarb on top. I'm imagining it served with a dollop of cold cream!
It is nice to be getting round to that time of year where things like rhubarb are being used in cooking again. I'm soon going to harvest the rhubarb from the garden and think of something delicious to put it in...maybe my own little tart creation.
I've got a new little batch of homemade vanilla essence/extract on the mash- quite simply vodka and some chopped up vanilla pods left to infuse for...as long as you want! Once sufficient infusing has happened, it's practically identical to the shop bought versions but is cheaper and carries the satisfaction of knowing it's homemade!
Tuesday, 5 April 2011
1 tbsp veg oil
130g streaky bacon
2 onions, roughly chopped
1 large carrot, chopped small
4 cloves garlic, roughly chopped
3 sprigs rosemary
300g puy lentils (merchant gourmet always taste the nicest)
850ml chicken stock
1 tbsp white wine vinegar
1 can chopped toms
2 tbsp chopped parsley (if not more)
Fry sausages and bacon, taking out the sausages when brown and sticky. Add onions, carrot and garlic to the bacon. Soften onion then return the sausages and add lentils, rosemary, stock, vinegar and tomatoes. Season. Bring to the boil and simmer for 5 mins. Reduce heat, cover and simmer for 45 mins - stirring occasionally.
This recipe was passed on to me by a friend at hockey when she heard i was doing the 52 recipe challenge, and i'm glad i found out about it! It's a very raw and natural dish with the lovely earthy flavours being promient- especially as i used venison sausages! As far as changes go, the rosemary and water were lessened, the vinegar omitted and i left the seasoning down to the sausages, bacon and stock. One to keep in the recipe folder!
Another nice little discovery was my homemade 'ginger crunch creams'. After making some stem gingernuts seriously lacking in that gingernut-related-crunch (with hindsight, the mixture was too moist) i thought to layer some up with left over buttercream icing from my birthday cake. Absolutely delicious! I'm just really gutted that i don't have anymore buttercream left over!
Monday, 4 April 2011
I had a rather delicious and simple/quick tea last night; chilli prawn linguine with some spinach and peas chucked in, for good measure! Plus, i had some garlic and chive bread, that i was given at work following the mother's day menu, which i had with it.
Tea tonight was, again, quick and delicious. A salad with chicken, bacon and croutons made from the garlic and chive bread. I've made excess so they can go in an airtight container for future use while the rest of the bread is going to be breadcrumbed for use on top of macaroni cheeses and the suchlike. I do love being able to make use of something in its entirety.
Sunday, 3 April 2011
6oz butter, softened
3 eggs, beaten
6oz self raising flour
2-4 tbsp elderflower cordial, depending how moist you like the cake!
3 tbsp elderflower and gooseberry jam (or there abouts)
5 tbsp elderflower cordial
5oz icing sugar
Preheat the oven to 180C and grease and line a 20cm loaf tin. Beat the sugar and butter together until light anf fluffy, then beat in the eggs one at a time. With a metal spoon, fold in the flour until fully combined. Pour the mixture into the prepared tin and bake for about 40 minutes or until a skewer inserted in the middle comes out clean. Remove from the tin and prick all over before leaving to cool on a wire rack.
After about 10-15 minutes, pour the 2-4 tbsp of elderflower cordial evenly over the top of the cake, making sure it's soaking in and not just dribbling off the sides!
Place the 3 tbsp of elderflower and gooseberry jam (or similar) in a saucepan and gently heat until runny. At this point, i strained mine to remove any bits but that was just personal choice! Using a pastry brush, paint the jam over all of the sides of the cake and leave for 10 minutes.
In another pan, heat the 5 tbsp of elderflower cordial and 5oz icing sugar together to make a syrup. Again, paint this all over the cake and place in the still warm oven for a few minutes to help 'set' it. This step can be repeated as much or as little as you like to give varying amounts of sugary-drizzley-ness.
This recipe was somewhat experimental with inspiration and ideas coming from Unbought Delicacies and Raymond Blanc. Overall, i'm pretty please with the result and it's quite a nice spring/summer cake with the elderflower flavour. Definitely one to do again!