Friday, 30 September 2011

Random Recipes #8 - Round Up


... well, i obviously struck a chord with a lot of you this month as i've been inundated with entries, for which I humbly thank you... and lots of Random Recipes Virgins too... I think one of the biggest issues this month was how many recipe fails there were!... it seems that bad editing is an international problem... and yes it does make a difference if the recipe call for 400g of sugar but what's been printed is 6 chickens...

anyhoo, first to the post was... me!... with these lovely Orange and Blueberry Muffins my mum had written down from her trip to Yosemite.


next, we've got lovely Lou from Please Don't Feed the Animals with first of a two parter and this great spicy Saffron, Chickpea and Tomato soup she found from an anonymous magazine scrap


and then Steve, bless him, braved the world of meringue baking and made this glorious Turkish Delight and Pistachio Meringue taken from Woman and Home Magazine


up next is the delightful Lucy from The Kitchen Maid who has founded her own support group for people who are compulsive recipe and cookbook collectors... and she selected these lovely Corn and Feta Fritters which she thinks is from NZ House and Garden Magazine


lovely Helen from Fuss Free Flavours has made these Ginger Crunch Slices by Anna Hansen, which was ripped out of the Telegraph Magazine... oh i'm hungry now...


Manu from Cooking Manu made this delicious Pumpkin Soup with Coconut Milk... creamy!


and now onto Karen from Lavender and Lovage, a Random Recipes virgin, who has made this stunning Fig Bread and Butter Pudding taken from a Waitrose recipe card.


Victoria from 21st Century Urban Housewife has made this very naughty Sausage Penne Gratin she randomly selected from her huge pile of clippings.  This one came from Gourmet Magazine that her mum cut-out for her... god bless our mum's!


next we have Jean from Baking in Franglais with these sweet Apricot and Ginger Muffins she made for her dad and his pals who all have a rather 1950's inspired hobby... she randomly selected the recipe from a blog Boris in Ayrshire.


Mel from Sharky Oven Gloves picked this stunning Three Cheese Vegetable Bake taken from this months delicious magazine.


and next we have Sarah from What I Baked This Weekend with an amazing Chocolate and Raspberry Cheesecake Brownie recipe (evil but fabulous eh?) taken from a clipping from Sunday Times Style!


Phil from As Strong as Soup always comes up trumps and plays by the rules, so he felt guilty this month when he had to change the ingredients to make the bloody recipe work when making these Navettes, taken from a 'well known' French magazine...


now... when it comes to filing recipes there is no person in this world more geeky that Chele from Chocolate Teapot who made this yummy Apple and Blackberry Betty care of Nigel Slater... poor love needs to get out more...


Alice from Italian Inspiration is off to University... remember how that felt?... and in celebration decided to take part in Random recipes, gawd bless her, with this lovely Creamy Courgette Lasagne taken from Good Food Magazine.


Michelle from Food, Football and a Baby has made the unusual but rather nice looking Lemon Courgette Cookies from a cut-out that her lovely neighbour gave to her.


and now we have a Random Recipes Virgin... Nicola from 41 Feasts has made these amazing Chicken Kievs she randomly selected and then adapted from Jesse Dunford Wood in The Times magazine.


and the treasure trove of recipe cut-outs continues with dear Susan from The Spice Garden has made this glorious Smokey BBQ Chicken Pizza selected from a Pampered Chef Booklet... 


the devilishly divine Janice from Farmersgirl Kitchen signed her name in blood with these stunning Lamb Wraps... just don't check her forehead for the mark... she may bite!


another RRV, Shu Han from Mummy, I can cook! made this rather tart looking Calamansi Lime Curd Tart taken from a Heston Waitrose recipe she has stored in a fancy folder... maybe Chele isn't quite so odd after all...


apparently chocolate is not only 'good for you' but now it's slimming, according to Kate from What Kate Baked (not an RRV but her blog is!)... well, we have Good Food Magazine to thank and their lovely Low Fat Mint Chocolate Pot.


Lucy from Vanilla Frost came up trumps with these snack-a-liscious Blueberry Almond Bars she plucked from a Dan Lepard recipe in The Guardian... nice work!


apple-mad Choclette from Chocolate Log Blog made this gorgeous looking Apple and Thyme Cake taken from an RHS Grow Your Own card... so interesting where you're all getting your recipes from!


yet another RRV, here's Camilla from Little Macaroon with a wonderful recipe for frozen chocolate mousse she very randomly chose via a random number generator.  It was from a hand-writen recipe found pinned to the inside of her mothers pantry door in the 80's... how excellent is that?


and another RRV from Alex at Dear Love Blog who made these lovely Madeleines from Heston Blumenthal in The Sunday Times


Michael from Me, My Food and I made these glorious Lemony Quail taken from the very butch GQ Magazine... very brave man if you ask me...


and another RRV as Ruth from Makey-Cakey makes these lovely Honey Biscuits and laments the typos...!


Sid from Spontaneous Euphoria came up with these very random but very tasty, i'm sure, Mozzarella, Mushroom, Basil and Tomato Sandwiches she found in a book entitled Soups and Sandwiches... unsurprisingly!


next we have Aveen from Baking Obsessively who made this simple but very hearty Lentil Ragu taken from the March edition of Good Food Magazine



and I guess its only fitting that the last word goes to the man who influenced this months excellent challenge, Gary from Exploits of a Food Nut with this very tempting Chocolate and Orange Tart found randomly in the Easter edition of one of his favourite mags...


al last minute addition (least I get my head bitten off) by C of Cake, Crumbs and Cooking with this FABULOUS Apple Snow with Yoghurt and Oatmeal... now, take a bow... can I go to bed please?


and another late one from the barmy BVG who thought September had 31 days... bless!


don't forget to tune in next month for an unforgettable Random Recipes... (this means I haven't thought of a theme yet and am enticing you in with platitudes...)

Thursday, 29 September 2011

our daily bread


... i'm trying to eat as much home-made bread as possible... maybe I should rephrase that for fear of you thinking that i'm trying to eat as much home-made bread as possible... I want to stop buying store-bought bread and only eat home-made... but this means I need to start getting a bit more adventurous with my loaf.

... I am starting with some basics, I pretty much have my white farmhouse loaf down pat and i've moved on here to this mixed seed wholegrain loaf, which is exactly the same recipe but replacing two thirds of the white flour with this lovely wholegrain flour... it came out perfect and I feel good eating it with my breakfast... i'm adapting recipes that call for sugar with the equivalent in honey and using olive oil instead of butter.. and if recipes call for water, I use half water, half skimmed milk, it seems to make the loaf really soft inside...


... I plan to get each loaf perfect, or my idea of perfect anyway and then, over the next few weeks, move on to more complicated and exotic breads... so if you have any suggestions then please feel free to recommend or link me up to recipes...

... oh and I will, at some point, think about growing a new sourdough... I just hate the thought of replacing poor dear Lucretia...

eat and of course, enjoy!

Tuesday, 27 September 2011

raspberry and cream cake



sometimes, when you're baking a cake, you can tell it's going to be fabulous... well at the very least I can tell if it's going to be a dud... so when I started to make this cake I knew, at every stage, that it was going to be a winner.  The batter mix was outstanding, gently fluffy and light with a hint of vanilla... I could have eaten the whole thing raw... and as it stated to bake in the new oven I could see it rise and turn golden and I just knew...

... if i'm honest, i've been having a spot of bother with the new oven.  It's excellent but very very efficient. I'm used to my old oven, which worked perfectly fine but it was like shouting into the wind... with this new beast however, the right-hand side turbo oven is hot and fast.  The regular oven is also quick but I think i've just about tamed it... well it baked this cake to perfection at any rate...

... the original recipe called for slathering it with a sickly sweet raspberry-ripple frosting, which sounds divine but when I saw the sponge I just wanted to eat it as plain as possible, so I could savour its lightness... and so a simple filling and topping of whipped cream and fresh raspberries was the perfect answer.



Raspberry and Cream Cake


This is the 3rd recipe i've taken from Edd Kimber's new book.  You can tell I've been impressed but I feel if I give you any more he may ask me for a royalty cheque... Check it out for yourself, you wont be disappointed.

Edd suggests you bake this as a triple layer cake.  I did some clever calculations and reduced it by a third, which is the recipe I give you here.

224g butter (works out to be about 12oz)
224g plain flour
2 teaspoons baking powder
266g caster sugar
4 eggs - separated
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
123ml whole milk

half a pint of whipping cream
a heck of a lot of raspberries

- preheat the oven to 180c or 160c fan and lightly grease and line 2 20cm round cake tins.

- sift the flour and baking powder into a bowl

- beat the butter and 2/3rds of the sugar until light and fluffy, about 5 mins, then beat in the egg yolks one at a time, followed by the vanilla.

- turn the mixer to low and add a third of the flour, half the milk then continue like this until all the milk and flour is well incorporated into the batter.

- whisk the egg whites until they form soft peaks, add the remaining sugar and whisk again until stiff, glossy peaks are formed. fold this into the batter

- divide into the two cake tins and bake in the oven for 30-35 mins or until an inserted cocktail stick comes out clean.

- leave to cool in the tin for 10 mins, then take them out of the tins and leave to cool completely.

- whip the cream into a frenzy and slather it thickly onto one of the sponge cakes, sprinkle liberally with raspberries, sandwich the cakes together and repeat with the top of the cake.

eat and clearly enjoy!

Sunday, 25 September 2011

Veggie Birthday Pie


... seeing that The Viking and I have pretty much spent all our money on the new kitchen we both agreed that this years birthday presents would be token gifts... Alys Fowler's - The Thrifty Forager for him... a new pair of Jack Purcell Converse for me.... (clearly I won the birthday stakes this year....)

... I also wanted to treat him to his favourite food so yesterday morning we started with a big breakfast; baked mushrooms, veggie sausage, beans, fried eggs and home-made bread... for lunch we pretty much rubbed our still-full bellies and then for dinner I made pie... The Viking loves his pie.  I've spoken of this before but one of the things that he hates about other peoples attitude to vegetarians is that they seem to over compensate when cooking for him... he simply wants what everyone else is eating, without the meat.  Not some tomato goo with godforsaken goats cheese on it...! So pie it was, with a good old-fashioned vegetarian suet crust.  I made the filling on Friday so not only did I not have to slave over a hot stove on my birthday but it also gave the filling a day to intensify its flavours.... Pie was good!



Veggie Mince Pie
As I was making the filling I realised that it seemed very much like a veggie Cornish Pasty filling... which isn't such a bad thing and is something I will exploit at a later date.


for the filling
1 large onion - finely chopped
1 packet of Quorn mince (you can use any veggie mince but I think Quorn keeps its consistency well)
1 large stick of celery - finely chopped
1 large carrot - finely chopped
half a medium swede - finely diced
1 tin of chopped tomatoes
1 tin of mixed beans
1/2 pint of veggie stock topped up with half a glass of red wine
4 cloves of garlic - un-peeled
3 bay leaves plus some other fresh herbs

for the pastry
12oz self raising flour
6oz vegetarian suet
a pinch of salt and freshly ground pepper
a large pinch of fresh thyme
cold water to mix

- in butter and olive oil, saute the onions in a heavy pan or casserole dish you can transfer to the oven, when translucent add the rest of the vegetables and let them sweat for about 8 minutes.

- season, then add the veg mince and let it soak up all the vegetable juices for another couple of minutes before adding the tomatoes, beans and stock and wine.

- bring it to a gentle bubble, add the whole, un-peeled garlic cloves and bay leaves and then transfer the whole lot to a hot oven for an hour.  Try and make this the day before or at least in the morning.

- when you're ready to cook (this pastry doesn't need to sit in the fridge) make the pastry by combining the flour and suet with the salt and fresh herbs, then with a pallet knife add cold water until it starts to bind together, bring it together with your hands before rolling out.  It should be rolled thicker than normal pastry.

- once rolled out, fill your pie dish with filling, then cut a thin trim of pastry and run this along the edge of your pie dish, then press down to create indents.  Glaze with a beaten egg/milk mix.


- then lay your pastry lid on top and press down the edge with the end of a knife.  Glaze the lid.  You can create fancy stuff with the left-over pastry.


- bake in a hot oven for 35 - 40 mins or until the pastry is golden.

eat and of course, enjoy!

Friday, 23 September 2011

Pineapple, Chocolate and Mixed Spice Blondies



boy, did I have a sweet tooth when I got home last night... it was a long day but I was almost shaking with the need for sugar... I ate a peanut butter and blackcurrant jam sandwich whilst I was waiting for the left-overs of my sausage casserole to heat up...! and then once I had polished that off I still wanted more... maybe i'm sick... maybe i'm just a fat greedy bastard... who will ever know...?

... still on my 'I can't believe i've never made brownies before' trip I decided that blondies were next on my list and the wonderful Edd Kimber and his brilliant book The Boy Who Bakes came to the rescue... I have adapted the recipe slightly by adding some teeny chunks of a left-over bit of pineapple The Viking left in the fridge... don't worry, he'll reap the benefit...

... and after-all I deserve something lovely... it is my birthday tomorrow... and also The Viking's... on the same same day... yes, I know!

Pineapple, Chocolate and Mixed Spice Blondies


225g unsalted butter
1 teaspoon mixed ground spice
1/2 teaspoon ground ginger
400g light brown sugar
2 eggs
250g plain flour
1/4 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon baking powder
80g milk chocolate - roughly chopped into chunks
80g finely diced pineapple

- pre-heat the oven to 180c or 160c fan-assisted

- grease and line a 23cm x 33cm baking tin

- melt the butter in a pan over a medium-high heat, add the spices and cook for a couple of minutes

- add the sugar and cook for a further 5 minutes, stirring constantly.  take the pan of the heat and let it cool for at least 5 mins

- then whisk in the eggs, then fold in the flour, salt and baking powder

- stir in the chocolate and pineapple chunks then pour it all into the prepared tin and bake for 30 mns

- the blondies take a few hours to firm up, so for ease, leave in the tin overnight before cutting into squares

and can I just say, they were bloody amazing... spicy, warm, crisp, fruity, chocolatey... heavenly!

eat and of course, enjoy!

Tuesday, 20 September 2011

Lincolnshire Sausage and Bean Casserole


... other than 'ooh, isn't Lincolnshire really flat?' the most common phrase that people say to me when I tell them where I live is..' ooh, nice sausages!'... and yes, they are nice sausages... well, sometimes.  I guess it depends on who's making them.  There are a lot of herbs in a traditional Lincolnshire sausage. Get this bit wrong and you end up with a dry, fiercely aromatic, unpleasant link... get it right and you end up with a gentle kick that subtly reminds you that you're not just eating any old banger!

So good is the Lincolnshire Sausage it even has its own Festival, now in it's 9th year, taking place this year in the grounds of Lincoln Castle on the 29th October.  It celebrates everything sausage, with cookery demo's, tastings and lots of fun stalls.  People have been known to make cross-continent pilgrimages to visit!

oh and by the way, I live in The Lincolnshire Wolds.  'Wolds' is old English for 'Hills'... they have them in the Cotswold's and no one would accuse them of being flat... honestly, it couldn't be more hilly if it tried...

Simons of Spilsby is a wonderfully modern kind of butcher/deli hybrid.  He has an extensive, high quality meat counter but also makes a lot of his own sauces with which you can marinade, stew or bbq your meats... he makes glorious pies and genius 'TV Dinner' style ready meals... he also makes a mean Lincolnshire Sausage which i've used in this warming, hearty, Autumnal family meal.


Lincolsnhire Sausage and Mixed Bean Casserole 


6 lincolnshire sausages - sliced into chunky pieces.
a medium onion - finely chopped
1 stick of celery - finely chopped
1 medium carrot - finely chopped
2 cloves of garlic - crushed
half a medium sized swede - diced
1 tin of chopped tomatoes
1 tin of mixed beans - drained (or any beans of your choice, borlotti or canelinni would work well)
a mix of fresh herbs and seasoning
half a glass of red wine (optional
half a pint of stock

- in a casserole dish you can transfer to the oven, saute the onions in some olive oil and butter until translucent, add the sausages and brown gently for about 8 minutes. Remove the sausages from the dish and set aside.

- add the rest of the veg and saute until nearly tender, then add the tomatoes, beans and the stock and wine followed by the browned sausages.

- give it a good stir and then transfer it to a gently hot oven, 190, for a good 30-40 minutes.  Let it cool slightly before serving either on it's own or over some creamy mash.

eat and of course, enjoy!

Saturday, 17 September 2011

... chicken thighs of course!


Gary from Exploits of a Food Nut recently asked me, via twitter, what would be the first thing I cook in my new ranger cooker?... and the answer's not as simple as you may think... you see, if i'm perfectly truthful, it would be a cup of tea...! we have a lovely whistling kettle that was designated to the back of the garage shelf for three months whilst we set up the temporary kitchen and it was the first thing to come out and heat up on the new ceramic hob... but I guess that's not really what he meant...

... one of the things that The Viking and I both really missed was breakfast... we're both big egg eaters and there's only so much microwave scrambled egg two men can eat... so the first proper thing to be cooked on the new range was indeed a full english; eggs, bacon, mushrooms, sausages... but perhaps not a full meal eh...? well of course i've been using it for a couple of weeks, a loaf here, a banana bread there but my first proper meal was (drum-roll please)... chicken thighs... of course!

black is the new black

I have been running around like a loon for the past couple of days and one of the things I love about cooking chicken thigh dishes is that you can quite literally throw stuff into a dish and bung it in the oven and an hour or so later you have a delicious hot meal, with no slaving or bother... plus the chicken thigh has the perfect amount of fat and tender flesh to build the foundations of a really tasty dish...and that's why the humble chicken thigh still get's my vote... i've paired it here with a fennel, which is the most glorious of vegetables and sucks up all those lovely chicken juices whilst infusing the whole pot with a subtle aniseed flavour...

Roast Chicken Thighs with Fennel and Peas

6 on the bone, chicken thighs - skin on
1 large fennel
1 medium carrot
1 large stick of celery
a handful of garden peas
half a glass of white wine

- roughly chop all the veg, sprinkle them with the herbs of your choice and throw them into a large oven-proof roasting dish.

- lay the chicken thighs on top, skin up, drizzle with olive oil and salt and pepper and pour in the wine.

- bung it in a hot oven (190 - 200) and leave it for 30 minutes, at which point you turn the thighs over for a further 30 minutes.

- after this time, turn the oven down to 150, throw the peas in, a little water if needed and turn the chicken thighs back over to go golden and crispy.

totally heavenly eaten by itself or with some creamy mash...

...eat and of course, enjoy!

Thursday, 15 September 2011

pancakes and jam - breakfast club #15


there's a glut of Autumnal fruit coming in huge waves direct from the Gunby Hall gardens at the moment... if it's not one of 27 varieties of pear or 48 varieties of apple then it's the Damson's or Greengages... we even have a Mulberry bush in the middle of the formal lawn... it doesn't produce leather handbags though... the wasps are having an absolute field-day... the air is positively slick with sugar and the last few days of warm sunshine have helped push the fruity plumpness to the max... but you can tell it's all coming to an end... as the UK is currently experiencing the tail-end of hurricane Katia it has meant the loss of a lot of leaves... the air is turning crisper and the mornings are definitely cold... in fact we're forecast frost tomorrow... so preserving a little of this fruit before decay... or the wasps get to it... is the obvious answer.

this month's Breakfast Club, hosted by Sonia's Kitchen is all about conserves... perfectly timed.  I'm not a massive jam fan, I really have to be in the mood... but the lovely Sally recently made this stunning jam in the Gunby tea room... Victoria Plums, Vanilla and Star Anise... so how could I resist... and to be honest, all this jam needs is the ultimate carb vehicle... no, not scones... pancakes!

Bruce Paltrow's world-famous pancakes

as the name suggests these are taken from Gwyneth Paltrow's cook book Notes from my Kitchen Table... her recipe yealds 36, so i've reduced it by two thirds... if you want more you can do your own maths

116g plain flour
25g granulated sugar
1 teaspoon baking powder
3/4 teaspoon salt
250ml buttermilk
25g butter, melted and cooled plus more butter for cooking
2 large eggs
milk to loosen batter

- whisk the dry ingredients together in a bowl

- whisk the buttermilk, butter and eggs together in another bowl

- add the wet ingredients to the dry ingredients, whisking just enough to combine, let the batter sit, covered, overnight.

- in the morning, heat up your pan and slick it with butter.

- add enough milk to the batter to thin it to your desired consistency... there is no correct thickness, it all depends on how thick you like your pancakes

- cook the pancakes in the pan, flipping them after bubbles appear on the surface of the uncooked side.  let them cook for 2-3 minutes more then remove from the heat and serve with the gently warmed up jam

... breakfast of champions my friends!

eat and of course, enjoy!

Tuesday, 13 September 2011

The Joy of Baking - we should cocoa


in case you're wandering, I wasn't happy with the original photos so i've re-taken them and have re-posted...


I'm submitting the below post for the October edition of Lincolnshire Life Magazine.  It's also my entry for We Should Cocoa, who are celebrating their first birthday this month... congratulations Chele and Choclette x

The Joy of Baking

October 17th to 23rd is National Baking Week here in the UK.  A host of leading baking brands are encouraging Britain to get baking, which I think is a great thing!  Baking to me means many memories of fun times in the kitchen, clouds of flour, kids helping with icing fairy-cakes, licking out the bowl of batter when my mum made one of her wonderful roulades, the most enticing aromas of chocolate or bread coming from the oven and then of course the end result is such a pleasure, whether it be a cake or a pie, pizza or brownies and lets not forget the social aspect... surely baking is mostly all about sharing?

I plan to spend the week baking all sorts of goodies for sharing with friends and family, a roast vegetable quiche, a Lincolnshire Poacher cheese loaf, a game pie and then to top it all off, this wonderful triple layer chocolate cake using hand-made chocolate by Tracey Cox at The Little Chocolatier in Louth.  It looks rather complicated but actually it's very simple to bake and construct, it's the end result which is such a show stopper!


Triple Layer Triple Chocolate Cake

the idea is to make 3 cakes, one in dark chocolate, one in milk chocolate and one in white chocolate but to make it as simple as possible you only make one big batter mix and then add the melted chocolate once it's been divided into three.  If you're feeling really adventurous you could go further and do other layers... a bright green mint chocolate layer would be wonderful, or how about a chocolate orange layer?

This recipe is inspired by Edd Kimber's wonderful new cookbook The Boy Who Bakes.

Ingredients - for the cakes
110g butter
50g plain dark chocolate
50g milk chocolate
50g white chocolate
280ml boiling water
140ml buttermilk
280g plain four
2 teaspoons bicarb
1/2 teaspoon salt
340g caster sugar
2 teaspoons vanilla extract
3 eggs

for the ganache
225g butter
250g dark chocolate
2 tablespoons of honey or golden syrup (I used Lincolnshire honey from Gunby Hall)
240ml double cream

- grease and line three 20cm cake tins and pre-heat the oven to 180C (or 160C for fan ovens)

- in three bowls gently melt the chocolates in the microwave (so much simpler than a double boiler, but watch like a hawk... you're better off leaving it slightly solid and letting the residual heat melt it outside the microwave...) set them aside to cool

- sift the flour, bi-carb, and salt together into a medium bowl.

- in a separate bowl beat the butter, sugar and vanilla together until light and fluffy then beat in the eggs a little at a time until fully combined.

- mix the buttermilk with the boiling water

- add the flour and buttermilk mix and gently fold it into the mixture.  I do this is stages, separating the flour and buttermilk into thirds.  It makes the cake lighter and avoids any splitting.

- now separate the batter evenly into 3 bowls and gently fold in the 3 different melted chocolates, one into each bowl until you are left with a dark, milk and white chocolate selection of bowls.

- pour each one into its own cake tin and bake for 25 to 30 minutes until a cocktail stick inserted into the centre comes out clean.

- to make the ganache melt the butter, chocolate and honey or golden syrup in the microwave and once smooth add the cream and stir until combined.  Leave to cool for at least 20 mins.

- to assemble the cake simply layer a small amount of the ganache on top of the first cake then sandwich the next cake on top, repeating the process until the three layers are complete.  Then smooth the remainder of the ganache onto the outside.  I use a large old round-headed knife for this as I like 'rough and ready' look but if you want a smoother, professional finish try using an offset spatula.

- grate on a little of the three chocolates you've used to jazz the top up a little.


eat and of course enjoy!


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