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Category Archives: Cooking

Blondies, by Nigella Lawson

You may have been expecting a Valentine’s day recipe but, due to my boyfriend not being on school holidays yet, I am celebrating it next week instead and I will be cooking a 3 course meal and lots and lots of cakey snacky things to eat in front of a nice romantic film. Be sure not to miss that future post, either everything will go wrong or only a few things will.

These little treats are simply divine. Think of a brownie, then imagine it not brown and with oats et voila! Les Blondies! Nigella Lawson says that she came up with the name after baking some brownies then, a few days later, some of these. When I first made these we were amazed at how tasty they are, they’re everyone’s favourite cakey snack, even better than brownies! I have been meaning to show them to you, dear readers, for a while but I kept getting sidetracked. Once, I even got all the ingredients out and started weighing them, before realising that I was 150 grams short of oats. So FINALLY I have managed to make a batch, I highly recommend these to everyone, they are just so gorgeous.

Ingredients

200 g of oats, not instant

100 g of plain flour

1/2 teaspoon of bicarbonate of soda

150 g of soft, unsalted butter

100 g of light muscovado sugar

1 x 397 g of condensed milk (my boyfriend has a strange fetish for this ingredient and insists on licking the can out when I’ve finished with it, which I find quite disgusting as condensed milk is good but mixed with other things, not by itself)

1 egg

1 x 170 g packet dark choccy chips

Recipe

1. Preheat the oven to 180C/gas mark 4 and line a 23 cm cake tin or a foil tray, approximately 30 x 20 x 5 cm with foil.

2. Combine the oats, flour and bicarbonate of soda in a bowl.

3. In another bowl, beat or mix the soft butter with sugar until pale and airily creamy, then beat in the condensed milk followed by the oats, flour and bicarb mixture.

4. When these are well mixed, beat in the egg, then fold in the choccy chips.

5. Pour, or spoon, the mixture into your tin or tray and smooth it down. Cook in the pre heated oven for about 35 mins. When it’s ready it will be dark gold around the edges and coming away from the tin. It might seem squidgy underneath but fear not, this is normal. Leave in the tin until it’s firm then put it on a wire rack to cool. When it’s cool cut it up into squares, then devour it.

By the way, this lovely cake stands can be found on the Etsy shop Tour de Force, click on the link or on the button in my sidebar.

Meggy x

Sandra’s Gateau au Poire

My mum goes to her friends house once a week where they sew, drink tea and eat cake. Last week she came back raving about a cake that her friend had made and wanted me to make it. It’s a chocolate cake with pears, it’s a very very easy to make and it was very nice, it’s quite dry on the outside but nice and gooey on the inside. The recipe is a bit odd, the mesurements are in tablespoons,  it’s made with an entire packet of baking powder (about 11 grams) and only a tablespoon and a half of flour, I was very skeptical but followed the recipe and it worked!

This cake is perfect for when you don’t have a lot of time to cook.

Ingredients

3 eggs

6 tablespoons of caster sugar

1 and a half tablespoons of plain flour (I know it seems odd but trust me)

1 packet (11 g) of baking powder

150 g of dark chocolate

100 g of butter

a can of tinned pears, drain the juice first

A 20 cm cake tin

Preperation

1. Heat the oven to 190 C/400 F/Gas mark 6 then grease your cake tin and line the bottom with baking parchment.

2. Melt the butter and chocolate together in a saucepan and while it’s melting beat the eggs and sugar together in a bowl.

3. Add the baking powder and flour, still mixing, then add the melted butter and chocolate. Make sure everything is mixed together properly and then pour into the cake tin.

4. Put the pears ontop of the mixture, if they sink don’t worry, then put the cake tin in the oven and cook for 45 minutes. Check after 40, just to be on the safe side.

5. Leave to cool for 10 minutes then take it out of the cake tin, sliding a palette knife round the edges if it’s stuck, leave to cool for a little longer, then serve with a good cuppa tea.

Meggy x

Rice Krispie brownies

My friends 18th birthday was on friday and naturally I was excited for her, though she didn’t seem to be. She doesn’t have many friends and is an orphan that lives with her boyfriend so she wasn’t really expecting much out of it, although she did say she was  going to go hunting and then have a birthday dinner with the hunters which, by the way was not invited to (the dinner, not the hunting) even though I am one of her closest friends which everyone else found very strange but I’m sure she had her reasons. Anyway, bad luck struck and she injured her knee in our sports class and ended up with a cast around her knee so the hunting trip was nearly canceled, but she went and ended up lying in a bush with a gun for the entire thing. I felt sorry for her because you’re supposed to have a fuss made of you for your 18th so I asked our friends at school if they wanted to throw a little surprise party. Our master plan was that on monday when we came in to school we would pretend to forget it had been her birthday and act like normal then, at lunchtime, we go outside and surprise her with a cake, sweets and “Champomi” (fake champagne for kids, basically fizzy apple juice). I was of course in charge of the cake and I wanted to make a batch of Blondies, brownies but made with condensed milk and oats instead of chocolate, but unfortunately we had not got enough oats… What had we got then? Well my mum had bought 2 huge boxes of Rice Krispies even though no one in the house likes them and so I decided to some classic Rice Krispie Brownies.

Ingredients

100g unsalted butter

5 x 15ml tablespoons (75g) golden syrup

150g good quality milk chocolate, chopped

50g good quality dark chocolate, chopped

150 g Rice Krispies

150g milk chocolate morsels or chips (or use half dark and half white choccy chips)

1 x 23cm square cake tin or 1 x foil tray approx 30 x 20 x 5cm

Preperation method

  • Line your tin with foil or get out a barbecue foil tray
  • Put the butter, golden syrup and chopped chocolates (not the chips) in a heavy based and fairly wide saucepan and melt over a low heat
  • Stir to mix the glossy mixture, take it of the heat, then quickly, pour and stir in the Rice Krispies
  • Still off the heat, quickly stir in the chocolate chips (I realised that you needed to do this very quickly so that they didn’t melt) and spoon the mixture into the tin.
  • Put in the fridge to set for about 4 hours before cutting

I didn’t have all the right chocolate for this but it was still absolutely gorgeous. I used 100g of dark chocolate, 100g of milk choccy chips, 100g of white choccy chips and some cocoa powder (not too much though I was scared it would make the mixture dry).

Everything went brilliantly until the next day when I triumphantly took the cake into school and then received a message from the birthday girl saying that she wasn’t coming in… Luckily I had put it in a Tupperware container but I was still worried as the Rice Krispie brownies should really be kept in the fridge. I left it in the locker overnight and the next day it was still there and hadn’t melted, but the (by now pretty annoying) birthday girl still wasn’t there, another day went by and in the end we decided to eat the cake and drink the fake champagne before they spoilt. Needless to say that my friend wasn’t very happy when she found out but hey, she shouldn’t’ have skipped school!

Meggy x

The fabulous (and ever so slightly gorgeous) baker brothers

I have just discovered Channel 4’s The fabulous baker brothers and oh yummy! The food didn’t look bad either! I didn’t know if I was watching it for the food or for the eye candy in the end. Henry Herbert (cute name) and Tom Herbert (my favourite) each showed us some recipe’s that all sounded gorgeous, especially the steak pie and the pitta bread which I plan on making soon. Everything is made in a traditional bread oven in their bakery and comes out looking lovely. They also have little competitions to see who can make the best food. The recipe’s all seem to take hours and hours to cook, one of them passed the time by chopping up some wood for their bread oven in a tight, white t-shirt, ok I’ll stop commenting on their good looks now! I can’t wait for the next episode which is, for all you English food fans that get channel 4, Wednesday at 8.30 pm (English time).

Coconut and cherry banana bread

This cake may not be the prettiest cake in the world but it sure tastes nice! As the chef, Nigella Lawson, herself says in the recipe book Kitchen “to look at, I grant you, this is not a joyous creation, but it’s damp and luscious taste is all the more heightened for being unforseen” I just love the way she talks, everything sounds so amazing! It is a very simple cake that has a brilliant taste and it also leaves hardly any washing up as everything is mixed in the same pan!

Ingredients

125g soft unsalted butter, plus some for greasing

4 small-medium bananas (approx. 500g with the skin on)

150g of caster sugar

2 eggs

175g plain flour

2 teaspoons of baking powder

1/2 teaspoon bicarbonate of soda

100g of dried cherries

100g of desicated coconut

1 x 900g (2lb) loaf tin

Preperation

1. Preheat the oven to 170 C/gas mark 3. Put a loaf liner in your tin, or just line the bottom with baking parchment and grease the sides.

2. Melt the butter in a saucepan, take off the heat and leave to cool. Peel and mash the bananas in another bowl.

3. Beat the sugar into the cooled, melted butter, then beat in the bananas and the eggs. Fold in the flour, baking powder, and bicarb. Finally, add the dried cherries and coconut.

4. Fold well so that everthing is incorporated, then pour and scrape into the lined loaf tin and smooth the top.

5. Bake for 5o mins, but check after 45. When it’s ready, the cake will be coming away from the sides of the tin and will be bouncy on top. Leave it in the tin for 10 mins before transfering to a wire rack to cool.

Yummy yummy!

Meggy x

Spiced apple and raisin pie, by Delia Smith

After a huge amount of apples bought by my mum for an excessive amount of money (which doesn’t seem right to me…) my cooking thoughts have been revolving around apples and what I could do with them before they go out of date, even though my mum was told that they are magic apples that don’t go out of date for 6 months, I do not want any of them to go to waste, just in case. Half of them also taste like pears and the other half of lemons which is odd, but I won’t deny that they taste good. The first day I had a nice healthy salad with raisins and the normal apples that we need to use up before we start the “special” apples. Then I decided on an apple pie for saturday night, yum yum!

Delia Smith has been my parents cooking goddess since before I was born probably, we have loads of books by her and one has been used so much the cover has come of, been replaced, come off again, been replaced, etc. For me, she is like the fairy godmother of cooking. This was a very nice pie with spices, apples and raisins, my boyfriend was disappointed because he doesn’t like any of these things so he just had a bowl of custard but for those of us who have developed our taste buds beyond sweets and biscuits it was lovely!

Ingredients

For the pastry

110g of whole wheat flour

110g of self-raising flour

50g of margarine/butter

50g of lard

a pinch of salt

cold water, to mix

For the filling

700g of Bramley apples (or expensive ones that taste like pears in my case)

25g of soft brown sugar

1/4 teaspoon ground cloves

1/4 teaspoon of ground cinnamon

75g of raisins

1/4 whole nutmeg, grated

To glaze

milk and caster sugar

Method

1. Pre-heat the oven to gas mark 6/400 F/200 C. Grease a 9 1/2 inch (24cm) pie-plate.

2. Quarter and peel the apples then slice them thinly into a saucepan and mix them with the sugar, spices and raisins. Sprinkle in the water and cook for 10 mins or until the apples are soft and fluffy. Next, empty the mixture into a bowl to cool.

3. Make the pastry by mixing the flours together and rubbing the fat into the flour with your fingers. Add some water and the pinch of salt and you should have a nice ball of pastry. If it’s a sticky lump (which is what I had at first) just add a bit more flour. Cut the pastry ball in half and roll one half out to a round then transfer it to line the pie-plate. Spoon in the filling, then roll out the other half of the pastry and cover the rest of the pie like a lid. Trim it and decorate with the spare pastry, brush with milk and sugar glaze, then place the pie on a baking sheet and bake for 30 mins.

Yummy yummy apple pie…

Meggy x

Chocolate digestive cheesecake with white icing

Another recipe that my Nan picked out over Christmas! This cake is very easy to make however, I have a few suggestions to make to Miss Lorraine. The biscuit base is very crumbly and she only puts it in a room to chill for 2 hours, which didn’t work. It was still quite runny and tasted too cheesy, but when I left the half that hadn’t been eaten in the fridge overnight the next day it was gorgeous! As you can see though the white chocolate design didn’t go as planned but I think it gives it a nice homemade look!

Ingredients

400g of chocolate digestives (I don’t think that 50g less would hurt though) crushed into fine crumbs

75g of butter, melted and cooled slightly

4 x 200g tubs cream cheese

icing sugar, to taste (I used about 25g)

400g milk chocolate (at least 35% cocoa solids), or a mixture of 300g milk and 100g dark chocolate (at least 70% cocoa solids)

1 tsp of vegetable oil

100g white chocolate

23cm springform tin

piping bag with a very small nozzle

Preperation

1. Mix the crushed biscuits with the melted and cooled butter squeezing them together with the back of a wooden spoon until everything is well incorporated. Put the biscuits in the springform tin and use something flat to make it nice and flat. (At this point Lorraine just leaves the biscuits but I think I would put them in the fridge while the filling is being made.)

2. Put the cream cheese and icing sugar together in a bowl and mix together gently. This should only take a few turns of the spoon.

3. Melt the chocolate in a heatproof bowl set over a pan of simmering water, make sure the bowl doesn’t toch the water. You can also simply melt the chocolate in the microwave. Pour about a quarter of the chocolate into a jug, add the oil and put to the side. Before this is used again put it in the microwave for 20 seconds to warm it up a bit again, if you don’t have a microwave put a tea towl over it to keep warm.

4.  Add a large dollop of the cream cheese mixture to the chocolate mixture and stir to combine. Keep adding the cream cheese mixture, one dollop at a time, mix it like mad until the mixture until the chocolate mixture begins to look smooth and silky. At this point, tip all of the cream cheese mixture into the chocolate mixture and mix together until everything is completely incorporated.

5. Tip the mixture on top of the biscuit base and smooth the top.  Put the cheesecake in the fridge for 20 minutes or until the chocolate at the top is beginning to firm up a little.

6. Five minutes before the cheesecake is ready, melt the white chocolate and make sure the jug of milk chocolate is nice and runny. Remove the cheesecake from the fridge and quickly pour the milk chocolate ontop of it until it is completely covered. Now drizzle white chocolate lines across the top about 2cm apart so you have a grid. Using a cocktail stick drag it across the white lines (this is how Lorraine does it but you can do whatever you want). Leave the cheesecake in the fridge for 2 hours.

Meggy x

My cooking Christmas

What a lovely Christmas I’ve had! My grandparents are here and my mum and dad’s Christmas dinner was absolutely wonderful, as always! I didn’t want to try my hand at the Christmas dinner for fear of messing it up, maybe next year!

Guess what I got for Christmas then… 3 recipe books!!! Yes I’m going to be very busy this year! I got Kitchen by Nigella Lawson, How to be a domestic goddess by Nigella Lawson (finally I have some of my heroine’s cook books!) and Home cooking made easy by Lorraine Pascale.

You may be surprised that the first recipe I did was a Lorraine Pascale one and not Nigella, well, after promising my grandma that I’d make her something she spotted “Caramelised banana bread and butter pudding with toasted pecan nuts” in Lorraine’s recipe book and said how much she loved it so I said I’d make it for her! My dad is very sceptical about Lorraine Pascale because he says that somebody that young can’t cook well enough to have their own TV show, but as I pointed out he’s already had her Five spice baked ribs and I didn’t hear him complain about that! He’s also doesn’t like her because she was a model and then suddenly changed career paths and became a chef, he’s just upset his life isn’t that glamorous, but that’s just dad being dad. This was my chance to prove to him that Lorraine is a good cook so I concentrated very hard on the recipe to get it right…

I definitely proved him wrong! The bread and butter pudding was so gorgeous! Everybody loved it! So I am going to share it with you!

Caramelised banana bread and butter pudding with toasted pecans

Ingredients

75 g butter, at room temperature

1 medium loaf of crusty white bread, cut into 8-10 slices about 2cm thick

400ml double cream (I managed to substitute this with “creme epais” which is still a feeble replacement for double cream but better than nothing)

300 ml creme fraiche

75g soft light brown sugar, plus 25g extra for sprinkling

Grated zest of 1 lemon

Seeds from 1 vanilla pod/vanilla extract

1 tsp of ground cinnamon

4 eggs

2 bananas, peeled and cut into 1cm slices

100g pecan nuts (I used brazil nuts which were yummy yummy!)

4-litre capacity baking dish, about 25 x 30cm

Method

1. Preheat the oven to 180C/350F/Gas mark 4. Grease the ovenproof dish with some of the butter.

2. Using the remaining butter, butter the bread slices on one side and, them in half diagonally and arrange them any way you like in the prepared baking dish.

3. Put the cream, creme fraiche, the 75g sugar, lemon zest, vanilla, cinnamon and eggs in a large jug and beat with a wooden spoon until smooth and well mixed.

4. Now put the banana slices and pecans between the slices of bread, with a few landing on top. Pour the liquid over the bread and allow it to soak through for a few seconds, then use the back of a spoon to squidge everything down into the liquid. Finally scatter the remaining sugar over the top. Bake the oven for 30-40 minutes, or until the mixture has just set and looks nicely caramelised.

5. Serve at once. This is delicious with a little more fresh cream poured over it.

Happy New Year!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

Meggy x

Black Beer Gingerbread

Last night we saw my heroine, Nigella Lawson, on the TV and she was doing a Christmas episode! She was throwing a cocktail for her glamorous friends in her beautiful house that was covered in fairy lights, and was making lots of snacky things to serve. She also made candles out of apples and cucumber which was (as she admitted) quite crazy but I liked it. One of the snacks she made was Black beer gingerbread, it looked very nice and my mum and I were drooling in front of the screen, you could almost smell the spices… So I made decided to make it!

Of course nothing goes smoothly in my kitchen. The first thing that I had trouble with were the measurements, which is in cups, but I soon got used to it.  Then I NEARLY forgot the golden syrup, so mum, who had been waiting for my mistake, swooped in and tried to take over. But everything was soon under control and the mixture was put in the oven.

Here is a picture of my gingerbread (that I tried to make look just like Nigella’s with the reindeer, snow and trees)! It is very nice! Even my boyfriend who doesn’t like spices likes it!

 

Ingredients

10 tablespoons of butter, plus some for greasing

1 cup of golden syrup

1 cup of dark brown sugar (packed) + 2 tablespoons

1 cup of stout

2 teaspoons of ground ginger

2 teaspoons of ground cinnamon

¼ teaspoons of ground cloves

2 cups of all-purpose flour

2 teaspoons of baking powder

1 ¼ cups of sour cream

2 eggs

1 rectangular aluminium foil pan, approximately 13 by 9 inches

Method

  1. Preheat the oven to 160C/ 325 Fahrenheit and grease your foil pan
  2. Put the butter, syrup, dark brown sugar, stout, ginger, cinnamon and ground cloves into a pan and melt gently over a low heat
  3. Take off the heat and whisk in the flour and baking powder. You will need to get rid of any lumps
  4. Whisk the sour cream and eggs together then beat into the gingerbread mixture, whisking again for a smooth batter.
  5. Pour the mixture into your cake tin and bake for about 45 minutes, when it’s ready it will be gleamingly risen at the centre, and coming away from the pan at the sides.
  6. Let the gingerbread cool before cutting it into slices or squares.

Meggy x

Saying goodbye with Brownies

I have been doing some work experience in an office in my town, I’ve been there for 7 weeks and today was my last day! I was very sad to leave, I had thoroughly enjoyed my time there, everybody had been really nice and I learned more than I think I would have at school! This will sound quite childish but I don’t want to go back to school!!! I haven’t been to school since the week before the october holidays and when I go back it will be the New Year, because of my work experience,  so I’m going to need some time to adjust to the getting up at 6am, getting on the bus, having horrible school dinners yuck yuck… Anyway, to say thank you to my “tutrice”, who took me under her wing while I was in the office, I have bought her a box of Quality Street (the perfect gift), which she loves and I also made A LOT of brownies for everybody in the office.

This is a recipe from Chocolate : Best Kept Secrets of the Women’s Institute, I wanted to use a Nigella Lawson recipe but I had the most horrible shock when I took a packet of flour out of the cupboard… Loads of tiny little mites were crawling around inside! It was so disgusting! My mum and I checked all the other packets of flour and they were all infected except one, which hadn’t been in the same place in the cupboard as the others. Luckily my neighbours lent me some flour, not the right kind for Nigella unfortunately, but I’m not complaining as everything was very rushed. Once the mixture was in the oven it took a lot longer to cook than it said in the recipe too so I was worried about that, but it turned out very nice.

This is a photo of the brownies that I finally managed to take into work, they were a big hit, everybody loved them and lots of people asked for the recipe! The gorgeous cake stand that I have used to model the brownies is a Vintage cake stand for sale on the Etsy shop Tour de Force http://www.etsy.com/shop/TourDeForce?ref=ss_profile just in case you are interested!

Ingredients :

150 g butter

50 g plain choc

200 g molasses sugar

2 eggs

A few drops of vanilla essence

Sift together 50 g of plain flour and a tsp of baking powder

150 g milk chocolate chopped into chunks

This makes 10 – 12 slices but I cut it up into chunks.

Method :

1. Preheat the oven to Gas mark 4/electric oven 180/fan oven 160

1. Melt the plain chocolate and the butter in a metal bowl over a pan of simmering water

2. In a seperate bowl, mix the molasses sugar, eggs and vanilla essence together until foamy.

3. Add the plain flour and baking powder to  the mixture, mix, then stir in the plain chocolate

4. Fold in the milk chocolate chunks then pour the mixture into a 900 g loaf tin (Save the mixture left in the bowl as a chefs perk because it is delicious!) and put the tin in the oven for 4o to 55 minutes.

5. Take it out of the oven, leave it in the tin for 10 minuted then transfer it to a cooling rack.

6. Enjoy!

Meggy x