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Banana, cherry and white-chocolate cupcakes/muffins, by Nigella Lawson

First of all, sorry I haven’t put a post on for a while, I’ve been very busy what with some exams coming up. I eventually found the time to make these lovely cupcakes, there was a discussion as to whether they are cupcakes or muffins. I think they are a cross, cuffins if you like ! These were so easy to make, and yet so delicious. They taste so much of banana and then occasionally you get a lovely burst of white chocolate or cherry in your mouth! I think that cranberries would be good instead of the cherries too.

Ingredients

125g unsalted butter

200g cater sugar

1 tsp vanilla extract

3 ripe bananas

60ml (4 tbls) sour cram

2 large eggs

1 tsp bicarbonate of soda

1/2 tsp baking powder

300g plain flour

40g dried cherries, chopped

50g white chocolate, chopped, or buttons

12-bun muffin tin with paper cases (although, I managed to get a good 18 out of the mixture)

Recipe

1. Preheat the oven to 180 C/gas mark 4.

2. Melt the butter in a large saucepan, then, off the heat, add the sugar, vanilla and soft bananas, mashing them with a fork in the pan (or before they go in the pan). Stir in the sour cram and the eggs and, still using your fork or wooden spoon, beat to mix. Add the bicarb and the baking powder, and stir it in as well, finally stir in the flour, cherries and chocolate.

3. When the mixture’s just blended, divide between the 12 muffin cases and cook for 20 minutes or until golden and springy on top. Remove the cupcakes in their papers to a wire rack and leave to cool.

Meggy x

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Twisty chocolate bread, by Jamie Oliver

I have never made bread before, despite watching The fabulous Baker Brothers and Lorraine Pascale, and the other day I just thought why not ? I found a recipe in Jamie Oliver’s The return of the naked chef and it was brilliant! I mixed the yeast with the water and was fascinated when I came back to it a few minutes later and it was all frothy and then when I mixed the yeast with the flour it was like fluffing a cushion up! I was so excited when I left the bread to prove and it grew to twice the size! I felt bad rolling it out to make my bread, especially as my dad kept saying “it’s alive you know! that’s why it’s bigger!” that just made me feel guilty.  I also spent about 40 minutes cracking hazelnuts to put in the bread because we didn’t have any ready ones. Remember to buy them already shelled everyone, it’s a huge time saver.

This bread was so gorgeous, we made it at night and then cooked it in the morning and had it for breakfast like croissant, yummy yummy! If you think making bread is a pain in the neck give this a try, I found it so fun and I will definitely be making more bread in the future!

Ingredients

30 g fresh yeast/3 x 7g sachets of dried yeast

30 g honey (or sugar)

625 ml/just over 1 pint of tepid water

1 kg/just over 2lb strong bread flour

30 g/1 oz salt

extra flour for dusting

200 g soft butter

200 g hazelnuts, lightly roasted and crushed or broken up

310 g/11 oz chocolate (70 % cocoa) smashed up or grated

Recipe

Preheat the oven to 200 C/400 F/gas mark 6

1. Dissolve the yeast and honey (or sugar) in half the tepid water.

2. On a clean surface or in a large bowl, make a pile of the flour and salt. Make a well in the centre and pour in the dissolved yeast mixture. With 4 fingers of one hand, make circular movements from the centre moving outwards, slowly bringing in more and more of the flour until the yeast mixture is soaked up. Pour the other half of the tepid water into the centre and incorporate all of the flour to make a moist dough.

3. Knead the dough (which was so fun) for 5 minutes.

4. Flour your hands and the top of the dough, make it into a round shape and place on a baking tray. Deeply score the dough with a knife and leave to prove until it’s doubled in size. You should leave it in a warm, moist, drought-free place for it to prove quicker. This should take about 40 minutes.

5. Divide the dough into equal parts. Prove for a second tile and then take each piece of dough and push out into a square shape on the floured board. The roll out to about 17 cm/7 inches wide. At this point, roll the other way and keep rolling to achieve a rectangle about 0.5 cm/1/4 inches thick. Using a knife, spread the butter thinly across the dough. Sprinkle tha hazelnuts and the chocolate over and roll up across the width like a swiss roll. Cut across into 2 cm/1 inch wide slices. Place the slices next to each other on a greased baking tray, cut side upwards, with small gaps in between. Bake in the preheated oven for 20 minutes. Allow to cool for 20 minutes before mmmmmmming at it’s tastiness.

I reheated one of these for breakfast the next day and it was still gorgeous.

Meggy x

A romantic night in

Valentine’s day was finally here for Moi and my boyfriend Gabriel, we decided to postpone Valentine’s day as he was still at school last week. I prepared my meal in my head again and again and hoped everything would go well… and it did! We had a lovely evening! The first course was roasted gnocci, the second course was a fabulous cornish pasty pie and the dessert was chocolate fondu (not really a proper dessert, I agree, but I don’t think we’d have been able to fit anything else in. Then we watched When Harry met Sally, which Gabriel was quite skeptical about at first because it’s a “girly film” but then he was laughing more than me when we watched it. The recipes that I used are a mix of Nigella Lawson, Delia Smith and me !

Rapid Roastini (or roasted gnocci), by Nigella Lawson

Serves 2

Ingredients

2 x 15 ml of regular olive oil

250 g of gnocci

Recipe

There are two ways to do this: you can either heat the oil in a large frying pan, put the gnocci in and fry for 4 minutes, turn them around and fry for another four minutes, OR you can bake them by preheating the oven to 200 C/gas mark 6, putting the gnocci in a roasting pan, add the oil and then bake for 20 minutes, stirring them after 10 minutes.

Voila, that’s it, simple!

Cornish pasty pie, by Delia Smith

Serves 6 people

I changed the ingredients a bit to make my pie as I didn’t have everything, I replaced the potato and turnip with 3 carrots. 

Ingredients

For the pastry

350 g plain flour

175 g lard

salt and pepper

cold water, to mix

For the filling

575 g chuck steak

1 large onion

1 medium to large potato

1 medium to large turnip

1 level tsp mixed herbs

To glaze

1 beaten egg

Recipe

1. Preheat the oven to 200 C/ gas mark 6 and grease a 10 inch (25.5) metal quiche tin.

2. Make the pastry first by cutting the lard up into small chunks and rubbing it into the flour, when the fat has been distributed evenly add the salt and pepper and some water to make it all stick together and make a ball. Stick it in the fridge while you prepare the filling.

3. Slice the steak into very thin strips, about 5cm long. Place the meat in a mixing bowl with the chopped vegetables, if you have used any thick vegetables, like potatoes or turnips, slice these as thinly as possible.

4. Roll out half the pastry, large enough to line the tin with 1/2 inch overlapping. Then layer the filling ingredients in it (or just pour it in like me). Season with salt and pepper and a sprinkling of herbs and finally sprinkle in a tablespoon of water.

5. Roll out the other half of the pastry and fit it on top of the pie. Seal the edges and make a steam-hole in the centre. Go round the edge with a knife which will give you lots of excess pastry to decorate the pie with. When your done, brush the surface with the beaten egg and then bake it in the oven on a high shelf for 15 minutes. Then, turn the heat down to 180 C/gas mark 4 and continue to cook on the centre shelf for 1  1/2 hours.

This is still good cold so don’t throw it away!

Chocolate fondu

Chocolate, melt, marshmallow, yummy!

Meggy x

Toffee caramel popcorn, by Lorraine Pascale

Me and my boyfriend (well me) decided to do a Disney night where we would watch our favourite Disney films. Unfortunately we couldn’t find all of them, the attic is a dark and scary place, so we made do with the ones that were within our reach: Snow White, Lady and the Tramp (one of my favourites), Fantasia (my boyfriend’s favourite, I was alright for the first 30 mins until I looked at the back of the DVD and saw how long the entire thing was) and Beauty and the Beast. What goes better with films than popcorn? I stumbled upon this recipe when I was flicking through Lorraine Pascale’s “Home cooking made easy” recipe book and thought it sounded fun and simple, which it is.

This is toffee caramel flavoured popcorn! YUMMY! Unfortunately we couldn’t fit it all in but you can store it for 2 days so we made it last.

Ingredients

1 tbsp sunflower oil

100 g popcorn kernels

100 g soft light brown sugar

100 g butter

150 g maple/golden syrup

Recipe

1. Heat the oil in a large pan over a medium high heat then add the popcorn kernels and give the pan a shake to coat in the oil.

2. Put the lid on and every 20 seconds or so shake the pan, when you hear the first pop shake more often. Turn the heat down when the strangely fun popping begins and enjoy yourself by watching the mini firework display (if you have a see-through lid of course). Keep shaking it every so often until only a few pops can be heard, take it off the heat and leave to stand for a minute or so, then take off the lid and leave the popcorn to cool.

3. While the popcorn is cooling, heat the butter, maple/golden syrup and sugar in a small pan over a low heat. Simmer for 2 –  3 minutes, stirring from time to time. Take the pan off the heat when the mixture is syrupy and smooth.

4. Pour half of the sauce over the popcorn, mix it around with a couple of wooden spoons until the popcorn is covered and then pour the remaining half in, again mixing it all around until the popcorn is covered.

5. Let the popcorn cool right down before you eat it, otherwise things will get seriously sticky.

6. If, like me, you didn’t manage to finish it all you can put it in an airtight container for up to 2 days.

Meggy x

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