RSS Feed

Tag Archives: Cooking

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

Killer shortbread cake

This weekend I decided to make some chocolate shortbread biscuits with my boyfriend, I thought they’d be nice and pretty for the blog and we were going to make the biscuits in heart shapes ♥ I chose my recipe on bbc Good food (www.bbcgoodfood.com/recipes/1272633/double-chocolate-shortbreads) and thought it sounded simple enough, there were only 2 steps. I made the dough, easy, wrapped it in cling-film and chilled it in the fridge for an hour, no problemo, but then… DISASTER!!!! When I got it out of the fridge it was so hard that I could have killed somebody with it! I left it for 15 minutes hoping it would become soft but it didn’t so I had to ask my mum for help… Yes, my mum fixes all my cooking disasters, or tries to. She got out the Magimix, which I think she’s had since before I was born, and put all the frozen dough inside, then she whirred it around a bit, added some water and we ended up with a very gooey mixture which I could definitely not roll out and cut into heart shapes. We got a pie dish and poured the mixture in, then put it in the oven for 30 minutes. The result tasted nice and chocolatey but it was the dryest cake I think I have ever tasted in my life, it was so dry that we had trouble swallowing it! That didn’t stop my sister and my boyfriend who managed to eat a quarter of it before giving in and admitting defeat!

What went wrong? Well, after some fierce interrogation my mum realised that I had put light brown sugar into the mixture instead of brown caster sugar… I had no idea that it would make such a difference!

So I’ve learned my lesson about sugar and I hope it’s a mistake I won’t be making again! Here is a picture of the dryest cake in the world, possibly fatal if too big a chunk is attempted to be devoured…

Meggy x

Five-spice baked ribs, by Lorraine Pascale

My first savoury dish on this blog! My mum and I saw this being prepared on Lorraine Pascale’s tv show Home cooking made easy and I thought it would be nice to make because I like ribs but I don’t like to order them in restaurants because they are very messy and I end up with my face and hands covered in sauce, which is not a good look, so I thought that it would be good to make them myself and get messy in the privacy of my own home. Of course, the French seem determined to stop me from making anything properly and pretended not to know what pork ribs were. Even when I pointed at my ribs and said “these, but from a pig” the butcher I was talking to still said over and over again “that doesn’t exist”. Despite this discouraging conversation my mum went back the next day and bought a side of pork, which the butcher said he couldn’t cut up! Seriously??? Anyway, I cut it up with a meat cleaver into ribs sized chunks and voila! Maybe I should go back and show the butcher how to do it.

This is a really nice meal that isn’t too spicy, is very tasty and it’s good fun to make.

Ingredients

For the rub

  • 1 star anise
  • 1 tsp fennel seeds
  • few whole Sichuan peppercorns
  • 1 tbsp five-spice peppercorns
  • salt

For the ribs

  • 1kg/2lb 4oz pork spare ribs
  • ½ bunch spring onions, trimmed, chopped
  • salt and freshly ground black pepper

For the honey glaze

  • 2 tbsp olive oil
  • few squidges honey
  • 1-2 garlic cloves, peeled, finely chopped
  • 150ml/5fl oz soy sauce
  • 1lime, zest only
  • 3 tbsp sesame seeds (optional, although I love them!)
  • 1-2 red chillies, deseeded, finely sliced

Preparation method

  1. Preheat the oven to 200C/400F/Gas 6. Line a large baking tray or roasting tin with aluminium foil.
  2. For the rub, crush the star anise, fennel seeds and Sichuan peppercorns in a pestle and mortar. Then add the five-spice powder and some salt and mix together to combine.
  3. Put the ribs into a bowl, sprinkle over the rub mixture and rub everything in. Tip the ribs onto the baking tray and spread them out in a single layer.
  4. Cook in the oven for 45 minutes.
  5. Meanwhile, mix all the ingredients for the honey glaze in a small pan. Warm over a low heat until the honey is melted and all the ingredients are well combined.
  6. Remove the ribs from the oven, brush generously with the honey glaze, then sprinkle with the spring onions and season well with salt and freshly ground black pepper. (Set the rest of the honey glaze aside for later.)
  7. Return the ribs to the oven and cook for a further 15 minutes.
  8. Once the ribs are cooked, remove them from the oven and tip them onto a large plate. Reheat the remaining honey glaze and serve as a dipping sauce with the ribs and a large green salad.

Meggy x

Yummy New York Cheesecake

You would think that France, being famed for its food, would have an enormous amount of ingredients in its supermarkets but alas, it is not so. The closest we can get to double cream (which I absolutely ADORE by the way) is “Chantilly” which comes in a can and you spray it on your food, which is not double cream at all. My mum started to lust after cheesecake after seeing it on tv and getting nostalgic about our home country and she asked me to make some, so I started trying to find a recipe. I was very disappointed because all of my favourite chefs use double cream in their cheesecake recipes so I started to despair but then my mum found a recipe that uses cream cheese and no double cream! However it did say that you need sour cream, which is also not available over here but sour cream is luckily very simple to make, and the digestive biscuits can be found in the “English aisle” along with PG tips and Heinz baked beans, unfortunately the price is much higher than in England as they are imported but it is impossible to use French biscuits because they would simply soak up all the liquid coming out of the cake and fall apart.

Anyway, this recipe might not be made with double cream but it is the best cheesecake I have ever tasted (if I do say so myself).

First of all, some quick tips : Keep everything at room temperature and be careful about mixing the ingredients! Under-beating can lead to a lumpy mixture, over-beating can whip in too much air.

Ingredients:

For the crust

(If you prefer a thick crust, which I do, add a quarter of each ingredient for the crust)

  • 85ml butter melted, plus extra for tin
  • 140g digestive biscuits , made into fine crumbs
  • 1 tbsp sugar, granulated or golden castor

For the cheesecake filling

  • 3 x 300g/11oz pack full fat soft cheese
  • 250g golden castor sugar
  • 3 tbsp plain flour
  • 1½ tsp vanilla extract
  • finely grated zest of 1 lemon (about 2 tsp)
  • 1½ tsp lemon juice
  • 3 large eggs, plus 1 yolk
  • 284ml carton soured cream

For the sour cream

  • 142ml carton soured cream
  • 1 tbsp golden castor sugar
  • 2 tsp lemon juice

If you can’t get sour cream simply use natural yogurt with some lemon juice in it instead.

Preperation:

  1. Preheat the oven to fan 160C/conventional 180C/gas 4. Line the base of a 23cm springform cake tin with parchment paper. For the crust, melt the butter in a medium pan. Stir in the biscuit crumbs and sugar so the mixture is evenly moistened. Press the mixture into the bottom of the pan and bake for 10 minutes. Cool on a wire rack while preparing the filling.
  2. For the filling, increase the oven temperature to fan 200C/conventional 240C/gas 9. In a mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, beat the soft cheese at medium-low speed until creamy, about 2 minutes. With the mixer on low, gradually add the sugar, then the flour and a pinch of salt, scraping down the sides of the bowl and the paddle twice.
  3. Swap the paddle attachment for the whisk. Continue by adding the vanilla, lemon zest and juice. Whisk in the eggs and yolk, one at a time, scraping the bowl and whisk at least twice. Stir the 284ml carton of soured cream until smooth, then measure 200ml/7fl oz (just over 3⁄4 of the carton). Continue on low-speed as you add the measured soured cream (reserve the rest). Whisk to blend, but don’t over-beat. The batter should be smooth, light and somewhat airy.
  4. Brush the sides of the springform tin with melted butter and put on a baking sheet. Pour in the filling – if there are any lumps, sink them using a knife – the top should be as smooth as possible. Bake for 10 minutes. Reduce oven temperature to fan 90C/conventional 110C/gas 1⁄4 and bake for 25 minutes more. If you gently shake the tin, the filling should have a slight wobble. Turn off the oven and open the oven door for a cheesecake that’s creamy in the centre, or leave it closed if you prefer a drier texture. Let cool in the oven for 2 hours. The cheesecake may get a slight crack on top as it cools.
  5. Combine the reserved soured cream with the 142ml carton, the sugar and lemon juice for the topping. Spread over the cheesecake right to the edges. Cover loosely with foil and refrigerate for at least 8 hours or overnight.
  6. Run a round-bladed knife around the sides of the tin to loosen any stuck edges. Unlock the side, slide the cheesecake off the bottom of the tin onto a plate, then slide the parchment paper out from underneath.

This really is an amazingly gorgeous cake, and it is very filling, so it is ideal for when you have friends round to help you out!

Meggy x

 

Intense chocolate cookies, by Nigella Lawson

I think that it is fitting to start my blog with a Nigella Lawson recipe since she is my favourite cook and is the one that inspired me to start cooking. I loved her Nigellas Kitchen and since that was on TV I have been in a cooking frenzy.

These cookies are simply heaven, the first time I made them I made burnt them slightly but even then they were still nice, I have made them again since and they are absolutely gorgeous. They are nice and crispy on the outside but the inside is so nice and soft, they melt in your mouth… I’m getting hungry just thinking about them!

Ingredients

  • 125g/4oz dark chocolate
  • 150g/5¼oz plain flour
  • 30g/1oz cocoa, sifted
  • 1 tsp bicarbonate of soda
  • ½ tsp salt
  • 125g/4oz unsalted butter, softened
  • 75g/2½oz light brown sugar
  • 50g/2oz caster sugar
  • 1 tsp vanilla extract
  • 1 free-range egg, cold from the fridge
  • 350g/12¼oz dark chocolate chips ( I did this recipe with 100g of chocolate chips and it’s still gorgeous, so don’t worry if you don’t have enough)

Preparation method

  1. Preheat the oven to 170C/325F/Gas 3.
  2. Break the 125g/4oz dark chocolate into pieces and place into a heatproof bowl set over a pan of barely simmering water. Heat, stirring occasionally, until melted.
  3. Place the flour, cocoa, bicarbonate of soda and salt into a large bowl and mix well.
  4. In another bowl, cream the butter and two sugars together until light and fluffy. Add the melted chocolate and stir well. Beat in the vanilla extract and crack in the egg, then mix in the dry ingredients. Finally stir in the chocolate chips.
  5. Scoop out 12 equal portions of the mixture – an ice cream scoop and a palette knife are the best tools for the job – and place onto a lined baking sheet about 6cm/2½in apart (I didn’t realise how big they were going to be so I had to make all the portions smaller and use another baking sheet, so I got about 18 out of the mixture, and even though they were smaller than Nigella’s I can assure you that when they had grown into cookies I didn’t really want them bigger as they were so filling). Do not flatten them. Transfer to the oven and bake for 18 minutes, and during those 18 minutes enjoy the cookie dough left in the bowl! Then test with a skewer – it should come out semi-clean and not wet with batter. If you pierce a chocolate chip, try again.
  6. Leave the cookies to cool on the baking sheet for 4-5 minutes, then transfer them to a cooling rack to harden as they cool.

Here is a picture of my cookies! They are so fun to make and I hope you enjoy making them!

Meggy x