Archive | October, 2012

Orange Spice Cookies

31 Oct

This is definitely my go-to cookie recipe as soon as the cooler months roll in. I know the recipe says to let the cookies cool completely on a wire rack but to be honest, I can’t resist taking one as soon as they are cool enough that I won’t burn my fingers… and you know what? They are absolutely yum! The mixed spice seems to warm your insides like a big foodie hug. They are also super simple so they would be a great one to make with kids and you can make them when you have a spare minute and then pop them in the freezer for whenever you need them. Simple.

Orange Spice Cookies (Makes about 20 cookies)

100g butter, softened

200g caster sugar

1 egg

zest of 1 orange

225g self raising flour

2tsp mixed spice

  • Preheat the oven to 190ºc/375ºf and grease 2 large baking trays.
  • With an electric mixer, cream the butter and sugar together until pale and fluffy.
  • Add the egg and orange zest and beat again until smooth and incorporated.
  • Sift in the flour and mixed spice and mix in until it forms a soft dough.
  • Tip it out onto a lightly floured surface and roll into a big sausage shape. Wrap in tin foil or baking parchment. Chill in the fridge for at least 3 hrs or for up to 2 weeks or put in the freezer for up to 1 month.
  • After the dough has been chilled, unwrap and cut into fairly thin slices. Arrange on the two baking trays, spaced wide apart as they will spread slightly when cooked.
  • Bake in the oven for 10-12mins. Don’t over cook as they will go crunchy instead of chewy if you do. Let cool on the tray for 5mins then transfer to a wire rack to cool completely. Then munch away with a nice cuppa!
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Vanilla Surprise Cupcakes

29 Oct

This is definitely an easy go to simple, vanilla cupcake that never fails and always gives perfect, light little buns. They are quite flat on top which provides the perfect platform for a towering swirl of creamy frosting. You can add any flavoring to these buns such as coconut, lemon, chocolate, coffee, an endless list.

I put jam in the middle of mine which oozes out in your mouth but you could leave it out for a simpler recipe that is, of course, still delicious or you could replace it with lemon curd or chocolate spread or peanut butter or anything really. I have made my cupcakes half red and half white because I like being different but it is entirely up to you. You could leave out the coloring all together or add color to the whole batch, just play around with it.

 Vanilla Surprise Cupcakes (Makes 12 cupcakes)

125g butter, softened

125g caster sugar

2 eggs, beaten lightly

1tsp vanilla extract or 1 vanilla pod

125g self raising flour

a couple of tbsp of jam of your chosen flavor

For the Buttercream Frosting:

200g icing sugar

85g butter, softened

1tbsp milk

1tsp vanilla extract

  • Preheat the oven to 180ºc/355ºf and line a 12 hole cupcake tray with pretty paper cases.
  • With an electric mixer, beat the butter until creamy, about 2-3mins. Add the sugar and cream until pale and fluffy.
  • Beat in the eggs and vanilla extract a bit at a time. If it curdles, don’t panic, just add a tablespoon of the flour and continue beating.
  • Sieve in the flour and fold until fully incorporated. You can now add food coloring, if using, or any flavoring you choose.
  • Divide the mixture evenly between the the cupcake cases and bake in the oven for 18-22mins or until a skewer inserted comes out clean.
  • Allow to cool in the tray for 5mins then transfer to a wire rack and allow to cool fully. Remove the middle of the cupcake using a knife or use a small circular shaped cutter to cut an outline in the cupcake and scooping it out with a spoon.
  • Add about 1/2tsp jam to the middle and pop the top back on.
  • To make the frosting, put all the ingredients in an electric mixer and beat until you have a creamy smooth frosting. Either spread the frosting over the cupcakes with a knife or pipe it on using a piping bag and a nozzle. Decorate however you wish! Let your imagination run wild.

Spring Onion and Sun Dried Tomato Scones

28 Oct

Spring Onion and Sun Dried Tomato Scones

I, unfortunately, am a scone fanatic. I love adding new flavors to my scones and no, it doesn’t always come out right but then again, when you hit the jackpot, it is delicious. Saying all that, I think my favorite type of scone is still currant scones slathered with loads of berries and cherries jam! I just can’t seem to beat it, which is why I made half of this recipe into currant scones. Comment below and tell me your favorite type of scone. I love hearing new ideas or even just a classic favorite!

Spring Onion and Sun Dried Tomato Scones

 

I must admit, these scones are slightly different to your regular scone recipe because they don’t have any egg and they also have no sugar, which is fine if it’s savory but even when they are sweet they don’t contain any sugar. I quite prefer this because I layer it with sweet jam so it offers the perfect combination but, if you want, you could add about 40g sugar to the recipe to make them sweet. Also I used half white and half brown flour but you could definitely use all white or all brown and they will come out just as good. You don’t have to use spring onion and sun dried tomato in these scones, add whatever flavor combination that takes your fancy! See variations below.

Currant Scones

Spring Onion and Sun Dried Tomato Scones (Makes 4-5 scones)

225g plain flour, half white and half brown

1/2tsp bicarbonate of soda

1tsp cream of tartar

pinch of salt

50g butter

4-5 sun dried tomatoes, chopped

1 large spring onion, finely chopped

1/4 pint milk

  • Preheat the oven to 230ºc/450ºf and grease a baking tray with a little butter.
  • Sieve the flour, bicarbonate of soda, cream of tartar and salt into a bowl.
  • Rub the butter in until it resembles fine breadcrumbs than stir in the sun dried tomatoes and spring onion.
  • Make a well in the middle and add the milk a bit at a time (as you may not need it all) just until it starts forming a dough.
  • Turn out onto a floured surface, knead for a minute or two, then roll out  the dough to about 3/4 inch thick. Cut into rounds and place on the baking tray.
  • Bake in the oven for 10-12mins or until the sound hollow when tapped on the bottom.
  • Let cool for 2-3mins then enjoy.

A few variations: 

  1. Pear, Ginger and Almond Scones: Add one diced pear and 40g finely chopped stem ginger to the above recipe and sprinkle a handful of flaked almonds over the scones before baking.
  2. Savory Cheese Scones: Add 40-50g of grated cheddar cheese and 1 small tsp of dijon mustard to the above recipe.
  3. Chocolate Chip and Cherry Scones: Add 50g chocolate chips and a about 5-6 diced glace cherries to the above recipe.

Rustic Apple Crumble

26 Oct

Apple crumble is one of my favorite desserts, just plain and simple. I also like different fruits in a crumble but it is never quite the same. Whenever I make my  apple crumble, I don’t really follow a recipe… I have had a few mishaps but most of the time I get it spot on. I wrote down what I did this time (By the way the crumble came out perfect) and I wanted to share it with you so you could have a heart warming crumble on these absolutely bitter days! You could also change the recipe to your own taste, for example, you could leave out the almonds or use a different type, you could also leave out the sultanas or substitute for raisins, you could use all plain flour for a smoother texture, I could rattle on for a whole paragraph but you get my drift. Sorry for my terrible photographs, I made the crumble at night and so I had no access to natural light. I hope it still looks tasty!

Rustic Apple Crumble (Serves 2 generously)

3 large granny smith apples, peeled, cored and diced

a small handful of sultanas

1-2tbsp soft dark brown sugar,or to taste

1-2tsp cinnamon, or to taste

For the Crumble:

1 1/2tbsp plain flour (35g)

1tbsp wholemeal flour (20g)

1tbsp porridge oats (15g)

35g butter, softened

1tbsp light brown sugar, (25g)

25g flaked almonds

  • Preheat the oven to 190ºc/
  • Put the diced apples in a small saucepan with a drop of water and put over a medium heat on the stove.
  • Add the sultanas, dark brown sugar and cinnamon to taste. Cook until the apples soften, stirring regularly.
  • Spoon into a small oven proof dish and set aside while you make the crumble.
  • In a small bowl, mix together the plain flour, wholemeal flour and porridge oats. Rub in the butter until it resembles rough crumbs. Stir in the light brown sugar and flaked almonds then scatter over the apples in an even layer.
  • Bake the crumble in the oven for about 25-30mins until the crumble is golden and the apples are just slightly bubbling underneath.
  • Divide between two dishes and serve with custard or vanilla ice-cream.

Pan-fried Spiced Plaice Fillets

25 Oct

Fish to me is a must have in my diet. It is a versatile source of protein and gives a pleasant change from meat or chicken. It is very light and healthy which makes it just great in general. Now I know some people don’t like fish and that’s absolutely fine with me but to the fish lover’s out there this is a must try recipe. It is very simple and involves only a few steps. The only thing to keep an eye on here is to not over cook the delicate fish. It will keep cooking even after you have removed it from the pan. The spices used really bring out the sweetness of the fish and make it shine.

Pan-fried Spiced Plaice Fillets (Serves 4)

4 plaice fillets

1tbsp sweet paprika

1/4tsp cumin

pinch of salt

2tbsp plain flour

1tbsp olive oil

2tbsp sunflower oil

  • In a relatively flat bowl, mix together the paprika, cumin, salt and flour.
  • Coat the fish fillets in the mixture and shake off any excess.
  • Heat the 2 oils in a frying pan and cook for 2 mins on each side. Remove from the heat and allow to stand for 1 min.
  • Serve with steamed vegetables and baked potatoes.

Chocolate Chip Shortbread

24 Oct

Believe it or not, I have never tried shortbread before. I don’t know how this catastrophic mistake happened but it did… I have now set the record straight and I regret it a tiny bit because now it seems that I may be slightly addicted! Anyway I am still happy because it means I am no longer being deprived of shortbread’s wonderfully crumbly, buttery texture and sweet, chocolaty (In this case) taste. Absolutely fantastic. It is quite a straight forward recipe even though the bit with the zip lock bag sounds a bit intimidating when your reading it. It is actually quite simple. You don’t necessarily have to make chocolate chip shortbread, you could remove the chocolate chips and add a different flavoring such as coconut, lemon, mixed berry or raisin and almond.  I hope you like my recipe.

Chocolate Chip Shortbread (Makes about 20-30 fingers)

226g/2 sticks butter, softened

1/3 cup icing sugar

1/3 cup caster sugar

1tsp vanilla extract

2 cups plain flour

115g dark, milk or white chocolate chips ( I used a mix of dark and milk)

icing sugar, for dusting, optional

  • In an electric mixer, cream together the butter and sugar until pale and fluffy. Add the vanilla and beat to incorporate.
  • Scrap down the sides of the bowl, add the flour and mix on low speed just until the flour has been incorporated. Do not over work the dough.
  • Fold in your chocolate chips then spoon the mixture into  a 10inch x 10inch zip lock bag ( It doesn’t have to be exactly 10 x 10, any large zip lock bag should work)
  • With the bag still open, roll the dough out into an even rectangle that is a quarter of an inch thick. Squeeze as much air out of the bag as possible and seal it.
  • Leave the dough in the fridge for at least 2 hrs or up to 2 days.
  • Divid your oven into thirds and preheat to 160ºc/325ºf. Line 2 baking sheets with baking parchment.
  • Place the plastic dough bag on a cutting board, slit open the bag and discard the bag. Using a sharp knife, cut the dough into even fingers. Place on the prepared baking sheets and prick twice with a fork, making sure it goes straight down to the baking sheet.
  • Bake in the oven for 18-22mins,  rotating the sheets from top to bottom and front to back halfway through. They should be just slightly golden around the edges when coming out of the oven.
  • Let cool on the tray for 5mins then transfer to a wire rack to cool. You can dust with icing sugar while still hot if you want. Let cool completely before serving.

Sweet Chilli Tuna Melts

23 Oct

This is one of my favorite lunches. Personally, I think tuna and sweet chilli are just a match made in heaven. They compliment each other perfectly. I know most of the time tuna is mixed with mayonnaise but I absolutely, without a doubt HATE mayonnaise. Believe me, I have tried it on several occasions and I just gag. I would love it if I liked mayonnaise, it is so difficult not liking mayonnaise. Pretty much every pre-made sandwich or tuna salad or potato salad has mayonnaise. It makes everything so difficult. Okay, that’s the end of the rant. Very sorry. I hope this recipe makes up for it!

Sweet Chilli Tuna Melts (Serves 1)

2 slices of bread (Any sort of bread such as ciabatta, panini, baps etc.)

sweet chilli sauce

sweetcorn, drained

1/2 can tuna in brine, drained

1/2 bag of mozzarella, sliced thinly

sprinkle of chilli flakes

1 spring onion, finely chopped

  • Preheat the grill to medium/high
  • Pop the 2 slices of bread in the toaster and toast very lightly, just so that it is barely even browned.
  • Spread a thin layer of sweet chilli sauce over one side of each of the bread slices.
  • Sprinkle sweetcorn over the 2 slices in an even layer and then add the tuna, arranging also in an even layer.
  • Next arrange the mozzarella slices so that as much of the slices are covered.
  • Put the 2 slices under the grill until the mozzarella is just melted.
  • Remove, arrange on a plate and sprinkle with chilli flakes and spring onion.
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