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!

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.

Sunday Roast Chicken and Root Vegetables

22 Oct

I love having a roast on a Sunday. Just having a relaxing day,  going for a long walk with the doggies and popping a big chicken in the oven and just wait for the glorious aromas to start wafting through the kitchen. It may seem slightly scary but there is no need to avoid it. With some basic instructions (which I will give you) it can be a lovely enjoyable experience and you get succulent, moist chicken and super flavorful roast root veggies at the end. Does that sound bad? I don’t think so!

Sunday Roast Chicken and Root Vegetables (Serves 4-6 people)

1 large whole chicken

vegetable oil

2 large carrots

2 large parsnips

1/4-1/2 turnip

frozen peas

4-6 large roasting potatoes

4 garlic cloves, minced

1tsp dried thyme

1tsp dried rosemary

2tsp Dijon mustard

juice of 1 lemon

120ml olive oil

salt and pepper

  • Preheat the oven to 200ºc/375ºf. Remove all packaging from the chicken, rinse with cold water and pat dry.
  • Place on a large roasting tray. Drizzle with vegetable oil and season with salt and pepper. Rub it in with your hands so that the whole chicken has a light coating of oil and seasoning.
  • Put in the preheated oven and cook for about 1 1/2hrs depending on the size of your chicken. It should give an approximate cooking time on the label of your chicken.
  • Peel all your vegetables, slice the carrots, parsnips and turnip into chunky fingers and cut the potatoes into large chunks.
  • In a bowl, mix together the garlic, thyme, rosemary, Dijon mustard, lemon juice, olive oil and salt and pepper.
  • When there is about 45mins to go before the chicken is due to be finished, add the vegetables to the tray and brush with about half of the the dressing using a pastry brush. You can also brush some dressing onto the chicken. Return to the oven and continue roasting
  • Put the potatoes in a pot of cold water and part boil on the stove for about 10-15mins.
  • After the potatoes have been part boiled, drain and add them to the tray,  brush the remaining dressing over the potatoes, veg and chicken. Turn the veg.
  • Roast the potatoes until fluffy on the inside and crisp and crunchy on the outside. Turn them halfway through.
  • Put the peas on to boil about 10-15mins before everything is due to be finished.
  • A useful guideline to know when the chicken is done is: Pull on the thighs and them should feel like them are about to tear off easily. Remember though, this is only a guideline.
  • Remove everything from the tray and set out on plates. Drain the peas and add a knob of butter, salt and pepper. Stir and tip into a bowl to serve. You can accompany this with gravy if you wish.

Heavenly Coconut Muffins

21 Oct

I know coconut is just one of those things that people just love or hate, like marmite, but i am 100% lover of anything coconut. Firstly it can be used in both sweet and savory dishes and who can complain about versatility? Certainly not me. Secondly, when used in sweet dishes, it somehow has this ability to never make anything too rich. It always gives a freshness to dishes, in my opinion. This recipe uses Greek yogurt and coconut oil which are both very good for you. They use both white and wholemeal flour and only 1 egg. Therefore this recipe is fantastically hearty, healthy and a perfect breakfast or lunch. I like having mine with a big mug of coffee and some fruit. Doesn’t that sound like bliss? It does to me! You can get shredded coconut or desiccated coconut in most supermarkets, but my supermarkets are kind of limited so I got my shredded/desiccated coconut and coconut oil in my local health food store. Make sure to get the edible coconut oil and not the one to use on your hair and skin!

Coconut Muffins (Makes about 10 normal sized muffins)

Make sure the yogurt and egg is at room temperature because if it is too cold it will cause the coconut oil to solidify again. This makes managing the mix to be much more difficult but not impossible.

110g (1/2) cup extra virgin coconut oil

95g (3/4) cup plain flour

60g (1/2) cup wholemeal flour

1 1/2tsp baking powder

1/4tsp salt

230g (1 cup) Greek style yogurt

65g (1/3) cup granulated sugar

1 egg

1tsp vanilla extract

90g (3/4) cup shredded/desiccated coconut

  • Preheat the oven to 200ºc/375ºf and put liners in 10-12 muffin cases or use 5 inch squares of baking parchment to line the tin.
  • In a small saucepan, heat the coconut oil just until it has melted and all of it is a liquid, it doesn’t need to be hot.
  • In a separate bowl, combine the two flours, baking powder, salt and half of the coconut. Set aside.
  • In another bowl, whisk together the yogurt  sugar, egg, vanilla and coconut oil. Mix in the dry ingredients until just combined.
  • Divide the mix between your muffin cups and sprinkle the remaining coconut over the muffins evenly.
  • Bake in the over for about 20mins until a skewer inserted into the middle  comes out clean.

Simple but Delicious Chocolate Cupcakes

20 Oct

I don’t know about you guys, but I have so much trouble finding a good chocolate cupcake recipe. It’s like chocolate hates me, I can do every other (Well not every) cupcake just fine. I can never get it right, until I found this recipe. What drew me to it was that the ingredients were so unusual for a cupcake. I have never seen a cupcake with natural yogurt (I use it in muffins but have never tried it in cupcakes) or ground almonds. I was interested to see how these new ingredients would effect them. Especially because one of my biggest problems with chocolate cupcakes is that they always seem to sink in the middle and then no matter what way I look at them I just end up getting angry because they look so damn ridiculous. To me my food has to look good as well as taste good. I’m pretty convinced that we process food with all our senses. These are moist cupcakes yet not gooey and impossible to handle. They are light and fluffy and aren’t overly rich which means that the frosting tops them off perfectly.

Simple but Delicious Chocolate Cupcakes (20 cupcakes/12 muffins approx.)

150g natural/Greek yogurt

3 eggs, beaten

1tsp vanilla extract

175g golden caster sugar

140g self raising flour

1 1/2tbsp cocoa powder

100g ground almonds

a pinch of salt

50-100g chocolate chips/chunks (milk,dark or white) (optional)

175g butter, melted

For the Frosting:

85g butter, softened

1tbsp milk

1tsp vanilla extract

200-250g icing sugar (Depending on desired consistency)

sweets, sprinkles etc. to decorate (optional)

  • Preheat the oven to 180ºc/355ºf and line 20 cupcake cups with papers or a 12 holed muffin tin.
  • Whisk the yogurt, eggs and vanilla together and set aside.
  • In a large bowl, stir the sugar, flour, cocoa powder, ground almonds, salt and chocolate chips/chunks, if using, together and make a well in the middle.
  • Add the yogurt mix and the melted butter and fold in with a large metal spoon until combined.
  • Spoon into the cupcake cases and bake in the over for about 18-22mins or until a skewer inserted in the middle comes out clean.
  • Let cool in the tin for a few mins then remove and let cool completely on a wire rack before decorating.
  • To make the frosting, put the butter, milk, vanilla and icing sugar in an electric mixer and beat until it all forms a creamy frosting. You may want to add a tiny bit more milk or more icing sugar to get the desired consistency but do this cautiously. Add your food coloring a bit at a time too because what seems like a small amount will color a lot of icing.
  • You can pipe on the icing using a piping bag and a chosen nozzle or you can simply lather it on with a knife. Hope you love them! 😀
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