Tuesday, 2 September 2014

A mini Minion

So much for my comeback ! I dont feel sick anymore which is lovely but have moved house which isn't easy when you are 6 months pregnant and looking after a very boisterous nearly 2 year old toddler who bless her wants to help unpack, I've lost count of how many things I've misplaced! So we have moved to a house from a second floor flat and I can't tell you how fantastic it is not to have to walk up 2 flights of stairs carrying Molly and whatever bag I had let alone being pregnant. Just open the car door and in we go! We've only moved about 8 miles away but its a new village and I am always wanting to make new friends and was very excited to see on the local noticeboard a baking club with a meeting the following week! So I had to go. The people were really friendly all like minded bakers who loved to bake , there were 3 other women who were new that week too which made me feel more at ease. Its a monthly meeting with people taking turns to showcase what they are good at but its not obligatory which is good as I wouldn't have a clue what to do! This  month was a cake decorating session to make a Minion, I know what one is but I haven't seen the films. I haven't really done a lot of work with sugar paste so was very keen to have a go - this is my finished Minion.


We were all given a 'body' and 'head' - these were vanilla sponge cakes that the one of the fellow bakers had made - we covered them with apricot jam as a glue for the yellow paste and then cut out the belt , eyes, trousers etc in the blue and black sugar paste. We did it all in stages so it took a while to do and some bits were a bit fiddly but it was great fun and they all looked very individual when we had finished! It was a fab night and I am so pleased that I made the effort to brave it and go.These are the finished Minions!




 Next month it is bread making which is something I haven't done since school!









































We were all given a 'body' and 'head' - these were vanilla sponge cakes that the one of the fellow bakers had made - we covered them with apricot jam as a glue for the yellow paste and then cut out the belt , eyes, trousers etc in the blue and black sugar paste. We did it all in stages so it took a while to do and some bits were a bit fiddly but it was great fun and they all looked very individual when we had finished! It was a fab night and I am so pleased that I made the effort to brave it and go. Next month it is bread making which is something I haven't done since school!

Thursday, 5 June 2014

I'm still here!!

I haven't vanished for ever just for a little while. The reason that I have been so terrible with my blog is that I am 20 weeks pregnant! As I was with Molly I have been really sick with morning sickness - god its horrid - didn't want to do anything and the last thing on my mind was my blog! It is all I can do to get through the day... But I have turned a corner and feel a bit more like my self again - Hurray! So will get busy in the kitchen and make some cakes! Watch this space......

Friday, 14 February 2014

Valentines crumpet!

Happy Valentines day to you all ! Instead of chocolates I have a crumpet to share with you !
 
 
 
Delicious!

Tuesday, 11 February 2014

Fishcakes

Stephen is the king of mashed potatoes! He makes them so fluffy and smooth , his secret is lots of milk and butter and once mashed with a masher to use the hand mixer - they always come out divine! The only downside is that he manages to decorate the kitchen with potato!

I decided to have a go at making some fishcakes over the weekend and made more mashed potato than even Stephen could eat in preparation for the fishcake making. In the past when I have made them they have fallen apart and I think this is due to them not being wet enough, this time they turned out perfectly. I had bought some Salmon that needed eating up so grilled this and added them to the mashed potato along with spring onions, leftover green beans, sweetcorn, chives and feta cheese. once it was all mixed together I left it in the fridge for a couple of hours.
Once they were chilled I neeed to coat them and couldn't remember which order to dip them in - was it egg first ? or flour? I turned to the trusty BBC food website (don't know what I would do without this!) It's Flour,egg then bread crumbs! I then shaped them into large patties ( making some teeny tiny ones for Molly) set up my 3 dishes of flour , egg and breadcrumbs.( In the breadcrumb mixture I also added some fresh grated pecorino cheese and a teaspoon of paprika for a bit of ooompf.) I used my hands to get really stuck in and ended up with mixture all over me - I looked like I had swollen fingers - bleughhh.
 These are them ready to be chilled again.
 A close up with a speck of chive poking through!
 
 another close up - you can never have too many!!
For Molly's little fishcakes I experimented and did a couple in the frying pan and a couple in the oven to see which came out better and the oven baked ones were the best - also they didn't smoke out the house which frying always does!
So the adult versions were drizzled in a little olive oil and put in the oven to brown and sizzle....
 They held  shape beautifully
 Another close up - this one bursting its seams with yumminess

Overall they were a definite success, they didn't collapse and weren't too dry - the paprika added a lovely smokiness to them , the feta cheese was a lovely surprise to bite into,  I made too many to eat in one go so have frozen some for another day ... Molly didn't like hers though and preferred a banana! Oh well you can't please everyone! Will make these again and play around with the fillings - sundried tomatoes, smoked fish, sweet potato are possibilities as well as adding some cheesy filling.
I am going to enter some blogging challenges this month so shall be entering this into Lavendar and Loveage February challenge which is to cook with herbs and this months theme of Chinese and romantic inspired recipes with herbs - although this isn't Chinese it was for a romantic dinner with Stephen! To see the other entries click here.
Cooking with Herbs

Monday, 10 February 2014

Frangipan mince pies

Another delayed post from December ! I don't really like the mince pies that you can buy as there is too much pastry and it gets stuck to the roof of your mouth ( Too much info??) however I make an exception for the mini mince pies that you can get as there is just enough not to make you feel like you have overdone it ..again.. I saw this recipe in Decembers Waitrose magazine and it didn't sound too difficult - there are a lot of stages to it which I like because it means I can do a bit and then leave it a while to play with Molly. So although these took me all day to make you could do them in an evening. They were delicious - maybe next time I will make my own mincemeat ... Truly Scrumptious!!






Taken from Waitrose December 2013 magazine
Frangipane Mince Pies
 
Makes about 24
150g Plain Flour ( plus extra for rolling)
1/2 tsp baking powder
25g caster sugar
75g unsalted butter , diced and chilled
75g Philidelphia soft cheese
50g ground almonds
1 egg yolk
410g mincemeat
50g flaked almonds
icing sugar for dusting
Frangipane
150g ground almonds
100g unsalted butter, softened
100g caster sugar
2 eggs
1 egg yolk
25g plain flour
1 tsp vanilla extract
1/2 lemon zest grated
·         For the pastry, tip the flour, baking powder, sugar and a pinch of salt into a food processor. Add the butter and pulse in short bursts until the mixture resembles fine sand. Add the soft cheese, ground almonds, egg yolk and 1tbsp cold water and blitz again until the dough starts to come together. Use your hands to bring the dough together to form a neat ball, ensuring you don't overwork the pastry. Flatten into a disc, cover with cling film and chill for at least an hour.
·         Lightly flour a work surface. Halve the dough and roll out one piece to a circle about 0.2cm thick. Using a 8cm fluted cutter stamp out as many circles as you can and use to line a shallow 12 hole bun tin, or you could use a muffin tin ( bigger ones!) gently pressing the dough into the holes. Repeat with the second half of the dough - you should aim for about 24 pastry discs in total. Chill the pastry cases for about 20 - 30 mins.
·         Preheat the oven to 180c, gas mark 4. For the frangipan whizz together all the ingredients in a food processor until smooth.
·         put 1sp of mincemeat into the bottom of each pastry case and top each with 1-2 tsp of frangipan, spreading it to cover the mincemeat. Scatter with flaked almonds and bake for about 20 mins until puffed up and golden brown. You may need to swap the trays over halfway so that they all brown evenly.
·         Remove from the oven and leave to cool in their tins for 4-5 mins. Then carefully transfer to a wire rack until they are at room temp and to make them look professional dust with icing powder!
·         enjoy!
 

Wednesday, 29 January 2014

Foodie Penpals January

Foodie Penpals is back after the Christmas break.
This month It was a European affair for me - I sent a parcel to Vanessa who lives in Greece - she doesn't have a blog to link to, and I my parcel came from the very chatty Susanna in Holland , this is her blog A World in my oven . I had a very funny and chatty initial email from Susanna , she is hilarious and I really enjoyed emailing her.
I asked Susanna to send me some sweet items and especially Speculaas that I had heard of and would love to try - she didn't disappoint!!


This is my box of goodies!!
 
The Pickwick box is tea which sounds interesting! full of spices - I haven't tried this yet as I am not sure about it ! But will give it a go!!
Ontbijtkoek - OMG this is delicious, its a gingery-bread sort of deliciousness that Susanna says I have to have with butter on which I did and I also toasted it - not sure whether that is allowed !!I have eaten half of it and the rest is in the freezer for an emergency!
The waffles are lovely especially if they are slightly melted- just pop them over the top of a cup of tea (to make a sort of lid) for a couple of minutes.....

According to my foodie pen pal these are Hollands national candy and are a love it / hate it sweet that 99% of the English hate - I really liked them - a bit like salty liquorice.
These are Kniepertjes and are a New Years treat best served with whipped cream - unfortunately I don't like cream so I had them crushed in vanilla ice cream - they are a light wafer with aniseed inside .. mmmm...
The biscuits are the Speculaas cookies that I have heard all about and are sold all year round and are in the shape of windmills. They taste of nutmeg and cinnamon and remind me of Christmas.
The cakes taste of Battenburgs! Fantastic!! they didn't last very long in my house!
Finally this is another Speculaas which is eaten on the 5th December to celebrate St Nicholas day.
I loved this months foodie pen pals box - Thank you very much Susanna!
If you would like to take part in foodie pen pals then click here

Tuesday, 21 January 2014

Christmas Chutney

Happy New Year!!
I have a lot of posts in the pipeline as I didn't think about blogging at all for most of December so there are a few festive ones to be posted starting with this one!
I try to make my own chutneys for Christmas presents but always leave it till the last minute and don't have any time to do it -  so this year I pestered my mum to help me as she has a) a big Kitchen, b) HUGE chutney pans and c) all the gadgets that you need to chop ! Chutney is lovely but it is time consuming all that chopping!!! So on one trip that Molly and I made to stay with mum we got down to business!  I am always saving Jam jars and even buy products because I think that the jar would be fab with home made Lemon Curd , Jam or Chutney in it. So one October day armed with my stash of jars and various vegetables  Molly and I arrived ready for action. We were making Harvest Chutney which mum can make with her eyes shut as she makes loads of it for Red Cross sales -its delicious! We had Uncle Peters Marrows grown in his allotment so there was a lot of family love in these jars. Mum and I took it in turns either chopping  vegetables



 ( with this handy implement XXXXXX) or entertaining a wriggly Molly. We were so engrossed in the whole process that I didn't remember to take any photos!
We made Jars and Jars of it!
In the past I have just put a freezer label on the front and simply written Harvest Chutney - not very wild or interesting but to the point - so this year I was going all guns blazing ! I was sure that I could make something that looked professional..... So I spent my evenings half watching I'm a Celebrity or Strictly Come Dancing with my laptop searching images for inspiration on labels. After many many nights of research found that the best idea would be to use one of the free printables... But which ones?
These are the ones that I opted for and came from http://www.jamlabelizer.com/

You just fill in the fields and save them as a Jpeg - Then print.
This is how they have turned out....


I also made some labels for marmalade - I was pleased with these but they were a little dark, will try one of the other labels next time....