Today before work i decided to do a little bread baking. Not sure where this sudden energy came from, but maybe I was paying for later whilst I was cycling to work. I also have a new obsession for rosemary and this bread smells so lovely!
What You Need:
250g White Bread Flour, 7g Dried Yeast, 7 sun dried tomatoes chopped, 50g parmesan cheese, 7 sprigs of rosemary, 200ml of warm water.
Preheat the oven to 230C.
Mix the flour, yeast and water in a bowl with a spoon to form a ball. Leave for 5 minutes to rest. Then take the dough to a floured surface and kneed for around 10-15 minutes until smooth. With the ball of dough roll out into a long rectangle shape. Sprinkle all the ingredients evenly over the dough, as if you are putting the toppings on a pizza. Then roll the dough up into a large sausage shape. Cut the sausage into six and arrange in a greased loaf tin, with the inside swirl facing up. Cover and leave in a warm place to prove for 40 minutes. Pop into the oven and bake for 20 minutes. Once done cool and then eat! (^-^)
Since watching Gone with The Wind and reading Cold Mountain for the first time last year the American South has become an intriguing obsession, especially when it comes to food. I have never been to the south but the romantic descriptions of sweet tea, salt pork, red eye gravy and fried chicken skins makes my mouth water. So today i decided to bake something I have never tried or made before, Pecan Pie. First of all finding dark corn syrup in rainy Cambridge was my first mission, which i failed and had to settle for golden syrup, corn syrup can only be bought in the UK online or in specialist stores. I used a mixture of different recipes I have picked up and tried to create my own… which turned out not so bad. (^-^)
What You Need:
Pastry: 1 egg, 175g butter, 250g plain flour, 20g caster sugar, 1 tbsp water
Filling: 100g pecans, 50g butter, 3 large eggs, grind of salt, 250ml golden syrup, 25ml apricot brandy, 200g caster sugar
Preheat the oven to 180c.
In a mixing bowl sieve the flour and rub in the butter to create bread crumbs, then stir in the sugar. Add the egg and water and combine with a round edged knife in cutting motions. Once into a ball, kneed lightly on a floured surface and refrigerate for 10mins. Then roll out the pastry to fit the case and refrigerate for a further 20mins.
For the filling, add the syrup, sugar and salt to a pan and melt down and boil. Set aside. Whisk three eggs in a heatproof bowl and pour in the slightly cooled mixture. Over a tray of boiling water place the bowl of mixture into the bath and stir vigourously making sure it is combined well, then adding the butter and brandy. Place the chopped pecans into the refrigerated pastry case and pour over the warm mixture. Place in the oven and bake for 45 mins or until dark brown. Then serve.
This month i decided to go for the home of fantastic dessert and Patisseries, France. Tarte Tatin is a sweet, simple and rustic style apple tart which is made upside down in a frying pan and then baked in the oven. This is also an unusual dish as in France hot desserts are rare, and this one comes with a fantastic story. The origins of this tart are that two sisters made the dish by mistake by cooking apples for an apple pie for too long in a pan, quick thinking led to adding a pastry top to the pan and then baking it in the oven, the results a sticky chewy caramel, accompanied by oval shaped apples and a thin crisp pastry base. The French version of such a classic dish is so unique in flavour and look, that it’s defintaly an all time favorite.
What You Need:
Pastry: 2 egg yolks, 150g plain flour, 25g sugar, 100g butter
Filling: 5 eating apples, peels and cored (granny smith), 50g Butter, 100g sugar
Combine the flour and butter, to form bread crumbs and then add the sugar. Mix in the egg yolks with a knife and combine the ingredients until it forms a dough. Lightly need and the refrigerate for 20mins.
Preheat the oven to 200C.
In a nonstick frying pan with a metal handle, add the sugar and butter and heat on med/low until a nice yellow syrup has formed. Add the apples curve-side down and heat for 15mins, until they are golden brown and the syrup has turned to a brown sticky caramel. Take the chilled pasty and roll out to fit the pan, place the pastry on top of the apple mixture and fold excess down the sides of the pan. Place in the oven for 20mins on 200C and then a further 20mins on 150c. Turn out onto a try or large plate and eat warm.
This month I decided to try the famous cupcake bakery which is in London and New York. The book is a joy to look at with delicious pictures and easy to follow instructions. I wanted to try the Key Lime Pie, as this is something I have never tried before and is not a popular treat in the UK, but is a traditional american dessert, naked after the Florida grown lime .also i had loads of limes left over from christmas (^-^) . I suppose a key lime pie is a cross between a cheesecake and a lemon meringue pie.
The natural green filing and the crunchy biscuit crust really compliment well, topped with fluffy meringue, or cream . I will definitely try this again as it is so easy to make, does not take much time and I think will suit well for summer BBQs and parties. The book helped me perfect my biscuit crust skill which before was hit and miss. You can find the book in all good bookstores, i got mine for christmas. Yum .
Happy New Year and into a new decade we go. What a better way to celebrate than a big ball of meatballs with home made tomato sauce, there is nothing more warming and satisfying. The thing about tomato sauce is to season, this is very important as the right balance is essential otherwise tomatoes are very easy to taste bland.
What You Need:
800g Tinned Whole Plum Tomatoes or You own poached Tomatoes, peeled (around 9 tomatoes with juice, roughly chopped), 3 garlic cloves, 1 glass of red wine, 1 glass of chicken stock, 1 large onion, hand full of fresh thyme, 2 tsp of sugar, salt and pepper to season
First slice thinly the garlic and the onions and in a large pan with olive oil sauté until golden brown and soft, once done add the glass of wine and simmer for around 5 minutes, then add the sugar and a pinch of salt. Mix together until the sugar starts to thicken. Then add the tomatoes and stir. Simmer the mixture for a further 5 minutes and then stir in the chicken stock followed by a grind of pepper and salt. Bring the sauce to the boil and let it bubble for 5 minutes. Turn down the heat and simmer for 2 hours adding the thyme leaves. After set the sauce aside and let it cool at room temperature to capture all the flavours.
To serve pour the sauce over meatballs or roasted vegetables and grated cheese and bake in the oven for 20mins, eat with spaghetti or a light spinach salad.
So here is what i made with my mincemeat filling from before. What a perfect traditional christmas treat. Especially served hot with brandy butter and a glass of baileys. Simply follow my mincemeat recipe, incase in any pastry type of your choice, glaze with a beaten egg, sprinkle with sugar and bake for 10-12 mins on 180C, eat warm or cold. Good for freezing and using when you want, or even leave a few out for Santa Claus on Christmas Eve.
I remember eating cherries in cakes when I was young so a nostalgic throwback recipe was perfect on a very wet, cold and windy day in Cambridge. Simple and sweet, nice with a cup of tea.
What You Need:
500g self raising flour, 4 eggs, 150g butter, 230g caster sugar, 2 tsp baking powder, 1 rind of orange, 2 drops of almond essence, 100g glace cherries, 250ml milk. (Makes 12 muffins)
Preheat the oven to 200c.
Take a small bowl and melt the butter. Now add to the melted butter the eggs, milk and almond extract. Whisk until light and frothy. In a separate mixing bowl add the rest of the ingredients, including the cherries roughly chopped. Mix together the dry ingredients and then make a well in the centre and add the butter batter. Beat vigourously trapping the air for 5mins. Spoon the mixture into cases and bake for 20-30mins. Cool and the eat!
There is nothing more yummy than a house full with the smell of freshly baked bread. The best thing about your own bread is that you have created it yourself, you know what’s in it and a feeling of accomplishment. Bread is one of my biggest vices, I remember when I was a student in Manchester there was a really great German bakery nearby and I would go there a buy a different type of bread each time and make a big chunky soup. However the bread was so delicious on many occasions I would seem to eat the whole loaf in one sitting (^-^)
What You need:
15g yeast, 570g wholemeal flour, 600ml warm water, 2 tablespoons of sea salt, 1 tablespoon of caster sugar.
First place your flour in a container in the oven on a low heat for 5 minutes and let it warm up. Prepare your yeast if it is a dried yeast at this time. Now take the warm flour and add it to a mixing bowl, stir in the sugar and the salt evenly and then the yeast, followed by the water. Mix with a wooden spoon until combined well and transfer onto a floured surface. Spread the dough into a rectangle and then fold one side into the centre and the other side over. Now in a lightly oiled loaf tin place the dough inside and press down around the edges and then dust with flour. Cover over the loaf with a damp tea towel and leave in a warm place for 40mins.
Preheat the oven to 200c.
Once the dough has risen, place the loaf tin on the middle tray of the oven and bake for 40mins. Then turn out the bread and place back into the oven for 5 minutes upside down to crisp up the bottom and the sides. Cool on a rack and the serve.
Lashings of butter.
In winter the most wonderful thing is Cranberries, rich in colour and flavour, bitter yet sweet perfect for desserts and savoury dishes. What I love is a brie sandwich with a generous spread of cranberry jam. This is a very simple recipe you can find in many different cookbooks.
What You Need:
300g Fresh Cranberries, 300g Caster Sugar
Simple simmer the ingredients in a pan until the sugar has dissolved, then turn up the heat and boil for around 5 minutes or until jam consistency (105c). Jar straight away into a recycled sterilised jar and seal.
For you or as a gift.
Anything with mint is a winner for me and this jelly sauce is no exception. The combination of apple and mint gives the bitter sweet taste , you can use with roast pork and lamb, an ideal compliment for your Sunday dinner.
What you Need:
8 small apples (granny smith are good especially apples with pinkish skin for colour), 450g sugar, 2 tablespoons liquid pectin, 30g fresh mint (roughly chopped), 1 juice of lemon.
First quarter the apples and add to a large saucepan, fill the pan with enough water to cover the apples and add the mint and lemon juice. Bring this mixture to the boil and then simmer for 20-30 minutes. Take off the heat and cool. After, drain the liquid from the apples and set aside. With a potato masher lightly mash the apple mint mixture and pour the puree into a sieve over a large bowl. With the back of a spoon push and mush the apple in the sieve to extract the juice and fine pulp, be patient you will find after a while you will have got quite a lot out of the mixture. Once you have extracted as much as you can discard the mush left overs, and take the strained juice/pulp and pour into a measuring jug and then top up with the cooking juice, to 1 pint.
Take the 1 pint of mixture and add to a clean saucepan and mix in the sugar. On a low heat stir until all the sugar has dissolved, now add the pectin. Turn up the heat and rapidly boil the mixture for 15mins, once the jelly has done it should have reached the temperature of 105C. Take off the heat and pour into a recycled sterilised jar, seal straight away, cool at room temperature and then chill. Do not worry if your mixture is liquidly when you add it to the jar because as it cools it will set.