Sunday, 29 April 2012

Fave Recipes from the Web

I thought I'd do a little round up of some of the recipes I've come across this week that I can't wait to try out. These are either from blogs I follow, or just ones I came across via Pinterest.

Firstly, Two Peas and Their Pod's recipe for Rosemary Sea Salt Pretzels!
After my trip to Berlin I've been craving soft pretzels but haven't yet had chance to try making my own. I've found a few recipes for them, but the addition of rosemary to these sounds so delish that I'm probably going to try using this one first. The cheese sauce that accompanies the pretzels is tempting enough for me to try these out by itself!

Avoid the Raspberri Cupcakes' blog if you're trying to cut down on sweet things - her recipes are the ultimate cakes and desserts for indulging in and instantly make me start craving home-made goodies, none more so than the Rolo Chocolate Brownie Cake posted recently.
This cake has everything you could ever want - chocolate, caramel, topped with 4(!) tubes of Rolos - I'm wowed every time I look at it. I think we all have those days where a slice of something as decadent as this is in order, so I may have to save the recipe for a day like that. Otherwise I don't think I could justify eating this!                                  

I love Joy the Baker's blog - fab recipes accompanied by her lovely down-to-earth writing. I need to make these Oatmeal Sandwich Cookies with a Creamy Peanut Butter Filling.
Peanut butter is a major treat for me - I don't buy it often because my fiancé doesn't like it, and I end up eating my way through the jar so quickly it's probably for the best it's not always in the flat! I intended to make some peanut butter cookies last time I had some. Unfortunately I ended up eating too much of the jar before I could - whoops! I am determined to make some next time though, and the combination of peanut butter with oats sounds like it might just satisfy all my peanut butter cookie cravings. Plus, my philosophy is oats in a cookie equals a healthier cookie, and therefore more can be eaten. Don't have to worry about my fiancé not eating them then!

If you're on Pinterest you may have also seen these Cinco de Mayo Piñata Cookies. 
These look so much fun, I think it's such a cute idea for a themed party. The dough takes more effort than usual but the effect is stunning so when I've got time I may have to attempt these.

I'll finish this post with Lentil & Chickpea curry, another recipe I found through Pinterest. Partly so you don't get the impression I only ever cook and eat cakes and cookies. 
I'm not a vegetarian, and most meals I can't imagine without some sort of meat. However for me curries are the thing I can make without meat and not miss it at all. Instead I tip loads of vegetables in it and bulk it up with chickpeas. This recipe looks like a fancier version of the kind of curries I currently make. I haven't used lentils before and have only recently tried out coconut milk so this will be nice to try out as something slightly different to what I usually put together for dinner. 

I hope this post possibly introduced you to a new blog, or just gave a little bit of cooking inspiration. If there's any good food blogs or recipes you've come across and think are worth sharing, please let me know!  :)

Thursday, 26 April 2012

Chicken Fajita Pasties

Last weekend consisted of lots of baking - pizza, cookies, and these spicy pasties. I love Mexican food, so decided to give a fajita filling to a pasty recipe I'd used before. A sprinkle of turmeric and paprika are added to a shortcrust pastry to give it some colour and a flavour complimentary to a salsa-drizzled chicken, onion and pepper filling. These are filling enough (and moreish enough!) to be dinner on their own, or would be nice as a different sort of side dish as part of a Mexican night.

Chicken Fajita Pasties

Makes roughly 25

For the pastry: (Adapted from The Great British Bake Off book)
225g plain flour
Pinch of salt
1/2 teaspoon turmeric
1/4 teaspoon paprika
125g chilled butter, diced
About 4 tablespoons icy water

For the filling: 
1 chicken breast, cut into 1.5cm cubes
1 small onion, chopped finely
1/2 red pepper,  chopped finely
1 clove of garlic, crushed
1 teaspoon cumin
1 teaspoon paprika
1 teaspoon ground coriander
1/2 teaspoon cayenne pepper
A sprinkle of chilli powder, to taste
1 tablespoon barbecue sauce

Egg, beaten to glaze
Oil, for the pan
Sour cream, to serve

-To make the pastry, sift the flour, salt, turmeric and paprika into a large bowl.
-Using our fingertips, rub the diced butter into the flour a bit at a time until the mixture resembles breadcrumbs.
-Stir in enough of the cold water to bring the mix together into a soft, but not sticky dough. Wrap in clingfilm and keep in the fridge until needed. 
-To make the filling, heat the oil in a large pan or wok. Add the garlic and onions and fry until soft.
-Add the peppers and chicken and fry for a minute. 
-Add the barbecue sauce and the spices and mix until everything is fully coated. Continue to fry until the chicken is cooked through. Put aside.
-Now to put the pasties together! Preheat the oven to 180C/350F/Gas mark 4. 
-Roll out the pastry onto a lightly floured worktop to a few millimetres thick. These are only small pasties so you don't want to just have a mouthful of pastry, but the pastry needs to be thick enough to contain the filling comfortably. 
-Using an 8cm cutter, cut rounds from the pastry. Keep re-rolling the remaining dough until it is all used up.
-Place a small splodge of salsa in the centre of the round. Add a teaspoon of the chicken mix, leaving a border around the filling. 
-Brush a little of the beaten egg around this border, then fold the pastry over the top of the filling, making a semi-circle. 
-Press the edges firmly together. If you like use a fork to gently do this and create a pattern.
-Make holes in the top with a fork to allow steam to escape while cooking. Glaze with the beaten egg. Line on a baking tray lined with baking parchment.
-Bake in the oven for about 25 minutes, until the pastry is a golden colour and crisp. Serve with sour cream and extra salsa.

Wednesday, 25 April 2012

Bill Bryson - A Short History of Nearly Everything

If you haven't checked this book out and are interested in anything science-y I definitely recommend it. Impressively, the author manages to do what he claims, covering everything from the beginnings of the universe to the evolution of human beings, stopping off along the way to describe how the significant discoveries that make up our current knowledge of the world took place (though judging by the personalities of some of the scientists described it's a wonder in itself we've found out this much!).
As so much is covered, there will probably be some parts you'll find more interesting than others - the geek in me loved the bits about space and DNA, though I have to say, I'm not one to get excited about rocks. The entertaining style of Bill Bryson's writing manages to keep all of the material engaging however, with just the right amount of information about each topic without getting bogged down in anything.

Accessible and enjoyable - who would of thought this could be said about science?

Thursday, 19 April 2012

Cheat's Hoisin Chicken Stir Fry

Just a quick post to share the recipe for the yummy stir fry I made this evening. When I started uni I assumed I'd be eating pasta constantly but I've actually ended up making stir fries more often, probably because they're so easy to vary and most vegetables and meat work really nicely. They're also so quick to make whilst still being healthy so there's no excuse for slacking on cooking during the week.

I love Hoisin sauce and ended up experimenting one day when we didn't have any in the cupboard - flavour-wise it seems like a Chinese barbecue sauce to me, so I added some five spice and a splash of soy sauce to some ordinary barbecue sauce and ended up with a similar flavour. Not quite as good as the real thing, but a good make-do when you don't have any in (and cheaper too!)

All the amounts are approximate, I don't bother too much with exact quantities with things like this, so adapt according to taste! This serves two people.
Add oil to a wok, along with 2-3 crushed cloves of garlic, some chopped ginger, and a sliced onion. Add some chilli if you like (I use Very Lazy Chillies out of a jar).
Chop chicken into small equal pieces (pork goes well with the sauce too) and add to the wok. After a couple of minutes add any vegetables you fancy.
Meanwhile, cook noodles according to pack instructions, and make the sauce: In a bowl, add 1 tablespoon of honey, 2-3 tablespoons of barbecue sauce, 2-3 tablespoons of soy sauce, and half a teaspoon of Chinese 5 spice powder (feel free to add more, I'm not a huge fan of the aniseed taste it has so I don't use that much). The sauce is quite thick so add a splash of water to achieve the consistency you want.
When the chicken is almost cooked through, add the sauce to the wok and let it bubble for a few minutes. Add the noodles to the pan and toss together so the sauce evenly coats everything. Check the chicken is cooked through, and serve!

Sunday, 15 April 2012

Lamb Meatballs with Greek Salad

I am well and truly ready for Summer now. I must admit, the thought of warm evenings with barbecues, summer dresses and maybe even getting some colour on my pale skin are preoccupying me more than work is. Going on holiday last month has also made me even more desperate to escape somewhere lovely after putting me in a travelling mindset.
Probably not gonna happen anytime soon though. However, while I can't be lounging on a beach in the Mediterranean, I can eat like I'm there.
I never used to be much of a fan of meat, tending to eat only chicken. Then I tried lamb, cooked perfectly, and have since embraced my inner carnivore. I don't like to do too much with it when I cook it, as I think it has a lovely flavour naturally.
Here I've made some meatballs out of lamb mince, adding just a bit of onion, garlic, tomato purée and seasoning. I served it with a fresh Greek salad drizzled with olive oil, some spicy chickpeas and pitta bread. A dollop of minted Greek yoghurt completed my mini Mediterranean feast.

The recipes below all serve two people. Everything can be easily multiplied however, and would make excellent side dishes at a barbecue or the like. Experiment with quantities of individual ingredients and seasonings to suit your own tastes. 
For the meatballs:
250g lamb mince
1/2 red onion
1 heaped teaspoon tomato purée
1 clove of garlic, crushed
A sprinkle each of cumin and ground coriander, to taste

Pitta bread and iceberg lettuce, to serve.

-Preheat an oven to 180C. Line a baking tray with kitchen foil.
-Place the mince into a bowl.
-Grate the onion, or use a food processor if available to finely chop the onion. Add to the mince, along with the tomato purée, crushed garlic, spices and salt and pepper to taste. Mix well.
-Roll the mince into meatballs of equal size and place on the tray. (I have made quite small meatballs - if you make larger ones just cook for longer).
-Cook in the oven for about 10 minutes, until just cooked through and still juicy.
-Warm the pitta bread through in the oven for a few minutes.
-Chop and rinse the lettuce.
-Serve with yoghurt, salad and chickpeas.
For the minted yoghurt:
4 generous tablespoons Greek yoghurt
A few sprigs of mint
1 garlic clove

-Place the yoghurt in a bowl.
-Crush the garlic into the yoghurt.
-Shred the leaves of the mint and stir into the yoghurt.


For the Greek Salad: (Adapted from GoodFood 101 Mediterranean Dishes)

1/2 red onion, sliced
4-5 Vine ripened tomatoes, quartered
1/3 cucumber, sliced and then quartered
Olives and Feta cheese (I bought a mixed selection from Tesco deli but use whatever you fancy)
1 teaspoon Oregano
Olive oil

-Prepare the onion, tomatoes and cucumber and place into a serving dish.
-Sprinkle over the oregano.
-Drizzle over a tablespoon or two of olive oil. The olives I purchased already had some dressing on so vary the amount you add depending on this. 
-Stir to combine. 


For the chickpeas: (Adapted from a recipe tweeted by @TheBoyThatBakes)
1 tin of chickpeas
2 tablespoons of olive oil
1/2 tablespoon cumin
1/2 tablespoon ground coriander
1 teaspoon garlic salt
A pinch of pepper
A bit of chilli powder, to taste

-Preheat the oven to 180C. 
-Mix all the ingredients together and spread out onto a baking tray.
-Bake for 30-45 minutes.

These are quite dry by themselves but add a different texture to the meal when mixed with the yoghurt and salad.


Hopefully this should satisfy my holiday cravings for a little while at least... 

Wednesday, 4 April 2012

Easter Nest Cakes

As it's not long at all now until Easter (where the hell is this year going?!) I decided to make some Easter-themed cakes - i.e. smother some sponge with a horrendous amount of chocolate.

The sponge cake for this recipe is the same as for my Victoria Sponge cake, again made in a rectangular baking tray. This means the cakes aren't too rich and over-chocolately, and the chocolate buttercream is flavoured with orange to give it a lighter taste reminiscent of Spring/Summer. This is then covered in chocolate sprinkles and whatever little Easter goodies you like to give the 'nest' effect.


For the sponge:
110g butter/margarine
110g caster sugar
2 large eggs
110g self-raising flour
1 teaspoon baking powder
1 teaspoon vanilla extract

For the buttercream:
100g icing sugar
50g butter/margarine
1 teaspoon orange extract
2 teaspoons good quality cocoa powder (I used Green & Blacks)

To decorate:
Chocolate sprinkles
Chocolate eggs

-Preheat the oven to 180C(160C fan oven)/350F/Gas Mark 4.

-Grease and line a deep rectangular 20cm x 30cm baking tray.

-Cream the butter and caster sugar together with a wooden spoon until light and fluffy.

-Beat in the eggs, one at a time.

-Sift the flour and baking powder into a separate bowl, then gently fold a third of this at a time into the mixture using a metal spoon, until you have a smooth batter.

-Fold in the vanilla extract.
-Pour the mixture into the baking tin, gently smoothing the top with the back of a spoon.

-Bake for about 25-30 minutes until a skewer inserted into the centre comes out clean, and the cake is a light golden brown colour.

-Leave to cool.
-Using an 8 cm round cutter, cut about 6 rounds from the cake (there will be cake left over for nibbling!)

-Make the chocolate buttercream. Cream together the butter and sugar, then add the cocoa powder and orange extract and continue to stir until smooth.

-Cover each cake with buttercream. I'm not the best at this at all so it ended up looking very messy; this actually works for this recipe though, as it gives the 'nest' effect straight away.

-Now time to get decorating! Use a mixture of dark and milk chocolate sprinkles on the top and sides of the cakes, leaving a small space in the centre to place the chocolate eggs.

-Add any other decorations that you fancy.

Sunday, 1 April 2012

Victoria Sponge Cake

OK, so this isn't the traditional looking Victoria Sponge exactly, but if you're in need of some light as air cake, perfectly sweetened buttercream and lots and lots of jam this has everything covered.

A little while back I was in a position where I had no idea what to do with myself, and the only thing that could distract me and make me feel better was an afternoon spent baking. For certain reasons the only thing I wanted to make was a Victoria Sponge. However, I don't have two small cake tins, just one large round tin, and I am terrible at cutting cakes into two equal slices. And I had to make this cake the best I could. So instead I used the cake tin I normally use for brownies, flapjacks and the like. 

Cutting the tray of cake in half I got two pieces of cake that were almost equal in size and thickness, that I smothered in layers of buttercream and raspberry jam, and dusted with icing sugar. I'm not saying this is the prettiest cake in the world, but it looked good to me, especially in comparison to my past cake disasters! 
A slab of this (this was definitely a comfort eating moment so don't judge!) with a cup of tea, and while nothing might have changed I could deal with it all a little bit better. 
The recipe for the sponge is adapted from the Vanilla Cupcakes from Eat Me! - the mix can be split between muffin cases to make 12 cupcakes


For the sponge:
110g butter/margarine
110g caster sugar
2 large eggs
110g self-raising flour
1 teaspoon baking powder
1 teaspoon vanilla extract

For the buttercream:
100g icing sugar
50g butter/margarine
1 teaspoon vanilla extract

Icing sugar, to dust

-Preheat the oven to 180C(160C fan oven)/350F/Gas Mark 4.
-Grease and line a deep rectangular 20cm x 30cm baking tray.
-Cream the butter and caster sugar together with a wooden spoon until light and fluffy.
-Beat in the eggs, one at a time.
-Sift the flour and baking powder into a separate bowl, then gently fold a third of this at a time into the mixture using a metal spoon, until you have a smooth batter.
-Fold in the vanilla extract.
-Pour the mixture into the baking tin, gently smoothing the top with the back of a spoon.
-Bake for about 25-30 minutes until a skewer inserted into the centre comes out clean, and the cake is a light golden brown colour.
-Leave to cool.
-Once cool, remove any greaseproof paper and cut the cake in half, giving you two roughly 10cm x 15cm pieces. 
-Place one half on a serving plate and spread with jam. The amount is entirely up to you, but in my opinion the more generous the better (especially with the raspberry jam I used - it's delicious!)
-To make the buttercream, cream together the butter and icing sugar until smooth, then add the vanilla extract. Taste to make sure it's the right sweetness.
-Turn the remaining cake half upside down and spread with the buttercream. Place on top of the jam covered half.
-Sift icing sugar all over the cake to finish. 

Related Posts Plugin for WordPress, Blogger...