Monday, 22 February 2010
I long for May, June, July and August. My birthday! Picnics on the green, trips to the park after school on a Friday. That after-summer-exam feeling of pure relaxing. Exciting opportunities, the end of the school year. Six long weeks of summer holiday stretching ahead of me waiting to be filled in, booked up, travelled through. Ice cream. So, here’s to summer hurrying itself up and arriving soon. Please?
When my sister saw this, she said it looked like a giant fluffy pillow. And that’s just what it taste like – a soft spoonful of vanilla creaminess. What exactly is not to like? The vanilla creaminess is layered with crunchy hits of chocolate, all softened by a decadent chocolate sauce. Mmm. Once again the recipe comes from the classic Rachel Allen – although you could mix it up a bit by flavouring the vanilla more, I was thinking with amaretto, ginger, or citrus….
Thursday, 18 February 2010
I love baking and spending time in the kitchen, but like so many people – I don’t spend as much time there as I would like. I enjoy baking not just for my family, but also to keep the blog up-to-date and interesting. Whilst this would be much easier (and possibly more relaxing) if I could spend all day, every day with my oven: this unsurprisingly isn’t an option. When I know I have the spare time, I like to make more complicated in-depth bakes whilst I have the chance. More often than not, however, bakes need to be relatively quick and easy. And whilst I’m prepared to sacrifice the time I spend in the kitchen I am definitely not prepared to sacrifice the tastiness of the end result. So, quick and easy, but very delicious – pretty much sums these Cheese Straws up! Perfect.
I warn you, these straws are dangerously moreish. Just one is never going to be enough. Plus they’re versatile – just as nice warm from the oven, as cold a few hours later, as reheated later to be served very hot with soup. Each “straw” is crisp and crunchy yet melt in the mouth, and full of delicious cheesy goodness. And to make them? About 10minutes hands on time, max. What could be better?
I used a Delia Smith recipe that is, annoyingly, not online. However this recipe is almost identical: just after you have your cheese dough, brush with an egg or milk and sprinkle over grated parmesan (doing this before cutting into strips makes the job easier). These are perfect for parties because they are so simple – when we had them out at our New Kitchenwarming (Yes. A Kitchen-warming.) they disappeared super quickly! Enjoy :)
Sunday, 14 February 2010
Happy Valentines Day! These are Morrocan Orange and Rosewater cupcakes, with Violet or Pink Icing. I have entered these into English Mum’s Great Cupcake Challenge, so hop on over to English Mum to see lots of gorgeous Valentine cupcakes. Also, the Home Baked Challenge theme this month is Love and these are entered. Have a brilliant day everyone :)
Saturday, 13 February 2010
I won’t bake things with ingredients I don’t like. It may seem silly – but I don’t see the point in wasting my time with bakes that, ultimately, I’m not going to be able to enjoy. Hence why you have never seen pistachios on the blog (or walnuts, hazelnuts or peanuts…). You won’t see mushrooms/lasagne/cheese soufflé. Great changes will happen before prawns or blue cheese make an appearance. I’m not a fussy eater and I like to try new things, of course, but I know what I do and don’t like.
On the other hand, as I have created this little piece of the blogosphere, I have come to realise my three favourite ingredients. When stuck with no inspiration, it is all too often a dish containing one of these favourites that I turn to. After several failures or disappointments, I turn to these ingredients to get my confidence back. I love them, and they will never be absent from my kitchen for long.
Together, bakes containing these three stars make 29 out of my 77 posts so far – quite a hefty proportion. All very different ingredients, but my favourites nonetheless. Whether the star ingredient, or sharing the spotlight, these ingredients always make me hungry. When my sister first started cooking ground almonds went into almost everything. It’s no different with me, and I have more almondy treats still coming up! But today, almond is indeed sharing the spotlight. Glorious pink apples take the stage (ahem, plate) to fill this pretty, juicy cake.
Inspiration can come from the randomest places, in this case a little Waitrose leaflet. This cake takes minutes to knock up but is absolutely scrumptious when cooked so it is perfect for those short-notice guests. The shortbread-style base is full of crisp and crunch, whilst the apples slowly soften down and release their delicate pink flavour. Then the flaky almond sweet crumble just tops it all off…I’m now craving some more and it’s all gone.
Apple Crumble Cake, from Waitrose NEW
Ingredients: 200g plain flour
80g caster sugar
3 chopped apples
1tbsp demerara sugar
75g flaked almonds.
- Preheat oven to 200’C, gas mark 6. Place flour, butter and sugar in a processor and blitz until it resembles breadcrumbs.
- Remove 1/3 of the mixture, continue blitzing the remainder until the mixture forms a dough. Press into a 20cm loose-bottom cake tin. Top with the three chopped apples.
- To the crumble, add the demerara sugar and almonds. Sprinkle this over the apples and bake for 40-45 minutes. Enjoy the crumbly goodness :)
Sunday, 7 February 2010
Delia Smith is the celebrity chef who, it wouldn’t be unfair to say, has changed the way the British cook. Spanning four decades now, Delia has “informed, entertained and educated” with her shows, books and articles. She’s targeted every aspect of cooking: having Summer and Winter recipe collections, creating her back-to-basics How to Cook series teaching everyone everything and her controversial How to Cheat series using pre-peeled garlic and frozen mash. When she used cranberries in an episode of her show, they sold out across the UK. Gelatin in many supermarkets here are sold in the quantity you need for a Delia chocolate cake. See the power of this woman? This is why I wonder, if I had been called Delia, what would life be like?
Imagine trying to become a footballer when your name was John Beckham. It would be impossible for me to “make it big” in the food world if my parents had eventually plumped for Delia. Anytime the name’s mentioned, Delia Smith would enter peoples minds. I’m happy I’m Lucy, and I’m especially happy that Delia makes such gorgeous food. This is her chocolate log recipe, and this post is my Ode to Delia.
I’ve been meaning to make a chocolate roll for a while but the truth is that it scared me. I had visions of a gorgeous log becoming a regular sponge cake as it totally snapped in two. But, with Delia, I knew I was in safe hands. And I was right! Cracking doesn’t actually really matter in chocolate rolls – cake wasn’t meant to roll after all and the cracks (I think) just makes it look even more delicious. Delia’s recipe is a fat-free chocolate cake, layered with chocolate mousse and whipped cream. Not an everyday pud – but gorgeous! Perfect for a treat, all rich and dark and, yes, squidgy. Don’t delay making it, and discovering the true joys of Delia!
Monday, 1 February 2010
Oh yes, I told you that the yeast would be back. Plus, with its sell-by date on January 31st, I had no excuse. I know supermarkets set sell-by dates way in advance of the real thing – but with an ingredient that I am still slightly wary of, I wanted to be sure!
A while ago, I did a biscuit challenge. I tried to re-create some of the shop-bought goodies we know and love, because making them at home means you know exactly what’s in there and you lose nasty additives and flavourings. After all, I don’t know any baker who keeps a nice jar of E-numbers in their kitchen! Now, I am trying to do more savoury things. Savoury inspiration doesn’t come naturally, especially savoury photography (sorry!). So I just thought to what I enjoy eating, at restaurants or at home. Pizza!
Pizza, for me, is something I don’t really think about making totally from scratch. Yet shop-bought versions are expensive and really not the best you can get. Before this creation, the most I’ve done is make tomato sauce and decorate a naan bread (delicious and quick, by the way!). I hadn’t yet tried a proper yeasty pizza dough. There are other savoury dishes like this (always shop-bought) and I’m looking forward to attempting some new savoury ideas…as and when yummy inspiration hits! For now, I’m happy munching on this!
This pizza dough was (happily) easy and delicious. It smelt strongly of olive oil – I was temporarily transported to Italy, the home of true good pizzas! My focus was on the dough, but I made a simple tomato sauce to top and then went crazy with toppings. When I go to pizza restaurants, I’m generally fussy and stick with the classic Margherita. At home I could have what I wanted and so on went the pineapple, bacon, mozzarella, tomatoes and mushrooms (for my sister, I cannot stand mushrooms.).
The recipe came from the gorgeous Supper for a Song book by Tamasin Day-Lewis. My Mum got it for Christmas and when she read it she said “I could cook my way right through this book”. SO true! I have just included the dough recipe as it has some helpful tips. Then just add sauce and toppings!
(Makes two large pizzas)
Ingredients (Pizza dough) : 500g strong white bread flour
7g sachet fast-action dry yeast
2tsp sea salt
1tbsp olive oil
about 350ml nearly hot water
1. Tip the flour onto a work surface, and add yeast and salt. Make a well in the middle and pour in the olive oil followed by about two-thirds of the warm water.
2. Begin to knead by tipping the inside wall of flour into the middle and gathering flour as you go. When it gets difficult to knead, add more warm water. Continue until you have a dough.
3. Turn the dough onto a lightly floured surface and knead for about 10 minutes, stretching it away from you with the heel of you hand every so often, then furling it back towards you with your fingers.
4. Divide in two, shape into balls and place on an oiled baking sheet. Cover with a plastic bag and leave to rise in a warm place until they have doubled in size, about 1.5hours.
5. Preheat the oven to its highest setting, at least 230’C. Scatter semolina flour over 2 baking trays. Working with one ball at a time, knock down the dough, stretch it and then roll it out until about 5mm thick. Don’t worry, it will shrink and spring back to begin with but eventually it will obey your command. Keep the rim a little thicker. Repeat with other dough ball.
6. Spread over tomato sauce and add toppings. Bake for 15minutes before checking. Enjoy!