Wednesday, 19 December 2012

birthday cake

So I recently had my birthday which isn't something I normally make much of a fuss about but it is a great reason to indulge in awesome food and drink. This year it was fairly low key but did involve celebrating with loved ones by drinking wine over-looking London, enjoying San Sebastian style pinchos in Soho and an awesome brunch of Turkish eggs at Kopapa in Seven Dials, Covent Garden. We also managed to fit in some tasty snacks down on the SouthBank at the yummy food market there and tea and tarts at the cafe at the Liberty department store. It was a proper foodies birthday. I felt spoilt and utterly indulged. To top the weekend off we decided to make my birthday cake rather than buying one. Nothing beats a special cake, homemade with love. The recipe is based on the same yummy chocolate fudge cake recipe I have used for some of my cupcakes (I doubled the quantities) but it was made even more special by filling the centre with rum cream and covered in a salted caramel buttercream frosting and some crumbled malteasers (whoppers). This cake was just grown up enough and truly rocked. Sorry about the blurry pictures, I blame the cocktails!

Saturday, 15 December 2012

chocolate malt cookies

It's been a long time since I made cookies, mostly because I don't have any will power and would eat the whole batch within a day. But it's my birthday coming up and I figure I'm allowed a treat every now and again. These cookies absolutely rock and I will definitely be making them again soon. The chocolate flavour here is not overwhelming and the little nuggets of malteasers/whoppers bring a great extra layer of loveliness. I know you will love this recipe if you give it a go.

Ingredients (based on a recipe from hummingbird on high.)
1 cup plain flour
1/2 teaspoon baking powder
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/2 cup Ovaltine or other malted milk powder with some cocoa
115g unsalted butter, softened
1/2 cup light brown sugar
1/4 cup granulated sugar
1 large egg, at room temperature
1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
1 ½ cup malteasers/whoppers, very roughly chopped (I used a 135g sharing pouch of malteasers)

  1. Preheat the oven to 190C and line a couple of baking sheets with parchment paper. 
  2. Cream together the butter and sugars for a few minutes, until the colour has lightened and like a milky coffee. (about 3 minutes with an electric whisk should do it).
  3. Add the egg and vanilla extract and beat for 30 seconds or so more so that everything is combined. 
  4. Now add the flour, ovaltine, salt and baking powder. Beat everything together well for a few seconds. There's no need to beat it for very long.
  5. Stir through your roughly chopped malteasers or whoppers with a spoon or spatula. then dollop tablespoons of the mixture on to the baking sheets. Make sure you leave plenty of space between each cookie as these spread out a lot. 
  6. Bake for 8 minutes if you want them soft and gooey and more brownie like or for 10 minutes if you want them to have more crunch. I tried both ways and they're equally awesome.
  7. Remove from the oven and allow the cookies to cool on the tray before moving them. They will be very soft and hot so give them at least 15 minutes or half an hour before you try to move them.

Sunday, 9 December 2012

butter bean & potato mash

This is a great side dish and with the addition of the pureed butter beans you get a slightly more healthy version of regular mashed potatoes. I most recently made this to go with my blue cheese meatloaf.

400g can of butter beans, drained
approx 800g potatoes, peeled and chopped into chunks
salt and pepper to taste
1 clove of garlic (optional)
50g butter
splash of milk

  1. Put your potatoes on to boil until soft and while they are cooking puree together the butter beans and clove of garlic in a food processor until smooth. Add a splash of water to help the process along if needed.
  2. Once the potatoes are soft, drain then mash as usual using the butter and milk and give them a bit of a beating with a wooden spoon to help remove any lumps. 
  3. Put the mashed potatoes over a gentle heat then stir in the pureed butter beans and garlic stirring to combine. Serve once the mixture is heated through. 

slow cooker red cabbage

I made this to go with my blue cheese meatloaf but it goes well with many other dishes too. Red cabbage and apple is also a staple on my family's Christmas table too. I made this in a slow cooker but it could just as easily be made on the hob or in the oven, remember to keep it covered, cook on a low heat for a long time and check back every so often to make sure things are going ok.

1 small red cabbage, cored and finely sliced
2 eating apples, cored and cut into bite sized chunks
1 onion finely sliced
300ml stock (I used beef stock but use veg or chicken if you prefer)
salt and pepper to taste
1 tbsp honey
1 star anise
1 tbsp butter

Add everything to your slow cooker or saucepan then cover and cook for around 2-4 hours. I cooked mine on high in the slow cooker for 4 hours. I added the butter and honey to the hot stock, stirred then poured over the cabbage, apple and onion in the slow cooker.

blue cheese meatloaf

This is a great comfort food recipe, easy to put together and perfect for a family weekend dinner. The resulting meatloaf has a subtle blue cheese flavour and is perfectly moist. The polenta helps to firm up the texture of the loaf so that excess moisture is soaked up and makes for easier slicing. If you don't have any you can always experiment with oatmeal or breadbrumbs. If you have any left overs you could always make yourself a meatloaf sandwich using the kaiser rolls.

700g lean mince (I used 50/50 pork and beef)
1 medium onion, finely diced
2 sticks of celery, finely diced
100g blue cheese
1 tsp fennel seeds, lightly ground if you like
1 tsp dried rosemary
freshly ground black pepper
1 egg
70g cornmeal/polenta
  1. Preheat oven to 150C (fan oven). 
  2. In a large bowl mix all the ingredients together until thoroughly combined but take care not to over mix otherwise you'll end up with a tough meatloaf. Place the mixture in a 1lb loaf tin, cover loosely with foil then bake in the oven for around 1 hour 30 minutes. About 30 minutes before the end of the time, remove the foil lid, carefully drain off the excess fat and return to the oven to colour up.
  3. Once the meat loaf is cooked remove from the oven, turn out on to a serving plate and slice up ready to serve. I served mine without any additional sauce or gravy but with butter bean and potato mash and slow cooker red cabbage as sides. Feel free to add a sauce if you like though. 

kaiser rolls

These are quite possibly my favourite bread rolls ever, I have always loved the knotted shape since I first saw them in Germany. They are the sort of bread roll that I always wish I could find more easily in the shops here but they seem to be everywhere in mainland Europe. They have a good crust and don't just fall apart, a bit of a bite but still very light. They're perfect with anything and make especially good burger buns too. This is not a truly authentic recipe but it works well.

Ingredients (for 8-12 rolls depending on size)
3 cups of strong white bread flour
1 cup of wholemeal bread flour
1 1/2 tsp dried yeast
1 tsp salt
1 tbsp sugar
1 tbsp butter, softened
1 cup warm water (approx)
1 beaten egg
egg wash and seeds for decoration if wanted. 
  1. Place all the dry ingredients and the butter into a large bowl, make a well in the centre pour in the egg and the water and mix together with your hands until a rough dough is formed. You may need to add extra water to bring it all together, do this a tablespoon at a time to avoid making the dough too sticky.
  2. Turn dough out on to the work surface and knead for around 10 minutes or until you have a smooth and silky dough. Place in a greased bowl, cover with cling film and a tea towel then leave in a warm place to double in size. This will take around 1 to 2 hours. 
  3. Once the dough has risen, knock it back then break off small nuggets that are about golf ball sized and roll between your hands until you have a long rope. Make a loose single knot in the rope then tuck the ends into the central hole so that they are concealed. Place each knotted roll on to a floured baking sheet. When you have formed all the rolls, cover the baking sheet and leave to rise again for around 30 minutes to an hour. 
  4. Preheat the oven to 230C. Place a roasting pan with water in the bottom of the oven to create steam while the rolls cook. 
  5. If you want to, brush the rolls with egg wash and sprinkle with seeds. Poppy or sesame seeds are particularly good. 
  6. Bake in the oven for around 20-25 minutes.

Sunday, 2 December 2012

easy rye bread with caraway seed

Rye bread with caraway seeds is a flavor straight from my childhood and could not be any more Polish. Make this bread into any shape you like. Typically it would be bloomer shaped or round, however I couldn’t resist go for a pretty plaited shape. Try this bread with sliced cheeses, ham, Polish sausage, herring or any fish. It also makes wonderful open sandwiches. 

Ingredients Makes 1 huge loaf or two large loaves.
1 cups milk
1 ½ cups water
2 tbsp butter
3 Tbsp sugar
1 ½ tsp salt
3 tsp active yeast
2 cups rye flour
2 cups wholemeal bread flour
2 ½ cups strong white bread flour
2 tbsp caraway seeds (optional)
1 beaten egg white for egg wash
  1. Put the butter, milk and water in a saucepan and heat over a gentle flame until the butter has melted. Remove from the heat and set to one side until it is cool enough for you to bare putting a finger in it for a few seconds.
  2. Put all the remaining ingredients (yeast, flour, sugar, salt, caraways seeds) into a large bowl. Make a well in the centre then pour in the milk, water and butter mixture. Using your hands bring the mixture into a rough dough then turn out on to the work surface. Knead for 10 minutes until you have a smooth ball of dough. Place in a large bowl, cover with cling film and a tea towel then leave in a warm place to rise for around 2 hours or until doubled in size.
  3. Once the dough has risen, knock it back again and knead it briefly. Form into your chosen shape or place into your prepared tin. I made mine into a large 3 strand plait.  Cover again and leave to rise for around another hour or until roughly double in size.
  4. Preheat the oven 230C. Brush the bread with beaten egg white, sprinkle with additional caraway seeds if you wish then bake for 15 minutes. Reduce the temperature to 170C and cook for a further 35-40 minutes or until the bread has a golden brown crust.
  5. Remove from the oven and place on a wire rack to cool. Once cooled either store in an airtight container or freeze for later use.
  6. This bread is particularly good buttered and served with soup. We had ours to accompany some tomato and rice soup. I'll post my recipe soon.

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