Monday, 30 January 2012

Harold's St Clements Cupcakes

This is a old family recipe created by my Grandad Harold. It's mostly lemony, but the addition of the orange is what makes it 'St Clements'. It makes lovely, light and fresh cupcakes which could have icing or a drizzle topping.

You will need

Zest and juice of half an lemon
Zest and juice of half an orange
5oz self raising flour
2oz caster sugar
2tbsp homemade lemon curd
4oz Flora
2 medium free range eggs

Mix everything together along with the zest and about half the juice.

Beat in the eggs.

Spoon into cupcake cases (makes about 10) and bake for 15-20mins at 160C.

For the citrus icing

Mix 8oz of icing sugar with the remaining juice and pour over. Simple!

Saturday, 28 January 2012

Cheesy Chicken Pockets

I'm pretty sure everything is improved by wrapping in bacon so this cheesy chicken recipe is a sure fire winner!

First take a chicken fillet per person and slice it open from one side. You are aiming to make a nice cosy pocket. Next scoop up about a dessert spoon full of light Philadelphia and press into the pocket.

Next wrap the pocket with a rasher of streaky bacon and season with black pepper and a drizzle of olive oil.

Bake for about 45mins at 180C

The mix of the flavours is just sublime! The light and fluffy Philadelphia blends wonderfully with the chicken and bacon. Yummy!

Thursday, 26 January 2012

Madeleines - A Family Tradition!

Madeleines are one of those things that are talked about with alarming regularity at our family gatherings! Sandie (my auntie) and my mum used to make them with my Grandad when they were children and they both adore them. However they were always a bit of a nightmare to make. The tall dariole tins where always a right pain to get the cakes out of, so when we spotted silicone darioles it was inevitable that this was next on the cake agenda!

You will need -
8 Dariole Moulds (mine are silicone and came from ebay!)
100g butter (softened)
100g caster sugar
2 large free range eggs
100g self raising flour
1tsp baking powder
2-3 drops vanilla extract

Grease the moulds (do it well... you'll thank me later!).

Mix all the ingredients together until the mixture is well blended and smooth.

Spoon into the moulds making sure you don't have big gaps at the bottom of each mould!

Bake for 15-20mins at 180C -  you want them fairly firm (but not overdone) as it's a bit of a challenge to get them out totally intact otherwise.

Allow to cool thoroughly before attempting to turn out. With these silicone moulds it's best for one person to push gently from the bottom while someone else guides it from the top.

Trim the tops level and stand upside down like a sandcastle!

For the decoration -
Jam - I used some homemade redcurrant and strawberry jam
50g Desiccated coconut
4 glace cherries (halved)

Warm the jam in the microwave and roll each cake in it (don't get any on the bottom!)

Roll in the desiccated coconut and then stand the cake upright. Pop half a glace cherry on top!

If you don't have darioles you could easily use the same recipe in cupcake or muffin cases and just add a jam and coconut topping for the same great taste but without the worry!

Tuesday, 24 January 2012

Apple and Carrot Muffins

I seem to have got a bit over-excited the last few weeks when doing the online shop as the fruit bowl is beginning to look a bit like the apple counter at Asda. Therefore an apple recipe to use some up was definitely called for. The addition of grated carrot and some raisins makes them extra special. I'd planned to put a cream cheese topping, but sadly the cream cheese never found it's way onto my shopping list! I munched mine with ice-cream instead!

You will need..
280g Plain flour
1tbsp Baking Powder
1/2tsp Mixed Spice
115g Soft Light Brown Sugar
130g Leftover Eating Apple (cooking would also work fine)
130g Grated Carrot
50g Raisins
2 Medium Free Range Eggs
9floz Semi-skimmed Milk
6tbsp Sunflower Oil

Mix the flour, baking powder, mixed spice and sugar in a bowl.

Finely chop the apple and grate the carrot. Add to flour mixture along with the raisins.

Lightly beat the eggs and add along with the milk and oil to the mixture.

Stir gently and don't over mix!

Spoon into muffin cases.

Bake for 15-20mins at 200C (makes about 12 depending on the size of your Muffin cases.

You could easily have one of these as a low-guilt breakfast muffin especially if you tell yourself that apple + carrot = two of your 5 a day!

Sunday, 22 January 2012

Shrove Tuesday - Summer Fruits Pancakes

Most years I forget all about Shrove Tuesday and end up having a panic-pancake on the Wednesday, but not this year! I'm fully prepared and have even heroically trialled some pancake recipes so you can be too!  First up is the basic recipe plus a delicious but quick and easy fruity topping!

You will need - 
100g plain flour
pinch of salt
1 egg
250ml milk
1tbsp sunflower oil
Oil for frying

Put the flour and the salt into a bowl. Add the egg and milk and whisk to a smooth batter - you are looking for a nice bubbly surface as this shows you have lots of air in the batter.

Add the oil and mix again.

Let the batter stand for at least half an hour to let the gluten expand (my Nanny Joan always said it was best if the sun saw it... not sure what you do in the evening tho!).

Heat a tiny bit of oil in a pan until it's smoking. Add enough mixture to thinly cover the bottom of the pan.

Cook for a few seconds until the top starts to bubble and then turn (there's no tossing in this house as there is always a pair of hungry hounds waiting to intercept any stray pancakes!).

If you are a conventional sort, serve with lemon or orange juice and a sprinkling of sugar or try this....

Summer Fruits Pancakes

You will need -
Frozen Summer Fruits (about 100g per person) Mine came from Morrissons and had a lovely mix of fruit - sadly I don't have any left over from the garden this year -  it was all made into jam months ago!

Defrost the fruit in the microwave. Sprinkle a little sugar over to taste and heat on high for about 30 secs to heat through.

Fold the berries into the pancake and top off with ice-cream (I'm reliably informed I created quenelles using hot dessert spoons to shape the ice-cream!) and a sprinkling of flake!

Friday, 20 January 2012

Spicy Chocolate Potato Cake

I love to use produce that's in season... and at this time of year about the only thing left from the veg plot (apart from sprouts!) is plenty of yummy homegrown potatoes! This year I grew about 6 varieties of spuds from delicious salad varieties like Charlotte to main crop varieties like Kind Edward. It's always a treat to have homegrown spuds for Christmas dinner so I planted plenty to make sure there would be some left. Of course plenty means too many so here's a way of using the odd one up!

You will need - 185g of butter
1/3 cup soft brown sugar
2 free range eggs
1/3 cup golden syrup
3/4 cup self raising flour
1/3 cup plain flour
2 tsp ground ginger
1 tsp ground cinnamon
1/2 cup raw grated potato (I used a King Edward)

Cream the butter and sugar with an electric mix until light and fluffy.

Beat in the eggs and the syrup.

Stir in all the dried ingredients and the grated potato.

Pour into a greased loaf pan and bake for 55mins.

Allow to cool before making up some Ganache Topping and pouring over, topping off with a sprinkling of crumbled flake.

Wednesday, 18 January 2012

Lard + Leftovers = Happy Birds!

As we've seen, using up leftovers in exciting and unusual ways is not only delicious, but incredibly satisfying! But as the leftovers get more and more sparse there is one way to use up the last bits and pieces after you've enjoyed the treats!

As the first few frosts of the year hit the south coast I've been supplementing the chickens with warming treats but the wild birds don't have as many luxuries. I always have feed on hand for the garden birds, but surely everyone deserves a homemade treat now and again!

First grab those leftover bits and pieces... I used some digestive crumbs from the bottom of the biscuit barrel...

 And the last knockings of the Christmas cake...

I added in some of the chicken's mealworms... (these are super-high in protein - hence why they are great for chickens, especially when they are moulting)

Some Niger seed (this is great for seed-eating birds like goldfinches and siskins)...

And any other seed mixes you have to hand...

And peanuts for the tits (I'm especially proud to have a colony of long-tailed tits in the garden at the moment!)

Mix it all together...

And pop it into a suitable container. I'm using the coconut husk from an old shop-bought bird treat)...

As well as a regular pot so I can pop one on the bird table for those birds that prefer not to hang to feed (robins for example).

Next take a cheap pack of lard and melt it in a pan. Pour into your containers and pop in the fridge for a few hours.

Once it's set the lard will revert back to it's usual opaque state and once it's nice and hard it's ready to hang up in the garden!

Now all that remains is to sit back and wait for the grateful garden birds to enjoy the feast... it's also the perfect opportunity to get ready for the RSPB Big Garden Birdwatch on the 28th and 29th January. This annual nationwide count monitors changes in numbers of different bird species in our gardens. A great way to help look after our precious native species. Check out the RSPB site for all the info.

Monday, 16 January 2012

Spice Up Your Life

Nice, easy one today! A quick and delicious way to perk up your plain and ordinary cooking oil in to something delicious, and it only takes a minute!
I chopped a red chilli in half lengthwise, picked a couple of sprigs of fresh rosemary, but you could use thyme if you prefer, and grabbed a small handful of peppercorns.
Next, I tipped about 50ml of oil out of my bottle to make enough room for the herbs, chilli and peppercorns to go in .
Next job is to pop them in, and that's it ...all done! Told you it was easy.
I love to use extra virgin olive oil as its flavour is really enhanced by the additions. The flavoured oil is delicious with pasta, chicken and as a dressing for salad. Would love to hear your ideas of how to use it too.

Saturday, 14 January 2012

English Chocolate Brownies

These quick to make brownies have that classic squishy inside but are more spongy and less dense than the typical US brownie recipe.

It uses a melting method with chocolate and flora rather than just using cocoa so are extra yummy!

You will need -
2oz chocolate (I didn't quite have enough as today is grocery delivery day so replaced about a tbsp of flour with cocoa to bump up the chocolate ratio!)
3oz Flora
4oz golden caster sugar
4oz self raising flour
2 medium free range eggs
Optional - small handful of chopped nuts/choc chips.

Melt the chocolate and flora together over hot water. (I use a pyrex jug in a saucepan of water as there is less chance of the water splashing into the chocolate)

Add to the eggs and sugar and mix well.

Mix in the rest of the ingredients and pour into a 7" tin (I used silicone of course!)

Bake for 25mins at 175C until the top just comes back up when you press it gently. Don't over-do it, there's nothing worse than a dry and chewy brownie!

I sprinkled a bit of icing sugar over for a quick finish but you could add your favourite topping too.

Thursday, 12 January 2012

Chocolate Chip and Ginger Blondie Muffins.

While this is a traditional (non brown) brownie recipe (hence blondes!) we couldn't resist using some fun new foiled muffin cases that had just arrived so these are blonde muffins!

You will need -  (makes 12)
4.5oz softened butter
6oz golden caster sugar
4 small free range eggs (these came from Sandie's young chickens so are quite wee still!) you could use 2 large ones!
9oz plain flour
1tsp baking powder
1.5tsp ground ginger
4oz dark cooking chocolate cut into chips

Cream the butter and the sugar together until pale and creamy. Gradually add in the eggs.

Add the flour, baking powder and ginger and finally the chocolate chips.

Bake for 25mins at 180C.

Once cool they have have a lovely crunchy top and a wonderful gooey inside, just like a brownie should be. Just dust with a little icing sugar and enjoy!

For optimum yumminess I warm these up for a few seconds in the microwave to reactivate the big chunks of chocolate... but it's probably best to take them out of the case if you use foil ones...

Tuesday, 10 January 2012

All Wrapped Up! Joan's Sausage Meat Plait

Continuing the theme of things wrapped in other things is today's warming recipe... Herby Sausage Meat Plait. It uses up the leftover stuffing from yesterday and just a few more bits and pieces! It was the brainchild of my Nanny Joan who just loved this recipe!

For this recipe you'll need some shortcrust pasty. You could buy it ready made, but we followed Uncle Joe's famous pastry recipe (in fact he even made it for us!).

For the pasty, rub 8oz of butter with a pound of self raising flour until it resembles breadcrumbs and then add in about 4tbsp of milk until you have a lovely doughy texture. Roll out the pasty into a nice big rectangle.

Now for the innards!

You will need
1.5lb of sausages (or use sausage meat.... my supermarket doesn't stock it all year round!)
3oz of stuffing mix made up as directed on the pack
A pinch of Paprika
1tsp dried thyme (dried earlier in the year via the microwave method!)
Optional - grated lemon zest.

Slice open your sausages and pop the meat in a bowl - I used some yummy Cumberland sausages that had added cayenne and black pepper. If you want a bit of a childish giggle just squeeze the sausages until the insides pop out. :)

Mix in the made-up stuffing and add the herbs and spices. Arrange in a long oblong in the centre of the pastry leaving a gap at either end. Fold the ends over to hold the mix in.

Cut the pastry either side of the sausage-meat outwards and diagonally into 1" strips. Then fold over, alternating to make a plaited effect. I added a hand cut pastry leaf in homage to my grandad who always did the same.

Brush a beaten egg over (check out how yellow 'proper' eggs are!) and pop in the oven at 200C for approx 45mins.

This is a pretty huge plait, enough to serve 8 or to have loads left over to eat cold the next day! It would make a yummy lunch!