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Wedding cake practice

In July I am making my brothers wedding cake and wanted to learn some new skills to make it pretty. Whilst browsing Instagram I came across a beautifully decorated cake using buttercream flowers – actually a promo for a teach yourself kit that Wilton sells. The first challenge I had was locating somewhere in the UK that actually sold it (massive thanks to the UK Wilton Customer Services team who helped me locate one!) once that was done, last weekend was a practice run.

Slightly over the top colours (some testing with my ColourRight colours) but generally, not a bad first go!

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the pudding stop

  A brief entry today and no recipe…

Last weekend was the local annual food festival – lots of pop up stalls and restaurants in the town de true showcasing their wares to encourage regular visitors I guess.

One that took my particular fancy was The Pudding Stop – a regular feature outside the station on my way me (yes, every evening I have to pit my will power against this little cart so that I don’t turn up at home with a dessert…)

And the item in question was a salted caramel and peanut butter brownie. I love salted caramel and I love brownies, but one thing I don’t normally like is peanut butter (that in itself is an oddity to me as a love butter and I love peanuts). Actually not strictly true, I don’t like peanut butter but I do like peanut butter flavoured things, such as Reece’s pieces or peanut butter cups.. Anyway I digress… 
So I bought said brownie and OMG it was amazing – it lasted me 4 sittings (I diligently cut it into 4 before I started otherwise it would have been gone in one and I would have felt very sick…) 

I am now just summoning up the audacity to ask him for the recipe so I can make it myself…

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Worlds biggest coffee morning

Today offices around the UK forgot about their diets and stuffed themselves with cake all in aid of MacMillan Cancer support and their Worlds Biggest Coffee morning fundraising event.

Any excuse for a bit of baking and this was no exception – I wanted to do something different for my office so moved away from my fairly standard cupcakes and made Salted Caramel Millionaires Slices.

Or in other words, a heart attack in a slice! 

Recipe came courtesy of Simon Rimmer on BBC2s ‘Something for the Weekend’ (old programme I know) 

Ingredients

Shortbread

  • 175g butter
  • 75g caster sugar
  • 1 vanilla pod seeds
  • 225g plain flour

Caramel

  • 200g butter
  • 1 x 397g can condensed milk
  • 4 tbsp golden syrup
  • 1 tsp salt

Topping

  • 350g milk chocolate

Method

  1. Preheat oven to 180/350/Gas 4 and grease and line 20cm square cake tin
  2. Rub butter sugar flour and vanilla together to make rough dough and press into tin. Prick all over with a fork. 
  3. Bake for 5 mins then reduce temp to 150/300/Gas 2 and bake for further 35 mins.
  4. Leave to cool in tin
  5. Place caramel ingredients in saucepan, bring to boil then boil for 10 mins
  6. Spread over biscuit and allow to cool until just hard
  7. Melt chocolate in Bain Marie and pour over caramel
  8. Leave to set in fridge. Once thoroughly cooked, remove from tin and cut into squares 

Went down a treat! 

  

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Another Theo dish

My partner decided that 2015 is going to be the year when he cooks for me at least once a week.

The first attempt was last night – not entirely done alone, but a tasty and great start – Chilli Crab with Parpadelle (although we had linguine)

A little bit of a faff for a week night dinner, but tasty none-the-less.2015/01/img_2071.jpg

Ingredients

  • Olive oil
  • 2 garlic cloves finely sliced
  • 400g ripe plum tomatoes – peeled, de-seeded and finely chopped
  • 1 fennel bulb, finely diced
  • 300g fresh pasta
  • 1 green chilli – de-seeded and finely chopped
  • 300g fresh crabmeat (this is A LOT of crabmeat – I used a 100g pot from Seafood and Eat It)
  • 2 tablespoons chopped flat leaf parsley
  • A squeeze of lemon
  • Freshly ground pepper

Method

  1. Heat some oil in a frying pan, add half the garlic and cook until softened. Add tomatoes and cook on high heat for 5 -7 minutes until sauce has thickened. Take off heat and set aside.
  2. Add the fennel and pasta to a pot of boiling water and cook for 3-4 mins until pasta is al dente.
  3. Meanwhile heat the remaining oil in a frying pan and fry the garlic, chilli and crabmeat and cook for 2 minutes. Stir in the tomato sauce and chopped parsley.
  4. Drain the pasta and fennel and add to tomato sauce. Cook for a further 2 minutes, then serve seasoned with a squeeze of lemon juice and a crack of black pepper.

 

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90th birthday celebrations

In July 2014 my grandmother turned 90 and hosted a garden party to celebrate the occasion… My contribution to the festivities was a birthday cake.

I decided to make shaped cakes (something I’ve not done before) but opted for the slightly easier option of shaped cake tins rather than cutting to shape.

I bought a 9 and a 0 – rather underestimating the size of the tins and ended up with these monsters…

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The first challenge was working out the mixture volume which I did by guess work (way too much the first time) and then deciding on how I’d flavour them.

Rather than a Madeira recipe I opted for a standard sponge recipe (equal quantities of egg, flour, butter and sugar) and made one vanilla and one lemon.

Each tin had 10 eggs and the corresponding ingredients – mixed in 2 batches as my mixer couldn’t manage it all! And then decorated with sugar paste flowers.

It was well received by the birthday girl and all the guests (plus all the residents of her apartment block 2 days later!) 🙂

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A surprising success

I recently made spinach and cheese muffins from the Hummingbird Bakery cookbook for the first time and have been ovewhelmed with love for them by everyone who has tried them! So I have now made them a number of times, adapting the recipe as I go!

A really simple recipe that makes a tasty side to go along with the boring soup lunch that is likely to make my lunch until at least March!

Ingredients and method below (with some slight amendments I have made along the way…)

Ingredients

  • 30g butter
  • ½ small red onion, finely chopped
  • 360 g self raising flour
  • 2 ½ teaspoons baking powder – optional
  • 1 teaspoon cayenne pepper
  • 250g grated cheddar cheese (grated on a fine grater)
  • 220ml whole milk
  • 1 egg
  • 130 g (4 oz.) baby spinach leaves (chopped to assist in mixing in)

Method

  1. Preheat the oven to 170 degrees (325 degrees F) Gas 3.
  2. Melt the butter in a saucepan over medium heat, then fry the onion until cooked. Set aside.
  3. Put the flour, baking powder, cayenne and cheese in a large bowl.
  4. In a separate bowl, mix the milk and egg together, then slowly pour into the flour mixture and beat with a handheld electric mixer until all the ingredients are well mixed.
  5. Stir in the onion and spinach with a wooden spoon until evenly dispersed. (I use the dough hook on my mixer as I find it gives a more even mix of ingredients!)
  6. Spoon (or use your hands – I find it easier!) the mixture into the paper cases until two-thirds full and bake in the preheated oven for 30-35 minutes, or until deep golden and the muffin bounces back when touched. A skewer inserted in the centre should come out clean.
  7. Leave the muffins to cool slightly in the pan before turning out onto a wire rack to cool completely.