Monday, 31 October 2011

Happy Halloween!

A couple of cute little trick or treaters have put me in the mood for halloween festivies and this is one of my favourite halloween videos by the Bobby McGees.
Sit back, relax... watch out for that zombie!!! Enjoy this video and have a happy halloween!

Sunday, 30 October 2011

52 Recipe Challenge - Week 17.

This week has been quite chilly and something about the autumn leaves has made me crave flapjacks so that's what I decided to make this week.

It took me a bit of searching but eventually I found a flapjack recipe in my Coffee & Cakes recipe book by Linda Collister.

To Make this recipe you will need:

85g butter
85g brown sugar
1 tablespoon of golden syrup
1/2 teaspoon of ground ginger
150g oats

To start off I preheated the oven to 200c and lined a baking tray. (I didn't realise that the recipe said to pre-heat the oven to 180c/ gas mark 4!)

Then I measured out the ingredients.
Next I put the butter in the pan and melted it.

After that I added the golden syrup.
Then I put the sugar and ground ginger in and mixed them all together.
When all the ingredients appeared melted together I mixed in the oats.

Once combined I poured it into the lined tin and smoothed it to the edges out using a fork, then put it in the oven and set my timer for fifteen minutes.

After the mixture had been in the oven for five minutes I double checked the recipe and realised that I should've been cooking it at 180c not 200c... so I turned the oven down and hoped for the best.

When the timer buzzed I took the flapjack out of the oven.
Then I cut it into pieces and left it to cool for ten minutes.

Whilst these flapjacks taste ok and look alright they were too thin and a bit crunchier than they should be. When I try to make them again I'll have to use a smaller pan and double check the heating instructions. These should satisfy my flapjack cravings for a bit but they fail miserably when placed against the barometer of my Mum's flapjacks...

Monday, 24 October 2011

Failures and victories.

This week once again I failed in my challenge of trying a new recipe; however, I did finally get my hands on a copy of Now Then magazine where I they have published a recipe of mine!

My recipe is the one on the right!

It's no secret that I have a slight obsession with curry and I this is a recipe I've been obsessing about for a few years and in August I finally tracked down some Paneer! So to mark this I decided to make Mattar Paneer. After I experimented with the recipe a few times I adapted the it and came up with my own version for Now Then.

If you haven't got your hands on a copy of Now Then this is the recipe.

Mattar Paneer

125g paneer
1 onion chopped
1 tablespoon of cumin seeds
2 tablespoons of ghee/ vegetable oil if you don’t have any ghee.
1 knob of ginger chopped
1 teaspoon coriander
1 teaspoon tumeric
1 ½  teaspoons of chilli powder
1 mug of frozen peas
1 tin of chopped tomatoes
1 red pepper sliced
1 tablespoon of chopped jalepeno peppers

Put the ghee in the pan and heat whilst you chop the paneer into bitesized chunks.

 Add the paneer to the ghee and fry it, until it is browned and then remove it from the pan and put it to one side for later.

 Add the cumin seeds, onion and ginger to the pan and cook until the onion has softened, then stir the red pepper and jalepenos peppers into the mix.

 After four or five minutes pour in the tin of chopped tomatoes into the pan and season with the coriander, chilli powder and turmeric.  

Simmer the mix for another five – ten minutes and then add the frozen peas and paneer for another ten minutes or until the peas have softened and cooked. 

Serve with vegetable pakoras, onion bajis, a naan bread and a big grin.

Serves 4.

This is how it looks when I cook it... I'm not the best photographer and the picture they put with the article looks far more appetising! It's very tasty though!

Recently I have been busy reading Enter Wildthyme by Paul Magrs, who also writes the Brenda and Effie books me & the boyfriend enjoy. I have also been celebrating my friend Heather's birthday by going to a spa and then going for food and drinks at one of our favourite bars, where we met some of the Sheffield Steel Roller Girls!  

I also discovered mini cheese burgers which are apparently the next big food thing... now they made me feel like a giant in a good way but I'm not sure they can replace curry. Will have to try to make some though! Eating burgers also reminded me of the blog Burgers and Nails, an idea I don't think I could have ever come up with but now I know I'm reminded of it every time I pick up a burger!

Despite not managing to do a blog recipe this week it hasn't ended up a complete failure as it's still had it's victories and inspirations.

Thursday, 20 October 2011

Nice things.

I just thought I'd share a few things which I like at the moment.

My Chilli Plant!

Getting more of the house decorated!
This is what the bottom of our stairs looked like the other day, now it looks a bit more like this...

I have also been trying the meringue recipe again and fourth time lucky!
For this attempt I reduced the recipe by a quarter and just used the 1 egg I had left, 50g sugar and a teaspoon of cocoa powder.  Turns out I had overbeated attempts 2 and 3, something I found out after a bit of internet research.... it seems meringues can be quite tempremental and not as easy as my recipe made out.  Think I will have to be wary of the recipes I try from that book in the future.

I also enjoyed watching: The Hunt for Tony Blair last week which was great, especially if you like political comedies and film noir spoofs. I'm also enjoying watching The Fades on BBC 3 which is worthy of a place on BBC 2 or 1 in my book a creepy but enthraulling TV show.

I also have some other news but I'll share that with you in my next post....

Monday, 17 October 2011

52 Recipe Challenge – Week 15.

This week I decided that after a few weeks of trying savoury recipes that I should turn my hand to baking again as I’ve been inspired by this year’s series of the Great British Bake off. So I decided to try to treat my sweet tooth and make the Chocolate Meringues Recipe from: Wille’s Chocolate Factory Cookbook.

To make this recipe you need:

4 egg whites
200g caster sugar
50g cocoa powder

To start with I lined the baking tray with non-stick baking paper, as I didn’t need to pre-heat the oven as there was already a pizza in it.  After I did that I got the eggs out of the fridge and promptly dropped one, as it didn’t seem too smashed so I thought it would be ok to use... I tried to crack open the eggs and separate the egg yolks from the whites of the eggs like I had seen them do on the telly and then put the egg whites in my food processor and the egg yolks in a separate bowl.

I tried to avoid getting any yolk in with the egg whites but unfortunately it looked like there were a few drops of yellow in the mix but I tried to whisk up the eggs anyway.

After whisking the eggs for a minute I added the sugar and cocoa powder and tried to whisk the mixture further but it wasn't becoming shiny and firm like it said it would in my book. 

After trying this for a while and being told off about the noise from the food processor affecting my boyfriends telly watching I realised that no amount of whisking would make this mixture become stiff and shiny.  I didn’t want to discard the mix though so I piled some of it on to the baking sheet and put it in the oven which I turned down to 140c and set my timer for an hour.

The results were disasterous! The smell chocolatey but they look wafer thin and the same sort of size as a generous coaster and while edible they were slightly burnt. 

Not my best baking but making this recipe has provided plenty of lessons for the future.

Tuesday, 11 October 2011

Recent baking.

When I’m not trying new recipes for my blogs I can often be found baking some of my old favourite recipes.
Recently I made a batch of lemon and ginger cupcakes from this cupcake book.

I had to make two batches as the first lot weren’t up to my high standards, then I decorated the second batch at my sisters house to take to the cake club: Cake Eaters Anonymous in Nottingham and this is what they looked like.

As I had made too much icing and buns to spare at home I iced these ones for me and my boyfriend, with slightly less finesse.

The next weekend I made my boyfriend his favourite home made treat from this cookbook.

I prepped the chocolate in advance and whilst he was sleeping off a hangover I whipped these up as our Sunday breakfast in bed.

I’m currently debating what to bake next, any suggestions?

Monday, 10 October 2011

52 Recipe Challenge – Week 14.

This week I decided to make another savoury recipe as my new recipe for the week.
Whilst looking for a recipe to make last week I saw this recipe for Baked Aubergines in my Marks and Spencer Cooks Bible and decided to try it out as it sounded similar to another favourite dish of mine  Mousakka.

To make this recipe I used:

2 Aubergines
4 Tablespoons of Olive Oil
4 Slices of Prosciutto Ham
375g Mozzarella
2 Small Onions/ 1 Large Onion
4 Cloves of garlic crushed
1 Tin of chopped tomatoes
A handful of Cherry Tomatoes
450ml/ 1 Pint of hot vegetable stock
1 Tablespoon sugar
1 Tablespoon Lime Juice
150ml/ 5 Fluid Ounces Red Wine
25g Butter
25g Plain flour
300ml/ 10 Fluid Ounces Milk
A sprinkle of Nutmeg
To Start with I preheated the oven to 190c/ Gas Mark 5, put the olive oil in the pan and then sliced up the onion.
Next I heated the oil and added the onion and garlic , whilst they were frying away I started to cut up my aubergines. (One small one and one large one which reminded me of something...)
The recipe said to chop them lengthways which seemed a bit weird but that’s probably because I’m used to chopping them the otherway.  Halfway through chopping the aubergines I checked on the onion and garlic and realised they had started to soften so I added the tin of chopped tomatoes, put the water on the boil for the stock and chopped up the cherry tomatoes I had in my fridge.  After I had chopped up the cherry tomatoes and the water had boiled I added the cherry tomatoes and then put a vegetable stock cube in my measuring jug, added the boiling water gave it a decent stir and added it to the mix. After that I hunted a sprinkle of parsley, the sugar, the lime juice and wine then gave it all a good stir and there looked like there was tonnes.... it looked soup like!

So I brought it to the boil to try to reduce it. Once that was simmering away I set the alarm for 15 minutes, put the kettle on again and finished chopping up my aubergines.  Now my recipe says to cook the aubergines in a large pan for 5 minutes but my biggest pan is my wok and the next biggest pan isn’t all that big so I had to cook the aubergine in batches. I put the boiled water from the kettle in the pan and started trying to cook the aubergines.

Then I realised the recipe said “bring a large saucepan of water to the boil” which my boyfriend helpfully pointed out is not the same thing as boiling water in a kettle... After a good six or seven minutes I took the first batch of aubergines from the pan and realised that I had run out of kitchen roll to drain it on, so I popped them in my sieve over the sink and dashed across the road for the kitchen roll. After I returned I put the aubergines on a plate with some kitchen roll to drain and started on cooking the second batch.
Whilst the second batch of aubergines were cooking I oiled the roasting dish I was using and started chopping up the mozzarella , before I checked on the tomato sauce and decided it had reduced enough and spooned half of it into the dish as instructed in the recipe. Next I took the second batch of aubergines from the pan and drained them, got a separate chopping board out for the prosciutto ham, then I finished chopping up the mozzarella and then I patted the aubergined dry with the kitchen roll. After patting the aubergines dry I used half of them to form a layer over the tomato sauce.

Then I put just over half the mozzarella over the aubergines and tried to cut up the prosciutto ham and put that on top; however, it worked better just to rip it into pieces than cut it.
When I had done that layer I put the last batch of aubergines in the pan to cook and hunted for the ingredients for the béchamel sauce which was going on top.  When the aubergines were done I put them on a plate to drain like the other two lots and washed the pan they had been cooked in to make the béchamel sauce. Whilst the aubergines were draining and the pan was drying I poured the last of the sauce into the roasting dish and it had reduced more than I had expected.  The recipe I had followed said to use a tin of chopped tomatoes and 450g/ 1 Lb of fresh tomatoes but I only had a handful of cherry tomatoes so when I make this again I’ll either have to buy more tomatoes or out two tins in.
After I had poured this I put the last of the aubergines on top and tasked my boyfriend with chopping the last of the mozzarella whilst I cracked on with the béchamel sauce. To make the sauce I melted the butter in the pan then added the flour and stirred until they were mixed before stirred in the milk and stirred it over the hob until it stopped being lumpy. Once that happened I stirred in a tiny sprinkle of nutmeg after last week’s disaster... then I spooned it on to the aubergine and tomato mix but I didn’t make enough so I got some more butter, flour and milk and made some more sauce and covered the rest of the mix up before grating Cheshire cheese on top and bunging it in the oven for 35 minutes.
Once it was cooked I dished about a third of it up as it made tonnes!

It looked quite sloppy to me but my boyfriend thought it looked ok.  (Then again it was late he was probably famished at this point!)
This dish actually tasted as good as it looks in the book! I was impressed with this one despite not having, marjoram to sprinkle, parma ham, mustard powder for the béchamel sauce or the right type of wine it was very tasty, even if it did make a mess of my cookbook...

The best part of this recipe is it makes loads! Now, should I have the rest for tea tonight or tomorrow?

Thursday, 6 October 2011

Recently I have mainly been: decorating.

Recently I have been going to work, baking and eating the odd cake but mainly in my free time I have been decorating the new house. Specifically the dining room.

It took us a while but after many tester pot applications we decided on a colour and thenwe had to put a white base coat layer down.

This was one of the test squares.

Now finally it's all been painted green!
It's still not quite finished.

It is very nearly there though! Now time to Kitty wrangle...
Then head to work, hope you all have a good Thursday too!

Monday, 3 October 2011

52 Recipe Challenge – Week 13.

Last week I ended up making my recipe at the end of the week but I’m posting it this week so I’m not really cheating... honest!  Last week I finally managed to escape the allure of the nearby takeaways but I mainly  stuck to my tried and tested recipes such as nachos, lemon & ginger cake cupcakes, home made pizza, chocolate chip cookies and meat & potato pie. It’s partly because I had some pastry left over from the meat and potatoes pie that I decided to make the tasty looking mushroom and spinach pastries from my Marks and Spencers Cooks’s Bible.

The recipe in the book says you need:

2 Tablespoons of butter
1 Red Onion Halved and sliced
2 Garlic Cloves, crushed
225g Mushrooms, sliced
175g Baby Spinach
Pinch of nutmeg
4 Tablespoons of double cream
225g Prepared Puff Pastry
Plain flour for dusting
1 Egg, beaten
2 Teaspoons of poppy seeds
Salt and Pepper

I actually used:
Left over puff pastry.
1 Tin of creamed garlic Mushrooms
Three frozen lumps of spinach
1 heaped tablespoon of Nutmeg
1 egg, beaten

To start with I got the pastry out of the fridge to soften, turned the oven on to 200c/ gas mark 4 to preheat and then I got the tin of mushrooms out of the cupboard. I opened the tin of mushroom and heated it in the pan for a few minutes.

After doing this I got the spinach from the freezer and added three lumps, then stirred until they defrosted and mixed with the mushrooms. Next I tried to sprinkle a little ground nutmeg into the mix but instead opened the large hole on the spice container and loads of nutmeg came out... I stirred this in hoping that the garlic would disguise the taste of the nutmeg. I turned down the mushroom and spinach mixture and roller out the pastry on a floured kitchen side and then cut it in half, after doing that I turned off the pan on the hob and brought the mixture to the pastry. 

I spooned the mushroom mix on to the pastry and covered the mix before pierceing the pastry to let steam out but then the pastry started to rip. To counteract this I tried to patch it up with pieces of excess pastry , after doing that I moved the pastry parcels on to my slightly dampened baking tray. (It said to dampen the baking tray in the recipe...)
Then I got an egg out of my fridge, beat it and then brushed it over the pastry before sprinkling poppy seeds over the parcels and putting them in the oven for 20 minutes.  Once the pastry parcels appeared done I got them out of the oven and realised that one of them had given up the ghost and ripped open.

Despite the appearance I ate the split one whilst watching Dr Who on Iplayer and packed the other one away for my lunch at work the next day.

While not the most aesthetically pleasing of foods they were alright, I over did it on the nutmeg so they mainly tasted of nutmeg with a hint of garlic; however, the pastry worked well with the poppy seeds.  I’m planning on trying to make these again with the correct fresh ingredients and reposting as these have the potential to be great