Friday, 18 May 2012

52 Recipe Challenge - Week 46

This week I decided to make a tart based on a blog post I saw on Kitchen Bitching, the recipe which inspired me was this one: Onion and toasted sunflower seed tart by Panda Bear.

I say inspired because I didn't exactly follow it to the letter I didn't have all the ingredients and wanted to use a few things up in my fridge so I added them to it but the idea came from the above blog post.

To make this tart you need:

1 batch of puff pastry (I cheated and used ready roll)
1 Onion
1 Shallot
4 Eggs
1 lot of Boursin (I used this garlicy goats cheesy stuff because it was reduced at the co-op,  goats cheese would probably do as good a job.)
Half a block of Wensleydale cheese (or whatever you have in your fridge!)
300ml Greek Yogurt (as a substitute for double cream)
1 Pepper
A sprinkle of Salt and Pepper.

To start with I got my ready rolled pastry out of the fridge and rolled it over my pie dish, I squashed it into the dish and cut of the excess.  Then because my pie dish is round and the ready roll pastry was rectangular I got some of the excess and stuck it in the places where it was missing at the edges and neatened it up again by cutting off the remaining left over pastry.
 I put this in the fridge, pre-heated the oven to 200c and got out my vegetables.  I chopped up my onion first before cutting up the shallot.

I then got the wok out put some butter in it and melted that then added the onion to start cooking it after a few minutes I also added the chopped up shallot.

Whilst the onion and shallot were cooking I sliced my pepper and then popped this in the wok as well.

Next I decided to grate my Wensleydale cheese, then I covered it with some clingfilm and put it in the fridge.

I then realised I didn't have any cream and consulted Google about whether yogurt could be used instead of cream in cooking.  I wasn't entirely sure if it could or not but got some out and put it in a bowl and then realised the onion, shallot and pepper was done and took them off the heat to cool.

I double checked the recipe and realised that I had mixed up step 5 but decided that it would be ok and beat the eggs into the yogurt before mixing in half the cheese.

Next I got the pie dish out of the fridge and put some of the onion, shallot and pepper mix on the base.

Before mixing the salt and pepper, as well as the rest of the cheese into the egg, cheese and yogurt filling and pouring it on top of the vegetables that were already there. Then I got the boursin and crumbled that on top of the tart and put it into the oven for half an hour.

After half an hour the filling was done and the tart looked done but the bottom was a little soggy and my boyfriend wasn't convinced so he put it back in the oven for another ten minutes to make sure it was all cooked.

This ended up frazzling the edges but it still tasted good if you avoided the crusts! This make a great tea for two, lunch for me and a snack... I think it's a recipe I'll make again but on a weekend as it took me forever and made a few pots...

Wednesday, 16 May 2012

Yet more things I've been doing when I haven't been blogging...

Over the few weeks I've found it difficult to find the time to try new recipes and at the start of the month I struggled to find the time to even cook home cooked meals!

In one week I was out with work for lunch and then I ate out for my Mum's birthday celebration tea, a few days later I was eating out again when meeting my boyfriend up for an election day lunch then the day after we had a takeaway once the count was done...  I even ate out for my tea that Sunday as well!

This year I took a few days off around the election and helped with the count which was enlightening and should soon be enriching my bank balance! I got to the English Sport Institute at 8am helped set out a few ballot boxes before going to my ward table after nine where I received my training, basically count things into piles of 25 on the desk in front of the party activists/candidates. This process took about four hours for the count of the local election and the mayoral referendum.

Despite it not taking too long I stuck around with my boyfriend a little after to help him pack everything away and left around three-ish.  By this point I felt shattered and not up for cooking so we ordered a take away.

The next day I woke up feeling a bit brighter eyed and bushy tailed so I met my friend up to sample cake's at Appetite Sheffield's Cake Break at Tamper Coffee.

Word had obviously gotten around and the little coffee bar was rammed! Eventually we managed to get seats and cakes, the biggest challenge was choosing from the many varieties!

All the cakes were on sale for between £1.50 and £2.50 a slice with all proceeds going to the M.S Society, nowt like eating cake for charity! You can find out more about it this event and Appetite here.

The rest of the bank holiday was spent visiting family and pottering before returning to work and preparing for our day trip to Cleethorpes!

Surprisingly on the Saturday of the day trip to Cleethorpes the sun was out and the rain stayed away for once.  There was a leisurely train ride to the coast, a trek to the smallest pub followed by a refreshing pint in the beer garden.
Some light refereshments for our journey!

Then a tiny train ride on the light railway.
Enjoying the sunshine & tiny train ride...

A ride on the lollipop train, fish and chips, more beer and all manner of other seaside treat based gorging.

After this successful excursion and a relaxing Sunday spent seeing relatives and putting my greenhouse back up after it fell down I've finally managed to find the time and energy to make a new recipe to put on the blog! Keep your eye's peeled it will be up soon.

Friday, 11 May 2012

52 Recipe Challenge - Week 43.

The other week I was tasked with sorting out a birthday cake for my Mum's birthday party and I wasn't sure whether to bake one or buy one.  I asked around and the common consensus seemed to be to make one, then I remembered that there were 40 people expected at the party and it would have to be a large cake when I only had small sandwich tins... so I ummed and aahhed a little longer and then came up with a plan.

The plan was simple try to make a cake and if it failed buy one! So I went out and tried to buy a big cake tin and then decided a new roasting tin would do the trick. I also stocked up on a cake board, box, sprinkles, icing writing; all the essentials! (Or so I thought...)

Initially I tried making my normal fail safe Victoria sponge recipe from my tried and tested Sam Stern book but it didn't make enough mixture to make a decent sized sponge.  So I consulted my stash of cookbooks and dug out Cupcakes from the Primrose Bakery and turned to their Vanilla Layer Cake.  None of the cakes in my books were exactly like the one I planned to make but the description did say "we use this as the basis of many a birthday cake, not least because  it can be iced and decorated to any effect."

Perfect! The introduction to the layer cake chapter also provided some handy advice "double the recipe to make.. cakes that can serve 20 - 25 people easily."

This recipe is how I made this lovely cake for my Mum's 50th birthday party.

To make this cake you will need:

550g Butter
550g Caster Sugar
500g Self Raising Flour
2 Teaspoons of Baking Powder
8 Eggs
2 Teaspoons of Vanilla Flavouring/ Extract
6 Tablespoons Milk

Initially I tried making my normal fail safe Victoria sponge recipe from my tried and tested Sam Stern book but it didn't make enough mixture to make a decent sized sponge in my roasting tin.  So I consulted my stash of cookbooks and dug out Cupcakes from the Primrose Bakery and turned to their Vanilla Layer Cake.  None of the cakes in my books were exactly like the one I planned to make but the description did say "we use this as the basis of many a birthday cake, not least because  it can be iced and decorated to any effect."

Perfect! The introduction to the layer cake chapter also provided some handy advice "double the recipe to make.. cakes that can serve 20 - 25 people easily."

As I already had the oven on from my previous attempt at cooking I didn't start by pre-heating it, I  lined the roasting tin again and then weighed all of the ingredients and then put them all the into the food processor.

Next I blitzed them all together, pausing every few minutes to scrape the sides down with my spatula and ensuring everything got mixed together.

Then I started to worry as the mixture started to leak! I was still blitzing the mixture together with the food processor when some of the cake batter started to seep out from underneath...

As I'd already come this far I carried on mixing until all the ingredients were properly combined.

Then I lifted the mixing bowl from the food processor unit and saw the extent of the leakage!

So I poured the cake batter mixture into the lined roasting tin until it was about two thirds full and put it into the oven.  I turned the oven down to 180c/ gas mark 4.

Then I had to set about cleaning up the mess... it was everywhere! Even on my washing machine!

The original recipe which is for half the ingredients said to bake the cake in the oven for 25 minutes but after this amount of time my doubled recipe still wasn't done.  So I kept checking on it and it finished baking after 50 minutes.

When I took it out of the oven the cake had risen over the top of the roasting tray, which was a better result than my last effort!  I knew this wouldn't be easy to ice though, so I let it cool a little in the roasting tray before turning it out on to a wire rack to cool and using the flatter bottom as the top instead!

Once all this was done it was about midnight so I put the cooled cake in some clingfilm in a cake box ready for decorating the next morning.

The next day I did my chauffeur duties, picked up some ready roll icing & squirty white icing, then after picking up a back up cake, I finally iced my cake.

I won't go into this in detail needless to say squirty icing and cake ribbons hide a multitude of sins! That and Ready roll icing isn't as handy as I would have hoped... best not get icing for a round cake when yours is a rectangle!

 In the end it went better than I had expected and the birthday girl seemed to like it!  As a family serious we're serious about cake and she ended up with five cakes over her birthday, good going I say!

Friday, 4 May 2012

52 Recipe Challenge - Week 42.

I had hoped to pop this recipe up about this time last week but I got sidetracked... you know what they say about the best laid plans! For this week's recipe I decided to try a savoury recipe inspired by watching The Hairy Bikers Bakathon and seeing them make this recipe made me think that's a good idea why haven't I thought of that before?  The recipe in question is Stromboli and I had to laugh, as when I was looking at the blogs I follow and finding that another blogger I read also posted a Stromboli post the day after I made this...  it's obviously a popular dish!

To make this you will need

450g/1lb strong white flour
1 x 7g/¾oz sachet of fast-action dried yeast
2 tsp salt
4 tbsp olive oil
325ml/11fl oz warm water
1 small onion, finely chopped
2 cloves garlic
400g/14oz can chopped tomatoes
½ tsp dried oregano
1 tsp sugar
8 slices of prosciutto
125g/4½oz mozzarella cheese
A few Spinach leaves

I started by measuring out  the flour for dough and putting it into a bowl then adding the yeast, salt, olive oil and water.

Next I mixed the ingredients together before kneading them for five minutes then I covered the dough with some cling film and put it in a warm place to rise for an hour.
Whilst this was rising I started to sort out the sauce, the original recipe said to chop up the onion and fry it off in a pan and then add the other ingredients.  I decided that whilst this sounded like a good idea I realised that this take a bit longer than I planned so I chopped up the onion and put it in a bowl with the garlic, chopped tomatoes, oregano and sugar then put it in the microwave for a few minutes.

Once this was done the dough had also risen so I rolled the dough out and then put it on a baking sheet and covered it in tomato sauce.

I then put the mozzarella on top.
Before adding the prosciutto ham and a few leaves of spinach in place of the fresh basil in the original recipe because that's what was in my fridge...

then I rolled it all up tucking by tucking in the long edges and then rolling one short end towards the other. 
 After doing that I looked at the recipe again and realised that I should have put it in a tray with some baking paper on it so I transferred it to another baking tray.

Whilst transferring the Stromboli the dough started to weaken and rip and I think I may have rolled it out too thin... then again I probably didn't use enough flour either but needless to say holes appeared in it.  The original recipe said to let it rise again but the evening was getting on so I only let is rise a few minutes before putting it into the oven at 200c/gas mark 6 for 25 minutes.

It cooked well but alas it didn't look as nice as I wanted it to when I took it out of the oven and ended up tasting mainly like tomatoey bread.  My boyfriend didn't believe I put cheese in it, I guess that the dough absorbed his share whilst it was cooking!  This recipe also made a monstrous amount so I took some of it into to work for my lunch the next day.
This was a recipe really I wanted to taste good but sadly it didn't live up to my expectations, maybe I should have followed the original recipe more.  Then again maybe I should just try another Stromboli recipe in the future... still it was worth a try and definitely something to look back on for future reference.