Friday, 27 September 2013

Scrumptious September Blackberry Tray Bake

After a stinted start to September blackberries, a delicious bowl was finally picked. This is the best blackberry recipe I have made to date, and I wanted to share it's scrumptiousness with you all. Due to the fact that blackberries don't cost a penny, the apple was from our garden, the free-range eggs were bought down the road for next to nothing, and the rest of the ingredients equate to as little as £1, this is a highly economic and cheap cake! Unfortunately it is not my own creation, I nabbed it from the Tesco Mag website, the original recipe can be found here: 

Ingredients (makes 12 pieces)

- 100g softened butter
- 175g self-raising flour
- 1tsp baking powder
- 170g caster sugar
- 2 eggs
- zest of one lemon
- 1 Cox apple, peeled, cored and diced (or as an alternative you can use tinned pears, around 4 pear halves)
- 150g blackberries, rinsed

1. Start by preheating the oven to 190°c and line a shallow 20cm square cake tin with baking parchment (I used a glass 20 x 15cm dish instead). 

2. Place all the ingredients, apart from the apple and blackberries, into a large bowl and mix with a wooden spoon until smooth.

3. Next, stir the apple and blackberries into the mixture and spread evenly into the prepared tin. Bake for 30-40 minutes, until the centre is firm to touch and a knife comes out clean.

4. Remove the cake out of the tin by picking out the baking parchment, and leave to cool on a wire rack.

Monday, 23 September 2013

Sushi Time

*sushi nori*white wine vinegar or japanese vinegar*large glass or wooden dish*fanning implement such as a magazine or fan

Ingredients (makes 5 large rolls)

for the rice -

- 300g sushi rice
- 580ml water
- 50ml white wine vinegar or japanese vinegar
- 3 tbsp caster sugar
- 1 1/2 tsp salt

for the filling and sushi -

- 5 sheets sushi nori seaweed
- any fillings you so desire -
finely sliced carrot
finely sliced cucumber
finely sliced mushroom
finely sliced spring onion
chopped avocado
smoked salmon
sliced seafood sticks

1. Start by washing the rice in a siece until the water runs clear. Then pour the rice and the cold water into a medium saucepan with a clear lid (do not remove the lid). Cook the rice on a high heat until the water is boiling and bubbling, then turn the heat down to very low, and simmer for 20 minutes.

2. While the rice is cooking, you can cut up all the vegetables and prepare for the sushi. The vinegar, sugar and salt mix can be heated while the rice is cooking, and left to cool once it has all dissolved.

3. When the rice is ready (do not remove the lid), take it off the heat and leave it to stand for 10 minutes.

4. Now take the lid off and pour the rice into a large glass or wooden flat dish, if some has stuck to the bottom of the pan, do not scrape it off as it might be burnt. Chop and fold the rice using a flat spatula or flat wooden spoon, and gradually add the vinegar mix evenly; fanning the rice as you go so that it cools down quickly. Keep fanning until the rice is cool.

5. Ready to roll! Place one of the seaweed squares onto the sushi rolling mat and start to apply thin layers of cold rice in a smaller square within the middle. You can do this using a wooden spoon, or your hands, dipped in a little water and vinegar (so the rice doesn't stick to them). Leave a 2cm gap on the top and bottom and go close to the edge on the sides. Next, put your fillings a little below the half way point (not too much or it will overflowO and start to fold the seaweed over the fillings. The first roll needs to be nice and tight, so push down on the mat and make sure its all tucked in. Once you get near to finishing, dab the seaweed end with water so that it sticks together when you finish the roll.

6. Get a sharp knife and cut the sushi roll into segments. Eat with soy sauce, pickled ginger or wasabi. Absolutely delicious!

Isabella's Soda Bread - Rye Style

This soda bread recipe couldn't be easier! Baking bread is often quite tedious, probably why I never make it; but this recipe allows you to make a delicious loaf without all the faff of kneading and resting.

'S' for Soda Bread

Ingredients (roughly 14 slices)

- 8oz rye flour or brown flour
- 4oz white flour
- 2oz oatmeal
- 1/2 tsp cream of tartar
- 1 tsp bicarbonate of soda
- 1 tsp salt
- 1 tsp brown sugar
- half a 500ml natural yoghurt pot (250g), the rest filled with milk to the brim

1. Start by pre heating the oven to 205°c.

2. Mix all the dry ingredients together in a bowl and then add the yoghurt and milk. Stir well until fully combined.

3. Pour the mixture into a large-ish greased loaf tin (I use a non-stick plastic one), and cook at 205°c for 10 minutes.

4. After 10 minutes, turn the heat down to 185°c and cook for a further 35 minutes. 

5. To check that the loaf is ready, tap its top. If it's firm, remove it from the tin, and pat its bottom. If the bottom sounds hollow when tapped, its ready to cool down on a wire rack and eat when you're ready.

I thought it would be nice to include a picture of our cat - Biggy. She supervised me taking photos today.

Friday, 13 September 2013

Banana and Stem Ginger Muffins with a Whole Lot of Seeds

After finding this recipe on the Waitrose website, I decided that I had to make them, even if it was 8pm. While beginning to make these delicious muffins, I noticed that I was missing a few ingredients. I substituted chocolate drops, orange zest and poppy seeds for linseeds, pumpkin seeds and sunflower seeds. I love the rustic, homemade quality of using parchment paper for muffin cases...I think it adds character and flair. 

Ingredients (makes 12 muffins)

- 250g plain flour
- 120g caster sugar
- 1 1/4 baking power
- 1/2 tsp bicarbonate of soda
- 1 tsp ground ginger
- 1 egg
- 3 tbsp vegetable oil
- 200g natural yoghurt
- 2 balls stem ginger, roughly chopped
- 2 bananas, peeled and sliced
                                                                                                         - 1 tbsp sunflower and pumpkin seeds
                                                                                                        - 1 tsp linseeds

1. Preheat the oven to 190°c.

2. Start by sifting the flour, sugar, ground ginger and raising agents into a bowl with a few pinches of salt, and stir well. 

3. In another bowl lightly beat the egg, oil and stem ginger. Stir in the mixed dry ingredients until combined and fold in 1 1/2 chopped banana.

4. Cut some baking parchment into suitable squares and fit them into a cupcake holding try by folding them slightly. Divide the mixture evenly between the 12 muffin cases (N.B it might get messy). Then use the remaining 1/2 chopped banana, pushing a piece into the centre of each muffin. 

5. Bake in the oven for 20-25 minutes, until a skewer comes out clean from the centre. Leave the muffins to rest and cool on on a wire rack or tray. 

They are delicious either hot or cold, in the morning for breakfast or with a nice afternoon cuppa.

Apple and Cinnamon Overnight Oats with Vanilla Yoghurt, Goji Berries and Apricots

Ingredients (breakfast for one - fills a medium jam jar)

- 1/3 plain porridge oats
- 1 large tbsp flaxseed (find my recipe a few posts down)
- 2 tbsp vanilla yoghurt 
- 2 apricots, chopped
- 1 very small apple (or half a medium apple), grated
- 1 tsp flaked almonds
- 1 tsp sunflower seeds
- 1 tsp pumpkin seeds
- 1 tbsp goji berries
- 1 tsp raisins or sultanas
- 1 tsp linseeds
water (about 1-2 tbsp)
- 1 1/2 tsp cinnamon
- 1-2 tsp golden syrup or jam

Overnight oats is so simple and delicious, I'd eat it every morning if I could. I have continued to experimented with this apple version, and I think I've hit the jackpot! All the seeds and currents add extra flavour and texture, the goji berries are also a great addition as they absorb the water, soften and become super juicy.

1. Place everything apart from the water into a suitable jam jar, and stir the mixture with a spoon. Depending on the size of the jar, you may have to reduce the quantities of seeds or berries.

2. Once the mixture gets too thick, gradually add some water, a little at a time until it resembles rice pudding.

3. Place the jar in the fridge overnight or for a couple of hours before eating, drizzle with extra golden syrup to make it sweeter.

Tuesday, 10 September 2013

A Delicious Lunch - Peanut Butter Houmous, Mixed Salad with Lemony Mustard Dressing, and two special girls

For me, the whole enjoyment of cooking boils down to who you're cooking for. I would cook for these two any day of the week, this was such a good day! A delicious selection of cheeses brought back from France, homemade houmous and a mixed surprise salad - what more could you want on a weekend?

Peanut Butter Houmous - serves 4/6

This is my own recipe using peanut butter instead of tahini. I find tahini too bitter, and peanut butter always makes this houmous taste superb. The right type of chickpeas are also very important, try buying some already boiled chickpeas as they are very soft, light and give a great texture. 

- 400g can of boiled TRS chickpeas with 1/3 chickpea juice
- 1 medium clove of garlic
- 1 dessert spoon of peanut butter
- juice of 1/2 a lemon
- roughly 3-5 tbsp good quality olive oil
- salt and pepper
- mixed seeds to garnish (can be roasted)

1. Simply place all the ingredients into a food processor (except the oil) and whizz up. Slowly add the olive oil to form your preferred consistency. Adding a bit of juice from the chickpea tin makes this dip smoother.

Mixed Summer Salad

The thing I love about salads is that you can use all sorts of bits and pieces from the fridge to make them more exciting. I usually make dijon or balsamic dressings, but thought I'd try something different - it's my divine dressing. 

For the Mixed Salad - serves 3

- 3 handfuls mixed leaves
- 3 small cooked cold potatoes, chopped
- 3 radishes, sliced
- 4 tomatoes, chopped
- 1 baby cucumber, chopped
- 3 gherkins, chopped
- 1/2 avocado (optional)
- 1 handful pumpkin seeds
- 1 handful sunflower seeds
- a sprinkle of sesame seeds

For the Divine Dressing

- 1 tsp mayonnaise
- 1 1/2 tsp dijon mustard
- 3 good squeezes of fresh lemon
- good quality olive oil, roughly 2 tbsp
- salt and pepper

1. Place the mayonnaise and mustard into a jar or cup and mix thoroughly with a fork. 

2. Add the lemon juice and stir well. Gradually pour in the oil very slowly, continuing to beat with a fork. 

3. Finally, season with salt and pepper and drizzle over the salad.