Wednesday, 9 February 2011

Baked Blackberries & Mascarpone

For 6

1kg blackberries
2 vanilla pods
3 egg yolks
500g mascarpone cheese
30g icing sugar

Preheat the oven to 200C/Gas 6.
Wash the blackberries and pick them over.
Scrape the seeds from the vanilla pods.

Mix the mascarpone, egg yolks, vanilla seeds and icing sugar together.
Put the blackberries in a small baking dish. Spoon the mascarpone over and bake in the preheated oven for about 5 minutes, until the mascarpone begins to brown.

Spectacular Rice Pudding with Raspberry & Redcurrant Jam

For 4

Large knob of unsalted butter
1 vanilla pod
570ml whole milk
40g round grain rice
freshly grated nutmeg
2 tbsp caster sugar
double cream
raspberry & redcurrant jam, to serve

Preheat the oven to 150C/Gas 2.
Butter an ovenproof dish.

Split the vanilla pod, put it in a saucepan with the milk and bring this to the boil.
Rinse the rice and put it in the dish with some flakes of butter, grated nutmeg and the sugar.
Remove the vanilla pod from the hot milk, pour the milk over the rice and stir.
Put the ovenproof dish into the preheated oven and take out to stir two or three times over the next hour. After about an hour, stir in a good dollop of double cream and leave in the oven until the rice is quite cooked, but before all the liquid has been absorbed; this will take about 20 minutes. Keep checking, as you don't want it to be dry.
Serve with the raspberry & redcurrant jam.

This is the first time I've made rice pudding and this recipe felt fool-proof. It also didn't feel like enough for 4 but then my friends and I are just greedy! I'd definitely make more next time.
Also the recipe for the raspberry & redcurrant jam comes from the same book and I have yet to create that so I just used a really good raspberry jam and it was super!

Taken from: Sarah Raven's Garden Cookbook

Fig Ice Cream

450g Very ripe figs
3 tbsp Water
375ml Whipping cream
110g Sugar

1 tbsp Sugar
3 Egg yolks
Vanilla, to taste
Cognac or brandy (optional), to taste

Wash the figs, cut off the stem ends, and cut in quarters into a non-corroding saucepan. Add the water and cook slowly until very tender, about 20 minutes, stirring often. The cooking time will depend on the variety of fig you are using and how thick the skin is.
Coarsely chop the figs in a food processor, or put them through a food mill, or crush well with a potato masher.
Warm 1 cup of the cream with the sugar in a non-corroding saucepan, stirring occasionally, until the sugar has dissolved. Whisk the egg yolks just enough to mix them and whisk in some of the hot cream mixture to warm them. Return to the pan and cook over low heat, stirring constantly, until the custard coats the spoon.

Strain through a medium-fine strainer into a container.
Add the remaining cream and 1-1/2 cups of the fig puree.
Flavor to taste with a few drops each of vanilla and Cognac or brandy.
Chill thoroughly. Freeze according to the instructions with your ice-cream maker.

I found figs in the local market for a bargain price and although I've never been able to really appreciate their taste I thought I'd snap them up and bring them home and figure out what to do with them. It was really hard to find a recipe for fig ice cream that didn't use dried figs so thank goodness for the internet!
This was absolutely delicious. I only had a few tastes of it when it finished its spinning in the ice cream maker but it had a really rich flavour. And I totally forgot to add the vanilla! I also didn't add either Cognac or brandy.

Also, I never understood the custard coating the spoon thing, I knew if you ran your finger through it and the line stayed clear it was done, but it seemed to do that from the very beginning. However, I finally saw it on tv and had a Eureka moment, the line has to remain clear when you tip your spoon, the liquid should be thick enough that it won't run. Hurrah!

Taken from: The Internet

Tuesday, 8 February 2011

Blueberry (Or Blackcurrant) Muffins

Makes 8

115g plain flour
15ml/1 tbsp baking powder
pinch of salt
65g soft light brown sugar
1 egg
175ml milk
45ml/3 tbsp vegetable oil
10ml/2 tsp ground cinnamon
150g fresh or thawed frozen blueberries or blackcurrants

Preheat the oven to 190C/375F/Gas 5. Thoroughly grease eight muffin tins.
With an electric mixer, beat together the flour, baking powder, salt, sugar, egg, milk, vegetable oil and cinnamon until smooth.
Fold the blueberries or blackcurrants into the flour mixture until just evenly combined.
Spoon the mixture into the prepared tins, filling them about two-thirds full. Bake for 25 minutes or until golden brown.
Leave to cool in the tins for 10 minutes, then transfer the buns to a wire rack to cool completely.

So these are easily the best muffins I've ever made, but still not perfect.
I didn't grease the tins, because honestly, it just seems so much easier to use the paper wrappers. I can't see that it affects their cooking at all. Maybe I should try without and see. I feel as though there might have been a few too many blueberries that made the inside of the muffin soggier than it could have been. I see experimentation in my future.

Taken from: The Cookie & Biscuit Bible

Tips & Hints

I love little tips & hints, I have books on just this thing on my shelves and so I had to have a place to remember my favourites. I can see it'll be a slow growing list.

Cooking tips:

  • If your recipe calls for only using some, not all, of the holes of your muffin pan, cover the bottom of the others with a layer of water to protect them.

Food tips:
  • If your recipe calls only for egg yolks, don't discard the whites, save and freeze them. Remember to note on your freezer bag, how many you've frozen, then simply defrost and use in your recipe.
  • Store your hard cheeses in the freezer. Something like parmesan will last much longer and doesn't grate any differently. As a single person I was finding that I wasn't using it often enough and it was going off before I could finish a pack.

Storage tips:

  • If you are saving jars for preserving, screw up a piece of newspaper and place inside the jar, this will absorb any moisture and help prevent any rust forming on the lid.

Monday, 7 February 2011

Greengage Sorbet

Serves 6

150g sugar
Juice of 1 lemon
675g greengages

Bring 150ml water and the sugar to the boil, and cook for 3 minutes. Allow to cool and add the lemon juice.
Preheat a moderate oven - 180C/Gas 4.

Either halve the greengages and remove the stones or just leave them, stones, skin & all, put them in an ovenproof dish and cover with foil. They need no extra liquid.
Bake in the preheated oven until they are really soft and, if you have left the stones in, just pick them out with a knife and fork. Put the whole lot into a food processor and process until you have a thick, smooth puree.
Add the cooled sugar syrup, process to combine and put into a bowl. Cool and cover until you are ready to make the sorbet.
If you have an ice cream machine, empty the contents of the bowl into the machine and freeze/churn for 15-20 minutes, until the mixture is thick but still easy to transfer into plastic containers for the freezer.
If you don't have a machine, pour the mixture into a plastic container, making sure that you have a depth of about 4-5cm. Cover and freeze. After an hour or so, beat or process the mixture and put back into the freezer. Repeat a couple more times over the next 4 hours and then cover and freeze until you want it.

Allow the sorbet to thaw for about 20 minutes in the fridge before eating.

After I'd put this in my ice cream maker and it had chilled, I dipped a teaspoon in. It's fair to say that after that first taste it took enormous willpower not to sit, eat the whole bowl and feel incredibly sick.
I'd eaten a raw greengage and it wasn't at all to my taste but I didn't want them to go to waste so this was excellent.

Taken from: Sarah Raven's Garden Cookbook

Crushed New Potatoes

Serves 4

600g new potatoes
1 tbsp butter
1 tbsp creme fraiche
salt and pepper

Bring a large pan of water to the boil and add the potatoes. Boil until tender.
Drain and crush with the back of a fork.
Stir in the butter and creme fraiche and season, to taste, with salt and freshly ground black pepper.

I'm a giant wuss with overactive tastebuds so I leave the pepper for crazy folk to add as I can tolerate precisely zero specks of it. I did though, use Maldon sea salt because I am in love with it and use every damn excuse to use it.
We kept the leftovers and the following day my sister mixed them in with a tablespoonful or two of mayonnaise and a small can of sweetcorn. Absolutely delicious!

Taken from: BBC Food

Wild Mushroom Tartlets

Over Christmas, to attempt to ease the load my sister and I cooked a couple of meals as well as preparing different things for Christmas Day dinner.
This was part of my Christmas Eve main. They were absolutely delicious and as is par for the course with me, nice and easy.
I served them with crushed new potatoes and green vegetables.

Old-Fashioned Ginger Cookies

Makes 60

300g plain flour
5ml/1 tsp bicarbonate of soda
7.5ml/1 1/2tsp ground ginger
1.5ml/1/4 tsp ground cinnamon
1.5ml/1/4 tsp ground cloves
115g butter or margarine, at room temperature, diced
350g caster sugar
1 egg
60ml/4 tbsp black treacle
5ml/1 tsp fresh lemon juice

Preheat the oven to 160C/325F/Gas 3. Grease three baking sheets.
Sift the flour, bicarbonate of soda and spices into a small bowl. Set aside.

Place the butter or margarine and two thirds of the sugar in a bowl and cream together with an electric mixer until light and fluffy. Lightly beat the egg and stir it in.
Stir in the treacle and lemon juice. Add the flour mixture and mix in thoroughly with a wooden spoon to make a soft dough.
Shape the dough into 2cm balls. Roll the balls in the remaining sugar to coat and place them on the prepared baking sheets, spaced about 5cm apart to allow for the dough spreading.
Bake for about 12 minutes, or until the cookies are just firm to the touch. With a spatula, transfer the cookies to a wire rack and leave to cool.

These came out looking brilliant. I think i was most proud of the appearance of these - for the most ridiculous of reasons, they looked as if they could be shop-bought, which is a stupid standard to want to attain. Maybe it's the good-enough-to-pay-money-for standard.

Taken from: The Cookie & Biscuit Bible

Plain Chocolate & Peppermint Crisps

Makes 30

50g granulated sugar
50ml water
5ml/1 tsp peppermint essence
225g plain chocolate, chopped

Lightly brush a large baking sheet with unflavoured oil. In a pan over a medium heat, heat the sugar and water, swirling the pan gently until the sugar dissolves. Boil rapidly until the temperature registers 138C/280F on a sugar thermometer (hard ball stage*).
Remove from the heat and add the peppermint essence, swirl gently to mix. Pour on to the baking sheet and leave to set and cool.

When cold, break into pieces. Place in a food processor fitted with a metal blade until fine crumbs form.
Line two baking sheets with non stick baking parchment. Place the chocolate in a heatproof bowl over a small pan of hot water. Place over a very low heat until the chocolate has melted, stirring frequently until smooth. Remove from the heat and stir in the peppermint mixture.
Using a teaspoon, drop small mounds onto the prepared baking sheets. Using the back of the spoon, spread to 4cm rounds. Cool, then chill for about 1 hour, until set. Peel off the parchment and store in airtight containers with baking parchment between the layers.

* You can test sugar for "hard ball stage" by spooning a few drops into a bowl of cold water; it should form a hard ball when rolled between your fingers.

I was really pleased with these, they're pretty easy to do and they were lovely. They stacked up nicely as part of my gift tins of chocs!

Taken from: The Cookie & Biscuit Bible

Chocolate Box Cookies

Makes about 50

175g self-raising flour
25g cocoa powder
5ml/1 tsp mixed spice
50g unsalted butter
caster sugar
1 egg
1 egg yolk

For the decoration:
150g milk chocolate
150g white chocolate
100g plain chocolate
whole almonds or walnuts

cocoa powder, for dusting

Preheat the oven to 180C/350F/Gas 4. Grease two baking sheets.
Put the flour, cocoa powder, spice and butter into a food processor. Process until the ingredients are thoroughly blended. Add the sugar, egg and egg yolk and mix to a smooth dough.
Turn the dough out on to a lightly floured surface and knead gently. Cut the dough in half and roll out each piece under the palms of your hands to form two long longs, each 33cm long.
Cut each log into 1cm slices. Place the slices on the prepared baking sheet, spacing slightly apart, and chill for at least 30 minutes.
Bake for 10 minutes until slightly risen. Transfer to a wire rack to cool.
To decorate, break the chocolate into three separate heatproof bowls. Place each bowl, in turn, over a pan of gently simmering water and stir frequently until melted.
Divide the cookies into six batches. Using a fork, dip one batch, a cookie at a time, into the milk chocolate to coat completely. Place on a sheet of baking parchment.
Taking the next batch of cookies, half-dip in milk chocolate and place on the baking parchment.
Continue with the next two batches of cookies and the white chocolate. Completely coat one batch, then half-coat the second.
Continue with the remaining cookies, completely coating one batch in the plain chocolate and half-dipping the other. Press a whole nut on to the tops of the plain chocolate covered cookies.
Put the leftover white chocolate in a small plastic bag and squeeze it into one corner. Snip off the tip, then drizzle lines of chocolate over the milk chocolate coated cookies.
Dust the white chocolate coated cookies with a little cocoa powder. Store all the cookies in a cool place until ready to serve.

These were really simple and really effective. They stored well, I made them before Christmas and they were good for at least a couple of weeks, although not too many made it that long!

Taken from: The Cookie & Biscuit Bible

Cinnamon & Orange Tuiles

Serves 15

2 egg whites
90g caster sugar
7.5ml/1 1/2 tsp ground cinnamon
finely grated rind of 1 orange
50g plain flour
75g butter, melted

For the dipping chocolate:
75g Belgian plain chocolate
45ml/3 tbsp milk

75 - 90ml/5-6 tbsp double or whipping cream

Preheat the oven to 200C/400F/Gas 6. Line two or three large baking sheets with non-stick baking parchment.
Whisk the egg whites until softly peaking, then whick in the sugar until smooth and glossy. Add the cinnamon and orange rind, sift over the flour and fold in with the melted butter. When well blended add 15ml/1 tbsp of recently boiled water to thin the mixture.
Place 4-5 teaspoons of the mixture on each tray, well apart. Flatten out and bake, one sheet at a time for 7 minutes until just golden. Cool for a few seconds then remove from the sheet with a metal spatula and immediately roll arond the handle of a wooden spoon.
Place on a rack to cool.
Melt the chocolate in the milk, then stir in the cream. Dip one or both ends of the cookies in the chocolate and leave to cool.

Total and utter failure.
First make sure the tuiles are well flattened out before baking, they need to be thin.

Do not waste any time trying to get these damn things around the handle of the wooden spoon. By the end of the batch I was about getting it. Don't bake more than two at a time or they'll have gone hard and you won't be able to roll them.
Then the chocolate? It would. Not. Set. An hour to cool on the side, an hour in the fridge. Nope. If I made these again, I would just make them with straight melted chocolate.
As they wouldn't set, I couldn't package them up for Christmas gifts so I ate a few then had to dump the rest, very sadly.

Taken from: The Cookie & Biscuit Bible

Rose Water Thins

Makes 60

225g slightly salted butter
225g caster sugar
1 egg
15ml/1 tbsp single cream
300g plain flour
pinch of salt
5ml/1 tsp baking powder
15ml/1 tbsp rose water
caster sugar, for sprinkling

Preheat the oven to 190C/375F/Gas 5. Line two baking sheets with baking parchment.
Soften the butter and mix with all the other ingredients to make a firm dough. Mould the mixture into an even roll and wrap in greaseproof paper.
Chill until it is firm enough to slice very thinly. This will take 1-1 1/2 hours.
Arrange the cookies on the prepared baking sheets allowing enough space for them to spread during cooking. Sprinkle with a little caster sugar and bake for about 10 minutes until they are just turning brown at the edges.

This Christmas I did a huge batch of baking for friends and family, wrapping selections of biscuits in cellophane with hand stamped tags. Everyone loved them and this recipe in particular has been requested over and over again.

Taken from: The Cookie & Biscuit Bible

Saturday, 10 July 2010

Peanut Butter Ice Cream with Salted Peanut Brittle

Serve 6-7 (approx 1kg)

For the ice cream:
400ml whole milk

400ml whipping cream
200g caster sugar
2 tsp vanilla extract
200g smooth or crunchy peanut butter

For the salted peanut brittle:
150g caster sugar

20g unsalted butter
200g roasted salted peanuts

To make the ice cream, put the milk, cream and sugar in a pan and bring to just below boiling point. Add the vanilla extract.
Put the peanut butter in a mixing bowl and add a couple of tablespoons of the heated-milk mix to the peanut butter, stirring constantly to combine. Gradually add the rest of the heated milk and stir everything together. Allow to cool.

Churn the mixture in an ice-cream machine until it is firm. Put in a sealed container and over the top of the ice cream with waxed or greaseproof paper. Transfer to the freezer until needed.

To make the salted peanut brittle, put half of the sugar in a pan over a moderate heat. Stir until the sugar dissolves; it will become crumbly to begin with, but don't worry. Make sure all the sugar is dissolved before you add the remaining sugar. Scrape the bottom and the sides of the pan as you go along until you have added all the sugar. Cook the caramel until it reaches a lovely golden brown.
Add the butter and the peanuts and stir them around for a few minutes until the peanuts are coated in the caramel. Pour the mix onto a sheet of foil or non-stick baking paper and allow to cool.
Once cooled and hardened, break up the brittle into small or large chunks. If not using immediately, transfer to a container and store in a cool, dry place.

Serve the ice cream topped with the salted peanut brittle.

This is so good as to not be wholly legal. It was also a really easy ice cream to make, some seem to be really fussy and precise.
Also, because home made ice creams aren't full of all those extra ingredients, you have to remember to take it out at least half an hour before you need it to give it time to soften up a bit.

Taken from: Lola's Ice Creams & Sundaes

Rhubarb Cordial

300g Rhubarb, chopped into 1cm pieces
568ml (1 pint) water
100-150g caster sugar (depending on taste)

Put the water and sugar into a pan and bring to the boil. Add the rhubarb and boil for about 10 minutes until the rhubarb is soft. Strain into a jug through a sieve; do not press the pulp through as this will result in the cordial becoming cloudy. Pour into a sterilised bottle and store until needed. Mix with water, fizzy water or lemonade

This was a wonderful pink shade when I bottled it and when diluted turned yellow. I'm not sure what I did wrong but a couple of weeks after I made it, I hadn't drunk any in that couple of weeks, but when I went to open it again it fizzed, which isn't a good thing. I'd kept it refrigerated the whole time so I'd have thought it would be fine. Ah well, will be trying again.

Taken from: My Skydrive Recipe folder!