Tuesday, 30 March 2010

Ho-nest-ly good cakes....

The best type of eggs to be cooking with at Easter.....

Tonight I start as a Jamie at Home consultant. It's basically like tupperware parties but with awesome home stuff. I can't wait to get buying...let alone selling. And it means I'll have some nice plates and board to display on my blog....

I am making some goodies for the party tonight including these yummy chocolate nest cakes.... "Hang on a second", I hear you cry, "aren't they just those Away in a Manger cakes you made at Christmas but with mini eggs in instead of jelly babies?" Answer: yes but more chocolate means more yummy.
Chocolate Easter Nest Cakes....(12 cakes)
2oz butter
4oz granulated sugar
2 tbsp cocoa
2tbsp golden syrup
5 shredded wheats (crumbled)
About 40 mini eggs

Melt the butter, sugar, cocoa and syrup until the sugar is dissolved. Crumble in the shredded wheat.
Put a tsp of the mix in a cupcake holder and top with three mini eggs. (I like the yellow ones best...they definitely taste COMPLETELY different to the other colours).

Sometimes I put them in the freezer because I like it when they go all crispy.

Sunday, 21 March 2010

Tea Cake....

There's no where more beautiful to do a Sports Relief Mile than down at Marazion. It was a glorious day. Bright sunshine and smiley faces all around.

The Easter Egg challenge is harder than I thought. I am starting to run out of ideas. I think
today's blog might be a bit of a cheat. But the cake contains egg so I think that's ok....

Ever since I gave up dairy I've been drinking Earl Grey tea and I am completely obsessed with it.

Earl Grey and Prune Teabread......(8 slices)

115g/4oz prunes
230g/8oz mixed dried fruit
230g/8oz caster sugar
1 mug strong Earl Grey tea
290g/10oz plain flour
1 tbsp baking powder
1 egg

The day before you plan to make the teabread grab a bowl and put the fruit in it. Pour the hot tea over the top and add the sugar. Give it a good mix and leave it overnight.

Preheat the oven to 180'c. Add an egg to the sugary fruit.

Stir in the flour and baking powder.

Pour into a greased loaf tin. This is the moment I realised I don't have a loaf tin. (Mental note buy loaf tin.) So I poured it into a greased cake tin.

Bake in the oven for about an hour or until a knife comes clear when you poke it through the middle.

Now pretend this isn't a circle. Slice it into nice loaf slices and serve with butter.

Saturday, 20 March 2010

Saturday Kitchen....

I've never liked the name "scrambled eggs". They sound chaotic. Who wants to eat something that is scrambled? You wouldn't call minced steak "mushed up beef" or meringues "egg whites with the hell beaten out of them." So why scrambled. It should be called "pillows of egg". A bite into them should feel like resting your head on a cool pillow after a tiring day.

Saturday Scrambled Eggs......(serves 1)

2 eggs
1 dstp extra thick double cream
1 knob butter
Cornish sea salt and black pepper

In a bowl lightly mix the eggs and the cream. Pop a knob of butter into a pan (once again who decided to call it a knob of butter?)

Let it melt but not so it is angrily bubbling and starting to turn brown. It needs to be just about to bubble.

Pour in the egg mix. Leave for 30 seconds or so.

Gently pull the side of the egg into the middle.

When it is just about cooked (but still slightly runny) pull of the heat. (It will continue cooking) Scoop it onto some freshly made toast and sprinkle over the salt and pepper.

Now watch Saturday Kitchen and enjoy....

Thursday, 18 March 2010

Chocolate and hazelnut meringues...

After two weeks of gloriously warm sunshine the heavens have opened. Rain is pouring down outside and the air smells of soil. Yesterday I planned to make grilled chicken and salad for tea. Now, as I sit under my duvet withe the curtains drawn to block out the harsh reality of a rainy afternoon, all I want is stodge. Tonight we'll eat pasta instead. Strings of linguine in a basil and tomato sauce with chunks of wintery salmon. And I want a pudding. Not a stodgy autumn jam sponge or a summery crumble. Something in between.....

Chocolate and Hazelnut Meringues.....(Makes 7)

3 egg whites
4oz/115g caster sugar
4oz/115g icing sugar
2 tbsp cocoa
4 tbsp chopped hazelnuts

Preheat your oven to 80'c. In a clean bowl whisk up your egg whites.

I have an amazing hand whisk given to me by a recently married friend. It whisks eggs quicker than breaking them.....

But just keep going until they stand in stiff peaks....

Add the caster sugar a tbsp at a time whisking as you do. Then get a metal spoon and carefully fold in the sieved icing sugar. Be careful not to knock the air out. Sieve the cocoa over the top and cut through it with the side of the spoon (but don't beat it in). It should create a nice marbled look.

Line a baking tray. Scoop heaped tablespoons of the meringue onto a baking tray. Sprinkle each one with a tsp of hazelnuts.

Pop in the oven for 2 hours.

You know they are ready when you can easily pick them off the baking tray and tap the bottoms. They should sound hollow. These one are a bit squidgy in the middle. If you want them drier just leave them in the oven for longer.

The recipe makes seven and that's enough for one each because they are quite big. If you want to give people 2 smaller meringues I think it would make around 12.

Tuesday, 16 March 2010

Baking biscotti....

I have always carried around in my head the idea of not having to work. To wake up in the morning. Pancakes, bacon and maple syrup for breakfast. A gentle work out with my personal trainer Steve (did I tell you in my head I've won the Euromillions as well?) I swim in my pool. Go out for lunch. Watch Murder She Wrote. Drink tea and eat biscuits...etc etc.

The nearest I get is the Murder She Wrote part and the biscuits. I know it's a bit 1950's housewife but one of my favourite parts of the day is when my other half gets home (I work earlies) and I have something he can eat. We sit and drink tea and talk about our day. Today I've got cashew nut biscotti in the oven. Except I know he won't like them. They're too....nutty. If it's not covered in chocolate, he's not interested.

Cashew Nut Biscotti (Makes about 14)

5oz cashew nuts
1oz chopped hazelnuts
3 egg whites
6oz caster sugar
4oz plain flour
spray oil

Preheat the oven to 180'c. Spread the nuts on a baking tray and toast in the oven. Set aside and leave to cool. In a bowl whisk up the egg white until they make stiff peaks.... Add the sugar a little bit at a time while continuing to whisk.

Sieve the flour and add one tbsp at a time. Fold it in carefully. Then add the nuts.

Spray a swiss roll tin. Spread the mixture across it.

Bake in the oven for 25 minutes.

Slice into fingers.

Place back in the oven for 15 minutes until crispy.

These can be stored in an air tight tin for up to a week.

Serve with a frothy hot chocolate and a conversation about what you've done today.

Monday, 15 March 2010

Ooodles of noodles....

Sometimes I can't help but judge people by their shopping baskets. As I que behind them I take a peek at what they are unpacking and try and guess who they are and what they do. Trolleys filled with orange juice, yogurts, biscuits and bread probably have teenage boys ready to graze the household. Baskets with budget vodka, pizzas and ready meals....students.

But if you want to judge me you need to look in my spice cupboard. Open the door and you'll find a clear list of evidence of the foods I with cook regularly (soy sauce, nam pla, honey, cinnamon, sweet chilli sauce) the sometimes sauces (Worcestershire, redcurrant, ketchup) and the token spices (star anise..one day boys I promise I'll get you out of the packet.)

On a Sunday there is nothing better than a plateful of noodles filled with different textures. Crunchy vegetables, delicate prawns and sweet, sticky chilli sauce.

The sweet chilli sauce makes regular outings from my cupboard always leaving a trail of sticky, red splodges behind it. I use Nigella's recipe which you find here. It's fantastic and perfect with everything from cold meats, to a piece of Cornish yarg....but even better with a plateful of noodles.....

Egg Fried Noodles with Prawns and Sweet Chilli Sauce....(serves 2)

200g/7oz fresh prawns
125g/4oz dried egg noodles
2 eggs
1 garlic clove
4 handfuls of chopped vegetables (I used red pepper, beansprouts, pak choi and courgette)
2 tbsp groundnut oil
4 heaped tbsp sweet chilli sauce

Chop your vegetables into small chunks. Crack two eggs into a small bowl and whisk. Pour some boiling water over your noodles and put to one side. Put 1tbsp of the oil in a wok and put over a high heat. Add the crushed garlic and the vegetables and stir fry. I started off just frying the courgette and peppers because they take a little longer than the others. When they start to brown add the prawns. While the prawns and cooking pan another pan on the heat and add the rest of the oil. Add the noodles and stir fry. Add the eggs and keep of stirring until the egg is cooked.

Keep stirring the prawns until they turn pink.

Add 2 tbsp of the chilli sauce....

Give it a good stir. Then add the eggy noodles and stir again.

Plate up and top each plate with another tbsp of chilli sauce.

Saturday, 13 March 2010

Goose egg sponge....

There's something bewitching about baking. Spending an hour mixing four basic ingredients together and creating something wonderful. This morning I introduced my arms to the sunshine for the first time this year and picked up hundreds (that's no exaggeration) of rocks out of my allotment. I'm hoping my vegetable patch will be much like baking...a few ingredients; soil, seeds, water and sunshine with a delicious outcome.

On the way home I pulled into the layby at Perranaworthal and picked up some Olive and Thyme Bread from Vicky's Bread...

This is the first time I've had her bread. It's quite unlike most commercial bread. It's chewy and crunchy at the same time. Big, fat, juicy green and black olives spread throughout it which almost give a strong Italian savoury taste.

I spread a teaspoon of apple chutney across one piece and squash a fat mejool date across another slice. Delicious....

Now I'm at home and I wanted to bake. I'd been given a white, glossy goose egg from a neighbour....

Truthfully, I had no idea what to do with it. It's too big to boil, surely?

It was massive!

I weighed it in its shell and decided to see how it would taste in a sponge. So I weighed out equal measures of self raising flour, caster sugar and butter and whipped them up with the goose egg.

I added a teaspoon of vanilla extract and spooned into a lined tin. I then popped it into a 180'c oven for 25 minutes until golden brown.....

The sponge was a deep yellow and in the same way the olives made the cake taste "savoury" the goose egg seemed to give the cake a richer more "cakey" taste.

Spread with a couple of tablespoons of strawberry jam. Emma Bridgewater says on her new tea towel "Total Happiness is a cup of tea and a new magazine and a bar of chocolate." Well stuff the chocolate.....