Sunday, 31 July 2011

Savoury Cheese Flapjacks

A quick recipe post, to share a surprising recent flapjack success.
I picked up 'The Mornflake Oat Cuisine' recipe book in a discount bookshop for 99p, because mainly I felt sorry for it. A bad habit of mine - pitying books being sold in low-class establishments has led to a surprising number of equally surprising titles appearing on our bookshelves, or being given as gifts.

Flicking through it, I saw a recipe for cheese flapjacks, and my initial reactions was 'eurgh'. However the idea stuck in my mind, and so a couple of weeks ago I decided to give the recipe a shot, and the results were surprisingly very very good.

I made these with goats cheese and goats yoghurt so that I could eat them - but I imagine they would be equally nice, if not nicer with cows milk and 'real' cheese. After eating them, I think they would be an excellent toddler snack - the yogurt and cheese pack in lots of calcium, the oats lots of slow release energy, no sugar and portable. Sadly not for Mini-M just yet - she's still a dairy free baby.

Savoury Cheese Flapjacks (makes 16)
  • 225g rolled oats
  • 100g grated cheese - I used hard goats cheese
  • 75g margarine - I used soya
  • 150ml yoghurt - I used goats yoghurt
  • 1 egg, beaten
  • A pinch of black pepper
Preheat oven to 180C (170 fan oven/ 350F/ Gas 4).
Grease a 23cm/9in cake tin (I used sunflower spray)
Mix the oats and grated cheese in a large bowl.
Melt the margarine (microwave or pan is fine), then stir it into the oats and cheese, along with the yoghurt, egg and black pepper.
Tip into the prepared tin and spread evenly into the corners.
Bake for 25-30mins until golden brown.
Remove from the oven and cut into slices, the leave to cool in the tin.

We ate some dunked in lettuce, potato and pea soup, and it was great! Very easy to make, and they kept very well for a week, but which point they were all gone...

Saturday, 30 July 2011

A Picture A Day: Week 30

It's been a sunshiney week this week, hectic but lots of fun. We seem to have survived Mini-M's immunisation boosters relatively unscathed, and of course, spent last weekend celebrating her 1st birthday. So all in all, a rather lovely week.

Saturday 23rd July
My birthday! And it would appear that I didn't take any pictures at all today - eep! Stealing this one from Friday 22nd - we were lucky to have some lovely friends babysit and we went out for dinner, to reminisce on the past year, and congratulate ourselves for surviving it relatively unscathed. Definitely better than last year's birthday, spent still in hospital after Mini-M was discharged to go home, and I wasn't (she stayed too out of solidarity)! This pic was taken at the Shore in Leith, where we found a handy wall to self-timer on.

Sunday 24th July
Mini-M's 1st birthday party, shared with family and friends at Beanscene in Hawick. This was whilst we were singing happy birthday and Mini-M was doing some extreme arm waving.

Monday 25th July
Biscuits basking the sunshine! These were made to use up the left over mixture from the giraffe biscuits that went on Mini-M's birthday cake.

Tuesday 26th July
Baby tigger making a break for it...

Wednesday 27th July
Possibly the worst photo in the world! But the only one I took today so it will have to do :o(. This is actually of some very lovely and tasty raising and chocolate chip tablet. But a) the blue cling wrap, and b) taking it in awful lighting at 11pm on my phone have somehow made it look like a cake tin of something vile. Sorry!

Thursday 28th July
Rowan trees bent over with berries. Taken next to Powderhall bowling green. It's a good job that this picture isn't scented, since it was taken next to the railway waste loading depot, which smelled particularly nasty in the warm weather this week.

Friday 29th July
Mini-M wearing crisps in her hair, all over her face babygrow, and smushing noodles into the table. Activities which necessitated bath no.2 of the evening shortly after!

Wednesday, 27 July 2011

The Daring Bakers July 2011 Challenge: (Not Exactly) Fresh Fraisiers

Jana of Cherry Tea Cakes was our July Daring Bakers' host and she challenges us to make French Fraisiers inspired by recipes written by Elisabeth M. Prueitt and Chad Robertson in the beautiful cookbook Tartine.

So.... for those of us who are unenlightened in the terminology of French patisserie (i.e. me, before this challenge), a Fraisier is a luxurious strawberry cream gateux. It has a chiffon cake layer on the bottom, moistened with a sugar syrup, and is filled with fresh strawberries, set pastry cream and whipped cream, topped with more sponge and a thin layer of almond marzipan.

This gorgeous picture is one made by the host of this challenge - the very talented Jana who blogs at Cherry Tea Cakes.

For a variety of reasons, what I made is absolutely NOTHING like the above description!

I can't have cream, so my Fraisier was going to have to be coconut based (I am such a fan of how you can whip chilled coconut milk like double cream - it has been my saviour during several Daring Bakers' challenges now). I didn't have strawberries (but i did have some tinned peaches that were open in the fridge and needed using up). The cake recipe for chiffon cake specified in the challenge involved a fair bit of electric whisking to get the eggs whites to stiff peaks. Mini-M was again asleep in her room above the kitchen, so electric whisking was a no-no, and instead I concocted my own coconutty sponge recipe. By this point I was feeling a fairly tropical vibe, so decided to make my sugar syrup a dark rum syrup (which to be honest I could have drunk by the glass, it was so good!). After all of that, I decided to skip the marzipan layer, because a) I wasn't sure it would fit with the tropical vibe, b) my cake was domed on top, and I didn't want to cut it off to marzipan it, and c) I didn't have any!

So here is my un-Fraisier!

And here are my recipes...

Tropical Coconut Sponge Cake:
Makes 1 8in cake.
  • 2 eggs
  • Approx 100g self raising flour
  • Approx 100g dairy free margarine (or use the real stuff if you prefer!)
  • Appprox 100g soft brown sugar
  • 25g dessicated coconut
  • 1/2tsp pineapple essence.

Firstly, weigh the eggs (in their shells). The weight of your flour, margarine and soft brown sugar should equal them. For example, mine weighted 108g, so I weighed 108g of flour, 108g of sugar etc. This might seem like a trivial difference here, but it allows the recipe to work well for a wide variety of egg sizes.
Cream the margarine and sugar until light and fluffy, then beat in the eggs and pineapple essence. Add the flour and coconut and mix until combined. Pour into a greased tin, and bake in a preheated oven at about 160C (Fan) / 180C conventional. Once a skewer comes out clean it is done - probably about 25-30 mins.
Allow to cook for a couple of minutes then tip out of the tin.

Dark Rum Syrup
  • 40g soft brown sugar
  • 4tbsp water
  • 2tbsp dark rum

Put all ingredients in a small saucepan over a relatively low heat for a few minutes to let the sugar dissolve. Bring the mixture to a boil, then remove from the heat and allow to cool slightly.

Coconut Pastry Cream
  • 1 400ml tin of coconut milk
  • 1/4 tsp vanilla extract
  • A pinch of salt
  • 1 tbsp cornflour
  • 30g sugar (I used granulated, but probably caster would have been better)
  • 1 medium egg
  • 1tbsp dairy free margarine (but butter would be nicer!)
  • 1 leaf of gelatine

So, about a week before you want to make this, put a tin of coconut milk in the back of your fridge and forget about it. I generally keep one there most of the time, so that I don't have to wait a week to bake. Put the cornflour (sieved) and sugar in a mixing bowl, and mix with an electric whisk until combined (on slow speed, otherwise you'll fill your kitchen and lungs with clouds of cornflour dust. I speak from experience).
Add the egg and whisk until smooth and well combined.
Open your tin of coconut milk carefully, and you should be able to see that it has separated into really thick, almost solid cream, and much runnier watery milk. Pour off 125ml of the milk into a pan, add the salt and vanilla extract. Heat until scalded (i.e. almost at boiling point). Then with the whisk running, carefully pour the hot coconut milk into the egg mixture. Decant back into the pan you just heated the milk in and cook over a low-medium heat stirring constantly until the custard has thickened enough to coat the back of a spoon. Remove from the heat, and stir in the margarine. Allow to cool for about 10 minutes.
Take the rest of the tin of coconut milk (whatever is left of the runny milk, plus the solid cream) and beat until it forms stiff peaks.
Put the sheet of gelatine in a bowl of cold water and leave to soak for about 5 minutes. Drain and squeeze out the excess water.
Put the gelatine into a large microwavable bowl, and microwave on high power for 10 seconds to melt it. Then pour in the custard and mix well. Fold in the whipped coconut cream, and some chopped fruit of your choice. I used about 6 tinned peach slices. Phew! That's all the components made...

Assembly. I lined the tin I had baked the cake in with clingfilm, cut the cake in half, and put the bottom half back into the tin. I drizzled over the syrup, and dolloped on the creamy filling until it reached the top of the tin. I balanced the other half of the cake on top, wrapped it all in clingfilm and left it in the fridge overnight to chill, then carefully unwrapped.

This may have been a very haphazard corruption of what I'm sure is a very delicious and sophisticated dessert, but oh my goodness it was tasty! Sometimes experiments turn out well - this was one of them :o)

Saturday, 23 July 2011

Happy Birthday "Tutu" you!

So Mini-M turned 1 yesterday - the past year has gone past at breakneck speed, yet been one of the longest ever too.

Both Mr E and I were busy in the run up to her birthday creating some homemade presents. I think we both figured that she didn't really need anything, but wanted to do something special to mark the occasion.

He illustrated her an original board book - which I have a sneaking suspicion may appear here in a future post, based on the number of pictures taken of it.

I made her a tie-on voile "tutu" since she likes playing with little bits of things - paper, material, you name it! I also shocked myself with my own organisation, and started sewing some felt food back in early June, and finished it a whole week in advance. Unheard of - I'm normally an epic night before into the small hours of the morning finisher!

Anyway, without further waffle, here are some photos of her presents...

Working the babygrow and tutu look

Scientific tutu & crawling experimentation

Cake time :o) Chocolate swiss roll, Battenburg, Blueberry muffin, Cinnamon danish, Empire biscuit, Lemon macaroon

Cinnamon danish

Empire biscuit

Blueberry muffin

Lemon macaroon

Friday, 22 July 2011

A Picture A Day: Week 29

Writing this quite late on the 22nd July, which means it is Mini-M's birthday (- and very almost mine)! She features rather heavily in this week's pictures - and rightly so!!

Saturday 16th July
Mr E working on Mini-M's birthday present (more about that in a future post...)

Sunday 17th July
Playing with the fridge magnets - naked Homer and his blue trousers are favourites, followed by the ninja sheep, and the memo clip. Not exactly baby safe toys, but all the more enticing as a result - hence the close supervision from Auntie L, who came and babysat so we could go and see the final Harry Potter installment. Very exciting!

Monday 18th July
Drinking from a sippy cup. Or actually not, because Mini-M has yet to realise that you need to tip it up to make the water come out. More specifically, you need to tip it up once in your mouth - she is very good at tipping it up out of her mouth, and watering the table, her lap, the carpet and anyone within sprinkling distance. Just not drinking from it.

Tuesday 19th July
Being allowed to open a birthday present a few days early to divert attention from sore teeth, a bitten tongue and another runny nose. Wrapping paper clearly requires a lot of concentration and close inspection.

Wednesday 20th July
This week my reading material has hit an all time literary low. But sometimes some 'completely disengage brain' trash is quite relaxing.

Thursday 21st July
Meditating? Looking at something tiny and small in her hand, that is so tiny and small it can't be seen on camera, and actually probably wasn't picked up at all, but is still lying on the carpet?

Friday 22nd July
Mini-M is 1!!!! Mr E brought her up and we had a birthday picnic at in Queen St gardens during my lunch break. Taking self portraits of the 2 of us pre-Mini-M was challenging enough... at least we're all in it :o)

Saturday, 16 July 2011

C&D's Wedding Cake: Fruitcake with Orange Marzipan, Royal Icing and Chocolate Roses

Furiously back posting at the moment to try to get caught up with the photo queue waiting in iPhoto.

So, back in May (shockingly long ago, I know) I posted the bottom tier of C&D's wedding cake. Now I'm posting the top - be warned - it is a LONG post but with lots of pictures! And hopefully the middle will follow in the not too distant future (before their 1st wedding anniversary at least!).

The top was an 8" traditional fruit cake covered with homemade marzipan and royal icing. I made chocolate roses and leaves to go on top.

I made the cake a fortnight in advance, and fed it with a little cherry brandy, then wrapped it tightly in greaseproof paper and cling film until I was ready to ice it, the following week.

My recipe is adapted from a Delia one, which also gives helpful hints on scaling up cake recipe quantities for tiers. I've used this recipe a few times now, and it has always been a success. It does mature well, but the beauty of it is that it really doesn't have to - it is moist and delicious straight after it has cooled, which is a great bonus to someone like me who has a tendency of leaving things to the last minute...

I made this particular cake gluten free, by using Dove's Farm gluten free plain flour blend, and adding a little extra liquid (treacle and brandy) to the mixture, because the flour tends to be a bit drier than regular.

Rich Fruit Cake (Makes 1 8in cake)
  • 450g currants (I used Vostizza currants)
  • 175g sultanas
  • 175g raisins
  • 50g undyed glace cherries
  • 50g dried apricots
  • 50g almonds (skin on)
  • 3tbsp cherry liqueur (add an extra one if you're making the gluten free version)
  • 225g plain flour (regular or gluten free)
  • a generous pinch of salt
  • 1/4tsp freshly grated nutmeg
  • 1/2tsp mixed spice
  • 225g soft brown sugar
  • 1tbsp black treacle (add a little extra if you're going gluten free)
  • 225g unsalted butter
  • 4 large eggs
  • grated rind of 1 lemon
  • grated rind of 1 orange

The night before you want to bake, finely chop the glace cherries, dried apricots and almonds then put all the dried fruits and nuts in a bowl with the brandy. Mix well (to make sure everything gets a little bit wet with brandy), cover, and leave to soak for at least 12hours and preferably 24hrs.
When you're ready to get baking, preheat the oven to 140C (130 if you're using a fan oven). Grease and line an 8" tin (springform or loose bottom) with baking parchment.
Sift the flour, salt and spices together into a bowl. In a large bowl, cream the butter and sugar well until light and fluffy. Beat the eggs in a mug, then add them little by little to the butter mixture. If it looks like it is starting to curdle, add a tbsp of flour, and that should bring it back together.
Once all the egg has been added, mix in the flour gently. Then add all the fruit, nuts and soaking liqueur, the treacle, and the grated orange and lemon rind, then give it some welly and mix mix mix! You need to get the fruit evenly distributed, and it's quite a large quantity.
Pour the mixture into the prepared tin. Cut a double circle of baking parchment the same size as the top of the tin, then snip a 1" hole out of the centre, and cover the top of the cake.
You can get fancy heat distributing silicone strip things to go round the outside of cake tins to ensure even cooking, but I didn't have any, so chose the old fashioned approach, and tied a folded sheet of brown paper around the tin for extra insulation.
Bake on the lowest oven shelf, and exercise patience: resist the temptation to open the door and have a peek before at least 4 hrs have passed. Baking time is approximately 4.5 to 4.75hrs. This one took closer to the 4.75hr mark, but it depends on your oven etc.
When it is cold, wrap in a double layer of greaseproof paper and then a double layer of clingfilm, and it will mature nicely for a couple of weeks.
If you want to give it a boozy edge, unwrap periodically, and drizzle over a few tsp more of cherry liqueur.

I made my own marzipan to cover it, using this recipe for zesty orange marzipan from the BBC GoodFood magazine. The recipe also has a lot of useful info about cooked vs raw egg marzipan, storing it, and drying it out so that the cake will last a couple of months.

I'd never made marzipan before - it was so easy! And it tasted so much fresher and less cloyingly sweet and artificially almondy than some of the ready made varieties. I definitely recommend the recipe, and it does make a difference to the overall cake taste.

When it came to icing the cake, I first brushed it all over with melted shredless marmalade, then rolled out my marzipan and draped it over. I smoothed down the sides and a couple of little cracks around the edges, trimmed away the excess, and then left to dry out over night. This step is important in getting your cake to keep well - the moisture from the raw eggs needs to dry out.

I let the marzipan dry out for 24hrs, then iced it with royal icing. I made mine using royal icing sugar, which already has powdered egg white in it, but you can also use normal icing sugar and fresh egg white. I also added a couple of drops of glycerine to prevent it having a really hard set.

I decided to go for a textured finish - I spread it on generously to the top and sides, with a large palate knife, then swirled the top, and ran the knife vertically up the sides to create ridges.

To decorate, I made chocolate roses using 50% modelling chocolate and 50% fondant icing that I kneaded well together (actually I got Mr E to do it, as there was no way my weakling wrists were going to hold out!). There are lots of good tutorials available online how to do this, and it really is quite easy - you'll be surprised!

I made some chocolate rose leaves marbled with white and dark chocolate to finish the whole thing off - which created some comedy looking naked roses in the process!

Epic post over!!!!! Well done to anyone that actually read it - or even scrolled through this far looking at the pictures. It means the next cake I have to make, I have no excuses for not being able to lay my hands on the recipe tho... and that was the main point of this blog!

Crushed Pineapple Crumble

The other night after having soup for dinner, we decided that we wanted pudding, and it had to be something properly pudding-y rather than an ice lolly or a piece of fruit.

After a quick scout around the kitchen cupboards, the best we could find as a basis was a tin of crushed pineapple. Turns out it makes a pretty awesome crumble!

Pineapple Crumble (Serves 4)
  • 1 tin of crushed pineapple, drained
  • 1tsp honey
  • 1tsp brown sugar
  • 1tsp of the drained juice
  • 1 pinch of ground cinnamon
  • A splash of lemon juice or a little grated lemon zest
  • 3 ginger nut biscuits (most brands are dairy free)
  • 4 or 5 walnuts
  • 4 0r 5 almonds
  • 2 level tbsp margarine (about 40g) (dairy free worked just fine)
  • 3 tbsp flour
  • 1 tbsp sugar
  • 1 pinch of cinnamon
  • 1 pinch allspice

Mix the crushed pineapple with the honey, brown sugar, lemon and cinnamon and put into the bottom of your baking dish.

Blitz the nuts and ginger nuts to crumbs in a food processor or with a blender - or chop them finely.
Mix the flour, sugar, nuts and spices together. Rub in the margarine until it resembles breadcrumbs (they will be quite lumpy breadcrumbs because of the nuts).
Sprinkle over the pineapple, and bake at about 180 C for 20 mins, until the top looks crunchy and golden brown.

We ate it with vanilla ice cream (soya ice cream in my case) and it was a great flavour combination (minus the weird soya-y taste of course!).

This is a great store cupboard pudding - it would be lovely in the winter too, when nice fresh fruit can be a bit scarce and expensive to be cooking with.

Friday, 15 July 2011

A Picture A Day: Week 28

Posting my pictures on time this week. Looking through my iPhoto has made me realise I've got a pretty long blogging queue, of some tasty kitchen experiments and some more crafty makes to get through. Challenging myself to manage another 2 posts over the weekend.... since the weather forecast is awful and our planned camping trip has been postponed!

Saturday 9th July
Rain - torrential, with thunder and lightning. Obviously captured neither of the latter two in this picture, and if it weren't for the person with the brolly, it wouldn't really look like it was even raining, but trust me it was tipping it down! Turns out rain is hard to take pictures of.

Sunday 10th July
Spent some quality time with my sewing machine today - this was taken in the middle of sewing tassels onto a friend's 1920s fancy dress costume. What do you mean, you don't have a monster on your hand when you sew? (Seriously, it was a remnant of entertaining Mini-M with these temporary transfers! She found if pretty entertaining, so at least I didn't look ridiculous for nothing)

Monday 11th July
"Little Ear" filled pasta waiting to go into the beetroot soup as part of my July Daring Cooks' Challenge

Tuesday 12th July
Tonight was night 5 of Harry Potter week - we've been watching all the films in sequence in preparation to seeing the last one sometime soon. And yes, there is an elephant wearing a woolly hat on our TV unit. And a lego mini-figure, and quite a lot of dust. Just call us interior design trendsetters...

Wednesday 13th July
Apologies for this photo. Yes, it is of a chewed nectarine stone. Yes, I know it is not a nice thing to take a picture of. But I didn't take pictures of anything else today, so we're stuck with it. This picture was taken in amazement at the amount of nectarine that Mini-M had successfully managed to feed herself - i.e. all of it!!! Very sticky and very happy she was too :o)

Thursday 14th July
Mini-M demonstrating the maximum friction method of crawling she is currently pioneering.

Friday 15th July
A lovely new quarterly magazine I discovered. It has been lovely Friday night reading, and will no doubt inspire some future sewing machine experiments.


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