Tuesday, 28 May 2013

Daring Bakers' May 2013 - A poor and distant relation of Swedish Princesstarta!

Late again, but hopefully still better than never! Yep - it's Daring Bakers' posting time again, where I generally blog something that bears only a very tenuous resemblance to the challenge recipe, after having substituted here and there to make it dairy free, and often turned the ambition factor down a little in the name of actually getting it made at all. And this month is no exception...

Korena of Korena in the Kitchen was our May Daring Bakers' host and she delighted us with this beautiful Swedish Pricesstarta!

Here's her description... "Layers of light sponge cake, raspberry jam, and a vanilla custard/pastry cream, topped with a mound of fluffy whipped cream, covered in green marzipan, and garnished with a marzipan rose"

Messy cross-section - food styling is not my forte - but you get the idea!
Shall we go through that list?

  • Light sponge cake - nope (mine was rather dense due to completely winging the recipe, and only having one egg, so not bothering whisking!)
  • Raspberry jam - nope - I've only just realised that I forgot this. The only blooming bit that was actually dairy-free to begin with, and I missed it out - oops!
  • Vanilla custard/pastry cream - nope although I did use soya custard in the sponge to make up for the lack of eggs.... that's got to count for something, right?
  • A mound of fluffy whipped cream - nope - no mound and no whipped cream. I did mix thick coconut cream with strawberries and stick it in the middle, so there was at least a slightly creamy element.
  • Covered in green marzipan - nope - I didn't have enough, so it was most definitely not covered, rather perched on the top
  • Garnished with a marzipan rose - Check!!!!
So basically, I made an entirely different cake, and stuck a rose on top. Princesstarta in disguise, or the opposite, whatever that is called!

But the resulting cake was tasty and pretty - and that's really the key competencies in any cake's job description, with the former generally taking precedence over the latter. 

Trying to look hard like a Princesstarta
Of course, if you'd like to see what it should have looked like, take a look at the slideshow on the Daring Kitchen website and see what everyone else has created - there are some real stunners there!

No recipe today - my cake was a bit of an ad-hoc experiment, however I shall attempt to repeat, improve and record it, because a cake you can make with a box of ready made custard rather than fresh eggs is always useful... you know, for all of those frequent occasions where you find yourself with an abundance of one and none of the other (it could happen?!).

Although I have to say my favourite thing about this cake was that we ate it outside, in the garden, post BBQ and paddling pool session - which makes any food immediately taste a million times better than it would indoors. Particularly in Scotland when such days are rare - especially in May!

Cake - in sunlight!!! (This may be the only post this year where the two coincide)

Saturday, 18 May 2013

Date Stuffed Porridge Muffins - Pantry Party!

A very quick post - my alarm is set for 05:50am tomorrow, and it's already 9:30pm - I need to get to bed sharpish, otherwise tomorrow is going to get off to a very groggy and grumpy start...

But I also wanted to write down the recipe for these before I forget, since they are a result of the 'chucking things in as you go' variety of baking.

I've made porridge muffins a few times recently because they're healthy, filling, and great for mid morning snack at work when breakfast and lunch seem equally far off in different directions, or for the always hungry Mini-M.

Porridge as portable finger food!
In honour of the Pantry Party blog challenge, hosted at The Law Student's Cookbook I've jazzed them up a bit (and made them slightly more random...) The idea is to make something on a theme (which for may is 'Stuffed') that uses one of the ingredients lurking at the back of your pantry.

My chosen ingredient is Grape Nuts - I've had a box open forever and we're all too scared to eat them for fear of our fillings - they are seriously crunchy! So I thought they would be ideal candidates to add to the oat mix, since it soaks for an hour before baking. And to tie in with the 'Stuffed' theme, I stuffed with with dates, by adding half a stoned date to the middle of each muffin.

Date Stuffed Porridge Muffins (makes 12 small muffins)

  • 1 cup pinhead oatmeal
  • 1/4 cup Grape Nuts cereal
  • 1 cup almond milk (I used unsweetened)
  • 1/3 cup fruit puree (I used a pot of baby food - apple banana and peach flavour this time!)
  • 1 egg
  • 2 tbsp self raising flour
  • 6 stoned dates, halved

Mix together the oatmeal, Grape Nuts, almond milk and fruit puree then leave to soak for around an hour.
After the soaking is finished, preheat the oven to 180C (160C fan) and grease a 12 hole bun tin.
Add the egg and the flour to the oat mixture and beat well to combined.
Dollop a tsp of mixture into the bottom of each but tin, then add half a date. Cover with the remaining mixture.
Bake for around 25 mins until slightly risen, golden brown and firm to the touch.
Prise carefully from the tins and cool on a wire rack.

Looking unassuming, keeping their date centres secret
These keep well in an air tight tin - although we generally get through a batch in 3 days, so I can't comment on longer than that!

I'm looking forward to my early breakfast now... I suspect I'll be grabbing one of these as I rush out the door.

Hello breakfast - you'd probably go well with a coffee - I'll probably not have time to drink one!

Thursday, 16 May 2013

We Should Cocoa - Mango and Orange 4 Ingredient Chocolate Brownies

I should be writing this recipe as a guest post for Mr E's  4 Ingredient Recipes site... but I'm keeping it for myself, since it's a good one!

Sometimes you want healthy, sometimes you want challenging, sometimes you want pretty... sometimes you want very easy, very quick, decadent, no scales involved and great for gift giving, still warm from the oven. This falls into that latter category (and definitely not the first!).

Smudgy lens (courtesy of Mini-M's sticky fingers) = unintentional soft focus!
Recipes that involve 1 bowl and no scales are onto a winner when life is busy and time short. Add to that that they only take 20 mins in the oven and they tick even more boxes.

You could use any chocolate spread to make these. I used Plamil Organic Orange Chocolate Spread, with a little reluctance in my heart... I shall explain: I'd bought myself a jar to have in the cupboard as a dairy free treat (and putting chocolate spread on toast or bread is a sure fire way to make it instantly unappealing to Mini-M who's still resolutely a chocolate hater). But when I opened it was super runny. Delicious, but it would lead to soggy sandwiches. So I decided to use it to make these brownies for my lovely sister-in-law's birthday, and I have it on good authority that it worked - and she's a chocolate connoisseur! However my secret chocolate toast supply has been somewhat diminished!

Mango and Orange Chocolate Brownies (Makes 8 small / 4 medium brownies)

  • 1/2 cup chocolate spread
  • 40g dried mango
  • 1 egg
  • 5 tbsp self raising flour

Grease a small baking dish, or some cupcake moulds, and preheat the oven to 180C (160C fan).
Chop the dried mango into small pieces.
Add the chocolate spread and mix (or beat until softened depending on the consistency of your chocolate spread to begin with).
Crack in the egg and beat again.
Lastly, sieve in the flour and mix until well combined.
Pour into the prepared dish and bake for around 20 mins, until risen and cracked on top, but not too firm - you want to leave a gooey brownie centre too.

I'm submitting these for May's mango-themed "We Should Cocoa"challenge which is hosted this month by Shaheen at  Allotment 2 Kitchen, and masterminded by the Chocolate Log Blog and the Chocolate Teapot.

Tuesday, 14 May 2013

Daring Cooks: En Croute!

Whilst I was typing the post title, my choice of punctuation made me think of a little line of chefs being shouted at by a bossy head chef, and all brandishing their kitchen knives like battle is about to commence. It made me smile, so I thought I'd share!

But now back to the matter in hand (since I've already deviated before I've even started) - the May Daring Cooks' Challenge.

Our lovely Monkey Queen of Don't Make Me Call My Flying Monkeys, was our  May Daring Cooks' hostess and she challenged us to five into the world of en Croute! We were encouraged to make Beef Wellington, Stuffed Mushroom en Croute and to bring our kids into the challenge by encouraging them to create their own en Croute recipes!

Well, I have to confess, I abandoned the instructions almost at the outset - I didn't want to make the Beef Wellington since doing it properly is quite a lot of work and expense. The mushroom one sounded good but unfortunately cheesy, so I decided to class myself as a kid and create my own instead.

And so, we ended up with Lentil and Beetroot Loaf En Croute. Which was cheap, fairly easy, moderately healthy and really tasty.

I concocted the loaf recipe myself, then used a cornmeal crust I'd saved from a magazine clipping (minus the butter and cheese).

Lentil and Beetroot Loaf En Croute (Serves 6)

The Loaf
  • 100g buckwheat groats - preferably toasted (you can get them in most Polish shops - they are called kasza gryczana)
  • 1 small onion
  • 4 small beetroot
  • 4 leaves wild garlic / 1 clove regular garlic
  • 150g red lentils
  • 1 pint vegetable stock
  • 1 tsp Marmite
  • 1/2 tsp dried thyme
  • 1 tbsp olive oil
  • 1/4 tsp grated nutmeg
Peel and finely chop the onion and beetroot.
Wash and thinly slice the wild garlic
Heat the oil in a medium saucepan, and sauté the onion, garlic and beetroot for a few minutes.
Add the rest of the ingredients and bring to the boil.
Simmer for 30 mins until the liquid is absorbed.
Preheat oven to 180C (160C fan).
Tip the mixture into a loaf tin (or mini loaf tins) and bake for about 30 mins until firm to the touch and browned on top.
Allow to cool and turn carefully out of the tin.

The Cornmeal Pastry
  • 2 cups plain flour
  • 1 cup medium polenta
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 2/3 cup dairy free margarine
  • Cold water to mix
Mix together the flour, polenta and salt, then rub in the margarine until mixture begins to look like coarse breadcrumbs.
Add the cold water a 1tbsp at a time until the mixture can be formed into a coherent ball.

  • 1 egg beaten
Roll out the pastry thinly (I was trying to get it less than 1/2 centimetre and that seemed to work well).
Use it to wrap your loaves (big or small), just like a birthday present. Re-roll the trimmings.
Place seam side down on a greased baking sheet, and decorate as you choose, then brush with the beaten egg.
Bake at 180C for about 30 mins until pastry is golden.

We ate our with broccoli stir fried with smoked garlic, chilli and sesame, plus some gravy!

Thanks for a very tasty challenge :-)

PS - Mr E took up the en croute challenge too - it's been a pastry-wrapped month for us, chez Makey-Cakey. He made... squirrel en croute. No, really. (And it was tasty!) He went with Mini-M on a squirrel procuring mission to a local Sunday market and on their return, Mini-M excitedly told me Daddy was going to be cooking squirrel, asked what the squirrel's name was, and whether Daddy was going to cook it's eyes ?!?!?! At least she didn't seem too fazed by the concept...

Thursday, 9 May 2013

A New Tradition

We've started a new tradition - although just a small scale, Saturday teatime, chez Makey-Cakey tradition.

Unsurprisingly it involves cake. Sponge pudding to be precise.

We've decided that Saturday tea time is sponge pudding time, and we get to take it in turns to choose what additional flavourings go into it.

Microwave sponge pudding with squirty cream - I'm feeling an 80s vibe...
It's a multi-purpose sort of tradition - it means that requests for pudding and cake from Mini-M can be diverted to Saturday tea time, and yoghurt and fruit can prevail throughout the rest of the week. I like the idea of there being a recipe that Mini-M knows how to make back to front, inside out, no recipe books required. And it adds and element of both making choices and taking turns.

Egg cracking - not sure who's helping who here! (Save that I'm obviously not helping at all, and taking photos instead!)
I wanted a base recipe to use that was easy and preferably oven free, so after a bit of research, decided to put my trust in the Microwave Technologies Association 'Essential Steamed Pudding'. I figured that f anyone knew anything about a successful microwave sponge, it would be them!

Super high speed mixing - most remained in the bowl
As usual I de-dairied it, and we've been halving it which has still made plenty for Saturday pud with leftovers for Sunday. You can find the original recipe here.

Special Saturday Steamed Sponge (Serves 4)

  • 65g dairy free margarine
  • 75g caster sugar
  • 1 egg
  • 100g SR flour
  • 30ml non-dairy milk
  • Added flavours of your choice!

Measure the butter and sugar into a microwave proof bowl.
Cream together until well mixed, then beat in the egg.
Add the flour - beating extra hard if you can't be bothered to sieve!
Stir in your chosen flavours and level the top of the mix in the bowl. Give the sides a wee wipe with a cloth if you're feeling keen.
Cover with clingfilm, poke a couple of holes in it, and microwave - 8 mins at 80% of our category E microwave did the trick. I'd go with dropping the power a little below 100%, and going for 4 mins straight off, checking and then zapping it for an additional minute at a time until it is firm to the touch.

Enjoy! (We seem to be favouring it served with milk - if only to cool it down to a safe eating temperature faster - after the mixing and anticipation, sometimes waiting for cooling down is a bit too much for Mini-M).

We've put our newfangled tradition into practice for a month now, and the taking turns to choose flavours has been a little biased... Mini-M has had 3 choices, and Mr E 1 - perhaps this Saturday will be my day!

First up we went with chopped up tinned apricots (the picture at the top of the post) - Mini-M got stuck into the chopping. They're soft enough to yield easily to a butter knife, so she could be safely let loose without too much worry.

No small fingers were harmed in the making of this pudding
Next we had raspberry flavour which Mr E and Mini-M made in Granny S' kitchen.

Raspberries and bad lighting
Then it all went slightly odd, when Mini-M decided she wanted to put cereal in - so we did - Rice Crispies and Cheerios - which go slightly weird and chewy when microwaved. Take it on good advice that whilst not unpleasant, it's not really an experiment worth trying!

You can't see the cereal, but it's in there, being weird and chewy
And last week, Mr E chose syrup and sultana, which was absolutely amazing after spending the afternoon doing an almost-20-mile cycle ride, having not been on a bike in 15 years.

Pudding with added travelling rug tassels - and laptop - a dead giveaway that by this point I was slumped on the sofa after my cycling exertions!

Wednesday, 8 May 2013

Random Recipes #28: Bread

The theme for May's Random Recipes challenge, hosted as every at Belleau Kitchen is bread.

My Dad makes awesome bread. (In fact Mini-M regularly requests "Grandad's Bread")

I don't. Most of my bread making attempts have been distinctly doughy in the middle, and somewhat stunted in stature.

I did consider getting him to make some, then passing it off as my own but I'm a terrible fibber! Plus I've posted plenty of other culinary failures here over the past few years, so why not add bread to the list.

Since this is the 28th Random Recipes challenge, I decided to take the 28th recipe book from my shelf and hope that it had some bread recipe in it, so I ended up with "Ottolenghi The Cookbook". And indeed, there on page 166 was a recipe for Sour Cherry and Walnut Stick. It didn't make a huge quantity, which sounded ideal - small scale disasters are always preferable!

Not so 'stick' like...
Did I follow the recipe properly... of course not. I think I should have called my blog "I-Can't-Follow-A-Recipe" rather than "Makey-Cakey".

My substitutions were more minor than on some occasions - raisins for sour cherries (a change to flavour rather than texture) and millet flour instead of buckwheat flour. (Only a small amount - the primary flour is seeded wholemeal wheat flour) - again probably not critical.

I attempted to follow the method to the letter - but it is written for using and electric stand mixer, which I don't have. My food processor does have a 'dough' blade, which I decided to give a go. Now, as you'll have gathered I'm no bread expert, however I'm pretty sure that being battered against the sides of the food mixer in a high speed ball isn't the right sort of kneading to stretch the gluten and whatever else you need to do to make bread light and bready. And I think this is borne out in the finished product - a tasty but rather dense loaf! If I was being a harsh self critic, I might liken it to dwarf bread... but much tastier!
A little dense - just like me!

I will definitely give this recipe another go - although still not following the actual recipe! Next time I'll ditch the mixer and knead by hand.

But... all is not lost - it is cooked in the middle! An improvement on previous form :o)

Sewing for toddlers...

Mini-M decided a while back that she wanted to knit - she has received lovely knits from a whole host of family since she was tiny, and indeed now sometimes gets to choose what Granny S will knit her next! And whilst I'm all for aiming high, I'm pretty sure that knitting is beyond most 2yr olds, and definitely beyond Mini-M.

After a bit of planning, however, we gave sewing a go...

Future seamstress at work?!!
First up, we went on a shopping expedition to John Lewis. On a side note, we probably go there too much. The other day as we were driving past, Mini-M looked out of the window and said "Is that John Lewis Mummy?" It was. I am now suffering middle-class-toddler-brand-identification-guilt (if such a thing exists).

We chose some 16 count Aida fabric, 3 colours of tapestry wool and some darning needles. It was all going well - we had managed to negotiate 3 different colours, rather than pink x3. Mini-M was carefully carrying the wool, when all of a sudden she was off - running across the shop unravelling wool in her wake.

Find a hole, push it through and....
As I pegged it after her, she stopped suddenly in her tracks and to complete the scene, her leggings fell down. I am not exaggerating for comic effect. For that moment of that day I was most definitely the parent that can't control their child that old ladies tut at! However thankfully it was 9:15am and the only other people in the haberdashery department (where she started her sprint from) and the luggage department (where the trouser-falling-down incident happened) were the staff, and they seemed quite entertained by the diversion int he absence of customers to serve.  So trousers pulled up, we took a rather dishevelled skein of wool up to to the till to pay!

Later at home I dug out an old embroidery hoop to keep the fabric taut and make putting the needle through easier, which has helped a lot.

Obviously Mini-M can't do the knotting or needle threading, however she can find holes to put the needle through to make stitches, and chooses where she wants the wool to go. She's also very keen on choosing buttons - although her tastes are a little more bling than my own!

I'm not sure if we're calling her masterwork 'finished' yet - it's taken several sessions to get this far, but the novelty doesn't seem to have worn off yet, and there are a lot more buttons in the button tin...

Tasteful is not the word
Post sewing Mini-M declared she wanted to do some wool snipping. A few minutes later, she toddled off to the kitchen to get a bowl. On her return she happily entertained herself cutting long pieces of wool into very short pieces of wool, and putting them in said bowl, explaining as she went that she was making wool for her babies, because they would be hungry in the night, and they liked wool. No shortage of imagination that's for sure!

Chopped up wool in a bowl = 10 mins peace and quiet! Who'd have thought

Tuesday, 7 May 2013

Another installment of recipe-less photos!

I've been sorting through my iPhoto library again and have another selection of bakes and makes that I've cooked, taken pictures of, not blogged at the time and lost or forgotten the recipes for - a habit I don't seem to be able to shake, given how many times I've written posts of this variety!

Hedgehog hasselback potatoes 
Dark and swarthy ginger cake made with ginger infused rapeseed oil
Bigos pie
Chicken pasta salad
Scone pizza 
Chicken and green bean casserole 
Chocolate and ginger cake 
Raspberry coconut macaroons
Pineapple Blueberry and Coconut Pudding 
Marmalade cake
I shall try very hard to fit in a few more actual posts, before I succumb to the inevitable in another few months and post another recipe-less roundup!


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