Wednesday, 31 October 2012

Dorset Apple Cake for Best of British

After our visit to sophisticated, metropolitan London, the Best of British Tour moves back to the country as we sample the food of Dorset.

Karen at Lavender and Lovage is the generous host for Five go mad in  Best of British in Dorset.  I have to say that I wasn't really aware of a particular cuisine for Dorset, but on further investigation I found that Dorset Apple Cake seemed to be a specialty.

Dorset Apple Cake

225 g butter, softened, plus extra for greasing
225 g caster sugar, plus extra for dredging
3 large eggs
225 g self-raising flour
2 tsp baking powder
25 g ground almonds
450 g cooking apples, peeled, cored and chopped and then tossed in juice of 1 lemon

Preheat the oven to 180C/Gas 4. Grease a deep 23-24cm springform cake tin and line with baking paper.

Cream together the butter and sugar in a bowl until pale and fluffy. Add the eggs one at a time until combined

Sift the remaining flour and the baking powder into the bowl and fold in with the ground almonds. Add the chopped apple pieces and stir until thoroughly mixed.

Spoon into the prepared cake tin, smooth over the top using the back of a spoon. Bake in the oven for 1 hour or until well-risen, brown and a skewer inserted into the centre of the cake comes out clean. If the cake starts to look a little too brown, cover with a sheet of baking paper after about 45 minutes.

Leave to cool in the tin. Serve the cake and dredge with extra caster sugar. Cut the cake into generous wedges and serve with clotted cream.

I'm not sure if it was this particular recipe or the apples I used, but I found this cake rather bland.  In future I would add some cinnamon or other spice to boost the flavour.  Then again, I didn't have any clotted cream to serve it with, so maybe that would make the difference.

The Best of British Challenge has been organised by Karen Burns Booth of Lavender and Lovage and Fiona McLean of London Unattached.  Many thanks to them both for all their hard work and to New World Appliances as proud BRITISH manufacturers of kitchen appliances who are sponsoring this event for the first six months. 

Tuesday, 30 October 2012

Happy Halloween from Farmersgirl Kitchen



I picked up this little pumpkin at the local farmers market a couple of weeks ago.  it was just the right size to sit on a plate on my dresser.  I probably should have made more effort with the decoration but I ran out of time!

I made some little treats, not too many as we live out in the middle of nowhere and won't have a lot of visitors.  I used the chocolate spoon mould which I got from Sew White and filled it with melted white chocolate (sort of bone like!).  The black and orange sugar gave it a bit more of a Halloween look.  The buns are a simple chocolate cake mix, I baked them in Halloween papers but they seem to have parted company from them, so just took them out.
I hope you have fun whatever you are doing at Halloween.

Monday, 29 October 2012

Venison cooked in Cider and a Giveaway



Venison is one of those meats that many people shy away from.  Perhaps because they are not sure how to cook it, and then there is the 'Bambi' factor.  Neither of these reasons would put me off and I have cooked venison in the past but I find that it is just not readily available at the butcher or the supermarket. It's nice to know that I'm in tune with top chefs Valentine Warner and Ainsley Harriott who were championing Venison and Mustard on the Great British Food Revival and I couldn't  believe how closely Valentine Warner's views  about venison were to mine!

So I was excited to see that as part of  Flavour Fortnight in August this year, a Vension Farm Walk and tasting was offered by Millbank Parkland Venison just outside Lockerbie.


Millbank Farm is run by Emma Boyes with her husband Gareth, and after a walk around the farm to see the deer, Emma  prepared some recipes which we were able to taste.  The sausages and burgers were delicious and all the dishes were full of flavour.  I was intrigued to see what I could make with this local produce, so last month I contacted Emma to see if she would like me to make some dishes with venison from her farm.



Venison is regarded as the premier meat for the health conscious. With the lowest fat, lowest cholesterol and the highest protein content of any meat combined with high iron content and omega 3 it is ideal for those on a healthy or low cholesterol diet.
Venison: 6g/100g fat (beef/chicken/lamb/pork 12-20g/100g)
Venison:
198 kcal/100g (beef/chicken/lamb/pork 214-286kcal/100g)

Millbank Parkland Venison is exclusively sourced from 14 to 22 month old animals in prime condition, the meat is hung for the optimum period of 1 week, resulting in venison which is consistent, tender and of very high quality.
Not all venison is the same. Venison varies within species, age, gender, whether farmed venison or wild venison as well as the condition and health status of the deer. There are 6 deer species in the UK. Scottish venison includes fallow, red, roe and sika deer. We believe fallow and roe venison are of the highest quality due to the texture and flavour of the meat. At Millbank, through the choice of deer combined with how they manage and select the deer, they aim to consistently provide the very best culinary experience.

Millbank Farm Parkland Venison is Fallow Deer venison and wild Roe deer which are less gamey than  Red Deer venison and much more tender, it is low in fat and Millbank Farm venison is ethical, welfare friendly, stress free, low food miles, low carbon footprint, processed in their natural environment. This information and more is available on the Millbank Farm Parkland Venison website.


Haunch of Millbank Farm Parkland Venison in a Cider and Mustard Sauce

I wanted to come up with a recipe full of the flavours of autumn, which complemented rather than overpowered the venison, apples and squash seemed to be the answer!

Serves 4-6

1 small haunch of venison (approx 500g)
1tbsp olive oil
10g butter
6 sage leaves, chopped
150ml vintage cider
1 tbsp wholegrain mustard
100g creme fraiche
1 tsp cornflour
salt and freshly ground black pepper



You could easily increase the quantities to serve a larger group, this haunch will provide two half inch thick slices of venison per person for 6 people, or three slices for four people.



1.  Heat the olive oil in a pan on a medium heat.
2. Brown the haunch of venison in the pan, then remove to an oven proof dish.

3. Add the butter and sage leaves to the pan juices  and cook for 1 minute, then add the cider and mustard. Let it bubble up for 2-3 minutes, then add to the venison in the ovenproof dish.

4. Cover with foil and bake in the oven at 180C for 45 minutes.
5. Once cooked, lift the venison onto another plate cover with foil and allow to rest.
6. Pour the  mustardy juices into a small saucepan and heat until simmering.
7. Mix the teaspoon of cornflour with the creme fraiche and add to the juices.
8. Cook until slightly thickened.
9. Carve the haunch of venison in thick slices and serve on butternut squash and apple puree with the sauce poured over generously.

Butternut Squash and Apple Puree

1 medium butternut squash
2 Cox's Apple Pippins
3 tbsp olive oil
1/2 tsp salt


1. Heat the oven to 200C
2. Peel, deseed and chop the butternut squash into cubes. Cut the apples in half and take out the core with a teaspoon.
3. Put the 3tbsp of olive oil into a roasting tin and add the butternut squash and the apples to the tin and roast in the oven until the squash is tender, about 30 - 40 minutes.

4. When the squash and apples are soft, remove the apple pulp from its skin and puree both with a stick blender or liquidiser, season to taste.  The consistency should be similar to mashed potato.


The Millbank Farm Parkland Venison should be served slightly pink to be enjoyed at its best.  The flavour of the meat is excellent and goes really well with the sharp heat of the mustard and creme fraiche sauce and the sweetness of the butternut squash puree and cider.

If you would like to try some Millbank Farm Parkland Venison you can buy it from the
online farm shop  or take part in the giveaway below for a chance to win a taster pack for two people containing 2 rump steaks, 2 vension burgers and a ring of venison sausage.  Details of what you need to do are in the Rafflecopter widget with opportunities for bonus entries.   Please remember to read the terms and conditions.


Barbeque Pack

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Saturday, 27 October 2012

Gooseberry Jam for Tea Time Treats!

My mother-in-law is very partial to gooseberry jam, so I made a couple of pots, using gooseberries I had in the freezer.  We don't eat a lot of jam now but when I do make it, I always refer to Margueritte Patten's little book, "Dear Diary" written for 'Woman's Own' (anyone remember that?)  I picked it up in a second hand book shop about 25 years ago and it is rather the worse for wear.

The recipes are laid out month by month.  I have made some other recipes from the book but it is the jam and chutney recipes which I return to again and again.  They are very simple and work every time.

Gooseberry Jam


Makes 750g - 1kg (just over 2lb) jam

450g (1lb) gooseberries
4tbsp water with ripe fruit or 300ml (1/2 pint) water with under-ripe fruit
450g (1lb) sugar with ripe fruit or 550g (1 1/4lb) sugar with under-ripe fruit

Wash, then top and tail the gooseberries and simmer with the water until tender. Add the sugar, stir until dissolved; then boil rapidly until setting point is reached.

I'm entering this jam for October Tea Time Treats the challenge created by Karen at Lavender and Lovage and Kate at What Kate BakedPlease note:  my jam is for home consumption, which is why I am able to re-use my jam jars and lids.


Thursday, 25 October 2012

Vintage Cakes: Review and Giveaway


Polenta Cake on my Great Grandmother's vintage china


Vintage Cakes 

Tremendously good cakes for sharing and giving



It doesn’t take much to encourage me to make cakes.  Currently, the market is flooded with baking books, some written by professional bakers and others by well known ‘professional’ home bakers like Mary Berry.  And then there is a whole shelf of baking books written by Great British Bake Off finalists like Jo Wheatley, Edd Kimber and Ruth Clemens.  I already have a lot of baking books but I wasn't going pass on the chance to review another book about cakes.

Jane Brocket, the author of Vintage Cakes, is also the successful author of 'The Gentle Art of Domesticity' and 'Cherry Cake and Ginger Beer'.  Both books include recipes for favourite family treats and old fashioned cakes. 

Starting out

The book starts with some 'essential' chapters. Essential ingredients; this provides a comprehensive guide to the most common ingredients used in baking.  This is followed by an equally comprehensive chapter about Essential equipment.  This isn’t a huge list of expensive kit, it’s a useful checklist with a caveat that you can ‘use what you have’ and adapt! In Essential techniques the author covers everything from oven temperature, through sifting, and testing for doneness.  These are a real boon for new or inexperienced bakers and even experienced bakers can learn from the information in these three chapters.

 The Recipes

The chapters are organised by the type of cake, I think this is really useful as most bakers have a purpose in mind when they want to bake.  There is an index at the back if you are looking for something in particular.

cake-tin cakes includes Marmalade Cake, Sticky Date Cake, Parkin, Gingerbread, Plum Streusel
everyday cakes  includes Victoria Sandwich, Welsh Cakes, Sour Cherry Muffins, Genoa Cake, Swedish Tosca Cake
little cakes includes Lamingtons, Fat Rascals, Eccles Cakes, Maids of Honour, Orange Teacakes
posh cakes includes Lemon Chiffon Cake, Sacher Torte, Coconut Cake, Marble Bundt Cake, Black Forest Gateau
fancies and frivolities includes Fondant Fancies, French Madeleines and English Madeleines, Sponge Kisses
celebration cakes includes Simnel cake, Jewelled Christmas Cake, Buche de Noel, Stollen, Red Velvet Cake
*This represents only a selection of the recipes, there are many more.*

Who is Vintage Cakes for?

This is a book for home bakers who want recipes that have been perfected over time.  All the recipes can all be made with basic baking skills, so it is ideal for someone who is new to baking or for someone who has a little experience and wants to make a range of homely comforting bakes.

Pros

The introductory chapters are well written and full of useful information.
Each recipe starts with a short descriptive paragraph including information about the history of the cake
The recipes are well organised and clearly written with excellent photographs
There are cook’s tips throughout the book and each recipe has information about how to store the cake and how long it is likely to keep.
There are enough ‘different’ recipes to keep an experienced baker interested.

Cons

Experienced bakers are likely to have recipes for about two thirds of the recipes in the book

If you baked your way through every recipe in this book, you would cover wide range of techniques and have a repertoire of cakes that would make your Granny proud!  Even with 40 years of experience of baking, I found recipes I would like to bake and some I would like to revisit.


Polenta Cake


Makes 1 medium – large cake (serves 8-10)

For the cake
Finely grated zest of 3 lemons (unwaxed or well washed)
Juice of ½ a lemon
225g soft butter, plus extra for greasing
225g caster sugar
3 eggs
200g ground almonds
110g polenta
1 level teaspoon baking powder
a pinch of salt

You will need
A 23cm springform tin or round loose-bottomed cake tin, greased with butter and base lined with baking parchment.


Preheat the oven to 160C (gas mark 3)


Start by zesting the 3 lemons, and squeezing one to obtain half its juice.  Set aside until needed.


Put the butter and sugar in a large mixing bowl.  With a wooden spoon or an electric whisk, cream them together until they are pale and fluffy.  Add the eggs one by one, beating well after each addition.

Add the ground almonds, polenta, baking powder, salt and lemon juice and zest.  With a large metal spoon or flexible spatula, mix well until all the ingredients are combined.  Spoon into the prepared tin and level the surface with the back of the spoon or spatula.

Bake in the preheated oven for 45-50 minutes until the cake is golden brown and pulling away from the sides of the tin and a metal skewer or sharp knife inserted into the centre comes out clean.

Transfer to a wire rack and leave to cool for 10 minutes before turning out of the tin.  Serve with creamy yogurt or mascarpone, and a glass of something nice and chilled.  Polenta cake is also delicious with a light tea such as Darjeeling.

STORAGE: Polenta cake keeps well for up to 3 days if wrapped in aluminium foil and stored in an airtight tin in a cool place.

 What a fantastic cake, it's moist, with a lemony tang and a lovely grainy texture from the almonds and polenta.  I have no doubt I will make this cake again.  I didn't want to make a big cake, so halved the ingredients and made it in a small pie tin, it behaved beautifully.  I sliced it up and froze most of it, so it will be interesting to see what it is like when it thaws.  It would make a great dessert cake, served warm with cream or ice cream.

*GIVEAWAY*

I have one copy of Vintage Cakes by Jane Brocket to giveaway. To enter this giveaway, please leave a comment on this post telling me which cake evokes warm and comforting memories of your childhood.  So I am able to contact you, should you win, can you please also leave contact details e.g. farmersgirlkitchen at gmail dot com OR your Twitter name e.g. @serialcrafter
The giveaway will close at 7pm on Saturday 3rd November 2012.
This giveaway is open to those with a UK residence address only.
The winner will be chosen by Random Number Generator and the blog owner's decision will be final.
Disclosure: This is a sponsored giveaway, Vintage Cakes and the giveaway copy was supplied by Jacqui Small LLP an Imprint of Arum Press

And the Winner is...LynB 

Congratulations!



 I'm entering the Polenta Cake for the October Random Recipe Challenge.  Dom at Belleau Kitchen challenged us to put our hands in the cupboard and pull out something we hadn't used, then look through some cookbooks till we found one which had a recipe for that ingredient and to make it.

My ingredient was Polenta,  I bought the pack in the summer, but have never got around to making anything with it.  I took a pile of cookbooks including those I had been sent for review and, hey presto, Polenta Cake!

Vintage Cakes is published by Jacui Small LLP
RRP - £25
Popular online book store: £13.50

Tuesday, 23 October 2012

Romanian Sweet and Sour Eggplant - Street Food!


STREET FOOD

I had never heard of Susan Feniger until I was asked if I would like to review her book, Street Food.  It turns out that she is one of the original Food Network cooking stars.  Susan opened her first solo restaurant, STREET, in Los Angeles in 2009 and in this book she shares 83 of her favourite recipes adapted for home cooks.




What does Street Food mean to you?  I was fairly horrified realise, how few street food opportunities we have locally, perhaps it’s just the very rural area that I live in and a climate that doesn’t encourage outdoor eating!  Thinking about my own memories of street food, they do seem to be from holidays in the sun,  I remember eating crepes in France, at 12 years old , and roast chicken never tasted better than the pollo roti eaten on a Spanish beach, but when I think of street food, it is the food we ate in Malaysia, we ate from street stalls almost every day for three weeks.

With my sister-in-law, eating Satay in Taiping, Malaysia

This is a book for the adventurous cook.  Someone who is willing to seek out unusual ingredients and try new techniques, not the comfortable, recognisable classics with a twist that many chefs produce. You may recognise a few of the dishes, like Thai Drunken Shrimp with Rice Noodles, but there are many more that I had certainly never heard of;  "Any one for Tatsutage Fried Chicken with Spicy Yuzu Mayonnaise?"


The book has a well written introduction, where Susan Feniger talks about  her love of Street Food and how she wants to re-create the ‘magical’ street experience.  There is also a useful chapter called ‘Organizing the World’s Kitchen’, which takes the reader through the myriad of ingredients and explains which ingredient goes into which category:
THE SALTS; THE SOURS; THE SWEETS; THE HOT AND SPICY and THE MELLOWERS AND COOLERS.

The Contents are divided into:

Starters and Small Bites including Coconut Curry Caramel Corn, Spiced Millet Puffs and Lamb Meatballs with Date and Carob Molasses
Salads including Heirloom tomatoes with black garlic and basil vinaigrette, Baby Beet Salad with Kumquat, Mint and Coriander and Indian Puffed Rice Salad
Vegetables and Grains includes Cactus Relleno with corn and Arbol Salso, Romanian Sweet and Sour Eggplant, Cheese Grits with Three Pepper Relish
Land and Sea including Picadillo Chilli Dog with Mustard and Relish, Uruguay Chivito Steak and Fried Egg Sandwich, Malaysian Black Pepper Clams
Curry & Tofu & Noodles including Coconut Curried Mussels with smoky Chorizo, Chilled Soba Noodles with Spicy Orange Sesame and Tofu, Anatolian Ravioli with Chickpeas, Feta and Brown Butter
Chutneys & Pickles & other condiments including Tamarind Date Chutney, Japanese Pickled Vegetable Ribbons, Jamaican Ginger Hot Sauce
Basic Spice Mixes and Pastes including African Spice Mix, Thai Curry paste, Tamarind Puree
Sweets including Danish Black Licorice and Cherry Biscotti with Buttermilk Koldskal, Croatian Sour Apple Fritters, Turkish Doughnuts with Rose Hip Jam
Elixirs & Tonics & Lhassis including Canton Ginger Kick, Honeydew Cucumber Cooler, Salted Lhassi with Cumin and Mint.

In addition to the recipes there are four Travelogues, taking you in words and pictures to Vietnam, India, Turkey and Mongolia. Susan Feniger summons up the sights, sounds, smells and particularly the tastes of the places she visits and the food she eats.  I enjoyed reading these sections, they help to contextualise the culture and landscape of the original recipes.

Pros

  • I enjoyed the variety of the recipes and found the different techniques and ingredients really inspirational.  I can see this book being a jumping off point for all kinds of cooking experimentation.
  • The photographs are clear and the recipes well laid out.
  • There are useful hints and tips, with photographs introducing particular ingredients and, sometimes, offering alternatives

Cons

  • There are no metric ingredients measures and no conversion chart, as with many US publications.
  • Some of the ingredients would be extremely difficult to source e.g. Cactus Paddles!!!



Romanian Sweet and Sour Eggplant

Makes 4 Cups
Serves 4-6



Here is what Susan says about this recipe:  There’s a very traditional dish made in home kitchens all throughout Romania and south eastern Europe that’s typically called “eggplant salad”.  I toyed with different ways to highlight the key flavours of the original recipes which seems underplayed.  I like to make a green salad with watercress, olive oil and lemon, top it with a scoop of this sweet and sour eggplant, and serve it with a slice of toasted sourdough bread topped with goat’s cheese and roasted red peppers.

2 large eggplants (aubergines) about 2lb
3 tbsp plus ½ teaspoon kosher salt (rock salt)
½ cup extra virgin olive oil
10 cloves of garlic
2 bunches of scallions (spring onions), white and green parts, roughly chopped (1/4 cup)
½ teaspoon cayenne pepper
Canola oil
1 (14 oz) can whole peeled tomatoes, drained and roughly chopped
¾ cup cider vinegar
½ cup packed dark brown sugar



Cut off and discard both ends of each eggplant, and cut them lengthwise into ¼ inch thick slices.  Lay the slices out on a baking sheet, and sprinkle both sides with the 3 tablespoons of salt.  Set aside for 20 minutes so that he salt will draw out some of the water from the eggplant. Then pat the eggplant dry with a dish towel.






Put the olive oil, garlic, scallions, parsley, cayenne and remaining ½ teaspoon salt in a food processor,and puree until a smooth paste forms (it will resemble pesto).  Spread liberally all over both sides of the eggplant slices.



     


In a large sauté pan set over medium-high heat, heat 2 tbsp canola oil.  Add enough eggplant slices to cover the bottom of the pan, and cook until they are browned on both sides and cooked through, 2 to 3 minutes per side.  Transfer the eggplant to a platter or plate.  Repeat this process with the remaining eggplant slices, adding 2 tablespoon oil for each batch.  Cut the cooked eggplant into 1 inch wide strips.






In a saucepan set over medium heat, combine the tomatoes, vinegar and brown sugar.  Stew for 12 minutes or until the tomatoes begin breaking down.  Add the eggplant strips and stir together.  Reduce the heat to low and simmer for 8 to 10 minutes until most of the liquid has been cooked off.  Remove from the heat and serve or chill.  This dish may be served warm or cold.


We enjoyed the Romanian Sweet and Sour Eggplant, it's bursting with flavour and can be made ahead. There is nothing particularly daunting about the recipe as long as you have a food processor to make the 'pesto'. I think it would be a great dish to include in a tapas/mezze style meal.

I doubt if I would have picked up this book in a book shop, but I would really have been missing out on an enjoyable reading experience and an excellent cookbook.  It is some time since I have felt inspired to take a cookbook to bed to read, high praise indeed!  I would recommend it to anyone who wants to try some new flavours and  and regain their cooking mojo!  Be inspired to try some STREET FOOD.

Street Food by Susan Feniger with Kajsa Alger and Liz Lachman
Published by  Random House, USA
Distributed by Grantham Book Services for Publishers Group UK

RRP £18.99, available at popular online book store for £12.15

Thanks for to PGUK for the opportunity to review this book

Thursday, 18 October 2012

Cookies, Cookies and More Cookies - a Review





Now the Great British Bake Off has reached it's finale, thousands of fans are wondering just what they are going to do without Paul, Mary, Sue, Mel and the brave bakers.  The answer, of course, is to get into the kitchen and BAKE!

To help you along you might want to get yourself a copy of Cookies, Cookies and more Cookies! by Lilach German.  The book begins with a little history of cookies with the theory that the first cookie was actually a 'test' for a cake recipe.  This introduction is followed by a chapter on tools and another on ingredients, it's full of really good tips and information.  As this is an American book, it's really worth reading about the ingredients to be sure you are reading the recipes correctly.

I loved the Basic Recipes chapter, which has a range of cookie recipes that you could adapt yourself, including a dairy free recipe.

After the basic Recipes we get into the main chapters, there are more than 75 recipes to choose from covering Classic Cookies, Cookies for Kids, Cookies for Occasions, Cookies for the Health Conscious, Cookies for Chocolate Lovers and Cookies for the Connoisseur.

Put a smile on a child’s face with a Sprinkled Chocolate Ball or Nutella Thumbprint. Enjoy classic temptations like Madeleines and Linzer Sables, or decadent brownies and truffles. Satisfy the most discerning palate with icing-filled macaroons, lady fingers, or Scottish shortbread. Even the health-conscious will find yummy options, including energy bars and Oatmeal and Cranberry Cookies. Many of the recipes produce large batches, perfect for sharing with family and friends. Includes instructions for whipping up basic types of dough, icing, and meringue.

The book concludes with a useful page of conversion charts which I really appreciated.

 I decided to make some Madeleines, I wouldn't really consider these to be cookies, more little sponge cakes, but they are in the book so I gave it a go.  One of the reasons I wanted to make them was to try out my silicon madeleine mould I bought from Sew White.  I'd really recommend visiting her website, as there are lots of unusual baking items and the customer service is excellent.

Madeleine Cookies

3 eggs
1/4 cup/ 48g sugar
1 tbsp honey
1/4 cup/ 60ml milk
2 tablespoons vanilla extract (I only used one and it was enough)
1 1/2 sticks butter/200g butter, melted
1 1/2 cups/210g all purpose (plain) flour 
1 1/2 tsp baking powder

Madeleine Pan Mould


1. Using a mixer fitted with a whisk attachment, mix together the eggs and sugar for about 5 minutes, until light fluffy.  Add the honey, milk, vanilla extract and butter, and whisk until all ingredients are combined.  In a separate bowl, sift together the flour and baking powder.
2. Gradually add the flour to the wet mixture and whisk until the mixture is smooth.
3. Cover the bowl with plastic wrap and refrigerate for at least 30 minutes before baking.
4. Preheat the oven to 350F.  Generously butter a Madeleine pan mould. (if using a silicon mould, there is no need to butter, really?)
5. Pour the chilled batter into the pan mould, filling each mould to the very top.  Bake for 15 minutes, until a toothpick, placed in the centre, come out dry.


6. Allow to chill to room temperature before serving.
7. Cookies can be stored in an airtight container at room temperature for up to 1 week.

In true Bake Off Style I had a bit of a disaster...



 Yes, the madeleines stuck to the silicon mould, so I lost the shell like definition.  I think I will probably butter them a little next time.  You can just about see what it would have been like on the closest madeleine.


 Fortunately I had more batter than would fit in the mould, so I made some madeleines in muffin cases and they turned out perfectly.  If the madeleine recipe is anything to go by, this is an excellent addition to any bakers bookshelf, I can't wait to make some more cookies.

Taste Test!

One of the advantages of the madeleines in the mould not turning out right, is that there are plenty of 'bits' of cake to test.  I was really pleased with the light texture and buttery flavour of the madeleines, the 30 minute chilling time for the batter was very interesting, as it came out decidedly thicker and bubbling slightly.  I'll report back on my next trial with the silicon baking mould.

Cookies, Cookies and more Cookies is written by Lilach German, the founder of Lilach: Food and Design, a successful gourmet catering company. Her sophisticated sense of style shines through clearly in the colourful photographs. Lilach studied at the prestigious Le Cordon Bleu School in Paris.

Published by Charlesbridge, RRP £8.99
Also available through a popular online bookshop for £5.39

Wednesday, 17 October 2012

Show you care with the Lindt Bear


What a great way to give to charity! With its familiar cheery smile, loveable little heart and smooth milk chocolate body, the Lindt Bear makes the perfect treat. It’s also the perfect way to ‘show you care’, as the Lindt Bear is helping raise £100,000 for BBC Children in Need in 2012.

 Lovingly crafted by the Lindt Master Chocolatiers, each luxury chocolate Lindt Bear is a seasonal favourite that helped to delight thousands of adults and children after its launch last year. Wrapped in its distinctive golden foil and complete with keepsake heart and ribbon, it looks almost as good as it tastes.

The charming Lindt Bear 100g is already in your local store (RRP £2.99)

 In the run up to the BBC Children in Need Appeal which culminates on 16th November 2012, there will be a special charity auction of limited edition porcelain Lindt Bears - each signed by a well known celebrity. Keep an eye out for more information and auction details at facebook.com/lindtuk.
As well as the classic Lindt Bear 100g, there are also six other ways to ‘Show you care with the Lindt Bear’ this festive season, available from stores nationwide or online from lindt.co.uk.

 

 

Monday, 15 October 2012

La Tasca Paella de Carne Recipe


A few weeks ago, I was invited to La Tasca in Renfield Street, Glasgow to watch Executive Chef Antonio Bennetto and Thomas, the La Tasca chef, demonstrate cooking paella, as well as tasting the delicious autumn menu for La Tasca.  You can read about it in my blog post 'Paella People'

After the demonstration I wanted to make some Paella myself.  As I wanted it to be as authentic to La Tasca as possible,  I asked if they would be able to provide a recipe for me and was delighted when the answer was YES!

Paella de Carne ingredients


Frying the onion and peppers in garlic infused oil


Adding the chicken and chorizo

Adding the prawns and peas


Adding the rice in a cross




LA TASCA PAELLA DE CARNE

Serves 2 – 4 people
Prep time: 20 minutes
Cook time: 30-35 minutes  

INGREDIENTS         

200g of Spanish paella rice such as bomba or calasparra
2 tbs garlic infused olive oil
1 tsp pimenton de la vera dulce (smoked sweet paprika)
Pinch of saffron (or turmeric if you don’t have saffron)
675ml good quality chicken stock (475ml if using calasparra)
4 large ripe tomatoes
1 small white onion
2 medium sized fresh chicken breasts, diced into 25mm chunks
100g fresh chorizo sausage, sliced into rounds about ½ a cm in thickness
40g of fine beans, top, tailed and chopped into 1cm
30g of garden peas
Pinch of salt & pepper
1 roasted red pepper cut into quarters to garnish
1 lemon cut into wedges

CROCKERY
1 Paella Pan or a 30cm Large Heavy bottom frying pan
1 small pan for tomatoes

METHOD

1. Cut the onion and pepper into roughly 2cm cubes.

2. Score a small cross on the base of each tomato, then carefully place into a pan with boiling water, leave for 20 to 30 seconds, then remove using a slotted spoon. Drop the tomatoes into a bowl of ice cold water and leave to cool. Remove the tomatoes then peel away the skin. Cut the tomatoes into quarters, remove the seeds with a spoon, and then roughly chop the flesh. Set the chopped tomato aside.

3. Place a Paella pan or sauté pan over medium heat and when hot pour in the garlic infused olive oil. Add the onions and peppers and cook for 3-4 minutes until softened then move to one side of the pan.

4. Add the chicken and chorizo, stirring through and cook for 2-3 minutes until the chicken starts to brown and the chorizo begins to lightly caramelise before mixing back through with the peppers and onion.

5. Add the diced tomatoes, almost all of the chicken stock (leave 50 to 75ml back) and the pimenton, saffron/or turmeric. Mix in the green beans and peas, turn the heat up and once the broth is at a rolling boil and the chicken is cooked through, taste to make sure you are happy with the flavour (at this point you are looking for a strong flavour of Smokey paprika, saffron (if using) and a rich chicken stock kick) – season with salt and pepper if required.

6. Add the Paella rice making a cross in the pan with the rice from one side to the other.

7. Share the rice around the pan carefully using a spoon to distribute the rice into the 4 sections making sure the rice is even and in every part of the pan. Cook for 10 minutes on medium to high heat. Do not stir.

8. Turn the heat down to low, place the roasted red pepper quarters on top of the paella and cook for 10 minutes until the broth has been absorbed by the rice.
(Have the remaining chicken stock on hand to gently ladle over the rice if required at any point within these 10 minutes).

Once the broth has totally disappeared, check that the rice is al dente – cooked but with a slight bite, then turn off the heat and let it rest!

A Rest is so important: 15 minutes is the La Tasca golden rule, however if you have the luxury of waiting up to 45 minutes you will see a notable difference in texture and condensed taste. If you choose the 45 minute wait, make sure you cover the pan loosely with kitchen foil.

Great Paella should have a layer of rice caramelised on the bottom of the pan together with looking compact and caramelised on top; add the lemons just before serving!
Only fluff up the Paella when you are about to serve!

Please note:  I added some prawns to the original recipe, as I am a big fan of seafood.
Finished Paella

The paella was delicious with a rich smoky flavour from the smoked paprika and chorizo, I would certainly make it again. Many thanks to Antiono for supplying the recipe and to Jade, Ella and Amy for being so accommodating.

Note:  I found that I had to cover the pan with foil towards the end of cooking to get the rice on the top to cook properly.  This is probably because my pan wasn't big enough to get a thin layer.
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