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Sunday, 29 April 2012

Chocolate and Amaretti Slice

Dom is celebrating the second birthday of Belleau Kitchen, his superb food and cooking blog.  So Random Recipes #15 has gone all cakey- bakey in a birthday kind of way! 

I piled up a selection of my baking books, praying that the macaron book would not be the one picked, anyway I needn't have worried because the random number picker chose #1 which is The Best of Cadbury Chocolate Cooking.

Opening the book it fell open at a page 77 with a choice of four delicious recipes.  I chose to make 'Bournville and Amaretti Slice' but as I didn't use Bournville chocolate but a generic brand which is why I have called it  

Chocolate and Amaretti Slice

175g Amaretti biscuits
3 tablespoons Amaretto Di Saronno liqueur
275g plain dark chocolate, broken into pieces
300ml double cream
75g unsalted butter, softened
50g caster sugar

1. Line a 500g loaf tin with clingfilm.  Crush the biscuits into small pieces.  Put them in a bowl and pour over the liqueur.
2. Melt the chocolate and half the cream.  Cream together the butter and sugar until pale and fluffy.  Stir in the chocolate and cream mixture, then the remaining cream.
3. Spoon about one third of the chocolate mixture into the tin.  Scatter half of the biscuit pieces over the top. Spread half of the remaining mixture, then add the remaining biscuits. Finish with the remaining chocolate mixture.
4. Chill the chocolate cake over night until set.  Invert on to a plate and peel off the film.
5.  You can decorate by creating scribbly lines with melted chocolate piped across the top. Or you can just slice and serve because it's quite rich enough as it is!

This is totally indulgent, rich and needs to be served in very small slices.  If I made it again, I think I would simply mix the biscuits into the chocolate, because it does tend to crumble a bit when you cut it.  The liqueur comes through strongly so it's a grown up slice, but you could use orange juice and if you don't like almond flavours at all, then other crunchy biscuits like gingersnaps would probably work just as well. 

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Saturday, 28 April 2012

Lamb Naan Calzone

Regular readers of my blog will know that I like to use up my left overs. On Friday night we had Lamb Curry which had been made from the left overs of the lamb leg we had at Easter and had frozen. There was some of the curry still left from last night, so I decided to make it into a kind of pasty for lunch.  I was going to make pastry, but forgot to defrost the butter so, with a bit of lateral thinking,  I thought Naan - pizza - calzone!

Naan Calzone

1 tsp dried yeast
125ml milk
250g strong white flour
1/2 tsp salt
1/1 tsp sugar
1 1/2 tbsp yogurt
15g butter

I made my dough in the bread maker on 'dough' setting, which involves throwing everything in there and switching on.  However, if you want to do it the hard way, it's just a basic white bread but with milk and yogurt as the liquid.

Once the dough is made, split it in two and roll out into a large round.

Add the filling (anything will do, mine was leftover lamb curry, but whatever you have) and then fold over and crimp the edge.

Leave to rise in a warm place for about 30-40 mintues.  Pre-heat the oven to 200C, put the Naan Calzone into the oven and bake for 15-20 minutes.  

Serve with a tomato, cucumber and red onion salad.

If anything I think I probably made the Naan Calzone too big, there was too much bread and not enough filling, dividing the dough into three would probably be better and would provide a better balance of filling to bread.

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Friday, 27 April 2012

Sundried Tomato and Carrot Soup

Oh dear, I missed the deadline for No Croutons Required.  This is a soup I've been making for years with carrots and tinned tomatoes, but I've never included sun-dried tomatoes before and it certainly added a depth of flavour to an already gutsy soup.  

It's pretty easy, just an onion, some peeled and chopped carrots, 2 tins of tomatoes, some stock and about 6 sun-dried tomatoes. Cook them up  until the carrots are soft, then liquidise or blitz until smooth.

Go and check out the round up of this month's challenge (the one I missed!) and join Lisa at Lisa's Kitchen and Jac at Tinned Tomatoes in this challenge next month.

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Monday, 23 April 2012

Turkey Saltimbocca Piquante

Saltimbocca is a dish made with veal, prosciutto and sage, which is popular in Italy, Switzerland, Spain and Greece.  You can read more about it here.

My version of this famous dish is for a competition run by British Turkey to create an all year round dish using British Turkey and Peppadew Peppers.

Turkey Saltimbocca Piquante
500g British Turkey fillets
100g Peppadew Whole Sweet and Mild Piquante Peppers
84g Prosciutto
6 sage leaves
8-10 wooden skewers

For the marinade
4 sun dried tomatoes in oil, roughly chopped
2 tbsp oil from the tomatoes
1 tbsp white wine vinegar
200ml dry white wine
sea salt and freshly ground black pepper

1. Cut the turkey into small chunks about 2cm square.  Cut the sage leaves into strips and slice up the Peppadew peppers,  cut each slice of prosciutto cross ways into five pieces (see below)

2. Place the turkey cube onto the slice of prosciutto, add a small strip of sage and a slice of Peppadew pepper, roll the prosciutto around the turkey, sage and pepper and put the skewer through.

3. Add further pieces of rolled turkey to the skewer, 4 pieces seemed about right for the size of skewers I was using.

4. Put all the marinade ingredients, except the wine,  into a liquidiser or food processor and blitz until well combined.  Add the wine and blitz again.

 5. Place all the skewers into a non-metallic dish and pour over the marinade.  Cover with clingfilm and refrigerate for a minimum of two hours.

6. Grill the skewers on a high heat for 5 minutes each side, then lower the heat and grill for a further 5 minutes.  Drain the marinade into a saucepan, bring to the boil, then turn down the heat and simmer for 5 minutes.  Serve the sauce with the skewers.

The marinade ensures that the skewers are deliciously moist and the punchy flavour of the Piquante Peppadew peppers really complemented the turkey and prosciutto. 

I served these Turkey Saltimbocca Piquante skewers hot with buttered new potatoes and spring greens, but they would go well with rice or couscous.  They would be ideal for a barbeque and would also be delicious chilled and served with salad or as finger food at a buffet.

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Sunday, 22 April 2012

Rhubarb Bakewell Tart and a Giveaway!

There is some dispute on line as to whether there is a traditional food to celebrate May Day.  However, although some recipes appear, there doesn't seem to be any one dish that defines May Day.

I decided that I would try to create a seasonal dish to celebrate May Day and I'd like you to do the same.
Applicances Online have agreed to give one of you £30 of Amazon Vouchers for telling me what your May Day Dish would be.  Enter using the Rafflecopter widget at the bottom of this post.

May Day Rhubarb Bakewell Tart 

Shortcrust Pastry
225g plain flour
50g vegetable fat
100g butter
25g caster sugar
2 egg yolks

55g butter or margerine (I used Pure spread)
55g caster sugar
1 large egg beaten
40g ground almonds
15g plain flour

8 sticks of rhubarb, chopped into even sized pieces
50g golden caster sugar

25g flaked almonds to finish

1. Make the shortcrust pastry by rubbing the vegetable fat and butter into the flour until it resembles fine breadcrumbs. Add the egg yolks and bring the mixture together.  Knead only very lightly, then wrap in clingfilm and chill for at least 20 minutes.

2. Roll out and line a 17cm diameter deep pie tin (the pastry will line two of these tins, you need to double up the fruit and frangipane to fill two though) and put some baking paper inside then fill with baking beans.

3. Blind bake at 200C for 20 - 25 minutes.  Remove the beans and paper and bake for a further 5 minutes until the base is baked through and the pastry is golden brown.  Leave to cool for 10 minutes.

4.  Place the rhubarb and sugar and in a baking dish and place in the oven while the flan is blind baking.  Roast until just soft but not mushy.

5. Fill the base of the flan with rhubarb, try not to get too much juice on the base of the flan or it will go soggy.

6. Make the frangipane.  Turn the heat down to 170C.  Beat all the frangipane ingredients together until well combined and cover the rhubarb with the mixture.  Scatter over the flaked almonds.

7.  Bake for about 25 minutes until the frangipane is risen and golden.

Serve warm with custard.
So what would you make to celebrate May Day?

Apologies if your comment does not show, it will still be counted through the Rafflecopter widget.  I'm having a little bit of trouble with the Google 'no follow' ettiquette!
Read more »

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Friday, 20 April 2012

'Groovy' Focaccia and Salmon with Tomato Vinaigrette

I love olive oil, so I was intrigued when I was asked to review some oils from Groovy Food, I was sent two different oils:

Omega Cool Oil –a clever organic blend of Omega 3, 6 and 9. Specially pressed from flax, hemp, pumpkin and evening primrose seed oils, serving up a perfectly balanced amount of essential fatty acids, which our bodies crave. Cool Oil is also the perfect accompaniment to cold foods and as such is ideal when drizzled onto salads, blended into smoothies or used simply for dipping breads and olives.

High Five Cooking Oil – sees a unique yet complimentary fusion of five cold pressed virgin seed oils. Blended to perfection High Five Cooking Oil is the ideal healthier alternative to other cooking fats. Offering high nutritional properties whilst graced with a subtle flavour, the oils unique characteristics ensure the great taste is retained even when cooking at high temperatures.

I thought I'd put the oil to the test with a bit of baking and some cooking.

Groovy Focaccia 
500g strong white flour
2tsp dried yeast
1 1/2tsp salt
1 tsp caster sugar
175ml water
75ml white wine
75ml High Five Omega Cooking Oil
2 tbsp rosemary, finely chopped
3 tbsp Omega Cool Oil  for drizzling
Sea salt flakes for scattering

1. Put the flour, yeast, salt, sugar, water, wine and High Five Cooking Oil into your bread maker and set for dough.
2. When the dough programme finishes, roll or pull the dough out, oil a baking sheet or roasting tin and fill with the dough.  
3. Cover with a tea towel and put in a warm place to rise for about an hour to an hour and a half.
4. Us your fingertips to gently press into the surface of the dough, brush with a little High Five Cooling Oil and scatter over the rosemary and sea salt.

5. Heat the oven to 200C and bake for 30 minutes until golden brown.
6. Sprinkle with the remaining Omega Cool Oil.

The Groovy Focaccia was very good, although I did miss the taste provided by the olive oil.  I also tried dipping the focaccia in the Omega Cool Oil but I felt that the flavour of the oil didn't lend itself to dipping.

I was planning on having some salmon fillets for supper so used the oil in  Recipe #2:

Salmon with Tomato Vinaigrette
4 salmon fillets
2 tbsp Omega Cool Oil
1 tbsp champagne or wine vinegar 
1 tsp Dijon mustard
2 garlic cloves, crushed
1 tsp caster sugar
4 ripe tomatoes, deseeded and finely chopped
salt & freshly ground pepper

1. Mix the Omega Cool Oil, mustard, vinegar, garlic and sugar together.  Add the diced tomatoes.

2. Brush the salmon with oil and place in a hot frying pan skin side down to crisp the skin, when skin is brown, turn the salmon and cook for 2 minutes, then switch off the heat and leave as the heat in the pan will cook the salmon through.
3. Place the salmon onto the plate and spoon over the vinaigrette.

Serve with roasted red peppers filled with chopped tomatoes and garlic and drizzled with High Five Cooking Oil. 

The salmon was delicious as was the roasted red pepper and I would say that the lighter flavour of the seed oil was a really good match for the fish and the vinaigrette was quick easy and one of the best ways of adding a bit of zing to farmed salmon that I have found.

The Groovy Food Oils collection is available throughout Tesco and Sainsbury’s stores nationwide, selected health food retailers and online at

Omega Cool Oil – 250ml – from £8.49
High Five Cooking Oil – 500ml - from £6.99

The company themselves are very passionate about their products as you can see from their website:

Disclosure Statement: I received two bottles of oil from Groovy Foods to review. I was not required to write a positive review. The opinions I have expressed are my own. The prices are correct at time of posting.

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Tuesday, 17 April 2012

Chocolate Dipped Cannoli

I was thrown a little by the theme for this month's 'We should Cocoa', (the blogger challenge run by Choclette at Chocolate Log Blog and Chele at Chocolate Teapot) it's Chocolate and Cheese!  I've been mulling this over since it was announced, trying to think what I could make.  Then I remembered the ricotta and chocolate filled cannoli that my SIL used to bring to us from a Sicilian Bakery in Edinburgh.

I did a bit of research online, but decided that, rather than making the biscuit shells, I would use filo pastry.  I bought the pastry and then it occurred to me that I had no idea what I would use to create the tubes...but you will see that I did manage to come up with something.

Chocolate Dipped Cannoli
1 pack Filo pastry
25g butter, melted
Tub of Ricotta cheese
50g dark chocolate, chopped
1 tbsp Amaretto liqueur
1/2 tsp cinnamon
2 tbsp icing sugar

You can get two large cannoli from two sheets of filo pastry, they did come out quite large but would be quite fiddly to make smaller.

Heat the oven to 200C or 180C (fan).  Lay out one sheet of filo, brush with melted butter and lay another sheet on top.  

Using a small plate, cut out two circles per sheet, or more if you are making them smaller.  Brush them with more butter.

So here is my solution for making the cannoli tubes, rolled up aluminium foil! Roll the circle round the foil with the butter side out and bake in the oven for about 10 minutes until the tubes are golden brown. Leave to cool then carefully remove the foil.

Mix the ricotta, 25g of the chocolate, the Amaretto and the sugar.  Fill a disposable piping bag without a nozzle and snip off the end. Fill from both ends with the cheese mixture.

Melt the rest of chocolate in a bowl over a pan of simmering water and dip the end of the cannoli into the melted chocolate.  Place onto a plate covered with baking paper and place in the fridge for about an hour until the chocolate and filling are set. Dust with icing sugar.

I was really pleased with the way the Cannoli turned out, they were totally delicious, the crunch of the filo and the soft sweetness of the ricotta mixture with a hit of dark chocolate.  These ones were a little on the big size, so I may try and make some smaller ones in future.

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Sunday, 15 April 2012

Thai Vegetable Stir Fry with Coriander Rice

It's Thai New Year or Songkran so "สุขสันต์วันสงกรานต์" (suk san wan songkran) — meaning "Happy Songkran Day"

 I'm a big fan of Tilda rice and use their brown rice on a regular basis.  Emma at Wildcard, sent me a couple of packs of their Lime and Coriander Microwave Rice and a recipe to celebrate Thai New Year:

Thai Vegetable Stir Fry with Coriander Rice
Serves 4

Prep time: 10 minutes
Cook time: 10 minutes

2 x 250g packs Tilda Lime & Coriander rice
1 tbsp oil
250g mushrooms, halved
100g soya beans
175g baby corn, halved
1 red pepper, sliced into long strips
2 tbsp Thai Taste Thai green curry paste (60g)
2 pak choi, sliced (235g)
160ml can coconut cream
2 tsp Thai fish sauce
2 tsp toasted sesame seeds (opt)
My additions:  50g mangetout peas, chilli oil 

Heat the oil in a large frying pan and fry the mushrooms, soya beans, corn and
pepper for 3-4 minutes. Add the curry paste and fry for 2-3 minutes. Stir in the
pak choi and fry for 2 minutes. Add the coconut cream and fish sauce, simmer
for 1-2 minutes.
Meanwhile, cook the rice according to the pack and garnish with the sesame
seeds if using. Serve with the vegetable stir fry.
Cooks tip
For a meat option, replace the mushrooms, soya beans and baby corn with
500g minced turkey.
Like us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter @Tildabasmati

Scottish Chilli Oil 

It was a really tasty stir-fry and the rice was delicious, full of flavour and no artificial taste at all.  Ideal if you are in a hurry or want something really flavourful without too much time in the kitchen.

The Songkran festival (Thai: สงกรานต์, Khmer: សង្រ្កាន្ត; from the Sanskrit word saṃkrānti,[1] or literally "astrological passage") is celebrated in Thailand as the traditional New Year's Day from 13 to 15 April. It coincides with the New Year of many calendars of South and Southeast Asia.
The date of the festival was originally set by astrological calculation, but it is now fixed. If these days fall on a weekend, the missed days off are taken on the weekdays immediately following. Songkran falls in the hottest time of the year in Thailand, at the end of the dry season. Until 1888 the Thai New Year was the beginning of the year in Thailand; thereafter 1 April was used until 1940. 1 January is now the beginning of the year. The traditional Thai New Year has been a national holiday since then.
Songkran has traditionally been celebrated as the New Year for many centuries, and is believed to have been adapted from an Indian festival. It is now observed nationwide, even in the far south. However, the most famous Songkran celebrations are still in the northern city of Chiang Mai, where it continues for six days and even longer. It has also become a party for foreigners and an additional reason for many to visit Thailand for immersion in another culture. (source Wikipedia)

 See what the Thai people get up to for their New Year celebrations:

 Songkran festival: new year in Thailand and Myanmar marked with water fights

 Many thanks to Emma at Wildcard and to Tilda for the rice. 

 This month's Sweet Heat challenge  at Vanilla Clouds and Lemon Drops is Spicy Thai Food, so I'm entering this stir fry.


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Saturday, 14 April 2012

Blue and Green Soup with Gluten Free Cheese Scones

That got you thinking didn't it?  Blue and Green?  Well there is a little bit of Danish Blue in the predominantly Green vegetable soup.  However, this is really just another version of what Fiona at London Unattached described so well as 'Stone' Soup.  You can read all about it on her blog HERE.

Because I have been eating the Bulgar Salad for lunch, I haven't had my usual sandwiches and therefore we have not used as much lettuce as before.  I was blissfully unaware of this when I ordered the shopping online and ordered up another pack of Romaine lettuces.  We also seemed to have a head of broccoli left over.  I know, I really should check the fridge before doing my shopping.

The No Waste Food Challenge run by Kate at Turquoise Lemons also asked us to use up left over Fennel.  Now,  I love fennel and rarely have any left over, but it was a good excuse to go and buy some so I have included at little of  it in this recipe.

Blue and Green Soup

1 head broccoli chopped
2 Romaine lettuces, chopped
The stalky ends of a bulb of fennel chopped
1 large onion chopped
1 tsp vegetable oil
1 litre of vegetable stock
200ml milk
30g of Danish Blue cheese crumbled

 Put the oil in the pan at a medium heat, add the onion and saute for about 5 minutes until soft.  Add the chopped broccoli.
The fennel,

and the chopped lettuce

and stir to coat with the oil and onion.  Add the stock, I use Marigold Swiss Vegetable Bouillon but you can use any stock.

Season and cook until the vegetables are soft.  Take off the heat for about 10 minutes and then blitz with a stick blender or in a liquidiser.  Add the milk and the Blue Cheese to taste and blitz again.

While the soup was cooking, I thought I'd make something nice to have with them.  I had bought some gluten free ingredients for the guest who was expected last weekend but was unable to come. So I thought I would 'use them up' making some scones.

I turned to my standard scone recipe from Mary Berry's Fast Cakes, it's never failed me yet, even when I change the ingredients as much as I have here!

Gluten Free Special Scones
225g White self-raising Gluten and Wheat Free flour
1 level tsp gluten free baking powder
50g Pure Sunflower dairy free margarine
1/2 tsp Coleman's mustard powder
50g grated cheese
1 egg
milk or natural yogurt

Heat the oven to 220C and lightly grease a baking sheet
Put the flour and baking powder in a bowl and add the margarine, rub it in with your fingertips until the mixture resembles fine breadcrumbs.  Stir in the mustard powder and the grated cheese.

 Crack the egg into a jug, lightly beat it and then make up to 150ml with milk or yogurt. Stir the egg mixture into the flour and mix to a soft dough.

Turn onto a lightly floured table and pat out to about 1.25 (1/2 inch) thickness.
Cut into rounds, I made my big as we were having them as 'rolls' with our soup.  Place spaced out on the baking sheet and brush the tops with milk or yogurt and sprinkle with a little more cheese.

I'm showing you this so you can see how thick they are cut.

Bake in the oven for about 10-15 minutes (depending on how big you made them)  until they are pale golden brown.  Remove and leave to cool on a wire rack.

 Not only was the soup good, although dominated by the broccoli and blue cheese flavours, but the scones were excellent.  A little more chewy in texture than the wheat flour ones, but definitely good and a very acceptable substitute.  They could also be adapted to be dairy free by using substitutes for the milk/yogurt and cheese.

I'm entering this recipe for Bookmarked Recipes run by Jac at Tinned Tomatoes and founded by Ruth from Ruth's Kitchen Experiments

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