Saturday, 26 November 2011

Mummy's Kitchen Sink Cookies

After a few weeks of cake I thought that this weekend I would mix it up a bit and try my hand at some of my mummy's signature Kitchen Sink Cookies...oats, chocolate chips, raisins, coconut, walnuts...all mixed together into a yummy scrummy cookie (or 4 dozen).  

This is one of those cookie recipes that you can change up depending on what you have in the cupboard, or can find in the supermarket...or just fancy really.  I know it looks like a load of ingredients, but the recipe makes around 4 dozen decent sized it is totally worth the time and effort! 

At the Edinburgh Cake Ladies event this week some of us were chatting about cookies and using American recipes and the conversation turned to butter...the quality of the butter...the consistency of the butter...the cost...keeping all this in mind, today I used President's Unsalted French Butter and I couldn't be happier with how the cookies turned out, not greasy at all! 

I've just copied my mum's emailed recipe, so everything is in North American...conversions required!!! 

preheat oven to 350F

1) with a wooden spoon cream the following in a very large bowl:
    1 cup butter
    1/2 cup packed brown sugar
    1/2 cup white sugar
   then add 2 eggs (one at a time)
   and 1 tsp vanilla
2)  in another bowl blend and add to bowl #1
     2 cups flour
     1 tsp baking soda
     1/2 tsp baking powder
     1/2 tsp salt
3)  in separate bowl mix the following and then add to bowl #1 :
     2 cups oats
     2 cups mini choc chips
     1 cup shredded coconut
     1 cup raisins or cranberries
     1 cup chopped walnuts
* spoon walnut sized pieces of dough onto trays and push down slightly using either your hands or the floured bottom of a glass
* Bake at 350F for 11- 13 mins until just golden. 

Tuesday, 22 November 2011

David bakes bread!!!

Before David's wonky cake was even in the oven he said to I want to try to make bread (!!!) I don't know what has come over him...but I am more than happy to sit back and watch him explore his new interest in baking...and if he likes bread making then he can do that and I can focus on the cakes! 

For a first loaf I am really impressed....heck! For a millionth loaf I'd be really impressed.  He used the end of the Waitrose Love Life Malted Seeded bread flour I bought last month and produced a really lovely loaf.  

We both agreed that next weekend we will buy some special white bread flour (maybe seeded) and see the difference in the dough and the rise and everything...but we both really like this malted flour and will definitely be using it again.  We were really good and let the loaf cool before cutting into it (I love freshly baked bread slathered with butter and jam) and enjoyed it as part of a very posh homemade ploughman's! 

So, I'm thinking about getting David a bread making book for xmas...any suggestions? recommendations? must buys? 

Sunday, 20 November 2011

Chocolate Ginger Beer Cake

I've been anticipating baking this cake all week.  Actually, in all honestly I started anticipating baking this cake last weekend while David was slaving away on his wonky cake.  It isn't that I wasn't interested in his cake it is just that I was flipping through the freebie Waitrose Weekend paper we had picked up when buying his ingredients and stumbled upon the most luscious looking cake...deep dark chocolate with a soft white icing...and then I read the title: Rich Chocolate & Ginger Beer Cake...that was it...I was sold (not to mention we had bought most of the ingredients already for David's cake)! 

This cake is dense and moist, and totally chocolatey.  The icing is made with mascarpone cheese, which gives it a really light flavour and texture, but it also meant that I needed to find room in my fridge for it!! The cake is lovely, but it wasn't gingery enough for me.  I'm thinking about adding some candied ginger or ground ginger (or both) the next time.  The icing is a golden colour because I've started using Billington's natural golden icing sugar .  I think the soft gingery colour adds something extra to the presentation of the cake.  

I'm posting the recipe for a couple of reasons; it isn't available on the Waitrose website, but I also changed the method to suit me and my stand mixer (I don't have a hand mixer).  

Rich Chocolate & Ginger Beer Cake
adapted from Waitrose Weekend (10 November 2011)

300ml ginger beer (I used non alcoholic)
175g dark chocolate, broken into squares
50g cocoa powder
100g butter, softened
225g light brown sugar
2 eggs
200g plain flour
1 1/2 tsp baking powder

75g butter, softened
5 Tbsp ginger beer
125g icing sugar
250g mascarpone cheese


-Pre-Heat oven to 170 degrees C, and grease and line 2 20cm sandwich tins (or 1 20cm spring form pan).

-Put ginger beer, cocoa powder and chocolate in a heat proof bowl and place over a pan of simmering water.  Leave until the chocolate has melted and everything is smooth and glossy, whisking every once in a while. Remove bowl from heat and leave to cool, about 15 mins.

-Sift flour and baking powder together into a small bowl.

-Once chocolate is cool cream butter and sugar together until light and fluffy.  Add eggs one at a time, followed by flour.  Mix until just combined.  On low speed pour in about a 1/4 of the chocolate mixture and beat in to loosen batter.  Add remainder of chocolate mixture.

-Pour batter into prepared tins and bake in oven for 25-30 mins (about 50 mins if making in one spring form pan).  Cake should be just firm to the touch but tester should be clean.  

-Leave to cool for 5 mins before loosening sides of cake from tins.  Leave in tins to cool.

-Once completely cooled remove from tins and prepare for icing.

-For icing: cream butter and icing sugar together, slowly adding ginger beer.  Beat until smooth and creamy.  Add mascarpone cheese and beat until just combined.  Use 1/2 of the mixture to sandwich the two cakes together and the rest to decorate the top.

**I baked this as one big cake (I don't have sandwich tins) and found cutting it in half pretty difficult, so would recommend baking as two cakes. I also had trouble with the icing, the butter reacted against the ginger beer and it took beating it all by hand (ouch my arm) for it to come together before adding in the mascarpone.  Because of this I added about 3 Tbsp more icing sugar to help thicken it up. Regardless, this is a very easy cake to eat!!**

Sunday, 13 November 2011

David's Wonky Cake

Although last weekend's Beetroot Cake went down well with my colleagues...and my tummy...there was one person who was not convinced, not impressed and wouldn't even finish his piece! So...we made a deal.  I would make him anything he wanted (Chocolate) but he had to help.  And help he fact David pretty much made the cake himself...with a little help from me.  There was a lot of starting and stopping and double checking...but in the end...into the oven it went.  

And out of the oven it came...

Um....not too sure what happened here, well actually we have a pretty good idea what happened...the springfrom pan wasn't assembled properly...resulting in a wonky cake and burnt cake batter on the floor of the oven.  

Never mind though...a thick layer of ganache and no one's the wiser! 

David's Wonky Cake is a combination of two of our favourite cake recipes, Tessa Kiros's Marble Cake from her book Apples for Jam, and Nigella's Ganache from her Devil's Food Cake recipe in Kitchen.  We halved the ganache recipe and there was just enough to cover this wonky 8" cake.  

I am hoping that one day I will come home to a cake made just for me!

Saturday, 12 November 2011

Nigella's Sweet Potato Supper

This meal, although really easy to throw together, is slightly grander than most of our regular Friday night "it's the weekend" kind of grub.

Bright orange sweet potatoes roasted with asparagus, pancetta and cloves of garlic...what is not to love? The recipe comes from Nigella's Kitchen...recipe sadly not basically wash and dry the sweet potatoes, cut them into 1/4s (rounds) and then roast with asparagus spears, whole cloves of garlic (in skin) and cubes of pancetta...all tossed in a few Tbsp of rapeseed oil.  The recipe says to roast it all for 30 mins and then turn sweet potatoes over and put it all back into the oven for another 30 mins.

When it came out the sweet potatoes were tender and caramelised and just gorgeous...the asparagus was wasn't inedible, but it was pretty crispy. I'd say it was down to the spears being too thin for the length of time they were in the oven...or they were in the oven too time (and there will be a next time) I'm going to toss the asparagus in a little oil and add them after the first 30 mins.

This dish is sweet and salty and...crispy, and surprisingly filling.

Friday, 11 November 2011

Random Recipes does No Croutons Required!!

What a totally fantastic challenge this month! Kudos to both Dom and Jac for being brave enough to host this joint challenge! The theme this month...soup! Perfect for the weather, perfect for the time of year and perfect for me! I try really hard to make at least one big batch of soup a week...something to serve for a meal and then to stretch out over 2 or 3 lunches at work.

Keeping that in mind, my choice wasn't entirely was planned...but it was one of those last minute selections that required a trip out to the grocery store.

The link for this month's recipe comes from one of my favourite time wasting websites, Tastespotting.  I spied it last weekend when I had a spare hour or so to surf and came across this recipe on Elana's Pantry for Butternut Squash and Apple Soup.

This soup is easy to prepare, you just chuck it all in and sauté for a bit until adding the stock.  I made it with veggie stock, making it veggie...but use chicken stock if you like.  The cinnamon was a really nice, seasonal addition...but I think next time I would use less...and maybe less apple.

Sunday, 6 November 2011

Beetroot Poppy Seed Cake...perfect Autumnal Baking

When Nigel Slater baked this cake on his tv show last year I couldn't wait to try it, and for some reason it has taken me until now to actually do it! It is not like I haven't looked at the recipe about a million times...sheesh...I just haven't managed to do anything about it.  But I have been thinking extra hard about it over the last couple of weeks, especially after seeing all the fat beetroots on display at the farmer markets here in Edinburgh.  And so...this finally happened! 

Good ol' Nige says that the beetroot in this cake acts like carrots in carrot can't really taste them.  Well, I don't quite agree.  This cake has a deep earthy flavour...which does taste like beetroot.  But, that's fine with me...cause it tastes great! The poppy seeds add a great texture and the cake itself is really moist.  The glaze on top is a icing sugar and lemon juice mix.  I've been using unrefined icing sugar...and although it looks white in the picture, is actually a tan colour (the poppy seeds really cover it up though!).  

I'm entering this cake for Karen and Kate's Tea Time Treats challenge for November.  I think it is a bit of a stretch on the Ginger and Bonfire treats theme...but...if I had been on task it would have been made yesterday for Bonfire Night...and it is so earthy, and smokey and Autumny! I'm also entering it for Jac from Tinned Tomatoes Bookmarked Recipes November round up.  

Bonfire Chilli for a chilly bonfire night!

It gets dark early up here in Edinburgh.  By 4:30 last night the sky was almost completely dark and the first fireworks could be heard (but not seen...weep) and although I wasn't going out to a bonfire party I thought I'd prepare a warming chilli full of heat and a little BANG! 

I had been looking at Nigella's Cheesy Chilli recipe from Kitchen, she uses some ingredients like chorizo and cocoa that I wasn't prepared to go out and buy especially for this I compared it to the quick chilli recipe in my stand-by Canadian Basics cookbook and another in Jamie's Ministry of Food and thought...hey! I can do this... 

It wasn't like that gloopy...possibly from a tin...chilli you get at pubs on baked potatoes, it was chunky and tasted fresh (if I do say so myself).  I basically softened a finely chopped onion and finely chopped green pepper in a little bit of oil and then added a couple of really fat cloves of minced garlic and the spices....smoked paprika (to replace Nigella's chorizo), cayenne pepper, ground coriander and cumin, and a little dribble of oil to keep the spices from burning.  Once that was all mixed up I chucked in the mince, browned it all and then a tin of tomatoes, about 125ml of water and a tin of kidney beans (drained). After 15mins of boiling with the lid on I added a grated carrot and a really fat green chilli sliced into rounds.  That all simmered with the lid off for about 30 mins, until it was thick and everything was soft...and then...salt and pepper and chopped coriander (which I found lurking in the back of the fridge...still fresh!).  

I have to say I just eyeballed the measurements.  The recipes I looked at all called for one tin of tomatoes and about 125ml of water or stock to 500g meat.  I used about 2 tsp of paprika and a good sprinkle of cayenne.  I doubted the amount of heat...but thought...well I can always add Tabasco later...I didn't need it though!! 

Served with tortillas, plain yoghurt and grated cheese this warmed me right up! The only thing missing...the guac :( I had a huge serving and still managed a little bit left for lunch today and 3/4 of a large ice cream tub full in the freezer for another night! 

Saturday, 5 November 2011

Wholewheat Pizza Crust...a Friday night treat!

David and I used to treat our selves to delivery pizza a lot when we lived in Chelmsford.  Sure, it was a treat...but it seemed to happen pretty know, often enough that we started to get coupons mailed to us personally...anyway...once in a while I would make my own dough from scratch, but now that we've moved up here I have been making it more often.  

I remember my mum making fresh pizza dough when I was little...mixing the dough up in the morning, putting it into a covered bowl and letting it rise all day on top of the fridge.  Simple right? how more simple does it need to be? Well...I haven't quite managed to master the making the dough in the morning bit...but in reality pizza dough tends to have more yeast in it than bread it doesn't need more than 45 mins to rise... the door...warm water, sugar and yeast mixed together before even taking off my coat...and then relax for 10 mins (take off coat...unpack bags...etc etc etc.) Once the yeasty water mixture is all frothy you just add it to a couple of cups of flour, with a pinch of salt, and mix...adding a bit of flour at a time until soft and doughy. have a good 45 mins while it rises to get toppings ready...unload the dishwasher...put on a load of laundry...etc. etc. etc. 

Last night I used 1 3/4 cup white flour and 1 cup wholewheat flour to make my dough, and once the dough had pretty much come together in the bowl I kneaded it for about 5 extra mins by know...get that gluten working.  

I wouldn't say the dough doubled in size...but I suspect that was due to the combination of flours. I will say that it was soft and stretchy and...once cooked...really light.  

When I plan on making a pizza I like to buy a jar of spicy tomato pasta sauce (something chunky more than saucy)...I use about half and then freeze then rest for next time...same with pepperoni...use half, freeze half. It might seem a bit stingy, but it means that for about £2.50 I can sauce and meat two pizzas...the rest of the toppings...a few mushrooms and a bit of green pepper were left overs from during the week. For this pizza (number 2) the only thing I had to buy especially for it, was the cheese.  

Thrifty and tasty!