Wednesday 29 February 2012

Coming Soon...

This weekend is a Sourdough Weekend!

Tuesday 28 February 2012

Falafel at Home

I am terrified of shallow or deep frying at home...that or I am too cheap to pour a vat of oil into a pot...I haven't decided yet.  Anyway, due to that I shy away from making all sorts of things that I would love to try.  One of them is falafel.  I love love love falafel.  I love the falafel themselves and I love the mixture of sauces and pickles and...if you are lucky cabbage...but I've only made them at home once before, and on that occasion they were baked.  

Trawling the internet last week I came across this recipe for pan fried Falafel Burgers.  Despite not having a food processor to whizz all the ingredients up I thought I would give it a go.  

These falafels were really good.  The ingredients are minimal, and there is no tahini involved (something that I don't like buying cause it sits at the back of the fridge for ages).  The only down side to pan fried or oven baked falafel...they are patties instead of lovely little crisp balls.

Oh...the flatbreads...they are Dan Lepard's Corn Oil Flour Tortillas...incredible as always!

Sunday 26 February 2012


I am fortunate enough to be hosting the next baking evening for the Edinburgh Cake Ladies.  I've chosen the theme and the venue is all set.  Now I have the huge responsibility of taking over the admin of the twitter, facebook and email...the biggest component of this responsibility (I feel) is maintaining the stream of pictures and comments about cake, and for this month...Tarts!  Today I strolled over to my local market to do some research...anything in the name of baked goods, right?!

Apricot Tart

White Chilli

I love chilli, really love it...I love the heat, I love the beans and I love the sour cream and shredded cheese topping. Oh! and the tortillas of course.  My problem is that of the few meat chillis I have attempted in the past I have never really been impressed.  It is most likely because I have gone for speedy versions and a really good chilli takes hours for the meat to really break down.  For this reason I usually stick to making a vegetarian chilli that calls for Bulgar Wheat to thicken it. 

Last night I tried something different...

White Chilli.  I am not exactly sure why it is called white chilli, since it is more of a greeny colour.  I can only assume the name comes from the fact that white beans provide the bulk of the meal.  

If pressed I wouldn't actually call this a chilli.  It does have all the heat and punch of a good chilli a description I would say that this is more of a Mexican spiced bean stew...but hey, that's my opinion. Regardless of what it is called this is a good recipe.  You use a bottle of Corona (the recipe says Mexican Beer but I think that Corona, or Sol, has a very distinct flavour) to boil chopped peppers, jalapenos and onion with some chilli flakes and ground cumin to make a stock...that is gorgeous on its own (I'm trying to think of ways I could use it...shredded chicken soup maybe?).  

This chilli recipe calls for a lot of liquid...the bottle of beer and 400ml of stock.  It looked far too wet when I added the beans in so at the same time I sprinkled in 4 Tbsp of Bulgar Wheat.  I think that the addition of the bulgar really made a difference, with out it the chilli would have been far too liquidy.  The next time I make this I'll make up the whole 400ml of stock but only add half at the beginning and then I can add more if it seems to dry.  Or, more beans. 

Saturday 25 February 2012

Dan Lepard's Soya and Linseed Loaf

I am still totally in love with my copy of Dan Lepard's Short and Sweet and the more I look through it the longer the To Make list is getting.  The only problem is...we also have his Handmade Loaf book...which is quickly making the To Make Bread section unmanageable (that and the fact that my starter leaven isn't cooperating). 

Yesterday afternoon I tackled one loaf that really caught my eye when I first flipped through the book.  Soya and Linseed Loaf. I am not sure what caught my attention first, the soya or the linseed but I immediately knew that this was a loaf worth tracking down soya milk and linseed for.  

This loaf is incredibly soft...but also has a really nice chewy crust that tastes almost like it has been toasted.  I don't know why...I am guessing that it is the combination of the soya and the addition of rye flour...what I do know is that I like it.  It also makes me feel ridiculously healthy...oats, linseed, soya, rye flour...and, as usual, totally impressed with myself. 

Random Recipes: 1st Birthday

I can't believe that the Random Recipes challenge, hosted by the fantastic Dom over at Belleau Kitchen, is 1 this month! The theme this month? To return the first book used...and as I scanned the past year's posts in my archive I was surprised to see that it took me a whole 3 months to actually jump on the RR bandwagon.   How horrible is that?! 

My shame at being so awful was quickly tossed aside when I discovered that the first cookbook I used way back all those months ago was the totally adorable Peter Rabbit's Cookbook.  This is one of the sweetest cookbooks ever...hands down.  There is something so pure about it.  Every time I pick it up I feel healthy, I feel cleansed...I feel like a little bunny.  

Who could resist recipes for Squirrel Nutkin's Banana-Nut Loaf (a family favourite), Tabitha Twitchit's Spicy Raisin Dessert, Cat and Rat Tomato Soup or Mrs. Tiggy-Winkle's Tomatoes stuffed with cottage cheese? 

The writing is aimed at little bunnies, reminding us that knives, electric blenders and mixers can be dangerous.  And there is even a chapter entitled "How to like Onions", giving advice on the best onions for little bunny palates. 

My recipe this time? Mr. Pricklepin's Cream or Cottage Cheese Sandwiches

While it appears like mush, I can promise you this is a fantastic little sandwich.  Mr. Pricklepin's recipe has 3 variations.  The one I chose was cottage cheese, finely chopped celery, finely chopped green onion and a sprinkle of sunflower seeds all mashed together and then spread over bread.  I'll admit I added some salt and pepper to the mix (I am an adult bunny after all) and toasted my bread.  Other variations suggest cream or cottage cheese mixed with raisins and seeds, or finely diced cucumber and chopped dill.

The crisps might not be in keeping with the healthy natural foods theme of this cookbook...but it is a birthday party after all! Happy 1st Birthday Random Recipes!

Friday 24 February 2012

East Anglia Staycation 2012

Settling back into the daily routine after our East Anglia staycation 2012...North Norfolk via Essex.  A fantastic trip to the beach and an excellent opportunity to catch up with Essex friends and family.  I have to say the hardest part of this trip was packing! Essex has a certain reputation here, an image...and the clothing that goes along with that image is at odds with beach walks, hiking, crabbing, lounging etc. Regardless of what we were wearing, we ate well! 

I have to say I really love seaside holidays.  There is something so fiercely British about them, especially in the winter, families braving the elements...knowing the promise of chips or ice cream awaits. I am no exception...there is something that makes hot hot chips covered in vinegar and salt that much more special when you are sitting on the pier trying to keep you hair out of your face (because of the wind).  Equally exciting is a small treat of salt watery seafood from the little stall...cockles, whelks, prawns, cray fish...shooing away seagulls while trying to gobble it all up.  

Wednesday 22 February 2012

Year of the Cake: An Evening with the Edinburgh Cake Ladies

Last night I had the pleasure of attending the Edinburgh Cake Ladies first event of 2012 at the uber earthy Earthy Foods Cafe.  I say uber earthy because this cafe is all about local, fresh, in season, and good for the veg, free range eggs, fair trade coffee and fully biodegradible diapers under one roof! Not to mention that local artisanal cakes and pastries and lunch time goodies.  

This is the fourth bake I've been to and I have to say it just keeps getting better and better.  These ladies (no gents this time) know how to bake...and more importantly they know how to eat and work the cake buffet. 21 cakes this time...all different...and all incredible.  

My colleagues at work think I am totally bonkers when I blab on and on about the Cake Ladies and the great people I have met and our mutual love of not just eating cake but baking it.  It is so apparent that each and every cake I have ever tasted at the cake ladies has been born out of love (and maybe a few stressful tears) and that's what I enjoy the most.  These ladies love to do this, some are in the food industry, some are just setting out (more on this another time) and me...wish we could quit our day jobs and do what we love.  Bottom line is the Cake Ladies don't judge...

I arrived a little bit late and the feeding frenzy had well and truly begun, but I managed to get a couple of snaps before the plundering really took hold.  Two of my faves in the foreground of this picture Made By Fi's moorish Bakewell Cake and Michelle's gorgeous Raspberry Ripple.  Ashamedly I didn't manage to eat them on the night...but snuck two rather large slices home in my doggy bag! Two I didn't manage to get a decent picture of were Edinburgh Eats' luscious Espresso Chiffon Cake and Sophie from Scottish Food and Drink Fortnight's Parsnip and Maple Syrup Cake (I great!) 

One of the bonuses (if there were any) of arriving fashionably late was that my cake plate was infact a Cake Slate Plate! I don't, as a rule, like slate plates...but for cake it was incredible...more like a platter, actually! On here you can see Lea's drool worthy Tipsy Trifle Cake and the lovely Helen's Red Velvet Cake (my all time favourite cake flavour). 

The other piddly piece on the slate? Well, that's mine! 

My family favourite...(Nearly) Dead Apple Cake, which I blogged about way back in September 2009.  I have to say my reasons for picking to make this cake were numerous, but I mostly picked it because it is one of the first cakes I learnt to make, it is one of the first cakes I ever made for David when we met at university, it is one of the first cakes I ever blogged about and it is probably my comfort cake.  It makes me think of so many happy times, and also the time the ants got into it at my mum's house one summer and they came crawling out when it was sliced...but, thankfully that didn't happen last night.  

Monday 6 February 2012

Carrot I'm bored moment

Sunday afternoon...the sun is shining...laundry is done...bread is proofing...hubby content...all caught up on my Danish dramas...what to do!? 

I hadn't planned on baking cakes this was (meant to be) all about the yeast...but then I got caught with a MAJOR case of the boreds.  Bored bored bored...nothing to watch on tv...the book I am reading is horrible...nothing to knit...nothing nothing nothing to do (well I guess I could have scrubbed the grout in the bathroom) I wandered into the kitchen and aimlessly flipped through the most recent edition of delicious magazine...bored bored bored...carrot cake!! I have about 2kg of carrots in my crisper drawer just screaming to be out they came...and then it was time to get creative! And I mean it!!

The recipe that caught my eye was Paul Hollywood's...but...there were a few things that I was missing from the ingredient I used my honed 21st Century Urban Housewife skills and adapted the recipe to what I happened to have in the cupboard (which was pretty much bare!...poor urban mother hubbard)!  

Self Raising Flour became 1/3 white flour, 1/3 whole wheat and 1/3 rye flour
1tsp baking powder became 1 1/2  heaping tsps
Nuts became sultanas
Satsuma zest became orange and lemon zest
I went a bit heavier on the mixed spice and ginger and less on the cinnamon
I upped the oil by 25ml because of the whole wheat and rye flours
I was tempted to throw in some wheat germ...but stopped there...

Once cooled I mixed up some icing sugar and milk and gave it a quick glaze, which makes the top have a nice crunch.  

You know what?! It is pretty darn good if I do say so myself! When I eat it I feel super smug...smug because wholewheat and rye flours make it feel healthy...smug because I adapted the recipe to suit my needs...smug because it turned out...and smug because it is all MINE! 

Sunday 5 February 2012

A Winter Apple Loaf

I think it is safe to say I have gone bread baking mad.  I think that over the last month I have settled into baking bread more often than cakes or cookies or anything else sweet...I feel that this year (as opposed to last year's resolution) I have really embraced baking bread from scratch.  

On Saturday I had planned to make a cinnamon raisin loaf...something to toast in the mornings (I am a total bread warden when it comes to slicing the sandwich loaves) or to snack on with a cup of tea in the afternoons...but when I spied Dan Lepard's recipe for Winter Apple Loaf  I immediately wrote myself a shopping list and ran out to Sainsburys.

There is no picture of this loaf in Short & Sweet...Dan's description totally drew me in...log fires...real ale...pulled pork sandwiches.  Ok, ok, ok...not exactly the sweet raisin cinnamon bread I had in mind, but in my mind's eye I could just picture the roaring fire and me cuddled up on the couch with a hunk of this bread slathered in butter and cheese...or even honey.

This bread was interesting to make, you put all the wet ingredients into a large bowl and then add the flour on top.  The dough was wet...really wet and I ended up adding some extra flour when I kneaded it...for longer than the recommended 10 seconds.  I am totally on board with Lepard's gentle kneading routine, I just really didn't feel that this dough was right and seeing as there was no reference in the text to this being a wet dough I just went with my gut.  

In the end the bread turned out amazing...but I have to admit I did agonise over it for the hour and 45 min it took to proof.  If you do make this loaf I would suggest letting it cool completely before cutting into is a dense loaf and felt a bit too moist when still warm...but later on, when completely cooled it was AMAZING!