Wednesday, 25 December 2013

Merry Christmas!!

Hope you all have a lovely day and get (and give) everything you wanted. Big love x

Tuesday, 24 December 2013

Hot Chocolate Cupcakes with Candy Cane Sprinkles

I don't like chocolate cake, call me weird but I'd take a vanilla sponge any day. But then I discovered these. They contain no butter and real hot chocolate so they are more like brownies. Top them off with squirty cream and marshmallows they are just like a real hot chocolate, with the added bonus of being in cake form.

For the cupcakes:
  • 225g plain flour
  • 225g sugar
  • 100g chocolate chips
  • 2 tbsp cocoa powder
  • 1 tsp bicarbonate of soda
  • Half a tsp of baking powder
  • 2 eggs, beaten
  • 75ml vegetable oil
  • 200ml hot chocolate (made with milk)
  • 1 tsp vanilla extract
For the toppings:
  • Squirty cream
  • Chocolate curls
  • Marshmallows
  • Chocolate sauce
  • A couple of candy canes, crushed
(Makes 12 large cupcakes or 24 small)

Preheat your oven to 180c and line your cupcake or muffin tins with cases. In large bowl combine the flour, sugar, cocoa powder, baking powder and bicarbonate of soda. Then add the oil, hot chocolate, vanilla and eggs and mix thoroughly. When well combined, stir in the chocolate and then even divide then fill each cupcake case to about two-thirds full.

Bake for 20 minutes, until a skewer inserted into the centre comes out completely clean. Leave to cool in the tin for 10 minutes and then move to a wire rack.

Don't add your toppings until you are ready to eat them because the squirty cream will melt even at room temperature. If you need them to last a bit longer substitute the squirty cream for butter cream.

Sit back and enjoy with a glass of milk. x

Monday, 23 December 2013

Christmas Cookies

Christmas is nearly upon us - only 2 more sleeps! (Not that I'm counting or anything...) Who else is excited? I tend to go way too over the top with baking around Christmas and this year is no exception. These buttery cookies have been going down a treat, especially with a certain dog. 

What you'll need:
  • 400g plain flour
  • 225g butter
  • 350g sugar
  • 1 egg
  • 1 tsp vanilla extract
  • 1 tsp baking powder
  • Half a tsp bicarbonate of soda
  • Writing icing and sprinkles to decorate.
(Makes 30)

Preheat your oven to 160c (fan). In a large bowl cream together the butter and sugar then beat in the egg and vanilla. Gradually sift in the flower, baking powder and bicarbonate of soda and mix together until you have a ball of cookie dough.

Roll the dough out until 75mm thick. If you find that your dough is sticking to the table just add more flour. Cut out using a star cutter or whatever shape you fancy and place on a baking sheet lined with greaseproof paper. Bake for 10 minutes or so. When they come out the oven they will still be soft so leave to cool on the tray for 5 minutes before transferring to a wire rack.

When completely cool go mad with decorations.

You can also make these into tree decorations - just make a hole in them before you bake them and thread them with ribbon. x

Sunday, 22 December 2013

Garlic Butter Prawns

I am currently having a love affair with seafood, especially shellfish. I discovered this recipe last night.

What you'll need:

  • 750g jumbo prawns (cooked)
  • 12 tbsp butter
  • 4 garlic cloves (crushed)
  • 60ml white wine
  • 1 lemon (juice and zest)
  • A handful of fresh parsley (chopped)
  • Salt and pepper
  • Lemon wedges to serve
  • A loaf of ciabatta or similar bread
(Serves 4)

In a large frying pan melt 2 tbsp of the butter on a medium-low heat and add the minced garlic, stirring frequently so it softens but doesn't brown (about 2 minutes). Add the wine, lemon zest and lemon juice and increase the heat to bring to the boil. Boil for around a minute until reduced by half and turn down the heat again. Melt in the remaining 10 tbsp butter, one at a time and add salt and pepper/more garlic and lemon as needed. 

When all the butter has melted into a creamy sauce add the prawns and coat well. Cook for 3-5 minutes to ensure they are piping hot. Transfer to a serving dish and sprinkle with parsley. Serve with the lemon wedges and sliced ciabatta.


Saturday, 14 December 2013

The Gilbert Scott

Last night I was treated to an amazing meal at The Gilbert Scott, the restaurant in the St Pancras Renaissance Hotel. Tucked away on a corner table the busyness of the restaurant did not at all spoil the casual atmosphere. Inspired by the history of the building, the menu is compiled of twists on British classics.

To start: oysters which had this amazing sticky sweet lemon garnish.

Followed by pollock with cannellini beans and chorizo for me and steak with a side of cauliflower pudding for Rich. (I had slight food envy, I'm not going to lie).

Topped off with an incredibly rich salted praline tart and a light and creamy clementine posset.


Sunday, 8 December 2013

Classic Mince Pies

It's no secret. Christmas is my favourite time of year. Today we bought the tree, put the lights up and started burning the Christmas candles so I thought it was the perfect time to make mince pies. Of course you can use mincemeat from a jar but every year my nan makes Delia's mincemeat which is amazing.

For the mincemeat:

  • 250g bramley apples
  • 2oz shredded suet
  • 3oz raisins 
  • 2oz sultanas
  • 2oz currants 
  • 2oz mixed candied peel
  • 3oz soft dark brown sugar
  • Half an orange, juice and zest
  • Half a lemon, juice and zest 
  • 1 tsp mixed spice
  • Half tsp cinnamon
  • Quarter tsp grated nutmeg
  • 1 and a half tbsp brandy
  • 2 sterilised jars and wax discs
(Makes 2 jars - roughly 650g)

Combine all the ingredients except the brandy in a large bowl and stir until well combined. Cover the bowl with a clean tea towel and leave the mixture in a cool place overnight so the flavours have a chance to mingle and develop.

The next day pre-heat your oven to 110c. Cover the bowl loosely with foil and place in the oven for 3 hours. When you take it out the oven it will look like it is swimming in fat but don't worry, as it cools this will encase all the other ingredients (err Christmas food contains no calories right?). Stir from time to time as it is cooling and then add the brandy when the mincemeat is cold. 

To sterilise your jars, wash them in warm soapy water, rinse and then dry. Place on a baking tray in pop in the oven at 180c for 5 minutes.

Spoon your mincemeat into your jars while they are still warm, cover with a wax disc and seal tight. This should keep for up to 3 years.

For the pies:
  • 4oz plain flour
  • 4oz self raising flour
  • 4oz butter, cut into cubes
  • 1 tbsp caster sugar
  • 4 tbsp cold water
  • Half an orange, zest only
  • Half a lemon, zest only
  • 9oz mincemeat
(Makes 12)
Pre-heat the oven to 180c. Blitz both flours and the butter in a food processor until you have fine breadcrumbs. Add the sugar and half the lemon and orange zest and blitz again. 

Add 4 tablespoons of cold water and whizz until combined in a ball. Roll the dough thinly on a floured surface and stamp 8cm circles. 

Grease a 12-hole cupcake tin and pop a circle in each hole. Add a spoon of mincemeat to each one and then sprinkle over the remaining zest. 

Roll your remaining pastry into a ball, re-roll flat and cut 12 stars. Place one on top of each pie, pushing them down slightly. 

Bake for 15 minutes and dust with icing sugar. 

Serve with cream or brandy butter. x

Sunday, 1 December 2013

Moroccan Cous Cous

Handing over to my Mum for this recipe. It is Moroccan cous cous which she adapted off the back of the really yummy Sainsbury's stuff. So now we get taste the difference cous cous for only a fraction of the price. Genius.

What you'll need:

  • 75g bulgur wheat
  • 1 pint boiling water
  • 3 spring onions, chopped
  • 3-4 tbsp coriander, chopped
  • 1 tbsp parsley, chopped
  • 1-2 tsp of ras el hanout (a blend of cumin, paprika, chilli, cinnamon and rose petals)
  • A handful of raisins and apricots
  • A sprinkle of saffron
  • Lemon juice to taste
(Serves 2)

Put your bulgur wheat in a heat proof bowl and pour over three quarters of the boiling water. Add a few strands of saffron and leave to soak for around 30 minutes. The raisins and apricots need to be soaked in the last quarter of the boiling water for 15 minutes. 

Drain the bulgur wheat and fruits to get rid of any excess water and fluff up with a fork. Stir in the remaining ingredients, leaving a little parsley aside to sprinkle over the top. 

This dish goes great with lamb or stuffed peppers and I also added a few black olives to mine. x