Friday, 14 March 2014

Doggie treats

This year brought a new arrival- a labrador puppy. She loves her food but treats are costly and also she is a typical lab and so we need to watch her waist line.

I've made her some sweet potato chews which are very easy and cheap (not don't allow too many at once since they can upset their tummy).

Take a few large sweet potatoes and wash and slice fairly thickly. Bake on the lowest setting for about three hours (turning half way through). They will come out soft but they will toughen on cooling.

These biscuits are also very easy to make and cheap.

Begin by combining 2 cups of wholewheat flour and 1 cup of oats. Add to this half  cup of vegetable oil, 1.5 cups of water 1 tsp vanilla, 1 tbsp honey, 1 beaten egg, 3 tbsp crunchy peanut butter and 1 mashed banana.

Combine until you have a fairly even dough- add more water or flour as required.

When you have a workable dough, line and grease a baking sheet. It is quite a sticky dough so to save your sanity, rather than rolling it out and cutting out shapes which can get messy, oil your cutter and then press the mix directly into the mould on the sheet. You should be able to then just push out shaped quantities of the dough.

I made these quite large since they cook better I feel and I can then break them up as required (or give her a whole one for special treats!)

Bake at the lowest setting for 6-8 hours until they are really dry and hard. You can store them in an air tight container for a week or so.

Friday, 7 March 2014

Double Orange Cake

A very light and moist sponge so really needs to be eaten within 24 hours of making. It is not a stodgy cake at all and you can really taste the orange.

Cake couldn't be easier. Combine 175g butter (or stork works just as well and doesn't need softening), 175g caster sugar, 175g self-raising flour, 3 eggs, 1.5 tsps baking powder and the grated rind and juice of one orange. You really do taste the orange so choose a nice juicy one. The thickness of the skin also makes a difference- those with a lot of pith tend to have a more bitter taste.

Once it is all combined pour into a 20cm deep round cake tin that has been greased and lined. Bake at about 170 degrees for about 40 minutes until it is golden and risen and springs back to touch.

Leave to cool on a rack. When it is cool brush the top with warmed apricot jam to create a crumb coating (stops the icing mixing into the cake to give a smoother finish).

Then combine 100g icing sugar with the juice of about half an orange until it is a coating consistency. Pour this over the cake and smooth with a palette knife. Then decorate with some grated orange (use the one that you took the juice for the topping from).

Saturday, 1 February 2014

steamed chocolate pudding

To make the sauce- melt together 100g butter, 50g light sugar, 100g dark chocolate, 1 tbsp golden syrup and 2 tbsp milk  and 2 tbsp cream in a bowl over a pan until smooth. 

Pour 8 tbsps into a greased pudding basin and keep the rest in a jug for later. 

To make the pudding melt together 100g butter, 85g light or dark brown sugar and 2tbps golden syrup and then combine this with 225 g self-raising flour, 2 large eggs, 50g cocoa, 150ml milk, pinch salt, 1 tsp ground cinammon and zest of an orange into a food mixer and blend together.

Put this mix on top of the sauce and put a greased lid on the basin.

Put in a large pan and put in enough water to come three quarters of the way up the side and then simmer or one and a quarter hours. 

Turn out onto a plate and serve with the extra (warmed) chocolate sauce and custard or ice cream.

Saturday, 16 November 2013

Chicken filo pastry pie

A lighter alternative to a normal chicken pie.

Begin cooking the filling. Fry 500-750g cubed chicken til cooked through but don't brown it. Remove from the pan and then cook 3 shredded leeks and about 500g sliced mushrooms.

When these have wilted stir through 1 tbsp plain flour and cook for a couple of minutes.

Then add 125 ml of white wine (or sherry works well too) and 200ml of chicken stock and cook for about 5 mins allowing to thicken.

Then add about 150g of cream cheese with garlic and herbs and mix in until this melts. Then return the chicken and a good handful of chopped parsely and stir together.

This can be kept in the fridge overnight if needed. Then put in a pie dish and cover with buttered filo strips rippled over the top (I used about 5 this time).

Bake at 200 degrees for about 35 minutes until the top becomes golden brown. Serve with new potatoes and a green salad.

Roasted vegetable and goats cheese tart

Made this as the vegetarian option for a big family lunch since had a roll of puff pastry and thought this was quite simply- expected lots of left over- this was chosen by everyone even the meateaters and was completely polished off!

You can use really whatever you want on the base. For this recipe I began by wilting some leeks in some butter and lemon juice. Allow this to cool a little and then mix with 2 tbsps of tomato puree, 2 tbsps of pesto, 1 tbsp dijon mustard, 100g cream cheese with garlic and herbs, some chopped spring onions and a good handful of herbs (fresh basil or parsley work well).

Prepare the vegetables by roasting in oil. I used red peppers, courgettes and aubergines (which I pre-salted before roasting).

Drizzles with a good dose of oil and some chopped garlic and roast in a hot oven for about 30 mins until starting to char. The oil from the vegetables can be added to the above cheese mix.

This can be all done in advance. On the day roll out your puff pastry onto a pre-lined baking sheet and use a sharp knife to put an edge all around the pastry about an inch in. Cover the base with the cheese mix and then top with the roasted vegetables. Finally cover with  some more spring onions and toasted pine nuts.

Top with slices of goats cheese and some pepper (no salt is needed).

Roast in a hot oven (around 200 degrees) for about 20 mins- the sides will puff up and the cheese will melt.

Birthday cakes

Following on from my last post here is some of the birthday cakes for my youngest 6th birthday- a malterser cake (using the last recipe ) and some cupcakes

The best chocolate birthday cake

I've been making this for years for my girls. It's very easy but the yoghurt and oil mix makes it a very light cake.

Being mixing 250ml of sunflower oil with 150g caster sugar.

Then blend in 225ml of yoghurt.

Add to this 2 eggs, 225ml of self raising flour, 2 tsps baking powder, 2 tsps of vanilla extract and 1.5 tbsp of cocoa powder (you can omit the cocoa if you want a plain rather than chocolate sponge).

Whisk til combined,

Line two sandwich tins and divide the mix.

Bake at 160 degrees for about 35 mins til risen and cooked through.

To ice make up chocolate fondant icing- heat 60ml of double cream with 100g plain chocolate until melted and combine. Take a few spoonfuls of this and whisk together with some double cream that has been whisked til stiff.

Cover the cake with an apricot glaze and sandwich together with the chocolate mixed with the whipped cream. Using the remaining chocolate to cover the top and decorate.

You can use the mix to bake in a chiffon tin and cook for about 50 mins. If you want to cover the whole cake heat 200ml of double cream and then add 200g of plain chocolate. This is more than enough to fill and ice the cake.