Tuesday, 9 January 2018

Breakfast of superheros

OK not quite but this is packed full of goodness.

I make overnight oats with 1 cup of oats and 1 cup of milk and some nutmeg and cinammon. You can also add honey at this time. Mix and leave in the fridge overnight. In the morning I then heat it (we prefer it warm) and add extras to taste. I often add chia seeds before heating. I like it with plump sultanas but I have also started added matcha- this is an intense powder of green tea and claims to have a lot of health benefits including reducing inflammation and adding digestion and sleep. For this one I have added a green tea match and a turmeric matcha (this one is caffeine free).

It really does set you up for the day.


I've adapted a few recipes I've used before to come up with this one which created a lovely crisp top and soft centre. Went down well with a crowd of children.

Take 200g dark chocolate and 100g milk chocolate and 250g butter.

Melt together in a bowl in the microwave.

Meanwhile whisk together 4 large eggs, 100g self-raising flour, 50g cocoa powder (this can be reduced or removed if you want a less intense chocolate hit) and 250g caster sugar. Whisk for a few minutes so it gets frothy.

Put the mix in a lined tin. Mix in the cooled chocolate and bake at 180 degrees for about 40-45 minutes. Allow to cool slightly in the tin before taking out to cool fully.

Saturday, 6 January 2018

Baked olives and feta

This is very simple but really changes some simple olives into something really special for nibbles.

Take a mix of red and black pitted olives. Spread in an ovenproof dish and sprinkle over some chilli flakes and fennel seeds. Crumble over some feta and drizzle with olive oil.

Bake at 200 degrees for about 12 minutes and serve either with bread cocktail sticks.

Cocktail sausages

For parties you want small nibbles. I try and get small cocktail sausages but the local butchers often don't stock them all year. They passed on this great tip. Get your normal chipolata and pinch a third in from each end.

Where there is then a slack bit you can twist and you turn your sausage into three small ones. Snip and cook as normal.

Mushroom and leek tarlets

Take a pack of ready rolled shortcrust pastry and cut out 12 rings with pastry cutters that are slightly bigger than a muffin tin hole.

Roll together the left over pastry and cut out two small stars.

Meanwhile heat some butter and fry gently one large leek without colouring it. Add 1 tbsp of caster sugar to caramelise it slightly.
Add some chopped garlic and 250g of mushrooms and some chopped sun dried tomatoes.

Fry gently until cooked and most liquid removed.

Put the pastry circles in the holes of a greased muffin tin.

Divide the mushroom mix between the pastry.

Top with some grated gruyere and a pastry star and brush with egg.

Bake at 200 degrees for about 15 minutes until golden.

Lustre prosecco

You can buy a special product that gives your drinks a shimmer but also flavours them which I generally don't want (and is not really that cost effective)

Instead I experimented with some lustre powder I use in cake making and it worked just as well. The photos do not give it justice but what you need to do is put a tiny bit (tip of the end of a tsp) into a glass and add prosecco (or other drink of choice). It works best if you pour the drink over the powder rather than the other way round and then try and stir it. The photos do not really give the effect that it creates.

It gives a really nice sparkle with swirls of lustre through the drink. Very effective.

You can also put some lustre into ice cubes with some other ingredients (fruits and spices) and as it melts in the drink a lustre appears.

Chocolate chiffon cake with salted caramel sauce

We love a good chocolate cake and I must admit this recipe beats most others I've tried. It is chocolatey and light at the same time. The lightness comes from the rising agent being the fluffed egg whites and the oil rather than butter. Great at a party since it is impressive but can be made in advance which is always a plus!

Begin with the cake- separate 7 eggs. When separating eggs I have three bowls. I crack the egg over one bowl and separate the white into it and then put the egg in another bowl. I then put the white into the third bowl and start again with the process with the first bowl. That way if you make a mistake with one egg and it doesn't separate properly you will have only done this with one egg rather than ruining the whole batch you have done so far.

Whisk together the 7 yolks, 125 ml of oil, 2 tsp vanilla bean paste of extract, 350g caster sugar and 200ml water.

Then add 50g cocoa powder and whisk again.

Then add 300g plain flour, 2 tsp bicarbonate soda and a tsp salt.

Whisk up the 7 egg white.

Combine this with the above mix until combined. Put in a large tin (23cm round or square) and then bag on a surface to get rid of any big air bubbles.

Bake at 160 degrees for an hour and 10 mins. Check after an hour that it is not too brown and cover with foil then if it is browning enough.

When baked remove from the oven and allow to cool for about 10 minutes and then cool fully on a rack.

While the cook is cooking make the ganache topping and the caramel.

For the salted caramel heat 250g brown sugar, 1/2 tsp of salt and 150g double cream until the sugar is melted and then boil for a few minutes.

Then pour into a cool bowl and cool completely. Beat 140g butter til fluffy and then add the cool sugar and beat. Refrigerate until needed.

For the ganache heat 250g double cream until nearly boiling.

Then add in 250g of finely chopped or grated dark chocolate (I did this in a food processor).

Stir until it is smooth and blended and then leave to cool and thicken until it is a spreadable consistency.

To assemble, cut the cake in half and fill with the two thirds of the caramel filling.

Top with the other half of the cake.

Top with the remaining third of the caramel.

Put the ganache in a piping bag with a star nozzle and pipe all over. Sprinkle with sea salt crystals.

I then painted it with gold lustre and gold stars.