Tuesday, 24 May 2011

Cupcakes and truffles

A super quick post tonight but just wanted to put up some pics of some cupcakes and chocolate truffles (infused with orange zest) that I've made over the last few days.

The cupcakes are decorated with a mix of English and American buttercream icing and lots of decorations and sparkles!

Two things I just love to make and I just wanted to share.

Til soon....

Wednesday, 18 May 2011

Oven poached salmon and mash

We all know fish is good for you but people are often put off with how to cook it (other than battered and fried!) so that it is tasty, quick and someting that the whole family will enjoy it.

Salmon is a family favourite and this is a really lovely way to cook it that keeps the fish moist but is also very healthy.

Start by placing a piece of salmon on a large square of foil (the shiny side should be facing inwards and the matt side on the surface- this will mean that the heat is absorbed into the packet rather than reflected). Drizzle over some olive oil and some seasoning. Add a few drops of lemon juice and a tiny dusting of curry powder (you won't really taste this but it adds a lovely dimension).

Pull up the sides of the foil so that it is an open package and pour in a couple of tablespoons of white wine.

Then seal the top of the foil to enclose the salmon. Keep it quite loose so that steam can circulate to cook the salmon evenly.

Bake in the oven at 180 degrees C for 25 minutes.

Serve with vegetables and potatoes of choice- works very well with buttered new potatoes. This time I did it with mashed potatoes and steamed brocolli.

And the best way of telling it is a hit- the girls clearing their plates!
For a more adult version you can flavour the salmon a little more- slices of lemon, bay leaves all give a nice added delicate flavour.

Cook as before and the lemon and bay leaves will gently infuse the salmon.

I served this with boiled and buttered anaya potatoes and a vegetable stir fry with a chilli dressing.

Really delicious, healthy and something you can whisk together in half an hour.

Til soon....

Beetroot soup

I had a really nice beetroot and chocolate cake at the weekend (will put up a blog on a recipe soon) and it got me back in a beetroot mood! I love beetroot- slow baked and served with onions and sliced cooked potato (with a dash of cream) it's a great side dish.

I have a bunch of beetroots that I've been trying to decide what to do with and decided to make beetroot soup for lunch today. Just look at that colour!


Start by washing the beetroots carefully (be careful not to tear the skin) and placing the untrimmed beetroots in pieces of foil, top with seasoning and butter and wrap each in a parcel. Place in an ovenproof dish and cook for a couple of hours in a 180 degree oven.

Once they are cooked, open the parcels and then leave to cool.

Then peel the skin off (wear gloves to stop your hands getting dyed red!)

Then chop each beetroot into pieces.

While the beetroots are cooking make your vegetable stock (unless you already have some to hand). Fill a small saucepan three quarters full of water (just over a litre) and add your vegetables of choice- I used some leek, celery, carrots, onion, potatoes as well as a bouquet garni and some peppecorns.

Boil or an hour and then sieve to get the vegetable stock.

Once the beetroots are cooked, chop up two onions.

Fry in some butter in a pan. Cover with some baking paper and lower the heat and allow to cook gently this way for about 10 minutes.

After the 10 minutes remove the paper lid and add the chopped beetroots, stock and a cup of milk.

Puree to a smooth consistency and then season to taste.

You don't need to add any potatoes to this recipe since the beetroots will thicken the soup on their own.

Serve as it is or with a swirl of creme fraiche. A really tasty soup (and the colour I think is just fabulous!)

Til soon.....

Tuesday, 17 May 2011

Baked apples

Following on from my last post on mini toad in the holes, the girls also wanted a hot pudding tonight (I don't always indulge!) so thought I'd make some baked apples.

Quite an easy recipe to prepare- core one bramley cooking apple per person and fill the hole with sultanas and top with some cinammon and brown sugar. Place into a buttered dish.

Bake for 45 minutes until the apples are all fluffy.

They can be served just like this or the centre scooped out.

Serve with custard, cream, ice cream etc. Tonight the girls had some of the dulche de leche buttercream topping that was left over from the chocolate cupcakes I made at the weekend and that works very well (as would the pure dulche de leche).

A lovely pudding that is quick to make and great for both the kids' tea or after a sunday lunch or even as a simple pudding after an informal dinner with friends.

Til soon...

Mini toad in the holes

I've adapted this from a canape recipe I was shown for mini beef and yorkshire puddings. My girls asked for toad in the hole for dinner and so I thought I'd adapt the above idea to this recipe.

Start off getting your oven really hot (around 230 degrees C) and spreading each hole of two 12 cup muffin tins with some sunflower oil.

When the oven is hot put the tins into the oven and allow them to get really hot (around 10 minutes). Meanwhile cut up 6 chipolatas each into 4 pieces (so that you have 24 pieces in total).

When the oil is hot put a piece

Then put this back in the oven for about 10 minutes so that the sausages brown.

Meanwhile make the batter- measure out 50ml cold water and 80ml milk. Measure out 75g flour into a bowl and add a pinch of salt. Make a well in the centre of the flour and add an egg then mix this in. Then add the milk and water mix and blend well to make a smooth batter. It doesn't look like a lot but this will make 24.

When the sausages have browned remove from the oven.

Then divide out the batter between the 24 cups. It should not completely fill the cups or they will overflow when they rise in the oven.

Put back in the oven for another 10 minutes until the Yorkshires puff up and become golden but not too crispy.

Once cooked remove from the tins and put onto a plate to serve. Great as a quick tea after school or as an easy canape with friends. The plateload has just been demolished by the girls (helped a little by me and their daddy!)

Til soon....

Chocolate truffles

Following on from my last blog I thought I'd put up a quick blog on just making chocolate truffles. There are obviously lots of variations on the ganache filling but this is one that I really like (which is what I used in the previous blog on the chocolate cupcakes with ganache filling). It creates great chocolate that can rival those that you can buy for a lot of money!

Heat 80ml double cream (I do this in the microwave for minute or so til just bubbling) and then add 200g of dark chocolate (you can change this to milk or white or a mix depending on your personal taste and the look you are creating) broken into small pieces, together with 2 tsps coffee powder, 1 tbsp icing sugar and 3 tsps irish cream liquor (you can leave this out or put in a liquor of your taste). The hot cream will melt the chocolate and stir it all together until you have a smooth mixture. Then place this in fridge to set (leave it a good hour so that it is nice and firm).

Once it is set it will look as follows:

When it is set you then need to take small teaspoonfull amounts and place onto a baking tray lined with baking paper. You can either leave them rough as they are dropped from the spoon or roll into balls (use the tips of your fingers with cold hands to stop the ganache melting- dust your hands with a little cocoa powder as well to stop the ganache sticking to your hands).

Put these back into the fridge for half an hour or so just to reset firm. They then need their outer shell (you can just serve them like this but won't hold their shape for long in any warmth. There are lots of choices- crushed nuts, powdered nuts, melted chocolate (whatever type you like- milk, dark, white), cocoa powder etc. This time I used melted white chocolate for contrast. For the amount above I melted 200g white chocolate drops and then allowed to cool a little (but not reset!)

I then picked up a truffle on the end of a tooth pick and dipped it in the melted chocolate to coat it using a spoon to cover it all.

Continue with all the chocolate working quite quickly. The melted chocolate must not be too hot or it will start melting the ganache making it hard to work with but if it is hardening it won't work either. Keep the room as cool as possible to keep the ganache from melthing while you are working.

Once finished leave the truffles to set.

They can also be rolled in cocoa powder straight after rolling in the melted chocolate to give another finish.

They are great at the end of a dinner party or as a present wrapped up with nice tissue paper and ribbons. Enjoy!

Til soon....

Chocolate truffle cupcakes with dulche de leche buttercream topping

I was away on a hen do at the weekend and was asked to bring along the baking for the group. The bride-to-be has a huge chocolate addiction (makes mine looks positively tame!) and so everything had a chocolate theme. These cupcakes were as chocolately as it gets. I was going to do a chocolate topping but felt it needed some contrast so opted for dulche de leche buttercream topping which is incredibly moreish and works really well.

To start you need to make the truffle filling. For this you need to heat 80ml double cream (I do this in the microwave for minute or so til just bubbling) and then add 200g of dark chocolate broken into small pieces, together with 2 tsps coffee powder, 1 tbsp icing sugar and 3 tsps irish cream liquor (you can leave this out or put in a liquor of your taste). The hot cream will melt the chocolate and stir it all together until you have a smooth mixture. Then place this in fridge to set (leave it a good hour so that it is nice and firm).

Next get on with the cakes. Heat the oven to 180 degrees C and line 24 muffin trays with paper liners (this recipe makes a lot of cakes but you can halve it if you don't need so many). Next get all your ingredients together:

150g dark chocolate chocolate, chopped fine
100g cocoa powder
300ml hot coffee
225g bread flour (creates really moist and yet dense cakes)
340g sugar
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/2 tsp. bicarbonate of soda
12 tbsps vegetable oil
2 large eggs
2 tsps white vinegar
1 tsp vanilla extract

Put the chocolate and cocoa powder into a large bowl.

Pour over the hot coffee.

Stir everything together to make a smooth mixture and then allow to cool.

Whisk oil, eggs, vinegar (don't worry you don't taste it) and vanilla together.

Add this to the cooled chocolate mixture and blend well.

Put the flour, bicarbonate of soda, salt and sugar in a bowl and mix together and then finally add this to the mixture.

Divide the mixture between the cases (only fill about three quarters of the cases- if there is some left over you can always do another round of cakes when this lot are cooked and the tins are free).

Remove the chocolate ganache (truffle mixture) from the fridge- it should be completely set.

Drop a teaspoon of the ganache into each cupcake- use one spoon to scoop and another to push it off that spoon into the cake. This will sink into the cake while it is cooking so it is completely enveloped with cake.

Put in the oven and bake for around 15-20 minutes. They should be just firm to touch when they are done. Remove from oven and allow to cool.

Meanwhile make the topping. The dulche de leche is absolutely amazing- you can buy it ready made but it is much nicer (and cheaper!) to make it yourself. It is basically boiled milk and sugar so you can do it with the raw ingredients but the easiest way is to use a can of condensed milk (you can use the light version if you want it slightly less calorific!) Pierce the can at the top with a can opener and place in a saucepan (holes facing up!) and fill with hot water until about a centimetre below the top of the can.

Boil gently for about 2.5 hours topping up with water where necessary. About 1.5 hours gives you a fairly liquid dulce de leche and about 4 hours gives you a set dulche de leche. Around 2.5 hours gives you a good consistency for this recipe.

Let this cool in the can. Meanwhile cream together 175g soft unsalted butter with 300g icing sugar using an electric mixer (start slow or the icing sugar will puff up everywhere!)

Add 2 tbsps double cream and 1 tsp vanilla and continue beating til smooth.

Add the prepared dulche de leche sauce to taste- start with half the can and keep adding until it is the taste you like. You can add the whole can to start with. Mix again so you have a smooth mix.

Use this to ice the cakes. It can make it easier to spread if you put it in the fridge first for half an hour.
Decorate the top as you like. The centre will still be a gooey truffle which gives a really intense hit (didn't get a chance to photograph one cut open!) Very rich and with a real chocolate hit.

Til soon....