Sunday, 29 September 2013

Sticky toffee pudding

I've posted up a recipe for this before but this one is slightly different and is baked rather than boiled (and not in a waterbath).

Being by simmering 200g of dates in 250ml of tea (not too strong). I HATE tea but don't worry you do not taste it. But it does give a certain depth to the pudding that you don't normally get if you use water. Simmer for about 5 minutes until they have softened and break them up with a fork.


Add in 1/2 tsp bicarbonate of soda. This will froth up.


Give it a good stir.


Leave to cool slightly. Meanwhile measure 175g caster sugar and 85g softened butter.


Beat til light and fluffy.


Then add 2 eggs, 175g self-raising flour and 1tsp mixed spice.


Beat mix together.


Add in the cooled date mix.


Beat again.


Pour the mix into a greased ovenproof dish. You don't need to worry about pureeing the dates since they should have broken up with the cooking and mixing. This can then be baked straight away or kept overnight in the fridge. When you are ready for it bake for about 35-40 mins at 180 degrees until risen and the top is firm to the touch.


While it is cooking make the sauce- put 200g butter, 200g light muscadavo sugar and 284ml double cream in a pan and heat.


Stir and simmer until you get a slightly thickened toffee-coloured sauce.


Serve while warm. Usual combo of ice-cream, creme fraiche or pouring cream work well with it if you want the extra calories!


Slow roast shoulder of pork


A great Sunday roast with friends. I've adapted two recipes- one that is a slow cook in the oven and another that is a much longer one in the slow cooker. This means that the meal can be cooked overnight mainly so can be ready for midday lunch but has a blast at the start and the end in the oven to crisp up the skin.

Begin with the marinade- get a whole bulb of garlic and put in all the cloves (microwave for 30 seconds and the skins just slip off). Add 100ml vegetable oil, juice of 3 lemons and 2 tsps of smoked paprika.


Blitz it all together.


Put the joint on a rack over a tray and baste with the marinade. If you have time leave this overnight in the fridge.


Preheat the oven to 220 degrees C and roast the joint for 30 mins til the skin starts to puff up and crackle.


Line the base of your slow cooker with chopped potatoes.


Place the roast on top of the potatoes that will act like a trivet.


Baste with the remaining marinade.


Pour in 175ml of white wine.


Then just put on the lid and cook for 10 hrs (if you want it for lunchtime I use a timer switch for it to come on at the right time in the night).

When the time is up, line the base of a roast dish with some red onions and carrots (chopped into large chunks) again to act as a trivet. Put the joint in the middle and put the potatoes round the edge and roast again at 200 degrees for 30 mins to puff up the cracking. The meat will be very tender and will fall apart with just a fork.


Or you can leave the meat and potatoes to rest and take off the crackling. Remove the excess fat and put in a hot oven for about 15-20 minutes to crisp up.

The juices from the bottom of the slow roaster can be poured into a pan and boiled to thicken and then add some flour to thicken some more - a very easy gravy.

Wednesday, 25 September 2013

Wholemeal Victoria teabread

The second cake I've made for a coffee morning. The marmalade touch and the wholemeal flour makes it suitable as a cake to be eaten in the morning (it's virtually a breakfast cake!)

Begin by combining 2 eggs, 100g butter, 100g caster sugar, 50g wholemeal self-raising flour, 50g self-raising flour and the grated zest of an orange. Pour into a lined 900g loaf tin.


Bake at 180 degrees C (160 fan) for about 40-50 mins until it is well risen and a squewer comes out clean. 



Leave to cool and make the icing. Combine 75g icing sugar, 25g butter and 1 heaped tbsp thin strip marmalade. 



Whisk til smooth.



Cover the cool cake with the icing and refrigerate to set.


Chocolate Victoria Sponge



Another coffee morning tomorrow and promised to take along some cakes. Was going to do a normal Victoria Sponge but thought I'd do a variation so this is a chocolate one. It is quite a light chocolate sponge (it doesn't look very chocolatey and the icing is not chocolate) so it seems appropriate for a coffee morning! If you did want a darker chocolate look and taste then adding melted dark chocolate or more cocoa powder would do this.

Being by blending 2 tbsp cocoa powder and 3 tbps of boiling water and then allow this to cool.




In a mixing bowl put this and all the other ingredients- 4 large eggs, 2 tsp baking powder, 225g butter, 225g self-raising flour, 225g caster sugar. I also add a good heaped tbsp of set yoghurt but you don't have to do this- it just makes the cake more moist.



Pour into two cake springform cake tins (8 inches).



Bake for 25 minutes at about 180 degrees C (160 fan) until they are risen and a squewer comes out clean.

Meanwhile make the icing- combine 175g of icing sugar and 50g soft butter with either 1 tbsp of milk or to give an orange kick the juice of half an orange.




When the cakes are cool you can assemble- take one of the cakes and cover with a layer of the icing.



Then put the other cake on top.

Then cover this with a layer of icing.

Finally cover with shavings of dark chocolate.


Thursday, 19 September 2013

Crunchy spiced apple cake

With the autumn fast arriving the neighbours have been kindly giving us all sorts of things from their garden. This week was a load of apples and tomatoes. I have a coffee morning with some mum's from school tomorrow and so thought a spiced apple cake would be something nice to take along. This is a great recipe since this cake should be made in advance since it is better a day or so after cooking.


Turn on the oven to around 160 degrees. Grease and line and 20 inch springform round cake tin.

Beat together 125g butter and 225g dark muscadavo sugar. I had some normal dark brown sugar that needed using so used half and half so this version is not as dark as it would have been had I just used muscadavo.

Add two eggs and mix. Then add 225g plain flour and 2 tbsp baking powder. Now for the spices. This time I used about half a tsp ground cinammon, a tsp of mixed spice, a tsp or ground nutmeg and a good grating of fresh nutmeg. Play around with the spices to suit your taste.

Then add the apples- you need about three medium sized apples. Peel them and then grate into the mix. You can chop them into chunks if you prefer. Mix it all together then pour into the prepared tin.


Bake for about an hour to an hour and a quarter until a squewer comes out clean. While it is cooking make the topping- mix together 2 tbsp demerara sugar and 2 tbsp runny honey (or you can use maple syrup or golden syrup if you prefer).



When the cake is cooked take out of the oven and spread over the sugar honey mix. Allow to cool. It can be kept wrapped in foil for several days.



Monday, 9 September 2013

Spinach, feta and pine nut pie

Made this at the weekend for a family Sunday lunch where there are a variety of dietary requirements. Though not everyone was vegetarian this meal is so substantial even meat eaters don't miss the meat.

Being by greasing a flan dish and then lining with shop bought filo pastry (there really is no need to make your own- you can't tell the difference and it is a lot less faffy!)

Take a pack (around 6-8 sheets) and gently take one sheet at a time and either brush with oil or spray with spray oil (which reduces the calories). Then lay the pieces over the base so they hang over the side and they cover the base completely. Repeat with each sheet and then give a final brush with oil/ spray. This is quite a wet mix so if there are lots of gaps it will leap out. Alternatively use a shortcrust pastry to line the tin which will hold the liquid.


Next take a large pack of young spinach leaves and wilt in a frying pan over a medium heat for a few minutes.


Then remove this from the pan and drain it so that most of the liquid is removed. Then put in the pan 2 chopped red onions and a chopped bunch of spring onions and some grated nutmeg and some chopped garlic.


Cook gently for a few minutes until softened then put the spinach back in and stir through.


Chop up a cupful of olives and a large handful of parsley.


Then add this to the pan.


Give it a good stir then take off the heat and pour this mix into the pastry base.


Now crumble over 200g feta cheese.


Then toast some pine nuts for a few minutes until golden brown.


Then sprinkle these over the pie.


Grate over some parmesan.

Then make the egg mix- beat together 3 eggs, 150ml of milk and 150ml single cream. Season.


Pour this over the vegetable mix.



Then fold up the filo pastry to enclose the mixture.


Bake in a pre-heated oven at 190 degrees for about 35 minutes until the filling if firm and the pastry golden. Serve with boiled new potatoes and a green salad.