27 April 2010

Vote for Me!

Don't worry I haven't become an MP overnight.
I'm in the Etsy Prom voter!
I'd love a few seconds of your time, please vote for my Star Gazer Earrings for your favourite prom handmade item.

Etsy Voter

Thank you!


22 April 2010

Yummy Lunchtime Peanut Noodles

I'm always trying to find things to make lunch time more interesting, and as we are coming out of the Winter I am looking for things other than soup to take to work.

These noodles take no time to make, all of ten minutes, and pack a really great flavour punch. They are also a great way to use up vegetables in your fridge, I added peppers and grated carrot to mine. I expect lots of other vegetables would work, steamed broccoli, finely shredded cabbage, spring onions, spinach, pak choi...

I found some Sambal Oelek (Indonesian chilli sauce) in Waitrose, a lot of bigger supermarkets seem to stock it now so you might find it in others. If not try your local chinese supermarket. You might be able to get away with a very good quality chili sauce but you won't get the same depth of flavour.

I prefer my noodles hot but you can eat these cold too.

To make 1 lunchbox size portion, this recipe is easily doubled/tripled/quadrupled.

Approx 50g wheat noodles - I used ramen noodles
1 carrot - grated
1/2 red pepper grated
small handful fresh coriander, chopped.

For the peanut sauce:
1/2 inch piece of lemongrass
50ml water
1 heaped tablespoon of peanut butter (smooth is best but i only had crunchy and its fine)
2 teaspoons of sambal oelek (add more if you like your chilli)
teaspoon size of fresh ginger
dash of rice vinegar or juice of half lime
Cook your noodles according to the packet instructions, if you intend to warm your noodles up for your lunch cook them for a minute less than the instructions. Drain and return to the pan.

Simmer the lemongrass with the water in a small pan for a few minutes.

Meanwhile mix the rest of your sauce ingredients in a bowl.

Remove your lemongrass from the pan, turn down the heat and add in the rest of your sauce mixture. Whisk together to combine, if your sauce seems a little thin keep simmering it slowly for a few minutes to thicken it up.

Mix in your vegetables, coriander and your sauce with the noodles.
Pack up in a little box and wait until lunchtime!

20 April 2010

Scones - top tips required

Scones feel like proper old fashioned baking to me. They are rustic, quick to make and only best when really fresh.

The only problem with my scones is that I don't get good fat ol' ones. You know big chunky scones to have with a ridiculous amount of jam and clotted cream.

My scones are buttery, crumbly, only a little sweet and nice and soft, but they just don't rise despite using self raising flour and baking powder.


what are you top tips for making good scones?

Thanking you!

19 April 2010

14 April 2010

Cooking - Thai Spiced Roast Chicken

ok, so I think this is rapidly turning into a blog all about food? I think I'm ok with that though, are you? :)

I have been trying to blog more about savoury foods, my posts are normally about cakes or brownies or some other sugary delight. I bake every week and my sweet tooth does mean that I am often more enthuasiastic about baking.
I love this recipe for Thai roast chicken because it is so easy to put together and tastes like you put a whole lot more effort in than you actually did. I also like having roast chicken with something other than the usual veg and gravy. I served it with coconut rice and used the leftover chicken shredded up in Singapore noodles the next day (and for pasta salad on Monday it goes a long way!)
Thai Style Spiced Roast Chicken

1 whole free range chicken, approx 1.5kgs
knob of butter
3 cloves of garlic

for thai paste:
1 stick lemongrass
large handful of fresh coriander
2 cloves of garlic
about 1 inch piece of ginger
2 green chillies
juice & zest of 1 lime
1 tsp cumin
1 tablespoon soy sauce
little dash of fish sauce
little dash of rice vinegar (or you can use cider vinegar)
groundnut or rapeseed oil

for coconut sauce:
coconut milk - approx 100ml
Preheat your oven to full whack, as high as it will go.

Prepare a thai curry paste by blitzing all the thai paste ingredients in a blender, or crushing with a pestle and mortar. Rub the paste all over the chicken and also stuff some in between the skin of the chicken and the breast and put on a metal roasting tray. Then take your other whole garlic cloves and put around the bird to roast with it. Add dots of butter on top of the chicken.

Roast for 10 minutes on the high heat to get a nice crispy skin. Then turn down to gas mark 6 / 400f/ 200c and cook for approx 1 1/2 hours, basting every now and again.

Once the chicken is cooked through leave it to rest on a plate whilst you make the coconut sauce.

Place your roasting tray on the hob and let the juices from the chicken simmer, stir to remove all the lovely juicy chicken flavour. Once it is simmering well add in your coconut milk and stir well. Bring to the boil. Sieve into a jug.

Serve your chicken with coconut rice and pour over your lovely coconutty thai gravy.


11 April 2010

Cooking - Spiced Carrot & Apple Breakfast Cupcakes

I love food but I am awful at making sure I eat breakfast everyday. It's not that I don't like breakfast foods but I like things that take time - french toast, scrambled eggs, pancakes, baaaaaacon.

I'm not a morning person so I prefer to ease into the day first before thinking about breakfast - which normally means I'm ready to eat about 10am.Which normally ends up in me having a bar of chocolate or a sugary sweet cereal bar about that time - not very healthy or satisfying.

I've been meaning to make something based on a breakfast muffin for a while. These cupcakes are based around a normal sponge recipe but with less sugar, a little more flour and quite a lot of grated carrot and apple.

The best thing about these cakes is that they are incredibly moist, without too much butter or sugar. And the spicing from the nutmeg and cinnamon means you don't miss out on flavour.
I used white flour for these as I didn't have any wholewheat, but I am definitely going to use wholewheat next time.

Spiced Carrot and Apple Breakfast Cupcakes
makes about 12 cupcakes.

175g butter, unsalted, softened
150g granulated or brown sugar
2 large eggs
juice of 1/2 orange
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1 level teaspoon nutmeg
1 level teaspoon cinnamon
100g plain or wholewheat flour
100g ground almonds (or you can substitute this for more flour)
3 tablespoons of wheatgerm (optional)
1 teaspoon baking powder
2 large carrots, grated
1 apple peeled, cored and grated
shredded coconut to top (optional)

Cream together the butter and sugar until fully combined, then add in the eggs and beat til light and fluffy. Add in the juice of the orange, vanilla extra and the spices.

Then fold in your flour, ground almonds and baking powder - and wheatgerm if using. Then add in your apple and carrot and mix til combined. If your mixture seems a bit dry add a little bit of milk or extra orange juice.

Spoon approx 1 1/2 tablespoons into cupcake cases on a cupcake tray (I used a tablespoon here and it wasn't enough to fill the case).
Sprinkle your coconut on top. You could also used chopped nuts here.
Bake in a medium oven for 15 - 20 minutes til golden.

If you are feeling a bit naughty a cream cheese icing woudn't be a bad thing...
Or if you are being good add in some dried fruit or oats.

6 April 2010

Cooking - Extremely Chocolatey Fudge Brownies

I love brownies. Who doesn't love brownies? Do you know someone that doesn't? If you do make them these and I assure you they'll love them.

These are proper fudgey dense chocolatey brownies, no messing about here.I like making brownies because my terrible oven can cook them properly, mainly because you don't need to cook brownies all the way through. I have trauma cooking cakes but brownies are a breeze.

I based them on this recipe on Joy the Baker, I swapped the walnuts for whole roasted hazelnuts (pop them on a baking tray in a medium hot oven for 10 minutes) because I think hazelnuts belong better in brownies. These may be the most chocolatey brownies I have made and it definitely helps that they are broken up by a few roasted hazelnuts.

1 2/3 cup granulated sugar

3/4 cup cocoa (yes it is a lot!) - I use Green and Blacks

3/4 cup unsalted butter

2 tablespoons of water

2 large eggs

2 teaspoons vanilla extract

1 1/3 cup plain flour

1/2 teaspoon baking powder

1/4 teaspoon salt

3/4 cup roasted hazelnuts

handful of chocolate chips or chopped chocolate to top

Preheat your oven to gas mark 4 / 350f / 175f

Add your cocoa powder and butter to a glass bowl and melt together over a pan of simmering water, stir frequently to combine. Add 2 tablespoons of water in when it is melted.

Whilst it melts cream together your eggs and sugar til light and fluffy. Add in your vanilla extract. Then slowly add in the chocolate/butter mixture til combined.

Then fold in your flour, baking powder and salt. Mix in your hazelnuts. Save a few for the top.

Add into a greased and lined tin, I used a 9 inch round cake tin, a square one would be better.
Sprinkle your reserved hazelnuts and chocolate chips on top.

Bake for 18-25 minutes. I go for the longer option because I like an extra chewy crispy top, this is the best bit!
Once it is baked leave to cool for a few minutes and as soon as you can turn out on to a plate, then cut into pieces.

I was going to Easter-fy them by topping them with mini eggs but the chocolate content was really quite enough by this point, and there wasn't much room for mini eggs.

These are best kept in the fridge and then brought back to room temperature for eating (if you can wait). They go a little too gooey and sticky if kept at room temperature all the time.

These are lovely warmed up a bit too and served with a dollop of ice cream or creme fraiche.

1 April 2010

Sweet Treats Bakery

Lemon Meringue Marshmallows!!

One of my lovely etsy friends Creamrose pointed this shop out the other day, a new UK foodie seller Sweet Treats Bakery who makes handmade marshmallows and caramels.

Of course I had to order immediately!
I plumped for the lemon meringue marshmallows and impatiently waited for them to arrive.
I was not disappointed when they came, they were packaged beautifully and stacked together in a little cube. They are just as lemony as I hoped they'd be, there is no scrimping on the ingredients here. I also got a little sampler of raspberry marshmallows which were richly flavoured.

I must admit they are going fast, I am trying to ration myself but not suceeding terribly well.

I've made marshmallows before but I always love to buy handmade ones because I like the different flavours and tweaks others can do. I've got my eye on the caramel marshmallows for my next purchase!

I very much urge you to purchase from this new seller on etsy - treat yourself! :)