December 25, 2011

'Tis the Season

Oooohhhh Happy Holidays! I can not believe Christmas has snuck up so very fast this year - probably thanks to the wonderfully unseasonable weather we have been having in London - up until this week that is!

So I thought since people are looking at the blog, that I will add some festive pix and my favourite blog links to help decorate different Christmasy treats!

Have a very Merry Christmas!!
Christmas Snowmen I made last year - See the Pink Whisk for Ruth's instructions on how to make! 
(and for so very many more wonderful Xmas delights!
 (She does a cracking 12 days of Xmas these last two years!)
Christmas Victoria Sponge
Chocolate Pralines
Cookie Christmas Tree - scrubby
Red Berry Christmas Yule Log
 Chocolate Tuffles
 Chocolate Chestnut Yule Log
My mum's xmas shortbread also need special mention - YUM
Christmas Bauble Cupcakes

More Christmas vouchers
Christmas Macaroons

*If you would like recipes leave a comment and I will pull together for this year - and file for next!

Funky Sites and Ideas for decorating Cakes & Cupcakes which I hope to try soon soon (yes this year still - who's coming to eat!?!


December 19, 2011

Chicken Paprika

If you haven't seen/heard of the Hairy Bikers you are missing out. Love em. Two northern lads who love their motorbikes as well as their cooking and baking. A great laugh - ever see them on Saturday's kitchen - I fell off the couch laughing at one of their omelette  challenges! Anyway...

I came across Chicken Paprika from them - a hungarian dish which I tweaked to my own taste. A lovely comforting dish for a cool night. I love to serve in a hollowed out loaf of bread (similar to a bunny chow in South Africa - except it's not a curry but you get the hint.. if you had one that is) mmmm...

Ingredients (this serves 2 plus leftovers for lunch)
2 chicken breasts (skin on makes nicer but off is better for you they say!) plus 2 chicken thighs
2 tbsp olive oil
1 tbsp butter
1 large onion chopped
2-3 cloves garlic sliced
1 large red pepper chopped
1 tin chopped tomatos
250ml chicken stock
corriander(cilantro) but if you are one not keen on it - original recipe calls for flat leaf parsley
creme freche (or sour cream)
1-2tbsp of each hot paprika, sweet paprika, 1 tspchilli powder (if you want)
1 tbsp flour

Place olive oil in pan on med heat to warm. Season chicken with salt and then to pan. Slowly allow to brown all over and then add the butter (don't let it burn). 2-3minutes or until nice and tasty looking. Remove chicken pieces and set aside - you are going to add these back in so don't worry too much that the are not yet cooked.

To the same pan on a low heat, add the onion and garlic to slowly sweat (about 5min). You want them nice and soft. Add both sweet & hot paprikas, chilli powder if using and flour. Stir to combine still on the low heat - you want to ensure the flour is cooked through to remove the pasty flour taste but be careful not to burn.

Slowly add the stock bit by bit to allow the sauce to stay quite thick. If you add all at once it takes longer to thicken up and you then might be tempted to add more flour which in turn will make it taste floury.... you don't want that. Add the chicken pieces back to the pan with the stock  (if you need to add more stock or if you have no stock left a bit more water - do so now if it looks too dry) I like to get the chicken almost covered  but that is as I love the sauce so very much.

Add about 2tbsp of the chopped coriander (or parsley if using) and bring to boil. Add the red pepper and tomatoes and reduce heat and let simmer for an hour (you can serve nearly straight away if you want it quick (just make sure chicken is completely cooked through) but the flavours just get better with time so if you have it... use it - just be careful that the chicken doesn't dry out.

Remove from heat, remove chicken pieces and stir in creme freche or sour cream to suit your tastebuds (I sometimes cover the chicken with some of the sauce before adding the cream and then to the other part of sauce add the cream to give it the best of spicy and cool).

Top with more coriander or parsley

Serve with or in bread or with rice or with fresh baby/garden potatoes. Yum


Baked Chocolate Mousse (aka flourless chocolate cake)

The first time i ever had this was about 10 years ago at a dinner party at a friend of ours - he impressed me by his baking skills and I had to steal the recipe. It soon became one of my favourite things to bake for birthdays, office colleagues and my own dinner parties.


The dark chocolate in it goes so well with the mascarpone and fruit compote / jam or fresh fruit. Sometimes I use double cream and fruit or jam instead of the mascarpone. The best combo though has to be passionfruit as the sharpness goes so well with the sweetness of the cheese and the dark chocolate. Oh yum!


Now although the name says it is a mousse, it is more like a cake - just really lovely and gooey inside (even more than a chewy brownie) I wouldn't suggest using the recipe to make cupcakes with though... Very rich but oh so very very good!


As I haven't made in a while I don't have pix but that is just another reason to make it this week! Horray!


Baked Chocolate Mousse with Passionfruit  (by James Martin)


Ingredients:
For the Cake/Baked Mousse
300g dark chocolate (65% +)
150g unsalted butter
55g caster sugar
6large eggs (separated)


For the passionfruit mousse
255g mascarpone  (if you can't find then use 350ml double/whipping cream total & skip next ingredient)
55g double cream
3 tbsp icing sugar (or more to suit your sweet tooth) and depends on the type of fruit used
3 passion fruit (pulp of each)  or strawberry/raspberry/cherry jam (amount depends on your tastebuds - jam may only need 2tbsp or so) - whatever takes your fancy - you might just want whipped cream and fresh strawberries!


This is such a cinch to make - really
Preheat oven to 180C/350F and prepare a 20cm spring bottomed cake tin (with removable base)


Melt your chocolate in a ban marie or in a bowl over a pot of simmering water (make sure no water or steam gets into your chocolate). Once just melted take off heat - you don't want to overheat. Let cool down.


In a clean bowl, whisk your egg whites to stiff peaks (these will add the fluffiness to your cake) so get them good and whisked


In a separate bowl (you can use the same beaters without washing them after whisking the egg whites - less washing up always good!) whisk the egg yolks with the sugar until a very pale colour - they will start to thicken up and will look almost like cream (about 3-5minutes)


Take a bit of the egg yolk mixture (a tbsp will do) and mix into the melted chocolate. This will help to take down the temperature. Add all of the chocolate into the egg yolk mixture and mix well. Then carefully fold in the egg whites - ensure that you get all of the egg whites incorporated without taking out the air you put into them when whisking.


Pour into a cake tin and bake for about 20min. It will wobble a little bit when you take it out of the oven, that's ok - just watch that the top doesn't burn. If it wobbles too much leave in for a couple minutes longer.


Let cool completely within the tin. Remove and dust with icing sugar and or cocoa powder.


To make the Fruit mousse
Use a hand mixer or just a wooden spoon to beat all of the ingredients together until firm. Keep in fridge until ready. Serve on the side.
(if not using mascapone, whip the cream until just peaked (don't over whip or the texture will not be so nice). Then stir in fruit/jam to a quantity that suits your tastebuds.


Enjoy

December 17, 2011

A scrummy Boxing Day Ham - the smell of Christmas

Last year (2011) I did my first Christmas/Boxing Day/New Year Cooked Ham. I found a recipe by Richard Corrigan which was absolutely amazing so will carry on my own tradition this year again. And again this year 2016!

Today again we trooped up to Broadway Market and found David Wilkinson from Downland Produce in Wiltshire and found an amazing ham to do the trick.

So here is Richard's recipe tweaked a bit which I share with you (pix to come next week!)

This ham is poached in white WINE which makes it extra yummy (and my other half is quite a piccalilli maker too which goes so well with this - especially made a month before)

*Note - do make sure you prepare before Xmas Eve as sometimes it is difficult finding the simplest of ingredients over the holiday season (I couldn't find cloves last year ANYWHERE ... luckily we raided my mother-in-laws pantry on Xmas day!))
*Note - if you buy already cured you may want to soak in a large pot of water for 1-1/2days before you cook it (See.... need to really prepare) to remove excess salt (change water 2-3 times) *Downland Produce gammon only needs to be rinsed not soaked
*Note - make the piccalilli a month before (longer for better flavour) in saying that we ate it the day of or day after it was made and it was good too  however VERY sharp from vinegar- but better a few months later- it lasted us until summer!
Timings for a Boxing Day Ham
June - make piccalilli 
22Dec - buy your ingredients
23Dec (before going out for drinks) - soak gammon in pot of clean cold water
24Dec (before going to bed or going out whichever is more appropriate!) - change water 
25Dec - forget about the ham as you will have far too much turkey or nut roast and glasses of port!)
26Dec - It will take between 3-4hours to prepare, cook, rest and bake so plan ahead if you are serving for a meal (A 3kg joint will feed 15people and take 3hrs to cook)
Cooking Time (i.e 2hr) + 30min resting time + 20min baking  = start at least 3hrs before you want to eat


What you will need: 

1 boneless gammon (size depending on what you want and how long you want to eat it!)
* all of the ingredients below will suit any size of ham)
2 onions
6 stalks of celery (not my fav)
3 leeks cut into large pieces
1 head garlic
2 star anise
1tsp cardamom pods crushed
1/2tsp black peppercorns
750ml bottle of white wine

I made a maple glaze (glaze to suit your tastebuds - this one isn't too sweet)
To Finish:
200ml Maple Syrup (Canadian of course!)
2tbsp coarse/whole grain mustard
2tbsp Worcestershire Sauce
2tbsp soy sauce

Other things you will need:
Greeseproof/baking paper
a large Pot with tight fitting lid
Kitchen foil
Piccalilli, bread, mustard

Day of Cooking
Put all the veg  & spices in a pot, place the gammon on top and pour in that bottle of wine. Fold a sheet of greaseproof/baking paper in half and press on and around the joint.

Now you don't want any of that wine to escape the pot so cover the top of the pan tightly with a double layer of foil (without ripping) - I used kitchen twine to secure it to the pot that much tighter... and then carefully secure with the tight fitting lid being careful not to rip foil.

Place on Med-High heat on hob/stove until steaming. Cook 25min per 500g. You can either keep cooking it on the hob or put it in the oven (preheated 180C/160Cfan) If cooking in the oven you may need an extra 5min/500g added to the cooking time.

When cooking time is up, remove from the heat and set aside (still covered) for at least 20-30min to let the ham soak in the liquor (it is so tempting to check it out but don't - the wait is worth it!)

Once rested (the ham and you too), take ham out of pot and take off the rind *it should pull off quite easily.

Finish with your glaze then put in oven at 200C/180Cfan for 10-20min to warm through but also get that glaze a shining!


Eat hot or cold -- as a snack, as lunch, as a main - you can do it all as it lasts at least a week in the fridge after cooking!

Happy Holidays

December 13, 2011

'Tis the Season

Oooohhhh Happy Holidays! I can not believe Christmas has snuck up so very fast this year - probably thanks to the wonderfully unseasonable weather we have been having in London - up until this week that is!

So I thought since people are looking at the blog, that I will add some festive pix and my favourite blog links to help decorate different Christmasy treats!


Have a very Merry Christmas!!

Christmas Snowmen I made last year - See the Pink Whisk for Ruth's instructions on how to make!
(and for so very many more wonderful Xmas delights!
 (She does a cracking 12 days of Xmas these last two years!)
Christmas Victoria Sponge

Chocolate Pralines

Cookie Christmas Tree - scrummy


Red Berry Christmas Yule Log


This is Eric Lanlard's Chocolate Chestnut Yule Log -
We watched him make this very one at the Taste of Christmas
last week (so his cake not mine) but will make.... yes I will!

Christmas Gingerbread & Toffee cupcakes

*If you would like recipes leave a comment and I will pull together for this year - and file for next!

Funky Sites and Ideas for decorating Cakes & Cupcakes which I hope to try soon soon (yes this year still - who's coming to eat!?!

Oh and some lovely Christmas Meal ideas:

December 04, 2011

A day out at Little Venice Cake Company

I was so very very lucky and honoured to be invited to the Little Venice Cake Company Christmas Open House day on Friday. My wonderful friend and I went along for a glimpse into the studio and life of Mich Turner and wow - it was wonderful. Absolutely scrummy cakes  and biscuits to try, bubbly to be had and Mich introduced me to her brand new range of bakeware (of which I had to buy a couple of treats of course!)
Meeting Mich
My Birthday presents to myself!



I stocked up on her Lustre range (Pearl, Gold and Bronze) which came in handy for my cake competition entry this weekend at the Taste of Christmas It is wonderfully glittery and it appears to dance on the cake as it goes on which looked so very cute on the little bitty gingerbread men!
Bronze on Gingerbread men
Snowflakes in each lustre
My Competition Entry (I was shortlisted but didn't place - it did get a spot on the front table with the winning cakes though!)



And I started to cry (yes cry) when I finished my cake this morning for the competition - the tears were a mixture of relief for finishing it but also because I was so happy it turned out so lovely (well I thought so anyway) The top of my sponge went on an absolute treat  (even with my shaking hands) and credit goes to the funky perspex board I got from LVCC as well and maybe because it (yes the cake) was so afraid that if it didn't work I would scream!

the cake saving board


Piping Tip
I can't wait to try out the big cupcake piping tips as well ( they worked for my sponge but, well, cupcakes are fun to show off aren't they now!)




Oh... and for dessert for the last few nights we have been polishing off (no not the 6 sponge cakes I have made in 4 days) but Mich's Triple Layer Chocolate Truffle Cake she gave us on our visit - Heaven!
Yummmmmmmmmmmm
I highly recommend this equipment (and you can buy at www.cakecraftworld.co.uk) - I already have my Christmas Wish List sorted! and I can't wait for the cake ingredients to show up in Sainsbury's too!



Other lovely LVCC links:

  • Video Links - How To.. lustre a gold crown; make a sugar paste crown; cover a cake with ready to roll icing; cover a cake with ready to roll marzipan; and perfect for Xmas: Penguin Vanilla Sponge Christmas Pudding
  • Join the Cake Club to get some wonderful recipes (I made the heavenly Truffle Cake and oh my...... heavenly!!!)


December 01, 2011

What a week for baking

Have had a string of luck this week in terms of baking things... (including cakes working out!)

Baking Mad had a Facebook competition asking for our favourite taste of christmas and now I get to go to the Taste Of Christmas this weekend with my lovely friend Ros!
My favourite taste of Christmas is my mum's melting shortbread cookies baked with pecans or chocolate or fruit topping - melt in your mouth deliciousness. So happy to get them sent over from canada each year - yum yum. Oh dear - think i need to go make some now :)

Taste of Christmas are running a new event this weekend with the Best In Show Baking competition. They asked for a description (not even a pix!) of a cake that we could bake.
My idea was a Christmas Twisted Victoria Sponge (filled with lemoncello and lemon curd and berries) A Christmas outside and the happiness of summer inside.
I was shortlisted and now have to bring a cake to the show and have it judged by Eric Lanlard! (I have made some of his cupcakes in the past and they were scrummy but now........for him.....AHHHH!) I have been trying and trying and testing and changing a cake each week - need to do more now!

Little Venice Cake Company is having an Open House this week and I am lucky enough to be on the guest list - and Nuala is coming with me to have cake and champaign and hopefully we meet Mich Turner too while buying some lovely cake decorating goodies!

Stylist magazine currently have an online photo competition for cake creations which I thought I would enter and share my entries here with you. The judges are going to select 20 from the hundreds of entries for the public then to select a winner and what amazing entries there is. I didn't get shortlisted as there was such a high standard way beyond then! :) Here are the top two to vote on
 and  Have a look at this site  for amazing cupcake ideas!

Chocolate Orange Cupcakes                       Flower Cupcakes         


 Lemon Meringue Cupcakes               Macarons

                                               
Salted Caramel Chocolate Torte        Summer Meringues   



 Truffle Cakes                                           Twisted Victoria Sponge





and there was one more but will talk about it another time..... maybe :)