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Monthly Archives: July 2016

Sweet Potato and Sweetcorn Savoury Pancakes

I had a recipe for sweetcorn pancakes quite some time ago – I think from the BBC Good Food website and they were served with avocado and roasted tomato.  For a little while it was one of my favourite dishes with some added coriander and bacon (of course i added bacon!). I’ll be damned if I can find the recipe and none of the others I could find even remotely matched up.  All I could remember was that it involved wizzing up half the sweetcorn into a mush and involved separated eggs with the whites whisked. So last weekend, i decided it was time to try and crack the recipe. And to be fair, I think I just about did!

These are perfect as a brunch dish or light summer meal. They would also make a nice little starter or side to some grilled meat and salad They’re also easily made veggie, just leave out the bacon or make them wheatarded suitable by using white spelt flour.

Makes 20 – Serves 4/5

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Ingredients:

1 large Sweet Potato (2/4 cup cooked)
200g Smoked Streaky Bacon
2 large Eggs
1/2 medium Red Onion
1 tin Cream Style Corn
1 tin Sweetcorn (or use 350g Frozen Corn)
3 tbsp Cornmeal or Instant Polenta
1/2 cup Plain Flour
1 tsp Sea Salt Flakes
1 tbsp Baking Powder
1 tsp Dried Chili Flakes
1/4 cup Light Creme Fraiche
Frylight Spray


Prick 1 large Sweet Potato all over and pop in the microwave for 15 minutes until soft all the way through.

Tip – If you don’t have a microwave, buy a microwave. Life if too short.

Tip – If your microwave hasn’t yet arrived, you can cook the sweet potato in the oven. I don’t know how long for. I’ve never been that patient. Start the day before?

Meanwhile, cut 200g Smoked Streaky Bacon into little pieces (use bacon) and fry in a dry pan until nearly crispy. Set aside to cool.

Separate 2 large Eggs and whisk the whites until firm peaks.

Tip – Use a stick blender whisk or electric hand whisk if you have one.

Query – If you don’t have any kind of electric whipping instrument – are you the same person who doesn’t have a microwave? And are you a masochist?

Put the yolks into a mixing bowl and give them a 2 second whisk while you have it out.

Tip – Only go from white to yolk, don’t go from white to yolk or the whites will never whisk up.

The sweet potato should be cooked by now so take it out of the microwave and chop it into quarters and leave it to cool.

Finely dice 1/2 medium Red Onion and add to the egg yolks along with 1 tin Cream Style Corn, 1 tin Sweetcorn (or use 350g Frozen Corn), 3 tbsp Cornmeal or Instant Polenta, 1/2 cup Plain Flour, 1 tsp Sea Salt Flakes, 1 tbsp Baking Powder, 1 tsp Dried Chili Flakes.

Remove the flesh from the sweet potatoes and use the back of a fork to make it into a puree. Add this to the mixture and stir everything together.

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Stir in 1/4 cup Light Creme Fraiche until fully combined and then fold in the egg whites.

Warm a medium frying pan on a medium heat and spray in 4 sprays of Frylight Spray.

When the pan is hot, using a large desert spoon or ideally, an ice cream scoop, add four scoops of the mixture into the pan on a medium heat. Use the back of the scoop or spoon to pat the mixture down into thinner patties.

Cook for 3 to 4 minutes before flipping each pancake over and cook the second side for another 2 to 3 minutes until golden brown.

Tip – Be gentle, they’re quite fragile pancakes despite being fairly dense. 

Continue to cook the pancakes in batches of 4 until all cooked.

Tip – I also experimented with baking these in the oven. I put the same size scoop of mixture onto a lined baking tray, patted them down and then cooked them in the oven at about 200c for 30 minutes. They didn’t need turning and i didn’t use any oil. You could obviously cook more than 4 at a time this way. The result was a chewier outside than when pan fried but not in a bad way, and this version would hold up better as a picnic or packed lunch item.

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Serve with more creme fraiche, Smushed Avocado and quartered cherry tomatoes. Adding some bacon wouldn’t hurt.

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Ginger Beer Ham with Southern Comfort Glaze

I first made this ham for a Band of Bakers event a couple of years ago. Admittedly it’s on the fringe of ‘baking’ but I enjoy tenuous almost as much as I enjoy my carnivore tendencies. It’s a well know fact that the only thing better than meat is meat coated in booze so this went down pretty well. Almost as well as the box of chicken nuggets I took to the chocolate event!

I recently remade this as a centrepiece for my baking themed thirtieth birthday party along with my Super Garlicky Cheesy Tear’n’Share Loaf. Unlike with the bread, I did make two lots and initially thought I’d massively over catered but within 5 minutes of declaring the buffet opening, I’d had to start carving the second joint so I guess it was a hit again!

The pictures here are therefore mostly for a double batch but the quantities and instructions I’ve given are for just the one large joint.

You could use any kind of Bourbon, Run, Whiskey or something like Cointreau instead of the Southern Comfort.

Warning – this is best made the day before you want to eat it as a night in the fridge makes this much much easier to carve.

Serves 10-15 on a buffet, 8-10 as a main component

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Ingredients:

1 medium Unsmoked Gammon Joint (about 3kg)
2 White Onions
1 litre Fiery Ginger Beer (I used sugar free)
1 tbsp Ginger Paste

The Glaze:

2 tbsp Mustard Powder or English Mustard
2 tbsp Runny Honey
1 tbsp Sea Salt Flakes
3 tbsp Muscavado Sugar
3 tbsp Southern Comfort


First of all you need to select a good joint. Fat is the key here, you need a good layer to take the glaze, it keeps the whole thing moist (sorry) and assists in making the cooking liquor good and gelatinous. It doesn’t matter if its skin on or off but again the skin will help with the jelly.  I would also err on the side of unsmoked. I have made ginger beer ham with a lightly smoked joint and it’s ok but it’s better unadulterated.

Remove 1 medium Unsmoked Gammon Joint (about 3kg) from it’s packaging and place in a large pan.

Tip – To be honest a pan a little larger than the one I had would have been ideal but a fairly snug fit is fine, you may need to top up the ginger beer level part way through cooking.

Quarter 2 White Onions with the skin on and tuck the pieces down the side of the ham.

Add 1 litre Fiery Ginger Beer to the pan or until the joint is covered and stir in 1 tbsp Ginger Paste then put the pan onto a medium heat. Cover with a lid and leave for about 2 and a half hours.

Tip – Check the ginger beer level every now and again top up if required.

Remove the cooked ham from the liquor and leave to drain on some kitchen towel and cool slightly.

Preheat the oven to as high as it will go and prepare a pan to use to glaze the ham.

Tip – I used a disposable foil pan in a roasting tray. Essentially you are going to create a heinous sticky mess so unless you want to spend an hour scrubbing out a pan, line something really well with a few layers of foil or something else that can be disposed of. Make it quite a snug fit to minimise wasting the glaze.

Remove any skin from the ham and add it back to the cooking liquor. Put the pan back on the boil to reduce the sauce down to about 200ml of liquid.

Score the ham fat in a diamond pattern.

Mix 2 tbsp Mustard Powder or English Mustard,  2 tbsp Runny Honey,  1 tbsp Sea Salt Flakes,  3 tbsp Muscavado Sugar and 3 tbsp Southern Comfort in a small bowl.

Rub the glaze all over the ham and pop it into the lined cooking tray.

When the oven is at full temperature, put the ham in for 5 minutes then remove and baste the glaze that has melted off back over the ham. Repeat this process 4 or 5 times until most of the glaze is baked onto the ham itself and its turned golden.

Leave the ham loosely covered to cool and then put in the fridge overnight – it will be much easier to carve the next day.

Meanwhile, once the cooking liquor has reduced, strain it to remove the onion and ham fat and leave to cool. Once it has been in the fridge a while, the layer of fat can be skimmed off. The resulting leftover sauce can be used to deglaze the glaze cooking pan which will add an extra depth of flavour.

Can be served hot or cold with the sauce and ideally some soft bread, cheese and the cooking liquid sauce.

Review – John the Unicorn – Peckham

***UPDATE*** Ben and his sous chef Pete are no longer at JTU. Their website reflects that their menu continues to be served but I have no idea if this is actually the case or if its any good. Sad times.


I’ve turned into a weird Groupie. I just can’t help myself. I love this new Peckham pub. It’s the newest venture from  Antic Pub Co,  the creators of  The East Dulwich Tavern (ironically one of my least favourite pubs in the area) and last year’s newbie The Hope, also in Peckham.  As a result of my groupie love, I can’t stop talking about John The Unicorn and how much I love the place, especially the food.

Now I could be accused of being a little bit biased as I know the head chef Ben Mulock from Band of Bakers, but as he won me over a long time ago with his amazing food, and I’m a right picky git, I feel like it’s ok.  I’m not exactly easily swayed or scared of telling someone I know that they’re a bit pants. Time Out and Southwark News also seem to agree with me and I’m yet to hear a bad word said. Actually, that’s a little bit of a lie – my one criticism would be that along with the nearby Peckham Refreshment Rooms, some of the seats/stools are a bit un-comfy for the long-haul 😦

In the couple of months since it opened, I’ve had 4 meals, including brunch and a visit to the first supper club event and popped in for a couple of other drinks and snacks. Some of my pictures are not amazing, as whilst the upstairs is a cool and cozy spot littered with granny table lamps which makes for a nice dining atmosphere, it doesn’t make for cracking food photography (and I wouldn’t have it any other way).

If you’ve not been yet, go check it out. I’ll likely see you in there. A run down of my food eaten there so far:-


Bar Snacks

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I headed into the pub with Siobhan on a busy Saturday afternoon back in May and was talked into a Wrey and Nephew rum and ginger beer (by Siobhan, I don’t blame the bar staff – they were just super friendly and helpful). That was a mistake. I loooove rum but that shiz tastes like rank tequila and will never pass my lips again. I’m assured its much better as a shot. I’m not convinced.

What was not a mistake however, was ordering a portion of Beef Dripping Foccaccia and Yeasted Butter. And a Sausage Roll from the bar snack menu. Super munchy goodness. A portion of the sage and onion crispy pig ears also found its way onto our table and whilst the concept horrifies me, once I tucked in I got over it quite quickly – they’re essentially super crispy pork scratchings.


Evening A La Carte

Four or five of us arrived on a Saturday evening only a couple of weeks into the kitchen being open for some light eating. We’ll ignore the obscene amount I ended up spending on poncey craft beers and focus on the food! The upstairs restaurant is casual but with more formal service than I’d been anticipating – the staff were as always super friendly and didn’t mind that we weren’t wholly focused on the food offering that evening which was great. Full waiter service for a well priced bar is a win for me.

The ‘small plate’ pork belly with olive oil mash was smooth, crispy and delicious with a good meat to fat ratio. The cheeseboard isn’t to my taste as I’m super picky with cheeses but it gave the vegetarian amongst us a nice evening snack.  I sadly didn’t get snaps of any of the other things we tried.  The menu was a bit of an issue for my wheatarded friend as everything is made on site and they don’t have a great gf offering at present. The unicorn sundae, was oddly, for a non -ice cream fanatic, one of my highlights- in particular a ‘cornflake’ flavoured ice cream. It tasted like frosties milk – amazing.

I’ll certainly be going back for more evening meals but this is slightly on the pricey side for me in an it-adds-up-rather-quickly-when-you’re-a-food-fiend sort of way (it’s more than worth it but I live on a budget so have to choose wisely!).


Brunch

The next exciting announcement I gleaned from my heavy Instagram and Twitter stalking of all involved in JTU was that brunch was now being served – in particular, fried chicken and waffles with maple syrup, fried egg and hot sauce. I was in. Literally, the first weekend I was in London at the weekend, I was in and eating.

I’m pleased I checked, as they don’t open until 12 noon so whether this was really brunch could be debated but I’ll eat breakfast/brunch foods at any time of the day or night so it’s  quite frankly irrelevant. To fully set the scene, I love waffles, I love fried chicken (although I can only manage a KFC once or twice a year because it’s so sickly), my love of eggs could support a chicken farm of my own and I’ll happily pour maple syrup on basically anything. I was also, until this point, yet to have an even remotely edible version of this dish in the UK. I’ve used the word a lot already but I’ll use it again to sum up this dish- it was A.Mazing.

The waffle was soft, the egg was runny and the chicken was plentiful and super juicy/super crispy in the right ratios. I’m not a hot sauce fanatic and ketchup near eggs makes me feel a bit queasy as a concept but I ploughed through and the hot sauce here helped to elevate the dish. The little bit of microsalad was a nice touch to freshen it all up and the maple syrup appeared to have actually once been near a maple tree (‘maple flavoured’ syrup passed off as actual maple syrup is a bain of my existence). All in all, I wanted to eat the whole thing again but I couldn’t possibly as I was stuffed. And all for a tenner. Winner winner chicken and waffles dinner.


An American Supperclub – July 2016

Another Instagram/Twitter notification that I’m was all over. JTU held a special supper club evening with all of the food inspired by US soul food around Independence Day. Due to the prevalence of my friends being wheatarded/veggie/really picky, I thought I was going to be heading there on my todd but luckily my friends Jo and Matt headed over from Bromley to help me out (I don’t think they had any regrets!)

The room was arranged in two long tables and proper effort had been made to decorate the room and provide themed props. (Dining with Trump is a scary prospect, that mask nearly put me off my food!).  Food was served with 2 pre starters, a palette cleanser and the advertised 5 courses. Each course was introduced by Ben, the Head Chef.  Some of the food was brought out sharing style; causing me (and I think probably Jo) some anxiety that we’d get short changed, especially being the party of 3 on the end of the table. No fear however, we had to be rolled out the door by the end.  Matt and I also went for the beer pairing option which probably turned out to be a bit too much on a Wednesday night but was a great accompaniment to the food.

Despite my pickiness I ate everything (except the blue cheese dressing – I’m not a nutter) and it was, again, A.Mazing. Actually, also apart from the Moonshine and Smoked Bloody Mary shot. That was akin to licking the walls of the Fishing Heritage Centre! 😦

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The fried green beans with tuna-flavoured-mayo was I assume, a mild take on a nicoise salad, French in origin but super popular as a dish in the states. I’ve got some theories on how that mayo was created but however they did it, it was a super tasty and different to boot.

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The second pre starter was fried chicken (I think the same as what appears in the waffles dish) on a bed of cornbread with more maple syrup. As always the chicken was amazing and the cornbread was super moist, not an easy feat. The whole thing was topped with crispy chicken skin (which should be sold in bags like crisps) for a super savoury bite.

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The first starter proper was their take on devilled quails eggs with smoked chilli and cured pig’s cheek. I had at least 3 eggs (told you we weren’t short changed) and a good amount of pork. The whole dish together worked perfectly and I was disappointed there wasn’t more (this is a theme).

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Deep fried truffled macaroni and cheese was explained to have a ridiculous quantity of cheese to pasta ratio and this was evident in the super rich smooth interior. I’ve made deep fried mac’n’cheese before in slightly bigger chunks than this came in and in honesty, I’d have preferred a little less crispy coating to smooth pasta. However, if I’d stopped at two chunks and not ploughed through for three, that would also probably have helped! A small dollop of smooth onion jam on top also helped to cut through the richness.

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Next up was a fried shrimp cocktail served in individual portions.  A few tiny fried shrimp came on a bed of preserved peppers, white and red shredded cabbage and iceberg lettuce (for the classic touch). This was topped with two large shrimp, one with the head on and both deep fried.  I think there was also a little take on marie-rose sauce to bring the whole thing together. I hate prawn cocktail with its flaccid little cold prawns and naff salad but I used my fingers to make sure I got every last drop of this out of its glass.

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Next up was the ‘palette cleanser’ – a shot of moonshine topped with a smoked bloody mary granita. I appreciate the concept here but between a shot of hard liquor and smoky smoky crushed ice, this was not my favourite part of the meal! Luckily I had some of that ale on hand to help me out. We’ll call this an acquired taste!

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Finally we were at the main course and to be honest I was pretty full at this point! We had a smoked and glazed beef short rib with hush puppies and charred gem lettuce and blue cheese sauce. As I mentioned, I forewent the blue cheese sauce (because blue cheese is rank, I’m at least 30 years off of eating that stuff) which was a bit of a shame as I can appreciate how it would have been a nice addition to cut through the seriously smoky and tender beef and light corn batter hush puppies. I try the grilled lettuce but to be honest, it didn’t change my opinion on this being an unnecessary thing to do to a salad leaf.  Despite being incredibly full, I just about managed my allotted portion!

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To round off the evening was a peanut butter and jelly ice cream sandwich which arrived as a massive and imposing slab which I didn’t think there was any chance of me finishing. Essentially an American flavoured artic roll, there is a reason that PB&J is such a popular flavour combo.  I am grateful they avoided the perennially popular in the States grape jelly however – grapes should be for flavouring wine and making raisins (to be covered in chocolate) only!  I don’t think you’ll be surprised to learn I managed to finish it. And could maybe have eaten another one. Well, maybe not, I do have a limit it turns out!

FYI, the whole shebang cost me £50 including the beer menu and service. Bargain. Roll on the next Supperclub, I heard a rumour it may be ‘pig’ themed. I’ll be there with bells on.


Sunday Lunch

My most recent eating foray was to take my Dad and his partner Jan who were visiting for the start of my thirtieth celebrations for an alternative Sunday Lunch. I was a bit worried that they’d find it a bit pricey and small portioned considering you can get a carvery near where they live for about £7 and roll home. I needn’t have worried – some savvy menu choosing later and we shared some Beef Dripping Focaccia, Crispy Pigs Ears, some wonderful chips and a plate of Buratta with Chilli’d Sprouting Broccoli. No pictures available sadly because we were too busy eating!

For the main course, we shared two plates of smoked beef short rib with kale and onions and roast potatoes with jus and a plate of the chicken and waffles (because I couldn’t not have them again!). The short rib was stunning, just as it had been at the supperclub event and the soft kale with onions was an excellent accompaniment and surprisingly spicy. The roast potatoes were also ridiculously crispy and tasty and a sticky meaty jus brought everything together. Another win.

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For desert we shared a couple of Unicorn Sundaes. I’m hoping at some point that some more desserts appear than the usual 2 or 3 offerings but we’re still on early days!

Wedfest – Afternoon Tea – Sticky Toffee Buns

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Way back when, my good friends, Gemma and Laurence, now owners of the The Champagne Concept in Harrogate, got engaged and proceeded to arrange what became fondly known as ‘Wedfest’ over a bank holiday weekend in May 2015 at Rise Hall in the East Riding of Yorkshire.

Rise Hall is a beautiful venue owned by Sarah Beeny, the renovation of which was the subject of a Channel 4 show called Beeny’s Restoration Nightmare. As it was early days for Rise Hall, G&L were able to essentially hire the hall as a shell and bring in everything that that wanted (most venues have lists of approved suppliers to choose from), importantly including the food and drink.

As a result, we ate well. So well. We had an evening hog roast, scrambled egg breakfast spread, mostly cooked by the groom, a wedding breakfast of carved-at-the-table lamb, an evening buffet of Harrogate pork pies, carvery ham and the cheese cake cheese, (its a cake of cheese, not a cake with cheese. Oh never mind – look at the picture) and a street food breakfast van to mop up the hangovers. And did I mention they deal in champagne? Yeh we were drunk! In hindsight, three of those pork pies was excessive. I continue to have no regrets. I’m lying I had 4.

The first food encountered by early arriving guests however, was an afternoon tea, which I was honoured to be asked to make. Eek – squeaky bum time! Now I can bake ok, I enjoy baking and I even put a bit of pressure on myself by entering the odd bake-off event but this was on a scale that I’d never encountered.  60 people to cater for, including at least one wheatard and a gluten and dairy free mother of the groom. As I graduated from the Anderson/McInroy school of “Never Knowingly Under-Catered’, I had a lot of cakes to make. And I had to try and make them look a little bit pretty (not my forte by any stretch).

I came up with a plan involving going to my house in Grimsby to bake the day before and cadging a lift off of my father over the Humber Bridge the morning of. My father did a stunning job of sous cheffing for me which was a huge help, especially considering he wasn’t invited to the wedding – he did get a sneak peek at Rise Hall however! Logistics, sorted, I just had to figure out what to bake!

I considered scones a no brainer for afternoon tea so I made my White Spelt Scones which I served ready filled with clotted cream and jam. Next up was a groom request for lemon drizzle so I made a tray-bake version of these Lemon and Cointreau Drizzle Mini-Cakes (without the Cointreau, if only I’d thought of that addition before!). I then searched though my numerous Cookbooks for a great gluten and dairy free chocolate cake and after a couple of tests, settled on this Nigella Lawson Flourless Chocolate Orange Cake.

Lastly, I wanted to make what had then become a bit of a classic in my repertoire – these sticky toffee buns. Adapted from a Simon Hopkinson recipe for Hot Sticky Toffee Pudding, I’ve made this as a tray-bake, a layer cake and finally these mini-cakes/buns. I won a category (best tasting I think) in the summer of 2014 at the Bermondsey Street Festival bake off with them which cemented my decision.

The overriding themes with all of my chosen bakes were ease, previous experience and transportability.  The scones were split and filled, the toffee buns iced and drizzled and the chocolate orange cake garnished on site in the most amazing butlers pantry kitchen.  All in all, I was super proud of how everything turned out and there was nothing left, so I took that as a good sign – I also received quite a lot of lovely compliments from the other guests, which led to some serious blushing but was lovely to hear. I’m not sure L ever did get his square of lemon drizzle however 😦

Serves 12

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Cake Ingredients:

175g Dates
275ml Boiling Water
50g Salted Butter or Low Fat Spread
1 tsp Sea Salt Flakes
75g Demerara Sugar
75g Dark Brown (Muscovado) Sugar
2 Eggs
1 tsp Vanilla Extract
175g Self Raising Flour
1 tsp Bicarbonate of Soda

Sauce Ingredients:

200ml Double Cream
80g Salted Butter
80g Dark Brown (Muscovado) Sugar
1/2 tsp Sea Salt Flakes

Buttercream Ingredients:

140g Salted Butter
280g Icing Sugar
1/4 of the above sauce

3 Small Dates


Firstly, make the sauce by gently heating 200ml Double Cream, 80g Salted Butter
80g Dark Brown (Muscovado) Sugar and 1/2 tsp Sea Salt Flakes in a small saucepan.  I keep stirring the mix until everything is melted and a a little thickened. This shouldn’t take more than 5 minutes or so. Don’t let it boil for long as it could end up tasting bitter.

Leave the sauce to cool and thicken whilst making the cakes.

Preheat the oven to 180c or equivalent.

Line a 12 hole muffin tin.

Tip – you can use muffin cases if you wish. I used this 12 hole mini sandwich cake tin from Lakeland (an older version that I got half price!) which has loose bottoms for super easy removal. I just greased these tins with butter. Neutral flavour frylight spray should also do the job. 

Using sharp scissors, snip 175g Dates into the jug of a blender or bowl of a food processor (not a stand mixer – you need blades here). Cover with 275ml Boiling Water, put the lid on and leave the dates to soak for 5 minutes.

Tip – If using ready cut dates, skip the cutting stage. Obvs.

After the dates have soaked, blitz them to a smoothish paste.

Tip – I now proceed to make the bulk of the cake mix in a blender as its the best way I’ve found to break up big lumps of muscovado sugar that inevitably form and minimises the washing up. If you only have a little processor, dump the date mix into a mixing bowl once pureed then blitz the sugar quickly and proceed manually. At a stretch, you could use a stick blender to blitz the dates. If you have no processor whatsoever, you’re going to struggle. Check out my Recommendations page for some tips of cheap mixers to purchase – it’ll be worth it. 

Add 50g Salted Butter or Low Fat Spread, 1 tsp Sea Salt Flakes, 75g Demerara Sugar, 75g Dark Brown (Muscovado) Sugar, 2 Eggs and 1 tsp Vanilla Extract to the blender or processor and blitz until smooth.

Pour the mixture into a mixing bowl and gently fold in 175g Self Raising Flour and 1 tsp Bicarbonate of Soda.  The mixture will start to froth a bit, don’t be concerned, this is the bicarb starting to work.

Tip – Several times, I have added the flour to the belnder and combined that way to make this a truly one bowl mix but it over mixes, develops too much gluten and makes the cakes tough so I’ve learnt to not be so lazy and actually just use another bowl. Plus, it gives you another bowl to lick out. Bonus. 

Fill the 12 muffin tins to a little below their rim.

Tip – This recipe is apportioned to my mini cake tins so with slightly smaller tins, you may have mix left over. No bother, either make a second, probably smaller batch or make a small tray-bake with the leftovers. 

Pop into the oven for circa 20 minutes. A skewer will never come out truly clean because of the sticky nature of the buns but you want to make sure there is no runny mix left in the middle and they will feel good and springy to the touch.

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Leave the buns on a wire rack to cool. If using a non stick tin like mine, leave them into the tin to mostly cool then use a plastic knife to release them. Take them straight out of the tin if using liners.

Meanwhile, make the buttercream by beating 140g Salted Butter and 280g Icing Sugar together.

Add 1/4 of the toffee sauce a little at a time. Make sure the sauce is totally cool before doing this.  if the mix seems a little loose – it wants to be able to hold its shape – add extra icing sugar a bit at a time.

Tip – I like to whip butter icing with an electric whisk to give it a nice light texture but you could make this by hand with a wooden spoon or spatula, just beat it for as long as you can be bothered. 

Leave the buttercream to the side somewhere cool whilst you fill the buns.

Take half of the sauce mix and fill a piping bag with a medium round nozzle. My method for doing this is shown in the picture below.

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Tip – I don’t own a piping bag, this was a disposable one but I do keep a couple of cheap plastic nozzles lying around which I sometimes use with a sandwich bag with the corner cut off for make-do piping. I’m not really a pretty piping kinda gal but I’m yet to find a better method of injecting filling into a cupcake. 

Prod each (now cooled) cake from the top, in the centre, with the bag nozzle and squeeze about 3/4 teaspoon of sauce into the middle. Repeat until all cakes are filled.

Spoon a good dollop (technical term alert) of the buttercream onto the top of each cake.

Drizzle the remaining sauce over the cakes in a gung-ho messy fashion.

Quarter 3 Small Dates using sharp scissors and press onto the top of each cake for a final nipple like garnish. Classy.

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Super Garlicky Cheesy Tear’n’Share Loaf

I hate Paul Hollywood. I think he’s a slimy greaseball of a pompous A-Hole. And mostly he burns everything. But, I have to admit that his recipe for Savoury Chelsea Buns has been the basis of quite a number of my bakes over the years. I once went the whole hog and put basically an entire Christmas Dinner, gravy and all into one of these babies. I have also used the basic enriched dough recipe for a number of other bakes like this garlic loaf I made for the Band of Bakers comfort food event in November last year. I tweak the method a bit – yeast in warm water for a bit first – my life is too short to be faffing around with super long proves etc.

Updated 19/7/2016 – So I made this as my contribution to my baking birthday party on a super hot Saturday in July and I managed to take some ‘in progress’ photos which I have now added.  The photos are for a white spelt version which I made using a regular processor (I would not recommenced that,  I’m going to buy a bread-maker!)

Be warned, when I say super garlicky, I mean it. And some. And then a bit more.

Serves 10 – Maybe 2 if you’re greedy 🙂

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Ingredients – For the Dough:

90ml (6 tbsp) Water
2 x 7g sachets Fast-Acting Dried Yeast
500g Strong White Flour – I sometimes substitute White Spelt Flour
50g Caster Sugar
1 tbsp Sea Salt Flakes
40g Salted Butter or Low Fat Spread
2 Eggs
140ml Skimmed or Semi-Skimmed Milk

Ingredients – For the Filling and Topping:

250g Salted Butter
3 tbsp Garlic Paste
1 tbsp Sea Salt Flakes
150g Pre Grated Mozzarella Cheese


To make the bread:

Add 6 tbsp of fairly warm (not hot) Water to a small bowl and add 2 x 7g sachets Fast-Acting Dried Yeast and 50g Caster Sugar. Whisk to combine a little (it won’t combine properly) and set aside.

Measure 500g Strong White Flour and  1 tbsp Sea Salt Flakes into a large mixing bowl and stir to combine.

Tip – If you have stand mixer or a processor with a dough hook, this is an ideal time to use it.  Some electric hand whisks also come with dough hooks in which case break those out after the next step. You can stir and knead by hand but why would you if you don’t have to?!

Add 40g Salted Butter or Low Fat Spread, 2 Eggs, the by now frothy yeast and water mix and 140ml Skimmed or Semi-Skimmed Milk to the flour and stir until a dough is formed.

Tip – The dough will be quite soft and sticky – this is a good thing!

Knead the dough until is it smooth and super stretchy – a good 10 minutes if kneading by hand, if not a bit longer – 5 to 7 minutes if using an electric mixer.

Tip – Knead the dough on a floured surface but try not to add too much extra flour to the dough as this will dry it out. If it feels like its getting a bit dry, knead in a little more milk or water. 

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Leave the dough in a large covered bowl somewhere warm for about an hour to rise – it should about double in size.

Tip – You can just leave this on the side in the kitchen but it’ll take twice as long. An airing cupboard or similar is ideal but I don’t have one so I usually put one of my ovens onto a super low heat and pop it in there – I’ve been burnt by doing this on occasion by being impatient and its started to cook the dough a little by having it on too high a heat. Don’t do this! You could also warm the oven a little, pop the dough in and then turn the oven off – just don’t keep opening the door to let the residual heat out.

While the dough is rising, make the garlic butter and cheese mix per the below instructions.

Once doubled, take off the covering and give the dough a good punch. You don’t actually need to be aggressive but these opportunities are rare so go for it (imagine it’s Farage’s face -Ooh topical!).

Tip the dough out onto a floured surface and give it a quick light knead. No need for electric power here.

Cut the dough into 4 equalish size pieces and place 3 back under a covering for the time being. Roll the fourth piece into a rectangle about 1/2 cm thick.  It will fight back, keep going, it will roll out and stay eventually.

Take 1/4 of the garlic and cheese mix and spread over the rectangle of dough – try and make it a fairly evenly spread and right to the edges.

Using the sharpest knife you have, cut the square into 12 smaller squares (3 x 4). Stack the 12 squares one on top of the other.

Tip – Make 2 stacks of 6 if its looking precarious.

Take a 2lb loaf tin with greaseproof liner and rest it upright on one end if you can.

Take the stack of dough and place into the loaf tin.

Repeat the process with the other 3 sections of dough. The loaf tin should now be full to the top and can be put the right way up. Make the last square you put in the wrong way round so the cheese mix is facing inwards and not the outside edge of the tin.

Tip – You could also make these into Chelsea bun style rolls or even like a swiss roll or monkey bread for  different effects. 

Lightly cover the tin and leave to rise, exactly the same as before for 1 hour. The dough should puff out and fit snugly in the tin.

After 50 minutes, preheat the oven to 200c or equivalent.

Bake the loaf in the preheated oven for 20-30 minutes (I popped the loaf tin in a larger roasting tin to catch buttery drips) until golden brown. When nearly finished, smear the top of the dough with the reserved garlic butter and pop back in the oven for a minute or two until the butter has melted.

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Eat warm. Try not to eat it all. Sod it, eat it all. Have no fear of vampires for circa a week.


To make the filling and topping:

Take 250g Salted Butter which is room temperature or a little softer and mix in 3 tbsp Garlic Paste and 1 tbsp Sea Salt Flakes.

Tip – If you use the microwave to soften the butter, I usually do, I’m not organised enough to take it out the fridge in advance, cut it into small squares first and spread them out on a plate. Blitz for no more than 5 seconds at a time. This way its more evenly softened rather than big block which will melt on the outside and stay solid in the middle.

Reserve about a 5th of the mixture and set aside.

Stir in 150g Pre Grated Mozzarella Cheese to the bulk of the garlic butter.

Tip – Don’t be tempted to use fresh Mozzarella cheese here, it’ll be far too wet as would cream cheese or any other soft cheese like brie. The pre grated stuff has all the joy and stringyness of mozzarella but it’s quite dry – also best for pizza toppings I think. You could however use something stronger like cheddar or gouda but you’ll lose some of the gooey joy. 

White Spelt Scones for Wimbledon

How very exciting! After 10 years of religiously entering the ballot, this year I finally won tickets to Wimbledon, Court 1 seats on the first Thursday. Unfortunately, although I say ‘won’, you still have to pay for them; so after that outlay, I had no intention of paying another small fortune to feed and water myself there on the day. Cue an epic picnic.

There were strawberries of course, and clotted cream, but it seemed churlish not to make some scones to accompany them. So out comes the old Be-Ro recipe book (see my Cookbooks page for more details) to make ‘Rich Scones’. Of course I’ve adapted the recipe – there is more sugar, no fruit (dried fruit – yuck) and I’ve used white spelt flour with added baking powder to cater for my wheatarded compardre.

Serves 14 – 172 Kcal each


Ingredients:

340g White Spelt Flour
3 tsp Baking Powder
125g Slightly Salted Butter
50g Caster Sugar
1 Egg
100ml Skimmed Milk
Small Pinch Sea Salt Flakes


Preheat the oven to 200c or equivalent.

Line a baking tray with greaseproof paper.

Measure 340g White Spelt Flour, 3 tsp Baking Powder and a Small Pinch of Sea Salt Flakes into a medium mixing bowl.

Cut 125g Butter into small squares and add to the flour mix (pic 1).

Rub the butter into the flour until breadcrumb like in texture (pic 2)

Measure 100ml Skimmed Milk into a small jug and add 1 Egg. Mix to combine (Pic 3).

Add the milk and egg mix to the flour mix (reserve a tablespoon of the liquid for later) and combine. Stop as soon as the dough comes together (pic 4).

Tip – Add a little more flour or milk to get a sticky but handleable dough.

Press the dough into a rough rectangle on a floured chopping board. It wants to be about 2cm thick.

Tip – You can do this on the clean work surface but using a board makes clean up easier.

Use a 2 inch fluted cutter to start cutting out rounds and remove each as you go, placing them onto the lined baking tray (pic 5).

Pat the offcut bits of dough back into the main bit as you go for maximum cutting without having to totally re-roll (pic 6).

Continue cutting until all of the dough is used up – I got 14 out of mine – this will vary a little depending on the size cutter you use and the thickness/thinness of the dough.

Using the reserved milk and egg mix, brush the tops of the scones to glaze (pic 7).

Tip – Don’t do what I did and be too lazy to find a bigger bit of greaseproof paper and put the scones straight onto the baking tray. I got away with it because the tray I used was nearly new and still very non-stick.

Pop in the oven for circa 10 minutes.

Take out the oven when golden brown and put on a rack to cool. Or eat them super hot out the oven smothered in butter. Your call.

Split and serve with strawberry jam and clotted cream (in that order, there is no need to go all Devon about it ok!)

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Cedges Basics – Removing Avocado Flesh

Not one of my snappier titles, I will grant you, but this is my guide to getting one step closer to that magical ingredient…smushed/smashed avocado, hopefully without cutting yourself or making a royal mess!

Just to entice you…here are a few uses for said smushed/smashed avocado…



Firstly I only ever buy hass avocados, these are the darker, wrinkly-er skinned variety rather than the smoother green skinned variety – most places, including the supermarkets stock both.  Most supermarkets also stock a ‘ripe and ready’ pack and a ‘ripen at home pack’ – essentially the equivalent of selling both yellow and green bananas. They’re dearer but I do tend to buy the ripe and ready versions, and these sometime still need a day or two out of the fridge to reach optimum ripeness. The others can take weeks although putting them next to some bananas will help them ripen quicker.

So once you’ve decided that your avocado is soft enough to be yielding and ripe,  but not too far gone and brown, you can play avocado roulette (I won with the one in the pics, I caught it in the 6 minute window of perfect!) and start digging in:



Step 1

Use a sharp knife to cut the fruit in half length-ways, running the knife around the stone.

Step 2

Split apart (you may need to twist it gently as you pull the two halves apart) and using a little height and force, hit the stone in its centre with the knife blade.

Step 3

Twist and pull the knife and the stone should come out still attached to the knife.



Step 4

Using the knife tip, score the avocado flesh in each half right through to the skin (taking care not to go through the skin) into little squares.

Step 5

Use a desert spoon to scoop the flesh out.

Step 6

Ta-da!!! Add some lemon or lime juice to the cut avocado fairly quickly to stop it from graying.