January 27, 2016

This dish is great for mid week suppers when we all feel a little tired after work to get involved with anything too complicated but don't want to turn to the ready meal isle.

 It is also a great veggie option for those all important meat free suppers and it is pretty colourful too!

Sweet potatoes are a fantastic superfood, they are packed full of goodness and when spruced up with colourful veg and sprinkled with a little salt they become extremely delicious too. 

These giant orange veg are packed with vitamin A and are also rich in antioxidants so anyway you can get them into your diet is great. 

I normally do one sweet potato per person, so to serve 4 you will need...

4 sweet potato
1/2 red cabbage 
6 spring onions 
2 red chillies 
1 red pepper 
1 pack of feta, crumbled 
few black sesame seeds for decoration

Start by pricking your sweet potatoes all over with a fork, place in a hot oven (200C) for 40/45 minutes. 

Now if you have a mandolin you can slice up all your veg quickly and easily. If you are a little uneasy about using this elaborate tool you must buy a cut resistant glove, they give you great confidence in using a mandolin and will make the chore of chopping veg a thing of the past, you will never look back!

I use this  mandolin

Slice (or chop if you are not yet a mandolin user) the red cabbage, spring onion, red pepper and red chillies. 

Crumble up your feta and set to once side. 

Now carefully take your sweet potatoes out of the oven and slice them in half and start to assemble with all your sliced veg, top with feta and sprinkle with black sesame seeds

Enjoy mid week for a superfood, colourful health kick. 

January 25, 2016

These custard tarts are delicious. They are as easy to make as they are tasty and you can serve them up with a piping hot cup of tea for a treat at elevenses or they are perfect for a mid week pudding, served warm with a dollop of greek yogurt and a little hot custard over the top. 

Custard was never one of my most favourite things, in-fact I would go to extreme lengths to avoid it at school lunches and would always pass it on when offered at a dinner party.

 Custard pastries changed everything.

 My love affair with these sticky pastries all started at university, when one of my housemates would meticulously plan her Sunday mornings around a cup of tea and a hot custard pastry from the local shop. I soon joined in and these pastries became somewhat of a weekend ritual. 

The past few months these little Portuguese style tarts seem to be everywhere. So many cafes I pop into are serving up these tarts and even tiny market towns near home have them piled high. These are without doubt the pastry of the moment and thanks to my new found love affair with custard I am a big fan. 

Mine do not look quite as picturesque as they might, but the more rustic looking I find the tastier the bake! 

 I used Donna Hay's recipe found in her new book The New Classics

You will need...

1 ready-made sheet of puff pastry
1 vanilla pod seeded
Peel of 1 lemon 

165g of golden caster sugar 
180ml of water 
35g of cornflour
375ml of milk (full fat)
3 egg yolks

 Start by preheating your oven to 200C and set about making your lemon flavoured syrup. Place your water, lemon peel and vanilla pods (cut open) into a saucepan on a medium heat and let the sugar dissolve. Once dissolved then allow to boil until thickened, about 3 minutes. 

Now mix your cornflour and milk in a large bowl until smooth, add in the 3 yolks and whisk until well combined. Pour this mixture into a saucepan and bring to boil whisking continuously until the mixture has thickened and set to one side to cool. 

Now roll out your puff pastry and cut out circles, roll out each circle to made each slightly bigger and thinner. place into a non stick tart tin and spoon the custard mixture into the cases until smooth and covering your pastry. 

Bake for 25-30 minute or until golden. Serve still warm from the oven with piping hot coffee on a Saturday. Let me know how you get on! 

January 11, 2016

This winter spiced granola tastes a little bit like christmas, but more like a delicious bakery serving cinnamon buns by the bucket load. It is laden with ground ginger, cinnamon, allspice, chewy dates and pine honey. 

I like my granola to be really, satisfyingly chewy so I put plenty of dates in this mix. Not only does it add sweetness, once baked these become deliciously chewy, making you take your time over breakfast, making it last longer and of course keeping you fuller.

Now, you can add pretty much whatever you like to your mix, really what ever you have left over in the cupboard - dried cranberries are brilliant, as are jumbo golden raisins or goji berries if you fancy a tangy bite and any chopped nuts you can get your hands on. I like brazils and hazelnuts in mine, but almonds, pecans or walnuts all do the job just as well.

For a large Kilner jar full (1.5ltr) you will need...

 250g of ordinary oats
250g of jumbo oats
200g chopped brazil nuts
150g of chopped hazelnuts
300g of chopped & pitted dates
2tsp ground ginger
2tsp cinnamon
1tsp allspice
3tbsp of honey (I use pine honey as I love the flavour but any tasty honey also works brilliantly)  
3tps good quality olive oil
pinch of sea salt

First pre heat your oven to 150C and line a baking sheet with baking parchment.

Next weigh out your oats, add in your spices, mix all of this together with your hands, add in your chopped dates (or any selection of dried fruit you have decided to add in), chopped nuts and salt, mix well.

Next mix your oil and honey together and add to the dry mix, mix well together with your hands until everything is suitably coated and then spread out on a baking sheet. Bake for 30 mins at 150C, swoosh around with a couple of wooden spoons and then bake for a further 30 mins                                          

 Enjoy with hot berry compote and fresh tangy Greek yogurt for a reviving January breakfast!

Store in a kilner jar and take to work for breakfast on the go. (also great to dip in and out of for a snack to beat the afternoon slump)

January 09, 2016

This is no ordinary pancake... bring this out to the table at brunch and not only does it look impressive, but everyone can tuck in and it gives that wonderful feeling of everyone sharing something together.

I have had this for brunch a couple of times and have seen it in countless cookbooks but never thought it would be easy for me to replicate at home (I have never had much luck with yorkshire puds and this is basically a giant version).

This morning however I decided to finally give it a go and it is surprisingly easy, quick and came out better than I could have imagined!

To make this brunch dish look the part a skillet pan is really great, but any other pan that is completely oven proof will work just as well.

For a large pancake you will need...

3 eggs, 
1tbsp caster sugar 
150ml of milk (whole fat if you have it  - semi skimmed if not) 
100g plain flour 
1 tsp of vanilla paste

2 tbsp of melted butter  

Start by preheating your oven to 200C and placing your skillet or oven proof pan into the oven, next melt your butter and set this to one side. 

Now mix together your eggs and sugar until light and fluffy. Add in your milk and combine well, next add your flour and vanilla paste. Now, carefully using a mitt take your pan out of the oven and add in the melted butter followed by your batter, place back in the hot oven (don't forget to put your mitts back on to do this if you have taken them off to pour your batter!)

Now bake for about 15-20 mins until the pancake has puffed up to a glorious size, take it out of the oven and serve immediately with plenty of icing sugar and fresh berries. 

This is a brunch dish that is so easy, even if you have never been able to master yorkshire puds, I   promise, and is sure to impress at any table! 

January 03, 2016

These are as easy as they are delicious. They are also sinfully simple and unique to serve up on a lazy Sunday morning. 

These have been doing the Pinterest circuit for a few months now and I have been meaning to do them for ages, however I always forget and get so carried away poaching or scrambling my eggs that the moment has gone and I just carry on with traditional eggs on toast. 

This works really well with a chewy sourdough, I like to drizzle mine with good quality olive oil, on both sides which gives the toast a warm golden colour when toasted and also crisps up your bread nicely. 

To serve 4 you will need...

4 slices of tasty bread 
4 eggs 
Cookie cutter 
Salt & pepper 

Tasty ketchup if you fancy it, though these are delicious without any sauce. 

Slice up your bread and place your Cookie cutter in the centre of each slice and cut out a hole. These leftovers make perfect dippers so save and slice up these bits. Drizzle each slice with oil, and place in the pan for a few minutes, let this side turn golden and then flip over. 

Now crack your egg into the hole in each slice and let the eggs lightly fry away. Once these are nearly cooked, but the white is still a little runny, place under the grill to finish off. 

Coat with pepper and a little salt and enjoy with a fresh pot of coffee. 

Don't forget the extra dippers - smother in butter dip away. A different and fantastic brunch for guests, friends and family. 

January 02, 2016

For the first weekend of the new year, when resolutions are starting to kick in and you have had a few healthy days after the festive period there is nothing better than a spot of baking as a treat for the weekend.

This cake is also different from other bakes as it substitutes butter with coconut oil and coconut butter therefore making it a great vegan option, the coconut oil also makes it deliciously gooey and fudgy and in fact I would make this cake even for non-vegans out there as I have never been able to achieve such a gorgeous, moreish texture!

This cake is super easy, no need for a mixer or blender and nothing needs to be delicately folded. Its more of a throw together method.

For the icing you need...

60ml of cold water 
75g of coconut butter (or regular butter if you are unable to get hold of coconut) 
50g of soft dark brown sugar 
1 1/2 tbps cocoa powder
150g of dark chocolate 

For the cake you will need...

225g of plain flour 
1 1/2 tsp of bicarbonate of soda 
1/2 tsp of sea salt 
75g of cocoa 
300g of soft dark brown sugar 
375g of hot water 
75g of coconut oil 
1 1/2tsp white wine vinegar 
a good sprinkling of dried rose petals for decoration

Start by preheating your oven to 180C and first start making the icing, mix together all the ingredients apart from the chopped chocolate, bring to the boil and then add the chocolate, turn off the heat and allow the chocolate to melt into the hot mixture, leave to cool while you get on with the cake. 

Line an 8in cake tin with baking parchment on the bottom and coconut butter around the edges. 

Next mix all the dry cake ingredients in a bowl and the sugar, water and coconut oil in another. Add the wet mix into the dry and mix until both are combined well into a glossy batter. Now pour into your greased tin and bake for 30 - 35 minutes depending on how hot your oven gets, check at 30 minutes with a knife or cake tester if you have one to see if the batter is cooked through (the tester should come out completely clean).

At this stage the edges of the cake should also be coming away from the tin - another easy, visual sign your cake is done. Let your cake cool in its tin and then transfer to a plate or cake stand and now get ready to smother your cake in the deliciously glossy icing you made earlier. 

Pour the decadent mixture over the cake...

 and then decorate with rose petals on top...

This is a delicious and decadent dessert to enjoy with friends on the weekend (as a nice end of week treat after a week of New Year dieting - as long as you go back to it come Monday!) This also makes a fantastic birthday cake for any chocoholics out there, just top with plenty of candles and enjoy with a glass of bubbly! 

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