Jammie Dodgers …

The shop bought biscuits taste yummy, surely a home made version wouldn’t even come close? I like a challenge but, as it turned out, this wasn’t much of a challenge at all. Having looked through various cook books, I decided to look online and found this recipe from Karen Burns-Booth over at Lavender and Lovage.
This recipe blew the shop bought version out of the water – the shortbread itself was (yes, was – they’ve all been eaten now …) deliciously buttery and crumbly, the addition of vanilla extract left a lingering taste, a hint of vanilla that smelled better than any pricey eau de cologne, simply delicious.
I made half with strawberry jam and half with raspberry, hard to say which was the tastier of the two but think raspberry might just have had the edge.

20140418-090836.jpg

20140418-090843.jpg

Acer, Baking & a new Curry …

The acer in question is a beautiful tree in our garden. The leaves are a beautiful sage green in the centre, extending out to an almost lemon yellow around the edges, it was these colours that were my inspiration today. We planted the tree a few years ago and whilst it’s taken some time to take root, it’s now a true splash of colour in our very green garden:

 

 

It was lovely to spend a little time on saturday, browsing some of my favourite cookbooks. A mild curry was  my choice for saturday evening, taken from my Spice Trip book. There was lots of flavour from the spices (fenugreek, turmeric, coriander and cinnamon) and yet the taste of the cod wasn’t overwhelmed at all. The added bonus of some courgettes and fresh tomatoes made this a deliciously light and fresh meal, eaten outside so we could enjoy the last of the day’s sun:
To follow our curry, I made some ‘Citrus Fork Biscuits’, so called because once the dough is made into a ball, it is then flattened with a fork (this could be done equally well with a thumb if preferred). I used a combination of lemon and lime zest which made these treats a very ‘zingy’ end to our day:

Foodie Friday … a Day Late …

I’ve been trying out lots of new recipes recently. It’s been fun tasting new combinations of flavours plus a few old favourites, cooked in a new way.

I’m beginning my foodie post this week with a dessert that was a combination of poached pears, madelaines and a dash of cream. The pears had been poached in cider with some star anise and a cinnamon stick a few weeks earlier. I’d never made madelaines before and I think they came out a bit more spongy than they are supposed to but they tasted lovely and were incredibly light:

IMG_2208

Last Sunday was very cold and damp, we needed something warm and cosy for lunch. This month’s ‘Delicious’ magazine had the perfect recipe which we have renamed ‘Brash Pie’. It’s simply a combination of onion, bacon, grated cheddar, an egg and some mashed potato. I added some goat’s cheese too which was a yummy addition:
IMG_2219

As we had some poached pears left, I decided to make a trifle! I have always loved a trifle at Christmas time so this was a real treat for me !!IMG_2220 IMG_2221

We do love meatballs in our house and I’d stuck with the same recipe for years. This month’s Delicious magazine contained a recipe for some meatballs with a bit of a chilli kick:IMG_2234 We had these with some pasta shells and sour cream. The cream took the edge of the chillis and as for the family’s verdict, well this is definitely a recipe I’ll be using again:IMG_2238 I’d promised my boys a while ago that the next time we had pancakes, I’d make some caramalised apples to serve with them. These were incredibly sticky but delicious too!IMG_2239 Beef Samosas were on the menu this week. They had enough warmth to be perfect on a wintery evening and I was able to hide lots of finely chopped onions, mushrooms and celery inside them which the boys knew nothing about! The main spice in these samosas is cumin, freshly roasted and ground, the smell in the kitchen was incredible:IMG_2242 Finally, today, we had yet more spices. This time it was in the form of a fish curry from the Spice Trip cookery book. The curry was delicious but the recipe did require quite a range of ingredients such as: fish; 6 limes; onion; chillies; fresh mint; fresh coriander; turmeric; salt; cumin seeds; fennel seeds; cardamom seeds; coconut; garlic and rice.  IMG_2246The curry was lovely although I’m going to have to make sure I stock up on spices for when I want to make it again.

My baking for this week came in the form of ‘Orange Fork Biscuits’ as found in Mary Berry’s baking book. These are truly incredible and alongside the meatballs are my favourite recipes from the week. They contain orange zest and whilst they are crispy on the outside, they are deliciously shortbread-like on the inside, a great weekend treat:

IMG_2245Tomorrow I’m hoping to make some ravioli, I might even make some brioche too. Have a tasty week, I’ll post some of my foodie highlights again next week, I might even do it on friday !!

Lemon and Chocolate Swirls …

It being the long Easter weekend, I wanted to make something suitably ‘spring-like’ whilst giving a nod to the chocolate fest that is Easter. These incredibly easy but super-tasty biscuits ticked all the right boxes:

Here’s the recipe:

175g butter

300g caster sugar

1 egg, beaten

350g plain flour

65g dark or milk chocolate, melted and slightly cooled

zest of 1 lemon

makes about 30 biscuits

Cream the butter and the sugar until they are light and fluffy, slowly add the beaten egg mixing well. Add the flour and mix until a soft dough is formed. Divide the dough in 2, add the lemon zest to one half and the melted chocolate to the other half. On a lightly floured surface, roll out each dough to rectangles. Place the lemon dough on top of the chocolate dough and roll as tightly as possible to form a long cylinder. Slice the dough in to discs and place on prepared baking trays. Bake in a pre-heated oven (170ºC) for about 10 minutes or until the lemon part of the biscuits just start to turn golden.

Leave to cool on the baking tray for 5 minutes or so then cool the biscuits on a wire rack. For that extra chocolate-y touch, drizzle some extra melted chocolate over the top!

Enjoy!

Possibly the creamiest of cheesecakes …

Whenever one of us has a birthday, we get to choose what’s for tea and so it was today that we ended up eating a good old fashioned spaghetti bolognese followed by a decidedly creamy cheesecake. This is a real family favourite and it turned out particularly well this time. I made it yesterday evening, so it had 24 hours to really chill. I normally bake cheesecakes in my non-fan oven but yesterday decided to try it in the fan oven instead. A cheesecake that normally takes about an hour to bake, took just 40 minutes and the difference in the texture was amazing:

 

Here’s my version of the recipe for New York Cheesecake:

For the base:

200g crushed digestive biscuits

150g melted butter

For the cheese layer:

900g philadelphia cheese (or other soft cheese)

200g caster sugar

1tsp vanilla extract or the seeds from 1 vanilla pod

4 eggs (at room temperature)

For the base, mix the melted butter with the crushed biscuits, press this mixture in to a prepared 23cm round loose-based baking tin. Once the base is level, put the tin in to the freezer for 10 minutes while you mix the cheese layer.

For the cheese layer, slowly mix the soft cheese with the caster sugar and the vanilla, be careful not to over mix. Once you have a smooth creamy mixture, add the eggs 1 at a time, mixing carefully with each addition. Once all the eggs have been added, give the mixture a final quick stir.

Take the baking tin out of the freezer and add the cheese mix to the cold biscuit base, smooth the top and place on a large baking tray that has been half-filled with water. Bake the cheesecake at about 150 degrees C (about 135 degrees if using a fan oven) for 30-40 minutes. The cheesecake is ready once the top has begun to turn golden – don’t worry if the cheesecake has a bit of a ‘wobble‘ to it, this will firm up when you chill it in the fridge overnight.

Serve the following day with or without extras such as raspberries and cream.

Chocolate comfort …

It’s been literally freezing here for several days, we’re not used to temperatures of -7°C, especially during the day. I arrived home from work with my boys and despite the heating being on, the house felt so cold. Clearly I needed to prepare some seriously comforting and warming food for tea tonight. Toad in the Hole hit the spot for dinner, not only did it fill the house with warm, slightly caramelised sausage-y smells, having the oven helped warm the kitchen too. Pudding was going to be trickier to decide on, having worked all week, the cupboards looked pretty bare. I turned to my totally reliable “Ultimate Cake Book’ by Mary Berry and turned to the biscuit section (I knew there wouldn’t be enough time for me to make a cake). My eyes fell upon the recipe for ‘Chocolate Fork Biscuits’. They required few ingredients and were very quick and easy to make. A couple of these after our Toad-in-the Hole would be perfect:

 

 

Here’s the recipe:

 

200g soft margarine

100g caster sugar

240g self-raising flour

30g cocoa

Pre-heat the oven to 180°C and line 3 baking trays. Mix the margarine and the sugar then stir in the flour and cocoa powder until the ingredients form a dough. Take a rounded teaspoon of the mixture, roll it into a ball and place on the prepared baking tray. Press the dough balls down with a fork. Bake the biscuits for 15-20 minutes.

Carefully remove the biscuits from the tray with a palette knife and cool on a cooling rack.

Enjoy!