Saturday, December 20, 2014

Christmas Baking with Corbyn - Empire Biscuits

After having the pleasure of watching Corbyn perform in his school's Nativity Play (he was a sheep with one line!), I also got to pick him up from school the next day for an overnight stay!

I must admit it is a bit daunting to watch this little man grow up before our very eyes, but it is also a wonderful privilege to be able to spend so much time with him.  After moving so far away from my family, I know how precious this time is.  But to hear how he had his whole schedule planned with precision was a surprise!  Corbyn wanted to bake, of course, watch a movie we just bought as a result of Christmas shopping on the way home and he also wanted to play Zoo Tycoon.  This was all accomplished with enough time for a lovely bedtime story!






Corbyn originally requested baking chocolate muffins but then grabbed his "My Baking Journal" and found the Empire Biscuits recipe instead.  Once I told him they were his grandfather's favourites, it became a mission for Corbyn to make these for a Christmas gift for his GaGa!

I must admit, these biscuits are one of my favourites also.  However, I never expected them to be so easy to make, requiring very little in the way of ingredients too.  My only complaint about  the way the recipe is written is that it didn't say how many biscuits to expect.  I got 8 altogether, And I had to guess how big 1cm is!  Today I put a ruler on my cookbook shelf so I can refer to that next time!

When baking with Corbyn, it is always fast and furious, so there are not equivalents or US measurements.  I apologize for that.  But we did have fun baking!



Recipe with no photos or notes follows at the end.

Empire Biscuits

Ingredients:

170g Butter
  55g Caster Sugar
225g Plain Flour
Strawberry Jam

1.  Preheat oven to 150C and grease two baking tins.

2.  Cream the butter and sugar together.

3.  Gradually mix in the flour until the mixture forms a stiff dough.

4.  Roll out the dough to 1cm thick and use a round cutter to make an even number of biscuits.  My round cutter seemed too big, so we used a wine glass!

5.  Bake for 20 - 30 minutes.

6.  Place on a wire rack to cool.

7.  Once cool, stick together two biscuits using a dollop of jam.


Ice with Glace Icing:

125g Icing Sugar (Powdered Sugar)
1 Tablespoon warm water

1.  Sift sugar into bowl.  Slowly add water until the icing becomes thick enough to cover the back of a spoon.

2.  Add more water if needed - one drop at a time.



Empire Biscuits often have gum drops on top but I don't like them, so we put M&M's on them.


Joke taken from the "My Baking Journal" - 

"What do elves make sandwiches with?
Shortbread!"









Empire Biscuits

Ingredients:

170g Butter
  55g Caster Sugar
225g Plain Flour
Strawberry Jam

1.  Preheat oven to 150C and grease two baking tins.

2.  Cream the butter and sugar together.

3.  Gradually mix in the flour until the mixture forms a stiff dough.

4.  Roll out the dough to 1cm thick and use a round cutter to make an even number of biscuits.

5.  Bake for 20 - 30 minutes.

6.  Place on a wire rack to cool.

7.  Once cool, stick together two biscuits using a dollop of jam.

Ice with Glace Icing:

125g Icing Sugar (Powdered Sugar)
1 Tablespoon warm water

1.  Sift sugar into bowl.  Slowly add water until the icing becomes thick enough to cover the back of a spoon.

2.  Add more water if needed - one drop at a time.


Empire Biscuits often have gum drops on top but I don't like them, so we put M&M's on them.










Tuesday, December 16, 2014

And so the Christmas season begins!



Looks like I have missed over a month since last posting!  That does not mean I have been doing nothing!  I have one post ready and waiting to go for the Christmas Cookie Swap post we all have to post on the same day.  And I have been travelling with my niece and my husband to Germany for Thanksgiving with my friend and also a massive amount of Christmas markets - here is one of the blogs from that trip.  The one I did for Thanksgiving Day.

We also had a day trip to Dublin last week.  This was a girls' day out with my Daughter and my Niece - A Day in Dublin.  If you read this, you will realise I was a bit under the weather following this day, but not for the expected reason.  No I was not hungover, but suffered from either a very abbreviated flu as a result of getting a flu shot and not getting really, really ill, or having a virus as one of my more medically experienced friends is convinced happened.....either way, this weekend of lunches and parties could have come a bit later as far as I am concerned.  That is not to say I did not enjoy every minute though!




First was a 3 course festive lunch with my oldest friend in Scotland, at Beresford's.  We used to meet once a week for coffee, but after 25 years and life itself, she now lives on the other side of Scotland, so we meet when we can....





On the same day, a few hours later, I was part of a group of 8 at Prestwick Airport Aviator Suite at a party to support our local and beautiful Gaiety Theatre.




The night started so slowly that all these adults began to act like bored children and I was very concerned since this was my idea....








but the entertainment turned out to be amazing, as well as the company, and we all had an amazing time.


Some of the men sporting new "hats" as a result of raffle prizes.
I



including phenomenal luck with the raffle - 7 out of 8 of us won a prize!
Alan collecting the star prize!

We danced the night away, which was totally unexpected, and with all the photographers in our crowd, we got some fun shots!   I gave up and let Alan and Bill do all that work!



I wonder what everyone else thought?  Selfies on the dance floor! What fun it was!  

                             And we even got a family group shot before we left the building.



As if I had not had enough fun for a weekend, I was expecting to host another festive event on Saturday, lunch for 6!









Baked a little chicken- stuffing with one lemon and a bay leaf, on top - sea salt with Scottish Heather mixed in


So I planned very carefully to ensure I had time.
after roasting!  looks yummy just like that!












I also cut the vegetables and had the stock all ready just to dump in at the right time.







Playing the Christmas Gift dice game after dinner
So there was time to relax and enjoy the company!  Plus they all loved it!  Easy, tasty, not too high in calories dinner, does it get better than that?













Corbyn examining his Mum's winning cookie maker kit!

Here is what we ate:

Starter - pate, doesn't get easier than that, plus Sue brought some frozen goodies to add to this.

Main course - Believe it or not - taken from Weightwatchers "The Complete Kitchen" cookbook!  Zippy Chicken and Broccoli Tagliatelle.  This was  tremendous hit!  And it was so easy!

Dessert - Brownie sundae, using a mix the day before and chopping up some peppermint Hershey's kisses I was lucky enough to have on hand!  Catherine also brought an amazing Banoffee Pie. It was so delicious - I begged her to take it away with her when she left, but she didn't.  Ok, there isn't any left now!

Zippy Chicken and Broccoli Tagliatelle

10 Propoints Values per recipe
10 minutes preparation
10 minutes cooking

Serves 2

125g (4 1/2 oz dried tagliatelle)
125g (4 1/2 oz Broccoli, cut into small florets
1 teaspoon olive oil
1 garlic clove, sliced
1/2 red chilli, de-seeded and diced
2 ripe tomatoes, chopped roughly
150ml (5 fluid oz) chicken stock
150g (5 1/2 oz) skinless cooked chicken breast, diced
grated zest of 1/2 a lemon + 1 teaspoon lemon juice
2 tablespoons chopped fresh basil
15g (1/2 oz) freshly grated Parmesan cheese

1.  Bring a saucepan of water to the boil, add the pasta and return to the boil.  Cook for 10 minutes until tender or follow the packet instructions.  Add the broccoli for the last 3 minutes.

2.  Meanwhile, place the oil, garlic and chilli in a saucepan and heat for 1 minute or until the garlic just starts to turn golden.  Add the tomatoes and cook for 1 minute so they start to soften then add the stock and chicken and simmer for 3 - 4 minutes.

3.  Drain the pasta and broccoli then mix with the tomato sauce.  Add the lemon zest, juice, basil and Parmesan cheese and toss together.  Divide between warmed bowls and serve straightaway.

“Christmas? Christmas means dinner, dinner means death! Death means carnage; Christmas means carnage!”
Ferdinand the Duck in the Australian film 'Babe' (1995)






Monday, December 15, 2014

Christmas Cookie Swap 2014 - White Chocolate and Cranberry cookies


My packages for the Great Food Blogger Christmas Cookie Swap 2014 are freshly in the post as I begin to compose this blog!  What a super feeling of accomplishment! This might be my third year doing the Cookie Swap, but it seems like I was more excited about it than ever before! Possibly discovering a delicious cookie recipe a few weeks ago helped.  Normally it is down to the deadline before I know what I am doing!


I got my three partners in swapping and was delighted to be able to help out with yet another person from Ireland when they didn't have enough participants in that country. The extra postage is not sufficient to dampen the fun of helping someone be involved, and to also support the lovely activity which raises money worldwide for Cookies for Kids Cancer.

However, I am not certain she or one of my other matches received their cookies!  I know the name of the Irish blogger was incorrect because I looked at her blog and was able to correct that, but if the name was wrong, what about the rest of the address?  If this is the first year doing the cookie swap, maybe the two I have not heard from don't realise they were supposed to let me know they got them.  I have emailed them to ask, but had no response either.  I did hear from Rebecca from Really Pretty Useful and she enjoyed the cookies I sent her!

I am still waiting on one more box of cookies, not sure what has gone wrong this year....but I have thoroughly enjoyed my Chocolate and Candy Cane cookies from Ally at Digital Diva and the amazing Orange Chocolate Chip and Walnut cookies from Angela from the awkwardblog.com.


When I made the recipe I sent originally it was for our trip to London to see our son. I have never made a chocolate cookie dough though and had no idea how much I personally would love these cookies!  I think they are the best ever.....however, they are so chocolaty they need a health warning. Well, at least for our niece who is staying with us, sort of as a gap year.  She is allergic to high percentage chocolate and these will hurt her.  So why did I make them twice? Sorry, Morgan!

Before reading the recipe, I have a request!  This blog has been going on for over 2 years and I really enjoy doing it, but I am very frustrated because I get no comments at all!  I would love to hear from you, any thoughts, comments or questions would be wonderful to receive.  With readers all over the world, it would mean a lot to me to hear from you!  I have also re-started my Pat's Kitchen Facebook page, so if that is the best way for any of you, please "like" that!   Here is the link to "Pat's Kitchen".


Taken and adapted from a package of Nestle Premier White Chocolate Chips I bought in the States.

White Chocolate Chip Cookies   

(or An assortment of ingredients, including any type of chocolate chip or dried fruit Cookies!)

I have done my best to convert the US measurements to metric and I hope they work as well for you as they have for me!   With the exception of figuring out the butter, there is an excellent online butter conversion website, it is listed in my Pages, but easily found just by typing in the name.


Ingredients:



2 1/4 cup / 383g plain flour
2/3 cup / 70g cocoa
1 tsp baking soda  (bicarbonate of soda)
1/4 salt
1 cup (2 sticks) / 227g butter or margarine, softened
3/4 cup / 201g granulated sugar
2/3 cup / 167 packed brown sugar
1 tsp vanilla extract
2 large eggs
2 cups white chocolate chips*,  however I used 1 cup white chocolate chips and one cup dried cranberries for a more festive look!

*The first time I tried this recipe, I used one cup white and 1 cup very dark chocolate chips.  The cookies could have hurt more than just my niece with the massive amount of chocolate they contained, but they were amazing!  This time, I decided to be a bit more festive and added a 170g package of dried cranberries. This ended up being exactly one cup!  I intended to add one package of white chocolate chips, but the package was 100g and did not fill a whole cup.....what to do?  Open another small package or finish off the already opened dark chocolate chips just sitting there and begging me to eat them in one gulp?  Best to get them out of temptation's way, so there is a hint of dark chocolate chips in this cookie swap.



Oven temp -  350F  180C

Combine dry ingredients in small bowl.

Cream butter and the two sugars together, then add vanilla and beat until very creamy.

Beat in the eggs, one at a time.  

Add the flour in a little at a time. This will get more difficult to mix and using an electric mixer helps!

Add the chocolate morsels and dried cranberries, or whatever you have decided to use.

Using awell rounded teaspoon, drop cookie batter onto ungreased baking sheets.

Bake for 9 - 11 minutes.

Sunday, November 9, 2014

Playing with Nigella's Banana, Cherry and White Chocolate Cupcakes Recipe!


It must be one of my missions in life to never throw away over ripened bananas!  I was lucky enough to find a recipe that called for 3 ripe bananas and decided this was the one to use.  Only problem was that it called for cherries and white chocolate and I had neither one!   Not that I would be deterred from trying this new banana cupcake recipe.  I just substituted frozen raspberries and milk chocolate chips.  they were delicious too!

I own the UK version of Nigella's "How to be a Domestic Goddess"  but looked up the American version on the internet to see if I could use both versions simultaneously to help me do this as fast as possible.  Using cups is much easier and faster, but I do believe using measurements gives more consistent results.  One roadblock though, how to weigh frozen raspberries?  I am not sure, but I would guess frozen berries weigh more, but a quarter cup is just a simple quarter cup!  

One thing I have learned to be very helpful since starting this blog is the advantage of having all the necessary ingredients together before starting.  Many times before I started doing that, I would be in a mad panic in the middle of a recipe, at a crucial moment and unable to find an essential ingredient.   This no longer happens, but on occasion, something worse happens as a result of all those little bowls of ingredients ready and waiting for me.  Those little bowls can move, seemingly on their own......

Being unfamiliar with this recipe, I did think the batter was really runny when I put them in the cupcake liners and into the oven to bake.  Thankfully, I began to clean the kitchen right away which is not my usual practice!  And lurking behind the kettle was one cup of plain flour just sitting there waiting to become part of the batter......I whipped those cupcakes out of the oven and contemplated just throwing it all away.  But instead, I took each and every soggy cupcake out of the pan and dumped the batter into a bowl.  I wish I had thought to take a photo of the mess of those liners dripping on the saucer after I managed to salvage the process.  Who knew those cupcakes would survive and come out tasting wonderful, even after such a stupid and careless mistake!


Not to reinvent the wheel, I am sharing the recipe I found on the internet with both measurements!   Many thanks to dinnerdujour.org for doing all the work!    The few notes I added are in purple.  Recipe on its own follows at the end.

Banana, Cherry and White Chocolate Cupcakes
adapted by dinnerdujour.org from How to Be a Domestic Goddess by Nigella Lawson
Makes 12 cupcakes
See the bowl just under the butter?  That is the one I missed!
1/2 cup + 1 tablespoon (125 g) unsalted butter
1 cup (200 g) sugar
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
3 ripe bananas, mashed
1/4 cup (60 ml) sour cream or natural yogurt
2 large eggs, beaten
2 1/2 cups (300 g) plain flour
1 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon baking powder
1/3 cup (40 g) dried cherries, chopped (you could substitute dried cranberries or even raisins)  I substituted frozen raspberries
1/4 cup (50 g) white chocolate, chopped, or use chips or buttons  - milk or dark chocolate works too!
Preheat the oven to 350°F (180°C). Line a muffin tin with paper or silicone cases.
Melt the butter in a saucepan big enough to eventually hold all the batter. Off the heat, add the sugar, vanilla and mashed bananas. Stir in the sour cream or yogurt and the eggs and beat to mix with a wooden spoon. Sift in the flour, baking soda and baking powder, then fold in the cherries and chocolate. Mix until everything is just blended (don’t overmix!), then divide the mixture between the 12 muffin cases. Cook for 20 minutes, until golden and springy on top and a tester comes out clean. Remove the cupcakes in their papers to a wire rack and leave till cool.
"Laughing at our mistakes can lengthen our own life.  Laughing at someone else's can shorten it."  Cullen Hightower

Banana, Cherry and White Chocolate Cupcakes
adapted by dinnerdujour.org from How to Be a Domestic Goddess by Nigella Lawson
Makes 12 cupcakes
1/2 cup + 1 tablespoon (125 g) unsalted butter
1 cup (200 g) sugar
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
3 ripe bananas, mashed
1/4 cup (60 ml) sour cream or natural yogurt
2 large eggs, beaten
2 1/2 cups (300 g) plain flour
1 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon baking powder
1/3 cup (40 g) dried cherries, chopped (you could substitute dried cranberries or even raisins)
1/4 cup (50 g) white chocolate, chopped, or use chips or buttons
Preheat the oven to 350°F (180°C). Line a muffin tin with paper or silicone cases.
Melt the butter in a saucepan big enough to eventually hold all the batter. Off the heat, add the sugar, vanilla and mashed bananas. Stir in the sour cream or yogurt and the eggs and beat to mix with a wooden spoon. Sift in the flour, baking soda and baking powder, then fold in the cherries and chocolate. Mix until everything is just blended (don’t overmix!), then divide the mixture between the 12 muffin cases. Cook for 20 minutes, until golden and springy on top and a tester comes out clean. Remove the cupcakes in their papers to a wire rack and leave till cool.


Saturday, November 8, 2014

Chocolate Chip Bars for our trip to London!

I must admit, I love baking and will jump at any excuse to do this!  One of the best is when I know our son will be the beneficiary of my efforts!  A few weeks before our trip to London to see him, our daughter, grandson and niece took a bus, fully loaded with banana muffins and a new cookie I had not baked before.  Here is the link to the blog I am keeping about Morgan's stay with us and how that weekend went.I am not going to publish the recipe for that cookie yet, because it just might be the one I do for this year's Christmas Cookie Swap!

On this journey, we made the difficult decision to fly Ryanair from Glasgow to Stanstead Airport just outside of London.  When I say just outside London, it is almost a 2hours trip by bus to get into central London.  Not a fun journey at all. And this flight used to leave from Prestwick, which is only a 15 minute drive from our house.  To leave on the first flight from Glasgow, we had to get a hotel room near the airport.  Not nice when we have been so spoiled in the past.

There were two reasons for this trip, the first and most important was to see Martin, but we also wanted to see the Tower of London poppies.  Since Martin had seen this 2 weeks earlier with his sister and everyone, he really did not want to face the crowd of visitors once again!  So we went straight to the Tower before meeting him at St Paul's Cathedral later that afternoon.

The sight of all those poppies is breathtaking, and very much worth a visit, even if having to fight the crowds.  In fact, it was much too crowded to see it all properly, especially with also wanting to find Martin sooner rather than later.  In addition, the traffic congestion and maintenance work on the tube lines we needed made transport incredibly difficult and time consuming too!   But worth all this!

a close up so you can see the way the individual poppies are placed

Could not get a decent angle on this iconic view of the window


How lucky were we with the weather?






















Whenever we are in London, we tend to walk and walk and walk and walk......here I am on the riverfront with the Tower Bridge behind me on the way to meet Martin.  When flying Ryanair, you have to pay extra for a case, so all my worldly goods, including cookies, are in my trusty, pink backpack!







Once we found Martin, we spent some time around Westminster to catch the evening light.

We were having a great time and took the train back to Chiswick, where our hotel was.  Then we got a phone call that almost ruined the whole trip.....our poor Bailey had not been well when we left, but the vet thought she would be ok until Monday. Unfortunately he was wrong.  Morgan phoned us to let us know, we phoned the vet's assistant, she phoned the vet, he phoned us, he then phoned Morgan.....then he went to our house to collect Bailey.  Late Saturday night she got an emergency hysterectomy and was brought home at 1:30am Sunday.

Somehow, once we knew things were under control, we managed to salvage the night and went to the George IV Comedy Club.  It seemed odd to be sitting there laughing after only about an hour ago we were contemplating Martin taking the night bus home to take care of his ailing dog!  I am writing this exactly one week after her surgery and Bailey is doing just fine!  I will always be grateful to our fabulous vet and my superstar niece for handling this stressful situation so well.

Look how busy it is here!  Corbyn would love to see this dinosaur skeleton!


On Sunday, after meeting for a delicious breakfast and getting absolutely soaked in the rain we decided to go to the Natural History Museum to see the Wildlife Photographer of the Year exhibition. But we never thought to book tickets and there were none available for the time we needed.  Oh well, still a great place to visit!





It wasn't until Sunday morning that I was able to deliver these cookies, and they had survived all the hours and miles of this trip.

I have this recipe hand written in a little cookbook I received as a gift years ago.  I do not remember what I copied it from, but my notes show that the first time I tried it was in January 2001.

There are conversion charts on my "pages" to find equivalent butter weights and pan sizes.

Championship Chocolate Bars   (recipe on its own follows at the end)    
 

Preheat oven to 350F   180C       makes about 36 bars



1/12 cups flour
1/2 cups light brown sugar
1/2 cup (1 stick) cold butter
2 cups chocolate chips
1 can (14 oz) sweetened condensed milk
1 egg, slightly beaten
1 tsp vanilla
1 cup chopped nuts (optional)



Stir together flour and sugar, cut in cold butter
Stir in 1/2 cup chocolate chips
Press into the bottom of 13 x 9 inch pan.
Bake 15 minutes.
While baking, combine milk, egg and vanilla
Add remaining chocolate chips and nuts
Spread mixture evenly over baked crust
Bake 25 minutes or until golden brown
Cool completely before cutting into bars.

I had 4 of these boxes in my backpack all day!


"Everyone has a story, but no one would make it to the happy ending if they didn't have the help of the other characters."  Levita Charin




Championship Chocolate Bars      

Preheat oven to 350F   180C     makes about 36 bars

1/12 cups flour
1/2 cups light brown sugar
1/2 cup (1 stick) cold butter
2 cups chocolate chips
1 can (14 oz) sweetened condensed milk
1 egg, slightly beaten
1 tsp vanilla
1 cup chopped nuts (optional)

Stir together flour and sugar, cut in cold butter
Stir in 1/2 cup chocolate chips
Press into the bottom of 13 x 9 inch pan.
Bake 15 minutes.
While baking, combine milk, egg and vanilla
Add remaining chocolate chips and nuts
Spread mixture evenly over baked crust
Bake 25 minutes or until golden brown
Cool completely before cutting into bars.
















Tuesday, October 21, 2014

Nigella's Lamb Cutlets with Mint and Golden Potatoes

This recipe is simple, easy and delicious!  


I was just looking for something different and this recipe caught my eye - to be honest, it just looked pretty!  So I decided to try it.  Now I believe it will be a family staple.  

A few years ago I was at a food market and purchased some gorgeous garlic oil from a stall holder. At the time, my daughter had just discovered her love of cooking, thanks to Nigella's tv program about her latest cookbook at the time - Nigella Express.   I explained this to the stall holder and said I had a lot to thank Nigella for, she agreed that we all have a lot to thank Nigella for!  

I have simply copied this recipe because it would be a shame to mess with perfection!  Ok, I stuck some photos in but if you want just the plain recipe, look a bit further and it will be there!  


Nigella's Lamb Cutlets with Mint and Golden Potatoes









I forgot to put the Rocket in this group!




Ingredients
  • 1 lb baby white potatoes, halved but not peeled
  • 3 tbsp extra-virgin olive oil
  • ½ tsp crushed red pepper flakes
  • 1 tsp dried mint
  • ½ tsp celery salt
  • 8 lamb chops
  • 4 cups packed rocket, to serve (optional)
  • 1 tsp kosher salt or ½ tsp table salt, or to taste
  • 1 tbsp chopped fresh parsley
  • 1 tbsp chopped fresh mint





Directions
1 Put the baby potatoes on to steam.

2 Get out a large dish – in which the lamb chops will fit in a single layer – and first pour into it the olive oil and sprinkle in the red pepper flakes, dried mint and celery salt. 

3 Using 1 lamb chop as if it were a wooden spoon, smoosh the oil with its sprinklings around a bit, so that it’s rather better mixed, then place the lamb chops in a single layer, turn them instantly, and leave to marinate for 10 minutes.

4 Heat a large, heavy, non-stick frying pan – big enough (about 11 inches in diameter) for all the chops to fit in – then duly place them all in it (the oil that clings to them from the marinade is plenty enough for them to fry in) and fry over medium heat for 5 minutes. 

5 While the chops cook, check that the potatoes are tender, which they should be by now; in which case, turn the heat off under your steamer, pour off the water, and let the potatoes stand, drying, while they wait.

6 Using tongs (for ease), turn the chops over and cook for a further 3 minutes. 

7 If you’re going to make this an entire one-plate meal, strew the bottom of a large serving platter with fresh rocket, or any other leafage you desire, and when the lamb chops are cooked, but still juicily pink on the inside, remove them to the salad-lined (or, indeed, naked) plate. Obviously, cook for longer if you like your lamb well done.

8 Tip the steamed potatoes into the same pan and fry for 3 minutes, then turn them over and fry for another 3 minutes, shaking the pan every now and again to make them tumble and turn in the hot fat.

9 Using a slotted spatula or similar, transfer the potatoes to the plate of chops and sprinkle with 1 teaspoon of kosher salt (I like these plenty salty, but if you have more austere tastes or are feeding small children, then decrease the salt or ignore the command altogether) along with the chopped parsley and mint.

Prep and cook time: 40 minutes.
Serves 4.

"I don't believe in low-fat cooking."   Nigella Lawson


Nigella's Lamb Cutlets with Mint and Golden Potatoes


Ingredients
  • 1 lb baby white potatoes, halved but not peeled
  • 3 tbsp extra-virgin olive oil
  • ½ tsp crushed red pepper flakes
  • 1 tsp dried mint
  • ½ tsp celery salt
  • lamb rib chops 
  • 4 cups packed rocket, to serve (optional)
  • 1 tsp kosher salt or ½ tsp table salt, or to taste
  • 1 tbsp chopped fresh parsley
  • 1 tbsp chopped fresh mint

Directions
1 Put the baby potatoes on to steam.

2 Get out a large dish – in which the lamb chops will fit in a single layer – and first pour into it the olive oil and sprinkle in the red pepper flakes, dried mint and celery salt. 

3 Using 1 lamb chop as if it were a wooden spoon, smoosh the oil with its sprinklings around a bit, so that it’s rather better mixed, then place the lamb chops in a single layer, turn them instantly, and leave to marinate for 10 minutes.

4 Heat a large, heavy, non-stick frying pan – big enough (about 11 inches in diameter) for all the chops to fit in – then duly place them all in it (the oil that clings to them from the marinade is plenty enough for them to fry in) and fry over medium heat for 5 minutes. 

5 While the chops cook, check that the potatoes are tender, which they should be by now; in which case, turn the heat off under your steamer, pour off the water, and let the potatoes stand, drying, while they wait.

6 Using tongs (for ease), turn the chops over and cook for a further 3 minutes. 

7 If you’re going to make this an entire one-plate meal, strew the bottom of a large serving platter with fresh rocket, or any other leafage you desire, and when the lamb chops are cooked, but still juicily pink on the inside, remove them to the salad-lined (or, indeed, naked) plate. Obviously, cook for longer if you like your lamb well done.

8 Tip the steamed potatoes into the same pan and fry for 3 minutes, then turn them over and fry for another 3 minutes, shaking the pan every now and again to make them tumble and turn in the hot fat.

9 Using a slotted spatula or similar, transfer the potatoes to the plate of chops and sprinkle with 1 teaspoon of kosher salt (I like these plenty salty, but if you have more austere tastes or are feeding small children, then decrease the salt or ignore the command altogether) along with the chopped parsley and mint.

Prep and cook time: 40 minutes.
Serves 4.

Wednesday, October 1, 2014

Experimenting with Turnip, Honey & Roasted Garlic Soup

We had committed to our daughter that we would help spruce up our daughter's new home by helping her paint and all that general stuff you do in a new home....However, Alan did not remember that he actually agreed to a particular day, and this was his only day off that week....oh well, as good parents, we decided she needed us more than he needed to relax! Or whatever he does on a day off!

Since Alan was working in the morning, I volunteered to make lunch and we all would arrive in separate cars with separate chores expected of us.

Coincidentally, I discovered smoked garlic at Morrison's, that was not overpriced! The only other place I had seen this was in an international food market and could not justify what they were asking. Then, at the checkout, they could not find smoked garlic and charged me the normal price!  How lucky was that?  So did I run back and get more?  No....but I do hope to get some more soon!

Since I have the soup maker, I decided to find a recipe in the New Covent Garden "A Soup for Every Day" cookbook and came across this recipe for September 19th.   But I also know my daughter shares the same love of sweet potatoes I do, so for the first attempt, I used sweet potatoes instead of regular ones.  It was really, really good!  I used this same recipe a few days later for my in-laws, but kept with the regular potatoes and skipped the garlic.  The main reason for skipping the garlic is that my mother-in-law is diabetic and I believe the honey is to complement the garlic. So best not to use either instead of overpowering the soup with garlic!  In the end, this version was also very good.

As always, the recipe will follow at the end as written in the book, with no photos or comments.

Turnip, Honey and Roasted Garlic Soup

Serves 4
Cooking time 1 hour and 20 minutes 

Ingredients:

25g butter
1 medium onion, finely diced
3 medium carrots, diced
2 medium potatoes, Sweet or white, diced
300g turnips, diced
1 stick celery, sliced
750ml chicken stock
6 cloves garlic, roasted in skin until soft
4 teaspoons honey

1.  Melt butter in a saucepan, add the onion, then cover and cook gently for 10 minutes, without browning.   

  ---with the soup maker, I put a tablespoon of olive oil at the bottom and added the onions, and all other vegetables.

2.  Add the carrots, potatoes, turnips, celery and stock to the pan.  Bring to the boil, cover, then simmer gently for 1 hour, stirring occasionally. 

---the soup maker is supposed to have at least 600ml of stock and that was about all I could squeeze in!   Then all I did was turn it on to chunky and it was done in about 25 minutes!


3.  Remove from the heat, blend half the soup until smooth, then return it to the pan.

4.  Squeeze the roasted garlic cloves from their skins, mash to a paste, then add to the soup along with the honey.  Season to taste, then reheat gently for 2 - 3 minutes and serve.


---I just put the garlic segments in a bit of tin foil and roasted in the oven while the soup was cooking.  But squeezing them is a lot harder than it sounds.  I kept getting a bit of roasted skin in.  Next time, I will try to remove more skin before roasting!



"Dreams about the future are always filled with gadgets."

Turnip, Honey and Roasted Garlic Soup

Serves 4
Cooking time 1 hour and 20 minutes 

Ingredients:

25g butter
1 medium onion, finely diced
3 medium carrots, diced
2 medium potatoes, diced
300g turnips, diced
1 stick celery, sliced
750ml chicken stock
6 cloves garlic, roasted in skin until soft
4 teaspoons honey

1.  Melt butter in a suacepan, add the onion, then cover and cook gently for 10 minutes, without browning.

2.  Add the carrots, potatoes, turnips, celery and stock to the pan.  Bring to the boil, cover, then simmer gently for 1 hour, stirring occasionally. 

3.  Remove from the heat, blend half the soup until smooth, then return it to the pan.

4.  Squeeze the roasted garlic cloves from their skins, mash to a paste, then add to the soup along with the honey.  Season to taste, then reheat gently for 2 - 3 minutes and serve.








Saturday, September 27, 2014

Just a Simple Chocolate Cake


One of the many pleasures I have is living so close to my daughter and grandson.  This might mean I babysit more than many grandparents, but most of the time, we have fun.  (He is 5 years old, so we can't have fun all the time, that just would not be normal!)

One of the bonds we have though, is the love of baking.  But our focus is not the same.  I enjoy the challenge and the fun involved, Corbyn likes the end product and would skip all the process of measuring and waiting if that were possible!

My original idea of working through "My Baking Journal" in a systematic matter is not compatible with Corbyn's approach....so we are repeating a cake that he wanted to bake for his Mum. He knows she enjoyed this cake and I am surprised we had not added it into this blog already.

I have the idea that this is also one of Corbyn's favourite recipes since he had to rate the result out of ten and gave it 135 plus 1 million/10.    Since he is only 5 years old, I will not worry about his lack of grasp of fractions (yet)!


Nutella is not part of this cake, but Corbyn liked the idea that it was here!



Corbyn is very aware of food hygiene, or rather, he really likes the idea of wearing aprons! So when my niece, Morgan, offered to help, he insisted she also wear an apron!



As always, an unadorned recipe with no comments or photos will follow at the end.




Simple Chocolate Cake

Ingredients:
There is a hint of something I did wrong here.....answer at the end!

170g butter
170g caster sugar
140g self-raising flour
1 tsp baking powder
85g drinking chocolate
3 large eggs
3 Tbs boiling water

(Corbyn decided to add about 1/4 cup white chocolate chips and this was really a nice touch!)

Instructions:

1.  Grease or line an 18cm (9 inch) square cake tin and preheat oven to 180C, 350F

2.  Cream together the sugar and butter until light and fluffy.

3.  Beat in the eggs, and then add the boiling water.

4.  Sift in the flour, baking powder, and drinking chocolate.  Mix well.  Add chocolate chips if using.

5.  Transfer mixture to tin and bake for 25-30 minutes until well risen.  The cake will be ready when you insert a knife and it comes out clean with no mixture sticking.

6.  if you intend to ice this cake, do this after the cake has cooled completely.  Both times we have made this, we have not iced it.  The cake is just delicious enough without icing!





After we went through all the steps and put the cake in the oven, I had a look at the tin containing flour.....and it dawned on me, this was Plain Flour, not Self Raising Flour......!   Too late to do anything but hope.  At least we put in the baking powder and this seemed to be enough.  The cake was delicious, even made wrong.  How lucky for all of us!



"I want someone to look at me, the way that I look at chocolate cake."  
Unknown quote



Simple Chocolate Cake

Ingredients:

170g butter
170g caster sugar
140g self-raising flour
1 tsp baking powder
85g drinking chocolate
3 large eggs
3 Tbs boiling water

(Corbyn decided to add about 1/4 cup white chocolate chips and this was really a nice touch!)



Instructions:

1.  Grease or line an 18cm (9 inch) square cake tin and preheat oven to 180C, 350F

2.  Cream together the sugar and butter until light and fluffy.

3.  Beat in the eggs, and then add the boiling water.

4.  Sift in the flour, baking powder, and drinking chocolate.  Mix well.  Add chocolate chips if using.

5.  Transfer mixture to tin and bake for 25-30 minutes until well risen.  The cake will be ready when you insert a knife and it comes out clean with no mixture sticking.

6.  if you intend to ice this cake, do this after the cake has cooled completely.  Both times we have made this, we have not iced it.  The cake is just delicious enough without icing!