Winter fruit salad…to welcome the New Year

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Happy New Year…and an unusually healthy start to the year with this lovely fruit salad. It is really quick and easy to make and is also fun for kids to make, with only a little supervision.

Grab some fruit…chop it up, squeeze over some citrus juice, sprinkle sugar to taste…what could be nicer. Use any fruit you like, but the clementines and pomegranate give it a festive mid-winter touch.

To make 4-6 servings
4 clementines
3 purple plums
2 kiwi fruit…skin cut off
1 pomegranate

About 150g each of
Red grapes
Raspberries
Blueberries

Juice of 1 lemon, 3 clementines,…sugar to taste.

Cut clementines into three slices and separate each slice into three or four pieces.
Chop the ends off the kiwi fruit and slice off the rest of the skin. Cut in half lengthways and then slice.
Cut pomegranate in quarters and pick out the individual seeds.
Chop plums

Add prepared fruit to bowl with other whole fruits… Add lemon juice and stir so that the lemon juice coats the fruit. This will reduce browning in any fruits that are prone to go brown when cut. Add remaining fruit juice and sprinkle with sugar to taste.

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Sunday morning pancake breakfast

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We always have pancakes for breakfast on Sunday mornings. Always. Variations on a theme, but always pancakes. They’re so easy to make…give them a go. They don’t need much in the way of equipment either. We usually have glacé cherries and pecans in ours.

I use an odd mix of weights and measures in cooking. Old recipes, I use pounds and ounces…new recipes, I use grammes…US recipes, I use cups. Here, ounces, because I have been making these for years and this recipe is from my head, not written down. I will add metric measures later.

Breakfast pancakes
8oz self raising flour.
1/2oz caster sugar
1 teaspoon bicarbonate of soda

2 eggs
Half pint mug of milk – that’s about 10 fl oz
1 tablespoon (approx) vegetable oil…sunflower, nut oil (I like walnut)…just not strong olive oil.
1 teaspoon vanilla extract

Flavourings. Chopped glace cherries, chocolate chips, pecan or walnut pieces, raisins, blueberries, strawberry slices, banana slices, etc. Quantity, as much as you like.

Top tips
I tend to just fill a mug to about 1cm from the top with milk, then add the oil and vanilla to that. Then it mixes well.

I use McDougalls cake flour because it is really reliable to work with.

Don’t add all of the milk at once. Save a bit for the end and then you can make the batter thinner as needed. Play around with this. Thick batter makes thicker pancakes and is better with fresh fruit. A bit more milk and you get thinner pancakes with a more moist consistency. See what you like best.

Method
Mix dry ingredients. Stir and then whisk in eggs and milk/oil/vanilla.

Add any flavourings to the batter and stir in. Add any combination of things you fancy…but just be aware that really sugary things like chocolate tend to burn a bit, and really watery things like fresh fruit will make the batter a bit slower to cook.

Heat a heavy-based non-stick pan over a medium-to-high heat. Oil pan lightly (I use oil on kitchen roll and wipe it round the pan).

Drop 1 tablespoon of batter into pan…do three or 4 pancakes at a time like this. Cook for 1 or 2 minutes, until a skin starts to form on the top surface.

Check underside of pancake to see if it is done by lifting with a spatula or fish slice. Once the bottom is cooked to your liking (I prefer golden), flip the pancake over and cook for about 1 minute on the other side.

When cooked, transfer to a cooling rack for a minute…then eat…with maple syrup, butter, chocolate spread, jam….!

Lavender pancakes

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A nice idea in the summer is to add a few lavender flowers to the pancakes. These are lavender and pecan and cherry. Pick the petal bits from three or four lavender heads and sprinkle onto the pancakes as the underside is cooking. Serve with strawberries and maple syrup.

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The ’10-minute prep’ style of cooking. Chocolate cherry frangipane pudding

Sometimes I want to eat nice food, but don’t want to spend all evening cooking it. There are so many chefs jumping on this bandwagon and writing cookbooks that work beautifully if you are a professional, but for mere mortals, are impossible.

I thought I’d write some recipes that can be made with very little effort and time, and that are pretty good even if you get the cooking a bit wrong!

We had this today. Chocolate cherry frangipane pudding. Frangipane is light, almondy cake. It is easy to make if you have a food processor. You can keep all of the ingredients in the cupboard.
[By the way, I have the oldest, most broken Kenwood food processor. Only one speed works. It mixes and it grates and is perfect for most jobs. If you haven’t got a food processor, put a cheap one, with a grater disk, on your Christmas list.

Chocolate cherry frangipane pudding. Serves 4-6
135g ground almonds
135g caster sugar
135g butter
3 eggs
[This is 45g of the main three ingredients to each egg if you want to scale it up or down].

50g dark chocolate…one you like the taste of.
1 can of cherry fruit pie filling.
I use Princes black cherry fruit filling. Or, just some fruit…pears, bananas, raspberries, blackberries, etc.

If you have a food processor, blend the almonds, sugar, butter, eggs and chocolate together until the chocolate is chopped to tiny pieces. If you don’t have a food processor, mix the almonds, sugar and butter, beat in the eggs one at a time. Melt the chocolate in a bowl in the microwave (for 30 seconds at a time, then stir, then 30 s microwave, then stir…until melted). Mix the chocolate into the almond mixture.

Spread the fruit into an ovenproof dish…I use a square Pyrex glass dish about 20 x 20 cm. Spoon the almond-chocolate mux over the top and spread to cover the fruit.

Bake in a preheated oven at 160C Fan (170C not fan) or Gas 3-4 for 25-30 minutes. It is done when the frangipane top has risen and feels spongy when you press it (it springs back a bit when you poke it). It is quite a moist pudding, so it doesn’t matter if it is underdone or overdone…it will just be a bit crispier or a bit more gooey…play around until you like the end result!

Serve warm with pouring cream (or the squirting stuff from a can…we’re not pudding snobs). And chocolate sauce if you can be bothered (see below). And extra fruit if you like.

Easy chocolate sauce
100ml double cream…about half a mug full
30-50g chocolate…any will do.
Syrup to taste…golden syrup or maple syrup.

Heat the cream in a jug in the microwave. Be careful not to let it boil (messy).
Add the chocolate and stir until melted. Add a bit at a time if you’re not sure how chocolatey you like it. Add syrup if you want it sweeter.

This is what we had tonight…

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…and this it what it can look like if you make a bit more effort with presentation…

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Either way, it is quick to make, bakes while you eat your main course, is pretty failsafe  and tastes delicious.

Posted in 10-minute prep, chocolate, fruit, puddings | 1 Comment

Macaroons are not as hard as Mary and Paul make out!

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Raspberry macaroons with raspberry buttercream, or with violet buttercream. According to The Great British Bake-Off baking icons that are Mary Berry and Paul Hollywood, mastery of macaroons means that you have the Magic Touch of Bakery. I don’t agree…but you do have to find a good recipe and stick to it TO THE LETTER!

I used this recipe by Ruth Clemens on the Pink Whisk site. She was on the first series of GBBO, so knows what she is talking about. If I’m lucky, a link to this recipe will appear. Just FOLLOW IT EXACTLY.

http://www.thepinkwhisk.co.uk/2011/01/how-to-make-perfect-macaroons.html

So, here are my recipe modifications.

Raspberry macaroons with raspberry or violet buttercream.

125g ground almonds
165g icing sugar
10g raspberry powder (see below)

110g egg white
75g caster sugar

Pink gel colour (see below)
Purple gel colour
Violet flavour (see below)
Follow the Pink Whisk recipe. I have detailed any additions below.

1) You should grind the almonds, icing sugar and raspberry powder together in the food processor.

2) Then, when it comes to colour, use pink gel colour (see below) to get quite a bright pink mix.

3)When you make your buttercream, 100g icing sugar and 50g butter should be enough for the batch. Mix in a couple of teaspoons of raspberry powder (to taste). Take half of the batch of buttercream and colour it purple and add 5 drops of violet flavour (see below).

Top tip: if you are not sure how much to mix your mixture, look at The Macaron Diaries – Macaronnage. It shows you what you are looking for in terms of consistency…and that the mixture is more robust than you think.

Unusual supplies and ingredients.
Here are details of unusual ingredients and where I get them. These are not product advertisements or endorsements as such. They are just what I used. Search around online for equivalents if you like.

Raspberry powder and violet flavour. Both can be obtained here:

http://www.gracefruit.com/food-grade-items/

Make sure you get food grade.

Gel colours. Most supermarkets have them. I used these:

http://www.lakeland.co.uk/17519/8-Icing-Colours

My next challenge is to make some more, take some pictures en route and post some additional making tips.

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Why don’t you start a blog?

So, they all said “Why don’t you start a recipe blog?“… Because I’m apparently some sort of Superwoman who is Made of Magic and can do all of this stuff.

Well, I’m not…made of magic, that is, although it is a running joke…but:
1) I need somewhere to file interesting craft and recipe ideas and
2) I don’t have to post stuff every day and
3) if I can manage to work out how to work a blog thingy at my age, that has got to be good for my cortical function, or something, and
4) a lot of these ideas have to fit into my busy life, so if I can get them to work, so can you and
5) I’ve got a lot of photos of food…

Some things I post will be food that is really quick and easy. Some things will be surprisingly easy, in fact. Hopefully, it will give you ideas.

Now I just have to work out how to post photos of macaroons…

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