Friday, 23 April 2010

Smashed Potatoes (not mashed ! )

This is a quick post as I've just flown in from a drama rehearsal and am dying to go to bed. These are a recipe my Mum always cooks when we want baked potatoes, but they feel a bit stodgy and heavy. So here is a quick easy and pretty yummy recipe.
Just boil...

...smash and drizzle...

...then bake ! Easy !

It's literally that easy ! And the recipe is so adapatable. You can add cheese, or smash in pesto, or sun dried tomato paste, anything ! The top goes nicely crunchy, and crispy, but it's pretty low fat, the only fat being a small drizzling of olive oil.

Smashed Potatoes
Medium size potatoes
Olive oil
Cracked sea salt
Seasonings of ANY variety (for this one I used mexican spices sprinkled on top)

1. Boil potatoes until they are very tender and skin is peeling a wee bit.
2. Place potatoes in a roasting tin then, take a fork, and smash away at the top surface of the potato, but try and keep the bottom in tact.
3. Add salt, and your choice of seasonings, (ie smash in pesto, sprinkle spices, sprinkle cheese)
4. Drizzle with olive oil (except if you've added cheese ! )
5. Bake for about 20 minutes on 200 degrees, or until the potatoes are deep gold.

Wednesday, 21 April 2010

Toad in the Hole

Toad in the hole has long been a go to recipe for me. It is the ultimate comfort food. I make it when I am angry, or sad, or heartbroken, or just wanting a reason to fill warm and cosy! For anyone who doesn't know it, it's like one massive yorkshire pudding, with sausages intersperced between the golden batter. It's a simple recipe with tasty results.

The key to great toad in the hole is to make sure the oil is EXTREMELY hot before adding the batter, it should sizzle and bubble, and to not bake it too big a dish, otherwise the centre will sink and be somewhat stodgy.

Chuck all the ingredients, except sausages !, into a blender.

And blitz it until it's all one smooth mixture, with a wee bit of foam.

Be generous with the oil, and put into a piping oven until it's surface looks like it's rippling.

Lightly fry the sausages until they're pale (this applies for veggie sausages, I'm not sure what the terminology is for meat sausages) but basically cook them til they're not raw in the middle, but not cooked on the outside, microwave meat ones perhaps ?

Can you see the batter bubbling as it hits the oil ? That's what you want, the oil to be that hot.

This recipe never fails to satisfy me, I love it like an old friend. Each bite is like a little trip into nostalgia, reminding me of when I was little, it was all I would eat for a while ! It's served with roast vegetable and tomato gravy, broccoli, carrots, and smashed potatoes, I'll post that recipe next. This recipe is so adaptable, and can have any sausages you desire in it.

Veggie Toad In The Hole
Serves 4
100g plain flour
1 egg
300ml equal mixture milk and water
8 sausages
Sunflower oil

1. Preheat the oven to 200 degrees.
2. Combine the flour, egg, milk and water to a blender.
3. Blend until smooth, thick batter.
4. Pour a generous amount of oil into a baking dish, so that it covers all of the bottom. Put the dish into the oven until the surface of the oil appears to ripple.
5. Lightly cook the sausages until they are cooked through, but the outsides are not browned.
6. When the oil is ready, line up the sausages in the dish, then pour in the batter.
7. Cook for 35-40 minutes until the batter is golden, crisp and well risen.
8. Plate up, and drown in a good gravy  !

Monday, 19 April 2010

British Bakewell Tartlets

With a haude of new zealanders nesting in my house, I've been trying to think of classic English desserts, any suggestions much appreciated. Britain is famous for it's teatime treats and classic desserts, and one of my all time favourties, is Bakewell Tart. I really like the taste of almond in any recipes, and Bakewell Tart is an almondy delight. I'd made it once before, and it didn't really work. The sponge went stodgy and I completely lost the glorious alomd taste. So I was somewhat apprehensive about making it again, but I figured I'd take the jump, and try Smitten Kitchen's version. Deb always presents her recipes with such beautiful recipes, and I have bookmarked so many that you'll undoubtedly see on here soon. So I have faith in her, and this is my version of her Bakewell Tart.

Having chopped whole almonds, add them to flour, and grind.

To produce this almondy flour ??

Deb's recipe says add butter, orange and extract first, THEN the eggs. I added all at once, and forgot the orange. Don't think it hindered it too much...This makes a pale lumpyish batter, leave in the fridge for at least 3 hours.

I made my own pastry for the crust, it's a Delia Smith recipe, and I'll post it along with the Bakewell recipe.

My pastry is no pageant winner, I'll give you that ! But it's made with love, so I can forgive it's imperfections.
The best part. Always add a thick layer of jam ! Drop on teaspoons of the almond mixture and bake.
This recipe is superb. It creates a light, airy, alomd sponge, that has a slight crunch on the top. The sticky raspberry jam compliments it so well, and the flakyness of Delia's pastry just topped it off. Her recipe is slightly different, and may seem daunting, but I promise you it's so worth it! It's always my fail safe recipe, sadly this time it failed me. Bakewell is a favourite dessert of mine, and although I made tartlets instead of one big one, I think nothing was lost. This recipe is good all year round, in summer with a raspberry conserve, or my preference, in winter, with warm vanilla custard. Or break the mould, and have the custard in the summer !

Bakewell Tart
1 cup coarsely chopped almonds, blanched if you can find them
1 1/2 tablespoons all purpose flour
2/3 cup sugar
9 tablespoons) unsalted butter, at room temperature
1 large egg
1 large egg white
1/2 teaspoon almond extract
1 1/2 teaspoons orange zest (I forgot this!)
1/3 cup raspberry jam
Slivered or sliced almonds, for garnish (optional)

110g butter
175g plain flour
splosh of almond extract

1.Finely grind almonds and flour in processor. Mix in sugar, then butter, extract and orange zest. Blend until smooth. Mix in egg and egg white. Transfer filling to medium bowl. Cover and chill at least 3 hours.
2. Pastry: First of all remove a pack of butter from the fridge, weigh out 4 oz (110 g), then wrap it in a piece of foil and return it to the freezer or freezing compartment of the fridge for 30-45 minutes.
3. Sift the flour into a large bowl
4. Then, using the coarse side of a grater placed in the bowl over the flour, grate the butter, dipping the edge of the butter on to the flour several times to make it easier to grate. What you will end up with is a large pile of grated butter sitting in the middle of the flour.
5. Take a palette knife and start to distribute the gratings into the flour – don't use your hands yet, just keep trying to coat all the pieces of fat with flour.
6. Now sprinkle 2 tablespoons of cold water and extract all over, continue to use the palette knife to bring the whole thing together, and finish off using your hands. The pastry should easily come away from the edges of the bowl, add more water if needed
7. Roll out and press into tartlet pans.
8. Position rack in center of oven and preheat to 100 degrees. Blind back the pastry for about 20 minutes until it's pale gold and starting to go crunchy.
9. Turn up oven to 180 degrees. Spread jam over base of tartlets. Dollop the almond filling all over, then spread it carefully with an offset spatula. If using slivered or sliced almonds as garnish, sprinkle them over the top now. Bake tart until golden and tester inserted into center of filling comes out clean, about 45 minutes. Cool tart in pan on rack.

Friday, 16 April 2010

Snickers Filled Peanut Butter Cookies

It was a funny thing when Jaime from Good Eats 'n Sweet Treats recommened I try her "Not Your Typical Peanut Butter Cookies" after seeing my last sweet filled cookies. Okay, that doesn't sound so funny, but I had bookmarked the recipe as one I had to make, and was actually my next planned venture.

I had very high hopes for this recipe, it contains my two of my favourite things in the world. Peanut butter and snickers chocolate bars. I LOVE LOVE LOVE LOVE peanut butter. It is sheer bliss in a jar, and I am warning you now that there will be many many more posts containing peanut butter. My love has grown so much that my Mum now hides the peanut butter from me, as I often eat in from the jar with a spoon ! But I found it for this post, (it was hidden one of our large saucepans). Better luck next time Mum ! And snickers, well that's just a wonderful extension of peanut butter; with peanut filled caramel, topping peanutty nougat, covered in chocolate. Drool. So yes, anything combining these I was more than happy to oblige the challenge to make them. And yes, I did almost eat the whole batch....

Egg, sugar, butter and peanut butter

Beaten together...

...and after manually having to beat in the flour, baking soda, baking powder and salt. Electric whisk died again :(
I didn't have bitesize ones, so I chopped up the big ones. This recipe only needed two bars, and maybe, possibly, a couple of them missed the dough, and may have landed in my mouth !
Followed the same process as in the post before, just rolling dough around the snickers, covering it all.
...and after impatiently waiting.
Look at that snickery yummy centre !
I loved how some of them sneakily oozed some of that peanut caramel.

As you know, I was very much looking forward to this recipe, and it never less is a very good one. But it wasn't as good as hoped. 1, I think overcooked the cookies slightly, making them more crunchy than chewy, and 2, the taste of peanut butter in the cookies was almost completely lost ! I was gutted ! I think someone needs to create peanut butter extract, so I can really get my fix. Anyway, they are a good cookies, and next time I shall cook them less, and add a wee bit more salt, to get more of a contrast with the sweet centre. Also, I think I'll try a variation Jaime recommends using Reece's Peanut Butter Cups in replace of the Snickers, because they are my greatest love.

Snickers Filled Peanut Butter Cookies
1/2 cup white sugar
1/2 cup packed brown sugar
1/2 cup butter, softened
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1/2 cup peanut butter
1 egg
1 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon baking powder
1/4 teaspoon salt
2 normal Snickers bars

Preheat oven to 175 degrees
1. Beat together sugar, butter, vanilla and egg
2. Add flour, baking soda, baking powder and salt
3. Cut up the Snickers bars into thick slices
4. Take a teaspoon of mixture, and place a slice of Snickers in the middle
5. Roll into a ball, covering all of the Snickers
6. Bake for roughly 15 minutes, or until pale gold, set and just beggining to crack

Tuesday, 13 April 2010

Caramel filled chocolate cookies

I had a GCSE drama rehearsal today at my house. Yes, even though it's holiday, we still have to work. So I was expecting 4 stressed, thespian teenagers. Joy. What'd you make to bring a smile back to their worried faces? Caramel filled chocolate cookies.

I'd been eyeing up this recipe for a while now, and just needed an excuse to make it. I found it on Ruth's Kitchen Experiments and I chose to follow her recipe, omitting the pecans. What was most appealing for me was the use of rolos. I haven't had a rolo since I was about 5 ! and so was very excited to enjoy they're caramelly pleasures again.
Mixing the dry ingredients

Beaten the butter (I don't like margarine, to chemically) and the two types of sugar, I used an electric whisk

Adding egg and vanilla
Combining the dry ingredients, I thought I could be lazy and use the electric whisk for this part too...

...but sadly the whisk couldn't handle the cookie dough, I ended up mixing it with a spoon. Damm! Must use my limited muscle power.

But if you have to use muscle power, reward yourself. Take the spoon...

...and lick it to death !

The recipe calls for a tbsp spoon of dough, but this made HUGE cookies, so I recommend using a dessert spoon/small handful, it sill covers the rolo fine. Remember the less cookie, the more caramelly goodness.

Wrap the dough around the rolo, making sure there's no gaps.

Put them in the oven, and let the magic of cooking happen. ( Don't over cook! it'll ruin the chewy-ness of the cookies, only cook til slightly cracked on the top )

Look at that delightful rolo centre, and the surrounding chewy brownie cookie ! YUMMERS !

My two sizes of cookie, the left being my adapted smaller size, and the daddy on the right being the tablespoon. I did drizzle them in white chocolate too, but forgot to take photos.

I haven't had cookies in a while, but these were lovely. The rolo in the centre melted creating a gooey consistency and as you bite into it, it pulls and goes stringy, alla mozezerella, and I loved it ! Felt all childish and playful. The cookie mixture, though simple is gooooooooooood. Like I said before, it's almost brownie like, and sticks to the roof of your mouth in a wonderfully dense way. But that density contrasts the crunchy exterior. Mmmmm. My fellow thespians hoovered them down and demanded I made more. Divas !

Caramel Filled Chocolate Cookies
2 1/2 cups flour
3/4 cup unsweetened cocoa
1 tsp baking soda
1 cup sugar
1 cup firmly packed brown sugar
1 cup butter, softened
2 tsp vanilla
2 eggs
40-48 Rolos, unwrapped (from 13-oz. pkg.)
4 oz. melted white chocolate

1. Preheat oven to 375˚F/190˚C
2. In medium bowl, combine flour, cocoa and baking soda; mix well.
3. In large bowl, combine 1 cup sugar, brown sugar and margarine; beat until light and fluffy. Add vanilla and eggs; beat well. Add flour mixture; blend well. If necessary, cover with plastic wrap; refrigerate 30 minutes for easier handling.
4. For each cookie, with floured hands, shape about 1 dessert spoon/small handful dough around 1 rolo, covering completely.
5. Bake for 7 to 10 minutes or until set and slightly cracked. Cool 2 minutes; remove from cookie sheets. Cool on wire rack for 15 minutes or until completely cooled.
6. Melt the white chocolate in small bowl in microwave, stirring constantly until smooth. Drizzle over cookies.

Sunday, 11 April 2010

First post, but an old oaty friend.

So this is my first entry on this wee blog of mine. I've wanted to start a blog for ages, as I've been following so many others for so long, but never found a suitable time to start. I'm currently in the easter holidays, and with spare time a plenty, why not start now. I shall write about baking, and recipes I attempt, and their outcomes. I'm a vegetarian too, so apologies, but this shall be a meat free zone. Also, we have family from New Zealand living with my family now, making 3, 5. So with more food needed, and more mouths to feed, it means less leftover food for me, which is probably a good thing !

I've chosen an old storecupboard friend of mine for this first blog. Simple, easy, but blissfully pleasing. Flapjack. I often think it is underrated as a food, too many coffee shops making tastless stodge, and branding it as 'healthy'. But good flapjack should be golden, chewy and mouthwateringly buttery. Also our New Zealand companiards thought flapjack was a form of pancake ! So my making it is somewhat justified, it's a form of education! as well as an excuse to fill the house with glorious oaty smells. 

I should be revising Roosevelt's New Deal, but instead I...

weighed out the ingredients and chucked the sugar, syrup and butter in a saucepan...

and melted them together on a medium heat. Look at all that glorious glossy syrup ! (DO NOT BOIL! )

Then the best part, add the oats (and any other dry ingredients) and watch as they clutch to the syrup.

I'd happily eat this as it is ! (and I did ! )

Press it into a deep pan, I used a roasting pan, not conventional, but works all the same.

And after throwing into a roaring oven, and producing heavenly smells, pull out to find this ! (apologies, mine was a bit overdone, the apricots caught a bit )

Cut up, plate up and serve, and don't expect them to stick about either. Look how bendy and soft they are, the sign of a good flapjack. They are chewy, but in a suprisingly delicate way.

Spring has definately sprung here, hence the daffodills and I think flapjack is a completely unseasonal recipe, good all year round. This recipe is undoubtedly the easiest recipe I know, it involves 1 pan and 1 baking tray, so no mess and no fuss, just pleasure. This recipe is the basic one, you can add ANYTHING to it, I added chopped apricots to mine, but you could any dried fruits, or nuts, or chocolate; wherever the mood takes you. I think next time I shall try white chocolate and macadamia nuts, always a good combo I find.

12oz porridge oats
8oz butter or magarine
5oz golden syrup
5oz light muscavado sugar

  1. Weigh out the ingredients and preheat an oven at 200 degrees.

  2. Melt together to sugar, syrup and butter to form a glossy syrup, but do not boil.

  3. Add the oats and any other dry ingredients to the syrup, and stir til the oats are suitably coated.

  4. Line a deep baking tray with greaseproof paper and press the mixture in with a wooden spoon.

  5. Put into a hot oven for 15-20 minutes, depending on how soft you want them.

  6. Take out and leave to cool.

  7. Cut up, plate up, or just eat straight from the pan with a knife and fork !