Macarons

30 Sep

There is something quite civilised and indulgent about a well made macaron. Unfortunately I haven’t quite reached that stage, and mine are more squiffily rough around the edges than fine-dining in Paris. However, I took the first step and made a first batch. From what I have read since I have come to the conclusion that my egg whites were most likely underbeaten and the mixture undermixed…so here’s to round 2! (good job I’m back in the gym…)

The recipe I chose to use was from this great blog: http://www.howtocookthat.net/public_html/easy-macaron-macaroon-recipe/

…however, it seems that there are two ways to make macarons. One with an italian meringue (involves melting the sugar with water to a specific temperature) and one which doesn’t. This recipe doesn’t, which is actually why I chose it. It sounded easier. The majority of the other recipes which I have read do use the italian meringue method, and I’m wondering whether to go down that route for round two. Hmm…decisions, decisions!

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Chapatis, cupcakes and crème brulees!

22 Sep

This is a bit of a random update as I’ve been away from the blogging scene for a while. I finished my 3rd year medical exams, travelled around Uganda, went home to Holland and have now commenced my penultimate year of medical school (the holidays seem such a distant memory already!). I have only recently managed to get back in the kitchen and I’ve been cooking up some rather random experiments. Here are a couple of little odds and sods which I thought I’d share….

Chapatis

I’ve always wanted to know how to make chapatis as I am a massive fan of a good curry. For some reason I always thought they would require a lot of effort. I am happy to report that this assumption, my friends, is nonsense. Never again will I buy a chapati! It is literally a few handfuls of flour, a pinch of salt, a little cold water and a splash of olive oil to bring it all together to make a dough. You don’t even need to measure things! Knead the dough into a good happy place, and let it sit and rest for 20 minutes, then roll out your pride and joy into little round circles to be thrown into a hot, hot, hot pan and dry fried each side for a minute. Don’t roll them too thinly or they’ll come out crispy, and don’t cook them for too long or they’ll also come out crispy. They’re fantastic with a home made curry, and it’s an easy, easy choice to impress your mates with your impeccable culinary skills (they don’t need to know they took a few minutes to prepare!).

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Creme Brulees

I’ve always wanted to try to make creme brulees. They are my mum’s absolute favourite dessert and the look of disappointment on her face when we go out for dinner and the creme brulee doesn’t crack when she drops her spoon onto it has spurred me on to get busy trying to make them. In my head I thought these would be really tricky to do, especially as everyone I speak to about anything remotely custardy reacts with a sharp intake of breath, and whispers of ‘curdled custard’ haunt my dreams for days. It was a Saturday afternoon and having made a monster of a pavlova for the night before I had a load of yolks to use up. Now, just a quick tip – the creme brulees don’t actually require you to make custard, but if you want to make custard, do it over a low heat, whisking constantly and heating very slowly. As soon as it starts to thicken take it off the heat and whisk like your life depends on it. No longer will you be haunted by ‘curdled’ and ‘custard’, and scrambled egg will be a thing of the past.

The creme brulees are easy (although no, not healthy).

Recipe (makes 2)

225ml double cream
1 vanilla pod
25 grams caster sugar
2 egg yolks
4 tsp brown caster sugar

Preheat your oven to 170 C (fan).

Pour the cream into a pan, and carefully slice the vanilla pod in half (length wise). Scrape out the seeds with the back of the knife and add to the cream; heat gently to simmering for a few minutes, then take of the heat and leave the vanillary goodness to infuse into the cream for about 10-15 minutes.

In a clean glass bowl, beat the egg yolks with the white caster sugar until pale and well mixed. Carefully add the cream mixture to the yolk/sugar mixture, whisking to ensure it is all well mixed.

Pour this mixture into two ovenproof brulee moulds, then put these into a roasting tray. Once your tray is in the shelf of the oven, pour in water until it comes up to around halfway up the sides of the moulds (essentially a bit of a home made bain-marie). Bake these in the oven for 30 minutes.

Once baked, take them out of the oven and allow to cool. If you’re making them for a dinner party, they can sit in the fridge for a few hours until you’re ready to scatter a couple of tsp brown sugar over each and blow torch them (being careful not to burn the sugar). If you haven’t got a blow torch you can stick them under the grill, but I found that the grill didn’t get to the edges of the creme brulee, so the final effect would be better with a blow torch. Serve immediately. They should be crisp and crackable on the top, and lovely silky smooth custard underneath.

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Red Velvet Cupcakes

….a staple of mine. I just added this one because I think it’s pretty. I had a load of black fondant left over so I cut out little hearts from it (this would be a heck of a lot easier with a heart cutter, I assure you), coated them in a little edible glue and then sprinkled some red glitter over them. They make a very cute gift, or a good girly cupcake to enjoy with a cup of tea (read: wine) when someone needs a bit of cheering up :-)

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Quick and easy fruit cake

13 Jun

I lovvvvvve dried fruit, to the extent that Pat has found me once or twice rummaging through the bag of muesli and picking out the raisins. Desperate times my friends. My parents came to stay a few weeks ago, so I thought it was the perfect excuse to whip up something lovely and home made for them. My mum’s an incredible baker, my grandmother owned a bakery, and her mum was apparently one of the best bakers of them all. I suppose baking makes me feel a bit closer to them all somehow. Like it’s in our genes. Well, it’s certainly in my jeans now – I’ve eaten so much cake and ice cream over the last few weeks that I’m slightly concerned that I’m not going to fit into my dress for Ascot next weekend. Hopefully there won’t be more tears as per the boob cake episode. Speaking of boobs, ladies you MUST check out this video – if there was ever an excuse to get checking those beautiful boobies of yours, this video is it! Check it out. Anyway now that I’ve gone off on a tangent, what I meant to say was that fruitcake is one of those traditional cakes that really reminds me of cosy homes and families. Also, Daps doesn’t like it which means there’s more for me. Ha.

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As you’ve probably guessed from the lack of posts exam period is looming…which means increasingly less time to do anything other than sit next to my computer pretending that I’m working, sit on the sofa with a book on my lap hoping that all the information will seep in by osmosis, and then promptly fall asleep. It’s not going well. This cake needed to be whipped up in a flash – no time for all that christmas-cake-soaking-hundreds-of-ingredients-nonsense, the prep was going to be done in under an hour total and then stuck in the oven. My tip is to boil your fruit up the night before and leave it to cool overnight, so you can just bung everything in the oven in the morning the next day. The recipe was taken from a few different recipes as I improved a bit, but this is the closest one I could find from food.com. It’s a wonderfully light, moist cake which is unbelievably satisfying. Yum!

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- 200g brown sugar
– 225ml water
– 375g mixed fruit (plus a bit extra for nibbling)
– 1 tsp bicarb soda
– 275g SR flour
– 1 tsp mixed spice
– 1 egg
– pinch salt

1. Put the water, marg, sugar, bicarb of soda and dried fruit in a pan and bring to the boil; as soon as it’s boiling, take it off the heat and leave it to cool overnight. I may or may not have splashed a fair few glugs of brandy into the mix at this point…ahem.

2. Beat the egg and add to the mixture along with the mixed spice, salt and the flour. Mix well with a spoon.

3. Preheat the oven to 170 (fan) and grease and line a cake tin. Put the mixture into the cake tin and bake for around an hour and a half – check at around 1hr15 to see how it’s getting on as ovens vary. I covered mine with a damp tea towel about half way through cooking just to make sure it wasn’t drying out around the edges, but to be honest I’m not sure it needed it!

4. Leave to cool and enjoy a generous slice with a nice cup of tea and some friends and family.

Chicken Souvlaki with Tzatziki

18 May

Daps and I have been really busy recently it seems. Studying, working…partying……a bit more partying…..ahem.

It has left minimal room for ‘proper’ cooking! Over one of the two days of summer we have had so far (grr), we decided to make the most of it and have a BBQ, but with little time it needed to be something easy.

One of the most relaxing holidays we’ve had was on a trip to Hydra; not far from the Greek coast, this little island has no cars but lots of donkeys, mountains, green, fresh air and……LOTS of souvlaki! I had never had proper souvlaki before I went to Hydra, and since then I’ve been searching for somewhere that makes it just as wonderfully. We thought it might be a nice idea to have a go ourselves. I failed a previous attempt at pita breads (I’ll post up another try soon), and as we were pushed for time we went for some simple wraps from the supermarket which actually worked really well.

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It’s fantastically tasty, really rather healthy and wonderfully nutritious!

 

Recipe – serves 4; make a Greek salad to make it go a little bit further

Marinade

- 2 tbsp olive oil

- 1 tbsp lemon juice

- 2 garlic cloves, minced

- 1 tsp dried oregano

- 1/4 tsp salt

 

Souvlaki

- 2 large chicken breasts

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- Yellow pepper

- Red onion

 

Tzatziki

- Half a container of plain yoghurt

- 1/2 large cucumber, peeled, deseeded and grated

- 2 tbsp olive oil

- 1 tsp white wine vinegar

- 1 clove garlic, minced

- pinch salt

- pinch paprika

 

 Method

  1. Make up your marinade by mixing everything together in a ziplock bag. Chop the chicken and place in the bag with the marinade, and leave for a couple of hours for the flavours to develop.
  2. Chop the pepper and red onion into sizeable chunks, and arrange with the chicken onto 4 wooden skewers (best to soak these for an hour or so before use).
  3. Get your BBQ on, and get them cooking.
  4. Meanwhile, make up the tzatziki. Once you’ve grated your cucumber put it onto a couple of pieces of kitchen towel and squeeze out all of the juice.
  5. Mix the yoghurt, cucumber, white wine vinegar, salt, oil and garlic in a bowl, then sprinkle the paprika on the top.
  6. When the chicken looks as though it’s nearly cooked, stick your wraps onto the BBQ for about 30 seconds each side to warm up.
  7. Take the souvlaki off the skewer and serve atop the warmed wrap along with some tzatziki and green leaves, and a lovely summery Greek salad on the side.

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Bircher Muesli

6 May

I had never heard of Bircher muesli until I met Daps, and now it’s a firm favourite breakfast choice. It’s easily digestible, wonderfully tasty and superduper healthy – what’s not to love? Now that summer finally seems to be arriving, there should be loads of lovely summer fruits available to make this a beauuutiful breakfast!

Recipe (for 1)
1/2 to 1 cup oats (I prefer jumbo oats)
Splash of apple juice
Splash of water
Low fat natural or greek yoghurt (watch the sugar content of ‘low fat’ – sometimes the full fat varieties are actually better for you!)
Teaspoon honey
Half an apple, grated
Load of scrummy berries

1. Place your oats in a bowl and pour over some apple juice and water. You only want enough to be able to see the water at the sides, not so much that you’re drowning the oats! Give it a stir and cover with clingfilm to leave in the fridge overnight – the oats will soak up the juice.

2. Take your oats out and give them a stir, if they look like they need a bit more moisture add a tad more juice.

3. Add your grated apple and stir until well incorporated.

4. Plonk a couple of generous tablespoons of yoghurt onto your oats, sprinkle with your fruit and drizzle with the honey, then sit outside in the sun and feel suitably smug that you’re starting your day off so healthily!

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Still here!

2 May

Hi lovely cookers, readers and eaters…just a note to say I am still here, I’m just a bit bogged down with work and fitness at the moment. I’m debating whether or not to actually start writing about my fitness goals as a way to keep me accountable for what I’m chowing down on, and maybe to inspire me to cook some even healthier bits and bobs, but I’m worried it might be a bit boring for all of you to have to put up with! We’ll see…

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I hope to get writing up some new recipes soon :-) x

Thai Chicken Laksa

24 Apr

DrinksAndNibbles:

Unfortunately I have a rather hectic couple of weeks and am struggling to find the time to cook anything exciting and new, let alone write to you about them (tonight was poached eggs on toast!), so I thought I’d repost this fantastic looking recipe from Homemade With Mess. Laksa is one of Pat’s favourite dishes, so I definitely want to give this one a go soon!

Originally posted on Homemade With Mess:

I think my worst habit with cooking is that I often get a little carried away and the dish ends up taking forever to cook (I think really it’s because I enjoy cooking so much). I do however totally understand that while I love spending the majority of my evening in the kitchen, most people do not. I therefore thought I would go to my beloved Jamie Oliver for some 15 minute inspiration. I have had this book on my shelf for months and months; as when I get a book I like to read it front to back, word for word, and I have a bit of a back log at the minute due to my compulsive cook book buying. Anyway, I broke my rule and had a quick flick through ‘Jamie’s 15 Minute Meals’ and as soon as I came across this Thai Chicken Laksa recipe I knew…

View original 374 more words

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