Thursday, 30 October 2014

Cheddar and broccoli pastry Autumn lunch bites

Given that I have a little more time this week, I was seeking out another lunch to make (now that I've eaten the scones - yum). I read some other food blogs and one I particularly like is called This blog is often full of amazing looking food with great photography and so I found this delicious looking recipe for 'extra flakey broccoli cheddar soup mini pies' and delicious they are. they do take a while to make for lunch but they are worth it.

2 tbsps olive oil
1 small onion, chopped finely
1 garlic clove grated
1/4 cup of flour (as it is an American blog, the measurements are in cups)
1 can coconut milk
1-2 cups diced mushrooms
1-2 cups vegetable stock
1 tsp cayenne pepper
1/2 tsp nutmeg
1/4 tsp salt and pepper
2-3 cups grated cheddar
2 boxes of ready made puff pastry
1 egg beaten (for the pastry)

I actually halved this recipe and it made 8 mini pies.

1. heat the oil in a large saucepan on a medium heat. add the garlic and onion and cook for 5minutes until tender. Whisk in the flour and cook for 3minutes more (it should clump here). Gradually whisk in the milk until smooth.
2. Add in one cup of stock, the broccoli, mushrooms, cayenne, nutmeg, salt and pepper. Bring to a boil then reduce the heat and simmer for 15minutes. then puree in a blender and return to the pan.
3. Whisk in the cheese until it has melted and simmer for 10 minutes until thick. Take off the heat and put the mix into a bowl in the fridge to cool and set for 30minutes.

4. Preheat the oven to 190C and lay out the pastry and cut out rounds using a cookie cutter (use the biggest one). Brush egg wash around the edge of half of each circle.

5. Spoon the mixture into the middle of the pastry (1 tablespoon in each) and fold in half (it oozed when I did this but that is fine). Use a fork to seal the edges by pressing down. Put the pies on baking parchment, brush with egg wash and cut in air holes on each pasty, then sprinkle more cheese on top. bake for 20-25minutes.

These are delicious warm and still great the next day after a minute in the microwave. Thank you #halfbakedharvest ! A lovely warn lunch for the turning weather.

I'm very excited today as T and I are going to Brussels this evening! He so kindly bot the trip for my 30th. Naturally the first thing I sought out was the food...Belgium chocolate, waffles, moules frites... until the next post with all things Belgian..

Wednesday, 29 October 2014

The ultimate devil's food cakes

Of course I will make a pudding to go with the scones for lunch! A while ago, I made a,ot of recipes form the 'Bea's of Bloomsbury' cookbook and it has been laying on the shelf unloved so I have brought it back for the 'ultimate devil's food cake'. The picture in the book looks so rich and tempting, and being halloween soon it seemed as good a time as any to make devil's food...

Personally, I think the chocolate recipe in the Hummingbird is a bit nicer but once fridged and adorned with chocolate fudge icing, these are pretty moreish too.

cake (makes 24) -
120g cocoa powder
250ml boiling water
125ml milk
1 1/2 tsp vanilla extract
125g unsalted butter, softened
275g dark brown soft sugar
165g caster sugar
125ml vegetable oil
4 eggs
280g plain flour
1 1.4 tsp bicarbonate of soda

1. Preheat the oven to 170C. Put the cocoa powder in a bowl and add the boiling water. Mix well then stir in the milk and vanilla extract.
2. With an electric mixer, beat the butter and two sugars until fluffy. Slowly pour in the oil and mix then add the eggs one at a time and combine thoroughly.
3. In another bowl, combine the flour and bicarbonate of soda and sift twice. Add a third of this mixture to the bowl and mix. The add one third of the egg mix and combine. repeat until all is added.
4. Spoon into cupcake cases. (These don't rise so how far you fill them is what you get.) bake for about 20minutes.

Fudge icing:
250ml whipping cream
65g golden syrup
350g dark chocolate
1 tsp vanilla extract
75g unsalted butter, cubes and chilled

1. Bring the cream and golden syrup to boil in a saucepan. Put the chocolate broken up into a large bowl and pour the cream mix on top. Leave for 1 minute.
2. Whisk in the middle of the bowl, slowly combining the ingredients. Keep mixing until it turns glossy, this will take a few minutes.
3. Add the vanilla extract and butter and mix until combined.
4. Leave to firm up before adding it to the cooled cakes.

Pure indulgence.
#chocolate #beasofbloomsbury #fudgeicing #indulgence

Tuesday, 28 October 2014

Where have they all scone?

Half term! Ok its not quite a week off as i am a teacher and not a child but it does give me time to catch up on paperwork and... bake. I have been meaning to try making scones for a while now. I used to have a lady that brought the most delicious homemade scones into work with thick fresh cream and sweet strawberry jam and I have been wanting to try them ever since. I don't tend to eat a lot of scones, other than when in Devon / Cornwall - it just has to be done. However, they are a good sweet indulgence for a lunch. Following my theme, the recipe I found was in the British bake Off book and so simple to make.

250g self raising flour
good pinch of salt
50g catser sugar
50g unsalted butter, chilled and diced
1 egg
100ml milk (the recipe said buttermilk but that just isn't an item I have in my fridge everyday)
jam to serve

1. Preheat the oven to 180C. Sift the flour, salt and sugar into a mixing bowl. rub in the butter with your fimers until you make crumbs.
2. beat the egg into the milk until combined. Stir into the crumbs using a palette knife. The dough should be rough looking and not too wet. Mix it in gently and not too much.
3. Tip the dough onto a floured surface and and knead for a few seconds to make it whole. Press it out with your fingers to 3cm thick. I did mine thinner as I wanted delicate scones. Cut out rounds with a cutter.
4. Put the rounds onto a baking sheet on a tray. Dust lightly with flour then bake for 12minutes.
5. Put some on a wire rack to cool.  Cut them in half and spread jam inside. Eat some warm from the oven - by far the best!

A lovely treat.

Monday, 27 October 2014

A classic queen's sponge

A victoria sponge is a classic and has become a birthday tradition in our house. However, I thought a half birthday counted as, why wait a year for such a nice cake. I usually use a different recipe but in the spirit of working through the British Bake Off cook book I thought I would try a new one. Their recipe used whipped cream and real strawberries so I changed this and went for my traditional filling of butter cream and strawberry jam.

180g unsalted butter
180g caster sugar
3 eggs
3/4 tsp vanilla extract
180g self raising flour
1 tbsp warn tap water

Butter icing:
250g icing sugar
80g softened butter
1/2 tsp vanilla extract

Strawberry jam

1. Preheat the oven to 180C. Beat the butter in a bowl / electric mixer until creamy. Gradually beat in the sugar one tbsp at a time. 
2. Beta the eggs and vanilla with a fork and gradually add to the butter mixture. 
3. Sift the flour into the mixture and fold in with a spoon. Add the warm water and continue to fold in. 
4. Split the mixture into two tins by spreading evenly and bake for 20-25minutes. 
5. leave to cool for a minute them put on a wire rack out of its tin. 
6. The butter icing - mix the butter, vanilla and icing sugar until it has formed a paste. Spread onto one half of the sponge with a palette knife. Spread the other half with jam. Put the jam half on top of the icing half and voila. 

Now to put the kettle on...

Sunday, 26 October 2014

All things swedish

I went for a very delicious lunch last Sunday, sadly no photos but I was very impressed. We went to 'Caravan' in Kings cross which is a restaurant rather than a cafe and very popular. We had a 45minute wait but it was worth it. You know a good menu when you can't decide what to have. The options were modern and slightly unusual, such as coconut bread and fennel toast. We all opted for the smoked salmon with pea shoots, fennel toast and goats cheese puree. The toast was disappointingly small and more like two crisps but the salmon was good quality and it was all presented in a work of art. Surprisingly filling for what looked delicate and well, reserved on the plate. Pudding was one of the best salted caramel hot chocolates I have had. The perfect amount of chocolate, salt and caramel. Winning combination. I will definitely be going back to try the weekly changing menu. The interior was very modern is the large ex-grain store open space. Adorned with low hung lights, plentiful small wooden tables and grey sofa style chairs lining the edge. There was a loud and lively atmosphere due to  the large crowd and louder music.

It was a food filled weekend as the previous day we had gone to 'Begeriet', a quaint swedish bakery near leicester square. We had sought this out, otherwise we may have missed it. It only sat 8 people, all of whom seemed to be swedish (a good sign for a swedish bakery). The sweet treats were all traditional bakes, including lots of cinnamon, princessa cake and all sorts of mini delights. We shared a cinnamon swirl and a muffin filled with caramel and topped with a harder caramel and almond combo. I am a massive fan of cinnamon and these were both a success. The caramel inside the muffin was a good surprise. It wasn't the usual muffin sponge but more a sweet bread / muffin texture. I assume this is traditional but wither way, it was a good twist.

Atmosphere: 8  Interior: 8 (simple but a welcoming, warm,  homely feel)   Lunch:  0 (only pudding)   Pudding:  10 (lots of choice)   Drinks other than coffee: 7

Saturday, 18 October 2014

Yawning banana tart tatin

What a week. I haven't been this tired in ages. It was parents evening at school and, as the teacher not the parent, it made for a long week. It is always interesting to see how the children are at home as well as at school and some uncanny resemblances of children to parents.

This weeks creation was an untraditional banana tart tatin. I have never made a traditional apple one but went in at the deep end. This is a Gordon Ramsey masterpiece and turned out to be quite nice. He does some very good dinner recipes but this is the third of the dessert options I have tried after his fridge cake (a winner at Christmas) and a classic pineapple upside down cake. The real reason for trying this dish was the excuse of using my new oven proof frying pans. They are amazing! One was filled with dessert and the other fried then roasted some salmon - the best I have ever tasted.

Ingredients: -
50g Softened butter
1 vanilla pod (I actually cheated and used vanilla essence)
1/2 tsp balck peppercorns
100g caster sugar
6 ripe bananas
320g ready rolled shop[ bought puff pastry (had to be done)

The actions: -
1. Preheat the oven to 200C.
2. Spread butter across the base of an oven proof frying pan. Add the vanilla pod / essence and a third of the peppercorns. Then sprinkle with sugar.
3. Peel and cut the bananas into 3-4cm thick slices (this is quite tricky to get them the same as they are curved). Put them cut side down on the frying pan. Sprinkle over another third of the peppercorns.
4. Unroll the cheats pastry and cut out a circle larger than the pan. Drape the pastry over the top and tuck in the edges using the back of a spoon. Pierce the pastry a few times (this is important to get the steam out so you don't end up with a soggy bottom).

5. Place the pan over a medium-high heat for 3-4 minutes, shaking gently, then transfer to the oven for 30-35 minutes until the pastry is golden brown. Leave to cool for 10 minutes then turn out onto a plate sprinkle with the last of the peppercorns.

As lightly strange banana texture but somehow it works and is sweet, sticky and has a variety of textures. Delicious with warm custard. please note that this should be eaten on the day and not left for the next day (banana disaster).

Now for some TV zombying in my tired state. I am into gossip girl at the moment, completely trashy for a 30 year old to be watching but I love it. Weekends usually mean a new food discovery so I'm excited to try a new London restaurant tomorrow (new to me anyway) with some uni friends... photos pending...

Sunday, 12 October 2014

Wind free Gail's in the sun

Yesterday was a lovely sunny day in London. London trips always mean a new food adventure. I really love London, I have been there so many times from early childhood and even lived there, yet I still find new undiscovered places. Yesterday we walked around the Marylebone area. I have come to know and love Marylebone HIgh Street but this time we went a bit further west. We walked down a delightful street called Chiltern Street. Full of boutiques and so clean and fresh. We where heading towards Connaught Street but along the way pasted this cafe and good not resist temptation. It was called 'Gail's Bakery'. I had seen it's sister branch in Soho before and had been tempted but this one is much bigger and has a great selected of pastries. It was hard to choose but I went for the crustless quiche (served with salad) and a custard and blueberry brioche. This is one of the best desserts I have had in a while. T went for the turkey and red cabbage coleslaw sandwich and a cinnamon bun which had just the right amount of cinnamon and looked more like a muffin but with bun consistency.

There was a good amount of seating inside and a couple of tables outside. Perfect for enjoying the last of the years sun. They had some quirky halloween options available including some very real looking monster fingers with stained almond nails! There were some healthy option salads in little tubs and whole loaves of bread to take home.

Atmosphere: 7  Interior: 8 (Very simple with some artwork for sale)   Lunch:  10 (Great options, including cooked breakfasts)   Pudding:  10 (A lot of option)   Drinks other than coffee: 7

Saturday, 11 October 2014

Weekend cranberry, pecan, walnut and chocolate florentines

The weekend! Time to share the weekends (ok last weekends, it's been a long week) bake. In light of the end of the Great British Bake off, what better way to celebrate than to make Mary's florentines (any excuse for a bake really). who would have thought Nancy would be the winner competing against the 5 star baker award winner (that's close to a Michelin star surely when it's form Mary and Paul).

These florentines were so easy to make and delicious. i almost got smug and thought I would whip up a quick batch mid-week. This was a mistake. All good bakes need a bit of love and care and I, in my haste, over cooked the mixture so when it came out of the other there was a big spread of goo and a lot of holes for the chocolate layer to seep through. Still quite tasty though. Well here goes how to make them...

Food stuff: -
50g unsalted butter
50g demarera sugar
50g golden syrup
50g plain flour
25g dried cranberries
50g of two types of nut (The books says blanched almonds and walnut pieces but I used pecans and walnuts in the first batch and pecans and peanuts in the second batch. Both were good.)
200g dark chocolate (I actually used milk chocolate and there was a good bit left over)

How to:-
1. Preheat the oven to 180C. Put the butter, sugar and syrup in a pan and gently heat (don't let it bubble!)
2. Remove form the heat. Add the flour, cranberries and nuts (chopped roughly). Stir well.
3. On baking paper lined trays, add a teaspoon of mixture. Leave a good space around them for them to spread.
4. Bake for 8-10 minutes, until golden brown. Leave to cool them put on a wire rack with a palette knife.
5. When cool, melt the chocolate in a bowl over hot water. Smooth over with a palette knife onto the back of the florentines. When they are slightly cooled, use a fork to make a zig-zag pattern on the chocolate.

So good. I would quite like to try adapting these for a Christmas version with some spices.

Sunday, 5 October 2014

Warm wholesome munch for a thought

Well yesterday wasn't quite full of the joys of Autumn, it p**d it down! We had planned a day in London though and that is what we did. I finally got some proper cycling shoes for my bike so I will no longer haver to wear my trainers and freeze through the Winter. Last year I was wearing 3 pairs of socks and plastic bags in my trainers just to keep the rain out but my tootsies were still not toasties.

In the spirit of a wet and chilly day (not freezing but I haven't adapted from Summertime yet), it meant a wholesome warm lunch. We were in Covent garden and thought of going to Timberyard again but given the queue, thought not. I remembered this quaint little vegetarian cafe that I had been to years ago and wondered if it was still as good. The first time, I came across it with a friend at the right place at the right time and this time it served such a purpose again. 'Food for Thought' is a very small cafe serving only vegetarian food. They offer a few different options, such as lentil stew (in the picture), celeriac soup, sweet potato stew or quiche all served with the option of pasta or salad. Not too badly priced as well. It was just what we needed to be warmed up. While it looked quite small, it was surprisingly filling. Who new what these little lentils were capable of. It consisted of aubergine, mushroom, black and green olives and lentils in, what I assume was veg stock. We did have to share a table as they were limited. One table was even placed in an area with a low ceiling so people were crouched on the floor! All in the name of good food fun. I would definitely recommend this place. A hidden gem.

As it isn't a coffee shop, I can't give it my usual ranking but I will do this out of ten:
Food taste:  9   Food options:  7   Drink options:  2 (we had complimentary water but there was a smoothie or tea)  Ambience:  8 (a crowd pleaser) Interior: 7 (it didn't try hard but I liked the rusticness and the black and white photography for sale).

Saturday, 4 October 2014

Sweet sticky honey cinnamon buns

Well I think it's fair to say that Autumn is full here. I had forgotten what rain was until the skies opened today. Autumn s such a lovely season with the leaves changing and the fresh feeling air. Definitiely a time for more wholesome feeling food. What better way t start the season than with cinnamon buns. I have made these before following a Hummingbird recipe, which I think where more consistently sticky throughout. These however are very good, particularly the middle ones in the batch with soft edges. I am still gaining some cooking wisdom form the British Bake Off book so here goes...

Ingredients: -

450g strong white flour
7g fast action dried yeast (one sachet)
7g sea salt
1 egg
2 tbsp set honey
250ml warm milk

Yummy stocky filling:
140g set honey
140g unslated butter, softened
1tbsp ground cinnamon
140g light brown muscovado sugar
50ml whipping cream
100g walnut pieces

1. To make the dough: put the yeast, flour and salt in a mixing bowl and mix. make a well in the centre and pour in the egg, honey and milk (pre combined). Mix and knead for 10 minutes, This is a sticky mixture.
2. Cover with cling film and leave to rise until it doubles. About 1 1/2 hours.
3. Punch the dough down and roll it out on a floured surface until it is 25 x 30 cm and spread evenly. Cover with cling film until it is needed.
4. Put the honey, cinnamon and sugar in a mixing bowl and beat until fluffy with a wooden spoon. Stir in enough cream until sloppy. 
5. Spread a third of the mixture onto the dough and scatter half the nuts evenly.
6. Roll up along the long side and pinch at the edges so it stays shut. Cut into 12 even sized pieces. 
7. Put the rest of the mixture into a prepared tin (butter then grease proof paper). Put the swirls inside. Cover and leave to rise again for 45 minutes. Preheat the oven to 180C in this time.

8. Bake in the oven, uncovered for 25 minutes and leave to cool. 
9. remove form the tin and scatter the rest of the nuts. 

These where deliciously sticky from where the cinnamon goo had been but the tops of the buns where a little drier. Generally a good flavour but make sure there is enough cinnamon mixture in the middle before you roll and try to get a tight roll so more flavour comes out. These take a while to make but there are long enough gaps to have a cup of tea... or go for a walk as I did. They were good still warm but also still nice two days later with a 20 second burst in the microwave to keep them toasty. Not bad bake off.