Thursday, 31 October 2013

Red Velvet Cake

I can't take any of the credit for this beautiful cake, apart from the photograph. It was Steve's birthday yesterday and I didn't find the time to make a cake. Thankfully my mum-in-law was more organised than me. The recipe for the cake comes from 
Rachel Allen's 'Bake' cookbook, and the vanilla frosting comes from 'The Hummingbird Bakery' Cookbook. Find both links for the recipes below. The cake was extremely light and moist with gorgeous vanilla flavours. A special cake for all occasions. 

Friday, 25 October 2013

Salad with chorizo, sunblush tomatoes and mozzarella

Sometimes I get a bit fed up of sandwiches at lunch time and yesterday fancied something a little different. This is superb and very quick to put together. I bought a bag of salad and a pot of mixed tomatoes and mozzarella. Mixed together with a few slices of fried chorizo, lunch was a lot more interesting. It would make a really nice starter too. Leave the chorizo out for a veggie version. 

Tuesday, 22 October 2013

Slow roast belly of pork

I felt I was in a Gastropub tonight with this meal. I bought the belly of pork yesterday at Marks and Spencer and just followed the cooking instructions on the packet. I did turn the heat up for the last 20 minutes just to make sure the skin became crispy, and I didn't cook it for the full 2½ hours. More like 2 hours. It is incredibly tasty, probably due to the fat content, which let's face it does provide the taste.  I accompanied the pork with creamy mashed potato and savoy cabbage, with an apple sauce. The apples haven't made it into chutney yet.

Sunday, 20 October 2013

Apple tarte tartin

My mums apple trees have had a huge crop of apples this year. I'm going to give chutney a try this week with the latest bag. I made this tarte a couple of weeks ago to take to a friends house for lunch, the recipe came from the Waitrose magazine. I don't have a frying pan that I can put in the oven, (note to self for Christmas) so I used a cake tin with a loose bottom. As a result I lost a lot of the lovely caramel sauce, as it seeped out the bottom of the tin.

Serves 6
150g caster sugar
1 cinnamon sticks
1 star anise
50g butter, cubed
4-6 apples, peeled, cored and each cut into 6 wedges
215g sheet rolled puff pastry

Preheat the oven to 200ºC. Put the cinnamon, star anise and 5 tbsp water in a 20cm ovenproof frying pan and set over a low heat. Once the sugar has dissolved turn the heat to high and bubble for about 5 mins, until you have an amber caramel. Take off and remove and discard the spices, then melt the butter into the caramel, stirring.
Arrange the apples in the pan so all the caramel is covered. Cut a 20cm circle of puff pastry and prick all over with a fork. Carefully place the pastry over the apples, tucking it in at the edges.
Bake for 20 mins until the pastry is puffed up and golden.
Remove the tarte from the oven, let it stand for 5 minutes, before inverting onto a
plate.Serve at once with cream.

A very nice accompaniment would be,

250ml double cream
100g icing sugar
1 vanilla pod, seeds scraped out.

Monday, 14 October 2013

Delia Smiths Frying pan pizza

The cupboards were well and truly empty tonight and it was a struggle to pull anything together given the shortage of ingredients present. Then I remembered a frying pan pizza recipe from Delia's Vegetarian Collection.  It's takes minutes to make and although not a traditional pizza dough, I really enjoyed it once it was topped with various bits from the fridge.

For the base:
225g self raising flour
½ tsp salt
2 tbsp of olive oil
4 tbsp of water
some fresh herbs (optional) 

Heat the oven to 200ºC
Sift the flour into a bowl along with the salt, some pepper and the herbs. Make a well in the centre and pour in 2 tablespoons of the olive oil, followed by 4 tablespoons of water. Now mix to a soft (though not sticky) dough – you may find that you have to add a further tablespoon or so of water to get the right consistency.
Next, prepare a floured surface, turn the dough out on to it and knead lightly before rolling out to a round to fit the base of a 9-10 inch frying pan. Heat 1 tablespoon of the remaining olive oil in the pan, place the circle of dough in it and cook over a low heat for about 5 minutes, or until the base is lightly browned. Have ready an oiled plate and turn the pizza base out on to it. Then, after heating the remaining olive oil in the pan, slide the pizza back in and cook the reverse side for 5 minutes.
When the base is cooked on both sides spread the top with tomato puree add your desired toppings and cook in the oven for 10 minutes until the cheese is melted and bubbling.

Thursday, 10 October 2013

Nigel Slaters orange and lemon cheesecake

This is a really delicious baked cheesecake from Nigel Slaters 'Kitchen Diaries'. It's not something I would make regularly, the calorie content must be horrific, but it was for a special birthday dinner for my mum's 70th. Make sure the foil is wide enough to cover the sides of the tin you cook it in, as the water can seep in the sides if you're not careful. I think it did with mine a little, but it didn't spoil the lovely fudgy and creamy texture of this tangy cheesecake.   

Serves 12

80g butter
250g digestive biscuits
500g mascarpone cheese
200g cream cheese
150g golden caster sugar
3 eggs
1 egg yolk
An orange
A lemon
150ml double cream
Drop of vanilla extract

Melt the butter in a saucepan. In a food processor blitz the biscuits to a fine powder. Tip the biscuits into the butter and mix.
Set the oven to 140ºC
⅔ of the biscuit mixture into a 20-22cm loose bottomed cake tin. Set it in the freezer to chill. Put the kettle on to boil.
In a mixer, put the mascarpone, cream cheese, caster sugar, eggs and egg yolk and beat until smooth. Grate the orange and lemon zest and add to the mixture along with the cream, juice of the lemon and vanilla extract. Wrap the tin in 2 layers of foil so that water has no chance of seeping in then pour the cheesecake mixture on top of the crumbs. Pour the boiling water into a roasting tin so it comes half way up the cake tin, and then lower the cake tin into the roasting tin filled with boiling water.
Bake for 50 minutes, then switch off the oven and leave in there until cool.
Remove from the tin once cool and press the remaining biscuit crumbs around the side of the cheesecake.
Chill until eating.

Thursday, 3 October 2013

Sticky sausages and balsamic vegetable bake

This very easy and tasty one pan dish is perfect for this time of year when the nights are drawing in. The meal was adapted from a recipe in  the waitrose magazine. For an even easier version buy sausages wrapped in bacon and ready to roast chopped vegetables.

Serves 4
A pack of good quality sausages
A few slices of bacon to wrap around the sausages
A pack of 3 peppers, chopped
2 courgettes, sliced
2 red onions, cut into large chunks
A ciabatta loaf
Balsamic glaze

Heat the oven to 200ºC.
Put the sausages wrapped in bacon and the vegetables in a roasting tray. Season and roast for 25-30 minutes, turning occasionally until cooked through. Cut the ciabatta into slices and add to the tray along with the vegetables and drizzle with the balsamic glaze. Roast for another five minutes until ciabatta is crisp.