Friday, 31 December 2010

Wednesday, 29 December 2010

Ugly Pie

It’s not the prettiest of pies, nor the most daring.  But it’s leftover pie and therefore the best type of pie.


125gr plain flour
55gr cold butter
Pinch of salt
Ice cold water

White Sauce
50gr butter
50gr plain flour
350ml milk (or a combination of stock and milk)
Tiny pinch of salt

Leftover roast meat, cooked vegetables, stuffing
We had a three bird roast for Christmas so ours had duck, turkey and guinea fowl plus a sweet orange and calvados stuffing.  I added in a small carrot and a small parsnip too

1, Make the pastry but cutting the cold butter into the flour and salt and rubbing it in until it resembles breadcrumbs.
2, Tablespoon at a time, add in the ice cold water until it forms a dough that can be pressed together.
3, Wrap in clingfilm and pop it in the fridge for at least 30 minutes
4, Make the white sauce whilst the pastry is chilling.  Melt the butter in a saucepan and stir in the flour.  Turn the heat down and stir together until it forms a smooth paste.  Continue heating it for another 2-3 minutes and then add in about 100ml of milk.  Stir this in well to loosen the paste and add in the rest of the milk.  Whisk until all the lumps have gone and the sauce is simmering.  Continue stirring until it has thickened and then remove from the heat.
5, To assemble your pie, roll out the chilled pastry and place it into an 8inch loose bottomed tin.  Add in your filling and re roll the pastry scraps to form a lid.
6, Bake in a preheated oven (180o/c) for 30 minutes or until golden and the filling is hot. 

Monday, 27 December 2010

Merry Christmas

So, which ones are mine?

I hope everyone has had an amazing Christmas!  I had a lovely one! Me and Jim went to my parents for breakfast along with my two sisters, their respective partners and my little three year old nephew.  My brother and his lovely girlfriend are currently away travelling so I hope they had a brilliant day too!

Here are some of the lovely things from friends and family

 Beautiful bird necklace from my sister

 Lovely, lovely cookbook and make your own felt zombie books from two great friends

 Tagine from the twins! Thanks guys!

 A huge star cake tin from my sister! She brings the best things back from Germany!

Guess what I’ll be doing between now and when I go back to work… Release the inner geek…

And I picked these up in the sales today.  They are technically tree decorations and had little stickers on them that said ‘gift box’, I thought they were really sweet! But I’ll be filling them with fudge etc for birthday presents!

Hope everyone is having a relaxing break!

Come on... At least one of these has to be mine...!

Friday, 24 December 2010

Orange Spice Popcorn

My last minute sweet treats for my lovely colleagues!

Yesterday was the last day at the office and it was one mad rush to get everything that needed doing, done.  We then headed off for our Christmas meal

I whipped these bags up the night before.  I normally make gingerbread as my ‘Christmas cards’ and I had made gingerbread dough but just didn’t have the energy to do all the rolling and cutting and baking required! Popcorn takes literal about half the time and effort!

I used about 2 cups of popcorn per person.  It’s easier to work in American cups than grams for this.  If your popping this yourself, 20 cups of popcorn is about 1 and a ¼ cups of popping corn. 

I popped my own by getting the biggest saucepan I own, adding just enough sunflower oil to cover the bottom and putting it over a high heat.  When the oil is hot, be careful, add enough popping corn to coat the bottom of the pan.  Put the lid on and wait.  As soon as it starts popping, turn it down to medium.  I have a ceramic hob so it retains heat for a stupidly long time.  I turn my hob off but if you’re using gas or have electric rings, just turn it down.  Shake the pan firmly when holding both the lid and the pan handle.  This will stop it burning.  When the popping has stopped, take it off the heat and tip out the popcorn.  Repeat until you have desired amount!

Per bag (2 cups of popcorn)
1 tbsp light brown sugar, 1/4tsp mixed spice, pinch of grated orange zest.

Tie up the bags and shake them really well.  It’s a good thing to tell the people you’re distributing it to, to also shake the bag before eating! 

Wednesday, 22 December 2010

We Should Cocoa: Date and Chocolate Clafoutis

This month is being hosted by Choclette from Chocolate Log Blog and the magic ingredient is dates.  See last month’s heavenly caramel entries here, sorry about the missing photo!

This morning I woke up in a bad mood.  I expected to wake up with tinnitus and a mild hangover.  But I didn’t. You see, I was supposed to be seeing these lovely fellows play at The O2 last night.  But the gig got postponed because of a fire on one of the tour buses.  I’m glad no one got hurt but they didn’t have time to set it up for the show.  So, it looks like next year will be the year we finally get to see Kings of Leon. 

So I’ve decided to kill a few birds with one stone.  My love for clafoutis as a breakfast item, chocolate because I’m a grown up and can eat chocolate for breakfast today and my entry for We Should Cocoa! Maybe today won’t be such a bad day afterall, as long as no one starts singing ‘your bus is on fiiiiiii-eeeeeerrrrrr’…

40gr self raising flour
3tbsp ground almonds
Small handful of dark chocolate chips
2tbsp light brown soft sugar or golden caster sugar
90ml milk
1 egg
Tiny pinch of salt
Six giant medjool dates

1, Preheat oven to 180o/c
2, Brush two small ovenproof dishes with a little vegetable oil and dust lightly with some flour.  Tap out the excess and leave to one side.
3, In a mixing bowl, sift in the dry ingredients and then whisk in the wet stuff and chocolate chips.  Whisk gently until you have a smooth batter. 
4, Slit your medjool dates length way and tease out the stones.  Split them in half and put 6 pieces into each little dish.
5, Divide the clafoutis batter into each dish and pop in the preheated oven for about 20-25minutes until puffed up and slightly golden. 
6, Remove from the oven and let them cool for 10 minutes or so (or you may end up with a slightly burnt tongue from a scorching hot date, I speak from experience)
7, Dust with icing sugar before serving

Monday, 20 December 2010


I (well we) made these when my best friend came over to make the cookie tree.  She managed to swipe an entire tub full to take home!

For our baking day I wanted to make things go as smoothly as possible so I premade the dough before hand and left it to chill. 

Adapted from here
Makes 48

250gr plain flour
250gr salted butter, chilled and chopped into even small chunks
200gr cream cheese
75gr sour cream
Pinch of salt

Whatever you fancy! We made ours with brown sugar, cinnamon and chopped nuts.  I’ve made some previously with jam but you can use chocolate, poppy seeds, marzipan etc

1, Add all the dough ingredients together in a food processor and blend until all combined evenly.
2, Scrape the dough out and divide into four.  Smoosh the pieces of dough into rough discs and wrap separately in cling film.  Refrigerate for at least 2 hours, although its fine to make the day before.
3, When the dough has been chilled for the minimum of two hours, lightly flour your work surface and roll out each disc of dough so it is roughly a 8inch circle.
4, Spread on your filling.  Don’t make this too thick.  We just sprinkled ours with a little brown sugar, cinnamon and chopped nuts and pressed it into the dough slightly so it was easy to roll.
5, Cut the dough circle into 12 segments, like a pizza and then roll them up from the fat end first so they look like tiny croissants. 
6, Place them carefully on a lined baking sheet and refrigerate for 30 minutes or so. 
7, Preheat your oven to 180o/c and bake the rugelach for 20 minutes or until golden brown.  Leave to cool slightly before eating.  

Wednesday, 15 December 2010

Sourdough Starter: New Beginnings

I recently documented the death of my first attempt at a sourdough starter.  After all the lovely encouragement to start again and tips from some lovely blogs, I’m pleased to announce that Starter II is all good.  

The new starter... Lovely clean jar

Day One
Sunday 28th November
It’s alive! Finally! Took three times as long as the first one but then I don’t want to compare it to the first one in case it goes down the same route.  Must have been a particularly un-yeasty day in the cottage kitchen.  I am worried about keeping it at a constant temperature, our heating is on a timer and the cottage is one drafty place to live… Hmm…

Day Two
Monday 29th November
Nice amount of bubbles on the top.  Again not as ferocious as the other one but it does look healthier! Disposed of half and whilst I had a dinner of parsnip soup, she had a lovely warm flour/water soup! Yummy!

Day Three
Tuesday 30th November
Has separated a bit with floury poop at the bottom, brown water in the middle and floating bubbly flour on top.  Google confirms the brown water is called hooch.  Hooch.  Remember Hooch?
Just me?
Ok, disposed of half again and fed it, but still looking a bit watery.  Thickened up the feed a bit. 

Day Four
Wednesday 1st December
Looking good.  The thickened feed has worked better than I thought it would be.  I think giving it what it looks like it needs rather than what the recipe calls for has worked a lot better.  And on the plus side Jim has been stuck at home all week because of the snow so the heating is on constantly! (Jim + office in London + snow + South Eastern Rail = bad times) The poor boy has cabin fever!

Day Five
Thursday 2nd December
Nothing much to report.  Looking good though and smelling good, well as far as starters smell! Starter II has sought refuge in the airing cupboard, toasty but not too warm. 

Day Six
Friday 3rd December
I don’t think I have ever been this committed to something out of the ordinary that I have to do on a daily basis.  I’m generally terrible with stuff like this.  Like those ridiculous fiddly teeth whitening trays and gels the dentist gave me.  “Oh yes Hanna! You can pop them in for 30 minutes before your lunch at work!” Like heck I’m actually going to do that…

Day Seven
Saturday 4th December
So technically it’s done and ready for use and can go for weekly feeds and can be kept in the fridge.  I am dubious about this.  I emptied her out, chucked her jar through the dishwasher and sterilised it again with hot water.  I don’t want any nasties grown on/in her.  And into the fridge she goes.  Right… Now I just need to find some time to use it!

It’s 15th December and she has been having weekly feeds and it looks ok.  I’m intrigued by sourdough chocolate cake but will have to wait until after Christmas to do some bread baking!

Saturday, 11 December 2010

Gingerbread Cookie Tree

What’s one of my favourite things about Christmas?

Hanging out with the besty and making stuff in the kitchen!

We made a cookie tree with gingerbread and these cute cutters! We doubled up the gingerbread recipe and had some left over to make gingerbread men!  It's a bit crappy looking but I blame it on a couple of bottles of this...

Wednesday, 8 December 2010

Wholemeal Bagels

Out of the saucepan into the oven!

I think the best bagel I ever ate was in New York in 2004.  It was gorgeous, untoasted, unscooped, and filled with goats cheese.  It was light, fluffy and had this beautiful ever so slight crunch as you bit into it.  It was good, but has ruined practically every bagel I have eaten since then. 

Much like the cakey/fudgy argument with brownies, there is a certain divide between bagel fans.  My best friend Jewish and she certainly has her view on bagels too! So I’m trying to recreate that 2004 bagel.  Trying to make a bagel that my best friend will enjoy.  Trying to create something that doesn’t resemble those insipid ones you can buy at the supermarket. 

I didn’t even come close to recreating it but I don’t think I’ll ever buy bagels again… These were really yummy! Well I might buy them from here, they are gorgeous from that little shop!

350gr strong wholemeal bread flour
Two big pinches of salt
1 egg (separated)
250ml warm water (possibly more)
1 packet of easy blend yeast (7grams)

1, Separate the egg and gently whisk the white with a fork or a mini whisk until it has broken down a bit
2, Sift the flour into a large bowl with the yeast and the salt.
3, Make a well in the centre and pour in the egg yolk, half of the egg white (whisking it a bit makes it easy to divide) and 150ml or so of the water.
4, Stir together adding more water until it forms a soft dough, you might need to add more water
5,Turn the dough out onto a floured surface and knead for 6-10minutes until the dough is soft and pliable and in no way sticky. 
6, Put the dough into a greased bowl and cover with clingfilm.  Leave in a warm place for an hour or until the dough has doubled in size.
7, When it has doubled, turn back out onto the floured worktop and knock it back (hit it with your fist, it’s satisfying) and give it another quick knead but only for a couple of minutes.
8, Divide the dough into between 8 or 10 pieces and form flattened balls with your hands.  Leave them to relax for 5 minutes and then poke a hole through them with your finger or a wooden spoon handle.  I would recommend making the holes quite big, they will need a further rise before cooking and my bagel holes got a bit small in the process!
9, Place them on a lined baking tray, cover lightly with some greased cling film or a damp tea towel and put back in the warm place for 20-30 minutes
10, Turn on your oven to 220o/c and in the meantime put your biggest saucepan on the hob and fill with boiling water.  Reduce the heat so the water is just simmering. 
11, Pop two of the bagels at a time into the saucepan and gently simmer them for a minute and a half, turning after 45 seconds.  Remove them and give them a quick shake.  I did think by hooking them out with chopsticks.  Place them on a lined baking tray
12, When all the bagels have been briefly boiled, take the remaining half of the egg white and whisk into it 2 tsp of cold water and a tiny pinch of salt.   Brush this over the bagels.  At this point you can sprinkle over caraway seeds, poppy seeds, sesame seeds or cumin seeds (my personal favourite! I buy them in bulk at the local Indian cash and carry!)
13, Bake them for 20-30minutes or until they are golden brown.
14, Transfer them to a cooling rack.  I think they are best eaten warm, fresh out the oven! 

Sunday, 5 December 2010

Snow Day Bake Off: Vegan Mulled Wine Chocolate Cupcakes

Snow has good points and bad points

Good points are the prettiness…
The view out of the front bedroom window.  Please ignore the ugly tower building that is Springfield Tower, it's due for demolition!

...which wear out within 15 minutes because you realise you can’t get the car out, you have to walk to work in wellies, you know your boss is away, in Oslo, so he will have no sympathy for you, the compacted snow will turn to ‘Death Ice’ TM, you know you’ll be caught in the crossfire of some gangland snowball fight at the bottom of the road and your cat will be screeching at you to go out and when you finally open the door she will just look at you like you are a nutter and go and find somewhere warm to sleep


I intended to post this on Wednesday, when I made them but I appear to have lost the function to hit the big orange‘PUBLISH POST’ button.  So this has been floating in the ether of the internet.

They’re vegan for a reason.  Frankly, it was too dark, nasty, cold and icy to go out and get eggs but they are surprisingly tasty, probably better for you as well! I was impressed at how well they turned out.  I’ve even ordered a vegan baking book off Amazon but I’m assuming that is snowed in too so have no idea when it will be hitting my doormat.  

I'm linking this post to Julia at A Slice of Cherry Pie and her excellent idea of having a Snow Day Bake Off

Adapted from here

175gr plain flour
20gr cocoa powder
3/4 tsp baking powder
150gr caster sugar
50ml sunflower oil
75ml mulled wine
100ml water
2 tsp white wine vinegar
1/2 tsp vanilla extract
1/4 tsp mixed spice

1, Preheat oven to 180o/c (gas mark 4)
2, Sift all the dry ingredients together in large bowl
3, Add the rest of the ingredients and  gently fold together until smooth
4, Divide the batter between 10-12 cupcake cases in a cupcake tin and bake for 20-25 minutes
5, Leave to cool for 10 minutes before removing from tin and transferring to wire cooling  rack to cool completely
6, Dredge in icing sugar and eat (with coffee whilst shaking your fist at the snow)