Monday, 29 August 2011

Chocolate Courgette Brownies

What do you do when you have armfuls of these?

Or you’ve picked one that is the size of your torso?

And you still have thousands growing in the garden?

Announce a culinary war upon them.  Add this recipe for moist and not overly sweet brownies to your arsenal. 

Original recipe from here.

120ml vegetable oil
200gr golden caster sugar
100g dark brown sugar
2tsp vanilla extract
250gr plain flour
50gr cocoa powder
1 ½ tsp baking powder
1tsp salt
250gr courgette, coarsely grated
75gr chopped good dark chocolate

1, Preheat your oven to 180o/c and line a 9 inch square cake tin/baking dish with baking paper.
2, Blend the vegetable oil together with the sugars and the vanilla extract until smooth.
3, Stir in the flour, cocoa powder, baking powder and salt.  The ‘batter’ will be very dry.  Keep your cool.
4, Stir in the courgette and chocolate chunks and stir really well until all the courgette is well covered.  Bear in mind the courgette will release a lot of water when it’s cooking so it looks really dry now but it will leave you will a really nice moist brownie.  Eggs aren’t missing off the ingredient list.  Trust me. 
5, Spoon and spread the brownie mixture evenly in the lined tin and bake for 25 minutes. 
6, Leave to cool in the tin, slice and serve.  

Tuesday, 23 August 2011

Eton Mess Stack Tutorial

It was Jim’s birthday last Monday and, like every other year we have been together, I made him a cake to take to his office to share with his work colleagues.  He has had huge boxes of cupcakes and Tardis to name a couple but this year, time is in short supply.  I haven’t been able to take off a day (or two) to make a big fancy cake at my leisure.  So this year, simple wins. 

The original recipe is from here but I baked mine in three seven inch sandwich tins to create a stack.  And this is how I did it.

Preheat your oven to 160o/c and line and grease three seven inch sandwich tins.  And I mean line and grease by the way.  I didn’t.  Mistake…

Melt 175gr unsalted butter in a small saucepan.

When it’s melted, remove from the heat and add 1tsp of vanilla extract.

 And 5 tablespoons of double cream (about 60ml)

In a large bowl, add 225gr plain flour, 100gr almonds, 1tsp of baking powder and a large pinch of ground sea salt.

Using a whisk, combine to keep it light and airy.
 Set this aside for the moment.

Add 5 eggs and 200gr golden caster sugar…

…into the bowl of your stand mixer.  (Rosie-Rose has a new bow.  Isn’t she a doll!)

And using a whisk attachment, beat for 5 minutes or until the eggs and sugar are thick and creamy. 

While that is beating, pull out your 400gr of strawberries and chop half of them into chunks…

…and the other half into slices.

By now, the eggs and sugar should be thick and creamy. 

Beat in the butter-vanilla-essence-cream combo.

And fold in the flour in batches. 

Fold the chopped strawberries in.

Pour equally into your three (lined and greased) sandwich tins. 

Top with the sliced strawberries and 50gr of meringue.  I made my own meringue but shop bought is fab for this. 

Bake for 30 minutes or until they are golden brown, an inserted knife comes out clean and they are starting to pull away from the edges. 

Turn out the cakes and leave to cool right through. 

Take pictures of one of your cats whilst you’re waiting. (Optional)

When the cakes are cool, whip up a batch of butter cream icing by beating together 115gr soft unsalted butter with 265gr icing sugar and a little splash of vanilla extract. 

Put the most damaged cake at the bottom, I should have greased and lined… And turn it round so that it is at the back of the cake.  Out of sight…

Slap on some butter cream and some strawberry jam.

Add another cake and top that with more butter cream and strawberry jam.

Put the prettiest cake on the top.
Add any leftover strawberries/butter cream/meringue on top.  If you fancy, or simply dust with icing sugar. 

I made meringue letters for the birthday boy too. 

It was gorgeous!  Hooray!

Friday, 19 August 2011

We Should Cocoa: Chocolate and Rose Baumtorte

This my entry for We Should Cocoa hosted by Choclette at Chocolate Log Blog.  Last month’s entries can be seen here for the Apricot challenge.  This month’s challenge is Rose and you can see the rules here.

I couldn’t possibly name a specific cake as my favourite.  But I can definitely name Baumtorte as one of the most calming and therapeutic cakes to make.  It’s also one of the most delicious discoveries I have ever found!  I decided to make one it with a little twist.  And that little twist has made it suitable for We Should Cocoa!

Amazing original recipe from here

225gr unsalted butter
225gr golden caster sugar
6 eggs
225gr plain flour
2tbsp cocoa powder
1tbsp rose water

1, Preheat your grill to medium heat.  Grease a deep 7 inch sandwich tin well and set to one side.
2, Beat together the butter and the sugar until pale and fluffy.
3, Slowly beat in the eggs and then blend in the flour until smooth.
4, Divide the batter into two bowls and beat the cocoa powder into one bowl and the rose water into the other.  You could add a little pink food colouring into the rose flavoured one but I went au natural.
5, Spread a thin layer of either of the cake batters onto the bottom of the tin and place under the grill under golden brown. 
6, Spread a thin layer of the other cake batter onto the top of the ready cooked cake and return to the grill until golden brown.
7, Repeat this process until all the batter has been used or until the cake pan is full.
8, Turn out onto a wire cooling rack and cut into slices when fully cooled.  

Monday, 15 August 2011

Eton Mess Stack

It’s a very special someone’s birthday in the cottage…

Congratulations on reaching the big 2-8 Jim!

Here is his cake.

Tutorial to follow.  Yeah, a tutorial.  With pictures and everything…

Sunday, 14 August 2011

Spicy Crunchy Courgette Pickle

My best friend only found out about my slight mustard addiction two months ago after nearly 11 years of friendship. 

I haven’t let on to her about my obsession with pickled things.  Anything that has been sitting in vinegar for over 6 hours is at risk of being eaten if it is in my eye line. 

The happiness of stumbling upon the recipe here was immense.  The two week wait for this Spicy Courgette Pickle to mature was hard.  Often I heard Jim’s voice saying “Put the jar down… Now…”  I’ve just finished another batch and have a jar left for the next two week wait.  I’m prepared this time.

500gr courgettes
2 shallots
2tbsp salt
500ml cider vinegar
140gr golden caster sugar
1tsp mustard powder
1tsp mustard seeds
1tsp celery seeds (I used celery salt)
½ tsp dried chilli flakes, more if you’re brave
1tsp ground turmeric

1, Slice the courgettes and shallots thinly.  I used my mandolin for this.  Put them in a large bowl and cover with the salt.  Give it a gentle mix so not as to break the courgettes and then pour over ice cold water and chuck in some ice cubes.  Stir again to dissolve the salt and leave to one side for an hour.
2, After the hour is up, drain the courgettes and shallots and spread evenly over some kitchen towels or a clean tea towel to soak up the excess water. 
3, Make the pickling liquid but adding everything to a large pan and bring to the boil, stirring to dissolve the sugar.  Simmer for 3 minutes and then remove from the heat to cool slightly.
4, When the pickling liquid has cooled a little, pop in the courgettes and transfer into two sterilised 500ml jars.  Leave to mature for a couple of weeks before eating.  Totally worth the wait.  

Saturday, 13 August 2011

Toffee Apple Jam

Not only has the parent’s apple crop this year been bountiful, it has also been early.  I’ve been adding them to salads, baking them, chopping them for easy additions to our lunches and chucking them into chutneys.  This one is I had bookmarked for when the seasons started to change but with two carrier bags of apples sitting in my kitchen, they needed to be used up. 

Recipe adapted from here.  Makes two 260gr jars. 

Toffee Sauce
100gr dark brown sugar
4tbsp honey
100gr butter
4tbsp double cream

Apple Jam
600gr Bramley apples, peeled, cored and roughly chopped
100ml water
Juice and zest of one lemon
250gr golden caster sugar

1, Make the toffee sauce by adding the butter, honey and sugar to a small saucepan and stir until the butter has melted and the sugar has dissolved. 
2, Simmer gently for 4-5 minutes, remove from the heat.  Stir in the cream and leave to cool.
3, Put the apples, water, lemon juice and zest into a large saucepan and place over a medium heat.  Cook the apples until they are just starting to go soft. 
4, Add in the sugar and bring to the boil for 5 minutes or until the jam is thick. 
5, Alternate layers of toffee sauce and apple jam in sterilised jars.  

Sunday, 7 August 2011

Nutmeg French Toast with Caramelised Apples in Kentish Honey

A new and happy addition to our brunch repertoire.  French toast, or eggy bread as it used to be called when I was a kid, reminds of Girl Guide camp.  The amount of work we had to do before breakfast was even served guaranteed we were suitably hungry for breakfast.  We used to spend a week chopping wood, keeping fires alight for hot water and food, hiking, doing little crafty bits when we had the time and singing round a fire.  It sounds a bit rubbish but it was good clean fun that is almost impossible to find now.  All the food was cooked over an open fire and it was amazing!

We used to dish up huge platters of eggy bread and devour with sugar or ketchup.  We also used to make an eggy bread based concoction called blackbirds.  Which are blackberry jam sandwiches, dipped in beaten egg with milk, and fried.  I haven’t introduced Jim to these yet.  All in good time. 

Ingredients (for two)

French Toast
2 eggs
60ml milk
Grated nutmeg to taste
Four slices of old white bread, cut in half diagonally

Caramelised Apple Topping
55gr golden caster sugar
25gr butter
2 tbsp milk
Couple of drops of vanilla extract
1tbsp honey (I used a really nice Kentish honey that has a really floral taste)
2 eating apples, cored and cut into eight wedges each.

1, In a medium sized sauce pan, melt the butter and add in the sugar.  Heat this through until it starts to bubble.  Cook this for a couple of minutes and add in the milk.  It should bubble up quite ferociously at this point, so keep on stirring and it will calm down. 
2, Cook this for about 4-5 minutes over a low heat, add in the apples and stir to coat them in the caramel.  Turn the heat down to the lowest setting and prepare your French toast.
3, In a non-stick frying pan heat a couple of tablespoons of vegetable oil over a medium heat.
4, Whisk the egg, milk and nutmeg together until well combined.  Dip the bread into the egg and gently place into the frying pan. 
5, Fry until golden brown and then flip over and cook the other side.  Remove from the pan when the underside is also golden brown.  Keep these warm until serving.
6, Go back to the apples and they should have just started breaking down.  Don’t mush them up too much just gently toss them over in the sauce until they are coated.
7, Serve the French toast topped with the apples and a dusting of icing sugar.