Friday, 30 December 2011

Preserved Clementines

There is an old saying, which you probably all are familiar, which goes 'When life gives you lemons, make lemonade'.

I'm thinking of starting a new one that says 'When life gives you 1.5kg of clementines, freak out, Google, and ask The Oracle, that is Twitter, what the hell you should do with them'.

One suggestion that really stood out (as well the idea of making a clementine sauce for desserts, which is next on my food hit list) was preserving slices of clementine in sweet sugar syrup (Thanks Susan!). The uses for them then looked endless from my clementine tunnel vision point of view.

Unlike some preserved fruit, theses arent heavy. Or too boozy. Instead they boast a cleansing, freshness that is often sought around this time of year. I love how they glisten, fat from sugar syrup.

You can also preserve them whole, Kavey from Kavey Eats posted a delicious looking photo of her whole ones on Twitter. I suggest you go and have a good look (and good dribble) over her blog.

7-9 small firm clementines
125ml honey
200gr caster sugar
5 cardamom pods
3 cloves
25ml triple sec (optional)

1, Cut the tops and bottoms off the clementines and discard the ends. Cut each clementine into three or four thick slices and set aside.
2, Set a medium sized saucepan over a medium heat and add in the honey and sugar. Add in 250ml of water and stir to dissolve the sugar.
3, When the sugar has dissolved, gently slide in the clementines and increase the heat to a boil. Try not to poke around too much as they are quite fragile. Pop in the cardamom pods, cloves and triple sec.
4, Lower the heat a little and simmer for 10-15minutes.
5, Transfer the saucepan contents into a heatproof jug or bowl, cover tightly and leave to sit overnight
6, Fish out the cloves and cardamom and discard.
7, Decant into sterilised jars and use within three months.

Saturday, 24 December 2011

We Should Cocoa: Chocolate Orange Fudge

This month We Should Cocoa is hosted by Choclette from Chocolate Log Blog and she has picked orange as the special ingredient. You can see the gorgeous apple round up here.

I think I'm with the majority of associating orange and chocolate with that British classic, a Terry's chocolate orange. Not a year goes past where one isnt snuck into the house or attempted to be flogged by the side of a till when you're doing your Christmas shopping. Christmas just wouldn't be Christmas without one. I've loved reading some peoples memories associated with them .And if you can eat and entire one in under 2 mins 39.5 seconds, you should call the world record people.

As well as making marshmallows, I also made some delicious fudge as I had my sugar thermometer out. However, there wasn't much fudge left after "quality control" took place.

Original recipe from here

300ml milk
350gr caster sugar
100gr butter
Finely grated zest and juice of one orange
50gr dark chocolate
Gold and silver sprinkles (optional)

1, Place all the ingredients, except the orange zest, chocolate and sprinkles, in a large heavy based saucepan and place over a medium heat.
2, Stir the ingredients until they have melted, clip on a sugar thermometer and carry on gently stirring until you hit 115o/c
3, Remove from the heat and let it stand for 5 minutes
4, Add in the orange zest and start beating the fudge with a wooden spoon until it looses it's shine and thickens up.
5, Transfer the fudge to an 18cm square tin that has either been lined with cling film or sprayed lightly with cake release. I used a silicone cake tin that I had spritzed very lightly with oil.
6, Smooth the top with a damp spoon and leave to set in a cool place.
7, When your fudge has set, melt the chocolate and spread across the fudge. Sprinkle with some festive sprinkles and cut.

Wednesday, 21 December 2011

Peppermint Marshmallows

There is one thing I always struggle with at Christmas and that is Christmas cards. I'll inevitably forget to post them, forget someone off the list, forget I've left them in the Tardis that is my handbag and find them in February or spend ages trying to pick the right ones (nothing too cute, rude or "funny" - and I use the term "funny" very loosely...)

So for the past 4 years, I've lightened the load and made small bags of edible goodies for those who would inevitably miss out on a card due to my sheer tardiness. I've done popcorn, truffles, gingerbread, biscotti, meringue, macarons and cookies in the past but anything small, that keeps relatively well can be bagged.

Like these marshmallows... 

Recipe from here

120ml cold water
23gr (two pouches) powdered gelatine
160ml golden syrup
440ml caster sugar
1tsp peppermint extract
Red food colouring (optional)
Vegetable oil for greasing
Couple of tablespoons of cornflour and icing sugar mixed together.

1, Put the water and gelatine into the bowl of your stand mixer and leave to sponge while you make your sugar syrup.
2, Add the sugar and golden syrup into a medium sized saucepan and add enough cold water to cover it.
3, Turn the heat to low and stir until the sugar melts.
4, Using a damp pastry brush remove any rogue sugar crystals from the edge of the pan. You don’t want these falling in as it might trigger the syrup to crystallise. Turn the heat up high
5, Bring the syrup to a boil and continue to heat it until it reaches 130o/c on a sugar thermometer. Remove from the heat and leave to one side for a minute.
6, Turn your stand mixer on and slowly pour the hot sugar syrup into the bowl. Be careful not to hit the spinning whisk.
7, Beat until it goes white and fluffy and is the consistency of sticky bubblegum. This can take up a good few minutes and wont look very promising in the beginning but it will fluff up.
8, Whilst its beating, line an 10 inch square cake tin with greaseproof paper. Brush that lightly with vegetable oil and then dust with a little cornflour and icing sugar. Make sure you oil up the sides and dust those also.
9, When the marshmallow is ready, it will take on the consistency of really sticky bubblegum, beat in your peppermint extract, carefully pour it into the prepared tin. At this point you can drip on a couple of drops of red food colouring and swirl with a cocktail stick but that's entirely up to you. Leave for a little bit to dry before sifting a little more icing sugar.
10, Leave in a cool place for a couple of hours until it has set.
11, Cut into small squares and shake in more of the cornflour/icing sugar mixture. These will keep for around 2 weeks in an airtight container, or bag up and gift. I made 8 small bags plus extra for, erm, taste testing...

Sunday, 18 December 2011

Brunch: Blackbirds

Blow out comfort food. It reminds me of Girl Guide camp. But without the authentic grey smokey flavour that everything had because it was cooked over an open fire.

My defence is that I'm building up my winter layer of fat because the weather has finally turned nippy...

(Serves 2)
Four slices of bread
Blackcurrant jam (to taste)
1 egg
50ml milk
Vegetable oil for frying
Icing sugar for dusting

1, Heat a little vegetable oil in a on stick frying pan over a medium heat
2, Make two jam sandwiches and cut in half, diagonally. Dont put too much jam in or they will explode in the pan.
3, Beat the egg and milk together and dip in the half sandwiches
4, Let some of the excess liquid drain off and carefully place them in the pan.
5, Fry until golden brown. Sprinkle with icing sugar, there's no turning back from the calories now. (Also, be careful the jam filling will be really hot)

Tuesday, 13 December 2011

Cranberry Mincemeat

This is a variable drop into the mincemeat ocean, I'm sure you're all inundated with recipes for the stuff. It's based loosely on this Delia recipe, I hate chopped peel! Mine doesn't profess to be anything special. It doesn't have nuts in. But does have cranberries. Erm... That's about it...

But you want to hear something that is special? The smell of this cooking that fills you're house. Christmas in jar format. Plus, I wouldnt reserve this solely for mince pies... I have big plans for my jars of Christmas.

One massive cooking apple, or two small ones, cored and chopped finely.
400gr mixed dried fruit (mainly sultanas, raisins, currants)
100gr dried cranberries
100gr dried cherries
100gr vegetable suet
Zest and juice of a lemon, an orange and a lime
1 and 1/2tsp ground mixed spice
1/2tsp ground allspice
1/2 knob of nutmeg, grated
1/4tsp cinnamon
40ml rum, plus 25ml for adding before sealing the jars.

1, In a large casserole dish, combine everything together and stir well, slap on the lid. Leave this for 12-18 hours in a cool place. Top of a double oven is great, not the fridge though.
2, When you're ready to go, take off the lid, stir it and cover loosely with foil. Put into your cold oven and turn the heat to 120o/c and leave for three hours.
3, After three hours, remove from the oven. Before you lift the lid, imagine that everything inside has actually been to a swanky spa and is currently indulging in a new liquid fat swimming regime. This is normal. Lift the lid and give it a stir. And leave to cool.
4, Pack into sterilised jars and add a little more rum on top.

We also recently did put up some of our Christmas decorations. This is out Christmas monkey.

Luci turns into a robot every time baubles are involved in her life... "Must. Kill. Baubles."

Wednesday, 7 December 2011

Baby Cake

Before another wave of Christmas posts hits, I got the chance to make this as a respite. One of Jim's work colleagues is leaving to have a baby, and as you can see from the cake, they have chosen not to find out the sex!

This is simply a light lemon sponge, doused in lemon syrup and slathered with a crumb coat of lemon buttercream and covered in fondant.


For the cake

250gr soft unsalted butter
250gr golden caster sugar
4 eggs
Grated zest of one unwaxed lemon
250gr self raising flour
1/2tsp baking powder

For the syrup
35ml water
30gr granulated sugar
Juice and zest of a lemon

For the buttercream
115gr soft unsalted butter
265gr icing sugar
1/2tsp good Sicilian lemon extract
Small splash of water


1, To make the cake, beat together the butter and sugar until pale and fluffy. Beat in the eggs, zest and a tablespoon of flour to stop it splitting. When smooth, fold in the rest of the flour and baking powder.
2, Line and grease two seven inch sandwich tins and divide the batter between them. Bake in a preheated oven at 170o/c for 20-25 minutes or until golden brown and an inserted skewer cones out clean. Turn onto wire racks for cooling.
3, While the cake is cooking, prepare the syrup by heating the water and sugar in a small pan until boiling. Simmer for 3-4 minutes and then add in the lemon juice. Simmer for another minute. Leave this to cool.
4, Spoon a couple of tablespoons over the cakes when they are warm and leave until they are cold before icing.
5, Whip together the butter, icing sugar and lemon essence for the icing. Add a small splash of water if it needs it to bring it together and beat until pale and fluffy.
6, Spread the butter cream thickly on one cake and invert the other on top. Ice around and on top of the cake giving you a smooth base for the fondant. It doesn't matter if this looks crappy, bits of cake are showing or there are crumbs in the buttercream, this is the crumb coat for the fondant. Leave this to set for an hour or so.
7, When your ready to fondant it, cut a piece of fondant around 500gr. I alway white fondant and then colour it, unless I need black or brown fondant then it's easier (and cleaner!) to use ready coloured. I used these fab gel colours from Dr. Oetker, which were very kindly sent to me by Citizen Brando.
8, I didn't take step by step photos of the fondant when I did it, but if you find yourself in a sticky fondant situation, YouTube has great videos for showing how to cover a cake. The only tips I can give you is make sure the fondant is well kneaded and soft before use, don't douse it in icing sugar - this will make it dry out and the crack, roll it out bigger than you think you'll need and if it tears, it can be pinched and smoothed together.
9, Roll out a small piece of white fondant and cut circles, flowers or stars and stick them on with a little water either on a paintbrush or your finger.

Sunday, 4 December 2011

Giant Yorkshire Pudding

There are some days when you just feel the urge to make a Yorkshire pudding so big you could use it to either sail the English Channel or put your entire dinner in it and still have room to host a music festival.

Ok, so maybe it's not that big, but measuring in at a hefty 7 inch diameter, we're not playing games with this goliath. Here is how to do it:-

You will need 3 eggs (for two gargantuan Yorkshire puddings) flour and milk.

In a measuring jug, crack in your eggs. This recipe is done on ratios and since eggs vary in weight and size, volume is the key. Measure how many millilitres or fluid ounces, then add the same amount of milk, and the tip the same volume of flour on it too. Transfer to bowl, and whisk until smooth and season to taste. Pop this into the fridge.

Acquire two eight inch sandwich cake tins, and pour in 3tbsp of vegetable oil into each. Put straight into your cold oven and crank the heat up to 230o/c. When the oven has finished preheating, leave them for five minutes so the tins and oil gets very hot. When your ready to go, pour equal amounts of the batter into each tin. It will sizzle and may spit so do be careful.

Bake for 15 minutes until they are evenly golden brown and well risen. Hot pan, hot oven, hot oil is the key for these. Marvel at your handy work. Impress people with your Yorkshire pudding skills.