Thursday, 28 April 2016

Wild Garlic Pesto

So my plan of trying to write at least one blog post a month this year seems to be slipping but I’m getting this one in quick before April disappears! And I had better get this out there quick as I partook in a little foraging recently, collecting handfuls of sweetly pungent bundles of wild garlic during a stroll in a local woodland. But wild garlic season doesn’t last forever so you may have to be a little more proactive than myself if you also want to foray into the world of foraging. Wild garlic is a great place to start though, as although this green leafy plant can sometimes be mistaken for lily of the valley (a toxic plant) on looks alone, it is pretty distinctive when it comes to aroma. Just walking through the local woods my nostrils realised I was surrounded by the stuff before I had spotted the garlic plants. So the best way to identify this plant is to pick a leaf and rub it between your fingers to release the smell of garlic, although a slightly more thorough guide on identification can be found here.

Now onto how to use it. There are lots of things you can use wild garlic for, including in salads, omelettes, risottos, savoury muffins, pasta dishes, oils (more on that here)…the options really are endless. I decided to go for the slightly more classic wild garlic pesto, as the garlic leaves make a great substitute for basil. Although I didn’t stop there on the substitutions and instead of pine nuts I used pumpkin seeds in this recipe. This recipe is so simple to whizz up and will keep in the fridge for about a week. I just made a small little tub but quantities can be adjusted depending on how much wild garlic you managed to gather whilst out foraging.



INGREDIENTS

60g wild garlic leaves (it is best to use the small, younger leaves, and try to pick them away from areas of frequent human or animal traffic, but regardless wash thoroughly before use)
30g pumpkin seeds
30g parmesan cheese
80ml good quality olive oil
Salt and pepper to taste
Shred the garlic and then place all of the ingredients into a blender.
Whizz up until a smooth paste is formed.

Store in an air tight container in the fridge and use in any recipe that calls for traditional pesto.

Friday, 25 March 2016

Apple juice and butter milk hot cross buns

I’ve mentioned my family’s competitive spirit and our Good Friday hot cross bun bake off in previous years and have blogged about my tropical and my no added sugar hot cross buns. This year I’m staying on the Emerald Isle for the Easter weekend and not heading home to join the family for all of the food based celebrations but this won’t stop me baking this seasonal treat and competing with myself!! In fact this year the thought of eating my body weight in hot cross buns motivated me through a 10 mile run this morning….I’m definitely entitled to eat at least 2 now, maybe 3!

So I wanted to try a slightly different recipe and turned to one of my favourite bakers Dan Lepard. This recipe was originally posted in the Guardian and you can find the original here. In this recipe cider is used as one of the main liquids but I replaced this with apple juice (an oversight when out shopping and missing the alcohol aisle!!). I then went on to make a couple of further replacements including using buttermilk instead of cream and spelt flour instead of wholemeal but the result was delicious and I think if I had been at home I would have trounced the competition!!



Makes 12

INGREDIENTS
150ml apple juice
7g fast-action yeast
75g spelt flour
150ml buttermilk
2tsp mixed spice
1tsp ground ginger
1tsp cinnamon
2 eggs
50g honey
300g mixed dried fruit
400g white flour
25g cornflour
1 tsp salt

FOR THE CROSS
 150g plain flour
50ml sunflower oil
125ml water

SPICE GLAZE
 25ml water
25ml sugar
1/2tsp mixed spice

 Makes 12

Mix the apple juice (which you want to be at room temperature), yeast and spelt flour in a bowl and set aside. Then place the buttermilk, spices, eggs and honey into a saucepan and place over a low heat, stirring until just warmed. Add the warm buttermilk mixture to the yeast mixture, add the dried fruit and stir until well combined.

Add the flour, cornflour and salt to a large mixing bowl, make a well in the centre and pour in the yeast mixture. Stir together to form quite a sticky dough and set aside for 10 minutes.

After 10 minutes oil a work surface, tip the dough out and knead for about a minute (Dan reckons you only need to knead this for 10 seconds but I normally stretch it to a minute!). Then return the mixture to the bowl, cover with a clean cloth and set aside for an hour until the dough has risen. Then divide the mixture into 12 pieces, shape into balls and put them onto a baking tray lined with non-stick paper. 
Again cover with a cloth and leave to double in size, which should take between 1 and 2 hours (or the time it takes me to run 10 miles!!!)

Finally pre-heat the oven to 220°C/425°F/GM7.

Mix the flour, oil and water for the crosses together and either transfer to a piping bag, or a sandwich bag and then cut the corner of the bag off and then pipe crosses onto the buns before transferring to the oven. Bake for 15-18 minutes until golden in colour.


While the buns are in the oven put the water, sugar and spice into a small saucepan and gently heat until the sugar has melted. When you remove the bins from the oven baste the buns with the sugar syrup and then allow to cool a little before consuming 1 or 2…or 3!!

Sunday, 31 January 2016

Vegan Banana Malt Loaf Recipe

After my long awaited return (well I’m not sure how many people have been waiting with baited breath but if you missed be or not I’m back) to blogging this month, and whilst it is still January I thought I would post another vegan recipe for anyone still on for completing veganuary! This time a sweet treat in the form of a sticky banana malt loaf. After spotting a jar of malt extract in my local greengrocers I had a sudden craving for a malt loaf so added the jar to my basket and when I got home started rooting around for my trusted banana malt loaf recipe. But alas I couldn’t find it! Now it may not be one of my absolute regular turn to bakes but it was a recipe that was always a success. So I turned to the trusted interweb for help instead and came across this recipe over at the Guardian. A few little alterations later, including the addition of banana, as well as a lot of flour as my mixture seemed very wet, and voila I had malt loaf.

The real challenge with this bake is to not tuck in as soon as the loaf is out of the oven. This is a teatime treat that gets better with age so wrap it up in baking parchment and pop in an airtight box and leave it for a few day. If, as me, you only have tinfoil in your cupboard grease this a little before wrapping up your loaf otherwise you will spend considerable amounts of time picking little bits of foil out of your malt loaf before you can actually eat the bloomin thing!


So there’s my second blog for January, I’m on a roll (gives self a premature pat on back…will look back on this at the end of April when I haven’t blogged since January and sigh!!). But until then hope you enjoy this sticky, stodgy and vegan delight.



INGREDIENTS

350g malt syrup
75g treacle
200g dates, roughly chopped
150ml strong black tea (I used earl grey)
50g caster sugar
1 large ripe banana, mashed
200g plain flour
150g rye flour
3 teaspoons baking powder
pinch of salt

Pre-heat the oven to 180°C/350°F/GM4

Put the dates into a heatproof bowl and add the malt extract, treacle, sugar and tea. Allow to sit for about 15 minutes so the fruit can soak up some of the liquid. 

After 15 minutes add the banana and mix together thoroughly before adding the flours, baking powder and salt. Fold all of the ingredients until well combined and transfer to a lined loaf tin. 

Bake for an hour until firm to the touch. And don't panic if the mixture looks like it has sunk a little.

Once the loaf has cooled remove from the tin, wrap it up in greaseproof paper and leave for at least 3 days to allow the loaf to mature and become a little more stodgy and sticky before tucking in!

Sunday, 17 January 2016

Vegan sweet potato and soya burgers

It's been a long time since I lasted posted anything on the blog, a really long time, 9 months in fact. The only excuse I have is life got in the way a bit. In that time I finished a PhD, spent a while job hunting, moved to a foreign country and started a new job (in said foreign country). And although life hasn't stopped me being busy in the kitchen it has got in the way of me actually documenting what it is I have been baking up. I thought the excuse of life getting in the way a bit was a fairly good one but at least one of my blog reading regulars disagreed (you know who you are!!!!). So here I am back blogging and I am going to try a blog a bit more this year, although after my hiatus from the blogging-sphere last year I don't think I could do an awful lot worse....but maybe I shouldn't tempt fate. But for now I'm back blogging and I will try (I promise) to keep this up.

As I make this resolution to blog a little more (although don't hold me to it) lots of other people are trying to stick to their New Years Resolutions. Whilst quite a lot of people are trying to keep off the booze for January other people are giving up meant and Veganuary has become a thing. Whilst I haven't given up my carnivorous ways just yet I thought I would kick off my blogging year with a vegan burger to help those that may be sticking to their resolutions a little more successfully than me!




Serves 2 (very generously)

2 medium sweet potatoes
100g dried soya mince
50ml boiling water
1 teaspoon marmite
1 teaspoon tomato puree
1/2 teaspoon paprika
salt and pepper
50g wholemeal flour
a splash of olive  oil for frying

Begin by pricking the sweet potatoes with a fork and placing in a microwave for 2 minutes on high. After 2 minutes give the potatoes a squeeze and if they still feel firm zap for another minute.

Remove the potatoes from the microwave and set aside to cool.

Place the soy mince in a heatproof bowl, add the hot water, marmite, tomato puree and seasoning, stir so well combined and set aside until the soy mince has absorbed all of the water.

Meanwhile (once the sweet potatoes are cool enough to handle) remove the skin from the potatoes and mash. Then add to the soy mix and mix until fully combined. Then add the flour and use your hands to bring the mixture together. NOTE - I have made these burgers twice and the second time the mixture was much wetter so required a bit more flour, but add more flour as needed until you can shape the mixture into a burger shape.

Divide the mixture in 2 and shape into 2 burgers, either free style of as I like to by squishing the mixture into a large biscuit cutter to create perfect rounds.

Place a frying pan over a medium heat with a splash of oil. Once the oil is hot transfer the burgers to the pan and cook for about 5 minutes on each side until golden in colour.

I ruined the veganess of the dish by serving my burger in bun with gherkins and a big slice of melted cheese on top but without the extra dairy this recipe is perfect for a veganuary treat!

Monday, 30 March 2015

Hot-Cross Bun Cupcakes

Every year I post my hot cross bun recipe as is to be used to bake my entry into my family’s annual, tightly fought, hot-cross bake off challenge. As usual I have been trialling out a number of different recipes so that I am fully prepared for the traditional Good Friday antics. But from a blogging point of view I thought I would try something a little different for an additional Easter based baking adventures. Luckily inspiration came in the form of this cup-cake recipe from BBC Good Food. With a little tweaking (the addition of buttermilk instead of the thickened milk used by GF and a bucket load more spice than suggested) these little cakes with cream cheese icing crosses turned out really well. The subtle (or not so subtle) spiciness of the cakes really was reminiscent of the cousin to these treats…proper hot cross buns! But these make a great Easter substitution especially if you have a little bit of a sweet tooth.



INGREDIENTS

100ml buttermilk
175g butter
175g plain flour
1 ½ tspns baking powder
175g golden caster sugar
2tsp mixed spice
1tsp cinnamon
1tsp ginger
100g ground almonds
3 eggs
Zest ½ orange
100g raisins
1 medium eating apple, grated

FOR THE ICING

Zest ½ orange
50g cream cheese
75g icing sugar
25g softened butter
½ tspn mixed spice
                                                             
Makes approx. 16

Pre-heat the oven to 180°C / GM4 and line a muffin tin with paper cake cases.

Mix the flour, baking powder, spices, sugar and almonds together in a large bowl.

Melt the butter and once cooled slightly towards room temperature beat the eggs, orange zest and buttermilk and butter all together.

Pour the wet ingredients into the dry ingredients and beat together until combined. Then fold in the raisins and grated apple.

Spoon the mixture into the prepared cake tins, distributing the mixture evenly between each of the cupcake cases.

Transfer to the oven and bake for 20 minutes until the cakes are golden and firm to the touch.


Allow the cakes to cool and in the meantime make the icing by beating together the cream cheese, icing sugar, butter, zest and spice. And then pipe the icing across the buns in the traditional cross shape.

Sunday, 25 January 2015

No Churn Birthday Cake Ice Cream

So cake batter ice cream is a thing!! I first discovered this nearly a decade ago now when I was lucky enough to spend a little bit of time in San Francisco. I generally find it very difficult to walk past an ice cream parlour…if encountered I am more than likely to wander inside to sample some delicious frozen treats. This occurred during one sunny San Franciscan day, and on that occasion I was drawn towards the birthday cake ice cream. A base of cake batter ice cream (resembling the uncooked cake mix that clings to the wooden spoon following a baking session and that is always fought over in my household) with sprinkles and chocolate chips smooshed in for that extra ‘birthday’ flare. And so a decade later I decided to make my own, using cake mix powder to add that all important flavour again with the addition of chocolate and sprinkles to save them having to be added later. And this delicious, childhood memory inducing treat, packed with chocolate chips fits perfectly with the Bloggers Scream for Ice Cream theme this month where Kavey Eats have teamed up with Choclette for some chocolaty frozen goodness!



INGREDIENTS

100g egg whites (approx. 3 egg whites)
¼ teaspoon cream of tartar
310g caster sugar
100ml water

Seeds scraped from ½ vanilla pod
300ml double cream
100g vanilla cake mix
50g white choc chips
50g dark choc chips
A generous shake of hundreds and thousands.

A sugar thermometer is also needed

To make the meringue;

Using an electric hand mixer or a stand mixer whisk the egg whites in a large, clean bowl until they start to look foamy. At this point add the cream of tartar and continue to whisk until the egg whites form stiff peaks (this means that if you lift the mixer out of the mixture a peak should form and it won’t collapse or ‘wilt’ once the mixer/whisk is removed….check out Delia for more info!)

Place the sugar and water into a large saucepan and place over a medium heat. Swirl the saucepan gently (but don’t actually stir the mixture) until the sugar is dissolved and the liquid is clear.

Stick your thermometer into the mixture, raise the heat and allow the mixture bubble rapidly until 112 °C / 234 °F is reached.

Remove the sugar syrup from the heat.

Begin beating the egg white mixture again and slowly (and very carefully) begin to pour the sugar syrup into the egg white mix, beating all of the time. Once all of the syrup is added continue to beat the mixture for another 10 minutes or so until the mixture has cooled and has a nice glossy finish.

Stop beating and set to one side (this is the Italian meringue done)

For the birthday cake element;

Scrape the seed from the vanilla pod and transfer to another large bowl along with the cream.

Beat the mixture with an electric hand mix until it has doubled in volume and is light and fluffy. Stir in the cake mixture until fully combined with the cream (if it becomes a little too thick to stir at this point just add a dash of milk to loosen slightly). Then fold in the chocolate chips and hundreds and thousands (or other ice cream type sprinkle).


Add about a third of the cream to the Italian meringue and gently fold in until well combined. Continue adding the rest of the cream to the meringue bit by bit until well combined (but try not to overmix the mixture at the point). Transfer to a freezer proof container and bung in the freezer overnight (there is no need to churn or mix the ice cream once in the freezer).






Sunday, 18 January 2015

Pomegranate pulled aubergines

It’s been a little while since I blogged a savoury recipe. In fact it has just been a while since I blogged about anything, but I thought my first post for the New Year would be a vegetarian treat. Back in October (really shows how far behind I am at blogging) I had a pre-Halloween dinner party and for most of my guests served up a slow cooked ‘pulled’ lamb and pomegranate dish alongside roasted feta and pumpkin. I did, however, have one vegetarian guest so needed a lamb alternative. Pulled pork and lamb are pretty popular at the moment. But is it possible to ‘pull’ a vegetable? Well I decided to give it a go! First of all which vegetable to choose…well it needed to be something pretty sturdy  that could put up with a long slow cooking process. An aubergine seemed the perfect candidate for this and so slow cooked pomegranate ‘pulled’ aubergine was born.

P.S. It is very difficult to take a flattering photo of a sweet and sticky heap of pulled aubergine, but don’t let the below photo put you off trying this recipe, it is delicious honest!!



Serves 2

INGREDIENTS
1 large aubergine
120ml pomegranate juice
½ tablespoon honey
1 lemon
2 cloves garlic
½ teaspoon cinnamon
1 teaspoon dried oregano
½ teaspoon dried cumin
Salt and pepper to season

Start by charring your aubergine. If you have a gas burner place the aubergine over a medium gas flame, turning regularly until all of the skin is blistered and charred. Alternatively place the aubergine under a grill, again turning regularly until the skin is charred all over. This process can take a while but be patient as this produces a great smokey flavour in the aubergine.

Allow the aubergine to cool a little before peeling off the skin. Then pull the aubergine into thick strips.

Place the aubergine strips in an oven proof dish and add the cinnamon, oregano, cumin and salt and pepper and ensure the aubergine is evenly covered in the spice mix.

Mix together the pomegranate juice, honey, zest and juice from the lemon and the crushed garlic. Pour over the aubergine and place in an oven at 180°. Bake for 40 minutes, basting the aubergine half way through the cooking to ensure it is evenly coasted in the sticky pomegranate sauce.

After the cooking the sauce should be thorough reduced and be a thick sticky sauce.


This is great served with pomegranate couscous and roasted pumpkin and feta.