26 Jan 2013

Nigel Slater Recipe: A Creamy, Crunchy Fruit Sundae


The wild blackberries are from a stash in my freezer.  A relative picked these last year at a top secret location in Melton Mowbray - I now live in the West Midlands, and I'm not likely any time soon to pass this intelligence to any Meltonians.

Nigel Slater's Simple Suppers was must watch TV and the recipe from his programme can be found on the BBC Food website.

This is an easy, yet delicious dessert recipe and all you have to do is gather the six ingredients together, whisk the cream and layer the ingredients.  I slightly adapted the recipe and used half double cream and half natural yogurt which I mixed together. The base layer is a scoop of vanilla ice cream, followed by a cream, meringue and blackberry layer, a few chopped pistachio nuts are sprinkled over for decoration.

A perfect sundae and I am entering this into Dish of the Month - January 2013. Hosts are Janice at Farmers Girl and Sue at A Little Bit of Heaven on a Plate.



20 Jan 2013

Recipe: Chocolate and Beetroot Cake


Chocolate and Beetroot Cake - I have held back making this, even though it has been a popular bake with food bloggers.  The thoughts of a beetroot splattered kitchen and the earthiness I associate with beetroot had no appeal.

After feeling 'so last year' or is it the 'year before last' I decided Chocolate and Beetroot Cake should appear on the blog. After some research, the recipe in Fiona Cairns book Bake & Decorate appealed, mainly because the cake is made with vegetable oil which gives a light cake.

No grating, no mess. Simply cut the beetroot into chunks (I bought prepacked), place in the food processor and blitz to a puree = no splattered kitchen.

I made the cake in a springform tin because I didn't want to chance spoiling the cake when turning out. Some retained beetroot juice from straining the pureed beetroot is the natural food colouring for the icing. The icing is a lovely pink colour and it doesn't taste of beetroot.

Fiona suggests drizzling and flicking the melted chocolate over the cake to make an abstract design.  Is this something you learn at a chocolate masterclass?

The sensible persons guide is to drizzle the melted chocolate over the cake, I always put the cooled melted chocolate into a ziplock food bag and cut a tiny corner off the base of the bag. Or simply dip a teaspoon into the melted chocolate and drizzle over the cake, not my choice because I make chocolate blobs and somehow my drizzles don't happen.


The cake is a winner, easy to make, deep chocolate flavour, moist, has a tender crumb, cuts well and is a keeper.  This is a large cake and would easily feed twelve people. If you are looking for a cake recipe to feed a crowd then look no further.

I am entering my cake into the January Calendar Cakes Challenge. This is hosted by Dolly Bakes and Laura Loves Cakes - Laura is hosting this month.

13 Jan 2013

Recipe: Baileys and Walnut Cupcakes


I am mostly drawn towards coffee and walnut cupcakes but this time I left out the coffee in the cake batter and used Baileys in the buttercream.  Good idea - yes?

For the cake batter I prefer to use salted butter or to make them lighter substitute some of the butter with margarine.  I always use unsalted butter for my buttercream, it's all down to individual taste, and I know salted this and that is everywhere, but I don't think salted buttercream will ever be for me.

The recipe below is for 9 cupcakes - cupcake cases vary and these are medium size to allow for rising but leaving enough room for the buttercream topping.


This month I need to concentrate on eating less sugar, but failed, I grazed on seeds and then ate a slice of Christmas Cake........

You will need:  9 muffin cases and a muffin tin

For the cupcakes:

175g softened butter
175g caster sugar
175g self raising flour
3 eggs
1 tsp vanilla essence
100g chopped walnuts

For the Icing:

250g softened unsalted butter
500g sieved icing sugar
1 tbsp Baileys
Walnut halves to decorate

1. Preheat the oven to 180oC.
2. Add all the cake ingredients in a bowl and beat for two minutes with an electric mixer. Stir in the walnuts.
3. Spoon the batter into the muffin cases.
4. Bake for 20 minutes or until cooked.  Cool for 10 minutes and then place on a rack to cool.
5. For the icing: beat the icing sugar and butter together until fluffy.  Stir in the Baileys.
6. Pipe or spread the buttercream over the cupcakes and top with walnut halves.
7. Can be frozen decorated.

6 Jan 2013

Recipe: Frozen Berry Parfait


This is such a pretty dessert and one that can be made ahead and frozen. One of my Christmas desserts,  it is totally delicious and fortunately there is still some left in the freezer.  First published in Olive Magazine the recipe can be found on the fabulous BBC GoodFood website.

My 'nodietdiet' is about to start - basically this is simply eating less and more healthily. I now need to cut back on sugary things, I've eaten my body weight in sugar and some of my pending blog posts are Christmas desserts loaded with sugar. My increase in weight over the festive period was nil but I did eat far too much sugar.

Grazing on seeds, dried and fresh fruits at lunchtimes is going to be a priority.  Leaves, leaves and more leaves will be on the menu too. Pomegranates definitely won't get a look in, I used to like them, but every book and every magazine has a recipe using pomegranate seeds.

There are still Christmas goodies in the freezer, the naughty cupboard has all manner of chocolates looking at me and trying to tempt me in.  How can I resist a Thorntons Chocolate Smile? I have carrier bags with part-baked baguettes, Cadbury chocolate fingers and a few bags of posh crisps.  Everyone seems to have bought us sweet indulgences for Christmas and the house is heaving with sugar overload. Looking at all the booty I think it will take us until Valentine's Day to eat the lot.

1 Jan 2013

Philips Saeco Intelia Focus Coffee Machine - Review


A bean to cup coffee machine which will grind coffee beans to deliver an espresso giving varying strengths and quantity.

An excellent crema

 A frothed milk is easily achieved manually - the machine isn't supplied with a jug or thermometer.
My coffee was superior to that typically served on the high street
The machine is easy to use and has an illuminated LED display.  Fill the hopper with your chosen beans or with ground coffee in the ground coffee compartment and away you go.  I buy freshly roasted coffee beans online from a well respected supplier for quality results.  Although there is a ground coffee facility on the machine I believe fresh coffee beans are always best. Milk can be steamed and frothed quickly, by removing the pannarello on the steam wand a textured milk can be achieved suitable for latte art.

A bedding in period is needed to get the optimum espresso but it was worth the wait.  The espresso had a good crema.  I tested the machine using both decaffeinated and caffeinated coffee beans.

Quite a large coffee machine 26 L x 46 D x 35 H approximately.

Pros

1. Excellent coffee shots from quality beans.
2. It is possible to vary strength and quantity to taste.
3. Very quick to operate from switch on.
4. Quick to steam after brewing.
5. Different size cups and mugs can be used.
6. Easy day to day cleaning.
7. Can use ground coffee or beans.
8. Excellent manual foaming when pannarello is removed.
9. The steam wand can be used for hot water to preheat cups or to make other hot drinks.

Cons

1. Auto foaming of milk using pannarello produces quite coarse bubbles.
2. Machine has large footprint.
3. Do not immerse water tank to clean due to ingress of water.
4. Plug supplied not to UK standard.
5. Waste water tray fills quickly.
6. Weekly/monthly cleaning regime required and descaling when indicated.

Note: After using this machine for sometime now and on a daily basis, I can only describe it as fabulous.  It is exceptionally clean and easy to use and it's a good looking coffee machine too.  The espresso is always superb, texturising the milk only gets easier with practice and providing you use the very best quality coffee beans, your coffee will quite possibly be the best you have ever tasted.