Sunday, 24 April 2011

Pasta Paradise

Hi again!
Today a friend came round to cook for me and I have to say it was a delicious meal i just have to share with you and perfect for summer time which I fast approaching!!!
As the title doesn't give very much away i will explain the recipe; it is crème fraiche with mushrooms, yellow pepper, red onion and pancetta over pasta. therefore the delicious dish is even healthy! especially served with salad.

This is basically a great simple recipe which an be made to adapt to many different things eg. number of people, vegetarians and meat eaters, different vegetables at home whatever really! its also pretty heap and as a teenager growing up now i realise as soon as i move away from home in two or so years i will need lots of recipes like this!!!!
I have to tell you though don't talk too much when cutting mushrooms as I nearly lost a toe due to that.

 As I said earlier the ingredients can be varied on this occasion
- 1 red onion
- 150g of mushrooms
- 1/2 a yellow pepper
- 100ml of crème fraiche
- 100g of diced Pancetta
- Pasta (approx. 80g-100g of dry pasta per person)

First of put you pasta in boiling water and leave to cook.
While it is cooking shop all the vegetables. To avoid tears when cutting the onion cut of end peel and run under cold water for at least 10 seconds!
Then put in a frying pan with a little oil and allow to cook stirring around to make sure all vegetables are evenly cooked (will go a little darker).
Then after 2-3 minutes add in the pancetta and carry on stirring.
then when this and the pasta is ready drain the pasta and transfer it and the vegetables into a pan/wok and add in your crème fraiche. keep this on the heat while stirring it in.
then when fully mixed serve. And there you have a perfect simple summer dish!
Finished Recipe!

...and a quote from the chef: "even a culinary expert such as myself continues to be amazed at this wonderful dish which, coincidentally, i concocted myself. Not only is it a triumph for anyone's taste buds, but the aesthetics of the dish are spectacular - it is so pleasing to the eye that I actually proposed to it once, but the registry office said it wasn't allowed." 

Wednesday, 20 April 2011

Coffee Kisses

Hi, this is another one of my attempts to cook alone! and guess what it was ALMOST PERFECT!
this recipe is super simple however i am still quite proud that i have achieved it by myself. i found it a while a go when searching through recipe books and my mum made them for us. she was delighted when i found it a her grandmother used to make them for her when she was little. when i tried them they were completely delicious.

So i was going for a picnic on Sunday afternoon and i had a couple of hours to spare! so i made these mini treats. my only problem was that i forgot to check the temperature of the oven and i burnt one or two around the edges, however i am glad to say that icing sugar covers up everything!
Also luckily as they are coffee flavoured they are quite dark anyway and i got away with it.
all my friends appeared to love them and unfortunately i didn't have any spares to take home.

my only tip when making these is as you roll out the balls remember you have to sandwich two of these together and they grow in the oven so don't make them too big! it should make about twelve after they have been stuck together.


biscuit part 
170g self-raising flour
85g butter or margarine
55g white sugar
1 small egg
2 large tbsp of liquid coffee (or dissolve 2 tsp instant coffee in boiling water)

55g very soft butter
120g icing sugar, more if needed
few drops of vanilla essence

In a large bowl mix together the flour, butter and sugar until the mixture has a breadcrumb like texture.
Add the egg and coffee and mix again to make a firm dough.
Preheat the oven to 190C/Gas Mark .
Take teaspoons of the mixture and roll into small balls using your hands.
Place the balls on a greased or lined baking sheet, leave space between them as they will spread.
Bake for 15 minutes. Then remove and place on a wire rack to cool.

Meanwhile make the butter icing.
Put the softened butter and beat in enough icing sugar to make a thick butter cream icing.
When the cookies are cold spread half with the icing them sandwich two together.
Dust with Icing Sugar and serve.

Tuesday, 19 April 2011

Apple Turnovers

Hi, well i have always loved apple turnovers buying them once in a while as a treat however i have never considered making them until i ran across another bog and saw the recipe. so i decided t look around and see what people have said about making them.
And every recipe i found was different some added egg to the middle others walnuts or cinnamon. so from this i decided to create my own recipe using cinnamon to flavour the apples. i also have to admit i did you jus-rolls put pastry however it turned out well they were the perfect consistency between fluffy and flaky and thick and full. i however didn't take into account that they would rise and expand so this made a lot of rather large apple turnovers with just 3/4 of the packet (after this i ran out of apples and baking trays)
so here is my own recipe

6 medium apples
3oz of soft brown sugar
1 tsp of cinnamon
1 packet of jus-roll puff pastry
1 egg

Preheat the oven to 190C/gas mark 5
first of all i peeled cored and finely chopped my apples. i then left them in water and lemon juice before i needed them again (this stops the apples going brown!)

I then mix ted together the sugar and Cinnamon
then i rolled out the pastry into thin squares approx 5mm thick
i then filled one half of the square with the apples
then sprinkle on the  sugar mixture and placed a dot of butter on the top
i then used the egg as a wash over the pastry to help it stay together.
after this i folded the pastry in half to made a triangle and coated it with the egg wash
i then crimped the sides with a fork to keep it together
i then placed them on a  a lined baking tray and placed them into the preheated oven
leave to cook for 25 -30 minutes or until golden brown.

Saturday, 16 April 2011

chicken with parma ham and feta cheese

Hello again, as promised another post today! well this one is a great chicken dish me and my mum made for our tea last night and i just had to share it with you as its just delish.
at first i had my queries about warm feta cheese however i feel it worked really well in this dish and gave it a light summery edge as it doesn't melt.
we got the idea for this dish on mothers day in a small restaurant as they had chicken with bacon and feta cheese with potatoes. my mum thought this sounded really nice and we decided to experiment.
we decided to exchange the bacon for parma ham as we wanted a lighter meal but feel free to change it back if you wish!
we cooked this with Mediterranean vegetables in the oven and i felt that this step really improved it as it made the chicken very tender and added flavorings without overpowering it.
i have to say i just read through what i wrote i have to say that my cooking/critiquing skills are definitely improving and i have noticed a lot less disaster in my cooking however my next conquest with prove this as tomorrow i am going to make another sweet dish on my own. as this project goes on i hope to keep improving my skills and i think you will begin to notice of few more of these reflective paragraphs! sorry if you don't like them and feel free to tell me. That's another point sorry for sounding rude possibly but please comment more! i want to have  bit of interaction with you guys, my readers so post whatever you like good or bad i don't mind as it will help be to improve as a blogger! That's the end of my reflection now i will give you the recipes!

Chicken Breast (enough for 1 per person)
feta cheese (enough to stuff all the chicken breasts)
selection of Mediterranean vegetables
1 red opinion
3 tomatoes

Preheat the oven to gas mark 5/190C/375F
Dice the onion and tomatoes and put them in the tray for roasting
Prepare your vegetables and add them to the tray (if you don't want to select your own trays of Mediterranean vegetables work great)
Then cut in half you chicken breasts stuff with a chuck of feta cheese and sandwich back together.
Wrap two pieces of parma ham around each one.
add these to the roasting tray
Pour over a good drizzle oil olive oil to keep it all moist
Season with salt and pepper, not much not if any is needed as the ham is already quite salty)
Roast in the oven for 30-40 minutes making sure the chicken is cooked through
you can serve with new potatoes or a salad for a summery dish!

Friday, 15 April 2011

Childisdish Indulgence!

hello, sorry i haven't posted in a week i have been having some Internet issues! so to make up for it i will be posting today and tomorrow!
Today i would like to tell you about the simplest recipe to make a great sweet fix! jam tarts! last weekend me and some friends were wondering around Tesco and spotted some jus-roll pastry and we couldn't resist buying a pack and making jam tarts!!!
i know that this is supposed to be full of initiative recipes but i had to include this one to give you all a reminder of your childhood, well that's what they definitely do for me.
also though i do have to warn to as i forgot how completely moreish these wonderful creations are!
although i cheated and used jus-roll pastry as i was slightly short on time.
Jam Tarts
First of all roll out your pastry until approximately 3 mm thick.
then preheat your oven to 180C/356F/ Gas Mark 4
then grease a molded baking tray suitable to make the tarts. i think that quite small tarts work well and these can be made in a cupcake tray as well.
then cut out disks to of the pastry and mold into the holes in the tray. you can repeat this process until all the pastry is used or you can leave some extra for a top to the tarts however i like to leave them open.
then place the empty pastry cases into the oven for ten minutes.
when you remove from the oven fill with your filling i used strawberry jam to make mine. then you can add a lid at this stage if you want. then return the tray to the oven for another 10-15 minutes of until the pastry is golden brown.

Thursday, 7 April 2011

My Disaster

Hello again, well as you as see from the title this recipe didn’t go quite to plan! I recently saw a recipe for spaetzle; I had never heard of it before and when I read that it was like the best parts of noodles and dumplings I immediately wanted to give it a go.
Me and my friends thought it was a good time give a go last Saturday night. I’m not quite sure whether we didn’t measure the ingredients properly, or we miss read the recipe or whether it was my clumsiness but it didn’t go well.

It all started off well and the mixture looked the right consistency but then it all changed... when we got it out of the fridge and began to pour it through the colander as the recipe said this was okay if we didn’t have a spaetzle maker. Well after pouring a quarter through terror struck when we lifted up the pan and beneath it was these small pure white blobs that were dancing around like tadpoles! It wasn’t a very appetising food! We carried on through thinking well maybe some colour and a nice texture comes when they are pan fried. We first thought we would try it plain to see what the actual stuff was like.
Well it turned out to be nothing like dumplings or noodles more like soggy mini omelettes or hard scrambled egg!
After this we still had a lot of mixture yet and decided there was no way to salvage the actual spaetzle so we decided to make very heavy eggy pancakes which turned out to be quite nice and with lots of lemon and sugar they were great!

However after this disaster I thought I would hop on the internet and see how other people have made it and whether they have had any troubles and from what I can see no they haven’t it appears just to be me! Ah well I think I may have another shot at this recipe in the future! So I have put the recipe below and you should really try it and let me know how it goes or where this recipe could be improved to help me next time!

2 cups/250 grams of flour (all purpose)
7 medium eggs
¼ cup/60 ml of milk
salt (for salting the water to cook the spaetzle in)

1.       Combine flour, eggs and milk in a large bowl. Cover with Clingfilm and leave for one hour or overnight. Prepare an Ice bath. Bring a large pot of well salted water to the boil.
      set a large colander or spaetzle maker over the pot.
3.       Pour ¼ of the mixture (or less) into the colander and use a flexi spatula to push it through the holes (if this doesn’t work then use trial and error with the mixture to make small blobs or noodle like shapes to fall into the boiling water).
4.        Boil the spaetzle for around 1 to 2 minutes then use a slotted spoon or strainer to drain the spaetzle the plunge into the ice bath.
5.       When cool drain again and toss with olive oil to stop the spaetzle sticking. Repeat with the rest of the batter.
Heat up the spaetzle in a frying pan and cook with desired ingredients until golden brown (most things go with it as it has quite a plain taste). 

Good luck!!!! 

Monday, 4 April 2011

Tiramisu Muffins

Hi, this is my FIRST ever blog post and I'm excited! So I know there are hundreds if not thousands of food blogs out there, yet I'm still giving it a go? Well I love cooking (and eating). However and here’s the sad part I am a rubbish cook! I will give anything ago but my clumsiness over powers me and most of the time it ends up burnt or I forgot to add one of the vital ingredients (but I think that may be due to a lack of concentration). Now you are probably thinking so why start a blog? Aren’t they to show off good recipes? Well this is where my friends and family come in!  They are all so great and have volunteered to help me out and hopefully by the time I move out of home I shall be a pretty good cook ready to fend for myself! I will also be trying recipes myself periodically to see if I am improving.

So, my first recipe is... Tiramisu muffins. Yes, you read it right. I just love Tiramisu my mum has been making it for years. Although I do have to tell you as a small child I wasn’t such a fan. I used to like a be, well rather awkward when I was tired and decided that it looked like compost one evening that and the fact it contained coffee and liquor which most young children despise put me off rather a lot! However as I became older I grew to love the stuff and my mum began to make dish after dish at Christmas. Then one evening I was flicking through TV and saw tiramisu muffins being made. I immediately jumped on line to find the recipe, it was from ‘Lorraine Pascale recipe book baking made easy’ which I have since bought for my mum to add to the vast collection of recipe books she already owns. I decided I would give them a go to surprise my mum at the weekend with lovely cakes. Not sure how but at this point I managed to block out the flashbacks of disastrous cooking and ploughed on through.

After visiting the local shop and discovering not everywhere sells mascarpone, ricotta and amaretti biscuits I popped to the supermarket. Then on Sunday afternoon I finally made them while my mum was out. And guess what they turned okay with the help of my dad reminding me to get them out of the oven and checking off the ingredients as I put them in! At a first glance this recipe they seemed quite complex however this is not the case and they only take about half hour plus cooking time at tops to make! These amazing treats were my first and so far my only recipe success apart from reheating food.

With this recipe I decided to go a little experimental due to my lack of finding full sized amaretti biscuits and the fact I can’t purchase alcohol. First I decided to purchase ammaretinni biscuits as although being small I guess they are the same as the full sized ones. And at home we had amaretto an almond liquor which my uses for regular tiramisu so used this instead on the one the recipe used. I have since made with the recipe ingredients and feel it tastes great either way. The recipe below is the one I have tweaked.  I also think they work well without the alcohol if you prefer.

These lovely wonders turn out very moist and moreish so if you like tiramisu I can see you making many batches as I have (the pictures in here are from my seventh batch) although I think it was just my look that this batch tasted great however weren’t the best looking one I have made!



Cake Mixture
- 165g/5½oz soft butter- 100g/3½oz light brown sugar- 100g/3½oz caster sugar- 4 free-range eggs- 260g/9oz self-raising flour- 80g/3oz ricotta cheese- 3 tbsp coffee essence or 2 tbsp coffee dissolved in 4 tbsp water- two handfuls of amarettini biscuits, roughly crumbled- Icing sugar and cocoa powder, for dusting

For the filling
- 500g/1lb 2oz mascarpone
- 1 vanilla pod, seeds only (or 2 drops vanilla extract)
- 4 tbsp icing sugar
- 4 tbsp amaretto liquor 
-  a handful amarettini biscuits, roughly crumbled

For the sugar syrup
- 165g/5½oz granulated sugar
- 165ml/5½fl oz water
- 2 tbsp coffee essence or 2 tbsp coffee powder

Preparation method
1.    Preheat the oven to 180C/350F/Gas Mark 4.
2.    Line a muffin tin with 12 cases
3.    Put the butter and both types of sugar for the cake mixture into a large bowl. Cream until light and fluffy.
4.    Add half the eggs and half the flour, stir well. Repeat with the other half of the eggs and sift in the flour.
5.    Add the ricotta, coffee and amarettini biscuits and mix well.
6.    Using an ice cream scoop o two dessert spoons; divide the mixture into the 12 muffin cases. Spread the mixture evenly in the cases using the back of the spoon.
7.    Bake in the oven for 25-30 minutes, or until a skewer inserted into the centre comes out clean.
8.    Leave to cool. While the cakes are cooking you can make the syrup and filling
9.    to make the filling mix all the ingredients together and set aside in the fridge until ready to assemble the cakes
10. To make the syrup put all the ingredients into a pan on the hob. Put it onto a low heat until all the sugar is dissolved
12. Remove pan from the heat and leave to cool.
13. Once the cakes are cool enough to handle remove each cake from its case and cut in half horizontally.
14. Put the cake halves on a large plate or board.
15. Brush each cake liberally with the syrup. Use as much as you can this will make the cakes much moister and taste even better.
16. Then remove the filling from the fridge and dollop a generous spoonful onto one half of each, and then sandwich the halves back together.
17. You can then dust with icing sugar and cocoa powder if you wish. These are then ready to serve.