Saturday, 26 July 2014

Speedy 10 minute Lemon Curd!

This post is a tiny bit spontaneous because I actually had no intention of writing about it!
Friday, 25 July 2014

Smoked Salmon, Broccoli and Cream Cheese Quiche

I'm very affected by the weather - I wish I wasn't but I am. As soon as it starts heating up outside I really can't be doing with big heavy meals (a.k.a casseroles uughh!)

Monday, 21 July 2014

Best Ever Chocolate Chip Shortbread

So let's turn the conversation to shortbread...everyone likes shortbread right?! And who doesn't like chocolate...put the 2 together and you got yourself a damn good dunker for your tea (or coffee...whatever!)

Tuesday, 15 July 2014

New Nordic Cuisine - Cooking up a Storm!

This year I decided to enter a young food writers competition called 'Write It! 2014' run by the The Guild Of Food Writers. I based my article on the new Scandinavian craze sweeping the foodie revolution. The bad news...I didn't win. But, the good news is: I can still publish my entry on my blog. (Ha!) So read it, see what you think and feel free to comment your thoughts on it. Oh and I feel like I should be a good team player so I'm also giving you the link here to read the winning entry. (I must say that there are so many great budding young food writers out there, so I better watch my back eh?)
Sunday, 13 July 2014

Lavender and Raspberry Cupcakes

I thought that this weekend was the perfect opportunity to bake my favourite thing- cupcakes! Sometimes it's the simplest things in life, sharing them out to friends and family over a pot of tea which can make the weekend so much more enjoyable.

I don't know what it is about lavender and raspberries...but they just match together so well with their summer aura which make them perfect companions smothered in rich buttercream icing. These cupcakes not only relaxes for its traditional comforting qualities, but also because it is lavender infused, to ensure complete calm. So if your having a pretty hectic weekend, maybe it's time that you put all that aside, get your bowl and wooden spoon out and knock up a batch of these bad boys!! 

I used freshly picked lavender flowers from my garden (oh and make sure they're edible) but if you can't get hold of any... you could buy some lavender extract from specialist stores like here, add a teaspoon to the cake batter (but don't forget to add a dash of milk to loosen up the mixture too) and do the same with the buttercream. I thought that I might as well sprinkle on a few lavender flowers for decoration too, just for the heck of it...but the flowers don't actually taste that good to eat, so it's up to you.

When getting to the section of the recipe where it says "fill the centre with raspberry jam" - don't feel obligated to do that! If you feel they will be sweet enough for you as they are (and you don't happen to have as much of a sweet tooth as me) then don't put it in. Soooo many decisions!!

Oh and for leftovers (ha, probably no chance of that happening but...), make sure to keep them stored away in the fridge because of the raspberries. So on with the recipe I hear you say...well here it is!

Lavender and Raspberry Cupcakes

Ingredients (makes 12)

130ml milk
1 tsp edible lavender flowers
225g salted butter, at room temperature
225g caster sugar
4 eggs
250g self-raising flour

For the buttercream
160g salted butter, at room temperature
500g icing sugar
50ml lavender milk (see above)

To finish
24 fresh raspberries
2 tbsp raspberry jam to glaze
+ 12 tsp raspberry jam to fill (optional)


Preheat your oven to 180°C/ Gas 4/ 350°F
To make the cake batter, first infuse the milk by pouring it into a small saucepan with the lavender flowers and heating over a low heat for about 10 mins. Leave to cool completely, then strain into a bowl to remove the flowers.

Cream the butter and sugar together in a mixing bowl using a wooden spoon or electric beaters, or using the paddle attachment in a free standing mixer, until paler in colour, smooth and creamy. Then add the eggs one at a time and beat until you have a smooth mixture. Finally, fold in the flour and 80ml of the lavender milk.

Scoop heaped tablespoons of the mixture into a cupcake tray lined with cases. Bake for 20-25 mins, or until nicely golden brown and a skewer inserted comes out clean. If inserting raspberry jam in the centre, core out the middle of the cupcakes whilst still warm (you can buy specialist cupcake corers/plungers that do this, but just use a knife if you don't have one). Leave the cupcakes to cool completely before icing.

Meanwhile, make the buttercream. Beat the butter until very soft, then add the icing sugar and mix together. When the butter is well incorporated into the icing sugar, pour in the remaining 50ml of the lavender milk and beat until smooth. You can then spoon this into a piping bag with desired nozzle (I used a star nozzle) if you don't want to spread onto the cake using a palette knife.

Spoon a teaspoon of raspberry jam into the middle of each cupcake, or leave plain if you wish not too.

Pipe swirls of buttercream onto your cupcakes and then place 2 raspberries on the top. Next to make the glaze, put the 2 tbsp of jam into a saucepan with 1 tbsp of water, place over a medium heat and bring to the boil. Pass through a sieve (if not seedless) then, while the jam is still warm, use it to glaze the raspberries, painting it on with a pastry brush.

Wednesday, 9 July 2014

Cream cheese, ham, roasted onions with cherry tomato and basil oil chelsea buns

So here it is, my first ever blog post! I decided that for my first recipe I would choose something that I could eat very happily for my lunch. These chelsea buns are a perfect picnic treat as they are simply a self-contained sandwich, and all you have to do is wrap, take-away and enjoy!

I don't often make bread (well...not as much as I would like to) but with all this spare time (because I've finished school now, wooo!) I thought that this idea for a savoury version of the classic chelsea bun makes perfect sense.

In this recipe, I used my trusty kenwood patissier with the dough hook attachment to make my life easier...basically no hard kneading for me is involved and my arms get a rest! But if unlike me - you aren't lucky enough to have someone do all the hard work for you then it's 10 minutes of hand kneading for you I'm afraid. Also, I used my blender to make the basil oil...but here's a handy tip: if you happen to have a mini food processor (like I did - until it broke. Damn!)I would definitely recommend using that instead as it's much quicker for the blades to chop up, especially with the small quantity.

This recipe is entirely adaptable to suit whatever sort of mood your if that's a "I really need to use up these leftovers lying around in the fridge"- kinda mood, then go with it! Fill these chelsea buns with whatever takes your fancy. I decided upon this filling because it was in my fridge already, and I also think this combo works really well together.

Cream Cheese, ham, roasted onion with cherry tomato and basil oil chelsea buns

Ingredients (makes 8 rolls)

500g strong white flour, plus extra for dusting
½ tsp salt
7g fast-action dried yeast
350ml warm water
extra virgin olive oil
180g cherry tomatoes, halved
a drizzle of balsamic vinegar
1 red onion
a few fresh sprigs of thyme
1 handful of basil leaves
75g cooked sliced ham
200g cream cheese (I used one with garlic and herbs)


Preheat the oven to 200°C/gas mark 6/ 400°F. Mix the flour, salt and yeast in a bowl. Make a well in the centre and pour in the warm water, mixing until you have a sticky soft dough, or alternatively place in a mixer with the dough hook attached. Knead in the mixer for 6 mins, or by hand on a floured surface for 10 mins, until smooth and elastic. Transfer the dough into an oiled bowl, cover and leave to rise for 1 hour in a warm place.

Cut the cherry tomatoes in half, peel and roughly chop the onion and place into a roasting tray. Drizzle with olive oil and balsamic vinegar, season and scatter thyme leaves over. Mix with your hands until they are well coated and then roast in the oven for about 15 mins. Once cooked leave to cool.

To make the basil oil, place the basil leaves and 2 tbsp olive oil in a blender and blitz until thoroughly chopped, almost to a green puree consistency. Chop the ham into 2cm pieces. 

Adjust temperature of oven to 180°C/gas mark 4/ 350°F

Once the dough has proved, transfer to a floured work surface and roll into a 1cm thick rectangle. Tack down one of the long edges to the surface, (this proves helpful when rolling up and sealing, look in the photo for guidance) spread cream cheese over the rectangle and then scatter over the roasted tomatoes and onion, trying not to pour on too much excess juice that leaked out from them. (Just discard this) Scatter on the chopped ham, drizzle all the basil oil over and then roll up into a long log shape. Making sure that the log is well sealed.

Cut the log into 8 rolls, and place them on an oiled baking tray, spaced apart. Cover and leave to rise again for 40 mins in a warm place. Bake the rolls in the oven for 25-30 mins until golden and hollow sounding to tap. Garnish with a few extra thyme leaves if you want.