Posts Tagged ‘baking’

A Couple Of Simple Recipes Using Steenbergs Peppermint Extract

Tuesday, November 1st, 2011

Using Steenbergs relaunched organic peppermint extract, I made a few peppermint flavoured sweets the other evening for a Diwali meal that we were treated to by some good friends.  They are really simple and quite delicious; the hostess loved the Peppermint Chocolate Biscuit Cake the most, but none of these sweets was left over by the end.

Peppermint Creams

Peppermint Creams

Plate Of Peppermint Creams

450g / 1lb organic icing sugar, sifted
125ml / ½ cup condensed milk
4-5tsp Steenbergs Organic peppermint extract
200g/ 7oz dark chocolate

Sieve the icing sugar into a mixing bowl, then add the condensed milk.  Mix the condensed milk thoroughly into the icing sugar.  To mix it in use a spoon and your fingers to mix it through.

Then add the Steenbergs Organic Peppermint Extract and work the peppermint flavour thoroughly through the mix.

Roll the peppermint cream mix out on a clean surface until about 4mm thick.  Using a small circular cutter of around 1.5cm in diameter, cut out circles and leave these on a plate or piece of baking parchment.  Leave to dry out for about 1 hour.

Melt the dark chocolate over a pan of boiling water, then dip the peppermint circles into the melted chocolate to half cover the peppermint.  Place onto some baking parchment to let the peppermint creams cool down and harden.

Peppermint Chocolate Biscuit Cake

Peppermint Flavoured Chocolate Biscuit Cake

Peppermint Biscuit Cake

160g / 5½oz butter
4tbsp golden syrup
16 digestive biscuits
200g / 7oz milk chocolate
1tsp Steenbergs Organic peppermint extract

Grease a small baking tray then line the base with some baking parchment.

Break the digestive biscuits into crumbs (easiest to do this in a plastic bag tied at end, then bash with rolling pin).

Put the butter and golden syrup in a heavy bottomed pan and melt together over a low heat.  Add the broken biscuit crumbs to the butter syrup and mix well.  Scoop into baking tray and press into the tray.  Chill in fridge.

Break the milk chocolate into a bowl and gently melt them over a pan of simmering water.  Remove the bowl from the pan carefully (it will be hot).  Allow the melted chocolate to cool for 5 minutes, add the Steenbergs Organic Peppermint Extract and mix into the chocolate and then spread over biscuit base.  Chill in fridge.

Turn out the biscuit cake, then cut into 2cm x 2cm squares.

Two Simple Chocolate Traybakes Made For Village Royal Wedding Tea Party

Saturday, April 30th, 2011
Raise A Glass For The Royal Toast

Raise A Glass For The Royal Toast

Like much of the country, and the world, we spent yesterday using the excuse of the Royal Wedding for a village party on the green and a day off the daily grind.  The weather behaved, raining during the wedding ceremony forcing my son and I from the garden to watch the pageantry, look at the dresses and see the kiss, then glorious sunshine for games and tea on the green in the afternoon.  Much fun was had by all ages and the familiar discourse of conservative, village life in rural North Yorkshire was reaffirmed, so that we can now spend the intervening time diluting this partiotism down again with more liberal & progressive ideas until our next celebration of Englishness or Britishness or Northerness comes along sometime in the very near future.

But the question was what to make for the tea party.  Everyone else had been making masses of sandwiches, sausage rolls and cupcakes; in fact, the tea tables groaned with far too much food.  We were told not to make a cucumber or egg mayo sandwich, which was fine by me, and asked to make some biscuits or such like.  As it was for the Royal Wedding, I recalled that Prince William had requested a tray bake for his stag party, being one of his favourites, so there was the hook - a simple chocolate traybake.

Sack Race On Green

Sack Race On Green

Chase The Yellow Chicken

Chase The Yellow Chicken

I trawled the web for ideas to find whether anyone had leaked the secret recipe but no such luck, but I found a few thoughts and from those have created my own ersatz Royal biscuity, chocolatey “no cook” tray bakes.  They were very good and went down a treat.

Rich Tea Tray Bake

Rich Tea Tray Bake

Crunchie Chocolate Traybake

60g / 2 oz plain chocolate
60g / 2 oz milk chocolate
100g / 3½ oz / 1 stick unsalted butter
2tbsp golden syrup
200g / 7oz digestive biscuits
100g / 3½ oz sultanas
100g / 3½ oz Crunchie bars (honeycomb, cinder or sponge toffee)

Topping

100g / 3½ oz dark chocolate
100g / 3½ oz Crunchie bars (honeycomb, cinder or sponge toffee)

1.  Lightly grease a 17cm x 26cm (7 inch x 10 inch) baking tray and line the base with baking paper.  Set aside.

2.  Firstly, crush the digestive biscuits and cinder toffee.  Put the digestives into a clear freezer bag and tie the end without much air in it.  Then with the end of a rolling pin smash the digestives into small pieces.  Do the same for the cinder toffee, but I like these in larger chunks for the texture; you can either do these in two batches or as one and then halve the amount – your proportions do not need to be precise, so don’t get hung up on the details.  Mix the Crunchie bar with the sultanas.

Crunched Up Cinder Toffee And Sultanas

Crunched Up Cinder Toffee And Sultanas

3.  Secondly, place the plain and dark chocolate for the base in a heatproof or metal bowl over a saucepan of simmering water.  Add the golden syrup and butter.  Melt these all together, stirring occassionally with a metal spoon.

Chocolate, butter and golden syrup

Chocolate, butter and golden syrup

4.  When melted, add the digestive biscuits, sultanas and honeycomb and mix all thoroughly together.  Make sure that everything has been coated with the chocolate mix.

5.  Spoon the mixture into the tray and put into fridge to set  while you prepare the topping.

6.  For the topping, melt the dark chocolate, then mix in the remaining crushed up Crunchie bars.  Take the tray out of the fridge and cover the base evenly with the chocolate topping.

7.  Leave in the fridge for about 1 hour to fully set, then turn out onto a chopping board.  With a sharp knife, cut into small rectangles of about  1½ cm x 2cm (½ inch x 1 inch).

Crunchie Chocolate Traybake

Crunchie Chocolate Traybake

Rich Tea Chocolate Traybake

225g / 8 oz rich tea biscuits
50g / 1¾ oz / 3 tablespoons unsalted butter
125g / 4½ oz golden caster sugar
1 free range egg, lightly beaten
100g / 3½ oz dark chocolate

Topping

125g / 4½ oz dark chocolate
75g / 4½ oz milk chocolate
50g / 1¾ oz white chocolate

1.  Lightly grease a small round cake tin (15cm, 6 inch in diameter), with a removable base.  Place a circle of baking parchment in the base.  Set aside.

2.  Crunch up the rich tea biscuits into small pieces, leaving some that are larger at about 1cm / ½ inch.  Cream the butter and caster sugar together, then add the egg and whisk again.

Crushed Rich Tea Biscuits

Crushed Rich Tea Biscuits

3.  Break the dark chocolate into pieces and place in a heatproof bowl and melt over simmering water.  When melted, add the sugar-butter-egg mix to the chocolate and stir in until melted and thickened to a light custard texture, which will take a couple of minutes.

4.  Stir up the broken biscuit pieces until throughly coated.  Transfer the chocolatey biscuit mix into the cake tin, making sure that the pieces are squashed right into all the gaps to make a firm, continuous base.  Put into the fridge for about 1 hour until thoroughly set.

Take The Crunchy Chocolate Base From The Fridge

Take The Crunchy Chocolate Base From The Fridge

5.  Remove the base from the fridge and leave at room temperature while you do prepare the dark chocolate.  Break the dark chocolate into pieces and place in a heatproof bowl and melt over simmering water.  While it is melting, gently slide the prepared biscuit base out of the cake tin.  Spread the melted chocolate over the base. smoothing until nice and even.  Put into the fridge for about ½ an hour.

6.  For the final flourish, melt the white chocolate and then drizzle over the top of the dark chocolate.  Place it all back into the fridge again for 2 hours to set fully. With a sharp knife, cut into small shapes of about  1½ cm x 2cm (½ inch x 1 inch); I know that it it is a circle so it doesn’t quite work but that gives the cook loads of scraps to test for deliciousness.

Drizzle White Chocolate Over Base

Drizzle White Chocolate Over Base

Cut The Cake Into Small Pieces

Cut The Cake Into Small Pieces

Bake A Coffee Cake To Put A Spring Back Into Your Step

Saturday, April 16th, 2011

I am going through one of those slow patches with an enthusiasm level akin to the doldrums, full of periods of calm, then storms, but all interspersed with light winds.  Nothing much seems to be working, with nowt falling into place.  It is as if your legs are moving but you are not actually getting anywhere or doing much of any consequence.

But the sun has come out and spring is here, so I have managed to take a few photos of spring and been for a few walks along the Ure with my daughter, chatting about this and that, while watching the white flowers bloom on blackthorn bushes, promising of sloes in the autumn.  And the rabbits hopping around undisturbed by the oak tree in the pasture.

Springtime = Coffee Cake

Springtime = Coffee Cake

While Pam Corbin has managed to keep me from mischief as I continue to play with recipes from her delightful book, “Cakes“.  I had a good go with her Wholemeal Orange Cake with Earl Grey Icing, which has a delicate orange citrus flavour, and made an amended version of her Coffee and Walnut Cake, morphing into a coffee cake for Sophie’s birthday (21 again) as I am not the greatest fan of walnuts, finding them bitter with a yucky aftertaste.

So here’s my Coffee Cake, based on Pam’s Coffee & Walnut Cake:

For the cake:

200g/ 7 oz organic plain flour
1½ tsp baking powder
200g / 7 oz unsalted butter, cut into small cubes and left to soften
200g / 7 oz golden caster sugar
3 large eggs
2tsp coffee extract or 1tbsp instant coffee dissolved in 1tbsp boiling water or 50ml Camp coffee  essence
25ml / 1¾ tbsp milk

For the filling:

60g /2 oz unsalted butter, cut into small cubes and softened
125g /4¼ oz icing sugar, sieved
1tsp coffee extract, or 2tsp instant coffee in 2tsp boiling water or 10ml Camp coffee essence

For the icing:
200g / 7 oz icing sugar, sieved
1tbsp strong fresh coffee

Preheat the oven to 220C/350F.  Prepare two 20cm/ 8 inch round sandwich tins by lightly greasing them both, then lining the bases with baking paper.

Sieve The Flour

Sieve The Flour

Sieve the plain flour and baking powder and set aside.

Put the butter into a large mixing bowl, then with an electric hand whisk beat to a cream, then add the sugar and beat until light and creamy.  Add the eggs, then 2tbsp of flour and beat together.  Add the coffee essence and beat until light and fluffy.

Now fold in the flour in 2 halves.  Add the milk and stir carefully to keep the consistency.

Divide the mixture between the 2 prepared cake tins, spreading out evenly with a spoon.  Bake in the preheated oven for 25-30 minutes until the tops are a light golden brown and springy to touch.  Turn out onto a wire rack to cool.

Prepare the buttercream filling by beating all the filling ingredients together until light and creamy.

Make the coffee icing, by mixing the ingredients together, adding perhaps 1-2 tbsp boiling water to get the consistency smooth, but still thick.

Put one of the cooled cakes onto a plate or cake stand.  With a sharp knife carefully slice the top off the cake to make it flat, enjoying eating this as chef’s perks.  Spread the top over with the buttercream, then sandwich the other cake over the top.  Now, spread the coffee icing over the top.

Prepare The Coffee Buttercream For The Coffee Sandwich Cakes

Prepare The Coffee Buttercream For The Coffee Sandwich Cakes

Coffee Cake

Coffee Cake

Enjoy with tea or coffee and the cake will last a week in an airtight tin.

Then you could enjoy Pam’s orange cake next…

Brownies Recipes From Cakes By Pam Corbin

Saturday, March 26th, 2011

We have just been at the International Food Exhibition 2011, IFE 2011, at Excel in London, where we have been exhibiting. 

It is one of those strange and massive events, where you can be treated to delicious, lovingly made cheese from the Wensleydale Cheese Company with their Jervaulx Blue through to the tasteless, sweaty industrial cheese of AB Technologies Alimentaire, who initiated me into the delights of chocolate flavoured cheese strings (revolting) and wasabi flavoured cheese strings (not great but strangely I think it is a possiblity, but you would need more wasabi for a kick and tastier cheese).  The other weird flavour from the show was Purbeck Ice Cream’s Horseradish and Beetroot Icecream, which was intriguing and would work well as an amuse bouche.  The Steenbergs (our) stand was quite busy, but opposite us was Higgidy Pies – now they have done massively well and are now in most of the major multiples which from a start about 7 years ago is truly immense. 

In fact, most of the businesses around us at the IFE trade show were all in Boots, Sainsburys, Tesco and Waitrose etc, so it was slightly weird being one of the few to hold out and say “No thank you” to the big multiples, and long may we be able to resist the temptation even if it means we are all the poorer for our positioning.  It is also interesting to note that inspite of the fact that customers are always telling us “Don’t got into the multiples” and so on, they were happily swarming around Higgidy Pies despite the fact that they are listed in Asda, Boots, Budgens, Ocado, Sainsburys and Waitrose.

And just round from us was Thursday Cottage, which is now part of Tiptree, but was founded by Pam Corbin.  Pam now does courses in jam making and writes books for River Cottage.  She is one of the world’s beautiful people – lovely nature, light and fresh manner and a great cook, as well as a real fan of Steenbergs ingredients.  Pam has just finished her book from River Cottage on Cakes and she has kindly mentioned Steenbergs spices on more than one occasion, for which we are so grateful.

Anyway to the book.  The aptly-called “Cakes“ is number 8 in River Cottage’s series of indispensible handbooks, covering the basics of core areas like jam making, baking cakes etc.  They are hard-backed but the size of a normal paperback, so they are handy and convenient rather than big and bulky.  What’s more they make difficult topics, really easy.  There are masses of cakes - real cakes as this is full of lots of delicious-sounding flavour combinations, but they are classic British-style cakes and not the flouncy, airy and chic cakes of the superchef catwalk scene.

Chocolate Brownies

Chocolate Brownies

So I have chosen a couple of recipes to try: firstly ”My chocolate brownies“ in this blog, followed (perhaps) by ”Wholemeal orange cake“, “Simnel cakelets“, “Cut and come again“ in subsequent blogs.  But please make sure you go out and buy her books, because Pam is really lovely.

Ingredients
(Adapted from Cakes by Pam Corbin)

185g / 6½ oz plain chocolate (60-70% cocoa solids), broken into small pieces
185g / 6½ oz unsalted butter
3 large eggs
275g / 9¾ oz Fairtrade golden caster sugar
85g / 3oz plain flour
40g / 1½ oz Fairtrade cocoa powder (even Cadbury’s is Fairtrade these days)
50g / 1¾ oz white chocolate, roughly chopped (I tried out Morrisons Best for this)
50g / 1¾ oz milk chocolate, roughly chopped (I used half a bar of Cadbury’s Fairtrade Dairy Milk, then ate the rest)

Preheat the oven to 180C/350F.  Put the plain chocolate in a heatproof bowl with the unsalted butter.  Place over a barely simmering water on a low heat and leave until melted.  Stir to blend together and take off the heat.

Whisk the eggs and Fairtrade golden caster sugar together with an electric whisk or mixer until pale and quadrupled in volume, which takes 5-10 minutes.  According to Pam, this is the key bit as it increases the volume massively and makes the whole brownie more succulent.
Whisk The Eggs And Sugar To Much Bigger Volume

Whisk The Eggs And Sugar To Much Bigger Volume

Fold the chocolate mixture into the mousse-like egg mixture.  Sift the flour and cocoa powder and fold into the mixture as gently as possible.  Then fold in the chopped chocolate pieces.

Fold Chocolate Into Egg-Sugar Mix

Fold Chocolate Into Egg-Sugar Mix

Pour the mixture into the baking tin and bake for 35 minutes, or until the top has just stopped to wobble and then take out and leave to cool in the tin.  You are trying to leave the brownie partly uncooked and stop it becoming a chocolate cake.

When thoroughly cooled, turn out the brownies onto a tea-towel and then place onto a chopping board.  Cut into squares.

The brownies can be stored for 4-5 days in an airtight container, but brownies never last that long in our household and these are truly scrumptious.  The ones from the centre of the cake tin are the best as they have that delicious, moist mouthfeel.

Matcha Tea Cupcakes – Green, Healthy and Tasty Recipe

Monday, March 21st, 2011

The terrible events in Japan lay bare to us all how much we are still at the mercy of the elements, rather than completely in control of our earth.

Steenbergs Matcha Tea And Cocoa Powder

Steenbergs Matcha Tea And Cocoa Powder

So I decided to revisit my recent post on matcha tea and create these Matcha Tea Cupcakes ideal for charity events to raise money for the tsunami victims.  They are really delicious combination of matcha and cocoa, with with the cupcake tasting just of chocolate cake and the very mild seaweedy taste of the matcha in the icing complements the classic sweetness of the chocolate.  As an aside, this is great way to get some of the benefits of matcha without needing to drink a cup of slightly bitter matcha tea

Matcha Cupcakes

Matcha Cupcakes

Recipe for Matcha Tea Cupcakes

1 tsp (rounded) organic matcha tea
120ml / ½ cup milk
100g / ¾ cup plus 1 tbsp organic plain flour
1¼ tsp baking powder
2 tbsp Fairtrade cocoa powder
Pinch of sea salt
150g / 1 scant cup Fairtrade caster sugar
1 large free range egg
1 tsp Steenbergs organic Fairtrade vanilla extract
50g / 3½ tsp unsalted butter 

For the topping:

80g / 5 tbsp unsalted butter
2 tsp (level) organic matcha tea, sieved
2 tbsp fromage frais
250g / 2 cups Faitrade icing sugar

1.  Preheat the oven to 180C / 350F.

2.  Pour the milk into a milk pan, then sieve the matcha tea into the milk.  Whisk the mixture with a matcha whisk or a fork.  Then carefully heat the milk until hot to touch but not starting to simmer.  Take off the heat and set aside.

Infuse Milk With Green Matcha Tea

Infuse Milk With Green Matcha Tea

3.  Sieve the plain flour, baking powder and cocoa powder into a mixing bowl.  Add the sea salt and then tip in the caster sugar.  Mix the dry ingredients together.

Put All The Dry Ingredients Into Mixing Bowl

Put All The Dry Ingredients Into Mixing Bowl

4.  Put the egg and vanilla extract into the dry ingredients and mix up a bit with a fork.  Chop the unsalted butter into small cubes and add to the mixture.  Mix thoroughly with an electric whisk or in a blender.  When creamed together, add the matcha milk mix and throughly mix.

Mix In The Matcha Milk

Mix In The Matcha Milk

5.  Spoon the mixture into paper cupcakes until about three-quarters up.

Pour In Mixture Three Quarters Up Cupcake

Pour In Mixture Three Quarters Up Cupcake

6.  Place in oven and cook for about 25 minutes, or until spongy to the touch.  Remove from the oven and leave to cool on a wire rack.

7.  To make the matcha icing, simply mix all the ingredients together and put a dessertspoon of the matcha frosting onto each cupcake.

Mix Together The Ingredients For Matcha Frosting

Mix Together The Ingredients For Matcha Frosting

8.  Enjoy the taste straight away.

Review Of December 2010 Food Blogs (Part 2)

Sunday, January 16th, 2011

At Mahanandi, Indira shared some innovative menu ideas for the Christmas Season, or holiday season as it is called in America – see Menu 1 and Menu 2.  Maison Cupcake was cupcake decorating in a Masterclass in Islington’s The Make Lounge with Mich Turner and I love the recipe for Sweet And Savoury Spiced Nuts at Not Without Salt as they remind me of delicious toasted almonds that I used to get all warm and wrapped in cones of paper from street vendors in Munich.  Also at Not Without Salt in December Ashley posted a Quick Puff Pastry recipe that makes me feel so inadequate as I do not have light enough hands for something as delicate as that, while the post on Homemade Truffles reminds me of promises made to myself and not fulfilled – there is always this year, I suppose.

Orangette posted a neat recipe for Whole Wheat Sablés With Cacoa Nibs.  Sablés are another thing that I really should make and maybe I will during 2011.  At Smitten Kitchen, Deb has been active baking loads of cookies, mostly baking with a Christmas theme like Roasted Chestnut Cookies, Iced Oatmeal Cookies and the most amazing Spiced Gingerbread Cookies that have been so beautifully created.  Savoury wise, Deb made classic Garlic Butter Roasted Mushrooms.

At The Pioneer Woman Cooks, I like Ree Drummond’s recipes for Mulligatawny Soup and Spinach Soup With Gruyere.  Then Ree gets into that Christmas spirit with Lia’s Dark Chocolate Truffles, including several photos of how to make a delicate chocolate butterfly from dark chocolate.  Then there are some offbeat ideas for the Christmas period including recipes for Meatballs With Peppers And Pineapple and Steak Au Poivre, but then in America they get the turkey over at Thanksgiving. 

At The Wednesday Chef, Luisa Weiss makes panforte which is one of those delicacies that I love, enjoying the familar chewy texture and nutty tastes, but perhaps I would settle for candied orange peel rather than quince.  I must admit that it is not something that I ever considered making, but maybe that is another good intention that I can put on my ever expanding list of things I would love to make, but never quite manage to get round to.  And at Wild Yeast, there is a recipe for Candied Lemon Peel which can easily be tweaked for orange, so now I have all the tools to make candied peel in 2011. 

Promises, promises…

Review Of Food Blogs – December 2010

Sunday, January 9th, 2011

At A Slice Of Cherry Pie, Julia Parsons has been relishing our wintry weather here in England with a warming, earthy Rabbit Casserole recipe that has a quaint olde worlde charm.  I love the taste of rabbit, especially farmed rabbit, which has a light gaminess that has more depth of flavour than chicken, for example.

At Cannelle et Vanille, Aran Goyoaga made a summery sounding Fennel Leek and Arugala risotto (rocket to you and me) that has an intriguing layering of flavours with the anise of fennel and the peppery bite of the rocket, but what I was really drawn to was the link back to an earlier Chocolate Buttermilk Cupcake recipe that has that deep richness that I love in baking – I am not a fan of light, airy cakes, but need a bit more moistness and body to the things I bake and the buttermilk will give that.  Then, there is a to die for Pear And Hazelnut Tart that uses a gluten free pie dough, but you could substitute this for a sweet pastry per my recipe for A Simple Sweet Pastry Recipe.

At Chocolate And Zucchini, there is an intriguing Black Radish And Potato Salad, which sounds a good way of adding colour and some bite to potato salad, something which I find often bland and stodgy.  If anyone can guide me to where I might find a black radish that would be great, or I could substitute a few of the smaller red ones and give it a whirl.  While Clotilde Dusouiler’s Christmas Sablés which have all that Christmassy spiciness coming through from cinnamon (you should use baker’s cinnamon a.k.a. cassia here) and vanilla extract, which are reminiscent of the Spekulatius biscuits that I indulge in over the holiday period.

I am intrigued by Jeanne Horak-Druiff’s recipe for Feta, Sage And Pappadew Scones at CookSister, but it might be a little overcomplex in the flavours that come through and I would be tempted to drop the sage and stick with black pepper as the only seasoning which should offset the cheese nicely.  However, I do like the taste image I have of Jeanne’s French Beans With Toasted Almonds And Garlic and you could substitute the pumpkin seeds for toasted pine nuts or sunflower seeds.

But the Apricot, Almond And Lemon Cake at David Lebovitz’s Blog sounds a great melding together of sweet and savoury flavours into a sweet loaf that really might work.   I like the flavours of Gruyère cheese and fennel that would come through, but might dice the apricot up to make finer bites as the mouth feel of great chunks of apricot sounds unappealing to me.  And how about Chocolate Persimmon Muffins which sound so elegantly delicious and give that faint feeling of exotic Baghdad Nights way back when, but where to find a persimmon, except the local builders who also go by that name.  Or how about a link back to James Beard’s Persimmon Bread from 2005.  Then David conjurs up a rich, chocolatey Pecan Pie for a late Thanksgiving treat which is reminiscent of Pierre Herme’s Chocolate And Nutella Tart, or Barbra Austin’s rich Carrot Cake With Cream Frosting that are great for expanding your waistline in these austere times.  And finally, there is a fascinating account of How Comte Cheese Is Made.

While at Delicious:Days, Nicky has been busy with the finickety details of making finely decorated cookies for Christmas; I wish I had the patience and time to spare.  And at Fuss Free Flavours, Helen Best-Shaw has been making another cheese flavoured bread recipe (this seems to be an inadvertent theme for December 2010), making Serbian Kiflice Cheese Rolls, which sound wonderful and savoury.

So much wonderful cooking and so many great ideas overflowing in the final days of 2010…

Countdown To Christmas

Saturday, December 11th, 2010

It is that time of the year again when I start panicking that I have not got everything ready for Christmas.  What have you forgotten?  No presents bought that is for sure, but the thought and desire is there.  Soon, I feel myself say, there’s still plenty of time. 

The organic turkey has been ordered from Copas via our local village shop, The Smithy in BaldersbyChristmas cake made, but I must make the marzipan and also ice it.  Christmas pudding made for us, my parents and good friends.  Recipe for mincemeat tweaked and new batch of mincemeat made and stirred last weekend with heavenly, boozy smells.  The crib scene has been put out.  I must remember to get the Christmas tree this weekend otherwise we will end out with a scraggly twig like the last few years.  Our daughter’s nativity play watched and enjoyed, where Emily played the part of Mary, which she has been bursting to have forever.  Pantomine booked and to be watched in New Year at Newcastle Theatre Royal: Robin Hood with the fabulous father-son team of Clive Webb and Danny Adams. Lebkuchen from Schmidt & Co in Nuremburg ordered and received.  Treats from Forman & Field ordered and received.

I think I will just marzipan the cake now and try and stop worrying about it.

Wooden Crib Scene

Wooden Crib Scene

Beautiful German Biscuits From Lebkuchen Schmidt In Nuremburg

Beautiful German Biscuits From Lebkuchen Schmidt In Nuremburg

Forman & Field Box Of Christmas Food

Forman & Field Box Of Christmas Food

Food Blogs November 2010 (Part 2)

Friday, December 10th, 2010

At Mahanandi during November, Indira proposed a Telugu menu for Thanskgiving celebrations, which looks a good menu.

While at Not Without Salt, Ashley has been sweetening up her Thanskgiving with delicious Mock Almond Crunch biscuits that I might try for my daughter’s rearranged birthday party (she had chicken pox for the original date, so we had to cancel).  I love the toasted almonds to give the sweet bite that nutty crunch.  Then Ashley talks about dark days during November, happy snow days and Duckfest, a day for preparing ducks from slaughter to plate.

While at Orangette, Molly Wizenberg thinks she might have found her new favourite Chocolate Chip Cookie recipe and so I might need to also bake that for Emily’s birthday party.  I am always on the quest for a better chocolate chip cookie recipe, not that the one I currently use from Jane Fearnley-Whittingstall is bad, but this is one of those fab biscuits that just can be made in so many different ways.  A good chocolate chip cookie has a great balance of bitterness and sweetness and different textures coming from the biscuit and the chocolate.  Then Molly treats us to a great way to cook carrots with onions and thyme, which is a rare treat into the world of vegetable recipes.

At The Wednesday Chef, Luisa Weiss bakes a squash pie for a German-American Thanksgiving in Berlin and points us to a great video from The New York Times on making the perfect pie crust and links back to Orangette for a Chard, Onion, and Gruyère Panade from back in 2005.  Luisa, also, baked some Benne Wafers that in her words are “insanely good”.

While Ree Drummond at The Pioneer Woman Cooks puts us all to shame with the sheer volume of blogging she manages to do and cooking that she gets done.  Several recipes caught my eye, including: Green Bean Casserole which sounds a clever way to sneak in some veg past the kids (by the way it does include bacon so it is not vegetarian); Hard Sauce which is a Texan version of Brandy Butter using whiskey rather than brandy and used to scoop over puddings at Thanksgiving, especially apple pie and pumpkin pie; Bobby’s Pumpkin Bread Pudding With Vanilla Creme Anglaise per Bobby Flay; Parker House Rolls that are an essential bread for Thanksgiving.

At Wild Yeast, Susan explains to us why you cannot switch baker’s yeast for soudough starter in bread recipes and vice versa at Going Wild.  Then, there is a recipe for Cranberry Bread that was ideal for Thanskgiving 2010 (or future Thanksgivings) and a Caramel Cheesecake, which sounds great for two reasons: I like cheesecake; and I also was given cheesecake for my birthday cake also in November, so snap.  While at Bread Cetera, there is a recipe for Baguettes a la Bouabsa, which call for an immense 21 hour fermentation period; they are (Steve B says) brilliant and after that length of prep time, I should hope they are stupendous.

Elsewhere In Food Blogs (Part 1)

Wednesday, December 8th, 2010

At A Slice Of Cherry Pie, Julia Parsons has been enjoying creating with candelight with a warming goulash for a warming early November night, spiced with the gentle heat of smoked paprika, plus some meringues for pudding.  Then for a warm late November pudding, Julia made a delicious Orange and Stem Crumble, which is full of warming ginger (both as a spice and sweet stem ginger).

At Cannelle et Vanille, Aran Goyoaga made a colourful Creamy Potato and Celery Soup with  Purple Potato Crisps, where the purple coloured crisps have a frightening purple colour.  However, just look at the photos of amazing baking of cookies and meringues for Thanskgiving in mid November and Aran Pear, Apple and Fennel Salad with more Thanksgiving bakery.  I like the delicate nuttiness of the Pistachio Sandies and like baklava imagine that pistachio biscuits would work really well.

At Chocolate & Zucchini, we have a healthy sounding recipe for a Multigrain Starter Bread, which really helpfully refers back to Clothilde Dusoulier’s earlier recipe for Sourdough Starter Baguettes that is one of those great recipes that are so simple that it seems obvious and natural immediately you have read it.  Also, there is a reference to Bread cetera, the bread making blog by Steve B.  In Mid November, Clothilde posted a really healthy sounding Walnut And Date Cookie Recipe that sound wholesome.  While around Thanksgiving, there is a recipe for colourful Chunky Pumpkin Soup which sounds good; I must confess to generally not liking the sweetness and texture of pumpkin, however the addition of cumin and harissa may overcome that aversion for me.

Which neatly brings us on to Cooksister where Jeanne Horak-Druiff made a spicy Thai Spiced Roast Pumpkin Soup that might also satisfy my annual need for doing something useful and tasty with pumpkins, when you do not really like the texture or flavour of them in the first place.  I think I would chose to substitute the coconut milk for milk as I find that coconut milk can also be too sweet and would need to experiment with the type of Thai curry paste used, i.e. red, green or yellow Thai curry.  Then there is Jeanne simple (I like simple) Spicy Roasted Pumpkin Seed recipe that uses up the seeds that usually we just scoop out and throw onto the compost heap.

I tend to go for recipes and like bloggers that move with the seasons, obviously trying to take into account where they live, but normally quiche or salad recipes at -5C does little to appeal to me.  However, David Lebovitz’s recipe for Brown Bread Ice Cream is an exception to that rule (that is the key thing about rules, especially your own, they can be broken at will), as I have always been intrigued as how to make bread ice cream and David mentioned Grape Nuts Ice Cream, for which there is a link to the Yankee Magazine.  Now that is something that will be made next summer when the mercury rise to a sensible number.  During Autumn this year, I faffed about trying to get an apple cake that really worked, something that would bring back memories of lazy Kaffee und Kuchen in München aeons ago when I did a German language course there in the mid 1980s.  As usual, David bakes a much better cake than me and his recipe for French Apple Cake will be tried next autumn, or perhaps even earlier as I want to try and make the Bavarian classic Zwetschgen Dachi.  Then I like the idea of the herby floral flavour of Baked Rosemary Apricot Bars.

Shuna Fish at eggbeater has been going through the trials and tribulations of being a chef and writes a heart felt Eminem style poem “for cooks only; an unapology” that expresses the pain in the soul that being a cook can cause, and I love the piece “Put some gratitude in your attitude” as I hate being treated like the dirt on the bottom of a shoe as if I should be grateful for the business and doing business with XYZ with almost never a thank you but many a moan or grumble over zip.  Both blogs have put some light into what for me was a very low and hard November that tested my will to continue with Steenbergs.

Helen Best-Shaw at Fuss Free Flavours baked some gorgeous Soul Cakes for All Soul’s Day and mentions Sting playing at Durham cathedral accompanied by my favourite Northumbrian Pipes, a concert which I am sorry to have missed.  Helen reviews the famous Meat Wagon run by Yianni in London and blogs that his burgers truly are delicious.  I like the Chocolate & Ginger Cake With Brandy Cream, but would perhaps just serve with cream or ice cream being a non drinker.

While from Australia at Lemonpi, we have an intriguing Three Milk Cake and Peanut Butter Parfait With Brownie Salt, which also sounds weird and wonderful.