Tuesday, 25 March 2008

Easter Sunday

I hope all my blogger friends had a wonderful Easter weekend. Here are some pictures of the food I made on Easter Sunday when my in laws came for the day.

After viewing the Purple Sprouting Broccoli and Goats Cheese Tart on Jules blog, I knew this would be the perfect starter to my Easter Sunday menu. And I am thrilled to say it was, everyone loved it and my mother in law asked for the recipe! It was so easy to make, better than any shop-bought tart. I served some salad along-side the tart. Thanks Jules, for sharing this delicious recipe, I will definitely be making this again and again!

Every year we purchase our leg of lamb from a nice butchers called Wishbone. They are known for their rare breeds, their lambs are free range and where possible Salt Marsh Spring Lamb and sourced from only the best farmers in Wales. This year we bought a 3kg leg of lamb and hubby insists on preparing the leg and cooking it, that's his job every Easter. He rubs the lamb in a lemon, rosemary and garlic mix, and it is heavenly.

For dessert I made a Lemon Curd and Strawberry Trifle, a recipe I have made before and one I knew would finish the meal off wonderfully. This was another recipe my mother in law asked for. If anyone would like to re-create this yummy trifle, you can find the recipe here: Lemon Curd and Strawberry Trifle

I couldn't resist not making another Chocolate Guinness Cake, we just love this cake and I thought it would be wonderful decorated with mini chocolate eggs. My in laws really loved it and took a huge wedge of it home to have the following day!

Saturday, 22 March 2008

Lemon Meringue Cake

It wouldn't be Easter in our household without me baking this Lemon Meringue Cake, the recipe comes from Nigella Lawson's Feast Cookbook and has a wonderful section on Easter recipes. I love the light lemony sponge, with the crisp squashy meringue topping and then sandwiched with lemon curd and whipped cream. If you love Lemon Meringue Pie than you will love this cake. I have a friend over for dinner tonight and I will be serving this cake as dessert, alongside my home-made lemon curd ice cream.

Thursday, 20 March 2008

Chocca Mocca Caramel Easter Cake

Today’s second installment of Easter baking comprises of this chocolate caramel cake. The cake’s core ingredients are chocolate, coffee and Mars bars. It is a light chocolate cake that is studded with chewy caramel bits within. The icing is a Mars bar infused caramel delight. I have decorated the cake with a seasonal touch of sugar daffodils and chocolate mini eggs. If you’re interested in re-creating this wonderful Easter cake, the recipe can be found below.

Wednesday, 19 March 2008

Easter Biscuits

I am starting the Easter festivities with these Easter Biscuits, I’ve never made them up until today and I will definitely be making them again. The biscuits were so easy and quick to make, a lightly spiced, currant-studded, soft biscuit with a sugary crunch. These biscuits traditionally are served after church on Easter Sunday, and are presented in a bundle of three biscuits to represent the Holy Trinity. I will be serving mine with a pot of hot tea. The perfect mid-afternoon biscuit!

Easter Biscuits

Prep: 20 min Cook: 15 min
Makes 10-15

100g butter
80g caster sugar
1 egg yolk
150g plain flour
½ tsp baking powder
1tsp mixed spice
100g currants
1 extra tbsp caster sugar

To make the biscuits, heat the oven to 170C/Gas 3.

With an electric mixer, beat the butter and sugar until pale and fluffy. Beat in the egg yolk. Sift together the flour, baking powder and mixed spice.

Add the flour mixture to the butter mixture, mixing well with a knife. Mix in the currants, squishing the dough together and kneading briefly until smooth, allowing the warmth of your hands to soften it.

Roll out finely on a lightly floured bench (best done under a sheet of clingfilm) and cut into 6cm or 8cm rounds with a plain or fluted biscuit-cutter.

Place on a baking tray lined with greaseproof paper, and sprinkle with caster sugar. Bake for 12 to 15 min until just cooked, but not browned.

Carefully transfer to a wire rack — the biscuits should still be a little soft but will become crisp as they cool.

Monday, 17 March 2008

Peanut Butter Banana Cupcakes with Peanut Butter Frosting

I took this picture yesterday of my handsome Madison, staring out into the garden from the kitchen window.

Today I've decided to make some cupcakes, seems like ages since I last baked any. I had some ripe bananas in the fruit bowl and I remembered this recipe whilst browsing on Nicole’s Baking Bites Blog (one of my favourite blogs). These cupcakes are really scrumptious; the banana and peanut butter flavours compliment each other wonderfully and the sponge has a light fluffy texture. I finished off the cupcake with a peanut butter frosting to play up the peanut butter even more (my boys adore peanut butter, so they won’t complain).

Peanut Butter Banana Cupcakes Recipe

Friday, 14 March 2008

Chocolate Guinness Cake~St Paddy's Day Pub Crawl 2008 Blog Event!

I am entering my Chocolate Guinness Cake into the St Paddy's Day Pub Crawl 2008 event and contest. Emiline from Sugar Plum (a wonderful blog with lots of yummy treats) is hosting this fun event and it will run till Monday 17th March, so you still have time to enter and join in on the fun! Here is the link with all the details: St Paddy's Day Pub Crawl 2008

I have made this cake for every St Patrick's Day for the past few years and it's been a big hit with my family. I love the dense, damp moistness of this cake, with the added topping of dreamy creamy cheese icing. The recipe is from the wonderful book Feast by Nigella Lawson. My sponge didn’t come out as dark as it has done in the past but that was due to a lack of cocoa powder but I’m confident that it won’t deter my boys from eating their way through this cake with sheer delight!

Happy St Patrick's Day

This is the perfect cake to serve on St Patrick's Day.

Thursday, 13 March 2008

Another Award :o)

The lovely Ruth from Ruth's Kitchen Experiments has awarded me with "You make my day award". She is such a sweetie and I feel so special receiving this. If you haven't been over to her blog, please take the time and do so, she has a great blog! I'm going to be a rebel again and award this to everyone who takes time to visit my blog and leave such kind comments. You are all deserving of this award, as it makes my day when I come on to my blog and read all the comments and feedback all you lovely people post.
Please feel free to attach this award to your blog!
Thank you Ruth, you've made my day!

Granola Bars

Today I have baked some healthy tasty granola bars, mixed with honey, peanut butter, butter, vanilla extract and granola. Then baked in the oven for 10 to 15 minutes. They are very similar to Flapjacks but you use granola, which consists of rolled oats, fruit, nuts and honey. I have used shop bought granola but home-made granola would be great, next time I will use home-made. This recipe features in a cookbook that was sent to me this week from Patty, my dear friend in America. The book is a legacy of all her family and friends favourite recipes from years gone by, and also features a few of my favourite recipes which I have passed onto her during the years. These Granola Bars are the perfect pick me up snack!

Thank you Patty ;o)

Wednesday, 12 March 2008

Chocolate Peanut Butter Brownies

Yesterday I realised how I have spoilt my boys, when they asked if there was any baked goodies as they arrived home from school, work and were dissapointed to find none. But it's a good spoilt, because you cannot ask for anything better than home-made and watching your family enjoy your bakes. So this morning although I was feeling tired from lack of sleep I decided to bake my spoilt boys some Chocolate Peanut Butter Brownies which were quick and easy. These are really great, having baked them before I know they will go down very well and my lack of baking this week will be forgotten when the first bite is taken from these gorgeous moist brownies ;o)

Chocolate Peanut Butter Brownies

Makes 16
140g/5oz plain chocolate, chopped into small pieces
115g/4oz butter
225g/8oz caster sugar
170g/6oz plain flour
½ teaspoon baking powder
170g/6oz crunchy peanut butter
3 eggs, beaten
Heat the oven to 170C/325F/gas mark 3. Line a 20cm/8in square cake tin with baking parchment. Melt the chocolate, butter and sugar together over a low heat to combine. Do not allow to get too hot. Sift the flour and baking powder together into a large bowl. Mix the peanut butter into the chocolate mixture. Make a well in the centre of the flour. Incorporate the eggs and the chocolate mixture, using a whisk to beat out any floury lumps. Put into the prepared tin and spread flat. Bake for 20 minutes. The brownies are ready when they crust has set on the top but if you push a sharp knife into the centre there is still a little wet mixture left on it. Remove from the oven and allow to cool in the tin before cutting into squares.
Note: These brownies are better undercooked. If cooked for too long, they become very dry.

Friday, 7 March 2008

Raspberry and Almond Madeira Cake

At weekends I tend to bake a big affair of a cake, whether it be a chocolate cake or a layered cake with lashings of frosting. But considering I had baked the Chocolate Cake this week, I decided that I would opt for a simple cake for this weekend. Plus Easter is a few weeks away and we will be having chocolate coming out of our ears! I had some raspberries in the fridge, and I remembered a recipe in my Good Food 101 Cakes and Bakes I had book marked for the right occasion, which was today! This cake may be simple but let me tell you it is one gorgeous cake! The raspberries and almond are a wonderful pairing, with the added orange zest that brings out the flavours beautifully. The sponge is really moist, fluffy and with every bite you take you come across the crunchy crumbled almonds within. I’m not sure my son will go wild for this cake, his a typical teenager and prefers his chocolate cakes but he might surprise me yet! I know hubby will love it, but then again he loves everything I bake! His definitely my No1 fan ;o)

Chocolate Chip Pecan Blondies

It’s that time again when hubby informs me that I’ve been delegated to bake something for the badminton home match this evening. I really love being able to do this and any excuse to bake makes me happy. It also gives me the opportunity to try new recipes, I might as well get use of the lovely books I buy, rather than them sitting on the bookshelf looking pretty and gathering dust! As you all know this week I’ve enjoyed baking some nice treats from my new book, The Good Cookie by Tish Boyle, the book is full of page after page of amazing recipes, which makes you want to bake them all. So on my task to find a crowd pleaser, I came across the recipe for these Chocolate Chip Pecan Blondies and I thought this is just the thing, as it cuts up into bars and feeds a big crowd of hungry badminton players! As baker’s privileges, I get to be the first to sample the goods and these Blondies are wonderful, chewy on top, with a moist sponge that is bursting with flavour.

Do blondies have more fun? This blonde does ;o) And I have a feeling that the badminton players will be thinking blondes are definitely more fun, hehehe.

Thursday, 6 March 2008

Soft Baked Chocolate Chunk Cookies

Here is another cookie treat today, I'm definitely on a cookie kick at the moment and thoroughly enjoying it. Cookies are one of the fastest and easiest things to make and these were absolutely that. These Soft Baked Chocolate Chunk Cookies are for those of you who love soft and chewy, rather than crisp cookies. The secret to these soft baked cookies is to use melted instead of softened butter, which gives them that soft texture. These cookies are best served with a glass of ice cold milk!

Soft Baked Chocolate Chunk Cookies

2 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/2 baking soda
3/4 cup (1 1/2 sticks) unsalted butter, melted
1 cup of firmly packed light brown sugar
1/2 cup granulated sugar
2 large eggs
2 teaspoons vanilla extract
10 ounces bittersweet chocolate, cut into 1/4 inch pieces
2/3 cup walnuts, chopped (optional)

Preheat the oven to 350oF/160oC. Line 2 baking sheets with baking parchment.

In a medium bowl, whisk together the flour, salt and baking soda.

In a large bowl, whisk the melted butter and sugar. Whisk in the eggs, one at a time, until well blended. Whisk in the vanilla. Using a wooden spoon, stir in the dry ingredients until combined. Stir in the chocolate and walnuts (if using).

Using an ice cream scoop or a spoon, drop the dough onto the prepared baking sheets, spacing them 2 inches apart. Bake for 15 to 18 minutes (but check them after 9 to 12 minutes), until the cookies are just brown around the edges. The centre of the cookies should be soft and slightly puffy. Let the cookies cool completely on the baking sheets or a wire rack.

The recipe is from The Good Cookie by Tish Boyle

Wednesday, 5 March 2008

Classic Vanilla Sugar Cookies

These cookies are an all time American favourite, a recipe I have come across in various cookie books I own. Yesterday I received two books from amazon, one of them being The Good Cookie by Tish Boyle, the recipe for Vanilla Sugar Cookies also features in the book. I decided that I wasn't going to wait a minute longer to bake up these babies, plus I also have the perfect excuse, my son has some friends coming over after school today for a session of Halo on Xbox live, and I know they will go down a treat. Where do I begin to describe how gorgeous these cookies are? They have the most wonderfully tender texture, with the added crunchy exterior from the sprinkled coarse sugar on top. I will definitely be making them over and over again!

Mmm! Melt-in-your-mouth sugar cookies.

Monday, 3 March 2008

Old-Fashioned Chocolate Cake

This morning my Delicious Magazine arrived and I couldn’t wait to have a good read and look through, so once I had done my work-out, and house chores I sat down with a cuppa and began flicking through. This month’s edition has a spectacular 20-page special on Chocolate, from cakes to decadent desserts. Nigella Lawson features some of her chocolate cakes and I came across her much loved Old-Fashioned Chocolate Cake which I’ve made many times. Subsequently I had some sour cream in the fridge that needed using ASAP and I thought this is the perfect excuse to bake up this wonderfully delicious cake again! This is the ultimate luscious cake and for those of you who have not had the pleasure of having this cake grace your lips and mouth, then all I can say is you’re missing out on something heavenly. I don’t normally make a big affair of a cake during the week, unless there is a special occasion but I couldn’t resist and I blame Delicious magazine for tempting me first thing on a Monday morning ;o) How dare they, eh? hehehe. I know a 15 yr old boy called Jake who is going to be chomping into this the minute he gets back from school.

Sunday, 2 March 2008

Mother's Day gifts and Chocolate Tart

This morning I was awoken by my 15 year old son with breakfast in bed, made by him. He also surprised me with a really cute Mother's Day card, beautiful flowers, a ceramic cupcake trinket box and a heart printed 'Tea For One' Teapot & Mug. Hubby reminded me that today was Mother's Day and I was to do nothing but sit back, relax and enjoy. I have to say this task sounds easier said than done, (especially when your a full-time domestic goddess, mother and wife) I kept going to do things and being told off as I am "not supposed to do anything today!" My son and hubby are cooking a Sunday roast for dinner, and as much as I wanted to stick with the rules of not lifting a finger, my love of baking took over and I had to at least make dessert. I decided to make something quick and easy and made one of Delia's cheat recipes from her new book. I opted for a Chocolate Tart, on which I was a little heavy-handed with the cocoa dusting :o) oh well! I am sure it's going to taste delish with it's all-butter pastry and chocolate truffle filling, served along-side crème fraîche and blackberries.

Happy Mother's Day to all you "yummy mummies"