Thursday, 18 March 2010

Banana and Apple Cinnamon Muffins

I can’t believe I am moving next week and I’m still baking away. All my baking tins have been packed away in boxes but I made sure I left out 1 muffin tin and an extra mixing bowl. I think baking has been a therapeutic way for me in dealing with the stress of the move looming. The cake tin is yet again empty; those Chocolate Guinness cupcakes were too good to last. So I decided to make use of some bananas and apples in my fruit bowl and make up these quick and easy muffins. This is originally a recipe for banana muffins that I have done many times before. However this time I thought I’d throw some chopped apple into the mix. The apple works perfectly with this recipe, providing you with a moist sponge with nuggets of succulent juicy apple throughout. Perfect for snacking at any time of the day! At the bottom of this post I've added a pic I took lastnight of my gorgeous cat Madison, here he is laying on his blanket on his back and what I can only imagine is dreaming of being supercat, his tooooo cute!

Banana and Apple Cinnamon Muffins

3 very ripe bananas
125ml vegetable oil
2 eggs
250g plain flour
100g caster sugar
½ teaspoon bicarbonate of soda
1 teaspoon baking powder
½ teaspoon cinnamon
2 eating apples, cored, peeled and cubed

Preheat the oven to 200ºC/180ºC fan oven/gas mark 6 and line a 12-bun muffin tin with muffin papers.

Mash the bananas and set aside for a moment. Pour the oil into a jug and beat in the eggs. Put the flour, sugar, bicarbonate of soda and baking powder and cinnamon into a large bowl and mix in the beaten-egg-and-oil mixture, followed by the mashed bananas. Fold in the chopped apples and then place equal quantities in the prepared muffin tin and bake in the oven for 20 minutes. Cool in the tin for 5 minutes before removing to cool completely on a wire rack.

Wednesday, 17 March 2010

Cottage Pie with Guinness

I hope you all had a great St Paddy’s Day and went easy on the black stuff. Unfortunately for me the Chocolate Guinness Cupcakes proved too much temptation and I caved in but it was utterly worth it (back to the diet today)! To continue the celebrations and Guinness theme I made this recipe for dinner, Cottage Pie with Guinness. I came across this recipe by Gordan Ramsey on Google and I’m not usually a fan of his recipes but this sounded delicious, plus adding Guinness to the pie intrigued me. It turned out to be amazing, it tasted just like you would want a cottage pie to taste, full of flavour! I did adapt the recipe and added carrots and celery, only because I thought it lacked the vegetables required. My son had his friend over for dinner and there wasn’t a scrap left on none of our plates. Hubby was pleased to see there was left-over’s for him to take to work for his lunch today. This recipe for Cottage Pie is definitely a keeper and one I would recommend you try!

Cottage Pie with Guinness

2 tbsp olive oil
900g lean minced beef
Sea salt and black pepper
1 medium onions, peeled and finely chopped
2 garlic cloves, peeled and finely chopped
2 carrots, peeled and diced
2 celery sticks, diced
A few thyme sprigs, leaves only
2 tbsp tomato puree
330ml bottle of Guinness
5 tbsp Worcestershire sauce
300ml chicken stock
1kg floury potatoes, such as Maris Piper or King Edward, peeled and roughly cubed
50g butter
2 tbsp finely grated cheddar cheese, plus extra for grating
1 large egg yolk

Place a large frying pan over a high heat and add a thin layer of olive oil. Season the mince with salt and pepper and fry, stirring, in two or three batches, until nicely browned. Once cooked, tip the mince into a sieve or colander to drain off the fat.

Place another large pan over a medium-high heat and add a little olive oil. When hot, fry the onions, carrots, celery, garlic and thyme, for 8-10 minutes until soft and golden. Add the browned mince, and tomato puree. Stir constantly for 4-5 minutes.

Add the Guinness and Worcestershire sauce and boil until the liquid has reduced by half. Pour in the stock and return to the boil.

Turn the heat down and simmer for 20-25 minutes, by which time the mixture should be thick and glossy. Continue to simmer for another 5-10 minutes if it doesn’t seem quite thick enough. Remove from the heat.

Preheat the oven to 180°C/Gas 4. Meanwhile, add the potatoes to a pan of salted water, bring to the boil and cook until tender. Drain and return to the hot pan for 15 seconds or so, to dry out, then take off the heat. Pass the potatoes through a potato ricer back into the pan or mash smoothly. Mix through the butter, cheese and egg yolk. Taste and adjust the seasoning.

Spoon the mince mixture into the bottom of a 2 litre pie dish. Spoon the mashed potato on top and rough up the surface with a fork. Grate over some extra cheese and bake in the oven for about 30 minutes until bubbling and golden brown.

Chocolate Guinness Cupcakes

I could never celebrate St Patrick’s Day without this heavenly Chocolate Guinness Cake recipe but this year I decided to make cupcakes instead. I’ve been making this recipe for years now and it’s definitely one I will bake for many more years to come. In our house this is in our top 10 list of favourite cakes and one my boys and I love eating! These dark cupcakes have a dense, moist sponge that oozes the flavour of the chocolate and subtle undertones resonating from the Guinness. The frothy topped pint of Guinness is replicated here with the creamy exuberance of cream cheese frosting. My hubby is taking some into the office today to share with his co-workers, that should keep them happy and fatter than me (yep I’m back on Weight Watchers, so none for me, boo hoo). Wishing everyone a Happy St Patrick’s Day!!

Happy St Patrick's Day!!

Chocolate Guinness Cupcakes

Makes 24


For the cupcakes
250ml Guinness
250g unsalted butter, cut into pieces
75g cocoa
400g caster sugar
142ml sour cream
2 eggs
1 tbsp vanilla extract
275g plain flour
2 ½ tsp bicarbonate of soda

For the topping
300g Philadelphia cream cheese
150g icing sugar
125ml double or whipping cream

Preheat the oven to gas mark 4/180˚C/fan oven 160˚C. Line 2 muffin tins with muffin paper cases.

Start by pouring the Guinness into a large, wide saucepan and add the butter; heat until the butter's melted, at which time you should whisk in the cocoa and sugar. Beat the sour cream with eggs and vanilla and then pour in the pan of brown, buttery, beer and finally whisk in the flour and bicarbonate of soda.

Pour the batter into the muffin cases ¾ of the way up and bake for 18 to 20 minutes. Leave to cool in the tins for 20 minutes and then cool completely on a cooling rack.

When the cupcakes are cold get on with the icing. Lightly whip the cream cheese until smooth, sieve over the icing sugar and then beat them both together. Add the cream and beat again until it makes a spreadable consistency.

Ice the top of the black cupcakes so that it resembles the frothy top of the famous pint. Sprinkle with shamrock sprinkles or green glitter or sugar (optional).

Sunday, 14 March 2010

Lemon and Elderflower Cupcakes

It’s Mother’s Day in the UK today and I want to wish all my fellow yummy mummies a very Happy Mother’s Day! I awoke to the perfect start with breakfast in bed made by my gorgeous son, a card and Gizzi’s Kitchen Magic Cookbook, whoop whoop. I'm in ♥ with this book and I even got a message on my Twitter from the lovely Gizzi herself wishing me a Happy Mother's Day, how cool is that? My boys are cooking a Roast Beef dinner with all the trimmings and I’ve been told I’m not to lift a finger today but I could not help myself and ended up in the kitchen doing what I enjoy most, baking. I had the perfect cupcake recipe in mind to celebrate Mother’s Day and also the arrival of spring, Lemon and Elderflower Cupcakes. These luscious, lemony delights have a super light fluffy texture and topped with the elderflower icing these are truly yummylicious.

Happy Mother's Day!

Lemon and Elderflower Cupcakes

Makes 12

200g plain flour
2 tsp baking powder
225g granulated sugar
45g ground almonds
Finely grated zest of 1 unwaxed lemon
2 large eggs
90ml sunflower oil
250ml low-fat Greek Yoghurt (I used non-fat)
½ tbsp lemon essence

For the icing
225g icing sugar
1 tsp elderflower cordial
4 tsp water

Preheat the oven to 180oC/fan 160oC/gas 4. Line a 12-hole non-stick muffin tin with paper muffin cases.

Sift the flour and baking powder into a large bowl. Sprinkle over the sugar and ground almonds, followed by the grated lemon zest, and mix everything together.

In a separate bowl, lightly beat the eggs with the oil and Greek yoghurt. Add the lemon essence.

Slowly pour the wet ingredients into the dry and stir with a wooden spoon. Mix until everything is combined and there are no clumps of dry ingredients.

Spoon the mixture into the paper cases so that they are three-quarters full. Bake the cakes in the centre of the preheated oven for about 20 minutes until they are firm and springy to the touch. Remove from the oven and place the cakes on a wire rack to cool.

To make the icing, sift the icing sugar into a medium-sized bowl. Add the elderflower cordial and water a little at a time to achieve a thick, creamy consistency.

When the cakes are cool, spoon a tablespoon of icing onto each one. Serve plain or decorate with little sugar flowers or thin shavings of lemon rind.

The gorgeous golden cupcakes cooling before being decorated.

Saturday, 13 March 2010

Thai Red Salmon Curry

I'm moving house in a week and have been busy packing. I can't wait for this to be over, moving is a nightmare but I'm excited and looking forward to be moving into my new home. The last thing I want to be doing at this moment is spending too much time cooking, so quick easy meals are a must. Yesterday whilst leaving Waitrose I spotted one of their free recipe cards for Thai Red Salmon Curry. It not only looked delicious but it was just the kind of quick meal I am able to do right now. I cooked this for hubby and I and it was the perfect end to a busy day. This curry is mild, yet has depth of flavour that comes from the combination of all the wonderful ingredients. I will definitely be making this again!

Thai Red Salmon Curry

Serves 2

100g Le Puy Green Lentils
1 tbsp sunflower oil
100g green beans, topped, tailed and halved
1 red pepper, deseeded and sliced
2 Salmon Fillets, skinned and cubed
100g jar Thai Red Curry Paste
½ x 400ml can Coconut Milk
½ x 20g pack fresh coriander, chopped
½ x bunch salad onions, thinly sliced

Rinse the lentils and place in a medium-sized pan, generously covered with water. Bring to the boil and simmer for 15–20 minutes until just tender. Meanwhile, heat the oil in a heavy-based pan and add the beans and pepper. Cook for 2 minutes, then add the salmon and stir together for 1 minute.

Stir in the curry paste and cook for 1 minute. Add the coconut milk and simmer gently for 4–5 minutes until the salmon is cooked through. Add the drained lentils, then scatter with the sliced salad onions and coriander. Serve with steamed rice

Monday, 8 March 2010

Peanut Butter Dips

I love it when the postman knocks, normally means an amazon package or some other goodie has arrived! This morning I was the lucky recipient of my latest amazon binge, Eat Me! The Stupendous, Self-Raising World of Cupcakes & Bakes according to Cookie Girl. I knew I would love this kitsch girly book, the recipes are irresistible and I want to bake them all. I couldn’t wait to get started and loved the sound of these Peanut Butter Dips so decided to bake them straight away. These cookies are seriously moreish with the slight saltiness of the crumbly peanut butter and the combination of sweet chocolate but would be just as amazing without the chocolate. The success of this first one has me excited to bake more recipes from the book.

Cookies before being dipped in chocolate!

Peanut Butter Dips

Makes 20

110g unsalted butter, room temperature
225g Demerara sugar
1 medium egg
4 tbsp crunchy peanut butter
200g plain flour
1 tsp baking powder
110g plain chocolate, for dipping

Preheat the oven to 180oC/fan 160oC/gas 4. You will need a large baking sheet.

Cream the butter and sugar together until light and fluffy. Add the egg, stir in the peanut butter and then the flour and baking powder.

Roll the mixture into balls the size of large walnuts and place them 5cm/2in apart on a baking sheet. Bake for 12 minutes in the preheated oven. The cookies will look like they are not cooked, but don’t worry – they will carry on cooking as they cool.

While the cookies are in the oven, melt the chocolate in a bowl over a pan of simmering water or in the microwave for 90 seconds. Using a palette knife, spread one side of the cookies with chocolate and place them on a wire rack to set.

Sunday, 7 March 2010

Nutella Pound Cake

You can probably relate to this but you know when you come across a recipe and think, oh my gosh that sounds amazing, that’s exactly what I thought when I saw this recipe for Nutella Pound Cake. Could anything sound better? Especially for those of us who adore Nutella and like myself are guilty of eating it out of the jar with a spoon. The eager and excited baker in me couldn’t wait to make this cake and went into town just to buy the key ingredient, Nutella.

Unfortnately my much excitement was soon diminished when after adding the layers of batter and Nutella I realised there was way too much mixture for the size pan the recipe gives but it was too late to remedy. Of course as expected the mixture over-flowed. My next incident came when it was time to turn out the cake and half was left in the pan. Luckily I was able to rescue the half from the pan in one piece and do some first aid patch work. Unbelievably I read online about others having similar problem with this recipe and someone had posted about using grease-proof paper to bandage her cake while it cooled and it amazingly reattached the two halves. At this stage I was willing to give anything a go to salvage my cake and guess what? It worked!!

I won’t be defeated and I will be making this cake again but next time I will use my bigger loaf tin and also line the loaf pan. After its traumatic start this moist buttery cake swirled with luscious Nutella really delivered everything I imagined it would and more. The pics don't do the flavour or cake justice but we all have the odd baking disaster, you bake and learn!

Nutella Pound Cake

1 ½ cups all-purpose flour, plus more for dusting
4 large eggs, at room temperature
2 teaspoons pure vanilla extract
¾ teaspoon baking powder
¼ teaspoon salt
2 sticks unsalted butter, softened
1 ¼ cups sugar
One 13-ounce jar Nutella

Preheat the oven to 325°. Lightly grease and flour a 9-by-5-inch loaf pan, tapping out any excess flour. In a glass measuring cup, lightly beat the eggs with the vanilla. In a medium bowl, whisk the 1 1/2 cups of flour with the baking powder and salt.

In a large bowl, using a handheld mixer, beat the butter with the sugar at medium-high speed until fluffy, about 3 minutes. With the mixer at medium-low speed, gradually beat in the egg mixture until fully incorporated. Add the flour mixture in 3 batches, beating at low speed between additions until just incorporated. Continue to beat for 30 seconds longer.

Spread one-third of the batter in the prepared pan, then spread half of the Nutella on top. Repeat with another third of the batter and the remaining Nutella. Top with the remaining batter. Lightly swirl the Nutella into the batter with a butter knife. Do not overmix.

Bake the cake for about 1 hour and 15 minutes, until a toothpick inserted in the centre comes out clean. Let the cake cool in the pan for 15 minutes. Invert the cake onto a wire rack, turn it right side up and let cool completely, about 2 hours. Cut the cake into slices and serve.

Thursday, 4 March 2010

Anzac Biscuits

I’ve always wanted to make these Anzac biscuits and today I decided to make them and restock the cake tin (yes the brownies are all gone). These iconic biscuits were originally made by women during World War I and sent to the ANZACs (Australian and New Zealand Army Corps) serving in Gallipoli. These popular sweet biscuits are crunchy and chewy, and made using rolled oats, flour, coconut, sugar, butter, golden syrup, bicarbonate of soda and boiling water. They are traditionally eaten on April 25th, which is Anzac Day but I could easily eat these all year round. I have a feeling they won’t last long and the cake tin will have to be restocked come the weekend!

Anzac Biscuits

Makes 20

85g porridge oats
85g desiccated coconut
100g plain flour
100g caster sugar
100g butter, plus extra butter for greasing
1 tbsp golden syrup
1 tsp bicarbonate of soda

Heat oven to 180C/fan 160C/gas 4. Put the oats, coconut, flour and sugar in a bowl. Melt the butter in a small pan and stir in the golden syrup. Add the bicarbonate of soda to 2 tbsp boiling water, then stir into the golden syrup and butter mixture.
Make a well in the middle of the dry ingredients and pour in the butter and golden syrup mixture. Stir gently to incorporate the dry ingredients.
Put dessertspoonfuls of the mixture on to buttered baking sheets, about 2.5cm/1in apart to allow room for spreading. Bake in batches for 8-10 mins until golden. Transfer to a wire rack to cool.

Wednesday, 3 March 2010

Fudgy Coconut Brownies

The cake tin has been empty since yesterday; hubby ate the last of the Fruit Tea Loaf. Time to replenish! I was flicking through this month’s Good Food Magazine and came across these Fudgy Coconut Brownies which immediately caught my eye and had my mouth watering. My all time favourite brownies are the Snow-Flecked Brownies by Nigella Lawson and after baking these today I have to say they come a close second. These dense, fudgy and gooey brownies also deliver a chewy consistency when you meet the flecks of coconut scattered through-out. Perfect midnight feast treat, a la Nigella.

Fudgy Coconut Brownies

100g cocoa
250g butter
500g golden caster sugar (I used light brown sugar)
4 eggs, beaten
100g self-raising flour
100g dessicated coconut
icing sugar, to dust (optional)

Heat the oven to 180oC/fan 160oC/gas 4. Line the base of a 21cm square tin with baking parchment. Put the cocoa, butter and sugar in your largest saucepan and gently melt, stirring so the mixture doesn't catch. When the cocoa mixture is metled and combined, cool slightly, then stir in the eggs, little by little, followed by the flour and cocoa.

Tip into the tin and bake for 45 mins on a middle shelf - check after 30 mins and cover with another piece of baking parchment if the crust is browning too much. Cool in the tin, then carefully lift out and cut into squares. Dust with icing sugar.

Recipe source from Good Food Magazine ~April 2010

Tuesday, 2 March 2010

Tomato and Prawn Spaghetti

Pasta is always a favourite comfort food for my family and me; it’s quick and easy to cook and always tastes good. This simple but delightful Tomato and Prawn Spaghetti is one of my own recipes that I cook when I want a quick meal during the week. It has so many flavours, is low in fat and perfect if like me you are trying to lose some weight!

Tomato and Prawn Spaghetti
Serves 4

1 tablespoon olive oil
2 garlic cloves, crushed
240g tiger prawns, peeled
splash of white wine
400g can chopped tomatoes
1 teaspoon crushed chilli flakes
salt and pepper
spaghetti or pasta of choice

Heat the olive oil in a large pan and cook the crushed garlic for a few mins at a gentle heat. Add prawns and a splash of white wine and cook for a further few mins. Add the tomatoes, crushed chilli flakes, salt and pepper and simmer for 10 mins. Boil pasta according to packet instructions, drain and add to the tomato sauce and serve.

Monday, 1 March 2010

Fruit Tea Loaf

What could be better than a thick slice of buttered fruit tea loaf with your cup of tea? This traditional teatime favourite is really easy to make, moist and full of flavour. I’ve made this recipe countless times and it will always remain a firm favourite in our home, especially with my hubby!

Fruit Tea Loaf

Makes approx. 10 slices
1 x 250ml cup tea
375g mixed dried fruit
125g dark brown sugar
250g plain flour
1 teaspoon baking powder
½ teaspoon bicarbonate of soda
pinch of ground cloves
1 egg

Make the cup of black tea (just using a tea bag), and pour it into a bowl with the dried fruits and sugar; stir well, then leave to macerate overnight.

Preheat the oven to 170oC/fan oven 150oC/ gas 3. Line a 900g loaf tin with a paper liner or butter the tin and line the bottom with baking parchment.

Beat the flour, baking powder, bicarbonate of soda and cloves into the tea-soaked fruit, and then beat in the egg. Spoon and scrape into the lined loaf tin, and bake for 1 hour - or until cooked - before letting the cake cool it its tin on a rack.

Recipe from Feast by Nigella Lawson