Tikka Potato Soup

Monday, 12 January 2009

I told you I'd be back with more soup! I couldn't resist. I made this Tikka Tattie Soup last night so that I've got some nutritious lunches that just need to be reheated this week. I wasn't sure whether I'd like the texture but I think it's okay. It's not as nice as the other soup I made but it was still good.

I think the addition of milk was interesting. It made for a creamier texture and the soup was very satisfying. Absolutely delicious.


Edible gifts: Fudge and Coconut Ice

Sunday, 11 January 2009

I love to give people home made treats as gifts. I like to be able to say "I made that" and I also like feedback from them too. I made small gift bags of treats for a few friends that came over on Christmas Eve. Along with a large chunk of the tea loaf featured in this post, they got small bags of chocolate fudge and coconut ice.

I love fudge. The chewy and sweet squares of extreme dairyness never fail to comfort me. Having done a little research it seems that in the US fudge is made with chocolate whereas over here in the UK fudge is generally flavoured with just a little vanilla or left plain. Scottish tablet is also plain in flavouring but doesn't have the chewyness of fudge. It's a crumbly sweet treat that is traditional and holds fond memories for many people.

This fudge is none of the above. It's a simple combination of icing sugar, cream cheese and chocolate and while it doesn't really resemble the dairy filled fudge of my dreams it is still quite delicious. It's very simple and this batch made enough for 5 small gift bags with a little left over.

Coconut ice evokes similar warm feelings within me. My dad loves coconut ice and it reminds me of him so much. This simple super-sweet confection has a good coconut flavour and a lot of texture from the coconut. It's really easy to make and again makes enough for about 5 small gift bags.

I found the following recipes in a book called "Chocolates and Sweets to Make" by Rebecca Gilpin. It's a kids book but that just makes things more fun!

Easy Chocolate Fudge

75g full-fat cream cheese
350g icing sugar
1tbsp cocoa powder
75g plain chocolate
40g butter

1. Grease and line a 15cm square tin with greaseproof paper.
2. Put the cream cheese into a bowl and sift in the icing sugar and cocoa. Mix together well (Note: this can tak a while but persevere!)
3. Melt the chocolate and butter together in a double boiler and stir in a tbsp of the cream cheese mixture.
4. Pour the chocolate into the the cheese mixture and beat them together until creamy.
5. Spoon the mixture into the tin and push it into the corners (you may need to use your fingers). Smooth with the back of a spoon and place in the fridge for 2 hours or until firm.
6. Turn the fudge onto a chopping board and cut into squares. Let the squares harden in the fridge for a further 2 hours and store in the fridge in an airtight container.

Coconut Ice

2 egg whites mixed from dried egg white (according to package instructionss)
450g icing sugar - sifted
175g desiccated coconut
4tsp water
Food colouring

1. Grease and line an 18cm tin with greaseproof paper.
2. In a large bowl, stir the egg whites with a fork until frothy. Stir in 2 tbsp of the sugar.
3. Add the rest of the sugar a little at a time until all combined.
4. Add the coconut and water and stir to mix everything well.
5. Spoon half the mixture into the prepared tin and press down with your fingers.
6. Add a few drops of food colouring inti the rest of the mixture in the bowl and stir until coloured evenly.
7. Spoon the dyed mixture on top of the white layer and leave to set overnight. Cut into squares and leave those to harden for two hours. Store in an airtight container.


Curried Root Vegetable Soup

Friday, 9 January 2009

Today I had a revelation. Today I realised that soup is good.

I know, I know, it's a ridiculous idea. Everyone knows that soup is good and hearty and healthy. As a child, I never really liked soup. I always liked my mum's chicken broth made from the boiled carcass but I never liked soup. Later I quite liked some shop bought carrot and coriander soups and the odd cup-a-soup would pass my lips but they don't really count.

I made my first soup today and it was delicious. It was very simple and after a call to my mum to check out exactly what I was doing (although I pretty much knew) I decided to just see what happened.

I had a friend on his way over and after checking that he liked soup (he did, luckily) I decided to make it. We stood in the kitchen chatting while I chopped up some vegetables and he stirred the pot from time to time. It was quite therapeutic to have good company in the kitchen as I do a lot of cooking alone.

The following recipe is very basic and pretty much relied on the stash of root veg I had at the bottom of my fridge. It is endlessly customisable and would taste good no matter what veg you have kicking about. It was very easy to make and took about 25 minutes to make.

1 large red onion - roughly chopped
1/2 a small swede - diced
2 carrots - cut into chunks
3 small parsnips - cut into chunks
2 generous teaspoons of madras curry paste
A knob of butter and a little oil.
1 generous litre of chicken or vegetable stock

1. In a large pan, place a bit of oil and a the butter and turn on the heat.
2. When the butter has melted, add the onion and swede and allow to soften slightly. Then add the rest of the vegetable and sweat them for a few minutes.
3. When the onions are are cooked through, add the stock to the pan followed by the curry paste.
4. Bring the soup to the boil and leave to simmer for around 20-25 minutes or until the vegetables are soft.
5. Blend the soup to your preferred consistency. Taste and season as necessary. Serve with bread and butter.

This was really delicious. There is still a good couple of servings in the pot and I cannot stop thinking about them. I'd happily go and eat the lot but I don't think I should. I think this is the start of a new love. This warm and smoothy soup had a nice spicy kick that lingered and added to the warming effect (most definitely needed at this time of year - it's freezing!). Look out for more soup recipes in future. This is certainly the first of many.


Christmas Cookie Recipes

Thursday, 8 January 2009

I was busy in the kitchen before Christmas so that I could pack and post boxes of treats for friends and family. I had a couple of disasters (that I blame on being on the verge of illness and NOT just being a bit rubbish) but generally things turned out really well.

I don't have any pictures of anything as I was busy making sure everything got posted out in time but I do have a few recipes for you. Everything got very good reviews from recipients.

I got the recipe for these Cranberry cookies here and they are amazing. I successfully froze the dough and defrosted it before cooking. They were absolutely delicious (a girl has to test her new recipes, right?), tasted very chocolatey and the little hint of spice really rounded them out well. I recommend these as an easy but delicious holiday treat.

I was trying to make Gingerbread men and found a recipe on Joy of Baking this recipe for gingerbread cookies but it just didn't work out for me. The dough was very soft and sticky despite adding extra flour...lots of extra flour. In the end I resorted to rolling these into balls, flattening slightly and baking for around 15 minutes in a moderate oven. They ended up being slightly cakey but still very good. The yummy treacle and ginger flavours make it taste very christmassy.

This recipe for Chocolate Chip Bars was from Cookie Madness but I made a few alterations. I used milk, white and dark chocolate chips, added some dessicated coconut and cooked it in a smaller pan so that they were more cake-like. They were really good and even my other half ate them and he's not a big cake eater. They're pretty easy to customise and add any of your favourite ingredients into the mix. They got good reviews from all who tasted them!


Cherry Chocolate Roulade - Alternative to Christmas Pudding

Saturday, 3 January 2009

We had my brother and his girlfriend over for Christmas this year and I spent some time planning the meal so that the shopping and cooking of it was as stress-free as possible. I decided against the traditional christmas pudding as I know that Al doesn't like it and I'm not a huge fan of having it straight after a big fat roast dinner. The house was already full of food and drink and so something a bit lighter than christmas pudding but still a bit special was necessary to round off the meal.

I eventually decided on a roulade. A roulade is made from a fat free sponge that is baked in a large, shallow pan. When cool, the filling is added (I chose whipped bream and a jar of cherries) and the sponge is rolled up like a swiss roll.

I'd never tried making this before (what is it with me and new recipes this christmas?) but I figured it wouldn't be too tough. I found a recipe that could be made ahead because, let's face it, who wants the hassle of dessert on Christmas day? The sponge was made on the 23rd December and filled on Christmas eve for us to enjoy on Christmas day.

And enjoy it we did! It was a bit of a hassle to roll but I think I should have maybe cooked it for a little bit longer. It was delicious though. Moist and chocolatey with a rich cream filling and juicy cherries. I'd definitely make this again but I'd probably make it for more people. I had to throw some of it away as it didn't all get eaten despite how yummy it was.

I used this recipe for the sponge cake and general idea. I left out the cherry conserve, swapped the kirsch for the syrup the cherries came in, didn't bother with the chocolate decorations and didn't dredge the finished product with icing sugar as it was already sweet enough.

For the sponge:
6 large eggs, separated
175g (6oz) caster sugar
200g (7oz) plain chocolate, melted
2-3 tbsp juice or syrup from the cherries

For the filling:
300ml double cream
1 jar or tin of cherries in juice or syrup
3-4 tbsp reserved juice or syrup.

1. Set the oven to gas mark 4 or 180°C.

2. To make the roulade, whisk together the egg yolks and sugar, until the mixture leaves a trail when the whisk is lifted out from mixture. Fold chocolate into the egg-yolk mixture. In a separate bowl, whisk the egg whites until stiff. Fold egg whites into the egg-yolk mixture, then turn out into the Swiss roll tin. Use a palette knife to spread the mixture out to the edges, taking care not to knock out too much of the air. Bake in the centre of the oven for 20-25 mins, until the mixture has set. Remove from oven and turn the roulade out on to a board that has a sheet of baking parchment on it. Leave the lining paper on the roulade sponge and then cover with a damp, clean tea-towel and leave to cool for at least 4 hrs, or overnight.

4. To make the filling, whisk the cream until it starts to form soft peaks and stir in the reserved syrup

5. Remove the tea towel and lining paper from the roulade sponge and brush the syrup over the surface. Then spread over the cream and then scatter over the cherries. Use the base sheet of baking parchment to help roll the roulade up from the longest side. Transfer roulade to a serving dish.


Loaf cake recipes

Friday, 2 January 2009

Okay so I'm going to start going through the backlog of recipes from the christmas period. I made a few gift packages of baked goods and bravely tried all new recipes. I had a lot of luck really and made my first real foray into loaf cakes.

I chose loaves as they're easy to fit into a box for shipping, tend to keep well, are easily customisable and are easy to make. This season I chose a traditional tea loaf and a chocolate banana bread. Absolutely delicious.

The tea loaf was from a recipe by Simon Rimmer. It's very easy but does require you to soak the fruit overnight and bake the cake the next day. I found the original recipe here [note: there is a mistake in that the recipe doesn't mention what to do with the sugar - I add it in with the flour etc.] but I made my own changes.

225g mixed dried fruit (chopped dates, raisins, sultanas, cranberries all work well)
300ml/½ pint tepid Earl Grey tea
250g/9oz self-raising flour
200g/7oz soft light brown sugar
1 free-range egg, beaten
1 tsp ground cinnamon
1 tsp freshly grated nutmeg

1. Place the dried fruit and tea into a large bowl. Cover the bowl with a clean cloth and leave to soak overnight.
2. The next day, preheat the oven to 175C/325F/Gas 3.
3. Add the flour, sugar, egg and spices to the bowl with the fruit and mix well.
4. Grease two 1lb loaf tins and carefully share the mixture equally between the two.
5. Transfer to the oven and bake for one and a quarter hours, or until a skewer inserted into the cake comes out clean.

It is suggested that this loaf be served with butter and jam but I find it moist and quite sweet enough without. It goes nicely with a cup of tea and a natter with friends. Feel free to use whatever fruit you like and spice according to your own tastes.

The second loaf cake I went for was a banana bread from Nigella. I had some bananas that were at the perfect banana bread stage (black skinned, soft and sweet) and I had someone in mind when making this one. I had seen this recipe mentioned on Dressing for Dinner and again it seemed like an easy one to customise as necessary. I left out the dried fruit and booze soaking (though I will soon try it with these steps left in) and added cocoa powder and a packet of chocolate chips as I had them sitting around.

This cake was delicious and moist and chocolatey. Seriously, it was amazing. You could taste the banana sweetness and the cocoa powder complimented this with a slightly bitter chocolate flavour. The chocolate chips were yummy in the way that chocolate chips always are. I used two 1lb loaf tins again and divided the batter between the two.

The recipe for this can be found here.

I think I have now decided that loaf cakes are the perfect sweet treat for sending to friends. I'm sure I will continue to make them in various combinations as they are endlessly variable.


Happy New Year

I'd like to take the time to wish you all a very happy new year. I hope you all had fun and celebrated in whatever way suited you. I was very boring and didn't do a thing this year. I was in bed by 11 feeling sorry for myself as I wasn't feeling well. Hey, it worked for me!

There's been a lot of talk about resolutions and generally I don't go in for such things. I do however have some blog related resolutions to share with you...

1. I would like to update more often and try to include some better photographs to go with the updates (though I'm not sure when the latter will happen)

2. I would like to include healthier recipes and make an effort to try low fat and low sugar baking.

3. I will make marshmallows this year!

4. I will be more adventurous with the food I eat and cook.

5. I will continue to be passionate about food and hopefully pass some inspiration on to you.


  © Blogger template On The Road by Ourblogtemplates.com 2009

Back to TOP