Real fudge

Monday, 23 February 2009

I've messed around with fudge making in the last few months. So far I've only made faux fudge using things like cream cheese or marshmallows to get the soft texture. This time I thought I should try it the proper way. I picked up a new bottle of milk on my way past the shop and decided to just get on with it.

The recipe I used was from James Martin. The only ingredients are milk, sugar, butter and vanilla with a little oil for greasing. I also planned to use my brand new sugar thermometer that I got for christmas but it didn't quite work out. My pan wasn't tall enough for it to be clipped to the edge so we tried to hold it at an angle into the liquid. The marker still wasn't covered so we used the trusty water method to gauge the stage the sugar was upto. It seemed to work well but I think I could have left it a few more minutes to be sure. Mine was a lot paler than in the picture on the website.

The finished result is delicious. It's very sweet and smooth with a nice vanilla flavour. I'm tempted to dip some of them into chocolate too. I sent some of these to my brother and am looking forward to finding out what he thinks of them (he loves fudge).


Coconut cake

Thursday, 19 February 2009

It's not often that Al says that he fancies a bit of cake. He's not a cake eater in general and doesn't really request baked goods either. I was quite surprised when he said that he wanted some cake but, so as not to lose a chance to bake, I passed him a recipe book and got him to choose what he wanted. Coconut cake.

It was a simple coconut sponge with a buttercream on top and in between. It was very easy to make and meant that I could purchase some new sandwich tins (my old ones are rubbish!). The recipe said that you should mix the ingredients in a food processor but I don't have one. My trusty hand mixer with normal beater attachments seemed to do the job very well. We also missed out the raspberry jam filling as we didn't have any. Al thought that cherry jam might be nice next time.

175g/6oz softened butter
175g/6oz caster sugar
175g/6oz self raising flour
1 1/2 tsp baking powder
3 eggs, beaten
50g/2oz dessicated coconut
2tbsp coconut cream or single cream (I used milk as it's all I had to hand)

For the buttercream
280g/10oz icing sugar
100g/4oz softened butter
3tbsp coconut cream or single cream (I used milk again...)
1-2 tsps of vanilla extract
5 tbsp raspberry (or cherry) jam

Preheat the oven to 180C. Butter and line the base of two 20cm/8inch sandwich tins with greaseproof paper.
Mix the butter, sugar, flour, baking powder and eggs in a food processor for 2-3 minutes until smooth. Gently stir in the coconut and cream.
Divide the mixture between the two tins and smooth the tops. Bake for 20-25 minutes until evenly golden and firm. Loosen the edges and leave the tins to cool for 5 minutes and then transfer onto a wire rack to cool. Peel off the lining paper.
To make the buttercream; beat together all the ingredients unbtil smooth. Spread one sponge with the jam and the other with just under half of the buttercream and sandwich together. Spread the rest of the buttercream onto the top of the cake and enjoy.

This recipe is from the BBC Good Food magazine book 101 Cakes and Bakes.



Wednesday, 18 February 2009

We were going to have lasagne. I'd made the meat sauce and preheated the oven and got a baking dish from the cupboard. We had no lasagne sheets. Back up plan was cannelloni and it was delicious.

It was also really simple and quite low in fat. Next time I'd use less white sauce, maybe 350ml rather than 500 and maybe add a little chilli to give the meat sauce a boost. It could maybe have taken a little more seasoning too.

All I did was chop an onion and a handful of mushrooms and sweated them off in a pan with some dried mixed herbs. I then browned about 500g extra lean mince, added some worcester sauce and some seasoning. Once the mince was browned I added a tin of tomatoes and a handful of sweetcorn. I reduced the liquid down to avoid having a sauce that was too watery.

The white sauce was a cheats version really. I normally make it with a roux but as I'm slimming I needed a slightly healthier version. I boiled up about 500ml of milk (though I'd suggest using less than that) and added a couple of dessert spoons of cornflour and stirred until it thickened. I seasoned it with black pepper and worcester sauce and added in about 50 grams of cheddar cheese. I also stuck a handful of spinach in there to make it a bit more interesting.

I filled dried cannelloni tubes with the meat sauce and poured the extra meat on top. I then poured the white sauce on top of that and added a tiny bit more cheddar cheese to melt on top. It was baked in the over for about 20-25 minutes (until the pasta is cooked through) at 180C.

We had ours on it's own but it'd be nice with a salad or some steamed vegetables.


Bulgar stuffed peppers

Monday, 9 February 2009

I was eating alone last night. Al had a very late lunch and was intending to just pick through his leftovers later. I on the other hand needed sustenance. As Al wasn't eating with me it gave me the chance to make something using ingredients he doesn't eat! Cunning, hey?

I had some bell peppers in the fridge and decided that stuffed peppers would be the way forward. I chose a vegetarian meal as it fits in nicely with my diet at the moment and I had plenty of veg sitting in the fridge waiting to be used up. This can easily be adapted to suit your own tastes and whatever veg you have in the fridge.

4 large bell peppers
4 tbsp cottage cheese
1 onion finely chopped
2 cloves of garlic
1/4 of a butternut squash finely chopped
6 or 7 chestnut mushrooms finely chopped
100ml vegetable stock
1/2 a tin of chopped tomatoes
A handful of bulgar wheat
A handful of spinach

1.Preheat the oven to 180C, cut the tops off the peppers and retain them. Remove any seeds and membrane from inside. Place the hollowed peppers in a baking dish and place a tbsp of cottage cheese in each.

2. In a saucepan, sweat the onions and garlic in a little oil until soft but not browned. Add the squash and mushrooms and sweat those off too.

3. Add the tomatoes and a little vegetable stock and bring to the boil. Stir in the bulgar wheat and allow to simmer for around 10-15 minutes until the wheat is cooked and the liquid has reduced. Stir in the spinach until wilted.

4. Pack the mixture into the peppers (I like to grate on a little cheddar cheese here). Put the tops on the peppers and bake in the oven for around 25-30 minutes or until the peppers have softened.

I had two peppers on their own and found them very filling. You could always serve these with salad and some grilled chicken if you're not vegetarian. As mentioned above, this recipe is endlessly customisable.


Crustless low fat quiche

Monday, 2 February 2009

I really love quiche. It's so hearty and is endlessly adaptable but unfortunately it's not great for a slimmer's waistline! We recently tried out this recipe which is based around Slimming World and their rules for food. I tend to eyeball the ingredients based around the size of the dish I'm using but the basic recipe is as follows:

3 eggs
1 tub of cottage cheese
1 onion
1 clove of garlic (crushed)
A little cheddar (grated)
Fillings of your choice - mushrooms, courgettes, spinach, sausages (I've used veggie ones before too), basically anything that goes in a quiche...

In a frying pan, fry the onion, garlic and other fillings that need to be cooked.
In a large bowl, gently beat the eggs and add the cottage cheese, season with salt and pepper.
Add the ingredients from the pan into the egg misture and mix well. Pour into a baking dish (I use a ceramic casserole dish). Sprinkle the cheddar over the top and place in the oven at 180-200C until set (around 25 minutes depending on the size of the dish).


I should spend a day stapled to this blog...

Life has once again pulled me away from the blog. It's becoming something of a common occurence. I've been cooking lots of low-fat meals recently as I've decided I need to lose weight. I'll be posting some recipes in the next few days and will try and get back on top of everything.

I think I've covered everything about Christmas now apart from my christmas cakes. Unfortunately, I've not been able to get an cake pictures yet but they will arrive later this month. The cakes are delicious though!


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