Tasty Morsels

Monday, 29 June 2009

Well the hot weather is well and truly here. It's so hot here and it's meant to get hotter as the week goes on! I've decided that while I prepare my next update I'll point you in the direction of some summery treats that other people have been blogging about.

Nicole at Baking Bites has some delicious Chocolate dipped ice cream cream puffs. They look divine and am sure hey taste even better!

Deb at Smitten Kitchen has a lovely looking horseradish potato salad that would work excellently as a side dish at a barbecue.

The Vegan Visitor made a lovely summery soup from radish greens.

Ian at Food From 4 has a delicious looking lemon mousse recipe that would be a perfect al fresco pudding (assuming it doesn't rain!)

So enjoy your summer and feel free to link me to any delicious summery recipes you find.


Vegan Chocolate and Coconut Cupcakes

Tuesday, 23 June 2009

I've been wanting to get into vegan baking for a while. I have no experience of it really but it looked simple enough and had seen loads of promising reviews of vegan recipes. I have a couple of friends who are vegan/strict vegetarian and so I thought I'd help them out and find some recipes that they could appreciate. I must say I had my doubts as I was mixing the cake batter as it looked really wet but they actually came out a treat.

I bought myself the vegan cupcake book that has been doing the rounds; Vegan Cupcakes Take Over The World. It's a cute little book with loads of recipes for all kinds of cupcakes and frostings with no animal products. The recipes seem easy to follow and while some contain ingredients you may not have lying around, plenty of them use everyday ingredients or are easy to modify to fit what you have in the cupboards. I actually modified the recipe for these cupcakes as I didn't have a couple of things and they still came out wonderfully. The cupcakes were moist and store really well in an airtight container for several days.

This recipe is based on the Toasted Coconut Cupcakes from VCTOTW book but I will post it here as I made some modifications.

1 cup plain flour
1/3 cup cocoa powder
1 1/2 tsps baking powder
1/4 tsp salt
1/4 cup sunflower oil
1 cup coconut milk
3/4 cup sugar
1 tsp vanilla extract
1 tsp creamed coconut, grated
1/2 cup desiccated coconut

For the glaze
2 cups icing sugar
1/4 cup coconut milk

Preheat the oven to 180C and line a 12 hole muffin pan with liners.
In a medium bowl, soft together the flour, cocoa, baking powder and salt.
In another bowl mix together the coconut milk, oil, sugar, vanilla, creamed coconut and oil. Stir to combine.
Add the flour mixture in batches and beat thoroughly after each addition to ensure the batter is smooth. Fold in the desiccated coconut.
Fill the liners two thirds full and bake for around 25 minutes. Transfer to a wire rack and allow to cool completely before glazing.
Sift the icing sugar into a medium bowl and add the coconut milk. Mix thoroughly until smooth and then pipe onto the cold cakes using a sandwich bag with a small hole cut from one corner.

Vegan Cupcakes Take Over The World is available from Amazon


Snickerdoodle Blondies

Monday, 22 June 2009

You are forgiven if you have never heard of the snickerdoodle. Until last year I never knew what it was. The name bears no real resemblance to the actual product but that doesn't really matter. The snickerdoodle is a kind of sugar cookie that is rolled in cinnamon sugar. How does this relate to blondies? Well this particular recipe calls for a generous sprinkling of cinnamon sugar on top of the batter before baking. This topping is crunchy and sweet and spicy and gave the blondies an interesting flavour and contrast to the soft and chewy centre.

Blondies to me are the opposite of brownies. They are similar in shape and method but the dominant flavour is not chocolate but rather the rich brown sugar used. There are hundreds of recipes for blondies with some using chocolate chips or chopped nuts but this one is plain and simple and lets the snickerdoodle topping speak for itself.

I used the recipe from Dozen Flours which seems to have a loyal following (via Crepes of Wrath) and made a half batch in an 8x8 pan and they came out beautifully. There are no special ingredients needed and they are really very simple. Below is the recipe as I made it but refer to either of the links above for the full recipe.

1 1/3 cups all-purpose flour
1 tsp baking powder
Pinch of salt
1 cups packed brown sugar
1/2 cup butter, at room temperature
1 egg, at room temperature
2 tsp vanilla extract
1 tbsp white sugar
1 tsp cinnamon

Preheat oven to 180C. Line an 8x8 inch pan with parchment paper with overhanging sides to make it easier to remove the cooked blondies.

Sift together flour, baking powder and salt and set aside. In large bowl, beat together butter, sugar, egg and vanilla until smooth. Stir in the flour mixture until well blended and spread evenly into the pan.

Combine white sugar and cinnamon in a small bowl. Evenly sprinkle cinnamon sugar mixture over the top of the batter.

Bake 25-30 minutes or until surface springs back when gently pressed. Cool slightly. While still warm, cut into bars with a sharp knife.


One Bowl Chocolate Brownies

Saturday, 20 June 2009

Sometimes only chocolate will do and you can't get much better than a freshly baked brownie. I've never been very good at making brownies. I love to eat them and I've always been a bit too scared to try baking them as I've had a couple of bad attempts. While I was looking through Basically Baked I came across this recipe and just had to try it out. It uses one bowl and makes a small batch (8" square pan) which is perfect if you're not confident with how they'll turn out!

As you can see from the photograph these brownies are quite dark. They don't use melted chocolate but instead get their very rich flavour from cocoa (use good quality) and a little espresso powder. They have a wonderful deep chocolate flavour but aren't overly sweet. I think I slightly underbaked mine (maybe by a couple of minutes) but they were absolutely delicious anyway.

The recipe is originally from here at Epicurious but I followed Sue's directions (leaving out the nuts) so I'll link you to her blog too. These are so easy to make and the recipe is very easy to follow.


Banana Bread Muffins.

Tuesday, 16 June 2009

If you make one recipe in the next few days make it this one, oh please make it this one. These are easy to make and they smell amazing. The combination of ripe mashed banana and rum soaked raisins is perfect and the beautiful golden colour that happens as if by magic in the oven is simply beautiful.

See? These are really easy to make and the recipe is actually for a banana bread loaf from Nigella Lawson. The muffins have an advantage over the loaf in that they are prettier, more portable and cook more quickly than a loaf cake. I honestly can't tell you a bad thing about this recipe other than you might want to double it!

I've rewritten the recipe here as I did make some changes but the original can be found here

100g raisins
75ml rum
175g plain flour
2 teaspoons baking powder
1/2 teaspoon bicarbonate of soda
1/2 teaspoon salt
125g unsalted butter, melted
150g sugar
2 large egg
300g ripe bananas (weighed without skin), mashed
1 teaspoon vanilla extract

Put the sultanas and rum in a small saucepan and bring to the boil.
Remove from the heat, cover and leave for an hour if you can, or until the sultanas have absorbed most of the liquid, then drain.
Preheat the oven to 170ÂșC/gas mark 3. Put the flour, baking powder, bicarb and salt in a medium-sized bowl and using a wooden spoon, combine well. In a large bowl, mix the melted butter and sugar and beat until blended. Beat in the eggs one at a time, then the mashed bananas. Then, with your wooden spoon, stir in the walnuts, drained sultanas and vanilla extract. Add the flour mixture, a third at a time, stirring well after each bit.
Fill a 12 hole muffin tin with paper liners and fill each with the cake mixture until used up (about 2/3 full). Bake in the preheated oven for 15-17 minutes or until a skewer inserted comes out mostly clean. Do not overbake. Allow to cool (if you can resist them) and serve plain accompanied by another shortly after.


Bread Machine Recipes: English Muffins

Sunday, 14 June 2009

English muffins are said to date back to the 10th century but became paticularly popular by the 18th century. The Muffin Man rhyme is about exactly this kind of muffin and describes a door-to-door seller of the delicious hot cakes. Am I the only one that would quite like a modern muffin man? Hmm...

Anyway, I had never made muffins before. They always seemed somewhat elusive and slightly complicated but with a bread machine they are so easy. There is a bit of hands on time towards the end but to start with all you need to do is add the ingredients to the bread pan and put it on the Dough setting. Not exactly hard work.

1 cup tepid water
2 tbsp skimmed milk powder
2 tsp honey
3 tbsp melted butter
1/2 tsp salt
3 1/4 cups of white bread flour
1 tsp yeast

Once the machine has finished you knead the dough lightly for a couple of minutes and then roll it out to about half and inch thick. Using a 4" cutter (although mine was 3 7/8" for some obscure reason) cut rounds from the dough. Re-knead, re-roll and re-cut the dough until it is all used up (this recipe made 8 muffins for me). Sprinkle some fine cornmeal onto the muffins (both sides) and allow them to rest for 10 minutes.

Heat up a large heavy based frying pan or skillet (cast iron is meant to be the best but use whatever you have to hand) and cook the muffins at a moderate heat in batches for 7-10 minutes turning once during this time. I felt that our muffins were still a little doughy in the middle so I'd probably cook them at the longer end next time.

You can enjoy these hot from the pan (they were delicious) or allow them to cool on a rack and then split and toast them later (I did that too and they were still delicious). I hope you give these classic treats a try and I will definitely make them again.

This recipe comes from Vicki Smallwood's One hundred Bread Machine Recipes. It's my go-to book for anything from the bread machine and has a wide range of treats. It is available from Amazon.


Chicken Pinchitos

Friday, 12 June 2009

I love this recipe. It's perfect for this time of year and would taste delicious cooked on the barbecue. The only thing to remember is that the meat needs to be marinated over night and therefore you have to be organised enough to do this. There have been a few occasions where I've planned to make this dish and forgotten to get it all sorted and in the fridge the night before and ended up making some other chicken dish. Organisation is key!

The mix of spices in the marinade is amazing. They've got a lot of kick to them and are complex in flavour. I particularly love the smoked paprika which gives a barbecue flavour with a slight sweetness, absolutely delicious... Have I built these up too much? I hope not. I usually skewer these with red onion slices but we only had white onions. I felt they might be too strong on their own so I added some green pepper and only small amounts of the onion and it worked really well (if I do say so myself).

I used skinless, boneless chicken thigh pieces this time but I would normally use chicken breast pieces as they tend to cook evenly and have a more even texture. These were fine though and seemed to go down well with my parents.

3 or 4 chicken breasts cut into even sized chunks
2 tsp ground cumin
1 tsp ground coriander
1 tsp sweet smoked paprika
2 tsp dried thyme
Salt to season
1 dried bayleaf, crushed
3 cloves of crushed garlic
Juice of 1 lemon
Cooking spray
2-3 red onions cut into wedges (or one white onion and a green pepper)

Combine the spices, thyme and salt in a bowl. Add the chicken and rub the mixture into the meat with your fingers. Place in a dish with the bayleaf and garlic distributed evenly. Stir in the lemon juice and spray with cooking spray. Cover this mixture with cling film and marinate in the fridge overnight.

When you're ready to cook, thread the chicken and onion alternately onto skewers (if they're wooden make sure you have soaked them in water beforehand to prevent burning). Cook under a hot grill or on the barbecue for 4-5 minutes on each side or until cooked through.

I served these with homemade wedges and salad but they'd be good with all sorts of things.

This recipe is from Slimming World's Four Seasons Cookbook available from Amazon.


Fish Pie

Wednesday, 10 June 2009

We've finally moved house and part of the deal of living with my parents is making dinner as often as we can! There are some dinners that you just can't make look pretty. These meals tend to come in a large dish that everyone helps themselves from. They are often the greatest meals to eat and involve family and friends sitting together enjoying good food and conversation.

I made fish pie the other night for the first time and it was delicious. We never have it at home as Al doesn't eat fish at all so when he was away for the night I made it for me and my parents. It's a very simple recipe and is easy to put together so it's perfect for a weeknight dinner.

Freshly mashed potatoes to cover the top of the dish
2 medium sized fillets of fish (one should be smoked for more flavour)
Cooked prawns (about 3-4oz)
A handful of frozen peas
Fresh parsley
1pt milk
2oz flour
2oz butter
2 hard boiled eggs, chopped
Cheese to top the potato.

You don't need to cook the fish before you add it to the sauce so it makes things very easy. I used a fillet of smoked haddock and a fillet of cod and threw some cooked prawns in too. The sauce is incredibly simple. Put the milk, flour and butter into a saucepan and heat gently whisking continuously. Once the sauce had thickened, boiled and become smooth it is time to add the fish and the chopped hard-boiled eggs. I also threw in some frozen peas and some chopped fresh parsley. Cook this mixture for a few minutes and then transfer to a baking dish and top with mashed potato (or a combination of potato and swede) and top that with grated cheese. Bake in a 200C preheated oven until bubbling and golden on top and serve with more fresh parsley.


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