Coconut Macaroons

Monday, 25 January 2010

Al loves all things coconut. It's just a flavour that he adores. I do too actually, I like the subtle sweetness of coconut and the creamy flavour and dense texture. I remember macaroons from when I was a kind. The crunchy outside and soft chewy centre. When we used to get them they were attached to rice paper - that weird edible but not really appetising paper stuff - and had a little drizzle of chocolate.

It's so simple to recreate a simple version of these (though of course you can cook them on rice paper if you wish and a drizzle of dark chocolate really isn't going to hurt them any. A simple combination of 4 ingredients means that these are easy to whip up for guests. They keep well and are great for lunchboxes.

These were the other gluten free and dairy free cookie I sent to Tam for the Cookie exchange and ... she liked them! Thanks goodness!

2 Egg Whites
150g Dessicated Coconut
150g Caster Sugar
1tsp Cornflour

Preheat the oven to 180C and line 2 baking sheets with parchment paper (if not non stick)
In a clean, grease free bowl, whisk the egg white until stiff.
Fold in the sugar, coconut and cornflour.
Shape the mixture into around 12 balls and place onto the baking sheets
Bake for around 10 minutes, or until golden and transfer to a wire rack to cool.


Flourless Peanut Butter Cookies

Friday, 22 January 2010

There is a bit of a back story that comes with these cookies and how they ended up being added to my recipe file and why I've made two batches in less than a week. I randomly stumbled across a blog a few weekends ago. This blog was Steph Chows. If I'm grabbed by the writing style and photography of a blog (and the recipes of course) then I tend to read pages and pages of things over a few days until I find something else to hold my attention.

Steph grabbed me and I spent several days reading a few months worth of entries. I noticed this entry and was intrigued by it. I've seen craft based exchanges for fabric, handmade greeting cards and even underwear but I'd not seen a food based one before. I thought about how interesting it would be to see how other people work with ingredients and flavours. Some of the jams sounded amazing and I couldn't get it out of my head.

With a bit more reading, I found this entry about a cookie exchange. I read through to see the rules and get a general feel for the whole thing when I notice that a UK blogger is looking for a partner. Well, I could hardly pass up this opportunity could I? I was a bit late to the party (the post was made in December and the deadline for sign ups was waaay past) but I emailed Steph to see if I could join in and exchange...
A few days later I received confirmation that I had been teamed up with the UK blogger - Everyone, meet Tam! - and we were allowed a little extra time to get our cookies out. After exchanging contact and allergy information (Tam can't have dairy or gluten) I set about finding a recipe to fit the bill.

And here it is! These cookies are amazing and ones that I am sure to make again and a again. They are simple to make, require few ingredients and nothing too exotic (I wasn't ready to jump into the field of Xanthan Gum and strangely named flours - but if there's a cake exchange in the future? Why knows!). These would be delicious with a little chocolate thrown in and I might try making them with crunchy peanut butter for a different texture.

This recipe is from the Gluten Free Girl and I've reprinted it here.

1 cup Smooth Peanut Butter
1 cup Sugar (plus extra for rolling)
1tsp Gluten Free Baking Powder
1 Egg

Cream the peanut butter and sugar in a bowl. Add the baking powder and the egg and mix until smooth.
Roll the dough (it will be quite soft) into balls about the size of a walnut and roll the balls into the extra sugar.
Place the balls, well spaced, onto a baking tray and flatten slightly.
Bake in a preheated 180C oven for 10-12 minutes.
Allow to cool on the tray for at least 5 minutes before attempting to remove to a wire rack to finish cooling.


Candied Pomelo Peel

Sunday, 17 January 2010

I may have mentioned before how much I love citrus. I just love how the tart, sharp flavours work so well in desserts and sweets, they combine perfectly with a little sugar to make a fresh, flavourful treat in almost any form!

Anyway, when I was shopping one day I spied a honey pomelo lurking amongst the fresh fruit. It was a weird looking beast, like a large grapefruit but in the shape of a pear. It has a greeny-yellow skin and no strong scent from the outside. I just had to buy one!

After doing some research, I found mixed reviews and decided to just go ahead and get on with it! There's a lot of white pith inside and the actual fruit part is probably the size of a large grapefruit. the flesh is a pale yellow and quite dry to the touch (unlike an orange for example). The flavour is delicate with a sharpness akin to grapefruit but with a subtle sweetness too. It's really hard to explain but the lot was gone within an hour or so... Every time I (or my mum) walked past the bowl in the kitchen, another piece was devoured.

It was quite laborious preparing the fruit. The pith has to come off and the membrane between segments is tough and dry so that has to come off too. But, as a huge pomegranate fan; I'm okay with labour intensive foods. I wouldn't buy one very often (I've only bought 2 ever) but they're nice for a change.
In order to get the most out of the £1.49 I paid (another reason why I wouldn't splurge too often) I looked into the process of candying the peel. It was a lot easier than I thought it would be and yielded really delicious results.

You start by cutting the peel into strips about a centimetre wide, you can keep them fairly long but basically, they need to fit in the saucepan and they need to be a size that you'd want to serve.

Next you need to blanch the peel to rid it of some of its bitterness. Bring a pan of water to the boil, plunge the peel in for a minute and then take them out. Repeat this twice more with fresh water each time.

Next, heat equal quantities of water and sugar (a cup of each) in a saucepan and bring to the boil. Place the peel into the syrup and turn the heat down until the syrup is at a simmer and leave to candy for around about an hour. Keep checking on the syrup to make sure it doesn't boil away completely and allow the peels to burn.

Once the syrup has been absorbed into the peel, remove from the heat and spread the peel on a wire rack to cool. Once cool, stuff them into your face quickly and eat them. They are delicious.

You can also take this a step further and cover the candied peel in chocolate. I cannot be held responsible for the effects these gorgeous little treats may have on you... They are amazing.


Liver with Bacon and Onions

Saturday, 9 January 2010

We bought a deep fat fryer not very long ago. Actually, it's my mum's but she's only used it once. I've never really been brave enough to deal with hot fat in large quantities so I mostly leave the actual dangerous frying to Al. He worked in a Chip shop when he was 14 (I'm sure there are some ethical/health and safety issues there but he survived) and is quite the pro.

I used to be a vegetarian. I think I've mentioned it in passing before but it seems like a long time ago now. I will now try pretty much any meat you put in front of me, just so I know what it's like. As a kid, I hated liver. My mum used to cook it sometimes and we'd have to eat it... it has such a strange texture and flavour, it's quite unlike anything else really. In my adulthood (stop laughing!) I've found that I actually really like it. I love the weird texture and the iron-y flavour. I've learnt that it goes amazingly well with onions and bacon in a rich gravy. These combine perfectly with potatoes (usually mashed) and peas.

This time, we deep fried some cooked new potatoes to go with the liver and bacon and they were delicious. Nice and crispy on the outside to completment the meltingly delicious liver and the thick gravy. As my mum is the one that cooks liver, I thought it was time I tried to make it myself. It's really easy!

1 large onion
2 tbsp sunflower oil
1 pack of lambs liver
2-4 tbsp plain flour
Salt and pepper
300ml lamb stock
4 rashers of bacon

Slice the onion and fry in half of the oil until lightly browned.
Rinse the liver and pat dry. Season the flour and spread onto a plate, coat each slice of liver with the flour.
Stir the leftover flour into the onions and cook gently for a minute or so, stirring constantly. Add the stock and bring to boil, reduce the heat and leave to simmer.
Fry the bacon in the rest of the oil and remove from the pan when cooked. Add the liver to the pan and fry over a moderate heat for a couple of minutes each side, or until lightly browned.
Return the bacon to the pan, add the sauce and stir to make sure all the residue of the frying bacon and liver is incorporated well. Simmer for 3-4 minutes until the liver is cooked.
Serve with mashed (or in this case fried) potatoes and peas.

We used tinned potatoes (shocking, I know) that were drained and dried thoroughly. We then fried them in oil at 170C until crispy and delicious. Obviously, these would be even better with fresh potatoes but we just used what we had.


Slow Cooker Recipes: Mexican Hot Chocolate

Tuesday, 5 January 2010

I'm a little delayed but I'd like to wish you all a happy new year! I hope 2010 brings you lots of delicious food, good health and happiness. I had a lovely christmas and new year, I ate more food than is ever necessary and enjoyed every last bite.

We've had loads of snow here over the holiday period and we've more on the way. It's so cold that the screenwash on my boss' car was freezing as it hit the windscreen yesterday. We had some friends over when the snow was quite deep and decided to treat them to a nice soothing mug of mexican hot chocolate when they arrived. They certanly needed it!

The recipe is really simple and is largely assembly rather than real work. Most of the time is hands off so you're not constantly watching the pan to make sure the milk doesn't boil over. The ingredients are also simple with nothing too exotic so you may have everything you need in your cupboards without having to brave the weather with a trip to the shops.

The hot chocolate is delicious and warming. The gentle spices really lift the flavour and make it something special. I chose to garnish ours with some fresh whipped cream and grated dark chocolate though you could use marshmallows or anything else that you fancied! The drink is smooth and sweet with a good chocolate flavour. Do try to use the best quality dark chocolate you can get as it is the main flavour of the drink. The following recipe is enough for 4-5 people depending on the size of your mugs.

1 litre milk
1 cinnamon stick
2 cloves
115g dark chocolate chopped into small pieces
2-3 drops of almond extract
Whipped cream and grated chocolate to serve

Pour the milk into the cooking pot with the cinnamon and cloves. Cover and switch the slow cooker to high. Heat the milk for an hour or until the milk is almost boiling.
Add the chocolate pieces and almond extract to the milk and stir until melted.
Fish out the spices and then, using a stick blender, whizz the mixture until frothy.
Ladle the hot chocolate into mugs and top with cream and grated chocolate.
Serve immediately.


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