Apple and Pecan Porridge

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I like breakfast. I like breakfast thats warm and yummy and packed with tasty things, who doesn’t? This porridge fits that criteria, enough of the boring porridge!
Ingredients (serves 1):
1 apple, grated
2 tbsp of pecans, chopped and toasted
1 tbsp of flaked almonds, toasted
40g rolled oats
150ml milk
Pinch of salt
1 tbsp golden syrup
Method:
1. Begin by toasting your nuts. Put a frying pan on a medium heat (no oil necessary) and add the pecans. Toast for 3 minutes, moving around occasionally so they don’t burn. Add the almonds to the pecans after they have toasted for 3 minutes and toast for a further 2 minutes. Again, keep moving so they don’t burn.
2. Put the milk, oats and sea salt into a saucepan and cook on a medium heat. Allow the milk to simmer and cook for about 3 minutes and then add the grated apple and allow for cook for further 2 minutes. Add more milk if it starts to catch or if you prefer it runnier.
3. Remove from heat and stir in the toasted nuts.
4. Transfer to a bowl and drizzle golden syrup on top.
Enjoy – the perfect sunday breakfast on a cold and miserable day.
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Product Review: Men’s Pie Manual

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Well I think we all know, you don’t have to be a man to enjoy a bloody good pie. Whether it be a pork pie ready for lunch, a hearty beef and ale pie ready to warm you through or a light fish pie topped with gnocchi the Haynes Men’s Pie Manual have got it covered. The book is written in a light hearted, quirky tone, constantly reminding you of the delights to come and pushing you to carry on; especially in the case of the beef and ale pie which takes two days to make. This recipe book is for the ultimate foodies out there (male or female) who handle their grub with true love and attention and seek out the best ingredients to produce the best results. I would like to consider myself as being within that category, hence I went for the beef and ale, two day pie.
This is why you need this book…

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Look! Beef bones! After 5 hours of cooking the skirt and bones in the dark ale the bone marrow oozed out. Flavour, flavour and more flavour!
image 8And I was left with this sensational filling after adding the braising steak, carrots and onion and cooking for a further 3 hours. I had to stop myself from spooning it in my pie hole (hehe) to save some for the actual pie!

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Nearly finished!
image 6Voila! Ready for the oven. By this point I was pacing the kitchen in a fury of hunger. GIVE ME PIE.

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Here it is, served with buttery, delicious mash and of course some peas!

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So, if your a true pie lover and a perfectionist (when it comes to food anyway) then the Haynes Men’s Pie Manual by Andrew Webb is a winner – Tom Kerridge certainly thinks so (and who doesn’t trust Tom Kerridge when it comes to proper food?!). There’s a huge range of pies from the hearty meaty ones to lighter chicken and fish pies and of course sweet pies for pudding because after all, I could probably live off pies. What a good idea…
The Haynes Men’s Pie Manual is available from www.haynes.co.uk priced £21.99.

Toffee Apple and Pecan Cupcakes

image 2These cupcakes have to be the best cupcakes I have made in a long time. I’m currently slightly obsessed with apple, making these scrummy treats a bite of sugary, fruity, nutty heaven.
Ingredients (makes 10 large cupcakes):
Apple Sauce:
  • 3 cooking apples, peeled, cored and diced into small cubes
  • 50g butter
  • 50g caster sugar
Cupcakes:
  • 175g softened unsalted butter
  • 175g caster sugar
  • 3 medium eggs
  • 175g self raising flour, sifted
  • 1tsp cinnamon
  • 200g apple sauce (see above)
  • 100g pecans, chopped
Caramel Topping:
  • 1 can of condensed milk
  • 100g dark brown sugar
  • 100g softened unsalted butter
(this recipe makes extra apple sauce and caramel topping, ready for the next batch!)
Method:
  1. Preheat the oven at 180 degrees.
  2. Begin by making the apple sauce. Melt the butter and sugar together and then add the apple. Cook on a medium heat for 10-15 minutes until a puree consistency. Stir occasionally and turn down the heat if it’s catching. Allow to cool once finished.
  3. For the cupcakes, cream the butter and sugar together, mix for a good five minutes to make sure it is well combined and nice and fluffy.
  4. Add in the eggs, one at a time, only adding the next when the previous one is fully combined.
  5. Stir in the cooled apple sauce.
  6. Fold in the flour, cinnamon and chopped pecans.
  7. Distribute into cupcake cases and bake for 20-25 minutes.
  8. Once cooled, make the caramel topping. Begin by melting the sugar and butter together.
  9. Add the condensed milk and whisk constantly.
  10. Every now and again stop whisking to check if the topping is bubbling. Allow the topping to come to the boil until it begins to bubble quite vigorously and then remove from the heat. Put the caramel in the fridge to cool and so it doesn’t slide straight off the cupcakes (you can allow the caramel to bubble for longer if you would like a thicker topping).
  11. Once cooled and at a workable consistency, remove from the fridge and spread onto your cupcakes.
This seasonal recipe is a winner for me. Get coring, peeling and chopping because all that apple labour is worth it. You could make more apple sauce and freeze any left overs for next time, have it with roast pork, or if your easily pleased like me shovel it in, nice and warm.

Uyen Luu’s Vietnamese Cooking Class

 Taylah and I had an amazing time in London last weekend thanks to a great day spent with Uyen Luu at her Vietnamese Cooking Class. Costed at £95, it is a fun day with stacks of recipes to try and more importantly, eat.
The class took more of a demonstration approach which meant we spent much of the time huddled around the stove paying close attention to what Uyen and her mum were saying. However, there were lots of opportunities to get stuck in and we rolled our own summer rolls and bò lá lởt and flipped our own sizzling crepes.
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The class had a great atmosphere and we got stuck into the true Vietnamese culture. We took our shoes off once we arrived and visited a nearby Vietnamese supermarket to discover the best brands. We also learnt about balancing sweet, sour, umami, bitter and hot flavours; something which is vital in Vietnamese food.
In total we discovered 11 dishes which included summer rolls, bò lá lởt, carrot and chicken salad with prawn crackers, chicken noodle soup, congee, baked seabass with spring onions and soy sauce, stir fried morning glory, aubergine in soy sauce, braised pork belly in coconut and cider, banana fritters and a blueberry ice cream dessert.
Not only that but we all left with some of the summer rolls, bò lá lởt and carrot and chicken salad that we had made.
Overall, I would really recommend this cooking class. It was an intimate style class, run by two ladies dedicated to sharing true Vietnamese cooking. We were welcomed into Uyen’s home which was ideal for the class and even greeted by two delightful, small (well fed) dogs. It was a really relaxed occasion which ended with a great feast and the opportunity to buy signed copies of Uyen’s recipe book.IMG_5149

Lemon and Lavender Drizzle Cake

With the hot weather recently it was about time to bake a light, summery cake. I love a good lemon cake and this one really delivered. After purchasing some lavender extract, I decided it had to feature in my cake. Enjoy with a nice cup of tea (dog is optional).
Ingredients:
Cake:
  1. 175g self raising flour
  2. 150g caster sugar
  3. 150g softened butter
  4. 3 medium eggs
  5. Zest of 2 lemons
  6. 1 tsp lavender extract
Drizzle:
  1. 80g caster sugar
  2. Juice of 1½ lemons
Icing:
  1. 60g icing sugar
  2. Juice of ½ a lemon
  3. Edible lavender
Method
  1. Grease and line a 18cm x 18cm square baking tin, preheat oven at 180°C
  2. Begin by creaming together the butter and caster sugar to make the cake. I used an electric whisk which saved time and got it nice and fluffy.
  3. Measure and sift the self raising flour and set aside.
  4. Then add the beaten eggs gradually, still using the electric whisk.
  5. Add one spoonful of the sifted self raising flour, again using the electric whisk to incorporate.
  6. Add the grated lemon zest.
  7. Add one spoonful of the sifted self raising flour, still using the electric whisk.
  8. Add 1 tsp of lavender extract to the mixture (add more to taste but not too much as the cake will taste soapy).
  9. Fold in the remaining self raising flour until fully incorporated, do not over mix.
  10. Pour the mixture into the tin and bake for 20-25 minutes.
  11. Once cooked through, cool on a wire rack.
  12. Prepare the lemon drizzle. Heat the sugar and lemon juice on the hob and once the sugar has dissolved spoon over the cake. Prick the top of the cake with a fork across the top so the drizzle can really soak in. When the cake doesn’t appear to absorb any more, leave for a few minutes and continue to add more once it has all been incorporated. Continue until all the drizzle has been used.
  13. Once the cake has completely cooled make the icing and drizzle over the top.
  14. Sprinkle your cake with edible lavender.

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Raspberry Jam and Chocolate Surprise Cupcakes

Raspberry Jam and Chocolate Surprise Cupcakes

As exams draw to a final close, sharing cakes seems like the perfect way to celebrate. I decided to do a bit of experimenting with a limited selection of ingredients and these delightful cupcakes is what I came up with.

Cupcakes (makes 8 large cupcakes):
110g self raising flour
110g unsalted butter
110g caster sugar
1tsp vanilla flavouring
2 large eggs
2 tbsp milk
50g melted milk or white chocolate
1/2 jar of raspberry jam

Cream cheese frosting:
50g unsalted butter
150g soft cheese
50g icing sugar
1 tsp vanilla flavouring

Preheat oven at 180C
1. Begin by making the cupcakes. Cream the butter and sugar together until it becomes lighter in colour.
2. Once fully combined, slowly add the eggs and beat together. Add milk to make the mixture of dropping consistency. Finally add the vanilla flavouring.
3. Fill the cupcake cases until they are half full and bake for around 15 minutes until golden brown.
4. Allow to cool for a while on a wire wrack. Then, using a knife cut a 10p size circle into the cupcake and spoon out the centre with a spoon. Allow for quite a big hole but so it doesn’t reach the cupcake case on the bottom.
5. Spoon in the jam until the hole is 3/4 full. Finally top with melted chocolate until the hole is levelled off. I used milk chocolate but think white chocolate would work really well but I didn;t have any in my cupboards. Leave to set.
6. Make the frosting next. Beat the butter in a bowl until it becomes soft. Then beat in the cream cheese. Sift and fold in the icing sugar until combined and then beat to get rid of any lumps.
7. Finally add the vanilla flavouring and allow the icing to set a little in the fridge until the cupcakes are completely cool.
8. Ice your cupcakes! I sprinkled freeze dried raspberries on top for added raspberry flavour.

Enjoy.

Moules Marinère

As usual, the sun starts shining and beckoning me out to the garden as I set up a small revision den in the dining room. This year, however, I have forbidden myself from convincing myself that it is possible to revise in the garden, because, put simply, it never works. Usually, I end up closing my eyes, placing my book somewhere near my head (in the hope that the words will seep into my mind) and before I know it, afternoon over, a day wasted. What makes it worse is that it’s never really hot enough to get any form of tan, so what was the point in the first place?!

 

Anyway, I’ve gone off point slightly. My confinement to the dining room meant that I have been making up for hours staring at my laptop with some summery, tasty food. Mussels!! I found this recipe in ‘the Little Paris Kitchen’ by Rachel Khoo which features a selection of wonderful French dishes. The mussels were so quick and easy to make – the hardest part was giving them a scrub before cooking them! So, as instructed…

 

  1. Melt 1 tbsp of better in a pan on a medium heat. Add ½ chopped onion with 1 pinch of dried thyme and 1 bay leaf. Cook off the onions until they go clear ensuring the pan is not too hot (we don’t want them brown).

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  1. Add 160ml of dry white wine. I used pinot grigio and they tasted like the real, French deal. Turn the heat up!

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  1. Add the mussels (I used a 1kg bag – a few had to be discarded as they were cracked or opened – and this served two of us for a starter perfectly). Pop the lid on the pan and allow to steam for 3-4 minutes.

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  1. After 3 minutes, check the majority are open. If so, turn the heat down and add 2 tbsp of crème fraiche. Stir in and sprinkle fresh parsley.  Once the wine and crème fraiche have formed a delicious sauce, serve with bread and a wedge of lemon. Slurp away.

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