Thursday, 29 December 2011

Chocolate Roulade

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The week leading up to Christmas we had a Christmas meal with my husband's family as we were all off doing our own thing on Christmas day. So I made this chocolate roulade for pudding as a couple of my family members are wheat intolerant. I saw this chocolate roulade being made on The Great British Bake Off and even though it looked delicious I was slightly put off by seeing how they all struggled with making it. I am happy to report that it came out much better than expected and as long as you stick to the recipe you shouldn't have any problems. If you ignore the cream in the middle this roulade is pretty healthy for cake standards, no flour or butter and is still super rich so it doesn't leave you feeling cheated in the slightest!

Recipe from Mary Berry
You will need-
  • 175g plain chocolate broken into pieces
  • 175g caster sugar
  • 6 eggs separated
  • 2 tbsp cocoa, sieved
  • 300ml double cream (heavy cream)
  • Icing sugar

Preheat your oven to 180C then begin by lightly greasing a 33 x 23 cm swiss roll tin and line it with greaseproof paper. Make sure you push the paper into the corners.

Melt the chocolate in a glass bowl over a pan of simmering water and then leave it to cool slightly.

In a large bowl add the sugar and egg yolks and whisk with an electric hand whisk until it goes light and creamy. Next add the cooled chocolate and stir until everything is blended.

In a separate large bowl whisk your egg whites until they are stiff but not dry then fold in a large spoonful of the egg white into the chocolate mixture. Now stir in the rest of the egg whites folding carefully so as not to knock too much air out of the mixture. Finally add the cocoa and mix in gently.

Pour the mixture into your tin and bake for around 20 minutes or until its firm to the touch.
Remove the cake from the oven but leave it in the tin. Mary suggests that you place a cooling rack over the cake and then lay a damp tea towel over it. This will stop the cake from drying out whilst it cools. Leave it like this for a few hours or overnight but be sure to re-dampen the tea towel if it dries out. The cake will also sink slightly during this time.

When the cake is cooled whip the cream till it just starts to hold its shape. Next dust a large piece of greaseproof paper with icing sugar and then turn the cake out onto it so its face down. Remove the greaseproof paper from the underside and spread the cream out over the whole surface.
Start at a short ends roll the roulade up starting tightly at first use the greaseproof paper that the roulade is laying on the help you. The roulade will crack in places but don't worry Mary assures its part of the charm!

Sprinkle with some more icing sugar if needed then serve with fresh fruit.

My Christmas in Food

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So, I have been trying to summon up the energy to go through and edit the many photos I took over Christmas and it has taken me till now to do it. It has been so nice having some time off from everything and although I got ill on Christmas night it has been a nice excuse to lay on the sofa and eat all the chocolates that I got for Christmas (not that I need any excuse!) I am happy to report I am pretty much all better now and am planning a day of baking today, if I manage to get out of my PJs and to the supermarket that its! I realise its a bit of an overload of photos but I thought I'd share how we did Christmas this year. I loved hosting it and I am happy to report it all went without any glitches- despite the fact that our oven broke 5 days before Christmas. Luckily our landlord was great and got it sorted in time for us! Apologies for the dark and grainy photos from Christmas Eve, I still haven't quite got the hang of low light photography.

I hope you all had a fantastic Christmas.

Kombos- A traditional Bosnian Christmas Eve meal consisting of saurkraut, lots of garlic, olive oil, butterbeans & canneloni beans topped with baked potatoes. Traditionally you don't eat meat on Christmas Eve.
Cheese selection with blinis in the background
The star of Christmas- Lancashire Bomb cheese. We pretty much finished the whole lot in 2 days.
Smoked Salmon on homemade Blinis with soured cream and horseradish
Homemade filo & sweet pastry mince pies
Homemade sourdough for Christmas day breakfast
More cheese
Chorizo scrambled eggs and blinis
Brussel Sprouts stir fried with bacon, shallots and garlic and topped with roasted chestnuts
Roasted vegetables with my favourite- roasted parsnips
Petit Fours
Chocolate, Pistachio, Raspberry and Almond Macaroons
Some more petit fours

Tuesday, 20 December 2011

FoodCycle Festive Feast & Vegetable Crumble Recipe

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A couple of weeks ago I was invited along to the FoodCycle Festive Feast which took place at St Pauls Church where FoodCycle run their weekly meal. I popped down early to help set up and cook. I also got a chance to make my flourless chocolate cake for around 50 people which was a bit of a challenge but I thoroughly enjoyed making my way through all that chocolate & butter!

On the night  we were treated to some seriously delicious food made with surplus vegetables & fruit that would have normally been thrown away. For the main course we were treated to a seriously tasty Vegetable crumble which was served with seasonal vegetables & roasted potatoes. As soon as I tried it I knew that I wanted to make it for us at home as its the perfect winter warmer. I asked very nicely and Sam Martensz (one of the guys in charge at FoodCycle Cambridge) has shared the recipe below. I can't wait to make it next week! 

As you can see the recipe it really versatile so its the perfect meal for using up any vegetables you may have laying around at home.

"This is the rough recipe on the scale that I originally came across it. The main changes were the vegetables and I think the real star were the jerusalem artichokes they gave it that sort of smoky flavour. To anyone else I would say I planned it that way, blending the flavours with the expert mix but as you know really it was because we got a huge bag of them donated and they would work with this style of dish!"

Serves 6
You will need-

  • 2kg mixed root vegetables- parsnips, jerusalem artichokes, carrots and potatoes
  • 200g pumpkin
  • 2 onions, sliced 
  • 4 heaped tbsp wholegrain mustard 
  • 3 tbsp honey 
  • 2 tbsp rapeseed oil 
  • 1 tbsp chopped rosemary 
  • 360ml double cream 
  • Salt and pepper 
For crumble topping
  • Handful of crushed walnuts
  • 1 good handful porridge oats 
  • 5-6 good handfuls of fresh breadcrumbs 
  • 25g cubed unsalted butter
  • 50g grated mature cheddar 
  • Salt and pepper
Parboil all root vegetables separately until soft but not falling apart. Mix in roasting tray with the pumpkin. 

Saute onions until translucent then mix with vegetables. 

Whisk marinade of honey, mustard and rapeseed oil in a bowl with fork, adjust for seasoning adding a little more pepper than you think is needed, once it has been combined with the vegetables and roasted it will come through and give the necessary kick. 

Now mix in the the vegetables and place in preheated oven on 180C for 30-40 mins until the vegetables are slightly brown and the pumpkin is cooked. By roasting the vegetables first with the honey their natural sweetness will be amplified, this wouldn't happen if you skip straight to the next stage. 

Whilst the vegetables are roasting rub the topping together with your hands- no cheating with food processors. Once it has all been mixed set aside, take out the vegetables when ready.

Now pour over cream, adding a little more if you think it is necessary but no need to drown it! Sprinkle the walnuts over, they are better in between the topping rather than in it as you don't want to risk that burnt nut bitterness. Put on the topping, patting down firmly and then return to the oven which will should be turned up to 200 degrees. Watch like a hawk to avoid burning but it should be nice and golden brown after about 20 minutes. 

Special mention also goes to the lentil and mushroom pate which was served with crusty bread & a winter 'slaw'

All in all I had a fantastic evening and my team even mananged to win the food quiz (I never win anything) and no cheating I promise! So I snagged a FoodCycle apron and lots of other goodies. Unfortunately I didn't have as much luck with the raffle, there were some fantastic prizes provided by Cooking Gorgeous, La Tasca, Limoncello, Fudge Kitchen, Rawr Chocolate, and Nana Mexico.

Nick Gresham (brother-in-law) shot a video of the night which you can see below. Also a big shout out to Jen & the rest of the FoodCycle team who organised the whole event and to Love Food Hate Waste who sponsored it... as you can see they did a fantastic job and raised £750 for FoodCycle!

Monday, 19 December 2011

Last minute gift ideas for the foodie in your life

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So I probably should have thought about doing this post sooner but I have been a little distracted by Christmas. I am really excited about this year and am eager to start cooking for the big day. But before that I thought I would share a few gifts ideas for the foodie in your life.

1. Ottolenghi Cookbook. I am a huge fan of Yottam Ottolenghi, we received his book 'Plenty' for our wedding gift. This one is on my wish list, full of inspirational recipes £14.50 on Amazon.
2. Measuring Cups. Really useful when cooking from American recipes and these are just so beautiful £28 from Anthropologie.
3. Le Creuset. The price may be a little high but these cast iron dishes will last a life time and are so versatile. Prices vary.
4. Tartine Bread Book. I recently bought this book and it has taken my bread baking to the next level. £15.51 from Amazon.
5. Dough Scraper. Perfect to accompany number 4, also a great tool to have in the kitchen for all sorts of baking. £5.99 from Amazon.
6. Kitchen Aid Mixer. Mosts cooks dream and this colour is beautiful! I recently discovered that if you order through the American Amazon you get it for over £100 less including the postage. Around £420 in the UK
7. Plate to Pixel Book. A fantastic book about photographing food. I need this in my life! £13.93 Amazon
8. Pretty Cup. The perfect tea companion whilst you wait patiently for your dough to rise. £10 from Anthropologie

Mini Cranberry Scones

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I am a huge fan of scones whether served with clotted cream & jam or made with cheese. Yesterday I thought I would do a festive take on them by adding some dried cranberries to the mix. I cut them with my smallest pastry cutter which made canapĂ© sized, perfect for a Christmas party or a gift. Of course you could always make them larger but then it may be worth doubling the recipe.

We ate most of these the same day, they are delicious plain and slightly warm from the oven. But of course you could cut them in half and add some jam and butter or clotted cream to the mix if you were feeling decadent.

Makes 12-14 small scones
Recipe adapted from BBC Food
You will need-
  • 225g self raising flour
  • 55g butter, cubed
  • 25g caster sugar
  • 150ml milk
  • 1 free range egg, beaten
  • Pinch of salt
  • 1/4 cup chopped dried cranberries
Begin by preheating your oven to 220C and then line your baking tray with greaseproof paper.

In a large bowl mix together the flour and salt and then using your fingers rub in the butter. You should get a sandy consistency.

Next stir in the sugar followed by the milk and mix til you get a soft dough. Lightly flour your work surface and then gently knead the dough. Pat the dough out with your fingers till its around 2cm thick and then cut the scones out. Keep going til you have used up all of your dough. Place them on your baking tray and brush the tops with the beaten egg.

Bake the scones for 12-15 minutes until they have risen and are golden brown.

Cool them on a wire rack before digging in.

Enjoy x

Friday, 16 December 2011

Sweet Potato & Bean Burgers

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Sometimes a recipe comes along that you just can't stop cooking and eating. This is one of those. I stumbled across it a couple of week ago on The Edible Perspective and we have been chowing down on these burgers ever since. I am a huge fan of making batches of food at the start of a week and then freezing it so that during the next few weeks when I am too tired (or lazy) to cook we can still eat a healthy & tasty meal. To be honest with you, the original recipe is pretty perfect so I haven't really messed with it. In addition you could always add a different mix of herbs & spices or more chilli to give the burgers a bit of a kick. I have also used chipotle bought from the Cambridge Chilli Company in the past which gives the burgers a lovely smokey flavour. 

Any time you're craving fast food, these burgers are a great alternative and if you have some stored up in the freezer they are just as quick as going out to pick up some food.

The recipe says it makes 8 but I ended up with 10
You will need-
  • 15oz cooked, drained & rinsed black beans - first time round I used kidney beans with great results.
  • 3 cups of sweet potato, cubed with skin on and steamed till soft. 
  • 1/2 cup sweetcorn
  • 1/2 a medium onion, finely chopped
  • 2 large garlic cloves, minced
  • 1/2 cup of cooked quinoa (check out the video at the bottom for how to)
  • 6 tbsp of oats ground up in a food processor
  • 2 tbsp sunflower seeds
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • Black pepper
  • 1 tsp cumin
  • 1tsp oregano
  • 1/4 tsp ground coriander
  • 1 tsp chilli powder
  • 1/4 tsp cayenne pepper, optional
  • 1 tbsp
  • Roasted Peppers to serve with, optional
When the potatoes & quinoa are cooked and ready to go pre-heat your oven to 200C. Mash half of the beans till they turn into a paste and then add the rest of the beans and mash very lightly and mix it all together. Mash the sweet potato lightly in a large bowl, leave some small chunks in.

Next stir in the salt, pepper & other herbs and spices along with the olive oil. Then just mix in the onion, garlic, corn, beans, quinoa, sunflower seeds, ground oats. Stir everything until its nicely combined and then taste and adjust the seasoning if needed.

Form the mixture into burgers and then cook in the oven on a greased pan or on greaseproof paper for around 15minutes on each side. If you prefer you can cook the burgers in a frying pan on a medium heat. Just heat a little oil and then cook them for 5 minutes on each side. Just be gentle so that they don't fall apart.

If you plan on freezing the rest, form the mixture into burgers and then wrap in foil. Cook from frozen on a slightly lower temperature for a little longer on each side.

I served my burgers with a tuscan kale salad, some mashed avocado mixed with lemon juice, cholula, garlic and seasoning and some roasted peppers. If you haven't made your own roasted peppers before you really should. They go well with so many things are are really easy to make. Simply clean and cut the pepper in half and place under the grill for around 5-10 minutes on each side until the skin gets burnt. Then place in a sandwich bag for 5-10 minutes. The steam will help you peel the peppers really easily (thanks Dan for this tip all those years ago!). Then all thats left to do is peel them and serve them. Any left overs can be kept in an airtight box with a little extra virgin olive oil drizzled on them. They are great in sandwiches or on pizzas but also add great flavour to a pasta sauce.
..and this is the lovely video of how to cook quinoa, great if you've never used it before.

Thursday, 15 December 2011

Christmas in our home

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Having a little play with bokeh

After being inspired by some of my favourite blog's tours around their Christmas decorations I thought that I would share a few photos from around our home. For the first time this year Tim & I are hosting Christmas at our place. My mum and dad (& Whisper the dog) will be coming up to Cambridge on Christmas Eve and will be with us till Boxing day and I really can't wait. I have slight concerns that the piglet we have ordered may not fit in my tiny oven but we'll cross that bridge when we come to it! We have some serious treats in store for us for dinner this year and I can feel my waistline expanding just thinking about all the food in store!

Being an only child meant that growing up Christmas was always very small, usually being just the 3 of us. They were always so magical and full of tradition. From the traditional Yugoslavian Christmas biscuits my mum would make to the tradition of the meal on Christmas Eve night. They are all traditions I hope to keep going and I especially can't wait to do when we have kids of our own. After meeting Tim I became part of a bigger family which just keeps on growing, 3 brothers-in-law, two sister-in-laws, 2 nephews & a niece and of course my mother & father in-law. We try to alternate where we spend Christmas each year but some of my favourites have been where both families have combined all sitting around a big table passing around plates of food lots of laughter and playing games after dinner. I look forward to starting some of our own traditions this year.
The first presents under the tree along with some dropped needles

Homemade felt garland
Some of the blogs that have inspired me to share some photos with you include Elizabeth, Drea & Abigail. Be sure to stop by and check out their beautiful homes and also make sure you check our Drea's super Easy Christmas Tree Garland Tutorial (which inspired me to make my garland above)
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